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Changing narratives: Ex-Trump adviser Page fires back at CNN’s ‘Russia contacts’ claim

RT | April 23, 2017

“False narratives,” not the alleged Russian attempts, were the ultimate form of meddling in the election, Carter Page told CNN, striking back at the network’s anonymous report claiming the FBI has proof he and other Trump advisers interacted with Russian agents.

Carter Page made the comments to CNN on Saturday, just one day after the news outlet alleged that the FBI had gathered intelligence last summer suggesting that Russian agents attempted to infiltrate the election by using Trump’s advisers to do so.

Page was explicitly mentioned in the original CNN report, which cited unnamed US officials as sources.

Responding to the CNN report, Page noted that it said that Russia “tried” to infiltrate the campaign – which is a far cry from other terms previously used when it came to the Trump campaign’s alleged ties with Moscow.

“Remember the headlines for many, many months. The Trump campaign ‘colluded’ [with Russia] or there [were] nefarious things going on. Now they’re really reeling things back and someone is saying out there the word ‘tried’,” Page pointed out. … continue

Israel raid on Syrian camp proves support for terrorists: Analyst

Press TV – April 23, 2017

Israel has attacked a Syrian military camp near the southwestern city of Quneitra, killing three soldiers. The Tel Aviv regime regularly hits positions held by the Syrian army in the Golan Heights, claiming that the attacks are retaliatory. Syria says the raids aim to help Takfiri militants fighting against government forces.

A radio host and political commentator believes Israel has taken a very clear side in the conflict in Syria right from the beginning, adding that this latest attack proves Tel Aviv’s support for the terrorists.

“There is really nothing new under the sun here. We have seen this time and time again over the course of the last four or five years. Israel has repeatedly intervened in this conflict directly militarily and always against the Syrian Arab army, against the Syrian military and against the Syrian government,” Navid Nasr told Press TV in an interview on Sunday.

“I cannot think of a single incident where they have militarily intervened and bombed positions of the “rebels” – not one time,” he added. … Full article

West intervenes in favor of terrorists whenever army advances: Assad

Press TV – April 23, 2017

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has accused the West of interfering in Syria’s affairs in favor of terrorists whenever the army makes gains, citing Washington’s missile attack on a Syrian military airbase earlier this month as an example.

Assad made the remarks in an address to a meeting of the central committee of Syria’s ruling Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party in Damascus on Saturday, Syria’s official SANA news agency reported. He is the regional secretary of the party.

The Syrian head of state said that the April 7 US missile strike against Shayrat Airfield in Homs Province came after terrorists’ defeat in the west-central Hama Province and the army’s advance in the country’s north and east. … Full article

Western States ‘Afraid’ of an Impartial Probe Into Idlib Chemical Incident

Sputnik – April 23, 2017

The United States and other Western countries have blocked any attempt to launch an objective investigation into the chemical weapons incident in the Syrian province of Idlib, Syrian President Bashar Assad said in a recent interview with Sputnik.

“We formally sent a letter to the United Nations, we asked them in that letter to send a delegation in order to investigate what happened in Khan Shaykhun,” Assad said.

“Of course till this moment they haven’t sent anyone, because the West and the United States blocked any delegation from coming, because if they come, they will find that all their narratives about what happened in Khan Shaykhun and then the attack on Sha’irat airport was a false flag, was a lie,” he said.

Furthermore, Assad said that in the wake of the first attack in Aleppo carried out by terrorists against the army a few years ago, Damascus had asked the United Nations to send an investigation delegation “in order to prove what we said about the terrorists having used gas against our army.”

“And later many incidents happened in that way, and they didn’t send any delegation. It’s the same now,” Assad said. … continue

3 Syrian forces killed in fresh Israeli attack on military camp

Press TV – April 23, 2017

Three Syrian forces have been killed in a fresh Israeli attack on a military camp near the southwestern city of Quneitra, a military official says.

The attack hit the al-Fawwar camp on Sunday, wounding two others, the unnamed official told the French news agency AFP.

It was not clear whether the assault was an airstrike or shelling. The attack comes after Israel struck a Syrian army position in the province of Quneitra on the Golan plateau on Friday, “causing damage.”

A Syrian military source told the official SANA news agency that the Israeli aggression came after an attempt by terrorists to infiltrate military positions in Quneitra was foiled and the assailants suffered heavy losses.

The Israeli military confirmed the raid in a statement, saying it was conducted shortly after three mortar shells allegedly fired from Syria hit an open area in the northern occupied Golan Heights.

The Tel Aviv regime regularly hits positions held by the Syrian army in the Golan Heights, claiming that the attacks are retaliatory. Syria says the raids aim to help Takfiri militants fighting against government forces. … continue

State of Palestine: Israeli forces use stun grenades to upend demo for hunger-strikers

Several Palestinians hospitalized over multiple settler attacks in Nablus area

Ma’an – April 22, 2017

NABLUS – Israeli forces shot and injured four Palestinians with rubber-coated steel bullets, after residents in a Palestinian village south of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank gathered to defend their homes from a mob of Israeli settlers that stormed the community. Hours later, two Palestinians were hospitalized when a group of settlers attacked Palestinians in a nearby village.

Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settler activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an that some 100 “extremist settlers” from the illegal Yitzhar settlement entered the village of Urif from its east side and proceeded to smash windows of houses, included one belonging to resident Munir al-Nouri.

He added that the settlers were about to break into the house before Palestinian villagers gathered and forced them away. … continue

Israeli Warplanes Launch from Palestinian Airspace 2 Missiles onto Syrian Military Posts in Quneitra “in Response to Stray Shells”

Al-Manar | April 21, 2017

Zionist warplanes launched from the Palestinian airspace two missile onto Syrian military posts in Khan Arnabe village in Quneitra on Friday at 6:45 p.m., causing material losses, according to Syrian sources.

The sources added that the Israeli aggression came after the Syrian army frustrated a terrorist attack launched by the terrorist group of Nusra Front on its posts in Quneitra countryside and inflicted heavy losses upon the militants.

The sources noted that such desperate moves will fail to prevent the Syrian armed forces from crushing the terrorist groups.

The Zionist army spokesman claimed that the occupation military responded to the sources of fire after “stray shells” landed in the occupied Golan Heights during the clashes between the Syrian army and the armed groups.

US should fulfil its end of nuclear deal – Tehran on Tillerson’s Iran remarks

RT | April 21, 2017

Instead of repeating accusations against Iran, the US should fulfil its obligations under the 2015 nuclear deal, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in response to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s comments on the review of the lifting of sanctions.

In his letter to the Congress on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, acknowledged that Iran was compliant to the accord, but blasted the country as “the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.”

Tillerson claimed that Tehran has been fueling various military conflicts in the Middle East, undermining US interests in countries such as Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon.

It was the first time that the Congress was informed on how Iran was fulfilling its obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), usually referred to as the Iran nuclear deal, under the Trump administration. The State Department must update US senators on the issue every 90 days. … continue

How did al-Qaeda know in advance about the Syrian air strike?

By Paul Larudee | Dissident Voice | April 21, 2017

There is an anomaly among the evidence that the Syrian chemical weapons attack at Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province on April 4, 2017 was a “false flag” operation, designed to provoke a US attack on Syria. The evidence is otherwise quite strong, as put forth by former Pentagon consultant and MIT professor Theodore Postol in his three part analysis of the declassified White House Report on the Syrian chemical weapons attack of April 4, 2017. Postol’s analysis has been widely cited as disproving the White House contention that the Syrian Air Force bombed the “rebel” controlled village with chemical weapons.

Indeed, Dr. Postol’s analysis pokes quite a few gaping holes in the White House Report, concluding that the crushed gas canister and the “crater” shown in open source videos and photographs from the site demonstrate that it could not have been delivered by air. Postol also concludes that the report is, in fact, fraudulent and was produced by the National Security Agency without the input or review of impartial intelligence professionals.

Nevertheless, Postol begs a couple of questions, the most compelling of which is how the “false flag” imposters on the ground would have known how to time their operation with the Syrian air strike that everyone admits actually took place (the Syrians and Russians alleging that only conventional weapons were used, and the Americans alleging the use of chemical weapons). In order to do this, they would have had to have advance knowledge of the attack. How would they have gotten this information? … continue

Iran’s presidential election takes predictable turn

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | April 22, 2017

The ‘known unknown’ in the fateful decision handed down on Thursday by Iran’s Guardian Council on the approved list of candidates for the forthcoming presidential election on May 19 was as regards the candidacy of former president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. That was for three main reasons. First, he is a colorful personality who occupies a unique spot in Iran’s political spectrum, which qualifies to be called ‘leftist’. Iran’s politics needs such a platform, given the nature of its problems of development.

A contestation between the Conservative Right and the Moderate Right detracts from the authenticity of the electoral arena. The paradox is that while there is a faction known as ‘reformists’ in Iran, it serves the same class interests as the conservative religious establishment. The 1978 revolution had leftist moorings, given its genesis as a popular democracy movement, but ended with the establishment of the world’s first Islamic state. And in a bitter struggle within the revolution, progressives got eliminated. It remains a hugely controversial chapter in Iran’s modern history and keeps popping up every now and then, reopening old wounds.

Second, Ahmedinejad was a rare ‘non-cleric’ president. Highly educated, intelligent, articulate and a self-confident intellectual credited with progressive outlook, he showed that a politician can have mass appeal in Iran sans the patronage of the religious establishment. Although deeply religious in his private beliefs and Spartan lifestyle, he lighted up a potential path in Iran’s evolution as a practising democracy that lay unexplored. Indeed, Iran’s progress as a modern state stands to gain if the religious establishment also becomes accountable to the people – not only to god. Did the religious establishment feel challenged by him? It seems so.

Third, in world politics today, we need a Bolivarian leader and therefore if there is no Ahmedinejad, it is a poorer world. Someone should speak up when a mother of all bombs is dropped on a hapless nation which is already at the end of its tether after years of occupation and ransacking and savagery, or when a color revolution is being insidiously fostered in faraway Venezuela. Multipolarity in world politics cannot be a fig-leaf for a concert of big powers to cover their back side. … continue

Google suppresses important news in addition to alternate media

By Wayne Madsen | Intrepid Report | April 21, 2017

Google’s now-infamous censorship programs and algorithms, built into the firm’s search engine software, are not merely suppressing alternate news sites, but also ignoring or diverting search results away from important news stories being reported by conventional news organizations. In an attempt to prioritize “reliable” news sites, Google News searches have been found to return as top stories links to a number of non-critical news subjects, including sports, travel, weather, and popular entertainment. […]

… a Washington Post story about an Oregon woman who cheered up her dying husband by telling him that Donald Trump had been impeached. Links about the same story in The Oregonian and the New York Daily News also appear under the “World” news title. Another “world” story is one in Politico about Trump opting to travel to his Bedminster, New Jersey, country club instead of his Mar-a-Lago retreat in Florida during the upcoming summer months. […]

Imagine a library, when they were the chief public repositories of information, placing domestic newspapers and magazines on shelves reserved for international periodicals. By de-indexing certain news and websites, Google searches will turn up zero results on certain queried information. It is as if a public library would have removed certain newspapers and magazines from their shelves and placed them in a locked storeroom. Of course, professional librarians would have quickly rectified such situations. … Read full article

Stop Suggesting Mandatory National Service as a Fix for America’s Problems

By Lucy Steigerwald | CounterPunch | April 21, 2017

There’s a season for it–the thinkpieces, the brave suggestions, the crawling out to the edge of the limb and saying, yes, I have the answer, we should force America’s youth to come together and serve in some collective cause.

In spite of the right’s fondness for military service and such pageantry, it’s usually the left or the more accurately, the muddy, authoritarian center that suggest this kind of thing. Progressives worry over wars, but they don’t worry enough over the civilian casualties in other countries, or the blowback in America. Sometimes they become overly concerned, instead about how poor people join the military, and rich, privileged people don’t. Sometimes they even pull up an extra deep argument, dust the dirt off of it, and say, gee, maybe the draft can stop wars! Charlie Rangel spent decades in congress trying to bring back conscription for that very reason. … continue

Iran opens up petrochemicals to world investors

Press TV – April 22, 2017

Executives of oil and gas companies from about 18 countries are attending an international conference on petrochemical industry in Tehran to explore Iran’s emerging role in global markets.

The international Iran Petrochemical Forum (IPF) opened Saturday with the participation of industry experts, traders, petrochemical producers, refiners, shipping and logistics companies as well as technology solution providers and engineering companies.

France’s oil and gas company Total and Germany’s industrial gases group Linde are leading the pack of more than 70 companies which have their nose on the ground for business in Iran. … continue

Russia backs Iran’s full membership in SCO

Press TV – April 22, 2017

Russia has lent weight to Iran joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), an emerging economic and security alliance which is being touted as the counterweight to the West’s institutions.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Iran is now ready to be a full-fledged SCO member and that negotiations will be taken up in summer to bring the Islamic Republic to the fold.

Tehran currently has an observer status in the organization which is led by China and Russia. […]

India and Pakistan joined the SCO in July 2015, giving the group added prominence and appeal. Lavrov said the SCO is about to account for 43 percent of the world’s population and 24 percent of the global GDP.

Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are other full members of the SCO. Afghanistan, Mongolia and Belarus are also observer members. … Full article

Financial Times: Russia’s oil and gas industry booming BECAUSE of sanctions

By Alexander Mercouris | The Duran | April 22, 2017

The sectoral sanctions the Western powers imposed on Russia in July 2014 because of the conflict in the Donbass continue to have paradoxical results.

The financial sanctions, which effectively prevented Russian companies from borrowing in Western financial markets, instead of causing the Russian economy to implode, have caused it to deleverage at an unprecedented rate, hugely strengthening Russia’s financial sector and the balance sheets of Russia’s companies, setting the scene for a coming investment boom.

The counter-sanctions Russia imposed prohibiting the importation of Western foodstuffs into Russia have led to a huge boom in Russia’s agriculture sector, as even the Financial Times was recently forced to admit, making Russia almost completely self-sufficient in food, and making it a major food exporter.

However perhaps the most paradoxical result of all has been in Russia’s oil and gas industry. … continue

“Strike Two” Against Canadian Radioactive Waste Dumpsite Proposal

By John Laforge | CounterPunch | April 21, 2017

Nuclear power supporters like to say, “Nuclear waste disposal is a political, not a scientific problem.” Scientists refute this slogan every day.

A case in point is the Canadian Environment Minister’s second “do over” order issued to Ontario Power Generation regarding the company’s waste dump idea. The 15-page order, issued April 5, rejected the company’s sophomoric answers to a previous “not good enough” finding by Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna.

OPG wants to bury 7 million cubic feet of radioactive waste in a deep hole less than a mile from Lake Huron, on its own property on the Bruce Peninsula, northwest of Toronto. It’s there that OPG runs the world’s biggest rad’ waste production complex — the Bruce Nuclear Station — eight old power reactors in varying states of repair and disrepair.

The company proposes digging 2,231 feet down into part of its 2,300-acre compound on Lake Huron, and burying all sorts of radioactive material (everything except waste fuel rods), including a “significant amount” of carbon-14, a cancer agent with a deadly radioactive “life” of 57,300 years — i.e. ten 5,730-year radioactive half-lives. After two years of public hearings into the question of placing long-lasting poisons next to a major source of drinking water, a federal Joint Review Panel in 2015 recommended approval of the project to Minister McKenna.

McKenna was to make a decision by March 1, 2016, but instead demanded better work from OPG. On Feb. 18, 2016, the Minister ordered the company to produce details about alternate dump sites. OPG submitted shockingly shabby generalizations Dec. 28, 2016, and McKenna’s April 5 reply is an understated denunciation of OPG’s obfuscations and evasions. Beverly Fernandez, founder of Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump, told Clinton, Michigan’s The Voice, “OPG has been given a failing grade on its most recent report regarding burying its radioactive nuclear waste less than a mile from the Great Lakes. OPG has now been issued a strong set of new challenges to answer.”

For example, the company has the nerve to [state] that, “All underground facilities (office, tunnel, emplacement room) will be constructed in accordance with the seismic requirements of the latest edition of the National Building Code at the time of the construction.” In fact, as the Minister’s rejection of OPG’s attempted snow-job pointed out, “There are no specific seismic requirements in the National Building Code for underground facilities…. Provide a revised version…” … continue

A ‘Red Team’ Exercise Would Strengthen Climate Science

Put the ‘consensus’ to a test, and improve public understanding, through an open and adversarial process. – Steve Koonin

By Judith Curry | Climate Etc. | April 21, 2017

Steve Koonin has an op-ed published today in the Wall Street Journal : A ‘Red Team’ Exercise Would Strengthen Climate Science […]

Steve Koonin’s op-ed provides heft and a new rationale for a climate ‘red team’ exercise, in context of the March for Science. If scientists are truly marching for SCIENCE (rather than for funding and political power), then they should celebrate the opportunity for a climate science Blue Team – Red Team exercise. Such an exercise, as pointed out by Koonin, would strengthen climate science, improve public understanding of science, better inform the policy process, and would publicly demonstrate scientific reasoning and argument.

If the ‘consensus’ is really as strong as they think it is, then the ‘consensus’ scientists have nothing to lose in such an exercise — the consensus would emerge as strengthened. … Read article

The Main Issue in the French Presidential Election: National Sovereignty

By Diana Johnstone | CounterPunch | April 21, 2017

ParisThe 2017 French Presidential election marks a profound change in European political alignments. There is an ongoing shift from the traditional left-right rivalry to opposition between globalization, in the form of the European Union (EU), and national sovereignty.

Standard media treatment sticks to a simple left-right dualism: “racist” rejection of immigrants is the main issue and that what matters most is to “stop Marine Le Pen!” Going from there to here is like walking through Alice’s looking glass. Almost everything is turned around.

On this side of the glass, the left has turned into the right and part of the right is turning into the left.

Fifty years ago, it was “the left” whose most ardent cause was passionate support for Third World national liberation struggles. The left’s heroes were Ahmed Ben Bella, Sukarno, Amilcar Cabral, Patrice Lumumba, and above all Ho Chi Minh. What were these leaders fighting for? They were fighting to liberate their countries from Western imperialism. They were fighting for independence, for the right to determine their own way of life, preserve their own customs, decide their own future. They were fighting for national sovereignty, and the left supported that struggle.

Today, it is all turned around. “Sovereignty” has become a bad word in the mainstream left. … continue

City of Barcelona officially supports BDS

MEMO | April 21, 2017

Barcelona’s City Council passed an official declaration on Wednesday in support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

According to a statement released by BDS, the declaration includes the promotion of “contracts to ensure respect for human rights, specifically with companies which are linked to the Israeli occupation in Palestine,” and urges the Government of Catalonia to “create a centre for study and assessment of the impact of Catalan enterprises investing abroad.”

The statement added that the declaration expressed support for nonviolent resistance campaigns spearheaded by Palestinian and international civil society aimed at defending Palestinian human rights and upholding international laws.

“Through this vote, Barcelona City Council puts an end to the complicity of the city of Barcelona with the flagrant, systematic human rights violations of the colonising occupation and expansion of the State of Israel in Occupied Palestinian Territories and recognises the right to BDS,” the statement added.

According to BDS, the number of Spanish cities which support BDS has soared to 70. … Full article

Palestinian journalist injured in IOF quelling of Kafr Qaddum march

Palestine Information Center – April 21, 2017

QALQILYA – A Palestinian journalist, Anal al-Jada, correspondent of Palestine TV in Qalqilya, was injured on Friday in Israeli quelling of Kafr Qaddum weekly march.

Local sources revealed that Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) fired tear gas canisters and rubber bullets at the participants in the peaceful march. Some of the protesters choked on the tear gas, the sources added.

The anti-separation wall and anti-settlement march demanded the reopening of a main road closed by the IOF 14 years ago.

The wounded Jada was taken to hospital.

Why Does North Korea Want Nukes?

“We are fighting in Korea so we won’t have to fight in Wichita, or in Chicago, or in New Orleans, or in San Francisco Bay.” President Harry S Truman, 1952

By Paul Atwood | CounterPunch | April 21, 2017

Why has this tiny nation of 24 million people invested so much of its limited resources in acquiring nuclear weapons? North Korea is universally condemned as a bizarre and failed state, its nuclear posture denounced as irrational.

Yet North Korea’s stance cannot be separated out from its turbulent history during the 20th Century, especially its four decade long occupation by Japan, the forced division of the Korean peninsula after World War II, and, of course, the subsequent utterly devastating war with the United States from 1950-1953 that ended in an armistice in which a technical state of war still exists. … continue

NATO’s Emerging Outsourced Eastern Flank

By Wayne MADSEN | Strategic Culture Foundation | 21.04.2017

A series of moves by NATO’s Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) partner, the United Arab Emirates, has many observers in the Indian Ocean littoral nations wondering out loud whether the «North Atlantic» military pact is moving into the Indian Ocean and Arabian Peninsula, courtesy of an «outsourcing» deal with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations.

On January 27, while the world’s eyes were on the one-week old Donald Trump administration in Washington and believing that NATO would become a shell given Trump’s belief that it was «obsolete,» NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg helped open the NATO-Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) Regional Center in Kuwait. Gathered with Stoltenberg for the opening ceremony were the Secretary General of the GCC, representatives of the 28 members of the North Atlantic Council, and government officials from host Kuwait, as well as Bahrain, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Oman. The opening of a NATO facility in the Persian Gulf represented an unprecedented leap by the bloc designed for the defense of the «North Atlantic» into far-off waters in Asia. … continue

US, Romania stage joint NATO exercise

Press TV – April 21, 2017

American and Romanian military forces have taken part in a joint military exercise within the framework of the NATO.

The live-fire exercise, which involved US M1 Abrams tanks, was held at a combat training center in Smardan, Romania, about 260 kilometers from the capital, Bucharest, on Thursday.

The drill was part of the Justice Eagle 17 joint defense training exercises, being held until May 5.

The southeastern European country with 20 million people has been a NATO member since 2004 and has contributed troops to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. … continue

Hackneyed specter of bogeyman Putin becomes election weapon for Tories

RT | April 21, 2017

Theresa May’s Conservative Party has launched its general election bid with a fresh scaremongering campaign, arguing that unless Tories prevail, Vladimir Putin will win.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has already become a prominent figure in Britain’s upcoming general election, having been dragged into the pre-election debate by the Tories.

Facing widespread public criticism for not having a clear Brexit strategy and constantly implementing austerity measures, the Conservative Party has resorted to the now globally-tested method of using Vladimir Putin as a bogeyman to win more votes.

Earlier this week, British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said Russia’s president would welcome a Labour Party victory.

Speaking at an event to mark the deployment of 800 British troops in Estonia as part of a NATO mission in the region, Fallon claimed that a “feeble and gutless” Corbyn plays into the hands of Moscow. … continue

US Interventionism Prevailing Under Trump Administration – Le Pen’s Office

Sputnik – 21.04.2017

PARIS – The office of French far-right National Front presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is saddened that the United States appears to continue its interventionist policies under President Donald Trump and hopes that this will not stoke tensions around the world, the candidate’s campaign manager David Rachline told Sputnik.

“A hope for the end of the American interventionism after Trump’s victory seems to be weakened. It is deeply sad and damaging for peace and stability in the world, and we hope that what seems to be the considerations of the US domestic policy won’t be a factor of increased tensions in the world,” Rachline said commenting on the recent US strikes on an airfield in Syria.

On April 6, the United States launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the military airfield in Ash Sha’irat. Trump said that the attack was a response to the alleged chemical weapons use in Syria’s Idlib province on Tuesday, which resulted in the death of over 80 people. Damascus denied the government’s involvement, with Syrian President Bashar Assad telling Sputnik that the attack in Idlib may have been “a false flag play” to justify the airstrike.

Le Pen herself condemned April 6 strike the next day after it was carried out and three days later urged Trump to be cautious in Syria, as military intervention in both Iraq and Libya ended up bringing danger rather than peace to civilians.

Western media ‘inflate’ Syria death toll to justify intervention – Assad

RT | April 21, 2017

The Western media deliberately exaggerate the number of people killed in the Syrian conflict to create a “humanitarian pretext” for a possible intervention in the war-torn country, Syrian President Bashar Assad told Sputnik in an exclusive interview.

The official death toll of the Syrian war is much lower than the numbers presented by the Western media and amounts to “tens of thousands, not… hundreds of thousands,” Assad told Sputnik.

He went on to say that the West adds the number of terrorists and foreign mercenaries killed to the official death toll, to make it higher and create an image of a humanitarian catastrophe of an unprecedented scale. … continue

Pentagon chief in Israel to discuss Iran, Syria

Press TV – April 21, 2017

US Defense Secretary General James Mattis has arrived in Israel for talks expected to focus on Iran and Syria as well the strategic relations between Tel Aviv and Washington.

Mattis arrived in Tel Aviv Thursday afternoon from Cairo on the third leg of a week-long tour of the US allies in the Middle East.

Marking the first time he has visited Israel as the Pentagon chief, Mattis was greeted by an official honor guard at army headquarters in Tel Aviv on Friday morning.

He then met the Israeli minister for military affairs, Avigdor Lieberman, and is scheduled to hold talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin.

Mattis hopes to hear directly from Israeli leaders their concerns about regional issues, with Iran’s influence topping the list. … continue

OPCW investigation of Khan Sheikhoun attack collapses before it starts

By Alexander Mercouris | The Duran | April 21, 2017

Ever since President Trump of the United States declared President Assad of Syria guilty of the Khan Sheikhoun attack within hours of it happening and before any investigation had taken place, I have said that any investigation of the attack had been fatally prejudiced.

Especially after the US missile attack on Al-Shayrat air base, which resulted in people being killed, the honour and prestige of the President of the United States and of the Western alliance is bound up with a finding that President Assad and the Syrian military were guilty of the Khan Sheikhoun attack. Given the stakes involved, and given the enormous power of the US President and of the Western alliance, any truly independent and objective investigation of the Khan Sheikhoun attack is now impossible. … continue

OPCW’s block of on-site probe shows Western powers now aiming to oust Assad – Lavrov

RT | April 21, 2017

The attempt by Western countries to derail Russia’s fact-finding initiative in Syria to examine the site of the chemical incident in Idlib province exposes their aim to topple the Syrian government, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

“I believe that it’s a very serious situation, because now it’s obvious that false information about the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government is being used to move away from implementing Resolution 2254, which stipulates a political settlement with the participation of all the Syrian parties, and aims to switch to the long-cherished idea of regime change,” Lavrov said, speaking at a press conference with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Astana.

UNSC Resolution 2254 calls for an inclusive government in Syria and a peace process that would involve a new constitution and free and fair elections.

According to the minister, the decision displayed “complete incompetence” on the part of his Western colleagues, who, in fact, are “prohibiting the OPCW from sending their experts to the site of the incident, as well as to the airfield from where aircraft loaded with chemical weapons allegedly flew out.”

“Yesterday [April 20], our proposal that experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons [OPCW] visit the sites of the suspected chemical attack in Syria was blocked by Western delegations without any explanations,” Lavrov said. … continue

What kind of Sarin Poisoned the Political Will of World Leaders?

‘War is peace’, ‘Freedom is slavery’, ‘Ignorance is strength’ and ‘Lying is the truth’, – “Nineteen Eighty-Four”, George Orwell

Inside Syria Media Center | April 21, 2017

The statements of some Western politicians about the chemical attack on April 4, which occurred in the Syrian province of Idlib, once again confirm that the modern world is suffering a severe and chronic crisis of political will.

The lack of a clear and independent position on the issue (and also on most global problems) by the governments of Western powers is a serious obstacle in the fight against such threats as terrorism, organized crime, the struggle against hunger, the proliferation of nuclear weapons etc. This raises serious doubts about whether some politicians are competent and whether the opportunity to make the world safer under the leadership of such leaders is real.

UN experts have not yet published any objective conclusions about anybody’s involvement in the alleged use of chemical weapons in the city of Khan Sheikhun, Idlib.

Are diplomats from different countries really getting to the bottom of the truth? An analysis of the statements about the purported chemical attack in Syria makes it possible to give an answer that is close to reality.

The events that took place within a week after the air strike attack on Khan Sheikhun divided the world community into two camps. Some require immediate action, not caring about the truth, while the latter seek to establish the truth. … continue

US Intelligence in ‘High Confusion” on Daesh, Gas Weapons

Sputnik – 21.04.2017

WASHINGTON – US intelligence remains in a high-level of confusion about the capabilities of the Islamic State terror group (Daesh), including its chemical weapons arsenal, retired US Air Force Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski told Sputnik.

“The level of confusion in the US intelligence community is extremely high,” Kwiatkowski said on Thursday. “The political product from the US intelligence community seems incomplete and inaccurate, and likely not the result of an honest consensus among the intelligence agencies.”

The White House has accused Syrian President Bashar Assad of being responsible for the April 4 chemical attack in the village of Khan Shaykun in Idlib province because it alleges that no one else could have done it.

However, Kwiatkowski dismissed this reasoning as superficial and false. … continue

BBC Bias is Clear and Indisputable

By Craig Murray | April 20, 2017

Unless the BBC takes firm disciplinary action against Nick Robinson for this, they cannot keep pretending that the UK any longer holds free and fair elections. For a state broadcaster to show this level of venom and bias against the opposition leader is utterly unacceptable.

It is indisputable that Robinson’s history is as a high ranking Conservative Party activist. They dominate BBC News, as a plain matter of fact. They have changed the culture of the BBC so they no longer feel any need to disguise their Tory cheerleading.

This is an Uzbek style election.

Why Not a Probe of ‘Israel-gate’?

Consortium News | April 20, 2017

As Official Washington fumes about Russia-gate, Israel’s far more significant political-influence-and-propaganda campaigns are ignored. No one dares suggest a probe of Israel-gate, says Robert Parry. … Read article

Twitter, pressured by Jewish group, cleansing internet of anti-Netanyahu material

My letter to Twitter legal department

By Kevin Barrett | Veterans Today | April 13, 2017

Twitter has asked me to remove the above tweet, due to a complaint from the leading French Jewish group, the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF). Below is a copy of my email correspondence with the Twitter Legal Department. … continue

Teenage Palestinian girl injured after being hit by Israeli settler car

Ma’an – April 20, 2017

BETHLEHEM – A 17 year-old Palestinian girl was injured Thursday after being deliberately hit by an Israeli settler car in the town of Tuqu, southeast of Bethlehem city in the southern occupied West Bank.

Tuqu municipality head Hatem Sabah told Ma’an that an Israeli settler hit 17-year-old Kawthar Muhammad Shawriya with their car while she was walking on a sidewalk in the town, which is located adjacent to the illegal Israeli settlement of Tekoa.

Palestinian drivers who witnessed the attack, chased down the Israeli settler, forcing him to stop and pull over his car until Israeli police arrived at the scene, according to Sabah. … Full article

Israel demolishes house in Negev-area village

Ma’an – April 20, 2017

NEGEV – Israeli bulldozers demolished an house under construction in the Bedouin village of al-Sayyid in the Negev of southern Israel on Thursday morning.

Israeli forces, including police and bulldozers, arrived in the area and demolished the two-story house. Locals condemned the demolition, and said the house belonged to Akram Majid al-Sayyid, 21, and was built for him and his brother.

Demolitions targeting Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, specifically Negev Bedouins, have sharply increased since the beginning of 2017, including an Israeli police raid to evacuate the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran which turned deadly in January.

Rights groups have claimed that the demolition Bedouin villages is a central Israeli policy aimed at removing the indigenous Palestinian population from the Negev and transferring them to government-zoned townships to make room for the expansion of Jewish Israeli communities. … Full article

Claims Russia’s Strategic Studies Institute Meddled in US Elections ‘Baseless’

Sputnik – 20.04.2017

MOSCOW – Accusations against the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS) of election interference in the United States are unfounded, Russian Senator Oleg Morozov told Sputnik on Thursday.

“This is an attempt to give away normal analytical work as subversive activity. An absolutely worthless story in terms of logic that has no basis in reality,” Morozov said.

Morozov went on to point out that dozens of similar think tanks operate in Europe and the United States and analyze the political situation, which, according to the senator, is not considered to be interference in the election process.

His comments came a day after the Reuters news service cited three current and four former US officials alleging that RISS circulated two “confidential documents” ahead of the November 2016 vote. The June and October documents were described as a “plan to swing” the US presidential election. US intelligence officials were said to have acquired the RISS-drafted documents. … continue

CIA and FBI admit that Wikileaks Vault 7 NOT done by Russia, but inside job

By Alex Christoforou | The Duran | April 20, 2017

In the never ending narrative as to who is telling the truth, the various US intelligence agencies or Wikileaks, it appears that Wikileaks is the honest actor… indirectly confirmed by US intelligence agencies.

With the release of Vault 7, WikiLeaks was careful to note that the treasure trove of CIA information came to them from former contractors who worked for US intelligence.

Zerohedge reports that once again “WikiLeaks’ facts were facts and CIA/FBI facts were fake.”

Having exclaimed that WikiLeaks is “a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia,” laying the blame for every embarrassing leak at Moscow’s footsteps, the FBI and CIA have admitted that they are searching for an “insider” (not a Russian) who exposed thousands of top-secret documents that described CIA tools used to penetrate smartphones, smart televisions and computer systems.

CBS News reports that a manhunt is underway for a traitor inside the CIA…

Sources familiar with the investigation say it is looking for an insider — either a CIA employee or contractor — who had physical access to the material. The agency has not said publicly when the material was taken or how it was stolen.

Much of the material was classified and stored in a highly secure section of the intelligence agency, but sources say hundreds of people would have had access to the material. Investigators are going through those names.

The trove was published in March by the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks.

This is yet another big dent in the “Russia hacker” narrative peddled out by the liberal left nearly 8 months ago.

US Complaints Over Implementation of Nuclear Deal With Iran Irrelevant – Moscow

Sputnik – April 20, 2017

US complaints over how the nuclear deal on Iran is being implemented are irrelevant, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control, Mikhail Ulyanov, said Thursday.

On April 19, US President Donald Trump ordered a National Security Council-led interagency review of the JCPOA to evaluate Iran’s compliance with the deal, with US State Secretary Rex Tillerson stating that the nuclear deal “fails to achieve the objective of non-nuclear Iran.” Tehran, in its turn, stressed that the deal was an international treaty and cannot be changed, adding that Iran was fulfilling its obligations under the JCPOA.

“If the deal does not work, then specific complaints should be made regarding its functioning. The Americans cannot do this. The IAEA, an independent participant in this process, confirms that the Iranians are implementing everything. Therefore, any claims are irrelevant here, it seems to me,” Ulyanov said.

Ulyanov noted that it was necessary for Tillerson to separate the notions of terrorism and the nuclear deal, which have nothing in common. … Full article

Iran’s defense chief rejects US claim of sending arms to Yemen

Press TV – April 19, 2017

Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan has rejected the US allegation that Tehran is sending weapons to Yemen, saying the claims were made as Washington continues to supply arms to terrorists committing crimes in different parts of the world, including in Syria and Iraq.

Dehqan’s remarks came in response to US Defense Secretary James Mattis, who during a visit to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, accused Iran of supplying missiles to Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah fighters.

The oppressed Yemeni people have stood up to the Saudi aggression, which has enjoyed full-fledged US support, by reliance on their own power and capabilities and have managed to prevent their foes from achieving their objectives, Dehqan said.

“Today, Takfiri-Wahhabi terrorists are committing crimes in different parts of the world, particularly in Iraq and Syria, with US-made weapons and munitions,” Dehqan said.

He said the American officials had better review the historical record of US military interventions and war crimes committed in Vietnam, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan and recently in Syria and Yemen, adding that the US leveled accusations against others to get itself out of the quagmire it has been stuck in.

The US defense chief and other senior US strategists should know that the era of launching military aggression, accusing others and interfering in other countries’ affairs has come to an end, the Iranian minister said… Full article

Russia questions watchdog’s swift identification of sarin in Syria chemical incident

RT | April 20, 2017

The Russian military has questioned the swift conclusion of chemical weapons watchdog the OPCW, which has reported identifying sarin in samples related to an alleged attack in Syria on April 5.

The Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) convened in the Hague on Wednesday for an update on the investigation into the reported chemical weapons attack in the town of Khan Shaykhun.

Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü told members that four OPCW designated laboratories have studied samples collected from three victims of the alleged attack during their autopsy and seven individuals undergoing treatment after surviving the incident. He said analysis of all samples indicated exposure to sarin or a sarin-like substance.

“While further details of the laboratory analyses will follow, the analytical results already obtained are incontrovertible,” the official said.

The OPCW statement didn’t explain how exactly the samples were collected. The inspectors have yet to visit Khan Shaykhun, which would allow the collection of samples on the ground to confirm contamination from a chemical agent. The site is located in a rebel-controlled territory in the Idlib province. Üzümcü said such a visit would depend on the security situation and cited an attack on an OPCW fact-finding mission in May 2014.

The Russian military, however, questioned the swift analysis of the samples, saying the OPCW did not act with such speed in another incident in which a militant group reportedly used mustard gas in Aleppo. … continue

US bombing site in Afghanistan still cordoned off

Press TV – April 19, 2017

Afghan security forces are still blocking access to the site in the eastern province of Nangarhar, where the US military dropped last week the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat.

On April 13, a US aircraft dropped a GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB), dubbed the “Mother of All Bombs,” in Nangarhar’s Achin district.

The explosion caused by the huge bomb, which weighs more than 10,000 kilograms, is equivalent to 11 tons of TNT.

The Pentagon claimed that the bomb attack had targeted a cave complex believed to be used by militants affiliated to the Daesh terrorist group.

On Wednesday, Ahmad Jan, an Achin resident who had moved to the provincial capital Jalalabad long before the incident, told AFP that the site of the US bombing was still cordoned off.

“No one can go there, they have completely blocked the area. I don’t know if my house is destroyed. They have not even shown any dead bodies to anyone,” he said. … Full article

Le Pen on Idlib: Placing Blame Before Inquiry ‘Blows Chances to Know the Truth’

Sputnik – April 20, 2017

PARIS – The UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution on the alleged chemical attack in Syria’s Idlib province should not blame any one party without first allowing an official investigation into the incident to be completed, France’s far-right presidential hopeful Marine Le Pen said Thursday.

On April 4, dozens of people were reportedly killed in the chemical incident in Idlib. Paris, Washington and London submitted a UNSC draft resolution condemning the alleged attack. Russia vetoed the document on April 12, pointing out that the draft implicated the Syrian authorities as the party to blame for the incident, despite no proper investigation was conducted.

“The resolution has been prepared in such a way that the responsibility was put on [Syrian President] Bashar Assad even before an investigation… It is necessary to hold an international inquiry [into the Idlib incident], and if I were in the UNSC, I would vote for such an investigation, but not for apportioning the blame even before the beginning of the inquiry, because it is the best way to blow the chances to know the truth,” Le Pen told the Europe 1 broadcaster.

After vetoing the resolution, Russia’s Deputy UN Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov said that Russia’s own draft resolution on the alleged attack would request on-site investigations from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to ensure that “all possible sources and means have been exhausted” before making final conclusions. … continue

No Serious Steps Taken to Probe Khan Sheikoun Incident: Russian Foreign Minister

Al-Manar | April 20, 2017

Russia said no serious steps have been taken to investigate into the alleged chemical attack in Syria’s Khan Sheikhoun.

“Reports (about the alleged chemical attack in Khan Shaykhun) started coming 15 days ago but no steps have yet been taken in order to investigate into this incident,” Director of the Armaments Non-Proliferation and Control Department at the Russian Foreign Ministry Mikhail Ulyanov said on Wednesday.

He was addressing the special session of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), held in The Hague, Russia’s foreign ministry’s posted on its website on Thursday, according to TASS Russian news agency.

Ulyanov pointed out that all accusations against Damascus of using chemical weapons were groundless as they were based only on questionable data available on social media.

At the same time, according to the Russian diplomat, representatives of some countries are acting as if the circumstances surrounding the incident, as well as those responsible, have already been established.

“In this regard, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s article for the Telegraph is notable in which he said that ‘this was highly likely to be an attack by Assad.’ It means that the British Foreign Secretary is not completely sure. Then why do our British counterparts make such unequivocal statements on the international level?” Ulyanov said. … continue

US Senator McCain Says Exxon ‘Crazy’ for Trying to Resume Business With Russia

Sputnik – 20.04.2017

WASHINGTON – US Senator John McCain said in a statement that Exxon Mobil must be mentally unstable to apply for a waiver from US sanctions on Russia to resume its business with the Russian oil giant Rosneft.

On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal citing unnamed sources claimed that Exxon Mobil recently asked the new US administration for permission to drill oil alongside Rosneft in the Black Sea, the area covered by sanctions imposed in the wake of Crimea’s reunification with Russia.

“Are they crazy?” McCain said in a Twitter post.

The joint venture deal between Exxon and Rosneft, worth hundreds of billions of dollars, was struck in 2012 by then-Exxon’s CEO and now US State Secretary Rex Tillerson and Russian President Putin, the report added.