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Ukraine ceasefire violations blamed on ‘unidentified third party’ – OSCE

RT | April 18, 2015

The fragile truce in eastern Ukraine has on several occasions been violated by an “unidentified third party,” the OSCE mission stated in its daily report, citing officers of the joint coordination center who were trying to organize a ceasefire.

The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) has witnessed three attempts by the Joint Centre for Control & Coordination (JCCC) to organize a ceasefire between Ukrainian troops and the self-proclaimed republics’ forces, according to the new report dated April 16. But within minutes after the arranged time, ceasefires were broken by a “third party,” Ukrainian and Russian officers tasked with mediating the truce told OSCE representatives.

“According to both Ukrainian Armed Forces and Russian Federation Armed Forces officers at the observation point, an unidentified ‘third party’ was provoking the two sides,” the mission’s report says.

“The SMM witnessed… [that] sporadic firing of mortars and machine guns started within a few minutes of the arranged [ceasefire] start time,” the report says. … continue

45 people killed in Saudi airstrikes on Yemen’s Sa’ada

Press TV – April 18, 2015

At least 45 civilians have been killed and over a hundred injured following Saudi airstrikes on the northwestern Yemeni province of Sa’ada.

According to reports on Saturday, the Saudi warplanes pounded targets in Sa’ada, killing and injuring scores of civilians.

Earlier in the day, Saudi airborne assaults also struck several parts of the capital city of Sana’a, including Faj Attan area and an educational center in the Tayal Khawlan district. … Full article

Saudi claim of Iran arms flow to Yemen ridiculous: Official

Press TV – April 18, 2015

A senior Iranian military official has denounced as “ridiculous” Saudi Arabia’s allegation that Tehran is sending weapons to Yemen.

“This claim is ridiculous because everyone knows that it is Saudi Arabia which has procured different weapons through the US and is using them against the oppressed Yemeni nation today,” Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Hassan Firouzabadi told reporters on Saturday.

He added that Iran supports the Yemeni people because they have stood up for their civil rights, national sovereignty and independence.

He said Tehran supports an independent Yemen and a democratic Yemeni nation, saying the Yemenis are fighting against the enemies in a united way.

Firouzabadi emphasized that if the US and Saudi Arabia make an allegation against Iran, it is a “blame game.”

Iran has in numerous occasions denied as baseless reports that Tehran is sending weaponry for the the revolutionaries in Yemen. … continue

Iran presents four – point plan on ending crisis in Yemen

Aletho News | April 18, 2015

Iran’s Ambassador to the United Nations Gholam-Ali Khoshrou on Friday submitted to the UN a four-point plan on putting an end to the ongoing bloodshed in Yemen prepared by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

The following is the full text of the foreign minister’s letter which was addressed to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon… continue

Israeli court brings 12 charges against MP Khalida Jerrar

Ma’an – 18/04/2015

320544_345x230BETHLEHEM – An Israeli military court has brought 12 charges against Palestinian lawmaker Khalida Jerrar in connection to her membership of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, an international rights group said.

Having been detained and interrogated since Apr. 2, Jerrar was charged by the Israeli military prosecution on Wednesday, according to a report released Friday by Amnesty International.

Charges included membership of an illegal organization, participation in protests, and incitement to kidnap Israeli soldiers.

A review of the charges against her will take place on Apr. 29, the report said.

Jerrar’s defense team argued there was no basis to the incitement charge and that it was vindictive, according to Amnesty’s report.

The majority of Palestinian political organizations are considered illegal by Israel, including those that make up the PLO, and association with such parties is often used as grounds for imprisonment, according to prisoners’ rights group Addameer. … continue

Three Palestinians Injured as Israeli Forces Open Fire in Gaza

IMEMC News & Agencies | April 18, 2015

Israeli forces shot and injured three Palestinians east of Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Friday.

Witnesses said that Israeli forces deployed along the Gazan border opened fire on the Palestinians in the al-Sanati area in Khan Younis. […]

In March alone, there were a total of 38 incidents of shootings, incursions into the Strip, and arrests, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR). … Full article

Prisoners’ day at weekly Bil’in demonstration

IMG_3543-e1429309205740-450x600International Solidarity Movement | April 17, 2015

Bil’in, Occupied Palestine – Over 300 people attended the Prisoners’ Day demonstration in Bil’in. The Israeli army fired endless amounts of teargas and shot one person in the chest with a live ammunition.

After the prayer, protesters marched towards the apartheid wall and the illegal settlement of Modi’in, situated just outside of Bil’in. A truck loaded with a sound system led the chanting crowd. Most were either waving Palestinian flags, holding up  banners in support of the Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli prisons to mark Prisoners’ Day, or were holding posters of Bassem, a local who was killed six years ago by the Israeli army. As the march got closer to the wall, Israeli forces fired over 50 rounds of teargas canisters towards the protesters. The area was heavily clouded with this gas during most of the afternoon, which caused many to suffer from its inhalation. The shooting of this teargas also caused the dry grass between the olive trees to repeatedly catch fire.

During the protest, one person was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet, while a 17 years old boy was shot in the chest with live ammunition. He was immediately taken to hospital by the ambulance. His condition is stable.

The 17th April is Prisoners’ Day in Palestine. Thousands of Palestinians are arrested arbitrarily on a daily basis by the Israeli forces, despite prohibition by international law. … continue

Hands Off The Lancet

On 31 March 2015, 396 professors and doctors, led by Professor Sir Mark Pepys, submitted a complaint to the Senior Management and Board of Reed Elsevier concerning “egregious editorial misconduct at The Lancet that is unacceptable in general and also gravely violates your own published Editorial Policies”.

The signatories include 5 Nobel laureates, 4 knights and a Lord. 193 (49%) of the signatories are from the US, 95 (24%) from Israel, 33 (8%) from the UK, 26 from France, 19 from Canada, 12 from Australia with smaller numbers from Belgium (3), Brazil (3), Italy (2), Denmark (2), Mexico (1), Panama (1), South Africa (1), Sweden (1) and Switzerland (1).

The complaint makes brief mention of The Lancet’s publication of the paper by Wakefield, linking MMR vaccine to autism, which was shown subsequently to be fraudulent, but is chiefly concerned with The Lancet Editor-in-Chief, Richard Horton, and his alleged “persistent and inappropriate misuse of The Lancet to mount a sustained political vendetta concerning the Israel-Palestinian conflict, to promote his own well known personal political agenda”.

The centre of the complaint concerns “An open letter for the people of Gaza” by Manduca and 23 others, which was published online by The Lancet on 22nd July and in hard copy on 2nd August 2014, 14 days into “Operation Protective Edge”, Israel’s 50 day attack on Gaza.

The complainants consider that this letter, and The Lancet’s handling of the controversy it aroused, breached both the Journal’s own policies and the Code of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines for Journal Editors issues by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).

The complaint ends by requiring “Reed Elsevier to behave ethically by retracting the Manduca letter, apologizing for its publication and ensuring that any further editorial malpractice at The Lancet is prevented”. … continue

For the Conference on the Israel Lobby: Press Blackout at the Press Club

By Ralph Nader | Dissident Voice | April 17, 2015

Following the heavy coverage of AIPAC’s (the virulently pro-Israeli government lobby) multi-day annual Washington convention in March, the mainstream media might have been interested for once in covering alternative viewpoints like those discussed at the April 10th conference “The Israel Lobby: Is it Good for the US? Is it Good for Israel?” Fairness and balance in reporting should produce at least some coverage of such an event.

Organized by the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, which was launched about thirty years ago by a British Army Officer who served in World War II and two retired U.S. Ambassadors to countries in the Middle East, the day-long program at the prestigious National Press Club should have been intriguing to reporters. After all, are they not interested in important, taboo-challenging presentations on a critical dimension of U.S. foreign and military policy?

The presenters were much more newsworthy than most of the speakers at the AIPAC convention who redundantly restated the predictable AIPAC line. … continue

GOP presidential hopeful ratchets up anti-Iran rhetoric, seeks military action

Press TV – April 18, 2015

US Republican presidential hopefuls have ratcheted up their rhetoric against Tehran and denounced the Obama administration’s efforts to reach an agreement with Iran over its nuclear energy program, with Senator Marco Rubio calling on Washington to bomb Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.

Rubio, the first-term senator from Florida a candidate for the 2016 presidential elections, told participants at a Republican Party reception in New Hampshire on Friday that the world, particularly the Middle East, is in chaos because of President Barack Obama’s policies.

The Cuban American politician, known as an ultimate opportunist within the party, warned of a coming terrorist attack on US soil and even raised the specter of Iranian missiles striking the United States.

“We may have to decide at some point what is worse: a military strike against Iran or a nuclear-armed Iran,” the 43-year-old said during a question-and-answer session. … continue

CIA Director: ‘War on Terror May Never End’

By Brandon Martinez | Non-Aligned Media | April 17, 2015

The militarist Anglo CIA director John Brennan has said that the ‘war on terror,’ a mythical Zionist ideology adopted by pro-Zionist Western statesmen, may go on forever.

“CIA Director John Brennan said Americans should expect the war on terror to continue as long as evil people have access to lethal technologies and mass communication,” reported the Defense One website. He made the ludicrous comments during a Q&A session at Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics.

The irony of the CIA chief’s remarks is astounding, considering that the USA is the biggest state perpetrator and sponsor of terrorism in the world, having caused the deaths of millions since the end of World War II in various wars and proxy campaigns instigated by Washington.

But Brennan’s assertion that the ‘war on terror’ may last forever is true so long as Washington can fabricate new “bad guys” and boogeymen every few years. The WOT is nothing more than a heinous racket and theatrical PR stunt that was designed to provide the war industry with an excuse to make constant war on elusive, manufactured, and oftentimes entirely fictional enemies.

‘Terrorism’ is a concept, so warring against it has no foreseeable conclusion, especially when the premise is just a giant lie to hoodwink the masses.

US military instructors in Ukraine undermine Minsk peace deal – Moscow

RT | April 17, 2015

Despite voicing its support for the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis, the US is actually working to undermine the Minsk peace deal, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said, commenting on the deployment of American military instructors to Ukraine.

The Russian Foreign Ministry is “gravely concerned” by the fact that military instructors from the US, UK and Canada will be training the troops from Ukraine’s National Guard, stressed the ministry’s spokesman, Aleksandr Lukashevich.

“This begs the question: Do they – in Washington, London and Ottawa – understand whom are we talking about? As they are the same Ukrainian ultra-nationalists from volunteer battalions, who wore Nazi emblems and blurred themselves with the blood of women, children and the elderly during reprisal raids in Donbass [south-eastern Ukraine],” he said.

“What will these foreign military experts teach them – how to continue killing those, who speak Russian?” the spokesman wondered.

Moscow views the information that the National Guard training program will include exercises with Western-style weaponry and hardware as a possible “first step towards the supply of modern US arms to Ukraine, which the ‘party of war’ in Kiev is so eager to get its hands on,” he said. … continue

Personal details of murdered journalist & ex-MP found posted on Ukrainian ‘enemies of state’ database

RT | April 17, 2015

The journalist and ex-MP who were gunned down in Kiev this week were on an ‘enemies of the state’ database – a social media website supported by the aide to Ukraine’s interior minister. The bloggers also have a Twitter account to share ‘successes.’

The volunteer-made website calling itself ‘Mirotvorec’ (Peacekeeper), posts very thorough and comprehensive information on anyone who happens to make the list – journalists, activists, MPs opposing the current Kiev authorities’ policies and rebels fighting against the government in the east. The posts include their addresses, social media account links, a substantial biography and any mentions in the Ukrainian press. There is also labeling involved e.g. “terrorist; supporter of federalization” and other tags.

The website indicates that politician Oleg Kalashnikov’s and journalist Oles Buzina’s details were published on the site no more than 48 hours before both were found dead.

The website has its own social media account, which frequently tweets cryptic messages of “successful missions.” … continue

Hillary: a Disaster in the Making

By Robert Fantina | CounterPunch | April 17, 2015

25f3a-hillary - CopyOne longs for a candidate for president of the United States possessing those rare traits of statesmanship, honesty and integrity. One looks back in vain to see such an example, and the near and far horizons offer no such hope, either.

We will take no time looking at the GOP (Generally Opposed to Progress) candidates, either announced or still keeping everyone on the edge of their seats as they ‘decide’ whether or not to toss their hat into the soon-to-be-crowded ring. Most, including Florida Governor and brother of one of the nation’s worst presidents ever, Jeb Bush, and New Jersey Governor, the obnoxious blowhard Chris Christie, have already decided, but enjoy the spectacle of endless conjecture. So they wait.

But on the Democratic side, no less a worthy than Hillary Rodham Clinton, lawyer, former First Lady, former senator, former Secretary of State, has slow-balled her tattered hat into an otherwise empty ring. Her handlers claim, disingenuously, that she expects competition, and a hard-fought primary campaign. Who, one wants to know, is going to take her on? She has a war chest rumored to hold $2.5 billion, more than twice what Republican Mitt Romney and Democrat Barack Obama each spent on their campaigns in 2012; the total is more than their campaign expenditures combined. The only other potential candidate with anything close to her name recognition is Vice President Joe Biden, and it will be impossible for him to generate the puzzling enthusiasm that seems to follow Mrs. Clinton. And there does not appear to be anyone waiting in the wings to grab the spotlight from her, as Mr. Obama did in 2008.

So, while her various aides struggle to avoid any appearance of invincibility, let us all make the assumption that Mrs. Clinton will be the nominee, and work from there. What possible objections can anyone from the moderate to liberal political philosophy spectrum have to her nomination? Well, this writer asks: how much time do you have? … continue

Nuclear deal or no nuclear deal? That is the question

By Catherine Shakdam | RT | April 17, 2015

As neocons are working to destroy Iran’s tentative nuclear deal, US President Obama will have to either reinvent America’s policy or give in to Israel’s lobby and Saudi Arabia’s paranoiac fear of Shia Islam.

If months of intense political wrangling were crowned earlier this April by the confirmation that Iran and the P5+1 countries reached a tentative framework agreement over one of the most contentious issue of the past three decades – Iran’s nuclear dossier – it appears such diplomatic respite could prelude to a dangerous political standoff.

If by any account Iran’s nuclear negotiations were going to be trying, especially since Tehran’s nuclear ambitions do not necessarily sit at the center of this internationally staged quarrel, Israel’s neocon war campaign against the Islamic Republic risks pushing the world toward yet another lengthy conflict- a global one at that.

With the fires of war already burning bright in the MENA region – Middle East and North Africa – the fall of another domino could prove one too many for the word to handle. From a purely geostrategic standpoint a war with Iran, however pleasing to Tel Aviv’s avid warmongers, would likely force Western powers and their Arab allies to commit more military power than they can handle. Bearing in mind that the US has already committed troops and resources to Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and of course Ukraine, how much farther can imperial America really stretch?

However grand the US might think itself to be, and however solid the US might think its alliances to be, Washington has yet to win a war. Claiming victory as George W. Bush did in Iraq on May 1, 2003 did not exactly make it so. And though America basked in the glorious light of its military supremacy over the “Iraqi enemy,” its joy was short-lived as reality soon came knocking. And though starting a war might seem an easy enough business for neocon America, it is really the art of peace this belligerent nation has failed to master so far. … continue

Record number of anti-Muslim acts in France

APA | April 16, 2015

Anti-Muslims acts have hit a record high in the first trimester of 2015, according to the head of the French National Observatory against Islamophobia, APA reports quoting Anadolu Agency.

Abdallah Zekri, head of the Observatory said in a statement that anti-Muslim acts rose by 500 percent, compared to the same period in 2011. […]

“All this happens without any reaction from politicians, who, instead of denouncing, try to find excuses,” he said. … Full article

Australia mosque comes under 2nd attack this year

1f58b02b-3f87-4dde-b707-e80b85b9e537Press TV – April 17, 2015

A mosque in the northeastern Australian state of Queensland has come under arson attack for the second time this year.

Fire broke out early Friday in the mosque in the Darling Downs region’s Toowoomba city.

Reports indicate the attack seriously damaged the mosque.

Australian police sources say an investigation has been launched into the incident. There are currently no suspects. … Full article

Russia will insist on creating nuclear weapon free zone in Middle East at NPT Conference

TASS | April 17, 2015

MOSCOW – Russia will insist on establishing a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East at the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) Review Conference in New York, head of the Department for non-proliferation and weapons control at the Russian Foreign Ministry Mikhail Ulyanov said on Friday.

“For us, a task will be to overcome the stalemate in creating a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East,” Ulyanov said. “This follows from our status as one of NPT depository states,” he added. … Full article

South African companies boycott G4S over links to Israeli prisons

MEMO | April 17, 2015

As many as 20 South African companies, including manufacturers and chain stores, have ended their security contracts with G4S in protest at the company’s links to Israeli prisons and detention centres. The news was announced by the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

Speaking at a meeting at the Embassy of Palestine in Pretoria on Thursday, a spokesperson for the BDS movement said that the move comes as the Palestinians are commemorating Prisoner Day and Israel escalates its crimes against prisoners and detainees in its jails. The spokesperson pointed out that G4S has ignored repeated calls to stop providing Israeli prisons with security technology and services.

The movement applauded South African solidarity committees and their peaceful efforts which led to this achievement and has caused the British security company to lose nearly 7 million Rands a year. … Full article

#PalestinianPrisonerDay: Protesters target G4S London HQ over Israeli ‘torture’ complicity

RT | April 17, 2015

Protestors gathered outside the London office of G4S on Friday to highlight the private security firm’s role in incarcerating Palestinian prisoners on behalf of Israel.

Organizers demanded the release of several prisoners, including Palestinian MP Khalida Jarrar and more than a hundred child detainees.

They also highlighted the ill treatment of prisoners, including alleged incidents of torture.

The protest in London takes place as part of an international day of action to mark Palestinian Prisoners Day, an annual expression of solidarity with Palestinians detained by Israel. … continue

20 Palestinian journalists being held in Israeli jails

Ma’an – 17/04/2015

palestinian-journalist-with-israeli-soldiersGAZA CITY – Israeli forces arrested a Palestinian journalist on Wednesday after raiding his home in Nablus, bringing the total number of journalists imprisoned by Israel to 20.

Amin Abdul Aziz Abu Wardeh, 48, is the general manager of the Asda news website, the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms said.

Abu Wardeh’s wife told MADA that Israeli forces raided their home at around 2 a.m. and interrogated Amin in a separate room for over an hour before arresting him.

They also seized three laptops and a cellphone.

Abu Wardeh had previously been held in administrative detention for nearly a year after being arrested in November 2011.

According to the Union of Palestinian Radios and Televisions there are now 20 Palestinian journalists being held in Israeli prisons, six of whom were detained in 2015 alone.

The longest serving journalist is reporter for the Sawt al-Haq wa al-Hurriya newspaper, Mahmoud Moussa Issa, who has been imprisoned since 1994.

Palestinian Shot In The Eye In Jerusalem

IMEMC News | April 16, 2015

A young Palestinian man was shot in the eye by an Israeli rubber-coated metal bullet, on Wednesday evening, and three others shot in the legs, in the el-‘Eesawiyya town, south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in occupied East Jerusalem.

The Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan (Silwanic) has reported that Suleiman Mahmoud at-Tarbi, 20, was walking in the town when the soldiers invaded it, and clashed with local youths.

Member of the Follow-up Committee in Silwan, Mohammad Abu Al-Hummus, said at-Tarbi left his home heading to a local shop, and had no idea the soldiers were going to invade the town. … continue

Hezbollah likens Saudi aggression on Yemen to Israeli atrocities in Gaza

Press TV – April 16, 2015

79011f57-0f77-4f78-b2ec-9c5f2ee548e3Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah has blasted the ongoing Saudi military aggression against Yemen, comparing the move to the Israeli atrocities in the besieged Gaza Strip.

“What Saudi Arabia is committing [in Yemen] is identical to what Israel commits in Gaza,” Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Naim Qassem said in a Thursday interview with France 24.

Israel has blockaded the Gaza Strip for over seven years, causing a humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian enclave. The Israeli regime has also launched three wars on Gaza, the latest of which came in summer 2014, when nearly 2,200 Palestinians were killed and over 11,100 others injured.

Qassem said the Saudi war “is about attacking infrastructure and shelling civilians.” … continue

Saudi warplanes bomb scientific center in Yemeni capital

Press TV – April 16, 2015

Saudi warplanes have bombarded a scientific center in the Yemeni capital, but there have been no immediate reports of casualties

The latest Saudi airstrike targeted the Abu Nashtan scientific center in Sana’a’s Arhab district on late Thursday.

Saudi warplanes also launched rocket attacks on the Monabeh region in Yemen’s northern province of Sa’ada.

Meanwhile, the death toll from a late Wednesday Saudi airstrike on a bridge and a gas station in the region of Houth in the northwestern province of Amran rose to 33. … Full article

Uprooted & evicted: World Bank-funded projects force millions off their land

RT | April 17, 2015

World Bank ventures in less developed countries are hurting the people the organization has sworn to protect, with almost four million people across the globe left homeless, forcefully evicted and relocated as a result of World Bank-funded projects.

A probe by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which examined World Bank’s records in 14 countries, discovered that some 3.4 million of the “most vulnerable people” were forced off their land in the last decade. … continue

Venezuela Tops Latin America in Military Spending Cuts, Slashes Arms Budget by 34%

By Lucas Koerner | Venezuelanalysis | April 16, 2015

Caracas  – According to a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Venezuela reduced its military budget by 34 percent in 2014, leading the the region in arms spending cuts.

Venezuela is followed by Uruguay, which decreased its military spending by 11 percent over the past year.

In contrast, United States political allies Paraguay and Mexico led the region in upping military spending, raising their military budgets by 13 and 11 percent, respectively. … continue

Major Progressive Tax Reforms in Venezuela Start to Bear Fruit

By Rachel Boothroyd | Venezuelanalysis | April 15, 2015

Caracas – Latest figures in Venezuela show that the country’s total tax revenue almost doubled in the first three months of 2015 thanks to government efforts to tighten up a progressive taxation system over the past 6 months. […]

Last year’s restructure included the implementation of a luxury goods tax for the purchase of items such as champagne and yachts, as well as a 200% increase on tax for conglomerates. Other changes included the introduction of a streamlined process for collecting business tax, as well as the elimination of an exemption clause on income tax for foundations, associations and cooperatives which had become a major form of tax evasion. Banks and security companies were also prevented from adjusting the amount of tax that they pay to annual inflation rates. … Full article

Stop Corporate Welfare Kings

By Ralph Nader | CounterPunch | April 17, 2015

“Tax day” comes and goes each year, but unfortunately, the systemic issues that plague American taxpayers linger on without resolution well past the mid-April deadline.

The U.S. tax code has long been manipulated by corporate lobbyists and their corporate tax attorneys. (President Jimmy Carter once called the loophole-ridden tax laws “a disgrace to the human race.”) A primary purpose of these perforations is to arrange the law and regulations so that certain categories of profit-rich companies can avoid paying their fair share to Uncle Sam.

In many states, it is a literal race to the bottom for elected officials to offer corporations sweeter tax deals to keep jobs in their locality — see the 2013 Boeing controversy in the state of Washington, in which the aerospace industry, much of which is made up of Boeing, was awarded $8.7 billion in tax breaks over 16 years to produce the 777X jetliner in-state. Notably, Boeing paid zero in federal income tax that year — along with many other major U.S. corporations such as GE and Verizon. Some of these Fortune 500 companies even get a rebate check! … continue

Fast Track Bill Would Legitimize White House Secrecy and Clear the Way for Anti-User Trade Deals

By Jeremy Malcolm and Maira Sutton | EFF | April 16, 2015

Following months of protest, Congress has finally put forth bicameral Fast Track legislation today to rush trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) through Congress. Sens. Orrin Hatch and Ron Wyden, and Rep. Paul Ryan, respectively, introduced the bill titled the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015. With Fast Track, lawmakers will be shirking their constitutional authority over trade policy, letting the White House and the U.S. Trade Representative pass Internet rules in back room meetings with corporate industry groups. If this passes, lawmakers would only have a small window of time to conduct hearings over trade provisions and give a yea-or-nay vote on ratification of the agreement without any ability to amend it before they bind the United States to its terms. … continue

US-NATO Antics in the Nuclear Playground

By BRIAN CLOUGHLEY | CounterPunch | April 17, 2015

The commander of US-NATO forces, the vigorously vocal General Breedlove, stated on April 7 that the military alliance’s planners “have been working tirelessly to enhance NATO’s Response Force and implement the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, and today our progress is manifested in the rapid deployments we see happening in locations across the Alliance.”

Breedlove is the man who declared on March 5 that Russia had sent combat troops and massive quantities of military equipment into Ukraine. He said that President Putin had “upped the ante” in eastern Ukraine by deploying “well over a thousand combat vehicles, Russian combat forces, some of their most sophisticated air defense, battalions of artillery.”  His military opinion was that “What is clear is that right now, it is not getting better. It is getting worse every day.”

He spoke absolute drivel, because the ceasefire between Ukrainian forces and separatists in the east of the country was working, albeit shakily, and things were quietening down. The last thing that was needed was provocation. Silence and, or at the most, calm, reasoned comments were essential if both sides were to be encouraged to cool it.

But this man, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, the man who has the trust of the American president, the prime nuclear button-shover, told a deliberate lie intended to increase tension. … continue

US Paratroopers Arrive in Ukraine as Fighting Intensifies in Donbass

Sputnik | 14.04.2015

After what could essentially be called a 1,100 mile military parade through Eastern Europe, US paratroopers of the 173rd Airborne Brigade have arrived in Ukraine to commence Operation Fearless Guardian.

It comes as Ukrainian hacking group CyberBerkut released a long list of foreign military inspectors set to arrive in Ukraine in April.

The convoy, consisting of 50 paratroops and 25 vehicles, disembarked from Vicenza, Italy. After traveling through Austria, as well as NATO allies Germany and Poland, the military caravan arrived in Yavoriv, Ukraine on Friday.

“This assistance is part of our ongoing efforts to help sustain Ukraine’s defense and internal security operations,” Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Lainez told the Hill when the operation was first announced.

Operation Fearless Guardian is the codename given to US efforts to train the Ukrainian National Guard. Spanning a six-month period, the exercises will begin later this month. While 300 US soldiers will take part, the convoy delivered equipment as well. … continue

NATO plans amount to violation of NPT: Russian envoy

Press TV – April 16, 2015

Russia says the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is preparing the ground for the use of nuclear weapons by non-nuclear countries in contradiction to the Western military alliance’s obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

“NATO, contrary to the obligations taken under the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, is still conducting preparations for the use of nuclear weapons by countries that are non-nuclear states,” Alexander Grushko, Russia’s envoy to NATO, said at the Fourth Moscow International Security Conference on Thursday.

The NPT, which was ratified in 1970, constitutes the cornerstone of global efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and to open up access to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Non-nuclear signatories to the treaty have agreed not to seek to develop or acquire nuclear arms. … continue

What the Hell Are We Doing in Yemen?

By Sheldon Richman | Free Association | April 16, 2015

The U.S. government has charged into another civil war in the Middle East. When you find yourself repeatedly asking, “Will they ever learn?” the answer may be that the decision-makers have no incentive to do things differently. What looks like failure may be the intended outcome. Quagmires have their benefits — to the ruling elite — if American casualties are minimized.

The Obama administration is assisting Saudi Arabia in its bombing of Yemen, creating — in concert with the Saudi embargo — a humanitarian catastrophe in the Middle East’s poorest country. Civilians are dying, and what infrastructure the country has is being destroyed.

Why? Secretary of State John Kerry says the United States won’t “stand by while the region is destabilized.” Kerry is a veteran, and presumably a student, of America’s Indochina war. So he must know that bombing is a terrible way to prevent destabilization. Kerry isn’t stupid — but that means he’s a liar and a demagogue. … continue

Syrian Rebels Caught in ‘False-Flag’ Kidnapping

Consortium News | April 16, 2015

In August 2013, when the U.S. government almost went to war in Syria over a Sarin attack, suspicions that it was a rebel “false-flag” were ridiculed. But new disclosures about a rebel role in kidnapping NBC’s Richard Engel several months earlier show the rebels knew such propaganda tricks, says Robert Parry. – Read article

FDA So Slow to Respond to GAO Recommendations about Secret Food Additives that It’s like not Responding at all

By Noel Brinkerhoff and Steve Straehley | AllGov | April 16, 2015

In 2010, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) examined the process used by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for regulating food additives and came up with six ways the FDA could improve this function. Five years later, FDA officials have satisfied only one of the GAO suggestions.

“It’s really clear that we have no basis to make almost any conclusions about the safety of the current food supply,” Laura MacCleery, an attorney with the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer advocacy group, told the Center for Public Integrity. “We don’t know what people are eating.”

The GAO report even stated that the FDA’s oversight process does not help ensure the safety of all new food ingredients, and it criticized companies’ ability to use new added ingredients deemed generally recognized as safe (GRAS) without informing federal food regulators.

GRAS came about as a way to exempt simple ingredients in long use, such as table salt, from FDA review after food regulations were strengthened in the 1950s. However more items are added to the list each year as manufacturers use the GRAS list as a loophole to avoid having their products evaluated by the FDA. … continue

Two Ukraine journalists killed in Kiev, Poroshenko suspects ‘provocation’

RT | April 16, 2015

ukraine-opposition-journalist-dead.siOpposition journalist and writer Oles Buzina was assassinated near his house in Kiev. The police believe it could have been a contract killing. It follows hot on the heels of the vicious murder of another Ukrainian journalist, Sergey Sukhobok.

Oles Buzina, 45, oppositional journalist and former editor-in-chief of Segodnya newspaper, was killed in the yard of his house in the Ukrainian capital on Thursday, according to the counselor of the Minister of Internal Affairs.

MP Anton Gerashenko wrote on his Facebook page that unknown people shot at Buzina from a car with Latvian or Belarusian license plates, adding, “The killing of anti-Maidan eyewitnesses seems to be going on.”

Buzina, author of several controversial books, recently quit his newspaper job, explaining he had worked under heavy censorship, had no rights to influence human resources policy, or to “talk to the press or participate in talk shows.” … continue

Series of ‘bizarre suicides’ & murders: Former Ukrainian MP shot dead in Kiev

RT | April 16, 2015

​A former Ukrainian MP and active anti-Maidan activist, Oleg Kalashnikov, has been killed in his flat in Kiev. His killing is the latest in a series of odd deaths plaguing former government officials and ex-President Yanukovich’s party members.

The 52-year-old was found dead at his residence in Kiev on Wednesday evening. His death was “caused by a gunshot,” the Interior Ministry said in a statement announcing a police inquiry. Ukraine’s criminal investigation chief Vasily Paskal, took the investigation under personal control and promised to share motives and the preliminary results of the probe with reporters as soon as they become available. … continue

Iran has the right to protect itself

By Vladimir KOZIN | Oriental Review | April 16, 2015

On April 13, 2015 Vladimir Putin lifted Russia’s  ban on shipping S-300 antiaircraft defensive missile systems to Iran, self-imposed in 2010. Moscow and Tehran originally signed a contract to supply these systems back in 2007. At the time, the idea was  to sell a number of Russia-manufactured S-300 divisions to Iran.

The term “self-imposed ban” is used here deliberately. UN Security Council Resolution 1929 from June 9, 2010 placed no restrictions of any kind on transferring S-300 systems to Iran. Paragraph 8 of the resolution introduced a “weapons” embargo on direct and indirect shipments to Iran of “… any battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, large calibre artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles or missile systems as defined for the purpose of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms …” S-300 antiaircraft systems, whether air-defense or antiballistic, are not mentioned in the resolution in any way. In addition, that UN Register does not stipulate that countries that manufacture air- or missile-defense systems should be banned from shipping them to any other states.

The negative reaction to Moscow’s April 13 decision from the US and many of its NATO allies, as well as Israel, raises a lot of questions. It seems almost as though they inhabit a different universe and know nothing of the real world. … continue

Ed Miliband And The Jews

By Gilad Atzmon | April 15, 2015

Just a few month ago, in a speech in front of the Labour Friends Of Israel Lobby group, Ed Miliband – the Labour party’s current leader, produced one of the most embarrassing statements in the history of modern British politics:

“I want you to know”, Miliband told The Lobby, “that if I become Prime Minister in less than a year’s time, I will be proud to do so as a friend of Israel, a Jew and, most of all, someone who feels so proud to be part of the community gathered here today.” 

I guess that many British people would actually expect their Labour party candidate to be primarily a ‘proud Brit’ as well as a friend of the Kingdom. I would have loved to believe that such a clumsy statement on Miliband’s part would be enough for the Labour party to expel the man from its ranks. After all, the above statement proves that more than anything, Ed is much more ‘Blue & White’ than ‘simply Red,’ let alone a British patriot.

Surprise surprise, Labour didn’t react at all. Even the British public, known for its tolerance, was very forgiving. Funny enough, it is the Jews who actually dumped Ed Miliband, they do not believe him nor do they like him at all. … continue

FBI won’t release video of police shooting of black teenager

Press TV – April 16, 2015

ac355afa-6151-4ad4-b125-7da5c1c1e746The FBI and Chicago police department are refusing to release a video of the shooting death of a 17-year-old black man, who was killed by a police officer last year.

Chicago police and the FBI are withholding the dash-cam video because it is “central to their investigation,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was quoted as saying by the Associated Press on Wednesday.

Authorities said they were “confident this video will be released at the appropriate time when their investigation is complete.”

Laquan McDonald was shot 16 times in October 2014 when he allegedly brandished a knife and refused to drop it when confronted by officers. The city has approved a $5 million settlement with the teen’s family.

Some members of the Chicago City Council fear releasing the video could spark the kind of angry protests seen elsewhere in the United States in recent months. … continue

Africa’s Cuba: Eritrea Endures 13 Years of Illegal Occupation and Sanctions

By Elias Amare | Black Agenda Report | April 15, 2015

Monday, April 13, was the 13th anniversary of the ruling of the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC), and the continued illegal occupation of sovereign Eritrean territories by Ethiopia since then. Also, it’s been well over five years since the US engineered unjust sanctions at the UN Security Council against Eritrea in late 2009.

In a “Global Action Day of Resistance,” Eritreans and their friends worldwide held rallies, online petitions, cycling tours, etc., to protest these injustices against Eritrea, a country in the Horn of Africa that many progressive analysts are recognizing as the “Cuba of Africa.” … continue

Saudi Mercenaries and the Starvation of Yemen

By Thomas C. Mountain | Black Agenda Report | April 15, 2015

The Saudi military is almost entirely staffed by mercenaries. The Saudi jets bombing an air defenseless Yemen are piloted by Pakistanis. Its mid and low level officers are mainly from Jordan and, most ominously for its ability to actually launch a ground invasion, its rank and file soldiers are almost entirely from Yemen.

That’s right, the Saudi army is packed full of Yemeni cannon fodder, which helps explains its ignominious failure in its war with Yemen’s Houthi’s in 2009.

Does anyone really believe that the Yemeni soldiers for hire in the Saudi army are going to willingly, never mind effectively, invade their own country, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake, all the while killing, and being killed by, their Yemeni brothers and sisters? … continue

U.S. Congress Torpedoes the Iran Deal

By Kaveh L. Afrasiabi | Iran Review | April 15, 2015

The buzz word in Washington around the Iran Nuclear Review Bill that was approved unanimously by a Senate committee is “compromise,” parroted even by the White House spokesperson who has let it known that President Obama will endorse it despite some reservations. But, in reality, “compromise” is a code word for “concession,” i.e., appeasement of the anti-Iran hawks in U.S. Congress, as well as Israel.

The big question is, of course, what is behind Obama’s flip flop, notwithstanding his repeated warnings to U.S. Congress to stay out of Iran negotiations or face his veto power? The answer to this question should search beyond the facade of executive versus legislative ‘turf war’ on the Iran nuclear issue and touch the underlying root cause — in U.S.’s geostrategic interest to keep the furnace of Iran nuclear standoff alive instead of  extinguishing it.

Indeed, why let a good thing go, perhaps some Washington ‘insiders’ are asking quietly, given the multiple benefits of the nuclear crisis — in sustaining U.S.’s hegemony in Persian Gulf, containing the Iranian power, and appeasing Israel’s need to keep the limelight on Iran indefinitely. … continue

Israel cheers as Obama retreats before Congress on Iran deal

RT | April 15, 2015

Israel said it is pleased with a compromise bill being floated on the Hill, which would give US legislators oversight in the Iran nuclear deal. The White House agreed to the bill adopted by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“We are certainly happy this morning, this is an achievement for Israeli policy… [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s] speech in Congress … was decisive in achieving this law, which is a very important element in preventing a bad deal, or at least, in improving the agreement and making it more reasonable,” Yuval Steinitz, Netanyahu’s intelligence, foreign relations and strategic minister, told Israel Radio. … continue

Deindustrialization, NATO-Style

Sixteenth Anniversary of the War Against Yugoslavia: Zastava

By GREGORY ELICH | CounterPunch | April 15, 2015

One of the main features of NATO’s bombing campaign against Yugoslavia in 1999 was the deliberate targeting of factories and manufacturing plants. As a member of a delegation travelling throughout Yugoslavia shortly after the end of the war, I could readily see that such targeting had been methodical and thorough. Wherever we went, there was no military value in the facilities that NATO chose to destroy. Indeed, the common criterion was that state-owned and worker cooperative factories and plants that supported many people were singled out. The apparent intent was to drive much of the population into destitution and make people more amenable to demands to install government eager to do the West’s bidding.

The largest and most significant factory complex in the Balkans was Zastava, producing over 95 percent of the automobiles operating in Yugoslavia. Centrally located in the city of Kragujevac, this diverse factory complex also manufactured tools and machinery.

Workers at Zastava recognized that it was far too tempting a target for NATO planners to ignore. Determined to save their factory, they decided to form a human shield by occupying the factory complex around the clock. … continue

The Ascent of Hillary, the $.2.5 Billion “People’s” Candidate

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford | April 15, 2015

The Democratic Party has become a desert where nothing grows – except the One Percent’s hold on the party machinery.

No need for primaries; Hillary Clinton’s rich contributors have already locked up the nomination. “Wall Street is determined that there will be no serious Democratic deviation from the corporate agenda set by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.” – Read article

High Court backs university’s decision to ‘postpone’ Israel conference

MEMO | April 15, 2015

Organisers of a conference on Israel and international law have failed in their bid to overturn a decision by the University of Southampton to cancel the event, previously scheduled for this weekend.

On Tuesday, a High Court judge in London rejected the organisers’ application for a judicial review, with the university claiming that the conference had in fact merely been “postponed” due to “security concerns.”

Pro-Israel groups have been pressuring Southampton for months to stop the academic gathering. The legal challenge was launched earlier this month, following the university authorities’ decision to cancel the conference on the grounds of “risks to safety and public order.”

The news comes as a blow to organisers and their supporters, in what has been described by campaigners as an unprecedented attack on academic freedom in the UK.

In a statement released following the High Court decision, organisers expressed disappointment at the decision, but promised that the conference would ultimately take place.

We must continue to protest publicly against the university decision, and use the moral strength of our cause to ensure freedom of speech and academic debate – for our own sakes as well as for others.

In response to efforts by the Jewish Leadership Council, Board of Deputies of British Jews, and Zionist Federation to stop the conference, more than 900 academics, including dozens from Oxbridge, Russell Group universities and Ivy League schools, signed a statement of support.

The list of signatories included more than 30 researchers, lecturers and professors at Southampton itself, with senior officials referring unhappy staff to a “HR hotline.” In addition, more than 10,500 people have signed a public petition condemning the cancellation, and supporting free speech.

The backlash has already prompted a number of Israel advocates to publicly question the wisdom of campaigning for the cancellation of an academic conference. A piece in Ha’aretz described the affair as “a tactical and a moral defeat” for Israel’s defenders.

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