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Afghan Taliban: Haibatullah Akhundzada Appointed New Leader

Al-Manar | May 25, 2016

caedfb9b-069d-4398-899d-2e2ec5e68549The Afghan Taliban on Wednesday announced influential religious figure Haibatullah Akhundzada as their new leader after confirming supremo Mullah Akhtar Mansour’s death in a US drone strike.

“Haibatullah Akhundzada has been appointed as the new leader of the Islamic Emirate (Taliban) after a unanimous agreement in the shura (supreme council), and all the members of shura pledged allegiance to him,” the insurgents said in a statement.

It added that Sirajuddin Haqqani, an implacable foe of US forces, and Mullah Yakoub, the son of Taliban founder Mullah Omar, were appointed his deputies.

Haibatullah was one of two deputies under Mansour, who was killed in a US drone strike on Saturday, the first known American assault on a top Afghan Taliban leader on Pakistani soil. … continue

Russia Denounces External Forces for Crisis in Venezuela

By Rachael Boothroyd Rojas – Venezuelanalysis – May 24, 2016

Caracas – Russia’s Foreign Ministry has spoken out against “outside” efforts to destabilise Venezuela, warning against the consequences of imposing “colour scenarios” on the South American nation.

On Monday, Russian news agency Tass and Sputnik International reported that Russia’s Foreign Ministry had released an official statement addressing the current situation in Venezuela.

“The upsurge of tensions in Venezuela is being fed from outside,” asserted the Foreign Ministry statement.

“We are confident that a political solution to Venezuelan problems is to be found by the Venezuelan people who have elected its legitimate authorities… Destructive interference from outside is inadmissible,” it continued. … continue

American businesses to attend Russian economic forum despite Washington discontent

RT | May 25, 2016

Major US investors will take part in the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF 2016) this June despite US government objections, according to the Russian Embassy in Washington.

“Business will do what it sees as necessary. What is not forbidden is allowed. According to our information, the leading investors will attend the Russian forum. American companies will be among them. The policy of ignoring the forum has failed. Interested companies, in any case, will attend and no one will hinder them,” said Russian Embassy spokesman Grigory Zasypkin. … Full article

Russia Not to Discuss Conditions for Lifting Sanctions – Lavrov

Sputnik – 25.05.2016

Russia has not and will not get into discussions on criteria to lift sanctions, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

The West has introduced several rounds of sanctions against Russia since 2014, accusing Moscow of meddling in Ukraine’s internal affairs and fueling the conflict in the southeast of Ukraine, however Russia denies the allegations and has responded to the restrictive measures with a food embargo.

“As for the future of these restrictions, this question should be directed to those who initiated the sanctions spiral. We have not and will not discuss any conditions or criteria for lifting these restrictive measures,” Lavrov told Hungary’s Magyar Nemzet newspaper.

“The European Union has linked this to Russia fulfilling the Minsk agreements,” the minister said. “Such a connection is absurd, because our country, as is well known, is not party to the conflict in Ukraine. Such a stance only encourages Kiev to sabotage the Minsk measures without any consequences.”

Unilateral Sanctions Unable to Force Russia to Sacrifice National Interests

Russia will not give up on pursuing its national interests due to attempts to pressure it through unilateral sanctions, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

“It is clear that attempts to pressure Russia through unilateral sanctions will not force us to abandon our principled line or to sacrifice our national interests,” Lavrov told Hungary’s Magyar Nemzet newspaper.

Obama in Hiroshima: A Case Study in Hypocrisy

By Eric Draitser | CounterPunch | May 25, 2016

President Obama heads to Japan this week for an historic visit to Hiroshima, site of the world’s first use of a nuclear weapon, and one of the United States’ most enduring shameful acts. The corporate media has hailed the visit as an important step in strengthening bilateral relations between the US and Japan. Indeed, it certainly is that as the US seeks to reassert its hegemony in an Asia-Pacific region increasingly being seen as the sphere of influence of China.

However, Obama’s arrival in Japan also highlights the deeply hypocritical and cynical attitudes of US policymakers, and President Obama himself, when it comes to the relevant issues. He is not expected to formally apologize for the needless slaughter of more than 200,000 Japanese citizens (mostly civilians), nor is he going to address the lingering policy-related effects of the war such as the highly unpopular US military occupation of Okinawa. In fact, it seems Obama is unlikely to touch on anything of substance. But there are indeed numerous subjects which merit close scrutiny. … continue

State Department says Clinton violated email security rules

RT | May 25, 2016

a1e4c648-60fb-4133-a457-c34cda32a67aHillary Clinton violated federal records rules by never obtaining permission to conduct official business on private email server during her tenure as secretary state, a State Department audit concluded.

The report from the State Department’s inspector general say mentions “longstanding, systemic weaknesses” in the agency’s communications even before Clinton took office there, but it singles her out as having been a particularly bad offender for her exclusive use of private, unsecured email.

“At a minimum, Secretary Clinton should have surrendered all emails dealing with Department issues before leaving government service and, because she did not do so, she did not comply with the Department’s policies that were implemented in accordance with the Federal Records Act,” says the audit, which was obtained by multiple media sources. … continue

Is the UK’s Iraq Inquiry Set to “savage” Tony Blair?

Part 1 of a 2 Part Series

By Felicity Arbuthnot | Dissident Voice | May 24, 2016

In spite of all the scepticism regarding the long delayed UK Iraq Inquiry into the illegal invasion of Iraq, with predictions (including by myself) that it would be a “whitewash” of the enormity of the lies which led to the near destruction of Iraq, to the presence of ISIS and to probably over a million deaths, The Sunday Times (May 22nd, 2016) is predicting an “absolutely brutal” verdict on those involved. The paper claims that former Prime Minister Tony Blair, his then Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, Sir Richard Dearlove, former Head of British Secret Intelligence (MI6) are among those who face “serious damage to their reputations.”

Not before time, many will surely be thinking. … continue

Israeli President Applauds Shin Bet Chemist Doing “God’s Work” Developing Chemical Weapons for Assassinations

By Richard Silverstein | Tikun Olam | May 25, 2016

The Israeli settler publication, Arutz 7, reported that the Shin Bet gave special merit awards to personnel who excelled in their work.  The prime minister and president both attended a ceremony at the President’s House. Pres. Rivlin praised the Shin Bet efforts as “God’s work.”  Among those applauded was an assassin who uses chemical and biological weapons in his “creative efforts.”

“A.,” age 32, works as a chemist in the technology division.  The text declares that he heads a staff which develops capability for special “deterrence” (an Israeli intelligence euphemism for assassination), using advanced technological-operation methods.  He’s shown tremendous initiative and creativity by struggling to meet major challenges in the technology realm.  He’s thought to be the top of his field and a font of knowledge for numerous elements of the intelligence apparatus.  He’s even known as “Mr. Q” after the name of James Bond’s technology wizard.  A nickname which reflects his level of ingenuity and ability to transform something from the realm of the imagination into reality as far as Shabak operations are concerned.

An Israeli security source confirmed that A’s work involves assassinations, including this one Yossi Melman reported, involving the 2004 murder of a Hamas commander through food poisoning.

‘We became subcontractors to the occupation’: B’Tselem ends work with Israeli army

Ma’an – May 25, 2016

BETHLEHEM – After 25 years of accountability work in the occupied West Bank, Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem announced on Wednesday its decision to discontinue their strategy of holding Israeli forces accountable for their crimes against Palestinians through internal military mechanisms.

Representatives of the organization, which focuses on collecting information and documenting Israeli human rights violations against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, called their complicity in Israel’s military mechanisms “morally unacceptable,” in a press briefing on Tuesday.

According to a new report released by the organization, the inefficiency of Israeli military mechanisms to provide justice for Palestinian victims led the organization to label their accountability activities as a “whitewash machine” for the continuation of the nearly 50-year Israeli military occupation of the West Bank.

“B’Tselem has gradually come to the realization that the way in which the military law enforcement system functions precludes it from the very outset from achieving justice for the victims. Nonetheless, the very fact that the system exists serves to convey a semblance of law enforcement and justice,” the report stated. … continue

Israeli settler deliberately runs over Palestinian child

Palestinian Information Center – May 25, 2016

BETHLEHEM – An Israeli settler deliberately ran over a Palestinian child near Hussan village west of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank last night.

Family sources affirmed that the Israeli settler ran over the 5-year-old Palestinian child Adam Hamamrah, from Husan village west of Bethlehem.

The child was immediately taken to hospital for treatment as he suffered neck injury, while the settler managed to flee the scene… Full article

Army Kills A Palestinian Teenage Girl North Of Jerusalem

IMEMC News – May 25, 2016

SaqsanAmnsourIsraeli soldiers killed, on Monday afternoon, a Palestinian teenage girl, near the Ras Biddo military roadblock, north of occupied Jerusalem, allegedly after she “attempted to attack soldiers. She was left bleeding on the ground while the soldiers prevented Palestinian medics from reaching her, and died from her wounds.

Palestinian medical sources said the slain girl has been identified as Sawsan Daoud Ali Mansour, 17, from Biddo town, northeast of Jerusalem.

The Israeli army alleged that the soldiers opened fire on the girl after she attempted to stab a soldier at the military roadblock.

Palestinian medics rushed to the scene but the soldiers attacked them, and prevented them from approaching her; she was left on the ground, without any medical assistance for more than one hour.

The Israeli army closed the military roadblock, and fired many gas bombs on Palestinians trying to cross to return to the towns and homes.

Mansour was a high-school student preparing for the final exams before graduation.

Russia’s Gazprom No Longer Interested in Israeli Gas Field Development

Sputnik — May 25, 2016

Russian energy giant Gazprom is no longer interested in participating in the development of Israel’s Leviathan gas field in the Mediterranean Sea, Russian media reported Wednesday, citing an unnamed Gazprom source.

According to the Vedomosti newspaper, the source did not specify why the company had decided to abandon the project. Gazprom is reportedly not considering any other projects in Israel at the moment.

In 2012, the company was in talks with Leviathan’s operating firms on buying a 30-percent stake in the development project. At the time, Total, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, Woodside Petroleum also wanted a part in the project, however Gazprom offered the largest sum.

Currently, the Leviathan gas field, first drilled in 2011, is one of the largest young gas reserves in the world. According to the US Geological Survey, Leviathan’s volume of undiscovered reserves amounts to some 620 billion cubic meters of natural gas.

Five facts that challenge polar bear hybridization nonsense

By Susan Crockford | Polar Bear Science | May 23, 2016

It was inevitable, I suppose, that the putative hybrid shot in Arviat, Nunavut last week (see my post here) would initiate the global warming blame game.

Here are the five points you need to know about polar bear hybridization, as there are several nonsense statements contained in this Washington Post article. … continue

Nuclear threats in US worse than previously known — study

RT | May 25, 2016

Conflicting with a prior industry study, a new analysis claims 96 nuclear facilities in the US are less safe than reported, citing risks such as terrorism and sabotage. The study says there remain lessons to be learned from the Fukushima disaster.

Neglect of the risks posed by used reactor fuel, or spent nuclear fuel, contained in 96 aboveground, aquamarine pools could cost the US economy $700 billion, cause cancer in tens of thousands of people as well as compel the relocation of some 3.5 million people from an area larger than New Jersey, a study released May 20 finds.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s study, ‘Lessons Learned from the Fukushima Nuclear Accident for Improving Safety and Security of US Nuclear Plants,’ is the second installment of a two-part study ordered by Congress on the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan. It not only cites, but also outright challenges a 2014 study by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the US industry’s regulator and enforcer of safety standards.

The spent fuel, The Academies’ study recommends, is safer in dry casks rather than pools, because of the risk of leaks, drawing water away from the irradiated nuclear rods. … continue

Bill Clinton’s Economic Policies Increased Gap Between Rich, Poor Americans

Sputnik — 25.05.2016

Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton announced earlier this month she would appoint her husband, the 42nd US president, in charge of the US economy if she is elected president in November 2016.

“The Clinton record is mixed,” University of Pittsburgh Professor of International Affairs Michael Brenner said on Monday. “He rode an economy that benefitted from some structural advantages and a global upturn while initiating nothing significant.”

Bill Clinton aggressively pursued financial deregulation and free trade deals, and implemented additional measures that contributed to continued income redistribution upwards, Brenner pointed out.

Contrary to widespread misperceptions, “the 1990s did not see any noteworthy improvement in living standards for the 90 percent of the American people.”

While in office, Clinton changed the formula for calculating the inflation rate to make it statistically smaller, Brenner recalled.

Clinton “did the same with the unemployment rate, and encouraged lazy enforcement of antitrust and a host of other regulatory rules.”

Since leaving office, Clinton has strongly backed the Bowles-Simpson proposal that cuts Social Security and Medicare and extends tax giveaways to the rich, Brenner noted. … continue

Layers of Islamophobia: Rep. Ellison Says He’s Unaware of Clinton Having Returned “Muslim Money”

By Sam Husseini | May 24, 2016

At a news conference Tuesday, I asked Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and André Carson (D-Ind.) about Hillary Clinton’s having returned money from Muslims and refusing to meet with Arab and Muslim groups in her 2000 Senate run.

Rep. Ellison indicated he didn’t know about the controversy and — while stressing his backing for Sen. Bernie Sanders, argued that Clinton was someone who has done outreach to the Muslim community. Carson lauded her as the “most traveled” secretary of state.

Ellison and Carson, Congress’ only Muslim members, spoke at the at National Press Club to discuss “Islamophobia and Hateful Rhetoric Directed At Muslims.” [See video of their response, full video (33:00) and transcript below.]

Their opening remarks focused on Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Newt Gingrich, Peter King — all Republicans.

I had gone into the event wanting to question the manner in which they spoke — or declined to speak — about U.S. foreign policy. … continue

More Game-Playing on MH-17?

Consortium News | May 24, 2016

The West keeps piling the blame for the 2014 shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on Russian President Putin although there are many holes in the case and the U.S. government still withholds its evidence, writes Robert Parry. – Read article

Brother of ‘Guantanamo Diary’ author denied entry to US

RT | May 24, 2016

574489e4c36188a1058b45cbUS authorities detained, interrogated and sent back a German citizen flying in to campaign for the release of his brother – author of the best-selling “Guantanamo Diary,” who has been imprisoned and tortured at the US camp since 2002.

Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s memoir, heavily redacted by government censors, was published in 2015 and quickly became a best-seller. The Mauritanian native was arrested in 2001 and rendered to Jordan for interrogation by the CIA. He was transferred to Guantanamo Bay the following year.

His younger brother Yahdih, a German citizen, has campaigned for Mohamedou’s release for years. Yahdih was supposed to attend a number of events in the US this week, seeking to persuade Guantanamo’s Periodic Review Board to set Mohamedou free at the June 2 hearing.

When Yahdih Slahi arrived at the John F. Kennedy airport in New York on Saturday, however, he was detained by US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents, questioned for hours, and sent back to Germany the following day… continue

Anatomy of the false link between forest fires and anthropogenic CO2

By Denis G. Rancourt, PhD – May 2016

Summary: In this critical review of the scientific literature about fire, I describe how the false notion of a link between forest fires and anthropogenic CO2 was ignited in 2006 by a fatally flawed article promoted in the science-trend-setting magazine Science, and spread like wildfire through the scientific literature and beyond, driven in part by high winds of climate modelling extravagance, while fortunately leaving large unburnt patches. There is no evidentiary basis for such a link. On the contrary, established knowledge about forest fires leads to the conclusion that dedication to teasing out such a link is preposterous: In the present circumstances starting in approximately 1900, the dominant effect is direct human impacts on land use, which causes global fire occurrences to be dramatically less than from the known long-term natural cycles (modern fire deficit). No special circumstances or regions have been correctly identified where forest fire behaviour can be attributed to CO2. Canada’s recent Fort McMurray fire is no exception. The claimed 7 g mean birth weight loss arising from mothers’ general exposure to CO2-driven southern California wildfires, like all such claims, is a product of statistical and conceptual overenthusiasm. I use concepts from the animal-behaviour scientific literature to explain how some scientists and their followers can get so carried away. … continue

EDF Has No Date for Final Investment Decision on UK’s Hinkley Nuclear Plant

Sputnik – 24.05.2016

UK media reports initially gave EDF until early May to announce the size of the funds that UK’s EDF Energy would invest, but its chief executive said the final decision would be made after EDF’s 60-day period of consultations had run its course.

“I don’t want to prejudge the outcome of the consultation the sooner we have the final investment decision the better,” EDF Energy chief executive Vincent de Rivaz Energy said, as quoted by the BBC.

De Rivaz appeared before the UK parliament’s Energy and Climate Change Committee for the second time in less than three months to explain the delays to the project that aims to build UK’s first new nuclear power plant in a generation.

600 tons of melted radioactive Fukushima fuel still not found, clean-up chief reveals

RT | May 24, 2016

The Fukushima clean-up team remains in the dark about the exact locations of 600 tons of melted radioactive fuel from three devastated nuclear reactors, the chief of decommissioning told the ABC’s Foreign Correspondent program in an exclusive interview.

The company hopes to locate and start removing the missing fuel from 2021, the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) chief of decommissioning at Fukushima, Naohiro Masuda, revealed.

The fuel extraction technology is yet to be elaborated upon, he added. … continue

Israeli minister orders suspension of return of Palestinian bodies

Ma’an – May 24, 2016

BETHLEHEM – Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan announced on Tuesday that he had ordered Israeli police to suspend the return of bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces, after seeing footage of a crowd gathering outside the funeral of one such slain Palestinians earlier during the day.

Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri reported on Tuesday that Erdan had watched footage of the funeral of “terrorist” Alaa Abu Jamal in occupied East Jerusalem, which prompted “anger, disapproval and condemnation.”

Abu Jamal, 22, was killed by Israeli police on October 13, after he rammed his car into a bus stop in West Jerusalem, killing one Israeli and injuring four others.

More than seven months later, Israeli authorities released his body for burial on Tuesday morning, on the condition that his family pay a 40,000 shekel ($10,353.30) deposit and that only 40 people attend the funeral. … continue

Hebron settlers steal wooden furniture from Palestinian home for Jewish bonfire celebration

Ma’an – May 24, 2016

HEBRON – A group of right-wing Israeli settlers broke into an uninhabited Palestinian house in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron on Tuesday and stole wooden furniture, presumably to be burned during bonfire celebrations for the Jewish holiday of Lag BaOmer.

A spokesperson for Hebron-based activist group Youth Against Settlement, Issa Amro, told Ma’an that the houses belonged to the the Al-Sayyid Ahmad and Tahboub families, who have been banned from accessing their homes in Hebron’s Old City since Israeli forces sealed the area around al-Shuhada Street in 1994.

The holiday of Lag BaOmer, which will take place on Wednesday evening, commemorates the death of second-century Jewish mystic Simeon bar Yochai, and is traditionally celebrated with bonfires

It is not uncommon for young Israelis celebrating Lag BaOmer to steal wood from construction sites and other locations ahead of the holiday.

Local Palestinian house and shop owners in Hebron’s Old City have been banned from accessing their homes and shops after a US-born Israeli settler, Baruch Goldstein, massacred 29 Palestinians inside the Ibrahimi Mosque that year. … continue

New Brazil cabinet in trouble after leaks on anti-Rousseff plot

Press TV – May 24, 2016

Brazil’s interim government has been rattled by a leaked audio tape suggesting a plot against suspended President Dilma Rousseff, a scandal that forced a key minister in the new cabinet to resign.

Brazilian Planning Minister Romero Juca, a close ally of acting President Michel Temer, said Monday he is stepping down.

The decision came a day after a Brazilian newspaper published the transcript of a secretly-taped conversation between him and Sérgio Machado, a former senator.

Juca was caught on the tape saying Rousseff needed to be removed in an attempt to quash a vast corruption investigation that implicated him and other politicians, in what analysts call a first major political blow to the acting administration.

“We have to change the government to be able to stop this bleeding,” he was reportedly recorded saying. … continue

Spain’s ‘muzzle law’ sees woman fined over ‘All Cats Are Beautiful’ bag

RT | May 24, 2016

A woman in Madrid has been slapped with an on-the-spot fine for sporting a bag which declared ‘All Cats Are Beautiful.’

Belén Lobeto claims that Spanish cops policing the Copa del Rey soccer final between Barcelona and Sevilla rounded on her for carrying a bag emblazoned ‘All Cats Are Beautiful,’ along with an acronym ‘A.C.A.B’.

For denizens of the punk scene and anarchists, A.C.A.B is an anti-police graffiti tag and tattoo believed to have originated in the UK during the 1970s.

Spanish police appear to have taken umbrage with Lobeto’s fashion statement because in its original form A.C.A.B. stands for: ‘All Cops Are B******ds’.

Indeed, Lobeto’s rap sheet includes the phrase, purportedly written in English by the police.

In a Facebook post, a shocked Lobeto described how she was approached near the Vicente Calderón stadium on Sunday and told by police that her feline-friendly bag was against the law.

“All of a sudden two officers of the law ran after me to ask me for ID and informed me that they were going to fine me for wearing this bag,” Lobeto posted.

Lobeto says she will now appeal the sanction, which El País reports could result in a fine of up to €600.

She added: “Bloody sick of [this] country. Well, yes, all cats are beautiful. And anyone who says otherwise is lying.”

According to El País, the fine falls under the Public Safety Act – a much-maligned 2014 addition to Spanish law which has been dubbed a ‘gagging law’ because of its restrictions on freedom of expression.

Civil liberties group Rights International Spain has labeled the legislation a ‘muzzle law’ restricting the right to popular protest. … Full article

Counter-extremism scheme could turn cops into ‘Thought Police’

RT | May 24, 2016

Draconian plans to target alleged extremists through a controversial anti-radicalization program are at risk of creating a ‘Thought Police’ in the UK, the officer leading the operation has warned.

In a damning critique, Leicestershire Police Chief Constable Simon Cole said the ‘Prevent’ legislation risks making cops judges of “what people can and cannot say.”

The government formally announced a controversial new bill to tackle extremism in the Queen’s Speech to Parliament last week. It is considered to be Prime Minister David Cameron’s flagship policy of the year.

The legislation widens the police fight to include those who are defined as ‘extremists’, but who do not take part in or even advocate terrorism themselves. … continue

U.S. Government Secretly Destroyed Evidence in Trial of Accused “9/11 Masterminds”

By Derrick Broze | Activist Post | May 21, 2016

In another setback for the death penalty trial of the five men accused of aiding the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, two defense lawyers for Khalid Shaikh Mohammed say the U.S. government secretly destroyed relevant evidence.

On May 11, defense lawyers for the accused mastermind of the 9/11 terror attacks asked for judge Col. James Pohl and the prosecution team to be recused from the trial, and for the case to be shut down. Defense lawyers David Nevin and Maj. Derek Poteet say that the U.S. government destroyed evidence related to the case, according to the New York Times. The two men are unable to provide further details because the issue is classified, but Mr. Nevin said the evidence was “favorable” to the defendants. … continue

Swedish Left and Right Unite to Sink NATO Deal

Sputnik – May 24, 2016

The left and the right generally have few topics they agree upon, especially in struggling, immigrant-immersed Sweden. Surprisingly, an “unholy” alliance between the Left Party and the far-right Sweden Democrats may sink the controversial NATO deal, on which Sweden’s government has been pinning its hopes.

In most contexts, the Left Party and the Sweden Democrats regard each other as sworn enemies, yet they have recently opened up to a temporary alliance against a “greater evil,” as both intend to uphold Sweden’s time-tested policy of non-alignment. This week, Sweden’s parliament is set to decide on the so-called Host Nation Support Agreement (HNSA), which would allow NATO forces to conduct exercises on the country’s territory and come to its aid in times of crisis.

Critics of the agreement suggest that the country is simply attempting to enter the North Atlantic Treaty through the back door. … continue

Western media lies and distorts in order to confuse the story of sanctions against Russia

New Cold War | May 23, 2016

The following are two mainstream news stories reporting on the speculation that the economic and travel sanctions by the European Union against Russia and many of its political leaders are likely to be renewed in July when they are due for review.

The writer of the Forbes article below provides a typical example of how this story is written in order to make it appear that Russia bears the blame for this. He writes, “The [Minsk-2 ceasefire] accord requires Russia to stop supporting anti-government militias in eastern Ukrainian cities like Donetsk and Luhansk. Putin admitted last year to providing more than mere tactical support [??] to rebel groups…”

The Minsk-2 ceasefire agreement of February 2015 was nominally endorsed by all sides drawn into Kyiv’s civil war in eastern Ukraine. It was endorsed by no less than the UN Security Council. The accord does not contain the word “Russia”. It speaks of the obligations of the Ukrainian government and the rebel forces against which the government has been waging war. The text by the Forbes writer cited above is referring to Clause #10 of the Minsk-2 agreement, which states: “10. Pullout of all foreign armed formations, military equipment, and also mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine under OSCE supervision. Disarmament of all illegal groups.”

Here, we see the Western media game of doublespeak in action. There is no ‘Russian’ military presence in eastern Ukraine nor are there any Russian “illegal groups”. But on the other hand, in Ukraine there are three foreign countries with a military presence (in the guise of ‘training missions’)—the United States, Britain and Canada. As well, there are multiple, “illegal” (to use the language of Minsk-2) Ukrainian extremist paramilitary formations which operate in eastern Ukraine, including with foreign mercenaries in their ranks.

Since Minsk-2, some but not all of the paramilitary formations, including the ‘Azov Battalion’, have been given the cover of operating under the umbrella of Ukraine’s National Guard.

Meanwhile, daily shelling and other attacks against Donetsk and Lugansk by the Ukrainian military and paramilitary formations are occurring, and multiple, additional violations of Minsk-2 by Ukraine are ongoing, notably Ukraine’s refusal to negotiate with the rebel governments of Donetsk and Lugansk. Not a peep of all this is reported in Western media, nor is it commented by Western governments.

So with the requisite doses of silence, obfuscation, and false claims of Russian intervention, including the Forbes writer below writing that Russia is “supporting anti-government militias in eastern Ukrainian cities” (Russia is supporting the political right of the people of Donetsk and Lugansk to have a say in their future), hapless media consumers in Western countries are misinformed and left to wonder what the heck is truly going on in eastern Ukraine. Mission accomplished. … continue

Why Obama Accused Russia of Showing No Interest in Nuke Reduction

Sputnik – May 23, 2016

US President Barack Obama tried to show Russia in a bad light when he said that Moscow is not doing enough to reduce its stockpile of nuclear weapons, but Russia has many reasons for not accepting Washington’s initiative, Svobodnaya Pressa asserted.

“The US president mentioned Russia, but preferred not to name other members of the official nuclear club, including China, the United Kingdom and France,” the media outlet noted, pointing out that several other nations are believed to have nuclear weapons, including India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea.

Another major reason for Russia to keep its nukes intact involves Washington. The US has not ratified the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which bans all nuclear weapons in all environments. Moscow ratified the deal in 2000, but CTBT will only enter force when all signatories ratify it. … continue

How the World Ends

Baiting Russia is not good policy

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • May 24, 2016

Last week I attended a foreign policy conference in Washington that featured a number of prominent academics and former government officials who have been highly critical of the way the Bush and Obama Administrations have interacted with the rest of the world. Professor John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago was on a panel and was asked what, in his opinion, has been the most notable foreign policy success and the most significant failure in the past twenty-five years. The success was hard to identify and there was some suggestion that it might be the balancing of relationships in strategically vital Northeast Asia, which “we have not yet screwed up.” If I had been on the panel I would have suggested the Iran nuclear agreement as a plus.

As for the leading foreign policy failure there was an easy answer, “Iraq” which was on everyone in the room’s lips, but Mearsheimer urged one not to be so hasty. In reality the Iraq disaster has killed hundreds of thousands, has cost trillions of dollars and has unleashed serious problems for the Mideast region in general while allowing the rise of ISIS, but in “realistic foreign policy terms” it has not been a catastrophic event for the United States, which had hardly been seriously injured by it apart from financially and in terms of reputation.

Mearsheimer went on to say that, in his opinion, there is a far greater disaster lurking and that is the total mismanagement of the relationship with Russia ever since the downfall of communism. … continue

US spy plane flew ‘dangerously close’ to passenger jets near Russian border – MoD

RT | May 23, 2016

A US defense attache has been summoned by Russia’s Defense Ministry after an incident over the Sea of Japan near Russia’s eastern borders, where an American spy plane was detected flying too close to civilian aircraft.

Russia’s air defense detected an RC-135 spy plane belonging to US Air Force on Sunday, the ministry said in its statement. The plane was on an air reconnaissance mission with all of its transponders having been shut off, it added.

The US crew had not provided any information regarding its flight to air traffic controllers in the region, despite it flying at the same altitude as scheduled civil aviation flights.

“As the result of the unprofessional actions of the American plane crew, the hazard of a collision with civil aviation planes was created,” Russia’s Defense Ministry said, adding that it asked the US official to take measures to prevent such incidents from happening near Russia’s borders in the future.

At least two passenger jets belonging to major European airlines were endangered by the then-unknown aircraft over the neutral waters of the Sea of Japan on Sunday, Interfax reported.

The “unknown aircraft” was flying at the altitude of some 11,000 meters (36,000 feet) and did not respond to air traffic control, the agency said citing its source. Russian air controllers had to immediately change the flight path of a KLM Boeing-777, which was in the same region en route from Japan to Holland.

Pilots from another airplane, operated by Swiss airlines, heading to Switzerland from Japan, even reported “visual contact with a large four-engine aircraft, which was in direct proximity to their plane” and sent no recognition signals, the source said. The flying altitude for the Swiss jet also had to be changed by the air traffic control. … Full article

Close calls: We were closer to nuclear destruction than we knew

By Gunnar Westberg | International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War | May 23, 2016

The proposition that nuclear weapons can be retained in perpetuity and never used — accidentally or by decision — defies credibility”

This unanimous statement was published by the Canberra Commission in 1996. Among the commission members were internationally known former ministers of defense and of foreign affairs and generals.

The nuclear-weapon states do not intend to abolish their nuclear weapons. They promised to do so when they signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1970. Furthermore, the International Court in The Hague concluded in its advisory opinion more than 20 years ago that these states were obliged to negotiate and bring to a conclusion such negotiations on complete nuclear disarmament. The nuclear-weapon states disregard this obligation. On the contrary, they invest enormous sums in the modernization of these weapons of global destruction. … continue

Pentagon-Linked Analysts Push Preemptive Strike on Russia, Missile Defense

Sputnik – 24.05.2016

1023748077The Beltway military punditry floats one of its most inflammatory ideas yet, in calls for a preemptive strike against Moscow along with calls to bolster America’s missile defense system.

On Friday, a DC-based think tank issued a report calling for additional funding to advance US missile defense technology to combat what they view as a rising nuclear missile threat from Russia.

Earlier this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin scoffed at Western assertions that Russia poses the preeminent threat to the US and NATO, labeling the idea of an attack against the military alliance “the type of thing that only crazy people think, and only when they are dreaming.”

Faced with the need to keep the budget spigot open, a Cold War-inspired Beltway commentariat continues to ratchet up “protective measures” against Moscow’s “aggression,” by installing a missile defense system in Romania and constructing another similar missile defense system in Poland. NATO is now considering deploying permanent troops on the border between Poland and Russia, while undertaking a series of costly and polluting military exercises, steps from Russian lands. … continue

Israeli Plainclothes Officers Slammed for Brutal Beating of Arab Man

Sputnik – May 23, 2016

Israeli police brutally beat up an Arab supermarket worker in Central Tel Aviv after he refused to identify himself because he didn’t know who they were, according to eyewitnesses.

The border police officers were off-duty in civilian clothes when they attacked the worker, an Israeli Arab, on Sunday afternoon at the Super Yuda supermarket on Ibn Gairol Street, opposite the Tel Aviv municipality.

The worker went to dispose of garbage when one of the policemen, dressed in shorts, demanded he identified himself. When the worker asked by what authority he was being asked to identify himself, the policeman began hitting him, witnesses said… continue

Religious zealots waging a quiet revolution in Israel

By Jonathan Cook | The National | May 23, 2016

In a surprise move, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week forced out his long-serving defence minister, Moshe Yaalon. As he stepped down, Yaalon warned: “Extremist and dangerous elements have taken over Israel.”

He was referring partly to his expected successor: Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party, whose trademark outbursts have included demands to bomb Egypt and behead disloyal Palestinian citizens.

But Yaalon was also condemning extremism closer to home, in Netanyahu’s Likud party. Yaalon is to take a break from politics. With fitting irony, his slot is to be filled on Likud’s backbenches by Yehuda Glick, a settler whose struggle to destroy Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque and replace it with a Jewish temple, has the potential to set the Middle East on fire. … continue

Gaza Despair, Israeli Culpability, Unfit to Print in The NY Times

By Barbara Erickson | TimesWarp | May 23, 2016

Gaza made the front page of The New York Times recently, with an article highlighting the fears of residents who suspect Hamas of building tunnels under and near their homes. The topic was ready-made for the newspaper, fitting perfectly into the Israeli (and Times) spin on the besieged enclave.

According to the accepted narrative, the problems in Gaza are due to Hamas, and Israel is free from blame. Thus we find the tunnel story played prominently on the front page under the headline “As Hamas Tunnels Back Into Israel, Palestinians Are Afraid, Too.”

Screen-Shot-2016-04-05-at-05.43.56There is much cause for despair in Gaza—fishermen and farmers come under attack, drinking water is ever more scarce, patients are desperate for adequate medical care—but the Times has failed to highlight any of these issues, which are so clearly due to Israeli actions and policies.

The official Israeli line is that Hamas oppresses the residents under its control, and Israeli political leaders use this charge to help justify their airstrikes on Hamas sites and other actions, such as restrictions on the delivery of building materials to Gaza. The Times has been a willing partner in this effort.

So it is no surprise when the newspaper informs us that Hamas has rebuilt many of the tunnels it used during the assaults on Gaza in the summer of 2014, and this is causing anxiety for some Gaza residents who live near signs of underground construction work. They fear that Israel will bomb their neighborhoods to destroy the tunnels.

The story is just what the Israeli army press office ordered… continue

Another Antarctic Sea Level Rise False Alarm

By Rud Istvan | Climate Etc. | May 22, 2016

… The alarming estimates from this new Nature paper, particularly as represented by the media, are grievously wrong both with respect to the amount of and the rate of sea level rise that might be associated with melting of the EIAS Totten glacier.

There is unjustified author spin in the press releases and author’s interviews. There are underlying bad assumptions never mentioned except by reference to a previously refuted [here] bad paper by Rignot. A tangled web of deceit, to paraphrase a famous poem. … Read full article

Labour leader preparing to call for Tony Blair’s war crimes trial

Press TV – May 23, 2016

Britain’s Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is reportedly preparing to call for an investigation into former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair for war crimes in the wake of a long-awaited Chilcot inquiry into the country’s role in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war will publish a 2.6 million-word report on July 6, following seven years of analyzing evidence about how the British government acted before the invasion of Iraq and during the war.

According to a Labour spokesperson, Corbyn will stand by comments he made during the party’s leadership contest last year that the Iraq war was illegal and all those who committed a crime should be put on trial.

“If [Tony Blair has] committed a war crime, yes. Everyone who’s committed a war crime should be [charged],” Corbyn said.

“I think it was an illegal war, I’m confident about that, indeed Kofi Annan confirmed it was an illegal war, and therefore he has to explain to that,” he added.

The Labour spokesperson said “we look forward to the release of the Chilcot [inquiry] report into the Iraq war and reading the evidence he has uncovered.” […]

Last week, the Scottish National Party (SNP)’s foreign affairs spokesman Alex Salmond reportedly began rallying support for the impeachment of Blair. Salmond said any prosecution of Blair should be conducted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) if the inquiry reveals that the Labour prime minister made a secret commitment to former US President George W. Bush to support the war. … Full article

Torture victims of Kenyan Mau Mau uprising take colonial abuse to High Court

RT | May 23, 2016

The alleged victims of torture, rape and forced labor at the hands of British colonial officials during the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya are having their claims for compensation heard in the High Court in London.

Manchester-based law firm Tandem Law is representing a class action of 40,000 claims which relate to abuse sustained during the so-called Kenya Emergency, when British colonial forces battled independence fighters.

Most of the alleged assaults took place in screening centres, prisons, detention camps and under compulsory resettlement programs known as ‘villagization’. In one claim, a mother alleges her daughter’s fingers were cut off in front of her.

Britain’s High Court will hear 27 test claims on Monday, including two from people who have died, in order to assess the range of allegations made by the entire group.

The government is expected to try to delay the case by disputing the translation of witness statements. Some 1,500 claimants have died since the class action was launched.

Justice Stewart will hear the claims, which relate to the Mau Mau Uprising between 1952 and 1961, when British colonial forces declared a state of emergency in Kenya. … Full article

Top 12 reasons the Good War was Bad – Hiroshima in context

By David Swanson | American Herald Tribune | May 23, 2016

Consider this a friendly reminder to President Obama on his way to Hiroshima.

No matter how many years one writes books, does interviews, publishes columns, and speaks at events, it remains virtually impossible to make it out the door of an event in the United States at which you’ve advocated abolishing war without somebody hitting you with the what-about-the-good-war question.

Of course this belief that there was a good war 75 years ago is what moves the U.S. public to tolerate dumping a trillion dollars a year into preparing in case there’s a good war next year, even in the face of so many dozens of wars during the past 70 years on which there’s general consensus that they were not good. Without rich, well-established myths about World War II, current propaganda about Russia or Syria or Iraq would sound as crazy to most people as it sounds to me.

And of course the funding generated by the Good War legend leads to more bad wars, rather than preventing them.

I’ve written on this topic at great length in many articles and books, especially this one. But perhaps it would be helpful to provide a column-length list of the top reasons that the good war was not good. … continue

Obama Won’t Apologize for US Genocide on Visit to Vietnam

teleSUR | May 22, 2016

us-vietnam.jpg_1718483346U.S. President Barack Obama on Sunday headed for his first visit to Vietnam, a trip officially aimed at sealing the transformation of an old enemy into a new partner to help counter China’s growing assertiveness in the region and viewed by veteran communists in the Asian nation as an attempt by Washington to undermine their one-party rule.

However, there is no apology planned by Obama for the massive U.S. bombing of the Asian nation that killed over 3.6 million people, injured over 5 million, left close to 900,000 children orphans and turned 200,000 women into prostitutes, apart from spraying millions of hectares with highly toxic pesticides that affected over 4 million people. The U.S. intervention also left a million women widowed and 11 million people displaced. […]

Washington wants Vietnam to open up on the economic front and move closer militarily, including increased visits by U.S. warships and possibly access to the strategic harbor at Cam Ranh Bay, U.S. officials say. …  continue

‘UK trains armies on its own human rights blacklist’

Press TV – May 23, 2016

The British government is providing military training to the majority of nations it has blacklisted for human rights violations, a new report reveals.

In a report published on Sunday, the Independent revealed that 16 of the 30 countries on the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO)’s “human rights priority” watchlist are receiving military support from the UK despite being accused by London itself of issues ranging from internal repression to the use of sexual violence in armed conflicts.

According to the UK Ministry of Defense, since 2014, British armed forces have provided “either security or armed forces personnel” to the military forces of Saudi Arabia , Bahrain, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Burundi, China, Colombia, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Zimbabwe.

Britain is a major provider of weapons and equipment such as cluster bombs and fighter jets to Saudi Arabia in its year-long military aggression against Yemen that has killed nearly 9,400 people, among them over 2,230 children. … continue

Being A Goy In The Jewish State

By Gilad Atzmon | May 22, 2016

18bb8-1463923547319Haaretz reported today that “Israeli Death Penalty for Terrorists Won’t Apply to Jews.”

The death penalty for murder in a ‘terror act’ that incoming Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman seeks will only apply to military courts, said a Likud source involved in the talks to bring Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party into the governing coalition.

Such a move, which Lieberman demands if his party is to join the government, would effectively exclude its application against Jews. Palestinians accused of terror offenses are prosecuted in Israeli military courts, while Jews charged with similar crimes against Palestinians are usually tried in Israeli civilian courts, noted the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The meaning of it is simple. Though Jews are not a race, Jewish politics (left, right and centre) is always racist to the core.

Academics call for boycott of genocide conference in Israel

Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel | May 23, 2016

In a letter to the International Network of Genocide Scholars (INoGS), 270 academics from 19 countries have called for the cancellation of the 5th Global Conference on Genocide taking place on 26-29 June at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The letter sent to the organizers of the conference on the 3rd of May points at the hypocrisy of having the conference in Israel at a time when Israel’s actions are “increasingly being viewed through lenses of ethnic cleansing and genocide linked to settler colonialism”. The signatories call on scholars and professionals to boycott the conference should it go ahead.

John Dugard, former UN Rapporteur for Human Rights in the OPT and a signatory to the letter, commented: “There are serious allegations that Israel committed crimes against humanity in its 2014 assault on Gaza. In these circumstances it is highly inappropriate to hold a conference on Genocide in Israel.”

Citing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, the letter expresses shock “that INoGS plans to hold its 2016 Global Conference at the Mt. Scopus campus of the Hebrew University that is partially built on stolen Palestinian land in occupied East Jerusalem”. The INoGS conference website bills Jerusalem as part of Israel, defying international consensus on the issue and ignoring Israel’s ongoing and systematic campaign of displacement of Palestinians from the city. … continue

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