Spirit In Action

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Truthout Daily Digest | Sunday, February 21,2015

I read the article in the Buzzflash section below that is the latest in the witch-hunt propaganda against the anti-vaccine movement. I’m disturbed by the repetitive propaganda vilifying people who have concerns without ever once addressing those valid concerns.

If I could find documentation that toxic preservatives had been completely removed and banned legally from being used in vaccine preparation- I would be overjoyed.

The dangers the pro-vaccine propaganda discuss are serious. I’m sure every educated parent who avoids vaccines due to things like thimerosal (because mercury is a well documented neurotoxin that should never be injected into children! ) is losing sleep and sick with stress over such a heart and gut wrenching choice.

If we weren’t being treated as slaves to the corporations and the 1% it would be self evident that such pertinent information as to the formulation and regulation of vaccine manufacturing should be in EVERY article about the subject.

I personally believe that people with the genetic basis for autism are often more sensitive to toxic exposure. This would explain the correlation that the pro vaccine propaganda say is not causative.

It doesn’t matter if the toxics used in vaccine formulas specifically “cause autism”. The significant point is that there is no good reason to endanger children by exposing them to known neurotoxins at such fragile ages.

We can use other less toxic preservatives! Why is that not obvious?

If we as a society decided collectively that mandatory vaccination was necessary then the first order of business should be to ensure beyond a shadow of a doubt that the formulation and regulation of their manufacture were absolutely safe.

Which the laws that say parents cannot sue manufacturers for damages when children are harmed make very clear is NOT the case.

We have, as our Constitution makes clear, certain inalienable rights. Even had the U.S. Constitution never been written, all human beings still would have these rights. It’s instinctual even in single celled organisms to avoid harm to the self. Most animals, including humans, will also fight to prevent harm to their children.

It’s unconscionable to override this for profit.

I hope this issue, like the issues of corruption, money controlling politics, GMO’S and other clean food issues, can unite us. We do have much in common across the heavily programmed boundaries that supposedly divide all Americans into two sheeplike herds ever butting heads.

In the end we are all human beings. We have basically the same needs. We have more in common than different-even two people who appear incredibly different.

If we could just let go of fear, anger and hatred. If we could just open our hearts to one another, feel one another’s struggles and difficulty. We could move beyond fake teams to genuine caring and understanding. Then, together, we would be unstoppable.

I know “American Exceptionalism” is bunk. We are not somehow born special. Much of what makes our country great comes from the mixture. It comes from people of all different countries, races, religions and worldviews finding ways to work together and solve problems effectively. We have done this in no small part by overcoming the fears and hatreds that could divide us.

The public health problems caused by infectious diseases will never be solved by force. They cannot be solved by crushing some to benefit others. They must be solved by making people accountable.

If corporations CEO’s are held personally accountable for harm due to their negligence, if corporations are held financially accountable for harm their products cause then we can expect products to be safer.

If governments want to mandate vaccination then they must also mandate vaccine safety.

And once those necessary steps are accomplished only then is it reasonable to hold individuals and families accountable for their choices in regard to vaccination.

I don’t think many people would choose to avoid vaccination unless it was a medical issue, or a serious conflict with their religious beliefs-IF the vaccines were guaranteed to be safe.


Evaluating Police Psychology: Who Passes the Test?

Candice Bernd, Truthout: With no national standards for screening police applicants, specialized psychologists may rely on tests unfocused on predicting aggression, and incumbent officers’ personality profiles are not typically re-evaluated post-hire. Meanwhile, the mental and emotional consequences of policing leave entire communities with deep psychological trauma.

Read the Article

Nancy J. Altman: Expand Social Security Now

Mark Karlin, Truthout: Nancy J. Altman, co-founder of the group Social Security Works, debunks many myths about Social Security and calls for its expansion in a Truthout interview.

Read the Interview

Central America “Aid” Won’t Slow Migration

Jane Guskin and David L. Wilson, Truthout: The US government’s new aid plan for Central America will only deepen the economic and human rights crises that led refugees to flee in 2014.

Read the Article

Happy Birthday RW Johnson! A Legacy

Kathleen Sharp, Truthout: There are too many similarities between the heyday of quack remedies and today‘s crisis in Big Pharma.

Read the Article

Profiles in Courage: The 38 Democrats Who Publicly Broke With Netanyahu’s War Polemic

Robert Naiman, Truthout: Proposals for action that the right-wing Israeli government might disapprove of have generally had about the same effect on Democrats as proposals for action that the National Rifle Association might disapprove of. In such a context, the Democrats who have so far distanced themselves from Benjamin Netanyahu are courageous.

Read the Article

Amy Goodman | As Extreme Cold Engulfs Eastern US, Fossil Fuel Mishaps Leave Disaster Areas on Fire

Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!: “Climate policy and energy policy are not usually discussed together in this country,” says Stephen Kretzmann, executive director of Oil Change International. “Climate change means that we need to transition away from fossil fuels, sooner rather than later.”

Watch the Video and Read the Transcript

The Front Page Rule

Kathy Kelly, teleSUR: “As drone warfare proliferates, as the stings of the drone become more lethal and terrifying, the peace activists hold a newsworthy message. I’m glad CODEPINK members continually interrupt high-level hearings.”

Read the Article

Washington’s Prying Eyes

Kirsten Weld, North American Congress on Latin America: Edward Snowden’s 2013 revelations about the NSA’s global surveillance practices sparked outrage around the world, but nowhere more than in Latin America, where US efforts to project its influence have long been concentrated.

Read the Article

When Your Armed Neighbor Comes Knocking

Mitchell Zimmerman, OtherWords: Craig Hicks, who murdered three Muslim-American students in Chapel Hill, carried one of his many guns to their door. What kind of country do we live in, where it’s legal for a man to bring a weapon to a noise complaint?

Read the Article

What Are We Doing to Our Children’s Brains?

Elizabeth Grossman, Ensia: The numbers are startling. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1.8 million more children in the US were diagnosed with developmental disabilities between 2006 and 2008 than a decade earlier. Environmental chemicals are wreaking havoc to last a lifetime.

Read the Article

Richard D. Wolff | Economic Update: Free Enterprise System Defects

Richard D. Wolff, Truthout: This episode provides updates on Europeans’ struggles against austerity policies. We also respond to questions about how workers’ self-directed enterprises solve various problems, especially financing and uneven skill levels. Finally, we give an in-depth critical discussion of the “free enterprise” system.

Listen to the Audio Segment


Bill O’Reilly Accused of Falsely Claiming Heroic War Coverage

Mark Karlin, BuzzFlash at Truthout: It should be no surprise that Bill O’Reilly – who was once a TV reporter and is now a bloviating television pundit espousing a caricature of jingoistic “Christian” virtues – is being accused of embellishing his war-reporting record.

Read the BuzzFlash Commentary

Solar Industry Prepares for Battle Against Koch Brothers’ Front Groups

Read the Article at BuzzFlash

How Spies Stole the Keys to the Encryption Castle

Read the Article at The Intercept

As the Rich Get Richer, Unions Are Poised for Comeback

Read the Article at Bloomberg News

“Children Do Not Migrate – They Flee”: Striking Photos From Poverty-Ravaged Guatemala

Read the Article at Mother Jones

What the Anti-Vax Movement Doesn’t Tell You About Measles

Read the Article at The Nation

Rudy Giuliani: Obama Had White Mother, So I’m Not Racist

Read the Article at The New York Times

David Swanson: Where Do US War Dead Come From?

Read the Article at War Is A Crime

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Truthout Daily Digest | Saturday, 7 February, 2015

“Progressive” Gentrification: One Community’s Struggle Against Affordable Housing

Aaron Cantú, Truthout: Under the mayor’s affordable housing plan, a New York City neighborhood’s rezoning may result in its own kind of gentrification. Some Brooklyn residents were told they must accept rezoning, and likely development near transit lines, if they want to protect other parts of their community.

Read the Article

Hillary Clinton in Winnipeg: An Exercise in Cognitive Dissonance

Harrison Samphir, Truthout: Hillary Clinton’s embryonic presidential campaign made two stops in Canada on January 21. The former secretary of state spoke about terrorism and human rights, but hid a damaging foreign policy record veiled in the language of populism. It was a textbook case of cognitive dissonance.

Read the Article

Climate Change Is Violence

Rebecca Solnit, Trinity University Press: If you’re poor, the only way you’re likely to injure someone is the old traditional way: artisanal violence. But if you’re tremendously wealthy, you can practice industrial-scale violence without any manual labor on your own part. Climate change is global-scale violence against places and species.

Read the Excerpt

Bringing Fanon’s Concerning Violence to Film

Alnoor Ladha, Truthout: Activist and author Alnoor Ladha interviews coproducer Joslyn Barnes about Göran Hugo Olsson’s film, Concerning Violence, which explores African liberation struggles of the 1960s and 1970s.

Read the Interview

Friends Like These

Raul A. Reyes, OtherWords: GOP presidential hopefuls are cozying up to anti-immigrant extremists and right-wing billionaires. Letting hardliners dictate immigration policy makes Republicans look long on ugly rhetoric and short on real solutions.

Read the Article

Fox News: PR Department for ISIS

The Daily Take Team, The Thom Hartmann Program: By airing the gruesome video of Jordanian fighter pilot Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh being burned alive, Fox News gave ISIS some free exposure and became the newest member of its propaganda machine.

Read the Article

Populist Movement’s “Ground Zero”: The Effort to Reclaim Chicago

Jacob Swenson-Lengyel, Campaign for America’s Future: In the broader struggle for the soul of the Democratic Party, Chicago is ground zero. There, populists, led by Reclaim Chicago, are working to build a lasting independent political movement to upend the corporate rule of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his rubber-stamp city council.

Read the Article

How to Get Serious About Ending the ISIS War

Sarah Lazare, Foreign Policy in Focus: Now is a critical time to seek to understand and build solidarity with Iraqi and Syrian civil societies and strengthen awareness here at home of the tremendous political and ethical debt the United States owes all people harmed by the now-discredited war on Iraq and the crises it set in motion.

Read the Article

The Obama Administration and Immigration Policy: The Immigration Enforcement Record in Recent Years

Nikki Hager, The Council on Hemispheric Affairs: The Obama administration has deported more immigrants than most of its predecessors. The president is, however, taking a more progressive approach than in the past, granting the opportunity for temporary deportation relief to more than 5 million undocumented immigrants. Here is an overview of President Obama’s immigration policies.

Read the Article

The Lone-Wolf Terror Trap

Matthew Harwood, TomDispatch: There’s only one problem with the rising crescendo of alarm about lone wolf terrorists: most of it simply isn’t true. Worst of all, its recent highlighting paves the way for increased abusive and counterproductive police and national security practices, like infiltration of minority and activist communities and elaborate sting operations that ensnare the vulnerable.

Read the Article

Murder, Mass Incarceration, Militarization and Genocide in Progress

Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo and Kevin Berends, Black Agenda Report: Mass incarceration; state-sponsored murder coast-to-coast; the impoverishment of black wealth through wholesale thievery by corporate and banking foreclosures; and the militarization of police: Had these crimes against African Americans been committed in a theater of war, they would rise to the level of genocide as defined by the United Nations.

Read the Article

A Theory About European Naval Domination

Paul Krugman, Krugman & Co.: Western Europe had a disproportionately large number of skilled open-sea sailors. Very few of them would have been engaged in warfare in normal times, or even during wars. Can’t we argue that these sailors provided a base of skills that gave the Atlantic fringe a big military advantage at sea?

Read the Article

Take Roots Action!

Governor Cuomo of New York has declared a statewide ban on fracking. Local citizen-led initiatives in Ohio, Texas, New Mexico and California have likewise led to the banning of the practice.

Let’s ban it everywhere!


Religion Should Be What Binds Us Together, Not What Justifies Killing Each Other

Mark Karlin, BuzzFlash at Truthout: We do not need to look to sources outside ourselves for the divine; we need to look to the divine in each other.

Read the BuzzFlash Commentary

How Do We Stop a Temper Tantrum War?

Read the Article at BuzzFlash

Claims Against Saudis Cast Light on Secrets of 9/11 Report

Read the Article at The New York Times

Diane Rehm Examines the Dangers of Monsanto’s Roundup and Dow’s Enlist Duo Herbicides

Read the Article at BuzzFlash

NBC’s Brian Williams Forced to Retract Story About Coming Under Fire in Iraq

Read the Article at The Guardian

Twelve-Year-Olds Are Fair Game: Michelle Malkin and the Right’s Ugly New Smear Strategy

Read the Article at Salon

Air Pollution and Kids: Altered Brain, Memory, IQ

Read the Article at Science Daily

US Judge Appointed to Head UN Gaza War Crimes Inquiry

Read the Article at Jurist

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9 things you need to know about Venezuela and the recent violence

9 things you need to know about Venezuela and the recent violence
February 27, 2014 Imperialism, Popular Struggle, World

by Pablo Vivanco

1. The students marches are from the right-wing of the student movement

Unlike in places like Chile, there is no single or united student movement in Venezuela. Not only are students groups highly decentralized, but they are also divided along political lines.

Another unique feature of the student groups identifying with the opposition is that they do not organize around accessible or free education (since education has been made accessible to the sector of society that was previously excluded, resulting in an increase of 1,809,432 post-secondary students from 1999 to 2014).

The most recent opposition student demonstrations began in the western city of Tachira near the Colombian border. On the third day of student demonstrations about insecurity on the campus, the State Governor’s house was attacked and four people were subsequently arrested (two of whom weren’t students). These arrests led to student demonstrations in other cities – all of these demonstrations were not shut down by police – which led to the February 12th demonstration, where three people died.

On February 12, however, its important to know that there were thousands of Bolivarian students and youth marching for ‘El Dia de la Juventud’ (Youth Day), on the other side of Caracas. When speaking about the ‘student movement’ the logical question that has to follow is ‘which one’?

Part of the Pro-Government student march on February 12th, 2014 (via Agencia Venezolana de Noticias)
2. Most have died due to violence and sabotage of far right ‘protesters’

Number games with deaths of people is unpleasant. However, given how much of the coverage around the violence has been presented – as direct state violence against peaceful protests – an account of how the violence has played out is necessary.

Of the now 13 deaths directly resulting from the protests, at least five of the deaths have occurred at the barricades erected by the protesters at different sites, including motorcyclists who have been decapitated by barbed-wire booby-traps set up.

Protestors following the instructions of General Vivas to set the wired booby traps at intersections that have claimed two lives by decapitation. (via albaciudad.org)
Other deaths include the murder of Juan Montoya, a leader of the leftist Tupamaros and the assassination of Arturo Alexis Martinez, the brother of a socialist National Assembly member who was shot from a balcony sniper as he cleared debris from the blockades.

Three opposition protesters have been killed, including former beauty contestant Genesis Carmona who other protesters and ballistics reports indicate was shot from behind – that is, from other protesters. Jimmy Vargas, age 34, died when he accidentally fell from his building as confirmed in a video from CNN. His mother blames the government and Maduro. Bassil Dacosta, another student opposition protester was shot on February 12.

A total of nine members of the Venezuelan security forces are under arrest, including three officials from the Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional (SEBIN) under investigation in relation to the deaths of Dacosta and Montoya. Three other arrested police officers, two from Chacao and one from Merida (with each city claiming 1 of the dead), are members of police forces under the command of opposition Mayors.

The head of the SEBIN was sacked after February 12 for failing to comply with the specific order from President Maduro to not send SEBIN into the streets on that day.

Some 30 others have died from not receiving adequate medical attention due to the blockades.

All of these deaths are tragic. But even these deaths need to be put into perspective. The vast majority of the deaths are not attributable to agents of Bolivarian government and there is no impunity for those who may be responsible for the deaths or abuse of people.

3. There has been massive media manipulation

When the Venezuelan Chamber of Commerce, Catholic Church, Military High Command and trade union centre organized their coup back in 2002, there was no Facebook or Twitter. The media in Venezuela at this point, was completely in private hands except for the state-owned VTV (which the opposition stormed during the coup and whose signal they closed down). To justify the coup, the private media manipulated images and footage of street demonstrations to suggest that the government and its supporters had killed unarmed protesters (sound familiar?). It was through informal networks and word of mouth – what people in Venezuela call radio bemba – that people found out about the coup and organized against it.

Today, with the advances in democratizing media (through the hundreds of community-run TV and radio stations) and holding private media accountable, the traditional media does not have a monopoly over information. New and social media however, has demonstrated its power to influence the perspectives of what is happening in Venezuela, especially outside of Venezuela. More than this, it has shown the extent to which events and realities can be distorted.

A recent article by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) highlights this issue. The article calls into question the accuracy and credibility of an article written by Francisco Toro, editor of opposition web site Caracas Chronicles, where the article titled “The Game Changed Last Night” was published. The article claims that there were paramilitary style incursions into wealthy neighbourhoods of Caracas with motorcyclists “shooting at anyone who seemed like he might be protesting.” This article was shared half a million times, including among many leftists and progressives despite the dubious authorship and questionable information. Toro’s defense for publishing unverified rumours: “I am NOT a reporter”.

This is but one of the countless exaggerated, manipulated and uncorroborated tweets, YouTube videos and other postings – even showing images of police brutality in other countries – that are circulating in order to demonize the government and its supporters. This is not a coincidence, but rather version 2.0 of the 2002 media coup.

The propaganda campaign has been relentless, and unfortunately effective.

4. There has been an active campaign to sabotage the Venezuelan economy

Much has been made and said about the causes of these demonstrations and the real challenges Venezuelans face.

There is no doubt that there are real and legitimate grievances and issues concerning crime and access to goods. However, what has been missing from this narrative are the initiatives from the government and social movements to address these and, perhaps more importantly, the contributions of Venezuela’s opposition to creating and exacerbating these problems.

Inflation is often cited as a problem in Venezuela, reaching 56% this January. However, inflation is not a new feature in this oil-exporting country. The inflation rate in Venezuela has averaged 26.78% between 1973 and 2014, reaching an all time high of 115.18% in September of 1996. Inflation was lower than 18% as recently as December of 2012, so inflation is not the cause of scarcity or economic grievances that have been cited.

Indeed, there is scarcity in certain parts of Venezuela. And by scarcity, this means that things are hard to come by in stores. Why is this? The answer is that this scarcity is a deliberate campaign by producers, transporters and vendors to hoard and withhold goods, in collusion with speculators, price gougers and others shipping things to sell for dollars across the Colombian border. Proof? In the first half of 2013, at least 40,000 tons of food has been found hidden in various locations. Later in that year, several large chains such as Daka were fined and ordered to lower their prices for marking up prices by as much as 1,200% on goods and electronics.

The Venezuelan government has looked to tackle this problem, but there has been resistance to their measures. The Institute for the Defence of People in Access to Goods and Services (INDEPABIS) has responded to the thousands of tips and complaints about hoarding and price-gouging, heading up massive investigations of merchants resulting in arrests, fines, price-redressing as well as the recovery of hoarded goods. However, the political opposition has opposed the government measures including price controls and actions to go after this type of abuse and economic sabotage, calling it a plan for ‘anarchy.’ In addition, two people armed with grenades tried to assassinate INDEPABIS President Eduardo Saman.

On the streets, these protests also coincided with the implementation of a new national law for controlling prices. Not to mention that in various places, such as Carabobo and Zulia, protesters have burned trucks stacked with food (produced from the state operated PDVAL) headed for subsidized markets in working class neighbourhoods.

This form of economic sabotage mirrors the campaign against Salvador Allende’s government in Chile, where hoarding was rampant and transportation of goods hampered by a strike and violent attacks from the organized fascist outfit, Patria y Libertad. Goods remained scarce until the day after the coup on September 11, 1973.

5. Crime is a regional problem and the opposition doesn’t pose solutions

So this brings us to crime. It is true that insecurity, especially in working-class neighbourhoods, is an issue of concern to Venezuelans. Crime and especially gun crime have been historic problems in Venezuela. But what accounts for the rise in crime, especially gun crime?

The proliferation of heavy artillery and guns in Venezuela, accompanying the drug trade, is massive. Despite concentrated government efforts to combat drug cartels moving cocaine through the country (ranking 4th in the world in seizures), most accounts recognize that drug trafficking is still prolific. Connected with this are unregistered firearms, with estimates ranging from 1,100,000 to 2,700,000, although this is likely much higher. This is of course a regional problem, with identical problems in similar statistics in Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico. In Venezuela however, there is an added political motive to at least one important player in the crime and insecurity – paramilitaries from the Colombian conflict.

There are an estimated 4.5 million Colombians residing in Venezuela. The vast majority of these people have immigrated beginning in the 1990s and especially in the early 2000s, escaping the violence of the Colombian conflict and looking for ‘cheaper’ living conditions. The Venezuelan government began a regularization program in 2004.

During this same period, Colombia was ‘demobilizing’ paramilitaries linked to mass murders and drug trafficking. Some of these paramilitaries have gone into Venezuela within the wave of Colombians, to continue their previous activities. Paramilitary groups have been caught in Venezuela on numerous occasions and have assassinated pro-government activists in rural areas as well as in urban centres.

The problem of crime is not a national problem, but a complex regional problem that is inextricably related to drug trafficking.

So what is the opposition asking for to deal with crime? Opposition Mayors and Governors have in certain cases, such as in the rich municipality of Chacao, where much of the rioting in Caracas is taking place, have refused to fold their historically corrupt and brutal police forces and accept the centralized, Policia Nacional Bolivariana (who are provided with extensive training including in sociology and dealing with and relating to the community and peoples they service). So they are not asking for more police.

Instead, the only discernable call is for the disarmament of the ‘colectivos’ – armed, independent political organizations from militant, working-class neighbourhoods. Despite being characterized by the opposition as government sponsored paramilitaries, they pre-date the Chavez government and are known to sharply guard their autonomy from it. Moreover from that, these self-financed organizations are predominantly political in nature, running community programs, media and even beautification projects. Not only are these groups the first line of defense against a coup (as they were in 2002) but they are also on the front lines against crime. In the 23 de Enero neighbourhood for example, these groups came to an agreement with the municipal government to have police removed and operate their own neighbourhood watch. Crime in this neighbourhood is handled effectively, if somewhat severely.

The opposition’s lack of a clear vision for tackling crime betrays their disingenuousness.

6. The claims of ‘state repression’ and ‘media censorship’ are at best, exaggerated

Beyond the fact that the majority of those hurt or killed from the recent violence are victims of the protests, the issue of state repression is something people invariably question when they see an opposition leader jailed, or military deployed.

Leopoldo Lopez, the wealthy, Harvard-educated former Mayor of Chacao, was arrested following his promoting the escalation of street demonstrations against the government to generate ‘La Salida’ (The Exit). This led to three deaths on February 12 and at least seven since. Lopez, who during his time in office was sanctioned for influence-peddling and embezzlement of funds, as well as illegal fund transfers, took active part in the 2002 coup and led mobs searching for and assaulting Chavista ministers. Prior to his arrest, government officials revealed to Lopez’s family that there was a plan afoot to assassinate him, and acted to prevent this from happening (a fact that Lopez’ wife confirmed on CNN).

Aside from Lopez who was particularly brazen in his calls for the streets to take down the government, some 50 others are being held directly in connection with violence causing serious injury, such as the SEBIN officers in question around the murders of Bassil Dacosta and Juan Montoya, as well as a driver who ran someone over trying to avoid a protester barricade.

Importantly, it must be acknowledged that in Tachira and other places, students blocked roads and protested without any government or police interference and it was not until the official residence of Governor of Tachira was attacked that the any arrests were made. These arrests were the apparent catalysts that set off student demonstrations which escalated violence in Tachira and other cities.

Tweet from former Venezuelan General: “To neutralize the criminal hoardes on motorcycles, you should place nylon or GALVANIZED (Barbed) WIRE at 1.20 m in height across the mouth of an intersection”. Two people have been decapitated by this method so far (via Twitter @Gral_Vivas_P)
So then what about the control and clampdown of media? Despite claims to the contrary, the total broadcasters of the state have a tremendously low share of the market – only 5%. Opposition newspapers and websites operate without restriction, and as evidenced by the extent of falsified posts circulating over social media, these continue to operate freely. A morbid testament to this reality is a tweet sent by former General Vivas, instructing people to set up “nylon rope or galvanized wire at 1.20 meters height in the streets” in order to “neutralize the hordes”. At least two have died from such traps.

This violence also occurs less than a year after the violence following the 2013 presidential elections. Having narrowly lost the elections, opposition candidate Henrique Capriles called for people to go out and “discharge their rage,” leading to the deaths of seven pro-government activists and another 61 injured. In addition, violent opposition demonstrators burned several of the Barrio Adentro medical clinics, offices of the national telephone company, subsidized super markets, social housing as well as other social property. When we talk about context, there needs to be an acknowledgement that this, the assassinations and attempts on leaders (not just Chavez), the oil strike, the 2002 coup and the countless massacres and mass repressions under the previous regime, is the context.

Put into context, the Venezuelan government’s response to this level of reactionary street violence has been quite restrained and balanced by any standard, and would certainly not be tolerated in any part of North America by governments like Canada, the U.S., or Mexico. But the Bolivarian government understands that the opposition and its international backers are looking for just such a pretext to step-up their campaigns.

A section of the opposition has been calling and demonstrating capacity for armed insurgency. (via aporrea.org)
7. Overall, the opposition has demonstrated itself to be uninterested in democracy, dialogue and has never conceded the government

Over the last 15 years, 19 electoral events have taken place in Venezuela, 18 of which have been won by Chavismo. There are close to 40,000 communal councils, democratic and participatory citizen-initiated and run bodies, that can basically administer their neighbourhood. If Venezuelans think an elected official – any elected official, from bottom to the very top – is failing at their job, they can initiate a recall refendum vote. This was most spectacularly carried out against Hugo Chavez in 2004 (who won the referendum handily with 58% of votes in his favour). So how can Venezuela’s democratic credentials be questioned? Why are the characterization of the government as ‘autocratic’ and ‘totalitarian’ still so common?

Because the opposition says so.

The political opposition, which has not been able to win a presidential election since 1998, has cried ‘fraud’ after virtually every election in spite of testimony of international monitors to the contrary, and they have held all kinds of other posts through the same elections they decry. Capriles, for example, is still Governor of Miranda even while refusing to acknowledge the legitimacy of Venezuela’s electoral system.

Reports indicate that Danny Vargas was stabbed to death for trying to pass through a blockade in Tachira (via albaciudad.org).
This is the same opposition whose leading members organized and carried out the massacres that paved the way for their short-lived 2002 coup. This is the same opposition that took part in the coup which abolished the constitution, the national assembly, the judiciary, the ombuds, etc. At the time, Capriles was the Mayor of Baruta in Caracas and Lopez the Mayor of Chacao in Caracas. They both took active parts in the coup, including leading roving mobs looking for Chavista ministers and also participating in aggressions against the Cuban Embassy. Maria Corina Machado, a leader of the opposition, was a signatory to the Carmona decree which abolished the rule of law under the junta created by the 2002 coup.

This is also the same opposition that was government for 40 years prior to the election of Chavez – governments that were responsible for countless human rights violations and massacres. Under the Punto Fijo Pact, three parties agreed to a corporatist ‘power-sharing’ agreement. Many of the opposition players descend from these three parties. Antonio Ledezma for example, another major opposition leader and Mayor of the Greater Caracas area, was a Deputy of the National Assembly during the Caracazo massacre of 1989 that claimed 3,000 lives, and was also Governor of Caracas in 1992 when police were sent in to kill 200 prisoners in the Retén de Catia jail to quell a prison riot. These are the ‘democrats’ in Venezuela. These are the defenders of ‘human rights’ we are being presented with in the media here in North America.

This is an opposition that openly receives at least US$40 million per year from the United States to undermine the Bolivarian Revolution.

This is the also the opposition that has refused talks with Maduro.

This is an opposition that has never conceded that they are, in fact, the opposition. This is an opposition has simply refused to acknowledge that the majority of Venezuelans have opted to not have them in power. This is an opposition that has never let go of their entitlement, their privilege, their scorn for the poorer, darker majority that they saw reflected in Chavez, and now Maduro – a former bus driver.

8. Fascism and imperialism are very present threats to Venezuela

As much as it would be great to characterize the current situation as a small group of privileged extremists against a 99%, that is not the situation. While the opposition is undoubtedly under right-wing leadership and there is no – this bears repeating – no left or revolutionary tendency within the political opposition, there is a mass of people that have been won over to the political opposition.

More importantly, there is a section of the masses within the opposition that has demonstrated its willingness to use lethal violence to achieve its political ends.

Undoubtedly there are sincere elements within the ranks of the opposition and students who may be frustrated, disillusioned or simply duped by the haranguing about ‘cubanization.’ But there also also those who have been burning primary schools, supply trucks, public transportation, public institutions, blocking ambulances and setting up booby traps to kill and maim.

Colombian Paramilitaries captured training at private ranch in Tachira (via aporrea.org)
These are reactionary activities with reactionary ends. Fascism doesn’t simply involve a state oppressing people, but has historically implicated mobilization of a mass of people and using a section of that mass as a violent shock troop. This was true of Germany, as in Italy, as in Spain. In closer proximity to Venezuela, it was also true of Chile. The Colombian paramilitaries, who have been actively killing trade unionists, campesino organizers and anything ‘communist’ since the 1980s, are also an example of this and a player in this conflict.

It is simply not tenable to allow this activity and these groups to operate, to terrorize a population. Given the numerous avenues and channels for Venezuelans to organize themselves, replace politicians, run their spaces and communities outside of bourgeois institutions, violence against institutions of the people are unacceptable.

This is where imperialism fits in. Violence is being fomented in order to illicit a disproportionate and violent response from government or its supporters – a response that would justify a possible intervention of some sort. So far that has not happened.

However as events in Syria and Libya show, coupled with revelations yesterday of a captured, foreign mercenary in Aragua with plans to set off car bombs, the threat that cries of state ‘violence’ will be used to justify foreign intervention is real.

9. The majority of people still support the Bolivarian process and government – and we should side with them

Oil Workers rally in support of Maduro Government on February 18th, 2014 ( via Twitter @Ever_Marquina)
Forget about whether Venezuela’s economy is still capitalist, or whether its government is socialist or communist. The fact is that the majority of Venezuelan people still support it and the institutions of government.

Just this past December 2013, the Socialist Party and its allies won 76% of mayoralties. Just this week, the private consultancy firm Hinterlaces confirmed that 71% of the country feels that Venezuela’s political future should be decided through the constitutional electoral process. Only 29% support the government’s forced “exit” through street actions.

Perhaps more importantly, it is still evident on the streets and communities of Venezuela, where hundreds of thousands of oil workers, women, pensioners, youth, motorcyclists, community activists, peasants and other sectors have taken to the streets in separate marches across the country demanding peace and respect for their will.

“Peace Rally” by motorcyclists opposed to the opposition-led violence (via Reuters).


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Carl Boudreau’s Astrology Blog: The Astrology of February 2014 – Fast Forward

Saturday, February 01, 2014

The Astrology of February 2014 – Fast Forward


The Astrology of February 2014

Fast Forward

January Recap

Governments have been solidly gridlocked over a broad range of issues for more than five years. In recent months, this gridlock has begun to ease noticeably.

This easing came about as people stopped thinking in partisan political terms and began thinking in moral and ethical terms and taking responsibility.

In January, debate and activism at the grassroots level accelerated recovery from gridlock. Individuals at the community level took common cause and evoked remedial action from governmental. The development has distinctly spiritual and moral overtones.


A Bridge Over Troubling Waters

The burgeoning scandal in New Jersey is a case in point.

In September, several traffic lanes were unexpectedly closed on the George Washington bridge, reputed to be the busiest bridge in the world. The four-day lane closing “turned the entire town of Fort Lee, NJ into a parking lot.” It caused long, painful, costly delays, impeding commuters, commercial traffic, children traveling, to school the movement of public service and emergency vehicles. All of this coincided with the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

Local newspaper reporters and local and state leaders found evidence indicating political misbehavior behind the lane closings – implicating the governor’s staff and supporters and, apparently, the governor himself.

The scandal quickly grew, as evidence suggested a pattern of abuse. Suspicions multiplied and accusations flew. They soon drew the attention of the national media and the US Department of Justice. At this writing, evidence against the Christie administration is mounting.

Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, was a rising Republican star, widely expected to run for president in 2016. His reputation has been badly damaged. His fate will undoubtedly affect the political and economic balance of power in the United States and possibly the world for years to come.

In general, we are seeing activism and significant movement on many important issues at the state and grassroots level – the legalization of pot, the legalization of gay marriage, movement against fracking, against drug testing for welfare recipients in Florida, against voter suppression and so on. It is spurring action on the national level.

Initiative Shifts to the Grassroots

In February, the issues and the social and political dynamics are familiar. What is new and important is the accelerated evolution of personal and public attitudes. February sharply enhances our awareness of the inner workings of our own minds, showing us more than we are prepared to deal with, perhaps. It also magnifies the role of grassroots activism.


February’s Chart – Mooning Around

February’s chart includes numerous influences that speed up the process of change and adaptation.

There are seven moons during the months of January, February and March: three in January, one in February and three in March. Two of the moons in January are so-called Supermoons.In other words, there is one extra moon.

In any given 30 day period, there are three moons. To get a better sense of the overall arc of events I based February’s analysis on a chart combining:

  • The New Moon on January 31st, a Supermoon
  • The Full Moon on February 14th, late on Valentine’s Day,
  • The New Moon on March 1st.

All times are GMT.
Accelerated Personality Updating

The Moon governs the short term cycles and processes in our lives. Of special concern here is the process by which we weave or blend new experiences into existing mental and emotional patterns. This process weaves the past and future into a seemingly seamless whole.

That one extra moon between the beginning of January and the end of March and the two Supermoons will intensify this process noticeably.

On the upside, our personal attitudes will evolve much more quickly; we will change and adapt more rapidly, allowing faster progress in our lives and in the world around us.

On the downside, the acceleration and intensification of the integration process will cause conscious and unconscious mental processes to interfere with each other. Normally unconscious processes will intrude on conscious processes and vice versa.

As a result, we will be especially aware of our many conflicting attitudes, both old and new – of how changeable and arbitrary they can be. Our minds will generate multiple, conflicting responses to the same event, some old, some new; we will have to consciously choose which competing reaction we will express.

Or we can use this unusual window into the workings of our own mind to better understand ourselves and make needed changes. People are already experiencing this phenomenon.

As noted, the extra moon and the two Supermoons are not the only influence that will accelerate and deepen change. Other placements in February’s chart also speed up the evolution of our thoughts and attitudes adding to the mental overload.


If Not Us, then Who . . .

One structure in particular illuminates the meaning of February 2014. It is a deceptively humble triangle, highly energetic, very exact and powerfully placed.

Mars is at 25° Libra in the 3rd; the Moon is at 25° Sagittarius in the 1st, hear the ascendant; retrograde Mercury isexactlyconjunct (“combust”) the Sun at 25° Aquarius in the 3rd.

Generally speaking, this triangle concentrates force in the individual personality, in general, and the individual conscience in particular – the individual is considered as part of a community, throughout. The exactness of the triangle and its angular placement grants it an overriding influence, heightened intensity and generally high energy.

It points to a robust, spirited consensus for social justice emerging rapidly and forcefully at the grassroots level. In February, there is no comparable influence affecting government signs and houses. The initiative has shifted almost completely to the grassroots – to the 99%.

This triangle will change government because it will change the attitudes of the people governed. Just how peaceful or violent this change is will depend heavily on the health of of the relationship between the government and those governed.

A Closer Look at the Triangle

A stellium surrounds each of the bodies forming the triangle, coloring the influence of each of these planets.


  • The stellium that includes Mars, at the uppermost point in the triangle includes:
  • Mars and Vesta closely conjunct in Libra in the 11th, the natural house of Aquarius. Vesta, representing passionate dedication, conjoins Mars, representing the aggressive pursuit of a goal. Libra in the house of Aquarius speaks eloquently of social justice.
  • Ceres and the North Node are precisely conjunct in Scorpio, also in the 11th. Ceres governs nurturance issues, broadly defined. The North Node reliably indicates “the right thing to do.”
  • The precise conjunction of Ceres and the North Node equates being moral with the nurturance of everyone: being moral equals nurturing others. This, again, is in the natural house of Aquarius, the sign of universal brotherhood and sisterhood.
  • Saturn is in Scorpio in the 12th, close to the 12th house cusp. Saturn represents rectitude and authority. The 12th house, the natural house of Pisces and Neptune, represents spirituality, religious creeds, metaphysical truths and idealism. Scorpio represents shared resources and responsibilities.

As a whole, then, the stellium produces a surge of idealism reinforced by moral and spiritual feelings, all expressing as a desire to nurture, assist and share more equitably with others.

The precise conjunction of Ceres and the North Node equates being moral with the nurturance of everyone: being moral equals nurturing others. This, again, is in the natural house of Aquarius, the sign of universal brotherhood and sisterhood.


  • The stellium surrounding the Moon in the 1st house, in Sagittarius, at the apex of the triangle, includes:
  • Pholus, Ixion and the Ascendant closely conjunct in Sagittarius in the 1st.Ixion represents the criminal abuse of power. Pholus represents cronyism. With Ixion, a wholly unsavory character, Pholus suggests cronyism and corruption entrenched in high places.
  • The Moon in Sagittarius is exactly conjunct Quaoar, which is conjunct Pholus, Ixion and the Ascendant in the 1s, all in Sagittarius.The Moon represents public awareness or mass consciousness. It is conjunct Quaoar, which represents creative chaos and the dissolution of existing patterns. This conjunction says that public opinion will turn fluid, shifting rapidly, radically and irreversibly.
  • The Point of Substance is in Capricorn in the 1st.The Point of Substance represents moral vulnerability and feelings of guilt. Placed here, it suggests that we will feel morally responsible for the wrongs we see surround us.
  • Venus and Pluto are loosely conjoined in Capricorn.Venus and Pluto conjunct point to a thorough realignment of loyalties. All alliances suddenly become fluid and changeable.

This powerfully placed stellium points to a transformation in public consciousness. People begin to note the prevalence of corruption in public life and the extent to which their own inaction makes it responsible. Old, well-established patterns simply break down; new precedents will be set, establishing new patterns.

This powerfully placed stellium points to a transformation in public consciousness. People begin to note the prevalence of corruption in public life and the extent to which their own inaction makes it responsible. Old, well-established patterns simply break down; precedents are set, establishing new patterns. Conscience is roused.

Here, again, the scandal burgeoning around the governor’s office in New Jersey is a good example. This alleged abuse of power (Ixion) would once have been considered business as usual. Increasingly, the alleged abuses are being looked at as the gross, crass abuses of power that they might prove to be. The public conscience is roused and action will be taken.

Increasingly, the scandal in New Jersey seems like a harbinger of things to come.


  • The stellium surrounding the exact Sun/Mercury retrograde conjunction in the 3rd house includes:
  • Retrograde Mercury exactly conjunct, or “combust,” the Sun in Aquarius in the 3rd. Retrograde Mercury combust the Sun brings intense focus on our own behavior. People examine their conscience, search their souls and generally take stock of their lives and the direction it is headed. They sense the time is right and conditions are favorable for personal reform.
  • Both retrograde Mercury and the Sun conjoin Nessus. Nessus governs our moral independence, our ability to resist social pressure. It turns guilt incurred by succumbing to social pressure into physical symptoms. It serves as an additional impetus for reform.
  • Neptune conjoins Chiron in Pisces. Chiron and Neptune combine to heal wounds, grievances and conflicts that block our access to and impede the flow of higher spiritual influences. They help us break boundaries, transcend old limitations and create space in our lives for exploration and growth.
  • The stellium bridges the Aquarius/Pisces cusp. Aquarius adds a reforming impulse to our intensifying spiritual aspirations. Pisces adds a spiritual dimension to our reforming impulse.
  • All bodies in this stellium are in the 3rd house of community relationships. This influence works on a community-wide level.

This stellium is about communal uplift rooted in personal reform.

Faster and Faster Forward

Taken as a whole, this triangle marks a powerfully transformative moment. It puts our ideas and attitudes, indeed, our very personalities, in flux and moves us in a decidedly Aquarian direction.

This triangle, like this overall chart, leads us beyond political and economic reform to soul searching and thoughts about how we can better align ourselves and members of our community and ultimately our nation with the expectations of our higher selves.

Those clinging to the past, or trying to hold the rest of us prisoners in the past, have a reckoning in store.