Saturday, September 16, 2017

Fiat This! Venezuela Ditches Petro Dollar (US Retaliates)

Venezuela Accused Of Drug Peddling After Dropping U.S.’ Petrodollar Trade Scheme 

by Whitney Webb - MintPress News

Sept. 16, 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump recently signed a determination that singles out Venezuela for failing to adhere to counternarcotics obligations. The accusation came – perhaps not so coincidentally – on the same day that Venezuela declared it will no longer participate in the U.S.’ petrodollar trade system.

In what is set to be a major blow to the U.S.’ increasingly fragile “petrodollar” system, Venezuela announced on Wednesday that it would no longer accept U.S. dollars as payment for its crude oil exports. According to the Wall Street Journal, Venezuela has begun using euros in lieu of the dollar and will convert existing cash holdings into euros as well.

However, the official website of Venezuela’s state oil company, PDVSA, has begun offering prices in the Chinese yuan, not euros.

The decision is similar to that once made by former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who dropped the dollar in favor of the euro a few years prior to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.

The move, though drastic, was not entirely unexpected.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro had stated earlier in the month that the country would look to “free” itself from the dollar within a week’s time, following the U.S.’ sanctions against the embattled nation. 

International markets thus far have failed to noticeably react to the policy shift, despite the threat it presents to the petrodollar system. The system, created in the 1970s, calls for OPEC nations to sell their oil in dollars in order to create artificial demand for the U.S. currency. Venezuela, home to the world’s largest oil reserves, is likely to exert some effect on the demand for dollars through its new policy, though the extent of the potential damage remains unclear.

However, other recent global developments, such as China’s recently announced plans to launch crude oil futures contracts priced in yuan and convertible to gold, suggest that the petrodollar system is facing a very uncertain future.

The U.S., as is custom when the petrodollar system is threatened, wasted little time responding to Venezuela’s decision to forsake the dollar in its oil transactions.

The same day that Venezuela’s decision to drop the dollar was announced, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that he will host his counterparts from Peru, Colombia and Brazil on Monday to discuss Venezuela. The U.S. is set to lead military drills with the three countries in close proximity to Venezuela in November of this year.

In addition, Venezuela’s decision to drop the dollar was immediately followed by Trump’s signing of an annual determination of countries considered to be “major drug transit or major drug producing” areas. Venezuela was singled out and “blacklisted” in the document for failing to adhere to counternarcotics obligations.

The document describes Venezuela, along with its only regional ally Bolivia, as “countries that have failed demonstrably during the previous 12 months to adhere to their obligations under international counternarcotics agreements.” As Telesur noted, the document expressed no concern over countries where drug trafficking has become a dangerous, highly institutionalized force, such as Mexico.

It also declined to name Colombia as one of the states failing to follow its counternarcotics obligations, despite the fact that the country’s cocaine crop yield has broken all previous records for two years in a row and is still growing. The document signed by Trump noted that Colombia was not included “because the Colombian National Police and Armed Forces are close law enforcement and security partners of the United States in the Western Hemisphere.” Ample evidence has shown that these same “security partners” in Colombia are intimately involved in its booming drug trade.

In contrast, Bolivia, under the leadership of the progressive and anti-imperialist Evo Morales, has the fewest illegal coca crops of any South American country. Some have credited Morales’ decision to expel the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) as having led to the nation’s notable decrease in cocaine production.

While drug trafficking does occur in Venezuela, the U.S. has taken to accusing top Venezuelan officials of complicity in the drug trade without evidence as the relationship between the two countries has continued to deteriorate. For instance, in February, the U.S. accused Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami of having “drug trafficking links” without providing substantial evidence. The accusations have not been verified and El Aissami’s Lebanese heritage has also been used by the U.S. to erroneously suggest that Hezbollah has an active presence in Venezuela.

Though the U.S. did not explicitly connect Trump’s condemnation of Venezuela’s alleged failure to curb drug trafficking to the country’s decision to stop accepting dollars as payment for oil, its condemnation still aids in building the case for U.S. intervention and thus regime change. CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence have recently argued that Venezuela is a “threat” to U.S. national security and President Trump has stated that the U.S. has “many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option if necessary.”

In addition to unverified, discredited claims that Venezuelan politicians have planned to assassinate U.S. politicians, namely Marco Rubio, the assertion that the Venezuelan government is somehow involved in drug trafficking has also been a central theme in attempting to justify more aggressive and perhaps militaristic behavior towards the country.

Whitney Webb is a MintPress contributor who has written for several news organizations in both English and Spanish; her stories have been featured on ZeroHedge, the Anti-Media, 21st Century Wire, and True Activist among others - she currently resides in Southern Chile. 

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Are Americans Willing to Sacrifice First Amendment for Israel Anti-Boycott Act?

Congress Shouldn’t Silence Human Rights Advocates

by Roger Waters - via NYT

Sept. 7, 2017

Members of Congress are currently considering a bill that threatens to silence the growing support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement for Palestinian freedom and human rights, known as B.D.S.

This draconian bill, the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, threatens individuals and businesses who actively participate in boycott campaigns in support of Palestinian rights conducted by international governmental organizations with up to 20 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine.

By endorsing this McCarthyite bill, senators would take away Americans’ First Amendment rights in order to protect Israel from nonviolent pressure to end its 50-year-old occupation of Palestinian territory and other abuses of Palestinian rights.

The American Civil Liberties Union has condemned the bill, which the American Israel Public Affairs Committee is lobbying for, as a threat to the constitutional right to free speech.

All Americans — regardless of their views on Israel-Palestine — should understand that potentially targeting and blacklisting fellow citizens who support Palestinian rights could turn out to be the thin end of a thick authoritarian wedge. Continue reading the main story

This is not new. Some two dozen anti-B.D.S. bills have been introduced in Congress and state legislatures across the country as part of an insidious effort to silence supporters of Palestinian human rights — some have already passed. In most cases, these bills bar states and the federal government from doing business with, or investing in, companies that abide by boycott or divestment campaigns related to Israel’s violations of international law. None of these laws has been tested in court yet.

This criminalization of support for B.D.S. in the United States mirrors similar efforts in Israel. In 2011, the Knesset passed a law that permits Israeli citizens or organizations who publicly endorse B.D.S. to be sued by anyone who has been affected by the boycott call. And earlier this year, it passed a law that allows Israel to deny entry to foreigners who have publicly supported boycotts. It was under this law that Alissa Wise, an American rabbi who was part of an interfaith delegation to the Holy Land, was recently prevented from boarding a flight to Tel Aviv.

Criminalizing boycotts is un-American and anti-democratic. Boycotts have always been accepted as a legitimate form of nonviolent protest in the United States. In 1955 and 1956, a bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala., incited by the protest of Rosa Parks and others, became one of the foremost civil rights struggles against segregation in the South.

More recently, the National Collegiate Athletic Association refused to hold championship events in North Carolina after state legislators there passed a law that curbed legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and set discriminatory rules regarding transgender bathroom use in public buildings. Numerous artists, including Bruce Springsteen, refused to perform in the state; major corporations canceled investments in North Carolina. The voice of boycott in support of civil rights was heard and the bill was repealed, albeit as part of a problematic compromise.

In these cases, progressives lauded these boycotters as champions of equality. So why do national lawmakers — including supposedly progressive Democrats — want to make an exception for those who support equal rights for Palestinians?

When the cause is just, boycott has shown itself to be an effective method of shining light on human rights abuses and the flouting of international law. That is why the Israeli government and its supporters are so determined to silence those who support B.D.S.

Pro-Israel groups have for years attempted to demonize supporters of B.D.S. — trust me, I know.

I am currently in the middle of a 63-date tour of the United States and Canada. Audiences of tens of thousands are coming together at our “Us + Them” shows, which embrace love, compassion, cooperation and coexistence and encourage resistance to authoritarianism and proto-fascism. These appearances have been greeted by a few sporadic protests by right-wing supporters of Israel.

These protests would be of no consequence, if they did not occasionally have truly negative consequences. For instance, the city of Miami Beach prevented a group of school children from appearing onstage with me after pressure from the Greater Miami Jewish Federation. I understand that city officials have a democratic right to disagree with my opinions, but I was shocked that they were willing to take it out on kids.

These attacks are routine and relatively minor. But the Israel Anti-Boycott Act is serious “lawfare.” Officials in Nassau County in Long Island are threatening to take legal action to shut down two shows I have scheduled there next week, using a local anti-B.D.S. law passed in 2016. If the Nassau County attorney proceeds against the operators of the Nassau Coliseum, we will have our day in court and argue on behalf of all those who believe in universal human rights and the First Amendment.

Polls show that nearly half of all Americans, and a majority of Democrats, would support sanctions against Israel because of its construction of illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land. Indeed, more and more churches, student groups, artists, academics and labor organizations are backing the tactics of boycott and divestment as a means to pressure Israel to end its abuses of Palestinians. If passed, the Israel Anti-Boycott Act could put them all, from archbishops to altar boys, artists to artisans, at risk of arrest on felony charges.

Those who are attempting to silence me understand the power of art and culture. They know the role artists played in the civil rights struggle in the United States and against apartheid in South Africa. They want to make an example of us to discourage others from speaking out.

Instead of working to undermine B.D.S., Congress should defend the First Amendment right of all Americans and stand on the right side of history by supporting equal civil and human rights for all people, irrespective of ethnicity or religion.
Roger Waters, a musician and singer-songwriter, is a co-founder of the band Pink Floyd.

Environmental Education and New Information on the Sabra & Shatila Massacre

Environmental Education and Sabra & Shatila

by Mazin Qumsiyeh - Palestine

September 16, 2017

Acting locally: A brief video explaining an example of the Environmental Education Programs carried out by the Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability and the Palestine Museum of Natural History at Bethlehem University.

US rep to the UN, Nimrata Randhawa
(now called "Nikki Haley") 

Thousands of students benefited from these programs since we started in late 2014. Students from schools and many universities in Palestine frequently use the museum for class projects and to develop skills to safe guard our critically endangered environment.

Join us on Facebook: Palestine Museum of Natural History
Volunteer with us:

Thinking globally: 35 years ago, the infamous Sabra and Shatila massacre happened by mercenaries trained and armed by Israel. I reviewed a book about it in 2005 and it summarizes a bit of the knowledge:

Now new information surfaces

The United States Was Responsible for the 1982 Massacre of Palestinians in Beirut. Washington had explicitly guaranteed their safety—and recently declassified documents reveal that US diplomats were told by the Israelis what they and their allies might be up to.

By Rashid Khalidi

This is the same USA government that is hijacking the UN to increase its racist attacks on native people around the world. The repugnant US rep to the UN, Nimrata Randhawa (now called "Nikki Haley") is the house slave serving her elitist masters.

But the head white master will speak at the UN Tuesday morning and everyone should listen to his words. Then everyone should resist the new world order.

We should start by standing up against the Israel/US attempt to split Iraq like they did the Sudan. Kurdistan will become the new South Sudan: weapons used to kill people profiting merchants of death in Tel Aviv.

Stay Human

Mazin Qumsiyeh
A bedouin in cyberspace, a villager at home
Professor and (volunteer) Director
Palestine Museum of Natural History
Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability
Bethlehem University
Occupied Palestine
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Our Sointula Friends Twyla and Jeff Have Passed Away

Our Sointula Friends Twyla and Jeff Have Passed Away

by Ingmar Lee 

September 16, 2017

Dear friends, I expect that everybody in these discussions is mourning the passing of Twyla Roscovich, but yesterday we also lost another activist friend, dear Jeff Jones.

Jeff and Twyla were busy, prolific, compassionate, self-driven nature-loving and nature-immersed activists from Sointula, and we are completely devastated by their loss.

They leave a gigantic heartbreaking void in our movement. May their significant contributions soon be emulated.

It occurs to me that perhaps their passing might be a catalyst for a much-needed reunion meeting where we can all get together to celebrate their lives, and re-invigorate and empower ourselves for the battles ahead.

Peace and love, Ingmar

" Kindly Enlightening Lives "

Raven guides inside Thunderbird worlds

giving Twyla and Mr Jeff special tours

where Grizzly Bears joined Rain-Wolves

inspiring seventh generation schools


passionately committed bravely wise

environmental heroes now knowing why

zen moments focused returns past time

recharging journeys across border lines


Earth Mother lovers paralleled tracks

following sustainable ancestral paths

exposing world-wide habitat blight

brilliant Rainbow Warriors larger than life


all part of everything remembering dreams

loggers stop slashing pre-genocide trees

fish-farms disinfect Wild Salmon tears

Humanity freed ten thousand more years.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Reagan's ‘Meddling’ Revealed

Reagan Documents Shed Light on U.S. ‘Meddling’

by Robert Parry - Consortium News

September 13, 2017

Special Report: “Secret” documents from the Reagan administration show how the U.S. embedded “political action,” i.e., the manipulation of foreign governments, in ostensibly well-meaning organizations, reports Robert Parry.

Secret” documents, recently declassified by the Reagan presidential library, reveal senior White House officials reengaging a former CIA “proprietary,” The Asia Foundation, in “political action,” an intelligence term of art for influencing the actions of foreign governments.

Raymond next to Nat'l Security Adviser John Poindexter. 
(Photo credit : Reagan presidential library)

Partially obscured by President Reagan, Walter Raymond Jr. was the CIA propaganda and disinformation specialist who oversaw “political action” and “psychological operations” projects at the National Security Council in the 1980s.

The documents from 1982 came at a turning-point moment when the Reagan administration was revamping how the U.S. government endeavored to manipulate the internal affairs of governments around the world in the wake of scandals in the 1960s and 1970s involving the Central Intelligence Agency’s global covert operations.

Instead of continuing to rely heavily on the CIA, President Reagan and his national security team began offloading many of those “political action” responsibilities to “non-governmental organizations” (NGOs) that operated in a more overt fashion and received funding from other U.S. government agencies.

But secrecy was still required for the involvement of these NGOs in the U.S. government’s strategies to bend the political will of targeted countries. If the “political action” of these NGOs were known, many countries would object to their presence; thus, the “secret” classification of the 1982 White House memos that I recently obtained via a “mandatory declassification review” from the archivists at the Reagan presidential library in Simi Valley, California.

In intelligence circles, “political action” refers to a wide range of activities to influence the policies and behaviors of foreign nations, from slanting their media coverage, to organizing and training opposition activists, even to setting the stage for “regime change.”

The newly declassified memos from the latter half of 1982 marked an ad hoc period of transition between the CIA scandals, which peaked in the 1970s, and the creation of more permanent institutions to carry out these semi-secretive functions, particularly the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which was created in 1983.

Much of this effort was overseen by a senior CIA official, Walter Raymond Jr., who was moved to Reagan’s National Security Council’s staff where he managed a number of interagency task forces focused on “public diplomacy,” “psychological operations,” and “political action.”

Raymond, who had held top jobs in the CIA’s covert operations shop specializing in propaganda and disinformation, worked from the shadows inside Reagan’s White House, too. Raymond was rarely photographed although his portfolio of responsibilities was expansive. He brought into his orbit emerging “stars,” including Lt. Col. Oliver North (a central figure in the Iran-Contra scandal), State Department propagandist (and now a leading neocon) Robert Kagan, and NED President Carl Gershman (who still heads NED with its $100 million budget).

Despite his camera avoidance, Raymond appears to have grasped his true importance. In his NSC files, I found a doodle of an organizational chart that had Raymond at the top holding what looks like the crossed handles used by puppeteers to control the puppets below them. The drawing fit the reality of Raymond as the behind-the-curtains operative who controlled various high-powered inter-agency task forces.

Earlier declassified documents revealed that Raymond also was the conduit between CIA Director William J. Casey and these so-called “pro-democracy” programs that used sophisticated propaganda strategies to influence not only the thinking of foreign populations but the American people, too.

This history is relevant again now amid the hysteria over alleged Russian “meddling” in last year’s U.S. presidential elections. If those allegations are true – and the U.S. government has still not presented any real proof – the Russian motive would have been, in part, payback for Washington’s long history of playing games with the internal politics of Russia and other countries all across the planet.

A Fight for Money

The newly released memos describe bureaucratic discussions about funding levels for The Asia Foundation (TAF), with the only sensitive topic, to justify the “secret” stamp, being the reference to the U.S. government’s intent to exploit TAF’s programs for “political action” operations inside Asian countries.

Indeed, the opportunity for “political action” under TAF’s cover appeared to be the reason why Reagan’s budget cutters relented and agreed to restore funding to the foundation.

William Schneider Jr. of the Office of Management and Budget wrote in a Sept. 2, 1982 memo that the Budget Review Board (BRB) had axed TAF funding earlier in the year.

“When the BRB last considered this issue on March 29, 1982, it decided not to include funding in the budget for a U.S. Government grant to TAF. The Board’s decision was based on the judgement that given the limited resources available for international affairs programs, funding for the Foundation could not be justified. During that March 29 meeting, the State Department was given the opportunity to fund TAF within its existing budget, but would not agree to do so.”

However, as Schneider noted in the memo to Deputy National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane,

“I now understand that a proposal to continue U.S. funding for the Asia Foundation is included in the ‘political action’ initiatives being developed by the State Department and several other agencies.
“We will, of course, work with you to reconsider the relative priority of support for the Foundation as part of these initiatives keeping in mind, however, the need for identifying budget offsets.”

A prime mover behind this change of heart appeared to be Walter Raymond, who surely knew TAF’s earlier status as a CIA “proprietary.” In 1966, Ramparts magazine exposed that relationship and led the Johnson administration to terminate the CIA’s money.

According to an April 12, 1967 memo from the State Department’s historical archives, CIA Director Richard Helms, responding to a White House recommendation, “ordered that covert funding of The Asia Foundation (TAF) shall be terminated at the earliest practicable opportunity.”

In coordination with the CIA’s “disassociation,” TAF’s board released what the memo described as “a carefully limited statement of admission of past CIA support. In so doing the Trustees sought to delimit the effects of an anticipated exposure of Agency support by the American press and, if their statement or some future expose does not seriously impair TAF’s acceptability in Asia, to continue operating in Asia with overt private and official support.”

The CIA memo envisioned future funding from “overt U.S. Government grants” and requested guidance from the White House’s covert action oversight panel, the 303 Committee, for designation of someone “to whom TAF management should look for future guidance and direction with respect to United States Government interests.”

In 1982, with TAF’s funding again in jeopardy, the CIA’s Walter Raymond rallied to its defense from his NSC post. In an undated memo to McFarlane, Raymond recalled that “the Department of State underscored that TAF had made significant contributions to U.S. foreign policies through fostering democratic institutions and, as a private organization, had accomplished things which a government organization cannot do.” [Emphasis in original]

Raymond’s bureaucratic intervention worked. By late 1982, the Reagan administration had arranged for TAF’s fiscal 1984 funding to go through the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) budget, which was being used to finance a range of President Reagan’s “democracy initiatives.” Raymond spelled out the arrangements in a Dec. 15, 1982 memo to National Security Advisor William Clark.

“The issue has been somewhat beclouded in the working levels at State since we have opted to fund all FY 84 democracy initiatives via the USIA budgetary submission,” Raymond wrote.
“At the same time, it is essential State maintain its operational and management role with TAF.”

Over the ensuing three and half decades, TAF has continued to be subsidized by U.S. and allied governments. According to its annual report for the year ending Sept. 30, 2016, TAF said it “is funded by an annual appropriation from the U.S. Congress, competitively bid awards from governmental and multilateral development agencies, including the U.S. Agency for International Development, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, United Kingdom’s Department for International Development and by private foundations and corporations,” a sum totaling $94.5 million.

TAF, which operates in 18 Asian countries, describes its purpose as “improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia.” TAF’s press office had no immediate comment regarding the newly released Reagan-era documents.

Far From Alone

But TAF was far from alone as a private organization that functioned with U.S. government money and collaborated with U.S. officials in achieving Washington’s foreign policy goals.

Carl Gershman, president of the National
Endowment for Democracy.

For instance, other documents from the Reagan library revealed that Freedom House, a prominent human rights organization, sought advice and direction from Casey and Raymond while advertising the group’s need for financial help.

In an Aug. 9, 1982 letter to Raymond, Freedom House executive director Leonard R. Sussman wrote that

“Leo Cherne [another senior Freedom House official] has asked me to send these copies of Freedom Appeals. He has probably told you we have had to cut back this project to meet financial realities. We would, of course, want to expand the project once again when, as and if the funds become available.”

According to the documents, Freedom House remained near the top of Casey’s and Raymond’s thinking when it came to the most effective ways to deliver the CIA’s hardline foreign policy message to the American people and to the international community.

On Nov. 4, 1982, Raymond wrote to NSC Advisor Clark about the “Democracy Initiative and Information Programs,” stating that “Bill Casey asked me to pass on the following thought concerning your meeting with [right-wing billionaire] Dick Scaife, Dave Abshire [then a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board], and Co.

“Casey had lunch with them today and discussed the need to get moving in the general area of supporting our friends around the world. By this definition he is including both ‘building democracy’ and helping invigorate international media programs. The DCI [Casey] is also concerned about strengthening public information organizations in the United States such as Freedom House.

“A critical piece of the puzzle is a serious effort to raise private funds to generate momentum. Casey’s talk with Scaife and Co. suggests they would be very willing to cooperate. Suggest that you note White House interest in private support for the Democracy initiative.”

In a Jan. 25, 1983 memo, Raymond wrote, “We will move out immediately in our parallel effort to generate private support” for “public diplomacy” operations. Then, on May 20, 1983, Raymond recounted in another memo that $400,000 had been raised from private donors brought to the White House Situation Room by USIA Director Charles Wick. According to that memo, the money was divided among several organizations, including Freedom House and Accuracy in Media, a right-wing media attack group.

In an Aug. 9, 1983 memo, Raymond outlined plans to arrange private backing for that effort. He said USIA Director Wick “via [Australian publishing magnate Rupert] Murdock [sic], may be able to draw down added funds” to support pro-Reagan initiatives. Raymond recommended “funding via Freedom House or some other structure that has credibility in the political center.”

[For more on the Murdoch connection, see’s “Rupert Murdoch: Propaganda Recruit.”]

Questions of Legality

Raymond remained a CIA officer until April 1983 when he resigned so in his words “there would be no question whatsoever of any contamination of this” propaganda operation to woo the American people into supporting Reagan’s policies.

Raymond fretted, too, about the legality of Casey’s role in the effort to influence U.S. public opinion because of the legal prohibition against the CIA influencing U.S. policies and politics. Raymond confided in one memo that it was important “to get [Casey] out of the loop,” but Casey never backed off and Raymond continued to send progress reports to his old boss well into 1986.

It was “the kind of thing which [Casey] had a broad catholic interest in,” Raymond said during his Iran-Contra deposition in 1987. He then offered the excuse that Casey undertook this apparently illegal interference in domestic affairs “not so much in his CIA hat, but in his adviser to the president hat.”

In 1983, Casey and Raymond focused on creating a permanent funding mechanism to support private organizations that would engage in propaganda and political action that the CIA had historically organized and paid for covertly. The idea emerged for a congressionally funded entity that would be a conduit for this money.

But Casey recognized the need to hide the strings being pulled by the CIA. In one undated letter to then-White House counselor Edwin Meese III, Casey urged creation of a “National Endowment,” but added: “Obviously we here [at CIA] should not get out front in the development of such an organization, nor should we appear to be a sponsor or advocate.”

A document in Raymond’s files offered examples of what would be funded, including “Grenada — 50 K — To the only organized opposition to the Marxist government of Maurice Bishop (The Seaman and Waterfront Workers Union). A supplemental 50 K to support free TV activity outside Grenada” and “Nicaragua — $750 K to support an array of independent trade union activity, agricultural cooperatives.”

The National Endowment for Democracy took shape in late 1983 as Congress decided to also set aside pots of money — within NED — for the Republican and Democratic parties and for organized labor, creating enough bipartisan largesse that passage was assured.

But some in Congress thought it was important to wall the NED off from any association with the CIA, so a provision was included to bar the participation of any current or former CIA official, according to one congressional aide who helped write the legislation.

This aide told me that one night late in the 1983 session, as the bill was about to go to the House floor, the CIA’s congressional liaison came pounding at the door to the office of Rep. Dante Fascell, a senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a chief sponsor of the bill.

The frantic CIA official conveyed a single message from CIA Director Casey: the language barring the participation of CIA personnel must be struck from the bill, the aide recalled, noting that Fascell consented to the demand, not fully recognizing its significance.

The aide said Fascell also consented to the Reagan administration’s choice of Carl Gershman to head the National Endowment for Democracy, again not recognizing how this decision would affect the future of the new entity and American foreign policy.

Gershman, who had followed the classic neoconservative path from youthful socialism to fierce anticommunism, became NED’s first (and, to this day, only) president. Though NED is technically independent of U.S. foreign policy, Gershman in the early years coordinated decisions on grants with Raymond at the NSC.

For instance, on Jan. 2, 1985, Raymond wrote to two NSC Asian experts that “Carl Gershman has called concerning a possible grant to the Chinese Alliance for Democracy (CAD). I am concerned about the political dimension to this request. We should not find ourselves in a position where we have to respond to pressure, but this request poses a real problem to Carl.”

Besides clearing aside political obstacles for Gershman, Raymond also urged NED to give money to Freedom House in a June 21, 1985 letter obtained by Professor John Nichols of Pennsylvania State University.

What the documents at the Reagan library make clear is that Raymond and Casey stayed active shaping the decisions of the new funding mechanism throughout its early years. (Casey died in 1987; Raymond died in 2003.)

Lots of Money

Since its founding, NED has ladled out hundreds of millions of dollars to NGOs all over the world, focusing on training activists, building media outlets, and supporting civic organizations. In some geopolitical hotspots, NED may have scores of projects running at once, such as in Ukraine before the 2014 coup that overthrew elected President Viktor Yanukovych and touched off the New Cold War with Russia. Via such methods, NED helped achieve the “political action” envisioned by Casey and Raymond.

From the start, NED also became a major benefactor for Freedom House, beginning with a $200,000 grant in 1984 to build “a network of democratic opinion-makers.” In NED’s first four years, from 1984 and 1988, it lavished $2.6 million on Freedom House, accounting for more than one-third of its total income, according to a study by the liberal Council on Hemispheric Affairs, which was entitled “Freedom House: Portrait of a Pass-Through.”

Over the ensuing decades, Freedom House has become almost an NED subsidiary, often joining NED in holding policy conferences and issuing position papers, both organizations pushing primarily a neoconservative agenda, challenging countries deemed insufficiently “free,” including Syria, Ukraine (before the 2014 coup) and Russia.

NED and Freedom House often work as a kind of tag-team with NED financing NGOs inside targeted countries and Freedom House berating those governments if they try to crack down on U.S.-funded NGOs.

For instance, on Nov. 16, 2012, NED and Freedom House joined together to denounce a law passed by the Russian parliament requiring Russian recipients of foreign political money to register with the government. Or, as NED and Freedom House framed the issue: the Russian Duma sought to “restrict human rights and the activities of civil society organizations and their ability to receive support from abroad. Changes to Russia’s NGO legislation will soon require civil society organizations receiving foreign funds to choose between registering as ‘foreign agents’ or facing significant financial penalties and potential criminal charges.”

Of course, the United States has a nearly identical Foreign Agent Registration Act that likewise requires entities that receive foreign funding and seek to influence U.S. government policy to register with the Justice Department or face possible fines or imprisonment.

But the Russian law would impede NED’s efforts to destabilize the Russian government through funding of political activists, journalists and civic organizations, so it was denounced as an infringement of human rights and helped justify Freedom House’s rating of Russia as “not free.”

The Russian government’s concerns were not entirely paranoid. On Sept. 26, 2013, Gershman, in effect, charted the course for the crisis in Ukraine and the greater neocon goal of regime change in Russia. In a Washington Post op-ed, Gershman called Ukraine “the biggest prize” and explained how pulling it into the Western camp could contribute to the ultimate defeat of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Ukraine’s choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents,” Gershman wrote.
“Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”

The long history of the U.S. government interfering covertly or semi-covertly in the politics of countries all over the world is the ironic backdrop to the current frenzy over Russia-gate and Russia’s alleged dissemination of emails that undermined Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

The allegations are denied by both Putin and WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange who published the Democratic emails – and the U.S. government has presented no solid evidence to support the accusations of “Russian meddling” – but if the charges are true, they could be seen as a case of turnabout as fair play.

Except in this case, U.S. officials, who have meddled ceaselessly with their “political action” operations in countries all over the world, don’t like even the chance that they could get a taste of their own medicine.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and

Updating the Fish Farm Fight

Fish Farm Fight - Update 

by Alexandra Morton

September 13, 2017

Two salmon farms in the Broughton Archipelago are now under occupation by First Nations.

Marine Harvest has paused restocking their Midsummer farm after a stand off between their packer and First Nations and now the occupiers are digging in. As the weather deteriorates they are making preparations as winter is coming. Communities are rallying around them. Other nations are noticing.

Many are talking about individual “chiefs” who have sold out and given these companies access to BC waters for personal gain, with no consultation with the people.

The provincial government of BC can see this is getting serious, but they don’t have a plan. They are stuttering, unable to fully grasp the scope of what they are going to have to do. They are going to have to tell the Norwegians to move out of the territories of the nations want them out, or they are going to sit there and let this escalate. If so a lot of questions will erupt to the surface. The province is the landlord, they are renting First Nation territory to these Norwegian-run companies in violation of First Nation rights. The NDP put these farms here in the first place.

No government to date has dared control the Norwegian appetite for the BC coast. It feels like there is more to this arrangement than we can see. Why risk tourism and fishing which are more than twice as big as fish farms in terms of the economy and jobs? It doesn't make sense.

For the moment the BC NDP are taking refuge in the media line that they need federal money to transition the industry to closed tanks, but these words are falling flat. Both the feds and industry are ignoring them. Marine Harvest, leader of the pack, was offered this deal a few years ago and made it clear they have no intention of getting into a tank. It’s far more profitable to dump in the ocean.

The salmon farming industry makes such a miserly contribution to the BC economy, that the NDP are either not doing the math, or there is a piece of this equation hidden from view.

Why is the federal Minister of Fisheries, Dominic LeBlanc, fighting to make Norwegian viruses legal in BC waters? And when is someone in the BC Ministry of Agriculture going notice that the - who found what when is not adding up in defense of the federal minister’s highly compromised position. Farm salmon disease is a word game, bafflegab, a true mad-hatters tea party in the Ministry of Agriculture. How hard they fall depends on when they decide to save themselves instead of the Norwegians.

Marine Harvest, proactive as ever, tried to suppress this uprising, but they were not given a chance to spill their trade beads on to the table. “You are renters,” says traditional leader Willie Moon, “we are kicking you out and keeping the deposit.”

The fuel behind this explosion of energy to expel salmon farms is the coast-wide lack of food fish. There are so few wild salmon that they cannot be harvested to feed the hundreds of families who depend on them as a highly nourishing resource. Taking food away from people is always dangerous.

Fraser River nations took the unprecedented step of organizing a rally in Vancouver in support of these coastal nations who were in meetings with the provincial cabinet putting fish farms on the table. These nations also have no food fish. Despite DFO’s interference, I have tested Fraser River salmon and the highly contagious piscine reovirus is in the Fraser salmon now. While some argue that the virus is from BC, the science simply does not support their position. Viruses have fingerprints and these trace back to Norway.

Marine Harvest miscalculated the mood and decided to restock a farm in the middle of all, this ignoring the Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw, as they have always done for decades. As the Norwegian registered Viktoria Viking pulled into the Midsummer Island farm near the Kwikwasut’inux Haxa’mis village of Gwa-yas-dums, two young women, Sherry Moon and Karissa Glendale, strode down the pen walkway in a stunning display of fearlessness. They stood on the narrow walkway between the 57 m ship and the pen and did not flinch as the boat swung large black pipes over their heads preparing to pour Atlantic salmon into their territorial waters. Five hereditary chiefs moved in protectively around the women ignoring the glare of the Norwegian crew and shrieks of the ship’s whistle.

They made the decision to give the new NDP government a chance to demonstrate respect and paused, held the ship at bay, tipped the balance and stepped back to bear witness in disgust as the pipe was lowered and the injection began. Among the industrial salmon pumped into their waters, silver wisps of wild herring tumbled from the ship’s hold into the pen.

These valuable fish had been sucked up at the smolt farm with the Atlantic salmon and transported to this site.

How is this legal?

The Viktoria Viking is not displaying any licence to fish or transport herring. This region has remained closed to herring fishing for three decades, because the population is so fragile and despite this protection they have failed to rebound.

Hereditary chief George Quocksister Jr. has now boarded every salmon farm between Campbell River and Port Hardy and shot underwater footage. This industry is a herring fishery. They are hold herring in nets and nearly every farm. No one in BC is allowed to possess herring without a licence and yet thousands spewed from the hold of a vessel whose homeport is Roervik, Norway. So many things are not right here.

What is the deal?


The stand off at the other Marine Harvest farm continues. Marine Harvest asked Ernest Alfred and the others to leave the farm so they could begin harvesting the fish. They complied, moved on the farm on the 9th and occupied the abandoned Marine Harvest land camp above the farm. However, Marine Harvest has not fulfilled their part of the arrangement and harvesting has not begun on the farm. The fish appear in poor health.

The packer “Proud Venture” is pumping dead fish out of the bottom of the pens every few days, then going around the corner into Blackfish Sound and pumping the farm water full of rotting fish tissue into the migration route of the Fraser sockeye and all southcoast salmon. The boat then returns to the farm and pumps more dead fish into the hold.

The people occupying the salmon farms are enduring long days of the hiss and rattle of tons of pellets tumbling along the feeder tubes to each pen. It smells like dog food. People’s faces and lips are chapped, their eyes burning from this industrial dust. Many of the fish are lethargic, wasting away emaciated in the corners of the pens, their heads resting on the nets looking out. On windy days the farm undulates, and bucks. I cannot step on a farm as Marine Harvest is suing me for touching a farm with a teaspoon last year to collect a bird dropping, but I am viewing the hours of underwater footage shot by the people on the farms. Blisters, “terminator” fish missing parts of their faces, swollen gills, no tails, gaping sores, missing skin, tumours, deformed spines, jaws that won’t shut, balloon syndrome, volkswagons, and schools of wild herring trapped in this filth. It’s a shop of horrors and the pathogens percolating out of these facilities are perhaps the greatest sustained industrial spill in the history of the BC coast.

I am a scientist. I have measured, written up and published on the details of this spill in scientific journals, but the big machine just runs right over it. Science is not even a speed bump for this industry and it government handlers. At some level I know it’s important to do the science, to gain this understanding, but in reality the only good it has done is to build the resolve that is in me.

Allies are stepping up everywhere. I am onboard a boat with a Sea Shepherd crew. The vessel and crew are highly functional allies on the front lines. Fraser River nations organized a rally at the Vancouver Convention Centre as the chiefs met with the BC government, because they are alarmed at the diseased fish in their river and the collapse of their food fishery. Three hundred people showed up with three days notice on a Thursday.

The elected First Nation leadership of the Broughton are standing firm in a shower of sparks as hereditary and non- indigenous leaders grind gears.

One hundred and fifty people showed up when Ernest Alfred took over the remote abandoned buildings above the Marine Harvest farm on Swanson Island, as he shifts into long-term gear and plants a garden, all to ensure the farm removes its fish and never comes back. This movement is taking root, stabilizing and growing.

Equilibrium has been achieved. No farm fish are going in and none are coming out. This is unsustainable for an industry based on the growth of the share price that it requires. We are in the eye of the storm.

A few days later rain was coming down hard on the salmon farm where the standoff with the Viking took place. The door to the tiny plastic house we built on the farm swings open and three young women stepped out. Ignoring the rain they begin singing, a drum lending rhythm to their voices. I could feel my heart warm of gratitude for everyone near and distant holding space in international gale force winds for this to happen.

I know what is happening beneath our feet in the dark of the ocean, the viruses seeping out, the death and suffering. I loathe the nauseating dread this knowledge brings. But standing in this moment everything comes clear.

It is time to be fearless, to step between the living world and an economy that can only thrive on death of life as we know it. There is a madness upon us that cannot tolerate anything that is not corporately owned. Wild salmon threaten salmon farms.

The abundant salmon runs in Alaska are considered a “shock” to the farm salmon market. The salmon farmers blame healthy wild salmon for sea lice, they cannot operate among healthy wild salmon runs. The herring that are essential to the BC coast are treated as if they belong to Norway, when in fact the Norwegians don’t even own the farm salmon in the pens as that would be a violation of Canadian law.

Marine Harvest, Cermaq, Grieg – this gig is over, it is time for you gather your things and leave. You have done incalculable damage here, you dishonour your home country, this is now a human rights issue, as well as, devastating abuse of the already dying oceans of our planet. Get out and let us get to work healing what you have done to this part of the world that all of our children will share.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Rod Marining, John Helmer, Janine Bandcroft September 14, 2017

This Week on GR

by C. L. Cook -

September 14, 2017 

Last month's Solar Eclipse escape of Atlantic Salmon from concentrated fish lots across the water from us in Washington State brought condemnation and quick action from local authorities in the US. If only it were so here in BC, where repeated escapes of the alien species have met with little more than tut tuts from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans; the organization tasked with protecting Canada's maritime environment.

The Cooke Aquaculture net failure adds more ammunition to opponents in the ongoing fight against fish farms in our waters.

Listen. Hear.

This Summer has seen two dock occupations by First Nations in two separate jurisdictions, and the return of crusading biologist Alexandra Morton and allies the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, with Operation Virus Hunter II.

The season's efforts culminated last week with the Rally to End Fish Farms in the Broughton Archipelago manifesting at the heart of Vancouver's Canada Place, and pressing the new NDP government take action to shut down the industry.

Rod Marining is a long-time BC resident and Ocean defender. He's a co-founder of Greenpeace, current Director at the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and Chair of the BC Environmental Network, among other things. He's spent the last few months on board with Sea Shepherd's Operation Virus Hunter, the second of a two-Summer campaign, trying to get fish farms out of BC's waters.

Rod Marining in the first half.

And; Canada's Foreign Minister, Chrystia Freeland is much in the news lately; generally seen in the context of renewed NAFTA negotiations between tripartite partners, Canada, Mexico, and the United States. Though doing trade and investment rule deals is a small part of Freeland's portfolio, it's one she's uniquely qualified for. The former business journalist and author of the award-winning book, 'Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else', is well-used to rubbing elbows with some of the most powerful of the Western World's power elite. But could those ties, while providing welcome free access for an ambitious journalist, later prove costly political encumbrances to a cabinet minister?

John Helmer is a long-time, Moscow-based journalist, author, and essayist whose website, Dances with Bears is the only news bureau “independent of single national or commercial ties.” He’s also a former political science professor who has served as an advisor to governments on three continents and regularly lectures on Russian topics. Helmer's book titles include: ‘Uncovering Russia,’ ‘Urbanman: The Psychology of Urban Survival,’ ‘Bringing the War Home: The American Soldier in Vietnam and After,’ and ‘Drugs and Minority Oppression’ among others.

John Helmer on the minister and the plutocrat in the second half.

And; activist and broadcaster at large, Janine Bandcroft will be here at the bottom of the hour with the Left Coast Events update. But first, Rod Marining and getting those fish out of water.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Wednesday, 1-2pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, and on the internet at:  He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, Check out the GR blog at:

G-Radio is dedicated to social justice, the environment, community, and providing a forum for people and issues not covered in the corporate media.

NATO and Russia Playing for Keeps: War Games on the Frontiers

NATO launches war games in advance of Russian exercise

by Bill Van Auken  - WSWS

13 September 2017  

The US and its NATO allies have launched a series of war games in advance of a major military exercise by Russia and Belarus scheduled to begin later this week. The dueling war games are unfolding under conditions in which relations between Washington and Moscow are more tense than at any time since the height of the Cold War.

They follow the imposition of unilateral US sanctions against Russia, a round of tit-for-tat expulsions of Russian and American diplomats initiated by Washington and an unrelenting propaganda campaign alleging Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

On Monday, military forces from the US and a number of other NATO countries joined the Ukrainian army for military exercises dubbed “Rapid Trident,” involving 2,500 troops. The war games, which are taking place in the western Ukrainian city of Yavoriv, are to continue until September 23.

Washington has steadily increased its support to the right-wing nationalist regime brought to power by a US-backed and fascist-spearheaded coup in February 2014. Last month, US Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis traveled to Kiev, where he signaled his support for providing the country with lethal weapons.

The US and NATO have invoked Moscow’s annexation of Crimea, which came in response to a referendum expressing overwhelming support for the militarily strategic territory’s return to Russia, and the revolt by pro-Russian separatists in the Donbas region as manifestations of Russian aggression, justifying the US-led military buildup in the region.

This has included NATO’s deployment last May of four “multinational battlegroups,” consisting of over 1,000 combat troops each, in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, led by the UK, Canada, Germany and the US respectively. This has been accompanied by the organization of a 40,000-troop rapid reaction force and a steady military buildup in the Black Sea region.

The US recently sent seven more advanced fighter planes to Lithuania to beef up its military presence during the Russian military exercise, along with an additional 600 American airborne troops. For the first time since 2014, the Pentagon has taken command of NATO’s air operations in the Baltics.

Meanwhile, NATO initiated another military exercise, “Steadfast Pyramid” in Latvia on Sunday, involving 40 senior commanders from NATO member states along with Finland and Sweden. NATO issued an opaque description of the exercise, which continues until September 15, declaring that it was focused on “further developing the abilities of commanders and senior staff to plan and conduct operations through the application of operational art in decision making.” A second stage of the war games, known as “Steadfast Pinnacle,” is to last from September 17 through September 22.

In addition to these US-NATO actions, American and French troops are participating, along with units from Finland, Denmark, Norway, Lithuania and Estonia, in the largest Swedish military exercises to be held in 20 years. The maneuver, which began on Monday and runs through September 20, represents another show of force directed against Moscow. In an unmistakable sign of the sharp tensions roiling the region, Sweden has substantially increased its military budget, re-instituted conscription and is debating joining NATO, an action that would break the country’s century-long tradition of neutrality.

The US-NATO military buildup in both Ukraine and the Baltic republics—as well as the war games in Sweden—are clearly aimed, in the first instance, at countering the “Zapad 2017” joint exercises being staged by Russia and Belarus, which is set to begin on Thursday and continue through September 20.

Moscow has said that only 12,700 troops will participate in the military exercise, but Western officials, echoing allegations by the right-wing nationalist regimes in Ukraine and the Baltics, have issued hysterical and unfounded statements predicting that some 100,000 will be involved, casting the maneuvers as a potential preparation for invasion.

Typical was the reaction of Britain’s Defense Minister Michael Fallon, who told the BBC: “This is the biggest exercise I think for four years, over 100,000 Russian and Belorussian troops now on NATO’s border. This is designed to provoke us, it’s designed to test our defenses, and that’s why we have to be strong.”

Such claims turn reality on its head. For the past quarter century, since the Moscow Stalinist bureaucracy’s dissolution of the Soviet Union, the US and NATO have steadily advanced on Russia’s borders, seeking to militarily encircle the country, while orchestrating regime change operations aimed at installing pro-Western governments in various former Soviet republics. Its ultimate aim is the dismemberment of the Russian Federation and its transformation into a semi-colony.

While there is nothing progressive about Moscow’s flexing of its military muscles, the fact is that Russia’s major troop mobilizations are taking place on its own territory, while under the banner of NATO, the Pentagon has deployed warplanes and paratroopers on Russia’s borders.

The dueling war games in Eastern Europe constitute a serious warning. After 16 years of uninterrupted—and unsuccessful—wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan, US imperialism is increasingly shifting its focus toward preparation for military confrontation with its major geo-strategic rivals, in particular Russia and China, threatening humanity with a nuclear third world war.

The potential fuses to ignite such a powder keg stretch from Syria to North Korea, the South China Sea and Ukraine and the Baltics.

The simultaneous war games themselves hold the potential of inadvertently triggering a military confrontation.

“With two major exercises at the same time, there is always a risk for incidents,” a former Swedish army officer and Russian military expert, Joergen Elfving, told Sweden’s SR International radio.

“The Baltic Sea area will be filled with military activity more than usual for a very long time.”

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Hearing 9/11 Case At Last?

Crime and Punishment: Will the 9/11 case finally go to trial?

by Andrew Cockburn - Harper's Blog

September 10. 2017

Meeting with the leaders of NATO countries in May, President Trump chastised them sternly for their shortcomings as allies. He took the time, however, to make respectful reference to the ruler of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, whom he had just visited at the start of his first overseas trip as president.

“I spent much time with King Salman,” he told the glum-looking cluster of Europeans, calling him “a wise man who wants to see things get much better rapidly.”

Some might find this fulsome description surprising, given widespread reports that Salman, who took the throne in January 2015, suffers from dementia.

Generally seen wearing a puzzled look, the king has been known to wander off in the middle of conversations, as he reportedly did once while talking with President Obama. When speaking in public, he depends on fast-typing aides whose prompts appear on a discreetly concealed monitor.

Whatever wisdom Trump absorbed from his elderly royal friend, the primary purpose of his trip to Riyadh, according to a former senior U.S. official briefed on the proceedings, was cash — both in arms sales and investments in crumbling American infrastructure, such as highways, bridges, and tunnels.

The Trump Administration is “desperate for Saudi money, especially infrastructure investments in the Rust Belt,” the former official told me. An influx of Saudi dollars could generate jobs and thus redound to Trump’s political benefit.

As a cynical douceur, the Saudis, derided by Trump during his campaign as “people that kill women and treat women horribly,” joined the United Arab Emirates in pledging $100 million for a women’s-empowerment initiative spearheaded by Ivanka Trump. A joyful president took part in the traditional sword dance and then helped launch a Saudi center for “combating extremism.”

This was not the first time the Saudis had dangled the prospect of massive investments to leverage U.S. support.

“Mohammad bin Salman made the same pitch to the Obama people,” the former official told me. “‘We’re going to invest all this money here, you’re going to be our great economic partner, etc.’ Because the Trump Administration doesn’t know much about foreign affairs, they were really seduced by this.”

The president certainly viewed the visit as a huge success.

“We made and saved the U.S.A. many billions of dollars and millions of jobs,” he tweeted as he left Saudi Arabia. 

The White House soon trumpeted $110 billion in weapons sales and billions more in infrastructure investments, with the total purportedly rising to $350 billion.

Yet amid the sword dances and flattery, a shadow lingered over the occasion: 9/11. After years of glacial legal progress, the momentous charge that our Saudi allies enabled and supported the most devastating act of mass murder on American soil may now be coming to a resolution. Thanks to a combination of court decisions, congressional action, and the disclosure of long-sequestered government records, it appears increasingly likely that our supposed friend and peerless weapons customer will finally face its accusers in court.

See Harper's source for full article here...

DSEI Arms Fair: Resisting the Masters of War-Profiteering in London

Photos: Festival of Resistance Against the DSEI Arms Fair in London’s Docklands, Sept. 9, 2017 

by Andy Worthington


against the DSEI arms fair on Flickr here!

Yesterday (September 9, 2017), the Campaign Against Arms Trade and Stop the Arms Fair organised a Festival of Resistance against the bi-annual international arms fair that takes place in London’s Docklands at the ExCeL exhibition centre, which I visited, played at, and took photos of. See my photos here.

This UK government-backed orgy of trade in weapons of war and weapons of mass destruction tries to disguise itself by calling itself DSEI (Defence and Security Equipment International), but anyone perceptive can see through the PR-speak. As the festival’s Facebook page explains,

“As one of the world’s largest arms fairs, DSEI brings together over 1,500 arms companies and military delegations from over 100 countries. On display will be everything from crowd control equipment to machine guns, tanks, drones and even battleships.”

Countries invited to take part, all with dire human rights records, include Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The resistance to the DSEI has involved protests all week in advance of the arms fair itself, which runs from September 12-15. Throughout the week, dozens of protestors were arrested stopping arms-laden vehicles arriving at ExCeL, and this pattern continued during the festival, as protestors locked on to each other in the road or locked on to vehicles. Protests are also continuing throughout the coming week — see here for further details.

My band The Four Fathers played at the festival, along with other performers (the Commie Faggots and the Strawberry Thieves Socialist Choir, to name just two), and I was honoured to have been able to take part. I can think of few things more exhilarating than playing a cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘Masters of War’ as an arms-laden lorry drives up, protestors block its passage, the police start swarming, and a helicopter swoops down low and menacing. Despite the moments of tension, there was, in general, a very positive atmosphere all day, with hundreds of activists of all ages and from all walks of life taking the time to protest against the disgusting and disgraceful international arms trade, and its facilitators here in the UK.

Unfortunately, although the passion on display yesterday reminded me of how, at heart, much of my activism is directed against war, and not just, as my work on Guantánamo has demonstrated over the last eleven and a half years, on illegal imprisonment and torture, it’s sadly true that the mainstream media in this country generally walks hand-in-hand with the government and the establishment as a whole when it comes to supporting our disgusting involvement in the international arms trade, and our general bellicosity and warmongering. Why else would Jeremy Corbyn — a lifelong CND member and opponent of the insanely expensive and ethically unacceptable Trident nuclear missile programme — have attracted so much hostility from the establishment as a whole after his election as Labour leader in September 2015?

Most of the British establishment supports Trident, and supports the arms trade, despite our business clearly contributing to murder and torture in the countries mentioned above, and in numerous other countries that are serial abusers of human rights.

As a timely article in the Guardian yesterday, ‘British arms sales to repressive regimes soar to £5bn since election’, explained, Campaign Against Arms Trade “found that of the 49 countries that are classed as ‘not free’ by Freedom House, the independent organisation that promotes democracy, 36 have bought British-made weapons under the current government.”

As the Guardian article proceeded to explain:

Since 2015, Saudi Arabia has agreed orders for more than £3.75bn worth of British defence equipment – mainly bombs and fighter aircraft – up from £160m in the 22 months leading up to the election. Even when Saudi’s massive order book is stripped out, arms exports to repressive regimes have almost doubled since the Tory government was elected: orders to such countries, excluding Saudi, amount to almost £1.2bn, compared with £680m in the 22 months before the election.

Among the major buyers were: Algeria, which agreed a military helicopter deal in September 2015, worth £195m; Qatar, which is buying military support aircraft worth £120m; and China, which is subject to an arms embargo. Despite the embargo, the UK agreed a £16m deal to export components for military radar. One notable new customer is Azerbaijan, which bought £500,000 of “targeting equipment.”

As the Guardian also explained, following the Brexit referendum last June, “the Defence & Security Organisation, the government body that promotes arms manufacturers to overseas buyers, was moved from UK Trade & Investment to the Department for International Trade,” where, soon after, the international trade secretary, Liam Fox (a corrupt right-wing fanatic so untrustworthy that he had to resign as defence secretary under David Cameron, after it was revealed that he had given his friend, the lobbyist Adam Werritty, inappropriate access to the MoD and had allowed him to join official British government trips abroad), would “spearhead the push to promote the country’s military and security industries exports.”

The Guardian described how “charities and other organisations that campaign against the arms trade fear that a post-Brexit Britain will see an increase in weapons sold to countries with poor human rights records,” and this is indeed what can be expected to happen without concerted action to prevent it — by, most logically, everyone with a shred of decency working assiduously to prevent Brexit from happening.

Speaking to the Guardian, Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said, “The UK has consistently armed many of the most brutal and authoritarian regimes in the world, and a number have been invited to London to buy weapons. These arms sales aren’t morally neutral, they are a clear sign of political and military support for the regimes they are being sold to. The government has played an absolutely central role, and has consistently put arms exports to despots and dictators ahead of human rights.”

For further coverage — proving an exception to the general desert of coverage, in both the broadcast and print media — see ‘Bahrain is buying arms in London – and my family is paying the price’ by Bahraini activist Sayed Alwadaei, who spoke at the event yesterday, and this Guardian article last week as the protests began.

Also see the album here

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose music is available via Bandcamp).

He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Countdown to Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2016), the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and The Complete Guantánamo Files, an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.