Archive | March 15th, 2015

AUSTRALIAN: jihadi who blew himself up


“Jihadi Jake Bilardi’s Islamic State (ISIS) ‘suicide attack achieved nothing,” says Iraq military spokesman.


Herald Sun  Supporters of the Islamic State claim Bilardi attacked the gates of the Iraqi military brigade in Ramadi, tweeting a picture of the long-haired teen in a van just before the attack.

Iraqi military spokesman said Bilardi’s alleged suicide attack had little impact on his targets. General Tahssin Ibrahim told the ABC that there were no fatalities in the attack on Iraq’s 8th Army Brigade in Ramadi, central Iraq. He said several soldiers were injured and some cars were damaged in the blast.


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US to keep more troops in Afghanistan than planned

While no final decision on numbers has been made, the officials said the administration is poised to slow withdrawal plans and probably will allow many of the 9,800 American troops to remain well into next year. — AFP/file
While no final decision on numbers has been made, the officials said the administration is poised to slow withdrawal plans and probably will allow many of the 9,800 American troops to remain well into next year. — AFP/file

WASHINGTON: The Obama administration is abandoning plans to cut the number of US forces in Afghanistan to 5,500 by year’s end, bowing to military leaders who want to keep more troops, including many into the 2016 fighting season, US officials say.

While no final decision on numbers has been made, the officials said the administration is poised to slow withdrawal plans and probably will allow many of the 9,800 American troops to remain well into next year.

There also are discussions about keeping a steady number of counterterrorism troops into 2015, including options under which some would remain in the country or be nearby beyond 2016.

Read: Pakistan, Afghanistan welcome US decision

Currently, about 2,000 US troops are conducting counterterrorism missions, and military leaders have argued that they will need to continue pursuing the remnants of al Qaeda and to monitor Islamic State militants looking to recruit in Afghanistan.

Officials say President Barack Obama probably will use a Washington visit by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani this month as the time to announce his decision on a new withdrawal timeline.

Also read: US not to abandon Afghanistan, says White House

US officials familiar with the debate said it’s not clear yet whether the White House will agree to a small, symbolic decrease by the end of this year or insist on a larger cut.

They note that there is some stiff opposition to any change, largely from national security adviser Susan Rice.

In recent weeks, Pentagon leaders, including Defense Secretary Ash Carter, have acknowledged the discussions about slowing the pace of troop withdrawal.

But they increasingly are confident that the military will get its way and keep a robust force in Afghanistan beyond year’s end.

The administration, however, has shown no inclination so far for going beyond 2016; that’s a hard line drawn by the president when he announced the withdrawal plan.

The 2016 deadline is considered a politically crucial national security goal for Obama, who promised to get all troops out by the end of his presidency, ending America’s longest war.

Obama, who also pledged to end the war in Iraq, has had to send troops back there to help Iraqi forces fight Islamic State militants.

So his promise to withdraw troops from Afghanistan has taken on more political importance. Military leaders want to keep what they consider a “modest” number of troops in Afghanistan longer in order to protect America’s investment and provide as much training and advice as possible to Afghan forces.

Maintaining a more stable number of troops, military leaders have argued, would allow better support of the Afghans during this summer’s fighting season and better prepare them for 2016 battles.

Members of Congress, including Republican Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, also have expressed concerns about a sharp drawdown this year.

During a hearing last month, McCain said a lack of presence in Afghanistan would create a vacuum and “allow terrorists to foment the same disaster in Afghanistan as we have seen in Iraq, growing instability, terrorist safe havens and direct threats to the United States. “

The original plan Obama announced last year would reduce the number of US troops to 5,500 by the end of 2015, and take all but a routine, embassy-based security force out by the end of 2016.

The embassy security mission varies widely around the world, but could total 1,000 troops.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly before final decisions have been made.

When Carter was in Kabul for meetings with his military leaders in February, he told reporters that the new thinking on troop levels was fueled by the improving relations between the US and Afghan governments.

The unity government of Ghani and the chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah, offers new promise for a more effective partnership with Washington in stabilizing the country, Carter said during the visit.

US officials grew impatient with former president, Hamid Karzai, who sometimes publicly criticized the US military and took a dimmer view of partnering with it.

Carter said the new, more hopeful outlook is an important reason for the administration’s decision to consider slowing the troop withdrawal.

Ghani and other Afghan leaders have made it clear that they would like as many U.S. troops to remain for as long as possible.

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Afghanistan gave CIA money to Al Qaeda to free diplomat

Image result for CIA LOGO


The terror group’s leader at the time, Osama bin Laden, worried that the Americans knew about the payment and were either tracing the cash or had laced it with poison or radiation. — Reuters/file

WASHINGTON: Afghanistan used about $1 million provided by the CIA to a secret government fund to pay Al-Qaeda in 2010 for a diplomat’s release, The New York Times reported Saturday.

The terror group’s leader at the time, Osama bin Laden, worried that the Americans knew about the payment and were either tracing the cash or had laced it with poison or radiation, and suggested it be converted to another currency, according to the Times.

The newspaper said letters by bin Laden and his group’s general manager Atiyah Abd al-Rahman were found among computers and documents seized by US Navy SEALs during a 2011 raid in which the Al Qaeda leader was killed in Pakistan.

Read: Afghan diplomat set free after two years

They had been classified until presented as evidence by federal prosecutors at the trial in New York of Abid Naseer, an Al Qaeda operative convicted this month of supporting terrorism and plotting to bomb a British shopping center.

Abdul Khaliq Farahi was serving as Afghanistan’s consul general in Peshawar, Pakistan, when he was kidnapped in September 2008, just weeks before he was due to start in a new post as Kabul’s ambassador in the country.

He was released more than two years later after Afghanistan paid Al-Qaeda $5 million, a fifth of which came from a secret fund the CIA supplied with monthly cash payments to the presidential palace, according to the Times, which also cited Afghan and Western officials.

In addition to the CIA funds, Pakistan paid for nearly half the ransom, and the rest came from Iran and Gulf states.

“It seems a bit strange somewhat because in a country like Afghanistan, usually they would not pay this kind of money to free one of their men,” bin Laden wrote about the funds.

In the end, the United States appeared to have inadvertently funded the very militant group it was fighting only due to poor oversight and controls.

Rahman wrote that the cash would be used for weapons, operational needs and to pay families of Qaeda fighters imprisoned in Afghanistan, which refused an offer from the group to release fighters in exchange for Farahi’s freedom.

The CIA cash sent to the secret fund was used to bu the loyalty of warlords, lawmakers and other prominent Afghans, though the payments have slowed under new President Ashraf Ghani, the Times noted.

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Senate Committee Secretly Approves New Domestic Spying Measures

The spying bill is named the “Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act” [CISA].
Image result for Sen. Tom Cotton, PHOTO
Sen. Tom Cotton, R

While the government is attempting to cast it as a cyber-security measure, the bill is only designed to allow companies to share your information with the government and other companies. It also allows the government to turn over your information to private companies.

The spying bill is named the “Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act” [CISA]. Only one senator voted against the bill, and it passed in the secret committee with bipartisan approval. It still seems the only thing the parties can agree on is taking away your rights and establishing control systems to keep you in your place. As George Carlin said:

“The word bipartisan means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out”

The bill doesn’t require companies you do business with to strip away your personal information before handing data over to the government.

The Center for Democracy and Technology wrote a letter condemning the bill earlier this month. In the letter, the organization correctly pointed out that:

“The lack of use limitations creates yet another loophole for law enforcement to conduct backdoor searches on Americans – including searches of digital communications that would otherwise require law enforcement to obtain a warrant based on probable cause. This undermines Fourth Amendment protections and constitutional principles.”

The bill is, of course, being sold to the American people under the guise of protecting Americans from terrorists, but given that more Americans are killed by police than terrorists each year, America would probably be safer if we handed the data over to Islamic insurgents instead of giving it to law enforcement.

The bill also allows private companies to engage in legalized hacking, while wearing the mask of conducting the attacks as “countermeasures.” The letter addressed this as well:

“this is highly inadvisable. CISA permits companies to recklessly deploy countermeasures that damage networks belonging to innocent bystanders, such as a hospital or emergency responders that attackers use as proxies to hide behind, so long as the deploying company does not intend that the countermeasure result in harm.”

There is absolutely no benefit to the American people. The only thing this bill does is subject Americans to more surveillance by a government that is overstepping its bounds on a daily basis while bringing Americans to the point of violence in an attempt to reclaim their lost freedoms. It provides no safety net for Americans. In fact it endangers them by placing hospitals and first responders at risk.

Senator Ron Wyden cast the only vote against advancing this bill. He called it “a surveillance bill by another name.”

The other members of the committee that is attempting to strip you of your Constitutionally-protected and natural rights are:

Richard Burr
Diane Feinstein
James Risch
Dan Coats
Barbra Mikulski
Marco Rubio
Mark Warner
Susan Collins
Martin Heinrich
Roy Blunt
Angus King
James Lankford
Mazie Horono
Tom Cotton

The Fifth Column has taken the liberty of including a link to every senator’s phone number here The document produced by the Senate is intentionally confusing. You must dial the Washington, DC area code (202), and then dial “22” before dialing the five digit number listed by the Senator’s name.

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Survey: Americans Have Record Low Confidence In Their Government


Barack Obama

Americans’ confidence in all three branches of government is at or near record lows, according to a major survey that has measured attitudes on the subject for 40 years.

The 2014 General Social Survey finds only 23 percent of Americans have a great deal of confidence in the Supreme Court, 11 percent in the executive branch and 5 percent in Congress. By contrast, half have a great deal of confidence in the military.

The survey is conducted by the independent research organization NORC at the University of Chicago. Because of its long-running and comprehensive set of questions about the public, it is a highly regarded source of data about social trends. Data from the 2014 survey was released last week, and an analysis of its findings on confidence in institutions was conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the General Social Survey.

Five things to know about Americans’ low confidence in the government and other institutions:


The 11 percent who say they’re confident in the presidency approaches a record low measured by the same survey in 1996, when just 10 percent said they had a great deal of confidence in the executive branch. The 44 percent who now say they have hardly any confidence at all is at a record high.

Historically, and not surprisingly, the survey has found that Democrats have more confidence in the executive branch when the sitting president is a Democrat, and Republicans have more confidence when the president is a Republican. In the 2014 survey, just 3 percent of Republicans say they have a lot of confidence in the presidency, down from a record high 45 percent who said so in 2002, when overall confidence in the presidency was also at the highest point the survey has measured, at 27 percent. Then, President George W. Bush was still riding a crest of support in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

But confidence among Democrats has dropped some in recent years, too, from 25 percent in 2010 to 18 percent in 2014.

Just 1 in 10 independents expressed a lot of confidence in the presidency in 2014.


The 2014 survey finds that confidence in the Supreme Court has fallen among Democrats, Republicans and independents since 2012, driving confidence in the court to a 40-year low overall. The 26 percent of Democrats with a lot of confidence in the court is a record low in the history of the survey, while Republican confidence in the high court, at 22 percent, is also near an all-time low.

Independents are the least likely to have a great deal of confidence in the court, at 20 percent.

Overall, 2 in 10 say they have hardly any confidence in the court, a record high, while more than half have only some confidence.


If there’s one issue than unites Americans, it’s that hardly anyone has much confidence in Congress, the survey shows. Over half of Americans express hardly any confidence at all, while only 7 percent of Democrats, 5 percent of independents and 3 percent of Republicans have a great deal of confidence in Congress.

Younger Americans — those under 35 — are a bit more likely than older ones to express confidence in Congress, but even among that group only 10 percent say they have a lot of confidence in the legislative branch.


Confidence has decreased since the 1970s, when about a quarter of Americans expressed a great deal of confidence in the press. Now, a record low of 7 percent have a lot of confidence, while 44 percent have hardly any confidence at all.

Republicans are the least likely to express a lot of confidence in the press, at only 3 percent, but Democrats aren’t far behind at 10 percent.

Only 1 in 10 has a lot of confidence in television, which is also near a record low.


Americans’ confidence in banks and financial institutions reached an all-time low of 11 percent in 2010, but has rebounded slightly since then, with 15 percent now expressing a great deal of confidence. That’s still far from the survey’s all-time high of 42 percent in 1977.

Just 18 percent have a great deal of confidence in major companies, up a bit from 13 percent who said so in 2010 but down from 31 percent who said so in 1984.

Only 1 in 10 Americans has a lot of confidence in organized labor.

The General Social Survey is administered by NORC at the University of Chicago, with financing from the National Science Foundation, primarily using in-person interviewing. The GSS started in 1972 and completed its 30th round in 2014.

The typical sample size was 1,500 prior to 1994, but increased to 2,700-3,000 until 2008, and decreased to 2,000 for the most recent surveys. Resulting margins of error are between plus or minus 3.1 percentage points for the smaller sample sizes and plus or minus 2.2 percentage points for the larger sample sizes at the 95 percent confidence level. The 2014 survey was conducted March 31-Oct. 11, 2014, among 2,538 American adults. The GSS 1972-2014 Cumulative File was used to produce the statistics presented.


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Reparations for Ecuadorean Victims of Crimes Against Humanity

As a form of reparation, Cardenas wants museums to be built explaining the truth.
  • As a form of reparation, Cardenas wants museums to be built explaining the truth.

    Cardenas Basantes regained his identity through the Reparation for Victims program.

  • Cardenas Basantes regained his identity through the Reparation for Victims program.

    Ministries and the Truth Comission are working to provide material and non-material reparation for victims.

  • Ministries and the Truth Comission are working to provide material and non-material reparation for victims.


  • Ecuador’s truth commission is overseeing reparation for victims

During the ongoing work of Ecuador’s Truth Commission, teleSUR talks to victims who have received reparations.

Over 450 victims of human rights abuses and crimes against humanity have been identified in Ecuador as part of a truth commission, and victims are receiving compensation as part of an ongoing project for justice.

Over two-thirds of the 456 abuses, carried out over a thirty year period, occurred under the government of Leon Febres Cordero, from 1984 to 1988.

Kidnapped, imprisoned and tortured on various occasions, Mireya Cardenas, a former member of the revolutionary guerilla group Alfaro Vive ¡Carajo!, is one of these victims. Cardenas was captured by the CIA in August 1985 while changing planes in Costa Rica, en route to attend a conference in Nicaragua.

Under the Law for Victims put forward by the Truth Commission in 2013, victims like Cardenas, and their families, are receiving material and non-material reparation for the crimes committed against them.

Cardenas told teleSUR English, “I was there eight days, without any form of communication, kidnapped, tortured; they used animals, such as dogs and rats, for the psychological and physical torture. After being there for eight days without food, they brought me here to Ecuador, breaking all norms for extradition. They brought me to Ecuador and they turned me into military intelligence.”

“Military intelligence held me for eight more days in what was called “Little Hell,” which was a site, a laboratory, built to torture under the CIA manual. And I do think it was under the CIA manual because in Costa Rica the same torture methods were used as here. In this laboratory … they gave me electric shocks, made me strip naked, used cold water, they put a hood over my head, witheld food, and also continualy humiliated me and violated me psychologically. And after I left, they took me to prison again,” said Cardenas.

As a form of reparation, Cardenas and other victims from Alfaro Vive ¡Carajo! are working to transform those spaces used for torture and repression into truth museums.

On reparation, Cardenas said,“We have fought for these symbolic reparations. So that the truth is known about what happened here in the country. So that the honorable names of our comrades are recognized. So that we have sites for memory. A museum of truth is an option which we have been talking about for a few years now, which is going to be built at the SIC of Pichincha, a site where many people were tortured.”

Cardenas and her partner Fausto Basantes, the second in command of Alfaro Vive ¡Carajo!, gave birth to a son who was put under the care of his uncles and forced to change his last name for protection. Through the Reparation for Victims Program, sponsored by various ministries and the Truth Commission, after 29 years their son, Fausto Eloy Basantes Cardenas, had his true identity recognized by the state March 4.

Basantes Cardenas said,“It was a process to regain my identity, but now having this identity makes me extremely proud. Having this new identity card, which we have to carry everywhere, reinforces that Mireya Cardenas and Fausto Basantes are my parents, they are my biological parents, and this fills me with pride. And this is because I really admire my parents.”

He went on to say, “I love being their son, and I believe that my father giving his life and my mother, willing to give her life, [were] fighting for this country. For their convictions, for their ideals, for a better Ecuador, this is something that should make everyone proud.”

Taking the stories and experiences of the Alfaro Vive ¡Carajo!, and other affected individuals and groups, the Reparation for Victims Program is working to continue providing justice and material as well as non-material reparation for those victims of crimes committed by the state.

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PAKISTAN; 15 dead, at least 70 injured


In double Zio-Wahhabi suicide bombings on two churches in Lahore

Pakistani Zio-Wahhabi Taliban suicide bombers allegedly exploded themselves at two churches in the eastern city of Lahore on Sunday as worshippers were gathered inside, killing 15, including children, and critically wounding at least 70, in the latest attack against religious minorities in the  fractured country.

Here is CCTV video of the blast:

Enraged citizens took to the streets and seized two of the bombing suspects, beat them up and then took one of them and lit him on fire.

In the tense aftermath, angry mobs lashed out at people they suspected of involvement in the attacks — including one person who was burned to death — and crowds set fire to cars in a show of defiance in the country’s second largest city and the prime minister’s seat of power.

Enraged Christians burn a man they suspected of being involved in bomb attacks on churches, after lynching them in Lahore

Enraged crowds burn a man they suspected of being involved in bomb attacks on churches, after lynching them in Lahore

Local television footage showed an angry crowd beating a person they thought was connected to the attack, while others attacked buses in the city. The crowds burned to death one person they believed was involved in the attack and tried to lynch another, said Haider Ashraf, deputy inspector general for Lahore.

Angry protesters trash Lahore following the bombings:

Life in Pakistan is increasingly fraught with danger for religious minorities, especially Christians. They have been targeted by extremist Zio-Wahhabi militants who object to their faith.

One unidentified witness told Pakistan’s Geo television that the main gate to one of the churches targeted was closed so people were using a smaller gate. “One bomber exploded himself near that gate, that created chaos and during the course there was another blast,” he said.


Two police who were protecting the churches were also killed in the explosions, which he confirmed were caused by suicide bombers.

A spokesman for the Punjab province government condemned the attacks but also said it was unfortunate that the mob had attacked suspects. He said authorities are reinforcing security at the 481 remaining churches across the city.


Militants appear to be targeting minorities more intensively recently, including attacks on a string of Mosques belonging to members of the Shiite Muslim minority sect. In 2013, twin blasts at a church in Peshawar killed 85 people.

“There will be more of such attacks,” warned Ahsanullah Ahsan, a spokesman for the Taliban faction that claimed responsibility for the assault, in a statement emailed to reporters.

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Brazilians March in Widespread Support of Rousseff

  • Over 100,000 people took Sao Paulo
    Over 100,000 people took Sao Paulo’s Paulista Avenue 
The hashtag “Sunday I will not go,” in reference to Sunday’s opposition march is now trending on Twitter.

The Brazilian people staged massive demonstrations throughout the country in support of President Dilma Rousseff on Friday.

Marches were held in at least 23 of Brazil’s major cities.

The demonstrations in support of Rousseff come after the right-wing opposition organized a series of protests set for Sunday, demanding the president’s impeachment

​Social movements, parties and activists joined efforts to organize the mobilizations across the country. Some of the main organizers were the Movement of Landless Campesinos (MST), the Central Workers Union (CUT), the Brazilian Workers Union (CTB) and the governing Worker’s Party (PT).

With banners in defense of democracy and of the state-owned oil company Petrobras, the social movements registered over 100,000 people participating in demonstrations nationwide.

Brazilian media outlets have reported in recent days that businessmen are trying to force employees to attend Sunday’s acts against the president.

In response, thousands of people are using the hashtag #EuNaoVou (I won’t go) to show their rejection of the impeachment march, which is being organized through social media campaigns.

Some Brazilian twitter users are making reference to past episodes in the country’s history of military coups against progressive governments.

The tweet below reads “I will not go because I studied history.”

Some users have pointed at Jorge Paulo Lemann, the richest person in Brazil, who has been financially backing the march. This tweet denounces his financing of the website (Come to the, one of the main organizers of the protests.

Other users reject the impeachment as an attempt from the right-wing parties to achieve what they could not during the elections, a recurring description used by the President Rousseff herself, who described the calls to impeachment as a “third round” election.

The tweet below reads “15/03 I will not go. Elections are a serious thing, and people’s hysteria should be solved through analysis.”

In a similar tone, the tweet below reads “I will not go because I voted in the elections, because I respect the people’s will, because I don’t support a coup!”

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Spanish Senators Approve Controversial ‘Gag Law’

  •  A woman protests against the new law for policing demonstrations, in central Madrid.

    A woman protests against the new law for policing demonstrations, in central Madrid

Spain’s citizen security law aims has been criticized by international human rights organizations.

Spain’s senate approved the controversial law of citizen security, known as the gag law, Thursday.

The legislation was passed 134 votes to 84, but it is yet to be approved by to the lower chamber before the conservative government of Mariano Rajoy, of the Popular Party, writes it into law.

The law prohibits citizens from recording or taking pictures of the police, and forces every citizen to show their identification card if requested by officials. Any demonstration that takes place outside parliament, or other buildings which provide “basic public services,” will be considered illegal, regardless of their nature.

Furthermore, it grants authorities the right to perform immediate deportations and to legally disband peaceful demonstrations, while punishing any citizen that resists eviction.

Eviction resistance is a common practice in Spain, after it became widespread when the economic crisis broke out in 2008. For example, between April and June this year there were 18,749 evictions.

The law also implements new fines of up to 30,000 euros (US$31,500) if a demonstration is considered by authorities to be unlawful. Any action considered a “lack of respect” toward authorities can also be sanctioned under the new legislation.

International human rights organizations have criticized the law due to the excess of power that it gives police and the lack of accountability mechanisms to prevent abuses.

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US to Provide $70 Million Additional Funding to Syrian Rebels

  • A rebel fighter of the Free Syrian Army, one of the so-called "moderate" rebel groups.
  • A rebel fighter of the Free Syrian Army, one of the so-called “moderate” rebel groups

The State Department reiterated once again that its aim is to oust President Bashar Al-Assad.

The United States government announced Friday it will provide the Syrian opposition with US$70 million in “non-lethal” assistance.

According to the U.S. Department of State, the assistance will only be delivered to certified rebel groups.

“Today, I can announce a modest step forward that the Administration is working with Congress to provide nearly $70 million in new foreign assistance to continue our full range of support to the moderate Syrian opposition,” said Antony J. Blinken, deputy secretary of state, in a statement.

However, with the rapidly evolving events in the Syrian frontlines, the task of certifying rebel groups as moderate has proven highly difficult. Many so-called moderate rebels have subsequently joined the Islamic State group or the al-Qaida allied al-Nusrah Front.

The U.S government clarified once again that their support for the rebels is consistent with the U.S. long-term objectives.

“As we have long said, Assad must go and be replaced through a negotiated political transition that is representative of the Syrian people,” said a White House spokesperson, referring to Washington’s commitment to oust the Syrian president.

As media investigations have revealed, classified U.S. documents and independent investigations show aid supplied to the rebel groups has helped strengthen the Islamic State group and Al-Nusrah, which are now dominating the Syrian battlefield.

So far, U.S. support to the Syrian opposition accounts for nearly US$400 million since 2011.

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