Monday, March 18, 2019

My Remarks at the Hands Off Venezuela Demonstration in D.C.

Fantastic demonstration in Washington on Saturday. Here's my brief contribution, introduced by Eugene Puryear:

Week in Review Discussion on The Crirical Hour (3/15/2019)

One Of New Zealand’s Darkest Days: White Supremacist Massacres 49 Inside 2 Mosques

It’s Friday; that means it is panel time!

Israel launches Gaza air attacks after rockets were fired at Tel Aviv. Israel's military says the attacks are in response to rockets fired by Hamas at Israeli civilians - a claim the group denies. Here’s what I find interesting: according to Al Jazeera, Hamas has denied responsibility for the attack on Tel Aviv, saying the rockets were launched when the group's military wing was meeting with Egyptian mediators to try to strengthen a ceasefire with Israel. In an unusual step that indicated Hamas was attempting to prevent further escalation, the interior ministry in Gaza said the rocket fire went "against the national consensus" and promised to take action against the perpetrators. Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees, two smaller Gaza armed factions, also denied responsibility. "These accusations are mere lies by the Israeli occupation," said Daoud Shihab, a spokesman for Islamic Jihad. "Our movement and its military wing, the Al-Quds Brigades, did not fire any rockets," he told Palestinian news agency Quds Network. With an Israeli election scheduled for April 9, I am more inclined to see this as a false flag operation.

At least 49 people were killed in an attack on two New Zealand mosques today by a gunman the authorities said professed white nationalist views, in the deadliest case of right-wing terrorism since 77 people were murdered in 2011 by an anti-Muslim extremist in Norway. A 28-year-old Australian has been charged with murder in Christchurch. A manifesto by a man claiming responsibility for the shootings said he had been inspired by Anders Breivik’s 2011 Norway attack and a 2015 shooting of a black church in South Carolina that killed nine. The gunman produced a 17-minute video, filmed while apparently carrying out the attacks. The attack comes just five months after the shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that left 11 dead.

US President Donald Trump issued the first veto of his presidency today to secure federal money for the border wall he promised as a candidate and considers a crucial priority for reelection, capping a week of confrontation with both political parties. “Today I am vetoing this resolution. Congress has the freedom to pass this resolution, and I have the duty to veto it,” Trump said. Twelve Republicans had joined Democrats to challenge Trump over his declaration of a national emergency at the US-Mexico border, which would allow the president to circumvent Congress and spend billions on wall construction.

Multiple nations and the European Union have grounded the Boeing 737 Max 8 after it was involved in two fatal crashes. President Trump finally announced Wednesday that his administration had grounded the Boeing 737 Max 8, making the United States became the last country to do so. Trump said, "The safety of the American people, of all people, is our paramount concern." The United States was the last holdout on grounding the aircraft after Canada on Wednesday joined the growing list of nations, including China, Britain, France and Germany, to make the call following an Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday that killed 157 people. The Federal Aviation Administration previously stood by the safety of the plane, saying it hadn't found any issues to merit a grounding order. In a statement issued after Trump's remarks, the FAA said the administration was reversing course based on "the data gathering process and new evidence collected at the site." 

The United States has withdrawn all remaining diplomatic personnel from its embassy in Caracas as the crisis in Venezuela deepens. "Today, all US diplomats remaining in Venezuela departed the country. I know it is a difficult moment for them," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement yesterday. Pompeo said earlier that diplomats were being removed because keeping them there limited US options. 

Pompeo today said he has “every expectation” that the United States will continue diplomatic talks with Pyongyang, after North Korean officials said leader Kim Jong Un is reconsidering his moratorium on missile launches and nuclear tests. North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui, addressing a meeting of diplomats and foreign media earlier this morning in Pyongyang, said the United States missed a golden opportunity when President Trump failed to reach an agreement with Kim at the leaders’ summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, last month.

According to Choe, Kim will decide soon whether to continue negotiations with the United States. He has no intention of doing so, she said, unless US officials take measures that are commensurate with the steps North Korea has already taken, referencing the 15-month moratorium on launches and tests. Choe also suggested that Pompeo and US National Security Adviser John Bolton created an environment of hostility and mistrust at the Hanoi summit, while Trump was more willing to talk, the AP reported. Pompeo said Friday he does not think the allegations will hamper his ability to aid future negotiations.


Jim Kavanagh — Political analyst and commentator and editor of The Polemicist. 

Caleb Maupin — Journalist and political analyst who focuses his coverage on US foreign policy and the global system of monopoly capitalism and imperialism.

Listen to "One Of New Zealand’s Darkest Days: White Supremacist Massacres 49 Inside 2 Mosques" on Spreaker.

The Critical Hour is a daily 60-minute news analysis and talk radio program on Radio Sputnik hosted by Dr. Wilmer Leon. Introduction above is theirs. 

Loud & Clear Discussion on New Documents About Democratic Party Emails

Newly unsealed documents shed light on investigation into 2016 DNC release (3/15/2019)

A federal judge in Florida yesterday ordered unsealed a trove of documents that the Washington Post asserts in a bold headline sheds new light on the hacking theft of Democratic Party emails. The documents include a forensic analysis by a former senior official in the FBI’s cybercrime division, and despite media protestations to the contrary, they shed no new light on who was responsible for the hack. Jim Kavanagh, the editor of, joins the show.

Listen to "Newly unsealed documents shed light on investigation into 2016 DNC release" on Spreaker.

Loud & Clear is a daily program of news, commentary, and political analysis on Radio Sputnik, hosted by Brian Becker and John Kiriakou, featuring independent experts, activists, and political writers. (Introduction above is theirs.)

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Loud & Clear Discussion on Second Manafort Sentencing

Paul Manafort sentenced for a second time

A federal judge in Washington sentenced former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to an additional three-and-a-half years in prison on two tax and corruption charges. The sentence comes just days after Manafort was sentenced to 47 months in prison by a federal judge in the Eastern District of Virginia. Talk in the mainstream media has now turned to the possibility of a presidential pardon for Manafort. Jim Kavanagh, the editor of, joins the show.

Listen to "Paul Manafort sentenced for a second time" on Spreaker.

Loud & Clear is a daily program of news, commentary, and political analysis on Radio Sputnik, hosted by Brian Becker and John Kiriakou, featuring independent experts, activists, and political writers. (Introduction above is theirs. This show aired on 3/13/2019.)

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Week in Review Discussion on The Critical Hour (3/8/2019)

Whistleblower Chelsea Manning Jailed For Not Snitching On WikiLeaks, Congressional "Anti-Hate" Resolution, Manafort Sentencing, Venezuela (My segment begins ~8:30)

On this episode of The Critical Hour, Dr. Wilmer Leon is joined by Alex Rubinstein, MintPress News analyst and journalist. 

Federal Judge Claude M. Hilton in Alexandria, Virginia, has ordered Chelsea Manning, the former US Army intelligence officer and whistle-blower who served seven years in prison for passing information to WikiLeaks, to be held in jail for refusing to answer questions before a grand jury. Manning will be held until she testifies or until the grand jury concludes its work, the judge ruled in the closed contempt hearing earlier today. What’s going on with Chelsea Manning?

It started as a resolution condemning anti-Semitism. Then, anti-Muslim bias was added in. After that came white supremacy. And by the end, it cited “African-Americans, Native Americans, and other people of color, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, immigrants and others” victimized by bigotry. Notably absent were Catholics who don’t like puppies and Protestants who don’t like re-runs of "Barney Miller." The resolution condemning “hateful expressions of intolerance” passed the House of Representatives by an overwhelming 407 to 23 vote late yesterday afternoon. Twenty-three Republican lawmakers voted against the resolution, arguing the measure was “watered down” and failed to properly condemn Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-MN) recent controversial remarks on US-Israel relations.

The sentencing of Paul Manafort was highly anticipated, but it was an unlikely candidate to become the latest example of a conflict that has vexed legal professionals and activists for decades: systemic inequality in the criminal justice system. It’s interesting to me that it takes this sentencing to raise this issue. For example, in 2009, Judge T.S. Ellis III was the judge in the corruption case of former United States Representative William J. Jefferson, who was indicted and convicted of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. On August 5, 2009, he was found guilty of 11 of 16 corruption counts. On November 13, 2009, Jefferson was sentenced to 13 years in prison, the longest sentence given to a congressman. He began serving his sentence in 2012, and in 2017, Judge Ellis addressed Jeffersons's appeal, throwing out seven of his convictions; in December of that year, Jefferson pleaded guilty to three charges in a retrial, and Ellis sentenced him to time served, making Jefferson a free man. Yet, as Judge Ellis handed down Manafort's sentence in a jam-packed Alexandria, Virginia, courtroom Thursday, and observers digested the judge’s decision — 47 months — Manafort’s case was immediately perceived as a high-profile instance of the justice system working one way for a wealthy, well-connected man, while working in another, harsher way for indigent defendants facing lesser crimes.

During a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Thursday, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio condemned Venezuelan President Nicol├ís Maduro as a “clear danger” and a “threat to the national security of the US.” As was to be expected, the hearing was filled with plenty of threats and talk of flipping “military elites” and enforcing tougher sanctions. At the same time, Venezuela was suffering one of its most severe power outages in recent history, which stretched into a second day Friday, with hospital patients languishing in the dark, most supermarkets closed, and phone service largely out in the oil-rich but economically collapsing country. Maduro blamed the outage on sabotage by the US government, which has backed an opposition effort to force out the leader. He offered no evidence for the claim and ordered schools and offices closed Friday because of the blackout. But perhaps unexpected was just how out in the open and brazen were Rubio’s own admissions of how far he’s willing to go in promoting regime change in Caracas. In public testimony, he called on the US to promote “widespread unrest” in Venezuela in order to eventually bring down the Maduro government.


Alex Rubinstein — MintPress News analyst and journalist. 

Jim Kavanagh — Political analyst and commentator and editor of The Polemicist.

Daniel Lazare — Journalist and author of three books: "The Frozen Republic," "The Velvet Coup" and "America's Undeclared War."

Listen to "Whistleblower Chelsea Manning Jailed For Not Snitching On WikiLeaks" on Spreaker.

The Critical Hour is a daily 60 minute news analysis and talk radio program on Radio Sputnik hosted by Dr. Wilmer Leon. Introduction above is theirs. 

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Be Careful What You Ask For: Wasting Time with Manafort, Cohen, and Russiagate

Twitter/@dserman2407 So, Paul Manafort, described by the New York Times as “a longtime lobbyist and political consultant who worked f...