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US Sanctions 271 Syrians, Freezes Their US Assets

By Tyler Durden | Zero Hedge | April 24, 2017

Two weeks after launching missile strikes on Syria, the U.S. Treasury announced it has sanctioned 271 employees of Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Center in response to the alleged sarin attack conducted by the Assad regime on Kahn Sheikhoun. It’s one of the largest sanction actions in U.S. history.

The action was announced in a statement by the Treasury Department, and Treasury Security Steve Mnuchin simultaneously briefed reporters at the White House.

The action – which takes place in lieu of a probe demanded by Russia and Syria to determine if Assad was indeed responsible for the recent sarin attack – freezes the individuals’ U.S. assets – which we doubt exist – and generally prohibits U.S. persons from dealing with them. … Full article

Medical marijuana program ‘could save US taxpayer $1bn’ – study

RT | April 24, 2017

A new study claims that medical marijuana use directly correlates with a decline in prescription drug use, which could save the US taxpayer up to $1.1 billion a year on Medicaid prescriptions.

The research follows up on another study carried out last year by Ashley Bradford and W. David Bradford which found that taxpayers would save half a billion dollars each year through the provision of medical marijuana.

“Patients and physicians in the community are reacting to the availability of medical marijuana as if it were medicine,” the father-daughter team wrote in their latest findings, published online this week in the Health Affairs publication. Medical marijuana is legal in 28 states and in Washington DC.

“Using quarterly data on all fee-for-service Medicaid prescriptions in the period 2007–14, we tested the association between those laws and the average number of prescriptions filled by Medicaid beneficiaries,” the researchers wrote.

The revised estimates in the latest study are even more optimistic, and predict that if medical marijuana was made available nationwide it would lead to: an 11 percent drop in prescriptions for pain medication, including opioids; a 17 percent drop in prescriptions for nausea medications; a 13 percent drop in depression medication prescriptions, and a 12 percent decrease in both anti-seizure and anti-psychotic medications. … continue

US Treasury sanctions Syrian officials over suspected gas attack

Press TV – April 24, 2017

The United States has announced “sweeping sanctions” against Syrian officials in response to allegations that the Syrian government was responsible for a suspected gas attack earlier this month.

The Treasury Department ordered assets belonging to 271 employees of the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC) to be frozen in the United States, it announced on Monday.

It also prohibited any American individual or business from dealing with the Syrians.

The Treasury alleged the SSRC was responsible for producing the chemical weapons that US officials said were used in the April 4 incident and the means to deliver them.

The West accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of launching a chemical attack in Idlib province, which left 87 dead.

The Syrian government strongly denied responsibility for the attack, and there is no evidence that it was behind the incident.

“The United States is sending a strong message with this action that we will hold the entire Assad regime accountable for these blatant human rights violations in order to deter the spread of these types of barbaric chemical weapons,” Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said of the new sanctions. … Full article

Israeli settlers raze private Palestinian land near Bethlehem

Ma’an – April 24, 2017

BETHLEHEM – Israeli settlers razed privately-owned Palestinian land in the Wadi al-Ghawit area in the western outskirts of al-Khader in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem on Monday, according to locals.

Official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that the Palestinian owner of the land in question, Ibrahim Sbeih, was physically assaulted by the settlers.

Locals said that Israelis from the illegal settlement outpost Sde Boaz leveled 10 dunams (2.5 acres) of agricultural land owned by Sbeih, who said he had not been officially notified by Israeli authorities that the land was slated for confiscation.

It remained unclear whether the land in question, which had been planted with almond trees and grapevines, was leveled with bulldozers or by other means.

Sbeih told Wafa he had legal documents to prove his ownership of the land. … Full article

Israeli travel agencies will soon have to promise not to send tourists to the West Bank

Ma’an – April 24, 2017

BETHLEHEM – Israeli authorities have notified Israeli travel agencies that they will be forced to sign a commitment pledging not to take groups of tourists to the occupied West Bank, according to a copy the notification obtained by Ma’an on Sunday.

In the Hebrew-language document dated April 23, the Border Control Department of the Israeli Population and Immigration Authority notifies travel agencies that as of May 15, the day when Palestinians commemorate the 1948 Nakba, they will have to “attach, with each request to bring a group of tourists into the country, a special form pledging that they will not send tourists to Judea and Samaria,” using the Israeli term for the occupied West Bank. … continue

Fools Rush In: Europe Pursues Israel Gas Deal for Political Not Economic Reasons

Sputnik – April 24, 2017

An Israel-Europe gas pipeline deal elevates Israel to the status of a major Mediterranean energy exporter. However, critics suggest the move is about more than mere economics, and serves a number of greater geopolitical objectives – namely, immunizing Israel from criticism and sanctions, and damaging relations between Europe and Russia further.

Ministers from Israel, Greece, Italy and Cyprus, as well as the European Union Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, signed a joint declaration in April, codifying a commitment to constructing a gas pipeline that will bring newly discovered natural gas in Israel [sic] to Europe.

The pipeline, described by Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz as “the longest and deepest subsea gas pipeline in the world,” is expected to be in operation by 2025.

Designated as a “project of common interest” by the EU, the pipeline has been marketed by both sides as an ideal alternative to the bloc’s continuing dependence on Russian energy — an overt indication the deal is being pursued for political rather than economic purposes. After all, high infrastructure costs coupled with low gas prices will almost by definition make it considerably dearer than the existing energy relationship between Russia and Europe. … continue

The Pro-War Twist of the ‘Resistance’

Consortium News | April 24, 2017

The anti-Trump “#Resistance” has become a movement to defend the Democratic establishment’s pro-war policies, to purge anti-war Democrats, and even to embrace Donald Trump’s attack on Syria, reports James W Carden. – Read article

RT banned from Macron events. Is a national ban next?

By Adam Garrie – The Duran – April 24, 2017

Despite asking for full press accreditation in April, the Macron campaign did not give RT what is a standard press credential to cover major campaign events. According to RT, Emmanuel Macron’s campaign didn’t give an actual reason for denying RT’s journalists and crew passes. They instead, repeatedly stated,

“They are still being processed”.

Because RT never got the passes, RT’s journalists and crew had to cover the Macron victory rally from outside the hall. … Full article

Okinawans call for U.S. military to go home after further provocations

Xinhua | April 24, 2017

TOKYO – Local residents of Kadena on Okinawa’s main island said the United States military conducting parachute training drills over Okinawa’s mainland on Monday morning was completely unacceptable with the latest provocation coming amid rising anti-U.S. military sentiment on the island.

Local media reported that residents in the area still remember a tragic incident that occurred in 1965 involving an elementary schoolgirl being crushed to death by a trailer being parachuted down to a village during such a drill.

The area hasn’t seen parachute drills by the U.S. military since a drill at the base in 2011, that saw 30 personnel deploy from a MC-130 special mission aircraft, official accounts showed. … continue

China closes US’ exit door from Iran nuclear deal

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | April 24, 2017

The signing of the first commercial contract between China and Iran to redesign Iran’s Arak heavy water reactor is a landmark event in the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Cooperative Plan of Action (JCPOA) of July 2015.

The Arak plant was a major sticking point in the saga of the Iran nuclear issue. Its conversion for purely commercial / civil use is a vital template of the Iran nuclear deal. The US and Iran agreed that China could be entrusted with the sensitive task of converting Arak plant, and China which played a significant role in the negotiation of the JCOPA agreed to undertake that task.

It has taken almost two years to flesh out the commercial contract. The contract was signed in Vienna where the IAEA is headquartered. The timing of the contract is extremely interesting – on the eve of a meeting of the commission on April 25 in Vienna, which is expected to review the progress of implementation of the JCPOA.

Today’s meeting in Vienna, in turn, is invested with high importance as it will be the occasion for the US to formally present its perspective on the JCPOA before the international audience after Donald Trump became president. Does the US intend to stick to the JCPOA or does it have ulterior designs to undermine it? The answer to this big question will emerge at today’s meeting in Vienna. … continue

Make No Mistake: There is a media blockade against Venezuela

By Rachael Boothroyd Rojas | Venezuelanalysis | April 23, 2017

Venezuela is in flames. Or at least parts of it is.

Since April 4th, opposition militants have been carrying out targeted acts of violence, vandalism and arson, as well as deliberately clashing with security forces in an attempt to plunge the country into total chaos and forcefully remove the elected socialist government. It is the continuation of an 18 year effort to topple the Bolivarian revolution by any means necessary — although you may have seen it miraculously recast in the mainstream media as “promoting a return to democracy” in the country.

A catalogue of the violence over the last 18 days is shocking – schools have been ransacked, a Supreme Court building has been torched, an air force base attacked, while public transport, health and veterinary facilities have been destroyed. At least 23 people have been left dead, with many more injured. In one of the most shocking cases of right-wing violence, at around 10pm on April 20th, women, children and over 50 newborn babies had to be evacuated by the government from a public maternity hospital which came under attack from opposition gangs.

Anywhere else in the western world, this would have given way to horrified international and national calls for an end to the violence, and for the swift prosecution of those responsible – making it all the more scandalous that these incidents have at best been ignored, and at worst totally misrepresented by the international press. Instead, those tasked with providing the public with unbiased reporting on international affairs have opted to uncritically parrot the Venezuelan opposition’s claims that the elected government is violently repressing peaceful protests, and holding it responsible for all deaths in connection with the demonstrations so far.

This narrative cannot be described as even a remotely accurate interpretation of the facts, and so it is important to set the record straight. … continue

Dozens injured as troops fire at student protesters in Indian-controlled Kashmir

Press TV – April 24, 2017

Dozens of people have been injured after paramilitary troops opened fire on a crowd of stone-throwing student protesters in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

Media reports said police fired live rounds and used tear gas and water cannon to try to disperse hundreds of students in the main city of Srinagar on Monday.

The students retaliated by hurling stones and breaching the barricades set up by paramilitary soldiers.

The angry students also chanted slogans against Indian rule over the Muslim-majority Himalayan region. … Full article

US Supreme Court rejects police-force case, justifies cop immunity

RT | April 24, 2017

The US Supreme Court will not review a case in which lower courts had decided that a Texas cop’s version of events – involving the officer shooting an unarmed man in the back – are “undisputed facts” that effectively block a jury trial.

The case, Ricardo Salazar-Limon v. City of Houston, hinges on Houston police officer Chris Thompson’s version of events regarding a 2010 traffic stop during which Thompson shot an unarmed Ricardo Salazar-Limon in the back, leaving him partially paralyzed. The officer said he feared for his life when he shot Salazar-Limon. Salazar-Limon sued, seeking a jury trial to decide the validity of Thompson’s claims.

At issue is whether a court could accept the officer’s version of events as “undisputed fact” and grant summary judgment to Thompson, effectively avoiding a full trial on Salazar-Limon’s excessive force claims. … continue

‘Abhorrent’ Torture of Detainees in Afghanistan Still High and Rising – UN

Sputnik – April 24, 2017

Torture and mistreatment of detainees by Afghan security forces is as widespread as ever if not more so, despite promises from Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and new laws enacted by the government, a United Nations report has declared.

Investigators from UNAMA — UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan — spent two years interviewing 469 detainees in 62 detention centers across Afghanistan.

In all, the report says 39 percent of conflict-related detainees interviewed by the UNAMA gave “credible and reliable accounts” of being tortured or experiencing severe mistreatment at the hands of the Afghan national police, intelligence, or military personnel while in custody.

Among the methods described by interviewees were severe beatings to the body and soles of the feet with sticks, plastic pipes or cables, electric shocks, including to the genitals, prolonged suspension by the arms, and suffocation. … continue

Human Rights and the Arrogance of Power

By Brian CLOUGHLEY | Strategic Culture Foundation | 24.04.2017

International policy statements sometimes attract attention because they deal with serious matters, such as human rights, concerning which an important speech was made to the UN Security Council on April 18 by US Ambassador Nikki Haley.

Ambassador Haley declared that «When a state begins to systematically violate human rights, it is a sign, it is a red flag, it’s a blaring siren – one of the clearest possible indicators that instability and violence may follow and spill across borders». She singled out Burma, Cuba, Burundi, Iran, North Korea and Syria for censure and urged the nations of the world to adopt a policy of «standing for human rights before the absence of human rights forces us to react». … continue

Debunking Trump’s Casus Belli

By Philip Giraldi | The American Conservative | April 24, 2017

… Recently, with the cruise missile attacks on a Syrian airfield, there has been a considerable loosening of the normal restraints that employees exercise regarding their duties. Even more than the invasion of Iraq, which was viewed skeptically by many in the community, the decision by President Trump to retaliate with force against Damascus has been met with dismay among many of those closest to the action in the Middle East.

Many officers have expressed frustration and anger over what has taken place—not to challenge national-security policy, which they leave up to the politicians, but because they are perceiving a tissue of lies, as in Iraq. They have expressed their concerns in very specific ways to former fellow officers and friends. For the first time, people on the inside of the process are really talking. And we have been listening, astonished at the level of anger. … Read full article

With Error Fixed, Evidence Against ‘Sarin Attack’ Remains Convincing

By Theodore A. Postol | TruthDig | April 21, 2017

This article about the alleged nerve agent attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria, earlier this month corrects an important error in the report by Theodore A. Postol that Truthdig posted Wednesday. … continue

Corbyn makes election pledge to end Syria airstrikes and push for peace process

RT | April 24, 2017

Airstrikes should be suspended and all parties should get back to the negotiating table in a bid to end the Syrian war, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said.

Corbyn told the BBC Monday that he supported an end to the UK’s airstrikes in the war-ravaged country, and said that it was in the interests of all parties to return to the negotiating table.

“I would say to President Trump ‘listen, it’s in nobody’s interests for this war to continue. Let’s get the Geneva process going quickly,” he told the interviewer.

“In the meantime, no more strikes. Have the UN investigation into the war crime of the use of chemical weapons in Syria and take it on from there.”

“I want us to say ‘listen, let’s get people around the table quickly.’ A way of achieving that – suspend the strikes? Possibly. The point has to be to bring about a political solution.” … continue

Moshe Ya’alon Admits Tacit Israel-ISIS Alliance: Report

American Herald Tribune | April 24, 2017

International media outlets have already reported extensively on Israeli commandos’ missions inside Syria to rescue wounded militants but a senior regime official’s acknowledgement of a link with ISIS is unprecedented.

Ya’alon’s explosive revelation came during an interview reported Saturday on Israeli Channel 10’s website, content portal Mako, which acts as a gateway to Israeli media outlets and websites.

Mako also incorporated footage of the event in the northern city of Afula, during which the former military affairs chief was seen describing an occasion in which Syria-based ISIS terrorists had fired into the Golan Heights.

Golan is a Syrian territory, which Tel Aviv has been occupying since 1967 and lays claim on it as its own property. Save some rare alleged rocket attacks from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, for which ISIS has reportedly claimed responsibility and have not resulted in any human injury or losses, the group has generally refused to target either Israel or the territories under its occupation.

However, Ya’alon said, after opening fire on Golan, ISIS served Tel Aviv with a quick apology, pointing to the alliance between the two, and also suggesting that the group had agreed not to target Israeli interests in line with the rapport. … continue

An Accelerating Palestine Rights Movement Faces Uncertain Direction

By Jack Dresser | CounterPunch | April 24, 2017

US-instigated and propelled wars have continued to rage for 15 years in fulfillment of influential neoconservative ideologue Michael Ledeen’s envisioned “creative destruction” through “total war.” General Wesley Clark related the Bush administration’s intention, reported by a Pentagon friend, to “take out” seven countries: Iran plus six Middle Eastern and North African Arab countries – all of which happened to be unfriendly to Israel. Egypt and Jordan, which had peace treaties with Israel, were not on the list. Nor was oil a common denominator. The list included Lebanon, of interest only to Israel, not Exxon, and did not include the oil-saturated Gulf states that collaborate with Israel despite lip service paid the Palestinians. This agenda fits Israel’s long-term strategic game plan recounted in 1982 by Israeli Foreign Service senior official and Jerusalem Post journalist Oded Yinon to control the Arab world by shattering its countries into sectarian political shards emasculated as nations. As John Pilger titled two documentary films 25 years apart, “Palestine is Still the Issue” – the ever-bleeding heart of the Middle East.

The imperial monster behind this agenda is clearly non-partisan. Like the bullfight picadors weakening the bull in preparation for the matador, Bill Clinton had prepared Iraq for easy takedown with eight years of suffocating sanctions that killed an estimated half-million children. Obama/Clinton followed Bush with the wholesale destruction of Libya, a secular, socialist, well-developed nation with the highest human development index in Africa, and using weapons looted from Gaddafi’s arsenal, launched the Syrian war in collusion with the Saudis, Qatar, Turkey and Israel, each with its own motives, none of which Americans should support. However rationalized as oil-driven, currency-protecting or strategic moves on the global chessboard, the monumental financial, moral and societal costs of these wars vastly exceed any benefits, real or imagined. Without the regional conflicts long caused by Israel and relentless pressure and political extortion by the Israel lobby, most or all of these terrible debacles might well have been avoided. … continue

Reports: Serious deterioration in the health of Marwan Barghouthi

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network – April 24, 2017

Imprisoned Palestinian political leader Marwan Barghouthi, a member of the Fateh Central Committee and leader of the current Strike for Freedom and Dignity, is reportedly suffering serious deterioration to his health on his eighth day on hunger strike, as reported in multiple Palestinian media outlets.

Barghouthi launched the strike with 1500 fellow Palestinians on 17 April, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, with a list of demands including an end to the denial of family visits, appropriate medical care for Palestinian prisoners and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society and the Prisoners Affairs Commission reported that the director of Jalameh prison, where Barghouthi is held in solitary confinement along with other leaders of the strike, including Karim Younis, Kamil Abu Hanish, Anas Jaradat and Wajdi Jawdat, called for him to be taken to treatment immediately. However, Barghouthi reportedly refused any form of medical treatment. … continue

Challenging Racism isn’t Anti-Semitic

By Yves Engler | Dissident Voice | April 22, 2017

Weirdly, even some self-declared “anti-fascists” who claim to be intent on “punching Nazis” get uncomfortable when you criticize the Jewish Defense League.

In an incident akin to Canadians organizing to thwart freedom riders during the US civil rights movement, the Toronto-based JDL organized a mob that attacked protesters at last month’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington DC. Over the past decade the JDL has built itself up by aggressively harassing pro-Palestinian activists in Toronto, which has won them active or passive support from much of the Jewish establishment, dominant media and the city’s broader power structure. As I was slandered for discussing in a previous article, JDL Toronto is now seeking to export their extremist ideology to the USA and is building neo-fascist alliances focused on bashing Muslims in Toronto.

Until recently liberals largely treated JDL thuggery with kid gloves. For many years the former head of the Canadian Jewish Congress, Bernie Farber, gave the group political cover. The same can be said for former Canada-Israel Committee board member Warren Kinsella, who spoke at a JDL meeting in 2009. These prominent liberals supported JDL intimidation of Palestinian solidarity activists. But, they are now uncomfortable with the group’s racism against Canadian Muslims and ties to other more marginal white supremacist groups such as the English Defence League and Soldiers of Odin.

Incredibly, some people on the “left” also seem to share this opinion. … continue

US, Israel two sides of same coin, trying to destroy Yemen: Houthi

Press TV – April 23, 2017

Leader of Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement, Abdul-Malik Badreddin al-Houthi, says the United States and the Israeli regime are two sides of the same coin and together they seek to destroy Yemen through a brutal military campaign launched by Saudi Arabia.

Addressing a group of Yemenis in Sa’ada, thorough a video conference, Houthi further said on Sunday that the US, Israel and their allies are trying to impose their values on regional nations, adding that enemies view Yemenis as a worthless tool to sustain their own interests in the region.

“Independent forces in the region from Yemen to Syria, Lebanon and Iraq are considered as rogue from the American perspective, and sympathy for the oppressed in these countries is viewed as a crime,” he said, adding that Washington is trying hard to turn regional players into its own puppets. … continue

A talking point for PM Modi in Israel

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | April 23, 2017

The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has written in his latest piece: “Why should our goal right now be to defeat the Islamic State in Syria? This is a time for Trump to be Trump — utterly cynical and unpredictable. ISIS right now is the biggest threat to Iran, Hezbollah, Russia and pro-Shiite Iranian militias — because ISIS is a Sunni terrorist group that plays as dirty as Iran and Russia… Trump should let ISIS be Assad’s, Iran’s, Hezbollah’s and Russia’s headache — the same way we encouraged the mujahedeen fighters to bleed Russia in Afghanistan…”

The daily and the columnist enjoy reputations as old warhorses empathising with Israeli interests. The probability is that Friedman is advancing Israel’s project to refuel the US’ stalled project of ‘regime change’ in Syria. Israel is pulling out all the stops to ensure that the swathe of Syrian territory bordering its ‘occupied territories’ in the Golan Heights remain in the hands of Al-Qaeda and ISIS. Israel nurtured these groups to create a buffer zone between the Syrian territory it illegally occupies and where Damascus’ writ ends.

The Israeli attacks on Syrian forces operating near Golan Heights are becoming more frequent. Another major attack took place two days ago. Every time Israel attacks Syrian government assets, it provides an alibi, but in reality these attacks coincide with Syrian government operations against al-Qaeda and ISIS groups. Clearly, Israel intervenes to protect its al-Qaeda and ISIS proxies. … continue

Israeli forces block off entrance to villages northeast of Ramallah

Ma’an – April 23, 2017

RAMALLAH – Israeli forces closed the main entrance to a cluster of villages northeast of Ramallah in central occupied West Bank on Sunday morning for unknown reasons, according to locals.

Eyewitnesses told Ma’an that Israeli forces closed the iron gate installed at the entrance to a road that leads to Bani Zeid, Nabi Saleh, Beit Rima, Kafr Ein, and Qarawat Bani Zeid, which is also a main commuter link from Ramallah to Salfit city a few kilometers further north.

Israeli soldiers stationed at the gate were preventing all commuters from passing in either direction, while a large number of Israeli soldiers were deployed in the area around the gate.

Palestinian communities are routinely subjected to arbitrary road closures by Israeli military forces for purported “security reasons,” an act which rights groups have denounced as amounting to collective punishment.

The same group of villages were blockaded in February, forcing commuters to take lengthy detours.

Palestinian Injured After An Israeli Colonist Settler Rammed Him With His Car

IMEMC News – April 23, 2017

Palestinian medical sources have reported Saturday, that a young man was injured when he was struck by a speeding Israeli colonist’s car, in the al-Mas’oudiyya area, west of Nablus, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank.

The sources stated that the young man, identified as Assem Salem, 19, was trying to cross the road when the colonizer struck him with his car, and fled the scene without stopping, or even slowing down.

The injured young Palestinian man suffered moderate wounds, before local medics rushed him to Rafidia governmental hospital, in Nablus.

In related news, groups of extremist Israeli colonists carried out a series of invasions into Palestinian towns, including attacking a number of homes, in the northern West Bank governorate of Nablus, wounding an elderly woman and two young men, while Israeli soldiers also injured four young men, and caused many Palestinians to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation.

On Thursday, a Palestinian teenage girl, identified as Kawthar Mohammad Shawriyya, 17, suffered moderate wounds after being rammed by the Israeli colonist’s car, who also fled the scene.

On Wednesday evening, Israeli soldiers shot and killed a young Palestinian man, identified a Soheib Mousa Mashahra, 21, from the Sawahra town, near occupied East Jerusalem, after alleging that he deliberately carried out a ramming attack with his car. … Full article

Israeli forces shoot 3 Palestinians, injuring 1 critically, in Ramallah-area village

Ma’an – April 23, 2017

RAMALLAH – Israeli forces shot and injured three young Palestinian men, one of them critically, and detained two others during clashes in the village of Kafr Malik in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah on Sunday, local sources told Ma’an.

Medical sources told Ma’an that one of the injured suffered from a critical chest wound as he was shot at close range. A spokesperson for the Palestinian Red Crescent could not immediately be reached for further comment.

Locals told Ma’an that Israeli troops also detained two Palestinian youths. […]

The circumstances surrounding the clashes remained unclear as of Sunday evening. However, at least three other Palestinians were injured in by Israeli forces earlier on Sunday, during a protest in the Ramallah district in support of imprisoned Palestinian hunger strikers. … Full article

Israeli Soldiers Assault Hunger Striking Detainees In Nitzan Prison

IMEMC News – April 22, 2017

Undercover soldiers of the Israeli Prison Administration assaulted, Friday, several hunger-striking Palestinian detainees in Nitzan Prison, in Ramla, and unleashed their dogs on them, during violent searches of the detainees and their rooms.

In a statement to the press, the Palestinian Detainees’ Committee, said that the soldiers also preventing the detainees from performing Friday prayers. … Full article

Palestinian woman blinded in one eye after being shot by Israeli forces

Ma’an – April 23, 2017

JERUSALEM – A Palestinian woman was critically injured and lost sight in her left eye after being shot by a rubber-coated steel bullet, when Israeli forces violently raided her neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem to disperse a local dispute Saturday night.

Israeli forces raided Issawiya in northeastern Jerusalem amid a dispute between neighbors and indiscriminately opened fire, shooting 52-year-old Fatima Mahmoud Ubeid in the eye with a rubber-coated steel bullet, according to member of follow-up committee in al-Issawiya Muhammad Abu al-Hummus.

Fatima’s husband Rajab Ubeid told Ma’an that his wife had been sitting with their daughter and son in-law on their balcony, when he heard Fatima suddenly scream after being shot.

Rajab said that his wife was transferred to Israel’s Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem, where doctors informed them that Fatima lost sight in her left eye, and that she would require surgery for fractures in her skull caused by the bullet wound. … Full article

Study: Police-Inflicted Injuries Send More Than 50,000 To Emergency Rooms EVERY YEAR

By Lily Dane | The Daily Sheeple | April 19, 2017

A new study published by JAMA Surgery found that from 2006 to 2012, there were approximately 51,000 emergency department visits per year for patients injured by law enforcement in the United States, with this number stable over this time period.

From the press release:

During this time period, there were 355,677 ED visits for injuries by law enforcement, and frequencies did not increase over time. Of these visits, 0.3 percent (n = 1,202) resulted in death. More than 80 percent of patients were men, and the average age of patients was 32 years. Most lived in zip codes with median household income less than the national average, and 81 percent lived in urban areas. Injuries by law enforcement were more common in the South and West and less common in the Northeast and Midwest. Most injuries by law enforcement resulted from being struck, with gunshot and stab wounds accounting for fewer than seven percent. Most injuries were minor. Medically identified substance abuse was common in patients injured by police, as was mental illness.

The most common cause of injury was “being struck by or against” which accounted for approximately 77 percent of the ER visits. … continue

Changing narratives: Ex-Trump adviser Page fires back at CNN’s ‘Russia contacts’ claim

RT | April 23, 2017

“False narratives,” not the alleged Russian attempts, were the ultimate form of meddling in the election, Carter Page told CNN, striking back at the network’s anonymous report claiming the FBI has proof he and other Trump advisers interacted with Russian agents.

Carter Page made the comments to CNN on Saturday, just one day after the news outlet alleged that the FBI had gathered intelligence last summer suggesting that Russian agents attempted to infiltrate the election by using Trump’s advisers to do so.

Page was explicitly mentioned in the original CNN report, which cited unnamed US officials as sources.

Responding to the CNN report, Page noted that it said that Russia “tried” to infiltrate the campaign – which is a far cry from other terms previously used when it came to the Trump campaign’s alleged ties with Moscow.

“Remember the headlines for many, many months. The Trump campaign ‘colluded’ [with Russia] or there [were] nefarious things going on. Now they’re really reeling things back and someone is saying out there the word ‘tried’,” Page pointed out. … continue

Israel raid on Syrian camp proves support for terrorists: Analyst

Press TV – April 23, 2017

Israel has attacked a Syrian military camp near the southwestern city of Quneitra, killing three soldiers. The Tel Aviv regime regularly hits positions held by the Syrian army in the Golan Heights, claiming that the attacks are retaliatory. Syria says the raids aim to help Takfiri militants fighting against government forces.

A radio host and political commentator believes Israel has taken a very clear side in the conflict in Syria right from the beginning, adding that this latest attack proves Tel Aviv’s support for the terrorists.

“There is really nothing new under the sun here. We have seen this time and time again over the course of the last four or five years. Israel has repeatedly intervened in this conflict directly militarily and always against the Syrian Arab army, against the Syrian military and against the Syrian government,” Navid Nasr told Press TV in an interview on Sunday.

“I cannot think of a single incident where they have militarily intervened and bombed positions of the “rebels” – not one time,” he added. … Full article

West intervenes in favor of terrorists whenever army advances: Assad

Press TV – April 23, 2017

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has accused the West of interfering in Syria’s affairs in favor of terrorists whenever the army makes gains, citing Washington’s missile attack on a Syrian military airbase earlier this month as an example.

Assad made the remarks in an address to a meeting of the central committee of Syria’s ruling Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party in Damascus on Saturday, Syria’s official SANA news agency reported. He is the regional secretary of the party.

The Syrian head of state said that the April 7 US missile strike against Shayrat Airfield in Homs Province came after terrorists’ defeat in the west-central Hama Province and the army’s advance in the country’s north and east. … Full article

Western States ‘Afraid’ of an Impartial Probe Into Idlib Chemical Incident

Sputnik – April 23, 2017

The United States and other Western countries have blocked any attempt to launch an objective investigation into the chemical weapons incident in the Syrian province of Idlib, Syrian President Bashar Assad said in a recent interview with Sputnik.

“We formally sent a letter to the United Nations, we asked them in that letter to send a delegation in order to investigate what happened in Khan Shaykhun,” Assad said.

“Of course till this moment they haven’t sent anyone, because the West and the United States blocked any delegation from coming, because if they come, they will find that all their narratives about what happened in Khan Shaykhun and then the attack on Sha’irat airport was a false flag, was a lie,” he said.

Furthermore, Assad said that in the wake of the first attack in Aleppo carried out by terrorists against the army a few years ago, Damascus had asked the United Nations to send an investigation delegation “in order to prove what we said about the terrorists having used gas against our army.”

“And later many incidents happened in that way, and they didn’t send any delegation. It’s the same now,” Assad said. … continue

3 Syrian forces killed in fresh Israeli attack on military camp

Press TV – April 23, 2017

Three Syrian forces have been killed in a fresh Israeli attack on a military camp near the southwestern city of Quneitra, a military official says.

The attack hit the al-Fawwar camp on Sunday, wounding two others, the unnamed official told the French news agency AFP.

It was not clear whether the assault was an airstrike or shelling. The attack comes after Israel struck a Syrian army position in the province of Quneitra on the Golan plateau on Friday, “causing damage.”

A Syrian military source told the official SANA news agency that the Israeli aggression came after an attempt by terrorists to infiltrate military positions in Quneitra was foiled and the assailants suffered heavy losses.

The Israeli military confirmed the raid in a statement, saying it was conducted shortly after three mortar shells allegedly fired from Syria hit an open area in the northern occupied Golan Heights.

The Tel Aviv regime regularly hits positions held by the Syrian army in the Golan Heights, claiming that the attacks are retaliatory. Syria says the raids aim to help Takfiri militants fighting against government forces. … continue

Several Palestinians hospitalized over multiple settler attacks in Nablus area

Ma’an – April 22, 2017

NABLUS – Israeli forces shot and injured four Palestinians with rubber-coated steel bullets, after residents in a Palestinian village south of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank gathered to defend their homes from a mob of Israeli settlers that stormed the community. Hours later, two Palestinians were hospitalized when a group of settlers attacked Palestinians in a nearby village.

Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settler activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an that some 100 “extremist settlers” from the illegal Yitzhar settlement entered the village of Urif from its east side and proceeded to smash windows of houses, included one belonging to resident Munir al-Nouri.

He added that the settlers were about to break into the house before Palestinian villagers gathered and forced them away. … continue

Israeli Warplanes Launch from Palestinian Airspace 2 Missiles onto Syrian Military Posts in Quneitra “in Response to Stray Shells”

Al-Manar | April 21, 2017

Zionist warplanes launched from the Palestinian airspace two missile onto Syrian military posts in Khan Arnabe village in Quneitra on Friday at 6:45 p.m., causing material losses, according to Syrian sources.

The sources added that the Israeli aggression came after the Syrian army frustrated a terrorist attack launched by the terrorist group of Nusra Front on its posts in Quneitra countryside and inflicted heavy losses upon the militants.

The sources noted that such desperate moves will fail to prevent the Syrian armed forces from crushing the terrorist groups.

The Zionist army spokesman claimed that the occupation military responded to the sources of fire after “stray shells” landed in the occupied Golan Heights during the clashes between the Syrian army and the armed groups.

US should fulfil its end of nuclear deal – Tehran on Tillerson’s Iran remarks

RT | April 21, 2017

Instead of repeating accusations against Iran, the US should fulfil its obligations under the 2015 nuclear deal, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in response to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s comments on the review of the lifting of sanctions.

In his letter to the Congress on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, acknowledged that Iran was compliant to the accord, but blasted the country as “the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.”

Tillerson claimed that Tehran has been fueling various military conflicts in the Middle East, undermining US interests in countries such as Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon.

It was the first time that the Congress was informed on how Iran was fulfilling its obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), usually referred to as the Iran nuclear deal, under the Trump administration. The State Department must update US senators on the issue every 90 days. … continue

How did al-Qaeda know in advance about the Syrian air strike?

By Paul Larudee | Dissident Voice | April 21, 2017

There is an anomaly among the evidence that the Syrian chemical weapons attack at Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province on April 4, 2017 was a “false flag” operation, designed to provoke a US attack on Syria. The evidence is otherwise quite strong, as put forth by former Pentagon consultant and MIT professor Theodore Postol in his three part analysis of the declassified White House Report on the Syrian chemical weapons attack of April 4, 2017. Postol’s analysis has been widely cited as disproving the White House contention that the Syrian Air Force bombed the “rebel” controlled village with chemical weapons.

Indeed, Dr. Postol’s analysis pokes quite a few gaping holes in the White House Report, concluding that the crushed gas canister and the “crater” shown in open source videos and photographs from the site demonstrate that it could not have been delivered by air. Postol also concludes that the report is, in fact, fraudulent and was produced by the National Security Agency without the input or review of impartial intelligence professionals.

Nevertheless, Postol begs a couple of questions, the most compelling of which is how the “false flag” imposters on the ground would have known how to time their operation with the Syrian air strike that everyone admits actually took place (the Syrians and Russians alleging that only conventional weapons were used, and the Americans alleging the use of chemical weapons). In order to do this, they would have had to have advance knowledge of the attack. How would they have gotten this information? … continue

Iran’s presidential election takes predictable turn

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | April 22, 2017

The ‘known unknown’ in the fateful decision handed down on Thursday by Iran’s Guardian Council on the approved list of candidates for the forthcoming presidential election on May 19 was as regards the candidacy of former president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. That was for three main reasons. First, he is a colorful personality who occupies a unique spot in Iran’s political spectrum, which qualifies to be called ‘leftist’. Iran’s politics needs such a platform, given the nature of its problems of development.

A contestation between the Conservative Right and the Moderate Right detracts from the authenticity of the electoral arena. The paradox is that while there is a faction known as ‘reformists’ in Iran, it serves the same class interests as the conservative religious establishment. The 1978 revolution had leftist moorings, given its genesis as a popular democracy movement, but ended with the establishment of the world’s first Islamic state. And in a bitter struggle within the revolution, progressives got eliminated. It remains a hugely controversial chapter in Iran’s modern history and keeps popping up every now and then, reopening old wounds.

Second, Ahmedinejad was a rare ‘non-cleric’ president. Highly educated, intelligent, articulate and a self-confident intellectual credited with progressive outlook, he showed that a politician can have mass appeal in Iran sans the patronage of the religious establishment. Although deeply religious in his private beliefs and Spartan lifestyle, he lighted up a potential path in Iran’s evolution as a practising democracy that lay unexplored. Indeed, Iran’s progress as a modern state stands to gain if the religious establishment also becomes accountable to the people – not only to god. Did the religious establishment feel challenged by him? It seems so.

Third, in world politics today, we need a Bolivarian leader and therefore if there is no Ahmedinejad, it is a poorer world. Someone should speak up when a mother of all bombs is dropped on a hapless nation which is already at the end of its tether after years of occupation and ransacking and savagery, or when a color revolution is being insidiously fostered in faraway Venezuela. Multipolarity in world politics cannot be a fig-leaf for a concert of big powers to cover their back side. … continue

Google suppresses important news in addition to alternate media

By Wayne Madsen | Intrepid Report | April 21, 2017

Google’s now-infamous censorship programs and algorithms, built into the firm’s search engine software, are not merely suppressing alternate news sites, but also ignoring or diverting search results away from important news stories being reported by conventional news organizations. In an attempt to prioritize “reliable” news sites, Google News searches have been found to return as top stories links to a number of non-critical news subjects, including sports, travel, weather, and popular entertainment. […]

… a Washington Post story about an Oregon woman who cheered up her dying husband by telling him that Donald Trump had been impeached. Links about the same story in The Oregonian and the New York Daily News also appear under the “World” news title. Another “world” story is one in Politico about Trump opting to travel to his Bedminster, New Jersey, country club instead of his Mar-a-Lago retreat in Florida during the upcoming summer months. […]

Imagine a library, when they were the chief public repositories of information, placing domestic newspapers and magazines on shelves reserved for international periodicals. By de-indexing certain news and websites, Google searches will turn up zero results on certain queried information. It is as if a public library would have removed certain newspapers and magazines from their shelves and placed them in a locked storeroom. Of course, professional librarians would have quickly rectified such situations. … Read full article

Stop Suggesting Mandatory National Service as a Fix for America’s Problems

By Lucy Steigerwald | CounterPunch | April 21, 2017

There’s a season for it–the thinkpieces, the brave suggestions, the crawling out to the edge of the limb and saying, yes, I have the answer, we should force America’s youth to come together and serve in some collective cause.

In spite of the right’s fondness for military service and such pageantry, it’s usually the left or the more accurately, the muddy, authoritarian center that suggest this kind of thing. Progressives worry over wars, but they don’t worry enough over the civilian casualties in other countries, or the blowback in America. Sometimes they become overly concerned, instead about how poor people join the military, and rich, privileged people don’t. Sometimes they even pull up an extra deep argument, dust the dirt off of it, and say, gee, maybe the draft can stop wars! Charlie Rangel spent decades in congress trying to bring back conscription for that very reason. … continue

Iran opens up petrochemicals to world investors

Press TV – April 22, 2017

Executives of oil and gas companies from about 18 countries are attending an international conference on petrochemical industry in Tehran to explore Iran’s emerging role in global markets.

The international Iran Petrochemical Forum (IPF) opened Saturday with the participation of industry experts, traders, petrochemical producers, refiners, shipping and logistics companies as well as technology solution providers and engineering companies.

France’s oil and gas company Total and Germany’s industrial gases group Linde are leading the pack of more than 70 companies which have their nose on the ground for business in Iran. … continue

Russia backs Iran’s full membership in SCO

Press TV – April 22, 2017

Russia has lent weight to Iran joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), an emerging economic and security alliance which is being touted as the counterweight to the West’s institutions.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Iran is now ready to be a full-fledged SCO member and that negotiations will be taken up in summer to bring the Islamic Republic to the fold.

Tehran currently has an observer status in the organization which is led by China and Russia. […]

India and Pakistan joined the SCO in July 2015, giving the group added prominence and appeal. Lavrov said the SCO is about to account for 43 percent of the world’s population and 24 percent of the global GDP.

Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are other full members of the SCO. Afghanistan, Mongolia and Belarus are also observer members. … Full article

Financial Times: Russia’s oil and gas industry booming BECAUSE of sanctions

By Alexander Mercouris | The Duran | April 22, 2017

The sectoral sanctions the Western powers imposed on Russia in July 2014 because of the conflict in the Donbass continue to have paradoxical results.

The financial sanctions, which effectively prevented Russian companies from borrowing in Western financial markets, instead of causing the Russian economy to implode, have caused it to deleverage at an unprecedented rate, hugely strengthening Russia’s financial sector and the balance sheets of Russia’s companies, setting the scene for a coming investment boom.

The counter-sanctions Russia imposed prohibiting the importation of Western foodstuffs into Russia have led to a huge boom in Russia’s agriculture sector, as even the Financial Times was recently forced to admit, making Russia almost completely self-sufficient in food, and making it a major food exporter.

However perhaps the most paradoxical result of all has been in Russia’s oil and gas industry. … continue