“…the evidence is glaring that the US has just moved blatantly to destroy the democratic process in Bolivia, to terrorize a nation and blackmail its president to resign. Yet Western media dutifully turn off that narrative to keep chasing their fantasies about Russia. Another illustration of why corporate Western media are more accurately defined as propaganda channels, not news outlets.”
Only days before Evo Morales stepped down as Bolivia’s president audio tapes were published implicating opposition politicians, the US embassy and American senators in a coup plot.
Among those US senators mentioned in the leaked tapes by the Bolivian politicians seeking Morales’ ouster were Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, according to a report by Telesur.
It is believed that the US embassy in La Paz helped coordinate a deliberate campaign of street violence and media disinformation in order to destabilize the Andean country and force Morales to quit.
The whole scenario fits Washington’s standard-operating procedure for instigating coups or regime change against governments it disapproves of. Bolivia’s socialist president Evo Morales was in Washington’s cross-hairs for toppling.
What has happened in Bolivia is similar to the US-backed violent protests which earlier this year rocked the socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela. Fortunately for Maduro, the Venezuelan military has remained loyal to the constitution and was not turned by Washington’s pressure.
Unfortunately for Morales, however, sufficient pressure was exerted on the Bolivian military and police. When those institutions called for Morales to step down on Sunday, he did so in order to spare his nation from further deadly conflict. “The coup mongers are destroying the rule of law,” said Morales, who was re-elected for a fourth term on October 20.
Several countries have denounced what they see as a coup against the democratically elected leader. Russia, Cuba, Mexico, Venezuela and Argentina have all condemned the subversion of Bolivia’s constitution.
When Morales won the election last month, the Organisation of American States (OAS) alleged “manipulation” of the voting system. Such claims by the OAS were predictable because it has long served as a pro-Washington agency which is vehemently opposed to left-wing governments in Latin America. Critics call it a relic of the Cold War.
The organization has spearheaded international criticism of the Venezuelan government and served to whip up public disturbances earlier this year in that country which challenged the elected president, Nicolas Maduro. The orchestrated coup in Venezuela has since subsided over recent months.
Washington supplies the OAS with 60 per cent of its financial budget. It is, therefore, a tool for promoting US geopolitical interests across Latin America, as amply noted by the Grayzone.
It’s meddling in Bolivia seems to have succeeded, unlike its failed attempts in Venezuela.
The allegations of voting fraud in Bolivia gave immediate fuel for street protests by rightwing groups loyal to opposition politicians. Those opposition factions are linked to the past oligarchic regimes which ran Bolivia before Morales came to power in 2006. Morales was the first indigenous president in a country which has traditionally been dominated by a ruling class associated with Spanish colonialists. His policies gained much international praise for lifting millions of Bolivians out of poverty, especially the indigenous people who had historically been marginalized by the ruling elite.
For the past three weeks, since the election result designated Morales as the clear winner, Bolivia has been convulsed by extreme violence. Protesters attacked members of Morales’ party, burning homes and offices and intimidating journalists from broadcasting the scenes of anarchy on the streets. It is reported that one of Morales’ family relatives was kidnapped at the weekend.
Given the reign of terror threatening to destroy the country, the president was compelled to relinquish power at the weekend.
The implication of US senators colluding with Bolivia’s rightwing opposition to create a climate of hate and fear is straight out of the same playbook for subversion that Washington has used most recently in Venezuela and in dozens of other countries around the world. The coup d’état that occurred in Ukraine in February 2014 leading to a takeover by neo-Nazi parties is just one other example.
The irony is that Washington and its European partners are consumed with accusations made against Russia for allegedly interfering in their political systems. US and European media relentlessly claim with scant evidence that Moscow is running “influence campaigns” to distort elections.
Just this week the New York Times has published yet another report in a recent series of reports alleging that Russia is cranking up interference and meddling in African states.
Meanwhile, the evidence is glaring that the US has just moved blatantly to destroy the democratic process in Bolivia, to terrorize a nation and blackmail its president to resign. Yet Western media dutifully turn off that narrative to keep chasing their fantasies about Russia. Another illustration of why corporate Western media are more accurately defined as propaganda channels, not news outlets.
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.
For decades many critics of broadcast television labeled it ‘The idiot box’. As Ed Norton said in a Honeymooners episode “Maybe the phrase fits.’” Well, today, perhaps more than ever before, we all must be idiots to continue viewing it.
Let’s first examine the news and news talk shows that seem to almost go 24/7 along with their cousin, the sports and sports talk shows. You stroll down the dial and you get mostly millionaire and wannabe millionaire pundits labeled as journalists, political analysts, Democratic or Republican strategists (how I just love that term), or contributors to their channel of servitude – usually CNN, Fox or MSNBC.
Amazing how every single one of these people gladly and regularly serve the Military Industrial Empire! The only delineating factor is if they are with the Republicans or Democrats… period! What in God’s name could any of these wealthy people understand how we working stiffs, or worse than that, unemployed or homeless Amerikans are going through? Really! They sit there and pontificate on the subject of a Medicare for All ideal, always finding some fault in it, whether they be from either of the two corrupt and hypocritical parties. If anyone reading this is a millionaire, or goodness, a mega millionaire, paying out $ 15- $ 20k a year for what they call a Cadillac Health Plan would be a drop in the bucket (of course we taxpayers subsidize the plan our elected officials get gratis). So, how can they ever comprehend the stress that NOT having such a plan means? Ditto for paying rent to an Absentee Landlord when that figure eats up too large a portion of one’s wages. Need I go down the list of the costs of raising a child or children on the wages most of us have to survive on? The faces we see on that idiot box do not, in most cases, have even a clue!
You turn on the sports talk shows, as I used to do too much of the time, and the dribble that comes out of the mouths of those sports journalistsis overwhelming! This economic system is so skewed that any working stiff should now realize the futility of it all. All of these sports talk shows readily accept the fact that the pro sports like football, basketball and baseball pay these players mega millions of dollars. Imagine the debates that these sports talk shills have on about some above average player demanding a salary of $ 300 million dollars over 10 years. They don’t argue that the whole enchilada is ridiculous, when guys are earning that much to throw or catch a ball or make a basket while we suckers pay through the nose to watch.
No, to these whores of the sports media the more these guys get paid, the more they can get paid as water carriers. Of course, to them and to the players this all is fine and dandy, because the owners of both the teams and the media channels are raking in billions! Going to a game in person, with a couple of kids, will cost, just for middle of the road seats, at least hundreds of dollars! For one game! As a baby boomer, I can recall taking my two sons to a Met game in the 1970s and paying out maybe $ 75 for everything: parking , tickets, food and drinks and programs.
How about the people you vote to represent we working stiffs? This is from the 2018 Roll Call listing:
In 2018, to rank among the top 50 wealthiest members of Congress required a net worth of at least $7.5 million.
Source: Roll Call (2018)
When you tune into that idiot box just remember that you are viewing a club of super rich people. It does not matter if it is news, politics, sports or any type of entertainment… these folks do NOT have a clue as to what you and your family and friends are up against each and every day. They all are NOT representative of anything worth appreciating. So, who are the real idiots here?
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Philip A Farruggio is a contributing editor for The Greanville Post. He is also frequently posted on Global Research, Nation of Change, World News Trust and Off Guardian sites. He is the son and grandson of Brooklyn NYC longshoremen and a graduate of Brooklyn College, class of 1974. Since the 2000 election debacle Philip has written over 300 columns on the Military Industrial Empire and other facets of life in an upside down America. He is also host of the ‘It’s the Empire… Stupid‘ radio show, co produced by Chuck Gregory. Philip can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Featured image is from Newsbud
Assistant Professor of Communications (Social Media) & Magazine, News and Digital Journalism, Syracuse University
Facebook’s News Feed algorithm determines what users see on its platform – from funny memes to comments from friends. The company regularly updates this algorithm, which can dramatically change what information people consume.
As the 2020 election approaches, there is much public concern that what was dubbed “Russian meddling” in the 2016 presidential election could happen again. But what’s not getting enough attention is the role Facebook’s algorithm changes play, intentionally or not, in that kind of meddling.
A key counterpoint to the Russian misinformation campaign was factual journalism from reputable sources – which reached many of their readers on Facebook and other social media platforms. As a social media researcher and educator, I see evidence that changes to Facebook’s News Feed algorithm suppressed users’ access to credible journalism in the run-up to Trump’s election.
Political operatives know Facebook serves as a gatekeeper of the information diets of more than 200 million Americans and 2 billion users worldwide. Actions and abuse by others on the platforms have generated much concern and public discussion, including about how much disinformation and propaganda Americans saw before the election. What has not been talked about enough is the effect that Facebook’s algorithmic shifts have had on access to news and democracy.
In mid-2015, Facebook introduced a major algorithm change that pivoted readers away from journalism and news, to deliver more updates from their friends and family. The change was couched in friendly language suggesting Facebook was trying to make sure users didn’t miss stories from friends. But social media data shows that one effect of the change was to reduce the number of interactions Facebook users had with credible journalism outlets.
A few months before the 2016 election, an even bigger algorithm change toward friends and family posts took a second toll on publisher traffic. A wide range of news publishers found that their content was significantly less visible to Facebook users.
In my research, I looked at Facebook engagement for mainstream news outlets surrounding the 2016 election. My findings support others’ conclusions that Facebook’s algorithm greatly suppressed public engagement with these publishers.
Data from CrowdTangle, a social media monitoring company, shows that Facebook traffic dropped noticeably at CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, The New York Times and The Washington Post after the company updated its algorithms to favor friends and family in June 2016.
That proves the algorithm worked the way it was designed to work, but I am concerned that major U.S. publishers were suppressed in this way. Voter interest in the presidential election was higher in 2016 than in the previous two decades, and misinformation was rampant. Facebook’s changes meant that key news organizations across the political spectrum had a harder time getting the word out about credible election news and reporting.
Facebook was aware of concerns about its algorithm even before the election happened. One of Facebook’s own engineers flagged these potential effects of Facebook’s algorithm changes in July 2015. Three months later, Zuckerberg’s mentor, Roger McNamee, also attempted to alert Zuckerberg and Facebook executives that the platform was being used to manipulate information about the election.
Just after the election, reporter Craig Silverman’s research at BuzzFeed showed that fake election news had outperformed “real news.” In late 2018, Facebook’s own company statement revealed issues with how its algorithm rewarded “borderline content” that was sensational and provocative, like much of the hyperpartisan news that trended in advance of the election.
More recent research by Harvard’s Shorenstein Center shows that Facebook traffic continued to decrease significantly for publishers after a further Facebook algorithm change in January 2018.
Prof. Grygiel calls for algorithmic transparency on MSNBC.
To date, research on how Facebook’s algorithm works has been limited by the lack of access to its proprietary inner workings. It’s not enough to investigate the effects of the changes in Facebook’s News Feed. I believe it’s important to understand why they happened, too, and consider Facebook’s business decisions more directly and how they affect democracy.
Recent insight into the company’s internal processes suggest that Facebook is beginning to understand its power. In July 2019, Bloomberg News revealed that the company had deployed software on its own platform to look out for posts that portrayed Facebook itself in potentially misleading ways, reducing their visibility to safeguard the company’s reputation.
Some international legal scholars have begun to call for laws to protect democracies against the possibility that algorithmic manipulation could deliver electoral gain. There’s no proof that Facebook’s changes had political intentions, but it’s not hard to imagine that the company could tweak its algorithms in the future, if it wanted to.
To guard against that potential, new laws could bar changes to the algorithm in the run-up periods before elections. In the financial industry, for instance, “quiet periods” in advance of major corporate announcements seek to prevent marketing and public-relations efforts from artificially influencing stock prices.
Similar protections for algorithms against corporate manipulation could help ensure that politically active, power-seeking Facebook executives – or any other company with significant control over users’ access to information – can’t use their systems to shape public opinion or voting behavior.
When will American politicians ever speak the truth instead of muddling it with their own petty agenda? The reason why many of us go to RT and Sputnik is because they have better journalism. Period. Most American mainstream media is merely a feeble regurgitation of what the White House says. That’s not journalism buddy. And the lies keep on coming.
The CEO of the American agency that governs international broadcasting has made a powerful, if blatantly false, sales pitch for his fight against ‘Russian disinformation’… right after saying “any lie will do” for the Kremlin.
What is happening to Venezuela is a coup d’état and it has nothing to do with democracy, human rights, free and fair elections or international law. The US and Canada represent the antithesis of those values; defying the United Nations Charter and international law by interfering in the internal affairs of Venezuela. Their hands are not clean, and their motives are not pure, because their foreign policy objectives everywhere are to promote the interests of their domestic corporations, oligarchs and war profiteers.
In 2017 the US and Canada formed a posse of vigilantes that they named the Lima Group. The members of the Lima Group are Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Saint Lucia. Mexico’s newly elected liberal government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has withdrawn from the Lima Group, saying that Mexico follows the principles of sovereignty, non-intervention, and self-determination in foreign policy. Viva AMLO! The Lima Group makes a mockery out of the United Nations and international law.
The US, which is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, handpicked the gang members of the Lima Group. Most are rightwing governments, and politically dominated by business-centric oligarchs, and wealthy families just like those that are trying to take control in Venezuela. Fascism, supported by corporations, elites and imperialists are on the march. There is a new wave of anti-immigrant, xenophobic, evangelical, homophobic, and social conservatives gaining power in Latin America, as elsewhere.
The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, Idriss Jazairy specifically condemned the US and Canada for imposing economic sanctions on Venezuela. Jazairy stressed that the economic sanctions are immoral on humanitarian grounds, and they are an illegal attempt to overthrow the internationally recognized sovereign government of Venezuela. On January 31, 2019 the UN released a report that quoted him as saying:
“I am especially concerned to hear reports that these sanctions are aimed at changing the government of Venezuela… Coercion, whether military or economic, must never be used to seek a change in government in a sovereign state. The use of sanctions by outside powers to overthrow an elected government is in violation of all norms of international law…. Economic sanctions are effectively compounding the grave crisis affecting the Venezuelan economy, adding to the damage caused by hyperinflation and the fall in oil prices.”
Former UN Special Rapporteur Alfred de Zayas, who is also an international expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, said on his website on February 7th the following about the current situation in Venezuela:
“Members of the United Nations are bound by the Charter, articles one and two of which affirm the right of all peoples to determine themselves, the sovereign equality of states, the prohibition of the use of force and of economic or political interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states…… the enormous suffering inflicted on the Venezuelan people by the United States is nothing less than appalling. The economic war against Venezuela, carried out not only by the United States, but also by the Grupo de Lima in clear violation of Chapter 4, Article 19 of the OAS Charter, the financial blockade and the sanctions have demonstrably caused hundreds of deaths directly related to the scarcity of food and medicines resulting from the blockade.”
Zayas also said that what the US, Canada and the mainstream media are doing to Venezuela reminds him of the deliberate disinformation campaign that led to the US, and the “coalitions of the willing” that included Canada anonymously, illegally invading Iraq in 2003, and their destruction of Libya in 2011.
In the case of Libya in 2011, the so-called “no-fly zone” authorized by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 was for the intended purpose of bringing about a ceasefire. It specifically forbade any “boots on the ground”, which the US is known to have violated.
The US, Canada and other NATO forces illegally exceeded their UN mandate, and used it as a cover to completely destroy Libya and regime change. It later was learned that the supposed Gaddafi genocide, which the no-fly zone was intended to stop was a hoax. The point is that the US and its junior partners can never be trusted to tell the truth when a lie serves their purposes much better.
Whenever the US and its junior imperial partners resort to pleas of democracy and human rights, an ulterior motive should be assumed. For instance, the little the US and Canada care about democracy, human rights and free elections is shown by their long history of supporting non-democratic governments.
Canada has supported every US regime change project, and the overthrow of democratic governments, which did not conform to their mutual foreign policy objectives. Both countries’ foreign policies prefer corrupt business-centric rightwing repressive governments. Democracy and human rights conflict with the interests and profits of their exploitative and extractive corporations.
Both the US and Canada supported the apartheid government of South Africa right up until the very end; they support the apartheid government of Israel, which is the number one violator of human rights in the world; and they both sell arms and support the most repressive government in the world, Saudi Arabia. Human rights have not been an issue.
The US overthrew the democratically elected Salvador Allende of Chile, with Canada’s support. Both countries supported the junta regime of Augusto Pinochet, whom was later arrested for crimes against humanity. Both the US and Canada supported the illegitimate coup governments of Haiti in 2004, and in Honduras in 2009. By some estimates, the US (and Canada) support 73% of the dictators in the world. Human rights have not been an issue.
The US and Canada have been trying to overthrow the democratically elected reformist government of Venezuela, known as the Bolivarian Revolution, since 1999. Hugo Chavez’s elections were all certified by the Carter Foundation, the OAS and other legitimate observers. Chavez was elected in free, fair and democratic elections, but that did not matter to the US and Canada. They wanted to overthrow him anyway. Human rights were not an issue.
Democracy, human rights, the right-to-protect, humanitarian interventions and all the other righteous soundbites are just talking points for the US and Canada. They are only used against governments that get in their way, and never used against corrupt business-friendly governments, no matter how oppressive. Paul Jay, a Canadian, who is the editor-in-chief of The Real News Network says that he personally became aware in 2005 of Canada’s involvement in the conspiracy of regime change in Venezuela:
The hypocrisy of US concerns over human rights is on full display in a leaked US State Department memo from Brian Hook to then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The memo is titled “Balancing Interests and Values”. The memo does not mince words about human rights concerns being only a tactic to use against adversaries:
“America’s allies should be supported rather than badgered…. allies should be treated differently — and better — than adversaries…. We do not look to bolster America’s adversaries overseas; we look to pressure, compete with, and outmaneuver them…. pressing those regimes [adversaries] on human rights is one way to impose costs, apply counter-pressure, and regain the initiative from them strategically.”
Hook continues his memo by giving Tillerson a history lesson on the art of US hypocrisy from 1940 to 2017.
In other words, rightwing dictators, military juntas, ethnic cleansing, fraudulent elections, human rights violations, political prisoners, torture and murder should be treated differently, and better, with compliant allies. Even when adversaries are democratically elected, they should be roasted in order to “extract costs”, according to Hook…. but not because the US cares about people.
There is no serious doubt about the legitimacy of the more than a dozen elections in Venezuela between 1998 to 2013. That did not prevent the US and Canada from “extracting costs”, and trying to overthrow Hugo Chavez anyway. Given the examples of the US and Canada overthrowing the democratically elected governments in Chile, Haiti and Honduras, the objections to Maduro are unbelievable.
In the past few years, there have been a half-dozen certified democratic elections in Venezuela. The real motives for opposing Maduro must be something else. It is obvious what that something else is. The real motives behind the US and Canada are Venezuela’s massive wealth in oil, gas, and other natural resources, such as gold, copper and coltan.
There are also tremendous profits to be had by bringing Venezuela into the Washington Consensus. US and Canadian banks profit from IMF and World Bank loans. The corrupt politicians and oligarchs steal the loans, and then it is the poor that have to repay them, through higher prices for life’s necessities, reduced wages and government-imposed austerity. The privatization of state-owned enterprises at corrupt fire-sale prices enrich oligarchs and corporations tremendously.
The Washington Consensus also forces unequal trade agreements and currency devaluation on poor countries. The resulting lower prices are used to extract natural resources, monocrops and sweatshop produced products for export. Small farmers are driven off the land because they cannot compete with dumped US and Canadian tax-payer highly-subsidized agricultural products, such as corn and wheat. Those that suffer are the local farmers, the poor, landless and indigenous people, who go from subsistence, to poverty, to wage slavery.
The chaotic political situation in Venezuela has been purposely made worse by the US and Canada. Since Venezuela is “cursed” with natural resources, especially oil, its economy has historically gone from boom to bust depending on international oil prices.
It was low oil prices, endemic poverty, gross inequality, and neoliberal economic policies that favored the rich in the 1990’s, which swept Chavez into power in the 1998 election. A majority of the Venezuelan people elected Hugo Chavez and his “Bolivarian Revolution” of rewriting the constitution, increasing participatory democracy, frequent elections, and implementing social programs for the poor. The Carter Center (as well as the OAS) certified the election, and praised Venezuela’s modern voting systems as one of the best in the world:
“Venezuelans voted peacefully, but definitively for change. With more than 96 percent voting for the two candidates who promised to overhaul the system, Venezuelans carried out a peaceful revolution through the ballot box”, said Jimmy Carter’s Foundation upon Chavez’s victory.
The US opposed Chavez regardless of fair and democratic elections. A surprisingly honest 2005 article in the Professional Journal of the US Army explained why the US opposed Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution for economic and geopolitical reasons:
“Since he was elected president in 1998, Chávez has transformed Venezuelan Government and society in what he has termed a Bolivarian revolution. Based on Chávez’s interpretation of the thinking of Venezuelan founding fathers Simón Bolívar and Simón Rodríguez, this revolution brings together a set of ideas that justifies a populist and sometimes authoritarian approach to government, the integration of the military into domestic politics, and a focus on using the state’s resources to serve the poor—the president’s main constituency.”
“Although the Bolivarian revolution is mostly oriented toward domestic politics, it also has an important foreign policy component. Bolivarian foreign policy seeks to defend the revolution in Venezuela; promote a sovereign, autonomous leadership role for Venezuela in Latin America; oppose globalization and neoliberal economic policies; and work toward the emergence of a multipolar world in which U.S. hegemony is checked. The revolution also opposes the war in Iraq and is skeptical of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). The United States has worked fruitfully in the past with Venezuela when the country pursued an independent foreign policy, but the last three policies run directly contrary to U.S. foreign policy preferences and inevitably have generated friction between the two countries.” [Emphasis added.] [See Appendix]
Whether it is Chavez or Maduro, the US, Canada and the oligarchs in Venezuela have been trying to kill the Bolivarian Revolution from when it was an infant in the cradle.
The opposition with the support of imperialists have been trying to get rid of the Bolivarian Revolution with every means imaginable. They have tried a US supported military coup against Hugo Chavez in 2002. It failed. They tried strikes by the management of the Venezuelan oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela. It failed. They tried a recall election in 2004. It failed. Obama tried economic sanctions in 2015. It failed. The US and Canada tried an economic blockade in 2017. It has failed, as of this article. They tried to assassinate Maduro with a drone. It failed.
In 2018 the opposition boycotted the election. Maduro won by a landslide. He had invited the United Nations to be election observers, but the opposition kept the UN away. Other international observers certified the election. Now the opposition complains about the integrity of the election observers. The opposition is making a circus out of elections. The objections by the oligarchs, the US and Canada that the 2018 elections in Venezuela where fraudulent is itself a fraud. Their objectives are to knowingly “extract costs” that Venezuela can ill afford.
The US chose Canada to be the mouthpiece for the Lima Group, but the coup is being directed by imperial powers in Washington. Canadian politeness is not working, and its imperialism is out of the closet where it has been hiding. As Canadian historian Yves Engler puts it, the US carries the big stick in Latin America, and Canada comes along afterwards with the billy club. Engler is referring to Canadian peacekeeping missions, which he exposes as actually policing and counter insurgency missions. Yves Engler has written dozens of books and articles on Canadian imperialism.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may be fooling some of the people, some of the time. But he is now under attack at home for corruption. His accusers say that he has obstructed justice in the world-wide corruption scandal involving the powerful international Canadian conglomerate SNC-Lavalin. SNC-Lavalin is a mining, energy and engineering company that is typical of the corrupt face of Canadian imperialism.
Trudeau’s conspiracy with Trump to overthrow the internationally recognized government of Venezuela has unmasked Canada as a second-rate imperial power. Upon closer look, Canada has been protecting its oil and mining companies that have been raping Latin American countries, destroying their environment and poisoning their people for decades. Canadian imperialism has to obey its “deep state” too, as Canadian journalist Bruce Livesey puts it:
“Those who believe the oil industry has become a deep state point to how the political elites, whether Liberal, Conservative or NDP — from Justin Trudeau to Stephen Harper to Rachel Notley — go to bat for the industry….”.
Mining companies as well as oil and gas are a big part of Canada’s “deep state”. They control approximately 50 to 70% of the mines in Latin America, and they are not held accountable in Canadian courts for their destruction to the environment and harm to human beings in foreign countries. They dispossess the indigenous people and poor of their land. They hire goons to threaten, attack and murder those that try to form labor unions, or demonstrate about land confiscation and human rights abuses. Honduras is just one example of what happens when a democratically elected leader is overthrow by a US and Canadian-backed coup; Canadian mining companies move in. It is all exposed in the book “Ottawa and Empire: Canada and the Military Coup in Honduras”, by Tyler Shipley.
All extractive industries wound the planet. That happens with relatively more impunity abroad, but capitalism inflicts severe harm at home, too. [Canadian Mining Companies in Latin America. Photo Council on Hemispheric Affairs.]
Dispossessing native people of their land and natural resources comes natural to Canada. After all, like the US it was a settler colonial outpost for the British Empire. Both the US and Canada committed genocide and ethnic cleansing of their mutual Indigenous People. They were even allies and coordinated the genocide. According to historian Andrew Graybill:
“….the NorthWest Mounted Police were created and the Texas Rangers renewed and reorganized in the early 1870s specifically to address the pressing ‘native question’ confronting Texas and western Canada, among the few places where bison still roamed after 1870….. both Austin and Ottawa called on their rural police to manage indigenous populations facing societal collapse….by controlling or denying the Natives access to the bison.”
In other words, both the US and Canada collaborated in killing the buffalo to extinction. It was the coup de grâce for the starving “native question”. [This reminds us that the “settler” capitalist states have been morally despicable practically from inception, all propaganda to the contrary.—Ed ]
Mining is one of Canada’s biggest and most powerful and politically influential industries. Canada has approximately 60% of all mining companies in the world. Canadian companies such as Ascendant Copper, Barrick Gold, Kinder Morgan, and TriMetals Mining have operations in Canada, Latin America and elsewhere. They are continuing the ethnic cleansing of the “native question” in Latin America, and at home. (See map and statistics of Canadian Mining in Latin America.)
Canadian mining and natural resource companies are heavy handed when it comes to First Nations at home. TransCanada Corporation recently was in the news because of its pipeline route, which they are trying to put through First Nation’s land in the Wet’suwet’en territory, in northern British Columbia. On a court order, a militarized unit of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police broke up a road blockade, which the tribal leaders had put up to keep the pipeline company out of their nation. The Mounties whom lacked jurisdiction arrested 14 tribal leaders on their sovereign land.
During the reign of the British Empire, Canada helped the British put down slave rebellions in the Caribbean. Canada was involved in the slave trade, and slavery was legal in Canada until 1834. The products of slavery, such as cotton and sugar were used for trade and to industrialize Canada. When the British conquered New France, the 1760 declaration of surrender signed in Montreal specifically said:
“The Negroes and panis [aborigines] of both sexes shall remain, in their quality of slaves, in the possession of the French and Canadians to whom they belong; they shall be at liberty to keep them in their service in the colony, or to sell them; and they may also continue to bring them up in the Roman Religion.”
In the 19th century Canadian banking and insurance companies, along with those of the British, monopolized finance in British controlled parts of Latin America. Canada is still financially powerful in the English-speaking Caribbean. For example, the Bank of Nova Scotia, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, and the Royal Bank of Canada, as well as Sun Life Financial are dominate in the Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Turks and Caicos, and Trinidad. After the decline of the British Empire, Canada assumed its natural role as a second-rate imperial power and junior partner for US imperialism.
In the Lima Group, Canada is the US’s junior partner. The US has the leading role from behind the curtain. To prove it, right on cue at the January 4th meeting of the Lima Group, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pulled the curtain back in a video presentation to the group. Pompeo showed the members who they would have to answer to if they did not vote according to Washington’s wishes. The Lima group obeyed, and voted to politically isolate and economically blockade Venezuela, contrary to international law. Leaving nothing to chance, Pompeo again addressed the group from behind the video curtain at their February 4th meeting in Ottawa.
As Christopher Black wrote in New Eastern Outlook:
“The United States is the principal actor in all this but it has beside it among other flunkey nations, perhaps the worst of them all, Canada, which has been an enthusiastic partner in crime of the United States since the end of the Second World War. We cannot forget its role in the aggression against North Korea, the Soviet Union, China, its secret role in the American aggression against Vietnam, against Iraq, Rwanda, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Syria, Ukraine, Haiti, Iran, and the past several years Venezuela.”
Black left out many other imperial crimes of the partners in Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Somalia, Sudan, the Congo, Palestine, Libya, Yemen, etc. The US and Canada are “always there for each other” and stand “shoulder to shoulder” in war and imperialism, in Justin Trudeau’s own words. Even against Cuba!
The current Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland recently referred to Venezuela as being in “Canada’s backyard”. As the SNC-Lavalin case illustrates, the Canadian “backyard” of imperialism also extends to Africa, Asia, the Middle East and former Soviet Union republics, such as Ukraine.
This is not the 19th century. Central America, South America and the Caribbean Islands are not anybody’s back yard. It is insulting, degrading and shows a colonial mentality for the US and Canada to even think about having a backyard.
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This article was originally published on The Greanville Post.
David William Pear is a columnist writing on U.S. foreign policy, economic and political issues, human rights and social issues. David is a Senior Contributing Editor of The Greanville Post (TGP) and a prior Senior Editor for OpEdNews (OEN). David has been writing for The Real News Network (TRNN) and other publications for over 10 years. David is a member of Veterans for Peace, Saint Pete (Florida) for Peace, CodePink, and the Palestinian-led non-violent organization International Solidarity Movement.
Featured image: A Hands Off Venezuela protest in London on January 28, 2018. (Socialist Appeal/Flickr).
As we enter 2019, one thing above all others is clear, the mechanisms of human engagement, education, media and information, even what passes for human contact through social media and email, is all subjected to “algorithms,” whatever those are. It was Snowden that brought it to our attention…
As we enter 2019, one thing above all others is clear, the mechanisms of human engagement, education, media and information, even what passes for human contact through social media and email, is all subjected to “algorithms,” whatever those are.
It was Snowden that brought it to our attention, from the Guardian back in 2014:
“Increasingly, we are watched not by people but by algorithms. Amazon and Netflix track the books we buy and the movies we stream, and suggest other books and movies based on our habits. Google and Facebook watch what we do and what we say, and show us advertisements based on our behavior. Google even modifies our web search results based on our previous behavior. Smartphone navigation apps watch us as we drive, and update suggested route information based on traffic congestion. And the National Security Agency, of course, monitors our phone calls, emails and locations, then uses that information to try to identify terrorists.”
Documents provided by Edward Snowden and revealed by the Guardian today show that the UK spy agency GHCQ, with help from the NSA, has been collecting millions of webcam images from innocent Yahoo users. And that speaks to a key distinction in the age of algorithmic surveillance: is it really okay for a computer to monitor you online, and for that data collection and analysis only to count as a potential privacy invasion when a person sees it? I say it’s not, and the latest Snowden leaks only make more clear how important this distinction is.”
When we look back on 2014 from where we are today, Edward Snowden’s warnings of an Orwellian nightmare seem innocent. Maybe it was Donald Trump that opened our eyes, if so, whatever contribution history attributes to him, he might well want to hang his hat on this one.
The fake science of intruding into lives in order to recognize and control “influencers” began in the private sector and was “tuned up” for political races, crime and terrorism prevention and more.
By “more,” we mean “dumbing down” the “masses,” as they are called, presenting reality as a consumer product, custom engineered to be believable, to create drama or fear, to raise concerns of imaginary threats, to distract, and, above all, to control.
Social scientists have postulated that humans can actually be programmed to respond to the most basic stimuli, touch, hearing, taste, based on “fake” information, that the human mind can be fooled into filtering out such basic sensory responses as smell.
The basic synaptic connections that tie sensory input to ideas or concepts, let’s look at one glaring example. Try to say the word “Palestinian” without following it with “terrorist.”
Then again, let’s go back one more step and define the difference between an “armed militant” and a “freedom fighter.” Nothing here is new, the rules were laid out a century ago.
Einstein predicted this in his “Autobiographical notes” on epistemology. It was some 50 years ago when Dr. John Ward of Michigan State University pounded this into my head in his Philosophy of Science lectures. “The relationship between sense experiences and concepts is entirely intuitive as are the relationships between all concepts. You see what you see, not because of what you see but because of what you think.”
It was quite one thing when such pursuits were endeavors of science and philosophy at our great universities, but it became something quite different when Wilson Bryan Key, back in 1973, wrote the seminal work, Subliminal Seduction, demonstrating how altered images could reach into the most basic primitive drives, the “reptile brain,” as it were, driving an unknowing viewer to alter both perceptions and reasoning, even toward lowering human survivability.
Key’s imagery, taken from popular magazines, strange figures of death’s heads or nude women, airbrushed into ice cubes, were an opening salvo. If thanatotic drive could sell liquor or cigarettes, how easy might it be to sell a war?
No more films like Sergeant York or Red Dawn needed, or perhaps only as a “supporting actor,” pounding the nail in just a bit more.
Twenty years prior to the publication of Key’s work, the US government began a project known as MK Ultra. Though it officially ended in 1973 after 20 years of poorly documented “research” into every form of psychological manipulation, in truth, MK Ultra and other programs as well, simply “went dark.”
The reason, of course, we are traveling his historical path today is that those programs, after not 50 but 65 years of still classified efforts, after billions of dollars in black funding, programs with no oversite, programs carried out on unsuspecting citizens, sometimes entire cities, sometimes on unwilling victims in “black sites,” are the precursors to the world of Google and Facebook today.
Looking at 2018, there were some obvious “projects,” the White Helmet staged fake gas attacks for sure. This involved Facebook posts, fake videos, but the key is that they were channeled directly to the President of the United States who had been programmed to ignore credible intelligence sources. Thus, Trump ordered an attack on Syria entirely based on a Facebook post.
But there are millions of Facebook posts every day. Why did he get this one? Who put it in front of him? Is Trump surrounded by handlers, traitors?
You see, it is one thing when something is put on the internet, the equivalent of leaving a post-it note in a public restroom on the “wrong side of town.” It is quite something else when the message, a parentless bastard of disinformation, is given to a man who has, according to sources within the White House, openly advocated use of tactical nuclear weapons against Syrian people in retribution for wildly fabricated accusations.
Consider the implications, even if someone, perhaps General Mattis, had taken the nuclear option off the table. Simply put, it lowers the standards of the United States exercising war powers in attacking a sovereign nation to an anonymous social media post.
Again, we ask, it is one thing posting something malicious and dangerous and quite something else when a national leader with access to nuclear weapons is programmed to seek out and act upon same.
Then again, were any other president to order a missile strike based on, well, based on nothing whatsoever, not even a decent lie, one might expect negative repercussions.
Let’s take a second to juxtapose. If a fake public narrative exists, and it is reasonable to postulate that “the public,” such as it is, is more than aware that a “real world” exists in which what is generally known and accepted as true is, in fact, utterly false.
In fact, some of the most popular television series of the past decades have exposed the flummery of generally accepted history. Shows like The Secret History of World War II and many if not endless others, feed a hungry public a continual diet of debunked reality.
What we are left with is this, an ongoing process, a spiral as it were, around and down, around and down, ever faster, ever more hopeless, intrusion into lives, into thoughts, planted feelings, manipulated responses, altered perceptions, until nothing can be trusted, especially not ourselves.
Gordon Duff is a Marine combat veteran of the Vietnam War that has worked on veterans and POW issues for decades and consulted with governments challenged by security issues. He’s a senior editor and chairman of the board of Veterans Today, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”