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UN Calls for Syria Peace Talks in Oct./Nov.

Al-Manar | August 17, 2017

The United Nations hopes for “serious negotiation” between the government and a still-to-be-formed unified Syrian “opposition” in October or November this year, the U.N. Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura said on Thursday.

“Regarding the [Syrian] government, we are counting very much on Russia, on Iran, on anyone who has got major influence, and on the government of Syria to be ready finally to initiate when they are invited to Geneva, a genuine, direct negotiation with whatever [opposition] platform comes out,” he told reporters.

De Mistura also said that a letter from Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu in August had paved the way for Russian military police to be staged along the route of a U.N.-Red Cross convoy which reached Douma in eastern Gouta near Damascus on Thursday, the first time since May.

De Mistura added that the aid convoys are being prepared to be sent to Foaa & Kefraya in addition to other towns.

August 17, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

US-led coalition used banned white phosphorus on civilians in Syria – Damascus to UN

RT | August 6, 2017

The Syrian foreign ministry has, in correspondence to the United Nations, accused the US-led coalition of new atrocities against its civilians. It includes an attack on hospital in Raqqa and the use of “internationally banned white phosphorus munitions” against the Syrian people.

Renewing its calls to “immediately dissolve” the coalition which Damascus considers illegitimate, the ministry wrote two letters; one addressed to the UN Secretary General and the other to the Chairman of the UN Security Council, Syria’s state news agency SANA reported Sunday.

Citing the ministry statement, the report said the military alliance led by Washington had bombed residential neighborhoods and civilian houses, as well as destroying a national hospital in Raqqa, where the coalition is extensively backing the fight against the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorist group.

Damascus also claimed the coalition had violated international humanitarian law by deploying white phosphorus munitions in its attacks which targeted “innocent Syrian people in the provinces of Raqqa, Hasaka, Aleppo, Deir Ezzor and other Syrian cities,” SANA reported.

Such actions represent war crimes and crimes against humanity, the agency cited the ministry as saying in its communication to the UN.

“Syria renews its call to immediately dissolve the coalition which was established outside the framework of the UN and without requesting permission from the Syrian government,” the statement added.

Responding to the allegations, the coalition said it “routinely conducts strikes” on IS terrorists in Raqqa and also uses white phosphorus in its operations, the US Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF–OIR) acknowledged in an emailed statement to RT.

However, its deployment of the weapons is not against international norms, the joint task force claimed.

“In accordance with the law of armed conflict white phosphorus rounds are used for screening, obscuring, and marking in a way that fully considers the possible incidental effects on civilians and civilian structures,” the CJTF–OIR statement read.

It added that allegations of civilian casualties are being assessed and will be published in a monthly civilian casualty report.

On Saturday, a new series of attacks by the US-led coalition resulted in more civilian deaths in Raqqa, SANA reported. At least 43 civilians were reportedly killed and dozens more injured after airstrikes hit residential neighborhoods in the Syrian city, the news agency said. Mostly women, children and the elderly were among the victims, SANA added.

In its latest assessment of civilian casualties from airstrikes in Iraq and Syria released earlier this week, the US-led coalition claimed 624 people were “unintentionally killed” since the start of the campaign against IS in the region in 2014.

However, the UK-based Airwars group which monitors airstrikes and civilian casualties in Iraq, Libya and Syria based on open-source reports and military figures, contradict this claim. It suggests the civilian death toll in the bombing campaign is much higher. Data collated by the group indicates that more than 4,350 civilians have been killed in US-led military operations since June 2014.

August 6, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

US systematically targeting residential areas: Syria to UN

Press TV – July 31, 2017

Damascus has called on the UN to end the Washington’s crimes against Syrian civilians, while stressing that the US is systematically targeting residential areas.

On Sunday, the Syrian foreign ministry sent two letters to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the chairman of the UN Security Council, calling for the dissolving of the US-led coalition in Syria which is operating in the country without permission from Damascus.

“The US-led international coalition continues to commit massacres against Syrian innocent civilians through conducting systematic airstrikes on the provinces of Raqqah, Hasakah, Aleppo and Dayr al-Zawr on a daily basis,” reads the letter.

The letters were sent after at least six civilians lost their lives and nearly a dozen others sustained injuries when the US-led coalition, purportedly fighting the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, conducted a series of airstrikes in Syria’s eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr.

The letters noted that the coalition’s member states continue to support terrorist groups such as Daesh and Jabhat al-Nusra.

The military alliance has repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing civilians. It has also been largely incapable of fulfilling its declared aim of destroying Daesh.

“Those attacks contributed to the spread of creative chaos, the killing and destruction which fulfill goals of the coalition and the terrorist organizations in destabilizing security in the region, destroying Syria’s capabilities and prolonging the crisis in a way that serves the interests of the Israeli entity,” it adds.

Syria has been has been fighting different foreign-sponsored militant and terrorist groups since March 2011. UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura estimated last August that more than 400,000 people had been killed in the crisis until then.

July 30, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

UN panel blasts Israel over abuses and settlement expansion in Occupied Palestinian Territories

RT | July 18, 2017

Israel continues the illegal practice of settlement expansion in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, a United Nations expert panel has said in its annual evaluation. It further accuses Tel Aviv of excessive use of force and collective punishment against Palestinians.

After gathering testimonies from civil society organizations, UN representatives and Palestinian officials, the UN Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories noted a number of violations against the Palestinians over the last year, including the detention of minors by the Israel Defense Force (IDF).

“The Committee heard troubling testimony regarding the arrest and detention of children, including cases of reported ill-treatment and lack of adequate protection,” the Committee said after its fact-finding visit to Amman, Jordan.

The Committee also heard testimonies of “excessive use of force” by Israeli forces and the “lack of accountability” by Tel Aviv which “further exacerbated the cycle of violence.”

The UN experts recorded testimonies of continued administrative detention and “difficult conditions” of Palestinians in Israeli prisons.

While the full report of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians will only be published in November, the experts highlighted the continued expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories which are illegal under international law.

“Organizations told the Committee that Israeli settlement expansion had continued in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as well as the Syrian Golan, with a notably high level of new construction announced this year, in violation of international humanitarian law,” the fact finding team said.

The UN group said that settlements, as well as the separation wall, dubbed “the apartheid wall” by critics, are having a “negative impact” on the human rights of Palestinians by restricting their freedom of movement.

The experts also voiced concern over the demolition of homes in the occupied territories, especially Bedouin communities in so-called Area C.

“The use of punitive demolitions in the West Bank including East Jerusalem was described as a form of collective punishment,” by the organizations interviewed, the Committee said.

“The Committee clearly observed that the Israeli authorities continue with policies and practices that negatively impact the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

Pointedly, Tel Aviv does not recognize the authority of the UN Committee, which has been releasing annual reports into Israeli practices since 1968. Relations between Tel Aviv and the world body have drastically deteriorated recently.

Following the passage of the UN Security Council anti-settlement resolution in December last year, Israel cut funding to various UN agencies. Roughly $10 million has been withheld since then as the UN continues to pass resolutions which are perceived as anti-Israeli by Tel Aviv.

Israel accuses various bodies working under the auspices of the UN of having an anti-Israeli bias and failing to acknowledge the Jewish state’s security concerns.

July 17, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , | 3 Comments

Israel imprisons UN official, again – UN’s Guterres says nothing

Israel imprisons UN official, again – UN’s Guterres says nothing

If Americans Knew | July 17, 2017

Israel arrested Hamdan Temraz, 61, deputy director of the United Nations Department of Safety and Security in Gaza, while he was on his way to a work meeting. Four days later the UN still had not issued a statement about this.

The UN has recently come under increased pressure from the United States and Israel.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley announced to an adoring AIPAC audience in March that she had pressured the UN to remove an official report showing that Israel was guilty of ‘apartheid.’

All 100 US Senators signed a letter in April noting that the US is the largest single donor to the UN and demanding that the UN end its allegedly unfair treatment of Israel.

On July 14th UN Secretary-General António Guterres issued a statement condemning the killing of two Israeli policeman by three assailants (who were then killed by Israeli forces), announcing: “This incident has the potential to ignite further violence. All must act responsibly to avoid escalation.”

Yet, Secretary-General Guterres issued no such statement two days earlier when Israeli forces invading the Palestinian city of Jenin killed two young Palestinians.

Now the UN Secretary-General is saying nothing about Israel’s imprisonment of a UN official from Gaza as he tried to travel to a meeting.

Richard Silverstein reports in Tikun Olam:

This is getting old.  Israel has once again arrested a United Nations official based in Gaza as he attempted to cross into Israel to attend a work meeting there.  An Israeli security source has confirmed to me the linked story above and the Shin Bet arrest.  The news is under gag order in Israel and no media there may report the story.  This conveniently insulates the Israeli public from the news that their supposedly democratic nation has arrested human rights personnel from the most reputable NGO in the world.  It also allows the Shin Bet time to build yet another fraudulent case against yet another Palestinian official doing international humanitarian relief work in Gaza.

Since Israelis can’t know this information, I’m going to tell them here.  The arrested man is Hamdan Temraz, 61, who is the deputy director of the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) in Gaza.  He was arrested at the Erez crossing on July 12th despite having a valid entry permit.

The Palestinian human rights group, al Mezan released this statement to the Palestine Information Center, protesting the latest Israeli outrage:

The Center explained that such Israeli practices are aimed at blocking the work of the international organizations in the Gaza Strip, pointing out that 8 employees working in these organizations have been arrested since the beginning of 2014.

It affirmed that hundreds of employees are denied the permits required to enter or exit Gaza to be able to follow up their organizations’ work, not to mention the Israeli incitement campaigns they are exposed to.

I find it odd that a UN employee has been in an Israeli prison for four days and there has been no statement from the international body.  Is this how they come to the defense of their staff when it’s under threat in a police state?  I left a phone message with the UN press office seeking a statement, but have not heard from them so far.

It’s no coincidence that last month, Netanyahu called for the UN to dismantle UNWRA, the major relief organizations in  Gaza.  He appealed directly to U.S. ambassador, David Friedman aka “The Settler’s Friend.”  This rehashes a common Israeli narrative in which evil Hamas co-opts everyone and everything to do its dirty terrorist work in the enclave.  The U.S. is far the largest donor supporting UNWRA, providing $350-million annually to support the millions of Gazans who are unemployed and undernourished due to the decade-long Israeli siege.  Israel hopes that the new Trump regime will realize its ambitions to restrain or suppress the aid work in Gaza, which serves to remind the world of Israel’s ongoing assault against its innocent civilian population.

Last summer, Israel arrested two Palestinians in Gaza.  Waheed Borsh worked for the UN Development Program and Mohammed el-Halabi for the Christian relief group, World Vision.  Both were accused of exploiting their NGO status to undertake covert activities on behalf of Hamas.  In the latter case, el-Halabi was accused of funneling international relief funds to the Islamist group.  In every instance, the NGOs undertook full, comprehensive investigations and uncovered no evidence to support the Israeli charges.  But since Israel functions as a police state as far as Palestinians are concerned, guilt and conviction were assured.  Therefore, in order not to spend decades behind bars, each copped a plea that offered a lesser sentence.

This charade permits Israel to bolster its fake claim that the international relief organizations aren’t that at all–but rather thinly concealed support groups for militant international terrorists.  This, in turn, satisfies the Israeli government’s core far-right constituency, which can tell itself how much the world hates us and how justified it is in utilizing maximum force in “defending” itself from enemies lurking virtually everywhere.

So here’s how it will go with Temraz.  He will be accused of taking advantage of his position directing security for the UN agency by permitting Hamas to do something that somehow jeopardizes Israeli security.  Perhaps he allowed the militants to build tunnels under UN facilities.  Perhaps he offered materials to Hamas to build tunnels.  Or even better: he provided the fake IDs the Haram al Sharif attackers used to gain entrance to the Muslim holy site.  Who knows what they can devise?  The thing is, these Shabak agents aren’t very imaginative.  Nor do they need to be.  No one reviews the cases they bring for credibility.  No judge cares to do so.  He or she would rapidly find themselves on the road to career oblivion if they did.  So any half-assed concoction can send a man away for a decade or more simply because some agent has to make his quota and throw the fear of god into both Palestinians and the relief agencies servicing Gaza.  What a seamy mess of a national security regime this is.

July 17, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | 1 Comment

U.N. says Gaza is ‘de-developing’ even faster than expected, but omits main cause

By Kathryn Shihadah | If Americans Knew | July 16, 2017

The United Nations has often provided valuable reports on the situation in the Palestinian Occupied Territories (although in at least one case the UN removed such a report following pressure from Israel and the United States – see this, this, and this).

The UN’s latest report on the region, “Gaza Ten Years Later,” contains much valuable, factual information. However, parts of the report exhibit a troubling lack of proportionality. This flaw is then maintained in quoted comments on the UN report by National Public Radio journalist Daniel Estrin.

Below is the NPR news story on the UN report, with comments in Italics that discuss some of its statements:  

U.N. Says Gaza Is ‘De-Developing’ Even Faster Than Expected,  by Merrit Kennedy, NPR

Five years ago, the U.N. warned that Gaza is expected to be unlivable by 2020. A new report now says conditions are deteriorating there even faster than it forecast.

“What needed to happen has not happened, and the indicators are accelerating instead of slowing down,” Robert Piper, the U.N. Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, told NPR’s Daniel Estrin.

“In a nutshell, Gaza continues to de-develop in front of our eyes,” Piper adds. “From health care, to unemployment, to energy, to access to water, across all of these fields, Gaza’s 2 million people are seeing faster and faster decline in their living conditions.”

The population of Gaza, a 130-square-mile strip of land on the Mediterranean, is growing faster than projected, while infrastructure and services haven’t been able to keep up. The population is now forecast to reach 2.2 million people in 2020, up from the 2012 projection of 2.13 million.

The UN report, and the NPR discussion, correctly highlight the rapid pace at which Gaza is moving toward humanitarian disaster. However, as the discourse continues, a moral equivalence fallacy begins to emerge. Daniel lists three sources of Gaza’s trouble:

“Many of the problems stem from the Hamas takeover of Gaza 10 years ago, Israel and Egypt’s blockade of Gaza and the Palestinian Authority’s recent reduction of electricity to Gaza to pressure its rival Hamas,” Daniel reports.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Undoubtedly, Hamas’ feud with the PA is part of the problem; so are the electricity shortage and the closed crossing to Egypt. But placing these factors on par with Israel’s now ten-year-long blockade ignores the facts—some of which are spelled out in the UN report:

Israel retains full control of all movement of people and goods to and from Gaza by sea, air and land, with the exception of a 12 km strip of border with Egypt…Following the expulsion of the PA by Hamas in the summer of 2007, the Israeli Government declared Gaza “hostile territory” and, again citing security concerns, announced a number of new sanctions and restrictions on the access and movement of people and goods, ultimately amounting to a blockade by sea, air and land. Many of the restrictions imposed then, are still in place. (Italics added)

It is worth taking a moment to discuss the question of Hamas, which continues to be a scapegoat for Gaza’s ongoing crisis. Hamas’ complicated rivalry with, and appropriation of power from, Fatah and the PA–and its reputation as a terrorist organization–need to be challenged.

Hamas won a democratic election in Gaza and the West Bank (in spite of the US spending $2.3 million to support Fatah and Israeli obstruction), and was promptly discredited by the US and the EU. Israel commenced sanctions only 3 days after the election. These reactions were nothing short of collective punishment by world superpowers, simply because the “wrong” party won. The charge that Hamas is nothing but a terrorist group, and Palestinians elected Hamas leaders to destroy Israel, shows a profound misunderstanding of Hamas and its rise to power.

Neve Gordon explained in this excellent 2006 article that “the organization’s popularity in the Occupied Territories actually stems from its being seen as the voice of Palestinian dignity and the symbol of the defense of Palestinian rights at a time of unprecedented hardship, humiliation, and despair…In other words, Hamas was elected not only because it is considered an alternative to the corrupt Palestinian Authority, but also because Israel created the conditions that made it an indispensable social movement.”

Back to the de-development of Gaza. In his discussion of the Gaza crisis, Daniel also neglects to mention the three assaults by Israel in 2008, 2012, and 2014. The UN report does mention them, but the description is problematic:

In addition to the impact of the violent Hamas takeover and ensuing Israeli measures imposed in 2007, three rounds of armed hostilities between Israel and Hamas – with the most devastating round in 2014 – have dealt repeated blows to the Gazan economy and damaged essential infrastructure.

These words may be technically accurate: yes, Hamas took over Gaza amid violence; yes, Israel imposed “measures” in 2007; yes, there have been three rounds of “armed hostilities”—but the statement is egregiously inequitable. It is absurd to suggest that the Hamas takeover was equally as damaging to Gaza as the three deadly assaults by Israel were. And the portrayal of the hostilities as though between two equal, evenly-matched armies when Israel has the latest weaponry and Gaza is essentially unarmed, is patently false. Here is a more precise description of the lopsided outcome of the hostilities, found further along in the UN report:

The first major round of hostilities broke out on 27 December 2008 and lasted for more than three weeks. During this time, nearly 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis18 were killed and some 60,000 homes were damaged or destroyed…The second major escalation of hostilities began on 14 November 2012 and lasted for one week, in which 174 Palestinians, including 107 civilians, and six Israelis, of which three were civilians, were killed, and some 10,000 homes damaged. The latest, and most devastating round of hostilities, took place between 8 July and 26 August 2014. During these 51 days, 2,251 Palestinians, including at least 146 civilians, and 71 Israelis, of whom five were civilians, were killed, and 171,000 homes were damaged.

The death toll after three “rounds of hostilities” was 3,825 Palestinians and 90 Israelis. The total number of homes damaged was 241,000—all Palestinian. In addition, schools, hospitals, and power plants were decimated. This is not a description of the aftermath of “war,” but of blitzkrieg.

The NPR story goes on to mention in passing Israel’s regulation of the border—without acknowledging the seriousness of the closure and how it affects any attempts at reconstruction. He even equates Israel’s meddling with Egyptian actions, although Egypt shares only a 7-mile border vs. Israel’s which is 32 miles long and a much greater object of hostility. Here is the statement:

Israel maintains tight control over the movement of people and goods from all sides of Gaza, aside from the 7-mile-long border Gaza shares with Egypt, which is rarely open.

The UN report describes more fully the impact the closure is having on efforts to rebuild over the last three years. This is not just “tight control”—it is crippling restriction on building materials and other critical supplies:

[Restrictions] imposed on the Strip continue to significantly impact the daily lives of Gaza’s inhabitants and the efforts of the international community to implement humanitarian and development projects. Israel considers many materials needed for these projects to be ‘dual-use’ and posing security concerns, thus subjecting them to severe import restrictions. These include construction materials, raw material for the productive sectors, including wood and pesticides, medical equipment and water pumps necessary to deal with seasonal flooding.

It is worth noting that Israeli limitation of imports included (in 2010, and is mostly still in place) wood for construction, cement, iron, tarps (for roofs on huts), fishing rods, farm animals, many spare parts for farming equipment, notebooks, pens, pencils, and toys.

The NPR report then moves on to the topic of water:

By the end of 2017, the U.N. projects Gaza’s only water aquifer will be depleted. The damage could be irreversible by 2020 due to salt water entering the aquifer. That would be “catastrophic,” the report says, and the “living and health conditions of the people of Gaza can only further deteriorate, exposing the population to water-borne illnesses, and other threats.”

The U.N. had previously said that the aquifer would be depleted by 2016, earlier than the current projection. Piper says this small piece of positive news is more akin to “re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic than really having much to celebrate.”

This is objectively true—although the image of “deck chairs on the Titanic” makes the Gaza situation sound more like a movie trailer than a humanitarian crisis. Let’s add some detail from the UN report to shed light on the reality:

Access to safe drinking water in Gaza through the public water network plummeted [after 2000]…As a result, reliance on water tanks, containers and bottled water rose from 1.4% to 89.6%…Having to rely on water trucking comes at a high cost on consumers, as trucked water is 15-20 times more expensive than water from the network. This particularly impacts the most vulnerable who are often poor and unemployed and do not have access to piped network water. Trucked water is also unregulated and unreliable in terms of quality.

This gives us a clearer picture of not only the expense but also the continued risk posed as the public water network becomes unusable. People of Gaza pay a premium for water that may or may not be safe.

Israel has an obligation to the people of Gaza which should be part of any conversation about the crisis. A number of prominent human rights organizations have determined that whether Gaza is considered occupied, in armed conflict with Israel, or under Israel’s control, international law demands that Israel solve the water crisis. 

NPR then moves on to waste water, describing the nightmare scenario that is happening today:

At the same time, the amount of poorly treated sewage dumped into the sea is increasing, now equivalent to 43 Olympic size pools daily. That is expected to increase by almost 10 percent by 2020, which could have “significant environmental consequences,” the report warns.

The U.N. says new water treatment facilities need to be constructed to address the water crisis. However, Israel is limiting imports on many of the materials needed for construction because it says they could be used for military purposes.

Electricity is another critical need in Gaza. The NPR report continues:

And any future new [sewage treatment] plants would require a steady electrical supply, which at the moment is highly uncertain.

In fact, “an 11-year-old child has not experienced more than 12 hours of electricity in a single day in his/her lifetime,” according to the report. It says that in the most pessimistic 2020 estimate, only 25 percent of Gaza’s electricity demand would be met.

The economy of Gaza, its employment figures, and health care provisions are also notable. NPR reports:

The economy in Gaza has significantly declined in the last decade, with per capita GDP decreasing by 5.3 percent between 2006 and 2016. The report describes Gaza’s economic trajectory as “de-development,” even as the occupied West Bank has seen 48.5 percent growth in per capita GDP between 2006 and 2016.

Gaza’s unemployment rate is at more than 40 percent, according to the latest figures. It’s particularly severe for 20-24 year olds, at 60.3 percent, and for women, at 64.4 percent.

The number of doctors, nurses and hospital beds has also not been able to keep pace with the growing population. The report says, “while the population has doubled since 2000, the number of functioning primary health care clinics has decreased from 56 to 49.”

Given these “unacceptable” conditions, Piper acknowledges that for some, Gaza would already be deemed unlivable. “For many of us, we’d say that threshold is well and truly passed,” he said. “How do you manage in these sorts of conditions?”

In the report, Piper states: “It is profoundly unjust and inhuman to put Gaza’s civilians through such an ordeal.” He calls them “the victims of various policies by many different actors.”

When there is a victim, there is also a perpetrator. Gaza’s often goes almost unnamed. We must not forget who it is or rest until the humanitarian crisis is averted. 

But at least NPR reported on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, unlike most other mainstream news organizations, including the New York Times, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC and Fox News.


 

RELATED:

On 50th Anniversary of Israeli Occupation, Palestinian Opinions Largely Ignored

The Illusion of Balance: NPR’s coverage of Mideast deaths doesn’t match reality

July 16, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | Leave a comment

97% Of Climate “Experts” Promised You The Arctic Would Be Ice-Free By 2014

Climatism | July 16, 2017

NASA ice free

The Argus-Press – Google News Archive Search

Gore Ice free 2014.png

Gore: Polar ice cap may disappear by summer 2014

BBC Ice free

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Arctic summers ice-free ‘by 2013’

Guardian Ice free

Ice-free Arctic in two years heralds methane catastrophe – scientist | Environment | The Guardian

Sierra CLub 2013

ICE WILL VANISH IN 2013 – Why Arctic sea ice will vanish in 2013 | Sierra Club Canada

•••

CLIMATE experts have been saying this same story for generations:

North Pole.png

04 Apr 1923 – THE NORTH POLE. – Trove

The Guardian says the Arctic will be ice-free this summer…

Guardian Ice free 2016.jpg

‘Next year or the year after, the Arctic will be free of ice’ | Environment | The Guardian

BACK IN THE REAL WORLD

ARTIC sea-ice is tracking previous years of stable extent:

current Arctic

Centre for Ocean and Ice | Danmarks Meteorologiske Institut

•••

UN / WEC CLIMATE CHANGE SCARE-MONGERING

NOW, climate scientists and their “97%” triad of sycophant orgs are promising you that your Arctic will be ice-free by “2040” – plenty more wriggle-room for their catastrophic predictions to play out…

Screen Shot 2017-07-16 at , July 16, 12.52.16 AM.png

The Arctic could be ice free by 2040 | World Economic Forum

“Expected”, “could”…

That’s the great thing about the future.

July 15, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 3 Comments

Over 120 UN Member States Adopt Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons

Sputnik – 07.07.2017

UNITED NATIONS — More than 120 UN member states on Thursday adopted a treaty to categorically prohibit nuclear weapons although the world’s nuclear powers boycotted the entire process.

“Each State Party undertakes never under any circumstances to… Develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices,” the treaty, approved by a 122-member majority, stated.

All nine nuclear powers did not participate in the conference, including five permanent members of the UN Security Council: Russia, the United States, China, France, and the United Kingdom. Four others known or suspected to possess nuclear weapons — Pakistan, India, Israel, and North Korea — also refused to partake.

Other notable countries that declined to engage in the process include Japan, which was on the receiving end of two US atomic bombs, and South Korea, which borders a recently very active nuclear state.

Netherlands, the only NATO member state to participate in the proceedings, voted against the treaty while Singapore abstained.

According to the convention, it will be open for signature by states at the United Nations in New York on September 20, 2017 and will come into force 90 days after it is ratified by 50 countries.

In March, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said the United States abandoning nuclear weapons at this time would put the world at risk because of North Korea’s nuclear activities.

In October 2016, the UN General Assembly voted to negotiate and conclude a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons. The first negotiation session took place at the United Nations in New York City in March and lasted a week. The second session opened on June 15 and is due to close today, July 7.

July 7, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

We just banned nuclear weapons!

By John Loretz | International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War | July 7, 2017

Nuclear weapons have been banned.

Stigmatized and prohibited. That means we’re two-thirds of the way to fulfilling the Humanitarian Pledge, which feels like it was launched only yesterday.

It took three international conferences, two open-ended working groups, medical and scientific evidence accumulated over some 50 or more years, decades of selfless appeals by the Hibakusha and by the victims of nuclear testing, a core group of states with the courage to take effective leadership, a decisive UN resolution, four weeks of honest, good faith negotiating by people who really and truly want to rid the world of nuclear weapons, and seven years of intensive campaigning by ICAN…

… and nuclear weapons have been banned.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was adopted today in Conference Room 1 at the United Nations by an overwhelming 122-1 vote, makes a compelling case for the stigmatization and elimination of nuclear weapons. In fact, the language it uses to make that case is indistinguishable from the language of doctors, scientists, international lawyers, and others with expert knowledge of what nuclear weapons are and the devastating harm they cause:

“[T]he catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons cannot be adequately addressed, transcend national borders, pose grave implications for human survival, the environment, socioeconomic development, the global economy, food security and the health of current and future generations, and have a disproportionate impact on women and girls, including as a result of ionizing radiation.”

“[A]ny use of nuclear weapons would… be abhorrent to the principles of humanity and the dictates of public conscience.”

“[A] legally binding prohibition of nuclear weapons constitutes an important contribution towards the achievement and maintenance of a world free of nuclear weapons, including the irreversible, verifiable and transparent elimination of nuclear weapons.”

The sections of the treaty that spell out the prohibitions and the obligations of the states that are party to it close the legal gap that has been exploited by the nuclear-armed and nuclear-dependent states not only to forestall their disarmament obligations, but also to keep nuclear weapons at the center of their military and security policies for decades to come. The development, testing, production, manufacture, acquisition, possession, stockpiling, use, and threat of use of nuclear weapons have been declared illegal under this treaty. Period.

The nuclear-armed and nuclear-dependent states have been provided with practical and flexible ways to comply with those prohibitions once they decide to join. If they persist in defying the norms established by the treaty, they will be outlaw states.

The treaty refutes the claim made by a handful of states that they need nuclear weapons to ensure their own security, and that humanitarian consequences must somehow be balanced with those needs. Not only does the treaty insist that the dangers posed by nuclear weapons “concern the security of all humanity,” but it also calls the long-overdue elimination of nuclear weapons “a global public good of the highest order, serving both national and collective security interests.”

The treaty is about more than prohibitions. It spells out the obligations and responsibilities of its parties to work for universalization, to redress and remediate the harm done by nuclear weapons to victims and the environment, and to support and defend the norm of collective security in a nuclear-weapons-free world.

Abacca Anjain-Maddison of the Marshall Islands—a place that has experienced the consequences of nuclear weapons first-hand—spoke on behalf of ICAN at the conclusion of this historic conference:

“The adoption of this landmark agreement today fills us with hope that the mistakes of the past will never be repeated. It fills us with hope that we will pass on to our children and grandchildren a world forever free of these awful bombs.”

Setsuko Thurlow said at the beginning of these negotiations that the ban treaty would “change the world.” With the successful conclusion of the negotiations, we now have a powerful new legal, moral, and political tool to do just that. We will have to maintain the partnership of states, international organizations, and civil society that has brought us this far in order to use the tool we’ve created for its intended purpose.

Nuclear weapons have been banned. All that’s left now is to eliminate them once and for all.

July 7, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

US Ballistic Missile Defense to Enter New Domains

By Peter KORZUN | Strategic Culture Foundation | 03.07.2017

Much has been said about the US ground-based missile defense program and the sites in place or to be installed soon in Europe and Asia. But land is not the only domain where the effort is taking place. Now the priority is shifting to air- and space-based systems. The US officials and military leaders believe that space is now a war fighting domain on par with air, land and sea. This is one of the rare issues the administration and Congress see eye to eye on.

On June 30, President Trump signed an executive order to reinstate the National Space Council – an executive agency with Vice President Mike Pence at the helm that will be tasked with guiding US space policy during the administration. The Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense, as well as NASA’s administrator, will serve on the council as well.

During the election campaign, President Trump said he wanted a ballistic missile defense (BMD) system with «a heavy emphasis on space-based early warning and missile tracking technologies». Defence Secretary James Mattis is known as an ardent advocate of bigger investments into space exploration for defense purposes. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson released a statement announcing the service’s pivot to space. In recent months, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein has said he wants the USAF to be «the lead service for space».

Part of the new preparations for space combat is the creation of a new position called the Deputy Chief of Staff for Space Operations. According to US Air Force (USAF) Secretary Heather Wilson, the new position will be a three-star officer to provide advice and counsel to Wilson and USAF chief of staff General David Goldfein in all space matters. The USAF will stand up its new deputy chief of staff for space operations position (A11) on August 1.

In February, Lt. Gen. James Dickinson, the Army Space and Missile Defense Commander, and Brig. Gen. Ronald Buckley, U.S. Northern Command’s deputy director of operations, talked about the importance of space for missile defense in speeches at the Association of the US Army’s missile defense conference in Arlington, Va. Dickinson said space is «fundamental for every single military operation that occurs on the planet today from satellites to GPS», and said the domain is a crucial part of connecting the battlefield and the backbone of the missile defense kill chain. «As long as we continue to solely focus and rely on terrestrial-based for our [ballistic missile defense] sensors, there will be gaps and seams in our coverage», Buckley said to substantiate his conclusion that «it’s time we take a hard look at space as an option».

The land-based detection systems have an inherent drawback – they look upward hindered by the curvature of the Earth, which blocks even the most powerful radar’s full field of view. Air- and space-based systems would have much better coverage than ground-based assets.

According to Defense News, House lawmakers want the Pentagon to quickly produce a space-based missile defense strategy laying out the plans «to develop a space-based sensor layer for ballistic missile defense that provides precision tracking data of missiles beginning in the boost phase and continuing throughout subsequent flight regimes; serves other intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance requirements; and achieves an operational prototype payload at the earliest practicable opportunity».

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is requesting $7.9 billion in FY18, an increase of $379 million from the FY17 request. The MDA will continue work on an unmanned aerial vehicle-borne laser for boost phase missile defense. The request also includes $17 million for a space-based Kill Assessment experiment. «The full SKA network is currently planned to be on orbit in FY17», the documents state. The biggest chunk of the new money – $1.3 billion, an increase of $862 million from 2016 – would go to the Air Force’s Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS), a constellation of satellites meant for early missile warning and detection. The plans include the launch of SBIRS GEO-4 (November) and the development of GEO-5 and 6. The Air Force wants to build eight geosynchronous satellites in total, in addition to the three already deployed in high orbit. Some of the Air Force’s larger programs include the Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) system, a series of high-bandwidth satellites meant to act as the next generation of military communication satellites.

The ground-based BMD systems, the X-37B spacecraft and Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP) platforms could be repurposed into instruments of war in space.

Remotely operated drone swarms – groups of small robots could act together under human – have great future when used for missile defense purposes. This involves groups of small, tube-launched UAVs designed to swarm and overwhelm adversaries. The swarming drone technology was tested by the Pentagon in October 2016. They included 103 Perdix micro-drones measuring around six inches (16 centimeters) launched from three F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets. The air-delivered maneuvering buzzing swarm of skybots could strike launching site as well as counter ballistic missiles in flight. Space- or air-based swarms are a formidable missile defense weapon no missile or warhead can make through. Dummies and chaff will not help. The swarm technology going to space will change a lot of things, including the hopes for keeping an arms race away from this domain.

Airborne lasers are another promising direction of BMD development. The Defense Department seeks to use airborne lasers mounted on lightweight high-altitude drones to hit enemy ballistic missiles in flight, as well as ground- and sea–based launchers. «We have significantly ramped up our program in terms of investment and talking about […] what else needs to be done to mature this capability», MDA director Vice Admiral James Syring told Defense One.

The Missile Defense Agency plans to conduct «a lot of» testing with lasers mounted on Reaper drones «over the next few years» culminating with a «low-power laser demonstrator» project in 2021, Syring said. Pentagon officials hope to decide what that demonstrator might look like «in a few years». The goal of that project is to fly a powerful laser at a high altitude that can track possibly kill a missile soon after it is launched, during its boost phase.

Referring to anti-satellite and anti-missile weapons in space, Congressman Doug Lamborn of Armed Services said: «Some of the technical issues around those concepts need to be researched, but there’s a lot of exciting options».

The 50th anniversary of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty – an arms control deal reached in the heat of the Cold War – will be marked this October. The agreement bans stationing weapons of mass destruction in space but it does not prohibit the placement of conventional weapons there. No international agreement on non-nuclear arms in space exists today because the idea is objected by some countries, including the United States. The draft Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force against Outer Space Objects (PPWT), by Russia and backed by China in 2008 was rejected by Washington. The Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS) – a UN resolution that reaffirms the fundamental principles of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty and advocates for a ban on the weaponization of space – has not come into force due to US objections. In 2008, Russia and China proposed a draft treaty to ban space weapons, which the US blocked from going forward in the consensus-bound committee on disarmament in Geneva. The US has never come up with an initiative of its own related to control of space-based weapons. Air-based systems are also not restricted by any international agreement.

The proliferation of air- and space-based weapons is changing the battlefield of the 21st century. The cost of staging missile defense assets in these domains may be mind boggling. A conflict sparked in space would inevitably ignite full-blown war on Earth. Adding air- and space assets to the BMD effort will have ramifications the US has given little thought to, at least publicly. After land and sea, the missile defense is to enter new domains: air and space.

July 3, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

UN raises alarm over rise in contacts between Israel troops, Syria militants

Press TV – June 21, 2017

United Nations UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has expressed concerns about a spike in contacts between Israeli armed forces and Syria militants in recent months.

In a report released recently, Guterres warned that the growing interactions between the two sides could lead to escalation and cause harm to members of the UN Disengagement Observer Force deployed to the Golan Heights.

According to the report, UN observers listed 16 meetings between the Israel forces and the Syria militants in the border area, including on Mount Hermon, in proximity to UN outposts in Syria’s Quneitra Province and the Golan Heights, from March 2 to May 16.

“Relative to the previous reporting period, there has been a significant increase in interaction” between Israeli soldiers and individuals from the Syrian side of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, “occurring on four occasions in February, three in March, eight in April and on one occasion in May,” the report said.

In its previous report released in March, the UN listed at least 17 interactions between the two sides between November 18, 2016, and March 1, 2017.

The figures show a significant increase when compared with only two such meetings recorded between August 30 and November 16, 2016.

The report said people likely affiliated with the militant groups, some of them armed, arrived at an Israeli outpost accompanied by mules and were greeted by the soldiers.

“In some instances, personnel and supplies were observed to have been transferred in both directions. On all occasions, the unknown individuals and mules returned to the Bravo (Syrian) side,” it added.

The UN chief said such interactions have “the potential to lead to clashes between armed elements and the Syrian Arab Armed Forces.”

“All military activities in the area of separation conducted by any actor pose a risk to the ceasefire and to the local civilian population, in addition to the United Nations personnel on the ground,” he wrote.

Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Israel has been providing Takfiri terrorists in Syria’s Golan Heights with a steady flow of funds and medical supplies.

Citing militant commanders and people familiar with Israel’s thinking, the paper said Israel’s “secret engagement” in the war aims to install a buffer zone on the Syrian border with elements friendly to Tel Aviv.

The Tel Aviv regime regularly attacks positions held by pro-Damascus forces in Syria, claiming that the attacks are retaliatory.

The Syrian army has on several occasions confiscated Israeli-made arms and military equipment from terrorists fighting the government forces. There are also reports that Israel has been providing medical treatment to the extremists wounded in Syria.

In April, Israel’s former minister of military affairs Moshe Ya’alon admitted to a tacit alliance with Daesh, saying the terrorist group had “immediately apologized” to Tel Aviv after firing “once” into Israel.

Read more:

Israel secretly aiding Syria militants: US paper

June 21, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

US police arrest anti-nuclear weapons activists at UN

Press TV – June 20, 2017

A number of anti-nuclear weapons activists have been arrested in New York during a protest against Washington’s decision to boycott negotiations on a nuclear weapons ban treaty.

The arrests were made after the activists chanting slogans such as “US join the talks, ban the bomb,” blocked the entrances to the US mission to the United Nations.

The protesters sat in front of the doors before the police moved in. police said they warned the demonstrators that they would be arrested if they did not leave the place.

In March, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced that the United States, Britain and France had decided not to join talks on a nuclear weapons ban treaty.

The United Nations is currently holding a second round of negotiations about the issue.

The world body adopted a resolution in December to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading toward their total elimination and encouraged all member states to participate.

A total of 113 nations voted in favor of the resolution but 35 countries, including the United States, Britain and France, voted against it. Thirteen countries abstained.

According to the US military’s recent declaration, the United States has 806 deployed ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missile), SLBMs (submarine-launched ballistic missile), and heavy bombers as well as 1,722 deployed nuclear warheads.

The Pentagon is also equipped with a multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV), a highly advanced version of the intercontinental nuclear missile carrying several independent warheads.

June 20, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | 1 Comment