Archive | February 28th, 2020

If Venezuelan Embassy Protectors Are Retried, Jury Should Hear About US Crimes

By Prof. Marjorie Cohn

Global Research,

On February 28, federal prosecutors will announce whether they plan to retry four people who spent 37 days in the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, D.C., in the spring of 2019 to protect it from an illegal invasion by the U.S. government. The first trial of Adrienne Pine, Margaret Flowers, Kevin Zeese and David Paul, who were charged with “interfering with the protective functions” of the State Department, ended in a hung jury on February 14.

The Trump administration has been trying to engineer a coup d’état against the lawfully elected Venezuelan government of Nicolás Maduro and install the U.S. puppet Juan Guaidó. To that end, Washington continues to impose unlawful, punishing sanctions against Venezuela that have contributed to “the largest economic collapse in a country outside of war since at least the 1970s,” according to The New York Times. The sanctions have led to the deaths of at least 40,000 Venezuelans. On February 13, Venezuela filed a complaint against the United States in the International Criminal Court, claiming that the sanctions constitute crimes against humanity.

Pine, Flowers, Zeese and Paul, who are members of the Embassy Protection Collective, stayed in the embassy with permission of the Venezuelan government until U.S. law enforcement illegally evicted them on May 16, 2019. They were part of a group of 70 people. The rest had left after the U.S. government cut off water and electricity and refused to allow food into the embassy.

The embassy raid violated the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which forbids U.S. agents from entering the Venezuelan embassy without the consent of the Maduro government. The raid also violated the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR), which requires that the U.S. government “respect and protect the consular premises,” including the property therein. The VCCR provides that if diplomatic relations between Venezuela and the United States are broken, they could agree to entrust the custody of the embassy to a third country. Although such a protecting power agreement was being negotiated by the United States, Venezuela, Switzerland and Turkey, the U.S. government opted instead to storm the embassy and arrest the protectors.US Illegally Evicts Protectors from Venezuelan Embassy

At trial, Chief Judge Beryl Howell refused to admit significant relevant evidence. She limited what the jury heard to events that took place between May 13, when a trespass notice was served on the protectors in the embassy, through their May 16 arrest. Flowers spoke to two jurors after the trial — the foreperson who voted to convict and a lawyer who voted to acquit. “They were very curious about the facts of the case. They were totally confused,” Flowers told Truthout. “When I explained that Maduro is the president, not Guaidó, and that this is a failed U.S. coup and the U.S. violated international law by raiding the embassy, the foreperson said she would have voted to acquit us in two minutes if she had known the full story.” The judge excluded that evidence because she thought “it would confuse the jury,” Flowers said. “In the end, it was the absence of those facts that created confusion. The jury said that the case didn’t make sense to them.”

The judge advised the jury that Guaidó was president of Venezuela because of a law that says the U.S. president decides whom to recognize as the leader of a foreign government. For more than a year, Trump has been trying to carry out illegal regime change in Venezuela. In a moment of rare (but shameful) bipartisanship, Trump was given a standing ovation by Democratic as well as Republican members of Congress during his 2020 State of the Union address when he introduced Guaidó as the president of Venezuela.

Trump’s federal prosecutors will in all likelihood retry the four embassy protectors. “A second trial raises the stakes for the Trump administration,” Ajamu Baraka, co-chair of the Venezuelan Embassy Protectors Defense Committee, said in a statement. “The world is seeing the charade of a trial based on the false claim that Guaidó is president when he has not been president for one nanosecond and is no longer even the president of the National Assembly. A second prosecution will look vindictive and a second mistrial or an acquittal will be a blow to the failed coup which is already on its last legs.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. government continues to mount a campaign of aggression against Venezuela. Frustrated with its inability to execute regime change, the Trump administration is reportedly considering a naval blockade to overthrow the Maduro government. A military blockade would violate the United Nations Charter, which forbids the use or threat of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of another country. And the Charter of the Organization of American States prohibits a nation from intervening in the internal or external affairs of another country.

Whether the four protectors are ultimately retried, the Embassy Protection Collective has focused international attention on the Trump administration’s illegal attempts to change Venezuela’s government and punishment of its people with unlawful sanctions. The Embassy Protectors Defense Committee is calling for all charges to be dropped against the four protectors and is seeking support for their legal defense. Both the White House and members of Congress should be confronted over the illegal and immoral aggression that the U.S. is perpetrating against the people of Venezuela.

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Syrian Idlib: military no-fly-zone

The Syrian army announced on Sunday imposing a no-fly-zone over the country’s battlefield Idlib Province, saying any hostile aircraft will be targeted, according to the state news agency SANA.

The airspace over northwestern Syria, particularly Idlib, is closed to any flight or drones and any aircraft violating the airspace will be dealt with as a hostile target and will be shot down, said the statement.

The new decision comes on the heels of the current tension with Turkey, which is backing the rebel groups in Idlib.

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The US-India Strategic Partnership: Geopolitical Pivot In Favor of US After Trump’s Delhi Visit

By Andrew Korybko

Global Research,

India’s gradual geopolitical pivot towards the US — hitherto deceptively disguised as “multi-aligning” between Great Powers — is complete after Trump’s successful visit, during which time the two countries agreed to a $3 billion arms deal and a memorandum of understanding on boosting energy ties, prompting Prime Minister Modi to proudly declare that they had just established a “comprehensive global strategic partnership”.

“Comprehensive Global Strategic Partners”

The “comprehensive global strategic partnership” between India and the US that Prime Minister Modi proudly announced on Tuesday during the last day of Trump’s trip to the South Asian state conclusively debunks the claim that India’s years-long policy of supposedly “multi-aligning” between Great Powers was ever anything other than a deceptive cover for disguising its geopolitical pivot towards the American-envisaged world order. This outcome should have been predictable enough for any objective observers who were aware of the powerful trends influencing their bilateral relations in recent years. India’s import of Russian weapons dropped a whopping 42% over the past decade only to be replaced by a combination of American, “Israeli“, and French ones instead according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), so it wasn’t surprising that they just inked a $3 billion military deal during Trump’s visit. The American President boasted during their jointstatement that his country’s exports to India surged by nearly 60% since he entered into office, which was greatly assisted by a staggering 500% increase in energy exports, thus explaining the progress that the two leaders said that they’re making on clinching a free trade deal and the memorandum of understanding that they signed for increasing their energy cooperation even further.

Energy Geopolitics

It deserves to be mentioned that Indian media reported prior to Trump’s trip that the US wants to double its oil exports to India, and Reuters also announced just last week that India’s two Venezuelan-oil-importing companies (which together make India the Bolivarian Republic’s top energy customer) declared that they’ll comply with American sanctions against the South American state’s Russian intermediary. The author analyzed this in detail in his piece earlier in the week titled “Venezuela’s Next Economic Shock Might Come From India’s Compliance With US Sanctions“, which compared India’s sell-out of Venezuela to what it had done to Iran less than a year prior in order to court further favor with the US and prevent coming under its so-called “secondary sanctions”. If the trend of US-Indian energy cooperation continues along its current trajectory, then America will soon supply its South Asian partner with approximately five times as much oil as Russia is slated to do after its latest deal earlier this month that the author also analyzed at the time in his piece titled “The Russian-Indian Oil Deal Is An ‘Unpleasant Surprise’ For Iran, Not The US“. Considering the aforementioned military and energy developments as well as India’s leading position in the US’ “Indo-Pacific Strategy” for “containing” China, it’s little wonder that they decided to go public with their “comprehensive global strategic partnership”.

Warning After Warning Was Ignored

The author has been warning about this destabilizing inevitability for nearly the past four years, having first published a two-part article series at The Duran in May 2016 rhetorically asking “Is India Now A US Ally” and subsequently analyzing “The Threat To Russia And China From India’s New Pro-US Realignment” following reports that it was discussing a “Logistics Exchange Memorandum Of Agreement” (LEMOA) with the US which would allow the latter’s military forces the right to receive so-called “logistical assistance” at certain Indian bases on a case-by-case basis. India not only agreed to LEMOA later that year, but it also signed a “Communications, Compatibility, Security Agreement” (COMCASA) with the US in 2018 after becoming its first-ever “Major Defense Partner” on par with so-called “Major Non-NATO Allies”. As the proverbial “icing on the cake”, the US even renamed its Pacific Command the “Indo-Pacific Command” to emphasize the leading role that India is envisaged to play as the Pentagon’s “Lead From Behind” partner all across the broad swath of Southern, Southeastern, and Eastern Eurasia throughout the 21st century. Against this geostrategic backdrop, Trump predictably declared in his joint statement with Modi that the two countries “are revitalizing the Quad Initiative” in spite of India recently renewing its strategic partnership with Russia, which is extremely suspicious of this trans-hemispheric military project. Even though the Indian Ambassador to Russia regards his host country as being one of India’s “global partners” and the Eurasian Great Power is indeed strengthening relations with its South Asian counterpart in order to “balance” China, Moscow will always be second to Washington for New Delhi due to these aforementioned reasons.

RT Is Almost Always Wrong About India Nowadays

As explained above, the “comprehensive global strategic partnership” that Modi just proudly declared between India and the US was an obvious inevitability that was timed to coincide with Trump’s recent visit to the country, though two of RT’s new op-ed contributors surprisingly didn’t see it coming. Abhijit Majumder and Ashish Shukla, both senior Indian journalists, were extremely skeptical about the outcome of this trip in their two recent pieces titled “Beyond Modi-Trump hugs and promises: Why India must play hardball over US president’s Delhi visit” and “Forget substance, Trump gets the optics he craved in India“, respectively. The first-mentioned believed that India would play ‘hard to get’ with Trump while the latter thought that nothing of substance would result from his visit, and both were totally wrong. India folded on Venezuela in the run-up to the summit and also banned Chinese tech companies from participating in government tenders, after which Modi eagerly gave Trump a $3 billion military deal, an energy agreement, and a “comprehensive global strategic partnership” that he can tout during the campaign trail as proof of his success in “prying India away from Putin” and making substantial progress in “containing” China. For all intents and purposes, India has now become the US’ “junior partner” in the “Indo-Pacific”, which should be incorporated into all forthcoming analyses by those two RT contributors if they hope to remain credible after their latest articles were so dramatically discredited.

Concluding Thoughts

India’s geopolitical pivot into one of the US’ most globally important military-strategic partners is now complete following Trump’s very successful trip to the South Asian state. The over-hyped slogan of “multi-alignment” has been thoroughly exposed as fraudulent though it’ll probably continue to be repeated from time to time in a last-ditch attempt to mislead India’s “fellow” Russian and Chinese BRICS & SCO “partners”. The new (but not unpredictable) reality of India as America’s newest “junior partner” doesn’t mean that its relations with those two Great Powers will be irreconcilably damaged, however, since each of them have their own interests for maintaining strategic ties with the country and even improving them along various trajectories. This includes Russia’s military and energy interests, China’s commercial ones, and their joint desire to cooperate with India to shape new international financial architecture. Nevertheless, this inevitable development adds yet another layer of complexity to the already complicated geopolitics of the New Cold War, reducing Russia and China’s strategic maneuverability and limiting their overall options. As a result, both of them might come even closer together to improve their collective potential, though this scenario might be offset if Russian strategists continue to bet on “balancing” China with India despite the latter nowadays being the US’ “junior partner”.

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1 in 5 Europeans says secret Jewish cabal runs the world, survey finds

In each of the countries polled, a representative sample of 1,000 adults was presented with 45 questions or statements in face-to-face interviews about Jews and ‘Israel’.

Protesters hold placards and flags during a demonstration, organised by the British Board of Jewish Deputies for those who oppose antisemitism, in Parliament Square in London. (photo credit: HENRY NICHOLLS/REUTERS)

Protesters hold placards and flags during a demonstration, organised by the Zionist British Board of Jewish Deputies for those who oppose antisemitism, in Parliament Square in London.

A secret network of Jews influences global political and economic affairs.That’s the feeling among a fifth of the 16,000 respondents to a survey among Europeans from 16 countries. The same number also agreed with the statement that “Jews exploit Holocaust victimhood for their own needs.”

The survey was presented Monday at a conference about antisemitism organized in Paris  by the European Zionist Association. It was conducted in December and January in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Poland, among other countries.

Other findings:* A quarter of respondents agreed with the statement that Israel’s policies make them understand why some people hate Jews.* More than a quarter concurred with the statement that “Israel is engaged in legitimate self defense against its enemies.”

A quarter of respondents disagreed and 46% did not express a position.* More than a third agreed with the assertion that “During World War II, people from our nation suffered as much as Jews.”

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Nazi Jewish Settlers Attack Palestinian Shepherd in Jordan Valley

Nazi Jewish settlers, backed by Nazi soldiers, often prevent Palestinian shepherds from herding in the occupied West Bank. (Photo: File)

A group of armed Nazi Jewish settlers attacked today a Palestinian shepherd while he was grazing his livestock near Khirbet Yarza, west of the Jordan Valley, according to a local activist.

Aref Daraghmeh, a human rights activist, said that a group armed Nazi Jewish settlers beat up Faysal Masaeed and threatened to shoot him while he was grazing his livestock.

Lior Amihai@lioramihai

Breaking @YeshDin: 2 incidents of settler violence occurred earlier today, Saturday.

According to residents of As-Sawiya, east of Salfit, at around 3:30 pm, a group estimated at over 20 Nazi Jewish settlers reportedly came from the Rahelim outpost and attacked 2 farmers – a father and son.

View image on Twitter

Khirbet Yarza is a marginalized hamlet, and most of its lands are planted with Israeli landmines. 

The residents of Yarza, located in the area designated as C, which is under full Nazi military rule, make a living off shepherding and live in natural caves, in shacks, or in tents. Over the years, the Civil Administration has repeatedly demolished the community’s structures.

In Palestine Today@InPalToday

Ten native farmers were heading to their lands to plant trees when settlers held them and called the Nazi army, who rushed to the area and expelled the farmers claiming that the lands are located in area C and that their owners cannot reach them anymore.#Palestine

View image on Twitter

Palestinian journalist and editor of The Palestine Chronicle, Ramzy Baroud, commented:

“Unfortunately for Masafer Yatta, and those living in ‘Area C’, however, the degree of control is so suffocating that every aspect of Palestinian life – freedom of movement, education, access to clean water, and so on – is controlled by a complex system of Israeli military ordinances that have no regard whatsoever for the well-being of the beleaguered communities.”

Nazi Jewish settlers, backed by Nazi soldiers, often prevent Palestinian shepherds from herding in the open pastures of the occupied West Bank in order to force them to abandon the area.

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