Archive | February 19th, 2020

US Middle East “Peace Deal” Designed to Perpetuate Conflict

By Tony Cartalucci

Global Research,

February 19, 2020Region: Middle East & North AfricaUSATheme: Law and JusticeMedia DisinformationIn-depth Report: PALESTINE

A deal that is entirely unacceptable to one of its principal parties isn’t a deal at all. In the case of the US-proposed “Middle East peace plan” – unsurprisingly endorsed by the US and Israel and few others – everything about it is designed to sabotage peace and perpetuate conflict – perhaps even expand it.

The London Guardian in its article, “Palestinians cut ties with Israel and US after rejecting Trump peace plan,” would note what are obvious conditions Palestine could not and should not accept:

The blueprint, endorsed by the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, calls for the creation of a demilitarised Palestinian state that would exclude Jewish settlements built in occupied territory and remain under near-total Israeli security control.

Demilitarizing Palestine and subjecting it to occupation blatantly illegal under international law and what would undoubtedly be continued Israeli aggression, provocations, and encroachment is akin to unconditional surrender and subjugation – conditions no government could be expected to accept with Palestine being no exception.

An op-ed published by Al Jazeera titled, Trump’s Middle East plan may have a silver lining: Trump’s plan will not make the Palestinians’ lives better, but it could help dismantle the disastrous Oslo order,” would aptly describe the deal as:

Basically, Trump’s plan promises the Israelis an almost full realisation of the Zionist objectives to establish a Jewish state on all of historic Palestine, while offering the Palestinians “prosperous apartheid”, ie life under occupation with more money but no dignity and basic rights.

Of course, promises of money may or may not be fulfilled. A Palestine rendered defenseless and entirely dependent on ill-willed sponsors has no way to ensure such promises are fulfilled.Trump’s “Deal of the Century” For the Middle East? Which Century?

Thus the “peace plan” is yet another demonstration of Washington’s continued malign presence in the Middle East and its absolute disinterest in changing course. The Guardian would also note that several Arab allies of the US would side with Washington’s proposal, prioritizing joint belligerence toward Iran rather than solidarity with Palestine.

Helping ease Arab allies of Washington out of their pretend concern for Palestine will – Washington hopes – help them focus entirely on US plans to create a united front against Iran as US power and influence in the region slips.

Politics and Power, Not Religion 

This disingenuous and counterproductive “peace plan” does however help illustrate that the current, ongoing conflict in the Middle East is not driven by religion, neither Zionist nor Islamic extremism, but rather by politics and in particular – designs to maintain Western hegemony in the region that has existed since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Religion and its perversion through extremism is simply used to augment and propel these designs.

Were the conflict purely a matter of religion – Sunni and Shia’a soldiers wouldn’t be fighting side-by-side in Syria against US-sponsored terrorists. Arab nations would not be abandoning Palestine in favor of joining the US and Israel in their collective belligerence against Iran. And no nation in the region – save for Israel – would accept the most recent “peace plan” proposed by the US.

Seeing through a “peace plan” intentionally designed to further inflame emotions and deepen divides and understanding the true interests driving regional conflict will help establish common ground rather than erode it. The actual people living in Israel have more in common with ordinary people living in Palestine than with the current circle of special interests dominating the Israeli government.

Ordinary people seek peace and stability – to live out their lives and provide for their families. Tensions and the conflicts they lead to only disrupt ordinary people from achieving this basic desire – whether they are Israelis or Palestinians.

The US proposal illustrates to people on either side of the divide that the US is not an honest broker and that the current process posing as pursuing peace should be dismantled.

Because of this, and just as the US has faded from other areas of the world and even from other areas within the Middle East – the US will fade from prominence regarding the Israeli-Palestinian question – hopefully opening the way for more honest brokers to move in and propose a genuine peace deal that will right injustices and provide for the best interests of ordinary people rather than merely pose as doing so while serving the interests of a malign few.

Posted in Middle East, USA, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on US Middle East “Peace Deal” Designed to Perpetuate Conflict

EU Nations Push for Bloc’s Recognition of State of Palestine

Meanwhile, the US said its ambassador to Israel will lead a U.S.-Israel committee on annexing Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

By Telesur

A group of European Union (EU) countries led by Luxembourg is planning to present Monday to the EU’s foreign affairs ministers, an initiative for the recognition of the state of Palestine by the bloc​​​​​, Haaretz reported Sunday.

Luxembourg’s Foreign Affairs Minister Jean Asselborn has already discussed the proposal with his counterparts from Ireland, France, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Finland, Sweden, Malta, and Slovenia.

The plan comes as a response to United States President Donald Trump’s ‘peace’ deal for the Middle East, which was rejected by the Palestinian Authority (PA), the Arab league and a large part of the international community.

EU’s new Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borell had said that Trump’s plan questions “the 1967 border, as agreed by both parties, with State of Israel and an independent, viable state of Palestine, living side-by-side in peace, security, and mutual recognition.”

According to Haaretz, Israeli ambassadors in Europe were asked to pressure the foreign ministries in the countries where they are set, to not reject Trump’s plan.

Nine out of the 28 EU member states recognize Palestine but the bloc as a whole does not.

In 2014, Sweden became the first EU country to recognize Palestine. Malta and Cyprus had recognized Palestine before joining the EU, as did a number of Eastern and Central European states when they were part of the Soviet Union.EU Rejects Trump Middle East Peace Plan, Annexation

However, some of these countries, like the Czech Republic, for instance, have emerged as Israel’s closest allies in Europe. Cyprus for its part is not taking part in the current initiative due to the close relations it has developed with Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government hopes thus that Europe will not be able to take action. In the past, Eastern and Central European members, led by Hungary, blocked a number of initiatives intended to force Israel to comply with international law and United Nations resolutions. The Jewish state hopes the same thing will happen again this time.

US Ambassador to Lead Israeli Annexing Committee

In the meantime, the U.S. said Sunday that its ambassador to Israel David Friedman will lead a joint U.S.-Israel committee on annexing Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The committee was announced last month by Trump following the unveiling of his plan.​​​​​​​ The White House issued a map detailing the annexations that would leave a fragmented archipelago of Palestinian-controlled zones in the West Bank.

Trump said the committee’s objective would be to “convert the conceptual map” into a “more detailed and calibrated rendering so that recognition can be immediately achieved.”

According to polls published by Israeli media, most Israelis are in favor of annexing the settlements.

The U.S. proposal for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the product of three years of effort by Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner. Apart from the annexation of all the settlements in the occupied West Bank, the plan allows Israel to annex the strategic Jordan Valley and grants the Jewish state the whole city of Jerusalem as a capital.

The Palestinians are offered limited self-rule in Gaza, small chunks of the West Bank, a village in the outskirts of Jerusalem as a capital, and some desert areas of Israel, in exchange for complying with a long list of conditions.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, USA, Europe, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on EU Nations Push for Bloc’s Recognition of State of Palestine

Venezuela: Guaido is a Fake President

Guaido is a “Fake President”. “Lima Group” to Meet in Canada: Open Letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

By Nino Pagliccia

Global Research,

Re: “Lima Group” meeting of February 20, 2020 in Gatineau, Quebec

18 February 2020

Dear Prime Minister Justin Trudeau:

I am addressing you as a concerned Canadian regarding Canada’s foreign policy position vis-à-vis Venezuela.

Your government has announced a meeting of the so-called Lima Group on February 20, 2020 for the reported purpose of “build[ing] on [Juan] Guaido’s recent international travels.”

In fact, I have read with great distress about your meeting in Ottawa with Mr. Guaidó who many, including myself, regard as an impostor from Venezuela. Your government has recognised Juan Guaidó as the “interim president” of Venezuela, title that he unconstitutionally bestowed upon himself without ever participating in democratic presidential elections. At the same time, your government has declared as illegitimate the presidency of Nicolas Maduro who was elected in democratic elections as witnessed by international observers.

Can you tell Canadians why your government recognises a self-appointed “president”, contrary to Canada’s proclaimed principle of democratic and constitutional order and, more importantly, contrary to the UN recognition of the Maduro government together with 120 UN member States? Is Canada operating outside the global institution of the United Nations?

Mr. Guaidó has no legitimate claim to the presidency of Venezuela. He appointed himself on a street in Caracas. As I mentioned, he has never participated in presidential elections, and as an impostor he has made several coup attempts such as the one in April 2019 against the constitutional government of Venezuela. Those are the qualifications of your protégé.

Can you tell Canadians why your government tolerates undemocratic actions in other countries – including the recent military coup in Bolivia directed against the indigenous people of that country – while it represses legitimate protests of the Wet’suwet’en First Nations in Canada defending their ancestral land from threats of environmental devastation?

Only a small minority in Venezuela supports Mr. Guaidó. However, while Venezuelans have a sovereign right to resolve their differences based on their constitutionally granted freedoms and legal system, Canada – your government – has no business in interfering by any international standard except a bullying attitude.

Can you tell Canadians which international law gives your government the right to interfere in Venezuela?

I am sure that you would not conceive of any foreign country interfering or intervening in the internal affairs of Canada.

Can you tell Canadians the logic of your government’s blatant double standard?Open Letter to Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau. “Interim President of Venezuela Juan Guaidó to visit Canada”

As we all know, the OAS has not been able to gather the sufficient number of votes to condemn the legitimate government of Venezuela – when still an OAS member – because the majority of OAS member States correctly opted to abide by Article 19, Chapter IV of the OAS Charter that specifically states, “No State or group of States has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State.” Nevertheless, your government has taken upon itself the role of co-opting a splinter group of about a dozen OAS countries called “Lima Group” with no other purpose than delegitimise the government of Nicolas Maduro.

Can you tell Canadians why your government has taken such a position – that knowingly breaks international law – to interfere in Venezuelan affairs?

Many in Canada question the close alignment of Canadian foreign policy with US foreign policy that is fully evident in the military interventions in the Middle East on the side of the US. In reference to Venezuela, I am aware that on September 5, 2017 the Canadian government formed a bilateral Association with the US government. The Association called on the two members to take “economic measures” against Venezuela and persons close to the Venezuelan government. To implement this decision, on September 22, 2017, Canada imposed its own unilateral sanctions against Venezuela, Venezuelan officials and other individuals. These were followed by further sanctions.

Can you tell Canadians why Canadian foreign policy is so aligned with US foreign policy whereby the two governments are imposing an economic and financial blockade against Venezuela in an attempt to paralyse its economy, and cause severe suffering and deaths among the civilian population?

I am aware that your government has developed a “Joint Action Plan on Critical Minerals Collaboration” with the US. The announcement of the Plan stated the importance of, “advancing our mutual interest in securing supply chains for the critical minerals needed for important manufacturing sectors, including communication technology, aerospace and defence, and clean technology.” Of particular concern is the statement, “The Action Plan will guide cooperation in areas such as industry engagement; efforts to secure critical minerals supply chains for strategic industries and defence.”It is well known that Venezuela holds the largest proven oil reserves as well as large reserves of minerals including gold. I am also aware of the Canadian corporate interest in Venezuelan gold that have enticed corporations like Crystallex to put legal claims in US courts against illegally seized Venezuelan-owned oil company Citgo.

Can you tell Canadians that your government is not pursuing a regime change in Venezuela guided by an imperialist agenda of “securing critical minerals supply chains”, which Mr. Guaidó seems more than willing to allow (without authority) contrary to the will of the majority of Venezuelans?

Finally, given Canada’s record of a foreign policy prone to involvements in wars like in the Middle East, and turning a blind eye to human rights violations for the sake of arms sale like in Saudi Arabia, I doubt Canada’s impartial role in global decisions based on sound principles of non-aggression, non-intervention, human security, and respect for human life and dignity. Certainly, your government’s association with countries of the “Lima Group” that have serious human rights records like Colombia does not lend your government much credibility.

Can you tell Canadians why Canada deserves a seat at the UN Security Council, as you are currently campaigning for?

Mr. Trudeau, I expect you to address explicitly all the questions I posed above for my sake and the sake of many in Canada who share my concerns.

I will continue to express my utmost rejection of your government interference in the domestic affairs of Venezuela based on principles of international law, on principles of democratic values that should not be biased and have double standards, as well as on principles of not causing harm and hardship to a population that has no ill intentions against Canada.

I urge the Canadian government to leave the “Lima Group”, end all sanctions against Venezuela and pursue a path of cooperation, dialogue and peace-building in the region. I assure you that it is possible to pursue respectful trade relationship while following different social path like in the case of Canada and Cuba.

Let it be known that it is not Venezuela that constitutes a danger to regional peace nor its socialist path, but rather the warfare, aggression, threats and siege of yours and the US government.

Venezuelans are a people with a resolve for self-determination and sovereignty.

Venezuelans are a peace-loving people that do not wish any harm to others.

I know this because I am a Venezuelan-Canadian pledging my loyalty to social justice.

Respectfully,

Nino Pagliccia
Vancouver, Canada

Posted in USA, Canada, VenezuelaComments Off on Venezuela: Guaido is a Fake President

Russian Air Force carries out heavy attack near Turkish border

The Russian Air Force resumed their aerial assault in western Aleppo and western Idlib on Wednesday, as their warplanes targeted several areas under the control of the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP) and Saudi Zio-Wahhabi Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS).

According to reports from northwestern Syria, the Russian Air Force heavily targeted the western region of the Aleppo Governorate, hitting a number of sites near the town of Daret ‘Izza.

Furthermore, the Russian Air Force carried out a number of raids near the Turkish border, with a high concentration of these strikes targeting the Jisr Al-Shughour District of the western countryside Idlib.

This latest string of airstrikes by the Russian Air Force comes just a day after the ceasefire talks between Moscow and Ankara collapsed.

The two countries are expected to meet once again in the next 24 hours in order to come to an agreement on the Idlib Governorate.

Posted in Russia, Syria, TurkeyComments Off on Russian Air Force carries out heavy attack near Turkish border

Nazi regime is taking offensive against Iran in Syria

Nazi Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said on Wednesday that his country is taking an offensive approach towards Iran after spending much of the Syrian conflict on the defensive.

According to Zionist Ynet News on Wednesday, Nazi Bennett said, “Iran has nothing to look for in Syria,” stessing that Israel has stepped up its pressure against the Islamic Republic in Syria and in other nations that were not named.

Nazi Bennett explained that “the Iranian octopus” is immune, and that his country uses most of its energy, power, or national security to exert pressure on Iran, whether it is economic, political, psychological, intelligence, or military.

The Nazi Minister of Defense previously stated on Tuesday that his Nazi regime has monitored the features of the “weak Iranian role” in the region, by referring to attacks carried out by his Nazi regime against sites allegedly belonging to Iran in Syria and Lebanon in recent years.

“There are preliminary indications of weakness and studying a new course for Iran in Syria,” Nazi Bennett said during his participation in a conference on security technologies, as reported by the Zionist channel (I24 News) .

“Israel is moving from a defensive concept to an offensive one, and the octopus head must be weakened and destroyed, in order to hit its arms,” ​​Nazi Bennett added.

Posted in Middle East, ZIO-NAZI, Iran, SyriaComments Off on Nazi regime is taking offensive against Iran in Syria

NATO Wars Against Freedom, Justice and Humanity

By Mark Taliano

Global Research,

NATO commits Supreme International War Crimes Against Peace as military doctrine. The criminality is normalized. Perceptions are inverted and Western populations are hypnotized to believe that NATO and its serial war crimes are making us safe.

Hidden from view is the fact that 90% of people killed in modern wars are civilians. (1) War is not an “adventure”. All of these terms, “rebels”, “adventure” serve warmongering psychopaths alone, sitting in their rocking chairs.

Tell the slaves digging tunnels for ISIS/al Qaeda that it is an “adventure”. Tell the people being terrorized, bombed, tortured, crippled, and beheaded by NATO death squads that it is an adventure. Tell the kids dying due to lack of medications and dirty water that it is an adventure. Tell the people being kidnapped and sold as sex slaves that it is an adventure.

70 corpses were discovered and most of them were handcuffed. Source

Everything that NATO and its allies do to Syria and Syrians is designed to destroy the people and the country. When industrial cities are destroyed and vandalized and looted, Syrians are disemployed and the economy suffers. This is all by design. NATO commands and controls it all.

Video: West’s War Against Syria Is Packed in Lies and Deceptions

When NATO countries steal the oil resources, it is a direct affront to the Syrian people who are facing a cold winter.

So, when the SAA liberated Aleppo (again) yesterday, the joy was palpable. It is the joy of liberation, the joy of freedom from Western-supported terrorism.

All of Syria will be soon free from the scourge of Western crimes against us all.

Posted in Middle East, Middle East, SyriaComments Off on NATO Wars Against Freedom, Justice and Humanity

Towards The Liberation of Idlib City

By: South Front

Syrian government forces did not stop their operation in Greater Idlib with the success in the western countryside of Aleppo city, and continued making gains in the province. During the past 24 hours, they took control of over 10 settlements.

Furthermore, they forced members of the mighty Idlib rebels to retreat from Sheikh Aqil, besieged another Turkish observation point, and set a foothold for a possible offensive on the city of Darat Izza.

This town, located 30km west of Aleppo, had an estimated population of approximately 42,000 in 2013. In the modern Syria, it is most-widely known as the stronghold of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham that hosts its key forces and facilities in this part of the province.

The fall of Darat Iazza into the hands of government troops will also disrupt a link between the Turkish-occupied Afrin region and armed groups hiding in the countryside of Idlib city. Thus, Ankara will not be able to freely redeploy its proxies from one part of northwestern Syria into another. On the same day, President Bashar al-Assad congratulated the Syrian people and the Syrian Army with the victory in western Aleppo.Video Player00:0003:41

However, he said that this achievement “does not mean the end of the war” and declared that the military will continue combating terrorism in the provinces of Aleppo and Idlib. Turkish threats to launch a war on Syria if its forces do not stop their anti-terrorism campaign, al-Assad described as empty words. The televised speech of the president came amid reports that Hayat Tahrir al-Sham started evacuating its remaining weapon depots in the Mount Simeon District of Aleppo province towards the region of Afrin, and the border with Turkey west of Idlib.Video: Battle of Idlib and Prospects of Turkish-Syrian War

These developments indicate that the group does not really believe that it is able to defend Darat Izza in an open battle with the Syrian Army. It is interesting no note how the public rhetoric of pro-militant media outlets changes depending on the military successes of the Syrian Army.

During the previous stages of the conflict, they preferred to call the Damascus government a bloody dictatorship that is killing peaceful moderate rebels all around Syria. Then, it evolved into the regime fighting against the ‘Syrian revolution’, while ‘Assad sectarian militia’ evolved into ‘Assad forces’. After the deployment of the Syrian Army in the vicinity of Idlib city, ‘Assad forces’ started slowly becoming ‘government troops’. It seems that when the army enters the city itself, Idlib grant-eaters will welcome the internationally-recognized government. Taking into account the recent developments on the frontline, they probably should start preparing posters featuring great leader Bashar al-Assad immediately.

Therefore, the main hope of Idlib groups and their supporters is the Turkish diplomatic efforts in the framework of the Astana format. On February 17, Moscow and Ankara started a new round of negotiations on the situation in Idlib. The Turkish leadership’s current main goal is to stop the Syrian advance and to consolidate its own influence in the scraps of the militant-held part of Idlib. In turn, it will likely have to surrender a part of its lovely moderate rebel groups that are publicly linked with al-Qaeda.

If Russia and Turkey find no understanding on the situation, Ankara will continue making attempts to protect Idlib groups with a variant of military and diplomatic measures. This will likely lead to a further escalation of the conflict.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Towards The Liberation of Idlib City

Compliance 101: Gun-Toting Cops Endanger Students and Turn the Schools into Prisons

By: John W. Whitehead

Global Research,

“Every day in communities across the United States, children and adolescents spend the majority of their waking hours in schools that have increasingly come to resemble places of detention more than places of learning.”—Investigative journalist Annette Fuentes

Just when you thought the government couldn’t get any more tone-deaf about civil liberties and the growing need to protect “we the people” against an overreaching, overbearing police state, the Trump Administration ushers in even more strident zero tolerance policies that treat children like suspects and criminals, greater numbers of school cops, and all the trappings of a prison complex (unsurmountable fences, entrapment areas, no windows or trees, etc.).

The fallout has been what you’d expect, with the nation’s young people treated like hardened criminals: handcuffed, arrested, tasered, tackled and taught the painful lesson that the Constitution (especially the Fourth Amendment) doesn’t mean much in the American police state.

For example, in Florida, a cop assigned to River Ridge High School as a school resource officer, threatened to shoot a student attempting to leave school for a morning orthodontist appointment.

Screenshot from bodycam footage that captured a school resource officer in New Port Richey, Fla., threaten to shoot a student as he tried to leave school in December, 2019. (Pasco County Sheriff's Office)

Screenshot from bodycam footage that captured a school resource officer in New Port Richey, Fla., threaten to shoot a student as he tried to leave school in December, 2019. (Pasco County Sheriff’s Office)

In Pennsylvania, school officials called in the cops after a 6-year-old with Down syndrome pointed a finger gun at her teacher.

In Kentucky, a school resource officer with the sheriff’s office handcuffed two elementary school children with disabilities, ages 8 and 9. A federal judge made the sheriff’s office pay more than $300,000 (of taxpayer money) to the families, ruling that the handcuffing of  the students “was an unconstitutional seizure and excessive force.”

Welcome to Compliance 101: the police state’s primer in how to churn out compliant citizens and transform the nation’s school’s into quasi-prisons through the use of surveillance cameras, metal detectors, police patrols, zero tolerance policies, lock downs, drug sniffing dogs, strip searches and active shooter drills.

If you were wondering, these police state tactics have not made the schools any safer.

Rather, they’ve turned the schools into authoritarian microcosms of the police state, containing almost every aspect of the militarized, intolerant, senseless, overcriminalized, legalistic, surveillance-riddled, totalitarian landscape that plagues those of us on the “outside.”

Two years after President Trump announced his intention to “harden” the schools, our nation’s children are reaping the ill effects of gun-toting, taser-wielding cops in government-run schools that bear an uncomfortable resemblance to prisons.

America’s schools are about as authoritarian as they come.

From the moment a child enters one of the nation’s 98,000 public schools to the moment he or she graduates, they will be exposed to a steady diet of:

  • draconian zero tolerance policies that criminalize childish behavior,
  • overreaching anti-bullying statutes that criminalize speech,
  • school resource officers (police) tasked with disciplining and/or arresting so-called “disorderly” students,
  • standardized testing that emphasizes rote answers over critical thinking,
  • politically correct mindsets that teach young people to censor themselves and those around them,
  • and extensive biometric and surveillance systems that, coupled with the rest, acclimate young people to a world in which they have no freedom of thought, speech or movement.

Young people in America are now first in line to be searched, surveilled, spied on, threatened, tied up, locked down, treated like criminals for non-criminal behavior, tasered and in some cases shot.

In my day, if you talked back to a teacher, or played a prank on a classmate, or just failed to do your homework, you might find yourself in detention or doing an extra writing assignment after school.

That is no longer the case.

Nowadays, students are not only punished for minor transgressions such as playing cops and robbers on the playground, bringing LEGOs to school, or having a food fight, but the punishments have become far more severe, shifting from detention and visits to the principal’s office into misdemeanor tickets, juvenile court, handcuffs, tasers and even prison terms.

Students have been suspended under school zero tolerance policies for bringing to school “look alike substances” such as oreganobreath mints, birth control pills and powdered sugar.

Look-alike weapons (toy guns—even Lego-sized ones, hand-drawn pictures of guns, pencils twirled in a “threatening” manner, imaginary bows and arrows, even fingers positioned like guns) can also land a student in hot water.

Even good deeds do not go unpunished.

One 13-year-old was given detention for exposing the school to “liability” by sharing his lunch with a hungry friend. A third grader was suspended for shaving her head in sympathy for a friend who had lost her hair to chemotherapy. And then there was the high school senior who was suspended for saying “bless you” after a fellow classmate sneezed.

In South Carolina, where it’s against the law to disturb a school, more than a thousand students a year—some as young as 7 years old—“face criminal charges for not following directions, loitering, cursing, or the vague allegation of acting ‘obnoxiously.’ If charged as adults, they can be held in jail for up to 90 days.”

These outrageous incidents are exactly what you’ll see more of if the Trump Administration gets its way.

Increasing the number of cops in the schools only adds to the problem.

Thanks to a combination of media hype, political pandering and financial incentives, the use of armed police officers (a.k.a. school resource officers) to patrol school hallways has risen dramatically in the years since the Columbine school shooting.

Indeed, the growing presence of police in the nation’s schools is resulting in greater police “involvement in routine discipline matters that principals and parents used to address without involvement from law enforcement officers.”

Funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, these school resource officers (SRO) have become de facto wardens in elementary, middle and high schools, doling out their own brand of justice to the so-called “criminals” in their midst with the help of tasers, pepper spray, batons and brute force.Seventeen Killed in Mass Shooting at Florida High School

In the absence of school-appropriate guidelines, police are more and more “stepping in to deal with minor rulebreaking: sagging pants, disrespectful comments, brief physical skirmishes. What previously might have resulted in a detention or a visit to the principal’s office was replaced with excruciating pain and temporary blindness, often followed by a trip to the courthouse.”

The horror stories are legion.

One SRO was accused of punching a 13-year-old student in the face for cutting the cafeteria line.

That same cop put another student in a chokehold a week later, allegedly knocking the student unconscious and causing a brain injury.

In Pennsylvania, a student was tasered after ignoring an order to put his cell phone away.

When 13-year-old Kevens Jean Baptiste failed to follow a school bus driver’s direction to keep the bus windows closed (Kevens, who suffers from asthma, opened the window after a fellow student sprayed perfume, causing him to cough and wheeze), he was handcuffed by police, removed from the bus, and while still handcuffed, had his legs swept out from under him by an officer, causing him to crash to the ground.

Young Alex Stone didn’t even make it past the first week of school before he became a victim of the police state. Directed by his teacher to do a creative writing assignment involving a series of fictional Facebook statuses, Stone wrote, “I killed my neighbor’s pet dinosaur. I bought the gun to take care of the business.” Despite the fact that dinosaurs are extinct, the status fabricated, and the South Carolina student was merely following orders, his teacher reported him to school administrators, who in turn called the police.

What followed is par for the course in schools today: students were locked down in their classrooms while armed police searched the 16-year-old’s locker and bookbag, handcuffed him, charged him with disorderly conduct disturbing the school, arrested him, detained him, and then he was suspended from school.

Not even the younger, elementary school-aged kids are being spared these “hardening” tactics.

On any given day when school is in session, kids who “act up” in class are pinned facedown on the floor, locked in dark closets, tied up with straps, bungee cords and duct tape, handcuffed, leg shackled, tasered or otherwise restrained, immobilized or placed in solitary confinement in order to bring them under “control.”

In almost every case, these undeniably harsh methods are used to punish kids—some as young as 4 and 5 years old—for simply failing to follow directions or throwing tantrums.

Very rarely do the kids pose any credible danger to themselves or others.

Unbelievably, these tactics are all legal, at least when employed by school officials or school resource officers in the nation’s public schools.

This is what happens when you introduce police and police tactics into the schools.

Paradoxically, by the time you add in the lockdowns and active shooter drills, instead of making the schools safer, school officials have succeeded in creating an environment in which children are so traumatized that they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, nightmares, anxiety, mistrust of adults in authority, as well as feelings of anger, depression, humiliation, despair and delusion.

For example, a middle school in Washington State went on lockdown after a student brought a toy gun to class. A Boston high school went into lockdown for four hours after a bullet was discovered in a classroom. A North Carolina elementary school locked down and called in police after a fifth grader reported seeing an unfamiliar man in the school (it turned out to be a parent).

Police officers at a Florida middle school carried out an active shooter drill in an effort to educate students about how to respond in the event of an actual shooting crisis. Two armed officers, guns loaded and drawn, burst into classrooms, terrorizing the students and placing the school into lockdown mode.

If these exercises are intended to instill fear and compliance into young people, they’re working.

As journalist Dahlia Lithwick points out: “I don’t recall any serious national public dialogue about lockdown protocols or how they became the norm. It seems simply to have begun, modeling itself on the lockdowns that occur during prison riots, and then spread until school lockdowns and lockdown drills are as common for our children as fire drills, and as routine as duck-and-cover drills were in the 1950s.”

The toll such incidents take on adults can be life-altering, but when such police brutality is perpetrated on young people, the end result is nothing less than complete indoctrination into becoming compliant citizens of a totalitarian state.

Schools acting like prisons.

School officials acting like wardens.

Students treated like inmates and punished like hardened criminals.

This is the end product of all those so-called school “safety” policies, which run the gamut from zero tolerance policies that punish all infractions harshly to surveillance cameras, metal detectors, random searches, drug-sniffing dogs, school-wide lockdowns, active-shooter drills and militarized police officers.

Unfortunately, advocates for such harsh police tactics and weaponry like to trot out the line that school safety should be our first priority lest we find ourselves with another Sandy Hook.

What they will not tell you is that such shootings are rare.

As one congressional report found, the schools are, generally speaking, safe places for children.

In their zeal to crack down on guns and lock down the schools, these cheerleaders for police state tactics in the schools might also fail to mention the lucrative, multi-million dollar deals being cut with military contractors such as Taser International to equip these school cops with tasers, tanks, rifles and $100,000 shooting detection systems.

Indeed, the transformation of hometown police departments into extensions of the military has been mirrored in the public schools, where school police have been gifted with high-powered M16 rifles, MRAP armored vehicles, grenade launchers, and other military gear. One Texas school district even boasts its own 12-member SWAT team.

According to one law review article on the school-to-prison pipeline, “Many school districts have formed their own police departments, some so large they rival the forces of major United States cities in size. For example, the safety division in New York City’s public schools is so large that if it were a local police department, it would be the fifth-largest police force in the country.”

The ramifications are far-reaching.

There can be no avoiding the hands-on lessons being taught in the schools about the role of police in our lives, ranging from active shooter drills and school-wide lockdowns to incidents in which children engaging in typically childlike behavior are suspended (for shooting an imaginary “arrow” at a fellow classmate), handcuffed (for being disruptive at school), arrested (for throwing water balloons as part of a school prank), and even tasered (for not obeying instructions).

Instead of raising up a generation of freedom fighters—which one would hope would be the objective of the schools—government officials seem determined to churn out newly minted citizens of the American police state who are being taught the hard way what it means to comply, fear and march in lockstep with the government’s dictates.

So what’s the answer, not only for the here-and-now—the children growing up in these quasi-prisons—but for the future of this country?

How do you convince a child who has been routinely handcuffed, shackled, tied down, locked up, and immobilized by government officials—all before he reaches the age of adulthood—that he has any rights at all, let alone the right to challenge wrongdoing, resist oppression and defend himself against injustice?

Most of all, how do you persuade a fellow American that the government works for him when, for most of his young life, he has been incarcerated in an institution that teaches young people to be obedient and compliant citizens who don’t talk back, don’t question and don’t challenge authority?

Image on the right is from Shutterstock

Peter Gray, a professor of psychology at Boston College, believes that school is a prison that is damaging our kids, and it’s hard to disagree, especially with the numbers of police officers being assigned to schools on the rise.

Students, in turn, are not only finding themselves subjected to police tactics such as handcuffs, leg shackles, tasers and excessive force for “acting up” but are also being ticketed, fined and sent to court for behavior perceived as defiant, disruptive or disorderly such as spraying perfume and writing on a desk.

Clearly, the pathology that characterizes the American police state has passed down to the schools.

Now in addition to the government and its agents viewing the citizenry as suspects to be probed, poked, pinched, tasered, searched, seized, stripped and generally manhandled, all with the general blessing of the courts, our children in the public schools are also fair game for school resource officers who taser teenagersand handcuff kindergartners, school officials who have criminalized childhood behavior, school lockdowns and terror drills that teach your children to fear and comply, and a police state mindset that has transformed the schools into quasi-prisons.

Don’t even get me started on the “school-to-prison pipeline,” the phenomenon in which children who are suspended or expelled from school have a greater likelihood of ending up in jail. One study found that “being suspended or expelled made a student nearly three times more likely to come into contact with the juvenile justice system within the next year.”

By the time the average young person in America finishes their public school education, nearly one out of every three of them will have been arrested. Nearly 40 percent of those young people who are arrested will serve time in a private prison, where the emphasis is on making profits for large megacorporations above all else.

Indeed, this profit-driven system of incarceration has also given rise to a growth in juvenile prisons and financial incentives for jailing young people. In this way, young people have become easy targets for the private prison industry, which profits from criminalizing childish behavior and jailing young people.

None of these tactics are making our communities or schools any safer, and they’re certainly not contributing to environments in which learning flourishes. Incredibly, despite the fact that the U.S. invests more money in public education (roughly $13,000 per child per year) than many other developed countries, we rank around the middle of the pack in science, math and reading, and behind many other advanced industrial nations.

Without a doubt, change is needed, but that will mean taking on the teachers’ unions, the school unions, the educators’ associations, and the police unions, not to mention the politicians dependent on their votes and all of the corporations that profit mightily from an industrial school complex.

As we’ve seen with other issues, any significant reforms will have to start locally and trickle upwards.

For starters, parents need to be vocal, visible and organized and demand that school officials 1) adopt a policy of positive reinforcement in dealing with behavior issues; 2) minimize the presence in the schools of police officers and cease involving them in student discipline; and 3) insist that all behavioral issues be addressed first and foremost with a child’s parents, before any other disciplinary tactics are attempted.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, if you want a nation of criminals, treat the citizenry like criminals.

If you want young people who grow up seeing themselves as prisoners, run the schools like prisons.

If, on the other hand, you want to raise up a generation of freedom fighters, who will actually operate with justice, fairness, accountability and equality towards each other and their government, then run the schools like freedom forums.

Remove the metal detectors and surveillance cameras, re-assign the cops elsewhere, and start treating our nation’s young people like citizens of a republic and not inmates in a police state penitentiary.

Posted in USAComments Off on Compliance 101: Gun-Toting Cops Endanger Students and Turn the Schools into Prisons

The Rise of Sinn Féin: Dissecting Ireland’s February 2020 General Election and the State of the Nation

By Shane Quinn

Global Research,

In the Republic of Ireland, among the most notable outcome from last week’s general election outcome was a substantial rise in popularity for the left-leaning party, Sinn Féin, whose standing rose by 10.7% as they gained 15 parliamentary seats in the Dáil (Irish parliament) for a 37 seat total. As witnessed across Europe, a fall in support has occurred in Ireland pertaining to the establishment parties, Fine Gael – in power since 2011 – and Fianna Fáil, with both centre-right parties combined losing 19 seats in the election.

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil failed to amass 50% of first preference votes between themselves, whereas in the 2007 election they garnered almost 70% of the vote. It means that, even joining forces, these two parties with 73 elected members, do not have the required seats in which to form a majority government (80 seats needed).

Licking their wounds, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil leaders may attempt to woo the Green Party, who have a commendable focus on climate change, with the Greens gaining nine seats with a now 12 seat total, still modest enough. The three parties are entering talks this week and could formulate a “grand coalition” government in the time ahead, but it is not certain.

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are pointedly snubbing Sinn Féin, refusing even to negotiate with them. This shows a disregard for the 24.5% of the Irish electorate (more than half a million people) who voted for Sinn Féin candidates as a first preference, a larger percentage in comparison to those who voted for either Fine Gael (20.9%) or Fianna Fáil (22.2%).

Moreover, there is a deep-rooted fear among Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil ministers regarding the prospect of a left-of-centre party like Sinn Féin entering government, and the repercussions this could entail for them.

Still, there are indications since Mary Lou McDonald assumed leadership of Sinn Féin, in February 2018, from long-time president Gerry Adams, that the party has gradually been moving closer to the centre (1). Adams, aged 71 and from Belfast in the north of Ireland, was president of Sinn Féin for 34 years, which made him one of the world’s longest serving party leaders.

Up until his departure two years ago, Adams was attacked bitterly and unfairly by the Western media and numerous mainstream figures. This was primarily due to his extensive history of radical, civil rights and front-line activism, in effect against British imperial power and its offshoots. Adams’ political beliefs and his mistrust of the elite were also viewed as threats to the Irish establishment.

On 14 March 1984, Adams came close to being assassinated when he was shot in the neck, shoulder and arm by gunmen from the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), a murderous British-backed proxy group.

The attempted killing of Adams that day, along with three of his colleagues, was carried out with British Army and Intelligence complicity (2). It provides an insight into conditions on the ground at the time. Six weeks before this shooting, Adams had estimated there was a 90% chance that he would eventually be killed. He later survived further assassination attempts, including a hand grenade that was thrown into his home.

Much of these incidents have been swept under the rug. Remarkably, just five days after his shooting in 1984 Adams was walking around fully clothed and without protection, which was an example of his refusal to be intimidated. Adams admitted that British intelligence services “wanted myself and my comrades out of the way”, using their loyalist proxies like the UDA to do the dirty work (as they did elsewhere).

Focusing on the election again, a significant proportion of the Irish populace could not be described as radical or left-leaning. In spite of the decline of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, over 40% of the electorate (almost a million people) still decided to support these parties, regardless of their harmful policies. Some of those who chose Sinn Féin did so for reasons other than leftist sympathies, but out of frustration at traditional party ineptitude and desire for change. A considerable percentage of Sinn Féin’s new voters had previously supported Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil in the 2016 election.

A crucial reason that a sizable portion of the Irish public, through the generations, have remained cautious is due to the long-held presence of the Catholic Church in almost every city, town and village in Ireland. For decades, the Catholic Church has held a firm grip too on the Irish school system, which is of questionable enough quality on its own, without pupils also being indoctrinated through Roman-era Christianity, with all of its meekness and servility.

Since the 4th century AD, the Church has supported the rich and powerful practically without interruption, the opposite to what was intended by Christ and the message of the Gospels. Christianity was formerly based on a radical pacifist religion, but it was shifted from the 4th century onwards to become the religion of the Roman Empire, thereafter serving power, privilege and war in large measure. (3)

In Ireland, the influence of Catholicism has begun to wane only during the past generation, undermined by scandals and its inability to adapt to evolving beliefs; as revealed by the Church’s rigid stance during the 2018 vote on whether to legalise abortion, which was passed by two-thirds of the electorate. Nevertheless, the Church retains a good deal of power in Ireland, with 36% of people still attending mass services each week and 78% identifying as Catholic.

Ireland has faced enormous challenges due to its location on the map, where it lies adjacent to Britain, which for generations until the early 1900s was one of the world’s leading imperial powers. From the years 1801 to 1922, Ireland was ruled directly from London as part of “the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland”.Irish Election Result Is a Victory for Nationalism

The British government had a central role in exacerbating the worst tragedy in Irish history: The Great Famine (1845-1851), which killed over a million people through either mass starvation or disease. These horrific occurrences are almost impossible to contemplate today with the society awash with food of all kinds.

The Great Famine’s initial cause was a naturally occurring potato blight, which affected parts of Europe but Ireland
most severely – which was mainly reliant upon a single crop, the potato, a policy engineered by London. Furthermore, the British government’s capitalist economic system under prime minister John Russell, and its intentionally pitiful relief efforts, contributed greatly to the catastrophe.

The Irish population in 1840, five years before the Great Famine struck, comprised just over 8 million people. By 1850 it had dropped to 5 million, with many of those who avoided starvation and infectious diseases emigrating to America.

London had a pivotal role too in the partitioning of Ireland in 1921, which stands to the current day – along with the stoking of societal turmoil that took place in the north of Ireland, from the mid-to-late 20th century (“the Troubles”), resulting in many hundreds of deaths, hardship and sectarianism.

During this war in the north of Ireland which officially ended in 1998, the notorious British-supported loyalist paramilitaries killed almost 900 people, 85.5% of whom were civilians (4). It must be acknowledged that crimes were in fact committed on all sides, in what was a sometimes vicious conflict. At the root of this upheaval, lay the spectre of British dominance in the north of Ireland.

The Irish Republican Army (IRA), a branch of paramilitary organisations established from the early 20th century, was formed as a response to London’s control over Ireland. During the IRA’s existence, including that of its splinter groups, some serious misjudgments were made and occasional atrocities were committed in their war against British rule (5). However, the IRA’s actions were a tiny fraction as destructive in comparison to the assaults unleashed on Ireland by British actions. The mass media, in both Britain and Ireland, have for years portrayed the IRA as the real villains when it is a long way from the truth.

Meanwhile, time advances and circumstances change. According to the UN Human Development Index (HDI) Ireland now has the 3rd best living standard on earth, even higher than Germany, Sweden and the US (6). As useful as the HDI is, it has a few flaws and does not take into account rising homelessness in Ireland, growing levels of inequality, along with drug use and gambling problems.

Regarding the fall off of support for Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, the reasons behind it includes their support of implementation for crippling austerity measures following the recession of over a decade ago. Bank bailouts were furthermore ordered at the expense of a population left holding the bill, as many of the culprits responsible for the crash escaped without charge.

Influencing the Irish electorate also, has been the regression in health service standards and the deliberate attacks on social security which further erodes democracy, coupled with escalating rent and housing costs. It is effectively a class war that has been pursued. Overall results of this are even more severe in Europe by comparison to America. The European Union has pursued unnecessary, self-destructive actions under an autocratic and unelected troika (European Commission, European Central Bank and IMF). This in turn has destabilised the EU’s very foundations.

Establishment parties are simply unwilling, or perhaps unable, to address the above crises in a country like Ireland awash with money – plenty of which is directed towards the top 10% in society. (7)

Throughout its election campaign, Sinn Féin turned their focus towards issues of immediate relevance to people, such as the health and housing calamities, reaping rich rewards for them in the voting booths. Yet Sinn Féin’s strategy on climate change is far less encouraging, and they rank only slightly higher than Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil according to the assessments of climate experts, including John Sweeney, a climatologist of international renown. (8)

Just prior to voting, a paltry 3% of the Irish electorate felt Brexit to be their primary concern (9). Brexit did not feature heavily in party or media focus during the election build-up, as it was not centrally tied to key issues and is already becoming a somewhat secondary matter. More concerning, only 6% of Irish people quizzed felt climate change to be their key focus.

Lack of public awareness on climate change is at least partially as a result of endemic shortcomings in the Irish state, that is dominated to an unusual degree by a combination of multinational corporate power and EU bureaucracy, which largely controls government policy. Media coverage of climate change in Ireland has been inadequate, and is another core reason why the public are broadly unaware of how worrying the environmental issues are. (10)

Climate change poses ethical and moral questions which are hardly being answered in a satisfactory manner. Ireland continues to have one of the worst climate change records in Europe, which is inflicting reputational damage on the country, not to mention a culpability in the global climate crisis.

It is no coincidence that Ireland, an important cog in the neoliberal machine, has lagged sorely behind in its obligations to the environment. Surfacing in the 1970s as a response to 1960s popular activism, the ideology of neoliberalism – which among other things hugely increased private power and concentration of wealth – has been a decisive factor behind humanity’s inability to tackle either climate change, or reduce the possibility of nuclear war. (11)

Climate change is already having dire effects on populations in Asia, Africa, and elsewhere, much of whom comprise those contributing the least to the problem. For a number of years Ireland has been producing more greenhouse gases than 400 million of the earth’s poorest citizens, which is seldom reported (12).

Particularly revealing has been Ireland’s contribution to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), a UN international body which was formulated in December 2010 to raise money distributed from First World countries (the highest emitters) to those less well off states in the fight against climate change. By the end of 2016, Sweden was contributing €46.65 per capita to the Green Climate Fund, Denmark €9.33, while Ireland pledged a miserable €0.53 (13). This portrays an unabashed contempt for both the environment and those suffering the most, some classic hallmarks of the neoliberal era.

Ireland constitutes the largest corporate tax haven in the world, ahead of Singapore, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Ireland’s low corporation tax rate of 12.5% has been ruthlessly capitalised on, resulting in the country becoming a sanctuary for powerful and unaccountable multinationals (Google, Facebook, Apple, etc.) as is well known internationally. One of Taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varadkar’s first trips abroad was to the west coast of America in November 2017 for a “trade mission”, where he promptly met executives from Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Apple.

Relating to the press, Ireland has one of the highest concentrations of media ownership of any so-called democracy, with a hefty segment of it in the hands of figures like billionaire businessman Denis O’Brien.

O’Brien enjoys relations with the powerful Clinton family. Among other things, he has donated millions of dollars to the “Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation”. Donald Trump, himself a billionaire and then presidential candidate, linked O’Brien to his rival Hillary Clinton in an attempt to damage her. (14)

Posted in UKComments Off on The Rise of Sinn Féin: Dissecting Ireland’s February 2020 General Election and the State of the Nation

‘All Journalists at Risk’ if Assange Handed to US Jailers

By Ben Chacko

Global Research,

All journalists will be at risk if Julian Assange is extradited to the US and jailed for publishing classified information, a packed debate at London’s Frontline Club heard today.

Mr Assange faces up to 175 years behind bars if convicted of charges relating to the publication of documents, video and diplomatic cables exposing US war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Intervening from the floor, National Union of Journalists president Tim Dawson said that we needed to urgently wake up to the “monstrous” case against Mr Assange.

“If successful this will place every journalist under fear of it being used against them,” he said, citing advice from the Law Commission to the Theresa May government which recommended legal changes to allow those in receipt of classified information to be prosecuted as well as those who leaked it.

“When I published information relating to Britain’s complicity in torture I knew I risked going to jail,” former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray said. “But I’m shocked at the implication that the journalists who take and publish that information could go to jail.”

The Legal, Systemic and Reputational Implications of the Assange Case debate saw UN special rapporteur on torture Professor Nils Melzer describe the conclusions of two independent medical experts who examined Mr Assange that he was a victim of psychological torture.

“I was sure the British government would investigate,” he said. “After all this is not some rogue state.”

Yet all he received was an insulting tweet from then foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt accusing him of interfering in the British judicial system.

It took the government five months to formally reply to his report.

Pointing out that Mr Assange’s lawyers complained of being denied access to their client, he concluded:

“This case is in the hands of the public, because the judiciary has proved unable or unwilling to assure due process.”

Human rights lawyer Clive Stafford-Smith said that governments in Britain and the US increasingly tried to conflate “national security with political embarrassment,” while former New York Times general counsel James Goodale warned that the arrest of Glenn Greenwald in Brazil indicated other governments were already using the precedent of Assange’s prosecution to clamp down on critical journalism.

The debate, which took place under Chatham House Rules, also heard from journalist Peter Oborne on his dismay at the willingness of so many journalists to ignore or collude in the prosecution of Mr Assange.

Mr Oborne warned that the “rule of law, parliamentary democracy and free speech” were under attack across the West.

Former Foreign Office official Claire Smith spoke about the need for accountability on the part of organisations such as WikiLeaks.

It had been due to hear from former MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove, but he cancelled at late notice.

Posted in USA, Human Rights, MULTIMEDIA, MediaComments Off on ‘All Journalists at Risk’ if Assange Handed to US Jailers

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