| BREAKING: Venezuela’s president Maduro says he has decided to offer asylum to Snowden!

| BREAKING: Venezuela‘s president Maduro says he has decided to offer asylum to Snowden!

“I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the young American, Edward Snowden, so that in the fatherland of (Simon) Bolivar and (Hugo) Chavez, he can come and live away from the imperial North American persecution,” Maduro told a televised parade marking Venezuela’s independence day.

NSA leak fallout: LIVE UPDATES ~ RT.

Former CIA employee Edward Snowden has carried out one of the biggest leaks in US history, exposing a top-secret NSA surveillance program to the media. Leading tech companies were revealed to be involved in intelligence gathering through PRISM spy tool.

00:11 GMT Venezuela’s president Maduro says he has decided to offer asylum to US NSA- leaker Edward Snowden, Reuters reports.

“I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the young American, Edward Snowden, so that in the fatherland of (Simon) Bolivar and (Hugo) Chavez, he can come and live away from the imperial North American persecution,” Maduro told a televised parade marking Venezuela’s independence day.

Saturday, July 6 

23:34 GMT: Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega said on Friday that he had received an asylum request from US NSA-leaker Edward Snowden and could accept the bid “if circumstances permit.”

“We are open, respectful of the right to asylum, and it is clear that if circumstances permit it, we would receive Snowden with pleasure and give him asylum here in Nicaragua,” Ortega said at a public event.

16:27 GMT: Edward Snowden has applied to another six states for political asylum, WikiLeaks reported. In an effort to avoid US interference, the six nations were not disclosed.

15:12 GMT: UK and Sweden have vetoed the discussion of traditional spying by the US on EU members during upcoming talks in Washington. Originally the EU envisaged two working groups – reports the Guardian – one discussing NSA and PRISM, and the other more traditional methods of espionage, but the two objectors said the EU had no authority to discuss matters of national security, particularly since policies differ widely among various member states. “Intelligence matters and those of national security are not the competence of the EU,” summed up José Manuel Barroso, the European commission president.

11:57 GMT: German Blush lingerie brand has decided to take advantage of the hype surrounding Edward Snowden, issuing a series of ads in which the whistleblower is mentioned. In one of them, the company offers him asylum in Berlin, promising that a “bed and champagne” is waiting for the NSA leaker upon arrival. Another ad features the slogan “Dear Edward Snowden, there’s still a lot to uncover” next to a female model in sexy underwear.

“We highly sympathize with what Snowden did,”
 said Johannes Krempl, director of Glow Advertising agency. “We owe him so much, and that’s why we thought we have to do something to express our feelings towards him and thank him, and that’s why we came up with this ad for Blush in support of his deeds.”


07:48 GMT: The US government has issued an arrest warrant for Edward Snowden to the Irish government. The request has been sent as a pre-emptive strike against Snowden’s potential attempt to fly to Havana, Cuba on a commercial flight which has a stopover in Shannon, Ireland for refueling.

06:35 GMT: The proposal to give Snowden Icelandic citizenship received limited support in Parliament on Thursday, the last day before summer recess, with only six members of minority parties in favor out of parliament’s 63 members.

Friday, July 5

21:17 GMT: A short movie on NSA leaker Edward Snowden has been filmed by a group of independent filmmakers in Hong Kong. Called “Verax,” or the truth teller in Latin, the 5-minute film has already been viewed over 130,000 times on YouTube.

Creators say the $600 budget movie was made in less than a week at the time Snowden was still in Hong-Kong.

The film depicts Snowden’s time spent in a Hong Kong hotel room while hiding from the intelligence services. The film also shows the Snowden-alike protagonist solving a Rubik’s cube – an object he reportedly identifies with.

‘Verax’ was reportedly the alias Snowden used when contacting journalists via encrypted chat services.

17:09 GMT: The Icelandic Parliament reportedly has a bill that would give Snowden Icelandic citizenship.

16:06 GMT: Paris has rejected Edward Snowden’s asylum request, AFP reports quoting ministerial officials.

So far, twelve countries including France have denied the whistleblower refuge. Egiht applications are still pending.

16:01 GMT: France’s external intelligence agency spies on French citizens‘ phone calls, emails, social media activity and web use, reports Le Monde. 

15:19 GMT: Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino says Rome cannot support Snowden’s request for Asylum. She stated that any request would have to be presented in person at the border or on Italian territory, which Snowden had not done.

“As a result there do not exist the legal conditions to accept such a request which in the government’s view would not be acceptable on a political level either,” she said.

Snowden has applied for asylum in 21 countries.

14:34 GMT: EU Parliament has voted to scrap two agreements granting the US access to European financial and travel data, unless Washington reveals the full extent of its spying on Europe.

 

Members of the EU Parliament take part in a voting session on the implications for EU citizens' privacy of the US Prism and other internet surveillance cases, on July 4, 2013 during a session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France. (AFP Photo/Frederick Florin)Members of the EU Parliament take part in a voting session on the implications for EU citizens’ privacy of the US Prism and other internet surveillance cases, on July 4, 2013 during a session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France. (AFP Photo/Frederick Florin)

 

13:20 GMT: EU lawmakers on Thursday demanded ‘immediate clarification’ of US spying on EU offices and warned the scandal could damage trans-Atlantic relations. Lawmakers however rejected a call for the postponement of talks on a EU-US trade deal, which are due to start on Monday.

12:44 GMT: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has rejected an order for the extradition of former CIA employee Edward Snowden live on Venezuelan state channel Telesur.

“I reject any request for extradition, affirmed the president, speaking about Edward Snowden,” read a tweet posted on Telesur’s Twitter account.

11:53 GMT: Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has not applied for political asylum in Russia so it is not in Moscow’s power to decide his destiny, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated.“As of today, Russia has not received an application from Mr. Snowden for political asylum. We believe that without his determined personal decision in one direction or another, without his exact understanding of what is better for him, what solution he considers to be the optimal one, we are unable to decide for him. That’s all that can be said currently,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told journalists.

10:05 GMT: “Snowden, will you marry me?” Russian ‘femme fatale’ Anna Chapman asks via twitter. The red-haired tabloid darling came to world prominence after the spy scandal with ten Russians sleeper agents arrested in the US in June 2010. They were expelled from American soil after being traded on July 9 for four American spies serving jail terms in Russia, in what was the biggest prisoner swap since the fall of the Iron Curtain. After returning to Russia, Chapman has been enjoying an active media life and hosting a program on “Mysteries of the World” Russian REN TV channel.

9:13 GMT: The Bolivian government has rejected the American extradition request for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden as “baseless and illegal.”

“The bizarre, legally baseless and unusual request for the extradition of a person who is not on the territory of the state in question, will be returned to the United States immediately,” said a foreign ministry statement.

The Ministry stressed that Morales had at no point met with President Morales in Russia, nor did he get on the plane, nor is he presently on Bolivian territory”

5:02 GMT: The Bolivian President’s plane has finally landed in La Paz following its detention for over 13 hours in Vienna’s airport. The presidential craft made two stops during its journey in Brazil and the Canary Islands. President Evo Morales was greeted by a throng of supporters at the airport, who brandished banners and voiced their solidarity. The Bolivian leader addressed the crowd, declaring: “they will never intimidate us! They will never scare us!”

 

Four hours for President Evo Morales to arrive in Bolivia and the airport is already packed with people who want to welcome him. (Photo from Instagram/@RT)Four hours for President Evo Morales to arrive in Bolivia and the airport is already packed with people who want to welcome him. (Photo from Instagram/@RT)

 

Thursday, July 4

16:15 GMT: Protesters burn a French flag outside the French embassy in La Paz. Bolivian officials accused France, Portugal, Italy and Spain of denying entry to the President’s jet late Tuesday over “unfounded rumors” Snowden was traveling on board.

 

People burn a French flag in front of France's embassy in La Paz on June 03, 2013 . (AFP Photo)People burn a French flag in front of France’s embassy in La Paz on June 03, 2013 . (AFP Photo)

 

15:08 GMT: Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa has asked that the Unasur group of South American nations call an urgent meeting over travel restrictions placed on Bolivian President Evo Morales by France and Portugal, Unasur’s secretary general said in a statement on Wednesday.

12:03 GMT:

 

10:47 GMT: “An act of aggression and violation of international law” is how Bolivia’s UN envoydescribed Austria’s decision to search the Bolivian presidential jet for NSA leaker Edward Snowden. The envoy has pledged to make an official complaint to the UN.

Envoy Sacha Llorentty Soliz told press in New York that he had no doubt the decision to search the plane originated from the US.

10:39 GMT: France wants a temporary two week suspension of EU-US free trade talks in the light of the looming scandal over the US National Security Agency’s alleged spying on 38 embassies, including America’s NATO European allies. “It’s not a question of halting the negotiations,” French government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem noted, but “On the other hand, it would seem wise to us to suspend them for a couple of weeks to avoid any controversy and have the time to obtain the information we’ve asked for,” he said.

8:51 GMT: The Austrian authorities searched Morales’ plane for Edward Snowden, but found no stowaways on board, Austria’s deputy chancellor has said.

8:42 GMT: Spain has authorized Bolivia’s presidential jet to pass through its airspace and continue its journey to Bolivia, the Austrian President has said. The plane was grounded in Austria Wednesday morning over suspicions that Edward Snowden was on board.

The Austrian President, Heinz Fischer, announced that the Bolivian presidential jet will be on its way to La Paz “shortly” following a meeting with President Evo Morales. President Morales has spent 11 hours in the airport in Vienna waiting to resume his journey.

03:00 GMT: French officials have stated that technical problems prevented one of their airports from accepting president Evo Morales’ flight from landing. The Bolivian leader was en route from Russia following his attendance at a summit of major gas-exporting nations in Moscow.

According to the Associated Press, Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca has rejected any claims that the plane carrying the Bolivian head of state was denied entry over France and Portugal for anything other than political reasons.

“They say it was due to technical issues, but after getting explanations from some authorities we found that there appeared to be some unfounded suspicions that Mr. Snowden was on the plane … We don’t know who invented this lie,” said Choquehuanca.

While attending the energy conference in Russia this week, Morales told RT that he would consider granting asylum to Snowden if the request was made.

“It is possible that they want to intimidate us due to the statement made by President Morales that we would analyze an asylum request from Mr. Snowden,” said Defense Minister Ruben Saavedra.

“We have the suspicion that [France and Portugal] were used by a foreign power, in this case the United States, as a way of intimidating the Bolivian state and President Evo Morales.”

Saavedra confirmed that Italy had also denied Bolivia’s aircraft entry into its airspace. The Bolivian president meanwhile is spending the night at a hotel in Vienna.

01:08 GMT: Austrian ministry officials have confirmed that Snowden was not on Morales’ plane, AFP reported.

President Morales will leave early Wednesday morning for La Paz,” Austrian ministry spokesman Alexander Schallenberg said. He denied any knowledge of why the plane landed there.

00:41 GMT: Imprisoned former CIA officer John Kiriakou has written a letter supporting Snowden’s decision to leak information about the massive surveillance apparatus employed by the US. Kiriakou was the first CIA officer to publicly acknowledge that torture treated as legal under former president George W. Bush. He was convicted in October 2012 of disclosing the name of an officer who worked in the CIA’s Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation program to a reporter and sentenced to thirty months behind bars earlier this year.

 

Imprisoned former CIA officer John Kiriakou (Photo from tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com)Imprisoned former CIA officer John Kiriakou (Photo from tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com)

 

Kiriakou, in his second note published by Firedog Lake, advised Snowden to “find the best national security attorneys money can buy,” while recommending the American Civil Liberties Union and Government Accountability Project as two potential leads.

You’re going to need the support of prominent Americans and groups who can explain to the public why what you did is so important,” Kiriakou wrote, while adding that the “most important advice” he can offer is to “not, under any circumstances, cooperate with the FBI.”

 

Image from dissenter.firedoglake.comImage from dissenter.firedoglake.com

 

00:07 GMT: The Bolivian Chamber of Deputies, the country’s national legislature, expressed solidarity with President Evo Morales after his plane from Moscow was diverted away from French and Portuguese airspace because of a rumor that Edward Snowden was onboard.

This is a lie, a falsehood. It was generated by the US government,” Bolivian Defense Minister Ruben Saavedra told. “It t is an outrage. It is an abuse. It is a violation of the conventions and agreements of international air transportation.”

Ecuador also suggested an emergency meeting of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) after the incident Tuesday.

 

The Bolivian presidential airplane is parked at the Vienna International Airport in Schwechat July 3, 2013. (Reuters)The Bolivian presidential airplane is parked at the Vienna International Airport in Schwechat July 3, 2013. (Reuters)

 

Wednesday, July 3

22:24 GMT: A Bolivian Minister has announced that Morales’ plane was forced to re-route on the suspicion that Snowden was on board, according to the Associated Press.

22:21 GMT: After departing from Russia the plane of Bolivian President Evo Morales was forced to make an emergency landing in Austria. Bolivian authorities denied rumors that Edward Snowden was on board, though the fugitive whistleblower did send a political asylum request to Bolivia that has yet to be answered; he also petitioned Austria but was rejected.

Reports indicated the plane made previous attempts to land in France and Portugal but was denied because of the possibility that Snowden was on board.

17:53 GMT: Snowden’s father has written an open letter to him extolling him for “summoning the American people to confront the growing danger of tyranny.” Snowden’s father has expressed concern that WikiLeaks supporters who have been helping his son seek asylum may not have his best interests at heart. The father has said he’d like his son to return to the U.S. under the right circumstances.

14:43 GMT: In his asylum request to Poland, Snowden said that he risks facing the death penalty if he returns to the US.

14:10 GMT: Venezuela’s president, Nicolás Maduro, says Venezuela is ready to consider an asylum request from Snowden.

“In any case, this young man must be protected in terms of international and humanitarian law. He has a right to be protected, because he is being pursued be the US. By its president, vice president, by the secretary of State. Why is he being pursued?What kind of crime has he committed? Has he launched a missile and killed anyone? Has he planted a bomb and killed anyone? No, he hasn’t. On the contrary, he is doing everything to prevent wars, to prevent any kind of illegal action against the whole world. Venezuela hasn’t so far received an asylum request from Snowden – when we get it we are ready to consider it,” Maduro told journalists in Moscow on Tuesday.

 

President Nicolas Maduro seen attending the Kremlin's joint press conference, July 2, 2013 (RIA Novosti / Aleksey Nikolskyi)President Nicolas Maduro seen attending the Kremlin’s joint press conference, July 2, 2013 (RIA Novosti / Aleksey Nikolskyi)

 

14:07 GMT: According to Wikileaks, Snowden has received asylum rejections from Poland, Finland, India, and Brazil. Applications made to Austria, Ecuador, Norway, and Spain are only valid if made on the countries’ home soils. Venezuela says it is willing to consider an asylum request from Snowden.

Bolivia, China, Cuba, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Nicaragua, and Switzerland have not yet responded to Snowden’s requests for asylum.

Snowden gave up on his initial request to stay in Russia, after President Putin said his asylum bid was contingent on his cessation of “anti-American activity,” according to presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

13:35 GMT: Italy’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Snowden’s asylum application was not filed correctly because Snowden would have to be on Italian soil for it to be valid. Furthermore, his application was received by fax, which is not allowed under Italian law.

12:40 GMT: Brazil has refused the asylum request from NSA leaker Edward Snowden, a spokesperson for the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said in a statement.

12:25 GMT: Poland, America’s most faithful ally in Eastern Europe, has announced it is going to demand explanations from Washington over NSA surveillance of Polish diplomats in EU facilities and the country’s embassy in the US. “We will demand an explanation for NSA (US National Security Agency) actions towards Poland and the EU,” Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski wrote in a Twitter post.

10:36 GMT: India has rejected Snowden’s application for political asylum, stating they have “no reason” to accede to the request.

“Indian Embassy in Moscow did receive a request for asylum in a communication dated 30 June from Mr Edward Snowden,” Syed Akbaruddin, a spokesman for India’s foreign ministry, said on Twitter.

10:00 GMT: Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo knows nothing of an asylum request from Edward Snowden, but has reiterated statements made by other states that an asylum application is only valid when made on Spanish soil.

For an asylum petition to become a petition that the government could study, in other words for it to be legally admissible, it has to be made by a person who is in Spain,” Reuters cites Garcia-Margallo as saying.

09:00 GMT: Finnish asylum cannot be requested from abroad, according to Keijo Norvanto, Head of the Unit for Communications at Finland’s Foreign Ministry.

We can confirm that we received the request. But we cannot consider it official. To officially seek political asylum, Snowden must first come to Finland and go to the police or migration service. But in this case the request procedure was violated, so the appeal is not going to be considered,” ITAR-TASS news agency cites Norvanto as saying.

08:30 GMT: Snowden’s request for asylum was handed over to the Austrian embassy in Moscow on Monday, but it can only be submitted in Austria directly, APA news agency cites the country’s Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner, as saying. When asked by journalists if Snowden could be extradited once in Austria, the Minister answered that no international arrest warrant had been issued for the whistleblower.

08:00 GMT: Edward Snowden gave up on his initial request to stay in Russia, after President Putin said his asylum bid was contingent on his cessation of “anti-American activity”, said presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov.  The whistleblower continues to remain in the transit zone of the Sheremetyevo airport and has never crossed the Russian border, Peskov continued. He reiterated that Russian intelligence had never worked with the whistleblower, nor had Snowden ever been a Russian intelligence agent. Peskov stressed Russia will never hand over anyone to a country where capital punishment is enforced.

 

Russia's President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov attends a meeting with the Venezuelan delegation, led by President Nicolas Maduro, at the Kremlin in Moscow, July 2, 2013. (Reuters / Maxim Shemetov)Russia’s President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov attends a meeting with the Venezuelan delegation, led by President Nicolas Maduro, at the Kremlin in Moscow, July 2, 2013. (Reuters / Maxim Shemetov)

 

00:00 GMT:  In a statement released through WikiLeaks, Snowden thanked his supporters and decried the Obama administration’s method of trying to intimidate countries that would consider granting him political asylum.

For decades the United States of America [has] been one of the strongest defenders of the human right to seek asylum,” Snowden wrote. “Sadly, this right laid out and voted for by the US in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is now being rejected by the current government of my country. The Obama administration has now adopted the strategy of using citizenship as a weapon.

Although I am convicted of nothing,” the statement continues, “it has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me in a stateless person. Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me [from] exercising a basic right. A right that belongs to everybody. The right to seek asylum.”

 

Tuesday, July 2

18:30 GMT: Speaking to RT Spanish, Bolivian president Evo Morales has said that Edward Snowden has not requested political asylum from his country.

“If there were a request, of course we would be willing to debate and consider the idea,” said Morales.

The president further explained that Bolivia was prepared to “assist” the whistleblower.

 

Bolivian president Evo Morales visiting RT Spanish TV channel (RT photo / Semyon Khorunzhy)Bolivian president Evo Morales visiting RT Spanish TV channel (RT photo / Semyon Khorunzhy)

 

“Why not? Well, he’s left much to be discussed … and a debate on the international level, and of course, Bolivia is there to shield the denounced, whether it’s espionage or control, in either case, we are here to assist.”

16:00 GMT: US President Barack Obama said Washington and Moscow had held high level discussions regarding the issue of fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden, adding that he hoped Russia would help resolve the issue on the basis of international standards.

 

US President Barack Obama, July 1, 2013. (AFP Photo / Saul Loeb)US President Barack Obama, July 1, 2013. (AFP Photo / Saul Loeb)

 

Obama, noting that the US does not have an extradition treaty with Russia, said that Snowden had arrived in the country without a valid passport, and hoped Moscow would thus make a decision which was on par with the regular protocols of international travel and cooperation between law enforcement agencies.

Obama would not confirm reports that law enforcement agencies in both countries had been ordered to find a solution regarding Snowden.

15:32 GMT: Edward Snowden has not applied for asylum in Russia, according to the Russian Immigration Service.

The statement comes after a New York Times report which cited “a Russian immigration source close to the matter” as saying that Snowden has, in fact, sought asylum.

 

15:30 GMT: Russian President Vladimir Putin said  that Russia would not hand over former NSA contractor Edward Snowden to the United States, but added that if Snowden wanted to say in the country he “must stop his work aimed at harming our American partners”.

“Russia has never extradited anyone and is not going to do so. Same as no one has ever been extradited to Russia,” Putin stated.

“At best,” he noted, Russia exchanged its foreign intelligence employees detained abroad for“those who were detained, arrested and sentenced by a court in the Russian Federation.”

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin, July 1, 2013. (RIA Novosti / Mikhail Klementiev)Russian President Vladimir Putin, July 1, 2013. (RIA Novosti / Mikhail Klementiev)

 

Snowden “is not a Russian agent”, the president continued, stressing that Russian intelligence services were not working with the American whistleblower.

Putin added that Snowden should choose his final destination and go there.

13:56 GMT: Presidents Putin and Obama have instructed their nations’ securities services – Russia’s FSB and American FBI respectively – to solve the situation around the Snowden case, said the Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolay Patrushev.

12:53 GMT: France and Germany have demanded the US account for leaked reports of massive-scale US spying on the EU. French President Francois Hollande called for an end to surveillance while Germany said such “Cold War-style behavior” was “unacceptable.”

The German government summoned the US ambassador to Germany, Philip Murphy, to Berlin on Monday to explain the incendiary reports.  Chancellor Merkel’s spokesperson said the government wants “trust restored.”

While French President Francois Hollande said the spying should “stop immediately.”

 

Francois Hollande (AFP Photo / Patrick Kovarik)Francois Hollande (AFP Photo / Patrick Kovarik)

 

09:13 GMT: Juergen Trittin, German parliamentary leader and candidate for chancellor of the Greens – the country’s third largest party – told German television that whistleblower Edward Snowden should be granted safe haven in Europe and not seek asylum in “despotic” countries.

“It’s painful for democrats that someone who has served democracy and, in our view, uncovered a massive violation of basic rights, should have to seek refuge with despots who have problems with basic rights themselves,” Trittin said.

“Someone like that should be protected,” he continued. “That counts for Mr. Snowden. He should get safe haven here in Europe because he has done us a service by revealing a massive attack on European citizens and companies. Germany, as part of Europe, could do that.”

The deputy did not specify which “despots” he had in mind.

Tritten’s comments come amidst reports that the National Security Agency (NSA) monitors half a billion phone calls, emails and text messages in Germany during an average month, far outpacing US surveillance of any other European state.

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SPY 1

Paranoia1

| 50 Truths about Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution!

50 Truths about Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution ~ SALIM LAMRANI – OPERA MUNDI, Venezuelanalysis.com.

President Hugo Chavez, who died on March 5, 2013 of cancer at age 58, marked forever the history of Venezuela and Latin America.

1. Never in the history of Latin America, has a political leader had such incontestable democratic legitimacy. Since coming to power in 1999, there were 16 elections in Venezuela. Hugo Chavez won 15, the last on October 7, 2012. He defeated his rivals with a margin of 10-20 percentage points.

2. All international bodies, from the European Union to the Organization of American States, to the Union of South American Nations and the Carter Center, were unanimous in recognizing the transparency of the vote counts.

3. James Carter, former U.S. President, declared that Venezuela’s electoral system was “the best in the world.”

4. Universal access to education introduced in 1998 had exceptional results. About 1.5 million Venezuelans learned to read and write thanks to the literacy campaign called Mission Robinson I.

5. In December 2005, UNESCO said that Venezuela had eradicated illiteracy.

6. The number of children attending school increased from 6 million in 1998 to 13 million in 2011 and the enrollment rate is now 93.2%.

7. Mission Robinson II was launched to bring the entire population up to secondary level. Thus, the rate of secondary school enrollment rose from 53.6% in 2000 to 73.3% in 2011.

8. Missions Ribas and Sucre allowed tens of thousands of young adults to undertake university studies. Thus, the number of tertiary students increased from 895,000 in 2000 to 2.3 million in 2011, assisted by the creation of new universities.

9. With regard to health, they created the National Public System to ensure free access to health care for all Venezuelans. Between 2005 and 2012, 7873 new medical centers were created in Venezuela.

10. The number of doctors increased from 20 per 100,000 population in 1999 to 80 per 100,000 in 2010, or an increase of 400%.

11. Mission Barrio Adentro I provided 534 million medical consultations. About 17 million people were attended, while in 1998 less than 3 million people had regular access to health. 1.7 million lives were saved, between 2003 and 2011.

12. The infant mortality rate fell from 19.1 per thousand in 1999 to 10 per thousand in 2012, a reduction of 49%.

13. Average life expectancy increased from 72.2 years in 1999 to 74.3 years in 2011.

14. Thanks to Operation Miracle, launched in 2004, 1.5 million Venezuelans who were victims of cataracts or other eye diseases, regained their sight.

15. From 1999 to 2011, the poverty rate decreased from 42.8% to 26.5% and the rate of extreme poverty fell from 16.6% in 1999 to 7% in 2011.

16. In the rankings of the Human Development Index (HDI) of the United Nations Program for Development (UNDP), Venezuela jumped from 83 in 2000 (0.656) at position 73 in 2011 (0.735), and entered into the category Nations with ‘High HDI’.

17. The GINI coefficient, which allows calculation of inequality in a country, fell from 0.46 in 1999 to 0.39 in 2011.

18. According to the UNDP, Venezuela holds the lowest recorded Gini coefficient in Latin America, that is, Venezuela is the country in the region with the least inequality.

19. Child malnutrition was reduced by 40% since 1999.

20. In 1999, 82% of the population had access to safe drinking water. Now it is 95%.

21. Under President Chavez social expenditures increased by 60.6%.

22. Before 1999, only 387,000 elderly people received a pension. Now the figure is 2.1 million.

23. Since 1999, 700,000 homes have been built in Venezuela.

24. Since 1999, the government provided / returned more than one million hectares of land to Aboriginal people.

25. Land reform enabled tens of thousands of farmers to own their land. In total, Venezuela distributed more than 3 million hectares.

26. In 1999, Venezuela was producing 51% of food consumed. In 2012, production was 71%, while food consumption increased by 81% since 1999. If consumption of 2012 was similar to that of 1999, Venezuela produced 140% of the food it consumed.

27. Since 1999, the average calories consumed by Venezuelans increased by 50% thanks to the Food Mission that created a chain of 22,000 food stores (MERCAL, Houses Food, Red PDVAL), where products are subsidized up to 30%. Meat consumption increased by 75% since 1999.

28. Five million children now receive free meals through the School Feeding Programme. The figure was 250,000 in 1999.

29. The malnutrition rate fell from 21% in 1998 to less than 3% in 2012.

30. According to the FAO, Venezuela is the most advanced country in Latin America and the Caribbean in the erradication of hunger.

31. The nationalization of the oil company PDVSA in 2003 allowed Venezuela to regain its energy sovereignty.

32. The nationalization of the electrical and telecommunications sectors (CANTV and Electricidad de Caracas) allowed the end of private monopolies and guaranteed universal access to these services.

33. Since 1999, more than 50,000 cooperatives have been created in all sectors of the economy.

34. The unemployment rate fell from 15.2% in 1998 to 6.4% in 2012, with the creation of more than 4 million jobs.

35. The minimum wage increased from 100 bolivars/month ($ 16) in 1998 to 2047.52 bolivars ($ 330) in 2012, ie an increase of over 2,000%. This is the highest minimum wage in Latin America.

36. In 1999, 65% of the workforce earned the minimum wage. In 2012 only 21.1% of workers have only this level of pay.

37. Adults at a certain age who have never worked still get an income equivalent to 60% of the minimum wage.

38. Women without income and disabled people receive a pension equivalent to 80% of the minimum wage.

39. Working hours were reduced to 6 hours a day and 36 hours per week, without loss of pay.

40. Public debt fell from 45% of GDP in 1998 to 20% in 2011. Venezuela withdrew from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, after early repayment of all its debts.

41. In 2012, the growth rate was 5.5% in Venezuela, one of the highest in the world.

42. GDP per capita rose from $ 4,100 in 1999 to $ 10,810 in 2011.

43. According to the annual World Happiness 2012, Venezuela is the second happiest country in Latin America, behind Costa Rica, and the nineteenth worldwide, ahead of Germany and Spain.

44. Venezuela offers more direct support to the American continent than the United States. In 2007, Chávez spent more than 8,800 million dollars in grants, loans and energy aid as against 3,000 million from the Bush administration.

45. For the first time in its history, Venezuela has its own satellites (Bolivar and Miranda) and is now sovereign in the field of space technology. The entire country has internet and telecommunications coverage.

46. The creation of Petrocaribe in 2005 allows 18 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, or 90 million people, secure energy supply, by oil subsidies of between 40% to 60%.

47. Venezuela also provides assistance to disadvantaged communities in the United States by providing fuel at subsidized rates.

48. The creation of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) in 2004 between Cuba and Venezuela laid the foundations of an inclusive alliance based on cooperation and reciprocity. It now comprises eight member countries which places the human being in the center of the social project, with the aim of combating poverty and social exclusion.

49. Hugo Chavez was at the heart of the creation in 2011 of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) which brings together for the first time the 33 nations of the region, emancipated from the tutelage of the United States and Canada.

50. Hugo Chavez played a key role in the peace process in Colombia. According to President Juan Manuel Santos, “if we go into a solid peace project, with clear and concrete progress, progress achieved ever before with the FARC, is also due to the dedication and commitment of Chavez and the government of Venezuela.”

Translation by Tim Anderson

Source: Opera Mundia
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Though much of the major media has ignored this international show of recognition for the government of Hugo Chávez, these responses to his death are a clear affirmation of respect and acknowledgement for his legacy, from Latin America and around the world.

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| Why did no Arab leader attend Chavez’s funeral, despite his unwavering support for Palestine?

Ahmadinejad Steals Show At Chavez FuneralAli Hashem for Al-Monitor.

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Why did no Arab leader attend Chavez’s funeral, despite his unwavering support for Palestine? The funeral of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was notable for the absence of Arab leaders, while Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad generated controversy by comforting Chavez’s mother.

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Arab leaders were missed at Hugo Chavez’s funeral. None showed up, despite the fact Chavez was known for his pro-Arab stances. According to one of his Arab affairs advisers, “Chavez risked many of Venezuela’s interests for the Palestinian cause, but that meant nothing to the Palestinian leaders who did not travel to Caracas for his farewell.”

The most senior Arab officials to take part in the funeral – which was attended by more than 30 heads of state – were two ministers representing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas respectively. The adviser, who is of Arab descent, spoke sorrowfully. “I couldn’t look in his eyes even though he was dead. He did everything he could for Arabs, but their leaders were ungrateful.” He added: “We know that people in the Arab world were as sad as Chavez’s admirers here.” Over one million Venezuelans are of Arab descent. Venezuela’s interior and foreign ministers descend from Syria and Lebanon, respectively.

“Arab leaders fear the Americans,” said the adviser. “Chavez’s stances towards their causes discomfited them. They only care about what the White House wants, so they didn’t come.”

Isabelle Franjiyeh, who is originally from Lebanon, is a member of the ruling party in Venezuela. She told me when we met after the funeral that Venezuela’s commitment to Arab causes would not be affected by such an incident. “We care for the people there,” she said. “Our leadership is attached to the grass roots, not the elite.” Before leaving, she made a brief but significant remark: “Venezuelans never felt the absence of Arab leaders; they were overwhelmed by [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad’s presence.”

The Iranian president’s presence might have been very important to pro-Chavez Venezuelans, especially after a picture was publicized showing him holding the hands of Chavez’s mother. However, this same picture seems to have given Ahmadinejad a bit of headache in Iran and within religious Shiite circles around the world. It is known that in the Shiite version of Islam, physical contact between a man and non-related women is forbidden. According to the website of one of Iran’s ayatollahs, “This reality is beyond debate. It would be necessary for you to explain your position and beliefs to others in that by refraining from shaking hands you do not mean to insult them and that you are obeying the rules of your religion.”

Several Conservative MPs on the Iran Islamic Shura Council criticized the president’s attitude. “Such an attitude by a senior official contradicts with our beliefs,” said MP Mohammed Dahqan, who urged the ayatollahs to issue statements condemning the incident.

Another MP, Mohamed Mahdi PorFatemi, said, “If it was anyone other than Ahmadinejad who did so, he would be called a traitor.”

Social networks and websites were flooded with the picture, while many pro-Ahmadinejad activists strained to convince people the image had been photoshopped. “President Ahmadinejad is a pious Muslim. He won’t do such a thing,” said one. As many as 200 comments flooded a page that had posted a photoshopped image showing Ahmadinejad with a man instead of a woman.

Later, video of the incident emerged and the debate over the authenticity of the image halted. The debate then shifted to the reasons behind Ahmadinejad’s action.

“She surprised him, and he wasn’t able to do anything,” said one reader. Another countered, “He could have avoided her.” A war of words began, and participants in the dialogue seemed divided. Some gave excuses; others attacked. Some criticized the debate itself in their comments. One of those, a religious activist, wrote, “The woman is almost 80 years old. Why do you all care about this? Chavez’s mother deserves to be kissed on her forehead.”

Ali Hashem is an Arab journalist who is serving as Al Mayadeen news network’s chief correspondent. Until March 2012, Ali was Al Jazeera‘s war correspondent, and prior to Al Jazeera he was a senior journalist at the BBC. 
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| Hubris: Iraq may be broken, but it is our political class that is bankrupted!

Iraq may be broken, but it is our political class that is bankrupted ~ GEORGE GALLOWAYThe Independent.

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Virtually nothing has been learned, and now history is repeating itself.

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The finest of all journalists in the English-speaking world, Claud Cockburn, said:

“Believe nothing until it has been officially denied.” This basic rubric of the trade was all but abandoned a decade ago in the run-up to the war on Iraq, when every official claim was assumed to be true and those who denied it were treated as bad, or even mad. One honourable exception was Cockburn’s son, Patrick, in The Independent, an exception continued in his magisterial look back in anger in this newspaper over the past week. If journalism is history’s first draft, then Patrick Cockburn’s work on Iraq will prove to be close to the finished article.

I mention this not just because I remain bitter at the role of the fourth estate in helping to bring about such slaughter and, a decade later, such ongoing misery in Iraq. But because virtually nothing has been learned, and history is repeating itself over and over again – in Libya, Mali, Syria.

Bob Dylan said in “Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again” that “you have to pay to get out of, going through all this twice…”. For the most part, the bill continues to be paid by others, and elsewhere. For now.

Even for someone with my experience, such militarised mendacity can still take the breath away. How many times did you read and listen in the past few days to pontificating pundits tell you that Hugo Chavez had “wrecked” the Venezuelan economy, without a whiff of self-consciousness about the state of our own and that of the United States? That Chavez’s Venezuela was a “divided” society; as if Bush, Obama, Cameron, and Osborne led governments of national unity?

To briefly recap; a huge right-wing conspiracy was mounted 10 years ago to manufacture a case to wage aggressive war (pace Nuremberg, the “ultimate crime”) upon Iraq. It involved government ministers (some still swilling around profitably in the detritus they created); intelligence agencies and the spin doctors controlling them; craven parliamentarians scarcely worthy of the name; and a veritable army of scribblers, autocue readers, laptop bombardiers and think-tankers.

Add a sprinkling of useful idiots calling themselves “liberals”, and the blue touchpaper was lit. A million died, thousands of them British and American. Millions spread as refugees around the world. A country was dismembered, never to be reassembled. Extremism cascaded around the world, blowing itself up even aboard London buses.

The whole “humanitarian” show is best remembered in the pictures from Abu Ghraib. A female American soldier, cigarette dangling from her curling lip, leading a hooded naked Iraqi prisoner like a dog on a chain. Piling naked helpless Iraqi prisoners on top of each other and forcing them to commit indecent acts, videoing it all for the entertainment of the barracks later. Those tempted to imagine this was American exceptionalism should read the proceedings of the London court this week where, inter alia, we learned of the Iraqi corpse who may or may not have walked into British custody alive, but who surely was handed back to his family minus his penis. It doesn’t get much uglier than this, especially when it’s all dressed up in the livery of liberal “intervention”.

Millions of us knew that it would end this way, even before it became clear that the entire conspiracy was built on the tower – bigger than Babel – of lies around “weapons of mass destruction”. There were none. But the weapons of mass deception deployed by the conspirators remain in fine fettle. And none of them has even been properly inspected yet. No one has been held to account; not a single head has rolled. Except those of a million Iraqis.

When the Chilcot Inquiry was announced, I denounced it in Parliament as a parade of establishment duffers, two of whom at least had been among the intellectual authors of the disaster, one of whom had described Bush and Blair as the Roosevelt and Churchill de nos jours. I pointed out that there was not a single legal personality on the Inquiry, or a soldier. And not a Douglas Hurd or a Menzies Campbell among them either. That no one could be summoned, nor their papers either. That no one would be testifying under oath. That must have been three years ago now. Little did I know that the Chilcot report would be as slow in coming as the judgement day.

Iraq is broken now, and as Cockburn’s recent reports show, Iraqi hearts haven’t mended either. It was a disaster, the greatest British policy failure since the First World War.

But for as long as its lessons are not learned, the Iraqis will not be the last such victims. The Iraq war bankrupted the British and American political class. They no longer speak for the people they claim to represent. Few believe any longer anything they say. Long before Leveson summed up the venality of much of the media – the echo chamber of that class – the people were abandoning that media in droves. Like our other institutions – the banks and the police, to name but two – their credibility stands in ruins. Devastated even more starkly than were Fallujah, Amariyah and Baghdad.

Saddam’s presidential palaces turned out to be bare, but not as bereft as the democratic political leaders who propelled him to the gallows. The trap door has opened for them. And they are still falling.

George Galloway is the Respect MP for Bradford West

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| World leaders at Chavez funeral: Who’s Who of US foes!

World leaders at Chavez funeral: Who’s Who of US foes ~ AFP, GlobalPost.

The gaggle of world leaders paying their last respects to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Friday features a Who’s Who list of US foes: Cuba‘s communist leader, Iran‘s nuclear provocateur and “Europe’s last dictator.”

The late firebrand leftist cultivated close ties with a slew of anti-US regimes over his 14 years in power, trading weapons and oil to form an alternative bloc against the capitalist “empire.”

His political heir, Nicolas Maduro, was instrumental in building those bonds when he served as foreign minister, and analysts expect him to keep them strong, especially with Cuba.

“This relation will deepen. It’s no secret that he was an extremely important man for the Castro brothers. They were always in favor of Maduro succeeding Chavez,” Carlos Romero, political science professor at Simon Bolivar University, told AFP.

“He’s Cuba’s man in Venezuela,” Romero said.

The state funeral will effectively be Maduro’s baptism as interim leader on the world stage, greeting dozens of presidents and prime ministers while he eyes elections expected to be called within 30 days.

Most Latin American presidents were traveling to bid farewell to Chavez, who was a leading figure in the region, forging a leftist front with like-minded leaders in Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua.

Many of them began arriving late Thursday to see Chavez lying in state in a Caracas military academy after dying Tuesday at age 58, including Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

But many European leaders were absent, sending lower-level delegations. And US President Barack Obama will be represented by the US charge d’affaires and two Democratic party politicians.

Chavez’ closest ally, Cuban President Raul Castro, arrived late Thursday, wearing a black suit to get an early glimpse of the man who kept his country’s anemic economy alive with cheap crude deliveries.

“The Venezuelan people will know how to defend his achievements, and as ever, we will be at their side,” Castro, whose bond with Chavez angered the Venezuelan opposition, said before arriving.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in a tense standoff with Washington over his country’s disputed nuclear program, mourned his friend this week as a “martyr” and a “wise and revolutionary leader.”

Chavez visited Iran 13 times while Ahmadinejad reciprocated with six visits to Venezuela. The two nations signed billions of dollars in investment agreements in recent years to build cement factories, satellites and bicycles in Venezuela.

Venezuela also enjoyed close ties with Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko, who was once dubbed “Europe’s last dictator” by the US. The two nations traded weapons and oil and Venezuela’s elite troops trained in the former Soviet state.

Until his death, Chavez defied world outrage at the conflict in Syria and continued to support embattled President Bashar al-Assad, who took to the airwaves Wednesday to lament “a great loss for me personally and the Syrian people.” But with his nation at war, Assad was not making the trip.

Despite his raucous ties with the United States, the two nations have taken tentative steps to heal relations. The two sides have run their respective embassies without ambassadors.

But Maduro has ramped up the anti-US rhetoric, expelling two US military attaches he accused of conspiring to destabilize Venezuela before announcing Chavez’s death on Tuesday.

“It was a big mistake,” said analyst Romero. “It’s not the tone Washington has. Washington seeks more stable relations. It was a moment of rage at a time that he realized President Chavez had few hours left.”

David Smilde, senior fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America, a policy group, said Maduro is considered a negotiator and more pragmatic than Chavez was, though he is also an “anti-imperialist.”

“I don’t think there’s going to be any radical changes, especially in key relationships with Cuba and other places,” Smilde told AFP.

“Chavez had emphasized having an independent foreign policy, and I think he ended up associating himself with anybody who was part of what you could call the dissenters of the West,” he said.

“He sought to do something different, for better or for worse.”

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| Venezuelans mourn. Chavismo lives! Bolivarianism is institutionalized!

Chavismo Lives!Stephen Lendman.

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Venezuelans mourn. Chavismo lives! Bolivarianism is institutionalized. 
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 Venezuelans mourn. Chavismo lives! Bolivarianism is institutionalized. 

 

Venezuelans expect no less. They want no part of their ugly past. They’ll put their bodies on the line to prevent it. They did before. They’ll do it again. 

 

Bolivarianism is policy. It’s vital to preserve. It’s polar opposite neoliberal harshness. America and Venezuela are constitutional worlds apart. More on that below.

 

On March 5, word came at 4:45PM. Vice President Nicolas Maduro announced it. “We have just received the most tragic and awful information,” he said. Hugo Chavez Frias died. “It’s a moment of deep pain.”

 

“Those who die for life can’t be called dead,” he said.

 

Supporters massed in Plaza Bolivar. It’s Caracas’ main square. “Chavez vive, la lucha sigue,” they chanted. “Chavez lives, the battle continues.”

 

“The people united will never be defeated.” Oligarchs “will never return” to the Miraflores Palace.

 

Jimmy Carter praised Chavez. Hell “be remembered for his bold assertion of autonomy and independence for Latin American governments and for his formidable communication skills and personal connection with supporters in his country and abroad to whom he gave hope and empowerment,” he said.

 

James Petras said he “was loved not only by Venezuelans but throughout Latin America” and elsewhere. He was special. He’ll be sorely missed.

 

In his last letter to Maduro, Fidel Castro said “Chavez’s name is known and respected throughout the world.” He called him the “Olympic champion of new socialist ideas.”

 

Chavez called Castro his father, mentor and friend. He’s “always been a Quixote,” he said, “but a victorious and invincible Quixote.”

 

Both men bonded years ago. They met in Havana. They did so in 1994. Chavez sought Castro’s advice. 

 

Cuba’s leader recognized a potentially important new figure. They exchanged ideas for hours. The rest is history. 

 

Fidel lives at 86. Chavez passed at 58. His 14-year presidency ended. In 30 days, new elections will be held. New leadership will be chosen. 

 

Odds strongly favor Maduro. Chavez named him his preferred successor. Expect Venezuelans to oblige overwhelmingly. They want no part of opposition oligarch rule.

 

On March 5, Granma International headlined “Death of President Hugo Chavez,” saying:

 

He “died in the hours of this Tuesday afternoon.” Maduro announced it. He called on Venezuelans “to confront the lamentable death of the President of the Republic ‘with much strength, courage and integrity.’ “

 

“We have to be more united than ever, the greatest discipline, the greatest collaboration, the greatest brotherhood and sisterhood,” he added.

 

“We are going to grow. We are going to be the worthy sons and daughters of the giant of a man that he was and how Comandante Hugo Chavez will always be in our memory.” 

 

“The victory of today is the unity of the people and peace.”

 

“Respect and peace have to go hand in hand in the immense pain of this historic tragedy which has today touched our country.”

 

Maduro urged fortitude and prayer. “From this moment on,” he said, “it is forbidden to weep.” 

 

“With Ali’s song and the spirit of Hugo Chavez, let us raise the greatest forces of this homeland to confront the difficulties it befalls us to confront.” 

 

“Our people can be assured that they have a government of men and women committed to protect them.”

 

“Honor and glory to Hugo Chavez. May he live forever.”

 

He had four cancer operations in 18 months. Death came 21 months after his first tumor was discovered. A state funeral is planned. It’ll be held Friday. Venezuelans began seven days of mourning.

 

Venezuela Solidarity Campaign Secretary Francisco Dominguez said:

 

Chavez “led the progressive transformation of Venezuela by lifting millions of its citizens from poverty – standing against social exclusion, marginalization and institutional repression – thereby restoring to them a long-overdue dignity.”

 

He improved “the (lives) of ordinary Venezuelans as no other government had ever done in the history of that South American nation.”

 

He “played a leading role in the transformation of Latin America into a progressive continent, which in the 21st century is collectively affirming the sovereignty of the nation states that make it up, and where, in different ways and through nationally-specific routes, they have been attempting to build a better world.”

 

He’ll “continue to symbolize, for decades to come, the aspirations of dignity, sovereignty, justice and a better life as fully empowered citizens, for people all around the world.” 

 

“He showed that a better world could be constructed.”

 

“Our hearts go to his family, friends, comrades, the people of Venezuela, and the people of Latin America.”

 

Hands Off Venezuela headlined “Hugo Chavez has died – long live the Venezuelan revolution.” 

 

HOF defended it for a decade. Chavez said the best way to do it is “to spread it to our own countries.” Committed people are obligated to do so. Change comes no other way.

 

Earlier on March 5, government and military officials met. They took preventative steps. They instituted measures against potential destabilization and sabotage.

 

They expelled Washington’s attache and his aide. They were up to no good. They contacted Venezuelan military personnel surreptitiously. 

 

They did so “with the aim of organizing a conspiracy against the democratically elected government.”

 

Washington conspired for years to oust Chavez. He believed America wanted him dead. 

 

He once said “If they kill me, there will be a really guilty party on this planet whose name is the president of the United States.”

 

He had Bush in mind. He knew Obama’s no different.

 

“I will not hide,” he said. “I’m going in the streets with you. I entrust myself to God, but I know that I have been condemned to die.”

 

Castro also named America earlier. “If Chavez is assassinated,” he said, “the blame will fall on Bush. I say that as someone who has survived hundreds of the empire’s (venal) plans.”

 

Obama exceeds the worst of Bush. Perhaps he marked Chavez for death. It wouldn’t surprise. 

 

He’s a war criminal multiple times over. He’s guilty of high crimes. He’s waging war on humanity. He’s beholden to monied interests. They own him. 

 

In 2011, Chavez suggested Washington’s responsibility for a “very strange” bout of cancer. It affected Latin American leaders.

 

Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s thyroid cancer was confirmed.

 

Former Brazilian President Lula Da Silva had throat cancer. Current President Dilma Rousseff battled axillar lymphoma.

 

Others affected included Colombia’s Juan Manuel Santos (prostate cancer), and Paraguay’s Fernando Lugo (lymphatic cancer).

 

Last June, Washington’s dirty hands ousted him. A parliamentary coup replaced him. America targets all independent leaders.

 

Since taking office, Chavez knew what he faced. He survived an aborted April 2002 two-day coup, a 2002-03 general strike and oil management lockout, and failed August 2004 recall election.

 

Cancer accomplished what other strategies failed. Chavez said earlier:

 

“Would it be so strange that they’ve invented the technology to spread cancer and we won’t know about it for 50 years?”

 

“Fidel always told me (to) take care. These people have developed technologies,” he said.

 

“Take care what you eat, what they give you to eat. They inject you with I don’t know what.”

 

On state television, Maduro said a “scientific commission” would examine Chavez’s death. “(H)istorical enemies” wanted him removed.

 

He left no doubt who he meant. Washington’s long arm targeted him. It did so from inception. Its rap sheet includes numerous assassinations and coups. 

 

Perhaps Chavez is America’s latest victim. It’s the oil, stupid. Venezuela has the world’s largest reserves. Washington wants total control. 

 

CIA assassins never rest. They have other targets in mind.

 

Before they’re old enough to understand, US children are taught to “pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands.”

 

They’re weaned on misinformation. What they most need to know, they’re not taught. America’s ugly history is sanitized. Its worst parts are omitted.

 

It’s a government largely of men, not laws. They lie, cheat, connive, and abuse rule of law principles. 

 

They do so ruthlessly. They do it for monied interests they serve. They profit hugely in the process.

 

America was never a democracy. It’s not one now. “We the people” include wealth and powerful interests alone. It’s been that way from inception. Believing otherwise is fantasy.

 

America’s founders today would be called a Wall Street crowd. They included bankers, lawyers, politicians, merchants, property owners, and likeminded self-servers.

 

They crafted what best suited them. Ordinary people were out of sight and mind. Things today are far worse than ever.

 

Rogue state government rules. Populism’s a dead letter. Wealth, power, privilege and dominance alone matter. 

 

Tyranny’s a hair’s breath away. Rule of law protections are null and void. Neoliberal harshness is policy.

 

Venezuela is polar opposite. Bolivarianism is policy. Chavez institutionalized it. He deserves full credit. He went where few leaders ever dared. 

 

He risked his life doing so. He lasted 14 years. He died for what he believed. He instituted benefits Venezuelans won’t surrender.

 

He let them choose. He did it by national referenda. They agreed to constitutional change. They did so overwhelmingly. Their lives improved enormously.

 

They got participatory social democracy. They have final say. They have free, fair and open elections. Jimmy Carter calls them the world’s best. 

 

America’s are farcical by comparison. Duopoly power controls things. People have no say.

 

All Venezuelans are guaranteed suffrage at birth. It’s constitutionally mandated. They’re automatically registered free of charge. 

 

They have government of, by and for everyone. They’re beholden to rule of law principles. Police state laws are verboten. Democratic ones rule. No one’s above the law. Democracies operate that way.

 

Venezuelans get benefits Americans can’t imagine. Venezuela’s oil wealth provides them. 

 

They include education to the highest levels, quality healthcare, subsidized food and housing, land reform, respect for indigenous rights, job training, micro credit, affordable electricity and cooking gas, gasoline at 5 cents a liter, and other social, economic, and political benefits. 

 

Americans get neoliberal harshness, force-fed austerity, growing poverty, high unemployment, unaddressed homelessness and hunger, and a government beholden solely to wealth and powerful interests.

 

Chavez institutionalized change. Major ones take time. He planned so much more. Maduro’s entrusted to continue what he began.

 

America’s unfit to live in. Wealth, privilege and power are prioritized. Police state laws govern. Bipartisan complicity plans much worse ahead. Venezuelans are governed by officials who care. 

 

It makes a difference. Maduro’s entrusted to continue Chavez’s mandate. Hopefully he’s up to the challenge. His background suggests so. He’s a former union leader, legislator, National Assembly Speaker and Foreign Minister. 

 

He’s now interim President. He’s charged with preserving Chavez’s legacy. Hopefully he’ll improve it. Venezuelans expect no less. In the fullness of time we’ll know.

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Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

 

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

 

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

 

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

 

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

 

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

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| What’s next? Chavez’s death leaves many questions!

What’s next? Chavez’s death leaves many questions

Lateef Mungin and Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN.

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Will Chavez death set off shock waves across region?

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(CNN) — Thousands of Venezuelans are expected to line the streets Wednesday morning as Hugo Chavez‘s remains are taken from the military hospital where he died to the Fuerte Tiuna Military Academy in Caracas.

Presidents arrived in the country for the funeral procession, including Uruguay’s Jose Mujica, Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner and Bolivia’s Evo Morales.

The country has declared seven days of mourning, closed schools for the rest of the week and deployed armed forces to “guarantee peace.”

The death of the longtime charismatic but controversial leader Tuesday leaves many unanswered questions that Venezuela and the world must now grapple with.

Who is expected to succeed Chavez?

In the short term, Vice President Nicolas Maduro will take over as president of Venezuela until an election is held. He is Chavez’s hand-picked successor and delivered the news to the country of the longtime leader’s death.

Chavez: From failed coup to presidency

Hugo Chavez’s legacy

Photos: Venezuela in transitionPhotos: Venezuela in transition

Hugo Chavez’s 2009 interview with CNN

Venezuelans remember Hugo Chavez

Photos: Celebrities and Hugo ChavezPhotos: Celebrities and Hugo Chavez

Chavez sings a tune with Larry King

Maduro, 50, has long been a high-profile face in Chavez’s administration. He rose from a career as a bus driver in Caracas to Chavez’s inner circle.

Venezuela’s interim leader thrust into spotlight

What is Maduro’s reputation?

Chavez minced no words in his support of Maduro.

“I ask this of you from my heart,” Chavez told a crowd in December about Maduro. “He is one of the young leaders with the greatest ability to continue, if I cannot.”

But other opinions are mixed.

Maduro has been Venezuela’s vice president and foreign minister and has been the recent author of some the country’s most radical policies, said Javier Corrales, a professor of political science at Amherst College in Massachusetts.

“But he also has been behind some of the most pragmatic and conciliatory decisions, including the turnaround in relations with Colombia,” Corrales said.

When will elections take place?

An election will be called within 30 days, Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said Tuesday.

What power, if any, does the opposition have?

Though Chavez has held a tight grip on his presidency for 14 years, there is an opposition movement in Venezuela.

A coalition between former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski and a group called the Democratic Unity Roundtable has made the country’s opposition the strongest it has ever been, some analysts say. But, says Carl Meacham of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the opposition may still not be strong enough.

“Capriles’ 11-point defeat in October’s presidential election, coupled with Chavez’s allies winning 20 of 23 gubernatorial elections in December, underscores the fact that the opposition still holds little power,” Meacham says.

After Chavez, a power vacuum

Will Chavez’s death improve relations with the United States?

Chavez, for years had a stormy relationship with the U.S.,and would stir up nationalistic sentiment and popularity by picking fights with the “imperialist” United States and its allies.

Senior American officials don’t expect the relationship to change dramatically — at least in the short term — primarily because Chavez’s system still exists.

He leaves the economy more equal, less stable

The post-Chavez era started out tumultuously Tuesday when Venezuelan officials accused two U.S. Embassy officials of plotting to destabilize the country and said it was expelling them.

The United States will stay out of the upcoming election, an Obama administration official said. But the White House wants it to be “free and fair and credible,” the official said.

The U.S. remains open to restoring diplomatic relations with an ambassador regardless of the winner, the official said.

U.S. open to ‘more constructive relationship’ with Venezuela

Why does the U.S. want better relations?

One reason analysts point to is Iran.

The U.S. may seek Venezuela’s help in imposing sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program, senior American officials said.

Iran and Venezuela have close relations.

Last year, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad traveled to Venezuela as part of a tour of Latin America. The two leaders vowed to work together.

Over the years, the two nations have signed more than 270 accords, including trade deals and agreements on construction projects, car and tractor factories, energy initiatives and banking programs.

The other is oil.

Will the death affect Venezuela’s oil supply?

It may, some analysts say — and that would be a huge concern for the United States.

Venezuela remains the fourth-biggest oil supplier to the U.S. market. If the power vacuum causes exports to drop, U.S. consumers could face higher prices and another hit to the U.S. economy, analysts say.

When is Chavez’s funeral planned?

Venezuela is planning a state funeral Friday that is expected to be attended by regional and world leaders and dignitaries, including Ahmadinejad. Chavez will be buried after the ceremony but officials have not said where.

What has been the reaction to the death?

Chavez allies, such as leaders of Ecuador, China, Iran and Cuba, expressed sorrow and solidarity.

Bolivian President Evo Morales’ voice cracked as he spoke to reporters, describing Chavez as someone “who gave all his life for the liberation of the Venezuelan people … of all the anti-imperialists and anti-capitalists of the world.”

Longtime critics had a different view, with some saying his death could be seen as an opportunity for change.

“At this key juncture, I hope the people of Venezuela can now build for themselves a better, brighter future based on the principles of freedom, democracy,” Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper said.

Opinions varied too among CNN readers who offered their thoughts on iReport.

“We can’t in the U.S. always looks at somebody and just label them as a dictator,” said Omekongo Dibinga, a motivational speaker from Washington DC.

“At the end of the day, he’s somebody who really wanted to help others to do better. For that he should be respected, even by those who did not agree with his policies.”

Carlos Quijada said he fled Venezuela 10 years ago as a teen because there was no future there.

“My life was completely altered because of that man. And I will not hide the fact that I am happy that he is no longer alive,” he said. “I left Venezuela because my brother got kidnapped, our house got burglarized, cars stolen, my parents had an import business and the currency control made it impossible for them to import anything anymore.”

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Chavez Death 1

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| The US is the Don Corleone of international politics!

The US is the Don Corleone of international politics

  ~ Adrian Salbuchi, RT.
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WikiLeaks recently published new documents showing that US global intelligence corporations like Stratfor worked hard in a failed attempt to overthrow Venezuela’s democratically elected president.
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A supporter of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez hangs a pair of shoes at the front of the US embassy in Caracas. (AFP Photo / Juan Baretto)

A supporter of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez hangs a pair of shoes at the front of the US embassy in Caracas. (AFP Photo / Juan Baretto)

South America – Venezuela in particular – has been the target of a coordinated campaign by the US government and private industry over the past few years. But those of us who have been paying attention know this is nothing new.

WikiLeaks recently published new documents showing that US global intelligence corporations like Stratfor and its foreign offshoot CANVAS worked hard over the past decade (aided and abetted by US Government agencies) in a failed attempt to overthrow Venezuela’s democratically elected president Hugo Chavez.

Meddling in the ‘Backyard’

The US corporate over-world has always worked closely with the CIA, the State Department and the Pentagon promoting the overthrow – known as “regime change in rogue states” – of governments that do not automatically align to US interests; or, better said, of governments that do not automatically align with the interests of the supra-national global power elite that is deeply embedded inside private and public power structures in the US.

This has been especially true throughout Latin America, traditionally America’s geopolitical and economic backyard, from Mexico to Tierra del Fuego.

For example, September 11th of this year (of all dates!) marks the 40th anniversary of the CIA-backed, financed and orchestrated overthrow and assassination of Chile’s democratically elected president, Salvador Allende.

Allende was replaced by a pro-US and pro-UK military junta headed by General Augusto Pinochet.  At the time, private corporations like ITT worked hand in hand with CIA operatives promoting strikes, social turmoil and waging psychological warfare through the local media.  Then it was Chile; now it’s Venezuela.

General Augusto Pinochet (left) poses with Chilean president and Marxist leader Salvador Allende 23 August 1973 in Santiago. (AFP Photo)

General Augusto Pinochet (left) poses with Chilean president and Marxist leader Salvador Allende 23 August 1973 in Santiago. (AFP Photo)

In fact, the 1970s and 1980s saw the Kissinger-designed and executed ‘Condor Plan’ finance and diplomatically support various military coups and regimes not only in Chile but in Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, Paraguay and other countries in the region.

Such US-UK support for authoritarian and criminal regimes would only stop when some Latin American general like Argentina’s General Leopoldo Galtieri went too far by doing something really stupid, like Argentina’s 1982 invasion of the Falkland Islands.

Relatives of Argentine soldiers who died during Argentina's 1982 war over the Falkland Islands decorate tombs at a cemetery. (AFP Photo / Angeline Montoya)

Relatives of Argentine soldiers who died during Argentina’s 1982 war over the Falkland Islands decorate tombs at a cemetery. (AFP Photo / Angeline Montoya)

Barring that, all those US-backed coups used local military strongmen trained in the US Military’s School of the Americas in Panama to do as they pleased in their local countries, as long as: (a) they kept those countries aligned to US geopolitical imperatives which during the Cold War meant being staunchly anti-Communist; (b) accepted Chicago-Boys-style financial dependency and artificially created public debts; (c) kept local populations in permanent fear and thus‘disciplined and orderly.’

Since the fall of the former Soviet Union, however, these tactics changed dramatically.  Now US control over Latin American countries is centred on promoting ‘democracy.’ Well, actually, “the kind of democracy that we want to see,” as Hillary Clinton so eloquently put it when visiting ‘Arab Spring Egypt’ back in March 2011.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (C) shakes hands with Egyptians as she takes an unannounced walk through Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the 18 days of protests that overthrew long time ally Hosni Mubarak, on March 16, 2011. (AFP Photo / Paul J. Richards)

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (C) shakes hands with Egyptians as she takes an unannounced walk through Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the 18 days of protests that overthrew long time ally Hosni Mubarak, on March 16, 2011. (AFP Photo / Paul J. Richards)

Such money-controlled democracy is, of course, no democracy at all, but rather an obscene money-sloshing and media clownery system that catapults their favourite candidates into local positions of power.

When the US has its way as in Mexico, Colombia and Chile, and their candidates win local elections, then it’s all business as usual.

But when growing political awareness among the local populace elects presidents into power who prioritize the local national interest as in Ecuador (who just re-elected their fine president Rafael Correa), Bolivia (Evo Morales) and, most notably, Venezuela with Hugo Chavez, then the ‘regime change’ mega-juggernaut comes into full action.

Public and private initiative

In America, you never know whether it’s the White House and Congress running the country and the corporate over-world, or if it’s the other way around: The corporate over-world runs the White House, Congress and the country.

Recent WikiLeaks documents released on Venezuela describes Stratfor as “a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations such as Bhopal’s Dow Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and government agencies, including the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Marines and the US Defence Intelligence Agency.”

“The emails,” WikiLeaks goes on to explain, “show Stratfor’s web of informers, pay-off structure, payment laundering techniques and psychological methods.”

The filtered emails cover a wide range of issues on the energy sector, especially oil; political change and the state of right-wing forces inside Venezuela; and the state of the country’s armed forces. They also refer to Venezuela’s relations with Cuba, China, Russia and Iran, and provide bleak projections for the economy and the financial sector.

The Serbian-based and US-supported Center for Applied Non-Violent Action and Strategies (CANVAS) is yet another such ‘global intelligence’ front of what, in practice, are organizations specializing in engineering social turmoil – even civil war – as countries like Serbia, Libya, Afghanistan and Syria have painfully learned.

The leaked emails from CANVAS had them explaining their recommended strategy for toppling governments, as in one revealing message to Stratfor:

“When somebody asks us for help, as in Vene (sic!) case, we usually ask them the question ‘and how would you do it?’. That means that the first thing is to create a situational analysis (the word doc I sent you) and after that comes “Mission Statement” (still left to be done) and then “Operational Concept”, which is the plan for campaign… For this case we have three campaigns: Unification of opposition, campaign for [September 2010 parliamentary elections] and parallel with that a ‘get out and vote’ campaign.”

Very straightforward!

Stratfor Global Intelligence CEO George Friedman (AFP Photo/Ronaldo Schemidt)

Stratfor Global Intelligence CEO George Friedman (AFP Photo/Ronaldo Schemidt)

Stratfor’s founder and chairman is one George Friedman, who is regularly interviewed in the Wall Street Journal, CNBC and CNN and is advisor to JPMorganChase, CitiGroup and Ernst & Young.  Stratfor’s president & CEO is Shea Morenz, who for many years was a senior officer at Goldman Sachs.  Not exactly corporations and megabanks bent on promoting the common good of the people of Venezuela, or of any other country in Latin America or elsewhere.

Clearly, there are no sharp lines separating these private intelligence publishers and analysts, think tanks like the Council on Foreign Relations, RAND Corporation, National Endowment for Democracy and major corporations, from public US-Government agencies like the CIA, NSA, USAID and the State Department.

In fact, throughout Latin America, lucid political observers will always keep an eye on what ‘La Embajada’ is up to. ‘La Embajada’ is Spanish for ‘The Embassy’ –  not just any embassy, of course, but the local Embassy of the United States.

No surprise then to learn that this batch of WikiLeaks documents reveals US-based firms working to overthrow Hugo Chavez by assisting and financing opposition candidates like Henrique Capriles Radonsky, who was Chavez’s main opposition candidate, coming in second place in last year’s presidential elections.

Venezuela's Democratic Unity coalition presidential candidates Capriles Radonsky. (AFP Photo / Juan Barreto)

Venezuela’s Democratic Unity coalition presidential candidates Capriles Radonsky. (AFP Photo / Juan Barreto)

Capriles Radonsky is strongly backed by US, European and Israeli  interests, thanks to his notable alignment to those countries’ objectives in Venezuela and the region.  Of Jewish background – in a country with a very tiny Jewish community – Radonsky promises to steer Venezuela away from the close ties forged by Chavez with Iran, Cuba, Russia, China and (until it was overrun and destroyed by NATO) also Libya.

Due to President Chavez’s ailing health, this public-private US initiative is again hard at work promoting all opposition forces inside Venezuela, whilst they eagerly await good news (for them) about president Chavez’s condition, hoping that he may have to relinquish the presidency he won late last year, which would mean new elections in a Venezuela without Chavez.

That would spell real tragedy for that country, as the US public-private initiative would again go into full ‘lets-get-our-boy-into-the-Miraflores-presidential-palace-in-Caracas’ Mode.

Supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gather at Simon Bolivar Square in Caracas. (AFP Photo / Juan Baretto)

Supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gather at Simon Bolivar Square in Caracas. (AFP Photo / Juan Baretto)

A tragedy not just for Venezuela but for the entire region as well, where the US continues holding full sway in countries like Colombia – whose president Juan Manuel Santos is a member of the Rockefeller-funded, New York-based ‘Americas Society’ that promotes in-roads into Latin America for the powerful Council on Foreign Relations, whose head office is just across the street from them on Park Avenue at 57th Street. And Mexico recently elected pro-US rich-boy Enrique Peña Nieto as president. Two countries where it’s business as usual.

‘Make it look like a democratic election’

In advising on how to engineer destabilisation, CANVAS told Stratfor, that “We only give them the tools to use.” Referring to the 2010 parliamentary elections, they wrote, “This year we are definitely ramping up activity in Venezuela… they have elections in September and we are in close connection with activists from there and people trying to help them (please keep this to yourself for now, no publication). The first phase of our preparation is under way.”

So, this is “the kind of democracy the US wants to see.” Or, as Don Corleone in ‘The Godfather’would recommend to agents and operatives if he sat in the State Department or the CIA: “Make it look like a democratic election.” 

Maybe Corleone’s best disciples are actually running the show after all.

AFP Photo / Geraldo Caso

AFP Photo / Geraldo Caso

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Kissinger A Hegemony A

War Zio 3 WMD Collage Manning Salute

| NYT: Great Paper. Great Propaganda Organ!

Great Paper. Great Propaganda Organ. ~ Edward S. HermanZMag

On October 11, 2011, Paul Krugman asserted on his blog that he had the privilege of writing two columns a week for “the world’s greatest newspaper,” the New York Times (NYT). The NYT is surely an outstanding paper, with exceptionally wide scope, many good journalists on board and publishing many interesting and enlightening articles. But if the standard by which we judge greatness is the quality of its service to the public interest, to the 99 percent who don’t own or advertise in newspapers or TV networks, or control or benefit directly and heavily from other corporate and financial entities, and/or exercise substantial influence on governments, the paper’s greatness is debatable.

 

In fact, a case can be made that the NYT is the world’s greatest—or at least most important—organ of state propaganda. Because of its great prestige, its being pegged as a “liberal” newspaper, and the paper’s allowing just enough dissent to give the appearance of balance and to make its most serious apologetics seem credible, the general public is not aware of how often and how effectively the paper serves the imperial state, normalizing U.S. imperial ventures and putting them in a favorable light—and providing systematic apologetics for abuses by it favored clients. The editors even belatedly admitted their war-supportive bias in the run-up to the UN Charter-violating and lie-based Iraq war. They are clearly doing the same in the case of Iran, where the paper has had almost daily accounts of Iran’s alleged moves toward nuclear weapons capability, while working on the premise that Israel’s (and the U.S.’s) actual nuclear weapons, and almost daily and credible threats, are perfectly acceptable and understandable and don’t even constitute essential context in discussing the Iran menace.

 

The paper has preserved its high reputation even as it has been repeatedly guilty of serious failures in its basic newspaper function, at huge social cost. The classic illustration is provided in their own editorial “The Lie That Wasn’t Shot Down” (ed., June 18, 1988), which acknowledged that their earlier furious news-editorial-propaganda barrage of 1983 claiming a deliberate and knowing Soviet destruction of the civilian Korean airliner 007 was based on a lie. Significantly, the counter-evidence cited in the five-years-late editorial was not uncovered by the paper’s own staff, but by a congressperson’s inquiry. So they swallowed an official lie that served the official party-line and the ongoing process of demonization of the “evil empire,” but despite all their resources never got around to examining whether it was valid.

 

When this great newspaper is in a propaganda mode, which is often, and especially where foreign policy and “national security” matters are at issue, their biases are frequently blatant and even amusing. This can often be read in their word usage and headline policy which discloses their bias at a glance. For example, their party-line hostility to Hugo Chavez has been steadfast, and even led them to editorialize in favor of the soon to be aborted 2002 coup d’etat, with the editors claiming that “Venezuelan democracy is no longer threatened by a would-be dictator. Mr. Chavez, a ruinous demagogue, [who] stepped down after the military intervened and handed power to a respected business leader, Pedro Carmona” (ed., “Hugo Chavez Departs,” April 13, 2002).

 

The editors quickly changed their minds as the coup was reversed and the editors were subjected to sharp criticism for unprincipled behavior, acknowledging that Chavez’s “forced departure last week drew applause at home and in Washington…which we shared, [but] overlooked the undemocratic manner in which he was removed. Forcibly unseating a democratically elected leader, no matter how badly he has performed, is never something to cheer” (ed., “Venezuela’s Political Turbulence,” April 16, 2002). But the editors had cheered it, and had misrepresented the facts: the “ruinous demagogue” didn’t “step down,” his performance had not been “ruinous” as had been, for example, Yeltsin’s in Russia, lauded by the editors, and ending democracy does not terminate a threat to democracy, either in Venezuela in 2002 or Chile on 9/11/73.

 

The incident revealed that the establishment party-line bias of NYT editors runs deeper than their commitment to democracy. More recently, William Neuman’s “Chavez, After Treatment for Cancer, Gets His Bluster Back and Flaunts It” (January 22, 2012) is a simple and easily replicable illustration of the institutionalized presence of an anti-Chavez bias. “Bluster” and “flaunts” are snarl words that the paper wouldn’t use for high-level U.S. or UK politicians, but are standard for Chavez.

 

This kind of language would also not be used to describe Argentinian state terrorists during the years of military rule (1976-1983) or Augusto Pinochet in Chile, at least during the time when they were in power (see my The Real Terror Network). It was amusing to see that the December 11, 2006 NYT obituary for Pinochet by Jonathan Kandell was entitled “Augusto Pinochet, 91, Dictator Who Ruled by Terror in Chile, Dies.” While he was in power, the NYT very rarely referred to him as a “dictator” and I don’t believe they ever said that he “ruled by terror.” But with Pinochet dead and long out of power, the paper can combine “dictator” and “rule by terror” in the very title of an article on him.

 

The official party-line is now hostile to Vladimir Putin and surely not because of any undemocratic or corruption factors, which were perfectly acceptable and even encouraged in the Yeltsin and early Putin years, with the editors describing Yeltsin’s 1996 electoral victory as “A Victory for Russian Democracy” (July 4, 1996), which it certainly wasn’t, but it was a triumph of a man who was taking our orders. No, Putin’s problem is his decline in willingness to take orders and, notably, his resistance to the U.S.-NATO push for clienthood and subservience on a global basis, with Russia, like China, constituting an alternative potential center of power. The result is that the NYT selects as newsworthy, and pushes anything, that will now put Putin in a bad light.

 

Thus, the trial and imprisonment of the “Pussy Riot” trio in 2012 is given intensive, page-one coverage, with a characteristic slant and misinterpretation that meets the political demands for denigration, including outrage that a mere “stunt” attacking Putin results in a jail sentence (David M. Herszenhorn, “Anti-Putin Stunt Earns Punk Band Two Years in Jail,” August 18, 2012). That it was carried out in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral, which invited police action and that it was a police action sought by church authorities, rather than political officials, is buried.

 

The subtitle is “Trial of Three Women Put Intense Focus on Free Speech.” But “Pussy Riot” members had carried out other actions elsewhere without jailing as had many others, so was it a challenge to free speech in Russia or was it a stunt that could be mobilized by anti-Putin (and pro-Western) forces as part of a larger propaganda campaign? Does this case tell us anything useful about free speech in Russia?

 

Isn’t it amazing to see it taken up by Amnesty International (AI), Avaaz, and Human Rights Watch (HRW) with such aggressiveness? AI and HRW neglected the important case of Julian Assange and the serious official U.S. campaign against whistleblowers and contributors of ”material aid” (undefined) to terrorists (see Diana Johnstone, “Pussy Riot and Amnesty International: The Decline of Political Protest,” Counterpunch, August 28, 2012). Would the NYTever give such intensive and positive publicity to Americans interrupting church services to make a political point or carrying out illegal acts of protest againstU.S. training-of-state-terrorists pro- grams at the School of Americas or nuclear weapons facilities?

 

The Moscow protests against Putin have not only been featured heavily in theNYT, with photos, but here also you can find language that is reserved for propaganda service. Thus, a rally in Moscow is described as “vast” with a crowd of tens of thousands (the organizers claimed 120,000) and a challenge to Putin’s authority, all within a single headline (Ellen Barry and Michael Schwirtz, “Vast Rally in Moscow Is a Challenge to Putin’s Power,” December 24, 2011). The same Times reporters write that, “After Election Putin Faces Challenges to Legitimacy” (March 5, 2012). Putin received a larger percentage of the votes than did Bush or Obama, but you will not find the NYT mentioning any challenge to an elected U.S. president’s “legitimacy.” Such language is reserved for hostiles.

 

The NYT has long been unfriendly to labor unions and in favor of “reform” here and across the globe, “reform” meaning “flexible” labor markets and more compliant or disappeared unions. This may strike people as implausible given the liberalism of the paper, but it is an establishment newspaper. While it expresses regret that inequality has grown so great and it may oppose crude attacks on labor, still the underlying forces damaging labor and escalating inequality have been openly supported. The Times’s leading liberal for many years, Anthony Lewis, was enthused that Margaret Thatcher had put labor in its place and he and the editors both supported the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement and castigated labor for opposing it.

 

The Times had only modest and scattered coverage of the Reagan-business community attacks on organized labor in the 1980s, even though many of these attacks were in violation of the law, and although they were badly weakening an important civil society institution that protects ordinary citizens both in the workplace and political arena and was arguably essential to a real rather than nominal democracy. Business Week wrote in 1994 that “over the past dozen years…U.S. industry has conducted one of the most successful union wars ever,” assisted by “illegally firing thousands of workers for exercising their right to organize.” But you would hardly know this reading the New York Times (or for that matter its mainstream colleagues).

 

I was still intrigued to see a recent Times article by Liz Alderman with the title “Italy Wrestles With Rewriting Its Stifling Labor Laws” (August 11, 2012), with the word stifling repeated on the continuation page. The article rests almost entirely on the claims by members of one Italian family business of their multiple difficulties: that they won’t hire because they can’t fire workers in a business downturn; that they can’t fire for theft without an airtight case; that taxes to support an “extensive social welfare net” are burdensome; and workers can stay on three years beyond retirement age even if superior and cheaper replacements are available.

 

No contesting or qualifying sources are introduced, so that the benefits of these laws and taxes to workers are not mentioned and evaluated. Only the costs to business and their further macro effects are deemed relevant. “Italy” and theNYT want “reform.”

 

The New York Times is a great newspaper, but arguably this very fact helps make it a great instrument for the engineering of consent to lots of problematic and sometimes very nasty policies and pieces of reality.

Z


Edward S. Herman is a media critic, economist, and author of  numerous books, including The Politics of Genocide (with David Petersen).

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