Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Top Venezuelan Legislator Calls for Investigation of NGOs funded by USAID

cabello390849138.jpg_1718483346

Diosdado Cabello speaks at a press conference in this archive photo. (Photo: AVN )
teleSUR | October 17, 2014

The president of the Venezuelan National Assembly Diosdado Cabello called Friday on intelligence agencies to investigate Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in the country that are funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Cabello’s call comes on the heels of the arrival of a representative of the U.S. government in Venezuela to meet with representatives of NGOs at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas.

According to their website, USAID’s mission is “furthering America’s interests, while improving lives in the developing world.”

In practice, much of the work of USAID has been to support the activities of groups that are opposed to democratically elected governments. Cabello pointed to an NGO that has links to “Operation Liberty”, the group lead by Lorent Saleh, who is currently in custody on accusations of intent to commit terrorist acts in Venezuela.

Cabello has previously warned of the attempts by the U.S. and its allies to interfere in the internal affairs of Venezuela, saying, “This is one way for imperialism to finance conspiracy [against the government].”

Bolivia expelled USAID and its representatives from that country in 2013 due to their support of opposition groups opposed to the government of Evo Morales.

October 18, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , | Leave a comment

A Deafening Silence

Objectivity?

By Andrew Smolski | CounterPunch | October 17, 2014

Where is the American corporate media at on the disappearance of 43 normalistas from a rural teachers college in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico? Where is the wall to wall coverage? Where are the calls for Enrique Peña Nieto to resign? Or, at least, where are the calls for Aguirre’s resignation, the governor of Guerrero? Where are the pundits oversimplifying and labeling the Mexican government whatever they want, regardless if it has a basis in fact? The corporate media is eerily silent.

Let us contrast this silence with their coverage of Venezuela not so many months ago. 43 people from all sides of the conflict were killed over a couple of months of violent conflict between the opposition, chavismo supporters and state security forces. The coverage was almost 24/7. The pundits were labeling Maduro a dictator and calling for his head. The coverage was oversimplified and made to push the US government’s position that chavismo must go, without any mention of Maduro or the PSUV being elected, or that this should be decided by referendum and not just by protest.

The difference in coverage of the two cases represents a clear example of imperial priorities in the corporate media. The Mexican students are “unworthy victims” for the US corporate media. The students do not fit neatly into a narrative that supports imperialist ambitions. Actually, because the rural teachers college is a “leftist” school, the students are probably considered deviant by much of the US corporate media, and therefore “legitimate” targets of the Mexican state. So, the coverage, as it was of El Salvadorian Archbishop Oscar Romero’s death in the 1980s, is minimal and passive.

Whereas, in contrast, Venezuela became the cause célèbre of every major media outlet, even though there was no execution/kidnapping of civilians by the state in collusion with vicious drug cartels, but instead a drawn-out conflict begun by a very hostile opposition that is part of a decade long campaign to oust the PSUV from power that already had the 2002 coup attempt under its belt.

For the US corporate media the Venezuelan opposition are “worthy victims” whose narrative fits neatly into the framework of US imperial ambitions as it attempts to make Latin America its backyard once more. They are also “worthy” because they are mostly whiter, more middle and upper class and vacation in Miami. This is unlike the normalistas, who are predominantly indigenous campesinos, a group who only gets paternalistic coverage, if any.

So, let us weigh these two cases.

The case in Mexico is blatantly a state crime against its citizens, with local and state authorities having connections to drug cartels and the police and military implicated. It was carried out against peaceful students who had no weapons, although they did commandeer a bus, which is nothing new for them and has never led to physical harm. One of the students was left in the street with a flayed face and eyes gouged out. So far, the Mexican government has said the kidnapped/murdered students harm foreign investment and gave their “sincerest” condolences.

The case in Venezuela was a conflict between competing political groups representing different class and ethnic/racial interests in which people from all sides died over the course of the conflict and all most likely committed crimes. Those protests continued over a couple of months, even though the Venezuelan government was considered to be absolutely authoritarian in handling the protests by the US corporate media. So far, the Venezuelan government had an open dialogue with all opposition members who wanted to talk with them and made policy concessions.

The former is a much more grievous crime than the latter. Also, the government reaction in the former is callous, compared to the reconciliation proffered by the Venezuelan government. Yet the former receives scant, if any, attention, while the latter was unavoidable during its peak. Only so many conclusions can be drawn from this.

So, please, tell me again how objective the media is. Or maybe at another award celebration the pundits from the US corporate media can tell us how principled they are.

Side note:

This is not new; acrobatics are normally done in order to make Enrique Peña Nieto seem as if he is trying to stop the bloodshed. This is scandalous seeing as EPN is implicated in the violent police repression in San Salvador Atenco, Mexico State, Mexico that happened while Peña Nieto was Governor. That repression led to two deaths and 207 incidences of cruel treatment, including 26 cases of sexual assault against women. The Nation Human Rights Commission said that preference was given to force by the government, instead of diplomacy, leading to the human rights violations. The New York Times dedicated one paragraph to the heinous act which doesn’t mention Enrique Peña Nieto even once.

October 18, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Nigeria Announces Truce With Boko Haram

teleSUR | October 17, 2014

The Nigerian military announced on Friday that it reached a ceasefire agreement with the Islamist militant movement, Boko Haram, and that the Nigerian schoolgirls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram will be returned to their families.

Air Chief Marshal Badeh first spoke about the truce after a three day meeting between Nigeria and Cameroon. The BBC is reporting that the negotiations were mediated by Chad.

An official with Nigeria’s security forces told Reuters “Commitment among parts of Boko Haram and the military does appear to be genuine … It is worth taking seriously.”

Boko Haram has not made any statement about a truce.

The school girls were abducted from Chibok, a town in the northeastern state of Borno state, six months ago. Through the efforts of Nigerian women activists, the kidnapping of the girls became an international cause and brought Boko Haram onto the world stage. The Nigerian government has been strongly criticized by local as well as international human rights groups for its “lackluster” efforts to retrieve the girls. The release of the girls will be finalized next week in Ndjamena, Chad’s capital.

The Nigerian government spokesperson said that Boko Haram will not be given any land, but that the national government will not say what compromises it has made toward the militant group.

Boko Haram was founded in 2002 and has been fighting with the Nigerians military since 2009. More than 2,000 civilians have been killed this year in this conflict.

October 18, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Israel creates mock Jewish graves south of Aqsa Mosque

Palestine Information Center – 18/10/2014

DataFiles-Cache-TempImgs-2014-2-images_News_2014_10_18_graves-0_300_0OCCUPIED JERUSALEM – The land research center said that the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) established fake graves in Silwan district, south of the Aqsa Mosque, as part of feverish steps to Judaize the Arab history and identity of the holy city.

In a report released on Friday, the center stated that Zionist settler groups in cooperation with the nature and parks authority planted tombs built of stone on a tract of Palestinian land located between Silwan district and the Umayyad Palaces area, south of the Aqsa Mosque.

It noted that the tombs, engraved with the Star of David, were made look like age-old ones and presented to tourists as Jewish graves built before 1948.

“Such step confirms once again that the occupation state is seeking on purpose to fake the history of Jerusalem in violation of the international norms and laws that demand it not to make changes to any land under its occupation,” the center underlined.

The center also warned that creating fake graves enables Israel to seize more areas in east Jerusalem.

October 18, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , | Leave a comment

History of Key Document in IAEA Probe Suggests Israeli Forgery

By Gareth Porter | IPS | October 18, 2014

Western diplomats have reportedly faulted Iran in recent weeks for failing to provide the International Atomic Energy Agency with information on experiments on high explosives intended to produce a nuclear weapon, according to an intelligence document the IAEA is investigating.

But the document not only remains unverified but can only be linked to Iran by a far-fetched official account marked by a series of coincidences related to a foreign scientist that that are highly suspicious.

The original appearance of the document in early 2008, moreover, was not only conveniently timed to support Israel’s attack on a U.S. National Intelligence Estimate on Iran in December that was damaging to Israeli interests, but was leaked to the news media with a message that coincided with the current Israeli argument.

The IAEA has long touted the document, which came from an unidentified member state, as key evidence justifying suspicion that Iran has covered up past nuclear weapons work.

In its September 2008 report the IAEA said the document describes “experimentation in connection with symmetrical initiation of a hemispherical high explosive charge suitable for an implosion type nuclear device.”

But an official Iranian communication to the IAEA Secretariat challenged its authenticity, declaring, “There is no evidence or indication in this document regarding its linkage to Iran or its preparation by Iran.”

The IAEA has never responded to the Iranian communication.

The story of the high explosives document and related intelligence published in the November 2011 IAEA report raises more questions about the document than it answers.

The report said the document describes the experiments as being monitored with “large numbers of optical fiber cables” and cited intelligence that the experiments had been assisted by a foreign expert said to have worked in his home country’s nuclear weapons programme.

The individual to whom the report referred, Ukrainian scientist Vyacheslav Danilenko, was not a nuclear weapons expert, however, but a specialist on nanodiamond synthesis. Danilenko had lectured on that subject in Iran from 2000 to 2005 and had co-authored a professional paper on the use of fiber optic cables to monitor explosive shock waves in 1992, which was available online.

Those facts presented the opportunity for a foreign intelligence service to create a report on high explosives experiments that would suggest a link to nuclear weapons as well as to Danilenko.  Danilenko’s open-source publication could help convince the IAEA Safeguards Department of the authenticity of the document, which would otherwise have been missing.

Even more suspicious, soon after the appearance of the high explosives document, the same state that had turned it over to the IAEA claimed to have intelligence on a large cylinder at Parchin suitable for carrying out the high explosives experiments described in the document, according to the 2011 IAEA report.

And it identified Danilenko as the designer of the cylinder, again basing the claim on an open-source publication that included a sketch of a cylinder he had designed in 1999-2000.

The whole story thus depended on two very convenient intelligence finds within a very short time, both of which were linked to a single individual and his open source publications.

Furthermore, the cylinder Danilenko sketched and discussed in the publication was explicitly designed for nanodiamonds production, not for bomb-making experiments.

Robert Kelley, who was the chief of IAEA teams in Iraq, has observed that the IAEA account of the installation of the cylinder at a site in Parchin by March 2000 is implausible, since Danilenko was on record as saying he was still in the process of designing it in 2000.

And Kelley, an expert on nuclear weapons, has pointed out that the cylinder would have been unnecessary for “multipoint initiation” experiments. “We’ve been taken for a ride on this whole thing,” Kelley told IPS.

The document surfaced in early 2008, under circumstances pointing to an Israeli role. An article in the May 2008 issue of Jane’s International Defence Review, dated March 14, 2008, referred to, “[d]ocuments shown exclusively to Jane’s” by a “source connected to a Western intelligence service”.

It said the documents showed that Iran had “actively pursued the development of a nuclear weapon system based on relatively advanced multipoint initiation (MPI) nuclear implosion detonation technology for some years….”

The article revealed the political agenda behind the leaking of the high explosives document. “The picture the papers paints,” he wrote, “starkly contradicts the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) released in December 2007, which said Tehran had frozen its military nuclear programme in 2003.”

That was the argument that Israeli officials and supporters in the United States had been making in the wake of the National Intelligence Estimate, which Israel was eager to discredit.

The IAEA first mentioned the high explosives document in an annex to its May 2008 report, shortly after the document had been leaked to Janes.

David Albright, the director of the Institute for Science and International Security, who enjoyed a close relationship with the IAEA Deputy Director Olli Heinonen, revealed in an interview with this writer in September 2008 that Heinonen had told him one document that he had obtained earlier that year had confirmed his trust in the earlier collection of intelligence documents. Albright said that document had “probably” come from Israel.

Former IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei was very sceptical about all the purported Iranian documents shared with the IAEA by the United States. Referring to those documents, he writes in his 2011 memoirs, “No one knew if any of this was real.”

ElBaradei recalls that the IAEA received still more purported Iranian documents directly from Israel in summer 2009. The new documents included a two-page document in Farsi describing a four-year programme to produce a neutron initiator for a fission chain reaction.

Kelley has said that ElBaradei found the document lacking credibility, because it had no chain of custody, no identifiable source, and no official markings or anything else that could establish its authenticity—the same objections Iran has raised about the high explosives document.

Meanwhile, ElBaradei resisted pressure from the United States and its European allies in 2009 to publish a report on that and other documents – including the high explosive document — as an annex to an IAEA report. ElBaradei’s successor as director general, Yukia Amano, published the annex the anti-Iran coalition had wanted earlier in the November 2011 report.

Amano later told colleagues at the agency that he had no choice, because he promised the United States to do so as part of the agreement by Washington to support his bid for the job within the Board of Governors, according to a former IAEA official who asked not to be identified.

October 18, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

PBS and NPR appear to have collaborated on their responses to the David Brooks controversy

By Alison Weir | October 17, 2014

PBS NewsHour Executive Producer Sara Just and NPR Standards Editor Mark Memmott seem to have come up with almost identical statements about commentator David Brooks’ conflict of interest. (Brooks, who works for the New York Times, NPR and PBS, had kept hidden the fact that his son was serving in the Israeli military while Brooks was commenting on Israel.)

Either Sara Just and Mark Memmott have been gifted with telepathy, or they – and/or their bosses – collaborated on their statements.

UPDATE, 11am Pacific time: Mark Memmott has just emailed me: “I’ve had no contact with PBS. I’ve actually never met Sara Just, as far as I remember, and have not had any email correspondence with her. I have to think that they agreed with what I wrote and decided to (mostly) reissue it.”

I find it disconcerting that PBS’s Sara Just didn’t attribute her statement to NPR’s Memmott; this seems dangerously close to plagiarism. I wonder how she learned of his statement? I’m also curious about why she removed a small but significant portion of what he had written. Please read on:

Here are the facts:

PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler reports that on Oct. 15th NewsHour Executive Producer Sara Just issued the following statement:

“David Brooks is primarily an opinion columnist for The New York Times. He appears on the PBS NewsHour to offer his opinions, not as a reporter. His son’s service with the Israeli Defense Forces is not a secret. We agree with the New York Times’ editorial page editor, Andrew Rosenthal, that Mr. Brooks’ long-standing views about Israel are informed by many factors. We also agree with the Times’ public editor, Margaret Sullivan, that Mr. Brooks should not be barred from commenting about Israel. She has recommended that he address the issue of his son’s service in the IDF in a future column. That seems reasonable to us as well. If a situation arises in which Mr. Brooks will be appearing on the NewsHour and discussing Israel and its military, we will consider how we might disclose his son’s service to the audience at that time.”

Five days before, in response to my questions about David Brooks, I had received an email from the NPR ombudsman’s office containing a statement that they said was from NPR’s standards and practices editor:

David Brooks is primarily an opinion columnist for The New York Times. He appears on All Things Considered to offer his opinions, not as a reporter. His son’s service with the Israeli Defense Forces is no secret. We agree with the Times’ editorial page editor, Andrew Rosenthal, that Mr. Brooks’ long-standing views about Israel have been “formed by all kinds of things … [and] are not going to change whether or not his son is serving in the IDF, beyond his natural concerns as a father for his son’s safety and well-being.” We also agree with the Times’ public editor, Margaret Sullivan, that Mr. Brooks should not be barred from commenting about Israel. She has recommended that he address the issue of his son’s service in the IDF in a future column. That strikes us as a reasonable suggestion. If a situation arises and we feel he should also mention it on our air, we still [sic] discuss that with Mr. Brooks at that time. [Ellipsis was in the original statement emailed to me.]

(You can see the statements side by side below.)

I published this email and a rebuttal to the statement on my blog that same day, Friday, Oct 10th. The following Wednesday, Oct. 15th, I was able to reach NPR’s standards editor, Mark Memmott, who confirmed that he had written the statement. I then raised some of the flaws I saw with it (the same ones I discussed in my post).

Memmott was particularly interested when I pointed out that the statement acknowledging Mr. Brooks’ “natural concerns as a father for his son’s safety and well-being” indicated why Mr. Brooks should recuse himself, since his commentaries have the power to influence the public in ways that would impact his son either positively or negatively.

During the phone call it came out that Memmott had not known before I called him that his statement had been sent to me. After we hung up it occurred to me that Memmott was also probably unaware that I had published it. I told him I was working on a blog post and would send it to him. I was then involved in other projects over the following days and was only able to finish my new post tonight. This contains additional info on NPR’s ethics guidelines.

After I completed it, I then looked to see if PBS’s ombudsman Michael Getler (whom I had spoken with by phone last week) had yet written anything about Brooks. I discovered his column, and was startled to see Sara Just’s statement, parts of it word for word the same as Memmott’s. The only significant difference was that the reference to Brooks’ “natural concerns as a father” section was omitted.

I now plan to contact Memmott and Just, and ask about the source of their telepathy.

While PBS and NPR are both under the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the public perception is that they are largely independent entities with separate editorial control and decision-making. It appears that’s not the case.

Below are the two statements:

* * *

Following is information about Just and NewsHour from a press release on the PBS website:

In addition to being executive producer, Just is also Senior Vice President of NewsHour Productions LLC. She reports to Rick Schneider, President of NewsHour Productions LLC and Chief Operating Officer of WETA.

The press release states:

“In July 2014, WETA assumed management and control for PBS NewsHour, with the formation of NewsHour Productions LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of WETA. This transition followed the retirements of the program’s original founders, managing editors and co-anchors, Jim Lehrer and Robert MacNeil, who established the commitment to excellence in journalism that guides PBS NewsHour to this day.”

Update on Friday, October 17, 2014 at 08:49AM by Alison Weir

A few years ago PBS ombudsman Michael Getler wrote a column in which he emphasized:

“My interest in mentioning this is simply to remind the vast majority of those who wrote to me or called is to explain that PBS is not NPR…. and that both organizations, while part of public broadcasting in this country, are separate organizations and separate public media entities.”

So is it appropriate for the two supposedly separate media organizations to collaborate on how to respond to ethics complaints, especially without informing the public that they are doing so?

Update on Friday, October 17, 2014 at 10:07AM by Alison Weir

It’s interesting to see that Memmott was one of the authors of NPR’s newest code of ethics.

It’s even more interesting to see that when the handbook came out, NPR’s vice president for news stated: …commentators are expected to follow NPR’s ethical principles when doing work on behalf of NPR.”

She also said that commentators would receive copies of the handbook.

NPR, according to a 2012 press release, “reaches 27 million listeners each week.”

October 18, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment