• All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.

  • I.F. Stone

vrijdag 28 april 2017


Putin’s New World Order

Is Vladimir Putin the most popular Russian leader of all time?
It certainly looks like it. In a recent survey conducted by the All-Russia Public Opinion Research Center,  Putin’s public approval rating soared to an eye-popping 86 percent, which is twice that of Obama’s when he left office in 2016.  And what’s more surprising is that Putin’s popularity has held up through a severe economic slump and nearly two decades in office. Unlike most politicians, whose shelf-life is somewhere between 4 to 8 years, the public’s admiration for Putin has only grown stronger over time.
And the phenom is not limited to Russia either.  According to a recent survey by the pollster YouGov, “Putin is the third most admired man in Egypt, the fourth in China, Saudi Arabia and Morocco, and the sixth most admired man in Germany, France and Sweden.” And don’t even mention Syria, where naming babies after the Russian president is all-the-rage.
Putin also won Time magazine’s prestigious Person of the Year award in 2007, and has remained among the top ten on that list for the last decade. The only place that Putin is not popular is in the United States where he is relentlessly demonized in the media as a “KGB thug” or the “new Hitler”. According to a 2017 survey by Gallup, only “22% of Americans hold a favorable opinion of Putin” while “72% hold an unfavorable opinion of him.”
There’s no doubt that the media’s personal attacks on Putin have dramatically impacted his popularity. The question that open-minded people must ask themselves, is whether their opinion of Putin is the result of their own research or if their views have been shaped by a vicious, corporate-owned media that denigrates anyone who stands in the way of Washington’s geopolitical ambitions? My advice to these people is to simply read Putin’s words for yourself and draw your own conclusions.
The western media claims that Putin is responsible for a number of crimes including the killing of well-known journalists and political rivals. But is it true? Is the man, who is so revered by the vast majority of Russians,  a common Mafia hitman who snuffs out his enemies without batting an eye?
I can’t answer that, but having followed Putin’s career (and read many of his speeches) since he replaced Boris Yeltsin in December 1999, I think it’s highly unlikely.  The more probable explanation is that Russia’s foreign policy has created insurmountable hurtles for Washington in places like Ukraine and Syria, so Washington has directed its propaganda ministry (aka– the media) to smear Putin as an evil tyrant and a thug. At least that’s the way the media has behaved in the past.
The US political class loved Yeltsin, of course, because Yeltsin was a compliant buffoon who eviscerated the state and caved in to all the demands of the western corporations. Not so Putin, who has made great strides in rebuilding the country by nationalizing part of the oil industry, asserting his authority over the oligarchs, and restoring the power of the central government.
More important, Putin has repeatedly condemned Washington’s unilateral war-mongering around the world, in fact, the Russian president has become the de facto leader of a growing resistance movement whose primary goal is to stop Washington’s destabilizing regime change wars and rebuild global security on the bedrock principle of national sovereignty. Here’s how Putin summed it up at Valdai:
“We have no doubt that sovereignty is the central notion of the entire system of international relations. Respect for it and its consolidation will help underwrite peace and stability both at the national and international levels…First of all, there must be equal and indivisible security for all states.” (Meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club, ” The Future in Progress: Shaping the World of Tomorrow, From the Office of the President of Russia)
This is a familiar theme with Putin and one that goes back to his famous Munich manifesto in 2007, a speech that anyone with even the slightest interest in foreign affairs should read in full. Here’s an excerpt:
“We are seeing a greater and greater disdain for the basic principles of international law. And independent legal norms are, as a matter of fact, coming increasingly closer to one state’s legal system. One state and, of course, first and foremost the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way. This is visible in the economic, political, cultural and educational policies it imposes on other nations. Well, who likes this? Who is happy about this?….”
“I am convinced that we have reached that decisive moment when we must seriously think about the architecture of global security. And we must proceed by searching for a reasonable balance between the interests of all participants in the international dialogue.” (“Wars not diminishing’: Putin’s iconic 2007 Munich speech, you tube)
The Munich speech was delivered a full four years after Washington launched its bloody invasion of Iraq, an invasion that Putin bitterly opposed. The speech shows a maturity of thought on Putin’s part who, unlike other world leaders,  isn’t quick to judge or draw hasty conclusions.  Instead, he takes his time, analyzes a situation thoroughly, and then acts accordingly.  Once he’s made up his mind, he rarely wavers. He’s not a flip flopper.
Putin’s opposition to unipolar world rule, that is, Washington dictating policy and everyone else falling in line, is not a sign of anti-Americanism, but pragmatism. Washington’s 16 year-long rampage across Central Asia, North Africa and the Middle East, has only intensified crises, fueled instability, bred terrorism, and increased the death and destruction. There have been no victories in the War on Terror, just endless violence and mountains of carnage. On top of that (as Putin says) “No one feels safe.”
This is why Putin has drawn a line in the sand in Syria and Ukraine. The Russian president has now committed troops and military aircraft to stop Washington’s aggressive behavior.  Once again, this is not because he hates America or seeks a confrontation,  but because Washington’s support for violent extremists requires a firm response. There’s no other way. At the same time, Moscow continues to actively seek a peaceful settlement for both crises. Here’s Putin again:
“Only after ending armed conflicts and ensuring the peaceful development of all countries will we be able to talk about economic progress and the resolution of social, humanitarian and other key problems….
It is essential to provide conditions for creative labour and economic growth at a pace that would put an end to the division of the world into permanent winners and permanent losers. The rules of the game should give the developing economies at least a chance to catch up with those we know as developed economies. We should work to level out the pace of economic development, and brace up backward countries and regions so as to make the fruit of economic growth and technological progress accessible to all. Particularly, this would help to put an end to poverty, one of the worst contemporary problems.”…
Another priority is global healthcare…. All people in the world, not only the elite, should have the right to healthy, long and full lives. This is a noble goal. In short, we should build the foundation for the future world today by investing in all priority areas of human development.” (Meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club)
This is why I think that the stories about Putin killing journalists are nonsense. It seems very improbable to me that a man who believes in universal health care, creative labor, ending poverty and “investing in all priority areas of human development” would, at the same time, murder political rivals like a common gang-banger. I find that extremely hard to believe.
The most interesting part of Putin’s Valdai speech is his analysis of the social unrest that has swept across the EU and US resulting in the widespread rejection of traditional political candidates and their parties.  Putin has watched these developments carefully and given the matter a great deal of thought. Here’s what he says:
“With the political agenda already eviscerated as it is, and with (American) elections ceasing to be an instrument for change but consisting instead of nothing but scandals and digging up dirt…And honestly, a look at various candidates’ platforms gives the impression that they were made from the same mold – the difference is slight, if there is any. …
Yes, formally speaking, modern countries have all the attributes of democracy: Elections, freedom of speech, access to information, freedom of expression. But even in the most advanced democracies the majority of citizens have no real influence on the political process and no direct and real influence on power….
It seems as if the elites do not see the deepening stratification in society and the erosion of the middle class…(but the situation) creates a climate of uncertainty that has a direct impact on the public mood.
Sociological studies conducted around the world show that people in different countries and on different continents tend to see the future as murky and bleak. This is sad. The future does not entice them, but frightens them. At the same time, people see no real opportunities or means for changing anything, influencing events and shaping policy.
As for the claim that the fringe and populists have defeated the sensible, sober and responsible minority – we are not talking about populists or anything like that but about ordinary people, ordinary citizens who are losing trust in the ruling class. That is the problem….
People sense an ever-growing gap between their interests and the elite’s vision of the only correct course, a course the elite itself chooses. The result is that referendums and elections increasingly often create surprises for the authorities. People do not at all vote as the official and respectable media outlets advised them to, nor as the mainstream parties advised them to. Public movements that only recently were too far left or too far right are taking center stage and pushing the political heavyweights aside.
At first, these inconvenient results were hastily declared anomaly or chance. But when they became more frequent, people started saying that society does not understand those at the summit of power and has not yet matured sufficiently to be able to assess the authorities’ labor for the public good. Or they sink into hysteria and declare it the result of foreign, usually Russian, propaganda.” (Meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club)
Putin makes some important points, so let’s summarize:
1/  Elections are no longer an instrument for change.
2/ The appearance of democracy remains, but people no longer have the power to change the policies or the process.
3/ Political impotence has led to frustration, depression and rage.  New movements and candidates have emerged that embrace more extreme remedies because the traditional parties no longer represent the will of the people.
4/ Insulated elites have grown more obtuse and unresponsive to the seething anger that lies just below the surface of  a  seemingly-quiescent  society.
5/ More and more people are afraid for the future. They see little hope for themselves, their children or the country. The chasm between rich and poor continues to fuel widespread populist anger.
6/ Trump’s election indicates a broad rejection of the country’s political class, its media, its economic system and its primary institutions.
This is first-rate analysis from a man who has not only spent a lot of time thinking about these things, but also pinpointed the particular event from which the current crisis emerged; the breakup of the Soviet Union. Here’s what he says:
“Last year, the Valdai forum participants discussed the problems with the current world order. Unfortunately, little has changed for the better over these last months. Indeed, it would be more honest to say that nothing has changed.
The tensions engendered by shifts in distribution of economic and political influence continue to grow. … Essentially, the entire globalisation project is in crisis today and in Europe, as we know well, we hear voices now saying that multiculturalism has failed.
I think this situation is in many respects the result of mistaken, hasty and to some extent over-confident choices made by some countries’ elites a quarter-of-a-century ago. Back then, in the late 1980s-early 1990s, there was a chance not just to accelerate the globalization process but also to give it a different quality and make it more harmonious and sustainable in nature.
But some countries that saw themselves as victors in the Cold War, not just saw themselves this way but said it openly, took the course of simply reshaping the global political and economic order to fit their own interests.
In their euphoria, they essentially abandoned substantive and equal dialogue with other actors in international life, chose not to improve or create universal institutions, and attempted instead to bring the entire world under the spread of their own organisations, norms and rules. They chose the road of globalisation and security for their own beloved selves, for the select few, and not for all.”   (Meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club)
He’s right, isn’t he?  The globalization project IS in crisis, and the reason it’s in crisis is because all of the benefits have gone to the people who crafted the original policy, the 1 percenters. So now the people in the US and EU are lashing out in anger, now they are taking desperate measures to reassert control over the system. That’s what Brexit was all about. That’s what the election of Trump was all about. And that is what the faceoff between Macron and Le Pen is all about. All three are examples of the seething populist rage that’s aimed at the elites who have imposed their own self-aggrandizing system on everyone else precipitating the steady decline in living standards, massive economic insecurity, and the loss of national sovereignty.
This is the first time I’ve seen the current wave of social turbulence traced back to the dissolution of the Soviet Union, but it makes perfect sense. Western elites saw the breakup of the USSR as a greenlight to maniacally pursue their own global agenda and impose their neoliberal economic model on the world,  a process that greatly accelerated following 9-11. The terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers became the seminal event that triggered the curtailing of civil liberties, the enhancing of executive powers and the beginning of a global war of terror. Unconstrained by any serious rival, Washington felt free to impose its corporate-friendly system on the world, redraw the map of the Middle East, occupy countries in Central Asia, and topple secular regimes wherever it went.  The triumphalism of western capitalism was summarized in the jubilant words of President George H. W. Bush who stated in 1990 before the launching of Desert Storm: (From now on) “what we say, goes”. The pronouncement was an unambiguous statement of Washington’s determination to rule the world and establish a new order.
Now, 27 years later, the United States has been stopped in its tracks in Syria and Ukraine. New centers of economic power are emerging, new political alliances are forming, and Washington’s authority is being openly challenged.  Putin’s task is to block Washington’s forward progress, create tangible disincentives for aggression, and put an end to the foreign interventions.  The Russian president might have to take a few steps backward to avoid WW3, but ultimately the goal is clear and achievable. Uncle Sam must be reigned in, the war-making must stop, global security must be reestablished, and people must be free to return to their homes in peace.
MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.
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Two Genetic Blows Against Darwinian Speciation

Two Genetic Blows Against Darwinian Speciation

genetic information
Classical neo-Darwinism relies on genetic mutations (random mistakes) acted on by natural selection (an aimless effect dependent on what survives). From these two sources of unguided happenstance, all the adapted perfections in life are supposed to have emerged. But what if life is, instead, determined by active information content? An entirely different picture of “evolutionary” change becomes possible: one that involves information sharing. Two recent genomic studies provide additional validation for the new picture.
Insects: Rampant Horizontal Gene Transfer
Horizontal transfer (HT) of genetic information has been well known in microbes for some years now, but recently has been coming more visible in higher organisms. Transposable elements (TE) are, as the name implies, transposable or relocatable within a genome. But could they also play a role in genetic diversity between organisms? Apparently so. A new paper in PNAS announces “Massive horizontal transfer of transposable elements in insects.”
Eukaryotes normally receive their genetic material from their parents but may occasionally, like prokaryotes do, acquire DNA from unrelated organisms through horizontal transfer (HT). In animals and plants, HT mostly concerns transposable elements (TEs), probably because these pieces of DNA can move within genomes. Assessing the impact of HTs on eukaryote evolution and the factors shaping the dynamics of these HTs requires large-scale systematic studies. We have analyzed the genomes from 195 insect species and found that no fewer than 2,248 events of HT of TEs occurred during the last 10 My, particularly between insects that were closely related and geographically close. These results suggest that HT of TEs plays a major role in insect genome evolution.
This is very different from vertical inheritance. How could it happen? It’s like being told you could inadvertently get a piece of DNA from a chimpanzee at the zoo and pass it on to your kids. Impossible. That would scramble every animal’s identity, wouldn’t it? It might explain other people’s kids, but not yours!
The prevalence of HT in higher animals is only now coming to light through systematic studies. These authors examined genomes of “195 insect genomes, representing 123 genera and 13 of the 28 insect orders” to find the 2,248 events they report in the paper. Imagine what this must mean for evolutionary theories of common descent:
We show that DNA transposons transfer horizontally more often than retrotransposons, and unveil phylogenetic relatedness and geographical proximity as major factors facilitating HTT (horizontal transfer of transposons) in insects. Even though our study is restricted to a small fraction of insect biodiversity and to a recent evolutionary timeframe, the TEs we found to be horizontally transferred generated up to 24% (2.08% on average) of all nucleotides of insect genomes. Together, our results establish HTT as a major force shaping insect genome evolution.
The authors recognize that transposons can jump species barriers much easier than genes can. Even so, it’s astonishing to think that this much genetic information could pass readily between species, most likely via bacteria vectors.
In animals and plants, very few cases of such horizontal gene transfers (HGTs) have been reported so far. In fact, most of the genetic material that is horizontally transferred in animals and plants consists of transposable elements (TEs) which are pieces of DNA able to move from a chromosomal locus to another. The greater ability of TEs to move between organisms certainly relates to their intrinsic ability to transpose within genomes, which genes cannot do. HT of TEs (HTT) may allow these elements to enter naive genomes, which they invade by making copies of themselves, and then escape before they become fully silenced by anti-TE defenses.
Further Reading:

Brave B'Tselem

Dear Stan,
On Wednesday, the Israeli Prime Minister tried to prevent the German Foreign Minister from meeting with B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence.
What is Netanyahu afraid of? Reality and facts. At a time in which politicians restrict access to friendly media and discredit any news story they don’t like, it is more important than ever that B’Tselem continues to bring the realities of Israeli occupation and the facts on the ground to the public.

For this, we need your help. Behind every incident we cover and every report we publish stands a dedicated team of researchers, investigators, data coordinators, and volunteers. No matter the size of your contribution, you will help us continue to highlight the facts and expose the truth which Netanyahu is trying to hide from Israelis and the world. Please join us by supporting B'Tselem today: https://www.btselem.org/donate

Thank you,
The B'Tselem Team
PS: For our executive director’s perspective on this failed ultimatum, read his op-ed  (see below) published by Haaretz.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to block Germany’s foreign minister from hearing some facts about the occupation from B’Tselem this week. This failure followed Netanyahu’s failure to prevent Belgium’s prime minister from hearing these facts a few weeks ago, nor could he prevent their presentation to the United Nations Security Council a few months ago. The world has heard, is hearing and will continue to hear about the occupation, and there’s only one thing the Israeli government can do about it: to end the occupation.

The facts have been known for a long time. Less than two months before the 50th anniversary of the occupation, the whole world knows that Israel controls the entire territory and all the people between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. They know that this violent control of millions of people in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and in the Gaza Strip manifests in a cruel daily routine of dispossession, destruction, killing and subjugation of the Palestinians, every minute of every day for half a century, at their Israeli masters’ whim.

For the majority of its history, and each day anew, the state has chosen to maintain its control of the Palestinians. All of our administrative, legal, planning and military institutions are partners to this. But there is no ethical or legal cloak that can conceal the profound implications of this daily violence. Decent people will do everything that is in their power to end this injustice.

So if the facts are known, what is Netanyahu afraid of?

The prime minister and his coalition colleagues, along with most of the “opposition” parties, have no intention of ending the occupation. They have grown accustomed to the prevailing situation of the past half a century, in which Israel gradually advances its interests on the backs of the Palestinians without paying an international price for this. It is an “Israbluff” of historic proportions; Israel does not meet the most elementary preconditions of democracy, yet benefits from membership in the club of democratic nations. This makes it possible for us to continue ruling over another people, while defying fundamental moral principles and international law.

As Israelis, we cannot reconcile ourselves to the continuation of the 50-year-old occupation and the resultant violations of human rights. But as long as the world remains indifferent to the situation and refrains from taking action, the Israbluff will continue to thrive. For that reason, the international community must be firm in spelling out to Israel that its actions beyond the Green Line cross red lines.

The possibility that this will eventually happen: That is what frightened Netanyahu and all the other supporters of the status quo. Israelis who oppose the occupation should be very encouraged by this. International officials who are weighing their policies must pay careful attention to these events. After all, B’Tselem is a small organization, its annual budget barely a tenth of what is spent on guarding the settlers who live in the heart of East Jerusalem’s Palestinian neighborhoods. The state, on the other hand, has for 50 years spent billions to preserve and maintain the moral atrocity of the occupation. An entire army of politicians and judges, PR flacks and diplomats, prison guards and Shin Bet security service agents, police officers and soldiers, bureaucrats and clerks is invested in the occupation. And still, Netanyahu is afraid.

The anxiety of the status-quo supporters should be our work plan. The nonviolent path to ending the occupation depends on being able to persuade the world, and especially Israel’s friends, that they must clarify to Israel that what was is not what will be, and that the occupation’s continuation will lead to international action.

We don’t take orders from Netanyahu. Nor does the world. Above all, one cannot order the facts to disappear, nor can one instruct evil to masquerade as justice. Today, just weeks before the 50th anniversary of the occupation, there is a hope that by resolutely pursuing the struggle here and in every important international arena, it can be brought to an end.

Jive Talking Obama Cashes In

Former President Barack Obama spoke during an event at the University of Chicago on Monday.CreditJoshua Lott for The New York Times 
WASHINGTON — Two post-presidential Barack Obamas emerged this week.
The first was the civic-minded one, seated on a stage in Chicago, where he talked about the importance of community organizing and told a student audience that he had succeeded in politics because people believed “my values were not so different from theirs.”
The other was the one set to cash a $400,000 check from Wall Street — the same amount as his yearly salary during his time in the White House — when he delivers a speech in September at a health care conference run by Cantor Fitzgerald, a trading and investment firm.
On Wednesday, Mr. Obama’s spokesman defended the former president’s coming speech, saying Mr. Obama decided to give it because health care changes were important to him. The spokesman, Eric Schultz, noted that Cantor Fitzgerald is a Wall Street firm but pointed out in a statement that as a presidential candidate, Mr. Obama raised money from Wall Street and went on to aggressively regulate it.
Mr. Obama will spend most of his post-presidency, Mr. Schultz said, “training and elevating a new generation of political leaders in America.”
Continue reading the main story
Throughout his years in the White House, Mr. Obama championed the problems of the poor even as he showed an affinity for Hollywood superstars, elite artists and technology billionaires. As he left the White House, Mr. Obama made it clear that he wanted to continue working for those who struggle to climb what he often called the “ladders of opportunity.” During his remarks on Monday to students at the University of Chicago, he spoke about the need to pursue the right things in life, not just fame or money.
“If you’re more concerned with ‘I want to be a congressman’ or ‘I want to be a senator’ or ‘I want to be rich,’ some people may succeed in chasing that goal, but when they get there, they don’t know what to do with it,” Mr. Obama said.
But the former president’s departure from office was also marked by the mother of all parties: a celebrity-filled White House romp two weeks before Inauguration Day that went past 4 a.m. and included guests like Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney.
Mr. Obama’s first few months after leaving the White House were spent kitesurfing with Richard Branson, the billionaire founder of the Virgin Group, and soaking up the French Polynesian sun with Oprah Winfrey, Bruce Springsteen and Mr. Hanks on a yacht owned by David Geffen, a billionaire and Hollywood mogul.
Mr. Obama and his family now live in an 8,200-square-foot, nine-bedroom home in Washington valued at $6 million. The house, which rents for an estimated $22,000 a month, is in one of Washington’s richest neighborhoods, surrounded by ambassadors, executives and other members of the political elite.
“I don’t think that former presidents necessarily take vows of poverty, or should,” said David Axelrod, one of Mr. Obama’s closest advisers. “Will he be out there doing good? I think he will be. I watched him for eight years devote every ounce of his energy and thought and attention to the service of this country. I hope that he does find some personal time and solace and enjoyment now. He’s earned it.”
Mr. Obama is hardly the first former president to collect big checks after his time in the White House. Former President Bill Clinton became rich after leaving office, earning an average of more than $200,000 per speech over more than a decade. And former President George W. Bush was blunt when asked, shortly after he left office, what he intended to do.
“I’ll give some speeches, just to replenish the ol’ coffers,” he told The New York Times in 2007. Eventually, Mr. Bush reportedly received $100,000 to $175,000 for each appearance.
In 1989, Ronald Reagan earned $2 million for a week of speechmaking in Japan after leaving office. The Japan visit, for which he was subsequently the subject of derision, was sponsored by Fujisankei Communications Group, the country’s largest media conglomerate.
“Every president since I’ve been active in politics immediately got whacked for big speechifying” after leaving office, said Joe Trippi, a veteran Democratic strategist. “I can’t remember it not happening. And they never look good.”
Mr. Obama, who grew up without great wealth, had amassed several million dollars by the time he became president, mostly from sales of his first book, “Dreams From My Father.” He and his wife, Michelle, have each received multimillion-dollar contracts to write new memoirs. Some reports pegged the two book deals together at a total of $60 million.
The Cantor Fitzgerald speech will take place at a hotel in New York, where the firm hopes to woo wealthy investors, mutual fund representatives and hedge fund executives to the conference.
Hillary Clinton gave numerous speeches to Wall Street companies before her 2016 presidential campaign, in which she was savaged by her opponents on the left for taking more than $2 million for the appearances.
In a television commercial during the Democratic primary contests, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont unleashed a thinly veiled attack on Mrs. Clinton for her speechmaking.
“Wall Street banks shower Washington politicians with campaign contributions and speaking fees,” the narrator in the ad says. “While Washington politicians are paid over $200,000 an hour for speeches, they oppose raising the living wage to $15 an hour. Two hundred thousand dollars an hour for them, but not even 15 bucks an hour for all Americans. Enough is enough.”
The Cantor Fitzgerald speech is part of what Mr. Obama’s aides have described as a series of public and private events that the former president began on Monday in Chicago. Mr. Obama is scheduled to deliver a speech in Boston on May 7 at the John F. Kennedy Library and Foundation. In May, he plans to hold a similar public conversation with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.

Collaborating Mainstream Media

    • El Mercurio coverage often praised the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet and denied human rights abuses such as forced disappearances.

      El Mercurio coverage often praised the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet and denied human rights abuses such as forced disappearances. | Photo: EFE / teleSUR


    The CIA paid a major Chilean newspaper to discredit President Allende and support the Pinochet dictatorship.

    Agustin Edwards Eastman, the owner of the largest media conglomerate in Chile who died Monday, and his conservative media establishment were crucial to the CIA-backed operation to oust socialist President Salvador Allende in a coup in 1973 and install a military dictatorship, declassified documents have revealed.
    According to declassified CIA and White House documents published Tuesday by the National Security Archive, Edwards and his conservative El Mercurio newspaper were critical in setting the stage for the coup and ensuring the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet assumed power.
    Edwards worked in close collaboration with former U.S. secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, and was the only Chilean who met CIA director Richard Helms, according to the documents.
    During the meeting with Helms, Edwards expressed support for Washington's intervention in Chile through a coup to block Allende from taking power. He also provided intelligence information that was used to analyze the potential for a coup operation from the various branches of the military, the "timing for possible military action," and how the new diplomatic relations would be between a dictatorship and Washington, declassified notes on the conversation reveal.
    "Agustin Edward represents everything we don't want for this country: corruption, censorship, torture, death, disappearances and lies."
    After the media mogul met with the CIA director, Kissinger worked to arrange a secret meeting between Edwards and President Richard Nixon in the Oval Office, according to the documents, but there are no records to prove that meeting took place. Edwards testified during previous investigations on the matter that he didn't recall meeting Nixon.
    Nixon had called Kissinger and Helms and instructed them to “save Chile” with a military takeover.
    “I have this impression that the president called this meeting,” Helms testified before the U.S. Senate, “because of Edwards’ presence in Washington and what … Edwards was saying about conditions in Chile.”
    Nixon authorized covert CIA funding of over US$1 million for El Mercurio "so that it could become a media megaphone of opposition, agitation, and misinformation against the Allende government," the files reveal. The documents also show that the group received about US$2 million between 1971 and 1972 and continued to receive money until June 1974. Allende took office on Nov. 4, 1970.
    Even the CIA praised the role of Edwards' media support in Chile, claiming it played "a significant role in setting the stage for the military coup of September 11, 1973” as part of a "propaganda project."
    The trove of documents also shows that after Allende's death, the financial support continued so that the El Mercurio media group would present the U.S.-backed military junta "in the most positive light for the Chilean public” and help Pinochet consolidate his power.
    Edwards continuously denied that El Mercurio received funding from the CIA, and regarding his meeting with Helms, he said that the conversation took place "a few days after the election of Salvador Allende, which gave me the opportunity to comment on the circumstances that had permitted a communist president to win in a democratic country. At no time did we discuss a coup or anything like that.”
    But the documents provide a historical account of what Edwards denied — that he and his flagship media enterprise, El Mercurio, were key in advancing a U.S.-backed plot to oust a democratically-elected president and install a dictatorship that went on to terrorize Chilean society for 17 years.