An Argentine court sentenced former General Luciano Benjamin Menendez to life in prison Thursday for crimes against humanity committed at secret Dirty War-era detention centers in the late 1970s, making a landmark step in the struggle for justice for human rights abuses during one of the darkest chapters in the South American country’s history.
Menendez stood trial with 42 other defendants who will also be sentenced today after a nearly four year so-called “mega-trial” involving events related to over 700 victims.
The general was in charge of two clandestine jails, known as La Perla and La Ribera, in the province of Cordoba where torture, assassinations, and other human rights abuses were carried out during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship. He was charged with over 600 cases of torture, over 300 murders and forced disappearances, unlawful detentions, and other crimes against humanity committed at the two detention centers between 1976 and 1978.
Thousands of people, including the families of victims and social movements such as the iconic Mothers and Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, filled the streets outside of the federal court in the province of Cordoba to await the announcement under the banner of remembering the 30,000 disappeared during the dictatorship. … continue
Two Okinawa newspapers have accused the Japanese riot police of using force to remove their journalists from a protest against the construction of US military helipads in the area last week.
The Okinawa Times and the Ryukyu Shimpo newspapers said that the security forces acted in “violation of freedom of the press” by disrupting the activity of their reporters at the rally.
According to the outlets, the journalists had their hands twisted by police while they were being forcibly removed from the site of the demonstration.
The protest was against the construction of US military helipads in the small village of Higashi, in the north of the Okinawa prefecture.
“Reporters’ news-gathering activities were restricted for about 30 minutes despite showing their IDs to officers to prove that they were reporters,” the Okinawa Times stated.
The paper warned that the actions “constituted a violation of the freedom of the press and we will not tolerate it.”
The Ryukyu Shimpo also ran a piece in which the outlet “strongly protested the violation of free speech” by the security forces.
The papers were backed by the Japanese Federation of Newspaper Workers’ Unions, which called the actions of the police “unforgivable” and said they constituted “a serious violation of the free press by the state.” … Full article
On July 25, during the opening night of the Democratic National Convention, Senator Elizabeth Warren made the following comments during her speech:
“Here’s the thing: America isn’t going broke. The stock market is breaking records. Corporate profits are at all-time highs.”
We noted at the time that Senator Warren is one of the smartest members of Congress; a former Harvard law professor who taught commercial contracts and bankruptcy law; a member of the Senate Banking Committee and its Economic Policy Subcommittee.
If Senator Warren was not aware that quarterly earnings on a year-over-year basis as measured by the largest companies in America – the Standard and Poor’s 500 – were on track to log in their fifth consecutive quarterly decline in earnings, how could the average American possibly know this?
Equally important, if the stock market was setting new highs based on a prevailing misconception among investors that corporate earnings were still climbing, shouldn’t responsible media be setting the record straight? Or is it the job of corporate media to keep investors ignorant of the economic realities in the U.S. because it might hurt their own publicly traded stock prices?
We decided to see if Senator Warren could have possibly been misled by the so-called “paper of record,” the New York Times. The Times has a nifty search tool that allows one to set a customized time period for searches. We set our time period to search between January 2, 2015 through August 25, 2016. We searched under profit recession. Next we tried corporate earnings. Then we tried S&P earnings. And, finally, we searched under Standard and Poor’s earnings.
We could find no article at the New York Times, much less a headline, that gave any clue to its readers that S&P 500 earnings have been in decline for the past five quarters.
We did find a very misleading headline that appeared in the New York Times’ print edition on the second page of the Business Section on July 21, 2016. The headline reads: “Wall Street Edges Into Record Territory as Earnings Cheer Traders.” This was a rerun of a July 20 article by the Associated Press which had originally titled it “Wall Street Gains as Earnings Cheer Traders.”
One might be forgiven for reading that New York Times headline and thinking that corporate earnings were going in the same direction as the stock market. … continue
They’re calling it ‘Labour Purge’ 2
Vox Political | August 25, 2016
A wave of expulsion, suspensions and voting bans is sweeping across the Labour Party as the Owen Smith-supporting party machine tries to shore up his support.
Members across the UK are receiving notifications that they will not be allowed to vote for Jeremy Corbyn because of perceived breaches of recently-imposed, highly-partisan rule changes that offer advantage to supporters of Mr Smith.
For example, members who have used the word “Blairite” on the social media – even if they used it accurately and not in a pejorative sense – will not be allowed to vote, even though no official announcement was made to members by the party’s leadership.
It is right that the leadership election should be conducted in an orderly manner and that disruptive elements should be banned.
So why has the Labour leadership not also purged members who refer to Corbyn supporters as “Trots” (short for Trotskyists or Trotskyites), “rabble”, “dogs”, “Nazis” or “Nazi Stormtroopers” (or German words for the same – “Sturm Abteilung”, anybody?), “racists”, “homophobes”, “misogynists”, “anti-Semites” or, indeed, “lunatics”.
Why are Smith supporters who threaten violence on others – like John McTernan – still able to vote?
And what, exactly, is the process in which people are divested of their democratic right? Has anybody – at all – been invited to provide their side of the story or is it a witch-hunt, and any Corbyn supporter may be banned simply for being accused?
How many have been deprived of their voice in this manner? … Full article
The North Carolina man killed by a state trooper last week was “afraid” of police because of previous misunderstandings due to his deafness, his brother said.
Daniel Harris was shot and killed outside his home in Charlotte, North Carolina last week. State Trooper Jermaine Saunders said he chased Harris for 10 miles after attempting to pull him over for speeding on Interstate 485. Harris, who was deaf, could not hear the siren – or the trooper’s commands – and was attempting to communicate in sign language when Saunders shot him.
“[My brother] had times where, because of inaccessibility, there were misunderstandings that led to him being afraid of the police,” Sam Harris said Wednesday, speaking to reporters outside his family home through a sign language interpreter.
Standing next to a makeshift shrine to his brother, including a sign that read “Police Brutality Domestic Terrorism” surrounded by flowers, Harris accused the police of being unable to communicate with the deaf community, often leading to violent confrontations. … Full article
This heartbreaking story made headlines in all American newspapers and television channels. When American swimmers were robbed at a gas station in Rio de Janeiro, the reports about the incident appeared as “breaking news” in most of US publications. It has been recently revealed, however, that the Americans initiated the robbery and accused the Brazilian police of violence. … continue
As the Colombian government and left-wing FARC rebels near the signing of a comprehensive peace accord, and though they have already signed a bi-lateral ceasefire which is largely holding, Colombia is still suffering from the worst human rights abuses in the Western Hemisphere. These abuses are being carried out by right-wing paramilitary groups (aka, death squads), which the U.S. and Colombian governments conveniently deny even exist.
These paramilitary groups, in accord with their long-time friend and ally, former President Alvaro Uribe, are openly and aggressively opposed to the peace accords, and will most certainly escalate their violence as a national referendum which will be held to ratify, or reject, these accords draws near. Thus, as Insight Crime recently reported, the Colombian Electoral Observation Mission (MOE) estimates that nearly 250 municipalities (or more than 25% of the 1,105 municipalities in all of Colombia) “are at risk of violence or fraud affecting the referendum on an anticipated peace deal” with the FARC. The departments of Choco, Arauca, Cauca and Putumayo – that is, departments with heavy concentrations of Afro-Colombians and indigenous – are among the departments with the greatest risk. Antioquia, the department of Alvaro Uribe who was governor there, has the greatest number of municipalities at risk.
Meanwhile, the paramilitaries are already exploiting the opportunity presented by the FARC’s ceasefire to gain territory and exact more advantage for the economic elites – both domestic and foreign – which they serve. … continue
Israeli navy ships opened fire, on Thursday at dawn, on a number of Palestinian fishing boats in Palestinian territorial waters, in the northern part of the coastal region, and kidnapped one fisherman.
The Palestinian Fishers Syndicate said one fisher, identified as Abdul-Aziz Sa’dallah, was kidnapped from his boat in Beit Lahia Sea, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.
The fisher was in his boat less than one nautical mile from the shore; his boats was partially damaged by the navy fire.
According to the Safa News Agency, the navy also attempted to kidnap another fisher, who was on the same boat, but armed resistance fighters opened fire at the navy ships, forcing them away from the shore, and preventing them from confiscating the boat.
Western diplomats say that Israel has not provided them with “any intelligence or evidence” against a Gaza-based World Vision employee recently indicted for funnelling aid money to Hamas.
According to a report in Israeli newspaper Haaretz, “some of Israel’s key allies have complained to the Foreign Ministry about not receiving any intelligence or evidence” about Mohammad el Halabi, in contrast to the huge amount of publicity granted to the accusations by the Israeli authorities.
Diplomats told the paper that “Israel’s behaviour in the affair is creating the impression that the government is interested in creating a ‘public diplomacy buzz,’ rather than any real attempt to resolve the matter.”
One Western diplomat commented: “The Israelis’ priorities in this affair are very strange”, adding: “Israel’s conduct is very disappointing.”
Haaretz stated that, as of Thursday, “neither the ministry in Jerusalem nor any other official Israeli body has provided additional information or evidence concerning the matter to any of the Western countries involved, directly or indirectly, in transferring donations to World Vision.”
Furthermore, “in the past few days, the Australian, British and U.S. ambassadors asked for clarifications from the Foreign Ministry concerning the delay in the transfer of the information and have expressed their displeasure to [Israeli officials].”
On August 9, the director general of the Australian foreign affairs department wrote to Dore Gold, his Israeli counterpart, and “requested detailed information that would help the investigation into alleged misuse of donations from his country and their transfer to Hamas.”
Three days later, “the Australian Embassy sent another letter to the Foreign Ministry, again asking for any information pointing to the transfer of donated funds from Australia via any international aid organization to Hamas or other terror organizations in Gaza.”
The paper added that “the ambassadors of the United States, Great Britain and other countries made similar verbal requests to senior people at Israel’s Foreign Ministry, but say they are yet to receive a response.”
A 24-year old Palestinian man, Sari Mohammad Abu Gharab, was killed on Wednesday by Israeli troops near Nablus, just two months before he was scheduled to be married.
The Palestinian was shot to death by numerous rounds after allegedly exiting a vehicle that was being chased by an Israeli military vehicle and trying to stab an Israeli soldier.
But photos from the scene show Abu Gharab still seated in the vehicle – not outside the vehicle as Israeli forces claimed. […]
No soldiers were injured, but the 24-year old Abu Gharab was shot dead. This killing was criticized by Palestinian sources because of its extrajudicial nature.
219 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since last October – most of them killed via extrajudicial assassination, with no charges or trial, in direct violation of international law. During the same time period, 32 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians. … Full article
The Israeli military says it has closed a file on its shelling of a United Nations school in the Gaza town of Rafah during Tel Aviv’s 50-day war on the besieged territory in 2014.
The shelling of the school which sheltered more than 3,000 displaced Palestinians at the time of the aggression triggered international outcry and drew criticism from Israel’s own allies including the US and France.
After conducting an investigation, the Israeli military issued a 21-page report on Wednesday, saying it was closing the file on the incident as well as on several other cases of military misconduct during the invasion.
The report said no wrongdoing was found in the attack in which 10 women and children were killed as well as in other cases.
Shells landed at the yard of the school where children and adults were clustered around the gates, buying biscuits and sweets from stalls set up by locals.
The Israeli report said the Military Advocate General’s examination concluded that proper procedures were followed in the shelling.
“MAG found that the targeting process in question accorded with Israeli domestic law and international law requirements,” it wrote.
“The decision to strike was taken by the competent authorities, and the object of the attack was lawful – military operatives,” it said, claiming that the military had spotted three Palestinian fighters near the school.
The attack was strongly condemned by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who said the Israeli military had been repeatedly informed of the location of such sites, while the United States called it “disgraceful.” … Full article
According to a think tank that does contract work for NATO and the Israeli government, the West should not destroy ISIS, the fascist Islamist extremist group that is committing genocide and ethnically cleansing minority groups in Syria and Iraq.
Why? The so-called Islamic State “can be a useful tool in undermining” Iran, Hezbollah, Syria and Russia, argues the think tank’s director.
“The continuing existence of IS serves a strategic purpose,” wrote Efraim Inbar in “The Destruction of Islamic State Is a Strategic Mistake,” a paper published on Aug. 2.
By cooperating with Russia to fight the genocidal extremist group, the United States is committing a “strategic folly” that will “enhance the power of the Moscow-Tehran-Damascus axis,” Inbar argued, implying that Russia, Iran and Syria are forming a strategic alliance to dominate the Middle East.
“The West should seek the further weakening of Islamic State, but not its destruction,” he added. “A weak IS is, counterintuitively, preferable to a destroyed IS.”
Inbar, an influential Israeli scholar, is the director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, a think tank that says its mission is to advance “a realist, conservative, and Zionist agenda in the search for security and peace for Israel.”
The think tank, known by its acronym BESA, is affiliated with Israel’s Bar Ilan University and has been supported by the Israeli government, the NATO Mediterranean Initiative, the U.S. embassy in Israel and the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs.
BESA also says it “conducts specialized research on contract to the Israeli foreign affairs and defense establishment, and for NATO.”
In his paper, Inbar suggested that it would be a good idea to prolong the war in Syria, which has destroyed the country, killing hundreds of thousands of people and displacing more than half the population. … Full article
Airstrikes carried out by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen are responsible for the majority of civilians killed in the country’s ongoing conflict, the UN has found, while calling for an international investigation into the coalition’s violations there.
“OHCHR has documented incidents in which air strikes by the coalition forces had an impact on localities with a high concentration of civilians, including markets and residential areas, as well as on events such as wedding ceremonies, frequently incurring high casualties and causing substantive infrastructural damage,” the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a report.
“The cases monitored by the Office indicate that air strikes were the single largest cause of casualties,” the report published on Thursday states. “The prolonged duration of the conflict has strongly heightened the disastrous risk of a systemic collapse of Yemen.” … Full article
A US drone strike has left five people claimed to be suspected al-Qaeda militants dead in southern Yemen.
Yemeni witnesses said the victims were killed after their vehicle was completely destroyed in the US drone attack in Shabwah province on Wednesday. … Full article
Police in Baltimore are facing a new scandal for their use of surveillance planes from the Iraq war to secretly spy on residents.
The aerial snooping has been happening since January without authorities informing the public they are being monitored for as much as 10 hours a day, Bloomberg reports.
Police from both Baltimore city and county are already under fire for the shooting of 23-year-old mother Korryn Gaines earlier this month – and face blowback from a damning report detailing the use of excessive force and targeting of minors.
While a fictional version of Baltimore’s police force was featured in the HBO series “The Wire,” the real-life version has been criticized for its warrantless use of Sting Ray cell phone tapping equipment favored by the National Security Agency.
The Cessna spy plane is fully kitted out with cameras and bankrolled by “justice reform” advocates from Texas, Laura and her husband John Arnold, the former Enron trader who made billions in hedge funds. … continue
The New York Police Department’s intelligence bureau routinely violated the famous Handschu Agreement, a set of 1985 guidelines that protect constitutional rights, for purely political reasons, according to a new inspector general report.
Inspector General Philip K. Eure of the NYPD released a report on Tuesday that found their intelligence bureau ignored the court-ordered guidelines for surveillance techniques on political activities, such as protests.
The report did not find any improper motivations but confirmed they ignored court-ordered protocol when investigating political activity. For example, Eure found that in 50 percent of relevant investigations, the NYPD continued investigation past the expiration of legal permission.
In addition, the report noted that the NYPD failed to properly document use of undercover agents and informers.
The 1985 Handschu Agreement is a strict set of guidelines that mandate how the NYPD must handle investigations of political, religious or ideological organizations. It resulted from a celebrated court case against the NYPD, filed way back in 1971 in the wake of the unsuccessful prosecution of members of the militant Black Panther movement. Prior to the Handschu agreement, the NYPD had a history of targeting political groups such as communists and the Black Panthers, going so far as to monitor members and infiltrate organizations to act as, “agents provocateurs to disrupt the activities of political organizations and to facilitate the arrests of organizational activists,” the New York Civil Liberties Union said. … Full article
The nation’s young people have been given front-row seats for an unfolding police drama that is rated R for profanity, violence and adult content.
In Arizona, a 7-year-old girl watched panic-stricken as a state trooper pointed his gun at her and her father during a traffic stop and reportedly threatened to shoot her father in the back (twice) based on the mistaken belief that they were driving a stolen rental car.
In Oklahoma, a 5-year-old boy watched as a police officer used a high-powered rifle to shoot his dog Opie multiple times in his family’s backyard while other children were also present. The police officer was mistakenly attempting to deliver a warrant on a 10-year-old case for someone who hadn’t lived at that address in a decade.
In Maryland, a 5-year-old boy was shot when police exchanged gunfire with the child’s mother—eventually killing her—over a dispute that began when Korryn Gaines refused to accept a traffic ticket for driving without a license plate on her car.
It’s difficult enough raising a child in a world ravaged by war, disease, poverty and hate, but when you add the police state into the mix, it becomes near impossible to guard against the growing unease that some of the monsters of our age come dressed in government uniforms.
The lesson being taught to our youngest—and most impressionable—citizens is this: in the American police state, you’re either a prisoner (shackled, controlled, monitored, ordered about, limited in what you can do and say, your life not your own) or a prison bureaucrat (politician, police officer, judge, jailer, spy, profiteer, etc.). … continue
Since September 2001, the Pentagon has listed $40 billion worth of contracts for small arms intended for Afghanistan and Iraq, supplying 1.45 million guns to both countries while only accounting for 3 percent of them, says a new report by a British NGO.
The London-based nonprofit Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) pored over 14 years’ worth of contracts issued by the US Department of Defense, documenting the purchases of small arms – defined as anything under 30mm in caliber – ammunition and attachments, such as sniper scopes or tripods. They found a massive amount of weapons supplied by the US to the primary theaters of the “War on Terror,” and remarkably little accounting of whose hands they ended up in. … continue
American weapon manufacturers have made bigger contributions to the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, a major turnaround after years of backing the Republican ticket.
According to a report by Politico released on Wednesday, Clinton has received more donations from high-ranking employees of giant Pentagon contractors like Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics, outperforming her GOP rival Donald Trump by a 5-to-1 ratio.
According to filings with the Federal Election Committee, Trump’s campaign has banked nearly $55,000 in contributions from executives of the 25 major defense contractors, compared to $273,000 given to Clinton.
This marks a significant break from the years-old habit of supporting the Republican candidate. In fact, the arms industry has teamed with Republican congressional and presidential candidates in eight of the past 10 election cycles. … continue
As the nation’s largest health insurance companies scale back participation in Obamacare (aka Affordable Care Act) creating what insurance jargon refers to as a death spiral, it was only a matter of time before state Democratic leaders and their agents announced their opposition to ColoradoCare (Amendment 69), a medicare-for-all health care system that will appear on the statewide November 8th ballot.
State Democratic establishment leaders who had already announced their opposition to ColoradoCare include Governor John Hickenlooper, former Governor Bill Ritter and Senator Michael Bennett who is running for re-election.
In an effort to salvage what is left of the President’s most significant (and perhaps only) legislative achievement as Obamacare struggles for relevance, ProgressNow Colorado (PN) held a press conference on August 17th (“ProgressNow Colorado Opposes Amendment 69, Calls For Nationwide Health Reform”) to announce their opposition to CC.
Featured speaker at the PN news conference was State House Majority Leader Cristina Duran, considered a ‘rising star’ who recently spoke on behalf of Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention. In 2016, it has been reported that Duran received campaign contributions from at least a dozen special interest groups associated with the health insurance industry.
In addition, Colorado NARAL joined the PN news event, again voicing their opposition to CC. The lack of availability for abortions is what keeps NARAL functioning. The obvious irony is that if CC is adopted (which will allow abortions), NARAL’s raison d’etre will cease to exist and they will be able to close their doors. … continue
He’s no more a progressive revolutionary than any other member of Congress, nor Washington’s bipartisan criminal class, bureaucrats included – Sanders a card-carrying member throughout his deplorable political career.
Endorsing Hillary Clinton after rhetorically campaigning against what she represents exposed his duplicity – a progressive in name only. An opportunist for his own self-interest, he wants his extended 15 minutes of fame made more long-lasting.
Claiming his new initiative “will fight to transform America and advance the progressive agenda (he) believe(s) in” belies his deplorable House and Senate voting records, on the wrong side of most major issues, especially supporting most US wars of aggression.
A separate Sanders Institute intends operating like his Our Revolution initiative. Maybe his real aim is cashing in on his high-profile persona – including a new book due out in mid-November titled “Our Revolution: A Future To Believe In.”
Save your money. Its contents are clear without reading it – the same mumbo jumbo rubbish he used while campaigning.
It excludes his deplorable history of promising one thing, doing another, going along with Washington scoundrels like Hillary to get along, betraying his loyal supporters – the real Sanders he wants concealed. … continue
HEBRON – Israeli bulldozers Wednesday demolished three Palestinian homes and a cultural center in the village of Umm al-Kheir in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, detaining an elderly disabled man in the process.
The coordinator of popular committees in southern Hebron, Rateb al-Jbour, told Ma’an that Israeli forces raided the village and demolished three homes, two of which belonged to Shuiab al-Hathalin, a disabled elderly man, while the third belonged to Suleiman al-Hathalin.
Shuiab al-Hathalin was detained by Israeli forces following the demolition of his two homes.
Israeli forces also demolished a cultural center in the village.
According to al-Jbrour, Israeli forces had demolished several homes in the village during the past two weeks, claiming the properties were unlicensed. … Full article
Glasgow Celtic Football Club is arguably Scotland’s most famous and successful team, but rarely does it make headlines beyond the sports pages; until now. Celtic’s fans have demonstrated an unprecedented act of solidarity with the people of Palestine, and it is going viral.
What have the generous folk in Scotland done? Quite simply, in terms of peaceful civil rights movements, they have produced a “game changer” which will go on to have a profound effect on the future of the already powerful global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
Thousands of ordinary Celtic fans picked up and waved Palestinian flags at their Celtic Park Stadium during a match against an Israeli team, as reported here in MEMO ; the flag-waving demonstration flew in the face of police advice. This simple but powerful act of mass defiance created a storm of media attention across the Middle East, which has now propelled Celtic alongside the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United in terms of stature and popularity in the region.
Football’s European governing body, UEFA, warned that it would fine Celtic for its fans actions, but the fans retorted that they would match any fine imposed on the club, pound for pound, in donations to Palestinian causes. True to their word, the Green Brigade has raised nearly £100,000 in a crowdfunding appeal for Palestinian charities; the total continues to rise. … continue
Despite her best efforts and those of her friends in the corporate media, Hillary Clinton cannot escape her email scandal. In an attempt to comingle her responsibilities as secretary of state with her influence peddling at the Clinton Foundation, she used a private server to conduct all of her official, classified government duties.
Hillary Clinton is quite a liar but she was never a very good one. It was only a matter of time before her use of the private email server came to light. She was fortunate to have Barack Obama let her off the hook. Her only punishment was public criticism from the FBI director who nonetheless said that he would prosecute anyone else who did the same thing.
Yet the story is still highly problematic at this stage in her presidential campaign. So much so that damage control was in order. Clintonite courtier and author Joe Conason volunteered to help by shoving former secretary of state Colin Powell under a bus. … continue
teleSUR | August 24, 2016
Armed French police ordered a Muslim woman to remove her burkini swimsuit on a Nice beach Tuesday, adding further controversy to a ban on the garment amid growing Islamophobia in France.
Photographs show the woman removing her burkini—a full-body swim piece, while four armed police surround her on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. The woman was issued a ticket by police for not wearing “an outfit respecting good morals and secularism,” according to AFP. […]
Mathilde Cousin, witnessed the incident and told the Guardian, “The saddest thing was that people were shouting ‘go home,’ some were applauding the police. Her daughter was crying.”
Nice is the latest of 15 towns to ban the burkini. The mayor of nearby Villeneuve-Loubet said that the ban was important to “protect the population.” … Full article
With immaculate timing, Turkey unrolled its defiant ‘Plan B’ – billed as the Euphrates Shield operation – in northern Syria just as the US Vice President Joe Biden’s aircraft was about to land in Ankara’s Esenboga airport.
This must be one of the biggest diplomatic snubs that the US has suffered in a long while. And it is being administered by a NATO member country.
I had written yesterday in Asia Times that the US was making a monumental error of judgment by underestimating the grit of the Turkish mind to safeguard its supreme national interests at any cost. (See my article Turkey gets its act together on Syria.)
As I explained, the main purpose of the Euphrates Shield operation is to occupy the strategic border town of Jarablus in northern Syria and have a showdown with the Syrian Kurds (supported by US Special Forces and American air cover). The Kurdish militia had crossed the Euphrates river a few months ago and, contrary to American assurances, they are now moving westward to realise their dream of establishing a Kurdistan straddling Turkey’s border, stretching from Iraq to East Mediterranean coast. Turkey’s ‘red line’ has been breached. … continue
The US has pitted the Syrian Kurds against Damascus-led forces in the northeastern city of Hasakah in a bid not to lose regional influence should Turkey, Russia and Iran create an alliance to resolve the Syrian conflict, analyst and journalist Hüsnü Mahalli told Sputnik, adding that recent clashes are part of the West’s “geopolitical games.”
“Up until now Russia and Iran have helped to maintain cordial relations between the Syrian Kurds from the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and Damascus. The PYD made a mistake when it opted to cooperate with the US,” he said.
Kurdish militias, assisted by the US, have been trying to push radical groups, including Daesh and al-Nusra Front from northern Syria and secure the porous border with Turkey. At the same time, the Kurds have established a de-facto autonomy in the areas under their control.
Mahalli emphasized that any efforts on the part of the PYD and the People’s Protection Units (YPG) to create an independent state will be a mistake that could not be undone.
“The Americans have repeatedly said that they have a Plan B for Syria. Perhaps, this is what they meant. I’m afraid that the US has decided to drag the Kurds into a large-scale bloodbath,” he added. … continue
In civil war situations, such as the conflict in Syria, sides routinely make conflicting claims. It is hard to see who is telling the truth unless you have access to actual intelligence and a front row seat. But it becomes easier to see what is really happening by watching the mainstream news and comparing it to reality.
Let us take the recent Democracy Now interview with Dr. Zaher Sahloul, the former President of the Syrian American Medical Society. This accompanied the global media coverage of the bombed, bloodied and beaten little boy from Aleppo, apparently rescued from what was left of a makeshift refugee camp. At one time Democracy Now was a respected alternative media site. Unfortunately, this article and the circumstances of its writing suggest that it has bought into the system it once stood up to. … continue
RT | August 24, 2016
A Guantanamo detainee, who the CIA tortured as a suspected top leader of Al-Qaeda but never officially charged, has made his case for release. Abu Zubaydah appeared in public for the first time in 14 years of his detention.
His first-ever hearing was made via video feed from Washington’s Cuba-based prison and on his behalf. Addressing a Periodic Review Board through a uniformed soldier who read his message, Zubaydah said that he “has no desire or intent to harm the United States or any other country.” … continue
The major American news network claims that the FBI is looking toward Russia for hacking into the New York Times and other news organizations. Where CNN got this information is unknown.
Citing only anonymous sources, CNN released a report on Tuesday claiming that the FBI and other US security agencies are investigating a series of cyber breaches at various US media outlets, including the New York Times.
“Investigators so far believe that Russian intelligence is likely behind the attacks and that Russian hackers are targeting news organizations as part of a broader series of hacks that also have focused on Democratic Party organizations,” the report reads, citing, “US officials briefed on the matter.” … continue
Hillary Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook has insinuated that Donald Trump had compromised US national security by inviting a man on the Kremlin payroll to an intelligence briefing, the website FactCheck.org reported on Tuesday.
Mook did not name the purported Russian agent, but it turns out that he was referring to retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who until two years ago served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency under President Barack Obama, the Clinton campaign told FactCheck.
“The gentleman he [Trump] brought with him to his security briefing just last week is someone who’s on the payroll of the Russia Times, which is a basically a propaganda arm of the Kremlin,” Mook said in an appearance on Sunday on ABC News’ This Week.
As it turns out, Flynn was paid for giving a speech at an anniversary gala by the Russia Times, a government-funded television station, the report explained.
Other speakers at the event included former London Mayor Ken Livingstone, US Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein and liberal US media commentator Thom Hartmann, the report noted. … Full article
When a drum containing radioactive waste blew up in an underground nuclear dump in New Mexico two years ago, the Energy Department rushed to quell concerns in the Carlsbad desert community and quickly reported progress on resuming operations.
The early federal statements gave no hint that the blast had caused massive long-term damage to the dump, a facility crucial to the nuclear weapons cleanup program that spans the nation, or that it would jeopardize the Energy Department’s credibility in dealing with the tricky problem of radioactive waste.
But the explosion ranks among the costliest nuclear accidents in U.S. history, according to a Times analysis. The long-term cost of the mishap could top $2 billion, an amount roughly in the range of the cleanup after the 1979 partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania.
The Feb. 14, 2014, accident is also complicating cleanup programs at about a dozen current and former nuclear weapons sites across the U.S. Thousands of tons of radioactive waste that were headed for the dump are backed up in Idaho, Washington, New Mexico and elsewhere, state officials said in interviews. … continue
A Fort Worth police officer who sparked widespread condemnation after pepper-spraying motorcyclists as they passed by on the highway will not be suspended, the department announced on Friday.
The incident went massively viral after a video was posted to YouTube in March. In the footage, officer W. Figueroa had pulled over a pickup truck acting as a “safety vehicle” for approximately 200 bikers riding in tandem. As the bikers passed the officer standing on the shoulder behind the stopped pickup, he sprayed the orange mist directly onto the riders.
The department quickly made claims that they had received several complaints about motorcyclists driving recklessly, and weaving in and out of traffic around the time of the incident.
In the police report, Figueroa wrote that he used a chemical weapon because bikers did not swerve into the next lane over from where he stood.
“Multiple motorcycles would not vacate the lane closest to my marked patrol car,” Figueroa said. “I deployed my pepper spray into the lane closest to me, at which point approaching motorcycles began to vacate the lane, allowing me to conduct a traffic stop.”
At the time, Fort Worth police department corporal Tracey Knight stated that the act of pepper-spraying drivers and riders while they are operating moving vehicles is not a department-endorsed tactic, and Figueroa was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into the highly dangerous move.
The bikers maintain that there is no justification for spraying a blinding weapon at someone operating a motorcycle, and assert that someone could have easily been killed. … Full article
Until as recently as last year, Peru’s national police force harbored a “death squad” that is responsible for the extrajudicial killings of at least 20 people over a four-year period – even at times offering sworn officers bounties to kill criminal suspects, according to an official government investigation of systemic police misconduct.
In an executive summary that reads like the script of a Dirty Harry movie, the Interior Ministry’s report found “serious indications” that both high-ranking and low-level officers of the national police force “falsified intelligence information” to misrepresent at least six cases involving some 20 slayings as the justified result of confrontations with armed suspects, when in fact they were summary executions carried out by police, according to a summary of the report Monday by Vice Minister of Internal Order Ruben Vargas.
The report did not disclose the identities of the officers suspected of participating in the death squad, but Vargas did reveal that the operation was headed by a police colonel who was subsequently promoted to general.
Local media revealed the scandal over three weeks ago after department whistleblowers brought the allegations to light, prompting an investigation. The new report will now be handed over to prosecutors specialized in organized crime to open a case. … continue
When writer Michael Chabon visited the West Bank city of Hebron earlier this year, the brutal reality of the Israeli occupation hit him with force. During an interview with the Forward, he appeared “visibly jarred,” and he pulled no punches in describing his reaction.
“Once you see for yourself,” he said, “it is pretty obvious, I think, to any human being with a heart and a mind, it is pretty clear what to feel about it. It is the most grievous injustice I have ever seen in my life.”
His reaction echoes in the words of another author, Ben Ehrenreich, who recently published a book about the occupation, “The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine.” In his introduction Ehrenreich refers to “the awful clarity of the injustice,” and his book portrays Palestinian resistance under Israel’s state-sponsored system of oppression.
Both these American writers are saying that the suffering of Palestinians under Israeli rule is clear to see, an obvious truth to anyone who witnesses the situation firsthand.
Now, as Peter Baker, the latest New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief, takes up his post, we can ask whether the newspaper will begin to convey this reality to its readers. Will Baker, a fresh new witness with full access to the sites under occupation, give voice to the oppression seen with such clarity by Ehrenreich and Chabon?
Baker’s predecessor, Jodi Rudoren, who left Jerusalem late last year, filed hundreds of stories over nearly four years at the post and managed not to clarify but to obscure the reality of occupation and dispossession. Her stories promoted a narrative of Israeli victimhood and Palestinian violence and deflected Israeli culpability. … continue
The Clinton Foundation needs to return every dollar it received in foreign donations, the Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus said in a Twitter message on Tuesday.
“All of the Clinton Foundation foreign money should never have been accepted and needs to be returned today,” Priebus stated.
The RNC chairman also said he supported Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s call for a special prosecutor to be appointed to investigate the Clinton Foundation.
The Foundation has come under severe scrutiny for donations it accepted from foreign governments and entities during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as US secretary of state from 2009 to 2013. … continue
The British government has dismissed concerns about selling arms to Saudi Arabia amid accusations that it misled the parliament over the case.
On Tuesday, a British government spokeswoman defended the recent weapon sales to Riyadh, saying the Saudis have stuck to conditions set by the United Kingdom.
She also noted that London is ensuring Riyadh is not breaking humanitarian laws by bombing civilian targets.
“The UK Government takes its arms export responsibilities very seriously and operates one of the most robust arms export control regimes in the world,” the spokeswoman said.
“The Government is satisfied that extant licenses for Saudi Arabia are compliant with the UK’s export licensing criteria,” she added. … continue
As tension between the West and Russia over the Syrian crisis heats up yet again, a combination effort on the part of elements within the United States and the UK are pushing for direct military confrontation with the Syrian military as well as the Russians. Indeed, after a period of time suggesting a major improvement on the ground, it appears that there is now the possibility of renewed vigor on the part of the imperialist Western powers in their goal to destroy Syria, even at the cost of igniting World War 3. … continue
Reading through a recent interview with former NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen, it becomes clear that his world is one in which US foreign policy has only ever made us all safer and the biggest risk we now face is diminished US power.
The entire premise of his argument throughout the interview is that if the US steps back from playing global policeman, the “bad guys” will win. Simple as that. … continue
Donald Trump has appointed at least two neocons to his foreign policy group.
First, let’s consider Joseph E. Schmitz. He is a former Inspector General of the Department of Defense and a former executive with Blackwater Worldwide. He fled the Pentagon after he was accused of protecting top Bush officials accused of wrongdoing.
Blackwater, now Academi, the military contractor founded by Eric Prince, played a substantial role during the Iraq War. It is infamous for killing seventeen Iraqi citizens in 2007, the same year the corporation was accused of illegally smuggling weapons into the country. Blackwater did not like being investigated for its misdeeds. In 2007, Blackwater Manager Daniel Carroll threatened to kill Jean Richter, a State Department Investigator.
Schmitz is connected to the Center for Security Policy (CSP), a think tank formed by Frank Gaffney, a neocon so radical he was rejected by the Pentagon when he was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Forces and Arms Control Policy in the Reagan Administration. He is associated with other neocons, including Richard Perle, who rose to prominence as aides of the late Democrat Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson. … continue
The Syria Propaganda Campaign
Neocons and Clintonites have launched a major campaign with the goal of direct US military intervention and aggression against Syria, potentially leading to war with Iran and Russia. An early indication emerged as soon as it was clear that Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic Party nominee. Following the California primary, the NY Times reported on State Department diplomats issuing an internal memo “urging the United States to carry out military strikes against the government of President Bashar al Assad.”
In early August Dennis Ross and Andrew Tabler opined in the NY Times about “The Case for (Finally) Bombing Assad.” Dennis Ross is a favorite Clintonite. In her book Hard Choices, Clinton described how she asked Dennis Ross to come to the State Department to “work on Iran and regional issues”.
NY Times regular Nicholas Kristof made his pitch for war against Syria. According to the self-styled humanitarian, we need “safe zones” as proposed by Clintonite Madeline Albright and retired General James Cartwright. That is risky but “the risks of doing nothing in Syria are even greater”.
PBS broadcast a story titled “Repeatedly targeted by airstrikes, Syrian doctors feel abandoned.” The story features video from the “White Helmets” along with photos from the reported April bombing of Al Quds Hospital.
Currently there is a huge media campaign around the situation in Aleppo. Syrian American doctor Zaher Sahloul, of the Syrian American Medical Society, has been interviewed extensively on corporate media as well as DemocracyNow with widespread promotion in Truthout and other sites. … continue
Meryl Streep must be a very intelligent woman to be such a good actress. So it was embarrassing to see her dressed in an American flag playing cheer leader for Hillary Clinton at the Democratic Convention. One must suppose that she is too busy studying for all her varied movie roles to have learned much about the sinister nature of Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy. She proclaimed that President Hillary Clinton would be “making history” simply by being a woman. That means symbolic history. The fact that President Hillary Clinton is more likely to make real history by starting another war even more disastrous than those she has already helped get us into seems not to have occurred to Meryl Streep.
Nor does it occur to millions of other American women who share the same illusion.
Those women are thinking too much in terms of symbols and images. They are ignoring the major issue facing the United States: whether to make peace or war. They don’t worry that the imminent conflict with the other major nuclear power, Russia, might affect themselves, their families, the world and the future. They feel that they will somehow personally benefit from the election of a woman to the U.S. Presidency. … continue
On August 5th, Michael Morell, a former acting Director of the CIA, pilloried GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, concluding that he was an “unwitting agent of Russia.” …
… I think it is pretty clear who is the presidential candidate promoting the interests of a foreign country and it ain’t Trump. Hillary would no doubt argue that Israel is a friend and Russia is not, an interesting point of view as Israel is not in fact an ally and has spied on us and copied our military technology… Read full article
A group that campaigns for stricter arms sales controls said on Monday that Western powers were breaking international law by selling vast amounts of weapons to Saudi Arabia that are being used to hit civilians in Yemen.
The Control Arms Coalition said Britain, France and the United States were flouting the 2014 Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which bans exports of conventional weapons that fuel human rights violations or war crimes.
“It is extremely concerning that many transfers are still continuing, in particular the governments of the United States, the UK and France have authorized and are continuing to export very large quantities of weapons, including explosive weapons, bombs which are being used daily against civilians in Yemen,” said Anna MacDonald, director of the Control Arms Coalition. … continue
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- Speaking of the Olympics…
- Hollywood’s Revenge on Dissident Historian David Irving
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- ‘What we saw in Syria goes against everything we read in the United States’
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- London ‘thought police’ special unit to track down online trolls
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