Aletho News


Trump’s Venezuela Fiasco

By Ron Paul | January 28, 2019

Last week President Trump announced that the United States would no longer recognize Nicholas Maduro as president of Venezuela and would recognize the head of its national assembly, Jose Guaido, as president instead. US thus openly backs regime change. But what has long been a dream of the neocons may well turn out to be a nightmare for President Trump.

Why did Trump declare that the Venezuelan president was no longer the president? According to the State Department, the Administration was acting to help enforce the Venezuelan constitution. If only they were so eager to enforce our own Constitution!

It’s ironic that a president who has spent the first two years in office fighting charges that a foreign country meddled in the US elections would turn around and not only meddle in foreign elections but actually demand the right to name a foreign country’s president! How would we react if the Chinese and Russians decided that President Trump was not upholding the US Constitution and recognized Speaker Nancy Pelosi as US president instead?

Even those who would like to see a change of government in Venezuela should reject any notion that the change must be “helped” by the United States. According to press reports, Vice President Mike Pence was so involved in internal Venezuelan affairs that he actually urged Guaido to name himself president and promised US support. This is not only foolish, it is very dangerous. A Venezuelan civil war would result in mass death and even more economic misery!

Regime change has long been US policy for Venezuela. The US has been conducting economic warfare practically since Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chavez, was first elected in 1998. The goal of US sanctions and other economic measures against Venezuela (and other countries in Washington’s crosshairs) is to make life so miserable for average citizens that they rise up and overthrow their leaders. But of course once they do so they must replace those leaders with someone approved by Washington. Remember after the “Arab Spring” in Egypt when the people did rise up and overthrow their leader, but they then elected the “wrong” candidate. The army moved in and deposed the elected president and replaced him with a Washington-approved politician. Then-Secretary of State John Kerry called it “restoring democracy.”

It is tragically comical that President Trump has named convicted criminal Elliot Abrams as his point person to “restore democracy” in Venezuela. Abrams played a key role in the Iran-Contra affair and went on to be one of the chief architects of the disastrous US invasion of Iraq in 2003. His role in helping promote the horrible violence in Latin America in the 1980s should disqualify him from ever holding public office again.

Instead of this ham-fisted coup d’etat, a better policy for Venezuela these past 20 years would have been engagement and trade. If we truly believe in the superiority of a free market system we must also believe that we can only lead by example, not by forcing our system on others.

Just four months ago President Trump said at the UN: “I honor the right of every nation in this room to pursue its own customs, beliefs, and traditions. The United States will not tell you how to live or work or worship. We only ask that you honor our sovereignty in return.” Sadly it seems that these were merely empty words. We know from Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc. that this will not end well for President Trump. Or for the United States. We must leave Venezuela alone!

January 28, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 1 Comment

NewsGuard: A Neoconservative Contrivance Which Promotes an Establishment View

By Philip Giraldi | American Herald Tribune | January 28, 2019

There’s a new thought policeman in town. He calls himself NewsGuard and he promises to restore “Trust and Accountability” to what one reads online. His website elaborates that “NewsGuard uses journalism to fight false news, misinformation, and disinformation. Our trained analysts, who are experienced journalists, research online news brands to help readers and viewers know which ones are trying to do legitimate journalism—and which are not… Our Green-Red ratings signal if a website is trying to get it right or instead has a hidden agenda or knowingly publishes falsehoods or propaganda.”

One might well stop reading immediately after running into “our trained analysts” with all that implies, but that would deny the greater pleasure derived from considering news-sites that have “… a hidden agenda or knowingly [publish] falsehoods or propaganda.” Excuse me, but hidden agendas, lies and propaganda are what the mainstream media is all about, note particularly the recent feeding frenzy over the Covington school incident at the Lincoln Memorial. Catholic racist white boys vs. elderly Native American war hero was how the story was framed all over the mainstream media before it became clear that the entire chosen narrative was upside down. Only a couple of news outlets bothered to apologize when the truth became known.

NewsGuard claims to have a staff of 50 that evaluates 2,000 websites in something like real time. How exactly it does that is not clear, but The New York Times repeats company claims that “the sites it rates account for 96% of online news and information engagement in the U.S.” NewsGuard also told The Times that it intends to quadruple its vetting of sites and seeks to make its coverage “ubiquitous.”

Make no mistake, NewsGuard is a neoconservative contrivance which promotes an establishment view of what is true and what is false. Its co-founder Gordon Crovitz is an ex-editor of The Wall Street Journal, who has enthused over the project, saying that it is “a milestone in the fight to bring consumers the information they need to counter false information, misinformation and disinformation online.” Crovitz has also been associated with the leading neocon foundation The American Enterprise Institute while the NewsGuard advisory board includes Tom Ridge, who was head of the Department of Homeland Security under George W. Bush, and Michael Hayden, who directed both the CIA and NSA. It is as government-establishment in orientation as it is possible to be.

In a sense seeking to establish “accuracy” in news reporting is nothing new as the social media, to include Facebook and Twitter, have had that objective for some time, but NewsGuard defines itself as having as its target the screening of the entire media in a politically impartial fashion, as “an information resource.” And the real danger is that it will soon be appearing on your computer or phone whether you want it there or not. It is already installed on local library computers in Hawaii and Ohio and is working with university and even high school libraries to include its software on all public computers. Worse still, NewsGuard is in partnership with Microsoft as part of the latter’s Defending Democracy Program. Microsoft currently has NewsGuard on its Edge browser and it intends to install the tool on its Microsoft 10 operating system as a built-in feature. Microsoft 10 is the standard operating system on nearly all computers sold in the United States.

When you go to a news site NewsGuard has a little shield that pops up in the corner of your screen that will tell you whether that site is a reliable source or not. A green tag displays for approved and red for not compliant. Similarly, if you do a search the responses that come up will feature a green or red shield as part of the results. The site for NBC news shows green, approved, with the heading “this website generally maintains basic standards of accuracy and accountability.” It then uses what it calls a “nutrition label” to break down the nine specific areas that were assessed, each of which also receives and individual green check for NBC. Under “Credibility” appears “Does not repeatedly publish false content; Gathers and presents information responsibly; Regularly corrects or clarifies errors; Handles the difference between news and opinion responsibly; and Avoids deceptive headlines.” Under “Accountability” appears “Website discloses ownership and financing; Clearly labels advertising; Reveals who’s in charge including any possible conflict of interest; and The site provides names of any content creators along with either contact or biographical information.”

The first thing one might observe about the system is that it is designed to favor large, well-funded establishment news sources that are staffed to go through the motions of fact checks and corrections. All of the major news networks are approved, including Fox, MSNBC and CNN, all of which editorialize heavily, almost constantly, in their news coverage. Voice of America, which is a U.S. government propaganda instrument by design, also is approved. NewsGuard also has approved all major newspapers to include The New York Times, which frequently gets the story wrong, and The Washington Post, where news stories are nearly indistinguishable from editorials through the use of evocative headlines and slanted narrative. All the U.S. media currently lead off, for example, with stories about Russia that include the assertion that the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 election, a claim that has yet to be confirmed through actual evidence.

Russian media operating in the U.S. including RT America and Sputnik get red ratings with a warning “Proceed with caution: this website fails to basic standards of accuracy and accountability.” RT is apparently guilty of “repeatedly publishing false content,” “not gather[ing] and publish[ing] information responsibly,” “not handl[ing] the difference between news and opinion responsibly” and “not provid[ing] the names of creators.” Al-Jazeera, another news service that often criticizes the United States and its governmental policies also is rated red, suggesting that the true criterion for rejection by NewsGuard is one’s relationship to the official establishment and globalist/interventionist line being promoted by the United States.

A glaring example of NewsGuard’s political bias relates to BuzzFeed, which is an approved site. The Washington Post reported recently how a BuzzFeed story about Michael Cohen and President Trump claimed that the president had directed his lawyer to lie to Congress regarding a proposed office tower project in Moscow, which would have been both a crime and impeachable. A day later Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office intervened and described the story as untrue. The New York Times ran the first story on page one but the retraction that followed appeared on page 11.

And it was not the first major bit of fake news for BuzzFeed. The same two journalists had previously reported that Russia had financed the 2016 election.

CNN, another NewsGuard green authority, inevitably bemoaned possible consequences arising from the Cohen-Trump story by complaining that it would be used to justify “bad stereotypes about the news media,” had its own Russiagate misstep when it falsely claimed that Donald Trump Jr had had access to WikiLeaks’ DNC emails before their 2016 publication.

The BBC, yet another reliable source approved by NewsGuard, reported back in September that the U.S. government had evidence that the Syrian “regime” was continuing to develop chemical weapons. It added an assessment from the completely befuddled U.S. envoy for Syria James Jeffrey that “President Assad had ‘no future as a ruler’ in Syria… Right now [the Syrian government] is a cadaver sitting in rubble with just half the territory of Syria under regime control on a good day.”

The fact is that Jeffrey was completely wrong about developments in Syria, where the government had been extremely successful in re-asserting control over nearly all of the country, while the claims of chemical weapons use have been rebutted many times, including by actual witnesses and journalists on the ground during the alleged attack at Douma in April.

Reuters news agency, yet another NewsGuard green light, is also into the game. In November 2013 it published an article, part of a series, entitled “Khamenei controls massive financial empire based on property seizures,” which claimed that an Iranian government charitable foundation called Setad (also known as EIKO) actually exists to take control of property for the use of the government’s religious leadership.

A subsequent news report that appeared in January in the alternative media revealed that the investigative journalists who wrote the story did so from Dubai, London and New York and never visited the properties they identified, in most cases completely misrepresenting what could be seen on the ground.

Robert Fontina at Counterpunch has also rejected the depiction of Setad as anything but a charitable foundation. The truth is that Setad engages in major social projects, including rural poverty alleviation, empowering women, home and school building, and provision of healthcare. Fontina observes that American sanctions against it and similar entities hit ordinary Iranians’ lives by producing food insecurity while also restricting the supplies of needed medications. Ahmad Noroozi of the Barakat Foundation claims that numerous Iranians have already been affected by U.S.-initiated sanctions directed against his country, restricting access to cancer treatments and other pharmaceuticals.

So who gets the endorsement from NewsGuard? Those who toe the line on U.S. policy and the establishment globalist/interventionist agenda. It would be interesting to know what NewsGuard’s staff of analysts is really looking for when it researches a site or media outlet. As the examples cited above demonstrate, NewsGuard has nothing to do with taking pains to report the news accurately, nor is there any evidence of real accountability. It is all about who pays the bills and who is in charge. They give the orders and one either falls in line or goes out the door. That is the reality of today’s mainstream media.

Philip M. Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer who served nineteen years overseas in Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Spain.

January 28, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , , | 1 Comment

End All Interventionism, Not Just in Venezuela

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | January 28, 2019

It truly is phenomenal. The massive death and destruction from U.S. interventionism in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and the rest of the Middle East isn’t even over with, and yet interventionist dead-enders are now shifting their sights to Venezuela. One almost gets the impression that the dead-enders are saying to America, “Please, give us one more chance. We promise we’ll get it right this time.”

Obviously, the dead-enders are hoping that Americans forget the unmitigated disasters that interventionism has produced on this side of the world, such as in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Cuba, Chile, and others.

The time has come for the American people to raise their sights to a higher level, one that involves not only rejecting more interventionism in Venezuela but one that rejects interventionism entirely. It is the only solution to the foreign policy-woes in which interventionist dead-enders have mired our nation.

That necessarily means the following:

  • Bring home all U.S. troops from everywhere and discharge them into the private sector, since they will no longer be needed.
  • Abandon all U.S. military bases in foreign countries, including the Pentagon’s and CIA’s torture and prison center in Cuba.
  • End all foreign aid, including to pro-U.S. dictatorial regimes.
  • Restore a limited-government republic to our land, which necessarily means the dismantling of the national-security state branch of the federal government (i.e., the Pentagon, military-industrial complex, CIA, and NSA).

If Americans were to do those four things, the United States would be well on its way toward achieving a peaceful, prosperous, harmonious, and free society, which, needless to say, would be completely different from the type of society in which we live today, thanks to those interventionist dead-enders.

Think Switzerland. Unlike the U.S. government, the Swiss government is based on the concept of non-interventionism, which, by the way, was the founding foreign policy of the United States. Unlike the U.S. government, the Swiss government hasn’t been imposing sanctions on the Venezuelan people in the hopes of starting a violent revolution that has the potential of killing and injuring untold numbers of people, like in Syria. The Swiss government also hasn’t recognized an alternative president in Venezuela, like the U.S. government has, again in the hopes of inciting a violent revolution.

Instead, the Swiss government takes the position that Venezuela is none of Switzerland’s business. Venezuela is the business of the Venezuelan people. If they wish to start a revolution knowing that there will likely be a high toll in terms of death and destruction, that’s their decision, not that of the Swiss government.

Thus, Switzerland butts out of Venezuela’s turmoil. The Swiss government limits itself to defending Switzerland. And no one, not even the U.S. government, jacks with the Swiss.

That’s the model for the United States. Stop being the world’s buttinski, invader, occupier, assassin, torturer, sanctioner, embargoer, kidnapper, dictator-aider, and regime-changer. Just butt out of everyone else’s wars, problems, conflicts, and hostilities. Instead, restore America’s founding principle of non-interventionism and lead the world to peace, prosperity, harmony, and liberty.

January 28, 2019 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

Venezuela’s Gold: 3 Times State Wealth in Western Banks “Mysteriously” Vanished

Sputnik | January 28, 2019

Self-proclaimed Venezuelan interim president Juan Guaido has praised the Bank of England’s reported refusal to allow Caracas to repatriate $1.2 billion worth of gold bullion, branding the move a “protection of assets.” Sputnik looks at a few other times Western governments and banks froze, or outright stole, the sovereign wealth of other countries.

Caracas has been waging a losing battle to get its gold back from the UK since late last year, with the Bank of England repeatedly refusing its repatriation requests, according to media reports. Last week, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt joined Britain’s US allies in backing Juan Guaido, calling him “the right person to take Venezuela forward” and making the return of Venezuela’s gold all the more unlikely. Over the weekend, as if on cue, Guaido praised London’s decision not to return the gold.

All Part of the Job

The practice of freezing or seizing the assets of countries which somehow find themselves on the wrong side of US and European policymakers and financial interests is anything but new. A 1992 review of US extraterritorial asset freeze orders by legal scholar Rachel Gerstenhaber recounted well over a dozen cases of the US freezing or confiscating assets of countries including the likes of Iraq, Panama, Libya, Iran, South Vietnam, Cuba, Nicaragua and a bevy of former Eastern Bloc states. The list doesn’t include similar moves by US allies in Western Europe, which similarly deprived countries of tens of billions of dollars in sovereign assets. For the sake of brevity, Sputnik focuses on three such cases.


The 40-year-old saga of Iran’s frozen assets goes back to the 1979 Iranian Revolution, which saw revolutionaries overthrow US-backed dictator Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi and the establishment of an Islamic republic. The upheaval, which included the taking of hostages at the US Embassy in Tehran, prompted Washington to cut off diplomatic relations, ban Iranian oil imports and freeze some $11 billion in assets ($35.35 billion today, accounting for inflation).On the eve of the signing of the landmark Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), widely known as the Iran nuclear deal, in 2015, Tehran’s frozen assets, including those stemming from the 1979 Revolution, as well as international nuclear-related restrictions, were estimated to amount to at least $100 billion. The chief of Iran’s central bank said that only about $32 billion, a third of the total, could be released in connection with the nuclear deal.

Over three years after the JCPOA’s signature, the fate of much of the wealth remains unclear. What is known is that US courts have heard multiple cases demanding the outright seizure of the Islamic Republic’s wealth. This includes a 2016 ruling ordering Iranian cash to be paid to the families of US servicemen killed in the 23 October, 1983 truck bombings in Beirut, Lebanon. Tehran maintains that it had nothing to do with the act of terrorism, and has challenged the ruling with the International Court of Justice, so far unsuccessfully.

In a separate, even more outrageous ruling from 2018, a New York court ordered frozen Iranian assets to be used to compensate the victims of 9/11, despite the fact that Iran had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks and that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals.


In the run-up to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, the military planning to seize the country’s strategic assets was accompanied by economic calculations to seize some $1.75 billion in Iraqi assets already frozen in US accounts.

The seizure was just the tip of the iceberg in what would become what seems like a bottomless pit of asset pilfering in the chaos which followed the invasion. In 2010, a Pentagon audit concluded that it couldn’t account for some $8.7 billion in missing Iraqi oil and gas money meant for reconstruction.

Earlier, US media sporadically reported on the enthralling case of some $10-$20 billion in cash, most of it consisting of Iraqi state assets, which was shipped into Iraq in 2004 for reconstruction efforts before seemingly vanishing into thin air.In a 2005 audit, US inspector general for Iraq reconstruction Stuart W. Bowen Jr. reported that over $8.8 billion in the funds could not be accounted for. Six years later, Bowen told Congress that US officials still hadn’t accounted for some $6.6 billion in funds, and said the case could very well be “the largest theft of funds in national history.”


The details of the suspected plundering of a major chunk of Libya’s vast sovereign wealth fund in the aftermath of the NATO intervention to overthrow Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi remain shrouded in mystery, close to eight years after the attack. In late 2018, officials from one of Libya’s warring factions called on the UN Security Council to safeguard what’s left of the Libyan assets still frozen in foreign accounts.

The concerns came following reports last March that some 10 billion euros (approximately $11.4 billion US) in Libyan sovereign wealth had disappeared from a Belgian bank, with just 5 billion euros of the original 16 billion euro fund remaining. Last September, a UN panel found Belgium to be in breach of asset freeze restrictions, with interest payments on some of the Libyan funds feared to have been transferred to accounts belonging to warring militias, including Islamists. Authorities from the Tripoli-based government later alleged that the United Arab Emirates were “almost certainly” behind the pilfering, saying the funds were used to support the Tobruk-based government in eastern Libya.

The scandal is just one of numerous major asset freezes and seizures by Western powers in the aftermath of Gaddafi’s demise. In 2012, over a billion euros in assets belonging to Gaddafi’s family and senior members of his government were seized in Italy at the request of the International Criminal Court, including stakes in major Italian companies, as well as property.

A year before that, the Obama administration froze $29.8 billion in Libyan wealth held in US banks including Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and the Carlyle Group.

The assets, along with $40 billion more in funds held elsewhere, were reported to have been unfrozen in December of 2011. However, UN officials later said that only about $3 billion of that had actually reached the country “due to concerns over who the money should be released to and other diplomatic problems.” In late 2018, the head of Libya’s sovereign wealth fund told Reuters that the fund was planning to appoint auditors to carry out a system-wide audit of its assets in 2019 to try to unfreeze some of the billions in assets still frozen. As of late last year, an estimated 70 percent of the Libyan Investment Authority’s $67 billion in assets abroad remain frozen by the UN.

Also in 2018, British lawmakers mulled pulling a US courts-style seizure of part of Libya’s sovereign wealth fund to compensate victims of the Irish Republican Army, which Gaddafi is thought to have sponsored in the 1980s.

An estimated 9.5 billion pounds ($12.5 billion US) of Libya’s wealth is still believed to be held in British banks. Tripoli has urged London not to go ahead with the seizure. “There is no lawful basis for the United Kingdom to seize or change ownership of the frozen LIA assets. These belong to the Libyan people,” Libyan Investment Authority chief Ali Mahmoud Hassan Mohamed said in a letter addressed to the UK’s Junior Foreign Minister Alistair Burt last October.

The unscrupulous use of Libyan national wealth hasn’t been limited to post-Gaddafi Libya, either. Last year, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was charged with bribery and accepting some 50 million euros in illegal campaign contributions from Libya ahead of the 2007 presidential election in France. Sarkozy repaid this generosity by being one of the key advocates of the 2011 NATO attack on Libya.

Caracas’s Bullion

On Sunday, Argentinian newspaper Ambito Financiero reported that Venezuelan national assembly head Juan Guaido had asked Prime Minister May and Bank of England governor Mark Carney not to return the estimated $1.2 billion in gold bullion to Caracas, despite President Maduro’s requests. Earlier, in a Saturday tweet, Guaido praised the Bank’s alleged refusal to allow the gold to be repatriated, writing that “the process of protecting the assets of Venezuela has begun,” and saying that the opposition would “not allow more abuse and theft of money intended for food, medicine and the future of our children.”

If the stories of asset freezes and seizures outlined above are anything to go by, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be up to the Venezuelans to decide what Western governments and central banks do with their country’s wealth.

See also:

Libya Investigates Who Benefited From Gaddafi’s Billions Frozen in Belgium

January 28, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | 3 Comments

US announces sanctions against Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA

RT | January 28, 2019

Washington has imposed sanctions against the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, seizing $7 billion in assets, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said. The US is trying to force recognition of Juan Guaido as president in Caracas.

Munchin said that the move is to “to help prevent the further diversion” of assets by “former president Maduro.”

Sanctions will be lifted upon the “expeditious transfer of control to the interim president, or the subsequently democratically elected interim government,” he added.

“We know what the legitimate government of Venezuela is, and it is our mission to make reality what the people of Venezuela want,” National Security Adviser John Bolton chimed in, standing next to Mnuchin during the briefing at the White House on Monday.

Washington immediately recognized Guaido as the head of the state after he declared himself interim president last week. US allies in the region and in Europe supported him as well.

The US buys a significant amount of Venezuelan oil, but Mnuchin said the sanctions would have “modest effect” on American refineries.

Citgo will continue operating in the US, but all profits from its sales will have to go into a blocked account, which will only be made available to Guaido’s government, the Treasury secretary explained.

“These are valuable assets we’re protecting for the benefit of the Venezuelan people,” Mnuchin argued.

Asked what the US options were if the Venezuelan military remains loyal to Maduro, Bolton said that a number of high-ranking officers, as well as rank and file, are in “significant contacts” with the US-backed regime of Juan Guaido.

January 28, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , | 1 Comment

Justin Trudeau, Enough Disinformation! Canadians Do Support BDS!

The Canadian BDS Coalition sent an Open Letter to the Government of Canada, regarding their involvement in the upcoming CanaDanse Festival in Israel. (Photo: via Social Media)
By Marion Kawas – Palestine Chronicle – January 28, 2019

On January 15, 2019, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau further embellished his “trash talk” on BDS by responding to a questioner at a town hall meeting with announcing he will “continue to condemn the BDS movement”. The prime minister also repeated the claim that BDS is “anti-Semitic” and alleged that Jewish students are fearful and targeted on campuses “because of their religion” due to BDS-linked intimidation.

Trudeau is now fully exposed to all, especially those who might have been previously swayed by his slick image and marketing; the lines are clear, if you support Palestinian rights, you can no longer pretend that Trudeau is anything but a continuation of the Stephen Harper legacy.

He does not represent the majority of people in Canada on BDS or Palestine, or on any indigenous issues for that matter. A national survey done almost two years ago in Canada as to how people felt about boycotts found that seventy-eight percent of Canadians said they believe the Palestinians’ call for a boycott is “reasonable”. The disconnect by Trudeau and his government on this issue is intentional and politically motivated. His collaboration with the Zionist lobby is well-documented but let’s suffice by saying that none other than Gilan Erdan, the Israeli BDS-busting cabinet minister, personally congratulated Trudeau on his most recent condemnations of BDS.

Against this backdrop, you might think that BDS activism in Canada would suffer a setback. Not so! In the last 3 months, activists in Vancouver and across the country have been engaged in a campaign against 3 different ballet companies, as well as several levels of government, that were involved in the CanaDanse Festival in Israel.

The initiators of the campaign, BDS Vancouver, were truly inspired by the immediate and overwhelming public reaction and the sense of outrage at the involvement of Ballet BC (and the other participants/sponsors) in this art-washing of Israeli war crimes. It clearly showed that people both within Canada (and globally as the campaign spread) are more than ready to embrace BDS and have strong feelings about why Israeli government policies require sanctions from all sectors of society, both institutional and civic.

The first focal point of the campaign was the petition to Ballet BC, which has now gotten more than 10,300 signatures. However, the campaign went far beyond just the petition and emphasized gathering support from activist groups across Canada as well as from within Israel itself (Boycott from Within). It also included leafleting Ballet BC performances, and extensive outreach through social media and other avenues.

Why did Ballet BC make this first ever trip to perform in Israel? Why now, with all the horrific things happening on the ground? Was it just part of the increasing moves by the Israeli government to emphasize cultural ties to whitewash its image?

Curiously, Ballet BC lists 11 choreographers for its 2018-19 season, and 4 of those 11 are Israeli, with 3 of them citing strong ties with the Israeli Batsheva dance company on their public profiles. Batsheva has a long history of flaunting the BDS call and is often touted as a cultural ambassador for Israel.

Activists were also shocked to find that the Israeli consulate in Canada back in May 2017 was a sponsor for one of Ballet BC’s performances by Ohad Naharin, probably the best known of the 4 mentioned choreographers. They had hoped that Naharin, who recently stepped down as Artistic Director at Batsheva after 30 years, might seize this moment and this change of company to act upon his professed support for Palestinians. They were disappointed.

As they were disappointed by the Georgia Straight, Vancouver’s leading “progressive” newspaper and also one of Ballet BC’s most ardent media supporters. Despite many attempts to contact Georgia Straight with press releases and other information, the paper never covered the campaign calling out Ballet BC for performing in Israel. In contrast, one of the 2 corporate media sponsors of Ballet BC, City (CityNews ), ran an extensive article early in the campaign presenting both the activists’ demands and Ballet BC’s response. Given the Georgia Straight’s history as an “anti-establishment alternative to Vancouver’s conservative daily newspapers”, and some good coverage in the past of Palestinian events, activists were baffled (and still are) as to why this story was so “off bounds”.

Despite the herculean efforts of the Israeli government to tarnish and smear the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement as “racist and divisive”, even “terrorist”, BDS campaigns continue to increase in popularity with an expanding breadth of support. And the Ballet BC campaign is just one example of that. The more the Israeli government rants about BDS, the more it seems to grow in strength. 2018 was a pivotal year in exposing the brutality of the Israeli government towards Palestinians, especially in the Great Return March, and we may have reached a watershed moment for BDS that can only intensify.

– Marion Kawas is a member of the Canada Palestine Association and co-host of Voice of Palestine. Visit:

January 28, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

IRmep Lawsuit: US nuclear “policy substitution” for Israel undermines NPT, AECA and bilks US taxpayers

By Ryan Dawson | ANTI neocon Report | January 26, 2019

On January 17, IRmep filed a 59-page brief (PDF HTML) in a lawsuit demanding release of a series of secret presidential letters promising not to force Israel to sign the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) or publicly discuss Israel’s nuclear weapons program.

The brief contextualizes a formerly top-secret 1969 cross-agency study about what U.S. policy toward Israel’s nuclear weapons should be. Unanimous consensus between the Departments of Defense, State and intelligence community was that Israel should be compelled to sign the NPT in order to be allowed to purchase conventional U.S. military weapons. Government agencies correctly believed that if Israel was allowed to possess nuclear weapons there would never be peace in the Middle East. National security adviser Henry Kissinger also grudgingly revealed intelligence in the summary that Israelis had stolen U.S. government nuclear material to build their arsenal atomic weapons. (1969 NSC papers on the Israeli nuclear weapons program filed as Exhibit A PDF)

Going against the consensus advice, on September 26, 1969, President Nixon adopted the Israeli policy of “ambiguity” (never confirming or denying Israel’s nuclear weapons program) in a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. US presidents through Donald Trump have continued the Israeli “ambiguity” policy in a series of letters written under intense lobbying by the Israeli government.

According to the IRmep legal filing, this policy has perpetuated a $222.8 billion dollar fraud against U.S. taxpayers through non-enforcement of Arms Export Control Act bans on U.S. foreign aid—absent specific waivers—to known foreign nuclear powers that have not signed the NPT. The IRmep filing also debunks a series of assertions and disinformation filed in an affidavit by the National Security Council

On January 18, 2019 the Department of Justice filed a motion to indefinitely stop the lawsuit from proceeding until the end of the government shutdown, citing lack of funds to mount a legal defense. (PDF)

Listen to a discussion about next steps for this critical IRmep litigation and our other lawsuits on the Scott Horton Show (MP3).

January 28, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 1 Comment

Benny Gantz and Israel’s drive to become a modern-day Sparta

The former army chief may present a challenge to Benjamin Netanyahu, but his campaign’s exultation of destruction and oppression is chilling

By Jonathon Cook | The National | 27 January 2019

With April’s elections looming, Benjamin Netanyahu has good reason to fear Benny Gantz, his former army chief. Gantz has launched a new party, named Israeli Resilience, just as the net of corruption indictments is closing around the prime minister.

Already, at this early stage of campaigning, some 31 per cent of the Israeli public prefer Gantz to head the next government over Netanyahu, who is only months away from becoming the longest-serving leader in Israel’s history.

Gantz is being feted as the new hope, a chance to change direction after a series of governments under Netanyahu’s leadership have over the past decade shifted Israel ever further to the right.

Like Israel’s former politician generals, from Yitzhak Rabin to Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon, Gantz is being portrayed – and portraying himself – as a battle-hardened warrior, able to make peace from a position of strength.

Before he had issued a single policy statement, polls showed him winning 15 of the 120 parliamentary seats, a welcome sign for those hoping that a centre-left coalition can triumph this time.

But the reality of what Gantz stands for – revealed this week in his first election videos – is far from reassuring.

In 2014, he led Israel into its longest and most savage military operation in living memory: 50 days in which the tiny coastal enclave of Gaza was bombarded relentlessly.

By the end, one of the most densely populated areas on earth – its two million inhabitants already trapped by a lengthy Israeli blockade – lay in ruins. More than 2,200 Palestinians were killed in the onslaught, a quarter of them children, while tens of thousands were left homeless.

The world watched, appalled. Investigations by human rights groups such as Amnesty International concluded that Israel had committed war crimes.

One might have assumed that during the election campaign Gantz would wish to draw a veil over this troubling period in his military career. Not a bit of it.

One of his campaign videos soars over the rubble of Gaza, proudly declaring that Gantz was responsible for destroying many thousands of buildings. “Parts of Gaza have been returned to the Stone Age,” the video boasts.

This is a reference to the Dahiya doctrine, a strategy devised by the Israeli military command of which Gantz was a core member. The aim is to lay waste to the modern infrastructure of Israel’s neighbours, forcing survivors to eke out a bare existence rather than resist Israel.

The collective punishment inherent in the apocalyptic Dahiya doctrine is an undoubted war crime.

More particularly, the video exults in the destruction of Rafah, a city in Gaza that suffered the most intense bout of bombing after an Israeli soldier was seized by Hamas. In minutes, Israel’s indiscriminate bombardment killed at least 135 Palestinian civilians and wrecked a hospital.

According to investigations, Israel had invoked the Hannibal Procedure, the code name for an order allowing the army to use any means to stop one of its soldiers being taken. That includes killing civilians as “collateral damage” and, more controversially for Israelis, the soldier himself.

Gantz’s video flashes up a grand total of “1,364 terrorists killed”, in return for “three-and-a-half years of quiet”. As Israel’s liberal Haaretz daily observed, the video “celebrates a body count as if this were just some computer game”.

But the casualty figure cited by Gantz exceeds even the Israel army’s self-serving assessment – as well, of course, as dehumanising those “terrorists” fighting for their freedom.

A more impartial observer, Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, estimates that the Palestinian fighters killed by Israel amounted to 765. By their reckoning, and that of other bodies such as the United Nations, almost two-thirds of Gazans killed in Israel’s 2014 operation were civilians.

Further, the “quiet” Gantz credits himself with was enjoyed chiefly by Israel.

In Gaza, Palestinians faced regular military attacks, a continuing siege choking off essential supplies and destroying their export industries, and a policy of executions by Israeli snipers firing on unarmed demonstrators at the perimeter fence imprisoning the enclave.

Gantz’s campaign slogans “Only the Strong Wins” and “Israel Before Everything” are telling. Everything, for Gantz, clearly includes human rights.

It is shameful enough that he believes his track record of war crimes will win over voters. But the same approach has been voiced by Israel’s new military chief of staff.

Aviv Kochavi, nicknamed the Philosopher Officer for his university studies, was inaugurated this month as the army’s latest head. In a major speech, he promised to reinvent the fabled “most moral army in the world” into a “deadly, efficient” one.

In Kochavi’s view, the rampaging military once overseen by Gantz needs to step up its game. And he is a proven expert in destruction.

In the early stages of the Palestinian uprising that erupted in 2000, the Israeli army struggled to find a way to crush Palestinian fighters concealed in densely crowded cities under occupation.

Kochavi came up with an ingenious solution in Nablus, where he was brigade commander. The army would invade a Palestinian home, then smash through its walls, moving from house to house, burrowing through the city unseen. Palestinian space was not only usurped, but destroyed inside-out.

Gantz, the former general hoping to lead the government, and Kochavi, the general leading its army, are symptoms of just how complete the militaristic logic that has overtaken Israel really is. An Israel determined to become a modern-day Sparta.

Should he bring about Netanyahu’s downfall, Gantz, like his predecessor politician-generals, will turn out to be a hollow peace-maker. He was trained to understand only strength, zero-sum strategies, conquest and destruction, not compassion or compromise.

More dangerously, Gantz’s glorification of his military past is likely to reinforce in Israelis’ minds the need not for peace but for more of the same: support for an ultranationalist right that bathes itself in an ethnic supremacist philosophy and dismisses any recognition of the Palestinians as human beings with rights.

January 28, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 2 Comments

US Caught Helping ISIS Commanders Escape from Prison in Afghanistan

Tasnim News Agency | January 28, 2019

Kabul – A large number of prisoners, all of them senior members of Daesh (also ISIS or ISIL) terrorist group, broke out of a Taliban prison in northwest Afghanistan after US troops helped them escape through a covert operation.

According to Tasnim dispatches, American forces operating in Afghanistan carried out a secret military operation in the northwestern province of Badghis two weeks ago and helped the Daesh inmates escape the prison.

The report added that 40 Daesh ringleaders, all of them foreigners, were transferred by helicopters after American troops raided the prison and killed all its security guards.

Abdullah Afzali, deputy head of Badghis provincial council, confirmed the news.

Informed sources have given a detailed account of the US operation to rescue the Daesh forces and the developments that helped Americans pinpoint the location of the prison in the mountainous areas.

Aminullah, a man from Uzbekistan, was one of the Daesh commanders held captive in the Taliban prison. His success to escape from the prison led to the dismissal of the Taliban prison guard and his punishment.

January 28, 2019 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Daesh Militants Transfered From Pakistan to Tajikistan – Russian Official

Sputnik – January 28, 2019

Unidentified helicopters transported a large number of Daesh terrorists from Pakistan to the border with Tajikistan, close to Russia’s southern borders, Russian Deputy Interior Minister Igor Zubov said on Monday. Pakistan and Tajikistan are separated by Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor region.

According to the Russian minister, there may be some preparations for a provocation that may affect Russia.

“Daesh fighters in massive quantities were transported from Pakistani territory to the border with Tajikistan. In that area, perhaps, the militants might stage massive provocations that would result in huge amounts of refugees fleeing the territory. This would have an impact on Russia,” Zubov said.

This comes after earlier Col. Gen. Andrey Novikov, the head of the Commonwealth of Independent States Anti-Terrorism Centre, stated that Daesh terrorists were being transported to Afghanistan and Pakistan after facing defeat in Syria and Iraq.

Last year, the Syrian Arab News Agency reported that US helicopters evacuated Daesh leaders from several areas across the Syrian province of Deir ez-Zor to the country’s northeast. The US-led coalition, in turn, denied all accusations.

See also:

Is There a ‘Secret US Hand’ Supporting Daesh in Afghanistan?

January 28, 2019 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Will France pay for its nuclear testing in the Pacific Ocean?

By Sofia Pale – New Eastern Outlook – 28.01.2019

French Polynesia comprises a multitude of islands in the center of the Pacific Ocean, which are a part of France. The biggest and the most famous of these is the island of Tahiti. As in other “overseas” territories that remain under France’s dominion since colonial times, there is a powerful movement for independence in French Polynesia. Islanders take special issue with their parent country when it comes to numerous nuclear tests, which France conducted in the region in the second half of the 20th century.

Based on available data, during the period from 1966 to 1998, the French military performed 193 tests of nuclear weaponry in the atolls of Moruroa and Fangataufa, which comprise the Tuamotu Archipelago. It is public knowledge that 46 tests, conducted from 1966 to 1974, were atmospheric in nature, i.e. nuclear warheads were positioned in special towers on the Earth’s surface, on barges in lagoons, on aerostats in the air, and were also dropped from planes and detonated in the air. It is noteworthy that in 1963, the USSR, the USA and Great Britain signed the Treaty of Moscow, which banned nuclear weapon tests in the atmosphere, under water and in outer space, but France chose not to participate in this agreement.

The other 147 tests were performed underground from 1975 to 1998, with detonations taking place in 500 to 1,100-meter-deep closed vertical shafts.

It is worth mentioning that both atmospheric and underground nuclear tests were conducted on the two atolls of Moruroa and Fangataufa.

It is difficult to say which approach is more harmful to the environment and population’s health. A nuclear detonation in the atmosphere causes a rapid dispersion of radioactive substances over a large area, which soon have an effect on well-being of residents living in this area. After an underground test, a lot of harmful compounds could remain in a shaft, where the detonation took place, for quite a number of years. However with time, these substances, via various routes, such as underground waters, could pollute the surrounding area, and their effect may be more long-lasting and permanent than after-effects following a detonation in the atmosphere, which gradually subside with the help of winds and rains.

Either way, for a long time the French leadership asserted that the tests conducted in the Tuamotu Archipelago had no effect on either the environment or the residents of French Polynesia. However, even in the 1960s, many did not believe this to be true. For decades, the media have published increasingly frightening data about the state of the atoll environment and the fate of people who were in surrounding areas during nuclear testing. It was reported that French politicians and high-ranking military personnel often ignored warnings made by scientists about consequences of nuclear detonations. As a result, residents of near by areas were not evacuated, while French servicemen, who carried out these tests, did not have access to protective gear. In the 1980s the French military leadership attempted to convince the public that it possessed technology of a “clean bomb”, but few believed such statements. Even a stage-managed swim, taken by the French Defence Minister, Paul Quilès, in the lagoon of the Moruroa atoll 5 hours after yet another scheduled test in 1985 did not help matters (interestingly, he is alive and well at present).

In the end, the French Polynesian government managed to receive financial compensation from France, which makes annual payments for damage caused by nuclear testing. This money is a significant contribution to French Polynesia’s budget.

In addition, in 2001 two organizations were established in France. Their aims are to prove that the French government caused harm to a large number of people with its testing and to secure compensation for these people. These organizations are Association des vétérans des essais nucléaires (AVEN, Nuclear Test Veterans Association), which comprises French service personnel who took part in the testing, and Moruroa e tatou (Moruroa and us), which united workers from Moruroa testing sites together. For a number of years these bodies waged an information war against the French government, who continued to assert that the explosions in French Polynesia did not have any serious consequences.

In the end, France was forced to officially admit that thousands of people, including military personnel involved in nuclear testing as well as local residents, contracted serious diseases, including oncological, due to exposure to radiation.

In March 2009, France’s Minister of Defence, Hervé Morin, stated that overall, 150,000 residents of French Polynesia and France were affected by the French nuclear tests. In addition, he informed the public that the French Parliament was in the process of reviewing legislation on making annual targeted compensation payments to people who suffered from radiation exposure. France allocated 10 million euros for these disbursements per year. And individuals who happened to be near a nuclear testing site during detonations were no longer obliged to prove that their health problems stemmed from effects of radiation. The law was approved in 2010, however, according to data as of the end of 2018, only few people have been able to receive this compensation due to red tape. Based on some sources, in French Polynesia the number of such individuals is equivalent to dozens. Hence, the previously mentioned organizations with active support from the Assembly of French Polynesia (AFP, the local parliament) continued waging their battle.

As for the AFP, many of its members are supporters of independence of French Polynesia from France, and the damage sustained by the islands as a result of nuclear testing, is yet another trump card for them. The AFP organized numerous protests and information campaigns which demanded an admission that French Polynesia suffered from the actions taken by French military personnel. One of the key figures in this struggle became Oscar Temaru, a former President of French Polynesia, who held this post on five occasions and was the founder and leader of the party, the Front for the Liberation of Polynesia (FLP), currently known as Tavini Huiraatira (People’s Servant).

In 2013, France’s Ministry of Defence was forced to declassify a number of documents, which were immediately publicized by the media. These reports provide detailed descriptions of the effects of nuclear testing on the environment of the entire French Polynesia. For instance, the documents mention that after a series of nuclear tests, increased radiation levels exceeding safety limits were reported in Tahiti, an island in the center of French Polynesia, which is located more than 1,000 km from Moruroa and happens to be a popular international resort. Other islands of French Polynesia were reported to be in a similar situation. Furthermore, witnesses recall that there were instances when French authorities refused to evacuate residents from some French Polynesian islands that were within the fallout zone.

In November 2014, the AFP announced that it was determined to demand compensation from France for damage caused to the environment of French Polynesia, which it estimated to amount to more than 1 billion US dollars.

In October 2018, at the session of the UN Committee on Decolonization in New York, the previously mentioned politician, Oscar Temaru, affirmed that he and his allies had begun legal proceedings against France at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. France has been accused of crimes against humanity.

The same month, a court ruled to suspend Oscar Temaru from his duties within the AFP for a year as unexpectedly, fraudulent financial irregularities were uncovered during his election campaign. In November 2018, Oscar Temaru was detained for 12 hours in the course of an investigation on fund embezzlement from a local company that sponsored an opposition-friendly radio station. Now, the famous politician is awaiting trial, which will begin in June 2019. Members of the Front for the Liberation of Polynesia assert that evidence against Oscar Temaru was fabricated by the French authorities in order to ruin his reputation as a politician.

Regardless of whether these accusations are true or not, any focus on issues connected to nuclear testing in French Polynesia hurts France. As new facts about the events that transpired emerge, France’s actions in French Polynesia begin to look more and more unsightly. Environment-related crimes are among the most condemned in modern liberal European society. And the fact that France chose its “overseas” territory in the Pacific Ocean for its nuclear testing and failed to take necessary safety measures to protect local residents may be tied to even more deplorable acts, such as colonialism and racism.

Hence, France, long considered to be a bastion of European values, such as tolerance and multiculturalism, will most likely do everything in its power to reduce tensions surrounding Moruroa, Fangataufa and its nuclear program by, among other means, sidelining politicians such as Oscar Temaru.

In addition, it is important for France to dampen the separatist mood in French Polynesia so as not to lose dominion over the atolls of Moruroa and Fangataufa. After all, in order to accurately assess the environmental consequences of French nuclear testing in French Polynesia, and the potential threat to future generations of Polynesians, scientists need to conduct research in the cursed atolls. They need to determine quantities of harmful substances which remain underground, and to find possible routes that these compounds could use to spread from these two atolls to the rest of the region. Some also think that underground detonations could have resulted in appearance of cracks, which could connect the shafts where the tests were conducted with the ocean. However, scientists have not been able to access Moruroa and Fangataufa since France ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1998. Nuclear test sites have thus been sealed and are protected by armed security personnel who do not allow scientists and employees of environmental organizations to reach these areas.

Various experts have, on numerous occasions, expressed an opinion that France’s unwillingness to allow researchers to access these closed off testing sites is one of the reasons why France is trying to keep French Polynesia in its dominion.

It is well known that keeping these islands under France’s control is a significant expense for the French budget. The region is incapable of supporting itself even through tourism, which accounts for 25% of French Polynesia’s GDP and is a key economic sector for the nation. Paris is compelled to spend billions of euros on French Polynesia, which is why calls for its independence are even periodically echoed in France itself.

In addition, independence supporters who live in French Polynesia think that France is responsible for the region’s economic woes, as it prevents development of local businesses and sets high tariffs on imported and exported goods. Members of forces, opposing French rule, believe that the parent nation uses such means to artificially slow down economic development of French Polynesia for fear that, on gaining financial independence, the region will immediately attain political freedom. Then France will lose control over Moruroa and Fangataufa, and whatever secrets are hidden in these atolls will be revealed by the world media.

Now that the case has been taken to the International Court of Justice, France will need to do its best to maintain control of French Polynesia. If the AFP estimates damages, caused by nuclear testing, at 1 billion US dollars, then, most likely, France will pay this sum out. From now onwards, France will probably start making compensation payments due to veterans, affected by nuclear testing, and to common residents of French Polynesia, in accordance with the 2010 law, with much more effort. However, it is uncertain whether these measures will help France’s case, as this issue has already gained notoriety world-wide. For far too long, France ignored demands from people who suffered from consequences of nuclear tests. Perhaps if it had started making generous compensation payments to these individuals several years earlier, there would not be a court case against France at The Hague. As things stand now, the global community will have to make a legal and environmental assessment of the actions taken by France from 1966 to 1998. And it can not be ruled out that soon France will not only lose control over French Polynesia but its reputation as well.

Sofia Pale, PhD, Research Fellow of the Center for South-East Asia, Australia and Oceania of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

January 28, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment