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WorldWatch2

For posting on events, news, opinions and anything of interest from around the world.

59 Comments

  1. Gezza

     /  February 9, 2019

    Been doing a bit more digging into US sanctions on Venezuela & been surprised to learn (although I probably shouldn’t be, given the long history of US involvement in toppling leftist regimes throughout South America to try and install US business-friendly right wing regimes) the latest US sanctions are only a continuation of US-engineered wider economic strangulation of the Venezuelan government.

    It appears that despite the popular US & Western media presentation of US sanctions as targeting individuals for such things as human rights breaches, in fact, as Blazer has been claiming, US sanctions applied against Venezuela have been far wider in their impacts, preventing the Venezuelan government taking the usual kinds of steps by accessing international finance & being able to restructure their debts and recover their economy.

    In essence, unknown to most, and uncovered by years-complicit US (and their allies) msm the US has in fact been waging economic war against Venezuela for over a decade, looking to gain access for the usual suspects of US corporations to exploit and profit more directly from the vast reserves of oil.

    Bolton and Pompeo are now putting the squeeze on even further to hasten the long term aim of regime change, uncriticised by the rest of the world because of the Maduro regime’s shortcomings and blundering. The more one digs into Gauido, who was previously unknown to the majority of Venezuelans, but is well known in the US corridors of power, the more it is obvious he IS an American stooge.

    • Gezza

       /  February 9, 2019

      More
      US sanctions prohibit dealing in currencies issued by the Venezuelan government. They also target individuals, and stop US-based companies or people from buying and selling new debt issued by PDVSA or the government.

      The US has previously defended its sanctions on Venezuela, with a senior US official saying in 2018: “The fact is that the greatest sanction on Venezuelan oil and oil production is called Nicolas Maduro, and PDVSA’s inefficiencies,” referring to the state-run oil body, Petroleos de Venezuela, SA.

      Mr De Zayas’s findings are based on his late-2017 mission to the country and interviews with 12 Venezuelan government minsters, opposition politicians, 35 NGOs working in the country, academics, church officials, activists, chambers of commerce and regional UN agencies.

      The US imposed new sanctions against Venezuela on 9 March 2015, when President Barack Obama issued executive order 13692, declaring the country a threat to national security.

      The sanctions have since intensified under Donald Trump, who has also threatened military invasion and discussed a coup.
      https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/venezuela-us-sanctions-united-nations-oil-pdvsa-a8748201.html

      • Blazer

         /  February 9, 2019

        good work G.

        The obsfucation that occurs aided and abetted by a compliant media is unbelievable.

      • Pink David

         /  February 9, 2019

        “US sanctions prohibit dealing in currencies issued by the Venezuelan government. They also target individuals, and stop US-based companies or people from buying and selling new debt issued by PDVSA or the government.”

        So, the socialist revolution cannot succeed without access to the Yankee’s capital markets? And that single factor sends the entire country into the world’s worst collapse of an economy outside the Syrian civil war? Someone has lost their marbles. This is a bigger joke than Blazer’s idea you can only trade oil in USD.

        • Gezza

           /  February 9, 2019

          I think you’re missing the point. Probably deliberately.

          • Pink David

             /  February 9, 2019

            What is happening in Venezuela is a direct result of the policies pursued by the Venezuelan government. If the US finds a way to assist the departure of that government, then the Venezuelan’s will be better off for it.

            What is happening with Gauido is very similar to Mahron’s rise in France. He was ‘reasonable’ contrasted against Le-Pen.

            • Blazer

               /  February 9, 2019

              yes the ‘man in the street’ in Iraq…would agree wholeheartedly.🤢

            • Gezza

               /  February 9, 2019

              I think there is plenty of evidence that the awful political situation that has been developing in Venezuela since Chavez’s election has been actively covertly engineered by the United States & is in large part a defence & reaction to its interference.

              Are you saying that Macron/Mahron (whatever) is a US-run stooge as well?
              … … … … … ….
              It used to be generally frowned upon to openly call for military coups and U.S. intervention in Latin America. Not anymore. At least not when it comes to Venezuela, a country where—according to the prevailing narrative—a brutal dictator is starving the population and quashing all opposition.

              Last August, President Trump casually mentioned a “military option” for Venezuela from his golf course in New Jersey, provoking an uproar in Latin America but barely a peep in Washington. Similarly, Rex Tillerson, then-Secretary of State, spoke favorably about a possible military ouster of Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro.

              In recent months, opinion pieces suggesting that a coup or a foreign military intervention in Venezuela might be a good thing have dotted the U.S. media landscape: from the Washington Post to Project Syndicate to The New York Times. Occasionally a pundit argues that a coup d’état could have undesirable consequences, for instance if a hypothetical coup regime should decide to deepen relations with Russia or China.

              Rarely does anyone point out that this is an insane debate to be having in the first place, particularly regarding a country where elections occur frequently and are, with few exceptions, considered to be competitive and transparent. On Sunday, May 20th, Maduro will be up for reelection. Polls suggest that, if turnout is high, he could be voted out of office.

              The fact that coups, not elections, are the hot topic is a sad reflection of the warped direction that the mainstream discussion on Venezuela has taken. For many years now, much of the analysis and reporting on the oil-rich but economically-floundering nation have offered a black-and-white, sensationalized depiction of a complex and nuanced internal situation. In addition, there has been little serious discussion of the Trump administration’s policies toward Venezuela even as they wreak further damage to the country’s economy, worsen shortages of life-saving medicines and food, and undermine peace and democracy.
              More…
              https://nacla.org/news/2018/05/18/united-states%E2%80%99-hand-undermining-democracy-venezuela

            • Pink David

               /  February 9, 2019

              “I think there is plenty of evidence that the awful political situation that has been developing in Venezuela since Chavez’s election has been actively covertly engineered by the United States & is in large part a defence & reaction to its interference.”

              I think you will find that is total bullshit. The awful poltical situation is the product of Chavez and his cheerleaders.

              You post an article that makes these claims;

              “While many ideologues blame “socialism” for the country’s economic ills, most economists point to a set of policy errors that have little or nothing to do with socialism.”

              He makes this claim, yet the article he has linked to support it, completely refutes it!

              “Instead, blame lies with Chávez’s ideological program, which increased state control over the economy, expropriated private property, imposed high taxes and regulations on business, nationalized industry, massively expanded social welfare, ballooned the size of government, and concentrated power in the state, all while chasing away investors.”

              That is socialism!

              “The Trump administration’s financial sanctions—more than all previous destabilization efforts, which were significant—have made it nearly impossible for the government to get out of the mess without outside help.”

              Well, fuck, what the hell did they expect? A bailout?

              “As my colleague Mark Weisbrot has explained, ”

              I should have guessed.

              “In 2013, Weisbrot praised the Venezuelan government for what he said were gains in poverty, real income, employment, healthcare, and education, and argued that others were “crying wolf”, saying that the possibility of hyperinflation was “very remote”, that economic problems were “not likely” and that “Venezuela has sufficient reserves””

              These people have dirty hands in this.

        • Blazer

           /  February 9, 2019

          Except I didn’t say ‘only’..the word I use is default currency!
          The Saudis have abided by it for decades.

          Those who deviate are to put it mildly…’frowned upon’….and like Gaddaffi can become quite…creased.deceased…even.

          • Pink David

             /  February 9, 2019

            “Except I didn’t say ‘only’..the word I use is default currency!
            The Saudis have abided by it for decades.”

            Meaningless fluff. Be specific about what you are claiming. There is no such thing as a ‘default currency’.

            “Those who deviate are to put it mildly…’frowned upon’….and like Gaddaffi can become quite…creased.deceased…even.”

            Gaddaffi was wacked by Hillary Clinton to make her look tough for a prospective run at President, and let’s face it, his rule was failing apart at the time regardless. Gaddaffi had played ball, it was a betrayal by Clinton. The oil was SFA to do with it.

      • Duker

         /  February 9, 2019

        It all begins here in 2002
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2002_Venezuelan_coup_d%27%C3%A9tat_attempt
        This made me laugh
        “Venezuelan Federation of Chambers of Commerce (Fedecámaras) president Pedro Carmona was declared interim president. During his brief rule, the National Assembly and the Supreme Court were both dissolved and the country’s 1999 Constitution was declared void.
        and then later.
        “In 2007 oil prices were on the rise, and the Chávez government sought more revenue as the investments made by the international oil companies began to pay off. Venezuela demanded changes to the agreements made by the international oil companies that would give PDVSA majority control of the projects. Total, Chevron, Statoil and BP agreed and retained minority interests in their Venezuelan projects. ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips refused, and as a result, their assets were expropriated. -Forbes magazine

        • Duker

           /  February 9, 2019

          And even a bit earlier when an newly elected President (1989)tried to implement neo liberal reforms.

          Thousands died in the riots in Caracas and the countryside ( ‘ many estimates put the number at above 2,000.’)
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caracazo

          And the President ,Carlos Andrés Pérez

          In May 1993 he became the first Venezuelan president to be forced out of the office by the Supreme Court, for the embezzlement of 250 million bolívars

          He was a popular earlier President (1974-79) so why should he try to push through the sudden changes
          ‘In February 1989, at the beginning of his second term as president, he accepted an International Monetary Fund proposal known as the Washington consensus. In return for accepting this proposal, the International Monetary Fund offered Venezuela a loan for 4.5 billion US dollars. This cooperation with the IMF came about weeks after his victory in the 1988 presidential election, and a populist, anti-neoliberal campaign during which he described the IMF as “a neutron bomb that killed people, but left buildings standing” and said that World Bank economists were “genocide workers in the pay of economic totalitarianism”.

      • High Flying Duck

         /  February 9, 2019

        Perhaps a look at the person making these claims would help:

        “UN Watch today called on UN chief Antonio Guterres and rights commissioner Zeid to condemn and dissociate themselves from this week’s “fake investigation” of Venezuela by the only U.N. human rights expert to be allowed in by the Maduro regime after 15 years of it rejecting repeated requests by separate monitors on arbitrary detention, freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, independence of the judiciary and arbitrary executions.

        Alfred de Zayas, installed in 2012 to the Cuban-created U.N. post of “Expert on promotion of a democratic and equitable international order” was warmly welcomed and embraced in Caracas on Monday by Venezuelan foreign minister Jorge Arreaza.

        Zayas has often used his UN post to spread overt propaganda praising Venezuela’s Maduro regime. He is a long-time defender of Fidel Castro and a hero to Holocaust deniers for his writings accusing the World War II allies of committing “genocide” against Germany.

        He is the first UN expert to be allowed into Venezuela since 2002.

        A coalition of 50 NGOs sent an open letter to Zayas in advance of his visit urging him to set a precondition that Caracas allow in the other UN investigators. He refused.

        Many Venezuelan NGOs expressed suspicion about the visit and called on Zayas to meet with human rights defenders and speak out for Maduro’s victims while in the country.”

        https://www.unwatch.org/u-n-experts-venezuela-visit-fake-investigation-swiss-rights-group/

      • High Flying Duck

         /  February 9, 2019

        USA Sanctions are publically available:

        https://fas.org/sgp/crs/row/IF10715.pdf

        • Gezza

           /  February 9, 2019

          Yes I’ve seen those and their source, but it seems there is more to US sanctions than meets the eye in reading those, or that they are either not the full story or possibly not the full range of measures taken by the US against Venezuela.

          • High Flying Duck

             /  February 9, 2019

            Is that based on more than this Alfred de Zayas say so? He seems to be a Maduro stooge
            There are many countries sanctioning Venezuela:

            Are Canada after their oil?
            https://www.international.gc.ca/world-monde/international_relations-relations_internationales/sanctions/venezuela.aspx?lang=eng

            Are the EU looking to invade?
            https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/policies/sanctions/venezuela/

            There is very widespread condemnation of the Venezuelan Government from USA friends and many of their foes. However, Russia, who coincidentally have invested billions into the country, think it is all going very well.

            • Gezza

               /  February 9, 2019

              Did they invade Iraq and Afghanistan too, when the US asked them to, do you know? I haven’t checked.

            • High Flying Duck

               /  February 9, 2019

              The two situations are completely different, what with the whole ISIS and international terrorism angle on those countries, but I appreciate the non-sequitur.

            • Gezza

               /  February 9, 2019

              Is that based on more than this Alfred de Zayas say so? He seems to be a Maduro stooge

              Well, yes, there’s that report by the Listening Post, and also that article by nacla that I also posted above which predates Guaido, I think. Also UN-Watch seems to have a strong pro-Israel, right wing focus, according to wiki anyway.

            • High Flying Duck

               /  February 9, 2019

              You do Blazer very well when you put your mind to it Gezza!

            • Gezza

               /  February 9, 2019

              The two situations are completely different, what with the whole ISIS and international terrorism angle on those countries, but I appreciate the non-sequitur.
              It’s not really a non-sequiteur – I wonder sometimes the real extent to which US sanctions lead other Western countries to apply them also.
              My concern is more, as the listening post points out, that the US has been covertly and now actively involved in agitating for a coup in Venezuela and this is very dodgy. The UN doesn’t like it, but of course that won’t stop them because that’s what they do.

            • Gezza

               /  February 9, 2019

              You do Blazer very well when you put your mind to it Gezza!

              Well, I don’t think so. Not quite as extreme as him I think, but if we’re getting into that sort of thing, you do a pretty good imitation of David when you’ve a mind to, imo.

            • High Flying Duck

               /  February 9, 2019

              Nothing like a war to rally the population for re-election 2020?
              Venezuela has been a basket case since Chavez took control and heading downhill at a breakneck pace under Maduro.
              Their economy is propped up by the US who give them 24% of their export earnings.
              It is very much in the US’s interests to have stable neighbours and stable trading partners.
              They will be working to those ends, but at this stage, Trump has simply continued the path Obama set.
              If the US is pushing for a coup it is because of the actions of Maduro and his actions to retain power.
              Argentina was the first country to push for action against Maduro by the way.
              The CNN timeline paints a very nasty picture of Maduro’s actions. I’m sure you will see the US behind every bad thing that happened though…

            • Gezza

               /  February 9, 2019

              No I don’t see the US behind every bad thing that happened but I am very wary about what the US and its companies get up to in South America because they have a bad record of interfering there & they always regard their business interests as strategic interests. Trump has made it clear that protecting America’s security includes defining anywhere the US has business interests or people as security interests. The UN wants a political solution and Trump not ruling out military intervention is a very thinly-veiled threat. I think Maduro and co have to go but I think the US sabre-rattling is bad bad bad.

            • High Flying Duck

               /  February 9, 2019

              To be fair, Trump rattles his sabres at everyone, including allies. It seems to just be his way of saying “How are you?”, but with an extra serving of “I can crush you like a bug”.
              But he hasn’t crushed anyone yet (In fact his actions have been far less aggressive than Obama or Bush) – he just likes people to know he can.

      • Gezza

         /  February 9, 2019

        Yes. That is what I have been learning via other sources as well.
        Extract:

        I continue to watch developments in Venezuela with interest, including the reaction of the international community to the crisis. Increasing numbers of democracies are lending their support to Juan Guaido’s presidential challenge, including 11 of 14 members of the Lima Group convened to facilitate negotiations on a peaceful resolution. Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Austria, the Netherlands, Sweden, Latvia and Lithuania joined the UK, France and Germany (and Canada!) in siding with Guaido after the Maduro government refused to call for new elections within the eight day deadline demanded in an ultimatum issued by the EU members. It seems that much of the Western democratic world is now openly opposed to seeing Maduro continue in office.

        That got me thinking more about Juan Guaido. How could this young (age 35) man emerge so quickly and be received so warmly by so many democracies? What I found out is interesting.

        Guaido is a former student activist and industrial engineer who received post-graduate training at George Washington University in Washington DC. He got into politics when the Chavez government closed down the most popular private TV station in Venezuela and proposed constitutional reforms that strengthened the presidency at the expense of the other two government branches, and has reportedly spent time since entering public life at several Right-leaning think tanks in the US and Europe. After his introduction to politics he came under the wing of the well-known anti-Chavista Leopoldo Lopez.

        Lopez, now under house arrest, is a neoliberal economist by training (he has degrees from Kenyon College and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard). He is the son of a former president and former mayor of Caracas himself, so his elite credentials are impeccable (he even did his high school education at an exclusive private boarding school in the US). Reportedly a friend of Elliot Abrams (see previous post), he was a leader of the 2002 abortive coup against Hugo Chavez and spent several years in military prison as a result. In 2014 he led another failed uprising against Maduro, getting house arrest rather than popular support for his efforts. He agitates from his home, where he uses social media and encrypted apps to communicate with foreign and domestic allies and uses his telegenic wife to serve as his spokesperson.

        And the rest of Pablo’s post is quite instructive as well.

    • duperez

       /  February 9, 2019

      You are perfectly entitled to feel you have lots of stuff to learn about Venezuela, the USA and other countries and the infinite, complex, multi-layered, multi-faceted aspects of their dealings and relationships over years.

      Some people know and understand it all, and tell us, and tell those other places, what they should be doing and how. I’ll be bloody happy when I know what’s going on between the front, back and side fences and have some say and power over controlling those! 😊

      • Gezza

         /  February 9, 2019

        I am sad for you when I realise that if this is true that you will likely never be able to attain happiness in your own lifetime.

  2. Patzcuaro

     /  February 9, 2019

  3. Duker

     /  February 9, 2019

    This was worth a laugh
    “Greek politician blasts Tusk for ‘Brexiteer’s special place in Hell’ comment and warns there’s a similar spot saved for whoever came up with EU monetary union”

    They would find ‘The Common Agriculture Policy’ had beat them to that spot

    The EU has ( for most of its members) no borders/passport/customs checks but the organisation for control of airliners flying isnt part of the EU
    European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, commonly known as Eurocontrol.

    Who knew that Europe wouldnt descend into WW3 without the EU being there?

  4. Pink David

     /  February 9, 2019

    AOC continues to be the true star of the left, her take-over of the Democrat’s is only a year or two away.

    Her she is declaring herself, and all Latinos to be the native people’s of America.

    Fun fact: She is named after Hernán Cortés, the Spanish explorer who conquered and destroyed the Aztec Empire, then effectively created Mexico.

    Her claim to being a native is clearly based on right of conquest. All hail the Red Queen!

    • Gezza

       /  February 9, 2019

      Do you have a longer video that gives us some full context on that little bit & also have you checked out her ancestry & what she means by latino people – in case by that she simply means Spanish speakers?

      • Pink David

         /  February 9, 2019

        “Do you have a longer video that gives us some full context on that little bit ”

        I’m sure your google-fu is up to the task.

        “checked out her ancestry”

        Her heritage is Puerto Rican. I’m looking forward to her DNA test to prove her native status. That was a complete winner for Elizabeth Warren.

        “what she means by latino people ”
        Latino (/læˈtiːnoʊ, lə-/)[1] is a term often used in the United States to refer to people with cultural ties to Latin America,

        There is a hint in the word, Latin.

        • Gezza

           /  February 9, 2019

          Just on the Latin America thing, you will find that the term encompasses countries in South and Central which had pre-existing first or native peoples who were colonised by latin-language speakers, so that doesn’t necessarily imply they have no first-people’s ancestry.

          • Gezza

             /  February 9, 2019

            Drat.
            *South and Central America.

            • Duker

               /  February 9, 2019

              Does it mean she can claim Swedish ancestry ‘by going there a lot ‘

            • Gezza

               /  February 9, 2019

              No. I don’t think the Swedes had much to do with colonising Latin America.

      • Pink David

         /  February 9, 2019

        What the hell, here you are;

        https://www.newsweek.com/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-ice-native-land-1322850

        It gets even better in full.

        • Gezza

           /  February 9, 2019

          Oh no, dreadful. It’s one thing to rail against ICE breaching human rights and losing track of kids they’ve separated from their families and having a couple die on them – that’s disgraceful. But no I certainly can’t go along with her view that amounts to being basically that the US should have no immigration policies or controls and that anybody who gets in illegally should be almost impossible to remove. Absolutely not.

    • Blazer

       /  February 9, 2019

      she is gaining influence now,so must be demonised by the far right.

      • Pink David

         /  February 9, 2019

        “she is gaining influence now,so must be demonised by the far right.”

        I fully support her influence, and in no way am I demonizing her. She is absolutely the perfect politician for you.

        She is the future of the Democrat party.

  5. Joe Bloggs

     /  February 9, 2019

    New disclosures on how trump may have skimmed off millions from his inaugural committee by overcharging for hotel rooms

    the nonprofit 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee paid the Trump International Hotel a rate of $175,000 per day for event space — in spite of internal objections at the time that the rate was far too high.

    https://www.propublica.org/article/trump-inc-new-evidence-emerges-of-possible-wrongdoing-by-trump-inaugural-committee

    • Pink David

       /  February 9, 2019

      Joe, how much time have you invested in Trump? Doesn’t this level of commitment start to look a bit like a relationship?

      • Joe Bloggs

         /  February 9, 2019

        I told you ages ago: follow the money

        • duperez

           /  February 9, 2019

          I liked the bit in Vanity Fair about the pre-inauguration dinner and the guests:

          “Among the list marked as confirmed were seven people described as “foreign ministers” for Saudi Arabia, one foreign minister from Qatar, and one from the United Arab Emirates. They were the only people on the list who were unnamed.”

          And then that the evening was “intended to be the president-elect’s first fingerprint on the global canvas of social democracy and outreach.” 🙃

  6. Joe Bloggs

     /  February 9, 2019

    A measured and professional response from Jerry Nadler to Matt Whitaker, Big Dick Toilet Salesman and Acting AG

    Before we adjourn, I want to note for the record that, Mr. Whitaker, that you owe us responses on a number of issues raised here today. The responses that we intend to secure, including but not limited to the times and dates you were briefed on the special counsel’s investigation, your communications with the president after you received those briefings, the basis for your statement that the special counsel’s investigation is reaching its conclusion, and whether you told the special counsel not to take any specific investigative or prosecutorial steps.

    I would also note that your testimony was at best inconsistent on the topic of your communications with the White House prior to your tenure at the department. “It is not credible that you both interviewed for a job handling the president’s response to the special counsel’s investigation and never conveyed your opinions about that investigation to the White House.

    We require answers to these questions and I ask the department to work with the committee to provide them. As part of that work, I fully intend to call you back for an interview under subpoena if necessary and I expect more fulsome answers at that time, without objection, for the witness or additional materials.

    – Rep. Jerry Nadler

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  February 9, 2019

      Dems media posturing and continuing to do the only thing they have power to do – harassing the Administration. Yawn.

  7. Joe Bloggs

     /  February 9, 2019

    Nogales City Council in Arizona has unanimously passed a resolution condemning trump’s installation of razor wire on the US-Mexico border wall in their city as an indiscriminate use of lethal force normally reserved for battlefields and high-security prisons.

    http://time.com/5523605/nogales-arizona-razor-wire-border/

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  February 9, 2019

      Maybe build the wall instead of militarising the fence?

  8. High Flying Duck

     /  February 9, 2019

    • Duker

       /  February 9, 2019

      “Former Green MP Keith Locke says Key is wasting an opportunity to rub shoulders with leaders in the increasingly influential region.

      “He seems blind to what the funeral will be: a major gathering of Latin American leaders to mourn the death of an incumbent president,” Locke said.
      http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/americas/8395894/Keys-Chavez-funeral-snub-mind-boggling

      http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/8393017/Chavezs-death-delays-Key-trade-talks

      ONE person says he should gone ( Key was in South/Central America at the time)
      “This is a funeral, attended by the Latin American presidents who are hosting Mr Key on his trip, and our Prime Minister should be there. He is missing a great opportunity to show his support to the whole of Latin America”

      AND it was seen as relationship building with other latin America leaders who were going.
      Wasnt Relationship building seen as Keys strong point?
      Hehir should stick to being a provincial city accountant – being an intern for the national party doesnt make you an international relations exit.