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Non-Aligned Movement Backs Venezuela against US Sanctions

teleSUR | February 8, 2015

The Non-Aligned Movement issued a statement Saturday rejecting the latest set of sanctions imposed by the United States against Venezuelan officials.

The 120-nation body described the sanctions as “intended to undermine Venezuela’s sovereignty, its political independence and its right to self-determination.”

The U.S. government announced a new set of sanctions last week which target former and current Venezuelan officials. The U.S. has justified various rounds of sanctions by claiming corruption and that human rights abuses occurred in the oil-rich county during a wave of opposition violence last year that left 43 dead.

However, the Venezuelan government has pointed out the sanctions are politically motivated and that they form part of U.S. plans to oust the country’s elected government, given that the overwhelming majority of the 43 fatalities were caused by right-wing extremists.

The Non-Aligned Movement considers the unilateral sanctions a “violation of international law, including the United Nations Charter and the basic principles of international law of relations between states.”

Furthermore, the group of nations considered the measure “coercive” and manifested its solidarity with the Venezuelan people and their government.

The UNASUR group of South American nations also rejected the sanctions and will launch a probe to evaluate Venezuela’s evidence of U.S. meddling in the country’s internal affairs.

February 9, 2015 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | 1 Comment

Latin America’s Mass Murderers to Be Tried in Italian Court

teleSUR | February 8, 2015

After decades of impunity, those responsible for the wave of political violence that swept Latin America under the dictatorships of 1970s and 1980s will be tried in court this week in Rome, Italy.

Thirty-three people have been formally charged for their links to the operation, which left 50,000 people dead, 30,000 disappeared, and 400,000 jailed.

Among those killed were 23 Italian citizens, which is why Italy’s justice system is now ruling on the case, opened in 1999.

Operation Condor was a coordinated political assassination and persecution plan drafted in the 1970s by South American military dictatorships, with the help of foreign governments. It sought to eliminate any resistance or political rivals, mostly targeting left-wing groups.

The military chiefs of participating countries were provided with a command center by the United States, located in Panama, through which they could communicate and share intelligence on their victims. Declassified U.S. documents show the government knew about the operation but still continued to back the military dictatorships.

Evidence suggests that the beginning of the operation coincided with a visit made by Manuel Contreras – then Chile’s intelligence chief – to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Several researchers believe that U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was involved in the assassination scheme.

French intelligence agents were also part of the operation and helped the South American military chiefs to implement many of the counterinsurgency tactics that France had used against the Algerian resistance.

The Italian court is not expecting the former military chiefs and politicians to attend the hearing, although it has given them the possibility to do so through a video conference.

Among the people charged are 11 former military junta members from Chile, 16 from Uruguay, four from Peru, and one from Bolivia.

Former Bolivian President Luis Garcia Meza has also been accused by the Attorney Giancarlo Capaldo, however he has not been charged given that he has not yet responded to the formal notification against him.

The trial will take place inside Rebbibia prison and will be presided over by Judge Evelina Canale and Judge Paolo Colella.

February 9, 2015 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Careful what you say: Your Samsung TV might be listening

RT | February 9, 2015

Samsung has come under fire from privacy campaigners after it emerged the company’s new smart TVs are capable of listening to your conversations.

Viewers hoping to take advantage of the voice activation feature have been warned by Samsung not to disclose personal information because voice recordings can be captured and transmitted to unidentified third parties.

Privacy campaigners have compared the TV sets to ‘telescreens’ – televisions which also act as surveillance cameras in George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984. Electronic Frontier Foundation activist Park Higgins compared Samsung’s privacy policy to the famous book in a tweet on Sunday. It has already received 14,000 retweets.

Samsung insists it takes consumer privacy seriously, but did not name the third party which translates speech to text.

The issue was first highlighted by the Daily Beast, which warned readers not to talk about incriminating matters such as “tax evasion” and “drug use” in front their TV sets.

Hidden away in Samsung’s privacy policy is a single sentence which may change the way you behave in front of your TV: “Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party.”

The privacy policy goes on to warn: “In addition, Samsung may collect and capture voice commands and associated texts so that we can provide you with Voice Recognition features and evaluate and improve the features.”

The technology is designed to enable viewers to control their TV by using only their voice.

Even viewers who do not activate the voice recognition feature are still at risk of being snooped on, as the machine continues to collect data through its microphones. The only way to stop a Samsung smart TV from eavesdropping on your conversation is to disable voice recognition data collection in the settings menu.

Samsung claims it collects transcribed voice data in order to improve the technology’s features.

An investigation last year by consumer magazine Which? found that smart TVs made by LG, Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, and Toshiba track people’s viewing habits – something consumers agree to when they accept the TV’s terms and conditions.

Users who choose not to accept their TV’s terms and conditions may end up reverting to a not-so-smart television. While Toshiba and LG block internet access and apps, Samsung reportedly stops customers from using the TV at all.

Sony is the only manufacturer which blocks the tracking of television usage without restricting other functions.

Samsung has responded to the public backlash against its privacy policy, claiming it takes such concerns “very seriously.”

“If a consumer consents and uses the voice recognition feature, voice data is provided to a third party during a requested voice command search. At that time, the voice data is sent to a server, which searches for the requested content then returns the desired content to the TV,” the company said.

February 9, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bahrain suspends ‘independent’ news network for ‘failing to fight terrorism’

RT | February 9, 2015

Bahrain has justified shutting down a new pan-Arabic news channel, saying it had no license and gave a voice to terrorists. Al-Arab was taken off the air last week after it broadcast an interview with an opposition politician hours after its launch.

“The Information Affairs Authority (IAA) announces the suspension of Al-Arab satellite channel following its failure to obtain the required licensing approval to commence broadcasting in Bahrain,” said a statement about the Saudi-owned operation. “The IAA emphasizes that the channel had also failed to match the standards of regional and international practice agreements, to take account of efforts aimed at stemming the tide of extremism and terrorism throughout the region and the wider world.”

The state’s media watchdog insisted that “the decision has no impact upon principles of media freedom and it is strictly based on the government’s commitment to ensuring the diversity and impartiality of media outlets in the kingdom.”

The channel stopped broadcasting hours after it was officially launched on February 1, citing “technical and administrative reasons.” The programming was interrupted soon after Al-Arab interviewed Khalil Al-Marzooq from the opposition Al Wefaq Shiite party, whose leader Sheikh Ali Salman was arrested late last year. Al-Marzooq spent his appearance criticizing the government for stripping the citizenship of 72 Bahrainis the day before, for alleged terrorist activity. Marzooq claimed the decision was politically motivated and made without a fair trial.

The state-approved Akhbar Al-Khaleej newspaper wrote a scathing editorial against Al-Arab on Monday, timed to coincide with the suspension.

“Resorting to muscle flexing and allegations in the name of freedom of speech or free broadcasting will harm you in the eyes of Arab spectators faster than you can imagine. More than that, it could signal that your failure began when you were born,” read the text in the country’s oldest news outlet.

Al-Arab was established by Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal Al-Saud, a US-educated member of Saudi Arabia’s ruling clan, who has a Forbes-estimated fortune of $23.5 billion – much of it invested in Western stocks, such as News Corp and Citigroup. In what may have been a miscalculation, Riyadh’s ally, Bahrain, was chosen as the broadcasting site due to its relatively more liberal media regime, compared to Saudi Arabia – where the prince is regarded as something of an iconoclast, and independent channels are forbidden.

Even after the interruption of the initial broadcast, officials at Bahrain’s information ministry said there were “ongoing” negotiations to resume the broadcasts of the lavishly funded channel, which planned to employ 280 editorial staff and operate 30 bureaus around the world. It is still possible that Al-Arab will return to the screen, even if not with its original editorial team, as no term has been stipulated for the suspension.

Al-Waleed Bin Talal and members of his channel’s editorial team have not publicly responded to media requests to clarify the future of Al-Arab.

Bahrain, a small island that has been ruled by the Sunni House of Khalifa from the 18th century onwards, has been plagued by instability since 2011, with many of the simmering protests coming from the politically underrepresented Shia majority.

February 9, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 1 Comment

UK MPs call for internet ban on ‘anti-Semitism’

BBC | February 9, 2015

Social media users who spread racial hatred should be banned from sites such as Twitter and Facebook, MPs say.

The All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into anti-Semitism wants prosecutors to examine whether prevention orders like those used to restrict sex offenders’ internet access could be used.

The cross-party group also highlighted the use of anti-Semitic terms online.

Last week, a Community Security Trust report said UK anti-Semitic incidents more than doubled to 1,168 in 2014. […]

The report said: “There is an allowance in the law for banning or blocking individuals from certain aspects of internet communication in relation to sexual offences.

“Informal feedback we have received from policy experts indicates that this is a potential area of exploration for prosecutors in relation to hate crime.

“If it can be proven in a detailed way that someone has made a considered and determined view to exploit various online networks to harm and perpetrate hate crimes against others then the accepted principles, rules and restrictions that are relevant to sex offences must surely apply.”

The report also said there was an “unacceptable rise in anti-Semitic incidents” in July and August last year.

It added: “It is for non-Jews to speak out and lead the fight against anti-Semitism with strong action.”

It also called for:

  • A government fund to be set up to cover the costs of security at synagogues
  • Fresh research on identifying and explaining anti-Semitic language
  • Guidance for teachers on how to handle the Middle East conflict in the classroom

Full article


All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into anti-Semitism

By Ruth Tenne | Palestine Chronicle | April 17, 2007

A recent article in The Jewish Chronicle (29 March 2007) reports that “concern over increasing Anti-Semitism in Britain is reflected in the government’s broad acceptance of the grim conclusions of last year’s Parliamentary inquiry into hatred directed at the Jewish community”. It goes on to say that “In a 20-page command paper that will be presented to Parliament, ministers have backed action on the majority of the inquiry’s recommendations and expressed understanding of communal anxieties” […]

Unfortunately, The All Party Inquiry into anti-Semitism and the Government’s follow-up recommendations fail to recognize that a multi-racial and multi-faith society ought to have a coordinated and consistent policy whereby no ethnic or, religious, group, should be considered in isolation from other such groups. Thus, an inquiry into anti-Semitism which singles out one particular religion may constitute an unwelcome precedent that may lead to undesirable, if not harmful, effects. Moreover, the follow-up report takes a dangerous step by stating that rhetoric about Israel and Zionism, “from the far right to the far left and Islamic extremists alike, employs anti-Semitic motifs that are consistent with ancient forms of hatred towards Jews”

This seems to suggest that peace organizations and activists who criticize Israel may be under the danger of being subjected to a witch hunt reminiscent of McCarthyism and the un-American activities campaign of the 50s. A similar danger equally applies to universities where the report points out that anti-Semitic activities are “all the more regrettable for occurring in places where [Jewish students] should be free to study unhindered by prejudice and harassment”.

The above statement is clearly inflammatory and opens the way to accusations and counter- accusations against any political and social activity on the campus which is deemed to be undesirable by Jewish students or the Union of Jewish Students. This may also legitimize the imposition of pressure on academic lecturers who seem to criticize Israel’s policies. Such an example could be seen by the recent pronouncements of the UJS and the Jewish Board of Deputies against the appointment of the reputable Israeli historian -Ilan Pappe – to the Chair of the History Department at Exeter University. The Chief Executive of the Board has recently told TotalyJewish.com that “after taking full advantage of all the freedoms accorded to him in Israel, a country he has so shamelessly attacked, Pappe has decided to set up shop here. …. the uncomfortable fact is that in the lecture theatres and seminar rooms at Exeter, many impressionable young minds will be exposed to his partial and biased views.”

Similar, though more harsh and dangerous, precedents take place in USA where academics who express critical views of Israel’s policies are hounded and, on occasion, lose their posts due to unacceptable pressure from the Jewish lobby there. The vile campaign and attempts by the pro-Israeli lobby to prevent the granting of tenure to Professor Norman Finkelstein – who is a staunch critic of Israel’s constant violation of human rights – is a case in point.

Sadly, various forms of harassment by Israel’s apologists are quite wide-spread in Britain. In the course of my work with peace organisations in Britain I encountered, along with my colleagues, the phenomenon of “reverse anti-Semitism”- namely, being claimed to be anti-Semite by Jewish groups and individuals who could not tolerate the fact that a Jew, or an Israeli like myself, is prepared to criticize Israel’s policies and its treatment of the Palestinians. […]

If the Government chooses to ignore the political and social marginalization of the Muslim community, and to regard the views of Israel’s critics as being an implicit form of anti-Semitism, it may face the danger of engendering a perilous and inexcusable rift in Britain’s pluralist society. Such a policy may stand in a stark contrast to the Government’s declared efforts of “wining the hearts and minds” of disaffected communities and their members. – Full article

February 9, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, War Crimes | , , , | 4 Comments

Israel lobby: Attendance mandatory at Netanyahu speech

Press TV – February 9, 2015

Several pro-Israel lobby groups in the United States have threatened to “publicly condemn” Democrats who plan to skip the Israeli prime minister’s speech about Iran before Congress next month.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s well-funded Jewish conservative backers say they may use their funds to draw attention in the districts and states of any Democratic lawmaker who is not at the US Capitol to listen to Netanyahu on March 3.

Netanyahu has been invited by House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner to address a joint session of Congress to speak about the “threat” of Iran’s nuclear energy program.

“This is, I think, a critical visit by the prime minister. If these Democrats would rather put partisan politics ahead of principle and walk out on the prime minister of Israel, then we have an obligation to make that known,” said Matt Brooks, the executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, a political lobbying group which promotes Jewish Republicans.

“We will commit whatever resources we need to make sure that people are aware of the facts,” Brooks said. He did not specify what methods this campaign would use, but promised that his group would do whatever it can.

Other Zionist organizations are sending similar messages. “We will, of course, be publicly condemning any Democrats who don’t show up for the speech, unless they have a doctor’s note,” said Mort Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, a prominent pro-Israel group with 30,000 members.

“It’s really an anti-American, anti-patriotic position to take,” Klein added.

AIPAC, the largest pro-Israel lobby in the US, is encouraging members of Congress to attend the speech, although the group also has reservations because it is turning into a partisan event.

Growing criticism over Netanyahu speech

Democrats are angry over the Boehner’s invitation of the Israeli premier, which was planned without the knowledge of the Obama administration.

The event will take place just two weeks before the Israeli elections, which is seen by the White House and senior Democrats as particularly manipulative. The White House has called the invitation a breach of protocol.

President Barack Obama would not meet with Netanyahu during his trip to Washington, according to the White House. Vice President Joe Biden’s office also confirmed on Friday that he would not be present during Netanyahu’s speech.

It seems Netanyahu plans to go ahead with the trip despite growing criticism both in Israel and the United States. The Israeli prime minister says he will address Congress to lobby against a “bad and dangerous” nuclear deal with Iran.

Iran and the P5+1 group – the US, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany – are in talks to narrow their differences and pave the way for a final, long-term nuclear accord.

The Republican-controlled Congress, however, is pushing a new round of sanctions on Iran, despite the veto threat from the White House and warnings that additional sanctions at this juncture risked derailing the nuclear talks.

Iran argues that as a committed signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

February 9, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 1 Comment

International Solidarity Movement honors Kayla Mueller

International Solidarity Movement | February 9, 2015

460_0___10000000_0_0_0_0_0_kmuellerOccupied Palestine – Kayla Mueller volunteered with the International Solidarity Movement from August to September of 2010.

On 4 August 2013 Kayla, 26, originally from Prescott, Arizona, was working with Syrian refugees when she was kidnapped after leaving a Spanish Doctors Without Borders hospital in Aleppo. Since that time she has been held in captivity by Da’esh (ISIS). This information was not previously released publicly out of concerns for her safety. On February 6th, Da’esh announced that she had been killed by Jordanian airstrikes in Raqqa, northern Syria. The validity of their announcement has not been confirmed.

Our hearts are with Kayla, her family, friends, and all those who have lost liberty, lives and loved ones in the global struggle for freedom and human rights.

With the ISM, Kayla worked with Palestinians nonviolently resisting the confiscation and demolitions of their homes and lands. In the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Occupied East Jerusalem, she stayed with the Al Kurd family to try and prevent the takeover of their home by Israeli settlers.

Kayla accompanied Palestinian children to school in the neighborhood of Tel Ruimeda in Al-Khalil (Hebron) where the children face frequent attacks by the Israeli settlers and military. She stayed with villagers in Izbat Al Tabib in a protest tent to try to prevent the demolition of homes in the village. She joined weekly Friday protests in Palestinian villages against the confiscation of their lands due to Israel’s illegal annexation wall and settlements.

Kayla published writing online about her work in Palestine with the International Solidarity Movement in August and September 2010. “How can I ignore the blessing of freedom of speech when I know that people I deeply care for can be shot dead for it?” she wrote.

Below are excerpts from two of Kayla’s posts.

October 29, 2010:

“I could tell a few stories about running desperately from what you pray are rubber-coated steel bullets launched from the gun tip of a reckless and frightened 18-year old.”

“I could tell a few stories about sleeping in front of half demolished buildings waiting for the one night when the bulldozers come to finish them off; fearing sleep because you don’t know what could wake you. . . . I could tell a few stories about walking children home from school because settlers next door are keen to throw stones, threaten and curse at them. Seeing the honest fear in young boys eyes when heavily armed settlers arise from the outpost; pure fear, frozen from further steps, lip trembling.”

“The smell and taste of tear gas has lodged itself in the pores of my throat and the skin around my nose, mouth and eyes. It still burns when I close them. It still hangs in the air like invisible fire burning the oxygen I breathe. When I cry tears for this land, my eyes still sting. This land that is beautiful as the poetry of the mystics. This land with the people who’s hearts are more expansive than any wall that any man could ever build. Yes, the wall will fall. The nature of impermanence is our greatest ally and soon the rules will change, the tide will turn and just as the moon waxes and wanes over this land so too the cycles of life here will continue. One day the cycle will once again return to freedom.”

“Oppression greets us from all angles. Oppression wails from the soldiers radio and floats through tear gas clouds in the air. Oppression explodes with every sound bomb and sinks deeper into the heart of the mother who has lost her son. But resistance is nestled in the cracks in the wall, resistance flows from the minaret 5 times a day and resistance sits quietly in jail knowing its time will come again. Resistance lives in the grieving mother’s wails and resistance lives in the anger at the lies broadcasted across the globe. Though it is sometimes hard to see and even harder sometimes to harbor, resistance lives. Do not be fooled, resistance lives.” 

On New Year’s Day of 2011, Kayla received news that Jawaher Abu Rahma, from the village of Bil’in where Kayla had demonstrated in solidarity with her and her family, had been killed by tear gas asphyxiation. On the first of January 2011, Kayla wrote:

“I felt compelled to blog on this today. The first day of 2011, the actual day that she died, just a few hours ago in a village called, Bil’in.”

“Every Friday in Bil’in villagers and international/Israel activists march to the barbed wire fence where an enormous and expanding illegal settlement is visible to protest the theft of their land and their livelihoods. The Palestinians are armed with rocks, the other activists with cameras and collectively they are armed with their bones. Each Friday the demonstration is met with violence; rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas and sounds bombs are the usual choice of artillery. Lives are taken as a result of the violence and Jawaher Abu Rahmah’s life was taken today.

I have been to this village,

I demonstrated in this village,

I demonstrated arm in arm with her brothers,

and I knew her.”

……………

“My first demonstration in Palestine was in Bil’in and that is when I met Ashraf, Jawaher’s brother. Despite his broken English he always made a point to make sure we were ok when we were at the demonstration in his village, to help us cough up the tear gas and walk off the anxiety. He showed us his village and we played with the kids. Ashraf would bring us water or tea and help us find rides out of the village back to the cities. In the summer of 2008, Ashraf was participating in the demonstration and was detained by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). After he was blind-folded and his hands bound, an IDF soldier shot him in the foot from a distance of about 2 meters shattering his toes and leaving him in trauma as one could imagine.”

(As with all of these video clips, the content may be too graphic for some, please use discretion).

“Just the next year in 2009 Ashraf’s brother, Bassem Abu Rahma, was participating in the demonstration and was attempting to communicate with the IDF soldiers telling them to stop shooting the steel-coated rubber bullets as an Israeli activist had been shot in the leg and needed medical attention. Not soon after an Israeli soldier illegally used a tear gas canister as a bullet hitting Bassem in the chest, stopping his heart and killing him instantly.”

And now just today, the daughter of the Rahmah family, Jawaher, has been asphyxiated from tear gas inhalation. Jawaher was not even participating in the weekly demonstration but was in her home approximately 500 meters away from where the tear gas canisters were being fired (by wind the tear gas reaches the village and even the nearby illegal settlement often). There is currently little information as to how she suffocated but the doctor that attended her said a mixture of the tear gas from the IDF soldiers and phosphorus poisoned her lungs causing asphyxiation, the stopping of the heart and death this afternoon after fighting for her life last night in the hospital. The following is a clip from today showing hundreds of Palestinians, Israelis and international activist carrying her body to her families home where they said their final goodbyes.

“This family has a tragic story, but it is the story of life in Palestine.”

“Thank you for reading. Ask me questions and ask yourself questions but most importantly, question the answers.

Forever in solidarity,

Kayla”

February 9, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bahraini exiles test Britain’s policy on statelessness

By Alastair Sloan | MEMO | February 9, 2015

The Al-Khalifa monarchy in Bahrain recently stripped over 70 exiled activists of their citizenship, eight of whom live in Britain. In 2012, they did something similar, stripping 31 human rights and pro-democracy activists of Bahraini citizenship, 11 of them living in the UK. These new exiles are testing Britain’s policy on statelessness.

Bahrain’s move is particularly ironic because much of its state security apparatus is made up of mercenary enforcers and interrogators from Pakistan, Yemen, Syria and Jordan. All have been given Bahraini citizenship, housing and salaries by the regime in return for their role in the torture, humiliation and shooting of peaceful pro-democracy protesters.

The Al-Khalifas use citizenship as a weapon. It is offered to those who take part in callous oppression, but removed from citizens who call for democracy.

This latest move was choreographed carefully to coincide with the confiscation of passports from preachers and fighters associated with ISIS. Thus the authorities have conflated the two movements in a clumsy smear.

The British charity Asylum Aid has been conducting wide-ranging research into the negative impacts of statelessness, interviewing stateless persons in Britain who have been destitute for months. They have been detained by the UK immigration authorities despite evidence that they have no prospect of returning to their home country, or that they have been separated for years from their families overseas. Some have been forced to sleep on the streets. Many have seen their accommodation and support cancelled repeatedly and then reinstated. In the absence of a dedicated and accessible procedure to identify people who are stateless, they have been left in a legal limbo for years.

In a rare moment of progressive policy making, Britain has taken steps recently to address the problem of statelessness. Across the European Union, approximately 600,000 quasi-citizens are estimated to be stateless. The UK is so far the only EU member to implement substantive measures to assimilate stateless refugees, implementing a specialised asylum procedure from April 2013. Thousands of refugees are currently applying through the official mechanism, with immigration officials deciding each case carefully; it is not a straightforward process.

The British authorities must act to treat the Bahraini exiles stripped of their citizenship on the same basis as other refugees. However, as the repression in Bahrain grows worse, it is becoming increasingly clear that the British government is sticking to its commitment to support the Al-Khalifa regime. As I have reported previously elsewhere, Britain has been accused of harassing, rather than helping, such exiles, often in collusion with the Bahraini government.

In January, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond praised improvements in Bahrain’s human rights record, shortly before the Gulf state jailed its most prominent human rights activist, Nabeel Rajab, for six months. His “crime” was to send an “insulting tweet”. He is currently on bail pending an appeal scheduled for later this week. In July 2014, the Guardian revealed that Hammond had sat next to the Earl of Clanwilliam, a lobbyist for the Bahraini government, at a fundraising dinner for the Conservative Party.

The parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee also lamented the government’s decision not to “bite the bullet” – its own words – by designating Bahrain as a human rights “country of concern” for 2014. “We see little or no evidence that Bahrain has made enough progress in implementing political reform and safeguarding human rights,” the committee judged. Civil society organisations described the British government’s reluctance as a whitewash.

The FCO response was short, disdainful and factually inaccurate. “On the human rights front Bahrain is by no means perfect,” it insisted, “but it is a country that is making progress and its leadership has shown a willingness to engage with the human rights challenges that it faces.”

Research by Bahrain Watch, an NGO which has been tracking progress on the Al-Khalifa government’s alleged reforms, shows that if British officials believe Bahrain to be “making progress”, they are wilfully and obstinately ignorant.

Of the 25 recommendations made to improve human rights in Bahrain after the 2011 uprising, 11 have been violated openly, six have seen no action at all, five have had no details about their progress released by the government, and three have been implemented “partially”. Not a single reform is judged to have been implemented in full.

The leader of the main opposition Al-Wefaq Party, Ali Salman, was arrested recently on what are claimed to be trumped-up charges. He was also slapped with a travel ban just as he was about to embark on “a major European tour, meeting officials, think tanks, civil society leaders, academics and media professionals.”

Despite this, Britain announced recently a significant expansion to its military assets in Manama harbour, with plans for a full-scale naval base. The Royal Navy has deployed small minesweepers out of Bahrain for some years, but when larger vessels visit the port the crews sleep on board; there are limited facilities for such ships. With a naval base, British warships will be able to deploy regularly from Bahrain. The expansion of the base will resume a long term British military presence in the area and mark the end of a 40-year Middle East policy by the government. Controversially, the Bahrain government will foot the bill for building the Royal Navy facilities, effectively buying Britain’s silence over its ongoing human rights abuses.

Britain has a patchy record on human rights, but addressing statelessness has been a more positive example of what can be done. In applying this new policy rigorously and fairly, they must include Bahraini exiles, as they would any other refugee.

February 9, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Chancellor Merkel’s Misguided Guilt Leads to Change in Balance of Power Over Europe

By Anthony Bellchambers | Dissident Voice | February 9, 2015

German-Israeli relations are currently at a low ebb as a result of Israel’s illegal settlement activity that continues to cause anger throughout the EU as it continues with its land grabs in the West Bank and authorises yet more building permits on Palestinian land in violation of international law.

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has a difficult relationship with Israel’s Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu. However, this did not prevent her inexplicable decision to increase to six the supply of nuclear-powered, diesel-electric, AIP Dolphin Class submarines developed and constructed by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG., for the Israeli Navy.

Israel has already modified those war vessels delivered, each now being armed with long-range, (SLCM) cruise missiles equipped with nuclear warheads, plus a maximum of 16 torpedoes: a naval task-force capable of destroying most of the Middle East and Southern Europe. It also gives the Israelis an offshore, second strike, nuclear capability.

Germany, itself, has no such offensive nuclear armament, neither has either France or Britain of such size and power, for Israel is estimated to also possess up to 400 nuclear warheads. All of which means that Merkel has effectively made Israel into the most powerful nuclear weapons state outside of the US and Russia!

The rationale for Merkel’s strategic error in altering the balance of power not only in the Middle East but also in Europe with consequences yet to be determined, is unknown.

It is too late, of course, to reverse her extraordinary decision to deliver a fleet of (now) SLCM-armed, nuclear-equipped, undersea naval vessels to the government of the most contentious piece of land on earth. The damage has been done and the repercussions will ensure dangerous instability – or worse – for decades after Chancellor Merkel has left office.

Anthony, a resident of London, UK, is a long-standing advocate/activist for human and civil rights.

February 9, 2015 Posted by | Militarism | , | 3 Comments

Le Pen says Washington attempting to start ‘war in Europe’

RT | February 9, 2015

The leader of France’s rightwing Front National (FN), Marine Le Pen, has called Brussels “American lackeys” over the EU’s Ukraine policy. She further accused Washington of attempting to start a “war in Europe” and expand NATO towards Russia’s borders.

“European capitals do not have the wisdom to refuse to be dependent on US positions on Ukraine,” Le Pen told French journalists on Sunday.

“Regarding Ukraine, we behave like American lackeys,” she said, before warning that “the aim of the Americans is to start a war in Europe to push NATO to the Russian border.”

She went on to accuse European leaders of turning a blind eye to the Ukrainian government’s “bombing of civilians,” adding that both those in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine believed the country should be federalized.

Le Pen has regularly criticized the EU for its policy on Ukraine and its alleged lack of independence from Washington.

In September, she told Le Monde that the ongoing crisis in Ukraine is “all the European Union’s fault,” saying Brussels had “blackmailed the country to choose between Europe and Russia.”

In June, she similarly told RT’s Sophie Shevardnadze that there were “no independent states left in Europe,” saying many of their foreign policy mistakes in recent times had been made “under Washington’s influence.”

Her words echoed statements by former French Prime minister Francois Fillon, who told the public broadcaster France 5 on Sunday that the United States was attempting to “unleash a war in Europe, which would end in catastrophe.” He added that once a war broke out, the US would attempt to distance itself from it.

“Total war caused [by the] Ukrainian conflict is absolutely unacceptable. And really there is no reason for it,” he said.

Fillon accused the US of suffering from “blindness” and an oversimplified approach to reality, which saw them constantly attempting to “solve all problems by force.”

He further said Washington was always attempting to force others to join its camp, a mistaken approach given that a country like Ukraine has ties to both Europe and Russia.

“The Americans have made one mistake after another and today they have simply been discredited,” said Fillon.

He added that attempting to punish Russia with sanctions was like trying to intimidate a bear with a pin prick. He further commended recent efforts by French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to open a dialogue with Moscow.

“The West is trying to imagine today Russia as a threat to the whole world, while deliberately forgetting that Russia is a large and truly a great country, not to mention a nuclear power,” he said.

“Humiliating Russia is simply unacceptable.”

Also on Saturday, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that Europe was part of “a common civilization with Russia,” saying they needed to avoid conflict on the continent.

“The interests of the Americans with the Russians are not the interests of Europe and Russia,” he said, adding that “we do not want the revival of a Cold War between Europe and Russia.”

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Crisis in Ukraine is ‘all EU’s fault’ – France’s Marine Le Pen

EU lost its foreign policy sovereignty to US – Marine Le Pen to RT

February 9, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

EU lost billions over Russia bans: Spain

Press TV – February 9, 2015

Spain has warned that the European Union has lost billions of euros as a result of the sanctions the bloc has imposed against Russia over Moscow’s alleged role in Ukraine’s crisis.

“Sanctions have had a heavy cost for us all,” Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said in Brussels on Monday.

Spain’s top diplomat added that “the EU has so far lost 21 billion euros ($23.7 billion). In Spain we have been badly hit in terms of agriculture and tourism.”

The figure represented the first account of the monetary loss caused to the EU due to the tough economic sanctions it has been progressively imposing on Russia since July 2014.

On Sunday, nearly 200 farmers went on strike in Spain and abandoned their products in the middle of a road in Catalonia to protest against Western-imposed sanctions against Russia. The farmers dumped their citrus fruits on the road to express their anger at the European Union for its ban on fruit exports to Russia.

The Western powers have been accusing Moscow of playing a role in the deadly crisis in eastern Ukraine, which erupted when Kiev launched military operations in April last year to silence pro-Russia protests. The Kremlin denies the accusation.

Russia has, in return, imposed a full year-long ban of European Union, US, Australian, Canadian, and Norwegian food exports to the country.

Amid fear on the part of some EU members for their trade ties with Moscow, the bloc has agreed to postpone new sanctions against Russia to give time to see if a four-way Ukraine peace summit on February 11 makes progress.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said, “The principle of the sanctions will be kept, but their implementation will depend on the situation on the ground.”

He was referring to a January 29 decision by the foreign ministers of the 28-nation union to add 19 people, including five Russians, to a list of those facing travel bans and asset freezes after an upsurge in fighting in eastern Ukraine.

“We will assess the situation again next Monday,” said the French top diplomat.

February 9, 2015 Posted by | Economics | , , , | 1 Comment

Huge explosion at Donetsk chemical plant, Kiev blames ‘dropped cigarette butt’

RT | February 9, 2015

Windows were shattered and homes shaken in Donetsk after a huge blast rocked the vicinity of a city chemical plant which was under rebel control. Kiev and the militants accuse each other of causing the blast.

The powerful explosion took place at 10:50pm local time on Sunday. Local militia reported that a military chemical plant DKZHI was the target of Kiev’s artillery shelling.

Witnesses saw the sky lit up by the explosion, some nearby living residents had their windows broken by the blast’s shockwave and many others felt the ground shake, RIA Novosti reported. Even those living in nearby towns said they felt the tremor.

“The center of the blast was near DKZHI,” co-chairman of the anti-Kiev People’s Front Konstantin Dolgov said on his Facebook page. The factory is known for producing chemical products used for industrial explosives, ammunition and equipment artillery bombs. This is not the first time the plant has been the target of a Kiev attack. It was also hit with artillery rockets in September and November.

The militia forces would not immediately confirm if there were casualties, either among militiamen or civilians. But they said the fire, which started after the explosion, poses no threat of a chemical spill, which is a cause of great concern at the plant, as it handles toxic compounds in producing explosives.

“The fire has been contained. There is not threat of chemical spill… Most likely it was a high-caliber artillery shell,” said an official from the Donetsk People’s Republic.

The spokesman for Kiev’s Anti-Terrorist Operation said that rebels were at fault for the accident.

“This was caused by a dropped cigarette butt,” Andrey Lysenko told the media on Monday.

“Accidents often happen in factories where no one is responsible for fire safety. Well, it’s chaos, and they are barbarians.”

Not all pro-Kiev officials agreed.

The Ukrainian military deployed a Smerch (the BM-30 Tornado) multiple rocket system to shell the area in the city, Boris Filatov, former deputy head of the industrial Dnepropetrovsk Region and a member of the Ukrainian parliament (Verkhovna Rada), said on his Facebook page.

According to Filatov, the men who fired the missiles “do not know what they hit because they were shooting based on coordinates.”

Earlier, Ukrainian far-right politician and paramilitary commander Dmitry Yarosh, who is involved in the Kiev military action in southeastern Ukraine, confirmed on his Facebook page that the explosion was caused by Ukrainian artillery. … Full article

February 9, 2015 Posted by | Deception, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment