January 24, 2015 - No. 4

Second Session of 41st Parliament Reopens January 26

Harper Conservatives Caught in Their Own Budget Shell Game


Indications of Crisis in Fortress North America
- Louis Lang -
Government Funds National Campaign
to Support Ukrainian Fascists

- Dougal MacDonald -

70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army
Russia Excluded from Commemoration Ceremonies
Who Is Going to Auschwitz?
- Yuriy Rubtsov -

Freedom of Speech of the Reactionary Ruling Classes
No Chelsea Morning for Hypocritical World Leaders in Paris
- Matthew Behrens -

France Begins Jailing People for Ironic Comments
- Ali Abunimah -

Latest FBI Claim of Disrupted Terror Plot
Deserves Much Scrutiny and Skepticism

- Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Fishman -
U.S. Black Ops to Frame Iran for Possession of Nuclear Weapons

High Level Meeting for Normalization of Cuba-U.S. Relations
U.S. Delegation Arrives in Cuba for Historic Talks
Obama Calls on Congress to End "Embargo" of Cuba

Obama Doesn't Need Congressional Permission to End Blockade
- Radio Havana Cuba Editorial -
New U.S. Regulations on Trade and Travel to Cuba
Coming Events

Justice for Haiti!
Imperialist Exploiters and Their Collaborators Out!

Mass Actions Express People's Opposition
to Corruption and Rule by Decree

Anniversary of Earthquake Reveals Depravity of
Imperialist "Humanitarian Aid"

Second Session of 41st Parliament Reopens January 26

Harper Conservatives Caught in
Their Own Budget Shell Game

Deep deception surrounds the delayed federal budget

As the second session of the 41st Parliament is set to reopen, speculation is rife about everything -- from when the 2015 election will take place, to who will win it, to what anti-social, anti-worker, anti-immigrant laws Canadians can expect from the government next while Canada is further embroiled in the wars of the U.S. Empire in the Middle East.

The federal election is set by law to take place on October 19, 2015 unless it is called earlier by the Prime Minister which could indeed be done. All the calculations are self-serving and nothing is predictable because the public authority has been dismantled and private interests are waging an intense battle for control of the state power to further their interests on global markets.

Within this framework, Federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver is the centre of a monopoly media storm over the unexpected delay of the federal budget and whether it will or will not be balanced. The election script has been written and the people told that Harper's chances at repeating as the Cartel Parties' King in the Parliament hang in the balance... specifically the balancing of a $280-billion budget.

The recent collapse of oil prices has unbalanced not only the budget but also the Finance Minister, who postponed the release of the 2015 budget from February until at least April, beyond the end of the current fiscal year. Apparently, some tinkering needs to be done before the election. The monopoly media are awash with speculation of spending cuts or other measures to ensure "balance" is achieved, as "balance" has been made the crucial feature to return Harper as King in the Parliament.

Casting gloom on Harper's balanced budget promise, CBC reports, "TD Economics forecast a $2.3-billion deficit in 2015-16 followed by a $600-million deficit for 2016-17, rather than the $1.6-billion surplus the government promised for 2015-16."

Feeling pinched by the unexpected situation, the Canadian Press quotes a rather testy Finance Minister as "refusing to provide a deadline for when the Conservative government will table its now-delayed budget, saying he doesn't want to get into 'negative hypotheticals.'" The tradition has long been that the federal budget is presented before the end of the fiscal year on March 31.

In a speech to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce on January 15, Oliver said he still does not know when the budget will be delivered. Oliver told the Chamber, "As the great Yogi Berra once said, 'I wish I had an answer, because I'm tired of answering the question.' That said, given the current market instability, I will not bring forward our budget earlier than April. We need all the information we can obtain before finalizing our decisions."

CBC quotes former Bank of Canada governor David Dodge arguing against a delayed budget saying, "If you don't have an accountant's fixation on a particular number... then in some sense what you might want is even an earlier budget to say what you're going to do to reorient your spending policy and just accept the fact that your deficit numbers are going to be considerably larger than they would have been at $75 US or $100 US [per barrel] oil.... That's not the end of the world. We don't have a big debt problem."

But Harper's calculations are not based on what is good for the economy and people; they derive from his aim to win the election and to continue to serve the private interests who put him in office in the first place. As is the wont of the cartel parties, the end of electoral victory justifies the means.

Obfuscation of the Economy

Balance of course takes two aspects to equal out in whatever is being judged, in this case government revenue and expenditures. This "equaling out" of complex features of a modern economy into one pot of expenditures and another of revenue is a form of disinformation meant to obfuscate the socialized economy. To deepen the confusion, Defence Minister Peter MacKay likens the federal budget to a family household budget and calls on Canadians "to live within their means" in both cases. This grossly confuses the economy's obvious differences amongst divergent economic sectors such as public education, which produces enormous value for the economy to be circulated and realized, and the military, which produces nothing and circulates only salaries.

The anti-social austerity campaign of former Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, who passed away last year, made much of the need to reduce expenditures to equal revenue. In this anti-social offensive, he cut money for social programs such as Veterans' Affairs, Employment Insurance etc. Neo-liberals speak little of increasing revenue as that is downplayed, especially taxes on big corporations. Under neo-liberal orthodoxy, governments must withdraw from participation in the economy and reduce their direct claims on produced value by constantly lowering corporate taxation and resource royalties. Rather, governments are supposed to put the burden on people by lowering their living standards as governments claim value indirectly from the working class through sales and income taxes. Instead of claiming money from the monopolies where workers produce value in the basic sectors, governments hand public money that is collected mostly from the people over to the monopolies to maintain certain rates of profit and the opulent lifestyles of the rich who own and control those companies.

Harper's shell game is caught with plunging oil prices and downsizing in the energy sector putting a $4-billion hole in projected government revenue. His goal of a neo-liberal balanced budget on the backs of the people and possible re-election are slipping away. The monopoly media are all atwitter with speculation, as his ministers react like deer in headlights. "Spending cuts may come in spring budget, Conservatives signal," declares CBC News. Harper's Employment Minister Jason Kenney says, "That's the question we'll have to assess in the budget. We'll have to calibre [sic] whether additional restraint is necessary on the spending side but this is why it's important for us to keep taxes down.... The government has a commitment to balance the budget and we'll do that. If that requires some adjustments, we'll make those adjustments.... It may require some kind of continued spending restraint. For example, we've had an operating spending freeze within the government, things like that may have to continue."

The Harper government began a three-year operating spending freeze in 2010 overseen by Treasury Board President Tony Clement and extended it for another two years in 2013. A TD Economics report notes, "[Federal government] operating expenses are currently at an all-time low as a share of the economy." Clement told CBC, "We believe that we can get that balanced budget. It does mean that some of our other spending promises have to be looked at again, the flexibility has been removed but it's quite possible to get to a balanced budget."

Anonymous Harper PMO staffers immediately contradicted the two cabinet ministers and said no spending promises will be changed yet a balanced budget will still be achieved. They added that the two ministers are not part of the Harper budget team and were not privy to all the budget information and discussion. Other cartel parties jumped on the budget delay and confusion saying Harper's government has lost its way, was tired and confused by the rapidly unfolding events, and in need of replacement.

Replacement indeed but in substance. Harper's balanced budget shell game is coming home to haunt him. In the face of his regime's obfuscation and detachment from solving economic problems and the cartel parties' obsession with gaining political power at all costs, the people are confronted with the challenge of democratic renewal. The country needs modern political mechanisms that facilitate people's empowerment, and the economy needs a new pro-social direction to move it forward to resolve its contradictions and meet the needs, well-being and security of the people.

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Indications of Crisis in Fortress North America

Canada has postponed a summit with the leaders of the United States and Mexico. Harper had been due to host U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto for the annual North American Leaders' Summit, the so-called Three Amigos, and a date had tentatively been set for late February. The PMO gave no reasons for the cancellation.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in Washington, "It's my understanding that [the summit] ... has been postponed from early this year to later in the year." He added, "As long as this meeting gets rescheduled in a timely fashion ... and we can continue to have the kind of strong relationship that we have with our neighbours to the north, then there's no concern here at the White House about it."

There was some speculation by the media that if Obama did come to Canada he would face pointed questions about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would run from the Alberta tar sands to the United States. More important, however, is Canada's dilemma that if the United States does not want its oil -- in 2013, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that 97 per cent of Canadian production was shipped south -- what should it do with it?

The Harper government, together with Republican and other forces in the U.S. Congress and Senate, has been putting maximum pressure on Obama to approve the pipeline. He has consistently refused, citing environmental issues, and the fact that he believes that benefits to the U.S. in terms of jobs would be minimal. However behind these excuses also lie profound inter-monopoly contradictions between U.S. owners of energy resources -- heavy tar sands oil, fracked oil and coal amongst others -- in which Canada and its ministers at both the federal and provincial level are embroiled. The issue of the unconstitutional denationalization of the Mexican petroleum industry is also a matter of mass opposition in Mexico which the rulers of the three countries manouevre to keep off the radar.

Canadian Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford told reporters on January 14 that he still believes the pipeline will be approved one day -- a strong hint that Canada is looking beyond Obama, who will leave office in early 2017.

There have also been reports recently that Mexico has expressed displeasure that Canada continues to require its citizens to obtain visas before visiting.

President Peña Nieto publicly raised the issue at last February's summit in Toluca, Mexico, but his government is increasingly frustrated that the requirement remains even though changes to Canada's asylum system dramatically reduced refugee claims by Mexicans -- the reason Canada cited for imposing visas. In Mexico, it is the touchstone political issue in Canadian relations, and Peña Nieto was expected to bring it up again in February. Of course there are also the profound problems between Mexico and the United States on the issue of immigration that are sharper than ever with the Republican takeover of the two Houses of Congress.

The summit was also threatened with a demonstration against the Peña Nieto government due to its role in the September 26 disappearance in Iguala, Mexico, of 43 students from the Ayotzinapa teachers' college. Sources had already suggested that Peña Nieto would not attend personally for fear of protests like those that hounded him in his recent travels to the U.S.

When Peña Neto visited President Obama in Washington, DC on January 6, he was met with large public demonstrations and constant media questions about the Ayotzinapa killings and disappearances. Hundreds of Mexicans from all over the U.S., from as far away as Los Angeles, protested his visit shouting slogans accusing him of responsibility for the killings.

While Obama has publicly commented on the killed and missing students from Ayotzinapa, declaring the matter an "outrageous tragedy," the Harper government has not deigned to do that much and has remained silent on the issue.

It is interesting to note that the Canadian Council of Chief Executive Officers, which has long been involved in trilateral business issues, produced recommendations for the leaders last month, noting the summit was scheduled for February.

Some government officials have said off the record that summit agenda items had not been nailed down, which is a clear indication of differences between governments and between governments and business leaders.

In a January 15 article in the Globe and Mail, political affairs reporter Campbell Clark wrote, "Facing an election in October, Mr. Harper has in recent months emphasized his prime ministerial stature on the world stage -- using summits to call for action against Islamic State or to blast Russian President Vladimir Putin for interference in Ukraine. But hosting a summit likely to highlight disputes with powerful neighbours would be a political risk as he prepares to go to the polls."

While the reasons for cancelling the summit of the three North American leaders are being kept murky by the Canadian government, it is clear that Harper's political ambitions and the contention between monopoly and financial interests are exposing the crisis created by the project of the largest monopoly corporations to fully integrate Canada and Mexico into the United States of North American Monopolies.

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Government Funds National Campaign to
Support Ukrainian Fascists

On January 13, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that his government's Citizenship and Immigration Department, run by Jason Kenney, would give the Canada Ukraine Foundation (CUF) and its allies almost $1.5 million to conduct a "National Awareness Tour" regarding what the Ukrainian reactionaries call the "Holodomor." This is the fictitious "man-made famine" said to have taken place in Ukraine in 1932-33, concocted by the Nazis to discredit the Soviet Union and the great prestige it had amongst the world's peoples, and to justify aggression against it. Harper and his ministers carefully omit from all their Holodomor speeches the fact that while there were difficult times in Ukraine mainly due to the long imperialist invasion of Soviet Russia which began in 1918 and included Canadian troops, there was never a "man-made famine" there.

The myth of the Holodomor has been revived in this period of retreat of revolution to cover up the crimes which the U.S. imperialists are committing in their striving to dominate the world, along with the Israeli Zionists and their backers in Europe and North America, which includes the government of Canada and the Harper government in particular. To its great shame, the Harper government was the first in the world to "officially recognize" the "Holodomor" in 2008. The Harperites have gone so far as to officially declare the Holodomor to be an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people. The only other parliaments to have done so are Argentina, Austria, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, and the United States. Estonia, Lithuania and Hungary, along with Ukraine itself, are states which are at the forefront of the neo-Nazi revival in Europe. The Ukraine government, which the National Tour is intent on promoting, includes a number of declared neo-Nazis.

Holodomor National Awareness Tour

The Holodomor National Awareness Tour, which is to begin in the spring of this year, is a joint project between four reactionary organizations: the CUF, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC), the Ukrainian Canadian Research and Documentation Centre (UCRDC) and the Holodomor Research and Educational Consortium (HREC). One of the directors of CUF is Andrew Robinson, Ambassador of Canada to Ukraine from 2001 to 2005, the period which includes the U.S.-financed Orange "Revolution."

A customized forty-foot RV, with an interactive audio-visual technology centre on board, will tour Canada, visiting schools, universities, government buildings and Ukrainian community and Canadian mainstream events, festivals and gatherings across the country. The "awareness" campaign will use the"big lie" technique perfected by the Nazis, i.e., repeating the lie of the Holodomor over and over again in hopes Canadians will rally behind the resurgence of fascist forces in Ukraine and join the war propaganda against Russia.

Notably, former Nazi collaborators and their spawn are in the forefront of the phony Holodomor campaign. After the Second World War, Canada became a haven for Ukrainians who collaborated with the Nazis and killed their own citizens to serve Nazi aims. Once in Canada, and with the help of the Canadian state, these war criminals built reactionary domestic organizations (e.g., the UCC) which persist to this day. These organizations displaced already-established progressive Ukrainian organizations. Some collaborators achieved high positions, for example, Waffen SS member Peter Savaryn served as VP of the national PC Party and was Chancellor of the University of Alberta for four years.

Fabrication of the Anti-Communist Myth

It was the Hitlerite Nazis who created the famine myth in 1933 to discredit the Soviet Union, the enemy they most feared. The Nazis wrote front page stories in German newspapers, which were then taken up by the reactionary British press. One of the enthusiastic promoters of the story was Lord Rothermere, the owner of the London Daily Mail monopoly press, He was anti-Soviet, anti-communist, and anti-labour. A friend of Hitler and Mussolini and sympathetic to Oswald Mosley's British fascist party, Rothermere sent a number of congratulatory telegrams to Hitler before the invasion of Poland. On June 27, 1939, he wrote: "My Dear Fuhrer, I have watched with understanding and interest the progress of your great and superhuman work in regenerating your country."

In September, 1934, multi-millionaire William Randolph Hearst, the leading U.S. publisher of the "yellow press" and an open supporter of Nazism, met with Hitler and Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels in Berlin and signed a cash deal to promote a positive image of the Nazis in the U.S. The Hearst papers carried columns paid for by Adolf Hitler, Herman Goering and Benito Mussolini, and Hearst attended the huge 1934 Nazi Party Nuremberg rally. Hearst was virulently anti-Soviet, anti-communist, anti-labour and racist to the core. He hated minorities, particularly Mexicans, whom he portrayed as lazy, degenerate and violent. The Hearst "yellow press" sensationalized, exaggerated and even fabricated news stories, to try to push its reactionary agenda and to sell more newspapers. Egged on by the Hitlerites, Hearst's papers became the biggest propagandists for the Ukrainian famine myth, using fake photographs and printing lies that have been refuted by evidence over and over again.

Hearst's fraudulent famine campaign began on February 8, 1935 with a fabricated front-page headline in his Chicago American: "6 million people die of hunger in the Soviet Union." Using material supplied by Nazi Germany, Hearst began to publish lies about a genocide which was supposedly deliberately perpetrated by the Soviet leadership, causing several million to die of starvation in the Ukraine. What actually took place in the Soviet Union at the beginning of the 1930s was a major class struggle in which poor landless peasants rose up against the rich landowners, the kulaks, and began a struggle for collectivization of agriculture. The Hearst press articles falsely asserting that millions died of a man-made famine in the Ukraine were the origin of the larger myth alleging millions died in the Soviet Union. These myths were taken up by the CIA and MI5, and in the post-war period by the McCarthyite witch hunters, and by paid propagandists such as Stanford Professor Robert Conquest, a former agent of MI5. For decades, such slanders have spread a negative view of socialism in the Soviet Union.

Harper Government's Aim in Supporting Ukrainian Fascists

During its long love affair with the Ukrainian reactionaries, the Harper government has never once denounced the fact that the Nazis exterminated over three million people in Ukraine. These horrendous crimes have disappeared into thin air to serve the Harperite agenda. It is as if the Nazis were Canada's war-time ally, not the Soviet Union. The Harper government has also remained silent about how the Canadian state allowed known Nazi war criminals, including those from the Ukraine, into Canada and then protected them from prosecution. This includes, for example, the 2,000 members of the Ukrainian-based Galicia Division -- denounced as a criminal organization at the Nuremberg Trials -- who came to Canada after the Second World War, even though they were members of the Nazi SS and fought for the Nazis against the Soviet Union and its allies, including Canada. Instead of opposing Nazism, Harper and his ministers openly support it and they have made the Government of Canada an official supporter of it as well. While 115 countries voted in favour of the December 2014 anti-Nazi resolution at the UN, Canada's UN representative voted against it, one of only three countries to do so, the others being the United States and Ukraine.

The Harper government is also funding a private, pro-Nazi, anti-communist monument to be built in downtown Ottawa, next to the Supreme Court building, based on one already built in the U.S. This is in keeping with its systematic perpetuation of Nazi myths.

The Harper government's use of public funds to promote the Holodomor myth is to promote a self-serving agenda in the name of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Harper and his Ministers, in particular Jason Kenney and Foreign Minister John Baird, are making great attempts to rewrite the history of Canada. Their systematic glorification of numerous unjust colonialist and imperialist wars such as the crushing of the Northwest Rebellion, the Boer War, the invasion of Soviet Russia, World War I, the Korean War, and the post-9/11 aggressions has the aim of disorienting Canadians so that they cannot wage an effective resistance in defence of the rights of all under today's conditions.

Even though its real agenda in support of reaction, U.S. wars of aggression and occupation and the crimes of the Israeli Zionists has become well-known to Canadians and the peoples of the world, the Harper government's rewriting of history to serve a reactionary present and future is dangerous nonetheless and deserves to be opposed.

It is well known that the conquerors write the history of the events which took place. What the Harperites believe is what Canada must believe, or so they assert. But the history of the great anti-fascist war, World War II, was written in the blood of the communists and the world's heroic anti-fascist fighters, including Canada's service men and women backed by the entire people. It cannot be rewritten. Now is the time for us all to write the history of the present. Titans are needed. Let Titans come forth in the form of the organized mass resistance to attempts to plunge us back into the darkness of yesteryear.

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70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army

Russia Excluded from Commemoration Ceremonies

Prisoners at the Nazis' Auschwitz concentration camp are liberated by the Red Army,
January 27, 1945.

The attempts to rewrite history are mind-boggling.This week, the great lengths to which Germany went to make sure representatives from Russia would not attend the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz were revealed.

A recent report by germanforeignpolicy.com informs that "EU countries are preventing the Russian president from participating at the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz." The highest representative of the country whose army halted the mass murder in the German extermination camp January 27, 1945, is thereby excluded from the commemoration ceremonies, germanforeignpolicy.com wrote.  However, Germany's President Joachim Gauck participated. This is the same Joachim Gauck who used his speech on the 75th anniversary of Germany's invasion of Poland to stir up sentiment against Moscow and to transform the commemoration of Nazi crimes into an appeal for closing ranks against Russia. In his memoirs, Gauck described Red Army soldiers, who had liberated Germany, as beings "with Asian facial features," "reeking of Vodka," who "requisitioned and stole." This is typical CIA propaganda about the conduct of the Red Army when it liberated Europe. Of course, for  the Red Army to achieve the feats it accomplished, discipline was decisive and it conducted itself very differently to what the slanders claim. The motivation of such slanders is understood from the statements made by Gauck a few years ago when he complained, "The occurrence of the German Judeocide has been inflated to a uniqueness," because "certain milieux of post-religious societies" were seeking to induce "a certain shudder in face of the unspeakable." In 2010, he was quoted saying, he "wonders how much longer we Germans want to nurture our culture of chagrin."

The denial of the role of the Soviet Union in the anti-fascist war is for purposes of equating communism with fascism and thereby depriving the world's people of communist leadership today. It is also to isolate Russia today, in the frenzied attempt by the U.S. to impose its control over Europe and dominate Asia, and of the European Union to do the same. Blaming the Soviets for all the crimes the Hitlerites committed also serves to cover up the crimes committed during the war by British Zionism's projects and Zionist forces, the aim of which is to condone the terrible crimes the Zionist state of Israel is committing against the Palestinians, in the name of creating a safe haven for Jews, despite the fact they themselves only wanted a chosen few. All of it serves to deprive the younger generations of an understanding of the past so as to help them cope with the present in a manner that opens a path for the future.

But what it tells us is that today the reactionary forces suffer from a most morbid preoccupation with defeat. In their desperation they are reaching out to the Hitlerites of yesterday and today to save them. They are despicable indeed.

In a January 16 article, germanforeignpolicy.com writes:

"Just Like Nazi Troops"

The commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the German Auschwitz extermination camp had been the focus of political intrigues already last year. At the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of its liberation, Russian President Vladimir Putin's participation was still taken for granted. After having suffered severe losses, the Soviet Army reached Auschwitz January 27, 1945, putting an end to the ghastly murders Germans were committing. First attempts to exclude Putin from the commemoration of the 70th Anniversary were made in Poland in the summer 2014. A parliamentarian was quoted saying that the Red Army "had been an aggressor" in WW II, "just like Nazi troops," which is why the Russian President should only be allowed to make a "penitential pilgrimage" to Poland.[1] At the time, [Polish President] Bronislaw Komorowski could see nothing wrong with Putin's participation at the Auschwitz commemoration. However, anti-Russian forces have prevailed and the Russian President's invitation was cancelled through diplomatic channels. According to reports, Poland's Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz has also campaigned to prevent Putin from participating at a parallel commemoration ceremony in Prague. This would exclude the president of the country, whose army had lost more than a million soldiers just to liberate the German Reich and the Polish territories under German occupation.

Turned Against Russia

The anti-Russian use of the memory of German crimes against humanity is making headway with Putin's virtual disinvitation. Already on September 1, 2014, German President Joachim Gauck used his memorial address in Gdansk -- commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the German invasion of Poland -- to stir up anti-Russian sentiments. Referring to the Ukraine conflict, Gauck accused Russia of giving a higher priority to "a quest for power," rather than to "maintaining stability and peace." Completely blotting out western support for the Ukrainian putsch and the civil war, while ignoring all the wars waged by the West from Yugoslavia to Iraq on up to Libya, Gauck alleged that Russia had "violated international law" and "annexed foreign territory."[2] Alluding to Great Britain and France's approbation of Germany's occupation of parts of Czechoslovakia in October 1938, targeting Russia, Gauck declared, "history teaches us that territorial concessions often whet the appetite of the aggressors." The commemoration of Nazi crimes was thereby transformed into an appeal to close ranks against Russia, which Germany had invaded.

A "Culture of Chagrin"

On various occasions before becoming president, Gauck, who, unlike Russia's President Putin, will be present at Auschwitz January 27, had made public statements showing how he views Germany's 1945 liberation and the Shoah [Holocaust]. In his memoirs, he wrote on the subject of Germany's liberation, that it arrived as "horrible news." He depicted the Red Army soldiers as beings "with Asian facial features," reeking "of vodka," who "requisitioned and stole" and systematically raped women.[3] In 2006, Gauck remorsefully claimed that there is "a tendency toward sanctifying the Holocaust," wherein "the occurrence of German Judeocide is inflated to a uniqueness that ultimately escapes comprehension and analysis." "Certain milieux of post-religious societies" were persistently searching "for the dimension of the absolute, a certain shudder in face of the unspeakable." This could also be achieved by "the absolute evil" and is "paradoxically of psychological advantage."[4] Gauck has stated several times that "the Germans" would be well advised to change their approach to history. In the fall of 2010, he mused, "I ask myself, how much longer do we Germans want to nurture our culture of chagrin."[5] This was after he had positively responded to the question whether "the majority of the Germans" are mature enough for a "reorientation toward their own victims, the reorientation toward the patriotic." "That's how I see it."[6]

Broad Brush

Until he was inaugurated president, Gauck's historical views were criticized in German public opinion. For example, he has a knack for using the "broad brush," in reference to his remarks on the "Black Book of Communism."[7] Gauck had written that "the communists had also made themselves unpopular, when they ... approved Poland's westward acquisition of territory and thereby Germany's loss of its eastern territories." "To both the natives and the expellees, this loss of the homeland was considered a great injustice, which the communists sealed in 1950, by recognizing the Oder-Neisse as the new German-Polish border,"[8] alleges Gauck. In the conflict over the "Centre against Expulsions," he took the side of the president at the time, Erika Steinbach, who was sharply criticized for her historical revisionist statements, particularly in Poland. Gauck is quoted on the German League of Expellees' (BdV) website saying, Berlin is most certainly the best location for a "Centre against Expulsions." It blends in, because Berlin is where "there are various 'topographies of terror,' the location of the Wannsee Conference and the Stasi Headquarters, the former seat of government of brown and red despots."[9]

Yatsenyuk's "Soviet Invasion"

Gauck's Auschwitz speech and Putin's disinvitation coincide with Berlin's open cooperation with the fascist successors of Nazi collaborators to stage a pro-western coup in Kiev, (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[10]) The Kiev government has adopted their anti-Russian standpoints, which are also increasingly having an influence on the German debate where they dovetail with old anti-Russian sentiments. Arseniy Yatsenyuk recently caused a stir with his interview on German television. He literally alleged, "We all remember well the Soviet invasion of Ukraine and Germany."[11] This statement has remained unchallenged.


1. Streit in Polen über Einladung Putins zu Auschwitz-Gedenken 2015. www.tt.com 09.05.2014.

2. Gedenkfeier zum deutschen Überfall auf Polen 1939. www.bundespraesident.de 01.09.2014.

3. Joachim Gauck: Winter im Sommer, Frühling im Herbst. München 2009. See Hans-Rüdiger Minow: Der Zug der Erinnerung, die Deutsche Bahn und der Kampf gegen das Vergessen.

4. Joachim Gauck: Welche Erinnerungen braucht Europa? www.robert-bosch-stiftung.de. See The Consensus President.

5. "Mutige Politiker ziehe ich vor." www.sueddeutsche.de 30.09.2010.

6. Gauck: Erinnerung an Vertreibung leugnet nicht den Nazi-Terror. www.dradio.de 31.08.2006.

7. Daniela Dahn: Gespalten statt versöhnt. www.sueddeutsche.de 10.06.2010.

8. Stéphane Courtois et al.: Das Schwarzbuch des Kommunismus. Unterdrückung, Verbrechen und Terror. München 1998.

9. www.z-g-v.de.

10. See Vom Stigma befreit

11. www.facebook.com/tagesschau/posts/10152968920374407

(For the original Article see, "Liberation without the Liberators," germanforeignpolicy.com, January 16, 2015. Slightly edited for style by TML.)

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Who Is Going to Auschwitz?

General-Lieutenant (two stars) Vasily Petrenko was in charge of 107th infantry division at the time of the liberation of Auschwitz. He remembers what he saw when Auschwitz was liberated, "There were seven and a half thousand people remaining alive on the day I came to Auschwitz. I saw no normal people. Nazis evacuated everyone who who could walk on January 18, so only disabled inmates were left. I saw children... what a terrible sight! Swollen abdomens, wandering eyes, hands waving uselessly in the air, thin legs, huge heads. Other parts of the body did not look real -- they appeared to be sown on. The children never produced a sound as they were showing individual inmate identification numbers tattooed on their hands."

People of different nationalities perished in great numbers. The death rate was estimated in dozens of millions. But the triumph of German Nazism happened to be short-lived. Those days are remembered as the most terrible events in European history.

Soviet Read Army liberates prisoners at Auschwitz, January 27, 1945.

The death camps covered Central and Eastern Europe like bubonic plague sores. Even according to official data of the German Ministry of the Interior, the fascist regime built 1,634 concentration camps. Besides there were many other structures created to find the final solution to the problem of "second rate" people or "lower races." Located 70 km from Krakow, Auschwitz was the largest (around 40 square km) network of concentration and extermination camps built and operated by Nazi Germany during WWII. It consisted of Auschwitz I (the original camp), Auschwitz II-Birkenau (a combination concentration/extermination camp), Auschwitz III-Monowitz (the largest sub-camp of Auschwitz) and satellite camps. The first prisoners came there in June 1940. There were over 100,000 inmates as of 1944. The camp was the place of mass extermination of peoples, especially of the Jews. There were inmates from Poland, the USSR, Austria, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, France, Greece, the Netherlands, Yugoslavia, Norway, Romania, Italy and Hungary. For a long time the number of victims was believed to be at least 1.1 million. In 2010, Russia's Federal Security Service declassified the data which showed that more than four million inmates were killed by the Nazis.

There were four crematoriums and two provisional gas chambers. Soviet prisoners and weak inmates were the first to undergo the Zyklon B gas trials in the spring of 1942. At first bodies were buried, then eliminated in crematoria and ditches specially dug for the purpose. Inmates underwent medical experiments. The factory of death killed 150,000 inmates a month. Crematoria and fires burning all night eliminated 270,000 bodies monthly.

The Soviet Supreme Command knew about the existence of the death camps. It ordered the 1st and 4th Ukrainian fronts to liberate Auschwitz during the Vistula-Oder offensive operation. The 100th infantry division led by General Fyodor Krasavin took Auschwitz on January 27, 1945 to save the lives of the remaining 7,000 inmates. The reality was shocking. The machine of extermination was perfect and smooth-running. Here is some evidence provided to Smersh counterintelligence by imprisoned fascist perpetrators. Elizabeth Gazelow (superintendent in Ravensbrück, Majdanek and Auschwitz) says, "There were 40-45,000 inmates of different nationalities: Russian, Ukrainians, Poles, Czech, French. It was a camp of extermination. It had a crematorium, gas chambers ... Children were put into the chambers in front of their parents."

Willie Steinborn (SS-Rottenführer, a guard) remembers, "A large group of Poles, Russians and other nationalities was to be exterminated. The inmates offered resistance. SS guards let dogs attack them. They enjoyed the picture as live people separated from each other were torn and mangled by dogs."

Alfred Skchipek (in charge of barrack N8), "There was a punishment called 'steinbunker.' Twenty to thirty people were put into a small cell. With such little space they could only stand there. No windows, there was only a few millimeters-wide crack in the wall. With no air coming in, inmates suffocated. Transported in winter to be exterminated, prisoners were made to work outside without shoes and clothes on until they died of cold. There were 200-300 victims at a time."

Piles of bodies found at Auschwitz when the camp was liberated.

There were thousands of such testimonies that make one shudder. I'm afraid all this evidence is not enough to make a single tear drop from the eyes of those who today are mourning the dead, in Washington, London, Brussels and Warsaw. They say that this is the time to commemorate the victims of gas chambers, but in reality they take the side of the perpetrators, not the victims. In Europe and overseas they speak the right words to remember those who suffered from the Holocaust while turning a blind eye on the SS marches that regularly take place in the Baltic States for already 20 years. They nod their heads upon hearing the delirium about the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe and even Germany and say that the fascist coup in Kiev is nothing but the expression of the people's will. They say that Moscow's support for the compatriots shelled in the Donbass is an aggression. The egregious political intrigue and maneuvering mixed with stone age Russophobia makes the Western elite unable to discern the revival of the global evil which would have ruled the world today, if it had not been for the Soviet Union and its Red Army which demonstrated unparalleled prowess 70 years ago. This is conniving to give this evil the environment to make it thrive today.

Vladimir Putin can put up with the fact that he is not invited to the major event at Auschwitz marking 70 years since inmates of the Nazi death camp were liberated by the Red Army. No great pleasure to meet the sycophants who gather millions to take part in the Paris march to protest the death of journalists-provocateurs and watch indifferently as the Khatyn massacre is repeated in Odessa. They have the chutzpah to say they don't want to see in Auschwitz the head of state who ordered the attack against Ukraine. The sponsors of Ukraine's neo-Nazi regime believe it's not expedient to invite the head of state claiming to be the successor of the Soviet Union -- the country that liberated Auschwitz and half of Europe. But they find it expedient to invite the Chancellor of Germany who supports the Nazi regime in Ukraine to prove that it's too early to affirm that Germans have successfully gone through denazification. They find Nazism unacceptable on their soil but put up with its presence in other countries...

The organizers want to commemorate the victims of Auschwitz standing side by side with the leaders of Ukraine's fascist regime. Could it be any other way? All those kapos (a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp assigned by the SS guards to supervise other inmates) and "block-eltesters" (the eldest man of the block in a concentration camp) -- the Banderites and their successors -- are spiritual mentors of such gentlemen as Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov and leader of the far-right Right Sector Dmytro Yarosh. Just ask them and they will willingly tell you a story about how they defended civilized Europe from the hordes coming from the East. They will also tell you how to operate the furnaces of Auschwitz, use people as guinea pigs for experiments with Zyklon B and torture unarmed inmates. Especially in view that the experience is remembered as Ukraine conducting a so-called anti-terror operation in the east.

The participation in the events of Western leaders who head the states that were the USSR's allies during WWII is a special case for consideration. The words they say about democratic standards on the territory of Auschwitz sound like talk about rope in the house of a man who has been hanged. Especially if one remembers how their predecessors -- Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill -- reacted to the information about what happened in Nazi concentrations camps.

British doctoral student Barbara Rogers has discovered a 20-page document in the Foreign Office archive proving conclusively that Britain and the United States knew about the gas chambers at Auschwitz as early as December 1942. The information was contained in a memorandum passed to the British government and handed to U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt by Jewish leaders at a White House meeting on Dec. 8, 1942.

While it has been known that the Allies knew then about the "Final Solution" -- and even about gas chambers -- this is the first time it was demonstrated that the Allies knew in 1942 about the crematoria at Auschwitz. The document informed Roosevelt that "centers have been established in various parts of Eastern Europe for the scientific and cold-blooded mass murder of Jews. Polish Christian workers, eyewitnesses, have confirmed reports that concrete buildings, on the former Russian frontiers, are used by the Germans as gas chambers in which thousands of Jews have been put to death."

The memorandum also specifically informed Roosevelt: "The slaughter of trainloads of Jewish adults and children in great crematoriums at Ozwiencim [Auschwitz] near Krakow is confirmed by eyewitnesses in reports which recently reached Jerusalem." There is no information the allies ever reacted. The find reignites debates about why the Allies took no action, such as bombing, to disrupt the operation of Auschwitz. The researcher made precise the reasons why London did not contact Berlin on the matter. The British feared a flood of Jewish emigration from Europe to Palestine (Palestine was then part of the British Empire). The other reason is that they were anxious to avoid a popular backlash if they were perceived to be fighting a "Jewish war."

In other words, whole nations were sacrificed in the interests of the British Empire. Even after the Second Front was open and Anglo-American forces moved to the east and their aviation could easily reach Auschwitz nothing was done to at least interrupt transport routes to the camp and thus complicate the continuation of heinous crimes committed by Germans. No wonder the contemporary successors of Roosevelt and Churchill are prone to hypocrisy. Meeting in Washington on January 16, Barack Obama and David Cameron agreed to keep sanctions on Russia until it stops its "aggression" in Ukraine. "We agree on the need to maintain strong sanctions against Russia until it ends its aggression in Ukraine, and on the need to support Ukraine as it implements important economic and democratic reforms," Obama said after talks in Washington with the UK Prime Minister. What a striking similarity: some believe that crematoria and gas chambers serve as instruments of purification while others use napalm and multiple launch rocket systems against civilians in the Donbass as the means of implementing "democratic reforms." Don't be surprised, ladies and gentlemen, if the fires of new crematorium will be smelled again in Europe.

Those forces seeking to isolate Russia actively support neo-Nazi and fascist organizations in Ukraine today. These organizations are committing various crimes, such as the May 2, 2014 massacre in Odessa, when Ukrainian fascists attacked a group of people near the Ukrainian Trade Union building, forcing some inside and setting the building on fire. Dozens were killed and many more injured. (Stop NATO)

(Strategic Culture, January 20, 2015. Slightly edited for style by TML.)

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Freedom of Speech of the Reactionary Ruling Classes

No Chelsea Morning for
Hypocritical World Leaders in Paris

When a former U.S. army private awoke in her jail cell just over a week ago -- some 17 months into a 35-year jail sentence -- she could have been forgiven for thinking, in the immediate aftermath of the terrible Paris magazine attacks, that the commutation of her punitive sentence for exercising freedom of speech and conscience was about to be placed on President Obama's desk. Obama, like many world leaders, had just issued stunning, passionate statements about freedom of the press, human dignity, and all the great things that make countries like Canada and the U.S. just so undeniably terrific.

For the now 26-year-old Chelsea (previously known as Bradley) Manning, though, it was not to be. She had had the audacity to challenge terrorism by exposing it, not in a manner that humiliated or denigrated her targets, but simply to inform the public, generate discussion, bolster democracy and hold accountable those who had committed atrocities. "If you had free reign over classified networks and you saw incredible things, awful things...things that belonged in the public domain, and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington DC...what would you do?" she had asked in an online chat room.

Her answer was simple: copy those documents and videos on a flash drive and share them with the world through Wikileaks. What she revealed threatened no one's national security, but certainly put the lie to the notion that wars of "freedom and liberation" being led by our great democracies were shams built on massive repression, indiscriminate bombing and torture. Most people outside of the "free world" knew this, usually from first-hand experience, but here were cold hard facts, government cables, and the shocking "collateral damage video" in which two Reuters journalists and nine other civilians are ruthlessly gunned down by laughing American soldiers.

But unlike the global reaction to the Charlie Hebdo attacks, Manning's picture (and most of her revelations) rarely appeared front and centre in newspapers around the world in a show of defiance against those brutal authorities that were punishing her for speaking out. Her case was not trumpeted by brave media and mass rallies of global citizens chanting "Je Suis Chelsea"; her revelations were not printed by the millions and funded by government (the French government spent over a million euros to print the post-attack issue of Charlie Hebdo, knowing that the front cover would be flipping the bird to many of its Muslim citizens); the symbol of the flash drive was not held aloft as the real way to defeat terrorism (as pencils were in the Hebdo case); self-righteous publishers and columnists were not saying "if you don't like her revelations, just don't look at them" (most preferred to either ignore them, treat them as isolated instances or make personal attacks against Manning).

Instead, Manning was hustled away for three and a half decades while those whose crimes she exposed (including Bush and Cheney) continued gloating about their decisions, even after the damning U.S. Senate report on torture, one whose revelations were quickly banished to the back pages after the Paris attacks. (Manning herself was subjected to over three years of pre-trial solitary confinement, often refused clothing, in conditions that the UN concluded constituted "cruel and inhumane" treatment.)

French Government Terrorism

Manning's plight is worthy of consideration in the wake of the Paris attacks, since it reminds us of a basic truism: when our side commits the terrorist acts, they aren't seen as terrorist, and are always justified (if they are even deemed worthy of justification) for reasons ranging from support of oppressed women to bringing democracy to foreign lands. But when somebody else does it against us (read the "free world" or the Eurocentric "West"), they are simply cruel, barbaric and evil. Neither can be justified or defended, whether it is the terrorist attack against the Charlie Hebdo offices and kosher Paris grocery or any number of a lengthy series of terrorist acts committed by the French government: the French terrorist bombing of a Greenpeace ship in New Zealand, the French government's criminal open-air testing of nuclear weapons in the South Pacific (knowing such actions were leading to the slow but sure genocidal destruction of the region's residents), or the 1961 Paris police massacre of over 200 demonstrators calling for peace in Algeria, after which over 11,000 demonstrators were detained in, among other locations, the same stadium where two decades earlier, Jews bound for Nazi extermination had been held. Another truism that arises is that such attacks will inspire a barely contained sense of joy in the offices of intelligence agencies like CSIS, the RCMP and their brother agencies across the planet. In addition to blanket coverage that unquestionably parrots their opinions and press releases (and helps to deflect from their blood-stained reputations for complicity in torture), these agencies will see new legislation passed at home and abroad that further legalizes the dangerous practices in which they have long engaged, placing human rights in grave peril through increased surveillance, kidnapping, rendition to torture, drone strikes and other insidious tools of repression. In an Orwellian moment, the attacks on free expression will allow governments to suppress free expression with new laws resulting in more pre-emptive arrests for alleged thought crime.

We already see the results in Paris and throughout France, where tens of thousands of armed men patrol the streets and scores of individuals have been rounded up under suspicious circumstances. As the Globe and Mail's European correspondent Mark MacKinnon reported earlier this week, "dark-skinned" individuals who allegedly say something viewed as "uncomfortable" are brazenly nabbed in Paris cafés by heavily armed police. Journalists who try to cover such kidnappings are told to stop filming and leave the scene, "That is, if you're with us." The us-versus-them dynamic is clearly as evident here as it was post 9/11.

Then there was the swift sword of vengeance from French authorities, who quickly tried and convicted a drunk driver of "glorifying terrorism," for the uncomfortable, indelicate act of telling a police officer, while clearly under the influence of alcohol, that he allegedly agreed with the two brothers who spearheaded the Hebdo attack. He will be in jail for four years. Another individual received a one-year sentence for allegedly proclaiming, "I am proud to be a Muslim. I do not like Charlie. They were right to do that." While certainly problematic and insensitive, do such statements seriously deserve draconian punishment? No one in France, or anywhere else on Planet Earth, was subjected to such punishment for publicly celebrating and glorifying the assassination of Osama bin Laden, a clearly illegal act of terrorism, especially considering he was unarmed and could have been easily arrested, detained, and put on trial to face the allegations against him.

Scores in France have been arrested for "defending" terrorism. They have also been picked up for alleged hate speech and anti-Semitism. One can guess with a certain probability the colour and religion of those who have been nailed. Rarely discussed is the problematic, selective use of free speech celebrations. Given that the definition of anti-Semitism is now so broad that it includes any criticism of Israeli government policies, it is a perfect way to clamp down on any discussion of Palestinian rights, especially at a time when the Palestinians are being punished for seeking a war crimes inquiry at the International Criminal Court. Indeed, Canada has been clear that Palestinians will face "consequences" for even pursuing a rule-of-law solution.

A Racist Magazine

If the French were really concerned about hate speech and images, why are they officially subsidizing Charlie Hebdo? As Teju Cole writes in The New Yorker, asking if it is not possible to condemn the terrorist act without condoning the activities of the victims:

"In recent years the magazine has gone specifically for racist and Islamophobic provocations, and its numerous anti-Islam images have been inventively perverse, featuring hook-nosed Arabs, bullet-ridden Korans, variations on the theme of sodomy, and mockery of the victims of a massacre. It is not always easy to see the difference between a certain witty dissent from religion and a bullying racist agenda, but it is necessary to try. Even Voltaire, a hero to many who extol free speech, got it wrong. His sparkling and courageous anti-clericalism can be a joy to read, but he was also a committed anti-Semite, whose criticisms of Judaism were accompanied by calumnies about the innate character of Jews... Blacks have hardly had it easier in Charlie Hebdo: one of the magazine's cartoons depicts the Minister of Justice Christiane Taubira, who is of Guianese origin, as a monkey (naturally, the defence is that a violently racist image was being used to satirize racism); another portrays Obama with the black-Sambo imagery familiar from Jim Crow-era illustrations."

Meanwhile, as Reporters Without Borders, among others, pointed out, many of the world leaders who rushed to take part in what, in some respects, uncomfortably resembled a Nuremberg-like rally -- beware of mass gatherings organized with the support and participation of governments involved in war crimes -- are responsible for grave violations against freedom of the press in their home countries. To take our closest neighbour, for example, the U.S. under Obama has cracked down with more uses of the Espionage Act to silence and jail whistleblowers and journalists than all presidents of the last century combined. For talking about U.S. involvement in torture and other crimes, folks like James Risen of the New York Times are facing time in prison.

These prosecutions are part of a larger pattern that has physically targeted media which seek to expose U.S. atrocities. It is no secret that the U.S. has targeted Al Jazeera outlets in Iraq and Kabul for bombing, even though the network always informs militaries of its exact coordinates. Six weeks after the network wrote to U.S. military officials in 2003 to inform them of their Baghdad office location, a U.S. missile hit the Al Jazeera office, killing reporter Tareq Ayyoub. Former U.K. Home Secretary David Blunkett wrote in his 2006 memoir that he clearly advised Tony Blair to bomb Al Jazeera's Baghdad TV transmitter in 2003. At the same time, Fox News called on the Bush administration to "take out Al Jazeera," reminding viewers that, "To those who will decry this as censorship, they should be reminded of President Bush's injunction shortly after we were attacked two years ago: In the War on Terror, you are either with us or with the terrorists."

Assassinating Al Jazeera Journalists

The assassination call emanating from Fox News was not simply wishful thinking. It was state policy. That strategy was confirmed in the infamous (though little discussed) Al Jazeera bombing memo, details of which had been published by the U.K.'s Daily Mirror. During the commission of U.S. war crimes in Fallujah in 2004, George W. Bush and U.K. PM Tony Blair apparently discussed the idea of bombing the Al Jazeera offices in Qatar in retaliation for their honest coverage of what had been taking place in Iraq. A memo relating to that discussion had been circulated but was ultimately quashed with the arrests of two U.K. men (one a Labour Party researcher, the other a civil servant), both eventually sentenced to three- and six-month jail terms for violating the Official Secrets Act, this following a completely secret trial. Meanwhile, the British government threatened most of the U.K. press with official sanction under the Official Secrets Act as well.

Reporters without Borders issued a statement at that time, declaring:

"We are also shocked by the British government's decision to ban the British press from publishing any information about the content of this memo, classified 'top secret.' Invoking the 1989 Official Secrets Act and threatening to take newspapers to court is disturbing in a country that is usually careful to respect press freedom."

Similarly, the British attempted to prosecute foreign office official Derek Pasquill for revealing information about the U.K. role in the rendition to torture program, but eventually dropped the case given the prosecutors' conclusion that "documents to be disclosed as part of legal proceedings would have undermined its case that the leaks were damaging" in the first place. The New Statesmen's editor concluded:

"This was a misguided and malicious prosecution, particularly given that a number of government ministers privately acknowledged from the outset that the information provided to us by Derek Pasquill had been in the public interest and was responsible in large part for changing government policy for the good in terms of extraordinary rendition and policy towards radical Islam [sic]."

The U.S. discussion about bombing Al Jazeera is part of that country's long tradition of seeking to squelch a free press by whatever means necessary. Recall that President Richard Nixon, who kept an up-to-date enemies list for neutralization, fretted about what he should do with critical columnist Jack Anderson, whose stories about Nixon's war crimes and illegal acts got under the impeached president's skin. A White House memo reported, "We examined all of the alternatives and very quickly came to the conclusion [that] the only way you're going to be able to stop him is to kill him."

Canada's New Laws

Meantime, the Canadian government continues to provide all-out support for the Egyptian dictatorship, which has crushed any notion of press freedom, including the jailing for over one year of Canadian Al Jazeera correspondent Mohamed Fahmy. The Harper government has similarly supported post-coup regimes in countries like Honduras, where being a journalist can get you killed for questioning state abuses. Harper has also been less than willing to operate in the sunshine of transparency and freedom. In 2013, the Halifax-based Centre for Law and Democracy ranked Canada 55th out of 93 nations, behind Colombia and Mongolia, among others, with respect to government openness and respect for freedom of information.

It is in this fearsome environment where the act of speaking certain words and writing of uncomfortable truths is becoming increasingly risky (though certainly no less necessary). In this context, the Harper government, whose leader declared an "international jihadist movement" has "declared war on any country like ourselves that values freedom, openness and tolerance," is set to introduce even more repressive measures that mock those stated values. These include lowering even further the threshold to make preventive arrests, reducing personal privacy and easing the sharing of personal information with intelligence agencies (exactly the kind of thing that led to the torture of numerous Canadian citizens). Also on tap is having Canada's national police force -- one complicit in torture of Canadians abroad, harassment of and violence against female officers at home, and various other crimes -- lead a campaign against those who are angry about such injustices (i.e., those who have become "radicalized").

Even before such legislation is on the books, growing numbers of young men are being picked up and charged with terrorism-related offences, three last week in Ottawa, for allegedly wanting to join the fighting in Syria. Details remain very sketchy, and it is likely the government will invoke "national security confidentiality" to prevent full disclosure of the case against them. The men have already been declared guilty by much of the media and unwelcome in certain communities as "radicalized" individuals.

In an eerie Kafkaesque moment, individuals under potential new laws against glorifying terrorism will likely face the prospect of secret trials for a very simple reason. If it becomes illegal to "glorify" terrorism (whatever that means, and however broadly that is defined), then receiving pubic disclosure of the case against you will become impossible, for said information will, if made public in court, violate the very law which brought you there in the first place.

The events of the past week also serve as useful arrows in the quivers of governments who need headline-stealing events they can point to as rationales for repression. Canadian officials in speeches and parliamentary presentations lovingly recall the convictions of individuals in the 2006 Brampton case every time they testify in favour of new restrictive laws (recall the one in which two government informers, paid between $400,000 and $1.5 million apiece, essentially entrapped a group of misguided men -- some with some pretty sick opinions -- into a bombing plot, resulting in numerous life sentences). Similarly, the French government, as it seeks Patriot Act-style legislation in the coming weeks, will also now have a fallback. In the words of Humphrey Bogart, they'll always have Paris.

Matthew Behrens is a freelance writer and social justice advocate who co-ordinates the Homes not Bombs non-violent direct action network. He has worked closely with the targets of Canadian and U.S. 'National security' profiling for many years.

(rabble.ca, January 19, 2015. Photos: WiseUp Wales, TML.)

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France Begins Jailing People for Ironic Comments

It may sound like an ironic joke, but it isn't. Less than a week after the massive rallies in defense of "free expression," following the murders of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, French authorities have jailed a youth for irony.

The arrest is part of a harsh crackdown on free speech in the country that has prompted criticism from national and international human rights organizations.

Mock Charlie Hebdo cover circulated after the murder of the magazine's cartoonists.
The text says “Charlie Hebdo is shit.
It doesn't stop bullets.

A 16-year-old high school student was taken into police custody on Thursday [January 15] and indicted for "defending terrorism," national broadcaster France 3 reports.

His alleged crime? He posted on Facebook a cartoon "representing a person holding the magazine Charlie Hebdo, being hit by bullets, and accompanied by an 'ironic' comment," France 3 states.

The report does not include the drawing -- presumably that could put France 3 afoul of the law. So we do not know for sure what the youth is accused of sharing.

But the cartoon at [to the right] fits the description precisely. It was widely shared on social media, and published on 7 January on the website of the controversial French comedian Dieudonné. It is a mock Charlie Hebdo cover by the cartoonist Dedko.

The text says "Charlie Hebdo is shit. It does not stop bullets." It appears quite heartless and cruel, but look at the copy of Charlie Hebdo that the person in the cartoon is holding.

It represents a real Charlie Hebdo cover that was published in July 2013, days after the military coup in Egypt. It caused outrage at the time because of its cruelty and insensitivity.

It shows an Egyptian protestor being shot through a copy of the Quran he is holding. The text says, "The Quran is shit, it doesn't stop bullets."

Assuming that the mock Charlie Hebdo cover is the one shared by the youth on Facebook, this incident sums up the sheer hypocrisy of France's current national mood.

Anything mocking and denigrating Islam and Muslims is venerated as courageous free speech, while anything mocking those who engage in such denigration -- even using precisely the same techniques -- can get you locked up.

Wave of Arrests

"A string of at least 69 arrests in France this week on the vague charge of 'defending terrorism' ('l'apologie du terrorisme') risks violating freedom of expression," Amnesty International said in an understated press release on Friday.

"All the arrests appear to be on the basis of statements made in the aftermath of the deadly attacks against the magazine Charlie Hebdo, a kosher supermarket and security forces in Paris on 7 and 9 January," the human rights group added.

"Some of the recently reported cases in France may cross the high threshold of expression that can legitimately be prosecuted," Amnesty said. "Others, however offensive the statements made, do not."

As previously reported, the most high profile arrest was of Dieudonné himself -- also apparently for an ironic comment.

Many of the arrests are simply absurd, and it is impossible to imagine what purpose they could serve other than to allow the French government to look tough amid an increasingly right-wing and xenophobic political atmosphere, and to satisfy a desire in some sections of the public and media for scapegoats.

They include:

- A 14-year-old girl charged with "defending terrorism." She allegedly shouted at a tram conductor: "We are the Kouachi sisters, we're going to grab our Kalashnikovs." Cherif and Said Kouachi are two French brothers authorities say carried out the Charlie Hebdo attack.

- A 21-year-old was caught without a ticket on a tram, and subsequently sentenced to ten months in prison for allegedly saying, "The Kouachi brothers is just the beginning; I should have been with them to kill more people," according to Amnesty International.

- In the northern city of Lille, authorities suspended three school workers for allegedly refusing to observe a moment of silence in honor of the victims of the attacks, and then justifying their action. One is being charged with "defending terrorism." The accused denies that he refused to respect the minute of silence, but said he did "debate it with colleagues outside work hours."

- In Paris, one man who was drunk and another who suffers psychiatric problems were jailed for fourteen and three months respectively for "defending terrorism" for comments they made. A third was jailed for fifteen months and the court ordered that their sentences begin immediately.

- In Bordeaux, police carried out a traffic stop. A very drunk 18-year-old passenger in the car allegedly hurled abuse at the police and made comments sympathetic to the Charlie Hebdo attackers. She was charged with "defending terrorism" and sentenced to 210 hours of community service. Prosecutors had asked for a four-month jail term.

In almost every case where a name is provided, those arrested would appear to be of North African ancestry -- suggesting that France's crackdown is quite targeted.

If it is not calculated to further alienate the country's large, young population of French citizens whose parents or grandparents came from the former colonies, there's a good chance it will do that anyway.

The cases also suggest a pattern where minor encounters with police -- with drunks and youths -- quickly escalate into "terrorism"-related accusations. The fact that young people of color have long complained that they are targeted by police means that they are going to be disproportionately more vulnerable.

Double Standard

Amnesty says the crackdown followed a circular sent to prosecutors on 12 January by justice minister Christiane Taubira instructing them that "words or wrongdoing, hatred or contempt, uttered or committed against someone because of their religion must be fought and pursued with great vigor."

Although they might exist, I have yet to see cases of people being charged or jailed for anti-Muslim or other kinds of racist or bigoted comments under the "defending terrorism" law.

After the attacks, prominent journalist Philippe Tesson took to the airwaves of Europe 1, one of France's biggest radio stations, and declared that Muslims were responsible for threatening the country's vaunted secularism.

"It's the Muslims who bring the shit to France these days," he said.

While a private citizen has reportedly brought a legal complaint against Tesson for "inciting racial hatred," the authorities have not charged him with a crime.

Cécile Duflot, a Green Party legislator, noticed the discrepancy and urged that "the reaction to the foul Islamophobic words of Philippe Tesson should be much stronger."

(Author's Update: Le Parisien reports today, Monday [January 19], that Paris prosecutors have opened an inquiry into Tesson on suspicion of "inciting hatred").

"Islamophobic" Murder

Monitoring groups have collected reports of at least 83 Islamophobic threats and attacks in France since the Charlie Hebdo attack.

There were at least 21 incidents of shots or grenades being fired at buildings.

Police are investigating if the murder of Mohammed El Makouli, a Moroccan man in the eastern town of Beaucet, was motivated by anti-Muslim hatred.

El-Makouli was stabbed seventeen times by a neighbor who invaded his home, allegedly shouting anti-Muslim slogans. El-Makouli's wife was injured and his young son escaped the attack.

Draconian Law

It may seem surprising that French authorities can charge and jail people so quickly. These summary trials and long custodial terms are the result of a change in the law last November in which the charge of "defending terrorism" became a criminal offense subject to fast-track trials.

Last week France's Human Rights League said that when the change in the law was being debated, it had "demonstrated that it would be ineffective for security, dangerous for liberties and damaging to the credibility of the justice system."

The organization said that the slew of summary convictions of "drunks and fools" vindicated its warnings.

Many of these people are now likely to end up on the state's planned "antiterrorist register."

Prosecution for Song and Book

Prosecutions for expression do not take place only under the "defending terrorism" law. This week the rapper Saïdou of the band Z.E.P., and the sociologist Saïd Bouamama will be indicted in Lille for "public insult" and "incitement to discrimination, hate, or violence."

The prosecution was brought by a right-wing nationalist group, as MR Zine reports, because of Saïd's book Fuck France and a Z.E.P. song with the same title.

The song's refrain states: "Fuck France and its colonialist past, its paternalist smells, stenches, and reflexes. Fuck France and its imperialist history, its capitalist walls, fortresses and delusions."

Z.E.P., ironically, stands for "Zone d'expression populaire" -- Popular Expression Zone. But irony is now a crime in France.

It is a matter of time before these laws are used with renewed vigor against a whole range of speech that might upset the French state, especially those who advocate for Palestinian rights and for the boycott of Israel.

"Obsessive Pounding on Muslims"

With all I've read since the Paris attacks, a few items stand out as particularly thoughtful and informative.

A 2013 piece by Olivier Cyran, a former journalist at Charlie Hebdo, traces the magazine's descent into an obsessive bigotry against Muslims in the years since the 11 September 2001 attacks.

The piece, in the form of an open letter to the magazine's editor Stéphane Charbonnier, is an important rejoinder to the pervasive claims that Charlie Hebdo irreverently targeted everyone and that Muslims are just too sensitive.

Charbonnier is one of the cartoonists who was murdered.

"The obsessive pounding on Muslims to which your weekly has devoted itself for more than a decade has had very real effects," Cyran wrote to Charbonnier.

"It has powerfully contributed to popularizing, among 'left-wing' opinion, the idea that Islam is a major 'problem' in French society. That belittling Muslims is no longer the sole privilege of the extreme right, but a 'right to offend' which is sanctified by secularism, the Republic, by 'co-existence.'"

Myths of French Secularism

"Commentators in France and elsewhere have taken the recent terrorist attacks in Paris as an occasion to reflect more broadly about Muslims in France," observes Mayanthi Fernando, a professor of anthropology at University of California, Santa Cruz.

"Many read the attacks as a sign of French Muslims' refusal to integrate. They've asked whether Muslims can be fully secular and expressed doubt as to whether one can be both Muslim and French," Fernando says in an article for The Conversation.

She warns, "we should be wary of myths about French secularism (laïcité) and French citizenship being spun in the aftermath of the attacks."

Fernando notes that despite its ostensible laïcité, the French state has always privileged some religious groups. But when Muslims ask for the same accommodations others receive, "they are reminded that France is a secular country where proper citizenship requires separating religion from public life."

All of this happens, Fernando notes, in a country where research demonstrates "nonwhite immigrants and their descendants as a group suffer systematic discrimination on the basis of their race, culture and religion."

Although Muslims are 7.5 percent of the general population in France, they are 60 percent of the prison population.

"Islam in Liberalism"

The broader debates about "Islam" and "democracy" or "Islam" and "secularism" are tackled in Joseph Massad's new must-read book Islam in Liberalism.

Massad argues that "American and European missionaries of liberalism" are engaged in a campaign to remake Islam and Muslims in their image, that is to say in the image of "liberal Protestant Christianity."

"Muslim resistance to this benevolent mission is represented as rejection of modernity and liberal values of freedom, liberty, equality, the right-bearing individual, democratic citizenship, women's rights, sexual rights, freedom of belief, secularism [and] rationality," Massad writes.

"If Muslims refuse to convert willingly," Massad observes, "they must be forced to convert using military power, as their resistance threatens a core value of liberalism, namely its universality and the necessity of its universalization as globalization."

"It's hard to imagine a more necessary and timely book," says Jonathon Sturgeon, literary editor at Flavorwire.

I could not agree more.

Ali Abunimah is co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

(Electronic Intifada, January 19, 2015)

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Latest FBI Claim of Disrupted Terror Plot
Deserves Much Scrutiny and Skepticism

The Justice Department on Wednesday [January 14] issued a press release trumpeting its latest success in disrupting a domestic terrorism plot, announcing that "the Joint Terrorism Task Force has arrested a Cincinnati-area man for a plot to attack the U.S. Capitol and kill government officials." The alleged would-be terrorist is 20-year-old Christopher Cornell (above), who is unemployed, lives at home, spends most of his time playing video games in his bedroom, still addresses his mother as "Mommy" and regards his cat as his best friend; he was described as "a typical student" and "quiet but not overly reserved" by the principal of the local high school he graduated in 2012.

The affidavit filed by an FBI investigative agent alleges Cornell had "posted comments and information supportive of [ISIS] through Twitter accounts." The FBI learned about Cornell from an unnamed informant who, as the FBI put it, "began cooperating with the FBI in order to obtain favorable treatment with respect to his criminal exposure on an unrelated case." Acting under the FBI's direction, the informant arranged two in-person meetings with Cornell where they allegedly discussed an attack on the Capitol, and the FBI says it arrested Cornell to prevent him from carrying out the attack.

Family members say Cornell converted to Islam just six months ago and claimed he began attending a small local mosque. Yet The Cincinnati Enquirer could not find a single person at that mosque who had ever seen him before, and noted that a young, white, recent convert would have been quite conspicuous at a mosque largely populated by "immigrants from West Africa," many of whom "speak little or no English."

The DOJ's press release predictably generated an avalanche of scary media headlines hailing the FBI. CNN: "FBI says plot to attack U.S. Capitol was ready to go." MSNBC: "US terror plot foiled by FBI arrest of Ohio man." Wall St. Journal: "Ohio Man Charged With Plotting ISIS-Inspired Attack on U.S. Capitol."

Just as predictably, political officials instantly exploited the news to justify their powers of domestic surveillance. House Speaker John Boehner claimed yesterday that "the National Security Agency's snooping powers helped stop a plot to attack the Capitol and that his colleagues need to keep that in mind as they debate whether to renew the law that allows the government to collect bulk information from its citizens." He warned: "We live in a dangerous country, and we get reminded every week of the dangers that are out there."

The known facts from this latest case seem to fit well within a now-familiar FBI pattern whereby the agency does not disrupt planned domestic terror attacks but rather creates them, then publicly praises itself for stopping its own plots.

First, they target a Muslim: not due to any evidence of intent or capability to engage in terrorism, but rather for the "radical" political views he expresses. In most cases, the Muslim targeted by the FBI is a very young (late teens, early 20s), adrift, unemployed loner who has shown no signs of mastering basic life functions, let alone carrying out a serious terror attack, and has no known involvement with actual terrorist groups.

They then find another Muslim who is highly motivated to help disrupt a "terror plot": either because they're being paid substantial sums of money by the FBI or because (as appears to be the case here) they are charged with some unrelated crime and are desperate to please the FBI in exchange for leniency (or both). The FBI then gives the informant a detailed attack plan, and sometimes even the money and other instruments to carry it out, and the informant then shares all of that with the target. Typically, the informant also induces, lures, cajoles, and persuades the target to agree to carry out the FBI-designed plot. In some instances where the target refuses to go along, they have their informant offer huge cash inducements to the impoverished target.

Once they finally get the target to agree, the FBI swoops in at the last minute, arrests the target, issues a press release praising themselves for disrupting a dangerous attack (which it conceived of, funded, and recruited the operatives for), and the DOJ and federal judges send their target to prison for years or even decades (where they are kept in special GITMO-like units). Subservient U.S. courts uphold the charges by applying such a broad and permissive interpretation of "entrapment" that it could almost never be successfully invoked. As AP noted last night, "defense arguments have repeatedly failed with judges, and the stings have led to many convictions."

Consider the truly remarkable (yet not aberrational) 2011 prosecution of James Cromitie, an impoverished African-American Muslim convert who had expressed anti-Semitic views but, at the age of 45, had never evinced any inclination to participate in a violent attack. For eight months, the FBI used an informant -- one who was on the hook for another crime and whom the FBI was paying -- to try to persuade Cromitie to agree to join a terror plot which the FBI had concocted. And for eight months, he adamantly refused. Only when they dangled a payment of $250,000 in front of him right as he lost his job did he finally assent, causing the FBI to arrest him. The DOJ trumpeted the case as a major terrorism arrest, obtained a prosecution and sent him to prison for 25 years.

The federal judge presiding over his case, Colleen McMahon, repeatedly lambasted the government for wholly manufacturing the plot. When sentencing him to decades in prison, she said Cromitie "was incapable of committing an act of terrorism on his own," and that it was the FBI which "created acts of terrorism out of his fantasies of bravado and bigotry, and then made those fantasies come true." She added: "only the government could have made a terrorist out of Mr. Cromitie, whose buffoonery is positively Shakespearean in scope."

In her written ruling upholding the conviction, Judge McMahon noted that Cromitie "had successfully resisted going too far for eight months," and agreed only after "the Government dangled what had to be almost irresistible temptation in front of an impoverished man from what I have come (after literally dozens of cases) to view as the saddest and most dysfunctional community in the Southern District of New York." It was the FBI's own informant, she wrote, who "was the prime mover and instigator of all the criminal activity that occurred." She then wrote (emphasis added):

As it turns out, the Government did absolutely everything that the defense predicted in its previous motion to dismiss the indictment. The Government indisputably "manufactured" the crimes of which defendants stand convicted. The Government invented all of the details of the scheme - many of them, such as the trip to Connecticut and the inclusion of Stewart AFB as a target, for specific legal purposes of which the defendants could not possibly have been aware (the former gave rise to federal jurisdiction and the latter mandated a twenty-five year minimum sentence). The Government selected the targets. The Government designed and built the phony ordnance that the defendants planted (or planned to plant) at Government-selected targets. The Government provided every item used in the plot: cameras, cell phones, cars, maps and even a gun. The Government did all the driving (as none of the defendants had a car or a driver's license). The Government funded the entire project. And the Government, through its agent, offered the defendants large sums of money, contingent on their participation in the heinous scheme.

Additionally, before deciding that the defendants (particularly Cromitie, who was in their sights for nine months) presented any real danger, the Government appears to have done minimal due diligence, relying instead on reports from its Confidential Informant, who passed on information about Cromitie information that could easily have been verified (or not verified, since much of it was untrue), but that no one thought it necessary to check before offering a jihadist opportunity to a man who had no contact with any extremist groups and no history of anything other than drug crimes.

On another occasion, Judge McMahon wrote: "There is not the slightest doubt in my mind that James Cromitie could never have dreamed up the scenario in which he actually became involved. And if by some chance he had, he would not have had the slightest idea how to make it happen." She added that while "Cromitie, who was desperately poor, accepted meals and rent money from [the informant], he repeatedly backed away from his violent statements when it came time to act on them," and that "only when the offers became outrageously high--and when Cromitie was particularly vulnerable to them, because he had lost his job--did he finally succumb."

This is pre-emptory prosecution: targeting citizens not for their criminal behavior but for their political views. It's an attempt by the U.S. Government to anticipate who will become a criminal at some point in the future based on their expressed political opinions -- not unlike the dystopian premise of Minority Report -- and then exploiting the FBI's vast financial, organizational, and even psychological resources, along with the individuals' vulnerabilities, to make it happen.

In 2005, federal appellate judge A. Wallace Tashima -- the first Japanese-American appointed to the federal bench, who was imprisoned in a U.S. internment camp -- vehemently dissented from one of the worst such prosecutions and condemned these FBI cases as "the unsettling and untoward consequences of the government's use of anticipatory prosecution as a weapon in the 'war on terrorism.'"

There are countless similar cases where the FBI triumphantly disrupts its own plots, causing people to be imprisoned as terrorists who would not and could not have acted on their own. Trevor Aaronson has comprehensively covered what amounts to the FBI's own domestic terror network, and has reported that "nearly half [of all DOJ terrorism] prosecutions involved the use of informants, many of them incentivized by money (operatives can be paid as much as $100,000 per assignment) or the need to work off criminal or immigration violation." He documents "49 [terrorism] defendants [who] participated in plots led by an agent provocateur -- an FBI operative instigating terrorist action." In 2012, Petra Bartosiewicz in The Nation reviewed the post-9/11 body of terrorism cases and concluded:

Nearly every major post-9/11 terrorism-related prosecution has involved a sting operation, at the center of which is a government informant. In these cases, the informants -- who work for money or are seeking leniency on criminal charges of their own -- have crossed the line from merely observing potential criminal behavior to encouraging and assisting people to participate in plots that are largely scripted by the FBI itself. Under the FBI's guiding hand, the informants provide the weapons, suggest the targets and even initiate the inflammatory political rhetoric that later elevates the charges to the level of terrorism.

The U.S. Government has been aggressively pressuring its allies to adopt the same "sting" tactics against their own Muslim citizens (and like most War on Terror abuses, this practice is now fully seeping into non-terrorism domestic law: in a drug smuggling prosecution last year, a federal judge condemned the Drug Enforcement Agency for luring someone into smuggling cocaine, saying that "the government's investigation deployed techniques that generated a wholly new crime for the sake of pressing criminal charges against" the defendant).

Many of the key facts in this latest case are still unknown, but there are ample reasons to treat this case with substantial skepticism. Though he had brushes with the law as a minor arguably indicative of anger issues, the 20-year-old Cornell had no history of engaging in politically-motivated violence (he disrupted a local 9/11 memorial ceremony last year by yelling a 9/11 Truth slogan, but was not arrested). There is no evidence he had any contact with any overseas or domestic terrorist operatives (the informant vaguely claims that Cornell claims he "had been in contact with persons overseas" but ultimately told the informant that "he did not think he would receive specific authorization to conduct a terrorist attack in the United States").

Cornell's father accused the FBI of responsibility for the plot, saying of his son: "He's a mommy's boy. His best friend is his cat Mikey. He still calls his mother 'Mommy.'" His father said that "he might be 20, but he was more like a 16-year-old kid who never left the house." He added that his son had only $1,200 in his bank account, and that the money to purchase guns could only have come from the FBI. It was the FBI, he said, who were "taking him somewhere, and they were filling his head with a lot of this garbage."

The mosque with which Cornell was supposedly associated is itself tiny, a non-profit that reported a meager $115,000 in revenue last year. It has no history of producing terrorism suspects or violent radicals.

Whatever else is true, a huge dose of scrutiny and skepticism should be applied to the FBI's claims. Media organizations certainly should not be trumpeting this as some dangerous terror plot from which the FBI heroically saved us all, nor telling their viewers that the FBI "uncovered" a plot that it actually created, nor trying to depict it (as MSNBC's Steve Kornacki did in the pictured segment) as part of some larger plot of international terror groups, at least not without further evidence (and, just by the way, Mr. Kornacki: Anwar Awlaki was not "the leader of Al Qaeda in Yemen," no matter how much repeating that false claim might help President Obama, who ordered that U.S. citizen killed with no due process). Nor should politicians like John Boehner be permitted without challenge to claim that this scary plot shows how crucial is the Patriot Act and the NSA domestic spying program in keeping us safe.

Having crazed loners get guns and seek to shoot people is, of course, a threat. But so is allowing the FBI to manufacture terror plots: in the process keeping fear levels about terrorism completely inflated, along with its own surveillance powers and budget. Ohio is a major recipient of homeland security spending: it "has four fusion centers, more than any other state except California, New York and Texas. Ohio also ranks fourth in the nation (tying New York) with four FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs)."

Something has to be done to justify all that terrorism spending. For all those law enforcement agents with little to do, why not sit around and manufacture plots to justify those expenditures, giving a boost to their pro-surveillance ideology to boot? Media outlets have a responsibility to investigate the FBI's claims, not mindlessly repeat them while parading their alarmed faces and scary graphics.

(The Intercept, January 16, 2015)

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U.S. Black Ops to Frame Iran for
Possession of Nuclear Weapons

On January 13, the trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling began in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia. Sterling is charged under the Espionage Act with mishandling national defence information, i.e., revealing details of a CIA operation -- Operation Merlin -- to journalist James Risen. In order to make its case, the government had subpoenaed Risen to force him to reveal his confidential sources, despite its claims to support freedom of the press.

Operation Merlin took place in the context of U.S. aims to isolate Iran as part of its designs for regime change. The U.S. had long made spurious accusations that Iran had a secret nuclear weapons program. Under Operation Merlin, which began in 1996 and was approved by then-President Clinton, the CIA would actually provide Iran with plans for a key component that would permit Iran to build a nuclear weapon.

Anti-war activist David Swanson attended the opening proceedings of the Sterling trial and reported:

"The CIA drew up plans for a key part of a nuclear bomb (what a CIA officer on Wednesday [January 14] described in his testimony as 'the crown jewels' of a nuclear weapons program), inserted flaws in the plans, and then had a Russian give those flawed plans to Iran.

"During the trial on Wednesday morning, the prosecution's witnesses made clear both that aiding Iran in developing a part of a bomb would be illegal under U.S. export control laws, and that they were aware at the time that there was the possibility of what they were doing constituting just such aid.

"[... T]he stated reason for [...] Operation Merlin, was to slow down Iran's nuclear weapons program by causing Iranian scientists to spend time and resources on a doomed plan that would never work.

"[...] The U.S. government lacked evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program and not long after came out with an assessment that such a program did not exist and had not existed for some time. Nonetheless, years of effort and millions of dollars went into trying to slow the program down by a period of months. The CIA created a design, drawing, and parts list for a Russian nuclear fire set (the nuclear bomb component). They intentionally made it incomplete because supposedly no actual Russian scientist would credibly have complete knowledge of it. [...]

"According to one cable read aloud in court, the CIA would have liked to give Iran the actual device already constructed for them, but didn't because it wouldn't have been credible for their Russian to have it."

On this basis, "flawed" nuclear plans were given to Iran in February 2000, in the belief that these mistakes in the plans would slow the Iranians in building a working fire set.

Operation Merlin reveals the U.S. imperialists' detachment from reality. At the very least, despite Iran not having a nuclear weapons program, Iran's acceptance of the plans would provide "proof" of such a program and thereby vindicate the U.S. claim that Iran was building nuclear weapons. Swanson remarks that, "another explanation of both Operation Merlin and of the defensiveness of the prosecution and its witnesses [was that this] was an effort to plant nuke plans on Iran [...]" He points out how similar planting of evidence in 2004 was also used to try to frame Iran and justify U.S. aggression.

U.S. Ruling Circles' Attack on Freedom of the Press

On January 12, the U.S. government informed that author James Risen would not be called to testify in the trial against former CIA officer Sterling. A New York Times report states:

"Mr. Risen, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, was the highest-profile journalist drawn into the Obama administration's attempt to crack down on government officials who talk to reporters about national security. The Justice Department has brought more charges in leak cases than were brought in all previous administrations combined. [...]

"The Justice Department first subpoenaed Mr. Risen to testify in the case in 2008, during the Bush administration. [U.S. Attorney General Eric] Holder authorized the subpoena again in 2011. In addition to subpoenaing Mr. Risen, the Justice Department secretly seized phone records from The Associated Press, labeled one Fox News reporter a criminal co-conspirator and sought grand jury testimony from another.

The Times reports that the government's efforts "provoked a backlash among journalism groups and civil rights advocates, and as Mr. Risen's case dragged on, Mr. Holder, who has announced plans to leave office, signaled a change in policy. He rewrote the Justice Departments rules for subpoenaing journalists and said he would not try to put reporters in jail for doing their jobs.

"That edict set up a peculiar court hearing [in the week before the Sterling trial]. Mr. Risen took the witness stand and said he would not reveal his sources or offer any details about where he got the information. Prosecutors, under orders from Mr. Holder, did not demand answers, since that could have exposed Mr. Risen to a charge of contempt and a jail sentence."

Therefore, Risen will not be testifying at the Sterling trial. The Times notes that prosecutors in the Sterling trial have said their case is not winnable without testimony from Risen.

Risen's lawyer Joel Kurtzberg said that while Mr. Risen ultimately may not have to testify, the Justice Department used the case to create court precedent that could be used to force journalists to testify in the future.

"I worry about future administrations," he said. "Now there's bad precedent, and not every executive branch in the future will exercise their discretion the way this one did. It didn't have to go this way."

(With files from Information Clearing House, New York Times)

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High Level Meeting for Normalization of U.S.-Cuba Relations

U.S. Delegation Arrives in Cuba for Historic Talks

On January 21 and 22, Cuba and the United States held their 28th round of talks on migratory issues. Following the historic December 17 announcement by U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro that the U.S. would re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba, this round of talks took on great significance. It was the first high-level meeting on the normalization of relations following this announcement.

The U.S. delegation was led by the State Department Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson, the highest level official to visit Cuba since the 1970s.

Cuba's delegation was headed by Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Minrex) General Director for the United States.

Prior to the meeting, a representative of Minrex assured the press that the country is approaching these talks in a constructive spirit, aspiring to a respectful dialogue between equals, based on national sovereignty and reciprocity, which does not compromise the country's independence or the Cuban people's right to self-determination.

"We must not pretend that everything can be resolved in a single meeting," the diplomat said, as the first steps are being taken toward restoring diplomatic relations severed more than 50 years ago. He continued, "Normalization of relations is a much longer, complex process, during which issues of interest to both parties must be addressed."

He added that the measures announced by President Obama are positive, but much remains to be done with respect to the economic, commercial and financial blockade, imposed unilaterally by the U.S. on Cuba. The diplomat explained that, after the announcements made by Presidents Barack Obama and Raúl Castro on December 17, the two parties agreed to change the agenda of a meeting already scheduled to discuss migratory issues.

Over the course of two days, three meetings were scheduled to discuss the following issues: 1) migration, 2) the initiation of the process to re-establish diplomatic relations, and 3) other areas of mutual interest and cooperation.

Roberta Jackson (left) led the U.S. delegation to the talks and Josefina Vidal Ferreiro
led the Cuban delegation.

Discussion of Migratory Issues

The talks on migratory issues on January 21 marked the 28th round of discussion. The heads of both delegations described the tenor of the dialogue as respectful and constructive, reporting progress on specific topics.

Vidal Ferreiro indicated that several aspects of migratory relations were evaluated, including adherence to agreements in effect since 1994-95, and the issuance of visas for emigrants and visitors. Also addressed were the results of actions taken by both parties to combat illegal emigration, trafficking in persons and document fraud, according to Vidal.

Deputy Assistant Secretary for South America and Cuba within the U.S. State Department's Western Hemisphere Bureau Alex Lee told the press that during the talks, both Cuba and the United States expressed their commitment to pursue safe, legal and orderly emigration.

The U.S. diplomat added that the talks have been productive and that a spirit of collaboration has prevailed despite the differences between the countries, and that opportunities exist to continue working together on issues of mutual concern.

Also discussed on the first day was the situation of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, DC which has been without banking services for almost a year as a result of the U.S. blockade, severely affecting the services it should be providing to those who renew their passports or ask for visas, said a Minrex press release.

Discussion on Re-Establishment of Diplomatic Relations

The second day of talks focused on restoring diplomatic relations, the opening of embassies, and other issues of bilateral interest.

A Minrex official said the opening of embassies in both capitals should be based on the principles of the United Nations Charter and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic and Consular Relations.

In this meeting, Cuba reiterated the proposal it made last year to the U.S. government to hold a respectful dialogue on the basis of reciprocity in regard to the exercise of human rights, a Minrex spokesman reported.

Visit of Democratic Party Senators

On January 19, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, received a delegation of Senators from the Democratic Party: Patrick Leahy (Vermont), Richard Durbin (Illinois), Sheldon Whitehouse (Rhode Island) and Debbie Stabenow (Michigan), and Representatives Christopher van Hollen (Maryland) and Peter Welch (Vermont). This is the first visit by U.S. legislators to Cuba since the historic December 17 announcement that the U.S. would re-establish relations with Cuba.

Minrex Director General for the U.S. Vidal Ferreiro and Chief of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, DC José Ramón Cabañas participated in this meeting, where topics of mutual interest were discussed.

New York State Trade Mission

In related news, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will head a trade mission to Cuba in the coming months. "As part of the Global NY initiative, Gov. Cuomo is planning to lead a trade mission to Cuba. This is one of several trips of this kind he is planning to undertake during his new term to promote New York," said the governor's communications director Melissa Derosa on January 18.

With the trip, the New York governor will become one of the first high-level U.S. politicians to visit Cuba since the groundbreaking December 17 announcement.

Cuomo was re-elected last November and is slated to head a series of five trade missions during his second term. He decided that Cuba would be his first destination, a move coinciding with the U.S. administration's easing of restrictions on travel by Americans to the Caribbean country, the Wall Street Journal said.

(With files from Radio Havana Cuba, EFE, Granma International, Prensa Latina. Photos: CubaDebate)


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Obama Calls on Congress to End "Embargo" of Cuba

On January 20, during his State of the Union Address to the joint sessions of the U.S. Congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives, U.S. President Barack Obama called on the Congress to end the blockade of Cuba, which the U.S. calls an embargo so as to deny its all-sided extra-territorial nature. Obama reiterated the failure of U.S. policy towards Cuba, the important changes he announced and the  work to re-establish diplomatic relations.

"In Cuba, we are ending a policy that was long past its expiration date. When what you're doing doesn't work for fifty years, its time to try something new. Our shift in Cuba policy has the potential to end a legacy of mistrust in our hemisphere; removes a phony excuse for restrictions in Cuba; stands up for democratic values; and extends the hand of friendship to the Cuban people. And this year, Congress should begin the work of ending the embargo. As His Holiness, Pope Francis, has said, diplomacy is the work of small steps. These small steps have added up to new hope for the future in Cuba."

ABC News remarks that this "call to action comes after the president has taken all of the steps that the executive branch can to normalize relations with the Communist nation but only Congress can lift the longstanding [blockade]."

Differences within the U.S. ruling circles over Cuba policy were self-evident during the State of the Union. The American contractor Alan Gross sat next to First Lady Michelle Obama as a guest of the White House. Gross, convicted of being involved in setting up a clandestine telecommunications network to subvert the Cuban state, was released by Cuba on humanitarian grounds in December, part of the events that triggered the reopening of formal relations. Meanwhile, the notorious anti-Cuban Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen invited two so-called Cuban dissidents. Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican whose district includes Miami, is closely linked with anti-Cuba organizations in the area. Republican and House Speaker John Boehner invited a woman whose father was a member of Brothers to the Rescue -- considered a terrorist organization by both Cuba and the FBI -- whose plane was shot down for violating and refusing to leave Cuban airspace. These moves are indicative of the Republicans' unwillingness to abandon the failed policy against Cuba, which includes the use of state terrorism, intensifying the blockade and other measures that have not succeeded in overwhelming the Cuban people, their leadership and their Revolution.

Open Letter to President Obama

The day prior to the State of the Union, 78 former politicians, businessmen and members of the Cuban-American community on January 20 sent an open letter to  President Obama. The letter, signed by three former assistant secretaries of state for Western Hemisphere relations, former top officials from across the political spectrum and important Cuban-American businessmen, asks Obama to "work with Congress to update the legislative framework with regard to Cuba so that it... reflects 21st century realities."

The text hails the step taken by Obama on December 17 when he announced the pending normalization of diplomatic relations with Cuba. Signatories highlighted the failure of the U.S. blockade policy against Cuba. Many of the people who signed this letter were among those who sent Obama an open letter last year, saying he had an opportunity to take executive action to change aspects of U.S.-Cuba policy. This open letter, published on the eve of Obama's State of the Union address, was also supported by well-known businessmen, including the Fanjul brothers, who are Cuban-Americans, and Venezuelan magnate Gustavo Cisneros, who was born in Cuba.

Through their letter, those who signed also reminded Obama of the opportunity offered by the upcoming Summit of the Americas, which will be held in Panama in April and to which, for the first time, Cuba has been invited.

Majority of Americans Support Normalizing Relations with Cuba

Polls conducted by ABC and CNN this month show that more than 60 per cent of people in the U.S. favour re-establishing ties with Cuba. That percentage is even higher in Miami-Dade County, which has a large population of Cuban Americans. According to a Florida International University poll, taken between February and May 2014, 68 per cent of Cuban Americans in Miami-Dade County said they favoured re-establishing diplomatic relations. Almost the same number support the lifting of the travel ban. Fifty-two percent want to scrap the blockade. The survey also found that the youngest Cuban Americans tend to be the strongest advocates for change.

U.S. Agricultural Coalition for Cuba Established

In related news, some 30 agricultural organizations and companies have joined together as the U.S. Agricultural Coalition for Cuba (USACC) to promote an end to the U.S. blockade of Cuba, which they describe as a self-imposed obstacle to increased trade.

In a statement to the press on January 8, Bob Stallman, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation said, "Improving trade relations between the U.S. and Cuba will expand access to a market of 11 million consumers for U.S. agriculture." He explained, "Right now, U.S. farmers can export to Cuba, but third-party banking requirements and limited credit financing make it harder to compete in the market than it should be. We look forward to a prompt lifting of those restrictions." U.S. farmers, in fact, stopped selling rice to Cuba in 2008, as a result of these obstacles.

Stallman commented that many other countries have expanded relations and trade freely with Cuba, while U.S. farmers are at a disadvantage. He insisted that farmers and agricultural companies should have the opportunity to do so, as well.

January 8, 2015 press conference of U.S. Agricultural Coalition for Cuba.

The American Farm Bureau Federation includes 28 of the country's principal agricultural organizations representing producers of sorghum, soy, corn, milk and meat, among other food crops, including industry giants such as Cargill and Smithfield Foods.

Paul Johnson, President of Chicago Foods International LLC and vice president of the USACC commented that it will take some time for Congress to move on normalizing relations with Cuba, but that the blockade must be ended.

During the event, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack emphasized opportunities for trade with Cuba. Cuba imports a significant amount of food and represents a $1.7-billion market, he said.

Representing U.S. agri-business, especially in the Midwest, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon criticized the complicated bureaucratic process involved in trade with Cuba, describing restrictions as a self-imposed obstacle.

Nixon commented that Brazil's exports to Cuba have quadrupled over the last decade, while Spain, Argentina and Canada are rapidly expanding their share of a market which has been closed to U.S. farmers and agri-business.

(With files White House, from ABC News, U.S. News, Granma International. Photo: AFBF)

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Obama Doesn't Need Congressional Permission
to End Blockade

Reception and art exhibition in Montreal, January 1, 2015, one of many celebrations worldwide to mark the freedom of the Cuban Five and the 56th Anniversary of the Cuban Revolution.

When U.S. President Obama announced on December 17 that he would direct his administration to start normalizing relations with Cuba, there was one big obstacle: the blockade on Cuba would still remain in place. As Obama stated, the blockade has been codified in legislation. He announced his intention to engage with Congress about lifting the blockade. But with both chambers of Congress now in the hands of the Republican party, it doesn't appear likely. But the reality is that Obama doesn't need Congressional permission. As he did when he announced he would defer deportation for certain undocumented residents, Obama can and should act on his own, said Matt Poppe in an article published January 19 by Counterpunch newsletter.

Congress would seemingly have to repeal the Helms-Burton Act to undo the blockade, otherwise the President's hands would be tied. Except in reality the regulations the President is ordered to enforce are not valid, and should not be legally binding on him. This is because there is no legal merit for the regulations against Cuba, which are written based on the application of enemy status to Cuba.

But Cuba does not meet the definition of an enemy. According to the Trading with the Enemy Act (TWEA), an "enemy" is defined as "any individual" or "the government of any nation with which the United States is at war." The act specifies that the "beginning of the war" is "midnight ending the day on which Congress has declared or shall declare war or the existence of a state of war."

Congress has never declared war on Cuba. In fact, they haven't declared war at all since they did so on Japan and Germany in 1941 -- not on Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Grenada, Nicaragua, Panama, Afghanistan, Iraq, or any other country. So there is no legal authority for applying the TWEA to Cuba.

The entire set of Cuban Asset Control regulations in the Treasury code are illegitimate. If Cuba is not an enemy, you cannot use a law that only applies to enemies as the basis for a set of rules promulgated under that law.

The President can use his executive power to repeal regulations that have no legal force behind them. If Congress wants the President to continue enforcing the blockade, they would have to amend the TWEA to modify the definition of an enemy, or pass a new law that gives the President the power to enforce a blockade against a country when the United States is not at war with that country.

Repeal of the Treasury regulations would open up travel for American citizens to Cuba and allow most trade between the two countries. There are various other provisions of the blockade that would remain. However, many of these provisions are in direct violation of international law and are also illegitimate.

If Obama were to invalidate the Treasury Regulations to do away with the blockade, he would still presumably have the authority under the Foreign Assistance Act to enforce a blockade against Cuba. But it would be just an option, not an obligation. If Obama wants to stop the blockade, he doesn't need Congress's permission. He can just direct his administration to remove the regulations that have been illegally applied by the U.S. government against its citizens and against Cuba for the last 51 years.

Obama has showed he is willing to use his executive authority on other issues, most recently on immigration in November. What he may not be willing to do is expose the fraudulent underpinnings of one of the most widely detested policies in the history of international relations.

Toronto celebration for the freedom of all the Cuban Five, featuring a video message from Fernandeo Gonzalez, freed in February 2014, and remarks from the Cuban Consul in Toronto Javier Domokos Ruíz, Janaury 10, 2015.

(Janaury 12, 2014)

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New U.S. Regulations on Trade and Travel to Cuba

On January 15, some restrictions on trade with Cuba, and travel to the country by U.S. citizens in certain categories were announced. A preliminary reading of the regulations issued by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control indicates that although the travel ban has not been eliminated -- which would require Congressional action -- some restrictions on travel by U.S. citizens and permanent residents in 12 previously established categories have been eased. Among changes are the removal of limits on travelers' expenses in Cuba; permission to use credit and debit cards; and authorization for travel agencies, airlines and insurance companies to organize services for travel to Cuba. Nevertheless, tourism and maritime travel remain prohibited.

Among other changes is an increase in limits on remissions sent to Cuba by family members resident in the United States, from $500 to $2,000 every three months.

Regarding trade, restrictions on U.S. exports to Cuba remain in place, including those on advanced technology products, although limited sales to private parties, via Cuban import-export companies, of construction materials and agricultural equipment will be allowed. Prohibitions on the export of Cuban products to U.S. markets remain in place, although visitors will be able to return with purchases of up to $400 dollars, including $100 worth of cigars and rum.

The U.S. changes also address telecommunications services. Notably, this is the only sector in which U.S. investment in infrastructure is authorized, along with sales of services, software and equipment -- excluding products with advanced technology. This reflects the stated U.S. aim of using such means to interfere in Cuban society.

Additionally, U.S. financial institutions may open accounts at Cuban banks for transactions related to authorized activities, but the change is not reciprocal. Cuban banks cannot open accounts in the United States.

The new regulations do not modify existing restrictions on maritime travel, although ships from other countries transporting food, medicine, medical equipment or emergency materials to Cuba will no longer be prevented from traveling directly to the United States after leaving Cuban ports. Other ships will continue to be required to wait 180 days before entering a U.S. port, due to the 1992 Torricelli Act.

Key aspects of the blockade that are not affected by the modifications include prohibitions on the use of U.S. dollars in international transactions; the acquisition in other markets of technological products and equipment containing more than 10 per cent U.S.-made components; commercial relations with subsidiaries of U.S. companies in other countries; and imports to the United States of products containing raw materials from Cuba.

"The announced measures constitute a step in the right direction, but much remains to be done to dismantle other aspects of the economic, commercial and financial blockade via Presidential executive authority, and action on the part of Congress to end the blockade once and for all," writes Granma International.

(Granma International)

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Coming Events

Vancouver & Kamloops
6th International Che Guevera Conference
Cuba: A Socialist Project in Progress
Friday, January 23 - Monday, January 26

With Special Guests:

Dr. Aleida Guevara
World-renowned lecturer on Cuba, pediatrician, author and daughter
of legendary revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara.

José Luis Rodríguez
Author of “Notes on Cuban Economy,” researcher and Professor at the University of Havana. Former Cuban Minister of Economy and Planning and former
Vice-President of the Cuban Council of Ministers.

Celebration of the Freedom of Our 5 Cuban Heroes
Cuban Musician GERARDO ALFONSO Live in Concert!

Friday, January 23 -- 8:00 pm

Ukrainian Cultural Centre, 805 East Pender St., Vancouver

Workshops in Vancouver
Saturday, January 24 - Sunday, January 25 -- 10:00 am - 8:00 pm

Ukrainian Cultural Centre, 805 East Pender St.

Workshops in Kamloops
Monday, January 26

Thompson Rivers University, 900 McGill Rd.

For information: www.chegueveraconference.ca

(click on poster to download)

José Martí Dinner and Dance
Saturday, January 31 -- 7:00 pm

 AUUC Hall, 1604 Bloor Street West.
Celebrating the January 28, 1853 date of birth of José Martí,
Cuba's national hero and father of independence.
For further information and ticket prices: Ardis 416-534-5340, Sharon 905-951-8499


Africa Called, Cuba Answered:
Ebola, the Cuban Revolution & African Liberation
-- Public Lecture by
Cuba Specialist Dr. Isaac Saney
Thursday, February 12 -- 7:00 pm
Room 1016, Kenneth Rowe Building,
Dalhousie University, 6100 University Avenue
Organized by: JRJ Chair of Black Canadian Studies, Dalhousie University

Cuba's Henry Reeves medical brigade arrives in Sierra Leone, October 3, 2014,
to help fight the Ebola epidemic. (WHO)

In 2014, the small island nation of Cuba responded without hesitation  to the Ebola epidemic in the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia & Sierra Leone. The Cuban medical mission is by far the largest sent by any country. Standing side-by-side with the peoples of West Africa, 461 Cuban doctors and nurses -- chosen from more than 15,000 volunteers -- have gone to West Africa and joined the struggle against Ebola. Havana's contribution is to be contrasted with that of Washington, which dispatched thousands of soldiers, instead of more desperately needed healthcare personnel and resources.

At the September 16, 2014 meeting of the United Nations Security Council, Cuban representative Abelardo Moreno declared: “Humanity has a debt to the African people. We cannot let them down.”

Professor Saney will explore the history and impressive dimensions of the Cuban Revolution's solidarity with Africa. Professor Saney is the co-chair and National Spokesperson for the Canadian Network on Cuba. He is the author of the widely acclaimed book,  Cuba: A Revolution in Motion (Zed, 2004)

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Justice for Haiti! Imperialist Exploiters and Their Collaborators Out!

Mass Actions Express People's Opposition to Corruption and Rule by Decree

Haitians protest against the illegitimate Martelly regime and its rule by decree,
Port-au-Prince, January 16, 2015.

On January 13, the Haitian parliament was dissolved after President Michel Martelly failed to negotiate a new electoral law and win support for a U.S.-sanctioned plan to postpone elections again. Elections have been postponed repeatedly for more than three years. Martelly came to power with the backing of the U.S. imperialists following the 2010 earthquake. The current situation only compounds the Martelly regime's illegitimacy as he rules by decree at the behest of U.S. interests. On January 16, Martelly appointed Evans Paul as prime minister and said he would use "executive authority" to form a "consensus government," surely a contradiction in terms. This so-called government was appointed by Martelly on January 18.

Thomas Péralte, writing for Haiti Liberté on January 21, gives an update on the political crisis in Haiti:

"Since coming to power on May 14, 2011, President Michel Martelly has managed to avoid holding elections in Haiti. This has brought on a political crisis that is upending Haiti's democratic institutions and people's daily lives. It has resulted in a rising cost of living, devaluation of the Haitian gourde, Parliament's dissolution, and crazily arbitrary judicial actions and maneuvers.

"Now finally the crisis has led to the formation of a de facto government, led by a new and thoroughly illegal prime minister, perennial opportunist politician Evans Paul, known as Konpè Plim or K-Plim.

"Down with Martelly"

"Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, who resigned in the face of popular protests on Dec. 13, is suspected by many of having embezzled or stolen millions of dollars while in power. However, there has been no accounting done of his regime's management. The people demand accountability, and if necessary, the arrest of Lamothe.

"Martelly's unilateral choice of Paul to be PM is an affront. Although the former playwright had credentials as an anti-Duvalierist artist and activist and was the manager of Jean-Bertrand Aristide's successful 1990 presidential campaign, he became a bitter Aristide opponent in later years and helped lead the Feb. 29, 2004 coup d'état against his former political ally.

"On Jan. 1, 2014 in Gonaïves, Paul outraged his former comrades by joining former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier and neo-Duvalierist former general and dictator Prosper Avril in celebrating the 210th anniversary of Haiti's independence with President Martelly. [...]

"In the lead-up to the current crisis, some political actors had called for a political agreement and a consensus government of public salvation. This might have resulted from good-faith negotiations with the opposition political parties and other state institutions. However, Martelly's intransigence and arrogance torpedoed any such negotiations. He unilaterally chose Evans Paul as prime minister and then installed him on Jan. 16 without Parliament's approval, as required by the Constitution. So K-Plim has become another de facto prime minister, just like Gérard Latortue, who Washington installed in power in Haiti following the 2004 coup against Aristide.

"'I did not campaign for the candidate Martelly, and I did not vote for him either,' Paul said at his installation. 'He campaigned with a political program. Today, I have become his prime minister, so I have to respect his program. I'm not the prime minister of a political party. My government has two specific objectives: to create the conditions for holding elections and to ensure the continuity of the state.'

"Do you hear that? To those who are calling for a consensus government, Evans Paul is telling you that is not his agenda. He intends to 'ensure the continuity' of Laurent Lamothe's regime, which was characterized by political corruption, the looting of state resources, lies, and subservience to the U.S. and its allies.

"Faced with this reality, the Dessalines Children Platform (PPD), the Lavalas Family party (FL), Patriotic Movement of the Dessalinien Opposition (MOPOD) continued their mobilization in the capital Port-au-Prince and other cities on Jan. 16, 17, and 20, calling for Martelly's resignation and the formation of a provisional government. Organizations like the Dessalines Coordination (KOD) also stress the need to demand the immediate departure of the 7,500 United Nations troops (MINUSTAH) presently occupying Haiti.

Port-au-Prince, January 20, 2015

"'Down with Martelly! Down Evans Paul! Down with de facto power! Down with occupation!' the demonstrators chant. 'Long live free elections without foreign interference! We do not want decrees, Martelly must go!'

"The protesters also condemned the U.S., France, Canada, MINUSTAH, the Organization of American States (OAS), and the European Union for supporting Martelly in his establishment of a de facto regime. Demonstrators denounced the unjustifiable presence at the Haitian Parliament on the night of Jan. 11, 2015 of U.S. Ambassador Pamela White, Canadian Ambassador Paula Valdwell St-Onge, MINUSTAH chief Sandra Honore, and OAS representative Frédéric Bolduc. They pressured Haitian lawmakers to extend their mandate in defiance of the Constitution."

Port-au-Prince, January 22, 2015

(Photos: Haiti News Network)

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Anniversary of Earthquake Reveals Depravity of Imperialist "Humanitarian Aid"

Haitians commemorate the fifth anniversary of the earthquake at the
Port-au-Prince Cathedral, January 12, 2015.

On January 12, the people of Haiti and Haitians in the diaspora held actions to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the earthquake that devastated Haiti. Five years on and the recovery and the people's striving for control over the nation has been blocked by U.S. imperialism and its stooges in Haiti.

Across the country, community groups and political organizations held activities to remember the dead and continue the work to seek justice for all those who are still suffering from the aftermath of the earthquake. An official state memorial was held in Port-au-Prince with an early-morning church service and a gathering of dignitaries at a mass grave. This was attended by Haitian President Michel Martelly. The fact that this U.S.-installed head of state oversaw the official ceremony is surely a bitter pill for Haitians to swallow, as it is precisely the interference of the U.S. imperialists, along with that of Canada and France, which has ensured that Haiti cannot recover from the quake and that its people continue to be disempowered. This is precisely why on this sombre anniversary, Haitians' main preoccupation was how to rid themselves of the Martelly government and its U.S. masters, and the MINUSTAH occupation forces. Just the day before the anniversary of the quake, mass protests once again took place calling for President Martelly to step down.

Thousands march in Port-au-Prince on January 11, 2015, calling for the
resignation of President Martelly.

The January 2010 earthquake registered 7 on the Richter scale. Affected areas included metropolitan Port-au-Prince and Leogane. Some 300,000 people were killed and hundreds of thousands were left disabled. This is the second largest loss of life from an earthquake in recorded history.[1] Haiti has only 10 million people, making the loss of life that much more severe. About 1.3 million people were left homeless and five years later some are still living in makeshift shacks while approximately 80,000 people continue to live in tents.

On the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the earthquake, great disinformation is being spread about the recovery from the disaster like the following report from the Miami Herald  which states, "The United Nations says Haiti has received more than 80 percent of about $12.45 billion pledged by more than 50 countries and multilateral agencies since the disaster, a combination of humanitarian assistance, recovery aid and disaster relief." This totally covers up that billions of dollars of the money ostensibly raised for Haiti has never reached the country. In a January 9 interview with Bloomberg News, Raymond Joseph, the former Haitian ambassador to the U.S., stated, "We don't know where the money has gone" and that it has "mysteriously disappeared." This is very disingenuous, given that it is well-documented that for imperialist parasites, the earthquake in Haiti merely served as a convenient opportunity to once again exploit the Haitian people. Chief amongst the criminals are former U.S. President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Secretary of State in 2010.

Haitian-born poet, playwright and journalist Dady Chery, in a December 15, 2014 item recounts the role of the Clintons in exploiting Haiti in its hour of need:

"Clinton saw in the earthquake of 2010 his opportunity to become the new U.S. High Commissioner of Haiti [...] Within four months of the earthquake, he formed the Interim Commission for the Reconstruction of Haiti (CIRH): a strictly pay-to-play group of officials/rich businessmen from the MINUSTAH countries and others who agreed to contribute armed personnel from their countries or money [...] in return for a piece of the action in Haiti. After some arm twisting and bribery, the Haitian parliament was forced to declare a state of emergency for 18 months during which Clinton and his CIRH gang could do as they pleased with regard to reconstruction, without risk of liability. One year and a half came and went, and when the Haitian Senate observed that nothing much had been accomplished, the state of emergency was not renewed, and the CIRH was alleged to be fraudulent."

Haitians in New York commemorate the anniversary of the quake with a protest outside the offices of the Clinton Foundation in New York City, January 12, 2015.

Ezili Danto of the Haitian Lawyers' Leadership Network, in a July 2, 2013, item points out the role of NGOs linked to the U.S. imperialists:

"The NGOs carry out U.S. imperial policies in Haiti in exchange for charity funding which means, they money launder U.S. tax payer and donor dollars and put it in their pockets. U.S. imperial policies are about destroying Haiti's manufacturing and local economy, expropriating Haiti's natural resources and making a larger Haitian market for their subsidized Wall Street monopolies."

Other activists point out that U.S. government agencies have used the pretext of providing aid to Haiti to open up its markets and undermine the country's food security and agricultural sector.

Meanwhile, a recent editorial by the Toronto Star is indicative of the patronizing attitude of the ruling circles in Canada toward Haiti and its people, despite Canada's responsibility for destabilizing the country:

"[D]onors such as Canada, which has been 'reviewing' its aid commitment for the past year, will be hard-pressed to justify continuing to bankroll reconstruction. While Haitians have been promised $6 billion more over the next five years, that cash is contingent on political stability, tolerably good, transparent governance and a minimum of corruption.

"These conditions met, Canada should continue to be generous and should put more aid directly into Haitian hands. At present only about 10 per cent of aid is channelled through the Martelly government and local groups, because of concerns about incompetence, corruption and waste."

The Canadian state's acknowledgement of this important anniversary was a press conference by the Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, Christian Paradis, joined by Quebec City Mayor Régis Lebeaume, in which they announced "Canada's support for the Sustainable Strengthening of Haitian Firefighters Response Capabilities project, which will be implemented by the city of Quebec. [...] This project will reduce the vulnerability of Port-au-Prince residents to fire through the rebuilding of the municipal fire station and by offering training to its staff." A press release on this occasion also listed the various humanitarian aid Canada has offered to Haiti, precisely the kind of aid meant to disempower the people. It is all to cover up Canada's nefarious role in the 2004 coup in Haiti and the ongoing destabilization and exploitation of the country since then.

TML Weekly condemns those who have used and continue to use the suffering of the Haitian people for self-serving purposes and private enrichment, and also condemns the ongoing role of the U.S. imperialists and the Canadian state to undermine the Haitian people's sovereignty. TML Weekly sends its deepest condolences to Haiti and all its sons and daughters around the world on the anniversary of the earthquake and calls on Canadians to continue the fight for justice and independence for Haiti.


1. The largest death toll from an earthquake was Shaanxi, China on January 23, 1556 in which 830,000 people died. The third largest was in Tangshan, China on July 27, 1976 in which 242,769 people were killed. The Sumatra, Indonesia earthquake and tsunami took about 228,000 lives.

(Photos: Le Nouvelliste, D. Tercier, S. Carrie, TML.)

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