Aletho News


Iran trade is not vulnerable to US sanctions

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | February 28, 2018

The fear mongers among the Indian elite spread a canard that India needs to be watchful of American wrath if it expands economic ties with Iran. Of course, that is plain baloney. The Modi government has announced a decision to sequester India-Iran relations from US sanctions by allowing Indian companies and entities to use the national currency. This decision coincided with President Hassan Rouhani’s recent visit and becomes a landmark event in the chronicle of India-Iran relations.

Interestingly, European countries are also moving in the same direction as India. Their plan is to offer euro-denominated credits to Iranian buyers of their goods and services, which will keep the transactions beyond the reach of any US sanctions. France has already announced its intention to offer dedicated, euro-dominated export guarantees to Iranian buyers, which dispense with any US link, whether to the dollar or otherwise.

Like India, European countries also are staunch supporters of the Iran nuclear deal. Like India, they also are on the lookout for increasing their trade with Iran. The head of France’s state-owned Public Investment Bank (Bpifrance) Nicolas Dufurcq said last week with a touch of sarcasm, “This is a completely separate flow (of money). There is no dollar in this scheme… no one holding a US passport.” (One might say about the Indian elite, perhaps – “no one holding a Green Card.”)

Dufurcq was addressing French lawmakers in Paris. He disclosed that there is a pipeline of about 1.5 billion euros in potential contracts for French exporters in the Iranian market. France used to have close business ties with Iran and French manufacturing plants are still operating in Iran. Other European countries such as Germany, Belgium, Austria and Italy are also following the French example to insulate their economic relations with Iran from US sanctions. Italy and Iran agreed recently on a framework agreement that provides Italian credit up to 5 billion euros for its companies making investments in Iran. The credit agreement is between state-owned agencies in the two countries.

Unfortunately, Indian analysts largely go by the jaundiced opinions about Iran disseminated by the US media. The stunning reality is that in the last financial year the post-sanctions Iranian economy surged by 16%. Importantly, Iran is unique among the petrodollar states of the Persian Gulf in having a concerted strategy to grow its non-oil economy. And that is where lucrative business opportunities lie for Indian trade and industry.

Of course, the stabilization of oil prices above $50 per barrel also helps boost Iran’s income. Thus, the Modi government’s plans for a huge expansion of economic relations with Iran are based on a sound assessment. This is what Professor Juan Cole, the noted American expert on the Middle East wrote in his blog Informed Comment :

  • US pressure on Iran is not insignificant and does slow its economic progress. But if you tallied up wins and losses, there does not seem much question that Iran is gradually winning. That progress by Tehran is because of the nuclear accord, which reassured most of the world. Tehran should stick with it.

To be sure, Iran intends to stick to the nuclear accord and keep its part of the bargain so long as the international community abides by the July 2015 agreement. Tehran places great store on the support from European countries. (Read a piece in LobLog by former British diplomat Peter Jenkins, A Nuclear Deal With Iran Remains The Least Bad Option)

Iranian foreign policy is making an historic shift in its integration with the international community. The Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said on February 19 in a national address, “In foreign policy today, the top priorities for us include preferring East to West.” Of course, it is another side of the Iranian ideology of preserving the country’s strategic autonomy. Yet, importantly, Khamenei didn’t exclude the West.

Détente with the US was Iran’s expectation in negotiating the 2015 nuclear deal but the growing feeling is that this will not be possible so long as the Trump administration is in power. It was an historic mistake on the part of the Obama administration not to have taken the nuclear deal to its logical conclusion by removing the residual US sanctions that hamper banking ties and, secondly, by engaging Iran constructively on issues of regional security and stability. The bottom line is that Iran has a surprisingly flexible foreign policy – pragmatic to dealings with the West. It’s the Israeli lobby, stupid – in Washington and Delhi!

February 28, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 5 Comments

Don’t Believe Your Lying Eyes

corbettreport | February 27, 2018

We all know that the “Deep Fakes” application that’s going viral on the internet is only a crude toy compared to the technologies the government-sponsored, defence department-linked researchers have been playing with. Here’s an example from the year 2000 that shows that real-time video fakery technology has been available to the deep state for decades.


February 28, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Video | Leave a comment

Israeli Occupation Forces arrest former governor of al-Khalil

Palestine Information Center – February 28, 2018

AL-KHALIL – The Israeli Occupation Forces arrested Tuesday evening former governor of al-Khalil city Abdel Halim Ja’bari after being summoned for investigation.

Local sources affirmed that Ja’bari, 70, was summoned Tuesday morning for investigation in Etzion investigation center where he was later detained.

Ja’bari was the head of al-Khalil University for Academic Affairs, al-Khalil’s governor between 2002 and 2007, and Jericho’s governor in 2008.

February 28, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | 1 Comment

America’s Democracy Hypocrisy

By Thomas Knapp | The Garrison Center | February 27, 2018

In late February, Venezuela’s government began accepting presidential candidate registrations and announced a snap legislative election for April. The country’s opposition denounces the process as a sham and Maduro as a dictator, both of which may be true.

Oddly,  a third voice — the US government — also weighed in. Per US state media outlet Voice of America, “the United States, which under President Donald Trump has been deeply critical of Maduro’s leadership in crisis-torn and economically suffering Venezuela, on Saturday rejected the call for an early legislative vote.”

Given the perpetual public pearl-clutching over alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, that’s some major league chutzpah.

The US State Department wants “‘a free and fair election’ involving full participation of all political leaders, the immediate release of all political prisoners, credible international observation and an independent electoral authority.

Let’s take that one at a time.

Participation of all political leaders? In some US states, it’s harder for a third party to get on a ballot than in, say, Iran.

The immediate release of all political prisoners? Last I heard, US president Donald Trump hadn’t pardoned (among others) Leonard Peltier.

Credible international observation? The US proper committed to admitting international election observers in the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe’s 1990 Copenhagen Document, but many US states forbid international observers or, for that matter, local observers who aren’t affiliated with one of the two ruling parties.

Electoral authorities? The two ruling parties control them all and routinely use them to suppress threatened competition, as do pseudo-private entities like the Commission on Presidential Debates, which makes giant illegal (but government approved) in-kind contributions to the Republican and Democratic candidates in the form of televised candidate beauty pageants which exclude the opposition parties.

Writing in The Atlantic, veteran election meddler Thomas O. Mela — formerly of the US State Department, the  US Agency for International Development, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House — argues that election meddling is different when the US does it, because … well, “democracy.”

Mela asserts a “difference between programs to strengthen democratic processes in another country (without regard to specific electoral outcomes), versus efforts to manipulate another country’s election in order to sow chaos, undermine public confidence in the political system, and diminish a country’s social stability.”

The US government spends a lot of time and money (USAID’s budget alone is about one-tenth the budget of the entire Russian government) on foreign election meddling, and somehow “democracy” always gets interpreted as “whatever outcome the US government prefers at the moment.”

Perhaps we should get our own democratic house in order instead of, or at least before, presuming to tell the rest of the world how democracy does or should work.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (

February 28, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Facebook: No Russian trace in pro-Brexit campaigning

RT | February 28, 2018

Facebook has not found any indications that Russia interfered in the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union referendum.

Experts from the social media giant did not find any evidence of active advertising initiated by Russian accounts during the Brexit vote.

A letter from Simon Milner, Facebook’s director of policy in the UK, to Conservative MP Damian Collins, who heads the parliamentary committee on digital culture, media and sport, said investigators failed to find a shred of evidence that Russia tried to influence the referendum.

“The investigative team did not find additional and coordinated Russian-linked accounts or pages supplying advertising in the UK within the framework of the referendum on the EU during the relevant period, in addition to the minimal activity that we reported earlier,” Milner’s letter reads.

A previous investigation by Youtube also found no evidence of Russian interference in the Brexit campaign.

Both of the companies carried out the probes in the aftermath of a report from PR firm 89up, which found that Russian media outlets RT and Sputnik were a major influence on the outcome of the referendum.

February 28, 2018 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

US undermining UN anti-biowarfare effort while building its own security mechanism – Lavrov

RT | February 28, 2018

The US is continuing to block all efforts to create a verification mechanism for the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention, which came into force in 1975, while creating its own mechanism for biowarfare security, the Russian FM said.

The convention, which was ratified decades ago, still lacks a formal verification regime to monitor the compliance of signatories. According to Sergey Lavrov, the US contributed to this flaw in the key non-proliferation document out of self-interest.

“I hope our American colleagues realize that it is their responsibility to find a way out of this dead end,” he said. “So far, unfortunately, they have been preserving this dead end and, in the meantime, tried to create a system of US-controlled biowarfare security, which can be manipulated, through imposing bilateral agreements with various nations that are not covered by the scope of the Convention,” added Lavrov.

The Russian foreign minister was speaking at a session of the UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on Wednesday.

February 28, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | | 1 Comment

The Authoritarians Who Silence Syria Questions

By Jonathan Cook | CounterPunch | February 28, 2018

I am loath to draw more attention to the kind of idiocy that passes for informed comment nowadays from academics and mainstream journalists. Recently I lambasted Prof Richard Carver for his arguments against BDS that should have gained him an F for logic in any high school exam.

Now we have to endure Brian Whitaker, the Guardian’s former Middle East editor, using every ploy in the misdirection and circular logic playbook to discredit those who commit thought crimes on Syria, by raising questions both about what is really happening there and about whether we can trust the corporate media consensus banging the regime-change drum.

Whitaker’s arguments and assumptions may be preposterous but sadly, like Carver’s, they are to be found everywhere in the mainstream – they have become so commonplace through repetition that they have gained a kind of implicit credibility. So let’s unpack what Whitaker and his ilk are claiming.

Whitaker’s latest outburst is directed against the impudence of a handful of British academics, including experts in the study of propaganda, in setting up a panel – the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media – to “provide a source of reliable, informed and timely analysis for journalists, publics and policymakers” on Syria. The researchers include Tim Hayward of Edinburgh University and Piers Robinson of Sheffield University.

So what are Whitaker’s objections to this working group? Let’s run through them, with my interjections.

Whitaker: They dispute almost all mainstream narratives of the Syrian conflict, especially regarding the use of chemical weapons and the role of the White Helmets search-and-rescue organisation. They are critical of western governments, western media and various humanitarian groups but show little interest in applying critical judgment to Russia’s role in the conflict or to the controversial writings of several journalists who happen to share their views.

Western governments and western corporate media have promoted a common narrative on Syria. It has been difficult for outsiders to be sure of what is going on, given that Syria has long been a closed society, a trend only reinforced by the last seven years of a vicious civil-cum-proxy war, and the presence of brutal ISIS and al Qaeda militias.

Long before the current fighting, western governments and Israel expressed a strong interest in overthrowing the government of Bashar Assad. In fact, their desire to be rid of Assad dates to at least the start of the “war on terror” they launched after 9/11, as I documented in my book Israel and the Clash of Civilisations.

Very few corporate journalists have been on the ground in Syria. (Paradoxically, those who have are effectively embedded in areas dominated by al Qaeda-type groups, which western governments are supporting directly and through Gulf intermediaries.) Most of these journalists are relying on information provided by western governments, or from groups with strong, vested interests in Assad’s overthrow.

Should we take this media coverage on trust, as many of us did the lies promoted about Iraq and later Libya by the same western governments and corporate media? Or should we be far more wary this time, especially as those earlier regime-change operations spread more chaos, suffering and weapons across the Middle East, and fuelled a migrant crisis now empowering the far-right across much of Europe?

Whitaker and his ilk are saying we should not. Or more disingenuously, Whitaker is saying that the working group, rather than invest its energies in this supremely important research, should concentrate its limited resources on studying Russian propaganda on Syria. In other words, the researchers should duplicate the sterling efforts of Whitaker’s colleagues in daily attributing the superpowers of a James Bond villain to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Here’s a counter-proposal: how about we leave well-funded western governments and media corporations to impugn Putin at every turn and on every pretext, while we allow the working group to check whether there is a large (larger?) mote in the west’s eye?

Whitaker: The worrying part, though, especially in the light of their stated intention to seek ‘research funding’, is their claim to be engaging in ‘rigorous academic analysis’ of media reporting on Syria.

Is this really so worrying? Why not allow a handful of academics to seek funds to try to untangle the highly veiled aid – money and arms – that western governments have been pumping into a war tearing apart Syria? Why not encourage the working group to discern more clearly the largely covert ties between western security services and groups like the White Helmets “search-and-rescue service”? One would think supposedly adversarial journalists would be all in favour of efforts to dig up information about western involvement and collusion in Syria.

Whitaker: But while members of the group are generally very critical of mainstream media in the west, a handful of western journalists — all of them controversial figures — escape similar scrutiny. Instead, their work is lauded and recommended.

More of Whitaker’s circular logic.

Of course, the few independent journalists (independent of corporate interests) who are on the ground in Syria are “controversial” – they are cast as “controversial” by western governments and corporate journalists precisely because they question the consensual narrative of those same governments and journalists. Duh!

Further, these “controversial” journalists are not being “lauded”. Rather, their counter-narratives are being highlighted by those with open minds, like those in the working group. Without efforts to draw attention to these independent journalists’ work, their reporting would most likely disappear without trace – precisely the outcome, one senses, Whitaker and his friends would very much prefer.

It is not the critical thinkers on Syria who are demanding that only one side of the narrative is heard; it is western governments and supposedly “liberal” journalists like Whitaker and the Guardian’s George Monbiot. They think they can divine the truth through … the corporate media, which is promoting narratives either crafted in western capitals or derived from ties to groups like the White Helmets located in jihadist-controlled areas.

Again, why should the working group waste its finite energies scrutinising these independent journalists when they are being scrutinised – and vilified – non-stop by journalists like Whitaker and by big-budget newspapers like the Guardian ?

In any case, if official western narratives truly withstand the working group’s scrutiny, then the claims and findings of these independent journalists will be discredited in the process. These two opposed narratives cannot be equally true, after all.

Whitaker: The two favourites, though, are Eva Bartlett and Vanessa Beeley — ’independent’ journalists who are frequent contributors to the Russian propaganda channel, RT. Bartlett and Beeley also have an enthusiastic following on ‘alternative’ and conspiracy theory websites though elsewhere they are widely dismissed as propagandists.

“Widely dismissed” by … yes, that’s right, Whitaker’s friends in the corporate media! More circular logic. Independent journalists like Bartlett and Beeley are on RT because Whitaker’s chums at British propaganda outlets – like the Guardian and BBC – do not give, and have never given, them a hearing. The Guardian even denied them a right of reply after its US-based technology writer Olivia Solon (whose resume does not mention that she was ever in Syria) was awarded a prominent slot in the paper to smear them as Kremlin propagandists, without addressing their arguments or evidence.

Whitaker: [Bartlett and Beeley’s] activities are part of the overall media battle regarding Syria and any ‘rigorous academic analysis’ of the coverage should be scrutinising their work rather than promoting it unquestioningly.

There is no “media battle”. That’s like talking of a “war” between Israel, one of the most powerful armies in the world, and the lightly armed Palestinian resistance group Hamas – something the western corporate media do all the time, of course.

Instead there is an unchallenged western media narrative on Syria, one in favour of more war, and more suffering, until what seems like an unrealisable goal of overthrowing Assad is achieved. On the other side are small oases of scepticism and critical thinking, mostly on the margins of social media, Whitaker wants snuffed out.

The working group’s job is not to help him in that task. It is to test whether or how much of the official western narrative is rooted in truth.

Returning to his “concerns” about RT, Whitaker concludes that the station’s key goal:

is to cast doubt on rational but unwelcome explanations by advancing multiple alternative ‘theories’ — ideas that may be based on nothing more than speculation or green-ink articles on obscure websites.

But it precisely isn’t such “green-ink” articles that chip away at the credibility of an official western consensus. It is the transparently authoritarian instincts of a political and media elite – and of supposedly “liberal” journalists like Whitaker and Monbiot – to silence all debate, all doubt, all counter-evidence.

Because at heart he is an authoritarian courtier, Whitaker would like us to believe that only crackpots and conspiracy theorists promote these counter-narratives. He would prefer that, in the silence he hopes to impose, readers will never be exposed to the experts who raise doubts about the official western narrative on Syria.

That is, the same silence that was imposed 15 years ago, when his former newspaper the Guardian and the rest of the western corporate media ignored and dismissed United Nations weapons experts like Scott Ritter and Hans Blix. Their warnings that Iraq’s supposed WMD really were non-existent and were being used as a pretext to wage a disastrous colonial war went unheard.

Let’s not allow Whitaker and like-minded bully-boys once again to silence such critical voices.

February 28, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Assad, Kim & chemical weapons: NYT ties in all the ‘villains’ in story on leaked UN report

RT | February 28, 2018

What could be better to beat the drum for regime change than tying North Korean missiles to Syria and chemical weapons? Apparently, the New York Times did just that when it wrote about a leaked UN report.

The article, run by the respectable US newspaper on Tuesday, is based on a 200-page report by a group of eight experts who were tasked by the UN Security Council to monitor how sanctions against North Korea are implemented. The country was punished for developing nuclear weapons and rocket technology with serious restrictions on how it can trade with foreign nations and has been finding ways to circumvent those.

The NYT focused on two particular episodes mentioned in the report. One was the interception in January 2017 of two ships carrying acid-resistant tiles from North Korea to Syria, with three other such contracted shipments revealed via paper tracking, although whether or not they were actually made remains unclear. The UN experts said such tiles are “commonly used in the construction of chemical weapons factories.”

Another episode happened in August 2016, when a delegation of “North Korean missile technicians” visited Syria and brought with them “special resistance valves and thermometers known for use in chemical weapons,” according to the report. Both episodes were reported to the UN panel by unidentified UN personnel.

Experts who reviewed the report on behalf of the newspaper said the evidence presented by the UN “did not prove definitively that there was current, continuing collaboration between North Korea and Syria on chemical weapons.” The NYT did not say how or when it obtained the UN document, which is not available to the public.

The publication of the report comes as the Syrian government stands accused of repeatedly using chemical weapons against civilian targets in eastern Ghouta, a neighborhood of Damascus controlled by several jihadist groups. The alleged attacks with chlorine gas – which make little sense from the military point of view – are reported by local sources with ties to the militants. They cannot be verified by independent observers, including those from the countries openly calling for the toppling of the Syrian President Bashar Assad, like the US.

This does not stop the Western mainstream media from bombarding their audiences with reports of intolerable civilian suffering inflicted by the Russia-backed “Assad regime” and “experts” calling for a US-led military intervention against Damascus. With Assad presented as a contender to the title of the world’s top villain, adding Kim Jong-un of North Korea, another figure reviled in the West, would apparently bolster the bellicose narrative.

One may almost suspect that the US media have not learned their collective lesson from the run-up for the Iraqi invasion. Joseph Kahn, the managing editor of the New York Times, assured everyone last month  that the coverage of the Iraqi WMDs was “an example of seriously flawed policy for political goal,” and that the paper has since made changes to editorial policy. We can now rest assured that the Syria coverage is a different story altogether.

Read more:

Pentagon admits zero evidence of E. Ghouta chem attack – but blames Russia all the same

February 28, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

Syria Cannot Use Chemical Weapons Because It Has None – Syrian Envoy to UN

Sputnik – February 28, 2018

The Syrian Envoy to the United Nations Hussam Edin Aala has addressed the participants of the conference on disarmament, commenting on the accusations against Damascus on the use of chemical weapons.

“Syria cannot possibly be using chemical weapons because it very simply has none in its possession,” Aala told the United Nations-sponsored Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.

The envoy’s speech follows the accusations of US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert against Damascus, claiming that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons near Idlib’s city of Saraqib. Accoding to Nauert, Washington believes that Russia was shielding the Syrian authorities from accountability for its alleged continued use of chemical weapons.

Earlier this month, the UN-mandated Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic launched an investigation into reports of the alleged use of chlorine in the Syrian provinces of Idlib and Eastern Ghouta.

Reacting to the investigation, the Russian Defense Ministry has refuted all the allegations, saying that the US claims were based on rumors and information from militants and that the accusations have never been proven with facts.

Situation in Eastern Ghouta

Meanwhile, the Russian Defense Ministry noted that despite numerous claims and accusations against Damascus regarding the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government, none of them has ever been proved to be true.

As the ministry specified, concerning the alleged chemical use in Khan Sheikhoun the UN had failed to conduct substantial investigation as their experts were unable to reach the war-torn area. However, in the case of Eastern Ghouta, UN representatives have full access to the area.

Accusations Against Syria Over Alleged Chemical Weapons Use

The voiced claims are not the first ones: on October 26, the UN OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) issued a report, claiming that the Syrian government was responsible for the April 4 sarin attack on the Syrian city of Khan Sheikhoun.

The JIM’s report alleged that there was sarin nerve gas used in the attack and that it was drawn from stockpiles that the Syrian government, which had been destroyed as part of a 2013 deal with the US and Russia — a process the OPCW itself signed off on as having been completed that November.

For its part, the Syrian government refuted the report, saying that the UN experts had not done any investigations directly at the scene of the incident.


OPCW-UN Report: ‘West Encouraging Syrian Terrorists to Get Chemical Weapons’

February 28, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

U.S. Escalates Threat Against Iran After Russia U.N. Veto

By Tyler Durden | Zero Hedge | February 27, 2018

The United States has escalated international tensions with Iran, threatening unilateral action against the Islamic Republic on Monday after Russia vetoed a United Nations Security Council motion to call out Tehran for allowing weapons to fall into the hands of Yemen’s Houthi group.

If Russia is going to continue to cover for Iran then the U.S. and our partners need to take action on our own. If we’re not going to get action on the council then we have to take our own actions,” said U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley during a visit to the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa.

Haley did not specify what type of action she meant, however the Russian veto was a big blow to the United States which has been lobbying for months to hold Iran accountable at the U.N. – while also threatening to withhold waivers on U.S. sanctions unless the “terrible flaws of the Iran nuclear deal” are fixed.

“Obviously this vote isn’t going to make the decision on the nuclear deal. What I can say is it doesn’t help,” Haley said. “That just validated a lot of what we already thought which is Iran gets a pass for its dangerous and illegal behavior.”

President Trump warned European allies in January that they would need to commit to fixing the nuclear deal by May 12.

President Donald Trump warned European allies last month that they had to commit by mid-May to work with Washington to improve the pact. Britain drafted the failed U.N. resolution in consultation with the United States and France.

The initial draft text – to renew the annual mandate of a targeted sanctions regime related to Yemen – wanted to include a condemnation of Iran for violating an arms embargo on Houthi leaders and include a council commitment to take action over it.Reuters

Russia has questioned the findings of January U.N. report which concluded that Iran supplied the Houthi group with weapons in a proxy war between the Saudi-backed Yemeni government forces and Iranian-allied Houthi rebels in what appears to be another attempted regime change in the region.

In mid-January, Yemeni Houthi rebels claimed to have struck targets inside Saudi Arabia after launching two ballistic missiles, according to Houthi military media. Some pro-Houthi sources also reported the destruction of a Saudi military base in Najran, which lies in southwest Saudi Arabia near the border with Yemen.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia disputed that the missiles hit their targets, with Saudi state TV Ekhbariya reporting that Saudi missile defense has intercepted one near Jizan Regional Airport, a busy transport hub in southern Saudi Arabia, though it is unclear what happened to the reported second missile.

Following Monday’s Security Council vote, Iran’s mission to the U.N. accused the United States and Britain of abusing council privileges to “advance their political agenda and put the blame of all that happens in Yemen on Iran.”

Iran, meanwhile, has grown frustrated with what they’re getting out of the nuclear deal – with deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi telling a London audience last Thursday that they would likely pull out of the nuclear deal before the May 12 deadline if western banks don’t start doing business with them.

Most of it is because of this atmosphere of uncertainty which President Trump has created around JCPOA, which prevents all big companies and banks to work with Iran, it’s a fact, and it’s a violation lead by the United States. -Abbas Araghchi

Araghchi also criticized President Trump for his increasing rhetoric over the nuclear deal:

You know, every time President Trump makes a public statement against JCPOA saying it’s a bad deal, it’s the worst deal ever, I am going to fix it, I am going to change it, all these statements, public statements are a violation of the deal. Violation of the letter of the deal, not a sprit, the letter. If you just see paragraph 28 it clearly says that all JCPOA participants should refrain from anything which undermines successful implementation of JCPOA, including in their public statements of silly officials.

“If the same policy of confusion and uncertainties about the (deal) continues, if companies and banks are not working with Iran, we cannot remain in a deal that has no benefit for us,” Araqchi told an audience at the London-based think tank Chatham House. “That’s a fact.”

February 27, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Social media bow to pressure and censor dissident voices

By Nebojsa Malic | RT | February 27, 2018

Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, accused of enabling US President Donald Trump’s rise to power through “Russian meddling,” are facing pressure to de-platform heretics. This has raised fears for the safety of free speech in the US.

At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this past weekend, media crusader James O’Keefe headlined an hour-long panel on social media censorship, arguing that it targeted mostly conservatives.

“They really make sure you don’t see any differing views,” O’Keefe said at the panel.

Last week, the blogging platform Medium deleted a number of accounts, including those of Mike Cernovich, Jack Posobiec and Laura Loomer, described by The Hill as “prominent far-right figures.” The purge took place after Medium replaced a commitment to free speech in its terms of service in favor of fighting “online hate, abuse, harassment, and disinformation.”

Though Medium would not comment on individual account bans, it is notable that Cernovich’s account was deleted after he was named in a Newsweek article that blamed the “alt-right,” overseas social media bots and “Russians” for the ouster of Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota) over sexual misconduct. Newsweek retracted the story after criticism that it could not be substantiated.

A number of YouTube creators have complained that the video platform has demonetized basically anything that isn’t deemed “family friendly,” including political dissent. Another crackdown followed the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, after the top-ranking video on the site featured accusations that some of the students were “crisis actors.”

Yet if YouTube simply censored any videos even referring to conspiracy theories, that would surely present a new problem.  After all, wouldn’t it also undermine efforts to debunk them?

Conservative critics accuse the social media giants of being run by Democrats. There is certainly evidence pointing in that direction, from the involvement of Alphabet (Google’s parent company) CEO Eric Schmidt with Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and the Obama presidency, to Twitter’s admission it censored the hashtags about WikiLeaks’ publication of revealing emails from Clinton’s campaign chief John Podesta in the run-up to the November 2016 vote. Those emails also revealed the commitment of several Facebook executives to get Clinton elected.

After Clinton lost to Trump, however, the three social media giants found themselves in the crosshairs of Congress. Many Republicans joined the chorus of Democrats accusing the social networks of enabling alleged “Russian” activity.

“You created these platforms… and now they’re being misused,” Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) told the executives of Facebook, Google, and Twitter during a hearing in October 2017. “And you have to be the ones who do something about it — or we will.”

So far, “doing something” seems to consist mostly of purging “Russian bots,” as identified by the either the social media companies themselves or an alliance of Democrats and neo-conservatives ousted from power by Trump, and now seeing Russians behind every hashtag.

Censorious actions also include what activists call “de-platforming” of people singled out for unacceptable or offensive opinions by the ad-hoc online mobs. For example, after the Florida school shooting angry Twitterati have successfully badgered a number of businesses into canceling discounts they previously offered to members of the National Rifle Association (NRA). Amazon also found itself under pressure to drop the “NRA TV” channel from its platform.

In a recent interview, former Google engineer James Damore speculated that the climate at social media companies have an atmosphere which resembles college campuses. Such locations which have also seen crackdowns on freedom of expression in recent times.

“It was very much like a college campus,” Damore told the Washington Examiner. “And they tried to make it like a college campus where you would live at Google essentially, where they have all your food and all the amenities, and once you start living there you aren’t able to disconnect, and so you feel like my words were a threat against your family. That was part of the fervor, I think.”

Damore was purged from Mountain View over a memo in which he questioned the company’s  practices when it came to diversity.

While the social media companies may hope the lawmakers would be appeased by an occasional purge of unpopular voices, another danger is headed their way: the legacy media, is aiming to recapture its hold on audiences.

On Monday, CNN president Jeff Zucker addressed the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. His thrust was that government should look into Google and Facebook “monopolies” if journalism is to survive.

“In a Google and Facebook world, monetization of digital and mobile continues to be more difficult than we would have expected or liked,” Zucker said, according to Variety. “I think we need help from the advertising world and from the technology world to find new ways to monetize digital content, otherwise good journalism will go away.”

Tempting as it would be to quip about CNN’s tenuous relationship with “good journalism.” At this time, doing so would be self-defeating as the chances are it would get one quicklybe a short-cut to getting purged from Google, Twitter or Facebook.

February 27, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | 4 Comments

YouTube is Now ThemTube: Time to Flee the Failed Platform

corbettreport | February 26, 2018

Hey, did I mention that YouTube is involved in all-out warfare against independent news sources? Oh, I have? Multiple times? Well, here it is again. If you only get my info from ThemTube, please do check out the ThemTube alternatives out there.


February 27, 2018 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | Leave a comment