Category Archives: Media

Nicaragua: The War of 2018

Nearly all US regime-change wars (Venezuela, Syria, Honduras, Ukraine, Libya, Yugoslavia, etc.) are wars of deception, fabrication, propaganda, coups and false flags. Sometimes there is a direct US military assault, more often not. These wars are waged by proxies, media puppets, hired hit-men, torturers, rapists, vandals, saboteurs, death squads and criminal gangs, through mock or pretextual social protest movements, denunciations by “human rights” organizations, and by internal and external economic assaults on the country’s people, transportation, commerce and communications. These were the methods of the 2018 war against Nicaragua, for which the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) alone, a well-known US regime-change shop, has spent 4.1 million USD on Nicaraguan NGOs since 2014.

There is little mystery why the US would take pains to overthrow the government of little Nicaragua (population 6 million). In addition to Nicaragua’s current and historical geo-strategic importance, President Daniel Ortega’s administration greatly improved people’s lives, presenting what is often called “the threat of a good example.”

Prior to the war and during the Ortega administration, poverty and extreme poverty were halved. Basic healthcare and education were free. Illiteracy fell from one-third of the population to nearly zero. Access to electricity went from a little over half the population to 90%. Through state subsidy programs, small and medium agricultural producers had achieved near-complete food sovereignty for the country. In defiance of the dictates of the US and the global neoliberal order, Nicaragua failed to privatize essential public services, and kept friendly relations with Cuba, Venezuela, Russia, China and Iran.

Also notable, in light of the events of 2018, Nicaragua built a national police force recognized by the UN for its humane, community policing, headed until mid-2018 by Aminta Granera Sacasa, former nun, mother of three and Sandinista revolutionary, who during her tenure was among the most popular politicians in the country.

In the eyes of the US, these achievements are capital crimes.

Pretextual student protests covered the launch of the war on April 18, 2018. The protests came following announced changes to the country’s social security programs, falsely presented by the media as austerity measures. In fact, the changes avoided the austerity plan sought by the Nicaraguan business lobby (COSEP) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). COSEP called for student protests, which were led by relatively well-to-do students from the private universities but directed toward the Polytechnic University (UPOLI) campus, one of the two main public universities that serve poor and working class students.

The police killing of a student protestor was mis-reported on the first day of protests (the student later turned up alive and unharmed). The next day, three more killings at the UPOLI were wrongly attributed to the police.

The UPOLI was taken over by armed opposition forces (not UPOLI students) demanding the government resign. The daycare center, reproductive health center and women’s dormitories were vandalized. The leader of the UPOLI student union, Leonel Morales, publicly denounced the armed opposition, and was tortured and nearly killed.

Directing operations at the universities and elsewhere was Felix Madriaga, US raised and Harvard trained, and funded by the NED. Madriaga’s role was revealed by gang leader “Viper,” whose criminal organization was enlisted by the opposition.

By April 22nd the government withdrew the announced social security changes, but opposition forces continued widespread destruction and assaults, now concealed under pretextual protests against police repression.

Opposition tactics included 100s of roadblocks across the country meant to wreak havoc on the country’s transportation systems and economy. These roadblocks, called tranques, became opposition paramilitary bases, terrorizing the population with killings, beatings, torture, rape and extortion. A 10-year-old girl was kidnapped and raped at the tranque in Las Maderas, and the opposition attacked and set fire to public buildings as well as homes of Sandinista loyalists.

The Catholic Church hierarchy, ostensibly mediating between the government and the opposition, played a leading role in organizing the tranques, something Bishop Silvio Baez was caught on tape bragging about, as well as calling for President Ortega to be put before a firing squad.

Yet the government agreed to opposition demands to withdraw the police from the streets. For nearly two months the police were confined to barracks while the war continued. This controversial, pacifist move may have saved lives by avoiding police confrontations with opposition forces while they were fresh and well-supplied with money, food, hand-held mortar-launchers, guns and other weaponry. Meanwhile, organized civilian self-defense forces mitigated the violence of opposition forces, even managing to remove many tranques. Eventually the police returned to the streets, and after three months of war, relative calm had returned to Nicaragua, although opposition killings of police continued.

Over 250 people were killed and many more injured. More than 250 buildings were burned down or ransacked, with public sector property losses of over $230 million USD. GDP fell nearly 4%, a loss to the economy of nearly 1.5 billion USD, with job losses of up to 300,000.

Not conceding defeat, both houses of the US legislature unanimously approved presidential authority for sanctions barring Nicaragua from receiving aid from international financial institutions, a virtual economic embargo, illegal under the UN Charter.

From the very first day of the war, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the media spun a relentless and knowingly false “human rights” narrative of police repression by a dictatorial state, uniformly attributing to police the injuries and deaths inflicted by the opposition or from accidents. Aiding this propaganda effort were a tiny political party and grouplets of former prominent Sandinistas, who claim left status but lack popular support and have long been part of the US-backed rightist-led opposition.

Yet Nicaraguans have waged an heroic struggle against the most powerful empire in history. The peoples of the world owe them an incalculable debt of gratitude.

U.S. Media Lies Help Trump’s Venezuela Warmongering

As most of the world knows by now, the United States government intends to organize regime change in Venezuela.

Attempts to this effect have been made in the past – most notably in 2002, when its economy and standard of living was exemplary in the region – but not so brazenly as now. Today, the country wrestles with an economic crisis. At the same time, the U.S. Secretary of State openly threatens Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro with military action. The U.S. government provides material and political support to opposition forces. It also continues to tighten the sanctions that caused much of the misery to begin with.

That the Trump regime is openly meddling in an oil-rich, Latin American nation that resists U.S. corporate hegemony is unsurprising. The U.S. has “intervened thousands of times in Latin America” since 1800, according to historian Alan McPherson. Thus, the U.S.’s Venezuela policies are merely part of a long-standing pattern.

But while these facts are well-known, less-known is the role of U.S. media coverage in building the official pretext for the ongoing sabotage and possible invasion of this struggling country. A series of misleading claims about the issue are being published by purpotedly objective U.S. news sources. Those same claims are being used by the political apparatus to make the case for engaging in imperialist operations in Venezuela.

One misleading claim is that Juan Guaidó, a practically unknown Venezuelan politician until this year after he asserted himself to be the interim leader of the country, has a legitimate claim to power. For example, The New York Times called the issue of presidential legitimacy “a messy dispute”, a question for which the answers “are not at all straightforward”.

In fact, the answer to whether Guaidó is the legitimate leader of Venezuela is as straightforward as the answer to whether Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is the legitimate leader of the United States. There’s absolutely no constitutional or legal basis for the deposing of Maduro and installment of Guaidó. Noah Feldman, a leading constitutional law expert from Harvard, called the legal case for Guaidó’s legitimacy “weak” and “implausible”. He concluded that “the constitutional argument that Maduro isn’t really president is nothing more than a fig leaf for regime change”.

The argument could be made that the Venezuelan public now prefers Guaidó to Maduro. Granted, it’s true that polling – if it’s to be believed in such a chaotic situation – indicates Guaidó recently has more popular support. But polling also consistently indicates Sanders has more popular support than President Trump. Thus, there’s a simple test for determining whether the polling legitimizes the West’s “recognition” of Guaidó as leader: ask the press if Venezuela has the right to recognize Sanders as President and threaten violence to make it official. Note that one needn’t bother actually administering this test to know what the press’s response would be: namely, uproarious laughter. After all, obliviousness to hypocrisy has never disqualified journalists from covering foreign policy in the U.S.

Another claim, related to the one above, is that Maduro didn’t win a fair, democratic election. In a May 1st article, The Washington Post uncritically reported that the 2018 election “result was decried internationally as fraudulent”. In a more blatant misrepresentation, the Post also claimed that Maduro’s second term was the result of an “election riddled with fraud”.

This pervasive claim isn’t supported by the evidence. Of course, the government and the opposition have gone back and forth on the question of the election’s legitimacy. To be sure, each side has made questionable claims about the voting process. But it’s the opposition which made it impossible to get an objective verification of election results. The Maduro administration fought for transparency.

It was a section of the opposition which boycotted the 2018 election entirely, presumably to make the election appear less convincing and save face in case of a loss. The opposition also opposed allowing the United Nations, the foremost authority in electoral monitoring, to monitor the election. The Maduro administration, on the other hand, invited the U.N. to observe. In the end, the U.N. sided with the opposition and refused to send an electoral team for reasons which can only be speculated. But the question remains: why didn’t the opposition want a nonpartisan body of investigators to prove their assertion that the election was fraudulent — unless they had reason to believe it wasn’t actually fraudulent?

Another deception is that Maduro’s government is refusing foreign aid into the country. An article by the Miami Herald reported that “the socialist administration” of Venezuela is “refusing offers of food and medicine from its neighbors and aid agencies”. That article was published in February 2019. This was the same month USAID trucks supposedly attempting to deliver aid at the Colombian border were set on fire, an incident which the U.S. media loudly blamed on Maduro’s military but, later, admitted anti-Maduro opposition forces were responsible.

The USAID incident’s phoniness has almost become general knowledge. But the meme pushed by the Herald and others – that Maduro’s government refuses aid – continues to spread despite its outright falsity. In reality, Maduro’s government repeatedly accepted aid both before and after the February hoax, through agencies including the Red Cross, the United Nations and the European Union.

Notwithstanding, it’s certainly true Venezuela has steadfastly rejected aid from the U.S. government’s USAID program. But this is perfectly understandable to anyone with an inkling about the history of U.S. “humanitarian aid” in Latin America. For example, the Reagan administration delivered weapons to anti-government terrorists in Nicaragua circa the 1980s under the guise of “humanitarian aid”. Thus, it’s perhaps unsurprising that both the U.N. and Red Cross refused to join in the USAID effort in Venezuela, deeming it politically motivated.

Furthermore, it’s not unfair to investigate whether the U.S. has shown any kind of consistency on the issue of aid. Alas, a scant examination of the recent record reveals that it has not. In 2005, as over 1,000 U.S citizens died and thousands more suffered in the midst of one of its worst humanitarian catastrophes ever, the U.S. rebuffed a generous offer of water, food, fuel and other provisions, even as hungry people sat in homes and hospitals without power, because the aid was from an enemy state.

That humanitarian catastrophe was the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The name of the enemy state? Venezuela. If the U.S.’s rejection of Venezuelan aid didn’t entitle Venezuela to conspire to overthrow the U.S. government, then there’s no reason the U.S. is entitled to do likewise to Venezuela – unless we are to believe the United States has no moral obligations at all and is always justified by mere virtue of its military and economic might. Given the kind of commentary the U.S. foreign policy press publishes about Venezuela, one suspects that’s exactly what they believe.

Of course, there’s still another, even more obvious objection. If the U.S. is sincerely dedicated to aiding Venezuela, why hasn’t it ended its brutal sanctions and blockade? These policies ensure the economic crisis can’t be solved. As Edgardo Lander, Venezuelan sociologist and Maduro critic, argues: “it’s absolutely cynical that the U.S. government is claiming to be worried about the humanitarian situation of Venezuelans, offering a few million dollars, when billions of dollars are being kept away from the Venezuelan government’s capacity to respond to the deep crisis”.

Perhaps the most deceptive of all the media’s claims about Venezuela is that the Maduro administration’s “socialist” policies are the sole driver of the current crisis. This claim is repeated ad nauseam in various forms. In a particularly odious example, FoxNews.com ran a column in January stating “socialism turned Venezuela from the wealthiest country in South America into an economic basket case”.

In truth, the deadliest contributor to Venezuela’s crisis is U.S. policy. Former U.N. rapporteur Alfred de Zayas deemed the sanctions and blockade illegal and possible “crimes against humanity”. According to one study, they are responsible for the deaths of at least an estimated 40,000 people. This vicious, inhuman economic war could be halted overnight if the U.S. had the slightest concern for suffering Venezuelans. The refusal to do so proves the insincerity of the U.S.’s stated humanitarian motives.

Additionally, much of the political turmoil erupting across the country is the result of an opposition fostered and supported by the U.S. government. As media outlets have detailed, the opposition has received substantial funding and political support from Washington for years. The investment has begun to bear its fruit. Recently, the opposition has engaged in benevolent, democracy-spreading activities like publicly setting a Maduro supporter on fire, murdering police and trying to burn down the Venezuelan Supreme Court. Suffice to say that, contrary to the media image of a peaceful reform movement resisting unwarranted aggression by the state, the U.S. has developed and funded a right-wing rebellion rife with violence and contempt for democracy as it fights to destroy the social reforms started under the late Hugo Chavez.

And so it goes. The pattern continues right up to the very present. On April 30th, the media was flooded with reports that Guaidó was leading an imminent overthrow. CNN ran video of Guaidó standing in a “liberated” air force base, flanked by soldiers, and claimed he was rallying “thousands of supporters” to join him in finally ousting Maduro. But the video was a hoax. It was recorded from a bridge, not an airbase, and with no crowd of “thousands of supporters”. The media had helped Guaidó disseminate staged propaganda.

Worse yet, all of these falsehoods and misrepresentations of fact are utilized by the U.S. government. From deeming Guaidó the legitimate leader, to asserting Maduro refuses to accept foreign aid, to playing along with the airbase hoax, U.S. government officials use each of these media myths to build a case for plunging Venezuela further into chaos and destroying its political system.

The U.S. is playing a standard, mobster-like game. It’s a game instantly recognizable to anyone remotely familiar with what Chomsky called the U.S.’s “Godfather”-style of foreign policy. Their intent is to install a right-wing government that will submit to U.S. economic interests. U.S. It’s the same game it has played with countless nations throughout its history. And during virtually all of these ventures, the press dutifully served its true role of rallying the support of the American public. They appear determined to do it again.

How Lies Become “Facts” in U.S. “News”

On Fox News Channel’s May 2nd edition of “The Story with Martha MacCallum” was alleged, by the program host (at 2:45 in this video), that one reason we must invade Venezuela (if we will) is that “People have lost 24 pounds” there. So (her point was), if we invade, that’s not evil, it’s no coup, but instead it’s humanitarian (presumably like it was in Iraq in 2003, when we invaded that country, which likewise had never invaded nor threatened to invade the United States — it was raw international aggression, by our country, against Iraq).

Individuals who fall for a liar once, will typically fall for that liar again and again, without limit, because they are (for whatever reason) prejudiced to trust him. But is this attempt, at “regime change” in Venezuela, yet another example of that, or might it instead really be the case (this time) that (as this Fox host implies) to invade Venezuela will help the people there (gain back that lost weight, etc.), not kill many of them and destroy their nation even worse than it already was?

So, I checked online, to find what the source was, if any, for this stunning allegation by the Fox News host. After all, such a steep weight-loss for an entire nation would be shocking.

If, indeed, the allegation has a scientifically trustworthy source, then there exists, somewhere, a rigorously done, statistically sound, empirical study of thousands of Venezuelans’ body-weights, in which each one of those individuals has been weighed, not only once, but twice, separated in time by two specific years, so that there exists a credible “before” weight, and “after” weight, to compare, in each one of these many individual cases, such that the study found that the average Venezuelan lost 24 pounds during that before-after time-period. The sample-size has to be large enough, and the sampling-method has to be randomized enough, so that the result will meet the standards of statistical reliability in order to be able to represent the entirety of the Venezuelan population. Many thousands of such scientific studies are, in fact, published each and every year, and it might have been done regarding the body-weights of Venezuelans. However, otherwise (that is, if this was not done regarding Venezuelans’ body-weights), then that Fox News host was either lying, or else deceived by other people, in order for her to have made this remarkable statement. One, or else the other, is the case, here — either such a study was done, or else it wasn’t — so: which of those two options occurred, in this particular instance? Let’s see:

She might have received this ‘fact’ which she had stated, from any of many sources that are online:

Just a few days prior to that show, National Review had headlined, on 30 April 2019, “The Economics of Tyranny in Venezuela“, and reported “The real-life consequences of Chavismo’s misguided policies are telling: Venezuelans lost an average of 24 pounds in the year 2017.”

That linked to the 24 January 2019 Council on Foreign Relations article “Venezuela: The Rise and Fall of a Petrostate, which said that Venezuela has “a devastating humanitarian crisis, with severe shortages of basic goods, such as food and medical supplies. In 2017, Venezuelans lost an average of twenty-four pounds in body weight.”

That, in turn, linked to a 21 February 2018 Reuters article, “Venezuelans report big weight losses in 2017 as hunger hits, which opened:

Venezuelans reported losing on average 11 kilograms (24 lbs) in body weight last year and almost 90 percent now live in poverty, according to a new university study on the impact of a devastating economic crisis and food shortages.
The annual survey, published on Wednesday by three universities, is one of the most closely-followed assessments of Venezuelans’ well being amid a government information vacuum and shows a steady rise in poverty and hunger in recent years.

Over 60 percent of Venezuelans surveyed said that during the previous three months they had woken up hungry because they did not have enough money to buy food. About a quarter of the population was eating two or less meals a day, the study showed.

Last year, the three universities found that Venezuelans said they had lost an average of 8 kilograms during 2016. This time, the study’s dozen investigators surveyed 6,168 Venezuelans between the ages of 20 and 65 across the country of 30 million people. …

“Income is being pulverized,” Maria Ponce, one of the study’s investigators, told a news conference at the Andres Bello Catholic University.

She was the only cited source. So, on May 3rd, I googled

“Maria Ponce” https://www.ucab.edu.ve/ “Universidad Católica Andrés Bello” and found https://ucab.academia.edu/MariaPonce

That indicated she had done “11 papers” and the most promising to be the one was at the very top:

https://www.academia.edu/38305342/Informe-PobrezaISBN-2017.pdf

I did there a “Find” for the number alleged in the Reuters article to have been the sample-size, “6,168” because if this document does, in fact, report any such study, then that number would need to be shown somewhere in it. I got “0” finds. So, this paper can’t be the basis for the assertion.

The only other promising prospect was here:

That one too didn’t include “6,168”. However, it did give her full name: “María Gabriela Ponce Zubillaga” which I then googled. The only promising find I could see there was this and that too lacked “6,168”.

Also, at the University itself, there is one paper shown from her, but it’s dated 2013.

None of the works from her is actually dated after 2015, and so there is a mystery as to why the only “study” by her which contained such internationally influential ‘findings’ has not been included by her in what she has uploaded to the Web or has otherwise been made public (except as ‘summarized’ in that Reuters article).

Also of interest is that a 2017 publication, which mentions her name, but which has no article from her, shows on its page 204, “Gráfica 14. Coeficiente de Gini. Venezuela. 2000-2015” or the year-by year economic-inequality coefficient or “Gini” for Venezuela, throughout the period 2000 to 2015, and this coefficient plunged during that period, to reach in 2015 “0.381” — which was one of the world’s lowest, which means that Venezuela had one of the world’s most equal distributions of incomes then — and this is an astounding performance, because in 2002 Venezuela’s was near the global average, 0.50. If that is true, then Venezuela’s Government has at least this important economic achievement to be proud of. (Hugo Chavez became President in 1999, and was replaced by Nicolas Maduro when Chavez died in 2013. The U.S. regime attempted many coups against both, but the present effort is the most serious one yet.)

Furthermore, Ponce’s online-posted CV shows no publications from her after 2015.

So, I contacted her and left her this message plus my email-address so that she could respond:

EZ Eric Zuesse

Please email me the alleged February 2018 study documenting that Venezuelans lost an average of 24 pounds due to the economic troubles. 

It has been six days now with no response. If I ever hear back from her, or from anyone who is associated with that alleged ‘study’, then I shall do a follow-up news-report on the matter.

America’s media-watchdog FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) headlined on 30 April 2019 “Zero Percent of Elite Commentators Oppose Regime Change in Venezuela“, and reported (and documented) that “Over a three-month period (1/15/19–4/15/19), zero opinion pieces in the New York Times and Washington Post took an anti–regime change or pro-Maduro/Chavista position. Not a single commentator on the big three Sunday morning talk shows or PBS NewsHour came out against President Nicolás Maduro stepping down from the Venezuelan government.”  This lengthy study of hundreds of news-commentaries closed by saying: “When it comes to advocating the overthrow of the US government’s foreign undesirables, you can always count on opinion pages to represent all sides of why it’s a good thing. And the millions of people who beg to differ? Well, they’re just out of the question.”

So, though the present news-report is being distributed to all of America’s national news-media, for them to publish freely, they’ve already made clear that at least none of the ones that have large audiences will publish it. They know the truth, just as you do (now, at least), but they aren’t in the truth-business — they only pretend to be (just as they pretend to report ‘the news’, instead of the the carefully filtered propaganda).

Polls show that Americans want bipartisan government. But both of the political parties are funded by billionaires, and all billionaires are neoconservatives — supporters of extending the U.S. empire — because it’s their empire, and because none of them is actually satisfied with how large it already is. So: they hire the writers for, and the candidates of, both political parties, to help them make it even bigger, ceaselessly. So, if you don’t see this article published in the pages of the New York Times, Washington Post, etc., you know why: they’re working to keep ‘fake news’ out, and to report only the real propaganda, the authorized propaganda — the propaganda that those billionaires want to be spread.

And this also explains that interview on Fox News Channel’s May 2nd edition of “The Story with Martha MacCallum. It also explains why Trump could say there (at 0:19) — and be unchallenged for saying — “It is, from a constitutional standpoint, it’s the way it’s supposed to be. He [Guaido] was elected,” though everything in that statement is absurdly false; and this is also the reason why, later (at 3:05), the host, MacCallum, seconded that lie, by asserting that the actually merely self-proclaimed ‘interim President of Venezuela’, Guaido, is what “the people of Venezuela, what they democratically voted for,” though the only voters who ever actually voted for him were the majority of voters in merely Vargas, which is one of Venezuela’s 23 states. Guaido has never been in any national Venezuelan election (but only that local one) — not against Maduro, not against anyone else. Yet, the U.S. regime is trying to impose him upon the entire Venezuelan people, and Trump even claims that Guaido had won a national election.

Mr. Guaido, in 2016, was elected by the residents of Vargas to become its Representative in the nation’s unicameral legislature, the National Assembly, and never yet has faced any  national Venezuelan election, on anything. His record in national public office is therefore almost non-existent; but, within the National Assembly itself, he nonetheless rose (due to his long-time backing by the U.S. regime) immediately to become elected by its members, as the President of that body, the National Assembly. In other words, he was appointed, by the national legislature, immediately after having been elected solely by, and solely to represent, the residents of the state of Vargas. If he were to become installed as ‘interim President’ of the nation, it would be with no clear record on national issues. And it would be with no vote by the national electorate.

Vargas, one of Venezuela’s poorest states, was predominantly socialist, so Guaido had pretended to be socialist; and he won that local office on that fraudulent basis; but, once in office, he became immediately fascist. He was behaving in accord with his being a perfect CIA asset, to take over a democratic socialist country that the dictatorial capitalist U.S. regime wants to control. He is acting as a traitor to Venezuela, and certainly outside of and violating Venezuela’s Constitution. So, if he were to become Venezuela’s leader, that would be only by appointment on the part of the legislators, and not by any democratic election by the Venezuelan people, and it would also be in violation of Venezuela’s Supreme Judicial Tribunal, which is the only body that possesses the Constitutional authority to authorize the National Assembly to consider the possibility of appointing an interim President. (It didn’t do that; so, no one can possibly be “the interim President of Venezuela.”) All of what the U.S. regime and its supporters are demanding, stands in direct violation of Venezuela’s Constitution. The United States and its allies nonetheless demand it, and the U.S. regime says that “All options are on the table,” up to and including a U.S. invasion of Venezuela, in order to achieve their drastic and blatantly unConstitutional change-of-Government in Venezuela. Violating international law isn’t enough; they demand to shred Venezuela’s Constitution, too.

And the lie about “People have lost 24 pounds” can be understood only in this broader context of lies, and only by means of exposing and understanding the lies for what they are, instead of only by what they claim (which is what the liars and their press want the public to be fooled to believe).

The London Climate Protests: Raising The Alarm

The feeling is often there at night, of course, in the wee small hours. But it can arise at almost any time – looking at someone we care about, listening to birdsong on an unusually warm spring morning, shopping.

It is like being trapped on a sinking ship, with the captain and crew refusing to admit that anything is wrong. The passengers are mostly oblivious, planning their journeys and lives ahead. Everything seems ‘normal’, but we know that everything will soon be at the bottom of the sea. Everything seems ordinary, familiar, permanent, but will soon be gone. It feels as if our happiness, our every moment spent with the people and places we love, is irradiated by the fear of impending climate collapse.

Last month, the Extinction Rebellion protests in London (and globally) finally challenged some aspects of this waking nightmare – at last, a sense that human beings are not completely insane, that we are capable of responding with some rationality and dignity. In the end, 1,100 people allowed themselves to be arrested, with 70 charged, for all our sakes.

While many people thrill to the prospect of pouring milkshake over political opponents, Extinction Rebellion proved, conclusively, once and for all, that non-violent protest is the superpower of democratic change. And this was not just non-violent protest; it was non-hating, rooted in love of the planet, love of people, love of life. The mystic Lao-Tzu wrote:

‘Nothing in the world
is as soft and yielding as water.
Yet for dissolving the hard and inflexible,
nothing can surpass it.

‘The soft overcomes the hard;
the gentle overcomes the rigid.’

The special forces in this compassionate revolution are the 83-year-old grandfather who spoke so eloquently atop a blocked train in Canary Wharf. They are the little children sitting quietly in the middle of Oxford Street, the mums with toddlers, and, of course, the extraordinary Greta Thunberg whose insight and intelligence have stunned many veteran climate activists. Where the adults have been cautioning for years that we should not be too ‘alarmist’, too ‘pessimistic’ for fear of upsetting a lily-livered public, Thunberg has said simply:

‘I want you to panic. I want you to act as if the house was on fire… To panic, unless you have to, is a terrible idea. But when your house is on fire and you want to keep your house from burning to the ground then that does require some level of panic.’

She is exactly right. In his recent BBC documentary, ‘Climate Change: The Facts’, 91-year-old David Attenborough missed 16-year-old Thunberg’s point. The first half of Attenborough’s film did an excellent job of drawing attention to the threats, but the second half was much too positive on the prospects for individual and collective action. It ended on a hopeful, reassuring note. It should have ended on a note of deep alarm and, yes, panic.

When governments seek to mobilise the public for action, they terrify us with tales of Huns bayonetting babies, of weapons of mass destruction ready to destroy us within 45 minutes. They do this because it works – people are willing to kill and be killed, if they think their own lives and those of the people they love are at stake.

We have always argued that climate scientists and activists should also emphasise the terrifying prospects – not in the dishonest, hyped way of state cynics, but honestly, sticking to the facts. When the science is punching great holes in the blind conceit of industrial ‘progress’ we should not pull our punches. Again, the Extinction Rebellion protests – the name makes the point – have powerfully vindicated this strategy. An opinion poll after the protests found:

‘Two-thirds of people in the UK recognise there is a climate emergency and 76% say that they would cast their vote differently to protect the planet.’

John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said the debate around environmentalism had been fundamentally altered:

‘Climate activists, young and old, have put the UK government under enormous pressure to officially recognise the climate emergency we are facing. There is a real feeling of hope in the air that after several decades of climate campaigning the message is beginning to sink in. What we need now is to translate that feeling into action.’

As a result of this pressure, the UK last week became the first parliament to declare a climate emergency – previously unthinkable. Leading climate scientist, Professor Michael Mann, tweeted of the declaration:

‘Yeah, there’s a lot going on in the current news cycle. But this is undoubtedly the most important development of all’

Light-years beyond his Conservative opponents on this issue, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn commented:

‘We have no time to waste. We are living in a climate crisis that will spiral dangerously out of control unless we take rapid and dramatic action now.

‘This is no longer about a distant future we’re talking about nothing less than the irreversible destruction of the environment within our lifetimes of members of this house. Young people know this. They have the most to lose.’

By contrast, the voting record of Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, indicates that he ‘Generally voted against measures to prevent climate change.’ Prime Minister Theresa May has maintained a studied, shameful silence, clearly hoping the issue and the protests will go away. Action is clearly not on her agenda.

As if the climate crisis was not bad enough, a new UN report reveals that one million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction. The world is experiencing a rate of destruction tens to hundreds of times higher than the average over the past 10 million years. Dr Kate Brauman, from the University of Minnesota, a lead author of the assessment, commented:

‘We have documented a really unprecedented decline in biodiversity and nature, this is completely different than anything we’ve seen in human history in terms of the rate of decline and the scale of the threat.’

The following day, only two UK newspapers, (Guardian and i) led with the UN report on species extinction, most preferring to focus on a royal birth. The BBC News website featured no less than six stories about the royal baby before the headline, ‘Humans “threaten 1m species with extinction”.’ This was a classic example of why Erich Fromm warned in his book ‘The Sane Society’, that it truly is possible for an entire society to be, in effect, insane.

Manufactured Dissent?

Without a sense of alarm, we will likely continue to be stifled by the huge campaign of corporate disinformation and outright lies designed to prevent profit-unfriendly actions. The key to the strategy to maintain public indifference was explained by Phil Lesley, author of a handbook on public relations:

‘People generally do not favour action on a non-alarming situation when arguments seem to be balanced on both sides and there is a clear doubt. The weight of impressions on the public must be balanced so people will have doubts and lack motivation to take action. Accordingly, means are needed to get balancing information into the stream from sources that the public will find credible. There is no need for a clear-cut “victory”. … Nurturing public doubts by demonstrating that this is not a clear-cut situation in support of the opponents usually is all that is necessary.’1

Given the need for a very clear alarm to counter this propaganda, it is disturbing, but not surprising, that critics on the left have joined with the likes of Lesly to attack the messengers trying to raise the alarm (unsurprising because the left has an extremely poor record on climate change. See our Cogitation.)

In her article, ‘The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent: The Political Economy of the Non-Profit Industrial Complex’ – which is intended to remind of Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky’s classic work, Manufacturing Consent – The Political Economy of the Mass Media – independent investigative journalist and environmental activist Cory Morningstar headlines a key claim at the top of the piece and throughout the very long, almost impenetrable mixture of text and screenshots that follows:

‘In ACT I, I disclose that Greta Thunberg, the current child prodigy and face of the youth movement to combat climate change, serves as special youth advisor and trustee to the burgeoning mainstream tech start-up We Don’t Have Time.’

The claim is that Thunberg was involved in launching new business opportunities to capitalise on green concerns. Morningstar mentions the ‘We Don’t Have Time’ organisation involved in ‘tech start-up’ dozens of times in Act I of her piece alone. And yet, as Thunberg responded on Facebook in February:

‘I was briefly a youth advisor for the board of the non profit foundation “We don’t have time”. It turns out they used my name as part of another branch of their organisation that is a start up business. They have admitted clearly that they did so without the knowledge of me or my family [Our emphasis]. I no longer have any connection to “We don’t have time”. Nor does anyone in my family. They have deeply apologised for what has happened and I have accepted their apology.’

Thunberg did not, in fact, ‘serve as a trustee’ for the start-up business branch; her name was added without her knowledge or permission and she no longer has any links to the organisation. Three months after they were published on Facebook, Morningstar has still not added an addendum to her article responding and linking to Thunberg’s comments.

Morningstar wrote:

‘Greta Thunberg and [teenage climate activist] Jamie Margolin who both have lucrative futures in the branding of “sustainable” industries and products, if they wish to pursue this path in utilizing their present celebrity for personal gain (a hallmark of the “grassroots” NGO movement).’

Thunberg again:

‘I am not part of any organization. I sometimes support and cooperate with several NGOs that work with the climate and environment. But I am absolutely independent and I only represent myself. And I do what I do completely for free, I have not received any money or any promise of future payments in any form at all. And nor has anyone linked to me or my family done so.

‘And of course it will stay this way. I have not met one single climate activist who is fighting for the climate for money. That idea is completely absurd.

‘Furthermore I only travel with permission from my school and my parents pay for tickets and accommodations.’

Everything we have seen suggests that Thunberg is completely sincere and not at all minded to exploit her celebrity for money. Considering her age, the suggestion, in the absence of evidence, is ugly indeed.

Morningstar’s basic theme is that climate activists are being exploited by the same old cynical interests who will decide who and what will ‘save the planet’ in a way that makes them rich. And who will these people be?

‘we know full well the answer: the same Western white male saviours and the capitalist economic system they have implemented globally that has been the cause of our planetary ecological nightmare. This crisis continues unabated as they appoint themselves (yet again) as the saviours for all humanity – a recurring problem for centuries’.

On Twitter, ‘polirealm’ commented on Morningstar’s piece:

‘It looks at the establishment bodies, NGOs, their main characters, their connections, their main influences, networks, but it doesn’t look at the actual people on the ground at all, except as defenseless victims of social engineering.’

And:

‘The truth is, many of the activists are 100% aware of the goal of their usurpation, they’re aware that capitalism has nothing to lose and will take no prisoners in this fight, in fact, many are remarkably well informed.’

Indeed, the protests are being joined and supported by literally millions of intelligent, motivated, frightened people around the world, who will absolutely not be content with yet more corporate dissembling, profiteering and greenwash. Not only that, as evidence continues to mount of approaching disaster – and it will increase, dramatically – corporate executives, journalists and political executives will themselves increasingly reject these cynical machinations. ‘Polirealm’s’ concluding point:

‘So whoever believes the agenda and outcome of the climate movement are predetermined today simply has no idea what they’re talking about. The organizational structures are still quite chaotic, but there are many very motivated people with very good ideas, who’ve only just started.’

Morningstar is clearly sincere and well-intentioned, and her argument, of course, has some merit. We have been documenting for decades, in media alerts, articles and books, how corporate interests have been working all-out to co-opt Green concern. The problem with Morningstar’s focus is that it plays into the hands of corporate climate deniers and delayers whose strategy we have already described:

‘The weight of impressions on the public must be balanced so people will have doubts and lack motivation to take action.’

After thirty years of mortifying indifference and inaction, now is not the time to promote the belief that the crucial alarm that is at last being raised by Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion has been cynically ‘manufactured’. It is our job to ring the alarm and ensure that something is done. But first we must ring the alarm!

Even if corporate interests were crazed enough to think they could promote mass public dissent on this scale in the cause of profit, they would have no way of controlling the outcome. In the spring of 1968, with more than half a million troops in Vietnam, with military leaders asking for 200,000 more, President Johnson was advised by a Pentagon study group not to escalate the war, making this comment:

‘The growing disaffection accompanied, as it certainly will be, by increased defiance of the draft and growing unrest in the cities because of the belief that we are neglecting domestic problems, runs great risks of provoking a domestic crisis of unprecedented proportions.’2

If that was true of mere anti-war sentiment based on concern for human rights, how much more is it true of sentiment based on concern for literal human survival – the prospect that we, and every last person we love, may soon be dead?

The Propaganda Model – Going Extinct?

Herman and Chomsky’s ‘propaganda model’ describes how state-corporate priorities – power and profit – tend to shape media performance in a way that supports the status quo. During the Extinction Rebellion protests, there was a clear sense that fewer and fewer commentators could think of good reasons for opposing what was happening. Even ‘mainstream’ politicians lined up to give their support; even ‘centrist’ liberal journalists, reflexively opposed to all progressive politics, applauded. Guardian columnist George Monbiot went much further than he ever has before in scorning the media:

‘If you asked me: “which industry presents the greatest environmental threat, oil or media?”, I would say “the media”. Every day it misdirects us. Every day it tells us that issues of mind-numbing irrelevance are more important than the collapse of our life support systems.’

If we like, we can interpret all of this as a sign that the protests are viewed as harmless, or as evidence that they have been captured by corporate interests pulling the strings behind the scenes. But there is an alternative interpretation, which we favour.

When famously sober, conservative, anti-alarmist climate scientists are warning that human beings will become extinct unless drastic action is taken within the next decade, so that even prime-time BBC TV features the venerable David Attenborough warning that ‘the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon’, then we have entered unknown territory. As Attenborough said:

‘The world’s people have spoken, their message is clear – time is running out. They want you, the decision-makers, to act now.’

Herman and Chomsky’s ‘propaganda model’ was not designed for this scenario. When individual corporate media editors, journalists, advertising and political executives realise that they and their families are genuinely facing death, it is not at all certain that they will continue to support the subordination of people and planet to profit to no purpose. At this point – the point where the mortally-threatened corporate lions lie down with the mortally-threatened activist lambs – the propaganda model may start to break down. Either way, it is our job to continue pressuring corporate media and, more importantly, replacing them with honest, non-corporate alternatives pushing for real change.

The protests must continue, must escalate, and governments must be made to adopt a kind of war-footing subordinating everything – especially profit – to the survival of our own and all other species.

  1. Lesly, ‘Coping with Opposition Groups’, Public Relations Review 18, 1992, p. 331.
  2. Howard Zinn, The Zinn Reader, Seven Stories Press, 1997, p. 401.

Is Leaked Document Trump’s “Deal of the Century”?

A report published this week by the Israel Hayom newspaper apparently leaking details of Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” reads like the kind of peace plan that might be put together by an estate agent or car salesman.

But while the authenticity of the document is unproven and indeed contested, there are serious grounds for believing it paves the direction of any future declaration by the Trump administration.

Not least, it is a synthesis of most of the Israeli right’s ambitions for the creation of a Greater Israel, with a few sops to the Palestinians – most of them related to partially relieving Israel’s economic strangulation of the Palestinian economy.

This is exactly what Jared Kushner told us the “deal of the century” would look like in his preview last month.

Also significant is the outlet that published the leak: Israel Hayom. The Israeli newspaper is owned by Sheldon Adelson, a US casino billionaire who is one of the Republican party’s chief donors and was a major contributor to Trump’s presidential election campaign funds.

Adelson is also a stalwart ally of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. His newspaper has served as little more than a mouthpiece for Netanyahu’s ultra-nationalist governments over the past decade.

Netanyahu behind leak?

Adelson and Israel Hayom have ready access to key figures in both the US and Israeli administrations. And it has been widely reported that little of significance gets into print there unless it has first been approved by Netanyahu or its overseas owner.

The newspaper questioned the authenticity and credibility of the document, which has spread across social media platforms, even suggesting “it is quite possible the document is fake” and that the Israeli foriegn ministry was looking into it.

The White House had already indicated that, after long delays, it intended to finally unveil the “deal of the century” next month, after the holy Muslim month of Ramadan finishes.

An unnamed White House official told the paper the leak was “speculative” and “inaccurate” – the kind of lacklustre denial that might equally mean the report is, in fact, largely accurate.

If the document is genuine, Netanyahu looks to be the most likely culprit behind the leak. He has overseen the foreign ministry for years and Israel Hayom is widely referred to by Israelis as “Bibiton”, or Bibi’s newspaper, employing the prime minister’s nickname.

Testing the waters

The alleged document, as published in Israel Hayom, would be catastrophically bad for the Palestinians. Assuming Netanyahu approved the document’s leaking, his motives might not be too difficult to discern.

On one view, leaking it might be an effective way for Netanyahu and the Trump administration to test the waters, to fly a trial balloon to see whether they dare publish the document as it is, or need to make modifications.

But another possibility is that Netanyahu may have concluded that there could be an unwelcome price in publicly achieving most of what he is already gaining by stealth – a price he may prefer to avoid for the time being.

Is the leak designed to foment pre-emptive opposition to the plan, both from within Israel and from the Palestinians and the Arab world, in the hope of stymieing its release?

The hope may be that the leak, and the reaction it elicits, forces Trump’s Middle East team to postpone yet again the plan’s publication, or even foils its release entirely.

Nonetheless, whether or not the “deal of the century” is unveiled soon, the leaked document – if true – offers a plausible glimpse into the Trump administration’s thinking.

Given that Trump’s Middle East team appear to have begun implementing the plan over the past 18 months even without its publication – from moving the US embassy to Jerusalem to the recognition of Israel’s illegal annexation of the Syrian Golan Heights – the leak helps to shed light on how a US-Israeli “resolution” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is likely to unfold.

Annexing the West Bank

The proposed Palestinian entity would be named “New Palestine” – apparently taking a page out of the playbook of Tony Blair, a Britain’s former prime minister who became the international community’s Middle East envoy from 2007 to 2015.

Back in the 1990s, Blair filleted his own political party, Labour, of its socialist heritage and then rebranded the resulting corporation-friendly party, a pale shadow of its former self, as “New Labour”.

The name “New Palestine” helpfully obscures the fact that this demilitarised entity would lack the features and powers normally associated with a state. According to the leak, New Palestine would exist on only a tiny fraction of historic Palestine.

All illegal settlements in the West Bank would be annexed to Israel – satisfying a pledge Netanyahu made shortly before last month’s general election. If the territory annexed includes most of Area C, the 62 per cent of the West Bank Israel was given temporary control over under the Oslo accords, and which the Israeli right urgently wants to annex, that would leave New Palestine nominally in charge of about 12 percent of historic Palestine.

Or put another way, the Trump administration appears to be ready to give its blessing to a Greater Israel comprising 88 per cent of the land stolen from Palestinians over the past seven decades.

But it is far worse than that. New Palestine would exist as a series of discrete cantons, or Bantustans, surrounded by a sea of Israeli settlements – now to be declared part of Israel. The entity would be chopped and diced in a way that is true of no other state in the world.

New Palestine would have no army, just a lightly armed police force. It would be able to act only as a series of disconnected municipalities.

In fact, it is hard to imagine how “New Palestine” would fundamentally change the current, dismal reality for Palestinians. They would be able to move between these cantons only using lengthy detours, bypass roads and tunnels. Much like now.

Glorified municipalities

The only silver lining offered in the alleged document is a proposed bribe from the US, Europe, and other developed states, though mostly financed by the oil-rich Gulf states, to salve their consciences for defrauding the Palestinians of their land and sovereignty.

These states will provide $30bn over five years to help New Palestine set up and run its glorified municipalities. If that sounds like a lot of money, remember it is $8bn less than the decade-long aid the US is currently giving Israel to buy arms and fighter jets.

What happens to New Palestine after that five-year period is unclear in the document. But given that the 12 percent of historic Palestine awarded to the Palestinians is the region’s most resource-poor territory – stripped by Israel of water sources, economic coherence, and key exploitable resources like the West Bank’s quarries – it is hard not to see the entity sinking rather swimming after the initial influx of money dries up.

Even if the international community agrees to stump up more money, New Palestine would be entirely aid dependent in perpetuity.

The US and others would be able to turn on and off the spigot based on the Palestinians’ “good behaviour” – just as occurs now. Palestinians would live permanently in fear of the repercussions for criticising their prison warders.

In keeping with his vow to make Mexico pay for the wall to be built along the southern US border, Trump apparently wants the Palestinian entity to pay Israel to provide it with military security. In other words, much of that $30bn in aid to the Palestinians would probably end up in the Israeli military’s pockets.

Interestingly, the leaked report argues that oil-producing states, not the Palestinians, would be the “main beneficiaries” of the agreement. This hints at how the Trump deal is being sold to the Gulf states: as an opportunity for them to fully embrace Israel, its technology and military prowess, so that the Middle East can follow in the footsteps of Asia’s “tiger economies”.

Ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem

Jerusalem is described as a “shared capital”, but the small print reads rather differently. Jerusalem would not be divided into a Palestinian east and an Israeli west, as most had envisaged. Instead, the city will be run by a unified Israeli-run municipality. Just as happens now.

The only meaningful concession to the Palestinians would be that Israelis would not be allowed to buy Palestinian homes, preventing – in theory, at least – a further takeover of East Jerusalem by Jewish settlers.

But given that in return Palestinians would not be allowed to buy Israeli homes, and that the Palestinian population in East Jerusalem already suffers massive housing shortages and that an Israeli municipality would have the power to decide where homes are built and for whom, it is easy to imagine that the current situation – of Israel exploiting planning controls to drive Palestinians out of Jerusalem – would simply continue.

Also, given that Palestinians in Jerusalem would be citizens of New Palestine, not Israel, those unable to find a home in Israeli-ruled Jerusalem would have no choice but to emigrate into the West Bank. That would be exactly the same form of bureaucratic ethnic cleansing that Palestinians in Jerusalem experience now.

Gaza open to Sinai

Echoing recent comments from Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and Middle East adviser, the plan’s benefits for Palestinians all relate to potential economic dividends, not political ones.

Palestinians will be allowed to labour in Israel, as was the norm before Oslo – and presumably, as before, only in the most poorly paid and precarious jobs, on building sites and agricultural land.

A land corridor, doubtlessly overseen by Israeli military contractors the Palestinians must pay for, is supposed to connect Gaza to the West Bank. Confirming earlier reports of the Trump administration’s plans, Gaza would be opened up to the world, and an industrial zone and airport created in the neighbouring territory of Sinai.

The land – its extent to be decided in negotiations – would be leased from Egypt.

Helpfully for Israel, as Middle East Eye has previously pointed out, such a move risks gradually encouraging Palestinians to view Sinai as the centre of their lives rather than Gaza – another way to slowly ethnically cleanse them.

Meanwhile, the West Bank would be connected to Jordan by two border crossings – probably via land corridors through the Jordan Valley, which itself is to be annexed to Israel. Again, with Palestinians squeezed into disconnected cantons surrounded by Israeli territory, the assumption must be that over time many would seek a new life in Jordan.

Palestinian political prisoners would be released from Israeli jails to the authority of New Palestine over three years. But the plan says nothing about a right of return for millions of Palestinian refugees – descended from those who were expelled from their homes in the 1948 and 1967 wars.

Gun to their heads

Don Corleone-style, the Trump administrations appears ready to hold a gun to the head of the Palestinian leaderships to force them to sign up to the deal.

The US, the leaked report states, would cut off all money transfers to the Palestinians if they dissent, in an attempt to batter them into submission.

The alleged plan would demand that Hamas and Islamic Jihad disarm, handing their weapons over to Egypt. Should they reject the deal, the report says the US would authorise Israel to “personally harm” the leadership – through extrajudicial assassinations that have long been a mainstay of Israeli policy towards the two groups.

Rather less credibly, the alleged document suggests that the White House is prepared to get tough with Israel too, cutting off US aid if Israel fails to abide by the terms of the agreement.

Given that Israel has regularly broken the Oslo accords – and international law – without paying any serious penalty for doing so, it is easy to imagine that in practice the US would find work-arounds to ensure Israel was not harmed for any violations of the deal.

US imprimatur

The alleged document has all the hallmarks of being the Trump plan, or at least a recent draft of it, because it sets out in black and white the reality Israel has been crafting for Palestinians over the past two decades.

It simply gives Israel’s mass theft of land and cantonisation of the Palestinians an official US imprimatur.

So, if it offers the Israeli right most of what it wants, what interest would Israel Hayom – Netanyahu’s mouthpiece – have in jeopardising its success by leaking it?

A couple of reasons suggest themselves.

Israel is already achieving all these goals – stealing land, annexing the settlements, cementing its exclusive control over Jerusalem, putting pressure on the Palestinians to move off their land and into neighbouring states – without formally declaring that this is its game plan.

It has been making great progress in all its aims without having to admit publicly that statehood for the Palestinians is an illusion. For Netanyahu, the question must be why go public with Israel’s over-arching vision when it can be achieved by stealth.

Fearful of backlash

But even worse for Israel, once the Palestinians and the watching world understand that the current, catastrophic reality for Palestinians is as good as it is going to get, there is likely to be a backlash.

The Palestinian Authority could collapse, the Palestinian populace launch a new uprising, the so-called “Arab street” may be far less accepting of the plan than their rulers or Trump might hope, and solidarity activists in the West, including the boycott movement, would get a massive shot in the arm for their cause.

Equally, it would be impossible for Israel’s apologists to continue denying that Israel is carrying out what the late Israeli academic Baruch Kimmerling called “politicide” – the destruction of the Palestinians’ future, their right to self-determination and their integrity as a single people.

If this is Trump’s version of Middle East peace, he is playing a game of Russian roulette – and Netanyahu may be reluctant to let him pull the trigger.

First published in Middle East Eye

Venezuela: A Risk to Dollar Hegemony

After the new coup attempt – or propaganda coup – Venezuela lives in a state of foreign imposed insecurity. The failed coup was executed on 30 April by Juan Guaidó, the self-proclaimed and Washington-trained and endorsed “interim President”, and the opposition leader, Leopoldo López, who was hurriedly freed from house arrest by Guaidó with a couple of dozens of armed-to-the-teeth defecting military, who apparently didn’t quite know what they were up to. Because, when all was over after a few hours, most of them asked to be re-integrated into their military units – and, as far as I know, they were readmitted.

These are Washington’s puppets and “coup-makers”. When one sees that the so-called coup was defeated in a mere few hours, without any Venezuelan military interference, one wonders whether this was really planned as a coup, or merely as a “public relations” coup, for the media to ‘recharge’ their narrative of Maduro dictatorship, of a suffering people, of famine, of lack of medication and medical supplies all due to the Maduro government’s mismanagement of Venezuela’s natural riches, the lie-slander we have been used to for the last several years.

For sure, the Venezuelan people are suffering. According to a CEPR report sanctions have killed some 40,000 Venezuelans. And this, not because of President Maduro’s squandering of Venezuelan resources, but because of a brutal, merciless outside interference, principally from the United States and to a lesser degree from Washington’s European vassals. If you listen to the ceaseless drumbeat for war against Venezuela and her democratically elected President Nicolas Maduro, by Pompeo, Bolton, Pence and Trump, you can only wonder and shake your head.  What pathological and schizophrenic world are we living in? And are we all sick to the bone, that we tolerate it, that nobody of and in power – other than Russia and China – say ‘Halt’ to this deadly fiasco?

This article by Eric Zuesse, including leaked documents from Pentagon’s southern command, SOUTHCOM, will give the non-believers plenty of reasons to change their minds.

Western humanity has reached an abject state of mental disease. We allow the slaughter of tens of millions of people by the United States and its NATO allies in US-provoked wars and conflicts around the world, indiscriminate killing for resources and monetary dominion. But we follow the same killer nation in accusing a quiet, peace-loving, fully democratic country, like Venezuela, to be utterly trampled on and punished with the most horrific monetary and economic sanctions – all illegal, by any standards of law – and our western “leaders” know it all.

These western heads of state and their chosen minions do not have the guts or political courage to say ‘STOP’. They could, if they had any conscience left. These so-called leaders (sic) of vassal states, they have it all in their sovereign power. They could together decide that enough is enough, separate themselves from the Washington horrors and form a real European Union, a union to say no to the tyrant, a union that is capable of calling its own sovereign shots, decide its own destiny, a destiny of alliance with peaceful countries like Venezuela, Cuba, Russia, China, Iran and more, basically all those that have decided not to bend to the dictate of Washington.

Why don’t they? Have they been bought, or received death threats if they dare to deviate? All is possible, even likely, because it is unfathomable that the leaders, the political heads of all those 28 EU countries are hell-bent to believe the lies being propagated day-in and day-out, drip-by-miserable drip. It is not possible.

Back to Venezuela.

The western public at large must never be too long without devastating smear-news about a regime the empire wants to “change”. It is clear that the nefarious pair in Venezuela, Guaidó-López, followed strict Washington instructions. Guaidó would never dare do anything without prior approval and directives from his masters in Washington.

Despite threats after pompous threats and false accusations and failed coup attempts, President Maduro holds on to a solid backing of six million voters who supported him, more than two thirds of those who went to the ballots, on 20 May 2018. He also has the solid support of the military, who have a revolutionary integrity and conscience unknown to the west. And not least, he has the support of Venezuela’s solid allies, Russia and China.

Nevertheless, the United States will not let go. Why do they risk everything – even a devastating war?

Well, there are several reasons. First you may think, “It’s the Oil, stupid!”, and second, the turbo-capitalist, neoliberal turning-to-neofascist US will not tolerate a socialist state in what they still consider their ‘backyard’.  Well, all of this is true. Venezuela has indeed the world’s largest hydrocarbon reserves, and it is conveniently close to The US’s Texas refineries.

However, the key reason for Washington forcing ‘regime change’ is that Venezuela has stopped selling her hydrocarbon in US dollars, and, may therefore become a risk for the US-dollar hegemony around the globe. That is a punishable violation for the empire. At least two heads of state were assassinated because they dared abandoning the unwritten and unlawful, but nevertheless US-imposed rule to sell their oil and gas in US-dollars, Saddam Hussein of Iraq and Muammar Gaddafi. Both had started trading their oil in other than US-dollar currencies and were strong advocates for others to do likewise.

Some three years ago, Venezuela started selling her oil and gas in other currencies than the US-dollar, a cardinal sin.

Global dollar hegemony, meaning the full control of economies throughout the globe – a control that is rapidly fading – can only be maintained by a world flooded by dollars and with a monetary system that is entirely controlled by the FED and its associated American banks, by an international transfer system, SWIFT, that channels every dollar to be moved between countries, whether it is the US or any other country – through a US bank, in either New York or London. That still being the case, the US dollar remains the key reserve currency in the world, though rapidly fading. And second, through the obligatory trading of a commodities – like hydrocarbon energy – ONLY in US-dollars. The latter also allows the empire to print as many dollars as it needs to keep the world economy under control – and punish those that do not want to bend to Washington’s rule, with sanctions and confiscation of assets abroad, because — all transactions are controlled by the US banking system.

First, the dollar as a reserve currency, is fading rapidly, as ever fewer countries entrust their reserves to a largely recognized ‘fake’, fiat and debt-based currency, the US-dollar. They convert their dollar reserve holdings gradually into other assets; i.e. gold, or the Chinese Yuan which has become high in demand over the last few years. Logically, because China is already known as the undisputable strongest economy in the world, hence, the Chinese currency has a special reserve standing. However, the mainstream media do not report on this.

Second, with a growing number of countries that do no longer respect the Washington imposed US-dollar rule for hydrocarbon trading – the demand for dollars decreases rapidly – a direct confrontation to the United States’ dollar hegemony over the world. Russia and China have years ago stopped trading in US dollars, not only hydrocarbons, but everything. India and Iran have started doing the same. Other countries will follow – and Venezuela, one of the vanguards with the world’s largest oil reserves – should, therefore, not be allowed to become a model for other nations. The Trump Administration and its Wall Street masters will do what it takes to stop Venezuela from abandoning the dollar.

Hence, regime change and taking over the vast oil assets is of the order – with war, if necessary – “all options are on the table” – all under the blatantly fakest pretexts of “humanitarian intervention” and bringing back democracy – when the world knows that anywhere the US intervenes, democracy is abolished. In fact, what the US has managed – and wantonly so – is kill any democracy that ever existed.

Under these circumstances, Venezuela’s transgression in shedding the dollar for oil trading – and for trading in general – amounts to a serious threat to the dollar hegemony and must be suffocated. That’s what these coup attempts are all about. If they succeed, the dollar-currency collapse could be postponed for a bit, and taking possession of the oil reserves would be the icing on the cake.

What’s left after the dollar dominance over the world is gone, once the key tool, economic sanctions, for manipulating nations into doing the bidding of the emperor is no longer effective?  A broken US economy, one that already today depends heavily on the war and weapons industry – in fact, for over 50% of US GDP, when all associated manufacturing and services are counted. What’s left is the overwhelming firepower of that belligerent warmongering and war-dependent nation, with which the US and NATO could pull the rest of the world into oblivion.

That’s what’s at stake with any nation that wants to kick the petro-dollar. Also, Iran, of course. But both Iran and Venezuela have strong protection from Russia and China – two countries that freed themselves from the fangs of the dollar system years ago. And they are offering a bright future with viable Eastern monetary alternatives, mostly based on the Chinese Yuan and other currencies linked to SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) members.

Venezuela – Venceremos!

Embassy Protection Collective: We’re Still Here And We’re Staying

The Embassy Protection Collective formed on April 10, the day after the Trump administration manipulated the Organization of American States (OAS) to change the rules so they could recognize their puppet, Juan Guaido, as president of Venezuela. The OAS could not get the required two-thirds vote to recognize a government so they changed the rules to a mere majority and barely got that. By then, the US had allowed their Guaido coup forces to take the Venezuelan military attaché building in Washington, DC and three diplomatic offices in New York City.

The Trump administration is allowing extreme violent right-wing Guaido supporters to blockade the embassy. Despite a standoff in the last week, we had a series of victories over those forces and remain steadfast protectors of the embassy.

Surround the embassy with love and resistance

We adopted a theme song for the Embassy Protection Collective, “We’re Still Here” by Holly Neer. The chorus begins with:

We’re Still Here
Choosing Love Over Fear
When the Lines Are All Drawn
We’re Still Here

Challenges and Victories

We woke up on April 30 to the news that Juan Guaido was going to attempt a coup again, which made us wonder why he needs to conduct a coup if he is the “president.” We were alerted by our Venezuelan allies that this second coup attempt would be easily defeated, which it was, but to expect coup-supporters in the US to protest at the embassy.

In fact, the extremist Venezuelan coup supporters showed up that morning and tried to take over the steps in front of the building. A team of embassy protectors took a stand on the steps and stopped them from taking over the entry. More violent extremists showed up throughout the day, causing police to erect a barricade between us in front of the embassy. We sang almost non-stop to keep ourselves from engaging with them while they blew sirens and other loud noises and insulted and threatened us shouting racist and misogynist comments and using lewd gestures. Police refused to pass food and water to us or to allow our allies into the space in front of the embassy. We held that space through the night by taking shifts.

In the courtyard behind the embassy, the pro-coup forces harassed, intimidated, threatened and assaulted our allies outside who bravely prevented them from entering the building while folks inside set up reinforcements to stop them from coming in the door. This lasted until 1:00 in the morning.

The next day, May 1, we agreed to cede the front steps if the police would protect the front porch and doors from damage. We moved inside to focus on protecting the embassy from within, thinking the police would honor their duty to protect the embassy from harm. That afternoon, Carlos Vecchio, Guaido’s fake “ambassador” showed up, with the intention of taking over the embassy.

We were ready for him to enter and be forced to remove us. As he came to the front porch to speak, we stood resolute behind him holding signs and chanting, ‘No Coup.’ When he began to speak, we cut off the power to his sound system and out-shouted him. Vecchio was forced to flee, chased by reporter Anya Parampil who asked him, “Where are you going next, the White House?”  A representative vaguely told the crowd they were “working on a process to evict us.” The coup failed in Venezuela on April 30, and failed again in Washington, DC on May 1.

Parampil

✔ @anyaparampil

Anya Parampil

✔ @anyaparampil

Watch @carlosvecchio’s staff fail to answer what they plan to do from within the Maduro government’s embassy, considering they won’t even be able to issue visas.

Also can’t answer why their colleagues attended a DC think tank meeting to plan for the invasion of Venezuela. pic.twitter.com/xHXWc7bRua

The coup supporters started setting up tents around the embassy that night and blocking our people from entering the building as police stood by and did nothing. When members of CODE PINK brought food the next day, surrounded by clergy, they were stopped from delivering it. Two allies, Ariel Gold of CODE PINK and Chris Herz tossed bread and other foods onto a patio to us. They were arrested and charged with “hurling missiles” at a building.

We pushed back at police for not allowing the food in, and they provided a blockade for our members to come down and get the groceries. Coup supporters stole hundreds of dollars worth of the food. We were also able to get some medications in that day for people who required it. Since then, we have struggled to get supplies. When we lowered a rope from a window and successfully brought up four bags of food, the coup supporters rushed a barricade and assaulted our allies. It was our people who were threatened with arrest even though they were the ones who were knocked to the ground.

An older gentleman from the neighborhood wanted to bring us toothbrushes and toothpaste. He was swarmed by the violent extremists. When he tried to pass between two people to get to the door, he was thrown to the ground violently and seriously injured. He was arrested, not the ones who threw him down. It has become common for police to arrest the victims of assault, not the people who committed the assault.

These seem to be US-trained regime change operatives who use violence, psy-ops and and intimidation against us. Some are Nicaraguans and Cubans, not Venezuelans. They have unlimited resources. They are constantly bringing in more supplies. From early in the morning, we are surrounded by them and subjected to their sirens, banging of pots and pans, loud music, taunts and threats of physical harm.

They have tried to break in numerous times. They drilled through a door to the garage and damaged the lift gate with a sledgehammer. On Friday night, they banged on the doors so hard for hours that they were damaging them. We had to fortify the old wooden doors so they would not break through. The Secret Service watched while they did it and not only let them but refused to say they would protect our safety. When we called them, they said we should ask the Venezuelan government for help. It took hundreds of calls from supporters to get them to stop.

The Secret Service is allowing them to do all they can to intimidate us very likely under orders from the White House. They want the extremists to frighten us so we leave the embassy. Their actions have had the opposite effect. They have united us in our determination to protect the embassy.

Despite being barricaded in the building and cut off from access to supplies, we are victorious. We are still here and there is little chance of eviction because we are violating no laws. We have built a powerful and united community that works together to protect the embassy and to keep the violent extremists and Trump administration out.

Surrounding the Embassy with Love and Resistance

The Trump administration realizes that entering the Venezuelan Embassy in violation of the Vienna Convention would set a precedent that could put US embassies around the world at risk. As a result, they are allowing right-wing extremists to harass and threaten us and try to starve us out. That is their only hope of taking over the embassy.

We refuse to give in no matter what they do. Our lawyers are making sure there is a record of the incidents, which we have in large part due to our embedded media, Anya Parampil of The Grayzone Project and Alex Rubinstein of Mintpress News. We also have to give a shout out to TeleSur, who was embedded with us until the pro-coup forces arrived and now is providing coverage from the outside. Allies outside are identifying the pro-coup actors. We wrote to the State Department and Secret Service about the violence and have told them we will hold decision-makers and police officers responsible for their actions.  But mostly, we have responded to these intimidation tactics in solidarity and have strengthened our resolve to protect the embassy.

A highlight of the week for us, after many difficult days, was to see hundreds of Embassy Protectors show up outside yesterday. They chanted with us and sang. We ended the night with revolutionary music blasting from the second floor embassy windows and dancing together even though they were on the sidewalk across the street and we were inside the embassy. The extremists’ banging of pots, strobe lights and blasting sirens at us only added to the festive atmosphere.

Today, more Embassy Protectors returned to show solidarity and express their love. We also started receiving many messages of solidarity and appreciation from individuals and social movements in Venezuela. This means the world to us. We are surrounded by violent, right-wing, regime change forces who are trying to wear us down. These are the same actors who held violent protests in Nicaragua and Venezuela. They are making death threats, threatening women with rape and mocking us, all in a posh Georgetown neighborhood. It is surreal.

We recall the mass mobilizations in Charlottesville, Boston and New York when right-wing, racist, misogynist hate-filled people came there and urge that mass resistance to join us now. This is a critical struggle. If the embassy is overtaken, it will set us on a path to war in Venezuela, and chaos and devastation to the region. If we can continue to protect the embassy, Venezuela and the United States will have time to negotiate with third countries to serve as protectorates for their embassies and this could begin a path to peace. Perhaps Trump will even see that the Bolton-Abrams-Pompeo team has misled him and reverse the disastrous policy course he is on. There is no reason to steal Venezuela’s resources, the US should respect Venezuelan sovereignty and negotiate agreements as has been done previously.

We are asking people to come to DC to surround this embassy with love and resistance. Let’s show that love will prevail.

If you absolutely can’t come to DC, please contact your member of Congress to make them aware of the situation. Tell them:

  1. The US is required to protect embassies under the Vienna Convention, but is allowing the Venezuelan Embassy to be damaged when the Secret Service could easily protect it.
  2. The United States’ coup in Venezuela has failed. Maduro is the legitimate elected President of Venezuela and is recognized by the United Nations and over 140 countries.
  3. The Secret Service is violating the human rights of the Embassy Protectors by failing to ensure safe passage in and out of the embassy and access to supplies. We are literally under siege.
  4. Review the Declaration of the Embassy Protection Collective and sign on to show your support.

And finally, please make a donation as we have incurred many unexpected costs for this mobilization.

Venceremos!

Google Bans Press TV

What?

On April 19, 2019 (the date of the original Patriots’ Day in New England), American tech giant Google disabled the accounts of Press TV, an Iranian news service, and its sister channel Hispan TV, an outlet in Spain.  Google denied their access to all its services, including its popular video streaming platform YouTube and its E-mail service Gmail.  The company’s move took place without prior notice or subsequent explanation.

The action’s date is particularly significant to Americans.  That day marked the beginning of the American Revolution.  It saw the first armed engagement between British soldiers and colonial militiamen at the Battles of Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts on April 19, 1775.  Patriots’ Day was intended to commemorate the colonists’ fight to win freedom from British rule.

But, nearly 250 years later, it observes the loss of that freedom to invisible, uncontrollable organizations.

Google and Facebook, and other social media giants, have been accused of altering search algorithms to slant or even hide information that departs from the government or corporate agenda. Independent media sources on the right and on the left have complained that searched results are tainted and being secretly manipulated on a grand scale. Now the censorship is being imposed openly in the name of political correctness and social harmony. There is a clear campaign to de-legitimize critics of US Government policy.

Target:  Iran.

According to the April 22, 2019 edition of MintPress, “Iran has been on the receiving end of more than its share of censorship. Facebook has repeatedly banned “networks” it believes are “tied to Iran.” Meanwhile, both Press TV and HispanTV have faced prior crackdowns from Google. Recently, Instagram banned a number of Iranian officials following the U.S. designation of Iran’s military as a foreign terrorist organization. In some cases, Facebook has even worked with CIA-funded cybersecurity firms to target accounts. The State Department later trumpeted those findings in a report on Iran’s cybersecurity threat to the U.S., but opted to omit the source of the evidence.”

Additionally, MintPress noted:  “Google’s crackdown on Iran is multifaceted, not just singling out its media for censorship, but also shutting down the accounts of its officials. Indeed, Google is on a path to destroy Iran’s ability to independently communicate its message to the world.”

What’s the issue?

Quoting Yasha Levine, journalist and author of Surveillance Valley: The Secret Military History of the Internet… “American Internet companies,” such as Google and Facebook, “are not abstract global platforms, but privatized instruments of American geopolitical power.”

And that’s the real issue.

And it’s not only Press TV, the “Voice of the Voiceless” that’s censored. The American Herald Tribune has been under attack, it says, by Zionist gatekeepers.  In August 2018, it wrote one of the authors: “Dear Michael, Google has disabled all of the services we were using.”  Then, the next month, it wrote:  “Dear Friends/Colleagues:  We were unable to retrieve our Facebook page after it was taken down without any prior notice. We have created a new Facebook page.”

Protection from bigots?

The attacks on Press TV, American Herald Tribune, and others are always couched in terms of suppressing the malign influence of the “far-right” and/or “anti-Semitic figures and organizations.”  On May 3, 2019, the Washington Post used those words to headline an article celebrating Facebook’s action in permanently banning “several far-right and anti-Semitic figures and organizations, including Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, Infowars host Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos [a former Breitbart editor] and Laura Loomer [a right-wing American political activist] , for being ‘dangerous’…”  The paper saw this as “a sign that the social network is more aggressively enforcing its hate-speech policies at a moment when bigoted violence is on the rise around the world.”

While the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution states:  “Congress shall make no law …abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…,” it seems that “The People” can do as they please, as long as they have large Internet organizations behind them and lots of money.  And if there is pressure from supposedly liberal governments influencing them.

The Post went on to say, “Governments around the world are pushing Facebook to take town [sic] bigoted and other harmful content more quickly–or risk being banned themselves.”  Germany heavily fines social media if they run afoul of “The Enforcement on Social Networks Act” (Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz). Although it came into force October 1, 2017, social networks were given a three-month grace period to change their policies.  If criminal content, which can include hate speech, defamation, and fake news, isn’t removed within 24 hours of its being reported, social networks can face fines reaching €50 million (US$60 million).

Like in the United States, “hate speech” is in the eye (or ear) of the beholder, especially if it deals with illegal aliens, a sore subject in some countries.  This concept is probably the reason why Facebook and Twitter refused to advertise J. Michael Springmann’s book, Goodbye, Europe? Hello, Chaos? Merkel’s Migrant Bomb, an analysis of forced migration into Europe from American wars in the Middle East.

Conclusion

This all boils down to “political correctness” and lack of common sense.  And governmental power.  Allegedly liberal societies now engage in censorship–in the name of freedom of speech and political correctness.  But it’s really censorship and control of information that is the real objective.

The Encyclopedia Britannica notes “our perception of reality is determined by our thought processes, which are influenced by the language we use. In this way language shapes our reality and tells us how to think about and respond to that reality. Language also reveals and promotes our biases. Therefore, according to the [Sapir-Whorf] hypothesis, using sexist language promotes sexism and using racial language promotes racism.”

Clever people in well-placed governmental positions and their cats-paws in large corporations evidently have taken note of this linguistic mind control and are now implementing it on a grand scale.

Venezuela: Another Failed Coup Attempt

In the early morning hours of 30 April, 2019, the self-declared “Interim President”, Juan Guaidó, launched what at first sight appeared to be a military coup – Guaidó calls it “Operation Freedom” (sounds very much like a Washington-invented title) – against the democratically elected, legitimate government of Nicolas Maduro. With two dozen of defected armed military from the Carlota military base east of Caracas (not hundreds, or even thousands, as reported by the mainstream media), Guaidó went to free Leopoldo Lopez, the opposition leader, who was under house arrest, after his 13-year prison sentence for his role in the deadly 2014 anti-government protests, was commuted. They first called for a full military insurrection – which failed bitterly, as the vast majority of the armed forces are backing President Maduro and his government.

As reported straight from Caracas by geopolitical analyst, Dario Azzelli, Guaidó and López rallied from the Plaza Altamira, for the people of Venezuela to rise up and take to the streets to oust President Maduro. According to them, this was the ‘last phase’ of a peaceful coup to bring freedom and democracy back to Venezuela. The nefarious pair issued a video of their “battle cry” which they broadcast over the social media.

They mobilized a few hundred – again not thousands as pers SMS – right-wing middle to upper class protestors and marched towards the Presidential Palace. On the way, they were confronted by the Venezuelan Civil Guard with tear gas – not even the military had to intervene – and only few protestors reached Miraflores which was protectively surrounded by thousands of Chavistas. And that was basically the end of yet another failed coup.

Leopoldo López was seeking asylum in the Chilean Embassy which rejected him, and now, it looks like he found his refuge in the Spanish Embassy. This is a huge embarrassment and outright shame for Spain, especially after the Socialist Party, PSOE, just won the elections with 29%, though not enough to form a government by its own, but largely sufficient to call the shots as to whom should be granted asylum on their territory. Looks like fascism is still alive in Spain, if Pedro Sanchez is not able to reject a right-wing fascist opposition and illegal coup leader of Venezuela to gain refuge on Spain’s territory.

As to Guaidó, rumors have it that he found refuge in the Brazilian Embassy, though some reports say he is being protected by his Colombian friends. Both is possible, Bolsonaro and Duque are of same fascist kind, certainly ready to grant criminals – what Guaidó is – asylum.

What is important to know, though, is that throughout the day of the attempted coup, 30 April, the US State Department, in the person of the pompous Pompeo, accompanied by the National Security Advisor, John Bolton, kept threatening President Maduro in a press round. Pompeo directly menaced President Maduro, saying – “If they ask me if the US is prepared to consider military action [in Venezuela], if this is what is necessary to restore democracy in Venezuela, the President [Donald Trump] has been coherent and clear: The military option is available, if this is what we have to do.” – These threats are repeated throughout May 1 – day after the Venezuelan attempted coup defeat by both Pompeo and warrior Bolton.

Pompeo’s audacity didn’t stop there. He went as far as suggesting to President Maduro to flee to Cuba and leave his country to those that will bring back (sic) freedom and democracy.

Let’s be clear. Although this has been said before – it cannot be repeated enough for the world to understand. These outright war criminals in Washington are in flagrant violation of the UN Charter to which the US is – for good or for bad – a signatory.

UN Charter – Chapter I, Article 2 (4), says:

All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

We know that the White House, Pentagon and State Department have zero respect for the UN, and, in fact, use the international body for their purposes, manipulating and blackmailing its members into doing the bidding for the US. That is all known and has been documented. What is perhaps newer is that this is now happening, especially in the cases of Venezuela and Iran, openly, in unveiled flagrant disrespect of any international law, against bodies and sovereign countries that do not bend to the whims and will of the United States.

As a result of this open violation of the UN Charter by the world’s only rogue state, some 60 UN member nations, including Russia and China, have formed a solid shield against Washington’s aggressions. The group was created especially in defense of Venezuela, but is also there for Iran and other countries being aggressed and threatened by the US. Hence, the blatant blackmailing and manipulation of weaker UN member countries becomes more difficult.

To be sure, the Russian Foreign Ministry has immediately condemned the coup as illegal and warned the US of any military intervention. This is, of course, not the first time, but just to be sure – Russia is there, standing by her partner and friend, Venezuela.

This Guaidó–Lopez attempted coup was most certainly following instructions from Washington. Super-puppet Guaidó, US-groomed and trained, then self-declared “presidente interino”, would not dare do anything on his own initiative which might raise the wrath of his masters. But would the US – with all her secret services capacity – seriously launch a coup so ill-prepared that it is defeated in just a few hours with minimal intervention of Venezuelan forces? I doubt it.

What is it then, other than a planned failure? A new propaganda instrument, for the corporate MSM to run amok and tell all kinds of lies, convincing its complacent western public of the atrocities produced by the Maduro regime, the misery Venezuelan people must live, famine, disease without medication, oppression by dictatorship, torture, murder, whatever they can come up with. You meet any mainstream-groomed people in Europe and elsewhere, even well-educated people, people who call themselves ‘socialists’ and are leading figures in European socialist parties, they would tell you these same lies about misery caused by the Maduro regime.

How could that be if the Maduro Government doesn’t even arrest Juan Guaidó for his multiple crimes committed since January, when he self-proclaimed being the ‘interim president’ of Venezuela? Arresting him, for the coup attempts he initiated or was party to since his auto coronation to president. That’s what a dictator would do. That’s what the United States of America would have done a long time ago. Washington and its internal security apparatus would certainly not tolerate such illegal acts, and to top it off, foreign manipulated political illegality.

Why, for example, would the media not point out the real crimes of the US vassals of South America, like Colombia, where over 6 million people are internal and external refugees, where at least 240,000 peasants and human rights activists were massacred and many were burned by US-funded paramilitary groups, atrocities that are ongoing as of this day, despite the November 2016 signed  “Peace Agreement” between the then Santos Government and the FARC for which President Manuel Santos received the Nobel Peace Prize. Can you imagine!

What world are we living in? A world of everyday deceit and lies and highly paid lie-propaganda, paid with fake money – fake as in indiscriminately printed US-dollars – of which every new dollar is debt that will never be paid back (as openly admitted by former FEDs Chairman, Alan Greenspan); dollars that can be indiscriminately spent to produce the deadliest weapons, as well as for corporate media-propaganda lies – also a deadly weapon – to indoctrinate people around the globe into believing that evil is good, and that war is peace.

I have lost many friends by telling them off, by telling them the truth, the truth about Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, Syria – mostly to no avail. It’s actually no loss; it’s merely a repeated confirmation of how far the western society has been veered off the path of conscience into a comfort zone, where believing the propaganda lies of reputed media like The Guardian, NYT, WashPost, BBC, FAZ, Spiegel, Le Monde, Figaro, el País, ABC  and so on, is edifying. They are so convincing. They are so well-reputed and well-known. How could they lie? No loss, indeed.

Let’s stay on track, comrades. Venceremos!

40,000 Dead Venezuelans Under US Sanctions: Corporate Media Turn A Blind Eye

A new report on April 25 by a respected think tank has estimated that US sanctions imposed on Venezuela in August 2017 have caused around 40,000 deaths. This atrocity has been almost entirely blanked by the British ‘mainstream’ media, including BBC News. Additional sanctions imposed in January 2019 are likely to lead to tens of thousands of further deaths.

The report was co-authored by Mark Weisbrot and Jeffrey Sachs for the US-based Center for Economic and Policy Research. CEPR was founded in 1999 ‘to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people’s lives.’ Its advisory board includes Nobel Laureate economists Robert Solow and Joseph Stiglitz.

Weisbrot is Co-Director of CEPR and his expertise encompasses economic growth, trade, international financial institutions, development and Latin America. Sachs is a world-renowned economist and senior UN advisor with considerable knowledge of policies related to sustainable development and combatting poverty. Their credentials are impressive and the title of their report is damning: ‘U.S. Sanctions on Venezuela Are Responsible for Tens of Thousands of Deaths’.

The Trump administration imposed sanctions on Venezuela in August 2017. These prohibited the Venezuelan government from borrowing in US markets, thus preventing the country from restructuring its foreign debt. As the report made clear:

It is important to emphasize that nearly all of the foreign exchange that is needed to import medicine, food, medical equipment, spare parts and equipment needed for electricity generation, water systems, or transportation, is received by the Venezuelan economy through the government’s revenue from the export of oil. Thus, any sanctions that reduce export earnings, and therefore government revenue, thereby reduce the imports of these essential and, in many cases, life-saving goods.

The authors added:

The sanctions reduced the public’s caloric intake, increased disease and mortality (for both adults and infants), and displaced millions of Venezuelans who fled the country as a result of the worsening economic depression and hyperinflation. They exacerbated Venezuela’s economic crisis and made it nearly impossible to stabilize the economy, contributing further to excess deaths. All of these impacts disproportionately harmed the poorest and most vulnerable Venezuelans.

In January 2019, additional US sanctions cut Venezuela off from its largest oil market – the United States. Washington also intervened to pressure other countries, including India, not to buy Venezuelan oil that had been previously imported by the US. The consequences have been catastrophic. Amongst the report’s findings were:

• More than 40,000 deaths from 2017–18;
• Sanctions have reduced the availability of food and medicine, and increased disease and mortality;
• The August 2017 sanctions contributed to a sharp decline in oil production, causing great harm to the civilian population;
• If US sanctions implemented in January 2019 continue, they will almost certainly result in tens of thousands more avoidable deaths;
• This finding is based on an estimated 80,000 people with HIV who have not had antiretroviral treatment since 2017, 16,000 people who need dialysis, 16,000 people with cancer, and 4 million with diabetes and hypertension (many of whom cannot obtain insulin or cardiovascular medicine);
• Since the January 2019 sanctions, oil production has fallen by 431,000 barrels per day or 36.4 per cent. This will greatly accelerate the humanitarian crisis. But the projected 67 per cent decline in oil production for the year, if the sanctions continue, would cause vastly more loss of human life.

Weisbrot spelled out the enormity of punitive US policy towards Venezuela:

The sanctions are depriving Venezuelans of lifesaving medicines, medical equipment, food, and other essential imports. This is illegal under U.S. and international law, and treaties that the U.S. has signed. Congress should move to stop it.

Just as the corporate media blamed Saddam Hussein for the devastating impact of US-UK sanctions on Iraq which led to the deaths of over one million Iraqis between 1990 and 2003, ‘our free press’ are united in blaming Nicolás Maduro, the Venezuelan president, for the country’s economic and humanitarian crisis. The new CEPR report refutes that propaganda framework. Sachs emphasised:

Venezuela’s economic crisis is routinely blamed all on Venezuela. But it is much more than that. American sanctions are deliberately aiming to wreck Venezuela’s economy and thereby lead to regime change [our emphasis]. It’s a fruitless, heartless, illegal, and failed policy, causing grave harm to the Venezuelan people.

The report highlights that:

The pain and suffering being inflicted upon the civilian population may not be collateral damage but actually part of the strategy to topple the government.

Indeed, Weisbrot and Sachs make the devastating point that sanctions:

would fit the definition of collective punishment of the civilian population as described in both the Geneva and Hague international conventions, to which the US is a signatory.

In a sane political and media world, this would be headline news.

Media Response?

So, what has been the media response to such a damning report by two authoritative experts? In fact, with a single exception, US and UK ‘mainstream’ newspapers have simply turned a blind eye. This lack of coverage is especially ironic in the case of the Guardian. As journalist John McEvoy, a regular contributor to The Canary, pointed out:

In an editorial [in 2008] the @guardian praised CEPR as a “a professional thorn in the side of orthodoxy” & claimed “in a world of Goliaths, CEPR makes a rather effective David”. Yet it has said nothing of CEPR’s recent study holding US sanctions responsible for 40,000 deaths in Venezuela.

We challenged BBC News via Twitter to cover the important new CEPR report implicating US policy in the deaths of over 40,000 Venezuelans:

What are the odds that @BBCNews will push this as their lead story, with major coverage on #BBCNewsTen from one of their big-name reporters? #Venezuela

There has been no BBC coverage, as far as we can see. Online, we found a brief mention in an article by the ‘mainstream’ press agency, Agence France-Presse: it was buried in the final three paragraphs of a 25-paragraph piece. Exceptions to the ‘norm’ of shameful, power-friendly silence were found in media outlets that we are supposed to ignore or disparage in the West: RT, Sputnik International, TeleSur English, Venezuela Analysis, amongst others.

Imagine if Russian policy had been responsible for a similar number of deaths in another country, with tens of thousands more lives at risk in the months to come. The headlines and in-depth coverage here would be incessant. The Russian ambassador in London would be given a stern dressing-down by the UK Foreign Secretary. There would be calls at Westminster from all parties to condemn Putin in the strongest possible terms. There would be global demands for the UN to intervene. The ideological discipline required to ignore such a major crime under Western policy is remarkable, but entirely standard in the corporate media system; as Noam Chomsky has long observed.

The independent journalist Caitlin Johnstone summed up:

To be clear, this unforgivable atrocity rests predominantly on the shoulders of the Trump administration. […] Imagine if Trump deployed a barrage of Tomahawk missiles onto the most impoverished parts of a densely populated city in Venezuela, then hearing anyone say “Well Maduro actually exploded those people, because he wouldn’t do what we told him to do.” […] Sanctions are a slower and more gruelling weapon of war than bombs and missiles, but they’re vastly superior when it comes to the matter of keeping the public asleep through depraved acts of mass slaughter.

As ever, the corporate media is doing its required job of keeping the public in a state of ignorance, or acquiescence, regarding the crimes of the West. ‘When truth is replaced by silence,’ the Soviet dissident Yevgeny Yevtushenko once said, ‘the silence is a lie.’ As John Pilger noted in 2004, following the invasion and occupation of Iraq:

He might have been referring to the silence over the devastating effects of the embargo. It is a silence that casts journalists as accessories, just as their silence contributed to an illegal and unprovoked invasion of a defenceless country.