In response to Friday’s assassination of General Qasem Soleimani, the military commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force, "Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made a rare appearance at a meeting of the government’s National Security Council to lay down the parameters for any retaliation. It must be a direct and proportional attack on American interests, he said, openly carried out by Iranian forces themselves," the New York Times reported Monday. Meanwhile, "Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Tuesday confirmed reports that the Trump administration has denied him a visa to enter the US for a United Nations Security Council meeting in New York this week," AFP reported. What are we to make of this, and what signals are being sent by both sides?
"Venezuelan security forces let US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido enter the legislative palace on Tuesday amid a showdown for control of parliament after the ruling socialist party installed its own rival congressional chief," Reuters reported. "Guaido, who was re-elected on Sunday to a second one-year term as head of the opposition-held congress, had pledged to preside over Tuesday’s opening session after security forces blocked him from the building over the weekend to allow socialist legislators to swear in their own speaker. Local television images early Tuesday showed Guaido arguing for half an hour with troops wielding riot shields who again blocked the entrance to the legislative building, but eventually allowed him to push past them." What’s going on in Venezuela?
"Nearly 200 people have been arrested in Australia and are being accused of starting the bushfires that have ravaged the country in recent months," News Radio 1200 WOAI reported Tuesday. "Since November, there have been 183 people arrested, most of whom are believed to have deliberately started fires. Others are accused of improperly discarding a lit cigarette or match outdoors. At least 25 people have died, hundreds of millions of animals have been killed and over 2,000 homes are destroyed."
Jim Kavanagh — political analyst and commentator and editor of The Polemicist.
Jon Jeter — Author and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist with more than 20 years of journalistic experience. He is a former Washington Post bureau chief and award-winning foreign correspondent.
Daniel C. Hellinger — Professor emeritus of political science at Webster University, USA. He has previously published “Paranoia, Conspiracy, Hegemony in American Politics” in "Transparency and Conspiracy: Ethnographies of Suspicion in the New World Order"; and “Conspiracy Theory and the Paranoid Style” in "American Political Culture: An Encyclopedia."
Nino Pagliccia — Activist and freelance writer based in Vancouver. A retired researcher from the University of British Columbia, Canada, Pagliccia is a Venezuelan-Canadian who follows and writes about international relations with a focus on the Americas, and is also the editor of the book “Cuba Solidarity in Canada – Five Decades of People-to-People Foreign Relations.”
Dr. Kenneth Surin — Professor emeritus of literature and professor of religion and critical theory at Duke University.
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