Category Archives: Cold War

November 22, 1963: The Day the Music Died

A very nice comment from one of my commenters.

A friend of mine had lunch with a former attorney for LBJ who had worked in the LBJ Administration. He later got wrapped up in Watergate somehow, I believe as part of the prosecution. Keep in mind that LBJ’s own personal attorney says that LBJ was part of the plot to kill Kennedy. .Some of the gunmen were part of LBJ’s own “hit squad.”

Believe it or not, a lot of big US politicians have their own “hit squad goons.” I believe that George Bush did and I believe the Dick Cheney did too.

In fact, I think that Cheney’s goons killed Paul Wellstone by sabotaging his plane. Barbara Boxer herself has hinted the Cheney killed Wellstone, but she also hinted that everyone who knows is too afraid to speak on the record about it.

Bush’s goons will do things like break into your home, poison your dog, etc. His goons poisoned three dogs belonging to one whistleblower, killing all of them. Some of Bush’s enemies have ended up dead “drown in bathtubs” and by mysterious “heart attacks” in cheap hotel rooms.

Drowning you in your bathtub is a favorite CIA/Mossad/KGB intelligence agency way to kill people. I believe that all three of these agencies are capable of injecting you with a drug that will give you a heart attack and leave no trace.

This man, a high ranking member of the LBJ Administration, told my friend that JFK was killed by “the foreign policy establishment of the United States.” That’s a long way of saying Deep State.

Ever since then, I think every President knows that the punishment for going against the Deep State is “the Kennedy treatment.”

As much as I despise Trump, I realize that the Deep State has it in for him mostly for kissing up to Russia, telling NATO justifiably to go to Hell, and making pretenses at a less imperial foreign policy with fewer wars and armed conflicts.

There was an internal coup in the White House and Steve Bannon etc were sidelined in by a crowd around (((Jared Kushner))). (((Kushner)))’s group were the Deep State neocons. Soon after the coup, Trump attacked Syria as if he were ordered to by his new masters. Trump is now just another neocon in addition to being by far the most Jewish, or really Jewy, President in history.

These Alt Right antisemites need to think this over. Trump is New York, in flesh and bones. Forget Israel. New York is the Jewish state. These idiot Nazis are supporting a fanatical Zionist who is frankly the most Jewish President we have ever had. He’s a Judaized Gentile, but still, if you see Jewishness as a spiritual feature as opposed to an ethnic or religious one, Trump is surely more Jewish in spirit than any President we have ever had. Why these Nazis are falling all over themselves from President Donald SuperJew is beyond me. I think these guys didn’t get the memo.

RL: Everybody who was alive back then knows exactly what they were doing when they shot the President.

When democracy died. When the dream of America died with the Deep State coup. When the joke of American democracy was shown as the pathetic sham it’s always been, a think veneer for Deep State and oligarchic rule, the very story of America itself.”

CB: The day the music died.

Eisenhower warned in his farewell address of a dangerous military-industrial-scientific elite; he’d separately spoken of the CIA’s “legacy of ashes.”

Over the following three years, Kennedy, a womanizer and drug user who very likely owed his victory to vote fraud in Chicago,

  1. Engaged in back channel contacts with Khrushchev and Castro (the public didn’t know of course, but doesn’t the charge sound familiar?).
  2. Turned down the Joint Chiefs’ Operation Northwoods Plan to use false flag attacks (a precursor to 9/11) to justify an invasion of Cuba.
  3. Refused airstrikes in support of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion.
  4. Fired CIA director Allen Dulles and his top deputy.
  5. Refused a first-strike nuclear attack during the Cuban missile crisis.
  6. Secretly agreed to remove U.S. missiles from Turkey in exchange for the Soviets pulling their missiles from Cuba.
  7. Told associates he would splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter them to the wind, etc.

The Deep State was mightily pissed with Kennedy, and Kennedy knew he was in danger.

The same Deep State still runs things of course, and they are much more open in their hatred for Trump than they were with Kennedy (Hillary was the Deep State/Establishment choice, beloved by the intelligence agencies (at least the people at the top), Goldman Sachs and the other big banks, the EU, the Bilderbergers, the CFR, the Chinese, Rupert Murdoch and most other billionaires, the Bushes, etc. etc. The same media types that covered up for the real assassins of the Kennedys and MLK (and continue to cover up subsequent Deep State crimes) are even more rigidly controlled now than during the days of Operation Mockingbird, open in their allegiance to their Deep State masters.

You don’t have to like Trump to consider that he, like Kennedy, has made some excellent enemies.

Peter, Paul, and Mary were good, and I even saw them in concert once, as well as at Newport. But the song that gave me chills in 1963, and still today, was Dylan’s Masters of War.

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Something Wrong with America? or Why Is America Hated? By A. J. Harvey-Hall

An interesting piece from a reader and financial supporter (thank you!) of this website. Hope you enjoy it.

Something Wrong With America? or Why is America hated?

By A. J. Harvey-Hall, Australia

Where do I start?

I originally wrote this in 2013 when I was mad as hell, and here we are in 2015, and I am still mad as hell at you guys. Most of what I have written has come true.

Don’t believe me – ask your Remote Viewing (Project Stargate) people to drop in and check me out. It works both ways in case you are unaware.

Coming from Australia I can tell you a hell of a lot of where America “went wrong”. I am not saying Australia is/was perfect – it’s just a fact we were the last large island/continent settled by the so-called enlightened Westerners – due to distance we saw where everyone else stuffed up and decided as a whole not to do that (Commonwealth knowledge?).

Canada is very similar to Australia, so look to them as well. One thing’s for certain – everyone gets a fair go in this country. We are multicultural and tolerant. Early Western settlers did not treat the Aboriginals appropriately, but in summary, it was probably no different to any superior culture that overtook another at some time in history. It’s easy to look back and say what the Westerners did to Aboriginals was disgraceful.

I have a right to tell you how it is because Australia is the only country that has fought every war alongside America all through WW1 and WW2 and several “police” actions.

Let’s revisit some words spoken by one of your greatest presidents in the course of the America’s Cup back in 1962 when Australia was still a country of 10 million:

Quoting Kennedy –

Ambassador, Lady Beale, Ambassador and Mrs. Berckmeyer, Ambassador and Lady Ormsby Gore, the Ambassador from Portugal, our distinguished Ministers from Australia, Ladies and Gentlemen:

I know that all of us take the greatest pleasure in being here, first of all because whether we are Australian or American, we are all joined by a common interest, a common devotion and love for the sea.

And I am particularly glad to be here because this Cup is being challenged by our friends from Australia, this extraordinary group of men and women numbering some 10 million, who have demonstrated on many occasions, on many fields, in many countries, that they are the most extraordinarily athletic group in the world today, and that this extraordinary demonstration of physical vigor and skill has come not by the dictates of the state because the Australians are among the freest citizens in the world, but because of their choice…

Australia became committed to physical fitness, and it has been disastrous for the rest of us. We have the highest regard for Australia, Ambassador. As you said, we regard them as very satisfactory friends in peace and the best of friends in war. And I know there are a good many Americans of my generation who have the greatest possible reason to be grateful to the Australians who wrote a most distinguished record all the way from the desert of North Africa, and most particularly in the islands of the South Pacific, where their particular courage and gallantry I think met the strongest response in all of us in this country.

But I really don’t look to the past. I look to the present. The United States and Australia are most intimately bound together today, and I think that — and I speak as one who has had some experience in friendship and some experience in those who are not our friends — we value very much the fact that on the other side of the Pacific, the Australians inhabit a very key and crucial area and that the United States is most intimately associated with them. So beyond this race, beyond the result, rests this happy relationship between two great people.

– President John F. Kennedy, Newport, Rhode Island, September 14, 1962

Let’s go back to the (your) War of Independence:

The English were wrong in what they were doing – hence independence – not a problem. In gaining independence however you put in place the building blocks that as of today are not crumbling – they have already crumbled.

Every builder in the world knows that unless your foundations are spot on and repaired when cracks appear, a structure cannot live for hundreds of years. You must update and repair as you go to ensure the building is viable for hundreds of years ongoing – not just paper over it.

The building I am referring to is the “United States of America”. It has now crumbled as a result of a demarcation dispute between your two political parties that act worse than our Australian Parliament. Each party is only out to make a name for itself and has lost the understanding of “serving the people”.

Let’s talk about your constitution – ohhh – am I upsetting you already? Remember I am an outsider who is looking in giving you an unbiased opinion.

When your Constitution was framed it was OK, for the day!

It is now the oldest ‘out of date’ Constitution in the world. Don’t stand behind your outdated constitution. Start again. Be bold.

Yes – you have made amendments, but those amendments are just papering over extensions – you need to go back and look at the foundations and do the work there.

Take one example – a right to bear arms.

It was OK 200 years ago when things were a bit rough – it is not acceptable in the 20th or 21st Centuries, but you will not remove that right. How many people have died in your country as a result of that one so called right?

Your gun culture is one of the bases (not basis) that has crumbled. This is ultimately why you have numerous police forces that are happy to shoot first and ask questions later.

Your children and work colleagues will continue to die in massacres as a result of this “right“. They will continue to die in soft target areas such as schools, mass transport, malls, parades (early days – wait for it).

Hang on – maybe the British, Russians or Communists are still coming to invade. Pity you don’t update your Constitution the same way you enforce updates to laws you force upon people who want to trade with you.

You allow gun lobbyists to “set the course” with government officials, senators and the public.

Since when did lobbyists of any ilk run the government? Since when did they represent “the people”?

You continue to think of arms as a gun – they are no longer guns – instead are bombs, viruses or maybe even the Internet itself. But it’s OK because you have a right” to bear arms.

Let’s talk about your medical care.

Actually let’s save time and refer to Michael Moore. He is spot on. How can you allow your own citizens suffer and even die on the streets because they don’t have medical insurance? And some of your citizens applaud this stance.

How about your returned veterans – even wounded veterans have to fight to get medical assistance upon return – why – because you outsourced the process and someone applied expiry dates that wounded veterans were not aware of. It then requires an act of Congress or a law to be passed to allowed them back into the system.

More veterans have committed suicide upon return that you lost in actual combat. That is an absolute disgrace.

Even that poor, small country across from Florida – Cuba – does it better than you. A pissant island makes you look like a disgrace. Ohhh that’s right…you won’t interact with them because they put one over you in the Cuban Missile crisis. Get over it – you eventually did with Vietnam. And that leads me to another chapter – Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia…or shouldn’t I mention all the “minor” illegal wars you waged?

You lost LOST the Vietnam War – admit it. You will also lose the Afghanistan and Iraqi Wars. The Middle Eastern wars are also bankrupting your country – why can’t day to day Americans see this? No one (starting with Alexander the Great) has ever conquered Afghanistan – get real or get out.

If you think those wars are over, and as G. W. Bush said, “Mission completed”…think again. You have effectively put people in charge who are far worse than the dictators that were already there in Egypt, Iraq, Tunisia, Afghanistan etc. and now you are trying to do the same in Crimea via the Ukraine. You are responsible for the extremists that are now running around the Middle East, and I don’t mean Al Qaeda. You are responsible for the creation of ISIS.

Let’s look at all those African refugees (including Syrians, Lebanese etc.) who are risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean Sea to get to Europe. The USA is totally responsible for all these simply because of WMD lies that resulted in the invasion of Iraq. All Middle East actions from thereon are his fault. He is a war criminal – oopps did I break one of your laws saying he is a war criminal in the land of the free and home of the brave? The land of free speech?

Fact – history is written by the victors.

The USA is trying to run the Middle East like a corporation – all the top executives from the G. W. Bush era on are criminals lining their own pockets.

Starting wars in the 21st century will no longer get a country out of a recession. It’s simply profit-making. Why don’t you take Saudi Arabia to task for 9/11? Ohhh that’s right, they control the oil flow. Don’t upset them – why don’t you find an alternative to Middle East oil?

Are you getting a message here?

The entire world dislikes and even hates you. You have acted the bully for many years after The Korean War, effectively destroying the good will you established in the early 20th century. You are hated across all lines – economic, religious, social, political and otherwise.

What is your obsession with Israel?

Fact – Israel was founded by Jewish terrorists. They set off bombs, killed people and destroyed property to achieve their aims. Because the world had ‘sympathy’ for Jews after WW2, it happened and a blind eye was turned. Today Middle America strongly believes in the Bible literally and as such wants to see Israel succeed in order the “Second Coming” results.

People – the Bible is a guide. It is not Gospel.

Why? In the early centuries, the Roman Catholic Church held conferences and decided which books, writings and teachings ended up in “The Bible”. God did not decide which early Christian books ended up in The Bible – so it is absolute rubbish for someone to state that the Bible guides what the United States should do. Too many real accounts of Jesus’ workings were excluded. The Roman Catholic Church is responsible for closing our eyes to the real Christ.

Hopefully Pope Francis can arrest this BS.

There are numerous United Nations resolutions that Israel has refused to comply with. By the way – are you (USA) financially paid up with the UN, or do you still refuse to pay in a timely manner in order to attempt to remind them that you rule over them?

How about the Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq that lead to invasion? Colin Powell held up a drawing and said – here is the proof. You never found proof and never admitted you were wrong. Yes – Saddam Hussein was a bastard but he had the warring clans under control. It was all ALL about oil and nothing else. When the mud got too deep, you changed tact and said it was all about democracy. How far is Greece from Iraq? – damn closer that the USA. If the Greeks could not influence them – you sure in Hell can’t.

You can resolve the Palestinian problem in a matter of weeks, but you won’t due to that “minority” in the Middle East. This bullshit has been going on for 60 years.

Everyone knows (sorry – obviously you don’t) – the longer a problem festers, the harder and more costly it is to resolve.

I worked in the finance industry for many years and can only say that the number of times “we” (non-Americans) had to change our processes and rules etc. because the USA had set ‘”new standards” makes me sick. The standards set were not improvements – they were changed to line your pockets.

Look at Sarbanes Oxley for example – the world spent hundreds of billions of $’s attempting to comply because the USA would not do business with another country unless they did so only to see the USA itself found it too costly to implement itself! What a joke!

We now have many European countries in dire straits as a direct result of the exporting of American ways.

You destroyed the financial industry with your Subprime rubbish.

What about changes to financial models and makes etc. of any product or service that demand that people buy the “updated” version to reline your pockets. This is simply to keep the money wheel turning. You are desperately trying to ensure it keeps turning long enough for your problems to be passed to some other country or the next generation.

Ever thought about how much you spend on items such as defense, spying, war, inventing, manufacturing and using machines of war? Just imagine if only half of that was diverted to your health programs, science or to the benefit of other countries less fortunate? What about converting the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines into an international force for peace and relief of local and international disasters?

How can you allow a company to have a patent on the human breast cancer gene? You have to be kidding the world – but then again that’s your Constitution at work. No one owns human genes!

What happened to the “United States” that I remember as a child? That far-off country whose technology was so far advanced we could never dream of equaling.

What happened to that country that every county – even Russia in the old days – feared  -a form of respect?

Oh – and how long before I get the FBI, CIA, and all your other bullshit muscle agencies to frame me for some rubbish and shut me down…

A parting true story:

In late 1978/early 1979 my family traveled to Washington state where my father was working on behalf of a company in Australia. Unfortunately, departing Auckland NZ they had an emergency which meant we had to go back, dumping fuel on the way. 24 hours later we took off again after repairs and finally landed in Honolulu. My mother was pretty savvy and said get to the front of the Customs line so we can get to the connecting flight to LA.

Well – I was at the front of the queue, 18 years old, looking at an overweight female Customs officer wearing a gun strutting back and forwards. Her welcoming words to the Australians and New Zealanders were, “If you step over that yellow line, I will shoot you!” What a fucking joke – in 1978! No wonder you have a gun problem.

Welcome to America!

Congratulations to the NRA who lobby the most congressman/women on both sides.

Fact – I was born in July 1960, and in November 1963 I still vividly recall my parents being very upset when they heard of the news of Kennedy’s death despite my being three years old. All the more remarkable is the fact that we lived in Papua New Guinea – a protectorate of Australia at the time – literally a colonial backwater. I was too young to understand but remembered the words Kennedy and death and vaguely remembered the Cuba Crisis. We cried in the backwaters of the Pacific!

I fully understand that the Kennedys had their dalliances. Small beer in the scheme of things.

He and his brother are the standard you must return to.

Did Kennedy not say “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country?”

And in closing, written on the base of the Statue of Liberty…

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Emma Lazurus

My country totally lacks world-shaking oratory ,but I think we more than make up with it in our actions.

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A Case Study of the Collapse of US Liberalism: (((Media Matters)))

Almost all US liberal (really liberal Democrat) outlets need those damned parentheses around them. They’re cucked to Hell and back. They are not insurgents as the horrific propagandistic mind control apparatus called the (((US media))). Instead they are utterly complicit in the propaganda war themselves. One would think that all (((liberal Democratic))) outlets are employed by the CIA. Every time they open up their mouths, it’s just the voice of the CIA.

Check out this piece

Report Traces How The “Alt-Right” Spread Pro-Assad Propaganda.

I guess when it comes to (((hating Bashar Assad))) and (((supporting his worst enemies))), (((Americans))) are all in the same boat from Right to Left, with only the Far Left (Leftists like Counterpunch and Global Research) and the Far Right (Alt Right, even including the American Conservative and Ron Unz site) seem to be able to see through the gaseous fog of zero-visibility fog to reveal how much we are being lied to.

A report by the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab found that a claim that recent airstrikes in Syria were a “false flag” operation — an operation that either didn’t really occur or that were conducted by a party other than the Syrian government — which went viral among the “alt-right” actually originated with a Syrian propaganda outlet that supports the current regime and spread to a series of pro-Kremlin conspiracy websites and fake news purveyors before being promoted by “alt-right” figures including Infowars’ Alex Jones and Mike Cernovich.

I will discuss the despicable, vile US imperialist neoconservative (((NATO))) terrorists at the disgusting (((Atlantic Council))) later

Wow I never thought I would see the day when the worst McCarthyites and Cold Warriors were (((liberal Democrats))). But that’s how it is now.

  • Russia ate my homework.
  • Russia killed my dog.
  • I can’t get laid because of Russia.
  • Russia gave me cancer.
  • Russia is transmitting laser messages to my brain.

(((Liberal Democrats))) have now gone full McCarthyite in the worst way. The new line of (((liberal Democrats))): If I don’t like you, you are a Russian spy. And especially:

If you tell the truth about any of the endless false flags, fakeries, nonexistent events and just general straight up seven course meals of fake news, you must be a Russian spy. Go against the Deep State, and you have to be a Russian spy. The latest (((liberal Democrat))) outrage is that there is no such thing as the US Deep State (probably because they are all part of it!), and that everyone who believes in this is a propagandist for a man named PutinAssad.

What is truly pitiful is that if you really want to find out the truth nowadays, the best place to turn is the Russian media. The Russian media does not exactly have a reputation of being extremely honest. But the (((US media))) and general (((Western media))) lies have descended into such a vicious black hole of an abyss that as of right now, Russian media is an order of magnitude more hones than the US media or Western media. Wow! That’s bad. We’re worse liars than some of the biggest liars of all. Pitiful! America really is swirling the bowl right now. I’m not sure if we’re the turd or the water or both, all I know is we are going down the drain.

So MediaMatters, the great (((liberal Democratic))) site to show the rightwing bias of the (((media))), is quite similar to the (((media))) it attacks so much. So let’s just call them (((MediaMatters))) from now on and get it over with for Chrissake.

So these two entities hate each other and one front of the war is a site called (((MediaMatters))). Here are the two deadly enemies:

  • (((Rightwing “establishment” media)))
  • (((Liberal Democratic “opposition” media)))

I don’t get it. Why do they hate each other? What’s the difference? Someone clue me.

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US Foreign Policy Agenda, 1900-Present: Destroy “the Threat of a Good Example”

People talk about the power of a good example a lot. Noam Chomsky says that anywhere on Earth that the US sees a good example, they try to snuff it out due tot what he calls “the threat of a good example.” This has been our policy in much of the world since WW2, given a fake veneer of moral authority at best and even realpolitik necessity at worst. Before the Cold War, this was our policy mostly only in Latin America.

Except now that the Cold War is over, we are still doing the exact same thing that we did in the Cold War. The Cold War was a fake war and the USSR was a fake enemy. The real enemy is progressive politics, real democracy and forms of socialist (democratic by nature) economics. A mask called “Cold War” was put on this agenda from 1946-1991, but after then, the policy stayed the same even though the Cold War mask came off.

We didn’t do all of those horrible things “because we had to due to the Cold War,” the typical lousy liberal excuse (a favorite of my liberal Democrat father). We did all those horrible things because that’s what we do.

Now we are continuing to do all of the same horrible things that we did in the Cold War, except there is no Cold War so we can’t use that as a fake excuse anymore. So why are we doing these things now? We are doing those horrible things now because that is what we do.

And if we did all of those terrible things due to the Cold War, why were we doing them in Latin America for 45 years before the Cold War even started? We did all those things in our backyard in the first half of that blighted century because that’s what we do.

The success of the American model exemplifies what I call “the power of a bad example.”

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Oil, Power and Money: ‘Assad Must Go’ That’s Been Washington’s ‘Regime Change’ Mantra from The Get-Go,” by Mike Whitney

Via Global Research.

The Syrian War is really all about a pipeline! While there are other things at stake here including checking Iran and disrupting the Shia Crescent of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Hezbollah for the Gulf states, Jordan, Turkey and especially Israel, that’s not why we started this war. The whole war is over a damned pipeline. Almost all wars are really about money at the end of the day. Briefly, Qatar wanted to put a pipeline through Jordan, the eastern part of Syria and Turkey to deliver Qatari gas to Europe. This pipeline would have also stopped another pipeline by the Gulf states’ deadly rival, Iran.

This pipeline would have shipped Iranian gas through Northern Iraq, Northeastern Syria and Turkey to Europe in order to ship Iranian gas to Europe. Whoever wins the pipeline sweepstakes gets a lot of money and also ups their influence in the deadly game of chess being played over there between the Gulf states and who they see as their worst enemy, Iran. The Iranian pipeline had to be stopped, and the Qatari pipeline had to be put in. As soon as Assad rejected the Qatari pipeline going across his land, the US, Qatar, UAE, and Saudi Arabia all met and decided to foment a rebellion to take down Assad. Sure there are other goals here, but the Number 1 goal is the pipeline. Everyone needs to keep that in mind. At the end of the day, it’s usually all about money? What’s all about money? Everything.

Oil, Power and Money: “Assad Must Go”

That’s Been Washington’s “Regime Change” Mantra from The Get-Go

us-syria flags

Secret cables and reports by the U.S., Saudi and Israeli intelligence agencies indicate that the moment Assad rejected the Qatari pipeline, military and intelligence planners quickly arrived at the consensus that fomenting a Sunni uprising in Syria to overthrow the uncooperative Bashar Assad was a feasible path to achieving the shared objective of completing the Qatar/Turkey gas link. In 2009, according to WikiLeaks, soon after Bashar Assad rejected the Qatar pipeline, the CIA began funding opposition groups in Syria. — Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Why the Arabs Don’t Want Us in Syria, Politico.

The conflict in Syria is not a war in the conventional sense of the word. It is a regime change operation, just like Libya and Iraq were regime change operations.

The main driver of the conflict is the country that’s toppled more than 50 sovereign governments since the end of World War 2  (see Bill Blum here.) We’re talking about the United States of course.

Washington is the hands-down regime change champion, no one else even comes close. That being the case, one might assume that the American people would notice the pattern of intervention, see through the propaganda and assign blame accordingly. But that never  seems to happen and it probably won’t happen here either. No matter how compelling the evidence may be, the brainwashed American people always believe their government is doing the right thing.

But the United States is not doing the right thing in Syria. Arming, training and funding Islamic extremists — that have killed half a million people, displaced 7 million more and turned the country into an uninhabitable wastelands –is not the right thing. It is the wrong thing, the immoral thing. And the US is involved in this conflict for all the wrong reasons, the foremost of which is gas. The US wants to install a puppet regime in Damascus so it can secure pipeline corridors in the East, oversee the transport of vital energy reserves from Qatar to the EU, and make sure that those reserves continue to be denominated in US Dollars that are recycled into US Treasuries and US financial assets. This is the basic recipe for maintaining US dominance in the Middle East and for extending America’s imperial grip on global power into the future.

The war in Syria did not begin when the government of Bashar al Assad cracked down on protesters in the spring of 2011. That version of events is obfuscating hogwash.  The war began in 2009, when Assad rejected a Qatari plan to transport gas from Qatar to the EU via Syria. As Robert F Kennedy Jr. explains in his excellent article “Syria: Another Pipeline War”:

The $10 billion, 1,500 km pipeline through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Turkey….would have linked Qatar directly to European energy markets via distribution terminals in Turkey… The Qatar/Turkey pipeline would have given the Sunni Kingdoms of the Persian Gulf decisive domination of world natural gas markets and strengthened Qatar, America’s closest ally in the Arab world. ….

In 2009, Assad announced that he would refuse to sign the agreement to allow the pipeline to run through Syria “to protect the interests of our Russian ally…”

Assad further enraged the Gulf’s Sunni monarchs by endorsing a Russian approved “Islamic pipeline” running from Iran’s side of the gas field through Syria and to the ports of Lebanon. The Islamic pipeline would make Shia Iran instead of Sunni Qatar the principal supplier to the European energy market and dramatically increase Tehran’s influence in the Mideast and the world…

Naturally, the Saudis, Qataris, Turks and Americans were furious at Assad, but what could they do? How could they prevent him from choosing his own business partners and using his own sovereign territory to transport gas to market?

What they could do is what any good Mafia Don would do; break a few legs and steal whatever he wanted. In this particular situation, Washington and its scheming allies decided to launch a clandestine proxy-war against Damascus, kill or depose Assad, and make damn sure the western oil giants nabbed the future pipeline contracts and controlled the flow of energy to Europe. That was the plan at least. Here’s more from Kennedy:

Secret cables and reports by the U.S., Saudi and Israeli intelligence agencies indicate that the moment Assad rejected the Qatari pipeline, military and intelligence planners quickly arrived at the consensus that fomenting a Sunni uprising in Syria to overthrow the uncooperative Bashar Assad was a feasible path to achieving the shared objective of completing the Qatar/Turkey gas link. In 2009, according to WikiLeaks, soon after Bashar Assad rejected the Qatar pipeline, the CIA began funding opposition groups in Syria.

Repeat: “the moment Assad rejected the Qatari pipeline”, he signed his own death warrant. That single act was the catalyst for the US aggression that transformed a bustling, five thousand-year old civilization into a desolate Falluja-like moonscape overflowing with homicidal fanatics that were recruited, groomed and deployed by the various allied intelligence agencies.

But what’s particularly interesting about this story is that the US attempted a nearly-identical plan 60 years earlier during the Eisenhower administration. Here’s another clip from the Kennedy piece:

During the 1950′s, President Eisenhower and the Dulles brothers … mounted a clandestine war against Arab Nationalism — which CIA Director Allan Dulles equated with communism — particularly when Arab self-rule threatened oil concessions. They pumped secret American military aid to tyrants in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon favoring puppets with conservative jihadist ideologies which they regarded as a reliable antidote to Soviet Marxism….

The CIA began its active meddling in Syria in 1949 — barely a year after the agency’s creation…Syria’s democratically elected president, Shukri-al-Kuwaiti, hesitated to approve the Trans Arabian Pipeline, an American project intended to connect the oil fields of Saudi Arabia to the ports of Lebanon via Syria. (so)… the CIA engineered a coup, replacing al-Kuwaiti with the CIA’s handpicked dictator, a convicted swindler named Husni al-Za’im. Al-Za’im barely had time to dissolve parliament and approve the American pipeline before his countrymen deposed him, 14 weeks into his regime…..

(CIA agent Rocky) Stone arrived in Damascus in April 1956 with $3 million in Syrian pounds to arm and incite Islamic militants and to bribe Syrian military officers and politicians to overthrow al-Kuwaiti’s democratically elected secularist regime….

But all that CIA money failed to corrupt the Syrian military officers. The soldiers reported the CIA’s bribery attempts to the Ba’athist regime. In response, the Syrian army invaded the American Embassy taking Stone prisoner. Following harsh interrogation, Stone made a televised confession to his roles in the Iranian coup and the CIA’s aborted attempt to overthrow Syria’s legitimate government…(Then) Syria purged all politicians sympathetic to the U.S. and executed them for treason.  (Politico)

See how history is repeating itself? It’s like the CIA was too lazy to even write a new script, they just dusted off the old one and hired new actors.

Fortunately, Assad –with the help of Iran, Hezbollah and the Russian Airforce– has fended off the effort to oust him and install a US stooge. This should not be taken as a ringing endorsement of Assad as a leader, but of the principal that global security depends on basic protections of national sovereignty, and that the cornerstone of international law has to be a rejection of unprovoked aggression whether the hostilities are executed by one’s own military or by armed proxies that are used to achieve the same strategic objectives while invoking  plausible deniability. The fact is, there is no difference between Bush’s invasion of Iraq and Obama’s invasion of Syria. The moral, ethical and legal issues are the same, the only difference is that Obama has been more successful in confusing the American people about what is really going on.

And what’s going on is regime change: “Assad must go”. That’s been the administration’s mantra from the get go. Obama and Co are trying to overthrow a democratically-elected secular regime that refuses to bow to Washington’s demands to provide access to pipeline corridors that will further strengthen US dominance in the region.  That’s what’s really going on behind the ISIS distraction and the “Assad is a brutal dictator” distraction and the “war-weary civilians in Aleppo” distraction. Washington doesn’t care about any of those things. What Washington cares about is oil, power and money. How can anyone be confused about that by now?  Kennedy summed it up like this:

We must recognize the Syrian conflict is a war over control of resources indistinguishable from the myriad clandestine and undeclared oil wars we have been fighting in the Mid-East for 65 years. And only when we see this conflict as a proxy war over a pipeline do events become comprehensible.

That says it all, don’t you think?

Mike Whitney, lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

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The Hell with the Pentagon

As the agency which enforces US foreign policy at gunpoint, the Pentagon has always blown.

First of all, there is no such thing as the Defense Department. When has the Pentagon ever defended the country? Pearl Harbor? They did a fine job there, huh?

Obviously the task of the Pentagon is not to defend the US mainland, which is all it ever ought to do anyway.

Its task is to running around the world starting wars and killing people in other countries. Leaving aside whether that is sometimes a good idea (and I think it is,) what’s so defensive about that?

The real name of the Pentagon is the War Department.That’s what it was always called until World War 2, which the War Department won. After that in a spate of Orwellian frenzy, we named an army of aggression an army of self-defense and comically renamed its branch the Defense Department.

It’s like calling cops peace officers. You see anything peaceful about what a cop does in a typical day? Neither do I?

There was a brief glimmer of hope there in WW2 when we finally starting killing fascists and rightwingers instead of sleeping with them, but the ink was barely dry on the agreements before we were setting up the Gladio fascists, overthrowing Greek elections and slaughtering Greek peasants like ants.

Meanwhile it was scarcely a year after 1945 when the US once again started a torrid love affair with fascism and rightwing dictators like we have always done. We were smooching it up right quick with Europe’s fascists, in this case the former Nazis of Germany (who became the West German elite), Greek killer colonels, Mussolini’s heirs, actual Nazis in Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, Jew-Nazis in Palestine, Franco (who we never stopped sleeping with anyway), Salazar, the malign Mr. Churchill, the true repulsive Dutch royalty and disgusting European colonists the world over, who we showered with guns and bombs to massacre the colonized.

In 1945, a war against fascism, reaction, Nazism and malign colonialism had ended, and for some reason America had fought against these things instead of supporting them as usual.

1946, and we were back in old style again, hiring Nazis by the busload for the CIA, overthrowing democratic governments and putting in genocidal dictatorships, becoming butt buddies with fascist swine everywhere.

So you see we have always pretty much sucked. World War 1 was fought amidst one of the most dishonest propaganda campaigns the world had ever seen, the Korean War was a Godawful mess where we turned North Korea to flaming rubble with the population cowering in caves while slaughtering 3 million North Koreans.

The horrific catastrophe called the Indochinese Wars, such as the Vietnam War, the Secret War in Laos and the Cambodian Massacre, where we genocided 500,000 Cambodians with bombs, driving the whole place crazy and creating the Khmer Rogue.

Panama and Grenada were pitiful jokes, malign, raw, naked imperialism at its worst.

The Gulf War was a brief return to sanity but turkey shoots are sickening.

Of course that followed on with the most evil war in US history, the Nazi-like war on aggression called The War on the Iraqi People (usually called the Iraq War), the Afghan rabbit hole which started out sensibly enough but turned into another Vietnam style Great Big Mess.

I suppose it is ok that we are killing Al Qaeda guys and I give a shout out to our boys over there fighting ISIS or the Taliban and Al Qaeda in South-Central Asia, Somalia and Yemen. Some people need killing.

But I sure don’t feel that way about their superiors, the US officers who fund and direct ISIS, Al Qaeda, etc. out of an Operations Center in Jordan with Jordanian, Israeli (!), Saudi, UAE, and Qatari officers.

And it was very thoughtful of the Pentagon to cover up the Ukrainian Air Force shootdown of the jetliner which we saw on the radar of our ships in Black Sea.

And it was nice of the US to relay the flight path of the Russian jet to the Turks 24 hours in advance so they could shoot down that Russian jet and kill that pilot.

One hand giveth and the other taketh away. For every good thing we do in Syria and Iraq, we do 10 or 20 bad things. Pretty much the story of the Pentagon.

Sure if you fought in WW2 or one of the few other decent wars, you have something to be proud of, and I can even say, “Thank you for your service,” but the main thing is that you signed up for the rightwing army of the rich that is dead set against the people and popular rule everywhere on Earth. Sure, it’s a great army, professional, super-competent and deadly, but it’s generally tasked with doing lousy things. Why anyone would sign up for that reactionary nightmare of an institution is beyond me. America needs to level the Pentagon and put in a true People’s Army instead. Like that would ever happen.

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How the Pentagon and the CIA De Facto Created the FARC

Colombia has a very strange political system. There are two main political parties, the Liberals and the Conservatives, who are striking in that there seems to be so little difference between them. They are both parties of the Colombian ruling class, possibly representing a “liberal” versus “conservative” split in the ruling class a long time ago. Just guessing, the split may have had something to do with religion with the conservatives being the more religious party and wanting a bigger role for the Church in the state and the liberals being more modernizing reformers who were more secular and dedicated to more of a church-state split.

Unbelievably, these two ruling class parties who are barely different at all, spent the entire 1950’s murdering each other by the hundreds of thousands in an insane bloodletting called “La Violencia.” A Leftist politican (I think his name was Galan) was elected in the late 1940’s, but he was quickly murdered by the Colombian ruling class, which is what they always do with any Leftist who wins an election down there. This was the first time that Colombia had elected anyone even remotely resembling a progressive reformer, so of course the ruling class murdered him immediately. His killing set off huge riots all over Colombia that raged for a long time and were difficult to put down.

I believe that this set off the Violencia because I think Galan, a Leftist, actually ran on the Liberal ticket. Most of the people slaughtering each other during this idiotic Violencia were just the Colombian urban poor and the poor peasants of the rural areas. The ruling classes formed armies out of these poor people and sent them out to commit mass murder on each other.

After 300,000 deaths caused by the Colombian ruling class in the Violencia, the roots of the Marxist revolution down there took hold. The FARC were the remains of Violencia fighters who said the heck with this war and took refuge at a place called Mariatelia in Colombia in 1964 and set up communal farms there. They were tired of fighting and just wanted to be left alone.

The Colombian media went crazy screaming about the “Communist government” that seceded from the state had formed down there. The CIA was in on this wild propaganda process from the start.

Eventually the Colombian government went down to this area with a large army force and attacked these communes with massive weaponry. The Pentagon and the CIA were involved in the battle. The US and the Colombians even used chemical weapons to try to exterminate these farmers. The farmers fought back, but they were outnumbered. Maybe 90-95% of them were killed, but a few survived.

The survivors realized that there was no way to live in peace with what has always been a genocidal Colombian ruling class, and they took up arms to defend themselves. This is the way that almost all Leftwing guerrilla wars got started in the Cold War. The Left got tired of sitting around waiting for the government to come out and murder them, so they decided that as long as the government was going to come out and try to kill them, they might as well get some guns and try to defend themselves. This is how the FMLN, the URNG, the FARC, the ELN, the Sandinistas and even the MRTA got started.

So this was the beginning of Manuel “Sure Shot” Marulanda and the FARC, essentially created by the mass murders of the Pentagon and the CIA in Colombia.

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The “Failed Socialism” Lie

A good argument can be made that the Communist economic system failed pretty badly. The capitalist economic system fails pretty badly too in many places, but it fails in a different way, and it seems that many folks prefer a failed capitalist system (as we have in the US right now and in my other countries) to a failed Communist system.

The system that failed was one where the state owned the entire means of production. The economy was a planned economy, often referred to as the Command Economy. It didn’t work very well.

The USSR had something called Gosplan, a huge building in
Moscow that housed that part of the state that planned the economy every year.

For instance, Gosplan would have to decide how many eggs to produce per person per year. They would have to make a wildassed guess of how many eggs the average person would eat in a year, and then they would produce that many eggs. It is almost impossible to plan an economy this way due to the vicissitudes of human nature. Also not pricing things by supply and demand caused all sorts of problems. The prices of things often did not reflect their true cost, so things would be sold for far less than it cost to produce them. This pricing problem caused all manner of problems.

Needless to say, with the collapse of the USSR in 1991 and the subsequent fall of the East Bloc, this system was rejected as a poor model for an economic system.

So when people say “failed socialism” they are referring to the Command Economy like the one that the USSR had. This is the only type of socialism that has failed. There are many other types of socialism, and they still all work just fine.

However, rightwing propagandists and liars have seized on the failure of the Soviet system to wage a disgusting and dishonest campaign against all types of socialism, including those that work just fine. Lately it has been expanded even to social liberalism, which is the leftwing economic model that the US has, since we really do not have a social democracy. I suppose social liberalism can be though of as social democracy light.

They have also expanded “failed socialism” to include all government regulations of business and the entire welfare state including Social Security and Medicare. Anything the government does other than cops or the army is “failed socialism.” What they are really saying is that Social Security and the other welfare state programs and environmental and all other regulations are all Communism.

The right wing has actually been saying this since the end of World War 2 in this country when the Cold War started up. The US government got in on this lie, and the US state has been propagandizing the “failed socialism” model every time some leftwing government shows up in Latin America and tries to raise the minimum wage.

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US Foreign Policy 1946-2016 in a Nutshell: Kill the “Communists”

The US foreign policy line since 1946 with regard to other governments particularly in Latin America, is that anything leftwing in the economy, including government schools, state health care, land reform, labor regulations, labor unions, the minimum wage, and any and all redistribution of wealth programs is all Communism. We have murdered or helped murder millions of people since 1946 after calling them Communists for doing a land reform or raising the minimum wage.

The US has also murdered or helped murder thousands of labor union members and leaders because the US line since 1946 is that labor unions are Communism. Hence all members of unions and especially their leaders are Communists.

The US line since 1946 is that all of these leftwing movements must be suppressed in one way or another, and anyone standing in the way, such as community leaders, labor union members, students, peasants, and native American tribe members are all Communists and are subject to harassment, arrest, beating, firings, torture, imprisonment, and especially murder.

The US, the land of freedom, has murdered or helped murder hundreds of thousands of the people listed above, since according to the US, they were all Communists, and Communists need to be killed. Even with the end of the Cold War, we are still murdering or helping to murder thousands of these people every year after calling them Communists.

This “kill the Communists” campaign is one of thee pillars of US foreign policy for both the Democrats and the Republicans. This project is run out of the Executive Branch, especially the State Department (many of whose employees in embassies are CIA agents), the CIA, the DIA, The National Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute, USAID, the Foundation for US Labor Reform, and especially the Pentagon.

The Pentagon actually has an institute called the School of the Americas in the US South where they teach this “kill the Communists” philosophy to military officers all over the continent. These officers are trained in how to set up and run rightwing death squads to terrorize the people, or excuse me, the Communists. There are also many courses in advanced torture techniques. Almost all of the worst mass murderers in Latin America since 1946 are School of the Americas graduates.

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Disconnected in Cuba: Yes, but How Much?

As you now know,Obama has just gone to Cuba, the first US President to go there in many years. There is much to write about that visit including a wild run-up in rightwing outrage, especially over a photo taken of Obama with a painting of Che Guevara in the background.

One thing you will notice is that any article in the US or UK that discusses the Internet in Cuba will usually say that there is hardly any Internet in Cuba, that it is all restricted to the island and that hardly any Cubans have access to it anyway.

All reporting in the US and UK about Cuba is essentially propaganda, Cold War propaganda.

The war against Communism was one of the most serious wars that the capitalist class ever fought. If Communism won, everything they had, all their money, wealth assets and power, would be gone. The Communists and everyone and anyone associated with them, which in practice meant anyone on the Left at all, had to be defeated and not only that but destroyed. Anything was fair game in this fight to the death.

Mass propaganda was ubiquitous in the US during the Cold War because the capitalists thought that the threat of Communism was so great that all moral considerations had to go out the window and the ends justified the means. Yes, we say the ends justifies the means is immoral, but this is frankly the way that most humans operate. The ends justifies the means is the manner by which human life occurs and evolves, and it is just as present in modern civilization as it is in any primitive tribe.

“Anything to achieve our goal is ok,” is the human motto. In practice during the Cold War, this meant that an unbelievable amount of lying and distortion was allowed in coverage of the Cold War as long as it helped to defeat the Communists. This mass lying is still with us. No article about Cuba, North Korea, Belarus, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador or Argentina can be expected to tell anything near the truth.

The Cold War never ended because it was not just a war against the USSR. Even with no USSR, the Cold War had to go on. The Cold War needs to continue as long as there is socialism or a Left exists anywhere in the world. The Cold War was never really a war against the USSR. It was just sold to us that way. It was really a war against anything remotely leftwing from social liberalism through socialist all the way to Communism. The Cold War was 100% about economics and 0% about anything else.

Disconnected in Cuba: Yes, but How Much?

By the Cavivache Media Team

The first things that come to mind are the lack of connection and its nonexistence when thinking of this equation. It’s true that a great number of Cubans have never connected to the Internet but in reality it is more nuanced then the (more often heard) statements that say, “there is no Internet in Cuba” or “people have no access to information in Cuba”. From informal networks to compilations that travel on flash drives, and a whole series of other alternatives, Cubans have known how to find solutions despite the economic difficulties and the inefficiencies of the institutions in charge of facilitating Internet connections.

In 2014, according to Cuba’s National Office of Statistics and Information (ONEI), the country had 271 Internet users for every thousand inhabitants, close to 27% of the population. It’s not clear if this percentage includes the users that are connected to the series of national networks that don’t have access to content beyond the .cu domain. The government gives these accounts to doctors, cultural workers and other professionals in diverse sectors. For years, outsmarting the proxies of these local networks became normal to users and there were even moments when there breaches and it was possible to navigate on the Internet.

In contrast to the previous data, other reports indicate that before the surge of navigation halls and Wi-Fi zones, connectivity to Internet on the island reached 5%, which is not a very trustworthy figure.

Regardless of the exactness of the previous data, on June 4, 2013, Cuba took a step towards a mayor access to Internet with the opening of 118 navigation halls in the country at the price of 4.50 CUC an hour (1 CUC is approximately worth 1.15 USD). Two years later on July 1, 2015, 35 Wi-Fi zones were inaugurated in different parts of the country, authorization was granted for Cuban users to connect to Wi-Fi from tourist centers, and the prices of connecting were brought down to 2.00 CUC an hour. All of these measures have helped considerably to increase the presence of Cubans on the Internet, despite not knowing too all of its capacities.

According to Mayra Arevich Marín, an engineer and president of Cuba’s Telecommunication’s Company (ETECSA) at the end of 2015 there were 339 navigation halls with 1,174 computers with which to connect. At the beginning of 2016, there were 65 public areas with Wi-Fi and they hoped to create the infrastructure to open 80 new public Wi-Fi hotspots. Arevich Marín declared that at an average, more the 150 thousand Cubans have access daily to the Internet through these means. She also added that by November 2015, there were 1.2 million Nauta e-mail accounts, an international e-mail service used on phones with data plans that serves as a useful variable because it does not require connecting to the internet.

In any case, the statistics of the number of users that connect using Wi-Fi will never be completely trustworthy since many people share their connection through their cellphones or using apps like Connectify that allow for several users to connect from a single account. It’s a service that is usually resold in Wi-Fi hotspots as the slowest of options, which most people don’t know is also, insecure, but is definitely cheaper.

Apart from this “pure Internet” several national platforms exist in Cuba that have been developed since the 1990s in order to organize and connect prioritized sectors for the country’s development. For example, more than forty thousand doctors connect from their homes to Infomed, a network dedicated to medicine, that is part of Cuba’s intranet that despite its problems makes quite a contribution to their field. Infomed has several services like e-mail, virtual libraries, download of ftp (file transfer protocol) archives, scientific blog platforms, and social participation groups. Overall it’s a community dedicated to medical scientific advancement.

Another web portal is Cubarte, which is focused on sharing cultural information and services by artists and cultural professionals. In 2013, there were eleven thousand accounts on this platform, that among its services, apart from e-mail service it also has websites, bulletins with news articles on culture and a calendar that is updated often and can work by text messages. Like Infomed, it is far from perfect but has been a useful tool, although it hasn’t been used to the fullest in the process of connecting and developing the cultural sector.

Tinkering with the Internet in Cuba

Many people use the IMO app to communicate with family and friends. Photo: Fernando Medina / Cachivache Media

When you visit parks, hotels and other public areas with Wi-Fi hotspots in Cuba, there is a recurring scene: people — many people — talking euphorically into the air, pointing a phone to their face and in the best of cases, connected to a pair of earphones. The cause of all this behavior is IMO, a free app for phones that is used to make video calls and that Cubans use to talk with family and friends abroad. There are no public statistics on the number of Cubans using IMO in our country but the usual scene we described gives an idea of its popularity.

María Isabel Domínguez García in her research on Cuban Youth: Challenges and Opportunities for Current Cuban Society, published in 2013 by the Group on Youth Studies and the Center for Psychological and Sociological Research, did a survey on information technology and communication in which young people in between the ages of 11 and 24 or 88,2% declared having used Facebook at some point.

A less conclusive data but that still demonstrates how familiar Cuban youth are with social media, is the number of likes on the pages of some of the main stars of international football. On a fan map published by Facebook, Cuba is the tenth country in giving likes to Lionel Messi, third for Iker Casillas, eighth for Andrés Iniesta, fourth for Gerard Piqué and twelfth among followers of David Villa. This doesn’t confirm that they are regular users, but does affirm the existence of at least a first contact between Cuban youth and the platform created by Mark Zuckerberg.

Google Trends offers more references to how Cubans use the Internet. For example, from 2011 to 2014, Univision’s reality show Belleza Latina was at the top of search hits for Cuba. The soap operas in season also had an important place as well as the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, The 2012 London Olympics and the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. In 2015, the year that navigating the web through the Wi-Fi hotspots exploded, the prize went to IMO, the video call app mentioned previously along with the login and exit pages for the Nauta accounts, which is another sign of the use of the Wi-Fi hotspots.

The Weekly Package

The informal consumption of audiovisuals has become common practice in Cuba. Photo: Fernando Medina / Cachivache Media

The Internet is not the only or even the most important source of information and connection for Cubans. In face of the impossibility of users to connect to the Internet, the development of new technologies in communications and information took a very particular path in Cuba in the field of entertainment. This phenomenon that was born in the era of Betamax and VHS tapes as an informal consumption of audiovisuals has been updated with the arrival of USB’s. In this world of informal consumers, the phenomenon known as the Weekly Package has become one of the most popular and best-structured variants in the country to combat the lack of connectivity.

Very succinctly, the Weekly Package is a compilation of information of 1 Terabyte that is regularly updated. Its distributors “emulate” the universe of content in the web, that just like on the Internet, you will find all types of materials: movies, shows, talent shows, TV series, soap operas from different countries, animated cartoons, YouTube videos, news, web pages that have been saved with national and international news. It comes with cellphone apps (iOS and Android), programs for different operating systems, videogames, documentaries (Cuban and foreign), programs from Cuban television, books, magazines, music, Cuban and foreign music videos, among other things.

The makeup of this content reproduces the usual patterns of diffusion in the entertainment industry: more than 60% of the products in the Weekly Package are from the US, with programs from the leading channels in the US like HBO, CNN, Cinemax, ESPN, Fox, ABC, CBS and Discovery. Despite its mimetic character in terms of cultural diversity, because of its wide scope the Weekly Package, has so many options that its ends up satisfying the needs of amusement for most people.

Access to this is quite simple. In its usual form, the whole terabyte of information cost 2 CUC, although in Havana, 70% of those surveyed for a thesis research project, declared never having paid for it at all. Prices fluctuate due to various factors, such as the distance that distributors must travel, how up to date the materials are, and how much information is bought since most people only have flash drives with capacities of in between 8 and 32 Gigabytes. They then select only the content they want to see.

According to numerous reports, the creation and distribution of the Weekly Package works through a nucleus of people who divide the tasks among themselves and take responsibility for getting the different materials generally downloaded from the Internet or captured through satellite antennas. Later a selection is made and the terabyte is prepared. These providers charge in between 100 and 400 CUC for their services every week. However there isn’t a single model, but several in which many people and music studios include their own content and change accordingly with their interests.

Many of the Weekly Package’s distributors are legally covered under a license for disc vendors, a general patent provided by the Cuban government to those distributing audiovisual materials. Despite being subject to copyright laws, its protection doesn’t seem to be a priority to the Island’s authorities.

According to different researchers, among the main motives for seeing the Weekly Package are the entertainment and the access to information. Even though Cuban television regularly shows movies from the US, many of which are blockbusters that have yet to come out on US channels, the Weekly Package is much faster to get and comes is higher definition. It also works as an offline version of Internet, where users select the materials they want and when they want to see them. A study from 2014 by the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television’s Center for Social Research revealed that less than 40% of people in Havana used the Weekly Package.

As of now, the Cuban government has created other alternatives such as The Backpack or the Educate Yourself, which try to offer alternative models of cultural consumption. Due to several issues that range from problems in the selection design to the presentation of the product itself, the result of these efforts have been a failure.

Mobile devices have become one of the main forms of digital consumption in Cuba. Photo: Fernando Medina / Cachivache Media

Other alternatives to being disconnected

Recently Cachivache Media wrote a piece about the Street Network (SNET), an informal and self-managed network that connects all the municipalities of Havana through wireless or by LAN. It extends itself from the municipalities of Bauta all the way to Cojimar (about 30 miles).

But SNET is not the only network of its kind in Cuba. Outside of Havana, many other municipalities also have informal and self-managed networks where alternative versions of social networks, game platforms, discussion forums, the usual ftp, as well as the Weekly Package and other diverse initiatives like specialized magazines and local information can be found.

Another option used by Cubans to talk and share content is Zapya. It’s an application that has become an offline space where people share contents of all sorts, especially applications that don’t have to be paid for. Zapya is also used to chat, a sort of social network where the user can decide to stay anonymous or not, share photos and talk about any theme. One of its most controversial uses has been its use for sexting and sexual hook-ups, which because of a lack of basic knowledge of cyber security, there have been cases of harassment and abuse.

The panorama just described is part of an increase in the last few years of a series of projects that focus on offering services and satisfying the need to take advantage of new technologies, adapted to the lack of connection on the Cuban scene. There are leading examples by Cuban entrepreneurs like Vistar and Play Off, magazines that are respectively dedicated to culture and sports. Suenacubano is a platform for sharing Cuban music and then there are mobile apps like ConoceCuba, a compilation of cultural interests, EcuMovil, a mobile version of the online Cuban encyclopedia Ecured. There is also AlaMesa, a restaurant guide and Ké hay pa’ hoy? Which is a cultural guide (these last two are available on Google Play).

Finally, are we connected or not?

Cuba has a sui generis reality where the lack of connection is not synonymous of the neither cultural nor informative isolation. Despite the scarce penetration of the internet, that keeps us isolated from important economic, scientific and cultural processes, Cubans have known how to find solutions in order to somehow stay connected to the world. Either through the Internet provided by the government or the different initiatives of several Cuban entrepreneurs, it has allowed for Cubans to stay in tune with what happens “abroad”.

As a result, the tastes of consumers on the Island aren’t very different from the rest of western culture. All the rumors, records and news from European football, whose games are shown frequently on Cuban TV, are lived with the same emotion as in any home on the Old Continent. In any cafeteria or taxi, the top hits from Billboard can be heard. Only five days after House of Cards 4th season came out on Netflix, it was already being shared on flash drives in Havana.

Yet there is much to be to done in making full use of the Internet’s tools and to domesticate or Cubanize this network of networks. In matters of culture and information, we have only a short delay, but just that. The idea of a blind and deaf Cuba, a sort of El Dorado that is waiting to be discovered and discovering of the world is very much far from reality.

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