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Tillerson to Remain at State Department Despite Reports of Resignation

Sputnik – 26.07.2017

WASHINGTON – US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will remain in office contrary to reports that he was going to resign, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a press briefing.

“The Secretary has been very clear he intends to stay here at the State Department,” Nauert said on Tuesday.

On Monday, CNN reported that Tillerson was considering resigning from the State Department before the end of the year due to growing frustration with President Donald Trump’s administration.

The report claimed Tillerson was at odds with the White House over several issues including department staffing and Iran policy.

RELATED:

ZOA Calls For Tillerson’s Resignation

Jewish Insider  · July 24, 2017

Amid reports that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is growing frustrated with the White House, even considering stepping down, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) on Monday called on Tillerson to resign. The group accused Tillerson of contradicting pro-Israel statements made by President Donald Trump and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley.

“In light of the U.S. State Department’s new, bigoted, biased, anti-Semitic, Israel-hating error-ridden terrorism report, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) calls on Secretary of State Tillerson to resign,” the ZOA said in a statement.

The ZOA — headed by Morton Klein — took issue with the State Department’s annual terrorism report listing Israeli settlement construction, violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, and the perception that Israel’s government was changing the status quo on the Temple Mount as “continued drivers of violence.” … Full article

July 25, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

MK calls for building synagogue in Al-Aqsa

MEMO | July 25, 2017

Extremist Israeli Jewish MK from the Jewish Home party, Bezalel Smotrich, has called for building a synagogue inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyard, Al-Resalah newspaper reported yesterday.

The Palestinian newspaper said that the Israeli TV Channel 7 reported Smotrich saying that the best Zionist response to the Palestinian rejection to the Israeli measures at Al-Aqsa Mosque is to let them understand that they had paid a “high price” for their acts.

He said that the best response would be to build a synagogue in the yards of Al-Aqsa Mosque in response to the attack on the settlement of Halamish, where three Israeli settlers were killed.

“I would set up a synagogue on the Temple Mount today, this morning.”

“The Zionist response would largely be to make the other side understand and feel that they have lost. They must understand that they gain nothing from terrorism. They are the only ones who will lose, and this will happen on three levels,” Smotrich told Arutz Sheva. “If I am the Prime Minister – this morning I would close the Temple Mount to Arab prayer and establish a Synagogue for Jews.”

Palestinians have been rejecting Israel’s latest security measures at Al-Aqsa Mosque which include metal detectors and advanced surveillance cameras. The metal detectors were removed late last night however more cameras were setup at the mosque. Mass protests have been held against the latest Israeli policies with occupation forces responding in a heavy handed manner. Seven Palestinians were killed in the ten days since 14 July and 1,090 were injured.

July 25, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , | 2 Comments

Fear and Trepidation in Tel Aviv: Is Israel Losing the Syria War?

By Ramzy Baroud | MEMO | July 25, 2017

Israel, which has played a precarious role in the Syrian war since 2011, is furious to learn that the future of the conflict is not to its liking.

The six-year-old Syria war is moving to a new stage, perhaps its final. The Syrian regime is consolidating its control over most of the populated centers, while Daesh is losing ground fast – and everywhere.

Areas evacuated by the rapidly disintegrated militant group are up for grabs. There are many hotly contested regions sought over by the government of Bashar al-Assad in Damascus and its allies, on the one hand, and the various anti-Assad opposition groups and their supporters, on the other.

With Daesh largely vanquished in Iraq – at an extremely high death toll of 40,000 people in Mosul alone – warring parties there are moving west. Shia militias, emboldened by the Iraq victory, have been pushing westward as far as the Iraq-Syria border, converging with forces loyal to the Syrian government on the other side.

Concurrently, first steps at a permanent ceasefire are bearing fruit, compared to many failed attempts in the past.

Following a ceasefire agreement between the United States and Russia on 7 July at the G-20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany, three provinces in southwestern Syria – bordering Jordan and Israeli-occupied Golan Heights – are now relatively quiet. The agreement is likely to be extended elsewhere.

The Israeli government has made it clear to the US that it is displeased with the agreement, and Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has been leading strong efforts to undermine the ceasefire.

Netanyahu’s worst fears are, perhaps, actualizing: a solution in Syria that would allow for a permanent Iranian and Hezbollah presence in the country.

In the early phases of the war, such a possibility seemed remote; the constantly changing fortunes in Syria’s brutal combat made the discussion altogether irrelevant.

But things have now changed.

Despite assurances to the contrary, Israel has always been involved in the Syria conflict. Israel’s repeated claims that “it maintains a policy of non-intervention in Syria’s civil war,” only fools US mainstream media US mainstream media.

Not only was Israel involved in the war, it also played no role in the aid efforts, nor did it ever extend a helping hand to Syrian refugees.

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have perished in the merciless war; many cities and villages were totally destroyed and millions of Syrians have become refugees.

While tiny and poor Lebanon has hosted over a million Syrian refugees, every country in the region and many nations around the world have hosted Syrian refugees, as well. Except Israel.

Even a symbolic government proposal to host 100 Syrian orphans was eventually dropped.

However, the nature of the Israeli involvement in Syria is starting to change. The ceasefire, the growing Russian clout and the inconsistent US position has forced Israel to redefine its role.

A sign of the times has been Netanyahu’s frequent visits to Moscow, to persuade the emboldened Russian President, Vladimir Putin, of Israel’s interests.

While Moscow is treading carefully, unlike Washington it hardly perceives Israeli interests as paramount. When Israel shot down a Syrian missile using an arrow missile last March, the Israeli ambassador to Moscow was summoned for reprimand.

The chastising of Israel took place only days after Netanyahu visited Moscow and “made it clear” to Putin that he wants to “prevent any Syrian settlement from leaving ‘Iran and its proxies with a military presence’ in Syria.”

Since the start of the conflict, Israel wanted to appear as if in control of the situation, at least regarding the conflict in southwestern Syria. It bombed targets in Syria as it saw fit, and casually spoke of maintaining regular contacts with certain opposition groups.

In recent comments before European officials, Netanyahu admitted to striking Iranian convoys in Syria ‘dozens of times.”

But without a joint Israeli-US plan, Israel is now emerging as a weak party. Making that realization quite belatedly, Israel has become increasingly frustrated. After years of lobbying, the Obama Administration refused to [openly] regard Israel’s objectives in Syria as the driving force behind his government’s policies.

Failing to obtain such support from newly-elected President Donald Trump as well, Israel is now attempting to develop its own independent strategy.

On June 18, the Wall Street Journal reported that Israel has been giving “secret aid” to Syrian rebels, in the form of “cash and humanitarian aid.”

The New York Times reported on July 20 of large shipments of Israeli aid that is “expected to (give) ‘glimmer of hope’ for Syrians.”

Needless to say, giving hope to Syrians is not an Israeli priority. Aside from the frequent bombing and refusal to host any refugees, Israel has occupied the Syrian Golan Heights in 1967 and illegally annexed the territory in 1981.

Instead, Israel’s aim is to infiltrate southern Syria to create a buffer against Iranian, Hezbollah and other hostile forces.

Termed “Operation Good Neighbor,” Israel is working diligently to build ties with various heads of tribes and influential groups in that region.

Yet, the Israeli plan appears to be a flimsy attempt at catching up, as Russia and the US, in addition to their regional allies, seem to be converging on an agreement independent from Israel’s own objectives or even security concerns.

Israeli officials are angry, and feel particularly betrayed by Washington. If things continue to move in this direction, Iran could soon have a secured pathway connecting Tehran to Damascus and Beirut,

Israeli National Security Council head, Yaakov Amidror, threatened in a recent press conference that his country is prepared to move against Iran in Syria, alone.

Vehemently rejecting the ceasefire, Amidror said that the Israeli army will “intervene and destroy every attempt to build (permanent Iranian) infrastructure in Syria.”

Netanyahu’s equally charged statements during his European visit also point at the growing frustration in Tel Aviv.

This stands in sharp contrast from the days when the neoconservatives in Washington managed the Middle East through a vision that was largely, if not fully, consistent with Israeli impulses.

The famed strategy paper prepared by a US study group led by Richard Perle in 1996 is of little use now, as the region is no longer shaped by a country or two.

The paper entitled: “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm”, saw a hostile Arab world masterfully managed by US and Israel.

For a fleeting moment, Tel Aviv hoped that Trump would bring about change to the US attitude.

Indeed, there was that euphoric movement in Israel when the Trump administration struck Syria. But the limited nature of the strike made it clear that the US had no plans for massive military deployment similar to that of Iraq in 2003.

The initial excitement was eventually replaced by cynicism as expressed by this headline in al Monitor:Netanyahu puts Trump on notice over Syria.”

In 1982, taking advantage of sectarian conflicts, Israel invaded Lebanon and installed a government led by its allies. Those days are long gone.

While Israel remains militarily strong, the region itself has changed and Israel is not the only power holding all the cards.

Moreover, the receding global leadership of the US under Trump makes the Israeli-American duo less effective.

With no alternative allies influential enough to fill the gap, Israel is left, for the first time, with very limited options.

With Russia’s determined return to the Middle East, and the decided retreat by the US, the outcome of the Syria war is almost a foregone conclusion. Surely, this is not the ‘new Syria’ that Israel had hoped for.

Read: Israel’s new occupation zone in Syria

July 25, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Trident nuclear submarine replacement plans ‘unachievable’ – spending watchdog

RT | July 25, 2017

Multi-billion pound projects to upgrade and renew Britain’s nuclear arsenal have been branded “unachievable” by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) in its report to the Treasury and Cabinet Office.

The watchdog’s report, which was picked up by the Ferret investigative website, found that major projects relating to the nuclear deterrent are poorly managed, over budget, and subject to technical difficulties.

Those projects are the £1.7 billion (US$2.2bn) nuclear reactor manufacturing program and the program to build four nuclear-armed and seven nuclear-powered submarines at a cost of £31 billion and £9 billion respectively.

The reactor manufacturing project, based at Rolls Royce in Derby, picked up the worst possible IPA rating after being marked as “red,” with the author’s warning that “successful delivery of the project appears to be unachievable.”

“There are major issues with project definition, schedule, budget, quality and/or benefits delivery, which at this stage do not appear to be manageable or resolvable.

“The project may need re-scoping and/or its overall viability reassessed,” the investigators added, warning that reactor building was £250,000 million ($325mn) over budget.

The submarine building project, which has so far delivered three nuclear-powered Astute–class warships, has been rated “amber/red” for the third successive year.

The IPA report said: “Successful delivery of the project is in doubt, with major risks or issues apparent in a number of key areas.

“Urgent action is needed to address these problems and/or assess whether resolution is feasible.”

The study found that “overall affordability” was the main impediment to the submarine building program.

As the submarines are bound for the UK’s nuclear base near Faslane, Scotland, the findings quickly attracted comment from the Scottish National Party (SNP) and anti-nuclear campaigners north of the border.

“A billion here – a billion there – to add to the bill for these weapons of mass destruction,” SNP defense spokesperson Stewart McDonald MP told the Ferret.

“The Westminster obsession with Trident is already squeezing conventional defense expenditure as everything else is sacrificed for these redundant, eye-wateringly expensive weapons. The Tories need to get a grip on costs if they insist on Trident renewal.”

Arthur West, the chairman of the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, told the website: “The Trident program in particular continues to be a shambles from a cost point of view.”

The Ministry of Defense defended the poor ratings, saying they “reflect the complexity and scale of delivering the most advanced submarines ever commissioned by the Royal Navy, the ultimate guarantee of our national security.”

July 25, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

America’s Militarized Police

Made in Israel?

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • July 25, 2017

The horrific execution by police of an Australian woman in her pajamas that took place last week in Minneapolis has again produced a torrent of criticism over killings initiated by law enforcement in situations in which the officers are in no way threatened. America has always been a violent place relative to much of the rest of the world, but even so there has been a noticeable shift in how, since the trauma of 9/11, some policemen believe themselves to be superior to and detached from the society they are supposed to be protecting. And the public is reciprocating, seeing the police frequently as a force that is no longer there to serve the people and instead something that should be feared. Even in the upper middle class predominantly white county that I live in, residents not infrequently discuss the increasingly visible and aggressive police presence. It is widely believed that arguing with cops or showing even the slightest attitude in contacts with them is done at one’s peril.

Even in low crime parts of the country, the police are able to deploy fully armed and equipped swat teams that are more military than civilian in their threatening demeanor as well in the body armor and weapons they carry. Many cities and counties now have surplus military armored vans for crowd control even if they have no crowds. Armed drones are increasingly becoming part of the law enforcement arsenal and it sometimes appears as if the police are copying the military as a model of “how to do it.”

The various levels of government that make up the United States seem to be preparing for some kind of insurrection, which may indeed be the case somewhere down the road if the frustrations of the public are not somehow dealt with. But there is another factor that has, in my opinion, become a key element in the militarization of the police in the United States. That would be the role of the security organs of the state of Israel in training American cops, a lucrative business that has developed since 9/11 and which inter alia gives the “students” a whole different perspective on the connection of the police with those who are being policed, making the relationship much more one of an occupier and the occupied.

The engagement of American police forces with Israeli security services began modestly enough in the wake of 9/11. The panic response in the United States to a major terrorist act led to a search for resources to confront what was perceived as a new type of threat that normal law-and-order training did not address.

Israel, which, in its current occupation of much of Palestine and the Golan Heights as well as former stints in Gaza, southern Lebanon and Sinai, admittedly has considerable experience in dealing with the resistance to its expansion manifested as what it describes as terrorism. Jewish organizations in the United States dedicated to providing cover for Israeli’s bad behavior, saw an opportunity to get their hooks into a sizable and respected community within the U.S. that was ripe for conversion to the Israeli point of view, so they began funding “exchanges.”

Since 2002 there have been hundreds of all-expenses-paid trips including officers from every major American city as well as state and local police departments. Some have been sponsored by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA). The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has also been directly funding trips since 2008, explaining that “As a people living under constant threat of attack, the Israelis are leading experts in security enforcement and response strategies.” The intent? To “learn” and “draw from the latest developments” so the American cops can “bring these methods back home to implement in their communities.”

AIPAC has several pages in its website dedicated to security cooperation between the two countries. It asks “Did you know? In May 2010, 50 retired Generals and Admirals wrote to President Obama, highlighting the value of U.S. Israeli cooperation.” It goes on to cite an Alabama sheriff who enthuses that “There is no other country [Israel] that shares the same values and overarching goal to allow others to live in peace.” Regarding airport security, it also quotes a U.S. “security expert” who states “We should move even closer to an Israeli model where there’s more engagement with passengers… We’ve just started to do that at TSA…” Indeed. That’s called profiling and pre-boarding interrogations.

Even the federal government has gotten onto the Israel bandwagon, perhaps not a surprise given the number of Israel Firsters in Congress. In 2003, the Department of Homeland Security established a special Office of International Affairs to “institutionalize the relationship between Israeli and American security officials.” The New York City Police Department has a branch in Israel and carries out frequent exchanges.

It should be noted from the git-go that Israel is no more knowledgeable about possible responses to acts of terror than is anyone else. The techniques employed to create physical barriers, to develop sources for intelligence gathering, and to train in tactical responses are quite familiar to anyone who has studied modern-style terrorism since it emerged in Western Europe in the 1970s.

Most countries that have a high or even moderate risk level deriving from terrorists, either domestic or foreign, have recruited and trained special police and paramilitary forces that are familiar with the basic techniques and are quite capable of responding. Ironically, even though the United States government and local police forces have tended to look at the “real pro” Israelis for guidance, state of the art resources for learning about how to deal with terror are available right here at home. JSOC has teams that are every bit as effective – and lethal – as anything the Israelis can muster and the CIA and FBI together know far more about terrorists and how they behave than do the ideologically driven Mossad and Shin Beth.

The American policemen who go on the “exchanges” are probably only dimly aware that what they are being shown is part of Israel’s military justice system, which has nothing to do with Israeli criminals, but instead is designed to keep the lid on the millions of Palestinians who live in what has become a virtual outdoor prison camp. It is an apartheid police state that uses deadly force as a form of crowd control. And the Palestinian former residents of the lands Israel now holds are the “terrorists” that Israel is protecting itself against.

You can bet that the American guests for their part clearly do not realize that they are being trained as prison guards and you also can be sure that they never catch so much as a glimpse of the 300 child prisoners that Israel continues to hold without charges.

Israel’s reputation for “dealing with” terrorism has in any event been glamorized by the Israel-friendly media and entertainment industry while also being promoted by Jewish organizations. It has meant in practical terms that many of the contract security firms operating at airports in the United States and Europe are Israeli. They have also infiltrated state Homeland Security agencies and corporate security in the U.S. Many of the Israeli companies with offices in the United States work closely with Mossad and might reasonably be considered arms of the Israeli government.

Where Israel really excels is in its willingness to kill large numbers of Arabs of all ages and genders using the excuse that they are terrorists. It does so with impunity because Israeli courts almost never hold the army and police accountable for whatever they do. It might reasonably be suggested that when American police officers go through their training in Israel they acquire at least a bit of that attitude from their instructors.

Recognizing that Israel is not exactly a model to be emulated when it comes to the human rights of its Palestinian victims, there is an alternative viewpoint which suggests that American law enforcement might just be learning the wrong things when it travels to Israel. Amnesty International asks “With Whom are Many U.S. Police Departments Training? With Chronic Human Rights Violator Israel.” It notes that last August when the Department of Justice documented numerous violations by the Baltimore Police Department the report failed to mention that policemen from that city had received training in Israel.

Amnesty makes clear what we are dealing with when our policemen are being trained – “… military, security and police systems that have racked up documented human rights violations for years… carrying out extrajudicial executions and other unlawful killings, using ill treatment and torture (even against children). Suppression of freedom of expressions/association, including through government surveillance, and excessive use of force against peaceful protesters.”

And actually, it is worse than that. The American visitors will be welcomed to contemplate the Potemkin village miracle of a democratic, multicultural, inclusive, clever Israel. They will not be allowed to see how the soldiers training them, representatives of “the most moral army in the world,” force Palestinian women to give birth at military checkpoints and watch their babies die, shoot Palestinian teenagers as they are running away for throwing stones, drag men and women out of their beds and kill them while terrorizing their children and dragging them off to jail during midnight raids.

Amnesty’s article documents many of the abuses by Israeli security forces and concludes that using “Public or private funds spent to train our domestic police in Israel should concern all of us. Many of the abuses [in the U.S.] parallel violations by Israeli military, security and police officials.” I would also add that the training provided by JINSA, ADL and the AJC is also partly on the American taxpayers’ dime as the organizations are all tax exempt.

Finally, Israel’s ability to market its state sponsored brutality has even become a form of light entertainment. A company in Israel called Caliber 3 that was set up by a reserve colonel in the Israeli army is offering what has been described as a two hour “boot camp” counter-terrorism experience. It includes a life size target consisting of a man in Arab attire holding a cell phone. The mostly Jewish American audience ponders if he should be shot, but the instructors eventually intervene and declare that he does not quite meet the standard for being killed. Visitors are also treated to simulations of Israeli commandos taking down terrorists and can even shoot live rounds from a semi-automatic weapon at a firing range. Ironically, the Caliber 3 gated compound camp is located in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc on the West Bank, land that was stolen from the Palestinians.

July 25, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Russian Military Denies Reports of Airstrike in Syria’s East Ghouta Safe Zone

Sputnik – 25.07.2017

DAMASCUS – The Russian reconciliation center in Syria denied Tuesday the reports of an airstrike on July 24 in the de-escalation zone in eastern Ghouta.

The agreement on operation of a de-escalation zone, envisaging full ceasefire, came into force in eastern Ghouta on Monday. Earlier Tuesday, media reports emerged claiming that an airstrike killed at least eight people in an attack on the town of Arbin the previous evening.

“Western media reports citing the UK-financed White Helmets and the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on an alleged airstrike on evening of July 24 in the eastern Ghouta deescalation zone are a complete lie aimed at discrediting the peace process,” a spokesperson of the center said.

According to the spokesperson, local opposition groups “confirmed there were no airstrikes or combat in this de-escalation zone.”

On Saturday, Russian Defense Ministry announced the signing of an agreement on the order Eastern Ghouta de-escalation in Syria following the results of the talks held in Cairo with Syrian opposition, mediated by the Egyptian side. The agreements define the borders of the deescalation zone, the deployment sites and powers of the deescalation control forces, as well as the routes for delivering humanitarian aid and clear passage to the population. On Monday, the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces reported that Russia has set up two checkpoints and four observation posts in the zone.

July 25, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

Impressions of Iran

By Robert Fantina | Aletho News | July 25, 2017

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity of visiting Iran. I spent time in the capital city of Tehran, the country’s largest city, and Mashhad, a large city in the northern part of Iran. I saw what I expected to see: each was a bustling city. The downtown area of each was crowded and busy, not unlike other cities I’ve visited in different parts of the world.

Where I gained the impression that Iran was a prosperous, modern nation before my visit, I don’t know. Prior to my departure, when I announced to friends and acquaintances that I would soon be visiting Iran, I was met with shocked reactions. Here are some of the questions I was asked at that time:

  • Is it safe?
  • Don’t you worry about being arrested?
  • Don’t people disappear there all the time?

Following my invitation to visit, but before the actual visit, Tehran experienced its first terrorist attack in several years. I was then asked if I was still going. My response: ‘London has had a few terrorist attacks, but if I were planning a visit there, I’d still go’. This seemed to make sense to my questioner.

Since my return, some of the questions I’ve been asked indicate that my view of Iran as a modern nation is not shared by everyone else. The following are some of the questions I’ve been asked about my visit to Iran:

  • How do the people there live?
  • Did you feel safe?
  • Did anyone stop you from taking pictures?
  • Were you afraid when visiting mosques?

The U.S. demonizes Iran, mainly because it is a powerful country in the Middle East, and Israel cannot countenance any challenge to its hegemony, and when Israel talks, the U.S. listens. Apparently, this demonization is working at least somewhat successfully, judging by the comments I received concerning my trip there.

I have to wonder how this is acceptable in the world community, but then again, there really isn’t much question. The U.S. uses its military might and its declining but still powerful economic strength to intimidate much of the world. This is why the Palestinians still suffer so unspeakably, but that is a topic for another conversation. The U.S. again, in the last few days, asserted that Iran is complying with the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), an agreement that regulates Iran’s nuclear development program. Yet it continues to sanction Iran; for some bizarre reason, Iran must comply with its part of this agreement, but the U.S. government doesn’t feel any obligation to maintain its part. If Iran’s leaders were to say that, since the U.S. was not keeping to its word, Iran has no obligation to do so, the U.S.’s leaders would then say, ‘See? We told you so! Iran isn’t living up to the agreement!’.

The U.S.’s continued criticism and sanctions of Iran adds to the impression that it is a rogue nation, funneling all its money into the military, while its oppressed citizens cower in the streets, awaiting arrest for just about anything.

How much, however, does this impression actually mirror the U.S? A few facts are instructive:

  • Currently, the U.S. is bombing 6 nations; Iran, none.
  • The U.S. has used nuclear weapons, resulting in the horrific deaths of hundreds of thousands of people; Iran has never used such weapons.
  • Since the end of World War II, the U.S. has invaded, destabilized and/or overthrown the governments of at least 30 countries; Iran hasn’t invaded another country in over 200 years.
  • The U.S. has the largest per capita prison population in the world: 25% of all people imprisoned in the world are in prisons in the U.S. In the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave’, 716 of every 100,000 people are in prison. Iran’s rate is 287 per 100,000.
  • The U.S. finances the brutal apartheid regime of Israel, and has full diplomatic relations with that rouge nation and Saudi Arabia, both of which have human rights records that are among the worst in the world. Iran supports Palestine, and the Palestinians’ struggle for independence.
  • The poverty rate in the U.S. is 13.1%; between 2009 and 2013, Iran’s poverty rate fell from 13.1% to 8.1% (that has increased somewhat since 2014, but details were not readily available).

Based on this limited information, it seems that despite its somewhat successful efforts to demonize Iran, the U.S. is, in fact, the more dangerous and threatening nation.

But such facts are not what interests Congress. Beholden first and foremost to the lobbies that finance election campaigns, and Israeli lobbies chief among them, truth, justice, human rights and international law all take a back seat. And so the propaganda continues, with Iran being portrayed as an evil empire, when all evidence contradicts that view.

It is unfortunate that not everyone in the U.S. is able to visit Iran, to learn for themselves that it is nothing like what the corporate-owned media, working hand-in-hand with the government, portrays. The U.S. government seems anxious to extend its wars to Iran; this would be a global disaster. It is to be hoped that such a catastrophe can be prevented.

July 25, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , | 2 Comments

Revisiting Psychopathy

Corbett Report Extras | July 24, 2017

Previously on The Corbett Report we examined the topic of psychopathy. A number of articles, papers, documentaries and books have emerged to shed more light on the issue. But as this growing understanding of psychopathy begins to shape the way we understand the global economic collapse and the moves toward political tyranny, do we run the risk of starting a new witch hunt?

SHOW NOTES & MP3: https://www.corbettreport.com/?p=3515

Link to ‘I Am Fishead’ documentary: http://bit.ly/2urqoHP

July 25, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Video | Leave a comment

Philippines urges US to return church bells

Press TV – July 25, 2017

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has demanded the United States return church bells seized by American forces in a bloody campaign more than a century ago, in another blast at his country’s traditional ally.

American forces took three bells from the Catholic church of Balangiga town on the eastern island of Samar in 1901 as war booty in what historians said was a particularly brutal military operation in the new US colony.

“Give us back those Balangiga bells. They are not yours. They are ours. They belong to the Philippines. They are part of our national heritage,” Duterte said at his annual State of the Nation Address on Monday.

“Those bells are reminders of the gallantry and heroism of our forebears who resisted the American colonizers and sacrificed their lives in the process.”

Two of the bells are installed at a memorial for US war dead in Wyoming, while the third is with US forces in South Korea.

Some US politicians oppose the dismantling of the memorial.

US embassy spokeswoman Molly Koscina gave a non-committal reply on Tuesday to Duterte’s demands.

“We are aware that the bells of Balangiga have deep significance for a number of people, both in the United States and in the Philippines,” she said in an email to AFP.

Duterte on Monday repeated a Filipino account of the campaign that the commanding general, Jacob Smith, ordered Samar be turned into a “howling wilderness” and that all Filipino males aged 10 or above be killed.

A 1902 US court-martial convicted Smith of a minor offence in relation to the Samar campaign, while 39 other Americans were separately found guilty of torturing and shooting Filipino prisoners there, the US Army War College research paper said.

However none of them were jailed, according to the paper.

The then Philippine president Fidel Ramos first sought but failed to recover the bells during a 1998 Washington trip.

Duterte, a self-described socialist, has since his election last year worked to distance Manila from Washington while building closer ties with China and Russia.

The Philippine islands, a Spanish colony for centuries, were ceded to the United States in 1898 at the end of the Spanish-American War. The Philippines gained independence from the Americans in 1946.

Duterte has repeatedly lashed out at the US as ties have frayed, and last Friday vowed he would never visit the “lousy” country despite an earlier invitation extended by US President Donald Trump.

July 25, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

Move to End CIA Support for Syria Rebels Cuts US Losses – Ex-EU Adviser

Sputnik – 25.07.2017

President Donald Trump’s move to end the CIA training program for Syrian rebels finally cuts US losses and acknowledges the failure of efforts to topple President Bashar Assad, former European Union adviser Paolo von Schirach told Sputnik.

On Friday, US Special Operations Command head Raymond Thomas said at a security forum that the administration ended the CIA train-and-arm initiative after assessing the nature of the program and its viability in light of US objectives.

“The chance of overthrowing Assad via military actions is a dream,” Schirach said. “US efforts to force regime change in Damascus by supporting the domestic Syrian opposition through military assistance have failed.”

Schirach, who is also the president of the Global Policy Institute and professor of international affairs at BAU University in Washington, said the decision to end the CIA training program marked a belated recognition by US policymakers that they were not going to be able to topple Assad and his government in Damascus, no matter how many weapons and support they funnelled to the rebels.

Trump’s decision showed US policymakers had abandoned a six year effort by the Obama administration to build up military rebel forces in Syria, Schirach claimed.

“I call this cutting one’s losses and moving on,” he said.

Schirach said some of Trump’s critics claimed that cutting off the rebels had been a major US favor to Russian President Vladimir Putin without getting anything in return.

“They argue that arming the Syrian rebels was smart because it created a pressure point against the Assad regime that could have been used at a later date as a bargaining chip during negotiations about a future settlement of the conflict in Syria,” he said.

However, Schirach maintained that Trump had scrapped a program that had already clearly failed at enormous cost.

“While the details about how much money was spent and how effective this operation has been are not publicly available, the truth is that the Syrian opposition aided by the US and several Arab countries was never very effective; and now it has been essentially beaten,” Schirach pointed out.

After the fall of Aleppo, the CIA-backed Syrian rebel groups lost any remaining chance of overthrowing the Damascus regime, or even inflicting serious damages to it, Schirach remarked.

The decision to end training and support for the Syrian rebel groups was not just a personal call by Trump but represented a major and sustained policy change by the US government, Schirach insisted.

“There seems to be a new consensus within the US Government that removing Assad from power is no longer a priority. [Previous President Barack] Obama instead repeatedly declared that Assad ‘had to go,’ because of his violations of human rights and other crimes against the Syrian people,” he recollected.

However, current Secretary of State Rex Tilllerson and others actually said publicly that the removal of Assad from power was no longer a precondition for any serious talks about the future of Syria, Schirach recalled.

“Given all this, continuing a CIA-funded operation aimed at arming a few Syrian rebels who do not have any realistic chances to achieve much against regular pro-Assad forces backed by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, seems like a waste of time and money,” he explained.

Syrian rebels who were included in the CIA-funded program who had counted on continuing US support would have every right to feel betrayed, Schirach acknowledged.

“But this would not be the first time in which allies of America have been dropped by Washington, on account of larger strategic considerations,” he remarked.

Trump reportedly decided to halt the training of Syrian rebels about a month ago after a meeting with CIA Director Mike Pompeo and national security adviser H.R. McMaster. The program originally ramped up in 2015 and was designed to produce a force of more than 5,000 troops to fight the Syrian government.

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July 25, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Q & A: The National Constituent Assembly in Venezuela

Venezuela Solidarity Campaign | Venezuelanalysis | July 24, 2017

Elections for a National Constituent Assembly are being held in Venezuela on July 30th. Here are some common questions – with the answers – that are being asked about the Assembly. (21/07/17)

What is a National Constituent Assembly (ANC), under Venezuelan law?

A National Constituent Assembly is essentially a constitutional convention, a gathering for the purpose of writing a new constitution or revising an existing constitution. Apart from the famous examples from the 18th century America and France, a range of other countries have employed this mechanism. In Venezuela, Article 347 of its constitution says:

The original constituent power rests with the people of Venezuela. This power may be exercised by calling a National Constituent Assembly for the purpose of transforming the State, creating a new juridical order and drawing up a new Constitution.”

Venezuela’s constitution is itself the product of a constitutional convention held in 1999, convened at the initiative of President Chávez to draft a new constitution. The constitution was later endorsed by referendum in December 1999. New general elections were held under the new constitution in July 2000.  This marked the transition from the Fourth Republic of Venezuela to the present-day Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

Is President Maduro allowed to call for the setting up of a Constituent Assembly?

Article 348 of the constitution provides for how a National Constituent Assembly is to be instigated:

The initiative for calling a National Constituent Assembly may emanate from the President of the Republic sitting with the Cabinet of Ministers; from the National Assembly by a two-thirds vote of its members; from the Municipal Councils in open session, by a two-thirds vote of their members; and from 15% of the voters registered with the Civil and Electoral Registry.

It is also important to note what Article 349 of the constitution says, bearing in mind (as explained later) that the right-wing opposition coalition, which has a majority in the National Assembly, is opposed to the calling of a National Constituent Assembly:

Article 349: “The President of the Republic shall not have the power to object to the new Constitution. The existing constituted authorities shall not be permitted to obstruct the Constituent Assembly in any way. For purposes of the promulgation of the new Constitution, the same shall be published in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Venezuela or in the Gazette of the Constituent Assembly.”

Why has President Maduro called for a National Constituent Assembly?

In a formal document which he signed in front of the National Electoral Council (CNE), President Maduro stated that the call for the Constituent Assembly was made in the context of the current social, political and economic circumstances in which there are severe internal and external threats against democracy and the constitutional order.

This refers to the right-wing opposition-led violence aimed at bringing down the elected Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The violence began in early April, resulting so far in scores of deaths and over 1,200 people injured. A key tactic in the violent protests is the use of ‘guarimbas’ or street blockades created by masked protesters.

The current violence has involved attacks on state facilities and services such as maternity hospitals, electricity supplies, food depots and public transport, and also targeted assassinations of government supporters. A ramping up of the aggression occurred in late June when a police officer flying a stolen helicopter attacked the Ministry of Interior building and the Supreme Court, firing shots and dropping four grenades.

The purpose of the Constituent Assembly has been expounded on by former Education Minister Elias Jaua, who explained in an interview with Televen, a private Venezuela TV channel, that its aims were “to maintain political stability, to solve the economic issues, to broaden and to strengthen the system of social welfare [and] to heal the social wounds that have come up during the conflict”.

When and how will the Constituent Assembly be made up?

Elections for Constituent Assembly are scheduled to take place on 30 July 2017.

Anybody, regardless of political persuasion, can be nominated or nominate themselves to be a candidate for election to the Constituent Assembly.

Candidates may be nominated in one of the following ways:

• by their own initiative.

• by the initiative of groups of voters and voters.

• by the initiative of the sectoral groups comprising173 seats of the 545 seat Constituent Assembly (see infogram)

In order to run for office on their own initiative, 3% of voters and voters registered in the electoral registry of the municipalities are required to nominate the constituents. In the sector category, the candidates will be nominated by the corresponding sector, and should receive the backing of 3% of the sector to which they belong.

From these various ways of being nominated, there are over 6,000 candidates competing for Constituent Assembly seats.

In keeping with how previous elections have been organised, the National Electoral Council (CNE) organised a ‘trial run’ of voting arrangements for the Constituent Assembly, setting up nearly 2,000 voting booths in voting centres across the country, in order to be assured that on election day everything would run smoothly and efficiently..

How will a new constitution emerge?

Once elected, the National Constituent Assembly will be convened within 72 hours and will get to work.

The Assembly will set its agenda for discussion on the basis of what it sees as national priorities. As convenor of the Assembly, however, the President has proposed nine topics for the Assembly to consider:

• the nation’s right and need for peace

• improvements to the country’s economy

• constitutional recognition of the various ‘Missions’ (government social programmes)

• an extension of the justice system’s scope, to end impunity for crimes

• constitutional recognition of new forms of popular and participatory democracy in Venezuela, such as communal councils and communes

• the defence of Venezuela’s sovereignty and protection against foreign intervention

• reinvigorating the plural, multicultural character of Venezuela

• a guarantee for the future of Venezuela’s youth through enshrining in the constitution their rights and the need to preserve life on the planet

Symbol of the National Constituent Assembly from government media campaign. Text: “The constituent [assembly] is going ahead!”

What is the right-wing opposition’s response to the National Constituent Assembly initiative?

Venezuela’s right-wing opposition, the so-called ‘Roundtable of Democratic Unity’ (MUD) coalition, originally announced in May that it would boycott the National Constituent Assembly and denounced it as an illegitimate effort to rewrite the nation’s constitution.

This is seemingly in contrast  to the position it held in 2013, when 55 opposition leaders signed a joint statement in support of setting up a constituent assembly.

Considering the opposition’s claim about the depth of the government’s unpopularity, echoed by most of the media, it is puzzling that opposition candidates will not be contesting all Constituent Assembly seats.

Instead of taking part in this legitimate constitutional process, the opposition held on July 16 their own unofficial plebiscite, asking whether voters recognised or rejected the Constituent Assembly process. Turnout levels for this exercise have been hotly disputed, since the process was not conducted under the auspices of the National Electoral Council and the voting was not independently audited.

How does this Constituent Assembly initiative fit with current peace and dialogue initiatives?

The convening of a Constituent Assembly is a key part of ongoing efforts by President Maduro to engage in constructive dialogue with the opposition.

The dialogue process was launched last year between the government and opposition sectors, but the right-wing MUD coalition has refused to participate.

Some opposition parties have accepted the offer of dialogue. Seventeen Venezuelan opposition parties met with the government to discuss the Constituent Assembly in May 2017. The parties who accepted the invitation included Citizenship Movement, Mopivene Movement, Republican Democracy, Republican Movement, Labour Power, Red Flag, Civilian Resistance, Renewable Democracy, Ecological Movement, Young Party and the Stone Party.

In an attempt to pursue dialogue, in early June Maduro sent a letter to Pope Francis asking him to mediate the political conflict with opposition sectors that have encouraged violence in the streets. Pope Francis has repeatedly urged dialogue between sectors in Venezuela, criticising part of the opposition for not being willing to sit down for talks, but without success. He has also called on Venezuelan bishops to denounce “any form of violence.”

President Maduro has followed this by again renewing his call for the opposition to agree to dialogue and peace, in order that solutions can be arrived at to meet the needs and well-being of the Venezuelan people. He has emphasised that these solutions can only be arrived at through cooperation and peace.

July 25, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , | Leave a comment