Venezuelan Intelligence Thwarts Planned Attack on Government HQ

Source:  TeleSUR

August 16 2017

venezuelan intel thwarts attack.jpg

A security guard stands outside the Central Bank of Venezuela in Caracas. | Photo: Reuters

The plan was said to threaten the safety of President Nicolas Maduro and other government officials.

The Bolivarian National Intelligence Service said Tuesday they had detected and neutralized an assault plan at the headquarters of the Venezuelan government, the Miraflores Palace.

RELATED: 18 Arrested Following Paramilitary Assault on Venezuela Base

The plan was said to threaten the safety of President Nicolas Maduro and other government officials in the capital city of Caracas.

Several messages decoded

Intelligence forces decoded several messages that were sent to plan the attack, which consisted of a series of symbols drawn in the streets of downtown Caracas, which marked the route of the planned attack, according to teleSUR correspondent Madelein Garcia.

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Rex Tillerson wants Maduro out

Operation David

“Operation David” had four phases according to Garcia, the first one was the air attack on the Supreme Court of Justice, where a helicopter from the Venezuela’s Scientific, Penal and Criminal Investigations agency was hijacked in June, firing shots toward the building, followed by two explosions which were said to be grenades, according to official sources.

RELATED: Venezuelan Armed Forces ‘Courageously’ Repel Terrorist Attack: Maduro

The second involved the ground assault on Fort Paramacay, a paramilitary-style terrorist attack carried out recently in the central state of Carabobo, which was immediately defeated by the National Bolivarian Armed Forces.

The third part of the plan included the assisted escape of General Isaias Baduel, who is currently serving a prison sentence for conspiracy. The final phase was to enter Miraflores with the intention of kidnapping President Maduro and senior officials in the government.

As part of this operation, the security forces have captured 18 people, as well as issuing international arrest warrants for nine others. The Venezuelan government said it didn’t rule out that foreign secret agents were operating in the country using that system of symbols.

A New Angle in Abu-Jamal’s Case

Source: Consortiumnews.com

August 12, 2017

The decades-old case of convicted police killer Mumia Abu-Jamal has always centered on whether the legal process was rigged against the black political activist, an argument that has new life, reports Dennis J Bernstein.

By Dennis J Bernstein

A potential new front has opened up in the fight to free Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted of the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. Abu-Jamal has always maintained his innocence and has spent the last 30 plus years trying to prove it.

mumia 5.jpgMumia Abu-Jamal (Flickr 4Ward Ever UK)

Along the way, there have been some victories. First he fought his way off Death Row. Then he fought a battle to get medical care that he was being denied, a situation that sent his health into a dangerous spiral. Now he and his lawyers are citing new information about possible judicial bias that could have a direct impact on the legitimacy of his murder conviction.

Decades of imprisonment

During his decades of imprisonment, Abu-Jamal has continued to practice the art of journalism, crafting well-researched columns on issues of racism, human rights — and doing it, first, from death row then from maximum security lock-down. Sometimes his columns, as Emily Dickinson used to say about a good poem, can take the top of your head off.

Tens of thousands of his supporters are charmed and moved by his Weekly Radio commentaries from prison. Many of his supporters assert that the former public radio reporter, and Black Panther Minister of Information (at 15), is a political prisoner, the victim of arguably one of the most corrupt police departments in the United States.

I spoke recently with Rachel Wolkenstein, an attorney for Mumia Abu-Jamal, about the latest development in this decades old case.

Who is Mumia Abu-Jamal?

Dennis Bernstein: Set this up for us. We are hearing that new information has surfaced. We’d like to get a complete debriefing, but first please remind people briefly who Mumia Abu-Jamal is, in case they haven’t heard about this celebrated case.

Rachel Wolkenstein: Mumia Abu-Jamal is a political prisoner, a “class-war prisoner,” as I consider him. He is a former Black Panther member, a MOVE organization supporter, a radical journalist who was known as “the Voice of the Voiceless.” He was an award-winning radio journalist in Philadelphia in the late 1970s until his arrest on December 9, 1981 in connection with the murder of a police officer. This is a crime that Mumia did not commit and he has always maintained his innocence.

His case has always been racially biased and politically motivated. Mumia was framed by the Philadelphia police department and the prosecution, with help from the Attorney General’s office and the FBI, because he was so outspoken in his defense of the oppressed, particularly the politically oppressed, such as the MOVE organization at that time in Philadelphia. As a teenager he was communications director and journalist for the Black Panther Party. He was known throughout Philadelphia for his beautiful voice and his passionate social and political commentary.

Police department under federal investigation

DB: He was also known throughout Philadelphia by perhaps the most corrupt police department in the nation at that time, a police department and prosecutor’s office that were studied for their corruption and under federal investigation.

RW: That is correct. Frank Rizzo had been the police commissioner. Interestingly, many elements of the federal COINTELPRO program were actually based on things that Rizzo had done. He then became the mayor of Philadelphia and organized the raids on the Black Panthers when Mumia was a member and a spokesman for the Party. You are absolutely correct, the efforts to have him exterminated were very clearly orchestrated by the FBI.

Mumia’s ability to speak out in advocacy

One of the early things I worked on with my colleagues from the Partisan Defense Committee at that time was obtaining Mumia’s COINTELPRO records, which showed that they had a dossier on him when he was just 15 years old, in the late ‘sixties. There they said, in effect, despite his young years, he should be on the ADEX file (a list of who the FBI felt should be rounded up and put into concentration camps if there was any political turmoil in the country). They said Mumia belonged on that list because of his ability to speak out in advocacy.

Mumia went to Chicago to witness the murders that had been committed by the FBI and the Chicago police and to speak about what was happening. He was featured in a front-page story in the Philadelphia Inquirer, which described this young man who was speaking out in defense of the Panthers and against police brutality. The cops in Philadelphia knew who he was and they were tracking him.

When the MOVE commune was surrounded and attacked in 1978 and when, in the aftermath, Delbert Africa, a former Panther, was beaten on the street (in the first televised police beating in the country), Mumia again spoke in defense of the MOVE members and against the attack. He was also specifically targeted by Rizzo and by Edward Rendell [former Philadelphia District Attorney who oversaw Mumia’s prosecution], who I consider to be directly responsible for the frame-up of Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Trying to silence his voice

So there is a long history there of knowing who Mumia was, targeting him, trying to silence his voice and ultimately to murder him. What happened on the night of December 9, 1981 was that Mumia came across a police altercation in the street. He was driving a cab at that point because he had been drummed out of mainstream news reporting for his defense of the MOVE organization. In the midst of a purported shoot-out, a police officer named Daniel Faulkner was shot and killed. The chief inspector arrived on the scene, a guy named [Alfonzo] Giordano, who had been Rizzo’s right-hand man a few years earlier and who was also under investigation for corruption and being on the take.

The conscious frame-up of Mumia

Giordano knew very well who they had found on the street that night and he began the conscious frame-up of Mumia. They claimed that Mumia confessed that night, they said that Mumia’s gun was found on the scene and that it was the murder weapon. They brought forward two witnesses, one a prostitute who was actually doing tricks for the cops and working as an informant so she could do her work on the streets. The other witness was a cab driver who we later learned was coerced into testifying against Mumia.

I should say that I have been working with Mumia for thirty years now and I was involved in a major investigation during his post-trial hearings in Philadelphia from 1995 through 1999. There we brought out an enormous amount of concrete evidence of prosecutorial and police misconduct in the frame-up of Mumia for a crime he did not commit.

New evidence

DB: Obviously, Mumia was someone who was way ahead of his time, taking on the issue of police violence long before most people had any sense of how systematic this was. So there is apparently new information, new evidence in the case. Tell us about that.

RW: Well, about a year ago, a very important case was decided by the United States Supreme Court. It involved the fact that one of the justices who became the Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Ronald Castille, had been the prosecutor in Philadelphia, following Rendell as the chief DA.

He had been a DA and ran on a law-and-order platform, and was endorsed and received major funding from the Fraternal Order of Police. Nonetheless, when he became a Philadelphia Supreme Court justice he sat and ruled on a number of cases, including Mumia’s case, despite requests for him to remove himself on grounds of bias and conflict of interest.

A conflict of interest and a denial of a fair and impartial appeal process

About a year ago, in a different case, after many attempts to get a ruling, it was found that it is a conflict of interest and a denial of a fair and impartial appeal process to allow a judge to sit who had previously been personally involved in a significant fashion in the earlier prosecution of the same case. Basically, it required all the appeals that that judge had sat on and that had been negatively decided against the defendant to be thrown out and to be able to start over again.

Based on this ruling, Mumia’s lawyers brought an action last August to challenge Mumia’s appeals, because Castille was the district attorney who was in charge of all the appeal issues on Mumia’s case at the time that dealt with his Black Panther membership, the rigging of the jury selection to keep blacks off the jury, and various other issues. In all significant issues of Mumia’s case, Castille was the person who argued the decisions should be upheld.

Statues of Lady Justice can be found around the world, this one atop London’s Old Bailey courthouse.

Violation of a fundamental precept

When Castille became a supreme court justice, he had already been the architect of all the DA’s support of Mumia’s conviction. During the period of my involvement in the case, and with all the challenges to Mumia’s conviction that began in 1995 and went on through 2008, Castille refused to removed himself from the case and instead ruled against Mumia in each of these cases. The argument is now being made that Castille violated the fundamental precept that as a prosecutor involved in the case he should never have sat as a judge.

So now Mumia’s case in court has finally gotten some arguments. The DA’s office tried to get it thrown out on grounds that it was brought too late and didn’t apply anymore. The judge ruled that it did in fact apply and that the case should go forward. Then it became an issue of the DA’s office being ordered to come forward with evidence that shows Castille’s involvement. They have been noncompliant with the order and recalcitrant in not providing real information, no record of his involvement in Mumia’s case.

This in spite of Castille’s statements in his supreme court run that he took personal involvement in these appeals, particularly appeals to the US Supreme Court. So Mumia filed another motion for the DA’s office to comply and search their records again and they came up with one paragraph saying, “Well, we had two people going through 31 boxes looking for this and that.” But there is no mention whether they went through Castille’s files as DA or his chief assistant’s files.

Concealing information

Also, one of the people at the DA who has been working on Mumia’s appeals since 1986 and has been in the courtroom through all these hearings during the ‘90’s was personally appointed by Castille to be in charge of the appeals division. He is actually arguing the case on behalf of the DA’s office now. He is still working on the case thirty years later. We have nothing indicating what role he played or any statement at all indicating whether he had any consultations with Castille regarding this case.

So they are stonewalling, they are concealing information. And it will continue to take a great deal of political pressure in the form of demonstrations and protests to make it clear to the DA’s office that we are demanding that they finally open up their files.

Dennis J Bernstein is a host of “Flashpoints” on the Pacifica radio network and the author of Special Ed: Voices from a Hidden Classroom. You can access the audio archives at www.flashpoints.net.

More Than 200 Killed in Mudslides in Sierra Leone

Source:  TeleSUR
August 14 2017

The Red Cross said at least 205 bodies had been taken to the central morgue in Freetown.

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People inspect the damage after a mudslide in the mountain town of Regent, Sierra Leone August 14, 2017. | Photo: Reuters

A mudslide has killed more than 200 people on the outskirts of Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown, sweeping away homes and leaving residents desperate for news of missing family members.

RELATED:  WHO to Announce End of Ebola in Liberia, Thanks to Cuba

The Red Cross said at least 205 bodies had been taken to the central morgue in Freetown. Police and military personnel were at the scene in the mountain town of Regent searching for people trapped in the debris.

Mountainside collapsed

Many people living at the foot of Mount Sugar Loaf were asleep when the mountainside collapsed, burying dozens of houses, including two-storey buildings, witnesses said.

Standing in the rain, residents sobbed as they mourned family members and waited for news of those missing. Adama Kamara wept as she described a failed attempt to rescue her 7-week-old child.

“We were inside when we heard the mudslide approaching. I attempted to grab my baby but the mud was too fast. She was covered alive,” said Kamara, who escaped with bruises. She said she was not sure what had happened to her husband.

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Rescue workers remove the rubble after a mudslide in the mountain town of Regent. | Photo: Reuters

A man said he had left early in the morning to buy bread. When he returned, his wife, children, siblings and in-laws were all dead.

The death toll is expected to rise as more bodies are recovered, Red Cross spokesman Abu Bakarr Tarawallie said.

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The disaster is so serious

Vice President Victor Foh told Reuters at the scene: “It is likely that hundreds are lying dead underneath the rubble.” He said a number of illegal buildings had been erected in the area.

“The disaster is so serious that I myself feel broken,” he said. “We’re trying to cordon the area. Evacuate the people.”

An excavator plowed away at the mountainside and ambulances rushed back and forth to the city center with bodies and wounded, but rescue efforts were hampered by bad roads and the weather, a Reuters witness said.

Community chief Fatmata Tarawallie said she had started calling for help at 4 a.m. but that it did not come soon enough.

“Now our community has sunk,” she said.

Mudslides and floods are fairly common during the rainy season in West Africa, where deforestation and poor town planning has put residents at risk.

Ecuador’s President Rejects US Interference in Venezuela

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Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno. | Photo: EFE

Source:  TeleSUR

August 15 2017

“We express our respect for the self-determination of nations and of non-interference,” said Moreno.

Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno called for respect of the principle of non-interference in the sovereign affairs of other states, in relation to threats issued by the United States against Venezuela.

RELATED: Ecuador Demands Respect for Venezuela’s Sovereignty

“We express our respect for the self-determination of nations and of non-interference,” said Moreno Monday during the televised address he gives every week.

Moreno’s words follow a threat made Friday by U.S. President Donald Trump that the country was exploring “many options regarding Venezuela, including a possible military option if necessary.”

Dialogue

For his part, Moreno said that “the sustenance of democracy is dialogue,” reiterating calls made to the opposition by the government of President Nicolas Maduro for dialogue, with the intention of maintaining peace in the country.

Maduro has repeatedly called on the opposition to engage in dialogue with the government in order to reach a peaceful solution to the situation in the country, but some sectors of the opposition have instead insisted on violent street protests.

RELATED: The World Reacts to Trump’s Military Threat Against Venezuela

Deep solidarity

Moreno expressed his deep solidarity with the Venezuelan people, lamenting the deaths of more than 120 people during opposition protests.

“Our deepest wish is that soon (Venezuela) will attain peace and that not one more drop of blood is spilt,” he said in the message.

Above ideology

“Above all rights, above any ideology, life is sacred and untouchable,” he concluded.

Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry had previously criticized Trump’s military threat in Venezuela, and rejected “any threat of a possible interference.”

Trump’s announcement also triggered a criticism in other countries in Latin America, including Colombia, as President Juan Manuel Santos said during a meeting with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence he rejected any military interference in Venezuela or any country in the region.

Venezuela Defends ‘the Poor and Powerless’: Barbados Activists

Source:  TeleSUR

August 2 2017

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A supporter of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution prays as she holds a doll depicting former President Hugo Chavez. | Photo: PSUV

Activists from the Caribbean island denounced U.S. attempts to destabilize the Bolivarian Revolution.

Members of the Friends of Venezuela Solidarity Committee (Barbados) and the Caribbean Movement for Peace and Integration on Wednesday announced support for Venezuela against U.S. intervention.

RELATED:  Ecuador Supports Peaceful Dialogue in Venezuela

“We recognized and support the election of the Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly(ANC). We also support this Assembly that embraces a wide cross section of Venezuelan People,” activists said in a joint statement.

They also denounced Venezuela’s right-wing opposition, which is calling for the removal of democratically-elected President Nicolas Maduro, and called on Barbados and other Caribbean countries to support the ANC.

“The peace loving people of Barbados and the Caribbean will protect the Bolivarian Revolution that defends the poor and powerless people of the Americas,” the statement said.

The Bolivarian revolution helps the poor in the region

“This Revolution has created the condition for many Caribbean Countries to deal with our problems of energy, health, education, housing and many other social problems that have affected the poor and powerless in our region.”

Despite the fact that over 8 million people voted in the ANC election held last Sunday in support for a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Venezuela, the U.S. government called the election a “sham” and imposed new sanctions.

The governments of Colombia, Spain, Canada, Argentina and Peru joined Washington in denouncing the vote, while Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Russia and others recognized the ANC as a democratic process.

RELATED:  International Community Rejects Intervention in Venezuela

We will continue to support Venezuela

“Our Movements can see that the Government of the United States of America and its fascist friends are trying very hard to create the condition for a Libya-style intervention in Latin America. We also condemn the Governments of the U.S. and Colombia for interfering with the internal politics in Venezuela,” the activists said.

The groups also mentioned that they are prepared to defend the Bolivarian Revolution, fight against fascism and oppose any U.S. intervention in Venezuela.

“We will also continue to support the Government of Venezuela in the fight against the economic war as well as the media war that have created some problems for the Venezuelan People,” they added.

94% of Brazilians Say Temer Doesn’t Represent the People: Poll

Source:  TeleSUR

August 13 2017

michel temerSenate-imposed Brazilian president Michel Temer. | Photo: Reuters

Some 86 percent of respondents consider the impeachment of democratically-elected President Dilma Rousseff as a clear indicator that democracy is being ignored.

The latest Ipsos poll published by one of Brazil’s most widely read newspapers, State of Sao Paulo, has indicated that democracy is not being respected in the country, showing that the nation is currently being governed by politicians who usurped power, according to Brasil 24/7.

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The poll shows that 86 percent of respondents consider the impeachment of democratically-elected President Dilma Rousseff a clear indicator that the terms of democracy have been systematically ignored in Brazil.

Some 94 percent of respondents consider that the current federal government, led by senate-imposed president Michel Temer does not represent the will of the people.

Published a little more than a year prior to the 2018 presidential election, the poll textually noted that “the wave of negativism contaminates public perception about democracy: only half of the population considers that this is the best system for Brazil, and a third affirms that it is not.”

In an odd twist, the research also showed that while 74 percent of the population is against compulsory voting, just 6 percent of voters feel that they are being properly represented by politicians whom they voted for.

While nine in every 10 voters agreed that Brazil has enough resources to be a first world country, they also concurred that the country is prevented from attaining such status due to “corruption.”

Rupak Patitunda, a researcher who helped coordinate the poll, stated that public opinion clearly illustrates that the type of democracy practiced in Brazil “is not representative,” adding that the “expectation” of this type of government is not adhered to by politicians.

Bribery charge investigation

The poll comes one week after Temer held meetings with 35 representatives of the lower house; lunched with 58 rural caucus members; dined with 100 lower house members renowned for having little influence in the government body, hence, are prone to vote in accordance with those who support their projects; and relieved 10 ministers of their duties for a 24-hour period just to get enough votes in Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies to beat a bribery charge investigation.

From early June to the end of July, Temer’s administration also authorized some US$1.3 billion in parliamentary amendment projects in order to appease lawmakers and secure the votes he needed to beat the bribery charges.

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The people should unite

After a period of sharp political polarization, no less than 88 percent of respondents agreed that “people should unite behind common causes and not fight over political party A and political party B,” for such battles do not address the “real problems” of the country.

The data obtained from the latest Ipsos poll is part of a public opinion project called Brazil Pulse, which has been undertaken since 2005. A total of 1,200 people were questioned in 72 municipalities between July 1 and 14. The margin for error is three percentage points more or less.

Argentina’s Fernandez Claims Primary Victory After Slow Count

Source:  TeleSUR
August 14 2017

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Former Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner announces victory. | Photo: Reuters

Though there has been no official declaration, Fernandez took the stage at a rally around 4:00 a.m. to claim victory as well as criticize the pace of the vote count.

Former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and President Mauricio Macri’s candidate are virtually tied in Argentina’s congressional primaries leading up to the October election.

RELATED: Massive Demonstration in Argentina for Disappeared Activist

With 95.58 percent of votes in Buenos Aires province counted – home to nearly 40 percent of Argentina’s electorate – the ruling party led by Macri’s former Education Minister Esteban Bullrich had captured 34.19 percent while Fernandez was within a whisker with 34.11 percent.

Though there has been no official declaration, Fernandez took the stage at a rally around 4:00 a.m. to claim victory as well as criticize the pace of the vote count.

“I never imagined I would have to ask for forgiveness from all Argentines for this embarrassment,” she said. “It’s an offense to democracy.”

There have been denunciations that the flow of information from the electoral authorities was manipulated, holding back results from poorer, pro-Fernandez areas. such as Santa Fe, home of Kichnerism.

Congressional elections in October

Regardless of the final outcome, the candidates will now face each other in the congressional elections in October, when Argentines will elect one-third of the senate and half the chamber of deputies.

However, no matter how many seats Macri’s ruling coalition picks up come October, Macri will still lack a majority and must build alliances to pass reforms.

Prior to the election, polls showed Fernandez leading Bullrich, with her campaign for senator for the Citizen Unity gaining mass support.

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But, it was Bullrich who took a comfortable lead, early on, before Fernandez posted a late comeback to narrow the gap.

Citizen’s Unity political alliance

Fernandez introduced her Citizen’s Unity political alliance in early July; a movement which aims to form a broad coalition of parties to counter the neoliberalism of Macri’s administration.

Under Macri, economic controls were lifted and social spending slashed, undoing many of the progressive gains made under the Kirchner presidencies of Fernandez and her late husband Nestor Kirchner.

Interior Minister Rogelio Frigerio said that voting throughout the day took place without incident.

“It has been a very quiet and peaceful day, with important voter participation, around 74 percent of the electorate were able to vote,” Frigerio said.