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RMT are striking for all of us: let’s get behind them  - News from the Frontline

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 28/05/2022 - 3:09am in

Counterfire’s weekly digest with the latest on strikes and workplace struggles

MSM Offers Rare Glimpse Into How Bad Things Are Really Going For Ukrainian Forces

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 27/05/2022 - 11:16pm in

Tags 

peace, News, Media, War

Listen to a reading of this article:

https://medium.com/media/ef04aba49c3a375d62338e0bbc1f7a3a/href

While everyone’s focused on the latest mass shooting in the US, The Washington Post published what may be the first major acknowledgement from the mainstream western media that Ukraine’s war against Russia has not been nearly the cakewalk they’ve been leading the public to believe.

In a new article titled “Ukrainian volunteer fighters in the east feel abandoned,” WaPo reports that contrary to the triumphant narratives the western world is being spoon fed, many troops in eastern Ukraine have been surviving on one potato per day and deserting their posts because they feel their leaders have turned their backs on them and they’re being sent to certain death.

“Stuck in their trenches, the Ukrainian volunteers lived off a potato per day as Russian forces pounded them with artillery and Grad rockets on a key eastern front line. Outnumbered, untrained and clutching only light weapons, the men prayed for the barrage to end,” The Washington Post reports, citing multiple named sources.

“Ukrainian leaders have projected and nurtured a public image of military invulnerability — of their volunteer and professional forces triumphantly standing up to the Russian onslaught,” the article reads. “But the experience of Lapko and his group of volunteers offers a rare and more realistic portrait of the conflict and Ukraine’s struggle to halt the Russian advance in parts of Donbas. Ukraine, like Russia, has provided scant information about deaths, injuries or losses of military equipment. But after three months of war, this company of 120 men is down to 54 because of deaths, injuries and desertions.”

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WaPo reports that volunteer troops in that part of the country “quickly found themselves in the crosshairs of war, feeling abandoned by their military superiors and struggling to survive.”

“We are being sent to certain death,” said one volunteer. “We are not alone like this, we are many.”

“Hours after The Post interviewed Lapko and Khrus, members of Ukraine’s military security service arrived at their hotel and detained some of their men, accusing them of desertion,” WaPo reports. “The men contend that they were the ones who were deserted.”

Some commentators have remarked on the fact that at long last we’re seeing some realistic coverage of this war in the mainstream press.

“First major US media I’ve seen to report catastrophic condition of Ukrainian forces, collapsing Ukrainian morale on the front. Seems obvious we should know the truth about a war our government is so deeply invested in,” tweeted journalist Mark Ames, a frequent critic of the mass media blackout on conditions in the Ukrainian military.

“This might be the first article in a mainstream publication that punctures the PR spin and secrecy of the foreign military that the US is subsidizing. Two commanders were arrested after they spoke to the Washington Post, painting an extremely grim picture,” tweeted journalist Michael Tracey.

This is indeed a major break from standard mainstream reporting on this conflict, which is normally more in line with this recent Newsweek article titled “Putin’s Elite Soldiers Getting Wiped Out as Russia Makes Mistakes — U.K.,” sourced entirely in unevidenced claims by the British government and the military industrial complex-funded neocon think tank Institute for the Study of War.

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So anyway, there it is. That’s the reality on the front lines of this conflict that westerners have been cheering on from their comfortable homes while calling anyone who advocates a negotiated peace settlement a Putin apologist and a Kremlin troll.

These big brave sofa warriors have been on social media demanding that Ukrainians keep fighting in this way until they’ve secured total victory over Russia and reclaimed Crimea and the Donbas, tweeting “Slava Ukraini” with their little blue-and-yellow flag emojis during the commercial breaks of their favorite TV show in between mouthfuls of Funyuns.

Westerners would be a lot less cavalier about demanding a foreign population keep fighting until total victory if they truly understood the horrors of war. Unfortunately there’s a propaganda machine of unprecedented sophistication that has spent generations preventing them from obtaining that very understanding.

That’s why they’re so happy to throw endless Ukrainian lives into the gears of the imperial war machine, and that’s why the WaPo article we are discussing here is receiving very little mainstream attention online as of this writing. It will be dismissed and ignored by empire managers and their brainwashed flock with a “Hmm, you just can’t hire good cannon fodder these days.”

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There’s no real reckoning with exactly what’s happening and exactly what these people are being called on to put themselves through. In the children’s crayon drawing version of this war that lives in the heads of western so-called centrists, this is a team of heroic Good Guys righteously beating the tar out of hordes of Bad Guys because that’s what happens in the movies and on TV.

But this is not the movies, and this is not TV. People are dying in a US proxy war that was deliberately provoked by the US-centralized empire, and behind all the narratives and spin they are ultimately doing so for nothing more noble than the agenda to secure US unipolar hegemony.

Many of the blue-and-yellow flag wavers are well-intentioned, and really do think they are advocating for Ukrainian freedom and sovereignty. But in reality all they’ve been cheering for is Ukrainian subservience and enslavement to the empire, Ukrainian death, Ukrainian suffering, and the continuation of a dangerous proxy war between nuclear superpowers that threatens the life of everyone on earth.

___________________

My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following me on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud or YouTube, or throwing some money into my tip jar on Ko-fi, Patreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy my books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. All works co-authored with my American husband Tim Foley.

Bitcoin donations:1Ac7PCQXoQoLA9Sh8fhAgiU3PHA2EX5Zm2

Featured image via Pixabay.

Has America Tried Bombing Its Mass Shooting Problem? Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 26/05/2022 - 10:36am in

Listen to a reading of this article:

https://medium.com/media/29150e873042879997a3495a552bff1a/href

Oh cool it’s the part of the news cycle where Democrats and Republicans pretend something’s going to change about American gun laws for a few days.

“It’s a gun control problem!”

“Nuh-uh it’s a mental health problem!”

[Nothing changes about gun laws or mental health care]

[Repeat]

There’s probably a correlation between the fact that the US is the only nation with a mass shooting epidemic and the fact that Americans are the most aggressively propagandized population on earth.

If you took any armed population and psychologically pummelled them from birth with narratives about how mass military slaughter is fine while turning them into underpaid, alienated gear-turners and giving them an artificial culture mass-produced in Los Angeles, you’d probably see some mass shootings.

There’s only so far you can warp the human psyche before it snaps. Bash hundreds of millions of people in the brain their entire lives with indoctrination programs telling them madness is sanity and sanity is madness, and eventually a few of them are going to wind up mass murderers.

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It’s surely not a coincidence that the nation which serves as the hub of a globe-spanning empire that’s held together by mass murder and war propaganda and mass-scale psychological manipulation is the only nation with a mass shooting epidemic. But this will never be studied.

It will never be studied because empire is invisible to mainstream science and social psychology, in the same way it’s invisible to mainstream media, mainstream politics, and mainstream academia. The empire is not even acknowledged to exist within the spheres of mainstream thought, and this is a deliberately engineered reality. The spheres of mainstream thought which prevent people from understanding that we are dominated by an unacknowledged empire which stretches across nations and influences our lives more than virtually anything else our attention is diverted to are actively influenced by that very empire.

We are all marinating in the US-centralized empire: its influence, its propaganda, its artificially manufactured culture, its ways of thinking. We’re so immersed in it we can’t see it. It’s like water for fish to us. So we won’t see any research into its influence on the collective psyche.

It’s weird how every US president is expected to say something after a mass shooting when US presidents are always orders of magnitude more murderous than the act they’re decrying.

“Who’s the one person we should look to after a horrific mass murder? Oh how about the head of the most murderous power structure on earth whose very existence depends on nonstop mass murder?”

Everyone shit their guts out for weeks when Trump made some asinine tweets about North Korea but Biden repeatedly threatening direct hot war with China while waging a world-threatening proxy war against Russia is just fine normal stuff.

In terms of contemporary analysis of conflict and strategy, Henry Kissinger hasn’t been one of the world’s worst war hawks for decades. This is true not because he has gotten less psychopathic, but because everyone else in Washington has gotten more so.

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Yes Henry Kissinger is a war criminal. Yes Henry Kissinger is a psychopath. Yes the world will be better off when it is finally disencumbered of him. And, also, the US foreign policy establishment has grown much, much more insane than Henry Kissinger.

The US empire has been using impoverished human beings from the Global South as testing animals and target practice for its instruments of war in preparation for much larger military confrontations that it has long been planning for.

You’ve got to graduate from an Ivy League university and read all the latest reports from the most esteemed think tanks to get smart enough to understand why it’s a good idea to fight Russia and China at the same time.

If there was a giant multitrillion-dollar corporation that was allowed to kill anyone it wants to secure its success, its behavior would not be functionally different from that of the US empire.

I never give mainstream media “credit” on those rare occasions when they do something right. They’re supposed to get it right. You don’t get brownie points for not lying and propagandizing as aggressively as you normally do. You don’t give a cop credit for not shooting everyone.

If you’re a popular comedian living under a murderous and tyrannical globe-spanning empire, it’s pretty pathetic to spend your career punching any direction but up.

It doesn’t take much work to understand that the US government is an evil institution. It does take a fair bit of work to understand that the US government is a uniquely evil institution on the world stage, with no one else coming anywhere close. People have trouble getting this; for some reason it’s not too psychologically confrontational to acknowledge that your government is or is allied with one of many bad actors, but it often causes a lot of cognitive dissonance to grapple with the possibility that it’s the absolute worst actor, by a very large margin.

_______________

My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following me on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud or YouTube, or throwing some money into my tip jar on Ko-fi, Patreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy my books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. All works co-authored with my American husband Tim Foley.

Bitcoin donations:1Ac7PCQXoQoLA9Sh8fhAgiU3PHA2EX5Zm2

FRIBIS-BIEN Zoom Dialogue on UBI: 3 June 2022

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 26/05/2022 - 12:38am in

Tags 

Events, News

FRIBIS (Freiburg Institute for Basic Income Studies) and BIEN (Basic Income Earth Network) invite you to a Global Basic Income Dialogue with experts on the UBI via a Zoom-meeting on 3 June 2022. 6 p.m. CEST / 9 a.m. PDT / 5p.m. GMT / 9:30 p.m. IST Gisèle Huff, a U.S. philanthropist supporter of UBI, […]

RMT votes to strike: The biggest rail dispute of a generation

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 25/05/2022 - 8:52pm in

Kieran Crowe explains the context and the significance of the overwhelming vote for strike action by RMT members nationally

Philosophy News Share: End of May, 2022

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 25/05/2022 - 8:00pm in

Tags 

News, News

As mentioned in my Summer 2022 Plans, to help keep readers up to date with philosophy news this summer, I’ll be be creating a space each month for individuals and institutions to share news.

This is the first of these, for the remainder of May.

If you have news of the sort that would typically appear on Daily Nous, please share it in the comments. By now most readers have a sense of what such news is, but just in case, here are some examples:

  • faculty moves at the associate level or higher involving at least one department with a graduate program in philosophy
  • philosophers winning awards, prizes, or other honors
  • philosophers receiving substantial grants
  • new philosophy journals
  • new philosophy programs
  • new research resources for philosophers
  • new associations or groups for philosophers
  • policy changes of note at philosophy journals, publishers, institutions
  • data regarding philosophers, philosophy students, and philosophy (or efforts to gather such data)
  • innovative presentations of philosophical information (e.g., visualizations)
  • recognition or development of new methods of teaching philosophy
  • new or unusual forms of public-facing philosophy
  • major programs or initiatives regarding issues in the profession
  • philosophy programs, majors, faculty, threatened with cuts
  • noteworthy discoveries in the history of philosophy (such as a previously unknown manuscript by a well-known philosopher)
  • scientific findings or technological developments of particular interest to philosophers
  • current events regarding philosophers and academic freedom and freedom of speech
  • philosophers involved with government or government policy
  • philosophers filing amicus curiae briefs
  • philosophers or philosophy playing a major role in society and culture
  • episodes of harassment and discrimination in academic philosophy
  • episodes of research or writing misconduct in academic philosophy
  • major interviews of philosophers
  • deaths of philosophers

This is not an exhaustive list, so if you have something that you think is worth sharing but you’re unsure whether it fit into any of the above categories, give it a shot. Please note:

  • you’re welcome to include links in your comments, though note that comments with more than one link may get held back automatically for moderation until I have a chance to approve it
  • images can be included in your comments by clicking on the image icon in the bottom right part of the comment entry box.
  • self-promotion is okay, provided what your promoting about your self is newsworthy (i.e., yes to “big grant to study such-and-such”, no to “my article about X is coming out in Y.”)
  • after you publish a comment, you may edit it for up to 15 minutes by clicking on the gearwheel icon that will show up on the bottom right part of your comment as you mouse over it
  • you can obtain a link directly to your comment for sharing purposes by clicking on the link icon that appears in the top right corner of your comment when you mouse over it after it is pubilshed
  • you may not make original accusations of wrongdoing in the comments; if you’re going to post something regarding such an accusation, you may only post what has been officially reported in reputable news outlets elsewhere, and must include a link to said outlets
  • your comments are subject to moderation and possible removal. Sometimes there can be news that, for various reasons, I don’t believe is worth sharing, or things I’m not interested in promoting. (Comments may take a little while to appear.)

This is an experiment; we’ll see how it goes.

Thanks for your help with making it work.

COMMENTS POLICY

They’re Just Outright Telling Us That Peace In Ukraine Is Not An Option

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 25/05/2022 - 2:34am in

Tags 

Russia, War, peace, News

Listen to a reading of this article:

https://medium.com/media/87d84ee46a129a86adc5bb751bc39f36/href

US Senator Joe Manchin said at the World Economic Forum on Monday that he opposes any kind of peace agreement between Ukraine and Russia.

Manchin, who at the moment is one of the most powerful elected officials in Washington, added that only the complete forcible ejection of Russia from all of Ukraine is acceptable, that the war should ideally be used to remove Putin from power, and that he and the strategists he talks to see this war as an “opportunity”.

“I am totally committed, as one person, to seeing Ukraine to the end with a win, not basically with some kind of a treaty; I don’t think that is where we are and where we should be,” Manchin said.

“I mean basically moving Putin back to Russia and hopefully getting rid of Putin,” Manchin added when asked what he meant by a win for Ukraine.

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Manchin clarified that he did not mean pushing Putin back to “pre-February”, ostensibly meaning with Russia still controlling the largely Moscow-loyal Crimea and supporting separatist territories in the Donbass, but with Kyiv fully reclaiming all parts of the nation.

“Oh no, I think Ukraine is determined to take their country back,” Manchin said when asked to clarify, further clarifying that he wants his call for regime change in Russia to be carried out by “the Russian people.”

“I believe strongly that I have never seen, and the people I talk strategically have never seen, an opportunity more than this, to do what needs to be done,” Manchin later added. “And Ukraine has the determination to do it. We should have the commitment to support it.”

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Manchin’s comments fit in perfectly with what we know about the US-centralized empire’s real agendas in Ukraine.

Earlier this month Ukrainian media reported that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the nation’s president Volodymyr Zelensky on behalf of NATO powers that “even if Ukraine is ready to sign some agreements on guarantees with Putin, they are not.”

Last month US Secretary of “Defense” Lloyd Austin acknowledged that the goal in this war is not peace in Ukraine or the mere military defeat of Russia but to actually weaken Russia as a nation, saying “We want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine.”

Last week The New York Times reported that the Biden administration is developing plans to “further choke Russia’s oil revenues with the long-term goal of destroying the country’s central role in the global energy economy.”

Just the other day Ukraine’s military intelligence chief announced that the mission has already creeped forward from the goal of defeating the Russian invaders to reclaiming the Crimean territory which was annexed by the Russian Federation in 2014.

Two months ago Biden himself acknowledged what the real game is here with an open call for regime change, saying of Putin, “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.”

Statements from the Biden administration in fact indicate that they expect this war to drag on for a long time, making it abundantly clear that a swift end to minimize the death and destruction is not just uninteresting but undesirable for the US empire.

This is not a proxy war with peace as an option anywhere within sight. It’s not about saving Ukrainian lives. It’s not even about beating Russia in Ukraine. It’s about achieving regime change in Moscow, no matter how many lives need to be destroyed in the process.

Peace is not on the menu.

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This war could easily have been prevented with a little diplomacy and reasonable compromise. As the University of Ottawa’s Ivan Katchanovski recently explained to The Maple, “an agreement in which Ukraine promised to remain a neutral country and the fulfilment of the Minsk accords could have stopped Putin’s invasion.”

We know now that the US intelligence cartel had good visibility into what the Kremlin had planned for Ukraine, so they would have known exactly what could have been done to prevent the invasion. They knowingly chose to do none of those things, because the goal was to provoke this war the entire time and then weaponize it against Moscow.

That’s why the Biden administration has been hindering diplomatic efforts to negotiate an end to this war, why it has refused to provide Ukraine with any kind of diplomatic negotiating power regarding the possible rollback of sanctions and other US measures to help secure peace, and why Washington’s top diplomats have consistently been conspicuously absent from any kind of dialogue with their counterparts in Moscow.

Empire spinmeisters and their propagandized victims like to claim that Ukrainian forces are fighting for “peace” in Ukraine. The other day Kyiv Independent’s Illia Ponomarenko, who has called the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion his “brothers in arms,” tweeted this:

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But anyone who understands this war knows this is ridiculous. Peace is not the goal in Ukraine. Most of the Ukrainians doing the fighting surely believe they are fighting for peace in their homeland, and peace is surely their intention, but that’s not something the empire will allow if the empire gets any say in the matter.

Even if Ukraine does somehow avoid being used as cannon fodder to draw Moscow into a long and costly slog as US officials have admitted was done in both Afghanistan and in Syria, and even if they do somehow manage to deliver a crushing and conclusive defeat to Moscow in the near term (which is far less probable than the western media would have you believe), that wouldn’t be the end of the war. The war would just change shape as the empire and its proxies go on the offensive against Moscow.

This war does not end with Russia being driven from Ukraine, it ends with regime change and the balkanization of the Russian Federation. Really it doesn’t end until the rise of China has been stopped and US unipolar hegemony secured. Or when the empire collapses. Or when we all die in a nuclear holocaust.

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All forward motion in this war has nothing but violence as far as the eye can see on its trajectory into the future. No matter how much wealth and war machinery you pour into this conflict, that trajectory of death and destruction will just keep stretching out to the horizon. As Chris Hedges recently explained, war is the only path the empire has left open to itself.

I’ve seen some cute kids in my time, but nobody’s as adorable as people who think the US pours weapons into foreign nations in order to achieve peace.

_______________

My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following me on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud or YouTube, or throwing some money into my tip jar on Ko-fi, Patreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy my books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. All works co-authored with my American husband Tim Foley.

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Shireen Abu Akleh and Israel’s War on Journalism, with Lina Abu Akleh

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 25/05/2022 - 1:23am in

 
The MintPress podcast “The Watchdog,” hosted by British-Iraqi hip hop artist Lowkey, closely examines organizations about which it is in the public interest to know – including intelligence, lobby, and special interest groups influencing policies that infringe on free speech and target dissent. The Watchdog goes against the grain by casting a light on stories largely ignored by the mainstream, corporate media.

The cold-blooded killing of Shireen Abu Akleh earlier this month has made headlines around the world. An Israeli sniper shot the veteran Al Jazeera journalist in the head while she was reporting on their raid on a refugee camp in the West Bank city of Jenin.

Shireen’s niece Lina Abu Akleh first heard of the news from her father, who phoned her early in the morning to tell her Shireen was injured. Today, Watchdog host Lowkey speaks to Lina about her aunt’s work, legacy, and the ongoing war against the press.

“I never expected that she was in a critical condition, let alone have to hear from her colleague that ‘your aunt is a martyr now.’ Those five minutes were the most difficult of my entire life. I don’t think it will get worse than that,” she told Lowkey, recounting her ordeal. “But the support from everyone has been very comforting. The love and respect that everyone has shown her and us is something we will forever be thankful for.” A native of Jerusalem, Lina previously worked for the Palestinian Counselling Center and as a research assistant at the University of San Francisco.

Having reported on the Israeli occupation for two decades, Shireen was one of the most recognizable faces in the region. Her colleagues at Al Jazeera described her as a “trailblazer who gave voice to Palestinians,” and someone who became a “household name across the Arab world for her bold coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Lina enjoyed a very close relationship with her aunt, seeing her as a role model, her best friend and a second mother. “She always found the bright side of life, despite its tragedies,” she told Lowkey, revealing that the fame never got to her head. “She was very humble,” she added.

“My heart aches beyond words,” Lina wrote on the day of the murder, adding, “I will make sure that your legacy lives on. You are an icon, my hero, my Angel. Rest in power.”

Abu Akleh’s funeral became a national event attended by thousands. Israeli forces, who had raided her home hours after they shot her, stormed the funeral, beating mourners and pallbearers alike. This attack was whitewashed as a mere “clash” in much of the Western press – a fact that caused a storm of public outrage and considerable pushback. Thus in her life Abu Akleh exposed the reality of the Israeli occupation, and in her death she exposed the media’s complicity in Apartheid.

Lowkey was keen to note that Abu Akleh’s killing was far from a one-off event. “The crime that was carried out against Shireen is an extension of the wider war against journalism, which Israel pursues in many different ways,” he said, adding:

The same way that Shireen was killed (despite the fact that she was clearly identified as a journalist) is not dissimilar to the way that Yasser Murtaja was killed when Palestinians in Gaza were attempting to fulfill their right of return under UN resolution 194. Yasser was wearing the word “Press” across his chest when he was shot by an Israeli sniper.”

Lowkey also noted that Israel has killed 55 journalists since 2000 and injured at least 144 since 2018 alone. Between 10 and 15 Palestinian journalists are in Israeli jails or prisons at this moment. Thus, “This war against confrontational journalism has been long-running,” he said.

Lowkey is a British-Iraqi hip-hop artist, academic and political campaigner. As a musician, he has collaborated with the Arctic Monkeys, Wretch 32, Immortal Technique and Akala. He is a patron of Stop The War Coalition, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Racial Justice Network and The Peace and Justice Project, founded by Jeremy Corbyn. He has spoken and performed on platforms from the Oxford Union to the Royal Albert Hall and Glastonbury. His latest album, Soundtrack To The Struggle 2, featured Noam Chomsky and Frankie Boyle and has been streamed millions of times.

The post Shireen Abu Akleh and Israel’s War on Journalism, with Lina Abu Akleh appeared first on MintPress News.

Summer 2022 Plans: a Note to Readers

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 24/05/2022 - 7:00pm in

Tags 

News, Summer

Dear Readers,


[J. Weinberg]

I’ve been running Daily Nous for over 8 years with very few pauses. Maintaining the site consumes a fair amount of my time, energy, and attention. In part that’s a function of its success, and I feel quite fortunate to be able provide something that so many of my colleagues in philosophy find useful. But I also feel that I need a break from it—for various reasons, including that I have other things I’d like to work on.

So, starting today and continuing through mid-August, Daily Nous will be a bit different. During this period, instead of the regular supply of news, updates, ideas, and links offered up each weekday, there will be:

  • one post each week, published Tuesdays, by different guest authors
  • monthly “news share” posts on which people can comment to share news items or material elsewhere about which there might have normally been a DN post or link added to the Heap, and
  • monthly updates regarding new and revised entries at online philosophy resources and reviews of philosophy books.

(Please note that comments requiring moderator approval may, during this period, take longer than usual to appear, as I will not be on the site as much.)

I’m very grateful to the philosophers who have agreed to write guest posts this summer. They are helping me take this quasi-hiatus from DN, and I am sure they will provide you all with plenty to think and talk about.

In mid-August, Daily Nous will resume daily postings about news and issues in academic philosophy, along with its regular features, like the comics, weekly updates, and mini-heaps.

I hope you all have a wonderful summer. Do me a favor and don’t do anything newsworthy until I’m back, ok?

Bye for now.

Justin

Mark Esper’s Tell-Some Reveals US Plans for War and Terror Against Venezuela

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 24/05/2022 - 8:04am in

WASHINGTON – A new book from former Defense Secretary Mark Esper has revealed shocking new details about the Trump administration’s war on Venezuela. “A Sacred Oath: Memoirs of a Secretary of Defense During Extraordinary Times” admits that the Trump administration plotted to invade Venezuela and discussed assassinating President Nicolas Maduro, carrying out a wave of terrorist attacks on civilian infrastructure, and raising a mercenary army to start a Contra-style terror war. Esper also all but confirms Washington’s involvement in Operation Gideon – a botched military invasion of the country, and a 2018 attempt on Maduro’s life.

While barely covered in Western media, Esper’s confessions have caused a storm of commotion in the South American nation. However, Diego Sequera, a Caracas-based investigative journalist, told MintPress that few were taken aback by the news. “It is, in a way, shocking. But on the other hand, it is pretty much usual for us here,” he said, adding: “The news is not surprising at all; we in Venezuela are used to it. Since 2004, when the first Colombian paramilitary unit with a plan to assassinate President [Hugo] Chavez was arrested, there have been a lot of exposés of this nature.”

 

“Really part of the United States”

Donald Trump invited self-declared Venezuelan President Juan Guaidó to be the guest of honor at his State Of The Union address in 2020, where Guaidó was described as “the true and legitimate president” and received a standing ovation from Republicans and Democrats alike.

Trump and Guaidó’s post-SOTU meeting was reported in the press at the time as “focused on actions to achieve democracy and liberty.” Esper’s account, however, reveals that the conversation revolved around an American invasion of the country. Trump, who Esper says had been “fixated on Venezuela since the early days of his administration,” asked Guaidó directly, “What if the U.S. military went down there and got rid of Maduro?” The offer was music to the ears of the Venezuelan, who replied, “Of course we would always welcome U.S. assistance.” Guaidó had attempted four coups already, each time calling on the people and the military to rebel and join his side, but had received a less than enthusiastic response.

Esper’s account aligns with that of a previous tell-all book from National Security Advisor John Bolton. In “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir,” Bolton claims Trump said that it would be “cool” to invade Venezuela because it is “really part of the United States.”

 

The invasion had some vociferous backers in the room, including Mauricio Claver-Carone, senior director of the National Security Council, and Robert O’Brien, Trump’s national security advisor. Esper felt Claver-Carone’s judgment was clouded by his personal investment in undermining Latin American socialism, being as he was, a member of the virulently anti-communist Miami-Cuban community. Often called “the capital of Latin America,” Miami is full of emigres who push Washington for a more hawkish stance on Cuba, Venezuela, and Latin America more generally. Bolton’s book also paints Claver-Carone and O’Brien as hawks.

Esper, however, was alarmed by the prospect of a military quagmire and suspected that Guaidó was far less powerful than he made out to be. As Esper told Trump, the Venezuelan opposition would only “fight to the last American.” When he asked Guaidó directly whether “his people” would be willing to organize, train and fight, the response amounted to “It would be so much easier and quicker if the U.S. would do this for us.”

 

Operation Gideon

Instead, Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley suggested raising an army of mercenaries to carry out a terror war against the Venezuelan population, along the lines of what the U.S. did with the Contras in Nicaragua. As Esper wrote:

General Milley also thought we should look at irregular warfare options, such as the U.S. training and arming of Venezuelan expatriates [REDACTED]. The United States had a long history with these types of operations. It was an idea worth developing. Milley and I had discussed this several times before.”

However, Guaidó’s team was more interested in discussing secret plans of which even Esper was unaware. At one point, one of Guaidó’s colleagues leaned forward and said, “We have some plans you [the U.S. government] know we are working on; they’re just not ready yet,” made a quick reference to Florida, and shared a smile, a nod and a knowing look with Claver-Carone.

At the time, Esper claims to have been nonplussed by this comment. However, he later understood it as a reference to Operation Gideon, an attempt by a semi-private Florida mercenary firm to mount an amphibious invasion of Venezuela, shoot their way to the presidential palace, capture, detain, or “remove” Maduro, and install Guaidó as “president.”

Operation Gideon was attempted just a few weeks after the meeting, but failed spectacularly as the heavily armed mercenaries were overpowered even before they reached land, when disgruntled lobstermen from the local fishing collective disarmed them with nothing more than fishing knives and old revolvers. The event has since been christened Trump’s “Bay of Piglets.”

While the operation was carried out with extraordinary incompetence, the seriousness of the event should not go understated. Guaidó himself signed a contract with SilverCorp USA, a Trump-linked mercenary firm, that stated the group would become his personal death squad after the insurrection, with the power to murder and assassinate all people resisting the new government. For this service, Guaidó promised to pay SilverCorp an initial fee of around a quarter of a billion dollars. The deal was signed at Trump’s Mar a Lago resort in Florida. The U.S. servicemen who participated in the botched operation were sentenced to 20 years in a Venezuelan prison.

“I wasn’t at all surprised by Mark Esper’s revelations, given the U.S.’s long and sordid history of destabilization of governments that are not to its liking,” said Steve Ellner, a retired professor of economic history and political science at the Universidad de Oriente in Venezuela.

Ellner, an American who has lived in Venezuela for over 40 years and closely studied the rise in tensions between the two nations, added:

Esper’s revelations lead to nothing less than the conclusion that Washington was involved in the abortive drone strike in August 2018 that exploded at a public event that was meant to kill Maduro, his wife Celia Flores and various top military commanders. It also leads to the conclusion that Washington was involved in the Operation Gideon of 2020 that had as its goal the kidnapping of Maduro.”

Bolton’s book also hints at U.S. involvement in the 2018 assassination attempt, which he describes as “hilarious.” Shortly after the attempt, Trump demanded that Bolton “get it done” – “it” meaning the removal of Maduro. “This is the fifth time I’ve asked for it,” he added.

 

Terror squad

Esper’s memoir also reveals that senior U.S. officials often spoke frankly and candidly about carrying out waves of terror attacks on Venezuelan civilian infrastructure, a disclosure that sheds new light on a number of highly suspicious explosions, fires, blackouts and other mishaps inside Venezuela – events that the Maduro administration has long blamed on the United States. Western media, however, routinely dismissed these allegations as conspiracy theories.

Esper alleges that on June 9, 2020, O’Brien proposed a military strike on a coastal port that handled much of the country’s oil imports and exports. “The means could be either an air strike or the use of Navy SEALs,” he said. The effect would be to “further disrupt their energy supplies and provoke more unrest.” According to Esper, the group rejected the plan in favor of a coordinated cyberattack on critical Venezuelan infrastructure instead.

However, ten days later, the U.S. government (including Esper himself) agreed to what he called the development of “kinetic and nonkinetic options, both overt and [REDACTED], that could disrupt Venezuela’s oil and arms shipments. Options would need to include actions that would have a material impact on key industrial and other high-value targets.”

Just weeks after this decision, former U.S. Marine and CIA agent Matthew Heath was arrested outside Venezuela’s largest oil refining complex. When apprehended, Heath was carrying a submachine gun, a grenade launcher, four blocks of C4 explosives, a satellite phone, stacks of U.S. dollars and detailed information about the complex. Both the U.S. government and U.S. media have largely ignored Heath’s trial for terrorism and arms trafficking, strongly suggesting that he was indeed caught in the act while on “official business.”

 

The Beto O’Rourke of Venezuela

While Trump was publicly singing Guaidó’s praises, endorsing him as the true leader of a free Venezuela, behind closed doors, he said exactly the opposite. According to Esper, Trump thought Guaidó was a remarkably “weak” politician, especially compared to the “strong” and “tough” Maduro.

Trump commented on the fact that Guaidó’s wife, Fabiana Rosales, did not even wear a wedding ring, another sign of weakness, according to the president. In fact, Esper says, “Trump seemed more impressed by Rosales than her husband,” always making time to speak to her rather than him, and treating her very warmly. The 73-year-old president commented that the 27-year-old Rosales looked “very young” and attractive.

Bolton’s book also mentions that Trump quickly soured on Guaidó but remained intensely interested in his wife. After multiple failed coups, Trump reportedly took to calling him “the Beto O’Rourke of Venezuela” – suggesting that he saw Guaidó as someone who talked a good game but had no substance or support behind him.

Donald Trump, Fabiana Rosales

Trump, right, meets with Fabiana Rosales, left, wife of Juan Guaido in the Oval Office, March 27, 2019. Susan Walsh | AP

Trump’s judgment appears to have been better than that of those around him. After a series of failed coups and embezzlement scandals, what support Guaidó had appears to have withered away, with some polls showing only 4% of the Venezuelan public backing him. As the population suffers, Guaidó continues to live a life of extreme luxury, mostly from Venezuelan funds confiscated by the U.S. “At this point, Juan Guaidó is nothing other than a joke in Venezuela,” Ellner told MintPress, adding:

I say that not only because he is totally discredited among the Venezuelan people, but because leaders of the hard-line faction of the opposition have distanced themselves from him, and of course even more so in the case of the other half of the organized opposition, which favors dialogue with Maduro.”

Sequera agreed, calling Guaidó the “frontman of a criminal operation that is stealing our own goods.”

 

Financial terrorism and invading Africa

The Trump administration also tightened the noose around Venezuela’s economy by intensifying the Obama administration’s sanctions. Companies found to be in breach of the U.S. economic blockade could be shut down, fined, and their executives threatened with decades in prison. The result was a collapse in the Venezuelan economy and huge shortages of goods. A United Nations Special Rapporteur who visited the country likened the Trump administration’s actions to a medieval siege, estimated that over 100,000 Venezuelans had been killed as a result, and recommended the UN investigate the U.S. for crimes against humanity.

Esper claims that as Venezuela and Iran tried to find ways of trading with each other to prevent their economies collapsing and to prevent mass deaths, his team “looked for ways to shut those activities down.” One of these methods was to arrest and kidnap Venezuelan businessman and diplomat Alex Saab, who was traveling between the two countries to secure a trade deal. On U.S. orders, Saab was arrested after his plane stopped off in Cabo Verde, an island nation off the west coast of Africa. Saab was detained and is now being held hostage in Florida. In November, MintPress traveled to Caracas to speak to Saab’s wife Camila.

The detention of Saab – who was traveling on official business using a diplomatic passport – was a major violation of international law. Esper reveals that the Trump administration was paranoid that Russia, a Venezuelan ally, would stage a special operations mission to rescue Saab. As a precaution, the Department of Defense immediately ordered the U.S. fleet in the Mediterranean Sea be deployed to Cabo Verde – including thousands of marines.


A mural of Alex Saab that reads in Spanish “Free Alex Saab. They haven’t been able to bend him,” in Caracas. Ariana Cubillos | AP

Thus, the U.S. would be effectively invading Cabo Verde under the pretext that Russia might try to free the diplomat they had kidnapped. Esper and others put a stop to this plan at the 11th hour, but the U.S. continues to hold Saab captive to this day.

By the time of the Saab affair, Bolton had been kicked out of the White House. But his account of U.S. sanctions against Venezuela tells a similar story (although he uses much more sadistic language than does Esper). In Bolton’s view, “we had Maduro by the windpipe and needed to constrict it.” “We began devising steps to take immediately against Maduro’s regime, and also Cuba,” he explained, “Oil sanctions were a natural choice, but why not declare Venezuela a ‘state sponsor of terrorism,’ something I first suggested on October 1, 2018, and also return Cuba to the list after Obama had removed it?” he asked, thereby inadvertently conceding that the State Sponsors of Terrorism list has nothing to do with terrorism and is merely a list of governments the U.S. wants to overthrow.

As Bolton – a much more openly cold-blooded person than Esper – states, sanctions are not about justice, but about “using America’s massive economic power to advance our national interests.”

 

What comes after ‘sociopath’?

Throughout his account, Esper portrays himself as a long-suffering but loyal bureaucrat who was trying to do the best thing for his country while surrounded by fools and loose cannons. While he considered quitting in protest, even knowing he would be treated as a “hero” for doing so, he decided to persevere as “it was the right thing to do for our country.” “My soldiers don’t get to quit when the going gets tough, so I won’t either,” he added. Indeed, at some points, Esper presents himself as a veritable saint, claiming that, “[o]n more than one occasion, Leah would say to me, ‘As your wife, please quit. As an American citizen, please stay.’”

Despite his best intentions, Esper still comes off as a sociopath attempting to intimidate the world into submission. Throughout the book, he reveals how he had to constantly quash Trump’s desire to end endless wars and pursue peace with adversaries.

Trump himself proposed a complete withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan and South Korea, nations where U.S. forces have been stationed for nearly 20 and 70 years respectively. This, for Esper, was “outlandish.” He explained to Trump that, “[w]ithout [the U.S. occupation], we would squander the leverage that a continued U.S. military presence and the threat of force gave us.”

Esper was also “disgusted” by Trump’s proposition to meet with the Taliban for peace talks that could have ended the war. According to Esper, the entire team was against ending the occupation, stating:

​​As the president went around the room, we each tried to dissuade him in different ways. I recommended against it, reminding him that ‘the Taliban have the blood of American service members on their hands, not to mention their role in the death of nearly three thousand civilians killed on our own soil on 9/11.’”

Esper refrained from noting that none of the 9/11 hijackers were Afghans and most came from U.S. ally Saudi Arabia.

Trump was also reportedly highly skeptical of the need to flood Ukraine with weapons, questioning why the United States had to support such a corrupt administration as Zelensky’s and asking why Germany or other European nations could not do so if it were so imperative. To Esper’s relief, the hawks in the room were able to win the day on that issue as well.

MintPress also spoke with Joe Emersberger, co-author of the book “Extraordinary Threat: The U.S. Empire, the Media, and Twenty Years of Coup Attempts in Venezuela.” In Emersberger’s opinion, there is “absolutely no basis for doubting the truth of the excerpts from Esper that have been so widely cited.” As he explained:

Esper is not ‘confessing’ to anything that could bring legal trouble for himself or other U.S. officials. The U.S. has imposed murderous and utterly criminal sanctions on Venezuela in broad daylight, flaunting its extreme impunity. Esper speaks with [the] calm candor of a hitman who has already cut a rock-solid deal with prosecutors and fears nothing.”

Trump was far from an anti-war activist, however, and was committed to regime change in Venezuela, whatever the cost. The billionaire president reportedly saw it as a massive money-spinner and was obsessed with gaining control over Venezuela’s vast oil fields, something Esper saw as gauche. Esper was also committed to overthrowing Maduro, but only in “the right way, the smart way.”


Esper, left, breifs the press about US “counter-narcotics” operation around Venezula, April 1, 2020, next to Gen. Mark Milley. Alex Brandon | AP

According to Emersberger,

Trump ignorantly assumed the Maduro government would be an easy target, something a bully like Trump could not resist, especially the prospect of direct looting of its oil. By the time he realized otherwise, he and his gang were locked into a cycle of escalation that Biden has essentially maintained, backtracking only slightly due to fallout from the war in Ukraine.”

While Esper was no dove, others in Trump’s inner circle appear to have delighted in cruelty. Esper claims that the president’s senior policy advisor, Stephen Miller, argued that U.S. forces in the Middle East should cut off the heads of enemy forces, smear them in pig’s blood (which Muslims consider to be unholy), and display them in public as a means of psychological warfare.

 

Yesper

Esper’s new book also makes a number of other sensational claims about what went on in the White House behind closed doors. Among them is that Trump was furious at the George Floyd protests in Washington, asking General Milley why he would not simply shoot them all in the legs as he had asked. Trump demanded 10,000 troops in the streets of the nation’s capital in order to “restore order.”

Trump also reportedly discussed sending 250,000 troops to the Mexican border and firing missiles into Mexico in order to destroy cartel-run drug labs. “We could just shoot some Patriot missiles and take out the labs quietly…no one would know it was us,” he insisted.

Trump, for his part, has rejected the comments about shooting protesters in the leg, although he refused to comment on the Mexico missiles idea. “Mark Esper was a stiff who was desperate not to lose his job,” Trump retorted. “He was a lightweight and a figurehead, and I realized it very early on.” Trump went on to say that Esper was a “RINO [Republican in name only] incapable of leading” and that he called him “Yesper” – a nickname suggesting that he saw him as a spineless yes man.

While the revelations about Mexico and the George Floyd Protests have received significant attention in corporate media, such is the bipartisan consensus in Washington on Venezuela that carrying out wars, regime-change operations, terrorist attacks and assassination attempts against an elected foreign head of state has been ignored. When it comes to the U.S. empire, everyone, it seems, is on the same page.

Feature photo | Defense Secretary Mark Esper speaks during military ceremonies, Saturday, June 13, 2020, in West Point, N.Y. John Minchillo | AP

Alan MacLeod is Senior 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, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.orgThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.

The post Mark Esper’s Tell-Some Reveals US Plans for War and Terror Against Venezuela appeared first on MintPress News.

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