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Scurrying Fascist Cockroaches

Dissident Voice

February 25th, 2019

 

 

Suppose it was discovered tomorrow that the greenhouse effects has been way underestimated, and that the catastrophic effects are actually going to set in 10 years from now, and not 100 years from now or something. Well, given the state of the popular movements we have today, we’d probably have a fascist takeover-with everybody agreeing to it, because that would be the only method for survival that anyone could think of. I’d even agree to it, because there’s just no other alternatives right now.
— Noam Chomsky, Understanding Power, 2002

 

We’re under attack from climate change—and our only hope is to mobilize like we did in WWII.
— Bill McKibben, The New Republic, 2016

 

…the survival of National Socialism within democracy (was potentially more dangerous than )the survival of fascist tendencies against democracy.
— Theodor Adorno, quote by Enzo Traverso, The New Faces of Fascism

The question of the appropriation of Environmental movements by Capital is one that has been resisted even more than I had anticipated. So, right off the bat I encourage you to read Cory Morningstar and Forrest Palmer’s Wrong Kind of Green…especially now, part four.

Now this stuff links directly with the rise of the newest wave of sheepdogging Democratic Party hopefuls. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and now, Ilhan Omar, are the darlings of liberal media and punditry. Omar read (haltingly) from a prepared text as she questioned war criminal Elliot Abrams. She essentially called him a liar, which he is, but which is also what the US government itself already calls him. And she mentioned El Mozote. But, when push came to shove, as they say, Omar like Ocasio Cortez, signed on for regime change in Venezuela.

Now, Ocasio Cortez is floating something she calls the Green New Deal (which, in another form, was already promoted by Green Party candidate Jill Stein) and which is a nakedly pro capitalist bit of three card monte that will provide a boost to the nuclear power industry and line various corporate pockets. It’s capitalism. Omar and Ocasio Cortez also signed the odious Code Pink letter condemning US involvement in coups while at the same time slandering and fabricating stories about Maduro. The logic of the letter was that US proxy forces and covert activities had a counter productive effect and only helped to shore up the credibility of the Maduro government. In other words, fascism is OK, is just fine, only please do it in ways that will not bruise my delicate sensitivities.

Now please note: Ocasio Cortez and Omar are nearly identical physical types. Both are wildly telegenic (until they open their mouths, but maybe that’s not as a big problem as I make it out to be) and both are sort of pixie like, lithe and slender. When I point this out I am told there is nothing wrong with being slender. At which point I silently scream and tear the flesh from my face. The point is only to describe the similarities in presentation of these two political products. In other words, they are manufactured political commodities. And as Madison Avenue knows, such marketing works, even when everyone is on the manufacturing process.

The spectacle is capital to such a degree of accumulation that it becomes an image.
— Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle

All life is theatre, to some degree of other. I have written before that theatre did not come out of religion but rather religion came out of theatre. And the short explanation is that our psychic formation is tied to a self narration that must take place on stage…even if just in our heads. The scene of the crime. It is Ur-theatre. So in contemporary life I am constantly reminded of just how caught up in the spectacle.. or rather…in the streaming of the spectacle, is everyone, and that it is one that occurs 24/7. And even when the smarter among us notices this facsimile existence, nothing happens. For it is ever harder to crawl up and out of capital. Out of accumulation. Out of the spectacle.

And set against this is the rising tide of Fascism. Global fascism. Chomsky, long a suspect figure and sort of the honorary chair of political gate-keeping emeritus, openly and none too timidly advises fascism as perhaps (!) the solution to “getting things done”. As in, the environmental crises — let’s use that term for now — is dire and suddenly (as they say in Hollywood story conferences) there is *a clock on it*. Meaning there is exactly no time to spare. In fact, it’s too late. Etc. I read recently a headline that said insects were going extinct. That struck me as, I don’t know, unlikely on the face of it. And sure enough it was a pure sensationalized headline for a sensationalistic article. Bugs are the most diverse creatures on earth. There are more kinds of just one variety of wasp than there are kinds of mammals. And, yes, Monsanto is killing honey bees. And it’s pretty dire. But it’s not led to honey shortages yet, at least that I have noticed. But it has raised prices! And colony collapse disorder (CCD) is the result of a number of factors, including pesticides and fungicides, which among other things render bees susceptible to the Nosema ceranae parasite. Capitalism kills life. Socialism protects life. But in general the bugs are not going extinct in thirty years. Still, what is driving this apologia for fascism? And why would Chomsky equate fascism with ‘getting things done’? Socialism…as in Cuba, for example, gets things done. Ask earthquake survivors around the globe. Ask whose doctors are first on the scene. But the rehabilitation of fascism is gaining momentum.

Now, there is a clear necessity for western societies to change how they live. Just a ban on the manufacturing of plastics, or pliable plastics even, would do an enormous amount of good. But that means a lot of very big and rich plastic manufacturing businesses would go out of business. Hence there is no movement toward that. Instead you get The Green New Deal. And what, you might ask, is this going to really achieve?

Today’s climate emergency mobilization must be recognized for what it is: a strategically orchestrated campaign financed and managed by the world’s most powerful institutions – for the preservation of capitalism and global economic growth. This is the launch of a new growth industry in the Global South coupled with the creation of new and untapped markets. Leading up to this precipice, The B Team, the Open Society Foundation, Oxfam, and many others that serve as the human face of capitalism, have moved their offices or set up new divisions in both Africa and Latin America.
— Cory Morningstar and Forrest Palmer, “Wrong Kind of Green”, Part IV

and…

the above plan and language mirrors that in the strategy document “Leading the Public into Emergency Mode: A New Strategy for the Climate Movement” being led by organizations whose affiliations with the Democrats, the Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez campaigns are publicly disclosed. Second, we must recognize that behind large institutions and media outlets such as Grist, branded as both “left” and “progressive”, are power structures subservient to capital. Grist CEO is Brady Walkinshaw. Prior to his role of CEO in 2017, Walkinshaw a former US State representative, worked as a program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Before his tenure at the Gates Foundation, Walkinshaw, a Fulbright scholar of the US State Department, worked as a special assistant to the World Bank. Within the Grist board of directors is 350.org founder, Bill McKibben – defacto foot soldier for Bernie Sanders and the Democrats in general.

Read the entirety of the breakdown here….

The same fingerprints are always found. The Gates Foundation, 350.org, the US state department and an assortment of varied NGOs of the moment (all based in the West). Western capital is in transition phase. And riding along in the propaganda wing is a clear new focus on fascist iconography and symbol, and on metaphors of war and the military. Getting things done!!

The rehab of fascism is laying the groundwork for various states of emergency to come. Most will be given a token coat of green paint. The worst thing you can be…even worse than an apologist for Harvey Weinstein or something, is a climate denier. It has already superceded Conspiracy theorist as most toxic appellation available today. Pedophile, Conspiracy Theorist, and at the top…Climate Denier.

“School children hold portraits of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates in front of a giant picture of Gates during celebrations to mark his 60th birthday inside the school premises in Chennai, India, October 28, 2015.”

In a society in which public education is a shell of its former mediocre self, and one in which science is not much emphasized, it is amazing how many times I have had complex statistics and calculus quoted in regard to global warming or rising sea levels or methane bubbles etc. It has become a kind of incantatory recital of belief. And it is about shaming and stigmatizing. And about self righteousness. And again, the trouble with all this is that there IS a climate crisis. There is massive environmental decay and pollution. And there is, in the U.S. certainly, a crumbling material infrastructure. Clean water will be ever more of a problem. There is ample but very general evidence for all of this. But I am not a scientist. And I have to say I have a healthy suspicion of professional science overall. The planet is very very very complex. And again, I may have missed it, but where are the scientists pointing fingers at the military? I ask that one sincerely. I’d like to know. For there is one thing I do feel pretty confident about: And that is..the military produces pollution, kills sea life, poisons the ground and humans both. And on a massive massive massive scale. So why is that never a target do you suppose?

As a major turning point in the history of Europe, total war introduced mass violence into everyday life, ‘brutalized’ societies, and accustomed them to industrial massacres and anonymous mass death. As a nationalist political movement, fascism grew out from this trauma. Mosse sees it as a product of the ‘nationalization of the masses’ that was powerfully accelerated during the war. In fact, anti-communism characterized fascism from the beginning to the end of its historical trajectory. It was a militant, radical, aggressive anti-communism that transformed the nationalist ‘civil religion’ into a ‘crusade’ against the enemy.
— Enzo Traverso (The New Faces of Fascism)

The rehabilitation of fascism cannot find traction without a concomitant anti communist platform. And the spike in anti-communism has been acute. I wrote on my blog about Liam Neeson…

The normalizing of fascist mythology and sentiments preceded what is now open expressions of fascist ideology. And it appears in codes appropriate to the celebrity driven individuality of the Marvell Comix era of entertainment. Liam Neeson’s recent comments (as part of a marketing tour for his next film… a *revenge* thriller..{sic}) about having once wanted to find a black man to beat to death is a rather good example. There is no moral to Neeson’s story, interestingly, beyond it taking him a week, in his words, to figure out “what the fuck am I doing”. This is a form of white masculine bragging now. It’s another celebrity search for authenticity. Oh, he also was thrilled as a lad to listen to the speeches of Ian Paisley. Not much more is said about this beyond it inspired him to take up acting. So again the fascist rehabilitation is open. And again, there is a racist underpinning, as Paisley actively campaigned against the civil rights movement and organized gangs of club-carrying thugs to block pro civil rights protestors. The inherent acceptability of fascism. No celebrity A-list actor would ever admit to having been thrilled by the speeches of Fidel Castro.

When Trump said “Make America Great Again”, what he meant, of course, was make America white again. But not just white, but a fascist white. For the very idea of *greatness* resides in that exceptionalism that is connected at its roots to manifest destiny and slave owning. The appeal to a manufactured nostalgia of greatness is an appeal to a white hierarchical martial heroism that is today reflected in Marvel and DC comic super hero movies. And this rehabilitation is neo-colonial as well. Communism fought against the colonial European powers, while the US and western capital fought on the side of apartheid and colonial powers. Make America colonial again. Make America a land of plantations, again. Make it a land of *Indian killers*. All of this is running through popular culture today. The masculine panic of Liam Neeson is the same one, on a cruder level aesthetically, found at Trump rallies, but also found on Wall Street and in the industrial usage of escort services those brokers are known to indulge — and in fraternities at universities across the U.S. It is tied to a virulent misogyny. And it is, indeed, tied to Harvey Weinstein — though, problematically, it is also found in much of the lynch mob mania of #metoo.

…fascism comes to power in stages, beginning with attacks on the democratic rights of working people, the imprisonment of communists and trade unionists, hostility to national minorities and immigrants, and the gradual erosion of democratic institutions. It relies on its mass supporters, mostly from the middle class but also including workers and intellectuals, to carry out these policies. Once fascism has consolidated power, it begins to build up the fascist state and engages in expansionary imperialist wars. The terrorist dictatorship of finance capital is only fully established when all opposition has been outlawed and a fascist state machinery has been completely developed.
— Fabian Van Onzen, Monthly Review, February 2019

There is a constant drum beat that compares communism to fascism. And it has taken a quality of desperation. So insistent are the authors of this familiar trope of “totalitarian” societies ‘all being the same’ that it is sort of now in another phase that might be labeled *secondary conflations*. And it is important to observe the liberal and urban educated bourgeoisie and their emotional connectivity to Green ideas and policy. This is the collaborationist class Gramsci wrote about so trenchantly. But the level of emotional attachment and reaction to questions of Climate Change or Global Warming (and related environmental issues) needs to be explored a bit more.

For it is as if suddenly the bourgeoisie deeply “cares” about Nature and mother earth. About the planet, about saving mankind. The emotional responses one finds here are not only disproportionate to the specific issues that arise, but they are psychologically prophylactic mechanisms that seem to keep actual political analysis buried. There are knee jerk responses that look to stigmatize those now demonstrating insufficient environmental awareness. Those not invested enough, or in the right way, with Green policy. These are going to be the people who line up behind Ocasio Cortez and The Green New Deal. This outrage is almost never displayed against US bombing “errors” when, say, a wedding party is olbiterated and a half dozen children are killed. But maybe it’s a genuine personal fear. Maybe this is a class now afraid and that is a new experience for them.

What haunted them {the Frankfurt School thinkers} was the evidence, everywhere to be found in the Federal Republic of Germany to which Adorno returned in 1949, that the fascist era was being airbrushed from history, erased from collective memory in an act of repression. The fear was not only that it was being forgotten in itself, but that if not remembered, it was likely to resurface in unpredictable forms.
— Stuart Walton, “Theory from the Ruins”, Aeon Magazine 2017

The Democratic field is forming for the 2020 run at Trump. Think about who is running. I mean, let’s do a quick survey…very quick.

Bernie Sanders is another glaring example of the cognitive dissonance operating at the collective level. Sanders who famously referred to Hugo Chavez as “that dead communist dictator” was also the guy who demanded the Saudi’s “get their hands dirty”. One of the things that seems not to register on the public, both pro Sanders and contra Sanders, is that Bernie just isn’t very smart. He is not a particular fluid speaker nor does he do very well off script. But Bernie has never seen a defense contract he didn’t want a piece of. Never.

Paul Street wrote back in 2015 {from an article in 2017}….

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (“I”-VT) is not the independent left politician many progressives claim he is. He’s a Democratic Party company man. That has been clear from his long Congressional record of voting with the neoliberal, dollar-drenched Democrats and accepting their seniority-based committee assignments. [1]

But Bernie is, again, not in it to win (I don’t think). He is too well fitted to his one specific role; sheepdog for the DNC. But Beto O’Rourke, another youthful Democratic pseudo leftist who, like AOC is telegenic and comely — his hair alone is pure Madison Avenue stuff. Vote for the hair! Which might be a useful slogan for O’Rourke because his voting record is appalling and deeply reactionary. But Beto is looking to find traction as the new JFK or RFK, and is in it to win.

O’Rourke has also gone out of his way to praise Israel and promise fidelity to “our shared values”. None of this is any sort of surprise. At some point the public has to learn being a Democrat means being pro war and an Imperialist.

The Fasci di combattimento were born in the aftermath of the war. They were imbued with the petit-bourgeois character of the various veterans associations which arose at that time.

 

Due to their trenchant opposition to the socialist movement they obtained the support of the capitalists and the authorities. This aspect of the Fasci was inherited in part from the conflict between the Socialist Party and the ‘interventionist’ associations during the war years.

 

They emerged during the same period when the rural landowners were feeling the need to create a White Guard to tackle the growing workers’ organisations. The gangs that were already organised and armed by the big landowners soon adopted the label Fasci for themselves too. With their subsequent development, these gangs would acquire their own distinct character – as a White Guard of capitalism against the class organs of the proletariat.

 

Fascism still conserves this trait of its origins. But until very recently, the fervour of the armed offensive kept a lid on the tensions between the urban cadre – who are predominantly petit-bourgeois, orientated on parliament, and ‘collaborationist’ – and the rural cadre, which consist of the big and medium landowners and their tenant farmers.”
— Antonio Gramsci, The Two Fascisms, 1921

Now O’Rourke is another supporter of the Green New Deal. Quelle surprise.

Kamala Harris is the former DA from San Francisco, and later AD for the state. She used to date (his words) Willie Brown. And she is married to attorney Doug Emhoff, formerly of Venable LLP — a firm whose lawyers included Asa Hutchinson (former Governor of Arkansas, former Undersecretary of Homeland Security and former head of the Drug Enforcement Administration). Also a number of former state’s ADs and a couple other governors (John Marhsall Butler for one). Just sayin’. Kamala no doubt has the deepest rolodex of anyone who has so far declared (unless you count Gentlemen Joe Biden, and I don’t because Joe has almost ZERO chance to go anywhere in this thing).

Margaret Kimberley wrote of Harris….

One of her more disgraceful policies was to victim shame black mothers for their children’s school truancy. They were fined and when most of them could not pay, were put in jail and separated from their children.This action is the epitome of modern day chattel slavery and Harris cannot be given a pass.{ } Harris has spent her career locking up Black and brown people. She should not be allowed to shake hands, kiss babies or walk into black churches without being taken to task. [2]

Kirsten Gillibrand will likely declare. A favorite daughter of Wall Street and the tobacco industry Gillibrand is heavily entrenched in the bowels of the DNC. She once authored a bill that would criminalize ‘boycotts’ by individuals or groups seeking to express disapproval of Israel. Gillibrand’s stance against protests and ‘boycotts’ included her co-sponsoring the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S 720). Her parents are both attorneys. She attended Dartmouth and her maternal grandmother Polly Noonan was a key player in Estes Cornings powerful political machine in Albany from the 40s through the mid-80s. One of the last great political machines in the United States, in fact.

Tulsi Gabbard is the *identity* candidate. A pacific islander, and a Hindu. On the plus side she spoke positively about US enemies like Assad… except for when she was, you know, calling him a brutal dictator. And she was at least mildly respectful of the DPRK. Sort of. And she was right about the murder, by the US, of Gaddafi. But in all this she is still on the side of the Imperialist overlords. In a sense, Gabbard is the new Obama. The comprador candidate. Oh, and she is an aggressive supporter of Israel and highly critical of the BDS. She is the rational Imperialist. I know it’s a buzz kill to point out all these things, but she also happens to be a major in the US Army, a member of the Hawaiian National Guard, and significantly, a member of the House Armed Services Committee. She also did TWO tours in Iraq. Not one, but two. Meaning she volunteered to go back and do it again. She has also praised the BJP party in India, and its neo-fascist president. Richard Spencer admires her (sic) for what that is worth. And Gabbard also signed to enforce sanctions on Iran and Russia. But so bankrupt is the electoral landscape in the U.S., that Gabbard is routinely described as a radical voice.

The worker, the peasant, who for years has hated the fascism that oppresses him believes it necessary, in order to bring it down, to ally himself with the liberal bourgeoisie, to support those who in the past, when they were in power, supported and armed fascism against the workers and peasants, and who just a few months ago formed a sole bloc with fascism and shared in the responsibility for its crimes. And this is how the question of the liquidation of fascism is posed? No! The liquidation of fascism must be the liquidation of the bourgeoisie that created it.
— Antonio Gramsci, Neither Fascism nor Liberalism: Sovietism! 1924

The Green New Deal is the fig leaf that provides material for this manufacturing of a new fascist narrative. The green fascism of these new ‘products’ from the Democratic Party laboratories is pretty much in line with what Bill Clinton ushered in and what Obama sort of perfected.

There is no potential for change in electoral movements in the U.S. That system is closed. Any radical third party would be quickly stopped, on that Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi both agree. And the idea of an American gilets jaunes (or Occupy redux) would likely lack both leadership and, more importantly perhaps, a narrative. The disaffected in the U.S. have no way to imagine an end to the system that oppresses them. And this is partly where the Soviet Union is so acutely missed. But one senses this is also why Maduro and Venezuela must be shut down. Sure oil, that’s a nice bonus, but the threat is, even if partly unconscious for the ruling class, an ideology where the slaves revolt. Same as Milosevic had to go. Same as they tried for decades to eliminate Fidel. Independence is not tolerated.

Luc Boltanski and Arnaud Esquerre noted (for France) that for what they call the *post fascist* ….“The ‘bad’ people— the immigrants, the Muslims and Blacks of the suburbs, veiled women, junkies, and the marginal—merge together with members of the leisure classes who have adopted liberal mores: feminists, the gay-friendly, anti-racists, environmentalists, and defenders of immigrants’ rights. Finally, the ‘good’ people of the postfascist imagination are nationalist, anti-feminist, homophobic, xenophobic, and nourish a clear hostility toward ecology, modern art, and intellectualism.
— Quoted by Enzo Traverso, Vers l’extrême: Extension des domaines de la droite, Paris: Editions Dehors, 2014; Gérard Mauger, ‘Mythologies: le “beauf” et le “bobo”

And here is also where Green issues become a kind of fulcrum around which the NGOs and marketing firms fully understand the ambivalences. The sudden compassion about the Earth and Global Warming is a narrative that is being appropriated very rapidly right now. For the bourgeoisie ‘going green’ is a cause they can get behind, and one that costs them almost nothing. It also provides cover for their new tough love of the underclass (meaning they get to be more openly racist and contemptuous of the poor). The educated urban liberal is borrowing heavily from the Health Food Co-op back room.

For the right, bad people are those with environmental concerns; i.e., the affluent urban liberal who is experienced as the class looking to take away the working class and poor’s small pleasures. First all those *sin* taxes, on tobacco and booze, and then restrictions on muscle cars, and all sort of stuff is given a crude story line by folks like Steven Bannon. Good people are those who deny any of this environmental stuff. Thereby in their Evangelical piety the flyover state working poor (and unemployed) justify their ignorance and more to the point, can stop having to wrestle with complicated and often ambivalent ideas to which a destroyed public education system never exposed them.

Because of this mutual disconnect, the emotional cathexis of the liberal educated classes in both Europe and the U.S. identify with their ‘superior’ concerns, their belief in science, which they understand no better than those sitting in the seats at NASCAR races, but who are encouraged to practice what they see as “sober” thinking, “tough love”, and “responsible” telling of hard truths. What this means is they increasingly are now finding permission to express more openly what they have kept silent about (cue Liam Neeson). And that is a virulent racism, but one now more tilted toward antisemitism, and most significantly Islamaphobia. The affluent bourgeois class is experiencing great relief in being given permission to vent their buried xenophobia. The Muslim is a structural replacement (though not really a replacement so much as an addition but in perception management terms it’s a replacement) for Jew in this new liberal antisemitism. It is not expressed in quite the same way as those in the flyover states, but it’s there all the same. And yet these classes recognize nothing of themselves in the other.

The idea of a healthy and prosperous Green New Deal (part and parcel of the fourth industrial revolution) for the world – is a lure to keep you believing in the system.
— Cory Morningstar (in conversation).

When Gramsci wrote of hegemony he never forgot that bourgeois rule, even when it advanced behind ‘mere’ coercion, still had physical violence as an option. The increased surveillance state and police militarization are linked, in the end, to policing of the inner cities (black and latino neighborhoods) and to US imperial policing and pacification of the global south.

But in looking at the narratives today, the ruling class and their collaborationist allies in the bourgeoisie, have refashioned environmental concerns so that its truth is always about protecting capital and capitalism while the narrative is about their own virtues. It’s an investment opportunity. Nothing more. And part of the problem (often a large part) is transferred to the victims of capital; the very poorest in the world, the very people who consume the least and pollute the least. This is the logic (and always has been) of eugenics and its contemporary trope “overpopulation”. And the cruelty and ruthlessness of the overpopulation meme is given a cosmetic make-over to resemble compassionate white saviour stories. The superior white expert come to stop the savages from having too many children.

To fix or at least manage, to some degree, the worst environmental problems will actually require drastic socialist programs. Not fascism as Chomsky suggests…or as Bernie or AOC or any of the rest of these capitalist sock puppets….but socialist. And nothing, NOTHING of any good is ever going come out of the Democratic Party. And nothing of any significance can happen via the US electoral theatre. The amount of energy wasted in endless debate about the virtues or “electability” (sic) of Elizabeth Warren vs Bernie Sanders or Kamala Harris vs Tulsi Gabbard etc is breathtaking. Imagine that time spent on something useful. Like, oh, how to prevent more war and carnage. And how to create a sustainable form of human development.

Socialism, in its most radical form, is about substantive equality, community solidarity, and ecological sustainability; it is aimed at the unification—not simply division—of labor.

Once sustainable human development, rooted not in exchange values, but in use values and genuine human needs, comes to define historical advance, the future, which now seems closed, will open up in a myriad ways, allowing for entirely new, more qualitative, and collective forms of development. This can be seen in the kinds of needed practical measures that could be taken up, but which are completely excluded under the present mode of production. It is not physical impossibility, or lack of economic surplus, most of which is currently squandered, that stands in the way of the democratic control of investment, or the satisfaction of basic needs—clean air and water, food, clothing, housing, education, health care, transportation, and useful work—for all. It is not the shortage of technological know-how or of material means that prevents the necessary ecological conversion to more sustainable forms of energy.103 It is not some inherent division of humanity that obstructs the construction of a New International of workers and peoples directed against capitalism, imperialism, and war. All of this is within our reach, but requires pursuing a logic that runs counter to that of capitalism.
— John Bellemy Foster, Monthly Review, February 2019

 

  1. Counterpunch, April 2017. [?]
  2. Black Agenda Report, January 2019. [?]

 

[John Steppling is an original founding member of the Padua Hills Playwrights Festival, a two-time NEA recipient, Rockefeller Fellow in theatre, and PEN-West winner for playwrighting. He’s had plays produced in LA, NYC, SF, Louisville, and at universities across the US, as well in Warsaw, Lodz, Paris, London and Krakow. He has taught screenwriting and curated the cinematheque for five years at the Polish National Film School in Lodz, Poland. Plays include The Shaper, Dream Coast, Standard of the Breed, The Thrill, Wheel of Fortune, Dogmouth, and Phantom Luck, which won the 2010 LA Award for best play. Film credits include 52 Pick-up (directed by John Frankenheimer, 1985) and Animal Factory (directed by Steve Buscemi, 1999). A collection of his plays was published in 1999 by Sun & Moon Press as Sea of Cortez and Other Plays. He lives with wife Gunnhild Skrodal Steppling; they divide their time between Norway and the high desert of southern California. He is artistic director of the theatre collective Gunfighter Nation. Read other articles by John, or visit John’s website.]

The Branding of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – By Any Means Necessary [Addendum]

The Branding of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – By Any Means Necessary [Addendum]

February 15, 2019

 

By Cory Morningstar

 

[ADDENDUM to ACT V: The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent: The New Green Deal is the Trojan Horse for the Financialization of Nature]

[An investigative series in six acts:  The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent: The Political Economy of the Non-Profit Industrial Complex:  ACT IACT IIACT IIIACT IVACT VACT VI]

 

 

Marketing to a key “femographic”, the Green New Deal is both literally and figuratively in Vogue.

The following Teen Vogue makeup tutorial slash Ocasio-Cortez promotional video can only be understood through the lens of today’s incredible infatuation with superficial self-improvement. The makeup tutorial, now a new industry in itself, has been made popular (bordering on obsessive) with teenagers/youth by mainstream pop idols and celebrities, such as Western culture icons Kylie Jenner and music artist Rihanna.

The tutorials further enrich the multi-billion dollar cosmetic industry. [Fortune, July 11, 2018: “How 20-Year-Old Kylie Jenner Built A $900 Million Fortune In Less Than 3 Years”] Rihanna’s net worth in 2018 was a reported 210 million USD having launched her cosmetic line Fenty Beauty with Kendo in 2017. Kendo is a subsidiary of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world’s largest luxury group. The unprecedented covetousness for cosmetics lauded by celebrity, is also a reflection of unobtainable beauty expectations being marketed to young women.

“According to the report, global cosmetic products market was valued at around USD 532 billion in 2017 and is expected to reach approximately USD 863 billion in 2024, growing at a CAGR of slightly above 7% between 2018 and 2024… In the U.S, growing Hispanic population is propelling demand for luxurious personal care brands and will escalate during the forecast years.” — Zion Market Research, June 22, 2018

The following statistic taken from the Ocasio-Cortez campaign team (written by Data for Progress, author of “The Future  of the Party” policy report commissioned by the Justice Democrats) reveals how segments of the Ocasio-Cortez Latinx volunteer base could be effectively exploited to further her popularity with the aforementioned constituency:

“In particular, Latinx voters are especially concerned about global warming compared to non-Latinx voters—78 percent to 56 percent—and think it should be a priority of Congress–70 percent compared to 52 percent. 45 Across the board, Latinx voters appear to take the issue and the response to global warming more seriously.” — Data for Progress, A Green New Deal policy report, September, 2018 [p. 24]

Although media is quick to hype Rihanna’s vast combined fortune, few references are made to the fact she is a minority shareholder in her company. Hence, the astronomical profits (the brand grossed $72 million USD in its first month) go to those who own the majority of her company. By marketing black power and feminism, those that garner the vast amount of wealth garnered by Rihanna are Anglo billionaire men at the top of the pyramid.

Further, although Ocasio-Cortez is presented as the celebrity Latina superstar in the political domain, she too, is placed there, only to serve capital belonging to the power elite. With a documentary film that recounts Ocasio-Cortez’s meteoric rise to stardom having just been purchased by Netflix for a cool ten million, we can expect cosmetic endorsements and cosmetic lines in the not-so-distant future. [February 7, 2019: ” Netflix just bought a film about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It might be the most ever paid for a Sundance documentary.”] In this day and age becoming a brand for corporate merchandise is no longer the death of cool – rather, it is the epitome of cool. It’s not an exaggeration to suggest that in the near future one’s bid for presidency may have more to do with who has the best makeover tutorials on social media than anything to do with housing, healthcare, education or the environment.

+++

MSN, February 7, 2019: “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shared her skincare routine on social media. Sit with four young Latinx campaign volunteers from her congressional district in the Bronx and Queens as they try her detailed instructions and talk about AOC’s impact in their lives.” [Teen Vogue]

Video: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Campaign Volunteers Try Her Skincare and Beauty Routine | Teen Vogue [5m:48s]:

 

[Further reading: Barclays: Gen Z: Step aside Millennials, November 8, 2018]

 

 

[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation and Counterpunch. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can support her independent journalism via Patreon.]

Edited with Forrest Palmer, Wrong Kind of Green Collective.

 

 

Organ Theft, Staged Attacks: UN Panel Details White Helmets’ Criminal Activities, Media Yawns

In Gaza

December 25, 2018

By Eva Bartlett

 

Utter silence. That is the sound of Western corporate media days after a more than one-hour-long panel on the White Helmets at the United Nations on December 20.

Journalists were present, so the silence isn’t due to lack of access. And in any case it was live streamed on the UNTV channel, and remains available on Youtube for keen observers to watch.

More likely, the silence is due to the irrefutable documentation presented on the faux-rescue group’s involvement in criminal activities, which include organ theft, working with terrorists — including as snipers — staging fake rescues, thieving from civilians, and other non-rescuer behaviour.

On the panel was one of corporate media’s favourite targets to smear, British journalist Vanessa Beeley, who gave a fact-based lecture on her years of research into the founding, funding and nefarious activities of the White Helmets, research which includes numerous visits to White Helmets centers, countless testimonies from Syrian civilians, and even an interview with a White Helmets leader in Dara’a al-Balad, Syria.

Maxim Grigoriev, the director of the Foundation for the Study of Democracy (a member of the UN’s Global Counter-Terrorism Research Network) spoke at length, detailing some of the over 100 eyewitnesses his foundation has conducted interviews with.

These include over 40 White Helmets members, 15 former terrorists, 50 people from areas where terrorists and WH operated, with another over 500 interviewed by survey in Aleppo and Daraa.

Among testimonies presented by Grigoriev were numerous accounts of the White Helmets’ involvement in organ theft.

A head of nursing in Aleppo is cited as seeing the body of his neighbour who had been taken by the White Helmets to Turkey for “treatment”. “I lifted the sheet and saw a large wound cut from the throat to the stomach… I touched him with my hand and understood there were clearly no organs left.”

Another interviewee said: “A person receives a minor injury, is rescued… and then brought back with their stomach cut open and with their internal organs missing.”

The interviews with civilians, White Helmets and terrorist members themselves put to rest NATO’s and their lapdog media’s explanations that in the White Helmets there are a few bad apples but in general these are humanitarian rescuers.

For example, a Syrian civilian, Omar al-Mustafa, is cited as stating:

“Almost all people who worked in nearby White Helmets centers were al-Nusra fighter or were linked to them. I tried to join the White Helmets myself, but I was told that if I was not from al-Nusra, they could not employ me.”

Still more testimonies detail staged fake rescues and staged chemical attacks. Omar al-Mustafa was cited as stating:

“I saw them (White Helmets) bring children who were alive, put them on the floor as if they had died in a chemical attack.”

The testimonies incriminate not only the White Helmets organization, but also the doctors who, in 2016, Western corporate media fawned over.

According to one interviewee, Mohamed Bashir Biram, his attempt to take his father to a White Helmets affiliated al-Bayan hospital, failed. He said: “Since my father was not a fighter, the doctors in the hospital refused to help him and he died.”

But in 2016, the Western media was praising the same valiant doctors, in their crescendo of war propaganda around Aleppo.

Many other independent journalists have corroborated aspects of what the panelists — also comprising Syrian journalist Rafiq Lotef, and Russian and Syrian Representatives to the UN, Ambassadors Vassily Nebenzia and Bashar al-Ja’afari — described in detail.

In my own visits to eastern Ghouta towns last April and May, residents likewise spoke of organ theft, staged rescues, the White Helmets working with Jaysh al-Islam, while an Aleppo man likewise described them as thieves who steal from civilians, not rescuers.

Copy-paste corporate media silence

Journalists present at the panel were not interested in asking follow-up questions on organ theft, staged rescues, or any of the content presented, unsurprisingly, instead asking questions about other Syrian issues.

A CBS journalist didn’t have a single question about what had just been presented, although CBS has previously repeatedly reported on the White Helmets. But their reporting, like most in corporate media, spun the transparent propaganda that is corporate media coverage of the group.

Four days after the UN panel, to my knowledge, not a single corporate media outlet has covered the event and its critical contents.

This is in spite of the fact that the Western corporate media has been happy to propagandize about the White Helmets for years, and to attack those of us who dare to present testimonies and evidence from on the ground in Syria which contradicts the official narrative.

Russian, Syrian, and Lebanese media did report on the panel, and of course if Western corporate journalists ever do bother to mention it, they will ignore the incriminating evidence presented by panellists and instead accuse Russia of bullying the White Helmets.

Prior to the panel, a number of publications came out with articles echoing one another, and in fact echoing claims already repeatedly uttered about a “Russian disinformation campaign against the White Helmets.

That’s right, that’s the best they’ve got.

‘Big bad Russia’ tarnishing the pristine image of the White Helmets, a theme rerun ad nauseum over the last year or two, and one which I addressed in early January 2018 when I was under attack for questioning the White Helmets.

In my rebuttal to a mid-December 2017 Guardian smear, I pointed out that it was not Russia which began looking into the White Helmets’ affiliations, funding, and role in the propaganda war, but two independent North American researchers.

Canadian journalist Cory Morningstar in September 2014 exposed the role of the New York based PR firm, Purpose Inc, in marketing campaigns for the White Helmets.

And as I wrote, “In April 2015, American independent journalist revealed that the White Helmets had been founded by Western powers and managed by a British ex-soldier, and noted the “rescuers” role in calling for Western intervention—a No Fly Zone on Syria.”

These, and the subsequent numerous investigations by Vanessa Beeley, including on the ground in Syria, taking countless testimonies of Syrian civilians on the matter of the White Helmets, far precede any Russian media reporting on the group.

That Russian media and bodies have since done their own investigations does not equate to a “disinformation campaign”, but rather doing the job corporate media are clearly incapable of, and unwilling to do.

Why haven’t the media written about the panel, or as per the corporate media norm, issued yet more smears against panellists?

They haven’t because they are cornered, and while they can always try their standard juvenile character smears and libel, they cannot refute the facts, the countless testimonies which corroborate yet still more testimonies taken by independent journalists over the years.

Or as Ambassador Nebenzia said:

“We understand why #WhiteHelmets are being defended by #Western capitals. They do not hide that they provided substantial financial support to this organization and instrumentalized it to pursue political goals under humanitarian cover. It’s logical to protect your asset.”

Last week, it came out that German reporter for Der Spiegel, Claas Relotius, winner of the German Reporter Award 2018, had falsified a number of his articles. One article on the fakery noted Relotius had, “confessed to have fabricated at least 14 of 55 articles,” including a “story about a Syrian boy who believed he triggered the civil war in the country with his graffiti, an article that won the German Reporter Prize just three weeks ago but which was made up.”

Former German journalist, Udo Ulfkotte, in 2014 reached his tipping point and admitted to having for years lied for Western, anti-Russia interests, admitting to making propaganda against Russia after having been bribed by billionaires, and by the Americans, to “not to report exactly the truth.”

As 2018, a year of staggering corporate media fake news, draws to a close, so do the last vestiges of credibility of media lauding the White Helmets.

Given the scandalous depth of their lies, it is unlikely corporate journalists will have an Ulfkotte moment and admit to their manifold deceptions.

But it doesn’t really matter, because more and more, Western corporate media, and the propaganda construct known as the White Helmets they support, are becoming irrelevant.

 

[Eva Bartlett is an independent Canadian rights and justice activist and freelance journalist. She has spent years in occupied Palestine, documenting Zionist crimes against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and volunteering with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM).]

LISTEN: Trade Union Leader Exposes What the Media Won’t About the Latest US-backed Coup Attempt in Latin America

The Canary

August 10, 2018

 

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Ahigh-level trade union leader has spoken out exclusively to The Canary, saying what the mainstream media won’t about the latest US-backed coup attempt in Latin America.

Fighting back against media bias over the “coup attempt” in Nicaragua

Nicaragua has been in the news recently because of what the country’s president has described as a “coup attempt” backed by Washington. But most international coverage of events has consistently failed to tell the whole story, showing heavy bias against the current Nicaraguan government. A number of academics, journalists and activists recently accused the Guardian, for example, of “wildly inaccurate coverage”.

International organisations with strong links to Washington, meanwhile, have even boasted of “laying the groundwork for insurrection” against Nicaragua’s left-of-centre government. And they stand accused of manipulating the country’s recent death toll to justify a push for regime change and sanctions. The aim has apparently been to create a misleading image of an authoritarian government mowing down peaceful protesters. The truth is much more complex – with similar casualties reported among both pro-government and anti-government ranks, and the latter being egged on by the US hard right.

In this context, The Canary reached out to José Antonio Zepeda – the leader of the main teachers’ union in Nicaragua (CGTEN-ANDEN) and vice-coordinator of Nicaragua’s union federation (FNT). And he gave us a perspective that people in the English-speaking world are unlikely to get from mainstream media outlets. In particular, he slammed international organisations, media outlets, and politicians for taking sides in Nicaragua’s recent conflict, and insisted:

We’ve lived through foreign intervention in the past. That’s not the solution. The solution is for us to understand each other, communicate, and make peace – a lasting peace based on development and justice.

You can read the full interview below.

Why do trade unions back the current government?

As well as being a union leader, Zepeda is a member of Nicaragua’s national assembly for the governing Sandinista Front (FSLN). And he explained:

The most important thing for us is that the government gives a space to different sectors. And that’s why you find teachers, agricultural workers, health workers, and self-employed people in the national assembly. Unions, women, farmers, and cooperatives have all assumed the responsibility of working for their country’s economic, social, and political development.

 

For us, this is our government. We defend it because we believe in free, public, quality education and healthcare for all. There’s also a policy of rural development – financing and support, like with education and healthcare, to help produce more food. As workers and sectors, we have determined that the government’s policies have one key purpose – to end poverty.

 

In the government, we have representation. We see the politics we’ve been advocating for a long time. We have seen the opportunities that consensus, dialogue, and alliances provide. And we believe fundamentally that the government has shown its willingness to listen. That’s very important – so that the different sectors can all raise our voices and have them heard. Full union freedom is another important element.

 

We will continue to support the government and the revolution in order to keep building alternatives to escape the poverty that previous neoliberal policies forced upon us and in which workers had no alternatives. Today, we have options – we have alternatives – and we have the space to build them.

Media coverage of violence in Nicaragua

Regarding biased coverage from the international media of the recent violence, Zepeda spoke of a “media war” against Nicaragua. And he said:

Social media and national establishment media have been preparing conditions for a coup for a long time. The opposition created virtual realities, which didn’t exist on the ground. And the national and international media – with their vested interests – reproduced these images. They created the image of an ungovernable country.

 

And it’s not the first time. It’s not just Nicaragua. Remember when the media reported that Iraq had WMDs and it had to be invaded, but no WMDs turned up? Then Israel murders Palestinian kids, and nothing happens. And they try to justify it.

One independent study in Nicaragua accuses partisan local groups of conflating all deaths since April (including accidents and the murder of government supporters) with killings by pro-government forces. And international media and political elites have been quick to take advantage of this misleading impression. In reality, the independent report claims, 60 pro-government citizens and 59 anti-government citizens died between 19 April and 25 June.

Whose human rights?

International human rights groups – from Human Rights Watch to Amnesty International – have been critical of the Nicaraguan government’s actions in recent months. But it appears that there’s been little mention of casualties among pro-government ranks. And this is a topic Zepeda spoke about passionately:

Human rights are important. But the problem comes when people manipulate the term to cover up perverse actions against governments that are trying to bring progress.

 

When we talk about rights, we should ask: ‘which rights?’ In Nicaragua, the product of this coup is that private businesses have fired more than 50,000 workers. So I ask you – are workers’ rights not human rights? Who criticises businesses for threatening to fire over 250,000 workers if the government doesn’t do what they want?

 

And what about the coup plotters who have been using a strategy of terror, kidnapping, and murder against Sandinistas, police officers, and ordinary citizens who don’t think the same way as them? The opposition killed three of our teachers. Who defends the families, the children, of those teachers – murdered by people who are supposedly ‘peaceful’? They also kidnapped 14 other teachers. Who defends the right to education, the right of peace for children, respect for life?

 

There’s been a media campaign to say that all the deaths here have been at the hands of the government – including the ones the opposition murdered, burned, and humiliated. I think this is the hypocrisy of all these organisations committed only to private interests or those of the imperialist master.

Resolving Nicaragua’s conflict

Zepeda clarified:

I’m not trying to say ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth’. What I’m trying to say is that these organisations talking about human rights are speaking in a biased way. They’re clearly not trying to deepen and promote respect. Instead, they take sides, they decide, they judge, they accuse, and they pass down sentences. That’s why we find it difficult to see objectivity in their approach.

 

We have insisted on respect for institutions, laws, procedures, dialogue, consensus – they’re the mechanism for resolving the conflict. There are always differences and problems in societies. We need to know how to understand each other to solve them. And we can only do that through dialogue and communication.

 

There’s a sector of the business community and political community which is allied with and financed by sinister forces and politicians in the US, who have a view of us as their backyard. But we’ve lived through foreign intervention in the past. That’s not the solution. The solution is for us to understand each other, communicate, and make peace – a lasting peace based on development and justice.

 

Reconciliation isn’t tolerance. It’s about understanding that we’re in the same country, that we can have different points of view, but that in the end we all have the common strategic aim of making Nicaragua grow. The people who still have resentment in their hearts will have to open up. They’ll have to understand that Sandinistas and non-Sandinistas share this country, live together, and have to build our homeland up together. People are free to go elsewhere if they don’t like it here, but that’s not the answer. The fundamental thing is to understand that everyone plays an important role in this society.

Solidarity and respect

Zepeda also insisted on the importance of international solidarity and respect:

We aspire to and dream of peace. We’re going to make it possible for Nicaragua to get back on track. And we hope the international community learns to respect us. We may not be a big, developed country with a large economy or a powerful army, but there’s no reason to humiliate us. We’re the same as you – the small countries and the big countries. We have the right to be treated with respect – as equals. The international community should not be driven by powerful vested interests.

 

The important thing is solidarity. When you most need support is when the presence of friendship is most important. This can also make you reflect and question where you can improve – but in a supportive fashion. Because solidarity isn’t about interfering in the affairs of a sovereign nation. It’s about expressing support in both good and bad moments. And in recent weeks and months, friends have been asking for information, explanations and clarifications. That’s very important. International solidarity has played a key role in fighting back against the disinformation and the media war against us.

Question everything you hear. Because there’s always an agenda.

Pro-government and anti-government forces both inside and outside of Nicaragua have very different takes on recent events. But you won’t see Zepeda’s words in the international media any time soon – because the press establishment has clearly sided with Nicaragua’s opposition. And this has made life a lot easier for powerful forces in the US and elsewhere that are looking to get rid of governments (like Nicaragua’s) which assert their independence and take a stand against neoliberalism.

Across Latin America, and the world, there are serious human rights issues. In Colombia and Mexico, for example, there are long-running humanitarian crises in which hundreds of thousands of people have died. But because the governments of these countries have not asserted economic and political independence from the US, there have been no high-profile international campaigns to overthrow their governments. Whenever governments have challenged the economic and political status quo, however, governments have been overthrown – almost always with US support. Washington has long used covert CIA operations to exert its influence abroad, supporting numerous coups and brutal right-wing dictatorships. And in recent years, this agenda has played out in ParaguayHondurasBrazil, and (so far unsuccessfully) Venezuela.

No government is perfect. And no country is perfect. But by failing to give objective coverage of crises in countries targeted for intervention by the US, the international media is (intentionally or not) playing into this regime-change agenda. By doing so, they don’t only do their readers a disservice – they also fail to serve the innocent civilians who get caught in the middle every time imperialism rears its ugly head.

To fight back, we must always ask for both sides of the story. And we must always question the agenda of the people providing us with information.

We deserve better. So we must demand better.

 

 

[Ed Sykes (pseudonym) is Global Editor and Sub-Editor at The Canary.]

The Left is Consumed by Propaganda

Misión Verdad

July 21st 2018

La izquierda está consumida por la propaganda occidental

[The Left is Consumed by Propaganda]

 

Words of Gustavo Borges Revilla, director of the Venezuelan media project Misión Verdad during the 24th Sao Paulo Forum in Havana, Cuba held July 15th -17th in the course of the Foro’s discussion about art, communication, culture and intellectual work. Misión Verdad participated at the invitation of the Cuban Ministry of Culture.

Gustavo Borges Revilla, director of the Venezuelan media project Misión Verdad 

Yesterday saw the start of an intense and definitely constructive discussion because it shows a great deal about what is currently happening in Latin America and the world. We can all agree that there is a crisis. It is the crisis of the world system as we know it, a global systemic crisis of capitalism. A crisis inherent in all of us, one people in Latin America are living now in our own lives, in our own bodies.

As you know, Venezuela was a victim in 2017 of perhaps the most refined model of intervention the West has yet designed, not just to take over State power that today is in the hands of anti-capitalist forces, but rather to dismantle States themselves as we have come to know them. In other words, Western thought derived from the Pact of Westphalia is in crisis. The Nation-State model that has served capitalism well for so many years is in crisis. Looking at those States, their crisis and the models of intervention, we think, based on our work, that a full understanding is lacking of what is happening right now, not just in Western thought but among ourselves as we live through these new processes of intervention. This is not to play the victim in relation to this issue, but it is a call to be alert. Why? Because Nicaragua is suffering intervention right now too.

In 2015 we said that this new model of intervention would be used in Nicaragua and we state here in Havana in 2018, that Cuba is a country that could be a candidate to suffer this model of intervention. Which is nothing less than a reconfiguration of countries’ cultural identities, and the hijacking of values and principles characteristic of the Left for many years. I’m talking about human rights, solidarity, youth, categories that are being reconfigured by bodies like, just to give one example, the Open Society Foundation.

Video with aerial views of the July 19th celebration in Managua, Nicaragua.

Unless everyone in this room knows what the open Society Institute is, then we have already lost the argument. Just one fact about the foundation : just in the last five years, it has invested one billion dollars in 120 countries, in 48 “color revolutions” that destroyed the whole of the Middle East. It started in Tunisia, went on to Egypt, continued in Libya and tried also in Syria. Imported into Latin America, Venezuela suffered 3 attempts at a “color revolution” in 2007, 2014 and 2017. We can say here today that Venezuela is the only country that has understood how to confront “color revolutions” and disarm them using political intelligence and audacity.

But this carries us into a slightly more complex debate, one a bit more invidious, a bit harder to face up to, namely the debate on the work of intellectuals. To begin with, we can ask ourselves whether intellectuals, above all left wing intellectuals, really understand what is happening. I wonder because President Maduro is probably among the world’s politicians most criticized politicians in the world media system, by the world’s banal media aristocracy.

Sadly, we have seen that the Left is not infallible when it comes to consumption of Western propaganda. The Left, maybe not so much the Latin American Left, but the European Left, if one can put things that way, has indeed assimilated the Western argument that there has been no democracy in Venezuela. Which takes us again into a slightly more profound debate : “What is democracy?” We have already noted that there is also a crisis of concepts, a reconfiguration and it’s not really we who are giving a new interpretation to these concepts, adapting them to our realities.

A view of the Cuban capital Havana. | Photo: Reuters

I don’t know if people are aware that the last ALBA declaration saluted the referendum held in Ecuador excluding Rafael Correa from Ecuadoran politics. An ALBA document. We have to view such points with much caution and much responsibility, because on this reading of democracy, Ecuador is democratic, Argentina is democratic, Brazil is democratic, but Venezuela is a dictatorship, never mind Cuba which for 50 years has been stigmatized as such.

The question is whether these concepts of democracy, human rights, liberty and revolution are of any use to us.

Yesterday, the Network of Intellectuals debated what is a revolution and what is not. One hundred years on from 1917. I don’t understand. When we are in a moment in which so far as we understand things, there is no reason for pessimism. We are in a marvelous moment. The world élites are fighting among themselves, devouring each other. For example, we see Donald Trump, representative of part of the world elite, fighting with his allies, trying to impose economic conditions on China, while the Chinese more or less laugh at them. Furthermore, we see them trying to impose threats in Latin America and Nicolas Maduro destroying the US plans to intervene in Venezuela.

We have won four consecutive elections in less than six months and here we’re touching on the last issue that we wanted to address here. Not just Latin America but the whole world today lacks an analytical framework belonging to us, the world’s peoples. Nothing is written now about Venezuela’s victories. There exists a kind of emotional state, above all among left wing intellectuals, of permanently having to start from zero, forever abandoning moments of achievement and success.

There’s a feeling that Venezuela was left on its own over the last few years without the leadership of Comandante Chavez. We get excited about the new victories, fine, we celebrate these new victories. We grasp that Venezuela has had four electoral victories where the Venezuelan opposition was left fragmented in at least four pieces, and that came about, I insist, through political intelligence and furthermore with the unassailable support of Venezuela’s popular base represented mainly by low income women and single mothers who are each responsible themselves for no fewer than a thousand people.

If it weren’t for these women doing politics for real, Venezuela would today be submerged in severe hunger. These women, threatened with that in 2017, organize,get on with life, co-exist, face down threats, do politics and thus guarantee the electoral victories of the Bolivarian Revolution.

I insist that Venezuela has created a Chavista formula. We asserted beforehand in this discussion group that we have to be constantly more Chavista because Chavismo, beyond the historical circumstances imposed on it, turned out to be a method of political action, a pragmatic method of interpreting reality and of working that reality so as to plan for the future with the same daring clearly evident in the meetings and experiences of Chavez and Fidel.

We are dealing with uncomfortable questions that any meeting trying to be honest should address. Power for what? At a time when the Western élites are destroying the whole system we are accustomed to, when its institutionality is being destroyed by its own creators. One has to insist : power for what? We should ask ourselves this, all of us involved in political processes and also of other people in theirs. Why does Manuel Lopez Obrador want power? Or Nicolas Maduro? Or Evo Morales? After the coming and going of grievous and occasionally shameful defeats in our region.

I don’t want to provoke more discomfort, but in 2017, between February and July of 2017, the supposed progressive regional leaders never mentioned Venezuela and the intervention process it suffered, except Cuba and Bolivia, obviously. This is not, shall we say, a victim’s complaint, but rather a call for reflection, above all to the intellectual Left, which seems to look at the world as if we were in1950 instead of 2018, in a moment when time is rushing on, and while it may be a more perilous time, it is also a marvelous time. If capitalism manages to remake its philosophical framework, its existential structure, then we will have lost the opportunity of a lifetime to impose a new culture, to think it through, to experience it and leave behind for good all the many centuries of subjugation in which we have been spectators and not participants.

Thank you.

The transcription and editing of this speech was done by the Cuban cultural web site La Jiribilla

+++

Video | Sao Paulo Forum Underway in Havana, Cuba: “Who we work for is the poor of our countries.”

Imperialism On Trial: Eva Bartlett speaks on North Korea & Syria (FULL)

RT
January 31, 2018

“Journalist Eva Bartlett speaks candidly on her experiences in North Korea and Syria at the Waterside Theatre in Derry, Northern Ireland on January 30, 2018.

In addition to visiting the DPRK in 2017, Bartlett has also been to Syria seven times since the conflict started there in 2011. She described her experiences in the country and explained how the situation on the ground was often very different from the dominant imperialist narrative which holds the Syrian government and President Assad responsible for every evil. She gave as an example the liberation of eastern Aleppo from terrorists in December 2016, which was portrayed as a terrible thing by much of the Western media and the political establishment.”

“Corporate media described Aleppo as falling, while Syrians were celebrating the full liberation of the city and Christians were able to celebrate Christmas for the first time in years,” she said. [Source: Conscious]

Eva K. Bartlett is creating Interviews, Articles, Photography and More Support: www.patreon.com/EvaKBartlett

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Global Britain” is Financing Terrorism and Bloodshed in Syria and Calling it ‘Aid’

‘Global Britain” is Financing Terrorism and Bloodshed in Syria and Calling it ‘Aid’

21st Century Wire

December 9, 2017

by Vanessa Beeley

 

Boris Johnson preached to the UK State choir, in the Foreign Office, on the 7th December. In Churchillian tones, Johnson announced “when in the course of a prolonged, ambitious struggle, you eventually record a success, it is essential, with due humility and caution, to celebrate that success – so I draw your attention, once again, to the defeat of DAESH in Raqqa and the victory of the 74 member coalition, in which the UK played a proud part”.

The sheer sanctimonious humbug contained within that first convoluted utterance should be enough to take our breath away. However, Johnson continued speaking for 36 minutes, turning verbal somersaults of every shade and hue of hypocrisy. This speech comes swift on the heels of the BBC Panorama limping expose of the UK FCO funding of terrorism in Syria that barely scratched the surface of the magnitude of the UK campaign to destablize a sovereign nation and foment insurgency against a “regime” and its allies, that has thwarted Global Britain’s geopolitical ambitions at every turn.

BBC Panorama’s “Jihadis You Pay For” was nothing more than a media sleight of hand designed to conceal the bulk of the funding iceberg beneath the decorative tip of a superficial investigation that revealed nothing that had not already been unmasked by independent analysts, investigative journalists, the Syrian Government and the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the last 7 years. The BBC, as always, made a molehill out of a mountain in order to protect Global Britain’s criminal foreign policy in Syria.

BBC Panorama’s “Jihadis We Pay For” (Photo: Screenshot)

“Jihadis You Pay For” was a professionally packaged damp squib that left most informed viewers feeling cheated. Endless ‘mood’ shots of Jane Corbin were used as narrative “fillers” to bulk out a singularly unimpressive episode in the BBC’s archives of UK State protectionism.

Corbin, who was responsible for the ‘revolution’-partisan-2011 “Syria Inside the Secret Revolution“, begins her reportage with the statement that “ Syrian people desperately need British Aid”. Corbin had obviously not taken the time to speak to the UNDP Deptuty Country Director in Damascus.

In August 2017 Akiko Suzaki told me (during an interview) that Syria did not need  foreign interference, that its civil society was more than capable of repairing the damage done to its country and people by (internationally sponsored terrorism.)

Corbin was simply protecting future “aid” packages that would disguise UK FCO subversion tactics inside Syria. I will not dwell too much on the Panorama non-event. Corbin even managed to reduce the Nour Al Din Zenki torture, humiliation and public decapitation of 12 year old Palestinian child Abdullah Issa, down to “(Zenki) beheaded a young prisoner“.

Corbin glossed over the fact that Issa begged to be shot rather than murdered in the brutal way that Zenki preferred. As is customary among colonial media reports, Corbin gave no name to this child, murdered by the terrorists that the BBC has promoted for 7 years, calling them “freedom fighters” and “democracy bringers”. This child has no name for the BBC, even now, while they twirl Bana Alabed around on the global stage, promoting her to stardom as the war lobby’s Shirley Temple.


Free Syrian Police and White Helmets working side by side. 

Corbin expressed outrage that the Free Syrian Police had cordoned off an area to be used for the stoning of prisoners by the terrorist entities. The White Helmet participation in torture, executions and dismemberment of prisoners of war was not mentioned in Corbin’s sanitised report. She did not explain the connections between the Free Syrian Police, the White Helmets and the Local Councils as exposed in my article:

White Helmets and Local Councils – Is the UK FCO Financing Terrorism in Syria with Taxpayer Funds?

Corbin announced that the Free Syrian Police cannot operate separately to Nusra Front or other terrorist groups occupying specific areas inside Syria. This applies across the board, Corbin, it includes the White Helmets, the Local Councils, the UK FCO created and funded media groups – all those who work within these terrorist-held areas, work exclusively for their sponsors in the 74 member war coalition and support their geopolitical aims in the region.

Why did Corbin not mention them? Simply because the Free Syrian Police will be re-integrated into the myriad of other “Free” organisations. They will be rebranded, just as the terrorist groups have been rebranded to distance them from the hardcore Nusra Front, while they continue their ethnic cleansing pogroms across Syria.  What lies you spin Corbin, around the suffering of the Syrian people who die while you concoct the latest firewall to protect your ‘Global Britain’


Free Syrian Police with Al Okaidi, who collaborated with ISIS 2013-14. East Aleppo.


Free Syrian Police in East Aleppo under Nusra Front (Al Qaeda) flag.

Corbin works for one of the primary cogs in Global Britain’s intervention apparatus, it is not surprising that Panorama failed to address the overarching issues of the UK’s destablisation project in Syria, Yemen and beyond.

Brian Gerrish of UK Column described BBC Media Action’s “change” management process back in July 2014:

“In typical BBC style John Tulsa spun the true subversive political objectives as ‘assistance in transition i.e. help for vulnerable people.” The reality is that the BBC Marshall Plan of the Mind was the opposite. A vast, dangerous and subversive media propaganda exercise to break up and reframe nation states into a new British and BBC designed model, whether they wanted it or not.”


Screenshot from UK Column report on the role of BBC Media Action in the infiltration and subversion of prey nations for Global Britain.

We should also not forget Robert Stuart’s forensic analysis of the previous BBC Panorama hoax report, “Saving Syria’s Children”.

“Analysis of the 30 September 2013 BBC Panorama documentary ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ and related BBC News reports, contending that sequences filmed by BBC personnel and others at Atareb Hospital, Aleppo on 26 August 2013 purporting to show the aftermath of an incendiary bomb attack on a nearby school are largely, if not entirely, staged.”

The ‘Truths’ to be Capitalised Upon

The “Jihadis You Pay For” was produced out of desperation. The ‘Global Britain’ “aid-for-Syria” edifice had been crumbling around its rotten foundations, for some time. During the seven year war that has been waged against Syria, colonial media has been consistently exposed as the corroded-from-within spectre of journalism it really is. They are a denuded gaggle of UK/US State script writers who have lost credibility among their public sponsors whom they have deceived and taken for fools, for way too long. Now, they are being brought to account and they are not happy.

However a few points were made during the programme that should be capitalised upon. Nick Dearden of Global Justice Now made the following statement:

“(The UK Government) simply cannot operated aid projects like that with so little scrutiny or accountability”

Anyone who has experienced the lack of “freedom” in the UK FCO responses to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, will smile at this statement. The dismay expressed by Dearden after seven years of Global Britain’s obfuscation and double-speak regarding their faux humanitarian role in Syria is too little too late.

I was sent the following two FOI requests very recently. They perfectly demonstrate the denial of freedom of information by Global Britain. They should also raise further questions as to the accountability for taxpayer funds – who and what are they financing? Who is conducting the “vetting procedures” and how can they be considered viable when terrorism flourishes in Syria, in areas where UK and US AID sustains them,  while the Syrian people continue to die, starve and suffer under occupation by British ‘financed-by-mistake’, terrorist groups.

Why should we trust a government that bases its policy statements upon spurious evidence provided by terrorist embeds & “unvetted” individuals working under the control of extremist groups secretly benefitting from UK AID.

For example, on the 12th July 2017, Mathew Rycroft, then-permanent UK representative to the UN, made the following statement on “this sickening use of chemical weapons – weapons that Assad agreed in 2013, to destroy – is just the latest in a long list of abhorrent acts”. Employing the now familiar, sociopathically unbalanced, ‘language of diplomacy’ that is representative of Global Britain’s foreign policy, Rycroft made the definitive claim:

“Chemical weapons scientists at Porton Down, in the United Kingdom, have analysed samples obtained from Khan Shaykun, and these have tested positive for the nerve agent sarin, or a sarin-like substance. The United Kingdom therefore shares the US assessment that it is highly likely that the regime was responsible for a sarin attack on Khan Shaykun on the 4th of April.”

This statement carries with it, the potential to escalate military conflict in the region to catastrophic levels, so it is logical, even rational to presume that the UK FCO would have access to the report from Porton Down that has been cited by its representative at the UN. Think again:

The UK FCO “can neither confirm nor deny that the information (Porton Down report) requested is held by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office”. So, yet again, Global Britain demonstrates its duplicity and deceit – it is not interested in “aid” for the Syrian people, it is interested in maintaining pressure upon a recalcitrant state that has confounded the might of 74 coalition member states intent upon its destruction.

At the end of the Panorama report we are told:

“The money of British tax payers is being spent very poorly, it is unfortunately strengthening the extremists and Islamic groups, currently in control of the majority of “opposition” areas”

Well, bravo BBC for finally stating the blindingly obvious. Thank you, however, for giving us the slap-down to all those “Kremlin agent” finger pointers in the ranks of colonial media, the braying media lynch mob who have demonised all under-funded independent media & analysts who have said exactly this throughout the Global Britain interventionist project in Syria and the region.

Thank you BBC for limping across the finishing line with your broken baton of half truths – finally, through gritted teeth, you serve us well.

The Conflict Stability and Security Fund in Detail

I was recently sent the full breakdown of the Conflict Stability and Security Fund which had been detailed following a request from a member of the House of Lords. (Names withheld)

1: Political Support – £ 14 million

2: Peace Building and Track II – £ 18 million

3: Civilian-Military Integration and support to “Moderate” Armed Groups – £ 32 million

4: Safety, Security, Stability – £ 54 million

5: Governance, Livelihood and Education – £ 39 million

6: Strategic Communications – £ 23 million

7: Human Rights and Accountability – £ 20 million

The UK FCO has effectively spent £ 200 million of taxpayer contributions on a 7-year-long, failed military campaign in Syria. Boris Johnson’s posturing and self-congratulatory celebration of a victory against terrorism should ring hollow for those who are living beneath the poverty line in “Austerity” plagued Global Britain as their undisclosed contributions to the Global war fund, have ensured the devastation of yet another sovereign nation.

The British government has lied to its citizens time and time again. Fantasy “WMDs” took us to war in Iraq. False claims of viagra-fuelled rape by Gadaffi’s soldiers in Benghazi led to the Libyan failed state, bombed into oblivion by the NATO intervention. Syria is no exception to the rule of wars based upon deceit, faciliated by the corporate media and think tank accomplices who support the criminal Global Britain operations with their own thinly disguised form of media terrorism.

Syria does not need “political support”, it has a majority elected government and is perfectly capable of negotiating its own political reforms without hostile foreign meddling. Syria does not need “peace building” from Global Britain, it would like GB to lift the sanctions that are collectively punishing the Syrian people while impeding resolution and political, economic progress inside Syria. Syria would like GB to stop financing the terrorist groups that are torturing, raping, executing, starving and imprisoning the Syrian people.

How does GB vet the “moderate” armed groups? How does GB justify fomenting an insurgency against a sovereign state under international law? How do they verify that the aid is “non lethal” when even BBC Panorama has reported on the “bags of cash” being handled by the extremist groups courtesy of Global Britain’s aid contractors.

“International law is indifferent to the perceived legitimacy of the state and to the form of government; both democracies and authoritarian regimes have the right to fight insurgencies and to defend themselves from external powers which aid the insurgents. Either way, it falls under the domestic jurisdiction of the state. Foreign powers are prohibited from assisting insurgents. General Assembly resolution 2131 (XX) declares that “no State shall organize, assist, foment, finance, incite or tolerate subversive, terrorist or armed activities directed towards the violent overthrow of the regime of another State, or interfere in civil strife in another State.” This was reaffirmed by the International Court of Justice in Nicaragua v. USA. The injured state is even entitled to adopt countermeasures against the intervening state.” ~ Amal Saad.

Syria was “safe, secure and stable” before Global Britain started its programme of introducing “safety, stability and security” to the region. How does the UK FCO verify the 100,000 civilians that the multi-million-funded White Helmets claim to have “saved”. What documentation exists? What inventory of names, dates, after-care, exists that can prove this wild assertion by an organisation known to work exclusively with Nusra Front (Al Qaeda) and associates just as the criminalised Free Syrian Police do, according to BBC Panorama.

How can the White Helmets serve 7 million Syrians when over 80% of the civilian population is serviced by the REAL Syria Civil Defence which has been in existence since 1953. Why is that volunteer, Syrian humanitarian organisation helping real Syrians, being targeted by economic sanctions while the White Helmets receive UKAID and equipment as “Nusra Front’s civil defence” or “Islamic State’s fire brigade”?


John Cantile ((kidnapped by ISIS for last 5 years) filming in East Aleppo.

Global Britain claims to provide health and education to the beleaguered Syrian people who had free healthcare and education, a social system which was the envy of the Middle East – long before GB intervened and brought this system to its knees through economic and military terrorism. Meanwhile, back home, GB is steadily destroying the NHS and the UK education system.

Finally, GB has waged information warfare against Syria with £ 43 million of taxpayer funds – establishing, training and equipping anti-Syrian-state media cells in Gaziantep, a city in Turkey, known as the Jihadi Express.  Media cells who have provided much of the war fiction that has fed the pseudo humanitarian complex, chafing at the bit to infiltrate Syria with its toxic aid packages.

£ 200 million has financed the maintenance of “Conflict”, it has guaranteed instability and inscecurity for the Syrian people and we have paid for this entire criminal project, not just the select “Jihadists” that BBC Panorama decided to offer as a sacrificial lamb on the altar of Global Britain’s intelligence operations inside Syria.

In his letter to PM Theresa May, Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn said:

“It is the responsibility of your government to ensure robust scrutiny and transparency processes are in place to prevent such grotesque abuses of UK aid money.

“Given the humanitarian crisis in Syria, with millions of Syrians internally displaced and millions of Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries, it is a real concern that your government has appeared to use aid funding to support sectarian division rather than humanitarian need.”

According to the Morning Star report, “The government has suspended the billion-pound Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF)”. 

Global Britian hides its neocolonialist ventures behind the barricade of “aid” contractors that provide “plausible deniability” when evidence of UK villainy reaches unmanageable proportions.

The UK taxpayers must demand answers from Global Britain and the UK Government. Boris Johnson must not be allowed to celebrate a victory that is not his. The Sryian Arab Army and allies have defeated international terrorism in Syria against all the odds and under punishing conditions which have been financed and fomented by the 74 members of the war coalition.

Global Britain has financed terrorism and bloodshed in Syria, nothing less, and it must be held accountable so history will not endlessly repeat itself at the cost of innocent people in target nations who are perfectly capable of resolving their internal issues without the international, pseudo-humanitarian-aid pretexts fanning the flames of manufactured ‘dissent’, which inevitably lead to the hybrid wars we are witnessing on a horrifying and ever-expanding global scale.

 

What to Expect From BBC Panorama and Guardian’s Whitewash of UK Gov’t Funding Terrorists in Syria

21st Century Wire

December 4, 2017

By Vanessa Beeley

 

The BBC will be carrying out a controlled journalistic “explosion” on their Panorama programme, airing tonight in the UK. Their report, dramatically titled, “Jihadis You Pay For” is about to expose UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) for the funding of extremist and terrorist groups in Syria via their “Free Syrian Police” project set-up in ‘rebel-held’ areas of Syria since 2014. 

To referee this virtual clash of the titans, The Guardian has been drafted-in to do the honours.

“The report, Jihadis You Pay For, will claim that Foreign Office money paid to the FSP reached people with links to the extremist group al-Nusra Front.” ~ The Guardian

Mike Raddie of BSNEWS commented:

“Is the Guardian’s Daniel Boffey attempting to whitewash the massive scandals of FCO and BBC funding and working with extremist groups in Syria? Why did he not ask Vanessa Beeley or Robert Stuart to explain how these UK institutions are working alongside al Qaeda/ISIS linked groups inside Syria?

 

Is it any wonder the Guardian has closed reader feedback on the story, less than 8 hours after it was posted? “Comment is Free” so long as you don’t mention unsayable truths such as BBC’s Panorama and Boris Johnson’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office are both working with and financing al Qaeda in direct contravention of UK anti-terror legislation.”

 

Boffey’s response to Raddie’s inquiry:

In other words, if you don’t adhere the mainstream media’s narrow narrative, then you must be a Russian agent.

We thought that “Comment is Free” (CIF) at The Guardian, but apparently not. Perhaps #CommentIsNotFree or #CINF would be appropriate hashtags when discussing this on Twitter.

Patrick Henningsen of 21st Century Wire made the following point:

“Nice to see the Mainstream Media fraternity close ranks this morning on UK FCO/Funding Terrorism story. Just remember which media outlet broke this story first. None of these MSM outlets will dare link to us, or mention name Vanessa Beeley because then they would have to acknowledge this story is much bigger than the little pigeon hole they’ve carved out – which they will “manage” into oblivion, as w/ 2night’s BBC Panorama soft ball pitch. Who’s the real independent media? Here, we beat them, and with a much bigger story”

21WIRE has always known that the White Helmets, the Free Syrian Police and al Nusra terrorists were part of one enclave – because unlike the The Guardian and the BBC, we actually went and looked for ourselves. Here’s one promotional poster for the new UK-backed “Local Councils,” the Free Syrian Police and White Helmets found at a White Helmet base in East Aleppo (Photo: Patrick Henningsen, May 2017 @21WIRE)

21st Century Wire predicts (although we’d love to be wrong on any of these) what the BBC will NOT cover in tonight’s Panorama report on the “Jihadis You Pay For” scandal:

1.  BBC Panorama will not mention the connections between the White Helmets and the Free Syrian Police as detailed in Vanessa Beeley’s investigative article (see report link below).

2.  BBC Panorama will not mention the actual terrorist leadership of many of these UK FCO financed organisations which include the Free Syrian Police, the White Helmets and the Local Councils.

3. BBC Panorama will not include evidence of recent atrocities committed by members of the Free Syrian Police or their White Helmet associates, they will focus on evidence of such collusion with terrorism in 2014. This will ensure that they can always say the protagonists have since been “sacked” or have repented their terrorist ways and joined the ranks of the saviours of all mankind.

4. BBC Panorama will not mention the rebranding of these many organisations that are working hand in hand with terrorism in Syria, in order to muddy the waters of UK FCO funding of terrorism & the dirty war against Syria that has been waged for 7 years.

5. BBC Panorama will not mention the £ 200m that has been used to finance the Syrian “opposition” via the Conflict Stability and Security Fund.

6. BBC Panorama will not mention the lack of freedom in the UK which means Freedom of Information requests in relation to the UK FCO funding of terrorism in Syria remain unanswered. Nor will the BBC mention that the UK Government is not being held accountable for its spending on such organisations.

In light of the BBC, The Times and The Guardian whitewash of this story, we are now calling for a PUBLIC ENQUIRY into the use of UK Overseas Aid money in Syria.

Once again, rather than report on the real scandal – which includes the saintly White Helmets and other covert shadow state-building projects in terrorist-run areas of Syria, the mainstream media are controlling the damage and managing the fall-out on behalf of the state. Meanwhile, the wholesale suffering continues as the Syrian people remain under attack from NATO member state-sponsored terrorism and punishing economic sanctions, and the UK Government funding for the Syrian “opposition” (terrorists) via its Conflict Stability and Security Fund (CSSF).

 

The ‘Other’ Omran: Aleppo Civilians Expose MSM Lies & Child Exploitation

RT

September 4, 2017

by Vanessa Beeley

 

WHITE HELMETS: The Jib-Al-Qubeh War Crime in Aleppo, Denied by Channel 4

21st Century Wire

September 1, 2017

by Vanessa Beeley

 


“Harrowing footage published by the White Helmets volunteer rescue group showed a street littered with corpses and body parts, after civilians fleeing eastern Aleppo were reportedly hit by (regime) artillery fire. Shoes, clothing, suitcases and bags could be seen among puddles of blood and flesh.” ~ Lizzie Dearden for the Independent

This version of the news in the Independent regarding an alleged “Syrian regime massacre” in one district of East Aleppo, during November 2016, was repeated almost verbatim by NATO-aligned media outlets worldwide. Reports that saturated corporate media in the west, however, fell far short of the harrowing reality as recounted to me by residents of this East Aleppo district in July of this year. A reality that shattered the saccharine White Helmet “hero” narrative being promulgated by western media.

“The bodies of the dead and dying were left unattended for ten hours in the street after the Nusra Front rocket attack that killed 15 civilians. The White Helmets did not help them, they stole their belongings.” ~ Salaheddin Azazi, resident of Jibb Al Qubeh and eyewitness to events on 30/11/2016

On November 30th 2016, the clashes for the final liberation of East Aleppo, from a five year Nusra Front-dominated occupation and brutal siege of Syrian civilians, raged across the battle-scarred landscape of the eastern districts of Aleppo. Throughout this US coalition-armed and funded extremist campaign to steal Aleppo’s resources & industry and to gradually occupy the entire second capital city of Syria, the media propaganda campaigns had run in lock-step and parallel intensity.


Omran Daqneesh now a happy, well-adjusted child still living in East Aleppo with his family. July 2017. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

First there was Omran Daqneesh, the dusty, bloodied and bewildered little boy, whose image went viral within hours and was described by the majority of NATO aligned media & NGOs (including the UN) as the child “whose bloodied and dusty image gave a face to the suffering of Aleppo’s civilians in last year’s siege”. Omran’s story has more recently been exposed as a cynical publicity campaign for a “Bomb Free Zone”, set up by the UK FO constructed White Helmets and their child-beheading, Nour al Din Zinki, associates.

During the ground battles to liberate East Aleppo, the Nusra Front affiliated White Helmets produced many of the varied and imaginative narratives to demonize the Syrian Arab Army as it fought to cleanse civilian areas of the extremist brigades that had universally converted schools and hospitals into prisons, Sharia courts, torture chambers, military centres and bomb making factories.

On the 30th November 2016, in Jibb al Qubeh, East Aleppo – the White Helmets appeared in one of their most theatrically “poignant” and iconic story lines, complete with “heartrending” testimony from “survivors”. This production was brought to the western corporate media by none other than French Foreign Office funded Aleppo Media Centre. This version was shared by Middle East Eye. Watch:

YouTube Video Preview

The Corporate Media Scrum 

The “copy paste” corporate media sprang into action. Despite the absence of journalists on the ground in Aleppo, within hours, the story had gone viral based entirely upon the testimony and video footage from an Al Qaeda affiliate, the White Helmets. Syrian media, civilian testimony and reports from officials on the ground in East Aleppo contradicted this White Helmet narrative but to no avail. The NATO-aligned media simply buried such bones of contention under the rubble of their crumbling propaganda edifice in their rush to halt the Syrian Arab Army advance by eliciting outrage from the international community over another fabricated “massacre by the evil regime forces“.

High Commissioner for Human Rights at the UN, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, issued the following plea to the international community:

“… heed the cries” of the women, men and children being terrorized and slaughtered in Aleppo and to take urgent steps to ensure that the tens of thousands of people who have fled, surrendered or been captured are treated in line with international law.

 

“The crushing of Aleppo, the immeasurably terrifying toll on its people, the bloodshed, the wanton slaughter of men, women and children, the destruction – and we are nowhere near the end of this cruel conflict,”

UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon talked once again about how history would judge the international community if they did not “act”:

“History will not easily absolve us, but this failure compels us to do even more to offer the people of Aleppo our solidarity at this moment,”

[It must be noted that during my time in Jebrin Registration centre in December 2016, an estimated 100,000 liberated civilians were pouring in from Eastern Aleppo districts and were receiving humanitarian aid and assistance from the Syrian Arab Army, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, various Syrian civil society organisations and volunteers. The Russian military were distributing food and water and Russian medical teams had set up treatment tents that were receiving over 150 civilians per day, suffering from the effects of starvation, appalling, festering injuries & chronic illnesses that had been left untreated by the “moderate rebels” during the 5 year Nusra Front-led occupation. The UN organisation was nowhere to be seen during this crucial time of release and recovery for these traumatized people. ]

Channel 4 grabs the ball and runs with it..

Who else should step in to score a home try for the Syrian “opposition” but Channel 4.

Jon Snow (winner of 21st Century Wire’s #FakeNews poll) stepped up to the plate and performed perhaps one of the landmark Goebbelesque propaganda interviews of the Syrian conflict, with Fares Shehabi. Shehabi is an independent Aleppo MP and head of the Aleppo Chamber of Commerce. Unlike many of his colleagues, Shehabi remained in Aleppo throughout the five-year East Aleppo occupation, by US coalition armed & funded extremist brigades.

Snows pugnacious questioning of Shehabi revealed absolutely no objectivity nor did it leave room for doubt. In Snow’s mind “the Syrian army did it” and no amount of logical reasoning, from Shehabi in Aleppo, was going to derail his propaganda train. Unfortunately for Snow, at some point that train was destined to hit the brick wall of truth from the mouths of the very civilians that Snow claimed to be advocating for.


Meme produced by page supporting NATO state intervention in Syria. 

In his eagerness to discredit the Syrian government and the Syrian Arab Army, Snow got a bit confused over his facts. Initially endorsing the “barrel bomb” narrative, he then deftly switched to “Syrian artillery” fire. Nowhere in his repertoire did he include the analysis that the neighborhood of Jib Al Qubbeh would be a mountain of rubble, had it been double whammied by the 7-9-richter-scale-barrel-bombs and Syrian artillery. Why should a little reality get in the way of producing news-desk-fantasy after all, especially when UK foreign policy interests are at stake.

Fares Shehabi told me after the interview that Channel 4 had edited many of his responses to better comply with their narrative. To watch Jon Snow’s stellar performance in its entirety (plus edits), it is linked here.

So the official, NATO-aligned narrative was that the Syrian Arab Army, its allies, the Russian & Syrian airforces had all combined to obliterate Syrian civilians fleeing East Aleppo for the humanitarian corridors set up by the Syrian government & their Russian allies to enable these civilians to escape the fighting and reach the sanctity of the Syrian government protected West Aleppo. Not a single question was raised among the corporate media elite about the blatantly irrational logic behind this distorted chronicling of events.

The Inevitable Requests for a No Fly Zone

Less than a week after this tragedy was aired by western media, Abdulrahman Al Mawwas a White Helmet representative was given a platform to speak in front of the foreign affairs committee of the European Parliament in Ireland. Images taken from the White Helmet/AMC Jibb Al Qubeh production were used to reinforce demands for the creation of humanitarian corridors and planes to drop aid to civilians affected by war and of course, last but not least, a No Fly Zone. Mawwas stuck to the familiar script but the disturbing images from Jibb al Qubeh gave new impetus to his recital.

The Truth of Jibb Al Qubeh as Revealed by its Residents

In July/August 2017 I returned to the districts of East Aleppo that I had seen during liberation in December 2016 and again in April/May 2017. In July it was heartening to see that so many civilians had returned to their homes and were trying to recreate the life they had before the violent disruption of their peaceful existence, by US coalition-manufactured, armed, extremist groups.

I went with Aleppo journalist, Khaled Iskef, to the Jib Al Qubbeh neighborhood and I spoke with civilians. We sat outside their houses and drank coffee whilst around them, life returned to a semblance of “normal”. The recall of these civilians, many of whom witnessed events on that day in November 2016, differed wildly from the mass-produced narrative of NATO-aligned media outlets.


Discussing the November 2016 events in Jibb al Qubeh with residents and Khaled Iskef. July 2017. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

During my time in this district I spoke with Salaheddin Azazi and Ammar Al Bakr (in above photo) and a number of other named witnesses who testified to the truth of the killing of civilians who were fleeing East Aleppo to the safety of West Aleppo as the Syrian Arab Army was advancing on the ground and cleansing East Aleppo of Nusra Front and associated militant factions.


The street in Jibb Al Qubbeh where the White Helmets filmed their footage of massacred civilians. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley) 

Initially we toured (on foot) around the actual street that was the scene of the White Helmet/AMC video. Here we found the usual configuration of Nusra Front headquartes, Aleppo Council and White Helmet centres all within easy walking distance from each other. This same layout was found in every district of East Aleppo where these three entities were operating, also combining with the UK Foreign Office funded, Free Syrian Police in many of the same districts.

 

The above video, taken in the area, walks you through the Aleppo Council building and demonstrates the proximity of Nusra Front and the White Helmet centre at the end of the street. Graffiti on the garage door opposite the Aleppo Council is Kataeb Abu Amara, a Turkish funded militant brigade closely associated with Nusra Front that was also operating in this district of East Aleppo.


Khateab Abu Amara Graffiti on garage door opposite Aleppo Council, Jibb Al Qubeh, East Aleppo. July 2017. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

In this district the Nusra Front headquarters were just behind the Aleppo Council on the main through-road that runs parallel to Bryyah Al Maslakh street. This was another school that had been occupied by the terrorist group and converted into a military centre and Sharia Court, the Ruba school in Jibb Al Qubeh.


Nusra Front headquarters in Jib Al Qubbeh, another converted school. This building was less than 200m from the Aleppo Council and the White Helmet centre in this area. July 2017. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

Nusra Front aka Al Qaeda were the dominant force in Jib Al Qubbeh according to residents. A number of other, affiliated, extremist brigades were also operating, including Ahrar Souria (a version of the FSA strongly linked to Nusra Front and who shared their ideology), Ahrar Al Shaman extremist group responsible for many of the sectarian massacres in Syria yet still not designated a terrorist group by the US coalition and lastly the aforementioned Abu Amara brigade.

The leader of Ahrar Souria in Jib Al Qubeh was an individual by the name of Mahmoud Afash who came from Anadan. He was known as the terrorist tank “taxi driver”. He provided tanks for the terrorist front lines and battles. Talking to civilians a picture was formed of the dense network of terrorist entities that worked alongside one another including the White Helmets:

“The White Helmets worked ten hour shifts. Ten hours as White Helmets and then ten hours as Nusra Front fighters” Salaheddin Azazi told us.

The manager of the Jib Al Qubeh (JAQ) Aleppo council was Hassan Nairobani Hassoun, a pediatrician from the area who was working in Zahzour hospital during the Nusra Front-led five year occupation. Hassoun worked with Nusra Front, some residents told us of “large sums of money that he had tucked away in Turkish banks”. Azazi told us that Hassoun was tasked by Nusra Front to recquisition houses that had a basement for Nusra Front military use, during the almost 5 year occupation. Basements gave some protection from the aerial bombing by Syrian and Russian airforces. When Azazi heard of this project he deliberately broke his own sewage pipes and flooded his basement so Hassoun would reject it as a Nusra Front venue.


Syria Charity front page on its website, advertising Syrian children for “sponsorship” 

We were also told that Aleppo Council was equipped and maintained by the Syria Charity, a French government linked organisation that also “took care of the training of the White Helmets in Jib Al Qubeh”Pierre Le Corf, an independent, French humanitarian worker based in Aleppo said this about Syria Charity in his open letter to former President of France, Francois Hollande:

“Our government also finances associations such as ‘Syria Charity’ that has as an emblem the three star flag, and that was originally called the “League for a Free Syria.” This association, even if providing humanitarian aid, has crossed the thin red line by taking part in an opinion war to justify the overthrowing of the government by hiding the reality on the field and their proximity with belligerent groups and by providing constant medical relief to terrorist forces (their presence is carefully erased from all available videos).

 

Numerous French and international associations or humanitarian organisations intervening in « rebel » zones have done more harm than good through the weaponization of the suffering of the local populations and the public opinion in the name of an oriented cause, and through wrongfully directed donations. They are also responsible for taking civilians as hostages of this war, and enabling the conflict to continue by legitimizing it in a dishonest manner, enabling the fightings to continue and death to stay a daily preoccupation.”

How Events Unfolded on 30th November 2016


The street in Jib Al Qubbeh that was the scene of the White Helmet footage in November 2016. July 2017 (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

Below is the image taken from the White Helmet/AMC footage that was widely shared by corporate media, in this case, the Daily Mail who ran the unambiguous headline:

Bodies lie scattered in the streets of Aleppo after Syrian forces bombard rebel-held region, slaughtering at least 45 people 

All residents we spoke to including Azazi and Al Bakr were adamant that two terrorist home-made rockets were fired from the Eye Hospital to the east of the district of Sha’ar. At that time the Eye Hospital and the Childrens Hospital combined compound was still occupied by Nusra Front and the Jabhat Al Shamiya brigade. This hospital complex was only liberated by the Syrian Arab Army on the 4th December, so four days after the tragedy occurred in Jibb Al Qubeh.


Diagram showing (estimated) placement of Syrian Arab Army and Nusra Front in relation to Jib Al Qubeh on 30/11/2016 

On the 30th November, the closest Syrian Arab Army artillery position was in the Castle in the Old Citadel. They did also have artillery further away, to the north east of Jib Al Qubbeh in Hanano. The missiles had landed on the west side of the street targeting the Aleppo Council and adjacent building, the holes in the masonry were still visible. The Citadel was to the south west of the street and well over 1km away, therefore logic dictates that the missiles must have been fired from due east, which is where the terrorist occupied Eye Hospital is located.

First missile strike hit the wall of the Aleppo Council on the western side of the road. July 2017 (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)


Second missile/rocket strike hit further along the street towards the White Helmet centre but still on western side. July 2017 (Photo: Vanessa Beeley) 

Both Azazi and Al Bakr told me:

“We have lived through four years of occupation and we are very experienced when it comes to determining from how far away the mortars or rockets have been fired. From the sound of launch to the number of seconds before impact we can tell you almost exactly the distance to the rocket launcher and direction. These rockets were fired from the Eye Hospital to the east.”

So, through a pretty simple deduction and elimination process, the entire White Helmet/AMC, corporate media narrative has already started to fall apart at the seams. Certainly the Syrian air strike or seismic scale barrel bomb narrative does not fit as the street is largely untouched by aerial bombing, most of the structural damage is clearly from artillery mortar fire and there are additional signs of close quarter gun fights with bullet holes in the walls on both sides of the street.


Remaining buildings in the street, even those inbetween the two mortar strikes are structurally intact. July 2017 (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

Everyone interviewed told us, the attack happened at around 7am. Over 2000 civilians had been trying to escape the terrorist reprisals as the Syrian Arab Army advanced and these civilians were heading for the crossing points or SAA humanitarian collection points that would eventually give them safe access to West Aleppo. Azazi told me:

“They came from all areas, Jaloum, Salhiyeh, Midan, Bab al Nairab, Soukhari. They took this road to Farouj Al Sharq (one of the SAA collection points) instead of the main road, past the Nusra Front headquarters, to avoid being attacked by the terrorists…Nusra Front and Ahrar al Sham”. 

Azazi went on to describe the confusion that preceded the terrorist targeting of these civilians. I have paraphrased his description which I also videoed:

On that day, these 2000 civilians had been told that the safe point of Farouj AlSharq had been opened, by the SAA, to the north-east of Jibb Al Qubeh. They had collected their belongings and left their homes to escape the terrorists who were killing civilians rather than see them leave for the Syrian government held areas. (See my collection of testimonies from East Aleppo during liberation, December 2016 – here)

“As these civilians approached the end of the street, they saw that the way forward was blocked by Nusra Front terrorists. The terrorists told them to go back to Boustan Al Qasr, an area to the south-west of Jibb al Qubeh which was on the frontline between Nusra Front and the Syrian Arab Army.” said Azazi

Azazi clarified who was in charge of the Nusra Front terrorists at this point:

“The leader of Nusra Front in this area stopped them, he shot at them to turn them back. His nickname was Khattab Al Shishani his real name was Khaled Ktay. He is Syrian and from this area, we knew him” 

As they turned and fled back towards Boustan Al Qasr, they realised that this road was now also closed to them by the terrorist forces.

The crowds of civilians were effectively kettled into the narrow street at 7am when the rockets targeted them. Corporate media reports claimed 45 dead, residents told us 15 were killed in the attack. Those who managed to escape the rocket fire, were then pushed out of the street into the surrounding areas.

“Bodies were left in the street for ten hours, until 3 or 4pm” said Al Bakr.

“We watched the White Helmets steal the belongings of the victims,. They didn’t help them at all” Azazi repeated, and this eyewitness testimony was reiterated by a man who had come to join the discussion and who had a shop in the street…

“Yes, they stole all belongings from the dead bodies, they stole everything” he said. This man’s shop (in photo below) had been taken over by the Abu Amara brigade and used as a general store for their weapons and equipment.


Screenshot from video in Jibb Al Qubeh while residents explained events on 30/11/2016. July 2017. (Video: Vanessa Beeley)

“The White Helmets and Nusra Front would not allow relatives or people from the area into the street to help the injured or even to collect the bodies” added Azazi

“At around 4pm the White Helmets finally brought the orange body bags and started filming” said Al Bakr and Azazi

All three men confirmed that relatives were still prevented entry into the street to collect the bodies, until after the filming session. It is also very important to note that everyone we spoke to in East Aleppo, told us that filming or photography was only permissable if Nusra Front gave the green light. Nusra Front controlled all video footage and still photos in areas they governed, which was pretty much all of East Aleppo prior to liberation. This means that any footage being produced by the White Helmets, AMC, SMART, Channel 4 prize winning camerawoman Waad Al Khateabetc was enabled, almost exclusively by the express permission of Al Qaeda in East Aleppo. It also means that the footage and imagery that western corporate media based their narrative upon came with the blessings of Al Qaeda.

Above is a screenshot from the WhiteHelmet/AMC video. There is one White Helmet in full uniform on the left “checking” the body. The guy in the centre is unarmed but certainly looks more like a fighter than a first responder and the guy on the right is still wearing what could be identified as a militant headdress while sporting a White Helmet jacket. At this point, according to witness testimony, these bodies had already been picked clean of their valuables and belongings before these faux humanitarians starred in another of their cameo roles as rescue workers.


Walking back from the scene of the civilian massacre carried out by Nusra Front and “mopped up” by the NATO & Gulf state funded White Helmets. July 2017 with Khaled Iskef. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

Conclusions

We walked back past the remnants of war and the ghosts of the lives lost on that day in November 2016, the July heat swirled around us and the sun cast long shadows on the street beneath our feet. I felt profoundly sad that these civilians, bewildered and terrified, had been trapped in this corridor of death on a bitterly cold November day in 2016 by the terrorists and their white-helmeted cohorts, before being mown down by the Nusra Front missiles.  I tried to imagine the panic, the fear and then the severe trauma for relatives who had to watch their children, their family members, dead or dying for over ten hours, unable to reach them or to prevent their meagre belongings being stolen from them.

Meanwhile the western corporate media had not pondered on any aspect of this incident before launching their “Syria & Russia did it” campaign. A campaign based upon the evidence of the White Helmets who hours before had left the bodies unattended in the street while they sifted through their remains and robbed the dead and dying of the few items of value these families had managed to gather together as they fled to what they hoped would be refuge from a life of oppression under Nusra Front rule.

Finally those desecrated bodies became propaganda props in another White Helmet movie, destined to evoke sympathy among the misinformed in the west and to feed the “regime change” narratives of the NATO-aligned media and NGOs who rely almost exclusively upon Al Qaeda affiliated testimony to produce their bullish pro-“moderate”, no-fly-zone lobby reports.

I leave you with another “immortal” quote from the Jon Snow interview…. Syrians are going home Jon Snow, ‘you know nothing.’

 

[Investigative journalist Vanessa Beeley is a contributor to 21WIRE, and since 2011, she has spent most of her time in the Middle East reporting on events there – as a independent researcher, writer, photographer and peace activist. She is also a member of the Steering Committee of the Syria Solidarity Movement, and a volunteer with the Global Campaign to Return to Palestine. See more of her work at her blog The Wall Will Fall.]