Jeffrey Epstein found dead in New York jail

Prolific financier and alleged child sex-ring kingpin, Jeffrey Epstein, has been found dead in prison before his trial on sex trafficking charges.

Epstein’s body was discovered at 11:30 GMT on Saturday, and is believed to have been found hanged.

Last month, Jeffrey Epstein was found almost unconscious in his jail cell with injuries to his neck, prompting him to be put on suicide watch.

The businessman’s death eliminates the chances of a formal and public trial taking place for Jeffrey Epstein, and calls into question whether much of the evidence collected by law enforcement will ever be released to the public.

The 66-year old hedge fund manager was held in a New York jail pending his trial, where he is accused of abusing dozens of underage girls in two of his American properties.

It is also alleged that these crimes formed part of a child trafficking outfit ran by Epstein that provided similar illegal services to high profile figures across the world.

It was found earlier this year that the well-known businessman, who has several connections with government figures across the Western World, had organized a child sex trafficking ring for rich pedophiles.

When American Law Enforcement stormed Epstein’s New York properties, they found a large number of images of child pornography, including nude photographs of what looked like underage women.

Epstein was known to socialise with notable celebrities and political figures such as Prince Andrew, a ‘well known’ Prime minister, Donald Trump, and the Clinton family.

The news comes a day after newly released court documents implicate Prince Andrew, the son of the Queen of the United Kingdom, and his girlfriend in the trafficking ring.

The documents provided photographic proof of Prince Andrew and his girlfriend were in one of Epstein’s London properties with a young underage American national at the time, who served as a witness to the current trial.

The witness, Virginia Giuffre, alleged that Epstein coerced her into travelling to London under the guise of a legitimate job to perform sex acts for prince Andrew.

The royal household called the allegations “false and without any foundation” and denied that the Duke of York had any sexual contact with the witness.

AROUND THE WORLD: Armed Americans Arrested In Haiti As Violence Grips The Nation

As anti-government protests rage on in Haiti, 5 American military veterans reportedly in possession of automatic weapons, pistols, satellite phones and drones have been arrested.

The revelation is striking within the context of anti-corruption protests that have gripped the nation, leaving multiple people dead. The protests have targeted President Jovenel Moise who stands accused of misappropriating development loans made by Venezuela to Haiti after 2008. He has allegedly done this whilst 60% of the population live on less than $2 (£1.53) a day.

Yet the protests also are reported to have had a distinct anti-American imperialist shade. Flags of the United States have been burned in the streets and protesters have alleged that Moise is a puppet of Washington. Head of the protest group Bronson told reporters, “We would like to declare a complete split-up with the US, we are fed up with the American occupation, we can’t tolerate it anymore”

The claims and qualms of the Haitian demonstrators do have credence and not just from the revelation that there are armed Americans on the island. In 2004 right wing paramilitaries, trained by the United States military, overthrew liberation theologian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in a brutal and bloody coup. The coup was led by head death squad director Guy Phillipe who is currently imprisoned after being found guilty of taking bribes from drug smugglers.

US meddling in Haiti is however, nothing new. The US, albeit slightly begrudgingly, backed and financially supported the despotic regime of François “Papa Doc” Duvalier who acted as a viscous bulwark against communism. The tyrant made clear his anti communist credentials stating…

“Communism has established centres of infection . . . No area in the world is as vital to American security as the Caribbean . . . We need a massive injection of money to reset the country on its feet, and this injection can come only from our great, capable friend and neighbour the United States.”

Papa Doc embarked on this anti-communist crusade through the use of the notoriously heinous murder squad known as the Tonton Macoute, which has a near mythical presence due to their directorship from Vodou leaders. It is believed that 60,000 Haitians were murdered in acts of state terror that received financial support from the US. The extermination squad became infamous for their public displays of their murdered victims as a warning to Haitian society.

Intervention by the American war machine goes back even further than the regime of Papa Doc. From 1915 to 1934, US military forces occupied Haiti fearing that anti-American sentiment in the country endangered US economic imperial interests, especially the Haitian American Sugar Company. US president Woodrow Wilson, who ironically made a famous speech listing the right to self-determination as an essential term for peace, wished to destroy the Haitian constitution and replace it with one that guaranteed American financial control.

America, it seems, has always had a vested interest in Haiti. It is highly unlikely with the current instability that the US would refrain from involvement in the nations politics. The discovery of armed white foreigners in a different land harks back to the plots of neo-fascists in the 1980 Bolivian Cocaine Coup, the 1981 “Bayou of Pigs” Operation Red Dog and the 1994 Bophuthatswana crisis. With protests showing no signs of stopping and anti-American sentiment gaining traction, the meddling of the American Empire in Haitian affairs cannot be discounted. For history has shown that the US is ingrained in the very roots of Haitian politics.

Sam Glasper is TPN’s foreign affairs commentator and studies at Manchester Metropolitain University.

The Oil Rush: Venezuela vs. Saudi Arabia

In today’s corporate-focused world, black is the new yellow, oil is the new gold. To have this asset can prove to be either a gift or a curse for oil-rich countries. For example, Saudi Arabia has turned great profits while countries like Iraq paid the heavy price of a US invasion and damaging aftermath. While oil is typically thought to be abundant in countries like Saudi Arabia, there is a country closer to the United States which wears the golden crown in the oil industry but is unwilling to share its jewels with the US. In 2013, the EIA reported that Venezuela has 297.6 billion barrels of oil with Saudi Arabia closely behind with 267.91 billion barrels. 

What is the difference between Venezuela and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia? One country enjoys a cosy relationship with the United States while the other refuses to bow to US interests. Before Hugo Chávez won the 1998 Venezuelan election, Venezuela was an example of a prosperous country (under capitalist standards). While Venezuela was portrayed as a booming country, the reality was that it was a tale of two cities; mass inequality existed between the upper and working classes. It was not until Chávez took leadership that inequality decreased dramatically and many industries (including the Venezuelan oil industry) was nationalised. This, of course, struck a chord with the US who had interests in the country which were being threatened by the radical move. Because of this anti-imperialist jab, the US thought they’d hit back with a huge blow to Chávez; they used the oldest trick in the corporatist book and that was to stage a coup and prop up a pro-US leader. In 2002 the middle classes took to the streets of Venezuela and forced Chávez to stand down which of course he did- only to return to power two days later. The Bush administration denied being involved in the coup which of course is very true because corporate America is very honest and transparent when it comes to these matters. 

When Hugo Chávez lost the battle to cancer in 2013, the responsibility of leading the South American nation was put on his close associate, Nicolás Maduro (who is often revered as the second death of Hugo Chavez due to the fact that the crisis which began at the end of Chávez’s administration became worse under his watch). Under Maduro’s leadership, food and medicine shortages worsened as did starvation hence the exodus of Venezuelans from the country. However, one cannot put the entire blame on Maduro and Chavez for the crisis; sanctions imposed by the USA have also played a huge part in the crisis. In the hopes of getting out the country out of the swamp, Nicolás Maduro tried to use one of the easiest tricks in the book and that was printing money which only backfired.  And this is where Juan Guaidó comes in to save the day, or so the US and their allies want you to think.

Juan Guaidó, the leader of the “Voluntad Popular” party (“Popular Will” in English), declares himself interim president of Venezuela which received mixed reactions from all parts of the world. The United States, Colombia and Brazil unsurprisingly recognise Guaido as the president without hesitation while Russia, Cuba and Turkey show support for Maduro. Uruguay has decided to stay neutral and called for negotiations and new elections. 

While this may seem like a revolution which will lead to freedom and democracy for the Venezuelan people, those who have lived long enough or have read the history of US interventions in Latin and South America would know all too well that US interventions prove to be disastrous for the working people and only beneficial to the corporatist businessmen. If you want to see truly how disastrous US intervention has been just look at Chile 1973 when the democratically elected Salvador Allende was overthrown in a coup and replaced with the fascist dictator Augusto Pinochet, all due to the fact that Allende nationalised the copper industry (which was big business for the USA in Chile at the time). The US preaches of bringing democracy and human rights to the countries they interfere in whether it be through a coup or actual military action however Pinochet was notorious for his human rights abuses. This is the leader who used rape as a torture method for women. So if the US has propped up despicable dictators in the past, how is Venezuela any different? How is Juan Guaidó going to be good for the working classes of Venezuela? The answer is, he is not. He is not being put in power to serve the Venezuelan people, he is being put into power to serve the line of oil companies wanting access to the country’s oil.

The 2002 coup against Chávez is not the only piece of hard evidence to suggest that the US has been itching to interfere in the South American nation, John Bolton expressed that a regime change would be “a major step forward”. Nikki Haley (the former US ambassador to the UN) congratulated the election victory of Jair Bolsonaro and expressed how Brazil would be useful in “the fight against dictatorships in Venezuela and Cuba” as well as against “China’s expanding influence in the region”.

Due to sour relations with the United States during the Chávez era, Venezuela has aligned itself with the United States’ biggest enemies, Russia and China (after all the enemy of your enemy is your friend). Russia and Venezuela have a good relationship especially when it comes to the military and weapons. Hugo Chávez signed a $2.9bn arms deal in exchange for Russian fighter aircraft which allowed the Kremlin to buy Venezuelan oil assets at a cheaper price. China gave $70bn to Venezuela for development projects which Maduro still owes $13bn of. In exchange for this, China has imported crude oil from Venezuela. Meanwhile, the US has been shut out of Venezuela’s oil business after the country stopped accepting US dollars as payment, in response to US sanctions. Given that Brazil and Colombia have shown opposition to the Maduro regime and do share borders with Venezuela, it is no surprise that they would play some part in US intervention (after all Colombia was accused of being behind the drone attack which was thought to be an attempt on Maduro’s life). So it seems as if the US has backed Venezuela into a corner hence making it easier to interfere. If the regime survives a coup, it is possible that the next step the USA would take is a military intervention which will be calamitous.

Nicolás Maduro is not exactly an angel, he has shown no regard for human rights and his election victory in 2018 was shut down by many due to rigging. However Juan Guaidó is not a saviour or a messiah for the Venezuelan people either, he has not been elected by the Venezuelan people and was relatively unknown until he became the leader of the opposition party just over a month ago. The basis of Guaidó using an illegitimate election to declare himself president is actually unconstitutional as Article 233 of the Venezuelan Constitution does not include fraudulent or illegitimate elections as a basis in which a person can declare themselves as president. To further support this, the UN independent expert who is responsible for promoting democratic and inequitable international order, (Alfred de Zayas) tweeted that Article 233 cannot be manipulated to justify Guaidó’s self-declaration and that ” a coup is a coup”. It is also important to take into account that a majority of the opposition parties in Venezuela disagree with Juan Guaidó self swearing. 

So Venezuela is stuck in between a rock and a hard place. How can the country come to a resolution? Well, the most sensible thing is there to be negotiations between Maduro and the opposition parties in order to reach a solution. New elections must be called, this time free and fair so the Venezuelan people can truly decide their own destiny instead of a handful of oil corporatists. A US-backed coup will be catastrophic for Venezuela regardless of whether it succeeds or fails. A failed coup attempt may embolden Maduro to become more dictatorial in order to keep his position or worst of all it could lead to a civil war. A successful coup attempt may cause pro-Maduro rebels to rebel which may escalate to a civil war. It is possible that Juan Guaidó may become dictatorial and will be worse for the Venezuelan people than Maduro (as seen in the past with US-backed leaders). We, the world cannot witness another catastrophic coup or civil war. We cannot allow Venezuela to become the Syria or the Libya of South America and we cannot allow US imperialism to win. To support a regime change is to support corporatism. To support a corporatist democracy goes against everything that constitutes a Democrat. The world must stand in solidarity with the Venezuelan people.

AROUND THE WORLD: Venezuelan President Maduro Claims the KKK Rule The White House, Here’s Why He’s Right

In a BBC interview held this week, president Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela claimed that Donald Trump is an open white supremacist and that the Ku Klux Klan run the White House. When he made this claim, he seemed rather bemused that he had to explain this to interviewer Orla Guerin. Indeed, when you look at the bloody history of ingrained white supremacy of the United States, Maduro’s claims are not as controversial as they first appear.

An exploration of American fascism has already been touched upon in an earlier TPN article, but with Yankee chauvinism at yet another staggering high under Trump, the need to analyse the violent white supremacist nature of American exceptionalism has become vital.

Klanist thought has remained dominant in domestic American affairs. Proof of this can be found in the continued discrimination of black people in the United States. Old Jim Crow habits reared their heads in last years mid terms where, in Georgia, 50,000 mostly black votes became invalidated. Before the November election, Secretary of State Brian Kemp was sued for having found to be suppressing minority votes. The events are a reminder of America’s draconian voting laws that have, seemingly in certain areas, not moved on since the literacy tests of Jim Crow.

Whilst the KKK have died off as America’s dominant white supremacist paramilitary, their practices can still be found today in America’s heavily militarised policed force. The past few years have seen multiple controversial shootings of African Americans in the US, which has been followed by a lack of accountability or conviction of offending officers. Recent shootings and lack of prosecution are reminiscent of the era of Jim Crow where alleged murderers of black people would regularly be found not guilty by all-white juries. This issue is deep seated in the American justice system. Even today, all white juries and their allegedly racially biased decision making have remained prevalent. An earlier TPN article has outlined how US police assassinated Black Panthers and collaborated with Neo-Nazis to commit appalling acts of mass murder with impunity. Clearly domestically, Maduro’s claims of an America dominated by Ku Kluxism rings true.

Trumps own white supremacy has been examined in another TPN article, but whilst his far right flirtations (enabling of fascist violence of Charlottesville and sharing of Britain First Islamophobic posts) need to be showcased, they are hardly anything new. The United States was built on the idea of Manifest Destiny, an imperialist notion that holds that the US was destined by God to expand its dominion and spread capitalism. It is the very foundation of American fascist exceptionalism and its widespread propagation that directly led to the genocide of America’s indigenous populations.

Maduro’s claims are most evident in the blood-soaked history of American foreign policy. This is where it becomes obvious where Maduro’s thinking, with regards to the current coup in Venezuela, comes from. In Chile, the CIA (whilst “making the economy scream”) backed the neo-fascist Fatherland and Liberty Nationalist Front paramilitary group in an attempting to sabotage the democratically elected socialist Allende government. In Bolivia, the US forces used the “Butcher of Lyon” and Gestapo functionary Klaus Barbie to track down and execute Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara. In Indonesia, the US embassy handed out lists of suspected communists to far right death squads who embarked on the genocide of over half a million people. And in perhaps the most staggering and shady example, the US heavily participated in NATO stay behind operations in Italy and Turkey. Operation Gladio, as it was known, led to the Strategy of Tension model where US backed neo-fascist terrorists who would commit disgusting acts of terror and blame them on radical left groups.

The list of examples of American support for foreign fascists is endless. Even recently, as detailed in a TPN article, it was discovered that American Nazi riot participants had been trained by Ukrainian Nazis whom have previously found themselves in possession of Pentagon weapons and used them to commit pogroms against Ukraine’s Roma population. The history of homicidal white supremacy is astounding and supports Maduro’s claims to the utmost extent.

With all this in mind it should hardly be surprising that there is truth to Maduro’s claims, which no doubt seem outlandish to the naive supporters of American “democracy”. The useful idiots and stooges of US imperialism should note America’s viscous white supremacy when it comes to the coup in Venezuela. The coup is being partly directed by Elliot Abrams who is currently being questioned by Congress over the role he played in propagating and covering up the El Mozoto massacre which featured the mass rape and murder of children as young as two, as outlined in a previous TPN piece.

Whilst it first may seem spurious to claim that the United States (which is allegedly the bastion of democracy around the globe) is run by the Klan, the practices and thought processes of American elites from the foreign policy propagators to the CIA, police, and justice system all point to a narrative that the US is gripped by an ideology of Klan-like white supremacy. As of today, this very grip seems all the more vice-like and unshakeable.

Sam Glasper is TPN’s foreign affairs correspondent and studies Politics at Manchester Metropolitain University.

The Hidden Reason Behind Trump’s Intervention in Venezuela

In today’s corporatist world, black is the new yellow, oil is the new gold. For many countries with this asset, it can prove to be both a gift and a curse. Countries like Saudi Arabia have enjoyed the fruits of their labour and a cosy relationship with the United States while countries like Iraq paid the damaging cost of it when the US-led coalition invaded the land and left it unstable and poverty-stricken. However, it seems as if the United States’ corporatist eye for oil isn’t always towards the oil-rich Middle Eastern lands but the country downstairs. This country is Venezuela and it has the largest oil reserves in the world. Yes, the world. Yes, even larger than Saudi Arabia.

Before Hugo Chavez took leadership of the South American country, it had enjoyed an intimate bond with the US who enjoyed bathing in its oil however relations turn from sweet to sour when Chavez began rebelling against the US by forming relations with leaders such as Saddam Hussein and Muammar Al Gathafi. What acted as the last straw for America was when the Venezuelan leader has appointed a prominent position in Venezuela’s national oil company (PDVSA) which threatened oil corporate interests. This was followed by a coup attempt against the Chavez government which the Bush administration denied of being behind, which is rather believable because corporatist America is the most truthful when it comes to foreign affairs, right? 

Even though Venezuela prospered under most of Hugo Chavez’s leadership and was no longer an epitome of “A Tale of Two Cities”, the country’s economy went into crisis mode in 2010 in which the leader declared “economic war” due to severe shortages of resources such as food. Nicolas Maduro inherited this economic illness when he took power in 2013 after Chavez lost his battle to cancer. The crisis only intensified under Maduro’s leadership and continues to do so every day with mass food shortages, starvation and an exodus of Venezuelan people from the poverty-stricken country. Even though there were some flaws in both Hugo Chavez’ and Nicolas Maduro’s leadership and approach to the economic crisis, the 2015 US sanctions have played a huge role in Venezuela we see today on the news. In other words, the US corporatist boot stomped on and continues to stomp on a country already suffering tremendously.

As the world has watched on the news, Juan Guaido, leader of the “Voluntad Popular” has risen to popularity in the mainstream media and has gained the support of many right-wing Hispanic governments, the United States (unsurprisingly) and the E.U after declaring himself president. However, something seems a little bit fishy about this all. Guaido has only been the leader of the opposition for about a month; the Venezuelan elections occurred in May 2018 in which Guiado did not even run as a presidential candidate. The Trump administration was quick to support him and recognise him as the President of Venezuela as well as pushing for a regime change. Many people pushing for a regime change are doing so with the guise of bringing democracy to Venezuela which is rather laughable because Juan Guaido was never elected by the Venezuelan people in an election, he was crowd surfed onto the stage by foreign governments. How is this just as democratic as Maduro winning an election through corruption? It is not, placing Guaido in power in this manner is simply sugar coating dictatorship.

This is not bringing democracy and human rights to Venezuela, this is the United States meddling in South America (again).

 

 

How poverty and addiction intersect in the U.S.

It is often said that addiction doesn’t discriminate. Data from numerous sources informs us that addiction can affect anyone, regardless of their class, gender, race, or occupation. While this sentiment may be true, it’s also clear that addressing addiction is far more difficult when you’re poor.

Perhaps the greatest example of this lies in observing conditions in the United States, where income inequality is rampant and addiction has been declared a public health crisis. States across the country are particularly concerned about an emerging opioid crisis, and a lack of infrastructure to help those most affected. Instead, criminalizing illicit activity remains the default, despite evidence that suggests that criminalization simply doesn’t work.

The crisis has been caused by several factors, and while doctors and pharmaceutical companies are working together with Federal lawmakers, drug enforcement, and recovery programs to mitigate them, the number of individuals struggling with addiction continue to rise.

So how does this opioid crisis — a crisis that does not discriminate by ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or economic status — intersect with poverty? To truly understand and address the nature of this public health crisis, it is necessary to understand the cycle of poverty and how socioeconomic challenges can prevent an individual from overcoming addiction.

First, it’s important to understand that there is historical precedence to this issue. After all, this epidemic isn’t new. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, America faced a similar crisis when addiction to crack cocaine rose to prominence in Black communities. At the time, this community was facing high rates of unemployment, due in part to a decline in manufacturing jobs and their racially discriminatory hiring and firing practices.

Today, many Americans find themselves facing similar sets of extenuating circumstances.

“White America today looks economically a lot more like Black America in the 1990s: stable well-paying jobs are disappearing, replaced by lower-wage positions with far more uncertainty,” writes The Guardian’s Maia Szalavitz. “Criminalizing drug use, while proven not to work, remains the default.”

It’s these socioeconomic challenges that make overcoming addiction difficult, and only add to the public health crisis that has emerged since then.

“Though advocates like to claim that addiction is an equal opportunity destroyer,” Szalavitz continues, “in reality, it is far less likely to hit people who have stable, structured lives and decent employment than it is those whose lives are marked by uncertainty and lack of work.”

When the economy is stable, the middle class is flourishing, and economic inequality is addressed, addiction rates typically decline. But when unemployment rates rise, the job market is unstable, and income inequality is prevalent, more people find themselves at risk for drug addiction and their chances of overcoming these obstacles drastically declines. Given the nature of cyclical poverty, this is even more true, and there is abundant data to prove it.

According to research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heroin addiction is three times as common among individuals who make less than $20,000 per year when compared to populations that make ovr $50,000 per year. The study also notes that those who have obtained a higher educational status are less likely to become or succumb to addiction.

Furthermore, research indicates that those who live in socioeconomically balanced societies are far less likely to use and abuse drugs and other harmful substances. Societies like the U.S. and the UK, where there are large discrepancies between the wealthy and impoverished have much higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse.

In addition, there is a large pool of data that suggests that addiction rate among those who are unemployed are twice as high when compared to individuals who have jobs. While some may argue that this indicates that addiction was the reason for job loss, research actually confirms that in many cases unemployment tends to predate addiction.

Regardless of the timeline in which addiction occurs, it’s clear that access to a stable income is important, and those without gainful employment have a far more difficult time accessing treatment from mental healthcare professionals.

When decent jobs are available and people have access to a living wage, recovery from addiction becomes far more accessible.

If the U.S. truly wants to help individuals suffering from addictions, policy makers and healthcare leaders will have to look more closely at what drives people to abuse substances in the first place. Although the reasons for this are plentiful, it’s clear that wealth and income inequality cannot be ignored any longer.

US firms announce that they want relaxed regulations in return for trade deal, including the use of chemicals in beef.

As expected, US firms have announced that they will seek to lower health standards and relax regulations in order to secure a trade deal with the country across the pond. The meat-lobby wants the sale of growth hormone-fed beef, which is currently banned in the U.K. under EU regulations.

There are particularly concerning developments within farming groups that advocate a move away from EU standards, including rules governing genetically modified crops, antibiotics in meats, and pesticides.

The BBC reported that, the pressure does not stop there, and the lobby group’s priorities were outlined in more than 130 comments submitted to the office of US Trade Representative.

Though a trade deal is likely to depend on our future relationship with Europe which is likely to be left to Theresa May’s successor. The legal document says that the future trading relationship will be negotiated in the coming years. Though as Macron and Merkel have both alluded to, a closer trading relationship will mean abiding to European standards, with an emphasis on the fact that the U.K. should not undercut European regulations, be that on tax, the environment or food standards.

It is such differences in culture and values that have prevented the U.S. and the EU on negotiating a comprehensive trade deal thus far in history.

It should be noted that an undercover investigation in Poland has revealed significant flaws in Environmental standards in the EU. Where cows were seen to be in awful conditions without necessary checks, and because of the way that the customs union and single market work, checks will not have taken place, which is a significant worry as Poland exports 80% of its beef. Though the EU response has been effective, with a comprehensive review of Polish agriculture underway with the cooperation of many EU states to resolve the issue.

Those that warned of what would happen and what would be at stake when we prioritised a trade deal with the U.S. over our continued membership with the European Union, were cited as being members of the project fear brigade. Where are those Brexiteers now?

Analysis by Deputy Editor in Chief – Seb Chromiak

Ask yourself if this is what you voted for, more importantly, is this what Brexit voters voted for? Did you vote for the quality of your beef to be lowered and be injected with chemicals and other atrocities? Or did you value the regulations that were enforced by the EU on a 28 country-scale?

In Brexit utopia, this was always the vision that Brexiteers had for the country, to lower standards in order to appease those across the pond. Your welfare is not a priority. Though, there is still time to change the course of direction, with heavy influence from the ERG, it is little wonder that environmentalists are predicting that the U.K. will cosy up to those across the pond. A closer economic relationship with the EU will also maintain regulations and rights, neoliberals will call it red tape, when in fact it should be our red lines.