On The Monitor this week: Venezuela in detail and in context.
This week’s guests discuss events in Venezuela. First up is Abby Martin taking a close look at recent events in Venezuela. She is followed by John Perkins who casts a wider historical net to put those events in a broader context.
More about this week’s guests:
Abby Martin is a journalist, artist, and presenter of The Empire Files, an investigative news program on teleSUR English and YouTube. She was formerly the host of Breaking the Set on RT America network, working from the Washington, D.C. bureau. She also worked for two years as a correspondent for RT America.
Martin is the founder of the citizen journalism website Media Roots. She serves on the board of directors for the Media Freedom Foundation which manages Project Censored. Martin appeared in the documentary film Project Censored The Movie: Ending the Reign of Junk Food News (2013), and co-directed 99%: The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film (2013).
John Perkins was Chief Economist at a major international consulting firm where advised the World Bank, United Nations, IMF, U.S. Treasury Department, Fortune 500 corporations, and leaders of countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. He is the author of several books. The most recent is The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (2016), a follow-up to his bestseller Confessions Of An Economic Hit Man which spent 73 weeks on the New York Times non-fiction bestseller list and has been translated into 32 languages. It, along with his other books, The Secret History of the American Empire (also a New York Times bestseller) and Hoodwinked, were ground-breaking exposés of the clandestine operations that created the current global crises; they set the stage for the revelations and strategies detailed in The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.
John is a founder and board member of Dream Change and The Pachamama Alliance, non-profit organizations devoted to establishing a world future generations will want to inherit, has lectured at Harvard, Oxford, and more than 50 other universities around the world, and has been featured on ABC, NBC, CNN, CNBC, NPR, A&E, the History Channel, Time, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Der Spiegel, and many other publications, as well as in numerous documentaries including The End Of Poverty, Zeitgeist Addendum, and Apology Of An Economic Hit Man. He was awarded the Lennon Ono Grant for Peace in 2012, and the Rainforest Action Network Challenging Business As Usual Award in 2006.
On The Monitor this week:
- Reporting from Syria and not just on Syria – an interview with Eva Bartlett
- The difference between a tactic and a strategy for dealing with ISIS – an interview with Ambassador Edward Djerejian
More about this week’s guests:
Eva Bartlett is a Canadian freelance journalist and activist who has lived in and written from the Gaza Strip, Syria, and Lebanon. She has visited Syria four times in the last 2 years (April and June 2014, February and December 2015). You can read other articles by Eva, or visit Eva’s website. She has a lengthy article published on DissdentVoice titled Deconstructing the NATO Narrative on Syria
You can follow here on twitter here and read her articles about Syria here. The interview attempts to dissect the divergent narratives presented about Syria in the media and to get an eyewitness account from somebody who has actually been there. It is sure to cause some controversy.
Edward Djerejian is a former United States diplomat who served in eight administrations from John F. Kennedy to Bill Clinton (1962–94.) He served as the United States Ambassador to Syria (1988–91) and Israel (1993–94), Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan and Deputy Press Secretary of Foreign Affairs (1985-1986), and was Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs (1991-1993.) He is the director of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University and is the author of the book Danger and Opportunity: An American Ambassador’s Journey Through the Middle East. You can read his full bio here and follow him on twitter here
The main focus of the interview is Ambassador Djerejian’s policy brief on ISIS titled A STRATEGY TOWARD DEFEATING ISIS in which he argued that recent attacks were an opportunity for a U.S.-led coalition to come together to defeat a common enemy. Full text available online in English (CME-ISIS-111915) and Arabic (CME-ISIS-Arabic-122115).
During the interview I asked Ambassador Djerejian for his response to the speech President Obama gave in which he outlined the U.S. response to the terror threat posed by ISIS: Full text of President Obama’s speech in reaction to the shootings in San Bernardino, CA You can also read Ambassador Djerejian’s June 2, 1992 speech mentioned towards the end of the interview: Meridian House Speech.
On The Monitor this week:
- Ali Al-Ahmed on the sentencing to death of a Palestinian poet by Saudi court
- Gareth Porter on the real reason Turkey shot down a Russian jet
More about this week’s guests:
Ali Al-Ahmed is director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs, which just released a report on “The Saudi government school in Paris and the content of its schoolbooks that promote terrorism and hatred.”
Background: Reuters reports: “A Saudi Arabian court has sentenced a Palestinian poet to death for apostasy, abandoning his Muslim faith, according to trial documents seen by Human Rights Watch, its Middle East researcher Adam Coogle said on Friday. Ashraf Fayadh was detained by the country’s religious police in 2013 in Abha, in southwest Saudi Arabia, and then rearrested and tried in early 2014. Middle East Eye reports: “The exact charges under which Fayadh was initially held were not made clear, although some have suggested that his arrest was linked to his publication of a video showing religious police in Abha beating a young man in public. … Saudi Arabia has put to death nearly 150 people so far this year, the highest figure in two decades. Most people are executed by beheading with a sword, a method Saudi authorities say is more humane than other alternatives.”
Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and historian who specializes in U.S. national security policy. He is the author of several books, including Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare, Porter just wrote the piece, “The real reason for Turkey’s shoot-down of the Russian jet,” for Middle East Eye. He has published investigative articles on , the Nation, the American Prospect, Truthout and The Raw Story. His blogs have been published on Huffington Post, Firedoglake, Counterpunch and many other websites. Porter was Saigon bureau chief of Dispatch News Service International in 1971 and later reported on trips to Southeast Asia for The Guardian, Asian Wall Street Journal and Pacific News Service. He is the author of four books on the Vietnam War and the political system of Vietnam. Historian Andrew Bacevich called his latest book, Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War , published by University of California Press in 2005, without a doubt, the most important contribution to the history of U.S. national security policy to appear in the past decade. He has taught Southeast Asian politics and international studies at American University, City College of New York and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
On The Monitor this week:
- NATO: Part of Solution — Or Problem? An interview with David Gibbs
- Burger King Tax Dodge – How Inversions Hurt Economies. An interview with James Henry
More about this week’s guests:
David Gibbs is professor of history and government at the University of Arizona. He has written extensively on NATO and is the author of First Do No Harm: Humanitarian Intervention and the Destruction of Yugoslavia
“Foreign policy specialists have rightly condemned Russian intervention in the Ukraine, which has aggravated political divisions in that country. At the same time, we should recognize that the United States and NATO have also contributed to the destabilization. Russia’s actions are at least partly a response to policies adopted by the U.S. and NATO immediately following the Cold War.
“People often forget that post-Soviet Russia was at first highly cooperative with U.S. and Western policy, and they disbanded the Cold War era Warsaw Pact alliance. Russians assumed that in response the U.S. would gradually disband NATO, as a symmetrical action, or at the very least the U.S. would not expand NATO. Instead, the U.S. orchestrated NATO’s expansion, beginning in the late 1990s, incorporating several post-Soviet states. More recently, there has been open discussion of further expanding NATO, with possible membership for the Ukraine and Georgia. Russia views its interventions in the Ukraine as defensive actions, against NATO threats to its border security. NATO expansion must be viewed as a short-sighted action, one that was bound to provoke the Russians, and it laid the groundwork for the Ukraine’s civil war.”
James Henry is former chief economist at the international consultancy firm McKinsey & Co. He is now senior fellow at the Columbia University Center for Sustainable International Investment and senior adviser with the Tax Justice Network, which earlier this year in their report “The Price of Offshore Revisited” estimated that total wealth in tax havens was between $21 trillion and 32 trillion dollars.Henry is featured in the film “We’re Not Broke,” which tells the story of U.S. corporations dodging billions of dollars in income tax and is available on Netflix.
“You now have 100 major U.S. companies looking at ‘inversions’ like what Burger King is doing. This deal is a tax dodge by a Brazilian billionaire and other investors, it will hurt the U.S., Canada and such deals hurt virtually everyone else. These deals exposes domestic companies to competitors that are not paying substantial taxes. Contrary to some analysts, the Miami-based Burger King’ deal for Canada’s Hortons WOULD shift BK to Canada for tax purposes. BK is saying that that the deal would not ‘materially effect’ its effective U.S. tax rate of 27 percent, given that Canada’s ‘corp tax rate’ is ‘26.5 percent.'”Since Canada has a territorial corporate income tax it also does not benefit from this deal: the U.S. IRS will lose, but Canada is already not collecting any taxes on BK’s non-Canadian income. And it does lose yet another outstanding domestic company to rapacious global vultures.” See: “Tim’s + BK = $ for Canada right? …. Wrong! (in one table).”
Forbes writes: “The Burger King inversion deal is being driven by Jorge Paulo Lemann, Brazil’s richest man and co-founder of 3G Capital, the private equity firm that holds a majority stake in Burger King.” Says Henry: “I’ve met Lemann and he made his fortune in the Brazil privatization wave of the 1990s — it was like Russia’s disastrous privatizations, riddled with corruption. Brazil sold assets for $98 billion and gave $99 billion in tax benefits — they actually lost money on selling off assets. Now, Lemann goes around like some business genius, but he’s just a scam artist. It’s not business, it’s tax dodging. Brazil’s tax system, inspite of recent presumably progressive administrations, has a very regressive tax system — the top 10 percent of Brazilians pay lower share than the bottom 50 percent. Lemann probably doesn’t pay any taxes in Brazil.
“It’s been tech companies and pharmaceutical companies that have lead the charge on these schemes. Apple last year off shore revenue paid 1 percent in taxes — they funnel their profits through their Irish subsidiary and then through the Bahamas. GE’s effective tax was zero. Now it’s getting into retail. So these companies do business in the U.S., they benefit from the airports, hospitals, police, fire, education. The rest of us pay for the military. Some of them are even federal contractors — they don’t pay taxes but they make money directly from our national coffers.
“Some are even using this to push for a tax repatriation holiday or a gutting of the corporate income tax. Both of these would be a disaster. When there was a repatriation holiday in 2004, 90 percent of the benefit went to Pfizer and they then laid off workers. And gutting the corporate tax rate would not only be horrible for us in the U.S., it would be a disaster for poor countries. It’s a race to the bottom. In Africa, you have countries that have effective negative tax rates. Instead of collaborating on tax collection across countries — they’re competing to go lower and lower. And all this is being driven by the fact that the corporate lobby doesn’t discriminate. Both establishment parties have been on the take and that’s why you have so little leadership on this issue.”
On the Monitor this week:
- Freedom of the Press under serious assault by Obama and Holder. An interview with Matt Rothschild.
- Is Boko Haram in Nigeria stronger because U.S.-led War in Libya Boost? An interview with Ajamu Baraka.
More about this week’s guests:
Matthew Rothschild is the senior editor of The Progressive magazine (from 1994), which is one of the leading voices for peace and social justice in this country. Rothschild has appeared on Nightline, C-SPAN, The O’Reilly Factor, and NPR, and his newspaper commentaries have run in the Chicago Tribune, the L.A. Times, the Miami Herald, and a host of other newspapers. Rothschild is the host of “Progressive Radio,” a syndicated half-hour weekly interview program. And he does a two-minute daily radio commentary, entitled “Progressive Point of View,” which is also syndicated around the country. Rothschild is the author of You Have No Rights: Stories of America in an Age of Repression (New Press, 2007). He also is the editor of Democracy in Print: The Best of The Progressive, 1909-2009 (University of Wisconsin Press, 2009)
Nearly 50,000 people have signed a petition in recent days urging President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to end legal moves against New York Times reporter James Risen.
Charging that the administration has launched “an assault on freedom of the press,” the petition tells Obama and Holder: “We urge you in the strongest terms to halt all legal action against Mr. Risen and to safeguard the freedom of journalists to maintain the confidentiality of their sources.”
Federal prosecutors are threatening Risen with jail unless he reveals a confidential source. Risen has said he will not capitulate.
Freedom of the Press Foundation: Court Guts Reporter’s Privilege
Truthout: Conversation With James Risen: Can Journalists Protect Their Sources?
Politico: Justice Department Urges SCOTUS to Pass Up Reporter’s Privilege Case
Justice Department Brief: James Risen v. United States of America
Titled “We Support James Risen Because We Support a Free Press,” the petition says: “Without confidentiality, journalism would be reduced to official stories — a situation antithetical to the First Amendment.”
The petition was initiated by five organizations: Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR); the Freedom of the Press Foundation; The Nation; The Progressive / Center for Media and Democracy; and RootsAction.org.
Ajamu Baraka is a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies who is based in Colombia. He has written extensively on Africa and just wrote the piece “From Benghazi to Boko Haram: Why I support the Benghazi Inquiry,” which states: “Seemingly out of nowhere, Boko Haram burst into the awareness of people around the world as a shadowy group of Islamists with the ability to carry out audacious attacks that paralyzed the army of the most populous country in Africa. People now want to know the group’s origins, where they came from, why they are kidnapping girls and how they became such a powerful threat. All important questions — but questions that cannot be answered by just looking at the internal politics of Nigeria, as important as those are, because Boko Haram is incomprehensible when decontextualized from the destabilization, death and destruction unleashed across Africa from the Sahel into West Africa as a result of one historic event — the vicious NATO obliteration of the state of Libya.
“African Union Commission chief Jean Ping warned NATO, during its bombing campaign and arming of so-called rebel forces in Libya, that the weapons they provided the ‘rebels’ would end up in the hands of al Qaeda throughout Africa. He said, ‘Africa’s concern is that weapons that are delivered to one side or another … are already in the desert and will arm terrorists and fuel trafficking.’
“Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo expressed what many in Africa feared from the NATO attack on Libya: ‘We knew that at the end of the Libya operations, there would be fallout. And the fallout would be where would all the weapons go? Where would be some of those who have been trained how to use weapons [and] how would they be accounted for? … Part of what is happening in Mali is part of the fallout from Libya, and we should not expect that Mali will be the last.’
“Reports from the United Nations [Reuters headline in 2012: “Arms from Libya Could Reach Boko Haram, al Qaeda: UN“], the Guardian newspaper and many other sources reveal how Boko Haram benefited from the destabilization of various countries across the Sahel following the Libya conflict, receiving arms and training from an emboldened al Qaeda and its Saudi backers. …
“We understand that there will be an attempt to keep the focus narrow. Members of both parties and everyone in the higher echelons of the military/intelligence community knew that the U.S. had aligned with groups in Eastern Libya that were known to be jihadists. The fact that both parties supported the NATO intervention knowing that jihadists affiliated with al Qaeda played a major part in the overthrow of Gaddafi and that the largest CIA station in North Africa was established in Benghazi where it provided arms and was used as a staging ground for inserting jihadist forces into Syria, means that both parties share an interest in avoiding the serious legal and moral implications of U.S. actions in Libya. …
“And I am outraged knowing that U.S. policy-makers don’t give a damn about the school girls in Nigeria, because their real objective is to use the threat of Boko Haram in the Northern part of the country to justify the real goal of occupying the oil fields in the South and to block the Chinese in Nigeria.”
KPFT is in Pledge Drive and The Monitor has three shows during the drive. Our goal this week is $1200.
Please help us get there by calling 713-526-5738 or going online at www.kpft.org during the show.
This week’s show takes a look at Big Brother Mining Your Data with our first guest, Pratap Chatterjee. During last week’s show we mentioned that war funding has not been impacted by the government shut down. Our second interview looks at the ongoing war in Afghanistan with our second guest Matthew Hoh.
More about this week’s guests:
Pratap Chatterjee is executive director of CorpWatch and author of Halliburton’s Army: How A Well-Connected Texas Oil Company Revolutionized the Way America Makes War (Nation Books, 2009) and Iraq, Inc. (Seven Stories Press, 2004). He has many years of experience working in radio, print and digital media, including hosting a weekly radio show on Berkeley station KPFA, working as global environment editor for InterPress Service and as a freelance writer for the Financial Times, the Guardian and the Independent of London. He has won five Project Censored awards as well as a Silver Reel from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters for his work in Afghanistan, and the best business story award from the National Newspaper Association (US), among others. He has also appeared as a commentator on numerous radio and television shows ranging from BBC World Service, CNN International, Democracy Now!, Fox and MSNBC. Pratap serves on the board of Amnesty International USA and Corporate Europe Observatory.
Quote: “Big Bro is watching you. Inside your mobile phone and hidden behind your web browser are little known software products marketed by contractors to the government that can follow you around anywhere. No longer the wide-eyed fantasies of conspiracy theorists, these technologies are routinely installed in all of our data devices by companies that sell them to Washington for a profit.That’s not how they’re marketing them to us, of course. No, the message is much more seductive: Data, Silicon Valley is fond of saying, is the new oil. And the Valley’s message is clear enough: we can turn your digital information into fuel for pleasure and profits — if you just give us access to your location, your correspondence, your history, and the entertainment that you like.Ever played Farmville? Checked into Foursquare? Listened to music on Pandora? These new social apps come with an obvious price tag: the annoying advertisements that we believe to be the fee we have to pay for our pleasure. But there’s a second, more hidden price tag — the reams of data about ourselves that we give away. …But there is a second kind of data company of which most people are unaware: high-tech outfits that simply help themselves to our information in order to allow U.S. government agencies to dig into our past and present. Some of this is legal, since most of us have signed away the rights to our own information on digital forms that few ever bother to read, but much of it is, to put the matter politely, questionable. This second category is made up of professional surveillance companies. They generally work for or sell their products to the government — in other words, they are paid with our tax dollars — but we have no control over them. Harris Corporation provides technology to the FBI to track, via our mobile phones, where we go; Glimmerglass builds tools that the U.S. intelligence community can use to intercept our overseas calls; and companies like James Bimen Associates design software to hack into our computers. There is also a third category: data brokers like Arkansas-based Acxiom. These companies monitor our Google searches and sell the information to advertisers. They make it possible for Target to offer baby clothes to pregnant teenagers, but also can keep track of your reading habits and the questions you pose to Google on just about anything from pornography to terrorism, presumably to sell you Viagra and assault rifles.”
Matthew Hoh is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and is the former director of the Afghanistan Study Group. A former Marine and State Department official, Hoh resigned in protest from his post with the State Department in Afghanistan over U.S. strategic policy and goals in Afghanistan in 2009.
Quote: “It is fitting that as we pass the 12-year mark of the U.S. and Western invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, the U.S. government is shut down, our economy, education system and infrastructure continues their persistent degradation, and the American people, for the first time ever, now believe their children will not be better off than they. The failure of the United States’ war in Afghanistan, a failure that has been obvious for quite some time, like our own domestic failings, is a testament to a broken American political order and a $1 trillion a year national security Leviathan. Of course, the Afghan people are no closer to becoming a country at peace than at any time since the 1970s and the United States must and should understand its responsibility and culpability in the continuing death, loss and chaos. Similarly, in Libya and Somalia, again violence and military force is proving not to be a solution to terrorism. We have to understand the root causes. And many times these root causes are local and regional issues we have a poor grasp of — and sometimes those root causes are grievances against U.S. policies. In Somalia, we keep losing sight of the fact that al-Shabab has not conducted operations anywhere that was not related to occupation of Somalia, this is true for their operations in Uganda and their recent attack in Kenya. So much of this is tied to the U.S. sponsored Ethiopian invasion of Somalia. In Libya, our support in the overthrow of Gaddafi’s government, to include the killing of the man that the U.S. State Department had defined as a reliable ally in the war on terror, has led to continued chaos and a vacuum in government. Two years later we find ourselves having to kidnap a man responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people. How can we describe our operations in Libya to have been successful or a model for future operations as is so often described by administration officials or pundits?”
This week’s show looks at the US postal service and the War and Peace Process in Afghanistan. Our guests are Jeff Musto and Gareth Porter.
Jeff Musto is a public interest advocate and researcher for the Center for Study of Responsive Law, a non-profit founded by Ralph Nader in 1968. In this role he works on a variety of projects, including the preservation of the U.S. Postal Service by preventing further Post Office closings, service cuts, and job cuts; the benefits of a financial speculation tax and other revenue generating proposals; the expansion of the posting of government contracts online; and the impacts of the conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, among others. Prior to his work with the Center, he worked with the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. In his career as an advocate for the public interest, he has conducted research and analysis on a variety of issues, co-authored nationally released reports on government transparency and corporate tax loopholes, written works published in newspapers throughout the country, lobbied legislators, and directed grassroots citizen outreach campaigns.
Reuters reported this week that President Obama has endorsed a plan to “rescue” the Postal Service, including by reducing service one day a week.
Bloomberg reports: “A measure that may put the U.S. Postal Service under a control board, end to-the-door mail delivery and close post offices using the same process as military-base shutdowns was approved by a U.S. House panel. The bill, sponsored by Representatives Darrell Issa, a California Republican, and Dennis Ross, a Florida Republican, was approved today with Republican support and Democratic opposition.”
In a letter to Sen. Joseph Lieberman and Rep. Darrell Issa, Ralph Nader writes: “The deep hole of debt that is currently facing the U.S. Postal Service is entirely due to the burdensome prepayments for future retiree health care benefits imposed by Congress in the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (PAEA). By June 2011, the USPS saw a total net deficit of $19.5 billion … [this] deficit almost exactly matches the $20.95 billion the USPS made in prepayments to the fund for future retiree health care benefits by June 2011. If the prepayments required under PAEA were never enacted into law, the USPS would not have a net deficiency of nearly $20 billion, but instead be in the black by at least $1.5 billion.” Nader stresses that, in terms of retirees’ health benefits, the Postal Service is required to do things that “no other government or private corporation is required to do and is an incredibly unreasonable burden.”
Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, “Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam”, was published in 2006. He is an historian with a PhD in South-east Asian studies from Cornell University in New York state. He was Saigon Bureau Chief for Dispatch News Service in 1970 and 1971. Porter has taught international studies at City College of New York and American University and has written several books on Vietnam. He has also written on war and diplomacy in Cambodia, Korea and the Philippines. Porter has been a news analyst for IPS focusing on U.S. policy and developments in Iraq and Iran since September 2005. He has been on The Monitor several times, mostly to talk about events in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This week he joins us to talk about his two most recent articles:
You can find a full listing of his stories with IPS here