Free Julian Assange! | We the People: Your Voice in Our Government

Source: Free Julian Assange! | We the People: Your Voice in Our Government

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See below the sticky for NEW CONTENT.

beans Haiti disappeared Metanoia

Posted in General, Urgent

Professional Scam Artists – part 36

Bill Browder and his partner-in-crime Sergei Magnitsky

“Darling of the Commons, Bill Browder, Helps Frame Britain’s Faux Human Rights Agenda” by ? (21st Century Wire)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Should the UK leave the European Union without a deal next month, it will carry over all EU sanctions, but it will also be able to wage its own economic warfare through the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act (2018), or SAMLA. For future sanctions SAMLA will enable the UK to carry on what it has been doing all along from inside the EU…

The story behind the Magnitsky Act has been well-documented. It followed the lobbying of US Congress by wealthy hedge fund operator Bill Browder of Hermitage Capital Management, to punish the Russian officials who he claims are responsible for the death of his former associate, Sergei Magnitsky. Browder ran his company in Russia during the 1990s and early 2000s, when corruption was at an institutionalised level following the dismantling of the Soviet Union. His company was blacklisted in 2005, considered to be a threat to national security, and in 2007 the Russian authorities carried out a raid, suspecting Browder’s business was involved in large scale tax fraud…

During Browder’s recent trip to the House of Commons, he suggested the UK could have used its SAMLA policy following the murder of Saudi Jamal Kashoggi, to which the committee agreed. But the pretence for humanitarian concern fools nobody. It is already understood by those paying attention SAMLA will not be used against Gulf State dictators or war criminals that work for Washington. Nor will Emmanuel Macron be targeted with these Magnitsky-inspired sanctions to:

promote his compliance with international humanitarian law… and stop the state-sponsored violence against the Yellow Vest protesters.

Seventeen Saudi killers were sanctioned under Canada’s Magnitsky Act for the murder of Kashoggi. This erased entirely the complicity by Saudi dictator Mohamad Bin Salman, suspected of ordering the killing. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continued his military sales to the Saudi government and Canada’s weapons and armoured vehicles continue to be used in the Saudi’s barbaric war on Yemen. We are left to conclude that while Kashoggi qualifies as human, the poor of Yemen do not and so will not be defended by the magnificent Magnitsky crusaders of Western liberal democracy under clauses relating to human rights abuses.

Chrystia Freeland

“How Chrystia Freeland Organized Donald Trump’s Coup in Venezuela” by Eric Zuesse (Counter Currents)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

On Monday, February 5th, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland announced that the 14 countries of the Lima Group have now been joined (though she didn’t say to what extent) by the EU, and by 8 other individual countries. The Lima Group had actually formed themselves under her direction into this new group on 8 August 2017 in order to overthrow and replace Venezuela’s current President Nicolás Maduro. She stated in her February 5th announcement:

“Today, we have been joined by our Lima Group partners, from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Saint Lucia. We have also been joined in our conversations with our partners from other countries, for this Lima Group ministerial meeting. These include Ecuador, the European Union, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.”

She, along with U.S. President Donald Trump, had, all along, been the actual leaders of this international diplomatic effort, to violate the Venezuelan Constitution blatantly, so as to perpetrate the coup in Venezuela.

Her active effort to replace Venezuela’s Government began with her formation of the Lima Group, nearly two years ago.

Canada’s Ottawa Citizen headlined on 19 August 2017, “Choosing Danger”, and their reporter Peter Hum interviewed Canada’s Ambassador to Venezuela, Ben Rowswell, who was then retiring from the post. Rowswell said that Venezuelans who wanted an overthrow of their Government would continue to have the full support of Canada’s Government: “‘I think that some of them were sort of anx­ious that it (the em­bassy’s support for hu­man rights and democ­racy in Venezuela) might not con­tinue after I left,’ Rowswell said. ‘I don’t think they have any­thing to worry about be­cause Minister (of For­eign Af­fairs Chrys­tia) Free­land has Venezuela way at the top of her pri­or­ity list.’”

Maybe it wasn’t yet at the top of Trump’s list, but it was at the top of hers.

Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

“Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders, Trump and the State of Imperial Decline” by Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

“Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country,” Donald Trump told the imperial Congress. “America was founded on liberty and independence – not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.”

In truth, there are no organizations of socialists even remotely positioned to threaten the rule of the Lords of Capital in the U.S. However, super-majorities of the U.S. public favor single payer health care, free college tuition, a living minimum wage, and other New Deal-type programs pushed by self-styled “democratic” socialists like Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. And the leftish Democrats’ “Green New Deal” proposals for a massive renewable energy makeover of infrastructure combined with jobs guarantees are “strongly” or “somewhat” supported by a whopping 81 percent of all registered voters (including 40 percent of Republicans) and 92 percent of Democrats.

This is what passes for “socialism” in the U.S., and although such programs are not designed to overthrow the rule of capital, they are forbidden political territory for the leadership of both corporate parties in the age of endless austerity and war…

The Lords of Capital, not the voters, control both political parties, and the Lords decree austerity. Donald Trump, the billionaire arch racist, nevertheless styles himself as a “populist,” and littered his remarks with vague references to repairing “crumbling infrastructure,” lowering the cost of prescription drugs, and a promise to sign a bill for nationwide paid parental leave after childbirth. But that’s just hot air for the occasion. Trump’s proposed budget for 2019 , like the previous year, slashes deeply at the threadbare safety net, gutting Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps – a vicious austerity…

Shamefully, Temple University professor Mark Lamont Hill, who was fired by CNN for defending Palestinian human rights, showed his true colors as kiss-ass to Democratic corporate leadership. A Sanders response to Trump’s State of the Union“ is a bad move,” said Hill, “especially assuming he’s going to run. It only reinforces the idea that Bernie is not serious about representing the interests of the Democratic Party…

After the Address [by Stacey Abrams], Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told MSNBC that Trump is “losing on the issues” and that is why he made an “ad hominem” attack on socialism. She pointed out that her proposal to tax the super-rich at 70 percent is supported by 60 percent of the public. Howevever, Ocasio-Cortez, a “socialist” of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) variety, cannot escape the stupiifying grip of imperial ideology. Her “socialism” goes no farther than New Deal programs to save capitalism, and is absent any solidarity with those resisting imperialism’s efforts to destroy the very idea of “socialism” and national sovereignty everywhere in the formerly Third World. Solidarity is not part of Sanders and ”AOC’s” political makeup, except with those purported “socialists” that have made peace with capitalism in western Europe and now struggle to preserve their welfare state structures under the NATO imperial umbrella – a battle they are so far losing — while their governments act as junior partners in Washington’s endless wars.

Stephen Gowans (Baraka Books)

“Chomsky Venezuela Statement: A Stronger Alternative” by Stephen Gowans (what’s left?)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

A lot of good people signed the statement opposing US interference in Venezuela’s internal affairs, posted at on January 24, but one wonders whether they gave the particulars of the statement sufficient thought.

The Chomsky et al statement called on Washington to cease interfering in Venezuela’s internal politics, “especially for the purpose of overthrowing the country’s government.” Excellent. But it should have added a call to support the Maduro government’s project of overcoming Venezuela’s racial and socioeconomic oppression. And stopped there.

Instead, it proposed US intervention in the form of support for what it defined as “the only solution”: negotiations to resolve the country’s longstanding racial and socioeconomic divisions. Thus, the statement defined division (that is, conflict), and not racial and socioeconomic oppression, as Venezuela’s core problem.

The proposal that the United States sponsor negotiations is problematic.

First, the question of negotiations is one for Venezuelans to decide. If sovereignty means anything, then a people has the right to choose the methods by which it resolves its problems, free from outsiders telling it how it ought to be done.

What’s more, the proposal calls to mind Western-sponsored negotiations to resolve the so-called Palestinian-Israeli conflict. How well has that worked out? And what is the end state sought: justice for the oppressed, or only their quiescence?…

While it begins strongly, the statement ends by standing for nothing; certainly not for the Maduro government and its aims. Nor does it stand against anything, except (though importantly) against a US supported coup d’état, but not against all intervention.

“How to Answer Trump? Make America a Socialist Country” by Danny Haiphong (Black Agenda Report)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

President Donald Trump expressed horror regarding socialism’s popularity among sections of the U.S. population at his latest State of the Union address. He vowed that the United States would “never be a socialist country.” Beneath the optics of Trump’s address and Nancy Pelosi’s “shade” clap is the stark reality that all sections of the U.S. capitalist oligarchy are at war with socialism at home and abroad.The social democratic and self-proclaimed “socialist” camp behind Bernie Sanders remains largely excluded from the halls of Washington and the ruling class certainly has no plans for that to change anytime soon. Oligarchs in the Democratic Party have flooded the 2020 primary with corporate candidates or faux-liberals who are more than willing to obey the dictates of neoliberal capital…

Socialist democracy remains strong in Venezuela. The Venezuelan military has rejected the coup attempt of the United States. Socialist democracy doesn’t exist in the United States. Social democratic “socialist” politicians such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders have been hostile to the socialist government of Venezuela. They have ignored the words of Jimmy Carter, who in 2012 said that Venezuela possessed the most democratic electoral system in the world. They have also ignored the fact that no amount of imperialist war-mongering can erase the gains that the poor have made in Latin America as a result of the Bolivarian movement in Venezuela, gains that extend beyond the “bread and butter” issues of poverty and into the realm of dignity obtained through worker control and democracy.

“Venezuela: The Epicenter of the “Pink Tide” and Now of the Right-Wing Rollback” Gregory Wilpert speaks with William Robinson (The Real News Network)

An excerpt from the above linked-to show follows:

GREG WILPERT: It’s The Real News Network, and I’m Greg Wilpert, coming to you from Baltimore.

On Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump held an important rally in Miami, Florida, where he reiterated his pressure on Venezuela, giving the Maduro government the choice between resigning and facing a coup or U.S. military intervention. He also promised that socialism, more generally, would soon come to an end in the Western Hemisphere, naming Cuba and Nicaragua as the next governments in the region to fall. Here’s an excerpt of his speech…

GREG WILPERT: The Trump administration seems to act as if it’s representing the interests of national capital in the United States. But at the same time, it seems to be also doing the bidding of transnational capital. And I’m just wondering, especially because Trump is always decrying the globalists and globalization and so on, I’m just wondering, what’s your take on that? Which role is Trump actually playing and whose interests is he serving, particularly in this effort to roll back the pink tide or the socialist governments of Latin America?

WILLIAM ROBINSON: I mean, it’s an extremely important question because I think much of the left, and the public in general, gets it wrong because there is a confusion between–the problem is taking discourse at face value rather than looking at underlying essences of these processes and how they’re expressed in discourse. So Trump is trying to regain the legitimacy of the U.S. state. I mentioned the crisis of hegemony previously. And so, Trump has to have the rhetoric of populism and nationalism. But we don’t judge Trumpist policies on the basis of rhetoric, but what those actual policies are. And those policies have very little to do with nationalism and even less to do with populism. And I think, as as you stated correctly, what the U.S. state is doing in Latin America, and more generally around the world, in general is to push forward the interests of transnational capital and the transnational capitalist class.

“Australian government claims credit for release of detained Bahraini footballer, but refuses to assist Julian Assange” by Oscar Grenfell (WSWS)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

=== == =
Hakeem Al-Araibi, a football player and refugee with permanent residency in Australia, was freed by authorities in Thailand yesterday after they dropped court proceedings to extradite him to Bahrain, where he faced politically-motivated charges. Al-Araibi flew to his home in Melbourne, Australia overnight.

The release of Al-Araibi is undoubtedly a welcome development. Had the 25-year-old been extradited to his native Bahrain, Al-Araibi would have faced abuse, imprisonment and possibly worse at the hands of the despotic US-backed Middle Eastern regime…

The Australian political establishment has responded to Al-Araibi’s release with an outpouring of utterly hypocritical self-congratulation.

Senior politicians responsible for abrogating the right to asylum and democratic rights have postured as the champions of an oppressed refugee.

Labor and Liberal-National MPs who have supported the US-led vendetta against Julian Assange—an Australian citizen being persecuted for his role in WikiLeaks’ exposures of mass spying, illegal diplomatic intrigues and war crimes—have made pious statements about the responsibility of governments to protect their citizens and permanent residents.

The federal Liberal-National government of Prime Minister Scott Morrison has trumpeted the fact that it made representations on Al-Araibi’s behalf, including by dispatching Defence Minister Marise Payne to Thailand to convey “concerns” over the prospect of his extradition.

Labor opposition leader Bill Shorten Tweeted: “Thank you to the Thai authorities for understanding our concerns and the Thai court for respecting Hakeem’s right to return to Australia.” Representatives of the Greens and the Australian Council of Trade Unions similarly lauded Al-Araibi’s return as a victory for democratic rights…

Before he departed to Bangkok for a holiday, the Australian National Central Bureau, which is staffed by Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers, alerted Thai authorities of the Interpol notice, guaranteeing that he would be arrested. It is unclear whether the Bahraini government, which appeared to have advanced knowledge of Al-Araibi’s travel plans, was also tipped off by the AFP.

The record of successive Labor and Liberal-National governments, moreover, underscores the cynical character of their professed concerns for Al-Araibi’s plight. Both parties have spearheaded the persecution of refugees, consigning those who arrive by boat to concentration camps in the Pacific in violation of international law and the right to seek asylum.
= == ===

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Lawlessness / Ruined – part 37

RCMP and Wet’suwet’en victims

“The Politics of Pipelines, Police, the Courts, and First Nations in British Columbia” by Tony Hall (American Herald Tribune)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

In recent weeks and days I have been reflecting on the deep historical, political and legal implications of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s raid of Jan. 7, 2019. This RCMP raid was directed at the people and physical obstructions blocking the construction of a pipeline project traversing across some of the most majestic and relatively unspoiled natural geography remaining on this planet.

The envisaged Coastal GasLink pipeline is meant to transport natural gas from the Dawson Creek area in northeastern British Columbia to Kitimat on the Pacific coast. The plan is to export natural gas derived from controversial procedures of fracking, a notorious environmental bane that has been banned in a number of countries, US states, as well as in the Canadian province of Quebec.

The raid on Jan. 7 of a heavily armed and militarized unit of the RCMP resulted in fourteen arrests of Land Defenders with many more individuals being roughly manhandled by the special forces unit. The action saw police go over the Aboriginal barricades to which many Land Defenders had attached themselves with a variety of locked mechanisms. Subsequently, registered traplines in the area were vandalized on behalf of so-called private sector interests as well as their government clients and patrons. The inclination on the part of those pushing the agenda of the fast construction of pipelines is to disregard existing rules in order to realize industrial imperatives.


““Fake News”, “Disinformation” – Canadian Style” by Robin Mathews (American Herald Tribune)

“Propaganda/Bludgeon For First Nations In British Columbia”

“US Military Fuel Tanks Threaten Aquifer in Hawaii” by Anne Wright (Consortium News)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

The North Korean missile scare in Hawaii a year ago was alarming. But that fear has abated. Once again the greatest perceived threat to the island of Oahu comes from our own U.S. military.

A massive complex of 20 U.S. military storage tanks is buried in a bluff called Red Hill that overlooks Honolulu’s primary drinking water supply, 100 feet below.

The walls on the 75-year-old jet fuel tanks are now so thin that the edge of a dime is thicker. Each of the underground tanks holds 12.5 million gallons of jet fuel; 225,000,000 gallons in total.

In 2014, 27,000 gallons of jet fuel leaked through a weak spot on a tank that had been repaired with a welded patch. The welding gave way and the fuel entered the the water supply…

Leaks have been going on for years. Studies have documented them since 1947. The continued corrosion of the tank liners constantly risks a catastrophic fuel release.

Concerned citizens on the island have for decades been trying to get the U.S. Navy to remove the tanks. The military’s position is that the fuel tanks are of strategic importance to U.S. national security and are being maintained as well as 75-year old tanks can be…

The military is a formidable political opponent here.

Military expenditures in Hawaii—direct and indirect combined— generate $14.7 billion into Hawaii’s economy, creating more than 102,000 jobs.

“Okinawa and the US Military Link to PFAS Toxins” by Pat Elder (Consortium News)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Contaminants are being detected in water samplings in communities adjacent to U.S. military installations around the world. One forerunning example—publicized more than five years ago—is the Japanese island of Okinawa, which hosts 32 U.S. bases and 48 training sites.

In 2013, The Japan Times published an exposé about the high concentrations of toxins generically known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in the drinking water in Okinawa communities adjacent to Kadena Air Base and the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

The chemicals are found in the fire-fighting foam used in routine fire-training exercises on these bases and have been found in groundwater samplings. The Military Times in June ran an article about several women who have suffered miscarriages on military bases and have begun wondering if they were tied to something in the water…

The U.S.-Japan agreement on the Okinawa bases does not allow for Japanese officials to gain access to the bases to investigate the source of the contamination. “Within the facilities and areas, the United States may take all the measures necessary for their establishment, operation, safeguarding and control,” reads the Status of Forces Agreement between the U.S. and Japan.

Japan’s SOFA differs from those in force in European nations such as Germany, where local authorities are allowed to enter bases. According to Japan’s SOFA, Japanese officials may not conduct investigations without U.S. consent. In Germany they can.

According to Jon Mitchell, a British author who wrote the 2013 article for Japan Times, when the Okinawa Defense Bureau approached U.S. military officials in February 2017 to discuss drinking water being contaminated by the aqueous fire-fighting foam, American military officials rejected the meeting, saying the PFAS-laden foam is not a regulated substance.

They’re right. The EPA continues to allow their use.

Stephen Gowans (Baraka Books)

“When liberal democracy means plutocracy” by Stephen Gowans (what’s left)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Early in a series of lectures delivered in 1965, the political scientist C.B Macpherson observed that, “Democracy used to be a bad word.” [1] Little did he know that in 2019 “used to be” would no longer fit, and that democracy, the concept, would become a foul thing in the pages of the United States’ newspaper of record, the New York Times, even if democracy, the word, would retain its favourable connotations.

In what is surely an extraordinary pair of articles, the first on 1 November (“The weaknesses in liberal democracy that may be pulling it apart”) and the second on 21 January (“When more democracy isn’t more democratic”), Max Fisher, whose job at the New York Times is to “explore the ideas and context behind major world events,” presents an essentially Marxist critique of liberal democracy, albeit in a non-Marxist idiom, and with the Marxist valorization turned on its head; rather than praising majority rule and the popular will as good things, Fisher presents them as evils…

Voting creates the illusion of legitimacy—that the system is responsive to the popular will, when, in reality, it resists it—while liberalism checks the popular will so that establishment interests remain ascendant in the face of the latent threat of the majority to elite interests.

In “recent years a series of changes, including the rise of social media and online fund-raising, have severely weakened the establishments’ power,” Fisher observes, undermining its ability to hold the popular will in check. This is the danger inherent in democracy, or its promise, depending on whether you come down on the side of the establishment or the majority. In Fisher’s account, the only tolerable democracy is one that isn’t a democracy—that is, one in which liberalism, the instrument of the elite, is used to negate majority rule, the instrument of the many.

I don’t see democracy the way most progressives do. I agree with it, but not unconditionally. If majority-rule is holy but only according to imperfect, godless humans – most of the world is spiritually and mentally ruined – and not in God’s eyes, then How is that good? There’s two things – that are actually one thing – wrong with plutocracy. The minority who rules the world today are godless. They are self-modified people – and we are all free to self-modify, but not without consequences – who broke rules and agreements, written and unwritten (and much of what was written was written by inspiration by God), in order to come into positions of power and authority. They rule – for now.

“US Air Freight Company that Smuggled Weapons Into Venezuela Linked to CIA “Black Site” Renditions” by Whitney Webb (Mint Press News via Global Research)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

==== === == =
Two executives at the company that chartered the U.S. plane that was caught smuggling weapons into Venezuela last week have been tied to an air cargo company that aided the CIA in the rendition of alleged terrorists to “black site” centers for interrogation. The troubling revelation comes as Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has rejected a U.S. “humanitarian aid” convoy over concerns that it could contain weapons meant to arm the country’s U.S.-backed opposition.

Last Tuesday, Venezuelan authorities announced that 19 rifles, 118 ammo magazines, 90 radios and six iPhones had been smuggled into the country via a U.S. plane that had originated in Miami…

Steffan Watkins, an Ottawa-based analyst, told McClatchy in a telephone interview that the plane, which is operated by U.S. air cargo company 21 Air, had been “flying between Philadelphia and Miami and all over the place, but all continental U.S.” during all of last year. However, Watkins noted that “all of a sudden in January, things changed” when the plane began making trips to Colombia and Venezuela on a daily basis, sometimes multiple times a day.

According to Watkins’ analysis, this single plane had conducted 40 round-trip flights from Miami International Airport to Caracas and Valencia — where the smuggled weapons had been discovered — in Venezuela, as well as to Bogota and Medellin in Colombia in just the past month.

Publicly available flight radar information shows that the plane, although it has not returned to Venezuela since the discovery of its illicit cargo, has continued to travel to Medellin, Colombia, as recently as this past Monday.

Multiple CIA ties

In addition to the dramatic and abrupt change in flight patterns that occurred just weeks before U.S. Vice President Mike Pence prompted Venezuelan opposition member Juan Guaidó to declare himself “interim president,” a subsequent McClatchy follow-up investigation also uncovered the fact that two top executives at the company that owns the plane in question had previously worked with a company connected to controversial CIA “black sites.”
= == === ====

Tienditas International Bridge (was was ‘never’ opened)

“A bridge too far: US claims Venezuela blocked aid deliveries… at a crossing that was never open” by ? (RT News)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Photos and video of oil tankers and shipping containers blocking a bridge between Venezuela and Colombia were used as proof Caracas was “blocking” US aid. Left out was the fact that the bridge was never open for traffic.

The bridge figured prominently in last week’s push by official Washington to paint the elected government of Venezuela as hostile to the people, and build support for the US-backed self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido. A USAID convoy arrived in Colombia on Friday, but media outlets reported that the government of President Nicolas Maduro had “blocked” it by setting up fencing and obstacles on the Tienditas International Bridge.

“British troops given free hand to shoot civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan” by Jean Shaoul (WSWS)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

The British Army’s rules of engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan allowed troops to shoot unarmed civilians they suspected of keeping them under surveillance.

This resulted in numerous casualties, including children and teenage boys.

An investigation by Ian Cobain, based upon statements by former UK soldiers and published by the Middle East Eye (MEE) website, points to war crimes having been committed.

Cobain, who writes for the Guardian, has covered six wars, including the 1991 Gulf War and the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. In September 2005, he revealed that the UK was supporting the CIA’s illegal extraordinary rendition program. While the MEE was unable to independently verify all the interviewees’ accounts, several ex-soldiers serving in different units at different times and in two different theatres of war made broadly similar allegations. In what can only be construed as an admission of guilt, the Ministry of Defence refused to comment…

The response of the British media is significant. None of the mainstream media outlets in Britain have mentioned Cobain’s findings. The only English-language media channels carrying reports were Al Jazeera and several Russian and Iranian channels.

“Veto power to please lobbyists – corporations behind Commission power grab over services” by ? (Corporate Europe Observatory)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

New documents increase concerns over the controversial reform to the Services Notification Procedure (“Bolkestein Directive”), which could radically expand EU Commission powers over national and municipal services regulation: 55 files obtained via access to documents requests show the heavy influence of big business lobbies over the proposal. The next negotiation round on the proposal is imminent – a deal would constrain democratic decision-making in member states on everything from housing, to water and local planning.

Opposition is growing over the European Commission’s proposed Services Notification Procedure. This directive threatens to undermine local democratic decisions, and constrain public interest policy-making in a wide range of sectors, including city planning, education, affordable housing, water supply, energy supply, waste management, and many others. The proposed directive is part of a wider Services Package (a follow-up to the 2006 Services Directive, also known as the Bolkestein Directive which provoked mass protests in several EU countries due to concerns about its social impacts and was only approved after being scaled down).

Many, from city councils to trade unions, have expressed alarm at the sweeping new powers the draft directive will give the Commission. It will be able to annul new laws and regulations developed by national parliaments, regional assemblies, and local governments across Europe, or impose significant delays in order to change proposals… New documents obtained by Corporate Europe Observatory now confirm that, in drafting the proposal, the Commission has taken its cues from the corporate lobby groups who will benefit most, whilst largely ignoring concerns raised by other interests.

Green Lacewing (photo by Joseph Berger)

“Rigging the Science of GMO Ecotoxicity” by Jonathan Latham (Independent Science News)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Researchers who work on GMO crops are developing special “artificial diet systems”. The stated purpose of these new diets is to standardise the testing of the Cry toxins, often used in GMO crops, for their effects on non-target species. But a paper published last month in the journal Toxins implies a very different interpretation of their purpose. The new diets contain hidden ingredients that can mask Cry toxicity and allow them to pass undetected through toxicity tests on beneficial species like lacewings (Hilbeck et al., 2018). Thus the new diets will benefit GMO crop developers by letting new ones come to market quicker and more reliably. Tests conducted with the new diets are even being used to cast doubt on previous findings of ecotoxicological harm…

Cry toxins are controversial. Although the biotech industry claims they have narrow specificity, and are therefore safe for all organisms except so-called ‘target’ organisms, plenty of researchers disagree. They suspect that Cry toxins may affect many non-target species, even including mammals and humans (e.g. Dolezel et al., 2011; Latham et al., 2017; Zdziarski, et al., 2018)…

The biotech industry is also very much aware of the steady stream of research, from evidence of allergenicity, to toxicity, of their Cry proteins towards so-called ‘non-target’ organisms. Organisms affected by Cry toxins include monarch butterflies, swallowtail butterflies, lacewings, caddisflies, bees, water fleas, and mammals (Losey et al., 1999; Bøhn et al., 2008; Ramirez-Romero et al., 2008; Schmidt et al., 2008; Sabugosa-Madeira et al., 2008; Mezzomo et al., 2015; Zdziarski, et al., 2018). Much of this research does not get the attention it deserves (e.g. COGEM 2014), but if swallowtail butterflies can succumb to just 14 pollen grains of Syngenta’s BT-176 corn (Lang and Vojtech, 2006) the industry is aware it can hardly truthfully market GMOs as environmentally beneficial.


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Propaganda/Bludgeon For First Nations in British Columbia

RCMP and Wet’suwet’en victims

Source: The Politics of Pipelines, Police, the Courts, and First Nations in British Columbia – American Herald Tribune

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

In recent weeks and days I have been reflecting on the deep historical, political and legal implications of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s raid of Jan. 7, 2019. This RCMP raid was directed at the people and physical obstructions blocking the construction of a pipeline project traversing across some of the most majestic and relatively unspoiled natural geography remaining on this planet.

The envisaged Coastal GasLink pipeline is meant to transport natural gas from the Dawson Creek area in northeastern British Columbia to Kitimat on the Pacific coast. The plan is to export natural gas derived from controversial procedures of fracking, a notorious environmental bane that has been banned in a number of countries, US states, as well as in the Canadian province of Quebec.

The raid on Jan. 7 of a heavily armed and militarized unit of the RCMP resulted in fourteen arrests of Land Defenders with many more individuals being roughly manhandled by the special forces unit. The action saw police go over the Aboriginal barricades to which many Land Defenders had attached themselves with a variety of locked mechanisms. Subsequently, registered traplines in the area were vandalized on behalf of so-called private sector interests as well as their government clients and patrons. The inclination on the part of those pushing the agenda of the fast construction of pipelines is to disregard existing rules in order to realize industrial imperatives.

My online response to the above linked-to article follows:

“The constitution is very explicit that the rights of First Nations peoples are to be “recognized and affirmed,” not denied and negated. What use is Canada’s “supreme law” of Aboriginal and treaty rights if those who violate this provision never face consequences? When will the RCMP begin enforcing the laws of Aboriginal and treaty rights?”

Yes, reasonable, principled people get it. But… This is how it works in this dark world. Those within the unprincipled, lawless crowd come to be in positions of dominance, power and authority by strategically breaking rules, written and unwritten.

Furthermore, It is a fact that we have a class-divided world. And it is a fact that the side in that division that is attacking the other side is comprised of self-modified persons (and we are all free to do that) who now possess twisted values and desires, including the desire to play a godless game of ‘riches for the strongest’ in which winning means beating and harming others so that the winners can feel strong, not to mention wealthy.

Folks should give Todd Gordon’s “Imperialist Canada” a read. At the least, the book will disabuse any who think that Canada is or was ever a force for good in the world of that idea. Fakers like John Ralston Saul would have people think that not only is Canada a force for good in the world, but that a major reason for that is that its military – which cuts its teeth warring against First Nations, alongside the NWMP (RCMP in its earlier iteration), as Gordon makes clear – is a major reason for that. See “John Ralston Saul’s “A Fair Country – Telling Truths About Canada” –

Saul pushes the idea that the Canadian military got much of its benign, ‘do minimal impairment’ approach, from First Nations, who it was close to out on the fringes of Canadian society (killing and repressing). Saul is part of a large, resource-rich, powerful propaganda system against which those who don’t break rules and who live simply and in harmony with their environment can’t compete.

Writes Yves Engler in “A Propaganda System – How Canada’s government, corporations, media and academia sell war and exploitation,” on page 18, we read:

The Canadian Forces take public relations very seriously. Operating the largest PR machine in the country, DND runs various media, academic, think tank and cultural initiatives. “It is the responsibility of the Department of National Defense to build and maintain a constituency for defence among Canada’s citizens,” noted a headline in the military backed Journal of Conference of Defence Associations Institute. In the 1990 article former Chief of the Defence Staff, General Ramsey M. Withers, explained: “In its attempts to place the facts before the public, DND has done a great deal of good, honest work. Prompt, professionally compiled press announcements; the creation of a speakers bureau; an endowment of chairs of strategic studies at universities; the production of special videos; the provision of expert testimony to parliamentary committees; the support given associations and organizations such a the Conference of Defence Associations and the Canadian Institute of Strategic Studies.”

In the class war that rages worldwide, and in Canada, the self-modified crowd, the supporters and pushers of neoliberalism (complete freedom for corporations and other powerful, lawless special interests) and neoconservatism (deceit, inequality and violence) call their offensive ‘defence’ (and Critical Infrastructure Protection) and their victims’ ‘defence’ offensive. There’s nothing that we can do about that perversity other than, as the late William Blum said, be educated. (As a Christian, I have other recommendations, but we’ll skip those for now.) He wasn’t talking about the education that has been stinted and perverted by powerful special interests who have captured educational systems everywhere.

“Inasmuch as I cannot see violent revolution succeeding in the United States (something inside tells me that we couldn’t quite match the government’s firepower, not to mention its viciousness), I can offer no solution to stopping the imperial beast other than: educate yourself and as many other as you can…” – William Blum, page 15, “America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy”

What Blum says there about his lawless country applies to all the developed (but ruined) countries. And it’s not just viciousness that marks the imperial stormtroopers and their masters’ behavior. Viciousness itself is a form of lawlessness. You have to self-modify, jettisoning the golden rule of ‘love your neighbor as you would want to be loved’ and embracing this dark world’s paradigm of ‘riches for the strongest’ in order to viciously attack others for your own gain and for glory. Viciousness, perversity, hatred for God’s standards are all characteristics of the wild beast of Corporatocracy and its ruling Party, namely uncle Sam (a false prophet and in its own right a wild beast).

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The Avalanche – Snapshot 29 – Feb 9, ’19

“MH17 Turnabout: Ukraine’s Guilt Now Proven” by Eric Zuesse (Strategic Culture Foundation via The Greanville Post)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Finally, a clear and convincing — and unrefuted — case can now be presented to the public, as to precisely whom the guilty party was, that downed the MH17 Malaysian airliner over Ukraine on 17 July 2014, and why it was done. The complete case, which will be fully documented here, displays unequivocally who needed the MH17 murders (of 298 persons) to be perpetrated. This mass-murder was done for one leader’s very pressing obsession. For him, it simply had to be done, and done at that precise time.

The full MH17 case will be presented here, to be judged by the public, because no court of law which possesses the power to bring this (or even any) case on the MH17 murders, is willing to do so, and because the evidence in this 17 July 2014 case has become overwhelming, and is unrefuted. This evidence is accepted by both sides. But it still remains effectively hidden from the publics in the United States and its allied countries.

“Remembering Occupy Wall Street: Decimated by Mainstream Media Assassins and Late Night Comedians” by Teodrose Fikre (Ghion via The Greanville Post)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

== === =
Before the Yellow Vests captivated Parisians and put the fear of God in Macron and the global banking cartel he dutifully serves, there was another movement that threatened to blow up the corporate order. After witnessing the implosion of the US economy in 2008 and watching in disbelief as Obama rushed to the aid of the capital larcenists who made off with the life savings of workers and investors, protesters took to the streets of Manhattan to demand accountability and justice.

Occupy Wall Street was a truly organic development; what started off with a handful of Arab Spring-inspired activists demonstrating in Zuccotti Park snowballed into a nationwide operation that captivated the imagination and channeled the frustrations of disgruntled Americans everywhere. For the first time since the 1960’s, the prospect of a mass movement by and for the proletariat against the status quo seemed a very real possibility.

That is when the establishment jumped into action and unleashed a combination of brute force and subterfuge to abort Occupy Wall Street before it could grow into America’s second revolution. Local, state and federal government violently cracked down on protesters. Using tools accorded to enforcement agencies under the Patriot Act, American citizens were treated like an invading army and suppressed with the iron fist of the law. The FBI, DHS and other federal departments tracked countless thousands of individuals before swooping and arresting 8,000 OWS participants.

Yet, as harsh as the law enforcement response was to Occupy Wall Street, the lethal blow was dealt by paid mercenaries within mainstream media. It was not the handcuffs, teargas nor the water cannons that snuffed a burgeoning insurrection but the notepads of journalists, the cameras of reporters and the punchlines of late night comedians. A concerted effort to demean protesters and discredit their concerns was unleashed in ways so devastating that a potentially historic insurgency was transmuted into a laughing stock before being erased out of the public conscience.
= === ==

Stephen Garton

“McCarthyism at Sydney University” by Evan Jones (American Herald Tribune)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

==== ==
On 4 December 2018, Sydney University suspended academic Tim Anderson from his position – banning him from university grounds and demanding no contact with staff or students. The suspension is a prelude to having Anderson sacked.

His crime? Purportedly offensive comments and misconduct. According to Provost Stephen Garton, Anderson has failed his obligation to his employer by remarks claimed to be “intemperate … not fair and reasonable”, etc.

Anderson outlines here the background to this affair with select excerpts from relevant correspondence.

Any association with Tim Anderson would confront that he is anything but intemperate. He is uncompromising in his views but sober in their enunciation and forthcoming with grounds in their defense.

The quality of Anderson’s teaching and of his writing has not been canvassed. Rather, Anderson’s crime is that he has the wrong views…

The media has led the attack on Anderson. Provost Garton’s attribution to Anderson of offensive statements and misconduct refers to Anderson’s setting the record straight regarding the errors of facts in the journalistic reporting, and to Anderson privately taking to task the then Dean of Arts for divulging private information to the media.

The Australian mainstream media is addicted to reproducing the conventional wisdom regarding global affairs manufactured by the American-Anglo media. Its emphasis and its content (Russia-gate, Skirpal, Ukraine, MH17, Syria, Venezuela, etc.) constitutes essentially fake news. Those allergic to the Murdoch press can find little solace in the alternative mainstream media outlet Fairfax/Nine Entertainment (‘Independent. Always’) whose reporting of international affairs has been appalling – glibly reprinting rubbish from the New York Times, Washington Post, AP & Reuters, etc. The public ABC television station, under financial and direct political pressure, has also fallen into line, if less strident.
== ====

Volunteer fireman, Olivier Beziade, a father-of-three in his 30s, was shot in the back of the head in Bordeaux on Saturday 12th January 2019. (Photo: Stephanie Roy on Twitter)

“GILETS JAUNES: Civilians in Police Crosshairs as Macron Adopts Totalitarian State-Practices to Suppress Dissent” by Vanessa Beeley (21st Century Wire)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

A 30-year-old volunteer fireman who joined the Gilets Jaunes protests in Bordeaux, France on the 12th January 2019, is in a coma after being shot in the back of the head by an LBD or “flashball” bullet fired by French security forces who are brutally suppressing public demonstrations in most major French cities. Olivier Beziade is a father of three who now has a “very serious brain injury” and is in an induced coma. As violence radiates across France, western media locks down and fails to report comprehensively or fairly on Police infractions against protestors.

“UK Mainstream Media Blackout on ‘Integrity Initiative’ State-run Psy-Op” by ? (21st Century Wire)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

More than two months after the Integrity Initiative leaks became public knowledge, the corporate mainstream press appears to be still be intentionally avoiding the story. The longer it drags its heels on this scandal, the more the public will speculate on why the mainstream media has failed to hold both government – and itself, to account.

The Integrity scandal has given the world a direct look into a deep state network which spanned media, military, intelligence services, think tanks and government, which many knew existed but could not readily identify its structure.

Was there a ‘D Notice’ issued by the British government forbidding mainstream media outlets from reporting on the embarrassing leak of this clandestine propaganda operation?

“‘Venezuela’: Media’s One-Word Rebuttal to the Threat of Socialism” by Alan Macleod (FAIR)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Alarmed by the growing threat of progressive policies at home, the establishment has found a one-word weapon to deploy against the rising tide: Venezuela. The trick is to attack any political figure or movement even remotely on the left by claiming they wish to turn the country into a “socialist wasteland” (Fox News, 2/2/19) run by a corrupt dictatorship, leaving its people hungry and devastated…

This useful weapon to be used against the left can only be sustained by withholding a great number of key facts—chief among them, the US role in Venezuela’s devastation. US sanctions, according to the Venezuelan opposition’s economics czar, are responsible for a halving of the country’s oil output (, 12/17/18). The UN Human Rights Council has formally condemned the US and discussed reparations to be paid, with one UN special rapporteur describing Trump’s sanctions as a possible “crime against humanity” (London Independent, 1/26/19). This has not been reported by any the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN or any other national US “resistance” news outlet, which have been only too quick to support Trump’s regime change plans (, 1/25/19).

Likewise, the local US-backed opposition’s role in the economic crisis is barely mentioned. The opposition, which controls much of the country’s food supply, has officially accepted responsibility for conducting an “economic war” by withholding food and other key goods.

“A Lound Whoompfing Sound”

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Professional Scam Artists – part 35

From Mining Watch Canada:
The south pit of Bisha mine in Eritrea, which is owned through subsidiaries by Vancouver-based Nevsun Resources. While Nevsun is set to argue at the Supreme Court of Canada that allegations of human rights violations at the Bisha mine should not be heard in Canadian courts, a mining watchdog says foreign nationals need a way to hold Canadian companies accountable at home for their operations overseas. (NEVSUN)

“Canada’s overseas mining practices on trial in alleged rights abuse case” by Jennifer Wells (Toronto Star via Mining Watch Canada)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Should a Canadian mining company be held to account for human rights abuses in operations abroad?

This is not a trick question. When the Supreme Court of Canada sits for the hearing into Nevsun Resources next week, scheduled for Wednesday, the court will consider whether to allow a novel cause of action to proceed to trial, thereby dismissing the appeal of the Vancouver-based miner, or stop in its tracks the four-year long journey of former mine workers who allege abuse, including forced labour, at the company’s Bisha mine in Eritrea…

In 2017 the U.S. State Department released its human rights report on the country. “The most significant human rights issues included arbitrary deprivation of life; disappearances; torture and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment by security forces, including for political and religious beliefs; harsh prison and detention center conditions; arbitrary arrest; denial of fair public trial.”

The list goes on.

The country has had no elections since President Isaias Afwerki came to power upon the country’s independence in 1993 and still has no constitution nor independent judiciary. When the United Nations Special Rapporteur tabled her final report last June, she found no human rights improvements through her six-year mandate and called for an end to indefinite service to the country’s National Service Program, which in practise functions as forced conscription that can last decades.

It is on this last point that we come to the Nevsun case. The plaintiffs, now Eritrean refugees (two are resident in the U.S. and one in Canada), sued the company in Vancouver, alleging that they had been conscripted into national service and forced to work at the mine for two subcontracting companies, engaged by Nevsun, one of which was allegedly owned by the Eritrean military.

From CBC:
Executives at Vancouver-based mining firm Nevsun Resources have denied direct knowledge of human rights violations at their gold and copper mine in the Bisha mining district in northern Eritrea, adjacent to Sudan. (CBC)

“What did Canadian mining executives know about possible human rights violations in Eritrea?” by Scott Anderson (CBC News)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

For years, Vancouver-based mining firm Nevsun Resources has dismissed allegations that forced labour was used to build its mine in the repressive east African country of Eritrea.

Nevsun executives have denied direct knowledge of human rights violations at their Bisha mine site in a CBC interview and during an appearance before a parliamentary committee.

But company documents filed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia last November and reviewed by CBC’s The Fifth Estate show executives at the highest level appear to have been informed of issues of forced labour at their mine site a decade ago.

Former Bisha mine workers are suing Nevsun in B.C. for alleged human rights violations — including forced labour, slavery and torture.

“Mexican president’s Mayan Train project rejected by Indigenous peoples” by Brent Patterson (Rabble)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

=== == =
In their analysis of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), Peace Brigades International (PBI) Mexico comments:

“The organizations that we accompany continue to be concerned for AMLO’s position on the rights of Indigenous populations, given that his public discourse seems to respect their autonomy, but he continues to propose initiatives of megaprojects such as the Mayan Train or new mining investments.”

The Mayan Train (Tren Maya) refers to the construction of a train track that would link Mayan archaeological sites as tourist destinations in five southeastern states: Campeche, Chiapas, Quintana Roo, Tabasco and the Yucatán.

The incoming director of Mexico’s National Fund for Tourism Development (FONATUR) has stated that the project could attract more than 3 million tourists in its initial years of operation.

The $6 to 8 billion project would involve the building of 1,500 kilometres of railroad track, nearly one-third of it through tropical forests.

The track would also be used to move commercial freight.

Significantly, AMLO is championing a project that lacks the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous peoples in Mexico.
= == ===

Tar Sands – Alberta

“The war on boycotts” by Michael Bueckert (Briarpatch)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

“Alberta will no longer be a soft target,” declared Jason Kenney. “We will fight back for our economic survival.”

Kenney, the leader of Alberta’s right-wing United Conservative Party (UCP), was giving a keynote address at the party’s founding annual general meeting in May 2018. In his provocative speech, which he expanded on during an October 2018 conference hosted by New West Public Affairs, Kenney detailed his plans to go after the so-called “green left” – environmentalists – using “every tool available.” Painting a picture of an Alberta energy sector under siege by anti-tarsands campaigners, Kenney explained that Alberta must aggressively defend the tarsands from its critics – by cracking down on dissenting views.

Alberta’s current NDP government is already spending millions on a propaganda campaign to pump up Alberta’s oil industry, but unlike the NDP, Kenney has made environmental activists and organizations his explicit target. If his party is elected in 2019, he could put these plans in motion…

Kenney’s “fight-back strategy” against what he called a “foreign-funded campaign of defamation to land lock Canada’s oil” is not unique. Many of its elements – a “war room” to monitor online activity, targeting the charitable status of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), using the courts against critics – have already been field tested by the Israeli state and its supporters as part of their own anti-boycott initiatives…

Israel provides one of the most visible and extreme models for other states that want to turn the tables on their boycotters, and one that Kenney is almost certainly aware of. Kenney has repeatedly positioned himself as a hardline supporter of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, and has condemned the BDS movement many times, including in Jerusalem in 2009 when he boasted of cancelling funding to the ecumenical NGO Kairos for supporting BDS (although they had not).

From Common Dreams:
“In the House, even as the idea has picked up momentum with voters and members of the Democratic caucus, Democratic leadership has remained deeply skeptical,” reports The Intercept’s Ryan Grim. (Photo: Molly Adams/Flickr/cc)

“As Energy for Medicare for All Soars, Pelosi Aide Reportedly Assured Insurance Industry That Democratic Leaders Remain ‘Allies'” by Jake Johnson (Common Dreams)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

As Medicare for All advocates point to surging grassroots energy behind the bold policy and argue that the key question now “is not if we will win, it is when,” a report by The Intercept on Tuesday intensified concerns that the Democratic leadership will continue to resist the rising tide of enthusiasm for single-payer even as it is embraced by a growing number of lawmakers, 2020 presidential candidates, and 70 percent of the public.

According to The Intercept, Wendell Primus—the top healthcare adviser to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)—reassured Blue Cross Blue Shield executives during a private meeting shortly after the November midterm elections that the Democratic leadership “had strong reservations about single-payer healthcare and was more focused on lowering drug prices.”

“The Single Stupidest Argument In The Entire Stupid Salad Of Russiagate” by Caitlin Johnstone (Rogue Journalist)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

The other day Hawaii congresswoman and Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard came out with what remains the strongest rejection of the Trump administration’s regime change interventionism in Venezuela out of anyone likely to run for the presidency in 2020.

“The United States needs to stay out of Venezuela,” Gabbard tweeted. “Let the Venezuelan people determine their future. We don’t want other countries to choose our leaders–so we have to stop trying to choose theirs.”

Boom. Unambiguous, unequivocal, and without any of the “Yeah Maduro is an evil monster, but” modifiers that other officials (including Bernie Sanders) have been prefacing their feeble objections to Trump’s campaign to topple the Venezuelan government with. Which of course outraged all the usual war pundits, including the Washington Post‘s most reliable military-industrial complex fluffer Josh Rogin.

“Again, @TulsiGabbard shares the same foreign policy position as Russia and the Assad regime,” Rogin tweeted in response to Gabbard’s statement. “It’s probably just a coincidence. #TusiAssad2020”

“Promoting the indefensible: Saudi Arabia’s Brussels lobby shop” by ? (Corporate Europe Observatory)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Corporate Europe Observatory can exclusively reveal that, according to an industry insider, MSL Brussels – part of French media conglomerate Publicis Groupe – has had a contract to represent the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the EU from at least October 2015. However, despite MSL Brussels having an entry in the EU’s lobbying Transparency Register, they have not included Saudi Arabia in their list of clients. Given the kingdom’s brutal reputation there are plenty of reasons for MSL Brussels to wish to keep this contract quiet…

Between 2015 and late 2017, MSL Brussels’ support to the Saudi Arabian Foreign Office included running the website and Twitter accounts of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Mission to the EU (which also serves as its embassy to Belgium and Luxembourg). They lobbied MEPs, sent daily monitoring reports concerning Belgian and international press to the client, and placed stories promoting Saudi Arabia’s positions in the media. They also sent relevant political updates from the European and Belgian parliaments to the Saudi Mission. They helped with Mission events and set out to organise trips for Saudi parliamentarians to the European Parliament. Their lobbying targets were often MEPs in the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Delegation to the Arabian Peninsula. They also wrote and sent out a monthly newsletter to a long list of key politicians and officials in the European Parliament, the Commission, and the European External Action Service (the EU’s diplomatic service, which is responsible for EU foreign and security policy).

MSL’s lobbying work has been conducted under the radar. For example, it appears as though from 2016 to today, MSL Brussels has misleadingly listed its client as ‘Qorvis’ in the Transparency Register. Qorvis MSLGROUP USA is a sister company based in Washington DC, owned by MSL Brussels’ proprietor Publicis since 2014. Qorvis MSL is also Saudi Arabia’s highest paid lobbying firm in Washington,with a multi-million dollar contract. According to an inside source, Qorvis subcontracted the role of representing the Saudi Foreign Office via the Mission of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the EU to MSL Brussels from late 2015 onwards. This Brussels contract appears to have been severed by Saudi Arabia sometime after the second half of 2017, though the Qorvis MSL contract in the US continues.

Luis Almagro by Nathaniel St. Clair

“How the Organization of American States Became an Agent of Regime Change” by Laura Carlsen (CounterPunch)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

With a Venezuelan opposition leader declaring himself the country’s president and the Trump administration appearing to back a coup, Venezuela is lurching toward a new phase of crisis. And that crisis could be worsened by hardline leadership at the Organization of American States (OAS), the world’s oldest and most influential regional organization. Luis Almagro, the OAS Secretary General, recently announced his bid for another 5-year term at the helm of the organization. That would be a major setback for good governance in the region.

Throughout his tenure, Almagro has acted against many of the basic principles and mandates of the organization and consistently represented U.S. interests above those of its neighbors, generally supporting allies and punishing adversaries of the U.S. government. In particular, he’s actively sought regime change in Venezuela.

Almagro’s often unsubstantiated claims against Venezuela and Cuba echo the rhetoric of dangerous terrorists like Luis Posada Carriles. His open interventions in countries’ internal politics have completely reversed diplomatic advances in resolving controversies, divided the continent, and led his own Uruguayan political party to expel him and advocate for removing him from the leadership of the OAS.

Democratic Senator Dick Durbin expressed support for President Trump as he backed a coup in Venezuela (Photo by AMSF2011)

“Vast Majority Of Democrats In Congress Remain Silent Or Support Coup In Venezuela” by Kevin Gosztola (ShadowProof)

An excerpt from the above linked-to post follows:

As President Donald Trump’s administration backed the overthrow of President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, Democratic senators and representatives in Congress were largely silent.

Some influential Democrats sided with Trump and expressed support for Juan Guaido, the right-wing opposition figure who declared himself interim president of Venezuela on January 23. But only three Democrats—Representative Ro Khanna, Representative Tulsi Gabbard, and Senator Bernie Sanders—spoke out against the decision by the U.S. government to give a green light to Guaido and the opposition to oust Maduro.

Representative Julian Castro, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator Kamala Harris, and Senator Elizabeth Warren, all Democrats who have announced they will run for president in 2020, apparently had nothing to say about the right-wing coup attempt supported by the Trump administration.

Potential 2020 presidential candidates, like Vice President Joseph Biden, made no statements either.

In These Times journalist Marco Cartolano contacted the offices of Democratic presidential hopefuls. No campaign was willing to say anything on the record, but after ITT published a report, Gabbard and Sanders made statements.

The collective reaction was a reminder of how many establishment Democrats support regime change or look the other way when the U.S. government meddles in the politics of foreign countries. It also was an example of how progressive or left-leaning Democrats often fail or are reluctant to speak out on foreign policy matters…

Democratic Senator Dick Durbin contended Trump, the Organization Of American States (OAS), and other nations “appropriately recognized National Assembly President Juan Guaido as the constitutionally appropriate leader of Venezuela.”

Referring to a trip he made to Venezuela in 2018, he added, “I met with Guaido and many of his talented colleagues elected to the National Assembly during my visit. They are brave patriots who see a more hopeful and democratic future for the Venezuelan people.”

“I plan to speak with him in the days ahead and offer my support for his pledge to lead a thoughtful, peaceful transition to a legitimate election that meets international standards in the immediate future,” Durbin declared.

Still the only Democrat to oppose Trump, Khanna boldly responded, “With respect [to] Senator Durbin, the U.S. should not anoint the leader of the opposition in Venezuela during an internal polarized conflict. Let us support Uruguay, Mexico, and the Vatican’s efforts for a negotiated settlement and end sanctions that are making the hyperinflation worse.”

From AHT:
(The intro image shows left to right US Reps Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Tulsi Gabbard and Bernie Sanders, four members of Congress. Credit: Mintpress News Image/ AP)

“On Venezuela and NATO, the Democratic Party is the “Assistance” Not the “Resistance” to Empire” by Daniel Haiphong (American Herald Tribune)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

The Trump Administration has pursued an open-air coup against the socialist government of Venezuela, with Pence and company nominating the unelected oligarch Juan Guaido as “interim” president of the oil-rich nation. Guaido resides in a National Assembly stock full of white racist oligarchs seeking to overthrow the rule of Bolivarian socialism. The Venezuelan Supreme Court ruled the decisions of the National Assembly illegitimate earlier in 2019 and the people of Venezuela elected President Maduro with sixty-eight percent of the vote in an election that was boycotted by the rightwing opposition in 2017. None of these facts are of any concern to the U.S. empire, which is primarily interested in reproducing itself and the profits that legitimize its racist system. And Bolivarian socialism has been an enemy of the elites since 1998 when the people of Venezuela rejected the U.S. empire by electing the socialist and anti-imperialist military leader Hugo Chavez.

The so-called Democratic Party “resistance” to Trump has largely been silent on the issue of Venezuela. Self-proclaimed Democratic Socialists such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have declined to comment on whether the Trump Administration is in fact waging a coup against Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro. Bernie Sanders stuck to his “dead communist dictator” (in reference to Hugo Chavez) line that he presented in the 2016 election by accusing Nicolas Maduro’s government of waging a “violent crackdown” while espousing opposition to regime change in Venezuela. The strongest statement against the U.S. coup against Venezuela from the newly elected “progressive” Democrats in Congress came from Minnesota representative Ilhan Omar. Omar tweeted opposition to the U.S.-backed coup and support for a peaceful dialogue led by Latin American nations such as Mexico and Uruguay, both of which have voiced support for Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro…

Support for NATO and the coup against Venezuela is a good measure of what to expect from the Democrats in the period leading to the 2020 election.

“Venezuela Blitz: Tyrants Don’t Have Free Elections” by ? (Media Lens via Dissident Voice)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

In our new book, we describe a ‘Propaganda Blitz’ as a fast-moving campaign to persuade the public of the need for ‘action’ or ‘intervention’ furthering elite interests. Affecting great moral outrage, corporate media line up to insist that a watershed moment has arrived – something must be done!

A classic propaganda blitz was triggered on January 23, when Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó declared himself ‘interim President’. This was presented as dramatic new evidence that the people of Venezuela had finally had enough of Nicolas Maduro’s ‘regime’.

In reporting this news the following day, the BBC website featured a disturbing graphic of a captive with arms tied behind his back being tortured. The caption read:

Inside Venezuela’s secret torture centre

The image linked to a complex interactive piece that allowed readers to explore the torture centre. There was also a long report on the same centre. The interactive report included this statement by a former prisoner, Rosmit Mantilla:

In a country like Venezuela there’s no difference between being in or out of prison. You are equally persecuted and mistreated, and you can die either way.

Venezuela, then, is a giant gulag. The interactive piece had clearly taken a good deal of time and effort to produce – odd that it should appear on the same day that news of Guaidó’s coup attempt was reported. The BBC followed this up with a piece on January 25 openly promoting ‘regime’ change:

Venezuela’s Maduro “could get Amnesty”

Self-declared leader Guaidó also appeals to the powerful army, after receiving foreign backing.

In fact, Guaidó, also received foreign rejection from China, Russia, Turkey, Greece, Syria and Iran…

Hands Off Venezuela (photo by Socialist Appeal)

“Canada’s Ugly Role in the US-led Coup in Venezuela” by Yves Engler (Canadian Dimension)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Most Canadians think of their country as a force for good in the world, but recent efforts by Justin Trudeau’s government to overthrow Venezuela’s elected government have once again revealed the ugly truth about the Great White North. We are an important partner in imperialism, willing to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, up to and including the use of military force, to benefit the perceived self-interest of our elites.

Over the past two years Canadian officials have campaigned aggressively against President Nicolás Maduro. Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland has repeatedly criticized Caracas’ democratic legitimacy and human rights record. Recently she said, “the Maduro regime is now fully entrenched as a dictatorship” while in September Ottawa asked (with five South American nations) the International Criminal Court to investigate the Venezuelan government, which is the first time a government has been formally brought before the tribunal by another member…

Ottawa has long provided various other forms of direct support to an often-violent opposition. In recent years Canada channelled millions of dollars to opposition groups in Venezuela and 18 months ago outgoing Canadian ambassador, Ben Rowswell, told the Ottawa Citizen that “we became one of the most vocal embassies in speaking out on human rights issues and encouraging Venezuelans to speak out.”

Alongside its support for the opposition, Ottawa expelled Venezuela’s top diplomat in 2017 and has imposed three rounds of sanctions on Venezuelan officials. In March the United Nations Human Rights Council condemned the economic sanctions the US, Canada and EU have adopted against Venezuela while Caracas called Canada’s move a “blatant violation of the most fundamental rules of International Law.”

Since its August 2017 founding Canada has been one of the most active members of the “Lima Group” of governments opposed to Venezuela’s elected government. Canada is hosting the next meeting of the “Lima Group”. Freeland has repeatedly prodded Caribbean and Central American countries to join the Lima Group’s anti-Maduro efforts.

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