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Why Does Ukraine Seem So Much Like Syria?

By Daniel McAdams | Ron Paul Institute | February 19, 2014

Ukraine Protest

In Ukraine, US-backed rebels seize weapons from a military depot and begin firing on police — killing at least ten. The rebel groups occupy and torch government buildings, trade union headquarters, the central post office, and political party headquarters. They occupy local government facilities in other cities and physically attack local authorities. Their goal is to overthrow the elected government.

Reports of rebel reinforcements arriving, with “bulky backpacks near the scene of the latest protests,” are suspiciously reminiscent of the “Internet in a Suitcase” project funded by the US government to provide tools for “activists” in regime-change candidate countries. The US has similarly trained and equipped the Syrian rebels.

US-backed rebels are photographed all over Ukraine with weapons, sometimes photographed shooting at police. In Syria, the US covertly provided the weapons and approved Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other “friends of Syria” to provide even more. A Russian official has accused the US of arming the Ukrainian opposition.

As in Syria, where US Ambassador Robert Ford adopted the rebels from the beginning of the insurrection, US officials have beat a steady path to the Ukrainian rebels to offer their support and assistance. Senator John McCain has even dined with Svoboda Party president Oleh Tyahnybok, shown here in a rather different pose. US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland was recorded plotting the overthrow and replacement of the Ukrainian government with the US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt.

Pyatt, a man surely devoid of any sense of self-reflection, boldly proclaimed that his recorded plotting to overthrow of the Ukrainian government was merely “helping to build bridges between the government and the opposition.” Of course in a strict sense that is true: he is actively engaged in building a bridge to government power for the Ukrainian opposition.

The Syrian rebels are presented as a moderate group of would-be democrats seeking political reform; Ukrainian rebels are presented as a bunch of pro-Western, pro-EU “peaceful demonstrators.” In both cases the real power on the streets has been radical extremists with whom US officials have had considerable contact.

In Syria, President Assad responded early on to the unrest with offers of compromise, including agreeing to hold a constitutional referendum which put an end to generations of one-party rule. In Ukraine, President Yanukovich granted amnesty to violent protesters, rescinded legislation seen as inhibiting protest, fired his government at the request of the opposition and even offered to name opposition leaders to a new interim government. Each move toward compromise and appeasement of the opposition was met with increased violence and escalating demands on the part of the rebels, most recently in Ukraine after opposition leaders met with US and EU officials at a security conference in Munich.

President Obama sternly warns the Ukrainian government against restoring order: “We expect the Ukrainian government to show restraint, to not resort to violence in dealing with peaceful protesters.” He cryptically hinted at possible US escalation, stating: “We’ll be monitoring very carefully the situation, recognizing that, along with our European partners and the international community, there will be consequences if people step over the line.”

He similarly warned Syrian president Assad against taking action to defend the country against armed rebels fighting for its overthrow.

Another red line drawn? This time on Russia’s doorstep?

Here again is the million dollar question: What would Washington do if rebels intent on overthrowing the Obama regime raided military weapons depots, killed at least ten police officers and wounded dozens of others, set Washington D.C. on fire, occupied key government buildings including the US Capitol complex, and demanded a change in the Constitution favoring their ascendance to power?

Obama warned the Ukraine government to make sure the “Ukrainian military does not step in to resolve issues that could be resolved by civilians.” The US military was called in to quell a far less significant protest in Seattle over the World Trade Organization meeting there in 1999.

The US Capitol area has been on “lockdown” innumerable times over such “threats” as a mentally disturbed woman driving erratically — who was unarmed and shot dead by police.

One need not side with either opposing group in Ukraine to point out the choking hypocrisy of the US position.

But what is truly remarkable are the many similarities between what has been happening in Syria and what is now happening in Ukraine. It almost seems as if the same hand with the same playbook is plotting both regime change operations.

February 22, 2014 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Why Does Ukraine Seem So Much Like Syria?

Invasions of the Mind Snatchers

By Nebojsa Malic | Ron Paul Institute | February 19, 2014

otporlogoMany empires have risen and fallen over the course of recorded history. All were created by force. Yet all have tried to legitimize that force, by passing laws and seeking to establish some sort of order that would outlive their military supremacy. Some have been more successful at this than others. The Atlantic Empire, on the other hand, is the only example in history of an imperial enterprise destroying its own laws, undermining its own legitimacy in pursuit of power.

Atlantist politicians invoke “democracy” almost as a totem, a sacred idea whose veneration magically bestows legitimacy upon governments and peoples. Thus framed, the totem does not bear closer scrutiny, and even defies definition. It is whatever the Empire says it is.

In actuality, democracy is just one political decision-making process. Politics, like chess or football, is a stand-in for war, designed to ritualize conflict so as to prevent bloodshed. As long as everyone abides by the rules, and accepts the restrictions of the system, that is all fine and good. Democracy has been described as “civil war with ballots instead of bullets.” Once someone decides to cheat, or even rewrite the rules to “I win, you lose,” the ballots lose their meaning. And bullets are the only thing left.

Or are they? Though the Atlantic Empire has not hesitated to use brute force to impose its will (e.g. the 1999 “Kosovo War”), such interventions have always been risky, costly and complicated. In 1999, for example, it took 78 days for the combined might of NATO to win a negotiated armistice with the outnumbered and outgunned Yugoslavia, allowing the Empire to occupy the province of Kosovo, but not the country entire. So the Atlantists turned to other means.

A student organization, “Otpor,” was taken over and turned into a revolutionary force. With millions of dollars in US taxpayer funding, promotional materials, “training” by the National Endowment for Democracy and other government instructors in nearby Hungary, these “activists” ran a media campaign against the Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government rounded up some 18 opposition parties, wrote their program, and handpicked the front-man for the presidential elections of September 2000: a mild-mannered translator of the Federalist Papers who was never supposed to have any actual power. That would be reserved for the real leader of the “Democratic Opposition of Serbia” (DOS), whose popular support ran in single digits.

The government was caught between “Otpor” and DOS, appealing to the citizenry not to elect foreign agents. When the results of the election showed that DOS did not win, but may have won enough votes to force a runoff, “Otpor” activists and militia personally loyal to the DOS leader started a riot, burning the ballots at the National Assembly building. When the military and the police refused to intervene, president Milosevic resigned. It later emerged that the head of Yugoslavia’s state security had been a CIA informant for almost a decade, as were several high-ranking generals.

If this scenario sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Having been successfully tested in Serbia, the model was then applied elsewhere: 2003 in Georgia (“Rose Revolution”), 2004 in Ukraine (“Orange Revolution”), 2005 in Kyrgizstan (“Tulip Revolution”) and Lebanon (“Cedar Revolution”). The “Jeans Revolution” in Belarus (2006) failed, as did the “Green Revolution” in Iran (2009) and the “White Revolution” in Russia (2012). In all cases, the supposedly popular revolt followed a pattern straight out of the playbook used in Serbia – even to the clenched-fist symbol used by the “student activists” supposedly organizing the protests.

In early 2011, a series of revolts erupted in North Africa, bearing all the hallmarks of the astroturf “color revolutions”: governments were toppled in Tunisia and Egypt. Fringe protests in Libya and Syria escalated into all-out civil war. Meanwhile, a genuine popular protest in Bahrain was crushed by force; Bahrain is a major U.S. fleet base and a client-state of Saudi Arabia.

In every case, the Western media narrative has been the same: young people everywhere demanding “democracy” and overthrowing the evil regimes oppressing them. And if there is any fault to be found in Washington on EU capitals, it is for “standing idly by” and “not helping enough.”

In mid-2011, some European filmmakers made a documentary called “The Revolution Business”, daring to notice the common thread in the supposedly spontaneous outpourings of street riots demanding democracy throughout the world. They spent a lot of time with Srdja Popovic, former Otpor leader that went on to become a professional revolutionary. Otpor having folded years ago into Serbia’s ruling Democratic Party, Popovic now runs an outfit called CANVAS (Center for Applied NonViolent Action and Strategies), lecturing all over the world and training activists in dozens of countries to replicate the Serbian coup. In that mission he is helped by an instruction booklet written by Gene Sharp, a scholar from Boston.

The tactics and techniques of the revolutionaries have been described in some detail, both in Sharp’s book and by outside observers (such as John Laughland). Suffice to say they are all about exploiting the genuine public sentiment — real discontent where it exists, manufactured where it does not — and using the tricks from their toolbox to nudge it in the desired direction.

They always target the young, known for the excess of zeal and shortage of forethought. Who doesn’t want freedom and democracy – which they envision as the hedonist lifestyle seen on American films and TV. And here are all these “consultants”, teaching them for “free”. Even those who dislike and mistrust the Empire find it hard to argue against such gifts without seeming unduly paranoid.

Between the anvil of internal rebellion and the hammer of the Imperial media and diplomatic assault, the “oppressive regime” usually loses its nerve and folds. The “good democrats” installed in power soon start ruling in the interest of the Empire, and the activists realize the “training and consultation” they received weren’t free after all. The Empire always collects its debts.

Yet the revolutionaries rarely revolt after finding out they’ve been used thus. Even if they somehow overcame the crushingly demoralizing effect of finding out they were the agents of their own subjugation, that very fact destroys their credibility at home. Having supped from the cannibal pot, they are marked forever.

Then there are some who enjoy the taste, and become willing agents of the Empire. Popovic is proud of his revolution-exporting adventures.  He gladly points out that the Otpor logo — a stenciled fist — has been used by local franchises from Ukraine to Venezuela. On several occasions, the backdrop to Popovic is an Otpor poster, showing the fist and the motto, “Because I love Serbia.” It is a particularly vicious lie: in the Serbia the Empire had Otpor create, only those who hate it prosper.

Popovic does try to obscure his Imperial connections, claiming that CANVAS is an entirely private organization, funded with Serbian money. Why, then, is its name an English acronym? And where did they get the money, in a country first systematically impoverished by a decade of UN sanctions, then bombed to rubble, and finally looted by the Empire’s “democrats”? So looted, in fact, that rummaging through garbage is close to becoming a major branch of agriculture…

And that is the other thing no one dares mention about the “color revolutions”: the governments they put into power are inevitably lackeys of the Empire, imposing horrifyingly destructive policies at home. Even when the people try to vote them out, the Empire simply bribes the winning politicians into switching sides, as it has done in Serbia in 2008 and 2012. Recent events in Ukraine, following the government’s rejection of an economic suicide offer from the EU, demonstrate that the Empire has become more desperate and less scrupulous about denying reality when doing so suits its interests. The legitimately elected government in Kiev has been demonized as “abolishing democracy,” while the violent protesters – representing fringe leaders micro-managed by U.S. and German diplomats – are extolled as authentic democrats and patriots.

Tracing the pattern of astroturfed “revolutions” over the past decade and a half, one cannot help but notice that they are suffering from diminishing marginal returns. In Serbia, a threat of violence and a lot of smoke and mirrors were sufficient to topple the government that successfully defended against conventional warfare. Eleven years later in Libya, it actually took an open military intervention (“kinetic military action” in Pentagonese) to make the rebels win, while the Syrian rebels are steadily losing the war despite all the aid and propaganda in their favor.

Another pernicious consequence of CANVAS in the governments the Empire decides to dislike is that any legitimate protest against genuinely repressive governments becomes that much less likely. Having seen country after country devastated by “color revolutions”, ruining the future of millions for the sake of a handful of quislings, people around the world are that much more reluctant to take politics into the streets. And with the ballot box increasingly discredited by Empire-backed “democrats” who refused to accept democracy if and when they lose, elections may soon become discredited as well. Leaving what, exactly, as a civilized form of conflict-resolution?

The Empire claims to champion democracy, but the end result of its actions is the exact opposite. There is no world order at work here, new or otherwise. Just chaos.

February 22, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Invasions of the Mind Snatchers

Andrew Revkin Loses The Plot, Episode XXXVIII

By Willis Eschenbach | Watts Up With That? | February 22, 2014

I went over to Andy Revkin’s site to be entertained by his latest fulminations against “denialists”. Revkin, as you may remember from the Climategate emails, was the main go-to media lapdog for the various unindicted Climategate co-conspirators. His latest post is a bizarre mishmash of allegations, bogus claims, and name-calling. Most appositely, given his history of blind obedience to his oh-so-scientific masters like Phil Jones and Michael Mann, he illustrated it with this graphic which presumably shows Revkin’s response when confronted with actual science:

revkin monkeys

I was most amused, however, to discover what this man who claims to be reporting on science has to say about the reason for the very existence of his blog:

By 2050 or so, the human population is expected to reach nine billion, essentially adding two Chinas to the number of people alive today. Those billions will be seeking food, water and other resources on a planet where, scientists say, humans are already shaping climate and the web of life. In Dot Earth, which moved from the news side of The Times to the Opinion section in 2010, Andrew C. Revkin examines efforts to balance human affairs with the planet’s limits. Conceived in part with support from a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, Dot Earth tracks relevant developments from suburbia to Siberia.

Really? Let’s look at the numbers put up by this charmingly innumerate fellow.

Here’s how the numbers play out. I agree with Revkin, most authorities say the population will top out at about nine billion around 2050. I happen to think they are right, not because they are authorities, but because that’s what my own analysis of the numbers has to say. Hey, color me skeptical, I don’t believe anyone’s numbers.

In any case, here are the FAO numbers for today’s population:

PRESENT GLOBAL POPULATION: 7.24 billion

PRESENT CHINESE POPULATION: 1.40 billion

PRESENT POPULATION PLUS REVKIN’S “TWO CHINAS”: 10.04 billion

So Revkin is only in error by one billion people … but heck, given his historic defense of scientific malfeasance, and his ludicrous claims about “denialists” and “denialism”, that bit of innumeracy pales by comparison.

Despite that, Revkin’s error is not insignificant. From the present population to 9 billion, where the population is likely to stabilize, is an increase of about 1.75 billion. IF Revkin’s claims about two Chinas were correct, the increase would be 2.8 billion. So his error is 2.8/1.75 -1, which means his numbers are 60% too high. A 60% overestimation of the size of the problem that he claims to be deeply concerned about? … bad journalist, no cookies.

Now, for most science reporters, a 60% error in estimating the remaining work to be done on the problem they’ve identified as the most important of all issues, the problem they say is the raison d’etre of their entire blog … well, that kind of a mistake would matter to them. They would hasten to correct an error of that magnitude. For Revkin, however, a 60% error is lost in the noise of the rest of his ludicrous ideas and his endless advocacy for shonky science …

My prediction? He’ll leave the bogus alarmist population claim up there on his blog, simply because a “denialist” pointed out his grade-school arithmetic error, and changing even a jot or a tittle in response to a “denialist” like myself would be an unacceptable admission of fallibility …

My advice?

Don’t get your scientific info from a man who can’t add to ten … particularly when he is nothing but a pathetic PR shill for bogus science and disingenuous scientists …

February 22, 2014 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | , , | Comments Off on Andrew Revkin Loses The Plot, Episode XXXVIII

Obama’s Next Assassination Target

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February 22, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite, Video | , , | Comments Off on Obama’s Next Assassination Target

What Happens When You Marry The NSA’s Surveillance Database With Amazon’s Personalized Marketing?

By Glyn Moody | Techdirt | February 21, 2014

By now, most people who shop online are aware of the way in which companies try to tailor their offers based on your previous purchasing and browsing history. Being followed by strangely relevant ads everywhere is bad enough, but what if the government started using the same approach in its communications with you? That’s one of the key ideas explored in an interesting new article by Zeynep Tufekci, strikingly presented on Medium, with the title “Is the Internet good or bad? Yes.”

Tufekci suggests that neither of the two main metaphors regularly wheeled out for today’s global surveillance — George Orwell’s “1984” and Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon — is right:

To understand the actual — and truly disturbing — power of surveillance, it’s better to turn to a thinker who knows about real prisons: the Italian writer, politician, and philosopher Antonio Gramsci, who was jailed by Mussolini and did most of his work while locked up. Gramsci understood that the most powerful means of control available to a modern capitalist state is not coercion or imprisonment, but the ability to shape the world of ideas.

The question then becomes: how can people’s ideas be shaped so as to control them? Simply bombarding the population with messages only works for a while, until people become jaded and resistant to them. That’s where Edward Snowden’s revelations about “big data surveillance” come in, Tufekci suggests:

Individually tailored, subtle messages are less likely to produce a cynical reaction. Especially so if the data collection that makes these messages possible is unseen. That’s why it’s not only the NSA that goes to great lengths to keep its surveillance hidden. Most Internet firms also try to monitor us surreptitiously.

She’s worried about this approach being used to influence people’s political behavior, and points to a recent study in Nature that explored precisely this area:

By altering a message designed to encourage people to vote so that it came with affirmation from a person’s social network, rather than being impersonal, the researchers had shown that they could persuade more people to participate in an election. Combine such nudges with psychological profiles, drawn from our online data, and a political campaign could achieve a level of manipulation that exceeds that possible via blunt television adverts.

Indeed, Tufekci thinks the process has already begun:

During a break [in a conference called “Data-Crunched Democracy”], I cornered the chief scientist on Obama’s data analytics team, who in a previous job ran data analytics for supermarkets. I asked him if what he does now — marketing politicians the way grocery stores market products on their shelves — ever worried him. It’s not about Obama or Romney, I said. This technology won’t always be used by your team. In the long run, the advantage will go to the highest bidder, the richer campaign.

He shrugged, and retreated to the most common cliché used to deflect the impact of technology: “It’s just a tool,” he said. “You can use it for good; you can use it for bad.”

That’s hardly very comforting, and neither is Tufekci’s concluding thought:

Internet technology lets us peel away layers of divisions and distractions and interact with one another, human to human. At the same time, the powerful are looking at those very interactions, and using them to figure out how to make us more compliant. That’s why surveillance, in the service of seduction, may turn out to be more powerful and scary than the nightmares of Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Follow Glyn Moody @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

February 22, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | | Comments Off on What Happens When You Marry The NSA’s Surveillance Database With Amazon’s Personalized Marketing?

NY state steps up surveillance on…kids

New York state authorities are planning to step-up surveillance – this time, on school kids. The program, which is to be launched state-wide, is supposed to gather information on students starting from the age of five. And as RT’s Marina Portnaya reports, the move is finding little support among parents.

February 22, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Comments Off on NY state steps up surveillance on…kids

Protest Coverage in Haiti and Venezuela Reveals U.S. Media Hypocrisy

By Kevin Edmonds | NACLA | February 21, 2014

The media coverage of the events unfolding in Venezuela provides a troubling example of how the imperial ambitions of the United States can magnify crises—especially when contrasted with the current political situation in Haiti.

Both Venezuela and Haiti have been facing anti-government protests, with the respective oppositions citing poor leadership, corruption, electoral fraud, and a deteriorating economy as their primary motivations in calling for change. However, the international media’s escalation of the Venezuelan crisis and their complete silence when it comes to Haiti, raises some important questions about the United States’ inconsistency in upholding the values of human rights and democracy.

Haiti has been enduring a political crisis since the highly controversial election of President Michel Martelly, who received his mandate from only 16.7 percent of registered voters, and has been running the country without a fully functioning government in order to avoid dealing with constitutionally mandated checks and balances. For the third year in a row, Martelly has promised to hold elections to fill legislative and local seats without yet following through.

As evidence of Martelly’s unbridled commitment to democracy, instead of holding elections for mayors whose terms expired in 2012, he personally handpicked the representatives, appointing them as “municipal agents.” As a result of Martelly’s political inaction on the national level, one third of the seats in the Haitian Senate remain empty. This congressional inability to establish quorum on issues of national importance has been particularly convenient for the President. In September 2013, the Senate put forward a resolution to indict President Martelly, Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, and the Minister of Justice Jean Renel Sanon for high treason, lying to the public, and playing a harmful role in the death of Judge Jean Serge Joseph.

Earlier in 2013, Judge Joseph had been given the task of overseeing a high profile corruption investigation against President Michel Martelly’s wife Sophia and their son Olivier. Judge Joseph had reported receiving threats to dismiss the corruption case during a meeting with Martelly, the Prime Minister, and the Minister of Justice and Public Security. Joseph refused, and two days later he died under suspicious circumstances.

Because the Haitian Senate has only 16 of 30 members currently active, the impeachment vote was not passed on a technicality. This was in spite of the decision, which saw 7 of the 16 members vote in favor of Martelly’s impeachment, with 9 abstentions and 0 voting against the motion. According to the Haitian Constitution, abstentions do not count as votes—with Article 117 stating that “All acts of the Legislature must be approved by a majority of the members present [emphasis added].” Thus, in regular circumstances the decision by the Senate would move forward with the impeachment. Therefore, this purposefully fragmented political system does a great deal to serve the interests of impunity.

This political crisis is especially worrying when the murder of opposition leaders in Haiti has gone largely unreported in the international press. Most recently, on February 8, Daniel Dorsainvil, one of Haiti’s leading human rights activists and his wife Girldy Lareche were gunned down in Port au Prince. While conflicted motives for the shooting have emerged, Haiti’s human rights community fears that the murders were politically motivated. Dorsainvil was the Coordinator of the Platform for Haitian Organizations for the Defense of Human Rights (POHDH). POHDH was established after the coup d’état of Jean Bertrand Aristide in 1991. According to POHDH’s website, “The systematic suppression of the military against the democratic and popular movement, which followed this event, and the mass amount of human rights violations in general, was the motivation for social and community development organizations to regroup with the purpose of initiating actions specifically in the field of human rights.”

A civil engineer by training, Dorsainvil had been a tireless advocate for justice, routinely speaking out against the Martelly government for its disregard of human rights, political scandals, and the consistent delaying of elections. Dorsainvil’s latest initiative was the establishment of the Patriotic People’s Democratic Movement (MPDP), a group of thirty political and social organizations openly standing in opposition to Martelly’s government. While this attack is tragic on its own, it comes after numerous threats against Haitian human rights defenders such as Patrice Florvilus, Mario Joseph, and André Michel.

In May 2013, Patrice Florvilus, the Executive Director of Defenders of the Oppressed, was subjected to numerous death threats. Margaret Satterthwaite, Director of the Global Justice Clinic at New York University School of Law, remarked:

The targeting of Patrice Florvilus and other attorneys demonstrates a troubling pattern of state obstruction of legitimate human rights work in Haiti…The government’s use of state institutions such as law enforcement, and its failure to address judicial and extra-legal threats leave human rights defenders dangerously exposed. All sectors of the government, from the police to the courts, are responsible for safeguarding human rights.

Due to the neglect and failure of the Haitian government to protect Florvilus and his family from attacks, he has had to relocate to Montreal in December 2013.

In October 2013, human rights lawyer Andre Michel was arrested by the Haitian National Police due to his initiation of legal proceedings against Martelly’s wife and son related to charges of corruption, which Judge Joseph oversaw before his death. Haitian human rights organizations condemned the arrest as an arbitrary and politically motivated attempt to intimidate human rights activists and members of the opposition.

Thus, while Martelly was praised by President Obama in early February for his leadership, Haiti has also seen a slew of anti-government protests due to the political crisis, human rights abuses, and economic decline. The lack of media attention regarding Martelly’s consistent attacks on popular organizations and human rights defenders in Haiti, in contrast to Venezuela is a stark reminder of how abuses of power can be marginalized if one has influential friends in the right places.

February 22, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Comments Off on Protest Coverage in Haiti and Venezuela Reveals U.S. Media Hypocrisy

Death Toll in Venezuela Clashes Rises to Ten

By Ewan Robertson | Venezuelanalysis | February 21, 2014

Mérida – According to authorities and press reports a total of ten people have now died in connection with violent protests in Venezuela. The government and the opposition blame each other for the situation.

Summary of the deaths

Of the ten deaths recorded in connection with the violence so far, five occurred in the Caracas area. Three of these deaths resulted from violent clashes on 12 February between opposition activists, security forces and in a few cases, Chavistas. A Venezuelan intelligence service officer has been arrested in connection with one of the deaths. Authorities report that investigations into the events are “almost complete” and the results will be presented to the country soon.

On Tuesday Genesis Carmona, a student and former beauty queen, was shot during an opposition march in Valencia. According to national newspaper Ultimas Noticias, witnesses said an armed pro-government group attacked the march. However authorities say ballistic investigations show the woman was shot from behind “from within opposition ranks”, and claim that witnesses on the scene have confirmed this.

Five of the deaths occurred on the barricades that hard-line opposition supporters have erected in several Venezuelan cities to block the flow of traffic and pressure President Nicolas Maduro’s resignation.

On Tuesday a 17 year old student was run over by a car while trying to block a road as part of protests. The man accused of running him over has been arrested.

Meanwhile on Wednesday a public attorney, Julio Eduardo González, died when he crashed his car trying to drive around a barricade in Valencia. Yesterday a woman, Delia Elena Lobo, died after crashing her motorbike into a barbed wire street barricade in Mérida.

The ninth to die is Arturo Alexis Martinez, the brother of a socialist party parliamentary deputy, Francisco Martínez. He was shot dead in Barquisimeto while trying to clear away the burning remains of an opposition road barricade. An investigation has been launched into the incident.

A tenth person was confirmed dead this evening. Elvis Rafael Durán died in the Sucre municipality of Caracas after riding his motorbike into an unseen barbed wire barricade.

Venezuelan press initially reported a another death following a shooting attack against a pro-government “march for peace” in Bolivar state on Wednesday, in which industrial workers from the region participated. However it later resulted that the worker in question had not died, but was seriously wounded. Nine were wounded in the incident, and sixteen have been arrested. A video taken of the shooting appears to show hooded figures firing at the march from a nearby building.

Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz said today that a total of 137 people have been wounded as a result of the violence, of which 37 are members of security forces and 100 are civilians. Twenty-four people are currently being held by authorities to be charged for specific “violent acts”.

Venezuela has experienced a wave of opposition protests over the past few weeks. The demonstrations, led by pro-opposition students, began after hard-line opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez called on supporters to go onto the streets and seek the “exit” of President Nicolas Maduro. Demonstrators also mention food shortages, crime and corruption as reasons for discontent.

While many protests have been peaceful, others have descended into violent clashes with security forces, and on occasion, Chavistas. Meanwhile a violent element within the opposition has embarked on a strategy of burning street barricades, rioting and attacking property and civilians.

On Tuesday Lopez handed himself in to authorities, to be charged with incitement of criminal acts, among other offenses.

Debating responsibility

The government squarely blames the right-wing opposition for causing the violence, and accuses them of trying to create the conditions for a “state coup”.

“Venezuela is victim of an attack by the extreme-right to destabilise us, to take us into civil war,” said Maduro tonight. The president also alleged that the opposition has paid youths from “criminal gangs” to participate in the violent street actions.

However the opposition says the violence is being perpetrated by security forces and pro-government “paramilitaries”.

“State security forces, accompanied by paramilitary groups, have cruelly attacked peaceful and defenceless protesters…leaving a lamentable tally of citizens assassinated, seriously wounded, tortured and disappeared,” claimed the opposition’s Democratic Unity Table (MUD) coalition in a statement today.

President Maduro repeated his stance tonight that armed opposition groups, armed pro-government groups, and state security forces that fire weapons during protests will not be tolerated. “I won’t protect anyone in this country who fires during protests,” he said.

Maduro appeared to refer to an incident on 12 February in Caracas, with video evidence suggesting that several intelligence service (SEBIN) officers fired at a group of opposition protesters. All SEBIN officers were under presidential orders to remain indoors that day.

“I asked that no one go out onto the street, less so with guns. And they went out with guns. Ah, it looks a lot like the format of the state coup [of April 2002]. I’m investigating all of this, and if elements [of an inside plot] appeared I’d say it to my country…that there are plotters inside the government or that an officer has been bought. I’d say it with all of the willpower I have,” he stated.

The president also mentioned an audio recording, allegedly of a conversation between two opposition figures, which suggested that a plot was in place to create a “massacre” on 12 February.

The recording is claimed to be of a conversation on 11 February between former Venezuelan ambassador to Colombia, Fernando Gerbasi, and the head of the presidential guard during the Carlos Andres Perez presidency, Iván Carratú Molina. In the audio, the voice that is claimed to be Gerbasi, is heard saying, “Look, they inform me that [there will be] something very similar to 11 April [2002]…tomorrow”.

In light of the situation in the country, the government has repeated that it supports “social peace” and that it is open to “dialogue” with the opposition.

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles today accused the government of “manufacturing another 11 April”, and demanded “proof” of an opposition coup plot. He also argued for opposition protests to have greater “orientation”, criticising the “exit” strategy as being an “alleyway without an exit”.

CNN warning

There is fresh controversy over media reporting in Venezuela after President Maduro argued that CNN is trying to “justify a civil war in Venezuela for a military intervention”.

Saying that the channel’s reporting represents “war propaganda”, he warned that CNN would be prohibited from transmitting in Venezuela if it didn’t “rectify”.

“Twenty-four hours a day their programming is about war. They want to show the world there’s a civil war in Venezuela,” he said last night.

CNN has since confirmed that seven of its reporters have had their press accreditation removed.

“CNN has reported both sides of the tense situation in Venezuela, even with very limited access to government officials. We hope the government will reconsider its decision [to revoke the credentials]. Meanwhile, we will continue reporting on Venezuela in the fair, accurate and balanced manner that we are known for,” said CNN Español in a statement.

Maduro’s warning comes after the government removed Colombian channel NTN24 from Venezuelan cable services on 12 February, accusing it’s manner of covering the violent events as promoting “ a state coup like April 2002”. The channel said the move was an attack on freedom of expression.

Maduro has been a fierce critic of international media coverage of Venezuela during the on-going protests. “In the world, we’re confronting the most brutal manipulation [of information] that the Bolivarian revolution has faced since the state coup of 2002,” he said tonight.

February 22, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | Comments Off on Death Toll in Venezuela Clashes Rises to Ten

Most Venezuelans have a blind spot on their own country according to James Bloodworth

By Joe Emersberger | ZBlogs | February 20, 2014

James Bloodworth, when he isn’t applauding Obama’s murderous drone attacks on Pakistan, occasionally takes time out to complain about leftists supporting the Venezuelan government. He claims that Venezuela has become a “nightmare” and that, despite elections that he appears to acknowledge are clean and transparent, Venezuelans are, nevertheless, “living under tyranny” because of the government’s “unwillingness to tolerate dissent”.

Bloodworth says that he supported the Chavista movement when a US backed coup violently ousted Hugo Chavez in 2002. “I have no trouble remembering which side I was on” he claims – very dubiously as I’ll explain.

Bloodworth doesn’t remember that Leopoldo Lopez was among the leaders of that coup. This video shows Leopoldo Lopez and Henrique Capriles (a state governor who ran against Maduro in April of 2013) supervising the illegal “arrest” of a Chavez government minister during the 2002 coup.  Bloodworth objects to Lopez’s arrest for leading protests over the past few weeks that are clearly aimed at repeating what happened in 2002, but Bloodworth never considers an incredibly obvious point. Lopez would have been locked up for decades (if he were lucky) had he participated in the violent overthrow of the UK or US governments.  If not for the Venezuelan government’s unusually high tolerance for dissent, Lopez and Capriles (his “moderate” ally) would never have been around to lead protests, much less hold public office as Capriles now does.   One can only shudder at what their fate would have been in the USA after participating in a briefly successful coup. Chelsea Manning has been locked up for years and openly tortured simply for exposing human rights abuses and embarrassing the US government. Manning will not be leading violent protests or holding public office (even if she wanted to) any time soon.

Bloodworth also forgets (or more likely doesn’t know or care) that Human Rights Watch (HRW) utterly disgraced itself during the 2002 coup. He takes HRW assessments of Venezuela at face value but does not recall that during the 2002 coup HRW failed to denounce the coup, failed to call on other countries not to recognize the Carmona dictatorship, failed to invoke the OAS charter, and did not call for an investigation of US involvement.  Thankfully, most governments in the region denounced the 2002 coup at once, exactly as HRW would have done had it not been penetrated by US State Department officials and other elites as Keane Bhatt recently noted.

Bloodworth’s effort to dismiss the Venezuelan government’s record on poverty alleviation is pitifully inept.  He considers only the 2007-2011 period to argue that Venezuela’s record is unimpressive compared to Brazil, Uruguay and Peru. Does he not recall that Hugo Chavez first took office in 1999? Could somebody who claims to have opposed the 2002 coup be that ignorant? The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC) found that from “1999 to 2010 Venezuela achieved the second highest rate of poverty reduction”.   Extreme poverty fell by 70% during Hugo Chavez’s time in office.  The 2002 coup and related efforts to overthrow the Chavez government severely disrupted progress for about 2 years or the economic gains might have been even better.  Bloodworth might know this if he had actually opposed the 2002 coup as he claims he did.

Predictably, Bloodworth promotes the most cherished dogma of Venezuelan government opponents over the past 15 years:  the myth of the voiceless opposition. The Carter Commission exploded this myth very effectively last year – without really trying to and in very polite language. It examined TV news media during crucial weeks of the April, 2013 Presidential election that pitted Henrique Capriles against Nicolas Maduro. It found a 57% to 34% edge in coverage for Maduro over Capriles by simply totaling minutes of coverage on the major networks. That finding alone refutes the myth of the voiceless opposition but it gets worse for people who peddle this myth. Three quarters of Capriles’ coverage was in the private news media which (the Carter Commission found) had nearly three times the audience share (72% to 24%) of the state news media where Maduro received most of his coverage.

Bloodworth has nothing to say about Maduro government opponents spreading falsified images of the protests through social media – a tactic they could rely on the private media to deploy on a massive scale in 2002. The most anti-democratic faction of the opposition claims that media coverage of their protests is now inadequate and that is enough for Bloodworth to completely agree.  Similarly, one of the sources Bloodworth uncritically cites about Venezuela’s economy is Moisés Naím, one of the architects of the brutal austerity polices of the early 1990s that ultimately led to the Caracazo uprisings in which up to 3000 people were murdered by Venezuela’s security forces. Does Bloodworth not know this about Naím, or just not care?

In order to claim that violent deaths are more numerous in Venezuela than Iraq, Bloodworth  ignores peer reviewed scientific studies (published in 2006, 2008 and 2013) showing that anywhere from one half to only one twelfth of violent deaths are captured in Iraq by standard data collection methods. He also appears oblivious to scholarly research suggesting that Venezuela’s murder rate may have been falling since 2008.

Perhaps worst of all, Bloodworth completely ignores the decisive defeat the opposition received in December’s municipal elections which the opposition worked very hard to frame as a referendum on Maduro’s government. The results were easy to understand if one looks beyond the reactionary talking points about Venezuela’s economy that Bloodworth mindlessly parrots. The economy has not gone into recession since Maduro was elected despite the spike in inflation. Moreover inflation is not a direct measure of living standards. Many of the poorest countries in the world have very low levels of inflation (Mali, Rwanda, Chad among others).

Additionally, despite serious economic problems in 2013 poverty fell from 21.6 to 19.6%, extreme poverty from 6.3 to 5.5%, unemployment from 5.9% to 5.6%

It is not really foreign supporters of Maduro’s government whom Bloodworth attempts to dismiss, it is the majority of Venezuelan voters.

February 22, 2014 Posted by | Deception | , , , | Comments Off on Most Venezuelans have a blind spot on their own country according to James Bloodworth

U.S. Adopts Israeli Demand to Bring Iran’s Missiles into Nuclear Talks

By Gareth Porter | IPS | February 22, 2014 

The Barack Obama administration’s insistence that Iran discuss its ballistic missile programme in the negotiations for a comprehensive nuclear agreement brings its position into line with that of Israel and senators who introduced legislation drafted by the pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC aimed at torpedoing the negotiations.

But the history of the issue suggests that the Obama administration knows that Iran will not accept the demand and that it is not necessary to a final agreement guaranteeing that Iran’s nuclear programme is not used for a weapon.

White House spokesman Jay Carney highlighted the new U.S. demand in a statement Wednesday that the Iranians “have to deal with matters related to their ballistic missile program.”

Carney cited United Nations Security Council resolution 1929, approved in 2010, which prohibited any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including missile launches. “So that’s completely agreed by Iran in the Joint Plan of Action,” he added.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif not only explicitly contradicted Carney’s claim that Iran had agreed to discuss ballistic missiles but warned that a U.S. demand for discussion of its missile programme would violate a red line for Iran.

“Nothing except Iran’s nuclear activities will be discussed in the talks with the [six powers known as the P5+1], and we have agreed on it,” he said, according to Iran’s IRNA.

The push back by Zarif implies that the U.S. position would seriously risk the breakdown of the negotiations if the Obama administration were to persist in making the demand.

Contrary to Carney’s statement, the topic of ballistic missiles is not part of the interim accord reached last November. The Joint Plan of Action refers only to “addressing the UN Security Council resolutions, with a view toward bringing to a satisfactory conclusion the UN Security Council’s consideration of this matter” and the formation of a “Joint Commission” which would “work with the IAEA to facilitate resolution of past and present issues of concern”.

It is not even clear that the U.S. side took the position in the talks last fall that Iran’s missile programme had to be on the table in order to complete a final agreement. But in any event it was not part of the Joint Plan of Action agreed on Nov. 24.

Past U.S. statements on the problem of the Security Council resolutions indicate that the administration had previously acknowledged that no agreement had been reached to negotiate on ballistic missiles and that it had not originally intended to press for discussions on the issue.

The “senior administration officials” who briefed journalists on the Joint Plan of Action last November made no reference to ballistic missiles at all. They referred only to “possible military dimensions” of the Iranian nuclear programme and to “Iranian activities at Parchin”.

The demand for negotiations on Iran’s missile programme originated with Israel, both directly and through Senate Foreign Relations Committee members committed to AIPAC’s agenda.

Citing an unnamed senior Israeli official, Ha’aretz reported Thursday that Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Yuval Steinitz had met with Sherman and senior French and British foreign ministry officials before the start of the February talks and had emphasised that Iran’s missile programme “must be part of the agenda” for negotiation of a final agreement.

By early December, however, Israel was engaged in an even more direct effort to pressure the administration to make that demand, drafting a bill that explicitly included among its provisions one that would have required new sanctions unless the president certified that “Iran has not conducted any tests for ballistic missiles with a range exceeding 500 kilometers.”

Since Iran had obviously tested missiles beyond that limit long ago, it would have made it impossible for Obama to make such a certification.

Although the bill was stopped, at least temporarily, in the Senate when enough Democratic members refused to support it, Republicans on the committee continued to attack the administration’s negotiating position, and began singling out the administration’s tolerance of Iranian missiles in particular.

At a Feb. 4 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, the ranking Republican on the Committee, Sen. Robert Corker, ripped into Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, the chief U.S. negotiator in the nuclear talks with Iran.

After a highly distorted picture of Iran’s readiness to build a nuclear weapon, Corker asked, “Why did you all not in this agreement in any way address the delivery mechanisms, the militarizing of nuclear arms? Why was that left off since they breached a threshold everyone acknowledges?”

But instead of correcting Corker’s highly distorted characterisation of the situation, Sherman immediately reassured him that the administration would do just what he wanted them to do.

Sherman admitted that the November agreement covering the next months had not “shut down all the production of any ballistic missile that could have anything to do with delivery of a nuclear weapon.” Then she added, “But that is indeed something that has to be addressed as part of a comprehensive agreement.”

Sherman also suggested at one point that there would be no real need to prohibit any Iranian missile if the negotiations on the nuclear programme were successful. “Not having a nuclear weapon,” she said, “makes delivery systems almost — not wholly, but almost — irrelevant.”

That admission underlined the wholly political purpose of the administration’s apparent embrace of the Israeli demand that Iran negotiate limits on its ballistic missiles.

The Obama administration may be seeking to take political credit for a hard line on Iranian missiles in the knowledge that it will not be able to get a consensus for that negotiating position among the group of six powers negotiating with Iran.

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Rybakov clearly implied that Moscow would not support such a demand in a statement Thursday that Russia “considers that a comprehensive agreement must concern only and exclusively the restoration of trust in a purely peaceful intention of Iran’s nuclear program.”

Although U.S., European and Israeli officials have asserted consistently over the years that Iran’s medium-range ballistic missiles are designed to carry nuclear weapons, Israel’s foremost expert on the Iranian nuclear programme, Uzi Rubin, who managed Israel’s missile defence programme throughout the 1990s, has argued that the conventional analysis was wrong.

In an interview with the hardline anti-Iran Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control in September 2009, Rubin said, “The Iranians believe in conventional missiles. Not just for saturation but also to take out specific targets…. Remember, they have practically no air force to do it. Their main striking power is based on missiles.”

Since 2008, the International Atomic Energy Agency has accused Iran of working on integrating a nuclear weapon into the Shahab-3 missile reentry vehicle in 2002-2003, based on a set of drawings in a set of purported Iranian documents. The documents were said by the George W. Bush administration to have come from the purloined laptop of a participant in an alleged Iranian nuclear weapons research programme.

But that account turned to be a falsehood, as were other variants on the origins of the document. The documents actually came from the Mujahedin-e-Khalq, the anti-regime organisation then listed as a terrorist organisation by the U.S. State Department, according to two German sources.

Karsten Voigt, who was the German foreign office coordinator, publicly warned about the MEK provenance of the papers in a November 2004 interview with the Wall Street Journal.

Voigt, who retired from the foreign office in 2010, recounted the story of how an MEK member delivered the papers to German intelligence in 2004 in an interview last year for a newly-published book by this writer.

February 22, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

UN appointment endorses fabricated Israeli human rights advances

By Ramona Wadi | MEMO | February 21, 2014

Only a few months after rejoining the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) and a few days after being allowed to participate in JUSCANZ, an advisory group affiliated with the UN providing consultation on human rights to UN bodies including the HRC, Israel has been awarded for its constant contempt and human rights violations by the unanimous nomination of UN Ambassador Ron Prosor to chair the elections for the Human Rights Committee.

Prosor’s nomination has been described by Israeli representatives as “a sign of the popularity that the current Israeli ambassador enjoys in New York”. A prompt substitution of “popularity” for “strategic allegiance” is a more suitable reflection of the dynamics which the UN, the US and Israel seek to enforce through collaboration to further oppression in the name of safeguarding human rights.

Following the nomination, Prosor stated, “It is a great honour to chair the elections for the Human Rights Committee. The central role Israel plays to advance human rights across the world is the real answer to anyone calling for boycotts against Israel.”

Prosor’s words attempt to project the image of the allegedly isolated settler-colonial state necessitating international support as having overcome hurdles allowing it to establish a formidable facade of resistance against the growing boycott movement.

On February 10, the US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power declared, “We have pushed relentlessly for the full inclusion of Israel across the UN system.”

However, despite the human rights rhetoric spouted during the discourse, the only example provided of Israel’s international contribution to human rights was the humanitarian response to the Haiti earthquake, which is expected to compensate for the criticism regarding the collective punishment cruelly inflicted upon Palestinians for decades.

The rhetoric clearly portrays the manner in which coercion has become an integral part of human rights discourse.

The US and the UN have constantly utilised human rights discourse and humanitarian concerns as a pretext to distribute violence as means of preserving the imperialist manipulation of freedom, a factor conveniently shunned to create avenues for structured charters attempting to address vestiges of dignity.

Depicting Israel’s inclusion and prominent participation in matters pertaining to human rights as an asset signifies the exerted domination to maintain oppression, as well as unconditional support for Israel’s protection.

In turn, the platform granted to Prosor gives precedence to the fabricated narratives which ensured the creation of the settler-colonial state upon the destruction of Palestine, in complicity with the UN and its approach to eradicating the protection of human rights.

Prosor’s choreographed appointment reaffirms the imperialist efforts to compromise Palestinian freedom from within an organisation which legitimises its own violations while revelling in its self-imposed impunity.

February 22, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Syria opposition leader praises Benjamin Netanyahu

Press TV | February 22, 2014

A Syrian opposition leader has praised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for expressing support for militants wounded during the conflict in Syria.

Muhammad Badie told Israel Radio Friday that the Syrian opposition is grateful to Netanyahu for his February 18 tour to a field hospital in the (occupied) Golan Heights.

Speaking from Istanbul, the Syrian opposition leader added that Netanyahu’s public presence near the wounded militants sent an “important message.”

Badie also said that he and his friends thanked the Israeli premier for publicly voicing support for injured militants, especially after the collapse of the recent talks between the Syrian government and the opposition in Geneva, Switzerland.

Israel Channel 2 News recently aired footage of a secret Israeli field hospital in the occupied Golan Heights that has treated over 700 Syrians including militants over the past months.

Last year, the Israeli military carried out at least three airstrikes against Syria.

Damascus says Tel Aviv and its Western allies are aiding al-Qaeda-linked militant groups operating inside Syria.

February 22, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Video | , , , | 1 Comment