So that’s what the United Statians have been doing instead of taking care of their population. The US has been playing games with its citizenry.
Control, control, control.
Obey, conform, consume.
So that’s what the United Statians have been doing instead of taking care of their population. The US has been playing games with its citizenry.
Control, control, control.
Obey, conform, consume.
Ignorance is the most potent weapon in the vast armoury of the privileged and powerful. The use of force and prisons to oppress citizens and deny them basic human rights is effective but tends to cause a reaction. People physically oppressed feel the pain and often resist and revolt against their oppressors.
But the locks and chains of mental imprisonment through imposed ignorance are invisible and much more effective. For those detained within prisons of ignorance do not even recognise their enslavement. Information is power and those who control the flow of information are very powerful. Keeping the populace ignorant or ensuring they are only partially informed or misinformed is how the rich and powerful maintain control.
The statement above swirled around my brain last week as I struggled to contain my anger and rage at the treatment of Venezuela and her people by Trump’s American gangsters and their hired liars and lickspittles who daily pollute our screens and newsstands with tales designed to misinform, half inform and conceal completely the motives of the mobsters in smart suits and ties who flash smiles and issue soundbites in public but who are responsible for carnage, extreme poverty and premature deaths in private.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo displayed the self-assured shamelessness of the arrogant crook he is by labeling the likes of Jeremy Corbyn and others who dare to support the democratically elected President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, as “disgusting”. He did so a few days ago as he sat appropriately alongside the dishonorable multi-millionaire UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP, so powerful he can flaunt laws and tax bills everyone else is compelled to obey and so rich he forgets to declare the purchase of seven luxury flats:”It is disgusting to see leaders, in not only the United Kingdom, but the United States as well, who continue to support the murderous dictator Maduro. It is not in either of our country’s best interests for those leaders to continue to advocate on their behalf“.
The only thing that is “disgusting” is the dishonest, deceitful display of hypocrisy by Pompeo on behalf of America as they implement a vicious economic war against the people of Venezuela in pursuit of control over their vast oil reserves, the largest reserves on the planet.
Pompeo represents the biggest bully nation in the world. The suggestion they are concerned with the human rights or welfare of the Venezuelan people is an outrageous misrepresentation of reality. The truth of the situation is crystal clear but you will only find it if you look beneath and beyond the cacophony of sneeringly dishonest media coverage that disgracefully disguises itself as news output.
Last week I listened to and watched bulletin after bulletin glowingly report the attempt of US imposed puppet Juan Guido to encourage a violent overthrow of a democratically elected President in Venezuela.Guido was given hours of coverage and acres of newsprint to proclaim the end of the elected Maduro “regime” without a hint of critical context or a sniff of journalistic questioning of the legitimacy of a self-appointed President in preference to one who attracted over 6.2 million votes in a democratic election less than twelve months ago.
Even Jon Snow and Channel 4 News have joined the ranks of the disgraced purveyors of US friendly lies and half-truths. Snow referred to Maduro, the guy re-elected President with over 6.2 million votes in a field of several candidates, as the “failed President”. The display of bias and prejudice against Maduro was sickening and nauseating.
The very same so-called ‘news’ stations like BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky and CNN who promoted and encouraged an illegal, undemocratic and violent overthrow of the Maduro government then had the brass necks to condemn that government’s police and security services for quelling the isolated malcontents who threw missiles and even fired live ammunition at the legitimate police force of Venezuela.
If only they displayed such concern for ‘protesters’ when reporting the shooting of children with flags and placards in the West Bank and Gaza strip by the illegally occupying Israeli Defence Forces?
What is withheld from public view and given no or cursory coverage is the fact that Venezuela has been deliberately targeted by the US for regime change and the economic sanctions imposed have been illegal under international law and deadly to the poor of Venezuela.
Consider the Executive Summary of the devastating Report from the American based Center For Economic And Policy Research (CEPR) published last month:
“This paper looks at some of the most important impacts of the economic sanctions imposed on Venezuela by the US government since August of 2017. It finds that most of the impact of these sanctions has not been on the government but on the civilian population.
The sanctions reduced the public’s caloric intake, increased disease and mortality (for both adults and infants), and displaced millions of Venezuelans who fled the country as a result of the worsening economic depression and hyperinflation. They exacerbated Venezuela’s economic crisis and made it nearly impossible to stabilize the economy, contributing further to excess deaths. All of these impacts disproportionately harmed the poorest and most vulnerable Venezuelans. Even more severe and destructive than the broad economic sanctions of August 2017 were the sanctions imposed by executive order on January 28, 2019 and subsequent executive orders this year; and the recognition of a parallel government, which as shown below, created a whole new set of financial and trade sanctions that are even more constricting than the executive orders themselves.
“We find that the sanctions have inflicted, and increasingly inflict, very serious harm to human life and health, including an estimated more than 40,000 deaths from 2017-2018; and that these sanctions would fit the definition of collective punishment of the civilian population as described in both the Geneva and Hague international conventions, to which the US is a signatory. They are also illegal under international law and treaties which the US has signed, and would appear to violate US law as well”.
This rigorously researched academic report finds the US Government guilty of imposing illegal economic sanctions amounting to a form of collective punishment costing 40,000 Venezuelan lives and the fact is that most if not all readers of this column will be learning of this shocking fact for the first time.
America is guilty of breaching the Geneva and Hague Conventions designed to defend human rights; breaking international laws designed to protect the national sovereignty of nations; and causing the premature deaths of more than 40,000 Venezuelan citizens, and you are only just learning about it?
If this does not enrage you and alert you to how ill-informed we are collectively about the actions, motives and consequences of US actions you are on the side of the oppressors in the world and don’t care about such atrocities.
At the start of February I watched BBC anchor-man Andrew Neil on one of his many BBC provided platforms attack Ken Livingston for suggesting many of Venezuela’s economic problems were caused by US economic sanctions. Neil aggressively challenged Livingston to name any sanctions and suggested the only sanctions that existed were from 2015 under Barack Obama and they were “aimed solely at Venezuelan regime members”.According to Mr BBC, Andrew Neil, there were ‘no economic sanctions by the US against Venezuela which could cause any economic damage’. The exchange is promoted by the ‘Voice of Reason’ website under the headline: ‘Andrew Neil demolishes left wing myth that Venezuela’s demise was caused by America‘.
Andrew Neil and the British Biased Corporation are no strangers to the peddling of biased, misleading and unfounded views and news of course. They do it consistently and professionally. Sometimes they are caught out and reprimanded but often the damage is done in the artificial influencing and manipulation of public opinion.
Two years ago during an interview with former First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, in the run up to the Scottish Parliament elections Mr Neil used out of date data and biased Tory propaganda to suggest primary school children in Scotland were “functionally illiterate”.
It was a woefully inaccurate and politically biased claim. The toothless and inadequate watchdog, Ofcom, has now found the interview to be misleading and inaccurate but a full two years after the broadcast took place. So we know how biased the mainstream media can be and should not be surprised that an academic report so damning of the US economic sanctions and involvement in undermining Venezuela is repressed. However what about the Human Rights Council (HRC) of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly? Would you expect a similar report from such a respected and esteemed body to be ignored?
In September last year a detailed and comprehensive report was submitted to the HRC by the independent expert appointed on behalf of the HRC of the United Nations to examine the economic and democratic situation within both Venezuela and Ecuador. After months of interviews, examination of evidence, visitations across Venezuela and independent evaluation of contributions from all sides of the political divide within Venezuela Alfred de Zayas published his Report.
The methodology he used in compiling his report followed the principle audiatur et altera pars, listen to all sides. He stringently adhered to Article 6 of the Special Procedures Mandate Holders of the HRC which requires mandate holders to establish the facts based on objective, reliable information emanating from relevant credible sources that have been duly cross-checked to the best extent possible.
The outcome was a damning indictment of the US and its illegal use of economic sanctions to engineer a politically desirable objective. The recent academic report referred to above only underlines the accuracy and truth of this report from the HRC Independent Expert. Several direct quotations are appropriate.
In relation to Venezuela’s achievements:
“The Independent Expert noted the eradication of illiteracy, free education from primary school to university, and programs to reduce extreme poverty, provide housing to the homeless and vulnerable, phase out privilege and discrimination, and extend medical care to everyone.”
In connection with the history of US interference in other sovereign nations through economic warfare to cause humanitarian disasters to justify military interventions:
“The Charter of the United Nations rests on the philosophy of multilateralism, a commitment to international cooperation, and the sovereign equality of States. Countries must not be isolated and boycotted, but helped in strengthening their democratic institutions. Over the past sixty years, non-conventional economic wars have been waged against Cuba, Chile, Nicaragua, the Syrian Arab Republic and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in order to make their economies fail, facilitate regime change and impose a neo-liberal socioeconomic model. In order to discredit selected governments, failures in the field of human rights are maximized so as to make violent overthrow more palatable. Human rights are being “weaponized” against rivals. Yet, human rights are the heritage of every human being and should never be instrumentalized as weapons of demonization”.
On the unilateral and illegal economic sanctions imposed and supported by the US, Canada and, shamefully, the EU:
“The effects of sanctions imposed by Presidents Obama and Trump and unilateral measures by Canada and the European Union have directly and indirectly aggravated the shortages in medicines such as insulin and anti-retroviral drugs. To the extent that economic sanctions have caused delays in distribution and thus contributed to many deaths, sanctions contravene the human rights obligations of the countries imposing them. Moreover, sanctions can amount to crimes against humanity under Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. An investigation by that Court would be appropriate, but the geopolitical submissiveness of the Court may prevent this.”
The US, Canada and the EU are guilty of ‘crimes against humanity’ but the Independent Expert doubts the International Criminal Court will investigate because of the identity of the powerful nations who are the perpetrators of the crimes.
Most damning but prophetic of all the words submitted by the Independent Expert in his Report were contained in Paragraph 37. Please read the whole Report but consider, reflect on, share and re-read this essential paragraph:”Modern-day economic sanctions and blockades are comparable with medieval sieges of towns with the intention of forcing them to surrender. Twenty-first century sanctions attempt to bring not just a town, but sovereign countries to their knees. A difference, perhaps, is that twenty-first century sanctions are accompanied by the manipulation of public opinion through “fake news”, aggressive public relations and a pseudo-human rights rhetoric so as to give the impression that a human rights “end” justifies the criminal means. There is not only a horizontal juridical world order governed by the Charter of the United Nations and principles of sovereign equality, but also a vertical world order reflecting the hierarchy of a geopolitical system that links dominant States with the rest of the world according to military and economic power. It is the latter, geopolitical system that generates geopolitical crimes, hitherto in total impunity. It is reported that the United States is currently training foreign lawyers in how to draft legislation to impose further sanctions on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in an effort to asphyxiate Venezuelan State institutions.”
Open your eyes to the reality of US involvement in Venezuela and recognise it as the criminal enterprise that it is. Don’t accept the prison of ignorance built for us by the powerful. Break out and condemn them for their conscious breeches of international law and crimes against humanity.
Hands Off Venezuela. No To Economic Sanctions. Yes To Maduro & Democracy.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.
The Iranians are openly threatening to start firing missiles at Israel if Trump decides to attack Iran. And this threat should not be taken lightly, because Iran has a highly sophisticated ballistic missile arsenal, and Hezbollah has approximately 150,000 missiles pointed directly at Israel right now. If the order is given, the Iranians and their proxy Hezbollah could rain an enormous amount of death and destruction down upon Israel, and of course Israel would hit them back even harder. We are talking about a scenario that could potentially trigger World War 3, and the Iranians apparently believe that the possibility of such an outcome will keep Trump from taking military action against them. The following comes from the Times of Israel…
A senior Iranian official on Sunday dismissed the US military buildup in the region as psychological warfare, saying that the US will not attack for fear of provoking an Iranian assault on Israel.
“The US military forces’ deployment in the Persian Gulf is more of the nature of psychological warfare. They are not ready for a war, specially when Israel is within our range,” Iranian Parliament’s Vice-Speaker Ali Motahhari said on Sunday, according to the FARS news agency.
In addition to its own missiles, Iranian proxies like Hezbollah in Lebanon and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip have hundreds of thousands of rockets aimed at Israel.
Perhaps the Iranians are correct and the U.S. has no intention of starting a war. But we have already seen that the Trump administration has not been afraid to engage in a campaign of “maximum pressure” that has pushed us to the brink of military conflict. In recent days the Trump administration has decided that they will not allow Iran to sell oil to anybody at all, and the crushing sanctions that were imposed on Iran last year have been absolutely devastating for the Iranian economy…
The sweeping unilateral sanctions that Washington re-imposed when it quit the agreement a year ago have dealt a severe blow to the Iranian economy, pushing the value of its currency to record lows, driving away foreign investors and triggering protests.
And for good reason: the plunging value of the rial has affected the prices of imported staples as well as locally produced goods. According to the Statistical Center of Iran, the cost of red meat and poultry has increased by 57% over the past 12 months; milk, cheese and eggs by 37%; and vegetables by 47%.
The Iranians are growing deeply frustrated, and they appear to be convinced that an alliance headed up by the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia would love to see regime change in Iran.
For example, just consider these recent remarks from Iran’s foreign minister…
And as Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said, Tehran is convinced that what he calls “the B Team”—Bolton, Bibi, bin Salman, and bin Zayed, the last three being Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and effective ruler of the United Arab Emirates—are determined to force regime change in Iran. “President Trump says that the pressure will bring Iran to its knees,” said Zarif.
“The other day, Secretary Pompeo was asked if he was planning a coup d’état in Iran. And you know what he said? Any diplomat, even if they’re planning a coup, would deny it! But he said, if I were planning a coup, I wouldn’t tell you. Sometimes people say what’s in the back of their mind,” Zarif added. (The exact quote, according to Axios, came in a speech by Pompeo to an Iranian-American group, in which he said, “Even if we [were], would I be telling you guys about it?”)
And Zarif is probably correct on this point. If the U.S, Israel and Saudi Arabia could snap their fingers and establish a completely new government in Iran, they would almost certainly do it.
But all attempts to encourage an internal revolution have fizzled, and a full-blown war would seem to be unthinkable.
The Iranians have made their military a core priority in recent years, and they have developed weapons systems of immense destructive power. At one time they would have been intimidated by a U.S. carrier group being moved into the Persian Gulf, but those days are long gone. The following comes from Reuters…
“An aircraft carrier that has at least 40 to 50 planes on it and 6,000 forces gathered within it was a serious threat for us in the past but now it is a target and the threats have switched to opportunities,” said Amirali Hajizadeh, head of the Guards’ aerospace division.
“If (the Americans) make a move, we will hit them in the head,” he added, according to ISNA.
And on Friday, Ayatollah Yousef Tabatabai Nejad boldly declared that our ““billion-dollar fleet can be destroyed with one missile”…
The ISNA news agency quoted hardliner Ayatollah Tabatabai-Nejad in the city of Isfahan as saying: “Their billion-dollar fleet can be destroyed with one missile.
“If they attempt any move, they will face dozens of missiles because at that time government officials won’t be in charge to act cautiously, but instead things will be in the hands of our beloved leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.”
Of course, Nejad is exaggerating, but the truth is that our fleet will definitely be sitting ducks in the Persian Gulf. If the Iranians wanted to do so, they could definitely take the entire fleet out.
We are so close to war, and let’s hope that nobody starts getting itchy trigger fingers.
Iran is run by a bunch of nutjobs that believe that war with the U.S. and Israel is inevitable. Meanwhile, war hawks John Bolton and Mike Pompeo are the top foreign policy officials in the Trump administration and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has already shown us what he is capable of doing.
We need someone to step forward and be a voice of reason before we plunge into a nightmarish apocalyptic conflict that we will not be able to escape, and that voice of reason may have to be President Trump himself.
In the end, it will be Trump that makes the final call on any war with Iran, and that decision will have enormous implications for all of us.
About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The Endand Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.
The US government has approved the deployment of a Patriot missile defence battery and another warship to the Middle East amid increasing tensions between the US and Iran.
The USS Arlington, which transports marines, amphibious vehicles, and rotary aircraft, as well as the Patriot missiles, will join the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group, which already passed through Egypt’s Suez Canal on Thursday, and is currently sailing in the Red Sea, according to CNN.
The US says the deployments of military hardware to the region comes in response to “heightened Iranian readiness to conduct offensive operations”.
The Patriot missile system is a defence mechanism against aircraft, drones, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles, and is currently deployed in Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
“The Acting Secretary of Defense has approved the movement of USS Arlington (LPD-24) and a Patriot battery to US Central Command (CENTCOM) as part of the command’s original request for forces from earlier this week,” a Pentagon statement said.
|USS Arlington is an amphibious transport dock carrying hundreds of Marines [Bebeto Matthews/AP]|
|Manufactured by Raytheon, the Patriot is used by the US and several allied nations [File: EPA]|
Earlier in the week, a US air force bomber task force, including B-52 bombers, also arrived at the US airbase Al Udeid in Qatar, US Central Command said.
“The Department of Defense continues to closely monitor the activities of the Iranian regime, their military and proxies. Due to operational security, we will not discuss timelines or location of forces. The United States does not seek conflict with Iran, but we are postured and ready to defend US forces and interests in the region,” the statement added.
|The B-52 is a long-range bomber designed and built by Boeing [File: Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters]|
Iran has dismissed the moves as “psychological warfare” designed to intimidate it.
In an advisory posted on Thursday, the US Maritime Administration (MARAD) said that since early May there had been an increased possibility of Iran or its regional proxies taking action against US and partner interests.
These included, MARAD said, oil production infrastructure, after Tehran threatened to close the vital Strait of Hormuz chokepoint in the Arabian Gulf through which about a fifth of oil consumed globally passes.
“Iran or its proxies could respond by targeting commercial vessels, including oil tankers, or US military vessels in the Red Sea or the Persian Gulf,” MARAD said.
“Reporting indicates heightened Iranian readiness to conduct offensive operations against US forces and interests.”
Tensions between Iran and the US have escalated sharply in recent weeks.
The US unilaterally backed out of a 2015 nuclear pact in May 2018, effectively giving countries worldwide a year to stop buying Iranian oil or face US sanctions, which Washington says are aimed at completely choking off Iranian crude exports.
Washington last month blacklisted Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group.
US officials say they have detected indications that Iran could be preparing a military response.
Speaking on condition of anonymity to Reuters news agency, officials say one of the pieces of intelligence indicated Iran had moved missiles on boats, with giving details of the claim.
One of the officials said the particular missile observed was perhaps capable of launching from a small ship.
The officials also noted growing concerns about the threat from Iran-backed militia in Iraq, which have long avoided any confrontation with US troops under the shared goal of defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, or ISIS).
Rhetoric has grown heated on both sides.
Iranian news agency ISNA quoted Ayatollah Tabatabai-Nejad in the city of Isfahan as saying: “Their billion dollar fleet can be destroyed with one missile.
“If they attempt any move, they will … (face) dozens of missiles because at that time (government) officials won’t be in charge to act cautiously, but instead things will be in the hands of our beloved leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei),” he said on Friday.
Thousands of Iranians took part in marches on Friday to support the government’s decision to reduce limits on its nuclear programme. Iran has threatened to go further if other parties to the 2015 deal – Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia – fail to shield it from US sanctions.
Iranian TV channels showed protesters marching after Friday prayers in Tehran and said similar marches had been held across Iran.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES
“Venezuela is demonstrating to the world that it is a testing ground for new cybernetic, electromagnetic war weapons and a new war strategy, which is not the direct invasion or bombing by missiles, but the bombing of vital public services,” Maduro said, admitting that, with rolling blackouts, the situation in the country remains “serious.”
The objective of this alleged tactic is to destabilize the situation in Venezuela just about enough to provoke internal clashes, the president said. He accused the opposition of engaging in “criminal plans” to take advantage of such a scenario of chaos to assassinate him and other loyal supporters. Maduro also said there are plans by dissidents to “attack military units.”
To confront these dangers, Maduro said he had placed the intelligence and counterintelligence bodies on highest alert. Similarly, the president called on the mobilized 51,000 popular defense units, comprising some 2.1 million volunteers, to help the military deal with potential threats.
America has for years been waging an economic war against Venezuela, including debilitating sanctionswhich have dramatically affected the state’s ability to purchase medicines, and even mundane replacement parts needed in buses, ambulances, etc. Alongside the economic war there has been a steady propaganda war, but in recent months, the propaganda has escalated dramatically, from corporate media to US political figures.
Venezuela is described as “the country pilots are refusing to fly to,” as per a March 18, 2019, AP articleon American Airlines cancelling all flights to Venezuela, containing scary phrases like “safety concerns” and “civil unrest.”
On March 9, American cancelled my Miami-Caracas flight on the basis that there wasn’t enough electricity to land at Caracas airport. Strangely enough, the Copa flight I took the following day after an overnight in Panama had no problem landing, nor did Copa flights on the day of my own cancelled flight, according to Copa staff.
The cancellation of flights to Venezuela then lends legitimacy to the shrill tweets of Marco Rubio, Mike Pence, John Bolton, and the previously unknown non-president, Juan Guaido.
I’ve been in various areas of Caracas since March 10, and I’ve seen none of this “civil unrest” that corporate media are talking about. I’ve walked around Caracas, usually on my own, and haven’t experienced the worry for my safety corporate media is telling Westerners they should suddenly feel more than normal in Venezuela.
In fact, I see little difference from the Venezuela I knew in 2010 when I spent half a year here, except the hyperinflation is absurdly worse and in my absence I missed the years of extreme right-wing opposition supporters street violence – a benign term for the guarimbas which saw opposition supporters burning people alive, among other violence against people and security.
So it strikes me that the decision of American Airlines to stop flying to Venezuela is not about safety and security issues, but is political, in line with increasingly hollow rhetoric about a humanitarian crisis that does not exist, even according to former UN Special Rapporteur, Alfred de Zayas.
I asked Paul Dobson, a journalist who has lived in Venezuela the last 14 years, if anything like this had happened before. Turns out it has, also at a very timely moment.
“At the time of the National Constituent Assembly elections, July 30, 2017, the major airlines – including Air France, United, American, pretty much all of the European airlines – suspended their flights one day before the elections, citing “security reasons.” Most of the services were reopened about four days after the elections, some of them two weeks after the elections.”
So were there ‘security concerns? I asked Paul.
“This was towards the end of street violence (guarimbas) that had been going on for six months in the country. Why didn’t they suspend their activity six months before, two months before? They did it the day before the elections, clearly trying to influence votes and the way that people see their country internationally. There were no extra security concerns that day than any day over the last 6 months. So, there was really no justification for it. And it caused massive problems on the ground, around elections.”
I spent most of afternoon in Petare, one of poorest areas of Caracas & the most sprawling series of barrios in Latin America. Ppl I met there spoke about Imperialist & economic war against them, & how they will continue defending their country. Night & day fr these howling idiots
On February 23, a month after a previously largely-unknown, US-backed man named Juan Guaido claimed he was the president of Venezuela, there was a short-lived period of instability at the Venezuelan border with Colombia, when America insisted on forcing aid trucks into Venezuela.
Aid trucks that burned that day were the result of attacks of masked young men on the Colombian side, and not from the Venezuelan military as western corporate media and Marco Rubio would have you believe. Less-known is that the ‘aid trucks’ contained very odd humanitarian aid, including nails and wire.
Were their fake concerns genuine, the US could have done what Cuba, China, and Russia, among others, have done and send the aid through appropriate channels, like the UN and the Red Cross. America’s attempt to ram trucks through Venezuela’s border has been revealed as the cheap propaganda stunt that it was.
A couple of weeks later, suddenly there was a very timely country-wide power outage for six days, affecting most things in Venezuelan infrastructure and life, a reality that Palestinians in Gaza have been living since at least 2006 when Israel bombed their sole power plant, never since allowing them to import the parts needed to adequately repair it.
When I lived in Gaza, I grew accustomed to outages of 16-22 hours a day, for months on end. Near-daily sustained 18 plus hour power outages continue in Gaza, but that’s not something the regime-change squad were or are outraged about.
Talking with journalists of Mision Verdad, an independent Venezuelan investigative news site, I learned that one of the targets of looting was a mall in Maracaibo, where electronics were the items of choice, not food. Another incident reportedly involved looting beer and soft drinks. Odd behaviour for a starving people in a humanitarian crisis.
When I arrived three days into the outage, aside from darkened buildings, empty streets, and in following days long lines at water dispensaries and ATMs, I saw no instability. Instead, I saw and learned of Venezuelans working together to get through the drastic effects of the power outage.
I learned at the Ministry of Urban Agriculture of how they took vegetables and crops to hospitals and schools during the electricity outage, but also of how urban agriculture has become an act of resistance in a climate of war and fake news. At a circular plot next to a social housing block I saw young men and women working the land, bursts of lettuces, herbs, beetroots, spinach, and peppers, as well as plots still being planted.
One of the commune leaders spoke of raising rabbits as an affordable, and easy to maintain, source of protein.
“We’re trying to achieve self sustainability of this produce, for the community. This is what we’re doing against the economic war,” he said.
Two days ago, visiting the Caracas barrios of Las Brisas, I asked Jaskeherry, head of a colectivo (organized group of people) how the community had managed during the power outage.
During a pro-Venezuela, anti-Imperialist march, I asked Paul Dobson of @venanalysis to speak briefly on corporate media/opposition’s attack on colectivos.
“Colectivo means collective, an expression of the organized community, incl workers, women’s, ecological, pensioners…”
I’ve heard from several different people here that one reason for the lack of chaos is that Venezuelans have already dealt with US-instigated crises, and have learned to remain calm at such times, surely to the dismay of US pot-stirrers who hoped for scenes of chaos, the pretext to US intervention.
I’ve gone into a number of smaller and large supermarkets in the lower middle-class areas of Caracas, and in it’s upper middle-class regions of Chacao and Altimira. There is food, including luxury items, which Venezuela’s poor can’t afford.
And in some stores there are empty shelves. The policies of private companies—including the largest, Polar, whose CEO happens to be an anti-Maduro opposition leader—hoarding goods and creating false shortages is well known. That said, this theme that there is no food is one continually pumped by Western corporate media, along with the “humanitarian crisis” claim.
To help the poorest, the government initiated a food box delivery program known by its acronym, CLAP, wherein organized communities distribute government subsidized food to 6 million of Venezuela’s poorest families.
The system is not perfect, and I’ve heard complaints of boxes being late in reaching some communities. However, I’ve been told—including by a woman I interviewed yesterday who herself works in CLAP distribution—that problems lie in corruption on a local level, individuals in communities not distributing fairly or evenly.
Hotheads like Marco Rubio, and script reading corporate media, try to maintain that President Maduro has little support. But massive rallies of support, and a notable absence of opposition rallies of recent, counter that propaganda.
On March 16, for two hours I walked with Venezuelans at their anti-Imperialist, pro-government march, filming them, speaking with them, hearing person after person insist on their support for their elected president, Maduro.
Many or most of those marching were from Caracas’ poorest communities, the darker skinned, Afro-descendant Venezuelans that are scarcely given a voice by corporate media, almost certainly because they are ardent supporters of the government and Bolivarian revolution.
When I asked about their feelings of corporate media coverage of Venezuela, people told me it wasn’t depicting the reality, “they make it up, it’s all lies, all lies. The only president we recognize is Nicolas Maduro. And we want this man, Juan Guaido, to be arrested immediately”.
A young tax lawyer told me:
“We’re here to support our (Bolivarian) project. We don’t want any war. We want medicine for our people—we don’t want sanctions from any government that prevent us from purchasing medicine. It’s very difficult for us to bring what’s needed for our people.”
Leaving the still crowded demonstration, I went towards Caracas’ eastern districts, hoping to attend one of the three or four opposition actions that a local journalist told me they had been tweeting about. None panned out.
A few days later, I went to Bellas Artes metro, the same scenario transpired, I couldn’t find the opposition protest that I’d heard was planned. Eventually, in front of the National Assembly, I did film between 15-20 well-dressed men and women not doing much other than standing around. Eventually, most passed by security and onto the premises. I didn’t hear them issue, or attempt to issue, any opposition statement, nor was there any violence from or against them.
A mass of government supporters arrived on motorbikes. A nearby man told me that these women and men on bikes had come to preserve the peace. He said that opposition had said they would stage a provocation (his words match what the local journalist told me, based on tweets to that effect from opposition/supporters), and that the pro-government bikers were not going to allow that to happen.
On Avila, the mountain overlooking Caracas, I saw long line of tankers being filled by mountain spring water to be distributed around the city and outside, with a long list of hospitals to be supplied.
The US has been forcibly exerting its foreign influence over Venezuela for years, to the detriment of the Venezuelan people it crocodile-tear purports to care about. Most Western corporate media do not mention the manifold adverse effects of the immoral sanctions imposed on Venezuela.
At the end of January, UN human rights expert Idriss Jazairy denounced the sanctions, clearly noting they are, “aimed at changing the government of Venezuela,” and that, “Coercion, whether military or economic, must never be used to seek a change in government in a sovereign state.”
On top of this, America recently withheld US$5 billion intended for the purchase of medicines and raw materials used in medical production, Venezuelanalysis reported, after already freezing numerous Venezuelan assets, apparently holding them for their groomed puppet would-be president, Juan Guaido.
Unsurprisingly, John Bolton recently again menaced Venezuela, reiterating Trump’s, “all options are on the table,” military intervention threat and as though hallucinating blathered on about foreign influence and Venezuela and keeping the Imperialist Monroe Doctrine alive.
In a meeting with the US Peace Council delegation in mid-March, Venezuela’s Foreign Minister, Jorge Arreaza, spoke of the openly-hostile US leadership.
“When you have such an administration saying almost every single day, ‘all the options are on the table.’ And they say the military option is not discarded, then we have to be prepared for all of the options.
We told Mr.Elliott Abrams, ‘the coup has failed, so now what are you going to do?’ He kind of nodded and said, ‘Well, this is going to be a long term action, then, and we are looking forward to the collapse of your economy.’”
President Maduro, in a meeting with the delegation, told us:
“We do not want foreign military intervention. Venezuelan people are very proud of the national independence. These people surrounding president Trump—John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, Marco Rubio, Elliott Abrams —every single day on Twitter, these guys are tweeting about Venezuela. Not about the US, the American people…they have an obsession with Venezuela, like a fatal obsession with Venezuela. This is extremely dangerous, and we need to denounce it and make it stop.”
Having written extensively about the war propaganda and Imperialist rhetoric around Syria over the past eight years, this obsession is very familiar. As Alfred de Zayas, said in a recent interview:
“If you call Maduro corrupt, people will gradually believe, he must be somewhat corrupt. But nobody reminds you that corruption in Venezuela in the 1980s and 90s – before Chavez, before Maduro – was rampant. The press is focusing only on Maduro, because the name of the game is to topple him.”
We’re seeing Syria (and Libya, Iraq…) all over again. The demonization of the leadership of a country America wants to dominate. The absurd rhetoric steaming daily from corporate owned media, pretty much in chorus. The troll army ready to attack with an energetic vitriol on social media anyone who dares to present a non-Imperialist perspective. And most worrisome, the acts of terrorism intended to hurt the people and incriminate the government.
Sadly, it seems the United States is ready to stoop to the same dirty tactics it and allies used against Syria over the past eight years: backing and collaborating with terrorists to attack the state. Indeed, last night while trying to finish this article, the power cut and remains off in many areas of the country.
Earlier this week, Information and Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez tweeted that the cause of this recent outage was an attack at the Guri Hydro complex, Venezuela’s central hydroelectric power plant and transmission area.
By today, electricity has been restored to Caracas.
Yesterday in Petare, largest barrio in Latin America (& one of poorest in Caracas), I saw not-starving ppl purchasing similar vegs, plus meats, walking like normal ppl, not like a “crisis”.
Media is lying about a humanitarian crisis.
Same media that doesn’t care about Yemen. pic.twitter.com/Rz3e6bp46q
On the hillside of Avila, the mountain overlooking Caracas, I saw at intervals while riding lines of people collecting spring water in jugs since the power outage has affected water distribution. I also saw lines of tankers, being organized by the municipality and with the military, to distribute water around the city and country. A chart listed over twenty hospitals designated to receive water.
The Venezuelan government has accused America of being behind both the March 7 outage and this week’s, stating the former was a combination of cyber, electromagnetic and physical attacks on the power grids (like the alleged secret US plan to do the same to Iran’s grid), and the latter a direct physical attack on the Guri complex, causing a fire at three transformers.
Clearly, the goal of such attacks is to create so much suffering and frustration among the public that there is chaos, and a “needed” US intervention.
The chaos has not happened, the people have refused it.
With permission from
September 20, 2018
The death of Robert Parry earlier this year felt like a farewell to the age of the reporter. Parry was “a trailblazer for independent journalism”, wrote Seymour Hersh, with whom he shared much in common.
Hersh revealed the My Lai massacre in Vietnam and the secret bombing of Cambodia, Parry exposed Iran-Contra, a drugs and gun-running conspiracy that led to the White House. In 2016, they separately produced compelling evidence that the Assad government in Syria had not used chemical weapons. They were not forgiven.
Driven from the “mainstream”, Hersh must publish his work outside the United States. Parry set up his own independent news website Consortium News, where, in a final piece following a stroke, he referred to journalism’s veneration of “approved opinions” while “unapproved evidence is brushed aside or disparaged regardless of its quality.”
Although journalism was always a loose extension of establishment power, something has changed in recent years. Dissent tolerated when I joined a national newspaper in Britain in the 1960s has regressed to a metaphoric underground as liberal capitalism moves towards a form of corporate dictatorship. This is a seismic shift, with journalists policing the new “groupthink”, as Parry called it, dispensing its myths and distractions, pursuing its enemies.
Witness the witch-hunts against refugees and immigrants, the willful abandonment by the “MeToo” zealots of our oldest freedom, presumption of innocence, the anti-Russia racism and anti-Brexit hysteria, the growing anti-China campaign and the suppression of a warning of world war.
With many if not most independent journalists barred or ejected from the “mainstream”, a corner of the Internet has become a vital source of disclosure and evidence-based analysis: true journalism. Sites such as Wikileaks, Consortium News, WSWS.org, Truthdig,, Global Research, CounterPunch and Information Clearinghouse are required reading for those trying to make sense of a world in which science and technology advance wondrously while political and economic life in the fearful “democracies” regress behind a media facade of narcissistic spectacle.
In Britain, just one website offers consistently independent media criticism. This is the remarkable Media Lens — remarkable partly because its founders and editors as well as its only writers, David Edwards and David Cromwell, since 2001 have concentrated their gaze not on the usual suspects, the Tory press, but the paragons of reputable liberal journalism: the BBC, the Guardian, Channel 4 News.
Their method is simple. Meticulous in their research, they are respectful and polite when they ask why a journalist why he or she produced such a one-sided report, or failed to disclose essential facts or promoted discredited myths.
The replies they receive are often defensive, at times abusive; some are hysterical, as if they have pushed back a screen on a protected species.
I would say Media Lens has shattered a silence about corporate journalism. Like Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman in Manufacturing Consent, they represent a Fifth Estate that deconstructs and demystifies the media’s power.
What is especially interesting about them is that neither is a journalist. David Edwards is a former teacher, David Cromwell is an oceanographer. Yet, their understanding of the morality of journalism — a term rarely used; let’s call it true objectivity — is a bracing quality of their online Media Lens dispatches.
I think their work is heroic and I would place a copy of their just published book, Propaganda Blitz, in every journalism school that services the corporate system, as they all do.
The NHS crisis is the product of a political and media construct known as “austerity”, with its deceitful, weasel language of “efficiency savings” (the BBC term for slashing public expenditure) and “hard choices” (the willful destruction of the premises of civilised life in modern Britain).
“Austerity” is an invention. Britain is a rich country with a debt owed by its crooked banks, not its people. The resources that would comfortably fund the National Health Service have been stolen in broad daylight by the few allowed to avoid and evade billions in taxes.
Using a vocabulary of corporate euphemisms, the publicly-funded Health Service is being deliberately run down by free market fanatics, to justify its selling-off . The Labour Party of Jeremy Corbyn may appear to oppose this, but is it? The answer is very likely no. Little of any of this is alluded to in the media, let alone explained.
Edwards and Cromwell have dissected the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, whose innocuous title belies its dire consequences. Unknown to most of the population, the Act ends the legal obligation of British governments to provide universal free health care: the bedrock on which the NHS was set up following the Second World War. Private companies can now insinuate themselves into the NHS, piece by piece.
Where, asks Edwards and Cromwell, was the BBC while this momentous Bill was making its way through Parliament? With a statutory commitment to “providing a breadth of view” and to properly inform the public of “matters of public policy”, the BBC never spelt out the threat posed to one of the nation’s most cherished institutions. A BBC headline said: “Bill which gives power to GPs passes.” This was pure state propaganda.
There is a striking similarity with the BBC’s coverage of Prime Minister Tony Blair’s lawless invasion of Iraq in 2003, which left a million dead and many more dispossessed. A study by the University of Wales, Cardiff, found that the BBC reflected the government line “overwhelmingly” while relegating reports of civilian suffering. A Media Tenor study placed the BBC at the bottom of a league of western broadcasters in the time they gave to opponents of the invasion. The corporation’s much-vaunted “principle” of impartiality was never a consideration.
One of the most telling chapters in Propaganda Blitz describes the smear campaigns mounted by journalists against dissenters, political mavericks and whistleblowers. The Guardian’s campaign against the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is the most disturbing.
Assange, whose epic WikiLeaks disclosures brought fame, journalism prizes and largesse to the Guardian, was abandoned when he was no longer useful. He was then subjected to a vituperative – and cowardly — onslaught of a kind I have rarely known.
With not a penny going to WikiLeaks, a hyped Guardian book led to a lucrative Hollywood movie deal. The book’s authors, Luke Harding and David Leigh, gratuitously described Assange as a “damaged personality” and “callous”. They also disclosed the secret password he had given the paper in confidence, which was designed to protect a digital file containing the US embassy cables.
With Assange now trapped in the Ecuadorean embassy, Harding, standing among the police outside, gloated on his blog that “Scotland Yard may get the last laugh”.
The Guardian columnist Suzanne Moore wrote, “I bet Assange is stuffing himself full of flattened guinea pigs. He really is the most massive turd.”
Moore, who describes herself as a feminist, later complained that, after attacking Assange, she had suffered “vile abuse”. Edwards and Cromwell wrote to her: “That’s a real shame, sorry to hear that. But how would you describe calling someone ‘the most massive turd’? Vile abuse?”
Moore replied that no, she would not, adding, “I would advise you to stop being so bloody patronising.”
Her former Guardian colleague James Ball wrote, “It’s difficult to imagine what Ecuador’s London embassy smells like more than five and a half years after Julian Assange moved in.”
Such slow-witted viciousness appeared in a newspaper described by its editor, Katharine Viner, as “thoughtful and progressive”. What is the root of this vindictiveness? Is it jealousy, a perverse recognition that Assange has achieved more journalistic firsts than his snipers can claim in a lifetime? Is it that he refuses to be “one of us” and shames those who have long sold out the independence of journalism?
Journalism students should study this to understand that the source of “fake news” is not only trollism, or the likes of Fox news, or Donald Trump, but a journalism self-anointed with a false respectability: a liberal journalism that claims to challenge corrupt state power but, in reality, courts and protects it, and colludes with it. The amorality of the years of Tony Blair, whom the Guardian has failed to rehabilitate, is its echo.
“[It is] an age in which people yearn for new ideas and fresh alternatives,” wrote Katharine Viner. Her political writer Jonathan Freedland dismissed the yearning of young people who supported the modest policies of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as “a form of narcissism”.
“How did this man ….,” brayed the Guardian’s Zoe Williams, “get on the ballot in the first place?” A choir of the paper’s precocious windbags joined in, thereafter queuing to fall on their blunt swords when Corbyn came close to winning the 2017 general election in spite of the media.
Complex stories are reported to a cult-like formula of bias, hearsay and omission: Brexit, Venezuela, Russia, Syria. On Syria, only the investigations of a group of independent journalists have countered this, revealing the network of Anglo-American backing of jihadists in Syria, including those related to ISIS.
Supported by a “psyops” campaign funded by the British Foreign Office and the US Agency of International Aid, the aim is to hoodwink the Western public and speed the overthrow the government in Damascus, regardless of the medieval alternative and the risk of war with Russia.
The Syria Campaign, set up by a New York PR agency, Purpose, funds a group known as the White Helmets, who claim falsely to be “Syria Civil Defence” and are seen uncritically on TV news and social media, apparently rescuing the victims of bombing, which they film and edit themselves, though viewers are unlikely to be told this. George Clooney is a fan.
The White Helmets are appendages to the jihadists with whom they share addresses. Their media-smart uniforms and equipment are supplied by their Western paymasters. That their exploits are not questioned by major news organisations is an indication of how deep the influence of state-backed PR now runs in the media. As Robert Fisk noted recently, no “mainstream” reporter reports Syria, from Syria.
In what is known as a hatchet job, a Guardian reporter based in San Francisco, Olivia Solon, who has never visited Syria, was allowed to smear the substantiated investigative work of journalists Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett on the White Helmets as “propagated online by a network of anti-imperialist activists, conspiracy theorists and trolls with the support of the Russian government”.
This abuse was published without permitting a single correction, let alone a right-of-reply. The Guardian Comment page was blocked, as Edwards and Cromwell document. I saw the list of questions Solon sent to Beeley, which reads like a McCarthyite charge sheet — “Have you ever been invited to North Korea?”
So much of the mainstream has descended to this level. Subjectivism is all; slogans and outrage are proof enough. What matters is the “perception”.
When he was US commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus declared what he called “a war of perception… conducted continuously using the news media”. What really mattered was not the facts but the way the story played in the United States. The undeclared enemy was, as always, an informed and critical public at home.
Nothing has changed. In the 1970s, I met Leni Riefenstahl, Hitler’s film-maker, whose propaganda mesmerised the German public.
She told me the “messages” of her films were dependent not on “orders from above”, but on the “submissive void” of an uninformed public.
“Did that include the liberal, educated bourgeoisie?” I asked.
“Everyone,” she said. “Propaganda always wins, if you allow it.”