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JOY OH JOY, HILLARY IS RUNNING

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By John Chuckman | Aletho News | April 13, 2015

Yes, there is still bias “out there,” as some have written, about an American woman running for President, but I do not believe the bias is decisive: after all, America has broken what surely was its fiercest taboo with the election of a black man, twice. There is, however, another bias “out there,” and a decisive one: a bias against the Clintons, a ghastly pair in almost every respect, America’s contemporary version of the Borgias – both of them grasping, vicious, ruthless, two-faced, and lacking only the Borgias’ good taste in art and literature.

Among the distinguished achievements of Hillary’s husband are the bombing of Serbia’s capital, including the offices of journalists, and the bombing of a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan claimed to be a chemical weapons plant. President Clinton bragged of “ending welfare in our time,” quite the claim for a self-styled liberal. It was his blundering, belligerent FBI and ATF that committed the atrocities at Waco. He embarrassed everyone with his grotesque personal behavior, and he pardoned some ghastly criminals in return for huge contributions to his “foundation.” He is good friends with people like Jeffrey Epstein, a registered sex offender who solicited and kept underage girls to “service” guests on his private island or on the “Lolita Express,” nick-name for his private jet – both jet and island having Clinton recorded as a guest.

Bill Clinton failed every major undertaking of worth, including healthcare reform, Hillary playing a large role in that failure. Sometimes forgotten, he also frequently played the public coward, not standing behind appointments he made when they were attacked viciously in the Senate, allowing honorable people to be pilloried, then finally withdrawing their nominations. Perhaps his greatest act of cowardice involved the genocidal horrors of Rwanda. He was aware of them quite early, but his government was instructed not to use inflammatory language in public, and he made virtually no effort to save a million lives.

His contemptible behavior should, in theory, have nothing to do with Hillary, but in fact it very much does. They were the ones going around talking up the idea of getting “two for one” during his term of office. She still treats him as a confidant and advisor, having been photographed a number of times engaged in serious tête-à-têtes, and he has had several sessions with Obama, and big money sources, concerning Hillary’s ambitions.

Both Clintons have long records of chasing, indeed grovelling in much the same fashion as the smarmy Tony Blair, after big money – money for the foundation, money for elections, she having set an unenviable record for cancerous spending when running for the Senate in New York, and they have both been involved in at least as many questionable deals on the side as several former Israeli Prime Ministers combined.

I wish a woman could run for President, but must the candidate be someone who resembles Richard Nixon in drag and shares views the late ogre, J. Edgar Hoover? Everyone who doubts what a colossally unpleasant character Hillary has in private should read the memoirs of former secret service agents. Her behavior was appalling, tasking agents with things like holding her purse in public, and shouting a stream of “f–k off” invective at them if they declined.

She has always voted for war in the Senate, including the horrible war crime of invading Iraq. She goes around making speeches – at $300,000 a pop plus a whole printed list of demanded perquisites – about America’s need for a strong defense. Strong defense? America? How does one manage to spend more than America already spends on death and destruction? Park a nuclear-loaded B-52 at every civilian airport? Supply every Boy Scout troop with heavy machine guns and plenty of ammo? The woman borders on deranged here.

She has lied countless times in office and while running for office. The bloody mess at Benghazi was her baby, and she has done nothing but lie about its embarrassing and deadly failure. The last time she ran for President, in order to bolster her image for toughness, she bragged of coming under gunfire when she landed on a visit to Bosnia as First Lady, but a news video promptly appeared which showed nothing but a sweet little girl presenting flowers to her at the airport. Of course, she had to lie again when the video turned up, saying she hadn’t remembered events clearly, but no one ever forgets coming under gun fire. It is not possible unless your faculties are in such a jumbled state you should be disqualified from office.

Of course, in the end, Hillary’s mass of deceptions and terrible associations and rotten personality really do not matter because America’s real government, its ongoing unelected one, allows no President to depart much from the established script. The last one who made a serious try had half his head blasted into the streets of Dallas.

Anticipation and excitement about the first woman candidate reminds me of America’s electing and celebrating its first black – a seemingly charming and intelligent man at the time – and he has proved just another George Bush, giving ordinary Americans nothing, and especially his own people. He weekly approves extrajudicial killings in a half dozen places, behavior completely in keeping with former South American juntas who made thousands of people just disappear, and he happily does business with tyrants and absolute monarchs and madmen like Netanyahu. Hillary would do precisely the same.

In the end, the person America elects as President makes no appreciable difference to what America does in the world or how its wealthy rulers treat their own people, a presidential election being little more than the most costly theater performance in the world, “a tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, / Signifying nothing.”

April 13, 2015 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , | 3 Comments

Saudi Arabia’s Other War

By Eric Draitser | CounterPunch | April 13, 2015

The Saudi war on Yemen has understandably come to dominate the headlines since it began in late March 2015. The international scope of the conflict – nominally including the participation of nearly a dozen Gulf countries – coupled with the obvious political and geopolitical implications, all but assured that nearly all mention of Saudi Arabia in the news would be in the context of this war. However, there is another war being waged by Saudi Arabia, this one entirely within its own borders.

While Riyadh viciously, and illegally, bombs the people of Yemen, it also continues to wage a brutal war of repression against its own Shia population. A significant minority inside Saudi Arabia, the Shia community has been repeatedly victimized by the heavy-handed, often murderous, tactics of Saudi security forces in a desperate attempt by the House of Saud to maintain its iron grip on power. Rather than being challenged to democratize and respect the rights of a minority, the Saudi government has chosen violence, intimidation, and imprisonment to silence the growing chorus of opposition.

Were it only the Shia minority being targeted however, this overt repression might be crudely caricatured as sectarian conflict within the context of “Iranian influence” on Saudi domestic politics; Iran being the bogeyman trotted out by Riyadh to justify nearly all of its criminal and immoral actions, from financing terror groups waging war on Syria to the bombardment of the people of Yemen. However, the Saudi government is also targeting bloggers, journalists, and activists who, despite their small numbers in the oppressive kingdom, have become prominent defenders of human rights, symbolizing an attempt, fruitless though it may be, to democratize and bring some semblance of social justice to the entirely undemocratic monarchy.

At War Against Its Own People

It is a well understood fact, almost universally recognized, that Saudi Arabia is one of the principal instigators of sectarianism throughout the Muslim world. Using a “divide and conquer” strategy that has worked with insidious perfection in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere, Saudi Arabia has managed to flex its geopolitical muscles and project its power without much threat to its own internal stability. However, there is increasingly a Shia movement within Saudi Arabia – we should not call it “sectarian” as it is about equality under the law – demanding its rights and legal protections that are undeniably incompatible with the absolutist, monarchical system that Saudi Arabia has erected.

Recent days have seen violent raids and clashes between Saudi security forces and residents throughout the overwhelmingly Shia Qatif province of Eastern Saudi Arabia, the most violent of which having taken place in the town of Awamiyah. In response to protests against Riyadh’s war on Yemen, the regime’s security forces unleashed a brutal crackdown that perhaps most accurately could be called violent suppression. As one activist and resident of Awamiyah told the Middle East Eye, “From 4pm until 9pm the gunfire didn’t stop… Security forces shot randomly at people’s homes, and closed all but one of the roads leading in and out of the village… It is like a war here – we are under siege.” A number of videos uploaded to YouTube seem to confirm the accounts of activists, though all eyewitness accounts remain anonymous for fear of government retribution.

Such actions as those described by activists in Awamiyah, and throughout Qatif, are nothing new. Over the last few years, the province has repeatedly seen upsurges of protests against the draconian policies of the government in Riyadh. Beginning in 2011, in concert with protests in Bahrain, Qatif became a hotbed of activism with increasingly significant demonstrations shaking the social foundations of the region, and rattling nerves in Riyadh which, with some justification, interpreted the growing democracy movement as a threat to its totalitarian control over the country. Responding to the “threat,” the Saudi government repeatedly unleashed its security forces to violently suppress the demonstrations, resulting in a number of deaths; the total remains unknown to this day as Saudi Arabia tightly controls the flow of such sensitive information.

Of course, these actions by the Saudi regime cannot be seen in a vacuum. Rather, they must be understood within the larger context of the events of the 2011 uprising, and ongoing resistance movement, in neighboring Bahrain. Long a vassal state of Saudi Arabia, the majority Shia Bahrain has been ruled by the al-Khalifa family, a Sunni dynasty that for years has lorded over the country in the interests of their patrons and protectors in Saudi Arabia. When in 2011, much of the country erupted in protests against the totalitarian Khalifa regime, it was Saudi Arabia which militarily intervened on behalf of their proxies.

Despite being the leading edge of what would come to be known as the “Arab Spring,” the uprising in Bahrain was largely forgotten amid the far more catastrophic events in Libya and Syria. Naturally, it should be noted that Saudi Arabia played a central in sponsoring both of those conflicts, as protests were transmogrified into terrorist wars backed by Saudi money and jihadi networks. In the midst of the regional instability, Saudi intervention in Bahrain became, conveniently enough for Riyadh, “lost in the shuffle.” So, while the world hemmed and hawed about “dictators” in Libya and Syria, and marshaled political, diplomatic, and military forces to bring regime change to both, the dictatorship in Saudi Arabia continued to prop up its proxies in Bahrain, while suppressing the uprisings at home.

But while many would claim that Saudi actions are dictated not by authoritarianism but a continuing geopolitical struggle with Shia Iran, such arguments seem frivolous when considering the repression of freedom of speech within Saudi Arabia.

It is not sectarianism and “Iranian meddling” that has caused the Saudi regime to convict Raif Badawi, a liberal blogger and independent journalist, for the crime of “insulting Islam” for daring to question the draconian laws enforced by the reactionary monarchy and its police state apparatus. Not only was Badawi sentenced to ten years in prison and 1000 lashes, he was also originally tried on the absurd charge of “apostasy” which could have carried a death sentence. Indeed, though these charges were thrown out, reports have emerged in recent months that the apostasy charge may be brought back in a second trial; the punishment for a conviction would be beheading. So, physical abuse, long-term imprisonment, and a possible death sentence for a blogger who had the temerity to voice his opinion about political and social issues. And this country has the gall to intervene in Yemen on behalf of “democracy”?

Speaking of death sentences handed down by Saudi authorities for publicly airing one’s beliefs, the case of Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr also highlights the deeply unjust policies of the regime. A vocal supporter of the Qatif protests, Nimr was convicted of the crime of “disobeying” the Saudi government by seeking “foreign meddling” in the country. An obvious reference to the ever-present bogeyman of Iran, the spurious charges have been widely interpreted as an attempt to silence a major critic of the regime, one who has the support of the significant Shia minority. Saudi courts have sentenced Nimr to death for the “crime” of supporting the protests seeking democratization and a respect for minority rights. That decision was appealed, and last month a Saudi court upheld the death sentence.

While the House of Saud might peddle its propaganda of Iranian meddling with regard to Sheikh Nimr with some success, what of Badawi? Is he also an “agent” working on behalf of Iran? What of the estimated 12,000-30,000 political prisoners held in Saudi jails under very dubious pretexts?

Rights? What Rights?

The Saudi regime attempts to frame all of its blatant human rights abuses in the context of legitimate law enforcement. But this is a poorly conceived illusion, and cruel insult to the very concept of human rights. While the Saudis attempt to lecture countries like Syria about “human rights” and treatment of the people, Saudi Arabia remains perhaps the world leader in systematic and institutional oppression of its own citizens.

The infamous repression of women in Saudi Arabia has earned the country international scorn, but the regime scoffs at such conclusions. As the Washington Post wrote in 2013:

Saudi Arabia’s restrictions on women go far, far beyond just driving, though. It’s part of a larger system of customs and laws that make women heavily reliant on men for their basic, day-to-day survival… each Saudi woman has a “male guardian,” typically their father or brother or husband, who has the same sort of legal power over her that a parent has over a child. She needs his formal permission to travel, work, go to school or get medical treatment. She’s also dependent on him for everything: money, housing, and, because the driving ban means she needs a driver to go anywhere, even the ability to go to the store or visit a friend… The restrictions go beyond the law: women are often taught from an early age to approach the world outside their male guardian’s home with fear and shame… [they are] warned against the “dangers that threaten the Muslim woman,” such as listening to music, going to a mixed-gender mall or answering the telephone.

It takes an unfathomable degree of hypocrisy to oppress women in this way, and then lecture Syria – a secular socialist country where women’s rights and freedoms are guaranteed, and where women have every educational and professional opportunity they might have in the West – about its treatment of its citizens. It is staggering the gall required of an unelected feudal monarchy to chastise the Yemeni rebels, and make a case for “legitimacy” in government.

Naturally, Saudi Arabia gets away with such egregious hypocrisy not because it isn’t obvious to the world, it most certainly is. Instead, the House of Saud is able to carry on its repression because of its powerful patron in Washington. Because the regime has for decades furthered the geopolitical agenda of the United States, it has managed to continue its brutal repression facing only minimal outcry. Though there is scrutiny from international human rights organizations, the government is not sanctioned; it is not isolated by the much touted “international community.” Instead it continues on with its oppressive policies and aggression against its neighbors.

Saudi bombs are falling on Yemen as you read this. Saudi-sponsored ISIS terrorists are waging war on Syria and Iraq as you read this. Saudi-sponsored terror groups all over the Middle East and Africa continue to destabilize whole corners of the globe. Activists in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia itself are being brutally oppressed by the Saudi regime and its proxies.

And yet, the House of Saud remains a US ally, while Assad or the Houthis or Iran or Hezbollah (take your pick) are the great villain? It is plainly obvious that right and wrong, good and evil, are mere designations of political expediency for Saudi Arabia and, taken more broadly, the US and the imperial system it leads.

Eric Draitser can be reached at ericdraitser@gmail.com.

April 13, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , | 2 Comments

Dozens of arrests as anti-nuclear protesters demand end to UK’s Trident sub program

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Anti-nuclear demonstrators at Faslane naval base, April 13 2015. (Photo by Veronika Tudhope)
RT | April 13, 2015

Some 36 anti-nuclear activists have been arrested at Faslane naval base in Scotland, according to organizers, as hundreds of protesters blockaded the home of Britain’s nuclear weapons system.

Workers at the naval facility were sent home after failing to gain access to the site due to the blockade, according to The Common Space journalist Liam O’Hare.

Scrap Trident, a coalition of organizations including the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (SCND) and Trident Ploughshares, have been demonstrating outside the facility since 7 a.m.

Protesters are demanding an end to the UK’s intercontinental ballistic missile program, which is up for renewal by the Westminster parliament in 2016.

Trident has become a contentious issue ahead of the general election in May, with Defense Secretary Michael Fallon pledging last week that a Conservative-led government would replace the Vanguard-class nuclear submarines with four new nuclear missile carriers.

Fallon’s election promise followed a statement by Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Nicola Sturgeon, in which she said Trident was a “red line” issue the SNP would not support.

In the event of a hung Parliament, Labour may seek to form a minority government in an informal coalition with SNP.

Critics, including Fallon of the Conservative Party, argue that Labour would abandon the UK’s nuclear weapons program to secure power.

Shadow Defense Secretary Vernon Coaker rejected the idea, insisting last week Labour was committed to renewing Britain’s nuclear weapons program, which is set to cost taxpayers £100 billion over the course of its deployment.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said in January he supported renewing Trident, adding he is “not in favor of unilateral disarmament.”

Monday’s blockade of Faslane naval base follows anti-Trident demonstrations in Glasgow and London over the weekend.

Scrap Trident organizers claim that 36 anti-nuclear activists were arrested in the blockade.

O’Hare, of The Common Space, reports that police have attempted to move anti-nuclear activists camped outside the naval facility’s south gate, while the majority of demonstrators are protesting outside the north gate.

Arthur West, chair of Scottish CND, said in a statement: “The purpose of the event is to draw attention to the fact that all Britain’s nuclear weapons are based just 25 miles away from our biggest city [Glasgow].”

“We say get rid of nuclear weapons and spend the money on decent things like housing, jobs and education.”

Speaking to RT, West added: “Scottish CND are campaigning in cities and towns across Scotland in the run-up to the general election.”

“Our main message to voters at the election is to only support candidates who have given a clear commitment that they will vote against Trident replacement when the issue comes up in the next parliament.”

Patrick Harvie, co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party, was among the demonstrators at Faslane on Monday.

Harvie, a member of the Scottish parliament, said in a statement: “Trident is an obscenity. Through direct action and through the ballot box we can make the case for the UK to play a new role on the world stage.”

He added: “By choosing to disarm Trident we can reskill workers on the Clyde to provide defense of the strategically important northern seas, and diversify our economy for social good.”

April 13, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Putin lifts ban on delivery of S-300 missile systems to Iran

RT | April 13, 2015

The Russian president has repealed the ban prohibiting the delivery of S-300 missile air defense systems to Iran, according to the Kremlin’s press service. The ban was introduced by former President Dmitry Medvedev in 2010.

“[The presidential] decree lifts the ban on transit through Russian territory, including airlift, and the export from the Russian Federation to the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also the transfer to the Islamic Republic of Iran outside the territory of the Russian Federation, both by sea and by air, of air defense missile systems S-300,” says the information note accompanying the document, RIA Novosti reported.

The decree enters into force upon the president’s signature.

The contract for supplying S-300 missile systems to Iran was signed in 2007 and implied the delivery of five S-300 squadrons worth $800 million. But in 2010 the contract was put on hold due to the UN imposing sanctions on Iran.

Tehran answered with filing a nearly $4 billion lawsuit against Russia’s Rosoboronexport arms dealer company to a Geneva arbitration tribunal.

The question of S-300 supply to Tehran remained unsettled for years.

After years of negotiation, in February 2015, Moscow offered Tehran the chance to buy its latest Antey-2500 anti-aircraft and ballistic missile system, instead of the older S-300 system. Iran replied that it would consider the offer.

The last time Russia supplied S-300 systems abroad was in 2010, when 15 squadrons were delivered to China.

Since then production of S-300 systems has been suspended as the main producer of the Russian air defenses, concern Almaz-Antey, has launched production of the next generation systems, S-400. China has become the first country allowed to buy S-400 systems, Rosoboronexport chief Anatoly Isaykin told the Russian media.

As of today, S-300 systems have been operable in a number of countries, including Algeria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Cyprus, Kazakhstan and Vietnam. There is a valid contract to deliver S-300 systems to Syria, but it was put on hold after the beginning of the civil war in the country.

April 13, 2015 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

The Washington Echo Chamber: Inflating the Importance of Cuban Dissidents

By Matt Peppe | Just the Facts Blog | April 12, 2015

The historic meeting between President Barack Obama and President Raúl Castro of Cuba at the Summit of the Americas in Panama over the weekend could be interpreted as a steppingstone toward the end of U.S. subversion and economic warfare relentlessly carried out since the success of the Cuban revolution 55 years ago. But it is questionable whether President Obama intends to transform relations, treating the government of Cuba as a sovereign equal and recognizing their right to choose different political and economic models, or merely to continue the same decades-old policy with a more palatable sales pitch – the way he has done with drones and extrajudicial surveillance. U.S. media, however, appear to have fully embraced the idea that Washington is acting in the best interests of the Cuban people to liberate them from political repression. The New York Times weighed in the day before the Summit by claiming that most Cubans identify not with the sociopolitical goals advanced by their country’s government, but rather with those supported by Washington.

In an editorial titled “Cuban Expectations in a New Era” (4/7/2015), the New York Times advances the proposition that engagement between the two governments will lead to Cuba’s integration (at least partially) into the global capitalist economy. This in turn will create increased financial prosperity as Cuba grows its private sector and turns away from the failed model the government has imposed since the start of the revolution.

The New York Times portrays the Cuban government as intransigent, stubbornly holding its citizens back from the inevitable progress that would result from aligning itself with Washington. The Times claims that the Cuban government maintains a “historically tight grip on Cuban society.” They may be alluding to a Cuban version of the U.S.’s political police, the FBI, who for decades spied on nonviolent activists representing African Americans, Puerto Rican nationalists, the anti-war movement, animal rights and environmental groups to prevent social change through political activities. Many of the activists illegally targeted by the FBI’s COINTELPRO program still remain incarcerated as political prisoners. But the Times doesn’t mention any such Cuban equivalent.

The fault of Cuba’s financial situation is placed squarely on the country’s government. The Times editorial only mentions the 51-year-old embargo by stating that “untangling the web of sanctions the United States imposes on Cuba will take years because many are codified into law.” Yet they then claim “the Obama administration’s gamble on engaging with Cuba has made it increasingly hard for [Cuba’s] leaders to blame their economic problems and isolation on the United States.”

They might have mentioned the embargo against Cuba cost the country $3.9 billion in foreign trade last year, bringing the inflation-adjusted total to $1.1 trillion since the policy was implemented. The embargo is still directly harming the Cuban economy and public health sector. The administrative measures implemented by Obama will provide, at most, minor relief. Extraterritorial provisions of the Helms-Burton Act that prevent Cuba from trading with 3rd countries remain firmly in place.

But the Times seems to believe the Cuban government is doing nothing more than making excuses when they complain about the devastating affects of the embargo on their economy and their population. They don’t mention that in October 187 other nations voted in the UN for the 23rd straight year to condemn the U.S. embargo against Cuba as illegal and demand that it end.

In her study “Unexpected Cuba,” economist Emily Morris rejects the argument that Cuba’s leaders have damaged their country’s economic performance and put its social progress at risk by failing to adopt capitalist reforms like privatization and liberalization.

“The problem with this account is that reality has conspicuously failed to comply with its predictions,” Morris writes. “Although Cuba faced exceptionally severe conditions – it suffered the worst exogenous shock of any of the Soviet-bloc members and, thanks to the long-standing US trade embargo, has confronted a uniquely hostile international environment – its economy has performed in line with the other ex-Comecon countries, ranking thirteenth out of the 27 for which the World Bank has full data.”

The New York Times then claims that the Cuban dissidents attending sideline events at the Panama Summit deserve to have regional leaders “amplify their voices.” They claim that such dissidents “have struggled for years to be heard in their own country, where those critical of the Communist system have faced repression.”

There is no evidence that the dissidents have struggled in Cuba because they have been repressed rather than that most of the population simply does not agree with their ideas or sympathize with them. In a presumptuous attempt to delegitimize the Cuban government, the Times claims it is actually the dissident contra-revolution that represents the majority of the Cuban people. “The government will have to reckon with the fact that many of the dissidents’ aspirations are shared by most Cubans,” the Times editorial states.

Again, there is no evidence that this is actually the case anywhere other than in Washington’s fantasies. The dissidents’ aspirations are not even stated. One assumes this refers to the objective of repealing socialism and instituting capitalism, which is also the official policy of the U.S. government. Mere changes to Cuba’s economy within the socialist structure is not a dissident position. Such changes and improvements are proposed and debated at all levels of Cuban politics, and have been openly embraced by Raúl Castro since he assumed the Presidency.

That the majority of the Cuban people share dissidents’ desire for capitalism is a bold claim. It infers that the Cuban government is not representative of its people, but rather forcibly imposes a socioeconomic system they oppose.

People familiar with Cuba have reached the opposite conclusion. Victor Rodriguez, a professor in the Ethnic Studies department of California State University Long Beach, recently returned from a visit to Cuba and had a different outlook.

“I spoke with at least 50 Cubans of all ages and walks of life,” he said. “Themes were that sovereignty, health care, and education are non-negotiable.” Rodriguez said that Cubans did have complaints about their system, with many stressing the need for higher salaries.

But the three areas he cites as resoundingly popular are the most basic hallmarks of the revolution. If Cuba were to abandon its socialist economic system – either willingly or under pressure from the United States – these would be the first areas to be sacrificed on the neoliberal altar. Dozens of countries in the global South from Africa, Latin America to Asia that now find themselves in the vice grip of suffocating debt can surely attest to this fact.

It is worth examining who are the voices that the New York Times claim deserve to be amplified. Among the “dissidents” are Guillermo Fariñas and Manuel Cuesta Morúa. Fariñas had fought in Angola against the racist South African apartheid regime and had supported Cuba’s revolutionary movement until a sudden change, notes Salim Lamrani, a French professor who specializes in Cuba-USA relations.

“It was only in 2003 that Fariñas made a 180 degree ideological switch and turned his back on the ideas he had defended in years past,” Lamrani writes. Contrary to representation in Western media, Fariñas had been sentenced to prison for crimes such as assaulting a colleague and an old man who had to have his spleen removed because of his injuries. Lamrani notes that Fariñas was admittedly financed by the US Interests Section in Havana. Perhaps not coincidentally, Fariñas became an outspoken critic of the Castro regime. Yet he was still permitted to speak freely with foreign media. His decision to express his political views, which happen to coincide with those of the interests that finance him, has paid handsomely.

“Guillermo Fariñas has chosen, as have those Cuban dissidents sensationalized by the western press, to live off his dissident activities, which offer undeniable financial opportunities and a standard of living much higher than other Cubans living in a context marked by economic difficulties and material scarcity,” Lamrani writes.

Cuesta Morúa is likewise a dissident who considers the Cuban revolution an abject failure, and who downplays any U.S. responsibility for the economic conditions Cuba faces.

According to Lamrani, “Manuel Cuesta Morúa, who resides in Cuba and benefits from all the advantages of the system of social protection of the country, is a dissident linked to U.S. power through the National Endowment for Democracy, a screen office of the CIA that contributes financially to the development of the activities of the opposition to the government of Havana.”

Unlike dissidents in the United States, who cannot start a political organization or journalistic enterprise without concerning themselves with how it will impact their ability to pay for health care, a mortgage, food for their family or education, dissidents in Cuba do not have any of these worries. They enjoy a robust safety net that covers every single citizen, regardless of their view of the Cuban political system.

Many Cubans in attendance at the Summit in Panama had a different view of the dissidents than that espoused by the New York Times. They referred to the dissidents as mercenaries because of their financial links to a hostile foreign regime and coziness with anti-Castro exiles such as Luis Posada Carriles, the “Cuban bin Laden,” who has been implicated in numerous terrorist activities including the downing of a civilian airline and a string of hotel bombings in Havana.

The Cuban Web site Juventud Rebelde noted that the Cuban delegation, which represents more than 2,000 associations and Non-Governmental Organizations from the island, denounced the presence of people who are paid by interests seeking to destabilize Cuban society and the Cuban government.

Liaena Hernandez Martinez, of the National Committee of the Federation of Cuban Women, which represents more than 4 million Cubans said that: “For the Cuba dignified and sovereign that has resisted more than five decades of blockade it is inadmissible that people are here of such low moral character.”

The Times predictably aligns itself on the side of the U.S. government regarding their opinion of the true political aspirations of Cuban people. The idea that the U.S. is a disinterested observer nudging the Cuban government in the direction of greater democracy and human rights is nothing but pure propaganda, contradicted by more than half a century of history. The U.S. has always been the aggressor against Cuba, coercing it to become a neo-colony that could be exploited by the U.S. military and corporate interests from the time of the Platt amendment until the U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista was ousted in 1959.

It should be no surprise that the U.S. government and corporations like the New York Times still presumptuously attempt to delegitimize the Cuban revolution and pretend that the Cuban politics are best understood and articulated by those either outside Cuba or in their service as paid agents. The notion that a population can create a socioeconomic system representing the will of its people that starkly rejects the Washington Consensus is simply unthinkable. Anyone who agrees with the government’s official line, regardless of their questionable motives or failure to resonate inside the country, is seen as Cuba’s true political representative class. It may take another 55 years to realize this is simply not the case.

April 13, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Economics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

US Increases Intelligence-Sharing With Saudi Arabia Over Yemen Strikes

By Nadia Prupis | Common Dreams | April 11, 2015

The U.S. is once again increasing its intelligence-sharing with Saudi Arabia to help the kingdom expand its air campaign in Yemen, U.S. officials told Reuters on Friday.

“We have opened up the aperture a bit wider with what we are sharing with our Saudi partners,” one official said. “We are helping them get a better sense of the battlefield and the state of play with the Houthi forces.”

The Saudi military began its aerial assault on Yemen in late March in coordination with 10 other Gulf Arab allies, as well as the U.S., when civil unrest between the Yemeni government and Houthi rebels threatened to boil over. Weeks of relentless bombings and air strikes have contributed to what the Red Cross called a “catastrophic” situation in Yemen, with civilian deaths already in the hundreds and food and water shortages worsening.

The U.S. has backed the Saudi air strikes in Yemen since they began, with the White House authorizing “logistical and intelligence support” the day after the operation was confirmed from the ground in Sana’a.

However, Washington’s role in the fight increased significantly over the following weeks. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken said on Tuesday that the administration had “expedited weapons deliveries, we have increased our intelligence sharing, and we have established a joint coordination planning cell in the Saudi operation center.”

That move came despite warnings from international aid groups that the operation, which is also supported by Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Bahrain, has brought war to “every street and every corner” in Yemen.

The White House and the Pentagon would not comment on the specifics of the increased intelligence-sharing on Friday, Reuters reports. In addition to intelligence-sharing, the U.S. also began daily air-to-air refueling flights of Saudi and U.A.E. fighter jets.

As Common Dreams reported on Friday, the coalition is also blocking nearly all food and medical aid from entering Yemen.

At the same time as the U.S. announced its intelligence-sharing plans, the UN warned that the heavily targeted southern city of Aden was in danger of completely running out of water “within a matter of days.”

April 13, 2015 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

The New Militarism: Who Profits?

By Ron Paul | April 12, 2015

Militarism and military spending are everywhere on the rise, as the new Cold War propaganda seems to be paying off. The new “threats” that are being hyped bring big profits to military contractors and the network of think tanks they pay to produce pro-war propaganda.

Here are just a few examples:

The German government announced last week that it would purchase 100 more “Leopard” tanks – a 45 percent increase in the country’s inventory. Germany had greatly reduced its inventory of tanks as the end of the Cold War meant the end of any threat of a Soviet ground invasion of Europe. The German government now claims these 100 new tanks, which may cost nearly half a billion dollars, are necessary to respond to the new Russian assertiveness in the region. Never mind that Russia has neither invaded nor threatened any country in the region, much less a NATO member country.

The US Cold War-era nuclear bunker under Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, which was all but shut down in the 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, is being brought back to life. The Pentagon has committed nearly a billion dollars to upgrading the facility to its previous Cold War-level of operations. US defense contractor Raytheon will be the prime beneficiary of this contract. Raytheon is a major financial sponsor of think tanks like the Institute for the Study of War, which continuously churn out pro-war propaganda. I am sure these big contracts are a good return on that investment.

IMG_2042.RELEASABLE_FOR_THE_PUBLIC[1]-(Medium)NATO, which I believe should have been shut down after the Cold War ended, is also getting its own massively expensive upgrade. The Alliance commissioned a new headquarters building in Brussels, Belgium, in 2010, which is supposed to be completed in 2016. The building looks like a hideous claw, and the final cost – if it is ever finished – will be well over one billion dollars. That is more than twice what was originally budgeted. What a boondoggle! Is it any surprise that NATO bureaucrats and generals continuously try to terrify us with tales of the new Russian threat? They need to justify their expansion plans!

So who is the real enemy? The Russians?

No, the real enemy is the taxpayer. The real enemy is the middle class and the productive sectors of the economy. We are the victims of this new runaway military spending. Every dollar or euro spent on a contrived threat is a dollar or euro taken out of the real economy and wasted on military Keynesianism. It is a dollar stolen from a small business owner that will not be invested in innovation, spent on research to combat disease, or even donated to charities that help the needy.

One of the most pervasive and dangerous myths of our time is that military spending benefits an economy. This could not be further from the truth. Such spending benefits a thin layer of well-connected and well-paid elites. It diverts scarce resources from meeting the needs and desires of a population and channels them into manufacturing tools of destruction. The costs may be hidden by the money-printing of the central banks, but they are eventually realized in the steady destruction of a currency.

The elites are terrified that peace may finally break out, which will be bad for their profits. That is why they are trying to scuttle the Iran deal, nix the Cuba thaw, and drum up a new “Red Scare” coming from Moscow. We must not be fooled into believing their lies.

April 13, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment