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25 May, 2018

For Ecuador, currying favor with Washington is as simple as sacrificing Julian Assange

Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno has made no secret of his annoyance with the man he refers to a “hacker,” calling Assange “a stone in his shoe” as Ecuador seeks to restructure itself as a trusted ally of the United States.

by Elliott Gabriel

Part 3 - Seeking favor with the “Empire”

President Moreno has made no secret of his annoyance with the man he calls a “hacker,” calling Assange “a stone in his shoe” as Ecuador seeks to restructure itself as a trusted ally of the United States. Moreno’s overtures to Washington follow a 10-year policy toward the U.S. under the former administration of leftist economist Correa, who sought to undo the neoliberalism and meddling imposed on the country through a progressive movement dubbed the “Citizens’ Revolution.”

Since coming to power last May, Moreno has sought to undo his former leader’s legacy in a frenzied process that detractors point to as proof of his treacherous “Judas” nature. This has included jailing deposed Vice President Jorge Glas, a close Correa confidant, on corruption grounds; sacking the cabinet appointed following his election; holding a referendum for the purpose of preventing Correa from seeking reelection; and imposing austerity measures on the state, including the dissolution or merger of government ministries.

One year ago in Ecuador, the Citizens’ Revolution won [the elections] thanks to 10 years of our extraordinary successes, but at the helm of the country there is now a traitor who applies the program of the Right and destroys all of our social achievements,” Correa told Italian newspaper l’AntiDiplomatico.

The “Judas Traidor” characterization was confirmed in the eyes of Correistas when Ecuador inked a new security cooperation agreement with the U.S. last month allowing a U.S. military team to renew “anti-drug and organized-crime” operations in the country following the mission’s expulsion in 2014 for allegedly conspiring against the Correa administration.

Much of the Latin American left, including Correa’s stalwarts, see the sacrifice of Assange as a betrayal of the anti-imperialist and anti-colonial legacy of the continent’s progressive movements. Supporters of Moreno, however, see Assange as an obstacle to developing Ecuador’s relations with potential partners in Europe and North America.

Commenting in the newspaper El Telegrafo, Father Pedro Pierre Riouffrait noted: “It is striking that a journalist would be accused of interference when his job is to inform. Rather, he should remain protected and should be assisted in regaining his freedom. [Assange] is one of those figures of world stature who is formed to live, suffer, face accusations and slander for defending one of humanity’s greatest causes: informing us of what exactly happens in our world when people, nations and freedoms are destroyed.

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24 May, 2018

An open letter to Federica Mogherini and the European imperative to save the Iran nuclear deal

Save the Iran nuclear deal

We, the undersigned, thank you for your speech on 8th May 2018, pledging the European Union’s intention to remain steadfast in its commitment to the historic accord concluded between Iran and the E3/EU+3, the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Too often, politicians have inclined to patronise and admonish, but, instead, you opted for a “universal language” of respect and dialogue. You proclaimed that “[t]his deal belongs to each and every one of us”, and that it enjoins us not to “let anyone dismantle this agreement”. But despite such salutary remarks, in the aftermath of the Trump administration’s public announcement to withdraw from the JCPOA and re-impose sanctions on Iran, the survival of the agreement is far from assured.

The majority of Iranians have demonstrated their heartfelt support for this hard-won diplomatic accord. They have shown their support through their two-time election of a president promising to initiate constructive dialogue with the world, patiently awaiting the outcome of a long and arduous series of negotiations despite the debilitating impact of sanctions on their everyday lives, celebrating in the streets of major Iranian cities when the JCPOA was successfully agreed upon, and finally, announcing their approbation of the agreement in over 100 cities across the globe in the weeks and months that followed.

In your speech you stated that “the European Union will remain committed to the continued full and effective implementation of the Nuclear Deal”. We wholeheartedly welcome this commitment, but as you are fully apprised, it is crucial that Europe is able to discharge its international obligations and ensure, despite U.S. sanctions, that Iran and its people enjoy the full economic and political dividends promised according to not only the letter, but also the spirit of the JCPOA. The IAEA has repeatedly verified Iran’s compliance and honouring of its commitments under the agreement, and this ought to be reciprocated in turn.

In an increasingly unstable global climate and ever-more precarious “age of extremes”, it is essential that one of the great diplomatic successes of the 21st century not find itself carelessly squandered. By your own estimation it took some twelve years for this agreement to be reached. If Europe in coordination with its Russian and Chinese partners prove unable to salvage the JCPOA, the likelihood of further instability in the region and even war increases exponentially.

While the JCPOA showed that diplomacy is possible, in view of recent events and President Trump’s reneging on the accord, the message to the world shouldn’t be that peace is inevitably transient and short-lived. For every one of us who is committed to fostering peace through reasonable dialogue and mutual understanding, preserving the integrity and viability of the JCPOA is of inestimable importance. Trust in the European Union, UN Security Council and wider international community is at stake, as well as their credibility to tackle many of the enormous challenges which lie ahead in the years to come.

The Iranian people backed peace and diplomacy. Now it is the responsibility of the international community to demonstrate that they made the right decision and that the promises that were made will be carried out and effectively realised. Failure is not an option. The alternative path is simply too costly, not only for the present generation, but for posterity as well.


Ο Κούλης ετοιμάζει κράτος σκληρής καταστολής ...

failed evolution

Το νέο παραλήρημα Μητσοτάκη που ξεκίνησε τη χθεσινή του ομιλία στη βουλή με τα κοινότυπα συστημικά τσιτάτα περί 'μιας και μοναδικής βίας', αυτή τη φορά έχει μια βαθύτερη εξήγηση.

Δεν έχει να κάνει απλά με το γεγονός ότι το κόμμα του βρίσκεται σε παρακμή και ότι δεν έχει να προσφέρει τίποτα απολύτως στον Ελληνικό λαό πέρα από τη γνωστή συνταγή σκληρής λιτότητας που επιβάλλει παντού ο άξονας Βρυξελλών-Βερολίνου, στην οποία και ο ίδιος άλλωστε είναι ιδεολογικά ταγμένος.

Δεν έχει να κάνει απλά με μια απόπειρα αποπροσανατολισμού της κουβέντας από την καυτή πατάτα της οικονομίας, όπου εκεί η Νέα Δημοκρατία δεν έχει και δεν μπορεί να παρουσιάσει ούτε μία, έστω στοιχειώδη εναλλακτική.

Έχει να κάνει κυρίως με το νέο πονοκέφαλο που του έφεραν πρώην και νυν στελέχη της δεξιάς παράταξης, τα οποία άμεσα ή έμμεσα επικρότησαν την τραμπούκικη επίθεση κατά του Μπουτάρη.

Και αυτό γιατί με τις δηλώσεις αυτές έβαλαν δυναμίτη (από την άκρα δεξιά βεβαίως μεριά), στα θεμέλια του αφηγήματος του νεοφιλελεύθερου αστικού καθεστώτος περί 'μιας και μοναδικής βίας' η οποία είναι 'καταδικαστέα απ'όπου και αν προέρχεται'.

Ο πανικός των συστημικών φερέφωνων μετά τις δηλώσεις των στελεχών της δεξιάς ήταν χαρακτηριστικός, αφού έσπευσαν να τις επικαλύψουν, ανασύροντας τη θεωρία των δύο άκρων και χρησιμοποιώντας μια κραυγαλέα ισοπεδωτική λογική σε βαθμό ανοησίας. Έτσι, για παράδειγμα, το γιαούρτωμα εξισώθηκε με το μαχαίρωμα, κάτω από την ομπρέλα αυτού του αφηγήματος.


Αλλά και η αγωνία Μητσοτάκη να καθησυχάσει το αστικό καθεστώς ήταν ξεκάθαρη. Η φράση του «Δεν σας επιτρέπω να αφήσετε το παραμικρό υπονοούμενο ότι η ΝΔ έχει οποιαδήποτε σχέση με οποιαδήποτε έκφραση βίας», έγινε για να αποκαταστήσει την τάξη, υποδηλώνοντας ότι η παράταξή του θα παραμείνει πιστή στο αφήγημα περί 'μιας και μοναδικής βίας'.

Όμως πέρα από τις γενικότητες, ο Μητσοτάκης ξεκίνησε το παραλήρημα του περί βίας αναφερόμενος συγκεκριμένα στα 'Εξάρχεια', τους 'Ρουβίκωνες' και τους 'αγανακτισμένους'. Και στο σημείο αυτό, πάλι κάτι ξέχασε: τους φασίστες.

Έτσι, έστειλε σήμα στους μηχανισμούς του αστικού καθεστώτος ότι θα συνεχίζει να το προστατεύει εγκαθιστώντας ένα κράτος σκληρής καταστολής, χωρίς να πειράξει το ακροδεξιό βαθύ κράτος που επιστρατεύει η εγχώρια ολιγαρχία όταν αισθάνεται κίνδυνο. Ένας κίνδυνος που μπορεί να έρθει σε περίπτωση νέων αναταραχών από τις βάναυσες πολιτικές λιτότητας που ο Μητσοτάκης θα συνεχίσει να εφαρμόζει πιστά.

Αφού λοιπόν δεν πρόκειται να φέρει καμία πραγματική αλλαγή προς όφελος των πολιτών, παρά θα συνεχίσει το ίδιο μοντέλο που επιβάλλει έτσι και αλλιώς η ευρωζώνη, θα χρειαστεί να έχει με το μέρος του όλο το οπλοστάσιο της προπαγάνδας των συστημικών ΜΜΕ πριν από τις εκλογές, όποτε και αν γίνουν.

Διότι μπορεί και ο Τσίπρας να εφαρμόζει (και θα συνεχίσει να εφαρμόζει το ίδιο μοντέλο), αλλά τουλάχιστον είναι απαλλαγμένος από το γεμάτο σκάνδαλα παρελθόν του Μητσοτάκη και της παράταξής του, που μαζί με το ΠΑΣΟΚ, οδήγησαν τη χώρα τελικά στη χρεοκοπία.

For Ecuador, currying favor with Washington is as simple as sacrificing Julian Assange

Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno has made no secret of his annoyance with the man he refers to a “hacker,” calling Assange “a stone in his shoe” as Ecuador seeks to restructure itself as a trusted ally of the United States.

by Elliott Gabriel

Part 2 - An attack on Assange’s mental health

Sealed off from the internet, phone calls, or outside visitors, the 46-year-old Assange is now faced with deteriorating health, an inability to visit the hospital to treat chronic health maladies, and conditions usually suffered by those held in solitary confinement.

Last August, Assange explained to The New Yorker that he suffers from bouts of anxiety and depression due to his isolation, often remaining awake for anywhere between 18 and 22 hours per day: “The walls of the Embassy are as familiar as the interior of my eyelids … I see them, but I do not see them.

Rafael Correa — the former president of Ecuador, who extended asylum to Assange in 2012 while the U.S., Britain and Sweden sought his detention — has denounced the move as a blatant attempt to psychologically torment the whistleblower. Speaking to The Intercept, the popular former head of state noted: “Denial of visitors is a clear violation of his rights. Once we give asylum to someone, we are responsible for his safety, for ensuring humane living conditions. Without communications to the outside world and visits from anyone, the government is basically attacking Julian’s mental health.

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Analyzed: The Western media's fear and loathing of Venezuela

"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum." – Noam Chomsky

By Manmeet Sahni

Part 5 - Questionable Statistics

Moreover, the figures supporting Paez's argument in the Wall Street Journal simply don't add up. Joe Emersberger breaks them down in the Green Left Weekly: "According to a Colombian university study of Venezuelan migration to Colombia, it averaged about 47,000 per year from 2011–2014, then increased to 80,000 per year in 2015–16.

"U.S. government data show migration from Venezuela to the United States increasing from about 7,000 per year before 2013 to 28,000 per year by 2015, including Venezuelans who have entered without authorization.

"Between 2000 to 2013, the United States was the destination for about 30 percent of Venezuelan-born people who left to live abroad, according to the World Bank figures.

"If the Colombian university study and U.S. government data are accurate, then the United States has been the destination for about 20 percent of Venezuelan migrants after 2013. That would mean about 140,000 Venezuelans per year were leaving to live abroad by 2016.

"That is not remotely comparable to the 5 million Syrians who fled the country in the first five years following the civil war – and that doesn't include over a million per year who fled their homes inside Syria (the internally displaced)."

Western media continue to dismiss the May 20 elections as a farce, despite the fact they will be overseen by international experts and organizations – including the African Union, the Caribbean Community and the Latin American Council on Electoral Experts (CEELA) – and involve one of the most technologically sophisticated voting systems in the world.

With just days to go until Venezuela chooses its next president, luminaries across the continent are rightly petitioning to fight such media bias and calling instead for "balanced information that allows us to understand the complexity of the situation in Venezuela."

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