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University used $175,000 to bury ‘pepper spray’ cop internet searches

© Brian Nguyen

© Brian Nguyen / Reuters
RT | April 14, 2016

Officials at University of California at Davis have reportedly spent $175,000 trying to digitally suppress the memory of the time campus police indiscriminately pepper sprayed Occupy protesters – to no success.

The university, with a student population of just over 35,000, wants people to forget that in November 2011 campus police lost the run of themselves when responding to a sit-down protest.

Footage from the scene, showing campus police Lt. John Pike discharging military-grade pepper spray into the eyes of student protesters sitting on the ground, caused outrage around the world.

It quickly became a social media meme, with the incident resulting in a number of legal cases, including an agreement by UC Davis to collectively compensate victims to the tune of $1 million.

According to freedom of information documents requested by The Sacramento Bee newspaper, UC Davis paid two separate consultant firms to try to clean the internet of bad publicity.

Some $92,970 out of the university’s communications beefed-up budget was paid to Maryland state PR firm Nevins & Associates in 2013, report the Sacramento Bee.

Meanwhile, a year later an $82,500 contract was signed with ID Media Partners to design a “search engine results management strategy.”

A document by Nevins & Associates details the plan to filter out “venomous rhetoric” concerning UC Davis and its chancellor, Linda Katehi.

“Nevins & Associates is prepared to create and execute an online branding campaign designed to clean up the negative attention the University of California, Davis, and Chancellor Katehi have received related to events that transpired in November 2011,” it reads.

A list of objectives by the public relations firm reveals a plan to launch an “aggressive” campaign to dilute negative search results and eradicate references to the pepper spray incident on Google.

The company advised optimizing the use of Meta tags and feeding local media “content with positive sentiment.”

Chancellor Linda Katehi was roundly criticized for her reaction to the Occupy Wall Street protest at the time, with students demanding her resignation.

“We have worked to ensure that the reputation of the university, which the chancellor leads, is fairly portrayed,” a UC Davis spokesperson said.
“We wanted to promote and advance the important teaching, research and public service done by our students, faculty and staff, which is the core mission of our university.”

US Representative Kevin McCarty (D-California), who serves and chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance, said that the PR expenditure was “troubling” given the increase in university tuition.

“It is troubling that the administration chose to spend scarce public dollars and to nearly double its PR budget when tuition soared, course offerings were slashed and California resident students were being shut out. These findings just raise more questions about university priorities,” he posted on Facebook.

READ MORE: UC Davis Slammed for pepper spraying students 

April 14, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , , | 3 Comments

Why was the Nakba Tour Canceled at Stanford?

Palestinian Refugee: Stanford students censored me over condemnation of Israel

Free Palestine Movement | April 11, 2016

In an interview, Amena El-Ashkar, a Palestinian refugee from Lebanon, states that she refused to speak at Stanford University after students told her she could not express her views about Israel.

I’m coming here to say that Israel has no right to exist. [The students] said we could discuss this kind of thing with each other, but not in front of American people…

Ms. Ashkar’s talk is one of several on a national “North America Nakba Tour,” a tour designed to educate Americans about the enduring effects Israel’s mass expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland in 1948. Ms. Ashkar and Mariam “Umm Akram” Fathallah, an 86-year-old survivor of the expulsion, had planned to speak at Stanford University on 6 April 2016. Ms. Ashkar was born and raised in a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, where her ancestors were banished during the expulsion, or Nakba, of 1948.

Stanford Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), which was hosting the talk at Stanford, told Ms. Ashkar that their existence as a campus organization depends on not challenging Israel’s “right to exist,” and told her not to address the topic. Ms. Ashkar refused to censor herself and was shocked that an organization named “Students for Justice in Palestine” would insist on such a requirement. Although some of the students admitted to sharing Ms. Ashkar’s views, the students cited the hostile administrative climate at Stanford to justify censoring their guest.

I told them, it is a fight, and any fight is going to have sacrifices. In Lebanon, we have Palestinian clubs… which do not take funds from the University. We pay it ourselves.

Stanford SJP released a false statement attributing the cancellation to concerns about Alison Weir, a pro-Palestinian commentator who was in the audience. Ms. Weir was subject to widely disputed — and widely rejected — accusations of anti-Semitism by other Palestinian rights organizers last summer, revealing deep-seated divisions within the Palestinian rights movement. Although Tour organizers had informally asked Ms. Weir to give Ms. Ashkar public speaking advice, and Ms. Weir had offered the Tour some generic informational materials — none of which are authored by Weir — Ms. Weir is not one of the national organizers of the North America Nakba Tour and was not a planned speaker. Weir offered to sell copies of her own writings at the event to raise money for the Tour, but complied when Stanford students asked her not to sell them. The statement alleges that Ms. Weir refused to leave when asked, which Weir and Tour organizers deny. No security personnel were called to remove Weir or anyone else from the audience; instead, the speaker herself felt alienated and called off the event.

Ms. Ashkar explains that disagreements about who was in the audience were not why the talk was canceled. Instead, Ms. Ashkar says that she herself called off the talk when the organizers demanded that she censor herself.

The existence of Israel, as I told the SJP, means that I have no right to exist. Because I am a refugee in a Palestinian camp inside Lebanon. The Lebanese government doesn’t want me, and we cannot return. So what are we? Are we going to stay stateless refugees generation after generation?

One of the informational flyers provided by Weir, but authored by former PLO legal advisor John V. Whitbeck apparently sparked the feud with similar arguments. The flyer states, in part,

To demand that Palestinians recognize “Israel’s right to exist” is to demand that a people who have been treated as subhumans unworthy of basic human rights publicly proclaim that they are subhumans. It would imply Palestinians’ acceptance that they deserve what has been done and continues to be done to them. Even 19th-century US governments did not require the surviving native Americans to publicly proclaim the “rightness” of their ethnic cleansing by European colonists…

North America Nakba Tour organizers call on Stanford SJP to retract its false explanation and issue a public apology for their behavior to Ms. Ashkar. They have also asked concerned citizens to consider donating to the Tour and attending Tour events in lieu of the cancellation. Paul Larudee, a Tour organizer, and Ms. Weir have separately authored their own accounts of the incident.

Paul Larudee | April 7, 2016

Last night, Mariam Fathalla and Amena Elashkar were scheduled to speak at Stanford University, sponsored by Students for Justice in Palestine. The previous day, I had asked Alison Weir, who has been giving talks on Palestine for 15 years all over the country, to meet with Amena and give her advice on reaching American audiences since this is Amena’s first trip to the U.S. It was an excellent, fruitful meeting.

I then said it would be valuable if Alison could hear Amena’s presentation to see if she would have any suggestions. Alison is extremely busy but agreed to come down to Stanford with us for that purpose.

When Alison learned we did not yet have any written materials along to provide the audience, she brought some along with her for us to use and also gave us some of her books that we could sell to help raise money for the tour. We had already discussed that IAK would supply their excellent written materials for the tour.

We had no idea that Alison would turn out to be an issue, or that the Stanford SJP would object to what Amena might wish to say.

Alison is an extremely committed and popular antiracist writer, speaker, and activist, and people even follow her work in refugee camps in Lebanon.  While some groups oppose her and If Americans Knew, most people working for justice in Palestine feel she is one of the top writers and speakers on this issue.

In any case this should not be an issue for the Nakba Tour; Alison is not one of the national organizers of the tour, and she was not intended to be one of the speakers or to have any role in the presentation at Stanford. She was simply there as a favor to us, as described above.

However, some members of the SJP immediately objected to Alison’s presence, perhaps assuming she was going to speak, and also to the presence of her book and the If Americans Knew materials. We immediately explained that Alison was not to be a speaker and was just there to sit in the audience, and that we had invited her to come with us. We also agreed to remove the books, but said we were disturbed that they also wished to censor the materials we could make available on our own tour. In all my years of activism, I’ve never heard of such a thing.

Amena then began discussing the situation with the students, and was extremely upset when they told her that she could not speak truthfully about her feelings and the feelings of the thousands of dispossessed Palestinian refugees living in camps about their situation, about the Nakba, and about whether or not Israel has “the right to exist” that Israel partisans claim.  This was not an issue at the two previous talks.

When it became clear that they wished Amena to censor her excellent talk, she refused to do so and the event was canceled.

We think it is extremely important that people hear from Amena and Mariam. They represent millions of Palestinian refugees whose rights and views have been trampled upon and who are often ignored. Thank you for helping us bring their voice to the discussion. It is long past time that they are heard.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

– Paul Larudee, Tour Coordinator

April 14, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

End free speech and save the minorities! (will anyone really fall for this?)

By Blackcatte | OffGuardian | April 14, 2016

The current – and frankly bizarre even by recent standards – Guardian campaign “the web we want” seems to be driven by two main agendas. The first, and probably the major one is the long-simmering plan to “regulate” (i.e. control and censor) free speech on the Web. That the Graun’s effort is part of a coordinated new offensive in that department is pretty conclusively illustrated by the fact the ex minister for “equality”, Maria Miller delivered her own diatribe against the “problem” of internet “abuse” just days after the Guardian’s new campaign took off. The similarity between her invective and that employed by the Guardian’s tame journos puts it beyond question that this is an Establishment-wide move. A concerted plan to use exaggerated claims of “abuse” and its alleged impact on minorities, to mobilise well-meaning liberals in support of internet censorship.

In fact, unlike the feeble Apologists at Graun HQ, Miller at least has the guts to pretty much say so out loud:

“We need better laws and we need better enforcement. Government needs to stop allowing internet providers from(sic) hiding behind arguments about the protection of free speech,”

Right there we have it. The plan they formulated in their focus groups and policy committees. The best way to get the internet censorship they have wanted for so long is to pretend it isn’t censorship at all, but protection! And most particularly protection of those sections of society we all know need it most. The ethnic minorities, the LGBT communities – and women. The mere mention of these groups will be enough to rally many well-meaning but naive liberals to support their own gagging. “I’m happy to have my right to anonymity abolished if it helps stamp out racial abuse” they’ll say. “I’m happy to see comments sections closed if it helps women columnists avoid harassment”, they’ll say. There’ll probably be a social media campaign with a catchy soundbite and the same soft focus unthreatening images of “diversity” they pull up at the Graun. And people will sign up to be silenced.

But of course it won’t end racism or sexism or homophobia. Because it’s not intended to. The people behind this couldn’t give a flying feck for the well being of minorities or anyone else beyond their own narrow class of super-privilege. That’s just window dressing. A lure for the gullible. It’s the Child Catcher prancing about in borrowed gaudy, his cage draped in pictures of candy.

The truth is they want to kill the internet and all its unparalleled power to monitor them and their variously greedy, stupid, paranoid antics. And they know they can’t do that unless they can persuade most ordinary people it’s a good idea.

This is why over the coming weeks and months you’ll see Owen Jones and other unscrupulous hacks (yes, we’re sorry, but Jones deserves no better descriptor after his recent ghastly display), trying to repackage free speech as “elitist” and using tortured pseudo-logic to “prove” that censorship is the only way to have truly open debate.

* * *

The second part of the Guardian agenda is to try to roll back the massive damage being done to its reputation by the current CiF debacle.

Since its inception in 2006, CiF (“Comment is Free”) was hailed as the Guardian’s flagship of credibility, their pledge of openness and inclusiveness. And for a while it was. Most stories were open for discussion. Moderation was decorous. If it was politically motivated sometimes, it was discreet enough to have only minimal impact (mostly on stories about Israel). By and large CiF at that time was a real place for the sharing of information and opinion. All was reasonably well.

But somewhere around 2012-13 things began to change. Did the Government losing the Syria vote and the widespread opposition to a war against Assad signal to the PTB that open discussion of vital news stories was beginning to have unexpected consequences for their control of the narrative? Did the Snowden issue persuade people they’d rather get in line than risk their pension plans?

In any event moderation became more insistent. Not – whatever the official line may be – because the trolls were more prolific or persistent. They weren’t. Trolls are to the internet what rats are to cities. They are always there, but their impact on most of us is minimal. Civilised discussion proceeds above and around them. Trolls are trolls and never really change. No, what changed was that for maybe the first time there was a noticeable tendency to censor for opinion. Not racist opinion, or sexist opinion. Just anti-government opinion. Or minority opinion. At first it was relatively minor. – But then in February 2014 the West decided to go insane and provoke WW3 in Ukraine and everything changed forever.

News outlets like the Guardian and the BBC stood by and vaguely cheered this act of insanity, as if too lobotomised to even understand what was going on. We saw Shaun Walker making facile jokes about vodka and potatoes. Luke Harding, off his meds and off his leash squealing Russophobic paranoia. We saw crazed old NATO generals foaming at the mouth for war, and slick intelligence types citing reams of easily disproven statistics to “prove” Russia was the problem. What we didn’t see – anywhere – in the Establishment media was any voice of sanity, warning that this was a new Cuban Missile crisis and that more was required of us than xenophobia and soundbites.

The CiF sections – naturally – erupted in shock and incredulity that the Guardianthe Guardian – could possibly be fielding such stupid, dangerous, and low-grade propaganda. The comments were something like 10-1, if not more, in opposition to the hardline editorial stance and pleading for some realisation of what madness our governments were engaged in. And that’s when the Great Cull began.

As the official Western narrative on Ukraine unraveled in the face of the Odessa massacre, the black farce of the ATO and multiple revelations of how close the new government’s ties to neo-nazis really were, so the Guardian’s own line became increasingly nakedly propagandist. It set up a network with publications such as the Kiev Post and Radio Free Europe, and disseminated their dishonest hit pieces and fake propaganda stories without question or demur. In a matter of months it had become unrecognisable to those who had formerly respected it. Either it fundamentally changed at this time, or, maybe more likely, it simply stopped pretending. Either way, it stopped being the Guardian in any sense that meant anything.

At the same time moderation in CiF became for the first time overtly politicised, if not draconian. As people reacted more and more to the changing tone ATL, so more and more censorship was required BTL to keep that reaction in check. Comments that asserted a Russian perspective, or that simply called for some sort of middle ground were many times more likely to be blocked than those that supported the NATO position. Extreme racism toward Russians became more and more acceptable both ATL and BTL, while even minor critique of the Guardian’s own authors became punishable by not just blocking but outright banning.

But even the most intense efforts to control the debate proved futile. Whenever they opened a story for comments on Ukraine, Syria, or any other NATO war zone, it would be flooded with people opposing the warmongering of our governments, or questioning the veracity of the article, or linking to different versions of the story or to other stories the Guardian was choosing not to run. Try as they might to take down links, block comments, ban accounts, they couldn’t stop this tide.

And worse, people were now commenting on the censorship of comments, requiring even more censorship in turn. They developed zero tolerance for anyone questioning why a given comment had been taken down. If you dared ask why, you were blocked or banned. They began pre-emptively banning certain accounts for a given period when sensitive news stories were broken, un-blocking them again after a decent interval. They seem to have added certain websites (including this one) to lists of URLS that would be immediately removed whatever content they contained.

But the more they censored, the more they were called out for their censorship, and the harder it became to pretend – even to themselves – that they were still the lovely liberal Guardian embracing free speech. They might tell each other they were censoring “trolls” or “Putinbots”, but in their hearts they knew, and knew that their readers all knew, what was really going on.

CiF is now one of their major problems. They need to preserve it – their once proud flagship – in order to cling to the remnants of their self-image as leaders of free thought. They can rename it “Opinion”, as if that makes the absence of Free Comment somehow less real. They can censor it to the point of destruction. But they can’t close it down. Because that would be admitting what they are and admitting defeat.

“The web we want” is their own, strangely pathetic, attempt at squaring that circle. You can look at it almost like the inner dialogue of a deeply troubled psyche. Self-soothing with repetition and over-assertion.

Those bizarre and strained attempts at “explaining” their comment policy with graphs and “research” so openly bogus it proves nothing beyond their own desperation. Those weird photoshoots of confused but smiling “Best CiF Commenters” (chosen by “cross-referencing a list of the commenters who had the highest average of “recommends per comment” with a list of those with the highest percentage of “staff picks”), designed to show how comfortable they really are with their own readership, but being about as convincing as a kidnap victim reading a scrawled note to camera about how well he is being treated.

Hysterical. Hopeless. And deeply sad. Because even if this new agenda of cuddly censorship to help minorities does get enough of a claw hold to make a difference, and even if we all do lose our remaining freedoms, the Guardian is dead to most of its old readers. Its moral base has been destroyed, its reputation is irreparably shredded. It’s now just a glorified mag for clickbait and badly written agitprop. Its readership is shrinking, its income is vanishing. It’s propped up now by its bosses in Washington and London, existing on their life support until it’s been drained of all possible use, when they will turn off the machines and let it die.

The “journalists” who work for it won’t much care when that happens of course. If they cared about such things they wouldn’t be doing what they do. They’ll just be paid off and move on to different positions, where they can enjoy expense account lunches and spurious feelings of security while it lasts. But many old readers will care quite a lot. Even though it will also feel like putting a suffering animal out of its misery.

April 14, 2016 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 1 Comment

Latest Corbyn hit-piece: he earns MP’s salary

By Jonathon Cook | The Blog From Nazareth | April 13, 2016

If I hadn’t seen for myself that this article “exposing” Jeremy Corbyn was published on the Daily Telegraph’s website, I would have assumed it was a spoof from The Onion – an even more preposterous one than normal.

In a lengthy hit-piece, the Telegraph suggests that Corbyn is a hypocrite for criticising David Cameron over his efforts to conceal the financial benefits he received from his father’s tax-haven investments.

What’s the Telegraph’s evidence for accusing Corbyn of a double standard?

Corbyn is apparently part of the fat-cat class himself because he earnt £1.5 million. That sounds a lot – except it was his total earnings as an MP over the past 33 years. That’s the equivalent of a £45,000 a year salary. A good sum but hardly the stuff of scandals.

As a Labour spokesman says (buried at the bottom of this long piece): “It represents his wages as an MP over the last 30 years, the same as every other MP who has done the same service. He’s been elected consistently by the electorate and he has earnt what every other MP earns and those payments are in the public domain.”

In other words, this is a complete non-story. He’s a an MP and he received the benefits due an MP. If there’s a problem with that, then the Telegraph ought to be campaigning against MPs’ salaries.

So why is the Telegraph writing a story that makes clear it is not even pretending to be a newspaper – which reveals in stark fashion that, in fact, it is just a propaganda sheet for the business class?

There can be only one reason – or two related reasons.

That Corbyn is seen as such a danger to the vested interests of the powerful corporations that are served by the Telegraph and the rest of the corporate media that they need to smear him even at the cost of undermining their own credibility.

And equally significantly, that they are so sure that Cameron can be relied on not to damage  their interests, that they will do anything – including writing a patently ridiculous anti-Corbyn story – to help the prime minister in his hour of need.

If Corbyn became prime minister, he might threaten the apple cart that has made the Telegraph’s owners, the famously litigious Barclay Brothers, and the rest of the 1% fabulously wealthy. The brothers are – how can we put it? – familiar with the workings of tax havens; they live in one.

Cameron is a member of that same exclusive club: he might talk the talk, but he is never going to walk the walk. He and his party will look after their friends and their off-shore accounts for as long as they can do so without paying a serious political price.

The only scandal here is that the Telegraph can write a story like this and still be considered a newspaper rather than a muck-raking comic. This example may be extreme, but behind it lie the same motives of class-interest that have driven the hundreds of other hatchet jobs on Corbyn over the past year, published in every British newspaper including supposedly liberal publications like the Guardian.

April 14, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

Washington Post Lies to Justify Intervention in Venezuela

teleSUR | April 13, 2016

The noted Brazilian political scientist and theologian Frei Betto recently said that “the Yankees will do everything so that our continent will go back to being their backyard.”

Despite the rhetoric about democratic values that emanates from Washington, the U.S. government has always been willing to use any means necessary to impose their will on Latin America. This has often translated into foreign intervention.

But the U.S. public has grown weary of their government’s imperialist adventures, which as of late have ended in utter disaster. Washington elites know they must first fool the public into believing that intervention is a necessity.

To accomplish this they turn to private media outlets and their editorial boards, who help drum up support for U.S. intervention in foreign countries.

Enter the latest example: a recent editorial by the Washington Post entitled: “Venezuela is in desperate need of a political intervention.”

This from the same paper that was once vilified by U.S. conservatives for its supposed leftist tilt.

The use of the word intervention is deliberate, the Post knows that the Bolivarian Revolution – started by Hugo Chavez and continued by his successor Nicolas Maduro – still commands enormous support. The Venezuelan people will not simply hand the state back over to the very same politicians that abused the working class for decades.

An intervention done in the name of the Organization of American States, as the editorial calls for, is still imperialist. And it’s not just Venezuelans who know it but the whole region, which has seen the OAS used time and again to legitimize the imperialist fancies of the U.S. in the region.

The Post also knows that deceiving their audience sometimes requires outright lies.

Like the New York Times editorial on Venezuela that proceeded the Post’s, the editorial team claims that lack of cooperation between the Maduro government and the opposition-controlled National Assembly is entirely the fault of Maduro.

The Post claimed that he “pursued scorched-earth warfare with the National Assembly,” while the Times claimed that it opposition only reluctantly settled on ousting the democratically-elected Maduro from power.

Lies. All of it.

From the moment they were declared the winners of the parliamentary election, the opposition said their goal was ousting Maduro from power.

There was never an opportunity for cooperation between the Venezuelan government and the opposition and the blame for that lies with the opposition. On the day the new parliament was sworn in, Henry Ramos Allup, a leading figure in the opposition, literally ran his finger across his throat to indicate his feelings about the government and its supporters.

Does that sound like a politician interested in dialogue? Hardly unsurprising that the Post would chose to leave that detail out.

But lying through omission isn’t enough for the Post editorial board. They fancy themselves legal experts, able to pass judgment on Venezuela’s division of powers and the decisions of its Supreme Court.

The Post took issue with the court’s decision to rule a highly controversial “amnesty” bill as unconstitutional. This bill doesn’t promote amnesty for so-called political prisoners, it affords impunity for people directly responsible for the deaths of dozens.

The objective of the opposition’s impunity bill was the release of politicians involved in efforts to oust Maduro by force, politicians like Leopoldo Lopez who was found guilty of inciting the violent protests that led to the deaths of 43 people.

Of course the truth doesn’t fit their narrative, so the Post brazenly claims that state security forces were largely responsible for the deaths during the 2014 protests. The truth is the vast majority of those killed were either innocent bystanders, government supporters, or state security officials.

It wasn’t the state that set up violent blockades, it wasn’t the state that strung up barbed wire so that passing motorists would be decapitated, it was Lopez’s supporters.

Venezuela is confronting a major economic crisis, that much is true, but the Post doesn’t bother with an investigation as to why. No, instead it blames everything on Maduro, including the drought that is affecting Venezuela’s ability to produce electricity. The same drought that is causing similar problems in neighboring Colombia. Is that too the fault of Maduro?

Seems as if the Post’s editorial board is also gifted with the power of premonition, predicting that the opposition’s efforts to prematurely end Maduro’s mandate would be declared void.

Media outlets made the same sort of predictions ahead of the 2015 parliamentary elections, claiming that the government would not recognize the results. Of course Maduro immediately recognized the results.

The opposition is free to pursue a recall referendum against Maduro, as they did with Chavez, which they lost. All that Venezuela’s electoral authority asks is that they follow the rules, something they seem unable to do.

As for an effort to pass a law to shorten Maduro’s term, well even the Post’s friends at the Times understands that “it would be hard to justify carrying out that change retroactively when Mr. Maduro was elected for a six-year term.”

Any foreign intervention, even one under the auspices of the OAS, would indeed result the kind of intense scenes the Post describes, but it would come as a result of millions of Venezuelans hitting the streets to reject it.

Venezuelans, and more broadly speaking Latin Americans, have lived through an era where the shackles of imperialism have been shed. They will not allow the region to become the backyard of the United States ever again.

April 14, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

5 Things You Really Need to Know About the Plot to Oust Brazil’s President Roussef

teleSUR | April 13, 2016

Brazil, Latin America’s largest economy and most populous nation, could be on the verge of major political change that could have ramifications not just across the region but globally.

A committee of the lower house of Congress voted 38-27 on Monday April 10 to recommend the impeachment of leftist President Dilma Rousseff.

The president could soon be ousted from her post in what could be the first impeachment of a Brazilian president since 1992 when Fernando Collor de Mello faced massive protests over corruption charges and resigned moments before his conviction by the Senate.

It’s Aimed at a President Elected by Millions

Dilma Rousseff is Brazil’s first woman president and took office on Jan. 1, 2011 after scoring a resounding victory in the presidential election held in October 2010 under promises she will improve the education system and cut inequality.

Rousseff’s victory in 2011 was also largely attributed to her close association with her predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, also of the Workers Party.

After a successful first term she was re-elected in 2014 seeing off Aécio Neves from the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB) amassing 52 percent of the electorate’s vote and 54 million vote.

The Workers Party, known as the PT, has now been in power for over a decade, much to the chagrin of the country’s conservative political forces.

Former President Lula da Silva has publicly suggested that efforts to impeach Rousseff are driven by politicians who want to take a shortcut to the presidency.

“Anyone who wants to become president, instead of trying to take down the president, they can run in an election. I ran three of them and didn’t get angry,” said Lula in a recent interview.

Political Opponents of Dilma Have a Majority in the Body That Will Decide Her Fate

The speaker of the lower chamber of Congress, Eduardo Cunha, a political opponent of Rousseff, accepted a petition for impeachment in what was described by the president’s supporters as a vengeful move. Cunha, who is under investigation for undeclared Swiss bank accounts totalling U.S. $5 million, only began impeachment proceedings when lawmakers from the PT voted to open an investigation.

A vote in the full lower house, which comprises of 513 lawmakers, is expected to take place on Sunday. If two-thirds vote in favor, the impeachment will be sent to the Senate. Should the Senate move forward with the impeachment process, Rousseff will immediately be suspended for up to six months while the Senate decides her fate.

In this scenario, Vice President Michel Temer – who comes from the same PMDB party as Cuhna, the man who helped push the call for impeachment – will take office as acting president.

The PT only has 57 lawmakers in the lower house, the PMDB has 67 while the rest are made up of smaller parties whose affiliations will be vital in deciding her fate.

Rousseff’s government has seen a number of defections, including the PMDB, the Progressive Party, and the Social Democratic Party, making it very likely that the lower house will vote for impeachment.

A total of 342 of the 513 lawmakers need to approve of Rousseff’s impeachment in order for the process to proceed to the Senate. The Senate will hold a simple-majority vote whether or not to convene a trial.

The Brasilia-based consultancy Arko Advice said committee votes for impeachment were higher than expected and it raised to 65 percent the odds of Rousseff being ousted by Congress.

The Senate trial would be overseen by the chief justice of the Supreme Federal Tribunal, Ricardo Lewandowski, and two-thirds of the 81 senators must vote for conviction to remove Rousseff from office. If no decision is reached within 180 days, the suspension of the president ends.

Like the lower house, the PT does not command a majority in the Senate, holding only 11 of the seats, meaning that many of Rousseff’s adversaries will be those deciding her fate.

The First Vote for Impeachment Was Dominated by Those Facing Corruption Charges

The committee, largely of comprising of Rouseff opponents, voted on Monday 38-27 in favor of continuing the impeachment process of the President. Amazingly, 36 out of the 65 members of the impeachment commission themselves are accused of corruption. Of those 36, 20 voted in favor of impeachment.

In other words, people accused of corruption voted to open an investigation into a president who has not been found guilty of any wrongdoing.
This is why Rousseff’s supporters say that impeachment without proof of a crime is a coup.

If Ousted, Economic Shock Therapy Will Be Implemented

Brazilian law stipulates that if a trial is convened in the Senate, the president must automatically step down. That means Temer could very soon be the president of Brazil, even if only on a temporary basis.

His party, the PMDB, has already revealed what they intend to do with power.

In a report revealed by “O estado de Sao Paulo,” the PMDB indicated that they would implement sweeping austerity reforms, including cuts to the lauded “Bolsa Familia” program.

The report also said the PMDB would consider cutting a large housing program for the poor and displaced workers and a program to make college education more accessible.

This Impeachment Process Isn’t Even About Corruption

Pressure began mounting on Rousseff in 2015 after Brazil’s once impressive economy shrank by 3.8 percent, the biggest decline since 1981 and a multi-billion dollar corruption scandal was exposed in the country’s state-run oil company Petrobras.

In the past two years, over 100 people have been arrested for their alleged involvement, including senators and top executives at Petrobras and members from both sides of the political spectrum. Dilma though has not been formally investigated.

Yet the investigation into the corruption scandal has taken a political course, with the lead investigator, Sergio Moro, coming under heavy criticism for his alleged anti-PT bias. Most of the politicians under investigation are not members of the PT, yet the cases involving the PT receive the most attention from the press and investigators.

Rousseff’s potential impeachment is totally unrelated to her or PT’s dealings with the state run oil company. Rather Rousseff is accused by her political opponents of breaking fiscal laws. They allege she manipulated government accounts to make the country’s deficit seems smaller than it was ahead of the 2014 presidential election to garner support for her re-election campaign.

The government maintains that the audit court is criticizing steps taken by the government to maintain social programs for Brazil’s poor, such as the widely-praised Bolsa Familia.

April 14, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Economics | , , | Leave a comment

Boosting Military Capabilities Top Priority for Ukraine’s New Gov’t

Sputnik — April 14, 2016

Ukraine will never accept secession of Crimea and independence of the eastern Donbass region, new Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said Thursday.

The Ukrainian Parliament earlier on Thursday accepted Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s resignation and appointed Parliament Speaker Volodomyr Groysman to the position.

“Another question to which the new government will pay extra attention will be the range of issues related to returning Crimea and the temporarily occupied Donbass regions… I want to outline my position clearly, we shall never accept that a part of our country… non longer belongs to Ukraine,” Groysman said.

Boosting Ukraine’s military capabilities will be a top priority for the country’s new government, according to Groysman.

I wish to underline that increasing our defense capabilities in conditions of Russian aggression remains a top priority for my government. We have a clear plan on implementing our defense capabilities in accordance with NATO standards,” Groysman said.

April 14, 2016 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Canada in hot water over April approval of $11bn arms sale to Saudis despite int’l criticism

RT | April 14, 2016

The Canadian government is under fire for secretly approving a deal, possibly the largest in the country’s history, to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, turning a deaf ear to concerns about how the weapons will be used.

The newly-revealed documents from Global Affairs Canada, obtained by CBC News, confirm that none other than Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion has signed off on export permits to ship $11 billion worth of the $15-billion vehicle sale to Riyadh, which is accused of gross human rights violations.

Canada’s Liberal government has refused to cancel the controversial sale since coming to power in November, claiming that it was a “done deal” (arranged by a previous Conservative administration of Stephen Harper) which could not be abolished without triggering severe penalties and job losses.

The Globe and Mail reported that Dion issued export permits for the bulk of the arms shipments as recently as last Friday. According to the newspaper, the department of Global Affairs Canada document (stamped ‘secret’ and obtained by a law university professor challenging the Saudi deal in court) shows Dion’s signature beside the words ‘I concur’ below the memo.

The permits reportedly cover light armored vehicles, spare parts and “associated weapon systems,” the memo signed by Dion says, adding that the fighting vehicles will be equipped with machine guns and anti-tank weapons.

The documents reportedly note how rare it is for a foreign affairs minister to personally sign off on export permits, with an exception made because the deal is so high profile and worth a fortune.

The documents also acknowledge concerns over Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, reportedly mentioning “the reported high number of executions, suppression of political opposition, the application of corporal punishment, suppression of freedom of expression, arbitrary arrest, ill-treatment of detainees, limitations of freedom of religion, discrimination against women and the mistreatment of migrant workers.”

Despite all this, Saudi Arabia appears to be Canada’s “key military ally supporting international efforts to counter ISIS [Islamic State or IS] in Iraq and Syria as well as countering instability in Yemen,” CBC has cited the document as saying.

“The acquisition of state-of-the-art armored vehicles will assist Saudi Arabia in these goals, which are consistent with Canada’s defense interests in the Middle East.”

The documents reportedly go on to say that Canada has “sold thousands of LAVs [light armored vehicles] to Saudi Arabia since the 1990s, and, to the best of the department’s knowledge, there have been no incidents where they have been used in the perpetration of human rights violations.”

The New Democratic Party (NDP) has accused the Liberals of deceiving Canadians.

NDP leader Thomas Mulcair said “the government lied to Canadians about who signed what when in the Saudi arms deal, and that is a very serious matter.”

Fighting in Yemen has killed nearly 6,400 people – most of them civilians – and seen over 30,000 injured since Saudi Arabia launched its intervention against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in March 2015, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.

“If the preponderance of the evidence is that it could be used against civilian populations… then the deal has to be off,” Conservative MP Tony Clement said, adding that Canada’s export controls do not require firm evidence of breaches, only an assessment of a risk of abuse, AFP reported.


Cameron brags of ‘brilliant’ UK arms trade as EU embargoes Saudi

Saudi Air Force struck Yemeni marketplace with US bombs – HRW

‘Unlawful civilian deaths in Yemen’: HRW urges US, UK, France to suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia

April 14, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

The New Propaganda War

By Jonathan Marshall | Consortium News | April 13, 2016

“[Russia] is conducting an intensive propaganda campaign directed primarily against the US and is employing coordinated psychological, political and economic measures . . . The ultimate object of this campaign is not merely to undermine the prestige of the US and the effectiveness of its national policy but to weaken and divide world opinion to a point where effective opposition to [Russian] designs is no longer attainable by political, economic or military means.”

With that justification, the Truman administration secretly authorized the start of covert operations by the CIA against America’s wartime ally, the USSR, in December 1947. It was one of the seminal decisions that launched the Cold War.

Fast forward now to March 2016, when the “Countering Information Warfare Act of 2016” was introduced in the U.S. Senate — as if nothing has changed in nearly seven decades.

The bipartisan bill, co-authored by Senators Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, declares that the Russian government uses “disinformation and other propaganda tools to undermine the national security objectives of the United States and key allies and partners” and achieve “a destabilizing effect on United States allies and interests.”

It further asserts that “the challenge of countering disinformation” requires “a whole-of-government approach leveraging all elements of national power,” coordinated by the Secretary of Defense and Director of National Intelligence.

Last year, in the same spirit, the House Armed Services Committee sought to add $30 million to funding of the U.S. Special Operations Command to combat Russian and Islamist information operations. It accused Russia of challenging “the NATO system” by engaging in “propaganda, diplomatic and economic measures to . . . preserve and extend its perceived sphere of influence” in Ukraine and beyond.

Philip Karber, president of the hawkish Potomac Foundation in Washington, D.C., agreed that Russia’s success in “hybrid warfare,” above all in Ukraine, requires a much bigger response from the American military. “Against the Russian media machine, you cannot just depend on a free press alone to defend against their multi-front ‘Big Lie’ campaign,” he declared.

Karber is one of many neo-Cold Warriors who warn that the United States and its NATO allies are falling behind Russia in the information war. In 2014, NATO’s Supreme Commander, General Philip Breedlove called on the alliance to prepare responses to what he called “the most amazing information warfare blitzkrieg we have ever seen,” related to Russia’s support for separatists in the eastern Ukraine.

Spreading Hysteria

Similar hysteria spilled into the pages of The Atlantic magazine, which complained that Breedlove had actually understated the threat.

“The new Russia doesn’t just deal in the petty disinformation, forgeries, lies, leaks, and cyber-sabotage usually associated with information warfare,” cried author Peter Pomerantsev. “It reinvents reality, creating mass hallucinations that then translate into political action. . . . We’re rendered stunned, spun, and flummoxed by the Kremlin’s weaponization of absurdity and unreality.”

Pomerantsev is affiliated with the Legatum Institute, a London-based think-tank that brought together “senior British and American officials” and “top Germans” with “frontline information-warriors from Ukraine” in 2014 to help expose “Kremlin propagandists.”

Alarmists say Russia’s information war is aimed at persuading gullible Westerners to render their governments “largely passive” in the face of Russia’s hostile actions, for example, in Ukraine. (The claim of passivity may surprise some Russians, who attribute their serious economic recession in part to Western economic sanctions.)

Russia’s deadly weapons in this information war are its TV and web channels, RT (formerly Russia Today) and Sputnik. Edward Lucas, senior vice-president of the U.S.-based Center for European Policy Analysis, calls RT “a fearsome adversary” and “a corrosive, anti-systemic force.” [Also, see’sWho’s the Propagandist: US or RT?“]

Russia’s dastardly tactic is to allocate “disproportionate coverage to speakers who echo the Kremlin’s preferred narratives” on controversial issues, according to a recent paper for the House of Commons on “Russia’s Information Warfare — Airbrushing Reality,” by former NATO press officer Ben Nimmo and Dr. Jonathan Eyal, international director of the Royal United Services Institute, a defense and security think tank.

Among other things, their paper complains, these media channels air Russia’s claim that NATO violated Western promises by expanding after the breakup of the USSR. Apparently, “many Western academics” have been hoodwinked by this claim. (So, apparently, was Der Spiegel, whose extensive report on the issue cited Secretary of State James Baker’s explicit promise to Mikhail Gorbachev on Feb. 9, 1990, that there would be “no extension of NATO’s jurisdiction for forces of NATO one inch to the east.”)

As a result, the “Airbrushing Reality” paper claims, “Moscow has succeeded in getting across a set of messages which may well hobble European security, and which need to be urgently confronted.”

RT’s Tiny Audience

These alarmists generally offer no statistics to support their warnings about the mass brainwashing of Western viewers. No wonder: RT garnered “less than 0.1 percent of Europe’s television audience.”

It proved only slightly more popular in Great Britain, where it ranked 175th out of 278 channels. The British government nonetheless deemed RT a big enough menace to threaten to revoke the network’s license. Among other sins, it was apparently guilty of airing “anti-Western comments in a late-night discussion on Ukraine.”

Anti-Russian investigative journalists have also gleefully reported that RT is “woefully failing in its mission” and misleading its Kremlin funders by “pretending that it has had a far bigger impact in the Western media sphere than it has, particularly online.” RT’s most popular videos evidently pertain to natural disasters, crime stories and social reporting, rather than politics.

Ironically it took a reporter for the U.S.-government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty to admit that the propaganda war isn’t entirely one-sided. As Russia “embrac[es] information warfare for the 21st-century media environment,” he wrote, the “Kremlin has taken a page from Washington’s operations manual.”

The reporter added, as if the USSR had never dissolved, “Soviet intelligence services honed the tactical use of information to gain a strategic military advantage, deploying campaigns of deception, misinformation, and propaganda during the Soviet Union’s decades-long standoff with the United States, which itself used the CIA and other intelligence and information agencies to shape public opinion throughout the Cold War.” (emphasis added)

Created at the end of the 1940s as a propaganda arm of the CIA, Radio Free Europe proudly called itself a “political warfare operation engaged in a struggle against Soviet Russian colonialism behind the Iron Curtain.” But it also sought to counter “communist influence [on] this side of the Curtain” — meaning that it aimed its propaganda toward Western Europe and the United States as well.

Today, the CIA’s former international broadcasting operations enjoy lavish overt support from U.S. taxpayers through the federal Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). For fiscal year 2017, BBG has requested $778 million in funding.

BBG works closely with the hawkish Victoria Nuland, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, to counter what she calls the “Kremlin’s pervasive propaganda campaign poisoning minds . . . on Russia’s periphery and across Europe.” (Nuland’s husband Robert Kagan is a veteran of Reagan-era “public diplomacy” and “perception management” programs led by a senior CIA covert operations specialist with the National Security Council.)

BBG has increased spending “to engage young audiences who are impacted by Russian . . . disinformation” and “launch digital teams for Central Asia and other areas where Russia supports frozen conflicts.” It created a Russian-language TV program carried by 25 outlets in eight countries along Russia’s periphery, including Ukraine,” to “correct the disinformation that is driving conflict in the region.”

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty also funds an online magazine, The Interpreter, which in the words of one enthusiastic supporter, “relentlessly exposes the liars, scaremongers and cranks who feature on RT’s programmes.”

So all this heated concern among Western politicians, military brass and policy analysts over Russia’s “information warfare” comes despite the tiny market share of Russia-funded media outlets in the West and enormous spending by the U.S. government on its own propaganda.

It also comes despite the almost suffocating homogeneity of major U.S. media and politicians in their condemnation of Russia governance and policies. As the noted Russia scholar Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus at New York University and Princeton University, has rued, virtually no conflict in recent memory has attracted less debate than America’s dangerous revival of the Cold War with the world’s only other nuclear superpower.

Perhaps the “information warfare” alarmists worry that some Russian claims might contain enough truth to sow seeds of doubt in Western minds and spark that long-overdue debate. But spending tens of millions of additional taxpayer dollars to swamp Russia’s voice with our own government’s version of truth is no way to realize the democratic values we profess.

America needs to hear a wider range of opinion — not because Russia deserves particular support, but because wise policy cannot emerge from today’s group think.

Jonathan Marshall is author or co-author of five books on international affairs, including The Lebanese Connection: Corruption, Civil War and the International Drug Traffic (Stanford University Press, 2012).

April 14, 2016 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | Leave a comment

Syrian General Elections Update

By Stephen Lendman | April 14, 2016

On Thursday, 7,000 polling stations in 13 of Syria’s 15 provinces opened at 7AM, ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra controlled Raqqa and Idlib excluded for obvious reasons.

Scheduled to remain open until 7PM, the deadline was extended to midnight to accommodate heavy turnout, results to follow when tabulations are completed.

US elections are farcical by comparison, meaningless money controlled exercises serving wealth, power and privilege exclusively.

Syrians have the real thing. Washington mocked their democratic process, saying it doesn’t reflect “the will of the people,” polar opposite reality.

Internally displaced Syrians and others in terrorist controlled areas could vote if able to get to polling stations anywhere in the country.

Washington and its rogue allies only recognize election results in countries under pro-Western regimes – including in ruthless ones like Saudi Arabia, other Gulf states, Egypt, Turkey, Israel and elsewhere.

The democratic “will of the people” is called illegitimate in sovereign independent states like Syria, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba and elsewhere.

Media scoundrels mocked Syria’s electoral process as expected, suppressing hard truths, featuring misinformation and Big Lies like always.

The New York Times mocked reality, calling Syria’s parliament “a largely powerless body… in a country where nearly every decision rests with President Bashar al-Assad.”

Thursday’s elections showed nationwide solidarity, genuine overwhelming support for Assad and his government. The Times turned truth on its head claiming they “highlight divisions and uncertainty.”

A litany of additional lies followed, including claiming low turnout in Damascus where huge crowds queued to vote, and suggesting some Assad supporters cast multiple ballot despite no evidence indicating voting irregularities.

The neocon Washington Post denounced what it called “a farce,” an utter perversion of truth. It claimed Thursday’s elections “snub(bed) Russia,” ignoring its Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, calling them a “major factor of stabilization in the country.”

Final results may be known later today. A follow-up article will discuss them.

Stephen Lendman can be reached at

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

April 14, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 2 Comments

Putin: Ankara ‘not so much fights radicals as cooperates with them,’ civil war underway in Turkey

RT | April 14, 2016

The Turkish authorities are not so much fighting with the radicals, but working side by side with them instead, Russian President Vladimir Putin said during his annual Q&A session, noting that there is a civil war going on in southern Turkey.

“We believe that the current Turkish leadership not so much fights the radicals, but rather cooperates with them,” Putin said.

“In fact, there is a civil war going on in southern Turkey. We try to ignore it, the international community pretends not to notice it, but it’s a fact. Moreover, [the war goes on] with the use of heavy weaponry and equipment, artillery and so on,” he said, highlighting the fact that terrorist attacks take place in Turkey “nearly each week.”

Commenting on the possibility of Russian tourists returning to the ‘Turkish Riviera’, Putin said that there are no security guarantees for Russians in Turkey.

“The Turkish leadership will seek to ensure the safety of tourists, but the big question is whether they will succeed in doing this,” he added.

April 14, 2016 Posted by | Deception, War Crimes | | Leave a comment

Children Behind Bars


April 14, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | 1 Comment