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Madonna’s Fake Revolution: Eurovision, Cultural Hegemony and Resistance

By Ramzy Baroud | MEMO | May 21, 2019

Rim Banna, a famous Palestinian singer who translated Palestine’s most moving poetry to song, passed away on March 24, 2018, at the age of 51. Rim captured the struggle for Palestinian freedom in the most dignified and melodious ways. If we could imagine angels singing, they would sound like Rim.

When Rim died, all Palestinians mourned her death. Although a few international outlets carried the news of her passing at a relatively young age, her succumbing to cancer did not receive much coverage or discussion. Sadly, a Palestinian icon of cultural resistance who had inspired a whole generation, starting with the First Palestinian Intifada in 1987, hardly registered as an event worthy of remembrance and reflection, even among those who purport to champion the Palestinian cause.

Compare Rim to Madonna, an ‘artiste’ who has stood for self-aggrandising personal fame and money-making. She has championed the most debased moral values, utilising cheap entertainment while catering to the lowest common denominator to remain relevant in the music world for as long as possible.

While Rim had a cause, Madonna has none. And while Rim symbolised cultural resistance, Madonna symbolises globalised cultural hegemony – in this case, the imposition of consumerist western cultures on the rest of the world.

Cultural hegemony defines the US and other Western cultures’ relationship to the rest of the world. It is not culture as in the collective intellectual and artistic achievements of these societies, but as a set of ideological and cultural tools used by ruling classes to maintain domination over the disadvantaged, colonised and oppressed.

Madonna, along with Michael Jordan, the Beatles and Coca Cola represent far more than mere performers and fizzy drinks, but also serve as tools used to secure cultural, thus economic and political dominance, as well. The fact that in some cities around the world, especially in the Southern hemisphere, Coca Cola “flows more freely than water” speaks volumes about the economic toll and political dimension of cultural hegemony.

This issue becomes critical when a pro-Israel Madonna decides to perform in Israel, as she has done repeatedly in the past, as part of the Eurovision contest. Knowing who she is and what she stands for, her decision should not come as a surprise; after all, in her September 2009 Tel Aviv concert, she sang while wrapped in an Israeli flag.

Of course, it is essential that artists of her calibre and the contestants representing 41 different countries are reminded of their moral responsibilities towards occupied and oppressed Palestinians. It is also important that Israel is confronted regarding its unrelenting efforts to mask its apartheid and war crimes in Palestine.

Indeed, the whitewashing of Israeli human rights violations using art – also known as “art washing” – should not be allowed to continue when Gaza is under siege, where Palestinian children are shot and killed daily without remorse and the least legal accountability.

This is why such artistic events are essential for the Israeli government and society. Israel has used Eurovision as a distraction from the blood and gore that has been taking place not far from that venue. Those who laboured to ensure the success of the event, knowing fully how Israel is using the brand as an opportunity to normalise its war against Palestinians, should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

But, on the other hand, should we be the least surprised? Aren’t such global music events, as Eurovision, at the heart of the western-centric globalisation scheme of cultural hegemony, which sole purpose is to enforce a capitalist view of the world, where western culture is consumed as a commodity, no different from a McDonald’s sandwich or a pair of Levi jeans?

Calling on 60-year-old Madonna to refrain from entertaining apartheid Israel can be considered beneficial as a media strategy, for it helped highlight, although momentarily, an issue that would have been otherwise absent from news headlines. However, by placing so much focus on Madonna, and whatever human rights’ values she supposedly stands for, we also take the risk of inadvertently validating her and the consumerist values she represents. More, in this Madonna-driven trajectory, we are also neglecting Palestine’s cultural resistance, the core driver behind Palestinian ‘somoud’ – steadfastness – over a century.

In response to her critics, Madonna answered, “I’ll never stop playing music to suit someone’s political agenda nor will I stop speaking out against violations of human rights wherever in the world they may be.” In the eyes of many who are ignorant of the facts, such an answer may appear as if an ‘empowered’ response to those who are trying to sway a genuine, pure artiste from following her calling.

Madonna is an expert in appearing as if morally-guided, yet never translating such morality to anything meaningful in reality. In a speech described as “powerful” by Rolling Stone Magazine, Madonna declared during a Women’s March in Washington D.C. in 2017 “to the rebellion, to our refusal as women to accept this new age of tyranny. Where not just women are in danger, but all marginalised people.”

Of course, Palestinian, Lebanese and Syrian women – who have paid a heavy price for Israeli Occupation, war and marginalisation – are not to be included in Madonna’s false revolution. And the chances are, shortly after she sings and dances in a jubilant, apartheid Israel, she will once more take on many platforms as if the Rosa Parks of revolutionary art.

While it is essential that we keep the pressure on those who engage and validate Israel politically, economically and culturally, these efforts should come secondary to embracing Palestine’s culture of resistance. Behaving as if Madonna’s stage shenanigans represent right culture while ignoring Palestinian culture altogether, is similar to academics addressing decolonisation from the point of view of the coloniser, not the colonised. The truth is, nations cannot truly rid themselves from the colonial mindset without having their narratives take the centre-stage of politics, culture and every other aspect of knowledge.

“The intellectual’s error consists in believing that one can know without understanding and, even more, without feeling and being impassioned,” wrote Italian anti-fascist intellectual, Antonio Gramsci. This entails the intellectual and the artist to feel “the elementary passions of the people, understanding them and, therefore, explaining and justifying them.”

The truth is that appealing to Madonna’s moral sense without immersing ourselves passionately in the art of Rim Banna will, in the long run, do Palestinians no good. Only embracing Palestine’s culture of resistance will, ultimately, keep the self-serving, hegemonic and cheap cultural messages of the Madonnas of this world at bay.

May 21, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , | Leave a comment

Government Accountability Project engages in projection

Anonymous allegations are republished by an allegedly respectable website.

By Donna Laframboise | Big Picture News | May 20, 2019

A reader has alerted me to the fact that a Washington, D.C. organization called the Government Accountability Project is bad-mouthing me. It says I’m part of the “global warming denial machine.”

I almost never respond to accusations of this kind. It’s time-consuming, draining, and distracting. I prefer to make a positive contribution to the world through my writing, and to let my record speak for itself. In the end, one must trust in the ability of the public to sort sense from nonsense.

In this case, though, I’m making an exception. So let’s start with some basics.

WHO AM I?
1.  I am not a US citizen.

2.  I have never held a government job (unless one counts part-time clerical work in libraries and hospitals during my teens and early twenties).

3.  My journalism career includes four years as a columnist with the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest newspaper. I’m a former columnist and member of the editorial board of the National Post. My investigative work has appeared in several newspapers and magazines, and I am the author of three books.

4.  I’m a longtime proponent of free speech, having joined the board of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association in 1993, and served as a vice president from 1998 to 2001.

WHO IS SMEARING ME?
The Government Accountability Project (henceforth I’ll call it The GAP), says it helps whistleblowers “hold the government and corporations accountable.” That’s marvellous and admirable.

I, however, am not a government. I’m not a corporation. Having worked with my share of whistleblowers over the years, I line up squarely on their side.

So why is this Washington-based organization trashing me – a journalist in a foreign country, who currently writes out of her home office and receives no regular pay cheque from anywhere?

Lamentably, the GAP has morphed into something rather different than what its name implies. The fine print on its website tells us:

As more attorneys joined the team, Government Accountability Project increased its litigation work, setting up its unique capacity to launch both political advocacy and legal campaigns. [bold added by me]

Political advocacy campaigns. Keep that phrase in mind.

The GAP now focuses its attention on six subject areas, including ding-ding-ding climate change. A section of its website therefore talks about sustainability and “the dangers posed by fossil fuel dependence.”

In other words, one arm of The GAP behaves like a politically-motivated, green advocacy group.

WHO REALLY AUTHORED THESE ACCUSATIONS?
In very large letters, the Government Accountability Project declares: Donna Laframboise recycles old attacks on IPCC. Holding a particular government to account is grand in The GAP universive. But blowing the whistle on a group of governments involved in the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is villainous. Yeah, that’s coherent.

At the bottom of the page bearing that headline we see a September 2013 date. It turns out everything here was actually cut-and-pasted from a now defunct website called ClimateScienceWatch.org, which used to be run by The GAP.

Five-year-old content has simply been transferred from ClimateScienceWatch over to The GAP’s main website. In other words, The GAP’s remarks about me have been recycled – an activity its own headline suggests is contemptible. It’s all so confusing. Green activists vigorously promote recycling. Until they want to insult someone.

Unfortunately for me, The GAP’s main website exudes respectability. There’s an impressive logo, a muted palette, and a professional design. A reader in a hurry might well form the mistaken impression that I’m opposed to government accountability. In fact, I’ve spent my career striving to keep government institutions – including criminal and family courts – honest.

So what does The GAP actually say about me? Those first-published-in-2013 remarks consist of two parts. Here’s the introductory paragraph:

In a Wall Street Journal editorial on the upcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report, IPCC critic Donna Laframboise sinks to the lowest common denominator of overused attacks. Repeated and unfounded attempts to taint the IPCC’s credibility should be seen as what they are: a distraction from the real issue – the science.

This paragraph is immediately followed by a 600-word “guest post by Climate Nexus.” Who is Climate Nexus? It’s yet another green advocacy group, funded via the Rockefeller Foundation’s billions. Correcting “misinformation about climate change” is part of its mission.

So that’s what happened here. The WSJ published my opinion piece and Climate Nexus produced a response, which was published by ClimateScienceWatch back in 2013. Today, that material appears on The GAP’s main website.

This response, please note, is unsigned.

That’s because Climate Nexus is essentially a PR firm devoted to squelching non-conformist climate views. Its employees police the boundaries of what journalists are allowed to say. Anyone who colours outside the lines is targeted, accused of sinking “to the lowest common denominator of overused attacks.” Whatever that might mean.

Climate Nexus personnel don’t take responsibility for their own words. The people who are cavalierly smearing me – a real journalist, with a real reputation – aren’t identified.

Five years later, we still don’t know who they are. These are anonymous accusers. Anonymous cowards.

To be continued…

May 20, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Progressive Hypocrite, Science and Pseudo-Science | | Leave a comment

Trudeau continues push to overthrow Venezuela’s government

By Yves Engler · May 10, 2019

The effort Justin Trudeau is putting into overthrowing Venezuela’s government is remarkable.

During the past 12 days the prime minister has raised the issue separately with the leaders of the EU, Spain, Japan and Cuba. On Tuesday Trudeau had a phone conversation with European Council President Donald Tusk focused almost entirely on Venezuela, according to the communiqué .“Prime Minister Trudeau reiterated his support for Interim President Juan Guaidó”, it noted.

The next day Trudeau talked to Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez about ousting president Nicolás Maduro. Venezuela is the only subject mentioned in the official release about the call.

Venezuela was also on the agenda during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Ottawa on April 28. The post meeting release noted, “during the visit, Prime Minister Abe announced Japan’s endorsement of the Ottawa Declaration on Venezuela.” Produced at an early February meeting of the “Lima Group” of governments opposed to Maduro, the “Ottawa Declaration” called on Venezuela’s armed forces “to demonstrate their loyalty to the interim president” and remove the elected president.

On May 3 Trudeau called Cuban president Miguel Díaz-Canel to pressure him to join Ottawa’s effort to oust Maduro. The release noted, “the Prime Minister, on behalf of the Lima Group, underscored the desire to see free and fair elections and the constitution upheld in Venezuela.”

Four days later foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland added to the diplomatic pressure on Havana. She told reporters, “Cuba needs to not be part of the problem in Venezuela, but become part of the solution.”

Freeland was highly active after Guaidó, Leopoldo Lopez and others sought to stoke a military uprising in Caracas on April 30. Hours into the early morning effort Freeland tweeted, “watching events today in Venezuela very closely. The safety and security of Juan Guaido and Leopoldo López must be guaranteed. Venezuelans who peacefully support Interim President Guaido must do so without fear of intimidation or violence.” She followed that up with a statement to the press noting, “Venezuelans are in the streets today demonstrating their desire for a return to democracy even in the face of a violent crackdown. Canada commends their courage and we call on the Maduro regime to step aside now.” Then Freeland put out a video calling on Venezuelans to rise up and requested an emergency video conference meeting of the Lima Group. Later that evening the coalition issued a statement labeling the attempted putsch an effort “to restore democracy” and demanded the military “cease being instruments of the illegitimate regime for the oppression of the Venezuelan people.”

Three days later Freeland attended an emergency meeting of the Lima Group in Peru. The coalition released a communique after that get together accusing Maduro’s government of protecting “terrorist groups” in Colombia.

At another Lima Group meeting in Chile on April 15 Freeland announced the fourth round of Canadian sanctions against Venezuelan officials. Forty-three individuals were added to the list of 70 leaders Canada had already sanctioned. CBC reported that the latest round of (illegal) sanctions were designed to “punish Venezuelan judges who rubber-stamped Maduro’s moves” and “lower-ranking police officials who took prominent roles in suppressing the attempt by Venezuela’s opposition to bring humanitarian aid into the country on February 23.”

The Venezuelan government responded to Canadian sanctions by denouncing Ottawa’s “alliance with war criminals that have declared their intention to destroy the Venezuelan economy to inflict suffering on the people and loot the country’s riches.” A recent Center for Economic and Policy Research report gives credence to this perspective. Written by Jeffrey Sachs and Mark Weisbrot, “Economic Sanctions as Collective Punishment: The Case of Venezuela” concluded that 40,000 Venezuelans may have died over the past two years as a result of US sanctions.

The Liberals want us to believe their campaign to oust Venezuela’s government is motivated by support for democracy and human rights. Yet in recent weeks the Trudeau government has deepened ties to repressive Middle East monarchies, gutted its promise to rein in international abuses by Canadian mining companies’ and justified Israeli violence against those living in the open-air prison known as the Gaza Strip.

Last month members of Mouvement Québécois pour la Paix interrupted a speech by Freeland at the University of Montréal to criticize Canada’s policy towards Venezuela. Activists should be disrupting Freeland and other Liberal MPs public events across the country to demand an end to their effort to overthrow the government of Venezuela.

May 10, 2019 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | , , | 3 Comments

The West Is in No Position to Lecture Turkey on Democracy or Human Rights

Euro-elitist Guy Verhofstadt
By Martin Jay | Strategic Culture Foundation | May 10, 2019

April fool’s day passed a few weeks ago but when we see news from Turkey that President Erdogan is going to do a re-run of elections in Istanbul, some of us are left doing a double take. But then the jaw dropping moment which follows is not what’s going on in Turkey, a country that certainly has human rights issues, no question – but how the West lines up to chastise the country. The hypocrisy is quite amazing.

And which particular moron should stand first in line with the hilarious opprobrium other than the European Union’s own clown MEP, Guy Verhofstadt a euro-elite type who is hard ignore but well worth the effort. This former Belgian PM recently ejaculated in the European parliament his important thoughts on Turkey and Erdogan, in line with former MEPs who jump on this bandwagon when it suits their federalist interests – before retreating and allowing the circus of EU accession to rumble on in Brussels when it also suits. Right now, with only days before EU elections and record gains expected for populist parties, it was hardly surprising the odious Belgian liberal would take the stage and dutifully pour scorn on Turkey.

But there are times in the EU bubble when reality seems to have been taken over by The Truman Show. Is this for real?

The European Union, probably the most corrupt, anti-democratic, white supremacist, freemason, autocratic organization which has practically invented the handbook on fake news, corruption cover ups and how to bribe journalists and fund despots around the world, is actually holding Turkey to account on its democracy score?

“This outrageous decision highlights how Erdogan’s #Turkey is drifting towards a dictatorship” gushed the Belgian MEP in a tweet. “Under such leadership, accession talks are impossible. Full support to the Turkish people protesting for their democratic rights and for a free and open Turkey!”.

But wait. Is this the same European Union which, when questioned about Romania and Bulgaria’s colossal corruption problem in 2004 (whose judiciaries are run by mafia mobs) said “we’ll let them in and then reform them” only for journalists to be later gunned down in Bulgaria and for Romania to have so many anti-corruption organizations that hacks there joke about getting an EU grant to export it? Or, for that matter, the same EU which repeatedly calls for second elections itself when it doesn’t get the result that it requires, like in Ireland and more recently in the UK with Brexit?

This is the same European Union which signed the arrest warrant of German journalist Hans Martin-Tillack in 2003 – and handed it to Belgian police – so that the journalist’s house could be raided and his computer seized, only for him to be thrown into the back of a police van where a cop tells him “well, it’s not Burmah”?

Or the same EU, which, in the same period where it started a reform process actually just rounded up all its whistleblowers and hung them up on a meat hook as an example to deter others in the EU institutions?

The European Union has a shocking history of human rights abuses not only on its own turf but more poignantly around the world with the regimes it supports with aid. Most central African despots are supported by EU cash, which, in turn, leads to intensified human rights abuses on a grand scale – which then leads to an exodus of migrants who end up in Libya sold as slaves, raped and abused. In many country’s its own environmental programs are bogus so as to funnel slush funds to dictatorships it supports, like in Lebanon for example where its recycling and composting schemes are actually so bad that they are poisoning the country’s water and linked to increased numbers of cancer.

This is the reality of the EU’s human rights record and its own check on democracy. The list just goes on and on and befittingly it is curious that the EU’s own ‘third word country’ (Belgium) which has a shocking deficit on press freedom and is a country infamous for industrial scale pedophilia which historically was the financial basis (blackmail) to fund political parties, is the very country which produced Verhofstadt and accommodates his pathetic ramblings in the European parliament, the only assembly in the world which is so useless that MEPs can’t even initiate legislation in it.

Verhofstadt is a signed up member of the Wet Dream Society, or as it is formerly know the ‘Spinelli Group’ – a sort of freemason’s talk shop of those who believe the EU could one day be a super power and have a real foreign policy. And so it is normal for him to take the floor and deliver such stupendously boring and utterly ludicrous speeches which are delusional at best and simply an old man’s fantasy at worse. Rather like Verhofstadt’s dream in 2004 of being European Commission president – a bid blocked by Tony Blair.

But here’s the real cherry on top if you like your irony in triple doses. The European parliament operates a scheme where it subsidizes all media in their production expenses, running into hundreds of millions of euros. If it didn’t do that, most broadcasters wouldn’t report on the mind numbingly boring events there. Some might call this bribing the press as there is obviously a ‘pay back’ there in helping the EU promote itself. But Euronews, which reported in Verhofstadt’s speech and gave it great prominence, not only profits from the scheme but actually gets a massive subsidy from the Brussels annual budget itself to report on MEPs – a double whammy, so in fact, the Verhofstadt ramble is actually fake news itself. This is an institution – the European Parliament – which voted just recently to actually finance media operations to write propaganda about the EU.

You can’t actually make this stuff up.

But meanwhile, there is news from the other side of the Atlantic, a real super power, which suggests that CNN in Atlanta might send journalists to CNN Turk to train them in the art of journalism. Given that nearly all of its big named foreign reporters make up their stories when they travel the globe – Anderson Cooper, Christiana Ammanpour and Parisa Khosravi – as I was informed by Elise Labott, a ex CNN ‘reporter’ not handicapped herself by journalistic skills, then this could also be a parody, or fake news. CNN Turk is attacked by the West for being pro Erdogan, without any acknowledgement that CNN Atlanta is entirely partisan itself and regularly rigs the news in favour of Clinton or whoever will slip into her peep toes.

At least CNN will not send Labott to Istanbul, a reporter who made a career out of making stories up to such an extent that Atlanta finally had to let her go earlier in the year after at least three investigations into her fabulous lack of journalist ethics, broke all records.

May 10, 2019 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | , | Leave a comment

Washington Post Begs Trump to Save al-Qaeda in Syria Before It’s Too Late

“Time is running out”

By Marko Marjanović | Checkpoint Asia | May 10, 2019

Washington Post’s Josh Rogin:

There is little that can stop the brutal assault underway in northwest Syria, where Russian, Iranian and Assad regime forces have launched a major military offensive as millions of civilians flee for their lives. But the record shows that if President Trump acts to try to halt the slaughter, it will have real impact on the ground. Even a presidential tweet could save lives. Time is of the essence.

LOL, “millions” of civilians? There are about 2.5 million under rebels in Idlib, if millions are fleeing who is left?

Of course every Syrian/Russian offensive is a “brutal assault”. The Empire meanhile plants flowers and throws candy from its aeroplanes. It must have been diabates that killed 1,600 civilians in Raqqa and 9,000 in Mosul.

There’s a lot going on right now in U.S. foreign policy. The Trump administration is dealing with an escalating Iran crisis, North Korea missile firings, a shaky China trade negotiation and an attempt to oust the Venezuelan regime. It’s no mere coincidence that Bashar al-Assad and Moscow chose this moment to retake the last rebel-held area of Syria using scorched-earth tactics, committing atrocities along the way.

The region of Idlib holds about 3 million civilians, including 1 million children, who were moved there from across the country because they would not submit to the Assad regime. And now there is deafening silence from the international community about their brutal slaughter.

James F. Jeffrey, the State Department’s special envoy for Syria, told me the U.S. government sees a “major escalation” by the regime and its allies in Idlib and is working diplomatic channels to de-escalate the fighting.

“We are raising this at every level with the Russians,” he said. “Any major operation into Idlib would be a reckless escalation of the conflict.”

It’s a reckless escalation to smash al-Qaeda when it’s the Syrians/Russians doing it. And when al-Qaeda is Empire’s battering ram against Damscus.

Assad is dependent on Russian air power, and Moscow has committed a lot of it to the assault, Jeffrey said. That means Moscow is flagrantly violating the cease-fire and de-escalation agreement it signed with Turkey last year in Sochi, Russia.

Why is an agreement Russia signed with Turkey any business of the US and the Washington Post ?

So far, Moscow is ignoring Jeffrey’s warnings. The Turkish government, which saw its outpost in Idlib shelled, seems unable or unwilling to stop the onslaught.

In other words, Russians and Turks have an understanding and there is no breech of agreement.

But history shows that when Trump decides to intervene in Syria to protect civilians, Moscow listens.

In April 2017, when Trump first launched missiles at the Syrian regime, he was responding to a chemical weapons attack in Idlib that looked to be the beginning of the very offensive we are seeing now. Trump’s actions persuaded Assad and Russia to back down.

After a Syrian activist told Trump at a fundraiser that the assault on Idlib was beginning again, the president tweeted last September that Assad “must not recklessly attack Idlib” and that Russia and Iran must not support a “potential human tragedy.” The tweet worked.

“It stopped. You saw that. And nobody’s going to give me credit, but that’s okay,” Trump said at the time. “Millions of people would have been killed. And that would have been a shame,” he said.

Erdogan did most of the work to halt that offensive, but it’s possible Trump’s threats played a part as well.

Now Moscow is testing Trump again. So far, the president is silent. That has a cascading effect inside the U.S. national security system. Several people who work with U.S. government agencies on the ground in Syria told me that U.S. officials throughout the bureaucracy are waiting on Trump to signal his intent before they move to engage in Idlib.

Actually Moscow is doing no such thing. Defending al-Qaeda in Idlib does not have to be America’s job if Washington doesn’t make it so.

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) understands the importance of Trump’s verbal cues. He tweeted at the president this week asking him to speak up and protect Idlib. Putin surely also understands that in the United States’ Syria policy, only Trump’s words really matter. Trump and Putin spoke for about an hour last week, but it is unknown what, if anything, they discussed about Syria.

Meanwhile, Russian planes are targeting residential areas and hospitals and then killing aid workers responding to those attacks, said Raed Al Saleh, founder of the Syria Civil Defense, a civilian rescue organization better known as the White Helmets. In Idlib, he said, the regime has resumed the use of barrel bombs and white phosphorus, weapons of mass atrocity and mass displacement.

Don’t forget the kitten shelters.

Public estimates of 150,000 newly displaced people are just the beginning, said Saleh. Millions of people are preparing to “form caravans like in El Salvador” to head for Europe. “These people see the international community is not willing to do anything to keep them safe in their homes,” he said.

Syria has 5 million refugees outside the country and 6 million displaced internally courtesy of the Empire weaponizing salafi jihad against it. Would crushing al-Qaeda and stabilizing the country encourage them to return? Would the US tolerate al-Qaeda carving out an enclave of 2 million people on its territory?

Several schools in Idlib supported by U.S. aid organizations are now at grave risk. Thirty of those organizations wrote to Trump asking him to give the signal so the U.S. government can snap into action.

“Only you are able to direct our government to use every tool and resource at our disposal for the protection of civilians in Idlib Province,” they wrote.

Syrians will remember that the world abandoned them in their time of most dire need. The fresh atrocities will fuel more extremism. The new refugee crisis will further destabilize Turkey, the Middle East and Europe.

It’s bizarre that the fate of millions could hinge on whether Trump decides to speak up to protect them. But that is where we are. So please, Mr. President, tweet something, say something, do something — anything — before it’s too late. The people of Idlib will give you credit, if they survive.

You kind of lose the moral high ground of being an “aid organization” when you start begging your government to cruise missile another country.

May 10, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite | , , | Leave a comment

The Same Guy Verhofstadt Who Wants a New Brexit Vote Decries a New Vote For Istanbul’s Mayoral Election

By Adam Garrie | Eurasia Future | 2019-05-07

The leader of the Liberal faction in the European Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt has just decried a decision by Turkish officials to conduct a re-vote in the contentious Istanbul Mayoral race. During the initial vote on 31 March, it was proclaimed that CH Party candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu beat AK Party candidate Binali Yıldırım by a razor thin margin.

Since the initial tally, AK representatives have challenged the result alleging serious irregularities that could have influenced the vote in favour of İmamoğlu. Today, the Turkish Supreme Election Council (YSK) annulled the result of the 31 March election for the Mayoralty in Istanbul and have scheduled a new election to take place on 23 June.

Although such re-run elections are never ideal, in circumstance when a preponderance of evidence indicates that there were enough irregularities present that could have changed the result, re-run elections become the least bad of no good options. This is what the YSK has decided upon in a manner consistent with the principles of mainstream 21st century democracy.

But while the re-run election will be conducted according to normal democratic principles, this has failed to satisfy the notoriously vocal Guy Verhofstadt. The EU Liberal big wig has taken to Twitter to say the following:

“This outrageous decision highlights how Erdogan’s Turkey is drifting towards a dictatorship. Under such leadership, accession talks are impossible. Full support to the Turkish people protesting for their democratic rights and for a free and open Turkey!”

First of all, it was not President Erdoğan who made the decision to hold a new election. It was the YSK’s decision, a body made up of members from multiple parties who then vote on a majoritarian basis in order to enact a decision. In this case, the democratic decision to hold a new election passed by a margin of seven against four.

Secondly, if Turkey’s long stalled quest to join the EU would portend future anti-democratic interference from the likes of Guy Verhofstadt, perhaps many in Turkey ought to be thankful that Brussels has recently leaned against full Turkish membership of the EU. Finally, it is not the “Turkish people” protesting. Those protesting are CH Party workers and supporters who are naturally upset by the electoral re-run. Likewise, supporters of the AK Party had peacefully protested in favour of a re-run. There is nothing unusual about this and of course the protests are occurring freely and without violence.

But the greatest absurdity of Guy Verhofstadt’s meddlesome comments is that while he decries a second vote in a local Turkish election, he has consistently agitated for Britain to hold a re-run vote in order to overturn the Brexit decision made by voters in 2016.

Unlike in the Istanbul election, the British government and opposition parties all accept that the 2016 election was without any worrisome irregularities. In other words, the Brexit referendum was a free and fair vote whilst Turkish authorities have decided that there were too many irregularities in the Istanbul vote for the initial result to be accepted as legitimate.

And yet, Verhofstadt is allying himself with forces that want to overturn a universally acknowledged legitimate vote whilst complaining that a vote in Turkey found to be illegitimate must be set in stone. Once again, double standards rule the day in Brussels.

May 7, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Progressive Hypocrite | , | Leave a comment

Different when we do it: Why re-voting is ‘dictatorship’ in Turkey & ‘unity’ in EU

EU Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt © Reuters / Eric Vidal
RT | May 7, 2019

The decision to rerun a local mayoral election in Istanbul has sparked scathing criticism in Brussels — ironically, from none other than the EU’s Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt.

Tweeting about the move, which was branded a “coup” by a Turkish opposition newspaper, Verhofstadt said it highlighted that Turkey was “drifting towards a dictatorship” and offered “full support to the Turkish people protesting for their democratic rights.” Along with the verbal slap on the wrist, he said that under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s leadership, talks on Turkey joining the EU are “impossible.”

The irony in Verhofstadt’s outrage, is that the EU itself has a long history of either totally ignoring referendum votes — or just making people vote again until the ‘correct’ result is achieved. But that, of course, does not make the EU a dictatorship. It’s still a “bastion of hope, freedom, prosperity & stability” (as per another recent Verhofstadt tweet). Twitter users wasted no time in pointing out the “irony” and “hypocrisy.”

“How dare [Erdogan] use EU tactics,” one irritated Verhofstadt follower responded, with another saying that the UK itself was currently “battling for its democracy” — a reference to EU officials (including Verhofstadt) who have frequently voiced their personal opposition to Brexit and the ‘Remain’ factions in Britain who have been calling for a re-run of the 2016 referendum.

While there may be at least some merit to the idea of Brexit referendum re-run after two years of failed negotiations and with more accurate information now available to British voters, the idea of simply re-doing EU-related votes is hardly a one-off.

Maybe Verhofstadt should take a trip down memory lane.

France voted ‘no’ to accepting a proposed ‘EU Constitution’ by 54.9 percent in 2005, but the outcome was ignored. The same thing happened in the Netherlands, which rejected it by 61.5 percent. The ‘EU Constitution’ was later repackaged into the Lisbon Treaty and presented to the French parliament where it was adopted, without being put to the people this time (much easier!).

This new Lisbon Treaty was then rejected by Irish voters in 2008, once again sending Brussels into meltdown mode, as the pact needed to be ratified by all member states before taking effect. So, of course, they made some tweaks and asked people to vote again — and got the ‘right’ result the next time. It wasn’t the first time Ireland was asked to re-vote after giving the wrong answer, either. The country also rejected the Nice Treaty in 2001 and accepted it in a second vote a year later.

Greece voted overwhelmingly to reject severe austerity measures desired by the EU in 2015 in exchange for a multi-billion euro bailout. Not long after, under pressure from Brussels, the country’s government agreed to implement even harsher methods — totally ignoring the will of the Greek people.

But way before all that in 1992, Danes, displeased with plans for a single currency, common European defense policies and for joint rules on crime and immigration, rejected the Maastricht Treaty — and were asked to vote again.

Ironically, many European voters voted ‘no’ to these treaties because they were worried that the EU would be turned into some kind of undemocratic superstate where the wills of individual countries and people would be ignored. Being forced to vote until you give the ‘right’ answer doesn’t exactly put those worries to bed. It’s part of the reason why the British voted for Brexit in the first place.

Then there’s Catalonia, where pro-independence leaders were thrown in jail for their role in holding an independence referendum in 2017. One tweeter scolded Verhofstadt and other EU leaders for believing that they have some “moral authority” over Turkey while abuse of pro-independence forces in Catalonia is ignored. “Our leaders are still in prison because they let citizens vote,” they wrote.

With a history like that, maybe it’s a bit rich for Verhofstadt to be going around lamenting the lack of democracy in other countries.

May 7, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | Leave a comment

Europe holds no moral high ground in protecting Israeli colonialism

By Ramona Wadi | MEMO | April 16, 2019

Discussions which frame Palestine’s precarious future within the context of US President Donald Trump’s so-called “deal of the century” versus the two-state compromise continue. Apparently with just these two dangerous options on the table, Palestine is being pushed into oblivion.

In anticipation of Trump’s deal, a group of former officials from European countries have sent a letter to EU Foreign Ministers and the EU High Representative for Foreign affairs and Security Policy. They call upon the EU to reject the US deal and affirm “the internationally agreed parameters for a two-state solution.”

Their letter calls the Oslo Agreement “a milestone of transatlantic foreign policy cooperation” and describes Trump’s decisions as “gambling with the security and stability of various countries located at Europe’s doorstep.” This is in the context of the US terminating its financial aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). If Europe does not reject Trump’s deal, the letter warns, the result will “accelerate the demise of the two-state option and fatally damage the cause of a durable peace for Palestinians and Israelis alike.”

A close reading of the letter shows that there is more concern about the EU retaining the upper-hand when it comes to diplomatic negotiations, rather than what happens to Palestinians within the context of Trump’s forthcoming deal. Indeed, in conclusion, the letter states that the current rift in policy is “a defining opportunity to reinforce our shared principles… and thereby manifest Europe’s unique role as a point of reference for a rules-based global order.”

All the concerns exhibited by such former this and former that people are alien to the Palestinian struggle for liberation; where were they when they were in positions of power and influence? What did they do or say then of any benefit to the Palestinians?

It is a fact that Palestine was changed, seemingly irrevocably, by European colonisation and the US has now stepped in to hasten the process. The EU is merely vying for international influence when it comes to Israel and it does so at the expense of Palestinian territory and Palestinian lives; it holds no moral high ground when it comes to protecting Israeli colonialism.

Unlike the US on this occasion, though, it has the backing of the so-called international community due to the common factor which is the “two-state solution”, a fatal compromise which rewards the state responsible for the ongoing ethnic cleansing of the people of Palestine. Since the international community has long since manipulated general consensus as being equivalent to fairness and legitimacy, the EU is diplomatically a step ahead in terms of international relations.

As far as Israel is concerned, both the US and the EU are serving the colonial agenda. The US is focusing on promoting overt normalisation of relations with Israel and providing incentives, while the EU has normalised such relations and maintains the illusion of supporting Palestinian rights. However, the underlying premise remains the two-state imposition supported by the Oslo Accords, the milestone diplomatic endeavour which duped the Palestinians and deprived them of their land.

If the EU is measuring its success by Oslo, it should be clear about its underlying agenda and detriment to Palestinians. Telling the EU to reject Trump’s plan in order to support an obsolete paradigm is just a matter of choosing which violation to uphold; of choosing the lesser of two evils: Trump’s plan or the two-state compromise. Both prioritise Israel, normalise colonialism and render Palestinians as mere recipients of humanitarian aid given in compensation for stolen land and shattered lives.

The EU might well achieve its aim of being an international point of reference, but it is worth reminding Brussels that a “rules-based global order” is not tantamount to justice. Europe’s position, though less belligerent than that of America’s, is also based on the premise of protecting Israel’s colonial project in Palestine at all costs, most of which are being paid by the indigenous Palestinians.

May 5, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

The “Yemen Bill” Trump Just Vetoed Never Had Anything to do With Yemen

By Adam Garrie – EurasiaFuture – 2019-04-17

Donald Trump has just vetoed a bill passed by the US Congress which would have ended American financial support for the Saudi led coalition in the Yemen conflict. When the bill was passed by both the House of Representatives and Senate, many were surprised that an otherwise pro-war and pro-interventionist group of politicians would support something that was seemingly anti-war. However, to assume that the majority of votes were motivated by an anti-war sentiment is to deny the very specific circumstances behind the bill’s passage.

In the United States, both main political parties have incredibly strong relations with Saudi Arabia. Yet among the US public, this “special relationship” is far more controversial than the fact that both US parties also have strong ties to Saudi Arabia’s de facto ally Israel. While Israel and Saudi Arabia are both known for pursuing internationally controversial foreign policies, among the US public, Israel is generally viewed in a positive light while Saudi Arabia is not. As such, whenever an opportunity comes along for American politicians to virtue signal against Saudi Arabia without actually changing US foreign policy in a meaningful way, such an opportunity will be acted upon. Trump himself virtue signaled against Saudi Arabia during his 2016 election campaign.

When it became clear that elements of the Saudi “deep state” were responsible for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and when after that it became clear that Donald Trump was not going to do anything to punish Riyadh for the Khashoggi murder, many in the opposition Democratic party sought to take advantage of a public opinion that had soured even further against Riyadh in the aftermath of the infamous murder which took place in Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate.

In this sense, the vote to cut funding to the Saudi coalition in Yemen was a largely symbolic measure that most who voted for it knew would be vetoed. Making matters all the more stark, it can be assumed that some of those who voted for the bill even wanted it to be vetoed as the intention was only ever to virtue signal to an American public that had become somewhat upset in the aftermath of the Khashoggi murder. The bill was never actually meant to change Washington’s pro-Riyadh/anti-Tehran position vis-a-vis Yemen.

In this sense, while some are blaming Trump for prolonging the crisis in Yemen because of his veto, the reality is that Trump was handed a bill intended as a virtue signalling provocation rather than a genuine call to end the conflict in Yemen. As such, Trump responded in the way that virtually anyone in his position would have done.

April 17, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Progressive Hypocrite | , , | Leave a comment

Euro-Med to EU: Stop funds for project serving Israeli settlements

Ma’an – April 13, 2019

BETHLEHEM – The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor (Euro-Med) sent an urgent letter to the European Union’s European Commission regarding their participation in funding EuroAsia Interconnector, a power transmission project aiming to build the infrastructure necessary to link energy sources between Israel, Cyprus, and Greece.

The project, expected to be implemented in June 2019 with an estimated budget of 3.5 billion Euros, will not only link the electricity infrastructure between Israeli cities with Greece and Cyprus, however, will also include illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, including occupied East Jerusalem.

According to a Euro-Med press release, the EU has been labeled as one of the financiers and supporters of the project that nurtures and strengthens settlements built illegally on Palestinian lands in the West Bank and Jerusalem, a move that shows sheer disregard for international law and amounts to complicity in Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Audrey Ferdinand, Euro-Med’s legal researcher, said, “The EU must adhere to its legal obligations under international law, including by not violating its own long-held commitment to a two-state solution.”

Ferdinand stressed, “While Israel is working on projects to boost its energy sources, it denies Palestinians access to basic needs such as energy and clean water,” calling on the EU to “respect its international obligations and not to establish partnerships with states violating international human rights law and international humanitarian law for decades.”

Euro-Med expressed deep shock and surprise at the contradictory policies and non-neutral practices of the European Union. On the one hand, it funds projects to help Palestinians suffering under occupation, it also funds projects that serve Israeli settlers, calling the move as setting for a “double-standard logic.”

Euro-Med called on the European Union to seriously reconsider its policies that are biased to the Israeli authorities at the expense of the Palestinian people, to uphold its human rights obligations and to rise above the discourse of selfish interest, to stop the project, especially as Israel continues to expand its illegal settlement activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and not reward them for such infamous record of human rights abuse.

April 13, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Fall of Baghdad 16 Years Ago

By Eresh Omar Jamal | The Duran | April 13, 2019

Three weeks into the invasion of Iraq, coalition forces led by the US army entered Baghdad and formally occupied it on April 9, 2003. The city’s infrastructure was seriously damaged. The Al-Yarmouk Hospital in the south received about 100 new patients every hour at the time of fighting. And many treasures at the National Museum of Iraq—from ancient Mesopotamia and early Islamic culture—were stolen or broken while the Iraqi National Library and National Archives housing thousands of manuscripts from civilisations dating as far back as 7,000 years were burned down and many of its items destroyed.

Like it was an attack on the past, the invasion, from when it occurred, has also proved to be an attack on the future of civilisation. But to most Iraqis, that was obvious from the get-go.

In his eyewitness account of “liberated” Iraq in May 2003, Radio France Internationale’s Tony Cross recalled seeing daily protests against the Americans. Of witnessing western boys of 18-25 years-old standing with their tanks and advanced military equipment, looking fearful (and helpful sometimes) of the host population whose language none of them understood. The most interesting contradiction he points to was between the widely held believe among Iraqis that there was a Zionist-American plot to wipe out their history and subdue them through prolonged occupation, versus a 23-year-old US marine’s statement that, “I talked to a few Iraqis yesterday and some of them said that they didn’t really like us being here. But we liberated them, so I hope they appreciate it.”

Years later, ordinary people in the west still don’t understand the true nature of the horror that it brought to Iraq. In an April 2013 poll by ComRes supported by Media Lens, 44 percent of people estimated that less than 5,000 Iraqis had died since 2003, while 59 percent believed that fewer than 10,000 had died—out of 2,021 respondents. The more likely estimate, according to most independent sources, is in excess of one million.

In 2010, WikiLeaks’ disclosure of 391,832 US army field reports of the Iraq War from 2004 to 2009 exposed that the army itself recorded 109,000 deaths among which 66,081 were civilians. Aided by these documents, Iraq Body Count, which has compiled the most comprehensive record of deaths caused by the war, confirmed the death toll to have exceeded 150,000 in 2010 with roughly 80 percent of them being civilians.

The leaks moreover revealed information about the torture of Iraqis, including by British forces. Adding to the worldwide condemnation that followed Seymour Hersh’s disclosure on the gruesome and humiliating torture carried out by American soldiers on Iraqis in Abu Ghraib. In his 2004 report published by The New Yorker, Hersh had earlier shed light on a 53-page report by Major General Antonio Taguba, who wrote that “between October and December of 2003 there were numerous instances of ‘sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses’ at Abu Ghraib.” That included: “Breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees; pouring cold water on naked detainees; beating detainees with a broom handle and a chair; threatening male detainees with rape; allowing a military police guard to stitch the wound of a detainee who was injured after being slammed against the wall in his cell; sodomising a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick, and using military working dogs to frighten and intimidate detainees with threats of attack, and in one instance actually biting a detainee.”

Such brutality naturally created resentment. And that resentment could just as well have inspired the formation of forces such as ISIS and their ferocious treatment of those they saw as their enemy or opponent.

Yet, it was as if no lessons were learned by western governments. Who used the same blueprint of exploiting lies and deceptions to concoct new wars. In the case of Syria, by fostering tensions between Shiites and Sunnis, to cause its government to overreact by increasing paranoia of an imminent coup, and use that to get Islamic extremists to act against the Syrian government.

And also in Libya, through similar destabilising efforts, followed by more direct intervention which overthrew its government and created a quagmire in what was the wealthiest country in all of Africa before the 2011 NATO intervention—a country where less people lived below the poverty line than in the Netherlands, where there is now a thriving slave market according to the UN.

As former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi warned prior to him being overthrown by NATO—and sodomised with a bayonet and killed by extremist forces on live television—without a unified and stable Libya, there would be no one to control countless migrants from Africa and the Middle East from fleeing to Europe. And that is exactly what happened since, turning American political scientist Samuel Huntington’s theory of Clash of Civilisation now into near reality.

So what should we make of the fall of Baghdad 16 years ago, or the broader invasion and destruction of Iraq, which by now has clearly turned out to be one of the most important events of the 21st century?

One, that greed for power often causes leaders of powerful countries to lie their citizens into waging wars against less powerful nations. And given the nature of modern weaponry, those wars are now costlier in terms of destroying human lives than ever.

Two, this is especially true for democracies, where, as Julian Assange explains, “wars are a result of lies”—lies such as Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, Gaddafi is providing Viagra to his soldiers to rape women, Assad is attacking unarmed Syrian civilians, etc., all of which have now been proven untrue.

Third, had these lies been exposed early enough, there is a chance that all these wars could have been avoided, and millions of lives spared. However, as most mainstream media outlets became the “stenographer of great power”, as John Pilger describes it, opting to spread lies and propaganda, rather than tell truth to the public and report the facts, the exposure of these lies came too late.

Fourth, the public has entered a state of mind where they can repeatedly be lied into wars. Where through some form of mental gymnastics, they seem to convince themselves time and again that: “this time they are taking us to war for humanitarian reasons, not for greed or for power.” Giving the impression that they are suffering from some sort of mass mind-control. Which is the ultimate goal of propaganda.

That is why it is so important for alternative sources to inform the public about the true nature of wars. To record and reveal the real history of events that shape our world and to counter propaganda with facts. Because if we are to learn anything from the Iraq War and its subsequent events, it is that: “If wars can be started by lies, peace can be started by truth.”


Eresh Omar Jamal is a member of the editorial team at The Daily Star, Bangladesh. His Twitter handle is: @EreshOmarJamal

April 13, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment