Archive | October 21st, 2015

Saudi Dirty prince accused of hooker parties, threats and fart-in-face demand

NOVANEWS

By Todd Venezia

Ny Post.

A Saudi Arabian prince is accused by three female staffers of acting like a bizarre party boy — engaging in a gay-sex act in front of them, threatening a woman’s life, demanding that an assistant fart in his face while others watched and declaring, “I am a prince and I do what I want,” according to a report.

Prince Majed bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who is the son of the late King Abdullah, allegedly engaged in the lurid behavior at his $37 million mansion in Beverly Hills, according to a lawsuit filed by a trio of women who worked for him there, the Daily Mail reports.

The lawsuit accuses Al Saud, 29, of being drunk and on drugs — and of making crude sexual advances on men and women alike.

The prince is accused of getting on top of one woman and grinding on her in a “sexual and aggressive manner.” He also allegedly threatened the life of another woman after she refused to “party” with him, the report said.

The prince of Saudi Arabia — where gay acts are punishable by death — was also witnessed romping with a male aide, whom the women saw stroking his penis, the Los Angeles civil suit says.

And he is accused of making one of the women watch while he had a male aide fart in his face. When he was challenged on his behavior, he allegedly shouted out, “I am a prince and I do what I want. You are nobody.”

According to the suit, the activity was witnessed by the women at the mansion between Sept. 21 and Sept. 25, while they were there caring for the house during the prince’s visit to the United States.

The women say he got off to a wild start on his first night by hosting a party featuring “multiple escorts,” the report said. They also claim he got involved in “illicit drug abuse” and became “increasingly intoxicated.”

On the second night, Sept. 22, he allegedly did it all over again, with another escort party, the report said.

At one point, he allegedly took a liking to one woman and made her stand next to him all night, before telling her, “Tomorrow, I will have a party with you and you will do everything I want or I will kill you.”

The LA District Attorney’s Office on Monday announced it was dropping felony charges of sexual assault against the prince, who was earlier accused of trying to force a woman into a sex act at his mansion, according to CNN. The DA could still pursue misdemeanor charges.

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The Secret Memo: Tony Blair’s Iraq Role Will “Follow Him to His Grave.”

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Many around the world believe that Tony Blair did not only support the Bush administration’s war in Iraq, but did so in contravention of international law. New damning evidence in this regard suggests the net is finally closing in on him.

The unearthing of two classified US government memos, published in the UK tabloid, the Mail on Sunday, leaves no doubt that the former British prime minister committed Britain to following the US into Iraq a full year before the bombs started dropping on Baghdad in March 2003.

The first of the memos concerned was sent to US president George W Bush by his secretary of state, Colin Powell, in early April of 2002. In it Powell writes: “On Iraq, Blair will be with us should military operations be necessary. He is convinced on two points: the threat is real; and success against Saddam will yield more regional success.”

At the same time, as the former British PM was alleged to have committed UK forces to war alongside the US, Blair was assuring the British public that he and the American president were seeking a diplomatic solution to the question of Iraq and Saddam’s role in the region.

Powell also discusses trade issues in the first memo, specifically the controversial decision by the Bush administration to impose a tariff on EU steel imports in March 2002: “We do not expect Blair to dwell on the steel decision, although it was a bitter blow for him, as he indicated in his recent letter to you. It is clear that Britain will not fight our fight within the EU on this.”

© Chris Helgren

© Chris Helgren / Reuters

This is a shocking revelation, exposing the extent to which Blair was willing to suborn UK’s trade and economic interests, along with the untold number of British jobs dependent on them, to his priority of currying favor with Washington.

Moving on to the second classified memo, prepared by the US Embassy in London for Colin Powell, we are given an insight into the determination of Blair and his allies to overcome political obstacles and opposition within his own parliamentary Labour Party over Britain’s potential participation in a US military coalition vis-à-vis Iraq.

Most shocking here is the suggestion that the US Embassy had confidential sources among Labour MPs, providing it with inside information, with their names in the document redacted to conceal their identities.

The memos have come to light in the wake of the scandal surrounding the location of classified emails on the private server of Hillary Clinton from her own time as secretary of state in the Obama administration. Currently campaigning for the Democratic Party nomination for next year’s presidential elections, Clinton was recently forced by a federal judge to release the emails, which number around 30,000.

It is thought she may have requested the memos to and from her Republican predecessor, Colin Powell, in order to review the procedures that were followed by the US State Department prior to the start of the US-UK invasion in March 2003.

Whatever her motivation for possessing them, their revelations place further pressure on Sir John Chilcot and his inquiry into Iraq, set up in 2009 and which has yet to publish its findings six years after the last witness was questioned in 2010. When Blair appeared in front of the inquiry he denied the allegation that he committed Britain to military action in Iraq along with the United States, during the aforementioned Crawford, Texas summit with George W Bush.

Growing public and political disquiet over the inordinate delay in publishing the findings of the inquiry has been focused on the possibility that it is being held up by Blair, unhappy with the criticisms that have been made of his conduct and actions in the run-up to the war in Chilcot’s report, which Blair along with the other witnesses who have come in for criticism have seen in advance in order to allow them to respond. No matter, the publication of these classified US memos merely add to the growing clamor for the former British prime minister and key personnel within his government and inner circle to be investigated for war crimes and face trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

© Chris Helgren

 

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The US Military Empire and the “Privatization of War”

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VIDEO: Military Buildup Worldwide: The Globalization of War

Private Military and Security Contractors in the Service of the Transnational Capitalist Class (TCC)

Globalization of trade and central banking has propelled private corporations to positions of power and control never before seen in human history. Under advanced capitalism, the structural demands for a return on investment require an unending expansion of centralized capital in the hands of fewer and fewer people. The financial center of global capitalism is so highly concentrated that less than a few thousand people dominate and control $100 trillion of wealth.

The few thousand people controlling global capital amounts to less than 0.0001 percent of the world’s population. They are the transnational capitalist class (TCC), who, as the capitalist elite of the world, dominate nation-states through international trade agreements and transnational state organizations such as the World Bank, the Bank for International Settlements, and the International Monetary Fund.

The TCC communicates their policy requirements through global networks such as the G-7 and G-20, and various nongovernmental policy organizations such as the World Economic Forum, the Trilateral Commission, and the Bilderberger Group. The TCC represents the interests of hundreds of thousands of millionaires and billionaires who comprise the richest people in the top 1 percent of the world’s wealth hierarchy.

The TCC are keenly aware of both their elite status and their increasing vulnerabilities to democracy movements and to unrest from below. The military empire dominated by the US and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) serves to protect TCC investments around the world. Wars, regime changes, and occupations performed in service of empire support investors’ access to natural resources and their speculative advantages in the market place.

When the empire is slow to perform or faced with political resistance, private security firms and private military companies (PMC) increasingly fulfill the TCC’s demands for the protections of their assets. These protection services include personal security for TCC executives and their families, protection of safe residential and work zones, tactical military advisory and training of national police and armed forces, intelligence gathering on democracy movements and opposition groups, weapons acquisitions and weapon systems management, and strike forces for military actions and assassinations.

The expanding crisis of desperate masses/refugees, alienated work forces, and environmental exhaustion means an unlimited opportunity for PMCs to engage in protections services for the global elite.

Estimates are that over $200 billion a year is spent on private security employing some fifteen million people worldwide. G4S is the largest PMC in the world with 625,000 employees spanning five continents in more than 120 countries. Nine of the largest money management firms in the world have holdings in G4S. Some of its more important contractors are the governments of the UK, the US, Israel, and Australia.  In the private sector G4S has worked with corporations such as Chrysler, Apple, and Bank of America. In Nigeria, Chevron contracts with G4S for counterinsurgency operations including fast-response mercenaries. G4S undertakes similar operations in South Sudan, and has provided surveillance equipment for checkpoints and prisons in Israel and security for Jewish settlements in Palestine.

Another private military contractor Constellis Holdings—formally Blackwater and Triple Canopy—is a leading provider of security, support, and military advisory services to the US government, foreign governments, multinational corporations, and international organizations. Constellis is managed by an all male board of directors including billionaire Red McCombs; John Ashcroft, the former attorney general; retired admiral Bobby Inman; and Jack Quinn, a leading Democratic advisor who served as chief of staff to vice president Al Gore and as counsel to President Clinton.

Hundreds of private military contractors now play an important role in TCC security in the evolving 21st century neo-fascist corporate world. Capital will be free to travel instantly and internationally to anywhere that profits are possible, while nation-states will become little more than population containment zones with increasingly repressive labor controls. For these reasons, PMCs must be understood as a component of neoliberal imperialism that now supplements nation-states’ police powers and could eventually substitute for them.

The trend toward privatization of war is a serious threat to human rights, due process, and democratic transparency and accountability. The US/NATO military empire sets the moral standards for denial of human rights by using pilotless drones to kill civilians without regard for international law in various regions of resistance to empire. Labeling dead civilians as insurgents and terrorists, the complete lack of due process and human rights belies any standard of governmental moral legitimacy. This lack of moral legitimacy in turn sets standards for private military companies to operate with much the same malice in the shadow of the empire.

The globalization of PMC operations alongside transnational capital investment, international trade agreements, and an increasing concentration of wealth in the TCC means that the repressive practices of private security and war will inevitably come home to roost in the US, the European Union, and other first-world nations.

The 99 percent of us without wealth and private police power face the looming threat of overt repression and complete loss of human rights and legal protections. We see signs of this daily with police killings (now close to a hundred per month in the US), warrantless electronic spying, mass incarceration, random traffic checkpoints, airport security/no-fly lists, and Homeland Security compilations of databases on suspected resisters.

Each time we look past the crimes of the empire we lose a portion of our integrity of self.  Ignoring repression becomes part of continuing compromise in our daily lives leading to a moral malaise and increased feelings of helplessness. We must stand up and demand democratic transparency and the international enforcement of human rights. Unless we collectively challenge the empire, we face a world that is evolving into a new dark age of neo-feudal totalitarianism unlike any previously known.

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Britain Tightens Grip In Suffocation Of Free Speech. Britain’s Media Propaganda Machine

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cameron

‘Freedom of Press’ is published by the US-based Freedom House, an NGO established in 1941 that has been ranking countries worldwide since 1980 in relation to democracy, human rights and press freedom. In May 2014 it reported that Britain has slipped down the global rankings for freedom of the press to 36th place.

The organisation said press freedom and therefore free speech, had fallen to its lowest level for over a decade. It partly blames regressive steps in countries such as Libya, Turkey and Ukraine, as well as the actions taken against journalists reporting on national security issues in both the US and UK.

Karin Karlekar, the report’s project director, said: “We see declines in media freedom on a global level, driven by governments’ efforts to control the message and punish the messenger.” Clearly she could have been talking specifically about Britain in the light of the arrest of David Miranda and the enforced destruction of source material at The Guardian newspaper HQ by government security officials.

Of the 197 countries and territories assessed during 2013, 63 were rated free, 68 partly free and 66 not free. Britain dropped from 31st place last year to 36th, ranking it alongside Malta and Slovakia.

“Significant decline took place in Turkey (which fell into the ‘not free’ category) as well as in Greece, Montenegro and the United Kingdom,” Freedom House said.

One year later, the 2015 report states that Britain’s freedom of the press has declined yet further, straddled by now by Uruguay and Slovakia and now just 6 points from being classed as ‘partly free’ alongside Kazakhstan.

The very first sentence from the 2015 reports concludes; “This year’s edition of Freedom of the Press documents a surge in threats to independent journalism, from governments that use legal means to control information” and ends its conclusion with – “The wide and growing range of threats to media freedom around the globe presents a stark challenge to democratic values”.

Central to its findings was – “Censorship is ineffective and often counterproductive as an antidote to extremism, and its limited utility cannot justify the infringement of a fundamental democratic value like freedom of expression.”

At this point, it would be an opportune time to remind the British public, whilst criticising lower ranked countries in the report such as the United States and France, it made no mention of the draconian measures implemented by the British government more recently.

On the 15th October, Gordon Raynor, Chief Reporter at The Telegraph –  “Investigative journalism will be “stopped dead in its tracks” and local newspapers may be “driven out of business” when new laws restricting Britain’s free press come into force next month. He continues – Media organisations face “the most substantial threat to press freedom in the modern era” as a result of the “menacing” laws passed in the wake of the Leveson Inquiry.

An independent report into the implications of the Crime and Courts Act, which comes into force on November 3, says that The Telegraph’s landmark investigation into MPs’ expenses would have been all but impossible under the new regime. Campaigners for free speech are demanding the repeal of the “pernicious” new law.

On the 22nd September, TruePublica published an article How Britain’s Propaganda Machine Controls What You Think – one excerpt read;

However, behind the principle that the media in Britain has been highjacked by the vested interests of corporations such as Murdoch’a News Corporation, a company that now ranks as the worlds fourth largest media company, there is a much more sinister side to how media and their messages are disseminated in Britain.

Essentially, to be a news or current affairs publisher you must be registered as such with a government regulatory body. That this is a despicable idea goes without saying: it’s a reversal of the past three hundred years of liberty where we’ve been allowed to say or print whatever we want to subject only to the laws of libel, incitement to violence and pressing concerns of national security.

If a news or current affairs publisher is taken to court, by anyone, including the state, and not registered with the government then no matter the outcome, in all circumstances, win or lose, the publisher effectively loses and can’t claim costs.

This new law effectively means that any news outlet, irrespective of size – from corporation to a one man band is now open to being unable to financially defend itself in court if it does not register with the government.

Not one news organisation or outlet has signed the government register.

In another angle the government has taken, The Freedom of Information Act is now under review by officials. This is yet another dangerous deed designed to cover up the wrongdoing of government and their allies such as government agencies, supportive press organisations and corporations that fund their very existance.

David Banisar of Article 19, a human rights organisation that champions freedom of information, criticised the move by government. “The Government’s proposals will lead to more secrecy, less accountability, and a more insular and unresponsive Government. It is moving the law from the right to know to the right to no information.”

In addition, in February of this year it was reported that charities now say controversial new lobbying legislation prevents them from campaigning on crucial general election issues, and is a “chilling” assault on free speech.

In a sharply worded letter to government ministers, Britain’s largest charities jointly demanded the UK’s recently introduced “gaggling law” be repealed.

Over 160 signatories, including representatives from the Salvation Army, Save the Children, Greenpeace, Oxfam, Age UK and Amnesty International, called for the Transparency of Lobbying Act to be scrapped.

They said the legislation interferes with charities’ work and is ensnaring them in costly and counterproductive bureaucracy.

So politically charged is the gagging law that Labour’s website now states “The health of our democracy depends on people’s right to campaign on the issues they care about. That’s why a Labour government will repeal David Cameron’s gagging law.”

UN rapporteur on rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, Maina Kiai, joined in the foray and stated: “Although sold as a way to level the electoral playing field, the bill actually does little more than shrink the space for citizens – particularly those engaged in civil society groups – to express their collective will. In doing so, it threatens to tarnish the United Kingdom’s democracy.”

In the press freedom report was another damning statement under ‘freedom of the net’. Britain was placed only slightly better than freedom of the press but dramatically fell due to “violations of users rights” which highlighted government filters, mass data retention by ISP’s, violations of privacy, abuse of data protection and growing fears of abuse by police and intelligence agents.

That report also stated that government outsourcing and privatizing of blocking and filtering services raised questions about transparency and overblocking, “which may have significant effects on users’ online freedoms”.

In a separate approach of infringement of free speech laws, we can see the governments use of terrorism being as reported today – “David Cameron and Theresa May’s crackdown on extremism risks undermining the British values ministers want to protect, according to the most senior police chief in charge of anti-radicalisation.”

The proposals were also condemned by the Muslim Council of Britain. Dr Shuja Shafi, its secretary general, said of the plans: “We cannot help detecting the McCarthyist undertones in the proposal to create blacklists and exclude and ban people deemed to be extremist. If we are to have such lists at all, they should be determined through a transparent process and subject to judicial oversight.” Which, they are not.

Finally – from the civil rights movement home page – “Freedom of speech and expression are recognised under the European Convention of Human Rights as fundamental human rights. In Britain these rights can be found as early as 1215 in the Magna Carter.”

Just one problem – the Human Rights Act as recognised by the ECHR of which Britain is a signatory is about to be abolished in Britain.

The expectation, after combining all of these different approaches to laws being imposed upon British society is that the 2016 Freedom of Press and Freedom of Net reports should show significant declines straight into a category that does not include the term “FREE”.

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World Bank Report Challenges Notions of Declining Poverty in Africa

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Study raises questions about the sustainability of capitalist growth in developing states

africa-economic-growth

Despite the reports for the last several years that significant declines in poverty have taken place in sub-Saharan Africa, a recently-released World Bank study indicates that despite “growth” the actual number of people living in poverty on the continent has increased by 100 million over the last fifteen years.

In an attempt to reiterate and reinforce the view related to poverty decline in Africa, other figures are presented indicating that the proportion of people living in severe economic deprivation has declined, although with rising populations those who are in distress numerically are in fact increasing.

The World Bank presented this report on “End Poverty Day” in Ghana, the first country south of the Sahara which gained its national independence from Britain in 1957. In the recent period Ghana is often championed by many western financial publications as a “success story” within the broader effort to ameliorate poverty and underdevelopment in Africa.

In a press release issued by the World Bank announcing the study entitled “Poverty in a Rising Africa”, it says

“The report finds that progress in ending poverty in all its forms has varied greatly across countries and population groups, with the levels of achievement remaining challengingly low. Africa posted the slowest rate of poverty reduction of all major developing regions, with the share of people living in extreme poverty (less than US$1.90 a day) declining only slightly, from 56% in 1990 to 43% in 2012. But since 2012, extreme poverty fell to a projected 35 percent in 2015 in the region, based on the World Bank’s new poverty line of $1.90 a day. Globally, according to Bank estimates released earlier this month, the percentage of people living in extreme poverty will likely fall to under 10 percent for the first time, to 9.6 percent this year.” (Oct. 16)

These figures related to the percentage of Africans living in poverty are plagued by conjecture due to the lack of credible measurement tools and moreover the acquisition of reliable data on these subjects. In rural areas the number of people living without adequate supplies of water, fuel, food and communications technology often go overlooked.

The report itself acknowledges this fact by saying “Gauging Africa’s human well-being remains tremendously difficult. The report shows that in 2012, just 25 of the region’s 48 countries had conducted at least two household surveys over the past decade to track poverty. The authors urge action across Africa in improving the availability and access to regular and reliable data on income poverty and other dimensions of well-being. They also stress that national support for adhering to methodological and operational standards is essential.”

How is Growth and Development Measured in Africa?

This World Bank report reveals the contradictions between foreign direct investment (FDI) growth and the actual levels of incomes, quality of life improvements and socio-economic development. Setting a $1.90 level for assessing whether individuals and households are living below an extreme poverty level is problematic.

Many of the advances made in Africa take into consideration the availability of mobile phones and other consumer goods. These goods have enhanced the standard of living in many states by facilitating communications and therefore economic, political and social interactions. Nonetheless, these products come at a price whether they are manufactured outside the country, as is the case more often than not, or domestically.

Consequently, the cost of living is also going up and with that the need to spend the rising household income that is generated through increased production and trade. Recent strikes in Ghana among private, public and educational workers have largely centered on the decline in the value of the cedi (national currency) requiring larger amounts of money to cover expenses.

In Nigeria, which was proclaimed in 2014 by the western-based financial publications as having the largest economy in Africa, many of the strikes as well involve workers who are more skilled and have higher incomes. Work stoppages in the medical, educational and oil sectors and industries demand not only higher wages and better conditions of employment, but that employees actually receive their salaries on a regular basis.

In various state governments in Nigeria, public sector workers have gone months without salaries. This has also been a major issue in Ghana as well among junior physicians and educators.

Most importantly the distribution of national wealth is an important factor in determining actual development. Africa has produced billionaires in Nigeria, South Africa and other states. However, the existence of abject poverty remains. Class structures inherited from colonialism have not been eliminated where those who are in a position to benefit from the continuing integration of Africa into the world capitalist and imperialist system stand to advance their social positions within society.

In Nigeria and South Africa, the largest and most advanced states on the continent, both labor unions and community organizations have demanded that the mining and other extractive multi-national corporations re-invest in the environmental and social well-being of the areas where they derive their wealth. Although the workers may earn more than people living and confined to the rural areas, if resources are not re-invested into creating schools, improving education, cleaning up chemical and industrial waste along with constructing roads and healthcare facilities, it is not possible to define such a set of circumstances as genuine development.

Wealth Must Be Equitably Distributed to Foster Development

The issues of wealth distribution and relations of production must be addressed before there is real qualitative development in Africa and other geo-political regions internationally. Of course the World Bank cannot address these issues due to the inherent class bias of its approach to economic growth.

Both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were founded by the United States capitalist class at the conclusion of World War II in order to facilitate its dominant positions within the imperialist world. In the earlier phase, tremendous resources were poured into Western Europe to rebuild industry and infrastructure destroyed during 1939-1945.

However, after the emergence of independent African states during the 1950s and 1960s, the IMF-World Bank officials came in to restructure the post-colonial political economy emphasizing a neo-liberal approach to development by shrinking the size of the public sectors and lowering the value of currencies. Rather than establish import-substitution industries, a path to growth was engineered to emphasize western foreign investment.

With the fluctuations of energy and commodity prices such a set of international relations leaves the post-colonial states dependent upon the strength of the economies within the former colonial and still existing imperialist countries. This vulnerability of the oppressed nations largely located within Africa, the Asia-Pacific and Latin America, stifles and even obliterates the capacity to engage in long-term planning for the benefit of the broad populations within these states.

These constraints placed on making major advancements in agricultural, industrial, educational and social service industries and sectors requires alternative approaches. Socialist economic planning would necessitate the channeling of earnings from worker productivity and trade into these aspects of the economy that could reproduce the outcomes that are most desired.

Internal conflict is cited in the World Bank report as a major factor in preventing economic growth. However, the imperialist destabilization of Africa through military operations and covert activity cannot be acknowledged by the World Bank since it would directly challenge the foreign policy imperatives of the ruling classes within North America and Western Europe.

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American Hypocrisy: Against Muslim Sharia Law at Home, Calls it ‘Moderate’ in Syria

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(Screenshot via CNN)

I just watched the 5 pm news hour on CNN anchored by Wolf Blitzer, and the editors had clearly decided that the lead was that Russian bombing in south Aleppo risks creating a new wave of refugees. They also stuck to the cover story that the Russians are only attacking the “moderate rebels.”

American bombing of populated areas has never been reported in that way on mainstream cable news. The US bombing that killed Sanafi al-Nasr, said to have been the no. 2 man in the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, the Support Front, was reported on the same show as a great victory. But was he in a completely deserted area? Were any civilians killed around him? It has now come out that most US drone strikes don’t even kill the intended target; probably it is the landlord’s family that mainly dies. Was al-Nasr a renter?

Nor did CNN lead with civilian casualties when it covered Israeli PM Netanyahu’s bombardment of defenseless little Gaza in summer of 2014.

Russian bombing of populated areas, like all such bombing, is killing civilians, of course. The point isn’t that CNN is wrong but that it is selective.

Whether Russian bombing is more or less egregious than any other can could be debated. I suspect it is less egregious than that of the Syrian air force itself, though that wouldn’t be saying much. Robert Fisk reports that the Syrian Arab Army is frustrated with the Russians precisely because their air force is being very cautious about civilian casualties:

“The Syrians have found that the Russians do not want to fire at targets in built-up areas; they intend to leave burning hospitals and dead wedding parties to the Americans in Afghanistan. This policy could always change, of course. No air force bombs countries without killing civilians. Nor without crossing other people’s frontiers. But the Russians are now telling the Turks – and by logical extension, this information must go to the Americans – their flight coordinates.”

Note that the Syrian regime has been dropping barrel bombs on civilian areas for years now and no CNN news hour has begun with this headline. It appears to me that they mind when Russia bombs, but not when anyone else does. I should underline that I oppose the Russian intervention in Syria and think it will likely go to dark places. But I also insist that it be reported and analyzed exactly as actions of the US and its allies are. And this is clearly not the case. The Fisk point of view should be reported, as I just did, even if one has reservations about it (as I do).

As for the “moderate rebels,” who have suddenly reappeared in American official discourse only after Russia intervened, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey wrote Congress in fall of 2013 that he did not want to intervene in Syria because he could not be sure that the victorious rebels would support US interests:

” In an August 19 letter to Representative Eliot Engel, obtained by the Associated Press, Gen. Dempsey effectively ruled out even limited intervention, including US cruise missile attacks and other options that wouldn’t require US troops on the ground. “Syria today is not about choosing between two sides but rather about choosing one among many sides,” he said. “It is my belief that the side we choose must be ready to promote their interests and ours when the balance shifts in their favour. Today, they are not.”

What he was saying was that by the middle of 2013, the democratic forces in the Free Syrian Army had either collapsed or their units had joined or closely allied with one of the two major al-Qaeda offshoots, Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) or the Support Front (Jabhat al-Nusra, which reports to al-Qaeda 9/11 mastermind Ayman al-Zawahiri).

There are lots of small rebel groups in the hinterlands of Homs, Hama and Aleppo and in Idlib province who are not al-Qaeda. But most have become hard line Salafis a la Saudi Arabia who want sharia law and allow as how they might not kill all the Alawis, Christians, Druze and other minorities that come under their rule but keep them as second class citizens under a dictatorship. Some are still Muslim Brotherhood, some of whom want a Muslim state but with elections.

However, these groups are small and not very effective fighters, and have been forced to ally with al-Qaeda to avoid being killed by the Syrian Arab Army and in hopes of taking more territory. Moreover, the amount of Syrian territory now held by rebels who want democratic elections and full legal equality for all Syrians would be in my estimation zero percent. Almost all Syrian rebels now want a society ruled by sharia or a hard line medieval notion of Islamic law. (Sharia itself, as private practice and individual choice, is as inoffensive as Jewish Halakha or Roman Catholic canon law; but making a fundamentalist interpretation of it the basis for national law is a whole set of human rights crimes waiting to happen).

Note the irony. The same GOP politicians who denounce all US Muslims for allegedly wanting to impose sharia or Muslim law on all Americans are talking about the Syrian rebels who want a sharia society as “moderates” and “US allies” being targeted by Russia. (The allegation about American Muslims, who in my experience love the US constitution half to death, is incorrect).

When Wolf Blitzer interviewed Rep. Adam Schiff, he asked a leading question about the Russians attacking the “moderate rebels.” Schiff concurred that that was what Moscow was doing, and spoke of these forces as being backed by US allies in the Gulf. He did, however, veer off script by admitting that Russia is also attacking al-Qaeda in Syria. He complained, however, that Russia is not attacking Daesh/ ISIL.

Russia is, of course, occasionally bombing Daesh. But that organization mainly holds territory in the far east of the country away from the western population centers. It is Syrian al-Qaeda that holds a great deal of Idlib Province and spearheads the Army of Conquest coalition of Salafi jihadis who control the rest of Idlib Province.

So why is it objectionable that Russia is attacking an organization reporting to al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, who killed nearly 3,000 Americans in 2011? Or that Russia is attacking groups that have political or tactical alliance with al-Qaeda in Syria? Wouldn’t that make them like the Taliban in Afghanistan? Is the US wrong to bomb the latter, on the grounds that they were only allied with al-Qaeda?

And how can the same news hour report positively on the killing by American bombing of al-Qaeda’s al-Nasr and slam the Russians for bombing . . . al-Qaeda?

This isn’t news reporting. This is government propaganda.

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WORLD NEWS

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Consortiumnews.com

Some of our special stories in September focused on how the Syrian crisis careened out of control, how the Mideast troubles are now destabilizing Europe, how info-war manipulates public opinion, and how hypocrisy played out at the UN General Assembly.

Ukraine Rightists Kill Police; Putin Blamed by Robert Parry, Sep. 1, 2015

US/NATO Embrace Psy-ops and Info-War by Don North, Sep. 2, 2015

A Deflategate Slapdown of NFL and MSM by Robert Parry, Sep. 3, 2015

Dangerous Redefinition of ‘Terrorism’ by Robert Parry, Sep. 3, 2015

Muslim Memories of West’s Imperialism by William R. Polk, Sep. 4, 2015

Did Saudi King ‘Snub’ Obama on Iran? by Jonathan Marshall, Sep. 6, 2015

Israel’s Bitter Anti-Iran Fight” by Lawrence Davidson, Sep. 6, 2015

How Neocons Destabilized Europe” by Robert Parry, Sep. 7, 2015

More Incoherence in Syria Policy by Greg Maybury, Sep. 9, 2015

Madness of Blockading Syria’s Regime by Robert Parry, Sep. 10, 2015

CIA and the Drug Business by Douglas Valentine, Sep. 10, 2015

‘Regime Change’ Strategy Spreads Chaos by Nat Parry, Sep. 11, 2015

On Syria, Incoherence Squared by Daniel Lazare, Sep. 11, 2015

Neocons Blame Obama for Syria by Jonathan Marshall, Sep. 11, 2015

US War Theories Target Dissenters by Todd E. Pierce, Sep. 12, 2015

Who’s to Blame for Syria Mess? Putin! by Robert Parry, Sep. 13, 2015

US Intel Vets Decry CIA’s Use of Torture by Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, Sep. 14, 2015

A Challenge to Neoliberal Orthodoxy by Nicolas J S Davies, Sep. 14, 2015

Are Neocons an Existential Threat?” by Robert Parry, Sep. 15, 2015

US Confusion Over the Syrian War by Lawrence Davidson, Sep. 15, 2015

Neocons Babble Over Syria Crisis by Daniel Lazare, Sep. 16, 2015

Was Turkey Behind Syria Sarin Attack?” by Robert Parry, Sep. 16, 2015

*“The Crisis of ‘Regime Change Refugees’” by James Paul, Sep. 16, 2015

Solitary Confinement Under Attack by Marjorie Cohn, Sept. 16, 2015

Lost Lessons from a Toddler’s Death by Rick Sterling, Sep. 17, 2015

Obama’s Fateful Syrian Choice by Robert Parry, Sep. 18, 2015

A Moral Challenge for Pope Francis by Ray McGovern, Sep. 21, 2015

Will US Grasp Putin’s Syria Lifeline? by Robert Parry, Sep. 22, 2015

The Frantic Fear of Islam” by Nat Parry, Sep. 22, 2015

The Tempest Tost Syrian Refugees” by Marjorie Cohn, Sept. 23, 2015

Giving Up the Global-Cop Badge by Graham E. Fuller, Sep. 24, 2015

Decline of Western Ethnic States by Lawrence Davidson, Sep. 24, 2015

Obama’s Flak Demeans Putin’s Posture by Robert Parry, Sep. 25, 2015

Can Obama Lecture Xi on Human Rights? by Jonathan Marshall, Sep. 25, 2015

The Power of False Narrative by Robert Parry, Sep. 28, 2015

Obama’s True Foreign-Policy ‘Weakness’ by Robert Parry, Sep. 28, 2015

Value in Reading Others’ Propaganda by Graham E. Fuller, Sep. 29, 2015

Putin’s Judo Move in Syria by Daniel Lazare, Sep. 29, 2015

Obama’s Self-Deceit” by Joe Lauria, Sep. 29, 2015

More Anti-Russian Bias at the NYT by Jonathan Marshall, Sep. 30, 2015

Obama’s Ludicrous ‘Barrel Bomb’ Theme” by Robert Parry, Sep. 30, 2015

To produce and publish these stories – and many more – costs money. And except for some book sales, we depend on the generous support of our readers.

Posted in Politics, WorldComments Off on WORLD NEWS

Dirty Saudi Prince Avoids Felony Charges In Sex Assault Case

NOVANEWS
Dirty Majed Abdulaziz Al-Saud was arrested at a Beverly Glen residence last month for allegedly trying to force a female worker to perform a sex act on him. L.A. County prosecutors said Monday there wasn’t enough evidence to charge Al-Saud with a felony.

Dirty Majed Abdulaziz Al-Saud was arrested at a Beverly Glen residence last month for allegedly trying to force a female worker to perform a sex act on him. L.A. County prosecutors said Monday there wasn’t enough evidence to charge Al-Saud with a felony.

Los Angeles County prosecutors said Monday they will not file charges against the DIRTY Saudi prince arrested on suspicion of sexual assault at a compound on the edge of Beverly Hills, citing insufficient evidence.

DIRTY Majed Abdulaziz Al-Saud, 29, was arrested last month after a female worker accused him of trying to force her to perform a sex act on him inside a Beverly Glen residence he was renting, police said. Police alleged there were multiple victims, and within days of the DIRTY Al-Saud’s arrest three women sued him in civil court.

Although prosecutors said there was not enough evidence for felony charges, the case was referred to the L.A. city attorney’s office, which could charge him with a misdemeanor. Officials in that office said they would have to review the case before making any decisions.

DIRTY Al-Saud has said he was innocent, his attorney Alan Jackson said.

“The allegations against him are false,” Jackson said. “The decision by the D.A.’s office not to file charges shows that the accuser’s stories cannot be substantiated. The sheik is very happy to put it behind him and move on with his life.”

DIRTY Al-Saud has remained in Southern California, free on $300,000 bail, since his arrest Sept. 23, Jackson said. A court appearance scheduled for Monday did not occur because he wasn’t charged, officials said.

A civil lawsuit filed in L.A. County Superior Court on Sept. 25 says he attacked other women inside the home for several days.

The suit, filed by three women identified only as Jane Does, accuses him of “extreme,” “outrageous” and “despicable” behavior that ended in his arrest.

The women remain undeterred despite Monday’s announcement, their attorney, Van Frish, said.

“Generally, if someone doesn’t do something wrong, they don’t get arrested,” he said. “Just the simple human aspect of it, he could’ve apologized … for doing what he did.”

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and says that DIRTY Al-Saud inflicted emotional distress, assault and battery, sexual discrimination and retaliation against the workers.

DIRTY Al-Saud was detained by police for hours last month after a reported disturbance inside the compound, police said. After police interviewed other people inside the residence, they arrested DIRTY Al-Saud on suspicion of forcing oral copulation.

When officers arrived at the home, they found a “party atmosphere,” LAPD Lt. John Jenal said last month.

Neighbors reported seeing a bleeding woman screaming for help as she tried to scale an 8-foot-high wall that surrounds the property at the end of a cul-de-sac in the 2500 block of Wallingford Drive.

The home is in a gated community just outside Beverly Hills.

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Political Prisoner Dies Iin US Jail For Protesting Taxation

NOVANEWS
At the age of 87, Schiff was sentenced to 14 years in prison, and sadly, he just died just before his planned release.
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Last week, political prisoner Irwin Schiff died behind bars at the age of 87. He was serving multiple sentences related to his work protesting and challenging tax laws. Throughout his life, Schiff authored many books and ran for political office on several occasions. His final book, The FederalMafia: How the Government Illegally Imposes and Unlawfully Collects Income Taxes, became the only non-fiction book to be banned in America.

At the age of 87, Schiff was sentenced to 14 years in prison, and sadly, he just died just before his planned release.

In a recent statement, son Peter Schiff explained how his father’s condition worsened while he was in custody:

“The unnecessarily cruel twist in his final years occurred seven years ago when he reached his 80th birthday. At that point the government moved him from an extremely low security federal prison camp in New York State where he was within easy driving distance from family and friends, to a federal correctional institutes, first in Indiana and then in Texas. This was done specially to give him access to better medical care.  The trade off was that my father was forced to live isolated from those who loved him. Given that visiting him required long flights, car rentals, and hotel stays, his visits were few and far between. Yet while at these supposed superior medical facilities, my father received virtually no medical care at all, not even for the cataracts that left him legally blind, until the skin cancer on his head had spread to just about every organ in his body.

“At the time of his diagnosis in early August of this year, he was given four-to-six months to live. We tried to get him out of prison on compassionate release so that he could live out the final months of his life with his family, spending some precious moments with the grandchildren he had barely known.  But he did not live long enough for the bureaucratic process to be completed.”

While in prison, Schiff reportedly had his commissary money taken by the IRS, meaning he was unable to buy toothpaste and food items that he needed. The decision to force him to die in jail instead of allowing him to spend his final days with his family was criticized, even by people who did not agree with his work.

Posted in USA, LiteratureComments Off on Political Prisoner Dies Iin US Jail For Protesting Taxation

Libya: From Africa’s Wealthiest Democracy Under Gaddafi to Terrorist Haven After US Intervention

NOVANEWS
by GARIKAI CHENGU

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Tuesday marks the four-year anniversary of the US-backed assassination of Libya’s former leader, Muammar Gaddafi, and the decline into chaos of one of Africa’s greatest nations.

In 1967 Colonel Gaddafi inherited one of the poorest nations in Africa; by the time he was assassinated, he had transformed Libya into Africa’s richest nation. Prior to the US-led bombing campaign in 2011, Libya had the highest Human Development Index, the lowest infant mortality and the highest life expectancy in all of Africa.

Today, Libya is a failed state. Western military intervention has caused all of the worst-scenarios: Western embassies have all left, the South of the country has become a haven for ISIS terrorists, and the Northern coast a center of migrant trafficking. Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia have all closed their borders with Libya. This all occurs amidst a backdrop of widespread rape, assassinations and torture that complete the picture of a state that is failed to the bone.

Libya currently has two competing governments, two parliaments, two sets of rivaling claims to control over the central bank and the national oil company, no functioning national police or army, and the United States now believes that ISIS is running training camps across large swathes of the country.

On one side, in the West of the nation, Islamist-allied militias took over control of the capital Tripoli and other key cities and set up their own government, chasing away a parliament that was previously elected.

On the other side, in the East of the nation, the “legitimate” government dominated by anti-Islamist politicians, exiled 1,200 kilometers away in Tobruk, no longer governs anything. The democracy which Libyans were promised by Western governments after the fall of Colonel Gaddafi has all but vanished.

Contrary to popular belief, Libya, which western media routinely described as “Gaddafi’s military dictatorship” was in actual fact one of the world’s most democratic States.

Under Gaddafi’s unique system of direct democracy, traditional institutions of government were disbanded and abolished, and power belonged to the people directly through various committees and congresses.

Far from control being in the hands of one man, Libya was highly decentralized and divided into several small communities that were essentially “mini-autonomous States” within a State. These autonomous States had control over their districts and could make a range of decisions including how to allocate oil revenue and budgetary funds. Within these mini autonomous States, the three main bodies of Libya’s democracy were Local Committees, Basic People’s Congresses and Executive Revolutionary Councils.

The Basic People’s Congress (BPC), or Mu’tamar shaʿbi asāsi was essentially Libya’s functional equivalent of the House of Commons in the United Kingdom or the House of Representatives in the United States. However, Libya’s People’s Congress was not comprised merely of elected representatives who discussed and proposed legislation on behalf of the people; rather, the Congress allowed all Libyans to directly participate in this process. Eight hundred People’s Congresses were set up across the country and all Libyans were free to attend and shape national policy and make decisions over all major issues including budgets, education, industry, and the economy.

In 2009, Mr. Gaddafi invited the New York Times to Libya to spend two weeks observing the nation’s direct democracy. The New York Times, that has traditionally been highly critical of Colonel Gaddafi’s democratic experiment, conceded that in Libya, the intention was that “everyone is involved in every decision…Tens of thousands of people take part in local committee meetings to discuss issues and vote on everything from foreign treaties to building schools.”

The fundamental difference between western democratic systems and the Libyan Jamahiriya’s direct democracy is that in Libya all citizens were allowed to voice their views directly – not in one parliament of only a few hundred wealthy politicians – but in hundreds of committees attended by tens of thousands of ordinary citizens. Far from being a military dictatorship, Libya under Mr. Gaddafi was Africa’s most prosperous democracy.

On numerous occasions Mr. Gaddafi’s proposals were rejected by popular vote during Congresses and the opposite was approved and enacted as legislation.

For instance, on many occasions Mr. Gaddafi proposed the abolition of capital punishment and he pushed for home schooling over traditional schools. However, the People’s Congresses wanted to maintain the death penalty and classic schools, and the will of the People’s Congresses prevailed. Similarly, in 2009, Colonel Gaddafi put forward a proposal to essentially abolish the central government altogether and give all the oil proceeds directly to each family. The People’s Congresses rejected this idea too.

For over four decades, Gaddafi promoted economic democracy and used the nationalized oil wealth to sustain progressive social welfare programs for all Libyans. Under Gaddafi’s rule, Libyans enjoyed not only free health-care and free education, but also free electricity and interest-free loans. Now thanks to NATO’s intervention the health-care sector is on the verge of collapse as thousands of Filipino health workers flee the country, institutions of higher education across the East of the country are shut down, and black outs are a common occurrence in once thriving Tripoli.

Unlike in the West, Libyans did not vote once every four years for a President and an invariably wealthy local parliamentarian who would then make all decisions for them. Ordinary Libyans made decisions regarding foreign, domestic and economic policy themselves.

America’s bombing campaign of 2011 has not only destroyed the infrastructure of Libya’s democracy, America has also actively promoted ISIS terror group leader Abdelhakim Belhadj whose organization is making the establishment of Libyan democracy impossible.

The fact that the United States has a long and torrid history of backing terrorist groups in North Africa and the Middle East will surprise only those who watch the news and ignore history.

The CIA first aligned itself with extremist Islam during the Cold War era. Back then, America saw the world in rather simple terms: on one side the Soviet Union and Third World nationalism, which America regarded as a Soviet tool; on the other side Western nations and extremist political Islam, which America considered an ally in the struggle against the Soviet Union.

Since then America has used the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt against Soviet expansion, the Sarekat Islam against Sukarno in Indonesia and the Jamaat-e-Islami terror group against Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in Pakistan. Last but certainly not least there is Al-Qaeda.

Lest we forget, the CIA gave birth to Osama Bin Laden and breastfed his organization throughout the 1980’s. Former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told the House of Commons that Al Qaeda was unquestionably a product of western intelligence agencies. Mr. Cook explained that Al Qaeda, which literally means “the base” in Arabic, was originally the computer database of the thousands of Islamist extremists who were trained by the CIA and funded by the Saudis to defeat the Russians in Afghanistan. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) used to have a different name: Al Qaeda in Iraq.

ISIS is metastasizing at an alarming rate in Libya, under the leadership of one Abdelhakim Belhadj. Fox News recently admitted that Mr. Belhadj “was once courted by the Obama administration and members of Congress” and he was a staunch ally of the United States in the quest to topple Gaddafi. In 2011, the United States and Senator McCain hailed Belhadj as a “heroic freedom fighter” and Washington gave his organization arms and logistical support. Now Senator McCain has called Belhadj’s organization ISIS, “probably the biggest threat to America and everything we stand for.”

Under Gaddafi, Islamic terrorism was virtually non existent and in 2009 the US State Department called Libya “an important ally in the war on terrorism”.

Today, after US intervention, Libya is home to the world’s largest loose arms cache, and its porous borders are routinely transited by a host of heavily armed non-state actors including Tuareg separatists, jihadists who forced Mali’s national military from Timbuktu and increasingly ISIS militiamen led by former US ally Abdelhakim Belhadj.

Clearly, Gaddafi’s system of economic and direct democracy was one of the 21st century’s most profound democratic experiments and NATO’s bombardment of Libya may indeed go down in history as one of the greatest military failures of the 21st century.

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