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Cuba Has Treated Over 26,000 Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster Victims

teleSUR | August 1, 2017

Since 1990, Cuban medics have treated over 26,000 victims of the 1986 nuclear disaster in Chernobyl, Ukraine, scientific network Scielo reported in a recent study.

The areas of treatment, according to Scielo, were primarily focused on dermatology, endocrinology and gastroenterology.

The report detailed that 84 percent of the total number of patients treated were children from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus. The majority of people were treated in 1991, when Cuban medics attended to 1,415 patients.

Over 1,000 children received medical treatment annually from 1990 to 1995.

With its main treatment area located on Tarara beach, east of Havana, the main objective of the program was to provide comfortable lodging facilities and an overall healthy environment, where patients could be treated and partake in a rehabilitation plan.

Apart from medical facilities, the locale included schools, a cooking center, a theater, parks and recreation areas.

After 21 years of solidarity treatment, all free of charge, the medical program came to an end in 2011.

In the early hours of April 26, 1986, a botched test at the nuclear plant in then-Soviet Ukraine triggered a meltdown that spewed deadly clouds of atomic material into the atmosphere, forcing the evacuation of tens of thousands of people.

More than 600,000 Soviet civilian and military personnel were drafted from across the country as liquidators to clean-up and contain the nuclear fallout.

Over 30 plant workers and firemen died in the immediate aftermath of the accident, most from acute radiation sickness.

Over the past three decades, thousands more have succumbed to radiation-related illnesses such as cancer, although the total death toll and long-term health effects remain a subject of intense debate.

August 1, 2017 Posted by | Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment

Russian envoy: Hamas national movement

Palestine Information Center – August 1, 2017

TEHRAN – Hamas is a national liberation movement and Moscow does not consider it a terrorist organization, Russian Ambassador to Tehran Levan Dzhagaryan said Tuesday.

Reporting from Tehran, a PIC news correspondent said Dzhagaryan told Hamas representative in Iran, Khaled al-Kaddoumi, that Hamas is a national resistance movement and one of the Palestinians’ main legitimate representatives.

The Russian ambassador reiterated his country’s support for the Palestinian cause and people.

Al-Kaddoumi briefed the Russian envoy on the Israeli violations in Occupied Jerusalem and the crimes committed against the Palestinian people and holy sites.

August 1, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , | 1 Comment

Fanciful Terrors: Bomb Plots and Australian Airport Security

By Binoy Kampmark | Dissident Voice | July 31, 2017

In the classroom of international security, Australia remains an infant wanting attention before the older hands.  During the Paris Peace talks, Prime Minister William Morris (“Billy”) Hughes screamed and hollered Australia’s wishes to gain greater concessions after its losses during the Great War, urging, among other things, a more punitive settlement for Germany.

In the post-September 2001 age, recognition comes in different forms, notably in the field of terrorism.  Australian authorities want recognition from their international partners; Australian security services demand attention from their peers. The premise of this call is simple if masochistic: Australia is worth torching, bombing and assailing, its values, however obscure, vulnerable before a massive, inchoate threat shrouded in obscurantism.

Over the weekend, the security services again displayed why adding fuel to the fire of recognition remains a burning lust for the Australian security complex. The inner-city suburb of Surry Hills in Sydney, and the south-western suburbs of Lakemba, Wiley and Punchbowl, witnessed raids and seizures of material that could be used to make an improvised explosive device.

What was notable here was the domesticity behind the alleged plot. Focus was specific to Surry Hills in what was supposedly an attempt to create an IED involving a domestic grinder and box containing a multi-mincer.  At stages, those with a culinary inclination might have been confused: were Australia’s best and brightest in the front line of security getting excited about the ill-use kitchen appliances might be put to?

The arrest provided yet another occasion Australian audiences are becoming familiar with: individuals arrested and detained, usually with no prior convictions let alone brush with the law, while the celebratory stuffing is sought to file charges under anti-terrorism laws.

But this was not a time for ironic reflection.  Australians needed to be frightened and reassured, a necessary dialectic that governments in trouble tend to encourage. First, comes the fear of death, launched by a sinister fundamentalist force; then comes the paternal reassurance of the patria: those in blue, green and grey will protect you.

Without even questioning the likelihood of success in any of these ventures (would this supposed device have ever gotten onto a plane?), such networks as Channel Nine news would insist that this could be the “13th significant conspiracy to be foiled by Australian authorities since the country’s terror threat level was raised to ‘probable’ in 2014.”

The Herald Sun was already dubbing this a Jihadi “meat mincer bomb plot”, happy to ignore the obvious point that details were horrendously sketchy. The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, deemed the conspiracy “elaborate”. (The foe must always be elevated to make the effort both worthwhile and free of folly.) The AFP Commissioner, Andrew Colvin, was convinced that this was “Islamic-inspired terrorism.  Exactly what is behind this is something we will need to investigate fully.”

Depending on what you scoured, reports suggested that this was a “non-traditional” device which was set to be used for an “Islamist inspired” cause.  The usual cadre of experts were consulted to simply affirm trends they could neither prove nor verify, with the “lone wolf” theme galloping out in front.

John Coyne of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s Border Security Program, for instance, plotted a kindergarten evolution for his audience: planes were used in September 2001; then came regionally focused incidents such as the Bali bombings, and now, in classic fatuity, “a new chapter arising or a return chapter almost”. “This is much more panned and deliberate, if the allegations are correct.”

Rita Panahi, whose writings prefer opinion to the inconvenience incurred by looking at evidence, cheered the weekend efforts and issued a reminder: “Remember the weekend’s terror raids next time you have to surrender a tube of sunscreen as you pass through airport security a second time, this time barefooted and beltless, and fearful you might miss your flight.”

For Panahi, this was a case that was done and dusted. These were “wannabe jihadis” (dead cert); they had plotted to inflict “mayhem and destruction on Australian soil” (naturally) and Australians needed to understand that an ungainly super structure of intrusive security measures were indispensable to security. Thank the counter-terrorism forces, luck and distance.

Such occasions also provide chicken feed for pecking journalists, many of whom have ceased the task of even procuring their beaks for the next expose.  Indeed, some were crowing, including one on ABC 24, that the “disruption” of an “imminent” attack had taken place at speed; that this “cell” had little chance of ever bringing their device to an aircraft.  Evidence and scrutiny are ill-considered, and the political classes are permitted to behave accordingly.

The Border Protection Minister, Peter Dutton, never happy to part with anything valuable on the subject of security, refused to confirm whether there had been an international dimension, a tip-off from intelligence agencies, or assistance.

“There will be lots of speculation around what the intent was,” claimed Dutton, “but obviously all of us have been working hard over recent days and we rely upon the expertise of the Federal Police and ASIO and other agencies.” He observed that there was “a lot of speculation around” which he did not wish to add to.

He need not have bothered, given that the opinion makers have formed a coalition of denial and embellishment so vast and enthusiastic so as to make Australia matter in the supposed global jihadi effort. It would come as a crushing disappointment to the infant in that room of international relations to realise otherwise.

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

August 1, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | 1 Comment

Pentagon Enjoys Impunity in Spite of the Rapidly Mounting Civilian Death Toll

By Grete Mautner – New Eastern Outlook – 01.08.2017

Somehow most of us grew accustomed to various media sources reporting horrific crimes against civilians committed by US servicemen in various regions of the world on the daily basis.

For instance, yet another air raid launched by US Air Force on July 25 in Afghanistan claimed a number of civilian lives. Eight people fell dead, including women and children. For local residents the fact that the area where the attack occurred is being contested by pro-government forces and various militant groups is yesterday’s news. However, as eyewitnesses argue, this time the strikes were aimed against civilians. There’s been reports that those who were trying to provide first aid to the victims of the air strike were outraged by the number of wounded minors. It’s curious that the contested Nangarhar province is located on the very border with Pakistan, so there are no large cities where hitting one’s designated target may be tricky. Americans have been bombing the area for a long time.

Under the conditions of self-declared military intervention, local authorities are forced to bear with the fact that the death of a single terrorist killed by US and NATO soldiers would be accompanied by a number of civilian lives lost in the process. However, the best the Pentagon has ever done for the relatives of its victims was the offering of pathetic condolences accompanied by a promise to “investigate the incident”. Just a few days ago US aircraft would “mistakenly” bomb an Afghan military base in the province of Helmand, claiming the lives of 17 Afghan policemen.

American air raids usually result in destroyed Afghanistan schools, as it was on July 15, when yet another school was attacked from the sky in the town of Kunduz, and destroyed hospitals, like the one run by Doctors Without Borders that was destroyed by a coalition air strike last October. Back then a total 24 people was murdered, including 12 medical practitioners and three children. Even wedding ceremonies that can be pretty massive in Afghanistan are not immune to such US and NATO attacks, as it happened in November in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar, when a single US air strike would claim a total of 95 civilians lives, while leaving another 50 people injured.

In the first half of 2017 alone a total of 5243 civilians suffered injuries during various skirmishes, with 1,662 of them suffering lethal injuries and 3,581 suffering non-lethal injured, says a report of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). Women and children are still suffering the most from the conflict. According to the above mentioned report, in the first 6 months of 2017, 174 women were killed and 462 injured. UNAMA chief Tadamichi Yamamoto has recently noted that Afghans continue to die, get injured, and be forced to abandon their homes to escape violence.

In Syria and Iraq, the death toll is even higher. The UN and human rights organizations are outraged, since they have long been accusing Washington of neglecting international law and the basic safety of the people they claim to be protecting. But nobody seems to listen.

For instance, the campaign that the West launched to pursue the liberation of Iraq turned out to be no less brutal than the war that was raging in the country. In spite of all sorts of statements that Washington would make about the so-called high precision strikes it would allegedly carry out in Mosul, a number of American media sources would publish satellite images of the city virtually reduced to ruins. According to the Independent, more than 40,000 civilians were killed in the devastating battle to retake Mosul from ISIS – a death toll far higher than was previously estimated.

It is necessary to conduct an independent investigation of the crimes committed against civilians of Iraqi Mosul. This statement was made by the international human rights organization known as Amnesty International. According to the human rights defenders, the US-led coalition conducted a “series of merciless and illegal attacks” in Mosul. In particular, it is asserted that the coalition has been using highly explosive and inaccurate ordinance. As it’s been stressed by the Amnesty International, the battle for Mosul led to a true humanitarian disaster.

But the strikes carry on, as it’s been reported the recent strike carried out by the US-led coalition last week against a prison in Syria’s Rakka, where ISIS would hold its hostages, resulted in a total of 30 people killed.

Syria’s civilian population is dying in hundreds at the hands of US servicemen that have no legal justification to even be present in Syria. The mounting death toll has been carefully tracked by the Airwars portal.

To mislead the international community and hide the true extent of the crimes that are being committed by US servicemen in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, thus preventing an international investigation from giving a careful evaluation of the bloody role that Washington played in the destruction of the Middle East, Washington has been routinely accusing Damascus of chemical weapons usage.

Just last June, the White House would announce that US intelligence sources were in possession of reports about the alleged preparations carried out by Syrian authorities to launch a chemical attack. These reports were followed by unfounded accusations against Damascus voiced by the opposition forces.

However, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joseph Dunford has been forced to publicly acknowledge that the Pentagon has no grounds to suspect the Syrian government of any instances of chemical weapons use.

However, the international community has every ground to accuse the United States of committing war crimes in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, where hundreds of civilians continue to perish due to indiscriminate American air raids, yet, no one has been brought to justice so far.

August 1, 2017 Posted by | Deception, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Groupthink at the CIA

Hating Russia and Trump is de rigueur

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • August 1, 2017

Long ago, when I was a spear carrying middle ranker at CIA, a colleague took me aside and said that he had something to tell me “as a friend,” that was very important. He told me that his wife had worked for years in the Agency’s Administrative Directorate, as it was then called, where she had noticed that some new officers coming out of the Career Trainee program had red tags on their personnel files. She eventually learned from her boss that the tags represented assessments that those officers had exceptional potential as senior managers. He added, however, that the reverse appeared to be true in practice as they were generally speaking serial failures as they ascended the bureaucratic ladder, even though their careers continued to be onward and upward on paper. My friend’s wife concluded, not unreasonably, that only genuine a-holes had what it took to get promoted to the most senior ranks.

I was admittedly skeptical but some recent activity by former and current Directors and Acting Directors of CIA has me wondering if something like my friend’s wife’s observation about senior management might indeed be true. But it would have to be something other than tagging files, as many of the directors and their deputies did not come up through the ranks and there seems to be a similar strain of lunacy at other U.S. government intelligence agencies. It might be time to check the water supply in the Washington area as there is very definitely something in the kool-aid that is producing odd behavior.

Now I should pause for a moment and accept that the role of intelligence services is to identify potential threats before they become active, so a certain level of acute paranoia goes with the job. But at the same time, one would expect a level of professionalism which would mandate accuracy rather than emotion in assessments coupled with an eschewing of any involvement in the politics of foreign and national security policy formulation. The enthusiasm with which a number of senior CIA personnel have waded into the Trump swamp and have staked out positions that contradict genuine national interests suggests that little has been learned since CIA Director George Tenet sat behind Secretary of State Colin Powell in the UN and nodded sagaciously as Saddam Hussein’s high crimes and misdemeanors were falsely enumerated.

Indeed, one can start with Tenet if one wants to create a roster of recent CIA Directors who have lied to permit the White House to engage in a war crime. Tenet and his staff knew better than anyone that the case against Saddam did not hold water, but President George W. Bush wanted his war and, by gum, he was going to get it if the CIA had any say in the matter.

Back then as now, international Islamic terrorism was the name of the game. It kept the money flowing to the national security establishment in the false belief that America was somehow being made “safe.” But today the terror narrative has been somewhat supplanted by Russia, which is headed by a contemporary Saddam Hussein in the form of Vladimir Putin. If one believes the media and a majority of congressmen, evil manifest lurks in the gilded halls of the Kremlin. Russia has recently been sanctioned (again) for crimes that are more alleged than demonstrated and President Putin has been selected by the Establishment as the wedge issue that will be used to end President Donald Trump’s defiance of the Deep State and all that pertains to it. The intelligence community at its top level would appear to be fully on board with that effort.

The most recent inexplicable comments come from the current CIA Director Mike Pompeo, speaking at the Aspen Institute Security Forum. He began by asserting that Russia had interfered in the U.S. election before saying that the logic behind Russia’s Middle Eastern strategy is to stay in place in Syria so Moscow can “stick it to America.” He didn’t define the “it” so one must assume that “it” stands for any utensil available, ranging from cruise missiles to dinner forks. He then elaborated, somewhat obscurely, that “I think they find anyplace that they can make our lives more difficult, I think they find that something that’s useful.”

Remarkably, he also said that there is only “minimal evidence” that Russia is even fighting ISIS. The statement is astonishing as Moscow has most definitely been seriously and directly engaged in support of the Syrian Arab Army. Is it possible that the head of the CIA is unaware of that? It just might be that Pompeo is disparaging the effort because the Russians and Syrians have also been fighting against the U.S. backed “moderate rebels.” That the moderate rebels are hardly moderate has been known for years and they are also renowned for their ineffectiveness combined with a tendency to defect to more radical groups taking their U.S. provided weapons with them, a combination of factors which led to their being denied any further American support by a presidential decision that was revealed in the press two weeks ago.

Pompeo’s predecessor John Brennan is, however, my favorite Agency leader in the category of totally bereft of his senses. In testimony before the House Intelligence Committee back in May, he suggested that some Trump associates might have been recruited by the Russian intelligence service. He testified that “I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and US persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals. It raised questions in my mind whether or not Russia was able to gain the co-operation of those individuals.”

In his testimony, Brennan apparently forgot to mention that the CIA is not supposed to keep tabs on American citizens. Nor did he explain how he had come upon the information in the first place as it had been handed over by foreign intelligence services, including the British, Dutch and Estonians, and at least some of it had been sought or possibly inspired by Brennan unofficially in the first place. Brennan then used that information to request an FBI investigation into a possible Russian operation directed against potential key advisers if Trump were to somehow get nominated and elected, which admittedly was a longshot at the time. That is how Russiagate started.

Brennan is certainly loyal to his cause, whatever that might be. At the same Aspen meeting attended by Pompeo, he told Wolf Blitzer that if Trump were to fire special counsel Robert Mueller government officials should “refuse to carry out” his orders. In other words, they should begin a coup, admittedly non-violent (one presumes), but nevertheless including federal employees uniting to shut the government down.

A lesser known former CIA senior official is John McLaughlin, who briefly served as acting Director in 2004. McLaughlin was particularly outraged by Trump’s recent speech to the Boy Scouts, which he described as having the feel “of a third world authoritarian’s youth rally.” He added that “It gave me the creeps… it was like watching the late Venezuelan [President Hugo] Chavez.”

And finally, there is Michael Morell, also a former Acting Director, who was closely tied to the Hillary Clinton campaign, apparently driven by ambition to become Director in her administration. Morell currently provides commentary for CBS television and is a frequent guest on the Charlie Rose show. Morell considerably raised the ante on Brennan’s pre-electoral speculation that there had been some Russian recruitment of Trump people. He observed in August that Putin, a wily ex-career intelligence officer, …“trained to identify vulnerabilities in an individual and to exploit them [did exactly that] early in the primaries. Mr. Putin played upon Mr. Trump’s vulnerabilities… In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.”

I and others noted at the time that Putin and Trump had never met, not even through proxies, while we also wondered how one could be both unwitting and a recruited agent as intelligence recruitment implies control and taking direction. Morell was non-plussed, unflinching and just a tad sanctimonious in affirming that his own intelligence training (as an analyst who never recruited a spy in his life) meant that “[I] call it as I see it.”

One could also cite Michael Hayden and James Clapper, though the latter was not CIA. They all basically hew to the same line about Russia, often in more-or-less the same words, even though no actual evidence has been produced to support their claims. That unanimity of thinking is what is peculiar while academics like Stephen Cohen, Stephen Walt, Andrew Bacevich, and John Mearsheimer, who have studied Russia in some depth and understand the country and its leadership far better than a senior CIA officer, detect considerable nuance in what is taking place. They all believe that the hardline policies current in Washington are based on an eagerness to go with the flow on the comforting inside-the- beltway narrative that paints Russia as a threat to vital interests. That unanimity of viewpoint should surprise no one as this is more or less the same government with many of the same people that led the U.S. into Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. They all have a vested interested in the health and well-being of a fully funded national security state.

And the other groupthink that seems to prevail among the senior managers except Pompeo is that they all hate Donald Trump and have done so since long before he won the election. That is somewhat odd, but it perhaps reflects a fear that Trump would interfere with the richly rewarding establishment politics that had enabled their careers. But it does not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of CIA employees. Though it is admittedly unscientific analysis on my part, I know a lot of former and some current CIA employees but do not know a single one who voted for Hillary Clinton. Nearly all voted for Trump.

Beyond that exhibition of tunnel vision and sheer ignorance, the involvement of former senior intelligence officials in politics is itself deplorable and is perhaps symptomatic of the breakdown in the comfortable bipartisan national security consensus that has characterized the past fifty years. Once upon time former CIA officers would retire to the Blue Ridge mountains and raise Labradors, but we are now into something much more dangerous if the intelligence community, which has been responsible for most of the recent leaks, begins to feel free to assert itself from behind the scenes. As Senator Chuck Schumer recently warned “Let me tell you: You take on the intelligence community — they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.”

August 1, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , | 2 Comments

US sanctions President Nicolas Maduro as Washington meddles further in Venezuela’s democracy

By Adam Garrie | The Duran | August 1, 2017

The United States continues to meddle in Venezuela’s democracy after yesterday’s nation wide vote for a Constitutional Assembly that will proceed with constitutional reforms aimed at ending the political deadlock between President Maduro and the country’s National Assembly which since 2015 has been controlled by the US backed right-wing opposition.

Before the results of the vote were even counted (they have yet to be fully tallied), the United States made it clear that Washington did not accept the vote. Washington’s Ambassador to the UN, the overzealous Nikki Haley Tweeted the following on the day of the vote. “Maduro’s sham election is another step toward dictatorship. We won’t accept an illegit govt. The Venezuelan ppl & democracy will prevail.”

Today, the US Treasury released the following statement, confirming that President Maduro is being personally sanctioned by the US government.

“The following individual has been added to OFAC’s SDN List: MADURO MOROS, Nicolas… President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela”.

Far from the beginning of US meddling in Venezuela, the United States for decades has funded right-wing opposition groups in Venezuela, most notoriously, that led by Henrique Capriles Radonski. For most of these years, the US has sought to undermine the Bolivarian socialist government of Hugo Chavez who died in what some call mysterious circumstances in 2013.

Since then, Chavez’s socialist successor has been Nicolas Maduro who has barely had a day in office free of US meddling of one sort or another.

Supporters of Maduro argue that the Bolivarian government has helped to redistribute the wealth of Venezuela’s considerable resources including its vast oil reserves which for years were run by foreign hands prior to nationalisation under President Savage. Maduro’s opponents attest that socialist rule has caused stagnation.

Whatever one’s views of Venezuela’s internal situation, it is a sovereign state that no nation, not least the United States has a right to interfere in.

It is ironic, verging on the surreal that while the United States political elites tear themselves to pieces over alleged meddling by Russia in the 2016 US Presidential election, meddling that is not backed up by a single shred of evidence, that same United States is openly and brazenly trying to interfere in the political process of Venezuela by pumping money into the right-wing opposition while unilaterally sanctioning the President.

While the United States attempts to isolate Venezuela, the country continues to maintain good relations with many other countries including Russia and China. In October of 2016, President Maduro awarded Russian President Vladimir Putin the Hugo Chavez Peace Prize which President Putin graciously accepted.

President Maduro insists he is ready for dialogue, but the US continues to act in ways which suggests it is ready for something far more dangerous: illegal regime change, possibly through the use of force.

August 1, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Shall We Fight Them All?

By Pat Buchanan • Unz Review • August 1, 2017

Saturday, Kim Jong Un tested an ICBM of sufficient range to hit the U.S. mainland. He is now working on its accuracy, and a nuclear warhead small enough to fit atop that missile that can survive re-entry.

Unless we believe Kim is a suicidal madman, his goal seems clear. He wants what every nuclear power wants — the ability to strike his enemy’s homeland with horrific impact, in order to deter that enemy.

Kim wants his regime recognized and respected, and the U.S., which carpet-bombed the North from 1950-1953, out of Korea.

Where does this leave us? Says Cliff Kupchan of the Eurasia Group, “The U.S. is on the verge of a binary choice: either accept North Korea into the nuclear club or conduct a military strike that would entail enormous civilian casualties.”

A time for truth. U.S. sanctions on North Korea, like those voted for by Congress last week, are not going to stop Kim from acquiring ICBMs. He is too close to the goal line.

And any pre-emptive strike on the North could trigger a counterattack on Seoul by massed artillery on the DMZ, leaving tens of thousands of South Koreans dead, alongside U.S. soldiers and their dependents.

We could be in an all-out war to the finish with the North, a war the American people do not want to fight.

Saturday, President Trump tweeted out his frustration over China’s failure to pull our chestnuts out of the fire: “They do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem.”

Sunday, U.S. B-1B bombers flew over Korea and the Pacific air commander Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy warned his units were ready to hit North Korea with “rapid, lethal, and overwhelming force.”

Yet, also Sunday, Xi Jinping reviewed a huge parade of tanks, planes, troops and missiles as Chinese officials mocked Trump as a “greenhorn President” and “spoiled child” who is running a bluff against North Korea. Is he? We shall soon see.

According to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump vowed Monday he would take “all necessary measures” to protect U.S. allies. And U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley bristled, “The time for talk is over.”

Are we headed for a military showdown and war with the North? The markets, hitting records again Monday, don’t seem to think so.

But North Korea is not the only potential adversary with whom our relations are rapidly deteriorating.

After Congress voted overwhelmingly for new sanctions on Russia last week and Trump agreed to sign the bill that strips him of authority to lift the sanctions without Hill approval, Russia abandoned its hopes for a rapprochement with Trump’s America. Sunday, Putin ordered U.S. embassy and consulate staff cut by 755 positions.

The Second Cold War, begun when we moved NATO to Russia’s borders and helped dump over a pro-Russian regime in Kiev, is getting colder. Expect Moscow to reciprocate Congress’ hostility when we ask for her assistance in Syria and with North Korea.

Last week’s sanctions bill also hit Iran after it tested a rocket to put a satellite in orbit, though the nuclear deal forbids only the testing of ballistic missiles that can carry nuclear warheads. Defiant, Iranians say their missile tests will continue.

Recent days have also seen U.S. warships and Iranian patrol boats in close proximity, with the U.S. ships firing flares and warning shots. Our planes and ships have also, with increasingly frequency, come to close quarters with Russian and Chinese ships and planes in the Baltic and South China seas.

While wary of a war with North Korea, Washington seems to be salivating for a war with Iran. Indeed, Trump’s threat to declare Iran in violation of the nuclear arms deal suggests a confrontation is coming.

One wonders: If Congress is hell-bent on confronting the evil that is Iran, why does it not cancel Iran’s purchases and options to buy the 140 planes the mullahs have ordered from Boeing?

Why are we selling U.S. airliners to the “world’s greatest state sponsor of terror”? Let Airbus take the blood money.

Apparently, U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Somalia are insufficient to satiate our War Party. Now it wants us to lead the Sunnis of the Middle East in taking down the Shiites, who are dominant in Iran, Iraq, Syria and South Lebanon, and are a majority in Bahrain and the oil-producing regions of Saudi Arabia.

The U.S. military has its work cut out for it. President Trump may need those transgender troops.

Among the reasons Trump routed his Republican rivals in 2016 is that he seemed to share an American desire to look homeward.

Yet, today, our relations with China and Russia are as bad as they have been in decades, while there is open talk of war with Iran and North Korea.

Was this what America voted for, or is this what America voted against?

Copyright 2017 Creators.com.

August 1, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | 2 Comments

Saudi forces set ablaze Shia homes in restive Awamiyah

An al-Alam photo shows rubble caused by the Saudi demolition of Awamiyah, Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia.
Press TV – August 1, 2017

Saudi forces have set fire to homes belonging to Shia residents in the besieged town of Awamiyah that has been the scene of a heavy-handed regime crackdown on the minority community.

Based on local reports, Saudi forces have thrown Shia citizens out of their homes and then torched their properties.

Awamiyah, situated in Eastern Province, has long been a flashpoint between the Saudi kingdom and the inhabitants complaining of discrimination.

It has witnessed renewed deadly clashes between the military and residents since May, when Saudi forces began razing the town’s old quarter, known as al-Mosawara.

Saudi authorities claim that Mosawara’s narrow streets have become a hideout for militants suspected of being behind attacks on security forces in Eastern Province.

The UN, however, said Saudi Arabia was erasing cultural heritage and violating human rights through Mosawara’s demolition.

Karima Bennoune, the UN special rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, said Saudi authorities ignored repeated pleas by the world body to halt the destruction.

“These destructions erase the traces of this historic and lived cultural heritage and are clear violations of Saudi Arabia’s obligations under international human rights law,” Bennoune said, accusing the Saudi forces of “irreparably burning down” historic buildings and forcing residents to flee their homes.

Leilani Farha, the UN special rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, also warned that the Saudi move “constitutes a forced eviction under international human rights law.”

Additionally, Ali al-Dubisi, the head of the Berlin-based European Saudi Organization for Human Rights, said the Saudi forces were following a scorched-land policy in Awamiyah, launching rocket attacks and shelling residential buildings and civilians who are resisting Saudi pressures to evacuate.

Since February 2011, Saudi Arabia has stepped up security measures in Shia-dominated Eastern Province, which has been rocked by anti-regime demonstrations, with protesters demanding free speech, the release of political prisoners, and an end to economic and religious discrimination.

The government has suppressed pro-democracy movements, but they have intensified since January 2016 when Saudi Arabia executed respected Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

August 1, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , | Leave a comment

Turkey, US accuse each other of terror sponsorship in Syria

Press TV – August 1, 2017

Turkey and the United States have been accusing each other of supporting various terrorist groups in Syria.

Brett H. McGurk, the US special envoy to the international coalition against the Daesh terrorist group, has suggested that Turkey facilitates al-Qaeda terrorists in Syria’s Idlib Province.

He said in a speech delivered at a Washington-based think tank on July 29 that Idlib has turned into a “safe zone for al-Qaeda terrorists on the Turkish border,” asking “why and how” a deputy to al-Qaeda’s leader had allegedly managed to travel to the Syrian province.

He said it might not be the best approach for some partners of the US “to send tens of thousands of weapons and turn their faces to the other side as foreign fighters enter this area,” according to reports.

The US, McGurk reportedly said, intended to work with Turkey to have the border closed to recruited militants.

Ankara has strongly denounced McGurk’s “provocative” remarks, accusing Washington of terror sponsorship in Syria by supporting the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara views as the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a militant group that has been fighting the central Turkish government since 1984.

“Our reaction to the statements of Brett McGurk, in which he associated Turkey with the presence of terrorist organizations in Idlib, was brought to Mr. McGurk’s attention at a high-level démarche, and his statements, which could be characterized as provocative, were protested,” Turkish media on Monday quoted Foreign Ministry spokesperson Huseyin Muftuoglu as saying.

Muftuoglu also said that the US had to end its support for the Kurdish Democratic Party, aka PYD.

A Turkish Foreign Ministry official, who asked not to be named, also told Hurriyet Daily News that Foreign Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Sedat Onal had urged the US envoy to “correct” his statements.

The official added that Onal warned that such remarks could harm mutual cooperation between Turkey and the US, which is seeking cooperation with Ankara for the post-Daesh period in Syria.

Syria has been gripped by militancy since March 2011, when a section of the opposition in the country took up arms against President Bashar al-Assad. A vast mix of foreign terrorists soon blended with the armed opposition, joining the fight against the Syrian government.

August 1, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Going Soft on Corporate Crime a Bipartisan Affair

By Russell Mokhiber | CounterPunch | July 31, 2017

Donald Trump is not a fan of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the law that says it’s illegal for any person — corporate or human — to bribe overseas.

Trump has called the FCPA “a horrible law” and has said that the law “puts us at a huge disadvantage.”

And you could argue that the Trump Justice Department’s first two FCPA enforcement cases reflect Trump’s point of view.

Both were declinations — despite the fact that the companies disclosed illegal overseas payments and agreed to disgorge illegally gained proceeds.

Some are using the cases to ask the question — is Trump soft on corporate crime?

As the lawyers say, let’s stipulate for the record that he is.

But let’s also remember that going soft on corporate crime was perfected by the Democrats.

The Obama Justice Department, for example, regularly used declinations — five in Obama’s last year in office — and non prosecution agreements — 22 over the eight years of his administration — to settle corporate FCPA matters.

And since September 2015, when the Obama administration put out the Yates memo calling for more prosecutions of individual executives, there have been 20 FCPA corporate prosecution agreements — yet not one individual has been charged in connection with those cases.

There are those in the get tough on corporate crime camp — like David Uhlmann, former head of the Environmental Crimes Section at the Justice Department and now a University of Michigan Law professor — who argue that if a corporation commits a serious crime, then a corporation should be convicted.

We’re talking guilt — as in guilty pleas.

For environmental crimes, that has been the practice.

Over the past fifteen years, 93 percent of major corporate criminal environmental cases ended with public companies pleading guilty to their crimes.

Same for antitrust corporate crimes.

Over the past fifteen years, 74 percent of major corporate criminal antitrust cases ended with public companies pleading guilty to their crimes.

But only 29 percent of corporate criminal FCPA cases were settled with guilty pleas.

And only 8 percent of securities fraud cases have been settled with guilty pleas.

Why?

You might ask — maybe these corporations weren’t guilty?

Not likely, because in almost every one of these cases — no matter the type of soft settlement — deferred prosecution, non prosecution, declination — the company admits to illegal wrongdoing.

The companies admit to their criminal wrongdoing in documents that are now publically available on a new web site — the Corporate Prosecution Registry — created by University of Virginia Law School Professor Brandon Garrett.

And what do we learn from this comprehensive corporate crime database?

That there is a two tier system of corporate criminal justice — one for the smaller, politically less well connected companies — which generally are forced to plead guilty to their crimes — and one for large, politically well connected public companies — which generally enter into softer alternative resolutions — declinations, non prosecution agreements and deferred prosecution agreements.

Or if they are forced to plead guilty, it’s not the parent forced to plead guilty but some unit that won’t be adversely affected by any debarment or other collateral sanction that might follow.

The dominant corporate narrative —  driven by the corporate crime defense law firms — is that big public companies — especially banks and financial institutions — even if they commit the crimes, can’t withstand the brunt force trauma of a guilty plea.

They say — the company will be driven out of business. Innocent shareholders will lose money and innocent workers lose their jobs. A corporate guilty plea is the equivalent of the corporate death penalty.

Not true.

Top corporate crime prosecutors and defense attorneys — they’re interchangeable and regularly swap places via the revolving door — are expert at crafting guilty pleas that avoid these consequences.

That’s why when prosecutors want to, they can get guilty pleas — even for big banks — who for years dodged any personal or corporate criminal liability for causing the 2008 financial collapse.

Burned by that public criticism, the Obama Justice Department in May 2015, thought it was necessary to throw the public a bone.

And they did just that by forcing Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, The Royal Bank of Scotland, UBS and Barclays to plead guilty to felonies in connection with a conspiracy to fix foreign exchange markets.

Why doesn’t the Justice Department demand felony guilty pleas from parents in more big corporate crime cases?

Power and money. The big companies don’t want to plead guilty even when they are guilty. They have corporate reputations to protect. And they have the power and money to hire the best corporate criminal defense law firms to get the job done.

The lawyers’ marching orders?

For the corporate parent, anything but a guilty plea.

Move down the corporate crime ladder from guilty plea to deferred prosecution to non prosecution to declination.

In the parallel Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) case, move down the ladder from admission to no admission with a neither admit nor deny consent decree.

In a World Bank proceeding, move down the ladder from a debarment to a reprimand or a conditional non-debarment agreement.

Some say that it was Obama’s slippery slide down the corporate crime ladder — he hit bottom with not one executive or bank criminally charged for the 2008 financial meltdown — that fueled the populist revolt that helped Trump take the White House.

We don’t want to become Brazil, a country battered by wave after wave of corporate crime and corruption.

It’s time to restore a modicum of corporate criminal justice that will deliver tangible deterrence.

Let’s start by moving back up the ladder of corporate justice.

If a company commits a felony, it should plead guilty to a felony.

No more deferrals, non prosecutions and declinations in major corporate crime cases.

Russell Mokhiber is the editor of the Corporate Crime Reporter..

August 1, 2017 Posted by | Corruption | , | Leave a comment