Archive | March 11th, 2015

Is Venezuela Really an “Extraordinary Threat”?


U.S. Sanctions Top Officials as Tensions Grow



Tensions between the United States and Venezuela are increasing after the Obama administration declared Venezuela to be an “unusual and extraordinary threat to national security” and slapped sanctions on seven top officials for alleged human right violations and corruption. On Tuesday, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro asked the National Assembly for increased power to protect the country’s integrity and sovereignty from what he described as “imperialist aggression.” Relations between the United States and Venezuela have been decaying for the past few months. In December, President Obama signed legislation to impose sanctions on Venezuelan government officials accused of violating protesters’ rights during demonstrations last year when 43 people died, including demonstrators, government supporters and security officials.

On February 19, the mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, was arrested for allegedly being involved in a U.S.-backed coup plot. Days later, Venezuela announced it had arrested an unspecified number of Americans for engaging in espionage and recruitment activities. Venezuela also announced a series of measures, including visa requirements for U.S. citizens and restrictions and the downsizing of the U.S. Embassy in Caracas. This all comes as Venezuela faces an economic crisis in part because of the plummeting price of oil. We are joined by Miguel Tinker Salas, professor at Pomona College and author of the forthcoming book, “Venezuela: What Everyone Needs to Know.”


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Tensions between the United States and Venezuela are increasing after the Obama administration declared Venezuela to be an “extraordinary threat to national security” and slapped sanctions on seven top officials for alleged human right violations and corruption. On Tuesday, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro asked the National Assembly for increased power to protect the country’s integrity and sovereignty from what he described as, quote, “imperialist aggression.”

PRESIDENT NICOLÁS MADURO: [translated] President Obama has decided to put himself into a box with no way out, a box of failure. And he has decided that he wants to be remembered in the future like Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. President Obama will be remembered in the future for his decision today and the aggression against the Venezuelan people, the noble people, because the people of Venezuela are a peaceful people. President Obama, you don’t have a right to attack us nor to declare that Venezuela is a threat to the people of the United States. You are the threat to the people of the United States, you who decide to invade, to kill, to finance terrorism in the world.

AMY GOODMAN: At the State Department, spokesperson Jen Psaki defended the new sanctions against Venezuela.

JEN PSAKI: There are specific reasons why each of those individuals under the executive order were sanctioned. The United States remains an important trading partner, is actually Venezuela’s largest trading partner. And despite the statements to the contrary from Venezuelan officials, we are not promoting instability in Venezuela. Rather, we believe respect for democratic norms and human rights is the best guarantee of Venezuela’s stability, hence our executive order. So allegations that these actions are an attempt to undermine the Venezuelan government are false. The goal of these sanctions is to persuade the government of Venezuela to change their behavior.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Tensions between the United States and Venezuela have been escalating for the past few months. In December, President Obama signed legislation to impose sanctions on Venezuelan government officials accused of violating protesters’ rights during demonstrations last year when 43 people died, including demonstrators, government supporters and security officials. On February 19th, the mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, was arrested for allegedly being involved in a U.S.-backed coup plot. Days later, Venezuela announced it had arrested an unspecified number of Americans for engaging in espionage and recruitment activities. Venezuela also announced a series of measures including visa requirements for U.S. citizens and restrictions and the downsizing of the U.S. Embassy in Caracas. This all comes as Venezuela is facing an economic crisis in part because of the plummeting price of oil in recent months.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, for more, we go to Claremont, California, where we’re joined by Miguel Tinker Salas. He is a professor at Pomona College in Claremont. Tinker Salas is the author of The Enduring Legacy: Oil, Culture, and Society in Venezuela and the forthcoming book, Venezuela: What Everyone Needs to Know.

Miguel Tinker Salas, welcome back to Democracy Now!

MIGUEL TINKER SALAS: Good morning. Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: If you can start off by talking about the significance of President Obama declaring Venezuela to be an “extraordinary threat” to the national security of the United States?

MIGUEL TINKER SALAS: Well, I think it’s a dramatic escalation, and largely an unnecessary escalation, of existing tensions between both countries. What is the objective of this? Is the objective here to appease the right in the U.S.—

AMY GOODMAN: Looks like the video has just frozen. But let us go for a—ah, here. Professor Tinker Salas, go right ahead.

MIGUEL TINKER SALAS: Yes. Well, I think that it’s an unnecessary and a dramatic escalation of tensions between both countries. It comes on the heels of the fact that Obama, in December of 2014, issued the sanctions. But those sanctions come after the House approved sanctions against Venezuela. So it’s been an increase in tensions beginning since the time that Obama announced that he would begin to normalize relations with Cuba, so that, on the one hand, we have an effort, theoretically, to normalize relations with Cuba while we maintain an embargo, and, on the other hand, to create the image of Venezuela as the new Cuba, as the new country to be sanctioned. So, in many ways, it’s extremely counterproductive. On the one hand, we’re expected to believe a response to the interests of the U.S., particularly in terms of Obama and addressing the right in the U.S., but the reality is, how it’s read in Latin America is, once again, the U.S. and big stick diplomacy. It’s read in terms of intervention. And the notion that the U.S. does not support coups is ludicrous on its face, and we have the 2009 coup in Honduras, which you extensively covered, which was—very clearly the U.S. was involved. Same thing with Lugo in Paraguay a couple of years later. So, obviously, the U.S. seeks to increase Venezuela’s isolation, or to dramatically increase Venezuela’s isolation, and continue a Bush policy of trying to inoculate Latin America from Venezuela, leading to essentially its own destabilization.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Professor, you’ve made the comparison, or the contrast, really, between U.S. government reaction to alleged human rights violations in Venezuela versus what is happening in Mexico. Could you talk about that?

MIGUEL TINKER SALAS: Well, the U.S. policy falls apart when we talk about that precise example. In the case of Venezuela, the issue is made—and it’s, again, a very condemnable act, the death of 43 people in Venezuela in March—in February of last year during protests. All sides condemn the violence. But in that case, people died on both sides of the political spectrum. In fact, military officers and police were targeted by right-wing protesters. So those actions are condemnable. And again, they merit attention of Venezuela, and they should be prosecuted. But the reality is that in Mexico 43 students disappeared in Ayotzinapa in the state of Guerrero, and hardly a peep from the U.S. It took weeks for the State Department to actually respond. So we have a duplicitous policy, on the one hand highlighting human rights issues in Venezuela, while on the other hand turning a blind eye to what is really a humanitarian crisis in Mexico, with over 80,000 dead, 40,000 disappeared and 15 million people being expelled from their own country, so that in that sense, when Latin America looks at U.S. policy, it seems rather duplicitous. And, in fact, it doesn’t hold up and increases the U.S. isolation in the region, particularly if we’re considering that in April we’re going to have the Summit of the Americas in Panama.

AMY GOODMAN: Last month, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the United States is not interfering in Venezuela, but then said it’s considering new actions to steer the Venezuelan government in a different direction.

PRESS SECRETARY JOSH EARNEST: The fact is the Venezuelan government should stop trying to blame the United States and other members of the international community for events inside Venezuela. The Venezuelan government actually needs to deal with the grave situation that it faces. The United States is not promoting unrest in Venezuela, nor are we attempting to undermine Venezuela’s economy or its government. Well, I can tell you that the Treasury Department and the State Department are obviously closely monitoring this situation and are considering tools that may be available that could better steer the Venezuelan government in the direction that they believe they should be headed.

AMY GOODMAN: And I want to play for you a recent exchange between State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki and Matt Lee, a reporter with the Associated Press.

REPORTER: President Maduro last night went on the air and said that they had arrested multiple people who were allegedly behind a coup that was backed by the United States. What is your response?

JEN PSAKI: These latest accusations, like all previous such accusations, are ludicrous. As a matter of long-standing policy, the United States does not support political transitions by nonconstitutional means. Political transitions must be democratic, constitutional, peaceful and legal. We’ve seen many times that the Venezuelan government tries to distract from its own actions by blaming the United States or other members of the international community for events inside Venezuela. These efforts reflect a lack of seriousness on the part of the Venezuelan government to deal with the grave situation it faces.

MATT LEE: Sorry. The U.S. has—whoa, whoa, whoa—the U.S. has a long-standing practice of not promoting—what did you say? How long-standing is that? I would—in particular in South and Latin America, that is not a long-standing practice.

JEN PSAKI: Well, my point here, Matt, without getting into history—

MATT LEE: Not in this case.

JEN PSAKI: —is that we do not support, we have no involvement with, and these are ludicrous accusations.

MATT LEE: In this specific case.

JEN PSAKI: Correct.

MATT LEE: But if you go back not that long ago, during your lifetime even—

JEN PSAKI: The last 21 years?

MATT LEE: Well done. Touché. But, I mean, look, does “long-standing” mean 10 years in this case? I mean, what is—

JEN PSAKI: Matt, my intention was to speak to the specific reports.

MATT LEE: I understand, but you said it’s a long-standing U.S. practice, and I’m not so sure how—depends on what your definition of “long-standing” is.

JEN PSAKI: We will—OK.

REPORTER: Recently in Kiev, whatever we say about Ukraine, whatever, the change of government in the beginning of last year was unconstitutional, and yet you supported it. The Constitution was not—

JEN PSAKI: That is also ludicrous.

AMY GOODMAN: That was State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki being questioned by reporters. Professor Miguel Tinker Salas, if you could respond to both that exchange and also Josh Earnest, White House spokesperson?

MIGUEL TINKER SALAS: I would have loved if that kind of exchange would have got broader diffusion in the U.S. press, but the fact is that it hasn’t. And we continue to have the belief that the U.S. does not—is not involved in unconstitutional change in Latin America. And as a historian, the record speaks just the opposite, from ’53 in Guatemala to the Dominican Republic, to Chile in ’73, and through the support of the Argentine military dictatorships and Brazil, and, if we want to go even closer, to 2002 in Venezuela, when the U.S. actually did support a coup against the democratically elected Hugo Chávez, the shortest coup in the world, and the coup that brought Chávez back to power, and then again in Honduras in 2009, and, not shortly thereafter, in Paraguay with Lugo, where they said it was a democratic transition, when in fact it was an unconstitutional shift in power. So, again, the notion that the U.S. has not supported both military coups directly or through what they call soft power is really ludicrous.

And, in fact, we should turn the question around. If they want to support democracy, I think the best thing the U.S. can do in the case of Venezuela and other countries is to pull back and let things develop on their own. I think you have a very strong opposition in Venezuela. It can speak for itself. You have a government force and other social forces that are organized in those countries. And I think the best thing, in the case of Mexico and in the case of Venezuela, is for the U.S. to stop intervening and to allow these countries to resolve their own—

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Professor Miguel Tinker Salas, having a little trouble with the video—but keep on going—with our connection to him over at Pomona College in Claremont. You’re back, Professor Tinker Salas.

MIGUEL TINKER SALAS: Thank you very much. I think, fundamentally, there are fundamental economic issues in Venezuela which the government has to address. But the reality is that by the U.S. intervening in this way—and let’s be clear: The effort to sanction individuals is an intervention in Venezuela. And it’s not going to be read as simply the sanction against seven individuals; it’s going to be read as a sanction against Venezuela and the government of Venezuela and the country of Venezuela. And that’s unfortunate, because it detracts attention from the real economic issues. And the government is responsible for those issues, and it’s been slow to act.

But in many ways, this will now provide the context for what will happen at the Summit of the Americas, where the U.S. had expected that it was going to arrive and be celebrated for having opened up relations with Cuba, but now even Cuba is criticizing the U.S. and saying they will not be a part of any effort on the part of the U.S. to isolate Venezuela. And that seems to have been the strategy—open up with Cuba, while at the same time isolating Venezuela and making Venezuela appear as the bad boy of the left in Latin America. And I think that policy failed under Bush, and it’s failed under Obama, as well.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, but, Professor Tinker Salas, what about all of the reports we’re seeing in the commercial media here in the United States about the increasing crisis in Venezuela? What’s your assessment of how President Maduro has functioned since he succeeded to the presidency after the death of President Chávez? And what about these issues of increasing economic—a spiraling inflation and economic problems in the country?

MIGUEL TINKER SALAS: No doubt. I think President Maduro has been very slow in responding to the crisis. I think that effort to retain an unworkable exchange rate, three different exchange rates, and protect the Venezuelan bolívar was untenable. I think that they took way too long to respond to that process. I think that may have exacerbated the crisis. There have been steps taken recently to let the Venezuelan bolívar float, to actually normalize that process. They should be able to provide greater access to dollars. Venezuela is—it consumes—it imports most of what it consumes. That’s been the sad reality since 1935, when Venezuela became the world second-largest exporter of oil and then became the world’s first-largest exporter of oil. And that happens to be part of the culture and society of Venezuela. Many Venezuelans have been raised with the notion that they’re a privileged country, that therefore they’re entitled to a set of benefits, from the cheapest gasoline in the world to subsidized food prices. And this government has been slow to respond to that. And with the drop in price of oil, that model became largely untenable. And I think that the government has not taken sufficient steps. It has acknowledged corruption. It has acknowledged bottlenecks in the distribution. It has acknowledged inefficiency. It has to address those issues. And Venezuelans need to hold them accountable to those issues. That’s why, in many ways, the U.S. issue becomes a distraction, because as the U.S. intervenes in this context, it simply becomes a side issue in what is largely an economic internal matter.

AMY GOODMAN: Earlier this month, Venezuelans marked the second anniversary of the death of President Hugo Chávez. This is Domingo Rebolledo, who is president of the Sinaí Communal Council.

DOMINGO REBOLLEDO: [translated] I feel the same pain I felt two years ago. Talking about Chávez is like talking about the loss of a father, and we truly feel like this, because today we have a working-class president, a revolutionary, a socialist, and many of us have made the error of saying that Maduro is not Chávez. However, it’s totally the opposite, because everyone says, “We are Chávez.”

AMY GOODMAN: Venezuelan opposition member María Corina Machado also commented on the death of Hugo Chávez.

MARÍA CORINA MACHADO: [translated] We are reaping what was sown during Hugo Chávez’s mandate—the destruction of the productive capacity of the country, of institutions and its independence, including the confrontation and polarization of society as state policy.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Tinker Salas, if you could respond and also comment on whether the U.S. would be taking this tack in dealing with Venezuela if it didn’t have oil?

MIGUEL TINKER SALAS: No, I think fundamentally that Venezuela has the world’s largest reserves on oil. And I think oil—I think I’ve always said, follow the oil, and you will be able to understand what is happening in Venezuela, what is happening in between Venezuela and the U.S., what is happening between Venezuela and the rest of the world. So I think that’s fundamental.

I think that the figure of Hugo Chávez is still the most powerful political figure in Venezuela. He represents a watershed in Venezuelan history, contrary to what María Corina Machado has indicated. Nonetheless, I think there is some truth to the fact that what Venezuela faces today is some of the excesses that occurred during the Chávez period and some of the issues that weren’t fully resolved during the Chávez period. And that is the dependence on oil. That is a nonfunctioning exchange rate. And that is the dramatic growth without at the same time a parallel growth in productive capacity within the country. Those remain some of the challenges the country faces, and it highlights the dependence that many Third World countries have on export products, particularly one as strategic as oil.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And what about, since the death of Chávez, the impact on all of the regional alliances that Chávez sought to create, not only low-cost oil to other countries in Latin America, but new economic unions with—of the South in terms of promoting economic integration? What’s happened there?

MIGUEL TINKER SALAS: Well, I think that we’re talking about the Community of Latin America and Caribbean Nations, the CELAC; UNASUR, the Union of South American Nations. We’re talking about the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas. I think those are now institutionalized at many levels. But undoubtedly, the impact of the absence of Chávez has been felt. There is a vacuum of leadership in the region, one that has yet to be filled directly. Or maybe we shouldn’t expect it to be filled in much the same way. Increasingly, we have a collective leadership. We have the voices of Dilma Rousseff in Brazil. We have the voices of Evo Morales in Bolivia, Correa in Ecuador. We have multiple voices that are evident here.

But it’s also clear that they have been under attack. The U.S.’s resolution on sanctions on Venezuela, I think, seeks to promote fissures within those alliances. We’ve seen Biden traveling to the Caribbean, Biden traveling to Central America, trying to find fissures in the other institution, which was Petrocaribe. So I think that they have been under difficult conditions. I think that they have been tested. I think the U.S. is looking for fissures within those alliances by promoting the Pacific Alliance of nations that have bilateral trade relations with the U.S. and by promoting the Trans-Pacific Partnership. So I think that that looms large now in the context of the drop in oil prices and the drop of other export products. So the U.S. is clearly strategically testing that relationship. And we’re going to see how that carries out with the Summit of the Americas in April in Panama.

AMY GOODMAN: Is there any relationship between what’s happening—the U.S. approach to what’s happening in Venezuela and the U.S. involvement in the negotiations with Iran right now?

MIGUEL TINKER SALAS: I don’t see necessarily a direct link, but I see some continuation in how these relations have been in fact linked and coupled in the U.S. And that is that the U.S. has increasingly—the Obama administration is taking a more right tack, particularly as it negotiates with Iran, towards Venezuela, and the same way, as it negotiates with Cuba, it takes more of a right tack in dealing with Venezuela, so that while it tries to cover its right flank in the U.S., while it negotiates with Cuba and it negotiates with Iran.

AMY GOODMAN: Miguel Tinker Salas, we want to thank you very much for being with us, professor at Pomona College in Claremont, California, author of The Enduring Legacy: Oil, Culture, and Society in Venezuela. We look forward to your next book,Venezuela: What Everyone Needs to Know.

This is Democracy Now! When we come back, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian Eric Foner joins us to talk about the Underground Railroad. Stay with us.

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Europe’s undercover yarmulke journalists


Sending a yarmulke-wearing man out with a hidden video camera to document anti-Semitism on the streets of Europe, particularly in Muslim neighborhoods, is quickly becoming a journalistic trope.

First, in January, a reporter wearing a kippah walked around the heavily Muslim neighborhood of Malmo, Sweden, where he was assaulted and cursed at. Next, in February, an Orthodox Jewish journalist walked through the streets of Paris, where he was taunted and intimidated, as shown in a video recording. (A Muslim man’s similar experiment in Milan in February, in which he wore a “traditional Muslim outfit” and carried a Koran, also garnered discriminatory comments from passersby.)

Either to respond to or trump these examples, British tabloid the Daily Mail deployed an entire team of kippah-wearing reporters to multiple European countries. The results were mixed.

The worst report of anti-Semitism reported by a kippah-wearer in the Daily Mail occurred in England. Jonathan Kalmus, who has written for England’s Jewish Chronicle magazine, was spit on and yelled at on the streets of Manchester and Bradford, two midsize cities with sizable Muslim populations. British Prime Minister David Cameron, Labour party leader Ed Miliband, a spokesman for the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and the Labour parliament representative for Manchester central all responded in the Daily Mail to Kalmus’ account. Cameron said “There are no excuses for the shocking anti-Semitism revealed in this report” and Miliband said “We need to renew our vigilance and ensure every family of every faith can be secure in our country.”

The other Daily Mail reporters experienced less or no anti-Semitism in other cities like Berlin, Rome and Stockholm. However, the most interesting encounter occurred in Copenhagen, the latest European city to be rocked by a Muslim terrorist attack. Award-winning Palestinian-Danish filmmaker Omar Shargawi donned a yarmulke while walking through parts of the city, including Mjølnerparken, a rough neighborhood where the recent Copenhagen shooter grew up. He garnered several positive comments, but also heard some nasty anti-Semitic ones.

All of this begs the question: Is anti-Semitism really so bad in Europe that Jews are truly uncomfortable wearing a yarmulke in public in some areas? Has this only been the case since last summer’s war in Gaza, which ignited a wave of anti-Israel sentiment and anti-Semitism around the world? Or are these reporters deliberately going into heavily Muslim and immigrant neighborhoods to bait a reaction that also may have happened 10 years ago?

Over at the Forward, Anne Cohen was not impressed with the earlier video of the Orthodox reporter in Paris:

[T]his video is a shock and awe experiment. It doesn’t teach us anything.

Jews have a long and fraught history with the French state that is more complex than can be explained in this blog post. But I think it’s worth pointing out that one journalist walking around a heavily Muslim neighborhood with a kippah isn’t necessarily representative of the average French person’s reaction towards Jews.

Don’t get me wrong. Jews, like anyone, should be able to walk anywhere they want without getting slurs hurled at them. Is it wrong? Yes. Is it upsetting? Very. Is it surprising? Not really.

The video itself makes no distinction between neighborhoods, which is somewhat problematic in a video headlined “10 Hours of Walking in Paris as a Jew.” Paris is a big place, with many internal tensions. Dropping one kippah-clad reporter into that mix does not an instructive video make.

The Daily Mail’s English correspondent tried to respond directly to this kind of critique:

No one could accuse me of targeting Muslim neighbourhoods to provoke a reaction. This was the centre of an ordinary English city, and I was minding my own business.

No one could accuse me of wearing something provocative or political. A Jewish person or any peaceful person walking in a British street anywhere, let alone a city centre, should be welcome …. It is completely understandable that anyone who does not feel the threat would not realise the extent of anti-Semitism, how common it is and how it effects Jews in our country every day.

Kalmus then explains that England had 37 percent more anti-Semitic attacks (1,168 total) than France in 2014, according to the Jewish Community Security Trust.

Of course, it is hard to evaluate all of this from the far-off metropolis of New York City, a place where Cohen rightly says “even non-Jews are kind of Jewish.”

However, the idea of “no-go zones” for Jews in Europe has recently come under fire. Fox News commentators purported the idea after the Charlie Hebdo attack in January, making false claims that “Sharia law,” outside of government control, reigned in these zones. The New York Times highlighted the mistake and Fox News was forced to apologize for its “regrettable errors.” (The mayor of France, Anne Hidalgo, was not impressed with the apology and threatened to sue Fox News.)

Maybe the solution to this entire debate is simply an invisible magic kipah?”

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Book: Imperialism in the 21st Century Updating Lenin’s Theory a Century Later


Including Imperialism:
The Highest Stage of Capitalism
by V.I. Lenin

Cover of the book 'Imperialism in the 21st Century: UpdatingLenin's Theory a Century Later'

The Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) is proud to announce the release of a new book:Imperialism in the 21st Century: Updating Lenin’s Theory a Century Later. The book is comprised of chapters from the PSL on imperialism and includes Lenin’s original pamphlet, Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism.

This new publication makes a significant contribution to the ideological development of revolutionaries today, and is a contribution to the Marxist movement and struggle. It is the first in a series of books aimed at covering a range of key historical, tactical and strategic issues of Marxism and Leninism on an in-depth basis.

About Imperialism in the 21st Century

Over 1,000 military bases in foreign lands. Armed personnel in 130 countries. A military budget larger than the next 10 governments combined. The U.S. rulers maintain an empire, and one that is constantly at war—so much so that the White House and Pentagon now declare “endless war” to be the country’s standing military doctrine. What is the cause of this massive empire and these constant wars. How can they be stopped?

Imperialism in the 21st Century revisits and updates the analysis of Russian revolutionary Vladmir Ilyich Lenin, who showed how the monopoly stage of capitalism had produced imperialist wars, and only social revolution could bring them to an end. Two world wars of unimaginable destruction confirmed Lenin’s basic thesis and also led to a complete reorganization of world politics.

The rising tide of anti-colonial national liberation movements and the emergence of a powerful socialist bloc of countries after World War ll re-shaped some of the characteristic features of modern imperialism but not the organically expansionist tendency of monopoly capitalism. The dynamic of inter-imperialist rivalry for control of colonies and spheres of influence which led to World War l and World War II was replaced with a new war drive against their common enemy: socialism. The post-Cold War world order delivered unrivaled hegemony to the U.S. ruling class, who became drunk with success, but there are growing contradictions that may explode the world order once again.

This publication reflects the views of the Party for Socialism and Liberation.

“As the world has changed, Lenin’s core conclusion remains entirely valid that war is intrinsic to the imperialist stage of capitalism. … It underscores the bedrock necessity of anti-imperialist struggle in creating a new world based on human cooperation. A world without war!”

—From Imperialism in the 21st Century

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PFascism and Democracy in America ”VIDEO”


Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem, Sr

Image result for Howard Zinn PHOTO

Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn (August 24, 1922 – January 27, 2010) was an American historian, author, playwright, and social activist. He was a political science professor at Boston University for 24 years and taught history at Spelman College for 7 years. Zinn wrote more than 20 books, including his best-selling and influential A People’s History of the United States.

Zinn described himself as “something of an anarchist, something of a socialist. Maybe a democratic socialist.” He wrote extensively about the civil rights and anti-war movements, and labor history of the United States. His memoir, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train, was also the title of a 2004 documentary about Zinn’s life and work.



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AL-RAQQA:  As we have repeated over and over, ISIS is a flash in the pan.  It’s self-destructing everywhere.

Tal Al-Abyadh:  An internal dispute caused by disgruntled foreign terrorists has resulted in some derangement of ISIS ranks.  According to reports, at 2:30 a.m., at the Armenian Church in northern Al-Raqqa City, a firefight broke out between the foreigners and the Middle Eastern ISIS cannibals occasioned because the foreigners were deployed to Dayr El-Zor and Al-Raqqa in order to keep them from escaping through Turkey back to their homelands.  This meant that the locals were the ones who were mostly used at the disastrous siege of ‘Ayn Al-‘Arab (Kobane) which the foreigners believed was the cause of the debacle.

The firefight was also related to the escape of 8 French nationals in the ISIS organization the day before yesterday.  The Frenchmen evidently dropped their weapons and sped to the Turk border.

This morning, an ISIS commander was almost shot dead by the rebellious foreign terrorists and was taken to a hospital for treatment.  4 of the foreigners were reported injured in the shoot-out.  Then, in typical ISIS fashion, 10 foreigners were arrested and immediately executed with shots to the head to make a lesson of them.  Their bodies were tossed into a natural crevice in the earth.

ALEPPO:  And it gets better.  95+ prisoners have escaped from an ISIS-run prison in Al-Baab.  Of the escapees, 30 were Kurdish fighters from the PKK, and the rest were an hodge-podge of Syrian locals and “opposition” terrorists.  Last reports reflect a scene straight from the “Godfather” with ISIS savages driving down the roads of the town with loudspeakers warning citizens not to accept escaped prisoners in their homes – or else.



بتوجيه من الرئيس الأسد.. العماد أيوب يقوم بجولة ميدانية بريف اللاذقيةNorthern Latakia Province:  Lt. Gen. ‘Ali ‘Abdullah Ayyoub reviewed SAA forces around the area of Salmaa after spending yesterday in Central Homs visiting officers and enlisted men at the newly-liberated area of Al-Jadhal Gas Field.


Something Like an Energy Union but Rather Just Another Strategy

Adelina Marini

In the past years, in the EU, there is a new trend to talk about unions. Everything started with the banking union because this has been the greatest step toward deepening the European integration since the introduction of the single currency. It is completely justified to call it a banking union because it goes beyond the existing EU treaties. In the beginning of 2014, after Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea in violation of international law, the then prime minister of Poland Donald Tusk proposed the establishment of an energy union. His idea was this new union to be as ambitious in terms of deepening of the European integration as the banking union is in such a difficult area as energy. When he was elected president of the European Council Donald Tusk promised that the establishment of an energy union will be one of his main priorities.

The leaders of the member states included all this in their strategic guidelines for the Commission and Jean-Claude Juncker made it as one of his leading priorities. The energy union was one of the awaited events in the beginning of this year. The long-awaited moment came on 25 February when Vice President Maros Sefcovic, tasked with the building of the energy union, presented together with energy commissioner Miguel Arias Canete the Commission vision. However, neither the proposal is sufficiently ambitious to enable calling it an “energy union” nor the debates that followed it in the European Parliament corresponded to something as important as ensuring Europe’s energy security. Especially after Maros Sefcovic set the lath so high by comparing the energy union with the creation of the coal and steel community.

As a matter of fact, what the European Commission vice president presented on 25 February was simply beating the dust out of the strategy for energy security, which the previous Commission presented last May. At the core of Sefcovic’s and Canete’s strategy is the implementation of the existing legislation. This includes, most of all, the third energy package, the construction of interconnectors between the member states, completing the single market of energy and energy efficiency. The latter is the most important priority of the Commission and is entirely in the spirit of the currently prevailing philosophy in Brussels that the cheapest energy is the energy not spent. The strategy sets a higher target for reduction of the CO2 emissions of 40% by 2030. This is the position the EU will be promoting at the Paris climate conference later this year.

As long as the third energy package is concerned, which was at the centre of the conflict between EU and Russia, the Commission commits to use “all available policy instruments in this regard and will insist that Member States fully implement and enforce the 3rd Internal Energy Market Package, in particular as regards unbundling and the independence of regulators”. Juncker’s Commission plans to focus on the construction of the southern gas corridor the purpose of which is to secure gas deliveries from Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan to Europe.

What is new in the strategy for the energy union is that at this stage no serious change is foreseen in the relations with Russia. “When the conditions are right, the EU will consider reframing the energy relationship with Russia based on a level playing field in terms of market opening, fair competition, environmental protection and safety, for the mutual benefit of both sides”. It does not say, however, what is understood by “right conditions” – is this the long-term solution to the Ukraine conflict or is it an expectation the power in the Kremlin to change because the current president Vladimir Putin has proved that he is an unpredictable partner who has used the energy resources as his main foreign policy tool. Therefore, the most important and long-awaited by some member states element of the energy union, which is the collective bargaining of gas contracts with third countries, is reduced to the bitter reality.

It is pointed out that all intergovernmental agreements must be completely in line with the European legislation. It is admitted that bilateral contracts that are in violation of the European rules are very difficult to renegotiate. Bulgaria has experience with that. “The positions of the signatories have already been fixed, which creates political pressure not to change any aspect of the agreement”. That is why, the European Commission proposes in the future to be informed in advance so as to make an assessment at the early stage of the negotiations whether the future contract is in line with the European legislation. The Commission also proposes to take part in the negotiations. All this, however, is written in a wishful tone and nothing binding is proposed that could secure the implementation by all the 28 member states.

The Commission envisages also to expand the mandate of the Agency for Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER), established with the third energy package, because, at present, it deals only with issuing recommendations and opinions. Its rights for decision-making are too restricted, especially in cases when a member state does not apply a decision in the defined period. The Commission believes that it would be better if the agency performs its regulating functions at European level and not as it is currently to reflect the national views. This is valid for all the bodies established with the third energy package. In addition to this is also the Commission desire to ensure greater transparency in terms of the forming of energy prices by proposing the establishment of detailed monitoring and reporting. Special attention will be paid on the regulated tariffs, energy taxation and subsidies.

An important element of the transparency will be the Commission to also check the bilateral contracts with third countries for gas deliveries and to give advice what are the prices in the contracts of other member states. This will hardly be open to the public because in the strategy it is explicitly pointed out and Mr Sefcovic emphasised on it several times during the presentation on 25 February, that the confidentiality of sensitive trade information will be respected. The strategy says that of all the 28 member states six are entirely dependent on a single supplier. Those are Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia. Even if they know that, for instance Germany, had negotiated cheaper deliveries this will hardly help them in the negotiations with a “persuasive” partner as Russia whose main argument is stopping the deliveries.

The strategy again raises the question about the possibility consumers to be able to select suppliers even in another member state. This needs additional adapting of the national regulatory frameworks because a large part of the European households continue to be passive consumers. No matter how good this idea is, it continues to be hard to realise. In the end of the day, the member states are resisting to abolish the roaming charges, which makes it unrealistic to expect that they will be willing to allow consumers in one country to be able to choose an electricity supplier in another because of better prices, for instance.

The Commission also proposes energy to become an indispensable part of the trade negotiations with third countries, the so called “energy diplomacy”. It is pointed out that the European Emissions Trade System (ETS) will continue to be the most important instrument to achieve the CO2 targets despite that the existing studies of its efficiency are quite controversial. The strategy touches vaguely and has a liberal attitude to nuclear energy and shale gas. Concerning nuclear energy, it only says that when a decision is made for new capacities or for a new nuclear power plant, the member states should be led by “highest standards of safety, security, waste management and non-proliferation”. Shale gas is neither rejected nor recommended. The strategy points out only that its production “is an option, provided that issues of public acceptance and environmental impact are adequately addressed”.

The most important part of an energy union, undoubtedly, is its governance, again, if we judge by the experience with the banking union. On this issue, the Commission says only that it is yet to present its ideas about that. It is hinted that the European semester for economic governance will be used as a model but is pointed out that the two processes will be completely separated. What the Commission reveals at this stage is that it will work to improve the data, analyses and intelligence and will report annually to the European Parliament and the Council about the situation of the energy union.

Is it because the strategy was presented in the European Parliament almost immediately after it was made public or for other reasons but the debate with the MEPs on this so important topic was apathetic and many of them demonstrated they were not well aware of the new/old strategy. Those who spoke in specific terms about the strategy during the two-hour long debate were a few. Most of the speakers were members of the energy committee of the European Parliament. According to Cypriot MEPs Neoklis Sylikiotis from the far left group, the strategy has some serious omissions. The most important of them is that it only mentions the need of interference by the Commission in the energy

policy of the member states or to participate in negotiations on energy deals but, practically, this remains to be national responsibility.

In response, the Commission bases its argument on the fact that energy policy is still a national competence, according to the treaties. A very weak argument against the backdrop of the banking union. According to green MEP Rebecca Harms (Germany), the Commission risks with this proposal to play out its chances. “What you are proposing is not aimed at the modern technologies but at the past”. She was indignant that although not explicitly mentioned in the strategy coal continue to play a major role in the strategy. According to her, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan cannot at all be called secure countries but are mentioned in the strategy as an alternative to Russia. “You are encouraging nuclear energy although the majority of citizens are against”, she concluded.

Danish MEP Morten Helveg Petersen (ALDE) pointed out that a more ambitious governance is needed of the energy policy and that it needs to focus more on renewable sources. He gave the example of the recently announced huge investment by Apple in Denmark which was made possible precisely because of renewable energy in that country. Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy (S&D, the Netherlands) recalled that this is a political project of great importance. “Geopolitics plays here an important role”. He called the deal between Hungary and Gazprom “odd” and pointed out that it is very likely the gas deliveries for Ukraine to be interrupted. “Let us not make the economic mistakes of the past”, the Dutch MEP called.

As could be expected, some voices from the Czech Republic and Hungary were in defence of Russia and the energy status quo in Europe. Zoltán Balczó, MEP from the radical right-wing party Jobbik, said that the relations between EU and Russia should be maintained. “The Union’s energy policy should be conducted in such a way that the individual member states to be able to keep their sovereignty”. Evžen Tošenovský (ECR, Czech Republic) said he was against the establishment of a common European regulator. It is much more important, according to him, to discuss the functioning of the existing body. Another green MEP, Claude Turmes (Luxembourg), also criticised the strategy for being too unambitious, especially in terms of renewables. The energy security renewables can ensure is much greater than us relying on gas and oil deliveries from Azerbaijan, Kurdistan and Turkmenistan. He opposed also the introduction of a new category in the Commission document of “smart consumers”. Do not call them in this way, he called, the citizens are citizens with their rights. Mr Turmes appeal on the Commission to work more precisely with the citizens and the national parliaments to ensure support for its most ambitious ideas.

Matthias Groote (S&D, Germany) called for clear legal acts not for strategies. Many others criticised the strategy, too, for lacking specific proposals. Milan Zver, a MEP from Slovenia (EPP), said Putin would never stop using energy for political purposes, which is why it is very important to work for domestic and external diversification of deliveries. Croatian MEP from the ECR group Ruza Tomasic also said that the EU is necessary to ensure the energy independence of the member states. Moscow is currently buying the silence of the more dependent ones. “Energy dependence cannot be used to limit the sovereignty of countries”, she added. Her colleague from the same group Angel Dzhambazki was

The only Bulgarian MEP who spoke although the energy union was one of the major topics in the election campaign last year and a priority for one of the coalition partners in the government of Bulgaria.

Mr Dzhambazki recalled that the political “brawls” surrounding the South Stream project have left the Bulgarian economy without this key economic resource. According to him, the development of nuclear energy is very important. All Croatian MEPs who spoke during the debate actually lobbied for European support for the construction of a LNG terminal at the Adriatic coast. In the Commission strategy for the energy union, it is envisaged the Commission to soon present a special proposal for the development of LNG trade, pointing out in the same time that the building of LNG hubs in Northern Europe will increase energy security. It is recommended this example to be followed also by the Central and Eastern European countries and the Mediterranean nations. Regarding Central and Eastern Europe, the strategy speaks of building of trust.

Generally, both the debate and the strategy itself were pretty mediocre and lacked serious ambition. The strategy for the energy union is entirely in the spirit of the policy of the European Commission under Jean-Claude Juncker to be as close as possible to what is realistic, which means to the member states rather than being a source of vision for European integration as was his predecessor Jose Manuel Barroso. Which of the two policies is better is still early to say, but it should be mentioned that the solo vision of the former prime minister of Portugal, Barroso, about the future of the euro area was much more ambitious than the one Herman Van Rompuy prepared together with the Eurogroup chief (Juncker himself at the time) and ECB chief Mario Draghi. And although the leaders rejected it in the beginning, it still is a major part of the debate about the future of the euro area and Mr Juncker announced that he will use it too.

So, the expectations for an energy union were the Commission to present a vision and ambition it will insist on and not be a spokesperson of the member states because they already have one – Donald Tusk. It is true that there is a lot of potential in working to build the internal market and that the implementation of the existing legislation could bring a lot of benefits that could create appropriate environment for the next stage of integration. But it is also true that the current geopolitical situation provides, indeed, a golden opportunity to move up to the next level of integration in the EU just like the eurozone crisis created the conditions for the banking union. What united the member states then was their common currency. This means that the energy union should find the equivalent of the euro in terms of importance. This is what the Commission strategy lacks. Moreover, the banking union simply responded institutionally to the already existing integration at market level. Alas, this is the weakest spot of the energy union – there is no sufficient energy connectivity among the member states that can make it absolutely necessary for everyone to protect their common energy security.

The treaty on establishing the coal and steel community, which lays the foundation of today’s EU, was signed in Paris on 18 April 1951. The main idea behind it was to unite the production because those were the two most important raw materials for the industries of the two countries. The aim of the community was to contribute through the common market of coal and steel for economic development, growth of employment and for the increase of the standard of living. Experience suggests that this was a very wise decision given the geopolitical circumstances then. The strategy for an energy union proposed by Maros Sefcovic is too far from the ambition of the coal and steel treaty and is too inadequate against the backdrop of the new but, in fact, the same as more than 50 years ago, geopolitical circumstances. The Commission strategy for the energy union will be one of the main topics on the agenda of the spring European Council in Brussels on 19-20 March.

Posted in EuropeComments Off on Something Like an Energy Union but Rather Just Another Strategy

Father Of Palestinian Captive Killed By ISIS Says Son Was Duped Into Joining Group

AP  |


The father of a Palestinian killed by the Islamic State in Syria said Wednesday that his son was no Israeli spy but was tricked into joining the militants who killed him after he tried to come back home.

Said Musalam said IS lured his 19-year-old son Mohamed with promises of women, money and cars.

“They promised a lot of things and then I came here and there is nothing,” Musalam recalled his son saying in a phone call home from Syria.

The son said he was in Raqqa, the de-facto capital of the Islamic State group, and had heard his mother was sick and wanted to come back, the father added.

The father spoke to The Associated Press from the family’s east Jerusalem home, a day after IS released a video purporting to show the killing of a captive identified as Mohamed Said Ismail Musalam.

In the 13-minute video posted online, a militant and a boy dressed in camouflage stand behind a man in an orange jumpsuit kneeling on the ground. The fighter makes a brief statement in French accusing the man of working for the Mossad before the boy steps forward and shoots the captive in the head.

The AP could not independently verify the video but it was released by the IS group’s Furqan media arm and corresponds to previous IS videos.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry declined comment while Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency said it announced earlier this year that Mohamed Musalam had left for Turkey to fight with IS.

The elder Musalam said he was the only one in the family to watch the video. He said he saw his son dressed in orange, knew that he was marked for death, and could not watch it through to the end.

His wife cried and she and other family members were too distraught to watch, he added. The family said it had begun a customary three-day mourning period, though there will not be a mourning tent because they live in a Jewish area of east Jerusalem.

Musalam said he wished the same fate upon the family of Islamic State group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

“I will leave it to God and what happened to my son Mohamed I hope God will do the same for you, your sons and your family,” Musalam said in Arabic, addressing al-Baghdadi. “God knows that one day we’ll meet, whether in paradise or in hell, and we’ll settle the accounts.”

After the video was released on Tuesday, Musalam told the AP that his son left for Syria four months ago without telling his family and later told his brother that he was going to fight with IS.

More than a month ago, the family received a call from an unidentified person who said Musalam had fled IS, was caught at a Turkish checkpoint, and was put in IS jail.

“They did not want to let him leave because if he comes back, he might be caught by the Israelis and tell them what he had seen. So they wanted to get rid of him,” the father said. “I know my son. I raised him well. I am sure he’s not working for the Mossad.”

Posted in Palestine Affairs, Middle EastComments Off on Father Of Palestinian Captive Killed By ISIS Says Son Was Duped Into Joining Group

Naziyahu Choreographs a Humiliated Congress


By John V. Walsh


This video should go viral.  It is from the Israeli media.


Watch, laugh – and cry.

(If you have trouble seeing it, note the following.  First the picture on page one is also a video.  You have to click on it after it loads which takes a few seconds. Then be sure the sound is on.  There is an English sound track. AND finally there is a 20 second commercial with no English that precedes the great video itself – at least when I open it on my computer. I do not know how to skip it.   These features are all familiar to us, but without the English it might be confusing.)

Now let’s be serious.

First, the Congress is completely humiliated, dancing to the tune of Netanyahu who is the representative of a foreign power.  That humiliation extends to every American who cast a vote, expecting the Congresspeople to represent the voters, the American voters – not the Israeli ones.

Second, there is a sentiment found in “progressive” circles that the US is the boss in the U.S. Israeli power dance.  Their vulgar “theory” of imperialism tells them that.  If this bit of humiliation does not wake them up, who knows what will.   Empires are full of examples of the “lesser” ally pulling the strings to make the greater one dance.  And Israel with its well funded operation that extends from AIPAC to many Temples and fundamentalist evangelical churches provides a super charged example of this kind of operation to subvert sovereignty.

Finally, Obama is not to be lionized in this encounter either.  He is not trying to make peace of sorts with Iran for noble purposes.  He and others like Brzezinski want to get the Israeli albatross cut loose from their necks; they want out of the Mideast quagmire which makes the populace war weary and takes up resources.   Obama wants those resources freed up to take down Russia and China.  And that is even more dangerous than the involvement in the Middle East since that can lead to World War III.  The need for a solid and massive anti-interventionist movement of the Ron Paul type is desperately needed.

So watch, laugh and cry.


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Zionist agree: Americans are mindless dupes

A recent article appearing in The Jewish Daily Forward offered some revealing insights into what “America’s greatest ally” in the Middle East, the Jewish state of I$raHell, and her people think about the nature of America and the American people.The majority of Zionist, despite being a “famously fractious” people, tend to agree on one thing: Americans are gullible dupes. According to the article, Zionist disdain Americans, view us with contempt, and think we are idiotic, mindless dupes who will blindly accept and believe anything the Jews say (a view that is largely correct, unfortunately). The article begins:

Though Israel is a famously fractious society, Israelis tend to agree on one thing: Their strongest supporters are an inherently dupable people.

“Most Israelis think Americans are pro-Israel and we can sell them anything, especially mud from the Dead Sea,” said David Lifshitz, the lead writer for the Israeli comedy show “Eretz Nehederet,” or “Wonderful Land.”

“Or — just regular mud with a ‘Dead Sea’ sticker on it.”

But it’s not just American tourists whom many Israelis see as guileless. American foreign policy is held up to similar scrutiny here, even as Israel receives billions of dollars in foreign aid from the United States each year.

“Americans are perceived to be naive, especially when it comes to the Middle East,” said Uri Dromi, who served as a spokesman for the Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres governments. “It is a bad neighborhood and it seems like they just don’t realize it.”

The naivete Israelis perceive in Americans is not just something they believe only Israel’s adversaries exploit; Israelis believe they can do so, too — and do. In a secretly recorded video of a 2001 discussion with a group of terror victims in the Ofra settlement in the Israeli occupied West Bank, now-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu laid out this widely held perception.

“I know what America is,” Netanyahu, then on political hiatus after an election defeat, told the settlers when one asked whether his proposal for a “large scale” attack on the Palestinians would be met with global condemnation. “America is a thing that can be easily moved, moved in the right direction. They will not bother us… Let’s suppose they [the Bush administration] will say something. So they say it — so what? Eighty per cent of the Americans support us. It’s absurd! We have such [great] support there! And we say… what shall we do with this [support]?” […]

So there you have it folks. The American political establishment and a huge percentage of the American populace literally worship Israel and the Jews. For decades now, America has provided Israel with essentially unwavering political, diplomatic, economic, and military support, to the tune of billions of dollars per year and at a cost to America’s reputation and standing in the world, despite the fact that the Jewish state has militarily attacked America on multiple occasions (9/11 and the attack on the USS Liberty come to mind) and has engaged in widespread espionage, subversion, and treachery against the United States.

And how do the Israelis view Americans for their blind support of the Jewish state? With utter contempt and disdain, which they have no problem proudly and openly stating and publishing in their own newspapers.

I’m reminded of the now deceased former Israeli Prime Minister and international war criminal Ariel Sharon’s statement to Shimon Peres in October 2001, shortly after the Israeli/neocon organized and executed false flag attack on 9/11, in which he boldly proclaimed“I want to tell you something very clear, don’t worry about American pressure on Israel. We, the Jewish people, control America, and the Americans know it.” 

The Jewish death grip on America is so secure, they can openly admit and boast about it, and then state right to our faces that we are gullible idiots who will accept or buy anything the Jews wish to sell them, “especially mud from the Dead Sea,” as the Jew David Lifshitz stated in the article above. “Or — just regular mud with a ‘Dead Sea’ sticker on it.”

America, it is time to wake up. We are being degraded and insulted, used and abused on a daily basis, and most of us simply refuse to recognize it. It is simply unacceptable.

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ALEPPO:  Not to be outdone by an entire generation of Islamist degenerates and professional clowns, Abu Sind Al-Ansaari, (see photo above) who is believed to be from Pakistan, a notorious breeding ground for gullible pea-brains and assorted derelicts from areas of the world in which you wouldn’t hide your chamberpot, tried his best since the disastrous and puke-inducing efforts to barrel through the gates of the Central Prison to do the same at the gates of Handaraat.  He came out of the Al-Mallaah Farms area in a “BMW” car loaded with C-4 and headed for his destiny.

Since he was speeding – (couldn’t wait for God to open the doors of Valhalla for him) – Syrian Army spotters figured out this clown was up to no good and blinked lights at him to see if he was just some race car driver.  When he wouldn’t stop, they opened fire on his car.  He hurtled forward anyways, disregarding the fusillades of bullets that were now seeking shelter in his accursed carcass.  About 350 yards from his target, he decided to detonate the bombs in his car even though he had accomplished nothing but splatter his earthly remains all around the area.

Investigating crews are trying to find out who this mutton-head was for no reason other than to resolve a bet I made with one of my friends about his being Pakistani.  Otherwise, he would just be left to percolate into the soil as some cheap fertilizer.

Al-Baab:  It doesn’t get better than this.  10 ISIS hyenas were involved in a firefight with the SAA about 30kms south of the Turk border.  When they realized things were not going their way, they began to kill one another.  I’m not joking. When 5 of them decided to make smoke for the comfort of Erdoghan’s vast green valleys, the other 5 tried to stop them.  Well, that was quite a SNAFU.  The ones trying to escape shot back at the ones trying to stop the escape.  I was told by Wael that the Syrian Army infantrymen were puzzled for a while as the scavengers were firing at one another.  Eventually, nobody survived except a Tunisian who is not expected to survive his wounds.  There were 9 Europeans among the dead.

Handaraat Farms:  The SAA killed 13 rodents belonging to Al-Fawj Al-Awwal and Ahraar Al-Shaam,  after a 6-hour siege initiated by the SAA yesterday.  6 were arrested and are warbling beautifully.

Alaa` Abu-Zayd

Abu Homs (leader of North Rural Aleppo Sector for Ahraar Al-Shaam)

Ahmad Muhammad Tahn

Abu Hamza Atma (reportedly a liaison for Nusra)

No other names reported.

Bashkuwy:  SAA destroyed a T-62 tank and an RPG launcher killing 3 rodents from Nusra/Alqaeda.

Bashkuwy:  2 bulldozers destroyed and 4 rats killed.


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