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Posts Tagged ‘Venezuela’

‘Zombie Neocon’: How This Iran Contra Architect Is Leading Trump Policy | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on May 16, 2020

A little background on Abrams: when he served as Reagan’s assistant secretary of state for human rights, he concealed a massacre of a thousand men, women, and children by U.S.-funded death squads in El Salvador. He was also involved in the Iran Contra scandal, helping to secure covert funding for Contra rebels in Nicaragua in violation of laws passed by Congress. In 1991, he pled guilty to lying to Congress about the America’s role in those two fiascos—twice.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/zombie-neocon-how-this-iran-contra-architect-is-now-leading-trump-policy/

Hawk Elliot Abrams, reborn as a U.S. envoy, is at the spear point of recent aggressive moves in Venezuela.

US Special Representative for Venezuela Elliot Abrams addresses the Atlantic Council on the future of Venezuela in Washington, DC, on April 25, 2019. (Photo credit NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

As we await answers on who funded the plot to use a handful of mercenaries and ex-Green Berets to oust Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, it’s worth taking a closer look at the man behind regime change policy, the special envoy on Venezuela, Elliott Abrams.

Called the “neocon zombie” by officials at the State Department, Abrams is known as an operator who doesn’t let anything stand in his way. He has a long history of pursuing disastrous policies in government.

“Everything Abrams is doing now is the same thing he was doing during the Reagan administration. He’s very adept at manipulating the levers of power without a lot of oversight,” a former senior official at the State Department told The American Conservative. The official added that Abrams is “singularly focused” on pursuing regime change in Venezuela.

A little background on Abrams: when he served as Reagan’s assistant secretary of state for human rights, he concealed a massacre of a thousand men, women, and children by U.S.-funded death squads in El Salvador. He was also involved in the Iran Contra scandal, helping to secure covert funding for Contra rebels in Nicaragua in violation of laws passed by Congress. In 1991, he pled guilty to lying to Congress about the America’s role in those two fiascos—twice.

But then-president George H.W. Bush pardoned Abrams. He went on to support “measures to scuttle the Latin American peace process launched by the Costa Rican president, Óscar Arias” and use “the agency’s money to unseat the Sandinistas in Nicaragua’s 1990 general elections,” according to Brian D’Haeseleer.

Under President George W. Bush, Abrams promoted regime change in Iraq.

Abrams was initially blocked from joining the Trump administration on account of a Never Trump op-ed he’d penned. But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo succeeded in bringing him onboard last year, despite his history of support for disastrous regime change policies.

It’s no surprise that with Abrams at the helm, U.S. rhetoric and actions towards Venezuela are constantly “escalating,” Dr. Alejandro Velasco, associate professor of Modern Latin America at New York University, said an interview with TAC.

In just the last month, Washington has placed bounties on the heads of President Nicolás Maduro and a dozen current and former Venezuelan officials. The U.S. also deployed the largest fleet ever to the Southern Hemisphere.

Meanwhile, Abrams announced the “Democratic Transition Framework for Venezuela,” which calls on Maduro’s government to embrace a power-sharing deal. The plan doesn’t explain how Venezuelan leaders with bounties on their heads are supposed to come to the table and negotiate with Juan Guaido, whom the U.S. recognizes as Venezuela’s legitimate leader. Abrams has also said that the U.S. does not support a coup.

A few days after recommending a power-sharing arrangement, and 18 years after the U.S. backed a putsch against Hugo Chavez, Abrams warned that if Maduro resisted the organization of a “transitional government,” his departure would be far more “dangerous and abrupt.” To many, Abrams’ aggressive rhetoric against Maduro made it sound like the U.S. was “effectively threatening him with another assassination attempt,” like the one Washington had “tacitly supported” in 2018.

Two weeks after Abrams’ warning, Operation Gideon began. Jordan Goudreau, an American citizen, former Green Beret, and three-time Bronze Star recipient for bravery in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with Javier Nieto, a retired Venezuelan military captain, posted a video from an undisclosed location saying they had launched an attack that was meant to begin a rebellion that would lead to Maduro’s arrest and the installation of Juan Guaido.

In a public relations coup for Maduro, the plot was quickly foiled. Given that American citizens were involved and have produced a contract allegedly signed by Guaido, the incident has severely harmed the reputations of both the U.S. and the Venezuelan opposition.

Both President Trump and Pompeo have denied that the U.S. had any “direct” involvement with Goudreau’s plot.

However, the Trump administration has given billions of dollars from USAID to Venezuela, and that money is largely untraceable due to concerns about outing supporters of Guaido.

“With all the cash and arms sloshing around in Venezuela,” it is not hard to imagine how U.S. funding could inadvertently wind up supporting something like this, said Velasco.

There are other signs that the U.S. may have been more involved in the plot than they are saying publicly.

For one, American mercenaries don’t carry passports identifying themselves as American nor do they return to the U.S. where they can be brought up on charges for their work, said Sean McFate, professor of war and strategy at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and the National Defense University.

In order to sell weapons or training to another nation, it is necessary to receive permission from the State Department. It’s unclear whether Goudreau and his band did so. But Goudreau’s social media posts look like a pretty “clear cut” violation of the International Convention Against the Recruitment, Financing and Training of Mercenaries and the U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR) said Peter Singer, a senior fellow at New America.

We know that months before the fated coup, the CIA met with Goudreau in Jamaica and allegedly warned him off the project. According to the AP, Goudreau is now under investigation for arms trafficking. Members of Congress have asked the State Department what they knew of Goudreau’s plans. Given the illegal nature of the supposedly unauthorized project, it’s very strange that the ringleader is at present in Florida, talking to the press and posting on social media.

Besides that warning, it seems no one in government tried to stop this calamitous operation.

And it’s not just regime change. Last year, Abrams advocated granting special immigration status for the 70,000 Venezuelans residing illegally in the U.S. as a way to “pressure Maduro” even though Trump ran on the promise to severely limit the number of people granted Temporary Protected Status.

It was in pursuit of special status for Venezuelans that Abrams showed himself to be “incredibly pompous, bull-headed, and willing to destroy anyone who opposes him, in a personal way, including by trashing their reputations in the media,” another senior State Department official told TAC. Abrams is not above hiding policy options he doesn’t like and offering only those he favors to Pompeo to present to Trump, sources said.

Abrams ultimately prevailed and Venezuelans received refugee status from the Trump administration, despite the fact that it betrayed Trump’s campaign promises.

According to Velasco, there are some people in the administration who believe that Venezuelans are the “new Cubans”—that they will become a solid, loyal Republican vote in the swing state of Florida if they’re granted special status. They also believe that Venezuelan expats want to see the U.S. remove Maduro. There are “many Cold Warriors” who believe all it will take is a “little push” for Venezuelans to rise up and take out Maduro, said Velasco.

The State Department did not respond to a request for comment on whether Abrams is pursuing a military confrontation in Venezuela.

“Cold Warrior” beliefs are dangerous. While “Operation Gideon” was especially clownish, had it been more sophisticated, it could have easily sparked a world war. The Russians, Iranians, and Chinese are all operating in Venezuela.

That specter is even more concerning now that Russia’s Foreign Minister Lavrov has said that Russian special services are on standby to help Venezuela’s investigation of the mercenaries.

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Biden vs. Trump on Foreign Policy – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on May 9, 2020

We won’t know what’s in them until the election has passed.

https://original.antiwar.com/Reese_Erlich/2020/05/08/biden-vs-trump-on-foreign-policy/

We all know that President Donald Trump’s foreign policy has been a disaster. But is Joe Biden’s any better?

Trump promised to stop America’s endless wars but has stationed some 80,000 troops in the Middle East. He pulled out of the Iran nuclear accord, and imposed harsh sanctions and even sent drones to assassinate a top Iranian Revolutionary Guard. But Iran still has more political influence in Iraq than the United States. His administration negotiated an agreement with the Taliban, only to see it rejected by the US-installed Afghan government.

Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic Party presidential nominee, sharply criticizes Trump but, unfortunately, continues to defend many of the failed policies of the Obama Administration.

During Biden’s time as Vice President, the White House went from fighting two active wars (Afghanistan and Iraq) to seven (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, drone war in Pakistan, and escalation in Somalia).

Biden now says he disagreed with some of Obama’s interventionist policies, most notably in Libya. Today Biden calls for easing Iran sanctions, returning to the Iran nuclear accord, and reestablishing relations with Cuba.

“Biden represents the return of the classical foreign policy establishment,” Alan Minsky, executive director of Progressive Democrats of America, tells me. “Biden is running a campaign as a restoration candidate.”

But given significant changes in the world’s balance of power, it’s not all that clear what Biden could restore.

A changing world

Many corporate, State Department, military, and intelligence officials – otherwise known as the Deep State – hate Trump for his nationalist, America First policies.

The President imposed tariffs on allies around the world. He’s questioned the need for NATO. China and Russia have grown stronger economically and politically on the world stage, even after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even card-carrying members of the Deep State acknowledge Washington has no reason to keep fighting in the Middle East. Martin Indyk, a former US ambassador to Israel, says what’s “been hard for many in the American foreign-policy establishment, including me, to accept: Few vital interests of the US continue to be at stake in the Middle East.”

In a major mea culpa in The Wall Street Journal, Indyk admits, “[A]fter the sacrifice of so many American lives, the waste of so much energy and money in quixotic efforts that ended up doing more harm than good, it is time for the US to find a way to escape the costly, demoralizing cycle of crusades and retreats.”

Whoever wins the election in November will face an economy wracked by recession, an electorate wary of more long-term military interventions, and other countries determined to go their own way.

What kind of foreign policy will that produce?

Biden boasts

Biden boasts of his foreign policy credentials. He chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 2001-2003 and 2007-2009. While generally hewing to interventionist Democratic Party policies, he has taken some independent stands, for example, by voting against the 1991 Gulf War.

By far Biden’s most reprehensible stand was his strong support for the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq. As documented by Professor Stephen Zunes in The Progressive, Biden forcefully supported the war, but later claimed he opposed it. (Of course, Trump lied about his support for the war as well.)

When the Iraqi occupation failed in the mid-2000s, Biden infamously called for splitting Iraq into three parts along sectarian lines, so the United States could continue imperial control at least in Kurdistan.

Even today, Biden favors maintaining some troops in the region, using the excuse of fighting ISIS. “I think it’s a mistake to pull out the small number of troops that are there now to deal with ISIS,” he’s said.

Biden hasn’t learned the lessons of the Afghan war either. After nineteen years of failed war and occupation, he still wants to maintain some troops in the country.

“I would bring American combat troops in Afghanistan home during my first term,” Biden tells the Council on Foreign Relations. “Any residual US military presence in Afghanistan would be focused only on counterterrorism operations.”

But whoever wins in November will have to face the new reality: People in Afghanistan and the United States are fed up with the war. All foreign troops will have to withdraw.

Venezuela

Besides his bad record in the Middle East, Biden continues to support US domination in Latin America. Both Trump and Biden call for the removal of Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, for example. Last year they supported efforts by Juan Guaido, the former head of the National Assembly, to anoint himself president.

The Venezuelan government accuses Washington and Guaido of trying to overthrow Maduro by armed force. Rightwing, former military officers tried to assassinate Maduro with a drone strike last year. Then on May 4, a group of mercenaries – including two US Army vets – landed on the Venezuelan coast intending to overthrow Maduro and install Guaido in power. The coup plot was organized by a Florida private security company. It has the earmarks of a US intelligence operation, although not surprisingly, Trump denies it.

While Biden has not formally called for regime change in Venezuela, neither has he criticized the armed coup attempts. And he favors economic sanctions to cripple the economy, saying: “The US should push for stronger multilateral sanctions so that supporters of the regime cannot live, study, shop, or hide their assets in the United States, Europe, or Latin America.”

In my opinion and that of many others, Bernie Sanders offered a far better foreign policy program than Biden. But Biden may at least restore the Iran nuclear accord, normalize relations with Cuba, and take steps to end the Yemen War.

But one thing is for sure. Those who oppose America’s wars of aggression should take to the streets in peaceful protests no matter who wins.

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VENEZUELA: The Govt. Is Using Warlords to Control the People

Posted by M. C. on March 17, 2020

Bernie can’t repeat socialism was never a chance.

https://www.theorganicprepper.com/venezuela-warlords-control/

by J. G. Martinez D.

Let´s make something clear about Venezuela. Although some violence spikes here and there, it is not like the place is an entire mess (not all of the time at least). It´s almost a million square kilometers. That´s a lot of space.

The country is not like the Middle East. First, our culture is much more American (meaning with this South American, but American nonetheless) and there is some degree of order, usually even these days. There are some “official” gangs and they roam from time to time (especially in the larger cities).

These “official” gangs funded by the ruling class.

These gangs are being provided with all kinds of resources and don´t lack anything the regular citizen has to make miracles to get. Their members are chosen with poor criteria regarding morals, integrity, and values. There is little other name for them than warlords.

The character trait the ruling class looks for, is loyalty and obedience, no matter what. Those who can provide this and provide a degree of consolidation to the entire gang is considered a valued member. The ruling class has been under the counseling of Cubans for years. They have installed an intelligence apparatus just like the KGB, only that in a Caribbean environment and culture.

Common criminals are in the streets but these groups chase them and terminate them. It´s a badly hidden secret their business is to keep middle and poor people “safe” by eliminating low-end criminals, but they have been linked to plenty of other illegal activities too.

This is not surprising. It happens a lot in failed states.

I have written before about criminals being released from prison and armed. They control the society, avoiding uprisings, and at the same time, they terrify it, exhibiting an image of power and control that they necessarily don´t have. But the ruling gangs need to show themselves as having an overwhelming power. New combat units have been created out of thin air, under obvious duplicity of functions. But this has been just to arm sort of a praetorian guard working just to preserve the integrity of the 183 people responsible for the mess and looting.

It´s great such armed organizations are going to be declared as terrorist groups, because that´s what they are. Covering faces in public is prohibited in Venezuela. Why should a LEO do it then in the first place? These guys brag and walk around as if they were the saviors of the world while driving unlicensed pickup trucks. The stories are there, all over the place. They shot an RPG projectile to kill some rebels (who were protected by our constitution in the Art. 350) even murdering a pregnant woman. So much bravery.

Think about what will happen after the Covid-19 outbreak is over.

Maybe this information is not relevant with all the priority that the COVID-2019 has arisen. You´re right. But what will happen after the outbreak has spread? What do you think is going to happen?

What will be the behavior of such gangs, when they behave already as if they rule the place? Once the major, and maybe the military forces, malnourished and weakened have succumbed to the contagion, that precious red line won´t be there anymore. And the citizens are unarmed to redraw it again.

Under the excuse of impeding the spreading of a possible outbreak, this will be used to try and increase the social control, even in an already crippled society as the remains of what is left in my country. This is so unfair, that is unbelievable the world has allowed it.

My worst fears now include the fact of the outbreak being so hard, that this will make the attention to be redirected, leaving us entirely vulnerable to that terrible gang.

Thank God, there are people already providing consultation and advice to the administrative wing capable of doing something. OK, enough with politics.

Covid-19 has arrived in Venezuela.

Let´s provide an update about some stuff that has been happening. As most of you already know, the virus is very likely to have arrived in Venezuela. An eastern citizen presented symptoms after coming from a trip. He´s a senior citizen, but no more details were given.

In an incredible demonstration of media manipulation, this weekend a hashtag erupted and it was positioned on Twitter. (Remember, Venezuela has an incredible amount of bots working from Cuba via the submarine cable installed in the Chavez era, that provides communication between countries.) Of course, this is already an attempt to build up the needed contra-pressure to prohibit public meetings…in the name of the “public safety”.

How many dissidents already would have already been “victim” of the virus? Especially if they were dragged from their homes and thrown in a truck with people who are really sick.

It´s highly suspicious how this virus presented itself after the tense situation with the Hong Kong protests. The economic effects? I don´t know. By eliminating dissidence now, the party thinks that maybe they can enjoy 30 or 35 more years of peace and silence. Remember, they think differently to us Westerns. They think heavily in the next 3 generations and plan according to that. And dang, they have become good at it. I can hardly plan for this year my next moves.

I fear not so much because of me. My health (with a few dents here and there) is not that bad. I never get sick, otherwise because of my odd food choices from time to time. But as I usually have infusions, drink coffee by the liters (therefore yes, have some sleeping disorders) and walk a lot, my health has improved. I´ve lost some weight, and ate a lot of fish (in Venezuela red meat is something that usually was in our main meals, far from the shore sea fish was scarce and expensive, and river fish usually less tasty). My main fear is for my parents, both over 70. They´re isolated since some time ago, though. (smile). They live in a small town, with a reduced local economy…that has been good, and sometimes bad. We´ve had our issues, but we love and support each other no matter what. It has been quite painful.

I posted on my Patreon website some advice an Italian doctor, a member of one of the research teams in China gave. It came from a trust-worthy source, so I decided it was worth sharing.

Another report of what has been happening is, the warlords order their minions to go to the hospital and loot for medicines. You can read about it at this link.

This, dear readers, is what you can expect to happen in a collapse/SHTF situation. And it can be even worse, given the amount of zones with drug dealing/cooking and tons of other organized crime activities. If authorities become overwhelmed, these thugs will be on the streets sooner than you think.

My advice? Organize NOW. Prepare contingency plans. A, B, and C, and whatever other letters you may need.  911 won´t be there, trust me.

Make sure you have your own medical supplies.

A good part of your prepping budget should be addressed to the acquisition of medicines. How to store it long term? I don´t know. I almost lost 300$ worth of medicines since I started to store antibiotics (available without prescription) and all kind of those most commonly used, but we decided to donate it to our local community infirmary, asking the nurse (which we know personally and is a good friend, and a dependable person) please to provide them only to those in need. Some others were offered to friends, as we didn´t have family nearby.

It´s amazing to read the only acknowledged and accepted case of COVID-19 in Venezuela is under armed custody by the intelligence teams. After the collapse that wiped out the economy of the country, any outbreak is very likely to generate a real SHTF situation. Even worse than a war, in my opinion. Non-human components in the equation makes things really hard to analyze and predict.

Our main problem is the lack of trustable information. The Italian government has been entirely transparent, resulting in an infection and death rate several times higher than the reported by China. Of course, you can´t expect reliable data being released by that kind of unelected, but self-proclaimed governments. They don´t respect even the intellectual property, why they would have to inform the rest of the world what happens inside their borders? They are a culture dating from thousands of years ago. Are we little Westerns going to teach them how to rule their citizens?

That´s how they think about the rest of the world.

On the other hand, we already have a lack of services, and if the virus happens to hit hard (something that is entirely random) I can´t predict what could happen. If a humanitarian intervention wasn’t allowed in 2019, it´s very likely the irregular groups impeding it will keep stubbornly their position, unless the pandemics wipe them out too. (Lord have mercy on their souls).

I am constantly asking about the preparedness level of some acquaintances and the few friends that are still enduring there, but…they´re barely surviving. Don´t even think about preparing, but surviving one day after another. And many of them want to leave, too. Especially those with European parents and double nationality. With the outbreak in Europe and the severity it has shown…well, I haven´t had too much time to question them before writing this article, but I will surely mention it in the next few articles.

For the time being, we don´t know if the disease has affected anyone else besides that old man who came from China.

We don´t have the means to know it. Anyone informing or reporting will be chased and imprisoned. That´s the way that mock of a State acts.

I can only ask, this outbreak doesn´t affect us. We´ve been hit too hard, and don´t deserve it.

Stay safe, people.

Be seeing you

 

 

 

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Venezuela’s currency: Worth more as craft paper than as money | News | Al Jazeera

Posted by M. C. on December 29, 2019

Where does all that pretty paper come from? Printing presses.

You know, like what the Fed does.

https://www.aljazeera.com/ajimpact/venezuela-currency-worth-craft-paper-money-191224144545023.html

by

Santa Marta, Colombia – Along the cobblestoned streets of the coastal city of Santa Marta, demand for bolivares from Venezuela is skyrocketing, but not for the bills’ monetary value.

Instead of using his homeland’s money to pay for daily essentials in his native country, Venezuelan immigrant Hector Cordero weaves the currency into wallets and purses, which he sells to tourists in Colombia. His artful crafts underscore the creative methods that Venezuelans are using to extract value from a currency that – amid skyrocketing inflation – many consider worthless.

“These bolivares soberanos notes are worth nothing,” Cordero, who is from Caracas, told Al Jazeera. “The notes I use are not circulating any more since last year.”

 Venezuelan  Currency 2
Hector Cordero makes wallets and purses from Venezuelan currency and sells them to tourists in Colombia [Sergio Held/Al Jazeera]

Cordero uses about 70 notes of 100 bolivares each to handcraft a small coin purse, or 100 of the notes to make a larger wallet. A handbag can take up to 1,200 notes to produce. All in all, the artist incorporates 16 different denominations of Venezuelan currency into his crafts, many of them the discontinued bolivares soberanos.

Cordero sells wallets made from hundreds or even thousands of bills of the now valueless currency for about $8; the handbags go for about $12. He says most of his clients are European and North American tourists – people who want to take home a piece of what was once one of the strongest economies in South America.

He learned his technique by watching others in the streets of Caracas and by studying dozens of YouTube tutorials uploaded by fellow Venezuelans to teach people how to make what has become known as origami venezolano.

“When I run out of bolivares, my brother goes to Venezuela and brings more notes,” Cordero said. “People have a lot of these notes and we buy them. We give them what they ask for.” He explained that people in Venezuela exchange unworthy bolivares by the weight for other forms of currency – usually United States dollars – or for food. People also make the swap for high-denomination bolivares – bills that still hold some dwindling value. The crafts help Cordero and his family get by in their temporary home in Colombia, but he dreams of returning to Venezuela some day…

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"JINGLE BELL ROCK", "ROCKIN' AROUND THE XMAS TREE ...

 

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EconomicPolicyJournal.com: Thanks Socialists: Venezuela Refugee Crisis to Become the Largest in Modern History

Posted by M. C. on December 21, 2019

https://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2019/12/thanks-socialists-venezuela-refugee.html

Thanks Socialists: Venezuela Refugee Crisis to Become the Largest in Modern History

The Venezuelan refugee crisis is about to surpass the scale of the Syrian crisis.

According to Hearts on Venezuela, as 2019 comes to a close, four years since the start of the Venezuelan socialist-caused humanitarian crisis, 4.6 million Venezuelans have fled the country, about 16 percent of the population. The figure is strikingly similar to the 4.8 million people that had fled Syria by 2015, four years into the massive forced displacement crisis there.

The Venezuelan refugee crisis is one of the largest in modern history, and, if current trends continue, there could be as many as 6.5 million Venezuelans living outside of the country by 2020 (based on estimates from the U.N. Refugee Agency)—far outpacing the speed of displacement seen in Syria.

Socialism, in terms of a successful economy, can’t exist  (SEE: Hayek Explains Why Socialism is Impossible).

RW

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Sean Penn

The Dumb and Dumber of economics

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EconomicPolicyJournal.com: Warren Admits Universal Medicare Would Result in Two Million Lost Jobs

Posted by M. C. on November 2, 2019

He has calculated that Medicare for All would result in job losses (mostly among administrators) “somewhere in the range of 2 million” — about half on the insurers’ side and half employed in hospitals and doctors’ offices to argue with the former.

Mostly?

That’s a real hard number! It suggests some layoffs will be among actual medical staff.

Truly amazing.  They are going to make healthcare free and actually think they will be able to get away with less medical staff.
Elizabeth Warren is quickly climbing the ladder to becoming the most dangerous woman in the world

https://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2019/11/warren-admits-universal-medicare-would.html#more

Elizabeth Warren has agreed with an assessment that a “medicare for all” plan would eliminate roughly two million jobs, reports National Review.

Warren was speaking during an interview at New Hampshire Public Radio.

“An economist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, told Kaiser Health News earlier this year that that could result in about 2 million jobs lost,” mostly within the healthcare industry, said NHPR reporter Casey McDermott.

“So I agree,” Warren replied. “I think this is part of the cost issue and should be part of a cost plan.”

The economist cited by McDermot is Robert Pollin of the extreme left Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts.

“Every proponent of Medicare for All — including myself — has to recognize that the biggest source of cost-saving is layoffs,” Pollin said. He has calculated that Medicare for All would result in job losses (mostly among administrators) “somewhere in the range of 2 million” — about half on the insurers’ side and half employed in hospitals and doctors’ offices to argue with the former.

Mostly?

That’s a real hard number! It suggests some layoffs will be among actual medical staff.

Truly amazing.  They are going to make healthcare free and actually think they will be able to get away with less medical staff.

These people actually think they can plan the entire healthcare sector with giveaways to all and get better healthcare!

And further, they appear to have no clue as to what their oppressive central planning would do to innovation in medical care.

These are extremely dangerous people with a dangerous desire to control. This type of extreme planning always gets very bad when it gets implemented. It would put healthcare on the Venezuela economic model.

Elizabeth Warren is quickly climbing the ladder to becoming the most dangerous woman in the world. I have her ranked just under Cristina Fernández de Kirchner who was just elected vice-president in Argentina, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who sure is able to rally the youth to her mad central planing deires.

RW

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Faux

Identity Politics

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Max Blumenthal Arrest Exposes Hypocrisy of Western Media and ‘Human Rights’ NGOs | FAIR

Posted by M. C. on November 2, 2019

Blumenthal’s arrest is another example of the legal harassment of US government critics, including  WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange and whistleblower Chelsea Manning

https://fair.org/home/max-blumenthal-arrest-exposes-hypocrisy-of-western-media-and-human-rights-ngos/

by Joe Emersberger

Grayzone editor Max Blumenthal, a prominent journalistic critic of US policy toward Venezuela,  was arrested by DC police on Friday, October 25, in connection with a protest at the Venezuelan embassy, and held incommunicado. But if you rely on corporate media, or even leading “press freedom” groups, you haven’t heard about this troubling encroachment on freedom of the press.

Blumenthal is a bestselling author whose work has appeared in such publications as the New York Times, CJR, The Nation and Salon. DC police arrested him at his home on a five-month-old arrest warrant, charging him with simple assault for his attempt to deliver food to the besieged Venezuelan embassy; he was held for two days, and for the first 36 hours was not allowed to speak with a lawyer. (In an interview with FAIR, Blumenthal noted that keeping arrestees—generally poor and African-American—from speaking with lawyers or family is par for the course in the DC criminal justice system.) As of this writing, there has been no mention of Blumenthal’s arrest in outlets like the New York Times, Washington Post and Reuters that constantly publish Venezuela-related content, or by the big “press freedom” NGOs.

When freelance US journalist Cody Weddle was detained in Venezuela for 12 hours, it made headlines in the New York Times (3/6/19), Washington Post (3/6/19),  Miami Herald (3/6/19), USA Today (3/6/19), Guardian (3/6/19), UK Telegraph (3/6/19),  NPR (3/10/19), ABC (3/9/19) and Reuters (3/7/19). That’s not exhaustive, but you get the picture.

In Weddle’s case, the human rights industry also responded immediately. Jose Miguel Vivanco of Human Rights Watch tweeted about Cody Weddle’s detention, as did Reporters without Borders (RSF). The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) also put out a statement immediately (3/6/19). There has been nothing from them about Blumenthal.

The two-hour detention of Univision’s Jorge Ramos in Venezuela was likewise big news. In fact, RSF was outraged that Cody Weddle’s detention happened “barely a week” after the Ramos incident.

Nobody should have a problem with Weddle’s arrest or Ramos’ detention getting the widespread attention they did. (The content in the reports about Venezuela is a separate issue.) What should anger anybody who isn’t consumed with hypocrisy is the point Ben Norton, writing in Grayzone (10/28/19), made about Blumenthal’s arrest:

If this had happened to a journalist in Venezuela, every Western human rights NGO and news wire would be howling about Maduro’s authoritarianism. It will be revealing to see how these same elements react to a clear-cut case of political repression in their own backyard.

Blumenthal’s arrest is another example of the legal harassment of US government critics, including  WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange and whistleblower Chelsea Manning–whose plights have similarly been neglected by Western media and NGOs that claim to support press freedom (FAIR.org, 11/3/18, 4/1/19).

Several months ago, activists invited by the Venezuela government stayed in the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, DC, for over a month until they were finally evicted by police on May 24. The presence of the activists delayed a takeover of the embassy by representatives of the Trump-appointed Venezuelan government-in-exile led by Juan Guaidó. The majority of the world’s governments do not recognize Guaidó; that was dramatically highlighted on October 17 when Venezuela’s was voted onto the UN Human Rights Council despite US “lobbying” (i.e., bribes and threats).

Nevertheless, Trump’s recognition of Guaidó in January 2019 was the excuse for intensifying economic sanctions that had already killed thousands of people by the end of 2018. (Incidentally, Jorge Ramos’ two-hour “detention” also received more Western media attention than the study showing the already-lethal impact of Trump’s sanctions—FAIR.org, 6/14/19)…

The lack of coverage of his arrest “is totally consistent with media coverage of the siege of the Venezuelan embassy,” Blumenthal told FAIR. “The violence, racism, sexism of the Venezuelan opposition—none of it was reported in the mainstream US press.” Aside from alternative outlets like Democracy Now! (10/30/19) and the World Socialist Website (10/30/19), one had to turn to Russian state media to find coverage of Blumenthal’s arrest. A Sputnik article (10/30/19) about the case cited damaging exposés Grayzone has published about Guaidó inner circle, one of which recently led to the resignation of right-wing economist Ricardo Hausmann from Guaidó’s shadow administration.

Here’s an idea for media outlets and NGOs concerned about the appeal of Russian public relations efforts: start doing your jobs by holding your own authoritarian politicians and politicized police forces to account.

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In Defense of Ilhan Omar – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on July 20, 2019

https://original.antiwar.com/dave_decamp/2019/07/19/in-defense-of-ilhan-omar/

President Trump held a rally in North Carolina on Wednesday after a week of criticizing certain freshman members of Congress, drawing much media attention. Of course, the cries of racism from the left are nothing new to hear, but in specifically targeting Rep. Ilhan Omar (Dem-Minn) the president hit a new low. Omar needs to be defended. Despite what you think of her domestic policy, she has been one of the most consistent antiwar voices in Congress.

When Trump brought up Omar the crowd started chanting “send her back.” As disgusting as that chant is, it’s no surprise to hear at a Trump rally. Xenophobia is nothing new from Trump or his base. it’s what he built his campaign on. But Just calling Trump “racist” doesn’t work, the Democrats should have learned this from the 2016 election. What needs to be addressed is the falsehood of Trump’s claims against the congresswoman.

Trump started his attacks on Omar during the rally with, “Representative Omar blamed the United States for the terrorist attacks on our country, saying terrorism is a reaction to our involvement in other people’s affairs.” The crowd responded with boos, clearly not educated on Osama bin Laden’s motives for the attacks on September 11th.

Bin Laden’s 1996 fatwa was entitled “Declaration of Jihad Against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holiest Sites. (Expel the infidels from the Arab Peninsula).” Bin Laden’s jihad against the US started because we were occupying his holy land (a point this author has been making a lot lately).

Even George W. Bush’s Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz admitted in 2003 that US troops in Saudi Arabia had “been Osama bin Laden’s principal recruiting device.”…

Somehow acknowledging or even questioning the cause of terrorism is considered radical in this country. We are supposed to believe that we were attacked on September 11th because those crazy Muslims hate our way of life and are jealous of our freedom, not because we occupy their land. For Trump, it’s just too easy for him to make Omar’s point about terrorism seem so crazy. Especially since she is a black Muslim immigrant who wears a headscarf and speaks with an accent.

“She smeared US service members involved in ‘Black Hawk Down’ — in other words, she slandered the brave Americans who were trying to keep peace in Somalia,” Trump said, referencing a tweet by Omar from 2017.

Omar did not “smear” any US troops. She responded to a twitter user who said the worst terrorist attack in Somalia’s history was the battle of Mogadishu, also known as “Black Hawk Down.” The twitter user listed US service member casualties and left out Somali casualties to which Omar responded, “In his selective memory, he forgets to also mention the thousands of Somalis killed by the American forces that day!”…

One of the more ridiculous claims Trump made this week was that Omar and her freshman colleagues are “pro al-Qaeda,” based on nothing. If anybody is “pro al-Qaeda” it’s the president who arms Saudi Arabia, while it is known the Saudis are arming al-Qaeda in Yemen. What makes this claim even more baseless is that Omar has been fighting to stop US arms sales to Saudi Arabia and end US involvement in the war in Yemen altogether.

Trump brought up Omar’s criticism of his policy of aggression towards the Maduro regime in Venezuela, “Omar blamed the United States for the crisis in Venezuela.” But all Omar did was speak the obvious truth that US sanctions play a role in the suffering in Venezuela. No matter what is to blame for the country’s failing economy, US sanctions do not help…

And of course, Omar has been a critic of Israel’s influence on US politicians. Omar’s very mild criticism of Israel has gotten her the most backlash. She tweeted, “It’s all about the Benjamin’s baby,” when referring to a story that journalist Glenn Greenwald shared on twitter. The story was about a US politician condemning Omar’s criticisms of Israel. When asked who was paying politicians to be pro-Israel Omar responded in another tweet, “AIPAC!” The American Israeli Public Affairs Committee is one of the largest pro-Israel lobbying organizations in the US and has lots of influence on US politicians. Both republicans and democrats condemned these statements as “anti-Semitic”

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and other House Democrats released a statement on Omar’s tweets, “Congresswoman Omar’s use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive.” This no doubt paved the way for Trump to attack Omar.

In the middle of these attacks from the president, Omar introduced legislation on Wednesday to protect our constitutional right to boycott Israel. The resolution said, “Affirming that all Americans have the right to participate in boycotts in pursuit of civil and human rights at home and abroad, as protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.”…

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Silicon Valley Giants Collaborate With The US Government On Venezuela – Caitlin Johnstone

Posted by M. C. on May 13, 2019

https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/05/11/silicon-valley-giants-collaborate-with-the-us-government-on-venezuela/

Whenever you speak out on a public forum against internet censorship, like the recent Instagram/Facebook banning of Louis Farrakhan, Infowars, and several right-wing pundits, you always offend two major political groups. The first group are the power-serving authoritarians who identify with the left side of the political spectrum; they argue that it’s good and right to trust Silicon Valley plutocrats to regulate political speech on giant monopolistic platforms. The second group are the capitalism cheerleaders who believe there’s a free market solution to every problem; they argue that these Silicon Valley giants are private companies which are completely separate from the government, so it’s not accurate to refer to what they do with their own property as censorship.

Is that really true, though? Is it really accurate to claim that these sprawling corporations that nobody’s been able to compete with are simply private companies, separate and distinct from the government of the nation they’re based in? If you look at their behavior, it certainly doesn’t seem like it.

The US government is working to topple the government of Venezuela and replace it with a puppet regime. On the off chance that you were still in denial of this self-evident fact, check out this April 24th fact sheet on the website for the US embassy in Brazil which openly boasts about the way economic and diplomatic pressures are being deliberately placed on the Venezuelan government to install Washington puppet Juan Guaido to the nation’s leadership. Trump’s National Security Advisor has blatantly threatened that the US will starve the families of Venezuelan military officers if they don’t overthrow their government, right there on Twitter.

This is a known, unconcealed US government agenda. And the Silicon Valley giants are actively facilitating it.

For example, as highlighted by journalist Max Blumenthal, if you go to Google and look up Venezuela’s embassy in Washington, DC, the result you get looks like this:

Google lists Venezuela’s ambassador to the US as Carlos Vecchio, who has no governmental power and no authority to issue Venezuelan passports, because he represents no actual government but rather the puppet government that the US is attempting to install. Google has no reason to refer to this US government propaganda construct as “Ambassador”, but it does so anyway in support of the US government’s aggressive campaign to replace the Venezuelan government staff in the DC embassy with the staff of its imaginary puppet regime.

Google, by the way, has been financially intertwined with US intelligence agencies since its very inception when it received research grants from the CIA and NSA for mass surveillance. It pours massive amounts of money into federal lobbying and DC think tanks, has a cozy relationship with the NSA, and has been a military-intelligence contractor from the beginning.

With Wikipedia, whose leadership allows it to serve as a narrative management operation for the US-centralized empire, it’s the same thing. Look up Juan Guaido, who has no actual political power and no authority whatsoever in Venezuela, and this is what you’ll see:

It’s been that way since January.

With Twitter it’s the same. During and immediately after the April 30th failed coup attempt in Venezuela the site suspended numerous Venezuelan government accounts, some permanently, and earlier this year Twitter deleted the accounts of nearly 2,000 pro-Maduro users. In 2017 we saw the same, with thousands more pro-Maduro accounts deleted. Nothing comparable has ever happened with the governments of US-allied nations.

With Facebook we’ve seen the pages of Venezuela Analysis and TeleSUR English temporarily suspended, along with the permanent deletion of “inauthentic” Venezuelan, Iranian and Russian accounts in conjunction with Twitter. Facebook’s censorship program is directed by the Atlantic Council narrative control firm, which is funded by the governments of the US and its allies.

There is no legitimate reason for these massive Silicon Valley corporations to be acting in the interests of US State Department agendas, and yet here they are doing exactly that.

Friendly reminder that in an October 2017 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, senators spoke with top legal and security officials for Facebook, Twitter and Google in a very disturbing way about the need for a Ministry of Truth to silence dissenting voices. Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii demanded that the companies adopt a “mission statement” declaring their commitment “to prevent the fomenting of discord.”

Think tank narrative manager and former FBI agent Clint Watts kicked it up even further, saying, Civil wars don’t start with gunshots, they start with words. America’s war with itself has already begun. We all must act now on the social media battlefield to quell information rebellions that can quickly lead to violent confrontations and easily transform us into the Divided States of America.

“Stopping the false information artillery barrage landing on social media users comes only when those outlets distributing bogus stories are silenced — silence the guns and the barrage will end,” Watts added.

These corporations are not separate from the US government in any meaningful way, and their behavior is therefore no better than the state censorship we commonly see US government officials decrying in the governments of non-allied nations. It’s arguably worse in some ways, because at least the Chinese know their government is censoring them.

In a corporatist system of government, where there is no meaningful separation between government power and corporate power, corporate censorship is state censorship. The US Constitution protects its citizenry from government censorship, but they remain completely unprotected from the brand of corporate censorship we’re seeing today which functions in precisely the same way. Whoever controls the narrative controls the world, and they’re using corporate censorship to control the narrative.

Our world’s fundamental problem is that the people calling the shots are omnicidal sociopaths, and the only force capable of stopping them, the collective will of the public, is too thoroughly propagandized to do so. The narratives are too tightly controlled, so the people don’t rise up against the oppressors who are driving them toward extinction via climate chaos or nuclear war. We won’t make it as a species if we can’t find a way to overcome this.

________________________

Everyone has my unconditional permission to republish or use any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitterthrowing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypalpurchasing some of my sweet merchandisebuying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone, or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here.

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War and the Paper Standard – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on May 11, 2019

Is it all about the (petro) dollar?

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2019/05/l-reichard-white/war-and-the-paper-standard/

By

Maybe you’ve noticed the frenzied U.S. Government attempt to replace Venezuela’s duly elected hood-ornament — PresideNT Nicolas Maduro — with Juan Guaido, a nearly unknown U.S. prepped Venezuelan politician?

Why are they trying to do that?…

So, what about this persistent two-decade attack on Venezuela? Whim, whimsey, hobby, madness, or is there more to the story?

Consider this headline from September 2017, only a few months before Venezuela’s current problems started – – –

Venezuela Plans to Drop US Dollar in Gas, Oil Trade

And this before the U.S. supported and/or instigated temporary coup against super-popular and certified by Jimmy Carter Mr. Chavez – – –

…it must be noted that Iraq is attempting to switch to the euro as its currency for settling oil exports, and that Venezuela is reportedly planning to follow suit. –The Japan Times: November 20, 2000

So,” you may be thinking, “What’s the big deal with that?”

Well, because of a 1974 agreement cobbled together by the Nixon administration between the U.S. and Saudis, nearly all oil trade in the world ended up requiring U.S. dollars.

Not coincidentally, this was just three years after Nixon, attempting to finish replacing the gold standard with the U.S. paper-dollar standard, closed the gold window and thus threatened to throw the world economy into chaos. This explains a lot more than most folks realize.

Remember the “petro dollar?” Well, thanks to the Saudi/U.S. established oil-for-dollars tradition, the Brits, Germans, Japanese — in fact just about everyone — had to keep dollars on hand to pay for their oil imports.

And the oil sellers also ended up with a lot of dollars. And so did the countries they bought stuff from. And the dollar tradition spread to trade in other commodities as well. That meant that a large aggregate of U.S. dollars stayed overseas and didn’t return to the U.S.

In fact, The Federal Reserve estimates that the majority of the cash in circulation today is outside the United States.

Experts estimate that “majority of cash … outside the United States” is as much as 80% of the U.S. dollars in circulation. All that money overseas has a lot to do with the fact that everyone has to pay for oil, etc., with dollars.

As Case Sprenkle of the University of Illinois puts it, “Insofar as the money remains abroad and is not used to purchase goods or services from the country that printed it, it serves as an interest-free loan from poor countries to the rich.”

That’s mostly how Uncle Sam is able to run-up such huge budget deficits without causing inflation. So far.

But what happens if people overseas stop using the dollar — and discover the only place they can spend it now is back here in the good ole’ U.S. of A.?

What would happen if the Saudi Arabians said they didn’t want to be paid [for oil] in dollars anymore, but wanted instead, to be paid, say in yen. There would be inflation that would make the 15 to 20 percent inflation in the early 80’s look good. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-NEW MEXICO, C-SPAN II, 18 May 1995 ~12:33:55 PM

Unfortunately, selling oil for something other than U.S. dollars isn’t the only thing threatening the paper-standard. It’s also become the norm for governments and central banks to stockpile U.S. Treasuries to support their own currencies.

So, if a country reduces its stock-pile of U.S. Treasuries, either by selling them off or no longer rolling them over when they reach maturity — and replaces them with something else, as in the past, gold perhaps — this also threatens the U.S. dollar paper-standard.

The problem is, the paper-standard is mostly psychological. It’s literally a con — that is, confidence — game and when the confidence evaporates, game over.

And it’s very difficult to enforce confidence, no matter how many aircraft carriers, etc. you deploy. Or to predict when the confidence will implode.

As former FED Chair Alan Greenspan confessed,

We can readily describe this process, but, to date, economists have been unable to anticipate sharp reversals in confidence. Collapsing confidence is generally described as a bursting bubble, an event incontrovertibly evident only in retrospect. –Alan Greenspan, “New challenges for monetary policy

And these days, instead of cash paper money, most of those Treasury bonds and dollars are now nothing more than electronic zeros and ones, just accounting entries in computer memories that circle the globe at about the speed of light — and can pretty much land anywhere instantly. Ah-oh!

So now we know the likely basis of this frenzied attempt to replace Venzuela’s current hood-ornament. Before he replaces the dollar. AND why Uncle was almost as desperate to replace the previous hood decoration, Mr. Chavez.

Perhaps you also noticed from that Nov. 2000 Japan Times article above that at the turn of the century, “Iraq [was] attempting to switch to the euro as its currency for settling oil exports” too?

Attempting” because as a result of the settlement ending the first U.S./Iraq so-called “War,” waged by Bush Sr., and otherwise known as “Desert Storm,” Iraq had to get U.N. permission. Yes, in case you don’t remember, there were two so-called Iraq “Wars.”

And, a little more substantial, Saddam Turns His Back on Greenbacks

In due course, the U.N. bureaucrats ruled that Iraq could indeed sell it’s oil for any currency it chose. In due course, Iraqi Food for Oil was paid for in euros rather than in dollars. Ah-oh!

Subsequently, seizing on the 911 attacks as the illegitimate and completely bogus excuse, George Bush Jr. and his cronies told at least 935 documented and recorded falsehoods to get “us” to attack the men, women and children of Iraq for the second time.

Here’s the timeline:

March 2000, Iraq announces it’s intention to change Oil for Food to euros and, according to the Oct. 12, 2000 Oil & Gas News, as of Sunday, Oct. 8, the Iraq central bank announced it had begun to buy European currencies.

Twelve months later in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 “911” attacks — and using them as an illegitimate excuse — Bush Jr., Dick Cheney & Company start their bogus anti-Iraq propaganda campaign.

March 19, 2003, 18 months after 911, based on his 935+ lies, U.S. strongman Bush Jr., following in his fathers footsteps, again attacks the men, women and children of Iraq.

And, emphatically punctuating that paper-standard connection, one of the first executive orders Herr Bush Jr. signed after declaring victory on May 2, 2003 “switched trading on Iraq’s oil back to the dollar.”

So perhaps not all U.S. meddlings, assassinations, coups, invasions, regime changes, “wars,” and sanctions are done purely on whim or whimsey, although given the sheer volume of them — and with Operation Just Cause as an example — we can’t rule-out hobby and/or madness.

And there’s a missing piece. Ever since The Church Committee hearings uncovered it, we know the U.S. MSM (Main Stream Media) has been in cahoots with C.I.A./U.S. plots, lies, and scams. Bush Jr.’s Iraq war-crime with his minimum of 935 falsehoods is a good example. And unfortunately, little has changed.

In fact, it’s gotten worse. The one-sided coverage of Mr. Maduro proves nearly complete control in the U.S. Further, C.I.A. media meddling and control have expanded world-wide. Britain is particularly well controlled. German journalist Udo Ulfkotte explains the big picture this way — “We All Lie for the CIA.”

Because of this wide-spread CIA influence, there’s a marker for a standard U.S. Government tactic we can look for as a harbinger of interventions: Demonization – – –

“Well Jim, it is very important in a democracy that you have the support of the people. One of the reasons why [U.S. President] George [Herbert Walker] Bush had to demonize [Iraq’s President] Saddam Hussein was to get the support of the people, and [U.S. President] Bill Clinton has done the same thing, Vice President Gore has done the same thing with respect to [Serbian President] Milosevic.” Raymond Tanter, Fmr. Natl. Security Council Staffer, WATCH IT!, MSNBC, 2 Apr 1999, ~11:56:45 AM EST

However, demonization has a long pedigree.

Read the rest of this entry »

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