Rania Khalek Dispatches from the Underclass

As Democrats grow anxious on their quest to recapture the White House in 2020, there's just a little something they’re not quite wrapping their heads around…

Posted by Soapbox on Wednesday, March 6, 2019


Battle-tested, combat-approved. In other words, 'This weapon has been used to terrorize #Palestinians'

Posted by Soapbox on Thursday, December 27, 2018


Fresh sanctions roll out to "put pressure" on Tehran. THESE are the freaks they want instead.

Posted by Soapbox on Wednesday, October 31, 2018

A big thanks to Al Jazeera’s Listening Post for allowing Max Blumenthal and I a platform to challenge the mainstream narrative about the war in Syria. Check out the segment.

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Hosts Rania Khalek and Kevin Gosztola discuss the rift between Saudi Arabia and Qatar and recent developments among the Gulf countries in the Middle East. They talk about the Saudi arms deal, which the Senate would have successfully opposed if five Democrats had not voted against a bill to block the deal.

Later in the show, Khalek and Gosztola talk about how Bernie Sanders and the movements he is aligned with largely overlook wars perpetrated or backed by the United States. They contrast this dynamic with the success of British political leader Jeremy Corbyn, who frequently makes connections between terrorism and the United Kingdom’s involvement in wars.

The rest of the show is spent on the People’s Summit, which Gosztola attended in Chicago one week ago, and the GOP baseball shooting in Alexandria. On the shooting, the hosts criticize the New York Times for their coverage, which suggested Sanders supporters may bear some responsibility for a former campaign volunteer turning to violence.

To listen to the discussion, click the above player or go here.

If you would like to support the show and help keep us going strong, please become a subscriber on our Patreon page.

Hosts Rania Khalek and Kevin Gosztola welcome journalists Abby Martin and Michael Prysner to the “Unauthorized Disclosure” weekly podcast. They recently took a trip to Venezuela and both have faced threats from parts of the right-wing opposition in the country for their reporting.

Martin and Michael produce the weekly show, “The Empire Files.” During the interview, they highlight the make-up of the opposition in Venezuela. They share details about the violence they witnessed while on the ground.

Both talk about the left-wing Chavism movement’s ability to withstand the opposition. Martin and Prysner speak about the engagement of Venezuelans, especially lower class citizens, in participatory democracy. They outline what is truly going on with private media companies in Venezuela that are sowing chaos. They also address what they believed about the Venezuelan government under President Nicolas Maduro prior to their trip and how their perspectives shifted.

To listen to the discussion, click the above player or go here.

Below are highlights from the interview.

The Violence Of The Opposition

“The country is so heavily divided that really there are mass rallies on either side that are peaceful and jubilant and nonviolent at all. That’s not where these violent confrontations are happening,” Martin said. “The violent confrontations are happening with this smaller contingent called the Guarimbas, which are these huge flaming barricades that are sustained action that are going on every single day and night across different areas, usually in middle and upper class areas.”

Martin added, “The opposition does not denounce the violence, and they also incite the violence and use the violence and the deaths. It’s like this theater of cruelty,” pushed out in order to bolster international support.

Opposition activists “pulled out people from 18-wheelers, stole trucks on the highway, created giant barricades, doused the freeways in gasoline, and this is where a lot of people are dying.”

“When you look at the death toll, at least over half, well over half, were killed directly or indirectly by opposition violence. A lot of things happen at these flaming barricades where people are scrambling frantically trying to move their cars. They run people. They’ve fallen off the freeway,” Martin described.

“As soon as it got dark, I’ve never felt like my life was more in danger because we were very exposed,” Martin further recalled. “We had press jackets on, but at the same time, we knew that if we identified ourselves as Telesur journalists we could get lynched. Because that’s the climate right now.”

“They just call you an infiltrator, and then you get killed. And they deemed many other people as infiltrators. The Chavista that they said, hey, black guy are you a Chavista? And they threw a Molotov cocktail on him. They also beat to death a national guardsmen, who was retired, just for being in the vicinity, thinking he was an infiltrator.”

According to Martin, opposition figures mobbed them and gave instructions to film what the government does but not what is done by the opposition. They pressured Martin and Prysner to film what is done by the government and in return the opposition would protect them.

The Target Of A Viral Campaign Of Intimidation

Martin and Prysner were the targets of a campaign propelled by a high-profile academic in the country and a journalist aggregation account.

The lie, as Martin declared, was that Martin and Prysner were intelligence agents collecting protester photos to turn into the Venezuelan intelligence services. They said people were arrested because of the two journalists’ spying.

Martin said they became the center of a viral fake news campaign, and it was on the front page of newspapers as a result of people trying to incite a mob to lynch us.

Venezuela’s White Helmets

Both saw the “Green Cross Helmets” or the Green Helmets, which seem modeled after the White Helmets in Syria. They appeared to be “super well-funded” and consist primarily of medical students.

Martin and Prysner suspect the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is funding them. A pro-opposition journalist said they were receiving funding from USAID.

Later, Prysner looked up the brand of the helmet they wear. “It’s a $200 helmet,” Prysner said. “There [were] like 40 of them at this demonstration.” The cost of the matching helmets is not cheap, and the helmets are from a company in Australia. The Green Helmets’ other gear is not inexpensive either.

The Supermarket Shortage Claim: Part Of Campaign Of Humiliation

“We went into at least ten supermarkets. The shelves were fully stocked with every goddamn Nestle brand, every paper product—except toilet paper,” Martin shared. “And this is where you get into some weird territory, where there are some huge shortages of particular goods used and hoarded for propaganda purposes, to create this kind of international humiliation campaign.”

Prysner suggested it is clear it is the result of a targeted campaign because specific things are missing from shelves.

“It’s women’s tampons. It’s diapers for newborns. It’s toilet paper. It’s rice. So there are shortages of things that are basic staples,” Prysner stated. “Some of the reason for economic problems like that is the legacy of underdevelopment and colonialism.”

Matt Taibbi’s Goldman Sachs-Venezuela Story For Rolling Stone

Journalist Matt Taibbi published a story for Rolling Stone on what he described as Goldman Sachs’ “bailout” of the Maduro government.

“The real crux of that story is the Venezuelan government is really trying to solve their economic crisis through getting foreign investment,” Prysner asserted. “The opposition is using their power in government to go around and sabotage every type of deal, international investment or loan deal, that the Venezuelan government is able to get.

“If they try to get a loan, if they try to get bonds, if they try to get foreign companies to come invest Venezuela, the opposition follows right behind them and says don’t do this. Cancel this deal. So, this Goldman Sachs deal is just Venezuela trying to bring money into the country, and then the opposition is turning it into something else because they want to bankrupt the country.”

The Venezuelan opposition would like to plunge the country further into chaos, win power, and then allow financial corporations to take over.

“You can’t look at Venezuela without acknowledging the complete manipulation of the currency,” Martin contended. “The biggest problem with the economy is over 90% of the economy depend on oil. A huge problem that Chavez did was not diversify the economy enough.”

Prysner concluded, “The opposition is pretty weak in the country. They won the national assembly election recently, but they hadn’t done that ever. And it’s under the most advantageous conditions for them, an incumbent administration under a severe economic crisis. The fact that they’re pushing things so far, escalating violence to such a high level, is because they believe they have the political support of the United States.”

*For the full interview with Abby Martin and Michael Prysner, go here.

If you would like to support the show and help keep us going strong, please become a subscriber on our Patreon page.

Hosts Rania Khalek and Kevin Gosztola spend the full episode discussing President Donald Trump’s attack on a Syrian airbase.

In the beginning, the reaction of support from media personalities, as well as Democrats and neoconservatives, is highlighted.

Further into the show, the hosts break down who the media has referred to as sources for information on what happened in the alleged chemical attack, which led Trump to escalate U.S. military action. The hosts also discuss the left’s response to the strike and what the attack may mean for the Syrian conflict.

“On cable news and all the establishment outlets, it’s like the line is there’s no dissent whatsoever. There’s no questioning anything,” Khalek suggests. “It’s [Syrian President Bashar al Assad] used chemical weapons. This is what happened, and now we have to bomb Syria. No questions asked. Meanwhile, online, like on Facebook and Twitter, it’s like the complete opposite.”

“Idlib, which is the province in Syria where this attack occurred, it is an area that is under the control of armed groups that are either al Qaida or affiliates of al Qaida,” Khalek adds. “The village in particular that was hit with this alleged chemical weapons attack, it’s under the control of Ahrar al Sham, which is one of the most prominent and extremist groups in Syria.”

“They are like the Taliban. They impose harsh Islamic law. They kill aid workers. They kill journalists. They kill activists. There is no independent information coming out of these areas at all. All of it is under the control and needs the approval of these armed groups that are in control. So, all of the information that you are getting out of these areas, whether it is from the White Helmets or whether it looks like it’s from what they like to call themselves media activists, that information does not come out without the input of these al Qaida-linked rebel groups.”

As Khalek emphasizes, it is not just the Syrian government that lies. The al Qaida-linked rebel groups lie too. That means the public has to question everything to a far greater extent than the media is currently.

To listen to the full discussion, click the above player or go here.