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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
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Ronald Reagan’s Torture

Ronald Reagan’s Torture

February 10, 2015

From the Archive: George W. Bush’s torture policies may have been extraordinary in the direct participation of U.S. personnel but they were far from unique, with Ronald Reagan having followed a similar path in his anti-leftist wars in Central America, as Robert Parry reported in 2009.

By Robert Parry (Originally published on Sept. 8, 2009)

The 2004 CIA Inspector General’s report, released in August 2009, referenced as “background” to the Bush-era abuses the spy agency’s “intermittent involvement in the interrogation of individuals whose interests are opposed to those of the United States.” The report noted “a resurgence in interest” in teaching those techniques in the early 1980s “to foster foreign liaison relationships.”

The report said, “because of political sensitivities,” the CIA’s top brass in the 1980s “forbade Agency officers from using the word ‘interrogation” and substituted the phrase “human resources exploitation” (HRE) in training programs for allied intelligence agencies.

The euphemism aside, the reality of these interrogation techniques remained brutal, with the CIA Inspector General conducting a 1984 investigation of alleged “misconduct on the part of two Agency officers who were involved in interrogations and the death of one individual,” the report said (although the details were redacted in the version released to the public).

In 1984, the CIA also was hit with a scandal over what became known as an “assassination manual” prepared by agency personnel for the Nicaraguan Contras, a rebel group sponsored by the Reagan administration with the goal of ousting Nicaragua’s leftist Sandinista government.


Florida Sheriff Tells Drivers to Run over Street Protesters

Florida Sheriff Tells Drivers to Run over Street Protesters

by Herb Dyer / February 5th, 2015

As reported by Counter Currentnews.com the Sheriff of Florida’s Palm Beach County is being called on the carpet for making incendiary remarks at a community meeting last month in Boynton Beach. It seems Bradshaw urged the attendees that they should use their vehicles as weapons against protesters – “violent thugs” in his parlance — who may be blocking their path.

Bradshaw’s statement was made in response to an elderly woman who voiced concerns about street protesters. He offered this as a “solution”:

Your safety is far more valuable than those violent thugs illegally blocking the roadways. If you see the protesters, and you can’t back up, stopping will make you an easy target for violence, robbery or murder. If you are driving on a Florida roadway, it is up to them to move. So, sit as low as possible in your car and accelerate forward. If you run over protesters, remember that your safety comes first and they shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

As to the legality and possible legal (criminal) liability of such a maneuver, Bradshaw sought to put the woman’s mind at rest:

“Whatever you do,”, he continued. “I can’t emphasize enough how important it is not to stop, and if they are injured, they brought it upon themselves.”


Why U.S. Reporters Are Always Pro-War

Why U.S. Reporters Are Always Pro-War

Posted on February 8, 2015 by WashingtonsBlog

5 Reasons that Both Mainstream Media – and Gatekeeper “Alternative” Websites – Are Pro-War

There are five reasons that the mainstream media and the largest alternative media websites are always pro-war.

1. Self-Censorship by Journalists

Initially, there is tremendous self-censorship by journalists.

A survey by the Pew Research Center and the Columbia Journalism Review in 2000 found:

Self-censorship is commonplace in the news media today …. About one-quarter of the local and national journalists say they have purposely avoided newsworthy stories, while nearly as many acknowledge they have softened the tone of stories to benefit the interests of their news organizations. Fully four-in-ten (41%) admit they have engaged in either or both of these practices.

Similarly, a 2003 survey reveals that 35% of reporters and news executives themselves admitted that journalists avoid newsworthy stories if “the story would be embarrassing or damaging to the financial interests of a news organization’s owners or parent company.”

Several months after 9/11, Dan Rather told the BBC that American reporters were practicing “a form of self-censorship”:

There was a time in South Africa that people would put flaming tires around peoples’ necks if they dissented. And in some ways the fear is that you will be necklaced here, you will have a flaming tire of lack of patriotism put around your neck. Now it is that fear that keeps journalists from asking the toughest of the tough questions…. And again, I am humbled to say, I do not except myself from this criticism.

What we are talking about here – whether one wants to recognise it or not, or call it by its proper name or not – is a form of self-censorship.


Did Bill O’Reilly Cover Up a War Crime in El Salvador?

Did Bill O’Reilly Cover Up a War Crime in El Salvador?
Greg Grandin on February 9, 2015 - 2:34 PM ET

Before Bill O’Reilly was, well, Bill O’Reilly, he worked for a time as a foreign correspondent for CBS Nightly News, anchored by Dan Rather. O’Reilly talks about that period of his career in two of his books, and in both mentions that in early 1982 he reported from northeastern El Salvador, just after the infamous El Mozote Massacre. “When the CBS News bureau chief asked for volunteers to check out an alleged massacre in the dangerous Morazán Territory, a mountainous region bordering Nicaragua, I willingly went.”

El Mozote is a small, hard-to-reach hamlet. The massacre took place on December 11, 1981, carried out by US-trained Atlacatl Battalion, which was not just trained but created by the United States as a rapid response unit to fight El Salvador’s fast-spreading FMLN insurgency. El Mozote was a liberation-theology village, supportive of the guerrillas. The killing was savage beyond belief: between 733 and 900 villagers were slaughtered, decapitated, impaled and burned alive.

The story of the massacre was broken on the front page of The New York Times by the journalist Raymond Bonner and in The Washington Post by Alma Guillermoprieto; both stories were published on January 27, 1982, and accompanied by photographs taken by Susan Meiselas. Bonner and Meiselas got to El Mozote, after hearing about the massacre, by walking for days in from Honduras. Guillermoprieto wrote about seeing “countless bits of bones—skulls, rib cages, femurs, a spinal column” poking “out of the rubble.” Bonner noted the “charred skulls and bones of dozens of bodies buried under burned-out roofs, beams, and shattered tiles.” Later, Mark Danner reported on the massacre in detail, first in a lengthy New Yorker essay and then in a book.

Aside from the brutality of the killing, El Mozote is distinguished by the fact that Washington moved quickly to cover it up. It was, in a way, the first massacre of the “second Cold War,” the Reagan administration’s drive to retake the third world; what My Lai was to the 1960s, El Mozote was to the 1980s (later, in 1989, Atlacatl would commit another infamous crime: the execution of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter)

In addition to describing the massacre, Danner documents the cover-up in detail: the US embassy in El Salvador immediately disputed Bonner’s and Guillermoprieto’s reporting, as did New Right organizations like Accuracy in Media. Thomas Enders, Reagan’s assistant secretary of state for inter-American Affairs, and Elliott Abrams, assistant secretary of state for human rights, denied the killing. Abrams said “it appears to be an incident that is at least being significantly misused, at the very best, by the guerrillas.” The Wall Street Journal called Bonner “overly credulous” and “out on a limb” and placed the word massacre in “scare quotes.” The Times sided with the critics, and Bonner eventually left the paper, after first being transferred to the business section.


7 Fascist Regimes Enthusiastically Supported by America

7 Fascist Regimes Enthusiastically Supported by America

The U.S. treated Cuba as an enemy while backing deeply oppressive Latin American regimes.

By Alex Henderson / AlterNet
February 4, 2015

President Barack Obama inspired a great deal of debate when, in December, he asserted that it was time for the United States to begin to normalize relations with Cuba and start loosening the embargo that has been in effect since the early 1960s. And many hard-right Republicans and neocons, from Texas’ Ted Cruz and Florida’s Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate to House Speaker John Boehner, have been vehemently critical of Obama’s stand. Boehner has insisted that “relations with the Castro regime should not be revisited, let alone normalized, until the Cuban people enjoy freedom,” and Cruz has maintained that because Fidel and Raul Castro are “brutal dictators,” the embargo must remain. But given the United States’ long history of supporting one fascist dictatorship after another in Latin America, the embargo of Cuba has been the height of hypocrisy on the U.S.’ part. While it’s true that Amnesty International has often been critical of the Castro regime over the years, many of the other Latin American dictatorships that Amnesty International has criticized have been U.S. allies—and Cuba has hardly had the market cornered on human rights abuses in Latin America.

Below are seven of the worst fascist regimes in Latin America that the U.S. enthusiastically supported.

1. Chile: Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s Military Junta, 1973-1990

In 1970, socialist Salvador Allende was democratically elected president of Chile as the leader of the Unidad Popular (a coalition of leftist parties). Allende had been in office for three years when far-right forces in the Chilean military staged an armed insurrection with the help and encouragement of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Richard Nixon Administration (Allende, who evidently committed suicide by shooting himself, was found dead in the presidential palace in Santiago on September 11, 1973). A U.S.-backed military dictatorship under Gen. Augusto Pinochet (a fascist greatly influenced by Spain’s Gen. Francisco Franco and Italy’s Benito “Il Duce” Mussolini) came to power, and thousands of Allende supporters were killed and tortured during Pinochet’s reign of terror. Not until 1990, after 17 years of fascist rule, was democracy restored in Chile.

2. Guatemala’s Military Dictatorships

For decades, the U.S. supported harsh military dictatorships in Guatemala, and its reasons for doing so can be summed up in three words: United Fruit Company. The UFC, a huge American corporation, made considerable profits from fruit plantations in various Latin American countries, including Guatemala—and when Guatemalan President Jacobo Árbenz (who won by a landslide in Guatemala’s 1951 election) pushed a program of agrarian reform, the UFC lost some of the uncultivated land it had in that country. Árbenz was popular among indigenous Mayans but very unpopular with the UFC, which lobbied the U.S. government to remove him from power. The UFC got its way: in a coup orchestrated by the U.S. State Department and the CIA, Árbenz’ democratically elected government was overthrown in 1954 and replaced by the repressive military dictatorship of Col. Carlos Castillo Armas. And the U.S.-backed military regimes that followed Armas’ assassination in 1957 proved to be even worse. Tens of thousands of Guatemalans were slaughtered by fascist military forces and far-right death squads in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

The CIA/State Department-orchestrated overthrow of Árbenz in 1954 might have been great for UFC profits, but it led to considerable bloodshed in Guatemala.

3. Nicaragua: The Somoza Dynasty, 1930s-1979

The fascist regimes of Mussolini in Italy and Franco in Spain became the blueprint for a long list of fascist dictators in Latin America, from Juan María Bordaberry in Uruguay to Tuburcio Andino in Honduras to Fulgencio Batista (another U.S. ally) in Cuba. And the Mussolini/Franco model of governing was also a major influence on the Somoza dynasty, which ruled Nicaragua with an iron fist for decades and did so with the blessing of the U.S. government. Torture was the norm under the Somozas.

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, revolutionary Augusto Sandino led a rebellion against U.S. military occupation of Nicaragua; Sandino’s assassination by Nicaraguan National Guard forces under Gen. Anastasio Somoza, Sr. in 1934 was followed by the long-lastingrule of the Somoza family—which, in 1979, was overthrown by the Sandino-influenced Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) or Sandinista National Liberation Front . The Somozas were close allies of the U.S., and although so-called “free elections” were held in Nicaragua during the Somoza years, the reality is that the Somozas operated a U.S.-backed military dictatorship with little in the way of checks and balances.


Post-neoliberalism: lessons from South America

Post-neoliberalism: lessons from South America
Javier Lewkowicz 9 February 2015

After a period of rapid liberalisation South America undertook a programme of renationalisations, while still bearing the marks of the neoliberal phase - what might be termed 'post-neoliberalism'.

For much of South America, the last decade can be defined as “post-neoliberal.” This means two things: the neoliberal period left its imprint—much of it structural in nature—and, at the same time, many of its core principles were cast aside. Despite some inevitable historical continuity, there has been noteworthy divergence, as evidenced by changes not just in the content of public policy but also in its formulation. These began in the wake of the Washington Consensus, which produced economic prescriptions eagerly promoted by international lending agencies, and were maintained through a series of neo-developmental programs that, in recent years, were not the product of a set plan but rather undertaken on the fly, generating their own attendant popular demands.

Neoliberalism left indelible marks: disintegrating societies, deteriorating industrial frameworks, neglected public sectors, and political systems in crisis. It also impeded the State’s ability to manage development by enabling legislation that benefitted corporate interests, undermining fiscal, monetary and commercial mechanisms as well as regulatory capacities, eliminating entities able to intervene in markets, and privatising public companies.

The privatisation wave swept through the region between 1990 and 1995. In that brief period, according to figures from ECLAC, direct foreign investment in Latin America and the Caribbean surged from $126bn to $278bn USD (an increase of 120 percent). An estimated 1,500 public companies were either sold to the private sector, closed, or declared bankrupt.[1] This affected utility companies as well as other key sectors such as industry, transportation, logistics, and communications. Privatisation was part of a regional plan to seek political alignment with the United States, the motivation for which was a reaction to the debt crisis of the '80s and a concomitant impulse to integrate the countries of the region into the Brady Plan and, by extension, into international credit markets.

During the era of developmentalism that characterized the '50s and '60s, public companies played a pivotal role in the exploitation of non-renewable resources, utilities, and manufacturing. They were at the heart of state power, which is why a privatisation backlash would come to define the subsequent neoliberal period - along with licensing contracts that favoured big business and the coopting of public companies by an executive with close ties to multinationals. It was a way of declawing the state.


The US Covert War on Venezuela in 2015 – Diary: Jan 29

The US Covert War on Venezuela in 2015 – Diary: Jan 29
By Arturo Rosales and Les Blough in Venezuela
Axis of Logic
Thursday, Jan 29, 2015

Plenty of coffee in the coffee houses and bakeries in Caracas. In the supermarkets or grocery stores? Very rare in the last few months. This is hardly surprising when, in the last week, the authorities uncovered more than 1,000 tons of ground coffee and roasted coffee beans waiting to be spirited away to Colombia. In Falcón state 15 tons of coffee was found; in Lara state a supplier and packaging company had 500 tons standing idle in his warehouse; in neighboring Portuguesa state a further 460 tons were discovered hidden in a warehouse and being sold as “gourmet coffee” which is almost 6 times the official price for standard ground coffee when there is, is fact, very little difference.

At the other end of country in Anzoategui state, the National Guard found 91 tons of food, personal hygiene and cleaning products. In this haul the authorities found 50,600 kilos of corn flour; 23,180 kilos of wheat flour; 9,100 kilos of rice; 3,510 kilos of pasta; 4,700 liters of vegetable cooking oil and 830 cans of fish. We could not detect if arrests were made.

Interestingly enough cooking oil has suddenly become easy to find in Caracas - BUT, as this game continues, now white rice has vanished and all you can find is brown rice. Venezuela exported rice last year so where has it gone? Has it all been eaten suddenly?!

A smaller haul of hoarded basic products was found in Catia in the west of Caracas on Saturday. Local people noted something strange about movements at night in a warehouse and alerted the Superintendent of Fair Price whose tram took the corrective action and placed three individuals in the hands of the Attorney General’s Office for hoarding 33 tons of basic products.

In this economic war being waged by the business sector against its own customers, it is not just food that is hoarded. In recent months it has been difficult to find motor oil as it was being hidden and sold at speculative prices. In Guatire – a satellite town on the outskirts of Greater Caracas - the authorities decommissioned 967 liters of motor oil along with hundreds of kilos of corn flour and other personal hygiene products such as the “impossible-to-find shampoo” and bath soap. Investigations continue to try and locate the owner of the warehouse.


The U.S. Covert War on Venezuela in 2015

The U.S. Covert War on Venezuela in 2015

The US Covert War on Venezuela in 2015 – Diary: Feb 7 Printer friendly page Print This ShareThis
By Arturo Rosales writing from Caracas
Axis of Logic
Saturday, Feb 7, 2015

Arrests Confiscations and Civic-Military Commands

The owners of the Farmatodo chain of 167 shops in Venezuela were remanded in custody to await trial at the request of the Attorney General’s Office. The Executive President and Vice-President of Operations, Pedro Luis Angarita Azpurua and Agustin Antonio Álvarez Costa are accused of boycott and destabilizing the economy – both crimes are included in the Law on Fair Prices.

Breaking News – President Maduro stated on the afternoon of February 6 that Farmatodo must regularize its operation immediately or he will be obliged to “take other decisions” – which could mean confiscation of the company. The heat is on for the capitalist speculators and this will serve as a message to other companies participating in the economic war.

Before these two Farmatodo criminals were arrested, the rumor on the street was that the Farmatodo chain really belonged to the President of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, who is the second most powerful politician in the country after President Maduro. In fact, for many years rumors have been rife about Cabello owning a huge business empire with millions of dollars stashed offshore or in the US.

No evidence has ever been presented to substantiate these wild claims and several court cases brought against Cabello in the past failed to succeed due to lack of evidence. However, the owners of Farmatodo let these rumors run until they had their day in front of the judge when the truth about the ownership of the 167 shops was revealed.

In an almost poetic twist to scotch such rumors about his “business empire”, Cabello authorized the workers at businesses that were rumored to be his to take control of them if the bourgeoisie did not admit who were the real owners.


A Rush to Judgment in Argentine Bomb Case?

A Rush to Judgment in Argentine Bomb Case?

February 7, 2015

The mysterious death of an Argentine prosecutor has whipped up new suspicions around the case of who bombed the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) in 1994 and whether there was an official cover-up, but the evidence on both counts remains dubious or discredited, says Gareth Porter.

By Gareth Porter

The evidence already available about Argentine Prosecutor Alberto Nisman’s death from a gunshot to the head creates a strong presumption that he was murdered. He was about to present publicly his accusation that President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner and her foreign minister, Hector Timerman, conspired to absolve Iran of the 1994 AMIA bombing and lift the Interpol red notices on the accused Iranians.

And it was Nisman’s 2006 request for the arrest of six former senior Iranian officials for the bombing that prompted his push for those red notices. In the context of Argentine political culture, with its long experience of impunity for crimes committed by the powerful, the circumstances of his death have led to a general conviction that the government must have been behind his murder.

But there is good reason to be cautious about that assumption. Nisman’s case against Kirchner was problematic. The central accusation in his affidavit, made 96 times, according to press accounts, was that Kirchner and Timerman had sought to revoke the Interpol arrest warrants against the former Iranian officials.

But Ronald K. Noble, the secretary general of Interpol for 15 years until last November, denied Nisman’s accusation. Noble declared, “I can say with 100 percent certainty, not a scintilla of doubt, that Foreign Minister Timerman and the Argentine government have been steadfast, persistent and unwavering that the Interpol’s red notices be issued, remain in effect and not be suspend or removed.”

Noble’s denial raises an obvious question: Why would the Kirchner government, knowing that Nisman’s main claim could be easily refuted, have any reason to kill him on the eve of the presentation of his case? Why give those seeking to discredit the government’s policy on the AMIA bombing the opportunity to shift the issue from the facts of the case to the presumption of officially sponsored assassination?


How US ‘Free Trade’ Policies Created the Central American Migration Crisis

How US ‘Free Trade’ Policies Created the Central American Migration Crisis
Michelle Chen on February 6, 2015 - 2:28 PM ET

When tens of thousands of Central American migrant children streamed across the US-Mexico border last year, some in this country received them as refugees fleeing violence and poverty; others demonized the “invasion” from the south with bigoted panic. What many overlooked was that these “unaccompanied minors” weren’t just coming in search of new homes—they were actually sent; their migration had been sponsored by some of the biggest corporations in the hemisphere.

A new report from the AFL-CIO examines the migrant influx in the context of global trade programs, tracing the the migration from one key “trading partner,” Honduras, back to the chaos wrought by years of transborder economic exploitation. Labor activists say that as the United States exports misery to the south, “free trade” has plunged a generation of youth into free fall.

While free-trade deals are routinely criticized in the US for promoting the outsourcing of “American jobs,” according to the research of a union-led delegation to Honduras, the trade system is systematically undermining democracy in the Latin American nations Washington has sought to control for decades through commercial exploitation and political coercion.

Honduras presents a case study in how the regime of free trade steels the corporate dominion that is both cause and effect of Latin America’s violence and oppression. One major factor is the 2009 coup that ousted the populist Zelaya government—a right-wing plot clandestinely supported by the Obama administration—and ushered in a wave of regressive economic policies in rural and industrial sectors and intensified corruption.

…since the 2009 coup, the ruling governments have failed to respect worker and human rights or create decent work, and instead have built a repressive security apparatus to put down dissent. Numerous trade unionists and community activists who participated in resistance to the coup were killed, beaten, threatened and jailed.

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