Ma’an – January 18, 2017
BETHLEHEM – A Palestinian rights group slammed on Wednesday the killing of a Palestinian teen by Israeli forces earlier this week, calling the case an “extrajudicial killing” and demanding that Israeli authorities open an investigation into the case.
Qusay al-Umour, 17, was killed during clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian youth in the Bethlehem-area village of Tuqu in the occupied West Bank on Monday.
Video of the moments immediately following al-Umour being shot by Israeli forces has elicited a strong emotional response, as it showed Israeli soldiers roughly carrying the teenager’s limp body by his dangling arms and legs.
Legal NGO BADIL said in a statement on Wednesday that the footage provided “evidence contradicting Israeli accounts and raises concerns about the adherence of the Israeli forces to the central tenets of international law.”
The group quoted Hisham Abu Shaqra, the Palestinian journalist who recorded the video, who said that al-Umour was not a threat to Israeli forces when he was fatally shot — contradicting claims by the Israeli army, which said that the Palestinian youth was the “main instigator” of the clashes that day. … continue
Ma’an – January 18, 2017
NEGEV – The Joint List, which represents parties led by Palestinian citizens of Israel in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, accused Israeli police of spreading misinformation to Israeli media regarding an alleged vehicle attack Wednesday morning in the Negev, as new video footage emerged further contradicting the Israel police’s version of events.
The Joint List’s statement argued that Israeli police lied in their claim that a Palestinian Bedouin deliberately rammed his car into officers during a raid to demolish homes in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran, in order to distract from Israel’s campaign to establish Jewish-only towns “on the ruins of Bedouin villages.”
Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said that during a raid of the slain Palestinian’s home, police found three copies of a Hebrew-language newspaper from 2015 with the headline: “Isis bomb that took down a plane,” suggesting that the old newspapers were evidence that the man carried out a terror attack.
Rosenfeld added in his statement that Israeli police also detained and were questioning the son “of the terrorist” as part of the investigation.
However, numerous eyewitnesses reported that Israeli police fired at the Palestinian Bedouin, identified as Yaqoub Abu al-Qian, while he was driving, which caused him to spin out of control and crash into Israeli officers, killing one policeman. Family members also firmly denied Abu al-Qian intended to carry out an attack. … continue
Press TV – January 19, 2017
Thousands of Palestinians have staged separate mass demonstrations across the occupied territories amid calls for a general strike after Israeli military forces raided a village in the Negev desert and tore down a cluster of buildings.
“We took to the streets to protest and make the voice of the Palestinian people heard. We will not accept being deported from our homes, marginalized and killed,” said Kholoud Abu Ahmed, a resident of Haifa in northern Israel.
She added that Palestinians will continue to protest and stand against the demolition of their homes as well as the Israeli regime’s terrorism.
Israeli authorities, Abu Ahmed said, are seeking to force the local residents of Umm al-Hayran village out of their homes, and construct an illegal settlement there instead.
Scores of Israeli military forces stormed Umm al-Hayran on Wednesday morning to demolish a number of Palestinian houses under construction. … continue
IMEMC News – January 19, 2017
An Israeli woman employed as a radio host with the Israeli government-run Army Radio was fired from her job Thursday after expressing on Facebook that she could understand the frustration of a Bedouin man who allegedly ran over a police officer who had come to destroy the Bedouin’s village.
Khen Elmaleh wrote on her Facebook page, “I would also run over a police officer if I were being removed from my home in order to make room for a town built for those more powerful than me”.
Her boss, Army Radio Commander Yaron Deckel, contacted her to fire her from her job – then he tweeted that those who support running over police have no place in the radio station.
It is still unclear whether the Bedouin man, Yaqub Musa Abu Qi’an, ran over the officer on purpose, or if he lost control of his vehicle – as local villagers say. After his vehicle hit the officer, he was shot multiple times and killed. … Full article
Sputnik – 19.01.2017
The recent statement of Israeli Ambassador to Russia Gary Koren about potential relocation of Russia’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem could be a joke, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said Thursday.
Earlier in the day, Koren told Sputnik that Israel would welcome potential decision of the administration of US President-elect Donald Trump to relocate the country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, adding that Moscow had also grounds for such a move.
“Probably he has joked in such a manner,” Bogdanov told reporters, commenting Koren’s statement.
He added that US plans to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem would create a “significant challenge for security in the region.” … Full article
By David Swanson | CounterPunch | January 19, 2017
At the Atlantic Council — a “think” tank funded by such bastions of democracy as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, not to mention that center of peaceful nonviolence NATO — Samantha Power announced on Tuesday that Russia is a menacing danger to the United States of America and to the rule of law in the world, which statement in fact constituted a menacing danger to the U.S. and to the rule of law in the world.
Power cited the “Russian government’s aggressive and destabilizing actions.” … continue
RT | January 19, 2017
CNN’s president claims his network’s credibility is “higher than ever,” calling it a “mistake” for the new US administration to be at odds with the news media. His statements come amid a fake news controversy on Donald Trump’s ties to the Russian government.
“I think our credibility is higher than ever, and our viewership is higher than ever, and our reporting is as strong as ever,” Jeff Zucker said in an interview with Gabriel Sherman at New York Magazine, published on Wednesday.
His comment comes at a time when CNN’s credibility is actually under scrutiny. CNN appeared at the center of a fake news controversy, having reported on an unverified memo that suggested that the Russian government is blackmailing President-elect Trump… Full article
Sputnik – 19.01.2017
One man’s righteous citizen is another man’s rat. Finnish police seem to hover around the danger line by urging children to snitch on parents who criticize politicians using social media.
In their newest campaign to raise awareness and engage Finnish citizens through social media, Finnish police have launched a YouTube channel providing information and advice. By the Finnish police’s own admission, the idea is to reach children and young people in particular by providing relevant information and facilitating communication with police officers as a preventive measure.
Whereas the first video on “PoliceTube” focused on the problem of hate speech, making it clear that it did not constitute bad manners, but rather a full-fledged crime, its sequel was even more controversial.
Using the catchy “Police Lion” mascot (which happens to be an allusion to Finland’s coat of arms), Finnish children are taught to snitch on their parents for decrying politicians using social media.
The video features a little girl named Alma whose learns that her mom is posting a message on a politician’s Facebook wall. “I’ll let you have it!” the woman threatens. When asked by the child, why she does not simply address the politician in the flesh, she admits that these are not nice things to say directly to one’s face.
The law-abiding child then proceeds to summon the Police Lion who shakes a finger at the shamed mother. The narrative explains that abusing people with images and “nasty messages” may be punishable in Finland. An ensuing song suggests that posting insulting messages on the web is very much like getting a tattoo — both stay forever. … continue
RT | January 19, 2017
Governments are using media organizations as proxies in an effort to control the information citizens can get from the Internet, says former MI5 officer Annie Machon. The fake war against fake news is predicated on a big lie, she added.
RT has been blocked from posting content to its Facebook page during the live broadcast of Barack Obama’s final news conference over an alleged copyright infringement.
The suspension was triggered by one of the social network’s algorithms, which is alerted according to what’s being submitted.
RT has a contract with the Associated Press and streamed a news feed. The agency has confirmed RT had the right to retransmit the video, so the problem must lie with Facebook.
The head of Russia’s telecoms watchdog is warning of “active response measures” if RT’s work is restricted by the American media or the social networks.
Facebook has not replied to inquiries, and the restrictions on posting remain. … continue
Russia disagrees with outgoing US President Barack Obama’s reproaches on nuclear disarmament, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday, noting that Moscow supports a proportional process.
Obama accused Russian President Vladimir Putin at his final news conference on Wednesday of unwillingness to negotiate the reduction of nuclear stockpiles.
“We cannot agree with Mr. Obama’s statement. Russia has always advocated for a fair and proportional nuclear disarmament process,” Peskov told reporters.
Peskov said the nuclear disarmament process “cannot be disproportionate, it cannot and should not lead to a breach of nuclear parity, which is critical to ensuring global stability and security.”
“Thus, we cannot agree with that, Russia has consistently taken a well-known position on this issue,” the Kremlin spokesman said.
In his final press conference, beginning around 8 minutes 30 seconds in, Obama admits that they have no evidence of how WikiLeaks got the DNC material. This undermines the stream of completely evidence-free nonsense that has been emerging from the US intelligence services this last two months, in which a series of suppositions have been strung together to make unfounded assertions that have been repeated again and again in the mainstream media.
Most crucially of all Obama refers to “The DNC emails that were leaked”. Note “leaked” and not “hacked”. I have been repeating that this was a leak, not a hack, until I am blue in the face. William Binney, former Technical Director of the NSA, has asserted that were it a hack the NSA would be able to give the precise details down to the second it occurred, and it is plain from the reports released they have no such information. Yet the media has persisted with this nonsense “Russian hacking” story.
Obama’s reference to the “the DNC emails that were leaked” appears very natural, fluent and unforced. It is good to have the truth finally told.
teleSUR | January 19, 2017
On Wednesday the daughter of recently freed Puerto Rican independence activist Oscar Lopez Rivera, one of the longest-serving political prisoners in the U.S., publicly thanked the governments of Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua for their steadfast support and solidarity during the decades-long international campaign for his release.
“Today we celebrate the victory of the Puerto Rican people. My deepest thanks to the governments of Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua,” said Clarisa Lopez Ramos, daughter of Lopez Rivera, to sharp applause during a press conference in the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan.
Speaking publicly for the first time since President Obama’s announcement Tuesday of the commutation of her father’s sentence, ending Lopez Rivera’s 35-year imprisonment for political crimes as part of the Puerto Rican independence struggle, Lopez Ramos was surrounded by longtime supporters. … Full article
By Kim Petersen | American Herald Tribune | January 19, 2017
The bona fide war criminal Barack Obama commuted the unjust prison sentence of political prisoner and courageous whistleblower Chelsea Manning (along with Oscar López Rivera and others). It is a big deal. But does it mitigate the numerous heinous crimes of Barack Obama? […]
Why Did Obama Grant Clemency to Manning?
Chelsea Manning’s friend and free speech activist Evan Greer, when asked why Obama released Manning, said on CBC Radio’s As It Happens that because of a groundswell of international pressure against the “inhumane” and “egregious” treatment of Manning Obama had no choice if wanted to avoid a “permanent stain on his legacy.” If Greer’s assessment is correct, then does Obama deserve any accolades for doing the right thing ? Or was it actually a selfish act?
And just what is justice to Obama, a president who plays judge, jury, and executioner when he orders drone attacks on persons designated enemies, and with minimal concern for the safety of people nearby? One must not forget that the Nobel Peace laureate Obama has been perpetually at war during his presidency.
Perhaps the only boost to his integrity would be to return the Nobel, submit himself to an international tribunal, and come clean on the crimes he, and his administration, have committed during his time in office. … Full article
RT | January 19, 2017
Tanks have been sent through the Channel Tunnel in a secret midnight training operation to prepare for war in Europe.
Five vehicles in total were loaded onto trains, sent through, and then returned to the UK overnight on Wednesday.
Five different types of vehicle were sent in order to ensure that a range of armor could be transported. […]
It is expected that rail will be the primary means that UK armor will be relocated to Germany in the event of NATO’s rapid reaction force being deployed for combat. … Full article
Press TV – January 19, 2017
Iraqi Vice President Nouri al-Maliki says the government of US President Barack Obama is responsible for the rise and spread of the Daesh terrorist group in the Arab country.
“Daesh is a creation of the outgoing US President Barack Obama’s administration, which has caused bloodshed in Iraq, Syria and Yemen,” said Maliki, who is the secretary-general of the Islamic Dawa political party.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Sky News Arabia television news network earlier this week, US Secretary of State John Kerry had accused Maliki of being behind Baghdad’s weakness and growth of the Daesh terrorist group in Iraq. … Full article
Sputnik – 19.01.2017
DAMASCUS – A group of US lawmakers visiting the Syrian city of Aleppo has slammed the outgoing president administration’s policies of interference in the affairs of sovereign states, the head of a local Evangelical church, Pastor Ibrahim Nasser, said Wednesday.
A delegation of former and incumbent US lawmakers visited the Syrian city of Aleppo and voiced their disagreement with the present US administration’s policy, Nasser, said.
“During the meeting [with the church officials] as members of the US Congress they confirmed that they oppose the policy of their administration, especially with regard to the issue of support of terrorists and they will try to convey the real picture to the US people,” Nasser told RIA Novosti, adding that Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and former Rep. Dennis John Kucinich were part of the US delegation.
The lawmakers said that the election of Donald Trump as the US president signifies the US people’s willingness to abandon policy of interference in other states’ affairs, Nasser added. … Full article
On Tuesday police in the Pacific coast city of Buenaventura announced they had discovered the body of Afro-Colombian human rights activist Emilsen Manyoma, 32, and her partner Joe Javier Rodallega, who had been missing since Saturday.
A prominent leader in the Bajo Calima region since 2005, Manyoma was an active member of the community network CONPAZ where she was an outspoken critic of right-wing paramilitary groups and the displacement of local by international mining and agribusiness interests.
For the past year Manyoma played a key role in documenting attacks on human rights leaders in the region as part of the recently created Truth Commission.
The police said they had found the bodies in an advanced state of decomposition in a jungle area beside the highway. The Justice and Peace Commission, an ecumenical human rights group, reported that both bodies were severely wounded, with Rodallega’s hands reported tied. Radio Contagio reported that both bodies were beheaded.
While police did not release the names of any suspects, just days before their disappearance on Saturday, Rodallega reported being threatened and said a truck had been circling Manyoma’s house.
According to the human rights organization Front Line Defenders, at least 85 human rights defenders were murdered in Colombia in 2016 alone.
RT | January 18, 2017
A number of foreign military officers who attended US Pentagon schools have gone on to commit rape, murder, genocide and carry out coups, data from the State Department reveal.
The Center for Public Integrity reports that at least 17 high-ranking foreign students that attended the schools between 1985 and 2010 have been convicted of human rights abuses and crimes in their home countries.
Annual State Department reports sent to Congress show at least 13 of the 17 were arrested or charged for genocide, rape or murder. Others are accused of torture or murder but have not been convicted and continue to work freely.
The total number of offending US graduates is said to be far higher than 17, as the 2002 law (section 549 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961) which requires the State Department to include reports to Congress only covers one of over fifty US training and defense assistance programs.
Additionally, the Center for International Policy’s own records, gathered through monitoring media reports, finds there are at least 33 other officers who are accused of various human rights abuses.
The students featured in the State Department reports are part of the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program, founded in 1976 with the aim of forging closer ties with foreign militaries. It’s the flagship program offering foreign students from over 120 countries a US education paid for by Washington.
The IMET costs $100 million a year. In 2014, it trained around 4,000 foreign military officers, teaching them war strategy, management and military history. A 2016 analysis found 11.7 of those took courses on human rights or the rule of law, the Center for Public Integrity reports.
According to Shannon Green, former National Security Council director for global engagement, “the human rights training component is merely a check the box exercise,” adding that US’s “desire for strong security partnerships” and its security interests conflicts with protecting human rights.
Those implicated in the reports include five foreign generals, a senior intelligence official and a police inspector. … Full article
American Herald Tribune | January 18, 2017
French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has reiterated her support for Russia’s claim on Crimea in a newspaper interview in which she made another decisive tilt towards Moscow.
With three months before France goes to the polls, the Front National leader said she recognised Crimea as being part of Russia and if elected, she would push for a dropping of sanctions against Russia which France had backed simply because it was following German orders.
She told the Russian newspaper, Izvestia, that the referendum in the peninsula in 2014 to become part of Russia showed the “agreement of the people to join Russia”.
“Ukraine’s ownership of Crimea was just an administrative issue from Soviet times, the peninsula was never Ukrainian,” she said. … continue
Press TV – January 18, 2017
Cuba has denounced US-led coalition airstrikes in Syria, saying they violate the Arab country’s sovereignty as they are not permitted by Damascus.
Cuban Ambassador to the United Nations Humberto Rivero made the criticism during a UN Security Council meeting in New York on Wednesday.
“We demand the cessation of the violations of Syrian sovereignty and the foreign military presence without the consent and the coordination of operations with the Syrian government, the only legitimately elected authority in the country,” Rivero said.
He further condemned the “politicization” of the crisis in Syria and “the tampering of the humanitarian crisis and the suffering” of people in the Middle Eastern country.
Those who are “supplying weapons, money and patronage to terrorist groups are responsible for the thousands of civilian victims of the conflict and the humanitarian situation,” the Cuban diplomat said, expressing his opposition to “the promotion of an interventionist agenda” in Syria.
The US-led coalition has been conducting air raids against what are said to be Daesh terrorists inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate. Analysts have assessed the strikes as unsuccessful as they have led to civilian deaths and failed to counter terrorism.
The US Air Force is also carrying out airdrops of weapons, ammunition and other equipment to militants fighting against the pro-government forces in Syria. … continue
teleSUR | January 18, 2017
Many members of the Black Panthers and New Afrika party remain behind bars, some under dubious circumstances.
In the wake of U.S. President Barack Obama commuting the sentence of Chelsea Manning and Oscar Lopez Rivera, teleSUR takes a look at some of the more prominent political prisoners who remain behind bars for their activism and fight for justice. … continue
By Nile Bowie | RT | January 18, 2017
Judging from how the mainstream media has characterized the legacy of Barack Obama so far, the outgoing president will be most remembered for his many rousing aspirational speeches and well-timed shows of emotion.
His talent as a persuasive public communicator and the strength of his personal brand, bolstered by years of apple-shining from liberal magazines and newspapers, has been Obama’s most valuable asset.
This perception of Obama that has been propagated from the top, the view that he is essentially a benevolent figure with deep integrity or the personification of a modern liberal-statesmen, is a stunning smokescreen.
The contradiction between the high-minded rhetoric of the president in contrast to the actual policies pursued by his administration has been stark and utterly scandalous.
To hear Obama wax poetic about ‘the politics of hope’ and ‘how ordinary Americans can steer change’ feels deeply perverse coming from a figure that has institutionalized a vast, unaccountable permanent warfare state.
In the face of Obama’s global covert assassination program, his numerous secret wars without congressional approval, a mass electronic surveillance capability unprecedented in history, the speeches reveal themselves as little more than banal platitudes and vapid sloganeering.
As the sun sets on Obama’s presidency, to say the press has given him a pass is a grand understatement. … continue
By James Petras :: 01.17.2017
The norms of US capitalist democracy include the election of presidential candidates through competitive elections, unimpeded by force and violence by the permanent institutions of the state. Voter manipulation has occurred during the recent elections, as in the case of the John F. Kennedy victory in 1960 and the George W. Bush victory over ‘Al’ Gore in 2000.
But despite the dubious electoral outcomes in these cases, the ‘defeated’ candidate conceded and sought via legislation, judicial rulings, lobbying and peaceful protests to register their opposition.
These norms are no longer operative. During the election process, and in the run-up to the inauguration of US President-Elect Donald Trump, fundamental electoral institutions were challenged and coercive institutions were activated to disqualify the elected president and desperate overt public pronouncements threatened the entire electoral order.
We will proceed by outlining the process that is used to undermine the constitutional order, including the electoral process and the transition to the inauguration of the elected president. … continue
By Stephen Lendman | January 18, 2017
With few exceptions, media scoundrels relentlessly bashed him throughout the political season.
Vilification continues daily post-election, inventing reasons to denigrate him, an unprecedented example of political presstitution at its worst.
An open letter to him from the US press corp, written by Columbia Journalism Review editor-in-chief and publisher Kyle Pope, warrants a reader response. … continue
RT | January 18, 2017
Award winning BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg has been reprimanded by the BBC Trust for inaccurately reporting Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s views on shoot-to-kill policies in the aftermath of the Paris attacks.
The Trust concluded that Kuenssberg breached the BBC’s impartiality and accuracy guidelines at a time of “extreme national concern,” but insisted there was no evidence of bias or of intent on the part of the journalist.
The report was broadcast for the News at Six in November 2015, shortly after terrorists attacked the Bataclan and other sites in Paris.
The news package included a clip of Corbyn saying: “I am not happy with a shoot-to-kill policy in general. I think that is quite dangerous and I think can often be counterproductive. I think you have to have security that prevents people firing off weapons where you can.”
Kuenssberg had presented Corbyn’s response as an answer to a question on whether he would be “happy for British officers to pull the trigger in the event of a Paris-style attack.”
However the BBC Trust concluded Corbyn had been responding to a question asking whether he would be happy to order police or military “to shoot to kill” on Britain’s streets – and not specifically in response to a Paris-style attack. … continue
Sputnik – January 18, 2017
Swedes pride themselves in their traditions of liberty of expression, yet sometimes prove reluctant to accept other people’s free speech. Dissenting journalist Katerina Janouch who last week painted an embarrassing picture of Sweden found herself the victim of a witch hunt quite unbecoming of a free country, such as Sweden.
Last week, Czech-Swedish journalist, author and children’s writer Katerina Janouch shared her grim view of the situation in Sweden, which many Swedes found humiliating and insulting. Janouch’s personal impressions of Sweden’s failed multiculturalism, which she shared to digital Czech TV channel DVTV, resulted in a hateful media campaign in Sweden. In addition to being accused of “spreading Russian propaganda,” Janouch had her books removed from Swedish book shops in a shocking campaign against dissent.
Uppsala bookstore Läslusen removed Janouch’s books from the shelves. Läslusen CEO Elja Lietoff Schüssler justified the decision on her Facebook page as follows: “It may be that her political views are not visible in her cute books, but my firm conviction is that I do not want to support her work in any way. Instead, I’m choosing to fill my shelves with books by authors who do not encourage fear and hatred,” Lietoff Schüssler wrote. […]
“Contacting employers of people whose opinions one dislikes is unfortunately a growing trend, which is also being facilitated by social media. This is an alarming development that happens to politicize people’s livelihood and privacy. Publishers and booksellers are of course free to sell or publish the books they want, but I cannot think of anything poorer than a bookstore that only sells books by authors it agrees with politically,” Aftonbladet’s columnist Mattias Svensson wrote.
Stig-Björn Ljunggren, a PhD in political science, expressed scathing criticism of Swedish freedom of speech.
“For those of you who intend to give public opinion, there are some important things to consider. First, it is important not to say anything that goes beyond the opinion corridor or contradicts public opinion if, unless you are prepared to pay a price. There is a great risk of damnation, which will greatly reduce your future options for expressing yourself. Also, your old enemies will seize the opportunity to kick you when you are already down,” Stig-Björn Ljunggren wrote in an opinion piece in Expressen. … Full article
Sputnik – 18.01.2017
Almost everything in life is constantly weighed, counted, measured and recorded. Nothing escapes the state’s keen interest, and Sweden is no exception. Nothing except immigrant crime, which is rather strange, considering Swedes’ propensity for transparency.
For over a decade, Sweden has not published regular statistics on criminals’ origin. A recent study showed that Swedish women were experiencing greater insecurity and were deliberately staying at home to avoid sexual harassment led many immigration-skeptical Swedes to the conclusion that the recent wave of immigration was to blame. However, there are no fresh figures on the percentage of crimes committed by the foreign-born to rely upon, as the last investigation of this kind was carried out by the National Crime Prevention Council (BRÅ) in 2005. … continue
teleSUR – January 18, 2017
Honduran journalist Igor Padilla was shot dead on Tuesday in San Pedro Sula, authorities said, making him the 69th member of the media killed in the violence-plagued Central American country since 2003.
Padilla was a reporter for the channel, “Hable Como Habla,” or HCH. After the attack he was taken to a hospital where doctors said he was already dead with several bullet wounds when he arrived.
The HCH reporter had stepped out to answer a phone call and was shot by men in police uniforms, a cameraman told local press. … Full article
A new scientific study shows why people readily abandon rationality for political beliefs. It also underscores how well Establishment forces have been able to push the populace into an ‘us vs. them’ mindset.
Researchers at the Brain and Creativity Institute used functional MRI – a revolutionary technique that maps the brain by coupling cerebral blood flow and neuronal activation – to find out what happens in the brain on politics.
“When people’s political beliefs are challenged, their brains become active in areas that govern personal identity and emotional responses to threats, neuroscientists have found.”
This would certainly explain how a hyper-partisan atmosphere breeds knee-jerk hostility, and agreement on anything becomes out of reach.
“During their brain imaging sessions, participants were presented with eight political statements that they had said they believe just as strongly as a set of eight nonpolitical statements. They were then shown five counter-claims that challenged each statement…
The study found that people who were most resistant to changing their beliefs had more activity in the amygdalae (a pair of almond-shaped areas near the center of the brain) and the insular cortex, compared with people who were more willing to change their minds.
“The activity in these areas, which are important for emotion and decision-making, may relate to how we feel when we encounter evidence against our beliefs,” said Kaplan, a co-director of the Dornsife Cognitive Neuroimaging Center at USC.
“The amygdala in particular is known to be especially involved in perceiving threat and anxiety,” Kaplan added. “The insular cortex processes feelings from the body, and it is important for detecting the emotional salience of stimuli. That is consistent with the idea that when we feel threatened, anxious or emotional, then we are less likely to change our minds.”
Instead of treating a political subject like a normal debate topic – weighing factual evidence and its relation to other significant realities – it can quickly devolve into an irrational state. Enlightenment is sacrificed as the goal becomes defeating ‘the other.’
As Aristotle said, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” Sadly, this is becoming an endangered art.
The situation is ripe for exploitation by the propaganda machine to advance The Narrative. The corporatocracy and mainstream media thrive when people are distracted by meaningless argument and manufactured rage. Rational discussion is a threat to the establishment. … continue
Sputnik – 17.01.2017
Facebook is planning to cooperate with a team of independent journalists called Correctiv, who are expected to determine the compliance or non-compliance of certain news with reality.
Earlier it was reported that Facebook is launching a fake news filter system in Germany, allowing its users to fact-check and report stories they suspect to be untrue. However, German lawyer Joachim Steinhoefel believes that the concept of “fake news” is problematic from a legal point of view and that the very idea of the “fight against fake news” is doomed to fail.
Steinhoefel leads the website called Facebook-Sperre which registers cases of wrongful removal of accounts and news on Facebook as well as the cases in which the social network “does not delete the information that should be removed according to the law.”
He doubts that that the Correctiv team that is supposed to determine whether a story is fake or not is indeed as neutral and objective as it is being presented.
In particular, the lawyer referred to the fact that the team members always attack the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, a right-wing movement which has been increasingly gaining popularity in Germany over last months.
“What is going on here is not a filtering of the fake-news and the reports that do not correspond with reality. This is an attempt of the political class to regain power, domination and control over political and public discourse by actively interfering in the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution, in particular such as the freedom of the press and the freedom of speech,” the politician told Sputnik Germany. … Full article
Al-Manar – January 18, 2017
US Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii has just departed Damascus following a trip her aides described as a “fact finding” mission to work toward ending the nearly six year conflict in Syria, according to Foreign Policy website.
Congressional travel to the devastated country is exceedingly rare, especially as fighting continues in direct violation of a recent ceasefire agreement brokered by Turkey and Russia.
This week, Syrian government forces backed by Lebanese fighters attempted to recapture a terrorist-controlled area near Damascus that includes a pumping station that supplies most of the city’s water.
Gabbard, an Iraq war veteran who drew speculation about an appointment in the Trump administration after she met privately with the president-elect in November, has frequently bucked her party and Washington’s foreign policy establishment in debates over the Syrian conflict. … Full article
Syrian deputy Foreign Ministry rejected on Wednesday the participation of Saudi Arabia and Qatar in the Astana peace talks on Syria next week, stressing that negotiations should not include every party that supports, arms and funds terrorism.
“Once Qatar and Saudi Arabia halt their support to terrorism, then we can discuss their participation in the talks,” he said.
Speaking to Al-Mayadeen TV, Moqdad said that Washington should prove its sincerity to deal with solutions for the Syrian crisis, prevent the support of armed terrorist groups, and exert pressure on Turkey to close its border with Syria.
On the participation of the United States in Astana negotiations, the Syrian official said “anyone who wants to work in good will to resolve the crisis in Syria can take part,” calling to “punish those who finance and arm terrorism, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar.”
By Richard Silverstein | Tikun Olam | January 18, 2017
When is “terror,” terror? When is it something else? Who defines what is “terror?”
Tonight’s post will be difficult to write because it will try to parse the linguistic thicket defining “terrorism” in the Israeli context. Most of us understand terror as an act of violence by individuals or groups aggrieved for their treatment at the hands of others. In some cases, the target is a nation which rules over them. In others, terror is used to eliminate perceived political, religious or ethnic enemies.
In Israel, terror is used by both Israeli Jews and Palestinians. Among Israeli Jews there is ad hoc terror perpetrated by settlers. But there is also state-sponsored terror, which is based on historical policies of theft, oppression, ethnic cleansing, assassination and murder. Israelis seem to think that states, or at least their state, are outside the definition of “terror” since they’re not individual actors or oppressed groups. This simply isn’t the case. In Israel’s case, its state policies are terror because they employ mass violence to uphold a regime systematically oppressing the Palestinians in violation of international law. Keep in mind that approximately 40,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since 1948.
In that sense, today’s ethnic cleansing of the Bedouin village of Um al Hiran was an act of state terror. … continue
By Gilad Atzmon – January 17, 2017
In the end of October (2016) we learned from the British Jewish media that Police were called to University College London (UCL) amid claims of common assault and verbal intimidation by “pro-Palestinian protestors” at an event with an Israeli speaker.
We had to wait another three months for a single honest Jew (Jerry Lewis of Hampstead Synagogue) to admit in front of the notorious ultra Zionist BOD, that the event at UCL was actually provoked by Jewish groups that have nothing to do with the Jewish students community. At least one of those Jewish groups is funded by Israel according to Lewis. These groups invoke ‘hatred’ against Jews because this is how they justify their existence and sustain their funding.
Following the recent Al Jazeera expose, the foreign office must expel the Israeli Ambassador Mark Regev. The police and the MI5 better look into Lewis’ claims.
What Elor Azaria Taught Us about Israel
By Ramzy Baroud | Ma’an | January 17, 2017
For some, the ‘manslaughter’ conviction – following the murder by Israeli army medic, Elor Azaria, of already incapacitated Palestinian man, Fattah al-Sharif – is finally settling a protracted debate regarding where Israelis stand on Palestinian human rights.
Nearly 70 percent of the Israeli public supports calls to pardon the convicted soldier who is largely perceived among Israelis as the “child of us all.”
Israeli leaders are also lining up to lend their support to Azaria and his family. These sympathetic politicians include Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and ministers Naftali Bennett and Miri Regev, among others. Leading opposition leaders are also on board.
Pro-Israeli pundits, who never miss an opportunity to highlight Israel’s supposed moral ascendency, took to social media, describing how the indictment further demonstrates that Israel is still a country of law and order. … continue
By Ghassan Bannoura | IMEMC | January 18, 2017
Hours after Israeli soldiers killed a Palestinian teen in Bethlehem, the army shot and killed, on Tuesday evening, a Palestinian man at a military roadblock, west of Tulkarem, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank.
Palestinian medical sources said the man has been identified as Nidal Daoud Mahdawi, 44, from Shweika area, north of Tulkarem. [Married, father of five]
The Israeli army claimed that the Palestinian was trying to cross roadblock #104, and that he “attempted to stab the soldiers, before they shot him.” There have been no reports of injuries among the soldiers.
A video of the incident shows the man standing still behind a pole, when a soldier fired a round near him; Mahdawi started walking towards the soldiers who fired several other rounds, and then he started running towards them before they fired the fatal shots.
Also on Tuesday, the soldiers killed a Palestinian teen, identified as Qussai al-‘Amour, 17, in Teqoua’ town, southeast of Bethlehem. … continue
Palestine Information Center – January 17, 2017
GAZA – Israeli navy forces Tuesday afternoon opened machinegun fire at Palestinian fishing boats and injured two fishermen while they were sailing in al-Sudaniya off the northern coast of Gaza.
The PIC reporter revealed that Israeli gunboats fired rubber bullets at two fishermen identified as Umran Baker and Khaldoun Abu Riyaleh.
The attack is another episode in the series of Israeli daily violations of the Cairo-brokered truce accord signed in the wake of the Israeli offensive on the besieged coastal enclave in August 2014, which killed over 2,300 Palestinians, mostly civilians.
By Jonathan Cook | Dissident Voice | January 16, 2017
Forget the empty posturing of world leaders in Paris yesterday. This photo tells us what the Israel-Palestine “conflict” is really about.
Imagine for a second that the little boy – how old is he, eight, nine? – is your son, trying to adjust his keffiyeh because it keeps falling over his eyes and he can’t see anything. Imagine your small son surrounded by masked Israeli “soldiers”, or what looks more like a Jewish militia than an army.
Imagine that the boy is likely soon to be bundled into the back of a military van and taken for interrogation without his parents or a lawyer present, or even knowing where he is. That he could end up beaten and tortured, as human rights groups have regularly documented.
Maybe you can’t imagine any of that because you, a responsible parent living in Europe or the United States, would never let your child out to throw stones.
Then you need to know more about the story behind this picture. … continue
By Michael J. Sainato | CounterPunch | January 17, 2017
The Democratic Party establishment has responded to Hillary Clinton’s election loss the same way they would have responded had Hillary Clinton won, by changing absolutely nothing. Clinton’s overt embrace of wealthy donors and establishment figures from both political parties repelled thousands of voters toward third parties, voting for Trump, or apathy.
This trend embodied by Clinton’s candidacy has resulted in Democrats losing over 900 state legislature seats and failing to recoup majorities in both houses of Congress. Instead of figuring out how to reconnect with working and middle class voters across the country, Democrats are handing the keys of the party directly over to wealthy billionaire donors while attempting to maintain the facade they care about the common voter.
Despite formal complaints, a lawsuit, and ethical concerns, billionaire donor and close ally to former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Stephen Bittel was elected by the Florida Democratic Party establishment to serve as its new Chair on January 14. Next weekend in Florida, billionaire donors will gain even more ground in the Democratic Party at a private retreat hosted by Clinton propagandist David Brock, where each candidate for the new DNC Chair will participate in a forum to woo support from the Democratic Party’s donors. … continue
RT | January 17, 2017
A growing number of opposition groups in Syria are getting increased weapons and ammunition supplies from the US Air Force to tackle Islamic State, according to US media reports citing the country’s military.
The weapons are intended for opposition forces closing in on IS’s self-proclaimed capital Raqqa in Syria, USA Today reports.
The “expanded” airdrops are “helping ground forces take the offensive to [the Islamic State] and efforts to retake Raqqa,” Gen. Carlton Everhart, commander of the US Air Mobility Command, is quoted by the news outlet.
Currently, the Syrian Democratic Force (SDF) – an alliance of various militias, mainly formed by Kurdish fighters – is continuing its push to retake territories around Raqqa. SDF is among key opposition forces being backed by the US-led international coalition in Syria. … continue
Consortium News | January 16, 2017
President-elect Trump is outlining a foreign policy that rejects the interventionist tenets of Washington’s neocon/liberal-hawk establishment and puts U.S.-Russia nuclear arms control at the top of his agenda, writes Gilbert Doctorow. – Read article
Sputnik – 16.01.2017
Russia is ready to consider the US proposals on joint nuclear disarmament, but other nuclear powers should also join the process, Viktor Ozerov, the head of the Russian parliamentary security committee, said Monday. […]
“For sure, Russia will consider this proposal. I think any offer from the US President-elect is worth studying. Russia has repeatedly stated that it was ready for a dialogue… Apart from Russia and the United States there are other countries, which have official status of a nuclear powers, so the process should also involve these countries,” Ozerov told RIA Novosti. – Full article
By Robert Bridge | RT | January 17, 2017
Since becoming the US Commander-in-Chief in 2008, Barack Obama charted a thinly veiled anti-Russia course that many failed to anticipate or appreciate due to the media-generated hype of “hope and change” that accompanied his rise to power. … continue
Sputnik – 16.01.2017
Information about the situation in the sphere of human rights in Russia contained in the report issued by Human Right Watch (HRW) is false, Russian Foreign Ministry Special Representative for Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law Konstantin Dolgov said Monday.
The announcement comes as Human Rights Watch issued the so-called World Report with an overview of the human rights violations across the world.
“The ‘Russian’ chapter of the Human Rights Watch report on the situation in the sphere of human rights is a compilation of lies and manipulation [of facts] … It is clear that it was a political order of the outgoing US administration,” Dolgov wrote on his Twitter page.
The report accused Russia of prosecutions for online speech, provoking a “human rights crisis” in “occupied” Crimea, infringement on LGBT rights and other violations of human rights.
By Sergey Gladysh | The Duran | January 17, 2017
After an hour and a half meeting with the French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, Poland’s Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski expressed his concerns regarding her plans for EU reform. According to Waszczykowski, Le Pen could lead the union to its collapse.
“She is committed to radical reform of the situation in Europe, radical reform of the EU. She would like to turn it (the EU) into a completely different structure, which would not be under the influence of neither Russia nor the United States,” said Waszczykowski, adding that the implementation of such a plan is disadvantageous for Poland, as it involves turning the EU into a “free Union”.
It’s unclear what Waszczykowski meant by a “free Union” or why an independent EU is bad for Poland. … Full article
RT | January 17, 2017
A military security system, which would include Russia, should be set up instead of NATO, Sahra Wagenknecht, leader of the German Left party said in an interview, echoing Trump’s recent statements on NATO.
“NATO must be dissolved and replaced by a collective security system including Russia,” Wagenknecht told Germany’s Funke media group on Tuesday. NATO has received its fair share of criticism in the German media following US President-elect Donald Trump’s recent interview published by Bild, in which he called NATO an “obsolete” organization. […]
The Left party is the largest opposition group in the German parliament, and has previously called for closer ties with Russia.
The comments come amid the amassing of US troops, tanks, and military equipment in Europe near Russia’s borders as part of a NATO operation called Atlantic Resolve. … Full article
By Baxter Dmitry | YourNewsWire | January 15, 2017
Ulfkotte, the former German newspaper editor whose bestselling book exposed how the CIA controls German media, has been found dead. He was 56.
Ulfkotte was an editor at Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, one of the largest newspapers in Germany, when he published Bought Journalists, the bestselling book that cost him his job and perhaps his life.
German media, who were banned from reporting on his work in recent years, are reporting he died of “heart failure”.
Acknowledging that his life was under threat, Ulfkotte explained that he was in a better position than most journalists to expose the truth because he didn’t have any children who could be threatened. … Full article
Americans need to learn what is really going on both at home and abroad
By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • January 17, 2017
… Partially reporting straightforward stories for politically correct reasons is in my mind equivalent to the fake news that everyone has been lamenting. The general perception that the news is slanted or manipulated has fed the lack of trust in the veracity of what is being reported and is a major contributor to the decline in newspaper readership. The Post, which also recently featured largely phony major stories about alternative news sites being tools of Russia as well as a wildly inflated tale about Russian hacking a utility in Vermont, is particularly much given to making up its coverage as it goes along. Every page in the news section is in reality an editorial as the paper assiduously mixes fact with fiction together with a heavy dose of opinion. It is Orwellian newspeak at its finest. … Read full article
RT | January 17, 2017
The reenactment of the refugee plight is a popular event at the Davos forum. How about a popular event of being in a place where your houses is bombed, and your mother and father are killed, asked Gerald Celente, publisher, The Trends Journal. … continue
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