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WATCH: The Award Winning 2007 Documentary Sultbløffen [The Famine Scam] [Niger, BBC]

“My son, there are people that say things that aren’t true. There are people who organize in order to say things that aren’t true. They do this to save themselves.”

In 2009 award winning journalists Per Christian Magnus, Robert Reinlund, Anne Marie Groth, and TV 2 received the Great Journalist Award for their 2008 documentary Sultbløffen (also known as “The Famine Scam”). The Great Journalist Award is one of Norway’s most prestigious awards for journalism.

In 2005, the BBC alerted the world of a starvation disaster in Niger. Via compelling and emotive TV reports from the region, BBC claimed an estimated 3.6 million Nigerians were impacted.

The Sultbløffen documentary posed sharp questions in the way the Norwegian authorities and aid organizations described the situation in Niger. It was also very critical of the BBC coverage, which led to vehement reactions from the British. The BBC refused TV 2 further use of archive material from BBC’s Niger reports, which made it difficult for TV 2 to distribute the Sultbløffen documentary to other countries.

Regardless of BBC’s attempts to block the film from distribution, the documentary gained international honor for journalism, including third place in the Golden Nymph Awards. The “Golden Nymph” is the most prestigious television award in Europe.

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Further reading:In 2005 a BBC reporter made television reports about a famine in Niger. The international humanitarian organizations reacted quickly with aid. It later came to light that there had never been any famine. How did this situation arise? [“The Famine Scam“]

 

DEMOCRACY, CLASS AND THE FIGHT AGAINST RECOLONIZATION

Tortilla con Sal

November 5, 2018

By Stephen Sefton

 

Street Art, Managua, Nicaragua [source]

Versión en español

Having lost Eurasia, US and allied elites have prioritized Latin America and the Caribbean, seeking to re-consolidate control of the region’s resources. They work to destroy political movements and leaders who defend their countries’ impoverished majorities against the West’s neocolonial agenda. In particular, Western elites work with local allies to eliminate expressions of national sovereignty. From within, they undermine and co-opt governments and institutions. Externally they deploy all kinds of financial, trade, media and diplomatic aggression as well as military intimidation.

These fundamental processes drove political and economic events in the region through the 1990s. They have done so ever more intensively since the failed 2002 coup against President Chavez in Venezuela and the successful coup against Haiti’s President Jean Bertrand Aristide in 2004. US National Security Adviser John Bolton’s recent condemnation of the governments of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela marks another explicit escalation of a process already well-advanced under President Obama. This Western offensive to recolonize Latin America and the Caribbean has highlighted the complex link between false foreign news coverage and domestic political control in North America and Europe.

Recent Western media attacks on Max Blumenthal and Kerry Ann Mendoza over their coverage of a US writer embedded in Nicaragua’s political opposition categorically exposed that reality. Western journalists and editors were more concerned about a coup-mongering activist-writer legitimately deported home to the US, than tens of pro-government journalists almost burned alive by the opposition terror gangs he supported. These Western journalists share their role as intellectual managers with university academics and managers of non-governmental organizations.

Across the political spectrum, they pose as trustworthy guides, offering false maps of the psychological warfare terrain they aim to control. John Bolton’s counterfactual attack on the governments of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela as a “troika of tyranny” exposed the pernicious class role of these self-interested Western media, academic and NGO managers, who attack those countries’ governments using the same false information and deliberate omission as Bolton. A few recent examples related to Nicaragua make this clear.

Sociology professor Benjamin Waddell falsely claims the Sandinista government has banned protest demonstrations. In fact, the Nicaraguan government has applied its own existing laws to match public order norms in North America and Europe. Public protests in Nicaragua now have to get permission from the police agreeing the time and route of their demonstration. Before that measure, opposition extremists persistently used firearms during demonstrations to provoke the casualties they needed to be able to claim lethal repression.

Waddell himself mentions casualties include “a 16-year-old boy caught in the crossfire between government forces and demonstrators.” A more honest account would have noted the independent parliamentary Truth Commission’s reports showing how the briefing Waddell cites includes well over a hundred deaths entirely unconnected to the protests and other alleged deaths completely undocumented. Nor does Waddell acknowledge independent reports confirming that around two thirds of the fatalities have been shown to be either Sandinista supporters or innocent bystanders.

Across the political aisle, Bill van Auken explains about President Ortega “Until now, Washington has exhibited a certain ambivalence toward the government of the Sandinista leader, who returned to power in 2007 on the basis of an economic program geared to the interests of Nicaraguan and foreign capital.” You read that right. Auken claims the US government will no longer tolerate a Nicaraguan regime geared to the interests of foreign capital. Similar self-contradictory irrationality bedevils ill-informed foreign coverage of Nicaragua.

Other writers display their lazy ignorance via outright falsehoods. Academic Jenny Pearce, commenting on the attempted coup in Nicaragua claims President Ortega “responded to protests at corruption and authoritarianism by unleashing para-police forces against protesters”. In fact, Daniel Ortega quickly responded to the initial extremely violent opposition protests by calling for national dialogue with mediation by the Catholic Church. Compounding her falsehood, Pearce also claims “most” of the coup promoters in Nicaragua “are neither counter-revolutionaries nor right-wing.” To the complete contrary, the coup promoters were all either well known right wing leaders or else foreign-funded groups long openly allied with them.

The coup promoters quickly and openly identified themselves: Piero Coen, Nicaragua’s wealthiest individual; Micheal Healy a manager for Colombian agribusiness interests; the private sector employers’ organization COSEP; fascist Catholic bishops and right wing Nicaraguan political parties; US funded NGOs and media all closely associated with the US allied MRS political party; a foreign-funded rural workers group; and very small numbers of unrepresentative, foreign-supported students. MRS leaders openly accept funding from the US authorities and lobby for support from fascist politicians like Marco Rubio and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. But Jenny Pearce thinks these components “express a democratising, ethical, equitable, environment and land-protecting politics from below.”

Another respected progressive academic, Belgium’s Eric Toussaint overtakes Pearce’s counterfactual analysis with deliberate outright disinformation. Toussaint’s latest attack starts with the long debunked falsehood, that Nicaragua’s proposed Social Security reform was dictated by the IMF. The reverse is true. The Nicaraguan government defended workers and pensioners against IMF proposals. That is why the government proposal was rejected by the right wing coup promoters who cleverly used mass manipulation via social networks and right wing media to mobilize ill-informed protesters. By contrast, Toussaint has no excuse for ignoring the clearly documented reality.

Among much other disinformation Toussaint, defends sinister individuals like Francisca Ramirez and Medardo Mairena who in recent years, regularly organized often violent roadblocks to protest against Nicaragua’s proposed inter-oceanic canal. In retrospect, they were clearly preparing for the recent coup attempt. During the attempted coup between April and July, Ramirez, Mairena and their violent thugs operated roadblocks intimidating and extorting local farmers and business people while ensuring free transit for their own supporters’ farm animals and produce. Medardo Mairena, earlier expelled from Costa Rica accused of people trafficking, now awaits trial for the murder of four police officers and a school teacher on July 12th just as the failed coup attempt was ending.

Right or Left, Western apologists for the attempted coup in Nicaragua cover up what is self-evident. The US authorities and their allies attack the governments of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela precisely because they have democratized their societies and economies against Western and allied elite interests. This year’s failed coup attempt in Nicaragua faithfully copied the serial coup attempts in Venezuela since 2013. All these attacks have been organized and timed to facilitate US government sanctions aimed at regime change. Currently, on Nicaragua the big lie is that the crisis continues, when in fact it has been over since July and life quickly returned to complete normality.

Recycling falsehoods promoting the US regime change agenda in Latin America and the Caribbean corrupts democratic debate in the West and creates an alibi for the phony, anti-democratically framed elections of US allies like Brazil’s fascist ideologue Jair Bolsonaro. Clear-sighted anti-imperialist writers like Max Blumenthal, Kerry Ann Mendoza and Jonathan Cook, among many others, repeatedly make this same point. Untruthful foreign affairs coverage by the Western intellectual, NGO and media class, destroys democratic debate at home, to the benefit of NATO country elites. Western coverage of Latin America and the Caribbean, especially Nicaragua and Venezuela now, demonstrates that reality over and over again.

 

[Stephen Sefton lives in Nicaragua and is a founder of Tortilla con Sal.]

How Circular is the Circular Economy?

Low-tech Magazine

November 3, 2018

By Kris De Decker

The circular economy – the newest magical word in the sustainable development vocabulary – promises economic growth without destruction or waste. However, the concept only focuses on a small part of total resource use and does not take into account the laws of thermodynamics.

Circular-economy-2

Illustration: Diego Marmolejo.

Introducing the Circular Economy

The circular economy has become, for many governments, institutions, companies, and environmental organisations, one of the main components of a plan to lower carbon emissions. In the circular economy, resources would be continually re-used, meaning that there would be no more mining activity or waste production. The stress is on recycling, made possible by designing products so that they can easily be taken apart.

Attention is also paid to developing an “alternative consumer culture”. In the circular economy, we would no longer own products, but would loan them. For example, a customer could pay not for lighting devices but for light, while the company remains the owner of the lighting devices and pays the electricity bill. A product thus becomes a service, which is believed to encourage businesses to improve the lifespan and recyclability of their products.

The circular economy is presented as an alternative to the “linear economy” – a term that was coined by the proponents of circularity, and which refers to the fact that industrial societies turn valuable resources into waste. However, while there’s no doubt that the current industrial model is unsustainable, the question is how different to so-called circular economy would be.

Several scientific studies (see references) describe the concept as an “idealised vision”, a “mix of various ideas from different domains”, or a “vague idea based on pseudo-scientific concepts”. There’s three main points of criticism, which we discuss below.

Too Complex to Recycle

The first dent in the credibility of the circular economy is the fact that the recycling process of modern products is far from 100% efficient. A circular economy is nothing new. In the middle ages, old clothes were turned into paper, food waste was fed to chickens or pigs, and new buildings were made from the remains of old buildings. The difference between then and now is the resources used.

Before industrialisation, almost everything was made from materials that were either decomposable – like wood, reeds, or hemp – or easy to recycle or re-use – like iron and bricks. Modern products are composed of a much wider diversity of (new) materials, which are mostly not decomposable and are also not easily recycled.

For example, a recent study of the modular Fairphone 2 – a smartphone designed to be recyclable and have a longer lifespan – shows that the use of synthetic materials, microchips, and batteries makes closing the circle impossible. Only 30% of the materials used in the Fairphone 2 can be recuperated. A study of LED lights had a similar result.

The large-scale use of synthetic materials, microchips, and batteries makes closing the circle impossible.

The more complex a product, the more steps and processes it takes to recycle. In each step of this process, resources and energy are lost. Furthermore, in the case of electronic products, the production process itself is much more resource-intensive than the extraction of the raw materials, meaning that recycling the end product can only recuperate a fraction of the input. And while some plastics are indeed being recycled, this process only produces inferior materials (“downcycling”) that enter the waste stream soon afterwards.

The low efficiency of the recycling process is, on its own, enough to take the ground from under the concept of the circular economy: the loss of resources during the recycling process always needs to be compensated with more over-extraction of the planet’s resources. Recycling processes will improve, but recycling is always a trade-off between maximum material recovery and minimum energy use. And that brings us to the next point.

How to Recycle Energy Sources?

The second dent in the credibility of the circular economy is the fact that 20% of total resources used worldwide are fossil fuels. More than 98% of that is burnt as a source of energy and can’t be re-used or recycled. At best, the excess heat from, for example, the generation of electricity, can be used to replace other heat sources.

As energy is transferred or transformed, its quality diminishes (second law of thermodynamics). For example, it’s impossible to operate one car or one power plant with the excess heat from another. Consequently, there will always be a need to mine new fossil fuels. Besides, recycling materials also requires energy, both through the recycling process and the transportation of recycled and to-be-recycled materials.

To this, the supporters of the circular economy have a response: we will shift to 100% renewable energy. But this doesn’t make the circle round: to build and maintain renewable energy plants and accompanied infrastructures, we also need resources (both energy and materials). What’s more, technology to harvest and store renewable energy relies on difficult-to-recycle materials. That’s why solar panels, wind turbines and lithium-ion batteries are not recycled, but landfilled or incinerated.

Input Exceeds Output

The third dent in the credibility of the circular economy is the biggest: the global resource use – both energetic and material – keeps increasing year by year. The use of resources grew by 1400% in the last century: from 7 gigatonnes (Gt) in 1900 to 62 Gt in 2005 and 78 Gt in 2010. That’s an average growth of about 3% per year – more than double the rate of population growth.

Growth makes a circular economy impossible, even if all raw materials were recycled and all recycling was 100% efficient. The amount of used material that can be recycled will always be smaller than the material needed for growth. To compensate for that, we have to continuously extract more resources.

Growth makes a circular economy impossible, even if all raw materials were recycled and all recycling was 100% efficient.

The difference between demand and supply is bigger than you might think. If we look at the whole life cycle of resources, then it becomes clear that proponents for a circular economy only focus on a very small part of the whole system, and thereby misunderstand the way it operates.

Accumulation of Resources

A considerable segment of all resources – about a third of the total – are neither recycled, nor incinerated or dumped: they are accumulated in buildings, infrastructure, and consumer goods. In 2005, 62 Gt of resources were used globally. After subtracting energy sources (fossil fuels and biomass) and waste from the mining sector, the remaining 30 Gt were used to make material goods. Of these, 4 Gt was used to make products that last for less than one year (disposable products).

Circular-economy-diego

Illustration: Diego Marmolejo.

The other 26 Gt was accumulated in buildings, infrastructure, and consumer goods that last for more than a year. In the same year, 9 Gt of all surplus resources were disposed of, meaning that the “stocks” of material capital grew by 17 Gt in 2005. In comparison: the total waste that could be recycled in 2005 was only 13 Gt (4 Gt disposable products and 9 Gt surplus resources), of which only a third (4 Gt) can be effectively recycled.

About a third of all resources are neither recycled, nor incinerated or dumped: they are accumulated in buildings, infrastructure, and consumer goods.

Only 9 Gt is then put in a landfill, incinerated, or dumped – and it is this 9 Gt that the circular economy focuses on. But even if that was all recycled, and if the recycling processes were 100% efficient, the circle would still not be closed: 63 Gt in raw materials and 30 Gt in material products would still be needed.

As long as we keep accumulating raw materials, the closing of the material life cycle remains an illusion, even for materials that are, in principle, recyclable. For example, recycled metals can only supply 36% of the yearly demand for new metal, even if metal has relatively high recycling capacity, at about 70%. We still use more raw materials in the system than can be made available through recycling – and so there are simply not enough recyclable raw materials to put a stop to the continuously expanding extractive economy.

The True Face of the Circular Economy

A more responsible use of resources is of course an excellent idea. But to achieve that, recycling and re-use alone aren’t enough. Since 71% of all resources cannot be recycled or re-used (44% of which are energy sources and 27% of which are added to existing stocks), you can only really get better numbers by reducing total use.

A circular economy would therefore demand that we use less fossil fuels (which isn’t the same as using more renewable energy), and that we accumulate less raw materials in commodities. Most importantly, we need to make less stuff: fewer cars, fewer microchips, fewer buildings. This would result in a double profit: we would need less resources, while the supply of discarded materials available for re-use and recycling would keep growing for many years to come.

It seems unlikely that the proponents of the circular economy would accept these additional conditions. The concept of the circular economy is intended to align sustainability with economic growth – in other words, more cars, more microchips, more buildings. For example, the European Union states that the circular economy will “foster sustainable economic growth”.

Even the limited goals of the circular economy – total recycling of a fraction of resources – demands an extra condition that proponents probably won’t agree with: that everything is once again made with wood and simple metals, without using synthetic materials, semi-conductors, lithium-ion batteries or composite materials.

 


References:

Haas, Willi, et al. “How circular is the global economy?: An assessment of material flows, waste production, and recycling in the European Union and the world in 2005.” Journal of Industrial Ecology 19.5 (2015): 765-777.

Murray, Alan, Keith Skene, and Kathryn Haynes. “The circular economy: An interdisciplinary exploration of the concept and application in a global context.” Journal of Business Ethics 140.3 (2017): 369-380.

Gregson, Nicky, et al. “Interrogating the circular economy: the moral economy of resource recovery in the EU.” Economy and Society 44.2 (2015): 218-243.

Krausmann, Fridolin, et al. “Global socioeconomic material stocks rise 23-fold over the 20th century and require half of annual resource use.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2017): 201613773.

Korhonen, Jouni, Antero Honkasalo, and Jyri Seppälä. “Circular economy: the concept and its limitations.” Ecological economics 143 (2018): 37-46.

Fellner, Johann, et al. “Present potentials and limitations of a circular economy with respect to primary raw material demand.” Journal of Industrial Ecology 21.3 (2017): 494-496.

Reuter, Markus A., Antoinette van Schaik, and Miquel Ballester. “Limits of the Circular Economy: Fairphone Modular Design Pushing the Limits.” 2018

Reuter, M. A., and A. Van Schaik. “Product-Centric Simulation-based design for recycling: case of LED lamp recycling.” Journal of Sustainable Metallurgy 1.1 (2015): 4-28.

Reuter, Markus A., Antoinette van Schaik, and Johannes Gediga. “Simulation-based design for resource efficiency of metal production and recycling systems: Cases-copper production and recycling, e-waste (LED lamps) and nickel pig iron.” The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 20.5 (2015): 671-693.

[Kris De Decker is the creator and author of “Low-tech Magazine”, a blog that is published in English, Dutch and Spanish. Low-tech Magazine refuses to assume that every problem has a high-tech solution. (Since 2007).]

WATCH: How Well Does Fossil Fuel Divestment Combat Climate Change?

The Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) 

Economics and Climate Justice Activism: Assessing the Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement

by Robert Pollin and Tyler Hansen

April 24, 2018
Abstract

We present an economic analysis of fossil fuel divestment as a strategy for advancing an effective global climate stabilization project. The basic question we ask is: how effective are campaigns to force various entities to sell their fossil fuel stock holdings likely to be in driving down CO2 emissions? We conclude that divestment campaigns, considered on their own, have not been especially effective as a means of significantly reducing CO2 emissions, and they are not likely to become more effective over time. We reach this conclusion both through an analysis of the available descriptive data on global divestment patterns as well as an econometric modeling exercise that evaluates the impact of divestment events on the stock market prices of fossil fuel companies. We reach this conclusion while also recognizing that fossil fuel divestment campaigns have several important virtues. Nevertheless, we conclude that most efforts now devoted to divestment campaigns would be better spent on more direct efforts to drive down fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

Download the paper: Economics and Climate Justice Activism -Assessing the Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement

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October 1, 2018: “As the fossil fuel divestment movement grows around the world, a new study suggests its economic impact might be overstated. Leaders in the environmental movement respond to PERI economist Robert Pollin.” [The Real News Network]

 

 

The Oligarchs Behind the “Humanitarian” Regime Change Network Now Exploiting Jo Cox’s Death to Push For UK Labour Split

Mint Press News

October 22, 2018

By Vanessa Beeley and Whitney Webb

 

Nick Grono at the Concordia Summit in September 2016 – The Power of Partnerships

LONDON — Jo Cox, the late Labour MP whose tragic death in 2016 shocked Britain and the world, has recently become a rallying cry for forces within the U.K. Labour Party who seek to weaken Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and to return the party to the pro-intervention Tony Blair era. As this article (the final installment of our three-part series) will show, this effort to manipulate Jo Cox’s death is the latest move in a wider effort to turn Cox’s legacy to the advantage of pro-intervention interests in Britain and abroad, particularly with regard to foreign intervention in Syria. While these moves — from support for “humanitarian” intervention in Syria to the drive to split the U.K. Labour Party — are cast as people-driven objectives, they are in fact oligarch-driven.

Previous reporting on Jo Cox and her legacy revealed that the Jo Cox Fund, set up soon after Cox’s death, was created by a group of four pro-interventionist “humanitarians” — Mabel van Oranje, Gemma Mortensen, Tim Dixon and Nick Grono — all of whom have a history of involvement, either directly or indirectly, in past regime-change operations. They are all also connected to some of the world’s most ardent imperialists, as well as to the Not for Profit Industrial Complex (NPIC).

The NPIC is effectively the money-laundering operation of the world’s most powerful industrialists. By creating a socially appealing “not for profit” NGO that serves to influence public opinion in the direction of the industrialist agenda, the global elite ensure a monopoly over the chosen market. The oligarchy uses the NPIC to manufacture public consent for the schemes and campaigns that will maintain their power, privilege and wealth. Why would they create an entity that would be detrimental to their survival and success?

The NPIC gives an unsuspecting public the illusion of choice and a stakeholding in resolving our world issues. The reality is that we are being persuaded to “choose” the options that benefit only the world’s most powerful influencers and ensure the exploitation of humanity to secure supremacy for the very few.

The four founders of the Jo Cox Fund, referred to in this article as the “Jo Cox Four,” have used this fund to promote — among other causes — the U.S. coalition-financed White Helmets, whose primary purpose has been to escalate unlawful NATO state-proxy and direct military intervention in Syria.

In addition, these individuals behind the Jo Cox Fund have used that foundation to apply strategies aimed at promoting foreign military intervention that were first perfected during the NATO intervention in the Balkans, as several of the creators of the Jo Cox fund promoted that military intervention to great effect.

In applying those strategies to the current conflict in Syria, these players have helped develop a massive public-relations machine with the White Helmets at its center, and programmed that machine to use Cox’s death to sanctify the controversial group and shield it from scrutiny. Now, they are using her death to justify the creation of a new Labour party to prevent the ascendency of the anti-intervention platform of current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

As this article will reveal, this NGO pro-Syrian-regime-change network — of which the Jo Cox Fund is part — is being promoted by powerful oligarchs with connections to the U.K., U.S. and Canadian governments. In the context of the call to partition U.K. Labour, the efforts driven by these billionaires show that they are hardly “people driven” and are instead being pushed by the same pro-intervention, monied interests that have long supported regime change in Syria and have since helped to weaponize Jo Cox’s death.


This is Part III of a three-part series on the life and legacy of Jo Cox and the posthumous fund set up in her honor. Read part 1 here and part 2 here. In this final part of the series, we focus on exploring the oligarchs who are driving the NGO and PR nexus aimed at manufacturing consent in Western nations for regime change in Syria, with a particular focus on how these oligarch-driven efforts are now fueling an effort to divide the U.K. Labour Party in order to undermine Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-war policies. Notably, those efforts within U.K. Labour are using Jo Cox and her highly manipulated legacy as a rallying cry.


 

The eBay billionaires and the Syria regime-change PR machine

As previous reporting has detailed, the Jo Cox Fund — the posthumous fund created soon after the late MP’s death — was formed by a group of four individuals who have long been involved in manufacturing consent for foreign “regime change” wars, first in the Balkans and now in Syria, and have been aided in this effort by massive funding from governments and elite billionaires. Yet, of those elite billionaires, some have promoted the Jo Cox Fund founders — and, with them, their pet projects such as the White Helmets — more than others.

One billionaire in particular stands out. One of the “eBay billionaires” who amassed a fortune as the online auction company’s first employee, Canadian billionaire and “philanthropist” Jeffrey Skoll not only shares past connections to the Jo Cox Four but has continuously used his massive wealth and his “charitable” foundation to promote them and their causes.

Indeed, the Skoll Foundation — a partner of USAID, a NPIC-leading U.S. government organization that has a reputation for funding U.S.-friendly subversive forces in foreign countries — has provided funding to the groups directly linked to Jo Cox founders, such as Crisis Action and Global Witness. And the associated Skoll World Forum has promoted the cause of Western-backed regime change in Syria — hosting the founder of the White Helmets, James Le Mesurier; the current leader of the White Helmets, Raed Saleh; the program director of the White Helmet parent organization Mayday Rescue, Farouq Habib; as well as all four of the founders of the Jo Cox Fund: Mabel van Oranje, Gemma Mortensen, Tim Dixon, and Nick Grono.

 

Who is Jeffrey Skoll?

Following on from his success at Ebay that ensured Skoll’s meteoric rise to the ranks of the billionaire elite, Skoll has capitalized upon that success to garner multiple awards from within the monied elite circles that he now inhabits.

Skoll has been awarded the Carnegie Medal for Philanthropy, which is considered to be the equivalent to the Nobel Peace Prize for philanthropy. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is a big-business club that is described as a “foreign policy think tank” with centers in Washington, New Delhi, Moscow, Beirut and Beijing. Former President Jessica Matthews said that her aim was to make Carnegie the place where world thinking can be incorporated into thinking about U.S policy and to transmit that thinking to the global audience.

On the Carnegie board of trustees is Syrian oil magnate Ayman Asfari, a U.K. resident and financial contributor to the Conservative government that has been at the forefront of the U.S. Coalition war effort in Syria. Asfari has been instrumental in financing much of the PR industry, including the White Helmets, that builds the “regime-change” narratives that criminalize the Syrian government and its allies, an effort detailed in Parts 1 and 2 of this series.

Skoll established Participant Media (PM) in 2004. As with so many of the social-consciousness documentary production sites that have sprung up in recent times to alter our perception with beautifully crafted storylines designed to mobilize bias in a particular direction, PM claims to combine the “power of a good story well told with opportunities for real world impact.” PM joins the throng of billionaire-funded and -founded media and PR agencies of power.

Diane Weyermann is PM’s president of documentary film and television. Weyermann previously worked with Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute, which has played a pivotal role in promoting the White Helmet Oscar-winning “documentaries.” For seven years Weyermann was the director of the Open Society Institute New York’s arts and culture program. Weyermann also launched the Soros Documentary Fund which later became the Sundance Documentary Fund in 1996.

Skoll has been made an Officer of the Order of Canada “for his generous commitment to social causes and for his innovative practice of philanthropy.” Very often the bridge between big business and government agencies is made by such ostensibly “philanthropic” activities of the capitalist entities and individuals.

The Canadian government reportedly led the organization of the recent evacuation of alleged White Helmet operatives out of southern Syria via Israeli occupied Syrian territory in the Golan Heights, before they were transported to Jordan and on to their countries of resettlement, which include Canada, the U.K., France and Germany.

The Canadian government has been a consistently staunch supporter of the White Helmets, backing their multiple bids for the Nobel Peace Prize despite protests from groups and individuals who campaigned against Canada joining with the France-U.K.-U.S. (FUKUS) alliance that has strongly pushed for the downfall of the Assad government. Canadian foreign policy has effectively aligned itself with the Syrian-linked philanthrocapitalist sector led by individuals like Skoll.

Skoll slots into the billionaire complex that underpins the White Helmet structure with ease. In 2015, Skoll had a “conversation” with Mabel Van Oranje on “Belief in a Collective Future.” Skoll has donated heavily to the Clinton Foundation and met with Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state during the early days of the conflict in Syria. The Skoll Foundation has partnered in at least 21 commitments to programs designed by the Clinton Global Initiative. In April 2012, Clinton met with Skoll and Sally Osberg of Skoll’s charity during a U.S State Department-sponsored forum on government-business partnerships. The same month, USAID, the State Department/CIA contractor for expanding U.S global influence, announced a partnership with the Skoll Foundation to invest in health, energy, governance and food-security innovations. USAID has also provided at least $31m in funding to the White Helmets in Syria via one of its preferred subcontractors, Chemonics.

Skoll united with British business tycoon Richard Branson and Mabel Van Oranje in the funding of The Elders. Van Oranje resigned from her position as CEO of The Elders in 2012. It was Skoll’s Participant Media that produced Al Gore’s 2006 apocalyptic movie An Inconvenient Truth. Gore was Bill Clinton’s Vice President from 1993 – 2001. Skoll’s investment management firm, Capricorn Investment LLC, also received a $35 million investmentfrom Gore following the film’s success, which the firm invested into hedge funds and private partnerships, helping to grow Gore’s now sizeable fortune. Skoll co-founded Capricorn Investment LLC with former Vice President of Goldman Sachs Stephen George.

 

Skoll Foundation and Forum

When we start to look more closely at the “storytelling” partners of the Skoll Foundation, we draw even closer to the White Helmet PR industry. Skoll partners with the Sundance Institute, the BBC, NPR and Doc Society–Flex Fund, among others. The Sundance Institute, the BBC and Doc Society are central to the production and promotion of the White Helmet movie campaigns, including the Netflix White Helmet documentary that won the Oscar in 2016 and then Last Men in Aleppo that was nominated for the Oscar in 2017.

These organizations are literally the architects of “humanitarian war” and the White Helmets are their centerpiece, the ultimate “story” that, if told well, will draw Western nations deeper into the quagmire of a failed regime-change war in Syria. As Vanessa Beeley wrote in Architects of Humanitarian War:

I believe it’s safe to conclude that there is a vast, well-financed PR machine operating behind the scenes of the White Helmet organisation, whitewashing their discredited image and mapping out their political, media and Hollywood trajectory – in lock-step with the PR campaign is a media defence force headed up by Channel 4, The BBC and The Guardian. The hub of the film and PR sector is Doc Society.”

Listed among the Skoll Foundation “awardees” are Crisis Action and Global Witness — again linking to the White Helmet PR apparatus. Crisis Action brings together Brendan Cox, Gemma Mortensen and Tim Dixon of the Jo Cox Four. Crisis Action’s role in the White Helmet marketing complex was explored in detail in Part 2 of this series. Global Witness connects back to Mabel Van Oranje, who is on the advisory board with Alexander Soros.

The annual Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship is organized by the Skoll Foundation in partnership with the Said Foundation, or more precisely the Said Business School. The Forum convenes 800 social entrepreneurs, influencers, policy makers, philanthropists and students to “learn, problem solve and build community.”  The Said Foundation is “partnered” by Ayman Asfari, previously mentioned in connection with the White Helmet marketing team, headed up by the Syria Campaign.

The Skoll World Forum (SWF) was established in 2004. One of the sessions in the 2018 Forum was on “The Art of Co-creation: a Storytelling Model for Impact and Engagement.” As we have mentioned previously, almost the entire White Helmet PR team and White Helmet leadership have been listed as contributors to the SWF. These include James Le Mesurier, former British MI6 agent who established the White Helmets in Turkey and Jordan while employed by ARK Group; Raed Saleh, former mobile-phone salesman, now leader of the White Helmets; Tim Dixon MD, of Purpose; Farouq Habib, project manager at Mayday Rescue; and Brendan Cox, Mabel Van Oranje, Gemma Mortensen, and Nick Grono. CEO and president of the UN Foundation Kathy Calvin is also a contributor alongside the White Helmet team, and her role in promoting the billionaire-supported “humanitarian” group is further investigated later in this article.

In 2017, the SWF brought together Brendan Cox, Tim Dixon and Gemma Mortensen in a session entitled “Mobilizing a Movement: More in Common,” which focused on the Jo Cox-inspired movement to enable more “inclusive societies that look past our differences and embrace our common humanity.”

During this talk Dixon alludes to the iconic image of Alan Kurdi washed up on a beach in Turkey, which launched the refugee “crisis” in September 2015. The timing of this campaign, so rapidly adopted by the Jo Cox four and their associated PR agencies and billionaire network, was curiously in lock-step with the timing of the Russian intervention in Syria at the behest of the elected Syrian government. During the televised talk, Dixon describes the image of Kurdi’s body as “a defining moment for the More in Common impetus.” Dixon’s cynical exploitation of Kurdi’s death to promote the causes of the Jo Cox Four, including the White Helmets, was exposed by a statement given by Kurdi’s aunt, Tima Kurdi, in February 2017, in Canada:

Regime-change policy has destroyed my country and forced my people to flee. [U.S. Congresswoman] Tulsi [Gabbard]’s message was exactly what I have been trying to say for years, but no one wants to listen. [..]If the West keeps funding the rebels, we will see more people flee, more bloodshed, and more suffering. My people have suffered for at least six years.”

Tima Kurdi established very quickly that the furor over the refugee crisis, generated by the shocking images of her drowned nephew, was nothing more than a marketing campaign designed to facilitate a reaction and military push-back against the Russian intervention that threatened to derail the U.S. Coalition plans to topple the Syrian government.

Watch TEDXSkoll video showcasing a female White Helmets operative:

 

The many hats of Pierre Omidyar

Undeniably a formidable force in the promotion of the “Jo Cox Four” and the White Helmets, Jeffrey Skoll is not the only eBay billionaire involved in manufacturing consent for Syria regime change or in promoting the activities of the founding members of the Jo Cox Foundation. Indeed, Pierre Omidyar — the founder of eBay who was responsible for hiring Skoll and allowing him to amass his fortune — also shares many of the same connections to these individuals and the “humanitarian” regime change network currently exploiting the death of Jo Cox.

Like Skoll, Omidyar is also increasingly well-connected to the U.S. political establishment and was directly involved in promoting regime change in Ukraine alongside the Obama era U.S. State Department. Omidyar has a close relationship to Obama, having attended the same elite Hawaii school and having made more visits to the Obama White House between 2009 and 2013 than Google’s Eric Schmidt, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, or Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. He also donated $30 million to the Clinton Global Initiative and directly co-invested with the State Department, funding groups – some of them overtly fascist – that worked to overthrow Ukraine’s democratically elected government in 2014.

Even after Obama left office, Omidyar continues to fund USAID, particularly its overseas program aimed at “advancing U.S. national security interests” abroad. Omidyar’s Ulupono Initiative, a venture-capital fund that operates in his home state of Hawaii, cosponsors one of the Pentagon’s most important contractor expos, a direct connection between Omidyar and the military industrial complex that profits from U.S.-backed regime-change wars.

However, Omidyar’s very clear connections to the U.S. political establishment and U.S.-led regime-change efforts have often been obfuscated by reports on Omidyar’s “philanthropy.” Indeed, Omidyar has been heavily promoted as an “entrepreneurial” philanthropist, having won the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy and received accolades in the mainstream press for his unique “way of giving.”

One of Omidyar’s charitable groups, the Omidyar Network, has given large grants to George Soros’s Open Society Foundations (where Jo Cox Fund founder Mabel van Oranje once worked) and the Tides Center, and has collaborated with the U.K. government and the Ford Foundation. Notably, another arm of Omidyar’s charitable network, Humanity United, provided a considerable portion of the funds that established the Clinton-promoted Freedom Fund, whose inaugural CEO was Nick Grono, one of the founders of the Jo Cox Fund.

Another “philanthropic” project of Omidyar’s is the New York-based publication, the Intercept. That publication was largely founded with the intent of publishing the leaked U.S. government documents provided by Edward Snowden, but over 90 percent of those leaks have yet to be made public  over five years after the Intercept’s founding, leading critics to accuse Omidyar of seeking to “privatize” those leaks.

Yet, of the documents that have been published, one published last year exposed the opposition paramilitary group, the Free Syrian Army, as taking marching orders from the Saudi royal family. However, that document was published by the Intercept only after the U.S. State Department itself began to report more honestly on the nature of these so-called “rebels,” even though the Intercept had the document in its possession since 2013.

Furthermore, Intercept writers covering Syria frequently promote Syrian “rebels” and the opposition while also promoting pro-regime change talking points. For instance, Murtaza Hussain – a long-time writer at the Intercept – has written numerous stories downplaying the terrorist and Wahhabist elements of the Syrian “rebels.” In the last three years, Hussain has written pieces portraying known Al-Qaeda propagandists, such as Bilal Abdul Kareem, and Al-Qaeda-linked organizations, such as the White Helmets, in an overwhelmingly positive light — failing to mention in both cases the significant evidence tying these entities to known terrorist groups.

In another piece, published in August 2016, Hussain gave voice to al-Nusra Front leadership in a lengthy interview that largely whitewashed the group’s Wahhabist leanings and links to terrorist acts in Syria. In September 2016, on Twitter, Hussain asserted that Saudi Arabia’s funding of armed factions was not necessarily “good” but that “there is little to indicate they contribute to terrorism.”

Hussain is by no means the only Intercept writer who has taken such a pro-opposition stance regarding Syria. A now infamous Intercept piece on Syria, published last September, committed glaring factual errors on basic facts about the war, while also mistranslating a speech given by Assad so as to link him to American white nationalists. In addition, last year, the paper hired Maryam Saleh, a journalist who has called Shia Muslims “dogs” and has taken to Twitter in recent months to downplay the role of the U.S. coalition in airstrikes in Syria. Saleh also has ties to the U.S.-financed propaganda group Kafranbel Media Center, which also has close relations with the terrorist group Ahrar al-Sham.

Even “anti-interventionist” Intercept journalists like Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald have come under fire this past year for allegedly promoting inaccurate statements that supported pro-regime-change narratives in Syria, particularly in regard to an alleged chemical-weapons attack in Douma. That attack is now widely believed to have been staged by the White Helmets.

Given Omidyar’s connections to the political establishment, his past efforts aimed at affecting Western-backed regime change, and the way in which the publication he owns has peddled misinformation on Syria, Omidyar — like Skoll — is very much a part of “humanitarian” regime-change complex that uses billionaire “philanthropy” as a disguise for the manipulation of public sentiment in order to justify foreign military intervention to a Western audience.

 

UN Foundation, Concordia Summit and the White Helmets

Image result for Nick Grono Concordia Summit

Nick Grono also attended the Concordia Summit in September 2016 – The Power of Partnerships

Three months after Jo Cox’s murder in September 2016, two of the Jo Cox Fund originators — Tim Dixon of Purpose and Nick Grono, CEO of the Freedom Fund — took part in the annual Concordia SummitDixon was a key participant in the Private Sector Forum on Migration and Refugees, with a focus on the Purpose-”incubated” refugee and migration hub. Their objective? To change hearts and minds in Europe in relation to the refugee “crisis” — a Syria-centric “crisis” that has been largely manufactured and sensationalized with the aim of criminalizing the Syrian government. The reality is that Syrian refugees are returning to Syria as vast swaths of Syrian territory is liberated from Western-backed terrorist occupation.

Brendan Cox was also a speaker at the 2016 event, as were many other supporters of U.S. Coalition intervention in Syria: Lina Attar, of the Karam Foundation; President and CEO of International Rescue Committee, David Miliband; Lara Setrakian of News Deeply, a “rebel”-partisan media outlet funded by Ayman Asfari; George Soros; Johannes Hahn, EU Commissioner; and Hans Vestberg, UN Foundation board member —  to name a few.

Tim Dixon attends the 2016 Concordia Summit. (Photo: Concordia Summit website)

This is taken from the Purpose website in 2015:

Purpose is proud to have served as a first time programming partner for the 2015 Concordia Summit. Now in its fifth year, the Summit convenes the world’s preeminent thought leaders and decision makers to address the most pressing global challenges by highlighting the potential that effective cross-sector collaboration can have in creating a more prosperous and sustainable future.”

Jeremy Heimans, the co-founder and CEO of Purpose, spoke at this event. Their session, “IntroducingNew Power in a Multi-stakeholder World,” featured an exciting line-up of speakers, each pioneering change in their respective industries in innovative ways. The focus was on the “civil society” sectors and their ability to implement transformation via peer-driven participation campaigns. Tapping into global energy and human agency was order of the day. One of the panelists, Scott Heiferman, promoted his model “Meet Up,” which harnesses the power of people-to-people networking: “How can you empower people to turn to each other – how can you unlock that most beautiful phenomenon?”

Jeremy Heimans is also co-founder of an organization, Avaaz, that “unlocks that phenomenon” and harnesses the power of peer participation in influencing public opinion — particularly on Syria, as covered previously in our series of articles.

True to form, Purpose produced a report in May 2017, “Understanding the Conflicted Middle: European Public Opinion towards Refugees,” shifting hearts and minds on refugees and migrants in Europe. While this report presented a number of symptoms and remedies, it does not investigate the root cause of the global refugee crisis, which is due, to a great extent, to the U.S. policy of military intervention globally that results in the mass exodus of peoples from war-torn nations into Europe. There, these refugees are weaponized to manufacture consent for further Western military intervention by organizations that claim to be protecting their interests.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, United Nations H.E. Filippo Grandi; Founder and Chair, Soros Fund Management, and the Open Society Foundations, George Soros; and Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship of Canada, John McCallum attend 2016 Concordia Summit – Day 2 at Grand Hyatt New York on September 20, 2016 in New York City. (Ben Hider/Getty Images North America)

Concordia’s annual report in 2016 described this summit as the “largest and most ambitious event to date, bringing together over 2000 thought leaders from across sectors, including General David Petraeus and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright … and philanthropist George Soros.”

Albright rose to notoriety with her dismissal of the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children as being “worth it” when the U.S. imposed punishing and lethal economic sanctions on Iraq leading up to the first Iraq war in 1991 — sanctions that have, in part, persisted until today.

The Concordia Summit was established in 2011, just as the questionable “Arab Spring” was causing shock waves across the Middle East region. It was designed as an establishment intersection, a hub of global elite influencers and transformers. Cory Morningstar, an expert on the “smart power” complex, noted that the Concordia Summit was modelled on the success of initiatives such as the Wall Street Journal CEO Council and the Clinton Global Initiative: “Mathew Swifte (Chairman and CEO) and Nicholas Logothetis founded the Concordia Summit in February 2011 […] Swifte studied under global ‘leaders’ such as former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright..”

“The 2011 keynote address for Concordia (‘Cross-sector collaboration as a means of combating extremism and terrorism’) was given by U.S. President George W. Bush; followed by former U.S. President Bill Clinton in 2012; and Andrew Liveris, President, Chairman & CEO of The Dow Chemical Company in 2013.” ~ from article by Cory Morningstar, Purpose Goes to Latin America

The 2018 Concordia Summit just took place in September at the Grand Hyatt, New York, describing itself as “The largest and most inclusive nonpartisan forum alongside the United Nations General Assembly.” The line-up of soft-power magnates and establishment political and capitalist moguls was impressive. The summit featured the cross-fertilization of influencers, decision-makers and opinion-formers across a multitude of sectors, who came together to ensure the “next generation of partnership-builders” would be shaped in their image with their agenda indelibly imprinted upon the future. In its own language, from the Concordia Annual Summit 2018 overview“The 2018 Concordia Annual Summit will provide a powerful forum to catalyze action through shared value approaches and social impact objectives.”

In 2018, UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) joined forces with Concordia as a “programming partner.” This was not the first time they had collaborated. In 2016, UNHCR also took a central role at the Concordia Summit. In the words of Matthew Swift, co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Concordia:

The mission of UNHCR is truly one of the core values of Concordia’s work. The commitment to ensuring that everybody has the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge, having fled violence, persecution, war or disaster at home is a subject we’ve heavily focused on in the past, and we look forward to continuing these calls to action at the 2018 Concordia Annual Summit.”

Other “programming partners” in 2018 included the NATO-aligned think-tank, the Atlantic Council; the George W. Bush Institute; Open Society Foundation; U.S Chamber of Commerce; U.S State Department (Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships); U.S Global Leadership Coalition; and the Wilson Center, a Washington-based global issues research center. The Concordia Annual Summit appears to be a thinly disguised cartel established to promote U.S private- and public-sector interests far into the future, with potentially devastating consequences for the countries where such policies will be implemented by the world’s elite “philanthro-capitalists.”

Perhaps more remarkable is how Concordia gathers together so many of the players in the decades-long campaign to destabilize Syria and topple its elected government from power. Players who would capitalize upon the assassination of Jo Cox to appropriate public funds and direct them into financing elements of the regime-change project in Syria such as the Al Qaeda-linked White Helmets.

 

Kathy Calvin and the UN Foundation

The UN connection extends beyond the role of the UNHCR, with the attendance of Kathy Calvin at the 2016 Concordia Summit. Calvin is the CEO and president of the United Nations Foundation. Calvin, Mabel Van Oranje and Jeffrey Skoll intersect on the Advisory Council of the Elders — alongside British entrepreneur and billionaire Richard Branson and Sally Osberg, who is the president and CEO of the Skoll Foundation. Once more, we see how the star-studded cast of the movement-building and social-change engineering world overlap and circulate in the ever expanding and interwoven spheres of influence.

In a 2011 interview with Forbes, Calvin laid out the objectives of the UN Foundation:

[The UN Foundation is a construct designed to bring together] some of the brightest entrepreneurs under 40 through the Global Entrepreneurs Council to take the UN and the UN Foundation – and our campaigns, partnerships, and programs – to the next level of innovation and impact. They are the next generation of entrepreneurs who understand that working with the United Nations is good for the world and for business. These innovative thinkers will help us engage with new generations to help the UN create 21st century solutions to some of the world’s toughest problems.” (emphasis added)

It would appear that Calvin is suggesting that the influence of the UN be exploited to expand U.S. private-sector business interests worldwide.

The UN Foundation came into existence in 1998 with a $1 billion commitment from former vice chairman of Time Warner and founder of CNN Ted Turner. His investment in the UN Foundation was described as his “gift for the future of Humanity.” Turner believed that the UN Foundation would “catalyze a new movement in philanthropy.”

The list of UN Foundation’s partners is another glittering array of the world’s most powerful foundations and individuals. The Skoll Foundation is on that list alongside AOL, Google, Royal Dutch Shell, Walt Disney, Unilever, and the governments of the U.S, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Australia, UAE, U.K. and the World Bank. UN Foundation is the heavyweight of philanthropy, backed by billionaires from a vast spectrum of market sectors and political backgrounds.

 

Ted Turner and Calvin’s connections to Clinton

Ted Turner endorsed Hillary Clinton’s election campaign in 2016. Time Warner was among the myriad of media moguls who financed the failed Clinton campaign to the tune of $50,000 – $100,000, according to statistics published by Politico. CNN reporter Larry King was once caught on open-mic in the early 1990s telling Bill Clinton that “Ted Turner would serve” him. A report in the Washington Times cited Turner as saying “Hillary Clinton is one of the smartest and most powerful people in the world.” Turner praises Clinton uncritically, ignoring her record as one of the most malevolent war-hawks of our generation. It is Clinton’s gleeful celebration of Libya’s Muammar Gadaffi’s sodomization and murder by the U.S.-supported “rebels” that has come to symbolize the moral vacuum of the U.S. neocon foreign policy — policy that also serves the billionaire corporatocracy presided over by moguls such as Ted Turner.

Calvin’s connections to the Clinton clan also run deep. In 2013, the UN Foundation and its Global Entrepreneurs Council announced the “MY World Global Initiative” at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting. According to the UN Foundation website:

MY World looks beyond 2015 – the endpoint for the current Millennium Development Goals – to engage people from all parts of the world and ensure their views will be part of the global conversation about the post-2015 global development agenda. To date, approximately one million people from 194 countries have contributed to MY World, and the UN Foundation is committed to helping secure one million more.” (emphasis added)

United Nations Foundation, Michael Bloomberg, Kathy Calvin on far right with Chelsea and Hillary Clinton. New York 2014. Signalling new initiative between Clinton Foundation, UN Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies. (Photo: Zimbio)

In 2014, Hillary Clinton, Kathy Calvin and Michael Bloomberg formed a new partnership to “close gender gaps.” Bloomberg is reported to be the eighth richest man in the U.S., with a net worth of $48.9 billion (2018) — a “philanthrocapitalist” whose causes range from gun control to climate change. The event, which took place on December 15, 2014 at Bloomberg Philanthropies in New York, sought to:

[H]ighlight the work of Data2X – a partnership launched by Secretary Clinton in July 2012 to identify and spur efforts to fill gender data gaps – and unveil new partnerships to improve data collection and use for women and girls. Better gender data are needed to guide policies, set targets, and monitor progress for women and girls.” (emphasis added)

Calvin’s links to the PR and media industries pre-date her appointment as CEO of the UN Foundation. Listed in Fast Company’s “League of Extraordinary Women,” before joining the UN Foundation in 2003, Calvin was President at AOL Time Warner Foundation, responsible for its “philanthropic” activities. Immediately prior to joining Time Warner, Calvin was Senior Managing Director at Hill and Knowlton. Hill and Knowlton is perhaps best known for its production of the hoax “incubator baby” story that provided the “humanitarian” pretext for the first Gulf War — later exposed, as recounted in The Diabolical Business of Global Public Relation Firms, as an elaborate staged event:

Before the first Gulf War, a fake news propaganda spectacle took place courtesy of WPP’s Hill & Knowlton. They were hired by Citizens for a Free Kuwait and eventually received nearly $10.8 million to conduct one of the most effective public relations campaigns in history. Hill & Knowlton helped create a national outrage against Iraq by publicizing the horrifying events supposedly caused by Iraqi soldiers during Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.”

Interestingly, this connection then extends to Tim Dixon and Purpose New York. In September 2014, Purpose welcomed Josh Hendler as Chief Technology Officer. Just prior to joining Purpose, Hendler had held the same position at Hill and Knowlton Strategies.

Hendler’s mission was to “… develop the next-generation of tools to empower people across the globe to build movements…” (emphasis added).

Promotional image taken from the B-Team website.

Kathy Calvin has recently teamed up with billionaire Richard Branson on the Virgin Unite Foundation-incubated B-Team. Calvin is one of the 23 leaders whose mission is to “deliver a Plan B that puts people and planet alongside profit.”  The B-Team is managed by none other than Purpose. 

Branson, the Virgin tycoon, paid tribute to Jo Cox on his website in 2016. In this message, Branson presented a thinly veiled political message alluding to the “More in Common” movement that would shortly be established by Brendan Cox. Cox resigned from his position as director of More in Common in February 2018, following allegations of sexual harassment.

Branson also supports Nick Grono’s Walk Free Foundation, alongside Tony Blair, Hillary Clinton, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and Bill Gates. Grono is one of the Jo Cox Four. Branson has also promoted the Netflix White Helmet documentary, describing it as offering “real insight into the horror and humanity, happening right now in Syria.” Many of the 20 documentaries promoted by Branson as must-watch reports have been produced by Skoll Foundation’s Participant Media. Another example of the reach and power of the billionaire PR industry.

In a separate report, Vanessa Beeley mapped out the intricate PR and film production processes that propelled the White Helmet movies to international acclaim and award ceremonies. She writes, in Architects of Humanitarian War:

White Helmet propaganda has seduced droves of human beings with a genuine humanitarian reflex that has been exploited by this “centre-piece” perception-changing construct. The story told by the White Helmet media and PR agencies has elevated this Al Qaeda support group to celebrity cult status. The world has fallen in love with what should most horrify it, while the people of Syria have their voices asphyxiated by Hollywood glamour and transformational mass communication.”

Yet again, we see how the web of billionaire philanthrocapitalism functions and how it builds its platforms of influence and behavioral-change power base. The components of this web are interchangeable — mobile and flexible, able to move swiftly and effectively, powered by billionaire resources and financial monopoly of the desired market sectors. It is a formidable force for change in this world, but accountable to none. Thus questions must be asked as to who benefits most from the changes their apparatus will impose upon some of the poorest nations in this world and their poverty-stricken or war-displaced citizens.

The White Helmets benefit from the Billionaire Network

The Social Good Summit (SGS) is held annually during the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) week. A gathering of elite change manufacturers and global policy makers who desire to shape the future we apparently want to live in by 2030:

A dynamic exploration of the world we want to live in by 2030, the Social Good Summit will focus on how we can unlock technology’s potential to make the world a better place.”

The SGS is organized in partnership with the UN Foundation, the UNDP (UN Development Programme), Ted Turner-funded media website Mashable, multinational investment bank UBS, Zionist cultural non-profit 92Y, and pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.

The 2017 SGS was clearly a vehicle to further promote and iconize the White Helmets, combining political elite with celebrity cult elements that reinforced the stellar, Oscar-winning status of the faux “humanitarian” group.

Connie Britton with Khaled Khatib and Moustafa Munir at the Social Good Summit 2017. (Photo: Instagram)

Connie Britton, actress and UNDP Goodwill Ambassador, uncritically promoted the group’s carefully cultivated reputation as “civilian do-gooders” during an interview conducted at the summit. The White Helmet representatives Britton interviewed were Khaled Khatib and Mounir Mustafa. We have spoken about Mustafa’s links to armed groups in Syria in Part 2 of this series.

Despite having the term “social good” in the name, the organizations behind the SGS, as well as its promotion of weaponized “humanitarian” constructs like the White Helmets, again reveal a powerful billionaire-driven PR industry which seeks to manipulate the innate human desire to “do good” and benefit the collective into supporting policy moves — such as regime change abroad — that benefit only the global monied elite.

 

Using Jo Cox to divide the Labour Party

A more worrying development that has emerged from the exploitation of the murder of MP Jo Cox is the apparent attempt to divide the already beleaguered Labour Party and to undermine its leadership, in particular Jeremy Corbyn.

Cox herself turned against Corbyn shortly before she was killed in 2016 and was forced to apologize after a newsletter had been circulated by one of her aides with the headline “Why I knifed Corbyn.” Two weeks prior, Cox had co-written an article with Neil Coyle in the Guardian, expressing regret over nominating Corbyn and dissatisfaction with his leadership.

Shortly after Cox’s murder, billionaire Branson came into conflict with Corbyn over the privatization of the rail services in the U.K. Corbyn was pushing for public ownership and this came into direct confrontation with the business objectives of Branson’s Virgin empire.

On many fronts Corbyn is challenging the establishment paradigm. As journalist Jonathan Cook explained, “Corbyn is being destroyed, like blowing up a bridge to stop an advancing army.” Part of the advancing army is Corbyn’s apparent determination to investigate and bring an end to military intervention by the British government and its allies. This has set the cat among the Syria “regime-change” pigeons, who have striven towards the destabilization of Syria for at least eight years, many for longer.

When the Labour MP and close ally of Corbyn, Chris Williamson, tweeted his support for the co-author of this report, Vanessa Beeley, the NATO-aligned twittersphere was outraged. Oz Katerji, long-time supporter of the Syrian “revolution” and vocal detractor of the Syrian government, rose to blow up the bridges in an article for the New Statesman.

Katerji has close ties to NATO-aligned “research” website Bellingcat, which has been instrumental in maintaining international pressure upon the Syrian government by supporting the chemical-weapon narratives generated by the White Helmets. Bellingcat’s founder, Eliot Higgins, is employed by the Atlantic Council, which is funded by the U.K., UAE, and U.S. weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin, among others. Katerji is closely involved with the refugee “crisis,” on the “frontlines” as a team member of the Help Refugees NGO. The common factors that link all members of the war-for-peace-in-Syria cartel become more blatant as we delve deeper into their activities and connections.

Help Refugees is supported by none other than Soros’s Open Society Foundation and the Radcliffe Foundation, led by by philanthro-capitalist billionaire Frank Giustra, among other influential foundations. (Giustra’s connections to the billionaire network were covered in Part 2 of this series)

Katerji is also a dedicated promoter of the White Helmets, often seen attacking comments on Twitter that provide evidence of the White Helmet affiliations to extremist groups, including Nusra Front and ISIS. Katerji has been hosted by the Fabian Society in the House of Lords to discuss the refugee “crisis” in relation to Syria. Jo Cox’s connections to the Fabian Society are examined in Part 1 of this series.

In the New Statesman article, Katerji invoked the name of Jo Cox to effectively divide the Labour party along clearly defined lines. On one side, those Labour MPs who will not swing into war on the coat-tails of the Conservative Party, on the other those who would align themselves with the Blairite policies of “intervention at all costs.” Jo Cox is being used as a banner under which the Blairites can renew their campaigns to “do more” in Syria, which effectively signals greater military and economic pressure upon the Syrian people and perpetual war. For the Blairites, war can be prevented only by the departure of the Syrian Government and its replacement with an Islamist regime that would signify the end of Syria’s secular culture. This is an agenda that is not aligned with the wishes of the majority of the Syrian people, a fact that is apparently of no consequence to the “Jo Cox party.”

Oz Katerji delivering ambulances to Raed Saleh, leader of the White Helmets, in terrorist-occupied Idlib. (Photo: Raed Saleh Twitter)

The title of Katerji’s hit piece, indirectly aimed at Corbyn, was “Labour can be Jo Cox’s party or Chris Williamson’s – it cannot be both.” His article ends with the claim that there is a “war for the heart of the Labour party underway; ultimately Labour cannot be both the party of Jo Cox and the party of Chris Williamson. If Williamson’s latest endorsement receives no censure from the Labour leader’s office, the answer to that question will be heard loudly and clearly all the way from Westminster to Damascus.”

Watch Oz Katerji heckle Corbyn at a Stop the War Coalition conference in London in 2016:

Katerji is right in one way, but what is happening is a much bigger war. It is a war against humanity. A war during which we must connect ourselves even more closely to the peoples of nations under attack by the perpetual war industry sustained by the billionaire network. The powers that be are exploiting every possible avenue to demonize those who would challenge their agenda. From “anti-Semitism” to “genocide denial,” they are weaponizing tragedy and history to serve their own purposes. As Jonathan Cook puts it:

The corporate elites have no plan to go quietly. Unless we can build our ranks quickly and make our case confidently, their antics will ensure the paradigm shift is violent rather than healing. An earthquake, not a storm.”

 

Chuka Umunna’s new think tank

Beyond Katerji’s invocation of Jo Cox as a justification to divide U.K. Labour and return it to the pro-intervention party it once was under the leadership of former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, there is considerably more evidence that the same billionaire-led “humanitarian” regime-change network working to promote regime change in Syria is also intimately involved in the effort to divide the party. Look no further than Labour MP Chuka Umunna.

Umunna has long been a vocal critic of Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters, whom he has likened to “nasty trolls” for opposing war abroad. Umunna has long staunchly supported U.K. military adventurism, consistently supporting the deployment of U.K. military forces abroad as well as supporting regime change in Syria and the bombing of that country. Indeed, Umunna’s pro-intervention stance is so well defined that former U.K. Prime Minister and pro-interventionist Tony Blair once promoted Umunna to be the future leader of the Labour party.

More recently, Umunna has played a critical role in the anti-Semitism smear campaign targeting Corbyn, calling Corbyn’s Labour “institutionally racist” despite Corbyn’s long past as an anti-racism campaigner. The anti-Semitism issue was also used by Umunna to cast doubt on Corbyn’s ability to lead the party, and to promote a split of that party if Corbyn continued on in his current role as leader.

Given Blair’s past endorsement, Umunna seems poised to lead a new Blairite Labour spin-off if efforts to divide the party are successful. In this context, it is important to note that Umunna himself is directly connected to the same billionaire-led nexus that includes the humanitarian “regime-change” network that has been the focus of this series.

On October 15, Umunna announced via a column in the Independent that he would be chairing a new “progressive” think tank, Progressive Centre UK. However, as Umunna’s own column reveals, the Streatham MP repeatedly conflates “progressivism” with the “centre-left,” which Umunna defines as the politics of neo-liberal corporatists like Tony Blair, Emmanuel Macron and Justin Trudeau.

While Umunna’s new think tank does not yet describe its funding or its partners, it does openly note that it is proudly part of the “Global Progress” network, which is an outgrowth of the Global Progress Initiative (GPI). GPI was created in 2009 by the Center for American Progress, a U.S. think tank led by John Podesta, long-time Clinton associate and chair of Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 presidential campaign, as well as another Clinton confidante, Neera Tanden. GPI promotes former neo-liberal leaders like Tony Blair of the U.K., Bill Clinton of the U.S., Helle Thorning-Schmidt of Denmark, Justin Trudeau of Canada, and Ricardo Lagos of Chile as “progressives.”

Notably, Umunna’s ties to John Podesta and the Clintons precede the creation of this new think tank, as Umunna reached out to Podesta, then chair of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, and offered to advise Clinton campaign staff on how to beat the “American Jeremy Corbyn,” U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders.

Umunna’s Progressive Centre UK makes it clear that is the U.K. branch of the Global Progress network, as it promotes its partners as the Global Progress network’s other branches in Canada (Canada2020), Italy (Volta) and France (Terra Nova). The Progressive Centre UK’s Italian partner, Volta, does not have a single Italian on its advisory board, despite being an Italian political think tank. Its advisory board includes former Senior Adviser for Innovation to Hillary Clinton, Alec Ross; former U.K. Labour politician and minister under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, David Miliband; French-born Murdoch lobbyist, Frederic Michel; and former Prime Minister of Denmark, Helle Thorning-Schmidt. Notably, David Miliband was once promoted as the “stand-in” for Jo Cox’s seat in Parliament following her murder and encouraged by Blairites within the Labour Party to challenge Jeremy Corbyn for leadership of the party.

Thorning-Schmidt’s inclusion in this network is also important given that she is currently CEO of Save the Children, where Jo Cox once worked, as did Brendan Cox until his “inappropriate behavior” was exposed. Thorning-Schmidt is a board member of the European Council on Foreign Relations alongside Mabel van Oranje. She is also a member of the board of the International Crisis Group (ICG) alongside George Soros; former Treasury Secretary under Clinton, Larry Summers; and Frank Giustra, among others.

As mentioned in Part 2 of this series, ICG and Save the Children — which both are intimately linked to Thorning-Schmidt — are part of the Crisis Action network, which is directly connected to the Jo Cox Four through Gemma Mortensen, Brendan Cox, and Tim Dixon, as well as Mabel van Oranje. Thorning-Schmidt’s connections are even more notable in the context of the push to divide the U.K. Labour party, given that she is married to Stephen Kinnock, a U.K. anti-Corbyn Labour MP who led the original efforts to split the Labour party following concern over Corbyn’s rise.

Like Volta, the Global Progress Network’s Canadian branch, Canada2020, is similarly problematic. While casting itself as an “independent” and “progressive” think tank, it proudly lists its partners as multinational corporations including Facebook, Google, Amazon, General Electric, massive multinational mining conglomerate Rio Tinto, Mastercard, and Shell Oil. Canada2020 recently hosted the Global Progress summit that Umunna promoted in his column announcing Progressive Centre UK. Umunna attended that summit, which was also attended by Tim Dixon of the Jo Cox Four, as well as Ben Scott of the Omidyar Network and John Podesta himself.

Though the newly-minted Progressive Centre UK has yet to host an event or make its donors and partners public, the other branches of the Clinton-linked Global Progress Network make it clear exactly what this new Umunna-led group will support and with whom it will associate.

 

Conclusion: Much exposed, much delving yet to do

The Jo Cox Fund, set up following the MP’s sudden and tragic death, formed the basis for the oligarch-backed NPIC network that would weaponize Cox’s death in order to promote pro-intervention policies and to attack actual progressive politicians in the U.K. Labour party who would oppose such British allied intervention abroad.

In their efforts to promote and enact regime change abroad, particularly in Syria, the Jo Cox Four have used their connections to the global elite and elite-funded “humanitarian” organizations to exploit the sympathy and outrage provoked by her death in order to manufacture consent for the pro-intervention policies that are the hallmark of the Blairite wing of U.K. Labour.

However, as the myriad connections between this “humanitarian” regime-change network and elite billionaires show, these policies are supported and designed not by the people but by oligarchs and the political elite. Only by masking their otherwise unpopular policies in the cloak of Jo Cox’s tragedy, and humanity’s natural empathy for good samaritans and the downtrodden, has this small group of powerful individuals been able to launder disastrous wars and military adventurism as “the right thing to do.” The Jo Cox Fund and the four individuals behind it truly exemplify the group of “middlemen” who engineer this manipulation at the behest of some of the world’s richest and most controversial figures.

Though over two years have passed since Cox’s murder, her death continues to be weaponized to suit this same agenda. Now, the global elite continue their fight to oust Jeremy Corbyn from power, fearful that the political triumph of a pacifist will greatly complicate their plans to keep the U.K. embroiled in endless wars abroad, serving their ever expanding economic and global power ambitions.

Yet they can succeed only by hiding their true role in their efforts to oust Corbyn and weaken Labour by dividing it. That is the precise reason that these oligarchs, through their vast fortunes, have constructed a massive inter-connected network of “humanitarian” organizations to convince us that their policies are “people-driven” when they are really “oligarch-driven.”

However, such efforts can bear fruit only under cover of darkness. Only by shining light on this nefarious network, as we have begun to do here, can the public be warned that they are being deceived. No one knows better than the oligarchs that a well-informed public is the greatest threat to their neoliberal policies, their wars, and their ultimate goal of global market monopolies and resource supremacy.

While this investigation has revealed many aspects of this oligarch-driven network, it has only scratched the surface. More work in this field is needed and we encourage any and all inquiring minds to delve deeply into this billionaire-built “humanitarian” regime-change network, exposing its true motives and its manipulative bias mobilization techniques that threaten all our futures.

 

 

[Vanessa Beeley is an independent journalist, peace activist, photographer and associate editor at 21st Century Wire. Vanessa was a finalist for one of the most prestigious journalism awards – the 2017 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism – whose winners have included the likes of Robert Parry in 2017, Patrick Cockburn, Robert Fisk, Nick Davies and the Bureau for Investigative Journalism team. You can support Vanessa’s journalism through her Patreon Page.]

[Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.]

The Story of a Coup

La Progressive

October 23, 2018

By Barbara Moore

nicaraguan coup

 

Bismark Martinez was missing for more than sixty days before a video turned up showing a handful of men standing around as he sat on the ground hardly able to move. Martinez was a government worker and his grandson is often on the podium of pro-government convocations along with the family members of other victims demanding justice. The video documenting his gruesome torture was obtained through accessing the phones of suspects detained from the Jinotepe area. The tranque (road block or barrier) in Jinotepe was a site of brutal opposition violence. This young man speaks about the killing of both his father and younger brother.

As the dust begins to settle many of the criminals are being charged and more evidence comes to light. One couple who had assumed a decisive role in the criminal activities based in the Masaya neighborhood of Monimbo are alleged to have received financing from Miami. While the international media continues to back the regime-change narrative some justice is taking place and it is taking place in an orderly manner with an awareness that, in the eyes of the world, it is the government of Nicaragua which remains on trial.

Meanwhile there is evidence which cannot even be revealed because it could put others in danger. Specific, eye-witness accounts of sniper use by the opposition have been shared with me and according to the same source even the government has withheld some information for the sake of relations with neighboring countries. That transnational gang members were involved in the attempt to destabilize the country was confirmed in June, but the extent to which that was the case is not yet known.

More recently, a pitched battle was fought on social media which originated with an article written by Max Blumenthal and a counter-attack which appeared on Buzz Feed regarding a self-proclaimed free-lance journalist named Carl David Goette-Luciak. The media opera unfolded with allegations against Blumenthal of doxing and even of placing the life of Goette-Luciak in danger. The International Committee to Protect Journalists joined the fray, yet no one bothered to ask why Carl David was posing with armed-masked gunman and as far as I know no one attempted to defend the articles written by Goette-Luciak through which he legitimized an opposition which was brutal and treacherous.

As a journalist, Carl David Goette-Luciak could have written about the opposition supporters who wandered away from the ‘March of Flowers’ protest and who killed one squatter and took another hostage. I can’t speak as to who was present when the first squatter was killed, but as they later walked with their hostage Carl David Goette-Luciak was with them. He was present as they began beating him. Goette-Luciak never mentioned the incident.

Miraculously, Blumenthal was able to fire back with an interview of a good friend of Goette-Luciak’s named Wyatt Reed. The friend detailed how he had traveled to Nicaragua with Goette-Luciak, people they met and the close ties Goette-Luciak had forged with opposition members. He discussed Goette-Luciak’s career ambitions and the role his friend had played in the recent coup-attempt. Wyatt was honest in disclosing his own misgivings about the regime-change operation in terms of what it would mean for the people of Nicaragua.

Vindicated, Blumenthal emerged like Hans Solo leaving his detractors in the dust, with little choice but to confront the solid evidence of intrigue and regime-change objectives. Clashes related to empire are seldom resolved so decisively. If a sequel to the controversy was inevitable it should have occasioned questions regarding journalistic standards and integrity. Instead, The Guardian wasted no time in publishing yet another propaganda piece, this time by Hannah Summers who materialized like the spiritual twin of Carl David Goette-Luciak, making outlandish claims about the Ortega/Murillo government without offering a shred of evidence.

As Nicaragua strives to recover and the security situation here improves by the day, the drama has a second front in Great Britain and that divide will be one to watch.

As Nicaragua strives to recover and the security situation here improves by the day, the drama has a second front in Great Britain and that divide will be one to watch. Jeremy Corbyn, a long-time supporter of Palestinian rights has been subjected to his own share of calumny as the Labor Party of which he is now the head deals with a barrage of claims of anti-Semitism. The Guardian is known to view Corbyn with a degree of disfavor while The Canary which not only re-published the Blumenthal piece, but stood by him even before the Wyatt Reed interview, views Corbyn approvingly.

Meanwhile as the perfidy of The Guardian continued, The Daily Beast owned by the conglomerate IAC Company published a piece by Charles Davis, the latest voice to join the chorus of Ortega haters. Davis took on the case of Dania Valeska Alemán Sandoval who within Nicaragua is viewed less as the brave soldier Davis describes, than she is as an actress who has switched sides and disappeared more than once only to reappear and resume a highly public presence, seemingly in the best of spirits, galivanting with her blue and white compatriots.

That was the case following the first time she claims to have been abducted, an experience she did not speak of at the time and which no one had heard of until Marco Noel Novoa suddenly appeared in a Washington Post expose, claiming he and others had been tortured. Dania Valeska was alleged to have been apprehended at the same time that Novoa claims to have been. Not without coincidence there were many videos circulating at the time which documented opposition use of torture, cases with hard evidence and in this case, a follow up interview.

While the mainstream media had showed no interest in the abuse of some poor kid, which incidentally took place in the presence of a Catholic priest and an Evangelical pastor, lo and behold, the opposition produces Marco Novoa who drops out of the sky with his claims of torture at the hands of the Nicaraguan security forces. Speaking from the comfort of Miami, his case was granted first-rate publicity and all without offering any evidence, not a bruise, a cut, nor a picture of a bruise or cut.

Valeska Sandoval moved center stage through her participation in the in the 24-hour-siege-hostage massacre. In the course of that event she placed a call to her mother, asking her mother’s forgiveness, as though she was about to be killed. These types of stunts are par for the course in terms of opposition behavior and some felt the entire incident was timed to obscure a massacre that had just recently taken place in a rural part of the country which left five dead and for which there is no question the opposition was responsible.

Following the hostage-siege hoax, the students celebrated by burning a day care center which was part of the public university known as UNAN. The next day as police moved on a nearby tranque two young males were killed; they were not students. At some point following these events Dania Valieska was taken into police custody which resulted in a video-taped confession. Charles Davis calls into question the information she detailed in the confession which involved events that took place inside and outside of the UNAN campus. Davis also gives credence to her most recent claim that her torture had led to the confession.

But Charles Davis fails to acknowledge that much of what Valeska described in the video confession matches up with other accounts of the criminal activities which took place at UNAN. He omits evidence such as the huge cache of weapons that were recovered from the site including various firearms and Molotov cocktails as well as stolen cars and stolen motor bikes, evidence which substantiate the details provided in Dania Valeska’s confession, mainly that by night the criminal element which had converted the university into its base of operations went out and perpetrated crimes in the neighboring communities. Davis also declines to mention or possibly did not know that, like the technical college, the UNAN had been utterly trashed by those who had taken over the site; the computer laboratory, medical teaching facilities, classrooms and offices were destroyed and the day care center was burned to the ground.

The claim by Davis that the Dania Valeska confession was over-acted is itself a bluff. The confession is delivered in a natural, casual manner and Valeska shows no sign of trauma, let alone any sign of physical abuse. Conversely, the ‘perdoname’ is poorly acted and so over the top in terms of hysteria that in country, the whole incident is viewed by many as a complete joke. In some versions of the call she is laughing just before the faked desperation begins. If Charles Davis had any notion of how things have actually played out here, he might have guessed it is far more likely the case that Dania Valesksa was pressured to say she had been tortured. As soon as the video was released, the opposition had labeled her as a traitor. At any rate had she not been accepted back into the opposition camp, I think she would have been very much alone.

The opposition unquestionably carried out both random acts of terror and destruction as well as acts which targeted individuals connected to the FSLN party, government workers and those considered to be Sandinista sympathizers. Any legitimate pro-democracy opposition would have completely distanced themselves from such acts of terror, but instead members of the Civic Alliance, high ranking clergy members and team Chamorro, (the right-wing dynastic family which controls numerous media outlets and NGOs including: Confidencial, La Prensa, the Violetta Chamorro Foundation, CINCO, (a media collective with radio interests which has received U.S. funding), and the Nicaragua Foundation for Economic Development or FUNIDES), all of these institutions and the individuals affiliated with them supported, encouraged and by some accounts financed the tranques (barricades or roadblocks).

Enrique Hendrix authored the first independent and comprehensive analysis of the death toll which showed the opposition responsible for at least half of the deaths which occurred between late April and late July and his more recent effort delves further into details which have thus far gone unreported. Probing the time-line of events following the initial eruption of violence and concluding with the beginning of the first round of talks mediated by the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua or CEN, Hendrix asks a few questions and reaches some interesting conclusions. A graph shows the spikes and nadirs of the violence which took place during that period and reveals that no deaths occurred at the site of any of the three large protests held between April 24 and May 10. During that time there was violence and one death and much of that took place in the environs of the technical university known by its acronym UPOLI.

According to Hendrix the pause in violence was a period in which the opposition consolidated their numbers at specific sites, namely the public universities and made decisions regarding what youth would be presented to the media as members of the April 19 student movement. He further implicates a group known as the rural farm workers, who represent a miniscule percentage of the rural population and within Nicaragua are more often referred to as the anti-canal group. Led by Francisca Ramirez, the group has a reputation for using coercive tactics to induce campesinos to join their protests. Hendrix asserts that the group was instrumental in organizing and installing tranques in the northern part of the country, The roadblocks would eventually leave the small rural nation paralyzed and become the loci of much violence.

Not long before reading the latest analysis by Hendrix I had come upon an article in El Nuevo Dario which detailed the case of an adolescent named Angel Sanchez who was killed on May 17. Apparently, a bus had been commandeered by a bunch of delinquents and the youth was killed when he was run over. The bus just happened to end up in close proximity to UPOLI. I then followed a series of links through a labyrinth of articles which focused on events which occurred in the vicinity of the university between May tenth and twelfth. What became interesting were the number of contradictions between the articles and even within a single article. This one described four victims and interviewed a close friend of one of the victims as well as a number of youth who were identified as members of the April 19 student movement. The students described the perpetrators of the violence to be dressed in civilian clothes, masked and riding around in trucks and some on motorcycle. All of the witnesses claimed the masked culprits to be Sandinista sympathizers or Sandinista Juventud (JS). According to the article the victims included Carlos Alberto Miranda, 19 years of age, Kevin Joel Valle, 21 years of age and Jimmy Parajón Gutiérrez, 28 years of age. Kevin Valle and Jimmy Parajón were said to be university students and there was another fatality a 53-year-old man named Alejandro Estrada Vega. All of the articles placed the violence at UPOLI.

In some of the articles Jimmy Parajón Gutiérrez was stated to be 28 years old including the article where a close friend dating back to childhood was interviewed. In other articles he was stated to be 35. Nothing was said about the death of Carlos Alberto Miranda and very little detail was provided regarding the death of Alejandro Estrada Vega. An anonymous witness was able to describe in detail the weapons which the JS had in their possession. That seemed odd as it is doubtful any pedestrian could have recorded that level of detail from a passing truck especially as one would more likely take cover given the circumstances. Additionally, if the shooters had first appeared around seven p.m. as one of those who were interviewed maintained, it would have been completely dark outside.

Interestingly, in the same article Rodrigo Espinoza one of the students who was identified as a member of the April 19 Movement, stated they had called their friends in Monimbo, (one of the neighborhoods in the small city of Masaya), because UPOLI was under attack and they needed support. But even more interesting is that the weapons described by one of the witnesses match up almost identically with those which were later recovered in Monimbo. I received this message from Masaya on June 12: “The antimotines, (anti-riot police) got through to the police station, now relieved after more than 2 weeks of daily/nightly mortar attacks. They removed a lot of tranques on the way, arrested a lot of people I think and found 5 AK47, three M16 and six escopetas (shotguns).”

The articles relied almost exclusively on the testimony of youth speaking on behalf of the April 19 movement, most of whom remained anonymous. This supports the view of Enrique Hendrix that the ‘students’ who would present to the media had been selected and groomed. The whole series of articles published by El Nuevo Dario, five in total, were used in the service of promoting the idea that individuals acting on behalf or in defense of the state had again attacked students. The headlines read as follows: “Disturbances leave four dead in Upoli”; and “They raged against us, said a friend of Kevin Valle killed at protests at UPOLI” ; and “Youth dies, shot in early morning attacks at UPOLI” ; and “From Monimbo they traveled by vehicle to back the protesters at UPOLI” ; and finally “Protesters denounce an attack on Upoli which left four injured”

I think the public would have been left with a very different impression had the articles instead taken the deaths in chronological order and reported accurately. It also bears mentioning that on May 7, days before these events took place, El Nuevo Dario reported that the main road which passes by UPOLI was already blocked by tranques which the students themselves had erected. In that article the reporter also speaks with a representative from the police who clearly stated that the police were not operating in the vicinity of UPOLI.

A full and truthful explanation of the events which took place in Managua between May tenth and twelfth would be something like this:

On May 8 Alejandro Estrada Vega was returning from work on a local bus when the bus was intercepted by a gang of masked youth, the passengers were forced off the bus, the bus was burned and the individuals were shot at with morteros artesenal, (homemade mortar weapons) killing Estrada Vega. Two days later masked youth attacked and burned the Alcadia (mayor’s office) killing Carlos Alberto Miranda , a member of the Sandinista Juventud who was shot. Later that night Kevin Valle was shot while standing at a corner with a group of friends. The shooters were described as masked gunmen who drove by in a truck. At some point after midnight Jimmy Parajón Gutiérrez, who was 35 and owned his own mechanic shop was shot by a sniper in front of a hospital.

It turns out that every one of the headlines regarding the events proves to be a false statement. While violence clearly did take place in the environs of UPOLI, the university itself was not under attack. Additionally, neither Kevin Valle or Jimmy Parajón Gutiérrez were university students. Kevin Valle was 18 years old, not 21 as El Nuevo Dario claimed. The family of Kevin Valle said he was not with the protesters, but had been with friends standing at a street corner when the shooters drove by, fired their weapons and he was killed. But the most spectacular omission on the part of El Nuevo Dario is that the burning of the Alcaldía in Managua on May 10 was not even mentioned. That of course leaves open the chance that the reader might assume Carlos Alberto Miranda was also a student whose death the government was responsible for.

La Prensa managed to come up with a witness who blamed the burning of the Alcaldia on the Sandinista Juventud. If there was any evidence to support that I think it would have been the lead story and would have served as the introduction for all the subsequent articles. But El Nuevo Dario did not go down that path because, given the death of Carlos Alberto Miranda in the context of the fire, the idea that the Sandinista Juventud killed one of their own as they burned an office of their own party, is just too far-fetched. El Nuevo Dario more likely sought to maintain some credibility by making a series of omissions, contradictions and distortions through which it was able to advance the critical objective of implicating the state or state actors in ‘an attack on students’ which since April 18 had been the main theme driving the narrative albeit one which was entirely artificial.

Still, those false narrative feed other false narratives and ultimately, they take their toll. Chuck Kaufman of The Alliance for Global Justice: “In the over 31 years I’ve been doing Nicaragua solidarity work the corporate media has always lied and the reporters they’ve assigned might have had one or two articles with multiple sources at the beginning of their careers, but they quickly understand who pays their salary. It is hard for me to get repeatedly enraged about lies in The Guardian and The New York Times . It is hard for me to think that Carl David Goette-Luciak and those of his ilk matter much as human beings or reporters. It mostly makes me tired, thinking about trying to address each and every lie, knowing that nothing I do will stop the lies.”

One way of viewing the current divide in Nicaragua is a struggle between what Marxist philosopher Terry Eagleton, in his book, The Illusions of Post Modernism identified as the new tripartite of late capitalism; ‘careerism, consumerism, post-modernism’

One way of viewing the current divide in Nicaragua is a struggle between what Marxist philosopher Terry Eagleton, in his book, The Illusions of Post Modernism identified as the new tripartite of late capitalism; ‘careerism, consumerism, post-modernism’ and what Nils McCune who is a PhD agricultural technician with Via Campesina refers to as ‘historical memory’ Most people are already invested on one side or another and even when those of us who understand the crisis as a coup attempt can provide evidence to support our view, it isn’t always enough. Between propaganda which was officially presented by newspapers and human rights groups, that which worked its way through social media may have been even more insidious.

New technologies have enabled new strategies. Writing for a site called The Wrong Kind of Green, Cory Morningstar and Forest Palmer have outlined the goals and strategies of a for-profit group called Purpose. According to Kevin Zeese, co-director of the site Popular Resistance, Purpose is a corporate NGO outfit associated with Avaaz (White Helmets) which has people in both Amnesty International’s International Secretariat team and in Global Witness. The condemnation of the Nicaraguan state by Amnesty and GW served as a tacit endorsement of opposition conduct which certainly exacerbated the crisis and in each case ran counter to the stated mission of the organizations. Morningstar and Palmer wrote: “The emergent “new power” model dominates with influence and persuasion. And while this has been achieved for some decades now by the NGOs that comprise the non-profit industry, more and more corporations, institutions and states, are now applying it to their business models. The key differences are that 1) the organizers remain invisible and 2), the populace is manipulated into believing that they control said movements.”

This is the Latin American arm of Purpose . The web site comes across as a hybrid advertising company, public relations firm and a well-designed motivational playground that is conscious of youth culture. I can’t say the extent to which Movilizatorio may have been behind (and still are behind) the various strategies deployed in Nicaragua by the opposition; fake accounts in Miami and fake messages distributed through What’sApp and scores of fake organizations which have only a handful of members and which don’t actually do anything aside from promote the anti-Ortega agenda.

It was the youth who were essential for the crisis to appear as a legitimate protest and the goal was to convince them that the time had come for another revolution though it was actually a counter-revolution; a rejection of the old ideals for something new even if the new remained undefined and abstract. These strategies (in addition to organized criminal elements), were used to fuel unrest and destruction. I wouldn’t be the first to identify the smart phone as a tool of imperialism. It’s really the perfect tool used both to influence and to distract. Morningstar and Palmer: “At the helm of this new model is Avaaz/Purpose co-founder Jeremy Heimans. Purpose, the PR firm (with many arms) specializes in movement building and behavioral change. Heiman’s vision is to organize “people not as citizens but as consumers.”

It was disturbing to realize how easily the peace can be shattered. The disintegration of Brazil’s fortunes is another example of a country which went from headlining as an economic powerhouse to one which is in desperate straits and that is now at risk of being governed by an extreme right-wing candidate who some believe will further erode protection of the Amazon basin which will have drastic impacts on climate change. Brazil’s fall from grace and the soft coup which ousted Dilma Rousseff was largely a product of economic sabotage and was likely, at least in part, a response to the formation of the BRICs trade block. (BRICs is the acronym of the block of emerging countries including Brazil, Russia, India, China and later South Africa)

“Culture—what you would die for—and what you would kill for.” Terry Eagleton’s definition of culture had always given me a chill; it seemed so extreme. Yet the crisis in Nicaragua proves it relevant as it is another front in the culture wars where the left is pushed into a corner as disguised or foreign interests attempt to instill the idea that another path would be more glamorous, more sophisticated and deliver greater wealth.

Countless journalists have taken sides without the least interest in the reportorial adage about fair and balanced. Charles Davis conflated the heroes with the villains, oh well. Carl David Goette-Luciak was a novice, willing to jump at an opportunity despite a script which would lead to some highly unsavory outcomes. After years of Nicaragua bashing Tim Rogers found his calling as a cheerleader for the overthrow of a legitimate and elected government. Hannah Summers seems to have arrived just in time to fill the shoes of Goette-Luciak, but then The Guardian also has Tom Phillips who is equally willing to conform.

As Wyatt Reed suggested the trade-off will come at a price and most Nicaraguans cannot afford to lose basic services like healthcare and security. I propose the trade-off comes with other drawbacks, increased inequality, a war budget, the erosion of democratic principles leading to a more autocratic form of government. This is what is happening around the globe where the democracy on offer is one which creates the very extremes it purports to resolve.

“This is a Moment Avaaz Was Made For” (or Cognitive Infiltration for Dummies)

Wall of Controversy

October 3, 2018

By James Boswell 

 

 

Background:

“You won’t have a shutdown of news in modern America – it is not possible. But you can have, as Frank Rich and Sidney Blumenthal have pointed out, a steady stream of lies polluting the news well. What you already have is a White House directing a stream of false information that is so relentless that it is increasingly hard to sort out truth from untruth. In a fascist system, it’s not the lies that count but the muddying. When citizens can’t tell real news from fake, they give up their demands for accountability bit by bit.”

— Naomi Wolf 1

The extract above is drawn from an excellent and extremely prescient article written by Naomi Wolf and published by the Guardian in 2007. It is entitled “Fascist America, in 10 Easy Steps”.

In 2011, I produced an updated version by taking Wolf’s analytical breakdown of the Bush years, applying her identified sequence of steps to Obama’s term in office. Here is what I wrote under Step #8. Control the press:

Five years on, and the mainstream media is no less bridled; the same small corporate cartel, that is bent on privileging the special interests of a few powerful owners and sponsors, maintains its dominance. And although, in the meantime, the challenge from independent voices has been steadily on the rise via the internet, it is in precisely these areas of the “new media” where controls are now being brought in.

But applying restrictions requires justification, and so these latest attacks against freedom of speech are couched as a necessary response to what the government deems, and thus what the public is encouraged to believe, to be a threat.

Following which I reminded readers of the Machiavellian role played by Cass Sunstein (married to warmongering former US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Powers), who, in September 2009, had been appointed as Obama’s Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. In 2008, Sunstein co-authored a paper with Adrian Vermeule, entitled “Conspiracy Theories,” in which they propose methods for dealing with the spread of faulty  information saying “the best response consists in cognitive infiltration of extremist groups”:

“Government agents (and their allies) might enter chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups and attempt to undermine percolating conspiracy theories by raising doubts about their factual premises, causal logic or implications for political action.”

The authors also advocate other methods for muddying the waters such as the recruitment of “independent experts”:

“government can supply these independent experts with information and perhaps prod them into action from behind the scenes… too close a connection will be self-defeating if it is exposed.”

Indeed, they provide no less than five alternative responses that the US government might take to hinder and restrain such unwanted freedom of speech:

We can readily imagine a series of possible responses. (1) Government might ban conspiracy theorizing. (2) Government might impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories. (3) Government might itself engage in counterspeech, marshaling arguments to discredit conspiracy theories. (4) Government might formally hire credible private parties to engage in counterspeech. (5) Government might engage in informal communication with such parties, encouraging them to help. 2

As I wrote in September 2011:

So which is the greater threat, a few people with alternative views and accounts, or the kinds of subversion of (or even outright clampdown on) free speech proposed, and now being put into effect by Cass Sunstein?

 

Simply being out of step with the official line is now enough to get you categorised as an “extremist”, and so a distinction that was once reserved for those who threatened the use of violent overthrow, is now directed against anyone who merely disagrees.

Click here to read my full post entitled “12 steps to tyranny – the state of America under Obama”.

Please note that everything above is reprinted in full from part 7 of an extended article entitled “spin, lies and propaganda from yesterday, today and tomorrow – 8 ways of looking at fake news” published in April 2017.

*

“Avaaz’s Elves”

Yesterday I received the latest circular email from Avaaz (see screenshot in addendum), which calls upon its members to become actively engaged as “Citizen elves” in what Sunstein defines as ‘counterspeech’ (in fact usefully serving as “credible private parties” as outlined under item (4) of Sunstein’s list above):

Our movement is mobilising to defend democracy on all fronts:

 

hammering Facebook and others to clean up their sites by shutting down fake news and troll accounts;

 

pushing for governments to defend our democracies by passing laws to protect elections from interference;

 

disrupting disinformation online, setting up teams of citizen ‘Elves’ to take on Putin’s ‘trolls’;

 

battling the far right’s divisive narratives in country after country, as elections approach.

[colour highlight added]

The main justification given by Avaaz in calling for its members to engage in Sunstein-style cognitive infiltration are the same ones first rolled out to disguise the true reasons the Clinton campaign bombed. Those entirely unsubstantiated allegations that “Russia hacked the election” (later rebutted by such experts as William Binney) were afterwards repurposed both to keep Trump on his leash by derailing any attempts to restore US-Russian relations and also to clampdown on alternative media – as everyone who disavowed the sanctioned mainstream narrative was quickly branded a Russian troll. Keep in mind that ‘fake news’ is a meme that has been spread most virulently, not by Trump himself (although he is frequently credited with it), but by his opponents.

*

“A moment Avaaz was made for”

The email from Avaaz was titled “This is a moment Avaaz was made for”, and in this regard I happen to believe we ought to take them seriously. After all, Avaaz is nothing like the grassroots campaign it takes such pains to promote itself as, but heavily astroturfed since its inception. It was founded for a purpose (and is allied to a consulting firm literally called Purpose Inc) as independent investigative journalist, Cory Morningstar, who has probed deeply into the organisation, explains:

Avaaz and GetUp co-founders Jeremy Heimans (CEO) and David Madden are also founders of the New York consulting firm, Purpose Inc.

 

Avaaz was created in part by MoveOn, a Democratic Party associated Political Action Committee (or PAC), formed in response to the impeachment of President Clinton. Avaaz and MoveOn are funded in part by convicted inside-trader and billionaire hedge fund mogul, George Soros.

 

Avaaz affiliate James Slezak is also identified as a co-founder and CEO of Purpose at its inception in 2009.

 

The secret behind the success of both Avaaz and Purpose is their reliance upon and expertise in behavioural change.

 

While the behavioural change tactics used by Avaaz are on public display, double-breasted, for-profit Purpose, with its non-profit arm, sells their expertise behind the scenes to further the interest of hegemony and capital. Whether it be a glossy campaign to help facilitate yet another illegal “humanitarian intervention” led by aggressive U.S. militarism (an oxymoron if there ever was one), or the creation of a new global “green” economy, Purpose is the consulting firm that the wolves of Wall Street and oligarchs alike depend upon to make it happen. 3

Click here to read the full article on Cory Morningstar’s website Wrong Kind of Green.

Morningstar also follows the money in another excellent article entitled “Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War”:

Avaaz states that they take “absolutely no money from governments or corporations…. While we received initial seed grants from partner organizations and charitable organizations, almost 90% of the Avaaz budget now comes [from] small online donations.” The 2009 Form 990 for George Soros’ Foundation to Promote Open Society reports (page 87) $300,000 in general support for Avaaz and an additional $300,000 to Avaaz for climate campaigning. […]

 

In addition to receiving funding from the Open Society Institute, Avaaz has publicly cited the Open Society Institute as their foundation partner. This admission by founder Ricken Patel is found on the www.soros.org website. [As discussed in part I, The Open Society Institute (renamed in 2011 to Open Society Foundations) is a private operating and grantmaking foundation founded by George Soros, who remains the chair. Soros is known best as a multibillionaire currency speculator, and of late, an avid supporter of Occupy Wall Street. Soros is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). The CFR is essentially the promotional arm of the ruling elite in the U.S. Most all U.S. policy is initiated and written by the exclusive membership within the CFR.]

 

Avaaz utilized/utilizes their Open Society Institute relationship to distribute member donations via “Avaaz partners at the Open Society Institute.” 4

Click here to read this thorough examination of Avaaz‘s finances by Cory Morningstar.

In short, Avaaz is tightly allied to the Soros NGO empire – the same George Soros who has candidly admitted to his pivotal role in fomenting the colour revolutions across the former Eastern Bloc and Soviet Union. The same Soros who proudly says he backed the coup of 2014 in Ukraine. As he told CNN host Fareed Zakaria in May 2014:

“Well, I set up a foundation in Ukraine before Ukraine became independent of Russia. And the foundation has been functioning ever since and played an important part in events now.”

So when Avaaz warns me that “Russia’s President has forged an alliance with the far-right, and deployed an army of hackers and trolls, legions of fake social media accounts, and suitcases full of dirty money to sabotage our public debate and elections”, I hear little more than the hypocrisy of Soros who supported the fascists of the Maidan in Kiev.

And whilst Avaaz are writing to inform me that “The British people are calling out the Brexit scam”, another Soros-funded campaign group, Best for Britain, co-founded by Gina Miller, who took the UK government to court in 2016 over its triggering of the Article 50, are already busy rallying public opinion and encouraging MPs to vote against a Brexit deal.

Avaaz says:

The threat we’re up against is everywhere, but so are we. That threat is political, but we can be too when we need to be. That threat claims to be people-powered, but we’re the REAL people power.

About half of this is the truth and half is baloney, as is usually the case with Avaaz. Based on the evidence outlined above, I’ll leave readers to separate fact from fiction.

For more on Avaaz I strongly encourage readers to follow the links here and here to Cory Morningstar’s excellent investigative work and also to read this earlier extended post.

*

Addendum: Screenshot of Avaaz email

*

1 “Fascist America, in 10 Easy Steps” by Naomi Wolf, published in the Guardian on April 24, 2007.

From Hitler to Pinochet and beyond, history shows there are certain steps that any would-be dictator must take to destroy constitutional freedoms. And, argues Naomi Wolf, George Bush and his administration seem to be taking them all

http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,,2064157,00.html

2 Conspiracy Theories by Cass Sunstein, Adrian Vermeule, published January 15, 2008. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1084585

3 From an article entitled “Syria: Avaaz, Purpose & The Art of Selling Hate for Empire” written by Cory Morningstar, published on September 17, 2014.

http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2014/09/17/syria-avaaz-purpose-the-art-of-selling-hate-for-empire/

4 From an article entitled “Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War”, Part II, Section I, written by Cory Morningstar, published September 24, 2012. Another extract reads:

The 12 January 2012 RSVP event “Reframing U.S. Strategy in a Turbulent World: American Spring?” featured speakers from Charles Kupchan of the Council on Foreign Relations, Rosa Brooks of the New America Foundation, and none other than Tom Perriello, CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Perriello advanced his “ideology” during this lecture.

http://www.theartofannihilation.com/imperialist-pimps-of-militarism-protectors-of-the-oligarchy-trusted-facilitators-of-war-part-ii-section-i/

[James Boswell was born in Shrewsbury in 1967. In 1986 he moved to London to study Physics at Imperial College, and then moved again in 1989, this time to Sheffield, where his research on comets culminated in a PhD awarded in 1994. Having been settled in Sheffield ever since, he is currently a Physics lecturer at the Sheffield International College.]

FLASHBACK: Brazil’s Vinegar Revolution: Left in Form, Right in Content [Part 1 of a 6]

Dissident Voice

July 26, 2013

by Gearóid Ó Colmáin

 

Fascism has presented itself as the anti-party; has opened its gates to all applicants; has with its promise of impunity enabled a formless multitude to cover over the savage outpouring of passions, hatreds and desires with a varnish of vague and nebulous political ideals.
— Gramsci

 

The Working class spontaneously gravitates towards socialism; nevertheless most widespread (and continuously and diversely revived) bourgeois ideology spontaneously imposes itself upon the working class to a still greater degree.
— Lenin

 

“It’s not just about 20 cents”. This was the status message of Mark Zuckerberg, head of Facebook last week, a message that was relayed through several of Brazil’s major cities. The message became one of the initial slogans of what many are now calling the “Vinegar Revolution” which was reportedly triggered by a 20 cent hike in bus fares in the city of Sao Paulo June 20th.

The very mention of Zuckerberg in connection with mass protests should immediately sound alarm bells among those who have been following closely the Facebook, Twitter fomented ‘colour revolutions’ that have rocked several states targeted for covert regime change by US imperialism over the last decade. Colour revolutions are essentially fake revolutions orchestrated by NGOS funded by the US government which are organized in countries ruled by governments that threaten or present an obstacle to the furtherance of US interests.

Zuckerberg is a close associate of US president Barack Obama and it is open knowledge since the recent NSA scandals that Facebook is a key part of the US intelligence community. His endorsement of the protests should therefore lead one to question the real origins and motives behind some of the largest demonstrations Brazil has seen in over 20 years.

Former Governor of California Arnold Schwartznegger, pop stars Beyonce, Lady Gaga and Britney Spears and the crème de la crème of Brazil’s soap opera stars, were all photographed displaying slogans supporting the Brazilian protests.

“It’s not just about 20 cents. It’s about much more”, say the protestors; corruption, rising cost of living, bad public infrastructure, health care and education. These are left wing causes, and are the issues driving discontent in Brazil’s populous cities teeming with poverty and inequality. No one can deny the genuine character of such complaints. After all, Brazil is a capitalist society in the ‘developing’ world.

Since the rise to power of President Lula de Silva and the Partido Travhalleros (Workers Party) in 2002    Brazil’s economy has experienced a rapid period of growth. It is now set to overtake France and Germany making it the fifth biggest economy in the world. But Lula’s left-wing political orientation was matched to a very large extent by economic policies which opened up the country to further levels of exploitation by foreign multi-nationals. In fact, Lula was so nice to foreign multinationals that he managed to avoid demonization by the Western power elite and was promoted as a suitable alternative to the more radically left-wing policies of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez.

However, in spite of Lula’s cooperation with the IMF, the Brazilian economy remained under national control to a significant extent but the process of destabilization currently underway is part of Wall Street’s final push for hegemony in a country that has moved closer to Russia and China and whose fiscal policies have pulled it away from Wall Street and its ‘free trade’ agenda.

It should not come as a surprise that hundreds of thousands of citizens would protest the obscene inequalities in a country that is investing millions constructing lavish sports complexes for the World Cup and the Olympic Games while millions continue to live in Favelas. Yet the uprising, in spite of its demands for public services, was anything but left-wing in orientation. In fact, many of those leading the protests attacked communists and socialists, chanting slogans against Cuba and Venezuela. Brazil’s right wing opposition parties and media came out in support of the protests.

Globo Rede, the right wing media group that dominates Brazil’s media, initially believed the protests were left wing and denounced them as terrorism. Then it seemed to realize that the protests were of an entirely different orientation, that they were an attack on the PT government and on left-wing ideology in particular, and proceeded to back and encourage them.

So, the question we are posing here is this: are the protests against neo-liberal capitalism or are the obvious evils of capitalism being covertly harnessed by outside forces to shift the geopolitics of a country moving closer to an alliance with Russia, China and left-leaning Latin American governments, thereby contributing to the possible formation of a new anti-imperialist block of emerging economies?

The struggle between the national and the comprador bourgeoisie.

Lenin, in his book Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism, quotes from a German author who observes that South America “is so dependent financially on London that it ought to be as almost a British commercial colony”.

Anglo-American financial interests dominated Brazil until the 1930 revolution brought Getullio Vargas to power. Vargas, a controversial character, who went from liberal left to far right and back again, is generally credited with having nationalized key sectors of the economy in order to industrialize and modernize Brazil. Vargas drew extensive support from the petite-bourgeoisie but was opposed by the conservative landowning class centred in Sao Paulo, who rose up in rebellion against him in 1932.

Since the 1930s politics in Brazil has been characterized by a struggle between the comprador bourgeoisie, who favour free trade and financial speculation, a class whose interests coincide with foreign companies and centres of financial power such as Wall Street and the City of London, and the rising national bourgeoisie, whose interests require protective tariffs on imports, investment in infrastructure, and a strong interventionist state to regulate and promote domestic industry.

This conflict has often been played out within successive Brazilian governments between the Bank of Brazil linked to the former and the Ministry of Finance linked to the latter. The comprador bourgeoisie in Brazil have always implemented domestic polices in accordance with US interests while the national bourgeoisie have tended to favour a more independent domestic and foreign policy.

Getullio Vargas was ousted in a coup in 1954 by elements of the comprador bourgeoisie backed by Washington. The same year he wrote a letter to the Brazilian people in which he denounced the “international financial groups” who were joining forces with “national groups” to overthrow him.1

Similarly, the recent events in Brazil should be seen as an attempt by the comprador bourgeoisie comprised of speculators and vulture capitalists working for Wall Street interests, who, through NGOS financed by the latter, have mobilized the lower-middle class or petite-bourgeoisie against the institutions that constitute the power base of the national bourgeoisie, that is to say the legislative and the executive organs of the nation-state.

They are doing this on the one hand through manipulation of the judiciary and on the other, through manipulation of the desires and egos of the new, lower middle class or petite bourgeoisie, who have been brought up on a diet of consumerism, video games and pop culture. The point of all this is to use the lower middle class protestors as a battering ram to destroy the state institutions thereby bringing the country fully under the control of  Washington.

There is also another pole of destablisation at work in Brazil; this involves manipulation of the indigenous communities and environmentalism by corporate-financier interests. The purpose of this manipulation is to wrest control of natural resources from the Brazilian Federal state and bring them under the control of international corporate entities such as the World Wildlife Fund.

When President Rousseff suggested calling a plebiscite to find out what the protestors wanted changed, the proposal was highly criticized by opposition members who support the protests. She has proposed reforms which would greatly improve the democratic process in Brazil, yet most of the street oppositionists have rejected them because they “see politicians as being part of the problem, not the solution, and have been critical of both the president’s and Congress’ efforts”.

This is because the protestors do not have a conscious, coherent, political programme. The purpose of this imperialist destabilization is  to break the ‘patrimonialismo estatale’; that is to say, Brazil’s traditional dirigistegovernmental structures that hamper unbridled  penetration by foreign investors, thereby weakening the sovereignty of the Brazilian federal state. This would then prepare the terrain for a right wing seizure of power by the military that would re-orient Brazil’s domestic and foreign policy toward that of the United States, thereby putting an end to the BRICS multi-polar axis in favour of the unipolar, Anglo-American dominated New World Order.

In order to understand the mechanism’s of US power currently at work in Brazil, we need to revisit the 1964 military coup.

Organising the 1964 ‘Revolution’

The Central Intelligence Agency organized a military coup against the government of former President Vargas’ protégé, Joao Goulart, in 1964. Like Lula and the Workers Party, Goulart was an anti-communist liberal who sought to implement modest social and labour reforms, the ‘reformas de base’ were intended to modernize the country.  Goulart’s reforms had support among the working class and the national bourgeoisie and included a mass literacy campaign, land reform enabling the government to take over estates of over 600 hectares deemed unproductive, and electoral reform extending the voting rights to illiterates.

Like the current Brazilian administration, Goulart had also pursued a more independent foreign policy from Washington. He relaxed persecution of communists. This upset Washington. Goulart favoured nationalist military officers over those trained by the United States and began purchasing military hardware from Eastern Block countries such as Poland. Laws limiting the amount of profits multinationals could take out of the country were also enacted by the Goulart administration. This state intervention in the ‘free market’ upset the directors of multinational corporations, who immediately began dreaming of a ‘transition government’.

Goulart had been the vice president of Janio de Silva Quadros, who was overthrown in 1961, by a US-backed coup after he refused to support President Kennedy’s plans for the invasion of Cuba. However, the US-backed coup against Quadros failed to prevent the election of Goulart in 1964. Goulart was no friend of left-wing causes. He supported Washington during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He simply pursued normal diplomatic politics with countries the US wanted to destroy and implemented reforms needed to industrialize the country. This was anathema to Washington who considered Brazil to be a colony of the United States and therefore subject to direct orders from above in matters of foreign and domestic policy.

The Central Intelligence Agency went to work. The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations and the Agency for International Development were used as front organizations for the CIA.

Mass demonstrations were organized by CIA agents throughout the country. Over a million people took to the streets calling for a national revolution. Anti-communist hysteria was whipped up by the Catholic Church in conjunction with the CIA. Irish Catholic priest Fr. Patrick Peyton, a CIA asset, helped organize the famous Marcha de Familia Com Deus Pela Liberdade – The Family March with God for Liberty. Funding for the covert ‘people power’ coup came from over three hundred multinational corporations.

In order to create the impression that the ‘revolution’ was ‘popular’ and had support among diverse sectors of the population, the CIA helped set up numerous ‘civil society’ organizations. The feminists were represented by the Campanha de Mulher Pela Democracia, the Women’s Campaign for Democracy, which branched out into myriad groupings throughout the country such as the League of Women for Democracy in Belo Horizonte, the Gaucha Democratic Action in Rio Grande do Sul,  the Ceará Civic Movement in Ceara; the Civic Union of Women in São Paulo  and the  Women’s Crusade in Pernambuco. These organizations worked in the favelas in order to manipulate working class communities into joining the protests on behalf of the ruling class.

As part of its ‘revolutionary’ strategy of regime change, in 1961 US government helped set up the Instituto Pesquisas e Estudos Sociais, The Institute for Research and Social Studies, in Rio De Janeiro. The institute worked to collect data on social trends and behaviour among the Brazilian population, in order to create effective anti-communist and anti-populist propaganda through advertising campaigns, cinema and the mass media. Many lectures by the institute were aimed at housewives who were warned of the dangers that communism posed to family values. The institute also targeted students with influential documentaries such as “Deixem o estudante estudar” – Let the students study.

There is an important book in Portuguese by journalist Denisse Assis entitled Propaganda e Cinema A Serviço do Golpe which studies the use of predictive programming by the Brazilian Cinema and mass media in the run-up to the 1964 coup.

The mass uprisings of 1964 brought more than a million people onto the streets, the slogans used tended to be ‘apolitical’ simply calling for more ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’. This was in order to disguise their ultra-right wing agenda. Mercopress writes:

An indication of the importance that the US ascribed to its operation was that the Air Force officer tasked with arranging some of the logistics was Paul Tibbits, who flew the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

 

After the coup a CIA official cabled the following message to Washington:

 

The change in government will create a greatly improved climate for foreign investments.

Operation Brother Sam was marketed as a “revolution” by the mainstream press and it resulted in what William Blum has described as one the worst fascist dictatorships of the twentieth century.

Blum describes American ‘democratisation’ in Brazil as follows:

Within days General Castello Branco assumed the presidency and over the next few years his regime instituted all features the military dictatorship which Latin America has come to know and love: Congress was shut down, political opposition was reduced to virtual extinction, habeas corpus for ‘political crimes’ was suspended, criticism of the president was forbidden by law, labor unions were taken over by government intervenors, mounting protests were met by police firing into crowds, the use of systematic ‘disappearance’ as a form of repression came upon the stage of Latin America, peasants’ homes were burned down, priests were brutalized.. the government had a name for its program: the ‘moral rehabilitation’ of Brazil.. then there was the torture and the death squads, both largely undertakings of the police and the military, both underwritten by the United States. 2

The emphasis on lack of “morality” in a left wing government is, as we shall see, precisely the character of the recent protests throughout Brazil.

The military regime was staffed by puppets of multinational corporations who ran the country on their behalf, smashing unions and collective bargaining rights and maintaining conditions of slavery in many parts of the country. An advisor to the Workers Party, Maria Helena Moreia Alves, told Multinational Monitor in 1982:

The whole Brazilian system, the whole Brazilian government is for the benefit of multinational corporations. It’s a heaven for multinationals: the government has created a system of tax incentives which is phenomenal.

 

Corporations also do not have the same kinds of safety requirements in Brazil as at home. A study was conducted on Ford and Volkswagen and it was found that they had turned off the safety equipment on the assembly lines, particularly on the lathe operations, which has had the result that Brazil has one of the highest industrial accident rates in the world. Fingers get chopped off. Lula (Brazil’s most prominent labor leader) doesn’t have one of his fingers; that’s typical of lathe operators.

 

Workers have gone on strikes just to get protective masks and gloves, just for safety – it’s absolutely essential safety equipment which people have to strike for, and since strikes are illegal, they face imprisonment and trial, just to be able to have safety equipment.

Fiat motor corporation owes its success in Brazil to the criminal financial policies of the military dictatorship. According to Alves:

Fiat came into Brazil around 1975 or thereabouts, and located in two areas, Rio and Minas Gerais. In Rio, Fiat purchased an existing Brazilian-owned factory, Fabrica Nacional de Motores, which employed 6,000 workers and has always done very well.

 

Fiat had a subsidized loan from the Brazilian government for purchasing the plant. The loan was money obtained by the Brazilian government outside of Brazil – thus increasing the foreign debt – and lent to Fiat at a subsidized interest rate, and all to purchase a Brazilian company that already existed in Brazil. It was a ridiculous deal. The first thing, Fiat did was fire 3,000 workers and auto-, mate the plant.

 

Then Fiat also opened a new plant in Minas Gerais. The deal there was that they would get 10 years of no taxes whatsoever, plus subsidized loans for a number of years. After all that, they have recently closed the plant; they decided that they weren’t getting enough loans and enough benefits from the Minas Gerais government.

The role of Fiat, General Motors and other giant manufacturing corporations in the current events will be investigated anon.

During the fascist dictatorship, progressive labour laws initiated in 1943 under Consolidação das Leis do Trabalho (CLT), the Consolidated Labour Code were abolished. The CLT had made it difficult for employers to fire workers. During the dictatorship new laws were passed making it much easier for employers to dismiss workers without just cause.  Under the Wage Adjustment Law of 1965, the military regime determined the minimum wage of workers.

The 1988 Brazilian Constitution greatly improved collective bargaining rights of workers; the maximum working hours of workers was reduced from 48 to 44; minimum payment for extra time increased from 20% to 50% of the workers’ wages, working shifts were reduced from 8 to 6 hours per day, a holiday bonus consisting of one third of the workers wages was introduced and firing costs for employers were raised by 30%.

A report written in conjunction with the World Bank in 2000 entitled “Brazil:  The Pressure Points in Labour Legislation”, advocates a return to the labour laws of the fascist regime, citing the ‘pro-Labour bias’ in Brazil’s constitution and labour laws as a serious cause of the ‘Custo Brazil’, the ‘abnormally high costs of doing business in Brazil’.

  1. Gerassi, John, The Great Fear in Latin America, p. 81.
  2. Blum, William, Killing Hope, US Military and CIA interventions since World War II, p. 171
[Gearóid Ó Colmáin is a journalist and political analyst based in Paris. His work focuses on globalization, geopolitics and class struggle. He is a regular contributor to Dissident Voice, Global Research, Russia Today International, Press TV, Sputnik Radio France, Sputnik English, Al Etijah TV, Sahar TV, and has also appeared on Al Jazeera and Al Mayadeen. He writes in English, Gaelic, and French. Read other articles by Gearóid, or visit Gearóid’s website.]

Camilo Mejia Analyzes the Soft Coup Attempt in Nicaragua

TeleSUR

August 28, 2018

By Rick Sterling

At the Oakland event, Camilo showed a torture video which demonstrates opposition violence. | Photo: Reuters

Camilo Mejía wrote an open letter condemning the Amnesty report for being biased and actually contributing to the chaos and violence.

Western media have described the unrest and violence in Nicaragua as a ‘campaign of terror’ by government police and paramilitary. This has also been asserted by large non-governmental organizations (NGOs). In May, for example, Amnesty International issued a report titled ‘Shoot to Kill: Nicaragua’s Strategy to Repress Protest.’

A Miami Herald op-ed summarized: “It’s not like there’s any confusion over who’s to blame for the recent killings amid Nicaragua’s political violence. Virtually all human rights groups agree that Ortega’s police-backed paramilitary goons are the culprits.”

Much less publicized, other analysts have challenged these assertions. They claim the situation is being distorted and the reality is very different. For example, Camilo Mejía wrote an open letter condemning the Amnesty report for being biased and actually contributing to the chaos and violence.

To learn more about the situation, Task Force on the Americas (TFA) invited Camilo Mejía to speak in the San Francisco Bay Area. TFA has a long history of work in Central and South America educating the public, lobbying around U.S. foreign policy and leading delegations to see the reality in Central and South America.

Veterans for Peace (VFP) quickly agreed to co-sponsor events with Camilo in San Francisco and Oakland. Veterans for Peace also has a long history with Nicaragua, having been founded partially in response to U.S. aggression in Central America. VFP members protested against U.S. shipments to the Nicaraguan Contras. VFP member Brian Willson had both legs cut off when a train carrying weapons destined for Central America ran over him. The current VFP president, Gerry Condon, was at that protest and helped stop the blood gushing from Willson’s severed legs. Brian Willson lives in Nicaragua today.

Camilo Mejía

Camilo Mejía was born in Nicaragua, the son of famous musician Carlos Mejía Godoy. His mother was a staunch Sandinista activist but separated from the father soon after his birth. She brought Camilo to the United States as a single mother in 1994, four years after the Sandinista electoral defeat. Living in Florida, Camilo struggled to make ends meet and joined the U.S. Army to pay for college. Just a few months before completing his service, Camilo was ordered into the 2003 invasion of Iraq. After serving one tour of war duty, he refused to return and was imprisoned for nine months.

Camilo was honored as a ‘Prisoner of Conscience’ by Amnesty International. Thus Camilo’s criticism of the Amnesty report on Nicaragua has special significance. Camilo is Nicaraguan, a member of Veterans for Peace, and a hero to both VFP and Amnesty. He is also the author of the compelling autobiography, ‘Road From Ar Ramadi.’

As news of Camilo’s upcoming visit to San Francisco spread, we started to feel a reaction. There is a large and diverse Nicaraguan exile community in San Francisco. While some support the Sandinista government, others are adamantly opposed and some even supported the Contras decades ago. Anti-Ortega Nicaraguan exiles in San Francisco began organizing a protest.

Camilo’s visit to speak on Nicaragua also prompted a reaction from some Americans who had once supported the Sandinistas but now support the opposition. They campaigned to have their viewpoint presented at our events. TFA and VFP organizers thought there was no need to include the opposition voice, because their characterization of the conflict is widespread. However, Camilo wanted to be transparent and not exclude the opposition. He thought that if we allowed an opposition supporter to speak briefly, they were more likely to listen to his analysis and he could directly address their concerns.

At the San Francisco event, protesters arrived early in front of the War Memorial Veterans Building. When the event started, protesters flooded into the venue. As promised, an opposition supporter was invited to speak briefly.The audience of about 120 was split between those who wanted to hear Camilo and those who came to protest. Camilo’s talk was repeatedly interrupted and police arrived to prevent violence. Camilo asked what kind of “democracy” was this they claimed to want for Nicaragua when they would not listen or allow him to speak here in San Francisco?

Camilo showed two short video clips. The first video showed opposition activists torturing a Sandinista supporter under the oversight of a Catholic priest and the remains of a Sandinista burned alive.

A second video showed a statement from an American who has lived in Nicaragua for many years. He described how gangs had invaded his town, set up road blocks, intimidated and abused local civilians. He described the joy of the community when the roadblocks were removed and masked ‘protesters’ departed.

The audience got increasingly disruptive during the question period. A prominent Nicaraguan opposition supporter came forward, offering to quiet the disrupters. After receiving the microphone from Camilo, she did the opposite.The disruptions escalated and the event had to be ended early. The protesters had completed their mission: they had prevented Camilo from being able to present his perspective.

Organizers from TFA and Veterans for Peace decided the event in Oakland needed to be handled differently. Members of Veterans for Peace, including Chapter President Paul Cox and others, prevented the protesters from entering. Ultimately the venue was packed with interested listeners. The anti-Ortega crowd protested on the sidewalk and street but were not able to disrupt the event.

With the loud opposition outside, Camilo was introduced by VFP President Gerry Condon. He gave a clear and concise history of key events in Nicaraguan political history, including:

* Nicaragua was connected to the gold rush in California in the mid-1800s. That is when the idea of a trans-oceanic passage through Nicaragua was born.

* When Cesar Sandino launched guerrilla war in the 1920s and ’30s, there were two priorities: advancing the working class and anti-imperialism.

* The Frente Sandinista which carried out the 1979 revolution had nine commanders: three from each of three factions.

* After the Sandinistas lost the 1990 election, splits emerged and ultimately Sergio Ramirez formed the Movimiento Renovador Sandinista (MRS). The more affluent members plus intellectuals, writers and musicians gravitated toward it. But though they were well connected to Western solidarity activists, they had no popular platform nor base. They did poorly in elections and moved toward neoliberal policies and the NGO world.

* Since taking power in 2007, Daniel Ortega and Sandinistas have improved living conditions for the poor with free healthcare, free education and better economic policies. Nicaragua now supplies 80 to 90 percent of its own food.

* Up until April, Nicaragua was vastly safer than neighboring countries. Their ‘community policing’ is considered a model.

* Support for Ortega and the Frente Sandinista has steadily increased. In 2006, they won 38 percent of the vote; in 2011, it increased to 62 percent; in 2016 support increased to 72 percent, with 68 percent turnout.

* There has been much misinformation about the proposed changes in social security which sparked the protests in April. To stabilize the social security funding, the IMF wanted to implement an austerity plan which would have doubled the work requirements and raised the qualification age from 60 to 65. The Sandinista proposal was much more progressive, requiring wealthy individuals and businesses to pay much more with minor changes for others.

* The death count has been manipulated. Some deaths are counted twice; people who were said to be dead have turned up alive; dead Sandinista supporters have been counted as protesters. The first deaths on April 19 were one student, one police officer and one bystander killed by sniper fire. Camilo asks: Was this done by the government or by outside forces?

* The National Endowment for Democracy and other U.S. agencies have trained students and others in using social media, video and symbols to stir up dissent and destabilize Nicaragua.

Goal Accomplished

At the Oakland event, Camilo showed a torture video which demonstrates opposition violence. He also showed video of the huge July 19 celebration of the Sandinista revolution anniversary. His talk was followed by many questions, including from opposition supporters.

At times during the event, there was tension and concern about violence from the protesters outside. Some Nicaraguan families were afraid for their safety. After the event, they had to be escorted with protection to their cars. The car of one Nicaraguan family was besieged by the anti-Ortega crowd. Camilo and his young daughter had to be quickly taken away amid shouts and waving placards.

Ultimately, Camilo’s visit accomplished the goal. Media interviews in Spanish and English reached many thousands. In these and the public presentations, he brought information and analysis which has been largely censored or ignored in coverage of Nicaragua.

Camilo believes Nicaragua has temporarily defeated a ‘soft coup’ attempt but the danger is not over. The opposition forces internally and internationally are still there.

 

[Rick Sterling is an investigative journalist and current board president of Task Force on the Americas.]

WATCH: What is Really Happening in Nicaragua?

August 21, 2018

An interview with Camilo Mejía.

 

“Camilo Mejía was born in Nicaragua, the son of famous musician Carlos Mejía Godoy. His mother was a staunch Sandinista activist but separated from the father soon after his birth. She brought Camilo to the United States as a single mother in 1994, four years after the Sandinista electoral defeat. Living in Florida, Camilo struggled to make ends meet and joined the U.S. Army to pay for college. Just a few months before completing his service, Camilo was ordered into the 2003 invasion of Iraq. After serving one tour of war duty, he refused to return and was imprisoned for nine months.” [Source; Rick Sterling, TeleSUR]

“… to put it in simple terms Nicaragua right now it’s being the subject of a form of aggression by the United States known as a soft cool other people know this modality of regime changes color revolution it’s pretty much the same thing. It’s an NGO led financed and orchestrated 100% by the United States as you know under the guise of pro-democracy protests to overthrow the democratically elected government of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Maria in order to turn Nicaragua into a cheap market for transnational companies to ransack…”