Venezuela | Lebanon | USA

Lucas Koerner: Chavistas Take 17 of 23 States in Venezuelan Regional Elections as Opposition Cries Fraud (Venezuelanalysis)

The United Socialist Party of Venezuela won 54 percent of the total vote, marking a significant recovery since the ruling party’s landslide defeat in 2015 parliamentary elections when it garnered only 43.7 percent of the vote.

After Socialists Win 17 of 23 States, US Claims Venezuela Elections Not ‘Free and Fair’ (teleSUR)

David Hearst: Things that go bump in the night in Riyadh (Middle East Eye)

Saturday night was a busy one for Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The kingdom’s 32-year old heir to the throne excelled himself. He surpassed the high levels of chaos and human misery he had already achieved as the defence minister who launched the air campaign on Yemen.
First up was the sudden resignation of the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri after just one year in office. Hariri made his announcement from Riyadh, which is a curious place to resign the premiership of Lebanon. His speech was hardline anti-Hezbollah and anti-Iran, setting a tone not heard from him in years.
It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that when he left Lebanon, Hariri had no intention of resigning, that he himself did not know that he would resign and that this resignation had been forced on him by the Saudis.

Adam Garrie: In Stunning Reversal, Saudi Arabia Orders Arrest Of Syrian Opposition Leaders (MPN News)

As part of the wide-scale political purges conducted by Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, Riyadh has ordered the arrest of Ahmed al-Jarba and Riad Hijab, two formerly Saudi backed proxies, vying to take control of Syria and establish a Takfiri state.
While Ahmed al-Jarba and Riad Hijab never had meaningful support in Syria, Saudi had consistently backed them and their colleagues in an effort to destabilize the secular Ba’athist Arab Republic.

Ajamu Baraka: Race, Repression and Russiagate: Defending Radical Black Self-Determination (CounterPunch)

It is absurd and an insult to argue that Russian propaganda efforts “deepen political and racial tensions in the United States,” as proposed by Julia Ioffe in a recent article in the Atlantic.
But the linking of the legitimate struggle of African/Black people in the United States against systemic oppression with “foreign” influences has been a recurrent feature of the ideological and military containment strategy of the U.S. state ever since the Soviet Union emerged as an international competitor to the four hundred-year-old colonial/capitalist Pan-European project.

Wilfred Burchett: Who Filled the Graves Of Huế? (CounterPunch)

Both Ken Burns and Anthony Bourdain have recently recycled the myth of National Liberation Front massacres in Huế during the Vietnam War. The real story, however, was quite different, as revealed at the time by one of the great correspondents of the era Wilfred Burchett…
The recent attempt to equate the Sơn Mỹ (Mỹ Lai) massacre and scores of other similar atrocities with the so-called “Vietcong massacre at Huế” is a vain attempt to cover up what have been genocidal methods by the United States in South Vietnam since the war started.

Gary Rivlin, Michael Hudson: Government by Goldman (Intercept)

Goldman Sachs had been a favorite cudgel for candidate Trump — the symbol of a government that favors Wall Street over its citizenry. Trump proclaimed that Hillary Clinton was in the firm’s pockets, as was Ted Cruz. It was Goldman Sachs that Trump singled out when he railed against a system rigged in favor of the global elite — one that “robbed our working class, stripped our country of wealth, and put money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.” …
With [Gary] Cohn’s appointment [as director of the president’s National Economic Council], Trump now had three Goldman Sachs alums in top positions inside his administration: Steve Bannon, who was a vice president at Goldman when he left the firm in 1990, as chief strategist, and Steve Mnuchin, who had spent 17 years at Goldman, as Treasury secretary. And there were more to come. A few weeks later, another Goldman partner, Dina Powell, joined the White House as a senior counselor for economic initiatives. Goldman was a longtime client of Jay Clayton, Trump’s choice to chair the Securities and Exchange Commission; Clayton had represented Goldman after the 2008 financial crisis, and his wife Gretchen worked there as a wealth management adviser. And there was the brief, colorful tenure of Anthony Scaramucci as White House communications director: Scaramucci had been a vice president at Goldman Sachs before leaving to co-found his own investment company…
Prior administrations often had one or two people from Goldman serving in top positions. George W. Bush at one point had three. At its peak, the Trump administration effectively had six. [Clinton had Robert Rubin, Obama had Gary Gensler, …]

Donna Brazile: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Secret Takeover of the DNC (Politico)
George Ochenski: Hillary Clinton and the DNC: The Fish Rots From the Head (CounterPunch)

Citizens have been swamped by the tidal wave of corruption associated with or emanating from the Trump campaign and presidency, but late last week brought affirmation of a long-held belief that Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee rigged the primary campaign against populist Bernie Sanders. The revelations emanated from none other than Donna Brazile, the woman who sat in as the DNC’s chair after Debbie Wasserman Schultz was deposed for exactly the corruption Brazile now exposes. As the old saying goes, “the fish rots from the head” — and there’s a tremendous stench coming from the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign that undeniably smells of rot.

Aidan O’Brien: Ever Hear of a Place Called Azawad? How About Timbuktu? (CounterPunch)

It may not be the heart of Africa but it is the key to Africa. Forget about “Niger” and think of Azawad. Think of the bigger and older picture: a region that encompasses northern Mali, southern Algeria, southern Libya, western Niger and northern Burkina Faso.
It’s here – Azawad – where the four US Green Berets were recently killed. And it’s here where the French Foreign Legion has positioned itself in the latest scramble for Africa. The cover story is the “War on Terror”. But don’t be fooled: “white guy rule” has returned to the Sahara.
Timbuktu is the capital of Azawad. The Tuareg are it’s people. And the “white guy” the invader. Located in the center of the Sahara – all roads pass through Azawad. It’s the bridge between North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. And so it’s a geopolitical prize that’s attracting every born again Western thug.

Hannah Beech: U.S. Stood By as Indonesia Killed a Half-Million People, Papers Show (New York Times)

It was an anti-Communist blood bath of at least half a million Indonesians. And American officials watched it happen without raising any public objections, at times even applauding the forces behind the killing, according to newly declassified State Department files that show diplomats meticulously documenting the purge in 1965-66.

Vincent Bevings: What the United States Did in Indonesia (Atlantic)

As the documents show, U.S. officials knew most of his victims were entirely innocent. U.S. embassy officials even received updates on the executions and offered help to suppress media coverage…
[A] major problem with framing the events of 1965 is that it’s often claimed the United States simply “stood by,” as the bloodbath occurred, which is incorrect. “It’s easy for American commentators to fall into that approach, but the U.S. was part and parcel of the operation, strategizing with the Indonesian army and encouraging them to go after the PKI.” …
In 1965, when General Suharto blamed the military purge on a PKI coup plot, the CIA supplied communications equipment to help him spread his false reports before moving into power and overseeing the industrial-scale slaughter, as previously released government documents showed…
It has long been known that the United States provided Suharto with active support: In 1990, a U.S. embassy staff member admitted he handed over a list of communists to the Indonesian military as the terror was underway. “It really was a big help to the army,” Robert J. Martens, a former member of the embassy’s political section, told The Washington Post. “They probably killed a lot of people, and I probably have a lot of blood on my hands, but that’s not all bad.”
Much of the American press at the time did not take a radically different view. In a June 1966 column in The New York Times, entitled “A Gleam of Light in Asia,” James Reston wrote that “The savage transformation of Indonesia from a pro-Chinese policy under Sukarno to a defiantly anti-communist policy under General Suharto is the most important of these [hopeful] developments. Washington is being careful not to claim any credit … but this does not mean Washington had nothing to do with it.”

Bethan McKernan: Five children who got longer sentences for throwing stones than Israeli soldier who shot incapacitated Palestinian dead (Independent)

Tamiflu | Ukraine | Africa | Korea | MAI/TTIP/TAFTA/TPA | Palestine

Rob sent these links:
James Gallagher: Tamiflu: Millions wasted on flu drug, claims major report (BBC)

Hundreds of millions of pounds may have been wasted on a drug for flu that works no better than paracetamol, a landmark analysis has said.
The UK has spent £473m on Tamiflu, which is stockpiled by governments globally to prepare for flu pandemics.
The Cochrane Collaboration claimed the drug did not prevent the spread of flu or reduce dangerous complications, and only slightly helped symptoms.

Michel Chossudovsky: Who Owns the Rights on Tamiflu: Rumsfeld To Profit From Bird Flu Hoax (Global Research)

Rob also sent these links on Ukraine:
Jim Maceda: Tour of Ukraine-Russia Border Finds No Signs of Military Buildup (NBC)
Alastair Jamieson: NATO: No Sign of Russian Troop Withdrawal From Ukraine Border (NBC)

I read that Russia says the images of the Russian military buildup were taken last year:
Florian Rötzer: Was beweisen Satellitenbilder? (Telepolis)
Generalstab: NATO präsentiert alte Satellitenbilder russischer Truppen an ukrainischer Grenze (RIA)
Florian Rötzer: Nächste Etappe im Streit um die Bilder (Telepolis)
In English:
NATO’s Russian troop build-up satellite images ‘show 2013 drills’ (RT)
More on Ukraine:
Jack Rasmus: Ukraine’s IMF Deal: Heading Toward a Greece-like Depression? (CounterPunch)
Emmanuel Dreyfus: Ukraine beyond politics / En Ukrainujo, la ekstremistoj de naciismo (Monde Diplomatique)

The Ukraine parliament has promised elections, after the president was swept away in a brief burst of revolution in Kiev. Can the former opposition, including the far right, unite to form a viable future government?

Tariq Ali: How Vladimir Putin became evil (Guardian)

The US and UK condemn him for Crimea but supported him over the war in Chechnya. Why? Because now he refuses to play ball.

Samir Amin: Russia and the Ukraine Crisis: The Eurasian Project in Conflict with the Triad Imperialist Policies (MRzine)
David Mandel: Ukraine Between “Popular Uprising for Democracy” and “Fascist Putsch” (MRzine)

Lori M. Wallach: The corporation invasion (Monde diplomatique)

A new treaty being negotiated in secret between the US and the EU has been specifically engineered to give companies what they want — the dismantling of all social, consumer and environmental protection, and compensation for any infringement of their assumed rights.

Serge Halimi: A trade agreement nobody should want / Transatlantika kaptilo (Monde diplomatique)

You can safely bet that the Transatlantic Partnership Agreement (TPA) will not feature as much in the forthcoming European elections as the extradition of illegal immigrants or the (alleged) teaching of “gender theory” in French schools. The TPA will affect 800 million affluent people and almost half the world’s wealth. The European Commission is negotiating this free trade agreement with Washington on behalf of the EU’s 28 member states, and the European parliament elected this May will be expected to ratify it. Nothing is settled as yet, but on 11 February the French president François Hollande, during his state visit to Washington, proposed to speed things up, saying: “We have everything to gain by moving quickly. Otherwise, as we know all too well, there will be a build-up of fears, threats and tensions.”

Chris Gilbert: Don’t Pray for Venezuela: The Struggle Against Contemporary Fascism (MRzine)

The fascists who operate today in Venezuela — to say nothing of those active in the Ukraine, Greece, or Colombia — are by no means a historical aberration. Only if we take one of capitalism’s key myths at face value must we imagine that our current society is the wondrous culmination of a teleological evolutionary process and cannot just as well contain a host of violent and irrational elements that, far from being “atavistic,” are simply part and parcel with capitalist modernity. In fact, capitalism’s historical tendency, if any such thing exists, is not toward growing enlightenment but rather toward increasing barbarism.

Dan Beeton: Violent Protests in Venezuela Fit a Pattern (MRzine)

Ali Behran Özçelik: Poulantzasian Themes for Understanding Turkey’s Political Crisis (New Left Project)

On 17 December 2013, the sons of three Turkish cabinet members, the head of a state-owned bank and the mayor of a municipality in Istanbul were taken into custody in a wave of raids sparked by allegations of corruption and bribery. The Prime Minister responded by a move which ‘effectively stalled the probe’. Since then, the political turmoil in the country has only deepened. ‘Almost every evening since Dec. 17’, writes the journalist Kadri Gürsel, ‘Turks have been listening to audio recordings leaked on YouTube, starring Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’. We have seen the police and a state prosecutor stop a truck on suspicion of carrying weapons to Syria which was in fact being escorted by the intelligence organisation of the same state. Turkey is without a doubt passing through what even the bourgeois media outlets quickly and rightly called a ‘political crisis’.

Nick Turse: America’s Non-Stop Ops in Africa (TomDispatch)

The numbers tell the story: 10 exercises, 55 operations, 481 security cooperation activities.
For years, the U.S. military has publicly insisted that its efforts in Africa are small scale. Its public affairs personnel and commanders have repeatedly claimed no more than a “light footprint” on that continent, including a remarkably modest presence when it comes to military personnel. They have, however, balked at specifying just what that light footprint actually consists of. During an interview, for instance, a U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) spokesman once expressed worry that tabulating the command’s deployments would offer a “skewed image” of U.S. efforts there…
U.S. troops carry out a wide range of operations in Africa, including airstrikes targeting suspected militants, night raids aimed at kidnapping terror suspects, airlifts of French and African troops onto the battlefields of proxy wars, and evacuation operations in destabilized countries. Above all, however, the U.S. military conducts training missions, mentors allies, and funds, equips, and advises its local surrogates.

AFP: South Korea recovers suspected North Korean drone (Guardian)

South Korea says it has recovered an unidentified drone that crashed on one of its border islands the same day that North and South Korea exchanged artillery fire across their disputed maritime boundary.
The wreckage was discovered on Baengnyeong island, which lies just south of the maritime border.

Paengryŏng-do 白翎島 is actually disputed territory, the island is controlled by south Korea, but also claimed by the DPRK. This is the area where the south Korean warship Cheonan sank in 2010; south Korea accused the DPRK to have fired a torpedo at the Choenan from a “midget submarine.”
Tania Branigan: South Korea fires back at North after artillery shells land in disputed waters (Guardian)

Ramzy Baroud: Palestinian leaders’ showdown turns ugly (Asia Times)

The ongoing Abbas-Dahlan spat is confirming all the suspicions of Fatah’s detractors regarding the Fatah leadership’s role in conspiring with Israel to destroy the resistance and its leaders. Strangely, both Abbas and Dahlan continue to present themselves as the saviors of Palestinians, while each accuses the other of being an Israeli collaborator and an American stooge.

Gabrielle Chan: Bill Shorten speech on Israeli settlements stirs Palestinian group (Guardian)

Serge Halimi: Quel cap pour la Tunisie ? / Tunisia: change, but no change (Monde diplomatique)

Tunisia has taken the most hopeful direction after its Arab Spring. But none of the entrants in the forthcoming election seems to have the valid and drastic economic plans that will be needed to fulfil the aspirations of Tunisians.

Noam Chomsky: The Week the World Stood Still (TomDispatch)

The world stood still 50 years ago during the last week of October, from the moment when it learned that the Soviet Union had placed nuclear-armed missiles in Cuba until the crisis was officially ended — though unknown to the public, only officially.

John Pilger: The Forgotten Coup: How the Same Godfather Rules from Canberra to Kiev (CounterPunch)

On 11 November [1975] — the day [the Australian president Gough] Whitlam was to inform Parliament about the secret CIA presence in Australia — he was summoned by [the Governor-General of Australia, Sir John] Kerr. Invoking archaic vice-regal “reserve powers”, Kerr sacked the democratically elected prime minister. The problem was solved.

USAid doing the CIA’s work:
AP: US secretly created ‘Cuban Twitter’ to stir unrest and undermine government (Guardian)
Paul Lewis, Dan Roberts: White House denies ‘Cuban Twitter’ ZunZuneo programme was covert (Guardian)