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Africa, Latin America Fragile Targets for Coronavirus Spread

teleSUR | March 20, 2020

The West African nation of Mali has roughly one ventilator per 1 million people — 20 in all to help the critically ill with respiratory failure. In Peru, with more than 32 million people, about 350 beds in intensive care units exist.

Many of their nations are slamming shut borders and banning large gatherings in the hope of avoiding the scenes in wealthier countries such as Italy and the U.S., but local transmission of the virus has begun.

Containing that spread is the new challenge. Africa has more than 900 confirmed cases and Latin America more than 2,500, but an early response is crucial as fragile health systems could be quickly overwhelmed.

With such limited resources, experts say identifying cases, tracing and testing are key.

“We have seen how the virus actually accelerates that after a certain … tipping point. So the best advice for Africa is to prepare for the worst and prepare today,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday.

“We have different and significant barriers to health care in Africa, which could be a real challenge,” said Dr. Ngozi Erondu, a senior research fellow at the Chatham House Center for Global Health Security.

Many countries in sub-Saharan Africa do not have the isolation wards or large number of health care workers to respond to a surge of COVID-19 patients, she said.

Liberia and Burkina Faso only have a few ventilators for their millions of people.

Dr. Bernard Olayo, founder of the Kenya-based Center for Public Health and Development, said most countries in Africa can’t afford ventilators. Even if ventilators were provided by other countries, it’s not sufficient because of the lack of qualified people to use them.

“It’s complex, it’s very very complex because the patients that end up on ventilators require round the clock care by larger teams,” he said.

Many patients could do well with just oxygen, he said, but close to half of health facilities in African countries don’t have reliable oxygen supplies. Oxygen concentrators can be used, but given the frequent electricity cuts in many countries, oxygen generators and pressure cylinders are needed because they can function while power is out.

The WHO regional Africa director, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, said the lack of ICU facilities and ventilators is one of the biggest challenges facing the continent.

“We have been able to identify importing a field hospital-type of facility that can be set up and equipped with some of the key items needed, such as ventilators,” she said. Training has begun in Republic of Congo and Senegal so health care workers will be ready to operate it, and World Bank funding is being made available, she said.

Several countries in Latin America are also among the least prepared in the world for a pandemic, with healthcare systems already stretched thin.

Peruvian Minister of Defense Walter Martos told local America TV on Monday that the nation has less than 400 respirators available.

“It’s not a lot,” he said. “Really, we don’t have the infrastructure that developed nations do.”

Peru and other nations in Latin America are looking to the experience in Europe as a cautionary tale and hoping to curtail the spread of coronavirus cases before they overwhelm hospitals.

Epidemiologist Cristian Díaz Vélez said those measures could potentially create a slower rise in cases that is more manageable for Peru’s medical system. He said the country has around 300 to 350 beds in intensive care units, half of which are now in use.

“It will overwhelm our healthcare system,” he said, if cases skyrocket.

Other countries in Latin America could fare far worse.

March 21, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Syria and “Transitional Justice”

By Helena Cobban | Just World News | February 12, 2020

Almost from the beginning of the US-supported regime-change project in Syria,  US policymakers have incorporated several kinds of planning for what is called “transitional justice” into their pursuit of the project. Transitional justice (TJ) is a field that came into great vogue in the mid-1990s, after two key developments in the post-Soviet world: (1) the UN Security Council’s creation of a special International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and (2) the agreement of the African National Congress in South Africa to negotiate an end to the Apartheid system– but with the proviso that the most heinous of the rights violators of the Apartheid era all ‘fess up to all their actions in a specially created Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC); and if those confessions were deemed full and heartfelt, then the perpetrators could escape prosecution for their actions.

From the early 1990s, these two approaches to TJ were in tension with each other; and that tension has lain at the heart of the rapidly burgeoning field of TJ projects ever since.

For its part, the prosecutorial/criminal-justice approach claimed descent from, crucially, the two US-dominated international courts established immediately after WW-II, in Nuremberg, and Tokyo. (The above photo is of Herman Goering on the stand, in Nuremberg.) The creation of ICTY was followed, two years later, by the Security Council’s creation of a parallel special court for Rwanda; and meantime, a broad movement emerged to press for the establishment by treaty among nations of a permanent “International Criminal Court” (ICC) which could hold accountable perpetrators of the worst forms of atrocities– described as war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide– in a criminal proceeding. In 1998, 120 governments adopted the “Rome Treaty” that established and set the rules for this court. In 2002, the requisite 60 countries had ratified the Rome Treaty and the ICC came into existence, headquartered in The Hague.

I have reflected at length in many earlier writings (including this 2006 book and these earlier articles: 1, 2) on some of the shortcomings of the ICC and the criminal-justice approach it adopts to dealing with the aftermath of atrocities. Suffice it here to note the following:

  1. The United States is not a member of the ICC; but all the presidents since 2002 have on occasion sought to use the  investigative, international arrest, and prosecutorial powers of the ICC, or to threaten their use, against political figures around the world they are opposed to.
  2. The whole prosecutions movement since the creation of ICTY has claimed descent (and therefore a strong degree of legitimacy) from the whole Nuremberg/Tokyo Trials legacy. But all the “modern” international courts have omitted from their actual charge-sheets one of the key acts– perhaps the key act– prosecuted at Nuremberg and Tokyo: the crime of aggression, that is, the act of launching an aggressive war. The Rome Treaty listed the crime of aggression as potentially on the ICC’s docket, but its signatories have failed to reach agreement on how to define it and thus it has not in practice been chargeable.
  3. In March 2003, eight months after the ICC formally came into existence, the United States launched a massive, quite unjustified (and militarily successful) war of regime change in Iraq– a war that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan later admitted lacked any legitimacy.
  4. One of the early acts of the “Coalition Provisional Authority” through which the US military ruled Iraq after the invasion was to establish a special tribunal to try former president Saddam Hussein and his top associates. After the CPA set up an Iraqi government (though still under its own control), this government adopted the trial plan, renaming the body the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal. Saddam was captured by US soldiers in late 2003 and sent for trial by the SICT; in November 2006, it sentenced him to death. He was held in a prison inside the US military’s “Camp Justice.” On December 30, 2006 he was taken to a scaffold earlier than the Americans had planned by a group that included SICT officials and members of Shiite militias. There, he was hanged to the jubilation of many of the witnesses, who also circulated cellphone videos of the event. Saddam’s very unseemly execution capped off a trial that had been marred throughout by grave irregularities.

This political background should be borne in mind when considering the legitimacy (or even, the utility) of any plans to use prosecutorial TJ mechanisms in connection with US-led regime-change projects in the present era– in Syria, Venezuela, or anywhere else.


In June 2019, Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton published a broad and detailed description in The Grayzone of the work of several organizations that have as their mission the collection of evidence of war crimes and other atrocities committed in Syria and to some extent also Iraq, and the compilation of this evidence into forms that can help (or even spur) the prosecution of alleged perpetrators by international courts.

Most of these organizations are funded by Western governments. Most were also, like the Syrian Network for Human Rights, founded at, or shortly after, the time that Secretary of State Hillary of Clinton and Pres. Barack Obama committed Washington to full support of the regime-change project in Syria. Other such organizations include:

  • the “Commission for International Justice and Accountability”, an organization founded by an enterprising Canadian investigator called Bill Wiley, that has received funding from Canada, the EU, numerous European countries, and the United States. CIJA got a massive boost in visibility in the United States after the New Yorker published  a serious of materials about it written by Ben Taub. In this one, Taub breathlessly described how, “At an undisclosed location in Western Europe, a group called the Commission for International Justice and Accountability (CIJA) is gathering evidence of war crimes perpetrated by the Syrian government… “
  • The Syria Justice and Accountability Center (SJAC), which states explicitly on its website that it was founded in 2012 by the “Group of Friends of the Syrian People”– that is, the coalition of governments united in their project to overthrow the Syruian government. On its website, SJAC states that it was founded in The Hague and moved in 2016 to Washington DC, where it “is currently registered as a nonprofit corporation.” However, no organization of its name comes up in standard searches of nonprofits, while SJAC is currently listed as a project of the old cold-war organization, IREX.

Chart from p.50 of the Day After Project’s report

During their early years in existence, these organizations had as their goal the collection, preservation, and organization of materials that could, after the opposition’s overthrow of the government, serve in a war-crimes court as evidence of the organization by Syrian government officials of broad patterns of gross abuse.

The work of these documentation organizations was also inspired by  “The Day After Project”, a project the federally funded U.S. Institute of Peace launched in late 2011 to plan for what decisionmakers in Washington all confidently expected would be the imminent fall of the Assad government. The Day After Project’s final report (PDF) was launched in August 2012, ostensibly by the all-Syrian group of 45 individuals who co-authored it. It contained a lengthy section on “Transitional Justice”, complete with a complex organogram showing how all the proposed parts of this project should be managed.

That was still the heyday of the thinking in official Washington  that “Assad will fall any day now!” Washington– like Paris, Ankara, Doha, and other anti-Assad capitals– was full of very busy, Ahmad Chalabi-style Syrian exiles (often being handsomely paid by their Qatari, Saudi, or Emirati backers) who had managed to persuade themselves and numerous “locals” in those Western countries that any day now they would be riding into Damascus to take over the whole Syrian government. Well, in March 2003, Ahmad Chalabi did at least manage to get back to Baghdad in the wake of the US invasion of the country– though once he arrived, it was patently clear he had never enjoyed anything like the degree of popular backing within Iraqi society that he had long claimed to have. Regarding Syria, the earnest bands of exiles who were making detailed plans for their own imminent return “home” never even made it. They were unable to persuade a US government and public that had already been badly duped once, back in 2003, that the claimed “sins” of the Syrian government were bad enough to warrant a full-scale U.S. invasion– especially one that this time around (unlike in 2003) threatened to trigger a serious global showdown with a now more confident and capable Russia.

Yes, under Obama and Clinton, Washington did give the anti-Assad fighters some serious shipments of arms, along with strong political backing; and they and the Israelis did from time to time launch one-off strikes against Syrian military bases. But Obama and Clinton never signed off on a full-throated military campaign against Assad; and the anti-Assad rebels proved quite incapable of actually persuading enough Syrians to come over to their side, to win. The sides settled into a very lengthy and draining stalemate, during which the government side slowly proved able– with the help from international allies on whom it was quite legitimately able to call– to retake parts of Syria that had earlier been taken over by the foreign-armed (and increasingly jihadi-controlled) rebels.

Today, nine years into the conflict in Syria, there is no hope at all of the opposition seizing Damascus. And within the anti-Assad camp itself, extremist jihadis affiliated with either ISIS or Al-Qaeda long ago took over control, snuffing out the hopes of the Washington establishment that “moderate rebels” of the kind now firmly ensconced in Western think-tanks can ever become a significant force inside Syria. All the plans that those “moderate rebels” had made for the imminent establishment of an anti-Assad “special war-crimes court” like the one that earlier tried Saddam Hussein, or for other mechanisms of post-victory “transitional justice”, have to them a quality that is either robotic or slightly other-worldly.


Last week I went to the launch at a Qatari-funded think-tank called the Arab Center of Washington of a book called Accountability in Syria: Achieving Transitional Justice in a Postconflict Society. I guess the Qatari funding has been running a bit low, because there were no free copies of the book being handed out, and only one sample copy that  attendees could take a glance at. It costs $90. Rush right over to the link above to buy your copy!

The three panelists were: the book’s editor, Radwan Ziadeh, a longtime regime-change advocate whose only listed professional achievement is his longtime gig as a “Senior Fellow” at the Arab Center; Mai el-Saadany, a US-trained Syrian-American lawyer who now works at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy; and Mohammed Alaa Ghanem, who until recently was Government Relations Director and Senior Political Adviser for the Syrian American Council, one of  Washington DC’s principal regime-change organizations. Ghanem, who still has a (presumably nicely funded) affiliation with the UAE-funded Atlantic Council, is now doing a Master’s degree in international affairs at Columbia.

At one level, it was kind of a sad event. When Ziadeh started talking, he recounted that work on the book had started back in 2015– at a time when it may have been possible for regime-change advocates still to imagine that one day soon, just possibly, they could seize power in Damascus. (Hence, the reference in the book’s sub-title to a “Postconflict society.”) Poignantly, he spoke about how back then, “Aleppo”–actually, just that small portion  of East Aleppo that the opposition still controlled– was becoming a center of evacuation, and how Ma’aret al-Numaan, in the opposition fighters’ Idlib redoubt, was a center of evacuation today.

In both instances, as the government regained control of terrain previously held by the jihadi extremists, the government allowed the opposition fighters and any civilians who chose to leave, to do so, and indeed, facilitated their departure. This is in notable contrast to the bloodthirsty actions the jihadi oppositionists have always taken toward the residents and defenders of areas that they’ve overtaken. But the video footage of desperate civilians fleeing in advance of the Syrian army’s arrival always looks pretty heart-wrenching.

(The videos widely circulated in the west notably do not depict the civilians who stay in the areas being brought back under Syrian government control– or, the earlier presence and activities of any of the jihadi fighters, some of whom who are Syrian and many of whom are not, who had controlled these areas so brutally over the preceding few years.)

When Mai el-Saadany spoke she stated confidently that, “The time for justice is now… We can’t afford to wait until the conflict ends.” She said that both the International Criminal Court and the UN’s doctrine of “Responsibility To Protect” (R2P) had proven useless in protecting Syria’s people; but that even without those tools there were three “accountability tools” the Syrian oppositionists could use: Documentation; a couple of different UN inquiry/documentation mechanisms; and prosecutions outside Syria, such as the one brought against two former Syrian officials by a court in Germany, last October.

When she talked about documentation, el-Saadany singled out for special praise the efforts of a group called Bellingcat–and of The New York Times.

For his part, Ghanem focused on the contribution he had made to the Accountability in Syria book, in which he looked at what he described as the “sectarian cleansing” that he saw the Syrian government as undertaking in formerly opposition-held areas over which it regained control. He accused “the Assad regime” of being dominated by Alawites and of engaging in “sectarian cleansing or demographic engineering” against “communities” in these areas, though he did not name these “communities.” He said he had been very proud to have gotten reference to this phenomenon included in the “Caesar Act”— a US sanctions measure against Syria that was signed into law in late December.

The most interesting part of this sad gathering came toward the end ( at 1h24m on the video.) A questioner had asked how the panelists thought that the kinds of “accountability”mechanisms they favored could be applied to other perpetrators of atrocities in Syria, “such as in the Turkish-controlled areas, or the SDF”, in addition to the government. At that point, Ziadeh almost completely lost it. The other two panelists, much better qualified and better prepared professionals than he, had both expressed their support for the idea that all accused perpetrators of significant atrocities, whatever their political alignment, should be subjected to the same accountability measures. (This is, after all, a key tenet to the whole field of transitional justice… Heck, in South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, even some of the excesses of the ANC came under the same kind of scrutiny as the gross tortures of the Apartheid regime.)

Ziadeh argued that only the “Assad regime” should be addressed by any accountability mechanisms. “The Syrian government– it became not a rogue state, but deep sectarian militias, that has no regard for the life of any Syrian” he said. “It’s impossible to think of having a political settlement with this kind of militia in control of Syria… What’s the end answer? No Syrians nor anyone else have any answer for that… There is nothing to talk about! There is nothing to leverage or negotiate about. I am very pessimistic. There is no soon, any hope of a political settlement of the conflict.”

The other two panelists hewed more closely to the standard TJ script. Both argued that, while there is no “false equivalence” between the violations committed by the “Assad regime” and those committed by other parties, still, all violators should be held accountable.

Ghanem had earlier argued that accountability-seeking mechanisms could be used as “leverage” for the Syrian opposition in a future negotiated settlement. The relationship between pressure for “accountability” and momentum toward negotiations is a complex–and, as I demonstrated in this recent article, “Syria: Peacemaking or prosecutions?”, often an inverse–one. (When I wrote that piece, in early November, the prospects for reaching a negotiated political transition in Syria seemed greater than they do today.)


One misapprehension into which all three of the panelists at the Arab Center event seemed to have fallen was to conflate the idea of “accountability” almost completely with the path of criminal prosecutions. But as anyone who has studied the TJ field knows, there are numerous other mechanisms that have been used to enact accountability other than Western-style courts of law. South Africa’s TRC was one such mechanism. It was widely (and correctly) lauded for helping enable South Africans to make the transition from a deepseated system of colonial expropriation and Apartheid to a much more inclusive system that enabled the “White” colonists to remain in the country on a basis of political equality with its indigenes– and to achieve this without triggering a massive new race war between those two sides (though the transition was accompanied by very lethal fighting between the two major Black African political forces.)

The main premise of the TRC was that as part of the transition to political equality, it was necessary to draw a line under the violence of the past and to offer a full amnesty from prosecutions for all the perpetrators of that violence provided they (a) had stopped committing it; and (b) provided a full description of the violent acts they had committed, such as could help bring a degree of legal and emotional “closure” to survivors of the violence and others bereaved by it or otherwise affected by it.

The exact terms of the TRC’s “deal” with former perpetrators were painstakingly negotiated among the parties to the transition– principally, the Apartheid era’s ruling National Party and the anti-Apartheid African National Congress (ANC). The Apartheid government possessed overwhelming military and socioeconomic force throughout the whole of South Africa; and it would never have agreed to end Apartheid and transition to a one-person-one-vote system in South Africa if its leaders had not been offered an amnesty. If there had been no TRC, the whole of Southern Africa might still be riven with terrible conflicts, to this day. The “offer” of amnesty was backed up by the existence in the country of a fairly well-functioning judicial system. But the main factor motivating perpetrators to come forward and participate in the often riveting public hearings that the TRC held all around the country was the desire most of them felt to allow their families, their communities, and their country to move forward.

In my 2006 book, Amnesty After Atrocity? Healing Nations after Genocide and War Crimes, I looked at the effectiveness of South Africa’s TRC and compared it with the very different post-conflict mechanisms that, in that same period of 1992-94, had been adopted by Mozambique and post-genocide Rwanda. Those two other cases effectively “bracketed” what the South Africans agreed to do. In Rwanda, the post-genocide government was heavily inclined towards prosecutorialism, supporting both the creation and work of a UN-established International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the use of a very broad campaign of national-level prosecutions of suspected genocidaires. In Mozambique, by contrast, an extremely lengthy and ugly civil war was brought to an end in 1992 when the two main parties to it, the ruling Frelimo movement and the opposition Renamo, were brought together in a negotiation conducted by a Vatican-sponsored peace group and agreed to end their combat on the basis of a blanket amnesty for previous perpetrators of violence from both sides. The United Nations then stepped in with a broad program for demilitarization, demobilization, and reintegration into their home societies of the former fighters from both sides (DDR).

Intense inter-group conflict of any kind of course inflicts massive damage on a country’s economy, including its most basic infrastructure, so societies emerging from such conflicts have numerous, extremely pressing human and economic needs. In this context, the relative costs– and therefore, also opportunity costs– of the TJ mechanisms used are definitely a factor. I used public documentation to calculate the costs of these mechanisms as follows (p.209):

  • Each case completed at the ICTR : $42,300,000
  • Each amnesty application at the TRC: $4,290
  • Each case in Rwanda’s planned “local-style” gacaca courts (projected): $581
  • Mozambique: each former fighter demobilized/reintegrated: $1,075
  • South Africa: each former fighter demobilized/reintegrated: $1,066.

In that concluding chapter of the book, I presented (pp.212-13) a critique of the degree of “accountability” that advocates of prosecutorialism judge that their favored approach provides, noting that the kind of personal “accountability” required of perpetrators by a court of law is very thin indeed compared with, for example, that required in TRC or other similar mechanisms.

I also presented (p.241) a list of nine “meta-tasks” that, based on my previous analysis in the book– and on my own experience of having lived and worked in an area wracked by civil conflict, during the first six years of Lebanon’s civil war– I concluded that societies recovering from grave inter-group conflict need to undertake. It runs as follows:

Top rank (all of equal urgency):

    1. Establish rigorous mechanisms to guard against any relapse back into conflict and violence.
    2. Actively promote reconciliation across all inter-group divisions.
    3. Build an equality-based domestic democratic order that allows for nonviolent resolution of internal differences and respects and enforces human rights.
    4. Restore the moral systems appropriate to an era of peace.
    5. Reintegrate former combatants from all the previously fighting parties into the new society.
    6. Start restoring and upgrading the community’s physical and institutional infrastructure.
    7. Start righting the distributional injustices of the past.

Second rank (of somewhat less urgency):

    1. Promote psychological healing for all those affected by the violence and the atrocities, restoring dignity to them. (If the top-rank tasks are all addressed, those moves will anyway do much to achieve this; but it will probably need continuing attention.)
    2. Establish such records of the facts as are needed to meet victims’ needs (death certificates; identification of the burial sites; etc) and to start to build a record for history.

In the real world, decisions on what to do with individuals accused of having committed grave infractions nearly always get made in the context of a negotiation over the nature and terms of a major societal transition to a new political order. “String ’em all up on the lamp-posts!” or “Line ’em all up and shoot them!” are versions of one notable, non-negotiated type of such decision– and  a type that notably doesn’t augur well for the political tone of the new order. In Syria, the way that ISIS or the bunch of Al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadis who currently control Idlib treat accused government supporters who fall under their sway definitely falls into this category.

Negotiating an end to a conflict– or acting with restraint in the event no negotiation proves possible– nearly always augurs a better outcome. At the end of WW-II, in the Asian theater, the Japanese Emperor was able to negotiate surrender terms on fairly favorable terms that ensured his dynasty’s continuation in office (and his own exculpation from responsibility for any of Japan’s preceding war crimes)–but in return for allowing the Americans and their allies to set up an international criminal tribunal to try certain Japanese decisionmakers, and numerous other concessions. In Germany, there was no negotiated end to the fighting; and the Russian, French, and British leaders (whose peoples had suffered most gravely from the Nazis’ actions) were all baying for extreme retribution. But the US public was relatively distant from the battlefield. That allowed Secretary of War Henry Stimson and President Harry Truman– both of whom were also  aware of the disastrous sequelae of  the punitive approach the victorious Allies had imposed on post-WW-I Germany– to argue for, and implement, the much more restrained approach to post-war justice that the Nuremberg trials represented.

Recent developments in Syria make the prospect of a negotiated end to the country’s lengthy civil war seem more remote today than they did a few months ago. The country’s 22 million people have been held in the vice of this conflict, and victim to the wiles of numerous outside actors and interveners much more than to those of any domestic actors, for nine long years. (This was also, interestingly, the case in Mozambique. Much of the terrible violence that Renamo used in its campaign to control as many Mozambicans as possible as a way of pressuring and overthrowing the Frelimo government had been organized and underwritten by South Africa’s Apartheid. The intra-Mozambican negotiations that brought an end to the war only made progress after a weakened South Africa started to withdraw that support.)

Throughout the first six years of Syria’s civil war, the determination of the United States and several allied governments (Turkey, Qatar, the Saudis, the UAE) to accept nothing less than the complete overthrow of the Assad government stymied all attempts by the United Nations and others to attain a negotiated end to the war. After Pres. Trump assumed office, he was less devoted to total “regime change” than Pres. Obama had been… and since late 2018 or so, the UAE has pulled back from its focus on regime change. Turkey also, from the Astana Agreement of September 2018 on, was clearly exploring some kind of “regional super-powers mega-deal” with Russia and Iran, that could help ramp down, or even bring to a negotiated end, Syria’s civil war.

More recently, though, Trump has pulled back from his fondness for a pullback from Syria. And perhaps he has started to see US military involvement in Syria as helping to serve his broader campaign of “maximum pressure” against Iran? Turkey has also pulled back from its commitment to Astana and is currently squaring up for a possibly broader military clash with Syrian government forces?

So the prospect for a negotiated settlement to the Syrian civil war has receded some. But it has certainly not disappeared completely. If nine years of slogging fighting– accompanied by terrible, unspeakable atrocities being suffered by people from all “sides”–has not succeeded in bringing about a “decisive” victory for any side, then surely an end to this war that is negotiated in some way is the only reasonable path, and the only path that can draw a line under the suffering of the past nine years? A viable negotiating forum has already been established by the United Nations. Let us hope it can complete its work as soon as possible, and that as part of this process the negotiators can find a list of mutually acceptable ways to deal with the whole range of transitional justice issues. And these, as noted above, go considerably further than the kinds of war-crimes trials so beloved by the Western media.

February 20, 2020 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Everything You Wanted to Know About Pete Buttigieg, But Were Too Afraid to Ask

By Robert Bridge | Strategic Culture Foundation | February 19, 2020

Rhodes Scholar. Afghan vet. Mayor. An impressive resume, to be sure, but to have made the fantastic leap from local politics to the doorstep of the Oval Office – at the age of just 38 – seems altogether impossible without some serious behind-the-scenes connections.

Let’s just cut right to the chase with a couple questions that the media has glaringly failed to consider about the top-polling Democratic presidential candidate. First, the most obvious one. How on earth does a young Midwestern mayor, regardless of his polished resume, jump to the front of the serving line, past hundreds of veteran politicians who have quietly nurtured presidential ambitions inside of the Beltway their entire lives?

As The Economist emphatically stated this week, “Mr Buttigieg is ridiculously young to be doing so well.”

Second, if the mayor of South Bend, Indiana (pop. 101,166) is now in serious contention to challenge Donald Trump in November, what exactly does that say about the depth of the Democratic bench, loaded as it is with Senators, House members, Governors and various state officials with far more political experience and acumen?

While the Oval Office has seen its share of pretenders, and even actors, the great majority of those men who made it to the pinnacle of power have spent at least some time in high political office before contemplating a presidential run. Incidentally, it is on this particular point, political experience, which could make a Trump-Buttigieg debate a very interesting spectacle. Although Buttigieg has limited political experience, Trump had none before he entered the White House, although certainly proving his abilities once in office.

For Pete’s sake!

Born on January 19, 1982, Buttigieg graduated valedictorian from St. Joseph High School in 2000. That same year he won a JFK ‘Profiles in Courage’ essay contest on the subject of none other than Bernie Sanders, the democratic socialist the incredibly rising mayor is competing against for the November nod. “Above all, I commend Bernie Sanders for giving me an answer to those who say American young people see politics as a cesspool of corruption, beyond redemption,” Buttigieg wrote. His trip to Washington D.C. to collect his prize included a meeting with members of the Kennedy clan, an honor that must have left a deep impression on the 18 year old.

Upon graduation from Harvard University, Buttigieg did a stint (2007-2010) at the Chicago office of McKinsey & Co, the discreet U.S. management consulting firm. During his time there, the young upstart took a trip to perhaps the most unlikely destinations in the world, Somaliland, a self-proclaimed independent state in Africa that is struggling for international recognition to this day. In other words, not a trip to Disneyland.

Just before embarking on his African adventure (Summer of 2008), Buttigieg was taken on as a fellow with the Truman National Security Project, a neoliberal think tank that has been described as “a powerful and exclusive club for the best and brightest young progressives in the country.” Among its esteemed alumni is none other than Madeleine Albright, chief architect of NATO’s obliteration of Yugoslavia. Meanwhile, the founder of the Truman Project, Rachel Kleinfeld, deserves some consideration.

Upon graduating from Oxford, Kleinfeld took up employment with Booz Allen Hamilton, the private contractor that carried out a long list of services for the military. It has also been described as “the world’s most profitable spy organization.” The head of the company at the time was none other than James Woolsey, the neoconservative former CIA director who has advocated for a fiercely interventionist U.S. foreign policy, notably the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Back to Somaliland. In addition to Buttigieg’s affiliation with the Truman Center, where he now sits on the advisory board, his Somalian ‘vacation’ managed to garner special attention in The New York Times, suggesting this was much more than your ordinary getaway.

“Somaliland is pursuing investment and support from China and Gulf countries,” Buttigieg wrote in the Times piece, co-authored by Nathaniel Myers, who also went along for the joyride. “Such support might be enough to ensure Somaliland’s survival and eventual growth, but it will crowd out America’s chance to win the gratitude of a potentially valuable ally in a very troubled area.”

Possibly more than just incidentally, Myers, a Harvard buddy of Buttigieg, now serves as Senior Transition Advisor at USAID – Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI), which works to destabilize governments deemed unfavorable to U.S. interests.

Just over a year later, in September 2009, Buttigieg, and despite his participation in anti-war rallies while at Harvard, signed up for the U.S. Navy Reserve. Due to his particular “pedigree,” writes Stars and Stripes magazine, he was sworn in as an ensign in naval intelligence without any prior preparation, which is not the traditional route for enlistees. In 2014, he was deployed to Afghanistan, which required Buttigieg to take a seven-month leave of absence from his mayoral duties in South Bend. Here is where the political upstart’s career begins to look a little sketchy.

According to The Grayzone, Buttigieg “spent his six months in Afghanistan in 2014 with a little-known unit that operated under the watch of the Drug Enforcement Administration. It was the Afghanistan Threat Finance Cell (ATFC), according to his appointment papers.”

What exactly did Special Officer Pete Buttigieg do in this unit, which was founded by none other than the future CIA chief General David Patreaus, who at the time was the head of U.S. Central Command? Well, that’s hard to say because the job description that appears in his discharge papers is left conveniently blank. This, and the fact that the ATFC has direct links to U.S. intelligence has fueled rumors with regards to who or what was responsible for placing the mayor of South Bend, Indiana on the political fast lane.

But those sorts of connections alone cannot explain Buttigieg’s meteoric rise in Washington, D.C., especially when the young upstart spent the majority of his time in South Bend. No, Pete Buttigieg would require boatloads of cash to earn such fame in such a short time. And as it turns out, the money has been pouring into his coffers from some of the wealthiest families in the country.

Buttigieg attracts the bucks

According to federal election data, forty billionaires and their spouses have donated to Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign, putting his campaign war chest at around $52 million, the most collected among all the Democratic candidates. An analysis of the contributions shows that the majority of the billionaire donators came from the financial, media and technology sectors.

Of particular interest, however, is how much the tech titans of Silicon Valley have lavished the democratic frontrunner with attention as well as infusions of hard cash. In December, for example, Rex Reed, co-founder of Netflix, helped organize a fundraising dinner at a wine cellar in Palo Alto, California, which gave Buttigieg’s Democratic opponents a golden opportunity to expose his billionaire connections.

“Billionaires in wine caves should not pick the next president of the United States,” Elizabeth Warren told Buttigieg in a December debate.

Buttigieg responded that he was “literally the only person on this stage who is not a millionaire or a billionaire,” and that therefore Warren had failed the “purity test.”

It’s not just billionaires, however, who are cracking open their wallets for the Indiana native. The list includes more than 200 foreign policy and intelligence officials, including Anthony Lake, national security adviser for President Clinton, former National Security Council spokesman Ned Price, and former deputy CIA director David Cohen, among many others. Although such support from the foreign policy and intelligence community doesn’t prove cause and effect, it has helped spawn a number of online conspiracy theories that Buttigieg is something of a Manchurian candidate, propped up by a deep state desperate to beat the swamp drainer Donald J. Trump.

Those ideas were brought to a boil during the Iowa caucus when the aptly named app Shadow, designed to perform the simple task of reporting the polling results in a timely and efficient manner, fizzled out just as Bernie Sanders had taken a commanding lead over Buttigieg. Would it come as any surprise that Shadow Inc. has a very shadowy history?

“Shadow Inc. was picked in secret by the Iowa Democratic Party after its leaders consulted with the Democratic National Committee on vetting vendors and security protocols for developing a phone app used to gather and tabulate the caucus results,” AP reported. “Shadow Inc. was launched by ACRONYM, a nonprofit corporation founded in 2017 by Tara McGowan, a political strategist who runs companies aimed at promoting Democratic candidates and priorities.”

McGowan is married to none other than Michael Halle, a senior strategist for Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign, which records show has also paid Shadow Inc. $42,500 for the use of software.

And people wonder why there are so many ‘conspiracy theorists’ running around these days.

In any case, the glitch led to many days of debate as to who really won the Midwestern state, a debate that continues today. Yet despite that state of mass confusion, Buttigieg didn’t miss an opportunity to seize victory from the claws of (possible) defeat, announcing just hours after the technological breakdown that he had been “victorious” in Iowa. Meanwhile, Sanders’ supporters saw it as yet another brazen move by the DNC to sideline the democratic socialist.

So how does one explain the incredible string of political success for the young star of the Democratic Party? Is he really so politically talented and smart that there was no choice but to let him move to the front of the pack? That seems hard to believe since his speeches come off as hollow and scripted, a rhetorical trick that many politicians with far more experience have perfected. And how about all those billionaires, former state officials and people from the national security apparatus who have come forward to support him? A case of billionaire grassroots democracy in action, or just more good luck for the South Bend native?

As it stands, Pete Buttigieg remains a great mystery, a proverbial dark horse on the U.S. political scene. While there can be no question that he has a long future in American politics, it is too early to tell if that will be a good thing for the American people. There is still a lot of unpacking to do on the life and times of the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

February 19, 2020 Posted by | Deception | , , | 5 Comments

Trudeau is buddies with murderous African dictator

By Yves Engler · February 12, 2020

Justin Trudeau wants us to know he’s buddies with Africa’s most ruthless dictator.

At the recent African Union Summit in Ethiopia Trudeau met Paul Kagame. The Prime Minister’s press people released a photo of him laughing with the Rwandan President and announced that the two discussed the upcoming Commonwealth summit Trudeau is set to attend in Kigali.

On at least five occasions since 2018 Trudeau has been photographed with Kagame during one-on-one meetings on the sidelines of different international summits. At one of those meetings the PM “affirmed the importance of strong and growing bilateral relations” between Canada and Rwanda.

Canadian-based Rwandan dissident David Himbara has criticized the PM’s embrace of Kagame. In April 2018 he wrote, “the romance between Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Rwanda’s strongman Paul Kagame is difficult to fathom. For the past several months, the romance between the two and among their respective ministers has blossomed beyond belief.”

After amending the constitution to be able to run indefinitely Paul Kagame won 98.63 per cent of votes in Rwanda’s August 2017 presidential election. In response, Canada’s High Commissioner Sara Hradecky tweeted, “congratulations to Rwandans for voting in peaceful presidential election” and “Canada congratulates Paul Kagame on his inauguration today as President of Rwanda.” The latter tweet was picked up by the state propaganda organ New Times in a story titled “Heads of State, diplomats laud Kagame’s ‘visionary leadership’.”

If garnering 99 per cent of the vote wasn’t a clue that Kagame is a dictator, the High Commissioner could have taken a look at Canada’s ‘paper of record,’ whose Africa bureau chief had recently shined a critical light on Rwanda. At the start of 2016 the Globe and Mail reported on two new books describing the totalitarian nature of the regime.

“Village informers,” wrote South Africa-based Geoffrey York. “Re-education camps. Networks of spies on the streets. Routine surveillance of the entire population. The crushing of the independent media and all political opposition. A ruler who changes the constitution to extend his power after ruling for two decades. It sounds like North Korea, or the totalitarian days of China under Mao. But this is the African nation of Rwanda — a long-time favourite of Western governments and a major beneficiary of millions of dollars in Canadian government support.”

In 2014 York wrote an investigation headlined “Inside the plots to kill Rwanda’s dissidents,” which provided compelling evidence that the regime had extended its assassination program outside of east Africa, killing (or attempting to) a number of its former top officials who were living in South Africa. After the initial investigation York reported on Rwandan dissidents who had to flee Belgium for their safety while the Toronto Star revealed five individuals in Canada who were fearful of the regime’s killers.

On top of international assassinations and domestic repression, Kagame unleashed mayhem in the Congo. In 1996 Rwandan forces marched 1,500 km to topple the regime in Kinshasa and then re-invaded after the Congolese government it installed expelled Rwandan troops. This led to an eight-country war between 1998 and 2003, which left millions dead. Rwandan proxies repeatedly re-invaded the mineral rich eastern Congo. In 2012 the Globe and Mail described how “Rwandan sponsored” M23 rebels “hold power by terror and violence” there.

Despite the regime’s violence, Governor General Julie Payette traveled to Kigali to meet Kagame in August. She lauded “the long-standing partnership between Canada and Rwanda.”

In November 2017 Rwanda’s Environment Minister visited Ottawa to meet her Canadian counterpart, Catherine McKenna, who lauded “our close friendship.” Later that year defence minister Harjit Sajjan hosted his Rwandan counterpart General James Kabarebe.

In 2015 Kabarebe was arrested in London under a Spanish indictment for war crimes committed between 1990 and 2002 in Rwanda, including the murder of two Quebec priests. Previously, Kabarebe had been the subject of an arrest warrant by a French judge for his role in shooting down President Juvénal Habyarimana’s plane, which unleashed the genocidal violence in Spring 1994. A 2012 UN report claimed Kabarebe organized and armed deadly M23 rebels in eastern Congo, labeling Kabarebe “a central player in recruiting on behalf of M23” and noted that “he has often been in direct contact with M23 members on the ground to coordinate military activities.” After former Rwandan spy chief, turned Kagame critic Patrick Karegeya, was strangled to death in a South African hotel in January 2014 Kabarebe said, “when you choose to be a dog, you die like a dog, and the cleaners will wipe away the trash.”

The Rwandan government’s domestic repression, international assassinations and violence in the Congo are well documented. Yet I couldn’t find any criticism of Kagame by the Trudeau government. Instead, Ottawa provides about $25 million annually in assistance to Rwanda.

February 12, 2020 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | Leave a comment

First Morocco, then Sudan: Netanyahu Intensifies Normalization Efforts with more Arab Countries

Palestine Chronicle | February 6, 2020

Amid the ongoing Israeli efforts to normalize ties with African countries, Tel Aviv has been intensifying its diplomatic relations with Sudan and Morocco over the last week.

On February 4, Israeli media reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been lobbying the United States to recognize Moroccan sovereignty over the occupied Western Sahara region, in exchange for a normalization of ties with Rabat.

Although the two countries have no official diplomatic relations, “contacts between Netanyahu and the Moroccans started getting more serious after a secret meeting with Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September 2018,” according to American news website Axios.

Meanwhile, Sudan had agreed to allow flights to Israel to cross its airspace, Reuters news agency reported Wednesday.

This comes two days after Sudan’s top military official Abdel Fattah al-Burhan held a surprise meeting with Netanyahu in Uganda.

Burhan currently serves as the head of Sudan’s Sovereign Council, a transitional ruling body made up of civilian and military figures.

The visit stirred controversy in the African country, generating tensions between the military and civilian groups, with Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok declaring that “all decisions related to Sudan’s foreign affairs “should be made” exclusively by his Cabinet”, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

Defiant, the Sudanese military responded with a statement Wednesday in which it described the meeting as being in “the highest interests of national security and of Sudan.”

Sudan’s military spokesman Amer Mohamed al-Hassan told Al Jazeera that “Sudan has not announced full normalization (with Israel), but it is exchanging interests”.

“From Uganda, Netanyahu declared that Israel and Sudan were working towards normalizing relations.” Haaretz also reported. “For Israel, it was a major diplomatic breakthrough with a Muslim-majority African state.”

“The continent’s rapprochement with Israel is unfortunate, because, for decades, Africa has stood as a vanguard against all racist ideologies, including Zionism – the ideology behind Israel’s establishment on the ruins of Palestine,” wrote Palestinian journalist and editor of The Palestine Chronicle Ramzy Baroud.

“If Africa succumbs to Israeli enticement and pressure to fully embrace the Zionist state, the Palestinian people would lose a treasured partner in their struggle for freedom and human rights,” Baroud added.

February 6, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 2 Comments

Israel pushing for ties with Morocco in exchange for US recognition of its rule over Western Sahara

MEMO | February 4, 2020

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly been discussing a three-way agreement that would see the United States recognise Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara in exchange for having Rabat take steps to normalise ties with Tel Aviv, Israeli broadcaster Channel 13 reported.

Netanyahu has been trying in recent months to make the US promote his plan, as it will raise the chances for him getting a high-profile public visit to Morocco as well as being a major diplomatic achievement for Morocco’s King, Mohammed VI.

In addition, the report claimed, US President Donald Trump can gloat of having advanced ties between Israel and an Arab state, should the deal go through.

However, the spread of sovereignty of Morocco on Western Sahara was a deal always strongly opposed by former national security adviser John Bolton.

Following Bolton’s departure in September, Netanyahu reportedly began raising the matter again with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

It’s been more than 40 years since Morocco claimed sovereignty over Western Sahara, after it occupied large swathes of the area in 1975 as Spain withdrew from the area and later annexed the territories in a move not recognised internationally.

According to the publication, contacts between the two countries intensified after a secret meeting between Netanyahu and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Morocco Nasser Burita during the UN General Assembly in September 2018.

That meeting was the result of a back channel established between Bourita and Netanyahu’s national security adviser, Meir Ben-Shabbat, reported Arutz Sheva.

It also reported that Netanyahu wanted to reach an agreement before the April elections of 2019, but the plan was dismissed after the media got information about the secret visit of Ben-Shabbat to Morocco.

Though the countries have no formal relations, Morocco has long maintained informal but close intelligence ties with Israel and Israelis are allowed to visit there.

Last week, Morocco received three Israeli reconnaissance drones as part of $48 million arms deal, to counter extremist groups and fight rebel movements in the Western Sahara, French website Intelligence Online reported.

February 4, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , | Leave a comment

Sudanese promised jobs in UAE but taken to war in Libya, Yemen

Job seekers wait outside the Amanda travel agency in order to get their money back in Khartoum. (Photo by MEE)
Press TV – February 2, 2020

Sudanese youths have revealed that the UAE pledged them jobs with high salaries in the Persian Gulf small country, but instead took them to Libya which is embroiled in a war between rival groups.

The United Arab Emirates is the key supporter of renegade general Khalifa Haftar which is leading a grueling military offensive against the government in the Libyan capital of Tripoli.

Several Sudanese youths have told the Middle East Eye that they were promised to work as security guards in the UAE on a salary of around $2,175 per month, but were instead sent to hostile areas in Libya.

Abdul Rahman Alzaki, a 34-year-old IT engineer, went to visit the Amanda travel agency in the center of the Sudanese capital that had placed the advertisement.

He was told the work was for the Emirati security firm Black Shields and would be located in Abu Dhabi or another UAE city.

Following several job interviews, Alzaki paid around 80,000 Sudanese pounds ($950) to Amanda after he was told the salary had been confirmed and that the travel agency would transport him to the UAE.

He traveled to the Emirates, but his dream soon turned into a nightmare after he discovered that he would in fact be receiving three months of military training and then be sent to Libya or Yemen.

The UAE wanted him and other Sudanese youths to protect oil refineries and strategic locations in the area held by Haftar, he told the MEE.

The UAE is among several countries supporting Haftar in his campaign to oust the UN-recognized government in Tripoli. The Arab country is also a key party to a Saudi-led coalition waging war on Yemen.

Around 3,000 Sudanese are believed to have been deceived by Black Shields, which sub-contracted companies such as Amanda advertising for the Emirati company.

“When we reached the Emirates we realized that we had been cheated, as the company had taken our passports, mobile phones and everything, and sent us to a military training camp called Zayed Military City” in Abu Dhabi, Alzaki said.

The MEE said it visited the Amanda travel agency in downtown Khartoum on Wednesday, but the agency was closed and phone calls to the manager and other employees of the agency went unanswered.

Dozens of job seekers were waiting outside the agency in order to try to get their money back, the online website said.

Boraey Mohamed Ahmed said he and other Sudanese youths had been subjected to extensive cheating by mafia companies working between the UAE and Sudan.

Circulation of the story on social media has ignited protests against the UAE and its policies in Sudan and in the region.

Thousands of Sudanese protesters have waged a wide campaign on social media against UAE policies, calling on the government to maintain the dignity of the Sudanese.

On Tuesday, hundreds of protesters demonstrated outside the UAE embassy and the Sudanese Foreign Ministry in Khartoum, demanding the return of the Sudanese youths.

Chanting anti-Emirate slogans, the protesters also called for the return of Sudanese soldiers from the war in Yemen.

Protester Marwa Hassan criticized the policies of the UAE on Sudan and the region as whole.

“Why do they want to use our people as mercenaries in Yemen and Libya, we have nothing to do with their interests in these countries, why are they exploiting the poverty of our youth to use them badly like this,” she shouted.

February 2, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment

A New US Air Force Video Game Lets You Drone Bomb Iraqis and Afghans

By Alan MacLeod – MintPress News – January 31, 2020

The United States Air Force has a new recruitment tool: a realistic drone operator video game you can play on its website. Called the Airman Challenge, it features 16 missions to complete, interspersed with facts and recruitment information about how to become a drone operator yourself. In its latest attempts to market active service to young people, players move through missions escorting US vehicles through countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, serving up death from above to all those designated “insurgents” by the game. Players earn medals and achievements for most effectively destroying moving targets. All the while there is a prominent “apply now” button on screen if players would like to enlist and conduct real drone strikes all over the Middle East.

The game has failed to win over David Swanson, director of the anti-war movement World Beyond War, and the author of War is a Lie.

“It is truly disgusting, immoral, and arguably illegal in that it is recruitment or pre-recruitment of underage children to participate in murder. It is part of the normalization of murder that we have been living through,” he told MintPress News.

Tom Secker, a journalist and researcher into the influence of the military on popular culture was similarly unimpressed by the latest USA.F. recruitment strategy, telling us:

The drone game struck me as sick and demented… On the other hand, many drone pilots have described how piloting drones and killing random brown people is a lot like playing a video game, because you’re sat in a bunker in Nevada pushing buttons, detached from the consequences. So I guess it accurately reflects the miserable, traumatised, serial killing life of a drone pilot, we can’t accuse it of inaccuracy per se.”

Game Over 

Despite the fact that they are rarely, if ever in any physical danger, the military has considerable difficulty recruiting and retaining drone pilots. Nearly a quarter of Air Force staff who can fly the machines leave the service every year. A lack of respect, fatigue and mental anguish are the primary reasons cited. Stephen Lewis, a sensor operator between 2005 and 2010 said what he did “weighs on your conscience. It weighs on your soul. It weighs on your heart,” claiming that the post traumatic stress disorder he suffers from as a consequence of killing so many people has made it impossible for him to have relationships with other humans.

“People think it is a video game. But in a video game you have checkpoints, you have restart points. When you fire that missile there’s no restart,” he said. “The less they can get you to think of what you’re shooting at as human the easier it becomes to you to just follow through with these shots when they come down,” said Michael Haas, another former USAF sensor operator. The Airman Challenge game follows this path, using red dots on the screen to represent enemies, sanitizing the violence recruits will be meting out.

“We were very callous about any real collateral damage. Whenever that possibility came up most of the time it was a guilt by association or sometimes we didn’t even consider other people that were on screen,” Haas said, noting that he and his peers used terms like “fun sized terrorist” to describe children, employing euphemisms like “cutting the grass before it grows too long,” as justifications for their extermination. The constant violence, even from afar, takes a heavy toll on many drone operators, who complain of constant nightmares and having to drink themselves into a stupor every night to avoid them.

Others, with different personalities, revel in the bloodshed. Prince Harry, for example, was a helicopter gunner in Afghanistan and described firing missiles as a “joy.” “I’m one of those people who loves playing PlayStation and Xbox, so with my thumbs I like to think I’m probably quite useful,” he said. “If there’s people trying to do bad stuff to our guys, then we’ll take them out of the game.”

A Nobel Cause

Drone bombing is a relatively new technology. Barack Obama came into office promising to end President Bush’s reckless aggression, even being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. While he slashed the number of American troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, he also greatly expanded US wars in the form of drone bombings, ordering ten times as many as Bush. In his last year in office, the US dropped at least 26,000 bombs – around one every twenty minutes on average. When he left office, the US was bombing seven countries simultaneously: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan.

Up to 90 percent of reported drone casualties were “collateral damage,” i.e. innocent bystanders. Swanson is deeply concerned about the way in which the practice has become normalized: “If murder is acceptable as long as a military does it, anything else is acceptable,” he says, “We will reverse this trend, or we will perish.”

History did not exactly repeat itself with the election of Donald Trump in 2016, but it did rhyme. Trump came to power having made multiple statements perceived as anti-war, strongly criticizing Obama and the Democrats’ handling of the situation in the Middle East. Egged on even by so-called “resistance” media, Trump immediately expanded drone bombings, increasing the number of strikes by 432 percent in his first year in office. The president also used a drone attack to kill Iranian general and statesman Qassem Soleimani earlier this month.

Killing in the Game of

In 2018, the armed forces fell well short of their recruitment targets, despite offering a package of benefits very attractive to working-class Americans. As a result, it totally revamped its recruitment strategy, moving away from television and investing in micro-targeted online ads in an attempt to reach young people, particularly men below the age of thirty, who make up the bulk of the armed forces. One branding exercise was to create an Army e-sports team entering video game competitions under the military brand. As the gaming website, Kotaku wrote, “Positioning the Army as a game-friendly environment and institution is crucial, or even necessary, to reach the people the Army wants to reach.” The Army surpassed its recruitment goal for 2019.

Although the Airman Challenge game is a new attempt at recruitment, the armed forces have a long history being involved in the video game market, and the entertainment industry more generally. Secker’s work has uncovered the depths of collaboration between the military and the entertainment industry. Through Freedom of Information requests, he was able to find that the Department of Defense reviews, edits and writes hundreds of TV and movie scripts every year, subsidizing the entertainment world with free content and equipment in exchange for positive portrayals. “At this point, it’s difficult to effectively summarise the US military’s influence on the industry, because it’s so varied and all-encompassing,” he said.

The US Army spends tens of millions a year on the Institute for Creative Technologies, who develop advanced tech for the film and gaming industries, as well as in-house training games for the Army and – on occasion – the CIA. The Department Of Defense has supported a number of major game franchises (Call of Duty, Tom Clancy games, usually first or third-person shooters). Military-supported games are subject to the same rules of narrative and character as movies and TV, so they can be rejected or modified if they contain elements the Department Of Defense deems controversial.”

The video games industry is massive, with hyper-realistic first person shooters like Call of Duty being among the most popular genres. Call of Duty: WWII, for example, sold $500 million worth of copies in its opening weekend alone, more money generated than blockbuster movies “Thor: Ragnarok” and “Wonder Woman” combined. Many people spend hours a day playing. Captain Brian Stanley, a military recruiter in California said, “Kids know more about the army than we do… Between the weapons, vehicles, and tactics, and a lot of that knowledge comes from video games.”

Young people, therefore, spend huge amounts of time effectively being propagandized by the military. In Call of Duty Ghosts, for instance, you play as a US soldier fighting against a red-beret wearing anti-American Venezuelan dictator, clearly based on President Hugo Chavez, while in Call of Duty 4, you follow the US Army in Iraq, shooting hundreds of Arabs as you go. There’s even a mission where you operate a drone, which is distinctly similar to the Airman Challenge. US forces even control drones with Xbox controllers, blurring the lines between war games and war games even further.

Cyber Warfare

Although the military industrial complex is keen to advertise opportunities for pilots, they go to great lengths to hide the reality of what happens to the victims of airstrikes. The most famous of these is likely the “Collateral Murder” video, leaked by Chelsea Manning to Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange. The video, which made worldwide news, laid bare the callousness towards civilian lives Haas described, where Air Force pilots laugh at shooting dead at least 12 unarmed civilians, including two Reuters journalists. While those commanders ultimately in charge of military operations in the Middle East appear on television constantly, trying to sanitize their actions, Manning and Assange remain in prison for helping to expose the public to an alternative depiction of violence. Manning has spent the majority of the last decade incarcerated, while Assange awaits possible extradition to the United States in a London prison.

The Airman Challenge video game, for Secker, is merely “the latest in a long line of insidious and disturbing recruitment efforts by the US military.” “If they feel they have to do this just to recruit a few hundred thousand people to their cause, maybe their cause isn’t worth it,” he said.

January 31, 2020 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Coronavirus: the Dark Side

By Godfree Roberts • Unz Review • January 28, 2020

THE DARK SIDE

  • Since the 20th century, the West has been and continues to be the most avid users of bioweapons. The United States is the biggest user of biochemical weapons in history, including in Cuba; Iraq, Syria and Iran (by proxy); Serbia, Japan, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, and America has eagerly used them on its own people, apparently more often than we care to admit.
  • In the 1940s the United States purposely infected thousands of Guatemala, natives with syphilis and gonorrhea, to test these human guinea pigs with antibiotics. Of course, these suffering souls were sexually active for the rest of their lives and unwittingly infected everybody they came in contact with, including spouses.
  • At Tuskegee, hundreds of American blacks were allowed to carry syphilis from the 1930s to the 1970s, to act as human petri dishes. This was to track the progress of the disease and observe the eventual macabre deaths that this bacteria is wont to inflict on its victims, in its final stages: insanity, nervous disorders, liver and heart disease.
  • The United States has a long, illustrious history of using bioterrorism around the world. Cuba has been a favorite target and has seen hundreds of thousands of its people infected with Dengue fever as well as its entire swine herd wiped out by swine fever.
  • The United States of America holds the exclusive patent on the Ebola virus: US patent number 20120251502, is owned by the American government. Ebola has been Uncle Sam’s bioweapon plaything since 1976, when it was discovered in Zaire and shipped 3,500km by America’s bio-warfare lab at Fort Detrick, Maryland, then to West Africa for cultivation and development (via the UK’s bio-warfare labs in Porton Down and with the help of the World “Health” Organization), specifically, to Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, the current epicenters of the Ebola epidemic on the Great Continent.
  • The 2014 Ebola outbreak came as a result of another rogue US Military operation in austral Africa from which the Soros/Gates-funded Kenema bioweapons lab in Sierra Leone was involved.
  • The US has a long history of biowarfare against China. The Report of the International Scientific Commission for the Investigation of Facts Concerning Bacteriological Warfare in Korea and China (ISC report) validated claims by North Korea and China that the US had launched bacteriological warfare (biological warfare, BW) attacks against both troops and civilian targets in those two countries over a period of months in 1952. This 667 page truth commission report has the dubious distinction of being the most vilified written document of the 20th Century. The report’s release in September 1952 brought a withering international attack. It was roundly denounced by American and British politicians of the highest rank, ridiculed by four star generals, accused of fraud by celebrated pundits, misquoted by notable scientists, and scorned by a compliant Western press. In subsequent decades, volumes placed in American university library collections were quietly and permanently removed from circulation. When the rare copy came up for auction, it was discretely purchased and disappeared from public view.
  • In March 2019, in a mysterious event, a shipment of exceptionally virulent viruses from Canada’s NML biological labs ended up in China. Canadian officials say the shipment was part of its efforts to support public-health research worldwide. They claimed that it was just normal procedure. What is unclear is why it was done in secret, and why the Chinese officials lodged a complaint. For certain, if this was just a routine transfer, the Chinese government would have been notified. In July 2019, a group of Chinese virologists were forcibly dispatched from the Canadian National Microbiology Laboratory (NML). The NML is Canada’s only level-4 facility and one of only a few in North America equipped to handle the world’s deadliest diseases, including Ebola, SARS, Coronavirus, etc.
  • On October 18th, 2019, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, in conjunction with the World Economic Forum assembled “15 leaders of business, government, and public health” to simulate a scenario in which a coronavirus pandemic was ravaging the planet. Major participants were American military leadership, and certain neocon political figures. The Chinese were not invited. The members took notes, and then returned to their day to day operations.
  • In Simulation Run 3 Months Ago, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Predicted Up To 65 Million Deaths Via Coronavirus.
  • 300 US military personnel arrived in Wuhan for the Military World Games on October 19. The first coronavirus case appeared two weeks later, on November 2. Coronavirus incubation period is 14 days.
  • Two months later a very similar coronavirus pandemic hit China at Wuhan, a major transport hub in Central China and for the high-speed train network, and with 60 air routes with direct flights to most of the world’s major cities, as well as more than 100 internal flights to major Chinese cities right at the Spring Festival travel rush when hundreds of millions of people travel across the country to be with their families.
  • The Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is an entirely new strain related to the MERS (MERS-CoV) and the SARS (SARS-CoV) viruses, though early evidence suggested that it was not dangerous. SARS was proven to be caused by a strain of the coronavirus, a large family of mostly harmless viruses also responsible for the common cold, but
  • SARS exhibited characteristics never before observed in any animal or human virus, did not by any means fully match the animal viruses mentioned above, and contained genetic material that still remains unidentified – similar to this new coronavirus in 2019.
  • SARS had the hallmarks of a bioweapon. After all, aren’t new biological warfare agents designed to produce a new disease with a new infectious agent? As in prior military experiments, all it might take … to spread SARS is an aerosol can . . .” Several Russian scientists suggested a link between SARS and biowarfare. Sergei Kolesnikov, a member of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, said the propagation of the SARS virus might well have been caused by leaking a combat virus grown in bacteriological weapons labs. According to a number of news reports, Kolesnikov claimed that the virus of atypical pneumonia (SARS) was a synthesis of two viruses (of measles and infectious parotiditis or mumps), the natural compound of which was impossible, that this mix could never appear in nature, stating, “This can be done only in a laboratory.” And Nikolai Filatov, the head of Moscow’s epidemiological services, was quoted in the Gazeta daily as stating he believed SARS was man-made because “there is no vaccine for this virus, its make-up is unclear, it has not been very widespread and the population is not immune to it.”
  • Virologist Dr. Alan Cantwell wrote at the time that “the mysterious SARS virus is a new virus never before seen by virologists, “This is an entirely new illness with devastating effects on the immune system, and there is no known treatment.” Dr. Cantwell noted that the genetic engineering of coronaviruses has been occurring in both medical and military labs for decades. When he searched in PubMed for the phrase “coronavirus genetic engineering”, he was referred to 107 scientific experiments dating back to 1987. To quote Dr. Cantwell: “I quickly confirmed scientists have been genetically engineering animal and human coronaviruses to make disease-producing mutant and recombinant viruses for over a decade.”
  • The virus outbreak coincides with the trade war on China.
  • The virus outbreak coincides with the HK “pro democracy” riots fully funded and instigated by the NED / CIA.
  • The virus outbreak occurred just after Swine Flu decimated the Chinese pork industry.
  • The virus outbreak occurred just after Bird Flu decimated the Chinese chicken industry.
  • The virus outbreak occurred just before NED support and training of Uyghur Muslim extremists.
  • This month, CNN published a gleeful (and untrue) report, “China’s economy is slumping and the country is still suffering the effects of the trade war with America. An outbreak of a new and deadly virus is the last thing it needs.”

Full article

January 29, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 2 Comments

Drone Strikes Leave Innocent Widows and Orphans

By Brian Cloughley | Strategic Culture Foundation | January 21, 2020

The killing of Iranian General Soleimani was big news. There were a few points made in the Western mainstream media about its legality being dubious, but nobody seems to be concerned that it contravened international law, in addition to be totally amoral. One wonders if any of the drone operators, the little key-tapping techno-dweebs thousands of miles away, were awarded a medal for their gallantry in prodding buttons to blast human beings to shards of flesh and bone.

It’s not impossible that such awards will be handed out, because there is a notorious precedent. The captain of the warship USS Vincennes which fired a missile that shot down an Iranian airliner killing 254 Iranians and 36 equally innocent citizens of other countries, was awarded the Legion of Merit for “exceptionally meritorious conduct.” And we’ll pass over the fact that those responsible for shooting down the Ukrainian airliner on January 8 are to be punished and that Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani declared the incident to have been an “unforgivable error”, while there was never an apology from the United States for killing 254 Iranians, or anyone else. Indeed, Newsweek noted that then-Vice President George HW Bush told an August 1988 election campaign rally a few weeks after the incident that “I will never apologize for the United States — I don’t care what the facts are. I’m not an apologize-for-America kind of guy.”

GHW Bush has a notable successor in Donald Trump, who is not the kind of guy who apologises for anything. His confused and semi-coherent reasoning for killing Soleimani included such gems as he “was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel, but we caught him in the act” and “We caught a total monster and we took him out.” In a television interview he declared that “plus, he was going after — in our opinion, our very intelligent opinion, he was going after our embassies, and things could have happened.”

But as reported by the Washington Post, “No warnings were issued to staff at the embassy in Iraq or any other unnamed embassies” concerning any “imminent” attack. In other words, Trump was telling yet more lies, and in this case lying to justify an illegal killing.

The murders in Iraq were the latest in a long line of assassinations and collateral killings by US drone-fired missiles all over the world. The worst incidents last year included a video game shoot in September when in Afghanistan, according to Reuters, “a US drone strike intended to hit an Islamic State hideout . . . killed at least 30 civilians resting after a day’s labour in the fields, officials said. The attack also injured 40 people after accidentally targeting farmers and labourers who had just finished collecting pine nuts. Haidar Khan, who owns the pine nut fields, said about 150 workers were there for harvesting, with some still missing as well as the confirmed dead and injured.” There was no inquiry, no explanation, no expression of regret — it was the normal, the usual, the always-expected condescending drivel from a Pentagon spokesman that “we are aware of allegations of the death of non-combatants and are working with local officials to determine the facts.” Then silence, apart from the grieving of widows and orphans.

On December 1 the New York Times told us that “an American drone strike on a car carrying a woman who had just given birth in south-eastern Afghanistan left five people dead, including the mother, three of her relatives and the driver . . . The woman, Malana, 25, had given birth to a son, her second child, at home. But her health had deteriorated soon after and relatives had been taking her to a clinic. On their way home, their vehicle was hit.” Out trotted the usual hogwash from a US spokesman that “We are aware of the allegations of civilian casualties and working with local authorities to determine the veracity of these claims.” And ever afterwards — silence. The dead woman’s new baby wasn’t in the car that was blasted to bits by the drone-fired missile, and will no doubt grow up a lover of Western culture.

On and on they go, with one of the latest atrocity being on January 8, when “more than 60 civilians were killed or wounded in a US drone attack targeting a top Taliban splinter-group commander in the western Afghanistan province of Herat.” NATO was in on this one, and its spokesman said there had been “a defensive air strike in support of Afghan forces”, confirming it was carried out by a US drone. Nobody apart from local Afghan officials knows anything about it, because it’s too dangerous for western reporters to travel in Afghanistan trying to investigate deception and lies about drone strikes or anything else. Afghanistan’s Khaama Press agency reported that “tribal elders in southern Herat province called on the government to launch an immediate investigation about the attack that took the lives of innocent civilians” but nothing will be done. After all, there are only a few dozen utterly stricken Afghan families, and they don’t matter to the Kabul government any more than they do to the video game missile controllers launching death and hideous destruction from thousands of miles away.

The drone expert Professor Peter Lee of the University of Portsmouth in the UK put it well in early January by observing that “When Reaper [drone] crews have followed someone for days or weeks, their target is not just pixels on a screen but a living human being. Operators watch targets spend time with family and friends and even playing with their children. Crews, commanders and image analysts also continue to watch from above after a missile or bomb strike, conducting battle damage assessment. They see the bits of bodies being collected and taken for burial. They see grieving, devastated family members.”

Trump says he killed Soleimani because he was “the world’s top terrorist” who “viciously wounded and murdered thousands of US troops” which is absolute rubbish. But even if it were true, and there was something in international law that permitted his murder, what about the others who were killed by Trump’s Hellfire missiles? It is said there were nine other people blown to pieces, one of whom was head of Iraq’s militia forces. There was no explanation from Trump or any of his people concerning why these people were killed along with Soleimani, because it could hardly be claimed that they too were planning to blow up US embassies or plotting “imminent attacks”. Some were bodyguards, for example, and while it may be considered wrong that anyone should have worked for General Soleimani in that or any other capacity, their employment did not merit being killed by a US drone strike.

Which brings us to their widows and orphans, because it would be interesting to know what story Trump and his people could come up with that could possibly justify their punishment.

The assassination of Soleimani was a flagrant crime, but the general feeling in the US is that it was vindicated because he was an evil person who hated America. The button-pushing drone assassins most probably feel professionally and even morally satisfied that they carried out the orders of the president to kill him. But how can they — how can anyone — come to terms with the “grieving, devastated family members” of the anonymous people who die as what used to be called “collateral damage”? The innocent widows and orphans are on the conscience of the world, but the drone attacks will continue.

January 21, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 2 Comments

An American Oligarch‘s Dirty Tale of Corruption

By F. William Engdahl – New Eastern Outlook – 12.06.2015

Rarely does the world get a true look inside the corrupt world of Western oligarchs and the brazen manipulations they use to enhance their fortunes at the expense of the public good. The following comes from correspondence of the Hungarian-born billionaire, now naturalized American speculator, George Soros. The hacker group CyberBerkut has published online letters allegedly written by Soros that reveal him not only as puppet master of the US-backed Ukraine regime. They also reveal his machinations with the US Government and the officials of the European Union in a scheme where, if he succeeds, he could win billions in the plunder of Ukraine assets. All, of course, would be at the expense of Ukrainian citizens and of EU taxpayers.

What the three hacked documents reveal is a degree of behind-the-scene manipulation of the most minute details of the Kiev regime by the New York billionaire.

In the longest memo, dated March 15, 2015 and marked “Confidential” Soros outlines a detailed map of actions for the Ukraine regime. Titled, “A short and medium term comprehensive strategy for the new Ukraine,” the memo from Soros calls for steps to “restore the fighting capacity of Ukraine without violating the Minsk agreement.” To do the restoring, Soros blithely notes that “General Wesley Clark, Polish General Skrzypczak and a few specialists under the auspices of the Atlantic Council [emphasis added—f.w.e.] will advise President Poroshenko how to restore the fighting capacity of Ukraine without violating the Minsk agreement.”

Soros also calls for supplying lethal arms to Ukraine and secretly training Ukrainian army personnel in Romania to avoid direct NATO presence in Ukraine. The Atlantic Council is a leading Washington pro-NATO think tank.

Notably, Wesley Clark is also a business associate of Soros in BNK Petroleum which does business in Poland.

Clark, some might recall, was the mentally-unstable NATO General in charge of the 1999 bombing of Serbia who ordered NATO soldiers to fire on Russian soldiers guarding the Pristina International Airport. The Russians were there as a part of an agreed joint NATO–Russia peacekeeping operation supposed to police Kosovo. The British Commander, General Mike Jackson refused Clark, retorting, “I’m not going to start the Third World War for you.” Now Clark apparently decided to come out of retirement for the chance to go at Russia directly.

Naked asset grab

In his March 2015 memo Soros further writes that Ukrainian President Poroshenko’s “first priority must be to regain control of financial markets,” which he assures Poroshenko that Soros would be ready to assist in: “I am ready to call Jack Lew of the US Treasury to sound him out about the swap agreement.”

He also calls on the EU to give Ukraine an annual aid sum of €11 billion via a special EU borrowing facility. Soros proposes in effect using the EU’s “AAA” top credit rating to provide a risk insurance for investment into Ukraine.

Whose risk would the EU insure?

Soros details, “I am prepared to invest up to €1 billion in Ukrainian businesses. This is likely to attract the interest of the investment community. As stated above, Ukraine must become an attractive investment destination.” Not to leave any doubt, Soros continues, “The investments will be for-profit but I will pledge to contribute the profits to my foundations. This should allay suspicions that I am advocating policies in search of personal gain. “

Anyone familiar with the history of the Soros Open Society Foundations in Eastern Europe and around the world since the late 1980’s, will know that his supposedly philanthropic “democracy-building” projects in Poland, Russia, or Ukraine in the 1990’s allowed Soros the businessman to literally plunder the former communist countries using Harvard University’s “shock therapy” messiah, and Soros associate, Jeffrey Sachs, to convince the post-Soviet governments to privatize and open to a “free market” at once, rather than gradually.

The example of Soros in Liberia is instructive for understanding the seemingly seamless interplay between Soros the shrewd businessman and Soros the philanthropist. In West Africa George Soros backed a former Open Society employee of his, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, giving her international publicity and through his influence, even arranging a Nobel Peace Prize for her in 2011, insuring her election as president. Before her presidency she had been well-indoctrinated into the Western free market game, studying economics at Harvard and working for the US-controlled World Bank in Washington and the Rockefeller Citibank in Nairobi. Before becoming Liberia’s President, she worked for Soros directly as chair of his Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).

Once in office, President Sirleaf opened the doors for Soros to take over major Liberian gold and base metals assets along with his partner, Nathaniel Rothschild. One of her first acts as President was to also invite the Pentagon’s new Africa Command, AFRICOM, into Liberia whose purpose as a Liberian investigation revealed, was to “protect George Soros and Rothschild mining operations in West Africa rather than champion stability and human rights.”

Naftogaz the target

The Soros memo makes clear he has his eyes on the Ukrainian state gas and energy monopoly, Naftogaz. He writes, “The centerpiece of economic reforms will be the reorganization of Naftogaz and the introduction of market pricing for all forms of energy, replacing hidden subsidies…”

In an earlier letter Soros wrote in December 2014 to both President Poroshenko and Prime Minister Yatsenyuk, Soros openly called for his Shock Therapy: “I want to appeal to you to unite behind the reformers in your government and give your wholehearted support to a radical, ‘big bang’ type of approach. That is to say, administrative controls would be removed and the economy would move to market prices rapidly rather than gradually… Naftogaz needs to be reorganized with a big bang replacing the hidden subsidies…”

Splitting Naftogaz into separate companies could allow Soros to take control of one of the new branches and essentially privatize its profits. He already suggested that he indirectly brought in US consulting company, McKinsey, to advise Naftogaz on the privatization “big bang.”

The Puppet-Master?

The totality of what is revealed in the three hacked documents show that Soros is effectively the puppet-master pulling most of the strings in Kiev. Soros Foundation’s Ukraine branch, International Renaissance Foundation (IRF) has been involved in Ukraine since 1989. His IRF doled out more than $100 million to Ukrainian NGOs two years before the fall of the Soviet Union, creating the preconditions for Ukraine’s independence from Russia in 1991. Soros also admitted to financing the 2013-2014 Maidan Square protests that brought the current government into power.

Soros’ foundations were also deeply involved in the 2004 Orange Revolution that brought the corrupt but pro-NATO Viktor Yushchenko into power with his American wife who had been in the US State Department. In 2004 just weeks after Soros’ International Renaissance Foundation had succeeded in getting Viktor Yushchenko as President of Ukraine, Michael McFaul wrote an OpEd for the Washington Post. McFaul, a specialist in organizing color revolutions, who later became US Ambassador to Russia, revealed:

Did Americans meddle in the internal affairs of Ukraine? Yes. The American agents of influence would prefer different language to describe their activities — democratic assistance, democracy promotion, civil society support, etc. — but their work, however labeled, seeks to influence political change in Ukraine. The U.S. Agency for International Development, the National Endowment for Democracy and a few other foundations sponsored certain U.S. organizations, including Freedom House, the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, the Solidarity Center, the Eurasia Foundation, Internews and several others to provide small grants and technical assistance to Ukrainian civil society. The European Union, individual European countries and the Soros-funded International Renaissance Foundation did the same.

Soros shapes ‘New Ukraine’

Today the CyberBerkut hacked papers show that Soros’ IRF money is behind creation of a National Reform Council, a body organized by presidential decree from Poroshenko which allows the Ukrainian president to push bills through Ukraine’s legislature. Soros writes, “The framework for bringing the various branches of government together has also emerged. The National Reform Council (NRC) brings together the presidential administration, the cabinet of ministers, the Rada and its committees and civil society. The International Renaissance Foundation which is the Ukrainian branch of the Soros Foundations was the sole financial supporter of the NRC until now…”

Soros’ NRC in effect is the vehicle to allow the President to override parliamentary debate to push through “reforms,” with the declared first priority being privatization of Naftogaz and raising gas prices drastically to Ukrainian industry and households, something the bankrupt country can hardly afford.

In his letter to Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk, Soros hints that he played a key role in selection of three key non-Ukrainian ministers—Natalia Jaresko, an American ex- State Department official as Finance Minister; Aivras Abromavicius of Lithuania as Economics Minister, and a health minister from Georgia. Soros in his December 2014 letter, referring to his proposal for a “big bank” privatization of Naftogaz and price rise, states, “You are fortunate to have appointed three ‘new Ukrainian’ ministers and several natives (sic) who are committed to this approach.”

Elsewhere Soros speaks about de facto creating the impression within the EU that the current government of Yatsenyuk is finally cleaning out the notorious corruption that has dominated every Kiev regime since 1991. Creating that temporary reform illusion, he remarks, will convince the EU to cough up the €11 billion annual investment insurance fund. His March 2015 paper says that, “It is essential for the government to produce a visible demonstration (sic) during the next three months in order to change the widely prevailing image of Ukraine as an utterly corrupt country.” That he states will open the EU to make the €11 billion insurance guarantee investment fund.

While saying that it is important to show Ukraine as a country that is not corrupt, Soros reveals he has little concern when transparency and proper procedures block his agenda. Talking about his proposals to reform Ukraine’s constitution to enable privatizations and other Soros-friendly moves, he complains, “The process has been slowed down by the insistence of the newly elected Rada on proper procedures and total transparency.”

Soros suggests that he intends to create this “visible demonstration” through his initiatives, such as using the Soros-funded National Reform Council, a body organized by presidential decree which allows the Ukrainian president to push bills through Ukraine’s legislature.

George Soros is also using his new European Council on Foreign Relations think-tank to lobby his Ukraine strategy, with his council members such as Alexander Graf Lambsdorff or Joschka Fischer or Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, not to mention former ECB head, Jean-Claude Trichet no doubt playing a subtle role.

George Soros, now 84, was born in Hungary as a Jew, George Sorosz. Soros once boasted in a TV interview that he posed during the war as a gentile with forged papers, assisting the Horthy government to seize property of other Hungarian Jews who were being shipped to the Nazi death camps. Soros told the TV moderator, “There was no sense that I shouldn’t be there, because that was–well, actually, in a funny way, it’s just like in markets–that if I weren’t there–of course, I wasn’t doing it, but somebody else would.”

This is the same morality apparently behind Soros’ activities in Ukraine today. It seems again to matter not to him that the Ukrainian government he helped bring to power in the February 2014 US coup d’etat is riddled with explicit anti-semites and self-proclaimed neo-Nazis from the Svoboda Party and Pravy Sektor. George Soros is clearly a devotee of “public-private-partnership.” Only here the public gets fleeced to enrich private investors like Mr. Soros and friends. Cynically, Soros signs his Ukraine strategy memo, “George Soros–A self-appointed advocate of the new Ukraine, March 12, 2015.”

January 17, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Survivors tell of France’s ‘dirty war’ for Cameroon independence

Press TV – December 28, 2019

The Cameroonian war of independence was a “dirty war” waged by French colonial troops but it never made headlines and even today goes untold in school history books.

The brutal conflict unfolded in Cameroon, which on January 1 marks its 60th anniversary of independence — the first of 17 African countries that became free from their colonial masters in 1960.

Many decades on, those who witnessed the violence recall events which shaped countless lives in the central African country yet remain unchronicled today.

“My life was overturned,” Odile Mbouma, 72, said in the southwestern town of Ekite.

On the night of December 30, 1956, French troops arrived in the town and slaughtered dozens of people, perhaps as many as a hundred, she recalls.

“We were sitting under a tree when we suddenly heard the crackle of gunfire,” she said. “It was everyone for themselves.”

Taking to her heels, the seven-year-old found herself jumping over bodies. “They were everywhere.”

The troops were looking for independence fighters — members of the Union of the Peoples of Cameroon (UPC), a nationalist movement established in 1948 that faced repression first by the French and later by Cameroonian soldiers.

French authorities labeled the UPC “communist” and cracked down on them from 1955, driving the movement underground, though its charismatic founder Ruben Um Nyobe preached non-violence.

Buried in cement

In September 1958, Um Nyobe — nicknamed Mpodol (for “he who brings the word” in the Bassa language) — was killed by French troops.

“His body was dragged around and displayed so that everybody (saw the corpse) of a man who was considered immortal,” said Louis Marie Mang, UPC activist in Eseka, where Um Nyobe is buried in a Protestant graveyard.

“To prevent traditional rites from being held, he was put in a block of cement and buried (without) a coffin.”

The conflict continued long beyond independence, for repression of the nationalists continued under Cameroon’s first president, Ahmadou Ahidjo, who also banned public references to the UPC and to Um Nyobe.

The violence “passed unnoticed, wiped from memories,” according to Thomas Deltombe, Manuel Domergue and Jacob Tatsitsa, authors of “La guerre du Cameroun” (“Cameroon’s War”), published in 2016.

They estimate that between 1955 and 1964, tens of thousands of people, including civilians as well as UPC members, were killed.

In Ekite, a wreath of flowers lies on the soil of a scrubland field at the end of a dirt track. “The Nation will remember your sacrifice,” says a memorial notice.

“This is one of the mass graves where the nationalists were buried,” said Jean-Louis Kell, a UPC militant.

A second ditch was apparent a dozen meters away, and “a third was discovered not long ago,” said Benoit Bassemel. He was seven during the French massacre and has tears in his eyes when he tells how his father was murdered.

Benoit Bassemel, who’s father was killed during the massacre on the night of December 31 1956, files his machete at his home in Edéa, on December 11, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

‘Free like the others’

UPC nationalists believe that the independence granted on January 1, 1960, was not what they fought for.

They view the country’s two post-independence presidents, Ahidjo and Paul Biya, who has been in office since 1982, as working hand-in-hand with France.

“We wanted to be free like the other countries. We no longer wanted white people to subjugate us,” said 80-year-old Mathieu Njassep, in his tiny family apartment in Petit Paris, a poor district of Douala, the economic capital.

In 1960, aged 21, Njassep joined the Cameroon National Liberation Army (ALNK), the UPC’s armed wing.

After two years of fighting, he was appointed secretary to Ernest Ouandie, a leading figure in the movement. He was sentenced to death but escaped the firing squad, unlike Ouandie, who was executed in 1971.

“We had almost nothing to wage a war with,” Njassep said. “We carried out ambushes with machetes, sticks and homemade guns. If we had had enough weapons, we would have beaten them.”

At the time, the ALNK had established its headquarters in the village of Bandenkop, on the land of the main western tribal group, the Bamileke. Fighting was fierce between the nationalists and the French army.

In the rugged valley from which ALNK commanders led operations, there is no sign of human life today and the only sound is that of a bubbling stream.

“This whole zone was regularly bombed” by the French air force, said Michel Eclador Pekoua, a former UPC official.

Pekoua and other nationalists say French planes dropped napalm. France has neither confirmed nor denied the use of the notorious incendiary weapon.

Decapitations

On a road 30 kilometers to the north, in Bafoussam, a roundabout is known as the “crossroads of the guerrillas,” for it was where the decapitated heads of nationalists were placed on show, said Theophile Nono, head of a historical association, Memoire 60.

The regime’s methods “ranged from the arrest and arbitrary imprisonment of any Cameroonian suspected of ‘rebellion’ to systematic torture, with extrajudicial summary executions,” Nono said.

For many years the conflict mostly remained taboo in Cameroon. It was in the 1990s, when the authorities came under mounting pressure for democratic change, that people began to consider the historic past.

Biya, in a speech in 2010, paid tribute to “people who dreamed of (independence), fought to obtain it and sacrificed their lives for it… Our people should be eternally grateful to them.”

After years of French silence, then president Francois Hollande in 2015 became his country’s first head of state to speak of “a repression” of Cameroonian nationalists leading to “tragic episodes”.

For many survivors, this is not enough.

“France must accept its responsibility,” Nono said. “It must undertake to compensate victims of the dirty war, which has been carefully concealed by both the French side and the Cameroonian side.”

December 28, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment