In a recent Reuters report, the corporate media (CNBC/Reuters) overstepped itself – again – taking every conceivable opportunity to attack President Chávez in what should have been a simple, straight-forward news bulletin. They begin by raising questions about his character, then continue an attempt to undermine his statement about Venezuela’s oil reserves:
“…the former soldier said in a speech in which he denied he is a dictator, complained he was being unfairly demonized.”
What has this description of the president to do with the report on oil reserves? In a similar report about Saudi Arabian oil would they refer to the unelected King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz as one who denies he is a dictator? (On the other hand, how could the Abdullah deny the obvious!)
“There are suggestions that countries, including Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, have exaggerated their oil reserves in the past.”
“There are suggestions” – by whom? CNBC and Reuters or their “experts?” Can Reuters provide us with a credible example?
“Others say the lack of independent verification gave rise to doubts.”
“others say” – who are they and who is doing the doubting?
“A year ago, the U.S. Geological Survey reported that the Orinoco belt held some 513 billion barrels of crude that could be recovered — if costs were not an issue.”
If the U.S. Geological Survey does not qualify as “independent verification” in the eyes of Reuters, who does?
“Some experts say … that even with global prices currently climbing to close to $100 a barrel, exploiting most of it would be prohibitively expensive.”
Here again, “Some [unidentified] experts”, suggest that extraction of Venezuelan oil would be “prohibitively expensive”. Crude oil in the Orinoco River Belt is currently being extracted and the price today is $91.02. Are PDVSA and partner oil companies extracting it? Yes. Are they making a profit? Yes. Where’s the problem?
“Some experts say the area’s geology means it is uncertain how much oil could actually be extracted …”
And again, Reuters cites “some experts” who are “uncertain” how much of Venezuelan can be extracted “because of the area’s geology” – even though it’s being extracted now and has been so for many years. “The area’s geology?” without any explanation? It’s just another example of throwing shit at the wall of readers’ minds to see how much of it sticks.
“There are also doubts about when touted Orinoco projects will come online because of mismanagement in the state oil company PDVSA, “
“… because of mismanagement in the state oil company PDVSA”
- this statement is a gratuitous, unfounded accusation; neither, Reuters nor CNBC can provide a single credible source for this outrageous claim. It works like this: 1. The Venezuelan private media makes these claims, based only on hearsay (i.e. gossip). 2. The Western Media, like Washington Post, New York Times, BBC, etc., repeat the hearsay and repeated often enough, it becomes “fact.” In this case, Reuters/CNBC didn’t even bother to cite “some experts” or “some reports”; rather, they directly stated that PDVSA is mismanaged.
There [is] uncertainty about investing in Venezuela, where Chávez has nationalized most of the oil industry.
Of course some corporations are uncertain about investing in Venezuela where the interests of the people are put ahead of the corporations and where in this case, the transnational oil companies can no longer strip Venezuela’s petroleum and walk, paying 0 to 1% royalties as they had done for decades before the people elected Hugo Chávez Frias as president for the first time in 1998.
Actually, Venezuela was nationalizing its oil industry in the early 70′s – when Hugo Chávez was still a teenager. Nationalization was complete and PDVSA was born when he was 22 years old. So Chávez did not nationalize Venezuela’s oil industry as Reuters states. He did however, put teeth into the then existing nationalization, requiring foreign oil companies to pay for what they had previously paid little to nothing - and forced them to give up controlling interest to the government, i.e. the people. Reported in Wikipedia:
“So for all practical purposes, Venezuela was already well on its way to nationalization by 1972. It did not become official however until the presidency of Carlos Andrés Pérez, whose economic plan, ‘La Gran Venezuela’, called for the nationalization of the oil industry and diversification of the economy via import substitution. The country officially nationalized its oil industry on 1 January 1976, and along with it came the birth of Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) which is the Venezuelan state-owned petroleum company. All foreign oil companies that once did business in Venezuela were replaced by Venezuelan companies. PDVSA controls activity involving oil and natural gas in Venezuela. In 1980, PDVSA bought the US company Citgo and is the third-largest oil company in the world.”
Finally, look at the numbers reported by Reuters in the self-same article:
“OPEC said that Saudi Arabia’s reserves stood at 265 billion barrels in 2009.” – and …
“A year ago, the U.S. Geological Survey reported that the Orinoco belt held some 513 billion barrels of crude that could be recovered.”
So what is Reuter’s problem with the claim made by President Chávez?
This is not journalism. This is poorly written fiction. A first year student in a creative writing class could do better!
By Malcom Lagauche | January 19, 2011
The goal of Desert Storm was to destroy the country of Iraq under the guise of liberating Kuwait. In February 1991, during the height of U.S. bombing, former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark visited Iraq and reported his findings. At that time, few photos had come from Iraq showing the devastation. Most reporters left Iraq on the eve of the bombing campaign and spent their time in Saudi Arabia listening to the daily propaganda given by the U.S. military. They became so bored that they began to interview each other.
What Clark saw was not pretty. He stated:
The effect of the bombing, if continued, will be the destruction of much of the physical and economic base for life in Iraq. The purpose of the bombing can only be explained rationally as the destruction of Iraq as a viable state for a generation or more.
Clark’s message was not widely reported. After all, the U.S. version of events stated that the only reason for the aggression was to remove Iraqi soldiers from Kuwait. The lack of coverage of what was occurring in Iraq was convenient for the U.S. because it allowed the destruction of Iraq to continue with no world outcry.
After the bombing ceased, pictures began making their way to the outside world. When this information reached the U.S., the administration called it lies and propaganda. At other times, it accused Iraq of destroying its own institutions and blaming it on U.S. bombs. Once people from outside Iraq began to visit the country, the blatant U.S. lies were exposed. The following is a list of the numbers of facilities destroyed during the 42-day bombing campaign. It was compiled and published by the Iraqi Reconstruction Bureau:
· Schools and scholastic facilities — 3960
· Universities, labs, dormitories — 40
· Health facilities (including hospitals, clinics, medical warehouses) — 421
· Telephone operations, communication towers, etc. — 475
· Bridges, buildings, housing complexes — 260
· Warehouses, shopping centers, grain silos — 251
· Churches and mosques — 159
· Dams, pumping stations, agricultural facilities — 200
· Petroleum facilities (including refineries) — 145
· General services (shelters, sewage treatment plants, municipalities) — 830
· Houses — 10,000 to 20,000
In April 1991, a fact-finding team from Greenpeace visited Iraq and nobody was prepared for the display of massive devastation. When Greenpeace issued its report, it said Iraq had been bombed back to a pre-industrial era. The report added, “New technology did not make the U.S. military better at preventing destruction, it just made it more efficient at destruction itself.”
The U.S. press ignored most of the reports by various groups that visited Iraq after Desert Storm. The few words reported, along with the absence of photos, assured a lack of public outcry condemning the slaughter.
The massacre should not have surprised those who followed incidents leading to Desert Storm. As early as September 1990, a high-up military person mapped the plans for the invasion. On September 16, 1990, General Dugan stated that the proposed plans for combat included the destruction of the Iraqi civilian economy and infrastructure. At that time, no one could envisage the U.S. attacking Iraq because the Iraqi soldiers were in Kuwait and the U.S. demanded their exit. Most people thought, if there was to be a war, it would be conducted in Kuwait, not Baghdad. General Dugan was immediately removed from office. The Bush administration negated Dugan’s claims and discredited him. In hindsight, we see that Dugan’s testimony was about the only truth we heard from the U.S. government or military at that time. He let the cat out of the bag, but government damage control quickly led the people to believe he made up the scenarios he predicted.
For the first week of Desert Storm, everyone seemed to be mesmerized by the “smart bombs” that were going down chimneys and smashing through the windows of weapons warehouses. When the odd person asked about civilians being hit, the standard response was, “We’re not targeting civilians.” What we were not told was that 93% of the bombs dropped were “dumb bombs” and the civilian infrastructure of Iraq was being destroyed. Only about 30 to 40% of the dumb bombs hit their targets. The others randomly created havoc by killing civilians and destroying Iraq’s cities and towns.
After Desert Storm, some military people admitted the real nature of the attacks. Air Force General Tony McPeak stated on March 20, 1991, “I’ve got photographic evidence of several where the pilot just acquired the wrong target.” When asked why that information had not come forth earlier, he added, “It ain’t my call. I made some recommendations about this; it got turned around, quite frankly.”
Those who questioned the U.S. government’s reports of only hitting military targets had their fears verified on January 22, 1991. Pictures of a destroyed baby milk factory in the region of Abu Ghraib were broadcast worldwide. Many people were aghast at the bombing of a civilian industry crucial for the existence of youngsters.
The Pentagon immediately went into high gear to try to dispel the protests of those who questioned such barbaric actions. The administration stated that it was a biological weapons plant. Colin Powell said”
It is not an infant formula factory, no more than the Rabta chemical plant in Libya made aspirin. It was a biological weapons facility, of that we are sure — and we have taken it out.
The administration came up with the excuse that “Baby Milk Factory” signs around the plant were written in English and Arabic and they had just been mounted after the bombing to try to make people think it was a baby formula factory. The American public bought the excuse.
The public never researched to discover that many signs in Iraq included both English and Arabic versions because of the substantial English-speaking population who worked in Iraq prior to Desert Storm. The sign at the baby milk factory had been in place for several years prior to its bombing. Peter Arnett of CNN stated after Desert Storm that the same factory and sign were evident in a documentary that CNN produced in the late 1980s.
Nestlé of Switzerland is a leading producer of infant foods. A spokesman for the company said, “We know this was a state-built infant formula plant.” Company officials said they had regularly observed its construction in the past, “because we like to be aware of the competition.”
U.S. audiences rarely heard or saw what other countries reported concerning Desert Storm. A British TV show, “Panorama,” was broadcast on March 25, 1991 which included an interview with General Leonard Perroots, a consultant to U.S. intelligence in Desert Storm. He addressed the bombing of the baby milk factory and he quickly put the matter to rest as he said, “We made a mistake.”
The bombing of the baby milk factory put the world on alert that the information broadcast at the daily military briefings was untruthful. At that time, those who opposed Desert Storm were shocked at the widespread destruction in Iraq. They wondered how the U.S. public, which usually would have treated such barbaric designs with disdain, had acquiesced to cheering such actions. The answer lies in the demonizing of Iraq and its president, Saddam Hussein.
In George Bush’s Thanksgiving speech to U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia in 1990, he stated:
Every day that passes brings Saddam one step closer to realizing his goal of a nuclear weapons arsenal, and that’s why more and more your mission is marked by a real sense of urgency. You know, no one knows exactly who they may be aimed at down the road, but we know this for sure, he’s never possessed a weapon he didn’t use.
At the time of his speech, Bush knew that Iraq was at least five years away from developing its first crude atomic weapon, yet he made it sound as though Iraq was on the verge of obtaining a comprehensive nuclear arsenal. In further speeches, he suggested that in six months, Iraq would be a nuclear threat to the world. The myth of an Iraqi nuclear warehouse was a prime excuse for Bush II invading Iraq in 2003. And, to this day, many U.S. citizens believe Iraq possessed nuclear weapons.
Even after the bombing of the baby milk factory, the U.S. denied bombing civilians or buildings used in civilian industries. When the Iraqi government stated that a village or suburb was hit, the U.S. government would say the Iraqis weren’t telling the truth. Because of the demonizing of Iraq, most Americans thought all Iraqi information consisted of lies.
On January 31, an independent source announced that the U.S. was bombing civilians. The Jordanian Foreign Ministry stated that coalition planes had bombed oil trucks and civilians moving along the highway from Iraq to Jordan. Again, the U.S. denied the allegations, but some eyes were being opened.
In Iran, reports were made stating that the bombing was so intense that the ground in Iran was shaking. On February 5, 1991, an official in Basra described “a hellish nightmare” of fires and smoke so dense that eyewitnesses say the sun had not been clearly visible for days at a time; that the bombing was leveling entire city blocks; and that there were bomb craters the size of football fields and an untold number of casualties.
On February 7, the military still denied that civilians were being targeted. When asked about the allegations, General Richard Neal told the press, “It’s a target-rich environment and there’s plenty of other targets we can attack.”
While Neal was making his statement, Ramsey Clark was traveling throughout Iraq but his assessment differed greatly from that of the general. In describing the reality in Iraq, Clark stated:
Over the 2,000 miles of highway, roads and streets we traveled, we saw scores, probably several hundred, destroyed vehicles. There were oil tank trucks, tractor trailers, lorries, pickup trucks, a public bus, a mini bus, a taxi cab and many private cars destroyed by aerial bombardments and strafing. We found no evidence of military equipment or supplies in the vehicles.
Along the roads, we saw several oil refinery fires and numerous gasoline stations destroyed. One road-repair camp had been bombed on the road to Amman (Jordan). As with the city streets in residential and commercial areas where we witnessed damage, we did not see a single damaged or destroyed military vehicle, tank, armored car, personnel carrier or other military equipment, or evidence of any having been removed.
Basra was probably the hardest-hit city during Desert Storm. There was evidence of weapons that are normally used against military personnel having been deployed in civilian areas of Basra: cluster bombs. Clark saw this evidence and reported:
Small, anti-personnel bombs were alleged to have fallen here (Basra) and we saw what appeared to be one that did not explode imbedded in the rubble. We were shown the shell of a “mother” bomb which carries the small fragmentation bombs.
When he left Iraq in February 1991, Clark gave an overview of the situation:
United States annual military expenditures alone are four times the gross national product of Iraq. The use of highly-sophisticated military technology with mass destructive power against an essentially defenseless civilian population of a poor nation is one of the greatest tragedies of our times.
A few days after Clark left Iraq, an incident occurred that astonished the world. On February 13, a pair of Stealth F-117 bombers dropped two 2,000-pound laser-guided bombs on a concrete building in the Amiryah section of suburban Baghdad. The case-hardened bombs were directed to penetrate the steel reinforced roof and detonate inside. It was a civilian bomb shelter.
The reports of the number of civilians killed in the building — more than half were children — ranged from 400 to more than 1,000. Because the bodies were so badly burned and melted, no one will ever know the exact total.
The U.S. administration first proclaimed that the target was an Iraqi command-and-control post and the dead were Iraqi military personnel. The cameras eventually showed charred bodies of women and children, so the U.S. story had to be revised. The administration then said that the building was a military target in which Saddam Hussein placed civilians to protect the military personnel. Dick Cheney, then the U.S. Secretary of Defense, stated, “Saddam might be resorting to a practice of deliberately placing civilians in harm’s way.”
The U.S. government scrambled to try to explain the massacre of so many people inside a civilian bomb shelter. General Neal stated the government’s case as he said, “From a personal point of view, I’m outraged that civilians might have been placed in harm’s way, and I blame the Iraqi leadership for that.” Unfortunately, many Americans believed Neal’s twisted excuse of blaming the Iraqi leadership for the incineration of hundreds of people by deadly superbombs.
Within a few hours, the truth emerged. The Amiryah bomb shelter was built for civilian defense during the Iran-Iraq War. The engineer who designed it appeared on television and told the world there was no way it could be a military asset.
After the lies were put to rest, it became evident that the U.S. had either mistaken the target as a military venue, or it had deliberately destroyed it knowing it was a bomb shelter. Since February 14, 1991, the subject of the bombing of the Amiryah bomb shelter has been left unspoken in the U.S.
Those inside the bomb shelter died horrific deaths. First, a 2,000-pound bomb crashed through the shelter, creating a massive tunnel in which the second 2,000-pound projectile entered. Then, both exploded, leaving a huge hole. Those who died saw the first bomb and had a few seconds of life left before the second burrowed its way into the shelter and discharged.
Despite the ensuing international outcry about the destruction of the Amiryah shelter, the U.S. did not cut back on the bombing. Actually, the bombing of the Iraqi infrastructure increased. According to Greenpeace in a report called On Impact::
Despite numerous statements of U.S. military leaders that the Iraqi army had been defeated, as well as some confidence that contact between Baghdad and the front in the south had been severed, communications targets, mostly serving civilian functions, continued to be struck and re-struck to the end. If fact, according to Air Force Times, during the final ground phase, “Baghdad was targeted for some of the heaviest bombardments since January 17.”
The cease-fire did not solve all the problems for the civilians of Iraq. Shortly after, George Bush called for the Iraqi people to “take matters into their own hands” in ridding Iraq of its government. For the next few weeks, some Shi’ites in the south, heavily aided and infiltrated by Iranians, wreaked havoc, while certain Kurdish factions started an insurrection in the north of Iraq. There was bloody fighting and at one time, the Shi’ite and Kurdish elements controlled 16 of Iraq’s 18 provinces. Both movements eventually were brought under control by the Iraqi government. Not content with destroying Iraq by bombing it back to a “pre-industrial era,” Bush prompted even more destruction by urging factions within Iraq to overthrow the government. He promised both groups military assistance from the U.S., but none came.
In April 1991, the outside world saw Iraq for the first time since it had been destroyed by U.S. bombs and missiles. The nightmarish pictures started to appear. They showed a country that was bombed so heavily that the most common sites were craters and twisted, melted and devastated structures.
Ramsey Clark made another trip to Iraq to document the devastation. Once there, he noticed an ongoing operation that was meant to terrorize the population:
On our second night there, and several other times, at about 2:30 a.m., U.S. jets flew over the city (Baghdad), deliberately creating an enormous sonic boom that sounded as if the bombing had started again. The next morning, people would describe how their children had awakened in terror.
Clark chronicled the civilian industries that were demolished during the bombing of Iraq:
Twenty minutes outside the city (Baghdad), in Al Taji, we saw the country’s largest frozen meat storage and distribution center; one of two main centers for the entire country, which also included a laboratory for testing meat quality. It had been completely obliterated by the bombing. The center held 14,000 tons of frozen meat. The plant had been bombed three times, at 8:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m., and 8:00 p.m., and workers inside the plant had been killed.
All over Iraq, Clark saw the same mindless destruction. In Babylon, he visited a textile weaving plant that was totally destroyed. The plant was bombed at 3:00 in the afternoon and two women were killed working at their stations. According to the plant manager, Mr. Hassan, the factory was built by an Italian company and the new structure next door, containing no equipment, was untouched.
Dr. Al Qaysi, an Iraqi medical official, put everything in perspective when he stated:
No home remained untouched, no family unharmed, if not through death in the war, through malnutrition, disease, or new-found poverty. This is a return to colonialism. The U.S. is asking for terms like another Treaty of Versailles. Iraq is dependent on the outside world to repair its infrastructure and I fear Iraq will be in a state of permanent human bondage.
The Iraqi Minister of Trade, Mohammed Mahdi Saleh, realized the enormity of the task of trying to rebuild Iraq, particularly with the encompassing trade embargo in place. Despite the U.S. administration maintaining that Iraq was able to import humanitarian goods, there was virtually no way to obtain food, medicine, and parts to repair destroyed machinery. Saleh stated, “If it was possible, the Bush administration would have prevented the air from coming in.”
TEL AVIV — The Israeli military announced late Wednesday evening that the soldier who killed a civilian in his Hebron home would not be discharged, while a second officer who joined in the killing would have his military career “terminated.”
The investigation looked into the death of the death of a civilian during an arrest raid in Hebron targeting Hamas men released from PA custody the day before, where Israeli forces shot and killed a 66-year-old man in his bed, in what appeared to be a case of mistaken identity.
Investigating officer GOC Central Command, Major General Avi Mizrahi was said in a statement to have absolved the officer who started shooting at the sleeping Omer Salim Al-Qawasmi.
The statement said “a suspicious movement [..] caused the soldier to feel that his life was threatened.”
According to the statement, the soldiers fear was excused, “especially having known about the actions of Wael Bitar, a senior Hamas operative who was the main suspect of the arrest operation.”
Al-Bitar, who was detained in June 2008 by what witnesses at the time said were Israeli forces. The arrest followed a violent standoff as Israeli soldiers surrounded and demolished Al-Bitar’s home, after demanding he give up a man who was staying in the building and stood accused of assisting a resistance fighter. The home was demolished around Al-Bitar, and the alleged fighter he was harboring killed in the demolitions. Later reports said Al-Bitar was detained by PA intelligence officials.
Israeli military officials said Al-Bitar assisted in the planning of a 2008 attack that killed one Israeli woman, and was behind the planning of several attacks that were thwarted.
A second soldier, who was also said to have fired on the sleeping man, was found by the inquiry to have “acted unprofessionaly.”
The unidentified officer, “who, having watched the first soldier firing at Qawasme, began firing at him as well.”
According to the military statement the investigating officer concluded that “while the second soldier did feel threatened, he acted unprofessionaly [... and] ordered that the soldier’s military term be terminated.”
It was not clear whether the soldier was honorably or dishonorably discharged.
Mizrahi was said to have “concluded that this firing was executed in accordance with IDF rules of engagement,” though the statement said the death of Al-Qawasmi was “regrettable.”
According to a security source, the officers were part of the “‘Duvdevan’ counter-terrorism elite unit” which was “called in for an arrest operation in the city of Hebron.”
The source described the unit as “a professional, elite unit specializing in close combat, camouflage and assimilation into hostile territory.”
Al-Qawasmi was shot 13 times in the face, neck at torso as he slept.