Honduras regime, mass killing of women

This 17 January 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

4 Years Seeking Justice: Daughter of Slain Indigenous Environmental Leader Berta Cáceres Speaks Out

In Honduras, a new report by the Violence Observatory at the Honduran National Autonomous University says that at least 15 women have been murdered in the first 14 days of this year. Violence against women, LGBTQ people, indigenous leaders and environmental activists has skyrocketed in Honduras under the U.S.-backed government of President Juan Orlando Hernández.

The report comes nearly four years after the Honduran indigenous environmental activist Berta Cáceres was shot dead inside her home in La Esperanza, Honduras, by hired hitmen. Last month in the capital of Tegucigalpa, seven men were sentenced to up to 50 years in prison for her killing in March 2016. At the time of her assassination, Cáceres had been fighting the construction of a major hydroelectric dam on the Gualcarque River on sacred Lenca land in southwestern Honduras.

In November 2018, a court ruled that Cáceres’s killing was ordered by executives of the Honduran company behind the Agua Zarca dam, known as DESA, who hired the convicted hitmen. Cáceres won the Goldman Environmental Prize for her work protecting indigenous communities and for her environmental justice campaign against the massive dam in 2015.

In December, we sat down with one of her daughters, Laura Zúñiga Cáceres, in Madrid, Spain, where she was receiving a human rights award. “This is a late conviction. It has been almost four years of seeking justice. It is the product of a rather difficult and painful process that has been putting us as victims in direct dispute with a murderous and aggressive state, and they produced the minimum consequences that the state could have given,” Zúñiga Cáceres says.

Pedophile billionaire Epstein’s death, suicide or murder?

This 3 December 2019 CBS TV video from the USA says about itself:

Sharyn Alfonsi joins “CBS This Morning” to talk about Sunday’s upcoming 60 Minutes report on the death of Jeffrey Epstein.

This 6 December 2019 CBS TV video from the USA says about itself:

Pathologist hired by Epstein’s family says autopsy may point to murder

After a five-month investigation, 60 Minutes obtained photos of Jeffrey Epstein’s autopsy and the cell where the convicted sex offender was found dead. Forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden, who was hired by Mark Epstein to investigate his brother’s death, joins “CBS This Morning” to discuss new details in the case and why the autopsy may point to a homicide, not a suicide.

On Sunday the CBS television news program “60 Minutes” revealed important new details about the conditions before and after the death of millionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in his jail cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in New York City on August 10. The details both substantiate and add to already existing evidence that Epstein did not commit suicide in his cell as determined by the New York Medical Examiner’s Office, but was, in fact, murdered: here.

United States Republican in far-right terrorism scandal

This 20 December 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

A report commissioned by the Washington state legislature found that Rep. Matt Shea is a threat due to his past participation in domestic terrorism.

By Kayla Costa in the USA:

Washington state legislator investigated for ties with violent far-right groups

30 December 2019

Republican Representative Matthew Shea of the Washington state legislature is now the subject of an investigation due to public allegations of past involvement in far-right political violence. Shea is just one of many state and federal personnel whose ties to fascistic and racist groups have been exposed, though he is the first sitting legislator to face investigation for far-right violent activities.

The Washington State House of Representatives commissioned a full report by the private investigation firm Rampart Group to discover whether Shea “engaged in, planned, or promoted political violence.”

Matt Shea has served in the lower house of the state legislature since 2009, representing Washington’s 4th legislative district, that encompasses a large part of the central rural region. While the investigation takes place, the House Republican leadership suspended Shea from his committee positions in the House, including the Environment and Energy Committee, though his expulsion as a representative cannot take place until the legislature is in session.

The Rampart report notes: “Investigators have obtained evidence that Representative Shea, as a leader of the Patriot Movement, planned, engaged in, and promoted a total of three armed conflicts of political violence against the United States Government in three states outside the State of Washington over a three-year period to include 2014, 2015, and 2016.”

The Patriot Movement includes a collection of ultra-right militia groups, which generally advocate extreme anti-government views, fantasize conspiracies of “globalists” to take away the rights of small property owners, open the United States to invasion by non-white immigrants, and replace the American Constitution with Muslim Sharia Law. The Southern Poverty Law Center identified 623 active patriot groups in 2016, 165 of which were armed militia groups.

In 2014, Shea mobilized Patriot Movement members to take part in an armed occupation of a federal government facility in Bunkerville, Nevada that lasted 41 days. The standoff between federal and militia troops centered on the longstanding attempts of cattle rancher Cliven Bundy to utilize land owned by the federal government. Shea’s calls for support on the Liberty For All III% (3 Percenters) website reportedly helped to generate a turnout of 1,500 armed militia members from different groups within the Patriot Movement, such as the Oath Keepers.

The report of investigation also indicates that in 2015, Matt Shea again called upon Patriot Movement followers to join him in an armed conflict with the Veteran’s Administration in Priest River, Idaho, to defend a veteran’s right to own firearms after he was determined unfit to purchase them by medical professionals. Shea allegedly participated in the armed conflict.

In 2016, Shea had participated in an “act of domestic terrorism” during the infamous armed standoff of federal troops against the Bundy clan and militia group supporters, after the latter occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

Representative Shea also admitted to writing a Christian neo-fascist document that was publicly released in 2018, titled “Biblical Basis for War”, which is referenced in the investigation report. The document lists 14 categories with bullet points that outline religious justifications and rules for militia-based war. According to Shea, war can be carried out to end tyranny, abortions, same-sex marriage, occultism and communism. The methods of assassination, armed resistance, and guerrilla war are justified so long as they serve the interests of God and the end of government tyranny.

In response to the investigation, Shea wrote on his Facebook page, “Like we are seeing with our President this is a sham investigation meant to silence those of us who stand up against attempts to disarm and destroy our great country. I will not back down, I will not give in, I will not resign. Stand strong fellow Patriots.”

He ended his appeal to patriot group supporters by saying, “I will continue to defend the constitution against tyranny and fight to protect our God-given unalienable rights to life, liberty, property, and the ability to defend the same.”

The revelations about Shea’s actions come after numerous police officers and military personnel have been similarly exposed in the past year, indicating the growth of fascist elements within the state.

Two men, Dalton Woodward and Trent East, who actively served in the Army National Guard, were recently kicked out after an Army investigation confirmed their membership in a neo-pagan fascistic hate group called Asatru Folk Assembly.

Less than two weeks ago, the US Army’s XVIII Airborne Corp posted a sympathetic tribute on Facebook to a Nazi war criminal named Joachim Peiper, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge in World War II.

In October, US Coast Guard Lieutenant Christopher Paul Hasson pleaded guilty to charges of unlawfully possessing firearms after an investigation into his stockpiling of 15 weapons and over 1,000 rounds of ammunition for use in planned acts of terrorism against Democratic Party politicians, journalists, and other “cultural Marxists”. Hasson was an active “white nationalist” who frequently browsed far-right websites on his computer at work.

In May, the World Socialist Web Site publicized a report by Unicorn Riot and Huffington Post that exposed members of the US military involved with the neo-Nazi group Identity Evropa, providing insight into how these far-right elements are recruited and cultivated within the armed forces. This report was quickly followed by another which identified hundreds of police officers who were engaged with fascistic and racist groups on social media.

Until recently, ultra-right, white supremacist and neo-fascist groups were kept on the fringes of the Republican Party, for the most part denied direct participation in the affairs of state. Under Trump, they have been promoted and encouraged and, as the case of Representative Shea demonstrates, given direct access to political office.

With his threats of civil war against political opponents and his constant praise of police and military violence, Trump is deliberately whipping up fascistic elements and creating the conditions for their mobilization, both against his political enemies within the ruling elite and, more broadly, against the working class.

GOV. EMPLOYEES FIRED OVER NAZI SALUTE More than 30 cadets and staff members at a corrections academy in West Virginia have been fired after a class photo surfaced on Dec. 5 showing them making a Nazi salute. The cadets made their gesture ― known as the “Hail Hitler” salute ― beneath a sign reading “Hail Byrd.” [HuffPost]

Donald Trump and war crimes in Iraq

This 28 December 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Disturbing new video, details in Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher’s case – Day That Was | MSNBC

Video interviews and documents leaked to The New York Times reveal how Navy SEALs turned against their own platoon leader, Eddie Gallagher, with allegations that he killed for the sake of killing. President Trump restored Gallagher’s rank in November, after Gallagher was convicted of posing with a dead body but acquitted of more serious charges. The two met at Mar-a-Lago last Saturday.

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

Edward Gallagher, Donald Trump and America’s criminal wars

30 December 2019

On Friday, the New York Times published leaked videos and photos documenting US war crimes in Iraq. The material included a photo of a dozen US Special Operations soldiers posing with the corpse of a teenager they had just murdered.

Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, holding up the teenager’s head as if he were a slaughtered deer, had moments before killed the injured and captive teenager by repeatedly stabbing him.

Gallagher was exonerated for the murder of the teenager by a military court and then pardoned by President Donald Trump for a string of other crimes that were part of a homicidal rampage during his deployment.

The photo and accompanying videos are reminiscent of the shocking 2004 photos of torture at the Abu Ghraib prison. But while 15 years ago the White House, Congress and the media made pronouncements deploring the depraved treatment of Iraqi prisoners—while suppressing the bulk of the incriminating photos and covering up for the masterminds of torture such as President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld—today the lead perpetrator of this war crime is praised as a “hero” by the American president.

The military brass and the Times object to Trump’s glorification of Gallagher in large part because it illuminates the fact that the mass murder and destruction carried out in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and other countries targeted by Washington are not the deeds of “bad apples”, but rather crimes of US imperialism.

In an appearance Sunday on ABC News’ “This Week” program, National Security Advisor Robert C. O’Brien defended Trump’s intervention in the Gallagher case. “Ultimately, the president as commander in chief has said that he’s got the back of our men and women in uniform,” O’Brien said. “Look”, he continued, “it’s very troubling that we send folks out that have to make split-second decisions dealing with terrorists… And what the president has said is we’re going to stand behind our warriors.”

The Times report, based on a leak of internal Navy investigative materials, gives a grisly picture of the activities of Gallagher, one of a trio of war criminals who were pardoned by Trump in November.

Gallagher was not making a “split-second decision” when he used his hunting knife to execute a teenage prisoner. He escaped conviction on murder charges only after a dubious military trial in which a medic in his unit unexpectedly took responsibility for the death, after having been given immunity from prosecution. Gallagher was convicted only of posing for a photograph with the body of the victim, a trophy-taking action that is a crime under the Geneva Conventions.

Video recordings of interviews conducted during the investigation into Gallagher by the Navy Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) give a harrowing portrait of his war-zone conduct over a lengthy period. Hardened soldiers and veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan describe their former unit chief as “freaking evil”, “toxic” and “perfectly OK with killing anybody that was moving.” They recount Gallagher killing civilians, including children, and prisoners, culminating in the incident for which he was prosecuted.

The Times was given access to both investigative interviews and thousands of text messages exchanged by many of the 22 members of Alpha Platoon, Seal Team Seven. The scale of the leak demonstrates the widespread opposition within the military brass itself to Trump’s intervention to overturn any administrative punishment of Gallagher, a clear case of illegal “command influence” to rig the outcome of a military judicial proceeding.

Trump stepped in with an order on November 15 that pardoned two Army officers accused of war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, Captain Matt Golsteyn and First Lieutenant Clint Lorance, as well as Gallagher, and reversed the decision of the Navy to penalize Gallagher, who has now retired, by reducing his rank and stripping him of his Seal pin. When Navy Secretary Richard Spencer objected to this interference in the military chain of command, Trump fired him.

Trump’s critics within the ruling elite particularly objected to his statement, in an October tweet announcing that he would review the three war crimes cases, “We train our boys to be killing machines, then prosecute them when they kill!”

They opposed this statement only because it is too bald an admission of the real role of the American military, particularly the tens of thousands of Special Forces troops like the Seals and the Army’s Delta Force, recruited and trained to be ruthless assassins. Prosecutions are extremely rare, and likely to be nonexistent going forward based on the precedent set by Trump.

Trump expects to enlist Gallagher, Golsteyn and Lorance in his reelection campaign. He paraded the war criminals at a campaign donors function’ this month, and Gallagher was photographed with Donald Trump Jr. at the Turning Point USA Student Action Conference, an assemblage of fascist-minded youth addressed by the president on December 21. This is part of his effort to base his reelection on appeals to the most violent and reactionary elements of the state apparatus, including the police, Border Patrol, and military Special Forces, and to fascistic elements and disoriented social layers within the electorate.

Gallagher and his wife Andrea also posed for photos with the president during the visit, and reportedly gave him a gift to express their appreciation for the pardon—a black-and-white flag of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) captured in Mosul, Iraq. The gift certainly symbolized the connection between the war criminal in chief, Donald Trump, and his accomplice and instrument, Gallagher. Mosul was targeted for nonstop bombardment by US artillery, rockets and warplanes, which reduced the city to rubble and killed tens of thousands of people.

Gallagher may be the personification of homicidal violence, an individual for whom killing became an obsession. But Trump took incalculably more innocent lives through his orders as “commander in chief” to destroy cities like Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria.

And Trump is not an aberration. He follows a long series of presidents who could and should have stood trial for war crimes. These include, to name only the most recent, the elder George Bush for the Persian Gulf War and the US invasions of Panama and Somalia; Bill Clinton for military intervention in the former Yugoslavia and bomb and missile attacks on Iraq, Afghanistan and Sudan; Bush junior for the Iraq War and the invasion of Afghanistan; Barack Obama for continuing these wars and launching new attacks in Libya and Syria and drone warfare around the world.

Gallagher too is in no way exceptional. Crimes like his, and even worse, are the hallmark of all imperialist wars of conquest against impoverished and oppressed nations. From the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, to the atrocities at Abu Ghraib in Iraq, to the murder of 16 Afghan civilians by Sergeant Robert Bales in 2012, the US military has demonstrated its capacity for brutality and wanton violence.

These war crimes were carried out on a bipartisan basis, under Democratic and Republican presidents, supported and generally covered up by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress. It is worth pointing out that the House Democrats have not impeached Trump for pardoning war criminals, let alone for ordering mass murder in Iraq and Syria, and in the ongoing drone warfare across North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. They have chosen, instead, to impeach Trump for not sufficiently backing war crimes in Ukraine and undermining the longstanding US operation to arm Ukraine and turn it into a military spearhead against Russia.