By Yvonne Ridley | MEMO | December 8, 2016
As wildfires tore through large swathes of the land a week or so ago, some Israeli politicians used the disaster as an opportunity to fan the flames of hatred against Palestinians by calling it a “fire intifada”. Foreign firefighters from many countries came to Israel’s assistance, but it seems that those politicians had different priorities; they rushed to judgement in newspaper columns and appeared to show scant concern for the tens of thousands forced to flee their homes.
This was a time for politicians to demonstrate leadership and calm the people; to reassure the wider world that everything was being done to protect and save life. Legend has it that the reckless Roman emperor Nero fiddled as a blaze raged through ancient Rome for seven nights in 64 AD; while Benjamin Netanyahu picked up neither lyre nor violin, he did seize the moment to orchestrate a burning campaign of hatred against the Palestinians.
Never one to miss such an opportunity, the Israeli prime minister blamed “terror” as courageous firefighters from Italy, Croatia, Russia, Cyprus, Turkey and even the neighbouring Palestinian Authority risked their lives to help their exhausted Israeli colleagues. Words of support instead of hateful rhetoric should have been the order of the day, but from Netanyahu there was very little.
Now, though, as Israelis are beginning to count the true cost of the forest fires, the words and motives of Netanyahu and his cabal are being scrutinised more closely. … continue
Palestine Information Center – December 8, 2016
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM – The Israeli Special Forces stormed the headquarters of a Palestinian media center in occupied Jerusalem Thursday afternoon and arrested a female journalist.
Speaking to Quds Press, the journalist Yasmin Adila affirmed that Israeli Special Forces stormed and violently searched the headquarters of Ilia media center.
Three lap tops and important office documents were confiscated during the raid, she added.
Israeli forces also arrested the female journalist Lama Ghusha and took her to a nearby investigation center.
Press TV – December 8, 2016
Israel has rejected outright a French proposal for a multilateral conference aimed at reviving talks with the Palestinians, who have welcomed the prospect.
France had gathered world’s foreign ministers in June to discuss the potential relaunch of the process in the absence of Israelis and Palestinians. This time, it has been pushing to hold a conference with their inclusion that would be followed by a meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu, however, asserted on Wednesday that he would only meet with Abbas if Paris abandoned the initiative for the conference.
“Netanyahu told [French President Francois] Hollande that if there will not be an international conference in Paris, he will come to meet Abu Mazen (Abbas) for direct talks without preconditions,” the Israeli premier said in a statement.
“Israel will not participate in an international conference that will not contribute to achieving peace,” it added.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, however, said, “We are determined more than ever to do everything to implement our initiative. The sooner the better.”
Abbas’ spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said the Palestinians welcomed “any French effort to salvage the faltering political process.”
Previous talks between the two sides have invariably foundered on Israel’s insistence on expanding illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land.
Netanyahu’s hardline Likud party has, meanwhile, forwarded a hugely-controversial proposed legislation to the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, that would legalize some 4,000 settler units built on private Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank upon ratification by the lawmakers. … Full article
Inside Syria Media Center | December 8, 2016
The UN General Assembly (UNGA) reiterated its demand that Israel comply with the Security Council resolutions, particularly resolution no. 497 for 1981 which declared Israel’s decision of 14 December 1981 to impose its laws and jurisdiction on the Syrian Golan as “null and void and without international legal effect”.
During a session on Tuesday, the UNGA adopted a resolution titled “Occupied Syrian Golan” after it was endorsed by the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (the Fourth Committee).
The resolution was adopted with 163 in favor out of 193 countries, 1 against (Israel), and a number of abstentions, including the US and Canada.
The resolution called upon Israel to rescind its decision of annexing the occupied Golan, and to desist from changing the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan, as these measures are null and void, asserting that all relevant provisions of the Regulations annexed to the Hague Convention of 1907, and the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, continued to apply to the Syrian territory occupied by Israel since 1967.
It also called upon Israel to desist from imposing Israeli citizenship and identity cards on Syrian citizens and to stop its provocative measures against them.
The resolution called upon the UN member states to not recognize the Israeli measures and procedures adopted in the occupied Syrian Golan as they constitute a breach of the international law.
RT | December 8, 2016
Syrian government forces have suspended “active military activities” against militants in eastern Aleppo to enable the withdrawal of civilians from the city, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has announced while speaking in Hamburg, Germany.
Lavrov was speaking on Thursday on the sidelines of a meeting of ministers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
The Russian foreign minister also urged the UN special envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, to “stop sabotaging” the Geneva Syria peace talks.
Speaking to reporters, he also expressed hope that those responsible for the recent attack on a Russian mobile hospital in western Aleppo will be brought to justice. The assault happened earlier this week and left two female paramedics dead and one chief pediatrician severely injured. … Full article
Sputnik – 08.12.2016
The US-led coalition against Daesh carried out a requested strike by Iraqi forces on a hospital building in Mosul that was used by the terrorist group, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a report.
CENTCOM explained that on December 6, Iraqi Security Forces attempted to seize Daesh-used Al Salem hospital complex in Mosul that served as a base of operations and command and control headquarters for the terrorists.
“On Dec. 7th, after Iraqi forces continued to receive heavy and sustained machine gun and rocket propelled grenade fire from ISIL [Islamic State] fighters in a building on the hospital complex, they requested immediate support from the Coalition,” the release said on Wednesday. “In support of the Iraqi Security Forces, Coalition aircraft conducted a precision strike on the location to target enemy fighters firing on Iraqi forces.”
The operation to liberate Mosul, which was occupied by Daesh in June 2014, has been ongoing since mid-October. The offensive is led by Iraqi soldiers and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and is backed by the US-led coalition.
Press TV – December 8, 2016
The Philippines says it is highly unlikely that it will continue to allow the US military to use the Southeast Asian country as a springboard for its so-called freedom of navigation patrols in the disputed South China Sea.
Philippine Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana made the remarks on Thursday, suggesting that the US ships and aircraft could use bases in Guam — territory near the Philippines that is administered by the US — and the Japanese island of Okinawa, or its warplanes could be dispatched from aircraft carriers to conduct patrols in the contested waters.
Before incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte came to power in late June, some US aircraft and ships used to stop in the Philippines on their way to patrols in the disputed South China Sea, where China has large-scale territorial claims. The patrols are meant to signal to China that the US does not recognize the Chinese claims.
China claims sovereignty over almost all of the South China Sea, which is also partially contested by Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
The US’s military presence in the region — halfway around the world — has also led to worries of an increasing risk of accidental collisions that could spark a consequential wider conflict.
Washington presumes it would be limiting China’s maritime influence in the sea by invoking “freedom of navigation” rights. Furthermore, the US has been taking sides with several of China’s neighboring countries in their territorial disputes in the busy sea, in which five trillion dollars in ship-borne trade [almost all Chinese] passes annually.
China has, in response, accused Washington of meddling in regional issues and deliberately escalating the situation in the region. … Full article
By Alex Christoforou | The Duran | December 8, 2016
The German neo-liberal class of lawmakers continue to push the “hate speech” agenda, which is really just the beginning of the German government (and eventually the entire European Union) censoring speech that they deem inappropriate in terms of their world view and agenda.
Who defines what “hate speech” is? Where does hate speech end, and full on government censorship begin? German lawmakers could never answer these questions, nor do they want to. They simply want to get the ball rolling on curbing dissenting voices, so as to have complete control of the media and social narrative.
Expecting Facebook to be judge, jury and executioner when defining “hate speech” is unrealistic, and sets a very dangerous precedent. It is also intrinsically anti-internet. The web was founded on freedom of expression. Germany lawmakers wish to break a core function of what makes the internet work.
Speaking at a party conference of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), Volker Kauder suggested German politicians were running out of patience with efforts by social media companies to censor hate speech. … continue
By Craig Murray | December 8, 2016
I had never heard of ghost banning until I was ghost banned by twitter. That of course is the idea – they censor you without you realising that you are censored. People no longer get notifications when I post, and the tweet only turns up in the twitter line of followers who happen to be logged in at the time my tweet goes out. Those logging in later will no longer see tweets I issued while they were away. Most of my tweets no longer show up on twitter searches, and further restrictions are applied when people retweet my tweets.
Since ghost banning, traffic to my website from twitter has fallen 90%.
As twitter do not inform you that you have been ghost banned, it is hard to know exactly what prompted it, but I believe it immediately followed this tweet… continue
By Phil Butler – New Eastern Outlook – 08.12.2016
News that Google, Microsoft, and Facebook will collaborate to censor their definition of terrorism on their collective networks signals Orwellian times to come. New EU legislation, hints at McCarthyism in America and Europe, and the proven collusion in between Silicon Valley and governments should signal a counter-revolution. Here’s a look at why.
A couple of years ago my colleagues and I helped uncovered a Ukraine “kill list” supported by NATO, the British Embassy in Ukraine, and by neo-Nazis bent on condemning pro-Russians in the Ukraine civil war. The so-called “Peacekeeper” movement was traced to NATO servers in 2015. Since that time we have all witnessed a dizzying barrage of lies, propaganda, and a controlled message of unprecedented scale. WikiLeaks revelations from the Clinton and Podesta files showed the world the depth of collusion, graft, and draconian measures on behalf of the elites in control of western society. Google and the others as tools of the security machine cannot be controverted. And now the same people who tried to buy the presidency of the United States, who fueled the Arab Spring, ISIL, the refugee crisis, the economic crisis, and endless war, they’re out to close the gates on a billion free people. Twitter’s blog post from yesterday gives us the underpublicized announcement. … continue
Sputnik – 08.12.2016
Following public backlash, legal threats, and sustained mocking, the Washington Post has added an editor’s note distancing the newspaper from a shadowy website called PropOrNot which they had preciously endorsed as “experts” on “fake news” and “Russian propaganda.”
In an ironically fake news article about “fake news” by Craig Timberg the Washington Post claimed that Russian propaganda helped Donald Trump win the US presidential election. A large part of the basis for the piece was centered on evidence the paper presented that was gleaned from an aggressively anonymous website called PropOrNot, which lists over 200 websites that they accuse of peddling what they call Russian propaganda, and other false narratives. Popular news websites on all sides of the political spectrum are listed, including The Drudge Report, Zero Hedge, TruthOut, Sputnik News, and WikiLeaks.
The Washington Post has now added the following editor’s note to the article… continue
Creator Admits He Made Up Who Went on Hit List
Yves Smith | Naked Capitalism | December 7, 2016
One of most pernicious means underway to crush independent news sites is the release of software tools that brand them as unreliable. This means that hidden developers and the parties that fed them information are beyond any accountability, yet would serve as censors.
Last week, the Financial Times described efforts to use software to designate certain sites as suspect … continue
Weather Channel deliberately misleading Americans
By Paul Homewood | Not A Lot Of People Know That | December 7, 2016
At the bottom of that rather flawed article from the Weather Channel is a series of photos of glaciers, all designed to suggest that they have been melting rapidly… continue
By Anthony Watts | Watts Up With That? | December 6, 2016
Dilbert creator, Scott Adams wrote a post on his blog yesterday that is well worth reading in entirety: The Non-Expert Problem and Climate Change Science
It seems to me that a majority of experts could be wrong whenever you have a pattern that looks like this:
1. A theory has been “adjusted” in the past to maintain the conclusion even though the data has changed. For example, “Global warming” evolved to “climate change” because the models didn’t show universal warming.
2. Prediction models are complicated. When things are complicated you have more room for error. Climate science models are complicated.
3. The models require human judgement to decide how variables should be treated. This allows humans to “tune” the output to a desired end. This is the case with climate science models.
4. There is a severe social or economic penalty for having the “wrong” opinion in the field. As I already said, I agree with the consensus of climate scientists because saying otherwise in public would be social and career suicide for me even as a cartoonist. Imagine how much worse the pressure would be if science was my career.
5. There are so many variables that can be measured – and so many that can be ignored – that you can produce any result you want by choosing what to measure and what to ignore. Our measurement sensors do not cover all locations on earth, from the upper atmosphere to the bottom of the ocean, so we have the option to use the measurements that fit our predictions while discounting the rest.
6. The argument from the other side looks disturbingly credible.
One of the things that always fascinated me about jury trials is that attorneys from both sides can sound so convincing even though the evidence points in only one direction. A defendant is either guilty or innocent, but good lawyers can make you see it either way. Climate science is similar. I’ve seen airtight arguments that say climate science is solid and true, and I’ve seen equally credible-looking arguments that say it is bunk. From my non-scientist perspective, I can’t tell the difference. Both sides look convincing to me. … continue
Sputnik – 07.12.2016
Sanctions and economic pressure are increasingly frequently being used for political purposes in competition, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday at a meeting of the country’s Security Council.
“We need to also think about all threats we will talk about today… Competition for markets, technologies, capitals is increasing with each year. Economic restrictions, pressure, sanctions are more and more often used for political purposes… in competitive struggle,” Putin said.
Ma’an – December 7, 2016
BETHLEHEM – The fragile Palestinian economy suffered serious losses in the past three weeks as Israeli custom officials at the Allenby Bridge crossing between the occupied West Bank and Jordan launched a strike, forcing imports and exports to a near standstill in the occupied Palestinian territory.
Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce in Hebron Muhammad Ghazi al-Hirbawi told Ma’an that Israeli custom officials started the general strike 20 days ago to demand a salary increase for what they called a “risky job.”
The strike has had a disastrous effect on the Palestinian economy, al-Hirbawi said, saying that “several factories have suspended work, particularly plastic factories, due to lack of raw materials.”
Al-Hirbawi added that the Palestinian Chamber of Commerce has contacted both Palestinian and Israeli officials to try and work out a solution to an issue that has “exhausted the Palestinian economy.” […]
About 150 truckloads of goods used to cross the Allenby Bridge into the West Bank every day, al-Hirbawi explained, but since the strike only 10 truckloads have entered the West Bank. … Full article
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network – December 7, 2016
Palestinian circus trainer Mohammed Abu Sakha, 25, is approaching the one-year anniversary of his imprisonment in Israeli jails without charge or trial. Held under administrative detention since 14 December 2015 when he was seized by occupation forces as he traveled to work in Bir Zeit, he appealed his imprisonment to the Israeli Supreme Court after it was renewed arbitrarily in June 2016.
Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association lawyer Mahmoud Hassan represented Abu Sakha in a public hearing before the Supreme Court on 5 December, only to withdraw the petition after the court stated that the “secret file” – which has reportedly not been updated since December 2015 – indicates that Abu Sakha “poses a threat to the security of the state.”
Abu Sakha’s case has drawn widespread international attention and support; his work with the Palestinian Circus School is well-known around the world and he has participated in multiple tours along with the children with whom he works. He has been part of the Circus School since 2007. is six-month detention order was renewed in June for an additional six months, and will expire on 12 December. … Full article
Ma’an – December 7, 2016
TULKAREM – An Israeli ran over a Palestinian worker from the Tulkarem district in the occupied West Bank while he was crossing the street in Tel Aviv, Israel on Wednesday, an incident that the victim claimed was “not an accident.”
Raja Muhammad Younis, a West Bank Palestinian working in Tel Aviv, suffered foot fractures after being struck by the vehicle, telling Ma’an that he and a group of Palestinian workers were crossing a street near their workplace when they saw an Israeli driving “extremely fast” toward them.
Younis said that he tried to jump out of the way with the other workers, but the car was too fast and struck him in his foot, causing fractures. He told Ma’an that the incident was “not an accident”… Full article
MOSCOW – Russia expects from Germany specific details on an initiative on a new agreement on arms control in Europe, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.
“We expect from the German side the concretization of its initiative and formation of a concept of dialogue. The reaction to the initiative of NATO steps by whose efforts arms control dialogue was brought to a dead end and frozen is important. Russia is open for discussion of issues of international security on the basis of equality and mutual consideration of interests,” the statement read.
On Wednesday, 57-member Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will convene for its 23rd two-day Ministerial Council in Hamburg hosted by its current chair Germany. One of the topics that Germany has pushed for the broad discussions this week under the OSCE framework is new arms control agreement with Russia.
RT | December 7, 2016
Iran has lodged an official complaint with the UN over Washington’s extension of the Iran Sanctions Act, which Tehran deems a “violation of US commitments” made last year.
In a strongly-worded letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, Ambassador Gholamali Khoshrou wrote: “The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran considers the recent US Congress approval on renewal of anti-Iran sanctions as blatant contradiction to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and violation of the US commitments under the nuclear agreement.”
The US Congress voted to extend the sanctions by 10 years.
According to Iran state news agency IRNA, Khoshrou then reminded the UN chief of the commitments the US made last year under the nuclear deal established under the ISA and the JCPOA, while urging the UN chief to note the alleged violation in his upcoming report to the UNSC. He also stressed that the US will be to blame for any consequences resulting from the extension.
The Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) was first adopted in 1996 to curb Iran’s nuclear activities, which Washington feared were aimed at creating an atomic weapon, in return for lifting Western sanctions on the Islamic Republic. The Act itself is largely symbolic, and bears no direct relation to last year’s deal between Tehran and the 5+1 powers. However, its extension could give the Trump Administration the tools it will need to prolong the existing sanctions, or even change the terms of the JCPOA altogether. Iran has always denied that it is, or has ever, tried to develop nuclear weapons.
Outgoing President Barack Obama is yet to sign the extension into law. … Full article
Sputnik – 07.12.2016
Barack Obama was elected on a promise to limit America’s engagement in overseas conflicts, but the nation is currently involved in several ongoing wars, including crises in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya and Afghanistan, not to mention covert military operations elsewhere, Dr. Gregory Copley, editor of Defense & Foreign Affairs, told Radio Sputnik.
“President Obama has involved the United States in four ongoing wars as he leaves office,” he said, referring to the conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Libya. The analyst then mentioned that Afghanistan should also be on that list. “These are actual conflicts that the US continues to be involved in not to mention the ‘light’ stuff they are doing in Somalia and the like. … They all show no signs of abating.”
This comes in sharp contrast to Obama’s campaign promises.
The outgoing president “came into office with two wars winding down and saying he was going to get out of them,” Copley added. “I think [Obama] is interested in passing the buck for some of this to the next administration and trying to keep the next administration [involved in] conflicts which are on his personal agenda.”
Copley, president of the International Strategic Studies Association, expects the Trump team to be more reserved when it comes to foreign policy. “In the Trump administration you will see a far more cautious approach to interventionism around the world than what we have seen under the Obama administration. President-elect Trump understands that his overriding goal is to rebuild the US economy and start rebuilding US prestige internationally. That means not getting engaged in situations which are ongoing processes without results,” he said.
In Copley’s opinion, Trump favors a goal-oriented foreign policy.
“We saw that with the recent very careful maneuver which he conducted with China,” the analyst said, referring to a telephone conversation between Donald Trump and Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen. … Full article w/audio
RT | December 7, 2016
Donald Trump has laid out a military policy which he says is aimed at ending “intervention and chaos” overseas. He promised to build up the “depleted” military, but said it would be done with prevention in mind, rather than aggression.
Speaking at the latest stop on his “thank you” tour of swing states, President-elect Donald Trump told a crowd in Fayetteville, North Carolina that he wants to “strengthen old friendships and seek out new friendships,” stressing that the US will “stop racing to topple foreign regimes that we know nothing about, that we shouldn’t be involved with.”
“We don’t want to have a depleted military because we’re all over the place fighting in areas that we shouldn’t be fighting in. It’s not going to be depleted any longer,” he said during the Tuesday event.
He spoke of the need to spend money “on ourselves” rather than continuing to run up an extremely costly tab in the Middle East.
“We’ve spent, at last count, $6 trillion in the Middle East, and our roads have potholes all over, our highways are falling apart, our bridges are falling, our tunnels are no good, our airports are horrible like third world countries,” Trump said. … Full article
Press TV – December 7, 2016
British Prime Minister Theresa May has called for deeper military cooperation with members of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council.
Addressing the GCC’s annual summit in the Bahraini capital Manama on Wednesday, May said Britain planned to invest more than $3.7 billion in the region over the next decade.
“As part of the renewed relationship that I want to forge with you, the United Kingdom will make a more permanent and more enduring commitment to the long-term security of the [Persian] Gulf,” she told leaders of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.
“Gulf security is our security,” she said. “In challenging times you turn to your oldest and most dependable friends.” … Full article
RT | December 7, 2016
The International Institute of Strategic Studies, an influential UK diplomacy and security think tank run by prominent military, political, and business figures, has received over $38mn in secret donations from Bahrain.
Bahrain, a former British colony and oil-rich Arab country which accommodates the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, had secretly donated more than $38 million (£30 million) to the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), a reputed UK think tank which positions itself as a leading global military and security research consultancy, according to human rights group Bahrain Watch.
The donations, which the IISS received over the course of five years, were said to form around a quarter of the think tank’s budget, or over $7.6 million (£6 million) per year, Bahrain Watch said citing confidential documents it obtained in cooperation with the Guardian. … continue
By Tony Cartalucci – New Eastern Outlook – 07.12.2016
US-based corporate-financier funded policy think tank, the Brookings Institution, published a particularly incoherent piece titled, “Should we work with the devil we know against the Islamic State?” The piece’s author, a senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings, Daniel Byman, claims (emphasis added):
Saudi Arabia has proven a major source of terrorist recruits and financing, while the Syria-Turkey border was a major crossing point for Islamic State recruits. Both countries [Saudi Arabia and Turkey] still have much to do, but that’s the point—if the Trump administration alienates them, the Islamic State problem will get much worse. With the United States on the other side in Syria, Turkey and Saudi Arabia might send anti-aircraft weapons to Syrian rebels and otherwise escalate the fighting in ways dangerous for international terrorism—actions that, so far, the United States has helped reduce.
In essence, Byman is admitting what the rest of the world already long ago concluded – the vast fighting capacity the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS) possesses is not only a result of immense state sponsorship, it is sponsored by two of America’s closest allies in the region – Saudi Arabia and NATO-member Turkey. … continue
21st Century Wire | December 6, 2016
DAMASCUS – In a stunning development today, 21WIRE has received reports from on the ground in Syria that remaining ‘rebel’ militants have fled the Old City of Aleppo, even leaving behind a substantial amount of equipment and weapons – as the Syrian Arab Army advances into the remaining terrorist-held neighborhood in the eastern part of Syria’s largest city.
The following video shows early celebrations in the narrow streets of the Old Citadel. … continue
Al-Manar | December 7, 2016
Several Israeli missiles struck near the Mazzeh airbase outside Damascus overnight without causing any casualties, Syrian state media reported on Wednesday.
“At 3:00 am (0100 GMT), the Israeli enemy fired several surface-to-surface missiles from inside occupied territory,” the state news agency SANA said, citing a military source.
SANA said the missiles were fired from a position “west of Tal Abu Nada,” a mountain in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
It said they caused a fire but no casualties.
The Mazzeh airbase, less than eight kilometers southwest of Damascus, hosts the headquarters of the feared air force intelligence service and its prison.
It was the second time in eight days that the Zionist entity, which is technically still at war with Syria, had targeted positions outside Damascus.
By Kate Cox | Consumerist | December 6, 2016
Kids say a lot of random, unsolicited, or just plain personal things to their toys while playing. When that toy is stuffed with just fluff and beans, it doesn’t matter what the kid says: their toy is a safe sounding board. When their playtime companion is an internet-connected recording device that ships off audio files to a remote server without even notifying parents — that’s a whole other kind of problem.
According to a coalition of consumer-interest organizations, the makers of two “smart” kids toys — the My Friend Cayla doll and the i-Que Intelligent Robot — are allegedly violating laws in the U.S. and overseas by collecting this sort of voice data without obtaining consent. … continue
By Alex Christoforou | The Duran | December 6, 2016
YouTube and Facebook have started using hashes to automatically remove extremist content.
Giant tech companies are banding together to stop extremism on the web.
YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft will begin sharing a common database to flag accounts and user profiles they deem as threats to global security. … continue
Press TV – December 6, 2016
The United States is returning some of the Japanese territories it has been occupying since the Second World War, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter says.
More than 4,000 hectares (40 square kilometers) of land on the island of Okinawa, which has been under US control since 1945, would be turned over to Japan later this month, Carter said during a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on Tuesday. […]
The land is part of a territory officially known as the Northern Training Area, located inside a vast US military base complex on the Pacific island.
This is the largest return of the US-occupied territories since 1972, when Washington gave back a large chunk of Okinawa to Japan.
The agreement for the return was reached in 1996, but faced delays due to protests against construction of new US military facilities.
Under the deal, the US Marines’ Futenma base, which is currently in a heavily-populated area, would be relocated to a new site in Okinawa.
After the rape of a Japanese schoolgirl by three US troops in 1996, Washington and Tokyo agreed to relocate some US servicemen outside Okinawa or move others to less populated parts of the island.
Protesters, however, want the base and the US military off their land altogether.
Okinawa hosts the bulk of the nearly 50,000 American military personnel stationed in Japan, an issue that has turned the island into a source of enduring tensions.
Protests against the presence of US military forces on the island have been going on for two decades … Full article
By Peter KORZUN | Strategic Culture Foundation | 06.12.2016
The US Senate voted on December 1 to extend the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) giving the president the authority to impose sanctions on Iran for another decade. The bill had already passed the house of Representatives. The ISA was enacted in 1996 (as the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act), reauthorized in 2006 and 2011, and is set to expire on Dec. 31, if not renewed. GOP lawmakers have unanimously opposed the agreement. Some Democratic senators reconsidered their stances, expressing support for extending the presidential authority to counter Iran’s «aggressive behavior.» President Obama is not expected to veto the motion because the scale of support indicates a veto would be easily overridden.
The measure ensures that the president could easily restore the sanctions, if Iran breached the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The deal reached in July 2015 required Iran to cap its nuclear program in exchange for lifting of sanctions against it.
Iran has complied significantly reducing its nuclear infrastructure. It’s important to note that the implementation of the JCPOA began January 16 after the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) certified that Iran was meeting all its obligations under the deal. Other parties to the agreement – Russia, the UK, China, France, Germany and the European Union – have largely lifted the sanctions since the deal became effective. Non-nuclear sanctions have also been dropped, partially ushering Iran back into the global economy. … continue
RT | December 6, 2016
A Red Cross poll has found that about half of American respondents believe that torture is a solution for extracting information. The US was matched only by Nigeria, Israel and Palestine.
The global ‘People on War’ poll that surveyed 17,000 people in 16 countries has revealed that indifference to torture has grown substantially since the late ’90s, especially where it concerns the five permanent UN Security Council members. By contrast, those living in war-torn countries like Afghanistan showed very little acceptance of such methods and a greater regard for international law.
According to the poll results, it appears that war crimes are now being looked at as simply a part of war – an attitude increasingly prevalent in the US, where just under half of all respondents (46 percent) support the use of torture. Only Thirty percent disagreed, with the remainder were undecided. The American shift in opinion was also by far the biggest the authors have seen: none of the other P5 members (Russia, China, France, the UK) came close in figures.
On average, one in three people in the US believed torture was “part of war.”
Together with the Afghans, the Yemenis showed the greatest aversion to torture with the record-breaking figure of 100 percent against. … Full article
Ma’an – December 6, 2016
GAZA CITY – Israeli naval forces detained four Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip and confiscated their fishing boat Tuesday morning, the head of the Gaza fishermen’s union said.
Nizar Ayyash told Ma’an that Israeli gunboats obstructed a Palestinian fishing boat and detained all four fishermen who were on board.
The fishermen and their boat were taken to Israel’s Ashdod port, where the boat was confiscated.
Ayyash identified the fishermen as Majid Fadel Bakr, Muhammad Majid Bakr, Umran Majid Bakr, and Khalil Jawhar Bakr.
The incident came after Israeli authorities opened fire on and detained two fishermen, brothers Saadi and Shafiq al-Sultan, and confiscated their boat off the northern coast of the besieged coastal enclave on Sunday. … Full article
MEMO | December 6, 2016
In recent years, the parents of Jared Kushner, the son-in-law and trusted confidant of US President-elect Donald Trump, have donated tens of thousands of dollars to organisations and institutions located in illegal West Bank settlements, according to their tax forms.
Kushner’s family donates a few million dollars a year on average to charitable causes through the Charles and Seryl Kushner Foundation, which Jared sits on the board of along with his brother and two sisters. The foundation was established in 1997.
Among organisations and institutions in the occupied West Bank that receive funding from the Kushner family, the American Friends of Beit El Yeshiva (religious school) received $20,000 in 2013. … continue
MEMO | December 6, 2016
Israeli occupation forces prevented the burial of a Muslim Palestinian woman in the Islamic cemetery of Bab Al-Rahmah on Monday, Arabs48.com has reported. The cemetery is adjacent to the eastern wall of the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa.
The occupation soldiers told the Palestinians who took part in the funeral procession that the cemetery land has been confiscated by the Israeli nature authority. The soldiers closed the gate and prevented the burial from going ahead.
Neighbours and relatives of the dead woman stood with her body for two hours trying to get past the soldiers, but they refused to let the cortège go into the cemetery. According to the daughter of the deceased, her father, brother, uncle and aunts were all buried in this particular cemetery without any restrictions.
During her final days, the dead woman had told her daughter that she hoped to be buried near to her husband’s grave. “That hope was dashed by the oppression of the Israeli occupation,” said her daughter.
By Yves Engler · December 6, 2016
Is “remembering the Nazi Holocaust and where anti-Semitism can lead” a good thing? Unfortunately, thanks to people who constantly cite this horrible genocide in order to justify the illegal, immoral and anti-human behaviour of the Israeli state, one must answer, “it depends.”
Drawing attention to the Nazi Holocaust and anti-Semitism in Canada today often reinforces, rather than undermines, oppression and discrimination. This perverse reality was on display at two recent events in Toronto. … continue
RT | December 6, 2016
Petro Poroshenko holds sway in Ukraine by channeling western financial aid into war and bribery, while making big money with a close circle of loyal oligarchs, fugitive Ukrainian MP Aleksandr Onishchenko told RT in an exclusive interview. … continue
RT | December 6, 2016
The Russian Investigative Committee has charged two Ukrainian military commanders, whose units shelled Russian territory in 2014, with attempted murder of military servicemen and law enforcement officers.
Svetlana Petrenko, the spokesperson for the Russian Investigative Committee, told reporters on Tuesday that the committee has brought charges against Andrey Grishenko, head of the “South” Operational Command of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, and Valeruy Ismailov, commander of Ukraine’s 27th Rocket Artillery Regiment. Russian investigators believe that both men were involved in organizing the repeated artillery attacks against Russian territory that took place from June to August in 2014.
Petrenko told reporters that Russian investigators had established that in these artillery raids, the Ukrainian military used heavy weapons, such as multiple-launch missile systems and self-propelled cannons, and as a result of these illegal and indiscriminate actions, many people were wounded and one elderly man was killed.
Investigators have already conducted dozens of inspections, about 140 examinations, and have spoken with about 1000 witnesses.
“In some cases, the actions of the Ukrainian military resembled terrorist tactics, such as repeated covert strikes on places with large gatherings of people. … continue
How Russia is pilloried while real news about Israel goes unreported
By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • December 6, 2016
The drama surrounding allegations that the internet is awash with “fake news” is being promoted by the so-called mainstream media which certainly has a lot to answer for when it comes to producing material that does not pass the smell test. Does the name Judith Miller ring any bells? And the squeaks of rage coming from the U.S. Congress over being lied to is also something to behold as the federal government has been acting in collusion with the media to dish up falsehoods designed to start wars since the time of the Spanish-American conflict in 1898, if not before.
The fake news saga is intended to discredit Donald Trump, whom the media hates mostly because they failed to understand either him or the Americans who voted for him in the recent election. You have to blame somebody when you are wrong so you invent “fake news” as the game changer that explains your failure to comprehend simple truths. To accomplish that, the clearly observable evidence that the media was piling on Donald Trump at every opportunity has somehow been deliberately morphed into a narrative that it is Trump who was attacking the media, suggesting that it was all self-defense on the part of the Rachel Maddows of this world, but anyone who viewed even a small portion of the farrago surely will have noted that it was the Republican candidate who was continuously coming under attack from both the right and left of the political-media spectrum.
There are also some secondary narratives being promoted, including a pervasive argument that Hillary Clinton was somehow the victim of the news reporting due specifically to fake stories emanating largely from Moscow in an attempt to not only influence the election but also to subvert America’s democratic institutions. I have observed that if such a truly ridiculous objective were President Vladimir Putin’s desired goal he might as well relax. Our own Democratic and Republican duopoly has already been doing a fine job at subverting democracy by assiduously separating the American people from the elite Establishment that theoretically represents and serves them. … continue
Sputnik – 06.12.2016
The Obama administration is trying to poison relations between Washington and Moscow before Trump’s team comes to power, Andranik Migranyan, a Russian political analyst and professor at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, told Radio Sputnik. These efforts will make it significantly harder for both countries to mend ties.
“The Democrats have sustained such a major electoral loss that they seem to have lost their minds,” he added.
Migranyan’s remarks come in response to a top US defense official calling Russia the number one threat to the United States. “We have a number of threats that we’re dealing with, but Russia could be, because of the nuclear aspect, an existential threat to the United States,” Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James told Reuters recently.
“All these claims are clearly baseless,” the analyst said. “High-ranking military commanders are usually more reasonable in their assessments. It is civilian leaders of defense agencies who are more often making provocative statements and acting belligerently.”
Migranyan expressed hope that Trump’s team will be more realistic in its view of Russia, but the incoming administration will be under the firm pressure from critics of the next US president from both parties. This is what prompted analysts to assert that Washington’s foreign policy will most likely retain its anti-Russian component despite Trump’s victory. … continue
By James Petras | December 5, 2016
With a few notable exceptions, political leaders are chosen by political leaders, and not by electorates or community-based organizations or popular assemblies. Popular media figures and the so-called ‘pundits’, including academics and self-declared experts and ‘think-tank’ analysts reinforce and propagate these choices.
A collection of terms and pseudo concepts are essential in validating what is really an oligarchical process. These concepts are tagged onto whoever is chosen by the elite for electoral candidates or for the seizure of political power. With this framework in mind, we have to critically analyze the symbols and signs used by popular opinion-makers as they promote political elites. We will conclude by posing an alternative to the ‘propaganda of choice’, which has so far resulted in broken pre-election promises and political debacles. … continue
RT | December 5, 2016
The Russian Foreign Ministry has criticized western leaders after none appeared to condemn the shelling of a mobile Russian hospital by militants in Syria. Two Russian medics were killed after around a dozen of shells hit the facility in Aleppo.
“On December 5, a Russian military medic died as a mortar shell fired by militants directly hit the reception ward of a Russian mobile military hospital set up in Aleppo. Two medical specialists were also severely injured and one of them later died,” the ministry said.
“However, no words of condemnation can be heard from western capitals,” it added, criticizing western governments for their “politicized approach” to the assessment of the situation in Syria.
“We call on our partners to abandon the politicized approach and finally join the counter-terrorist efforts in Syria as well as the search for a political solution to the Syrian crisis” instead of waging a smear campaign in the media, the ministry said in its statement.
It then went on to criticize Paris and London, saying they are waging a “propaganda campaign” – in particular over the delivery of humanitarian aid. … continue
RT | December 5, 2016
A White House report on efforts to target so-called extremists abroad shows a broadening use of war powers in the fight against Al-Qaeda, beyond military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
The 60-page report shows deployments in over half a dozen new areas – including Somalia, Yemen, Jordan, Niger, Cameroon, Central Africa, the Red Sea, Somalia and South Sudan – with troops on the ground, regular air strikes, and surveillance efforts, all in the name of counterterrorism.
In a presidential memorandum released on Monday, the White House said US military operations are grounded in the October 7, 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), by which Congress approved military operations and counterterrorism combat operations against Al-Qaeda. Since August 2014, those have expanded to include operations against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), which was “formerly known as Al-Qaeda in Iraq.” … continue
By Howard Lisnoff | CounterPunch | December 5, 2016
Stuart Allen died on November 22, 2016. I learned of his death by way of an email from Laurel Krause, whose sister Allison was gunned down by the National Guard on May 4, 1970, just after the noon hour during a demonstration against the U.S. incursion into Cambodia during the Vietnam War.
Stuart Allen would not like to be called a hero, although he certainly was one. Stuart was both an audio and video expert, with degrees in both fields and worked out of his lab and business in New Jersey that offers expert analyses of that kind of data. Stuart often worked for law enforcement, including the Justice Department and the FBI.
In 2010, both Stuart and another forensic audio expert, Tom Owen, provided information at the request of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (“New analysis of 40-year old recording of Kent State shootings reveals that Ohio Guard was given an order to prepare to fire,” May 9, 2010) about a new analysis of the famous Strubbe tape, a recording of the events that led up to the death of four students and the wounding of nine others during a demonstration against the U.S. incursion into Cambodia.
The tape that Stuart analyzed, and the results with which Tom Owen concurred, yielded dramatic new information. Using state-of-the-art forensic audio tools, one of which was developed by the Soviet KGB prior to the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Stuart found that a sequence of orders was given to the National Guardsmen as they reached the top of Blanket Hill on the campus of Kent State University, turned in unison, and fired 67 times at unarmed student demonstrators below the hill.
These are the words that shed new light on the history of that horrific day and gave new meaning to the search for the historic truth about the events of that day.
“Guard”… “All right, prepare to fire!”… “Get down!”… and finally “Guard!”… is followed by the fusillade of lethal bullets. … continue
RT | December 5, 2016
Syrian opposition supporters bear responsibility for the casualties from the shelling of a Russian mobile military hospital, said writer Abdel Bari Atwan. It seems the rebels have been given advanced weapons particularly for such attacks, he added.
Extremists have shelled a Russian military hospital in Aleppo, killing two paramedics and injuring several service personnel. An RT Arabic producer was also wounded in the leg in the attack.
The attack on the Russian military hospital comes as the Russian Foreign Minister disclosed some of the details of the terms for the withdrawal of militants from eastern Aleppo proposed by US Secretary of State John Kerry. … continue
RT | December 5, 2016
Dutch secret services conducted an investigation into suspicions that Geert Wilders, head of the anti-Islam Party for Freedom, was strongly influenced by top Israeli military and political figures, according to reports in the Netherlands.
Wilders, the firebrand leader of the Dutch far-right Party for Freedom (PVV), was investigated by the country’s General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) between 2009 and 2010 over his “ties to Israel and their possible influence on his loyalty,” according to De Volkskrant newspaper, which conducted interviews with 37 public officials and former intelligence officers. … continue
Palestine Information Center – December 5, 2016
NABLUS – Israeli Occupation Forces issued a stop work order against rehabilitating an agricultural road in Jaloud village, south of Nablus Sunday evening.
The Village Council affirmed that Israeli forces detained the Palestinian workers and confiscated their tools late Sunday.
The workers were then released after nearly a two-hour detention, the sources added.
The Israeli forces threatened to confiscate the workers’ bulldozers and other tools if they continued the rehabilitation work.
According to the source, the rehabilitation project was funded by the Italian Civil Volunteer Group (GVC) in collaboration with the French international relief.
The notified road was to be rehabilitated to better provide services for Palestinians in Jaloud village and to protect the village from Israeli settlement expansion.
American Herald Tribune | December 5, 2016
Brig. Gen. Eyal Karim officially took his position as chief rabbi of the IDF Thursday evening after a change of command ceremony at the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv attended by Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot.
During the ceremony, the chief of staff said, “The appointment of chief rabbi of the IDF is an extremely significant event in the army. Unfortunately, the ceremony took place a week late,” added Eisenkot. “I was convinced months ago that we are choosing Rabbi Eyal Karim for the job. He is the most fitting and appropriate choice for command and rabbinic authority in the IDF. I had no doubts.”
Following his official promotion, Karim spoke at length, saying, “During this journey of thousands of years, Israel drew its strength and spirit from the Torah—all its laws, values and morality. These are the foundation stones of the Jewish people. David Ben-Gurion, who asked Rabbi Goren to be chief rabbi, understood that the army has to address a wide range of people without creating a split in the army. He understood that there had to be a way for all soldiers to have a fulfilling service in the IDF together.” … continue
By Brian CLOUGHLEY | Strategic Culture Foundation | 05.12.2016
… NATO’s policy of confrontation with Russia is causing some disquiet in western Europe, whose citizens are kept in the dark about the depth and demands of the military alliance to which their countries are committed, such as their aircraft being «equipped to carry nuclear bombs». It is policy that the US B-61 nuclear weapons stored in Europe are delivered to targets by aircraft of the Belgian, Dutch, German and Italian air forces. … Read full article