Professional Scam Artists – part 62

President Donald Trump with North Carolina Congressman Patrick McHenry in 2017

“GOP congressman tried to amend tax code to report BDS supporters to IRS– and 12 Dems voted for it” by Michael Arria (Mondoweiss)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

During final consideration of a House bill regarding retirement savings, North Carolina Rep. Patrick McHenry offered a motion to recommit that would have required the legislation to be amended before it passed. McHenry was looking to add a section that would have required some individuals who boycott Israel to report that information to the IRS and potentially be penalized for it.

HR 1994 – the “Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019” was a noncontroversial bill introduced by Massachusetts Rep. Richard Neal to update the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. It passed the House easily, but right before the vote Rep. McHenry approached the floor and called for an additional component to be added to the bill: “Reports by Taxpayers Engaged in Boycotts Etc. Affecting Israel.” McHenry gave an impassioned speech denouncing Democrats who have previously voted against anti-BDS bills and denounced BDS supporters as anti-Semitic.

Menyalastudio | Shutterstock

“UN Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer Becomes One of Assange’s Most Vocal Advocates” by Jimmysllama (Mint Press News)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

On May 9, UN Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer, visited WikiLeaks founder and journalist Julian Assange at Belmarsh Prison… Melzer was accompanied by two medical experts who specialize in the examination of possible victims of torture as well as the documentation of symptoms, both physical and psychological…

According to Melzer, the evidence is overwhelming that Assange has been “deliberately exposed, for a period of several years, to progressively [more] severe forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” the effects of which he described as psychological torture…

He found that four nations have “contributed to medical effects” that Melzer and his team observed: Sweden, the U.K., Ecuador, and the U.S….

Melzer has frequently spoken about the “elephant in the room,” which he describes as the United States’ attempts to have Assange extradited in order to make an example out of him. Essentially every judicial proceeding Assange has faced since 2010 has revolved around this threat…

His legal troubles began in August 2010, when Sweden opened an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct, including rape and molestation. However, rather than contact Assange directly for questioning, Swedish authorities publicized the case despite the fact that Swedish law strictly prohibited them from doing so. Upon learning about the investigation, Assange immediately went to the police and made a statement, after which the case was closed owing to a lack of evidence.

Days later the case was reopened by a different prosecutor and Assange remained in Sweden until the end of September in order to assist with their investigation. On September 15, 2010, Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny granted Assange permission to leave the country; so, despite an almost decade-old narrative that Assange “fled” Swedish charges (he was never charged) by hiding out in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, that is absolutely and categorically not true.

It’s also important to note that, when Assange left Sweden, authorities seized his belongings at the airport, including a laptop and other electronics; at which point, had the Swedish prosecutor been so inclined to keep him in the country for questioning, they could have seized him right then and there. Instead, they allowed him to leave.

Once Assange was in the U.K., Sweden requested that he return for questioning, which aroused suspicion owing to the fact that, as Melzer pointed out, the country has a history of cooperating with the U.S. government and turning people over to it without due process, some of whom were rendered and later tortured. Assange feared, correctly, that the “elephant in the room” lay hidden behind Sweden’s request…

After the U.K. Supreme Court upheld a Swedish extradition request (over questioning in the case, not charges) in May 2012, Assange, again, under the credible fear that Sweden would extradite him to the U.S., entered the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he sought asylum for political persecution.

He continued to try to assist Swedish officials and offered to be questioned at the Embassy but Sweden refused, despite having previously questioned at least 44 other individuals by video link or traveling for in-person interviews. The Swedish government’s outlandish refusals only fueled speculation that it was working on behalf of the United States. The investigation was finally closed in 2017, but was resurrected by Swedish officials last month.

Melzer points out that the reopened case is not about a violent and/or forced sexual encounter but rather the allegation that Assange purposely tore a condom during consensual sexual relations. The condom was later examined by authorities, who were unable to detect any DNA on it, including Assange’s. This is what Sweden describes as “rape,” and what it has used repeatedly to publicly characterize Assange as a rapist.

“Elliott Abrams Denies Failure of US Regime Change Policy in Venezuela” by ? (teleSUR)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

U.S. special representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams attempted to downplay the failure of his country’s campaign against the Venezuelan government of Nicolas Maduro saying Tuesday that U.S. President Donald Trump is still committed to a pressure campaign to force regime change in the South American country…

He also firmly rejected the possibility that Maduro could be part of a unity government in Venezuela…

Abrams said he hoped to meet with Manuel Cristopher, a Venezuelan general who turned against Maduro, who is now in the United States.

Abrams said the administration “did not bring” Cristopher to the United States, but added: “We’re happy he is here, makes it easier to have more conversations with him.”

Cristopher, who was the head of the South American country’s Sebin intelligence service, has been accused by the Maduro government of being behind the failed attempted coup against the leftist government on April 30 as he conspired to help Guaido by releasing opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, who was under house arrest.

Ex-SEBIN chief Manuel Cristopher Figuera has fled to the United States after participating in the April 30 failed putsch in Venezuela. (The Washington Post)

“Abrams Welcomes Venezuela’s Former Intelligence Chief to the US, Reaffirms Trump’s Commitment to Ousting Maduro” by Paul Dobson (Venezuelanalysis)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Manuel Cristopher Figuera, who served as chief of the Bolivarian Intelligence Services (SEBIN) from October 2018 to April 2019, arrived in the US on Monday.

He has recently been sacked and expelled from the Venezuelan armed forces following his participation in the failed putsch led by self-proclaimed “Interim President” Juan Guaido on April 30, authorising the release of Guaido’s mentor, Leopoldo Lopez, who was under house arrest for his role in the violent 2014 street protests.

Speaking at a press conference Tuesday, Abrams, who is known for his leading role in the Iran-Contra scandal and advising George W. Bush in the lead up to the Iraq war, explained that he was “happy” with Cristopher Figuera’s arrival as it “makes it easier to talk to him,” adding that he “has many interesting things to say about Maduro.”

He also alleged that US authorities had no role in bringing him to the country. Cristopher Figuera claims to have been in hiding under the protection of the Colombian government in Bogota since his desertion. The US sanctions against him were also lifted in May following his assistance to Guaido’s efforts.

While the ex-SEBIN chief is yet to make any public comment from the United States, a recent interview done in Bogota was published on Monday by the Washington Post, in which Cristopher Figuera claims to have a “treasure trove” of information for US authorities about the inner workings of the Venezuelan government.

Ronald Reagan

“NYT Presents Social Security Cuts as ‘Solution’ to Problem of Social Security Cuts” by Joshua Cho (FAIR)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

It’s hard to improve on economist and FAIR contributor Dean Baker’s observation that corporate media’s calls for cuts to programs for the elderly under the neutral-sounding guise of “reform” are about as predictable as the sunrise. As illustrated by the New York Times’ alarmist 1,581 word report (6/12/19) by Jeff Sommer, headlined “Social Security Is Facing Its First Real Shortfall in Decades,” another favorite media euphemism for cuts to Social Security is “solution.”

And not just any “solution”; it has to be “bipartisan,” too, in order to beat back the caricature of crazy leftists intent on bankrupting the country with their fiscal irresponsibility, even though there is no evidence that bipartisanship in itself produces better legislation (, 2/3/09)…

Economist Richard Wolff (Guardian, 11/4/13) noted that austerity cuts to entitlement programs like Social Security after an economic crisis amount to a great “shell game.” Even though workers had to pay excess payroll taxes for decades to create the surpluses that form the Social Security trust fund, the same workers who contributed more than necessary are being asked to receive less than what was promised to them, in order to pay off the massive debt-fueled bailouts and economic stimulus cynically being exploited to attack Social Security, despite the self-funded program having no relevance to the deficit or national debt (Truthout, 5/7/13).

Setting aside the media’s pattern of reporting on the Social Security Trustees’ annual report in the gravest terms possible, despite this year’s report containing better news than last year’s, there are real solutions that don’t involve cutting benefits.

“Drink Coke? Then You Support the Murder of Humans And Animals” by Alison Banville (BSNews)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Hey! Fancy a Diet Coke? – ‘The lawsuits charged that Coca-Cola bottlers “contracted with. or otherwise directed, paramilitary security forces that utilized extreme violence and murdered, tortured, unlawfully detained or otherwise silenced trade union leaders.” The lawsuits and campaign were developed to force Coca-Cola to once and for all end further bloodshed, compensate victims and provide safe working conditions.’ ‘The lawsuits were filed in the United States in 2001 and 2006 by the United Steelworkers of America and the International Labor Rights Fund on behalf of SINALTRAINAL, (Colombian union) several of its members who were falsely imprisoned and the survivors of Isidro Gil and Adolfo de Jesus Munera, two of its murdered officers…

Fair Oaks Farms is one of the largest dairies in the U.S. and produces dairy products for the Fairlife milk brand – which is produced, marketed and distributed by the Coca-Cola Corporation.

Undercover investigators for Animal Recovery Mission (ARM) have confirmed that male calves from Fair Oaks Farms are in fact transported to veal farms (Midwest Veal and Calf Start), despite the corporation’s claims that it does not send its male calves to veal farms.

The following abuses were witnessed on virtually a daily basis:
Employees were observed slapping, kicking, punching, pushing, throwing and slamming calves; calves were stabbed and beaten with steel rebars, hit in the mouth and face with hard plastic milking bottles, kneed in the spine, burned in the face with hot branding irons, subjected to extreme temperatures, provided with improper nutrition, and denied medical attention. This resulted in extreme pain and suffering by the calves, and in some cases permanent injury and even death.

Theresa May

“Theresa May’s odious legacy of wide-reaching repressive state policies” by ? (Morning Star)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

====== =
ALL political careers end in failure. But not Theresa May’s. She will be remembered for the success of her hostile environment policy.

Successful in creating an atmosphere of suspicion, in poisoning the public conversation about migration, in creating anxiety, even terror, in the minds of thousands of citizens, in mobilising a substantial portion of the state’s repressive apparatus in a task of mind-boggling inconsequence for the economic wellbeing and security of the British people. Successful in making the universal search for secure housing a road to ruin.

Theresa May will be remembered as the minister who sent vehicles decorated with “Go Home” slogans to terrify people who had lived and worked in Britain for decades.

That telling phrase: “to create, here in Britain, a really hostile environment for illegal immigrants” will follow May to her grave…

Empire immigrants came here because Britain ruled their countries as colonies. Moreover they came here at the explicit request of the government to provide the person power for post-war recovery.

They came here to participate in a labour market in which payment into a contributory national insurance system and a personal taxation regime was one side of a bargain in which a lifetime of labour would be transmuted in a secure retirement, secure housing and access to the welfare state system which that personal contribution made possible for all of us.

To deny people who have spent their productive years in Britain the just recompense for that contribution, to put them through the torture of detention, deportation and degradation, to deny them benefits, exclude them from healthcare and tear them away from family and friends is of a piece with the mentality of the colonial oppressor.
= ======

Photo: The Crucible at the Pacific Conservatory Theatre

“The great antisemitism witchhunt: McCarthyism redux” by John Wight (Off Guardian)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

In Britain in 2019 we need no longer turn to US history for an understanding of McCarthyism and its execrable fruits.

For in Britain in 2019 McCarthyism is with us and among us, corroding our public and political discourse, poisoning it with the untruths, lies and mendacious smears of some of the most malignant political forces that ever existed in these islands.

Reds under the bed has been replaced with antisemites under the bed; this with the full and open complicity of a mainstream media whose dread over the prospect of transformational political change is entwined in tight embrace with that of an Establishment — political and security — in ensuring nothing but nothing will ever change in this country apart from the colour of the curtains on the windows in Downing Street.

Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party has to [all] intents been usurped by his deputy Tom Watson, a man for whom Shakespeare’s “Hell is empty, and all the devils are here!” line from The Tempest could have been written with in mind.

Watson is the Labour Party’s Matthew Hopkins, the infamous witch-hunter whose reign of terror in 17th century Britain finds its metaphorical equivalent in the 21st century with the objective not of locating and hanging out to dry antisemites but instead anti-Zionists, which means to say genuine anti-racists.

“Joe Biden Didn’t End Iraq War, Yet He Claimed Credit During Debate” by Kevin Gosztola (ShadowProof)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Former vice president Joe Biden took credit for withdrawing 150,000 United States troops from Iraq during the Democratic presidential debate. But the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq was part of a status of forces agreement (SOFA) President George W. Bush established with the Iraqi government.

As the Washington Post reported in November 2008, “The Bush administration agreed to a total withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.” The agreement also placed “additional restrictions on how U.S. troops conducted missions,” and required a “pullout from Iraqi urban areas by July 2009.”

In fact, in early 2011, Obama and his advisers planned to keep a residual force in Iraq, but they didn’t tell Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki or the American people…

Will the Democrats and other engaged people take Trump on if he tries to make “socialism” the big scare in 2020? Control of our political economy is not a conservative/liberal or red state/blue state issue. When confronted with the specifics of the corporate state or corporate socialism, people from all political persuasions will recognize the potential perils to our democracy. No one wants to lose essential freedoms or to continue to pay the price of this runaway crony capitalism.

Ralph Nader

“Trump Invites Debates over Omnivorous Crony Capitalism” by Ralph Nader (Dissident Voice)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Now, it is even easier to make the case that our political economy is largely controlled by giant corporations and their political toadies. Today the concentration of power and wealth is staggering. Just six capitalist men have wealth to equal the wealth of half of the world’s population.

The Wall Street collapse of 2008-2009 destroyed eight million jobs, lost trillions of dollars in pension and mutual funds, and pushed millions of families to lose their homes. Against this backdrop, the U.S. government used trillions of taxpayer dollars to bail out, in various ways, the greedy, financial giants, whose reckless speculating caused the collapse.

In May 2009, the moderate Senator from Illinois, Dick Durbin, said: “The banks – hard to believe when we’re facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created – are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place.”

Is there a single federal government agency or department that can say its most powerful outside influence is NOT corporate? Even the Labor Department and the National Labor Relations Board are under more corporate power than union power.

Who better than Trump, on an anti-socialist fantasy campaign kick, can call attention to the reality that Big Business controls the government and by extension controls the people? In September 2000, a Business Week poll found over 70 percent of people agreeing that big business has too much control over their lives (this was before the horrific corporate crimes and scandals of the past two decades). Maybe that is why support in polls for “socialism” against “capitalism” in the U.S. is at a 60 year high.

“Another Train Carrying Oil Derails, Catches Fire In New Brunswick, Canada” by Diane Sweet (Crooks And Liars)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

A Canadian National Railway train carrying propane and crude oil derailed and caught fire on Tuesday in northwest New Brunswick, Canada, the latest in a string of train accidents that have put the surging crude-by-rail business under heavy scrutiny…

The train originated in Toronto and was headed to Moncton, New Brunswick, which is about 300 km (186 miles) east of the site of the accident, according to Feeny.

A CBC investigation into rail safety revealed that Canadian National Railway did not report to authorities more than 1,800 derailments and accidents, including 44 on key rail arteries.

Rick Scott

“How Sen. Rick Scott became Big Oil’s point man on Venezuelan regime change” by Dan Cohen (The Grayzone)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

((( (( (
Speaking to a packed house of former government officials, oil executives, and lobbyists at a June 20th Atlantic Council event entitled “Russian Influence in Venezuela: What Should the United States Do?,” Scott launched into a tirade against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

“There is clearly genocide happening in Venezuela right now,” Scott declared. “Tens of thousands are dead, and it’s clearly genocide and it’s in our hemisphere.”

Scott wasn’t referring to the tens of thousands of Venezuelans that have died as a result of the crippling US sanctions regime since 2017. He was pointing instead at Venezuela’s president…

At the same time, Scott – whose oil-heavy investment portfolio stood to grow as a result of the prospective coup – led the way in the halls of power in Washington.

Scott’s donors in big oil have a clear interest in toppling Venezuela’s government. Since 2007, when President Hugo Chávez nationalized the assets of Venezuela’s national oil company, Petroleum of Venezuela (PDVSA), companies like ExxonMobil have been cut out of the country’s market.

“They will never rob us again, those bandits of ExxonMobil; they are imperialist bandits, white collar criminals, corruptors of governments, over-throwers of governments, who supported the invasion and bombing of Iraq and continue supporting the genocide in Iraq,” Chávez thundered that year on his weekly TV show Alo Presidente.
) )) )))

“Munk School of Global Affairs feeds anti-Iran propaganda” by Yves Engler (Yves Engler)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Recently the US has choked off Iranian oil exports, listed its military a terrorist organization and dispatched an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to its environs to stop Iran’s “aggression”. Going along with Donald Trump’s warlike actions and rhetoric, Justin Trudeau’s government has broken a promise to restart diplomatic relations, failed to withdraw Iran from Canada’s list of state sponsors of terrorism and recently accused Tehran of destabilizing the region.

This is the context in which the Munk School of Global Affairs’ Citizen Lab released a recent report criticizing Iran…

The University of Toronto based lab’s accusations were picked up by dozens of media outlets around the world. A New York Times headline read: “Report Shows How a Pro-Iran Group Spread Fake News Online” while the Globe and Mail noted “New Citizen Lab report suggests Iran spreads fake news.”

But, the report’s concluding section titled “Narratives fit Iranian interests, propaganda” isn’t convincing…

While the media mostly covered Citizen Lab’s claims uncritically, its positions on Iran should be viewed with significant skepticism. This ‘lab’ has produced a stream of reports critical of Iran and, in fact, is part of a government funded effort to destabilize that country. In March Citizen Lab Director Ron Deibert co-authored “Censors Get Smart: Evidence from Psiphon in Iran.” Previously, Citizen Lab published “Group 5: Syria and the Iran Connection”, which described a malware operation targeting Syrian opposition figures that purportedly came from Iran. The Lab published After the Green Movement: Internet Controls in Iran, 2009-2012 and in 2015 they detailed hacking of Iranian dissidents. While Citizen Lab carefully avoided naming a culprit, their press release hyped the matter and a number of media reports implied Iranian authorities were responsible.

Deibert is a regular at anti-Iranian events…

With early financial support from the Ford Foundation, Donner Canadian Foundation and Open Society Institute, Citizen Lab developed software to bypass government censors. It worked with Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and Radio Farda in Iran to disseminate its Psiphon technology to Iranian dissidents…

The Munk School of Global Affairs joined the Stephen Harper Conservatives’ low-level war against Iran… Some Iranian Canadians criticized the 2013 Global Dialogue on Iran. In a letter to Munk School head Janice Stein, who was awarded an honorary doctorate from Hebrew University “in tribute to her unwavering devotion to Israel”, the president of the Iranian Canadian Community Council Niaz Salimi wrote: “Conspicuously absent from the event were experts, academics, political activists, students, bloggers, journalists and members of the Iranian diaspora (including those of the Iranian-Canadian community) whose views on Iran do not fully concur with the positions of the Harper government.”

This is one-way Canadian propaganda works: Establish who your enemies are — generally defined by big corporations, rich people and whoever is in power in Washington — attempt to destabilize their “regimes”, then accuse their governments of interfering in your affairs.

Citizen Lab’s recent report criticizing Iran is part of a government funded effort to demonize that country, which could be a step towards a military assault.

I used to have a link to Psiphon on my front page. I just didn’t know better. But now I do.

“Inside The “Cult” Of Kielburger” by Jaren Kerr (Canadaland)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

The WE organization is a family of entities including WE Charity, whose international development work includes providing clean drinking water and access to education to youth, and ME to WE, a “social enterprise” business whose profits are donated to WE Charity and reinvested to “grow the mission of the social enterprise.”

But two dozen former employees, who worked with WE over the past two decades, laid out what they believed to be serious internal problems at the organization… Some said WE demanded total personal commitment from young workers and volunteers, extracting 16-hour work days with unpaid overtime, at near-minimum wage. Some said that WE management used guilt to suppress dissent from employees, stressing that requests for better pay and support would take resources away from needy children in Africa…

Fourteen former employees likened WE to a cult, describing it as “cult-ish” or “cult-like.” Six former employees, interviewed separately, offered this comparison without prompting. Canadaland then asked other former and current WE employees if they believed this was an accurate comparison. Eight agreed that it was, and five said it was not…

In a statement, WE accused Canadaland of “leading the sources” to compare it to a cult, and said that “Canadaland is simply underscoring its bias and malice by attempting to incorrectly portray WE as ‘cult-like.’” They also cited a 2018 review by HR consultancy Lee Hecht Harrison Knightsbridge [pdf], which found that staff described WE as “having a strong culture with contagious energy stemming from employees’ unified passion to make a difference.”

WE has served Canadaland with libel notices for our past reporting on them and notified us of their intention to file a defamation suit…

His origin story is a foundational text for WE that is told and re-told to millions of kids. As it goes, Craig found his purpose in life in April 1995 at the age of 12, when he read an article about Iqbal Masih, a former child labourer in Pakistan’s carpet trade. Masih, an unlikely activist, had become a martyr after being assassinated by the “carpet mafia.” It was at that moment that Craig took up the work that Masih could not, and WE Charity (then called Free The Children) was born.

However, both local police and an NGO, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan [pdf], soon determined that the man who killed Masih was, in fact, not connected to the carpet industry at all. Their investigations determined that Masih witnessed a man sexually assaulting a donkey, and the man then shot Masih, reportedly by accident. There were also reports that Masih was 19, not 12, at the time of his death. No one has been convicted for Masih’s killing.

In his 1998 book, Free the Children, Craig wrote about personally investigating the conflicting accounts during a trip to Pakistan, and concluded that the truth about Masih’s death was unclear — but that ultimately, the details of it were not important…

Another former employee, who worked as an associate director for WE, said North American school kids were “almost like a commodity” for the organization.

Carrie Patterson, the chief operations director for WE Charity and WE Schools said in a statement provided by WE that “the majority of WE’s campaigns (70 per cent) are focused on student service, not fundraising” and that “unlike virtually any other charity, WE actively encourages and supports youth to raise millions of dollars for other causes and charities.”

The employee must agree that both while working for the organization and after leaving it, they “shall not make, post, or publish” derogatory comments or opinions about WE or its representatives “in any form whatsoever.”

The gag order had no expiry date, and the contract laid out financial consequences for violations; it held the employee’s heirs and successors liable should the employee die after breaking the terms…

Canadaland first reported on WE in March of 2015, after a documentary critical of the organization was pulled from the CBC’s television schedule the day it was set to air. Canadaland learned that the CBC scrubbed the documentary of negative comments about WE and re-scheduled it for broadcast, after WE contacted the CBC to raise concerns about what they described to Canadaland as “unauthorized footage” of a WE Day event. (In comments to Canadaland at the time, a WE spokesperson emphasized that they “did not ask for the documentary to be pulled.”)

Once Canadaland published stories on this incident, WE employees past and present began contacting us with information. Our investigation has been ongoing ever since.

Another good source for info on this scammy operation is Cory Morningstar’s “The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent.”

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