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Western leaders misled Gorbachev with promises that NATO wouldn’t expand – released archives

In 1990, Western politicians repeatedly assured Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO wouldn’t expand east of Germany’s borders, but broke that promise less than a decade later, say insider archives from both sides of negotiations following the dismantling of the Berlin Wall.

Researchers from the respected George Washington University-based National Security Archive, which specializes in obtaining key declassified information from the government, have put together 30 crucial documents that clearly show several top Western officials vowing to Gorbachev in unison that NATO would not expand eastward. Some of these have been publicly available for several years, others have been revealed as a result of Freedom of Information requests for the study. […]

Nonetheless NATO and top Western officials have continued to claim that there was no promise. None of the assurances of non-expansion were included in any treaty documents, which means they were just that – words.

“NATO allies take decisions by consensus and these are recorded. There is no record of any such decision having been taken by NATO. Personal assurances, from NATO leaders, cannot replace alliance consensus and do not constitute a formal NATO agreement,” the alliance said in its official explainer on its website.

Robert Zoellick, a key negotiator during the reunification talks, has also spoken of the promise as a “misperception,” while former US ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul has labeled the idea of a reneged promise a “myth” in an interview given last year.

But the weight of evidence now uncovered suggests that these stances are disingenuous at best and duplicitous at worst. – Read full article

The Litvinenko inquiry – a legal critique and alternative view

OffGuardian | December 12, 2017

The death in London of Russian ex-patriot Alexander Litvinenko, allegedly through polonium poisoning, has become a major part of the anti-Russian, anti-Putin narrative in the West. The story told to us by the likes of the Guardian, New York Times, WaPo etc, is that Litvinenko, an ex-“KGB spy”, was assassinated by the Russian FSB as a revenge attack for his anti-Putin rhetoric. This version of events has been so relentlessly pushed at us in articles, documentaries, books, even light entertainment that many many people, even sophisticated and politically aware individuals, accept this as established fact. Worse, this “proven” example of grisly ruthlessness is regularly used as a rationale for alleging further crimes of the Russian state, including its supposed support of a “mass-murderer” in Syria. People are being conditioned to reflexively accept and internalise the image of Russia and its president as lawless, corrupt and gothically evil, and the Litvinenko case is a keystone of this image. For this reason we think it’s worth taking another look at this infamous story, to examine the reality behind the memes and headlines.

The following detailed analysis of the Inquiry by Alexander Mercouris, a lawyer who practiced for 12 years at the Royal Courts of Justice, brings a much needed rational perspective to this case and focuses on the story of a travesty of British justice. … continue

Elderly Palestinian woman dies of heart attack during Israeli raid on her home

Ma’an – December 13, 2017

JERICHO – A 60-year-old Palestinian woman suffered a fatal heart attack overnight between Tuesday and Wednesday when Israeli army soldiers raided her home in the village of al-Zubeidat, north of Jericho in the northeastern occupied West Bank.

Official Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency reported that Hamda Zubeidat, 60, suffered a heart attack after Israeli soldiers threw a stun grenade at her house during a raid on the town.

Despite efforts to revive her, Wafa reported, Zubeidat died shortly after.

“The soldiers raided the village after midnight, causing panic and fear among residents, throwing stun grenades at homes,” Wafa reported, adding that “no reason was given for the raid.” … Full article

Israeli authorities demolish house in 1948 occupied Palestine

Palestine Information Center – December 13, 2017

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM – Israeli bulldozers demolished a Palestinian house in Zemer town in the northern 1948 occupied Palestine on Wednesday.

Palestinian sources reported that the Israeli bulldozers, accompanied by a military force, invaded Zemer town and demolished a house under construction on privately owned Palestinian land without prior notice for allegedly lacking necessary legal licenses.

Tension prevailed following the demolition operation as Zemer residents rallied to express their rejection of the Israeli practices aimed at uprooting them from their lands. … Full article

70% of Palestinians want Abbas to resign immediately

MEMO | December 13, 2017

Some 70 per cent of Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip want President Mahmoud Abbas to resign immediately, according to a new poll by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research conducted 7-10 December.

The poll, conducted in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) in the immediate aftermath of US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, makes grim reading for Abbas, with those demanding his resignation up three points from September.

Abbas’ net satisfaction rating, meanwhile, has dropped one point to minus 35, with just 31 per cent satisfied with his performance, compared to 66 per cent who are dissatisfied.

When asked about who should succeed Abbas, 35 per cent expressed a preference for Marwan Barghouthi, 22 per cent would vote for Ismail Haniyeh, while Mohammad Dahlan attracted the support of just seven per cent of Palestinians (15 per cent in Gaza and one per cent in the West Bank). … continue

Marwan Barghouthi ordered to solitary confinement after statement on Intifada

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network – December 13, 2017

Marwan Barghouthi, member of the Fateh central committee and a prominent Palestinian national leader, was transferred by Israeli prison officials into solitary confinement at Hadarim prison, reported the campaign for his release on Tuesday, 12 December 2017.

The campaign said that “this decision to isolate him comes to prevent him from communicating with his people in the homeland and diaspora at a time when Palestine and the capitals and cities of the world are protesting widely against the decision of U.S. president Donald Trump to declare his country’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the Israeli occupation state. This decision to isolate is a form of retaliation for a statement issued by Marwan Barghouthi on the anniversary of the great popular intifada a few days ago.” The statement, issued from Hadarim prison, emphasized the rights of the Palestinian people to return, self-determination and their capital, Jerusalem, and urged the expansion of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and international solidarity with Palestine.

Barghouthi has been ordered to solitary confinement on 27 occasions and spent several years in solitary confinement in the past, especially after his imprisonment in April 2002. He was held in solitary confinement in April-May 2017 because of his role in leading a mass hunger strike for 51 days in Israeli prison; he has also been barred from visits by his wife, the lawyer Fadwa Barghouthi, until the end of 2019.

Recently, a French delegation to Palestine, including a number of mayors involved with the campaign to free Barghouthi, was told that its members would be denied access to Palestine for their role in supporting Palestinian prisoners and the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. The delegation sought to meet with Barghouthi in Hadarim prison.

Israel to raze Palestinian school in Occupied Jerusalem

Palestine Information Center – December 13, 2017

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM – Israeli teams of the so-called civil administration on Wednesday raided Abu Nuwar Bedouin neighborhood east of Occupied Jerusalem and handed over a demolition notice against a school in the area.

Quds Press quoted the spokesman of the Bedouin community, Abu Emad al-Jahalein, as saying that the inhabitants were shocked of the news especially after they had obtained a Supreme Court decision against the school demolition order.

He pointed out that the school consists of two floors and offers education services to 26 students.

Israeli authorities plan to expel the Bedouins from east Jerusalem for the sake of completing the E1 settlement project which aims at separating the southern West Bank from its northern part and accordingly have full control over Occupied Jerusalem.

Renowned South African university cuts ties with Israel

Palestine Information Center – December 13, 2017

PRETORIA – “The Council of the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) has resolved that TUT will not forge any ties with the State of Israel or any of its organizations and institutions,” TUT spokesman on the issue Professor Rasigan Maharajh told the African News Agency (ANA) during an interview on Wednesday.

A December 7 press release from TUT stated: “As a progressive university in a democratic South Africa, we want to affirm that TUT will not sign any agreements or enter into scientific partnerships until such time that Israel ends its illegal occupation of Palestinian territory.

“The university will not stand back and accept the violations of the Israeli government when it confines the movement of Palestinian children and youth on their own land and restricts their ability to access education through destroying their schools,” added the statement.

South African criticism of Israel is growing, the ANA pointed out.

One of the controversial issues to be discussed at the ANC’s forthcoming 54th National Conference in Gauteng, from December 16 to 20, is the possible downgrading, or even closure, of the South African Embassy in Tel Aviv. … continue

Army Injures 40 Students In Kadoorie University, Near Tulkarem

IMEMC News – December 13, 2017

Israeli soldiers shot, Tuesday, at least 40 Palestinians, after attacking students protesting in Palestine Technical University – Kadoorie, west of Tulkarem, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said the soldiers shot ten students with rubber-coated steel bullets, some of them in the head, and caused at least thirty others to suffer the severe effects of teargas inhalation.

It is worth mentioning that the army has a military base, which was built on lands illegally confiscated from the college.

The soldiers fired dozens of gas bombs, concussion grenades, and rubber-coated steel bullets at the students, while many hurled stones at them after attacking their procession.

The soldiers also attacked many reporters, and inspected their ID cards, before forcing them out of the area.

In related news, several army jeeps invaded, on Tuesday evening, Sebastia town, north of Nablus, and smashed the windows of tourist stores near an archaeological site, and threatened to shut them down permanently “should clashes continue in the area.”

What does Trump’s Jerusalem decision actually mean?

By Hassan Ben Imran | MEMO | December 13, 2017

“We cannot solve our problems by making the same failed assumptions and repeating the same failed strategies of the past… Israel is a sovereign nation with the right, like every other sovereign nation, to determine its own capital.” So said Donald Trump last week.

With such logical fallacies and ignorance of basic legal facts, as well as the fundamental principles of the UN Charter, the US President decided that it is time for a new “formula” and recognised “Jerusalem as the capital of Israel”. He overlooked the fact that Israel is far from being “like every other sovereign nation.”

No sovereign nation in modern times has ever declared independence following the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population; and no sovereign nation has broken international law concerning Jerusalem in order to annex it and claim the city as the eternal capital of the Jewish people. Trump would be totally correct in his assumption had he been talking about any ordinary sovereign nation, but certainly not Israel.

In 1967, Israel completed its occupation of Palestine, including East Jerusalem; it is still the occupying power. Everything that Israel does in the occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem, is done to make the occupation permanent. This colonialism peaked in 1980 when the Knesset (Israeli parliament) amended the Basic Law (5740 – 1980) to annex East Jerusalem and declare that “[t]he complete and united Jerusalem is the capital of Israel”.

With a sense of self-guilt, Israel worked hard to gain international recognition of its “new capital”. Knowing the grave legal and political consequences of such an ill-advised move, even its closest allies refused to acknowledge this “capital”. It was only in 1995 that the US Congress decided (or perhaps was made to decide) to recognise the Israeli annexation, although successive US Presidents have signed a six-monthly waiver to delay the implementation of the Congress decision. Israel had to wait until there was someone like Donald Trump in the White House to make the formal announcement. … continue

Zionism In The Light of Jerusalem

By Jim Kavanagh | The Polemicist | December 13, 2017

Donald Trump’s official recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is an embarrassment. A salutary embarrassment.

It’s a clumsy, all-too-obvious unmasking of decades of bipartisan U.S. policy whose contempt for Palestinians has been cloaked with a smile and a handshake.

As such, it’s an embarrassment for the Zionist political and media elite that prefers to operate behind smiles and handshakes, and not flaunt their power.

It’s an embarrassment to liberal Zionists and “peace process” promoters everywhere—in the American political parties and media, in European conservative and social democrat governments, and in Jewish Zionist organizations. For fifty years, they have laser-focused attention on the post-’67 “occupation,” and done all that they can [nothing concrete], in solidarity with the Israeli Jewish peace movement [dwindling to insignificance in an increasingly fascistic political culture], to end the occupation [ minimize its cost to the Jewish state, ‘cause “no concessions, no withdrawals, no Palestinian state” is already proclaimed Israeli policy ].

It’s an embarrassment to the Arab monarchs and the Palestinian Authority functionaries, who for decades have collaborated in the task of subduing Palestinian rage as Israel went about its colonizing project, holding out the promise that the good American Daddy and his kinder, gentler Israeli Jewish progeny would one day reward the Palestinians for their good behavior.

It’s an embarrassment to those liberals who want to portray Donald Trump as a uniquely evil interloper imposed on American politics by a foreign power, rather than understand him as the product of an American political culture that they helped to create while obtusely refusing to recognize what they were doing.

The only parties who are not embarrassed are the “hard”—that is, intellectually honest and consistent—Zionists in Israel and the United States (many liberal Democrats included) and Donald Trump himself, who is immune to embarrassment. … continue

“Regional Countries’ Attempts to Normalize Ties with Israel Prompted Trump Decision”

Al-Manar | December 13, 2017

Iranian President Hasan Rouhani lashed out at some regional countries on Wednesday, stressing that attempts by such states to normalize ties with Zionist regime prompted US President Donald Trump to recognize Al-Quds as Israeli capital.

Addressing an extraordinary OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) summit in Istanbul, Rouhani said the Islamic Republic is prepared to join hands with other Muslim countries and help defend the holy city of al-Quds (Jerusalem) against US-Israeli plots with no strings attached.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran stands ready to cooperate with each one of the Muslim countries to defend the holy Quds without any reservation or pre-condition,” Rouhani said on.

Representatives from 57 OIC members are attending the summit, which is meant to coordinate a response to a US decision to recognize Quds as Israeli capital. … Full article

OIC recognizes East Jerusalem al-Quds as Palestine’s capital

Press TV – December 13, 2017

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has invited all nations to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as the capital of Palestine, blasting the United States for disregarding Middle East peace by moving its Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to the occupied city.

The 57-member organization issued a communique at the end of an emergency summit on Wednesday, declaring that it would recognize “East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine and invite all countries to recognize the State of Palestine and East Jerusalem as its occupied capital.” […]

As the second-largest inter-governmental body after the United Nations, the OIC was established during a summit in Rabat, Morocco, in 1969, following an arson attack on the al-Aqsa Mosque in the occupied city. … Full article

Muslim leaders fail to deliver action plan on Jerusalem at OIC

MEMO | December 13, 2017

Some 57 Muslim leaders who gathered for the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul today failed to put forward a strategy with which to deal with the US designation of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Despite Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas labelling the conference “the most important and successful Summit to have taken place”, the world leaders departed having only repeated their condemnation of the announcement of US President Donald Trump last week. […]

However, many have panned the response from Arab and Muslim leaders as meaningless, given that no diplomatic ties with Israel or the US have been severed, despite continual rhetoric that Jerusalem is a “red line”. The OIC was also criticised for taking a week to hold the summit, after many days of Palestinian and global protest. … Full article

Red Cross says life has ‘stopped’ in Myanmar’s Rakhine

Press TV – December 13, 2017

The International Committee of the Red Cross says life has “stopped” in Rakhine state due to the fear of violence, nearly four months after a new wave of crackdown by the government erupted against the persecuted Rohingya Muslims.

The ICRC director of operations, Dominik Stillhart, said Wednesday that tensions between the Muslims and the dominant Buddhist community were preventing Muslim traders from reopening shops and markets.

“The situation in the northern Rakhine has definitely stabilized, there are very sporadic incidents, but tensions are huge between the communities,” Stillhart said after a three-day mission to the remote area. “You get a sense, especially of the two main communities being deeply scared of each other.”

He visited the towns of Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung in northern Rakhine, where the ICRC, the only aid agency operating in the violence-hit region, is providing food, water and other aid to 150,000 people.

Stillhart said the Red Cross hoped to reach all of the 180,000 Rohingya it estimated remained in the “politically-sensitive” region after more than 600,000 people fled to Bangladesh.

“You travel through the countryside and you really see on both sides of the road villages that are completely destroyed. It just gives you a bit of a sense of the scale of destruction. There is also this pervasive sense of absence.” … continue

Congress takes no action on Iran sanctions as deadline passes

Press TV – December 13, 2017

The US Congress misses a deadline to decide on re-imposing anti-Iran sanctions, which were lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal, with reports saying the lawmakers sought to kick the decision on the issue back to President Donald Trump.

On October 13, Trump refused to certify that the Islamic Republic was complying with the agreement, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), under a domestic US law and directed his administration “to work closely with Congress and our allies to address the deal’s many serious flaws.”

The US Congress was given until December 12 to decide whether to slap economic sanctions on Tehran anew. … continue

Yemen: Saudi Airstrikes Kill Dozens

teleSUR | December 13, 2017

Renewed Saudi airstrikes against Yemen, mainly in the capital city of Sana’a, have resulted in the deaths of dozens of people.

At least 39 people died and 90 others were left injured, Reuters reported. Yemen’s al-Masirah TV reported that at least 51 people died and 80 were left injured.

The airstrikes reportedly targeted Yemen’s military police headquarters in Sana’a’s Shu’ab district. Some of the casualties included prisoners detained at the facility awaiting investigation.

In a separate series of attacks, Saudi planes levelled Yemen’s northwestern district of Sahar. Four civilians were wounded, one of whom later died from injuries. Eleven people were also killed during airstrikes in Maqbanah District of the southwestern province of Ta’izz. … continue

US helicopter loses window mid-flight, injures 10yo boy in Japan

RT | December 13, 2017

A Japanese schoolboy has reportedly become the latest victim of the much-maligned US military presence in Okinawa. An American helicopter is said to have started falling apart directly above a schoolyard, resulting in injuries to the child.

On Wednesday morning, an angular object roughly 3ft (1 meter) across fell onto a sports field packed with elementary school children near the Futenma US military base in the Japanese prefecture of Okinawa. The object was discovered to be a helicopter window, complete with the frame, that had fallen off an American CH-53 aircraft flying above the school grounds.

One 10-year-old boy, out of some 50 children who were assembled in the sports field, was slightly injured in the incident, Reuters reports, citing a prefecture official. … Full article

‘Absolutely Ignored’: US Veterans Who Cleaned Up H-Bomb Accident Seek Benefits

Sputnik – 12.12.2017

Yale Law School students have requested a US court to permit a class-action lawsuit on behalf of US Air Force veterans who responded to the catastrophic 1966 hydrogen bomb accident in the Mediterranean Sea, but who have been denied disability benefits.

The 1966 accident occurred when a USAF B-52 carrying four hydrogen bombs collided with a USAF KC-135 tanker aircraft during a mid-flight refueling exercise. The refueling nozzle hit the fuselage and caused a major explosion seen by another B-52 pilot a mile away. All four airmen on the FC-135 were killed along with three of the four airmen on board the B-52.

The planes were flying a Cold War airborne alert mission dubbed Operation Chrome. The B-52s, which took off from Seymour Johnson Air Force base in North Carolina, required two mid-flight refuelings over Spain to complete their mission. The accident, which occurred near southern Spain, caused the B-52 to lose its hold on the four Mk-28 hydrogen bombs it was carrying, sending them plummeting down to Earth. Three landed in the fishing village of Palomares, while a third landed in the ocean and was ultimately recovered following a two-and-a-half month search.

“This class action seeks to compel the VA to acknowledge that veterans at Palomares participated in a radiation risk activity that would make any radiogenic conditions they developed presumptively service connected,” said Derek Mraz, one of the Yale Law School students working on the case.

About 1,600 service members were marshalled to Spain to recover the Mk-28s and contain the radiation released after the weapons’ plutonium detonators exploded, though the nuclear payloads themselves did not go off.

The US Department of Veterans Affairs has hitherto denied these veterans disability benefits, even though many of them developed cancer, blood disorders, and heart and lung conditions, according to Military.com.

The motion to allow a class action suit, filed by Yale students on Monday, lists veteran Victor Skaar as the plaintiff and VA Secretary David Shuklin as the defendant.

“It is absolutely ridiculous to see how we have been treated. We’re all hurt. We were ignored, absolutely ignored,” Skaar told the Associated Press.

US continues torture in Guantanamo: UN

Press TV – December 13, 2017

An inmate at the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay is still being tortured, the UN special rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer said in a statement on Wednesday.

Former President Barack Obama ended the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” via executive order in January 2009, but Melzer said the historic use of torture in CIA custody had not yet led to prosecutions or compensation for victims.

“By failing to prosecute the crime of torture in CIA custody, the US is in clear violation of the Convention against Torture and is sending a dangerous message of complacency and impunity to officials in the US and around the world,” Melzer said in the statement.

The statement cited the case of Ammar al-Baluchi, an inmate in Guantanamo Bay, “where his torture and ill-treatment are reported to continue”. […]

Melzer said the ban on torture and ill-treatment was one of the most fundamental norms of international law and could not be justified in any circumstances.

He said he had renewed a long-standing request to visit Guantanamo Bay to interview inmates, but he and his predecessors in the role had consistently been denied access. … Full article

Yes, the FBI is America’s secret police

By James Bovard – The Hill – 12/11/17

Politifact delivered a “pants on fire” slam to Fox News on Friday because one of its commentators asserted that the Federal Bureau of Investigation “has become America’s secret police.” The FBI has legions of new champions nowadays among liberals and Democrats who hope that its probes will end Donald Trump’s presidency. This is a stunning reversal that may have J. Edgar Hoover spinning in his grave.

In order to boost the credibility of the FBI’s investigations of the Trump team, much of the media is whitewashing the bureau’s entire history. But the FBI has been out of control almost since its birth.

A 1924 American Civil Liberties Union report warned that the FBI had become “a secret police system of a political character.” In the 1930s, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court feared that the FBI had bugged the conference room where justices privately wrangled over landmark cases, as Tim Weiner noted in his “Enemies: A History of the FBI.” In 1945, President Harry Truman noted that “We want no Gestapo or Secret Police. FBI is tending in that direction.” And FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover compiled a list of 20,000 “potentially or actually dangerous” Americans who could be rounded up and locked away in one of the six detention camps the federal government secretly built in the 1950s. … continue

The massacre of children and others at El Mozote

Thirty-six years ago, from December 10-12, 1981, the armed forces of El Salvador massacred hundreds of children in the town of El Mozote and surrounding communities. Last week El Salvador’s government divulged the results of the first official register of the victims who died in that massacre. Of 978 victims executed, 553 or 57% were under 18 years of age and 477 were 12 and under. Twelve infants died in their mothers wombs. Henceforth, at El Salvador Perspectives, we will refer to this atrocity as the “Massacre of Children and Others at El Mozote.”

As it covers the trial, the online periodical El Faro has offered us another view into the lives of the victims. … continue

Venezuela’s Socialists Score Landslide Win in Mayoral Elections

By Ryan Patrick Mallett-Outtrim and Lucas Koerner | Venezuelanalysis | December 11, 2017

Venezuela’s socialists scored an overwhelming victory in mayoral elections Sunday, taking over ninety percent of the country’s municipalities.

President Nicolas Maduro’s United Venezuelan Socialist Party (PSUV), along with its allies, have secured victory in 308 of Venezuela’s 335 municipalities. According to preliminary results, the governing socialist party managed to take 21 out of the country’s 23 state capitals as well as the Caracas Capital District.

Meanwhile, the only state capitals to remain in opposition hands are Tachira’s San Cristobal and the Libertador municipality of Merida, which were won by the Movement Towards Socialism and Christian Democrat (COPEI) parties, respectively. […]

Venezuela’s opposition went into Sunday’s vote divided. The country’s largest opposition coalition, the MUD, saw its three largest member parties boycott the election. These parties included Popular Will, Justice First, and Democratic Action. Smaller parties including COPEI participated, though the MUD leadership dismissed the vote as “fraudulent”.

“Credible elections are characterised by inclusion, transparency and equality,” the MUD said in a statement on Sunday.

“None of those attributes were present today in Venezuela,” they said.

Opposition figures have also disputed the level of turnout.

“Nobody believes in that 47 percent,” said Luis Florido, the head of the opposition-controlled National Assembly’s Foreign Policy Commission.

Notwithstanding the fraud allegations, an international observer mission led by the Council of Latin American Electoral Experts (CEELA) ratified the CNE’s results as credible.

“We believe totally and absolutely in the results offered by the National Electoral Council because all the guarantees offered throughout the process were given,” said CEELA President Nicanor Moscoso. … Full article

US holds massive military drills aimed at North Korea despite warnings from Moscow

RT | December 12, 2017

US and Japanese warplanes held joint exercises south of the Korean peninsula, in what has been described as one of the largest military drills to date aimed at North Korea. Moscow warned that the exercises will “increase tension” with Pyongyang.

Four Japanese F-15 fighters on Tuesday held drills with American B1-B bombers, F-35 stealth fighters and F-18 combat jets above the East China Sea, south of the Korean peninsula, Japan’s Air Self Defence Force (ASDF) confirmed.

Described as among the largest joint exercises of its kind to date, the drill included American aircraft stationed in Guam and Japan.

“The drill was meant to bolster joint operations and raise combat skills,” the ASDF said in a statement, as cited by Reuters.

On Monday, Russian military chief General Valery Gerasimov warned Japan that participating in military exercises with the United States around the Korean Peninsula could escalate regional tensions with North Korea.

During his visit to Tokyo, Gerasimov told Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera that military drills aimed at pressuring Pyongyang to abandon missile testing could “increase tension and bring instability.” “We believe that the issue should be resolved only through political and diplomatic means,” said Gerasimov, as quoted by Russian media.

Washington, Seoul and Tokyo began joint “missile tracking” drills on Monday. The new round of military exercises comes just days after the US and its allies concluded massive air maneuvers over the Korean Peninsula.

Moscow and Beijing have advocated for a “double freeze” agreement, in which North Korea would halt missile testing in exchange for the US curtailing military drills in the region. … Full article

Palestinian nonviolent leader’s son, Abdul-Khalik Burnat, abducted by Israeli occupation forces

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network – December 12, 2017

Abdul-Khalik Burnat, 17 years old, the son of Palestinian activist Iyad Burnat, an active leader of the Nonviolent Resistance Movement in the Palestinian village of Bil’in, was kidnapped, beaten and detained on the night of December 10, 2017 while getting pizza along with his friends Hamzah Al-Khatib and Malik Rahdi.

Their whereabouts were unknown until Abdul-Khalik’s mother and father recently learned that he and his friends are in Ofer Prison near the city of Ramallah.

Abdul-Khalik’s village of Bil’in is heavily targeted by Zionist colonizing forces for arrests, repression and persecution, especially because the people of the village continually and consistently organize well-coordinated weekly peaceful demonstrations which include visits and support from international activists to defend their land from illegal Israeli settlements and the infamous apartheid Wall.

Abdul-Khalik is a senior in high school. He was focused on completing his finals before his kidnapping. He is planning on going to college abroad after graduating high school.

This is not the first time that Abdul Khalik has been targeted by Israeli colonizing forces. The last time was in January of 2017, when he was shot with a rubber bullet in his head. They also detained him in another night-time raid in March 2017, while he was under treatment for his injuries.

Iyad Burnat’s family has been repeatedly targeted and injured by the Israeli Occupation Forces. Burnat states, “All this violence that they use against me and my family is trying to stop us from what we’re doing [Nonviolent resistance].”

Abdul Khalik’s court date is this upcoming Thursday December 14, 2017. This arbitrary hearing is crucial and likely to determine whether to extend their detention (for interrogation), impose an administrative detention order or put charges in the military courts. … continue

Bethlehem Mayor Responds to Israeli Report on Christmas

IMEMC | December 12, 2017

The mayor of Bethlehem, lawyer Anton Salman, on Monday, made comments about an Israeli report which portrayed Bethlehem city as if it were simply celebrating Christmas and separating itself from the Palestinian struggle, and the ongoing political situation, while there are protests and clashes currently ongoing in all Palestinian cities, against Donald Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem.

“Israeli attempts to create false illusions about the unity of the Palestinian people through promoting deceptive videos will be futile,” Salman told PNN in an exclusive interview.

He added that the content and timing of the video and interviews were manipulated, where the report showed that there have been celebrations and tree-lighting, following the Trump declaration on 6 December, while the actual date of lighting the tree was over a week ago, on 2 December 2017.

Meanwhile, the interview was filmed on 28 November.

The report was published on 8 December, two days after the start of the protests and the Trump declaration, and 10 days after the interview was recorded. … continue

Moroccan MPs propose bill to criminalize normalization with Israel

Palestine Information Center – December 12, 2017

RABAT – Members of the Moroccan parliament on Monday condemned the US president Donald Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem which he has recently recognized as the capital of Israel.

During a parliament session held on Monday and attended by the Palestinian ambassador to Morocco, they called for activating a bill criminalizing normalization with Israel that has been frozen for more than four years.

According to the Moroccan newspaper Lakom, Habib El Malki, the president of the House of Representatives, said that Trump’s decision disregards the United Nations and its resolutions and lacks legitimacy and credibility. … continue

Israeli security interests dominate EU diplomacy

By Ramona Wadi | MEMO | December 12, 2017

The EU Foreign Policy Chief has told Benjamin Netanyahu that there will be no mass relocation of embassies to Jerusalem. Federica Mogherini insisted that this will be the case in response to the Israeli Prime Minister’s comment that most European countries would follow Donald Trump’s unilateral decision to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv.

However, there was no recognition from the EU regarding the shift in political dynamics, particularly with regard to the negotiations and the two-state paradigm. On the contrary, Mogherini exposed the EU’s intent to persist in diplomatic engagement within the obsolete framework, for the sake of Israel’s security interest.

As quoted in the Times of Israel, Mogherini stated: “We believe it is in Israel’s interest, especially its security interest, to find a sustainable and comprehensible solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is why the European Union will increase its work… to relaunch the peace process, even if it seems [that these are] difficult times.” … continue

Advocating for Israel pays well: Salaries of nonprofit heads

If Americans Knew | December 12, 2017

Heads of nonprofits that support Israel receive compensation in the hundreds of thousands of dollars up to, in a few cases, over a million dollars.

Politicians reaping money from the Israel lobby (e.g. Tom Cotton received close to a million dollars from the Emergency Committee for Israel; Haim Saban and his wife donated $11.5 million to pro-Clinton super PACs, along with large sums to the Clinton Foundation) are not the only ones to benefit from supporting Israel.

Executive directors of nonprofits that support Israel receive compensation in the hundreds of thousands of dollars up to almost $2 million.

The Forward recently compiled a list of their earnings. It reported that Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center received $818,148 and that his spouse and his son also work for the center, giving them an annual total $1.4 million.

According to the Forward the Hiers were not alone in surpassing a million dollars compensation – in 2016, the CEO of the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland received compensation of $1.3 million, and in 2014 the CEO of Boston’s Jewish federation received almost $2 million.

Below are some members of the Forward’s list for 2016… continue

France’s Macron and Saudi Prince in Artful Deception

By Finian CUNNINGHAM | Strategic Culture Foundation | 12.12.2017

A week after French President Emmanuel Macron opened the Louvre museum in Abu Dhabi, a painting attributed to Leonardo Da Vinci went on sale for a record $450 million at an auction in New York City.

It was then reported that the buyer turned out to be none other than Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia with whom Macron is said to enjoy a close, personal rapport.

The 500-year-old renaissance portrait of Jesus Christ – entitled ‘Salvator Mundi’ (‘Savior of the World’) – will henceforth go on display in Abu Dhabi’s franchise of the Louvre, presumably on long-term loan from the Saudi monarchy.

The story here is one of the French presidency and the Saudi heir using culture and arts for “soft power” projection – or, less prosaically, as public relations to launder their international image. It also ties in with how Macron is disguising pernicious French meddling in Middle East affairs under the image of being a benign diplomatic broker. … continue

Saudi warplanes strike civilian targets in Sana’a

Press TV – December 12, 2017

Saudi military aircraft have pounded Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, killing three civilians and injuring two more.

The attacks struck the al-Rawzah neighborhood in the north of Sana’a early Tuesday, Yemen’s al-Masirah television network reported. It said the bombardment targeted the residential buildings surrounding the Cadet College in the capital.

Saudi warplanes also hit a residence in Razah District of Sa’ada Province in Yemen’s northwest twice.

The raids came hours after at least 14 people lost their lives in similar Saudi aerial assaults against civilian targets across the country.

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres called on Sunday on the US to pressure Saudi Arabia into ending the “stupid war” which is causing “terrible suffering to the Yemeni people” and also harming the kingdom itself. … Full article

UN experts do not confirm Iran link to Yemen missiles: Report

Press TV – December 12, 2017

UN experts, who examined the debris from missiles fired from Yemen at Saudi Arabia earlier in the year, have not confirmed that the projectiles were “Iranian-made” as claimed by the Riyadh regime and the US.

The missiles were fired by Yemeni Houthi fighters at the Saudi capital on July 22 and November 4 in retaliation for Riyadh’s deadly raids against the country. […]

Tehran has invariably dismissed having ever armed the movement and any accusation of regional interference for that matter. … Full article

Bad Moon Rising

A new cabinet will mark neocon ascendancy

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • December 12, 2017

Back during the admittedly brief shock and awe period that immediately followed on the Trump electoral victory, it appeared that there might be an actual realignment of American foreign policy. The neoconservatives virtually unanimously had opposed Donald Trump in the most vile terms, both in the GOP primaries and during the actual electoral campaign, making clear that Hillary was their choice for a future full of unrelenting, ideologically driven warfare to convert the world to democracy. By that metric, one would assume that Trump would prefer to be roasted on a spit rather than have neocons on his national security team, and many in the punditry did agree with that analysis and went on to share that view.

At the time, I agreed, but I did note that the neoconservatives have proven to be remarkable resilient, particularly as many of them have remained true to their Democratic Party values on nearly everything but foreign policy, where they are irredeemable hawks, hostile to Russia and Iran and always reliably in the corner of Israel. In short, many neocons can be unmasked as Hillary Clinton Democrats if one looks at them issue by issue, which certainly helps to explain some subsequent developments. … continue

Ex-Spy Chief Admits Role In ‘Deep State’ Intelligence War On Trump

By Tyler Durden | Zero Hedge | December 12, 2107

An ex-spy chief who spoke out publicly against Trump while inspiring other career intelligence figures to follow suit has admitted his leading role in the intelligence community waging political war against the president, describing his actions as something he didn’t “fully think through”. In a surprisingly frank interview, the CIA’s Michael Morell – who was longtime Deputy Director and former Acting Director of the nation’s most powerful intelligence agency – said that it wasn’t a great idea to leak against and bash a new president.

Morell had the dubious distinction of being George W. Bush’s personal daily briefer for the agency before and after 9/11, and also served under Obama until his retirement. In the summer of 2016 he took the unusual step (for a former intelligence chief) of openly endorsing Hillary Clinton in a New York Times op-ed entitled, I Ran the C.I.A. Now I’m Endorsing Hillary Clinton, after which he continued as both an outspoken critic of Trump and an early CIA voice promoting the Russian collusion and election meddling narrative. … continue

Senior DOJ Official’s Wife Worked At Oppo Research Firm That Produced “Trump Dossier”

By Tyler Durden | Zero Hedge | December 11, 2017

In what looks to be another embarrassing blow to the FBI’s (already dubious) credibility, Fox News reported Monday night that the senior DOJ official who was demoted last week after allegedly trying to conceal his contacts with the firm that compiled the infamous “Trump dossier” has deep ties to the firm through his wife.

As it turns out, Nellie Ohr, the wife of disgraced DOJ official Bruce Ohr, was employed at Fusion GPS last year. Her term of employment overlapped with the period when the Trump dossier was being compiled. Though Fox was unable to discern the exact nature of her role at the firm, its reporters discovered that she has done extensive research on Russia-related topics for think tanks based in the Washington, DC area.

Ohr is the second senior DOJ official involved in the DOJ’s probe into Trump’s Russia ties to be demoted this year for suspected bias pertaining to the investigation. The other official, Peter Strzok, allegedly exchanged text messages expressing anti-Trump sentiments with another DOJ official with whom he was having an affair. And as if that weren’t enough to signal a conflict of interest, Strzok, it was revealed, possibly saved then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton from prosecution by making a crucial change to the language in the now-infamous letter excusing Clinton for her suspected crimes. Specifically, Strzok changed language in Comey’s letter to “extremely careless” from the original language of “grossly negligent.”

House Republicans – led by Intel Committee Chair Devin Nunes – have spent the better part of this year investigating how the dossier – which is loaded with salacious and unverified claims about Trump – played into the DOJ’s decision to launch the probe that eventually morphed into the Mueller investigation. … continue

Russia-gate’s Litany of Corrections

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | December 11, 2017

The U.S. mainstream media’s year-long hysteria over Russia’s alleged role in the election of Donald Trump has obliterated normal reporting standards leading to a rash of journalistic embarrassments that have both disgraced the profession and energized Trump’s backers over new grievances about the MSM’s “fake news.”

Misguided groupthink is always a danger when key elements of the Washington establishment and the major news media share the same belief – whether that is Iraq’s supposed possession of WMD or the need to bring down some foreign or domestic leader unpopular with the elites.

Yet, we have rarely witnessed such a cascading collapse of journalistic principles as has occurred around the Russia-gate “scandal.” It is hard to keep track of all the corrections or to take note of all the dead ends that the investigation keeps finding. … continue

The Deep State’s Christmas Present to America: Surveillance That Never Ends

By John W. Whitehead | The Rutherford Institute | December 11, 2017

“He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows when you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!”
—“Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”

Just in time for Christmas, the Deep State wants to give America the gift that keeps on giving: never-ending mass surveillance.

I’m not referring to the kind of surveillance carried out by that all-knowing and all-seeing Jolly Old St. Nick and his informant the Elf on the Shelf (although, to be fair, they have helped to acclimate us to a world in which we’re always being watched and judged by higher authorities).

No, this particular bit of Yuletide gift-giving comes courtesy of the Deep State (a.k.a. the Surveillance State, Police State, Shadow Government and black-ops spy agencies). … continue

Khader Adnan seized by Israeli occupation forces, launches immediate hunger strike

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network- December 11, 2017

Prominent Palestinian leader, organizer and former prisoner and hunger-striker Khader Adnan was seized on Monday morning, 11 December, by Israeli occupation forces at his home in Arraba, Jenin. He immediately launched an open hunger strike to demand his release.

Randa Moussa, his wife, told Palestine Today that he had announced an immediate strike on food, drink and speech after his arrest. She said that four patrols, an armored troop carrier and a jeep surrounded their home at 2:30 am and invaded the home violently, trying to break down the door of the home, and that they hit Adnan on the back and hand, throwing him on the ground before handcuffing him. He was then interrogated in a closed room of the house before being taken away to an undisclosed location.

Adnan, prominent political activist from the town of Arraba near Jenin, has been arrested 10 times and spent six years in Israeli prison, all in administrative detention – imprisonment without charge or trial. In 2012 and 2015, he carried out 66-day and 56-day hunger strikes, respectively, winning his liberation from arbitrary Israeli imprisonment. … continue

How Jerusalem issue plays into Iranian, Turkish (and Russian) hands

By M.K. Bhadrakumar | Asia Times | December 11, 2017

Iran has, predictably enough, taken a hard line on the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. There were public demonstrations in several Iranian cities following Friday prayers and statements by President Hassan Rouhani and other senior politicians. Notably, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, warned: “Al-Quds (Jerusalem) will be the place where the Zionist regime will be buried.”

It was Turkey’s reaction that set the mind thinking that the ground beneath our feet is shifting, however. President Recep Erdogan used exceptional language in his response, calling Israel a “terrorist” state. His stance is important for a variety of reasons. Turkey is currently chairing the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and has called for an emergency summit in Istanbul on Wednesday. This puts Erdogan in the driving seat.

The OIC has traditionally kowtowed to Saudi Arabia. But the Saudi regime finds itself on the defensive at the moment. The unsavory talk in the bazaar is that King Salman and the Crown Prince have played footsie with Trump and Jared Kushner. Erdogan hears bazaar gossip, for sure. Will the OIC recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Palestine? This is a possibility. … continue

Tunisians declare boycott of U.S. ships after Trump’s Jerusalem move

Palestine Information Center – December 11, 2017

TUNIS – A Tunisian labor union on Sunday evening announced its decision to boycott U.S. ships docking at a seaport in the country’s southern region of Sfax following Trump’s recognition, on Wednesday, of Occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Spokesman of the Popular Conference for the Palestinians Abroad, Ziad al-Aloul, said on Facebook that the regional executive office of Tunisia’s Trade Unions decided to boycott all American ships docking at Sfax commercial harbor.

As part of the boycott move, workers at the seaport will not empty the shipments onboard boats tied up at Sfax seaport after they had set sail from the U.S.

Prior to the boycott, mass rallies had swept Tunisia with thousands of protesters holding up Palestinian flags and banners. Protesters also burned the U.S. flag and others stepped on images of Israeli flags.

The Delusions of Washington-Riyadh Ruling Elite and the Journalists Who Feed Them

By Richard Silverstein | Tikun Olam | Dember 9, 2017

In the aftermath of Trump’s disastrous recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the spin from Washington and Riyadh–and the journalists and think tank analysts only too eager be spun–has been outrageous. The level of sheer delusion is stupendous. This post will offer an anatomy of delusion and why it means only more suffering and bloodshed for both Arabs and Israelis. … continue

IsraelGate: The Arrogance of Jewish Power in the United States

By Philip Giraldi | American Herald Tribune | December 11, 2017

The revelation that the Trump transition team colluded with Israel to sabotage a foreign policy initiative by the Obama White House made the news, sort of, when the story broke at the end of November. But it has since died, pushed down by the relentless pressure in the media to “disappear” all things critical of Israel or its behavior.

Thanks to the ongoing investigation of Russiagate by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, we Americans have learned that prior to President Donald Trump’s inauguration, some of his closest advisers responded to Israeli solicitation to derail a United Nations vote on illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. The effort to help Israel was implemented behind the scenes and in opposition to the official U.S. foreign policy.

Possible collusion with a foreign state has produced an avalanche of negative press coverage and congressional baying for blood related to Moscow and its President Vladimir Putin but similar action on the part of Israel has produced little to nothing in terms of a response from the Fourth Estate and political class.

Perhaps not too surprising, the story has actually taken a different turn, producing some opinion pieces, mostly from American Jews, insisting that Jared Kushner, the presidential son-in-law who was behind the effort, did the right thing because it was done “for Israel.” … continue

US ‘Sanctions Ahead of Talks’ Diplomacy: Cunning Plan to Kill INF Treaty

By Alex GORKA | Strategic Culture Foundation | 11.12.2017

… Much has been said about the problems related to the INF Treaty. True, there are problems that should be addressed and the SVC is the right forum to do so. With the treaty torn up, the prospects for a strategic offensive arms treaty after the New START expires in 2021 become blurred. The INF and the New START are the only arms control treaties remaining in force to limit US and Russia’s nuclear forces. Without them, an arms race becomes inevitable. Instead of engaging in futile exchanges of accusations, the parties should jointly work out additional verification measures to eliminate mutual suspicions. That’s what should be done. The US states its goal is to have the treaty in force but it looks like it wants it on its own terms, giving it an exclusive right to define what meets the treaty’s provisions and what does not. Otherwise, how can one explain the fact that the statement about imposing the INF-related sanctions on Russia came before the SVC talks started? … Read full article

CNN refuses to reveal names of “multiple sources” who spread Wikileaks-Trump fake news story

By Alex Christoforou | The Duran | December 11, 2107

… Progressive media commentator, Jimmy Dore tore apart CNN, and its fake news cohorts MSNBC, CBS and ABC for not only spreading the fake news, but not having the integrity to issue a proper retraction… at the very least CNN should, as The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald points out, expose who the “multiple sources” for the story were, and how such multiple sources all misread the date. … Read full article

CNN pundit David Frum on fake news: Trust blunder-prone media as they expose Trump

RT | December 11, 2017

Factually inaccurate reports are a natural by-product of fighting Donald Trump’s “system of lies”, CNN pundit David Frum has reassured the public. The Atlantic senior editor’s comments were made in the wake of false reporting by ABC and CNN.

“The mistakes are precisely the reason people should trust the media,” Frum told Brian Stelter, on CNN’s ‘Reliable Sources’ program.

He insisted that “the worst mistakes that press organizations have made in their coverage of [US President Donald] Trump has precisely occurred in their overzealous effort to be fair to the president.”

Frum’s comments come after two major news networks, CNN and ABC, each had to correct “bombshell” reports that showed Trump and his administration in a poor light. … continue