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Venezuelan President Meets with Private Television Stations

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President Maduro (second from left) in a meeting with Venevision representatives (agencies)
By Tamara Pearson | Venezuelanalysis | May 21, 2013

Merida – Yesterday Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro met with representatives of private television stations Venevision and Televen. Together they discussed the media’s role in maintaining an environment of “peace, tolerance and living together”.

Last Wednesday Maduro called on the two stations to form an “alliance for life” and to stop “promoting disloyalty, betrayal, and drug-trafficking”.

After the meeting Venevision said in a formal statement that they had discussed a communication campaign called “Zero Violence”, which would contribute to the “movement for peace and life” and reducing violence in Venezuela.

Venevision is Venezuela’s largest television network, and is available over cable, free terrestrial, and in the United States through Univision. Until 2005 it opposed Hugo Chavez, but from then on its coverage has been more even-handed. It is owned by one of Venezuela’s richest citizens, Gustavo Cisneros, and includes a variety of programming, from news, to children’s shows, music, and movies.

Televen has the second highest audience, after Venevision, and focuses on soap operas, sports, and talk shows. Camero Comunicaciones owns half of it, and Cadena Capriles owns the other half. It has a smaller proportion of nationally produced shows than Venevision.

According to Maduro, Televen’s representatives also agreed to the proposal to reinforce values “for peace and life”. He said they agreed to increase national production of series and documentaries, in order to “support our artists… and promote national values”.

After the two meetings, Vice-president Jorge Arreaza also stated that they had agreed to work together on a “new model of television… where content supporting peace and stability is generated”.

Maduro also announced yesterday that he would meet with the new owners of opposition news station Globovision, saying “I don’t know them but I’m going to meet with them”. He said they had requested the meeting with him, but so far there are no further details.

May 22, 2013 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | Comments Off on Venezuelan President Meets with Private Television Stations

Honduras: Three Farmers Killed During Land Eviction

Agencia Púlsar | May 22, 2013

In the north of Honduras, in the community of San Manuel Cortés, three peasants were killed and two others wounded on Friday, when they tried to enter the lands that were expropriated last year by the Instituto Nacional Agrario (National Agrarian Institute). Valentín Caravantes, Celso Ruiz y Celedonio Avelar, who died at the scene, were members of the Farmers’ Movement of San Manuel Cortés (MOCSAM), located about 200kms from the capital.

The men entered the land because they obtained an order from the Court of Criminal Appeals, which stated that the evictions carried out in February 2012 against MOCSAM were illegal, reports the National Popular Resistance Front of Honduras (FNRP). “Security guards from the Honduran Sugar Company (CAHSA) fired at the three farmers,” FNRP added.

Brothers Aníbal and Adolfo Melgar were also seriously injured in the shooting and were immediately taken to a hospital in the municipality of San Pedro Sula.

For three years now MOCSAM has been demanding more than 3,000 acres of land which is currently possessed by the CAHSA company and exceeds 250 acres, the maximum a person or a firm can own in Valle de Sula under the country’s agrarian law.

The incident is the latest in a long series of clashes, which have ended up with many deaths over the past few years. In February, more than 1,000 peasants took back land after being expelled by British/South African beverages multinational SAB Miller in August 2012. And earlier this year, in March, the ongoing conflict between farmers and the Honduran government has resulted in the eviction of over 1,500 people from their land in the south of the country.

May 22, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Honduras: Three Farmers Killed During Land Eviction

US government admits to killing four American citizens with drones

RT | May 22, 2013

United States Attorney General Eric Holder has informed Congress that four American citizens have been killed in Yemen and Pakistan by US drones since 2009.

It has been widely reported but rarely acknowledged in Washington that three US citizens — Samir Khan, Anwar al-Awlaki and his teenage son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki — were executed in Yemen by missile-equipped drones in 2011. With Holder’s latest admission, however, a fourth American — Jude Kenan Mohammed — has also been officially named as another casualty in America’s continuing drone war.

Since 2009, the United States, in the conduct of US counterterrorism operations against al-Qaeda and its associated forces outside of areas of active hostilities, has specifically targeted and killed one US citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki,” the letter reads in part. “The United States is further aware of three other US citizens who have been killed in such US counterterrorism operations over that same time period,” Holder said before naming the other victims.

These individuals were not specifically targeted by the United States,” the attorney general wrote.

The news of the admission broke Wednesday afternoon when New York Times reporter Charlie Savage published the letter sent from Holder to congressional leaders in a clear attempt to counter critics who have challenged the White House for falling short of US President Barack Obama’s campaign plans of utmost transparency. Upon a growing number of executive branch scandals worsened by the Department of Justice’s recently disclosed investigation of Associated Press journalists, Holder wrote that coming clean is an effort to include the American public in a discussion all too often conducted in the shadows cast by the US intelligence community.

The administration is determined to continue these extensive outreach efforts to communicate with the American people,” continued Holder. “To this end, the president has directed me to disclose certain information that until now has been properly classified. You and other members of your committee have on numerous occasions expressed a particular interest in the administration’s use of lethal force against US citizens. In light of this face, I am writing to disclose to you certain information about the number of US citizens who have been killed by US counterterrorism operations outside of areas of active hostilities.”

The letter, dated Wednesday, May 22, was addressed to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Drone strikes have become a signature counterterrorism tool used by the Obama administration and his predecessor, President George W. Bush, and have been attributed with killing roughly 5,000 persons abroad, according to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina). But under the covert and protective umbrella of the Central Intelligence Agency, little has been formally acknowledged from Washington as to the details of these strikes.

As part of the vaguely defined ‘War on Terror,’ the US has reportedly waged drone strikes outside of Afghanistan where the Taliban once harbored al-Qaeda. In recent years, those strikes have targeted towns in neighboring Pakistan, as well as Yemen, Somalia and perhaps elsewhere.

But despite growing criticism over escalating use of drones, the president and his office has remained adamant about defending the operations.

It’s important for everybody to understand that this thing is kept on a very tight leash,” Obama said last January, adding that his administration does not conduct “a whole bunch of strikes willy-nilly.”

Others have argued quite the opposite, though, and have opposed these drone strikes over the lack of due process involved and the habit of accidently executing civilians in the strikes. When researchers at Stanford University and New York University published their ‘Living Under Drones’ report last September, they found that roughly 2 percent of drone casualties are of top militant leaders. The Pakistani Interior Minister has said that around 80 percent of drone deaths in his country were suffered by civilians.

Earlier this year, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) led a marathon filibuster on the floor of Congress to oppose the CIA’s drone program and demand the administration explain to elected lawmakers why the use of unmanned aerial vehicles is warranted in executing suspects, often killing innocent civilians as a result.

Of particular concern, Paul said, was whether or not the Obama administration would use the 2011 Yemen strike as justification to kill American citizens within the US. For 13 hours, he demanded the White House respond.

I rise today to begin to filibuster John Brennan’s nomination for the CIA,” Sen. Paul said. “I will speak until I can no longer speak. I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court.”

One day after the filibuster, both Attorney General Holder and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney reached out to Sen. Paul to say the president lacks the authority to issue such a strike within the US. With this week’s letter, however, Holder admits that at least four Americans have met their demise due to US drones. He also explains why the administration felt justified in using UAVs to execute its own people.

Al-Awlaki repeatedly made clear his intent to attack US persons and his hope that these attacks would take American lives,” wrote Holder. “Based on this information, high-level US government officials appropriately concluded that al-Awlaki posed a continuing and imminent threat of violent attack against the United States.”

Later, Holder says the decision to strike al-Awlaki was “not taken lightly” and was first put into plan in early 2010. Additionally, Holder said the plan was “subjected to exceptionally rigorous interagency legal review” and that Justice Department lawyers and attorneys for other agencies agreed that it was the appropriate action to take.

According to Holder, the senior al-Awlaki and Mr. Khan were killed in the same September 2011 drone strike in Yemen. The following month, 16-year-old Abdulrahman Anwar Al-Awlaki was killed in a strike in the same country. Mohammed, a North Carolina resident born in 1988, was killed by a drone likely in November 2011 within a tribal area of Pakistan. Mohammed was indicted by a federal grand jury in 2009 for conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and conspiracy to murder, kidnap, maim and injure persons in a foreign country, and was considered armed and dangerous by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Both Khan and the older al-Awlaki were suspected members of al-Qaeda and were affiliated with the group’s magazine, Inspire.

Last February, friends of Mohammad told a North Carolina newspaper that they believed he was dead.

Farhan Mohammed says he heard in November that his friend was killed in a drone strike,” Raleigh’s WRAL News reported in 2012. “Jude Mohammad’s pregnant wife was hysterical about her husband’s death and called her mother-in-law in the Triangle to break the news, according to Sabra. The US government hasn’t confirmed Mohammad’s death, but the people who knew him in North Carolina say it’s probably true.”

Holder declined to explain why either Mohammad or the teenage al-Awlaki were killed. President Obama is expected to discuss America’s drone program at an address in Washington on Thursday.

May 22, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , | 3 Comments

Body of tortured Afghan unearthed near former US Special Forces base – report

RT | May 22, 2013

Afghan officials have reportedly found the footless body of a local man who went missing a half-year ago. The corpse was unearthed near the former A-Team US Special Forces base – where detainees were tortured and killed, locals claim.

Authorities alleged that the grisly discovery is directly connected to Zakaria Kandahari, a notorious wartime collaborator who Afghan officials believe has US citizenship.

Kandahari reportedly led a death squad that terrorized locals in Wardak Province, using the A-Team base in Nerkh District, a one-hour drive from Kabul, as a permanent residence.

The mutilated body was discovered by ditch diggers about 200 yards from the perimeter of Nerkh base in Wardak Province, the New York Times reported. The base was previously occupied by the A-Team US Special Forces unit, which withdrew in March. Rhe Nerkh base compound is currently occupied by Afghan Special Forces.

According to district governor Mohammad Hanif Hanafi, the corpse was found packed in a military-style black body bag. The victim was identified as Sayid Mohammad, a local resident who was allegedly seen being taken to an US base in November 2012.

This is not the first time that the partial remains and clothing of a missing person have been found near Nerkh base, Afghan officials said. A dismembered body was previously found in a garbage container just outside the US base.

An anonymous Afghan investigator for the Defense Ministry told the NYT that he has a list of names of 17 people who went missing in Nerkh District in Wardak Province between November and December 2012, when Kandahari’s squad conducted operations such as detaining suspects and bringing them to the US Special Forces base.

The seized persons were reportedly never seen alive again. Nine of their bodies, including that of Sayid Mohammad, were found; the other eight remain missing.

The torture squad

The recently unearthed victim was the same man previously seen in a classified video recording made last year. US officials familiar with the matter said it depicts Mohammad being repeatedly kicked by the chief interpreter at the Nerkh base – Kandahari.

Kandahari is on Afghanistan’s most-wanted list for prisoner abuse, torture and murder. Kabul claimed the US sheltered Kandahari; the US Army has denied the accusations.

The US Army has not denied that Kandahari was previously on their payroll, but maintains that the torture video was made after he parted with the A-Team to operate a rogue Afghan unit, and that he is not a US citizen. The US Military described Kandahari as a “freelance interpreter” who joined the American Special Forces voluntarily and lived at their base out of gratitude.

Over the past year, Kandahari and his henchmen have been seen throughout Wardak Province wearing NATO uniforms while riding on quad bikes in search of alleged insurgents.

Precious hangman

Last March, hundreds of Afghans – watched by a considerable number of armed riot police – marched to parliament in Kabul, demanding the withdrawal of US Special Forces from Wardak Province. The demonstrators were infuriated by reports of civilians being tortured and killed; Kandahari’s name first went public amid these demonstrations.

APTN video still

APTN video still

Following the protests, Afghan authorities demanded the US deliver the alleged criminal to Kabul. The US refused to turn over Kandahari to Afghan authorities.

US Military authorities claimed that Kandahari had escaped, and that they knew nothing about his whereabouts. In response, an infuriated President Hamid Karzai demanded that the US Special Operations forces leave Wardak. A compromise was later reached, and only the infamous A-Team base was removed.

An unidentified Afghan investigator told the New York Times that “there is no question” that Kandahari was directly involved in torture and murder, but asks, “Who recruited him, gave him his salary, his weapons? Who kept him under their protection?”

The official also expressed doubts that Kandahari could have left the base on his own, since “He was such a criminal that he could not stay one hour outside the base by himself.”

US Military officials reported that they conducted thorough investigations into the disappearances and murders “of at least 15 people” in Wardak Province, none of which revealed evidence that American soldiers were involved in such crimes. However, the results of these investigations have not been made public.

The treatment of Afghans by US troops and their collaborators has been a perpetual stumbling block for US-Afghan relations; the ‘steal and kill’ case of Kandahari could well be the final straw in the 11-plus years of the Afghan War.

‘Afghan govt can’t be trusted, pursuing own interest in any situation’

The governments in both Washington and Kabul should be answerable to the Afghan people over the alleged torture, believes Daoud Sultanzoy, political analyst and former Afghan MP. He described the incident involving the mutilated body of a man as “gruesome.”

However, “the history behind this that goes as far as back to 2002 or even late 2001,” he told RT. At that time, the “then Interior Minister of the Afghan interim government was keeping a private prison run by a former special forces guy, working as a freelancer for the minister.”

There is more than one side to all these stories and they have to be investigated,” believes Sultanzoy.

Human rights organizations are staying pretty quiet on all this, which is “very suspicious.”

The Afghan government though is taking advantage of the situation, pursuing their own interests, the analyst stated. Therefore, their position on the issue “cannot be trusted,” he believes.

We have to rely on independent sources. The Afghan justice system has to be so reliable that they can do an investigation independent from any political influence and the influence of the military as well,” Sultanzoy pointed out.

The US military has to show it is transparent at least in cases of human rights abuses,” the expert added. They will eventually have to act and provide answers to questions regarding the allegations of torture, he concluded.

May 22, 2013 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , , | Comments Off on Body of tortured Afghan unearthed near former US Special Forces base – report

Iran Khodro to launch car assembly line in Iraq

Mehr News Agency | May 22, 2013

TEHRAN – Iranian car maker Iran Khodro will establish an assembly line with the capacity of 30,000 units per year in the Iraqi city of Iskandariya by the next month.
Preliminary agreements were made three years ago, IRNA quoted Iran Khodro deputy director for exports Abdol’azim Sa’dian as saying.

Iran Khodro has been exporting its products to Iraq for about a decade, he said.

Iran plans to manufacture at least three million cars by 2025 and export some one million sets, Iranian Industry, Mines and Trade Minister Mehdi Ghazanfari has said.

Iranian car manufacturers produced 1.648 million cars in 2011, ranking the country 13th in the world, according to a report by the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers.

Meanwhile, Iran imported over 44,000 cars, worth more than $1 billion, during the past Iranian calendar year, which ended on March 20.

The United Arab Emirates, South Korea, and Kuwait were the main sources of exporting cars to Iran.

May 22, 2013 Posted by | Economics | , , | Comments Off on Iran Khodro to launch car assembly line in Iraq

Israel renews administrative detention of 11 Palestinians

MEMO | May 21, 2013

Al-Tadamun human rights organisation said on Tuesday that the Israeli occupation has renewed the administrative detention of 11 Palestinians, including a former hunger striker and two Palestinian lawmakers.

The administrative detention order against Samer al-Barq, 39, from Jayous village in Qalqilya was renewed for six months. Al-Barq went on a hunger strike in April 2012 for 120 days. On November 23, 2012, he ended his hunger strike after he was promised he would be released and deported to Egypt.

With the renewal of the order against al-Barq’s, Al-Tadamun advocate, Osama Maqboul, accused the Israeli occupation of breaching pledges of release and deportation. Others whose administrative detention orders have been renewed include members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Mahmoud al-Ramahi and Basim al-Za’areer. Both were detained at November, 2012.

The Israeli occupation renewed the administrative detention of another eight Palestinians from various cities and villages across the occupied West Bank. Many Palestinian prisoners have recently gone on hunger strike in protest against administrative detention which is a military detention order issued on no apparent basis.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian prisoner from Gaza, Ashraf al-Sabbah, announced the beginning of his hunger strike in protest at the poor health conditions he must endure as a result of the Israeli prison services’ refusal to give him proper medication.

May 22, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | Comments Off on Israel renews administrative detention of 11 Palestinians