Aletho News


Turkish court cancels plan to redevelop Istanbul’s Taksim Square

Press TV – July 3, 2013

A Turkish court has blocked a redevelopment project for Istanbul’s Taksim Square after the country was rocked by four weeks of anti-government protests.

The court ruling is seen as a big blow to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had strongly backed the project, but is also seen as a victory for the opposition that has been staging nationwide rallies against it.

Istanbul has been the epicenter of anti-government demonstrations since May 31, when the police broke up a sit-in staged at Taksim Square to protest against the redevelopment plan which involved the demolition of Gezi Park.

The Turkish protesters said Gezi Park, which is a traditional gathering point for rallies and demonstrations as well as a popular tourist destination, is one of Istanbul’s last public green spaces.

The protests soon spread to other cities across the country and turned into calls for the resignation of the Turkish prime minister.

Several people have been killed in the violent crackdown on peaceful protesters, who Erdogan has described as foreign-backed extremists and terrorists.

Last week, Turkish artists, journalists, and authors placed full-page advertisements in several newspapers, asking Erdogan to stop using divisive language.

On June 24, Erdogan praised the “legendary heroism” of police forces in quelling anti-government protests.

The Turkish prime minister has faced international condemnation for his handling of the crisis. Turkish police have been also strongly criticized for using excessive force against the peaceful protests.

July 3, 2013 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | Comments Off on Turkish court cancels plan to redevelop Istanbul’s Taksim Square

The Evolving Story of the Death of Father Murad

By Richard Edmondson | War and Peace | July 3, 2013

Conflicting news reports have been coming out on the death of Father Francois Murad. Initially it was reported by a number of sources, including a press release from the Vatican, that the priest had been beheaded. Today, however, reports are saying that no, this was incorrect, that he was only shot dead, and that the video purporting to show his beheading was an old video. Here is how The Telegraph is reporting the matter:

The footage, said to show Father Francois Murad, 49, as the victim in a brutal summary execution by foreign jihadists is likely to be an older video that bares no relation to the death of the Catholic priest.

Father Murad “died when he was shot inside his church” in the northern Syrian Christian village of Ghassaniyeh on June 23, three separate local sources, who did not wish to be named, told the Telegraph.

Claims that Father Murad was one of two men to be decapitated by a foreign jihadist group went viral, with outrage expressed in blogs and articles worldwide.

The story goes on to describe the contents of the video, noting that it is “too grainy to be able to confirm the identity of either of the victims as Father Francois,” while offering quotes of clarification from Human Rights Watch as well as Holy Land Custos Pierbattista Pizzabala. The latter is quoted as saying, “Islamists attacked the monastery, ransacking it and destroying everything. When Father Francois tried to resist, defending the nuns, rebels shot him.”

According to the HRW spokesperson, the video “looks like it may have been filmed” several months ago, well before Murad’s death, and that the confusion may have arisen due to its appearance “around the same time that the news came out that Father Francois had been killed.”

All of this quite naturally raises some questions. Descriptions of the video, found at both LiveLeak and YouTube, specifically said the two men shown being beheaded were Christians and that Murad was one of them. Who made this video available to the public and what was their motive?

The conflict in Syria is becoming more and more like a house of mirrors—something noted in a report by journalist Patrick Cockburn published Sunday in The Independent and headlined, “Foreign Media Portrayals of the Conflict in Syria are Dangerously Inaccurate.” Cockburn writes:

Every time I come to Syria I am struck by how different the situation is on the ground from the way it is pictured in the outside world. The foreign media reporting of the Syrian conflict is surely as inaccurate and misleading as anything we have seen since the start of the First World War. I can’t think of any other war or crisis I have covered in which propagandistic, biased or second-hand sources have been so readily accepted by journalists as providers of objective facts.

Slogans replace policies: the rebels are pictured as white hats and the government supporters as black hats; given more weapons, the opposition can supposedly win a decisive victory; put under enough military pressure, President Bashar al-Assad will agree to negotiations for which a pre-condition is capitulation by his side in the conflict. One of the many drawbacks of the demonising rhetoric indulged in by the incoming US National Security Adviser Susan Rice, and William Hague, is that it rules out serious negotiations and compromise with the powers-that-be in Damascus. And since Assad controls most of Syria, Rice and Hague have devised a recipe for endless war while pretending humanitarian concern for the Syrian people.

In the midst of all this confusion and pretense over humanitarian concerns comes a report from the Hudson Institute highlighting the horrendous toll the conflict has taken on Syria’s Christian population. The report documents, among other things, deaths of priests, though here again there is some suspicious timing. On June 25, two days after the murder of Father Murad, a pair of congressional subcommittees held a joint hearing on the issue of “Religious Minorities in Syria: Caught in the Middle.” This is the subject of the Hudson Institute’s report, or more specifically the report focuses on the testimony given at the hearing by one of the institute’s chief researchers on the plight of Syria’s Christians.

Such a report becomes all the more remarkable when you consider that the Hudson Institute basically could be thought of as a neocon think tank. Its senior vice president is Lewis “Scooter” Libby, while Douglas Feith is listed as a senior fellow. Is there not something strange about a report documenting rebel atrocities against Syrian Christians being released by such an organization? Doesn’t Israel want to see Assad overthrown, and haven’t the Zionist media been feeding us the spin of the rebels, as Cockburn puts it, wearing the “white hats”? What gives?

I’ll have more on this report in an upcoming post, hopefully in a day or two.

July 3, 2013 Posted by | War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Bolivia’s Morales Dissed and Pissed as France, Portugal, and Austria Violate Diplomatic Immunity

By Dave Lindorff | This Can’t Be Happening | July 3, 2013

Those of us who have been saying that the US has become a weak, or at least more ordinary power among many in the world because of its military failures in Iraq and Afghanistan, and because of its economic decline, will have to recalibrate our analysis after watching the pathetic behavior of the leaders of Russia, Germany and France under pressure from the Obama administration not to allow Edward Snowden to gain asylum in those countries or even to escape his purgatory in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport.

Last night, in an astonishing display of fawning obedience to the demands of US leaders, France and Germany first announced that they would not grant asylum to Snowden, despite broad popular support by French and German people for such an offer of aid to the embattled whistleblower. Then, France and Portugal abruptly refused to allow a Bolivian aircraft carrying the country’s president, Evo Morales, from a state visit with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, to land for refueling in their countries, saying that they were concerned he might be flying Snowden to asylum in Bolivia.

Although Spain said eventually it would allow the Morales plane to refuel in the Canary Islands, it did not have enough fuel to get there and had to be diverted to Vienna, where, astonishingly, it was then searched like a drug-smuggling flight over Bolivian protests. Snowden was not aboard. A furious Morales immediately blamed the US Department of State for the whole incident — a charge that no one has disputed, though of course the US is refusing to comment.

Aircraft carrying national leaders have absolute diplomatic immunity under international law and moreover, Bolivia would have the absolute right to grant Snowden amnesty, and to bring him to its territory, whether or not he had a valid passport. As the leader of a sovereign nation, Morales has every right to carry anyone he wants on his plane with him back to his country.

Bolivian President Evo Morales, forced under US pressure to land in Vienna to have his returning plane searched for Snowden, calls the blocking of his flight from Russia to Bolivia a “kidnapping,” and “act of aggression” and an “offense against all the whole Latin region.”

That France, Portugal and Austria would so violate such basic diplomatic rules suggests that the US (which of course has long demonstrated that it views diplomatic rules and international law as applying only to others, but not itself) has some powerful leverage to exert behind the scenes. The more so because this whole incident makes leaders like French President Francois Hollande, who only the day before had suggested his country might consider Snowden’s asylum appeal, look foolish, and because this aggressive and hostile action taken against the leader of a sovereign nation makes France, as well as Portugal and Italy, look pathetic and ridiculous at a time that public sentiment across Europe is solidly in support of Snowden. (An activist friend in Germany reports that sentiment there in support of Snowden and even of granting him asylum is “probably at about 80%,” and that is probably also true in France.)

This latest incident, which has incredibly not been protested either by Russia’s Putin, from whose country the disrupted flight originated, and who was Morales’ official host, also exposes Putin and Russia as being under America’s thumb. Who could have imagined Putin allowing a meeting of leaders in his own country to be so shamed by US intervention involving diversion and impoundment of a foreign leader’s return flight home without a loud protest and even some counter action. At a minimum the US ambassador should have been called in to be tongue-lashed by the Russian president. Yet even Russian state television station RT-TV, in its report on the halting of Morales’ plane and the unprecedented search of a state leader’s plane in Austria, carried no comment from Putin or the Russian government on the insult and outrage.

Has the US, with its incomprehensibly massive spy network, just demonstrated that it now has a power greater than its nuclear arsenal: a dossier perhaps on almost every leader in the world with which it is able to blackmail even the likes of Hollande, Merkel and Putin? It is hard to come up with another explanation for the way this incident played out.

We will have to see now whether Morales, a popular leader from an impoverished indigenous background who is clearly no coward and who is probably too clean to be blackmailed, will make good on his assertion made in Moscow that Snowden would be welcome in Bolivia. Russia could recover a modicum of its self-respect by flying him there on a Russian plane to avoid similar US-orchestrated interference. Venezuela’s new president, Nicolás Maduro, who has also spoken favorably of granting asylum status to the National Security Agency whistleblower, should also step up at this point. Since he is still in Russia, he could offer to bring Snowden back home with him, and dare the nations of Europe to try and stop him.

Europeans are pissed off already at the US, in the wake of National Security Agency leaker Snowden’s latest revelation that the US was aggressively spying on its European allies, both at their and the European Union’s embassies in Washington, and in Europe itself, gleaning not information about terrorism, but inside-track knowledge about trade negotiation positions and other areas of disagreement or negotiation.

Leaders in Germany, France, Italy, and other European countries are demanding that the US cease its spying on them, and give a “full accounting” of the spying that it has been engaging in. But given the steady stream of lies coming from the NSA, the Obama Administration, Secretary of State John Kerry, and other American sources, why should they believe anything they are being told? Most Europeans understand now that all this bluster from their leaders is just that: bluster.

Europe’s leaders have shown themselves to their own people to be sell-outs in the pocket of the US. As several commenters on the website of the German magazine Der Spiegel, which last week ran a cover expose about the NSA spying program directed against European leaders, have written, Germany’s and France’s leaders have sold out their countries and people by caving in to US demands. As one person wrote: “Our government has sold us out and is beyond help.”

To be sure there was a wave of tough talk only days earlier, with, for example, Martin Schulz, the president of the European parliament, saying that the NSA is like the Soviet-era KGB, and with leaders of countries like Ireland and Norway saying that they might consider amnesty for Snowden, but only if he could reach their soil first — a ludicrous requirement, since there is no international law requiring such silliness. Any country can grant asylum to any person it wishes, wherever that person may be at the moment. They cannot offer protection, of course, except in an embassy or in-country, but that’s different from just offering a grant of amnesty. Indeed, the mere fact that the US has cancelled Snowden’s passport doesn’t mean his passport cannot be respected as a travel document by another country. How, in fact, when you think about it, would a country know that a person’s passport had been “cancelled” unless the issuing nation had issued some kind of news release about it as the US did in Snowden’s case? There’s no international registry of global passports. Those records are held closely by each country and in fact are supposed to be secure. Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Norway, Ireland or any other country that had said at any point that it would be willing to accept Snowden, could stamp their visa on his passport and accept him on their planes. (Even the US Passport Office accepts an old, expired passport as an identity document when one is applying for a new one.)

After this abject display of rank servitude in the interest of the US Imperium by some of Europe’s most powerful nations, if little Bolivia and/or Venezuela don’t step up and show Europe how sovereign nations are supposed to act, it will be up to the people of Europe and Latin America to act.

Already, Latin nations seem to be rallying, with protests across the continent, and with Argentina’s President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa, and Cuba’s retired leader Fidel Castro expressing anger at the diversion of the Morales plane. An “urgent” Latin American leadership meeting is planned over the crisis, and if it is not just talk, this could indicate that the US may have overstepped in insulting a region that has been growing increasingly assertive about resisting US diktats.

Certainly, following the latest revelations in the Guardian, Der Spiegel, and elsewhere showing that the NSA has been vacuuming up data on millions of Europeans, and with former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden stating publicly that the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution — the one that at least used to protect Americans’ right to privacy and from government search and seizure — “is not an international treaty,” the anger among Europeans at US spying is swelling too, and with it, support for the embattled whistleblower Snowden.

We can only hope that the revelations of outrageous US intelligence abuses and violation of Europeans’ privacy rights will continue, that the rage against the US among ordinary European citizens will grow. We can only hope that with that growing rage, a desire to stick it to the US by protecting Snowden will grow too, until some European leader finally sees it as a popular or necessary move to offer him asylum.

This latest abomination in the treatment of Bolivia and its leader, which has shamed France, Portugal, Austria, Italy and Russia, will be a great test of how angry the peoples of those countries are about their leaders’ servile behavior towards the US.

Of course, we in the US should be the most outraged of all, but sadly, there is probably even less chance that a majority Americans will get angry at all this than that Europeans will.

July 3, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dundee church survives block’s demolition


The direction of collapse was controlled by more than 10,000 detonators and delays.

Note the top of the second building is not destroyed by the demolition – when it reaches ground level the remaining solid building simply falls over.

The Dundee demolition shows that the suggestion that fires could collapse WTC 7 perfectly into its footprint is ludicrous.

July 3, 2013 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular, Video | | Comments Off on Dundee church survives block’s demolition


By Sherwood Ross | July 3, 2013

Just as President Obama disgracefully used Martin Luther King’s Bible at his Inauguration to tie himself to the great pacifist civil rights leader, so this totalitarian-minded, warmonger president claimed in South Africa Sunday to have been inspired by Nelson Mandela, whose legacy he said “we must all honor in our own lives.” Coming from an American president linked so intimately to the CIA as is Mr. Obama, this declaration is laughable. It was the CIA, after all, that fingered Mr. Mandela, then head of the African National Congress, to BOSS, the country’s secret police, who, acting on the CIA’s tip, arrested Mandela and clapped him in the notorious Robben Island prison for 18 years. Yes, that was the very same prison Mr. Obama toured with his family this week, his face reflecting a mournful aspect, as he allegedly contemplated the suffering Mr. Mandela endured to liberate his country from the white apartheid regime.

In his book about the CIA, “Legacy of Ashes”, former New York Times man Tim Weiner writes, “The African National Congress leader, Nelson Mandela, had been arrested and imprisoned in 1962, thanks in part to the CIA.” Weiner pointed out the CIA “worked in the closest harmony” with South Africa’s BOSS. Weiner quotes Gerry Gossens, a CIA station chief in four nations during the administrations of Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Carter, stating that CIA officers stood “side-by-side with the security police in South Africa. The word was that they had fingered Mandela himself.”

And has Mr. Obama done anything on his watch to reform the CIA? No way! Not only does he not prosecute those CIA agents guilty of torture and murder but by his own admission he personally directs the CIA thugs who kidnap and/or assassinate suspects with no due process of law. As of now, the Pakistan government reports at least 400 civilians have been killed in the attacks, the most recent horror being 17 killed on July 3 in a Pakistan drone strike.

A Grand Canyon-sized chasm looms between the principles of Mandela and Obama. When Mandela assumed power he created a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate crimes committed by the former apartheid government. Just the opposite, President Obama says he will not investigate the CIA torturers who plied their grisly trade under President George W. Bush. No Grand Dragon in America’s Klans ever left the wide swath of murder and mayhem that Mr. Obama is creating in the Middle East and Africa while he poses as an admirer of Rev. King and Mandela. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Obama’s drone attacks alone have killed more than 3,500. Since none had the opportunity of a trial, the presumption must be all were innocent.

As for civil rights, when Mandela held office he pressed for an American style Bill of Rights for South Africa as opposed to Mr. Obama, who has been actively shredding that venerable document. An army of NSA snoops has been spying on Americans by the millions as well as on the conversations of the Associated Press, a blatant attack on freedom of the press. Obama has also signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law which allows the president to order the military to arrest any person on suspicion and jail them indefinitely without even a trial. Again, that’s the opposite of the Mandela approach to individual freedom. Speaking of freedom, even as Mr. Obama brays he is “deeply honored” to visit Mandela’s cell on Robben Island, he operates a Gulag today of cells stretching from Guantanamo to Afghanistan and beyond. Having spent weeks with MLK in the civil rights movement in the South, this reporter can say without fear of contradiction that the thug in the White House is no Martin Luther King. On the contrary—with his sneaky, secret, extra-judicial attacks and murders—President Obama today carries on the traditions associated with the Ku Klux Klan.


Sherwood Ross spent most of the Sixties active in the civil rights movement or activities related to civil rights. Reach him at

July 3, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

PCHR slams immunity for Israel army chief on UK visit


Aftermath of an Israeli air strike on the building of Hamas’ Ministry of Interior in Gaza City Nov. 16, 2012
Ma’an – 03/07/2013

BETHLEHEM – The Palestinian Center for Human Rights on Tuesday condemned a decision by the United Kingdom to grant immunity to Israel’s army chief while visiting the country.

Lt. General Benny Gantz, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, arrived in the UK on Tuesday, in the first visit of an Israeli army chief since 1998.

The UK government granted Gantz’s trip the status of Special Mission, thus granting him immunity from the UK’s criminal justice system, PCHR said.

Hickman & Rose Solicitors, who represent the victims of General Gantz’s actions together with PCHR, said the decision “sends the dangerous message that political considerations will be placed ahead of the rule of law.”

“Credible evidence exists indicating Mr. Gantz’s involvement in the commission of war crimes: these allegations should be investigated and, if appropriate, Mr. Gantz should be prosecuted,” PCHR said.

“He should not be pre-emptively granted immunity by the UK Government, circumventing normal criminal justice procedures.”

Lt. General Gantz is suspected of involvement in the commission of war crimes, particularly with respect to his role in the November 2012 assault on the Gaza Strip, codenamed Operation Pillar of Defense, PCHR says.

A week earlier, the UK government also applied Special Mission status to the visit of Major General Doron Almog, a retired army official suspected of war crimes, granting him immunity from Britain’s criminal justice system.

Mr. Almog canceled his scheduled UK visit at the last minute for unknown reasons.

In 2005, a British court issued an arrest warrant for Major General Doron Almog in relation to the destruction of 59 Palestinian homes in Rafah refugee camp in 2002 as part of a sustained policy of house demolitions in Gaza, PCHR said.

British police were preparing to arrest Almog on suspicion of war crimes after he and his wife flew to the United Kingdom in 2005, but he refused to leave his plane at Heathrow airport following a tip-off about the arrest warrant and was allowed to return to Israel.

The decision to grant immunity to both Israeli officials “sends the clear message that Israel can commit war crimes in the Gaza Strip with impunity,” PCHR said.

There is a risk, the group said, that Special Missions will be used to protect allies of the government and undermine the “basic principle of equal application of the law and the UK’s international legal obligation to seek out and prosecute suspected war criminals.”

July 3, 2013 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

‘Act of aggression’: Bolivia to file UN complaint over airspace blockade

RT | July 3, 2013

‘An act of aggression and violation of international law’ is how Bolivia’s UN envoy described Austria’s decision to search the Bolivian presidential jet for NSA leaker Edward Snowden. The envoy has pledged to make an official complaint to the UN.

Read the full story on the presidential plane grounding and follow RT’s live updates on NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Envoy Sacha Llorentty Soliz told press in New York that he had no doubt the decision to search the plane originated from the US.

Austrian authorities grounded Bolivian President Evo Morales’ plane in Vienna early on Wednesday morning due to suspicions that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was on board. Morales refuted speculation that Snowden had stowed away on the plane and allowed authorities to conduct a search.

“Our colleagues from the airport had a look and can give assurances that no one is on board who is not a Bolivian citizen,” Austrian Deputy Chancellor Michael Spindelegger told press, saying rumors that Snowden might be on board were untrue.

The move to detain the presidential plane triggered a wave of furious rhetoric from Latin American leaders who alleged it had been “kidnapped by imperialism.”

Morales called on the countries who had cancelled air permits for the presidential flight to explain their decision.

“The governments of France, Spain and Portugal must explain to the world the reasons behind this delay,” said Morales, adding that these actions were indicative of the “repressive policies” of some EU countries.

“This is an excuse to try and frighten, intimidate and punish me. An excuse to try and gag us in the fight against the dominant economic powers,” said Morales.

Morales finally flew out of Vienna on Wednesday morning after being detained for over 12 hours in the airport. He will stop of in the Canary Islands to refuel before flying on to La Paz, the capital of Bolivia.

July 3, 2013 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , | 1 Comment