Professional Scam Artists – part 39

“Mummified Gerontocrat Says She Didn’t Know About Mobile Phones Or The Internet” by Caitlin Johnstone (Rogue Journalist)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

(o
During a brief exchange with Senator Dianne Feinstein about a controversial viral video in which she was seen telling off a bunch of small children for making demands about climate change legislation, journalist Ryan Grim reports that the senior US lawmaker told him something very peculiar.

“Feinstein told me she was surprised she went viral, because: ‘You know what somebody said to me?–I didn’t see any of this–they said anybody with a cell phone in their hand can get you on international news in two minutes. I never knew that,” Grim tweeted, adding, “She was chair of the Intelligence Committee, and had just come from a hearing.”

If Feinstein is telling the truth about this, it’s an admission from one of the most powerful politicians in the most powerful government on earth that she literally just found out how mobile phones, social media and the internet work. If she’s lying about this, one of the most powerful politicians in the most powerful government on earth just used an “I’m too old and befuddled to understand how these newfangled dongle widgets work” excuse for her behavior. Either way, this doesn’t say good things about the sort of person who is at the steering wheel of America’s legislative branch today.
o)

“The Monster Pell Has Been Caged At Last” by Caitlin Johnstone (Rogue Journalist)

An excerpt from the above linked-to blog post follows:

:||:-
After being convicted of one count of sexual penetration of a child under 16 and four counts of committing an indecent act with, or in the presence of, a child, Cardinal George Pell spent the first of what may be many nights in jail. While he lay there in his jail cell, my darling uncle’s body lay in a morgue.

Pell’s meteoric rise to the top of the Roman Catholic hierarchy was due in part to his ruthless management of rape and sexual abuse victims. He devised what came to be known as the Melbourne Response, which kept damage to the Church at a minimum by capping the payouts to $50,000 and later $75,000 and requiring victims to sign a silencing agreement. He saved the Church untold millions in compensation and incalculable damages in reputation. The Vatican took notice, and it was only a decade or so before he was tapped to manage the entire financial affairs of the Vatican under the lofty title of “Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy”, making him the third most powerful priest, only two steps down from the Pope.

Meanwhile, down at the other end of this heady world of high finance, my uncle was being handed out a mere $3,000 by the Church. Why? As a pay-off for being raped when he was just a little boy by serial pedophile Father Daniel Hourigan.

For this paltry sum he had to sign a strict confidentiality agreement, and from that day on until the day he died last week – via an on-again, off-again battle with drugs, alcohol, depression and paranoia – he was convinced he was being watched and monitored by the Church. Maybe he was, who knows, but they almost certainly planted the idea that he was going to be observed carefully, which is in many ways as torturous as the act.

Even if he had have put his head up above the trench and taken them on, he would have faced a monumental task. When Pell moved to Sydney to be Archbishop, he oversaw the development of a cunning and lopsided legal strategy known as the “Ellis Defence.” A victim with the surname Ellis attempted to sue the Church for sexual abuse as a child, but because of the tricksy configuration of its legal status as an unincorporated association, the victim could not sue because the priest was dead. Until very recently, the courts could do nothing but throw up their hands. He had no one to sue
-:||:

“Neither Rain, Sleet, nor Snow Will Stop the Post Office From Spying on You” by John Kiriakou (Consortium News)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

|[|
You may remember that last year some nut was arrested for mailing bombs to prominent Democrats, media outlets, and opponents of Donald Trump. Less than a week after the bombs went out, a suspect was arrested. Almost immediately, video turned up of him at a Trump rally, wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat and chanting for the camera. He was soon tried, convicted, and jailed. End of story.

But it wasn’t the end of the story. The investigation into the bomb incidents focused attention on an almost unknown federal surveillance program—one that poses a direct threat to the privacy and constitutional rights of every American. It’s called the “Mail Cover Program” and it’s run by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). Yes, even the Post Office is spying on us.

The Mail Cover Program allows postal employees to photograph and send to federal law enforcement organizations (FBI, DHS, Secret Service, etc.) the front and back of every piece of mail the Post Office processes. It also retains the information digitally and provides it to any government agency that wants it—without a warrant.
|]|

John Pilger

“The Prisoner Says ‘No’ to Big Brother” by John Pilger (Consortium News)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

|(|
The man who guards Room 101 sits in what looks like an old-fashioned telephone box. He watches a screen, watching Julian. There are others unseen, agents of the state, watching and listening.

Cameras are everywhere in Room 101. To avoid them, Julian maneuvers us both into a corner, side by side, flat up against the wall. This is how we catch up: whispering and writing to each other on a notepad, which he shields from the cameras. Sometimes we laugh.

I have my designated time slot. When that expires, the door in Room 101 bursts open and the guard says, “Time is up!” On New Year’s Eve, I was allowed an extra 30 minutes and the man in the phone box wished me a happy new year, but not Julian…

The UN says he has the right of free passage to freedom, but this is denied. He has the right to medical treatment without fear of arrest, but this is denied. He has the right to compensation, but this is denied.

As founder and editor of WikiLeaks, his crime has been to make sense of dark times. WikiLeaks has an impeccable record of accuracy and authenticity which no newspaper, no TV channel, no radio station, no BBC, no New York Times, no Washington Post, no Guardiancan equal. Indeed, it shames them.

That explains why he is being punished…

Vichy journalism is censorship by omission, such as the untold scandal of the collusion between Australian governments and the United States to deny Julian Assange his rights as an Australian citizen and to silence him.

In 2010, Prime Minister Julia Gillard went as far as ordering the Australian Federal Police to investigate and hopefully prosecute Assange and WikiLeaks — until she was informed by the AFP that no crime had been committed.

Last weekend, the Sydney Morning Herald published a lavish supplement promoting a celebration of “Me Too” at the Sydney Opera House on 10 March. Among the leading participants is the recently retired Minister of Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop.

Bishop has been on show in the local media lately, lauded as a loss to politics: an “icon”, someone called her, to be admired.

The elevation to celebrity feminism of one so politically primitive as Bishop tells us how much so-called identity politics have subverted an essential, objective truth: that what matters, above all, is not your gender but the class you serve…

Perhaps she was merely “acting on instructions” when she flew to London and Washington last year with her ministerial chief of staff, who had indicated that the Australian Foreign Minister would raise Julian’s case and hopefully begin the diplomatic process of bringing him home.

Julian’s father had written a moving letter to the then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, asking the government to intervene diplomatically to free his son. He told Turnbull that he was worried Julian might not leave the embassy alive.

Julie Bishop had every opportunity in the UK and the U.S. to present a diplomatic solution that would bring Julian home. But this required the courage of one proud to represent a sovereign, independent state, not a vassal.

Instead, she made no attempt to contradict the British Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, when he said outrageously that Julian “faced serious charges”. What charges? There were no charges.

Australia’s Foreign Minister abandoned her duty to speak up for an Australian citizen, prosecuted with nothing, charged with nothing, guilty of nothing.
|)|

Stephen Hickey

“Crocodile Tears for Venezuela” by Colin Todhunter (Off Guardian)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

====:-
On 26 February, Stephen Hickey, UK political coordinator at the United Nations, delivered a statement at the Security Council briefing on Venezuela that put the blame for the situation in that country on its government. He said that years of misrule and corruption have wrecked the Venezuelan economy and that the actions of the “Maduro regime” have led to economic collapse…

Here are a few facts for Stephen Hickey. In 2018, Maduro was re-elected president. A section of the opposition boycotted the election but the boycott failed: 9,389,056 people voted; 16 parties participated and six candidates stood for the presidency. Maduro won 6,248,864 votes, or 68 per cent.

Renowned journalist John Pilger says that on election day he spoke to one of the 150 foreign election observers who told him the process had been entirely fair. There was no fraud and none of the lurid media claims stood up.

So what of the unelected Juan Guaidó whom Hickey calls the “interim president”?

Pilger notes that the Trump administration has presented Guaidó, a pop-up creation of the CIA-front National Endowment for Democracy, as the legitimate President of Venezuela. Guaidó was previously unheard of by 81 percent of the Venezuelan people and has been elected by no one.

And what of the people who are behind him (not ordinary Venezuelan people, but his backers in Washington)? Pilger says:

“As his “special envoy to Venezuela” (coup master), Trump has appointed a convicted felon, Elliot Abrams, whose intrigues in the service of Presidents Reagan and George W. Bush helped produce the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s and plunge central America into years of blood-soaked misery.”

None of this [social and economic gains of Chavismo] happened in the warped world of Stephen Hickey either. He paints a wholly distorted picture of the situation in Venezuela, one which lays the blame for economic woes and their consequences at the door of Maduro and his ‘corrupt regime’. But this is a tried and tested strategy: bring a country to its knees and apportion blame on the political leaders of that country.

Countries like Venezuela have to a large extent been trapped by their colonial legacy and have very often become single commodity producers – in this case oil – and find it difficult to expand other sectors. In effect, they have found themselves extremely vulnerable. The US can squeeze the price of the commodity upon which such countries rely, while applying sanctions and cutting off financial lifelines. It then becomes that much easier to lay the blame for the consequences on a ‘corrupt regime’.
-:====

“The Words and Deeds of Social Imperialists” by Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

(===
The best evidence of the profound weakness of the “left” in the United States is that it is necessary to credit Bernie Sanders with making “socialism” a benign term in national political discourse. The price of socialism’s admission to polite conversation here in the belly of the hegemonic capitalist beast is that it must always be chaperoned by the word “democratic” so as to distinguish it from supposedly “authoritarian” ideologies of the same name. The “democratic” modifier works wonders, magically enlarging the historical “socialist” camp to include President Franklin Roosevelt, a wealthy guy that never thought of himself as a socialist but whose 1944 Economic Bill of Rights is the verbatim source of Bernie Sanders’ brand of socialism. At the same time, almost all the actual socialist movements and governments in human history are demonized.

Under this “democratic” form of socialism, the capitalist ruling class is never overthrown, but nevertheless acquiesces to reforms that grant working people basic economic and political rights. Seeing no necessity to overthrow the Lords of Capital at home, the Sandernista socialists have no principled objection to the military-political-economic structures of global capitalism — a system most people in the world call imperialism. But American “democratic socialists” don’t like that word because it tends to upset the U.S. ruling class. Moreover, Bernie’s brand of “socialists” carry around much the same list of enemy nations as their right-wing and “centrist” corporate comrades: Libya, Syria, and now Venezuela – the “authoritarian” socialists…

In current U.S. terms, “social imperialists” like Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are weak on peace — only slightly less warlike than their corporate Democratic Party colleagues. In the face of President Trump’s blatant acts of war against Venezuela, including an ongoing attempted coup, savage economic sanctions, the outrageous theft of billions in economic assets, and threats of armed intervention, Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez make weak noises against military action while accepting the rationale of the aggression. Neither has a word to say about international law, a subject that has been banished from polite discourse in the imperial headquarters country.
===)

“Just outside Jasper National Park, a coal mine threatens an Indigenous community’s water supply” by Janice Cantieri (The Narwhal)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

::::—
A coal-mine expansion in the Canadian Rocky Mountains threatens the drinking water supply of the Mountain Cree-Smallboy Camp, where about 140 Indigenous people have been practising and maintaining their traditional spirituality, language and culture for the past half-century.

It takes several hours of driving on snow- and ice-covered gravel roads without cell service to reach the camp, which consists of a school, an ice rink and several hand-crafted houses nestled in the woods.

Teck Resources Ltd., a B.C.-based mining corporation, plans to expand its Cheviot Mine over the Cardinal Divide — a wide alpine ridge separating two major watersheds — to Redcap Mountain, just east of Jasper National Park, Alta…

The Mountain Cree-Smallboy Camp collects buckets of drinking water directly from the Cardinal River and harvests medicinal plants in the Redcap area.

Reinhart Roan, 61, an elder in the Mountain Cree-Smallboy Camp, told The Narwhal that camp leaders met with Teck to explain they are not opposed to all mining — but they asked that Teck limit the mining to an area that wouldn’t affect their drinking water…

Teck told The Narwhal it recognizes and respects the rights, cultures, interest and aspirations of Indigenous peoples.

“Teck has been engaging with the Mountain Cree since the mid-’90s with respect to activities at our Cardinal River operation and we are committed to continuing this engagement in the years ahead,” Pederson said in an e-mail.

The camp’s elders say they have repeatedly asked that Teck limit its mining to the other side of the Cardinal Divide because of the threats posed to their water supply.

“You don’t have to be educated or certified in any way to know they’re going to impact the water,” Roan said.“We live downstream from them.”…

Experts have found high levels of pollutants downstream from many of the mines Teck operates in North America.

The Red Dog Mine in Alaska was the largest toxin-releasing facility in the United States in 2016. A federal court in Washington state found Teck guilty of dumping hundreds of thousands of tons of lead, arsenic, zinc and mercury into the Upper Columbia River since 1930. The company was forced to pay $8.25 million to the Colville Tribe for damages to the river.

Selenium and nitrate levels were far higher than recommended standards in rivers downstream of Teck’s five metallurgical coal mines in B.C.’s Elk Valley. Waste rock from the mines are exposed to air and water, allowing selenium and nitrates to flow into the streams, rivers and lakes.

Selenium is an essential trace element needed by the body at low levels, but at high levels can cause nervous system damage, changes to hair and fingernails, and kidney and liver tissue damage. One municipal water well and several private wells in Sparwood, B.C., were closed because selenium levels exceeded levels safe for drinking.

Erin Sexton, senior scientist at the University of Montana’s Flathead Lake biological station, has been tracking the impacts of Teck’s mines on biodiversity in the Elk Valley for the past two decades.

“We found there were really high levels of selenium and nitrates that were significantly different than above the mines,” Sexton told The Narwhal. “The diversity of aquatic bugs was heavily impacted, it was significantly different just downstream. The contamination extended many kilometres downstream, into Montana and Idaho.”

Teck built a water-treatment facility to address the issue. But the facility, meant to remove high levels of selenium leached from the mine’s waste rock, ended up releasing a more bioavailable form of selenium, causing a major fish kill-off. Teck was fined $1.4 million for the fish kill in 2017.
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