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Armenia is Swarmed by Western NGOs

By Vladimir Platov – New Eastern Outlook – 25.06.2016

The tactics of employing non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for the preparation of so-called “color revolutions” in North Africa, the Middle East and a number of former Soviet states has been the modus operandi of the US and its satellites, which have been thoroughly discussed in various NEO articles.

It’s curious that these NGOs who are heavily sponsored by Washington choose to act precisely in those moments when a specific state begins resisting pressure applied on it by the so-called Western World. This resistance often is manifested as a reluctance to support certain projects that were put forward by Washington.

If we are to talk about post-Soviet regions, all Western NGOs, and American ones in particular, have been particularly active in Central Asian and Caucasus states over recent years in a bid to launch “color revolutions” across the majority of them.

Western NGOs have been particularly active in Armenia recently, which remains Russia’s most faithful ally in the Caucasus region. In an effort to repeat a Ukrainian-style scenario in Armenia and to force this country away from Russia, these Western-backed organizations have been trying to use any minor concern among the civilian population to provoke demonstrations and unrest, taking advantage of the huge funds they have been receiving. … continue

Brexit could have destroyed UK… & it might be for the best

RT | June 24, 2016

It looks increasingly possible that Brexit will lead to the demise of the United Kingdom. That may be for the best, as it’s abundantly clear that the four members now have markedly different concerns.

Do you remember where you were on May 1, 2004? I do. I was in Dublin watching the Irish government – which held the rotating European Union presidency – welcome 10 new members to the bloc. It was the single biggest expansion, in terms of population, in the EU’s history. But tellingly, not in terms of wealth.

Make no mistake: that was also the day Britain’s membership of the EU became unsustainable. Because the main reason Brexit has been passed is English anger at the consequences of unfettered mass immigration. Despite a negative fertility rate (1.75 in 2004 vs. 2.41 in 1971), the population of the United Kingdom rose from 59.99 million in 2004 to 64.1 million in 2013. That surge of over 4 million in less than a decade is greater than the entire increase in the 33 years from 1971-2004.

Before the 2004 expansion, which admitted the likes of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Baltic States, internal EU migration was manageable. That was down to the fact that living standards weren’t vastly different across the union. For example, life in Portugal, the then-poorest member, wasn’t that much worse than in wealthier countries like Germany, France and Denmark. However, the gap between wages in Latvia, for instance, and London was astounding. Back in 2004, the average worker in Riga brought home €239 ($265) a month. That was less than 10 percent of London incomes which were £2,058 (around €2,900 at the time). Thus, it’s hard to blame east Europeans for seizing the opportunity to move west. … continue

From Iraq to UK Referendum: Tony Blair’s Toxic Legacy

By Felicity Arbuthnot | Dissident Voice | June 24, 2016

Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, currently back in Britain, cast a dark shadow over those campaigning to stay in the European Union in the June 23rd referendum. Inflicting himself on the Britain Stronger in Europe group, he spoke at every opportunity – reminding even the most passionate Europhile of the last time he assured “I know I’m right” – Iraq.

If the “Remainers” had an ounce of sense, Blair should have been ditched in a nano-second. He is not “Toxic Tony” for nothing.

However, since the long awaited Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq invasion is to be published just thirteen days after the referendum (July 6th) it is worth revisiting more of the mistruths of which he is capable.

On March 18th, 2003, Blair stood in Parliament and listed the times Saddam Hussein’s government had said they had no weapons of mass destruction dismissing them all, including the 11,800 pages or 12,200 pages of accounting of that which they did not possess and delivered by the Iraqi delegation at the UN to the UN UNSCOM offices on December 8th, 2002.

Lest it be forgotten, the reason for the uncertainty of the length of the volume is that the US delegation simply appropriated it and returned less than 4,000 pages so heavily redacted as to be indecipherable – and without the hefty index at the back listing the Western arms companies who had, prior to the first Gulf war, sold them weapons. … continue

Trump Will Not Recognize Palestinian Statehood if elected President

Sputnik – 25.06.2016

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has backtracked from his neutral position on the Israel-Palestine conflict, and is now “committed” to supporting Israeli settlement expansion on territories it has seized illegally, according to an advisor.

David M. Friedman, a real-estate attorney serving as Trump’s main advisor on Israel, said the Republican presidential candidate and reality television star would not support the recognition of the Palestinian state without “the approval of the Israelis.” Friedman also remarked that Trump was unconcerned with the inhabitants of the West Bank, because “nobody really knows how many Palestinians live there.”

Trump made Friedman a part of his campaign staff in April, at a meeting with Orthodox Jews, naming him and Jason Greenblatt, another real-estate lawyer and Trump’s chief attorney, as his advisors on Israel. Friedman said at the time, “Mr. Trump’s confidence is very flattering. My views on Israel are well known, and I would advise him in a manner consistent with those views. America’s geopolitical interests are best served by a strong and secure Israel, with Jerusalem as its undivided capital.” Friedman has made no secret of his feelings about a two-state solution with Palestine, writing that, “It was never a solution, just an illusion that served both the US and the Arabs.” … continue

Israel moves to keep interrogations from being filmed

Ma’an – June 24, 2016

523421460BETHLEHEM – Israel’s Public Security Ministry proposed its latest bill to prevent “security” interrogations from being videotaped, for “fear the footage could reach terror groups that would learn Israeli interrogation techniques,” Israeli media said Friday.

According to the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, there is a “fear” that those being interrogated would refuse to reveal information in the event the video could possibly reach the groups they had informed against, said Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

In 2003 a law came into effect that required Israeli police to document almost all its interrogations, both visually and aurally. Since then, the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee has consistently approved an “exemption” for security interrogations, which Israeli Deputy Attorney General Raz Nazri reiterated “stems from security considerations.” … continue

Palestinian woman shot dead after her car hits Israeli vehicle

Press TV – June 24, 2016

Israeli forces have shot and killed a young Palestinian woman after her car crashed into a station wagon near the entrance of an illegal Israeli settlement in the southern part of the occupied West Bank.

The shooting was carried out at the Elias Junction, a popular hitch-hiking destination in close proximity to the entrance of the Kiryat Arba settlement on the outskirts of the city of al-Khalil (Hebron), located 30 kilometers (19 miles) south of al-Quds (Jerusalem), on Friday afternoon.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health identified the slain woman as Majd al-Khadour. Israeli sources said she was 18 years old.

Two Israelis, reportedly a man and a woman in their 50s, sustained light injuries in the accident, and were transported to the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in al-Quds for treatment.

An unnamed Israeli army spokesperson said Israeli forces fired several shots at the Palestinian woman after she allegedly carried out a car-ramming attack.

Photos published by the Palestinian media outlets show a red car whose front had been badly damaged in what appeared to be a collision. There were a number of bullet holes through the windshield as well.

Khadour’s killing came only four day after Israeli forces shot and killed 15-year-old Palestinian teenager Mahmoud Badran and seriously injured four others.

The Israeli military initially said that Badran was “neutralized” for allegedly throwing stones at moving vehicles between the villages of Beit Sira and Beit Ur in the West Bank.

It later admitted that the teenagers were mistakenly targeted and had no connection to the stone-throwing incident. … Full article

Israel orders closure of PA-funded television channel in Israel

Ma’an – June 24, 2016

BETHLEHEM – Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan issued an order Friday banning the Palestinian Authority (PA)-funded television channel Musawa for six months, claiming the channel represents an affront to Israel’s sovereignty.

The channel was previously named Palestine 48 and was shut down by the Israeli government last year, before changing their name to Musawa and resuming activities, according to Israeli media.

Although the show is edited in the occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, it is recorded in Nazareth, leading Israeli authorities to crackdown on the channel for purportedly lacking proper permission for foreign entities to operate in Israel. … continue

Sanders in New York

By Stephen Lendman | June 24, 2016

His so-called “where we go from here speech” fell short, repeating warmed-over themes highlighted throughout his campaign – ones he largely failed to support during 30 years in public office.

His record shows a deplorable habit of saying one thing, then doing another, destroying his credibility. His populist rhetoric rings hollow.

Days earlier, he acknowledged Clinton becoming Democrat party presumptive standard bearer, saying “(i)t doesn’t appear that I’m going to be the nominee, so I’m not going to be determining the scope of the convention.” … continue

Non-military federal agencies have more firearm authority than entire US Marine Corps ‒ report

RT | June 24, 2016

The militarization of local law enforcement in America has long been documented, but a new report found 67 federal agencies such as the IRS and Health and Human Services have spent $1.48 billion purchasing guns, ammunition and military-style equipment.

Among the startling findings in the 50-page report is that the 67 non-military agencies and 15 Cabinet-level departments have more than 200,000 federal officers with arrest and firearm authority, which exceeds the size of the entire United State Marine Corps, with its 182,000 personnel.

The documented purchases were made over an eight-year period from fiscal years 2006 to 2014. The report found traditional law enforcement agencies spent just 77 percent of that amount to make purchases totaling $1.14 billion during the same time period.

Other findings were that the Internal Revenue Service shelled out nearly $11 million on guns and ammunition for 2,316 “special agents.”

“The IRS stockpile includes pump-action and semi-automatic shotguns with buckshot and slugs; and semi-automatic AR-15rifles (S&W M&P 15) and military-style H&K 416 rifles,” the report said. … continue

Why Pentagon Mistook Russian GLONASS Station in Nicaragua For Spy Base

Sputnik – 24.06.2016

Reports that Russia is supposedly constructing an electronic surveillance site in Nicaragua disguised as a GLONASS satellite navigation tracking station are not grounded in reality, Russian experts and officials say.

The signals intelligence base is allegedly a part of an $80 million arms deal inked in 2015 that will see Moscow deliver 50 T-72 tanks to Managua, defense analyst Bill Gertz wrote for the Washington Free Beacon, citing unnamed officials familiar with the arrangement. The Pentagon, he added, has been concerned with these developments.

The sources did not say when the site is expected to become operational. No details have been provided on the location of the spy base, but unconfirmed reports suggest that “the site could be disguised as a Russian GLONASS satellite navigation tracking station that is said to be nearing completion,” Gertz added.

GLONASS is the Russian version of the GPS, a global navigation satellite system meant to fix the location and speed of surface, sea and air objects to within an accuracy of one meter.The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not issue an official statement on the issue, but an unnamed diplomat, according to the Vzglyad newspaper, dismissed the reports as a “fantasy,” pointing to the fact that cooperation between Russia and Nicaragua is based on “open and transparent agreements.”

“Apparently, it was the information that Russia is determined to construct a mobile digital topographic center in Nicaragua” that sparked these reports, the daily noted. … Full article

Ten Worst Acts of the Nuclear Age

By David Krieger | Waging Peace | June 22, 2016

The ten worst acts of the Nuclear Age described below have set the tone for our time. They have caused immense death and suffering; been tremendously expensive; have encouraged nuclear proliferation; have opened the door to nuclear terrorism, nuclear accidents and nuclear war; and are leading the world back into a second Cold War. These “ten worst acts” are important information for anyone attempting to understand the time in which we live, and how the nuclear dangers that confront us have been intensified by the leadership and policy choices made by the United States and the other eight nuclear-armed countries. … continue

United States bombings of other countries

By William Blum | American Herald Tribune | June 23, 2016

It is a scandal in contemporary international law, don’t forget, that while “wanton destruction of towns, cities and villages” is a war crime of long standing, the bombing of cities from airplanes goes not only unpunished but virtually unaccused. Air bombardment is state terrorism, the terrorism of the rich. It has burned up and blasted apart more innocents in the past six decades than have all the antistate terrorists who ever lived. Something has benumbed our consciousness against this reality. In the United States we would not consider for the presidency a man who had once thrown a bomb into a crowded restaurant, but we are happy to elect a man who once dropped bombs from airplanes that destroyed not only restaurants but the buildings that contained them and the neighborhoods that surrounded them. I went to Iraq after the Gulf war and saw for myself what the bombs did; “wanton destruction” is just the term for it. – C. Douglas Lummis, political scientist

The above was written in 1994, before the wanton destruction generated by the bombing of Yugoslavia, another in a long list of countries the United States has bombarded since the end of World War II, which is presented below. … continue

Killing Taxi Drivers for Freedom

Brian CLOUGHLEY | Strategic Culture Foundation | 19.06.2016

The prospect of Hillary Clinton being President of the United States of America is one to fill our minds with dread concerning the likely posture of Washington in foreign affairs should she ever attain the Oval Office. There is no doubt she would continue or even increase the intensity of Washington’s military confrontations with China and Russia — and enjoy smacking the wrists of smaller countries whose actions might displease her. Indeed her castigation might go further, even to the extent of rejoicing in the murder of national leaders such as President Gaddafi of Libya, about whom she laughed “We came. We saw. He died.”

Who might be next, with Hillary at the helm?

Under her reign the US military presence around the world would be maintained or expanded — but no matter who is in the White House, the hundreds of military bases surrounding China and Russia will continue operations and the US nuclear-armed fleets that roam the seas and oceans will maintain their aggressive posture.

Drone assassinations will also continue and more innocent people like that poor taxi driver in Pakistan will be killed by US Hellfire missiles guided by gleeful techno-cretins who move control sticks and prod buttons while playing barbaric video games from their comfortable killing couches in drone-control bases. … continue

Turkish parliament grants immunity to security, armed forces

Press TV – June 24, 2016

Turkey’s parliament has passed legislation that grants immunity to security and armed forces involved in “counter-terrorism” operations, amid a Turkish crackdown on separatist Kurdish groups.

The parliament voted late on Thursday not to prosecute military and security forces, who have recently been carrying out operations against PKK militants in southeast Turkey as well as in northern Iraq and Syria.

The new law requires permission from the military or political leadership for any prosecution of soldiers. The law will be applied retroactively, thereby covering the operations undertaken over the past year.

Civil servants engaged in counter-terrorism activities will also be protected from prosecution, according to the law.

It also expands the jurisdiction of military courts. The legislation could make it harder to investigate allegations of rights abuses by the forces. … Full article

How Severe Is Venezuela’s Crisis?

By Gabriel Hetland | The Nation | June 23, 2016

According to The New York Times, Venezuela is “a country that is in a state of total collapse,” with shuttered government officeswidespread hunger, and failing hospitals that resemble “hell on earth.” There is reportedly “often little traffic in Caracas simply because so few people, either for lack of money or work, are going out.” The Washington Post, which has repeatedly called for foreign intervention against Venezuela, describes the country using similar, at times identical, language of “collapse,” “catastrophe,” “complete disaster,” and “failed state.” A recent Post article describes a “McDonald’s, empty of customers because runaway inflation means a Happy Meal costs nearly a third of an average monthly wage.” NPR reports “Venezuela is Running Out of Beer Amid Severe Economic Crisis”. When Coca-Cola announced plans to halt production due to a lack of sugar, Forbes dubbed Venezuela “the Country With No Coke.” The Wall Street Journal reports on fears that people will “die of hunger.”

Is Venezuela descending into a nightmarish scenario, as these stories suggest? To answer this question I’ve spent the last three weeks talking to dozens of people—rich and poor, Chavista and opposition, urban and rural—across Venezuela. … continue

Northern Ireland’s Sinn Fein May Push for Poll on Irish Unity After Brexit Vote

Sputnik — 24.06.2016

On Thursday, the United Kingdom held a referendum, in which a majority of Northern Irish voters supported retaining membership of the 28-nation bloc. Despite this fact, support for Brexit in England and Wales outweighed resistance to the move in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

“Sinn Féin will now be pushing for a border poll, a measure agreed upon in the Good Friday Agreement 18 years ago, to provide Irish citizens with the right to vote for an end to partition [division of Ireland] and to retain a role in the EU,” Martina Anderson said.

“There is an onus on the British government to recognize the vote in the devolved administrations and there is an onus on them to provide answers for the several unanswered questions that the people of the North have,” Anderson said. … Full article

Brexit Raises Necessity for France’s EU Membership Referendum – EU Lawmaker

Sputnik — 24.06.2016

The decision of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union raises the necessity to hold a referendum on EU membership in France, Jean-Luc Schaffhauser, a French member of the European Parliament from the Europe of Nations and Freedom group, told Sputnik on Friday.

“It raises the necessity to make also a referendum in France,” Schaffhauser said in the wake of the Brexit vote.

On Thursday, the United Kingdom held a referendum on its EU membership, with Prime Minister David Cameron calling on the UK nationals to vote to remain. Earlier on Friday, it was announced that 51.9 percent of voters supported Brexit.

“It is a big opportunity to rebuild Europe on new basis and this basis would be Europe of nations, Europe of freedom and Europe of cooperation. For me it is not the end of Europe, it is an end of institutions [that] always want to have more power on top,” the lawmaker added.

Earlier, Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s National Front party, known for its eurosceptic rhetoric, reiterated her demands to hold a referendum on the country’s EU membership after UK nationals voted to leave the bloc.

The British decision came at a time when anti-EU sentiment is on the rise. According to a survey issued by the Pew Research Center earlier in June, 47 percent of respondents in 10 European states have an “unfavorable view” of the European Union.

NYPD officer dodges jail for stomping on man’s head, adds to ‘not uncommon’ cop crime stats

RT | June 24, 2016

A New York Police Department officer has avoided hard time at notorious Rikers Island prison for stomping on a head of a handcuffed man despite cries for help. Aside from two years’ probation, the cop is required to resign within 24 hours.

“This police officer intentionally and needlessly stomped on the head of a suspect who had already been restrained by fellow officers,” Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said at the sentencing Thursday. “And he did so in broad daylight and in front of a crowd of people.”

In April, Joel Edouard, 38, was found guilty after an amateur video showed him and other police officers arresting Jahmiel Cuffee in the summer of 2014. It was Edouard who, during the attempted arrest, pointed a gun at Cuffee and then kicked him in the head, despite bystanders yelling that he was being recorded. … continue

Baltimore police driver Goodson found not guilty in Freddie Gray case

RT | June 23, 2016

Officer Caesar Goodson, Jr. has been found not guilty of all charges in the death of Freddie Gray. Goodson was the driver of the police van in which Gray suffered a fatal spinal injury in April 2015, sparking riots in Baltimore, Maryland.

Of the six officers involved in Gray’s arrest, Goodson faced the most serious charges, including second-degree “depraved-heart murder,” second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, and misconduct in office. Like Gray, he is African-American.

A veteran of the Baltimore Police Department, Goodson chose a bench trial before Circuit Judge Barry Williams, who delivered the verdict Thursday morning. Previously, Williams acquitted Officer Edward Nero of all charges, while the prosecution of William Porter ended in a mistrial due to a hung jury. … Full article

House Republicans Think the Fed Is In Conspiracy With the Rich: Are They Right?

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens | Wall Street On Parade | June 23, 2016

Millions of Americans think that Congressional Republicans are in conspiracy with groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Cato Institute, Koch brothers, and the Mercatus Center to advance an agenda of increasing corporate profits while sacking the needs of the poor and middle class. That doesn’t mean, however, that Republicans can’t sometimes spot a conspiracy on the part of others.

Yesterday, four Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee, during the semi-annual monetary policy testimony by Fed Chair Janet Yellen, presented a persuasive argument that it’s really the Federal Reserve (which was flattered by many House Democrats at the hearing) that’s sacrificing the poor and middle class in order to benefit the rich and “the Goldman Sachs CEOs of the world.” … continue

‘Bin Laden bodyguard’ in Gitmo since day 1 released to Montenegro

RT | June 23, 2016

A Yemeni man accused of being a bodyguard for Osama Bin Laden was released after spending more than 14 years in the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Fewer than 80 prisoners remain in the camp, with 29 eligible for release.

Abdel Malik Wahab al-Rahabi, now 37, was brought to Camp X-Ray on the day the prison facility opened in 2002. He was one of the 20 men photographed on his knees in a cage. Only four of those ‘Day 1 detainees’ remain at the notorious camp, administered by the US military’s Joint Task Force Guantanamo. […]

Though he was detained on suspicion of belonging to a group of “bodyguards” to Al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden, al-Rahabi was never charged with any crime. His release was authorized by the federal Periodic Review Board in 2014, but the US refused to send him back to Yemen, citing the concerns over terrorism and the ongoing conflict in that country. … Full article

Federal Court: The Fourth Amendment Does Not Protect Your Home Computer

By Mark Rumold | EFF | June 23, 2016  

In a dangerously flawed decision unsealed today, a federal district court in Virginia ruled that a criminal defendant has no “reasonable expectation of privacy” in his personal computer, located inside his home. According to the court, the federal government does not need a warrant to hack into an individual’s computer. … continue

‘FBI uses situations with terrorism to gain access to Americans’ private lives’ – John McAfee

RT | June 23, 2016

The FBI uses situations like terrorism as a pretext to enter the private lives of Americans. It shows the US government has lost sight of the meaning of privacy, John McAfee, of McAfee Antivirus, former Libertarian candidate for president, told RT America.

The US Senate rejected Wednesday a bill that would empower the FBI to get warrantless access to people’s metadata, including internet browsing histories. It had been proposed after the shooting at a gay club in Orlando. However, another vote on the bill – is expected to come soon. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell switched his vote to ‘no’ at the end of the voting in a move that will allow him to bring the legislation up for consideration again. … continue

BUILDING 7: University of Alaska Study to Examine Controlled Demolition of WTC 7

By Stuart Hooper – 21st Century Wire – June 22, 2016

This is long overdue.

The University of Alaska is sponsoring a study that will examine whether of not WTC Building 7 was brought down by a controlled demolition on September 11, 2001.

For those who may not be aware, standing some 47 stories high, Building 7 was the third skyscraper that collapsed later in the afternoon on 9/11, dropping at free-fall speed – in less than 7 seconds – and yet, it was not struck by any plane and was located over 100 metres away from WTC 1 and 2.

The official version of events is that fire spread to Building 7, from the main towers, devastating the structure, and causing it also to fall in on itself, but many have questioned how exactly every single support column in the building could have failed simultaneously without the use of pre-planned explosives.

Dr J Leroy Hulsey, chair of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, has partnered with Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth to begin a rigorous academic study into what really caused it to collapse. … continue

9/11 Cover-Up Unraveling: 28 pages, JASTA bill, KSM trial fiasco a “perfect storm” – But Beware of Limited Hang-outs

By Kevin Barrett | American Herald Tribune | June 23, 2016

… Today we are facing a potential re-opening of the 9/11 investigation, paralleling the way the JFK assassination investigation was re-opened by the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) from 1976 to 1978. In both cases, public skepticism toward the official versions, alongside the work of independent researchers, has created a climate in which calls for a new investigation could fall on receptive ears. Unfortunately, if a new 9/11 investigation follows in the footsteps of the HSCA, it could destroy the official story — but in such a way as to prevent an aroused public from rising up and demanding that the full truth be revealed, the perpetrators punished, and the government restructured in such a way as to ensure that no such murderous coup d’état ever happens again. (The HSCA concluded that JFK was murdered by unknown conspirators, hinted that the mafia was involved, but offered no rousing call to uncover the full truth and prosecute the perpetrators.)

Calls for an HSCA-style re-opening of 9/11 could follow developments in three related legislative and judicial venues: The push for the release of the classified 28 pages of the Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11; the JASTA bill allowing survivors and victims’ family members to sue government sponsors of terrorism; and the imminent implosion of the military prosecutions of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged 9/11 mastermind, and his alleged co-conspirators. … Read full article

Has Myanmar’s iconic leader taken genocide lessons from Israel?

By Yvonne Ridley | MEMO | June 23, 2016

aung-san-suu-kyi-3Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi is one of the most famous women in the world. She is a holder of the Nobel Peace Prize and hailed as “the Mandela of Asia” because of her human rights record. However, when we look at her continual lack of concern about the plight of the Rohingya people in the former Burma, you have to question the level of her compassion and integrity.

You may gasp at this and I must admit that I never thought that I would ever write that about such an iconic figure. I, like tens of thousands of others around the world, campaigned long and hard to have the pro-democracy leader freed from the shackles of the Burmese junta which kept her under house arrest for years.

When she was finally released to lead her country to a better future there were tears in my eyes, but now I am completely bewildered by her deathly silence about the pitiful state of the Rohingyas living in squalor and inhumane conditions in Myanmar.

The military junta in Burma-Myanmar refused to acknowledge the existence of the Rohingyas and would only ever refer to them as “Bangladeshis”. Now, under the political leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi, the government has gone one step further by banning the use of the word Rohingya, as if 1.1 million people have just disappeared. One has to ask if she and the generals still lurking in the background are following the Israeli manual on how to deal with unwanted citizens and ethnic minorities. … continue

Uruguay Prepares Mission to Monitor Colombia-FARC Ceasefire

Sputnik – 23.06.2016

Military observers from Uruguay are ready to go to Colombia to monitor the newly-achieved ceasefire between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group, Uruguay’s Deputy Defense Ministry Jorge Menendez told Sputnik.

The government of Colombia announced on Wednesday that a deal had been reached on a ceasefire with FARC.

“This is a political mission, there is a display of quotas, unarmed personnel who will carry out tasks of observation and verification of the ceasefire,” Menendez said.

The Colombian government and FARC have been engaged in peace talks since November 2012 and have reached a number of important agreements including on landmine removal, land reform, transitional justice and an end to illegal drug trafficking.

FARC was formed in 1964 as the military wing of Colombia’s Communist Party.

Blame It on Rio: Politics, Propaganda, and the Weaponization of the Olympics

By Eric Draitser | Stop Imperialism | June 21, 2016

The decision by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to ban the Russian track and field team from competing in the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro is as much about politics as it is about doping and fair play. Indeed, while the International Olympic Committee (IOC) upheld the ruling with caveats that might allow some of the athletes to compete, the public relations damage has already been done. Russia has been cast as a serial violator of doping rules, and must be a country that is dishonest and cheats routinely; those sneaky Russians just can’t be trusted.  Or so the propaganda subtext implies.

But a closer look at the manner in which the Olympics has been politicized reveals that it is, in fact, the US and its allies, not Russia, who have done the most to use this quadrennial competition of the world’s best athletes for political gain. And in so doing, it is Washington that bears responsibility for tainting the Olympics.

While the allegations of Russian doping may or may not be true, and the country’s attempts at addressing the issue may or may not be ineffectual, the fact remains that it is politics and geopolitics, not banned substances, that now befouls the games. A quick survey of recent history shows just how serious this politicization has become. … continue

Behind the US Desire to Restart the Cold War

Sputnik – 23.06.2016

The US Congress has proposed a bill seeking to re-establish a Cold War-era body to counter Russian espionage. Patrick Armstrong, former political counselor at the Canadian Embassy in Moscow, and long-time analyst of the former Soviet Union and the Russian Federation, detailed the reasons why the US seeks to restart the Cold War.

New York-based internet media website BuzzFeed recently reported, citing an unnamed source in the US intelligence service, that the legislation in question calls to revive a presidentially-appointed group to counter “Russian spies and Russian-sponsored assassinations,” in the United States. The group would also investigate the funding of Russian “covert broadcasting” and “media manipulation.”

“One should never forget that all these kinds of bills actually put money into some people’s pocket,” Armstrong told Radio Sputnik. … continue

Pentagon Renews Efforts to Boost European Defense Spending at NATO Summit

Sputnik – June 21, 2016

Defense spending will most likely be a major topic at NATO’s upcoming summit in Warsaw. The United States has already indicated that it will renew its efforts to convince the bloc’s European allies to boost their contributions to the budget, but these calls might largely fall “upon deaf ears,” as defense analyst Dave Majumdar described it.

“Convincing America’s NATO allies to meet minimum defense spending targets remains a vexing problem and solving it has eluded previous US administrations – Republican and Democratic alike,” he observed.

True, only five countries, the US, Greece, Poland, the UK and Estonia, met the 2-percent threshold last year. France, Turkey, Germany and Canada spent between 1 and 1.8 percent of their GDP on defense, with Italy spending 0.95 percent.

This is not the whole story. In absolute terms, the US spent more than 665 billion in 2015, more than all the other NATO members combined. The next largest contribution came from Great Britain, whose defense budget amounted to nearly 60 billion last year. For comparison: France spent nearly 44 billion, while Germany – 39.7 billion. … continue

US Bombing Syrian Troops Would Be Illegal

By Marjorie Cohn | June 22, 2016

In an internal “dissent channel cable,” 51 State Department officers called for “targeted military strikes” against the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, a proposal that President Barack Obama has thus far resisted. However, were he to accept the cable’s advice, he would risk a dangerous – possibly catastrophic – confrontation with Russia. And, such a use of military force in Syria would violate U.S. and international law.

While the cable decries “the Russian and Iranian governments’ cynical and destabilizing deployment of significant military power to bolster the Assad regime,” the cable calls for the United States to protect and empower “the moderate Syrian opposition,” seeking to overthrow the Syrian government.

However, Assad’s government is the only legitimate government in Syria and, as the sovereign, has the legal right to seek international support as it has from Russia and Iran. There is no such legal right for the United States and other countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey, to arm Syrian rebels to attack Assad’s government. … continue

Israeli Official Does Not Want Daesh to Lose in Syria

Sputnik – 23.06.2016

While Israel has stated in the past that it prefers Daesh, also known as ISIS/Islamic State, over the Syrian government under Assad, Israeli military intelligence chief Major General Herzi Halevy has taken that assertion further, telling the Herzliya Conference this week that Israel does not, in fact, want to see the fundamentalist group defeated.

Halevy told the conference that the last three months have been the “most difficult” for Daesh since they first declared a caliphate, and he was quoted by Israeli news sources as saying, “Israel does not want the situation in Syria to end with the defeat of [Daesh].”

The Israeli general said that, “Withdrawal of the superpowers from the region and letting Israel alone in front of Hezbollah and Iran that possess good abilities will put ‘Israel’ in a hard position. Therefore, we’ve got to do all we can so as not finding ourselves in such situation.”

In January, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told the Institute for National Security Studies’ (INSS) conference in Tel Aviv that he’d “choose [Daesh]” over Iran in the Syrian conflict because Iran and Iran-backed groups pose more of a threat to Israel. “We believe [Daesh] will be eventually defeated territorially, after the blows it has been suffering, and in light of the attacks on its oil reserves,” he claimed, referring to Iran as a “rogue regime with designs on a regional hegemony. Hezbollah is Iran’s proxy, with the ability to declare war. Iran currently has terror infrastructure in place in five continents: Asia, Africa, Europe and both in South and North America.” … Full article

US, Israel agree to cyber information-sharing efforts

RT | June 22, 2016

The United States and Israel have signed a joint declaration on cyber defense cooperation, making Israel one of the only nations to join the Department of Homeland Security’s information-sharing platform on cyber threats.

The declaration was signed Tuesday by Israel’s National Cyber Directorate chief Eviatar Matania and Cyber Security Authority head Buky Carmeli, as well as Alejandro Mayorkas, deputy secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security, and Under Secretary of Homeland Security Suzanne Spaulding.

The agreement was announced at the 6th Annual International Cybersecurity Conference at Tel Aviv University.

The bilateral cyber defense initiative will commit the US and Israel to expanded cooperation “for the benefit of dealing effectively with common threats in the cyber domain,” the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement. … continue

Israel Installs Minister to Dig Up Dirt on Boycott Activists

Sputnik – 22.06.2016

The global BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) movement has become such a concern for Israel that a new minister has been appointed expressly to combat it. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has appointed Gilad Erdan, his number-two man in the right wing Likud coalition, as minister of public security, strategic affairs and public diplomacy.

Erdan’s major focus, however, will be attempting to dismantle the BDS movement and handling conflict with Iran.

“I don’t think the main issues are politics and disputes.” Erdan said in a Facebook post, “The questions that must be asked are about our personal security, the values of the police, and the attempts to boycott and delegitimize Israel around the world. Because I have been promised the proper tools, I will have the ability to take action and bring about real change.” … continue

Ecuador. The CIA agent known as Swat, plus others

By Nil NIKANDROV | Strategic Culture Foundation | 22.06.2016

or-37496A mural hanging inside the Ecuadorian parliament building by the famous Ecuadorian painter Oswaldo Guayasamín, titled «Imagen de la Patria», includes an image of a grinning skull in a helmet emblazoned with the acronym «CIA». When the mural was first unveiled in August 1988, Guayasamín explained that this image epitomized all the foreign threats to his native country. And for almost three decades this «CIA skull» has gazed out at the deputies in parliament with a sinister grin.

The CIA’s fingerprints are visible in dozens of incidents in Ecuador in which politicians who threatened US foreign policy were eliminated. For example, in May 1981 the airplane carrying President Jaime Roldós crashed in the province of Loja, a mountainous region of Ecuador. President Reagan had had a hostile relationship with the Ecuadorians: Roldós had refused the invitation to his inauguration and maintained friendly relations with the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and the Cuban government. He also demonstrated his solidarity with the Revolutionary Democratic Front in El Salvador, which opposed the military dictatorship. Roldós was planning to reorganize Ecuador’s oil industry, jeopardizing the interests of transnational oil corporations. Roldós was discarded because of a «whole array of grievances».

Once Rafael Correa took office, the CIA stepped up its work in Ecuador. … continue

End of 50 Year Colombia War at Hand, as Govt, FARC to Sign Peace Deal on July 20

teleSUR | June 21, 2016

Any accord reached by the negotiators in Cuba will need to be confirmed by a popular consultation.

The Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are set to sign a final peace agreement on July 20th, which could put an end to more than 50 years of conflict that has affected more than six million people.

“I think that by July 20 we will have been able to close negotiations in Havana and from there a new era for the country will come,” Colombian President Jose Manuel Santos stated after a Cabinet meeting Monday.

The government has been in talks in Cuba with the FARC since late 2012. They were preceded by two years of secret talks.

Thus far, the two sides have reached accords on more than half a dozen topics including agrarian reform, political participation of former rebels, curbing production and trafficking of illicit substances, and the rights of victims and transitional justice. … continue

Yemen’s Houthis call for consensus president in any peace deal

Press TV – June 22, 2016

Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement has reaffirmed its demand for a consensus president to lead the transition in any peace deal aimed at ending the Saudi aggression against the conflict-hit country.

In a statement on Wednesday, Ansarullah reiterated its position on the main issues that need to be settled in the peace talks currently underway in Kuwait. The statement added that other issues, including the national unity government, depend on the consensus presidency.

“Foremost among these is the presidency which is at the center of the negotiations and on which all the other issues, like the formation of a national unity government and a supreme military and security committee, depend,” the statement noted.

The statement further said the ongoing Saudi airstrikes and the continued blockade and economic restrictions against the impoverished Arab country are a blatant violation of the ceasefire deal that took effect on April 11.

The former Saudi-backed regime insists that resigned president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi should lead any transition. … Full article

Thousands of Bahrainis continue sit-in next to Sheikh Qassem’s house

Al-Manar | June 22, 2016

Bahrain1Thousands of Bahrainis continued their sit-in next to the residence of Sheikh Issa Qassem in Diraz city in condemnation of the regime’s decision to revoke his citizenship.

Meanwhile, media reports noted that Bahraini regime forces isolated Diraz and banned non-residents from entering the city.

The protestors asserted that they will not let the regime forces approach Sheikh Qassem’s house.

In the same context, various Bahraini cities witnessed similar protests against the move which was blasted by several regional states, parties and figures.

The Bahraini regime stripped Ayatollah Sheikh Issa al-Qassem from citizenship on Monday in a clear escalation against Shia clerics in Bahrain.

Nod to oppression? UK military official visits Bahrain

Press TV – June 22, 2016

The head of the British Armed Forces has visited Bahrain, in what has been denounced as London’s consent to Manama’s recently-intensified crackdown on the pro-democracy drive across the Persian Gulf island.

General Sir Nicholas Houghton, Chief of Britain’s Defense Staff (CDS), arrived in Bahrain on Tuesday, only a day after the Bahraini regime stripped Sheikh Isa Qassim, the country’s top Shia cleric, of his citizenship, accusing him of sowing “sectarianism and violence.”

Houghton met with Shaikh Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, the commander-in-chief of the Bahrain Defense Force.

UK-based activism group, the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), condemned the visit, saying, “Bahrain’s ally, the UK, did not even postpone a meeting on military cooperation, let alone issue a statement on this gross repression of Bahrain’s civil society,” referring to the intensified Bahraini crackdown on dissent.

The BIRD was referring to the declared purpose of the visit, namely follow-up coordination between the two countries in the wake of a bilateral agreement to establish a new British naval base in Bahrain.

“Britain is giving Bahrain a green light for repression,” the group said.

British MP, Tim Farron, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, said the visit was a “sad demonstration of just how little” the British government cares about human rights.

Bahrain has been in turmoil since a 2011 uprising demanding greater civil and political rights from the Saudi-backed monarchy.

Clinton’s Likely DoD Secretary Pick Vows US Troops in Syria to Topple Assad

Sputnik – 22.06.2016

1040397116Michele Flournoy, the US civil official predicted by many to head the Pentagon if Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton wins the US presidency in November, said she would alter American strategy to battle Daesh by assisting armed militias, called by Washington “moderate rebels,” to crush the legitimate Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

Speaking at a Center for New American Security (CNAS) think tank conference on Monday, Flournoy, a senior fellow of the organization, urged the US military to put boots on the ground in Syria to assist in  toppling the al-Assad government, recently successful in reclaiming large areas of the country from Daesh.

To accelerate the defeat of the legitimate Syrian government, Flournoy introduced the notion of a “no bombing” zone for the moderate rebels. These so-called moderates are widely accepted as being, in reality, the US-backed armed militias that have been tearing the country apart since the beginning of the civil war in 2011.

To justify her hawkish proposals, Flournoy took the traditional path, resorting to the Russian factor. She claimed that Moscow’s engagement since September 2015 in the war, at the invitation of the Syrian government, does not “support the kind of negotiated conditions we would like to get to.”

The “conditions” she was talking about remain unclear, especially in light of positive results brought about by the contribution of international militaries, including Russia, in stripping Daesh in recent months of 45 percent of the Iraqi territories and 20 percent of the Syrian lands it seized in 2014. Currently, the liberation of the crucial cities of Raqqah and Mosul from Daesh is being prepared, and is expected to inflict extensive damage on the extremists, according to Iraqi Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmad Jamal. … continue

The Left and the EU: Why Cling to This Reactionary Institution?

By Joseph Richardson | CounterPunch | June 22, 2016

Why is it that many people who consider themselves left-wing have such difficulty grasping that the EU is a deeply reactionary institution? The mere fact that those running the EU present it as an internationalist venture dedicated to the creation of a world free of nationalist enmities does not make it so. If we want to examine the EU in its proper light, then we should ignore the high-flown rhetoric in which its supporters indulge, and consider its actual record. And what is the record of the EU, once we penetrate the obfuscatory rhetoric about ‘internationalism’ that surrounds EU policy? Without a doubt, that record is one that should cause those on the left now defending it acute embarrassment, as it starkly contradicts the ideals that the left has always claimed to uphold.

Across the Continent, the unelected officials who have usurped the power of national governments and asserted their right to determine the fates of countless millions, through their adherence to the damaging creed of neoliberalism, have wrought suffering on an unimaginable scale, casting millions into poverty and removing the last vestige of dignity people cling to in an economy that has fallen prey to the voracious claims of big business. They have foisted austerity on unwilling populations, creating a cycle of endless unemployment and ever increasing woe, compelling ordinary workers struggling to eke out an existence in the wake of the most painful recession in living memory to shoulder the burden of repaying a debt which was originally incurred as a result of the criminal behaviour of Europe’s financiers. With brazen contempt for the views of the peoples of Europe they claim to serve, they have connived to topple left-wing governments and deny the citizens of the countries most affected by austerity their one remaining means – their inalienable right to elect a government subservient to their will – of resisting the vicious policies that have reduced them to their present abject state.

It is worth detailing the ways in which the actual practice of the EU diverges sharply from the propagandistic image endorsed by elements of the left. … continue

How “Left Remain” Campaigners Abandoned the Working Class: Lesser Evilism in the EU Referendum

By Thomas Barker | CounterPunch | June 22, 2016

There are few illusions about the reformability of the EU on the left, even amongst those campaigning for Remain. Paul Mason has stated that “it is impossible for the EU to be a democracy”. The ex-Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has described the “point blank refusal” of Greek creditors to “engage in economic arguments.” He explains, “you’re just faced with blank stares. It is as if you haven’t spoken.” No doubt fuelled by these experiences, Varoufakis has since expressed serious doubts about the prospect of his own campaign succeeding – “It will probably end up in failure like all the best intentions.”

In this respect, they are in harmony with the left opposition, who argue that the prospect of reform will inevitably fail because the EU lacks a democratic structure.

But this has not been the main focus of the debate. Instead, the main issue has been less the objective political qualities of the EU than the fear of those leading the Leave campaign. … continue

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