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Eyewitnesses Say Fallen FARC Rebels Were Ambushed by Sniper

Two FARC rebels, identified as Joaco (L) and Monica, were allegedly killed Wednesday by a government sniper.

Two FARC rebels, identified as Joaco (L) and Monica, were allegedly killed Wednesday by a government sniper. | Photo: Prensa Rural
teleSUR | November 18, 2016

Eyewitnesses told a verification team that the two rebel fighters with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia killed earlier this week in the northern department of Bolivar died as a result of an ambush by government forces, Prensa Rural reported Friday.

The Ministry of Defense claimed that the armed guerrilla rebels were killed in combat after carrying out criminal activities.

Meanwhile the leaders from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC, said they were merely making their way to “pre-concentration” areas where members of the rebel army are gathering ahead of the final process of demobilization as part of the ongoing peace process.

Members of the Association of Agroecological and Mining Brotherhoods of Guamoco, a local organization, spoke to witnesses in the municipality of Santa Rosa del Sur, where the incident took place to collect testimonies.

According to these witnesses, the two victims, FARC rebels who went by the names Joaco and Monica, were standing near two houses near a section of town known as the “Y” when suddenly Joaca, who was on the phone, was struck by a bullet and fell to the ground. Monica then bent down to check on him when she too was struck by a bullet.

The testimonies were collected from people who were inside one of the houses and witnessed the entire series of events. Prensa Rural reported that the house contained four men, two women, a child, and an infant.

Government troops, who were positioned approximately 40 meters away, then fired two bursts of rounds into the air. Troops then ordered a third rebel fighter to the ground and subsequently detained him.

The government troops then harassed the locals, storming into their homes, reportedly insulting those present and demanding they produce identification. They further accused the civilians of being FARC collaborators. Locals reported that they fear reprisals from state security forces after being labeled collaborators.

Witnesses reported that two of the government soldiers wore masks to hide their identities. Others said they recalled seeing some of the government troops, in civilian clothing, visiting the house near where the killings took place.

The testimony from witnesses matched early statements from the FARC. Spanish lawyer Enrique Santiago, who has served as a legal advisor to the FARC during the peace negotiations in Havana, wrote Wednesday on his Twitter account that the two rebels were killed “by a sniper.”

The Tripartite Monitoring and Verification Mechanism, which forms part of the bilateral cease-fire agreement, was activated in order to conduct formal investigation of the events.

However, this early report raises serious questions about the conduct of the government soldiers. It is widely known within Colombia that there are high-ranking officials in the armed forces who oppose the peace process and may try to sabotage efforts to end the five-decade-long conflict.

Witness testimony belied the government’s version of events in an incident in April 2015 that left 13 dead. There the government claimed troops were ambushed but witnesses said the deaths were the product of a lengthy gun battle and that locals had warned the government soldiers not to make camp in the area. That incident took place before a bilateral cease-fire had been established and threatened to derail peace talks.

The details surrounding this latest incident, such as the presence of government troops in civilian clothing days earlier, suggests the killings were not the product of a chance encounter but rather a pre-planned operation.

The killing of the two FARC rebels marked the first documented break in some 80 days of the official bilateral cease-fire and, according to the Center for Resources for Analysis of the Conflict.

The Tripartite Mechanism is expected to issue a series of recommendations to avoid any future incidents.

FARC and government negotiators signed a new peace deal in Havana Saturday, just six weeks after a previous peace plan was narrowly rejected in a nationwide plebiscite. The new agreement includes modifications made after consultations with the “No” side as well as other sectors of Colombian civil society.

RELATED:
Exclusive: 2nd Colombia Deal ‘More Inclusive’ Says FARC Lawyer

November 19, 2016 Posted by | Deception, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Bottling the Demon of Free Trade: Trumpism and Protectionism

By Binoy Kampmark | Dissident Voice | November 18, 2016

The election of Donald J. Trump on Tuesday, November 8 terrified many who consider themselves notionally progressive or traditional republicans.  It also terrified free trade ideologues, and those who believe that opening borders to boundless consumer goods and services eradicates poverty.

There are few better exponents of this idea on trade than Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, whose insistence that protectionism remains an evil to be combated has sounded pious.  Keep the markets open, while shutting borders to people desperately seeking refuge.  In other words, keep such monsters as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement on the table for full implementation, while flouting the UN Refugee Convention.

This view is featherbedded by other leaders ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group summit taking place in Peru, all insisting with numbing acceptance that free trade is as natural as breathing air, axiomatic to the smooth functioning of a global economic and financial system.

Peru’s President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski decided to make his opening address to the leaders of the summit a platform for his fears about how “protectionism” was “taking over” in the UK and the United States.

Rather than addressing the reasons for pro-protectionist movements, the glorious assumptions of free trade are presumed.  “It is fundamental,” suggested Kuczynski, “that world trade grow again and that protectionism be defeated.” His solution was to make APEC the ultimate critic, rather than interrogator, of such movements.

Japan’s trade minister, Hiroshige Seko, was similarly inclined.  “We agreed to push forward free trade to counter protectionist sentiments.” Rather than actually addressing the core shibboleths of free trade that have seen a spike of criticism of its tenets, Seko presumed it to be a non-starter as an argument.

Ditto his colleague in government, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida.  “It’s time for APEC to show a strong commitment to free trade and contribute to sustainable growth and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.”

It never has been, nor will it ever be, but the politics of trade and the enriching of the corporate classes at the expense of social and public policy (medicine, environment) has taken place along one axis, ignoring the effects and views on those it supposedly benefits.

In Trumpland, and the world of Brexit, these supposed beneficiaries have roared their disapproval.  They look at their bank balances and see diminishing returns.  They fear the cost of increasing medication. Others are concerned about environmental degradation.  All are concerned by surrendering sovereignty through the death of a thousand cuts.

The nonsense of free trade as a magic pudding of delight and gifts has populated the thinking of economic establishments for decades, and has only received a good bashing in recent years.  Studies have been produced on specific free-trade deals showing that the trade engaged in is never that free, and never that competitive.  No matter – ideology manufactures the necessary blinkers for free traders to insist on the virtues of such arrangements.

Amidst such Trump promises as the building of a defiant wall to keep unruly Mexicans out of the land of the free, or withdrawing funding from sanctuary cities who shelter undocumented immigrants, lies a promise to those not associated with the neo-liberal traditionalists.  The Trans-Pacific Partnership, he promised, would be scrapped.

Once Hillary Clinton’s campaign effectively pulled the rug of calculation from under rival Bernie Sanders’ campaign, Trump intensified focus on the TPP and the notion of the unfair trade deal that would fail to deliver for American workers.

The response was not purely populist – the problems of such a trade deal provide a neat illustration on how modern governments treat their citizens relative to corporations.  Notorious for unprecedented levels of secrecy, the entire base for negotiating a deal intended to influence countries through the Asia-Pacific rejected the very idea of civil society.

The message, in other words, is simply not getting through, despite the election result.  The patrician classes feel they know better. Bloomberg View columnist Mihir Sharma provides a typical view, preferring to see trade in its global context: American workers bemoaning their returns from free trade, along with critics from the left, ignore “the obvious benefits of trade for workers in poorer countries, and thus barely deserves to be called progressive.”

Take the big view, and the long road, insists Sharma. That road, however, has become a vaguer one, with President Barack Obama admitting on Wednesday in Athens that the effects of globalisation on those “who feel they’re losing control of their future” had to be dealt with.

Despite such a statement, the status-quo, at least till Trump thunders into the White House, remains, shining a light on free trade enthusiasts.  This can be gathered from the joint opinion piece by Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, published by the German daily Wirtschaftswoche: “Germans and Americans must seize the opportunity to shape globalization according to our values and ideas.” (Be wary of Chinese efforts to do the same, in other words.)

Furthermore, “We have an obligation to our companies and our citizens – in fact, to the entire global community – to broaden and deepen our cooperation.”  The ease of universalising a local or national project is irresistible in such messages.

For Trump, this pompous assertion of universality needs to end.  Be openly self-interested; keep things distinct to the American program.  To make America great again may require bruising trade battles precisely done to preserve perceived values. If necessary, raise tariffs and toughen the stance on China’s currency policy.  Many who voted for him will find such views hard to fault, whatever their tangible consequences.


Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne and can be reached at: bkampmark@gmail.com.

November 19, 2016 Posted by | Economics | , , , | 1 Comment

Zuckerberg hints at third-party news verification to fight ‘fake news’ on Facebook

RT | November 19, 2016

fb2Facebook may entrust a third party with verifying content to stop so-called ‘fake news’ from spreading, its head said in a post. The social network, which is many people’s primary source of news, has recently been criticized for spreading misinformation.

Outgoing US President Barack Obama launched the war on ‘fake news’ last week, complaining that it may have had an adverse effect on the presidential election. He claimed that social media hosts “much active misinformation” that “looks the same when you see it on a Facebook page or you turn on your television.”

There is speculation that fake news about presidential candidates may have played a considerable role in swaying the minds of voters who ultimately elected Republican Donald Trump. Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg initially dismissed the notion as “pretty crazy,” but this week Facebook and Google both said they would change their ad policies to prevent fake news websites from using their systems.

In a Friday post, Zuckerberg gave an update on how his network is planning to fight misinformation.

“Historically, we have relied on our community to help us understand what is fake and what is not,” he said, explaining that the reporting mechanism already in place on the site fights fake news along with clickbait, spam, and scams.

This may be not enough to combat inaccurate news content, however, so Facebook is considering engaging “trusted third parties” to filter out fake news.

Another possible approach would be to have Facebook police itself, which would mean installing “better technical systems to detect what people will flag as false before they do it themselves,” the FB head said.

Links to news stories classified by the network as untruthful would be flagged as fake for people trying to share or read them, according to Zuckerberg.

False stories circulating on Facebook during America’s presidential election campaign included one claiming that anchor Megyn Kelly had been fired from Fox News, another alleging an FBI agent involved in the Clinton investigation had been murdered, and even an announcement that the Pope had endorsed Trump.

November 19, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | 6 Comments

Trump signals détente with Russia

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | November 19, 2016

The first definitive signals are appearing that the American foreign policies are destined to undergo a historic shift under the Donald Trump presidency. RT confirmed on Friday citing a ‘close source’ (without mentioning the nationality) the media reports speculating that Trump has named retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as the National Security Advisor in the incoming Administration. Interestingly, the first authoritative report originated from Moscow.

The RT report gave a rather friendly account of Flynn, noting his strong advocacy of détente with Russia. (Interestingly, those who called on Trump yesterday at his transition hqs included Henry Kissinger.)

Why is Flynn’s nomination so important? First of all, Trump trusts him and Flynn in his new position will be overseeing the entire US intelligence establishment and Pentagon and coordinating national security and foreign policies. It is an immensely influential position, beyond Congressional scrutiny.

Importantly, therefore, Flynn’s past contacts with Kremlin officials – there is a photograph of him at the dinner table seated next to President Vladimir Putin – and his connections with Gazprom, Russia’s gas leviathan, and his belief that US and Russia should collaborate instead of rival each other, etc. assume great significance.

Trump unnerves the US foreign and security policy establishment. Conceivably, Trump will use the tough Pentagon general to whip the establishment folks into submission to the new foreign policy trajectory. If anyone can do that, it is Flynn.

The growing disquiet is apparent even at the level of President Barack Obama. On Thursday, in an audacious act, Obama rendered some public advice to Trump from a foreign podium, Germany, with Angela Merkel approvingly listening, on the advisability of the president-elect following his footfalls. Some excerpts are in order, if only to highlight the epic battle shaping up over US foreign policies. Obama said:

  • With respect to Russia, my principal approach to Russia has been constant since I first came into office. Russia is an important country. It is a military superpower. It has influence in the region and it has influence around the world. And in order for us to solve many big problems around the world, it is in our interest to work with Russia and obtain their cooperation… So I’ve sought a constructive relationship with Russia, but what I have also been is realistic in recognising that there are some significant differences in how Russia views the world and how we (West) view the world.
  • And so on issues like Ukraine, on issues like Syria, we’ve had very significant differences. And my hope is that the President-elect coming in takes a similarly constructive approach, finding areas where we can cooperate with Russia where our values and interests align, but that the President-elect also is willing to stand up to Russia where they are deviating from our values and international norms.
  • I don’t expect that the President-elect will follow exactly our blueprint or our approach, but my hope is that he does not simply take a realpolitik approach and suggest that if we just cut some deals with Russia, even if it hurts people, or even if it violates international norms, or even if it leaves smaller countries vulnerable or creates long-term problems in regions like Syria — that we just do whatever is convenient at the time. And that will be something that I think we’ll learn more about as the President-elect puts his team together.

Obama then proceeded to have a tirade against Putin, saying “there have been very clear proof that they have engaged in cyberttacks” on the US and that he personally “delivered a very clear and forceful message” to the Russian leader to the effect that “we’re monitoring it carefully and we will respond appropriately if and when we see this happening.”

Back in Washington, ironically, Obama’s strongest ally in opposing détente with Russia is none other than Republican Senator John McCain. The visceral dislike toward Russia – and Putin, in particular – within the Washington establishment is apparent from McCain’s own statement earlier in the week.

Why such morbid fear? McCain, of course, is the chief spokesman of the military-industrial complex in America. Many top arms manufacturing companies are based in Arizona, the state which Mccain represents in the senate. ‘Saker’, the US-based military analyst, gives a satisfactory explanation as to why there’s such panic in Washington:

  • He (Flynn) has connections to Gazprom, is well-liked in Moscow, and will be a link for American energy companies and perhaps some joint ventures in the gas field development and pipeline industry. Several friends of Trump are from the gas and oil industry…  The Arctic, the eastern Mediterranean, the South China Sea and other large development zones have enormous new fields to be tapped and exploited.
  • The primary interest of the Trump foreign policy will be to make America wealthy again. The Eurasian development has already attracted Trump to the OBOR of China and the AIIB infrastructure bank. Probably the entire New Silk Road of China and EAEU of Russia is not going to be without major US participation.

Read ‘Saker’ on Flynn’s appointment. (here)

November 19, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

1984 Unfolding as Public Surveillance Technologies Deployed Without Consent

By Isaac Davis | Activist Post | November 18, 2016

We are fast approaching an era when humanity will be subjugated by a technological tyranny managed by an untouchable organization of elites, bureaucrats and paid public minders hired to monitor our behaviors, emotions and thoughts. In an environment like this, law and justice will be meaningless, as the tools of a technocracy can be used to enforce the policies and whims of whoever monitors us, whether it be corporate employees, criminals, or abusive state actors.

Recent developments and roll-outs of advanced facial recognition technology are a hint of the coming ubiquity in using biometric, face-scanning, emotion-reading, all-seeing technology to govern every detail of daily life. Consider the following developments:

  • It was recently reported that around half of Americans are already in police facial recognition databases, the vast majority having never been even accused of committing a crime or consenting to being included in the database. [Source]
  • Increasingly, facial recognition is being used to scan concert and festival goers creating permanent databases of partiers. [Source]
  • An experimental town in China is now using facial recognition to grant citizens entry. [Source]
  • Facial recognition is now capable of reading human emotions, opening the door to a new world of possibility in pre-crime detection. [Source]
  • The TSA is using emotion reading facial recognition technology to determine if a traveler is to be treated as a threat. [Source]

  • Police nationwide are using the controversial Stingray system which allows them to listen to anyone’s cell phone conversations. [Source]
  • California police are already using a computer system called ‘Beware’ to predict crime and preemptively stop it. [Source]
  • Microsoft recently conducted a major test during the 2016 Republican and Democratic conventions, using emotion reading facial recognition technology to survey the crowd for threats. [Source]
  • A Russian software developer has released an App that allows you to turn your smart phone into a facial recognition device. [Source]
  • Some U.S. churches are using a consumer version of facial recognition to keep tabs on who is in attendance for Sunday service. [Source]
  • Facial recognition, finger-print reading, and iris scanning is now being included in consumer technologies. [Source]

The justification for using this technology against a public who is never given the opportunity to consent or to op-out is, as always, public safety, as police and government agencies claim the technology is needed to spot criminal elements, gang members and other threats to the public. Here, a quote from George Orwell offers a glimpse of what the inevitable outcome of this is:

It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself—anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example) was itself a punishable offence. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: FACECRIME, it was called. – 1984, George Orwell

Here, RT discusses how Microsoft used emotion reading facial recognition technology at political conventions and how some are resisting the way this technology is being introduced into our society.

Final Thoughts

Privacy and anonymity are the enemies of the state, and it is being destroyed without our consent by both government and corporations who are deploying technology with no consideration of the human consequences. The possibilities for a techno-totalitarian future are grim, but without awareness and without motivation to resist, it is all but a forgone conclusion.

Orwell himself warned us of how this dark vision would force itself into fruition unless we stood against it. At the end of his life he even gave us this final warning. Are you listening?

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November 19, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | 1 Comment

At least 17 killed, dozens injured in E. Aleppo as rebels disperse protesters with machine gun fire

RT | November 19, 2016

At least 17 people were killed by heavy gunfire and about a dozen more were rounded up and executed after hundreds of civilians trying to leave eastern Aleppo protested against the rebel blockade of exit routes, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

Some 500 civilians took part in several protests in the rebel-occupied eastern part of Aleppo on Thursday, and at least 200 of them were trying to reach the Syrian government-controlled area at the time they were violently dispersed with live fire, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

“The militants dispersed the demonstration, shooting at the protesters from a heavy machine gun and then mined all the approaches to the checkpoint and placed snipers on the roofs of nearby houses,” Konashenkov said, as quoted by Sputnik news agency.

“Seventeen people died at the site, including two teenagers of 13 and 15 years of age, over 40 people were wounded,” he added.

Upon quelling one of the rallies, militants launched a hunt for the presumed organizers of the protests, the ministry spokesman said.

“Terrorists detained about 10 men, who they held to be ‘organizers’ of the riots, and drove them away in an unknown direction. They were shot dead the same evening,” Konashenkov said.

On Wednesday, the Defense Ministry’s spokesman said that about 1,500 civilians had taken to the streets of eastern Aleppo to protest against the militants’ occupation. Unconfirmed footage has emerged online in which people can be seen chanting slogans and calling on the local council to take action against the rebel groups.

Tuesday’s demonstrations were also violently suppressed by the militants, who killed and injured dozens of people, Konashenkov said, citing intelligence.

Civilians in the rebel-held part of the city are believed to be held as human shields as the humanitarian situation and drastic food shortages worsen. The terrorists have mined the streets approaching the humanitarian corridors to prevent civilians from using them to leave and threaten to kill any who defy their orders.

If Washington had ceased pursuing its agenda in Syria a year ago, the situation that exists in Aleppo today would never have arisen, investigative journalist Patrick Henningsen told RT.

“These are Syrian people on both sides, east Aleppo and west Aleppo. They are not pro-rebel, they are not pro-Assad. They are Syrian citizens and they clearly want to get some … life: they need food, they need shelter, and they try to protest and look what happened,” he added.

November 19, 2016 Posted by | War Crimes | | Leave a comment