Author: ben-norton

Ben Norton is a journalist and writer. He is a reporter for The Grayzone, and the producer of the Moderate Rebels podcast, which he co-hosts with Max Blumenthal. His website is BenNorton.com, and he tweets at @BenjaminNorton.

Every Single Member of US Congress Approved Crushing Sanctions on Nicaragua

After defeating a violent US-backed coup attempt, Nicaragua’s elected government faces the NICA Act. The bill aims to force the Sandinistas from power by ratcheting up economic despair.

By Ben Norton

Every single member in both chambers of the US Congress approved legislation that will impose sanctions and financial restrictions on Nicaragua in an explicit effort to weaken its government.

Known as the NICA Act, the bill is now on its way to the desk of President Donald Trump, who will almost certainly sign it into law. Its passage was spearheaded by neoconservative lawmakers centered around the Miami lobby of right-wing Latin American exiles dedicated to eradicating any iteration of socialism in the Western hemisphere.

The United States has spent decades trying to topple Nicaragua’s government, now led by the left-wing Sandinista movement. In April, US-backed opposition figures launched an unsuccessful and exceedingly violent coup attempt in the Central American country — one of the last bastions of leftist politics in an increasingly right-leaning Latin America.

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NATO-Backed Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko Poses with Pro-Nazi Soldier

Ukraine President Poroshenko promoted a photo of himself posing next to a soldier wearing a Nazi SS totenkopf patch.

By Ben Norton

Petro Poroshenko, the staunchly pro-NATO president of Western ally Ukraine, posed for a photo op with a soldier wearing a Nazi symbol.

On December 6, the Ukrainian billionaire oligarch leader posted a photo on multiple social media accounts that shows him standing with armed troops. One of these Ukrainian soldiers is wearing a patch with a skull-and-bones design called the totenkopf. This is a symbol closely associated with Nazi Germany, and specifically the Third Reich’s genocidal paramilitary the Schutzstaffel  (SS).

This photo op came while Poroshenko is imposing martial law and requesting a NATO military buildup in the Black Sea.

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At elite gala with ex-Bush official, Obama implores Wall Street to thank him for making them so much money

“Just say thank you, please,” former President Obama told a room full of bankers, and boasted of making the US the world’s largest oil producer at an opulent gala with James Baker.

By Ben Norton

Barack Obama urged bankers to thank him for helping make them so much money during his tenure as president. He also boasted of turning the US into the world’s largest oil producer, while surrounded by wealthy Republicans in tuxedos.

Obama made these appeals for elite adulation at a lavish gala hosted by former Secretary of State James Baker. His comments came just a few hours after he met with former Republican President George H. W. Bush at his home in Texas.

If there was any single event that captured Obama’s centrist, neoliberal capitalist politics, it was the former Democratic president’s oligarch lovefest in Houston on November 27.

At this sumptuous black-tie gala, Obama talked the 1,100 elite guests into raising a staggering $5.4 million, in just one night (at an average donation of nearly $5,000), for Rice University’s centrist, pro-corporate Baker Institute for Public Policy, the honorary chair of which is James Baker.

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Violent Ukrainian Neo-Nazi Speaks at US Govt Org, Helps Kiev Police ‘Purge’ Roma

An activist from violent Ukrainian neo-Nazi gang C14 spoke at the US government’s America House Kyiv, and worked with Kiev police to “purge” Roma citizens.

By Ben Norton

A prominent activist from the violent Ukrainian neo-Nazi gang C14 spoke at an event at a US government organization in Ukraine‘s capital Kiev.

This young fascist leader has also boasted of working with Kiev police to “purge” Roma citizens from a train station, according to a Ukrainian human rights organization.

The Grayzone Project has previously reported on how the US government has armed the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion, which is embedded in Ukraine’s National Guard, and which has met with US military advisers.

C14 is even more notorious than Azov. This Nazi gang has carried out a slew of violent attacks on ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities in Ukraine. C14, whose name is a direct reference to the white supremacist “14 words” slogan, has specifically targeted Roma communities in a series of pogroms — and has enjoyed the help of local cops.

C14 has also received funding from the Ukrainian government, in the form of a Ministry of Youth and Sport grant for “national-patriotic education projects.”

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Saudi Arabia Kills Yemeni Civilians with Another US-Made Raytheon Bomb

Saudi Arabia attacked Yemenis in Hodeidah with a laser-guided bomb made by US military contractor Raytheon, as a civilian is killed every three hours on average.

By Ben Norton

A bomb used by Saudi Arabia to attack civilians in Yemen has been identified as a US-made laser-guided bomb manufactured by military contractor Raytheon.

The deaths — the latest in a long pattern of Saudi bombings of Yemeni civilians with US-made weapons — came amid reports that fighting kills one Yemeni civilian every three hours, on average, in the US-backed Saudi and Emirati war on their country.

On October 24, US-supported Saudi forces launched a series of airstrikes on the major Yemeni port city of Hodeidah.

One of these airstrikes struck several cars in the city, reportedly killing three civilians, including a child.

Local journalist Hussain Albukhaiti published a photo of a bomb fragment recovered at the scene of the airstrike:

The bomb fragment has text written in English, which indicates that it was manufactured in the United States. The CAGE code on the fragment, 96214, clearly identifies it as a part made by Raytheon.

Analysts on social media traced the serial code on the fragment, and found it to be part of the wing assembly from a GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bomb.

The text says it was made “for use on MK82” — a reference to the unguided Mark 82 bomb designed by US military contractor General Dynamics. The GBU-12, which is manufactured by both Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, is based on the Mk 82, but is guided and has additional parts.

yemen hodeidah us raytheon bomb
A fragment from a US-made Raytheon GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bomb, used by Saudi Arabia in Hodeidah, Yemen (Credit: Hussain Albukhaiti)

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Imperial-Hipster Bible VICE Did Paid Propaganda for Saudi Arabia

Hipster media giant VICE worked with Saudi Arabia’s regime mouthpiece SRMG to create a video promoting tourism and a camel festival.

By Ben Norton

The hipster corporate media giant VICE did paid propaganda for Saudi Arabia, according to a British report on Saudi astroturf efforts.

Jim Waterson, the media editor for The Guardian, reported that VICE has worked with a soft-power arm of the Saudi royal family to generate public relations material for Saudi Arabia.

According to internal VICE sources contacted by The Guardian, the Brooklyn-based media company assembled a team to make pro-Saudi content in collaboration with the Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG), a regime mouthpiece that is closely linked to the royal family.

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Human Rights Watch (HRW) Praises Extreme War Hawk John McCain

Human Rights Watch (HRW) praised the extreme war hawk John McCain, while it has refused to oppose US military intervention in numerous countries.

By Ben Norton

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Big Tech Corporations Are Now Banning Iranian Social Media Accounts – A Censored Student Journalist Speaks out

Google, Facebook, and Twitter are removing social media accounts of real life Iranians who are falsely dubbed as “government trolls.” Student journalist Sayed Mousavi warns “this is just the tip of an iceberg.”

By Ben Norton

Under apparent government pressure, big tech corporations in the United States have tightened their social media grip, censoring accounts that criticize the US government and its allies.

Under the spell of Russiagate hysteria promoted incessantly by the US government and corporate media, social media accounts that were identified by shady private cybersecurity firms as supposed “Russian trolls” were targeted first. Then pro-Venezuelan government websites like the state-funded media outlet TeleSUR English and even the independent Venezuela Analysis had their Facebook pages temporarily removed.

Now Silicon Valley has set its sights on Iran. While the Donald Trump administration is banning Iranians from traveling and imposing suffocating sanctions on their country, Big Tech is banning them from using social media.

Google (which owns YouTube), Facebook (which owns Instagram), and Twitter have removed hundreds of Iranian social media accounts that have been accused — without any evidence — of being linked to the government in Tehran. These suspensions were based on a questionable, thinly sourced report by the American cybersecurity firm FireEye, which is led by former US military officers.

But contrary to what numerous corporate media reports are claiming, some of the Iranian accounts being banned are in fact not operated by the government. In fact, many are average Iranians whose opinions do not fit into the tightly managed, pro-war Washington consensus.

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No, the UN Did Not Report China Has ‘Massive Internment Camps’ for Uighur Muslims

Media outlets from Reuters to The Intercept falsely claimed the UN had condemned China for holding a million Uighurs in camps. The claim is based on unsourced allegations by two independent commission members, US-funded outfits and a shadowy opposition group.

By Ben Norton and Ajit Singh

Numerous major media outlets, from Reuters to The Intercept, have claimed that the United Nations has reports that the Chinese government is holding as many as 1 million Uighur Muslims in “internment camps.” But a close examination of these news stories, and of the evidence behind them — or the lack thereof — demonstrates that the extraordinary claim is simply not true.

A spokesperson from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) confirmed in a statement to the Grayzone that the allegation of Chinese “camps” was not made by the United Nations, but rather by a member of an independent committee that does not speak for the UN as a whole. That member happened to be the only American on the committee, and one with no background of scholarship or research on China.

Moreover, this accusation is based on the thinly sourced reports of a Chinese opposition group that receives funding from foreign governments and is closely tied to exiled pro-US activists. There have been numerous reports of discrimination against Uighur Muslims in China. However, information about camps containing one million prisoners has originated almost exclusively from media outlets and organizations funded and weaponized by the American government to turn up the heat on Beijing.

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Ukraine Attacks Journalists Who Reported Israeli Weapons Flow to Its Neo-Nazi Militia

Ukraine’s embassy in Israel attacked Grayzone editor Max Blumenthal by name, along with The Real News and Electronic Intifada, spreading false accusations after they reported on Ukrainian neo-Nazis using Israeli weapons.

By Ben Norton

Ukraine’s embassy in Israel has attacked Grayzone editor Max Blumenthal by name and indirectly implicated this writer, Grayzone contributor Ben Norton, for reporting on Israel’s arming of Ukrainian neo-Nazis.

While the Ukrainian government has falsely accused us of spreading “fake news,” it has ironically spread fake news itself, incorrectly alleging that Blumenthal has been writing under the pseudonym “John Brown” — based on a “quick search on the internet.”

The Ukrainian government has also denied that Israel has armed Ukraine’s neo-Nazi militia the Azov battalion, even after Azov posted a video on its own YouTube channel showing it using unmistakably Israeli weapons.

On June 10, the Ukrainian embassy in Israel published an open letter to Aluf Benn, the editor-in-chief of the major Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Kiev condemned Haaretz for publishing a June 9 news report titled “Rights Groups Demand Israel Stop Arming neo-Nazis in Ukraine.”

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