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Afghanistan peace meeting urges direct talks with Taliban

Press TV | February 6, 2016

Representatives from Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the United States have concluded their talks aimed at drawing up a roadmap for putting an end to the Afghan war with a call for direct negotiations between the Kabul government and the Taliban militant group by the end of February.

The Afghan peace talks, which are part of the latest efforts to finalize a peace plan in Afghanistan, opened in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad on Saturday and concluded later in the day.

In a statement issued at the end of the talks, the participants said they agreed on a roadmap for peace but provided no further details.

“The Group stressed that the outcome of the reconciliation process should be a political settlement that results in the cessation of violence, and durable peace in Afghanistan,” the statement said.

They also emphasized that the Taliban, who did not participate in the meeting, should join the fourth round of the peace talks which will be held in the Afghan capital, Kabul, on February 23.

“Towards this end, the QCG (Quadrilateral Coordination Group) countries agreed to continue joint efforts for setting a date for direct peace talks between the representatives of the Afghan government and Taliban groups expected to take place by the end of February 2016.” … Full article

Israeli movement calls for separating 28 Palestinian villages from Jerusalem

MEMO | February 6, 2016

al-aqsa-protests-Sep-2015-9-israeli-settlers-at-al-aqsaNew Israeli movement Save Jewish Jerusalem has called for the building of a wall encircling 28 Palestinian villages in East Jerusalem in order to preserve the city’s Jewish identity, Israeli newspaper Maariv reported on Friday.

According to Quds Press, which reported on the news published in Maariv, Save Jewish Jerusalem was set up by the former Cabinet minister Haim Ramon, alongside a number of former political, security and military officials.

Maariv noted that the movement does not belong to a certain political faction.

The manifesto’s authors explain that by removing some 200,000 Palestinians from the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, the city’s Jews will constitute more than 80% of its residents, and the percentage of Palestinians will drop to less than 20%, from the nearly 40% today.

After the villages’ separation from Jerusalem, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) and other security agencies would operate in them the way they currently do in the rest of the West Bank, according to the manifesto.

OCHA: IOF destroyed 42 Palestinian homes within a week

Palestinian Information Center | February 6, 2016

RAMALLAH – The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) revealed that Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) demolished 42 Palestinian-owned structures in three communities in Area C and East Jerusalem in one week on grounds that they lack Israeli-issued building permits.

In its weekly report, OCHA documented the demolition of 42 Palestinian structures including 32 residences, seven water cisterns and one agriculture structure. As a result, 168 people, including 94 children, were displaced and 24 others were otherwise affected.

One of the affected communities, Ein Ayoub Bedouin community located in Ramallah governorate, was entirely demolished in December 2013. … Full article

Palestinian PM decries Israel’s ‘collective punishment’ of Qabatiya

Ma’an | February 6, 2016

fad1472d-a041-4e84-8210-de66d5e95160RAMALLAH – Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on Saturday decried the “collective punishment” imposed by Israel on residents of Qabatiya, blockaded for the third day in a row after three residents of the town carried out a deadly attack in Jerusalem.

“Ongoing Israeli policies of collective punishment, field executions, and blockading Palestinian cities, villages, and refugee camps will worsen the security situation in the area,” Hamdallah said.

“By confining our people and suffocating them with military checkpoints, Israel is violating all international laws and conventions,” he added.

The PM held Israel responsible for ongoing deterioration of the situation in Qabatiya , which has seen ongoing clashes between Palestinian youths in the village and military forces.

Hamdallah also denounced the death of 14-year-old Haitham Ismail al-Baw, killed by Israeli forces the day before in what he termed a summary execution by Israel.

The child was shot dead by Israeli soldiers after the Israeli army said he threw a Molotov cocktail at vehicles traveling on Route 60 by the village of Halhul north of Hebron in the occupied West Bank.

The PM called on the international community to stop Israeli violations, pointing to al-Baw’s death as the “latest” in a series of “field executions” to be carried out by Israel.

The Palestinian National and Islamic and Forces called for a comprehensive strike to take place on Sunday in Jenin and its surroundings in support of residents of Qabatiya.

The political coalition told Ma’an on Saturday that a comprehensive strike would take place all day Sunday in the area to protest Israeli forces’ closure of all of Qabatiya’s entrances and its detention of locals.

Meanwhile in Qabatiya, least 13 residents have been injured by live fire during clashes with Israeli forces since the town was first sealed on Wednesday. A 15-year-old boy was also critically injured after being run over by a military jeep.

Nine Palestinians were injured when Israeli forces fired live bullets and tear gas at Qabatiya residents on Friday, and 24-year-old was shot in the abdomen and detained when clashes broke out during a night raid. … Full article

Your Perception Is Worth Big Bucks To The Military-Industrial Complex

By Chris Rossini | RonPaulLibertyReport | February 5, 2016

We all know how Hollywood and the crony media likes to portray the US military. It’s almost always presented as this well-oiled machine, good looking people, white teeth, well-spoken, the whole nine yards.

Hardly will you see how trillions of taxpayers dollars go up in smoke and how the Pentagon mysteriously “loses” track of where the money goes. No, the actual truth about how government bureaucracy works is not what you’ll see in the latest blockbuster film.

Perceptions are critically important when running an operation that forcefully takes money from American citizens. Perception is worth big bucks! As a matter of fact, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter had his hands out this week seeking yet another $600 billion. … continue

Risking World War III in Syria

Consortium News | February 6, 2016

After Saudi-backed Syrian rebels balked at peace talks and the Russian-backed Syrian army cut off Turkish supply lines to jihadists and other Syrian rebels, the U.S. and its Mideast Sunni “allies” appear poised to invade Syria and force “regime change” even at the risk of fighting Russia, a gamble with nuclear war, writes Joe Lauria. – Read article

Bahrain ready for Syria deployment under Saudi lead: Diplomat

Press TV – February 6, 2016

The tiny Persian Gulf state of Bahrain says it is ready to deploy ground forces to Syria under the Saudi leadership as foreign-backed militants are losing ground in the face of the Syrian army advances.

The announcement by Bahraini Ambassador to Britain Sheikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa on Friday came after Saudi Arabia said it was ready to send troops to Syria.

In a statement, Sheikh Fawaz said Manama would commit troops to operate “in concert with the Saudis” in Syria.

The Bahraini diplomat said the Saudi initiative was meant to combat both Daesh and the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. … continue

Putin, Bahrain’s King Set to Discuss Anti-Terror Efforts Monday

Sputnik | February 6, 2016

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to meet Bahrain’s Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa on Monday to discuss counter-terror efforts and the situation in the Middle East, the Kremlin said Saturday.

“A frank exchange of opinions on the situation in the Middle East and North Africa is expected, mainly in the light of countering international terrorism,” the Kremlin’s press service said in a statement.

Saudi airstrikes kill six Yemeni civilians

Press TV | February 6, 2016

At least six more civilians have lost their lives in two separate Saudi aerial attacks against residential neighborhoods in Yemen’s southwestern province of Ta’izz.

Saudi warplanes bombed a number of houses in the Mawiyah district south of Sana’a on Saturday, leaving a woman and her three daughters dead, Arabic-language al-Masirah television reported.

Two more civilians were killed and three others injured when Saudi jets struck the Dhubab district of the same Yemeni province. … Full article

100s of Those Killed by US Drone Strikes in Pakistan Remain Unidentified

Sputnik | February 6, 2016

Of thousands killed in US drone attacks in Pakistan since 2004, less than one third of the victims have been identified, including a record low number of ten last year, according to an international investigation.

A UK-based not-for-profit organization revealed the figures in the framework of their “Naming the Dead” project. Initially created for tracking US drone strikes in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia, the project seeks to identify casualties, calling for accountability for the attacks.

According to project data, of 2,494 people confirmed killed by American drone strikes in Pakistan, only 729 have been identified. In 2015 the names of those killed was extremely small – only ten of 60 allegedly killed by drones.

Five of ten victims were pronounced members of Al Qaeda, another three were named Pakistani Taliban fighters and the last two were aid workers from Western states. … continue

Giving Peace Very Little Chance

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | February 5, 2016

After nearly 15 years of Mideast war – with those conflicts growing ever grimmer – you might expect that peace would be a major topic of the 2016 presidential race. Instead, there has been a mix of warmongering bluster from most candidates and some confused mutterings against endless war from a few.

No one, it seems, wants to risk offending Official Washington’s neocon-dominated foreign policy establishment that is ready to castigate any candidate who suggests that there are other strategies – besides more and more “regime changes” – that might extricate the United States from the Middle East quicksand.

Late in Thursday’s Democratic debate – when the topic of war finally came up – former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continued toeing the neocon line, calling Iran the chief sponsor of terrorism in the world, when that title might objectively go to U.S. “allies,” such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, all of whom have been aiding Sunni jihadists fighting to overthrow Syria’s secular regime.

Israel also has provided help to Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front, which has been battling Syrian troops and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters near the Golan Heights – and Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians has played a key role in stirring up hatred and violence in the Middle East.

But Clinton has fully bought into the neocon narrative, not especially a surprise since she voted for the Iraq War, pushed the disastrous Libyan “regime change” and has sought a limited U.S. military invasion of Syria (to prevent the Syrian army from securing its border with Turkey and reclaiming territory from jihadists and other rebels). … continue

The Invisible Epidemic: Radiation and Rising Rates of Thyroid Cancer

By Joseph Mangano and Janette D. Sherman | CounterPunch | February 5, 2016

Is it possible for an epidemic to be invisible?

Since 1991 the annual number of newly documented cases of thyroid cancer in the United States has skyrocketed from 12,400 to 62,450. It’s now the seventh most common type of cancer.

Relatively little attention is paid to the butterfly-shaped thyroid gland that wraps around the throat. Many don’t even know what the gland does. But this small organ (and the hormone it produces) is crucial to physical and mental development, especially early in life.

Cancer of the thyroid also gets little attention, perhaps because it is treatable, with long-term survival rates more than 90 percent. Still, the obvious question is what is causing this epidemic, and what can be done to address it?

Recently, there has been a debate in medical journals, with several authors claiming that the increase in thyroid cancer is the result of doctors doing a better job of detecting the disease at an earlier stage. A team of Italian researchers who published a paper last January split the difference, citing increased rates and better diagnosis. But as rates of all stages of thyroid cancer are soaring, better detection is probably a small factor. … continue

Ex-German media boss admits on live radio the national news agenda is govt controlled

RT | February 4, 2016

If you really want a lesson in how the Western popular press works, this is it.

Without question, Germany is the leading power in Europe. ZDF is its state broadcaster and most popular channel.

Together with sister network ARD; German’s are obliged to pay €17.98 per month to fund it.

This week, during a radio event in Berlin, the retired head of ZDF Bonn, Dr Wolfgang Herles, dropped a bombshell. He admitted the network, and others, takes orders from the government on what, and what not, to report.

Now, you’d expect this kind of story to be splashed across the world’s press, wouldn’t you? A former senior management figure acknowledging that his ex-employers work in tandem with the authorities to control the news agenda in such an important country? If such a revelation was made in a ‘developing’ nation, NATO media would be all over it.

Yet, it’s not. … continue

Pentagon to Propose Increasing Air Force Training Budget by $1Bln

Sputnik – 05.02.2016

The Pentagon will propose a $1-billion increase in the budget of the Air Force over the next five years to boost advanced training of pilots, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said.

“We’re adding $1 billion more for training of this kind [air force exercises] over the next five years in the Air Force budget,” Carter said on Thursday, as quoted in a press statement.

According to Carter, the extra funding would pay for at least 34 major air combat exercises at the Nellis Air Force Base and other ranges. The Air Force will also invest in improving the infrastructure and resources at the ranges, and in hiring more mechanics.

On Tuesday, Carter announced that the Pentagon would request $7.5 billion to fight the growing threat of the Islamic State… Full article

Tunisian President warns against military intervention in Libya

MEMO | February 5, 2016

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi warned on Thursday of the consequences of any military intervention in Libya, stressing the need for the countries considering such action to consult with Tunisia and other neighbouring countries, a presidential statement said.

According to the statement, Essebsi made the remarks during a meeting with heads of diplomatic missions and representatives of regional and international organizations held in Tunis to celebrate the New Year.

“The President of the Republic has pointed to the uniqueness of Tunisia’s situation, being a neighbour with Libya, which has become the scene for terrorist cells and home to Islamic State [Daesh] threats,” the statement read.

President Essebsi stressed that the only way to bring an end to the Libyan conflict is through inter-Libyan political unity. The international community must support the efforts of the unity government, he said.

Despite the difficulties in Libya, Essebsi said that Tunisia “will not close its borders to its Libyan brothers”.

Media reports have suggested that military intervention in Libya by an international coalition could be imminent. … Full article

Ongoing colonization in Hebron: Israeli forces prepare the illegal invasion of Palestinian houses by Jewish settlers

International Solidarity Movement | February 3, 2016

Hebron, Occupied Palestine – On February 3rd 2016, Israeli occupation forces violently opened the door of houses in the vicinity of the Ibrahimi mosque by cutting the door locks with a disk grinder, and then entered these houses.

The houses are located in al-Sahla Street near the Ibrahimi mosque, settlers illegally invaded and occupied them two weeks ago, but were then evicted by the police and army the next morning. … continue

Israeli Soldiers Demolish Two Tents Near Hebron, Injure A Palestinian In Bethlehem

IMEMC – February 5, 2016

Israeli soldiers demolished, on Thursday evening, two residential tents in the Susiya village, southeast of Yatta town, in the southern West Bank district of Hebron, and confiscated them. The soldiers also shot and injured one Palestinian, east of Bethlehem.

Head of the Susiya Village Council Jihad Nawaj’a, said several army vehicles invaded the village, and demolished the two tents which belong to Nasser Ahmad Shreiteh and his four family members.

He added that international rights groups granted the two tents to the family several months ago, to provide them with shelter. … Full article

Israel’s deputy foreign minister: Palestinians are ‘under the influence of ISIS’

MEMO – February 5, 2016

Israel’s most senior diplomat has claimed that Palestinians are “under the influence of ISIS.”

Tzipi Hotovely made the remarks in an interview with Mehdi Hasan on Al Jazeera English’s show ‘UpFront’, to be broadcast this Friday.

During the interview, Israel’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs was asked 12 times if she personally supports a Palestinian state, repeatedly choosing not to answer the question.

Asked to respond to Israeli intelligence reports that Palestinian violence is linked to the “bleak reality” of occupation, Hotovely rubbished such claims, instead pointing the finger at “very hard incitement of the Palestinian Authority.” She also suggested that Palestinian society is coming “under the influence of ISIS.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is currently also Foreign Minister, making Hotovely effectively the country’s most senior diplomatic representative.

Palestine ‘Unequivocally’ Supports Russian Campaign in Syria

Sputnik – 05.02.2016

Palestine fully supports Russia’s anti-terror actions in Syria, Russian upper house of parliament speaker Valetina Matvienko said Friday.

“The Palestinian President [Mahmoud Abbas] spoke unequivocally in favor of Russia’s actions in Syria. He supports the need to fight Daesh,” Matvienko told the broadcaster Rossiya-24 after a working visit to Palestine where she met Abbas. … Full article

Destroy Syria… Get Others to Pay

By Finian Cunningham – Sputnik – 05.02.2016

Citizens of the world are being asked to dig deep for humanitarian aid to Syria. After five years of war and millions displaced there is an urgent need for the world to lend a hand, we are told.

At a so-called “donor conference” in London this week, British prime minister David Cameron appealed to the rest of the world to stump up $8 billion to help war-torn Syria.

Among the 60 nations attending the confab were the US, France, Britain, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Senior figures from these countries were wringing their hands in anguish over the plight of Syrian refugees. … continue

Carter Welcomes Saudi ’Boots on Ground’ Offer in anti-ISIL Campaign

Al-Manar – February 5, 2016

The US defense chief welcomed reports on Thursday about Saudi Arabia’s willingness to deploy troops in Syria, noting that he would discuss the issue with his Saudi counterpart in Brussels next week.

During an interview with the Saudi al-Arabiya TV channel on Thursday, Saudi military spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed al-Asiri said Riyadh “is ready to participate in any ground operations that the coalition may agree to carry out in Syria”.

“That kind of news is very welcome. I look forward to discussing that with the Saudi defense minister next week – and other kinds of contributions that Saudi Arabia can make,” Secretary of Defense Ash Carter told reporters at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. … continue

Proof of 333 Prisoners’ Innocence Reveals Failure of US Justice System

Sputnik — 04.02.2016

The exoneration of 333 convicts based on DNA evidence represents a tiny fraction of wrongful convictions, revealing the US justice system’s frequent failure to determine guilt or innocence, the Innocence Project’s Communications Director Paul Cates told Sputnik.

The Michigan registry report described a record 149 exonerations in 2015, of which a record 58 convicts in murder cases were found innocent.

“The DNA exonerations represent the tip of the iceberg,” Cates said when asked about a report released on Wednesday by the University of Michigan’s National Registry of Exonerations. … continue

FBI cover-up? Dead Oregon rancher’s family call his shooting unjustified for a second time

RT | February 4, 2016

The family of a rancher who was shot by law enforcement during the Oregon standoff is calling the shooting death unjustified for a second time, accusing the FBI and Oregon State Police of a cover-up.

Rancher LaVoy Finicum was shot by Oregon State Police officers during an attempt to stop and arrest the leaders of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation, then on its 25th day. Protesters took over the refuge’s federal building to protest the arson convictions of two other ranchers, as well as to express anger of federal land policy.

“At this point, based on additional information we have now received, it is our position that not only was the shooting death of LaVoy Finicum completely unjustified, but that the FBI and Oregon State Police may also be engaging in a cover-up, and seeking to manipulate and mislead the media and the American public about what really happened,” read a statement from Finicum’s family, obtained by the Oregonian. … continue

The Wages of Plan Colombia Have Been Death

By Daniel Kovalik | teleSUR | February 3, 2016

Plan Colombia’s 15th anniversary will be celebrated in Washington Thursday. But the legacy of the plan is marked by massacres, mass graves, and death squads.

auc_village.jpg_1718483346According to Colombia’s Victims Unit, the number of victims of Colombia’s civil war has surpassed 7 million. This number includes those who have been killed, disappeared or displaced since 1956. For a country of under 50 million citizens, these numbers are staggering, and certainly newsworthy, but apparently not for the mainstream media.

Of course, the violence and human rights abuses in Colombia have constituted inconvenient truths for the Western media as the U.S. has been a major sponsor of the violence and abuses in that country.

Indeed, a notable fact in the Colombia Victims Unit report is that “that the majority of victimization occurred after 2000, peaking in 2002 at 744,799 victims.” It is not coincidental that “Plan Colombia,” or “Plan Washington” as many Colombians have called it, was inaugurated by President Bill Clinton in 2000, thus escalating the conflict to new heights and new levels of barbarity. Plan Colombia is a plan pursuant to which the U.S. has given Colombia billions in mostly military and police assistance. … continue

Report: Egypt committed 75 violations against journalists in January

MEMO – 04.02.2016

An Egyptian human rights group said on Wednesday it had documented 75 cases of violations committed by the Egyptian authorities against journalists’ rights during the month of January.

The Arab Media Freedom Monitor said in a statement: “The Egyptian authorities started 2016 with more violations against freedom of press and media.”

The group documented cases where journalists were arrested, physically abused, imprisoned and had their homes raided. There were also instances where journalists were prevented from covering events, writing and appearing in media outlets, denied travel and dismissed from work.

In a report released by the group, they documented one case of dismissal from work, two cases of raids, two cases of travel bans being placed on journalists, five cases of journalists being prevented from writing and appearing on broadcasts, five cases of arrests, ten cases of physical abuse, 14 cases of trials and imprisonment and 36 cases of the authorities preventing journalists from covering events.

The group also documented the arrest of cartoonist Eslam Jawish for publishing cartoons featuring Egyptian President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi on his Facebook page.

Jawish was released the next day following public outcry.

Iran-Saudi Crisis and Pakistan

By Alexei Abramov – New Eastern Outlook – 04.02.2016

pakistan-army_140093kPakistan has become an intermediary between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the Islamic Republic of Iran against the background of increasing fears that a prolonged bilateral confrontation could potentially have serious consequences for the entire region. With a view to resolving the conflict, the civil and military leadership of Pakistan visited Riyadh and Tehran in January 2016. Both capitals responded favorably to the visits of the high-level guests, the tone of the Iranian leaders changed, the world stood still in anticipation of the detente… but no miracle happened. A few days later Riyadh firmly rejected both the mediatory role of Islamabad and the possibility of a dialogue.

Iran-Saudi tensions were escalating throughout 2015. Riyadh’s irritation grew after diplomatic missions of the Kingdom in Iran were raided, as well as in connection with the lifting of sanctions against Tehran by the United States and the European Union on January 16, 2016, which immediately promised to supply considerable stocks of crude oil to the world market to restore the status of the main hydrocarbon competitor of the KSA. … continue

Turkey’s Refusal of Observation Flight Only Fuels Worries It Supports Daesh

Sputnik – February 4, 2016

Ankara’s refusal to allow Russia to conduct an observation flight over Turkish territory under the Open Skies Treaty confirms Moscow’s concerns that Ankara is supporting the Daesh, which is prohibited in numerous countries including the United States and Russia, on the Turkish-Syrian border, a high-ranking source in the Russian Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

Russian inspectors planned to conduct the observation flight on board an An-30B plane over Turkish territory on February 1-5, but they were refused permission to do so after they arrived in Turkey and announced the flight route.

“This case is of course outrageous because the Open Skies Treaty today is practically one of many mechanisms that continue to operate in the European space and this treaty is valid and allows for acquiring valid information on steps being taken or not being taken by one or another state,” the source told RIA Novosti.

He reminded that in 2015 the West actively accused Russia of illegal activity on the Ukrainian border and NATO member countries requested observation flights over Russian territory, the results of which fully reversed the rumors.

“This once again confirms those concerns that the Russian side has voiced several times on using the Turkish-Syrian border to support Daesh militants,” the source said.

US claims Russia is ‘in part’ to blame for Syrian talks’ halt, misquotes UN as proof

US Regime Change Talks on Syria hit blind alley

By Finian Cunningham | American Herald Tribune | February 4, 2016

And so the wheels of the Geneva talks came off in spectacular fashion, with all parties blaming each other for the breakdown in the so-called Syrian peace process.

The negotiations in the Swiss city were only into their second day –having opened on Monday, and that after a week-long delay –when UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura announced that the talks would be adjourned until February 25. Take it as read: it’s over.

Washington and Paris immediately sought to blame the Syrian government and its Russian and Iranian allies for “torpedoing” the Geneva talks. US Secretary of State John Kerry accused Syria and its allies of seeking a military solution to the five-year-old conflict. With this background of ongoing air and ground assaults, the Geneva negotiations foundered, according to the US and its partners.

Kerry and his French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, are engaging in reality-inversion, ably assisted by the Western mainstream news media.

The fact is the Geneva talks failed because Washington and its terrorist surrogates fighting for regime change in Syria could not affect a semblance of diplomacy. … continue

Think tank director proposes postponement of Russian elections amid Western ‘regime change threat’

Sputnik – February 4, 2016

The head of a political research center has sent a letter to the State Duma chairman urging him to postpone parliamentary and presidential elections in Russia until Western nations stop their attempts at regime change through economic pressure.

56b319a0c36188347f8b4585“I am asking you as the chairman of the State Duma – who has the right to come up with legislative initiatives – to look into the possibility to urgently amend the Constitution with acts that would protect Russia from regime change instigated from abroad and the subsequent breakup [that would result from this],” chairman of the board at the Institute for Political Infrastructure Analysis, Yevgeny Tunik, wrote in his letter to Sergey Naryshkin.

The exact measure suggested by the analyst is a law that would automatically prolong the powers of Russian president and parliament in the event that the authorities decide to introduce a state of emergency or martial law. The new term for legislators and the head of state would last for six months from the moment of the cancellation of the emergency measures. Tunik emphasized that such a step would not violate citizens’ political rights as elections would not be canceled, only postponed.

Tunik also elaborated in his letter that over the past two years Russia has experienced unprecedented pressure from Western nations, primarily from the United States. He warned that the economic crisis and price hike could cause social unrest and protests that, in turn, could bring to power “hostile, pro-Western or even extremist forces.” Canceling all elections for the period of economic crisis would prevent a situation when citizens are asked to make serious choices under pressure from circumstances that could provoke irrational decisions.

“We all can witness the results of 2015 elections in Ukraine that were held in conditions of an undeclared emergency situation,” the analyst noted. … continue

New Data Transfer Deal With EU Unable to Prevent US From Gathering Info

By Svetlana Alexandrova – Sputnik – February 4, 2016

On Tuesday, the European Commission said that Brussels and Washington had agreed on a new data transfer deal regulating information flows across the Atlantic to substitute the 2000 EU-US Safe Harbor agreement, which the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) invalidated in October 2015 because it was deemed to provide inadequate personal data protection.

“From what limited information we have, there appear to have been a few new protections for the privacy of Europeans, at least in comparison to the very sparse protections of the previous Safe Harbor framework. But the biggest flaw is that the US government is unable to offer firm assurances about its surveillance activities,” Senior Global Policy Analyst Jeremy Malcolm said.

The deal also requires Washington to make a written commitment not to conduct indiscriminate mass surveillance of the personal data transferred from the European Union.

“The letters that the US is offering from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in this regard are a far cry from actual law reform that would officially curtail mass surveillance of populations,” Malcolm added. … Full article

Adelson removes publisher of LVRJ, sends signal to employees

By Eoin Higgins | American Herald Tribune | February 4, 2016

The Las Vegas Review-Journal has seen its publisher leave in the latest shakeup for the paper since Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson purchased it in December of 2015. For the past two months, staffers at the Nevada paper have been waiting for the next domino to fall as the paper works on transitioning its editorial and news reporting over to Adelson’s control.

The Review-Journal was sold to an Adelson family shell company, News + Media Capital Group LLC, by GateHouse Media, a subsidiary of New Media Investment Group. GateHouse had purchased the paper only nine months before, in March 2015.

A source inside the paper reached by phone told The American Herald Tribune that Adelson overpaid for the paper, substantially.

“We all know he offered way above what GateHouse paid for it,” the source said, “Which is why they sold. The sale agreement said that GateHouse would maintain operational control and keep the publisher.”

Within two weeks of Adelson’s purchase of the Review-Journal, the paper’s editor, Michael Hengel, had his contract bought out and left. Hengel had spearheaded the paper’s internal investigation into the identity of the buyer before resigning. … continue

Seventy years of harassing political establishment and people of Europe

Oriental Review | February 4, 2016

vtek-230x170According to a “sensational” article by the Telegraph, the US director of National Intelligence was recently instructed by Congress to “conduct a major review into Russian clandestine funding of European parties over the last decade.” This disclosure – a classic “controlled leak” – is intended to warn disobedient yet popular political entities across Europe to scale back their ambitions to rebalance the roles and weight of their nation states within the European Union. Hungary’s Jobbik, Greece’s Golden Dawn, Italy’s Lega Nord, and France’s Front National are explicitly included in the US “warning list,” while other unnamed “parties” in Austria, the Czech Republic, and the Netherlands are being advised that they are “under a US security probe.” Even the new British Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is suspected of flirting with the Russians. So, according to the sponsor of the Telegraph’s story, any European politician who dares to question NATO’s eastward expansion, the policy of anti-Russian sanctions, or the current European stance on the Ukrainian conflict is essentially a witting or unwitting tool of “Russia’s hybrid warfare.”

Well, that would be funny if it weren’t so dangerous. In fact, any impartial observer would pose some simple questions: Why the hell do US intelligence agencies care about challenges to Europe’s internal security? Aren’t they the same agents who finance, recruit, and control countless political organizations, individuals, and media outlets on the European continent? Why are they so brazenly revealing their dominion over Europe? … continue

US military-sponsored think tank accuses Sputnik news of ‘discrediting’ West & NATO

RT | February 4, 2016

A US think tank, which notably receives funding from the military sector, has lashed out at Russia’s Sputnik news agency, claiming in a new report that the media organization “discredits” Western governments and institutions such as NATO.

The Washington-based Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), which helps the US and central and eastern Europe to shape strategies and policies, has now shifted its focus towards Russia’s “modern warfare”, shining a specific spotlight on the English-language agency. […]

In the case of CEPA, a non-profit, non-partisan think tank, however, the interest seems to be supported by sponsors, including the US Department of Defense and corporations connected to the US military sector.

Nearly a third of CEPA’s “recent donors” consist of defense contractors and military aircraft manufacturers, such as Lockheed Martin Corporation, Raytheon Company, Sikorsky Aircraft, Bell Helicopter and Textron Systems.

CEPA Executive Vice President Marcin Zaborowski is a strong proponent of NATO expansion in eastern Europe, a devoted supporter of Ukraine and vocally criticizes NATO leaders’ “at best modest” response to “the Russian threat.” […]

The “Russian propaganda” threat has been preoccupying US officials, who perceive it to be “a challenge to the NATO system.”

Last year Secretary of State John Kerry asked US lawmakers for more money for propaganda and “democracy promotion” programs around the world. His calls were then echoed by the House Foreign Affairs Committee that urged the US government to invest more in media warfare around the world.

Just recently David Kramer, Senior Director at the McCain Institute and former president of Freedom House, called for more “aggressive, offensive” measures to negate the influence of Russian media outlets like RT and Sputnik.

“This means that these Russian channels should simply be closed,” Kramer told the Lithuanian weekly news magazine Veidas. “Not because of what they publish, but because of where they get the money.” … Full article

BBC Two Show About Hypothetical WWIII ‘Dangerous Provocation’

Sputnik – 04.02.2016

Russian Ambassador to Latvia Alexander Veshnyakov called the World War Three: Inside the War Room (BBC Two) show a ‘dangerous provocation’ that aims to discredit pro-Russian forces in Europe.

The BBC program explores a hypothetical WWIII scenario, where Russia invades Latvia after Russian nationalists boil over their lack of self-determination in Latvia. Russia then launches a nuclear strike on the British military.

“We consider this TV-program a dangerous provocation. I’ve been working in Latvia for 8 years and do not know of any separatist organization here,” Veshnyakov said in an official commentary on the Embassy’s Facebook page.

According to Veshnyakov, the TV program scenario pursues a purely political agenda.

“This scenario is absolutely contrived, going after political goals: first, to engage in an information war to demonize Russia. Second, to justify the needs of the military-political lobby to increase the spending of NATO in Europe more than 4 times. Third, to discredit any political forces in Latvia, in Europe, that treat Russia without bias.” … continue

Who was Cecil Rhodes?

By John Wight | American Herald Tribune | February 2 ,2016

Was he the great businessman, politician, patriot, and visionary his admirers claim, a man who did more than any other to develop an African continent which in the 19th century was imprisoned behind walls of primitiveness, barbarism, superstition and under-development? Or was he in truth a rampant racist and colonialist, a white supremacist who treated a large swathe of Africa as his personal fiefdom, ruthlessly exploiting its people and resources for personal gain and enrichment?

These are the questions that underpin the contested history not just of Cecil Rhodes but European colonialism and empire in toto.

They are questions that have come to the fore in recent weeks over the campaign by students at Britain’s elite Oxford University to have a statue of Cecil Rhodes removed from the building of one if its colleges – Oriel College, to be precise – on the basis that he was a racist and a colonialist, a slaveholder whose veneration is an insult to the countless millions of Africans who suffered unspeakable exploitation and cruelty under Rhodes in the land he ruled, named after him as Rhodesia, which later became Zimbabwe.

Rhodes and other men like him from across the European continent in the 19th century – colonialists, adventurers, soldiers of fortune, administrators, merchants, etc. – arrived and set about the necessary task of introducing civilization and order to savages who’d only ever known spiritual and cultural desolation. This was their belief and the justification employed to plunder and pillage an entire continent, reducing its people to abject misery and despair while indulging in genocidal brutality and barbarity.

On this basis it is not only the statue of Cecil Rhodes that constitutes an offence to decency and justice. Every second grand statue and monument that litters central London and other British towns and cities are statues and monuments to the brutality of colonialism and empire, dripping in the blood of countless human beings whose only crime was to be born African or Indian or Irish in a period when to be such was to be untermenschen in the eyes of people like Cecil Rhodes and the ruling elites in the societies that produced them. … continue

Ma’an – 3-2-2016

365235CJERUSALEM – Dozens of right-wing Israelis toured the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Wednesday under Israeli police escort, while a number of Palestinian men and women were denied entry to the holy site.

Witnesses said that as many as 70 Israelis entered the compound through the Dung Gate, accompanied by nearly 20 Israeli Border Police and two Israeli intelligence officers.

Israeli police meanwhile prevented a number Palestinian women and men from entering the compound, saying that they were members of the blacklisted Murabitat and Murabitun — Muslim groups that protest what they see as an increasing Jewish presence at the holy site.

Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib told Ma’an that Israeli police were “escalating” actions against the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound as well as the Ministry of Endowments.

He said that Israeli police actions were “unacceptable” and were intended to delay restoration work inside the compound. … Full article

Over 50 Israeli violations against Journalists in January

There are now 18 Palestinian journalists in Israeli prisons

Palestine Information Center – 3-2-2016

GAZA – The media and press teams that try to cover the Israeli violence in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip are facing escalating violations at the hands of the Israeli army and Palestinian security forces.

The Palestinian Radio and Television Stations Union documented in its report for January, 2016, more than 45 violations against journalists and media correspondents.

This includes arrests, extension of detention, direct assaults in the field, and prevention from media coverage, in continuous attempts to distort the truth about the Israeli terror against Palestinians.

According to the Union, the arrests, detentions, extension of detentions, summoning to investigations, and breaking into houses during January reached 10 cases.

The Israeli forces arrested the journalist Mujahid al-Sa’adi, correspondent of Palestine Today TV channel, and extended his detention three times so far in January. … continue

Riyadh to tap global bond markets to balance budget

RT | February 3, 2016

Saudi Arabia is planning its first sale of international bonds to cover the huge $87 billion budget deficit expected this year as a result of falling crude prices, reports the Financial Times.

The first dollar-denominated bond could be about $5 billion and possibly split into tranches, the paper reported, quoting banking sources. It added that the first issuance is unlikely to have a long maturity.

The bond sale will depend on the price of oil, the Kingdom’s financial reserves and market volatility.

“Saudi Arabia won’t have any problems accessing international bond markets,” according to Steven Hess, lead sovereign analyst for Saudi Arabia at credit rating agency Moody’s.

“But I don’t expect them to issue Eurobonds in the first quarter of the year while markets are so volatile. Then again if oil prices stay where they are then the need to finance the deficit plans could be accelerated. The size and price is going to depend a lot on external circumstances,” he said.

According to the FT, international banks have already sent proposals for participation, trying to convince Riyadh they could secure the best borrowing rate which is expected to become a new benchmark in Middle Eastern debt.

The government also announced a possible public offering of shares in state-owned energy group Saudi Aramco, the world’s most valuable company. According to Andrew MacFarlane from BNP Paribas, the energy firm could be worth about $2-$3 trillion. This means the sale of just five percent of the company could cover the government’s deficit for a year.

Last year, Saudi Arabia issued its first domestic bonds since 2007. This followed the country posting a record $98 billion budget deficit because of low oil prices, along with military spending in Syria and Yemen. … Full article

UK, global hub of private military industry

Press TV – February 3, 2016

A new report says Britain is the “mercenary kingpin” of global private military industry which has been booming ever since the “war on terror” began 15 years ago.

The report by the charity War on Want based in Britain also noted that the UK multinational G4S is now the world’s largest private security company. Meanwhile, no fewer than 14 companies are based in Hereford, close to the headquarters of the SAS, from whose ranks at least 46 companies hire recruits.

“The huge increase in the number of private military and security companies, with contracts running into billions of pounds, signals the return of the “dogs of war era that followed the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq,” said Executive Director of War on Want, John Hilary.

According to the report, at the height of the occupation of Iraq, about 80 British companies operated in Iraq. There are now hundreds operating in areas of conflict around the world, bound only by a system of self-regulation.

The report also stated that in Libya, UK companies led the way after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. … Full article

Halt Saudi arms sales immediately, probe civilian attacks in Yemen – MPs

RT | February 3, 2016

A group of MPs have called on the British government to immediately suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia and have demanded an independent inquiry into the war in Yemen, where British arms are thought to have been used against civilians.

In a letter to Development Secretary Justine Greening, the International Development Select Committee urged the UK to cease opposing an inquiry which aims to examine potential breaches of humanitarian law by the Saudi bombing campaign in Yemen.

It comes after human rights charities and anti-war groups criticized Saudi Arabia for allegedly bombing civilian targets.

The British government has sold £1 billion (US$1.45 billion) worth of arms to the Saudi government in the past year. … continue

Arms, financial supply to terrorists must be blocked: Iran’s Rouhani

85482fa8-c22c-4eb0-a18d-ad84a4e027a2Press TV – February 3, 2016

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has described terrorism as a serious threat to the entire world, including Europe, calling for measures to stop financial and arms supply to terrorists.

The Iranian president made the remarks in a meeting with visiting German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Tehran on Wednesday. […]

Earlier in the day, Steinmeir also held a meeting with Iran’s Parliament (Majlis) Speaker Ali Larijani, during which the Iranian official expressed concern over growing tensions in the Middle East and criticized some regional states over their role in fomenting regional conflicts.

Larijani also said Saudi Arabia’s military adventurism in the region will fail just like US military aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq. … Full article

February – 2016

January – 2016


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