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UNHRC Yemen Inquiry is Doomed to Fail Magnanimously

By Salman Rafi Sheikh | New Eastern Outlook | 09.10.2017 

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) seems to have finally awakened up to the brazen human rights violations that the Saudia led Arab coalition forces have been blamed to have committed in the conflict in Yemen that has been going on for more than two years now, and has consumed thousands of lives, and destroyed the country, its polity and economy alike. While UNHRC has resolved to find out the atrocities that have been committed, the question that remains unanswered is if this ‘fact-finding’ mission would lead to an end of the war, let alone punish the antagonists?A compromise has been achieved from the very beginning, which will allow the House of Saud to not only to manipulate or dispute the results, but also escape any consequences whatsoever. As a matter of fact, Saudi Arabia was able to steer things to a course of its own advantage by simply altering the original resolution adopted by the Council, making the UNHRC look like a meaningless and worthless house of cards.

Let’s consider what the original resolution had called for and what is actually going to happen now. The original resolution had called for the establishment of an independent inquiry commission. However, thanks to Saudi Arabia’s intense lobbying and coercive diplomacy, the amended version is now restricted only to sending some “eminent experts”. According to reports, Riyadh had threatened to restrict and even cut trade and diplomatic ties with the council members which had backed the much more robust version. The House of Saud also publicly appreciated the UK, US and France for their cooperation in securing a compromise on resolution. The three countries also support Saudi Arabia’s deadly military aggression against the impoverished Yemen. The UK and the US had no reason to criminalize Saudi Arabia not only because they are allies but also because the US is itself a party to destroying Yemen.

This is evident from the way the US president Donald Trump has almost doubled the number of covert US airstrikes in Yemen. According to the data compiled by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the US has carried out about 100 strikes in Yemen in 2017. While the official narrative is that these strikes target Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), there are evidences that suggest that the US has been equally targeting the Houthis as well. Nothing perhaps could illustrate this ‘US vs Houthis’ phenomenon more than the fact that a US drone was attacked and shot down by the Houthis in western Yemen as recently as October 2, 2017. While the US officials said that the matter was under investigation, the Houthi-controled Defense Ministry announced that it had downed an American drone in the outskirts of Yemen’s capital Sanaa, thus rejecting the US claim that it was mainly involved in non-combatant missions in the aid of the Arab coalition.

On the other hand, what really explains the reason for the Trump administration’s decision to increase drone attacks is the policy of isolating and defeating Iran that the US and Saudi Arabia are following. Interestingly enough, perusal of this policy has caused political tension in the UK as well, where the parliament’s joint committee on human rights has raised strong concerns about the UK’s involvement in the US targeted killing programme, noting that the UK’s intelligence agencies work “hand in glove” with the US.

Given the extent of co-operation between the West and its key ally in the Middle East, an independent inquiry into war atrocities committed by the self-declared regional hegemon is unlikely to take place ever, let alone punish the wrongdoers. Besides the current UNHRC debacle, this is also evident from the way the House of Saud was able, back in July 2016, to turn upside down a UN report that had blacklisted the country after it found out that the Kingdom was responsible for 60 percent of the 785 deaths of children in Yemen in 2015. A few days later, however, the world body announced that the Riyadh regime would be scratched off the list, pending a joint review with the Arab kingdom. Sounds like really independent and impartial!

Once again Riyadh has been able to manipulate inquiry into atrocities by radically altering the resolution that had called for an independent inquiry. Could there be a greater irony than the fact that the new resolution that decided to set up a committee of experts had been set up by Riyadh itself? How can an accused set up, or even influence, a committee to investigate into his own crimes? Can such a body be expected to be impartial and truly reveal what the Arab coalition has done in Yemen?

Answers to all of these questions have, unfortunately, to be in the negative. It is not that we are expressing pessimism, there are certainly concrete basis for what we have said. Besides the above given arguments with regard to the co-operation between the US, the UK and Saudi Arabia, the fact remains that not even the EU, the so-called champion of human rights, is able to leave a decisive impact on the situation and turn things against Saudia. For instance, the European human rights organisation had to face a lot of ridicule when, despite its earlier statement that had confirmed that airstrikes carried out by the Arab coalition in the past two months had killed 39 civilians, including 26 children, the resolution was amended and the bid for constituting an independent inquiry was replaced by a committee of “experts.” Not only were their reports and arguments not accepted, but their demand that the matter be brought before the International Criminal Court (ICC) was squarely rejected, thanks again to the Saudi lobbying and the help it received from its key allies in the West i.e., the US and UK and France and the way it coerced countries into backing down on this demand.

According to a Reuters report, in a letter seen by one of the diplomats, Saudi Arabia – the world’s biggest oil exporter – had warned some states of possible consequences should they support the Dutch resolution, submitted jointly with Canada, calling for a full commission. This lobbying was the perfectly echoed by French diplomatic source who was reported to have said that “there is room to satisfy everybody.”

It appears that no other party is more satisfied now than the House of Saud, the principal accused in the scene. The accused stands vindicated as it is well “satisfied” with the way things have ended in the UNHRC session and the way things will proceed in the future. It is possible that by the time the committee of experts is constituted, does its investigation and submits its report in a year from now on, the Arab coalition, which believes that airstrikes killing civilians are legally justifiable, might end up killing thousands of innocent people. Who will then the UNHRC blame for the loss?

October 9, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Guardian Exposed – Conning Public into Financing “Independent Journalism”

21st Century Wire | October 9, 2017

On the 21st of September The Guardian put out a funding campaign on Twitter. It explained that if we wanted to “help secure the future of progressive, independent journalism” we should donate £5 per month to shore up The Guardian’s resources. We should do this because The Guardian, according to The Guardian, offers us “quality, investigative journalism”.

The Guardian, according to their advertisment, “holds power to account”,  and that “takes time, money and hard work”. Apparently, a very nifty graph tells us that more people than ever are reading The Guardian but advertising revenue is tumbling. The Guardian needs our support to keep their journalism “open to everyone”. When “others stretch the truth”, the Guardian doesn’t “distort facts”. We are urged to “defend independent journalism”. At The Guardian “no billionaire owner pulls the strings” and “noone edits their editor”. Now is the time to act, support The Guardian for a fiver a month.

The Tweet is here and below you will find the huge number of replies, pretty much all saying a big, very fat NO!

Almost in response to the funding request from The Guardian, the following article appeared in Medialens today:

“The corporate media have swiftly moved on from Peter Oborne’s resignation as chief political commentator at the Telegraph and his revelations that the paper had committed ‘a form of fraud’ on its readers over its coverage of HSBC tax evasion.

But investigative journalist Nafeez Ahmed has delved deeper into the HSBC scandal, reporting the testimony of a whistleblower that reveals a ‘conspiracy of silence’ encompassing the media, regulators and law-enforcement agencies. Not least, Ahmed’s work exposes the vanity of the Guardian’s boast to be the world’s ‘leading liberal voice’.

Last month, the corporate media, with one notable exception, devoted extensive coverage to the news that the Swiss banking arm of HSBC had been engaged in massive fraudulent tax evasion. The exception was the Telegraph which, as Oborne revealed, was desperate to retain advertising income from HSBC.

But now Ahmed reports another ‘far worse case of HSBC fraud totalling an estimated £1 billion, closer to home’. Moreover, it has gone virtually unnoticed by the corporate media, for all the usual reasons.

According to whistleblower Nicholas Wilson, HSBC was ‘involved in a fraudulent scheme to illegally overcharge British shoppers in arrears for debt on store cards at leading British high-street retailers’ including B&Q, Dixons, Currys, PC World and John Lewis. Up to 600,000 Britons were defrauded.

Wilson uncovered the crimes while he was head of debt recovery for Weightmans, a firm of solicitors acting on behalf of John Lewis. But when he blew the whistle, his employer sacked him. He has spent 12 years trying to expose this HSBC fraud and to help obtain justice for the victims. The battle has ‘ruined his life’, he said during a brief appearance on the BBC’s The Big Questions, the only ‘mainstream’ coverage to date.

Ahmed writes that the ‘most disturbing’ aspect of ‘HSBC’s fraud against British consumers’ is that it ‘has been systematically ignored by the entire British press’.

He adds:

‘In some cases, purportedly brave investigative journalism outfits have spent months investigating the story, preparing multiple drafts, before inexplicably spiking publication without reason.’

Examples include BBC Panorama, BBC Newsnight, BBC Moneybox, BBC Radio 5 Live, the Guardian, Private Eye and the Sunday Times.

The Sunday Times is the most recent example. A couple of weeks ago, the paper had a big exposé on the HSBC consumer credit fraud ready to go. But it was ‘inexplicably dropped’ at the last minute. Ahmed writes:

HSBC happens to be the main sponsor of a series of Sunday Times league tables published for FastTrack 100 Ltd., a “networking events company.” The bank is the “title sponsor” of The Sunday Times HSBC Top Track 100, has been “title sponsor of The Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 for all 6 years” and was previously “title sponsor of The Sunday Times Top Track 250 for 7 years.”

Ahmed reports that the Sunday Times journalist preparing the spiked story did not respond to a query asking for an explanation.

THE WORLD’S ‘LEADING LIBERAL VOICE’… LOSES ITS VOICE

But surely the Guardian would go where other papers fear to tread? After all, says Ahmed, the paper:

loudly and triumphantly congratulated itself for reporting on the HSBC Swiss bank scandal despite the bank putting its advertising relationship with the newspaper “on pause.” Yet the newspaper has refused to cover Wilson’s story exposing HSBC fraud in Britain. Why?

Perhaps there is no definitive answer to that question. But as Ahmed points out, the Guardian just ‘happens to be the biggest recipient of HSBC advertising revenue: bigger even than the Telegraph‘, which is ‘something you won’t read in the Guardian’. The Guardian’s ‘partnership’ with HSBC even helped fund the paper’s crucial move into the US market, according to the Guardian Media Group’s financial report last year.

However, the Guardian’s links with HSBC go beyond advertising and extend to the very corporate structure of the newspaper. As Media Lens noted when we wrote about Nafeez Ahmed’s sacking from the Guardian last December, the paper’s journalistic freedom is supposedly secured under the auspices of Scott Trust Limited, the company that replaced the much-vaunted Scott Trust in 2008. We added:

The paper, therefore, might not at first sight appear to be a corporate institution. But the paper is owned by the Guardian Media Group which is run by a high-powered Board comprising elite, well-connected people from the worlds of banking, insurance, advertising… and other sectors of big business, finance and industry.

Ahmed has done further extensive digging, revealing, in particular, the Guardian’s specific corporate ties with HSBC, past and present. For instance, the chair of the Scott Trust Ltd board is Dame Liz Forgan. She has links with St Giles Trust and the British Museum, two institutions that are ‘sponsored’ by HSBC.

Consider, too, Anthony Salz who sits alongside Forgan on Scott Trust Ltd. He is a senior investment banker and executive vice chairman of Rothschild, and a director at NM Rothschild and Sons. Salz was previously a corporate lawyer with Freshfields, a member of the ‘Magic Circle’ of elite British law firms. HSBC is one of Freshfield’s most prominent long-term clients.

Philip Tranter is another board member of Scott Trust Ltd. He is a former partner and head of corporate law at Boyes Turner. HSBC is one of their clients.

As well as past and present relationships with HSBC, there are also wider connections between Scott Trust Ltd board members and elite corporate and financial circles. For example, Jonathan Scott is chairman of Ambac Assurance UK, and a former director at KPMG Corporate Finance. Ambac was ‘at the heart of the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis, and was implicated in fraud to save its skin as the crisis kicked off’.

Andrew Miller, another board member, was chief financial officer of Autotrader publisher, Trader Media Group. Until early last year, TMG was jointly owned by the Guardian Media Group and the giant private equity firm, Apax Partners. One early director of an Apax Fund, David Staples, is now a director of HSBC Private Bank Ltd. When the Guardian Media Group sold its 50.1% stake in TMG, one of the firms that provided advice for the sale was Anthony Salz’s former firm, Freshfields. Freshfields also advised HSBC over a government inquiry into competition in the banking sector last year.

And so it goes on… and on. Far from being some kind of benign charitable operation, the Guardian newspaper is deeply embedded in elite networks of corporate and financial muscle.

Ahmed notes the consequences of all this for Guardian journalism. The company board members running the newspaper:

must juggle the task of operating the Guardian “as a profit-seeking enterprise,” while securing its “financial and editorial independence” — goals that as the HSBC case illustrates, are ultimately mutually incompatible.

He summarises Nicholas Wilson’s revelations on HSBC fraud in Britain as ‘the worst and largest single case of banking fraud to have ever emerged in this country. They make the Swiss leaks case look like peanuts.’

And yet the fraud has been entirely ignored by the ‘free press’. Our searches of the Lexis newspaper database yield not a single article. In particular, there has been no corporate media response to Ahmed’s careful investigative journalism since his article was published in March. ‘Even’ the Guardian, the supposed ‘flagship’ of liberal journalism, has looked away.

We would challenge Alan Rusbridger, the outgoing Guardian editor-in-chief (he will replace Forgan as the chair of the Scott Trust Ltd in 2016). But he hasn’t responded to our emails for years and he has long blocked us on Twitter. Perhaps this is because he finally tired of us highlighting examples of his paper’s propaganda role as a ‘guardian of power’. The last straw for Rusbridger appeared to follow our exposure of the paper’s dishonest attempts to smear Noam Chomsky in 2005.

However, when one of our readers challenged Rusbridger this week that he felt ‘conned’ that the Guardian is actually owned by a company and not a trust, Rusbridger did reply – although rather evasively:

It looks, swims, quacks and acts like a Trust. But, no, it’s not a charity. Nor does it hv anytg to do w HSBC

‘Nor does it have anything to do with HSBC’? To put it kindly, it would appear that the Guardian editor-in-chief is ignorant of the HSBC links of his fellow company board members, as spelled out in Ahmed’s piece.

Ahmed himself then directly challenged Rusbridger via Twitter:

‘.@arusbridger great that guardian covered #SwissLeaks. Why ignore bigger story of £1bn #HSBC fraud in UK? https://medium.com/@NafeezAhmed/death-drugs-and-hsbc-355ed9ef5316

At the time of writing, Rusbridger has not responded.”

October 9, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | | 2 Comments

Billionaire Seth Klarman, donor to Israel causes, is one of the largest holders of Puerto Rican debt

If Americans Knew | October 4, 2017

David Dayen reports in the The Intercept that Boston hedge fund billionaire Seth Klarman is the owner of one of the largest holdings of Puerto Rican debts (read full article below). This has been kept secret until now.

Dayen explains that Puerto Rico “has been mired in a borrowing crisis for years… Many [creditors] scooped up bonds on the cheap, seeking an astronomical payout by forcing the island to pay them back at par (or 100 cents on the dollar). This has led to widespread suffering.”

Klarman is widely known to use his wealth to support Israel causes.

He’s on on the board of advisors and a major donor to the Israel Project, which says it is “dedicated to changing people’s minds about Israel through cutting-edge strategic communications. We don’t attack the media, we become a trusted partner and resource – bringing integrity and facts to the coverage using proven strategies like building relationships, testing messages and giving journalists everything they need to get the story right.” (Donating to this is tax deductible in the U.S., though it’s hard to understand how it benefits the vast majority of American citizens.)

Numerous other Israel lobby organizations also get Klarman’s money;  Rightweb reports that he donates to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (a spinoff of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee), the neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies, the Middle East Media Research InstituteDaniel Pipes’  Middle East Forum, and the David Project, which has opposed the construction of mosques in Boston.

RightWeb notes that Klarman’s family foundation “has also supported a number of controversial Islamic groups, including the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, founded by Zuhdi Jasser, a controversial promoter of surveillance of Muslim communities. Klarman is also a prominent funder of the American Islamic Congress, an organization that the George W. Bush administration helped start.”

According to Right Web, “Some observers have argued that Klarman’s funding reflects a ‘wedging’ strategy, with Klarman calculation being to support ‘Muslim and Arab-oriented front groups that advance pro-Israel interests while undermining the objectives of mainstream Muslim and Arab-American organizations.’”

Klarman cofounded Israel’s newspaper The Times of Israel and donates to the pro-Israel media pressure group CAMERA. He is also chairman of Facing History and Ourselves, which develops classroom programs “to combat anti-Semitism,” which often focuses on Israel. Klarman also helps fund the American Jewish Committee, whose slogan is “Advocating for Israel and the Jewish people.”

Rightweb reports that Klarman’s political giving also supports Israel:

Klarman was mentioned in an April 2015 New York Times piece that examined why Republicans are “more fervently pro-Israel than ever.” The article linked such sentiment to being “partly a result of ideology, but also a product of a surge in donations and campaign spending on their behalf by a small group of wealthy donors.” The piece revealed how Klarman contributed $100,000 to the 2014 Senate campaign of Tom Cotton (R-AR), a stringent hawk who has received strong support from numerous other major “pro-Israel” figures like Paul Singer and Bill Kristol.

Klarman also sometimes donates to Democrats; he backed Hillary Clinton for President. … Full article

October 4, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 1 Comment

Whose Bright Idea Was RussiaGate?

By Paul Craig Roberts | Institute For Political Economy | October 3, 2017

The answer to the question in the title of this article is that Russiagate was created by CIA director John Brennan.The CIA started what is called Russiagate in order to prevent Trump from being able to normalize relations with Russia. The CIA and the military/security complex need an enemy in order to justify their huge budgets and unaccountable power. Russia has been assigned that role. The Democrats joined in as a way of attacking Trump. They hoped to have him tarnished as cooperating with Russia to steal the presidential election from Hillary and to have him impeached. I don’t think the Democrats have considered the consequence of further worsening the relations between the US and Russia.

Public Russia bashing pre-dates Trump. It has been going on privately in neoconservative circles for years, but appeared publicly during the Obama regime when Russia blocked Washington’s plans to invade Syria and to bomb Iran.

Russia bashing became more intense when Washington’s coup in Ukraine failed to deliver Crimea. Washington had intended for the new Ukrainian regime to evict the Russians from their naval base on the Black Sea. This goal was frustrated when Crimea voted to rejoin Russia.

The neoconservative ideology of US world hegemony requires the principal goal of US foreign policy to be to prevent the rise of other countries that can serve as a restraint on US unilateralism. This is the main basis for the hostility of US foreign policy toward Russia, and of course there also is the material interests of the military/security complex.

Russia bashing is much larger than merely Russiagate. The danger lies in Washington convincing Russia that Washington is planning a surprise attack on Russia. With US and NATO bases on Russia’s borders, efforts to arm Ukraine and to include Ukraine and Georgia in NATO provide more evidence that Washington is surrounding Russia for attack. There is nothing more reckless and irresponsible than convincing a nuclear power that you are going to attack.

Washington is fully aware that there was no Russian interference in the presidential election or in the state elections. The military/security complex, the neoconservatives, and the Democratic Party are merely using the accusations to serve their own agendas.

These selfish agendas are a dire threat to life on earth.

October 3, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Militarism, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

Podesta emails showed Facebook colluded with Clinton, Assange reminds

RT | September 29, 2017

As US lawmakers demand social media companies show how their platforms were allegedly used by Russia to meddle in the 2016 election, WikiLeaks co-founder tweeted emails that show Facebook executives in direct communication with one candidate’s team.

Beginning on October 7 last year, WikiLeaks published hundreds of emails from the private account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta. The daily drops continued for a couple days after the November 8 election.

On Thursday, as US media were speculating about “Russian” meddling on Twitter, Facebook and Reddit, Julian Assange tweeted some of the Podesta emails with a reminder that the social network’s leading lights were Clinton fans.

In an email from early January 2016, Podesta wrote to Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, saying that he was excited to work with her on getting Clinton elected.

“Look forward to working with you to elect the first woman President of the United States,” Podesta wrote. Sandberg replied she was “thrilled” by the progress that Clinton was making.

In February 2015, Podesta was copied on an email from Clinton aide Cheryl Mills, who said she had arranged for Sandberg and her researcher to visit the office and “step through the research on gender and leadership by women.”

That visit took place one hour before a “main meeting” concerning Clinton.

In June 2015, Sandberg wrote an email to Podesta, saying she would “still want HRC to win badly.”

“I am still here to help as I can. She came over and was magical with my kids,” Sandberg wrote.

Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO and founder of Facebook, sent a personal email to Podesta in August 2015, saying he enjoyed spending time with him, and that their conversation gave him “a lot to think about.”

Zuckerberg thanked Podesta for sharing his experiences with the Center for American Progress (CAP), a Democratic think tank founded by Podesta.

Included in the thread was an email to Podesta from Elliot Schrage, the vice president of communications at Facebook, who said Zuckerberg was looking for a way to “direct his wealth to have an impact as great as Facebook” adding that Podesta’s ideas had “really moved his thinking.”

Zuckerberg then asked Podesta if he could reach out in the future to hear his ideas and said he was looking forward to continuing their conversation.

“I hope it’s okay if I reach out as my thinking develops to get your ideas and reactions,” Zuckerberg said. “If there are any other folks you think I should talk to, please let me know.”

Some Twitter users were quick to point out the hypocrisy behind Democrats spending so much time and energy investigating all the major social media sites, desperately searching for any possible collusion between President Donald Trump and Russia, even though Facebook colluded with Clinton.

Several users began tweeting under the hashtag #FaceBookLeaks, hoping to bring attention to the story.

September 29, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

The Slimy Business of Russia-gate

By Robert Parry | Consortium news | September 28, 2017

The “Field of Dreams” slogan for America’s NGOs should be: “If you pay for it, we will come.” And right now, tens of millions of dollars are flowing to non-governmental organizations if they will buttress the thesis of Russian “meddling” in the U.S. democratic process no matter how sloppy the “research” or how absurd the “findings.”

And, if you think the pillars of the U.S. mainstream media – The Washington Post, The New York Times, CNN and others – will apply some quality controls, you haven’t been paying attention for the past year or so. The MSM is just as unethical as the NGOs are.

So, we are now in a phase of Russia-gate in which NGO “scholars” produce deeply biased reports and their nonsense is treated as front-page news and items for serious discussion across the MSM.

Yet, there’s even an implicit confession about how pathetic some of this “scholarship” is in the hazy phrasing that gets applied to the “findings,” although the weasel words will slip past most unsuspecting Americans and will be dropped for more definitive language when the narrative is summarized in the next day’s newspaper or in a cable-news “crawl.”

For example, a Times front-page story on Thursday reported that “a network of Twitter accounts suspected of links to Russia seized on both sides of the [NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem] issue with hashtags, such as #boycottnfl, #standforouranthem and #takeaknee.”

The story, which fits neatly into the current U.S. propaganda meme that the Russian government somehow is undermining American democracy by stirring up dissent inside the U.S., quickly spread to other news outlets and became the latest “proof” of a Russian “war” against America.

However, before we empty the nuclear silos and exterminate life on the planet, we might take a second to look at the Times phrasing: “a network of Twitter accounts suspected of links to Russia.”

The vague wording doesn’t even say the Russian government was involved but rather presents an unsupported claim that some Twitter accounts are “suspected” of being part of some “network” and that this “network” may have some ill-defined connection – or “links” – to “Russia,” a country of 144 million people.

‘Six Degrees from Kevin Bacon’

It’s like the old game of “six degrees of separation” from Kevin Bacon. Yes, perhaps we are all “linked” to Kevin Bacon somehow but that doesn’t prove that we know Kevin Bacon or are part of a Kevin Bacon “network” that is executing a grand conspiracy to sow discontent by taking opposite sides of issues and then tweeting.

Yet that is the underlying absurdity of the Times article by Daisuke Wakabayashi and Scott Shane. Still, as silly as the article may be that doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous. The Times’ high-profile treatment of these gauzy allegations represents a grave danger to the world by fueling a growing hysteria inside the United States about being “at war” with nuclear-armed Russia. At some point, someone might begin to take this alarmist rhetoric seriously.

Yes, I understand that lots of people hate President Trump and see Russia-gate as the golden ticket to his impeachment. But that doesn’t justify making serious allegations with next to no proof, especially when the outcome could be thermonuclear war.

However, with all those millions of dollars sloshing around the NGO world and Western academia – all looking for some “study” to fund that makes Russia look bad – you are sure to get plenty of takers. And, we should now expect that new “findings” like these will fill in for the so-far evidence-free suspicions about Russia and Trump colluding to steal the presidency from Hillary Clinton.

If you read more deeply into the Times story, you get a taste of where Russia-gate is headed next and a clue as to who is behind it:

“Since last month, researchers at the Alliance for Securing Democracy, a bipartisan initiative of the German Marshall Fund, a public policy research group in Washington, have been publicly tracking 600 Twitter accounts — human users and suspected bots alike — they have linked to Russian influence operations. Those were the accounts pushing the opposing messages on the N.F.L. and the national anthem.

“Of 80 news stories promoted last week by those accounts, more than 25 percent ‘had a primary theme of anti-Americanism,’ the researchers found. About 15 percent were critical of Hillary Clinton, falsely accusing her of funding left-wing antifa — short for anti-fascist — protesters, tying her to the lethal terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012 and discussing her daughter Chelsea’s use of Twitter. Eleven percent focused on wiretapping in the federal investigation into Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, with most of them treated the news as a vindication for President Trump’s earlier wiretapping claims.”

The Neocons, Again!

So, let’s stop and unpack this Times’ reporting. First, this Alliance for Securing Democracy is not some neutral truth-seeking organization but a neoconservative-dominated outfit that includes on its advisory board such neocon luminaries as Mike Chertoff, Bill Kristol and former Freedom House president David Kramer along with other anti-Russia hardliners such as former deputy CIA director Michael Morell and former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers.

How many of these guys, do you think, were assuring us that Iraq was hiding WMDs back in 2003?

This group clearly has an ax to grind, a record of deception, and plenty of patrons in the Military-Industrial Complex who stand to make billions of dollars from the New Cold War.

The neocons also have been targeting Russia for regime change for years because they see Russian President Vladimir Putin as the chief obstacle to their goal of helping Israel achieve its desire for “regime change” in Syria and a chance to bomb-bomb-bomb Iran. Russia-gate has served the neocons well as a very convenient way to pull Democrats, liberals and even progressives into the neocon agenda because Russia-gate is sold as a powerful weapon for the anti-Trump Resistance.

The Times article also might have mentioned that Twitter has 974 million accounts. So, this alarm over 600 accounts is a bit disproportionate for a front-page story in the Times, don’t you think?

And, there’s the definitional problem of what constitutes “anti-Americanism” in a news article. And what does it mean to be “linked to Russian influence operations”? Does that include Americans who may not march in lockstep to the one-sided State Department narratives on the crises in Ukraine and Syria? Any deviation from Official Washington’s groupthink makes you a “Moscow stooge.”

And, is it a crime to be “critical” of Hillary Clinton or to note that the U.S. mainstream media was dismissive of Trump’s claims about being wiretapped only for us to find out later that the FBI apparently was wiretapping his campaign manager?

However, such questions aren’t going to be asked amid what has become a massive Russia-gate groupthink, dominating not just Official Washington, but across much of America’s political landscape and throughout the European Union.

Why the Bias?

Beyond the obvious political motivations for this bias, we also have had the introduction of vast sums of money pouring in from the U.S. government, NATO and European institutions to support the business of “combatting Russian propaganda.”

For example, last December, President Obama signed into law a $160 million funding mechanism entitled the “Combating Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act.” But that amounts to only a drop in the bucket considering already existing Western propaganda projects targeting Russia.

So, a scramble is on to develop seemingly academic models to “prove” what Western authorities want proven: that Russia is at fault for pretty much every bad thing that happens in the world, particularly the alienation of many working-class people from the Washington-Brussels elites.

The truth cannot be that establishment policies have led to massive income inequality and left the working class struggling to survive and thus are to blame for ugly political manifestations – from Trump to Brexit to the surprising support for Germany’s far-right AfD party. No, it must be Russia! Russia! Russia! And there’s a lot of money on the bed to prove that point.

There’s also the fact that the major Western news media is deeply invested in bashing Russia as well as in the related contempt for Trump and his followers. Those twin prejudices have annihilated all professional standards that would normally be applied to news judgments regarding these flawed “studies.”

On Thursday, The Washington Post ran its own banner-headlined story drawn from the same loose accusations made by that neocon-led Alliance for Securing Democracy, but instead the Post sourced the claims to Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma. The headline read: “Russian trolls are stoking NFL controversy, senator says.”

The “evidence” cited by Lankford’s office was one “Twitter account calling itself Boston Antifa that gives its geolocation as Vladivostok, Russia,” the Post reported.

By Thursday, Twitter had suspended the Boston Antifa account, so I couldn’t send it a question, but earlier this month, Dan Glaun, a reporter for Masslive.com, reported that the people behind Boston Antifa were “a pair of anti-leftist pranksters from Oregon who started Boston Antifa as a parody of actual anti-fascist groups.”

In an email to me on Thursday, Glaun cited an interview that the Boston Antifa pranksters had done with right-wing radio talk show host Gavin McInnes last April.

And, by the way, there are apps that let you manipulate your geolocation data on Twitter. Or, you can choose to believe that the highly professional Russian intelligence agencies didn’t notice that they were telegraphing their location as Vladivostok.

Mindless Russia Bashing

Another example of this mindless Russia bashing appeared just below the Post’s story on Lankford’s remarks. The Post sidebar cited a “study” from researchers at Oxford University’s Project on Computational Propaganda asserting that “junk news” on Twitter “flowed more heavily in a dozen [U.S.] battleground states than in the nation overall in the days immediately before and after the 2016 presidential election, suggesting that a coordinated effort targeted the most pivotal voters.” Cue the spooky Boris and Natasha music!

Of course, any Americans living in “battleground states” could tell you that they are inundated with all kinds of election-related “junk,” including negative TV advertising, nasty radio messages, alarmist emails and annoying robo-calls at dinner time. That’s why they’re called “battleground states,” Sherlock.

But what’s particularly offensive about this “study” is that it implies that the powers-that-be must do more to eliminate what these “experts” deem “propaganda” and “junk news.” If you read deeper into the story, you discover that the researchers applied a very subjective definition of what constitutes “junk news,” i.e., information that the researchers don’t like even if it is truthful and newsworthy.

The Post article by Craig Timberg, who apparently is using Russia-gate to work himself off the business pages and onto the national staff, states that “The researchers defined junk news as ‘propaganda and ideologically extreme, hyperpartisan, or conspiratorial political news and information.’

“The researchers also categorized reports from Russia and ones from WikiLeaks – which published embarrassing posts about Democrat Hillary Clinton based on a hack of her campaign chairman’s emails – as ‘polarizing political content’ for the purpose of the analysis.”

So, this “study” lumped together “junk news” with accurate and newsworthy information, i.e., WikiLeaks’ disclosure of genuine emails that contained such valid news as the contents of Clinton’s speeches to Wall Street banks (which she was trying to hide from voters) as well as evidence of the unethical tactics used by the Democratic National Committee to sabotage Sen. Bernie Sanders’s campaign.

Also dumped into the researchers’ bin of vile “disinformation” were “reports from Russia,” as if everything that comes out of Russia is, ipso facto, “junk news.”

And, what, pray tell, is “conspiratorial political news”? I would argue that the past year of evidence-lite allegations about “Russian meddling” in the U.S. election accompanied by unsupported suspicions about “collusion” with the Trump campaign would constitute “conspiratorial political news.” Indeed, I would say that this Oxford “research” constitutes “conspiratorial political news” and that Timberg’s article qualifies as “junk news.”

Predictable Outcome

Given the built-in ideological bias of this “research,” it probably won’t surprise you that the report’s author, Philip N. Howard, concludes that “junk news originates from three main sources that the Oxford group has been tracking: Russian operatives, Trump supporters and activists part of the alt-right,” according to the Post.

I suppose that since part of the “methodology” was to define “reports from Russia” as “junk news,” the appearance of “Russian operatives” shouldn’t be much of a surprise, but the whole process reeks of political bias.

Further skewing the results, the report separated out information from “professional news organizations [and] political parties” from “some ‘junk news’ source,” according to the Post. In other words, the “researchers” believe that “professional news organizations” are inherently reliable and that outside-the-mainstream news is “junk” – despite the MSM’s long record of getting major stories wrong.

The real “junk” is this sort of academic or NGO research that starts with a conclusion and packs a “study” in such a way as to guarantee the preordained conclusion. Or as the old saying goes, “garbage in, garbage out.”

Yet, it’s also clear that if you generate “research” that feeds the hungry beast of Russia-gate, you will find eager patrons doling out dollars and a very receptive audience in the mainstream media.

In a place like Washington, there are scores if not hundreds of reports generated every day and only a tiny fraction get the attention of the Times, Post, CNN, etc., let alone result in published articles. But “studies” that reinforce today’s anti-Russia narrative are sure winners.

So, if you’re setting up a new NGO or you’re an obscure academic angling for a lucrative government grant as well as some flattering coverage in the MSM, the smart play is to join the new gold rush in decrying “Russian propaganda.”

[For more on this topic, see Consortiumnews.com’sThe Rise of the New McCarthyism”; “WPost Pushes More Dubious Russia-Bashing”; “The Crazy Imbalance of Russia-gate”; and “More Holes in Russia-gate Narrative.”]

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.

September 28, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , | 3 Comments

Abbas Is No Arafat. He Must Go.

Mahmoud Abbas PLO d11b6

By Stuart Littlewood | American Herald Tribune | September 27, 2017

I’ve been writing about the plight of the amiable Palestinian people under Israel’s jackboot for the same length of time that Mahmoud Abbas has been Palestinian president. And that’s far too long. Abbas has also been chairman of the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation, which describes itself as the sole representative of the Palestinian people) for even longer.

A recent poll by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research showed that the Palestinians have had enough. Two-thirds want Abbas out.

A majority are also dissatisfied with the decision at Fatah’s latest Convention to keep Abbas as head of Fatah for another 5 years. The poll found that most view the Palestinian Authority, which is also headed by Abbas, as a burden to the Palestinian people rather than an asset. An even larger majority feel they cannot criticise the PA without fear. Perception of corruption in the PA now stands at 76%.

What’s more, two-thirds of Palestinians believe a two-state solution is no longer possible due to Israel’s relentless expansion of illegal settlement and 53% support a return to an armed intifada.

And if presidential elections were held now, Hamas’s Ismail Haniyeh would probably win.

“As naked as the day that he was born”

Abbas has been a big noise in Palestinian affairs for decades. In 2003 Arafat appointed him prime minister of the Palestinian National Authority. Some say the West foisted Abbas on Arafat. A power struggle ensued, and after Arafat’s suspicious death in 2004 Abbas was seen as a natural successor. Hamas boycotted the presidential election of January 2005 and Israel arrested or restricted the movement of other candidates. So Abbas won easily in dubious circumstances.

Abbas’s term as President officially ended more than 8 years ago. It is long past clear-your-desk time. The Basic Law allowed him an extension of one year but he still clings to power. Increasingly he’s seen as the king with no clothes and, in the words of the Danny Kaye song, “altogether as naked as the day that he was born”.

The trouble with Abbas is that he’s always ‘behind the curve’.  Illegal settlement building under the Allon Plan, effectively annexing Palestinian territory, began in 1967 and the Israelis’ dash to create as many irreversible ‘facts on the ground’ as possible in order to make their occupation permanent was clear from the start.

Abbas claims to be one of the architects of the Oslo Interim Agreement, which was supposed to ensure a start to negotiations on permanent status by 1996 and lead to the implementation of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and the settling of all main issues. But ever since the beginning of the Oslo process back in 1993 the rights of the Palestinian people have been sacrificed on the altar of so-called political progress, the glittering prize being ‘peace and security’.

That was all smoke ‘n’ mirrors, of course. What we’ve seen is a continuous slide downhill for the Palestinians while the Israeli colonisation and expansion programme goes from strength to strength. Justice has never been allowed to play a part. Furthermore Abbas has repeatedly given the Israelis time to cement their ill-gotten gains, readily agreeing to more bogus negotiations arranged by the same dishonest brokers.

And he inexplicably dragged his feet over joining the International Criminal Court.

During his over-long tenure Abbas has failed to unite the Palestinians under a single purposeful voice with a clear mission. He has driven the factions further apart by letting rip the old Fatah-Hamas rivalry. His regime fails to keep the world informed or make proper use of media opportunities and behaves as if gagged.

He is not noted for tactical brilliance and his embassies in the West are lazy, uncommunicative and uncooperative towards journalists and writers, and probably under orders not to ‘make waves’. I myself have been branded an enemy of Palestine by Abbas’s London embassy, an insult I wear as a badge of honour.

The Palestinian Authority under Abbas is frequently accused of collaborating with Israel in its brutal oppression. Abbas seems to be the darling of the West and of Israel, and the Israelis are said to regard him as a strategic asset. They’d hate to lose him.

Hamas is usually blamed for any whiff of corruption but the PA is bursting with it. In 2015 a report by The Coalition for Accountability and Integrity (AMAN) titled Absolute Power, Total Corruption hit the headlines. AMAN was established by a number of Palestinian civil society organizations to combat corruption and enhance integrity, transparency and accountability in Palestinian society.

According to the Commissioner-General, Azmi Shuaibi, “the cancellation of elections and the absence of the Legislative Council led to the president’s monopolizing the three powers — legislative, judicial, executive — which has served as fertile soil for some cases of corruption.” Certain non-ministerial government institutions were still outside the scope of official accountability and had awarded salaries and privileges to officials that were inconsistent with financial reality.

But even this catalogue of misbehaviour didn’t hammer the final nail into Abbas’s political coffin. Today he’s increasingly busy cracking down on dissenters within his own Fatah party and outside organisations.

Peace process “a deceptive farce”

The confidential Palestinian Papers, leaked by Al-Jazeera in 2011, revealed the shambolic conduct of the so-called peace process and how the Palestinian team allowed the Israelis to walk all over them, with US help.

One of the leak’s sources, a French-Palestinian lawyer and former adviser to the PLO, Ziyad Clot, said in an article in The Guardian that the peace process was “an inequitable and destructive political process which had been based on the assumption that the Palestinians could in effect negotiate their rights and achieve self-determination while enduring the hardship of the Israeli occupation”. They were “a deceptive farce whereby biased terms were unilaterally imposed by Israel and systematically endorsed by the US and EU”. They “excluded for the most part the great majority of the Palestinian people: the seven million Palestinian refugees”. And, he said, “the PLO, given its structure, was not in a position to represent all Palestinian rights and interests”.

So why did the Palestinians’ chief negotiator since 1995, Saeb Erekat, still engage in it? Erekat was educated in political science in the US and conflict studies in England, so should have been savvy enough to see through it. Will no-one steer the Palestinians into a sane justice process and away from the ‘kangaroo’ peace negotiations that Erekat and Abbas seem addicted to?

Not long ago, in an interview, I asked law professor and former UN special rapporteur Richard Falk: “How acceptable is it for a weak, demoralized and captive people like the Palestinians to be forced into negotiating with their brutal occupier under the auspices of a US administration seen by many people as too dishonest to play the part of peace broker?

He replied: “Even if the United States was acting in good faith, for which there is no evidence, its dual role as Israel’s unconditional ally and as intermediary would subvert the credibility of a negotiating process. In fact, the US Government signals its partisanship by White House appointments of individuals overtly associated with the AIPAC lobbying group as Special Envoys to oversee the negotiations such as Dennis Ross and Martin Indyk…  The unsatisfactory nature of the current framework of negotiations is further flawed by weighting the process in favor of Israel, which enjoys a position of hard power dominance.”

That the UK Government will shortly be celebrating 100 years of the infamous Balfour Declaration, and continuing to endorse its cruel legacy while refusing to support Palestinian statehood, is an indictment of Abbas’s dismal performance.

Face it, the guy is no Arafat. On Abbas’s watch the high hopes of ordinary Palestinians have turned to dust. As Oliver Cromwell told the English Parliament in 1653: “You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately… Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!” Those same words are applicable also to Abbas, and indeed the entire PLO and Palestinian Authority.

What Palestinians need, but probably will never get, is leadership with style, wisdom and the will to make friends with the West. Their case is still not widely understood and any new leader must have the ability to outwit Israel’s absurdly successful propaganda. Yes, the Zionists may have a stranglehold on Western opinion, but the Palestinians possess a superior two-edged weapon which they have never used effectively: truth and a just cause.

*(Mahmoud Abbas. Image credit: Kremkin.ru)

September 28, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Kurdistan – what the referendum is hiding

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On this electoral poster, the map of « independent Kurdistan » overflows from the autonomous Iraqi region onto Iraqi and Syrian territory.
By Thierry Meyssan | Voltairenet | September 26, 2017

The referendum for the independence of Kurdistan is a fool’s game. The United States, which secretly supports it, claims in public to oppose it. France and the United Kingdom are doing the same, hoping that Washington will make their old dreams come true. Not to be outdone, Russia is hinting that although it is against any unilateral change, it might support independence… as long as everyone accepts the independence of Crimea, which means accepting its attachment to Moscow.

The degree of hypocrisy of the permanent members of the UN Security Council is such that they have so far been unable to give a ruling on this question, despite their apparent unanimity. They have not adopted any resolution (in other words, a text with international force of law), nor Presidential declaration (in other words a position common to the members of the Council) – nothing except an insipid Press release during their meeting on 19 September [1].

Currently, there exist eight non-recognised States – Abkhazia, North Cyprus, Nagorno-Karabagh, Kosovo, Ossetia, Western Sahara, Somaliland and Trasnistria. Two European regions are also hoping for independence – Catalonia and Scotland. Any modification of the status of Iraqi Kurdistan will have consequences for these ten countries.

The independence of Iraqi Kurdistan would be a tour de force, insofar as it would mean displacing Kurdistan, as it was recognised by the Sèvres Conference in 1920, from its current location on Turkish territory to Iraqi territory. Of course, everyone has become used to using the title Kurdistan to indicate this region, which, since 1991, has been subject to a slow and continual ethnic cleansing by London and Washington.

During « Desert Storm », this region was mainly inhabited by Iraqi Kurds. London and Washington made it a no-fly zone against President Hussein. They forced into power one of their collaborators from the Cold War, Massoud Barzani, who initiated the displacement of the non-Kurdish populations. The same Barzani, although he was twice re-elected since then, has maintained his grip on power for more than two years without a mandate. The National Assembly, which demanded his departure, has met only once since the end of his mandate to vote the principle of the referendum, but in the absence of Goran – a party which has continually denounced the feudal system of the Barzanis and the Talabanis, and the nepotism and the corruption which are the direct result. In fact, Massoud Barzani has been in power, without interruption, for the last 26 years.

From 1991 to 2003, the non-Kurds progressively left the no-fly zone, so that the region was proclaimed, with the defeat of President Hussein, as Iraqi Kurdistan.

On 1 June 2014, the secret services of Saudia Arabia, the United States, Israël, Jordan, the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, Qatar, the United Kingdom and Turkey organised, in Amman, (Jordan) a preparatory meeting for the invasion of Iraq by Daesh. We know of the existence of this meeting by the Turkish document that Özgür Gündem published immediately [2]. This daily newspaper – with whom I collaborated – has since been shut down by the « sultan » Recep Tayyip Erdoğan [3].

According to this document, it was agreed to coordinate Daesh and the region of Iraqi Kurdistan. The former launched a lightning offensive to capture Mosul, while the latter grabbed Kirkuk. Four days earlier, President Massoud Barzani had travelled to Jordan to talk to the participants of this meeting. He was careful not to take part in the meeting himself, but was represented by his son Masrour, the head of his own Intelligence services.

When Daesh invaded the part of Iraq that the United States had previously attributed to him, they profited from the occasion to imprison the Yezedis and bind them into slavery. Most of the Yezedis are Kurdish, but in conformity with the Amman agreement, the neighbouring Barzanis did not intervene, even when some of them fled into the Sinjar mountains. Those who fled were finally saved by the commandos of the Turkish PKK. The Turkish Kurds saved them all, whether they were Kurds or not. They used this victory to demand their recognition from the Western powers (who, since the Cold War, has viewed them as terrorists). The current revision of this affair by the Barzanis cannot erase their crime against their own people [4].

Another famous Kurd took part in the meeting in Amman – the Islamist Mullah Krekar. He was imprisoned in Norway, where he was serving a five-year sentence for having threatened, on TV, to kill Prime Minister Erna Solberg. He travelled to the Amman meeting in a NATO plane, and was taken back to his cell in the days that followed. He then revealed his allegiance to Daesh. He was not condemned for belonging to a terrorist organisation, but was offered a two-year remission of sentence and was freed. He then went on to direct Daesh in Europe, from Oslo, under the protection of NATO. Clearly, the Stay-behind network of the Atlantic Alliance is still operational [5]

Having annexed Kirkuk, the regional government of Iraqi Kurdistan extended to their zone the ethnic cleansing that its members had been perpetrating in the no-fly zone between 1991 and 2003.

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We can relax – the immovable Barzani has assured that he will not implement measures of retaliation against those who vote “No”.

The non-constitutional President Barzani has announced that all the populations of Iraqi Kurdistan and the annexed territories may participate in the referendum. Together, all these regions housed more than twelve million citizens in 2013. But today, three million non-Kurdish citizens have been forced to flee. So only a chosen number of electors are called to vote on the future not only of the place of the expelled legitimate inhabitants, but also that of all other Iraqis.

  • In order to participate in the referendum, one must –
  • live in Kurdistan or the annexed regions ;
  • be over 18 years old ;
  • have been registered before 7 September on the electoral lists ;
  • and for those who are refugees abroad, one must have been registered for the electronic vote … which supposes that they must first present their papers to the electoral authority of Kurdistan, from which they have been expelled.

As it happens, the Barzanis have a particular conception of the populations who are called to vote. In 1992, there were no more than 971,953 voters, but a decade later, in 2014, they suddenly numbered 2,129,846, and now 3,305,925, on September 25, 2017.

Independence will give the Barzani and Talabani clans further means with which to pursue their affairs. It will also offer Israël the possibility of implementing certain of its military objectives. Since the end of the 1990’s and the development of missile weaponry, Tsahal has abandoned its strategy of occupying the « border regions », meaning the territories just outside its frontiers (Sinaï, Golan, South Lebanon). On the contrary, it intends to neutralise Egypt, Syria and Lebanon by taking them from behind. This is why Tel-Aviv supported the creation of South Sudan, in 2011, in order to place missiles pointed at Egypt, and is today supporting the creation of Kurdistan in order to place missiles pointed at Syria.

According to Israel-Kurd, which is widely quoted by the Turkish Press, Israëli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised Massoud Barzani to transfer 200,000 Israëlis to the new state to « help » with its administration [6].

According to this logic, the ideal for Tsahal would be to extend the territory of Iraqi Kurdistan not only to Kirkuk, but to Northern Syria. This is the purpose of the YPG and its « Rojava ». This self-proclaimed autonomous state is a long corridor which links Iraqi Kurdistan to the Mediterranean, and is occupied by US troops who are illegally installed in several military bases.

Eight months before the Amman meeting, a Pentagon researcher, Robin Wright, confirmed her country’s agreement with this project [7]. At that time, the Barzanis were still claiming that they defended all Kurds, including those who were living in Turkey and Iran. Mrs. Wright carefully explained that such a project was impossible, but published her map of « Sunnistan », attributed to Daesh, and « Kurdistan » attributed to the Barzanis in Iraq and Syria.

Incidentally, in August, the Pentagon published a call for tender for the buying and transfer of 500 million weapons and ammunition, mainly ex-Soviet [8]. The 200 first trucks were delivered to the YPG at Hasakah, on 11 and 19 September, via Iraqi Kurdistan, without being attacked by the jihadistes [9]. The Russian Minister for Defence has just made public satellite photos of a camp of US special forces in the middle of Daesh territory, living quite comfortably with the Kurds and the jihadists [10].

So since we are told that this « independent Kurdistan » is a democratic Kurdish project, why would we doubt it?

Translation by Pete Kimberley

Notes

[1] “UN Security Council Press Statement on Iraqi Kurdistan”, Voltaire Network, 21 September 2017.

[2] « Yer : Amman, Tarih : 1, Konu : Musul », Akif Serhat, Özgür Gündem, 6 juillet 2014.

[3] Those journalists who escaped the purge and managed to flee, created the electronic daily Özgürlükçü Demokrasi outside of Turkey.

[4] “Rewriting the massacre at Sinjar”, Translation Anoosha Boralessa, Voltaire Network, 12 September 2017.

[5] NATO’s Secret Armies: Operation GLADIO and Terrorism in Western Europe, Daniele Ganser, Routledge, 2004.

[6] “200,000 Israelis expected in “Kurdistan” once independence is declared”, Translation Anoosha Boralessa, Voltaire Network, 20 September 2017.

[7] “Imagining a Remapped Middle East”, Robin Wright, The New York Times Sunday Review, September 28, 2013.

[8] “Heikle Fracht aus Ramstein”, “Millionen Schuss Munition für Kalaschnikows”, Frederik Obermaier & Paul-Anton Krüger, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 12. & 20. September 2017.

[9] “200 lorries of arms and ammunition: delivery by the Pentagon to the YPG”, Translation Anoosha Boralessa, Voltaire Network, 23 September 2017.

[10] « Le ministère russe de la Défense diffuse des photos des Forces US stationnées chez Daesh », Réseau Voltaire, 24 septembre 2017.

September 27, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , | Leave a comment

653,249 people were arrested in the US last year for breaking marijuana laws

By Mark Frauenfelder – Boing Boing – September 25, 2017

One person gets arrested for marijuana possession every 71 seconds in the United States, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual Crime In the United States (CIUS) report. This is great news to drug cartels, police departments, racists, corrupt politicians, the prison industry, and the involuntary rehab clinic racket. It’s bad news for everybody else.

“Arresting and citing nearly half a million people a year for a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol is a travesty,” said Morgan Fox, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Despite a steady shift in public opinion away from marijuana prohibition, and the growing number of states that are regulating marijuana like alcohol, marijuana consumers continue to be treated like criminals throughout the country. This is a shameful waste of resources and can create lifelong consequences for the people arrested.”

There are currently eight states that regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol for adults, four of which voted to do so in November 2016. Marijuana possession is also legal for adults in the District of Columbia. Twenty-three states and D.C. considered legislation in 2017 to regulate marijuana, including in Vermont where the legislature approved such a measure before the governor vetoed it. “Regulating marijuana for adults creates jobs, generates tax revenue, protects consumers, and takes money away from criminals,” Fox continued. “It is time for the federal government and the rest of the states to stop ruining peoples’ lives and enact sensible marijuana policies.”

UPDATE: Data omitted from original analysis shows 653,249 marijuana arrests in 2016. Some reporting law enforcement agencies do not distinguish between types of drug arrests or possession and distribution violations.

September 26, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Subjugation - Torture | , | 1 Comment

More on Imran Awan

Where are all those congressional emails?

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • September 26, 2017

I wrote an article on the strange case of Imran Awan about two months ago. To summarize it briefly, Awan, his two brothers and wife, naturalized U.S. citizens born in Pakistan living in the Washington DC area, found employment as IT administrators in the House of Representatives working for as many as 80 Democratic Party congressmen. Even though they may have had little actual training in IT, they insinuated themselves into the system and were paid in excess of $5 million over the course of ten years, chief-of-staff level pay, while frequently not even showing up for work. They even brought into the arrangement a frequent no-show Pakistani friend whose prior work history consisted of getting recently fired by McDonald’s.

Along the way, their security files were never reviewed. They were involved in bankruptcies, bank fraud and other criminal activity, but their troublesome behavior was never noticed. They were on bad terms with their father and step-mother, which including forging a document to cheat their step-mother of an insurance payment and even holding her “captive” so she could not see their dying father. Their father even changed his last name to dissociate himself from them.

Imran Awan, the leader of the group, worked particularly for Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who was, at the time, also the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Though he had no clearance and was not supposed to work with classified material, he and his family obtained password access to congressional files and Imran himself was able to enter Wasserman-Schultz’s own personal iPad computer which linked to the server used by the Democratic National Committee.

As of February 2016, the Awans came under suspicion by the Capitol Hill Police for having set up an operation involving double billing as well as the possible theft and reselling of government owned computer equipment. It was also believed that they had somehow obtained entry to much of the House of Representatives’ computer network as well as to other information in the individual offices’ separate computer systems that they were in theory not allowed to access. It was also believed that Imran sent “massive” quantities of stolen government files to a remote personal server. It may have been located in his former residence in Lorton, Virginia. The police began an investigation and quietly alerted the congressmen involved that there might be a problem. Most stopped employing the Awan family members and associates, but Wasserman-Schultz kept Imran on the payroll until the day after he was actually arrested.

Imran was arrested on July 25th at Dulles Airport as he was flying to Pakistan to join his wife Alvi, who had left the country with their children and many of their possessions in March. In January, they had also wired to Pakistan $283,000 that they had obtained fraudulently from the Congressional credit union. After his arrest, Imran was defended by lawyer Chris Gowen, a high-priced $1,000 an hour Washington attorney who has worked for the Clintons personally, the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative.

There are many questions regarding the Awan case. One might reasonably ask how foreign-born IT specialists are selected and vetted prior to being significantly overpaid and allowed to work on computers in congressional offices. And the ability of those same individuals to keep working even after the relevant congressmen have been warned that their employee was under investigation has to be explained beyond Wasserman-Schultz’s comment that Awan had not committed any crime, which may have been true but one would expect congressmen to err on the side of caution over an issue that could easily have national security ramifications. And how does a recently bankrupt and unemployed Imran Awan wind up with a high-priced Clinton-connected lawyer to defend himself?

As the story involves possible espionage, fraud and even something new to consider regarding the theft of information from the DNC server, one might have expected the Fourth Estate to wake from its slumber and take notice. But perhaps not surprisingly there has been astonishingly little follow-up in the mainstream media about the Awan family, possibly because it involves some leading Democrats, though the Daily Caller and some other conservative sites have stayed on top of developments.

Since his arrest Imran Awan has had his passports confiscated by the court and has been released on bail on condition that he wear an ankle monitor at all times and not travel more than 50 miles from the Virginia home where he is staying with a relative. In early September, he sought to have the monitor removed and his passports returned so he could travel to Pakistan and visit his children. His plea was rejected. He is not yet scheduled for trial on the allegations of bank fraud and is apparently still under investigation by the Bureau relating to other possible charges, including possible espionage. His four accomplices are also still under investigation but have not been charged. They are on a watch list and will not be allowed to leave the United States while the inquiry is continuing.

It has also been learned that Imran had been on the receiving end of complaints filed with the Fairfax County Virginia police in 2015-6 by two women who resided in separate apartments in Alexandria that are reportedly paid for by Imran Awan. Both of the women complained of abuse and one is believed to be a “second wife” for Imran Awan, legal in Pakistan but illegal in the United States. Imran reportedly divorced his second wife shortly after his arrest.

In a surprise development, investigative journalists have also determined that Imran Awan retained as of the end of August a still-active secret, numeric email account on the House of Representatives server. E-mail accounts in Congress normally are labeled using the holder’s name, so all active accounts are identity-linked as a security measure. In this case the numeric account was linked to the actual account of a House staffer who works on national security issues for Andre Carson, a Democrat from Indiana. Imran Awan clearly has been using the anonymous House of Representatives address as it was cited in a suit filed by a landlord seeking unpaid rent on an apartment rented for his second wife in Alexandria.

The most significant recent development in the Awan case is, however, the decision made by Imran’s wife Alvi to return to the United States at the end of this month. She has been charged as a co-conspirator relating to the bank fraud that her husband was also involved in, which potentially could result in some jail time. There are, however, reports that she has been interviewed several times in Pakistan by FBI agents and has apparently agreed to a plea bargain to tell all she knows about what went on with the Awan family. Some on Capitol Hill believe that what she knows could prove to be explosive, not only regarding the lax security practices in Congress but also in terms of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s negligence in providing access to the DNC server. The actual whereabouts of the large quantity of stolen government documents might also be resolved.

This story, which is still unfolding, continues to have the potential to blow wide open the complacent culture on Capitol Hill and it also might ruin the reputations of a number of leading Democrats. Stay tuned!

September 26, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , | Leave a comment

Manafort Demands Probe After Leak Revealed He Was Being Wiretapped

Sputnik – 20.09.2017

A legal representative of Paul Manafort, who at one time managed the successful 2016 presidential bid of Donald Trump, has demanded an investigation into the FBI after anonymous sources seemingly broke federal law by leaking classified information to the media regarding the investigation into Manafort.

On Tuesday, CNN broke the news that the FBI had secured a wiretap on Manafort’s phone under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA.) The investigation began in 2014 following allegations that Manafort was operating as a foreign agent in his capacity as a campaign adviser to Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. The wiretap paused in 2016, and resumed in 2017 under new allegations of Manafort’s ties to Russian intelligence. Eventually, the FBI ended the wiretapping for a lack of evidence.

If the reports are true, then a felony has been committed — but not by Manafort. According to Jason Maloni, a spokesman for the former lobbyist and Trump presidential campaign manager, “it is a felony to reveal the existence of a FISA warrant, regardless of the fact that no charges ever emerged. The US Department of Justice’s Inspector General should immediately conduct an investigation into these leaks and to examine the motivations behind a previous Administration’s effort to surveil a political opponent.”

“Mr. Manafort requests that the Department of Justice release any intercepts involving him and any non-Americans so interested parties can come to the same conclusion as the DOJ — there is nothing there.”

Manafort has denied the charges that he “knowingly” communicated with Russian intelligence operatives during the election. He denies any participation in efforts to “undermine the interests of the United States.”

FISA warrants aren’t easy to secure. As former FBI agent Asha Rangappa told Public Radio International, “what the FBI has to do is go into a secret FISA court and show the judge that there’s probable cause to believe that the person they are targeting is acting as what’s called ‘an agent of a foreign power,’ that they’re acting at the direction and control of a foreign intelligence service in this case.”

Robert Mueller, the Department of Justice Special Counsel in charge of investigating the alleged ties between Russia and the Trump campaign team, has been undertaking what the New York Times called a “shock and awe” strategy in his investigation, utilizing tactics like dramatic nighttime raids on Manafort’s residence and impaneling a grand jury to indict Manafort.

“Mr. Mueller has obtained a flurry of subpoenas to compel witnesses to testify before a grand jury, lawyers and witnesses say, sometimes before his prosecutors have taken the customary first step of interviewing them. One witness was called before the grand jury less than a month after his name surfaced in news accounts. The special counsel even took the unusual step of obtaining a subpoena for one of Mr. Manafort’s former lawyers, claiming an exception to the rule that shields attorney-client discussions from scrutiny,” The Times reported.

“It’s important early on to strike terror in the hearts of people in Washington,” one attorney told the Times, in reference to Mueller’s probe.

September 19, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception | , | Leave a comment

Obama Goes to Wall Street, Giving $400,000 Speeches to Special Interests

Sputnik – 19.09.2017

Ex-US President Barack Obama is monetizing his experience in the office by sharing it with Wall Street’s special interests for a heft bounty, whilst many Americans are struggling to pay their skyrocketing insurance premiums, debt bills, and ballooning rents.

Kristian Rouz – Following in the footsteps of Bill and Hillary Clinton and their ‘Clinton Foundation’, ex-US President Barack Obama is reportedly giving $400,000 speeches to Wall Street companies through his own ‘Obama Foundation’. Whilst President Trump has blasted the scheme as high-profile corruption serving the needs of special interests during his last year’s presidential campaign, the practice of paid speeches given by the retired top US officials is alive and well.

Obama has reportedly spoken to Cantor Fitzgerald LP, Carlyle Group LP, and Northern Trust Corp., receiving generous compensation in each case. Apparently, the ex-President sees his time in the office as a valuable asset at this point, even as Hillary Clinton in her recent book expressed regret of taking money from Wall Street financials, citing her concern of feeling owned by special interests. Obama, seemingly, has no issue with this. In August, he delivered a speech to the clients of Northern Trust for roughly $400,000, describing his experiences whilst in the White House to prominent participants of the US financial markets.

Earlier this month, Obama appeared at one of the world’s largest private-equity firms, Carlyle, and sources say, he was discussing his tenure at the White House as well.

There was a time when Obama labelled the Wall Street bankers as ruthless capitalists who are taking advantage of the regular folk, and his electoral campaigns in 2008 and 2012 were built around the promises to help the poor and disadvantaged. In fact, his Wall Street-benefitting policies aside, Obama is now serving special interests for ‘donations’, the very practice of Hillary Clinton’s that he criticized years ago.

Bankers have a very favorable opinion of Obama’s Wall Street speeches, because he can provide them with valuable insight into how to build their corporate governance and government-relations. Does that benefit the American people though?

“He was the president of the entire United States – financial services are under that umbrella,” ex-UBS Group executive Robert Wolf says. “He doesn’t look at Wall Street like, ‘Oh, these are individuals who don’t want the best for the country.’ He doesn’t stereotype.”

Even though Obama’s speeches at Northern Trust and Carlyle happened a while ago, they went largely unnoticed, and unreported by the mainstream media. These two enterprises are known for having very tight connections with a wide spectrum of former governmental officials, and corporate-sector executives, among others.
Northern Trust’s main sphere of interest is managing the assets of wealthy families, and capital allocation for large investment funds and syndicates. Alongside Obama, other people spoke at the event last month, including Michael Bloomberg, and CEOs from Microsoft and IBM.

Northern Trust has a long-lasting story with Obama. Back in 2005, Northern gave Obama a discount on a $1.3 mln home-loan – in fact, a mansion that Obama was building in Chicago at the time. Obama had just been elected to Senate, and Northern gave him a more favorable interest rate on the loan.
Northern haven’t commented on the events, whilst Obama claimed in 2008 that the rate was changed because another lender was offering more favorable loan conditions, and Northern didn’t want to lose such a promising borrower.

Under Obama, the DOJ did not come after a single Wall Street banker for their ill lending practices that led to the 2007 mortgage meltdown and the Great Recession of the last decade. Obama imposed Dodd-Frank regulations on the financial sector, which in fact hampered the legal and constructive lending practices, whilst he fiercely resisted the idea of de-monopolizing the banking sector structure.

Under Obama, the largest financials thrived, whilst smaller lenders and credit unions balanced on the brink of survival, and many small businesses closed in the monopoly environment. In fact, Obama’s financial sector regulations curbed small business lending, whilst large Wall Street financials continued to extract immense profits, mainly from trading.

“I love Barack Obama, and if someone is willing to pay him to give a speech, God bless America,” Tom Nides, Vice Chairman at Morgan Stanley, one of Wall Street’s largest banks.

The Federal Reserve’s ultra-loose monetary conditions – under Obama – pumped trillions into the Wall Street financials, and hardly any of this money reached the non-financial sector. The recovery in the real economy has been weak for almost a decade – under Obama – and wages stagnant, yet – home prices and rents, fueled by the Wall Street expansion, would rise every single year.

Obama’s policies impaired and undermined the well-being of the average American family, with shared responsibility payment, with low-interest debt-accumulation and non-repayable student loans. However, now Obama is reaping the benefit of his friendly attitude towards Wall Street in collecting his $400,000 pay check.

September 19, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment