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US meddled in Venezuelan elections, says Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza in new interview

Election meddling is fine when America does it, just don’t do it to them

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Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Jorge Arreaza, talked about how the US embassy and American diplomats meddled in Venezuela’s elections, calling for the opposition to boycott the elections in a bid to undermine its legitimacy, in a recent interview with Deutsche Welle.

Western media, in attempts to parrot the illegitimacy claims, have often pointed to the boycotts that much of the opposition carried out.

But if we take Arreaza at his word, then it would seem to appear that these boycotts were an attempt by Western diplomats to meddle in the elections of Venezuela.

Meanwhile, the American media has been bashing Russia right and left over alleged meddling in America’s 2016 presidential election.

As far as American media is concerned, then, election meddling is fine when they’re ones doing it, just don’t do it to them.

Some of the topics covered in this interview include US-Venezuela relations, recent elections, US threats of regime change, Venezuelan economic model, and others. The text of the interview is included below:

Venezuela is mired in crises. Its foreign minister, Jorge Arreaza, spoke to DW about how the opposition and the US have brought the country to the brink of ruin and why the Maduro’s government stands behind socialism.

Deutsche Welle: Let’s begin with the electoral results and voter participation. Venezuela appears to have seen the lowest participation rate since the start of the Revolution. How do you explain this?

Foreign Minister Arreaza: This was a difficult election held in the middle of not only a boycott from the opposition, but also an internal aggression against our economy, against the Venezuelan people. But of course there’s also external aggression from the US and from the governments that are subordinate to the US government.

When you see on TV that 14 countries in Latin America and the US government and the EU believe that these elections aren’t fair, then of course that has an effect on the people. If you listen to the leaders of the opposition saying that they will not participate in the election, you might even think, why should I vote if President Nicolas Maduro already won? I will support Maduro, but why should I go to vote if he has already won? And in spite of that, our voter participation corresponds to the average participation rate Latin America. And other countries haven’t seen a boycott likes ours. If this had happened in Chile or Columbia the participation figure would have been 10 percent. So here we have almost half of the registered voters and the US did everything it could do to stop the people from voting.

You mentioned Latin America and the US. All of these countries claim that the vote was unfair and undemocratic.

It’s very strange because, first of all, it’s the elites – not our neighboring countries – who are responding to the interests and orders of the elite in Washington. The people in Latin America don’t have anything against Venezuela or the Bolivarian Revolution. So what we saw is people predicting the future saying that the elections wouldn’t be fair months before the elections were even held. What they did was create the conditions to then say that the elections were unfair. The electoral system in Venezuela is the best one, maybe in the world.

There have been reports that small stations called “red points” were set up on election day where people were given food in exchange for proving that they had voted.

That is not true. There is not absolutely proof of that. These stations are traditionally used by both sides in Venezuela. The opposition set up “yellow points” during the 2013 elections. It’s also very common in other Latin American countries. In Costa Rica, for example, the political parties are inside the electoral centers.

How do you imagine the future with the US after the diplomatic sanctions? You have already expelled two US diplomats.

It is the least we can do. They have tried to impose what it are usually refered to as “sanctions.” The only goal is to make you do what they want you to do. This is what has happened with Iran, and with other Asian and African countries. And this is harming Venezuela and its economy. It’s difficult for us to buy medicine and food. It’s difficult for us to get our oil pay back, our oil which is sent by ships. It’s difficult to know when they are going to pay for the oil because the banks don’t want to work with the Venezuelan state and companies. The charge d’affaires, Todd Robinson, was a political actor during in recent months. He pressed the opposition not to participate in the elections. He pressed the candidate Henri Falcón to withdraw before the elections. The US embassy has done this before in every single country. But here in Venezuela we don’t accept that.

Are you still open to dialogue with the US?

If the US respects international law and our country, we can have a dialogue with whom ever. They are the ones who do not respect us. We even respect President Trump. It’s their problem, their sovereignty, their people who have chosen him. But if he attacks us, we have to respond.

President Maduro said in the National Constitutional Assembly that Trump looks like a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

He is. It is the extreme right that is in power in the US. They are racist, supremacist. They believe whites Americans are superior to everyone, not only in the world but also within the US. And they have links to all these extremists groups. The US’s decision is in part because they don’t like the Venezuelan Revolution and in part because they are racist.

A US senator said that the world would accept an armed coup d’etat by moving President Maduro out of the country. Are you afraid?

Latin America is used to this. Whereever the US is in Latin America and the Caribbean, it tries to make the governments do whatever it wants. This has happened before but we aren’t afraid. It’s a part of their history. They tried it for 60 years with Fidel in Cuba. That’s why we have to defend our sovereignty.

We are seeing a mass exodus of young qualified people leaving the country. There is also huge economic problem and a humanitarian emergency. Don’t you think it’s the right time to change Hugo Chavez’s economic model?

The economic sector that we have in Venezuela emerged through capitalism. The property of Venezuelan companies is almost the same as before the Revolution. This is not socialism – we are far from socialism. We have not proved the socialist model, we have only made some decisions and taken some steps, but we are far from our goals because the capitalist sector is against that model. That’s why we have these problems in our country.

What are you going to do?

We have to control the economy in every single way. We have to work with the private sector, we have to regulate it. If they want to comply with the law and to protect our people, they are welcome. If they want to wage war against our people and against the legitimate government, then we have to make the decisions that we have to make.

We believe that the private sector is very important in the socialism that we are trying to build. But if the private sector wants to stage a coup and wants the people to be poor, it is not allowed to play the game. During the coup in 2002, they appointed the head of the commerce chamber president. The private sector and the opposition are the same internally. Those are the people that have taken to the streets and have killed people, destroyed public buildings and private property. They have affected the economy. They are against our model and don’t play fair. They don’t respect the law. If that are willing to respect the law, then we invite them even to be main players in the future of Venezuela. If they want to keep on trying to make the people suffer and to remove the president, then they are out of the game. There is only one direction, we have a project, the Homeland Plan, “El plan de la Patria.” The private sector is included, if they want.

The EU expects the release of political prisoners. What are you going to do?

In December, more than 60 of these criminals were released and now President Maduro is also taking the steps to prepare for more releases. I’m sure that most of the people who are interested in Venezuelan news weren’t aware of this. Our good actions are censored by the international community. In the National Constitutional Assembly we have a Peace, Dialogue and Truth Commission and we are examining every case separately with judicial power.

I have heard Maduro tell the Assembly: “We are not doing things right, transformation of the leadership, of the Revolution is necessary.”

The Venezuelan Revolution has always been based upon self criticism. Comandante Chavez had three R’s: revision, rectification and reinvigoration of the party. What President Maduro is saying is true. We have great tools: We protect the Venezuelan people; we are building more than 2 million housing solution; we are giving people subsidies directly; we protect children and the elderly; we have free health and education. But we have to do it better.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Jorge Arreaza is Venezuela’s minister of foreign affairs.

In a post election environment for Venezuela, the US and its regional allies are continuing with their program of hostility towards the oil bearing Latin American nation. In fact, the program isn’t significantly different from that which is employed against Iran. In both cases, the nations contain vast oil reserves, in both cases, the US has led regime change attempts, and in both cases, the outcome was a defensive stance against American aggression.

 

 

 

 

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US-China trade war heats up as surplus hits record $34 Billion (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 136.

Alex Christoforou

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According to a report by the AFP, China’s trade surplus with the United States ballooned to a record $34.1 billion in September, despite a raft of US tariffs, official data showed Friday, adding fuel to the fire of a worsening trade war.

Relations between the world’s two largest economies have soured sharply this year, with US President Donald Trump vowing on Thursday to inflict economic pain on China if it does not blink.
The two countries imposed new tariffs on a massive amount of each other’s goods mid-September, with the US targeting $200 billion in Chinese imports and Beijing firing back at $60 billion worth of US goods.

“China-US trade friction has caused trouble and pounded our foreign trade development,” customs spokesman Li Kuiwen told reporters Friday.

But China’s trade surplus with the US grew 10 percent in September from a record $31 billion in August, according to China’s customs administration. It was a 22 percent jump from the same month last year.

China’s exports to the US rose to $46.7 billion while imports slumped to $12.6 billion.

China’s overall trade — what it buys and sells with all countries including the US — logged a $31.7 billion surplus, as exports rose faster than imports.

Exports jumped 14.5 percent for September on-year, beating forecasts from analysts polled by Bloomberg News, while imports rose 14.3 percent on-year.

While the data showed China’s trade remained strong for the month, analysts forecast the trade war will start to hurt in coming months.

China’s export jump for the month suggests exporters were shipping goods early to beat the latest tariffs, said ANZ’s China economist Betty Wang, citing the bounce in electrical machinery exports, much of which faced the looming duties.

“We will watch for downside risks to China’s exports” in the fourth quarter, Wang said.

Analysts say a sharp depreciation of the yuan has also helped China weather the tariffs by making its exports cheaper.

“The big picture is the Chinese exports have so far held up well in the face of escalating trade tensions and cooling global growth, most likely thanks to the competitiveness boost provided by a weaker renminbi (yuan),” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, China economist at Capital Economics.

“With global growth likely to cool further in the coming quarters and US tariffs set to become more punishing, the recent resilience of exports is unlikely to be sustained,” he said.

According to Bloomberg US President Donald Trump’s new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement isn’t that different from the North American Free Trade Agreement that it replaced. But hidden in the bowels of the new trade deal is a clause, Article 32.10, that could have a far-reaching impact. The new agreement requires member states to get approval from the other members if they initiate trade negotiations with a so-called non-market economy. In practice, “non-market” almost certainly means China. If, for example, Canada begins trade talks with China, it has to show the full text of the proposed agreement to the U.S. and Mexico — and if either the U.S. or Mexico doesn’t like what it sees, it can unilaterally kick Canada out of the USMCA.

Although it seems unlikely that the clause would be invoked, it will almost certainly exert a chilling effect on Canada and Mexico’s trade relations with China. Forced to choose between a gargantuan economy across the Pacific and another one next door, both of the U.S.’s neighbors are almost certain to pick the latter.

This is just another part of Trump’s general trade waragainst China. It’s a good sign that Trump realizes that unilateral U.S. efforts alone won’t be enough to force China to make concessions on issues like currency valuation, intellectual-property protection and industrial subsidies. China’s export markets are much too diverse:

If Trump cuts the U.S. off from trade with China, the likeliest outcome is that China simply steps up its exports to other markets. That would bind the rest of the world more closely to China and weaken the global influence of the U.S. China’s economy would take a small but temporary hit, while the U.S. would see its position as the economic center of the world slip into memory.

Instead, to take on China, Trump needs a gang. And that gang has to be much bigger than just North America. But most countries in Europe and East Asia probably can’t be bullied into choosing between the U.S. and China. — their ties to the U.S. are not as strong as those of Mexico and Canada. Countries such as South Korea, Germany, India and Japan will need carrots as well as sticks if they’re going to join a U.S.-led united trade front against China.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the escalating trade war between the United States and China, and the record trade surplus that positions China with a bit more leverage than Trump anticipated.

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Via Zerohedge Trump Threatens China With More Tariffs, Does Not Seek Economic “Depression”

US equity futures dipped in the red after President Trump threatened to impose a third round of tariffs on China and warned that Chinese meddling in U.S. politics was a “bigger problem” than Russian involvement in the 2016 election.

During the same interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes”, in which Trump threatened to impose sanctions against Saudi Arabia if the Saudis are found to have killed WaPo reported Khashoggi, and which sent Saudi stock plunging, Trump said he “might,” impose a new round of tariffs on China, adding that while he has “great chemistry” with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and noting that Xi “wants to negotiate”, he doesn’t “know that that’s necessarily going to continue.” Asked if American products have become more expensive due to tariffs on China, Trump said that “so far, that hasn’t turned out to be the case.”

“They can retaliate, but they can’t, they don’t have enough ammunition to retaliate,” Trump says, “We do $100 billion with them. They do $531 billion with us.”

Trump was also asked if he wants to push China’s economy into a depression to which the US president said “no” before comparing the country’s stock-market losses since the tariffs first launched to those in 1929, the start of the Great Depression in the U.S.

“I want them to negotiate a fair deal with us. I want them to open their markets like our markets are open,” Trump said in the interview that aired Sunday. So far, the U.S. has imposed three rounds of tariffs on Chinese imports totaling $250 billion, prompting China to retaliate against U.S. products. The president previously has threatened to hit virtually all Chinese imports with duties.

Asked about his relationship with Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin’s alleged efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, Trump quickly turned back to China. “They meddled,” he said of Russia, “but I think China meddled too.”

“I think China meddled also. And I think, frankly, China … is a bigger problem,” Trump said, as interviewer Lesley Stahl interrupted him for “diverting” from a discussion of Russia.

Shortly before an audacious speech by Mike Pence last weekend, in which the US vice president effectively declared a new cold war on Beijing (see “Russell Napier: Mike Pence Announces Cold War II”), Trump made similar accusations during a speech at the United Nations last month, which his aides substantiated by pointing to long-term Chinese influence campaigns and an advertising section in the Des Moines Register warning farmers about the potential effects of Trump’s tariffs.

Meanwhile, in a rare U.S. television appearance, China’s ambassador to the U.S. said Beijing has no choice but to respond to what he described as a trade war started by the U.S.

“We never wanted a trade war, but if somebody started a trade war against us, we have to respond and defend our own interests,” said China’s Ambassador Cui Tiankai.

Cui also dismissed as “groundless” the abovementioned suggestion by Vice President Mike Pence that China has orchestrated an effort to meddle in U.S. domestic affairs. Pence escalated the rhetoric in a speech Oct. 4, saying Beijing has created a “a whole-of-government approach” to sway American public opinion, including spies, tariffs, coercive measures and a propaganda campaign.

Pence’s comments were some of the most critical about China by a high-ranking U.S. official in recent memory. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo got a lecture when he visited Beijing days later, about U.S. actions that were termed “completely out of line.” The tough words followed months of increases tit-for-tat tariffs imposed by Washington and Beijing that have ballooned to cover hundreds of billions of dollars in bilateral trade.

During a recent interview with National Public Radio, Cui said the U.S. has “not sufficiently” dealt in good faith with the Chinese on trade matters, saying “the U.S. position keeps changing all the time so we don’t know exactly what the U.S. would want as priorities.”

Meanwhile, White House economic director Larry Kudlow said on “Fox News Sunday” that President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will “probably meet” at the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires in late November. “There’s plans and discussions and agendas” being discussed, he said. So far, talks with China on trade have been “unsatisfactory,” Kudlow said. “We’ve made our asks” on allegations of intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers, he added. “We have to have reciprocity.”

Addressing the upcoming meeting, Cui said he was present at two previous meetings of Xi and Trump, and that top-level communication “played a key role, an irreplaceable role, in guiding the relationship forward.” Despite current tensions the two have a “good working relationship,” he said.

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BREAKING: Explosion in Crimea, Russia kills many, injuring dozens, terrorism suspected

According to preliminary information, the incident was caused by a gas explosion at a college facility in Kerch, Crimea.

The Duran

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“We are clarifying the information at the moment. Preliminary figures are 50 injured and 10 dead. Eight ambulance crews are working at the site and air medical services are involved,” the press-service for the Crimean Ministry of Health stated.

Medics announced that at least 50 people were injured in the explosion in Kerch and 25 have already been taken to local hospital with moderate wounds, according to Sputnik.

Local news outlets reported that earlier in the day, students at the college heard a blast and windows of the building were shattered.

Putin Orders that Assistance Be Provided to Victims of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The president has instructed the Ministry of Health and the rescue services to take emergency measures to assist victims of this explosion, if necessary, to ensure the urgent transportation of seriously wounded patients to leading medical institutions of Russia, whether in Moscow or other cities,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitriy Peskov said.

The president also expressed his condolences to all those affected by the tragic incident.

Manhunt Underway in Kerch as FSB Specialists Investigate Site of Explosion – National Anti-Terrorist Committee

The site of the blast that rocked a city college in Kerch is being examined by FSB bomb disposal experts and law enforcement agencies are searching for clues that might lead to the arrest of the perpetrators, the National Anti Terrorism Committee said in a statement.

“Acting on orders from the head of the NAC’s local headquarters, FSB, Interior Ministry, Russian Guards and Emergency Ministry units have arrived at the site. The territory around the college has been cordoned off and the people inside the building evacuated… Mine-disposal experts are working at the site and law enforcement specialists are investigating,” the statement said.

Terrorist Act Considered as Possible Cause of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The tragic news that comes from Kerch. Explosion. The president was informed … The data on those killed and the number of injured is constantly updated,” Peskov told reporters.

“[The version of a terrorist attack] is being considered,” he said.

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10 percent of American F-22 fighter jets damaged by Hurricane Michael

Part of the reason the F-22’s were left in the path of the storm is that they were broken and too expensive to fix or fly.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Note to the wise: When a hurricane comes, move your planes out of the way. Especially your really expensive F-22 fighter planes. After all, those babies are $339 mil apiece. Got the message?

Apparently the US Air Force didn’t get this message. Or, did they find themselves unable to follow the message?

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The Washington Times reported Tuesday that between 17 and 20 of these top-of-the-line fighter jets were damaged, some beyond the point of repair, when Hurricane Michael slammed ashore on Mexico Beach, Florida, not far from the Tyndall Air Force Base in the same state. The Times reports that more than a dozen of the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets were damaged after being left in the path of the extremely fierce storm:

President Trump’s tour Monday of devastation wrought by Hurricane Michael took him close to Florida’s Tyndall Air Force Base, where more than a dozen F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets were damaged after being left in the path of the powerful storm.

The pricey fighter jets — some possibly damaged beyond repair — were caught in the widespread destruction that took at least 18 lives, flattened homes, downed trees and buckled roads from Florida to Virginia.

The decision to leave roughly $7.5 billion in aircraft in the path of a hurricane raised eyebrows, including among defense analysts who say the Pentagon’s entire high-tech strategy continues to make its fighter jets vulnerable to weather and other mishaps when they are grounded for repairs.

“This becomes sort of a self-defeating cycle where we have $400 million aircraft that can’t fly precisely because they are $400 million aircraft,” said Dan Grazier, a defense fellow at Project on Government Oversight. “If we were buying simpler aircraft then it would be a whole lot easier for the base commander to get these aircraft up and in working order, at least more of them.”

This is quite a statement. The F-22 is held to be the tip of the American air defense sword. A superb airplane (when it works), it can do things no other plane in the world can do. It boasts a radar profile the size of a marble, making it virtually undetectable by enemy radars. It is highly maneuverable with thrust-vectoring built into its engines.

However, to see a report like this is simply stunning. After all, one would expect that the best military equipment ought to be the most reliable as well. 

It appears that Hurricane Michael figuratively and physically blew the lid off any efforts to conceal a problem with these planes, and indeed with the hyper-technological basis for the US air fighting forcesThe Times continues:

Reports on the number of aircraft damaged ranged from 17 to 22 or about 10 percent of the Air Force’s F-22 fleet of 187.

The Air Force stopped buying F-22s, considered the world’s most advanced fighter jets, in 2012. The aircraft is being replaced by the F-35, another high-tech but slightly less-expensive aircraft.

Later in the tour, at an emergency command center in Georgia, Mr. Trump said the damage to the F-22s couldn’t be avoided because the aircraft were grounded and the storm moved quickly.

“We’re going to have a full report. There was some damage, not nearly as bad as we first heard,” he said when asked about the F-22s, which cost about $339 million each.

“I’m always concerned about cost. I don’t like it,” Mr. Trump said.

Still, the president remains a fan of the high-tech fighter jet.

“The F-22 is one of my all-time favorites. It is the most beautiful fighter jet in the world. One of the best,” he said.

The Air Force managed to fly 33 of the F-22s to safety, but maintenance and repair issues kept 22 of the notoriously finicky aircraft on the ground when the powerful storm hit the base.

About 49 percent of the F-22s are out of action at any given time, according to an Air Force report this year.

This is a stunning statistic. This means that of the 187 planes in existence, 90 of them are not working. At their cost, that means that over thirty billion dollars worth of military equipment is sitting around, broken, just in airplanes alone.

As a point of comparison, the entire Russian military budget for 2017 was $61 billion, with that budget producing hypersonic missiles, superb fighter aircraft and tanks. Russian fighter planes are known for being able to take harsh landing and take-off conditions that would cripple the most modern American flying machines.

It would seem that Hurricane Michael exposed a serious problem with the state of readiness of American armed forces. Thankfully that problem did not arise in combat, but it is no less serious.

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