Saturday, April 29, 2017

Slow Saturday Special: Globe Advocates Regime Change in Venezuela

"As Venezuela slips into chaos, US should consider sanctions  |  April 28, 2017

President Trump’s instinctive isolationism is meeting its first regional test in Venezuela, as the crisis in the once-wealthy South American country continues to worsen. Civil unrest has entered its fifth week, and shows no signs of abating; protesters have taken to the streets after the economy contracted 15 percent last year, according to figures by the International Monetary Fund. Unemployment is more than 25 percent, and inflation a massive 720 percent this year.

To be sure, the history of heavy-handed American interventions in Latin America (including Venezuela) makes anything that looks like American inteference fraught. Still, this is no time for America to walk away. As a humanitarian matter, the suffering in Venezuela is unacceptable. 

The reason for regime change: humanitarian. Can't argue with that.

And where after that? What about the places where AmeriKa is causing the suffering? Like Yemen.

And the United States has geopolitical reasons to prevent a nation of 31 million from sliding into total chaos. A stable Venezuela would leave it less vulnerable to other international powers, particularly Russia, which already has moved in with a strategic financial deal involving Citgo, the state-run oil company that accounts for much of Venezuela’s diminishing wealth.

Honestly, the Globe seemed to care a hell of a lot more about the sign than the people of Venezuela.

The country’s crisis has its roots in the late President Hugo Chávez’s own brand of socialism: an overreliance on oil exports, excessive social spending, price and currency controls, and state regulations. 

I didn't known Chavez was Saudi Arabian.

President Nicolás Maduro assumed office four years ago after Chávez died, continuing his damaging economic policies while supressing the opposition.The results are staggering. Over the past year, nearly 75 percent of Venezuelans lost an average of 19 pounds each. The infant mortality rate has alarmingly risen in the past few years to 18.6 per 1,000 live births — above Syria’s rate of 15.4. It is estimated that around 85 percent of medical supplies are simply unavailable.

Remember when the CIA made Chile's economy scream (and I am about to based on what is in that obituary)? And now there is a Trump connection (Globe put that out quick but couldn't bury it)?

That has sent Venezuelans to the streets, in protests that have been bloodier and more furious than a previous round of unrest in 2014. In confrontations with government forces armed with tear gas and rubber bullets, nearly 30 people have been killed, more than 400 injured, and 1,300 arrested. In the latest political development, Maduro announced Venezuela would withdraw from the Organization of American States, a regional group that has been calling for a special meeting to assess the crisis and denouncing the socialist government’s actions, like its refusal to schedule delayed elections for state governors or release political prisoners (which include an American citizen.)

 It’s a quintessential tantrum from Maduro, who also blames the United States for the protests. Yet that style of anti-American rhetoric seems to have lost some of its bite. “Most observers, except the true ideologues, would recognize that the US has not wrecked Venezuela, Chavistas have,” said Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Americas Society/Council of the Americas, a New York-based think tank. “The US has actually kept it afloat by purchasing Venezuelan oil.”

You know, the Globe really makes you think.

Btw, do you know who the founders and directors are? 

You couldn't get more corporate or globalist. Did you see the list of board members?

Venezuela is also drawing support from Russia, which recently loaned the cash-strapped government $1.5 billion, with nearly 50 percent of Citgo used as a collateral for the loan. The move alarmed US lawmakers, who wrote a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, warning the Russians could suddenly become the second-largest foreign owner of US domestic refinery capacity.

Yeah, there is the BIG RUB and now you know why the Globe is calling for regime change!

Of course, they had no problem with Hillary Clinton transferring 1/5 of the U.S. uranium stock to Russia while Bill Clinton was accepting money for speeches and loot was pouring into the Foundation. Of course, if Hillary had won there would be none of this Russia influenced the election sh**.

To prevent that outcome, and to ease the political and humanitarian crisis, the United States should consider broadening financial sanctions on Venezuelan officials until the regime holds elections and ends its repressive tactics. (The Obama administration sanctioned several Venezuelan military officials accused of human rights abuses in 2015.) For all the government’s socialist rhetoric, many of Maduro’s officials seem to be quite fond of their Miami homes and bank accounts. There may be no more direct way of gaining the attention of the individuals who are prolonging Venezuela’s crisis.

How are sanctions going to help? They never hurt the elites of the target country!


Related: Trump Turns on NAFTA

Picking things up from there:

US seeks tough North Korea action, but China shows no inclination

Did they fire off a missile or not?

It's not a good sign if "the Trump administration feels it is running out of time."

"President Trump wraps up his first 100 days" Globe Wire Services  April 29, 2017

On the eve of his 100th day in office, President Trump signed an executive order that aims to expand offshore drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, received news of weak economic growth in the first quarter of the year, and promised members of the National Rifle Association he would ‘‘never infringe on the right of the people to bear arms.’’

New figures out Friday showed that the US economy turned in the weakest performance in three years in the January-March quarter as consumers sharply slowed their spending.

SeeOof, that’s a bad GDP number 

Globe taking glee in it?

In Congress, lawmakers voted overwhelmingly Friday to keep federal agencies open for another week, defying Trump’s desire for action on both a border wall and health care legislation by focusing on what lawmakers viewed as the greater priority: avoiding a government shutdown.

Lawmakers planned to work through the weekend to finalize a longer-term deal that would fund the government through the end of the fiscal year in September.


"Trump and defense hawks have procured a $15 billion infusion for the Pentagon and funds for other border security accounts such as detention beds for people entering the country illegally...."

At least the Pentagon got their health taken care of, 'eh?

Amid the flurry of activity in the lead-up to the 100-day mark, the administration has also released a tax plan and made and then rescinded a threat to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement.

With his appearance before the NRA, Trump marked the coming 100-day milestone in much the same way he has governed in the early stages of his presidency: by appealing to his base.

Who doesn't? Cheap constituents he can throw red meat to before he backtracks out of the hall.

The NRA claims 5 million members, including many white rural voters, a demographic that helped tip the Electoral College in Trump’s favor.

Trump, the first sitting president to address the NRA since Ronald Reagan, delivered a fiery speech in which he recounted his election victory and early actions from his administration that are friendly to the gun rights group, and he promised there would be more to come.

‘‘You came through big for me, and I am going to come through for you,’’ Trump told thousands of members attending the NRA’s annual convention. ‘‘The eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end. You have a true friend and champion in the White House.’’

Until the next mass shooting.

The president was received as a hero, in part for successfully installing a conservative Supreme Court justice, Neil Gorsuch, seen as a likely protector of gun rights.

Trump has also previously signed legislation that reversed an Obama-era rule that would have required the Social Security Administration to provide information about mentally ill people for background checks on gun purchases.

Trump treated the gun convention like a political rally, joyfully recalling his election victory and mocking the journalists and Democrats who were confident that he would lose.

“Remember, they said there is no path to 270,” he said, referring to the number of electoral votes a candidate needs to win the presidency. “There is no route — there is no route to 270. We ended up with 306.”

He brashly predicted that he would have no problem dispatching any rival during a 2020 reelection campaign, suggesting at one point that Democrats might nominate Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. He referred to her as he did during the campaign, derisively calling her Pocahontas, a reference to claims she once made about being part Native American.

“It may be Pocahontas, remember that,” he said, prompting laughter in the cavernous room. “She is not big for the NRA, that I can tell you.”

Honestly, I don't see anyone out there capable of unseating him, but who knows what script we will be sold four years from now.

Before the president’s arrival, attendees watched hours of videos assailing Obama, Democrats, and anyone who has advocated gun control measures.

Leaders of the NRA heaped praise on Trump. Chris Cox, executive director of the group’s political and lobbying arm, called Trump the “most proudly pro-gun presidential candidate” in history and accused the news media of lying about the number of people who watched Trump’s inauguration.

“The only number that mattered was the number who watched Hillary Clinton’s inauguration — zero!” Cox said....

She was at Trumps.

The rest of the article gives the gun control groups equal time.


RelatedThe week that was

"NSA halts controversial e-mail collection practice to preserve larger surveillance program" by Ellen Nakashima Washington Post  April 29, 2017

WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency has ended a controversial surveillance practice of collecting e-mail traffic merely because it contains the e-mail address or phone number of a foreign target, a procedure that greatly increased the chances that purely domestic communications would be gathered.

Yeah, it is something like 6 degrees of connection that ends up sweeping up millions of people.

The agency agreed to end the ‘‘about the target’’ collection to win approval from a federal court to continue a major surveillance program known colloquially as ‘‘Section 702’’ of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

That’s a reference to part of a statute — the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 — that allows the NSA to gather from US telecommunications and Internet providers the e-mails, phone calls, text messages, and other electronic communications that could contain foreign intelligence.

Well, then, they would have all of Clinton's stuff.

The ‘‘about’’ collection came to public light as one of a series of disclosures in 2013 by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Those revelations sparked months of national and international debate about the proper scope of government surveillance.

Notice how Snowden, the Obama spying on other heads of state (forget about collecting all your data), and the bugging of the Trump campaign has receded down the memory hole abyss of the ma$$ media?

The ‘‘about’’ surveillance was the most problematic part of the ‘‘upstream’’ collection portion of Section 702, in which the agency gathers e-mails and text messages from telecom companies that own the infrastructure making up the backbone of the Internet. Upstream collection is a comparatively small part of overall 702 collection. One estimate by the surveillance court in 2011 put it at about 9 percent. Even so, it could result in ‘‘a large overall number of purely domestic’’ communications, a privacy oversight board concluded in 2014.

9 percent is not that small considering the number of people we are talking about.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in 2011 found that the way the agency was conducting its upstream program violated the Constitution. The NSA proposed changes, which the court approved, allowing the ‘‘about’’ collection to continue.

Okay, that's Obama and that's a crime!

But the NSA discovered last year that some analysts were querying the upstream data in violation of the rules. It reported the incidents to Congress and the surveillance court. The court issued two extensions as the NSA worked to fix the problems. Then on Wednesday, the court approved the agency’s proposed new rules to address the issue.

Looking for dirt to blackmail?

‘‘After considerable evaluation of the program and available technology, NSA has decided that its Section 702 foreign intelligence surveillance activities will no longer include any upstream Internet communications that are solely ‘‘about’’ a foreign intelligence target,’’ the agency said in a statement Friday. Instead, the NSA said, it will limit its collection to communications that are sent directly to or from a foreign target.


What an incredibly well-crafted piece of deception by the Washington Post. The telecoms, and thus the government, will still be collecting all your data. The article makes it seem like they won't be.