Category Archives: United Nations

Venezuela: US Attack Imminent?

Imagine, the President of the self-declared, exceptional and unique Superpower, Donald Trump of the United States of America, has the audacity to threaten the Venezuelan military with their lives, if they keep standing behind the democratically elected President Nicolás Maduro, and defending his Government. An open threat – yesterday, 18 February, at a Miami University, in a speech of ‘fire and fury’; this time against socialist Venezuela with which he wants to finish, like with all other socialist nations – especially those in his ‘backyard’. So, Cuba, Nicaragua and Bolivia are next in Trump’s crosshairs – and / or the crosshairs of his handlers. Don’t forget, he is a staged and convenient fool for the “Deep State” or the “Profound Government” – whatever you want to call this secret clan of the Chosen People that intends to rule the world.

I cannot help being amazed at what level of inhumanity we have arrived. Trump calls openly out to assassinate those who stand behind the legitimate President of Venezuela – and the rest of the world just looks on, watches and says NOTHING – zilch, zero – tolerates such atrocity coming from the mouth of a buffoon, aka the strongman of the self-proclaimed one and only superpower of the globe. No, much worse – the so-called civilized west, the European Union, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan – and some second and third class puppet developing countries from South America, whose people are being starved while the elite admires and dances to the tune of the USA; united in what they call the “Group of Lima” (created in Lima in August 2017, to “save” Venezuela). Members include, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay and Peru.

In the meantime, Mexico, under her new leftwing President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, or simply, AMLO, abstains from any decision against Venezuela. To the contrary, Mexico is part of the “Montevideo Mechanism” that comprises Mexico, Uruguay, Bolivia and the member countries of CARICOM and seeks conflict resolution through dialogue with the opposition, for which the Maduro Government has been ready from the beginning of the conflict, but which has been boycotted by the opposition, as were the 20 May 2018 elections which the non-participating opposition now calls a fraud.

The Lima Group was initiated, as such unofficial clubs always are, to out-rule the official routes, by Washington. Similarly, Washington created “The Friends of Syria” – all with the objective to bring about “Regime Change”. In the case of Venezuela, to circumvent the official representation of the Americas – the OAS – Organization of American States. Why? Because the empire was unable to get the legitimate majority of the OAS members to side with them against Venezuela. So, they organized the Lima Group, a club of the willing, of the utmost corrupted vassals, who believe at the end of the days to receive some crumbs of ‘gracias’ from their northern master and tyrant or the vassals’ leaders (sic) hope perhaps for a safe haven, a castle in Miami?

I often wonder whether such a dream of eventually, at the end of the day – the end of all days perhaps? – being saved by the surviving elite of the US of A in an untouched paradise, is also the dream of the European puppets, for example, those that pull the EU’s strings – the Macrons, Merkels and Mays – and, of course, the rest of the EU, the puppets of the puppets? What else could make them so miserably betray their people, hundreds of millions of people? Do they have not an iota of morals left?

Coming back to Venezuela, the Buffoon calls for outright war against the Maduro regime and to salvage the Venezuelan people, he sent US$ 20 million worth of “humanitarian aid” to Cucutá, border town in Colombia, which, of course, the Bolivarian army does not let enter Venezuela. There is no need for humanitarian aid, let alone for US$ 20 million worth, peanuts, as compared to what Venezuela buys on a daily basis in food and medical supplies.

Undeniably, the US warmongers – specially Bolton, Pompeo and Pence – are preparing for a hot war. Whether they will execute it, remains to be seen. But the Bolivarian military does not idly watch what may happen. They are ready to face any Yankee aggression. The US southern military command, SOUTHCOM, stationed in Florida, is preparing an impressive military build-up. The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, with 3,200 military personnel, 90 fighter planes and helicopters is positioned off the Florida coast, accompanied by the cruise missile carrier, USS Leyte Gulf, and the destroyers, USS Bainbridge, USS Gonzalez, USS Mason, and USS Nite. Joining the fleet is also the Spanish marine ship ESPS Mendez Nuñez.

The Spanish participation in this war game of criminal aggression is outrageous. The Spanish socialist leader, Pedro Sanchez (who certainly does not deserve the attribute of ‘socialist’), has also had the audacity requesting Nicolas Maduro to resign and call elections. Who is the (faltering) head of the fallen Spanish empire to meddle in another country’s internal affairs? Maybe because the Spaniards can still not stomach having been defeated by Simón Bolívar, still feel superior and behave racist over the ‘brown’ Latinos, or maybe because he wants to please the masters in Washington or simply because he needs popular support in his own country, as he is leading a minority, currently non-government and had to call snap elections for 28 April 2019?

There are, however, also Russia and China, solid, but rather quiet partners of Venezuela’s. Russia has made it clear, though, “Don’t mess with Venezuela”. Russia has two nuclear capable bombers, TU-160, deployed to the Venezuelan Caribbean island of la Orchila, where Moscow will establish, with the agreement of Venezuela, a permanent military base.

Both Russia and China have tens of billions worth of investments in Venezuela’s hydrocarbon industry. But besides the commercial interests, Russia and China vie for a multipolar world and want to guarantee the independence of Latin America, the sovereignty of the peoples of the Americas.

On 26 January 2019, the US dragged the “Case Venezuela” to the UN Security Council, in an attempt to condemn Venezuela and to trailblaze the path for a military invasion. However, while nine of the 15 UNSC members voted for a special meeting on Venezuela (Belgium, Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Kuwait, Peru, Poland, United Kingdom, United States), four voted against (China, Equatorial Guinea, Russian Federation, South Africa), with two abstentions (Côte d’Ivoire, Indonesia). The Russian Federation’s delegate countered that the Council has no role to play in a domestic matter that poses no threat to international peace and security. And right he is!

This UNSC event prompted a solidarity movement of more than 50 states, including China, Russia, Cuba, DPRK, Syria, Iran, Palestine, Nicaragua, and many more, supporting Venezuelan’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza’s statement before the Security Council, declaring the illegality of unilateral coercive economic sanctions, and territorial invasions by the United States. As Carla Stea reports, this new alliance “constitutes a formidable force which Western capitalism will antagonize at its own peril. This is a long overdue counterforce to Western domination of the United Nations, a domination based on money, on the large payments enabling the US and other capitalist powers to bribe, threaten and otherwise control the direction of the UN, and distort and destroy the independence, impartiality and integrity which the UN requires in order to maintain its legitimacy, and implement the sustained global peace and justice for which Franklin Delano Roosevelt created it.”

This new alignment of more than 50 states comprise more than half of the world’s population, to a large extent people who have been exploited, slaughtered and their countries raped and ravaged for hundreds of years by western capitalist and colonialist powers. This alliance promises to become a solid new face in the otherwise western dominated and bought United Nations.

As to Venezuela’s fate, Trump has made vague indications of 23 February being the deadline for an assault on Venezuela. We will see whether this remains nothing but an intimidating insinuation, or whether it will be real. The latter case would be a disaster not only for Venezuela, and Latin America, but for the entire world. Will Trump’s handlers allow such blunder? In any case, Venezuela’s armed forces are disposed to confront the empire’s nuclear aircraft carrier, missile launchers, countless fighter planes and the up to 5,000 US troops and mercenaries newly stationed in Colombia and ready to cross the border into Venezuela. And, not to forget, there are also Russia and China.

What the Press Hides From You About Venezuela

Introduction

This news-report is being submitted to all U.S. and allied news-media, and is being published by all honest ones, in order to inform you of crucial facts that the others — the dishonest ones, who hide such crucial facts — are hiding about Venezuela. These are facts that have received coverage only in one single British newspaper: the Independent, which published a summary account of them on January 26th. That newspaper’s account will be excerpted here at the end, but first will be highlights from its topic, the official report to the U.N. General Assembly in August of last year, which has been covered-up ever since. This is why that report’s author has now gone to the Independent, desperate to get the story out, finally, to the public:

The Covered Up Document

On 3 August 2018, the U.N.’s General Assembly received the report from the U.N. Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, concerning his mission to Venezuela and Ecuador. His recent travel through both countries focused on “how best to enhance the enjoyment of all human rights by the populations of both countries.” He “noted the eradication of illiteracy, free education from primary school to university, and programmes to reduce extreme poverty, provide housing to the homeless and vulnerable, phase out privilege and discrimination, and extend medical care to everyone.” He noted “that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and Ecuador, both devote around 70 per cent of their national budgets to social services.” However, (and here, key paragraphs from the report are now quoted):

22. Observers have identified errors committed by the Chávez and Maduro Governments, noting that there are too many ideologues and too few technocrats in public administration, resulting in government policies that lack coherence and professional management and discourage domestic investment, already crippled by inefficiency and corruption, which extend to government officials, transnational corporations and entrepreneurs. Critics warn about the undue influence of the military on government and on the running of enterprises like Petróleos de Venezuela. The lack of regular, publicly available data on nutrition, epidemiology and inflation are said to complicate efforts to provide humanitarian support.

23. Meanwhile, the Attorney General, Tarek Saab, has launched a vigorous anticorruption campaign, investigating the links between Venezuelan enterprises and tax havens, contracting scams, and deals by public officials with Odebrecht. It is estimated that corruption in the oil industry has cost the Government US$ 4.8 billion. The Attorney General’s Office informed the Independent Expert of pending investigations for embezzlement and extortion against 79 officials of Petróleos de Venezuela, including 22 senior managers. The Office also pointed to the arrest of two high-level oil executives, accused of money-laundering in Andorra. The Ministry of Justice estimates corruption losses at some US$ 15 billion. Other stakeholders, in contrast, assert that anti-corruption programmes are selective and have not sufficiently targeted State institutions, including the military.

29. Over the past sixty years, non-conventional economic wars have been waged against Cuba, Chile, Nicaragua, the Syrian Arab Republic and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in order to make their economies fail, facilitate regime change and impose a neo-liberal socioeconomic model. In order to discredit selected governments, failures in the field of human rights are maximized so as to make violent overthrow more palatable. Human rights are being “weaponized” against rivals. Yet, human rights are the heritage of every human being and should never be instrumentalized as weapons of demonization.

30. The principles of non-intervention and non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign States belong to customary international law and have been reaffirmed in General Assembly resolutions, notably [a list is supplied].

31. In its judgment of 27 June 1986 concerning Nicaragua v. United States, the International Court of Justice quoted from [U.N.] resolution 2625 (XXV): “no State shall organize, assist, foment, finance, incite or tolerate subversive, terrorist or armed activities directed towards the violent overthrow of the regime of another State, or interfere in civil strife in another State”.

36. The effects of sanctions imposed by Presidents Obama and Trump and unilateral measures by Canada and the European Union have directly and indirectly aggravated the shortages in medicines such as insulin and anti-retroviral drugs. To the extent that economic sanctions have caused delays in distribution and thus contributed to many deaths, sanctions contravene the human rights obligations of the countries imposing them. Moreover, sanctions can amount to crimes against humanity under Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. An investigation by that Court would be appropriate, but the geopolitical submissiveness of the Court may prevent this.

37. Modern-day economic sanctions and blockades are comparable with medieval sieges of towns with the intention of forcing them to surrender. Twenty-first century sanctions attempt to bring not just a town, but sovereign countries to their knees. A difference, perhaps, is that twenty-first century sanctions are accompanied by the manipulation of public opinion through “fake news”, aggressive public relations and a pseudo-human rights rhetoric so as to give the impression that a human rights “end” justifies the criminal means.

39. Economic asphyxiation policies are comparable to those already practised in Chile, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Nicaragua and the Syrian Arab Republic. In January 2018, Middle East correspondent of The Financial Times and The Independent, Patrick Cockburn, wrote on the sanctions affecting Syria:

There is usually a pretence that foodstuffs and medical equipment are being allowed through freely and no mention is made of the financial and other regulatory obstacles making it impossible to deliver them. An example of this is the draconian sanctions imposed on Syria by the US and EU which were meant to target President Bashar al-Assad and help remove him from power. They have wholly failed to do this, but a UN internal report leaked in 2016 shows all too convincingly the effect of the embargo in stopping the delivery of aid by international aid agencies. They cannot import the aid despite waivers because banks and commercial companies dare not risk being penalised for having anything to do with Syria. The report quotes a European doctor working in Syria as saying that “the indirect effect of sanctions … makes the import of the medical instruments and other medical supplies immensely difficult, near impossible”.

In short: economic sanctions kill.

41. Bearing in mind that Venezuelan society is polarized, what is most needed is dialogue between the Government and the opposition, and it would be a noble task on the part of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to offer his good offices for such a dialogue. Yet, opposition leaders Antonio Ledezma and Julio Borges, during a trip through Europe to denounce the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, called for further sanctions as well as a military “humanitarian intervention”.

44. Although the situation in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has not yet reached the humanitarian crisis threshold, there is hunger, malnutrition, anxiety, anguish and emigration. What is crucial is to study the causes of the crisis, including neglected factors of sanctions, sabotage, hoarding, black market activities, induced inflation and contraband in food and medicines. 

45. The “crisis” in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is an economic crisis, which cannot be compared with the humanitarian crises in Gaza, Yemen, Libya, the Syrian Arab Republic, Iraq, Haiti, Mali, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Somalia, or Myanmar, among others. It is significant that when, in 2017, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela requested medical aid from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the plea was rejected, because it ”is still a high-income country … and as such is not eligible”.

46. It is pertinent to recall the situation in the years prior to the election of Hugo Chávez. 118 Corruption was ubiquitous and in 1993, President Carlos Pérez was removed because of embezzlement. The Chávez election in 1998 reflected despair with the corruption and neo-liberal policies of the 1980s and 1990s, and rejection of the gulf between the super-rich and the abject poor.

47. Participatory democracy in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, called “protagónica”, is anchored in the Constitution of 1999 and relies on frequent elections and referendums. During the mission, the Independent Expert exchanged views with the Electoral Commission and learned that in the 19 years since Chávez, 25 elections and referendums had been conducted, 4 of them observed by the Carter Center. The Independent Expert met with the representative of the Carter Center in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, who recalled Carter’s positive assessment of the electoral system. They also discussed the constitutional objections raised by the opposition to the referendum held on 30 July 2017, resulting in the creation of a Constitutional Assembly. Over 8 million Venezuelans voted in the referendum, which was accompanied by international observers, including from the Council of Electoral Specialists of Latin America. 

48. An atmosphere of intimidation accompanied the mission, attempting to pressure the Independent Expert into a predetermined matrix. He received letters from NGOs asking him not to proceed because he was not the “relevant” rapporteur, and almost dictating what should be in the report. Weeks before his arrival, some called the mission a “fake investigation”. Social media insults bordered on “hate speech” and “incitement”. Mobbing before, during and after the mission bore a resemblance to the experience of two American journalists who visited the country in July 2017. Utilizing platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, critics questioned the Independent Expert’s integrity and accused him of bias, demonstrating a culture of intransigence and refusal to accept the duty of an independent expert to be neutral, objective, dispassionate and to apply his expertise free of external pressures.

67. The Independent Expert recommends that the General Assembly: (g) Invoke article 96 of the Charter of the United Nations and refer the following questions to the International Court of Justice: Can unilateral coercive measures be compatible with international law? Can unilateral coercive measures amount to crimes against humanity when a large number of persons perish because of scarcity of food and medicines? What reparations are due to the victims of sanctions? Do sanctions and currency manipulations constitute geopolitical crimes? (h) Adopt a resolution along the lines of the resolutions on the United States embargo against Cuba, declaring the sanctions against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela contrary to international law and human rights law.

70. The Independent Expert recommends that the International Criminal Court investigate the problem of unilateral coercive measures that cause death from malnutrition, lack of medicines and medical equipment.

72. The Independent Expert recommends that, until the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court address the lethal outcomes of economic wars and sanctions regimes, the Permanent Peoples Tribunal, the Russell Tribunal and the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission undertake the task so as to facilitate future judicial pronouncements.

On January 26th, Britain’s Independent headlined “Venezuela crisis: Former UN rapporteur says US sanctions are killing citizens“, and Michael Selby-Green reported that:

The first UN rapporteur to visit Venezuela for 21 years has told The Independent the US sanctions on the country are illegal and could amount to “crimes against humanity” under international law.

Former special rapporteur Alfred de Zayas, who finished his term at the UN in March, has criticized the US for engaging in “economic warfare” against Venezuela which he said is hurting the economy and killing Venezuelans.

The comments come amid worsening tensions in the country after the US and UK have backed Juan Guaido, who appointed himself “interim president” of Venezuela as hundreds of thousands marched to support him.

The US Treasury has not responded to a request for comment on Mr de Zayas’s allegations of the effects of the sanctions programme.

US sanctions prohibit dealing in currencies issued by the Venezuelan government. They also target individuals, and stop US-based companies or people from buying and selling new debt issued by PDVSA or the government.

The US has previously defended its sanctions on Venezuela, with a senior US official saying in 2018: “The fact is that the greatest sanction on Venezuelan oil and oil production is called Nicolas Maduro, and PDVSA’s inefficiencies,” referring to the state-run oil body, Petroleos de Venezuela, SA.

Mr De Zayas’s findings are based on his late-2017 mission to the country and interviews with 12 Venezuelan government minsters, opposition politicians, 35 NGOs working in the country, academics, church officials, activists, chambers of commerce and regional UN agencies.

The US imposed new sanctions against Venezuela on 9 March 2015, when President Barack Obama issued executive order 13692, declaring the country a threat to national security.

The sanctions have since intensified under Donald Trump, who has also threatened military invasion and discussed a coup.

Despite being the first UN official to visit and report from Venezuela in 21 years, Mr de Zayas said his research into the causes of the country’s economic crisis has so far largely been ignored by the UN and the media, and caused little debate within the Human Rights Council.

He believes his report has been ignored because it goes against the popular narrative that Venezuela needs regime change.

The then UN high commissioner, Zeid Raad Al Hussein1, reportedly refused to meet Mr de Zayas after the visit, and the Venezuela desk of the UN Human Rights Council also declined to help with his work after his return despite being obliged to do so, Mr de Zayas claimed.

Ivan Briscoe, Latin America and Caribbean programme director for Crisis Group, an international NGO, told The Independent that Venezuela is a polarising subject. … Briscoe is critical of Mr de Zayas’s report because it highlights US economic warfare but in his view neglects to mention the impact of a difficult business environment in the country. … Briscoe acknowledged rising tensions and the likely presence of US personnel operating covertly in the country.

Eugenia Russian, president of FUNDALATIN, one of the oldest human rights NGOs in Venezuela, founded in 1978 before the Chavez and Maduro governments and with special consultative status at the UN, spoke to The Independent on the significance of the sanctions.

“In contact with the popular communities, we consider that one of the fundamental causes of the economic crisis in the country is the effect that the unilateral coercive sanctions that are applied in the economy, especially by the government of the United States,” Ms Russian said.

She said there may also be causes from internal errors, but said probably few countries in the world have suffered an “economic siege” like the one Venezuelans are living under.

In his report, Mr de Zayas expressed concern that those calling the situation a “humanitarian crisis” are trying to justify regime change and that human rights are being “weaponised” to discredit the government and make violent overthrow more “palatable”….

Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world and an abundance of other natural resources including gold, bauxite and coltan. But under the Maduro government they’re not easily accessible to US and transnational corporations.

US oil companies had large investments in Venezuela in the early 20th century but were locked out after Venezuelans voted to nationalise the industry in 1973.

Other than readers of that single newspaper, where has the public been able to find these facts? If the public can have these facts hidden from them, then how much trust should the public reasonably have in the government, and in the news-media?

• Here is the garbage that a reader comes to, who is trying to find online Mr. de Zayas’s report on this matter:  As intended, the document remains effectively hidden to the present day. Perhaps the U.N. needs to be replaced and located in Venezuela, Iran, or some other country that’s targeted for take-over by the people who effectively own the United States Government and control the U.N.’s bureaucracy. The hiding of this document was done not only by the press but by the U.N. itself.

• On January 23rd, Germany’s Die Zeit headlined “Christoph Flügge: ‘I am deeply disturbed’: The U.N. International Criminal Court Judge Christoph Flügge Accuses Western Nations of Threatening the Independence of the Judges“. Flügge especially cited U.S. President Trump’s agent, John Bolton. That same day, the Democratic Party and Labour Party organ, Britain’s Guardian, bannered “International criminal court: UN court judge quits The Hague citing political interference“. This news-report said that, “A senior judge has resigned from one of the UN’s international courts in The Hague citing ‘shocking’ political interference from the White House and Turkey.” The judge especially criticised Bolton: “The American security adviser held his speech at a time when The Hague was planning preliminary investigations into American soldiers who had been accused of torturing people in Afghanistan. The American threats against international judges clearly show the new political climate. It is shocking. I had never heard such a threat.” Flügge said that the judges on the court had been “stunned” that “the US would roll out such heavy artillery”. Flügge told the Guardian: “It is consistent with the new American line: ‘We are No 1 and we stand above the law’.”)

• On February 6th, a former UK Ambassador to Syria vented at an alt-news site, 21st Century Wire (since he couldn’t get any of the major-media sites to publish it), “A Guide to Decoding the Doublespeak on Syria“, and he brazenly exposed there the Doublespeak-Newspeak that the U.S. Government and press (what he called America’s “frothing neocons and their liberal interventionist fellow travellers”) apply in order to report the ‘news’ about Syria. So: how can the public, in a country such as the U.S., democratically control the Government, if the government and its press are lying to them, like that, all the time, and so routinely?)

  1. Zeid Raad Al Hussein, who “reportedly refused to meet Mr de Zayas after the visit,” is Prince Zeid Raad Al Hussein, a Jordanian Prince. Jordan is a vassal-state in the U.S. empire. But Prince Hussein is a Jordanian diplomat who served as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2014 to 2018 — hardly an unbiased or independent person in such a supposedly nonpartisan role.

Venezuela: The Straw that Breaks the Empire’s Back?

Venezuela in the limelight on practically all the written, audio and visual mainstream media, as well as alternative media. A purposeful constant drip of outright lies and half-truths, “fake news”, as well as misleading information of all shades and hues about Venezuela is drumming our brains, slowly bending our minds towards believing that – yes, the US has a vital interest in meddling in Venezuela and bringing about “regime change”, because of primarily, the huge reserves of oil, but also of gold, coltan and other rare minerals; and, finally, simply because Washington needs full control of its “backyard”. BUT, and yes, there is a huge BUT, as even some of the respected progressive alternative media pretend to know: amidst all that recognition of the AngloZionist empire’s evil hands in Venezuela, their ‘but’ claims that Venezuela, specifically Presidents Chavez and now Maduro, are not blameless in their ‘economic chaos’. This distorts already the entire picture and serves the empire and all those who are hesitant because they have no clue, whom to support in this antagonistic US attempt for regime change.

For example, one alternative news article starts:

It is true that some of Venezuela’s economic problems are due to the ineptitudes of the Bolivarian government’s “socialist command” economy, but this overlooks the role played by the United States, the United Nations, and the European Union…

Bingo, with such a low-blow beginning, the uninformed reader is already primed to ‘discount’ much of the interference by Washington and its minions. Some of the-so-called progressive writers have already been brain-smeared, by calling Nicolás Maduro a “dictator”, when, in fact, there is hardly any country farther away from a dictatorship than Venezuela.

In the last 20 years and since Comandante Hugo Chavez Frias was first elected in 1998 and came to power in 1999, Venezuela had another 25 fully democratic elections, of which 6 took place in the last year and a half. They were all largely observed by the US based Carter Institute, the Latin American CELAC, some were even watched by the European Union (EU), the very vassal states that are now siding with Washington in calling President Maduro an illegitimate dictator and instead, they support the real illegitimate, never elected, US-CIA trained and appointed, Juan Guaidó. Former President Carter once said of all the elections he and his Institute observed, the ones in Venezuela were by far the most transparent and democratic ones. By September 2017, the Carter Center had observed 104 elections in 39 countries.

Despite this evidence, Washington-paid and corrupted AngloZionist MSM are screaming and spreading lies, ‘election fraud’; and Nicolás Maduro is illegal, a dictator, oppressing his people, depriving them of food and medication, sowing famine – he has to go. Such lies are repeated ad nauseam. In a world flooded by pyramid-dollars (fake money), the presstitute media have no money problem. Dollars, the funding source for the massive lie-propaganda, are just printed as debt, never to be repaid again. So, why worry? The same Zionists who control the media also control the western money machines; i.e., the FED, Wall Street, the BIS (Bank for International Settlement, the so-called Central bank of central banks), the European Central Bank, the Bank of England and the banks of London. The western public, armchair warriors, all the way to caviar socialists, believe these lies. That’s how our unqualified brains apparently work.

A recent independent poll found that 86% of all Venezuelans, including from the opposition, want no interference by the US and her puppet allies, but want to remain a sovereign state, deciding themselves on how to resolve their internal problem – economics and otherwise.

Let me tell you something. If Mr. Maduro would be a dictator – and all the diabolical adjectives that he is smeared with were to apply, he would have long ago stopped the western propaganda machine, which is the western controlled media in Venezuela; they control 90% of the news in Venezuela. But he didn’t and doesn’t, because he believes in freedom of speech and freedom of the ‘media’ even if the “media” are really nothing more than abject western lie-machine presstitutes. Mr. Maduro is generous enough not to close them down – which any dictator – of which there are now many in Latin America (take your pick: Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Guatemala, Honduras….) would have done long ago.

*****

From the very beginning, when Hugo Chavez was first elected in 1998, Washington attempted to topple him to bring about “régime change”. The first real coup attempt took place on 11 April 2002. Under full command by Washington, Chavez was ousted for less than 2 days, when an on-swell of people and the vast majority of the military requested his reinstatement. Chavez was brought back from his island seclusion and, thus, the directly Washington-led coup d’état was defeated (“The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”). But the pressure mounted with economic sanctions becoming ever bolder and, in the case of Venezuela, they had severe economic and humanitarian impacts because Venezuela imports close to 90% of her food and medication – still today – and most of it from the US.

Both Chavez and Maduro had very little leeway of doing differently what they have already done. Sanctions, boycotts, outside money manipulations, driving inflation to astronomical levels and constant smear propaganda, these predicaments are biting hard. The US has a firm grip on Venezuela’s dollar dependency.

Last week, Washington confiscated about US$ 23 billion of Venezuela’s reserve money in US banks, blocked them from use by the legitimate Maduro government, and, instead, handed them to their US-appointed, puppet, never elected, “president”, Juan Guaidó.  He is now able to use Venezuela’s money in his US-EU-and Lima-Group supported “shadow” government. Will he dare?  I don’t think so. However, he has already invited US petrol companies to come to Venezuela and invest in and take over the petrol industry. Of course, it will not happen, as President Maduro stays in power, firmly backed by the military.

All of this sounds like a bad joke. Did you ever hear of Juan Guaidó, before the US and her European vassals almost unanimously and obediently aped Washington in supporting him?

Likewise, the Bank of England withheld 1.2 billion dollars’ worth of Venezuelan reserve gold, refusing to respond to the Maduro Government’s request to return the gold to Caracas. Both cases represent an extreme breach of confidence. Up to now, it was ethically, commercially and financially unthinkable that reserve money and gold deposited in foreign banks would not be safe from hooligan theft – because that’s what it is, what the US is doing, stealing other countries’ money that was deposited in good faith in their banks.

In a recent interview with RT, President Maduro said there was absolutely no need for “humanitarian aid”, as the UN suggested, prompted by the US. This so-called humanitarian aid has everywhere in the world only served to infiltrate ‘foreign and destabilizing’ elements into countries, just look at Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, to name just a few. While the US$ 23 billion blocked in New York banks could have supplied Venezuela with 20 years-worth of medication for the Venezuelan people, Maduro asserted, Venezuela has enough liquidity to feed and medicate her people.

However, what this latest Trump plunder (the money and gold confiscation) does, is hammering one more nail in the western monetary system’s suicide coffin. It sends an ever-clearer signal to the rest of the world, to those that haven’t noticed yet, the AngloZionist empire cannot – I repeat – CANNOT – be trusted. Ever. And the European Union is intrinsically and “vassalically” linked to the Washington rogue state – not to be trusted either. There is virtually no circumstance under which a country’s assets in western foreign lands – as bank deposits, or foreign investments – are safe. It will prompt a move away from the dollar system, away from the western (also entirely privately-owned) SWFT international transfer system by which sanctions can be enacted.

Indeed, the Russia and China and much of the SCO (Shanghai Organization Cooperation) members are no longer dealing in US dollars but in their own currencies. We are talking about half the world’s population broke free from the dollar hegemony. Europe has started a half-assed attempt to circumvent the dollar and SWIFT system for dealing with Iran. Europe’s special purpose vehicle, or SPV, is called INSTEX — short for Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges. It is a project of Germany, France and the UK, suspiciously chaired by the latter, to be endorsed by all 28 EU members.

It aims in a first instance at shipping “humanitarian aid” to Iran. Similarly, to Venezuela, Iran’s foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, after learning about the details, considered the conditions of INSTEX as insulting and rejected any dealings with Europe under this system. Iran, he said, does not need “humanitarian aid”, not from Europe, not from anybody. In the meantime, what was to be expected, has already happened. The Trump Administration issued a stern warning of “sanctions” to the EU, if they would attempt to deal with Iran outside of the dollar system. Europe is likely caving in, as they always do.

*****

Back in Venezuela, the NED (National Endowment for Democracy), the extended arm of the CIA, has, for the last two decades, trained funded and infiltrated ‘traitor’ agents into Venezuela, with the goal to assist the opposition to foment unrest, to carry out assassinations and other ‘false flags’, and to simply create chaos and unrest. However, some of these agents are also lodged in Venezuela’s financial institutions, as the Fifth Column, where they sabotage – often with threats – any economic policies that could rescue Venezuela from its economic predicament.

In June 2017, I was privileged to be a member of an economic advisory team to Mr. Maduro. During three days of intense discussions with government, a number of potential short- medium and long-term solutions emerged. They were well received by Mr. Maduro and his economic team. What became of these recommendations?  Well, maybe there are strong foreign-directed forces at play to prevent their implementation.

Clearly, any accusation that the Maduro Government may bear the blame for some of the economic chaos, have to be vigorously rejected. Mr. Maduro has very little space to maneuver the economy other than what he is already doing. His actions are severely limited by the ever-stronger squeeze by western claws.

With or without Venezuela’s new crypto currency, the oil-based Petro, the Venezuelan economy, including a major proportion of her imports, is strongly linked to the US dollar. With military threats and sanctions left and right, there is little that the Government can do in the immediate future to become autonomous. Yes, Russia and especially China will most likely help with balance of payment support loans, with investments in the oil industry to ease Venezuela’s US-dollar debt burden and vamp up oil production; and in the medium and longer run they may also help boost Venezuela’s agricultural sector towards 100% food self-sufficiency.

What is the real reason, you may ask, behind Trump’s intense ‘coup d’état’ attempt – aka, Bolton, Pompeo and Elliott Abrams (the ‘regime change’ envoy), or the diabolical troika’s killer mission?

  • Is it oil and other natural riches, like gold, coltan, diamonds and many more rare minerals? Venezuela with some 301,000 MMbbl (billions of barrels) of known reserves has about 12% more hydrocarbon reserves than Saudi Arabia. Shipping from the Gulf to Texas refineries takes 40-45 days and the risk of passing through the Iran-controlled strait of Hormuz. Delivering oil from Venezuela to Texas takes some 2-4 days.
  • Is it that Venezuela committed a mortal sin when circumventing the petro-dollar, when trading her hydrocarbons, notably with China and Russia in other currencies, like the gold-convertible yuan? – Remember, Saddam Hussein and Muamar Gadhafi attempted similar dollar-escaping actions – and look what it brought them. The US-dollar hegemony depends very much on oil and gas trade in US dollars, as per an agreement of the seventies between the US and Saudi Arabia, head of OPEC.
  • Is it that Washington cannot tolerate any socialist or socialist leaning country in its “backyard”?  Cuba and Nicaragua beware!
  • Is Venezuela a crucial stepping stone to fully dominate Latin America and her resources?  And, hence, a step closer to ‘full power dominance’ of the world?
  • Or all of the above?

I believe it’s all of the above, with a strong accent on Venezuela’s abandoning the US-dollar as hydrocarbon trading currency – putting the dollar-hegemony even more at risk. Once the dollar ceases to be the main reserve currency, the US economy will slowly collapse – what it is already doing. Twenty years ago, the US-dollar dominated world reserve coffers with about 90%. Today that proportion has sunk to less than 60%. The dollar is rapidly being replaced by other currencies, notably the Chinese yuan.

Now let’s cut to the chase.  It is clear that the Trump Administration with these stupid actions of dishing out sanctions left and right, punishing allies and foes alike, if they deal with Russia, Iran, or Venezuela – and this special blunt regime change aggression in Venezuela, nominating a 35 year old US puppet, trained in the US by CIA as Venezuela’s new ‘interim president’, confiscating Venezuela’s reserve assets in New York and London, stopping importing petrol from Venezuela and punishing anybody who imports Venezuelan oil except, of course, Russia and China. The ‘might’ of the US stops short of interfering in these non-dollar deals. With these and more ridiculous actions and military threats, Washington is actually not only isolating itself, but is accelerating the fall of the US economy. Ever more countries are seeking alternative ways of doing business with currencies and monetary systems other than the dollar-based fraudulent SWIFT, and eventually they will succeed. All they need to do is joining the China-Russia-SCO system of transfer in their local currencies and the currencies of the eastern SCO block and dedollarization is moving a step further ahead.

Dedollarization is the key to the end of the US (dollar) hegemony, of the US economic supremacy. The arrogant Trump, plus the impunity of the unfettered diabolical and outright dumb Bolton-Pompeo-Abrams approach of military threats and intimidations, may just make Venezuela the straw that breaks the Empire’s back.

Venezuela: US Pursuing Humanitarian Aid Path To War

A protest outside the United States Consulate in Sydney on January 23 2019 to demand no US intervention in Venezuela.(Photo: Peter Boyle)

The United States has been working with oligarchs in Venezuela to remove President Maduro since he came to office in 2013 after the death of Hugo Chavez and was re-elected that year. After he won re-election to another six-year term in 2018, the regime change planners sought new strategies to remove Maduro, including an assassination attempt last August. The coup campaign escalated recently with the self-appointment of president Juan Guaido, who President Trump and US allies have recognized. Now, the ongoing coup attempt is escalating through a strategy of humanitarian intervention.

Trump has been talking openly about war to take control of Venezuela’s vast oil reserves since mid-2017. Pentagon and former administration officials, who have since been removed from office, opposed the action. Now, Trump is surrounded by neocons who share his goal of removing Maduro and taking control of the country’s natural resources. War is an option being openly considered.

The US has no excuse to legally attack Venezuela. As Defense One reports, “International law forbids ‘the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.’” There are two exceptions mentioned in the UN Charter: self-defense and authorization by the U.N. Security Council, neither of which have been met in Venezuela. Domestically, Trump would also need the US Congress to authorize an attack, which is unlikely with a Democratic-controlled House not because Democrats oppose war but because they oppose Trump.

The United States has also claimed a highly questionable right to use force for “humanitarian intervention.” For example, the US and NATO 1999 intervention in Kosovo was a humanitarian intervention that became a war.

After a long-term economic war that has sought to starve Venezuela of resources and has cost the country billions of dollars annually, the United States is now claiming there is a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. It is moving to use this humanitarian crisis it helped to create as a path to war with Venezuela, with the help of US proxies, Colombia and Brazil. The tactic is to proclaim a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela requiring a humanitarian intervention and then to bring troops in to provide humanitarian aid as the BBC explains. Once the foot is in the door, it is simple to manufacture an excuse for conflict.

John Bolton

✔ @AmbJohnBolton

Answering the call of President Guaido, the U.S. is mobilizing & transporting humanitarian aid for the people of . I applaud the hard work of USAID, the State Department and their partners in preparing critical supplies to move forward this weekend.

Mark Green

✔ @USAIDMarkGreen

@USAID is working hard to help the people of #Venezuela with humanitarian assistance such as these tons of Ready-to-Use Supplementary Foods (RUSF) for malnourished children. #EstamosUnidosVE

Elliot Abrams, who has a long history of war crimes and was convicted in the Iran-Contra scandal, said the US government is considering opening a “humanitarian corridor” and has maintained contacts with Brazil and Colombia on the issue. He acknowledged that Maduro’s “cooperation” would be necessary to transport the aid to the country. El Pais reported, “The opening of this supply channel could require the participation of troops, whether Americans or from another country in the region, something that Chavism interprets as a clear threat.”

Vice President Mike Pence spoke this week about the deployment of humanitarian assistance with Carlos Vecchio, Guaidó’s ambassador to the United States, as well as Julio Borges, appointed as representative to the Lima Group. Borges will ask the Lima Group, which meets in Canada this week, for the “urgent” opening of a humanitarian corridor. Canada has played a junior role in the ongoing coup. Trudeau, who also levied economic sanctions against Venezuela, promised $53 million in humanitarian aidMedia critical of the coup have been denied access to these meetings.

The United States launched this major operation in coordination with the right-wing governments of Colombia and Brazil, the most belligerent anti-Maduro allies of Guaido. The US National Security Council confirmed on Saturday that the deployment of aid has already begun.  The initial aid will contain medicines, surgical supplies, and nutritional supplements. It was scheduled to come from USAID to Bogota on Monday and then be moved for storage in a collection center in the border city of Cúcuta, the main entrance route for Venezuelans migrating to Colombia. Cúcuta has a high presence of Colombian paramilitaries and smuggling mafias and is where those who attempted to assassinate Nicolas Maduro last year were trained.

One of the goals of the humanitarian aid is to divide the Venezuela military which has refused to recognize Guaido. They seek to deepen the pressure on the military in order to break the solidarity of the Maduro government. TIME Magazine reports, “The aid has become something of a litmus test for the military’s backing of Maduro.” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), said on Twitter that, “Military & police leaders in #Venezuela must now decide to either help food & medicine reach people, or help #Maduro instead.”

UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, who has not recognized Guaido, said the United Nations “will not be part of” distributing the aid, as it wants to maintain “credibility” in order to help “find a political solution to the crisis.”

El Pais reports that “Diplomats from several Latin American countries and from the more moderate sectors of the opposition fear that this will serve as a pretext to drag the conflict into the military.” President Maduro has repeatedly rejected the entry of humanitarian aid because he knew it would provide justification for foreign intervention. He knows the US seeks Venezuela’s oil and other resources,“gold, gas, iron, diamonds, other material riches.”

Maduro called on the international community to stop the US threats of war against Venezuela. He said a war would be a blood bath, a David and Goliath struggle that would “leave Trump bloodstained.” Maduro said the Venezuelan people were prepared to defend their sacred land from a US military invasion, but emphasized that he “prayed to God” such a conflict will never occur. Trump’s “military aggression” must be rejected so that “peace prevails.”

A Nonviolent Strategy to Defeat the US Coup Attempt in Venezuela

Yet again, the United States elite has decided to attempt to impose its will on the people of another nation, in this case, and not for the first time either, your country Venezuela.

On 23 January 2019, following careful secret planning in the preceding weeks and a late night telephone call the previous day from US Vice President Mike Pence – see ‘Pence Pledged U.S. Backing Before Venezuela Opposition Leader’s Move’ and ‘Venezuela – Trump’s Coup Plan Has Big Flaws’ – the US initiated a coup against your President, Nicolás Maduro, and his Government, whom you democratically re-elected to represent you on 20 May 2018. See ‘The Case for the Legitimacy of Maduro’s Second Term’.

By organizing, recognizing and supporting as ‘interim president’ the US puppet trained for the purpose over the past decade – see ‘The Making of Juan Guaidó: How the US Regime Change Laboratory Created Venezuela’s Coup Leader’ – the United States government has simply brought into clearer focus and now precipitated its long-standing plan to seize control of Venezuela’s huge oil, gas, gold, water and other natural resources, with the oil and gas conveniently close to Texan refineries. In relation to gold, for example, see ‘Bank of England refused to return $1.2bn in gold to Venezuela – reports’ and then ‘Bank Of England Urged To Hand Over Venezuela’s Gold To Guaidó’.

Of course, this coup is perfectly consistent with US foreign policy for the past two centuries, the essential focus of which has been to secure control over key geostrategic areas of the world and to steal the resources of foreign nations. For a list of only the ‘most notable U.S. interventions’ in Central/South America over that period, see ‘Before Venezuela: The long history of U.S. intervention in Latin America’.  But you can also read a more complete list of US interventions overseas (only since 1945) in William Blum’s ‘Overthrowing other people’s governments: The Master List’.

Needless to say, this latest attempt at ‘regime change’ is in clear violation of international law on so many counts it is difficult to document them concisely. First, the ongoing US intervention over an extended period has always been a violation of international law, including Chapter IV, Article 19 of the Charter of the Organization of American States. Second, sanctions are illegal under so many treaties it is sickening. See ‘Practice Relating to Rule 103. Collective Punishments’. And third, the coup is a violation of Venezuela’s constitution. See ‘The Failure of Guaido’s Constitutional Claim to the Presidency of Venezuela’.

Unfortunately, international law (like domestic law) is simply used as another means to inflict violence on those outside the elite circle and, as casual observation of the record demonstrates, is routinely ignored by elites in the US and elsewhere when their geopolitical, economic and/or other interests ‘require’ it.

As usual, there is no remotely reasonable pretext for this coup, despite the usual alphabet of sycophantic US allies such as Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Israel…. – see, for example, ‘Australia recognises Juan Guaidó as Venezuela president’ and ‘Emmanuel Macron, Pedro Sanchez, Angela Merkel and Theresa May Have No Right to Issue an Ultimatum to Venezuela’ – as well as the elite-controlled corporate media, lying that there is such pretext. Mind you, given the flagging domestic support for many of these political leaders in light of their obvious incompetence in dealing with issues of critical import to their own constituencies – is this where we mention words like ‘Brexit’ and ‘Yellow Vests’, for example? – it is little wonder that the distraction offered by events elsewhere is also used to provide some relief from the glare focused on their own ineptitude.

Of course, a submissive Organization of American States (OAS) – recognizing Guaidó in violation of its own Charter – and the cowardly European Union (EU), also kneeling in the face of US pressure to ignore international law, simply add to the picture of a global system devoid of moral compass and the rule of law, let alone courage.

It is true, as most of you are well aware, that Venezuela has been experiencing dire economic circumstances but, as most of you also know, these circumstances have been caused by ‘outside intervention, internal sabotage and the decline in oil prices’, particularly including the deepening economic sanctions imposed by the United States in recent years. For solid accounts of what has taken place in Venezuela in recent times, particularly the external factors causing these dire economic circumstances, see the report on behalf of the United Nations Human Rights Council written by Alfred de Zayas, “Report of the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order on his mission to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and Ecuador”,  which identified the crisis the US ‘economic warfare’ was precipitating – see ‘Former UN Rapporteur: US Sanctions Against Venezuela Causing Economic and Humanitarian Crisis’, as well as the research reported in ‘Opposition Protests In Venezuela Rooted In Falsehoods’, ‘Trump’s Sanctions Make Economic Recovery in Venezuela Nearly Impossible’, ‘US Regime Change in Venezuela: The Documented Evidence’ and ‘Venezuela: What Activists Need To Know About The US-Led Coup’.

But lest some people think this US coup is only about resources, geopolitical control is also vital. As noted by Garikai Chengu: ‘America seeks control of Venezuela because it sits atop the strategic intersection of the Caribbean, South and Central American worlds. Control of the nation, has always been a remarkably effective way to project power into these three regions and beyond.’ See ‘Sanctions of Mass Destruction: America’s War on Venezuela’.

Of course, even though the outstanding problems in Venezuela have been primarily caused by the ongoing illegal US inteference, the eminently reasonable government of your country remains willing to engage in dialogue to resolve these problems. See, for example, ‘Venezuela leader Nicolas Maduro seeks talks with Obama’ and ‘Maduro Reaffirms Willingness For Dialogue’. However, this willingness for dialogue does not interest the US elite or its sycophantic western and local (both within Central/South America and within Venezuela) allies who, as noted above, are intent on usurping control from the people of Venezuela and stealing your resources.

In any case, and most importantly, for those of us paying attention to the truth, rather than the garbage reported in the elite-controlled corporate media – see, for example, ‘Can Venezuela Have a Peaceful Transition?’ but outlined more fully in ‘“Resistance” Media Side With Trump to Promote Coup in Venezuela’ – we are well aware of what you all think about this. Because, according to recent polling, you are heavily against US and other outside intervention in any form. See ‘86% of Venezuelans Oppose Military Intervention, 81% Are Against U.S. Sanctions, Local Polling Shows’.

Fortunately, of course, you have many solidarity allies including countries such as Russia, China, Cuba and Turkey who acknowledge your right to live with the government you elected and do not wish to steal your resources. Moreover, at an ‘emergency’ meeting of the UN Security Council on 26 January 2019, called by the United States to seek authorization for interference in Venezuela, the Council was divided as China, Equatorial Guinea, Russia and South Africa opposed the move, with Côte d’Ivoire and Indonesia abstaining. See ‘UN political chief calls for dialogue to ease tensions in Venezuela; Security Council divided over path to end crisis’.

And there is a vast number of people, including prominent public intellectuals, former diplomats and ordinary people who are solidly on your side as you defend yourselves from the latest bout of western imperialism. For example, Professor Noam Chomsky and other prominent individuals have publicly declared their support – see ‘Open Letter by Over 70 Scholars and Experts Condemns US-Backed Coup Attempt in Venezuela’ – and former UK ambassador Craig Murray has argued that ‘The Coup in Venezuela Must Be Resisted’.

Anyway, given your existing and ongoing resistance to the coup in defense of your elected government, I would like to offer another avenue of support for you to consider. My support, if you like, to plan and implement a comprehensive nonviolent strategy to defeat the coup.

So what is required?

I have explained in detail how to formulate and implement a strategy for defeating coup attempts such as this in the book The Strategy of Nonviolent Defense: A Gandhian Approach.

However, I have also outlined the essential points of this strategy on the website Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy. The pages of this website provide clear guidance on how to easily plan and then implement the twelve components of this strategy.

If you like, you can see a diagrammatic representation of this strategy by looking at the Nonviolent Strategy Wheel.

And on the Strategic Aims page you can see the basic list of 23 strategic goals necessary to defeat a coup of the type you are resisting at the moment. These strategic goals can easily be adopted, modified and/or added to if necessary, in accordance with your precise circumstances as you decide.

If you want to read a straightforward account of how to plan and conduct a nonviolent tactic so that it has strategic impact, you can do so here: ‘Nonviolent Action: Why and How it Works’.

This will require awareness of the difference between ‘The Political Objective and Strategic Goal of Nonviolent Actions’.

And, to ensure that your courage is most powerfully utilized, you are welcome to consider the 20 points designed to ensure that you are ‘Minimizing the Risk of Violent Repression’ whenever you take nonviolent action where repression is a risk. The information is useful for both neutralizing violent provocateurs but also in the event that sections of the police or army defect to support the US puppet Guaidó in the days or weeks ahead, as often happens in contexts such as these.

In essence, your ongoing resistance to the coup is essential if you are to defeat the coupmakers and defend your elected government. But the chances of success are vastly enhanced if your struggle, and that of your solidarity allies around the world, is focused for maximum strategic impact and designed to spread the cost of doing so.

Remember, it is you who will decide the fate of Venezuela. Not the US elite and not even your President and government.

Of course, whether or not you decide to consider and/or adopt my proposed strategy, you have my solidarity.

False “Victories”: Is the PA Using the “State of Palestine” to Remain in Power?

The ‘State of Palestine’ has officially been handed the Chairmanship of the G-77, the United Nations’ largest block. This is particularly significant considering the relentless Israeli-American plotting to torpedo the Palestinian push for greater international recognition and legitimacy.

It is now conclusive that the main mission for former United States Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, was an unmitigated failure.

When Haley gave her infamous speech before the pro-Israel lobby, AIPAC, in March 2017 – declaring herself the ‘new sheriff in town’ on behalf of Israel – the US-Israeli designs were becoming clearer: never again will the US shy away from defending Israel at the UN as the previous Obama Administration had done in December 2016.

In retrospect, Haley’s tactics – the aggressive language, the constant threats and outright political bullying – amounted to nothing. Her short stint of two years at the UN has only managed to, once again, accentuate US dwindling power and influence on the international stage.

Instead of isolating Palestinians, the US ended up joining Israel in its own isolation. Unable to make any tangible ‘achievements’ in favor of Israel, a frustrated US administration carried out its threats as it quit crucial UN bodies like UNESCO, Human Rights Council, among others. In doing so, the US is now imprudently dismantling the very international order it helped create following World War II.

The Palestinian Authority, on the other hand, has taken full advantage of the obvious shift in world order. Being voted to the helm of the G77 – which bonds 134 countries from the South in a massive economic order – is an extraordinary event.

But what does this mean in terms of the Palestinian quest for statehood?

The PA seems to operate within two separate – and often contradictory – political spheres.

On the one hand, it is in full cooperation with Israel in terms of ‘security coordination‘, at times serving as if Israel’s policeman in the Occupied West Bank. Its constant crackdown on Palestinian dissent and its monopolization of Palestinian decision-making have been major obstacles before the Palestinian people in their fight for rights, justice and freedom.

On the other hand, the PA has been pursuing a determined path towards international recognition, starting with its successful bid to obtain a non-member observer status for the State of Palestine in November 2012.

That momentous event, which took place despite US-Israeli strong rejection and protests, opened up the door for Palestine to join various UN organizations such as the International Criminal Court.

Palestine is yet to acquire full UN membership, a pursuit that is being renewed at the moment. However, as of August 2015, the flag of Palestine has been fluttering at the UN headquarters, along with those of 193 other nations.

So how is one to reconcile between these two realities?

It goes without saying that the international support that Palestine is receiving at the UN is an outcome of existing solidarity and sympathy with the Palestinian people and their rightful struggle for human rights and independence. It has preceded the PA by decades, and will be there for many years to come.

The PA, however, has tactfully translated this international support and validation to political assets among Palestinians at home.

Indeed, much of the support that the PA and its dominant Fatah party continue to enjoy among ordinary Palestinians is driven by the following logic: every symbolic diplomatic ‘victory’ achieved by the PA abroad is followed by massive celebrations in Ramallah, including fiery speeches of an imminent freedom and statehood.

But freedom, of course, remains elusive, partly because the PA has yet to develop a real strategy for resisting Israeli military Occupation and colonization. Its determination and vigor to acquire more international recognition is juxtaposed with utter laxity and disinterest in developing a unified national strategy in Palestine itself.

This points to an unmistakable conclusion: The PA’s strategy is merely focused on the very survival of the PA as a political apparatus, and on ‘Palestinian independence’ within an immaterial diplomatic sphere, without any tangible evidence of that ‘independence’ on the ground.

How else can one explain the fierce fight, in the name of Palestine and those suffering in Gaza, put up by PA President, Mahmoud Abbas, and his Ambassador, Riad al-Maliki at the UN, while the PA continues to withhold salaries from besieged Palestinians in the Gaza Strip?

The sad truth is that the fight for Palestinian recognition at the UN is, at its core, a fight for Abbas and his Authority to remain relevant, and solvent, in a changing international political order.

Meanwhile, for Palestinians, Abbas’ diplomatic achievements represent the proverbial morphine shots injected in the collective vein of an occupied and suffering people, desperate for a ray of hope.

According to the General Federation of Palestinian Trade Unions, poverty in the Gaza Strip has exceeded 80 percent, coupled with a 54.9% level of unemployment. The West Bank, too, is suffering, with the Israeli army and violent illegal Jewish settlers terrorizing the Palestinian population there. Thousands of Palestinian men and women languish in Israeli jails, hundreds of them held without trial.

Not only has the PA done little to challenge – or, at least, attempt to reverse – that reality, it has, at times contributed to it. Yet, oddly, the PA’s pitiful political discourse in Palestine is contrasted with a well-defined, articulate and purportedly courageous language outside.

“We will go to the Security Council for submitting our application,” to obtain full Palestinian membership at the UN, Palestinian Ambassador, al-Maliki, told reporters on January 15. “We know that we are going to face a US veto but this won’t prevent us from presenting our application”.

In fact, this is the crux of the PA strategy at the moment. Knowing that it has little legitimacy among ordinary Palestinians, the PA is desperate to find an alternative source of legitimacy somewhere else.

While a greater support for the ‘State of Palestine’ is a positive sign indicating a changing world order, it is, sadly, used by the Palestinian leadership to sustain its own oppressive, futile and corrupt political gambit.

Israel and the Golan Heights: A Wider Geopolitical Game

In the recent autumn session of the United Nations General Assembly a number of resolutions involving the Syrian Golan Heights occupied by Israel came up for debate and voting. A familiar pattern emerged. The first of the votes to be noted was UNGA Resolution A/C.4/73/L.20. The wording of this resolution was that the general Assembly “reaffirmed that Israel’s settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories including East Jerusalem are illegal and an obstacle to peace and social development”.

The second resolution, A/C.4/73/L.22 said that the General Assembly “determines that all legislation and administrative measures taken by Israel, the occupying Power, that purport to alter the character and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan Heights are null and void.”  The wording of this resolution echoed the wording of United Nations Security Council resolution 497 of 17 December 1981, which was 37 years previously. That earlier resolution was passed unanimously; i.e. the United States included.

The third resolution, L/73/L.30 expressed the General Assembly’s deep concern “that Israel has not withdrawn from the Syrian Golan, which has been under occupation since 1967” (i.e. 51 years).

The voting on each resolution respectively was 154 in favour (with 6 No votes and 15 abstentions; 149: 2: and 22; and 99: 10: 66.

The United States, which was part of a unanimous Security Council vote in 1981 condemning Israel’s actions in the Golan Heights as “null and void” was one of the two ‘No’ votes in the second resolution referred to above. The other No vote, unsurprisingly, was Israel. The United States and Israel both voted ‘No’ to the other two resolutions as well. Australia abstained in respect of each of the three votes.

This voting pattern and the debate that surrounded them is significant for a number of reasons.

The first reason is that it unequivocally demonstrates that where Israel is concerned there is a different standard applied by the United States (and Australia) where breaches of international law are concerned.

It is indisputable that land occupied by conquest cannot be returning by the occupying power, much less incorporated into the administrative regime of the occupying power. Yet this is precisely what Israel has done, first by maintaining its occupation post the 1967 Six Day War, and then in 1981 purporting to incorporate the Golan Heights into its own administrative territory.

It is not difficult to envisage the rhetoric from the United States if Russia or China had made any similar moves. One has only to recall the incessant barrage of propaganda from the United States and its allies about “Russian aggression” when Crimea was reincorporated into the Russian Federation following an overwhelming popular vote.

The United States is similarly making threats against China after President Xi made a speech recently pointing out that Taiwan was part of China and that reunification was a goal for the near future. The United States accepted that Taiwan was part of China until 1949 when the Nationalists were defeated in the civil war.

As the Americans showed by voting against a resolution that they had previously been part of a unanimous Security Council in accepting, consistency is not their strong suit. The withdrawal from the antiballistic missile treaty in 2001, and from an INF treaty in 2018, and their abandonment of the JCPOA in 2018 are further illustrations of that point.

It also lays bare, yet again, the hypocrisy of western political leaders, notably in the United States and Australia, who forever trumpet their alleged commitment to the “rules based international order”.

There is no clearer example over a sustained period of time of Israel’s total disregard for international law than in their treatment of the Palestinians and the continued illegal occupation of the Golan Heights. Neither of these examples is the subject of public criticism by American or Australian politicians, and judging by their voting behaviour in the United Nations, support for Israel’s actions is either tacit or explicit.

Earlier in January 2019 two United States Republican Senators, Cruz and Cotton, went public in a joint statement that was remarkable for its complete disregard for international law, its equally cavalier disregard for the factual situation in the Middle East, and for its display of what is best described by the Hebrew word “chutzpah” (insolence, cheek or audacity).

Cruz and Cotton’s statement said, in part:

Responding to the threat posed by Iran and its proxies requires ensuring that Israel can defend its territory and its citizens from attack. To support Israel’s right to self defence, Washington should take the long overdue step of affirming Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

This is a frankly bizarre departure from reality and a number of commentators have already pointed this out.1  It came at the same time as National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were making equally absurd statements on their recent foray to Middle Eastern capitals.2

Even if Israel had legitimate self-defence concerns, occupying the territory of a neighbouring state is neither feasible nor legal. There must therefore be an alternative explanation for Israel’s continued disregard for international law, the extraordinary public comments of two senior members of the Trump administration, and the pattern of behaviour of United States in the region, notwithstanding the recent erratic and contradictory behaviour of its leadership.

One possible explanation that fits the known facts, and which incidentally also helps explain the extraordinary lack of criticism by Western nations of Israel’s continued illegal occupation of the Golan Heights, can be found in the activities of an American company called Genie Energy.

This little-known company is headquartered in Newark, New Jersey. Its strategic advisory board includes such luminaries as Dick Cheney (former US vice president under Bush Jr); James Woolsey (former CIA director); Larry Summers (former head of the US Treasury); Rupert Murdoch (chairman of News Corporation among other media interests); and Jacob Rothschild. It would be hard to nominate a better-connected group of people, all of them noted for a strong pro-Israel bias.

Genie Energy, through its subsidiary Afek Oil and Gas, was granted an oil exploration license for the occupied Golan Heights by the Israeli government. Needless to say, the Syrian government was not consulted.

As far back as October 2015 Afek discovered oil reserves in the Golan Heights, with a potential yield estimated at billions of barrels3 Actually developing those vast reserves would require the solidification of Israel’s control over the occupied territory.

It cannot legally do that, although lack of legality has never been a hindrance to Israel since 1948. Its de facto control of the Golan Heights, however, is key to understanding Israel’s moves in the Middle East since 1967. In recent years Israel’s support for terrorist groups fighting the Assad Government in Syria is destined in part to keep the Syrian army and Iranian supported Hezbollah from challenging Israel’s control of the Golan Heights. It is not a coincidence that Israeli territory proper has not suffered a single ISIS inspired attack although prima facie one might have thought that a Jewish state would be anathema to Islamic fundamentalists.

The evidence is now overwhelming that Israel has been one of the main supporters of ISIS because it suited their own wider geopolitical ambitions.4  When a jihadist group occupied some small towns in the Israeli controlled Golan Heights in February 2017, the Israeli army and air force took no steps to oppose them.

Israel’s ambitions for the Golan Heights are matched by the United States in northern Syria where the area it occupies (also illegally) provided 90% of Syria’s pre-war oil production. Both the United States and Israel have long intended to build a pipeline to provide gas to Europe, supplanting Russia as Europe’s principal supplier.

As Robert Kennedy Jr pointed out5 US plans began in 2000 with a $10 billion 1500 km pipeline from Qatar through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Turkey. It was when Syria rejected their proposed role in the plan in 2009 (as it would jeopardise their relationship with Russia) that the CIA began funding terrorist groups in Syria.

Seen in this broader context, the blatant ongoing illegality of Israel’s occupation of the Golan, the US deep state’s strong desire to remain in northern Syria, the sanctions against Russia, the overt threats against German companies involved in Nord Stream 2,6 and the suppression of most of this material in the western mainstream media (in which Murdoch is a dominant figure) all form part of a long-term set of plans hatched in Washington and Tel Aviv that have nothing to do with the rights and freedoms of the Syrian people.

As courageous independent journalists on the ground in Syria such as Vanessa Beeley have amply demonstrated7, the ordinary people of Syria are but pawns in a wider geopolitical game. In the extraordinary chaos and destruction that the illegal western intervention in Syria has caused, Australia has played a small but significant role.

Actually detecting a benefit to Australia in all of this is more than elusive, but as John Menadue recently pointed out8 for all their protestations about the rule of law and shared western values, the reality is that western politicians have always sacrificed principle for geopolitical expediency.

In the rapidly changing geopolitical framework brought about by Russia’s intervention in Syria in 2015 and a consequent shifting of alliances by key players such as Turkey, it remains to be seen whether the untenable ambitions of Israel and the United States can be brought to fruition. 2019 looks to be no less dangerous than the year just past.

  1. Moon of Alabama 10 January 2019.
  2. See, for example, Strategic Culture Foundation 15 January 2019.
  3. The Economist, ‘Black Gold Under the Golan, 7 November 2015.
  4. Haaretz, 8 September 2018.
  5. Ecowatch, 25 February 2016, Another Pipeline War.
  6. DW, 14 January 1019.
  7. 21st Century Wire, 17 October 2018.
  8. John Menadue, 15 January 2019.

All Ways of Family Building are NOT Equal and do Not Protect Child’s Rights

There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

— Nelson Mandela, Launch of the Nelson Mandela Children Fund, Mahlamba Ndlopfu Pretoria South Africa, May 8, 1995

Is having a baby that results from a loving relationship the same as having a baby being created via a business transaction?

Are a husband and wife with two kids a house and a dog, a single career woman who decides to be inseminated because time is running out for her to be a mother, a family who decides to foster one or more special needs children, and a gay couple who have a child via surrogacy all equal?  Do all of these ways of family building put the needs of the child(ren) before the desires of the adults and are primarily in the child’s best interest? Are all equally accessible to people of all income levels? Is financial means, which allows for multiple options in both controlling reproduction and family building, a good litmus test for parenthood?  Most importantly, do all “family building” options protect the rights of children?

Surrogate

Andy Cohen is the executive producer and host of the Bravo nightly series Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, Bravo’s late night, interactive talk show, and hosts a two-hour live show with co-host John Hill twice a week. He is executive producer of the Real Housewives franchise, host of the television dating show, Love Connection, and a New York Times best-selling author.

When Cohen, fifty, single, and worth an estimated $15 million dollars, recently publicly announced that he was about to become the father of a child being born to a surrogate, the announcement was met with cheers of joy and accolades in the Hollywood community and the public.

Why?  Why is his renting of woman’s body, buying the reproductive services, cheered?  Why does anyone celebrate hiring a woman to act as a human incubator?  Utilizing the services of prostitutes, even where legal, is not publicly announced, cheered, or celebrated.  If one can afford it and enjoys it, why do we not share their pleasure in paying to have a brief intimate relationship and be happy for them?  Why does society condemn one and applaud the other? Yes, it is the impending fatherhood that is being celebrated, but does becoming a father make it so very different and justify the means? Where is the concern of those cheering him on for a child brought into the world to be raised by a man old enough to be his or her grandfather? Does his wealth make that OK, too?

Why has having a baby by any means become socially acceptable and a source of pride and joy? Please stop and think about this before having a knee jerk reaction. Andy Cohen is not adopting a child languishing in an orphanage in order to fulfill his desire to be a single dad. He is creating a human being from purchased gametes and having it gestated in a rented womb. The child will be motherless and live out his or her life knowing only half of its genetic medical history.  Why celebrate that? Because it is his choice?

Why celebrate choice when creating a human being who has no choice in the matter? Think about that.  Are children just “accessories” as has been suggested to describe celebrity adoptions?

There was a long time in our social history when having a child while single was a shame. Social workers and religious leaders deemed that children needed a mother and a father.  One experiencing such a socially unacceptable event as being pregnant outside of marriage was scorned, hidden away, and expected to hand the baby over to married strangers rather than subject the child to being raised as an illegitimate bastard.  Those were backward times and it is good that in America we no longer chastise single moms or their offspring.  It’s also good that gay, bisexual, and transgender men and women are, for the most part, no longer subjected to hiding their truth.

But is there such a thing as going too far in our acceptance of differences when it comes to children and family creation?  Is an “everything goes” attitude that allows men, women, single or coupled, of any age to decide from a menu of options which way to create or obtain a child that suits them, good for the children?

Should society prioritize the “rights” of adults longing to be parents over those of children?  Is having a child – by any means – a “right” at all? In fact, despite the pain of infertility and the very real longing to parent, there is no right to have a child. Gay or straight, black, brown, or white, married or single, there is no right to a child via any means. No right to adopt and no right to pay for and use anonymous reproductive technologies. No one “owes” anyone a child and no one is more “deserving” of another’s child by virtue of having more material advantages.

Surrogates

Let me state unequivocally that it matters not one iota to me what Andy Cohen’s sexual preferences are. While I have concerns for the child a single 50-year-old man plans to raise, I would be equally opposed to the use of surrogacy if he were a married man of 50, or a woman of 30. I come at this issue as a human rights activist all of my adult life. I have been part of or supported sit-ins for civil rights, anti-war marches, gay pride parades, Black Lives Matter, Me Too, and immigration reform that recognizes a path to citizenship and provides a safe haven for refuges.

From that position of concern for social justice and equality, I focus first and foremost on the rights of those humans who are THE most vulnerable among us.  More than women, more than people of color, and more than members of the LGBT community – all of whom experience discrimination and special circumstances which make them vulnerable – the most vulnerable humans of all are children. Children of all races and genders from birth until adulthood have zero agency, power, or control of their own. They are helplessly at the behest of adults to care for them and provide for their safety. It is thus that society provides safety nets for children because of their intrinsically vulnerable state. We set age limits on their right to drive and consume alcohol and consent to sexual activity, all to protect them from harm.  Does not society need to likewise cautiously weigh the best interest of children being created to meet the desires of adults eager to “have” one?

Laws do, in fact, limit the ways in which people can obtain children. It’s a crime to steal or kidnap the child of another. Even if a child were found wandering the streets alone, one cannot simply snatch it up and claim ownership or parenthood. Nor is it legal to buy a baby from an expectant mom or mother no matter how overwhelmed or incompetent, neglectful, abusive, or indifferent to her child she may be (though both surrogacy and adoption laws – in many jurisdictions – allow payment of “expenses,” a practice which is far too lax and often only semantically differs from baby buying).

Society also steps in when married couples with children divorce and custody of their children is disputed. When such cases can become contentious to the point where family court judges must rule, every state in America uses the same criterion:  the best interest of the children comes before those of any of the adults who may have selfish or other motivation that is not deemed best for their child(ren).  Indeed, social services, a.k.a. child protective services, can step in and remove children from any parent(s) deemed unfit. (In fact, they are guilty without any trial or ability to prove their innocence.) This is another example of limitations set on an assumed “right” to parent.

Adopters are (theoretically, at least) vetted in an effort to screen out potential abusers who might use that means to acquire victims. But surrogacy by-passes all such home studies allowing only the ability to pay as the sole criterion. There are no gatekeepers to protect the children.  No courts. No social workers involved in a decision like that of Andy Cohen to become a father by paying someone to risk their life being his handmaid.

Handmaids

Adeline A. Allen found that:

Gestational surrogacy, a contractual arrangement between commissioning parents and the woman who carries the baby in pregnancy (the birth mother), is big business. . . Although it is a deep-seated human desire to have a genetic child, the absence of whom can be deeply disappointing and painful, surrogacy contracts inherently dehumanize the birth mother and child.

Klein, R (2017) says that:

Pared down to cold hard facts, surrogacy is the commissioning/buying/renting of a woman into whose womb an embryo is inserted and who thus becomes a ‘breeder’ for a third party.

These concerns are in part why surrogacy – paid or unpaid – is banned or restricted in many countries. France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, and Bulgaria prohibit all forms of surrogacy; while in the UK, Ireland, Denmark, and Belgium, surrogacy is allowed only when the surrogate mother is unpaid, or only paid for reasonable expenses. Such restrictions are to protect women from being exploited by allowing their bodies to be “rented” and to stop what is akin to ordering and purchasing a baby. Bioethicists and feminists argue that it’s unethical to build businesses that rely on women’s reproductive capacities as breeders. Such bioethicists believe that “selling pregnancy as a service is untenable because it puts a price on human body parts and life. Commercial surrogacy, they note, results in the devaluation of women and children and the eventual degradation of society.”

Stop Surrogacy Now, an organization opposing surrogacy goes further stating:

Surrogacy often depends on the exploitation of poorer women as brood mares. In many cases, it is the poor who have to sell and the rich who can afford to buy. These unequal transactions result in consent that is under informed if not uninformed, low payment, coercion, poor health care, and severe risks to the short- and long-term health of women who carry surrogate pregnancies.

New Beginnings Surrogacy Services LLC , a surrogacy business that matches paying clients with women willing to be paid to provide them with a child, recognizes that:

Pregnancy and child-bearing are emotionally fraught topics. When the process takes place between two individuals privately, much is at stake. Add another individual to the mix as a surrogate carrier, the situation is exponentially complicated. Because of these tangled issues the United States is quickly becoming one of very few countries allowing surrogate pregnancies.

Wombs are not simply interchangeable. Vivette Glover, MA, PhD, DSc, (2011), for instance, discovered that:

The importance of development during the fetal period is well established with regards to the association between the baby’s growth in the womb, and later vulnerability to physical disorders such as cardiovascular disease and other aspects of metabolic syndrome. It is now becoming clear that environmental effects on fetal development are important with respect to emotional, behavioural and cognitive outcomes too. Animal studies have shown that stress during pregnancy can have long lasting effects on the neurodevelopment of the offspring.

The effects of maternal stress during pregnancy have long been extensively studied and recognized. Commercial surrogates are carefully screened to accept that the child they are carrying is not theirs. Surrogates and expectant mothers matched in private adoption are counselled to not think of the baby they are carrying as theirs, creating a huge stress on the physiology of pregnancy, especially for the neonate who has not signed nor consented to any contract and does not understand but suffers from the withdrawal of emotional attachment.

This dichotomy between the physiological hormonal reaction to the pregnancy for mother and fetus and the mother’s attempt to do what she has been told to do create a major and stressful conflict. Body and mind are in battle creating many stressful hormones.

Infant brain

The one-sided legal contract that binds surrogates to conditions such as having to abort under certain circumstances, does not take into account that both the host mother and newborn suffer separation trauma. The pregnant woman’s body produces hormones that create bonding and milk that will go unused.  The fetus becomes accustomed to the sounds, smells, heartbeat, and rhythm of the womb in which he grows and then experiences separation trauma.

The lifelong harm of newborn separation trauma is well documented.

It takes about 45 minutes for an infant separated from her mother to go into shock. [Primal Wound rage at the separation]. After rage comes despair then shock. This helplessness turns to hopelessness and a belief that the world is not safe. One cannot trust. Defenses against any future reoccurrence of these traumas [possible abandonment] are being put into place, many of which are almost impossible to eradicate from the psychological/neurological system.1

Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry, notes an awareness of “the profound impact of maternal separation on the infant” and adds that: “We knew that this was stressful, but the current study suggests that this is major physiologic stressor for the infant.”2

Dr. Sunderland (2015) explains that if separated, the infant has no language to ask why, express loss-abandonment, and goes on to explain that adolescents and teens who experience early relational (pre-language) separation are “way overrepresented” in counseling.

Catherine M. Lynch PhD, JD notes:

Minutes after birth, a baby can pick out his or her mother’s face – which he has never seen – from a gallery of photos… Their cries of pain are authentic. Babies react to the voices of their mother immediately after birth in a way they do not to the nurses present. Babies turn their heads and wriggle toward the mother’s breast following the scent of their mother’s milk. The baby has in no way, emotionally nor psychologically, separated from this mother: to the baby the mother is still “part of the Self, that core-being or essence of oneself which makes one feel whole.

Lynch also reports:

We assert that in the short term after birth, the loss of the birthing mother is suffered as a trauma: that babies are not psychologically nor emotionally separate from the mother, nor are they ready to separate physically from their mother. We testify that this premature maternal separation trauma’ is experienced as a profound loss of self as the baby instinctively sees their mother after labour, to see the nipple and suckle but instead experiences the mother, that part of the baby’s sense of itself as vanished, and felt as a kind of death.

We testify that this foundational profound experience of loss has long-term effects: in fact, life-long effects because the loss has occurred before long-term conscious memory has formed to help process the experience.

In addition, surrogacy, such as that employed by Andy Cohen, involves more than “just” purchasing the services of a “carrier” woman’s womb for nine months. It involves purchasing eggs. Both of these transactions pay people to risk their health and their lives in order to produce children with unknown genetic medical history, thus risking the lives of the children who have no say in any of it. Some amount of harm can be reduced by allowing the child to have a relationship with or at least know his or her surrogate mother. Allowing surrogacy ignores this documented damage.

Children born as a result of any anonymous third-party reproductive technology such as purchased egg or sperm are intentionally created orphans without any way to find their biological kin. Even if DNA can help them unravel their health risks, they are at risk for committing unknowing incest, especially when an infertility clinic services thousands of clients in the same geographic area. After all, one might easily feel an attraction to someone with similar traits or features.

Should a humane society put the rights of helpless youngsters first and foremost before those of any adults? Will we look back on this time in our nation’s history with the same disdain we now view the ostracization of single mothers and members of the LGBT community? Where do children’s rights fall in relation to the rights of all these others?

The 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) provides more rights for children than our U.S. Constitution but the US is the only nation not to have ratified the UNCRC and neither document addresses a right not to be contracted for or created via the sale of their genetic material or the rental of the womb they are gestated in nor a right to know their progenitors and their genetic medical history.

Will we continue down this path and invent artificial wombs, further denying neonates’ needs and creating human commodities?  Are we totally obsessed with capitalism, consumerism, and entitlement of those who can afford to buy whatever they want that we are willing to ignore the harm?  Or will we reverse this path and put the rights of children first and truly become a great and humane nation instead of a nation that caters to those who can afford to buy whatever they want –  even a human child?

  1. Nancy Verrier, Coming Home to Self
  2. Infant separation trauma has neurological effects documented by Allan Schore.

A Question Every American Must Confront: Apartheid Israel or US Democracy?

Bahia Amawai is a US citizen and Texas-based language specialist who helps autistic and speech-impaired children overcome their impairment.

Despite the essential and noble nature of her work, she was fired by the Pflugerville Independent School District, which serves the Austin area.

Every year, Amawai signs an annual contract that allows her to carry on with her tasks uninterrupted. This year, however, something changed.

Shockingly, the school district has decided to add a clause to the contract that requires teachers and other employees to pledge not to boycott Israel ‘during the term of their contract.’

The ‘oath’ is now part of Section 2270.001 of the Texas Government Code, and it is stated in the contract with obvious elaboration so as those wishing to work, or keep their jobs with the Texan government find no loophole to avoid its penalties:

“‘Boycott Israel’ means refusing to deal with, terminating business activities with, or otherwise taking any action that is intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or limit commercial relations specifically with Israel, or with a person or entity doing business in Israel or in Israeli-controlled territory ..”

The fact that Texas considers unacceptable even the boycott of businesses operating in the illegal Jewish settlements in the Occupied West Bank puts it at odds with international law, and, subsequently with the vast majority of the international community.

But don’t rush to judgment yet, condemning Texas for being the infamous and stereotypical ‘wild west’, as portrayed even in the United States’ own media. Indeed, Texas is but a small facet in a massive American government campaign aimed at stifling freedom of speech as enshrined in its country’s own constitution.

25 US states have already passed anti-boycott of Israel legislation, or have issued executive orders targeting the boycott of support networks, while other states are in the process of following suit.

At a federal government level, the Congressional Israel Anti-boycott Act, which is being received with enthusiasm among US legislators, vows to fine and imprison those who boycott Israel.

While there is strong civil society opposition to such obvious violations of the basic tenets of freedom of speech, the pro-Israel campaigners are unhinged.

Texas – which has passed and enacted laws criminalizing support for the boycott of Israel, as championed by the Palestinian Civil Society Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) – continues to lead the way for other states.

In the Texan town of Dickinson, which was devastated by hurricane Harvey last year, hurricane victims were asked to sign a pledge not to boycott Israel in exchange for life-saving humanitarian aid.

It must have been a complete shock for displaced residents of the town to learn that the meager supplies they were about to receive hinged on their support of the far-right government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

But this is the sad state of democracy in the US at the moment, where the interests of a relatively small, distant country are made the centerpiece of US government policies, at home or abroad.

Israel’s wealthy supporters are working hand in hand with Israel’s influential lobby groups in Washington DC, but also at state, and even city levels to make the boycott of Israel punishable by law.

Many US politicians are answering the unreasonable lobby call of criminalizing political dissent throughout the country. While in reality many of them could care less or even truly understand the nature of the debate concerning BDS, they are willing to go the extra mile (as in violating the sanctity of their own democratic system) to win lobby favors, or to, at least avoid their wrath.

The anti-BDS campaign started in the US in earnest a few years ago, and, unlike BDS’ own tactics, it avoided grassroot efforts, focusing instead on quickly creating an official body of legal work that places boycotters of Israel in the dock.

Although the hastily composed legal language has been bravely challenged, and, at times, reversed altogether by civil society lawyers and organizations, the Israeli strategy has managed to place BDS supporters on the defensive.

That limited success can be accredited to powerful friends of Israel who have generously and forcefully responded to Tel Aviv’s war drums.

Las Vegas gambling mogul, Sheldon Adelson, took the helm of leadership. He moved into action, establishing the “Maccabee Task Force”, which raised millions of dollars to fight against what Israeli officials define as an existential threat to Israel and the delegitimization of the country as a “Jewish state.”

A major strategy that the Israeli camp has advanced in the discussion is the misleading notion that BDS calls for the boycott of Jews, as opposed to the boycott of Israel as a state that violates international law and numerous United Nations resolutions.

A country that practices racism as a matter of course, defends racial segregation and builds apartheid walls deserves nothing but complete boycott. That is the minimal degree of moral, political and legal accountability considering that the US, as with other countries, are obligated to honor and respect international law in that regard.

The US, however, encouraged by the lack of accountability, continues to behave in the same manner as countries that Washington relentlessly attacks for their undemocratic behavior and violation of human rights.

If such bizarre happenings – firing teachers and conditioning aid on taking a political stance – took place in China, for example, Washington would have led an international campaign condemning Beijing’s intransigence and violation of human rights.

Many Americans have yet to fathom how the United States’ submission to Israel’s political will is affecting their everyday life. But with more and more such legal restrictions, even ordinary Americans will soon find themselves fighting for basic political rights that, like Bahia Amawai, they have always taken for granted.

Sure, Israel may have succeeded in coercing some people not to openly vow support of BDS, but it will eventually lose this battle as well.

Muffling the voices of civil society rarely works over long periods of time, and the anti-BDS campaign, now penetrating the very heart of US government, is bound to eventually resurrect a nationwide conversation.

Is protecting Israeli Apartheid more important to Americans than preserving the fundamental nature of their own democracy?

That is a question that every American, regardless of how they feel about a supposedly distant Middle Eastern conflict, must answer, and urgently so.

Agreed Rules, COP24 and Climate Change Protest

If children can get headlines all over the world just by not going to school, then imagine what we can all do together if we really wanted to.

Greta Thunberg at COP24, December 2018

The world, if it goes off in a burn, will do so courtesy of the rules – or their elastic interpretation.  It was a fine show of contradiction at Katowice, and the Polish hospitality did not deter the 14,000 delegates drawn from 195 countries from bringing forth a beast of regulation to delight climate change bureaucrats for years.  Everyone clapped themselves in way emetic to any bystander suspicious about what had actually been achieved.  The question to ask, of course, is whether this fluffy, self-congratulatory exercise makes it past the canapés and becomes a genuine policy document.

Little progress was actually made on the issue of commitments to cut emissions, even if there was, in principle, an agreement on a set of rules to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement. As things stand, the planet is set to reach 3°C, while the Paris Agreement stresses the need to keep matters manageable to an increase of 1.5°C, which would lead to more modest environmental destruction. Considerable troubling silences persist on the issue of technicalities.  What, for instance, constitutes a suitable, measurable reduction in emissions or who monitors a country’s progress.

There were certain concessions.  Poorer states received more solid reassurances of assistance from wealthier states to deal with greenhouse-gas emissions and attendant environmental challenges.  China was pressed into accepting certain uniform guidelines to measure those emissions.  States who cannot follow the “rules” to reduce emissions must explain why and show a pathway to redress that failure, more a case of nudging than punishment.

Coal advocates would not, however, have left COP24 dispirited.  Poland’s own president, Andrzej Duda, gave a rumbustious display of refusal: his country, with 80 percent of its energy derived from coal, could not be asked to abandon 200 years’ worth of reserves before the idealistic abstinence of any green lobby.  Poland, not the planet, came first.

Michal Kurtyka, COP24’s chair and secretary of state in the Ministry of Environment, saw little by way of contradiction in a performance run by the Polish Coal Miners Band during the talks, nor coal displays in the foyer greeting guests.  It would have been silly, surmised Kurtyka, to dismiss the coal industry.  “There are also energy companies of course engaging in a path of sustainable development.”

But a certain smell lingered at COP24, the sense that the conference had been sponsored by the very same entities whose behaviour was to be controlled and, in the future, abolished altogether.  Kurtyka did little to dispel the aroma.  “I don’t sense that there is a problem with anybody’s participation, provided that we have the same goal.”

The climate change talks were also being held, as it were, in the den of fossil fuel symbolism.  Katowice was made by the legacy of coal rich reserves discovered in the mid-eighteenth century. Such delightful irony, as well, that the city could play host both to such a conference and the largest coal company in the European Union.

This did not deter Joanna Flisowska, a Katowice native and policy coordinator on coal for Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe.  “We can be such a bright example for the transition away from coal if only we could put effort into using these opportunities.”

On other fronts, the climate change lobby has taken something of a battering.  France’s Emmanuel Macron granted some concession to massive protests against fuel-tax rises supposedly designed to curb greenhouse-gas emissions.  Living standards have squared off against environmental policies.

The result of the foot dragging has been to illustrate a growing divide between citizen and government official.  “Hope,” claimed a despondent May Boeve, executive director of the climate change campaign group 350.org, “now rests on the shoulders of the many people who are rising to take action: the inspiring children who started an unprecedented wave of strikes in school to support a fossil-free [sic] future; the 1,000-plus institutions that committed to pull their money out of coal, oil, and gas, and the many communities worldwide who keep resisting fossil fuel development.”

Australia is particularly illustrative of this point, something emphasised by Greenpeace chief executive David Ritter.  “The divide between the Government and the young people of Australia is probably the greatest it’s been since those huge protests of the Vietnam War era, and I think it’s for a similar reason.”

Students of varying ages certainly add to Ritter’s suggestions, with thousands of Australian school children taking to the streets in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Coffs Harbour and Bendigo, to name but a spread of Australian cities, insisting that Prime Minister Scott Morrison heed their calls.  “The politicians aren’t listening to us when we try to ask nicely for what we want and for what we need,” suggested an irate Castlemaine student Harriet O’Shea Carre.  “So now we have to go to extreme lengths and miss out on school.”

It was, however, a 15-year-old Swede by the name of Greta Thunberg, whose single person vigil outside Sweden’s parliament building featured the sign “school strike for climate change”.  Three weeks were spent sitting in front of the Parliament during school hours, though she did return to classes for four days, using Friday as her weekly day of protest.

At Katowice, she made her own mark, a scolding aunt in the body of a disturbed teenager.  “You are not mature enough to tell it like is,” she told delegates in her capacity as a representative of Climate Justice Now. “Even that burden you leave us children.”

Thunberg is right about one fundamental point.  “You have ignored us in the past, and you will ignore us again.”  But to ignore the future in favour of the present, to cobble together an ineffectual regime that privileges current living standards in the hope that devastation can be postponed, is an inherent condition of the species.  Fiddling as the planet burns will continue.