Aletho News


‘Warrantless & Suspicionless’: US Border Searches of Devices Illegal – Lawsuit

Sputnik – May 1, 2019

The number of US government searches of travelers’ cellphones and laptops at airports and border crossings has almost quadrupled since 2015, according to a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

“Today’s electronic devices contain vast quantities of highly personal information that the Supreme Court has repeatedly held requires a warrant to be searched in other contexts,” the suit, which was filed in the US District Court of Massachusetts, states. “The border search context is no different.”

Tuesday’s filing follows a September 2017 lawsuit by the ACLU and the EFF against the Department of Homeland Security. The 2017 case was filed on behalf of 10 US citizens and one lawful US permanent resident whose smartphones and laptops were searched without warrants or probable cause at the US border, according to the ACLU. The lawsuit filed Tuesday also refers to the “warrantless and suspicionless searches” of the 11 plaintiffs in the 2017 case based on new information gathered by the ACLU and the EFF.

In May 2018, the court found that the plaintiffs in the case could sue the Department of Homeland Security for violating their First and Fourth Amendment rights, which protect freedom of speech and bar unreasonable searches and seizures, respectively.

“This is a win for constitutional rights at the border,” ACLU attorney Esha Bhandari said in a press release at the time. “The court has rightly recognized the severity of the privacy violations that travelers face when the government conducts suspicionless border searches of electronics. We look forward to arguing this case on the merits and showing that these searches are unconstitutional.”

Since the court ruled in May 2018 to reject the government’s request to dismiss the lawsuit, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) were forced to provide documents about how “warrantless and suspicionless” searches of electronic devices are conducted for their deposition testimony, according to the ACLU. In addition, CBP and ICE officials discussed — under oath — their warrantless search policies with the ACLU and the EFF, according to a press release by the ACLU.

Based on the new information provided by the officials, the ACLU and EFF decided to file a motion Tuesday, asking the judge to rule in favor of the plaintiffs without a trial. In the filing, it is revealed that US border officers searched the smartphones and other electronic devices of more than 33,000 travelers last year, which is almost four times the the number of searches from just three years ago.

In addition, the new information reveals that CBP and ICE officials search travelers’ devices for “general law enforcement purposes, such as looking for potential evidence of illegal activity beyond violations of immigration and customs law.” They look for violations of laws governing tax filing, bankruptcy, environmental regulations and consumer protection, according to the filing.

“They may even conduct searches of electronic devices when the subject of interest is someone other than the traveler, such as when the traveler is a US citizen and ICE is seeking information about a suspected undocumented immigrant; when the traveler is a journalist or scholar with foreign sources who are of interest to the US government; or even when the traveler is the business partner of someone under investigation,” the filing states, alleging that even friends or family members of targeted travelers may be subject to warrantless searches as well.

Furthermore, the government agencies allow officers to save information from travelers’ electronic devices and share it with state, local and foreign government entities as they please.

“Crossing the US border shouldn’t mean facing the prospect of turning over years of emails, photos, location data, medical and financial information, browsing history, or other personal information on our mobile devices. That’s why we’re asking a federal court to rule that border agencies must do what any other law enforcement agency would have to do in order to search electronic devices: get a warrant,” the ACLU concluded in a Tuesday press release.

May 1, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , | 1 Comment

US lawmaker’s bill would ban funds to Israeli military

MEMO | May 1, 2019

Veteran Congresswoman Betty McCollum introduced legislation Wednesday that would prohibit US funding to any foreign military that detains children, including Israel, Anadolu reports.

The bill would additionally authorize the creation of an annual $19 million fund to support non-governmental organizations that monitor rights abuses pertaining to the Israeli military’s detention of children.

“Israel’s system of military juvenile detention is state-sponsored child abuse designed to intimidate and terrorize Palestinian children and their families,” McCollum said in a statement announcing the bill’s introduction.

McCollum said Israel’s military detention of children “must be condemned,” adding that “it is equally outrageous that US tax dollars in the form of military aid to Israel are permitted to sustain what is clearly a gross human rights violation against children.”

Roughly 10,000 children have been detained by Israeli security forces since 2000 and subjected to military court proceedings, according to McCollum’s bill.

“Israeli security forces detain children under the age of 12 for interrogation for extended periods of time even though prosecution of children under 12 is prohibited by Israeli military law,” it says.

It further goes on to note that Human Rights Watch reported in 2018 that Israel’s military “detained Palestinian children “often using unnecessary force, questioned them without a family member present, and made them sign confessions in Hebrew, which most did not understand.”

McCollum’s bill faces an uphill battle in Congress where it is likely to face near-uniform opposition from Republicans and is unlikely to garner sufficient Democratic support to clear the House if Speaker Nancy Pelosi chooses to send it to the floor.

Still, the Democratic lawmaker was adamant that “Congress must not turn a blind eye to the unjust and ongoing mistreatment of Palestinian children living under Israeli occupation.”

May 1, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 1 Comment

Israel killed 102 Palestinian journalists since 1972

Palestine Information Center – May 1, 2019

RAMALLAH – The Palestinian Journalists Union in the West Bank on Tuesday said that Israeli occupation forces have killed 102 Palestinian journalists since 1972.

Naser Abu Baker, head of the union, said during his speech for a conference on press freedom in Ramallah that 19 journalists have been killed since 2014.

During the past four months, the Palestinian Journalists Union documented 136 Israeli attacks on Palestinian journalists, and 838 in 2018, including the killing of Yaser Murataj and Ahmad Abu Hussein in Gaza.

In 2018, 52 Palestinian journalists were arrested, and 47 were injured by live ammunition, 189 by tear gas canisters, and 17 by rubber-coated metal bullets.

Baker said that 2018 witnessed an unprecedented increase in the violations and crimes committed against Palestinian journalists, including attacks carried out by settlers.

May 1, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Zero Percent of Elite Commentators Oppose Regime Change in Venezuela

By Teddy Ostrow | FAIR | April 30, 2019

A FAIR survey of US opinion journalism on Venezuela found no voices in elite corporate media that opposed regime change in that country. Over a three-month period (1/15/19–4/15/19), zero opinion pieces in the New York Times and Washington Post took an anti–regime change or pro-Maduro/Chavista position. Not a single commentator on the big three Sunday morning talkshows or PBS NewsHour came out against President Nicolás Maduro stepping down from the Venezuelan government.

Of the 76 total articles, opinion videos or TV commentator segments that centered on or gave more than passing attention to Venezuela, 54 (72 percent) expressed explicit support for the Maduro administration’s ouster. Eleven (14 percent) were ambiguous, but were only classified as such for lack of explicit language. Reading between the lines, most of these were clearly also pro–regime change. Another 11 (14 percent) took no position, but many similarly offered ideological ammo for those in support.

The Times published 22 pro–regime change commentaries, three ambiguous and five without a position. The Post also spared no space for the pro-Chavista camp: 22 of its articles expressed support for the end to Maduro’s administration, eight were ambiguous and four took no position. Of the 12 TV opinions surveyed, 10 were pro-regime change and two took no position.

(The Times and Post pieces were found through a Nexis search for “Venezuela” between 1/15/19–4/15/19 using each paper as a source, narrowed to opinion articles and editorials. The search was supplemented with an examination of each outlet’s opinion/blog pages. The TV commentary segments were found through Nexis searches for “Venezuela” and the name of the talkshow during the same time period, in the folders of the corresponding television network: NBC News/CBS News transcripts, ABC News transcripts, and PBS NewsHour. Non-opinion TV news segments were omitted. The full list of items included can be found here.)

Corporate news coverage of Venezuela can only be described as a full-scale marketing campaign for regime change. If you’ve been reading FAIR recently (1/25/19, 2/9/19, 3/16/19)—or, indeed, since the early 2000s (4/18/02; Extra!, 11–12/05)—the anti-Maduro unanimity espoused in the most influential US media should come as no surprise.

This comes despite the existence of millions of Venezuelans who support Maduro—who was democratically elected twice by the same electoral system that won Juan Guaidó his seat in the National Assembly—and oppose US/foreign intervention. FAIR (2/20/19) has pointed out corporate media’s willful erasure of vast improvements to Venezuelan life under Chavismo, particularly for the oppressed poor, black, indigenous and mestizo populations. FAIR has also noted the lack of discussion of US-imposed sanctions, which have killed at least 40,000 Venezuelans between 2017–18 alone, and continue to devastate the Venezuelan economy.

Many authors in the sample eagerly championed the idea of the US ousting Maduro, including coup leader Juan Guiadó himself, in the Times (1/30/19) and Post (1/15/19), and on the NewsHour (2/18/19).

The Times made its official editorial opinion on the matter crystal clear at the outset of the attempted coup (1/24/19): “The Trump administration is right to support Mr. Guaidó.” Followed by FAIR’s favorite Times columnist, Bret Stephens (1/25/19):

The Trump administration took exactly the right step in recognizing National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s constitutionally legitimate president.

It’s generally a nation’s supreme court that has the final say on who is constitutionally legitimate, but in this case they can apparently be overruled by a foreign government—or a foreign newspaper columnist.

The Post editorial board also joined Team Unelected President (1/24/19):

The [Trump] administration’s best approach would be to join with its allies in initiatives that would help Venezuelans while bolstering Mr. Guaidó.

The Times even produced an opinion video (4/1/19) with Joanna Hausmann, “a Venezuelan American writer and comedian,” as she is described in her Times bio. Between sarcastic stabs at Venezuela’s “tyrannical dictator” and cute animations of “Ruth Bader Ginsburg in workout clothes”—Hausmann’s self-described “spirit animal”—come more serious declarations about the nation’s political situation:

Juan Guiadó is not an American right-wing puppet leading an illegitimate coup, but a social democrat appointed by the National Assembly, the only remaining democratically elected institution left in Venezuela…. Let’s provide humanitarian aid and support efforts to restore democracy.

Odd that the Times didn’t find it necessary to note a blaring conflict of interest: Hausmann’s father is Ricardo Hausmann, Juan Guaidó’s appointed Inter-American Development Bank representative. Mint Press News (3/19/19) bluntly described him as the “neoliberal brain behind Juan Guaidó’s neoliberal agenda.”

It would be ludicrous to think the Times would withhold as blatant a connection to Maduro if one of his aides’ daughters made a snarky opinion video calling Juan Guaidó a would-be “brutal dictator”—even if our theoretical commentator was “an independent adult woman who has built a popular following on her own,” as Times opinion video producer Adam Ellick said in defense of the omission. Such a crucial relationship to a powerful Chavista politician would never go undisclosed—in the unlikely event that such a perspective would be tolerated in the opinion pages of an establishment paper.

These are just a few of many media pundits’ endorsements of Guaidó—someone whose name most of the Venezuelan population did not even recognize before he declared himself interim president. Put more accurately, they are endorsements of a US-backed coup attempt.

One of the more muddled regime change endorsements came from Rep. Ro Khanna’s Post op-ed (1/30/19), in which he says no! to military intervention, no! to sanctions, yet yes! to… “diplomatic efforts”:

The United States should lend its support to diplomatic efforts to find some form of power-sharing agreement between opposition parties, and only until fair elections can take place, so that there is an orderly transition of power.

“Diplomatic” is a reassuring term, until you realize that US diplomacy, as FAIR’s Janine Jackson explained on Citations Needed podcast (3/20/19), is “diplomacy where we try to get other countries to do what we want them to do”—in this case, effecting a “transition of power” in another country’s government.

Francisco Rodríguez and Jeffrey D. Sachs (New York Times, 2/2/19) envision similar efforts for a “peaceful and negotiated transition of power,” and Khanna made sure to characterize Maduro as “an authoritarian leader who has presided over unfair elections, failed economic policies, extrajudicial killings by police, food shortages and cronyism with military leaders.”

In other words, Maduro the Dictator must be overthrown—but don’t worry, the US would be diplomatic about it.

Those that didn’t take explicit positions nonetheless wrote articles blaming all or most of Venezuela’s woes on Maduro and Chávez. Economics wiz Paul Krugman (New York Times, 1/29/19) gave his spiel:

Hugo Chávez got into power because of rage against the nation’s elite, but used the power badly. He seized the oil sector, which you only do if you can run it honestly and efficiently; instead, he turned it over to corrupt cronies, who degraded its performance. Then, when oil prices fell, his successor tried to cover the income gap by printing money. Hence the crisis.

Note that Krugman failed to mention the 57 percent reduction in extreme poverty that followed Chávez’s replacement of management of the state-owned oil industry (which has been nationalized since 1976, long before Chavismo). Nor does he acknowledge the impact of US sanctions, or any other sort of US culpability for Venezuela’s economic crisis.

Caroline Kennedy and Sarah K. Smith (Washington Post, 2/5/19) did not explicitly blame Maduro and Chávez for Venezuela’s “spiral downward,” but similarly ignored evidenced US involvement in that spiral. There are only so many places where you can point fingers without naming names.

Dictatorship-talk—writers lamenting the horrific and helpless situation under an alleged “dictator”—characterized many of the ambiguous and no-position articles. In the Post (1/24/19), Megan McArdle asked:

You have to look at Venezuela today and wonder: Is this what we’re seeing, the abrupt end of Venezuela’s years-long economic nightmare? Has President Nicolás Maduro’s ever-more-autocratic and incompetent regime finally completed its long pilgrimage toward disaster?

By simply describing the declining situation of a country (Times, 2/12/19, 4/1/19) and using words like “regime” (Times, 2/14/19), “authoritarian” (Post, 1/29/19) and, of course, “dictatorship” (Post, 1/23/19; Times, 2/27/19) in reference to government officials, commentators create the pretext for regime change without explicitly endorsing it.

The Sunday talkshows and NewsHour also couldn’t find a single person to challenge the anti-Maduro narrative. They did find room, however, for three of the most passionate advocates of regime change in Venezuela: Sen. Marco Rubio (Meet the Press, 1/27/19), Donald Trump (Face the Nation, 2/3/19) and Guaidó himself (NewsHour, 2/18/19).

Other TV regime change proponents included Florida Sen. Rick Scott (Meet the Press, 2/3/19), 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls Peter Buttigieg (This Week, 2/3/19) and Amy Klobuchar (Meet the Press, 3/17/19), Sen. Tim Kaine (Face the Nation, 3/17/19), and Guaidó-appointed, Mike Pence-approved “chargé d’affaires” Carlos Vecchio (NewsHour, 3/4/19).

But leave it to Nick Schifrin of the NewsHour (1/30/19) to bring on “two views” of the US intervention question that are both pro-regime change and pro-US intervention. View No. 1 came from Isaias Medina, a former Venezuelan diplomat who resigned from his post in protest against Maduro. Medina made the unlikely claim that 94 percent of the Venezuelan population—or 129 percent of the population over the age of 14—support US intervention to overthrow the Maduro government:

Not only I, but 30 million people, support not only the US circumstance, but also the Latin American initiative to restore the rule of law, democracy and freedom in Venezuela.

View No. 2, the ostensibly anti-regime change take, came from Benjamin Gedan, who served on the Obama administration’s National Security Council as director for Venezuela and the Southern Cone. When asked if he supported Trump’s moves to sanction Maduro and possibly use US troops to oust him, Gedan responded:

I think both of those steps are problematic. I think the sense of urgency that the United States administration has shown is absolutely correct…. The question is, how can we assist the Venezuelan people [to] promote a peaceful transition in Venezuela, without harming the people themselves, or fracturing the coalition that we have built over two administrations?

In other words, how can we overthrow the Venezuelan government without destroying the country—or “fracturing the coalition we have built”? The US has many options on the table, but none of them involve not pursuing the overthrow of Maduro.

In the “no position” camp for TV news, New York Times chief Washington correspondent David Sanger (Face the Nation, 1/27/19) noted that the problem with US support for Guaidó is one of  “both history and inconsistency”:

Our history in Latin America of intervening is a pretty ugly one, and the inconsistency of not applying the same standards to places like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, where the president has embraced strong men, I think may come back to make the United States look pretty hypocritical, not for the first time.

Sanger indulged in the popular “hypocrisy takedown”: The problem, as presented, isn’t that the US disrupts democracies, destroys economies and kills people, but rather that it does so inconsistently. While vaguely acknowledging the US’s horrific track record of Latin American interventions, and Trump’s cherry-picking of governments worthy of regime change, Sanger didn’t take the logical next step of calling for the US to keep its hands off Venezuela. Instead, he called Maduro’s supporters—defined as “China, Russia and Cuba”—“not a great collection,” and failed to push back against the claim that Maduro “fixed the last” election. Without a formal declaration, Sanger did all the ideological preparation for foreign-backed regime change.

That elite media didn’t find a single person to vouch for Maduro or Chavismo, and that almost all the opinions explicitly or implicitly expressed support for the ouster of Venezuela’s elected president, demonstrates a firm editorial line, eerily obedient to the US government’s regime change policy.

This isn’t the first time that FAIR (e.g., 3/18/03, 4/18/18) has found a one-sided debate in corporate media on US intervention. When it comes to advocating the overthrow of the US government’s foreign undesirables, you can always count on opinion pages to represent all sides of why it’s a good thing. And the millions of people who beg to differ? Well, they’re just out of the question.

May 1, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

The New York Times Apologizes for “Anti-Semitic” Cartoon While Enabling Real Bigotry in Israel

By Helen Buyniski | Aletho News | May 1, 2019

The New York Times has begged forgiveness for printing a cartoon that supposedly “included anti-Semitic tropes” in its international edition, but no amount of shameless groveling will stop the Israeli weaponization of the “anti-Semitism” smear as it steamrolls America’s once-sacred First Amendment freedoms. This is a crusade to silence all legitimate criticism of a criminal regime, and if the Times has anything to apologize for, it is its complicity in that quest.

The offending cartoon depicts President Donald Trump as a blind man being led by a guide dog with the face of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, identified by a star-of-David collar. It’s unclear what the “anti-Semitic trope” in this case is supposed to be – the collar is arguably necessary to confirm the dog is Netanyahu, and the reader would have to be a political illiterate to interpret that as a stand-in for “all Jews.” The Times’ willingness to slap the “anti-Semitic trope” label on the cartoon anyway should put to rest the ridiculous “anti-Semitic trope” trope that is tirelessly deployed to smother accusations of wrongdoing by Israel or its lobbying organizations inside the US.

Netanyahu himself has boasted that Trump acted on his orders when he declared Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization earlier this month, and Trump’s willingness to flout international law to unilaterally “give” the Golan Heights to Netanyahu as a re-election present shocked the world, unsettling even some Zionists who believe the land is rightfully theirs but worry the US’ official declaration will galvanize regional opposition to the occupation. Netanyahu’s last election campaign was arguably based on his ability to “lead” the US president blindly off the edge of a geopolitical cliff. Is he guilty of perpetuating anti-Semitic tropes for bragging about it?

Most papers only apologize when they’ve printed something erroneous. The Times has chosen instead to issue a correction for one of the few accurate depictions of the relationship between Israel and the White House, a glimmer of truth even more notable for its contrast with the paper’s usual disinformation painting Trump as some sort of foaming-at-the-mouth anti-Semite.

The Times’ decision to apologize for this cartoon while remaining silent when a cartoon depicting Trump in a gay love affair with Vladimir Putin was condemned by LGBT readers last year betrays the editorial board’s high moral dudgeon as the most transparent hypocrisy. US media has long smeared Putin’s government as homophobic, yet here they were presenting him half-clothed in a stomach-turning romantic embrace with Trump – a president who, it should be noted, has presided over the deterioration of US-Russia relations to levels not seen since the Cold War. But LGBT Twitter ultimately has little power in society, unlike the Israeli lobby, and the unfavorable depiction of Trump ensured most influential LGBT organizations steered clear of criticizing the cartoon. Outrage has become yet another commodity to be traded, not a genuine response to offense.

If it’s in a repentant mood, however, the Times could apologize for its one-sided coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – much of it fed to them by The Israel Project, which skews US coverage of the facts on the ground in Israel by supplying American reporters with talking points in order to “neutralize undesired narratives.” From these spinmeisters we get the passive voice used to frame IDF soldiers mowing down unarmed protesters as “clashes occurred” and “Palestinian protesters were killed,” as well as breathless coverage of tunnels, kites, and rocket attacks that rarely seem to hit anyone.

The Times could apologize for its failure to expose the global campaign to redefine “anti-Zionism” as “anti-Semitism,” instead of playing into it by pretending a truthful cartoon is somehow an affront to Jews – as if all Jews support the racist policies of the Israeli government. Indeed, to assume all Jews back the criminal Netanyahu regime in its openly genocidal campaign to eradicate the Palestinians from the few enclaves of the West Bank in which they remain while maintaining an open-air concentration camp in Gaza is wildly anti-Semitic.

The Times could apologize for failing to report on the massive Israeli spying operation – funded, in no small part, by the US taxpayer – targeting American activists on American soil, exposed in detail in the suppressed al-Jazeera documentary “The Lobby,” which leaked last year to deafening silence in the media. Journalist Max Blumenthal actually spoke with a Times journalist who wanted to cover the explosive revelations of the documentary, but no story ever appeared. As Ali Abunimah, founder of the Electronic Intifada, has pointed out, the suppression of the documentary should have been a story in and of itself – and would have, had it involved any other country.

“Imagine that this had been an undercover documentary revealing supposed Russian interference, or Iranian interference… in US policy, and powerful groups had gone to work to suppress its broadcast and it had leaked out. Just that element of it – the suppression and the leak – should be front page news in the Washington Post and the New York Times,” he told Chris Hedges, whose RT program was the closest thing to mainstream coverage the documentary received in the US.

The Times instead chooses to cover up the actions of groups like the Israel on Campus Coalition as they surveil and smear pro-Palestinian activists – college students, professors, and others sympathetic to Israel’s sworn enemy – using a strategy the ICC’s executive director Jacob Baime admits is based on US General Stanley McChrystal’s counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq. “The Lobby” revealed that agents working for the Israeli government infiltrate pro-Palestinian, pro-peace groups using fake social media accounts and report their findings back to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a shocking fact that none of the organizations named in the film have disputed. A foreign government operating a military-style surveillance network to target and smear American citizens in their own country – for nothing more than exercising their freedom of speech – gets a pass from the Times, but a cartoon showing Trump’s blind loyalty to Israel for what it is must be condemned.

It’s tough to electrify an outraged mob based on a story that wasn’t printed, but the Times’ failure to address the very real threat to Americans exercising their free speech – a threat all the more dire because it is funded by US tax dollars to the tune of $3.8 billion per year – merits at least a full-page apology. Compounding the insult is a domestic economic crisis, with many American cities facing record homelessness, skyrocketing cost of living, a dearth of secure employment and an excess of exploitative “gig economy” temp work, and a rapidly-disappearing social safety net. Israel is a wealthy country, as Netanyahu often boasts, a successful country. Only a truly blind government could continue to fork over such enormous sums of money while Americans languish in poverty.

“The anti-Semitism smear is not what it used to be,” one lobbyist laments to al-Jazeera’s hidden camera-equipped reporter. Perhaps this is why the state of Florida has advanced a bill to criminalize “anti-Semitism,” now broadly redefined to include “alleging myths… that Jews control the media, economy, government, or other institutions.” The bill passed the House unanimously, the one holdout bullied into submission when she voiced concerns about its incompatibility with the First Amendment, yet to point out – as AIPAC does – that this bipartisan approval exists because the Israeli lobby has influence over both parties, or that this influence can make or break a candidate, is about to become illegal. When even a milquetoast like Democratic congressman Beto O’Rourke has stuck his neck out to call Netanyahu a racist – and he receives more money from the Israeli lobby than most of his House colleagues – the Times should be ashamed of itself for pushing the fiction that criticism of Israel and its iron grip on the US government is equivalent to anti-Semitism.

The Times’ own article about its apology quotes an interview with the “guilty” party, Portuguese cartoonist Antonio Moreira Antunes, from the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attack, when four cartoonists and the magazine’s editor were murdered, supposedly for printing an offensive cartoon. There is a definite parallel with the Zionist outrage mobs calling for Antunes’ head – figuratively, if not yet literally; many are unsatisfied with the Times’ apology and insist Antunes suffer for his insolence by losing his job, if not his life. Antunes, in the interview, called his job “a profession of risk,” but states “there is no other option but to defend freedom of expression.”

The New York Times, and everyone else who demanded they apologize for a truthful cartoon while ignoring their failure to oppose genuine bigotry in the Netanyahu regime and supporters of Zionism, clearly do not agree that freedom of expression is worth defending. A press that cannot even defend itself does not deserve to be called “free.’

May 1, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

A Desperate Empire Crashes in Venezuela

By Maximilian Forte | Zero Anthropology | May 1, 2019

The April 30, 2019, coup attempt in Venezuela has come and gone. The coup has failed. “Failed state” theory just got a lot more complicated. No longer can the “failed state” designation apply only to those states targeted for recolonization after a prolonged period of destabilization and foreign intervention. Now “failed state” theory has to apply to a degenerate imperial state at its wit’s end, and to the failure of its proxies on the ground, as well as the failure of its invented political fictions to materialize. Even worse than any “failed state,” is the failure of aspirants to power who pretend to have power—namely, the incompetent Venezuelan opposition activist, Juán Guaidó. It’s time that even the few critical media outlets left stop dignifying Guaidó, opposition activist, with the title of self-declared “interim president,” because even that is too grandiose.

This so-called “interim president” is, by the tortured logic of Elliot Abrams, the president of an interim that has not yet begun. So that means he is not the interim president even. Or, he was the interim president, but his 30-day term (as specified by the Constitution), expired months ago. Or, he is still the interim president, but only if a defunct opposition body, that calls itself the National Assembly, believes it has the authority to unilaterally overwrite the Constitution—it does not, so he is still not even a self-declared interim president. This is what the US wants the world to recognize as “interim president”: a total fiction that cannot be sustained without reference to other fictions.

This bundle of fictions has not even been wielded by people who have the good sense to know when it’s time to shut up. No, instead the authors of these inventions spin even more, as if wanting to be spotted in all their foolishness. So we had the US government almost triumphantly declaring that it was withdrawing US diplomats from Venezuela—when Venezuela’s government was the one that ordered them out. Then we had US officials rejoice that Venezuela’s representatives had been expelled from the Organization of American States—when Venezuela already declared it was withdrawing from the OAS two years ago, and this month marked the final step in the process. Then we had the US State Department pretend that it could hand the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, DC, over to representatives of an interim president of an interim that had not even started, or that already ended. One has to really have faith in the stupidity of audiences, and be unflinching about treating everyone as idiots, to mount such an absurd production in public. It also means that they literally have no shame.

Impressive “uprising” you have there.

As a bad work of fiction, Guaidó could not mount even a lame imitation of a military-backed coup on April 30, which is just the latest in a long line of his failures this year. This character, unknown to 80% of Venezuelans a few months ago, leader of a minority party in a defunct parliament, who never campaigned for the presidency and was never elected to it—this same character posed in front of cameras and claimed military backing which he never had. So he calls on the resources of a hostile foreign power in the vain hope it make his fiction reality, clearly showing he understands nothing at all. Even worse: it shows a total lack of any care for all those who would suffer and die in war—Guaidó is ready to sacrifice them all. It’s an ill bird that fouls its own nest.

The response to Guaidó’s call? A few hundred violent protesters showed up, traded rocks with the Bolivarian National Guard, and then stood around talking to each other for hours on end. John Bolton, pushing US intervention in the name of keeping Venezuela free of external dominance (he knows no irony), even tried to nudge Venezuelans in a pitiful attempt at bribery, promising US economic relief if Guaidó took power. As far as attempted coups go, this was fortunately among the most pathetic, lame farces. There is now no resemblance between Venezuela 2019 and Libya 2011, where in the latter case opponents actually seized towns and cities and mounted protests that lasted days on end. What remains the same in the two cases is the determination of the US to implement through violent proxies a fiction of rule.

One also has to wonder how John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and Elliot Abrams still have jobs today. Trump is not a tower of managerial business acumen after all—if one ever believed the fiction constituting his performance on The Apprentice. Bolton, who was most prominent during the April 30 coup farce, could not even keep himself from tripping over his own excremental attempt at a “narrative”. First, John Bolton called on the Venezuelan military to side with Guaidó—but then invalidated his call, turning around and asserting that, in any case, Venezuela was under (imaginary) Cuban occupation, and it was Cuban troops who were really in charge. So everything fell apart… because of Cuba, and thus Trump threatened Cuba with an embargo, which it has already been under for six decades. Cuba was the fiction used to mask another fiction—the only thing that was real here was how utterly ridiculous US empire has become.

All the action, caught live on camera.

On the night of April 30, as I often do I listened to live radio from Caracas, where the assembled panellists spent a good amount of time engaged in the healthiest, most robust guffawing I have heard in ages. The subject of their laughter? Erik Prince, the war criminal who headed BlackWater and is now begging Trump for cash in return for a “plan”—a plan to send a grand total of 5,000 mercenaries to Venezuela. On RNV radio they wondered if the Americans had really become so stupid and psychotic to think that 5,000 clowns could take and hold so much as a bakery in a country which has 2,000,000 armed citizens in militias alone, not counting the hundreds of thousands in the armed forces and the paramilitary police. Apparently Prince mixed up Venezuela with Grenada—and even in Grenada it took US Marines a week to subdue armed opposition from a comparatively tiny group of diehard patriots.

Nothing is working for the US, not even what might be the most extreme sanctions ever imposed, and weeks of power outages. Certainly, none of the “humanitarian” theatre worked, whether it was the forced “aid” stunt, or the myth that Venezuelan troops set their fake aid on fire. The US was forced to imagine and fantasize about Maduro fleeing the country: witness Mike Pompeo’s bout of deranged lying about Maduro getting on a plane to Cuba, until Russia stopped him. Fictions, lies, propaganda, disinformation, fake news. To top it all off, the news came: this was not even a coup, you see. The real problem here, with such a monumental loss of face, in such a magnificent failure as April 30, is that the US will turn to even more desperate and thus more dangerous measures. However, that comes at a real cost: if the US invades, Trump has to go into an electoral contest with a new war on his back, and it’s not like such a war would come even close to a “cake walk”.

One has to wonder: will those national leaders who—without the authorization of their citizens—unilaterally “recognized” Guaidó as this so-called “interim president” thing, now take stock finally? Or will they cling to this science-fiction that there is a popular movement opposing Nicolás Maduro’s legitimate and very real government?

Clearly, very clearly as it was televised live worldwide all day on April 30 for all to see, Guaidó does not lead a popular movement. He has no authority, no legitimacy, and only a paltry amount of futile support. This so-called “uprising” was an embarrassing failure for his own image as a supposed leader. Then he takes shelter and says “tomorrow, more protests”—yes, junior, that will do the trick. Remember, sport, more always works, and besides, “there’s always tomorrow”. Keep at it, son.

This is what practice without theory looks like. This is what a “movement” without support looks like. This is what science-fiction looks like when it tries to escape the theatre and mingle with real people in the street.

Meanwhile, members of the Lima Group such as Canada, and those members of the European Union that have called for a “peaceful transition” in Venezuela, there is a lot for which they must answer. What “democracy” do they think it is where someone, not elected by the people, marshals the forces of violence in an effort to impose a government on a country? If this were to be done in their countries, would they accept it as democracy? This is the other outrageous fiction that we face: that we in North America live in democratic polities. Democracy should recognize itself in democracy—but when you instead recognize your partner in a violent clutch of putschists, then what are you?

May 1, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 1 Comment

The End of Terror

By Gilad Atzmon | May 1, 2019

Three hate crimes: a slaughter in a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, a massacre in Sri Lanka and a shooting in a synagogue in San Diego; what do they have in common? The three attacks fit neatly within the Neocon vision of our emerging dystopia. We are set to hate each other. Conflict, hostility, terror – rivers of blood- keep the immoral interventionist agenda afloat.

But there is a deeper meaning in these recent events and the many others that preceded them. Terror, as we should know by now, is a message. Terror has a lethal rationale which is delivered by means of fear and destruction. Perhaps if we start to be attentive to the message of terror we may find this to be the best strategy to dilute its venom.

Many are convinced that terror must be met with fierce retaliation, an ‘eye for an eye’ is what the Israelites called it in their Old Testament. Thousands of eyes for an eye is how their Israeli ‘offspring’ interpret their religious text. This brutal genocidal approach has now been adopted by Israel’s most subservient English speaking colonies (The USA and Britain). I assume that being vengeful and merciless on a mass scale must be a satisfying experience for some, and exciting for others, but it hardly offers a prospect of a better future let alone the possibility of harmony and reconciliation.

Vindictiveness reduces the victim into the perpetrator of another crime. That which presents itself as defiance is, in practice, a total surrender to terror. If we really want to eliminate terror we had better learn to listen and even find forgiveness. We better invest our energy in understanding our enemies and attempting to decipher their plight. We must dig into the logus that drives hostility, intolerance, hatred, racism and even genocidal inclinations. We must ask what is it which brings about blood thirstiness towards Muslims (Christchurch), What is it that some Muslims hate about us the so called ‘West’ (Sri Lanka)? The above also apply to Jews. The people who claim to be subject to suffering, discrimination and hatred throughout their history should be able to wonder why. Unlike the so called progressives who attribute reactionary ‘phobia’ (homophobia, Islamophobia, Judeophobia etc.) to that which they oppose, I contend that the path towards progress is to search for the rationale.

To eliminate terror and defuse its poison, we have to reinstate our true Western philosophical ethos. We should seek truth and apply the rule of reason. In the hopeful world I grew up in, hostile debate and crude controversy were a source of inspiration. In the world in which we are living, intellectual polarity has been squashed by a tyranny of correctness. When people are silenced and suppressed they revert to violence. When people realise they are losing their elementary freedoms they become dangerous to themselves and their surroundings. If anyone out there is nostalgic about the hope for a better world, act to reinstate Athens in our midst. Listen to your enemy, love your foe, almost as much as you hate yourself.

If the above sounds familiar or even spiritual it is only because the political is dead in the water. What used to be known as a battle between socialism and capitalism, Left and Right, has reemerged as clash between greed and grace…

May 1, 2019 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | 1 Comment

Jordan monarch orders changes to $10 billion gas deal with Israel

Press TV – April 30, 2019

Jordanian King Abdullah II has ordered a review of his country’s multi-billion-dollar deal to import natural gas from the Israeli-occupied territories.

The London-based and Arabic-language Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, citing senior Jordanian political sources, reported that the king made the decision “in a technical report that examines Jordan’s interests from the continuation or the freezing of the agreement.”

Khaled Bakkar, the head of the finance committee in the Jordanian parliament, said the gas deal apart from being “blatant normalization” with the Israeli regime, is “economically weak” based on the feasibility studies.

He stressed that Jordan’s energy production surpassed the country’s needs, and the import of Israeli gas was only for the benefit of the Tel Aviv regime.

On September 26, 2016, Jordan’s National Electric Power Company signed a 10-billion-dollar deal with US-based Noble Energy and Israeli partners, which will tap the Leviathan natural gas field in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Israel for the supply of approximately 1.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, or 300 million cubic feet per day (mcf/d), over a 15-year term. Production is expected to begin around 2019 or 2020.

On March 26, members of Jordan’s parliament called for the cancellation of the gas deal with Israel during a parliamentary session closed to the public.

House Speaker Atef Tarawneh stated that all sectors of the society and members of parliament utterly reject the Jordanian electricity company agreement to buy Israeli natural gas.

Several legislators argued that the multi-billion-dollar deal violates Article 33, section two of the Jordanian constitution, which states: “Treaties and agreements which entail any expenditures to the Treasury of the State or affect the public or private rights of Jordanians shall not be valid unless approved by the parliament; and in no case shall the secret terms in a treaty or agreement be contrary to the overt terms.”

Lawmaker Saddah al-Habashneh said the deal was unconstitutional, stressing that members of parliament were not given access to read what he called the “secret” deal.

“Why are they hiding it? It’s a clue that there is something. It is totally rejected,” he commented.

Habashneh then demanded the deal be scrapped along with Jordan’s peace accord with Israel – known as Wadi Araba Treaty and signed on October 26, 1994.

“We are calling for the Wadi Araba agreement to be dropped. What is peace when they’re attacking Gaza?” the parliamentarian said.

“And with yesterday’s recognition of the Golan Heights, what’s left? We want dignity,” he pointed out.

On March 25, US President Donald Trump signed a proclamation, formally recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. The announcement came as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the White House.

The Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, in a statement, called the US decision a “blatant attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity” of Syria.

“The liberation of the Golan by all available means and its return to the Syrian motherland is an inalienable right,” according to the statement carried by Syria’s official news agency SANA, which added, “The decision … makes the United States the main enemy of the Arabs.”

The Arab League also condemned the move, saying “Trump’s recognition does not change the area’s status.”

Iran, Iraq, Russia and Turkey also condemned the US move.

Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria after the 1967 Six-Day War and later occupied it in a move that has never been recognized by the international community. The regime has built dozens of settlements in the area ever since and has used the region to carry out a number of military operations against the Syrian government.

May 1, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , | Leave a comment

Zarif: US Unilateralism Quickly Replacing Rule of Law with Rule of Jungle

Al-Manar | May 1, 2019

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif called on Wednesday for a collective effort to deal with the alarming unilateralism of the current US administration, which is “quickly replacing the rule of law with the rule of the jungle.”

In his address to Asia Cooperation Dialogue in Doha, the top Iranian diplomat said that the “imposition of the will of a single power over all other nations is an existential threat” for everyone.

“Unless we align our capabilities to secure multilateralism, a rising and aggressive unilateralist wave can cover the entire world, quickly replacing the rule of law with the rule of the jungle,” Zarif said, addressing the 16th Foreign Ministers’ Meeting of the Asia Cooperation Dialogue in Doha, Qatar.

“Let me assure you that in the relentless pursuit of dialogue and multilateralism, Iran will always be a steadfast partner,” the Iranian foreign minister reiterated.

“The position of the Islamic Republic of Iran on the North-South and East-West transit corridors—along with a well-developed transportation infrastructure—plays a crucial role in connecting members of our community to other regions and contributing to the “Pillar of Connectivity” of our forum.”

The Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) is an inter-governmental organization created in Thailand on June 18, 2002 to promote Asian cooperation at a continental level.

The ACD was founded by 18 members. Since March 2016, the organization consists of 34 states.

May 1, 2019 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism | | 1 Comment

US, Israel to supply anti-aircraft missiles to Kurdish militants in Syria: Report

Press TV – May 1, 2019

The United States and Israel are reportedly set to supply anti-aircraft missiles to Kurdish militants in northern Syria amid tensions between Ankara and Washington over the latter’s support for the militants, which the Turkish government views as terrorists.

Citing local sources, Turkey’s Yeni Safak daily reported that the US is set to deliver shipments of Stinger Man Portable Air Defense System (MANPADS) to militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The PKK, it added, has designated the towns of Rmelan and Shaddadah in Syria’s Hasakah Province as well as the Jalabiyah and al-Omar regions as launching points for its American-supplied missiles.

Ankara is unhappy with Washington’s support for Kurdish militants of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which it views as an extension of the PKK, and has repeatedly called on the US administration to stop providing them with arms.

The PKK has been fighting for autonomy inside Turkey for decades and runs bases in neighboring Syria and Iraq as well.

The report further said the regime in Israel has also vowed to supply the Kurds with Spike anti-aircraft missiles in the Syrian provinces of Dayr al-Zawr and Raqqah following high-level meetings between the militants and Tel Aviv.

Israel has long been backing the militants operating against the Syrian government. The regime has, on several occasions, criticized Turkey for its operations against the Kurdish militants.

The US-Kurdish alliance is closely coordinating the missiles’ deployment to Syria as part of a “special joint strategy,” according to the report.

It further said that a group of 30 PKK militants have already received training to handle the advanced anti-aircraft missiles.

Turkey has since 2016 launched two military operations inside Syria against the US-backed Kurdish militants and has threatened a third if they fail to leave the east of the Euphrates.

Like Turkey, the US has listed the PKK as a terrorist group, but views the YPG as an ally in its so-called fight against the Takfiri Daesh terror group.

Turkey has repeatedly questioned Washington’s deployment of heavy weapons in Syria despite the defeat of Daesh.

Last December, US officials said the Pentagon was considering recommending that Kurdish militants be allowed to keep American-supplied weapons after the withdrawal of troops from Syria.

In February, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan slammed Turkey’s NATO allies for supplying huge loads of weapons to Kurdish militants in northern Syria, while ignoring Ankara’s arms purchase requests.

May 1, 2019 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment