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Chris Spannos for ZNet
US Media Intensifies Campaign Against Chavez
By Eva Golinger
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Eva Golinger's ZSpace Page
As election time approaches in Venezuela, international media increase negative coverage of the South American nation. CNN applauds terrorism against Venezuela, while Fox News accuses the Chavez government of terrorism.
The bombardment of negative, false, distorted and manipulated news about Venezuela in US media has increased in volume and intensity during the last few days. Venezuela is subjected to this phenomenon every time an electoral process nears. This international media campaign against the government of Hugo Chavez appears to have a clear and coordinated objective: removing the Venezuelan President from power.
During the last eight years, those pursuing this same objective have promoted, and attempted to justify, coup d’etats, economic sabotages, terrorist acts, assassination attempts, electoral interventions, psychological warfare and a disproportionate increase in US military presence in the region – all with the goal of ousting President Chavez. And to achieve this objective – which every year seems attainable to the powers that be – millions and millions of US taxpayer dollars are channeled by US agencies into political parties, campaigns, candidates and organizations that oppose Chavez.
International media also do their part. With sensationalist headlines and slanted reports, mass media try to condition public opinion to believe any action or aggression against Venezuela will be necessary to remove the “evil” Chavez from power.
According to The Economist, “Venezuela has the worst economy in the world”, despite the fact the data cited by the financial magazine doesn’t match up. The New York Times, which sets the news standard for press worldwide, erroneously and dangerously headlined two weeks ago, “Venezuela is more lethal than Iraq”.
“Venezuela has the highest homicide rate in the hemisphere”, claimed Newsweek, falsely adding, “Chavez’s popularity has fallen off a cliff”.
To these media, it doesn’t matter that Venezuela’s economy is actually on an upward rise, despite the world financial crisis, or that while Caracas certainly has crime – and homicides – there is absolutely no comparison to the millions killed in Iraq at the hands of the US war machine.
And if a 54% popularity rate (per the latest national polls) means President Chavez’s popularity has “fallen off a cliff”, well then, where does that put President Obama’s “best” rate at 47%?
Regarding coverage of Venezuela, television is even worse. Two weeks ago, CNN International premiered a docu-report titled “The Guardians of Chavez”, during which the international network falsely associated armed groups, criminals, terrorists and paramilitary forces with the Venezuelan government.
On Monday, September 13, just one and a half weeks before the upcoming legislative elections in Venezuela, CNN en Español’s primetime anchor, Patricia Janiot, conducted a live interview with an escaped convict from Venezuela, who just two years earlier had been tried and sentenced for terrorism.
In a clear showing of yellow journalism, Janiot referred to the terrorist fugitive as a “political prisoner” and “student persecuted” by the Chavez government. The escaped convict, Raul Diaz Peña, was sentenced in 2008 after a lengthy trial proving his guilt as one of the material authors of a terrorist attack with C4 explosives against the embassies of Colombia and Spain that took place February 25, 2003 in Caracas.
Diaz Peña escaped from his Venezuelan jail cell on September 5 and after arriving in a commercial airliner at the Miami International Airport, was somehow able to easily enter the US, despite his status as a convicted terrorist and fugitive from justice.
A mere week after his US arrival, CNN broadcast him in prime time.
“How many other students are political prisoners in Venezuela”, Janiot asked of the terrorist. “Were you tortured”, she inquired, with concern in her voice. At the end of the interview, the stellar journalist of the US network wished the fugitive terrorist “good luck”, lauding him for escaping Chavez’s “terrible dictatorship”.
It’s a wonder that an international television network can conduct a live interview with a convicted, fugitive terrorist, and wish him “good luck” in public, without a concern for any kind of consequence. But this type of irony is only possible when it comes to US media treatment of Venezuela.
According to CNN, in the case of Venezuela, terrorists are “political prisoners” and fugitives from justice are “immigrants”.
Two days after CNN’s flagrantly offensive interview with Venezuelan fugitive terrorist Raul Diaz Peña, which openly validated and approved the use of terror in Venezuela, Fox News headlined “Venezuela cancels roundtrip ‘Terror Flight’ to Syria and Iran”.
In the report, which also ran on its website, the US network claimed Venezuela was one of “the world’s most terror-friendly nations”, along with Syria and Iran.
Regarding a legitimate flight route conducted by a Venezuelan airline, Conviasa, between Caracas-Damascus-Tehran, Fox falsely sustained, “the flight would carry illicit, lethal cargoes -- such as explosives and possibly radioactive materials -- and provide safe passage to terrorists, spies, weapons experts, senior Iranian intelligence operatives and members of both Hezbollah and Hamas”.
The source? “Western intelligence agencies, Venezuelan opposition figures and a former Iran-based spy for the CIA”. Sounds convincing.
The dangerous and intentionally erroneous Fox News report, which attempts to link Venezuela to international terrorism (ironically while CNN welcomes Venezuelan terrorists, Fox accuses the Venezuelan government of terrorism), went on to further accuse the Venezuelan government of facilitating terrorism against the United States:
“Reza Kahlili, the pseudonym for an Iranian who the CIA has confirmed once spied for the United States as a member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, told FoxNews.com these ‘special flights’ have been ‘instrumental in creating an Iranian dominated worldwide terror network that now reaches the United States.’ He said the flights were used to expand Iran’s efforts to create a base of operations in the Western Hemisphere”.
But right after that false accusation, Fox News discredited its own report, when a prime source admitted he didn’t really have any evidence to prove his claims:
“Peter Brookes, a former Defense Department analyst and CIA employee now with the Heritage Foundation, said there was a steady stream of elite Al Quds officers from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard who were transported to Venezuela aboard the flight and took up positions in the Latin American country’s intelligence service. ‘We can’t say for sure what is going on, but it is clandestine and secretive’, he said”.
In the final stretch before the September 26 legislative elections, media attacks against Venezuela continue to intensify.
Last week, in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Pais, Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano summed up the media campaign against Venezuela: “There is a process of demonization against Chavez…It’s scandalous that today, every minute, three million dollars are spent on military affairs. And that requires enemies. In the theater of good and evil, at times those concepts are inter-changeable, as with Saddam Hussein, a saint of the West who was converted into Satan”.
London Calling As The Economy Hovers On The Edge And Scholars Debate War And Terrorism
By Danny Schechter
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Danny Schechter's ZSpace Page
LONDON: The British Capital pretty much looked like it did the last time I was here except for all the closed stores and businesses I passed on the way to the War and Media Conference that brought me here.
I am not sure what it will look like the next time I come because the new Tory government is preparing to slash 40% of public funding in an austerity move which is certain to destroy thousands of jobs and inflict pain on the poor and middle class.
My friend Bill Bowles is afraid his pension might be trimmed along with his “freedom card” which gives folks over 65 free access to local transportation. (Seniors in New York only get half-fare cards). Given that the government is the country’s number one employer, a 40% cut will be devastating to the economy as well, mimicking that famous Vietnam War saying, “we destroyed the village in order to save it.”
He writes: “By proposing cuts as high as 40% of our social infrastructure, the government might just as well hand out free vials of cyanide to millions of public service workers and then to the thousands of small, medium-sized businesses that get fifty per cent of their business from government according to the BBC.
The economy in the UK is per se the government, period. The rest is consumption and the financial sector and of course the ubiquitous media/propaganda sector. Take away the government as the main investor/employer and the UK has no economy. It's that obvious. The reality is that millions in the middle classes are going to be shoved back into the working poor, on minimum wage and no longer able to drive a consumer-based economy, on credit of course.”
Hearing new talk of class struggle in response to this crisis felt like dejavu all over again as two brothers I knew as kids, (“Red”) Ed and former Foreign Secretary David Miliband (sons of my late London School of Economics professor Ralph Miliband) duke it out in a race for head of the Labor Party which lost the government last time out.
New blood at the top will not necessarily revive an ageing and cynical base.
The unions are a shell of their former selves having shrunk in size and clout like they have in America. I am not sure if their old song about the Red Flag is till sung by the rank and file, but they are staring down a barrel wielded by representatives of another class with no sympathy for their distress.
The unions are warning that Britain is on the edge of a winter of discontent, with job cuts, pay freezes, and a cutback on spending pictured as a “reckless and explosive” mixture that will do “irreparable damage.”
This will be the new Battle of Britain. Whether or not Labor can win it remains to be seen but as local authorities consider proposals to cut the street lights to save money plunging Britain back into the dark days of the Blitz, a reaction is coming. International agencies like the IMF warn that growing debt demands cuts but who will pay is always the issue.
And so, a crunch is coming. Will there be a repeat of Maggie Thatcher’s vicious attack on the miners that broke the back of union militancy in the l970’s?
Already the bankers here are threatening to pick up and leave if tough rules are imposed while a new agency set up to combat financial crimes may not survive its birth pangs.
Meanwhile the darling of New Labor, Tony Blair, is laughing all the way to the bank thanks to the sales of his new autobiography defending his support for the Iraq War. (Even as protesters chased him out of two venues he was to have held book -signing parties including the Tate Modern Museum!)
A newspaper reports that he is spending more time tending to his new “business interests’ in the Middle East while putting up in super expensive, super luxury suites at the best hotel in Abu rDhabi. That hotel has a vending machine that, get this, dispenses gold bars. The former PM now has a bigger staff than he had when was in office and is cashing in without regrets.
Tony’s boosterism of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars has given a new generation something to study about and denounce. And that’s what was happening at the conference I attended on Global Media and the War on Terror.
The speakers including Americans like Todd Gitlin, Toby Miller, Dahr Jamail and myself. Muslim intellectual Tariq Ramadan was a featured speaker and cautioned about even trying to define terrorism, a phrase that means what authorities want it to mean and against whomever they want to target.
Many of the students are offering academic papers on media distortions and inappropriate framing, but few have interviewed media people or dug out revelations. In some ways that information fight has moved to a new terrain, thanks to Wikileaks. It has been reported that British activists are helping prepare a new dump of documents, this time about Iraq. This latest threat to the secret state has the Pentagon in a dither according to this report in the Daily Beast:
“In a nondescript building in suburban Virginia, a team of 120 intelligence analysts and FBI agents work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on the frontlines of the Pentagon's war against WikiLeaks, …The Defense Intelligence Agency's Brig. General Robert A. Carr is in charge of the WikiLeaks War Room, as some staffers call it, and officials say he's a fitting adversary to Assange. Carr's job is to figure out what has been leaked, how it will endanger American troops, and what risk it poses to U.S. foreign policy—plus one other key task: getting inside dirt on WikiLeaks to help the Justice Department potentially prosecute its staff for espionage”
The last Wikileak to fall out of the virtual world was a document about a new group in the armada of U.S. intelligence called the Red Cell Unit which is there to offer a running critique of what the other agencies are finding and do more inventive spying and planning.
A newly released document had them considering what to when people in the world suspect the US is actually supporting terrorists, a belief that can set back the perception management strategies that drive US propaganda efforts.
As it turned out, three members of the US’s Army’s red cell unit showed up at the London conference. One was even a Muslim woman. They were there to learn, not to spy, I was told by one of their very congenial members as he shared his business card and solicited whatever information I wanted to share. He even intimated that I might be invited down to Washington for a little chat. He had been part of the US military unit assigned to guard Sadam on his way to the hangman.
There have been spooks mixing with academics for years—and some morphing into one another-- but I don’t remember such an overt presence at a fairly radical university event like this that began with a speaker denouncing US imperialism. Perhaps there is something else going on. In his new book, David Ray Griffin explains and condemns a new concept from Obama appointee Cass Sunstein who calls for covert "cognitive infiltration" by government agents of organizations the government deems "conspiracist."
I suggested to the organizers that they be invited to present from the stage so we could all learn more from the horse’s mouth, about how the military sees and engineers the issue of war and terrorism.
That’s what we need to know.
News Dissector Danny Schechter is editor of Mediachannel. His new film is Plunder The Crime of Our Time on the financial crisis as a crime story (plunderthecrimeofourtime.com) Comments to Dissector@mediachannel.org
The Life and Legacy of Dr. Ronald Walters
By Ron Daniels
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Ron Daniels's ZSpace Page
By now the World has received the stunning news that our Pre-eminent Political Scientist, scholar-activist extraordinaire and fearless Pan Africanist freedom fighter Dr. Ronald Walters now rests with the ancestors. Friday September 10, 2010 at approximately 7:00 PM, he peacefully made his transition to join the Pantheon of heroes and heroines of the Black Freedom Struggle - a brilliant, quiet, resolute, caring, determined, warm, militant, compassionate, uncompromising, sharing, dedicated, gentle warrior who consistently demonstrated an "undying love for African people." Dr. Ronald Walters was indefatigable in defending and promoting the interests of Black people, a humble Brother who never tired of sharing his knowledge, skill and talent with others working for the liberation of the oppressed.
In the tradition of W.E.B. DuBois, Dr. Walters was an authentic intellectual, an action-oriented theorist who never wavered in his conviction that the lessons learned in the academy must be translated/applied in terms of activism in the community. As one of the founders of the African Heritage Studies Association and proponent of "education for liberation," he believed the academy should be relevant to underserved and disadvantaged communities, particularly the Black community. Therefore, he was a leading member of the National Council of Black Studies and National Conference of Black Political Scientists, organizations dedicated to that vision/mission.
No doubt the commitment to synthesize theory and practice was rooted in his early experiences in Wichita, Kansas where he was born in 1938. A dedication to civil rights was part of the fabric of the Walters family. His mother investigated civil rights complaints for the state government. His father, who was a musician, served in the military at a time when Blacks were confined to segregated units. Though the sit-in protests in Oklahoma City and Greensboro, North Carolina received more attention, in his capacity as President of the local NAACP Youth Council, Dr. Walters actually organized the first successful sit-in at a Drugstore in Wichita in 1958, two years before the protests in Oklahoma City and Greensboro. Hence, as he left to matriculate at Fisk University, he was already a pioneer of the Civil Rights Movement.
After tenures at Syracuse University and Brandeis, Dr. Walters joined the faculty of his beloved Howard University, where he was appointed Chairman of the Political Science Department. He loved Howard as one of the great centers of learning in Black America. This love was also illustrative of his passion and devotion for historical Black colleges and universities as breeding grounds for leaders, artists, activists, organizers and conscious professionals who could potentially comprise the backbone of the socio-economic and political infrastructure of Black America. From the hallowed halls of Howard, his reputation grew as a demanding and inspirational instructor and mentor in the classroom, seminal scholar, analyst, commentator and author on issues of race and politics, and formidable activist on the frontlines of important local, national and international struggles for civil rights/human rights and self-determination for people of African descent.
Perhaps his greatest legacy, however, is as the veritable" Resource" to the movement, especially the quest for Black empowerment in the electoral arena. No one in the past half century contributed more to the evolution, development and maturation of Black electoral power than Dr. Ronald Walters. He was the perennial advisor/counselor to the Congressional Black Caucus and associations of Black elected officials like the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials, the National Conference of Black Mayors, National Conference of Black State Legislators and organizations seeking to impact the electoral political process like the National Coalition for Black Civic Participation. For as long as I can remember, Dr. Walters worked tirelessly to help Black elected officials frame critical issues by providing cogent research and analysis. Equally important, he was relentless in reminding Black elected officials of the duty/obligation to utilize their hard won power to advance the interest of Black people.
No one more than Dr. Ronald Walters hammered home the relevance of "leverage politics" as a time tested vehicle for organized interest groups and constituencies to extract benefits from the American political system. He created a living laboratory for his leverage theory of politics as the Issues Director and principal strategist for Rev. Jesse L. Jackson's electrifying campaign for President in 1984. As a skilled political infighter, at the Democratic Convention Dr. Walters provided a practicum in leverage politics as he almost singlehandedly utilized the strength of the Jackson bloc of delegates to enact major progressive provisions to the Party Platform. In addition, the Jackson forces were able to compel the Party to accept far ranging changes in the rules governing the apportionment of delegates to the Convention. Under his guidance, the Jackson forces also extracted commitments to make the leadership structure more inclusive of the broad based constituencies in the Party. Dr. Walters performed the same role for the Jackson camp at the 1988 Democratic Convention. Rev. Jesse L. Jackson would be the first to concede that Dr. Walters played an instrumental role in making him the historic figure he has become.
Dr. Walters was a "race man" in the most positive sense of the term. As such he selflessly gave of his time, energy and resources to organizations, movements and causes like the 1972 National Black Political Convention in Gary, IN, African Liberation Day Support Committee, National Black Political Assembly, National Black Independent Political Party, Sixth Pan African Congress, National Black Leadership Roundtable, Trans Africa, the Free South Africa Movement, National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America and other efforts, far too numerous to enumerate.
Ron Walters was my friend, a confidante, collaborator and "co-conspirator" on a number of major organization/institution-building projects and initiatives over the years. We became close working together in the National Black Political Assembly after the 1972 National Black Political Convention in Gary. One of my fondest memories is collaborating with Ron and Mtangulizi Sanyika on the "76 Strategy," an Initiative designed to encourage State Senator Julian Bond, Gary Mayor Richard Hatcher, Congressman John Conyers or Congressman Ronald V. Dellums to run for President of the United States as an independent candidate in 1976. During the heyday of the National Black Political Assembly and National Black Independent Political Party, Ron would provide space for us to have critical planning/strategy sessions on campus. And, he would always be there to offer his wisdom and guidance as an engaged participant. Ron convinced me to take the torch and serve as Deputy Campaign Manager for Rev. Jesse for President Campaign in 1988, a move which provided one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
Ron loved to eat and I do too. Back in the day, I remember "coincidentally" bumping into him at the famed Florida Grill near Howard when I would come to town. It seemed like every time I would come to town and stop by the Florida Grill, Ron would pop in. We would sit together, Ron and Ron, plotting strategy to rescue the African peoples of the world. Finally, we just decided when I came to town, I would call and we would meet at the Florida Grill. In recent years it seems that people would constantly confuse the two of us. I would be speaking somewhere and someone would address me as Dr. Walters or someone would offer praises/commendations when it was obvious that they were referring to my "big brother." He said the same used to happen with him. More than once I told him I would gladly trade places if I could have his fame and fortune. He would say, "Watch out now" and burst out laughing!
I was last in Dr. Ronald Walters' presence June 18th when the Institute of the Black World 21st Century launched the Shirley Chisholm Presidential Accountability Commission at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C. His analysis on the need for jobs and an urban policy targeted to depressed communities in Black America was strong and clear as usual - but he appeared somewhat frail and his voice was raspy and weaker than I had noticed before. For some time, Dr. James Turner and I had contemplated the idea of a major IBW sponsored testimonial to honor Dr. Walters as our Pre-eminent Political Scientist. I called Ron early the week following the launch of the Commission to discuss the idea. As one might expect, he initially declined, preferring instead to shine the spotlight on others from the "struggle generation" as he called his contemporaries. But, I persisted and eventually prevailed by persuading him that he had given so much to so many for so long that we owed him a collective debt of gratitude to be expressed through an event that would celebrate his life and legacy as well as challenge us to continue the work. He said, "Okay, I trust you all, do what you want."
That was my last conversation with my friend and Brother. A major goal of the testimonial we were planning was to bring Dr. Ronald Walters home to Howard University to celebrate his life, legacy and contributions. Moreover, our intention was to approach the President of Howard to explore the possibility of Dr. Walters returning as a Distinguished Professor, if only for a semester. We wanted to bring him home to his beloved Howard University. When I reached his devoted wife Pat to discuss his condition, she told me he had just signed a contract to return to Howard! I informed her of our goals for the testimonial, and we shared a tearful moment. It is only fitting that I have just learned that there will be a "Celebration of Life" in memory of Dr. Ronald Walters Sunday, September 19th in the Crampton Auditorium of Howard University - where he will be welcomed home! Hopefully, Howard University will see fit to honor the memory of one of its most distinguished sons with an Endowed Chair. During this year's Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference, we will announce the appointment of Dr. Walters as the Honorary Chairman of the Shirley Chisholm Presidential Accountability Commission. And, with the permission of the family, the Institute of the Black world 21st Century may yet hold a major testimonial to create Dr. Ronald Walters Fellowships to continue his legacy of dedicated, selfless service to African people as a scholar/activist.
We will most assuredly miss our beloved Brother but, we must not tarry long in tearful sorrow. Let the celebration of the life of Dr. Ronald Walters begin ... and continue through the deeds we do in carrying out his commitment to the liberation of African people. Rest well, dear Brother, and guide us with your spirit as we call upon you in libations as our newest ancestor!
Dr. Ron Daniels is President of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century and Distinguished Lecturer at York College City University of New York. His articles and essays also appear on the IBW website www.ibw21.org and www.northstarnews.com . To send a message, arrange media interviews or speaking engagements, Dr. Daniels can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.