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The Opposite of Transparency: What I Didn’t Read in the TIPP Reading Room

By Katja Kipping | CounterPunch | February 12, 2016

TTIP, the EU-US free trade deal, has secrecy written all over it. Those responsible for it live in dread of any public scrutiny. If it was up to me, I would give everyone who’s interested the chance to make up their own minds on the text of the agreement in its current form. Sigmar Gabriel, Minister for Economic Affairs and a top cheerleader for TTIP, has now set up a reading room in his ministry where since the beginning of February German MPs can each spend two hours looking at those texts on which consensus has already been reached.

A political friend of mine asked me the day before whether she could come with me into the reading room. I had to say no. After a long, tough struggle with the government, at least MPs are able to read the text, but they are the only ones. We are not even allowed to take security-cleared specialists with us into the reading room. As for members of the public, who will ultimately have to bear the brunt of TTIP, they are to have no access whatsoever to the secret text. Not what transparency looks like in my book! … continue

The Politics of Multiculturalism

Coercive Engineered Migration: Zionism’s War on Europe (Part 8 of an 11 Part Series)

By Gearóid Ó Colmáin | Dissident Voice | February 14, 2016

It is particularly ironic that the Zionist-controlled media are pushing the agenda of multiculturalism in Europe while insisting on the right of Israel, the world’s only racist, apartheid state, to exist. At the same time, the conditions for this artificial, dystopian form of multiculturalism involve the destruction of some of the world’s most successful multi-racial states such as Yugoslavia, Libya, Syria and, if they succeed, possibly Eritrea.

What we are witnessing here is a process of engineered acculturation where people are being uprooted, displaced and abandoned to the limitless tyranny of the market and commodity fetishism. The boats crossing the Mediterranean Sea are, to quote Freisleben again, ‘Rothshild’s slaughterships’, the slave-boats of Zionism’s New World Order.

Jacques Attali is one of France’s most respected Zionist penseur, and has been an advisor to successive French governments. He has referred to globalisation’s war against the nation-state as the ‘Somalisation of the world’. Attali has predicted that the Westphalian state will be destroyed during the epochal chaotic transition to a ‘gouvernement mondial’, a global state with Jerusalem as its capital. The idea might appear as utterly far-fetched to a reasonable person but Zionists are not reasonable people and it should be of deep concern that the world’s most powerful governments are being advised by such influential racist fanatics with overtly global ambitions. … continue

Palestinian Woman Delayed Passage Out of Nahhalin While in Labor

By Paul Larudee | IMEMC News & Agencies | February 13, 2016

Israeli military forces, on Friday, delayed passage for a Palestinian woman in labor out of the Bethlehem-area town of Nahhalin, as the army continued to seal the town following an attack on an Israeli settler, earlier this week.

Nahhalin resident Sheikh Mohammad Shakarneh told Ma’an News Agency that the pregnant woman, after going into labor, attempted to cross a military checkpoint out of the West Bank village to a local hospital.

Israeli forces stationed at the checkpoint refused to allow the woman to continue unless she was taken in an ambulance, and she was forced to wait, Shakarneh said. … Full article

Threat to Freedom of Speech in France

By Paul Larudee | Dissident Voice | February 13, 2016

… The Free Palestine Movement will happily and enthusiastically endorse a call for free speech which makes all of these considerations explicit, but we are not interested in a false call which is self serving in purpose and selective in application, which is just another way of denying free speech to those of whom we disapprove while keeping it for ourselves, i.e. a form of hypocrisy.

We understand the strategic need to avoid unnecessary confrontation when seeking a particular goal, and we thoroughly disapprove of it.  To compromise principle for the sake of expediency is the worst form of hypocrisy. … Read full letter

Face It: Trump is Right About Iraq — and that Should Sink Clinton

By Sam Husseini | February 14, 2106

At first I thought it ironic that Saturday’s Republican debate happened in the “Peace Center” in Greenville, South Carolina. [video and transcript]

But perhaps that had a positive effect.

Actually, no. For the discerning listener, Donald Trump has been critical of U.S. militarism for some time. On Russia, on Syria, on Iraq, on North Korea.

People say that Trump is loud. But I don’t think he’s been loud enough.

Last night, he screamed an anti war stance to the boos of Bush’s and Rubio’s and Kasich’s one percent donors. It’s only half of what needed to be said, but it was a measure of reality that’s desperately needed. … continue

Despite Anti-War Claims, Sanders Endorses President Obama’s Foreign Policy

ShadowProof | February 13, 2016

WASHINGTON — On Sunday, Bernie Sanders endorsed President Barack Obama’s violent, expansive foreign policy in an effort to distance himself from accusations of inexperience in matters of war. … continue

Iran nuclear accord means little to US

Press TV – February 14, 2016

The US administration is preventing the country’s banks from doing business with Iran despite the lifting of sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Washington says it has eased “secondary” sanctions targeting companies outside the US and Americans seeking certain businesses in Iran but most “primary” sanctions related to terrorism and rights accusations remain in place.

“Broadly, the US primary embargo on Iran is still in place,” John Smith, acting director of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), told a congressional panel on Thursday.

That means the opening with Iran following the implementation of the nuclear accord “does not have any impact on us,” the AFP news agency quoted an official with one large New York bank as saying.

“We’re still very prohibited from engaging in just about any business activity with Iran except on very limited exceptions,” the official added. … continue

US, NATO ‘very nervous’ about Corbyn’s disarmament plans – reports

RT | February 14, 2016

US and NATO officials are “very anxious” about Jeremy Corbyn’s policies, specifically the Labour Party leader’s aim to scrap the UK’s four Trident-armed submarines, as well as his “support for Russia.”

According to a senior government source asked by The Independent on Sunday, foreign diplomats had voiced fears about Jeremy Corbyn’s agenda to pave way for nuclear disarmament, and also his settled approach towards NATO-Russia relations. … continue

NATO’s Provocative Anti-Russian Moves

By Jonathan Marshall | Consortium News | February 13, 2016

Official Washington’s demonization of Vladimir Putin and the neocon “group think” about “Russian aggression” have fueled a reckless drive to move NATO forces up to Russia’s border, thus heightening risks of nuclear war and not serving real U.S. national interests, writes Jonathan Marshall. – Read article

Another Day, Another Billion for Color Revolutions Near Russia’s Borders

Sputnik – February 13, 2016

Last week, the Obama administration proposed its final, 2017 fiscal year budget proposal to Congress. Among the proposed outlays is a State Department request for nearly a billion dollars to counter “Russian aggression” and “promote democracy” in the former Soviet Union. In other words, Washington thinks the region needs more color revolutions.

On Tuesday, the State Department and USAID held a special joint briefing, laying out a $50.1 billion spending request for 2017, including $953 million in “critical support for Ukraine and surrounding countries in Europe, Eurasia and Central Asia to counter Russian aggression through foreign assistance and public diplomacy.” The funds, officials specified, would go toward “enhancing access to independent, unbiased information; eliminating corruption and supporting rule of law; strengthening civil society; enhancing energy security, supporting financial reforms, trade, and economic diversification; and increasing some defense capabilities” in countries including “Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova [and] in Central Asia.”

The spending would be separate from the proposed $3.4 billion (up from $789 million in 2016), provided by the so-called “European Reassurance Initiative,” which aims for “a significant reinvestment in the US military presence in Europe after decades of gradual withdrawal” to counter “the growing threat Russia poses to long-term US national security interests in Europe and beyond.” … continue

Saudi warplanes conduct airstrikes across Yemen

Press TV | February 14, 2016

Saudi warplanes conducted new airstrikes across Yemen on Sunday as the regime in Riyadh goes on with its relentless campaign against the impoverished country.

The Saudi jets pounded a sewing factory in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, killing 11 civilians and injuring four others.

Riyadh’s military aircraft also bombarded the Bani Matar district of the capital.

The Sabrah district of the southwestern province of Ibb was also targeted. There were no immediate reports on possible casualties and the extent of damage.

At least five Yemeni civilians lost their lives and several others sustained injuries following Saudi airstrikes on the historical city of Kawkaban in the western province of Mahwit.

In the Sirwah district of Ma’rib Province, a number of houses and a mosque were demolished by Saudi jets. … Full article

Damascus: Turkey’s Shelling of Syria ‘Direct Support of Terrorists’

Sputnik – February 14, 2016

Damascus said that Turkey’s shelling of Syrian territory is a “direct Turkish support of terrorist groups,” state TV reported, citing a letter to the United Nations.

On Saturday, Turkish forces began shelling the positions of Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria’s Aleppo region.Turkish forces bombed a village and an airbase that were recently captured by Kurds, Al Mayadeen TV reported Saturday. Prior to being captured by the YPG, the village and the airbase belonged to al-Nusra Front terrorist organization.

Later, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu claimed that Turkish forces had shelled Kurds’ positions in northern Syria as a “retaliatory measure.”Ankara claims that Syrian Kurds have links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a militant group fighting for Kurdish independence from Turkey.

On Sunday, NTV channel reported citing a military source that Turkish forces have continued to shell YPG positions in Syria killing two Kurdish fighters. … Full article

Turkish military repeatedly shell Assad forces; Kurds confirm to RT being hit by massive attack

RT | February 13, 2016

The Turkish army has shelled Syrian government forces in Aleppo and Latakia provinces, while also hitting Kurdish targets near the city of Azaz in northwestern Syria, including an air base recently retaken from Islamist rebels, with a massive attack.

Anatolia news agency reported that the Turkish military hit Syrian government forces on Saturday, adding that the shelling had been in response to fire inflicted on a Turkish military guard post in Turkey’s southern Hatay region.

Turkish artillery targeted Syrian forces again late on Saturday, according to a military source quoted by RIA Novosti. The attack targeted the town of Deir Jamal in the Aleppo Governorate.

The agency also cited details of an earlier attack on Syrian government army positions in northwestern Latakia. … continue

Israeli Occupation Forces arrest 2 journalists in Qalqilia

Palestine Information Center | February 13, 2016

QALQILIA – The Israeli Occupation Forces arrested two Palestinian journalists while covering the weekly peaceful march in Kafer Qaddum village east of Qalqilia.

The two journalists Ayman Noubani and Muhammad Turabi were detained for nearly two hours before being released.

They were prevented from covering the weekly protest march in the village of Kafr Qaddum, the PIC reporter said.

Their equipment were also confiscated during the events.

Noubani said that they were transferred handcuffed and blindfolded to Kedumim settlement camp, illegally built in the area, where they were brutally assaulted and beaten with riffle butts.

Israel’s Army and Government at Loggerheads Over Cause of Attacks

By Jonathan Cook | Dissident Voice | February 12, 2016

Israel’s frantic cocoon-weaving entered a new phase last week, as Benjamin Netanyahu’s government stepped up efforts to stifle the last vestiges of dissent.

The military censor’s office, a draconian 70-year-old hangover from British rule in Palestine, extended its powers over Israeli press and TV to prominent blogs and social media.

The government has also threatened to revoke the press cards of “journalists and editors who are negligent in their work” – aimed at those who depart too obviously from the official line.

These moves follow culture minister Miri Regev’s announcement of a “loyalty law” that will deny state funding to artists and cultural institutions that are not sufficiently patriotic.

The education minister, settler leader Naftali Bennett, meanwhile, is reportedly preparing a raft of measures: a ban on access for pupils to literature and theatre not in line with government thinking, cuts to already very limited pluralism education and a new civics textbook vilifying the Palestinian minority. … continue

Obama to sign trade agreement that equates settlements with Israel

Ma’an – February 12, 2016

BETHLEHEM – US President Barack Obama intends to sign a sweeping trade agreement including provisions that fail to differentiate between Israel and illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, as well as discourage the boycott of Israeli goods.

The agreement — H.R. 644: Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 — was passed 75-20 on Thursday, and includes a provision that no US court can enforce judgement from a foreign court on a US citizen who “conducts business operations in Israel, or any territory controlled by Israel.”

The provision in effect allows US citizens immunity from conducting trade with illegal Israeli settlements, while its terminology fails to distinguish Israeli settlements from the state of Israel, violating the US’ official line against the construction of settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank. … continue

China opposed to US missile deployment in South Korea: FM

The BRICS Post | February 13, 2016

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Friday reacted strongly to South Korea-US talks on possible deployment of an advanced US missile defense system.

Wang said this “would complicate the regional stability situation”.

Meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, Wang made clear China’s opposition to the possible deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system in South Korea.

The United States and South Korea have begun negotiations on the deployment of THAAD. The Pentagon made the announcement hours after North Korea’s recent rocket launch.

As one of the most advanced missile defense systems in the world, THAAD can intercept and destroy ballistic missiles inside or just outside the atmosphere during their final phase of flight.

Despite claims by Washington and Seoul that the missile shield would be focused solely on North Korea, Beijing says the US deployment would pose considerable threat to neighboring countries. … continue

Ukraine Stalls in Implementing Minsk Agreements

Sputnik – February 13, 2016

Paris and Berlin are seriously concerned about Kiev’s unwillingness to adhere to the Minsk peace agreements on eastern Ukraine, according to French newspaper Le Monde.

Kiev has failed to take steps to implement the Minsk peace agreements on eastern Ukraine, which continues to alarm Paris and Berlin. The countries’ leaders remain doubtful regarding the implementation of the accords, the French newspaper Le Monde said, citing a senior French official.According to the newspaper, this skepticism stems from the behavior of Ukrainian politicians, who had earlier played the role of “good students.” Le Monde quoted the official as saying that the situation remains the EU’s main concern, and “in the short term there is no reason for optimism in the matter.”

Donetsk units have delivered nine 82mm-caliber mortars to the site of their further storage in the neighborhood of Illovaisk. Under the Minsk accords, the Donetsk People’s Republic has accomplished its under-100mm-caliber artillery withdrawal from the contact line. … continue

Kerry urges Russia to change targets in Syria

12039211_10153534280313820_367600427856609108_nPress TV – February 13, 2016

US Secretary of State John Kerry calls on Russia to change its military targets in Syria and reiterates sanctions threat over Ukraine.

“To date, the vast majority of Russia’s attacks have been against legitimate opposition groups,” Kerry said of Moscow’s airstrikes in support of Syrian forces.

“To adhere to the agreement it made, we think it is critical that Russia’s targeting change,” he added during a speech at the Munich Security Conference in Germany. … Full article

Why Are Neocons so Desperate to Rescue al-Qaeda in Syria?

By Daniel McAdams | Ron Paul Institute | February 11, 2016

Reading Dennis Ross and David Ignatius is a good reminder that the neocons live in a different world than the rest of us. They do not conform their analysis to reality, but rather they conform reality to their view of the world. Where most people would be encouraged to read that Aleppo in Syria was about to be liberated from its 3.5 year occupation by al-Qaeda’s Syrian franchise, the neocons see a disaster.

On the brink of al-Qaeda’s defeat in Aleppo, the Washington Post’s Ignatius is furious that, “President Obama won’t approve military tactics that could actually shift the balance.” Yes, he wants to shift the balance toward al-Qaeda because like the other neocons he is so invested in the idea of regime change in Syria that he would even prefer turning the country into another Libya than to see government forces defeat his jihadist insurgents. Failing to “shift the balance” toward al-Qaeda fighters in Aleppo only brings “greater misery for the Syrian people,” in the world of Ignatius.

Ignatius’s Washington Post, which has never seen a potential war it did not want to see turned into an actual war, thinks it a tragedy that the Syrian army’s advance on al-Qaeda occupied Aleppo has “cut off all vital routes of supply from Turkey to the rebel-held areas of the city.” Those would be Turkish supplies in support of al-Qaeda and ISIS rebels, but the Post is too deceptive to mention that fact. … continue

Russia Has Destroyed the CIA’s Arms Smuggling Operation in Syria

By Stuart Hooper – 21st Century Wire – February 12, 2016

The covert Syrian intervention could not have gone any worse for the Western powers involved in the attempt to oust Assad.

The Russian military has successfully closed the Azaz Corridor, a narrow strip of land connecting Turkey to the rebel forces in Aleppo, which was being used as a major supply route for the terrorist forces currently wrecking havoc throughout Syria.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was reportedly hounded by his American counterpart John Kerry at least six times to keep the Azaz corridor open.

A new report now explains why:

‘Mr. Kerry enters the negotiations with very little leverage: The Russians have cut off many of the pathways the C.I.A. has been using for a not-very-secret effort to arm rebel groups, according to several current and former officials.’

‘Mr. Kerry’s supporters inside the administration say he has been increasingly frustrated by the low level of American military activity, which he views as essential to bolstering his negotiation effort.’

For the last three years, the CIA has been smuggling arms into Syria via Turkey using the Azaz Corridor, and without it they have no leverage over Assad or the Russians.

Interestingly, now that the corridor has been essentially destroyed by Russian airpower, the US is now seeking to establish a peace deal in Syria meaning that the foreign interference could finally be coming to an end.

Assad has vowed to continue his fight with the Russians to finally liberate Syria and has openly decried the foreign support for terrorism.

Can the conflict in Syria now finally come to an end?

Bernie, No! Winston Churchill Was a War Criminal, Not a ‘Hero’

teleSUR | February 12, 2016

Professing one’s love for Winston Churchill, the British prime minister during World War II, is shorthand in U.S. politics for: “I think killing Nazis was good.” Churchill is a pugnacious old man with a cigar in his mouth, more an inspirational poster—”Never Give In”—than a real human being, with all our human flaws. Still, it was nonetheless a little strange to hear Bernie Sanders, the social democrat campaigning to be the presidential nominee of the Democrat Party, describing the symbol of giving-it-your-all as one of his two “heroes” at the last debate.

“Winston Churchill’s politics were not my politics,” Sanders began. “He was kind of a conservative guy in many respects,” having been the head of the Conservative Party, “But nobody can deny that as a wartime leader, he rallied the British people when they stood virtually alone against the Nazi juggernaut and rallied them and eventually won.” Along with Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the former U.S. president who also killed Nazis, “These are two leaders that I admire very much.” … continue

Hillary Clinton Sugarcoating Her Disastrous Record

By Ralph Nader | February 12, 2016

Bernie Sanders is far too easy on Hillary Clinton in their debates. Clinton flaunts her record and experience in ways that Sanders could use to expose her serious vulnerabilities and disqualifications for becoming president. Sanders responds to Clinton’s points, but without the precision that could demolish her arrogance. … continue

‘UK must maintain submarine Trident’

Press TV – February 13, 2016

The UK must renew its submarine-borne Trident nuclear weapons system if it is to maintain its “outsized” role in the world affairs, said US Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

He went on stating that the deterrent allowed Britain to “continue to play that outsized role on the global stage that it does because of its moral standing and its historical standing.”

Carter said the submarine fleet helped the “special relationship” Britain enjoyed with the United States.

The statements come as a decision on replacing the aging fleet of four submarines which carry nuclear warheads is due to be made this year. While Prime Minister David Cameron is committed to renewal, the issue has caused deep divisions in the opposition Labour Party.

The Conservative government has said replacing the submarines will cost 31 billion pounds while media reports put the overall cost of renewing and maintaining a successor to Trident at more than 167 billion pounds over 32 years. … continue

US Propaganda Budget Reaches All-Time High

Sputnik – 13.02.2016

Western governments routinely sound the alarm over Russian “propaganda.” But President Obama’s new budget calls for a drastic increase in spending to America’s own foreign media arm, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which already spends millions more than its Russian counterpart.

Last year, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the US federal agency responsible for Voice of America and Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe, among others, requested a substantial budget increase. Seeking a boost of $30 million, the BBG’s budget soared to $751.5 million.

That was, evidently, not enough money. President Obama’s newly proposed budget for fiscal year 2017 proposes another massive increase in spending for the BBG. If granted, the agency will receive nearly $778 million, a roughly $27 million increase.

That sum is even more surprising given that the US repeatedly accuses Russia of spending vast sums on a “propaganda war” against the West through news outlets like RT and Sputnik. Yet the BBG’s budget is approximately twice that of Russia’s foreign media budget. … continue

Making sense of the BBC’s World War Three: Inside the War Room

Preparing the British public for collective suicide? Or a voice of reason in a world gone mad under US-Russian confrontation?

By Gilbert Doctorow | Une Parole Franche | February 10, 2016

The Russians and all of ‘progressive humanity’ have been jumping up and down about this pseudo-documentary film. The sound bite from one War Room participant that “I wouldn’t mind killing tens of thousands of Russians” has been trumpeted as a major provocation. Baltics politicians on both sides of the issue are furious. However, seeing the film through to its unexpected ending, one is left with big questions about the intentions of its producers and of its high level participants that so far no one has addressed. … continue

Russia is not a threat to the West

By Dr Alexander Yakovenko | RT | February 13, 2016

On December 31, 2015, President Vladimir Putin signed the update to Russia’s National Security Strategy 2016, a key strategic planning document that fully meets the needs of the current situation.

In contrast to the recently published National Security Strategy of the United States, which defines military supremacy as the main tool for maintaining their “global leadership,” the Russian Strategy emphasizes the importance of strategic stability and mutually beneficial partnerships based on the principles of international law. It reflects the objective process of a new multi-polar world order taking shape, and of global and regional instability on the rise.

The strategy confirms the continuity of Russian foreign policy, based on the respect for independence and sovereignty, on pragmatism, transparency, a multi-vector policy and a non-confrontational protection of national interests. The use of military force to protect national interests is only possible if all other means have been exhausted. … continue

Bernie Sanders: US Should Maintain Obama’s Position on Russia Through NATO

Sputnik – February 12, 2016

WASHINGTON — The United States should maintain its commitment to protect the nations of Eastern Europe against Russia through the NATO alliance, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders stated in a nationally televised debate.

“The president is right, we have to protect Eastern Europe against any kind of Russian aggression,” Sanders said in his debate with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Thursday night.

Russia’s aggressive actions in Crimea and Ukraine have brought about increased tensions in Europe, Sanders noted, adding that he supported President Barack Obama commitment to increasing the power of NATO.

Sanders pledged that Russian president Vladimir Putin “is not going to get away with aggressive action” in Europe or elsewhere. … Full article

Coalitions of Religious Organizations on War: Rationalized, Hypocrisized, and Compromised

By Gary Brumback | Dissident Voice | February 12, 2016

Were it not for its record of either engaging in war, promoting it or acquiescing to it, one would think organized religion would be a natural ally of and prominent activist for peace. There are, to be sure, some exceptions among the various denominations or religious sects (e.g., the Quakers and the Mennonites), and small religious, antiwar groups can be found protesting now and then, here and there. Overall, though, and throughout history organized religion has been an ally of war, not peace. … continue

Iran’s De-Dollarization of Oil Is About Business, Not Politics

Sputnik | February 12, 2016

Iran’s request to receive its oil revenue in euros, yuan or other strong world currencies is based on economic rather than political considerations, Iran’s Deputy Petroleum Minister Masoud Hashemian Esfahani told Sputnik.

“At first glance the decision about de-dollarization of Iranian oil looks to be more politically than economically motivated and justified. Even some analysts have been quick to announce that this step by Iran is nothing more than an attempt to break the American petrodollar systemic hegemony in the Middle East,” Esfahani said.

“But this is much deeper than just propaganda. Iran suffered a lot during sanctions. A significant amount of assets acquired through the sale of oil were frozen. Today the US is making new threats to impose sanctions because Iran has tested ballistic missiles.”

“That is why the decision not to trade in dollars is an attempt to protect Iranian assets from new unilateral US sanctions.” … Full article

Banks Tank: Wall Street Is Keeping Too Many Secrets for Its Own Good

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens | Wall Street On Parade | February 12, 2016

Starting last July, the share prices of the biggest banks on Wall Street have been on a steady downward trajectory. That trend heated up yesterday with Citigroup and Bank of America both dropping over 6 percent by the close of trading. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley were down by over 4 percent. All four of the banks set new 12-month lows in intraday trading.

A strong argument can be made that much of the public’s lack of confidence in these complex banking and gambling behemoths is a result of the dark curtain that has been drawn around their operations. Evidence is piling up that government regulators of Wall Street no longer see themselves as the protectors of the people but as the protectors of Wall Street’s secrets. … continue

$470 mil HSBC settlement, but no one is in jail

The federal government announced a $470 mil settlement with banking giant HSBC on Friday, despite causing financial crisis worth $22 tril

American Herald Tribune | February 11, 2016

Banking giant HSBC has reached a settlement with the Federal government and most U.S. states for their part in the 2008 financial crisis—the largest such economic downturn since the Great Depression.

But as with Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan Chase, no individuals will face trial for engaging in predatory lending tactics, selling bad mortgages to homeowners and forcing illegal foreclosures on millions.

The Justice Department announced the $470 million settlement on Friday, saying that HSBC’s tactics hastened the country’s economic meltdown.

The settlement includes the Justice Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as well as 49 state attorneys general and the District of Columbia’s attorney general. … continue

Venezuela Supreme Court gives Maduro more powers

Counter-terror laws hampering Islamic charities’ work – former ministers

RT | February 12, 2016

Former cabinet ministers have urged the government to set up an inquiry into the way UK counter-terror laws are affecting the humanitarian work of Islamic charities, many of which operate in Syria.

Two former international development secretaries have discussed the issue with parliamentary officials and have written to the Commons International Development Select Committee to call for an inquiry into complaints that Islamic charities are being treated unfairly.

Clare Short, who was international development secretary from 1997 to 2003, and Andrew Mitchell, who served in the same job from 2010 to 2012, have responded to concerns that Muslim charities are being discriminated against by banks or members of the authorities who worry funding could make its way to extremist organizations.

Almost one-fifth of government development aid goes to charities, and Islamic charities are some of the few British aid organizations that can operate in Syria. … continue

Litvinenko and the Demise of British Justice

By James O’Neill | Dissident Voice | February 11, 2016

The publication on 21 January 2016 of the report by British Judge Sir Robert Owen on the death of Alexander Litvinenko was predictably seized upon by anti-Russian elements as confirmation of their conviction that Russia in general and President Putin in particular were the personification of modern day evil.

Almost completely absent amidst the anti-Russian hysteria was any perspective on the history of Mr Litvinenko1; the circumstances leading up to his death; and any understanding of what a totally flawed exercise Owen’s inquiry actually was. … continue

What Medvedev never said: Reuters misquotes Russian PM on ‘new world war’

RT | February 12, 2016

A Reuters article quoted Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev as “raising the specter of a world war” in an interview to a German newspaper. The problem is – he didn’t say any such words.

The leading world news agency reported on an interview that Medvedev gave Germany’s Handelsblatt newspaper on the eve of talks on Syria in Munich.

“All sides must be compelled to sit at the negotiating table, instead of unleashing a new world war,” the agency quoted the head of the Russian government as saying.

The report referred to a German translation of his words, which is incorrect and implies that Russia is warning that a full-scale war between leading world powers may be ignited from the Syrian conflict.

The quote comes from the portion of the interview in which Medvedev argued against starting a foreign ground intervention against Syria, saying it would only prolong the armed conflict for years or decades to come.

Medvedev’s actual words, according to the Russian transcript on PM’s website were:

“What is necessary is to use strong measures, including those taken by Russia, by the Americans and even under certain provisions those that the Turks are trying to take, to sit at the negotiating table, instead of unleashing yet another war on Earth. We know all too well the scenarios leading to that.”

The misquotation incident is the second in February involving a senior world official and the Syrian conflict. Earlier, The Financial Timesclaimed that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon blamed Russia for the collapse of the Syrian peace talks… continue

While Kerry Talks Ceasefire, US Allies Secretly Ship Grad Missiles to Syria Rebels

By Daniel McAdams | Ron Paul Institute | February 12, 2016

The big news yesterday was that after some five hours of intense negotiation on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, an agreement was reached between the major powers on a “cessation of hostilities” in Syria within the next week.

grad2According to the agreement:

The [International Syria Support Group] members agreed that a nationwide cessation of hostilities must be urgently implemented, and should apply to any party currently engaged in military or paramilitary hostilities against any other parties other than Daesh, Jabhat al-Nusra, or other groups designated as terrorist organizations by the United Nations Security Council. The ISSG members commit to exercise influence for an immediate and significant reduction in violence leading to the nationwide cessation of hostilities.

Now today — just one day after the ceasefire agreement —  we discover that a massive shipment of ground-to-ground “Grad” missiles has been sent by US allies (and the CIA?) to rebels fighting against the Syrian government.

Reuters reports:

‘It is excellent additional fire power for us,’ said one of the commanders, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter. The second rebel commander said the missiles were being used to hit army positions beyond the front line. ‘They give the factions longer reach,’ he said.

What are we to conclude by this dramatic turn of events? Two possibilities. … continue

Do We Need a Bigger War?

By Paul Larudee | Syria Solidarity Movement | February 12, 2016

The Syrian Army and its allies have clearly turned the tide in the Syrian war. The “facts on the ground” have changed dramatically for all the major players, and constitute a major reversal for all the forces that have tried to institute “regime change” in Syria, in violation of its sovereignty. The Geneva “Peace Conference” opposition delegation, composed of marginal figures representing a tiny fraction of the armed anti-government factions but ostensibly speaking for all of them, is now largely irrelevant. As the terrorists and foreign mercenaries and their families flee Aleppo, thousands or tens of thousands of Syrian civilians are returning to their homes in secure government held areas.

Given the reversal of fortunes for Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the US, NATO and their allies and mercenaries, what’s next? The sensible thing would be for all the actors to declare victory by finishing off the ostensible terrorist enemy and accepting a face saving solution that includes a Syrian government commitment to reform, with expertise provided by a friendly international team of experts that puts Russia, the US, Europe, Iran and perhaps even Saudi Arabia on the same side.

But this is not the advice we are hearing from the advisers that got us into this mess in the first place, and who are disappointed that Syria might not go the way of Iraq, Libya and Somalia after all. They are suggesting that a more and bigger war is the way to complete the job of turning Syria into a failed state. Such a war would involve an invasion of Turkish forces amassed and poised on the border, direct intervention by Saudi forces, US and perhaps other NATO ground forces, and potentially Israeli forces as well. … continue

Democratizing the EU

By Steve Church | Dissident Voice | February 11, 2016

So, superstar Yanis Varoufakis is inaugurating his new outfit, DiEM25, the other day in Berlin, at the Volksbühne theatre, calling for the democratization of the European Union. What?, you say.  Isn’t the EU already democratic?

It is if you think the United States is a democracy. The US was one of the prime movers behind the creation of the EU. And if you don’t believe me, read Circus Politicus (Deloire and Dubois, Albin Michel, 2012).

Post WW II, the US didn’t like the idea of all those foreigners experimenting with communism and socialism, getting the idea that unbridled capitalism maybe wasn’t in their best interests. Best to gather all those idiosyncratic, multi-lingual, multi-cultural, difficult-to-control tendencies under one big homogenized tent in Brussels, far from the prying eyes of the “people ,” and under the control of obedient, willing proxies taking their orders from thousands of Anglo-American lobbyists. This is one time that the mission was pretty much accomplished.

If you don’t believe me, just look at Greece. Or the EU’s support of the illegal interventions in the Middle East or Africa. … continue

US Blames Putin When Erdogan Caught Weaponizing Refugees

By Andrew Korybko | Sputnik | February 11, 2016

The recently released minutes from a November meeting between Erdogan and the EU prove that the Turkish strongman is manipulating the immigrant flow into Europe for strategic ends.

The Greek financial website euro2day.gr published the shocking record of what transpired at a November meeting between Erdogan, Tusk, and Juncker in Antalya. In attempting to squeeze more money out of Brussels for his cooperation in halting the refugee flow, the Turkish leader thuggishly threatened that “We can open the doors to Greece and Bulgaria anytime and we can put the refugees on buses”, snarling to the EU leaders and rhetorically taunting them by asking “how will you deal with refugees if you don’t get a deal? Kill the refugees?”

€3 billion later, Erdogan shut up but he didn’t shut his borders, and the human wave continues to crash into Europe.

Now that the cat’s out of the bag and there’s a smoking gun to prove what most Europeans had already figured out by now — that the immigrant crisis is a strategically engineered weapon against them — the US has gone into full spin mode by doing what it does best, blaming Russia.

A day before the minutes were leaked, Carnegie Europe published a mudslinging piece which alleges in its title that “Putin Uses The Refugee Crisis To Weaken Merkel“, and a day after the Erdogan bombshell was made public, George Soros followed up with one of his famous speculative attacks (albeit this time non-financial) in which he ludicrously proclaimed that “Putin’s current aim is to foster the EU’s disintegration, and the best way to do so is to flood the EU with Syrian refugees.”

Ironically, but as is the established pattern, every time that the US is caught doing something unsavory, they always reflexively resort to blaming Russia for their own sins, and the immigrant crisis is no different. What’s new this time around, however, are the strange “anti-imperialist” bedfellows that they’ve aligned with in doing so. … continue

Syria crisis plan: Cessation of hostilities, humanitarian airdrops, peace talks laid out in Munich

RT | February 12, 2016

An ambitious plan to end hostilities in Syria with verifiable results within a week, revive the Geneva-3 peace talks, and immediately begin delivering humanitarian aid to civilians has been unveiled in Munich, Germany after talks including the US, Russia, and the UN.

Hostilities in Syria could come to a halt within a week after confirmation by the government of President Bashar Assad and the opposition, according to an official communiqué from the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) meeting.

A mechanism to help resolve humanitarian issues in Syria has been developed, which includes the creation of a task force that will begin work on Friday.

A press conference was held after the meeting of the so-called Syria Support Group, with the participation of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, US Secretary of State John Kerry, and UN Special Envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura. … continue

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