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Counterpunch Shadowboxes and Loses

By Edward Curtin | February 17, 2019

In a fair boxing match, opponents enter the ring with similarly padded gloves and battle under the bright lights for the world to see. There are, of course, cases where one fighter cheats, as in the infamous case in 1983 when Luis Resto wore weakly padded gloves and hand wraps hardened with plaster to make them rock solid. His opponent, Billy Collins, an up-and-coming boxer from Tennessee with a 14-0 record, was permanently and very seriously injured in the fight at Madison Square Garden. His eyes were battered shut and his vision damaged. He never fought again and died depressed the following year at age twenty-two.

In the fight for truth in the public arena, similar subterfuges occur.

To battle honestly in the open forum, to argue to and fro squarely, is often prevented in advance by eliminating an opponent’s voice from the debate. This is the typical method used by the corporate mass media that stack the deck with sycophants and refuse dissidents a place to voice their ideas.

Then there is the masquerade of fighting an opponent who is really a collaborator and benefactor, whose punches one counters in a game of shadow boxing meant to convince the audience that the fight is real and you are on their side. Some alternative media use this technique because they are gatekeepers for the power elite.

Sometimes this ruse is so blatant that the fix becomes transparent because the smart-asses who play this game screw up, yet they still expect their real opponents to shut up and walk away because their fixer’s mantra  is “Never apologize, never explain.” It has always been the code of the rich and powerful.

Some are brawlers, however, and fight back against this bullshit.

The well-known leftist website Counterpunch is an example of the “never apologize, never explain” school. A number of writers and journalists who have published many pieces at Counterpunch have been banned from this site in recent years without an explanation, Andre Vltchek and C.J. Hopkins being two who crossed an invisible boundary the Shadow had drawn and were never again published by Counterpunch. Others, smelling an odd odor, have walked away. The numbers are growing.

I’ve recently seen Counterpunch shadowbox and the Shadow won.

On January 29, 2019, I published an article highly critical of the CIA at Global Research, where I am a Research Associate. After this piece appeared, I received an email from the editor of Counterpunch, Jeffrey St Clair, telling me that he too was going to publish this article on Friday, February 1, for Counterpunch’s weekend edition. I had written a few dozen pieces that Counterpunch had published and had a very cordial relationship with St Clair. In fact, when I was in Rome in 2018, he had asked me to place a stone for him on Keats’ and Shelley’s graves when I visited the cemetery where they were buried. I did that, and my wife took photos that I sent to him. All was copacetic. Buddies. High fives!

On February 1, 2019, shortly after midnight Eastern time (12:02 AM), Counterpunch published my piece for their weekend edition where articles remain for three days. When I awoke at 4 A.M., I saw it. Then at 8 A. M., when I arrived at the college where I teach, I again saw it. At 11 A.M., when I had finished teaching a few classes, I looked again and it had disappeared. Transitive verb: Counterpunch had disappeared it. Eliminated it. Scratched it. Excised it.

All the other numerous articles remained. Only mine was gone. At first I thought it was a mistake. But as the day wore on I wondered. So I emailed St Clair and asked my buddie what had happened. As compatriots don’t do, he did not reply. But I assumed he was busy, as I am, and gets many emails. So I waited. When I emailed him again, there was no reply. A third very cordial email three days later went unanswered.

Unlike Vladimir and Estragon in Waiting for Godot, I am no longer waiting. No reply is coming, and St Clair isn’t Godot, or on second thought he may be, a chimerical leftist gatekeeper enticing Counterpunch’s followers to wait forever for a revelation that isn’t coming. Like his mentor and the founder of Counterpunch, Alexander Cockburn, who was so fond of excoriating as “idiots” and “conspiracy nuts” anyone questioning the JFK assassination or the attacks of September 11, 2001 – two fundamental issues that only believers in official government conspiracy theories such as Cockburn could dismiss – St Clair seems similarly dismissive of explaining why a writer’s critique of the CIA would deserve to be eliminated after being published. As if only an idiot would want to know.

However, any reasonable person would ask: Why would he not respond?  St Clair, the editor-in-chief, published the piece and then disappeared it after 10-11 hours? This is highly unusual, to put it mildly. Unprecedented for the so-called left-wing alternative media. It is the kind of thing when done by the mainstream corporate media would be denounced and exposed as censorship. Not publishing an article is a publication’s prerogative, of course, but what could cause one to eliminate an article highly critical of the CIA after people had ten or so hours to read it, and since the author and editor had a very cordial relationship up to that point and the editor had days to read it carefully?

One doesn’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to realize that someone objected to the piece. But who could that be? If it were St Clair’s managing editor, Joshua Frank, twenty years his junior (the two run the operation), then St Clair could have explained to me why, since we were on good terms. I wouldn’t have liked it and argued my points, but at least we could have cordially agreed to disagree. But the Frank possibility makes no sense, for a managing editor would be intimately involved in the publishing process that was completed the previous day in time for the very early Friday A.M. postings. And in any case, St Clair is in charge.

Clearly an outside reader objected. The question is: Who is that reader that could exert such control over a publication that promotes itself as one that “Tells the Facts, Names the Names.” A publication that is considered radically leftist and in opposition to the ruling elites.

Okay, Counterpunch, would you name the name of the shadowy one who won this fight?

February 17, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 2 Comments

Large wildfire engulfs forest in Chernobyl’s EXCLUSION ZONE

RT | February 17, 2019

A major blaze has broken out in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone – the site of the worst nuclear disaster in human history. The fire hit a forest some 20 kilometers away from the ill-famed nuclear power station.

The blaze inside Chernobyl’s ‘dead zone’ in northern Ukraine started on Sunday when dry grass caught fire, the Ukrainian emergency service said in a statement. The blaze then reached a forest near the abandoned village of Bychki located some 24km (15 miles) away from the damaged nuclear reactor.

Some 5 hectares (12 acres) of forest went up in flames. Three firefighting vehicles and 18 emergency crew members were dispatched to tackle the blaze, according to the emergency service’s statement.

The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, an area heavily contaminated by the disaster, has repeatedly witnessed wildfires over recent years. A large fire broke out there in June 2018. Another blaze, which scorched 25 hectares (60 acres) of land, hit it in 2017.

While the burning of possible radioactive wood and shrubs could release some dangerous combustion products into the atmosphere, the statement issued by Ukrainian officials mentioned no such risks for now.

Chernobyl became the site of one of the biggest nuclear disasters in history, when a local power reactor blew up during a safety system test on April 26, 1986, leading to massive contamination of the surrounding area and beyond. The catastrophic explosion released 400 times more radioactive material than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima at the end of World War II.

The severely damaged reactor was sealed off by a protective ‘sarcophagus’ of steel and concrete, while the nearby town of Pripyat had its 50,000 population evacuated. A radioactive cloud covered a massive chunk of Europe in the wake of the disaster.

Today, Pripyat is a ghost town while the contaminated 30-kilometer (18.6 mile) area around the reactor has been turned into a no-go zone, which has for years been closed to any visitors, but is now booming with wildlife – keenly observed by scientists.

February 17, 2019 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

Venezuela: The Next Move and the Final Word

By Maximilian C. Forte | Zero Anthropology | February 17, 2019

Almost a month after Donald Trump recognized Juán Guaidó as the “interim president” of Venezuela, and the imperial media started to label Nicolás Maduro as the “disputed” president of Venezuela (as if that were a universally accepted statement of fact), nothing has happened to unseat Maduro. The intended coup does not appear to be advancing. Meanwhile the US continues its sanctions, only now they are sanctioning a country they claim is led by someone who is not Maduro. If one mistook rhetoric for reality, US foreign policy would appear to have been conceived in some sort of Twilight Zone. Back in the real world, the US tacitly recognizes that Maduro is in fact the head of government and state in Venezuela, and both the threats of US military intervention and the sanctions themselves prove that point.

Far from a wave of popular condemnation of the Maduro government, Venezuela instead experiences something of a “slow coup,” mostly based on support from foreign right-wing governments. Following ZA’s sketch of the models used for this intended coup, ranging from Ukraine to Libya and Syria, others warned that we should look out for the “7 rules of regime change” that typically constitute the US’ campaigns of foreign destabilization. Libya was actually an appropriate analogy in some key regards, one of them being that the US was actively inciting chaos by trying to create a situation where more than one government claimed legitimacy. As for Ukraine, it was the Ukrainian Foreign Minister himself who drew the analogy between the Maidan protests and events in Venezuela. Also indicative of this approach is the fact that Trump hired the infamous Elliot Abrams (an ardent “Never Trumper” but an even bigger opportunist), one of the original neocons who played a role not just in the 2002 coup attempt against Hugo Chávez in Venezuela—and has now been called back for an encore—but was also tied to the covert war against Nicaragua, lying to Congress, and providing cover for the notorious death squads in El Salvador during the 1980s. In the US Congress, Democrats in charge of the House Foreign Affairs Committee put together a “team” to deal with Venezuela, including one Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was guilty of rigging electoral processes within the DNC to the disadvantage of Bernie Sanders in 2016—worthy coup experience. (Yet, on that same committee there have been some outstanding exceptions, namely Ilhan Omar.)

Venezuela and the Problem for Trump’s White House

Nicolás Maduro, President of Venezuela

However the problem is that the “slow coup” approach seems to be increasing frustration in the ranks of both the Venezuelan opposition and the White House. How much longer can the US government tolerate its commands being ignored and “defied”? The longer this goes on, the greater the chance that Trump will lose face, at a delicate political time of upcoming US presidential elections and when he has lost so much face already. This is a person who has long boasted that his administration would always be “winning,” winning so much that his supporters would tire of all the winning. What has Trump won with Venezuela? If Trump just lets things continue, Venezuela could learn to survive sanctions the way several other states have also learned to survive them. Venezuela still has some powerful friends: China, India, and Russia chief among them. Venezuela is not under a UN-approved international sanctions regime, the kind imposed on Iraq, North Korea, and Iran. Venezuela still has room for manoeuvre, and even an IOU can carry a lot of weight if it’s based on possession of the world’s largest proven oil reserves. In addition, Venezuela’s armed forces declared their loyalty to President Maduro. The opposition made feeble, legalistic efforts to win over the military’s support (basically promising only to not “prosecute” the military for supporting the legitimate government), but this failed from the outset. Meanwhile the military held prominent exercises under the direction of Maduro’s government. The military continued to hold extensive exercises from February the 10th to the 15th, in practice for a counter-invasion. At this rate, Trump could enter the 2020 electoral campaign with Maduro still in power in Venezuela, and Trump’s opponents lampooning him as a failure: all sound and fury and nothing more than promises made of hot air.

The other option of course, the one that Trump frequently repeats is always “on the table,” is US military intervention in Venezuela. This would then be Trump’s first new war added to the list of the US’ current wars. There now appears to be a straight line of seamless continuity running from George W. Bush to Barack Obama and now Donald Trump, especially where regime change in Venezuela is concerned. Trump, who sometimes feigns awful annoyance at the “Obama legacy,” which he pretends to want to destroy, is only too keen to shore it up in Venezuela. The one “national emergency” about which no one is threatening to sue the White House, a “national emergency” decreed by Obama and still in force, is the one that classes Venezuela as an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States”. On his way out the door, Obama renewed and extended that same “national emergency”—and Trump loyally picked up the baton. Yet Venezuela has never threatened the US, and the US Congress has not authorized any military action in Venezuela. Will Trump be reticent about usurping authority by continuing to expand the executive power of the imperial presidency? If he does, another charge will then stick during the 2020 campaign: that he is authoritarian. Not just authoritarian, but one also responsible for starting a new, unpopular and costly war, an illegal war. Far from ending the US’ “foreign entanglements” and “nation building” crusades, Trump will have added to them. This would then become the final word on the Trump presidency.

Trailing a long line of failures and broken promises, Trump would be entering the 2020 presidential campaign (if his administration can survive that long), with a brand new war to place on the shoulders of Americans. Tired of all the “winning” yet?

Trump has engineered quite the situation for himself. If he does nothing more, and Maduro survives, Trump loses face. More than that, he has already lost Venezuelan oil for a whole range of US-based oil refineries and transnational shipping firms, not to mention countless billions bypassing the US financial system, and there is already talk of tapping the national oil reserve. It would be a situation where Trump ends up with less than if he had said nothing at all about the Maduro presidency—an indisputable defeat. On the other hand, if Trump chooses the military option, besides the US facing eventual defeat like it has done regularly since Vietnam, the political backlash at home would be devastating. So which is the way out for Trump?

Trump’s Next Move

There are two significant clues that suggest Trump will choose to go to war with Venezuela. One is a foreign clue, and the other is domestic. The first clue is that February 23 is likely to be the turning point. The US and its Venezuelan force multipliers are constructing a situation that could be used to provoke armed intervention by the US: an innocent humanitarian aid convoy, embraced by democracy-loving innocent civilians in Venezuela, fired upon mercilessly by the forces of the “brutal dictatorship”. Not only is the US ready to sacrifice Venezuelan lives, it is likely ready to sacrifice the lives of the US AID personnel currently in Cucuta, Colombia (poor saps, they had better get their life insurance policies in order). It has to be the kind of event that makes most Americans gasp in shock, and demand immediate justice. I don’t know if this can work, or will happen, especially because the Venezuelan government has so far excelled at playing it cool, and outsmarting the opposition.

The second clue, domestic in focus, is that Trump has recently decided to declare a war on socialism at home, with the aid of Fox News, Breitbart, and various alternative right-wing media. The only way for Trump to sell his war in Venezuela is by simultaneously linking it to a war at home. That way Trump can parade himself among diminished groups of supporters and pretend that his policy in Venezuela is what they want, and what they need: a world free of socialism.

The image of “Venezuela” is thus being instrumentalized for use against “domestic enemies,” suggestively linking the two, and the evidence for that comes directly from Trump himself. In his “State of the Union speech of February 5, 2019, Trump stated the following about Venezuela just before turning back to the US:

“Two weeks ago, the United States officially recognized the legitimate government of Venezuela—(applause)—and its new President, Juan Guaidó. (Applause.) We stand with the Venezuelan people in their noble quest for freedom, and we condemn the brutality of the Maduro regime, whose socialist policies have turned that nation from being the wealthiest in South America into a state of abject poverty and despair. (Applause.)

Here in the United States, we are alarmed by the new calls to adopt socialism in our country….”

When one heard the speech, the flow from Venezuela to socialism in the US was both smooth and rapid—it was unmistakable that the suggestive link between the two was deliberately planned. To further applause, including from some Democrats, Trump added: “Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country”. What they did not hear, and they should have if they truly listened, was Trump’s declaration of war on Venezuela.

Venezuela: The Final Word on Trump

In reviewing Trump’s foreign policy positions over the past three decades, there was one vital piece of evidence that I either overlooked or whose significance I simply did not realize (and since I have not seen the analysis that follows anywhere else, it seems everyone missed this too). While Trump may sound like he is against “endless wars,” “foreign entanglements,” “nation building” and the overthrow of foreign regimes that involves the US in affairs that do not concern it, and while he preaches respect for “sovereignty” and vows not to impose “American values” on other nations—all seemingly exceptional positions for an American president, enough to get him branded an “isolationist”—all of this is conditional on one key factor: distance/proximity.

If a potential target nation is “far away”—for example, Afghanistan and Syria—then it is wrong for the US to get involved. However, if the nation is “close” to the US—i.e., all the nations of the Western Hemisphere—then it is right for the US to intervene because in areas close to home, the US has a “special responsibility”. It’s a claim to ownership, and it’s a return to the classic neocolonial geopolitics of the Monroe Doctrine (and Trump formally cited Monroe in his 2018 address to the UN General Assembly).

The evidence for this notion of a “special responsibility” tied to proximity, comes from Trump himself. While at a golf course in August of 2017, Trump told reporters:

“We have many options for Venezuela, this is our neighbor. We’re all over the world and we have troops all over the world in places that are very, very far away. Venezuela is not very far away and the people are suffering and dying. We have many options for Venezuela including a possible military option if necessary”.

Vice President Mike Pence reiterated this explanation to Fox News, answering a question about why Trump is withdrawing troops from Syria and Afghanistan while intervening in Venezuela:

“President Trump has always had a very different view of our hemisphere… He’s long understood that the United States has a special responsibility to support and nurture democracy and freedom in this hemisphere and that’s a longstanding tradition”.

Not speaking out of turn (for a change), national security adviser John Bolton offered further confirmation: “The fact is Venezuela is in our hemisphere. I think we have a special responsibility here, and I think the president feels very strongly about it”.

Trump views Latin America as the US’ “backyard,” sovereignty thus does not apply to the Western Hemisphere’s states. But if Trump does not respect the sovereignty of Latin Americans, then why should they in turn respect the sovereign borders of the US? If sovereignty does not apply in relations between states in the Americas, then Latin Americans should dismiss US sovereignty, and freely pour across the US’ southern border. Where there is no equality and reciprocity, then invasion and counter-invasion will have to do.

If distance/proximity is one factor limiting, even reversing the scope of Trump’s putative anti-interventionism, civilization is another. On a trip to Poland in July of 2017, Trump delivered a controversial speech that many justifiably understood to be a classic defence of “White, Western, Christian civilization”:

“…. we will never forget who we are…. Americans will never forget. The nations of Europe will never forget. We are the fastest and the greatest community. There is nothing like our community of nations. The world has never known anything like our community of nations. We write symphonies. We pursue innovation. We celebrate our ancient heroes, embrace our timeless traditions and customs, and always seek to explore and discover brand-new frontiers. We reward brilliance. We strive for excellence, and cherish inspiring works of art that honor God. We treasure the rule of law and protect the right to free speech and free expression…. That is who we are. Those are the priceless ties that bind us together as nations, as allies, and as a civilization”.

Reflecting on this, I argued elsewhere that “Trump respects sovereignty only for those who are qualified to possess it : White Western Christian nations, in loose terms”. I noted that Trump evidenced the most respect for nations that are linked to the US through cultural parentage—“but where cultural affinity is lacking, Trump chooses the American materialist’s preferred substitute for culture: money, and lots of it”. Trump thus has respect for European nations plus Israel (i.e., Euro-America in the Middle East), but also China, Japan, and Saudi Arabia—that is the map of Trump’s world of sovereign states. The rest of the world is inhabited by what he freely calls “animals,” and “monsters,” shit-hole nations usually ruled by “brutal dictators”—this is the wild neocolonial frontier: it is the world beyond the pale, and beyond the pallid.

It is outside of the domain of Trump logic where we find Trump’s supposed anti-interventionist stance on Syria and Afghanistan directly collides with his actions against Venezuela and Iran, a fact noted by many others besides myself. (Except Iran does not fit within Trump’s logic as described above, which shows that it’s not much of a logic at all.) In the world of the critically rational, where people struggle to understand reality and not deny it, where contradictions need to be explained even if they cannot be reconciled, then this is how Venezuela will be the final word on Trump, especially if a war happens—read each sentence on the left, and then interject the word on the right as a corrective:

Donald Trump’s Explicit Position (Myth) The Final Word (Reality)
“We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world”… Venezuela
We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone”… Venezuela
each nation of the world must decide for itself what kind of future it wants to build for its people”… Venezuela
“America will always choose independence and cooperation over global governance, control, and domination”… Venezuela
“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”… Venezuela
“Around the world, responsible nations must defend against threats to sovereignty not just from global governance, but also from other, new forms of coercion and domination”… Venezuela
“Here in the Western Hemisphere, we are committed to maintaining our independence from the encroachment of expansionist foreign powers”… Venezuela
Sovereign and independent nations are the only vehicle where freedom has ever survived, democracy has ever endured, or peace has ever prospered. And so we must protect our sovereignty and our cherished independence above all”… Venezuela
Strong, sovereign nations let diverse countries with different values, different cultures, and different dreams not just coexist, but work side by side on the basis of mutual respect”… Venezuela
“…you, as the leaders of your countries will always, and should always, put your countries first”… Venezuela
“The United States of America has been among…the greatest defenders of sovereignty”… Venezuela
“We are going to have to stop being the policemen of the world”… Venezuela
“the United States cannot continue to be the policeman of the world.  We don’t want to do that”… Venezuela
“it is now time to bring our troops back home. Stop the ENDLESS WARS!”… Venezuela

Before being elected president, Trump spoke specifically about Venezuela and Hugo Chávez in brief comments to the Miami Herald, saying: “Their leaders are not very friendly to our leaders. But, of course, our leaders don’t get along with too many people….” On Chávez he said, “He had some feelings, some very strong feelings, and he did represent a lot of people, and he represented a lot of people that had been left behind”. However, even then, Trump made comments that suggested he wanted to become involved in Venezuela’s affairs. His wish has come true, but it’s Venezuela that will have the final word.

February 17, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Elliott Abrams ‘Cabaled Quietly’ to Spring a CIA-Connected Drug Trafficker

By Jefferson Morley | The Deep State | February 15, 2019

Surely, this is just another “loony left” headline about Elliott Abrams, the administration’s point man on Venezuela, whom some say has been unfairly pilloried on Capitol Hill.

If you read this September 1986 National Security Council email, written by NSC staffer Oliver North, you’ll see the headline is not over-stated but factually precise and faithful to the conspiratorial tone of the original source.

When U.S. policymakers needed to spring a convicted CIA-connected drug trafficker from doing hard time in federal prison, who did they call?

Trump’s appointed special envoy to Venezuela, Elliott Abrams.

On Thursday, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) scorched Abrams for his covering up the infamous El Mozote massacre and lying to Congress during the Iran-Contra conspiracy in the 1980s.

Her interrogation drew rebuke from Max Boot, the apostate conservative, and a chorus of right-wing media commentators. Boot described Omar’s comments as a “disgraceful ad hominem attack.”

Actually the impertinent Congresswoman from Minneapolis could have gone much further about Abrams’ untrustworthy behavior. One of the most revealing stories about Abram’s hypocrisy comes from an impeccably right-wing source, Oliver North, former Republican senatorial candidate and Fox News talking head.

Bagman

The year was 1986. Abrams served as assistant secretary of state for Latin America under President Reagan. He was a 39 year old lawyer and foreign policy polemicist. Even then his perennial scowl and crooked grin managed made him look furtive and self-righteous at the same time.

The Iran-Contra conspiracy was in full swing. The conspiracy, permissively labelled “a scandal,” was a Reagan White House plot to subvert the U.S. Congress’s powers of the purse. North was the coordinator of what can fairly be described as an unconstitutional covert operation, while Abrams played the role of bagman.

To bypass the so-called Boland Amendment, Abrams took payments from the Sultan of Brunei, a petroleum potentate from South Asia, and passed them to the leaders of Reagan’s counterrevolutionary army in Nicaragua. When questioned under oath, Abrams lied. He later pleaded guilty to two counts of deceiving Congress.

As part of the conspiracy, Abrams also put in a good word for a convicted drug trafficker, General Jose Bueso Rosa. He was a Honduran general who had helped the U.S. government with  “sensitive operations” in Central America. As Murray Waas and I wrote in the Washington Post, North did “a favor for a felon.”

So did Abrams.

‘Sensitive Operations’

As an episode of CIA-sanctioned drug trafficking, the Bueso story was  typical. Bueso, it turns out, had helped put together a CIA-trained military intelligence unit known as Battalion 316, which served as death squad for U.S. policymakers.  A Honduran government investigation found that Battalion 316 had captured, tortured and executed some 200 suspected leftists.

Bueso had also trafficked multi-kiloton shipments of cocaine. As CIA Inspector General Frederick Hitz documented in Volume 2 of his report on contra drug trafficking, the agency did business with more than 50 suspected drug traffickers in the 1980s.

(Lazy reporters sometimes say that the CIA was cleared of the allegation. They didn’t bother to read the Sections 800-1148 of Hitz’s report which detail how the agency took no action against four dozen suspected traffickers who aided Reagan’s–and Abrams’–anticommunist crusade.)

IG report that CIA reporters prefer not to read
(Credit: CIA)

Investigating the story for the Post, I spoke on background with law enforcement officials familiar with Bueso’s case. A  wiretap had picked up Bueso repeatedly talking about shipments of “flour” into central Florida, they said.

Given Bueso’s connections, no one in the Reagan Justice Department cared to make a big deal of his cocaine shipments, no matter how hefty. They just wanted a conviction that would put him out of business. Bueso got a generous plea bargain. He would only have to serve five years.

Bueso, however, was led to believe his American friends would save him from serving any time all.

In his September 1986 email, later uncovered by Iran-contra investigators, North worried Bueso might “break his long standing silence.” He might, in other words disclose unpleasant truths about death squads and CIA drug trafficking that might taint professed U.S. ideals of human rights.

So North “cabaled quietly” with Abrams, as well as top Pentagon, CIA and Justice Department officials.  A presidential pardon was out of the question but transfer to a comfortable “Club Fed” facility was arranged.

At a time when U.S. prosecutors meted out ten-year sentences to young black men for the possession of a few ounces of cocaine, Abrams was part of a gang that thought a multi-kiloton trafficker should be treated leniently. Such was his subtle advocacy of human rights.

Bueso got out of prison early–for “good behavior.” Abrams went on to a long career in U.S. foreign policy. Hundreds of thousands of black men remained in jails for years, if not decades.

Question

Rep. Omar could have asked an even tougher question of Abrams, namely, “Does Trump’s policy toward Latin America today involve protection of drug traffickers as Reagan’s policy did in the 1980s?”

She was certainly justified in questioning his veracity.

“I fail to understand why members of this committee or the American people should find any testimony you give today to be truthful,” she said.

————————

Here’s the Omar-Abrams exchange.

February 17, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Iran’s Javad Zarif warns “risk of war with Israel is great” (MunichSecurityConference 2019)

ProductiehuisEU | February 17, 2019

Speaking in the Munich Security Conference, Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif blames Israel of violating international law after bombing campaigns in Syria, criticizes European powers for not calling out Israel and the US for their behavior in the region.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused Israel of looking for war and warned that its behavior and that of the United States was increasing the chances of a clash in the region.

“Certainly, some people are looking for war … Israel,” Zarif said at the Munich Security Conference.

Accusing Israel of violating international law after bombing campaigns in Syria, Zarif also criticized European powers for not calling out Israel and the United States for their behavior in the region.

“The risk (of war) is great. The risk will be even greater if you continue to turn a blind eye to severe violations of international law,” he said.

“Israeli behavior is putting international law on the shelf, US behavior is putting international law on the shelf.”

Zarif, who said Iran was committed to a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers for now, also accused France, Britain and Germany of not doing enough to ensure Tehran received the economic benefits of that accord.

Credit: Bayerischer Rundfunk 2019

February 17, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Laughter for All (Financial) Times

By James Petras | Unz Review | February 13, 2019

In these times, when the United States pursues an unprecedented military build-up, promotes coups and trade wars, breaks weapons agreements, organizes the illegal seizure of overseas financial accounts, building barriers and walls along the southern border, Washington can count on the mass media to provide a variety of propaganda messages, ranging from the predictable ‘yellow ’ to the sophisticated ‘serious press’ .

While the political class dismisses the sensational press, they are avid readers of the ‘prize winning’ propaganda newspapers and their columnists.

Among the perceptive readers who follow the serious press one can hear periodical outburst of laughter or observe cynical smiles.

The ‘serious’ newspapers which draw the greatest attention include the Financial Times, the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. Though they vary in the style and quality of their writers, they all follow the same political line, especially on issues pertaining to US imperial power.

For our purposes – and because I have been a long-time subscriber of the Financial Times (FT) –, this essay will concentrate on its journalists and their articles.

Armchair Militarists and “Western Values”

Gideon Rachman is a senior columnist for the FT who travels around the world and has a unique ability to preach ‘western values’ … selectively. Commentating on contemporary US and EU politics, Rachman attributes to them ‘western values’– representative democracy, individual freedom and the rule of law, overlooking two decades of imperial invasions, several hundred US bases around the world and countless violations of international law.

According to Rachman’s notion of ‘western values’ there is a historical legacy, a long tradition of constitutional government, – overlooking the conquest of five continents.

Moreover, while Rachman has consistently condemned Syria for human rights violations, he systematically avoids Israel’s weekly murder and wounding of hundreds of unarmed Palestinian protestors. Most knowledgeable writers wink and grin as they read his selective labeling of western values.

John Paul ‘Ratface’ Rathbone is one of FT leading contributors on Latin America who specializes in celebrating murderous regimes and promoting US policies which overthrow freely elected democracies. During the first decade of the 21st century, “Ratface” (as some of his loyal readers refer to him), wrote eulogies about Colombia’s murderous President Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010) as he slaughtered hundreds of thousands of insurgents and activists.

While Uribe’s death squads rain amok driving millions of peasants from their villages, Ratface frolicked in downtown night clubs and high-end bordellos enjoyed by oligarchs and tourists.

Consistent with the Ratface’s version of Colombia’s death squad democracy he condemned ‘the populist’ popularly elected democracies of Brazil and Venezuela.

Having distant ties to Cuba, Rathbone reminisces about the good times in pre-revolutionary Havana, its stately mansions and the fun city, as he ignores the common police practice of pulling fingernails of political dissidents.

Rathbone evokes occasional cynical smiles from columnists who are embarrassed by his toadying to Washington’s intelligence operatives.

Columnist Philip Stephens is the perennial bleeding-heart liberal who sheds tears for all of his pro-western martyrs, except those Downing Street designates as pro-Russian terrorists. Stephens wears his ‘liberal democratic’ credentials on his backside – from which he emits his defense of UK imperialist wars in Syria, Libya and Iraq.

Stephen’s uncovers ‘undemocratic values’ in Putin’s poisonous operations even in provincial English villages.

Russian journalists are not excited by Philip’s journalistic ejaculations. He is the occasional butt of after work banter and laughter.

The Dean of the Times economic reportage is Martin “Marty” Wolf, who is well-known throughout the craft as the thoughtful advocate of welfare plutocracy. Martin advocates equality, justice — free markets for everybody but only the rich can meet his criteria. Marty finds and condemns populists of every hue. He engages in serious debate with leftists and rightists. But Marty like Gideon has yet to condemn Israel’s settler ‘populists’ who practice ethnic cleansing.

Despite his statistical tables, Marty never links his facts with the western imperial pillage of Africa, Asia and Latin America. His concerns and moral indignation are very selective and flourish when he finds colonized people who call into question his western values.

Marty’s hostility to China is more than a broken financial love affair (that never was). It is part of the FT propaganda war to downgrade Beijing’s economic advances in the world economy. In the January 14, 2019 issue the entire editorial board went on a rampage, ranting about China’s technological theft, its ‘slow down’ and pending crises … always reaching gloomy conclusions.

The FT expert observers note ‘big facts’ — that China is declining, all of one tenth of one percent over the previous year. Most China observers chuckle over the FT’s China ‘crises’ and wonder how the EU is ‘robust’ when it touches two percent and the US a shade higher?

China’s so-called economic crisis is, in the eyes of the FT, a product of its bloated state sector even as it promotes science and high-tech growth — but they are part of a total war.

Jamil Anderlini tags China as a ‘colonial power’ with its single base in Djibouti and for financing hundreds of billions in infrastructure, while the colonialism label is not applied to the US with several hundred military bases in five continents. China’s crackdown on US funded Uighur terrorists, who have murdered hundreds of Chinese citizens, is described as genocide, a term more apt for the US intervention in Libya, Iraq, Somalia and Syria.

The FT has a stable of journalist hacks who specialize in ignoring US economic warfare against China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela etc.

All the economic ‘slowdowns’ among US adversaries are attributed to internal mismanagement never US intervention.

The one-sided propaganda pieces written by the FT leading hackers — Hornby, Feng, Politi, Kynge, Mallet, Anderlini, Bozorgmehr etc — are notoriously repetitive: China’s economy is on the verge of crisis — which prediction never occurs and smart investors ignore while smirking all the way to their bank accounts.

The FT would offer its subscribers plenty to laugh about over late afternoon beers, if it were not for the war crimes it endorses. Their apologies of bloody western imperial invasions in the Middle East are not laughing matters.

The FT joins the Anglo-American chorus accusing Russia of political assassinations on British soil, without evidence or witnesses.

The FT has yet to chastise their US and British paymasters for their prolonged economic war against the elected governments in Venezuela.

The upwardly mobile FT scribes, scrambling for senior posts, ignore the laughter at their pious claims of ‘democratic values’ because their columns reek of lies and denials of China’s advances, Russia’s economic recovery from the catastrophic decline which the Times celebrated alongside the oligarchs’ plunder during the lost decade of the nineties.

Conclusion

The difference between the articles in the FT and the handouts from the war ministry is a matter of source not substance.

As the US engages in a total war on China’s cutting-edge industries, particularly, the world’s most advanced telecom company Huawei, the FT parrots US threats and warnings without the least effort to sort out facts from propaganda.

The fact is, the Times is part and parcel of the imperial revival which attempts to block China from establishing its pre-eminence in the world. The FT echoes President Trump’s lies about economic theft as the basis for China’s Huawei’s global leadership in telecom technology.

The FT gloss over its overt political role, evokes smirks among knowledgeable insiders as they scoff their beer.

Anti-Trump rhetoric fails to obscure the fact that the FT fronts for most of his policies – from financial deregulations, pro-Israel apologetics and Middle East wars.

There is one caveat; the FT is more warlike than the President! The FT is for remaining in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and any other independent country! While the FT publishes upscale articles on wine tasting, the arts, literature, travel and jewel collecting, its ‘serious’ news promotes bloody imperial wars. There is nary a western war that the Times fails to support.

In truth, the FT are the print-police and gatekeepers overseeing the defense of ‘democratic values’ by any means necessary (including wars of untold destruction)!

The larger issue confronting the US public concern the link between the ‘serious press’, the educated reading public and Washington’s perpetual war strategy.

The ‘serious press’ like the FT is no stranger to propagandizing in favor of imperial wars, since its founding. Its lack of objectivity is a fact of life and is predictable. What is new and dangerous is that journalist-critics are few and far between, particularly as the US empire is challenged at home and abroad.

The turn to militarism and the decline in imperial economic dominance puts a premium on media propaganda; its job is convincing and activating the young, politically educated class, which does not have a commitment to the serious press.

Financial elites continue to subscribe but many laugh at the one-sided advocacy of US denigration of China – since most investors have made money on China’s robust growth.

Most investors are bored by the Times fables about ending wars in Afghanistan and elsewhere. It may come to pass someday that ridicule, loud and repeated laughter, will bankrupt the serious press, that its readers will be confined to Wall Street and the Pentagon.

Even today, readers are disgusted by the FT grotesque front page features. Madeleine Albright appears on the House and Home section which mentions her ‘hospitality’ omitting to include her murderous bombing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi homes and her claim that the murder of a half-million Iraqi children was ‘worth it’ to win the war!

February 17, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment