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What’s wrong with ‘alternative facts’?

By Kip Hansen | Climate Etc. | February 26, 2017

‘Alternative facts’ is a term in law to describe inconsistent sets of facts put forth in a court given that there is plausible evidence to support both alternatives. The term is also used to describe competing facts for the two sides of the case. – Wikipedia

So . . . what exactly is a ‘fact’? From the Wikipedia:

A fact is something that has occurred or is correct.

Facts may be checked by reason, experiment, personal experience, or may be argued from authority.

In the most basic sense, a scientific fact is an objective and verifiable observation, in contrast with a hypothesis or theory, which is intended to explain or interpret facts.

With this context, it is not surprising that there are competing ‘facts’ of which their proponents are equally certain. ‘Facts’ are being confused with hypotheses and theories, and too many ‘facts’ are being asserted by authority. … continue

Elor Azaria verdict: a personal view

International Solidarity Movement | February 26, 2017

Hebron, occupied Palestine – Yesterday the Israeli soldier Elor Azaria was sentenced to 18 months in prison for the extra-judicial killing of Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, which happened last year in Hebron. Everybody in Hebron was waiting for the sentence. Everybody knew by one o’clock what it was. Everyone was heavy hearted. Palestinian friends compared a sentence of two years for stone throwing with Azaria’s eighteen months for murder. The implications here on the ground for what soldiers can do with impunity is also clear to all.

We at ISM had been in touch with Imad Abu Shamsiya, the Palestinian who filmed the execution, in case he wanted our support if the settlers were angry at the sentence as he has experienced large amounts of threats and harassment from both soldiers and settlers for bringing this incident to light.

Today I get email from the UK with news of how the case was reported on the BBC flagship morning show… continue

Palestinian children attend class in the street after Israel shuts down school

Ma’an – February 26, 2017

418963cJERUSALEM – After Israeli authorities shut down a Palestinian elementary school in the occupied East Jerusalem town of Sur Bahir last Thursday over alleged “incitement” in its study materials, students attended class in the street on Sunday and protested against Israel’s decision to close the school.

Children who were enrolled at al-Nukhba (“the elite” in Arabic) arrived to the campus with their parents in an action organized by the parent committees of Sur Bahir’s schools, holding posters expressing support for al-Nukhba and denouncing Israel’s closure of educational institutions as “tyrannical.”

Last Thursday, head of the school Luay Jamal Bkirat and the school’s financial manager Nasser Hamed were summoned to an Israeli police station for interrogation, when Israeli intelligence officials informed them that the school was being shut down for carrying inciting content in the teaching materials used at the school.

Bkirat denied the claims, saying that al-Nukhba school was “teaching the Palestinian curriculum used in all schools in Jerusalem and that no one of the faculty had ever been summoned for interrogation before over incitement.”

He added that the school — which serves 250 boys from kindergarten to grade six — was opened last year and gained a temporary operating license from the Jerusalem municipality, and that the license was revoked in November for unknown reasons. … continue

Israeli Soldiers Open Fire On Homes In Southern Gaza

IMEMC News – February 26, 2017

Israeli soldiers fired dozens of live rounds at homes, close to the border fence, east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the besieged and impoverished Gaza Strip on Saturday evening.

Media sources in Gaza said many live rounds struck homes, in Khuza’a town, east of Khan Younis, causing damage, in addition to striking streets, in agricultural lands close to the fence.

The sources added that the soldiers also fired several flares in the area, but did not invade the Palestinian lands.

On Friday, Israeli navy ships opened fire on several Palestinian fishing bats, in Palestinian territorial waters in three areas, in the southern and northern parts of the Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu calls for international forces in Gaza

Palestine Information Center – February 26, 2017

NAZARETH – Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu has suggested deploying international forces in the Gaza Strip as a security solution to deal with the Gaza Strip.

According to Israel’s Channel 2, Netanyahu made his remarks during his meeting on Sunday morning in Sydney with Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop.

The two sides discussed several regional issues and Israel’s concerns over taking legal action against its officials at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

Netanyahu told the Australian minister that he did not oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state with the presence of Israeli security control over the entire West Bank and limited Palestinian sovereignty.

He also expressed his rejection of any presence of peacekeeping forces in the West Bank because of Israel’s bad experience with such forces, and called for dispatching them to Gaza.

He urged the minister to make efforts to prevent the ICC from putting pressure on Israel and dissuade it from seeking to try Israeli officials accused of committing war crimes against Palestinians.

He said that Australia could influence other countries to act against the ICC and force it to reduce its investigations and fact-finding missions on claims related to war crimes.

The two officials also talked about Iran, its nuclear program and its intervention in regional problems and agreed on promoting relations and cooperation between the two sides in the areas of security, intelligence, economy and technology.

White House Cautioned Against Designating Iran’s IRGC a Terrorist Organization

By Stephen Lendman | February 26, 2017

In early February, unnamed US officials told Reuters the Trump administration might designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) a terrorist organization.

The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment. Iran categorically denies involvement in terrorism. No evidence suggests it, just baseless allegations.

Reports now indicate the proposed action stalled, US defense, state, and intelligence officials warning it could backfire, undermining Trump’s pledge to combat ISIS, along with complicating enforcement of the Iran nuclear deal.

US NATO allies are against it. The designation was supposed to be announced this month. It’s unclear if it’s suspended or cancelled altogether.

IRGC involvement is important in combating regional terrorism in Syria, Iraq and perhaps Yemen. … continue

London mayor backtracks after sparking row by likening Scottish nationalism to racism

RT | February 26, 2017

London Mayor Sadiq Khan sparked a row in tweets preceding his latest speech by implying Scottish nationalism is akin to racism. He was forced to backpedal after Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, slammed his remarks as “spectacularly ill-judged.” … continue

CETA: French MPs Want to Stop ‘Anti-Democratic’ Free Trade Deal

Sputnik – 26.02.2017

Over 100 French leftist lawmakers have signed a motion demanding the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the European Union and Canada be referred to the Constitutional Court over what they say is an issue of sovereignty.

A political agreement on CETA was reached in 2013. Although the deal was passed through the European Parliament, it still has to be ratified by all the 28 EU member states’ parliaments.

A letter signed by 106 leftist members of France’s National Assembly said the deal implied a transfer of sovereignty by signatory countries “beyond what they agreed upon in favor of the EU.” … continue

Milo Djukanovic’s Claims of Russian Assassination Plot Are a Desperate Ploy to Further NATO Bid

By James George JATRAS | Strategic Culture Foundation | 26.02.2017

Reports surfacing in the British media of a Russian plot to kill Montenegro’s former prime minister Milo Djukanovic should be seen for the cynical ploy they are. To give just the smallest bit of defense to these British publications – yes, it is true Djukanovic is making these allegations. Is there any substance or proof to these allegations? No. The UK media has shown it is as politicized as its American mainstream counterparts like CNN by publishing such fake news.

Good reason to doubt these baseless charges starts from the fact that they come from Djukanovic, who has a stupendous reputation for corruption and is trying to move forward desperately with NATO accession for Montenegro which has stalled in the U.S. Senate for about two months. At this point if he were to say the sky is blue, it would be reason to disbelieve him and look for an ulterior motive.

Djukanovic transparently is throwing this red meat on the table in the context of hysteria that is going on in Washington concerning allegations of Moscow’s hacking the American election (“the Russians did it!”) and the open attack by the “deep state,” by elements of the intelligence community with their leaks, and by the mainstream media that just claimed the scalp of general Mike Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former National Security Adviser. Besides criminally seeking to overthrow the constitutionally elected government – as they have imposed “regime change” on other countries – they want to do anything they can to block any rapprochement from the Trump administration with Moscow. … continue

Human Rights Watch Cites Al Qaeda and Collaborators in Latest Syria Report

By Tony Cartalucci – New Eastern Outlook – 26.02.2017

On the heels of Amnesty International’s admittedly and entirely fabricated report regarding Syria’s Saydnaya prison, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has published its own baseless report on Syria – this one regarding alleged chlorine bomb attacks in Aleppo during the city’s liberation late last year.

In a post on HRW’s website titled, “Syria: Coordinated Chemical Attacks on Aleppo,” it claims:

Syrian government forces conducted coordinated chemical attacks in opposition-controlled parts of Aleppo during the final month of the battle for the city, Human Rights Watch said today.

However, when qualifying HRW’s accusations, it admits:

Through phone and in-person interviews with witnesses and analysis of video footage, photographs, and posts on social media, Human Rights Watch documented government helicopters dropping chlorine in residential areas on at least eight occasions between November 17 and December 13, 2016. The attacks, some of which included multiple munitions, killed at least nine civilians, including four children, and injured around 200.

Watching the videos and viewing the photographs reveals that none of them actually link any of the alleged “chlorine attacks” to Syrian forces, or even to chlorine itself.

The body of evidence presented by HRW also reveals that the interviews they conducted with alleged “witnesses” included almost exclusively opposition forces. Among them were the US-UK funded White Helmets – referred to disingenuously as “Syria Civil Defense” in HRW’s report – who served as designated terrorist organization Jabhat Al Nusra auxiliaries, often found on the battlefield shoulder-to-shoulder with armed militants. … continue

US Ambassador to UN Nikki Haley: We Must Sanction Assad Over Chemical Weapons!

By Daniel McAdams | Ron Paul Institute | February 24, 2017

Recently, we had a look at the ways President Trump’s Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, is making her predecessor, “humanitarian bomber” Samantha Power, look like a model diplomat by comparison. It turns out Haley’s ghastly performance at the UN thus far is no fluke. Each time she opens her mouth she spews not the kind of foreign policy that President Trump campaigned on, but rather the boot-in-the-face know-nothingness that we have grown accustomed to in recent years.

In the latest “Haley Alert,” the Ambassador is furious over a Russia-threatened veto of a UN Security Council resolution offered by the US, UK, and France to impose new sanctions on the Syrian government over unproven allegations that Syria used chemical weapons against its own population.

Yes, under Ambassador Haley we have entered a time machine back to 2013, where the US is ready to deploy its entire diplomatic (and perhaps military) arsenal against the one government in the Middle East actually fighting President Trump’s sworn enemies: ISIS and al-Qaeda. … continue

Trump’s Embattled ‘Revolution’

Consortium News | February 25, 2017

President Trump’s domestic “revolution” on behalf of “forgotten” Americans requires a complementary foreign policy of reduced warfare and a weaker dollar, explains ex-British diplomat Alastair Crooke. – Read article

How ‘New Cold Warriors’ Cornered Trump

Consortium News | February 25, 2017

The U.S. intelligence community’s extraordinary campaign of leaks claiming improper ties between President Trump’s team and Russia seeks to ensure a lucrative New Cold War by blocking detente, reports Gareth Porter. – Read article

Eight dead in fresh Saudi airstrikes on Yemen

Press TV – February 25, 2017

At least seven people have lost their lives and several others sustained injuries when Saudi fighter jets carried out a raft of aerial attacks against residential neighborhoods across Yemen.

On Saturday, Saudi military aircraft struck an area in the Red Sea port city of Mukha, situated 346 kilometers south of the capital, Sana’a, leaving five children dead, Arabic-language al-Masirah television news network reported.

A couple and their son also lost their lives when Saudi fighter jets struck a house in Manjadah village in Yemen’s southwestern province of Dhamar.

Later in the day, six aerial attacks hit Khalid military base in the Mawza’ district of the southwestern Ta’izz Province. However, there were no immediate reports of casualties and the extent of damage caused.

Saudi military aircraft also bombarded an area in the city of Sirwah, which lies about 120 kilometers east of the capital, with no casualties reported. … Full article

Palestinians face intense online hate from Israelis, say campaigners

Palestinian lawyers call for investigation of police minister as survey shows soaring levels of anti-Arab speech on Hebrew social media

By Jonathan Cook • Middle Eastern Eye • February 25, 2017

no-arabs-483Israel’s 1.7 million Palestinian citizens are facing a tidal wave of incitement and hate speech on social media, including from government ministers, community leaders have warned.

They say the increasingly hostile political climate in Israel is stoking violence from the police and street gangs, and has laid the ground for a recent raft of racist legislative proposals.

The alert comes as a group of Palestinian lawyers demand that Israel’s attorney general investigates Gilad Erdan, the internal security minister, for incitement to racism.

Adalah, a legal group for Israel’s Palestinian minority, highlighted statements from Erdan blaming Palestinian citizens for “arson terrorism” last November after forest fires swept the country, despite their having been no prosecutions.

“Israel has experienced arson terrorism and I won’t let anyone sweep this fact under the rug,” he wrote on Facebook in December. “Why does it seem unrealistic that Arabs would attempt to harm Jews?” … continue

3 Palestinians killed, 5 injured after suffocating inside Gaza tunnel

Ma’an – February 25, 2017

GAZA CITY – Three Palestinians were killed and five others were injured after suffering from gas suffocation on Friday evening while working inside a tunnel between the border of the besieged Gaza Strip and Egypt, the Palestinian Civil Defense reported on Saturday.

The Civil Defense pointed out that the tunnel was blown up last week by Egyptian authorities, adding that the workers were attempting to renovate the tunnel again. […]

Since Egyptian President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi came to power, however, Egypt has strictly enforced the blockade and flooded hundreds of the tunnels as part of an ongoing security campaign in the northern Sinai Peninsula against anti-regime militants launching attacks on Egyptian police and military personnel.

The Institute for Palestine Studies reported in 2012 that Hamas authorities had counted 160 deaths inside the tunnels since the Israeli blockade began in 2007, and in August 2014, Al-Jazeera reported that figure to be as high as 400.

The majority of the nearly two million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are sealed inside the coastal enclave due to the continuation of the military blockade imposed by Israel and upheld by Egypt on the southern border. … Full article

Israel to build touristic park on Mount of Azzeitun in Jerusalem

Palestine Information Center – February 25, 2107

433718282The Israeli municipal authority in Occupied Jerusalem plans to seize a large tract of Palestinian land on Mount of Azzeitun (Olives) to carry out development of a touristic park.

According to a report published by Iroshalim newspaper, a master plan for the park was submitted recently to the district planning and building committee in Occupied Jerusalem to obtain approval.

The local residents in Azzeitun area, however, are deprived of using the land where the park project would take place for building homes or establishing projects for their own benefit.

The new project will be 6.3 kilometers long and extend to the Hebrew University on al-Masharif (Scopus) Mount.

It will overlook the Old City of Jerusalem and include roads, bistros, public toilets, an information center, a souvenir store, a parking lot and other structures.

Israel seeks to carry out many Judaization plans in Jerusalem as part of its effort to change the historical Arab character and identity of the city.

US VP assures GOP Jewish leaders of strong support for Israel

Press TV – February 25, 2017

Vice President Mike Pence has assured the Republican Jewish establishment that US bonds with Israel will grow stronger under the new administration.

“We’re going to keep our end of the bargain,” Pence told the Republican Jewish Coalition during the group’s annual leadership meeting on Friday. “If the world knows nothing else, the world will know this: America stands with Israel.”

Many within the Republican Jewish establishment had grown frustrated with former president Barack Obama, who did not have a close relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Pence told Republican donors and Jewish leaders at Sheldon Adelson’s landmark Venetian hotel that America’s ties with Israel were already stronger under President Donald Trump.

The vice president went on to deliver a long message of thanks to Adelson, the country’s biggest Republican donor.

“Your leadership, I believe, will impact this nation and the Jewish state of Israel for generations to come,” Pence said of Adelson. The pair had privately met just before the conference and discussed the Israeli-Palestinian issue. … Full article

Israeli forces close entrance of Nablus-area village

Ma’an – February 25, 2017

418763cNABLUS – Israeli forces closed the entrance of the village of Osarin in the occupied West Bank district of Nablus on Saturday with large dirt mounds for alleged security reasons.

Palestinian security sources told Ma’an that Israeli forces closed the main entrance of the village “until further notice,” claiming that a group of Palestinian youth had placed a large rock on the nearby Israeli settler bypass road in order to block the way of Israeli settler vehicles.

Sources added that Israeli forces had also warned Palestinian locals from continuing such actions while closing the entrance to the village.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an she would look into reports on the closure.

Palestinian communities are routinely subjected to road closures by Israeli military forces for purported “security reasons,” an act which rights groups have denounced as amounting to collective punishment.

Russia to veto US resolution on chemicals in Syria

Press TV – February 25, 2017

Russia says it will veto a UN Security Council resolution drafted by the US, Britain and France to impose sanctions on Syria over allegations of chemical weapons use.

“I just explained our position very clearly to our partners. If it is tabled we will veto it,” Russia’s Deputy UN Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov said on Friday following a closed-door council session.

He further rejected the proposed measure as “one-sided,” saying it is based on “insufficient proof” and contradicts “the fundamental principle of presumption of innocence until the investigation is over.”

The US, France and Britain are pressing to put their proposed resolution to a vote early next week in order impose sanctions on Syrian authorities accused of using chemical weapons.

The Syrian government, however, has repeatedly and fiercely denied using chemical weapons in the foreign-imposed conflict that has so far killed 310,000 people since March 2011. … Full article

Ukrainian Troops Seize Water Filtering Station in Eastern Ukraine – DPR MoD

Sputnik – 25.02.2017

DONETSK – Eduard Basurin, the deputy defense minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) in eastern Ukraine, accused government troops on Saturday of staging an overnight attack on a water facility.

“Last night, the Ukrainian side captured assets of the Donetsk water filtering station and opened fire at our positions in an act of provocation and in violation of all accords and commitments,” Basurin told reporters in Donetsk.

He blamed Ukrainian forces for using the location to fire mortars and heavy machine guns at the nearby city of Yasynuvata and the village of Spartak to the northeast of Donetsk, the regional capital. Basurin said both militia positions and residential areas came under attack.

Eastern Ukraine has been torn by a conflict between the government in Kiev and local pro-independence militias since 2014. The United Nations estimates 10,000 civilians and military personnel have died in clashes, which escalated last month.

Tories back plans for new nuclear power plants in Scotland

imageScotsman | February 23, 2017

The creation of two new nuclear power plants in Scotland has been backed by the Scottish Conservatives.

They would be housed on the site of the current plants at Torness in East Lothian and Hunterston in Ayrshire which are coming to the end of their lifespans. Both have already had their operational lives extended – with the backing of the anti-nuclear SNP government – because they are seen as essential to keeping the country’s energy mix.

Tory leader Ruth Davidson is also backing a target to ensure 50 per cent of Scotland’s energy comes from renewables by 2030 and a drive towards greater use of electric cars in proposals set out in a major new policy paper on the environment yesterday. The plans came under fire from opposition parties who dismissed the Tories’ “green” credentials. … Full article

UK saddled with burden of nuclear power due to climate policy

By Lord Hollick, Economic Affairs Committee Chairman | parliament.uk | February 24, 2017

… Poorly-designed government interventions, in pursuit of the decarbonisation, have put unnecessary pressure on the electricity supply and left consumers and industry paying too high a price.

Domestic electricity bills in Britain have gone from being second cheapest in Europe in the mid-2000s to the seventh cheapest today. Britain’s high industrial electricity prices have led some energy-intensive industries to relocate abroad. Low-carbon policies are a factor in these high prices.

Hinkley Point C is a good example of the way policy has become unbalanced and affordability neglected. It does not provide good value for money for consumers and there are substantial risks associated with the project.

The Government must make sure that the security of the UK’s energy supply is the priority of its energy policy. Affordability must not be neglected and decarbonisation targets should be managed flexibly. … Full article

Playing with fire: Dozens of nuclear alerts underreported by British MoD, study reveals

British Foreign Policy and the UK Weapons Trade

By Matthew JAMISON | Strategic Culture Foundation | 24.02.2017

or-38678Back in the halcyon days of the election of the first Labour Government in Britain in over 18 years, the New Labour Foreign Secretary Robin Cook expounded a radical shift in British foreign policy making, declaring that the Labour Government of Tony Blair would put human rights at the heart of it’s foreign policy with an «ethical dimension». This was quickly christened by the British media as New Labour’s «ethical foreign policy». Questions were raised at the time how a country with such a large weapons export industry could conduct an ethical foreign policy and that question is as pertinent today as it was back in 1997. In his party conference speech, the first as British Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, paid ritual homage as many British Foreign Secretaries have before him, to his belief in human rights and reflected that: «After a long post-war period in which the world was broadly getting more peaceful the number of deaths in conflict has risen from 49,000 in 2010 to 167,000 last year».

Sadly, Britain has contributed to many of these deaths. … continue

Venezuelan VP Releases Open Letter to US Treasury as Parliament Demands Resignation

By Lucas Koerner | Venezuelanalysis | February 21, 2016

Caracas – Venezuelan Vice-President Tareck El Aissami published an open letter to the US Treasury Department in the New York Times Tuesday in which he lambasted the body’s recent drug trafficking accusations as an attempt to further derail bilateral relations.

On February 13, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) froze all of El Aissami’s alleged assets in the US under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Act, making the vice-president the top-ranking official of any country to be sanctioned in this way. In particular, the OFAC accused El Aissami of having “facilitated shipments of narcotics from Venezuela” allegedly in collusion with the Las Zetas Cartel in Mexico.

In the letter, El Aissami charged the OFAC of being “deceived” by certain US political factions “whose fundamental interest is to prevent Venezuela and the United States from restoring their political and diplomatic relations on the basis of mutual recognition and respect”.

The vice-president further lambasted the drug trafficking allegations as a “false positive” which he said was intended to “criminalize – by way of my person – the Bolivarian Government of Venezuela”. The US Treasury Department has yet to release concrete evidence buttressing the accusations; meanwhile no US court has indicated that it is opening an investigation into the case. … continue

Perfidious Albion…

By Andre Vltchek | OffGuardian | February 24, 2017

kkohdl5Here it goes again! The same old tired and predictable tune, the same recognizable chorus. Once again the world is told what to think and what to believe. The world is also given both rhythm and leitmotif, so the grotesque and crooked dance could begin.

Who could resist, really? The lyrics of the tune are recited in perfect English, and with that air of moral and cultural superiority, which is supposed to disperse all doubts.

On February 19, 2017, RT published the following:

The Telegraph, as a favored mouthpiece for British intelligence service disinformation, is a part of psychological warfare operation against Russia, said independent journalist Martin Summers. Another accusation is being thrown at Russia as a British newspaper published a story about Moscow being allegedly behind a plot to kill Montenegro’s Prime Minister last October… According to the article, Russia wanted to overthrow the country’s government to stop them joining NATO.

So now it is Montenegro. Yesterday it was Crimea, Donbas, and the US elections. Evil Russia again! Evil China, evil socialist Latin American countries, evil Syria, Eritrea, Zimbabwe, South Africa, North Korea, Philippines, evil all those who are laughing at the notion of Anglo-Saxon superiority. … continue

UN slams Israel for ‘lenient sentence’ handed down to soldier

Press TV – February 24, 2017

The United Nations has slammed the Israeli regime for a “lenient sentence” handed down to an Israeli soldier over the killing of a Palestinian.

“We are deeply disturbed at the lenient sentence that’s been given by the Tel Aviv Military Court earlier this week to an Israeli soldier who was convicted of unlawfully killing a wounded Palestinian in an apparent extrajudicial execution,” said Ravina Shamdasani, the spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, during a news briefing in Geneva on Friday.

On March 24, 2016, Israeli Sergeant Elor Azaria shot Abdel Fattah al-Sharif point-blank in the head in Tel Rumeida neighborhood of al-Khalil (Hebron) in what has been described by the UN as an “extrajudicial execution” of a young man who was already shot and incapacitated.

“A sentence of 18 months to be handed down for such a serious human rights violation is unacceptable,” the UN official said, adding that “the punishment, which is excessively lenient, is difficult to reconcile with the intentional killing of an unarmed and prone individual.”

The UN rights official said Israeli officials had been contacted numerous times over the impunity of Israeli military forces and the disproportionate sentences handed by Israeli courts.

“This is a chronic culture of impunity that we are talking about; this is not one individual case,” she said.

“It also stands in contrast to the sentences handed down by other Israeli courts for less, for other less serious offences, notably the sentencing of Palestinian children to more than three years’ imprisonment for throwing stones at cars. This case risks undermining confidence in the justice system and reinforcing the culture of impunity,” she added. … Full article

Castigated by the Southern Poverty Law Center

By Deir Yassin Remembered | Dissident Voice | February 24, 2017

The “public” that allegedly “protested” against this billboard in Ann Arbor, as reported by the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, were not the only folks watching DYR.

dyr-e1487635513786The SPLC has now included DYR on its Hate Map.

Dan McGowan responds:

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) recently criticized Deir Yassin Remembered (DYR) by including it on the so-called Hate Map, purportedly for the high crime of Holocaust denial.

Apparently if the SPLC disagrees with you, it will label you as a racist or a hatemonger. There is no discussion, no defense, and no chance of winning a defamation suit against it.

The SPLC is the cash cow of the civil rights movement. Last year it took in over $58 million, some of which was added to its bloated endowment of over $328 million held in questionable investments, some in off shore accounts.

Its two chief executives together received over $800,000. Of its nine top executives, none come from minorities. … continue

The New Baghdad Pact

By Dr Bouthaina Shaaban | February 23, 2017

A recently declassified CIA document prepared in 1983, and released on 20 January 2017, shows that the United States had at the time encouraged Saddam Hussein to attack Syria, which would have led to a vicious conflict between the two countries, thus draining their resources.

The report, which was then prepared by CIA officer Graham Fuller, indicates that the US tried adamantly to convince Saddam to attack Syria under any pretense available, in order to get the two most powerful countries in the Arab East to destroy each other, turning their attention away from the Arab-Israeli conflict.

And since Saddam was already knee-deep in a bloody war against Iran, he needed to be incentivized and encouraged by American client states in the region, such as Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, who offered to fund such a war in order to deal a deadly blow to the growing Syrian power in the region.

Hence, the US provided modern technology to Saddam in order to close the ring of threats around Syria, in addition to Jordan, Turkey, and Israel. The report expected that such pressures from three fronts, possibly more, would force Syria to give concessions in the struggle with Israel. And the report asserts that it was of utmost importance to convince Saddam to play along this scenario, because it would have divided the Arab line and distracted attention from the American-Israeli role in this scheme. … continue

At US behest Turkey reboots Syrian war

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | February 23, 2017

Turkey has decided to pick up a quarrel with Iran. It all began with President Recep Erdogan’s sudden outburst on February 14 in the first leg of a regional tour of Gulf States – Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar — when he said, “Some people want both Iraq and Syria to be divided. There are some that are working hard to divide Iraq. There is a sectarian struggle, a Persian nationalism at work there. This Persian nationalism is trying to divide the country. We need to block this effort.”

Tehran hit back by accusing Turkey of supporting terrorist organizations “to destabilize neighbouring countries.” And there has been much back and forth in mutual recriminations since then. The spat makes a mockery of the “trilateral alliance” between Russia, Turkey and Iran that Moscow has been promoting at the recent Astana talks on Syria. The Russian Foreign Ministry had announced as recently as February 16 that Russia, Turkey and Iran have formed a tripartite operational group to stabilize the ceasefire in Syria. The most puzzling aspect is that this is happening just when the Syrian peace talks began in Geneva today under UN auspices. … continue

How Trump Could Be a Truth-teller

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | February 23, 2107

… by releasing information that was unjustifiably kept hidden during Obama’s second term, Trump could underscore how Obama grew increasingly obsessive about secrecy the longer he remained in the White House, treating the American people as objects to be manipulated rather than citizens to be informed.

For instance, Obama kept the clamps on CIA analyses relating to the Ukrainian crisis, even regarding the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, killing 298 people and leading to a dangerous escalation in the New Cold War with Russia. … Read full article

Double Standards over ‘Russian Interference’ in Western Elections

By Finian CUNNINGHAM | Strategic Culture Foundation | 23.02.2017

Just as polls show Marine Le Pen of the Front National taking a decisive lead over her two main rivals, Francois Fillon of the Republicans, and Emmanuel Macron of the newly formed En Marche, the latter gets a high-profile reception in Downing Street with British prime minister Theresa May.

Fillon has no plans to make a similar visit to Britain, while Downing Street officially announced that it would not be receiving Le Pen, reported the Independent.

With only weeks to go to the first round of the French presidential elections in April, the British government’s hosting of Macron this week can be seen as an extraordinary endorsement of his candidacy.

One could express it even more strongly and say that Britain is evidently interfering in the French democratic process by elevating one candidate over another. … continue

London’s new police chief Dick led botched operation that killed Jean Charles de Menezes

RT | February 23, 2017

Relatives of Jean Charles de Menezes, a 27-year-old Brazilian shot dead by counter-terrorism police in 2005, say the appointment of Cressida Dick as chief of the Metropolitan Police is ‘offensive,’ as she was responsible for the botched operation.

De Menezes was shot in the head 11 times on a train at Stockwell Underground Station, south London, after being mistaken for a terrorism suspect.

His bereaved family say Dick’s appointment proves that “police officers can act with impunity.”

Dick was appointed chief of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on Wednesday, making her the first woman in history to head the UK’s largest police force in its 188-year history.

Although many hailed Dick’s appointment, the de Menezes family hit out at the decision, saying they had “serious concerns” for London’s security under her leadership. … continue

Israel closes Jerusalem-area Palestinian boys school for ‘incitement’

Ma’an – February 23, 2017

JERUSALEM – Israeli authorities on Thursday closed a Palestinian elementary school for boys in the town of Sur Bahir in the central occupied West Bank Jerusalem district over alleged “incitement”.

Head of the school Luay Jamal Bkirat told Ma’an that Israeli intelligence officials summoned him and the school’s financial manager Nasser Hamed for interrogation at an Israeli police station, where they were then told to their surprise that the Israeli police would be shutting down the school over “incitement in the schools’ materials.”

Bkirat denied the claims, saying that the al-Nukhba school “is teaching the Palestinian curriculum used in all schools in Jerusalem and that no one of the faculty has ever been summoned for interrogation before over incitement.”

He added that the school — which serves 250 boys from kindergarten to grade six — was opened last year and gained a temporary operating license from the Jerusalem municipality, and that the license was revoked in November for unknown reasons.

Bkirat condemned the decision and said that he “will conduct procedures to stop this decision which aims to destroy education.” … continue

ISIS Calls For Backup: Israel Attacks Syrian Army Positions Near Damascus

Israel bombs Syrian army positions on the eve of peace talks in Geneva

By Rudy Panko | Russia Insider | February 22, 2017

Syria peace talks are expected to begin this week in Geneva. And what are the Israelis doing? Bombing Syrian Arab Army positions near the Lebanese border.

Because as we all know, the Israelis are really good at these “ceasefire” things. Especially when they have no business interfering in any way in a conflict:

Minutes ago, an Israeli warplane conducted an airstrike over the western countryside of Damascus, targeting the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) positions in the Qalamoun Mountains near the Lebanese border.

A Syrian Army source told Al-Masdar this morning that the Israeli warplane had crossed into Syria after flying over Lebanon’s ‘Arsal Barrens, where both Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS) are headquartered in the eastern Beqa’a Governorate. The Syrian Army source added that the specific location of the attack was in the Jard Nalhleh area of the Qalamoun Mountains.

Oh, isn’t that interesting? The Israelis flew over ISIS and al-Qaeda positions — but saved their bombs for the Syrians. Quite telling. … continue

Who is Responsible for the Economic Collapse in the US

By Grete Mautner – New Eastern Outlook – 23.02.2017

Some people today still remember the times when America was the wealthiest nation on the entire planet and that could afford even the boldest infrastructure. But things are different now, as the US now has the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world and it can’t even afford to repair the marvels that it used to build. The near catastrophic failure of the Oroville Dam is a perfect example of the situation most Americans have found themselves in.

Just recently, the Most Important News presented its version of 11 deeply alarming facts about America’s crumbling infrastructure and its long-term economic collapse. According to this site, the US economy expanded at its slowest rate for five years in 2016. Gross domestic product (GDP) rose by only 1.6 percent in 2016, down from 2.6 percent in 2015.

In turn, the World Socialist Web Site notes that the feature to emerge from the US GDP figures is the ever-widening disconnect between the underlying real economy and the financial system. This disconnect has a significant impact on economic growth, as vast amounts of wealth are diverted from the real economy into various forms of financial speculation. This leads to a decline in investment and falling productivity, two central features of the US economy in the eight years since the eruption of the financial crisis. … continue