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Connecting the dots: Crack, Contras, and the CIA

Brass Check TV

This 1996 interview with Gary Webb took place after his “Dark Alliance” newspaper series made waves across the country for piecing together the puzzle of the US crack epidemic.

The pipeline of CIA backed drug smuggling into the country and money smuggling out of the country to support the Nicaraguan Contras was wide open from the mid 1970s on, with players using everything from their shoes to freighters to move cocaine.

Webb was widely smeared by the CIA’s favorite newspapers (The New York Times, the Washington Post, The LA Times ) shortly after this interview.

He was eventually vindicated, but not before his career was destroyed. He was found dead of an apparent suicide in 2005. The price of being a whistleblower?

December 16, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Every Single Member of US Congress Approved Crushing Sanctions on Nicaragua

By Ben Norton | Gray Zone | December 14, 2018

Every single member in both chambers of the US Congress approved legislation that will impose sanctions and financial restrictions on Nicaragua in an explicit effort to weaken its government.

Known as the NICA Act, the bill is now on its way to the desk of President Donald Trump, who will almost certainly sign it into law. Its passage was spearheaded by neoconservative lawmakers centered around the Miami lobby of right-wing Latin American exiles dedicated to eradicating any iteration of socialism in the Western hemisphere.

The United States has spent decades trying to topple Nicaragua’s government, now led by the left-wing Sandinista movement. In April, US-backed opposition figures launched an unsuccessful and exceedingly violent coup attempt in the Central American country — one of the last bastions of leftist politics in an increasingly right-leaning Latin America.

The newly approved Nicaraguan Investment and Conditionality Act (NICA) will give the US president the authority to impose targeted sanctions on Nicaraguan government officials, former officials, or people purportedly “acting on behalf of” Managua.

The bill also seeks to prevent international financial institutions from providing “any loan or financial or technical assistance” to Nicaragua’s government.

The NICA Act enjoyed bipartisan support, but the campaign behind it was largely led by neoconservative Florida Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, with help from Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. Ros-Lehtinen and Cruz met for a Facebook live this December 13 to celebrate the bill’s passage.

In June, these three right-wing Cuban-American lawmakers gathered with young leaders of the Nicaraguan opposition in Washington, DC.

The NICA Act encourages the US government to increase assistance to anti-government “civil society in Nicaragua, including independent media, human rights, and anti-corruption organizations” and to “support the protection of human rights and anti-corruption advocates in Nicaragua.”

The legislation also suggests that political negotiations should be “mediated by the Catholic Church in Nicaragua,” which has for decades supported violent right-wing forces in the region.

This October, leaked audio revealed the Catholic Church’s auxiliary bishop of Managua, Silvio Baez, conspiring with the opposition to oust Nicaragua’s elected president, Daniel Ortega.

“The unity that we need at this moment must include everyone opposed to the government, even if they are suspected of being opportunists, abortionists, homosexuals, [drug] traffickers…,” Baez declared, according to a translation of the leaked audio.

Baez urged the opposition to put up more of the tranque roadblocks that had plunged the country into violence and strangled its economy, describing them as “an extraordinary invention.”

In November, USAID Director Mark Green announced an infusion of $4 million to civil society and media groups opposed to the Sandinista front.

Neoconservative gloating

In September, the NICA Act was combined with a remarkably similar bill from Democratic New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez: the Nicaragua Human Rights and Anticorruption Act, which imposed additional sanctions on Nicaraguan government officials.

Menendez – a Cuban-American whose legal defense from corruption charges was bankrolled by the pro-Israel lobby – joined his neoconservative colleagues in referring to Nicaragua’s democratically elected president, Daniel Ortega, as a “dictator” who leads a “regime.”

Ortega — who voluntarily stepped down from power after losing an election to a US-backed right-wing oligarch in 1990 — won his third presidential term in 2011 with 62 percent of the vote, in what international observers recognized was a fair election. Even the staunchly anti-Sandinista New York Times admitted at the time that Ortega had widespread support.

Ros-Lehtinen declared that “the NICA Act that will help the Nicaraguan people break free of Ortega’s despotic rule.” She has previously insinuated that Nicaragua was a national security threat to the US, proclaiming, “We must also remain vigilant of efforts by Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, China and Iran that continue to help Ortega with military equipment, surveillance, and other technology support.”

For his part, Rubio boasted, “We are one step closer to expanding sanctions and other pressures against the oppressive Ortega regime.”

In lieu of a formal vote, the NICA Act was sent to the bipartisan House Committee on Foreign Affairs for amendments, and these changes were then agreed to by each chamber, without any objections.

On November 27, amendments for the combined legislation were approved with unanimous consent in the Senate. Then on December 11, the changes were unanimously approved in the House without objection.

US corporate media echoes Nicaragua’s US-backed opposition

The unanimous approval of the de facto economic embargo on Nicaragua received very little attention in the English-language media. The story was covered by only a small handful of local news outlets, although it received much more attention in right-wing Spanish-language media.

In an interview with Confidencial – an opposition outlet funded by the US government’s National Endowment for Democracy regime change arm – Nicaragua’s former foreign affairs minister Norman Caldera exclaimed that the “NICA Act is a devastating blow for the regime.”

The right-wing channel 100% Noticias, whose director, Miguel Mora, stands accused by family members of coup victims of inciting hatred and violence, echoed the celebratory language.

CNN Español reported favorably on the NICA Act (it even has a tag on its website devoted to the law), although its English-language counterpart demonstrated little interest. CNN Español referred to the democratically elected government in Managua as a “regime” and noted, “The opposition of Nicaragua celebrates this decision.”

The chaos unleashed by last summer’s coup attempt has badly bled Nicaragua’s economy, plunging growth from a steady five percent to almost zero and eliminating tens of thousands of jobs. With the NICA Act, the US and its local proxies are hoping that exacerbating the economic desperation even further will bend a largely non-compliant Nicaraguan population to their will.

December 15, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

Argentine Court: Ex-Ford Execs Guilty of Kidnapping, Torture During Dictatorship

Telesur | December 11, 2018

The Federal Oral Court of San Martín ruled that ex-directors of the Ford multinational Pedro Müller and Hector Sibila were found guilty in connections with the kidnapping and torture of workers at the plant that the carmaker had in General Pacheco city during the last military dictatorship.

It is the first sentence against directors of the multinational company, not as accomplices, but as direct participants in crimes against humanity. They received penalties of 10 and 12 years in prison.

The case details collusion between the two businessmen and the security forces during the country’s 1976-1983 dictatorship, DW reports. According to the prosecution, the men are accused of conspiring against union workers at the Ford factory, providing names, ID numbers, photographs and home addresses to military officials.

The allegations are that the information provided to the Argentine forces resulted in the abduction of 24 employees, some union members, from the motor company’s factory.

Jorge Constanzo, who was 25 years old at the time, was taken within the first few hours of a military coup. “I feel like I’m going back to live, we’ve waited a long time for this,” Constanzo told El Pais.

All the victims were allegedly subjected to hours of torture, electric shocks and interrogation at the factory’s premises, prior to being removed to military prisons.

“They tortured us for more than 11 hours, we went there at 11:30 in the morning and we left at 11 pm We were continuously under torture,” said former union activist Carlos Propato, who recalled being kicked, beaten, tied with a wire and thrown in the trunk of a truck.

December 11, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Colombian police arrest 6 Israelis over running child sex network

Press TV – December 10, 2018

Colombian police have detained six Israelis accused of running a sex ring that exploited underage girls and forced them to have sex with Israeli tourists in the Latin American country.

Following a two-year investigation, Colombian security police managed to break up “an Israeli mafia that exploited and used girls, adolescents and women as sex slaves in Colombia,” said Prosecutor General Nestor Humberto Martinez in a press conference on Sunday, adding that two Colombian nationals were also nabbed in the sweep.

The chief prosecutor further said that the “mafia” had been selling tour packages to Israeli settlers with a destination to several cities in Colombia, but in reality they had been used as a front for sex services with minor females.

Among the detainees was Israeli alleged ring leader Mor Zohar as well as an unnamed Colombian police officer, who is accused of helping protect the criminal gang.

Martinez added that arrest warrants had been issued for eight other Israelis accused of the same crimes in the case.

According to a statement by the office of the attorney general of Colombia, all the arrested Israelis have Interpol Red Notices, the closest thing to an international arrest warrant. It added that the whole criminal network was allegedly led by Israeli Benyamin Mush, who has traveled in and out of Colombia and Central American countries.

Officials confiscated assets belonging to the suspects worth $45 million.

The testimony obtained from the victims revealed that the girls received between $65 and $126, and were forced to join a WhatsApp group code-named after the Jewish holiday Purim.

According to Colombian authorities, Israeli tourists would stay at hotels and take yacht trips and go to drug and alcohol-fueled private parties where women and minor females were offered as “sex slaves.”

The suspects, who are to stand before a judge in the northwestern city of Medellin, are facing multiple charges, including pimping minors, aggravated homicide, drug trafficking and money laundering.

Back in July, Israeli website Ynetnews reported that the Colombian police had arrested three Israelis as well as 15 others accused of being involved in sex trafficking in the tourist city of Cartagena that included the sexual exploitation of more than 250 women and girls as young as 14 years old.

The attorney general’s office at the time described the victims as “real slaves of the 21st century”.

December 10, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Timeless or most popular | , , | 6 Comments

The Return of the Nicaraguan Contras, and the Rise of the Pro-Contra Left

By Dan Kovalik | CounterPunch | December 7, 2018

According to our nation’s paper of record, the New York Times, the Nicaraguan Contras re-activated some time ago in order to take on their old foe, Daniel Ortega, who had been re-elected in 2007 after a long hiatus of 17 years. One may recall that it was the pressure of the Contras, and their brutal terrorist tactics, which were critical to unseating Ortega from office the first time back in 1990.

Just as a refresher, the Contras (short for “counterrevolutionaries”) were made up largely of the National Guardsmen of the US-backed dictator, Anastasio Somoza. After the successful 1979 revolution against Somoza – a revolution led by Ortega and the FSLN (or, Sandinistas) — the CIA organized the Guardsmen into the Contras and trained, armed and directed them for the purpose of undermining the fledgling Sandinista government. The Contras, with the direct encouragement of the CIA, carried out various terrorist acts which included the torture, rape and murder of civilians and the destruction of key civilian infrastructure. All told, around 30,000 Nicaraguans died in the 1980’s as a result of the US-backed Contra War.

The Contras, after effectively exhausting the Nicaraguan people and extorting them into voting Ortega out of office in 1990, largely disarmed. However, as the Times wrote back in March of 2016 in a laudatory piece about the Contras’ return, this changed sometime after Ortega’s re-election in 2007. The Times piece begins as follows:

He calls himself Tyson, wears tattered United States Army fatigues and carries a beat-up AK-47.

He is a rebel fighter in the mountains of Nicaragua, setting ambushes against President Daniel Ortega’s government and longing for the days when covert American funding paid for overt warfare.

Tyson and his men are contras — yes, like the ones from the 1980s who received stealth funding during the Reagan administration to topple Mr. Ortega’s leftist Sandinista government.   . . .

The contras of today, often nicknamed “the rearmed,” are a shadow of what they once were. . . .

Still, skirmishes in rural areas around the country as recently as last week have left police officers, civilians and soldiers dead, a violent expression of the broader anger brewing against the government.

In this same article, the Times acknowledges that “Mr. Ortega enjoys strong support among the poor . . . .” And of course, this makes absolute sense given Ortega’s enlightened social policies. As the website Popular Resistance explains,

these policies have yielded the highest growth rate in Central America and annual minimum wage increases 5-7% above inflation, improving workers’ living conditions and lifting people out of poverty. The anti-poverty Borgen project reports poverty fell by 30 percent between 2005 and 2014.

The FSLN-led government has put into place an economic model based on public investment and strengthening the safety net for the poor. The government invests in infrastructure, transit, maintains water and electricity within the public sector and moved privatized services, e.g., health care and primary education, into the public sector. This has ensured a stable economic structure that favors the real economy over the speculative economy. The lion’s share of infrastructure in Nicaragua has been built in the last 11 years, something comparable to the New Deal-era in the US, including renewable electricity plants across the country.

Still, according to the Times, the Contras re-emerged in response to what they viewed as Ortega’s over-consolidation of power.

Meanwhile, the Times was not the only one writing about these rearmed Contras. Indeed, over the years, there have been a number of reports about these Contras. According to a 2013 article in Insight Crime, for example, “estimates of the numbers of rearmed contras have varied from dozens to hundreds, and even thousands . . . .” This article explained that eight people had recently been killed as a result of Contra activity in northern Nicaragua near the Honduran border.

For his part, Tim Rogers, a viciously anti-Sandinista journalist, has been writing for years about the phenomenon of the rearmed Contras. For example, in a 2014 piece, Rogers wrote:

A deadly midnight ambush targeting government supporters in northern Nicaragua has stirred the sleeping dogs of war and raised new fears of a pending military campaign against rearmed guerrillas hiding in the mountains.

Five people were killed and 19 injured early Sunday morning in what appears to be a coordinated series of attacks against Sandinista party members traveling by bus through the mountainous coffee-growing region of Matagalpa, one of the main battlegrounds of Nicaragua’s civil war in the 1980s.Video

The buses, filled with pro-government supporters returning from Managua after a day of celebrating the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution, were fired on indiscriminately from the darkened shoulder of the road by unidentified men armed with AK-47s.

This very sort of attack against Sandinista rank and file members was played out time and again over this past summer during the three-month-long crisis which received significant media attention. Indeed, when I was in Managua this past July for the anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution, I was told that, contrary to traditional practice, there would not be buses sent to Managua from other parts of the country for the celebration for fear of such attacks.

And yet, while the mainstream press covered the crisis in Nicaragua this past summer with rapt attention, and while Tim Rogers himself published a number of pieces in the mainstream press about it, there was not one whisper about the rearmed Contras, nor was there coverage of the regular assaults against Sandinista rank and file – attacks which included torture, rape and murder. Instead, we were told by the mainstream press, and by most of the “left-wing” press as well, only of peaceful protesters being attacked by an allegedly repressive Sandinista government. And, when people were killed by sniper attacks, we were told that it had to be government security forces because the opposition used only peaceful means, and, in any case, did not have the capacity to carry out such assaults.

Just as the devil was able to do about his own existence, the greatest feat accomplished in this instance was to convince the public that the rearmed Contras did not exist. Of course, this is not a difficult task given that most Americans’ historical memory is about 24 hours.

What is most deeply disappointing and frustrating, however, is that most of the American left, which presumably should know better, has also fallen for this devil’s trick, and has quickly leapt to join in the right-wing chorus calling for the removal of Ortega and the Sandinistas from office. This despite the fact that, as journalist Max Blumenthal explained, there is clear evidence that the US itself has been behind the violent push to unseat Ortega. As Blumenthal related, on May 1, 2018, a publication funded by the Cold War-era National Endowment for Democracy (NED) “bluntly asserted that organizations backed by the NED have spent years and millions of dollars ‘laying the groundwork for insurrection’” which took place over the summer. And, the US AID just announced that it will continue this work by sending another $4 million to support opposition civil society groups in Nicaragua.

What’s more, as far back as 2012, former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst Wayne Madsen was not only writing about the rearmed Contras but also about the US and Israeli support for them. While Madsen can sometimes be prone to conspiracy theories which do not always pan out, his claims back then about this particular subject seem spot on and indeed quite prescient.

Thus, in his 2012 book, The Manufacturing of a President, Madsen claims, based upon his numerous intelligence sources, that the CIA and Mossad have both been funding these rearmed Contras, and that they have been shipping these Contras arms over both the Honduran and Costa Rican borders. He claims also that the Honduran government which came to power through the 2009 coup – a coup which the Obama Administration actively aided and abetted to unseat a leftist government which, by the way, happened to be friendly to Ortega – has been key to helping both support the Contras as well as to provide a staging ground for the covert operations to bring down the Sandinista government. In other words, Honduras is playing the very same role it did in the 1980s, and the US-backed coup in 2009 – a mere 2 years after Ortega was elected – was crucial to this role.

And, just last week, in a further attempt to unseat Ortega, the US Senate finally passed the NICA Act which will cut Nicaragua off from all international financing – financing which the Ortega government has been using to effectively combat poverty in Nicaragua. The NICA Act has been in the works for some time, and Nicaraguan opposition forces, including the Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS), have openly been lobbying for this. This, however, has not stopped most of the left in the US, who obviously have not been impressed with Ortega’s successful social programs and his real support for the poor, from cheerleading and romanticizing these very same opposition forces.

The result of the NICA Act sanctions will be massive suffering for the poor of Nicaragua who support Ortega the most. These sanctions will be particularly painful after the crisis this past summer in which the opposition managed to trash the economy along with substantial civilian infrastructure (just as the Contras had done in the 1980s). And, should Ortega be unseated as a result of all this, it will most certainly be the violent and most right-wing portion of the opposition which will take power, for it is they who have the resolve and the means to do so.

But, guided by the new religion of “humanitarian interventionism,” the pro-imperialist left of the US is indifferent to the consequences of their support, whether explicit or tacit, of Western imperial aggression.  Just as many on the US left cheered on the NATO invasion of Libya – an invasion which inevitably left that country broken and with slaves being sold openly on the streets – they now applaud the counterrevolution taking place in Nicaragua. This shows once again that the US left has a very high tolerance for the suffering of Third World peoples so long as they feel that this suffering is endured for the sake of their own abstract notions of human rights.

Daniel Kovalik teaches International Human Rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. He is also author of the newly-released, The Plot to Control the World:  How the US has Spent Billions to Change the Outcome of Elections Around the World.

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chile: Mapuche Leaders Meet, Call For Demilitarization

teleSUR | December 2, 2018

A group of Mapuche leaders Saturday met in Temucuicui to decide next possible steps after the assassination of Camilo Catrillanca on Nov. 14 by Chilean Carabineros (police).

The leaders decided on four demands they will put forward to the Chilean state.

“We demand the current government to urgently dismantle and remove said police unit (Jungle Command) considering that this constitutes a permanent threat, violating our right to live in peace, violating the rights of our children, women and the elderly,” they said in a statement.

The other three demands of the community are; self-determination for the Mapuche people, establishing a commission of historical truth ‘to clarify the crimes against humanity’ against the Mapuche people, and territorial restitution.

Marcelo Catrillanca, father of Camilo was in charge of the meeting. He urged the Mapuche people to continue their mobilizations and civil disobedience in the country.

Jorge Huenchullan, a community leader said that the participants of the meeting expressed “their pain and outrage at how the State has been carrying out policies regarding the Mapuche people”,  adding that “if the authorities agree to carry out the demands, we are willing to talk. If they are not, there will be a call to rebellion.”

Additionally, they added that “we remind the Chilean State that the lands and territory (of Mapuche) were taken over and occupied by military violence,” so those who are not Mapuche lack legitimacy and legality in that land.

The four carabineros who took part in the operation which killed Camilo were ordered into preventive detention on Nov. 30. They are charged with homicide and obstruction of justice for destroying evidence. A period of two months for the investigation was established by the prosecutor’s office.

RELATED:

Mexico’s EZLN Expresses Solidarity With Chile Mapuche Struggle

December 3, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Illegal Occupation | , , | Leave a comment

US: Nicaragua is An ‘Enemy to Regional Stability’, ‘Extraordinary Threat to National Security’

teleSUR | November 28, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order, on Tuesday, declaring that the Nicaraguan Government “constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

Trump’s Administration claims that sanctions, which the Nicaraguan Government has sternly rejected, were put in place due to alleged human rights violations.

“We categorically reject the historical continuity of the interference and the interventionist policy of the U.S. imperial power against Nicaragua,” the Nicaraguan government stated, adding that “we declare all accusations that ratify the imperialist perspectives and practices of the United States of America as inadmissible, disrespectful, false and illegitimate.”

Trump also authorized the Department of the Treasury to act against Nicaragua’s Vice President Rosario Murillo, and aide Nestor Moncada Lau.

An ‘executive order on blocking property of certain persons contributing to the situation in Nicaragua’ will effect the seizure of any property owned by Murillo and Moncada that falls under U.S. jurisdiction. The order will also effectively bar any U.S. individuals, banks and other entities from carrying out any transactions with either party.

Hours after President Trump signed off on the executive order, the U.S. Senate approved an additional instrument against the government of Nicaragua.

The ‘Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act’ (Nica Act) facilitates the United States dictating that the Latin American country implement specific U.S.-approved political reforms. The bill also seeks to sanction any government that extends assistance to the administration of President Daniel Ortega, who is open to meeting Trump.

“As Ortega expands his cooperation with Venezuela, Cuba, Russia and other [governments], Nicaragua is both a security threat to the U.S. and an enemy to regional stability,” Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a U.S. representative, who presented the Nica Act, stated.

November 30, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 2 Comments

Facebook Shuts Down Dozens of Alleged Pro-Bolsonaro Accounts in Brazil

Sputnik – 23.10.2018

Facebook has shut down 68 pages and 43 accounts linked to the Brazilian marketing group Raposo Fernandes Associados (RFA); the social media site claims that the firm violated its spam policies.

“The people behind RFA created pages using fake accounts or multiple accounts with the same names, which violates our Community Standards. They then used those pages to post massive amounts of clickbait,” the statement reads.

A local newspaper, O Estado de S. Paulo, called the blocked accounts the largest network supporting Brazil’s right-wing presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, who will face off against his leftist rival Fernando Haddad in the Sunday runoff election.

The US social media giant argued that its decision to remove these pages was based on their behavior, rather than their content.

The newspaper said it exposed the pro-Bolsonaro network in a joint investigation with Avaaz, a US-based activist website, which claimed that the blocked pages had generated 12.5 million interactions in the past month.

October 23, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | 1 Comment

Bolivia: Morales Seeks New Relationship With Chile After Ruling

teleSUR | September 29, 2018

Bolivia’s President Evo Morales hopes to start a “new era” in his nation’s relationship with Chile once the International Court of Justice rules on Bolivia’s demand for sea access on Monday.

The new age will take “advantage of our potentialities, promoting integration for the well being of our peoples,” Morales said. “It’s necessary to cure injuries from the past.”

After a years-long process, the court will decide whether the Chilean government must negotiate a sea exit for Bolivia. La Paz issued the demand in April 2013.

Morales said he values peaceful solutions for international disputes, based on international law.

“Bolivia will never give up in its cause, that’s why the Bolivian people will gather on October 1 without divisions, without difference around our three-color flag, our wiphala and our sea claim flag,” he said. “Our reunion with the sea is not only possible, but inevitable.”

He also asked the people of Chile to understand the demand shouldn’t be considered an “unfriendly act,” but rather an opportunity.

Bolivia demanded the court declare Chile must negotiate an exit for the Pacific Ocean, based on diplomatic evidence it has previously agreed to do so.

Chile is denying any negotiation based on a 1904 treaty between both countries, giving up 120,000 square kilometers of territory, including 400 shore kilometers, to Chile.

The treaty was a result of the War of the Pacific, in which Bolivia and Peru fought against Chile between 1879 and 1883.

The UN’s International Court of Justice is legally binding but it has no means to enforce its rulings over the states.

September 30, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

A CIA lucky break? How the death of the ‘Smiling Pope’ helped Washington win the Cold War

By Neil Clark | RT | September 28, 2018

The sudden death of Pope John Paul I, exactly 40 years ago today, stunned the world. The ‘Smiling Pope’ had only served for 33 days. His demise and replacement by John Paul II marked an important turning point in the old Cold War.

The year 1978, as I argued in a previous op-ed, was the year today’s world was made.

There was nothing inevitable about the ascendancy of Reagan and Thatcher, the rise of groups like Al-Qaeda and IS, and the downfall of the Soviet Union. The neoliberal, neoconservative world order and its associated violence came about because of key events and decisions which took place 40 years ago. The Vatican was at the heart of these events.

The drama which unfolded there in the summer of 1978 would have been rejected as being too far-fetched if sent in as a film script. In a space of two and a half months, we had three different Popes. There was no great surprise when, on August 6, the first of them, Pope Paul VI, died after suffering a massive heart attack. The Supreme Pontiff, who had served since 1963, was 80 and had been in declining health. But the death of his much younger successor, John Paul I, a radical reformer who wanted to build a genuine People’s Church, has fuelled conspiracy theories to this day.

Cardinal Albino Luciani, the working-class son of a bricklayer (and staunch socialist), from a small town in northern Italy, was a Pope like no other. He refused a coronation and detested being carried on the sedia gestatoria – the Papal chair. He hated pomp and circumstance and pretentiousness. His speeches were down to earth and full of homely observations, with regular references to popular fiction. He possessed a gentle humor and always had a twinkle in his eye. He was by all accounts an incredibly sweet man.

But there was steel there, too. Luciani was determined to root out corruption, and to investigate the complex financial affairs of the Vatican’s own bank, and its connection to the scandal-hit Banco Ambrosiano.

While he had declared communism to be incompatible with Christianity, his father’s egalitarian ethos stayed with him. “The true treasures of the Church are the poor, the little ones to be helped not merely by occasional alms but in the way they can be promoted,” he once said. At a meeting with General Videla of Argentina, he made clear his abhorrence of fascism. “He talked particularly of his concern over ‘Los Desaparecidos’, people who had vanished off the face of Argentinian earth in their thousands. By the conclusion of the 15th minute audience the General began to wish that he had heeded the eleventh-hour attempts of Vatican officials to dissuade him coming to Rome,” noted David Yallop in his book ‘In God’s Name’.

One cleric, Father Busa, wrote of John Paul I: “His mind was as strong, as hard and as sharp as a diamond. That was where his real power was. He understood and had the ability to get to the centre of a problem. He could not be overwhelmed. When everyone was applauding the smiling Pope, I was waiting for him ‘tirare fuori le unghie’, to reveal his claws. He had tremendous power.”

But John Paul I never lived to exercise his “tremendous power.” He was found dead in his bed on the morning of September 28, 1978. The official story was that the ‘Smiling Pope’ had died from a heart attack. But it wasn’t long before questions were being asked. John Paul I was only 65 and had appeared to be in fine health. The fact that there was no post-mortem only added to the suspicions. “The public speculation that this death was not natural grew by the minute. Men and women were heard shouting at the inert form: Who has done this to you? Who has murdered you?” wrote David Yallop.

David Yallop revealed that on the day of his death, the Pope had discussed a reshuffle of Vatican staff with Secretary of State Cardinal Jean Villot, who was also to be replaced. Yallop claimed that the Pope had a list of a number of clerics who belonged to the Freemasons, membership of which was strictly prohibited by the Church. The most sinister of these Masonic lodges was the fiercely anti-communist Propaganda Due (P2), which held great influence in Italy at this time, being referred to as a “state within a state.” The murky world of P2, and its leaders’ links with organized crime, the Mafia and the CIA is discussed in ‘In God’s Name’.

Another writer, Lucien Gregoire, author of ‘Murder by the Grace of God’, points the finger of blame squarely at the CIA. He notes a seemingly strange coincidence, namely that on September 3, 1978, just 25 days before the Pope himself died, Metropolitan Nikodim, the visiting leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, who was later revealed to have been a KGB agent, fell dead at John Paul’s feet in the Vatican after sipping coffee. He was only 48. Gregoire says that the CIA dubbed John Paul I ‘the Bolshevik Pope’ and was keen to eliminate him before he presided over a conference the Puebla Conference in Mexico. “Had he lived another week, the United States would have been looking at a half a dozen mini-Cubas in its back yard,” he writes.

While there’s no shortage of suspects if you believe that John Paul I was murdered, it needs to be stressed that despite the contradictory statements made about the circumstances of his death, and the strange coincidences, no evidence has yet been produced to show that his death was not a natural one. What we can say though is that there will have been quite a few powerful and influential people in Italy and beyond who were relieved that the ‘Smiling Pope’ had such a short time in office.

His successor, the Polish Archbishop Karol Wojtyla, who took the name ‘John Paul II’ as a homage to his predecessor, made it clear that investigating the Vatican’s financial activities and uncovering Freemasons was not a priority. As a patriotic Pole, his appointment was manna from Heaven for anti-communist hawks in the US State Department. “The single fact of John Paul II’s election in 1978 changed everything. In Poland, everything began… Then the whole thing spread. He was in Chile and Pinochet was out. He was in Haiti and Duvalier was out. He was in the Philippines and Marcos was out,” said Joaquin Navarro-Valls, John Paul II’s press secretary.

The way that Pope John Paul II spoke out against what he regarded as communist repression, not only in his native Poland but across Eastern Europe and beyond, saw him being toasted by the neocon faction. It might not have been just words either, which helped undermine communist rule. There was a rumor that ‘God’s Banker’ Roberto Calvi, who in 1982 was found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge in London, had sent $50mn to ‘Solidarity’ in Poland on behalf of the Pope.

In May 1981, John Paul II was shot and wounded by Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca. Neocons in the US promoted the narrative that it was a communist plot (organized by Bulgaria), but Sofia denied involvement. In 1985, Agca’s confederate, Abdullah Catli, who was later killed in a car crash, testified that he had been approached by the West German BND spy organization, which promised him a large sum of money  “if he implicated the Bulgarian secret service and the KGB in the attempt on the Pope’s life.”

Martin Lee, writing in Consortium News, also notes that in 1990, “ex-CIA analyst Melvin A. Goodman disclosed that his colleagues, under pressure from CIA higher-ups, skewed their reports to try to lend credence to the contention that the Soviets were involved. ‘The CIA had no evidence linking the KGB to the plot,’ Goodman told the Senate Intelligence Committee.”

In 2011, a new book entitled ‘To Kill the Pope, the Truth about the Assassination Attempt on John Paul II’, which was based on 20 years of research, concluded that the CIA had indeed tried to frame Bulgaria, in order to discredit communism.

The great irony of course is that after the Berlin Wall came down, Pope John Paul II became a strong critic of the inhumane ‘greed is good’ model of capitalism which had replaced communism. In Latvia, he said capitalism was responsible for “grave social injustices” and acknowledged that Marxism contained “a kernel of truth.” He said that “the ideology of the market” made solidarity between people “difficult at best.” In Czechoslovakia, he warned against replacing communism with materialism and consumerism.

Having enlisted the assistance of the Vatican in helping to bring down ‘The Reds’, the neo-liberals and neo-cons then turned on the Church. The Church survived communism, but it hasn’t fared too well under consumerism. The Vatican is nowhere near as influential as it was in 1978. The US, meanwhile, unconstrained by a geopolitical counter-weight, threw its weight around the world after 1989, illegally invading and attacking a series of sovereign states.

One can only wonder how different things might have been if the ‘Smiling Pope’ had lived.

Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries including The Guardian, Morning Star, Daily and Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Week, and The American Conservative. He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia. He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership. His award winning blog can be found at http://www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66

September 28, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 2 Comments

72nd FARC Member Murdered in Colombia Since Peace Agreement

Colombians protest against the murder of social leaders in Bogota.

Colombians protest against the murder of social leaders in Bogota. | Photo: EFE
teleSUR | September 27, 2018

The systematic targeting of social leaders and former FARC guerrilla fighters has become one of the main obstacles to peace in Colombia.

In Colombia, two former combatants of the demobilized Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) were attacked in the Cauca department. One of them, John Faber Gomez, who was also a member of the National Protection Unit, died as a result of the wounds he sustained.

The armed attack took place after the Colombian government authorized the new Temporary Hamlet Zone for Normalization in the municipality of Patia, to replace the abandoned hamlet zone in Policarpa, Nariño.

The Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC) party condemned the attack and demanded security guarantees from the government.

“Peace is in mourning. In the Cauca department, a member of the National Protection Unit and our party @FARC_EPueblo was murdered, 72 former combatants have already been murdered. #WeDemandTheRighttoLife #ThatPeaceDoesNotCostUsOurLives #WeWorkForPeace #TheyAreKillingUs,” Pablo Catatumbo tweeted Monday.

The systematic targeting of social leaders, human rights defenders, and former FARC guerrilla fighters has become one of the main obstacles to peace, especially because the state has failed to guarantee control over the territories left by the demobilized FARC.

In the framework of the United Nations General Assembly, the U.N. Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, met with Colombian President Ivan Duque to ratify his commitment to the Colombian peace process and stress the urgency of providing security and development to conflict zones.

Cauca, Nariño, and Antioquia are the departments that record the highest number of murders. Human rights organizations have denounced the country’s General Attorney’s Office for lacking an investigation strategy that takes into account the existence of paramilitary groups, and the systematic nature of the murders against former combatants and social leaders.

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Colombia’s Peace Crumbles as Social Leaders Killed With Impunity

September 28, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment