Tuesday 30 April 2019

Extended interview with Stephen Cohen

The Real News interviews Prof. Stephen Cohen

Part one

Part two

Part three

Part four

How Macron manages to insult everyone

The person our PM Adern chooses to hobnob with over “hate speech”and “managing the internet” is the one guy who has his police shoot the eyes out of his citizens every Saturday


Vineyard of the Saker,
29 April, 2019

The Height of Hubris or what? Macron call for peace on the streets while selling arms to the Saudi`s who use them on their Yemeni friends! Macron shows his true colors!

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog
Even though the Yellow Vest anti-government movement is historic in scope, duration and intensity, and even though Muslims compose 5-10% of France’s population, there has been almost zero media coverage of the interplay between these two forces.
Check Google in French or English and you truly find almost nothing. I have been waiting and waiting to do a story on this angle for Iran’s PressTV – I am their Paris correspondent – but there is simply no “news peg” from which we can start any report.
The reasons for this silence are due to a four key reasons but, mostly, it’s because the plight of Muslims and Yellow Vests are so obviously similar: just as French media ignores the Muslim community to promote violent misrepresentations instead, so they ignore the true substance of the Yellow Vests in favor of tabloid coverage.
For years I have talked with Nagib Azergui, who is the founder of the Democratic Union of French Muslims (English-language website here). This party is the most realistic political hope for France’s Muslims, and they seem certain to win seats in next month’s EU elections. They are not Islamists nor pushers of divisive identity politics – they are completely concerned with improving the lives of all French people. Secondarily, they have taken on a tough job – decontaminating Muslims in domestic French politics.
Azergui and I discussed why there is no media coverage of the Muslim Yellow Vests, and the level of support for the Yellow Vests in the French Muslim community.
French Muslims are indeed joining the Yellow Vests
I have covered the Yellow Vest demonstrations for months and I can assure you: there are plenty of Muslim Yellow Vests.
So why is there an impression that Muslims are not part of the movement? About the only thing we ever hear on the subject is: What a pity more Muslims didn’t show up.
“We heard the same complaints for the ‘Je Suis Charlie’ march for Charlie Hebdo,” said Azergui, referring to the attack on the satirical paper’s headquarters in 2015. “I was at the march with my children, and I saw many Muslims there.”
Azergui hits the nail on the head as to why Muslim Yellow Vests are hiding in plain sight from French media, which is hardly known for positive portrayals of Islam or Muslims.
“I think such statements reveal the subconscious image these commentators have of French Muslims – they expect us to show up wearing burkas, beards, African clothing, chanting slogans in Arabic and carrying signs in Arabic. But these types of Muslims are simply not representative of the average Muslim in France.”
So the first reason behind this false idea that there are no Muslim Yellow Vests is that many commentators are looking for caricatures – not French Muslims.
Muslims in France look very much like regular French people because they are regular French people.
A Black or Arab Yellow Vester does not stick out, mainly because all Yellow Vests look the same – they are wearing shiny Yellow Vests!
Let’s not forget that Muslims are a minority – there is about the same percentage of Muslims as there are people with red hair in often-Celtic France. Frankly, I have seen a million Yellow Vest faces and I can’t recall a single redhead – should I ask, “Why aren’t Celtic French supporting the Yellow Vests?” Of course, redheads are surely present… and often with plenty of Celtic-pride paraphernalia.
So the only way Muslims could get attention at Yellow Vest demonstrations is by being “excessively Muslim”… but such a thing is rather absurd, will not happen, and would certainly be dangerous – Muslim-pride paraphernalia would only attract negative attention, and Muslims already get enough of that.
Zero doubt among Muslims: when the truncheons fly, Muslims will get hit first
And the truncheons do fly every Saturday.
French police simply love to abuse Muslims: an estimated 70% of their prisoners are from Muslim backgrounds. French police simply love to abuse Yellow Vests. Police violence is guaranteed at which ever city is the week’s “focus”.
So the sight of a Muslim Yellow Vester makes many cops salivate. It also makes judges salivate at sentencing time.
Muslims would be the first victims of police brutality,” confirmed Azergui. “They are always the sacrificial lambs in France, so why would it be any different at the Yellow Vest protests?
On April 20th the police abuse was constant in Paris. Medics were working overtime as people were dropping like flies, but I only saw one unconscious person carried out on a stretcher – he was Black and thus quite possibly a Muslim, of course.
This guarantee of a double helping of both police brutality and judicial impunity is the second reason, but likely the most important reason, why Muslims might not be so eye-catching at Yellow Vest demonstrations.
This violence adds to the media silence – talking about Muslims and Yellow Vests would have to break the taboo against honest discussion of the institutionalised state violence towards the Muslim community.
Sad but true: one of the “great” things about the Yellow Vests is that it’s not only Muslims who are being brutalised anymore.
“France is starting to wake up to reality,” said Azergui. “When 4,000 Muslim families had their homes raided without a warrant during the State of Emergency, France didn’t care about police violence. There are so many images and videos which show how French cops abuse old people, women and innocent people – this is something Muslims live with daily. How could Muslims not have solidarity with such a movement?
Azergui’s thoughts reminded me of the case of Ali Ziri, a 69-year old Algerian native who was infamously beaten to death by French cops in 2009. Police violence is a real taboo in France, and by taking so many beatings the Yellow Vests are helping out their Muslim brothers and sisters.
Yellow Vests haven’t done enough to reach out to Muslims
The Yellow Vests are absolutely not an Islamophobic movement because none of their demands are steeped in religion or ethnicity. Their demands are economic, political and social – this is a class-based struggle.
The idea that because the Yellow Vests are a rural-based movement that they must be latently Islamophobic is absolutely false – in the 21st century there are at least a few Muslims in seemingly every tiny French village. Such accusations only reveals prejudice against rural people, and certainly in France and the West it is very au courant for urbanites to look down on small-town people as a “basket of deplorables”.
The Yellow Vests only trust other Yellow Vests – the only color they see is Yellow. As a worker for Iranian government media I am routinely persona non grata at many fake-leftist demonstrations, and even truly leftist ones, due to Iranophobia and Islamophobia. The only demonstrations I am welcomed at in France are for pro-Palestinians… and now the Yellow Vests, too. So I have no doubt – Muslims are welcome at Yellow Vest gatherings.
However, Yellow Vests have made some mistakes, and also failed to take some proper measures. At the very start of the movement Yellow Vests infamously turned in asylum-seekers to authorities, give the initial impression that extreme-right contaminated the Yellow Vests.
“The Yellow Vests are not a structured movement, but they have not done a good job repudiating some Islamophobic acts and disassociating themselves from Islamophobia completely. They just said, ‘Well, there are always some imbeciles in every crowd.’ That has left some lingering suspicions in the Muslim community.”
If the Yellow Vests would only organize a march dedicated to Muslim outreach I can promise – you will get at least one reporter there to help permanently dismiss this false accusation of Islamophobia. The rest of the French media… they might not be so interested in reporting it accurately.
Yellow Vests certainly do plenty of other demonstrations dedicated to certain themes and issues. It was absolutely necessary for the Yellow Vests to march in February against the absolutely false accusation that they were anti-Semitic. That was all a ruse to pave the way for Macron’s announcement that he would criminalise anti-Zionism – but we can understand why Muslims said to each other, “And where’s the march for us?”
Indeed, where? Why not?
The third reason for the lack of publicised interchange between the Yellow Vests and Muslims is that many Muslims may have been put off by the false propaganda campaigns of the Mainstream Media, and because we have yet to see a real Muslim outreach from the Yellow Vests.
Massive support for Yellow Vests from Muslims, even if sometimes from afar
When I asked Azergui if Muslims support the Yellow Vests he answered, “Yes,” before I had even finished the question.
In an unfortunate but perhaps real sense, many Muslims feel that they are best helping the Yellow Vests by staying out of it.
“If Muslims showed up and there were fights and destruction of property, we know the media would say these are ‘violent Islamists’, and this would only hurt the image of the Yellow Vests. We have already even heard this type of discourse.”
Azergui is right – last year there were absurd conspiracy theories that the Muslim Brotherhood was orchestrating the Yellow Vests – but Muslims simply must participate anyway.
That brings us to our fourth reason why Muslims haven’t attended Yellow Vest demonstrations in huge numbers – Muslims have never been allowed, encouraged or motivated to participate in French politics, so why would this time be any different?
Muslims were hidden underground in France for decades, after all. Their coming out party wasn’t until 1985 with the Touche pas mon pote (Don’t touch my buddy) campaign. The arrival of Nicolas Sarkozy as Interior Minister, then the mainstreaming of Islamophobia under Francois Hollande, then Macron’s normalisation of the Muslim-targeting State of Emergency – all this has reinforced to Muslims that their participation in French politics is neither useful nor desired.
So, of course the French media doesn’t want to talk about the Muslims and the Yellow Vests, because it only reminds France of their total failure to include the Muslim community in politics. And they like dominating, controlling and suppressing Muslims – let’s not act as if neo-imperialism is not alive and well in France.
So let’s not pretend that Mainstream Media really cares about Muslims and democracy, nor mainstream politicians: Despite all the Muslims in France, Macron no longer has a single Muslim minister in his cabinet. If Marine Le Pen had won the election she’d surely at least have a token Muslim minister….
Yellow Vests and Muslims are the two largest groups in France which suffer from socioeconomic marginalization – there is no doubt that they will be open political allies, eventually. We have 5 months of proof – the far-right contamination of the Yellow Vests was drastically overstated; by reaching out to Muslims immediately, the movement can even further display their leftist, progressive, class basis.
But there are obviously a raft of obstacles keeping Muslims from openly joining the Yellow Vest movement, mainly: mainstream media, mainstream politicians, and backwards policing and judicial methods. But not individual (nor collective) Yellow Vests.
The reality is that if the Yellow Vest movement does not adopt an open policy of anti-Islamophobia it will never succeed – how can it succeed when such a huge part of the company is not fully involved? Nor can it be considered a truly leftist movement – how can it be if race, religion or ethnic culture is prioritised over class?
However, it is truly leftist and it will succeed, I feel.
It is not a question of “who has to make the first step”, because Muslims are already involved with the Yellow Vests. However, both sides need to increase their cooperation and outreach for the good of France, the Eurozone, the European Union and the entire world.

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of Ill Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television. He can be reached on Facebook.

US threstens UK over Huawei

Huawei: US may withhold intelligence from UK if it lets Chinese firm build 5G network, official says

We will have to reassess the ability for us to share information’
Image result for Huawei: US may withhold intelligence from UK if it lets Chinese firm build 5G network, official says
29 April, 2019

The US may withhold intelligence from the UK if Theresa May’s government uses Chinese firm Huawei to build its next-generation mobile internet infrastructure, an American official has suggested.
“It is the United States’ position that putting Huawei or any other untrustworthy vendor in any part of the 5G telecommunications network is a risk,” said Robert Strayer, the deputy assistant secretary for cyber, international communications and information policy at the US state department.
“If other countries insert and allow untrusted vendors to build out and become the vendors for their 5G networks we will have to reassess the ability for us to share information and be connected with them in the ways that we are today.
“Exactly how that will be done will depend on the risk of the equipment that is put into the networks.”
Mr Strayer was speaking during an online press briefing on Monday.
His remarks come in the wake of Theresa May reportedly approving plans to have the Chinese company build non-core parts of the UK’s 5G communications network.
The official said that the US did not distinguish between core and non-core elements and instead believed that there was no safe level of involvement for Huawei.
“Having potentially compromised equipment and software provided by vendors in any part of that network is an unacceptable risk,” he said.
“It is our position in the United States that there is no way that we can effectively mitigate the risk of having an untrustworthy vendor in the edge of the network.”
Huawei’s role in building the UK’s 5G network has divided Westminster in recent weeks.

There are concerns about whether the technology giant poses a threat to national security.
US intelligence has suggested that Huawei is directly funded by the Chinese security services, according to The Times.
In Whitehall an inquiry is under way after details emerged of a highly secretive National Security Councilmeeting at which Ms May reportedly gave the green light for the Chinese company’s involvement.
Multiple cabinet ministers were reported to have objected to the Huawei decision, including Jeremy HuntSajid JavidGavin WilliamsonLiam Fox and Penny Mordaunt.
They have all denied providing the details of the meeting. Cabinet ministers have been warned of the possibility of a criminal investigation into the leak.
On Monday, Jacob Rees-Mogg said the matter of the leak was trivial when compared to the issue of the Chinese company’s involvement in the 5G network.
“The whole story here is not about a leak, it’s about whether or not we’re getting into bed with the Chinese company Huawei against the advice of the US and Australians who have decided not to,” he told LBC.
“This is a fundamental issue of national security, whether somebody mentioned it in passing and leaked it is trivial in comparison.”
The US has banned Huawei from its government networks and Australia and New Zealand have also placed restrictions on the company.

"The dog ate my breakfast": the police's new version of events

Police didn't see shootings suspect leave Christchurch mosque because bus blocked view

Police at the scene of the Al Noor mosque on Deans Ave in Christchurch on March 15.
17 April, 2019

The first armed police to arrive near Christchurch's Al Noor mosque after a gunman's massacre did not see the suspect drive away because a bus blocked their view. 
By the time first responders got to the Deans Ave mosque, where 43 people were fatally shot on March 15, the suspect was already a minute away from his second alleged target, the Linwood mosque. 
In the minutes after the terror attack began at 1.40pm, police also believed they had three shooting scenes on their hands. There were reports that shots were fired at Christchurch Hospital's emergency department, but it later transpired that did not happen. 15.
Police learned about the Linwood attack at 1.56pm, when a member of the public flagged down a police car and told them shots had been fired in Linwood.

It took police 10 minutes from the start of the shooting at Deans Ave to get a description of the vehicle the alleged shooter was driving.
shooting timeline map
The new details are contained in a just-released timeline of the police response to the Christchurch terror attacks. 
On Wednesday, Commissioner Mike Bush said the public should have as much information about the response as possible.

Armed police on Linwood Ave on March 15, after the Linwood Mosque came under attack.
Armed police on Linwood Ave on March 15, after the Linwood Mosque came under attack.

The response began at 1.40pm on March 15. It took six minutes after the first 111 call for the Armed Offenders Squad (AOS) to arrive near the scene, on the corner of Riccarton Rd and Deans Ave.
An email with the alleged shooter's manifesto was received by several people, including Parliamentary Services. Forty-four seconds after 1.40pm, Parliamentary Services called the police southern communications centre. That call lasted 12 minutes.
"We now know that while police was talking to Parliamentary Services the attack at Al Noor Mosque was already under way, having begun 44 seconds prior to Parliamentary Services calling," Bush said.

Armed police continue to guard the Al Noor Mosque on Deans Ave weeks after the shootings.
Armed police continue to guard the Al Noor Mosque on Deans Ave weeks after the shootings.

At 1.41pm, police received the first 111 call. By 1.43pm, all available police units were en route to the Al Noor Mosque.
At 1.46pm, AOS members arrived near the scene. They left their vehicle, started approaching the mosque and a member stopped to help a critically injured victim.
"At this point the alleged offender is leaving the area, and his vehicle is obscured from the view of these AOS members by a bus," Bush said. 
Bush said at this time there was no vehicle description, no information an offender had left the mosque, or how many shooters there were.
Police and AOS and frontline staff arrived at the Al Noor mosque at 1.51pm.
It took the alleged offender six minutes to get to the Linwood mosque. He was there for three minutes, before leaving at 1.55pm.
Police did not have a description of the offender's vehicle until 1.53pm, just after it was sighted on Bealey Ave heading towards Fitzgerald Ave. 
At 1.56pm, police were told shots were fired at the Christchurch emergency department.
Sixteen seconds later, a member of the public flagged down a police car and said shots had been fired in Linwood.
At 1.57pm, the vehicle was seen by a police car on Brougham St and a pursuit began. The vehicle was stopped at 1.59pm and the offender was apprehended, Bush said. 
In the same minute, police arrived at the Linwood mosque.
There were 18 minutes from the time of the first 111 call to the arrest of the offender.
At 2.06pm, it was confirmed no shots had been fired at the hospital. 
"I reaffirm my previous comments that police staff acted as quickly as humanly possible given the rapidly unfolding nature of the event, and the information available to us in that very brief period of time," Bush said.
The investigation team was still focussed on confirming certain details, particularly timings from a number of electronic systems and devices with different internal clocks, Bush said.
The information released on Wednesday was the best information he had to date, and what police could release without compromising the criminal investigation or trial, he said. 
"I want to emphasise we are still in an investigation phase and now a prosecutorial stage."
To provide "absolute transparency", an independent team, including a Queen's counsel, would debrief on the police response. 
"The debrief is an important process to ensure any lessons are learnt, and used to inform future operational responses," Bush said. 
The attacks prompted New Zealand's terror threat level to be lifted to "high" for the first time in the country's history. On Wednesday, this was downgraded to medium, meaning police will no longer routinely carry firearms. 
International police were in Christchurch for a specialist training course on March 15. Officers from Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and Hong Kong, as well as New Zealand Defence Force personnel, responded alongside New Zealand police and gave first aid at the Linwood mosque.

Bush thanked them on Wednesday, saying "their specialist skills have been credited with saving lives and we were fortunate to have them on the ground with us".

Putin: “We Are Considering Expedited Procedure For Granting Citizenship to ALL Willing Ukrainians!”

Putin Ecstatic About Zelensky’s Idea to Offer Ukrainian Citizenship to Russians

What a great way of bringing the two closely-related peoples together

Zelensky really set himself up here, but let it not be said Putin is a hypocrite. He is in favor of Ukrainian-Russian unity whether it is under Kiev’s leadership or Moscow’s
29 April, 2019

President Vladimir Putin said the suggestion by Ukraine’s president-elect to give Ukrainian citizenship to Russians “suffering from an authoritarian regime” is “a good thing,” which would only bring the kindred nations closer.
The Russian president and his soon-to-be Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky have been engaged in a sort of media duel after Russia last week offered a fast track to Russian citizenship to Ukrainians living in self-proclaimed republics in eastern Ukraine. Moscow said the move was a humanitarian one and necessitated by Kiev’s failure to reconcile with its own citizens living in the east. But officials in Ukraine, including the president-elect, called it an act of aggression.
Amid the uproar from Kiev, Putin last Saturday suggested that the same simplified procedure may be extended to all Ukrainian citizens. Zelensky responded with a scolding Facebook post, in which he mocked the idea that a holder of a Ukrainian passport might be tempted with the Russian one.
“We know what a Russian passport actually gives. A right to be arrested for a peaceful protest. A right not to have free and competitive elections. A right to know nothing about existence of natural human rights,” the emotional post said.
He added that Ukraine will “offer Ukrainian citizenship to members of all peoples suffering from authoritarian and corrupt regimes. First of all to Russians, who are suffering pretty much more than anyone else.”
Putin trolls Zelensky: "If they start granting citizenship to Russians, while we in Russia start granting citizenship to Ukrainians, we will gradually achieve the desirable outcome. Meaning we'll have common citizenship".

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When asked about the post Monday, Putin responded with a tongue-in-cheek approval.
“Did he say that? It sounds good,” Putin said. “It means we will probably come to an agreement because we [Russians and Ukrainians] have so much in common.”
He went further than that, saying he believed Ukrainians and Russians are one and the same people. “If we have a common citizenship, both the Ukrainians and the Russians will benefit from it. We will be stronger and more successful.”
He added that if Zelensky was so proud of the freedoms in his country and the benefits of Ukrainian citizenship, he should reinstate the citizenship of Mikhail Saakashvili. The former Georgian president traded the passport of his home country to that of Ukraine in 2014 – only to be later stripped of it by Zelensky’s predecessor, Petro Poroshenko. Saakashvili’s deportation came after he became a fierce critic of Poroshenko’s policies, which gave the development a distinct tinge of political persecution.

Source: RT