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, 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…