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Sanctions and Assassinations: US Determined to Overthrow Venezuela's Maduro Government

US moves towards sanctions as Venezuela charges coup plot
by Bill Van Auken - WSWS
The US House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved legislation mandating sanctions against Venezuela as officials there presented evidence of US involvement in a plot to bring down the government of President Nicolas Maduro.
 
The bill, passed in a voice vote by the House with only 14 members in opposition, demands that the Obama administration draw up a list of Venezuelan officials allegedly responsible for repression during violent protests that have been organized across the South American country since last February. They would be sanctioned with the freezing of any assets in the US and the denial or revocation of visas.
 
Washington’s step closer toward another blatant imperialist intervention against Venezuela came on the same day that government officials in Caracas publicly presented what they described as evidence of US involvement in a plot by the far-right in Venezuela to overthrow the government and assassinate President Maduro.
 

What's Topp's Secret? How BC's NDP Imploded at the Polls

TOPP SECRET: Was the 2013 Election in British Columbia Rigged?
by Walt McGinnis - PowertothePeople
topp gunIt has been a year since the provincial election in British Columbia and the fog is slowly lifting off well-kept secrets regarding what caused the Adrian Dix campaign to fall apart and astonishingly how he seemed to be the last guy to realize it.

This story is not about the injustice of NDP losing, because one could argue that they are no better than the Liberals, rather it is about the terrible reality that powerful people and public relations firms can change election outcomes and governments, and that the citizens of Canada may have lost their power to stop them. (1)(2)
 
This is a scenario to consider. With the Tar-sands pipelines not built and the Liquid Natural Gas development still in its unsure infancy as well as several scandals like the BC Rail give away, the BC Hydro financial catastrophe on top of the smart meter fiasco all to be kept under control, the election results could not be left to chance. The Liberals looked like the best bet so they were supported by Industry and their lobbyists. And what better way to steer the outcome of an election than to manage both sides?
 

How Many More? Gun Lobby Promises: Many

Insanity Extends Beyond the Shooters
by Walter Brasch
During this past week, in Scranton, Pa., a 16-year old put two bullets into the head of a taxi driver and then stole about $500 earned by the cabbie that evening.
 
The teen, who showed no remorse when arrested a few hours later, mumbled a few words about his reasons. He said he murdered the cabbie “’Cause that’s what I do to people that don’t listen.” The teen thought the cabbie was taking too long to get him to his destination. The driver was a 47-year-old man with a wife and two children. The gun was an unlicensed 9-mm.
 
A few days later, in Payson, Ariz., a three-year-old boy found a loaded semi-automatic gun in the apartment of family friend, began playing with it, and accidentally killed his 18-month-old brother. Police recovered several other weapons from the apartment.
 
In Homestead, Fla., a 28-year-old man, who admitted he was drinking and using cocaine, was showing off an AK-47 at a picnic. His six-year-old nephew picked up the gun when no one was watching, played with it, and accidentally killed his own grandfather.
 
In Isla Vista, Calif., a 22-year-old man with a history of mental problems, stabbed his three roommates, and then drove near the campus of the University of California at Santa Barbara. In about 10 minutes, he murdered three more students and wounded 13 more before committing suicide. Police say the killer had three 9 mm. weapons and about 400 rounds of ammunition, all of it purchased legally.
 
The father of one of those killed, to a standing cheering crowd of 20,000 at a memorial service, called for an end of gun violence. “How many more people are going to have to die in this situation before the problem gets solved?” he demanded.
 

Europes Rise of the "Right" a Reaction Against Neo-Liberal Right

The Rise of the European Right: Reaction to the Neoliberal Right
by James Petras
The European parliamentary elections witnessed a major breakthrough for the right-wing parties throughout the region. The rise of the Right runs from the Nordic countries, the United Kingdom, the Baltic and Low countries, France, Central and Eastern Europe to the Mediterranean.
 
Most, if not all, of these emerging right-wing parties mark a sharp break with the ruling neo-liberal, Christian and Social Democratic parties who have presided over a decade of crisis.
 
The ‘new Right’ cannot be understood simply by attaching negative labels (‘fascist’, ‘racist’ and ‘anti-Semitic’). The rise of the Right has to be placed in the context of the decay of political, social and economic institutions, the general and persistent decline of living standards and the disintegration of community bonds and class solidarity.
 

Never Say Die and Sacred Activism

When Surrender Means Not Giving Up: The New Sacred Activism
by Carolyn Baker  -  Shift Network Sustainability Showcase

There is nothing to do
And nowhere to go.
Accepting this,
We can do everything
And go everywhere.


~Mark Nepo~

A few weeks ago Andrew Harvey and I recorded a conversation between us on the topic of how to live in the face of catastrophic climate change. We made this recording in the context of other conversations about the need for a “new Sacred Activism” that is informed and updated by the dire realities of runaway climate change and near-term human extinction. [While the focus of this article is not on the science of climate change, the reader will find some of the most recent and ominous research on climate change below.*]

Recently, I’ve noticed some longtime activist voices verbalizing a new perspective and one that some would label as “defeatist.” Writing in his “How To Save The World Blog,” Dave Pollard recently offered a piece entitled “In Defense Of Inaction,” in which he states:

No one is in control. The enemy, if there is one, is not a cabal of elites, but a set of co-dependent collapsing systems that every one of us has a vested interest in trying (insanely) to perpetuate. Systems we have all helped co-create and are almost all dependent on…The question we must each ask ourselves, I think, is this: If we acknowledge that our systems and hence our civilization cannot be reformed or ‘saved’, what can we do now that will make a real difference, for the future, in our communities and for those we love?…The insanely rational answer to this question, I think, is (a) probably nothing, and (b) it’s too early to know.
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Has Canada Missed the Boat on a Viable Energy Future?

Missing the Tide
by Ray Grigg- Shades of Green
 
There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.
- William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of Julius Caesar (Act 4, Scene 3, 218-224)
Canada is at a critical juncture in its history. It can either catch the flooding tide of clean, renewable energies presented by the urgent call of circumstances, or it can miss the rising current of opportunity, succumb to being a purveyor of fossil fuels, and thereby spend the “voyage” of its life “bound in shallows and in miseries.”
 
If the development of Alberta's tar sands, the proposed building of bitumen pipelines and the dream of a liquid natural gas industry are any indications, we seem to be choosing badly. The cause is clear. Whereas historians andHas  philosophers think in decades and centuries, politicians and economists think in months and years. The difference is enormous.
 
And the folly of living with such brief perspectives is becoming sadly evident.
 

Obama's Doctrine: A Thousand Pieces in Our Time

The Obama Doctrine: Death By a Thousand Cuts
by Peter Lee - China Matters
I was rather beguiled at first by President Obama’s commencement speech at West Point.

Not just because everybody else dumped all over it, and I wanted to exercise my contrarian’s prerogative to defend the indefensible.

It’s because the central premise—what I call the Obama Doctrine—is rather attractive to me:

Here’s my bottom line: America must always lead on the world stage. If we don’t, no one else will. The military that you have joined is, and always will be, the backbone of that leadership. But U.S. military action cannot be the only -- or even primary -- component of our leadership in every instance. Just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail.

President Obama’s unwillingness to employ military action against Syria or in the Ukraine is, I think, a reflection of his bedrock principle, his aversion to committing US military power unless it is absolutely necessary, a conviction that he has maintained at some cost against determined pushback by hawks within his administration, in Washington, and internationally. No more Vietnams or Iraqs.

Good for him.

Unfortunately, the flip side of the Obama doctrine is that the United States remains committed to a forward counterterrorism posture and US“leadership” i.e. the ability to shape events overseas even without using military power.

Syria Situation Analysis from the Diaspora

Meeting Syrians in Lebanon
by Eva Bartlett - In Gaza
In Lebanon for a few days (turned weeks), arranging a new Syria visa. The pleasant young hotel employee who also helps out at the shop across the street, where I get my water, shyly asks me, “May I ask you a question?” Sure. “You’ve got a Palestine necklace, a Syria bracelet… where are you from?”
 
When I tell him I love both countries, he says proudly “ana min Souria,” (I’m from Syria).
 
The Western media’s allegations go that Syrians in Syrian simply say they support President Bashar al-Assad because they are afraid to say otherwise. I don’t buy it. But my encounters with Syrians outside of Syria further convince me.
 
He replies to my very simple question “What do you want for Syria?” with the standard “Inno Syria raja mittle man kan ‘abl,” (that Syria is like it was before). Since I don’t want to make assumptions on what he perceives the cause of the strife to be, I ask, “with the President?”
 
“Akiid, of course with him,” he replies.
 

Feeding the Fossil Fuel Monster: Letting the 3rd World Eat Smoke

Let Them Eat Carbon: Like Big Tobacco, Big Energy Targets the Developing World for Future Profits
by Michael T. Klare  - TomDispatch
In the 1980s, encountering regulatory restrictions and public resistance to smoking in the United States, the giant tobacco companies came up with a particularly effective strategy for sustaining their profit levels: sell more cigarettes in the developing world, where demand was strong and anti-tobacco regulation weak or nonexistent. Now, the giant energy companies are taking a page from Big Tobacco’s playbook. 
 

As concern over climate change begins to lower the demand for fossil fuels in the United States and Europe, they are accelerating their sales to developing nations, where demand is strong and climate-control measures weak or nonexistent. That this will produce a colossal increase in climate-altering carbon emissions troubles them no more than the global spurt in smoking-related illnesses troubled the tobacco companies.

 

The tobacco industry’s shift from rich, developed nations to low- and middle-income countries has been well documented. 

“With tobacco use declining in wealthier countries, tobacco companies are spending tens of billions of dollars a year on advertising, marketing, and sponsorship, much of it to increase sales in... developing countries,” the New York Times noted in a 2008 editorial. 

 

To boost their sales, outfits like Philip Morris International and British American Tobacco also brought their legal and financial clout to bear to block the implementation of anti-smoking regulations in such places. “They’re using litigation to threaten low- and middle-income countries,” Dr. Douglas Bettcher, head of the Tobacco Free Initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO), told the Times.

 

The fossil fuel companies -- producers of oil, coal, and natural gas -- are similarly expanding their operations in low- and middle-income countries where ensuring the growth of energy supplies is considered more critical than preventing climate catastrophe. “There is a clear long-run shift in energy growth from the OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the club of rich nations] to the non-OECD,” oil giant BP noted in its Energy Outlook report for 2014.

 

“Virtually all (95%) of the projected growth [in energy consumption] is in the non-OECD,” it added, using the polite new term for what used to be called the Third World.

 

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PetroChina's Days of the Long Knife

China’s Oil Giant At Center Of Corruption Probe
by Ky Krauthamer - Oilprice.com
Grins were on the faces of China National Petroleum executives this week as they celebrated a blockbuster 30-year deal for Russian gas. It was a good day for CNPC, the state-owned colossus at the center of China’s oil and gas webs and one of Eurasia’s biggest energy investors.

For some, however, those grins could soon turn to grimaces, because the deal comes against a backdrop of a series of high profile corruption investigations by the state, and CNPC has been caught in the dragnet. A former CNPC chairman is currently under investigation and a top executive of CNPC subsidiary PetroChina has just been arrested.

They are two of the biggest suspects in a spiraling drive against corruption that has become a hallmark of President Xi Jinping’s rule.

The crackdown on executives at some of China’s largest companies is yet more proof, if anyone needed it, that the Xi administration takes the latest anti-graft drive very seriously indeed.

But behind the arrests and investigations, some China watchers see signs of internal strife at the highest levels of the ruling Communist Party.

The list of energy execs under scrutiny by the national corruption fighting bureau, officially known by the Orwellian title, “Central Discipline Inspection Commission,” is getting longer every week.

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Pope Off the Wall: Francis Improvises on Holy Land Tour

The Pope at the Wall
by Mazin Qumsiyeh
Bethlehem - The children of Al-Rowwad from Aida Refugee Camp delivered a message to the Pope when he stopped to pray at the apartheid and annexation wall. They emphasized prisoners plight and the right to return home.

This impromptu stop was in my opinion the most memorable part of the Pontiff's visit to Bethlehem. The Pope recognized "The State of Palestine" (Google just did it too!) and also met with refugee children at Dheisheh and shared food with some family members who each had a story to tell him about horrific suffering under Israel's colonial occupation.

Christians and Muslims here were all genuinely touched by the visit of this more humble Pope and his gestures of understanding and solidarity. But most said they wished he would use his influence more to pressure the Zionist regime. The Western Zionist dominated media tried to hide things including the Pope's gestures of solidarity with us but social media was prominent and the story could not be ignored.