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Guaido Representative Threatens FBI Investigation Into Journalists Exposing Her Dealings

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 07/07/2020 - 5:38am in

Vanessa Neumann, the U.K. ambassador of self-declared President of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó, claims that she is working closely with the FBI in an investigation exposing a “transnational criminal network” of journalists, including John McEvoy, Pablo Navarette, independent outlet Venezuelanalysis and former MintPress News contributor Camila Escalante.

From the Twitter account of her communications firm, Asymmetrica, Neumann said that the four sources were involved in a “criminal conspiracy” supporting Venezuelan vice-president Delcy Rodriguez. “There is a price on your head” she informed them, “welcome to the rule of law, guys.”

Neumann was tweeting from an organizational account because earlier she tweeted “death to Maduro!” from her personal account. After serious pushback online she claimed she had been hacked, she also claimed that “disseminating false information,” by which she appears to mean commenting on or retweeting her “death to Maduro” outburst, is a crime that the FBI is looking into.

MintPress spoke with McEvoy today, who seemed baffled by the affair, saying:

The accusations made against myself and other journalists by Asymmetrica, owned by Juan Guaidó’s UK representative Vanessa Neumann, are at once serious and laughable. Without basis, Neumann has accused various journalists of forming part of a ‘transnational crime network’ and ‘hacking’ her Twitter account, adding that there is a ‘price on your head’. This is no way for anybody, let alone a ‘diplomat’, to behave – and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office should now seriously reconsider its recognition of her in the UK.”

Using documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, McEvoy, an investigative journalist, had recently revealed how Neumann was secretly meeting with the U.K. government to coordinate the overthrow of Maduro and discuss a “reconstruction” plan that promoted the interests of British corporations in a Guaidó-led Venezuela, adding fuel to speculation that this is an attempt to silence journalists.

 

Juan Guaidó’s tenuous claim to power

The United Kingdom is one of the key supporters of Guaidó, who proclaimed himself president of Venezuela in January 2019, despite never standing for the position. He maintains he is the legitimate head of state despite only 3 percent of the Venezuelan population recognizing him as such. In January, he parted ways with the ironically-named Popular Will party. Last week a U.K. court rejected President Maduro’s attempts to access his country’s $1 billion gold reserves held in the Bank of England on the grounds that Guaidó was the legitimate ruler of Venezuela, a decision compared to modern piracy by many. It was also revealed that Donald Trump used at least $601 million of confiscated Venezuelan money to build his border wall with Mexico.

There is bipartisan support for Guaidó in Washington as well. On July 3, Venezuela’s Independence Day, the State Department announced that it “remains committed to supporting Venezuela’s peaceful, democratic transition and free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections.” Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden released an almost identical statement: “On this Venezuelan Independence Day, my thoughts are with Venezuelans who continue to work tirelessly for the cause of democracy. It’s time for free and fair elections so that the Venezuelan people can turn the page on the corrupt and repressive Maduro regime,” he wrote. Guaidó was a guest of honor at Trump’s State of the Union address in February, where he received a standing ovation from Democrats and Republicans alike. A May poll of Venezuelans found only 4.1 percent believed Guaidó was capable of governing the country.

The U.S. and U.K. have not managed to convince the international community to recognize Guaidó, nor to overthrow the Maduro administration, despite many attempts. The two countries have supported at least six separate coup attempts by Guaidó since January 2019, all of which have failed. In May, a group of mercenaries led by ex-Green Berets attempted an amphibious invasion of the country, intending to shoot their way to the presidential palace. However, the highly trained, well-armed fighters were immediately overpowered by a handful of disgruntled members of the House of Socialist Fishermen collective in the sleepy coastal village of Chuao, the event being christened the “Bay of Piglets” fiasco by the New Yorker. Leaked documents show that Guaidó had agreed that the mercenaries were allowed to kill anyone they pleased and that, after the coup, they were to become leaders in his private death squad, suppressing any dissent to his rule. In joining the coup, the mercenaries were attempting to collect a $15 million bounty the U.S. government had placed on Maduro’s head, the soldiers believing they had Washington’s approval to do so.

It is in this context that McEvoy found Neumann’s choice of words so distasteful. “To say that there is a ‘price on your head’ is especially sinister given the very real price that the U.S., in collaboration with the Venezuelan opposition, has put on the heads of Venezuelan officials,” he told MintPress. “It seems that no amount of scandals, crises, and violent acts can dissuade these organizations from associating with the Venezuelan opposition. The next time Neumann feels the urge to take to Twitter to attack U.K.- and Latin America-based journalists, I would advise her to refrain, and avoid embarrassing herself any further.”

Few people seem to believe Neumann. Indeed, her attacks have shocked and alienated even strong critics of the Maduro administration who applauded the U.S. sanctions. “Let me see if I understand. As part of a struggle against an undemocratic government that uses false accusations and judicial harassment against its opponents, Juan Guaidó’s ambassador to the U.K. Vanessa Neumann is not trying to weaponize the FBI to harass and intimidate her critics?” asked David Smilde of the Washington Office on Latin America. Seeing as her claims appear to be backfiring, perhaps the best course of action would be to claim her account was hacked again. It would be in keeping with the bluff-heavy Guaidó playbook.

Editor’s note | A previous version of this article stated that Juan Guaidó was expelled from the Popular Will party, the wording has been changed to reflect the fact that Guaidó resigned from the party. We regret the error.

Feature photo | Vanessa Neumann is pictured with disgraced Trump advisor John Bolton in Aug, 2019. Photo | @vanessaneumann

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post Guaido Representative Threatens FBI Investigation Into Journalists Exposing Her Dealings appeared first on MintPress News.

Police Attacking Protestors, Journalists and Doctors While Defending Racist Attackers

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 10/06/2020 - 1:40am in

A man in a black sedan car barrels towards a large Seattle demonstration protesting the killing of George Floyd. After he stops, he gets out and shoots a protestor at point blank range. The crowd scatters in terror. The man, still brandishing his weapon, casually walks through the mayhem towards the line of police, and is apprehended without incident. The police surround him, facing the crowd, shielding him from a non-existent threat, apparently totally unconcerned at turning their backs on an armed terrorist who just shot someone. Police did not take the hero who might have saved lives by accosting him to hospital: that was left to the fire department. After the incident, the police began shooting at the crowd who had just survived the terror attack.

In Bakersfield, California, a drug trafficking white supremacist hit and killed protestor Robert Forbes, an African-American. Police refused to arrest or handcuff him, allowing him to smoke a cigarette while they protected him from angry protesters. Police claimed Forbes’ injuries (which he died from) were only “moderate to major,” and blamed the protestors themselves for causing the crash by being in the road. According to local media, the driver has still not been arrested.

Police themselves have been guilty of mowing down protestors with their vehicles. In New York City, multiple incidents of NYPD cars running over protestors have been caught on camera. Demonstrators in Brooklyn had placed a yellow road barrier between themselves and a stationary police car. A second police cruiser accelerates into the crowd, knocking multiple people to the ground before fleeing. The first car follows suit, driving into yet more people. On Saturday evening, a second incident involving the NYPD driving into crowds of protestors also occurred.

Historically, it has been law enforcement that escalated race riots, rather than protestors themselves, while MintPress reported that police across the country are doing the same, smashing windows and making “white power” gestures at demonstrators protesting racist policing. A study by The Intercept found that police have been “responsible for the vast majority of assaults on journalists.” This has included shooting reporters in the face with rubber bullets and arresting others live on television.

Medical workers have also been a target of police repression. Last weekend, the NYPD attacked 32-year-old African-American hospital worker Rayne Valentine as he was leaving his job, kicking and beating his head in until he lay unmoving in the fetal position. Valentine had to return to the same hospital he had just left, his co-workers putting seven staples in his head to stop the bleeding. Valentine himself later suggested the police may have only stopped beating him because they saw his bloodied hospital identification card.

“By arresting and charging healthcare workers in the midst of the COVID pandemic, the police have proven once again that their purpose is not ‘to protect and to serve’ the people, but rather, to protect the ruling class and private property and uphold white supremacy by terrorizing black and brown communities,” wrote two local activist groups in Left Voice, “The NYPD is the most well-funded and organized gang in the city, protected by their ‘union,’ the Fraternal Order of Police, which defends racist killer cops at every instance,” they added.

Between 2013 and 2019, 99 percent of police killings resulted in no officer being charged. Fewer still resulted in a conviction. In 2019, law enforcement killed over 1,000 people, and there were only 27 days where police did not kill someone in the United States. Black people are three times more likely to be shot than white people, with a number of police departments, including Las Vegas, Anaheim, St. Louis, Oklahoma City and Scottsdale, killing black men at a higher frequency than the U.S. murder rate. Cops are legally allowed to have sex with people in their custody in 35 states, further speaking to a culture of immunity within police departments.

While many have been appalled by what they see as unjustifiable police brutality, this culture gives law enforcement themselves a totally different viewpoint. After a Buffalo cop was fired for pushing a 75-year-old chemo patient to the ground, his head immediately cracking and blood pouring onto the street, the entire city’s emergency response team resigned en masse in protest. Meanwhile, Philadelphia police inspector Joe Bologna was given a standing ovation from his fellow officers as he turned himself in on police brutality charges stemming from a video showing him attacking a 21-year-old with his club, beating him in the head.

Incidents like these led journalist Jason Koslowski to state that, “police violence isn’t a glitch in the system – it is the system,” arguing that their role in society is to defend reactionary forces and persecute those trying to change the system. Thus, political actors will be treated very differently by the forces of repression, depending on what they stand for, with killers and even racist terrorists treated more leniently than those peacefully protesting racist violence.

Police, therefore, will be extremely alarmed at a veto-proof majority of the Minneapolis City Council pledging to completely dismantle the “not reformable” police force. In Minneapolis, at least, cops’ days may be numbered.

Feature photo | Delaware State Rep. Sherry Frost tweeted this photo of a New Hampshire State Trooper fist-bumping a member of an armed group of counter-protesters.

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post Police Attacking Protestors, Journalists and Doctors While Defending Racist Attackers appeared first on MintPress News.

Murdoch Hacks Now Begging People to Buy Papers

Okay, no sooner had I put up my piece earlier today arguing that the reason the Scum’s journo, Trevor Kavanagh, wanted the lockdown lifted was because it was causing Murdoch’s papers to lose money, then confirmation of a sort came. Zelo Street had put up a piece reporting that various hacks from the Scum and the Times had written pieces begging people to #buyapaper. They included the Scum’s political editor, Tom Newton Dunn, Jack Blackburn of the Thunderer, Mark Lawton, another Times hack, the Scum on Sunday’s political editor, David Wooding, Sathnam Sangera, Matt Chorley, Martyn Ziegler, all of the Times, and the Scum’s Ryan Sabey and Dan Wootton. They said that the press was in trouble, but journalists, production staff, printers and distributors were all working hard during the crisis to bring us all trusted information, not myths. We would all miss the papers if they vanished. That included the local papers, whom they condescended to mention were also experiencing problems.

Zelo Street commented at the end of this litany that in times like these, people realised what was essential and what was not. ‘A daily paper is rapidly falling into the latter category, especially when, unlike the claims of the Murdoch goons, it is bringing not trusted stories, but an incessant diet of bigotry, hatred, political propaganda, and worthless and uninformed punditry.

Our free and fearless press is bottom of the European trust league. The Murdoch titles play their full part in that ranking. Karma can be a beast sometimes.’

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/04/murdoch-goons-pass-begging-bowl.html

This is correct. I think Zelo Street, or perhaps one of the other left-wing blogs, has put up the stats for the most trusted, and trustworthy, papers in Europe. And they don’t include Britain’s. Murdoch’s own papers have been leading the decline in quality in the British press since he acquired the Herald in 1969 or thereabouts, and turned it from a quality socialist paper into a Tory propaganda rag. Murdoch’s journalistic standards were so low that his staff in New York and Australia went on strike against the way his direction for their journals had turned them into a laughing stock. But Murdoch ploughed on, and the malign influence he exerted through his press and media empire has contributed to Britain becoming a spiteful, hateful place for ethnic minorities, the disabled, and the unemployed, low paid and other folks on welfare. Murdoch’s not alone by any means. The Heil, Depress, and Torygraph have all played their part. But the Scum has become proverbial for its gutter journalism.

This country does have some very good journalists – Mike is one, obviously. But its newspapers are disgusting. Many of them are effectively kept running by unpaid interns and freelance staff, whom they try to find every means they can not to pay. According to the Eye, the worst newspaper for using interns was the Groaniad. Meanwhile, the name hacks get salaries in the tens of thousands, and the proprietors and board all give themselves very handsome salaries and bonuses. As for content, it’s almost entirely shameless Tory propaganda. That, in my view, reached a new nadir last year in the massive smear campaign against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters, in which Mike and very many others were libelled and smeared as anti-Semites and Nazis. This included decent, self-respected Jews like Jackie Walker. This all comes from Murdoch himself, although I very much doubt he personally ordered any of it. It’s just the direction he’s taken these papers from the start. He is reported to have a very cavalier attitude to libel. Apparently he isn’t deterred from publishing a libelous story by the mere fact that it is libelous, only by whether the fine from a successful prosecution would be more than the sales gained through publishing it. If the number of copies sold wouldn’t be worth more than the fine, the story’s spiked. If the sales and the profits from them are more, then he goes ahead. And heaven help the poor soul at the other end.

According to the Eye, the Times is losing money hand over fist. So much so, that if it were any other paper it would have been axed or sold years ago. But it’s Britain’s paper of record, and so gives Murdoch a place at the political table. Murdoch’s empire as a whole is also in dire financial trouble. Zelo Street a little while ago put up a piece about what News International’s published accounts showed, and instead of a tidy profit they showed a massive, staggering loss. Some of that is due to the fines and out of court settlements Murdoch has had to make for the phone hacking scandal. I’ve forgotten the precise figures, but it’s tens of millions – a truly eye-watering amount.

The Murdoch press’ concern for local papers is also, as you might guess, hypocritical. Going back to Private Eye again, that paper reported in its ‘Street Of Shame’ column that in terms of sales, local papers are actually doing rather well. They’re bucking the decline in newspaper sales. However, they’re under immense financial pressure to the point where many are folding because they’re owned by the same corporations who own the big national papers, and their profits are being used to keep the national papers going.

Now many businesses are suffering because of the crisis and the necessary lockdown, especially small businesses like local shops and the self-employed. Many of these are seriously worried, because they don’t qualify for the government’s promised payment of 80 per cent of their income. Or if they do, it’ll come too late, as the first payment will come in June. But I have little sympathy for the Tory press because of their role in cheering on and propagandising for 40 years of Thatcherism and the poverty, unemployment, and now starvation they’ve caused. All for the profit of the rich few.

If Murdoch’s squalid empire went under tomorrow, it would just be too bad. Except that the people who’d suffer would be the junior writers, the production staff, printers and distributors. The big, star writers, editors and management, including Murdoch himself and his family, would all get generous payouts for their part in degrading British culture and its working paper for all these decades.