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Nasrallah Says Suspicious Sides Exploited Popular Protests, Urges Supporters to Leave Streets

By Marwa Haidar| Al-Manar | October 25, 2019

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah urged the resistance supporters on Friday to leave the streets, noting that a dangerous scheme aimed at targeting Lebanon on the political level has being prepared.

In a televised address to the Lebanese people on the latest local developments, Sayyed Nasrallah said that Hezbollah at first hailed the popular protests but noted that such rallies have turned out to be politically exploited by foreign powers and suspicious sides inside Lebanon.

His eminence listed the achievements of the nation-wide protests which started on October 17, noting that its major achievements were the package or reforms and 2020 budget which was with no taxes.

As he stressed that Hezbollah doesn’t accept toppling the presidency, Sayyed Nasrallah noted that the resistance party also doesn’t back the government resignation.

In this context, Hezbollah S.G. pointed to a call by President Michel Aoun to meet protests representatives.

Sayyed Nasrallah vowed, meanwhile, that the package of reforms announced by Prime Minister Saad Hariri will be implemented on its due dates, stressing that Hezbollah won’t allow delay in this regard.

Achievements of Popular Protests

Noting that Lebanon is witnessing critical events, Sayyed Nasrallah reminded of Hezbollah’s stance at the start of the popular protests.

“We have stressed that Hezbollah respects the popular protests,” Sayyed Nasrallah said, noting that the resistance party didn’t want to take part in the protests in order for these rallies to be far from political affiliations.

“What happened was very good, especially in the first days of the protests, and must be preserved,” his eminence said, noting that he had warned against the politicization of the rallies.

Sayyed Nasrallah then listed the achievements fulfilled by the popular movements which swept across different areas in Lebanon.

“One of the protests’ achievements is announcing a budget with no taxes, something that is  very important.”

He hailed the package of reforms announced by Premier Saad Hariri as “unprecedented,” noting that it was dismissed and misunderstood by many “in a suspicious way”.

Sayyed Nasrallah in this context, vowed that the reforms package will be implemented on its due dates, and that Hezbollah will not allow the delay in this regard.

Talking further about the achievements, Sayyed Nasrallah said the “popular protests indicate that people have regained self-confidence and hope of achieving the change.”

He said that the nation-wide protests “paved the way for political parties to be serious in countering corruption,” noting that the package of reforms is the first step towards countering corruption.

Vacuum and Chaos

Sayyed Nasrallah said that President Michel Aoun had called for dialogue with protest representatives, noting that the remarks of the president were distorted.

As he said that Hezbollah and his allies are open to dialogue with protesters, Sayyed Nasralah stressed that any solution to the current crisis should avoid political vacuum.

In this context, Sayyed Nasrallah called on protesters to choose their representatives.

“O’ protesters choose a leadership that can talk on your behalf. If you can’t do so, then let the people in the protest venues choose representatives in order to hold talks with President Aoun.”

“Any solution should be away from vacuum in political institutions and authority, for such vacuum, in light of hard economic, livelihood and financial condition, would lead to chaos and collapse.”

“We don’t accept toppling of presidency, as we don’t back the government resignation,” Sayyed Nasrallah said.

Commenting on calls for early parliamentary elections, Sayyed Nasrallah said that such step is complicated; stressing that reaching a deal on elections law by political parties in Lebanon is something difficult.

“They say that Hezbollah had contributed to political vacuum before the election of President Aoun,” Sayyed Nasrallah said, referring to remarks by officials belonging to some political parties in Lebanon.

“It’s not right that we took the country to the vacuum. Yes we disrupted the presidential elections, but the government and parliament were working. The roads weren’t blocked as well as the universities and schools were not shut.”

Blocking Roads

Hezbollah S.G. said that blocking roads is one of the civilian forms to protest. However he pointed to the duration of these moves, noting that after nine days, they cause harm for people and hamper their lives.

He also condemned offensive acts staged by protesters who belong to some political parties.

The checkpoints established in the roads by political parties’ supporters who ask the people for their IDs remind of the civil war, Sayyed Nasrallah said.

“I call on protesters to open the roads. Stay in the protest venues but open the roads for people to go to their work, universities and schools.”

Meanwhile, Sayyed Nasrallah denied as baseless, rumors that there are calls to the Lebanese Army to clash with protesters.

Suspicious Sides

Sayyed Nasrallah reiterated Hezbollah’s stance which voiced support to the protests at the first days.

“In the first days we didn’t consider the protests suspicious. We didn’t believe that there is a conspiracy behind such moves.” Sayyed Nasrallah said.

But the scene has changed now, Sayyed Nasralah said, noting that “what started spontaneously has been largely exploited by political parties.”

“Some protests have been financed by embassies and suspicious sides,” his eminence affirmed, adding: “social and livelihood demands have been diverted to target resistance.”

“Several sides are exploiting popular protests to settle their account with Hezbollah and implement foreign agendas.”

“Lebanon has entered dangerous phase, there are prospects that our country will be politically targeted by international, regional powers,” his eminence warned.

“We have information that an anti-resistance scheme is being prepared for Lebanon.”

Sayyed Nasrallah also responded to those who say that Hezbollah ‘is not in the camp of Imam Hussein(PBUH)’ because of his reservations on the protests in the last few days.

“Unlike the current protests, Imam Hussein’s revolution had a clear and sincere leadership,” Sayyed Nasrallah said.

“In the first days of protests we didn’t prevent people to take part in protests. Last Saturday I urged Hezbollah members (not supporters) to refrain from participating since their participation affects the social identity of the rallies,” his eminence said.

“Today, and based on new givens and suspicions I call upon the resistance crowds to leave the streets and the protest venues,” Sayyed Nasrallah concluded.

October 25, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Bundestag MPs demand that US troops leave Germany to avoid tensions with Russia

RT | October 25, 2019

German MPs have demanded that the government expel US forces stationed in Germany. MPs argue that their presence only serves the purposes of the US illegal wars in the Middle East and stokes tensions with Moscow.

Lawmakers from the opposition Left Party have tabled a motion calling on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to immediately stop financing the American military presence in the country and to annul a 1990 treaty allowing US soldiers to be deployed on German soil in the first instance.

“More than 35,000 US soldiers are stationed in Germany, more than in any other European land,” the document, published on the Bundestag’s website, points out, adding that American military bases are used to further Washington’s “policy of war in the Middle East.” The lawmakers particularly expressed their outrage over the fact that the German bases are used “in the continuing illegal practice of targeted US assassinations in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” apparently referring to the American use of strike drones.

The document also states that the continued presence of American forces on German soil leads to nothing but escalation of an already tense situation with regard to relations with Russia. The MPs also denounced any deployment of American troops to bases in Poland and other Central and Eastern European states, saying that such actions cannot be interpreted as anything but “war preparations.”

They also drew attention to the fact that the US troops are being transferred through the territory of the former East Germany, thus violating the spirit of the 1990 ‘2+4’ agreement that facilitated Germany’s reunification on condition that no foreign troops or nuclear weapons would be deployed or stationed there.

A stockpile of 20 US nuclear bombs at the Buehel airbase in western Germany also came in for criticism from the MPs, who found the possibility of these weapons being used by the German Air Forces “in case of emergency” quite disturbing. [The American military] “presence is incompatible with the peace principle enshrined in the constitution.”

The Basic Law, as it is called in Germany, indeed states that “acts tending to and undertaken with intent to disturb the peaceful relations between nations, especially to prepare for a war of aggression, shall be unconstitutional.”

Yet, Berlin apparently is not planning to get rid of the American forces on its soil just yet. The 2020 federal budget shows that the German taxpayer would have to spend €71 million ($78.72 million) on the upkeep of the US and other foreign forces stationed on its territory.

Washington, however, believes this is not enough. In August, two American ambassadors, Georgette Mosbacher in Warsaw and Richard Grenell in Berlin, have hinted that the US was so angry with Berlin not spending enough on defense that it may relocate its forces to neighboring Poland.

“It’s really insulting to expect the US taxpayers to keep paying for over 50,000 Americans in Germany,” Grenell told DPA news agency at that time. The remark sparked quite a stir among German politicians, with Dietmar Bartsch, an MP from the Left Party, saying that American should indeed pull out and take their nukes with them.

Ordinary Germans also do not seem to be particularly scared of the US troops suddenly stripping them of their “protection” as most said that a withdrawal from Germany of American forces would not make them any less secure, according to an August survey.

October 25, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , | 1 Comment

With Little Fanfare, William Barr Formally Announces Orwellian Pre-Crime Program

By Whitney Webb | MintPress News | October 25, 2019

Last Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General William Barr issued a memorandum to all U.S. attorneys, law enforcement agencies and top ranking Justice Department officials announcing the imminent implementation of a new “national disruption and early engagement program” aimed at detecting potential mass shooters before they commit any crime.

Per the memorandum, Barr has “directed the Department [of Justice] and the FBI to lead an effort to refine our ability to identify, assess and engage potential mass shooters before they strike.” The Attorney General further described the coming initiative, slated to be implemented early next year, as “an efficient, effective and programmatic strategy to disrupt individuals who are mobilizing towards violence, by all lawful means.” More specific information about the program is set to follow the recent memorandum, according to Barr, though it is unclear if that forthcoming document will be made public.

Barr also requested that those who received the memorandum send their “best and brightest” to a training conference at FBI headquarters this coming December where the DOJ, FBI and “private sector partners” will prepare for the full implementation of the new policy and will also be able to provide “new ideas” for inclusion in the program. 

Perhaps the most jarring aspect of the memorandum is Barr’s frank admission that many of the “early engagement” tactics that the new program would utilize were “born of the posture we adopted with respect to terrorist threats.” In other words, the foundation for many of the policies utilized following the post-9/11 “war on terror” are also the foundation for the “early engagement” tactics that Barr seeks to use to identify potential criminals as part of this new policy. Though those “war on terror” policies have largely targeted individuals abroad, Barr’s memorandum makes it clear that some of those same controversial tactics will soon be used domestically.

Barr’s memorandum also alludes to current practices by the FBI and DOJ that will shape the new plan. Though more specifics of the new policy will be provided in the forthcoming notice, Barr notes that “newly developed tactics” used by the Joint Terrorist Task Forces “include the use of clinical psychologists, threat assessment professionals, intervention teams and community groups” to detect risk and suggests that the new “early engagement program” will work along similar lines. Barr also alludes to this “community” approach in a separate instance, when he writes that “when the public ‘says something’ to alert us to a potential threat, we must do something.”

However, the memorandum differentiates suspected terrorists from the individuals this new program is set to pursue. Barr states that, unlike many historical terrorism cases, “many of today’s public safety threats appear abruptly and with sometimes only ambiguous indications of intent” and that many of these individuals “exhibit symptoms of mental illness and/or have substance abuse problems.”

Thus, the goal of the program is ostensibly to circumvent these issues by finding new and likely controversial ways to determine intent. As will be shown later in this report, Barr’s recent actions suggest that the way this will be accomplished is through increased mass surveillance of everyday Americans and the use of algorithms to analyze that bulk data for vaguely defined symptoms of “mental illness.”

Barr also suggested the likely courses of action that would follow the identification of a given individual as a “potential mass shooter.” The Attorney General notes that in past cases individuals deemed a violent or terroristic threat before they commit a crime are subject to “detention, court-ordered mental health treatment, substance abuse counseling, electronic monitoring”, among other measures. Ostensibly, the new program would then apply these same practices to individuals in the U.S. that federal authorities believe are “mobilizing towards violence,” as Barr put it.

Bill Barr’s been busy

The memorandum, despite heralding a new era of Orwellian surveillance and “pre-crime” on a national level, has been sparsely covered by the mainstream media. One of the few reports that did cover the new Justice Department policy, published Wednesday by the Huffington Post, framed the new Barr-led initiative as largely positive and asserted that the “anti-terror tactics” to which Barr alluded could “help thwart mass shooters.” No mention was made in the piece of the threat such a program is likely to pose to civil liberties.

Furthermore, no mention was made of Barr’s clear push over the past few months to lay the groundwork for this recently announced program. Indeed, since becoming Attorney General under President Trump, Barr has spearheaded numerous efforts to this end, including pushing for a government backdoor into consumer apps or devices that utilize encryption and for a dramatic increase of long-standing yet controversial warrantless electronic surveillance programs.

On July 23rd, Barr gave the keynote address at the 2019 International Conference on Cyber Security (ICCS) and mainly focused on the need for consumer electronic products and applications that use encryption to offer a “backdoor” for the government, specifically law enforcement, in order to obtain access to encrypted communications as a matter of public safety.

Barr went onto say that “warrant-proof encryption is also seriously impairing our ability to monitor and combat domestic and foreign terrorists.” Barr stated that “smaller terrorist groups and ‘lone wolf’ actors” — such as those involved in the series of mass shootings in California, Texas and Ohio that occurred in the weeks after his speech — “have turned increasingly to encryption.” Barr later noted that he was specifically referencing encryption used by “consumer products and services such as messaging, smartphones, email, and voice and data applications.”

To overcome the resistance by some private companies — who do not want to renege on their right to privacy by giving the government backdoor access to their devices — and American consumers, Barr tellingly anticipated “a major incident may occur at any time that will galvanize public opinion on these issues.” Shortly after this speech, several mass shootings, including one at an El Paso Walmart took place, which again brought the issue to the forefront of political discourse.

As MintPress reported at the time, Barr’s uncanny prediction and a litany of other oddities related to the El Paso shooting left many answered questions about the FBI’s foreknowledge of the event. In addition, the tragedy did appear to serve as the very “galvanizing” event that Barr had anticipated, as the solution offered by President Trump in the wake of the shootings was the creation of a government backdoor into encryption as well as calling for the very pre-crime system Barr formally announced just last week.

The pre-crime dragnet takes shape

More recently, Barr and U.K. Home Secretary Priti Patel signed a data access agreement on October 3rd that allows both countries to demand electronic data on consumers from tech companies based in the other country without legal restrictions. It is the first executive agreement reached as part of the controversial Clarifying Overseas Use of Data Act or CLOUD Act passed by the U.S. Congress last year.

The CLOUD Act has come under fire from rights groups who have warned that the legislation gives “unlimited jurisdiction to U.S. law enforcement over any data controlled by a service provider, regardless of where the data is stored and who created it” and that this also “applies to content, metadata, and subscriber information”, including private messages.

Yet, Barr and Patel claimed that the data access agreement will instead “enhance” civil liberties and further asserted that the agreement would be used to go after “pedophiles” and “organized crime”, even though both Barr and his U.K. equivalent have shown minimal interest in pursuing the co-conspirators of child sex trafficker and pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, whose sex trafficking network has been linked to both organized crime and the intelligence agencies of both the U.S. and Israel. Some have charged that the lack of interest on the part of William Barr is due to the fact that Barr’s father once hired the now deceased pedophile.

Notably, Jeffrey Epstein also had an apparent interest in pre-crime technologies, and was a key funder of the controversial technology company Carbyne911, along with former Israeli Prime Minister and close Epstein associate Ehud Barak. Carbyne911 is one of several Israeli companies that market their software products to the U.S. as a means of reducing mass shootings and improving the response times of emergency service providers. These companies boast numerous and troubling connections to the governments and intelligence communities of both the U.S. and Israel. Epstein, himself linked to the intelligence apparatuses of both nations, invested at least $1 million in Carbyne911 through a “data mining” company he controlled.

As was detailed in a recent MintPress exposé on these companies, Carbyne911 and similar companies extract any and all data from consumer smartphones for merely making emergency calls and then use it to “analyze the past and present behavior of their callers, react accordingly, and in time predict future patterns,” with the ultimate goal of smart devices making emergency calls to the authorities, as opposed to human beings.

Data obtained from these software products, already used by several U.S. counties and slated to be adopted nationwide as part of a new national “next generation” 911 system, will then be shared with the same law enforcement agencies who will soon be implementing Barr’s “national disruption and early engagement program” to target individuals flagged as potentially violent based on vague criteria.

Notably, following the El Paso shooting, President Trump has been mulling the creation of a new federal agency known as HARPA that would work with the Department of Justice to use “breakthrough technologies with high specificity and sensitivity for early diagnosis of neuropsychiatric violence,” specifically “advanced analytical tools based on artificial intelligence and machine learning.” The data to be analyzed would be harvested from consumer electronic devices as well as information provided by health-care providers to identify who may be a threat.

It is important to point out that such initiatives, whether HARPA or Barr’s newly announced program, are likely to define “mental illness” to include some political beliefs, given that the FBI recently stated in an internal memo that “conspiracy theories” were motivating some domestic terror threats and a series of questionable academic studies have sought to link “conspiracy theorists” to mental illnesses. Thus, the Department of Justice and “mental health professionals” have essentially already defined those who express disbelief in official government narratives as both a terror threat and mentally ill — and thus worthy of special attention from pre-crime programs.

Sleepwalking into a nightmare

This widely overlooked background is crucial to understanding William Barr’s recent memorandum and the massive and greatly underreported shift in the policy it heralds. Over a period of several months, Barr — aided by “private sector partners” as well as other current and former government officials — has been laying the groundwork for the system he has now formally announced.

Through the software products offered by companies like Carbyne911 and through Barr’s personal crusade to mandate government backdoors into encrypted software and products, Barr’s new pre-crime program already has the tools for the mass extraction and storage of consumer data by means of both private tech companies and public services like emergency call centers.

Through the already drafted plan for HARPA and its proposed solution to identifying “mental illness” via artificial intelligence and machine learning, this newly announced “pre-crime” program will have the means to analyze the mass of data harvested from consumer electronic devices from Carbyne and other means using vague “mental health criteria.”

While many of the specifics of the program remain unknown, the actions of Barr and others in government and private sectors show that this newly announced initiative is the product of years of careful planning and many of the tactics and tools it is poised to use have been in the works for months and even years.

In recent decades, and especially after the September 11 attacks, Americans have quietly traded an increasing number of civil liberties for increased government “counter-terrorism” programs and wars purportedly waged to “keep us safe.” Now, those same policies used to target “terrorists” are set to be used against ordinary Americans, whose electronic lives and communications are now set to be scoured for evidence of “mental illness.” If these untransparent algorithms flag an individual, that could be enough lead to court-ordered “mental health treatment” or even imprisonment regardless of whether or not a crime was committed or even planned.

As a consequence, William Barr’s coming “pre-crime” program is arguably worse than the stuff of dystopian science fiction novels and films as it not only aims to detain Americans who have committed no crime but will expressly target individuals based on their use of electronic consumer products and the contents of their communications with their friends, family, co-workers, and others.

Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.

October 25, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment

The Democratic Party’s Umpteenth Nervous Breakdown

By Daniel Lazare | Strategic Culture Foundation | October 25, 2019

Another week, another Democratic Party nervous breakdown. Actually, last week saw two such breakdowns, one in response to White House spokesman Mick Mulvaney and the other with regard to remarks by an ever-paranoid Hillary Clinton.

Let’s begin with poor Mick, whose innocuous comments about the Ukraine triggered the first round of hysterics. His press conference last Thursday wasn’t going half-badly considering that he faced the impossible task of explaining why Donald Trump thought it was a good idea to host next June’s Group of Seven conference at a golf resort he owns in Miami.

But it was when he moved on to why his boss held up nearly $400 million in Ukrainian military aid that matters really got out of hand.

The reason, Mulvaney explained, was corruption: “President Trump is not a big fan of foreign aid. Never has been. Still isn’t. Doesn’t like spending money overseas, especially when it’s poorly spent. And that is exactly what drove this decision.”

Then came the money quote: “Did he also mention to me in pass[ing] the corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely. No question about that. But that’s it. And that’s why we held up the money.”

Corporate media outlets went into a collective swoon. CNN said that Mulvaney’s remarks confirmed that Trump was trying to push the Ukraine “into investigating Democrats,” the Washington Post said they were proof that the White House was looking to validate “Trump’s favorite whackjob conspiracy theory,” while the New York Times said Washington was in “turmoil.”

But the real whackjob was the media itself. Admittedly, the Ukraine story is complicated because it concerns two separate investigations. One involves Rudy Giuliani, the president’s private attorney, who is looking into the high-paid job that Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, landed at a Ukrainian natural-gas company known as Burisma Holdings while the vice president was allegedly battling Ukrainian corruption. The other involves Attorney General William Barr, whom Trump has assigned to look into the origins of Russiagate.

One investigation is private and unofficial, which is why the fact that Trump would ask Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to help Giuliani out in his famous July 25 phone call is indeed troubling. But the other is perfectly legitimate. Considering that the Russiagate pseudo-scandal dominated headlines for two and a half years, Americans deserve to know how it arose and there’s nothing wrong with Trump leaning on Zelensky to help Barr get to the bottom of it.

Mulvaney left no doubt as to which investigation was which. “The look back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the thing that he was worried about in corruption with that nation,” he said. “And that is absolutely appropriate.” The prose may be a bit awkward but the meaning is clear. What concerned Trump were allegations of Russian interference in 2016, not the Burisma appointment two years earlier.

But reporters ignored the distinction in their rush to judgment. They did so because they’re incompetent or, more likely, because they’re intent on blurring the difference between the two. They’re terrified that the Barr investigation will undermine the report that their hero, Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, issued last spring. Hence, they want to head him off at the pass by lumping his investigation in with Giuliani’s and tarring him as politically biased before his work is even complete.

It’s a desperate ploy that will end up undermining Mueller even more than he’s already undermined himself and will undermine Democratic as well.

The other nervous episode concerned Hillary Clinton’s astounding comments about Green Party leader Jill Stein and Democratic primary candidate Tulsi Gabbard in an interview with former Obama campaign manager (and Clinton sycophant) David Plouffe. “Yes, she’s a Russian asset,” Clinton said of Stein. “I mean totally.” Of Gabbard, she added: “I think they’ve got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate. She’s the favorite of the Russians.”

The comments ignited a firestorm. When Gabbard shot back that Clinton is “the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long,” Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill tried to tough it out. “Divisive language filled with vitriol and conspiracy theories?” he said. “Can’t imagine a better proof point than this.”

But it’s not proof at all. Gabbard’s outrage was entirely justified while Clinton’s comments are examples of the free-form paranoia that has typified the anti-Russia campaign from the start. Evidence? Democrats like Clinton don’t need no stinking evidence (to paraphrase “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre”). They figure that they can hurl the collusion charge at foreign-policy dissidents as much as they like and that the public will fall for it every time.

But it no longer works. People are wising up, and weekly bouts of outrage only wind up making Democrats look more foolish than they already are. This is why impeachment will fizzle and why the Democratic establishment is facing destruction at the hands of either Sanders or Trump. The phoniness of people like Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and Adam Schiff is as clear as the midday sun. It’s why they deserve to lose, and why they almost certainly will.

October 25, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Whitewashing Neoliberal Repression in Chile and Ecuador

By Lucas Koerner | FAIR | October 23, 2019

Throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, people are rising up against right-wing, US-backed governments and their neoliberal austerity policies.

Currently in Chile, the government of billionaire Sebastian Piñera has deployed the army to crush nationwide demonstrations against inequality sparked by a subway fare hike.

In Ecuador, indigenous peoples, workers and students recently brought the country to a standstill during 11 days of protests against the gutting of fuel subsidies by President Lenín Moreno as part of an IMF austerity package.

One might expect these popular rebellions to receive unreservedly sympathetic coverage from international media that claim to be on the side of democracy and the common people. On the contrary, corporate journalists frequently describe these uprisings as dangerous alterations of “law and order,” laden with “violence,” “chaos” and “unrest.”

This portrait contrasts remarkably with coverage of anti-government protests in Venezuela, where generally the only violence highlighted is that allegedly perpetrated by the state. In the eyes of Western elite opinion, Venezuela’s middle-class opposition have long been leaders of a legitimate popular protest against an authoritarian, anti-American regime. Poor people rebelling against repressive US client states are considered an unacceptable deviation from this script.

‘Crackdown’ in Venezuela

Corporate journalists have never been able to contain their enthusiasm for the right-wing Venezuelan opposition’s repeated coup attempts, which are regularly cast as a “pro-democracy” movement (FAIR.org5/10/19).

In 2017, Venezuela’s opposition led four months of violent, insurrectionary protests demanding early presidential elections, resulting in over 125 dead,  including protesters, government supporters and bystanders. It was the opposition’s fifth major effort to oust the government by force since 2002.

Despite the demonstrations featuring attacks on journalists, lynchings and assassinations of government supporters, they were depicted as a “uprising” against “authoritarianism” (New York  Times6/22/17), a “rebellion” in the face of “the government’s crackdown” (Bloomberg5/18/17) and a David-like movement of “young firebrands” facing down a sinister regime (Guardian5/25/17). Reporters frequently attributed the mounting death toll to state security forces (France 247/21/17; Newsweek, 6/20/17Washington Post6/3/17), while generally ignoring opposition political violence reported to be responsible for over 30 deaths.

The pattern was repeated in January, when deadly clashes broke out across the country  in the days before and after opposition leader Juan Guaidó declared himself “interim president” with the US’s encouragement. Corporate outlets described the events as a “violent crackdown” (Independent1/24/19), with security forces “spreading terror…to target critics” (Reuters2/3/19) and “soldiers and paramilitary gunmen…hunting opposition activists” (Miami Herald, 1/27/19). International journalists based their accounts largely on pro-opposition sources, suppressing inconvenient details that complicated their Manichean narrative, such as the fact that some 38% of protests were violent and at least 28% featured armed confrontations with authorities.

Unlike in Chile and Ecuador, corporate outlets have consistently vilified Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro—who won 6.2 million votes, or 31% of the electorate last year—as an “authoritarian” (FAIR.org4/11/198/5/19) or a “dictator” (FAIR.org4/11/19), justifying the latest coup effort.

Chile ‘Riots’ 

In recent days, Chileans have taken to the streets in mass demonstrations against the Piñera administration, following a further increase in Santiago’s exorbitant subway fare.

Beginning as high school student–led protests, the movement has escalated into a full-scale rebellion against the savagely unequal neoliberal order, prompting the government to militarize the streets and impose a curfew for the first time since the Western-backed Pinochet dictatorship (1973–90).

Despite the largest protests since the return of democracy, the international corporate media have largely referred to them in pejorative terms such as “riots” (CNN10/19/19CNBC10/21/19), “violent unrest” (New York Times10/19/19) and “chaos” (NPR10/19/19Vice10/21/19), providing a moral casus belli for war against the people.

Revealingly, no major outlets have described the government’s brutal repression as a “crackdown,” nor called into question the legitimacy of Piñera, who was elected in 2017 with the backing of 26% of registered voters.

It’s true that international journalists are beginning to reference allegations of human rights violations reported by Chile’s National Human Rights Institute, including, as of October 23, 173 people shot and 18 dead, among them at least five presumably at the hands of authorities.

However, the victims of state violence in Chile have not received anywhere near the amount of attention international outlets have dedicated to protester deaths in Venezuela, where the dead have been movingly profiled (New York Times6/10/17BBC5/14/17)—provided they were not lynched by the opposition.

In two emblematic cases, Manuel Rebolledo, 23, died on October 21 after being run over by a navy vehicle near Concepción, while Ecuadorian national Romario Veloz, 26, was shot dead the day before at a protest in La Serena. Neither men have been mentioned by name in Western press reports.

It would appear that the only worthy victims, in the eyes of US corporate journalists, are those that have propaganda value from the standpoint of Western foreign policy interests. Reporters spontaneously empathize with neoliberal technocrats like Piñera, even as they occasionally chide them for “excesses.”

“Mr. Piñera said that he is mindful of the broader grievances that fueled the unrest… But he seemed to have difficulty coming to grips with the real source of the population’s frustrations,” the New York Times (10/21/19) sympathetically observed, before going on to note that the president has declared “war” against his own people.

The paper of record suggested that Chileans might find the imposition of martial law “jarring,” given that “the military had killed and tortured thousands of people just decades ago in the name of restoring order.” But despite the article being headlined “What You Need to Know About the Unrest in Chile,” the Times did not find it relevant to mention anywhere that state security forces were currently maiming and killing demonstrators in the streets, and allegedly torturing detainees.

The dominant narrative fed to the public is that Piñera’s government has been “inept” in responding to the protests (Economist10/20/19Reuters10/21/19New York Times10/21/19), but never criminal or cruel.

No Western newspapers have published scathing op-eds calling Piñera a “dictator” and demanding their government take action to “restore democracy,” as they have done regularly in the case of Venezuela (, 4/11/19). Rather, they counsel the billionaire president to address “inequality,” barring any reference to what is increasingly coming to resemble state terror (New York Times10/22/19Guardian10/23/19Bloomberg10/23/19).

Corporate journalists continue  to whitewash Piñera, describing him as “center-right” (Guardian10/21/19CNBC10/19/19Reuters10/21/19) and concealing his personal ties to murderous dictator Augusto Pinochet and those of his top cabinet members.

Ecuador ‘Violence’ 

Corporate journalists have shown only marginally more sympathy to Ecuador’s recent indigenous-led uprising against IMF-imposed austerity measures, frequently described in headlines as “violent protests” (CNN10/8/19Guardian10/8/19USA Today10/9/19Financial Times10/8/19).

President Moreno has yet to be labeled by the international media as “authoritarian,” despite ordering soldiers to repress demonstrators in the streets, imposing a curfew, suspending basic civil liberties and arresting rival politicians.

Since betraying his campaign promise to continue his predecessor Rafael Correa’s left-wing policies. and embracing the oligarchy he ran against, Moreno has become the darling of Western elite opinion (FAIR.org2/4/18).

Like in Chile, corporate outlets have whitewashed Moreno’s vicious crackdown, which left seven dead, around a thousand arrested and a similar figure wounded. However, corporate outlets have been even more nefarious in obfuscating the origins of the crisis in Ecuador.

As Joe Emersberger has recently exposed for FAIR (10/23/19), Western journalists’ favorite lie is that Moreno “inherited a debt crisis that ballooned as his predecessor and one-time mentor, former President Rafael Correa, took out loans for a major dam, highways, schools, clinics and other projects” (New York Times10/8/19). In fact, the country’s debt-to-GDP level remains low, though it has increased slightly under Moreno, due not to public works but to his pro-elite policies.

Corporate outlets have for the most part admitted that Moreno has presented no evidence to back his ludicrous claims of Correa and Maduro supporters orchestrating the protests; nonetheless, they have, with few exceptions (DW10/14/19Reuters10/12/19), shamefully ignored Moreno’s draconian persecution of Correaist politicians (including elected representatives), which he justifies on the basis of the very same conspiracy theory. This coverage contrasts sharply with the red carpet treatment regularly provided to Venezuela’s US-friendly opposition politicians, regardless of how many coups they perpetrate (Reuters4/30/19LA Times4/30/19Guardian2/6/19).

Western Media Gendarmerie 

It is not coincidental that Western journalists stand aghast at the violence of the excluded and exploited in Chile and Ecuador, while rationalizing that spearheaded by Washington-backed opposition elites in Venezuela.

This bias has nothing to do with any actual amount of looting or arson. Rather, it is the eruption of the racialized poor into polite bourgeois society’s technocratic body politic that is viscerally violent to local neocolonial elites and their Western professional-class backers.

Ecuador’s protests are the latest in a long line of anti-neoliberal uprisings, which brought down three presidents between 1997 and 2005.

The rebellion exploding in Chile is the largest in over a generation, evidencing the terminal legitimacy crisis of the “low-intensity democracy” crafted by Pinochet to maintain the neoliberal model imposed at gunpoint. The Chilean uprising has genuinely terrified elites, leading  the right-wing president to wage war on his own people. At stake is not just the stability of a key Western ally, but more crucially, neoliberalism’s ideological narrative that has upheld Chile as a “success story.”

Corporate journalists will most likely continue to muffle themselves vis-a-vis repressive US client states, in the same way that they systematically conceal the impact of Washington’s sanctions on Venezuela (FAIR.org6/26/19), which are estimated to have already killed 40,000 Venezuelans since 2017.

If the first casualty of war is truth, its self-anointed purveyors in the international media have much blood on their hands indeed.

October 25, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | Leave a comment

Clashes in northeastern Syria put Turkish-Russian Memorandum at risk

By Sarah Abed | October 25, 2019

On Tuesday, exactly two weeks after Ankara launched its cross border military operation “Operation Peace Spring”, in northern Syria east of the Euphrates River, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met in Sochi for what proved to be a lengthy diplomatic discussion that resulted in an agreement that sets the stage for de-escalating tensions in that region.

The Russian-Turkish memorandum published by the Kremlin covers ten mutually agreed upon points. Many of the same issues that were addressed but not resolved by the United States and Turkey during their recent agreements were mentioned.

The agreement begins with reiterating the importance of maintaining Syria’s political unity and territorial integrity and the protection of Turkey’s national security as well.

Both parties also confirmed their commitment and emphasized their determination to combating all forms of terrorism and to not allow separatist agendas to prosper, this of course is referring to the US-backed Kurdish militia’s and their so-called self-administration policies which are illegitimate.

The importance of the 1998 Adana Agreement which was created as a security pact between Ankara and Damascus and ensures the PKK will not be allowed to regain momentum in Syria and if it does Turkey reserves the right to carry cross border military operations against them. Although Syria never denounced the pact, diplomatic relations during the conflict were severely damaged and after the PKK was squashed it re-emerged as the PYD, and Turkey views the PYD, YPG, and the newest US created rebranding the SDF all to be Syrian offshoots of the PKK.

Wednesday at noon a new deadline for the Kurdish militias to leave with their weapons started, giving them 150 hours to leave from the 30km Turkish-Syrian border. Syrian border guards along with Russian military police will enter to facilitate the removal of YPG members. After the deadline Russian and Turkish patrols will start in a 10km deep area in the west and the east of the area surrounding the area covered by “Operation Peace Spring” except for Qamishli.

In addition to the YPG elements in the previously stated areas, all Kurdish fighters and their weapons must be removed from Manbij and Tal Rifat. Measures will be taken to prevent infiltrations of terrorist elements.

As for the refugees, joint efforts will be launched to safely and voluntarily return them. Joint monitoring and verification mechanisms will also be established to coordinate and oversee that all parts of this memorandum are effectively implemented.

Both Russia and Turkey will continue to work on finding a lasting political solution to the Syrian conflict within Astana Mechanism and will support the activity of the Constitutional Committee taking place next week.

The issue of ISIS prisoners was also brought up, and the importance of preventing detainees from escaping.

Turkey is accomplishing its goal of removing Kurdish militias from its border by stating they are a threat to its national security. Regardless, it’s operation and support for terrorist factions is illegal and NATO’s pretentious concern is unavailing.

However, there’s another incentive to discontinuing its cross-border military operation, the US lifted sanctions which were imposed on October 14th and this will drastically improve Turkey’s aching economy.

President Trump was up against bipartisan disapproval for his decision to withdrawal US troops and end military support for the Kurdish factions, and he stood his ground. And lest we forget, America’s number one ally in the region, Israel, is the biggest supporter of separatist Kurdish factions in Iraq and Syria, the independent Kurdistan project is conveniently aligned with the Greater Israel project. Standing up to both Capital Hill and Israel is a bold move.

As for the Israeli-Kurdish relationship, not much has changed since I originally reported on their mutually beneficial dealings a few years ago. Israel’s selfish interests in supporting Kurdish independence remain two-fold, oil and to counter supposed “increased Iranian influence” in the region.

President Trump is trying to end what the Obama administration began with their failed “regime change” efforts in Syria. As Trump mentioned, Washington has wasted 8 Trillion dollars in Middle Eastern wars, which brought forth nothing but death and destruction to the region, killing millions and displacing many more millions of innocent people.

Immediately following his lengthy meeting with Erdogan, Putin spoke with his Syrian counterpart Bashar al Assad who expressed support for the memorandum and confirmed Syrian border guards were ready to work with the Russian military police.

The Kremlin reiterated the need for all illegal foreign military presence to leave Syria. Also, the Syrian government needs to regain control of all the oil facilities in northeastern Syria.

Russia wants a broad dialogue to take place between the Syrian government and the Kurds living in northeastern Syria. The constitutional committee in cooperation with the United Nations will also work towards peaceful political process in Syria.

With the Syrian army establishing 15 observation posts on the Turkish Syrian border east of the Euphrates and the Kurdish militias being forced to move south outside of the “safe zone” and Syrian refugees returning to northern Syria, it’s only a matter of time before the US/Kurdish militias lose their grip on these oil fields. US troops are currently guarding some of them, Trump even insinuated on Thursday that Kurds should move into these oil rich areas.

President Erdogan needs to immediately rein in the so-called Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) militants which consist mostly of Free Syrian Army terrorists and other factions that merged immediately prior to the “Peace Spring Operation”. Even with the ongoing Turkish-Russian “safe zone” agreement in place, the SNA has launched several attacks south and southeast of Ras al-Ayn while attempting to expand their presence in the area.

October 25, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | Leave a comment

The Neoliberal Ghost of Pinochet Is Finally Being Exorcised From Chile

By Paul Antonopoulos | October 25, 2019

More than 46 years of initially military imposed neoliberalism has finally exploded into widespread frustration, protest and violence. This neoliberalism culminated in 2017 with twelve businessmen, among them Chilean President Sebatián Piñera, monopolizing at least 17% of the national GDP, demonstrating the huge gap in wealth equity. There is little doubt why the latest protests have exploded violently, with 18 dead so far – Piñera had declared war on his own people to protect his lucrative monopoly racket.

It is without surprise he had declared war. The aggressive neoliberalism that has dominated Chile since the 1973 Chilean coup d’état when socialist President Salvador Allende was killed and eventually replaced by neoliberal Augusto Pinochet, with the backing and blessing of U.S. President Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, the CIA and the so-called “Chicago Boys” neoliberal economic team.

Although the so-called communist threat was defeated in Chile, it was not until 1990 for the kinder face of neoliberalism to return to the country, with the first democratic election taking place since the coup. The return to democracy had not meant any differences to the economic system.

The appearance of GDP growth in the South American country created the mythology of the Chilean miracle, ‘thanks’ to the Chicago Boys, the group of young Chilean economists who studied at the University of Chicago under the adviser to U.S. President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, professor Milton Friedman. They were the so-called economic liberators and advised Pinochet on applying complete free-market policies, essentially to privatize state-owned industries and companies, and to open the economy.

The pernicious globalist model was applied and deemed a miracle because of significant GDP growth. However, this is only to the benefit of shareholders and private companies and does not reflect on the average Chilean experience. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Gini coefficient value, a method to measure wealth distribution, stood at a record 0.50 in 2017, one of the highest inequality coefficients in the world.

This is because the incomes of the richest 10 percent of Chile are 26 times higher than the incomes of the poorest 10 percent of the population. This is partly also due because the of an unfair taxation system that creates a massive tax burden on the poor as Chile’s government earns less from income taxes than any other country in the 35-member OECD. Despite praises of the supposed fantastic economic performance, almost a third of Chilean workers are employed in part-time jobs, with one in two Chileans having low literacy skills, according to the OECD.

And now as Chile literally burns and 18 people are dead, we cannot forget that former president Michelle Bachelet grotesquely dedicated lessons on “human rights” against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. Although Piñera apologized, it was not for his declaration of war against the people, but rather for the decades of unresolved problems, followed by an announcement for a new social and economic program.

A reversal of the crippling neoliberal economic system? Highly doubtful and probably more a Band-Aid option.

Neoliberal propagandist Enrique Krauze Kleinbort – accused of the coup attempt to overthrow Mexican President López Obrador – proclaimed that Chile was ‘the role model’ for Latin American economic growth. If the inequality is considered a ‘role model,’ it shows that the oligarchs of Latin America have not realized a growing trend of violent opposition to neoliberalism, as the recent case in Ecuador demonstrates.

The very fact that Piñera attempted to increase transportation and energy costs in Chile demonstrates his lack of knowledge on international outrage to neoliberalism. The French Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) in France began their actions 12 months ago, which also spread across Europe, when neoliberal President Emmanuel Macron attempted to increase gasoline taxes. In 2018, Brazilian truck drivers blocked roads in a demand for a decrease in diesel prices. Mexico in 2017 saw a 20% rise in fuel prices that exploded into riots.

However, the attempted increase in transportation and energy costs was only the spark that lit the fire. As Piñera, the male part of a monopoly over the Chilean economy, was forced to admit this is an explosion after decades worth of frustration, neglect and abuse. Candida Cecilia Morel, the wife of the billionaire Piñera, sent a WhatsApp message that was leaked in the media, in which she comments on the violence and the protests shaking her country – and it certainly does show the disconnect that the elite of Chile have with the common Chilean. The message said that “we are absolutely overwhelmed, it is like a foreign invasion, alien,” and that “we will have to decrease our privileges and share with others.” Her suggestion to decrease “privileges and shares” is a stark reminder of Charles Dickens 1800’s Britain.

With such elitist comments and referring to Chileans as aliens, there is little wonder that there has been little calm despite Piñera’s half-done apology and promises of more neoliberalism with a softer punch.  Although circles close to the Chilean Presidency affirm that the disturbances and destabilization are orchestrated from abroad, it is unlikely to be true. We can of course expect that Venezuela will be the scape goat by some Chilean oligarchs, just as the oligarchs in Ecuador and Colombia do, but there remains little evidence that this is the case.

Rather, as Piñera has had to attest, decades of neoliberalism is the cause of this. However, perhaps inspired by events in Ecuador, it appears that the Chilean people are finally exorcising the neoliberal ghost of Pinochet from its country. It appears that the violence will not end unless the Chilean president makes drastic changes to the Chilean economy. Whether he does this or not remains to be seen.

Paul Antonopoulos is a Research Fellow at the Center for Syncretic Studies.

October 25, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , | 1 Comment

West’s hacking allegations aimed at ‘driving a wedge’ between Iran, Russia: Moscow

Press TV – October 25, 2019

Russia has dismissed a report by Western media this week that Russian hackers had used Iranian computer infrastructure to attack dozens of countries across the world.

Citing British and American spy agencies, Reuters reported Monday that a cyber-espionage group, known as Turla and allegedly linked to Russian intelligence agency, had hijacked the tools of an Iranian group to lead attacks in more than 35 countries over the last 18 months.

The attacks were allegedly carried out against government departments, military installations and industrial organizations, the British news agency said.

A spokesman for the Russian embassy in the UK reacted to the report on Thursday, describing it as “an unsavory interpretation of a concise report of the British National Cyber Security Center and the American National Security Agency.”

“The security services themselves are not putting forward any accusations against Russia and Russian citizens,” he added.

The spokesman said that the publications are aimed at driving “a wedge” between Moscow and Tehran, both of which have repeatedly denied Western hacking allegations in the past.

Russia and Iran enjoy strong bilateral ties and have been working in a strategic partnership format on their issues of mutual interest.

Russia has been critical of Washington’s exit from a 2015 multilateral deal with Iran and the re-imposition of harsh sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Tehran and Moscow have also been assisting Syria in its efforts to uproot the terrorist groups that have been wreaking havoc on the Arab state since 2011 with the backing of Washington and its allies.

October 25, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment