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Forging Democracy: The CIA's "Helping Hands"

CIA’s Hidden Hand in ‘Democracy’ Groups
by Robert Parry - Consortium News

Freedom House and the National Endowment for Democracy stress their commitment to freedom of thought and democracy, but both cooperated with a CIA-organized propaganda operation in the 1980s, according to documents released by Ronald Reagan’s presidential library.

One document showed senior Freedom House official Leo Cherne clearing a draft manuscript on political conditions in El Salvador with CIA Director William Casey and promising that Freedom House would make requested editorial “corrections and changes” – and even send over the editor for consultation with whomever Casey assigned to review the paper.

CIA Director William Casey

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I Was Ahmed Merabet: Muslim Policeman Among Dead in Paris

Je Suis Ahmed Merabet
by Mazin Qumsiyeh - Popular Resistance

How many media outlets bothered to tell us that the injured French policeman executed by terrorists on the pavement was a Muslim French policeman by the name of Ahmed Merabet? 

These terrorists seemed like professionally trained maybe by a state intelligence service and yet “conveniently” forgot an identity card in the get-away car and are killed not apprehended. 

The timing of this incident was suspicious, too.

First it came a week after France voted in the UN Security Council to end the Israeli occupation that started in 1967 (i.e. with a sub-minimal demand supported by International law). Second, the terror attack happened just after the Israeli government said their largest number of immigrants in 2014 came from France and they want more colonial settlers. 


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A Big Abbas Bluff: Bringing Israel Before the Hague Dock

Palestinians at the Hague: Abbas’ big bluff on war crimes bid against Israel
by Jonathan Cook in Nazareth
Intense pressure from Israel and the US last week on members of the United Nations Security Council narrowly averted Washington’s embarrassment at being forced to veto a Palestinian resolution to end the occupation.

The Palestinians’ failure to get the necessary votes saved the White House’s blushes but at a cost: the claim that the US can oversee a peace process promising as its outcome a Palestinian state is simply no longer credible.

Looming is the post-peace process era. Its advent appears to have been marked by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ decision in the immediate wake of the Security Council vote to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague.

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Mahmoud Abbas and His "Authority"

The Problem with Mahmoud Abbas and His Authority
by Ramzy Baroud - PalestineChronicle.com
It was the moment many had been waiting for. On January 2, Palestine’s United Nations envoy, Riyad Mansour formally requested membership at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
“We are seeking justice for all the victims that have been killed by Israel, the occupying power,” he said.
There was no explanation why Palestine’s membership of the Rome Statue (through which the ICC is governed) was delayed in the first place; of why no justice was ever sought for thousands of victims in Gaza, and many in the West Bank and Jerusalem, although such membership would have been granted much earlier.
In fact, in 2012, Palestine’s status at the UN was upgraded, from an observer entity to an ‘observer state’. The move was largely symbolic, since it was an attempt at breathing life in the two-state-solution, which was long dead. But it had one single practical benefit – the coveted membership at the ICC. Finally, Israel could be held accountable for its war crimes; finally, a measure of justice was possible.

Evil Folly and Roots of the Paris Press Attack

A Hundred Years of Evil Folly: The Bloody Roots of the Paris Attack
by Chris Floyd - Empire Burlesque
As you might expect, the very secular "Angry Arab, As'ad AbuKhahlil, has some pertitent observations on the Charlie Hebdo attack. You should read the whole piece, but here are some excerpts from his "Notes on the shooting in Paris":
I feel strongly about the right to offend and to mock as an artist (and as a human being). That right should be absolute. .. Muslims do need to lighten up, and should feel secure enough to stomach mockery and satire against their religion. And they should not allow their enemies (even the bigots among them) to provoke them so easily....
... Yes, one should vehemently condemn the crimes against the cartoonist and writers and journalists but should in the same vein condemn the on-going French and US bombing raids that are taking place from Mali to Afghanistan, passing through Yemen and Syria. And those bombs are real and they are killing real people. Those are terrorist actions as much as the shooting in Paris was a terrorist action.
Western policies in Syria have produced, and will continue to produce, terrorist organizations the likes of which we have not seen since the creation of Al-Qa`idah. The enthusiastic policies of arming and sponsoring "rebel groups in Syria" are responsible for the proliferation of fanatical terrorist groups which will terrorize those countries that had sponsored them.
The source of all those terrorist groups is known: Gulf regimes and their Western sponsors. They have been indulging those regimes form the days of the Cold War. I was on the side of the left and progressive forces during the Cold War, while you--in the West--were on the side of those speaking the language of Jihad and...oil.

The direct roots -- and bitter fruits -- of actions like the attack in Paris and the depredations of ISIS in the ruins of American-raped Iraq go back 100 years, to the break-up of the Ottoman Empire, then forward through decades of fateful, and fatal, decisions by Western elites to support, advance -- and arm -- the most retrograde forms of Islam in order to prevent the rise of any alternatives to the authortiarian client states they favored in the region. At every turn, the West has exacerbated the century-long crisis within Islam, producing -- as AbuKhalil notes above -- a relentless series of extremist groups, each seemingly more virulent than the last, who, as he rightly says, "terrorize those countries that had sponsored them."
(For example, the latest news reports indicate that the Paris attackers probably had some kind of formal military training; they could well have fought in the Syrian "jihad" which the West and its extremist allies in the Middle East, like Saudi Arabia, have been fuelling for years with arms and aid. And who can forget -- except for 99 percent of the American political-media establishment, of course -- the original joint American-Saudi creation of the global jihadi movement in the late 70s and early 80s, designed as a "Great Game" ploy to goad the Soviets in Afghanistan?)

2014 Remembered: Year of the Drone

The Year in Drones
by Charles Pierson - CounterPunch
 2014 was a good year for US killer drones. In October, the US celebrated (if that is the word) its 400th drone strike on Pakistan. Unable to attend the festivities were the 2,379 Pakistanis killed by US drones since 2004. Of these, only 12% of the victims who have been identified have been linked to militant organizations, this according to an October report from the independent British-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
Drone victims have been largely invisible to Americans. An exception is the family of Rafiq ur Rehman, a Pakistani schoolteacher. On October 24, 2012, a US drone killed Rafiq’s 67-year old mother while she was gathering okra behind the Rehmans’ home in Waziristan in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
A year later, on October 29, 2013, Rafiq and his two young children testified before Congress. The Rehmans were brought to Capitol Hill by Representative Alan Grayson (D-FL) and Robert Greenwald, director of Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars. This was the first—and, so far, the only—time drone victims had testified before Congress. The Rehmans might just as well have saved themselves the trip. Only five members of Congress showed up to listen to the Rehmans’ testimony.

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Kathy Kelly, Kelly Carson, Joan Russow Jan 7th, 2015

This Week on GR
by C. L. Cook - Gorilla-Radio.com
Welcome to 2015! Christmas Day past, American president Obama announced the cessation of the US "combat mission" in Afghanistan, saying, "the longest war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion." Part of that "responsible conclusion" is the inclusion of thousands of American forces who will, the president reassures:
"[M]aintain a limited military presence in Afghanistan to train, advise and assist Afghan forces and to conduct counterterrorism operations against the remnants of al Qaeda."

Those "counterterrorism operations" will doubtless include the continuation of aerial drone attacks, those anonymous assassinations from above responsible by some estimates for more than 28 innocents killed for every "terrorist" targeted; points left out of the president's press release.

Two week prior to Mr. Obama's Hawaiian Christmas address, Kathy Kelly was sentenced by a federal magistrate in a Jefferson City, Missouri court to three months in federal penitentiary for her trespasses against Whitman Air Force Base, but one home to the US military's drone program. 
Kelly is a long-time peace and justice activist, who has braved America's notorious judicial system many times before. She has lived amongst the people in Afghanistan too, feeling first hand the brunt of poverty and war there, and says of her conviction, "I’m educated and humbled by experiences talking with people who’ve been trapped and impoverished by U.S. warfare." Adding,
"The U.S. prison system also traps and impoverishes people. In coming months, I’ll surely learn more about who goes to prison and why."
Kathy Kelly is recipient of numerous awards for her peace service, including: Three nominations for the Nobel Peace prize; the Bradford-O'Neill Medallion for Social Justice; Oscar Romero Award; War Resisters League Peace Award; The Chomsky Award of the Justice Studies Association, and more. She's also co-founder of Voices in the Wilderness and Voices for Creative Nonviolence, has written too many essays and articles to relate, co-authored the book, 'Prisoners on Purpose: a Peacemakers Guide to Jails and Prison,' and wrote the book, 'Other Lands Have Dreams: from Baghdad to Pekin Prison.'
Kathy Kelly in the first half.
And; over the weekend, citizens concerned about the decision by Oak Bay mayor and council to begin a deer cull marched to its leafy municipal hall to voice their collective objection to the scheme that would see more than twenty of the animals trapped and killed. The decision to carry out the controversial program was made late in 2013, designed to be enacted any time after January, 2015. Kelly Carson is spokesperson for DeerSafe Victoria, and says the Oak Bay plan is merely the beginning of a larger plan to eradicate deer across municipalities on the lower island.
Kelly Carson and collapsing the clover trap on Oak Bay's deer population cullers in the second half.
And; Victoria Street Newz publisher emeritus and CFUV Radio broadcaster, Janine Bandcroft is called away so will not be joining us at the bottom of the hour today, but vows she will return! So first up, Kathy Kelly, guilty of "criminal trespass to a military installation," preparing her return to prison.
Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Wednesday, 1-2pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, and on the internet at: http://cfuv.uvic.ca. And now heard at Simon Fraser University's http://www.cjsf.ca . He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, http://www.pacificfreepress.com. Check out the GR blog at: http://gorillaradioblog.blogspot.ca/
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Master Class Speaks: Piling on Putin at G20

Master Class: The Elite School
by Chris Floyd  - Empire Burlesque
Although we live in an age of outrages that keep the mind in a state of continual embogglement, it was still something of a shock to see the brazen hypocrisy displayed by the Lords of the West recently when they "confronted" Vladimir Putin at the five-star freakshow known as the G20.
As the breathless headlines in the entirely free and not-at-all government-influenced Western media related, the paragons of the "Anglosphere" lined up to deliver some stark home truths to the Russian honcho about his wanton "interference" in the sovereign affairs of another country – a heinous crime which, as we all know, automatically casts the perpetrator from the bosom of the international community.
No doubt the Kremlin mountaineer was shaking in his boots from the tongue-lashings ladled out by the pasty-faced PR flack, David Cameron, the gibbering, land-raping woman-hating twit, Tony Abbot, and that oozing mass of bile in a suit, Stephen Harper. (Oh, there were giants in those days, our grandchildren will surely say of the heroes who walk among us.)
But the squeakings of these pips were as sounding brass or tinkling cymbal to the moral thunder of the Prince of Peace his own self, Barack Nobel Obama, when he took his turn at the stern finger-wagging. 

Below is my column from the December issue of CounterPunch Magazine.

Klein and the Big Green (Collaboration) Machine

This Changes Something: Naomi Klein takes on the Big Greens
by Dru Oja Jay - Briar Patch Magazine

klein changesIn Jonathan Franzen’s bestselling novel Freedom, the main character accepts a dream job from a billionaire philanthropist. He is charged with partnering with coal companies in West Virginia to set aside 100 square miles as pristine habitat for the Cerulean Warbler, an endangered songbird that is further threatened by coal mining operations. There is, however, a catch: first, the coal companies will mine one third of the area using mountaintop removal techniques.
Franzen’s fictional scenario is probably the most widely read critique of the tendency of environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) to seek “win-win” deals with industrial operators, however improbable or destructive. Oprah praised the novel as a “masterpiece,” and Barack Obama called it “fantastic.” One wonders, however, how many readers overlooked the implications of Franzen’s ENGO parody and the reality it depicts.
Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate might not garner praise from Oprah and Obama, but it’s the second book on the New York Times bestseller list in recent years to take aim at the unholy alliance of ENGOs and the fossil fuel industry. And unlike Franzen’s fiction, Klein’s writing presents this reality free of artistic irony and distance.

Ukraine as American Journalism's Nadir

Hitting a Journalistic Nadir: Cold-War-Style Propaganda Posing as News at the New York Times
by Dave Lindorff - This Can't Be Happening
As shameful a propagandist for Washington’s war machine as the New York Times has been over the years, sometimes I still cannot believe the brazenness of its abandonment of even a pretext of dispassionate journalistic standards. One of those moments came today, when I read the left-column page-one article by Jim Yardley and Jo Becker headlined “How Putin Forged a Pipeline Deal that Derailed.”
In this Putin hit piece, the two journalists write that the pipeline in question, the so-called South Stream, which was intended to deliver Russian natural gas to southern Europe via a route through Bulgaria, was “Mr. Putin’s most important European project, a tool of economic and geopolitical power critical to twin goals: keeping Europe hooked on Russian gas, and further entrenching Russian influence in fragile former Soviet satellite states as part of a broader effort to undermine European unity.”
No suggestion here that laying a pipeline from Russia’s gas fields to directly supply (and sell) natural gas to nations like Italy, Austria, booming southern Germany, the Czech Republic, Rumania, Hungary and the Balkan states might make good business sense!

Journalistic Pimping for the Philly PD

The demise of mainstream journalism, Chapter II : Philadelphia Inquirer Pimps for Philly Cop Chief
by Dave Lindorff - This Can't Be Happening
When I was starting out as a reporter back in 1972, working for a little family-owned daily, the Middletown Press in central Connecticut, I had editors and a publisher who demanded the best from us. If I was covering a story -- whether it was a police blotter report, a town meeting, or a controversial decision by a local zoning board -- and I failed to ask an important question, I inevitably got a call from the editor telling me to get it answered and inserted into my article.
These days, leaving important questions unasked is not just commonplace, it has become the norm. This is particularly true when it comes to not questioning the assertions of government authorities.
A few days ago, I wrote about how the New York Times has been simply parroting, unquestioned, the official Washington line [1] concerning Russia and President Vladimir Putin in its reports on the crisis in Ukraine, where a US-backed coup last year ousted the elected government and installed a bunch of fascists and corrupt oligarchs.
Now we have the once-celebrated Philadelphia Inquirer, which in the wake of a spate of police murders of unarmed blacks in Los Angeles, Ferguson, MO, Staten Island, NY and Cleveland, OH, shamelessly pimped for the brutal and murderous Philadelphia Police Department and its complicit Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey.

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