zaterdag 26 januari 2019

The Vultures of Venezuela

The Vultures of Caracas  

We are frequently told that people in Venezuela have no food, clothing or toilet paper, and that popular discontent with the left wing government is driven by real hunger. There are elements of truth in this story, though the causes of economic dislocation are far more complex than the media would have us believe.
But I ask you to look at this photo of supporters of CIA poster-boy, the West’s puppet unelected “President” Juan Guaido, taken at a Guaido rally in Caracas two days ago and published yesterday in security services house journal The Guardian. Please take a really close look at the photo. Blow it up as big as you can. Scan individual people in the crowd, one by one.
These are not the poor and most certainly not the starving. As it chances I have a great deal of life experience working amongst seriously deprived, hungry and despairing people. I know the gaunt face of want and the desperate glance of need. Look at these Guaido supporters, one by one by one. This designer spectacled, well-coiffed, elegantly dressed, sleekly jowled group does not know hunger. This group does not know want. This is a proper right wing gathering, a gathering of the nicely off section of society. This is a group of those who have corruptly been siphoning Venezuela’s great wealth for decades and who want to make sure the gravy train flows properly in their direction again. It is, in short, a group of exactly the kind of people you would expect to support a CIA coup. 
Those manicured hands raised in the air will never throw rocks, or get involved in violence unless against a peasant strapped to a chair for them. It is not this crowd which will suffer as public disorder is manipulated and directed by the CIA. These wealthy ones are immune, just as Davos serves as nothing but an annual reminder of how very poorly God aims avalanches.
There is real suffering in Venezuela. The CIA is working hard to stoke violence, and the genuine poor will soon start to die, both in those egged on to riot and in the security services. But do not get taken in by the complete nonsense that this is a popular, democratic revolution. It is not. It is yet another barefaced CIA regime change coup.
UPDATE Such wisdom as this blog finds is often crowd-source, and with thanks to a commenter below here is some useful information from Jill Stein.
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Courages Jewish Israeli Activist


Israeli activist who slapped Ahed Tamimi's prosecutor wants a political trial

Yifat Doron says she slapped the IDF prosecutor to defend her friend. ‘We are not punished the same way the Palestinians are for the same actions.’
Yifat Doron. (Oren Ziv/
Israeli activist Yifat Doron. ‘(Oren Ziv/
A few minutes before an Israeli military court sentenced teenager Ahed Tamimi to eight months in prison, an Israeli activist, Yifat Doron, approached the military prosecutor, shouted “who are you to judge her?” and slapped the lieutenant colonel across the head.
Doron was released on her own recognizance just two days after being arrested for slapping the prosecutor in March of last year. Tamimi had been denied bail for four months while awaiting trial, also for slapping an Israeli soldier a few months earlier.
Ahed is Palestinian. Yifat is Israeli. Ahed was put into Israel’s military court system. Yifat —despite slapping a military officer in the occupied West Bank, just like Ahed — was charged in a civilian court inside Israel.
When Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967, it applied military law to the territory. Technically, military law and the military court system have jurisdiction over Palestinians and Israelis alike in the occupied territory. In practice, a Palestinian and an Israeli who commit the exact same crime in the exact same territory are subject to different laws, different legal procedures, are tried in different courts, and are given different rights and protections.
Unlike Ahed’s slap, which was the subject of headlines around the world, and seemingly embarrassed the Israeli military establishment and national pride, there was no video documentation of Doron’s act.
Her trial, for assaulting a public servant under aggravated circumstances, began at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court last Tuesday. The prosecution is asking for prison time.
Outside the courtroom in Jerusalem last week, Doron said that she wasn’t trying to make a political statement when she slapped the Israeli officer last year: “The way I see it, this was in reaction to seeing my friend in distress.” Nevertheless, she added, what followed was an example of apartheid.
“We are not punished the same way the Palestinians are punished for the same actions,” she explained.
Yifat Doron and Nariman Tamimi embracing the day Tamimi was released from prison. (Oren Ziv/
Yifat Doron and Nariman Tamimi embrace on the day Tamimi was released from prison, July 28, 2018. (Oren Ziv/
Doron is representing herself in the trial.
“Because the arrest happened in a political context, I have no interest in entering into all kinds of legal arguments,” she said of her decision to decline counsel. “I’m going to represent myself politically — I understand politics.”
The legal system is one of the primary tools Israel uses to oppress Palestinians, Doron added, and she hopes to make the trial about that. She particularly hopes to highlight the disparate ways Palestinians and Israelis are treated in the dual, separate legal systems.
Doron will not oppose the prosecution’s request to imprison her, she said. “There are people who accept imprisonment peacefully, like many of my Palestinian friends, who experience the reality of imprisonment, either personally or through their loved ones, on a daily basis.” Prison is simply a part of their lives, she explains.Over the past few years, Doron visited the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh almost every week. She participated in the village’s regular demonstrations against the occupation, and attended the funerals of Palestinian residents killed by Israeli forces for protesting illegal settlement expansions. Dozens of people from Nabi Saleh, including minors, have been arrested and sent to prison for their involvement in the village’s weekly demonstrations over the past decade.
“In the end, the point is basically to stand by my friends,” Doron concludes.
The next hearing in her trial will be in September — eight months from now. Unlike Ahed, who was held in prison while awaiting trial, Doron will remain free until then.
A version of this article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here

US detains US-born journalist without charge

Broken Democracy — America detains US-born journalist without charge

JOURNAL NEO Marzieh Hashemi
“… Iran does it too!” When confronted with news that FBI had detained US-born journalist Melanie Franklin (better known as Marzieh Hashemi) without proper due legal process and in clear infringement of her constitutional rights, US media were only too happy to justify the move by arguing tit for tat with the Islamic Republic.
If the argument seems abysmally incoherent it’s because it is! To rationalise a crime by arguing that others do it would be to justify the murder of Jamal Khashoggi by virtue of other nations’ heinous crimes against humanity … the exercise is not only foolish it is down right irrational.
Marzieh Hashemi, a US- born journalist and TV anchor for Press TV (Iran) was detained by FBI on January 14, 2019 after she landed at St Louis airport where she had travelled to from Iran to visit her terminally ill brother and complete a documentary on the Black Lives Matter movement. As the holder of a US passport, Ms Hashemi had every right to enter the United States of America – as she had done dozens of times prior.
With the authorities keeping mum as to why Marzieh remains in detention her friends and colleagues are not short of theories. A fierce advocate for human rights, religious freedom and nations’ right to political self-determination as well as a civil rights activist Ms Hashemi has amassed as many fans as she has generated detractors.
The timing and circumstances of her arrest scream political censorship at a juncture in America’s history when speaking truth equates to a declaration of war against the ‘powers that be’ aka Trump & co.
Whether Marzieh was targeted for the opinions she holds, or her religious beliefs, or even her political affiliations and choice of residence: Iran matter very little … her rights as a US citizen and law-abiding individual were violated in the most despicable manner and fashion.
Speaking to the press Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif commented: “The misbehavior of the US government indicates that the US does not abide by any principles protecting rights of those criticizing the system and is now turned to a dangerous country for reporters.”
I would go as far as accuse the United States of purposely seeking to do Ms Hashemi harm by depriving her of food and proper clothing in the middle of winter.
An observant Muslim Marzieh has been forced to survive on crackers and pretzels on account the authorities have made a point in only serving her pork products.
The move is crass, cruel and by definition inhumane … not to say racist.
It is as if America made a complete U-turn in History to firmly park itself in the middle of 1950 Georgia!
“We still have no idea what’s going on,” Hossein Hashemi told Press TV late on Wednesday, adding that he and his siblings had been subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury.
He further said his mother was being held in a prison, apparently as a “material witness”.
If she was indeed a witness then why would the FBI feel the urge to deprive her of her freedom? The liberties America’s security apparatus is currently taking under the Trump’s administration equate to bona fide oppression.
“She seemed OK. She was upset about the kind of treatment that she was receiving as a person who (faces) charges would be treated. She had only eaten pretzels because her dietary restrictions limited her from the kinds of food that the prison facility would offer. She is also upset about the fact that her hijab was removed during processing and later on she was only able to cover her hair with a T-shirt apparently,” Hossein Hashemi said.
The issue, however it came about, under whomever authority is one of censorship.
A veteran journalist and eloquent TV anchor Marzieh Hashemi disturbs by the fierceness of her principles and systematic calling into account of our authorities’ abuses.
Allow me to break it down slowly: THIS IS WHAT JOURNALISM LOOKS LIKE! It is part of media professionals’ job description to push the envelope and challenge the status quo. To leave things as they are and to shy away from the difficult questions condemn us all to intellectual and democratic atrophy.
And though the idea is pleasing to many wannabe autocrats, censorship – however oppressive and violent, will only serve to deepen our resolve.
Let’s face it America today very much resembles the likes of Saudi Arabia, where the mere hint of a difference of opinion, fashion, or even belief can land you on a head-chopping board.
Hashemi said his mother was detained as she was about to board a flight from St Louis to Denver. “She is somebody who is harassed regularly. Every time she travels using air travel, she is pulled to the side. Each time it’s an hour-long, even two-hour- long interview, interrogation,” he said. “This has been going on for almost a decade now.”
If the US still wants to hold on to its title of grand defender of Lady Liberty it has long dropped her torch … if anything is certain is that that ‘light ain’t shining no more sir …”
Marzieh, like so many journalists, activists, and other individuals before her has fallen prey to a system that breaks the law it says to represent and violates the principles it says to embody.

Catherine Shakdam is the Director of Programs of the Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies and a political analyst specializing in radical movements, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

Convicted Billionaire Soros Against China

China Responds To George Soros

While this year's now-concluded World Economic Forum conference in Davos was mostly a dud and increasingly a joke in financial circles, with Deutsche Bank's Jim Reid going so far as admitting that "we had a DB drinks reception for our clients last night and one said to me that in 11 years of coming here the best advice would be to trade in the opposite direction to the main theme of the conference over the next 12 months", there was one event that boondoggling billionaires were eagerly anticipating: George Soros' annual remarks.
And, as we reported previously, one year after he famously slammed Google and Facebook at Davos 2018, calling them a "menace" and "monopolistic" and predicting it's "only a matter of time before the global dominance of the US IT monopolies is broken," this time Soros took aim at what he believes is an even greater adversary, one which even Donald Trump might agree with: China.
"China is not the only authoritarian regime in the world but it is the wealthiest, strongest and technologically most advanced,” Soros lashed out at Beijing, while taking particular aim at China's president: "This makes Xi Jinping the most dangerous opponent of open societies."
Soros, who also warned that China's increasing use of AI and a social credit system to monitor its citizens (as if the US is any different) could result in the most ruthless yet technologically advanced authoritarian regime in history, proposed a "solution" to eliminating what he sees as China's ills: crash China's economy and market, an approach Soros' critics say he applies to every nation which he finds disagreeable:
The unspoken social contract in China is built on steadily rising living standards. If the decline in the Chinese economy and stock market is severe enough, this social contract may be undermined and even the business community may turn against Xi Jinping. Such a downturn could also sound the death knell of the Belt and Road Initiative, because Xi may run out of resources to continue financing so many loss-making investments
But before the general public rushes to declare that Soros and Trump are now BFFs due to their shared common nemesis, the billionaire democrat donor made it clear that in addition to seeking the replacement of Xi, he would be just as delighted if Trump were also gone, because since "we are in a Cold War that threatens to turn into a hot one" if "Xi and Trump were no longer in power, an opportunity would present itself to develop greater cooperation between the two cyber-superpowers." Cooperation which would only be made possible and dominated by "something similar to the United Nations Treaty that arose out of the Second World War." In other words an organization modeled after Soros' very own Open Society.
Yet while Soros' aggressive 3295-word attack on China took many by surprise, what was just as notable was China's response to Soros' scathing criticism: there was none.
In fact, China made it quite clear that in its opinion, Soros is no longer relevant saying that "statements by certain people, which portray black as white and distort facts, are completely pointless and not worthy of even a rebuttal."
Of course, the best way for Beijing to respond to Soros' damning insinuations and accusations is merely to ignore them, while implicitly stating that Soros is not only senile but ideologically motivated and "distorting the facts", in short: not even worthy of a rebuttal.
That said, Soros took aim not only at China, but also Russia, saying "I’ve been concentrating on China, but open societies have many more enemies, Putin’s Russia foremost among them." And unlike China, Russia's response to Soros' remarks was somewhat more explicit, with Russia's Minister for Economic Development Maksim Oreshkin saying that "Washington should focus on actually fixing its domestic problems instead of searching for external enemies to blame them on."
According to Oreshkin, the US should stop trying to blame the troubles of “open societies” on someone else, but look for the root of its problems at home.
“Look at what is happening in America. Over the past 30 years real income of the middle class and below haven't grown almost at all. The expenses for healthcare and education have risen trifold, even taking inflation in account,” Oreshkin told RT during a press conference in Davos. “Naturally, it has led to the growth of dissent in America, becoming one of the factors in Donald Trump, with all his peculiar rhetoric, becoming the president.”
The Russian then hit the bullseye: "the problems are within the US. An external enemy, which impedes them and causes all the trouble in the US – whether Russia or China – is just substitution of concepts."
The official warned that such an approach – expressed by Soros and other figures of the US elite – sows nothing but confrontation, which ultimately harms the US itself end impedes economic growth worldwide.
"Until every country realizes that the problems exist, above all, in themselves and not in some external forces, such mindset will persist and we'll continue to hear such statements,” Oreshkin added, yet we are confident that anyone who relayed his important message would be dubbed a Kremlin agent and branded fake news.

Russia Comes To Help Venezuela

Maduro Urges Supporters To Hit Streets As Russian "Security Contractors" Arrive In Venezuela

Update: Maduro - now backed by Russian military contractors, has urged his supporters to take to the streets to defend the legitimacy of his government. The Venezuelan leader has vowed that his country won't turn into a "Syria or Libya" situation, and that the Venezuelan military must prepare for an invasion. 
According to Reuters, Maduro says he's willing to travel to New York to discuss the situation with the UN Security Council. 
As the international community splits along governments who continue to back embattled Venezuelan ruler Nicolas Maduro and governments, led by the US, who have officially recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country's legitimate head of state, Reuters reported that a group of Russian mercenaries with ties to the Kremlin have been sent to Venezuela to provide security for Maduro as he struggles with the biggest threat to his rule in his six years in power.
The contractors are believed to be from the Wagner Group, a group of private contractors who have performed secret missions on behalf of the government, including fighting in Syria and the Ukraine (which brings to mind this incident from last February when US-backed forces killed 100 Russian mercenaries in what was the closest thing to a direct proxy conflict between Russia and the US in Syria). It's unclear when the contractors arrived, or when they intend to leave. Russia has offered to mediate the conflict between Maduro and Guaido, while joining with China to criticize the US for interfering in Venezuelan affairs. 
Russia, which has invested billions of dollars in the Maduro regime, pledged to stand by the embattled socialist leader this week. Yevgeny Shabayev, leader of a local chapter of a paramilitary group told Reuters he had heard the number of security contractors in Venezuela is roughly 400. Russia's defense ministry and Venezuela's information ministry haven't responded to requests for comment. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said we have "no such information" when asked about the contractors.
The contractors traveled to Venezuela on private chartered flights that first landed in Cuba. The contractors have been charged with stopping opposition sympathizers or members of Maduro's own forces from detaining him.
"Our people are there directly for his protection," Shabayev said, in light of the attempted revolt staged by rogue military officers earlier this week.
One source said a group of contractors had arrived in Venezuela before elections last year where Maduro won a second six year term, but another group had arrived "more recently."
Public flight tracking data suggests the latest batch of contractors arrived some time betwee mid-December and this past week.
Asked if the deployment was linked to protecting Maduro, the source said: "It's directly connected." The contractors flew to Venezuela not from Moscow but from third countries where they were conducting missions, he added. The third source, who is close to the private military contractors, said there was a contingent in Venezuela but he could not provide further details. "They did not arrive in a big crowd," he said. Publicly-available flight-tracking data has shown a number of Russian government aircraft landing in or near Venezuela over past weeks, though there was no evidence the flights were connected to military contractors. A Russian Ilyushin-96 flew into Havana late on Wednesday after starting its journey in Moscow and flying via Senegal and Paraguay, the data showed.
The aircraft, a civilian jet, is owned by a division of the Russian presidential administration, according to a publicly-available procurement contract relating to the plane.
Between Dec. 10 and Dec. 14 last year, an Antonov-124 heavy cargo aircraft, and an Ilyushin-76 transport aircraft, carried out flights between Russia and Caracas, flight-tracking data showed. Another Ilyushin-76 was in Caracas from Dec. 12 to Dec. 21 last year. All three aircraft belong to the Russian air force, according to the tracking data. 
Since Guaido declared himself the acting president, Maduro has sought to expel US diplomats while vowing not to step aside. He has threatened violence against those who back the opposition. Maduro still retains control of the levers of power, including the country's energy industry and its military, though while military commanders have largely backed him, the allegiance of the troops on the ground remains somewhat less clear. Maduro has accused the US of agitating for the Venezuelan opposition to move against him.

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