This is an archived newsroll page on A Socialist In Canada, consisting of headlines and weblinks, with occasional news summary and brief analysis, for the indicated month(s) and year. See the current, ‘World news’ website page here. To find past stories on this and other news pages on this website, use the ‘find’ (word search) function on your web browser. Headlines in red denote items published on the main news page of A Socialist In Canada, mostly authored by Roger Annis.
World news headlines on A Socialist In Canada, March 2019
Ukraine will hold second-round presidential election on April 21 in ballot choices restricted to pro-NATO, anti-Russia candidates. [TASS news agency reports that with 63% of ballots counted, Vladimir Zelensky won 30.4% of the first-round vote presidential vote in Ukraine on March 31. He is followed by incumbent Pyotr Poroshenko with 16.3% and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko with 13.1%. Voter turnout is 64 per cent compared to 60 per cent in May 2014 (three months following the right-wing coup against the elected president Viktor Yanukovych). All the leading candidates are fanatically pro-West and anti-Russia. Western media outlets are treating the election with cynical bemusement while keeping up their drumbeat of accusations of ‘Russia aggression’ against the country. ‘Russian aggression’ serves as the catch-all phrase to divert attention from the disastrous state of living conditions for the Ukrainian people and the steady march to authoritarian, extreme-right political rule under NATO and EU tutelage. Extreme-right paramilitaries rule the streets of Ukraine, shutting down all meaningful political opposition. Canada’s right-wing minister of foreign affairs, Chrystia Freeland, staged a moment of unintended comedic irony at the UN Security Council on March 28, 2019 when she told the body, “Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, nativists and radical anti-globalists who resort to violent acts are a threat to the stability of my country and countries around the world.”]
* Ukrainian forces fire 700 rounds of ammunition (five tons) at the Donetsk People’s Republic during the past week reports DPR monitoring office, Donetsk News Agency, April 1, 2019
* The hidden 40th candidate in Ukraine’s presidential election is Vladimir Putin, news analysis on RT, Mar 30, 2019
Maduro announces 30-day power rationing as Venezuela is gripped by blackouts, RT, April 1, 2019
* Venezuelans hold rival rallies as U.S.-Russia standoff over military deployment continues, Press TV, Mar 31, 2019
* Venezuela gov’t and Int’l Red Cross agree on shipment of medical aid, as large shipment of medical aid arrives from China, Orinico Tribune, Mar 30, 2019
* Venezuela’s oil production plummets in February due to new U.S. sanctions, by Dan Beeton, Center for Economic Policy Research, Mar 25, 2019
Fallacies and inaccuracies about Venezuelan migration, by Mision Verdad, translated to English and published on Venezuela Analysis, Mar 15, 2019
Related: Emigration rates for New Zealand, Canada, Britain, and Australia are much higher even than exaggerated and inaccurate figures cited for Venezuela, report by Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, 2011 (cited in Wikipedia) Sample rates of citizens living outside their native countries: New Zealand 21 per cent, Canada and Britain nine per cent, Australia 4.3 per cent.
43 years in solitary confinement: Meet Albert Woodfox, political prisoner freed in 2016, the man held in solitary confinement longer than any prisoner in U.S. history, broadcast on Democracy Now!, Mar 29, 2019 (24-minute broadcast,with transcript) [Albert Woodfox was released from prison in February 2016. He is the author of the recently-published memoire Solitary: Unbroken by Four Decades in Solitary Confinement. My Story of Transformation and Hope.]
Israel kills three Palestinians, fires tear gas at ‘Great March of Return’ one-year anniversary rally in Gaza, Press TV, Mar 30, 2019 [Gaza’s ministry of health also reports 316 protesters injured.] and read: Israeli forces kill 17-year-old with live fire as 40,000 Palestinians mark ‘Great March of Return’ anniversary, Common Dreams, Mar 30, 2019
* March in Palestine on the one-year anniversary of the Great March of Return’, analysis by Haidar Eid , published in Mondoweiss, Mar 30, 2019
…For us, it is very clear that there is no hope in changing the indifference and apathy of the official international community. We count on civil society. Israeli soldiers hiding in ditches behind the razor wire have so far [during the past year] killed 266 protesters and injured 30,000 more. The UN’s Commission of Inquiry found that Israel’s attacks on the protesters “may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity.” This is why we have renewed our call for a military embargo against Israel and amplifying BDS campaigns to end Israel’s impunity and hold it accountable for its crimes.
…The March of Return has created an unprecedented Palestinian consensus and is in line with the goals of the BDS movement. Most participants in the Great March of Return demand a complete break with the Oslo process and its vision of a Bantustan alongside a Jewish state that practices racism against its own people …The time has come for a decisive struggle for freedom, equality, and justice…
Russia weighs in on Trump’s Golan Heights decision, by Maxim A. Suchkov, Al-Monitor, Mar 26, 2019 …On March 22, President Vladimir Putin convened a meeting of Russia’s Security Council, a presidential body that consults on Putin’s national security policies. Russia’s domestic problems and the situation in the Middle East following Trump’s decision dominated the agenda. “It was stated that a very unstable and strained situation in [the Middle East] must not be provoked by ill-considered actions and statements by countries that have a direct bearing on the settlement process,” the Kremlin later noted…
Trump, Russia, and the collapse of the collusion narrative, broadcast of ‘The Listening Post’, with host Richard Gizbert, on Al-Jazeera, Mar 30, 2019 (12-minute report, interviewing ‘pro’ and ‘con’ viewpoints on Russiagate conspiracy: Aaron Maté, contributor, The Nation; David Cay Johnston, founder and editor of DCReport.org; Marcy Wheeler, writer, Emptywheel; Jackson Lears, Professor of History, Rutgers University; Matt Taibbi, contributing editor, Rolling Stone)
Related: Matt Taibbi and Aaron Maté on how Russiagate helped Trump, interview with Aaron Maté and Matt Taibbi, podcast on ‘The Katie Halper Show’ (WBAI.org), broadcast with transcript on Common Dreams, Mar 29, 2019
On Russiagate and our refusal to face why Trump won, by Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone, Mar 29, 2019 Faulty coverage of Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign later made foreign espionage a more plausible explanation for his ascent to power
Previously reported: It’s official: Russiagate is this generation’s ‘Weapons of Mass Distraction’ big lie, by Matt Taibbi, published by Rolling Stone, Mar 25, 2019 The Iraq war faceplant damaged the reputation of the press. Russiagate just destroyed it [This essay by Matt Taibbi is published on the web page of his new book, Hate Inc. The essay is an update to the book newly published online. The book can be read by subscribers to Rolling Stone.].
Russia has opened a helicopter pilot training center in Venezuela, Press TV, Mar 30, 2019
* Russia to keep forces in Venezuela ‘as long as needed’ despite U.S. call for their removal, Press TV, Mar 28, 2019
* Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova’s reply to a media question on accusations against Russia interfering in Venezuela’s internal affairs, published on the website of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mar 26, 2019
Reuters exclusive: With a piece of paper, Trump called on Kim to hand over nuclear weapons, by Lesley Wroughton and David Brunnstrom, Reuters, Mar 29, 2019
New York’s Orthodox Jewish community is battling measles outbreaks, vaccine deniers are to blame, by Julia Belluz, VOX.com, Mar 27, 2019 Anti-vaccine advocates have swayed parents in New York to refuse immunizations for their kids, sparking two of the largest measles outbreaks in the state’s recent history, according to local health officials…
Related: County in New York state bans unvaccinated minors in public as measles cases spread, by Mary Esch, Associated Press, Mar 26, 2019 …The county is experiencing New York state’s longest measles outbreak since the disease was declared officially eliminated from the United States in 2000. Health officials say the best way to stop the disease’s spread is a vaccination rate in the community of 92 to 95 per cent. Day said only 72.9 per cent of people under 18 have been vaccinated against measles in Rockland County, which has more than 300,000 residents…
Russiagate redux on the left, March 29, 2019. [‘Russiagate’ as it became known, is a term to describe the factional disputes among the U.S. ruling class arising from the 2016 presidential election, centering on the Democratic Party accusation that Russia interfered in the election and affected its outcome with the willing acquiescence if not participation of Donald Trump and his advisors. There is zero dispute between the Democratic Party and Republican Party on fundamental issues of foreign policy (aka ‘imperialism’). Russiagate conspiracy theory arose from sections of the U.S. ruling class out of a complex of three large factors. One, the new cold war by U.S. and NATO-led imperialism against Russia and increasingly against China, beginning in 2014 when the Russian people and government refused to meekly bow to the NATO-incited, right-wing coup in Ukraine. Two, differences of approach within the Democratic Party/Republican Party duopoly over how to explain and sell their bipartisan policies of war, global warming and rising social inequities to growing, angry and disillusioned sections of the U.S. population. And three, the chaos theory of the Republican Party and its right wing by which offhand phrases or declarations by Donald Trump or his associates are used to confuse and befuddle political opponents, targetting, in particular, the large section of the U.S. population that opposes all that the Trump regime stands for but has no independent voice or action of its own. In all three factors, much of the global political left have become actors in the Russiagate drama–some naively, some malevolently, and some by virtue of their silence. Watch this website page for ongoing analysis of responses on the global political left to the selective and manipulative issuing of the report on ‘Russiagate’ by Robert Mueller on March 25.]
Russiagate redux on the left: Mueller report conclusion be damned, CounterPunch doubles down on Russiagate conspiracy. Summary of articles published in CounterPunch on March 29, 2019:
* Russiagate: Tragedy, not farce, by Nick Pemberton, CounterPunch, Mar 29, 2019 … There is a lot of concern about a potential World War III because Americans dare to call out two of the most corrupt and right-wing leaders in the world… Americans should be interested in what Mueller, Trump and Putin are hiding. These men need no defense. Three of the most powerful and indecent men in the world sit on secrets that could oust them from power… The fact that Donald Trump, the most obviously criminal in the world today, cannot be charged with a crime proves how broken our criminal justice system is. In that sense, Russiagate has not gone nearly far enough…
* Russiagate: A Trump-boosting triumph of diversion and inauthentic opposition?, by Paul Street, CounterPunch, Mar 29, 2019 Did the Russian government make some efforts to intervene on Donald Trump’s behalf in the 2016 United States presidential election? Has Trump’s behavior toward Russia been odd, to say the least, for a U.S. president? Has Trump had significant financial ties to Russian oligarchs linked to Vladimir Putin? Does Putin very possibly have something on Trump? The answer to all these questions is yes. But so what? There is no evidence, only supposition, that Russia’s stabs made any real difference in the election’s outcome…
* Russia was never the real scandal, by Peter Certo, CounterPunch, Mar 29, 2019 Robert Mueller won’t be filing any more indictments related to the “Russiagate” investigation. Though the search unearthed ample evidence that Russia wanted Trump to become president — and hints that some members of Trump World were perhaps aware of this — the recent summary declared no concrete findings that the two camps knowingly “colluded.” …
* Mueller, Russiagate and the 2020 elections, by John Feffer, CounterPunch, Mar 29, 2019 … First of all, let’s restate the seemingly obvious for all those who believe that Russiagate is some the liberal version of 9-11 Truthers or the Bush administration’s WMD claims about Iraq. Russia attempted to swing the 2016 election in favor of Trump. Full stop…
* Look how the real trump is endangering America, by Ralph Nader, CounterPunch, Mar 29, 2019 …The assignment to Mueller was doomed from the start. Its charge was far too narrow and proof in such matters is very difficult to find. Intent to collude requires direct examination of the President himself. But why would Trump have to collude at all? The Russians interfered in his favor in various ways to the detriment of Hillary Clinton and all he had to do was accept such foreign largesse… First of all, let’s restate the seemingly obvious for all those who believe that Russiagate is some the liberal version of 9-11 Truthers or the Bush administration’s WMD claims about Iraq. Russia attempted to swing the 2016 election in favor of Trump. Full stop…
Russiagate redux on the left: Truthdig columnist assures readers ‘there is Russiagate’, column by Solani Kolhatkar, published in Truthdig, Mar 28, 2019
…There is also ample evidence that Russia attempted to influence the U.S. elections in 2016, resulting in Mueller’s indictments of more than a dozen Russian nationals and, as Barr summarized, the special counsel found “two main Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election.”
… The major question that remains is whether Trump knowingly solicited help from Russians to win the presidency. According to his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, Trump knew about damaging information about his election rival that was, per Mueller’s assessment, obtained by Russian operatives and released through WikiLeaks (although Cohen admitted he did not have any direct evidence of collusion). But what Mueller found in answer to that question we don’t yet know…
Russiagate redux on the left: Real News Network discusses Russiagate outcome after two years of giving it credence, broadcast/interview story featuring Paul Jay, Gerald Horne and Jeff Cohen, Mar 26, 2019 (24-minute broadcast) [Real News Network Editor-in-Chief Paul Jay has long given credence to Russiagate conspiracy. In this March 26 broadcast, he invites two informed voices to discuss the manipulative (secretive) release on March 25 of the Robert Mueller report. This gives the impression of a rethink by the program of the credence it has given to Russiagate conspiracy. But Jay begins the interview by telling listeners he “doesn’t care” whether there was Russia-Trump campaign collusion. He goes on to offer a Democratic Party-style feint towards the left by citing real transgressions of the Trump presidency, namely Trump’s past, illegal business conduct; his global warming denial; his racist immigration policies; etc. Accordingly, the title of the broadcast is ‘Democrats’ Russophobia hid Trump’s real crimes’. Jay goes on to say there was, indeed, “Russian interference” in the 2016 election campaign. He says the Robert Mueller report will confirm this when the report gets a staged, full release. He is referring to amateurs on Facebook and Twitter who made errant and juvenile social media postings during 2016 which were misrepresented by Russia conspiratorialists as evidence of professional, Russian-directed interference. Neither Paul Jay nor his invited guests say one word about the fact that during the reign of the so-called ‘Russia friendly’ Donald Trump, the U.S. has dangerously escalated its new cold war against Russia, including economic sanctions and launching a new, a new nuclear arms race.]
Russiagate implodes, pleasing Trump but leaving the left out in the cold, by Glen Ford, executive editor, Black Agenda Report, Mar 28, 2019
Related: Julian Assange and Robert Mueller, by Margaret Kimberley, editor and senior columnist, Black Agenda Report, Mar 27, 2019
How the battle over Israel and anti-semitism is fracturing U.S. politics, by Nathan Thrall, lengthy essay in New York Times Mazazine, Mar 28, 2019 The growing prominence of the BDS movement and the backlash to it is widening fault lines from college campuses to Capitol Hill
Related: How the Gulf States got in bed with Israel and forgot about the Palestinian cause, by Dalia Hatuqa, Foreign Policy Magazine, Mar 28, 2019
Turkish court dismisses case against Deutsche Welle contributor Pelin Unker, Deutsche Welle, Mar 28, 2019 A high-profile slander case against DW contributor Pelin Unker has been thrown out in Turkey due to a statute of limitations. The reporter was sentenced to 13 months in prison in January 2019 in a similar case over her ‘Paradise Papers’ reporting naming a former prime minister and his two sons.
Chagos Islands and the dark soul of the British Labour Party, by Craig Murray, published on his website, Mar 26, 2019
Related: Britain in the dock over the forced dislocation of the Chagos Islanders, broadcast of ‘The Alex Salmond Show’, on RT, Mar 21, 2019 In this week’s edition, we examine the implications of the International Court of Justice ruling on the Chagos Islands. We interview Chagossian community representatives and former U.K. Ambassador Craig Murray.
Civilian airport, electrical network hit by Israeli missiles in Aleppo, Syria, RT, Mar 28, 2019
* Emboldened by Trump’s move to encourage Israel annexation of Golan Heights, Israel launches missile attacks against Aleppo, Syria, Press TV, Mar 27, 2019
* Syrian army says Israeli strikes hit northern Aleppo city, by Suleiman Al-Khalidi, Reuters, Mar 27, 2019
…The blasts caused an electrical blackout in Aleppo, the country’s second largest city and a major industrial hub that bore the brunt of years of fighting and heavy Russian and Syrian aerial bombardment on its former rebel-held areas.
Military experts say Aleppo is one of the main areas where Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards have a strong military presence supporting local militias that have for years been fighting alongside the Syrian army to defeat insurgents. Two opposition sources familiar with Tehran’s military presence in the area said large ammunitions depot and a logistics hub that belonged to Iranian-backed militias inside the industrial zone received direct hits. Other strikes hit the vicinity of Nairab military airport on the outskirts of Aleppo in the second such strike on the installation used by Iranian troops in less than a year, they added…
Austrian chancellor grappling with revelation that anti-Muslim mass murderer in Christchurch gave money to Austria’s far-right ‘Identitarian’ movement, Reuters, Mar 27, 2019
Related: How the swarm of white extremism spreads itself online, by Bharath Ganesh, guest writer, The Spinoff.co.nz, Mar 27, 2019
Donald Trump’s support of Israel’s annexation of the Golan, by Helena Cobban, Mondoweiss, Mar 26, 2019
…The Trump regime’s decision on the Golan Heights raises the prospect of Washington’s support for Israel’s other major act of Anschluss (annexation)–that of Greater East Jerusalem, which Israel announced in 1967– may not be far behind.
…Independent Syria has long been in the cross-hairs of the many Zionist extremists and neoconservatives who wield such power in US politics. Syria has been subjected to U.S. sanctions continuously since 1979. In the mid-1990s, when key neoconservatives released their landmark document on the Middle East, “A Clean Break”, it argued mainly for two policy changes: a “break” from Washington’s longheld support of the principle of “land for peace”, and the overthrow of central government power in Syria.
[In this above analysis in Mondoweiss, writer Helena Cobban traces the long history of Israel and Western hostility to Syria. Yet, the right-wing socialists of the ‘International Socialists’ and Trotksyist groups around the world have aggressively argued for years that the U.S. has no desire to weaken or subjugate the government of Syria and its people. They argue that the regime-change war which has caused so much destruction in Syria is, in fact, a case of a ‘popular revolution’ being suppressed by the Syrian government. (This ‘popular revolution’ has no identifiable program, organizations or leaders, but this is apparently a mere trifling detail.) The Western leftists’ aggressive stand and the confusion it has sown have contributed in no small measure to the difficulty in building a broad, international movement to oppose the wars and annexation plans in the Middle East of the U.S., Israel and their allies in Europe, Canada and Australasia, including the targetting of the people and government of Iran.]
* Global outcry over U.S. decision to encourage Israel annexation of Syria’s Golan Heights, Press TV, Mar 27, 2019
* Kemala Harris, seeking Democratic Party presidential nomination, proudly meets with AIPAC executive after staging no-show at AIPAC annual conference, Mondoweiss, Mar 26, 2019
‘Anti-Semitism’ and double standards, by Daniel Lazare, special to Consortium News, Mar 26, 2019 Criticizing Israel is considered bad form, writes Daniel Lazare, but keeping mum about Saudi crimes is fine as long as the donations continue to flow
…The Saudis are not alone in spreading anti-Semitism. The U.S. has failed to criticize Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko for permitting neo-Nazis militias to run riot, attacking feminists, gays, and Roma and holding torchlight parades in honor of World War II collaborator Stepan Bandera in which they chant “Jews out.” Washington is silent about the Baltics, where demonstrations in honor of Hitler’s SS units are now an annual occurrence…
Kurdish politicians urge protesters to quit hunger strike in Turkey, by Ayla Jean Yackley, Al-Monitor, Mar 27, 2019 [Turkey will hold municipal elections on March 31.]
Related: Kurds in Afrin celebrate Nowruz despite ban, by Mohammad Abdulsattar Ibrahim, Al-Monitor, Mar 26, 2019
Russian troops in Venezuela complicate bipartisan Washington’s plans for regime change in Venezuela, by Eoin Higgins, staff writer, Common Dreams, Mar 25, 2019
Related: Russia on military planes in Venezuela: Our specialists are there based on cooperation treaty, RT, Mar 26, 2019 Russian specialists are in Venezuela as part of the 2001 military-technical cooperation deal with Caracas that doesn’t need further approval, Moscow said after reports of the arrival of two military planes with troops and cargo. Russia develops its relations with Venezuela “in strict accordance with the Constitution of this country and in full respect of its legislation,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said…
Robert Mueller-led investigation finds ‘no collusion’ between Trump campaign and Russian gov’t; Glenn Greenwald and David Cay Johnston debate the findings, broadcast on Democracy Now!, Mar 25, 2019 (with transcript) [David Cay Johnston is one of the most vociferous of the liberal ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy writers in the United States. Glenn Greenwald has harsh words for the entire Russiagate conspiracy after investigator and former FBI director Robert Mueller delivered his long-awaited reported on March 24, concluding there is “no evidence” of collusion between the 2016 Donald Trump election campaign and the Russian government or its agencies. Russiagate conspiratorialists are now trying to breathe new life into their story thanks to the decision by the Mueller inquiry to extend its theatrics by releasing its report exclusively and only to the Trump-appointed Attorney General William Barr. He was appointed a mere six weeks ago.]
Excerpt from the broadcast: GLENN GREENWALD: This is the saddest media spectacle I’ve ever seen, since I began practicing journalism in 2005. And what makes it even sadder is to watch all of the people who vested their journalistic credibility into what proved to be a complete and total fraud and scam continue to try and cling to some vestige of credibility by continuing to spin conspiracy theories that are even more reckless and more unhinged than the ones to which we’ve been subjected for three years. The great journalist and writer Matt Taibbi wrote in an article over the weekend, and I agree with him completely, that as humiliating as the media debacle was leading up to the Iraq War, what they did over the last three years in the Trump-Russia story makes all of that look like a pimple. Even though obviously the Iraq War was much more destructive because it led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, the errors and lies and falsehoods and recklessness and speculation that we’ve been subjected to, over and over and over, that Robert Mueller just definitively debunked, is far more humiliating journalistically, far more unjustifiable journalistically. And who knows where it will lead to? It’s ratcheted up tensions between the two most dangerous nuclear-armed powers in the world, Russia and the United States, that the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists says has brought us to two minutes before midnight on their Doomsday Clock. So it’s also been extremely dangerous in ways that we don’t yet know…
* Comment by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation on the conclusions of the report on the alleged Russian interference in U.S. elections, statement released on March 25, 2019 …It is indicative in this context that the US special services have recently refused to disclose correspondence conducted between Russia and the United States via cyber threat alert channels from October 2016 to January 2017. The American and international public would have certainly appreciated the grotesque technical arguments of the Obama administration, which accused Russia of hacking attacks for no good reason in a bid to discredit Donald Trump…
* It’s official: Russiagate is this generation’s ‘Weapons of Mass Distraction’ big lie, by Matt Taibbi, published by Rolling Stone, Mar 25, 2019 The Iraq war faceplant damaged the reputation of the press. Russiagate just destroyed it [This essay by Matt Taibbi is published on the web page of his new book, Hate Inc. The essay is an update to the book newly published online. The book can be read by subscribers to Rolling Stone.].
* The sleazy origins of Russiagate, by Robert Parry, Consortium News, Mar 29, 2017
The implosion of Russiagate, analysis by Aaron Maté, broadcast on the YouTube channel of The Grayzone Project, Mar 24, 2019 (15-minute broadcast)
* CNN humiliated on its Russiagate conspiracies while also backpedaling, The Jimmy Dore Show, on the program’s YouTube channel, with guest Aaron Maté, Mar 25, 2019 (23-minute broadcast)
* Russiagate fizzles out as Mueller ends investigation, The Jimmy Dore Show, on the program’s YouTube channel, Mar 23, 2019 (18-minute broadcast)
* [The liberal media and politicians in the U.S. and globally, supportive of the Democratic Party, the twin party of capitalist rule in the U.S., will now bemoan the outcome of the Mueller investigation/withchunt. But the form of the bemoaning will not be ‘Sorry, we were wrong, we misled you.’ On the contrary, they will claim that the ‘real issue’ is not failed accusations of Russia-Trump collusion but, rather, Trump’s qualifications to serve as president or not. That is, a Democratic Party president is needed in Trump’s place in an ugly faction fight among the U.S. ruling class. Which is the original source of the concocted ‘Russiagate’ scandal. Liberals will make much of the theatrical performance by yesterday’s hero Mueller in performing a secretive release of his report, to the Justice Department only. ‘What is Mueller hiding?’, they will ask rhetorically. The anti-Russia political left, for its part, is disarmed by its silence during the past five years concerning the New Cold War by NATO and the West against Russia and China. So the working classes of the world have endured another political setback at the hands of the two-party aggression and theatrics called Russiagate. The world is burning from global warming, the hot flames of nuclear war being stirred by the U.S.-led alliance, and growing social and national disparities. Where is the left-wing, socialist alternative?]
Sour grapes at CounterPunch over Russigate; managing editor publishes rambling condemnation of journalists Greenwald and Taibbi who condemn the mainstream media’s Russiagate spectacle, commentary by Joshua Frank published in CounterPunch, March 26, 2019
* New York Times, a lead fomenter of Russiagate propaganda for three years, joins the rush to criticize Russiagate: Collusion was a seductive delusion, by Farhad Manjoo, opinion columnist, New York Times, Mar 25, 2019
* Silent on Russiagate until now, Jonathan Cook condemns Russiagate after secretive release of Robert Mueller report, commentary by Jonathan Cook, published on March 25, 2019
[The ‘Russiagate’ scam waged by Western media and governments has been part and parcel of the New Cold War against Russia and China and the related crises of global warming and rising social disparities in the world. Military threats and economic sanctions against Russia by NATO-member countries began in 2014. These were followed by the tidal wave of accusations that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. A common feature of the johnny-come-lately condemnations of Russiagate now being published is continued silence over the New Cold War. Even Chris Hedges at Truthdig who maintained a healthy skepticism towards Russiagate does not make the connection to the new cold war. (Truthdig continues to publish Russiagate conspiratorialists, such as Juan Cole.)]
U.S. air raid kills civilians in Kunduz, Afghanistan, Al-Jazeera, Mar 25, 2019 At least 10 children among those killed in Kunduz city as the UN registers a record number of civilian deaths in 2018
Related: U.S. airstrikes contribute to record number of children and adult civilians killed in Afghanistan, by Phillip Walter Wellman, Stars And Stripes, Feb 24, 2019
More civilians were killed in the war in Afghanistan last year than any other year since records began, with child deaths alone also reaching an all-time high, partly due to a spike in U.S. airstrikes, the United Nations said in a report on February 24. The findings added to a litany of discouraging data on the U.S.’s longest war and were released a day before American and Taliban officials were to resume direct talks in Qatar, which could lead to the U.S. pulling out of the 17-year conflict.
The U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan documented more than 3,800 civilian deaths in the country last year, including about 930 children, both annual records. Nearly 11,000 civilian casualties in total were recorded throughout the year… [See: Afghanistan: Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, Annual Report 2018, 86-page report, February 2018]
China halts purchases of Canadian canola seeds, by Rob Gillies, Associated Press, Mar 22, 2019 In 2018, China bought about 40 percent of Canada’s canola exports for a total of $2.1 billion
…Maduro’s accusations coincided with a visit by a delegation from the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The delegation is in Venezuela doing preliminary investigative work and meeting with pro- and anti-government actors in preparation for a possible future visit by UN High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet.
…Speaking from the Jipana automatised medical supply warehouse, Maduro announced the revamping of the public-sector pharmaceutical industry as the government looks to overcome severe shortages in the country’s medical sector. Maduro had previously identified the pharmaceutical industry as playing a key role in any solution to the current economic crisis. Jipana is the largest of five warehouses built with Chinese assistance that help supply the Barrio Adentro health program, public hospitals, dental clinics and pharmacies. The other four are located in Barinas, Lara, Aragua and Anzoátegui States…
* ‘Give voice to the Venezuelan people’: An interview with Venezuelan sociologist Reinaldo Iturriza, published in Venezuela Analysis, Mar 19, 2019
* Despite the crisis, Chavez’s legacy in Venezuela endures, by Federico Fuentes, reporting from Venezuela, in Green Left Weekly, Mar 22, 2019
The double standard of FBI prosecutions of domestic, violent political crimes, by Trevor Aaronson, published in The Intercept, Mar 23 2019 (fifth installment of an ongoing series ‘The threat from within’) …According to The Intercept’s review, 268 right-wing extremists prosecuted in federal court since 9/11 were allegedly involved in crimes that appear to meet the legal definition of domestic terrorism. Yet the Justice Department applied anti-terrorism laws against only 34 of them, compared to more than 500 alleged international terrorists…
The first 100 days of Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), by Kurt Hackbarth and Colin Mooers, Jacobin Magazine, Mar 19, 2019
* The war against Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, by Kurt Hackbarth and Colin Mooers, published in The Bullet (Canada), March 1, 2019
* Mexican government expands controversial preventive detention laws, by Ryan Mallett-Outtrim, Green Left Weekly, Feb 28, 2019
* Trump’s surprising new migrant policy ally in Mexico? The government, by Azam Ahmed and Kirk Semple, New York Times, Mar 1, 2019
Modern Monetary Theory isn’t helping, by Doug Henwood, published in Jacobin Magazine (New York), Feb 21, 2019 Now that policies made famous by Bernie Sanders–like Medicare for All, free college, and newer ones like the Green New Deal–are infiltrating the political mainstream, advocates are always faced with the question: ‘how would you pay for them?’ …How lovely would it be if you could just dismiss the question as an irrelevant distraction? Conveniently, there’s an economic doctrine that allows you to do just that: Modern Monetary Theory (MMT)…
Christchurch terror attacks: Critics condemn spy agencies’ surveillance strategy, report on Radio New Zealand, Mar 19, 2019
On March 18, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced an inquiry would be launched into the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) and Security Intelligence Service (SIS), as well as the police, customs and immigration. The inquiry will look at what the agencies could or should have known about the man accused of Friday’s Christchurch terror attacks and any impediments to sharing information.
…Former Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy said the response of officials to Muslims over what they see as a growing threat to them was “diabolical”. Dame Susan was instrumental as Race Relations Commissioner in helping Muslims alert authorities to their security fears. She said trying to get public officials to meet them was incredibly difficult, and even when they got in the door, no action was taken and they got little support…
* Queen’s Counsel Simon Mount says gun control recommendations of 1997 Thorp Report could have prevented mosque tragedy, by Jared Savage, New Zealand Herald, Mar 19, 2019 Only one of the 60 recommendations in the 1997 Thorp Report were picked up by National [Party] Government. Even that wasn’t passed into law following vigorous opposition from gun lobby…
* Sniper rifles with armour piercing rounds for sale on basic licence, by Jared Savage, New Zealand Herald, Mar 19, 2019
High-powered sniper rifles designed to fire armour-piercing rounds up to 2km can be purchased in New Zealand with the most basic firearms licence. Military forces around the world use semi-automatic models of the .50 calibre rifles, but bolt action versions are sold by gun stores here for less than $10,000. Videos posted on social media online show armour-piercing incendiary rounds punching through vehicle engines and concrete blocks.
Anyone who wants to purchase a restricted weapon, such as a military style semi-automatic, must give a “good reason” to police for the importation to be approved. But the .50 calibre rifles and armour piercing rounds are available to anyone in New Zealand with a standard A-category licence. Someone as young as 16 can get an A-category licence…
Feigning indifference about Israel’s role as an architect of Islamophobia is unforgivable, by Iqbal Jassat, Palestine Chronicle, Mar 15, 2019
Related: Rupert Murdoch’s Islamophobic media empire, by CJ Werleman, TRT World (Turkey), Mar 20, 2019
The ANZAC legacy is white supremacy, by Tim Leadbeater, published in Redline [‘contemporary Marxist analysis’, New Zealand, Mar 20, 2019
Why stopping wars is essential for stopping climate change, by Elaine Graham-Leigh, published by Stop The War, Mar 18, 2019 [The author misses the most debilitating consequence of the present-day rise of imperialist militarism and war: it weakens the working class forces which are the most important potential forces for leading a worldwide movement for social and ecological justice. The debilitating effects of war are amplified when confusion and disarray prevails among social justice forces. To wit, the author makes no mention of the most serious war threat in the world today, namely, the new cold war by the NATO military alliance (and its allies in Japan and Australasia) against Russia and increasingly against China. That threat is made doubly dangerous by the renewal of the nuclear arms race by the U.S. government and military.]
Bolsonaro gets harsh reality check as Brazil lawmakers rebel, by Simone Preissler Iglesias and Samy Adghirni, Bloomberg News, Mar 22, 2019 and see: Ex-President Temer arrested in Brazil on corruption charges, by Peter Prengaman and Mauricio Savarese, Associated Press, Mar 21, 2019
* Trump and Bolsonaro join forces to back regime change in Venezuela and attack media as ‘fake news’, interview with Maria Luísa Mendonça, director of the Network for Social Justice and Human Rights in Brazil and visiting scholar at the City University of New York, broadcast on Democracy Now!, Mar 20, 2019 (17-minute interview)
* Brazil leader Jair Bolsonaro woos Donald Trump, opens base to U.S. rockets, visits CIA and dines with Steve Bannon, report by South China Morning Post, Mar 19, 2019 Bolsonaro has broken Brazilian precedent by heading to Washington, not Argentina, for his first official trip abroad
* Trump sees ‘North-South axis’ of power in budding relationship with Brazil, by Franco Ordoñez, McClatchy News, Mar 19, 2019
* As Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro prepares to meet Donald Trump, his family’s close ties to notorious paramilitary gangs draw scrutiny and outrage, by Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept, Mar 19, 2019
* As Venezuela crisis deepens, U.S. sharpens focus on Colombia rebel threat, by Phil Stewart, Reuters, Mar 19, 2019 As the United States makes its biggest diplomatic push in Latin America in years to try to oust Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, the U.S. military is zeroing in on a byproduct of the crisis: a strengthening of Colombian rebels on both sides of Venezuela’s border…
World-low nine per cent of Ukrainians confident in government, by Zach Bikus, published by Gallup Poll, Mar 21, 2019
[Notwithstanding its grim findings on Ukraine, Gallup Poll nevertheless manages to add a biased and inaccurate anti-Russia angle to its poll report, writing, “President Petro Poroshenko’s predecessor, Viktor Yanukovych, was involved in a number of scandals and was ousted after the Maidan revolution in 2014. Yanukovych fled to Russia because he is wanted for high treason by the Ukrainian courts.” Yanukovych’s ‘ouster’ was a right-wing ‘coup’, culminating on February 21, 2014 when Yanukovych fled to Russia fearing for his life. He did not seek refuge in Russia “because he is wanted for high treason”. The ‘treason’ accusations came later, by the NATO-backed coup government. That government and its courts have utterly failed to protect Ukrainians from the violence of the neo-Nazi paramilitaries that are supported by NATO and form an important base of the extreme-conservative government of President Petro Poroshenko. They are conducting a political, constitutional and cultural counter-revolution to destroy the multilingual and multinational character of pre-Maidan Ukraine.
[Anti-Russia leftists in the West publish the occasional analysis of the calamitous state of affairs in Ukraine brought about by the 2014 ‘Maidan Revolution’. But their accusations of ‘Russian intervention’ in Ukraine and ‘Russian annexation of Crimea’ serve to mask the New Cold War being waged against Russia by the U.S. and its NATO allies. Their dismissal of the pro-autonomy movement in Donbass (eatern Ukraine) as being ‘pro-Russia seperatism’ plays a similar role of masking the aggressions of Western imperialism. A recent example of such ‘leftist’ analysis was written by a Ukrainian scholar and published in Rosalux.de (Germany) and in The Bullet (Canada).]
Related: NATO-country ambassadors pen letter to top police official in Ukraine expressing concern over the public relations optics of Ukraine’s extreme-right and neo-Nazi paramilitaries, report on Radio Free Europe, Mar 22, 2019
The myth of the ‘lone wolf’ terrorist continues with New Zealand attack, by Mark Juergensmeyer, Rewire News, Mar 21, 2019
Related: U.S. counties that hosted a 2016 Trump rally saw a 226 percent increase in hate crimes, by Ayal Feinberg, Regina Branton and Valerie Martinez-Ebers, Washington Post, Mar 22, 2019
Boeing was ‘go, go, go’ to beat Airbus with its 737 Max re-design, by David Gelles, Natalie Kitroeff, Jack Nicas and Rebecca R. Ruiz, New York Times, Mar 23, 2019
* Doomed Boeing 737 Max flights were missing two key safety features that were sold as ‘optional extras, RT, Mar 22, 2019
* Greedy Boeing’s avoidable design and software time bombs, by Ralph Nader, CounterPunch, Mar 22, 2019
* Indonesia’s national airline seeks to cancel order of Boeing Max 8s, by Muktita Suhartono and Amie Tsang, New York Times, Mar 22, 2019
Indonesia’s national airline has told Boeing that it wants to cancel an order of 737 Max 8 jets, the carrier’s spokesman said on Friday, adding that its passengers had lost confidence in the model after two deadly crashes in five months. The airline, Garuda Indonesia, said that it sent a letter to Boeing on March 14 seeking to cancel its order of 49 planes, of which just one had been delivered so far. The deal is estimated to be worth $4.9 billion…
Until investigators determine exactly what happened on both the Ethiopian Airlines flight and the Lion Air flight, it could be difficult for airlines to change contracts with Boeing. Norwegian Air, a low-cost airline with one of the largest Max 8 fleets outside the United States, said last week that it expected Boeing to cover the costs of the aircraft being grounded. But compensation could also be difficult to argue for at this stage, experts said…
Russia seeks to hold reluctant Turkey accountable in Syria, by Fehim Tastekin, Al-Monitor, Mar 20, 2019
Related: Trump says ISIS to be defeated ‘by tonight’, but 400 U.S. troops will stay in Syria, RT, Mar 20, 2019 U.S. President Donald Trump has confirmed that 400 U.S. soldiers will remain in Syria indefinitely, while once again promising a complete defeat of Islamic State terrorists there, specifying that it would be “by tonight”…
China is winning the war for Nepali Buddhism, by Lauren Jackson, The Diplomat (India), Mar 21, 2019
No mention of right-wing extremist threats in ten years of New Zealand spying and police services, report by Radio New Zealand, Mar 20, 2019
…The Islamic Women’s Council has said it told the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet at a January 2017 meeting of the ‘extreme urgency’ of its concerns about rising racism and the alt-right, and also alerted the SIS.
Former Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy said the response of officials to Muslims over what they see as a growing threat to them had been “diabolical”. She said trying to get public officials to meet them was incredibly difficult, and even when they got in the door, no action was taken and they got little support.
…Radio NZ has examined ten years of annual reports and ministerial briefings and the threat of right nationalists is never specifically mentioned. There is a heavy focus on Islamic fundamentalists, in the context of several terrorist attacks in other countries and conflict in the Middle East and parts of Africa…
* A closer look at New Zealand’s new weapons ban, Stuff.co.nz, Mar 22, 2019
* Earlier changes to gun law overseen by Jacinda Ardern criticised, by Tony Wall, Stuff.co.nz, Mar 21 2019 Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern oversaw recent changes which meant gun licence holders did not need to visit police stations when applying for permits for assault rifles, but could instead apply online...
* Headscarf a simple show of respect for Muslim community, event organisers say, by Liz McDonald, Stuff.co.nz, Mar 21 2019 New Zealand women wanting to wear a headscarf at Friday’s ‘Headscarf for Harmony’ solidarity event upcoming have been told not to worry about doing it wrongly
Venezuela’s future depends on China, Russia, by Vijay Prashad (Globetrotter), published in Asia Times, Mar 20, 2019
FBI joining criminal investigation into certification of Boeing 737 MAX, by Steve Miletich, Seattle Times, Mar 20, 2019 The FBI has joined the criminal investigation into the certification of the Boeing 737 MAX, lending its considerable resources to an inquiry already being conducted by U.S. Department of Transportation agents, according to people familiar with the matter. The federal grand jury investigation, based in Washington, D.C., is looking into the certification process that approved the safety of the new Boeing plane, two of which have crashed since October…
* Doomed jets lacked two features Boeing sold as extras, New York Times, Mar 21, 2019
* Captain of doomed Ethiopian airliner had no training on 737 MAX 8 simulator, RT, Mar 21, 2019
* Off-duty pilot saved Lion Air Boeing 737 Max flight one day before the airline’s deadly crash on Oct 29, 2018, by Alan Levin and Harry Suhartono, Bloomberg News, Mar 19, 2019
American mercenaries arrested in Haiti were part of a half-baked scheme to move $80 million on behalf of embattled president, special report by Matthew Cole and Kim Ives, published in Haiti Liberté (print weekly) and The Intercept, Mar 20, 2019 (Kim Ives is interviewed on Democracy Now! broadcast of March 21, 2019 (interview begins at 28′ mark of daily program) [For several months, the Haitian people have risen against their president and government, in part due to the squandering and embezzlement of hundreds of millions of dollars made available to the government and country through the Venezuela-sponsored ‘Petrocaraibe’ oil purchase program. The Haitian government left the program in 2018, bowing to pressure from the U.S. government over its embargo against Venezuela.]
Vladimir Putin visits and speaks in Simferopol, Crimea on fifth anniversary marking Crimea’s reunification with Russia, text of speech by Vladimir Putin, published on the website of the President of Russia, March 18, 2019
Previously reported: Crimea celebrates fifth anniversary of vote to join Russian Federation.
[Crimea voted on March 16, 2014 to leave Ukraine after a right-wing coup ousted Ukraine’s elected president and emasculated its legislature. The coup was financed and otherwise supported by Western governments or their agencies, and it was welomed by Western ‘human rights’ and ‘left-wing’ organizations. March 18 is an official holiday in Crimea to mark reunification with Russia.
[Prior to its secession from Ukraine, nearly all of Crimea’s electricity and water supply was from Ukraine. Electricity supply was cut while water supply was drastically reduced. Road, rail and air connections were cut. Western governments and ‘human rights’ organizations in the West turned a blind eye to the human rights implications of these actions by Ukraine. But it was all for naught—road, rail and air connections to Crimea are assured by the newly-opened Kerch Straight Bridge and an expanded airport at the capital city of Simferopol. Water is sourced locally as is electricity production. Many large, infrastructure investments that have lifted Crimea out of its previous, have-not status under Ukraine, with more to come.]
The roots of police violence in Chicago: How cops have targeted communities of color for decades, interview with Lilia Fernández, professor of history and Latino studies at Rutgers University and the author of Brown in the Windy City: Mexicans and Puerto Ricans in Postwar Chicago, and Flint Taylor, an attorney with People’s Law Office and author of The Torture Machine: Racism and Police Violence in Chicago, broadcast on Democracy Now!, Mar 20, 2019 (with transcript, full story begins at 31′ mark of the broadcast)
Related: Review of ‘The Torture Machine: Racism and Police Violence in Chicago’, brief review of new book by author Flint Taylor, in Publisher’s Weekly, Dec 17, 2018
Ecuador president Lenin Moreno was elected left in 2017, is governing right, by Timm Benjamin Schützhofer, published by NACLA, Mar 13, 2019 Lenín Moreno has allied with his political opponents to implement a conservative economic agenda, threatening to undo the country’s strides in tackling poverty and inequality over the past decade.
U.S. government is using several clandestine shelters to detain immigrant children, by Aura Bogado and Patrick Michels, published by Reveal (Center for Investigative Reporting), Mar 18, 2019 … It remains unclear how many total sites are under operation, but there are at least five in Arkansas, Florida, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Virginia, holding at least 16 boys and girls for the refugee agency, some as young as 9 years old…
Oil profits grease Trump administration’s move to recognize Israeli annexation of Golan, by Finian Cunningham, columnist, RT, Mar 20, 2019
U.S. bars entry to International Criminal Court investigators, by Matthew Lee, Associated Press, Mar 15, 2019
The United States will revoke or deny visas to International Criminal Court personnel seeking to investigate alleged war crimes and other abuses committed by U.S. forces in Afghanistan or elsewhere, and may do the same with those who seek action against Israel, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on March 15.
Pompeo is acting on a threat delivered in September 2018 by U.S. national security adviser John Bolton, framing the action as necessary to prevent the international body from infringing on U.S. sovereignty by prosecuting American forces or allies for torture or other war crimes. “We are determined to protect the American and allied military and civilian personnel from living in fear of unjust prosecution for actions taken to defend our great nation,” Pompeo said…
Related: ‘The U.S. is acting like an authoritarian regime by barring ICC officials probing war crimes’, interview with Jamil Dakwar, director of the Human Rights Program at the American Civil Liberties Union, broadcast on Democracy Now!, Mar 19, 2019
Christchurch harbored white supremacists before massacre, by Stephen Wright, Associated Press, Mar 19, 2019 The leafy New Zealand city where a self-proclaimed racist fatally shot 50 people at mosques during Friday prayers is known for its picturesque meandering river and English heritage. For decades, Christchurch has also been the center of the country’s small but persistent white supremacist movement…
* Trump has retweeted at least four white nationalist [sic] accounts that were later suspended, by Ben Mathis-Lilley, Slate.com, Mar 18, 2019 [Liberal media in the Western countries frequently uses the term ‘white nationalists’ instead of ‘extreme-right’ or ‘neo-Nazis’. That’s because it is in the business of softening and polishing the image of imperialist democracy.].
* As Canadian gov’t sheds tears for Christchurch massacre victims, it plans further restrictions on refugee asylum claims, by Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press, Mar 15, 2019 Border Security Minister Bill Blair says he is talking to lawmakers in the United States about closing a loophole in Canada’s border agreement with the U.S. — one seen as giving asylum-seekers reason to cross into Canada through fields and forests. The Safe Third Country Agreement says asylum-seekers cannot claim refugee protection in Canada if they arrive at an official border checkpoint from a country that is considered safe, such as the United States. But they can claim refugee status if they are already in Canada, which is why tens of thousands of asylum-seekers have been crossing into Canada through unofficial entry points on foot…
* Canada to extend military training mission in Ukraine, by David Ljunggren, Reuters, Mar 17, 2019
Following Christchurch massacre, a national day of ‘peace, love, solidarity’ needed, by Mike Treen, published in The Daily Blog, Mar 18, 2019 (Mike Treen in National Director of Unite Union in New Zealand and a columnist in The Daily Blog.)
Related: Christchurch mosque attacks: Kiwis start voluntarily handing in semi-automatic weapons, by Joanne Butcher, Stuff.co.nz, Mar 19 2019 …Police figures show that nearly 7000 New Zealanders are endorsed to have military-style semi-automatic guns – similar to two of the guns carried by the accused mosque murderer…
Families of victims of 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting massacre can sue gun manufacturer, Connecticut Supreme Court decides, by Dave Altimari, Tribune News Service, Mar 18, 2019
On March 14, the Connecticut Supreme Court narrowly reversed a ruling by a lower court judge dismissing a lawsuit by the families of victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting against Remington Arms Company, allowing the case to proceed. In a 4-3 decision the court remanded the landmark gun case back to Bridgeport Superior Court and possibly created a path that other mass shooting victims can follow to get around the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, known as PLCAA, which has protected the manufacturers of the AR-15 assault rifle from lawsuits.
The ruling paves the way for the families to subpoena internal documents on how the gun companies have marketed the AR-15, which has become the weapon of choice for mass shooters. The gun manufacturers have closely guarded information on how they market the assault weapons…
[On December 14, 2012, 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children between six and seven years old and six adult staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Before driving to the school, he shot and killed his mother at their Newtown home. As first responders arrived at the school, Lanza committed suicide. Wikipedia.]
The Intercept, a billionaire-funded public charity, cuts back, by Charles R. Davis, published by Columbia Journalism Review, Mar 15, 2019
On the ground in Venezuela, versus the media spectacle, interview with Alan Gignoux and Carolina Graterol, published in CounterPunch, Mar 18, 2019 British photojournalist Alan Gignoux and Venezuelan journalist-filmmaker Carolina Graterol, both based in London, went to Venezuela for a month to shoot a documentary for a major global TV channel. They talked with journalist Paul Cochrane (Middle East Eye) about the mainstream media’s portrayal of Venezuela compared to their experiences on the ground.
…poverty is not as bad as what I’ve seen in Brazil or Colombia, where there are lots of street children. Venezuela doesn’t seem to have a homeless problem, and the favelas have running water and electricity. The extreme poverty didn’t seem as bad as in other South American countries. People told me before going I should be worried about crime, but we worked with a lady from El Salvador, and she said Venezuela was easy compared to her country, where there are security guards with machine guns outside coffee shops.
* Journalist Eva Bartlett interviewed from Venezuela, broadcast on the Jimmy Dore Show, Mar 17, 2019 (34-minute interview)
* The reality behind Trump’s coalition for regime change in Venezuela, by Mark Weisbrot, published in The New Republic, Mar 13, 2019 [In this valuable survey of the history of U.S. policy towards Latin America, the writer seems unaware that U.S. neighbour Canada is a key participant in the U.S.-led drive to overthrow the Venezuelan government. The Canadian government was a key player in the violent coups in Haiti in 2004 and Honduras in 2009.]
‘No war for oil’ say thousands marching in Washington against U.S. intervention in Venezuela, report on The Real News Network, Mar 17, 2019 (seven-minute video report) and report on Common Dreams, Mar 17, 2019
Flawed analysis, failed oversight: How Boeing, FAA certified the suspect 737 MAX flight control system, by Dominic Gates, aerospace reporter, Seattle Times, March 17, 2019
New Zealand shooting suspect’s worldwide trips investigated, RT, Mar 16, 2019
The Australian accused of the deadly shooting at two mosques in New Zealand traveled around the globe, including Eastern Europe, Turkey, Pakistan and probably North Korea. Authorities in several countries are probing his trips.
Before his shooting spree left 49 worshipers dead and 40 people injured in Christchurch on Friday, Brenton Harrison Tarrant published a manifesto where the 28-year-old mentioned visiting Pakistan, North Korea, Turkey, France, Poland, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Iceland, Argentina and many other countries. Now, some of these states are investigating what he might have done there and whether he picked up his radical ideas during his travels…
Murdering Muslims is not extremism. In Australia, it’s business as usual, by Michael Brull, The New Matilda, Mar 17, 2019
Tears For Christchurch: Australia first imported hate in 1788, now we’re in the export business, by Chris Graham, The New Matilda, Mar 16, 2019
Misguided spying and the New Zealand massacre, by Suzie Dawson, Consortium News, Mar 15, 2019 (Suzie Dawson is a New Zealand journalist, activist and current president of the Internet Party of New Zealand.) …We know thanks to the findings of an inquiry by the State Services Commission last December that as many as a dozen government agencies, including the NZ Police, were too busy squandering their resources spying on NGOs such as GreenpeaceNZ, political parties such as the New Zealand Green Party and then-Internet Party aligned Mana Movement, and anti-TPP protesters and activists such as myself. As if that weren’t egregious enough, they were even spying on Christchurch earthquake insurance claimants and historical victims of institutional state child abuse. An ex-cabinet minister and now chief executive of Greenpeace New Zealand, Russel Norman called it “New Zealand’s Watergate moment.” …
* Semi-automatic weapons easily available for purchase in New Zealand, the Christchurch mass murderer owned two. There is no national gun registry. Report on ABC.net.au, Mar 15, 2019 …New Zealand has almost double the number of guns per person compared to Australia — around one weapon for every four people. It ranks 18th in the world for the rate of civilian gun ownership, reports the Small Arms Survey… [Per capital gun ownership by country, in Wikipedia. New Zealand ranks #20, behind U.S. (#1) and Canada (#7), but far ahead of Russia (#68).].
* The Christchurch mosque murderer was able to get hold of large-capacity, semi-automatic magazines with ease, by Tony Wall, Stuff.co.nz, Mar 16 2019
Trump factor stands out in New Zealand mosque massacre that killed 49, Press TV, Mar 15, 2019 [Western governments are issuing predictable and hypocritical statements of ‘grief’ and ‘condolence’ after an Australian, racist extremist went on a killing rampage in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15. NATO-member governments support countless right-wing, extremist movements in the world, including the neo-Nazi infused coup government in Ukraine and the governments of Israel and Colombia. They destroy countries through economic exploitation, environmental destruction and regime-change wars. Then they decry the waves of human emigration that inevitably follow, stirring prejudice and hatred. Case in point: Donald Trump and his Mexico ‘border wall’ hate-mongering. Western leaders feign discomfort if not opposition to Trump, but parrot ‘us too’ when it comes to U.S./Trump-led regime change efforts against Venezuela, the new cold war against Russia and China, and countless other imperialist predations.]
* Broken white men and the racist media that fuels their terrorism, commentary by C.J. Werleman, published in Sydney Morning Herald, Mar 15, 2019 [Missing from the writer’s listing of the crimes of racist media is media’s sympathetic reporting of Israel’s settler project against Palestinians.] * Brenton Tarrant, the racist, Australian extremist who attacked two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, report on Heavy.com, Mar 15, 2019
* Australian senator Fraser Anning condemned after he says ‘immmigration’ caused murder rampage at Christchurch mosques, The Independent, Mar 15, 2019
Australians are asking how did we get here? Well, Islamophobia is practically enshrined as public policy, by Jason Wilson. columnist, The Guardian, Mar 17, 2019
The imperial racist saga comes home to the U.S., where it began, by Glen Ford, executive editor, Black Agenda Report, Mar 14, 2019 What makes U.S. progressives think that the Lords of Capital will be more tolerant of austerity-busting ‘socialists’ here at home than they are with Venezuela?
Top businessman in NATO-member Slovakia charged with ordering February 2018 murders of journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée, Reuters, Mar 14, 2019 …Jan Kuciak reported on fraud cases involving politically connected businessmen before he was found shot dead at home with his fiancée in February 2018. The murders stoked public anger over perceived corruption in Slovakia, a country of 5.4 million people, leading to the biggest protests since communism ended three decades earlier. Amid that unrest, Robert Fico resigned as prime minister, a post he had held for 10 of the previous 12 years. His government has stayed in power but the ruling party has weakened in polls…
Investigators find new clues pointing to potential cause of 737 MAX crashes as FAA details Boeing’s fix, by Paul Roberts, business reporter, Seattle Times, Mar 15, 2019
* Pilot training under scrutiny after two crashes of new Boeing 737 models, by Natalie Kitroeff, David Gelles, Jack Nicas, Thomas Kaplan and Maggie Haberman, New York Times, Mar 16, 2019 …When the 737 Max was introduced, Boeing believed that pilots who had flown an earlier model didn’t need additional simulator training and regulators agreed. The F.A.A. didn’t change those rules after the Lion Air crash in October and there are no plans to do so now…
* Boeing promised a software fix in 2018 for 737 Max jets but pilots are still waiting, by Natalie Kitroeff, Jack Nicas and Thomas Kaplan, New York Times, Mar 14, 2019 Weeks after a deadly crash involving a Boeing plane in October 2018, company officials met separately with the pilot unions at Southwest Airlines and American Airlines. The officials said they planned to update the software for their 737 Max jets, the plane involved in the disaster, by around the end of 2018. It was the last time the Southwest pilots’ union heard from Boeing. Months later, the carriers are still waiting for a fix. After a second 737 Max crashed in Ethiopia on March 10, United States regulators said the software update would be ready by April…
* Boeing 737 Max hit trouble right away on takeoff from Addis Ababa, pilot’s tense radio messages show, by Selam Gebrekidan and James Glanz, New York Times, Mar 14, 2019 …”The speed [upon takeoff] was very high,” said Mr. Cox, a former executive air safety chairman of the Air Line Pilots Association in the United States. “The question is why. The plane accelerated far faster than it should.” …
* Automated flying systems degrade pilots’ hands-on flying skills, by Jack Nicas and Zach Wichter, New York Times, Mar 14, 2019 …Pilots now spend more time learning these automated systems than practicing hands-on flying, so newer pilots are less comfortable with taking manual control when the computer steers them wrong, according to interviews with a dozen pilots and pilot instructors at major airlines and aviation universities around the world. “The automation in the aircraft, whether it’s a Boeing or an Airbus, has lulled us into a sense of security and safety,” said Kevin Hiatt, a former Delta Air Lines pilot who later ran flight safety for JetBlue. Pilots now rely on autopilot so often, “they become a systems operator rather than a stick-and-rudder pilot.” …
* Faulty sensor data may have caused Boeing 737 MAX crashes, by Andrew Wheeler, Engineering.com, Mar 12, 2019
* Wall Street Journal reports that software fix to Boeing 737 Max 8 planes was delayed in part by government shutdown, report on CNN, Mar 13, 2019
* Pilots warned of ‘nose down’ Boeing 737 Max 8 problems before Ethiopia crash, by Gordon Dickson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Mar 12, 2019
[The story of the recent crashes of two Boeing 737 Max aircraft is being revealed, bit by bit, in news coverage and analysis. What is not being revealed is how increased passenger aviation travel is contributing to intense, global competition to build and sell the aircraft to service that travel. Rising air passenger travel, in turn, has horrendous environmental consequences. Stefan Gössling, a professor at Sweden’s Lund and Linnaeus universities and co-editor of the book Climate Change and Aviation: Issues, Challenges and Solutions, says air travel contributes some five per cent of global warming emissions, well above the industry claim of two per cent. And speaking of global warming emissions:
* The ‘ecological foundations of society’ are in peril, a massive UN report on the state of the world’s environment warns, by Andrew Kann, CNN, Mar 14, 2019 …The 700-plus page report is the sixth Global Environment Outlook and is the UN’s most comprehensive report on the state of the global environment since the fifth edition in 2012. More than 250 scientists and experts from more than 70 countries contributed to the assessment… (Download Global Environment Outlook 6 here. A 28-page summary is here.) ]
Boeing disaster isolates FAA with China leading push against Boeing 737 Max aircraft, Bloomberg News, Mar 13, 2019
* Airbus rebrands Bombardier C-Series as A220, knocking Boeing-Embraer lineup, by Marisa Garcia, Forbes Magazine, July 10, 2018
* Takeover by Airbus of Bombardier CSeries jet could end up changing the world’s aerospace industry, Financial Post, Oct 17, 2017 … Bombardier’s CSeries jet benefits from a new type of efficient engine. Its design launch in 2008 eventually prompted Airbus to put the same generation of engine on its own A320 to protect its main profit source. That, in turn, forced Boeing to dump plans for an all-new single-aisle plane in 2011 and opt for a makeover of its best-selling 737 with similar engines, to be known as 737 MAX…
[The underlying story of the tragedy surrounding the two crashes of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft is the deepening competition between the world’s jet aircraft manufacturers. That competition is increasingly shaped by the new cold war drive by the U.S. and its allies against China and Russia. This story, evidently, will not be pursued by Western media. But left-wing media, too, will stay away from it due to its confusion over the politics of the new cold war, in turn caused by blind hostility to the Russian and Chinese governments.]
Trump regime’s proposed federal budget hikes military spending to record levels, to be financed by cutting Medicaid and other social services, by Jake Johnson, staff writer, Common Dreams, Mar 12, 2019 While giving the bloated Pentagon “even more than it hoped for” by boosting U.S. military spending to $750 billion—an increase of $34 billion from last year—President Donald Trump’s 2020 budget would cut Medicaid by $1.1 trillion over the next decade. Set to be unveiled on March 11, the president’s budget will call for a total of $2.7 trillion in cuts to safety net programs, environmental protection, food and housing assistance, and foreign aid over ten years, according to a summary reviewed by the Washington Post…
Related: Trump’s $34 trillion deficit and debt bomb, by Jack Rasmus, published on his website, Mar 15, 2019 This week Trump released his latest budget for 2019-20 fiscal year. It calls for $2.7 trillion in various social spending cuts over the decade, including $872 billion in reductions in Medicare, Social Security and disability spending; another $327 billion in cuts to food stamps, housing support and Medicaid; a further $200 billion in student loan cuts; and hundreds of billions more in cuts to education, government workers’ pensions, and funds to operate the EPA and other government agencies…
Report by a Code Pink-organized peace delegation from the U.S. to Iran, by Ann Wright, report published in Consortium News, Mar 14, 2019 Ann Wright reports on a citizen peace delegation’s recent trip to Iran, which included a meeting with the country’s foreign minister.
* How U.S. sanctions are hurting Iran: Report from a Code Pink peace delegation visit to Iran, by Medea Benjamin, published in CounterPunch, Mar 12, 2019
* Blog reports on Code Pink website of ten-day peace delegation to Iran, ending on March 8, 2919
‘How to spot a Jew’: Headline in newspaper being sold in the newstand of NATO-member Poland’s parliament, RT, Mar 14, 2019
Related: Nazi whitewash gathers momentum in Ukraine and Latvia as memory of the Holocaust fades, by David Pugliese, columnist, Ottawa Citizen (Postmedia), Feb 25, 2019
[David Pugliese was one of many Canadian journalists and publications targetted in a scurrilous report by a Marcus Kolga published by the Ottawa-based, right-wing ‘Macdonald-Laurier Institute for Public Policy’ on February 25, 2019. The report alleged widespread ‘Russian disinformation’ being conducted though media in Canada. A report by the same author was published as an op-ed commentary in the Toronto Star on January 11, 2018 and stated, “…the Putin regime has been paying millions of dollars annually to Canada’s largest cable providers to force-feed Russian state propaganda into six million Canadian households since 2009.” It went on, “The Kremlin’s media channels, such as RT, have one primary objective: to promote the decay of Western democracy by spreading the spores of propaganda throughout the world.” The Toronto Star is Canada’s largest-circulation daily newspaper.
[The Macdonald-Laurier Institute for Public Policy is also a loud voice for banning the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei from working or conducting research in Canada.]
Electricity recovery continues in Venezuela as U.S. withdraws diplomatic staff, by Ricardo Vaz, Venezuela Analysis, Mar 12, 2019
Related: President Maduro announces special commission to investigate sabotage of electricity grid, requests assistance from allied countries, Telesur, Mar 12, 2019
A skeptic’s guide to the Russiagate fixation, by Aaron Maté, The Nation, Mar 12, 2019 Robert Mueller has yet to allege collusion, and Democrats who accuse Trump of being a Kremlin conspirator are silent when his policies escalate tensions with Russia
* Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity: Robert Mueller’s forensics-free findings, by Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), published in Consortium News, Mar 13, 2019 The final Mueller report should be graded “incomplete,” says VIPS, whose forensic work proves the speciousness of the story that DNC emails published by WikiLeaks came from Russian hacking.
* RussiaGate as organised distraction, by Professor Oliver Boyd-Barrett (Bowling Green University), published by The Organisation for Propaganda Studies (UK), March 6, 2019
Previously reported: Militarism and capitalism reign as spotlight stays on Russia conspiracy, feature interview with journalist Aaron Maté, broadcast on the ‘Intercepted’ podcast on The Intercept, Mar 6, 2019, with host Jeremy Scahill (37-minute interview)
U.S. regime change blueprint proposed Venezuelan electricity blackouts as ‘watershed event’ for ‘galvanizing public unrest’, by Max Blumenthal, The Grayzone Project, Mar 11, 2019 The US-funded CANVAS organization that trained Juan Guaido and his allies produced a 2010 memo on exploiting electricity outages and urged the opposition ‘to take advantage of the situation…towards their needs’
Related: U.S. media erase years of Chavismo’s gains, by Gregory Shupak, published by Fairness And Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR), Feb 20, 2019
Government of Cuba condemns terrorist sabotage of Venezuelan electrical power system, statement of the Government of Cuba, published in Granma (Cuban daily), March 11, 2019 The Revolutionary Government strongly condemns the sabotage perpetrated against the Venezuelan electrical power system. It is a terrorist act intended to harm the defenseless population of an entire nation and take it hostage in the non-conventional war launched by the government of the United States against the legitimate government headed by comrade Nicolás Maduro Moros and the civic and military union of the Bolivarian, Chavista people…
Reductions in poverty? What globalized capitalism has truly wrought, essay by Michael Roberts (Marxist economist in UK), published on Michael Roberts Blog, Mar 12, 2019 …Anthropologist Jason Hickel has provided an excellent refutation of this claim that global poverty is being solved and falling fast, thanks to capitalism. Much depends on how to define poverty. Hickel: “If we use $7.40 per day, we see a decline in the proportion of people living in poverty, but it’s not nearly as dramatic as your rosy narrative would have it. In 1981 a staggering 71 per cent lived in poverty. Today it hovers at 58 per cent (for 2013, the most recent data). Suddenly your grand story of progress seems tepid, mediocre, and – in a world that’s as fabulously rich as ours – completely obscene…. “And if we look at absolute numbers, the trend changes completely. The poverty rate has worsened dramatically since 1981, from 3.2 billion to 4.2 billion, according to World Bank data. Six times higher than you would have people believe. That’s not progress in my book – that’s a disgrace.” …
Related: How bad is global inequality, really?, by Jason Hickel, published on his website, Mar 3, 2019
Once again, the UN has failed to name firms that profit from Israel’s illegal settlements, by Jonathan Cook, published in The National (UAE), Mar 10, 2019
The United Nations postponed last week for the third time the publication of a blacklist of Israeli and international firms that profit directly from Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied territories. The international body had come under enormous pressure to keep the database under wraps after lobbying behind the scenes from Israel, the United States and many of the 200-plus companies that were about to be named.
UN officials have suggested they may go public with the list in a few months. But with no progress since the UN’s Human Rights Council requested the database back in early 2016, Palestinian leaders are increasingly fearful that it has been permanently shelved…
* Netanyahu tells the truth: ‘Israel is not a state of all its citizens’, by Jonathan Ofir , Mondoweiss, Mar 11, 2019
* Trump administration to end all USAID projects in West Bank and Gaza by January 31, Mondoweiss, Jan 18, 2019
U.S.-led airstrikes, including white phosphorus, claim dozens of civilian lives in Deir ez-Zour in eastern Syria, Press TV, Mar 11, 2019
* Trump says he agrees ‘100%’ with keeping U.S. troops in Syria, NBC News, Mar 6, 2019 Two months after saying all U.S. troops are leaving Syria, the president wrote members of Congress that he agrees with keeping a U.S. presence in Syria
* U.S. shifts weapons from Iraq to Syria, by Jack Detsch , Al-Monitor, Mar 4, 2019 The Pentagon has rerouted millions of dollars’ worth of weapons and vehicles from Iraq to Syria in the second half of 2018, Al-Monitor has learned. In a series of notifications to Congress reviewed by Al-Monitor, the Defense Department said it had determined that a bevy of supplies purchased by the Pentagon for the Iraqi military would instead go to the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)…
[Corporate media in the West has repeated ad nauseum the Trump lie issued in December 2018 that he intended to withdraw the U.S. military presence from Syria. That’s because its stock-in-trade is to sow confusion and lies. But how to explain the near-universal repetition of the Trump lie by alternative media in the West if not naivete?]
New York Times reports that accusations by U.S. and Colombian governments that Venezuela gov’t attacked and burned aid convoy trucks during Feb 23 ‘humanitarian aid’ border provocation on February 23 was bogus. NYT story: ‘Footage contradicts U.S. claim that Maduro burned aid convoy’, by Nicholas Casey, Christoph Koettl and Deborah Acosta, New York Times, Mar 10, 2019
* New York Times exposé on the lies about burning aid trucks in Venezuela shows how U.S. government and media spread pro-war propaganda, by Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept, Mar 10, 2019
* Mainstream media finally admits it lied about who torched ‘aid truck’ at Venezuela-Colombia border on February 23, unsigned commentary on RT, Mar 10, 2019 ‘You have to be joking with this tweet,’ journalist Glenn Greenwald shot back. ‘It was CNN – the outlet where you work – that led the way in spreading this lie all over the world. CNN claimed it saw with its own eyes something that never happened. It ignored all the evidence presented weeks ago proving this lie…’
* The U.S. humanitarian aid ploy to Venezuela explained, by Kei Pritsker, Mint Press News, produced in collaboration with The Grayzone Project, Mar 5, 2019
Venezuela’s Maduro thanks military for overcoming ‘coup’, announces plans to continue defense of the country and people, Press TV, Mar 10, 2019
The myth of anti-white genocide in South Africa, feature essay by James Pogue, published in Harper’s Magazine (monthly), print issue of March 2019
…In recent months, the Economic Freedom Fighters and left-wing members of the ruling African National Congress, which has governed South Africa since 1994, have led occupations of vacant land mostly owned either by the government or members of the white Afrikaans-speaking population, who would once have been termed Boers. Boer means “farmer” in Afrikaans, and their descendants see agriculture as their history and identity, as well as their rightful inheritance. Even a quarter century after the end of apartheid, 72 per cent of privately held farmland in South Africa is owned by whites, who now make up just eight per cent of the country’s population of over 56 million. Blacks, 81 per cent of South Africa’s population, own only four per cent of the country’s rural land. It’s this imbalance that has led as many as five million squatters to occupy land like that in Lawley over the last two decades…
Related: In South Africa’s fabled wine country, white and black battle over land, by Selam Gebrekidan and Norimitsu Onishi, New York Times, Mar 9, 2019
A generation after apartheid, the [wine-producing] Stellenbosch region is gripped by a struggle that pits white citizens who still control much of the economy against their black neighbors.
…A recent government survey found that white farmers like Mr. Smit control nearly 70 percent of farms held by individual owners in South Africa. And the figure does not even include land held by companies and trusts, which account for the largest share of privately owned land in the country.
…The squatters say they moved in out of desperation. Life had barely changed for the men and women in the neighboring township, even a quarter-century after achieving democracy. They still lived in flimsy shacks in cramped quarters, while Mr. Smit and his friends hold vast tracts of land brutally snatched from African inhabitants generations ago and deliberately kept in white hands for decades to come…
Ophthalmologists demand French president Macron ban rubber bullets as eye injuries spread like ‘epidemic’, RT, Mar 10, 2019 France is experiencing an “epidemic” of eye injuries as police repeatedly deploy golf-ball-sized rubber bullets, France’s top ophthalmologists say, urging President Macron to halt use of the projectiles. As the Yellow Vest protests enter their 17th consecutive week, the debate around the government’s alleged use of excessive force continues to gain momentum. On March 9, the Journal du Dimanche newspaper published a letter to President Macron written by the country’s 35 leading ophthalmologists asserting that the police’s use of rubber bullets has led to an “epidemic of serious eye injuries”…
Related: Tens of thousands ‘yellow vest’ protesters march in France on March 9 while police and government are condemned for serious injuries inflicted by police, report by Agence France presse, Mar 10, 2019
Would railing against a Labour Party-Saudi Arabia lobby be racist? So why are critics of Israel labelled ‘anti-Jewish’?, by Jonathan Cook, published in his website blog, Mar 9, 2019
Sabotage of Guri Dam (Simón Bolívar Hydroelectricity Plant) providing most of Venezuela’s electricity plunges country into darkness, report on RT, Mar 8, 2019 [In its national news radio report of the electriticty blackout in Venezuela, Canada’s state-run broadcaster the CBC reported nothing of how the Guri Dam went out of service. Instead, its reporting featured the views of well-to-do Venezuelans blaming the government for the blackout and saying it’s just another example of the government blaming others for its failings. In the U.S., Florida Senator Marco Rubio who is a leading voice in the U.S. government drive to overthrow the Venezuelan government, tweeted the news of the electricity outages within minutes of their occurrence. The pro-coup Guardian devotes most of its news story to speculation that insufficient maintenance of the electrical generation equipment at the dam is to blame. The Guri Dam is the world’s fourth largest hydroelectric dam by installed capacity (Wikipedia). Construction began in 1963.]
Related: Cyberwar sabotage blamed for Guri Dam outage, report by Associated Press, Mar 8, 2019
…While authorities expressed concern about the sick and elderly, and a few people had to be rescued from lifts, residents in Caracas expressed awe at the sight of stars hanging over the normally bustling city of two million. The government keeps home power bills exceptionally low – just a couple dollars a month.
State-owned electricity operator Corpoelec blamed the power cut on act of “sabotage” at the Guri Dam, one of the world’s largest hydroelectric stations and the cornerstone of Venezuela’s electrical grid. [Communications Minister Jorge] Rodriguez described it as a cyberattack intended to take down the whole system. He said electricity in Venezuela’s eastern region was restored within two hours…
Militarism and capitalism reign as spotlight stays on Russia conspiracy, feature interview with journalist Aaron Maté, broadcast on the ‘Intercepted’ podcast on The Intercept, Mar 6, 2019, with host Jeremy Scahill (37-minute interview) [The only thing missing from this broadcast is explanation of how The Intercept itself has been a platform of promoting Russiagate conspiracy, including editor Glenn Greenwald never wavering from belief that ‘maybe’ there is something to the accusation of ‘collusion’ between the Russian government and the Donald Trump 2016 election campaign. Jeremy Scahill repeats the ‘maybe’ thesis in his introduction to his interview with Aaron Maté, though saying the likelihood is fading.]
Russiagate and Democratic Party defeat, by Margaret Kimberley, editor and senior columnist, Black Agenda Report, Mar 6, 2019
…The Mueller investigation has come up empty and Democrats are scrambling to keep their creation alive in order to make themselves politically relevant. They should be planning how to go about giving the people what they need and want. But Medicare for All and any other proposals that would benefit the masses are off the table for them and their corporate donors.
…One by one the Russiagate allegations are falling by the wayside. Michael Cohen never went to Prague to meet Russian hackers or to do anything else. He never heard of any collusion plans or Trump vulnerability to blackmail. Of course, the Mueller-led proceedings were farcical. The only collusion was between the corporate media and the Democratic Party to spin a phony tale…
Turkey’s new Kurdish card in Syria: Kurds themselves, by Mahmut Bozarslan, Al-Monitor, March 5, 2019 An entity with clear ties to Turkey has emerged claiming to represent a segment of Syrian Kurds and calling for the ouster of what it considers to be Kurdish terrorist organizations
Heavily armed paramilitaries aborted a plan in late February to enter Venezuela from Colombia by force, by Ethan Bronner and David Wainer, Bloomberg News, Mar 6, 2019 [This otherwise informative article is replete with false claims against the Venezuela government, including the new and novel accusation by U.S. government officials that officials in the Venezuela government are engaged in drug trafficking!]
Related: German ambassador to Venezuela declared persona non grata, Deutsche Welle, Mar 5, 2019 German Ambassador Daniel Kriener has been told to leave Venezuela within 48 hours. He has been accused by the Maduro government of meddling in Venezuela’s internal affairs. Krienerassumed the post only last year. He was among a group of Western diplomats who greeted self-proclaimed interim President Juan Guaido at the Caracas airport on March 4, returning from a 10-day tour of South American allies…
Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou makes brief appearance in Vancouver courtroom, next date for her extradition hearing is May 8, report by CBC News, Mar 6, 2019
[Last week, Meng Wanzhou filed a civil suit against members of Canadian Border Services Agency, the RCMP and Canada’s attorney general over her detention at the Vancouver airport on December 1, 2018. She claims officers violated rights guaranteed under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. She also says she was asked to hand over all electronic devices and to provide passwords.
[Canada’s state-run CBC throws into this report “She celebrated her birthday last month at her home in Dunbar, an affluent neighbourhood on Vancouver’s west side.” Other CBC reports have spoken of her living in one of two “mansions” owned by her and her husband. The couple’s houses are decidedly not ‘mansions’. Meanwhile, the average price of houses in the entire west side of Vancouver (distinct from the downtown) is $4.1 million (!), so any and all neighbourhoods there are ‘affluent’. The astronomic price of houses in Vancouver (average price of detached houses sold in the City of Vancouver in February 2019 was $2.1 million) is due to years and decades of deliberate federal and provincial government policies to create a real estate bubble, including welcoming wealthy foreign buyers with open arms. The combination of those policies and the abdication by governments of responsibility to build and manage affordable housing has created a grim housing crisis for working class people in Vancouver, Toronto and most other Canadian cities.]
Israeli 2018 killings in Gaza may constitute war crimes, concludes UN probe, Press TV, Feb 28, 2019
* UN Human Rights Council investigation finds Israel intentionally shot children, journalists and the disabled during 2018 Gaza protests, interview with Sara Hossain on Democracy Now!, Mar 4, 2019 (seven-minute interview)
* Norman Finkelstein: It is time for the International Criminal Court to file war crimes charges against Israel, interview with Norman Finkelstein, broadcast on Democracy Now!, Mar 4, 2019 (eight-minute interview)
* UK Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn renews calls to end UK arms sales to Israel in wake of UN report on Gaza protests, by Yumna Patel, published in Mondoweiss, Mar 4, 2019
The shameful attacks on U.S. congressional representative Ilhan Omar, by James Zogby, Mondoweiss, Mar 6, 2019
Related: ‘I am told I am anti-American if I am not pro-Israel’ and that’s problematic: Rep. Ilhan Omar stands strong amid blizzard of attacks, by Philip Weiss, Mondoweiss, Mar 4, 2019
Unfounded allegations of anti-Semitism cover up Israeli apartheid, by Jeff Handmaker, published in Mondoweiss, Mar 4, 2019
A stumble in Hanoi, but negotiations remain on the agenda, by Gregory Elich, published in Zoom In Korea, Mar 4, 2019
Related: It was Kim that walked away from the Korea peace conference in Hanoi, by Patrick Lawrence, special to Consortium News, Mar 4, 2019
The abrupt and unexpected failure of the second Trump–Kim summit last week raises many questions. Let’s get one out of the way before addressing the others: No, the collapse of talks between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, does not scuttle the most promising chance for peace on the Korean Peninsula since the 1953 signing of the armistice ending the Korean War. There is more to come. This was plain within hours of the summit’s end.
At this point it’s still difficult to discern even what transpired between the two leaders. The U.S. and North Korean accounts of the proceedings in Hanoi are widely at variance on key points. With history in view, it is very likely that the North Korean version comes closer to the truth than what the Trump administration is putting out and what the U.S. press is dutifully reporting…
‘How to Hide an Empire’: Author Daniel Immerwahr on the history of the Greater United States, interview with the author of the new book How to Hide an Empire: A History Of The Greater United States, broadcast on Democracy Now!, Mar 5, 2019 (33-minute interview, with transcript)
China blocks canola shipments from Richardson International family enterprise, Canada’s largest grain trader, Reuters, Mar 4, 2019 …Oilseeds like canola, fruit and grain are Canada’s biggest China export category, making up nearly 17 percent of all exports in 2017, the latest annual data available, according to the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada…
* Port of Dalian, China, confirms ban of Australian coal imports, Sydney Morning Herald, Feb 22, 2019
* China’s stunning shutdown of Australian coal shipments: What you need to know, by David Scutt, Business Insider, Feb 22, 2019 China accounted for 22% and 24% of Australia’s thermal and coking coal exports last year
The prisoner Julian Assange says ‘no’ to big brother, by John Pilger, published on Consortium News, Mar 4, 2019
Related: The psychology of getting Julian Assange, part two: The court of public opinion and the blood-curdling untold story, by Dr Lissa Johnson, published in The New Matilda, Feb 25, 2019 (Dr Lissa Johnson is a clinical psychologist in Australia. She has a longstanding interest in the psychology of social issues and the impact of social issues on psychology and is a member of the Australian Psychological Society Public Interest Advisory Group.) Part one of this two-part series is here: The psychology of getting Julian Assange, part one: What’s torture got to do with it?, by Dr Lissa Johnson, published in The New Matilda, Feb 19, 2019.)
Huawei chief financial officer alleges rights violations and false imprisonment in civil lawsuit against Canadian police, border agents and attorney general, by Angela Jung, CTV News, March 3, 2019
* Huawei exec’s lawsuit likely aims to affect extradition proceedings, legal experts say, by Perrin Grauer and Jeremy Nuttall, Star Vancouver (page one of Toronto Star), Mar 3, 2019 …A judgment in her favour on the question of whether her rights were violated during the course of her arrest [at the Vancouver airport on Dec 4, 2018] could have a “significant impact” on how those extradition proceedings play out in Canada, Lee said. It could also potentially affect whether the U.S. extradition request is granted by Canada’s justice minister. Even if Meng is ultimately sent to the U.S. to face charges in the Eastern District of New York, a ruling that her rights were breached in Canada could play well for her in an American court, Lee said…
* Huawei said to be preparing to sue the U.S. government, by Raymond Zhong and Paul Mozur, New York Times, Mar 4, 2019 …The move could be aimed at forcing the United States government to more publicly make its case against the Chinese equipment maker. It is part of a broad push by Huawei to defend itself against a campaign led by the United States to undermine the company, which Washington sees as a security threat…
Interview with Venezuelan socialist leader Stalin Pérez Borges: ‘It will be very difficult to defeat us’, interview published in Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, March 2, 2019 (translated from original Spanish in Aporrea.org, Feb 8, 2019)
Related: Notes from the streets of Venezuela: The people are resilient in the face of foreign intervention, by Vijay Prashad, published by International Press Agency, Feb 26, 2019
Previously reported: Financial imperialism: The case of Venezuela, by Jack Rasmus, published on his website, Feb 28, 2019 (Dr. Jack Rasmus is an author and PhD in political economy. He teaches economics and politics at St. Mary’s College in California.) …Evidence that the ‘green light’ for regime change and invasion is now flashing are supportive public statement by former president Barack Obama and several high level U.S. Democratic party politicians and candidates, directly attacking the Maduro regime. They are signaling Democrat Party support for invasion and regime change. Events will now accelerate—just in time perhaps to coincide with the release of former FBI director Robert Mueller’s report on Trump…
Right-wing socialists of U.S. ISO group join call for ‘referendum’ to oust Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro. [The Socialist Worker.org publication of the International Socialist Organization in the U.S. has published the following commentary: Venezuela on the brink, by Mike Gonzalez, March 4, 2019. Excerpt: “Neither Guaidó nor Maduro have anything to offer the mass of Venezuelans. They are rival factions battling for the profits from oil and the huge benefits that come from corruption…” The commentary is a slap in the face even to members of the group, some of whom have been using the ‘Readers views’ section of the publication’s website to demand that the ISO voice unconditional opposition to the U.S.-led drive to overthrow the Venezuelan government.]
Venezuelans living abroad: A piece of the West’s anti-Venezuela propaganda. [Accurate figures on the number of Venezuelan people who are living abroad are difficult to find or trust. The World Economic Forum says 2.3 million. The United Nations says three million. The issue is heavily propagandized by Western governments and media; they say the numbers are proof of the failings of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution. But with an estimated population of 32 million, the high estimate of citizens abroad places Venezuela below such countries as New Zealand, Mexico and Portugal, proportionately; the low estimate places it on par with Britain, Switzerland and Greece. Furthermore, none of these countries is enduring the likes of the crushing economic war being waged against Venezuela by the U.S. and its stooges. Venezuela’s neighbouring country of Colombia, population 50 million, is governed by a pro-U.S, extreme-right government. In early 2017, Colombia’s internally displaced population was estimated at a whopping 7.3 million, according to UNHCR. Funny how we never hear the whys and wherefores of that in Western media…]
Bolivia inaugurates free universal health care system, Telesur, Mar 1, 2019
Related: Cuban doctors in Bolivia celebrate Latin American Medicine Day, Telesur, Dec 3, 2018
‘Dismissing the Truth’ report debunks Amnesty International’s misleading reports on Nicaragua, by Chuck Kaufman, published by Alliance For Global Justice (AFGJ), Feb 27, 2019 On Tuesday, February 26, the Alliance for Global Justice and the Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign Action Group (UK) released a report, Dismissing the Truth, that exhaustively rebuts two reports on human rights in Nicaragua in 2018 by Amnesty International. The Amnesty International reports accuse the democratically-elected government of Nicaragua of “a strategy of indiscriminate repression.” …
Previously reported: How Amnesty International is reinforcing Trump’s regime-change propaganda against Venezuela, by Joe Emersberger, published in Venezuela Analysis, Feb 28, 2019 (originally published in The Canary (UK), Feb 27, 2019) In refusing to condemn U.S. sanctions and opposition coup efforts, Amnesty is providing cover for a possible dirty war in Venezuela
Huge turnout in Cuba for referendum on constitutional reform, by Pablo Vivanco (former director of Telesur English), published on RT, Mar 1, 2019 Eighty-four per cent of eligible Cubans turned out to vote 90 per cent in favour of proposed reforms to the country’s 1976 constitution.
Philippines government welcomes visit by Mike Pompeo, is pleased to hear him declare ‘U.S. to make sure China can’t blockade South China Sea’, report by Jim Gomez, in Associated Press, Mar 1, 2019
… Pompeo assured the Philippines during a visit to Manila that America will come to its defense if its forces, aircraft or ships come under armed attack in the South China Sea, in the first such public U.S. assurance in recent memory. His comments were an attempt to address Philippine concerns over the vagueness of the allies’ 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty, which Manila wants re-examined.
…Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said in the news conference with Pompeo that the Philippines feels confident, citing assurances from the top U.S. diplomat and President Donald Trump to President Rodrigo Duterte that, “We have your back.” Philippine Ambassador to Washington Jose Romualdez told The Associated Press on February 28 that Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana will meet Pentagon officials in Manila this month for initial talks on Manila’s proposal to review the 1951 defense treaty, which calls on the allies to come to each other’s defense against an external attack. Formal talks will be scheduled after, he said…
* Philippines foreign secretary says no need to review 68-year old Mutual Defense Treaty with U.S., report in Rappler, March 1, 2019 … “My own view is no. I believe in the old theory of deterrence. I have been an old man, I’ve engaged in the Cold War for longer than you. In vagueness lies the best deterrence,” he said when asked whether he was seeking a review of the MDT. During the press briefing, Pompeo said US considers the South China Sea as covered by the MDT…
* ‘Rappler’ publication in Philippines reports its satisfaction with U.S. veiled threats against China in South China Sea, report in Rappler, March 2, 2019
Canada’s Justice Department decides that U.S. extradition demand against Meng Wanzhou can proceed to court for recommendation to minister, Canadian Press, March 1, 2019 and see: China blasts ‘political persecution’ of Huawei as Canada goes ahead with exec’s extradition to U.S., RT, Mar 2, 2019 [Meng Wanzhou is to appear on March 6 before the BC Supreme Court to commence her defense against a U.S. extradition demand. The court will make a recommendation to Canada’s minister of justice who has the final authority in the matter.]
Bomber Bernie sets his sights on the 2020 presidential race, by Nick Pemberton, published in CounterPunch, March 1, 2019
Related: The words and deeds of social imperialists in the U.S., by Glen Ford, executive editor, Black Agenda Report, Feb 28, 2019
* U.S. writer Paul Street writes it is time to ‘get on board’ with the Democratic Party candidacy of Bernie Sanders, essay by Paul Street, published in Truthdig, Feb 27, 2019 [The Democratic Party immediately joined the U.S. drive to overthrow the government of Venezuela and it continues to show itself as equal to the Trump regime in pursuing a new cold war and renewing a nuclear arms race. But the widely-published, left-wing writer Paul Street and ‘Green New Deal’ environmentalists are flocking to the party as the only path to saving U.S. imperialism from itself. Is it any wonder that the political left and the environmental movement in the United States remain marginal political forces?].
* Don’t ‘feel the Bern’ if you don’t want to get burnt, by Neil Clark, columnist, RT, Feb 27, 2019
Who needs a party of the left in Britain when a 100-plus year-old Labour Party wedded to British imperialism can become ‘socialist at a stroke’? [A leader of the ‘Counterfire’ left group in Britain argues in a February 24, 2019 essay that “Becoming a socialist party wouldn’t solve all [the Labour Party’s] problems, and an electoral orientation would no doubt reproduce some of the old dilemmas. But it would be a huge step forward for the left, would empower hundreds of thousands of activists, would raise the debate about socialism to centre stage in national politics, and help to isolate the right….”]
World news headlines on A Socialist In Canada, February 2019
U.S. anti-Huawei campaign is likely exaggerated say experts, by Frank Bajak, cybersecurity writer, Associated Press, Feb 28, 2019
* Huawei pleads not guilty in Seattle case one day before deadline for Canada to decide on U.S. extradition demand against Meng Wanzhou, by Perrin Grauer, Toronto Star, Feb. 28, 2019
Chinese tech giant Huawei appeared in a Seattle court Thursday to face multiple charges related to theft of intellectual property, just a day before Canada must decide whether to approve extradition proceedings against Meng Wanzhou, the company’s embattled chief financial officer. Company lawyers entered not guilty pleas to charges including theft of trade secrets, wire fraud and obstruction of justice, according to the U.S. Western District of Washington’s online court records. The case centres around allegations Huawei deliberately stole technology from American wireless company T-Mobile, which was developing a robot. A jury trial has been scheduled for March 2, 2020.
Meanwhile, the next chapter in Meng’s other criminal case is set to unfold Friday when the Canadian government will likely decide to proceed with extradition. The U.S. wants Canada to send her from Vancouver to New York to face multiple charges related to defrauding banks over Huawei’s dealings with Iran, contrary to U.S. sanctions…
* U.S. suffering setbacks in effort to ban Chinese tech company Huawei competitor, Associated Press, Feb 26, 2019
…“PRISM, PRISM, on the wall, who is the most trustworthy of them all?” said Guo Ping, Huawei’s rotating chairman, in a reference to a U.S. data gathering program. “If you don’t understand that, you can go ask Edward Snowden,” he told the audience at the world’s biggest mobile technology trade fair, in Barcelona, Spain, referring to the former National Security Agency contractor who exposed the program in 2013.
Under the PRISM program (Wikipedia), the NSA, pursuant to secret court orders, collected intelligence about foreign threats through U.S. Internet companies…
North Korea disputes trump’s account of talks breakdown, by Deb Riechmann, Hyung-jin Kim and Catherine Lucey, Associated Press, Feb 28, 2019
North Korea is disputing President Donald Trump’s account of why the summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam on February 27 collapsed, saying the North demanded only partial sanctions relief in exchange for shutting down its main nuclear complex…
Trump said before leaving Hanoi that the talks broke down because Kim insisted that all the punishing sanctions the U.S. has imposed on Pyongyang be lifted without the North committing to eliminate its nuclear arsenal…
Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said the North was also ready to offer in writing a permanent halt of the country’s nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests and that Washington wasted an opportunity that “may not come again.” He said the North’s position wouldn’t change even if the United States offers to resume another round of dialogue…
Related: North Korea rebukes Trump’s claim that it demanded removal of all sanctions, by Noh Ji-won and Kim Ji-eun, staff reporters, The Hankyoreh, Mar 1, 2019
U.S.-North Korea summit meeting in Vietnam cut short as U.S. refuses to lift sanctions, by Jessica Corbett, Common Dreams, Feb 28, 2019
Previously reported: The summit meeting between the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea and the U.S. in Hanoi: Recognising the irony and the lessons of the American War in Vietnam, by Tim Beal, published in Zoom In Korea, Feb 25, 2019 …The US came to terms with Vietnam for one set of reasons, it came to terms with China for another set. It has yet to come to terms with Korea and that is what the negotiations are about…
Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen can’t provide ‘any real examples’ of Russia collusion, RT, Feb 27, 2019
U.S. President Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, giving testimony on Capitol Hill on February 27, has not been able to provide any evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials during the 2016 election.
Cohen is giving testimony described as “explosive” by mainstream media to the House Oversight Committee about his “suspicions” that Trump could have worked with Russia during the campaign. But when probed, he was not able to provide any evidence to back up those suggestions.
CBS reporter Bo Erickson tweeted during the hearing that Cohen “cannot cite any real examples of Russian collusion” with the Trump campaign “even though he was one of [Trump’s] closest allies.” “If [Cohen] doesn’t know about any collusion, who does?” Erickson tweeted…
* Anti-Russia ‘Alternet’ comes up short after two years of waging ‘Russia collusion’ story [The anti-Russia, pro-Democratic Party website Alternet has published an article on February 27, 2019 which is headlined, ‘Here are eight of the most stunning revelations from Michael Cohen’s prepared congressional testimony against Trump’. Here is one of Alternet‘s eight ‘revelations’ (full text): Sub-headline: ‘Cohen says he doesn’t have proof of collusion but has ‘suspicions’ it happened’. Text: “Questions have been raised about whether I know of direct evidence that Mr. Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia. I do not. I want to be clear. But, I have my suspicions.” (End of text) ].
* How Canada’s state broadcaster the CBC explains two-plus years of made-up ‘Trump-Russia’ collusion stories in the wake of Michael Cohen’s Feb 27, 2019 testimony Excerpt from ‘World Report’, the national morning radio news broadcast on CBC Radio One, by CBC reporter and producer Lyndsay Duncombe: “…What Michael Cohen actually said was that he had no direct evidence of cooperation with Russia during the campaign, but that he had suspicions that there are so many dots that lead in the direction of Vladimir Putin. Connecting those dots, to whatever degree they do or do not exist, is something that this committeee [House Select Committee] is trying to do.” (End CBC report)
Debunking four mistruths about the ‘humanitarian aid’ showdown against Venezuela, by Venezuela Analysis, Feb 27, 2019
Related: How Amnesty International is reinforcing Trump’s regime-change propaganda against Venezuela, by Joe Emersberger, published in Venezuela Analysis, Feb 28, 2019 (originally published in The Canary (UK), Feb 27, 2019) In refusing to condemn U.S. sanctions and opposition coup efforts, Amnesty is providing cover for a possible dirty war in Venezuela
Progressive hero’ Justin Trudeau is a fraud and a hypocrite, by Danielle Ryan, columnist, RT, Feb 28, 2019
…Trudeau and [French president Emmanuel] Macron belong to the same breed of politician. When they open their mouths, they appear to be the very antithesis of the likes of Donald Trump, who displays his monstrous nature for all to see. But the Macrons and the Trudeaus of the world are monsters in disguise — and they are just as dangerous. They exhibit extreme arrogance, running around lecturing the world on right and wrong, claiming a position on the moral high-ground. It’s all a bad joke…
‘Trudeau the environmentalist’ is a myth. While he made a rousing speech at the Paris climate talks in 2015 and promised to develop a low-carbon economy and tackle climate change, actions speak louder than words. His government pushed the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, despite massive environmental protests against it — and campaign promises to end fossil fuel subsidies must have slipped his mind after the election. He even received a standing ovation at an oil industry gathering in 2017 for saying: “No country would find 173 billion barrels of oil in the ground and just leave them there.” …
UN probe faults Israel for deadly crackdown on Gaza protests, Associated Press, Jan 28, 2019 Israeli soldiers intentionally fired on civilians and could have committed crimes against humanity during a string of crackdowns against Palestinian demonstrators last year in Gaza that left 189 people dead, U.N.-backed investigators said Thursday. The independent Commission of Inquiry, mandated by Human Rights Council, said more than 6,000 people were shot by military snipers using live ammunition to repel protesters near the separation fence. The panel showed video of grisly shootings of protesters as it issued a report on the violence that began in March…
* France’s Macron leads the way as western leaders malevolently confuse anti-Zionism with antisemitism, by Jonathan Cook, published in Mondoweiss, Feb 27, 2019 (also appearing on Jonathan Cook’s website)
How far the international community’s approach towards Israel has reversed trajectory over the past half century can be gauged simply by studying the fate of one word: Zionism. In 1975 much of the world broke ranks with the United States and Europe at the United Nations general assembly to declare that Zionism, Israel’s founding ideology, “is a form of racism and racial discrimination”…
Decades later, the pendulum has swung decisively the other way. US and European elites have moved on from their once-defensive posture that Zionism is not racism. Now, they are on the attack. Their presumption is that anti-Zionism – the position of much the international community 44 years ago – is synonymous with racism…
* Anti-semitism is cover for a much deeper divide in Britain’s Labour party, by Jonathan Cook, published in Middle East Eye and on his website, Feb 21, 2019
The real humanitarian aid: Inside Venezuela’s state-subsidized communal markets, four-minute video report by The Grayzone Project, narrated by Max Blumenthal and filmed by Ben Norton, broadcast on Feb 24, 2019 (in partnership with Mint Press News) The Grayzone Project toured open air markets in Caracas full of food and supplies subsidized by the Venezuelan government. This debunks the “humanitarian crisis” lie spread by Western governments and corporate media.
Related: Burning aid: An interventionist deception on Colombia-Venezuela bridge?, by Max Blumenthal, published on The Grayzone Project, Feb 24, 2019 The Trump administration’s coup against Venezuela culminated on February 23 with US-backed opposition attempting to ram several trucks loaded with boxes of USAID “humanitarian aid” across the previously unused Francisco de Paula Santander bridge connecting Colombia to Venezuela. The trucks failed to reach the other side — but that was never really the point of the stunt. As Father Sergio Munoz, a right-wing Venezuelan activist posted on the Colombian side of the border, explained to journalist Dan Cohen, the humanitarian “aid” was a purely symbolic provocation aimed at discrediting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in international eyes and generating waves of destabilizing violence…
Trump threatens a second embargo of Cuba if he authorizes ‘Title III’ of 1996 Helms Burton Act, by Marjorie Cohn, Truthout.org, Feb 24, 2019
U.S. writer Paul Street writes it is time to ‘get on board’ with the Democratic Party candidacy of Bernie Sanders, essay by Paul Street, published in Truthdig, Feb 27, 2019 [The Democratic Party immediately joined the U.S. drive to overthrow the government of Venezuela and it continues to show itself as equal to the Trump regime in pursuing a new cold war and renewing a nuclear arms race. But the widely-published, left-wing writer Paul Street and ‘Green New Deal’ environmentalists are flocking to the party as the only path to saving U.S. imperialism from itself. Is it any wonder that the political left and the environmental movement in the United States remain marginal political forces?]
Related: Don’t ‘feel the Bern’ if you don’t want to get burnt, by Neil Clark, columnist, RT, Feb 27, 2019
Trick headline: ‘European Union spurns violent intervention for peaceful solution’ Thus reads the headline to a February 26, 2019 article in TeleSur, the Venezuelan news outlet taht braodcast in Spanish and English. Could it be that the European Union is changing its spots as a lead imperialist power in the world? It has imposed sanctions against the Venezuela government. It recognizes the illegal and provocative ‘president of Venezuela’ named Juan Guaido. It is pouring on the rhetoric that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is an ‘autocrat’ and even ‘dictator’. Yet the aforementioned Telesur article writes, “The European Union is urging the world to abandon a “militarized intervention” into Venezuela, calling for dialogue to develop a “peaceful, political, and democratic” solution to the nation’s domestic political differences.” But isn’t it clear that the “militarized intervention” against which the European imperialists warn is the military support being provided to Venezuela by Cuba, Russia and other countries? The Canadian government is putting on a similar ruse to the European leaders. A February 25 article in the Globe and Mail national daily reads, ‘Lima Group reassserts opposition to the use of force in Venezuela’, referring to a February 25 meeting in Colombia of the coup-fomenting group of 14 countries that includes Canada. This charade by European and Canadian leaders is a dangerous one designed to confuse those otherwise inclined to oppose the blatant vilation of Venezuelan sovereignty being waged by the Donald Trump regime and its allies in European, Canadian and Latin American capitals.]
By contrast: CARICOM reiterates support for peaceful resolution in Venezuela, published in Venezuela Analysis, Feb 26, 2019 (originally published in Telesur) [None of the CARICOM countries imposes economic sanctions against Venezuela or recognizes ‘Juan Guaido’ as president of that country.]
* At meeting in Colombia of ‘Lima Group’ of pro-coup countries, U.S. issues new sanctions against Venezuela and reaffirms use of Juan Guaido as annointed president-to-be, report on RT, Feb 26, 2019, see also: Pence hits Venezuela with new sanctions, promises ‘even stronger’ measures ahead, by Carmen Sesin, NBC News, Feb 25, 2019 Vice President Mike Pence on Monday announced new sanctions against Venezuelan government officials and called on allies to freeze the assets of the state-owned oil company after a deadly weekend in which U.S. aid was blocked from entering the crisis-stricken country…
* NGO ideologues in Canada back U.S. idea of seizing Venezuelan state assets and turning them over to the country’s pro-coup opposition, report in Canadian Press, Feb 25, 2019 …The Washington think-tank Inter-American Dialogue and the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) in Waterloo, Ontario have proposed repurposing the billions of dollars of assets seized from Venezuela’s corrupt leaders[sic] to help countries coping Venezuelan refugees and to support Guaido’s new [sic] government. Fen Hampson, the executive director of the World Refugee Council and the head of CIGI’s global security program, says Pence’s proposal is a step towards that…
Syrian refugees in Turkey, burden or cheap labor?, by Mustafa Sonmez, Al-Monitor, Feb 25, 2019
The global left and the danger of a dirty war in Venezuela, by Lukas Koerner, Venezuela Analysis, Feb 25, 2019 Lucas Koerner warns that the left-wing critics in the West of ‘authoritarianism’ in Venezuela serves as ideological cover for the current threat of a coup and ‘dirty war’ being pushed by Washington
In a recent analysis published in Jacobin, Gabriel Hetland mapped out what he believes should be the “left” position vis-à-vis the ongoing US-led coup effort in Venezuela. He correctly observes that there is “absolutely no justification for U.S. sanctions or military intervention” in Venezuela, which must be opposed by leftists and progressives the world over. However, he goes on to argue that President Nicolás Maduro “was not democratically elected,” and as such, the left has a duty to “back the call for free and fair elections” in the Caribbean nation.
But is Maduro any less legitimate than his Global North counterparts and should the U.S. left be calling for new elections in Venezuela? Moreover, are “free and fair elections” even feasible under current conditions? …
Call for solidarity with Venezuela by a U.S. publication that has failed to date to provide it
[A new commentary about Venezuela is published in Socialistworker.org on February 26, 2019. It makes an informative and insightful analysis of the drive by Western imperialist powers to overthrow the government of Venezuela and the Bolivarian Revolution which it leads. The commentary is most welcome because Socialistworker.org and the International Socialist Organization (ISO) which publishes it have always dismissed the significance of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution. The group is coming under fire from its own members for equivocating in the face of a threatened coup against the government led by President Nicholas Maduro.
[The commentary concludes with this paragraph: “So far, the attempts to mobilize sufficient internal forces to overthrow Maduro have failed. Whether they can succeed, or if the U.S. feels it can turn to the military option, will depend on how anti-intervention movements continue to resist in Venezuela — and if they can take shape in the United States.” The term “anti-intervention movements in Venezuela” is an understatement of opposition to a coup among the Venezuelan people. Resistance to a U.S. coup-intervention is being led by the Venezuelan government, the country’s armed forces, and, yes, popular forces mobilizing in the streets and in self-defense militias. On top of this, the Venezuelan people are receiving significant international solidarity from such countries as Cuba, Bolivia, Russia, China and Iran. But the commentary makes no mention of this broad array of domestic and international forces opposing a coup. Past political shibboleths by the ISO and its publication which dismissed the significance of the Bolivarian Revolution and its international support continue to show through…]
The truth about Seumas Milne, Jeremy Corbyn and the new McCarthyism, by David Hearst, published in Middle East Eye, Feb 25, 2019 False accusations by yesterday’s spooks against Milne and Corbyn are a direct attempt to stop a popular and democratically elected leader from becoming prime minister [David Hearst is the Editor in Chief of the Middle East Eye. In 2013, he left The Guardian as its chief foreign leader writer. He remains an anti-Russia ideologue in the best traditions of The Guardian.]
Related: All roads lead to Russia for unhinged hysterics in UK media in attacks against Seamus Milne, by George Galloway, columnist, RT, Feb 25, 2019
Venezuela breaks relations with Colombia as Guaido and supporters stage violent protests to force aid across border, by Paul Dobson, Venezuela Analysis, Feb 23, 2019 …Caracas has denounced the ‘aid’ move as a precursor for a US-led military intervention into the country. It shut down the borders with Dutch Caribbean Islands, Brazil and Colombia on February 20, 21 and 22, respectively. This stance has been supported by both the Chinese and Russian governments, with Russian foreign office spokespersons telling reporters on February 22 that the “aid” scheme “resembled those in Iraq and Libya”…
Related: 200,000 or 10,000? Washington Post deletes inflated Venezuela Aid Live attendance figure from its website, RT, Feb 25, 2019
[Western media is licking its wounds following the violent, chaotic performance by small numbers of pro-coup protesters along the Venezuela Colombia border on February 22, 23 and 24. The protesters were the main actors in the West’s ‘humanitarian aid for Venezuela’ theatrics. Their violent performance did not win any public relations battles, not in Venezuela and not abroad. A sober report in the pro-coup New York Times on February 24 writes: … Juan Guaidó, the top opposition official, and his allies had hoped that forcing the badly needed food and medicine inside Venezuela would represent a moment of irreversible collapse in Mr. Maduro’s authority. Instead, just one aid truck made it through on Saturday, the deadline set by the opposition to end the impasse, and Mr. Maduro easily fended off the biggest challenge to his power since Mr. Guaidó swore himself in as the country’s rightful leader last month… (end citation).
[An Associated Press report on February 24 warns of the extreme political dangers of the ramped-up rhetoric of Juan Guaido and U.S. political leaders in favour of U.S. military intervention: Juan Guaidó, the top opposition official, and his allies had hoped that forcing the badly needed food and medicine inside Venezuela would represent a moment of irreversible collapse in Mr. Maduro’s authority. Instead, just one aid truck made it through on Saturday, the deadline set by the opposition to end the impasse, and Mr. Maduro easily fended off the biggest challenge to his power since Mr. Guaidó swore himself in as the country’s rightful leader last month… (end citation) ]
The coup has failed and now the U.S. is looking to wage war, says Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, feature interview broadcast on Democracy Now!, Feb 25, 2019 (44-minute interview, with transcript at weblink) [Beginning at the 46-minute mark, the foreign minister responds to comments made by Venezuelan sociologist Edgardo Lander in an interview on Democracy Now! on February 22 in which Lander called for a referendum vote on the presidency of Nicolas Maduro. In a nutshell, the foreign minister said his government welcomes any and all dialogue with its domestic and foreign critics, excepting those who advocate foreign military intervention or a violent overthrow of the Venezuelan government.)
Massive Chavista march in Caracas on February 23 defends Madro gov’t, condemns threat of foreign intervention, report on Orinico Tribune, Feb 23, 2019 (with extensive photos and video)
As the coup attempt in Venezuela stumbles, it’s time that Guaidó recognize that regime change has failed and accept the path of dialogue, by Peter Bolton, published by the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA, in Washington DC), Feb 22, 2019 (Peter Bolton became the director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs in January 2019.)
Also published by COHA:
Juan Guaidó: The man who would be president of Venezuela doesn’t have a constitutional leg to stand on, by Roger Harris, published by the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA, in Washington DC), Feb 7, 2019 (Roger Harris is with the Task Force on the Americas and the Campaign to End US/Canada Sanctions Against Venezuela.)
Building socialism in Venezuela and the world, by Roger Annis, A Socialist In Canada, Feb 24, 2019 … In today’s world, conditions for advancing towards socialism resemble much more the ‘by stages’ years of NEP than the years of relatively rapid socialist transformations that occurred in in Asia, eastern Europe and then Cuba during and after World War Two. In Venezuela today, there is a crucial need to preserve the alliance of class forces—workers, farmers, Indigenous peoples, middle class and even sections of the upper classes—that constitute the Bolivarian Revolution while simultaneously avoiding a descent into the fratricidal war which the U.S. and its allies wish to create…
Trump’s Venezuela gamble is turning out to be a beaten docket, by Finian Cunningham, columnist, RT, Feb 19, 2019
Trump’s bid for regime change in Venezuela is starting to look like a fatal overreach. With the South American country’s military remaining firmly loyal to President Maduro, embarrassing questions loom over the dubious game plan of the U.S.
It is not just Washington’s reputation that will take yet another grievous hit. So too will those European states* which have shamefully rowed in behind the tawdry attempt at destabilizing a sovereign nation… [* The writer overlooks mention of the significant, hemispheric role being played by the Canadian government in the U.S. coup plans for Venezuela.]
Okinawa sweepingly rejects US base relocation… but who cares about referendums and democracy?, RT, Feb 25, 2019 and read Okinawans vote ‘no’ in referendum on U.S. military base move, by Agence France presse, Feb 25, 2019
Previously reported: Japanese PM Abe set to ignore local referendum on U.S. Okinawa military base relocation, RT, Feb 23, 2019
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said his government will press ahead with the controversial relocation of a U.S. military base on the island of Okinawa, despite local objection. Okinawa is home to two-thirds of the U.S.’ bases in Japan…
Okinawans will vote on the relocation on Sunday in a non-binding referendum, with nearly 70 per cent expected to vote ‘no’, according to a poll by Kyodo News. Okinawa’s Governor Denny Tamaki, who campaigned on an anti-base platform last year, has also traveled to Washington DC to lobby against the move. The Japanese government intends to go ahead with the relocation “without being swayed by referendum results”, Abe told parliament on February 20…
Venezuela coverage takes us back to the golden age of lying about Latin America, by Mark Cook, FAIR.org (Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting), Feb 22, 2019
* U.S. media erase years of Chavismo’s gains, by Gregory Shupak, FAIR.org (Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting), Feb 20, 2019
* The Yankee plot to overthrow Nicolás Maduro and steal Venezuela’s oil, nine-minute broadcast of ‘Intercepted’, with host Jeremy Scahill, on the YouTube channel of The Intercept, Feb 2, 2019
* Cold Warrior Elliott Abrams returns to battle in Venezuela, by Belén Fernández, Common Dreams, Feb 22, 2019
* There is no humanitarian crisis in Venezuela says UN expert Alfred de Zayas, TeleSur, Feb 20, 2019
Trump says he’ll maintain some troops in Syria, media says 400 ‘peacekeepers’ to stay, RT, Feb 22, 2019
The U.S. plans to keep a total of 400 troops in Syria, half in the Kurd-held northern part of the country and half at the southeastern border, at Al-Tanf base, a media report says citing an administration official. Earlier, Washington said it was planning to downsize its military presence in the north of Syria to 200 ‘peacekeepers’, but would not detail plans about the Al-Tanf base, which is located in a strategic part of Syria, where it borders Jordan and Iraq.
The 400 American troops will be part of a total force of 800-1,500 Western soldiers in Syria, with the rest provided by U.S. European allies, Reuters reports… [In reversal, U.S. to leave a total of about 400 troops in Syria, by Roberta Rampton and Idrees Ali, Reuters, Feb 22, 2019]
* Russia, Turkey and Iran presidents discuss Syria at fourth summit meeting in Sochi, Russia on February 14, by Maxim A. Suchkov, Al-Monitor, Feb 15, 2019 … “Should the [U.S.] decision to leave Syria be implemented, the move will contribute to stability and security in Syria in light of aforementioned principles (sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity),” the final communique from the meeting reads… [Note the use of the conditional verb tense in the communique of the three presidents: ‘should the [U.S.] decision to leave Syria be implemented’…] * Joint statement by the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the President of the Russian Federation and the President of the Republic of Turkey, issued on February 14, 2019 and published on the website of the President of Russia
* Syrian Kurds should increase dialog with Damascus, says Russia, Press TV, Feb 17, 2019
* Turkey fails to win green light for safe zone at Syria summit, by Ayla Jean Yackley, Al-Monitor, Feb 14, 2019 [The author’s concluding sentence is inaccurate not to speak of naive. She writes, “There was one thing Erdogan, Rouhani and Putin could agree on at the summit: They all welcomed the United States’ imminent departure from Syria.” But there is no “imminent departure” of U.S. military forces from Syria, and furthermore, the three cited presidents said in their official declaration from the 5th Sochi summit that they would welcome a U.S. departure ‘if’ that were to happen.]
The INF Treaty: Are Trump and Putin opening Pandora’s Box?, op-ed commentary by Theodore Postol, published in the New York Times, Feb 19, 2019
… The issues associated with preserving the INF Treaty are complex. Both sides have legitimate concerns that must be resolved if the pact is to be resurrected in the six months between the treaty suspensions announced this month and final withdrawal. Facts support the Russian position. This reality must be taken into account if the United States and Russia (and possibly other countries) are to agree on continued control of intermediate-range missiles.
Both sides must stop and think about the common and avoidable danger they are creating by clinging to arguments about each getting some inconsequential military advantage. In fact, existing nuclear weapons systems can do anything imaginable, and much more that is unimaginable. It is the unimaginable capabilities of these weapons that must take center-stage when considering the giant and still unknown terrors and threats they pose to global stability and humanity’s future…
Venezuelan president Maduro shuts Venezuela’s border with Brazil amid ‘humanitarian aid’ standoff, Al Jazeera, Feb 22, 2019
Journalist Max Blumenthal’s tour of a supermarket in Caracas exposes Western media lies about food shortages in Venezuela, report on RT, with video, Feb 22, 2019 (the RT report is based on the original video report broadcast on The Grayzone Project, published by Max Blumenthal)
Venezuela’s expanding Local Food Production and Provision Committees (CLAP) program, report by Orinico Tribune, Feb 12, 2019 [Little to no reporting, not even mention, appears in Western media about the ‘CLAP’ food provision program initiated in Venezuela in 2016 by popular committees and the country’s socialist government. The program reaches more than half of Venezuela’s population and is undergoing expansion.]
During the broadcast of the television show ‘Cultivando Patria’ last weekend, the Minister of People’s Power for Productive Agriculture and Land, Wilmar Castro Soteldo, reported on five strategies that the economic and food sector is implementing in order to counterattack the war and the blockade that the United States has implemented against Venezuela. “The new beginning of the CLAP system”, as President Nicolás Maduro calls it, is “a program that is now reconfigured with the creation, expansion and strengthening of the Food General Staff in each of the regions of the country.” The plan is divided into five main strategic lines, which are: …
Background: The politics of food in Venezuela, by Ana Felicien, Christina Schiavoni and Liccia Romero, published in Monthly Review, print issue of June 2018 Excerpt: … There has also been a host of government responses to the shortages. Among the first was a reorganization of public management to prioritize food sovereignty, including the creation of three separate ministries out of the Ministry of Agriculture and Land in early 2016: the Ministry of Urban Agriculture (believed to be the first of its kind globally); the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture; and the Ministry of Agricultural Production. This was followed by the creation of the Great Sovereign Supply Mission, an umbrella body focused on securing national supplies of food, medicine, and other basic goods. Among the government responses to the shortages, those most intimately linked with popular organizing are the Comités Locales de Abastecimiento y Producción (Local Food Provisioning and Production Committees), known as CLAPs. CLAPs were rapidly rolled out in 2016, initially targeting the poorest fifth of the population, and now reach well over half. Through the CLAPs, the government purchases food directly from suppliers, both private and public, and coordinates with community organizations to distribute mixed food packages to individual households. Communities are responsible for organizing themselves into CLAPs, conducting local censuses, and running regular distributions, in which the food is sold at subsidized prices in units of twelve to fifteen kilograms. Through a massive coordinated push from both above and below, CLAPs reached an estimated two million families in their first year, and today there are more than thirty thousand CLAPs throughout the country, with the aim of reaching six million families—nearly three-quarters of the population—with regular distributions by the end of 2018…
Trump’s Venezuela gamble is turning out to be a beaten docket, by Finian Cunningham, columnist, RT, Feb 19, 2019
Trump’s bid for regime change in Venezuela is starting to look like a fatal overreach. With the South American country’s military remaining firmly loyal to President Maduro, embarrassing questions loom over US’ dubious game plan.
It is not just Washington’s reputation that will take yet another grievous hit. So too will those European states * which have shamefully rowed in behind the tawdry attempt at destabilizing a sovereign nation… [* The writer seems unaware of the significant, hemispheric role being played by the Canadian government in partnership with the U.S. coup plans for Venezuela.]
Port of Dalian, China, confirms ban of Australian coal imports, Sydney Morning Herald, Feb 22, 2019
Customs at China’s northern port of Dalian has banned imports of Australian coal and will cap overall coal imports from all sources for 2019 at 12 million tonnes, an official at Dalian Port Group has told Reuters. The indefinite ban on imports from top supplier Australia, effective since the start of February, comes as major ports elsewhere in China prolong clearing times for Australian coal to at least 40 days.
Australia’s ties with China have deteriorated since 2017, when Canberra accused China of meddling in its domestic affairs. Tensions rose again last month after Australia rescinded the visa of a prominent Chinese businessman, just months after barring Chinese telecoms giant Huawei Technologies from supplying equipment to its 5G broadband network….
[China is Australia’s largest trading partner. It purchases about one quarter of Australian coal exports, second following Japan. Thermal and coking coal export values are Australia’s most lucrative export commodity, estimated to reach $67 billion in fiscal 2018-19. That’s slightly higher than iron ore’s $61 billion in value.]
How much of Venezuela’s crisis is really Maduro’s fault?, by Steve Ellner, special to Consortium News, Feb 15, 2019 There are several factors for Venezuela’s economic crisis, but you wouldn’t know it by listening to U.S. leaders or following corporate media.
…During my participation in a two-month Venezuelan solidarity tour late last year in the U.S. and Canada, I often heard the statement that knowing the specifics about Venezuela’s economic and political problems is not essential because the bottom line is the illegality of Trump’s sanctions and threats of military intervention. But does international law end the discussion? If it could be proven that Maduro is a dictator and a totally incompetent ruler, would people enthusiastically rally behind his government in opposition to foreign intervention? I don’t think so. Undoubtedly, it is necessary to take a close look at both political and economic fronts because the effectiveness of solidarity efforts hinges on the specifics. The dominant narrative about Maduro and its assumptions cannot be taken at face value, even while there are elements of truth in it…
* The West’s financial blockade: Chronology of a strategy to destroy Venezuela, by Misión Verdad, translated to English from the original Spanish, Feb 14. 2019
* The oil embargo as a strategy to break Venezuela, by Franco Vielma, translated from the original Spanish and published on the English page of Misión Verdad, Jan 31, 2019
Venezuelan military reject Trump’s incitement to mutiny against the country and government, news summary by Paul Dobson, Venezuela Analysis, Feb 20, 2019
The U.S. agenda in Venezuela, Haiti, and Egypt, interview with Kim Ives and George Ciccariello-Maher, broadcast on ‘Intercepted’, the weekly radio broadcast on The Intercept, hosted by Jeremy Scahill, Feb 20, 2019 (Kim Ives is an editor at the weekly print newspaper Haiti Liberté. George Ciccariello-Maher is a U.S. scholar of Venezuela and author of several books on the subject (Wikipedia).
Eyewitness report on visit to Nicaragua countryside, by David Archuleta, Alliance For Social Justice (U.S.), Feb 20, 2019
Lebanon is facing an economic and environmental disaster, by Sune Haugbolle, Foreign Policy Magazine, Feb 20, 2019
‘Anti-semitism’ is cover for a much deeper divide in Britain’s Labour party, by Jonathan Cook, published in Middle East Eye, Feb 20, 2019 (and published on Jonathan Cook’s website)
Debating the economic squeeze in Venezuela, interview with Venezuelan economist Francisco Rodríguez and Vijay Prashad, broadcast on Democracy Now!, Feb 19, 2019 (28-minute interview/debate, with transcript. Francisco Rodríguez is a Venezuelan economist who favours the “removal” of President Nicolas Maduro and predicts a “humanitarian catastrophe like we’ve never seen” if that does not happen. Vijay Prashad is Professor of International Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.)
Related: Canada’s CTV News Network interviews journalist Aaron Maté from Caracas, three-minute interview broadcast on CTV News Network (Canada), Feb 18, 2018
Fallout from U.S. unilateral withdrawal from INF Treaty: Russia says if mid-range missiles deployed in Europe, it will aim missiles at decision centers, report by RT, Feb 20, 2019 If the U.S. deploys intermediate-range missiles in Europe, Moscow will respond by stationing weapons aimed not only against missiles themselves but also at command and control centers from which a launch order would come. The warning came from President Vladimir Putin, who announced Russia’s planned actions after the US withdraws from the INF Treaty – a Cold War-era agreement between Washington and Moscow which banned both sides form having ground-based cruise and ballistic missiles and developing relevant technology…
‘The West’s attempted coup in Venezuela has failed internally, it has completely fizzled out’: Interview with ‘Grayzone’ editor and journalist Max Blumenthal in Caracas, broadcast on ‘Topple Uncaged’, a podcast by The Canary (UK), with host Steve Topple, Feb 17, 2019 (39-minute interview, find the interview button on the YouTube image)
The biggest health threat in 2019? Fear of vaccination, bv André Picard, health reporter, The Globe and Mail, Feb 18, 2019 (subscriber only, read it here in pdf format: The measles threat in 2019)
This is proving to be a banner year for measles. Worldwide, cases are up almost 50 per cent, with massive outbreaks across Africa, Asia, South America and Eastern Europe, numerous outbreaks in Western Europe and five significant outbreaks in the United States, including in the border states of New York and Washington…
The World Health Organization has declared “vaccine hesitancy” to be one of the top 10 health threats in the world. The only thing spreading faster than measles – the most contagious disease on Earth – is fear of vaccination. Yet vaccines are one of the most effective health interventions in the history of humanity. Prior to the availability of a measles vaccine, for example, 2.6 million children annually died of the “benign” childhood disease. Today, that number is down to 109,000. But it should be zero…
In some parts of the world, the barrier to childhood vaccination is social turmoil: Infectious diseases such as measles thrive in poverty and war. But in the Western world, where vaccination is cheap and accessible, the barriers are all self-imposed. Above all, there are stubbornly powerful myths that drive vaccine hesitancy: …
* Measles outbreaks are everywhere in the U.S, here is what you need to know, by Sara Chodosh, Popular Science, Feb 7, 2019
* World Health Organization reports that the number of people with measles tripled in Europe in 2018, CBS News, Feb 10, 2019
* Europe is in the midst of its largest measles outbreak in years and Ukraine is a big part of the problem, by Alanna Shaikh, Master of Public Health, published by UN Dispatch, Aug 24, 2018 [More than half of the reported cases of measles in Europe have occurred in right-wing Ukraine, where the Western-backed coup of 2014 has further spurred a decline of public health services. The coup-supporting media in the West neglect to report the Ukraine part of the measles story.].
* The anti-vaccination debate was built on a lie, why do people still believe it?, by Joel Rindelaub, published in Stuff.co.nz, Jan 24 2019
* Vaccinations and the rights of children, story broadcast on CBC’s ‘The Current’, February 13, 2019 (story begins at the 47-minute mark). [All 50 U.S. states require children attending school to be vaccinated against measles; some states allow exemptions for religious or philosophical reasons. Only three Canadian provinces have obligatory measles vaccinations for students attending public schools.] * Health officials confirm measles outbreak in Vancouver after 9th case identified, CBC News, Feb 15, 2019
* Measles are making a comeback and it’s probably Russia’s fault, says U.S.-funded ‘Radio Free Europe’ propaganda outlet, story published in RT, Feb 14, 2019
[In 2011, the World Health Organization estimated that 158,000 deaths were caused by measles, down from 630,000 deaths in 1990. There were 372 cases of measles recorded in the U.S. in 2018. As of February 7, the rate for 2019 will exceed 1,000 (U.S. Centers for Disease Control). Worldwide in 2017, there were 110,000 measles deaths, mostly among children under the age of five. Measles vaccination resulted in an 80% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2017 worldwide (World Health Organization). The vaccine against measles was introduced in 1963. Before that, between three and four million cases occurred each year in the U.S. Between roughly 1855 and 2005, measles has been estimated to have killed about 200 million people worldwide. Vaccinations could eliminate the disease, but world powers prioritize war and economic pillaging over public health education and services (Wikipedia).]
‘Long live Putin!’ Haiti peoples protesters burn U.S. flag, demand Russian intervention, RT, Feb 17, 2019
… It is tempting to treat the small-scale demonstration as a comically eccentric sideshow, but the protest has helped draw international attention to a spiraling crisis that is anything but funny.
Since February 7, the low-built but densely settled Port-au-Prince, which has still not fully recovered from the devastating 2010 earthquake, has been rocked by near-constant flash demonstrations demanding the resignation of the government.
…The crisis was sparked by revelations of years-long misappropriation resulting in losses of $2 billion from the discounted oil program Venezuela developed for the island nation in the aftermath of the earthquake, which killed over 100,000 people. ..
Interview with Venezuela Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, broadcast on The Real News Network, with host Sharmini Peries, The Real News Network, Feb 13, 2019 (29-minute interview, with print transcript at weblink)
Update on Venezuela, issued by Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, as part of her weekly briefing to journalists, in Moscow, Feb 14, 2019 (you can read the update by scrolling down at the weblink, or you can read it here in pdf format, three pages: Update on Venezuela, by Russian MFA, Feb 14, 2019)
The U.S. economic war against Venezuela, interview featuring Venezuelan Vice Foreign Minister Carlos Ron, former United Nations rapporteur Alfred de Zayas, and U.S. journalist Sam Husseini, broadcast on ‘Intercepted’ (The Intercept) , with host Jeremy Scahill, Feb 13, 2019 (one-hour broadcast)
The Yellow Vests at three months: Achievements and prospects, by Susan Ram, published in Counterfire (UK), Feb 16, 2019
…A further achievement of the Yellow Vest movement has been its ability to reach out to other sections, whether trade unionists, students or environmental campaigners. While willingness to join forces has been evident since the start, particularly in urban centres with powerful traditions of trade union and student mobilisation (such as Bordeaux and Toulouse), this tendency is becoming more pronounced and generalised.
A huge step forward in this direction was taken on February 5, when the Yellow Vests threw their weight behind a general strike called by the Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT) and other union confederations of the Left. In this first weekday (Tuesday) mobilisation of a movement thus far given to Saturday protest, an estimated 300,000 people downed tools to take to the streets, block economic targets, set up barricades at motorway tolls and generally disrupt ‘business as usual’.
In a day painted in red as well as yellow, tens of thousands of trade unionists, many of them in the emblematic red vests of the CGT, joined forces with Yellow Vest activists in towns and cities across the land. University and high school students also boycotted classes to take to the streets…
* Yellow Vest protesters who have lost eyes and limbs demand justice from French president Macron, RT, Feb 16, 2019
… For most demonstrations anywhere in the West, the story of Fiorina Lignier, a 20-year-old philosophy student, would have made her a poster girl for law enforcement excesses. Among the Gilets Jaunes, her case is just one of many. The sheer scale of concentrated peacetime violence since November is hard to comprehend.
Following last week’s demonstrations, the Interior Ministry reported that 1,300 policemen and over 2,000 demonstrators had suffered injuries. Considering the difference in equipment and organization between riot police and the mostly unarmed crowd, most French media have speculated that the real civilian toll is several times higher, particularly as many have not had their injuries officially recorded. Desarmons-les (‘Disarm Them’), an activist group that protests against state violence, has been compiling a toll of the most serious cases. The last one, dated from last month, lists 140 names…
* French gov’t ‘exploits’ police, says union as continued protests cause police morale and confidence to erode, report on RT, Feb 17, 2019
Previously reported: As Macron prepares new repressive measures, Yellow Vest movement and trade unions go on strike against austerity, by Richard Freeman, published by LA Progressive, Feb 11, 2019 On Tuesday, February 5, as the Macron government pushed harsh repressive laws against demonstrators through the National Assembly, the Yellow Vests joined with France’s unions for the first time in a day-long, nation-wide ‘general strike’…
What we know about Russia’s new generation of nuclear missiles, RT, Feb 17, 2019 …The weapon’s ambitious concept was unveiled by President Vladimir Putin during his State of the Nation address last March . The 9M730 Burevestnik, known as SSC-X-9 Skyfall under its NATO reporting name, is designed as a nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed intercontinental cruise missile capable of traveling “unlimited distances.” It is even able to circle around the globe for days, if required.
* Russia conducts test of nuclear-powered Cruise missile, by Ankit Panda, The Diplomat (India), Feb 6, 2019 [The test is the 13th to date of the experimental Burevestnik (‘Storm Petrel’) termed by NATO the KY30 or SSC-X-9 Skyfall.]
* Doomsday redux: World’s most dangerous nuclear weapon rolls off U.S. assembly line, by James Carroll, Tom Dispatch (a project of The Nation magazine), Feb 12, 2019 …Back From the Brink makes five demands, much needed in a world in which the U.S. and Russia are withdrawing from a key Cold-War-era nuclear treaty  with more potentially to come, including the New START pact that expires two years from now. The five demands are:
- No to first use of nukes. (Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Adam Smith only recently introduced a No First Use Act in both houses of Congress to stop Trump and future presidents from launching a nuclear war.)
- End the unchecked launch-authority of the president. (Last month, Senator Edward Markey and Representative Ted Lieu reintroduced a bill that would do just that.)
- No to nuclear hair-triggers.
- No to endlessly renewing and replacing the arsenal (as the U.S. is now doing to the tune of perhaps $1.6 trillion over three decades).
- Yes to an abolition agreement among nuclear-armed states.
[Note:  For the record, on February 1, 2019, the U.S. government (Trump regime) announced a unilateral abrogation of the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Missile (INF) Treaty, to take effect on August 2, 2019 according to the abrogation terms of the treaty. The following day, Russia announced it was reluctantly matching the U.S. decision. Here is an essay by Professor Theodore Postal of MIT: How the U.S. violated the INF Treaty with its ‘Aegis’ missile system installed in eastern Europe, by Theodore A. Postol, published by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, February 7, 2019 In the essay, Postol writes the following: “The issues associated with preserving the INF Treaty are complex, and both the U.S. and Russian sides have legitimate concerns that need to be resolved if the treaty—an important element of the world arms control regime—is to be resurrected in some form in the six months between the treaty suspensions announced last week and final withdrawal from the treaty. As they recount allegations about Russian violation of the INF, many major mainstream media outlets have routinely misreported basic facts on the land-based Aegis systems in Eastern Europe and related issues. The actual facts of the matter support the Russian position. This reality must be taken into account, if the United States and Russia (and possibly other countries) are to come to agreement on continued control of intermediate-range missiles…”]*
* Say WHAT?: A case of low-yield nuclear thinking, seven-minute video presentation broadcast by Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Feb 14, 2019
Russia, Turkey and Iran presidents discuss Syria at fourth summit meeting in Sochi, Russia on February 14, by Maxim A. Suchkov, Al-Monitor, Feb 15, 2019 … “Should the [U.S.] decision to leave Syria be implemented, the move will contribute to stability and security in Syria in light of aforementioned principles (sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity),” the final communique from the meeting reads… [Note the use of the conditional verb tense in the communique of the three presidents: ‘should the [U.S.] decision to leave Syria be implemented’…]
* Joint statement by the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the President of the Russian Federation and the President of the Republic of Turkey, issued on February 14, 2019 and published on the website of the President of Russia
* Syrian Kurds should increase dialog with Damascus, says Russia, Press TV, Feb 17, 2019
* Turkey fails to win green light for safe zone at Syria summit, by Ayla Jean Yackley, Al-Monitor, Feb 14, 2019 [The author’s concluding sentence is inaccurate not to speak of naive. She writes, “There was one thing Erdogan, Rouhani and Putin could agree on at the summit: They all welcomed the United States’ imminent departure from Syria.” But there is no “imminent departure” of U.S. military forces from Syria, and furthermore, the three cited presidents said in their official declaration from the 5th Sochi summit that they would welcome a U.S. departure IF that were to happen.]
U.S. military planes with ‘humanitarian aid’ bound for Venezuela after new sanctions are imposed , RT, Feb 16, 2019 [The report by RT is important and informative, but the headline is misleading. The U.S. planes carrying so-called aid are bound for Colombia, not Venezuela. As RT explains, the ‘humanitarian aid’ to be delivered to Venezuela is neither humanitarian nor is it aid. Rather, it amounts to provocative theatrics, part of plans by the U.S., Canada and Europe for military intervention into Venezuela to support a coup against the country’s elected president and government. These intervention/coup plans are floundering due to the resolve of the Venezuelan people and their government to defend the country’s sovereignty and continue its progressive, revolutionary path, known as the Bolivarian Revolution.]
Related: Maduro wants troops at border with Colombia against US ‘provocation’, RT, Feb 15, 2019 Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has ordered the military to come up with a plan for a permanent deployment of forces to the border with Colombia to avert “provocations” he accused the US of masterminding. “Reinforcing the border with Colombia is necessary to make it “safe and peaceful,” Maduro said, adding that the permanent deployment would ensure that it is unpenetrable. “We must be well deployed to defend our land, to thwart any provocation, which we anticipate and which we do not know yet. Imagine them defending their maritime area against our marine and air force,” he said…
Calling emergency declaration a ‘patently illegal power grab,’ ACLU sues Trump, by Julia Conley, Common Dreams, Friday, Feb 15, 2019
President Donald Trump’s prediction that he’ll be taken to court over his national emergency declaration proved correct on Friday afternoon, with the ACLU announcing it would file one of several lawsuits against the Trump administration over the “blatantly illegal” move.
The organization noted in a statement that the president openly admitted the national emergency declaration, which he made to obtain funding for a wall at the southern U.S. border is unnecessary—bolstering the ACLU’s case. “By the president’s very own admission in the Rose Garden, there is no national emergency,” said executive director Anthony Romero. “He just grew impatient and frustrated with Congress, and decided to move along his promise for a border wall ‘faster’. …
Related: U.S. presidents have declared dozens of emergencies, but none like Trump’s, by Charlie Savage, New York Times, Feb. 15, 2019
BBC producer Riam Dalati says ‘without a doubt’ hospital scenes filmed after 2018 Douma ‘chemical attack’ on April 7, 2018 were staged, RT, Feb 15, 2019 [On April 14, 2018, the United States, France and the United Kingdom carried out a series of missile strikes against multiple Syrian military sites in Syria in the name of retaliation for alleged ‘chemical attacks’ in Douma, Syria on April 7. Wikipedia]
European Union countries agree on compromise for Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline connecting Russia to Germany, Deutsche Welle, Feb 13, 2019
[Much reading between the lines in Western media is required in order to discern that the German government and industry have prevailed over protests by their European ‘allies’, notably France, over the competitive advantage that Germany gains by making a second, direct pipeline access to purchase Russian gas in the form of the ‘Nord Stream 2’ pipeline, already well under construction. The ‘compromise’ headlined in Western media refers to future pipeline projects that will not give the same unilateral advantage that Germany has gained by Nord Stream 1 and 2. In a skimpy report on Nord Stream 2 on February 12, Bloomberg News refers to “loopholes” that were granted to Germany during lengthy negotiations within the European Union over final, late-in-the-day approval of the project. The United States opposes Nord Steam 2 outright because of the competitive advantage which it gives to Germany and because the U.S. is engaged in a new cold war against Russia. Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 each consist of two pipelines with annual capacity of each of 55 billion cubic meters. Nord Stream 1 was completed in 2012; Nord Stream 2 will be completed in late 2019. (Wikipedia)
BBC interview in Caracas with Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro, broadcast by the UK state-run BBC, February 12, 2019 (full transcript at weblink)
…I am telling you that the BBC in London has created a stereotype – the American media also – of a Venezuela that doesn’t exist. We have 4.4% of what we call extreme poverty, misery. Of course this is still something that we have to overcome, but we came from 25% of extreme poverty, and we have reduced all the indexes of inequality. Venezuela today currently has indexes recognised by international organisations in the highest levels of social equality in social investment.
Do we have problems? Yes. But Venezuela is not a country with hunger. Venezuela has the highest levels of nutrients, has extremely high levels of access to food and that stereotype, that stigma that they have tried to put on us, has only one objective: present a humanitarian crisis that does not exist in Venezuela, in order to do an intervention.
… In the Western media you take it as a fact any lie that is broadcast. All that is said about Venezuela in that emigration campaign has been exaggerated. Venezuela is a country that receives immigrants, and you don’t show that, you don’t broadcast it. Venezuela has here 5.8 million Colombians who have immigrated due to the war in Colombia – because of the violation of human rights, and because of the misery. We have more than 300,000 Italians, more than 300,000 Portuguese, more than 300,000 Spaniards, more than a million Arabs, more than 300,000 Ecuadoreans, more than 300,000 Peruvians. There are more than 10 million immigrants coming every year to Venezuela.
Now, due to the economic war, there is a new phenomenon of migration. We have the official numbers that show no more than 800,000 Venezuelans have left in the past two years, due to economic reasons, trying to look for new alternatives. Many of those Venezuelans have been shattered because they encountered situations [abroad] they did not expect, like racism, discrimination and labour slavery. Thousands are coming back…
Venezuela: A foreign, diplomatic coup?, analysis by Paul Dobson, Venezuela Analysis, Feb 11, 2019 Paul Dobson is an on-the-ground journalist with Venezuela Analysis. In this analysis, he explains why Juan Guaido’s attempted coup, backed frantically by the Western powers, has had next to no impact within Venezuela.
Related: The current situation in Venezuela, interview with Alejandro Velasco, Gabriel Hetland and Naomi Schiller, broadcast on ‘The Dig’, a weekly radio broadcast hosted by Jacobin Magazine, Feb 1, 2019 (90-minute broadcast) [Two of the interview guests argue that it is wrong for the left in Western countries to ‘appease’ uneasy, liberal observers who accept arguments that the Venezuela government is authoritarian and it should therefore convene a national election (less than one year after the presidential election of May 2018) or even leave office. Paradoxically, the third guest, Gabriel Hetland, recently published an essay in Jacobin Magazine website consisting of a sharp attack against the record of the government of president Nicolás Maduro, calling the government repressive, undemocratic and unrepresentative of the Venezuelan people. Hetland’s essay calls for an “election” in Venezuela, one year after the people of Venezuela gave strong support to Maduro in the May 2018 presidential election.]
Important background: The politics of food in Venezuela, by Ana Felicien, Christina Schiavoni and Liccia Romero, published in Monthly Review, online and in the print edition of June 2018
U.S.-led circus at anti-Iran conference in Warsaw beginning on February 13 unravels as farce, by Finian Cunningham, columnist, RT, Feb 14, 2019
* U.S. seeks to increase pressure on Iran at Warsaw meeting, by Lesley Wroughton and Joanna Plucinska, Reuters, Feb 12, 2019
* Warsaw meeting will fail to undermine Iran’s power says top military commander, Press TV, Feb 12, 2019
* The Iranian Revolution turns 40: Dare to know, have the courage to act!, by Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi, published in CounterPunch, Feb 12, 2019
How the U.S. violated the INF Treaty with its ‘Aegis’ missile system installed in eastern Europe, by Theodore A. Postol, published by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, February 7, 2019 [The editors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists have misrepresented the actual views written by Theodore Postol in his article in the Bulletin. Their chosen headline for the article is: ‘Russia may have violated the INF Treaty. Here’s how the United States appears to have done the same‘. Below are excerpts from the article. These give an accurate overview of the real views of Theodore Postal.]
…The issues associated with preserving the INF Treaty are complex, and both the U.S. and Russian sides have legitimate concerns that need to be resolved if the treaty—an important element of the world arms control regime—is to be resurrected in some form in the six months between the treaty suspensions announced last week and final withdrawal from the treaty.
As they recount allegations about Russian violation of the INF, many major mainstream media outlets have routinely misreported basic facts on the land-based Aegis systems in Eastern Europe and related issues. The actual facts of the matter support the Russian position. This reality must be taken into account, if the United States and Russia (and possibly other countries) are to come to agreement on continued control of intermediate-range missiles.
… The Aegis systems in Eastern Europe have characteristics that make them especially threatening to Russia…
The actual facts of the matter support the Russian position. This reality must be taken into account, if the United States and Russia (and possibly other countries) are to come to agreement on continued control of intermediate-range missiles.
[And here are the concluding two paragraphs of Theodore Postol’s article: ]
…The political situation between the United States and Russia is dangerous—perhaps more dangerous than it has ever been—and there are certainly reasons for the West to be concerned about Russian behavior, including its possible violation of the INF Treaty. But the United States has a long, bipartisan history of making senseless political decisions to deploy ineffective missile defenses, and then justifying those decisions with disinformation, even when technical and military analysts can readily unmask it.
The routine U.S. reliance on misleading claims about missile defense systems—claims too often parroted by the Western press—contributes to an environment in which foreign powers, both friend and foe, rightly do not trust the word of U.S. political and military leaders. This avoidance of factual reality has contributed to the impending demise of the INF. Saving the INF or replacing it with another agreement that limits the extremely destabilizing spread of intermediate-range missiles will require that both the United States and Russia come clean about their efforts to develop and base such missiles. Refusing to acknowledge reality is a poor strategy for enhancing U.S. or Russian security and pursuing the sort of arms control that makes nuclear war less likely. (End article)
Previously reported: Liberal anti-nuclear advocates falsely blame Russia for looming breakdown of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, by Roger Annis, A Socialist In Canada, Feb 8, 2019
Turkey faces serious odds in Manbij and Idlib, by Semih Idiz, Al-Monitor, Feb 7, 2019 [Al-Monitor publishes informed analysis such as this commentary. But it continues to give credence to the ruse of “serious differences” between NATO members U.S. and Turkey over the future of their respective military interventions into Syria. The publication has backed away from unquestioned acceptance of claims by the Trump regime and Western media of a ‘U.S. withdrawal from Syria’. To wit, we read the following in this Al-Monitor article: …The feeling in Ankara is increasingly that President Donald Trump is under pressure to slow down if not reverse his decision [sic] to pull out of Syria. The official Anadolu News Agency in Turkey reported this week [week of February 4, 2019] that Washington was still sending heavy equipment to Manbij, despite Trump’s decision [sic] in December to remove US troops from Syria. It carried footage from Feb. 5 showing 400 trucks laden with electrical generators and high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles entering Manbij, which is currently held by the US-backed YPG…]
Five moments from Juan Guaido’s interview with RT Spanish that don’t quite add up, RT, Feb 11, 2019
As a former UN special rapporteur, the coup in Venezuela reminds me of the rush to war in Iraq, by Alfred de Zayas, published in The Independent, Feb 8, 2019 ‘Oil rich states such as Iraq and Libya were devastated after concerted campaigns of misinformation. US attempts to provoke conflict in the Latin American country have marked similiarities.’ There is nothing more undemocratic and corrosive to the rule of law than a coup d’état. Members of the United Nations are bound by the Charter, articles one and two of which affirm the right of all peoples to determine themselves, the sovereign equality of states, the prohibition of the use of force and of economic or political interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states. Yet these fundamental principles of international order are being grossly violated in the case of Venezuela…
* Former special UN rapporteur on human and civic rights, Alfred de Zayas, says U.S. sanctions are killing Venezuelan citizens, by Michael Selby-Green published in The Independent, Jan 27, 2019
The first UN rapporteur to visit Venezuela for 21 years has told The Independent the U.S. sanctions on the country are illegal and could amount to “crimes against humanity” under international law. Former special rapporteur Alfred de Zayas, who finished his term at the UN in March 2018, has criticized the U.S. for engaging in “economic warfare” against Venezuela which he said is hurting the economy and killing Venezuelans…
Mr De Zayas, a former secretary of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) and an expert in international law, spoke to The Independent following the presentation of his Venezuela report to the UN’s Human Rights Council in September. He said that since its presentation the report has been ignored by the UN and has not sparked the public debate he believes it deserves…
* Report of the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order: Visit to Venezuela and Ecuador by Alfred ez Zayas, report published by Alfred de Zayas’ Human Rights Corner (blog), Sept 10, 2018 The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has published today, 30 August 2018, the long-delayed report of the Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, Alfred-Maurice de Zayas (United States of America, Switzerland) on his visit to Venezuela and Ecuador from November 26 to December 9, 2017.
…In his report, the independent expert expresses the view that the raison d’être of the Human Rights Council and of UN rapporteurs is to help all peoples realize their human rights in larger freedom. Therefore, his task consisted in evaluating the situation objectively with a view to helping all the peoples concerned, without discrimination, offering them the advisory services and technical assistance of UN agencies and effective relief through humanitarian assistance. His priority was not and could not have been “naming and shaming”, but rather listening and mediating.
…The report looks for the causes of the economic crisis, considering the evidence proffered for the main opposition argument that the socialist model has failed and that currently there are too many ideologues and not enough technocrats in government. The expert proposes a more nuanced view, observing that among the multiple factors affecting the crisis one must also consider 1) the century-old dependence on the sale of petroleum and the devastating effect of the sharp fall of oil prices , 2) the cumulative effect of 19 years of economic war conducted against the socialist regime [of Venezuela], comparable to the measures adopted 1970-73 against the government of Salvador Allende in Chile and in the 1980’s against the government of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, 3) the financial blockade, comparable to that suffered by Cuba since 1960, and 4) the effects of the economic sanctions imposed since 2015, which have immensely aggravated the scarcity of foods and medicines, caused serious delays in distribution, and triggered the phenomenon of mass emigration to neighbouring countries.
* Human development indices and indicators in 2017 for the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, report issued by the UN Develelopment Program (eight-page pdf)
On page two of the report: The human development (HDI) index for the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela for 2017 is 0.761, which puts the country in the high human development category, positioning it at 78 out of 189 countries and territories [surveyed by the UNDP].
On page three of the report: …The HDI of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela for 2017 is 0.761, above the average of 0.757 for countries in the high human development group and above the average of 0.758 for countries in Latin America and the Caribbean…
An open letter to the people of the United States from President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, translated and published on News Voice (Sweden), February 8, 2019
Related: Interview with Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro, originally published in the Mexican newspaper La Jornada on January 7, 2019, translated to English by Orinico Tribune (U.S.) and published there on Feb 7, 2019 In the interview, the Venezuelan president identified the successes and failures of his administration. Among the failings, he says, is with respect to the currency exchange rate of the national currency. “We have made mistakes in the exchange rate policy that have led to the imposition of the criminal dollar, the parallel dollar that is set from Miami, from Colombia. We are rectifying many elements of that policy.”
Western media fall into lockstep for cheap Trump/Rubio Venezuela aid public relations stunt, by Adam Johnson, published by Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR), Feb 9, 2019 [Canada’s state-run broadcaster, the CBC, is featuring the ‘aid to Venezuela’ stunt by the Trump regime as top of news in its national radio news reporting on February 10.]
Related: Venezuelan army blocks trucks at Colombia-Venezuela border that are staging ‘humanitarian aid’ stunt by Trump regime and Colombian gov’t, report by Christine Armario and Leonardo Haberkorn, Associated Press, Feb 7, 2019
‘Macron unleashed violence against Yellow Vests, each casualty is on him’, writes French author and academic Michel Onfray, RT, Feb 9, 2019
Latest exposé of neo-Nazis in NATO-member Germany’s army and police, report by Deutsche WElle, Feb 9, 2019
* Neo-Nazis in Canada look to military for training, by Ben Makuch and Mack Lamoureux, VICE News, Oct 22, 2019
* The furious world of New Zealand’s far right nationalists, by Marc Daalder, published in The Spinoff (New Zealand), Feb 2, 2019
John McDonnell and a renewed Labour Party, lengthy essay by Barnaby Raine, published in n+1 Magazine, issue #33, winter 2019 [n+1 Magazine (www.nplusone.org) is a print and digital magazine of literature, culture, and politics founded in New York City in 2004, published online, and published in print three times a year.]
Related: Book ‘Dangerous Hero’ attacking Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t add up to a hill of beans, by George Galloway, columnist, RT, Feb 11, 2019
Political uproar surrounding Canada’s demoted justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould threatens to weaken U.S. extradition demand against China’s Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, by Roger Annis, A Socialist In Canada, Feb 10, 2019
Russia leads the world in providing for women and children of families headed by ISIS fighters in Syria and Iraq, by Ilya Arkhipov, Bloomberg News, Jan 31, 2019 …”Russia’s human rights record is deeply problematic, but it has done a lot more than Western democracies on the issue of refugee returns from the conflict in Syria,” says Tanya Lokshina, Human Rights Watch associate director for Europe and Central Asia. “Globally, Russia had the most active program to return detainees from Iraq and Syria, notably children.” …
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump and the state of imperial decline, by Glen Ford, executive editor, Black Agenda Report, Feb 7, 2019
Related: Democrats are the McCarthyites, by Margaret Kimberley, editor and senior columnist, Black Agenda Report, Feb 6, 2019
EU adopts French, German compromise on ‘Nord Stream 2’ gas pipeline from Russia, report by Deutsche Welle, Feb 8, 2019 Overcoming differences between Paris and Berlin, EU diplomats reached a deal on the pipeline, placing stricter regulations on the project. France said it wanted to “ensure European control” of its own energy needs.
Related: Behind U.S. objections to ‘Nord Stream 2’, the second gas pipeline to deliver Russian natural gas to Germany due for completion in late 2019, report by Deutsche Welle, Feb 7, 2019
Venezuela: Coup d’etat or constitutional transition?, by Lucas Koerner and the editorial board of Venezuela Analysis, Feb 7, 2019 Writing for the Venezuela Analysis team, Lucas Koerner examines the (un)constitutionality of Juan Guaido’s claim to power.
After French gov’t says it recognizes Juan Guaido as president of Venezuela, left-wing leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon asks whether the leader of the ‘Yellow Vests’ movement can declare himself president of France, report by RT, Feb 7, 2019 [Jean-Luc Mélenchon stated on Twitter on February 4: “Resist! Nicolas Maduro is the president of Venezuela. Peace and freedom for Venezuela!”
Bolsonaro’s Brazil, by Perry Anderson, published in London Review of Books, Vol. 41, No. 3, print issue of Feb 7, 2019 [This lengthy essay (17,270 words) examines the record of the Workers Party governments of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (2003 – 2010) and his successor President Dilma Rousseff (2011 – 2016). It details the judicial and political assaults against the two presidents by the right wing elite of of Brazil. It goes on to examine the rise to power of the extreme-right, new president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, who won the two-round presidential election in Brazil on October 7 and 28, 2018. Anderson’s essay includes all-to-rare analysis of the economic and social policies of the PT-led governments, which, unlike Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution, did not challenge the foundations of the capitalist order.]
Venezuela blitz: Tyrants don’t hold free elections, news analysis by David Cromwell and David Edwards, published in Media Lens (UK), Feb 5, 2019 Part one; part two to be published soon. (David Cromwell and David Edwards are the founders in 2001 of Media Lens.)
In our new book, Propaganda Blitz: How the Corporate Media Distort Reality [published in September 2018], we describe a ‘propaganda blitz’ as a fast-moving campaign to persuade the public of the need for ‘action’ or ‘intervention’ furthering elite interests. Affecting great moral outrage, corporate media line up to insist that a watershed moment has arrived – something must be done!
A classic propaganda blitz was triggered on January 23, 2019 when opposition leader Juan Guaidó declared himself ‘interim president’ of Venezuela. This was presented as dramatic new evidence that the people of Venezuela had finally had enough of Nicolas Maduro’s ‘regime’…
How media is mis-reporting the crippling economic sanctions against Venezuela, by Alexander Campbell, published by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (Washington DC), Feb 4, 2019
* U.S. media ignore, and applaud, the U.S.-led economic war against Venezuela, by Gregory Shupak, published by Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR), Feb 6, 2019
* Dissecting the jingoistic media coverage of the Venezuela crisis, by Danielle Ryan, columnist, RT, Feb 5, 2019 [The writer pens a very informative analysis but overlooks the overriding reason why the U.S., Canada and large imperialist countries of Europe are seeking the violent overthrow of the Venezuelan government: it is because Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution has set a ‘bad example’ of empowering the workers, farmers, Indigenous peoples and disenfranchised of the country–and continues to do so. Worse, Venezuela’s popular revolution inspires others in Latin America if not the world to join in fighting for a world of social justice.]
Background: Trump’s sanctions against Venezuela make economic recovery here nearly impossible, by Mark Weisbrot, published in The Nation, Sept 7, 2017 (Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic Policy Research in Washington, DC.)
Mass rally in Caracas, Venezuela on Feb 2 backs Maduro gov’t against U.S./Canada/Europe coup threats, report in Press TV, Feb 3, 3019
‘Live feed’ videos of the pro-government and anti-government rallies of tens of thousands which took place in Caraca, Venezuela s on February 2, 2019 can by viewed on RT‘s ‘Ruptly’ video service, Each video is several hours long:
* Pro-government rally (includes speech by President Nicolás Maduro beginning at one hour/37-minute mark and lasting 60 minutes)
* Anti-government rally
And: Massive rallies for Maduro are held in Venezuela but ignored by war-mongering corporate media, by Estevan Hernandez, Liberation News (U.S.), Feb 5, 2019 (with photos)
Afghan politicians, Taliban representatives hold peace talks in Moscow on Feb 5, 6, TASS Russian news service, Feb 5, 2019
Related: Afghans go to talks in Moscow with Taliban talks, but government is left out, by Mujib Mashal, New York Times, Feb 5, 2019 Senior Afghan politicians, including former President Hamid Karzai, began a meeting with Taliban representatives in Moscow on Tuesday, weeks after the insurgents and American diplomats announced progress toward an end to the long war. But the two-day gathering, the insurgents’ most significant contact with Afghan politicians in years, has drawn strong criticism from the government of President Ashraf Ghani, who sees such initiatives — at a time when the Taliban seem ready to meet with anyone but his own government — as undermining the fragile Afghan state…
Pope Francis acknowledges nuns were sexually abused by priests and bishops, by Jason Horowitz and Elizabeth Dias, New York Times, Feb. 5, 2019 (and: report by CBS News, Feb 5, 2019)
Pope Francis said on February 5 that the Roman Catholic Church had faced a persistent problem of sexual abuse of nuns by priests and even bishops, the first time he has publicly acknowledged the issue.
Catholic nuns have accused clerics of sexual abuse in recent years in India, Africa, Latin America and in Italy, and a Vatican magazine last week mentioned nuns having abortions or giving birth to the children of priests. But Francis has never raised the issue until he was asked to comment during a news conference aboard the papal plane returning to Rome from his trip to the United Arab Emirates. “It’s true,” Francis said. “There are priests and bishops who have done that.”
… In November, the organization representing the world’s Catholic women’s religious orders, the International Union of Superiors General, publicly denounced the “culture of silence and secrecy” that contributed to abuse, and urged nuns to report abuse to law enforcement…
NBC News relies on a firm just caught fabricating Russia data for the Democratic Party for its claim that Russia supports a 2020 presidential bid by Tulsi Gabbard, by Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept, Feb 4, 2019 NBC News published a predictably viral story on February 1claiming that “experts who track websites and social media linked to Russia have seen stirrings of a possible campaign of support for Hawaii Democrat [Congresswoman] Tulsi Gabbard.” But the whole story was a sham: The only “expert” cited by NBC in support of its key claim was the firm New Knowledge, which just got caught by the New York Times fabricating Russian troll accounts on behalf of the Democratic Party in the Alabama Senate race to manufacture false accusations that the Kremlin was interfering in that election…
Thirty candidates register for a March 31 presidential election in Ukraine, leading the polls is a comedian who mocks incumbent president Poroshenko, Press TV, Feb 4, 2019
Killing the search for truth about Britain’s forgotten roles in 2003 war against Iraq and in Afghanistan war begun in 1991, by Ibrahim Al-Marashi, Middle East Eye, Feb 4, 2019
On June 7, 2018. The Guardian ran an in-depth article with the headline: ‘Why we may never know if British troops committed war crimes in Iraq’. The piece focused on the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) set up by the British government to investigate claims of abuse committed by its troops against Iraqi civilians. The Guardian article laments: “After its collapse, some fear the truth will never come out.” Yet the truth about what occurred in Iraq still struggles to emerge.
On February 4, Middle East Eye published an exclusive report revealing that the British army operated rules of engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan that allowed soldiers to shoot unarmed civilians who were suspected of keeping them under surveillance. While the history of the occupation of Iraq tends to focus on American misconduct, such as the Blackwater shooting of 20 Iraqi civilians or the Abu Ghraib scandal, Middle East Eye’s investigation is a painful reminder of the forgotten British role in Basra and its environs during this time and the breaches of Geneva Conventions that ensued…
U.S. withdrawal from INF Treaty puts Europe (and the world) at risk, statement by International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), Feb 1, 2019 [In contrast to the title which ICAN gives to its statement, the statement itself falsely attributes equal responsibility to Russia for the looming breakdown of the Intermediate Nuclear Weapons Treaty signed by the U.S. and then-Soviet Union in 1987. The Donald Trump regime announced on February 1, 2019 that it will abrogate the treaty as of August 2, 2019, according to the treaty’s 180-day abrogation terms. ICAN writes, “Over the past few weeks, months, and even years, both Russia and the US have signaled an apparent interest in a new nuclear arms race.” The ICAN statement shamefully neglects to mention the eastward expansion since 1991 of the nuclear-armed NATO military alliance, to Russia’s very borders. The statement also shamefully neglects to mention how the U.S. (NATO) military has placed missile systems (Lockheed Martin’s Aegis Ashore) pointed at Russia in Romania (2016) and Poland and Japan (under construction) and how for years–stretching back to the Obama presidency–the U.S has embarked on research and production of new generations of nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems. These and many other U.S. and NATO moves are the sources of the new nuclear arms race.]
Canada’s largest union sides with maligned Venezuela president over Canadian government, by Marie Danielle Smith, published in The National Post (conservative daily), Feb 1, 2019 CUPE ‘rejects any attempt by the Canadian government to interfere with the democratic processes and sovereignty of the Venezuelan people’
Related: Solidarity with the Venezuelan people: Statement by the Canadian Union of Public Employees on the situation in Venezuela, issued on January 25, 2019 [CUPE is the largest trade union in Canada with some 680,000 members.]
U.S. announces withdrawal from Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces missile treaty, to take effect in 180 days, RT, Feb 1, 2019
* Trump says NATO allies agree with U.S. withdrawal from INF Treaty, RT, Feb 1, 2019
* Russia suspends INF Treaty in ‘mirror response’ to U.S. announcing it is abrogating the agreement, RT, Feb 2, 2019
* Washington walking away from another treaty, three-minute video on the announced INF Treaty abrogation by the United States, produced by Space 4 Peace, Feb 1, 2019
* U.S. announces it has commenced manufacture of its next-generation, ‘low-yield’ submarine-based nuclear weapon, the W76-2, by Dan Leone, Nuclear Security & Deterrence Monitor, Jan 25, 2019
[Western media is reporting as fact the lies offered by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a February 1 press conference and by Donald Trump on the same day announcing U.S. withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty (INF) signed by the U.S. and Soviet Union in 1987 [Wikipedia). See, for example this report by Associated Press; another approach is to simply evade reporting the specific accusations made against Russia by the U.S. and NATO, for example in this report by CNN. The U.S. has been encircling Russia with medium range (nuclear capable) missiles for years. In 2002, the U.S. pulled out of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty (Wikipedia) which restricted the number of missile defense deployments by the U.S. and then-Soviet Union. The Trump regime has announced earlier that it will continue and step up research and production of new generations of nuclear weapons begun under the Obama regime.]
Robert Mueller-led investigation into ‘Russiagate’ accuses Roger Stone of lying and bullying, but not Russia collusion, by Aaron Maté, published in The Nation, Feb 1, 2019 [‘Russiagate’ conspiratorialists have long alleged that political operative Roger Stone, a former advisor to Donald Trump, was a key go-between in Wikileaks facilitating the leak of Democratic Party campaign emails. These were subsequently used by the Trump campaign to embarass the Democrats during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. But the witchhunt investigation led by Robert Mueller makes no such accusation against Stone, who was arrested and criminally charged on January 25. As Aaron Maté here reports in The Nation, “Despite all of this, media outlets across the board have suggested or claimed that the Stone charges show that he passed on privileged information about Wikileaks to the Trump campaign in 2016. But all Mueller has shown is that Stone asked for secret information about WikiLeaks from two people who appear to have had none to provide; and that the Trump campaign asked him about secret information that he accordingly is unlikely to have had.” Echoing Maté’s finding, an article in CNN on February 1 is filled with lurid speculation about Russia-Trump ties but nonetheless states, “The key question for Mueller has always been whether there was a criminal conspiracy by members of Trump’s team to cooperate with Moscow’s bid to make him President. So far, he has offered no proof of such a bombshell finding, in a forest of indictments, court filings, one trial and convictions of people around the President in a probe that appears to be getting ever closer to the Oval Office.”]
World news headlines on A Socialist In Canada, January 2019
The making of Juan Guaidó: How the U.S. regime change laboratory created Venezuela’s coup leader, feature essay by Dan Cohen and Max Blumenthal, published in The Grayzone Project, Jan 29, 2019 Juan Guaidó is the product of a decade-long project overseen by Washington’s elite regime change trainers. While posing as a champion of democracy, he has spent years at the forefront of a violent campaign of destabilization. Before the fateful day of January 22, fewer than one in five Venezuelans had heard of Juan Guaidó. Only a few months ago, the 35-year-old was an obscure character in a politically marginal far-right group closely associated with gruesome acts of street violence…
* Venezuela will not be an easy win for Donald Trump, by Betty Purcell, The Irish Times, Jan 28, 2019 (Betty Purcell is a journalist and author. She travelled to Venezuela as part of an international delegation overseeing the municipal elections in December 2017.) Juan Guaido’s self-declaration as Venezuelan president last week, following a call from Mike Pence (according to the Wall Street Journal), and his swift recognition by the United States does little to heal the fractured country that is Venezuela today. Most of us will have seen the march of one million people in Guaido’s support last week [January 23]. Less widely covered was Wednesday’s [January 23] march of three million people in support of president Nicolas Maduro. The mobilisations are part of a fomented civil war, where the people of Venezuela are the abject losers…
Maduro to Americans: You are bigger than Trump, don’t let him start ‘Vietnam’ war against Venezuela, RT, Jan 30, 2019 Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro called on the people in the US to deter the Trump administration from putting boots on the ground in Venezuela, warning that any intervention would backfire leading to new Vietnam-like disaster. In his first direct message to the American people, the Venezuelan leader urged them to stop the US government from entangling the nation in a pointless and inherently doomed military adventure…
* Venezuela’s Supreme Court imposes travel ban and asset freeze on coup-fomenting Juan Guaido, President Maduro announces expansion of civil defense militias to two million members, report by Associated Press, Jan 30, 2019
* Trump regime’s Venezuela envoy Elliott Abrams is a war criminal who has abetted genocide, feature discussion with U.S. journalist Allan Nairn, broadcast on Democracy Now!, Jan 30, 2019 (49-minute broadcast)
* EU parliament urges member states to recognize Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president, RT, Jan 31, 2019
* The working poor in Venezuela will determine the country’s future, by Thomas Walkom, national affairs columnist, Toronto Star, Jan. 29, 2019 [This is a rare, informed analysis to appear in Canada’s corporate media examining Ottawa’s role in fomenting a coup in Venezuela. The state-run CBC is front and center in that effort. The Toronto Star columnist says the May 20, 2018 election that returned President Maduro to power was “deeply flawed” but provides no evidence. Maduro was re-elected by 68 per cent of voters (Wikipedia).].
* Bret Stephens, the New York Times and fearmongering over Venezuela, by Greg Grandin, The Nation, Jan 29, 2019
* Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov condemns U.S. policy seeking the overthrow of the legitimate government of Venezuela, report by TASS Russian news agency, jan 29, 2019 (and: transcript of comments by Sergei Lavrov to a press conference in Moscow on Jan 29, 2019, published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation)
* Washington follows Ukraine, Syria roadmap in push for Venezuela regime change, by Whitney Webb, MintPress News, Jan 26, 2019 [This essay title suggests the essay contains analysis of the relation of events in Ukraine to those in Venezuela. It does not.].
* Canada to host meeting of ‘Lima Group’ of countries in Ottawa on February 4 to further coup fomenting in Venezuela, report published by CBC News, Jan 28, 2019 [The planned meeting in Ottawa follows the coup playbook used by Canada against Haiti in 2004. And on January 16, 2018, Canada co-hosted with the U.S. an international conference in Vancouver to boost sanctions and other threats against North Korea.]
Down from the mountain, essay/book review by Greg Grandin, published in London Review of Books, Vol. 39 No. 13, June 29, 2017 (6021 words) Reviewing: Chávez: My First Life, by Hugo Chávez and Ignacio Ramonet, translated by Ann Wright; Verso, Aug 2016, 544 pp, ISBN 978 1 78478 383 9
U.S. approves $2.15 billion sale to Japan of Aegis systems, Defense Post, Jan 30, 2019 … Aegis made up a significant portion of Japan’s record $47 billion defense budget agreed in December. The defense funding will cover the cost of introducing Japan’s Aegis Ashore land-based missile interceptor system…
Previously reported: With eye on China, Japan unveils record defense budget, by news agencies, published in Japan Times, Dec 21, 2018 Japan’s defense budget will swell to a record ¥5.26 trillion for the 2019 fiscal year [US $47 billion, nearly equal to UK military spending in 2019], the government said Friday, as Tokyo looks to beef up its missile defense and deploy stealth jets in a bid to counter China. The defense spending was part of a ¥101.46 trillion national budget for the fiscal year starting in April that was approved by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet.
U.S. files formal extradition request for Meng Wanzhou, CBC News, Jan 28, 2019 and, Beijing accuses U.S. of trying to ‘strangle’ Chinese firms in response to Huawei crackdown, RT, Jan 29, 2019 Iran sanctions and alleged violations of a patent for a toy are at the center of the Trump regime’s case for extradition against Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou
[The U.S. extradition case against Meng Wanzhou is presently before a Canadian court, but the ultimate decision to extradite is in the hands of the Canadian government. Ottawa is deeply partnered with Washington’s warmaking foreign policy in eastern Europe, Syria and the Korean peninsula, and it shares Washington’s partnership with Saudi Arabia and its drive to a coup in Venezuela.
[The Globe and Mail daily newspaper has been leading the agitation in favour of deepening the new cold war against China. It writes in a January 29 editorial, “Geography has put Canada next to the United States, but that relationship – like Canada’s relationship with other democratic and liberal allies in Europe, Asia and around the world – is built on a deeper foundation. Even in the era of Mr. Trump, we should not lose sight of who our friends are, and where our interests lie.” The Toronto Star has been less aggressive. But a January 29 editorial nonetheless voices the editors’new cold war ambitions shared with the Globe. The Star editorial concludes, “We have to be clear-eyed about who we’re dealing with. That means, for a start, dialing back expectations about the type of agreements Canada may be able to make with China in the foreseeable future. And it means, almost certainly, joining the majority of countries in the “Five Eyes” intelligence network in barring Huawei from next-generation telecom networks.”].
* Meng Wanzhou and legal team attend court hearing in Vancouver on Jan 29, 2019 , report in Vancouver Sun, Jan 30, 2019
* Former Liberal Party cabinet minister Herb Dhaliwal says U.S. case against Meng Wanzhou is ‘nothing more than politics’, says dissatisfaction with Liberal Party government’s collaboration with Trump regime on the case is widespread within the party, interview with Herb Dhaliwal, broadcast on CBC Radio One‘s ‘As It Happens’ program, Jan 28, 2019 (first item at the weblink)
The scandal surrounding the ‘Integrity Initiative’ propaganda agency in Britain is getting worse and British media keeps ignoring it, by Danielle Ryan, columnist, RT, Jan 29, 2019
Hundreds injured to date by police violence against ‘Yellow Vest’ protest movement in France, report in The Local.fr, Jan 29, 2019
Attempted coup in Venezuela: Interview with Abby Martin, Greg Wilpert, Paul Jay, special 40-minute interview broadcast on The Real News Network, Jan 25, 2019 (with transcript)
U.S announces sanctions against Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA, RT, Jan, 28, 2019 Washington has imposed sanctions against the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, seizing $7 billion in assets, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced…
Related: Amid the Venezuelan crisis, a look at oil, Russia and Trump, by Ellen R. Wald, senior contributor, Forbes Magazine, Jan 23 2019
Tens of thousands march in Belgium and France demanding government action to slow global warming, report in Common Dreams Jan 27, 2019
At least 80,000 people marched in a cold rain in Brussels on Sunday, January 27 in another massive protest demanding that the European Union take urgent and far-reaching action to address the world’s climate crisis. Sunday’s march was the fourth climate march in the past three weeks—each one significantly bigger than the last—as students across Belgium and other European countries have skipped their high school and college classes in order to shame those in power who refuse to move urgently…
In France, organisers said more than 80,000 people demonstrated in French towns and cities on Sunday. An online petition they set up on the issue — at laffairedusiecle.net — has already gathered more than 2.1 million signatures and organizers want to hit three million. “Onions, not concrete”, “Less consumption, more butterflies” were among the messages on placards at a demonstration in central Paris…
[This interview in the soft-left Jacobin website could be titled, ‘How to analyze right-wing Ukraine while ignoring the new cold war of the NATO imperialist countries’. Volodymyr Ishchenko is very adept at providing left-wing sounding analysis of Ukraine. He describes the unfolding of the February 2014 ‘Euromaidan’ coup in these terms: “Neither the NGOs nor the parties could articulate any progressive, egalitarian agenda. It was pretty clear from the outset that even progressive liberals were in the minority, never mind socialists. They were only loosely organized, and had no substantial influence, either on the development of the protests or on their ideological framing. They were probably more important in terms of framing the protests for parts of the Western audience which, in a kind of wishful thinking, focused on the most progressive elements of the movement but not the much stronger reactionary ones. From the outset it was clear that if the Maidan protests succeeded, they would bring right-wing opposition parties to power.” And further, “What we’ve seen in the five years since then is that Ukraine has become poorer. The IMF recently updated their global statistics on GDP per capita, and Ukraine’s is now the lowest in Europe.”
[But amidst all this, Ishchenko cannot utter the word ‘coup’ to describe the 2014 events. He terms it “the president’s [Victor Yanukovych’s] removal from power”. He says not a word about the NATO military presence in Ukraine proper, which counts more than 1,000 troops and heavy equipment and is providing assistance to a Ukrainian army that is thoroughly infested with extreme-right and neo-Nazi paramilitaries. NATO’s positioning of troops and offensive missiles in neighbouring Romania and Poland directed against Russia likewise get no mention. He says not a word about NATO’s new cold war against Russia. Ishchenko’s analysis of Ukraine is deeply distorted by his longstanding anti-Russia views, but these views are largely absent from the interview. They are hinted in only one place, in his reference to the March 16, 2014 referendum vote in Crimea. A large majority of the people of Crimea voted to secede from the new, right-wing Ukraine in order to block the violence of Ukraine’s extreme-right paramilitaries from arriving on the peninsula. The referendum was also spurred by longstanding, unresolved social, political and economic grievances by the people of all nationalities in Crimea. But Ishchenko calls the referendum a “Russian annexation of Crimea”.]
Erdogan-Putin summit in Moscow on January 23 highlights differences over Syria, by Semih Idiz, Al-Monitor, Jan 25, 2019 …The Erdogan-Putin talks did not provide any indication that Moscow would support a Turkish military incursion into northern Syria. Complicating matters further for the Turkish side is the fact that Russia is working to secure an agreement between the Kurds in northern Syria and Damascus, in order to prevent a Turkish operation…
[This above news analysis published in Al-Monitor is a rare insight into the true state of relations between the Turkish and Syrian/Russian governments as NATO-member Turkey pursues its joint goal with the U.S. of a weak and divided Syria. The Al-Monitor analysis is marred by its unsubstantiated and nonsensical claims that the U.S. intends to withdraw its military from Syria and that relations between NATO members U.S. and Turkey are fractured and tense.]
* English transcript of press conference in Moscow on January 23 of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, published on the website of the President of Russia, Jan 23, 2019
* U.S. sends additional troops to Syria to prepare for withdrawal [sic], CNN, Jan 23, 2019 … [U.S. Defense Department] officials said the additional security forces may move around Syria to different locations as needed and may move in and out of the country at times. They would not indicate if any troop withdrawals have taken place or will happen in the immediate future, citing security concerns…
Maduro allows U.S. diplomats to stay after expulsion order, but sets conditions, RT, Jan 27, 2019 Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has revised his earlier demand for U.S. diplomats to leave the country within 72 hours, giving time for negotiations in a sign of “true diplomacy”. He warned of repercussions if no deal is reached. Maduro offered Trump a 30-day period to seek the establishment of a “U.S. interests office” in Caracas and a similar Venezuelan institution in the U.S. …
* Venezuelan military envoy to U.S. denounced as ‘traitor’ by Caracas after breaking with Maduro gov’t, RT, Jan 27, 2019
* ‘Guido’? U.S. Secretary of State mangles name of U.S.-backed claimant to Venezuela presidency, RT, Jan 26, 2019
* ‘Events are not going according to U.S. plans, says Venezuela Analysis’ Lukas Koerner in interview, 11-minute interview on RT America, Jan 25, 2019
U.S. agitation for a coup in Venezuela: New attempt to eradicate the Chavista revolution, by Stansfield Smith, published in Orinico Tribune, Jan 25, 2019
* U.S. backs another coup in Venezuela, interview with Venezuela Analysis writer Lukas Koerner, broadcast on ‘By Any Means Necessary’, Jan 25, 2019 (18-minute interview)
* Is a foreign military intervention in Venezuela imminent?, commentary by James Jordan, published in Venezuela Analysis, Jan 25, 2019
Venezuelan opposition leader Guaido declares himself president, recognized by U.S. and allies, by Ricardo Vaz, Venezuela Analysis, Jan 23, 2019 President Maduro calls upon the Venzuelan people to defeat this “coup attempt”. and, Trump recognizes U.S.-backed head of Venezuela’s opposition Juan Guaido as country’s interim president, RT, Jan 23, 2019
* U.S. Secretary of State urges Maduro to step aside & Venezuelan military to help ‘restore democracy’, RT, Jan 23, 2019
* U.S. refuses to withdraw diplomats from Venezuela after President Maduro breaks ties, RT, Jan 24, 2019
* The unelected officials who run the European Union back a coup in Venezuela, RT, Jan 23, 2019 [Officials of the European Union have never seen a pro-imperialist coup they did not support: Haiti in 2004, Libya in 2011, Egypt in 2013, Ukraine in 2014, Brazil in 2017, and the list goes on…].
* The Organization of American States is in dangerous disarray over Venezuela, commentary by Ronald Sanders (Ambassador to the United States and the OAS of Antigua and Barbuda), published in Caribbean News Now, Jan 22, 2019 … In his latest overreach, Mr Almagro has taken upon himself to unilaterally and publicly anoint an “Interim President” of Venezuela. Almagro’s selection is Juan Guaidó who was elected by the National Assembly — made up of only opposition party representatives — as its president “for a year”. He made this spontaneous statement at a meeting on January 15 at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a US think-tank based in Washington, DC. No official organ of the OAS has made any such decision or even discussed it, and none has authorised Mr Almagro to make it…
* Bernie Sanders condemns Venezuela government, says a U.S. coup against it would be ‘inappropriate’, two paragraph statement issued by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, Jan 24, 2019
Canadian gov’t fires Ambassador to China John McCallum for his public declarations suggesting that the detention on December 1, 2018 and threat of extradition to the U.S. of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou is a U.S.-led political operation, report by CBC News, Jan 26, 2019 [McCallum, 68, was chief economist at Canada’s largest bank, RBC, from 1994 to 2000 and then Liberal Party member of Parliament from 2000 to 2015. The long-stated intention of Canadian governments to diversify the heavy dependence of Canadian capitalists on U.S.-Canada investment and trade is taking second place to Canada’s participation in the U.S.-led new cold war being stepped up against China. It’s a complicated shift because several of Canada’s largest telecoms are resisting the pressure of the governments of the ‘Five Eyes’ spying alliance to ban Huawei from any participation in installing the new, ‘5G’ telecommunications technology. So far, three of the five imperialist ‘Five Eyes’ countries have banned Huawei—U.S., Australia and New Zealand. Canada and Britain are working on it.]
Related: Canadian author stirs anti-China prejudice and new cold war aggression in new book ‘Claws Of The Panda’, commentary by author Jonathan Manthorpe, published in the Toronto Star, Jan 26, 2019 (Jonathan Manthorpe is a retired business columnist at the right-wing Postmedia and its various antecedents. He has just published a book on the history of Canada-China relations called Claws Of The Panda.) …In the end, I think the Huawei-Meng affair must be regarded as a positive turning point in the story of Canada-China relations. For the first time since the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) came to power in 1949, Canada’s leaders and opinion-makers have been forced to look at Canada’s relationship with Beijing as it really is, and not as they would like it to be. The CCP’s values and objectives are not like those of Canada and never will be…
[Since 2014, Canadians have suffered rampant anti-Russian prejudice from its state-run broadcaster the CBC and elsewhere in corporate media. Now China is targetted by media as part of the escalating new cold war. The anti-China Globe and Mail daily published a lengthy review of Claws Of The Panda on January 26 (subscriber only), simultaneous to the appearance of the above commentary by Jonathan Manthorpe in the Toronto Star. Reviewer Michael Byers calls Claws of the Panda a “remarkable new book”, saying it makes for “chilling reading”. He writes that the Chinese Communist Party “has spent decades quietly infiltrating Canada in order to acquire influence over economic and political decision making”. He laments that Canadians have been “easy targets” and writes that Canada’s police and spy agencies need new witchhunt powers to investigate the “infiltration of Canadian governments, from the municipal to the federal levels” by the Chinese government and governing party. Byers is a professor at the University of British Columbia and a longtime ideologue of the imperialist ‘responsibility to protect’ doctrine. The doctrine was brandished by Canada in Haiti in 2004 when it helped spearhead a coup against Haiti’s elected president, legislature and senate.
[The Globe and Mail daily newspaper has been leading the agitation in favour of deepening the U.S.-led new cold war against China. It writes in a January 29 editorial, “Geography has put Canada next to the United States, but that relationship – like Canada’s relationship with other democratic and liberal allies in Europe, Asia and around the world – is built on a deeper foundation. Even in the era of Mr. Trump, we should not lose sight of who our friends are, and where our interests lie.”].
Tens of thousands rally to protest Australia Day, calling it ‘Invasion Day’, Al Jazeera, Jan 26, 2019 and, Tens of thousands attend ‘Invasion Day’ rallies across Australia, SBS News, Jan 26, 2019 Estimates of the sizes of marches include 80,000 in Melbourne, 50,000 in Sydney.
Reality starting to creep into the billionaire oasis of Davos, by Vijay Prashad (Independent media Institute), published in Asia Times, Jan 23, 2019
* Global economy on the brink as the Davos crowd parties on, by Jack Rasmus, published on his website Predicting The Global Economic Crisis, Jan 23, 2019
* The hidden automation agenda of the Davos elite, by Kevin Roose, New York Times, Jan. 25, 2019 DAVOS, Switzerland — They’ll never admit it in public, but many of your bosses want machines to replace you as soon as possible. I know this because, for the past week, I’ve been mingling with corporate executives at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos. And I’ve noticed that their answers to questions about automation depend very much on who is listening…
* Make no mistake, Davos, the fat cat backlash is coming, commentary by Lionel Laurent, Bloomberg News, Jan 21, 2019
* Davos: Climate and inequality, by Michael Roberts (Marxist economist in UK), published on his website, Jan 23, 2019
* Davos and the ‘liberal order’, by Michael Roberts, published on his website, Jan 22, 2019
Airport shutdowns forced Trump to reopen the government, by Eric Levitz, New York Magazine, Jan 25, 2019
The youngest Americans are the most progressive on social issues, report by Pew Research Center, Jan 17, 2019 …On a range of issues, from Donald Trump’s presidency to the role of government to racial equality and climate change, the views of Gen Z – those ages 13 to 21 in 2018 – mirror those of Millennials. In each of these realms, the two younger generations hold views that differ significantly from those of their older counterparts. [Here is how Pew Research labels the generations: Generation Z: ages 7 to 22; Millenials: ages 23 to 38; Generation X: ages 39 to 54; Boomers: ages 55 to 73; Silent: ages 74 to 91.]
* Some early lessons from the Los Angeles teachers strike, by Bruce Dixon, managing director, Black Agenda Report, Jan 24, 2019
* In teachers’ strike settlement, public support for education was the best news, by Steve Lopez, LA Times, Jan 22, 2019
Press TV anchor Marzieh Hashemi freed from U.S. jail, report by Press TV, Jan 23, 2019
* Silence of the media lambs: The case of Marzieh Hashemi, by Rannie Amiri, CounterPunch, Jan 25, 2019
* U.S. officials confirm that jailed Iranian TV news anchor Marzieh Hashemi is not charged with a crime, say she is being detained as a ‘material witness’ to appear before a grand jury, Associated Press, Jan 18, 2019 …The jury is examining whether Hashemi’s employer, Press TV, failed to register in the US as an agent of a foreign government, Reuters news agency reported, citing a US government source…
… [Defense Department] officials said the additional security forces may move around Syria to different locations as needed and may move in and out of the country at times. They would not indicate if any troop withdrawals have taken place or will happen in the immediate future, citing security concerns…
* Syria threatens to ‘strike Tel Aviv airport’ unless UN Security Council acts against Israel’s impunity, RT Jan 23, 2019
* Syria repels Israel air raid on Damascus international airport, shoots down seven missiles, RT, Jan 20, 2019
* Suicide bombing in Manbij, Syria kills two U.S. soldiers, two U.S. mercenaries and members of the Manbij military council, 19 people in total, throwing Trump’s ‘Syria withdrawal’ show into chaos, report by Reuters, Jan 16, 2019 and report by Al-Monitor staff, Jan 16, 2019
* Turkey, U.S. discuss Syria buffer zone as Manbij attack kills American troops, by Jasper Mortimer, Al-Monitor, Jan 16, 2019
The ‘arc of the moral universe’ bends towards justice for Palestine, commentary by Nada Elia, published in Mondoweiss, Jan 21, 2019
…An interesting development happened this Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend: acclaimed African American scholar Michelle Alexander joined the long list of African American activists and intellectuals as well as thousands of younger organizers who openly support Palestine, even as she indicated, in her New York Times op-ed on January 19, that she had been intimidated by the Israel Lobby into not expressing her views earlier.
…It is not mere coincidence that the Palestinian people’s choice of resistance, namely boycotts, is the one also embraced by Dr. King. The call for BDS was made because this is a time-tested strategy best suited for challenging state-sanctioned supremacy. It worked in the U.S. South, it worked in South Africa, and it will work in Palestine.
Related: Time to break the silence on Palestine, by Michelle Alexander, columnist, New York Times, Jan. 19, 2019 …Until very recently, the entire Congress has remained mostly silent on the human rights nightmare that has unfolded in the occupied territories. Our elected representatives, who operate in a political environment where Israel’s political lobby holds well-documented power, have consistently minimized and deflected criticism of the State of Israel, even as it has grown more emboldened in its occupation of Palestinian territory and adopted some practices reminiscent of apartheid in South Africa and Jim Crow segregation in the United States…
UK gov’t-funded ‘Integrity Initiative’ wipes its website clean pending probe into leak of disturbing data, RT.com, Jan 22, 2019 The British state-funded Integrity Initiative, exposed last year for conducting Europe-wide political influence campaigns in leaked files, has removed all of its website content “pending an investigation” into the data “theft”. A group claiming association with the loose hacktivist collective Anonymous has been dumping private Integrity Initiative documents online in various batches since November revealing that the Scotland-based, government-funded organization was actually using “clusters” of journalists, politicians, and academics to carry out secret anti-Russia campaigns, interfere in domestic politics across Europe and smear anyone who questioned its narratives…
Coroner in Wiltshire county, England cannot rule ‘novichok’ as the cause of death of Dawn Sturgess in July 2018 as Theresa May’s ‘Skripal poisoning’ story fails bottle test, by John Helmer, published in his website Dances With Bears, Jan 22, 2019
Related: British government to demolish part of Skripal house in Salisbury (Wiltshire county); evidence grows that Sergei Skripal poisoned himself by accident, by John Helmer, published in his website Dances With Bears, Jan 17, 2019
Kurds look to preserve autonomy, armed forces in talks with Damascus, report by Rudaw news agency (Iraqi Kurdistan), Jan 19, 2019 [The Kurdish-led civilian administration of northern Syria wants to preserve its local councils, armed forces, and languages as it negotiates with Damascus, according to media with close ties to administration authorities. ANHA news agency reports on January 19 that it received through sources a list of the ten most important conditions of the autonomous administration as it negotiates with the Syrian government. The Kurdish administration formally calls its territory the Autonomous Administration of North and East of Syria].
The skewed view of the rise of extreme-right politics, by the right-wing socialists of the Trotskyist ‘Fourth International’, January 21, 2019
[International Viewpoint, the online journal of the Trotskyist ‘Fourth International’, published a commentary on January 10 about the global rise of the far right. Writer and author Michael Löwy’s brief overview reveals how far astray from Marxism the political current still calling itself Trotskyist has gone. Here is the introduction to Löwy’s commentary:
In recent years, the reactionary, authoritarian and/or fascist extreme right wing has been in the ascendant all over the world: it already governs half of the world’s countries. Among the best-known examples are: Trump (United States), Modi (India), Orbán (Hungary), Erdogan (Turkey), Daesh (Islamic State), Salvini (Italy), Duterte (Philippines), and now Bolsonaro (Brazil). But in several other countries we have governments close to this trend, even if they do not have such an explicit definition: Russia (Putin), Israel (Netanyahu), Japan (Shinzo Abe), Austria, Poland, Burma, Colombia and so on. [end citation]
[Löwy’s list of countries governed by the right or extreme right has two glaring omissions: Egypt and Ukraine. In Egypt, the largest country by population in the Middle East, a military/fascist coup in July 2013 overthrew the elected President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood party and the national legislature led by the same party. In Ukraine, a right-wing coup in February 2014 spearheaded by neo-Nazi paramilitaries and backed by the NATO powers overthrew the elected President Victor Yanukovych and Ukraine’s elected legislature (Rada).
[The reasons for Löwy’s oversights are easy to spot. They result from a mix of ultraleft impulses and anti-Muslim and anti-Russia prejudices. More broadly, these have led much of the Western left astray during the past several decades. Concerning Egypt, Löwy’s ‘Fourth International’ hailed the 2013 military coup as presaging a ‘popular revolution’ that would soon overthrow the military/fascist regime. Regarding Ukraine, the anti-Russia ignorance and prejudice of Löwy and his colleagues turned the tables on reality. They declared that Ukraine was under siege and Crimea had been ‘annexed’ by an aggressive and interventionist Russia. In their scenario, NATO’s political intervention in support of the 2014 coup followed by punishing economic sanctions against Russia and Crimea merits little attention and no condemnation.
[The Ukraine-Russia distortions of the Trotskyists follows decades of failure to seriously analyze the evolving social, economic and political realities of the republics of the former Soviet Union, to the point of arriving at the absurd claim that today’s capitalist Russia constitutes a newly emerged ‘imperialist’ country. In true ‘third camp’ style (referring to those who refused to defend the Soviet Union following its invasion by Nazi Germany in June 1941, Löwy and his Fourth International are utterly indifferent to the new cold war being waged by the NATO imperialist countries against Russia and increasingly against China.
[Ironically, an essay by Löwy published by Verso Book’s website blog, ‘Ten theses on the far right‘ (Verso’s weblink is spotty–has the essay been withdrawn?) begins with this assertion: “The left as a whole, with only a few exceptions, has severely underestimated this danger ‘[the spectacular rise of the far right.].” As if to prove his point, Löwy’s Fourth International is supporting the right-wing drive to overthrow the Nicaraguan government, it has long supported the imperialist drive to violently overthrow the Syrian government, and has given voice to the justifications being used by the imperialist nexus of the U.S., Canada and Europe for the violent overthrow of the Venezuelan government. (A commentary published in Internati0nal Viewpoint in August 2017, for example, laments that “A call to arms [to overthrow the Venezuelan government] simply invites the [Venezuelan] military to intervene.” Since then, the publication appears to have published nothing about the country, despite the pronounced buildup of threats by the imperialist countries.)].
The U.S. has Venezuela in its crosshairs, by Vijay Prashad, fellow of the Independent Media Institute, published in Truthdig, Jan 17, 2019 (also published in Common Dreams and Salon.com)
Russia warns U.S. against arms race on Earth and in space after missile defense plans revealed, RT, Jan 18, 2019
U.S. rejection of any limitations on missile defense programs and readiness to weaponize space has drawn a blunt reaction from Moscow, with the Russian Foreign Ministry warning Washington not to restart the Cold War-era arms race.
Describing the US Missile Defense Review (MDR) published Thursday as “openly confrontational,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said the document shows Washington’s intent to establish military dominance and ability to conduct military operations anywhere on the planet with impunity, while rejecting any limitations on missile defense efforts. “We would like to note that the very same logic served as the foundation of the widespread nuclear missile race that brought the world to the brink of disaster multiple times,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday, adding that the US leadership has “apparently decided to step on the same rake, with predictable consequences.” Of particular alarm is the notion of deploying not just sensors but also weaponry in orbit, the Foreign Ministry said. The MDR “practically gives the green light to deploying elements with strike capability in space.” …
* Trump regime confirms it will commence U.S. withdrawal from the INF anti-nuclear weapons treaty on February 2, report in RT, Jan 16, 2019 and reports by Reuters, Jan 16, 2019 and by Associated Press, Jan 17, 2019 … U.S. missile defense officials declined on January 17 to provide any budget estimates or timelines for the programs.
* Weaponizing space and dreams of new tech: Trump regime’s new ‘missile defense review’ in a nutshell, analysis published in RT, Jan 17, 2019
* The Outer Space Treaty, Wikipedia. [Formally titled ‘The Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies’, the Outer Space Treaty came into force in 1967 and forms the basis of international space law. It prohibits the placement of weapons of mass destruction in space.]
Annual press conference by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov discussing the past year 2018, transcript in English, published on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Jan 16, 2019
… There is another example of the absurdity of what is happening [in the United States]. Prosecutor Robert Mueller has been working for almost two years now. He interviewed dozens, if not hundreds, of people but found no leaks that would confirm alleged collusion between US President Donald Trump and the Russian Federation. No facts and no leaks were presented, which is very strange for the American political system. Leaks usually happen instantly there.
…Japan is the only country in the world that cannot fully recognise the outcome of World War II.
…We have heard statements that allow for a military intervention in Venezuela, and statements that the United States will recognise or may begin to recognise President of the National Assembly Juan Guaido as the legitimate President of Venezuela rather than Nicolas Maduro. All this is very disturbing and indicates that the United States continues to break down unfavourable governments as its priority strategy in Latin America and other regions.
…On the whole, the Syrian settlement process is making headway, although slower than desired and with problems that were hard to predict before. Nonetheless, progress is obvious… We are convinced that the most rational and the only correct solution to this issue [the future of northern Syria] would be to put these territories under the control of the Syrian Government, Syrian armed forces and Syrian administrative structures, with the understanding that the Kurds should be provided with all the necessary conditions in the places of their traditional residence. We welcome and support the contacts that have been established between Kurdish representatives and the Syrian authorities with a view to coming to terms on ways to restore life in a unified state without outside interference.
… The rights of national minorities, such as the Kurdish people living in Iraq and Syria, must, of course, be ensured with the help of dialogue between these minorities, their representatives, and central governments. We firmly advocate preserving and respecting the territorial integrity of every state in this region. In recent years, these countries have been subject and remain subject to severe trials relating the aggression organised against Iraq, then Libya, and now, Syria. It is vital for us to avoid the redrawing of borders here. I believe that the Kurdish people in both Syria and Iraq understand the necessity of reaching mutually acceptable agreements with the central government, which would take into account their interests without undermining the territorial integrity of the respective states.
Pro-Israel groups are trying to split the January 19 Women’s March in Washington DC with a Zionist alternative, by Amith Gupta, Mondoweiss, Jan 15, 2019
What evidence? BuzzFeed fuels ‘Russiagate’ with report on Trump and Cohen, RT, Jan 18, 2019
Related: Robert Mueller investigation denies claims in Buzzfeed report that it believes Trump directed his lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress, news agency reports, on ABC News, Jan 19, 2019
Australian socialists want a ‘no fly zone’ over northern Syria directed against NATO member Turkey. [In its first edition of 2019, the Australian Green Left Weekly has published a call by one of its writers for a ‘no fly zone’ to be imposed against Turkey by the ‘United Nations’ along the Turkey-Syria border. This, it is said, would protect the Kurdish people of northern Syria from Turkish threats of military intervention against them. People of Kurdish descent number some two million out of Syria’s 18 million-plus population. The ‘no fly’ call reveals an astonishing naivieté, considering that only the UN Security Council can approve military action by the world body and three of its five, permanent, veto-holding members–the U.S., Britain and France–happen to be fellow NATO allies of Turkey. Even worse, the last time a ‘no fly’ zone was approved by the Security Council was over Libya beginning in March 2011. The military action was waged by the NATO powers and predictably resulted in the destruction of Libyan sovereignty. There is a political path to blocking a Turkish military intervention into northern Syria. It lies through the ongoing political and constitutional talks amongst the Syrian people and their government, one of whose potential and hoped-for outcomes is a devolution of political powers (autonomy) to the Kurdish population. This would be a strong measure to thwart partition plans for Syria by the U.S., Turkey and the rest of NATO. But the anti-Russia prejudices of the writers and editors of Green Left Weekly has them belittling or dismissing this political process and outcome, even as Syrian Kurdish leaders themselves voice cautious optimism in favour.].
* Kurds look to preserve autonomy, armed forces in talks with Damascus, report by Rudaw news agency (Iraqi Kurdistan), Jan 19, 2019
* UN has no plans for deployment to north Syria safe zone, report by Rudaw news agency (Iraqi Kurdistan), Jan 18, 2019 The head of the United Nations has dismissed the idea that the UN might participate in securing a proposed safe zone in northern Syria. “We have not any plan for any deployment in Syria at the present moment,” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on January 18. Washington and Ankara have suggested establishing a safe zone along the Turkey-Syria border to assuage Turkey’s security concerns. The proposal, while scant in detail, would be to create a 32-kilometre deep zone running the length of the border. The area in question is home to major Kurdish urban centres, is administered by Kurdish parties, and secured by the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey alleges is linked with the PKK. U.S. President Donald Trump and his team have been vague on what they envision for the safe zone [sic] …
Ukraine rewrites history by celebrating World War Two-era Nazi collaborator, commentary by Scott Taylor, published in his ‘On Target’ column in Esprit de Corps magazine and website, Jan 14, 2019 (and see the reader comments)
For the approximately 200 Canadian military trainers currently deployed to Ukraine, it is likely that on the first of January they would have witnessed a torch-lit procession. Throughout Kiev and numerous other towns in Western Ukraine, thousands of civilians took to the streets – not to usher in the New Year but to celebrate the 110th anniversary of the birth of a man named Stepan Bandera.
This was not the first time Ukrainian nationalists marched with torches to celebrate Bandera’s birthday, but it was the first time such a spectacle was an officially sanctioned affair. On December 28, 2018, Ukrainian Parliament passed Resolution 9234, which, among several other notable dates, made January 1 a formal holiday in Ukraine. The city of Lviv, which was Bandera’s birthplace, went one step further by declaring 2019 to be the ‘Year of Stepan Bandera’.
Ukrainian Independent News Agency (UNIAN) described Bandera as “a Ukrainian politician, one of the ideologists and theorists of the Ukrainian nationalists movement in the 20th Century”. Missing from this abbreviated resume is the fact that during World War II, Bandera was not only a Nazi collaborator, but also a direct participant in Hitler’s Holocaust…
Canada’s online journal The Bullet breaks its silence on Ukraine. Not really. [The online Canadian journal The Bullet has maintained a studied silence for the past five years on the new cold war being waged against Russia and increasingly against China by the U.S. government and its partners in crime in the NATO military alliance. An article published in The Bullet on January 18, 2019 appears to break the silence. The article is titled ‘Why does no one care that neo-Nazis are gaining power in Ukraine?’. In fact, the article merely voices the unease felt by some international publications with ascendance of the extreme right in Ukraine, all the while ignoring the ominous storm clouds surrounding the rising militarism of the imperialist powers (the real imperialist powers, not the make-believe ‘Russian’ or ‘Chinese’ imperialism). The article in The Bullet was first published three weeks ago in Forward, which is published in the U.S. and describes itself as ‘Jewish, fearless, since 1897’. The Forward writer makes no mention of the NATO military presence in Ukraine nor its military support to the Ukrainian military and the extreme-right paramilitaries which are part of the command structure of the Ukrainian armed forces. He repeats all the familiar tropes which ignore the NATO-supported, right-wing coup which took place in Ukraine in February 2014. The writer offers a rehashed, pro-Western conspiratorial view of what has taken place in Ukraine: “And no, I haven’t forgotten that Ukraine is still mired in a Russian-orchestrated war on part of its territory, and that Moscow likes to use Ukrainian nationalists in its propaganda – part of its longstanding practice of painting all Ukrainians, nationalists or not, as “Nazis” (not true), or as supporters of Nazi-era collaborationist movements that were active in some parts of Ukraine (also not true). I also don’t doubt that the Kremlin itself funds or supports some of the far-right agitation here [in Ukraine] so that it can use them for its own purposes…”
Learning from Cuba’s ‘medicare for all’, commentary by anti-Cuba columnist Nicholas Kristoff, New York Times, Jan 18, 2018 …In many ways, the Cuban and United States health care systems are mirror opposites. Cuban health care is dilapidated, low-tech and free. It is very good at ensuring that no one slips through the cracks. American medicine is high-tech and expensive, achieving some extraordinary results while stumbling at the basics: A lower percentage of children are vaccinated in the United States compared to Cuba while infant the mortality rate is 50 per cent higher in the U.S.
Another bogus Russiagate story by the New York Times revealed: Interview with journalist Aaron Maté, by Jimmy Dore, broadcast on the ‘Jimmy Dore Show’ on YouTube, Jan 17, 2019 (22 minute interview)
* The latest claim by investigator Robert Mueller that Paul Manafort shared 2016 election data with Russian officials is not a smoking gun, by Aaron Maté, The Nation, Jan 11, 2019 Proponents of the Trump-Russia collusion theory wildly overstate their case, again
* New York Times buries correction to its glaring mistake on Paul Manafort’s supposed ties to Russia, Sputnik News, Jan 11, 2019
* Where is the Trump-Russia collusion?: Interview with journalist Aaron Maté, interview by Jimmy Dore, broadcast on the Jimmy Dore show on YouTube, Jan 18, 2018 (38-minute interview, begins at the 10’30” mark, preceded by a review by Jimmy Dore of Aaron Mate’s interview on Dec 23, 2017 with Luke Harding, Guardian journalist and author of the 2017 book Collusion.)
Theresa May: An extinct prime minister and her dead-man-walking government, by George Galloway, columnist, RT, Jan 16, 2019
In India, epic worker mobilisations challenge the Modi government as never before, by Susan Ram, published by Counterfire (UK), Jan 14, 2019
California court rules that U.S. government cannot force citizens to unlock digital devices with fingerprint or facial image, by Thomas Brewster, Forbes Magazine, Jan 14, 2019
A California judge has ruled that American cops can’t force people to unlock a mobile phone with their face or finger. The ruling goes further to protect people’s private lives from government searches than any before and is being hailed as a potentially landmark decision.
Previously, U.S. judges had ruled that police were allowed to force unlock devices like Apple’s iPhone with biometrics, such as fingerprints, faces or irises. That was despite the fact feds weren’t permitted to force a suspect to divulge a passcode. But according to a ruling uncovered by Forbes, all logins are equal…
Russia truthers in mainstream media losing their minds as their Russia conspiracies fall flat. The New York Times published what has been called a ‘blockbuster article’ on January 11, 2019 explaining that the FBI launched an investigation in 2017 into Donald Trump. Three days earlier, the newspaper published an article claiming that in 2016, [then-Trump advisor] Paul Manafort “shared political polling data with a business associate tied to Russian intelligence”. The Times article called this “perhaps most damning of all” evidence of collusion between the Trump election campaign and “Russian operatives”. But the newspaper had to quickly ‘correct’ a central claim in the January 8 article when it turns out that the ‘Russian operatives’ with whom Manafort talked were Ukrainians with no ties to the Russia government. Journalist Aaron Maté in The Nation has shown in his latest article, once again, that the latest Russiagate claims are like the previous ones—full of air (weblink is also in the Jan 11, 2019 headline story below). Here is a selection of the latest efforts to promote various Russiagate conspiracies:
* A New York Times editorial on January 14, 2019 is subtitled, ‘Americans deserve to know what the president and Vladimir Putin are talking about’. It wants all the details of the July 2018 ‘summit’ meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin to be aired, arguing “The Russian government interfered in the 2016 election in order to get Mr. Trump elected, of course. America’s intelligence community [sic] agrees on that…”
* A January 15 article in the Times resuscitates a parallel conspiracy story with an article titled ‘Trump discussed pulling U.S. from NATO, aides say amid new concerns over Russia’. It writes, “Senior administration officials told The New York Times that several times over the course of 2018, Mr. Trump privately said he wanted to withdraw from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization…”
* An op-ed in the Globe and Mail published on January 15 is titled ‘The possibility of Trump as Russian agent’ and says “We have all been witnesses. The possibility that the President of the United States is working for Russia is now real…”
* Journalist Glenn Greenwald still cannot decide if there is anything to all the conspiracy-making. His article in The Intercept on January 14 argues two opposing lines of thought. To his credit, Greenwald warns of the dangers of accepting anything which the FBI and other police agencies do and say. “Such a state of affairs [the ongoing powers and actions of U.S. police-state institutions such as the FBI] is at least as dangerous for U.S. democracy as anything Trump is doing [sic] with Russia.” He then goes on to write, “Obviously, if there is reason to suspect that actual crimes have been committed – such as, say, Trump officials collaborating with Russia to hack into email inboxes or otherwise engaging in illegal deals with foreign powers – then it’s not just permissible but vital that the FBI investigate such allegations.”
The latest claim by investigator Robert Mueller that Paul Manafort shared 2016 election data with Russian officials is not a smoking gun, by Aaron Maté, The Nation, Jan 11, 2019 Proponents of the Trump-Russia collusion theory wildly overstate their case, again
Related: New York Times buries correction to its glaring mistake on Paul Manafort’s supposed ties to Russia, Sputnik News, Jan 11, 2019
Kurds in Turkey unite to take aim at Ankara in elections, by Fehim Tastekin, Al-Monitor, Jan 15, 2019 Saying they have taken enough abuse, Kurds in Turkey have formed an alliance to strengthen their standing in upcoming elections.
Related: Syrian jihadist group’s takeover of Idlib undermines Turkish plans, by Khaled al-Khateb, Al-Monitor, Jan15, 2019 [This is a Keystone Cops-style description of the bitter battles that have taken place recently between groups in Syria’s Idlib province that are striving to overthrow the government of Syria while at the same time vying for the patronage of NATO-member Turkey.].
The ‘private governments’ that subjugate U.S. workers, weekly column by Chris Hedges, in Truthdig, Jan 14, 2019
Turkish police obstruct delegation of European politicians visiting Diyarbakir (Amed, in Kurdish), Turkey, ANF News, Jan 13, 2019
* Jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan granted prison visit from his brother in response to hunger strike by imprisoned Turkish MP Leyla Guven, report in Middle East Eye, Jan 13, 2019 … The Peoples Democratic Party (HDP) said their party’s MP Leyla Guven is suffering a “life-threatening” medical condition as her hunger strike entered its 66th day. It is unclear whether Guven, 55, would end her strike after the prison visit by Ocalan’s brother. Guven’s action was supported by more than 150 prisoners across Turkey in a show of solidarity. She was arrested in January 2018 for her opposition to Turkey’s military intervention into Afrin, Syria…
* Martina Anderson, Member of European Parliament from Ireland, meets family of Kurdish MP Leyla Guven, report on the website of Sinn Fein, Jan 12, 2019 [Martina Anderson is part of a delegation of members of the European Parliament visiting the city of Diyarbakir in eastern Turkey.].
* Speech by MP Bedia Özgökçe, Peoples Democratic Party of Turkey, to the congress of the Party of European Socialists, held in Lisbon on Dec 7-8, 2018. Report and speech published on the English language page of the website of the People’s Democratic Party, read it here in pdf format (two pages): Speech by Turkey MP Bedia Özgökçe in Lisbon, Dec 8, 2018 ‘Rising authoritarianism, racist nationalism and right-wing populism are not issues in Turkey alone. They are global problems.’
U.S. starts withdrawing supplies but not troops from Syria, by Robert Burns, Associated Press, Jan 12, 2019 [This Associated Press report is a mix of fact and fiction, capturing the planned, appearance of chaos which the Trump regime is sowing over its ongoing, illegal military presence in Syria.]
… The U.S. military has a limited network of bases inside Syria. Troops work mostly out of small camps in remote parts of the country’s northeast. Also, U.S. troops are among 200 to 300 coalition troops at a garrison in southern Syria known as al-Tanf, where they train and accompany local Syrian opposition forces.
… The withdrawal plan, whose details are classified, includes bringing hundreds of additional troops into Syria temporarily to facilitate the pullout…
* Israeli warplanes conduct missile attacks against Damascus, Reuters, Jan 12, 2019
* ‘We struck thousands of targets’ says IDF chief of staff about Israel’s ‘near-daily’ strikes for years against Syria, RT, Jan 13, 2019
* Russia says U.S. Syria pullout spurs need for Kurds and Damascus to talk, Reuters, Jan 11, 2019
The number of illegal crossings into the U.S. along the Mexico border went into sharp decline during the Obama presidency and have stayed there. These and other facts are reported in the New York Times, Jan 11, 2019
Left-wing agitation that downplays the threat of imperialist regime change directed against the government and people of Iran. January 11, 2019. [The online publication The Bullet based in Canada published on january 11 a statement by Iranian exiles calling for ‘solidarity’ with striking Iranian workers. But the statement says nothing about the ongoing military threats against Iran by the imperialist countries. ‘International solidarity’ with Iranian workers that does not campaign for an end to military threats and sanctions by the imperialist countries against Iran is dangerously misleading. The statement does contain a paragraph saying that economic sanctions against Iran should be opposed, but this is not at all integrated into the statement overall; the paragraph appears almost as an afterthought. The website of the statement authors (‘International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran‘) reports nothing about imperialism’s threats and sanctions against Iran. Considering that the Canadian government is a leading country in the military threats and economic sanctions against Iran, editors of The Bullet are doubly compromised by the publication of such a statement.]
Related: U.S. organizing international conference in Poland next month to further its regime-change drive against Iran, report by Reuters, Jan 11, 2019
Thousands of job cuts by Ford in Europe as overproduction and electric vehicle challenge bite global auto industry, report by Bloomberg News, Jan 10, 2019 [Ford employs some 54,000 workers across Europe, mainly in Germany, Britain and Spain. Its job cuts are another sign of pressure on traditional automakers as they grapple with fundamental technology changes, tougher environmental regulations and trade tensions. Tata Motors Ltd.’s Jaguar Land Rover, formerly part of Ford, plans to cut 4,500 jobs in Britain response to a sales slowdown. China has helped fuel the auto industry’s growth in recent years, but statistics issued on on January 9 show auto sales in China fell in 2018 for the first time in more than two decades. Steven Armstrong, Ford’s head of Europe, told a media conference call that the future of the company’s European operations lies in selling crossover vehicles and SUVs as sales of sedans and compact vans decline.]
The five-point ‘non-plan’ for Syria withdrawal delivered by John Bolton to Turkey, by RagipSoylu, Middle East Eye (conservative online journal), Jan 10, 2019 U.S officials failed to offer any specific details of an exit plan during John Bolton’s visit to Ankara on January 8, instead presenting a ‘non-paper’ for discussion
Related: Why Erdogan’s favorite general lost his job, by Metin Gurcan, Al-Monitor, Jan 7, 2019
Interview with Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro, by Spanish journalist Ignacio Ramonet, interview translated and published in three parts by Venezuela Analysis, from the Spanish original published on Jan 1, 2019
Related: Nicolás Maduro sworn in for second presidential term, defying U.S. threats and intervention, report by TeleSur, Jan 10, 2019
New documents reveal the covert British military-intelligence smear machine called ‘Integrity Initiative’ is meddling in U.S. politics, special report by Max Blumenthal and Mark Ames, published by The Grayzone Project, Jan 8, 2019
Related: In interview on RT, Labour Party MP Chris Williamson says Britain’s mainstream media is not covering the Integrity Initiative scandal because ‘it might be involved’, RT, Jan 9, 2019
Turkish court hands jail term to Deutsche Welle reporter Pelin Unker, Deutsche Welle, Jan 9, 2019
On January 10, a court in Istanbul sentenced journalist Pelin Unker to 13 months and 15 days in prison. The sentence, along with a fine of 8,600 Turkish lira (€1,370, $1,570), was imposed for “insulting and slandering a public official.”
Unker’s original report appeared in Turkey’s secular, left-leaning Cumhuriyet newspaper, for which she no longer works. The allegations were linked to the ‘Panama Papers’ series of revelations about offshore entities used by politicians, celebrities and companies. Former Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and his two sons sued Unker in November 2017 over a report about the sons’ alleged ties to five offshore companies in Malta.
Unker is a member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. She was not immediately jailed and is still able to appeal. The journalist told DW that she would appeal but that she nevertheless expected to serve time in prison…
The Real News Network succumbs to ‘Trump wants U.S. out of Syria’ belief, interview by TRRN host Ben Norton with journalist Patrick Cockburn, broadcast on The Real News Network, Jan 7, 2019 (audio and transcript at weblink)
Transcript: It’s The Real News Network, and I’m Ben Norton. The Donald Trump administration appears to once again be backtracking on one of its major promises. Now it appears that the United States may not soon be withdrawing its troops from Syria. There are currently around 2,000 U.S. troops that are occupying Syrian territory in violation of international law. And in December [December 19], President Trump surprisingly announced [on Twitter] that he would be withdrawing those troops and bringing them home within 30 days. This ignited a political firestorm with pro-war critics from both the Republican and the Democratic Parties condemning Trump for this decision, and even portraying it as part of a Russian government-backed conspiracy. But Trump’s neoconservative national security adviser John Bolton is now suggesting a major backtrack on this promise…
Bernie Sanders responds to Trump’s national televised address stoking fear and racism, by Jake Johnson, Common Dreams, Jan 8, 2019
North Korea’s Kim Jong Un arrives in Beijing for talks, by Christopher Bodeen, Associated Press, Jan 7, 2019
A political settlement with Syrian government is ‘inevitable’ says leader of Syrian Kurd forces, report by Agence France presse, Jan 6, 2019
Related: Syrian Kurds seek political agreement with Damascus regardless of U.S. intentions, by Rodi Said, Reuters, Jan 4, 2019
U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton says ‘withdrawal’ from northern Syria is awaiting the right conditions, by Associated Press, Jan 6, 2018
[John Bolton has told reporters while visiting Jerusalem that there are “conditions” the U.S. military wants fulfilled before departing northeast Syria. In the meantime, he wants the Kurds there to refrain from allying with the armed forces of Syria and its ally Russia. He also said U.S. troops would remain in the area of al-Tanf in southern Syria in order to counter ‘growing Iranian activity’ in the region.
[Canada’s Globe and Mail national daily has published the above Associated Press story but it created its own headline: ‘U.S. backs away from early Syria pullout’. Can you spot the corporate media sleight of hand? The revised headline reports as fact an ‘early Syria pullout’ by the U.S., referring to Donald Trump’s original tweet (!) on December 19. The Associated Press itself writes in its article: ‘Trump’s decision [a tweet!] last month drew widespread criticism from allies…’ But there was no Trump “decision” on December 19; there was, instead, a typical Trumpian media outburst intended to sow chaos and confusion. Sadly, it has worked like a charm.]
Related: Two British soldiers wounded, YPG fighter killed in ISIS missile attack in Deir Ez-Zor region in eastern Syria, report by Rudaw news agency, Jan 5, 2019 … British special forces are on the ground in northern Syria. Britain’s Ministry of Defense has not disclosed details…
U.S. has ramped up bombing of villages in southern Syria, following Trump’s Dec 19 Twitter announcement of a ‘withdrawal from Syria’, report by Trevor Aronson and Ali Younes, published in The Intercept (in partnership with Al Jazeera), Jan 3, 2019 [The Trump regime has played corporate and alternative media alike with his ‘Syria withdrawal’ Twitter announcement. All of them have reported the Trump tweet (!) as fact. This recalls the 1968 U.S. presidential election in which Richard Nixon pledged to bring about an end to the war in Vietnam. No serious analyst, certainly none sympathetic to the antiwar movement of the day, took Nixon’s words seriously. How times have changed. Today, naiveté apparently reigns.]
* Turkish army brass at odds over threatened military operation against Kurds in eastern Syria, by Fehim Tastekin, Al-Monitor, Jan 4, 2019 … Russia is trying to the persuade Ankara to give up its operational plans and promises a different type of buffer [along the Turkey-Syria border]: deploying the Syrian army to Manbij and east of the Euphrates River…
* Turkish battle plan for Syria shaky despite Trump’s promised pullout, by Semih Idiz, Al-Monitor, Jan 4, 2019 …Following Trump’s decision [Twitter announcement of sham U.S. withdrawal from Syria], Turkey announced that it would postpone its planned operation for the time being to allow a coordinated and orderly departure of U.S. forces from Syria. Questions remain, however, as to when and how this departure will actually take place…
President of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, Ms. Sebnem Korur Fincanci, sentenced to 30-month prison term for signing ‘Academics For Peace’ petition in 2016, statement by Worldwide Movement for Human Rights (FIDH, based in Paris), Jan 4, 2019 also: Turkish court sentences Dr. Sebnem Korur Fincanci to prison on false charges, press release by Physicians for Human Rights, Dec 19, 2018
… On January 10, 2016, 1,128 academics published a declaration entitled “We will not be party to this crime”, calling for peace within Turkey and denouncing human rights violations in the country, on behalf of the Academics for Peace initiative. The number of signatories later reached the total of 2,212. The declaration was followed by public comments from the authorities calling for the criminalisation of signatories and lawsuits were then filed against some of the academics on charge of “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” as per Article No. 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law No. 3713. As of December 27, 2018, 444 academics had stood trial. Sixty nine of them were given sentences ranging between 15 to 30 months. All but eight of the sentences are suspended…
* Trials of Turkish academics who signed antiwar petition lead to jail time and deferred sentences, report by Committee of Concerned Scientists, Dec 20, 2018 The first group of indicted Turkish academics have been brought before the courts recently. 700 (of 1,128) have been questioned by police; 542 have been indicted and are in some phase of the trial process. Fifty nine have been sentenced to 15 months, three have been sentenced to 18 months, one to 27 months and one to 30 months. All had their sentences deferred except for those refusing to agree to the postponement of the announcement of the verdict and those whose sentences exceeded two years. To date, eight did not receive deferred sentences and will begin the appeals process. The eight who are facing jail time are…
* World Medical Association expresses shock at prison sentences against physicians, statement by the World Medical Association, Dec 20, 2018 The World Medical Association has expressed shock at prison sentences handed down to several leading Turkish physicians…
* Turkey upholds sentencing of Selahattin Demirtas, leader of the People Democratic Party, third largest party in Turkish Parliament, report by Al Jazeera, Dec 4, 2018 A Turkish appeals court has upheld the “terror propaganda” conviction of former co-leader and presidential candidate of Selahattin Demirtas. Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said on Tuesday the appeals court in Istanbul had unanimously voted to finalise a September verdict against him. The former Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chairperson was sentenced to four years and eight months in prison last September for a speech in 2013 which the court deemed to be in support of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)…
* Doctor arrested for allegedly insulting President Erdogan on social media, Turkish Minute, Nov 28, 2018 … According to the Turkish Penal Code, insulting the president carries a sentence of between one and four years. In 2016, 3,658 people were charged with insulting the president.
* Turkish doctors face far-reaching new police and intelligence checks, by Ayse Karabat, Middle East Eye, Nov 15, 2018
Stringent new security and background checks for newly qualified doctors in Turkey, including an assessment of their moral character and their political views, could prevent thousands of medical school graduates from working in public hospitals. A new law passed by Turkey’s parliament on November 14 means that doctors will be subjected to the wide-ranging checks, based in part on police and intelligence records, before they are permitted to undertake a compulsory period of “national service” in the public healthcare system in order to gain their medical diplomas.
The law also bans doctors who lost their jobs in the aftermath of a failed coup in 2016 from returning to work in public hospitals. An estimated 3,315 doctors were among about 125,000 people who were dismissed from public institutions, the armed forces and the police, and accused of being linked to organisations threatening national security…
* Turkey’s Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) calls for release of imprisoned Turkish medical professionals, statement by Physicians for Human Rights (Turkey), Jan 30, 2018
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) strongly condemned the arrest on Tuesday of the leaders of the Turkish Medical Association (TMA) and called for their immediate release. The unprecedented move by Turkish authorities to silence and intimidate the TMA followed days of threats and protests over the group’s statement criticizing war as a public health threat.
“It’s hard to believe that it’s come to this. The Turkish government’s dismantling of civil society now extends to locking up doctors who advocate for basic public health principles,” said Homer Venters, MD, director of programs at PHR. “Medical professionals must have the freedom to call out threats to public health without fear of retribution.”
The arrests came after the TMA issued a statement on January 24 decrying war as a threat to public health. Subsequently, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made a speech calling the TMA “terrorist lovers” and disparaging its anti-war stance.
People and their money are leaving Turkey in record numbers, by Carlotta Gill, New York Times, Jan 3, 2019 … More than a quarter of a million Turks emigrated in 2017, according to the Turkish Institute of Statistics, an increase of 42 per cent over 2016, when nearly 178,000 citizens left the country…
Bolsonaro unveils mass privatization plan for Brazil while slashing taxes for the rich and wages for the poor, by Julia Conley, Common Dreams, Jan 4, 2019
* Brazil’s road to neo-fascism, by Pedro Rocha de Oliveira, published in Red Pepper, Jan 1, 2018
* Brazil: how big a defeat?, interview with Valério Arcary (member of PSOL party in Brazil), published by International Socialism (quarterly review, published by UK SWP), issue #161, Dec 2018 (online on Dec 13, 2018) You can read it here in pdf format: Brazil, interview with Valério Arcary, Dec 2018
The roots of Karl Marx’s anti-colonialism, by Thierry Drapeau, published by Jacobin Magazine, Jan 4, 2019 Through his relationship with the Chartist radical and labor poet Ernest Jones, Karl Marx came to realize the necessity of opposing slavery and colonialism in ending capitalism. Read the essay here in pdf format (seven pages): The roots of Karl Marx’s anti-colonialism, Jan 2019
Mumia Abu-Jamal Wins Major Court Victory, by Jeff Mackler, CounterPunch, Jan 3, 2019 On December 27, Philadelphia Superior Court Judge Leon Tucker ruled in favor of Mumia Abu-Jamal, holding that the actions of former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Judge Ronald Castille demonstrated a “lack of impartiality” and “the appearance of bias”. Tucker’s decision represents a major victory for Abu-Jamal that opens the door to a new trial–or dismissal of the murder charges against him–after an appeal to the Pennsylvania courts…
Thirteen Canadians have been detained in China since Huawei executive’s extradition-to-U.S. detention in Vancouver on December 1, report in Globe and Mail, Jan 3, 2019
Thirteen Canadians have been detained in China since the high-profile arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver on Dec. 1, Ottawa says. Global Affairs Canada spokesman Guillaume Bérubé said in a statement to The Globe and Mail that the government is aware that 13 Canadians have been detained in China, excluding Hong Kong, since Dec. 1, 2018. Previously, only Michael Kovrig, Michael Spavor and Sarah McIver were publicly known to have been detained in China since Canada arrested Ms. Meng, chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. They were taken into custody after China promised retaliation for Ms. Meng’s arrest.
Mr. Bérubé said in the statement that at least eight of the 13 have been released. Global Affairs Canada did not disclose the identities of the other 10 Canadians. The federal government has not linked any of the detentions with Ms. Meng’s arrest, although it has demanded the “immediate release” of Mr. Spavor and Mr. Kovrig.
China’s prosecutor-general, Zhang Jun, said at a briefing in Beijing on Thursday that Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor, who are accused of endangering national security, had “without a doubt” violated the law…
Ankara seeking Russian permission for use of Syrian airspace, by Metin Gurcan, Al-Monitor, Jan 2, 2019 [This analysis offers informative insight into the dilemma faced by the Turkish government as it ponders the difficulties and consequences of waging a military intervention into eastern Syria striking at Kurdish self-defense forces and autonomous governing structures. But the writer repeats the trope that Russia assisted the Turkish military intervention (‘Operation Olive Branch‘) into the Syrian province of Afrin beginning in January 2018. He creates this imagined scenario: “Moscow’s permission for Ankara to use Syrian airspace enables Russia to set the pace and duration of Turkish military operations inside Syria.” The writer’s scenario is further complicated by this sentence: “Moscow’s closure of Afrin airspace to Turkish planes between March 18-24  allowed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) elements to withdraw from Afrin to Tel Rifaat without being targeted by the Turkish air force.”]
Five weeks after The Guardian’s claim of Assange-Manafort meetings in Ecuador embassy in London, still no evidence, just stonewalling, by Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept, Jan 2, 2019 All the questions surrounding The Guardian’s sensational claims in late November 2018 remain unanswered, while writer Luke Harding and his editors maintain a strict silence. The Guardian prides itself in demanding transparency and accountability from everyone else, but in this case has refused to provide any of its own.
North Korea leader Kim Jong-un confirms commitment to denuclearization and 2nd summit in New Year’s address, report in The Hankyoreh, Jan 2, 2019 and, In ‘unprecedented’ speech, Kim Jong Un says North Korea is ready for another summit with U.S., but warns against sanctions, by Joohee Cho, ABC News, Jan 2, 2019 [Western media tailors its reporting of President Kim Jong Un’s January 1, 2019 speech to echo the views of the U.S. government and its Asia-Pacific allies, notably Japan and Australia. See this analysis in ABC.net.au (in which Donald Trump is described as “the leader of the free world”) and this extensive analysis in Associated Press (in which the writer absolves the U.S. of its historic crimes against the Korean people using sentences such as this: “Some analysts say North Korea has been trying to drive a wedge between Washington and Seoul while putting the larger burden of action on the United States.”) ].
Chinese President Xi Jinping urges action on unification with Taiwan, report by Associated Press, Jan 2, 2019
Related: China’s Xi Jinping clashes with Taiwan’s Tsai over unity call, by Nikki Sun and Lauly Li, Nikkei Asia Review, Jan 2, 2019
China appears to have beaten U.S. in development of hypersonic ‘railgun’ naval artillery technology, by Alan Weedon, ABC.net.au, Jan 2, 2019 …Compared to conventional artillery that uses gunpowder to fire projectiles, a railgun uses a high-powered electric circuit to shoot a projectile along magnetic rails, firing at hypersonic speeds of Mach 5 or higher (five times the speed of sound). While the U.S. has been pursuing its railgun capability since 2005, China has taken the lead…