Aletho News


Iran’s fuel shipment to Venezuela guaranteed by its missile power

Press TV – May 16, 2020

Iran is shipping tons of gasoline to Venezuela in defiance of US sanctions on both countries in a symbolic move guaranteed by Tehran’s missile prowess.

Unconfirmed reports and tanker monitoring groups suggest that at least five Iranian-flagged tankers are transporting fuel to Venezuela through the Atlantic Ocean despite the US sanctions on both Tehran and Caracas.

Iran has intentionally hoisted its own flag over the huge tankers which are navigating through the Atlantic before the eyes of the US Navy.

Iran is shipping large consignments of gasoline to Venezuela even though the US would try to intercept the shipments and seize the tankers.

There are unconfirmed reports that the US Navy has deployed its USS Detroit (LCS-7), USS Lassen (DDG-82), USS Preble (DDG-88), and USS Farragut (DDG-99) to the Caribbean along with its patrol aircraft Boeing P8-Poseidon for possible encounter with the Iranian vessels.

However, analysts say it is very unlikely that the US makes such a mistake, as it would have serious repercussions for the Trump administration ahead of the November elections.

The US would not dare to seize the Iranian vessels especially after Iran’s reaction to a similar move by the United Kingdom, a close ally of Washington.

Iran also has the upper hand thanks to its missile power, which was shown to the US in the IRGC’s retaliatory missile attacks on the Ain al-Assad Airbase in Iraq, which accommodated American troops.

The US was also reminded of the Islamic Republic’s missile prowess following the recent successful launch of Nour-1 military satellite, which reached its orbit using the Qased satellite carrier. Some Western analysts claim the satellite achievements are a prelude to Iran’s program to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

Confident about its missile capabilities, Iran is going on with the gasoline shipment to its ally in Latin America, mocking the US sanctions on the oil sectors of both countries.

The US seems to be between the rock and hard place. While it is unlikely for Washington to dare to intercept the tankers, if they reach their destination safe and sound, it may tarnish the “superpower” forever.

The fuel shipment also shows Iran’s success in turning into an exporter of gasoline after years of importing the fuel.

A senior official in US President Donald Trump’s administration told Reuters on Thursday that the United States was considering measures against Iran in response to the fuel shipment.

The official said Washington has a “high degree of certainty” that the Venezuelan government is paying Iran in gold for the fuel.

If these claims are confirmed, the “fuel for gold” exchange is also a great achievement for the Islamic Republic amid the US’ maximum pressure policy, which deprives the country’s economy of billions of dollars’ worth of oil revenues.

There are reports that Iran is receiving nine tons of gold in exchange for the fuel its ships transport to Venezuela. Under the cruel sanctions imposed by the US after its withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal in 2018, nine tons of gold can be a very precious asset for the Iranian economy.

However, we must still wait and see whether the US administration would let the Iranian tankers go and strip Washington of its “superpower” title, or it would dare to intercept the vessels and endanger Donald Trump’s campaign ahead of the November elections.

Earlier in the day, Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei said Venezuela and Iran are both independent states that have had and will continue to have trade relations with each other.

“We sell goods and buy goods in return. This trade has nothing to do with anyone else. We have to sell our oil and we have ways to do it,” Rabiei said in reaction to reports of the fuel shipment to the Latin American country.

See also:

US interception of Iran vessel to Venezuela would be ‘completely illegal

May 16, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 2 Comments

US threatens ‘consequences’ if ICC acts on Israel’s war crimes

RT | May 16, 2020

Arguing that Palestine doesn’t “qualify as a sovereign state” and that the International Criminal Court lacks jurisdiction over Israel, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has threatened “consequences” for any “illegitimate” probes.

Following his trip to Israel this week, Pompeo issued a brief statement, denouncing the ongoing efforts by the ICC to investigate allegations of war crimes against Palestinians, including the use of live ammunition against protesters, the demolition and shelling of civilian homes and infrastructure, and forcible relocations as part of Israel’s settlement projects in the occupied territories.

“The United States reiterates its longstanding objection to any illegitimate ICC investigations,” wrote Pompeo, blasting the ICC as “a political body, not a judicial institution,” and arguing that is has no “jurisdiction over Israel, which like the United States, is not a party to the Rome Statute that created the Court.”

“We do not believe the Palestinians qualify as a sovereign state, and they therefore are not qualified to obtain full membership, or participate as a state in international organizations, entities, or conferences, including the ICC.”

While Palestine has yet to achieve fully recognized statehood, the quasi-governmental Palestinian Authority was accepted into the ICC in 2015. The US signed the Rome Statute in 2000, but it was never formally ratified by the Senate. Israel, too, was an early signer to the statute, but also never finalized its membership in the organization.

“If the ICC continues down its current course, we will exact consequences.”

Washington repeatedly threatened the ICC with sanctions in the past as the US itself also scrutiny in the investigation of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Afghan government forces, the Taliban, American troops and intelligence operatives.

May 16, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 12 Comments

Apartheid is a Crime: Portraits of the Israeli Occupation of Palestine – Book Review

Apartheid is a Crime: Portraits of the Israeli Occupation of Palestine, by Mats Svensson. (Photo: Book Cover)
By Jim Miles | Palestine Chronicle | May 16, 2020

In Apartheid is a Crime, Mats Svensson has created a very accessible clear expression of Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

It is composed primarily of photos of the Palestinian situation. Not photos of the wars, the fighting, and the blood, but of the people and their dispossession under martial law. The faces do not show rage and hatred, but range from resigned acceptance, through steadfastness, passive resistance, and on to – somehow – a seeming ironic happiness – ironic in that it is difficult to imagine anyone smiling or laughing under these conditions. When Israeli shoulders are viewed, their faces are impassive, uncaring.

The landscape is presented in three themes. The first shows the abandoned landscapes from the nakba – houses untended and decaying, the native plants, and significantly the native cactus claiming their own space in the ruins. The demolition of homes highlights the daily ongoing military actions, piece by piece, of the slow demolition of the remaining cultural and civil landscape. Finally, the wall looms above all, combined with wide swaths of cleared ‘buffer’ zones, separating families, farms, businesses, and civic interaction.

Preceded with a foreword by Ramzy Baroud, the photos are accompanied by short text excerpts from many well-known names: Tom Segev, Richard Falk, Nelson Mandela, Edward Said, Moshe Dayan, and Presidents Obama, Carter and Bush. Among them are lesser-known names of Palestinian and Jewish voices, speaking equally as eloquently as the readily recognized names. The general theme of the comments is of apartheid and colonialism, the unfortunate silence of the diplomats, and the daily humiliations and struggles of the people suffering under the apartheid system, a system that always and ever has denied a two-state solution.

The juxtaposition of comments and photos provides a strong message concerning the plight of the Palestinian people. It is concise, not needing a historical background, hitting the reader on an emotional level more than an intellectual level. For those just becoming familiar with the Palestinian problems Apartheid is a Crime is a good starting position; for those already cognizant of the situation and many of its political/legal backgrounds, Apartheid is a Crime presents a visually emotive reminder with concise quotes and references reinforcing longer discourses.

Mats Svensson, a former Swedish diplomat working on the staff of SIDA, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, has been following the ongoing occupation of Palestine since 2003. He is the author of “Crimes, Victims and Witnesses – Apartheid in Palestine.” (Real African Publishers) and his latest “Apartheid is a Crime – Portraits of Israeli Occupation,” (Cunepress, 2020).

May 16, 2020 Posted by | Book Review, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Phrenology is back, wrapped up with facial recognition in a 21st century pre-crime package

By Helen Buyniski | RT | May 15, 2020

The focus of US policing is shifting from enforcement to prevention as mass incarceration falls out of favor. ‘Pre-crime’ detection is the hot new thing, accomplished through analysis of behavior and…facial features?

Researchers at the University of Harrisburg announced earlier this week that they had developed AI software capable of predicting – with 80 percent accuracy! – whether a person is a criminal just by looking at their face.

“Our next step is finding strategic partners to advance this mission,” the press release stated, hinting that a New York Police Department veteran was working alongside two professors and a PhD candidate on the project.

That statement had been pulled by Thursday after controversy erupted over what critics slammed as an attempt to rehabilitate phrenology, eugenics, and other racist pseudosciences for the modern surveillance state. But amid the repulsion was an undeniable fascination – fellow facial recognition researcher Michael Petrov of EyeLock observed that he’d “never seen a study more audaciously wrong and still thought provoking than this.”

Purporting to determine a person’s criminal tendencies by examining their facial features implies evildoers are essentially “born that way” and incapable of rehabilitation, which flies in the face of modern criminological theory (and little details like “free will”). While the approach was all the rage in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when it was used to justify eugenics and other forms of scientific racism, it was relegated to the dustbin of history post-World War II.

Until now, apparently. Phrenology and physiognomy – the “sciences” of determining personality by examining the size and shape of the head and face, respectively – are apparently enjoying a comeback. A January study published in the Journal of Big Data made similar criminological claims about its AI “deep learning models,” boasting one program demonstrated a shocking 97 percent accuracy in using “shape of the face, eyebrows, top of the eye, pupils, nostrils and lips” in order to ferret out criminals.

The researchers behind that paper actually named “Lombroso’s research” as their inspiration, referring to Cesare Lombroso, the “father of modern criminology” who believed criminality was inherited and diagnosable by examining physical – specifically facial – characteristics. Nor were they the first to turn AI algorithms loose on identifying “criminal” characteristics – their paper cites a previous effort from 2016, which apparently triggered a media firestorm of its own.

It might be too soon for the public to embrace discredited racist pseudoscience repackaged as futuristic policing tools, but given US law enforcement’s eager adoption of “pre-crime,” it’s not unimaginable that this tech might find its way into their hands.

US authorities have never been more determined to save would-be offenders from themselves, rolling out two pre-crime surveillance programs in the past year alone. The Disruption and Early Engagement Program (DEEP) purports to intervene with “court ordered mental health treatment” and electronic monitoring against individuals anticipated to be “mobilizing toward violence” based on their private communications and social media activity, while the Health Advanced Research Projects Agency (HARPA)’s flagship “Safe Home” project, uses “artificial intelligence and machine learning” to analyze data scraped from personal electronic devices (smartphones, Alexas, FitBits) and provided by healthcare professionals (!) to identify the potential for “neuropsychiatric violence.” To maximize their effectiveness, Attorney General William Barr has called for Congress to do away with encryption.

The risks of pre-crime policing are enormous. Algorithmically-selected “pre-criminals” are very likely to be set up to commit crimes in order to “prove” the programs work, as has happened with the US’ sprawling “anti-terrorism” initiatives. A 2014 investigation found the FBI had entrapped nearly every “terrorism suspect” it had prosecuted since 9/11, and that pattern has continued into the present.

Meanwhile, facial recognition algorithms are up to 100 times more likely to misidentify black and Asian men than white, and the misidentification rate for Native Americans is even higher, according to a NIST study.

The Harrisburg University researchers attempt to push such concerns aside, insisting their software has “no racial bias” – everyone is phrenologically analyzed on an equally pseudoscientific basis. Surely we can trust an NYPD officer to avoid racism. It’s not like 98 percent of those arrested for violating social distancing in Brooklyn in the last two months were black, or anything – it was 97.5 percent.

Given the frenzy of police-state wish-fulfillment – from babysitter-drones to endless lockdowns – that has accompanied the Covid-19 pandemic, these researchers probably thought they could slip in a sleek modernized version of century-old pseudoscience. Totally understandable!

Still too soon? Wait a few years…

Helen Buyniski is an American journalist and political commentator at RT. Follow her on Twitter @velocirapture23

May 16, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , | Leave a comment

With Friends Like These…

By Blake Alcott | Palestine Chronicle | May 16, 2020

It’s nice that a group of 127 British politicians has discovered the as-yet unused tool for pressuring Israel: sanctions, the ‘S’ in Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). They wrote a letter to Boris Johnson asking him to impose such sanctions if Israel annexes roughly half of the West Bank – which it just might do this summer.

Actually, many Palestinians believe annexation even of the entire West Bank would be a good thing insofar as it would make Israeli apartheid plain and visible to everybody. That would force world opinion to apply its anti-apartheid standards to historic Palestine and insist on equal rights for everybody between the river and the sea.

Even without this insight, however, the letter is milk toast. It latches onto only the most egregious of Israeli actions – de jure annexation of territory already de facto annexed. It leaves unchallenged countless Israeli actions such as mass murder in Gaza, home and village demolitions, discrimination against the Palestinians in Israel, and its defining itself in July 2018 as a racist state by means of the Nation State Basic Law. The list goes on and on.

The letter is a legalistic gripe that doesn’t mention history or basic ethics. Yes, it is true that “acquisition of territory through war is prohibited” and annexing such territory violates international law, but what about the annexation of Greater Jerusalem in 1967 or, for that matter, of the bulk of historic Palestine in 1948? What about absolute rule over the West Bank and the siege of Gaza without annexation?

The politicians’ main gripe, though, is that annexation would be “a mortal blow to… any viable two-state solution.” Beloved by all of the signees, that is the Zionist solution which leaves the Israeli apartheid state intact within the 1948-occupied territories. It also leaves the 7 million Palestinian refugees out in the cold.

Any two-state solution would be crassly unjust, but this group of British politicians thinks it would be great, and that its possibility be kept alive, because that is the only way to save Israel in the long run (albeit on only about 80% of Palestinian land). And these signees are allegedly the Palestinians’ friends.

Palestine’s So-called Friends

Their letter is actually a symptom of a deeper intellectual bankruptcy and of the impotence of the forces in political Britain claiming solidarity with Palestine. They all support the Zionist two-state solution.

The Parliamentary group ‘Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East’ (LFPME), for instance, “supports a two state solution that creates a viable and contiguous Palestinian state” – and that preserves the viable and contiguous Jewish state. It to be sure urges boycott of West Bank-settlement goods, but trips over itself in a rush to assure the public that this “is categorically not an anti-Israeli policy, but an anti-settlement policy” and that this should not be taken for support of BDS, “which is widely considered to be obstructive to the two state solution.”

91 MPs are members of LFPME, and 24 of them signed the letter. Not among them, curiously, is the Chair of LFPME, Lisa Nandy, who has herself taken incoherent positions on Palestine, describing herself at once as a Zionist but broadly supporting the Palestinians’ right of return. She clearly leans toward Israel, saying she was “honored” by the support of the rabidly pro-Israel Jewish Labour Movement and that under Jeremy Corbyn, the most pro-Palestinian British politician ever, Labour “gave the green light to anti-Semites”.

Three of the signees against annexation are even members of Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) – Lilian Greenwood, Peter Hain, and Margaret Hodge. On that group’s website, the headline reads ‘Working towards a Two-State Solution’. It “promotes a negotiated two state solution for two peoples; with Israel safe, secure and recognized within its borders living alongside a democratic, independent Palestinian state [and] seeks to strengthen relations between Britain and Israel.”

At first glance, it is astounding that of LFI’s 55 MP members, 24 of them are also members of LFPME! They include such well-known figures as Liam Byrne, Angela Eagle, Emily Thornberry, Liz Kendall, Wes Streeting, David Lammy, Jess Phillips, Chris Bryant, and Rosie Winterton. But astonishment vanishes when one realizes that the goal of the two groups is the same: Israel safe and secure in the Near East, legitimate for all time, ‘alongside’ a rump statelet they are cheeky enough to call ‘Palestine’.

LFI Chair Steve McCabe MP rides hard against a new category of racism: “anti-Zionist antisemitism”. In the Jewish Chronicle of 7 April 2020, he pledged to “vigorously oppose the divisive effort to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish state led by the BDS movement.” Perhaps, were LFPME to endorse BDS in so many words – which to my knowledge it does not – MPs would see that they must choose between LFI and LFPME.

Corbyn as Labour leader from 2015-2020 not only unfailingly supported the two-state solution and Israel’s ‘right to exist’, but failed to deal with the Party’s phony, alleged ‘antisemitism crisis’. He did not make clear that criticism of Israel is not antisemitic because any settler-colonial state in Palestine – whether Jewish, Christian, Muslim, or British – would face the same fundamental criticism, namely that it by definition dispossesses the Palestinians.

Tragically, Corbyn also allowed anti-racist upholders of human rights such as Ken Livingstone, Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth and Chris Williamson to be expelled from the Labour Party merely for making various factual comments, mostly about Zionism. Lacking any clear and principled ideology, Labour under Corbyn diminished and tainted the voices of many staunch pro-Palestinians.

What’s more, all the candidates to replace Corbyn – Keir Starmer, Nandy, Rebecca Long-Bailey, etc. – bent the knee to those who do have a coherent ideology and control the narrative in Britain: the Zionists. During the leadership campaign all of them endorsed the so-called “Ten pledges to end the antisemitism crisis” written by the Israel-lobby group Board of Deputies of British Jews. Two of the pledges are 1) to see to it that “Ken Livingstone and Jackie Walker… will never be readmitted to membership” and 2) to “adopt the international definition of antisemitism without qualification”.

That definition of antisemitism is, of course, the notoriously illogical one put out by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). It conflates politics and racism and includes amongst the “manifestations” of antisemitism the “targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity”, “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor”, and “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”

The Labour Party obeys the pro-Israel forces, but rest assured, things are no better within the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Parties, nor at The Guardian or any other British newspaper. Truly, ‘with friends like these,…’ No, that’s not quite right. The Palestinians have no friends in British politics.

Why Such Weakness?

The question is Why? A big reason is that within Palestinian and Palestine-solidarity circles there is, in Britain, no coherent intellectual analysis of what is just or unjust, and no vision of a solution.

Nobody in political circles even talks about the three comprehensive demands of BDS (return, equality within Israel, and liberation for the West Bank and Gaza Strip). Talk is only of BDS tactics and its danger to Israel.

Instead, as with the anti-annexation letter, small skirmishes are fought within the Zionist two-state paradigm, symbolically making oppression a little more tolerable and in effect distracting from the fundamental issues that would make sense to the British public, if enunciated.

One ‘solidarity’ wing is Zionist: Israel has every right to continue as it is, as a discriminatory state on the 1967 borders. The perfect representative of this wing is the U.K.’s only Palestinian MP, Liberal Democrat Layla Moran, who wrote in the Guardian in 2019 of her fear of being called ‘antisemitic’ and who stressed that she “believes in Israel’s right to exist.” Also: “I believe in a two-state solution [which] is at best in stasis, at worst it is teetering on the brink of a precipice. It needs a lifeline.”

The other wing is BDS, which starts not with a position against Israel but rather for all the rights of all the Palestinians. Its three demands strictly imply Two Democratic States, and neither of them are Jewish or any other ethnocracy. (The two would undoubtedly merge, resulting in One Democratic State, but that is a separate topic.)

As Omar Barghouti, one of the main originators and propounders of BDS, said a few years ago, “A Jewish state in Palestine, in any shape or form, cannot but contradict the basic rights of the land’s indigenous Palestinian population… No Palestinian, rational Palestinian, not a sell-out Palestinian, will ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine.”

So the cat’s already out of the bag. What is now needed is for both Palestinians and their supporters to publicly and fearlessly embrace Barghouti’s clarity – to unabashedly say Yes, a racist, apartheid state should obviously be replaced by a normal, human rights-based, ethnicity-blind democracy. To boot, in my experience most people on the street understand this without any difficulty.

It would both constitute a clear intellectual narrative and enormously help campaigning in countries like the U.K. It is now impossible to explain to the public – or for that matter to MPs when one lobbies them – what solution would embody the fulfillment of Palestinians’ rights, or ‘what the Palestinians want’. By contrast, international supporters of the Black freedom struggle in South Africa were able to draw upon a clear vision while arguing the case in the West; Palestine activists lack any such inspiring vision, one which openly, in easy-to-understand terms, states the political goal.

But the BDS Call describing the rights to be fulfilled is kept at a flickering flame. Hardly anyone ventures outside the pro-Zionist framework of the parliamentary Friends of Palestine and, for that matter, the co-opted leaders of the Palestinian Authority. The best that well-meaning British politicians have to hold onto are sporadic, justified but non-essential incidents like the annexation of Area C in the West Bank.

Palestine’s supporters are waiting for open acknowledgment of the consequences of the BDS demands. Only that will enable a refutation of charges of antisemitism – because it would offer a clear, motivating, positive vision which doesn’t even have to mention the Jewishness of the present occupying state, Israel.

– Blake Alcott is an ecological economist and the director of One Democratic State in Palestine (England) Limited. The author welcomes any information on ODS or bi-nationalism activity sent to

May 16, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Obamagate Shows Biden Is Inadequate in Challenging Trump

By Paul Antonopoulos | May 16, 2020

Former U.S. President Barack Obama is coming under increasing pressure, led by what President Donald Trump is calling “Obamagate.” This comes as Mexico has requested to finally clarify the affair with the secret sale of American weapons to Mexican drug cartels. Mexico is asking for the case to be clarified after almost ten years.

In this secret operation conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, weapons from the U.S. were sold to Mexican drug cartels. The U.S. claimed that about 2,000 automatic weapons were sold to Mexicans so that the Barack Obama administration could follow their path to the drug cartels. Instead, these weapons were used in massacres. Mexican authorities are now seeking answers from the United States.

In addition to selling weapons to Mexican drug cartels, Obama is responsible for a lot of global upheaval on the world stage – primarily the so-called “Arab Spring” that should be more accurately described as the “Arab Winter” as it brought death and destruction across the Arab world.

The sale of these weapons to Mexican drug cartels is another ugly legacy of Obama’s rule that liberals like to view as one of the best periods of American history. Let’s not forget that in 2009 Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize for his apparent “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between people.”

The majority of U.S. media will most likely try and find appropriate excuses so they can minimize Obama’s role in these scandals. It is completely clear that the battle over who will be in the White House in the next four years is now taking focus on the Obama era as opposed to Trump’s mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed the lives of over 80,000 Americans and infected more than 1.3 million people.

With endless tweets by Donald Trump dedicated to Obama over the past few days, it is as if the presidential battle in November will be fought between him and Obama, and not Democrat сandidate Joe Biden.

The reason for Trump’s many tweets against the former president was because of Obama’s private conversation that was leaked to the public in which he criticized the suspension of the investigation against Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, while he called Trump’s fight against the coronavirus epidemic a “chaotic disaster.”

The American president started tweeting on the morning of May 10 and stopped late in the evening, making over a hundred tweets against Obama. This exchange between Obama and Trump is not common in American politics as former presidents usually do not interfere in the politics of their successors. However, there are suggestions that Obama still has connections to the deep state and is actively undermining Trump.

Obama, who openly admitted he would remain active in politics and wished he could contend for a third term, could be exerting influence through Hillary Clinton and Biden. It is likely Obama is becoming more public as Trump’s opponent Biden is proving inadequate and incapable of defeating Trump.

The battle between Obama and Trump started with the announcement that the Ministry of Justice is terminating the investigation against former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn. Flynn, who was probably the shortest-serving national security adviser in history, was sacked at the beginning of his term on charges of lying to Vice President Mike Pence about talks with the Russian ambassador to Washington. His removal triggered a chain of failed investigations and campaigns against Trump and his alleged links to Russian interference during the U.S. presidential election, which also ended in a failed impeachment.

In private conversations that leaked to the public, Obama described Flynn’s acquittal as a threat to the rule of law.

Trump also retweeted statements from CIA agent Buck Sexton, in which he accused Obama of sabotaging the Trump administration in the first days of his term. Sexton also called former FBI Director Andrew McCabe “a dishonorable partisan scumbag who has done incalculable damage to the reputation of the FBI and should be sitting in a cell for lying under oath”

Trump then continued with accusations on Twitter and said that Obama committed “the biggest political crime in American history, by far!” and ended briefly with “Obamagate.”

As for the affair with the secret operation of selling weapons to Mexican drug cartels, journalists of Forbes in 2011 wondered whether that operation would become Obama’s “Watergate,” and it appears that it very well could be. Obama’s attempts to smear Trump has not only backfired, but it could have very serious legal ramifications against him and others in his administration.

May 16, 2020 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Remembering Palestine on Nakba Day: Use the Hashtag COVID1948

By Philip Giraldi | American Herald Tribune | May 15, 2020

Palestinians worldwide have an annual day of remembrance called Nakba Day. Nakba comes from the Arabic al-Nakbah and means “disaster” or “catastrophe.” It takes place on May 15th, the day after the Gregorian calendar date for Israeli independence in 1948. It is an opportunity for a people who live largely in exile to recall what was stolen from them by the nascent Israeli state in 1947 through 1949. An estimated 700,000 Palestinians, half of the country’s Arab Christian and Muslim population, were driven from their homes through a deliberate policy of terrorism officially initiated in January 1948 to drive the Palestinian population out, a clear case of government initiated ethnic cleansing.

The expulsion orders, formulated as Plan Dalet in March, were carried out by the Jewish state’s military and militia forces, to include terrorist groups like Irgun and Lehi. The massacre of Arab civilians at Deir Yassin in April 1948, in which hundreds of civilians died, was, for example, implemented to terrorize the local population, forcing it to flee. In the portion of Palestine that was to become Israel fully 80% of the resident Arabs, many of them Christian, were killed, fled in terror or were compelled to leave at gunpoint.

In the expulsion process, which continued into early 1949, between four hundred and six hundred Arab villages were destroyed or rendered uninhabitable, while Palestinians in the larger urban centers were driven from their homes. Those homes were then given to Jews coming from Europe or America and one of the first acts carried out by the new nation Israel’s parliament was to pass laws blocking the return of any Palestinian to his or her home in what was to become the Jewish state. This meant in practice that a European Jew could arrive in Israel on one day and by the next be settled in a former Palestinian home. The legal owner of that home, however, had no right to return or even visit his former property. United Nations’ demands that the Palestinians should one day be able to return home have been since that time ignored by Israel and unsupported by the United States.

In fact, Israel never intended to allow Palestinians to return to their homes, in spite of the fact that when it joined the United Nations in May 1949 it agreed to “unreservedly accept the obligations of the United Nations Charter and undertake to honor them from the day when it becomes a member of the United Nations.” This included an explicit understanding in principle to allow the return of all Palestinian refugees.

Palestinians are to a certain extent wards of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which was founded in 1949 to support those displaced by the Israelis. In 1949 there were less than one million refugees, but today, due to large families and other population growth, the number who technically qualify for UNRWA’s assistance is over 5 million. Services include education, health care, food security and other essentials, to some 800,000 Palestinians registered as refugees in the West Bank and 1.3 million people in the Gaza Strip, as well as 534,000 in refugee camps in Syria, 464,000 more in Lebanon and also 2 million in Jordan. Approximately 1 million refugees have no documents other than an UNRWA identification card.

Israel has long been highly critical of UNRWA and the Donald Trump Administration predictably followed its lead to eliminate funding to the organization in August 2018.

The so-called peace plan being promoted by the Trump Administration has been rightly described as a non-starter as it is a wish list for Israel that will permit annexation of much of the West Bank with a rump Palestinian state that has no control over its airspace, water, borders or defense in place for those Arabs who can be induced to remain. It would mark the clearly perceived end of any Palestinian aspirations for either statehood or even for an acceptable relationship marked by mutual respect with its de facto Jewish overlords.

American antipathy towards the Palestinians, particularly as expressed by Evangelicals, is somewhat surprising as there has long been a vibrant Christian community in Palestine that has been sharply diminished through the actions of the state of Israel. Residents and church leaders describe the nervousness of the tiny Christian communities in Israel, caught between larger Muslim and Jewish populations. Like other Palestinians, Christians face land seizures, arbitrary arrests, home demolitions and collective punishment that come with the Israeli occupation. Recently radical Jewish settlers have become more active, defacing Christian churches and cemeteries while also threatening and spitting on clergy in the streets.

In and around Bethlehem, Christians constituted 80 percent of the population in 1950 and are only around 12 percent today. Jewish settlements have annexed land owned by Christians in many areas. In Israel itself, Christians were 21 percent of the Arab population in 1948 but number only 8 percent today, just 2 percent of the total population. The process has been described as “a quiet ethnic cleansing… not large-scale massacres or large-scale deportations, but it is bit by bit over many years with a variety of policies which Christians are not necessarily attacked as Christians but they are marked by being Palestinians.”

This year Palestinians are expressing themselves on Nakba Day to demonstrate their rejection of the Trump peace plan as well as of the new Israeli Benjamin Netanyahu led government’s intention to annex large portions of the West Bank, to include the entire Jordan River Valley, after July 1st. They have adopted the hashtag #COVID1948, which seeks to equate the current devastation resulting from the coronavirus with the catastrophe that occurred to the Palestinian people in 1948 at the hands of the Israelis. It is reportedly trending on social media and is in one sense an eloquent reminder of the wrongs committed against an entire people, to include a deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing that bore fruit in 1948-9. It is also a reminder that the Palestinians are a stubborn and self-aware people who will not just go away because the Israelis and the United States would like to see that happen.

Philip M. Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer who served nineteen years overseas in Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Spain. He was the CIA Chief of Base for the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and was one of the first Americans to enter Afghanistan in December 2001. Phil is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a Washington-based advocacy group that seeks to encourage and promote a U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East that is consistent with American values and interests.

May 16, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

Interview with a COVID-19 survivor

“It felt like a global tidal wave of human sorrow”

Mickey Z. – World News Trust – May 14, 2020

“At my lowest points, the unsettling realization came to me that given the ferocity and rapidity of change with this virus, a further plunge could mean that I might not survive. Indeed, I felt so close to total suffocation that there seemed little room for further decline. I was determined to fight my way through this, but at the same time, I calmly prepared myself mentally for any eventuality.”

These are the words of my friend, Gregory Elich. They’re not uncommon during this pandemic but I believe his story must be shared within the current climate of uncertainty, misinformation, and division. My goal is not to “set the record straight.” Rather, Greg agreed to this interview because we both saw value in reminding folks of the harsh human realities that exist beyond the headlines, debates, and confusion.

This interview is about one person but his harrowing tale encapsulates much of what’s still going on across the globe. Like Greg, I live alone and I often ponder the logistics of a simple question: What happens if I get sick during the lockdown?

Questions like this highlight what I talked about in a recent article, e.g. the importance of focusing on what is within our control. Therefore, no matter where we stand on the ideological spectrum, we must never forget our shared humanity. Beneath the partisan politics, conflicting theories, and medical contradictions are vulnerable human beings trying to survive — emotionally, financially, and physically. I’m very grateful Greg got through this and has agreed to tell us a little about it.

For the record, I met Greg in 2004 when we were both featured speakers at a large political event in Santa Cruz, California. In the ensuing years, we’ve stayed in touch, wrote blurbs for each other’s books, and developed a strong friendship. I reached out to him via e-mail in early May to do this interview. It went a little something like this:

Mickey Z.: When did you first experience COVID-19 symptoms?

Gregory Elich: I became infected in early March, at a time when it was nearly impossible to get tested. My state, Ohio, followed CDC guidelines to determine where to direct limited testing capacity. Initially, testing was restricted to those who had recently been abroad or to those who had contact with someone who had tested positive for COVID-19. Since virtually no one could get tested, there was practically no way one could have contact with anyone testing positive. Later on, the guidance was adjusted so that testing was limited to healthcare workers and hospitalized people showing symptoms.

Under the circumstances, all that could be done was to test me for normal type A or type B flu. Had either test produced a positive result, it would have ruled out COVID-19. The results of those tests were negative.

MZ: Do you feel confident you would’ve tested positive for COVID-19?

GE: I believe so. This virus is like nothing I’ve ever experienced, and my symptoms closely matched those that have been reported. Naturally, since it was not possible to get tested, I am not included in the statistics. At that time I was reading about so many others who, like me, were repeatedly stymied in their efforts to get tested, regardless of how sick they were. I suspect there are millions of people who were in the same situation.

MZ: It’s interesting that the final count will never truly be known and how this fact will be used by a wide range of groups as evidence for whatever their angle on the pandemic may be. How would you respond to someone who wouldn’t want to list you among the COVID-infected or would doubt such status?

GE: Obviously, I cannot prove it, unless someday I can get tested for antibodies. The reader can judge from the description of my experience whether or not to believe that I was infected with COVID-19. However, my case is irrelevant to the larger argument about the overall impact of the virus. My experience does not alter the fact that a great many people who were seriously ill were unable to get tested. Also, a great many people who died were not counted, since the dead aren’t typically tested for COVID-19. Because the virus interferes with the passage of oxygen to the bloodstream, it can wreak havoc in a variety of organs. In particular, cardiac arrest is not uncommon. COVID-19 can bring death in a variety of ways. It concerns me that policy decisions are being made based on flawed statistics that undercount the true extent of the pandemic in this country.

MZ: Back to you and the illness, how did it manifest for you?

GE: I’ve never been so sick in my life. The experience people have with this virus ranges from being asymptomatic on one end, to life-threatening at the other. I’d say mine fell right in the middle and would be labeled as mild or moderate. The terms are relative, of course, as there was nothing in this ordeal that seemed quite so gentle to me.

The first two days, my only symptom was an intense headache beyond anything I had ever experienced before. On the third day, the dry coughing began. Nonstop coughing fits would come and go in cycles, usually lasting around two to three hours, interspersed with approximately equally long periods where the coughing was sporadic.

On the fourth day, I started feeling short of breath. As the days went on, the dry coughing worsened, as did the shortness of breath. Physically, I felt completely wiped out, and I spent almost all of my time lying down. I had to put an increasing amount of effort into each breath, which was wearing.

From the second week onward, the coughing fits intensified, with the longest one lasting around 35 consecutive hours.

Because I have sleep apnea, I have a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. On several days, I used my CPAP machine during the daytime so that I wouldn’t have to work as hard to get enough oxygen.

While the CPAP helped to reduce the amount of effort I had to put into breathing, it did not change the fact that I was struggling. It was impossible to take a deep or even a moderate breath. My lungs felt constricted, and the sensation I had was that only the top third of my lungs were taking in air. That probably wasn’t literally the case, but the overall capacity was certainly limited.

MZ: Would the sleep apnea be considered an underlying risk for something like COVID-19?

GE: There is no evidence that sleep apnea is a risk factor. I think it is important to point out, though, that the exhaust from a CPAP mask is spectacularly effective at spreading the virus. So if anyone becomes infected by COVID-19 who uses a CPAP and lives with others, it is essential to sleep in a separate room.

MZ: Did the symptoms fluctuate?

GE: That was the oddest thing about the sickness. My condition was like a roller coaster. I could never tell if I was improving or not. There were two periods where I had three straight days where I seemed to be improving, and I thought I was on my way to recovery. In both cases, within the span of one or two hours, my condition plunged so rapidly and so steeply that it was alarming. I suddenly found myself feeling on the verge of suffocating, and I was gasping for air. All I could do was focus on putting all of my energy into each intake of air, inadequate though it was. The experience is worse than one could imagine, and the thought occurred to me that this would be a horrible way to die. During those periods, the CPAP was of no use, as trying to force air into my lungs when the capacity just wasn’t there only magnified the feeling of suffocation.

I read an article by a doctor who described the fluctuation perfectly. He said that when patients with COVID-19 crash, they crash very quickly and crash very hard. “Each patient is a ticking time-bomb,” he added, “and then — suddenly — they are gasping for air with plummeting oxygen levels and a plummeting blood pressure.”

MZ: Did you consider going to the hospital?

GE: The hospitals were overwhelmed. Respirators and ventilators were in short supply, as were personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical personnel. State officials were urging people not to go to the emergency rooms, lest they infect others. State officials were emphasizing that what little equipment and PPE was available needed to be reserved for those patients in the most severe condition. They advised that infected people should work through their doctors to determine when or if hospitalization was needed. In this situation, one has to consider the broader social need. Had I gone on my own to the hospital, I may have deprived someone who was in greater need, with perhaps lethal consequences for that person.

MZ: How did that play out for you? 

GE: I had two tele-appointments with my doctor. I asked my doctor what sign I should watch for that should trigger me to call about arranging a trip to the hospital. He told me the key to judge by would be if I was sitting in a chair and by standing up, I was so out of breath I couldn’t take another step. That would be the way of determining if I needed a respirator or ventilator. As he pointed out, unless one needs a respirator or ventilator, there is no treatment for the virus that a hospital can offer.

MZ: This must have been hard to accept knowing how volatile your symptoms were.

GE: At my lowest points, the unsettling realization came to me that given the ferocity and rapidity of change with this virus, a further plunge could mean that I might not survive. Indeed, I felt so close to total suffocation that there seemed little room for further decline. There was no way to know what the next hour would bring. I was determined to fight my way through this, but at the same time, I calmly prepared myself mentally for any eventuality.

MZ: Was the doctor able to offer any long-distance help?

GE: At my first tele-appointment, my doctor prescribed an inhaler, codeine cough medicine, and an antibiotic to ward off pneumonia. On the second tele-appointment, I was prescribed more codeine cough medicine and prednisone to reduce inflammation in the lungs. These helped, although the cough medicine proved ineffective during my worse coughing fits.

MZ: Was the medicine delivered to you or were there times you could venture out to the pharmacy? 

GE: I go to a small family-owned drug store, so it was possible to make special arrangements. I certainly did not want to infect anyone there, so I waited until I was in one of my milder cycles. Then I called the pharmacy and arranged a set time to show up at their parking lot. Once there, I remained about 100 feet from the door. At the prearranged time, one of the pharmacists came out and set my bag on the ground. Once she was back inside, I went and picked it up. On my way home, I mailed them a check.

MZ: We’ve all heard about the 14-day incubation period. How long were you feeling ill?

GE: I was sick for around six weeks. It lasted so long that it was difficult for me to imagine being well again. But I did recover, and now I am just so happy to be alive and healthy! 

MZ: It’s so jolting to have a specific face put on something as abstract as a “pandemic.” I hope that’s what we’ve accomplished here, in a way. Before we wrap up, is there anything else you feel compelled to share or say about your experience in particular or this entire crisis, in general?

GE: I am grateful to my cousin and several friends who phoned me and/or e-mailed me on a daily or near-daily basis. Their support substantially raised my spirits and made it much easier to cope.

My experience was nothing compared to that of many others. I can’t imagine what it must be like for those who need to go on a respirator or ventilator.

Amid my sickness, my sleep doctor sent out a mass e-mail, evidently to all of his patients. His message included a photo of his wife and a note that she has been on a ventilator for one week with no sign of improvement. He asked everyone to pray for her. I could imagine the anguish and desperation that drove him to send that e-mail. Looking at his wife’s photo, she was so young. I couldn’t stop crying, thinking of what my sleep doctor was going through emotionally and what his wife was going through physically.

It may sound odd, but during my illness, I felt directly connected to every human being across the world who was struggling with COVID-19. That feeling was most intense when I wasn’t entirely sure what my fate would be, but it continues to this day. The virus has brought so much death, suffering, and struggle. It felt like a global tidal wave of human sorrow. 

As far as my general feeling about the entire crisis, that can best be summed up by simply stating that human life should come first.

MZ: After such an experience — one that could be accurately described as near-death — do you feel any palpable changes in your daily mindset or perspective? 

GE: I’m not sure I’d describe it as a near-death experience, in that I never reached the point where I needed a respirator or ventilator. However, had there been a further decline at a crucial moment, I think I would have been at the edge. 

At any one moment, there was no way I could predict which direction I would go, so it was close enough to set me thinking. 

What surprised me was being able to calmly face the possibility of death. Aside from that, striving for achievement seemed to lose importance, and the experience only reinforced my belief in the importance of treating others with kindness and respect. I would also add that the support I received from my cousin and friends only reemphasized that in life all we really have that matters is each other.

Actually, I am still sorting through my feelings and this may take some time to fully work through.


Gregory Elich is a Korea Policy Institute associate and on the Board of Directors of the Jasenovac Research Institute. He is also a member of the Solidarity Committee for Democracy and Peace in Korea. His website is  Follow him on Twitter at @GregoryElich or @GElich_music

Mickey Z. can be found on Instagram here. He is also the founder of Helping Homeless Women – NYC, offering direct relief to women on the streets of New York City. To help him grow this project, CLICK HERE and make a donation right now. And please spread the word!

May 16, 2020 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism | , | 1 Comment