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Eight Civilians Killed in US-Led Coalition’s Airstrike West of Syria’s Raqqa

Sputnik – 30.04.2017

An airstrike of the US-led anti-terror coalition has claimed lives of eight civilians in the Syrian city of Al-Tabqah, west of Raqqa, local media reported Sunday.

The coalition’s airstrike was conducted as part of the offensive operation against Daesh, which controls the city, the Syrian state broadcaster reported.

Other media reports suggest that at least 14 people we killed by the airstrike.

The US-led coalition of 68 nations is conducting airstrikes, ground-based and rocket-propelled artillery fire against Daesh in Syria and Iraq. The strikes in Iraq are conducted in support of the Iraqi government, but those in Syria are not authorized by the UN Security Council or the government of President Bashar Assad.

US drone strike kills five in Yemen’s Ma’rib

Press TV – April 30, 2017

At least five people have been killed in a US drone raid in Yemen’s central Ma’rib province, east of the capital, Sana’a.

Local sources said on Sunday that the early morning strike targeted a car in the area. […]

The latest strike comes 24 hours after a similar raid killed three suspected AQAP operatives in the southern province of Shabwa. … Full article

Pyongyang slams Israel as ‘disturber of peace armed with illegal nukes under US patronage’

RT | April 30, 2017

North Korea has accused Israel of being the “only illegal possessor” of nukes and threat to peace in the Middle East, and threatened Tel Aviv with a “thousand-fold punishment” after Israeli Defense Minister called Pyongyang’s leadership a “crazy and radical group.”

In an interview with Hebrew news site Walla this week, Avigdor Lieberman stated that North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un is a “madman” in charge of a “crazy and radical group” which is “undermining global stability.”

Pyongyang “seems to have crossed the red line with its recent nuclear tests,” the Israeli defense minister said, according to the Times of Israel.

In response, Pyongyang promised a “thousand-fold punishment to whoever dares hurt the dignity of its supreme leadership,” calling Lieberman’s “sordid and wicked” remarks a part of Israel’s smear campaign to cover up its own crimes.

Firing back at the perceived hypocrisy, the North Korean Foreign Ministry said that, unlike Israel, which is a “disturber of peace” in its neighborhood, their country is full entitled to seek deterrence against “US aggression.” … continue

US Feds Won’t Reveal Reason For Throwing Journalist in Jail

By Grant Ferowich | Sputnik | April 29, 2017

One day after the arrest of intelligence reporter Barrett Brown for criticizing the US government, a government agency refused to state the reason for his detention.

Brown gained notoriety as a symbol for the attack on press freedom after he reported on a slew of leaks connected with hacker group Anonymous. In particular, Brown covered emails that showed Stratfor had been contracted out by private companies on the recommendation of the Justice Department to spy on activists connected with the Occupy Wall Street movement.

“We can not disclose the reason(s) for a specific inmate’s transfer of location,” the Bureau of Prisons said in a statement released Friday.

“Therein lies the cute terminology of the BOP,” Jay Leiderman, legal counsel to Barrett Brown, told Sputnik News Friday night. In the eyes of the BOP, Brown is an inmate, but technically, he’s half an inmate, Leiderman said.

“For privacy and security reasons,” the BOP went on, “we do not disclose information on a specific inmate’s living quarters.” However, Brown had been living outside a prison, and detaining a US citizen without due process is supposed to be prevented by rights enumerated in both the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, Leiderman confirmed to Sputnik.

On April 27, Brown attended a routine meeting with his case manager. From there, the award-winning journalist was taken into federal custody at the Seagoville Federal Correctional Institution in Texas. The reason? He spoke with media outlets without the government’s approval. … continue

Censors attack False Flag Weekly News, Gilad Atzmon

By Kevin Barrett | Veterans Today | April 29, 2017

This week’s False Flag Weekly News broke two huge stories… about efforts to shut down False Flag Weekly News!

First story: My lawyer Bruce Leichty just sent a demand letter to GoFundMe’s CEO Robert Solomon, and “VP of Customer Happiness” Greg Smith. The letter serves notice that GoFundMe must reinstate my account (including my donor database), return the more than $1000 they stole, compensate me for damages to my independent media operation, and apologize to me and my donors. GoFundMe appears to have committed breach of contract, conversion of property, civil rights violations, and “an unlawful larcenous act (within the definition of ‘grand theft’ under California penal code)” among other crimes and torts.

GoFundMe “nuked” my fundraising platform two weeks ago, apparently in response to the tremendous success of False Flag Weekly News and its new fund-raiser. They vaguely cited unexplained “terms of service violations.”

Second story: Professor Tony Hall has finally obtained what appears to be a copy of the complaint lodged against him last fall – by his own University of Lethbridge Administration, apparently led by Mike Mahon under the guidance of B’nai Brith – to the Alberta Human Rights Commission (AHRC). In essence, the complaint argues that it is a crime in Canada to study and discuss false flag terrorism, especially in relation to Israel. The “evidence” against Tony Hall is basically a very long list of out-of-context items from False Flag Weekly News.

The Alberta Human Rights Commission unsurprisingly ruled in favor of Tony Hall. So now the unnamed complainants may be trying to purge the AHRC, insert their own people, and “appeal.” … continue

Hundreds protest US base construction in Japan, year after woman killed by US marine

RT | April 29, 2017

Hundreds of people took to the streets of Tokyo to pay tribute to the memory of a young Japanese woman killed by a US marine a year ago and to protest the relocation of the US base in Okinawa. A separate rally was held in Okinawa prefecture.

The demonstrators in Tokyo marched through the streets holding banners including ones reading, “No base in Okinawa!” The father of the murdered woman also issued a message calling for the removal of the US military bases from the island prefecture, local media report.

“Those incidents occur because Okinawa hosts US military bases. I want the bases to be removed without further delay, which is the wish of many Okinawa residents as well,” the man said… Full article

US Governor Kasich Says Elimination of Leadership May Solve North Korean Problem

Sputnik – 28.04.2017

WASHINGTON – Doing away with the leadership of North Korea may be preferred to solving the crisis in the region by employing a military solution, Kasich stated on Friday.

“The problem with bombing, you’re going to lose a million people in that,” Kasich said during a Christian Science Monitor breakfast on Friday. “Now, how do you deal with this? Well, I think there might be a way and that has to do with taking out the North Korean leadership. I’ll just leave it there.” […]

“The North Korean top leadership has to go and there are ways in which that can be achieved,” Kasich said. “Now you have to have very good intelligence. You have to do things very quickly, and I think that is not beyond our capability to achieve that.” … Full article

Trump proclaims ‘Loyalty Day,’ gets mocked over 60yo tradition

RT | April 29, 2017

Internet denizens are splitting their sides at the thought of US President Donald Trump proclaiming May 1 “Loyalty Day.” However, the seemingly wacky nationalist day has little to do with the divisive Republican and was officially cooked up in the 1950s.

In a statement released by the White House, Trump proclaimed May 1, 2017 “Loyalty Day,” urging people to reaffirm their dedication to the United States of America.

“The loyalty of our citizenry sends a clear signal to our allies and enemies that the United States will never yield from our way of life.

“Through the Department of Defense and other national security agencies, we are working to destroy ISIS, and to secure for all Americans the liberty terrorists seek to extinguish,” the proclamation states.

“We humbly thank our brave service members and veterans who have worn our nation’s uniform… Their unwavering loyalty and fidelity has made the world a safer, more free, and more just place.”

The notion of a “Loyalty Day” was met with derision and hoots of laughter online. This is “the creepiest thing” Trump has done, wrote one commenter.

Others compared the day to an event that might happen in North Korea or Russia.

But Trump proclaiming “Loyalty Day” does not mean he invented it. It has been around for decades. In fact, “Loyalty Day” was a thing under President Obama, who kept his proclamation free from military and terrorism references in 2016.

It’s also been proclaimed by pretty much every commander-in-chief, including President Richard Nixon, since it was officially recognised by Congress in 1955. … continue

South Korea Presidential Frontrunner Pledges to Review Divisive THAAD Deployment

Sputnik | April 29, 2017

Moon Jae-in, the leading candidate in the upcoming presidential election in South Korea, is determined to reassess the controversial deployment of the US-built Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile system since it “did not follow a democratic procedure,” his press team said in a statement seen by Sputnik Korea.

“The THAAD deployment is an issue that must be decided by the next administration based on close discussions with the US and a national consensus, and approached with the best national interest in mind. Since this is an issue of great impact to our national security and comes with great economic costs, it must be ratified by the National Assembly as per the Constitution,” Yoon Kwan-suk, a spokesman for Moon Jae-in said.

The press office also commented on United States President Donald Trump’s suggestion that Seoul should pay for the deployment of a system worth $1 billion.

“The Liberty Korea Party, Bareun Party and the Ministry of National Defense have until now argued that the US will bear the cost of the THAAD operation,” the press office said. “If the reports are true, it is now clear that the decision to deploy the THAAD had a major flaw to begin with.” … continue

Le Pen’s Pro-Palestinian PM Choice

By Stephen Lendman | April 29, 2017

Ahead of the May 7 French presidential runoff, Marine Le Pen chose defeated Debout la France (Arise France) presidential candidate Nicolas Dupont-Aignan as her prime minister if elected.

He’s ideologically right-wing like herself. With him at a Saturday news conference, she said “(w)e will form a government of national unity that brings together people chosen for their competence and their love of France.”

Both support abandoning the euro, what Dupont-Aignan called a “racket,” and restoring the franc as France’s currency, regaining control over its monetary and fiscal policies from Brussels.

Former UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage called him an “utterly respectable Eurosceptic.” Dupont-Aignan said “I am and remain a free man. I have dared before history to build a government agreement.”

Unlike establishment figures throughout Europe and America, Dupont-Aignan is pro-Palestinian. … continue

Former long-term hunger striker Thaer Halahleh seized by Israeli occupation forces

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network – April 29, 2017

On Friday, 28 April, Thaer Halahleh, former long-term hunger striker in Israeli prisons, was seized by occupation forces at a suddenly placed checkpoint near Bethlehem, when his vehicle was stopped by israeli occupation forces.

Halahleh, from the village of Kharas near al-Khalil, was reportedly taken from the car, his hands tied and taken to an as-yet unknown destination, reported Asra Voice, quoting Halahleh’s family.

He has been seized by Israeli occupation forces on multiple occasions and has spent over nine years in Israeli prisons, most of them in administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial. He was most recently released in October 2016; he had been imprisoned without charge or trial since July 2014.

Halahleh engaged in a 77-day hunger strike in 2012, winning his freedom from administrative detention without charge or trial in June 2012 alongside fellow administrative detainee Bilal Diab. He was arrested again in April 2013 and released in May 2014, before being once again arrested and imprisoned without charge or trial.

Halahleh suffers from Hepatitis C, contracted during a dental operation in Israeli prisons where improper sterilization was used. During his previous imprisonment, Halahleh was denied family visits with his wife and children for seven months, and received only painkillers as treatment for his illness. … Full article

Pimping for Israel Remains Undiminished Since UN Report Branded It an Apartheid State

By Stuart Littlewood | American Herald Tribune | April 29, 2017

In the UK you can start a petition on the Government website. If it reaches 10,000 signatures you get a response from the Government. If it tops 100,000 it will be considered for debate in Parliament.

Currently there’s a petition saying the UK must apologise for the Balfour Declaration and lead peace efforts in Palestine. “We call on Her Majesty’s Government to openly apologise to the Palestinian people for issuing the Balfour Declaration. The colonial policy of Britain between 1917-1948 led to mass displacement of the Palestinian nation. HMG should recognise its role during the Mandate and now must lead attempts to reach a solution that ensures justice for the Palestinian people.”

The Government’s response is unhelpful to say the least… continue

Israel raids Beit Ummar, sprays houses with sewage

MEMO | April 29, 2017

Israeli forces have again raided the village of Beit Ummar in the West Bank yesterday, with video footage seemingly showing Israeli forces using a water pump to spray sewage over the houses of Palestinians.

This comes after several Palestinians suffered from severe tear gas inhalation last Sunday after Israeli troops stormed the outskirts of the southern occupied West Bank village of Beit Ummar.

The footage shows what appears to be a modified military vehicle being used to spray sewage over houses belonging to Palestinians. Israeli soldiers can be seen standing on the rooftops of Palestinian homes, indicating that they stormed and temporarily took possession of these houses.

The raid came after hundreds of Palestinians began marching following Friday prayers in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners who have started a mass hunger strike to protest Israeli prison conditions. … Full article

Trump’s Tough Talk Won’t Work on North Korea

By Charles V. PEÑA | National Interest | April 27, 2017

So far, the Trump administration seems to think that threats or ultimatums serve as an effective foreign policy. The president’s simple two-word message to North Korea: “Gotta behave.” This, after Vice President Mike Pence visited the Demilitarized Zone dividing North and South Korea, saying that “the era of strategic patience is over” and citing the U.S. missile strikes in Syria and use of the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb (MOAB for short) in Afghanistan as examples to Pyongyang “not to test [President Trump’s] resolve or the strength of the armed forces of the United States.” Subsequently, Pence reiterated that “all options are on the table” and warned that “the shield stands guard and the sword stands ready.”

North Korea’s reaction to all of this? A propaganda video showing missiles destroying a U.S. city. So it doesn’t seem likely that North Korea will just roll over and “abandon its reckless path of the development of nuclear weapons, and also it’s continual use and testing of ballistic missiles”—as Vice President Pence has admonished—just because that’s what America wants and what America is telling it to do.

So how should the administration handle North Korea?

President Trump says he wants China “to solve the North Korea problem” and there is certainly great merit in having Bejing involved in a resolution. China has incentive because it recognizes that North Korea’s nuclear ambitions are adverse to its own interests. And China has leverage it can exert as North Korea’s most important ally, biggest trading partner, and main source of food, arms and energy. However, the Chinese perspective is that stability on the Korean Peninsula is preferred to denuclearization. To the Chinese, the prospect of a North Korean implosion resulting in a failed state on their border is scarier than Kim Jong-un with nukes. So convincing China to act in America’s interests will require more than threatening to impose protectionist trade tariffs.

As someone who sees himself as the master of “the art of the deal,” Trump should realize that the United States may have to negotiate with—not dictate to—China if we want their help dealing with North Korea. Luckily, we have some bargaining chips to use. First, the United States could take less of a hard line towards China’s building of man-made islands in the Spratly Island chain in the South China Sea. They do not pose a threat to U.S. national security or the some $5 trillion in oceanic commerce that passes through those waters. So the United States could afford to back off a little on the Spratly Islands. This would also have the added benefit of giving U.S. allies and other countries in the region more incentive to take responsibility for their own security concerns, rather than cheap riding at the expense of the American taxpayer.

The other bargaining chip we have is the recent deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD for short) missile defense in South Korea—a decision actually made during the Obama administration. … continue

At UN Security Council session Rex Tillerson opens door for negotiations with North Korea

By Alexander Mercouris | The Duran | April 28, 2017

Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary of State, acted today to confirm his authority as the head of US diplomacy by using a UN Security Council session to make what amounted to a peace offer to North Korea.

After sidelining Nikki Haley at the UN Security Council session today, Tillerson signalled what could be a significant shift in the US approach to the Korean crisis, appearing to offer direct talks with North Korea’s leadership with a promise of an eventual normalisation of relations between the US and North Korea, and holding out the prospect of the eventual denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and of sanctions relief.

The peace offer inevitably came wrapped up with more demands for more sanctions (about which however see below), and with talk of military action remaining an option. However the thrust of Tillerson’s words was clear enough… continue

Russia backs China’s call to stop N. Korea nuke tests in exchange for halt in US-S. Korea drills

RT | April 29, 2017

Russia has supported a Chinese initiative in the UNSC intended to stabilize the situation on the Korean peninsula. It calls on the North to refrain from missile and nuclear testing, while the US and South Korea should halt military drills in the area.

“Members of the [UN] Security Council have unanimously called upon DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] to stop missile and nuclear tests and to fulfill UNSC resolutions,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Saturday following a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) session held in New York earlier on Friday.

The UNSC called for a political and diplomatic solution to the nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula, the ministry added.

“In this context, the Russian Federation supported a Chinese proposal for a ‘double suspension’ (Pyongyang is to stop missile and nuclear tests and the US and South Korean militaries are to halt drills near North Korea) as a starting point for political negotiations.”

However, the council was not able to agree on a common solution, the ministry added. … continue

French assault carrier at Japan port to take part in joint drills

Press TV – April 29, 2017

A French amphibious assault carrier has navigated into Japan’s naval base of Sasebo to join the wargames set for next month in a move that will likely upset China amid rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

The Mistral sailed into Japanese military installation on Saturday and is due to lead military drills near Guam in May, along with troops from Japan, the US and Britain.

The participants will practice amphibious landing exercises around Tinian, an island located nearly 2,500 kilometers south of the Japanese capital of Tokyo.

The French Defense Ministry said in a statement that the Mistral forms part of an amphibious task force mission, dubbed Jeanne d’Arc, describing the warship as “a potent support to French diplomacy.”

The upcoming military drills, which will involve 700 naval forces, were planned prior to North Korea’s test-firing of a ballistic missile on Saturday, defying rising pressure from Washington and its military partners in the region and Europe. Reports say the test was unsuccessful.

The French warship, which left the country in February, can carry up to 35 helicopters and four landing barges, as well as several hundred sailors. It will reportedly remain in Sasebo until May 5.

The development comes as the US has deployed the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier group to nearby waters in a show of force. The carrier joined guided missile submarine USS Michigan, which docked in South Korea on Tuesday. … Full article

Montenegro defies democracy by ratifying NATO membership without referendum – Moscow

RT | April 29, 2017

The ratification of Montenegro’s NATO membership by a parliamentary vote instead of a referendum is a violation of democratic norms, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said, adding that Moscow reserves the right to protect its national security after the move.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has expressed “deep regret that the current leadership of [Montenegro] and its Western backers didn’t heed the voice of conscience and reason.”

“The adoption of fundamental acts, affecting the key issues of state security, by the vote of individual MPs on the basis of a formal majority without taking into account the opinion of the country’s people is a demonstrative act of violation of all democratic norms and principles,” the statement read.

The ministry said that the will of around half of the population was ignored by the Montenegrin authorities with the NATO vote.

“What cynicism should one have to state unabashedly that there was no need to clarify the opinion of the people for such a decision, like the Montenegro president, Filip Vujanovic, did the other day,” it said.

During the “shameful” NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 there were casualties in Montenegro as well, with children being among the victims, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. Blaming those deaths on Serbia, which is accused of having provoked the interference from the US-led military bloc, is a “hypocritical” interpretation of events, the ministry said.

“Those who voted in the Skupstina [parliament] for joining NATO under the pretext of an imaginary Russian threat should take responsibility for the consequences of implementing the plans of external forces, seeking to deepen the division in Europe and the Balkans, drive a wedge into the historically rooted friendly relations of Montenegrins with Serbs and Russians,” the statement read. … Full article

US Marines sent to Afghanistan’s Helmand province

Press TV – April 29, 2017

US Marines have returned to Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province, the first to be deployed in the war-torn country since the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ended its combat mission in 2014.

US General John Nicholson, the commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, attended a ceremony on Saturday marking the return of the Marines to Helmand, where US forces faced intense fighting until 2014.

About 300 Marines will form part of the so-called Operation Resolute Support, described by NATO as a train, advise, and assist mission consisting of over 13,000 troops. … continue

Macron’s campaign accuses RT of spreading ‘fake news,’ dodges requests for clarification

RT | April 29, 2017

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron’s campaign team, which rejected accreditation and accused RT of spreading fake news, has literally hung up on the request to clarify why they refuse to honor freedom of the press.

Macron’s spokeswoman did not last on the phone for a minute, and hung up the moment she discovered she was being asked for a comment from the political movement’s apparent arch-foe, RT, which En Marche! a day earlier called a “two-headed entity” engaged in state propaganda and fake news.

Refusing to speak to RT, the spokeswoman asked to send her an email and patiently wait for their comment – despite being told that several previous letters from RT were left without an answer. Seconds later, she hung up under the pretext of being outside of the office and having bad phone reception.

Speaking to Reuters, however, a Macron representative was much more communicative going as far as accusing Russian media, such as RT and Sputnik, of “systematic desire to issue fake news and false information.”

Although the spokesman failed to provide any specific examples of Russian media spreading fake news, he hinted that Macron’s position on Russian media won’t change. … Full article

More NYT ‘Spin’ on the Syria-Sarin Case

Consortium News | April 28, 2017

The New York Times is at it again with another slanted report on the April 4 chemical weapons incident in Syria, applying ridicule rather than reason to prevent a real evaluation of this war-or-peace moment, reports Robert Parry. – Read article

Tillerson puts Nikki Haley in her place. Tells her to clear comments with State Department

By Alexander Mercouris | The Duran | April 28, 2017

Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary of State, who has this month started to find his feet as the US’s foreign minister, has finally acted to assert his authority over Nikki Haley, the US’s out of control UN ambassador.

It has become increasingly clear over the last few weeks that Nikki Haley, who is a politician with Presidential ambitions not a diplomat, has been abusing her position as the US’s UN ambassador to grandstand in preparation for what I am sure is an intended Presidential bid. … continue

Trump Releases Declassified Operation Condor-Era Docs to Argentina

teleSUR | April 27, 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump met with Argentine President Mauricio Macri on Thursday, handing over 931 declassified Department of State records related to Operation Condor.

Operation Condor was a Cold War-era campaign of violence across Latin America that resulted in tens of thousands of activist deaths.

Trump’s release falls in line with former President Barack Obama’s promise to release intelligence documents about human rights abuses committed by the Argentine military dictatorship during the 1970s and 1980s.

Entitled “Secret/Exdis,” the declassified documents provide new insight into U.S. support for human rights abuses in Argentina and neighboring countries. Here’s what the reports divulged.

They describe Operation Condor as a trans-border, multinational effort by Southern Cone secret police services to “track down” and “liquidate” regime opponents, the National Security Archive reports.

They reveal that the orchestrators of Operation Condor considered establishing “field offices” in the U.S. and Europe.

They provide information about former President Jimmy Carter’s propping up of former dictator Rafael Videla in 1977. … continue

100 US Senators Want Israeli High Crimes Suppressed

By Stephen Lendman | April 28, 2017

In an April 27 letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, all US senators demanded the world body ignore Israeli high crimes, calling truth-telling “anti-Semiti(c).”

“Too often, the UN is exploited as a vehicle for targeting Israel,” they said.

Fact: Much more needs to be done to hold Israel accountable for high crimes of war and against humanity – for decades of ruthlessly persecuting Palestinians, for committing slow-motion genocide, for attacking its neighbors.

The letter quoted neocon US UN envoy Nikki Haley, saying “(i)t is the UN’s anti-Israel bias that is long overdue for change” – an outrageous perversion of truth. … continue

George Monbiot, about Syria…

By Tim Hayward | April 28, 2017

I write this open letter, George, because you have been using your public platform to defend claims about Syria that I fear may be damaging for its people.

Most recently, you blogged a note about the 4th April chemical incident in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria, and you related this to the more general issue of competing narratives.

Professor Postol of MIT criticised the NATO/Gulf State account of the incident, and you say his claims ‘should be treated with great caution’. That’s fair enough. Shouldn’t we apply a similar standard of scrutiny to claims made on both sides?[1] You replied to the Media Lens article reporting Postol’s claims without acknowledging that it also mentioned that ‘former and current UN weapons inspectors Hans Blix, Scott Ritter and Jerry Smith, as well as former CIA counterterrorism official Philip Giraldi, had all questioned the official narrative of what happened on April 4.’

We can be cautious about what they all say, of course, but I hope we may avoid the hubris of just dismissing their concerns. … continue

At Reuters, ‘Not Refuting’ Is the Same as ‘Seeing’

By Jim Naureckas | FAIR | April 26, 2017

“Top US General in Afghanistan Sees Russia Sending Weapons to Taliban” was Reuters’ headline over a April 25 story.

Well, that sounds like news! Tell me more, Reuters’ Idrees Ali:

The head of US and international forces in Afghanistan said on Monday he was “not refuting” reports that Russia was providing support, including weapons, to the Taliban…

Asked about reports that Russia was providing a range of help, including weapons, to the Taliban, who control large areas of Afghanistan, [Gen. John] Nicholson replied: “Oh no, I am not refuting that.”

“I am not refuting that”? How does that translate into “General… Sees Russia Sending Weapons to Taliban”? If NASA tells Reuters that they can’t refute speculation that there might be life on Mars, will Reuters run a story headlined “NASA Sees Life on Mars”? That would be a scoop!

Ali writes that Nicholson’s no-comment comments “are among the strongest suggestions yet that Moscow is providing arms to the Taliban.” Maybe next time Reuters could wait for a somewhat stronger suggestion—involving actual evidence, perhaps—before running a story that could inflame the new Cold War.

French “Investigation” in Syria Neither Impartial nor Independent

By Ulson Gunnar – New Eastern Outlook – 28.04.2017

After any crime, regardless of scale, a swift, impartial and independent investigation is required if any accountability at all is desired. The French government, in the wake of an alleged “chemical weapons attack” near Syria’s northern city of Idlib, has claimed that it is “committed to ensuring that the perpetrators of this heinous attack are held accountable.”

The LA Times in an article titled, “Syrian chemical attack bears Assad’s signature, France says,” would report:

A six-page report by French intelligence services claims the nerve agent came from hidden stockpiles of chemical weapons that Damascus was supposed to have destroyed under an U.S.- and Russian-brokered deal in 2013.

Were it the case that France was seriously committed to holding the perpetrators of the alleged attack accountable, the French government would need to call for an impartial, independent investigation into the attack, and as soon as possible. Instead, it decided to carry out its own “investigation,” ensuring neither impartiality nor independence, and by consequence, achieving no accountability. … continue

Middle Eastern Surgeon Speaks About the “Ecology of War”

By Andre Vltchek | Dissident Voice | April 27, 2017

“… In the South, medicine and the provision of health were critical parts of the post-colonial state. And the post-colonial state built medical systems such as we had in Iraq, Egypt and in Syria as part of the social contract. They became an intrinsic part of the creation of those states. And it was a realization that the state has to exercise its power both coercively, (which we know the state is capable of exercising, by putting you in prison, and even exercising violence), but above all non-coercively: it needs to house you, educate you, and give you health, all of those things. And that non-coercive power that the states exercise is a critical part of the legitimizing process of the state. We saw it evolve in 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. So as a digression, if you want to look at how the state was dismantled: the aim of the sanctions against Iraq was not to weaken the Makhabarat or the army; the aim of the sanctions was to rob the Iraqi state of its non-coercive power; its ability to give life, to give education, and that’s why after 12 years, the state has totally collapsed internally – not because its coercive powers have weakened, but because it was robbed of all its non-coercive powers, of all its abilities to guarantee life to its citizens. … ” – Read full interview

Roger Waters has lost millions by standing up for Palestine–but he doesn’t care

By Adam Garrie | The Duran | April 28, 2017

… The fact is that most musicians neither win nor lose the majority of their fan-base because of politics. The fact is that most people buy albums and concert tickets based on the fact that they like the sound of a song or enjoy singing along with the lyrics, even if they’re hardly paying attention to what the lyrics mean.

But for those who do care, the reaction to Waters’ Palestine politics is shocking. If Waters was advocating for genocide, cruelty, hatred or imperialism, I would agree that his concerts should be boycotted. But the fact that he is advocating for precisely the opposite of the aforementioned things makes the position of American Express seem not only extreme, but illogical.

Roger Waters is being punished for free speech on a subject that ought not to be controversial. The fact that some find it controversial demonstrates how low and beastly the nature of modern debates about human rights have become. No innocent people deserve to be suppressed, repressed and occupied, but that is exactly what is happening to the Palestinians and it has been happening for decades. … Read full article

The Rise of the Generals

By Pat Buchanan • Unz Review • April 28, 2017

… Who is behind the seeming conversion of Trump to hawk?

The generals, Bibi Netanyahu and the neocons, Congressional hawks with Cold War mindsets, the Saudi royal family and the Gulf Arabs — they are winning the battle for the president’s mind.

And their agenda for America?

We are to recognize that our true enemy in the Mideast is not al-Qaida or ISIS, but Shiite Iran and Hezbollah, Assad’s Syria and his patron, Putin. And until Hezbollah is eviscerated, Assad is gone, and Iran is smashed the way we did Afghanistan, Iraq, and Yemen, the flowering of Middle East democracy that we all seek cannot truly begin. … Read full article

Endgame: Comparing results and intentions in the terrorism narrative

By Kit | OffGuardian | April 27, 2017

Generally speaking, ideas are like plants and animals. Over time, they evolve, things change – we keep what works and throw away what doesn’t. Humans don’t have tails. Dolphins don’t have feet. Moths without camouflage get eaten. Methods and techniques are perfected, and accepted as “the way things are done”.

If you want to move something efficiently, you need wheels. If you want to lift something heavy, you use levers and pulleys. We make knives out of steel because it’s hard and can take an edge. We make clothes out of wool because its warm. Nobody makes teapots out of chocolate.

… and yet terrorists routinely use tools that are not fit for purpose.

As part of examination of the terrorist narrative, it’s time we asked ourselves – what exactly is the goal of “terrorism”? … continue

Who are the killers?

By Mustafa Barghouti | Arab48 | April 23, 2017

Neither Netanyahu nor his ministers, who are suffering from hysteria as a result of the courageous Palestinian prisoners staging a hunger strike, have hesitated to call the prisoner leaders murderers.

The Israeli racism machine has not stopped making proposals characterised by severe cruelty and disgrace, such as the suggestion made by Israeli Minister of Intelligence and Transportation, Yisrael Katz, to execute prisoners. Defence Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, also suggested that the prisoners on hunger strike are left to starve to death, which is what happened with the Irish activists led by Bobby Sands.

With the same degree of disgrace, the Israel Prison Service decided to build a military field hospital that allows it to use the internationally prohibited method of “force feeding” because civilian doctors and their union refuse to commit this crime against the prisoners.

The brave Marwan Barghouthi does not need anyone to defend him. His article in the New York Times skilfully put the occupation in the docks, and he never killed anyone with his hands. The most important question here is: Who did? What is the record of Israeli leaders themselves? Those who are honoured in some international forums and are even awarded peace prizes. … continue

Using Children for Israeli Propaganda

By Yves Engler | Dissident Voice | April 27, 2017

On Tuesday thousands will gather to celebrate the most aggressive ongoing European settler colonialism. Organizers of Montréal’s annual Israel Day rally claim it is the largest event of its kind in the country.

A significant proportion of the crowd will come from the city’s 15 Jewish day schools, which receive most of their funds from the public purse. Many of the kids bused downtown will carry Israeli flags and their faces will be painted in its colours. At the 2014 Israel Day rally a 12-year-old Herzliah student, Jon Frajman, told the Montréal Gazette, “if we didn’t support Israel, we wouldn’t have a place to call home.” … continue

Israel is Trying to Legitimize Airstrikes on Syria

By Firas Samuri | Inside Syria Media Center | April 27, 2017

According to Reuters, this morning Israeli jets carried out five strikes on depots belonging to Hezbollah close to Damascus International Airport. After the explosion, a fire broke out.

It should be mentioned, that it is not the first time that Israel has launched airstrikes on Syria. On April 21, Israeli aviation targeted Syrian Army positions in the area of Khan Arnabeh in the province of Quneitra. This attack was committed when the government forces were repulsing a large-scale militant offensive.

Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz has already commented on this airstrike, stating that it corresponds completely with Israel’s policy to act to prevent Iran’s smuggling of advanced weapons via Syria to Hezbollah in Iran.

Under the pretext of fighting the Lebanese Islamist militant group, Israel supports Al-Qaeda and ISIS. Moreover, according to Yournewswire.com, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman stated that ISIS doesn’t pose any risk for Israel’s security.

In addition, the Defense Minister accused Bashar Assad of using chemical weapons in Khan Sheikhoun.

Israel also supported the recent U.S. missile strike on Al-Shayrat air base in Homs and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin called on other states to follow the U.S. example.

Apparently, Israel seems to be justifying the U.S. and its own illegal interventions in Syria, which are not aimed at fighting terrorism. Furthermore, the Israeli official discredits and demonizes Assad’s policy, without weighty arguments. Such Israeli actions also reduce the effectiveness of the government troops in the fight against terrorism.

It’s obvious that the current Israeli authorities have chosen the escalation of the Syrian conflict instead of political settlement. Sending new jets to bomb Syria, Israel negates diplomatic initiatives that advocate for the rights of Syrians in Astana and Geneva.

The Israeli attack on Syria has already caused vehement reactions in the international community. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang stated that China opposes the use of military force. He also urged the world community to respect the territorial integrity and the sovereignty of Syria.

Why Is Britain Rattling its Nuclear Saber and What Could Be the Consequences?

Sputnik – 27.04.2017

British Defense Minister Michael Fallon has said that Prime Minister Theresa May would launch a preemptive nuclear strike if she feels it is needed. The majority of Britons seem to support this attitude. But just how dangerous is this kind of rhetoric?

Radio Sputnik’s Brian Becker spoke with Alexander Mercouris, editor-in-chief of The Duran, to try to parse Fallon’s statement.

Britain is in the midst of a general election. Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn is a well-known opponent of nuclear weapons, despite his party’s general refusal to condemn them.

​So Fallon’s statement is purely political in nature, Mercouris explained. It aims to highlight the division between the Labor Party’s dominant faction and its leader, to depict him as a weak candidate.

“It’s a very irresponsible thing to do,” he told Becker. … continue

South Korean Protesters Think THAAD System Aimed at Russia, China, Not DPRK

Sputnik – 27.04.2017

South Korean women protesting the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system is aimed not to defend them against North Korea, but as a threat to Russia and China, analysts told Sputnik.

Namhee Lee, a UCLA Associate Professor of Modern Korean History, said, “many South Koreans think that the deployment of THAAD is actually to deter China and not North Korea.”

Namhee Lee was a signatory of the Women Cross DMZ group’s letter to President Donald Trump on Wednesday calling on him to defuse military tensions and start negotiating for peace to prevent war from erupting on the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea’s missiles are short-range SCUDs with a range of 500 km (300 miles), medium-range Rodong 1s with a range of 1,300km (780 miles) whereas THAAD is most effect for long range and high altitude missiles, the professor said.

“THAAD is not effective against the SCUD missile. THAAD is effective against the Rodong 1, but this missile is not developed to aim against South Korea, rather it is aimed against Okinawa,” she said.

As to the question why the US military was deploying THAAD in South Korea, Lee said, “Because it is aimed against China and Russia; to collect information, which is why China and Russia are upset about the deployment of THAAD.” … continue

Shift in Trump Policy on North Korea

By Stephen Lendman | April 27, 2017

Following heavy-handed threats, saber-rattling, and Wednesday’s administration meeting with all Senate members, a joint statement by Defense Secretary Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Coates and Secretary of State Tillerson announced a shift in US policy toward North Korea.

On the one hand, it called Pyongyang’s “pursuit of nuclear weapons… an urgent national security and top foreign policy priority.”

On the other, it said Trump “aims to pressure North Korea into dismantling its nuclear, ballistic missile, and proliferation programs by tightening economic sanctions and pursuing diplomatic measures with our Allies and regional partners.”

Instead of a military option, the Trump administration now seeks dialogue and diplomacy to achieve “peaceful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.” … continue

China Proposes Simultaneous Halt to N Korea Nuclear Program, US-S Korea Drills

Sputnik – April 27, 2017

Beijing has suggested a way of de-escalating tensions in the Korean peninsula.

China is proposing a simultaneous halt to North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and joint US-South Korea military exercises, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Joint Staff Department of the Central Military Commission deputy chief said Thursday.
“China proposed the simultaneous suspension of North Korea’s activities to develop nuclear weapons and missiles, and the suspension of large-scale military exercises,” Maj. Gen. Shao Yuanming said at the VI Moscow Conference on International Security.

On April 23, Japan and the United States started naval military exercises in the Pacific Ocean with participation of a US naval group led by the USS Carl Vinson, according to Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. The group was sent by the United States to the Korean Peninsula amid growing tensions in the region.

North Korean state Rodong Sinmun newspaper reportedly said that Pyongyang was ready to show its military power in response to the US move to send its naval group, while the country’s revolutionary forces could sink the USS Carl Vinson with a single strike. … Full article

Trump’s North Korean Obsession

By Federico PIERACCINI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 27.04.2017

Since Donald Trump’s victory, tensions in the Korean Peninsula have reached almost unprecedented levels. This aggressive approach from the new administration has accentuated tensions with Pyongyang, leaving one to wonder whether another US war is in the making. … continue

US missile shield aims to cover sudden nuclear strike against Russia – General Staff

RT | April 27, 2017

The United States is pursuing global strategic domination through developing anti-ballistic missile systems capable of a sudden disarming strike against Russia and China, according to the deputy head of operations of the Russian General Staff.

There is an obvious link between Washington’s prompt global strike initiative, which seeks capability to engage “any targets anywhere in the world within one hour of the decision,” and the deployment of missile launch systems in Europe and aboard naval vessels across the globe, Lt. Gen. Viktor Poznikhir said at a news briefing on Wednesday.

“The presence of US missile defense bases in Europe, missile defense vessels in seas and oceans close to Russia creates a powerful covert strike component for conducting a sudden nuclear missile strike against the Russian Federation,” Poznikhir explained. … continue