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Corporate One-Percenters dominate NPR affiliates’ boards

By Aldo Guerrero | FAIR | July 2, 2015

For a public radio service, NPR is notoriously known for its lack of diversity within its staff, audience and guests invited onto their shows—problems that NPR has itself acknowledged.

A new FAIR study finds that NPR’s diversity problem also extends into the board of trustees of its most popular member stations: Two out of three board members are male, and nearly three out of four are non-Latino whites. Fully three out of every four trustees of the top NPR affiliates belong to the corporate elite. … continue

Colombian President Santos Announces New Military Leadership

teleSUR | July 7, 2015

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced changes to military leadership Monday, with newly appointed heads of the country’s army, navy, and air force.

Santos said changes in command are “normal” and “necessary” procedures within the country’s armed forces.

Santos named General Alberto Mejia as army commander, Admiral Leonardo Santamaria as navy commander, and General Carlos Buenos as air force commander. The government also ratified Juan Pablo Rodriguez as general commander of the military and Rodolfo Palomino as head of the national police.

Santos thanked outgoing commanders Jaime Lasprilla, Hernando Wills, and Guillermo Leon for their service with the army, navy, and air force as he announced the changes.

The military leadership shakeup comes just days after the Colombian government signaled openness to exploring the possibility of a bilateral ceasefire in ongoing peace negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), marking a shift from the government’s previous position.

Recently, the armed conflict between government forces and the FARC has escalated as the government stalled on accepting a ceasefire. The FARC suspended its unilateral ceasefire after the government massacre in the Cauca region killed 27 rebels.

The new leadership also comes just two weeks after Luis Carlos Villegas took over as the Colombia’s new minister of defense.

Palm Oil Industry Tied to Ecocide in Guatemalan River

By Jeff Abbott | Upside Down World | July 6, 2015

0-1-0-pasionriver.2The Pasión River in northern Guatemala is a disaster area. Beginning on June 6, residents along the river in the municipality of Sayaxché, Peten, began to find millions of fish, their primary source of food and income, floating dead in the river. Community members quickly accused the Palm firm, Reforestadora de Palma del Peten, S.A (REPSA) of contaminating the river. Communities have called the pollution of their river an “ecocide.”

“Unfortunately, there has been a massive pollution of our river,” said Rigoberto Lima, a community representative from Sayaxché. “We need to put an end to the problem of palm in northern Guatemala.”

The Public Ministry of Guatemala initially declared a red alert on June 11; days after the fish first began to appear floating in the river. The Public Ministry initially confirmed that the disaster was caused by run off of the pesticide Malathion into the river, but in the weeks after, they would take back the accusations against the palm company.

However, these accusations were supported by a toxicological study preformed by University of San Carlos, which found elevated levels of the pesticide, and other agro-chemicals in the river. The report determined that the local palm industry was responsible for the contamination. … continue

Goldman Sachs-Supported Solar Company Uses Prison Labor to Make Panels

By Danny Biederman and Noel Brinkerhoff | AllGov | July 7, 2015

A leading maker of solar panels in the United States backed by Goldman Sachs has been using prison labor to help keep its production costs down.

Suniva Inc., based in Georgia, contracts with UNICOR, the name of the 80-year-old Federal Prison Industries, so inmates can assist with the assembly of solar panels.

Company officials told Reuters that prison labor accounts for only a small portion of its manufacturing operations, less than 10%. They say Suniva factories in Georgia and Michigan employing 350 people produce most of the panels. Several hundred inmates make solar panels at prisons in Sheridan, Oregon and Otisville, New York, reported the news organization.

The arrangement is part of a longtime government program said to be designed to prepare inmates for transitioning to life after their release from prison. However, prison workers reportedly earn only between 23 cents and $1.15 per hour, and are required to spend at least half of their UNICOR income to pay off court-ordered financial debts. Furthermore, the prisons apparently provide no job placement assistance for inmates released onto the streets, whose prison records follow them as they seek employment.

The UNICOR program employs about 13,000 prisoners per year and, in 2013, made nearly $610 million.

Relying on cheap labor is nothing new for Suniva, the third-largest producer of solar modules in the U.S., which was using factories in Asia until 18 months ago to keep costs down. Signing a contract with UNICOR has enabled them to transfer their operations to the U.S., according to company sales vice-president Matt Card.

“By making panels in the United States, Suniva has been able to capture lucrative federal contracts, avoid U.S. government tariffs on Chinese-made panels, and appeal to private sector customers who want American-made products,” wrote Reuters Nichola Groom.

The company reportedly earned nearly $100 million in revenue last year.

NYPD destroyed evidence in class action lawsuit against department

RT | July 7, 2015

The New York Police Department (NYPD) has destroyed evidence in an ongoing lawsuit against it, which alleges that police use a secret quota system to make arrests, new documents claim.

The class action suit alleges that NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly and former Chief of Department Joseph Esposito were secretly applying pressure to officers to issue more arrests after falling short of quotas for traffic offenses and low-level crime, resulting in up to 850,000 wrongful summonses – or written notifications to a party telling them where and when they need to be in court. Some summons cases leave the recipient with a criminal record.

The allegations that a “quota system” for arrests exists at the NYPD are supported by emails, paperwork and text messages. One text message stated:

“We missed seat belt number by 30 last week unacceptable. if need be u guys will go with me 2 traffic stat 2 explain why u missed [sic].”

However, other such records have been destroyed, despite the city agreeing to surrender the information more than a year ago… continue

Saudi warplanes bomb hospital in Yemen

921a91d6-dcd0-4cd5-8e44-ccdb735eff5fPress TV | July 7, 2015

Saudi warplanes have bombed a German hospital in the Yemeni city of Harad in the northwestern Hajjah Province.

According to the al-Masirah news channel on Tuesday, a number of people were killed and injured in the attack.

Saudi airstrikes also targeted the al-Deylami air base in the capital, Sana’a, with witnesses reporting huge explosions following the attacks.

Three Scenarios for the Donbass

By Andrey Ivanov* | Fort Russ | July 5, 2015

The specialists from the Russian International Affairs Council headed by the former foreign minister Igor Ivanov described three scenarios for the Donbass: confrontation, freeze, or continuing the peace process. How likely are they?

Life itself forces one to make forecasts. It’s clear that the unrecognized republics with a population of five million won’t be able to exist for long in the current suspended state. On the one hand there is a ceasefire, but the shelling of cities continues. Kiev continues to view Donbass as its territory, but doesn’t transfer money and fences it off with barbed wire. Poroshenko claims to adhere to the Minsk Agreements, but is against the constitutional reforms they require… continue

Constitutional maneuvering in Ukraine to deny recognition of Donetsk and Lugansk republics and sabotage Minsk-2

New Cold War | July 6, 2015

The Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics have announced they will hold local elections on October 18 and November 1, respectively. The two dates surround announced local elections to take place in Ukraine on October 25.

Prime Minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic Aleksandr Zakharchenko made his announcement on July 2. According to UNIAN News, heads of cities and districts will be elected. No decision on the election of members of local councils has been made yet.

Lugansk People’s Republic Prime Minister Igor Plotnitsky announced on July 6 that similar local elections will take place there on November 1.

Interfax reports Zakharchenko as explaining, “In today’s situation, which emerged through Kyiv’s fault, the Donetsk People’s Republic has to independently start to implement the Minsk agreements in order to rescue them. … continue

US to pay salaries of Governor Saakashvili’s team in Odessa, Ukraine

RT | July 6, 2015

The US government will pay the salaries to the staff of Georgia’s former President Mikhail Saakashvili, who is now serving as a new governor of Odessa Region, Ukraine, Saakashvili said, adding that California police will also train Odessa’s officers.

“Within the framework of Odessa’s anti-corruption pressure, the US government agreed to provide funds for the salaries of the new team of [Mikhail] Saakashvili,” Saakashvili wrote on his Facebook page after the meeting with Geoffrey Pyatt, the US Ambassador to Ukraine.

He added that American police officers from California “will train new Odessa police.”

Pyatt has repeatedly voiced his support for Saakashvili. Earlier in July he said that Washington “fully supports Mikheil Saakashvili and his team, and we will do everything so that they can succeed.”

US authorities have recently been sending other instructors to train local forces in Ukraine. In April, paratroopers of the US 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vicenza, Italy, arrived in the western Ukrainian city of Lvov to provide training for Ukrainian government troops. Pyatt then posted on Twitter several pictures of the US paratroopers marching through the airport in the city. … continue

America’s Endless Air Wars

Consortium News | July 6, 2015

Like his predecessors, President Obama is relying heavily on aerial bombardment to wage war across the Mideast, but the vague notions of who is the enemy and the horrific civilian casualties have continued to generate an endless supply of new enemies, writes Nicolas J S Davies. – Read article

Petraeus and Gordon Unwilling to be Straight on Israeli Nuclear Arsenal

By Sam Husseini | July 6, 2015

David Petraeus — who in spite of recent scandals, is (according to CNN) still advising the White House — was asked at a recent Aspen Institute event about Israel’s nuclear weapons arsenal and replied “I can’t comment.” (Audio)

This seems to be part of long-standing U.S. and Israeli government policy not to confirm the existence of Israel’s nuclear weapons arsenal.

This policy has apparently taken the form of official gag orders on the issue, as Grant F. Smith has noted.

It’s particularly absurd that someone like Petraeus, who presumes to engage in tough straight talk and allegedly shows bravery, is incapable of saying that Israel has a nuclear weapons arsenal.

Similarly, Philip Gordon, former special White House assistant on the Middle East, now at the Council on Foreign Relations, was recently on C-Span. He was asked by a caller if it “isn’t time for the U.S. to stop officially pretending that it doesn’t know whether Israel has nuclear weapons?” Gordon replied that there’s not a lot of doubt about the existence of Israel’s nuclear arsenal, but that the U.S. acknowledging it was irrelevant since the “Iranian nuclear aspiration is driven significantly by their insecurity” and, claimed Gordon, that has to do only with U.S. actions in the region and not Israel’s nuclear weapons. (Video)

What’s perhaps most remarkable about Gordon’s response is that it shows U.S. officials being more willing to point to U.S. government actions being the issue in a region rather than the actions of the Israeli government. Somehow, a cost-free action of simply acknowledging the empirical fact of Israel’s nuclear arsenal is not to be considered.

It’s also notable that there’s much vocalizing about the alleged Iranian program setting off a nuclear arms race in the Mideast, but the thought that Israel’s nuclear weapons program has influenced others in the region is off limits. (When I asked John Edwards about Israel’s nuclear weapons, he ignored it all together and worried aloud about the Iranian nuclear program setting off the Saudis and Jordanians; see: “The Absurd U.S. Stance on Israel’s Nukes: A Video Sampling of Denial.”) … Full article

Gaza war anniversary: ‘Aggressive’ UK police arrest 8 at Israeli arms factory protest

RT | July 6, 2015

cjozrbxwoaazkpkStaffordshire Police have been accused of making a “heavy-handed” intervention during a protest outside an Israeli arms factory organized to mark the anniversary of last year’s Gaza conflict.

At least eight people were arrested Monday during the demonstration outside a factory in Shenstone, which is owned by a subsidiary of Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems.

An activist with London Palestine Action, speaking in personal capacity, told RT that the demonstration was meant to be a “fun, creative” experience, but was met with “aggressive [and] forceful police tactics.”

Campaigners estimate 200 people attended the protest near Birmingham, which was the site of a similar blockade in August 2014.

The protest was timed to mark the one-year anniversary of start of the Gaza conflict. Activists held a memorial service for the 2,200-plus Palestinian victims, 490 of whom were children. … continue

Israeli forces detain 7 Palestinians from Hebron, Bethlehem

Ma’an | July 6, 2015

HEBRON – Seven Palestinians were arrested by Israeli forces in detention raids across the Hebron and Bethlehem districts in the southern West Bank overnight Sunday, local sources and the Israeli army said.

Khalil Khalid al-Balasi, 22, and Abdul Majid al-Titi, 25, were detained in al-Arrub refugee camp north of Hebron, after Israeli forces stormed their homes, locals told Ma’an.

In Idhna west of Hebron, Israeli forces ransacked a number of houses belonging to the Tumizi family and detained Jaber Deeb al-Tumizi.

Israeli troops also raided Beit Ummar village north of Hebron, where they broke into the home of Fathi Fakhri Ikhlayil.

An Israeli special forces officer reportedly beat his son Yousuf, 21, before arresting him and taking him to an unknown place.

Israeli forces also detained Tamer Suliman Ali abu Ayyash, 22, at al-Karama border crossing while en route from Jordan to Beit Ummar. … Full article

Child Injured After Being Rammed By Police Vehicle In Jerusalem

IMEMC News | July 6, 2015

460_0___10000000_0_0_0_0_0_woundedchildjerusalemPalestinian medical sources have reported that a child, eight years of age, was injured, on Saturday evening, and suffered fractures in her legs, after being struck by an Israeli police vehicle, on Sultan Suleiman Street, in occupied Jerusalem.

The child’s father Nazeeh Da’if, said his daughter, Aseel, eight years of age, suffered fractures and bruises to various parts of her body, including her right leg, nose and jaw.

The father said that, while he and his daughter were crossing the street in a pedestrian zone, approximately at 7:55 in the evening of Saturday, a speeding police car struck her.

The father and his child came from Kafr Qara’, in the Haifa District, and were buying food to prepare before breaking their daylong fast; she was moved to Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital in Jerusalem, the Wadi Hilweh Information Center said.

Daraa 2011: Syria’s Islamist Insurrection in Disguise

By Prof. Tim Anderson | Global Research | July 5, 2015

“I have seen from the beginning armed protesters in those demonstrations … they were the first to fire on the police. Very often the violence of the security forces comes in response to the brutal violence of the armed insurgents” – Jesuit priest Father Frans Van der Lugt, January 2012, Homs Syria

“The claim that armed opposition to the government has begun only recently is a complete lie. The killings of soldiers, police and civilians, often in the most brutal circumstances, have been going on virtually since the beginning.” – Professor Jeremy Salt, October 2011, Ankara Turkey

“The protest movement in Syria was overwhelmingly peaceful until September 2011” – Human Rights Watch, March 2012, Washington

03-fe2edfdb83A double story began on the Syrian conflict, at the very beginning of the armed violence in 2011, in the southern border town of Daraa. The first story comes from independent witnesses in Syria, such as the late Father Frans Van der Lugt in Homs. They say that armed men infiltrated the early political reform demonstrations to shoot at both police and civilians. This violence came from sectarian Islamists. The second comes from the Islamist groups (‘rebels’) and their western backers, including the Washington-based Human Rights Watch. They claim there was ‘indiscriminate’ violence from Syrian security forces to repress political rallies and that the ‘rebels’ grew out of a secular political reform movement.

Careful study of the independent evidence, however, shows that the Washington-backed ‘rebel’ story, while widespread, was part of a strategy to delegitimise the Syrian Government, with the aim of fomenting ‘regime change’. To understand this it is necessary to study the outbreak of the violence in Daraa, in March 2011. Central to that insurrection were shipments of arms from Saudi Arabia to Islamists at the al Omari mosque. … continue

Egypt to Jail Journalists Reporting Unofficial Terrorism Stats

teleSUR | July 5, 2015

The Egyptian cabinet drafted a new legislation as part of the country’s terrorism laws that would seek prison sentences for journalists who report on terrorism-related statistics that do not match figures issued by the government.

The draft has been sent to President Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi for his final approval, as he is the sole elected official in the country who can issue and approve laws. Since the ousting of the democratically-elected President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, the country has not had a sitting parliament.

If the law is approved, journalists reporting on “false” figures would face up at least two years in jail. The article concerned outlaws the intentional publication of “false news or data about any terrorist operations that contradicts the official statements released by the relevant authorities.” … Full article

Nuclear Deal-Making in Vienna and Tehran

By Kaveh L. Afrasiabi | Iran Diplomacy | July 5, 2015

The latest reports from Vienna indicate that the negotiators from Iran and the “5 +1″ nations, i.e., UN Security Council’s Permanent Powers plus Germany, have reached a tentative deal and are only inches away from turning it into the final agreement. […]

In terms of the reaction by the conservative Arab bloc led by Saudi Arabia, the final nuclear deal ought to bring a new sense of realism to Riyadh, which has been led astray by a senseless, even genocidal, unilateral war on Yemen, which must be brought to an end for the sake of millions of suffering people in Yemen as well as regional stability. Some of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council states such as UAE are eyeing to rip huge economic benefits from the lifting of Iran sanctions and, therefore, it is futile for Saudi Arabia to continue with its anti-deal approach that is bound to put it at odds with some PGCC member states.

Israel, on the other hand, is expected to continue with its current negative campaign against the deal, hoping that the U.S. Congress would ruin it, yet even the Republican opponents of the deal have recently conceded that they lack the votes to override a presidential veto. Hopefully, the nuclear deal will spawn a new era of attention on Israel-Palestinian issue, which has been quietly festering and requires serious global focus, which has to some extent been deflected so far due to the Iran nuclear crisis. … Read full article

Saudi fighter jets target Yemen, killing at least 10

US and Cuba: What Remains to be Done?

By BENJAMIN WILLIS | CounterPunch | July 6, 2015

… The so-called “democracy promotion” programs have ham-handedly put the lives of Cubans and Americans in danger because of the illegal nature of said programs. Alarmingly, these programs have seen their budget increased to $30 million for FY 2016- a fifty percent increase from the $20 million in 2015. Alan Gross’ five-year imprisonment was the result of his activities as a subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), a benefactor of this increase. His wife sued the American government in 2013 for more than $60 million dollars for having sent him “on five semi-covert trips to Cuba without proper training, protection, or understanding of Cuban laws.” The case was eventually settled for $3.2 million a week after the historic announcements that released him on December 17th of last year. When Engage Cuba launched it did so in the residence of Scott Gilbert, Gross’ lawyer, with Gross present as a spokesperson for the endeavor. Using Gross as a spokesperson and then not wanting to talk about “democracy programs” defies credulity. … Read full article

For Normal Relations With Cuba, End US Interventionism

By Ron Paul | July 5, 2015

Last week we saw an encouraging sign that the 50 year cold war between the US and Cuba was finally coming to an end. President Obama announced on Wednesday that the US and Cuba would restore full diplomatic relations and that embassies could be re-opened in each country by the end of the month.

For this achievement, which was resisted by vested interests in the US, Obama should be praised. However we shouldn’t be too optimistic about truly establishing normal relations until we understand how relations became so abnormal in the first place. The destruction of relations between the two countries was preceded by US intervention on behalf of a hated Cuban dictator, Fulgencio Batista, which had turned the Cuban people against the United States and set the stage for the emergence of Fidel Castro.

In 1944, after Batista’s first term as president of Cuba, he emigrated to the United States. When his campaign to return to office in 1952 looked lost, he led a military coup, seized power, and declared himself president. The US government quickly recognized his military junta as the legitimate government of Cuba and began propping him up. Much of the Cuban economy was in the hands of well-connected US companies, and the US government exerted its influence to their financial benefit.

The Cuban dictatorship was helped along by US assistance. The secret police was trained by the United States and was used to brutally suppress any political opposition. Almost all US aid to Cuba was in the form of military equipment used brutally against the Cuban people. The US was seen as the force behind Batista’s dictatorship. … continue

Minister No More!

By Yanis Varoufakis – July 6, 2015

The referendum of 5th July will stay in history as a unique moment when a small European nation rose up against debt-bondage.

greciaLike all struggles for democratic rights, so too this historic rejection of the Eurogroup’s 25th June ultimatum comes with a large price tag attached. It is, therefore, essential that the great capital bestowed upon our government by the splendid NO vote be invested immediately into a YES to a proper resolution – to an agreement that involves debt restructuring, less austerity, redistribution in favour of the needy, and real reforms.

Soon after the announcement of the referendum results, I was made aware of a certain preference by some Eurogroup participants, and assorted ‘partners’, for my… ‘absence’ from its meetings; an idea that the Prime Minister judged to be potentially helpful to him in reaching an agreement. For this reason I am leaving the Ministry of Finance today.

I consider it my duty to help Alexis Tsipras exploit, as he sees fit, the capital that the Greek people granted us through yesterday’s referendum.

And I shall wear the creditors’ loathing with pride. … Full post

Le Pen Calls EU a Cult Engaged in Brainwashing and Blackmail

Sputnik – 06.07.2015

National Front leader Marine Le Pen accused the European Union of becoming an authoritarian “cult engaged in brainwashing and blackmail.”

“The real question is whether we want to continue to live in democracies or if we agree to live in what seems to be more of a cult?” the outspoken politician asked during an interview with the French media, adding that Brussels exerted “an unprecedented pressure on the Greeks.”

The outcome of the Greek referendum provided an answer to this question, according to Le Pen.

Le Pen praised the Greferendum results calling them a victory against “the European Union oligarchy.” On Sunday, more than 60 percent of Greek voters voiced their support for the government of Alexis Tsipras and rejected the terms of a bailout deal offered by the international lenders.

“It is a ‘No’ vote of freedom, of rebellion against European ‘diktats’ of those who want to impose the single currency at any price, through the most inhuman and counter-productive austerity,” Le Pen said in a statement.

According to the National Front leader, the “No” vote “must pave the way for a healthy new approach” to the single European currency, austerity measures and the economic recovery. She reiterated that putting an end to the Eurozone would be an essential step to tackling economic troubles plaguing European nations.

“European countries should take advantage of this event to gather around the negotiating table, take stock of the failure of the euro and austerity and organize the dissolution of the single currency system, which is needed to get back to real growth, employment and debt reduction,” the right-wing politician pointed out.

US ‘Stealth’ Bombers Can’t Hide From Russian Anti-Aircraft Missiles

Sputnik | 05.07.2015

1024236116Russian anti-aircraft missiles can detect and hit US stealth bombers, Major General Sergei Babakov said, according to Gazeta.ru.

Neither the Northdrop B-2 Spirit Stealth bomber nor Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk can fly undetected from Russian missiles, said Babakov, the head of Russia’s anti-aircraft missile troops.

“The American ‘stealth’ planes are a publicity stunt. Even our older R-118s are capable of detecting F-117 [Nighthawks]. So, nobody has the hat of invisibility yet,” the Major General said.

Babakov also added that official trials of extended range missiles for advanced S-400 Triumf air defense systems are in the final stage.

The S-400 Triumf (SA-21 Growler) is a next-generation Russian anti-aircraft weapon system, carrying three different types of missiles capable of destroying aerial targets at short-to-extremely long range.

Russia is currently undergoing a $325-billion rearmament program for a 70-percent modernization in its military’s weaponry by 2020.

Iran’s IRGC launches 2nd Qadir radar system

Press TV | July 4, 2015

Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has launched a long-range radar system in the southwest of the country to enhance its air defense capabilities.

8d0528b9-8138-475e-99ae-b341845f1ac1The second Qadir radar system was put into service in Iran’s southwestern city of Ahwaz on Saturday.

The first Qadir system was unveiled in the city of Garmsar in the central province of Semnan in June 2014. The third system is also scheduled to be unveiled in the near future.

The domestically-manufactured Qadir radar system, designed by IRGC’s Aerospace Division, is capable of detecting targets with a very small cross section from a long distance.

The system enjoys a direct range of 1,100 kilometers (more than 680 miles) and can be used to detect different types of aircraft as well as ballistic missiles. […]

The Islamic Republic has repeatedly assured other nations, particularly its neighbors, that its military might poses no threat to other countries, insisting that its defense doctrine is merely based on deterrence. – Full article

Saudi sentences Pakistani activist to 8 years behind bars for criticizing Riyadh: Reports

Press TV – July 5, 2015

9e17f0aa-8d11-44e9-a738-d705441fa95fA Pakistani political commentator has been sentenced to eight years in prison in Saudi Arabia and 1,000 lashes for allegedly criticizing the kingdom’s military aggression against Yemen, media reports say.

Media outlets reported in early July that Saudi authorities have given the harsh sentence to Zaid Hamid, who was reportedly arrested in mid-June while on a visit with his wife to the holy city of Medina.

Saudi Arabia is yet to confirm the reports.

According to Pakistani officials, Hamid’s wife was able to get permission to talk to him in a Medina prison.

Hamid’s articles and speeches particularly raised people’s awareness of Saudi atrocities in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia adopts a zero-tolerance policy regarding any criticism of the kingdom’s political and religious activities. … Full article

Russia Ready to Host Third Round of Intra-Syrian Talks

Sputnik – July 3, 2015

MOSCOW – Russia is ready to hold the third round of intra-Syrian talks in Moscow, but the timing has not been determined so far, Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said Friday.

“We do not exclude [holding the third round of talks] and we are ready, but there are no fixed dates yet. Contact is made on a daily basis, the Syrian foreign minister has visited us recently,” Gatilov told reporters.

On January 26-29, Moscow hosted intra-Syrian talks, attended by representatives of the Syrian government and a number of opposition groups. The negotiations were the first talks dedicated to Syrian reconciliation since January 2014, when a UN-backed conference on the Syrian conflict was held in Geneva, Switzerland, but it failed to yield significant results. … Full article

Jewish settlers continue construction on Palestinian lands west of Salfit

-140065339Palestine Information Center – July 5, 2015

SALFIT – Jewish settlers from the expanding settlement of Leshem are still embarking on carrying out construction activities on Palestinian agricultural lands belonging to three Palestinian towns west of Salfit, according to local sources.

Palestinian citizens said that the annexed lands are part of the towns of Kafr Addik, Deir Ballut and Rafat.

For his part, specialist in settlement affairs Khaled Maali said that heavy construction machinery has been used by the settlers to level the lands and break the rocks near the archeological village of Deir Samaan.

He said that the new Israeli settlement Leshem had been built on Palestinian-owned lands mostly belonging to Kafr Addik town.

Israel seizes 600 dunums of Palestinian lands in Occupied Jerusalem

Palestine Information Center – July 5, 2015

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM – Israeli mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, ordered that 600 dunums of Palestinian lands in al-Issawiya, in northern Occupied Jerusalem, be temporarily confiscated allegedly for gardening purposes, Peace Now reported afternoon Saturday.

The misappropriation order was issued using a special municipal law that allows the municipality to exploit an empty lot for public uses for five years in cases where the owner does not develop it. Al- Issawiya locals found the orders spread out in their fields.

The lands in question have been targeted by the Israeli occupation authorities in recent years, when a plan to declare them a National Park was promoted in order to create an Israeli dominated continuity between Occupied Jerusalem and the area of E1. The park is also meant to block the potential development of the adjacent neighborhoods of al-Issawiya and al-Tur. … continue

Ulterior motives behind sanctions on Iran: Ayatollah Khamenei

Press TV | July 4, 2015

27a884e8-a17a-436f-8837-7288060e4984Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says the sanctions against Iran have nothing to do with the country’s nuclear activities or human rights record, adding that there are other motives behind the bans.

Addressing a group of university professors and researchers on Saturday night, Ayatollah Khamenei said those who have imposed sanctions on Iran are themselves the ones who foster terrorism and commit human rights violations.

The Leader said the sanctions against Iran have been imposed because the Islamic Republic has emerged as a nation, a movement and an identity guided by principles against the hegemonic system.

“Their objective is to prevent Iran from reaching a prominent civilizational status,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.

The Leader also highlighted the special role of professors in educating a generation of self-reliable, confident and diligent youths who will further move Iran toward progress.

Fallacies in Modern Medicine: The HIV/AIDS Hypothesis

By Donald W. Miller, Jr., MD

This commentary was published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons Volume 20, Number 1, Pages 18-19, Spring 2015.

Modern medicine has spawned great things like antibiotics, open heart surgery, and corneal transplants. And then there is antiretroviral therapy for HIV/AIDS. … continue

Ted Cruz calls on US to withdraw from UN rights body over Israel

Press TV July 4, 2015

Republican presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz has called on the United States to withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) after the body voted to condemn Israel’s assault on Gaza last summer.

“It is time to stop ceding moral authority to the UNHRC and tell the truth about this hopelessly biased and anti-Semitic institution,” Cruz said in a statement posted on his website Friday.

“The United States should stop legitimizing the UNHRC with our membership and withdraw now,” the Texas Republican added.

The US was the only country that voted against a resolution passed Friday by the 47-member UN body, which condemned Israel for targeting civilians in the Gaza Strip during its 50-day military offensive against the impoverished enclave. Five countries abstained.

Israel’s war on Gaza, which started on July 8, 2014, killed 2,140 Palestinians, about a third of them children. Israeli losses amounted to 67 soldiers and six civilians.

US Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Keith Harper said the resolution was one-sided. “We are troubled that this current resolution focuses exclusively on alleged Israeli violations, without any expressed reference to Palestinian violations.”

In his statement, Sen. Cruz hailed “Israel’s extraordinary efforts to protect civilians” during the war and accused Palestine’s resistance movement Hamas of using the Palestinians as “human shields.” … Full article

Samantha Power Lies to Congress About Civilian Shelling in Ukraine, Commits Felony

Russia Insider | July 3, 2015
  • The US Ambassador to the UN, she claims she believes majority of civilian shelling casualties are victims of the separatists.
  • The penalty for lying to Congress is up to 8 years of imprisonment.

samantha-powerAmbassador Power’s testimony was the subject of a story we ran on Monday of this week, and a helpful reader got back to us and pointed out that we had missed the most important part of it.

Apparently, Ambassador Power lied to the committee she was testifying before, thereby committing a felony.

Congressman Rohrabacher, one of the loudest critics of Obama’s Russia policy, asked her if she thought it might be possible that the majority of the civilian casualties killed in Ukraine were victims of the Ukrainian army.

It was a “gotcha” question, because this is a universally acknowledged fact.

Here is what the ambassador answered:

“I think it is highly unlikely on the basis of reports we have received from the United Nations and the OSCE.”

See 1.50 in the video:

This statement is demonstrably not true.  Reports from the UN and the OSCE conlusively demonstrate what it obvious to everyone even halfway paying attention – that the victims are almost universally victims of Ukrainian army shelling.

It is starkly preposterous to suggest otherwise, because even a dimwit could grasp that the separatists are unlikely to bomb their own people.

It is simply not plausible that the ambassador beleives this, and is not aware of the facts. … continue

Kiev in violation of heavy weaponry clause in E. Ukraine – OSCE

RT | July 4, 2015

The OSCE has warned that a growing presence of heavy weaponry on the government controlled side of Donbass territory has put Ukrainian security forces in violation of the terms of the demarcation line, according to OSCE Deputy Chief Monitor Alexander Hug.

“We can highlight that the security situation has gotten worse in the Donbass over the past few weeks,” Hug said at a briefing in Mariupol.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Special Monitoring Mission (OSCE SMM) stressed the growing presence of heavy weaponry, and the increased movement and use of military equipment along the demarcation line in the area controlled by Kiev forces.

“In the last few weeks, our observers as well as drones recorded the presence of heavy weapons in areas controlled by the government, which is a violation of the demarcation line terms regarding the withdrawal of heavy weaponry,” Hug said. … continue

July – 2015

June – 2015

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