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Trump’s Misuse of Intelligence on Iran

Consortium News | December 16, 2017

Bowing to Israeli-Saudi desires, the Trump administration is abusing the U.S. intelligence process to whip up a war fever against Iran, much like George W. Bush did on Iraq, reports ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar. – Read article

Bogus Wiretap Charges Brought Against Man Who Recorded Cops Costs NH Taxpayers $275,000

By Tim Cushing | TechDirt | December 13, 2017

… The $275,000 settlement will hopefully help Valentin piece back together a life law enforcement officers vindictively destroyed. Following his arrest, Valentin lost his job of eleven years and has spent the past two years trying — and failing — to restart his career. Having a felony arrest on his record doesn’t help, even if charges were ultimately dropped.

New Hampshire’s wiretapping statute still stands. The state requires two-party consent for recordings. But, as has been pointed out by courts previously, the state’s statute does not apply to recording public servants like police officers performing their duties in public. The state’s Attorney General made this explicitly clear in the wake of the First Circuit Appeals Court’s Glik decision. A memo [PDF] clarifying the right to record police was sent to law enforcement agencies in 2012, so the officers here — and the prosecutor who chose to continue pressing charges — had no excuse for their actions. In the process, they cost an innocent person his job and derailed his life for the better part of two years. And in the end, they’ll have the bill covered by New Hampshire taxpayers and a signed agreement saying they did nothing wrong. – Full article

Inmate deaths reveal “torturous” use of Tasers

By PETER EISLER, JASON SZEP and CHARLES LEVINSON | Reuters | December 6, 2017

Part 6: Reuters documents 104 prisoner fatalities after corrections officers deployed Tasers, often with other force. Most inmates were unarmed, and many were handcuffed or pinned to the ground. Some abuses, experts say, are akin to torture. … continue

Yemeni Forces Retaliate for Saudi Massacres: Fire Ballistic Missile on Jizan

Al-Manar | December 16, 2017

Rocketry Force of the Yemeni Army and Popular Committees fired a ballistic missile on headquarters of Saudi Command south of Jizan early on Saturday, a few hours after Saudi-led aggression committed three massacres, killing dozens of Yemenis.

A military source in the Rocketry Force said the missile, dubbed as M2, accurately hit its target in the headquarters of the Saudi Command, inflicting losses upon the Saudi-led forces stationed in Jizan.

The source said the missile launch was in retaliation for massacres committed by Saudi-led warplanes earlier on Friday.

At least 54 Yemenis were martyred in three massacres across Yemen on Friday.

21 were martyred in a Saudi-led airstrike in Hodeida’s Mazarha town, local sources reported, noting that most of the martyrs were women and children of three families.

Elsewhere in Saada’s Manbeh governorate, Saudi-led warplanes hit Al Sheikh market, killing 23 people and injuring 4 others.

Meanwhile in Taez, the Saudi-led aggression committed another massacre in Najibeya market in Moze governorate, killing 8 people and injuring 15 others.

‘No Evidence’ Russia Threatens Undersea Cables Despite UK Defense Chief’s Claims

Sputnik | December 15, 2017

The chief of the UK defense staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, has said NATO needs to protect its undersea cables from attack by Russia. Sputnik spoke to Steffan Watkins, a Canadian-based open-source intelligence analyst who monitors military naval movements, who said there was no evidence Russia planned any hostile action.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach said the UK economy would be “immediately and potentially catastrophically” hit if one of the many undersea cables linking Britain to the rest of the world were disrupted.

The cables, which lie on the ocean floor, ensure communications flow freely to and from the UK.

Sir Stuart pointed the finger directly at Moscow, claiming they were probably plotting to damage the undersea cables.

​Steffan Watkins, a Canadian-based open-source intelligence analyst who monitors military naval movements, said undersea cables were the backbone of the worldwide telecom infrastructure and there were also unmarked military communications cables.

“Sabotage of the world’s undersea telecom infrastructure is not a threat specific to Russia, yet it is being treated as such in the Western media, due to statements leaked by anonymous Pentagon officials in 2015. There has been no evidence provided by any government or non-government agency that shows Russia is planning on cutting any cables, other than anonymous Pentagon officials leaking those accusations to the media, conveniently right before requesting more money, from the Senate Armed Services Committee,” Mr. Watkins told Sputnik. … continue

Protecting the Shaky Russia-gate Narrative

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | December 15, 2017

If Russia-gate is the massive scandal that we are told it is by so many Important People — across the U.S. mainstream media and the political world — why do its proponents have to resort to lies and exaggerations to maintain the pillars supporting the narrative? … continue

Emails: Disney annoyed by Obama push to use ‘Frozen’ brand

By Timothy Cama – The Hill – 12/12/17

Emails unearthed by The Hill show Disney’s leadership was frustrated and annoyed by an Obama administration official’s public statements suggesting it was considering using characters in the popular film “Frozen” to teach children about climate change.

Robert Papp, a State Department official, spoke twice in 2015 about the possibility of Disney agreeing to let the department use Olaf the snowman and other characters from the film as part of an effort to warn about the dangers of global warming.

Disney officials felt they had previously closed the discussion at a meeting in the fall of 2014 with Papp, the State Department’s envoy for the Arctic.

“We felt Admiral Papp misrepresented the informational meeting that was held at Disney in October of last year,” a Disney employee wrote to State, according to documents obtained by The Hill through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The name of the Disney official writing the email has been redacted, though Paul Baribault, the senior vice president of marketing for Disney, had met with Papp in November 2014. Other emails in the chain obtained by The Hill are signed by a “Paul.”

“It is frustrating to see these types of comments continue,” the Disney employee wrote to Erin Robertson, a State public affairs officer who worked for Papp, in the March 12, 2015, email.

Robertson emailed back to the Disney official that a reporter at a Washington, D.C., event had asked about the issue. Robertson said the question “put the Admiral on the spot” and “it would have been very difficult for him to avoid answering.”

The Disney employee then reiterated the company’s dissatisfaction.

“It’s too bad he felt the need to say that he’s continuing discussions with Disney when that simply hasn’t been the case,” the employee said, adding that what he said “is a mischaracterization of the situation” and “happens to be untrue.”

The Disney employee asked that Papp clarify the issue if he’s asked again.

Papp’s outreach generated extensive media coverage at the time and attracted mockery and criticism from conservatives who already thought then-President Obama’s climate agenda had gone too far.

The effort to use “Frozen” for climate messaging was part of an extensive plan by the Obama administration to convince Americans and the world that climate change is a major issue with enormous consequences. … Full article

Google’s true origin partly lies in CIA and NSA research grants for mass surveillance

By Jeff Nesbit, Former director of legislative and public affairs, National Science Foundation | Quartz | December 8, 2017

Two decades ago, the US intelligence community worked closely with Silicon Valley in an effort to track citizens in cyberspace. And Google is at the heart of that origin story. Some of the research that led to Google’s ambitious creation was funded and coordinated by a research group established by the intelligence community to find ways to track individuals and groups online.

The intelligence community hoped that the nation’s leading computer scientists could take non-classified information and user data, combine it with what would become known as the internet, and begin to create for-profit, commercial enterprises to suit the needs of both the intelligence community and the public. They hoped to direct the supercomputing revolution from the start in order to make sense of what millions of human beings did inside this digital information network. That collaboration has made a comprehensive public-private mass surveillance state possible today.

The story of the deliberate creation of the modern mass-surveillance state includes elements of Google’s surprising, and largely unknown, origin. It is a somewhat different creation story than the one the public has heard, and explains what Google cofounders Sergey Brin and Larry Page set out to build, and why. … continue

Saudi warplanes kill more than 50 people in Yemen

Press TV – December 15, 2017

More than 50 Yemeni people have been killed in airstrikes by Saudi warplanes on the impoverished country of Yemen, reports said Friday.

Yemen’s al-Masirah television network said the Saudi warplanes bombed a market in the Mawza district in the west of Ta’izz province on Friday. According to a preliminary count, the airstrike left eight people dead and 15 others injured.

At least 15 people also lost their lives in Saudi air raids on the northern province of Sa’ada. According to al-Masirah, 12 of the victims were killed in two airstrikes that hit a market and a car in the Munabbih district. The three other victims, including two women, were killed in earlier air raids on the districts of al-Dhaher and Shada. The aerial attacks also left five people injured in the northern province.

Medics and security sources also reported on Friday that Saudi air raids claimed the lives of 28 people around Yemen’s west coast.

Security sources said Saudi warplanes pounded five towns around 70 kilometers (45 miles) south of Hudaydah on Thursday and Friday. Some 17 people were injured in the attacks. … Full article

Israeli soldiers shoot incapacitated Palestinian after alleged stabbing attempt

Ma’an – December 15, 2017

RAMALLAH – A Palestinian youth was critically injured on Friday after being shot multiple times with live ammunition by Israeli forces in the central occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.

The young Palestinian man, whose identity remained unknown, reportedly attempted to stab an Israeli soldier with a knife, lightly injuring the soldier.

Video from Hayat TV shows Israeli soldiers firing two shots at the youth, causing him to fall to the ground.

Despite the Palestinian being clearly incapacitated, Israeli soldiers continued to fire at him, hitting him with at least one more bullet.

According to witnesses, Israeli soldiers continued firing around the young man in an attempt to prevent medics from reaching him. … video

4 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in clashes over Trump decision on Jerusalem

Ma’an – December 15, 2017

BETHLEHEM – Four Palestinians have been declared dead by the Palestinian Health Ministry in the West Bank and Gaza, after a day of violent clashes with Israeli forces on Friday across the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, and besieged Gaza Strip.

The ministry reported that 18-year-old Muhammad Amin Aqel al-Adam succumbed to his wounds on Friday evening after he was shot multiple times by Israeli forces in the central West Bank town of al-Bireh, after an alleged stabbing attempt against soldiers.

Al-Adam was a resident of the town of Beit Ula in the western Hebron district of the southern West Bank

In the Jerusalem area town of Anata, in the central West Bank, 29-year-old Bassel Mustafa Muhammad Ibrahim succumbed to his wounds shortly after being shot in the chest by Israeli forces during clashes in the town.

In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces killed two Palestinians and injured hundreds others during clashes that broke out along the border between the besieged coastal enclave and Israel.

Yassir Sokhar, 31, a resident of the al-Shujaiyya neighborhood of eastern Gaza City was shot during clashes and declared dead by the ministry of health in Gaza.

The fourth slain Palestinian was identified by the ministry as Ibrahim Abu Thurayya, 29, who was shot in the head during clashes.

Tributes to Abu Thurayya — who was wheelchair-ridden after losing both his legs during Israel’s offensive on the Gaza Strip in 2008 — popped up across social media, as Palestinians widely circulated a video of him calling on Palestinians to protest against US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. … continue

The Scary Void Inside Russia-gate

Consortium News | December 15, 2017

Despite a lack of evidence at its core – and the risk of nuclear conflagration as its by-product – Russia-gate remains the go-to accusation for “getting” the Trump administration, explains Russia scholar Stephen F. Cohen. – Read article

Deconstructing the Almighty Russian Hackers Myth

By Patrick ARMSTRONG | Strategic Culture Foundation | 15.12.2017

Sometimes things can be made more complicated than they really are. And such is the case with the story that the Russian government hacked the Democratic National Committee so as to help Trump become president.

In July 2016 Wikileaks released a number of documents showing that the nomination of Hillary Clinton as the Democratic candidate for president had been rigged. A month earlier the DNC had announced it had been “hacked” and the cybersecurity company it hired announced that the Russians had done it – one of the reasons they gave was that the hackers had helpfully left the name of the Polish founder of the Soviet security forces as a clue.

Since then, this story has been broadly accepted and it has spun on and on for eighteen months. But it doesn’t really make any sense. … continue

Moscow senses Trump’s travails could be ending

By M.K. Bhadrakumar | Asia Times | December 15, 2017

The ongoing investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Special Counsel Robert Mueller over Russia’s alleged interference in the US election is sputtering. The role of the FBI and the Justice Department in boosting Hillary Clinton’s election prospects last November can no longer be shoved under the carpet.

The email correspondence between top FBI agent Peter Strzok and a bureau lawyer Lisa Page, who were working on the 2016 election (besides having an extramarital affair), suggests that they were fired up with messianic zeal to ensure that somehow Hillary won – and, importantly, that Trump lost. And they probably had ‘in-house’ meetings with then-No. 2 in the FBI Andrew McCabe, presently acting director, who subsequently handpicked Mueller as special counsel.

The same folks appear to have used the alibi of the infamous anti-Trump “dossier” compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele (which was commissioned by the Clinton campaign) to obtain a warrant in mid-2016 from a secret federal court to conduct surveillance of a Trump-campaign official – although the FBI dismissed Steele’s work as “salacious and unverified” in congressional testimony.

The Clinton campaign research project (Steel’s ‘dossier’) involved a Russia analyst who’s the wife of the Obama Justice Department’s associate deputy attorney general. Serious questions arise regarding the role of the Obama FBI and Obama Justice Department – gross misuse of official machinery to boost Hillary’s campaign. Yet, Mueller seems unperturbed that this unsavory aspect is inextricably linked to the alleged Russian interference. … continue

US House passes bill scrutinizing Iran plane sales

Press TV – December 15, 2017

US lawmakers on Thursday approved a bill that will bring the sales of American planes to Iran under the close scrutiny of the Congress.

The bill passed 252-167 — all but four Republicans supported it, and they were joined by 23 Democrats.

It would require the Treasury Department to report to Congress on Iranian purchases of US aircraft and how those sales would be financed.

The key company that would be the primary target of the bill would be US aviation giant Boeing. In December 2016, Boeing sealed deals with Iran’s flag-carrier airliner Iran Air over sales of 80 jets valued at $16.6 billion. They include 50 narrow-body Boeing 737 passenger jets and 30 wide-body 777 aircraft.

US media reported that the new Congress bill had once again brought into the spotlight the question whether undermining plane sales to Iran would break US commitments under the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). … continue

Al-Houthi Hits back at US Claims on Iran Missile Supply

Al-Manar | December 15, 2017

Head of Yemen’s revolutionary Committee, Mohammad Ali Al-Houthi hit back at US claims that Iran had been supplying Yemeni revolutionaries with missiles.

“Had we imported Iranian missiles, then we would have boosted our air-defense system,” Al-Houthi said on his Twitter account.

“What’s ironic is that the US is the side who is supplying the Saudi-led aggression with banned weapons that have been killing the Yemeni people,” Al-Houthi said, stressing that the US has failed in Yemen. … Full article

Food and medicine can’t get past the Saudi blockade on Yemen, but Nikki Haley thinks missiles can

Nikki Haley once again pushing for war against Iran–this time making an argument that is not only flawed but nonsensical

By Adam Garrie | The Duran | December 15, 2017

Nikki Haley, Donald Trump’s Ambassador to the United Nations, has given an extraordinary “press conference”, even by her habitually outrageous standards.

First all, it was hardly a “press conference” as Haley did not answer any of the questions posed to her. Instead, she merely assured journalists that she has evidence to back her up position, although it is not clear what this evidence might look like.

Haley’s position is that since the outbreak of the current crisis in Yemen, beginning in March of 2015, Iran has been supplying Yemen’s Ansar Allah Movement, more commonly known [in western media] as the Houthis, with the missiles they have sporadically used to target Saudi Arabia and allegedly the UAE.

There is a fatal flaw in this line of thinking however. Saudi Arabia has, since the beginning of the conflict, controlled all air and sea traffic coming into Yemen, while monitoring the region with the latest US made technology.

Yemen has subsequently been surrounded by a Saudi Naval blockade, Saudi borders through which nothing can pass and Omani borders through which there is no evidence of anything passing and which in any case, border areas which do not belong to Ansar Allah fighters, but instead have fluctuated between the Hadi government based in Aden, al-Qaeda terrorists and ISIS terrorists. … continue

Saudi Arabia & ‘their Western handlers’ behind Syria peace talks failure – Damascus envoy

RT | December 15, 2017

The ultimatum that President Bashar Assad must go if there is to be peace in Syria, drawn up by the anti-Assad opposition backed by Saudi Arabia and the West, derailed the latest peace talks in Geneva, Damascus’s envoy to the negotiations has said.

The eighth round of Syria peace negotiations in Geneva has ended in failure, after Damascus officials refused to engage in direct talks with the opposition, which continues to demand the removal of President Bashar Assad as a precondition for ending the six-year conflict.

“The Riyadh 2 Communique is a blackmail of the Geneva process,” Syrian government negotiator Bashar Ja’afari told the media, referring to a document adopted during a Syrian opposition summit in the Saudi capital last month. As a result of the conference, attended by 140 participants and backers in the conflict, a communique was adopted insisting that the Syrian president must leave at the start of any transition period following the cessation of hostilities. The conflict has taken more than 400,000 lives.

“Those who drew up the Riyadh 2 statement were the ones who sabotaged this round. I mean by that the other side. I mean the Saudis and the Saudi handlers themselves who are the Western countries. They do not want the Geneva process to succeed.”

Ja’afari insisted that the proposal contradicted previous UN resolutions, and said that outside forces wanted to turn Syria into “another Libya or Iraq.” … continue

Biden was wrong: Intel agencies find no evidence of ‘Russian meddling’ in Italian polls

RT | December 14, 2017

Italian intelligence services did not find evidence to back up allegations voiced by former US Vice President Joe Biden. He claimed Moscow had meddled with Italy’s polls before and plans to do it again.

Two Italian intelligence agencies did not find any evidence of the alleged Russian interference into last year’s constitutional reform referendum, despite conducting “attentive monitoring” of possible foreign meddling, ANSA news agency reported. The chiefs of the Internal Information and Security Agency (AISI) and the External Intelligence and Security Agency (AISE), Mario Parente and Alberto Manenti, respectively, faced the parliamentary intelligence committee this week.

The parliamentary hearings were triggered by an article by Biden, dubbed, “How to stand up to the Kremlin,” published earlier in December by the journal Foreign Affairs. Among the numerous accusations, largely repeating the mainstream media “Russian meddling” narrative, Biden claimed that Moscow interfered in the Italian Constitutional referendum and warned about alleged meddling in the country’s upcoming parliamentary elections. … continue

Why America’s Law Enforcement Empire Resembles Secret Police in a Dictatorship

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 14.12.2017

Secret police are characteristic of dictatorships, or so goes the conventional thinking on the subject. Police in democracies operate for the most part transparently and within a set of rules and guidelines that limits their ability to gratuitously punish citizens who have done nothing wrong. If a policeman operating under rule-of-law steps out of line, he can be held accountable. That is also conventional thinking.

But what happens when an ostensibly “democratic” police force becomes corrupted and starts doing things that are outside its zone of responsibility, and does so to benefit a political relationship that will in turn protect those who have broken the law under cover of carrying out their official duties? That is the characteristic of what we have been calling a “deep state,” where forces drawn generally from the political class and security services conspire together to control what the public is allowed to know while also manipulating nuisances like elections to make sure that the “correct” outcome emerges. … continue

US F-22 was hampering Russian Su-25 jets to provide cover for aid convoy – MoD

RT | December 14, 2017

The Russian Defense Ministry has said that an F-22 got close to a pair of Su-25 jets, hampering them from escorting a humanitarian aid convoy. It dismissed reports of the Russian jets being “intercepted.”

The incident took place Wednesday in the vicinity of the Syrian town of Mayadin, when a pair of Su-25 close air support jets were escorting a humanitarian aid convoy, the Russian Defense Ministry said. A US F-22 stealth fighter came from across the Euphrates river and approached the aircraft, firing flare decoys in front of them.

A Su-35 fighter jet, which provided cover for the Russian planes, “rapidly approached” the F-22 from the rear and the US warplane left the area afterward, the ministry added.

The ministry stressed that the incident occurred above the western bank of the Euphrates River, dismissing media reports that the Russian planes were allegedly operating over the eastern bank. … Full article

Fresh Saudi airstrikes leave dozen more civilians dead in SW Yemen

Press TV – December 14, 2017

At least a dozen people have lost their lives in a fresh Saudi airstrike against a civilian target in Yemen’s southwestern province of Ta’izz as the Riyadh regime presses ahead with its devastating aerial campaign against its crisis-stricken southern neighbor.

Local sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Arabic-language al-Masirah television network that the Saudi military aircraft on Thursday struck a bridge linking the al-Barh area of Maqbanah district to Hees town, killing four people.

Eight more lost their lives when Saudi jets targeted a civilian car in another part of the province, situated 260 kilometers south of the capital Sana’a.

Earlier in the day, Saudi warplanes bombarded residential neighborhoods in the Ghamar district of Yemen’s mountainous northwestern province of Sa’ada, killing eight people. Two women, a child and three paramedics were among those killed.

Three civilians were also killed when Saudi fighter jets carried out three aerial attacks against al-Ghad area in the Razih district of the same Yemeni province.

Separately, Saudi warplanes conducted four aerial assaults against the Sawar al-Afsal area of Razih district, though no reports of casualties were immediately available. … Full article

US allegations on Yemen missile ‘provocative’, ‘destructive’: Iran

Press TV – December 14, 2017

Iran’s UN mission has categorically dismissed as “unfounded” US Ambassador Nikki Haley’s claim that a missile fired at Saudi Arabia from Yemen last month was supplied by the Islamic Republic.

In a statement released on Thursday, the mission denounced the US allegations as “irresponsible, provocative and destructive,” saying “this purported evidence … is as much fabricated as the one presented on some other occasions earlier.”

“These accusations seek also to cover up for the Saudi war crimes in Yemen, with the US complicity, and divert international and regional attention from the stalemate war of aggression against the Yemenis that has so far killed more than 10,000 civilians, displaced three million, crippled Yemen’s infrastructure and health system and pushed the country to the brink of the largest famine the world has seen for decades, as the UN has warned,” the statement read.

It went on to accuse the US government of being “constantly at work to deceive the public into believing the cases they put together” to advance its agenda.

“While Iran has not supplied Yemen with missiles, these hyperboles are also to serve other US agendas in the Middle East, including covering up for its adventurist acts in the region and its unbridled support for the Israeli regime,” the statement read.

It also stressed “the Yemenis’ right to self-defense” and reiterated that the conflict in the impoverished country had no military solution. … continue

Haneyya: Three means to thwart Trump’s decision over Jerusalem

Palestine Information Center – December 14, 2017

GAZA – The head of the Political Bureau of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) Ismail Haneyya has outlined three means to confront Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and topple ‘the deal of the century’, stressing that the Palestinian people, Hamas, and the resistance will work to achieve this objective on the ground.

In a speech during celebrations marking the 30th Hamas founding anniversary in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, Haneyya stressed that his Movement is now working on two parallel goals: to thwart both the Trump decision and ‘the deal of the century’.

He added, “We will work to force the US administration to retreat from its unjust decision, our goal is to break the US position and annul the Trump decision once and for all.”

He praised the Palestinian people in Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, and in the refugee camps and the diaspora. He saluted the people of all nations from Indonesia to Morocco and all the free people who responded to the call and rose for the sake of Jerusalem. … continue

Appropriation of Jerusalem

By Liaquat Ali Khan | CounterPunch | December 14, 2017

In recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a state formed by native Jews and Jewish settlers from Europe and America, President Trump and the U.S. Congress have validated the Jewish appropriation of a disputed city. This commentary explains the foul dynamics of settlements. It also illuminates the “sacred” justifications offered to legitimize settler colonialism. In addition to Israel, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and many other states, owe their origin to settler colonialism, another name for forcibly taking land from indigenous inhabitants. The criticism of settler colonialism is highly sophisticated in academic circles, college colonialism courses, this year mystifyingly trickling down in high school debates.

An unholy alliance of Zionists, evangelical Christians, politicians fearful of the revengeful Israeli lobbies, radio and TV commentators, Neocon opinion-writers, and self-aggrandizing academics refuses to see Israel as a settler state. In fact, calling Israel a settler state is condemned as anti-Semitic, a handy label swiftly invoked to stop honest conversations about the grinding appropriation of Palestinian occupied territories.

Given the successful drive to criminalize holocaust denials across Europe, efforts are underway to find pathways to criminalize the criticisms of Israel. The prospective criminalization of the BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) movement is a shameful suppression of legitimate free speech in no other country but the United States where the First Amendment reigns as the first principle of coexistence. Muffling free speech is unlikely to suppress the fact that Israel is primarily a state of settlers who have brutally suffocated and dislocated the native population of Palestinians. … continue

Lavishing Money on the Pentagon

By Jonathan Marshall | Consortium News | December 14, 2017

Wise parents who celebrate Christmas advise their young children not to make unreasonably grandiose requests of Santa. After all, he has to squeeze down a rather narrow chimney to deliver their presents.

But as Christmas approaches this year, leaders of Congress, the Pentagon, and the Trump White House seem to have forgotten that lesson. Their wish list for the U.S. military, if taken seriously, will bust the federal budget at the very time Republicans are ramming through tax legislation that will shrink Uncle Sam’s savings account by more than a trillion dollars over the next decade.

President Trump this week signed into law a $700 billion blueprint for military spending in the current fiscal year. The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act includes funding for more troops, more weapons, more interventions abroad, and more active wars, with Trump’s enthusiastic blessing. “We need our military,” he declared at a White House signing ceremony.

In addition to lavish spending on new weapons — like $10 billion for purchases of the disastrous F-35 Joint Strike Fighter — this Christmas legislation for the military includes all sorts of smaller presents, including billions of dollars to fund NATO’s European Deterrence Initiative (whatever happened to Trump’s demand that our allies pay for their own defense?), missile defense systems of doubtful efficacy, and development of a new cruise missile that would violate the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty with Russia.

The bill also earmarks $350 million for military aid to Ukraine, including lethal weaponry — a highly provocative measure that Arizona Senator John McCain has long promoted. Independent analysts, including prominent conservative foreign policy experts, warn that such lethal aid would be destabilizing, provocative, and “extraordinarily foolish.” … continue

Yemen, Afghanistan in focus as landmine casualties spike

Press TV – December 14, 2017

Landmines killed 8,605 people in several countries in 2016, despite an international ban on the deadly device, a monitoring group says.

According to the annual report released Thursday by Landmine Monitor, about three-quarters of the known casualties were civilians, including more than 1,000 children who were injured and nearly 500 who were killed.

The number of the casualties — which were mostly recorded in Afghanistan, Libya, Ukraine and Yemen — showed a 30% surge compared to 2015.

“A few intense conflicts, where utter disregard for civilian safety persists, have resulted in very high numbers of mine casualties for the second year in a row,” Loren Persi, an editor of the Landmine Monitor said.

Persi described the spike as “alarming”, adding that the true number of the victims would be significantly higher if the data gathering were complete.

The surge comes after a 18-year decline in landmine casualties since the Mine Ban Treaty first came into force in 1999. … Full article

US-led coalition securing Daesh terrorists, targeting civilians: Syria

Press TV – December 14, 2017

Syria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates has censured the US-led coalition purportedly fighting the Daesh terrorist group, saying the military alliance is indeed targeting civilian facilities and providing the extremists with cover.

In two separate letters addressed to United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the rotating president of the UN Security Council, Koro Bessho, on Thursday, the ministry stated that the US-led coalition has been pretending to fight Daesh, but it has, in fact, been transporting the terrorists from one part of Syria to another and securing them.

The letters further noted that Daesh terrorists have been purged from most regions in Syria only through counter-terrorism operations conducted by government troops and allied fighters from popular defense groups.

They also criticized the so-called advocates of human rights and rule of law for turning a blind eye to the atrocities the US-led coalition is perpetrating in Raqqah and Dayr al-Zawr provinces.

Syria’s official news agency, SANA, reported on Thursday that US-led air raids had claimed the lives of at least 23 civilians, mostly children and women, in the al-Jurze Sharqi village of Dayr al-Zawr province the previous evening. … continue

Turkey reclaims Muslim leadership

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | December 13, 2017

The Istanbul Declaration of the Organization of Islamic Conference declaring East Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Palestine is a landmark event. The Turkish initiative to convene an extraordinary summit in Istanbul today targeted such an outcome. The summit was well attended, although convened at short notice.

A notable absentee was King Salman of Saudi Arabia. The Saudi minister for religious affairs apparently represented his country. On Tuesday, Turkey openly taunted Saudi Arabia. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said, “Some Arab countries have shown very weak responses (on Jerusalem). It seems some countries are very timid of the United States.” He added that Saudi Arabia had yet to say how it would participate. … continue

Turkey switches to full defiance of US, continues Putin courtship

By M.K. Bhadrakumar | Asia Times | December 14, 2017

On Monday, US National Security Advisor HR McMaster added to tensions in the Middle East when he condemned Turkey and Qatar as prime sponsors of extremist Islamist ideology.

He tore into the Turkish leadership, saying the country’s growing problems with the West are largely due to the rise of the Justice and Development Party in Ankara.

A few days ago, McMaster had described China and Russia as “revisionist powers” encroaching on US allies and undermining the international order, and castigated Iran and North Korea as outlaw regimes that “support terror and are seeking weapons of mass destruction.”

McMaster now rounds on Turkey and Qatar for mentoring a radical Islamist ideology that “is obviously a grave threat to all civilized people.” The stunning part is that Turkey is a NATO ally, while the US Central Command is headquartered in Qatar. … continue

Kiev hails US & Canada for greenlighting lethal arms supplies that could kill Ukraine peace process

RT | December 14, 2017

By including Ukraine on the list of countries approved for lethal weapons sales, Canada has become a side in a bloody civil war, undermining a shaky peace process, a senior Russian senator said, as Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko applauded the move.

Poroshenko praised the US and Canadian governments for stepping up military cooperation with Ukraine, which could lead to lethal weapons from both countries being supplied to the Ukrainian army, embroiled in a long-running civil conflict with rebel militias from breakaway eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Lugansk Republics.

“As it was agreed, the United States authorized security assistance for our country and Canada included Ukraine into the Automatic Firearms Country Control List. The door to enhanced defense assistance for Ukraine has been opened,” Poroshenko wrote on Facebook, as US President Donald Trump signed a new Pentagon funding bill and the government in Ottawa revealed its decision to greenlight the export of “certain prohibited firearms, weapons and devices” to Ukraine by including it into its list.

Unlike the Pentagon bill, Canada’s decision sets no preconditions for selling the armaments to Ukraine. … continue

Russia Offered to US to Exchange Non-Interference Letters, US Refused – Moscow

Sputnik – 13.12.2017

Russia has proposed to the United States to exchange letters on non-interference in each other’s affairs, but Washington refused, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Wednesday.

According to Maria Zakharova, Russia did not invent anything new, “this is not some kind of revolutionary proposal or some kind of innovation.” She noted that such a principle had already been fixed during the restoration of diplomatic relations between the two countries on November 16, 1933, at the insistent request of the Americans themselves.

“Washington’s refusal to consider such an offer now once again shows the absolute fakeness of the campaign for accusing Russia of some interference in last year’s elections in the United States,” she added.

Russia has repeatedly denied the accusations of the US special services in trying to influence the elections in the United States, and Dmitry Peskov, the presidential press secretary, called them “absolutely unsubstantiated.”

The Foundering Russia-gate ‘Scandal’

Consortium News | December 13, 2017

Taking on water from revealed FBI conflicts of interest, the foundering Russia-gate probe – and its mainstream media promoters – are resorting to insults against people who note the listing ship, writes Robert Parry. – Read article

Western leaders misled Gorbachev with promises that NATO wouldn’t expand – released archives

In 1990, Western politicians repeatedly assured Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO wouldn’t expand east of Germany’s borders, but broke that promise less than a decade later, say insider archives from both sides of negotiations following the dismantling of the Berlin Wall.

Researchers from the respected George Washington University-based National Security Archive, which specializes in obtaining key declassified information from the government, have put together 30 crucial documents that clearly show several top Western officials vowing to Gorbachev in unison that NATO would not expand eastward. Some of these have been publicly available for several years, others have been revealed as a result of Freedom of Information requests for the study. […]

Nonetheless NATO and top Western officials have continued to claim that there was no promise. None of the assurances of non-expansion were included in any treaty documents, which means they were just that – words.

“NATO allies take decisions by consensus and these are recorded. There is no record of any such decision having been taken by NATO. Personal assurances, from NATO leaders, cannot replace alliance consensus and do not constitute a formal NATO agreement,” the alliance said in its official explainer on its website.

Robert Zoellick, a key negotiator during the reunification talks, has also spoken of the promise as a “misperception,” while former US ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul has labeled the idea of a reneged promise a “myth” in an interview given last year.

But the weight of evidence now uncovered suggests that these stances are disingenuous at best and duplicitous at worst. – Read full article

The Litvinenko inquiry – a legal critique and alternative view

OffGuardian | December 12, 2017

The death in London of Russian ex-patriot Alexander Litvinenko, allegedly through polonium poisoning, has become a major part of the anti-Russian, anti-Putin narrative in the West. The story told to us by the likes of the Guardian, New York Times, WaPo etc, is that Litvinenko, an ex-“KGB spy”, was assassinated by the Russian FSB as a revenge attack for his anti-Putin rhetoric. This version of events has been so relentlessly pushed at us in articles, documentaries, books, even light entertainment that many many people, even sophisticated and politically aware individuals, accept this as established fact. Worse, this “proven” example of grisly ruthlessness is regularly used as a rationale for alleging further crimes of the Russian state, including its supposed support of a “mass-murderer” in Syria. People are being conditioned to reflexively accept and internalise the image of Russia and its president as lawless, corrupt and gothically evil, and the Litvinenko case is a keystone of this image. For this reason we think it’s worth taking another look at this infamous story, to examine the reality behind the memes and headlines.

The following detailed analysis of the Inquiry by Alexander Mercouris, a lawyer who practiced for 12 years at the Royal Courts of Justice, brings a much needed rational perspective to this case and focuses on the story of a travesty of British justice. … continue

Elderly Palestinian woman dies of heart attack during Israeli raid on her home

Ma’an – December 13, 2017

JERICHO – A 60-year-old Palestinian woman suffered a fatal heart attack overnight between Tuesday and Wednesday when Israeli army soldiers raided her home in the village of al-Zubeidat, north of Jericho in the northeastern occupied West Bank.

Official Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency reported that Hamda Zubeidat, 60, suffered a heart attack after Israeli soldiers threw a stun grenade at her house during a raid on the town.

Despite efforts to revive her, Wafa reported, Zubeidat died shortly after.

“The soldiers raided the village after midnight, causing panic and fear among residents, throwing stun grenades at homes,” Wafa reported, adding that “no reason was given for the raid.” … Full article

Israeli authorities demolish house in 1948 occupied Palestine

Palestine Information Center – December 13, 2017

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM – Israeli bulldozers demolished a Palestinian house in Zemer town in the northern 1948 occupied Palestine on Wednesday.

Palestinian sources reported that the Israeli bulldozers, accompanied by a military force, invaded Zemer town and demolished a house under construction on privately owned Palestinian land without prior notice for allegedly lacking necessary legal licenses.

Tension prevailed following the demolition operation as Zemer residents rallied to express their rejection of the Israeli practices aimed at uprooting them from their lands. … Full article

70% of Palestinians want Abbas to resign immediately

MEMO | December 13, 2017

Some 70 per cent of Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip want President Mahmoud Abbas to resign immediately, according to a new poll by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research conducted 7-10 December.

The poll, conducted in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) in the immediate aftermath of US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, makes grim reading for Abbas, with those demanding his resignation up three points from September.

Abbas’ net satisfaction rating, meanwhile, has dropped one point to minus 35, with just 31 per cent satisfied with his performance, compared to 66 per cent who are dissatisfied.

When asked about who should succeed Abbas, 35 per cent expressed a preference for Marwan Barghouthi, 22 per cent would vote for Ismail Haniyeh, while Mohammad Dahlan attracted the support of just seven per cent of Palestinians (15 per cent in Gaza and one per cent in the West Bank). … continue

Marwan Barghouthi ordered to solitary confinement after statement on Intifada

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network – December 13, 2017

Marwan Barghouthi, member of the Fateh central committee and a prominent Palestinian national leader, was transferred by Israeli prison officials into solitary confinement at Hadarim prison, reported the campaign for his release on Tuesday, 12 December 2017.

The campaign said that “this decision to isolate him comes to prevent him from communicating with his people in the homeland and diaspora at a time when Palestine and the capitals and cities of the world are protesting widely against the decision of U.S. president Donald Trump to declare his country’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the Israeli occupation state. This decision to isolate is a form of retaliation for a statement issued by Marwan Barghouthi on the anniversary of the great popular intifada a few days ago.” The statement, issued from Hadarim prison, emphasized the rights of the Palestinian people to return, self-determination and their capital, Jerusalem, and urged the expansion of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and international solidarity with Palestine.

Barghouthi has been ordered to solitary confinement on 27 occasions and spent several years in solitary confinement in the past, especially after his imprisonment in April 2002. He was held in solitary confinement in April-May 2017 because of his role in leading a mass hunger strike for 51 days in Israeli prison; he has also been barred from visits by his wife, the lawyer Fadwa Barghouthi, until the end of 2019.

Recently, a French delegation to Palestine, including a number of mayors involved with the campaign to free Barghouthi, was told that its members would be denied access to Palestine for their role in supporting Palestinian prisoners and the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. The delegation sought to meet with Barghouthi in Hadarim prison.

Israel to raze Palestinian school in Occupied Jerusalem

Palestine Information Center – December 13, 2017

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM – Israeli teams of the so-called civil administration on Wednesday raided Abu Nuwar Bedouin neighborhood east of Occupied Jerusalem and handed over a demolition notice against a school in the area.

Quds Press quoted the spokesman of the Bedouin community, Abu Emad al-Jahalein, as saying that the inhabitants were shocked of the news especially after they had obtained a Supreme Court decision against the school demolition order.

He pointed out that the school consists of two floors and offers education services to 26 students.

Israeli authorities plan to expel the Bedouins from east Jerusalem for the sake of completing the E1 settlement project which aims at separating the southern West Bank from its northern part and accordingly have full control over Occupied Jerusalem.

Renowned South African university cuts ties with Israel

Palestine Information Center – December 13, 2017

PRETORIA – “The Council of the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) has resolved that TUT will not forge any ties with the State of Israel or any of its organizations and institutions,” TUT spokesman on the issue Professor Rasigan Maharajh told the African News Agency (ANA) during an interview on Wednesday.

A December 7 press release from TUT stated: “As a progressive university in a democratic South Africa, we want to affirm that TUT will not sign any agreements or enter into scientific partnerships until such time that Israel ends its illegal occupation of Palestinian territory.

“The university will not stand back and accept the violations of the Israeli government when it confines the movement of Palestinian children and youth on their own land and restricts their ability to access education through destroying their schools,” added the statement.

South African criticism of Israel is growing, the ANA pointed out.

One of the controversial issues to be discussed at the ANC’s forthcoming 54th National Conference in Gauteng, from December 16 to 20, is the possible downgrading, or even closure, of the South African Embassy in Tel Aviv. … continue

Army Injures 40 Students In Kadoorie University, Near Tulkarem

IMEMC News – December 13, 2017

Israeli soldiers shot, Tuesday, at least 40 Palestinians, after attacking students protesting in Palestine Technical University – Kadoorie, west of Tulkarem, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said the soldiers shot ten students with rubber-coated steel bullets, some of them in the head, and caused at least thirty others to suffer the severe effects of teargas inhalation.

It is worth mentioning that the army has a military base, which was built on lands illegally confiscated from the college.

The soldiers fired dozens of gas bombs, concussion grenades, and rubber-coated steel bullets at the students, while many hurled stones at them after attacking their procession.

The soldiers also attacked many reporters, and inspected their ID cards, before forcing them out of the area.

In related news, several army jeeps invaded, on Tuesday evening, Sebastia town, north of Nablus, and smashed the windows of tourist stores near an archaeological site, and threatened to shut them down permanently “should clashes continue in the area.”

What does Trump’s Jerusalem decision actually mean?

By Hassan Ben Imran | MEMO | December 13, 2017

“We cannot solve our problems by making the same failed assumptions and repeating the same failed strategies of the past… Israel is a sovereign nation with the right, like every other sovereign nation, to determine its own capital.” So said Donald Trump last week.

With such logical fallacies and ignorance of basic legal facts, as well as the fundamental principles of the UN Charter, the US President decided that it is time for a new “formula” and recognised “Jerusalem as the capital of Israel”. He overlooked the fact that Israel is far from being “like every other sovereign nation.”

No sovereign nation in modern times has ever declared independence following the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population; and no sovereign nation has broken international law concerning Jerusalem in order to annex it and claim the city as the eternal capital of the Jewish people. Trump would be totally correct in his assumption had he been talking about any ordinary sovereign nation, but certainly not Israel.

In 1967, Israel completed its occupation of Palestine, including East Jerusalem; it is still the occupying power. Everything that Israel does in the occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem, is done to make the occupation permanent. This colonialism peaked in 1980 when the Knesset (Israeli parliament) amended the Basic Law (5740 – 1980) to annex East Jerusalem and declare that “[t]he complete and united Jerusalem is the capital of Israel”.

With a sense of self-guilt, Israel worked hard to gain international recognition of its “new capital”. Knowing the grave legal and political consequences of such an ill-advised move, even its closest allies refused to acknowledge this “capital”. It was only in 1995 that the US Congress decided (or perhaps was made to decide) to recognise the Israeli annexation, although successive US Presidents have signed a six-monthly waiver to delay the implementation of the Congress decision. Israel had to wait until there was someone like Donald Trump in the White House to make the formal announcement. … continue

Zionism In The Light of Jerusalem

By Jim Kavanagh | The Polemicist | December 13, 2017

Donald Trump’s official recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is an embarrassment. A salutary embarrassment.

It’s a clumsy, all-too-obvious unmasking of decades of bipartisan U.S. policy whose contempt for Palestinians has been cloaked with a smile and a handshake.

As such, it’s an embarrassment for the Zionist political and media elite that prefers to operate behind smiles and handshakes, and not flaunt their power.

It’s an embarrassment to liberal Zionists and “peace process” promoters everywhere—in the American political parties and media, in European conservative and social democrat governments, and in Jewish Zionist organizations. For fifty years, they have laser-focused attention on the post-’67 “occupation,” and done all that they can [nothing concrete], in solidarity with the Israeli Jewish peace movement [dwindling to insignificance in an increasingly fascistic political culture], to end the occupation [ minimize its cost to the Jewish state, ‘cause “no concessions, no withdrawals, no Palestinian state” is already proclaimed Israeli policy ].

It’s an embarrassment to the Arab monarchs and the Palestinian Authority functionaries, who for decades have collaborated in the task of subduing Palestinian rage as Israel went about its colonizing project, holding out the promise that the good American Daddy and his kinder, gentler Israeli Jewish progeny would one day reward the Palestinians for their good behavior.

It’s an embarrassment to those liberals who want to portray Donald Trump as a uniquely evil interloper imposed on American politics by a foreign power, rather than understand him as the product of an American political culture that they helped to create while obtusely refusing to recognize what they were doing.

The only parties who are not embarrassed are the “hard”—that is, intellectually honest and consistent—Zionists in Israel and the United States (many liberal Democrats included) and Donald Trump himself, who is immune to embarrassment. … continue

“Regional Countries’ Attempts to Normalize Ties with Israel Prompted Trump Decision”

Al-Manar | December 13, 2017

Iranian President Hasan Rouhani lashed out at some regional countries on Wednesday, stressing that attempts by such states to normalize ties with Zionist regime prompted US President Donald Trump to recognize Al-Quds as Israeli capital.

Addressing an extraordinary OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) summit in Istanbul, Rouhani said the Islamic Republic is prepared to join hands with other Muslim countries and help defend the holy city of al-Quds (Jerusalem) against US-Israeli plots with no strings attached.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran stands ready to cooperate with each one of the Muslim countries to defend the holy Quds without any reservation or pre-condition,” Rouhani said on.

Representatives from 57 OIC members are attending the summit, which is meant to coordinate a response to a US decision to recognize Quds as Israeli capital. … Full article

OIC recognizes East Jerusalem al-Quds as Palestine’s capital

Press TV – December 13, 2017

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has invited all nations to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as the capital of Palestine, blasting the United States for disregarding Middle East peace by moving its Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to the occupied city.

The 57-member organization issued a communique at the end of an emergency summit on Wednesday, declaring that it would recognize “East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine and invite all countries to recognize the State of Palestine and East Jerusalem as its occupied capital.” […]

As the second-largest inter-governmental body after the United Nations, the OIC was established during a summit in Rabat, Morocco, in 1969, following an arson attack on the al-Aqsa Mosque in the occupied city. … Full article

Muslim leaders fail to deliver action plan on Jerusalem at OIC

MEMO | December 13, 2017

Some 57 Muslim leaders who gathered for the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul today failed to put forward a strategy with which to deal with the US designation of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Despite Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas labelling the conference “the most important and successful Summit to have taken place”, the world leaders departed having only repeated their condemnation of the announcement of US President Donald Trump last week. […]

However, many have panned the response from Arab and Muslim leaders as meaningless, given that no diplomatic ties with Israel or the US have been severed, despite continual rhetoric that Jerusalem is a “red line”. The OIC was also criticised for taking a week to hold the summit, after many days of Palestinian and global protest. … Full article

Red Cross says life has ‘stopped’ in Myanmar’s Rakhine

Press TV – December 13, 2017

The International Committee of the Red Cross says life has “stopped” in Rakhine state due to the fear of violence, nearly four months after a new wave of crackdown by the government erupted against the persecuted Rohingya Muslims.

The ICRC director of operations, Dominik Stillhart, said Wednesday that tensions between the Muslims and the dominant Buddhist community were preventing Muslim traders from reopening shops and markets.

“The situation in the northern Rakhine has definitely stabilized, there are very sporadic incidents, but tensions are huge between the communities,” Stillhart said after a three-day mission to the remote area. “You get a sense, especially of the two main communities being deeply scared of each other.”

He visited the towns of Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung in northern Rakhine, where the ICRC, the only aid agency operating in the violence-hit region, is providing food, water and other aid to 150,000 people.

Stillhart said the Red Cross hoped to reach all of the 180,000 Rohingya it estimated remained in the “politically-sensitive” region after more than 600,000 people fled to Bangladesh.

“You travel through the countryside and you really see on both sides of the road villages that are completely destroyed. It just gives you a bit of a sense of the scale of destruction. There is also this pervasive sense of absence.” … continue

Congress takes no action on Iran sanctions as deadline passes

Press TV – December 13, 2017

The US Congress misses a deadline to decide on re-imposing anti-Iran sanctions, which were lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal, with reports saying the lawmakers sought to kick the decision on the issue back to President Donald Trump.

On October 13, Trump refused to certify that the Islamic Republic was complying with the agreement, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), under a domestic US law and directed his administration “to work closely with Congress and our allies to address the deal’s many serious flaws.”

The US Congress was given until December 12 to decide whether to slap economic sanctions on Tehran anew. … continue

Yemen: Saudi Airstrikes Kill Dozens

teleSUR | December 13, 2017

Renewed Saudi airstrikes against Yemen, mainly in the capital city of Sana’a, have resulted in the deaths of dozens of people.

At least 39 people died and 90 others were left injured, Reuters reported. Yemen’s al-Masirah TV reported that at least 51 people died and 80 were left injured.

The airstrikes reportedly targeted Yemen’s military police headquarters in Sana’a’s Shu’ab district. Some of the casualties included prisoners detained at the facility awaiting investigation.

In a separate series of attacks, Saudi planes levelled Yemen’s northwestern district of Sahar. Four civilians were wounded, one of whom later died from injuries. Eleven people were also killed during airstrikes in Maqbanah District of the southwestern province of Ta’izz. … continue

US helicopter loses window mid-flight, injures 10yo boy in Japan

RT | December 13, 2017

A Japanese schoolboy has reportedly become the latest victim of the much-maligned US military presence in Okinawa. An American helicopter is said to have started falling apart directly above a schoolyard, resulting in injuries to the child.

On Wednesday morning, an angular object roughly 3ft (1 meter) across fell onto a sports field packed with elementary school children near the Futenma US military base in the Japanese prefecture of Okinawa. The object was discovered to be a helicopter window, complete with the frame, that had fallen off an American CH-53 aircraft flying above the school grounds.

One 10-year-old boy, out of some 50 children who were assembled in the sports field, was slightly injured in the incident, Reuters reports, citing a prefecture official. … Full article

‘Absolutely Ignored’: US Veterans Who Cleaned Up H-Bomb Accident Seek Benefits

Sputnik – 12.12.2017

Yale Law School students have requested a US court to permit a class-action lawsuit on behalf of US Air Force veterans who responded to the catastrophic 1966 hydrogen bomb accident in the Mediterranean Sea, but who have been denied disability benefits.

The 1966 accident occurred when a USAF B-52 carrying four hydrogen bombs collided with a USAF KC-135 tanker aircraft during a mid-flight refueling exercise. The refueling nozzle hit the fuselage and caused a major explosion seen by another B-52 pilot a mile away. All four airmen on the FC-135 were killed along with three of the four airmen on board the B-52.

The planes were flying a Cold War airborne alert mission dubbed Operation Chrome. The B-52s, which took off from Seymour Johnson Air Force base in North Carolina, required two mid-flight refuelings over Spain to complete their mission. The accident, which occurred near southern Spain, caused the B-52 to lose its hold on the four Mk-28 hydrogen bombs it was carrying, sending them plummeting down to Earth. Three landed in the fishing village of Palomares, while a third landed in the ocean and was ultimately recovered following a two-and-a-half month search.

“This class action seeks to compel the VA to acknowledge that veterans at Palomares participated in a radiation risk activity that would make any radiogenic conditions they developed presumptively service connected,” said Derek Mraz, one of the Yale Law School students working on the case.

About 1,600 service members were marshalled to Spain to recover the Mk-28s and contain the radiation released after the weapons’ plutonium detonators exploded, though the nuclear payloads themselves did not go off.

The US Department of Veterans Affairs has hitherto denied these veterans disability benefits, even though many of them developed cancer, blood disorders, and heart and lung conditions, according to Military.com.

The motion to allow a class action suit, filed by Yale students on Monday, lists veteran Victor Skaar as the plaintiff and VA Secretary David Shuklin as the defendant.

“It is absolutely ridiculous to see how we have been treated. We’re all hurt. We were ignored, absolutely ignored,” Skaar told the Associated Press.

US continues torture in Guantanamo: UN

Press TV – December 13, 2017

An inmate at the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay is still being tortured, the UN special rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer said in a statement on Wednesday.

Former President Barack Obama ended the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” via executive order in January 2009, but Melzer said the historic use of torture in CIA custody had not yet led to prosecutions or compensation for victims.

“By failing to prosecute the crime of torture in CIA custody, the US is in clear violation of the Convention against Torture and is sending a dangerous message of complacency and impunity to officials in the US and around the world,” Melzer said in the statement.

The statement cited the case of Ammar al-Baluchi, an inmate in Guantanamo Bay, “where his torture and ill-treatment are reported to continue”. […]

Melzer said the ban on torture and ill-treatment was one of the most fundamental norms of international law and could not be justified in any circumstances.

He said he had renewed a long-standing request to visit Guantanamo Bay to interview inmates, but he and his predecessors in the role had consistently been denied access. … Full article