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Is NATO going to start World War III based on this?!  

Michael R. Gordan, who co-wrote, U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts, with Judith Miller, on September 8, 2002 for the New York Times, is still at it, co-writing, Ukraine Leader Says ‘Huge Loads of Arms’ Pour in From Russia, with Neil MacFarQuhar for the New York Times, August 28, 2014.

Ukrainian aerial bombing has killed over 2,000 ethnic Russian civilians, including children, which makes it a humanitarian crisis similar to Gaza.  Not only is the US ignoring the slaughter, but American hubris engineered the coup, ousting a democratically elected Ukrainian president in the first place, which led to this predictable bloodbath.

The article neglects to report how more than half a million ethnic Russians have fled their homes in East Ukraine, many of whom have received shelter in Russia.  This is what makes it so different from Iraq, which was not exactly our next door neighbor hemorrhaging refugees across our border.  

Another fact that escapes this particular New York Times article is that Ukrainian brown shirts, who believe in ethnically cleansing Ukraine of anyone who isn't purely Christian Ukrainian, are fighting ethnic Russians in East Ukraine.  The New York Times has mentioned this "inconvenient truth" almost "in passing":

“Officials in Kiev say the militias and the army coordinate their actions, but the militias, which count about 7,000 fighters, are angry and, at times, uncontrollable. One known as Azov, which took over the village of Marinka, flies a neo-Nazi symbol resembling a Swastika as its flag."

“In pressing their advance, the fighters took their orders from a local army commander, rather than from Kiev. In the video of the attack, no restraint was evident. Gesturing toward a suspected pro-Russian position, one soldier screamed, ‘The bastards are right there!’ Then he opened fire.”

Emphasis mine.  These Ukrainian brown shirts the US supports fly a neo-Nazi symbol resembling a Swastika as its flag!  Hello?  

Tucked into Michael R. Gordon's latest spin is this nugget:

...Mr. Putin, whose popularity in Russia soared when he annexed Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula last March.
Ahem, Crimea voted for independence, remember?

Fair and balanced?  Uh, no.

Once again, the US does not have the moral high ground here, and once again, the MSM hacks are treating us like a bunch of forgetful nincompoops who don't remember how often they have misled us into needless wars in the not so distant past.

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What would US do if Russia meddled in Mexico, engineering a coup that put in a puppet government whose military contained neo Nazis & aerially bombed civilians just south of our border, killing over 2,000 and sending half a milion refugees to Texas?

29%5 votes
35%6 votes
35%6 votes

| 17 votes | Vote | Results

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How the War on Terror Created the World’s Most Powerful Terror Group by Patrick Cockburn, The Nation, August 21, 2014.

Iraqi officials confirm that they have captured sophisticated arms from ISIS fighters in Iraq that were originally supplied by outside powers to forces considered to be anti–Al Qaeda in Syria.
Oops!
The falsity of the pretense that the anti-Gaddafi jihadis in Libya were less threatening than those in direct contact with Al Qaeda was forcefully, if tragically, exposed when US ambassador Chris Stevens was killed by jihadi fighters in Benghazi in September 2012. These were the same fighters lauded by Western governments and media for their role in the anti-Gaddafi uprising.
ISIS (Al Qaeda on steroids) was jihading like nobody's business in Syria, fighting Assad, but now that the "rebels" are coming to roost in Iraq, committing the exact same atrocities, cannibalizing and cutting people's heads off, it looks like last year's bomb, bomb, bomb Damascus crowd may get their war in Syria after all.  The MIT study scientifically questioning their first casus belli Assad gassed his own people be damned.  The warmongers have found a new pretense: ISIS, a group they cheered on while marauding Syria a year ago.  The new casus belli, the murder video of a kneeling American journalist, James Foley, by an ISIS terrorist with a London accent, whose identity is completely hidden under a black shroud, has also come under scrutiny by forensics experts as having "been staged."

Attempting regime change in Syria fed the ISIS beast, just as regime change in Iraq and Libya did.  Our Republican old guard told us that Saddam was riding shot gun with bin Laden on 9/11 and that Al Qaeda was running rampant in Iraq, but that intel turned out to be nothing but crumby yellow cake with mushroom cloud frosting.  Saddam, as bad as he was, was actually keeping Al Qaeda at bay with his Republican Guard, which was decimated during Iraq War 1, a war based in part on a PR stunt involving babies removed from incubators, which did not happen & Iraq War 2, which was based in part on WMDs that did not exist.

As bad as Assad may be, his army was keeping Al Qaeda/ISIS/ISIL/IS out of Syria, and his country was a secular nation, just as Iraq had been under Saddam.  Fighting Assad, strengthened the Jihadis and gave them the oomph to threaten Iraq.

Saddam, Gaddafi, and Assad did not attack us on 9/11.  The enemy of these 3 were responsible, and they are certainly not our friends!

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I don't know her, but I love her, too, and as a peace activist since the Viet Nam War, I absolutely love her sign!  I cannot believe how our nation continues to "shoot first, ask questions later" both here and abroad, over and over again.

She is absolutely awesome!!!  I love her T, "I [heart] world peace!"

This caring, intelligent, and beautiful young woman is what gives me hope.

France Francois was concerned her sign may be perceived as "rage," but she held it up anyway because she had a right to feel angry.  Ms. Francois held the sign at last week's National Moment Of Silence in DC.

"I'm glad it sparked some conversation because I think, throughout the nation, we're all asking ourselves this question," she said. 'How did we come here again? How did we find ourselves in this very same space?'"

Francois said the sentiment behind the sign is rooted to her days as a student at Florida State University when she protested the death of Martin Lee Anderson, a 14-year-old boy who died after being beaten by boot camp personnel. After months of silence from authorties over his death, Francois, along with other students from Tallahassee Community College, Florida A&M University and Florida State University staged a 34-hour sit-in at then- governor Jeb Bush's office, in Tallahassee, Fla.

Ms. Francois is protesting to protect her male family members and the sons she may mother some day.

It's time to erect a memorial in our nation's capital with the names of all the AA men who have fallen.  

The war against them must come to an end now.  

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Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 10:53 AM PDT

I Feel I'm Not Pretty Anymore

by CIndyCasella


I am Dalia Khalifa, 8 years old
I was hit , when israel pounds my house in the northern Gaza... there are dangerous injuries all over my body..
and I fell I'm not pretty anymore !
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The New York Times published "Photos Link Masked Men in East Ukraine to Russia" by Andrew Higgins, Michael R. Gordon and Andrew E. Kramer prominently on page A1, April 20, 2014.  

The New York Times reported the Obama administration "endorsed" the photographs as proof that Russian troops invaded eastern Ukraine:

Now, photographs and descriptions from eastern Ukraine endorsed by the Obama administration on Sunday suggest that many of the green men are indeed Russian military and intelligence forces — equipped in the same fashion as Russian special operations troops involved in annexing the Crimea region in February. Some of the men photographed in Ukraine have been identified in other photos clearly taken among Russian troops in other settings.
A set of four blurry photographs of bearded soldiers, one of whom bears an uncanny resemblance to ZZ Top, had this caption alleging these photos are evidence that soldiers in Eastern Ukraine are members of Russian special forces:
Soldiers in a group photo of a reconnaissance unit, which was taken in Russia, were later photographed operating in towns in eastern Ukraine.
Only trouble is that the group photo was not taken in Russia, but
was actually shot in the Ukrainian town of Slovyansk, according to Maxim Dondyuk, the freelance photographer who took the picture and posted it on his Instagram account.
NYT Retracts Russian-Photo Scoop by Robert Parry, Consortium News, April 23, 2014.

Robert Parry calls out the NY Times for burying their retraction on page A9 and for not vetting this story before printing it on the front page.  

In the old days of journalism, we used to apply the scrutiny before we published a story on the front page or on any other page, especially if it had implications toward war or peace, whether people would live or die. However, in this case – fitting with the anti-Russian bias that has pervaded the mainstream U.S. press corps – the scrutiny was set aside long enough for this powerful propaganda theme to be put in play and to sweep across the media landscape.
Alexander Mozhaev, who bears an uncanny resemblance to an Emerald City guard in the "Wizard of Oz" and appears in several of the photographs alleging he is a Russian soldier, insists he is not in the Time magazine article, Time Magazine Exclusive: Meet the Pro-Russian Separatists of Eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine has alleged that Russian forces are operating in the east. But one man tells TIME that they do not work for the Russian government.
Their leader, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, a soap manufacturer who took the title of “people’s mayor” after seizing power, has pleaded for assistance from Russian President Vladimir Putin, but has apparently been ignored. “We need guns, you understand? We’re running out of everything but spirit,” he tells TIME. His militia force, he admits, is made up partly of volunteers who have come from Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and other parts of the former Soviet Union. But Kiev’s cries of a separatist insurgency fueled with money, weapons and troops from the Russian government look out of sync with the reality in Slavyansk.

No one embodies that disconnect quite like Mozhaev. In trying to link him to Russia’s GRU special forces, the government in Kiev has offered two blurry photos as evidence. One of them, allegedly taken during the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008, shows a bearded man wearing the GRU insignia — a black bat with its wings spanning the globe — on the shoulder of his uniform. The second photo, taken this year in eastern Ukraine, shows Mozhaev dressed in camouflage among his fellow separatists. Kiev says the two photos are of the same man. Mozhaev finds that slightly flattering but altogether false.

The circumstances behind the Ukraine coup and subsequent after shocks are as unclear as the photos hastily published in the New York Times with incorrect captions, and I would hope the New York Times and MSM would be more careful vetting their stories, especially after the infamous Judith Miller WMD debacle that helped launch the Iraq War.   Looking at a timeline of how the democratically elected President of Ukraine was removed and how Victoria Nuland was discussing who would replace him and fill his cabinet a month before the coup, one of whom actually called a Nazi a hero and is a member of Svoboda, a party that wants one's ethnicity to be printed on one's passport, puts the less then in depth news coverage on the bizarre anti-semitic fliers and the sketchy photograph of an alleged masked Russian soldier saluting like a Nazi in perspective.  There's nary a follow up article explaining that the signature on the anti-semitic fliers was forged, and the program that requires Jews to register doesn't exist.  After putting Oleh Tyahnybok in the Ukraine cabinet, it's beyond hypocritical to paint pro Russians as anti-semitic with fake fliers and misleading photographs.

US troops land in Latvia amid Ukraine crisis

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Members of Svoboda barged their way into the offices of Aleksandr Panteleymonov, the acting president of the National Television Company of Ukraine on Tuesday night.
The Ukraine state TV's head was physically forced to resign by three Svoboda party MPs.  The pony-tailed man is Igor Miroshnichenko, the deputy head of the "Freedom of Speech" committee in Ukraine.  They called the TV station chief "Moscow trash," a derogatory term for Russians, and were angry the Ukrainian station ran footage of Putin explaining that the Russian Parliament signed a treaty with Crimea.

On January 28, 2014, a month before the coup ousting the democratically elected Ukraine president, a phone call between Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, was intercepted.  A little after 3 minutes into the conversation, Nuland uttered the undiplomatic phrase, "F--- the EU," and more importantly, a little after 1 minute, Nuland told Pyatt the names of the people she wanted governing Ukraine following the coup that hadn't happened yet.  One of her picks was Oleh Tyahnybok, a man who revered a Nazi war criminal as a hero and has used anti-semitic hate speech in his quest to keep Ukraine for ethnically pure Ukrainians.

One of the “Big Three” political parties behind the protests is the ultra-nationalist Svoboda, whose leader, Oleh Tyahnybok, has called for the liberation of his country from the “Muscovite-Jewish mafia.”
After the 2010 conviction of the Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk for his supporting role in the death of nearly 30,000 people at the Sobibor camp, Tyahnybok rushed to Germany to declare him a hero who was “fighting for truth.”
However, in 2004 leader Oleh Tyahnybok gave a speech attacking what he called "the Moscow-Jewish mafia ruling Ukraine" and in another speech declared: "the Moskali, Germans, Kikes and other scum who wanted to take away our Ukrainian state."
Nuland sounded more like a MAFIA don planning a hit rather than a well meaning diplomat looking out for the Ukrainian populace when she offered Ukraine a government with Nazi apologists they couldn't refuse via a coup, displacing the government they democratically elected:
I think Yats is the guy who's got the economic experience, the governing experience. He's the... what he needs is Klitsch and Tyahnybok on the outside. He needs to be talking to them four times a week, you know. I just think Klitsch going in... he's going to be at that level working for Yatseniuk, it's just not going to work.

Seeing the government Nuland forged behaving like thugs comes as no surprise.  This is not what democracy looks like.  The Deputy Minister of the "Free Speech" committee coercing a television station chief to resign with his fists says it all.  

Poll

This video is a sterling example of:

13%2 votes
6%1 votes
80%12 votes

| 15 votes | Vote | Results

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December 13, 2013

Victoria Nuland, assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs, addressed the U.S. - Ukraine Foundation on December 13, 2013.  Note the Exxon and Chevron logos flanking both sides of her podium.  A little after 7 minutes into her speech, Nuland informed her audience the US spent over $5 billion supporting the goal of Ukraine joining the E.U..
.

January 28, 2014

A little after 3 minutes into this intercepted phone call between Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, Nuland said, "F--- the EU," and more importantly, a little after 1 minute, Nuland told Pyatt the names of the people she wanted governing Ukraine nearly a month before the democratically elected Ukraine president had been ousted.  One of her picks is a Neonazi:

I think Yats is the guy who's got the economic experience, the governing experience. He's the... what he needs is Klitsch and Tyahnybok on the outside. He needs to be talking to them four times a week, you know. I just think Klitsch going in... he's going to be at that level working for Yatseniuk, it's just not going to work.
Nuland championing Oleh Tyahnybok, a neonazi, to be part of the cabinet says it all.
in 2004 leader Oleh Tyahnybok gave a speech attacking what he called "the Moscow-Jewish mafia ruling Ukraine" and in another speech declared: "the Moskali, Germans, Kikes and other scum who wanted to take away our Ukrainian state."
Nuland's conversation puts US support of Ukraine protests into perspective.  Clearly US meddling is not out of respect for the EU ("F_ck the EU"), democracy (the democratically elected President had to flee for his life), or for the fair treatment of the people of Ukraine (got Neonazis?), but for regime change to a motley crew who will tow their line or else.

Chevron is interested in fracking the Ukraine.

The [Chevron] effort is likely to include hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, of the shale rock to see if oil and gas can be produced in commercially viable amounts. Because of the risks that environmentalists say fracking poses to groundwater and geological stability, it is out of favor in much of Europe.
Frack the EU, indeed.

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Is the U.S. Backing Neo-Nazis in Ukraine? Exposing troubling ties in the U.S. to overt Nazi and fascist protesters in Ukraine. by Max Blumenthal, February 24, 2014, Alter Net.

A man attempts to drape a white supremacist banner on a pillar adjacent to a wall that sports a confederate flag in the Kiev City Hall.

White supremacist and Nazi SS graffiti over a toppled Lenin statue.

A statue commemorating Ukrainians overthrowing the Nazis during World War II is removed.

Blumenthal reports that in Maidan Square, some people now openly greet one another with Sieg heil salutes, and one sees the Nazi Wolfsangel symbol more and more.  When anti-fascist anarchists attempted to protest, skin heads threatened them with violence and called them Communists, blacks, and jews.

One of the “Big Three” political parties behind the protests is the ultra-nationalist Svoboda, whose leader, Oleh Tyahnybok, has called for the liberation of his country from the “Muscovite-Jewish mafia.” After the 2010 conviction of the Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk for his supporting role in the death of nearly 30,000 people at the Sobibor camp, Tyahnybok rushed to Germany to declare him a hero who was “fighting for truth.” In the Ukrainian parliament, where Svoboda holds an unprecedented 37 seats, Tyahnybok’s deputy Yuriy Mykhalchyshyn is fond of quoting Joseph Goebbels – he has even founded a think tank originally called “the Joseph Goebbels Political Research Center.”
REUTERS/Andrew Kravchenko/Pool
Ukrainian opposition leaders Oleh Tyahnybok (L), Vitaly Klitschko (2nd R, back) and Arseny Yatsenyuk (R) pose for a picture with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland during a meeting in Kiev February 6, 2014.

In addition to distributing cookies to protesters in Kiev's Maidan Square and dropping the F bomb in reference to the EU, Obama's Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland, former deputy foreign policy adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney and wife of Neocon Robert Kagan, co-founder of the Project for a New American Century, a think tank which called for regime change in Iraq, called for Arseniy Yatsenyuk to head the Ukraine, along with Klitsch and Tyahnybok, following the ouster of the democratically elected President Viktor F. Yanukovych:

I think Yats is the guy who's got the economic experience, the governing experience. He's the... what he needs is Klitsch and Tyahnybok on the outside. He needs to be talking to them four times a week, you know. I just think Klitsch going in... he's going to be at that level working for Yatseniuk, it's just not going to work.
during her tapped and subsequently youtubed telephone conversation with US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, on January 28, 2014.

Victoria Nuland: Leaked call shows US hand on Ukraine

As Mark Mardell of the BBC points out:

Swearing scornfully about your allies isn't great diplomacy - but it is the revelation of the depth of the US involvement in the Ukraine crisis that really catches the eye.
Ms Nuland could instead plot with the ambassador on who should and shouldn't be in a new Ukrainian cabinet.

After all the NSA revelations, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel's umbrage at them, saying a naughty word about the main players in the region is excruciatingly awkward.

But it's the larger conversation, which shows the US is manipulating Ukraine just as much as Russia, that is the real diplomatic disaster.

John McCain met with Oleh Tyahnybok and Arseniy Yatsenyuk on December 14, 2013.


in 2004 leader Oleh Tyahnybok gave a speech attacking what he called "the Moscow-Jewish mafia ruling Ukraine" and in another speech declared: "the Moskali, Germans, Kikes and other scum who wanted to take away our Ukrainian state."

Despite the controversy his statements attracted in the West, Tyahnybok was voted Person of the Year by readers of Ukrainian news magazine Korrespondent last year.

In another outburst from the party their deputy chief, Ihor Miroshnychenko, wrote an anti-Semitic attack on Mila Kunis on Facebook: "Kunis is not Ukrainian, she is a Yid. She is proud of it, so Star of David be with her."

John McCain Went To Ukraine And Stood On Stage With A Man Accused Of Being An Anti-Semitic Neo-Nazi by Adam Taylor, Business Insider,  Dec. 16, 2013.   
Svoboda [which means "freedom"] openly calls for Ukrainian citizens to have their ethnicity printed onto their passports.
Soon after the coup, the interim government that took control outlawed the Russian language in Ukraine, which makes it difficult for Crimea, once a part of Russia, whose sovereignty switched to the Ukraine under Nikita Khrushchev, an ethnic Ukranian, and where 97% of the people speak Russian.
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Spying on Activists: New Document Shows Army Targeted Olympia Anarchists, War Protesters Wednesday, 26 February 2014 By Mike Ludwig, Truthout | Report.

An army criminal intelligence infiltrator wrote "domestic terrorist" dossiers on two members of "Students for a Democratic Society" he befriended and gave this information to the FBI and police.  

At the time, Towery worked as a civilian "criminal information" analyst for the Force Protection Division at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma. After attending the domestic terrorism conference in Tacoma, Towery sent an e-mail to police officials and an FBI agent suggesting that they develop a "leftist / anarchist mini-group for intel sharing and distro." Towery offered to share "zines," "pamphlets" and online material that he used "on a regular basis" but warned that the material should not be distributed outside the group because that "might tip off groups that we are studying their techniques, tactics and procedures."
Towery claims what he did was voluntary, but
An email released last year shows that Towery's Army superiors approved overtime pay for Towery after he attended a weekend meeting with activists at Evergreen State College.
Homeland Security: The Occupy Files Wednesday, 21 March 2012 14:39 By Staff, Truthout | Special Project reported that Dubya era spying on peace activists as domestic terrorists continued under Obama.  [Ironically, in the midst of all of this domestic surveillance on peace activists and Occupy members, the FBI neglected to continue monitoring the suspects of the Boston Bombing, even after the Russians repeatedly asked US intelligence agencies to report back to them on Tsarnaev.]

Despite the Obama administration's attempts to dismiss the lawsuit against Towery, et al, a June trial has been ordered by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, because of "plausible" 1st & 4th amendment rights violations.

Inside the Army Spy Ring and Attempted Entrapment of Peace Activists, Iraq Vets, Anarchists Thursday, 27 February 2014 11:00 By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now! | Video Report

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There is more to the protests in Venezuela than the corporate/$$$/special interest PR machine talking points.  Ms. Golinger explains that the anti-Maduro protesters do not represent the working class, but the ruling elite, and some are wearing masks, throwing molotov cocktails and rocks at police, destroying public buildings/vehicles and setting fires to attract international intervention and achieve regime change from a democratically elected president, Nicolás Maduro.  [I think we all can imagine what would happen to OWS protesters if they rioted half so much, because police pepper sprayed and tasered them simply for peacefully assembling and exercising their freedom of speech, which supposedly is guaranteed by the 1st Amendment.]

In other words, what is happening in Venezuela is equivalent to our electing a president who followed in the footsteps of a predecessor who managed to give us real change by restoring the middle class, giving us free national health care and education through college, and the 1% got angry and protested in the streets, some of whom rioted, attracting an imperialistic super power to possibly invade us who had been lusting after our oil, that is, if we had the largest reserve of heavy crude in the world [the stuff the XML pipeline would transport from Canada]. What they do not show on our teevee are the protests in favor of the Chavistas, which are actually larger than the anti-Chavista protests.  Ironically, the anti-Chavistas have increased in numbers over the years, because the poor have been getting richer due to graduating from college and enjoying free health care, joining the middle and upper-middle classes.

Eva Golinger gave me permission to post her essay explaining the history and context of the Venezuela uprising, a reality check from a real Venezuelan-American.

Venezuela Beyond the Protests: The Revolution is Here to Stay by Eva Golinger, February 20, 2014.

For those of you unfamiliar with Venezuelan issues, don’t let the title of this article fool you. The revolution referred to is not what most media outlets are showing taking place today in Caracas, with protestors calling for the ouster of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The revolution that is here to stay is the Bolivarian Revolution, which began in 1998 when Hugo Chavez was first elected president and has subsequently transformed the mega oil producing nation into a socially-focused, progressive country with a grassroots government. Demonstrations taking place over the past few days in Venezuela are attempts to undermine and destroy that transformation in order to return power to the hands of the elite who ruled the nation previously for over 40 years.  

Those protesting do not represent Venezuela’s vast working class majority that struggled to overcome the oppressive exclusion they were subjected to during administrations before Chavez. The youth taking to the streets today in Caracas and other cities throughout the country, hiding their faces behind masks and balaclavas, destroying public buildings, vehicles, burning garbage, violently blocking transit and throwing rocks and molotov cocktails at security forces are being driven by extremist right-wing interests from Venezuela’s wealthiest sector. Led by hardline neoconservatives, Leopoldo Lopez, Henrique Capriles and Maria Corina Machado – who come from three of the wealthiest families in Venezuela, the 1% of the 1% - the protesters seek not to revindicate their basic fundamental rights, or gain access to free healthcare or education, all of which are guaranteed by the state, thanks to Chavez, but rather are attempting to spiral the country into a state of ungovernability that would justify an international intervention leading to regime change.

Before Chavez was elected in 1998, Venezuela was in a very dark, difficult period with a dangerously eroded democracy. During the early 1990s, poverty swelled at around 80%, the economy was in a sinkhole, the nation’s vast middle class was disappearing with millions falling into economic dispair, constitutional rights were suspended, a national curfew was imposed and corruption was rampant. Those who protested the actions of the government were brutally repressed and often killed. In fact, during the period of so-called “representative democracy” in Venezuela from 1958-1998, before the nation’s transformation into a participatory democracy under Chavez, thousands of Venezuelans were disappeared, tortured, persecuted and assassinated by state security forces. None of their rights were guaranteed and no one, except the majority excluded poor, seemed to care. International Human Rights organizations showed little interest in Venezuela during that time, despite clear and systematic violations taking place against the people.

Those in power during that period, also referred to in Venezuela as the “Fourth Republic”, represented an elite minority – families that held the nation’s wealth and profited heavily from the lucrative oil reserves. Millions of dollars from oil profits belonging to the state (oil was nationalized in Venezuela in 1976) were embezzled out of the country into the bloated bank accounts of wealthy Venezuelans and corrupt public officials who had homes in Miami, New York and the Dominican Republic and lived the high life off the backs of an impoverished majority.

Hugo Chavez’s electoral victory in 1998 shattered the opulent banquet the Venezuelan elite had enjoyed for decades, while they ran the country into the ground. He was elected precisely to break the hold on power those groups had harnessed for so many years, and Chavez’s promise was revolution – complete transformation of the economic, social and political system in the country. His electoral victories were solid, year after year, each time rising in popularity as more and more Venezuelans became motivated to participate in their governance and the construction of a new, inclusive, nation with social justice as its banner.

Chavez’s election was a huge blow to Washington and the powerful interests in the United States that wanted control over Venezuela’s oil reserves – the largest on the planet. In April 2002, the Bush administration backed a coup d’etat to overthrow Chavez, led by the very same elite that had been in power before. The coup involved mass marches in the streets of Caracas, composed of the wealthy and middle classes, calling for Chavez’s ouster. Snipers were used to shoot on those in the marches, creating violence and chaos that was immediately blamed on Chavez. Television, radio and newspapers in Venezuela all joined in the coup efforts, manipulating images and distorting facts to justify Chavez’s overthrow. He became the villian, the evil dictator, the brutal murderer in the eyes of international media, though in reality those overthrowing him and their backers in Washington were responsible for the death and destruction caused. After Chavez was kidnapped on April 11, 2002 and set to be assassinated, the wealthy businessmen behind the coup took power and imposed a dictatorship. All democratic institutions were dissolved, including the legistature and the supreme court.

The majority who had voted for Chavez and had finally become protagonists in their own governance were determined to defend their democracy and took to the streets demanding return of their president. Forty-eight hours later, Chavez was rescued by millions of supporters and loyal armed forces. The coup was defeated and the revolution survived, but the threats continued.

A subsequent economic sabotage attemped to bring down the oil industry. 18,000 high level technical and managerial workers at the state-owned company, PDVSA, walked off the job, sabotaging equipment and causing nearly $20 billion in damages to the Venezuelan economy. After 64 days of strikes, barren supermarket shelves due to intentional hoarding to create panic, and a brutal media war in which every private station broadcast opposition propaganda 24/7, Venezuelans were fed up with the opposition. Chavez’s popularity soared. A year and a half later, when the opposition tried to oust him through a recall referendum, he won a 60-40 landslide victory.

Leading efforts to overthrow Chavez were the very same three who today call for their supporters to take to the streets to force current President Nicolas Maduro from power. Leopoldo Lopez and Henrique Capriles were both mayors of two of Caracas’ wealthiest municipalities during the 2002 coup – Chacao and Baruta, while Maria Corina Machado was a close ally of Pedro Carmona, the wealthy businessman who proclaimed himself dictator during Chavez’s brief ouster. Lopez and Machado signed the infamous “Carmona Decree” dissolving Venezuela’s democratic institutions, trashing the constitution. Both Capriles and Lopez were also responsible for persecuting and violently detaining members of Chavez’s government during the coup, including allowing some of them to be publicly beaten, such as Ramon Rodriguez Chacin, former Minister of Interior in 2002.

All three have been major recipients of US funding and political support for their endeavors to overthrow Chavez, and now Maduro. The US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and its offshoots, the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) provided start-up funds for Machado’s NGO Sumate, and Capriles’ and Lopez’s right-wing party Primero Justicia. When Lopez split from Primero Justicia in 2010 to form his own party, Voluntad Popular, it was bankrolled by US dollars.

Over the ten year period, from 2000-2010, US agencies, including the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and its Office for Transition Initiatives (OTI), set up in Caracas in 2002, channeled more than $100 million dollars to opposition groups in Venezuela. The overall objective was regime change.

When Chavez was reelected in 2006 with an even larger margen of victory, nearly 64% of the vote, the US shifted its support from the traditional opposition political parties and NGOs in order to create new ones with youthful, fresh faces. Over one third of US funding, nearly $15 million annually by 2007, was directed towards youth and student groups, including training in the use of social networks to mobilize political activism. Student leaders were sent to the US for workshops and conferences on Internet activism and media networking. They were formed in tactics to promote regime change via street riots and strategic use of media to portray the government as repressive.

In 2007, these student groups, funded and trained by US agencies, took to the streets of Caracas to demand Chavez’s ouster after the government chose not to renew the public concession of RCTV, a popular private television station known for its seedy soap operas. The protests were composed of mainly middle and upper class youth and opposition politicians, defending corporate media and a station also known for its direct involvement in the April 2002 coup. Though their protests failed to achieve their objective, the “students” had earned their credentials as a solid fixture in the opposition. Later that year, their organizing helped to narrowly defeat a constitutional reform package Chavez had proposed in a national referendum.

After President Chavez passed away in March 2013 following a brutal battle with cancer, the opposition saw an opportunity to snatch power back from his supporters. Elections were held on April 14, 2013 in an extremely tense and volatile environment. Nicolas Maduro, Chavez’s chosen successor, ran against Henrique Capriles, who months earlier in October 2012 had lost the presidential election to Chavez by 11 points. This time, however, the results were much narrower with Maduro winning by a slim margen of just under 2 points. Capriles refused to accept the results and called his supporters to take to the streets in protest, to “get all their rage out”. During the two days after the elections, 11 government supporters were killed by Capriles’ followers. It was a bloodbath that received no attention in international media, the victims just weren’t glamorous enough, and were on the wrong side.

As 2013 wore on, the economic crisis in the country intensified and the old strategy of hoarding products to provoke shortages and panic amongst the population was back again. Basic consumer products disappeared from the shelves – toilet paper, cooking oil, powdered milk, corn flour – staples needed for everyday life in Venezuela. Inflation began to rise and speculation, price hikes, were rampant. While some of this was related to government controls on foreign currency exchange to prevent capital flight, a lot had to do with sabotage. A full economic war was underway against Maduro’s government.

Problems persisted throughout the year and discontent grew. But as the electoral period came around again in December, for mayors, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) had sweeping victories. 242 out of 317 mayoralties were won by the PSUV, showing a solid majority of the country still supported the government’s party.

Maduro called opposition governors and newly-elected mayors to a meeting at the presidential palace in late December in an attempt to dialogue and create a space to work together to improve the situation in country. The meeting was generously received by a majority of Venezuelans. Nevertheless, extremists, such as Machado and Lopez, saw the meeting as a threat to their goal of ousting Maduro well before his term ended in 2019. Once again they began to call for street protests and other actions against his government.

In January 2014, as Venezuelans arrived back from their Christmas vacations, economic difficulties continued. Maduro began cracking down on businesses violating newly-enacted laws on price controls and speculation. Towards the end of January, new measures were announced regarding access to foreign exchange that many perceived as a devaluing of the national currency, the bolivar. Sentiment built amongst opposition groups rejecting the new measures and calls for Maduro’s resignation increased. By February, small pockets of protests popped up around the country, mainly confined to middle and upper class neighborhoods.

During the celebration of National Youth Day on February 12, while thousands marched peacefully to commemorate the historic achievements of youth in the nation’s independence, another group sought a different agenda. Opposition youth, “students”, led an agressive march calling for Maduro’s resignation that ended in a violent confrontation with authorities after the protestors destroyed building façades, including the Attorney General’s office, threw objects at police and national guard and used molotov cocktails to burn property and block transit. The clashes caused three deaths and multiple injuries.

The leader of the violent protest, Leopoldo Lopez, went into hiding following the confrontation and a warrant was issued for his arrest due to his role in the deadly events and his public calls to oust the president. Days later, after a lengthy show including videos from a “clandestine” location, Lopez convened another march and used the event to publicly turn himself over to authorities. He was taken into custody and held for questioning, all his rights guaranteed by the state.

Lopez became the rallying point for the violent protests, which have continued to date, causing several additional deaths, dozens of injuries and the destruction of public property. Relatively small, violent groups of protestors have blocked transit in wealthier zones of Caracas, causing traffic delays and terrorizing residents. Several deaths have resulted because protestors refused to let ambulences through to take patients to the emergency room.

Ironically, international media have been portraying these protestors as peaceful victims of state repression. Even celebrities, such as Cher and Paris Hilton have been drawn into a false hysteria, calling for freedom for Venezuelans from a “brutal dictatorship”. The reality is quite different. While there is no doubt that a significant number of protestors in the larger marches that have taken place have demonstrated peacefully their legitimate concerns, the driving force behind those protests is a violent plan to overthrow a democratic government. Lopez, who has publicly stated his pride for his role in the April 2002 coup against Hugo Chavez, continues to call on his supporters to rally against the Venezuelan “dictatorship”.

While dozens of governments and international organizations, including UNASUR and Mercosur have expressed their clear support and solidarity for the Venezuelan government and President Maduro, Washington was quick to back the opposition protestors and demand the government release all those detained during the demonstrations. The Obama administration went so far as to threaten President Maduro with international consequences if Leopoldo Lopez were to be detained. In the aftermath of the first wave of violent protests, Maduro expelled three US diplomats from the US Embassy in Caracas, accusing them of conspiring to recruit students in Venezuela to engage in destabilization.

As the violence continues in some areas around the country, Maduro has made widespread calls for peace. A movement for peace was launched last week, led by artists, athletes and cultural figures, together with organized communities seeking to end not just the current chaotic situation, but also the high crime levels that have plagued the country over the past few years.

Most Venezuelans want peace in their country and a majority continue to support the current government. The opposition has failed to present an alternative platform or agenda beyond regime change, and their continued dependence on US funding and support – even this year Obama included $5 million in the 2014 Foreign Operations Budget for opposition groups in Venezuela – is a ongoing sign of their weakness. As a State Department cable from the US Embassy in Caracas, published by Wikileaks, explained in March 2009, “Without our continued assistance, it is possible that the organizations we helped create...could be forced to close...Our funding will provide those organizations a much-needed lifeline”.

During the past decade in Venezuela, poverty has been reduced by over 50%, healthcare has become free and accessible to all, as has quality education from primary through graduate school. State subsidies provide affordable food and housing for those who need it, as well as job training programs and worker placement. Media outlets, especially community media, have expanded nationwide, giving more space for the expression of diverse voices. Internet access has increased significantly and the state also built hundreds of public infocenters with free computer and Internet access throughout the country. Students are given free laptops and tablets to use for their studies. The government has raised minimum wage by 10-20% each year leading Venezuela to have one of the highest minimum wages in Latin America. Pensions are guaranteed after only 25 years of work and those who work in the informal economy are still guaranteed a pension from the state.

While problems persist in the country, as they do every where, most Venezuelans are wary of giving up the immense social and political gains they have made in the past fourteen years.  An opposition with nothing to offer except foreign intervention and uncertainty does not appeal to the majority. Unfortunately, media fail to see this reality, or choose not to portray it in order to advance a political agenda. In Venezuela, the revolution is here to stay and the interests of the 1% are not going to overcome those of the 99% already in power.

Discuss

I was told to put up or shut up in yesterday's diary, A reality check about the Venezuela uprising.  I was told to provide links to publications that led me to be skeptical about the Venezuela protest talking points...

So, here is a link to some tweets with photos claimed to have been snapped in Venezuela, but actually were taken elsewhere, to ramp up opposition to the democratically elected President Maduro of Venezuela among young people.  I found this link in a Truthout.org article, Violent Protests in Venezuela Fit a Pattern, which they certainly do.  Having read about the 2002 violent protests that led to the kidnapping of Hugo Chavez, the previous democratically elected Venezuelan President, I noticed the similarities straight away.  I hope to write more about this later in another diary.

The first photo is a before and after picture of a torture victim who they allege is a Venezuelan student beaten by PSUV "fascist murderers," but in reality is a photograph of Unai Romano, a youth held, beaten and tortured in 2005 by Spanish police.

The second photo tweeted by Daniela Frías is supposed to be a picture of a Venezuelan student about to cry, trying to hug a cop. "You and I are Venezuelans, my buddy," says the text of the tweet, however, the photo actually corresponds to events in Bulgaria in 2013.

The 3rd photo is supposedly a Venezuelan student grabbed by the neck and dragged by Venezuelan police, but actually is a student in Chile from October 2011.

The 4th photo is a long human chain supposedly demonstrating against Maduro​​ in Táchira, but the photo really is ​​a human chain in Catalonia, Spain, in September 2013 protesting in favor of independence from Spain.  

The 5th photo was tweeted by actress, Amanda Gutierrez, of a man allegedly being forced to perform oral sex on two policemen, implying he was an arrested student, tortured and raped by Venezuelan officers, but is really a page from an American adult publication.

The 6th photo, which appeared on the cover of the Argentine daily Clarin on February 13, 2014, is the image of a man with a gun, with a caption implying that he had fired into the crowd, when in reality he was guarding 5 burning vehicles.

The 7th photo was supposedly a picture of a student being shot with buckshot with the caption, "Dictatorship! Just for wearing a button," but the photo was really taken in Rio de Janeiro in June 2013.

The 8th photo was supposedly of a Venezuelen policeman kicking a dog, with the caption: "The National Guard does not forgive dogs. Could it be that the dog is a fascist Nazi?" but the photo really is of a Greek Loukanikos dog, during the anti-capitalist protests in Greece.

The 9th photo claims that a child was injured in Táchira by "Bolivarian hosts," but the photo really is of a wounded child crying in Syria.

The 10th photo is of a man wearing a neck brace after he was struck by protesters, who twitterers claimed was faking, because they allege he was wearing the collar backwards, but the chart to the right shows that he was wearing the collar properly.

The 11th photo is a photo of an alleged Venezuelen woman being dragged by police with her shirt open, but this event really occurred in Egypt, 2011.

This 12th photo has a caption that says it's necessary to show this photo of Vuelta to the world, Dead students in Maracay, but it's really a photo taken in Syria.

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The talking points against the Sochi Olympics were bursting out of the starting gates, speed skating our way well before the Olympic flame in Sochi was lit...  

1. The Russians aren't ready.

Mitt's Brits "not ready" kabitz back in 2012:

It's hard to know just how well [London Olympics 2012] will turn out. There are a few things that were disconcerting. The stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials, that obviously is not something which is encouraging.

is back in ABC's "Russia not ready" rant: toities, tap water, and bees, oh, my!

What about the tap water contaminated in the recent Charleston, West Virginia chemical spill and the fact that the Feds Reaffirm West Virginia Water Safe for All, even though The West Virginia Water Contamination Crisis Is Far From Over.  What about Fracking Water Contamination?  Why did the Obama EPA Shut Down Weatherford, TX Shale Gas Water Contamination Study?  

2. Sochi has a stray dog problem.

 

The MSM is reporting that Russian authorities are culling stray dogs found in the Olympic village.  However, stray cats and dogs in America are also put down quietly, out of sight, whether we want to admit this or not.  It's not to excuse what is happening to woozles in Sochi.  

What is abhorrent here in America is how we treat human beings who are homeless. Homelessness is on the rise in America.  Americans walk over homeless people, make fun of them, and leave them to die of exposure on the streets in subzero temperatures.  

The US has closed far too many mental health facilities, and the few that remain provide substandard care.  To save money on treatment, patients are subjected to group therapy sessions during which their privacy is violated.  While in a fragile frame of mind, patients are forced to publicly recount their own issues and listen to fellow patients talk about their drug use and suicide attempts in graphic detail.  Instead of being a safe sanctuary in which to heal, these facilities are a mentally scarring punishment.  "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" is not a Russian novel.  Health Insurance companies strictly ration mental health care in this country, but no one seems to care about "death panels" when it comes to mental health patients in the USA, a country where the mentally ill are an object of ridicule, scorn, and derision in every day discourse.  

More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease, COMBINED.
The US has been culling and ethnically cleansing Arabs in the Middle East, human beings who have never done anything to harm us.  Let's not forget that our country is waging wars based on fraud perpetuated by some of the very same PR propagandists maligning the Sochi Olympics. These illegal wars have killed, maimed, terrorized, and dislocated hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians: men, women, and children.  We abuse our soldiers by deploying them on mission after mission after mission, many of whom commit suicide in record numbers if they survive these re-deployments once they return home.  Our government has used depleted uranium weapons that cause cancer and horrific birth defects.  

I live in Massachusetts, and some people here are characterizing the gray seals as "wolves in water," not "woozles in water," and guess what they think we should do about these cute, adorable seals?  The Seal Problem: The population of gray seals on the Cape has exploded in recent years. Is it time to cull the herd?

3. Sochi has a terrorism problem.

 

I'm from the Boston area, the city that experienced terrorism during a major sporting event, the Boston Marathon, despite the Russians warning our country to keep an eye on someone the FBI interviewed and the TSA let travel to Russia, even though he was on a terrorist watch list. The government stopped monitoring him, while they snooped on the rest of us.  

Look what happened during the Atlanta Olympics.  Homegrown terrorism there, too.

They want us to forget Atlanta and Boston, while they hype dangerous threats against the Sochi Olympics made by Chechen terrorists Neoconsters have been coddling as "rebels."  

4. Bob Costas came down with conjunctivitis, aka pink eye, in Sochi.

 

Face palm.

5. Putin = Hitler.

 

26.6 million Soviet citizens and soldiers were killed during WWII, and they were on the same side as we were, fighting the Nazis.  Comparing Putin to Hitler is way beyond disgusting and ignorant.  How much of a demagogue and how insensitive to history do you have to be to say such a thing?

6. Russia snoops on visitors to Sochi.

The NSA spies on all of us.  The US no longer has the moral high ground here.

7. Russia is harboring Edward Snowden.

Edward Snowden is an American hero who exposed how traitorous people in government agencies are waging an internal revolt against our US Constitution and the privacy, freedom, and liberty of American citizens by illegally spying on us and recording our every keystroke. Russia is providing asylum to an American hero and whistle blower.

8. Putin spent $51 billion on the Sochi Olympics, and one of the snowflakes didn't turn into a ring like it was supposed to during the opening ceremonies.

The NSA budget in 2012 was $75 billion, and the Boston Bombing happened.  Nuff said.  The schadenfreude over an errant snowflake is petulantly petty, and sniveling about how the Russians substituted footage of the snowflake opening correctly during rehearsals on their television broadcasts only serves to remind us of all the shenanigans our own wag-the-dog media pulls on us constantly to start the latest war du jour, the ends of which are far more devastating than a seemingly seamless opening ceremony.

9. Putin is a homophobe.

What about Texas, Utah, and Alabama, states which passed laws that illustrate The U.S. hypocrisy over Russia’s anti-gay laws?

Our country has a lot to answer for, too, in terms of prejudice and injustice.  

Matthew Shepard.  Trayvon Martin.  James Byrd, Jr.  Affluenza.

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