Archive | November, 2015

Film review: American communist screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo

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By Fabian Van Onzin

Houston, TX – Jay Roach’s new movie,Trumbo, is an excellent film about the American communist screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo. The film is a biography of Trumbo’s life, his political commitments and the severe repression he faced during the U.S. government’s blacklisting campaign of Hollywood leftists in the 1950s. Unlike most Hollywood films, Trumbo paints communists in a very favorable light, showing that they were committed to the fight for social justice and the struggle to improve the lives of working people.

The film focuses particularly on the work of American communists in Los Angeles during the Cold War. It has a brief scene at the beginning that shows some of the work that communists did with artist unions in Hollywood and their attempts to organize the film industry, particularly with the Screenwriters Guild.

Spoiler alert. The rest of this article refers to specific events in the film.

The film begins with Dalton Trumbo at a film premier for which he wrote the screenplay. They show an anti-Communist newsreel, causing audience members to mistreat and discriminate against Trumbo – one person throws a glass of wine in his face and calls him a ‘traitor.’

The film highlights the incredible pain the anti-communist crusade caused Trumbo’s family and friends. It shows communists as warm, friendly people who really care about the needs of others, and who want to make the world a better place. Yet, because of anti-communist hysteria led by Senator Joe McCarthy and others, they face hostility wherever they go.

One scene was particularly charming, in which Trumbo’s daughter asks him, “Am I a communist?” to which he responds, “If you see a fellow classmate at school who doesn’t have anything to eat, what do you do? Do you help him, or do you charge him a loan?” She responds, “I would share my lunch with him.” Trumbo warmly responds with a smile, “Then you’re a communist.” In the film, his daughter becomes a committed political activist in the civil rights movement, finding deep inspiration in her father’s communist political commitment.

The film quickly progresses with the birth of the Cold War and the expansion of the House of Un-American Activities, and the Hollywood blacklists. Trumbo and his comrades, all who are screenwriters and part of a communist-led screenwriters’ guild in Hollywood, come under severe attack. They are subpoenaed and required to testify in front of an anti-communist judge.

Trumbo and his comrade Arlen wittily defend themselves and refuse to admit to committing any crime. Despite an intense campaign with the slogan, “Free the Hollywood 10” they are blacklisted, and both spend two years in prison, after being charged with ‘contempt of court.’

The film then focuses on their lives after imprisonment and the incredible difficulty they faced as a result of the Hollywood blacklist. Trumbo and his family have to sell their home and live in difficult financial conditions, receiving threats from their neighbors (they find “Get out” painted in red in their backyard). They are unable to find work with any producer, all who express anti-communist fears and thus refuse to employ them. As a result, they were forced to write scripts for producers for lower compensation, and could not attach their name to any of their screenplays.

Trumbo is particularly relevant today in its depiction of political repression of communists, given that repression is a growing reality today. Cases like those of Rasmea Odeh, Simon Trinidad, the Anti-War 23 (which includes the communists of Freedom Road Socialist Organization), along with thousands of instances of repression faced by Arabs and Muslims illustrate the need to build a broad united front that can push back against these attacks on our democratic rights.

The film’s message is clearly a denunciation of FBI repression of activists and shows communists are progressive fighters for the improvement of humanity. A good film for the holidays that accurately depicts American left-wing history, Trumbo is a great film, with good actors, cinematography and a fantastic screenplay.

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Alan Gross’s Improbable Tales on 60 Minutes

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By Matt Peppe 

In a dramatic segment on CBS News’ 60 Minutes titledThe Last Prisoner of the Cold War,” former United States Agency for International Development (USAID) subcontractor Alan Gross tells of horrifying experiences in captivity: “They threatened to hang me, they threatened to pull out my fingernails, they said I’d never see the light of day.”

Gross portrays a harrowing ordeal. He purports to have feared for his safety and his life, as if he was chained in a medieval dungeon at the whims of an arbitrary monarch. This description likely sounds credible to many Americans who view the Cuban government as their own government and media have portrayed it for the last 55 years: a totalitarian dictatorship with no respect for human rights or the rule of law.

The opportunistic Gross, who earned more than $500,000 from his work for USAID, undoubtedly understands that he could cash in on the American public’s preconceptions of Cuba by dramatizing his experience there. Perhaps this occurred to Gross during his imprisonment, when he told a second cousin that “when he comes back he’s going to have a big book deal.” One might even venture to guess his 60 Minutes interview might be an audition for such a pay day.

Such nightmarish conditions have certainly been documented in Cuba. Whistleblowers have described “sexual abuse by medical personnel, torture by other medical personnel, brutal beatings out of frustration, fear, and retribution … torturous shackling, positional torture” and other practices – in Guantanamo Bay, by U.S. military personnel on detainees kidnapped and held indefinitely without charges or due process.

In the rest of Cuba, which is governed by the Revolutionary regime, such stories are virtually unheard of. Professor and author Salim Lamrani compared human rights reports among Latin American countries and found many credible accusations of torture, but for Cuba he observed: “Not a single case of torture against prisoners is noted by Amnesty International. It has to be emphasised that of all the reports by Amnesty about the countries of Latin America, the report on Cuba is by far the least condemnatory.”

“Since the year 1959, there has not been one single case of extra-judicial execution, enforced disappearance or torture,” stated Maria Esther Reus, Minister of Justice of the Republic of Cuba, in the Cuban government’s presentation to the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review of the U.N. Human Rights Council. “The prison system constitutes an example of Cuba’s humanism. Cuba has developed programmes that are directed towards transforming prisons into schools. The goal is to ensure that human beings who have served their sentences are fully reintegrated into society.”

While the latest Amnesty report on Cuba notes that the government has not granted permission for a visit by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, Cuba is far from alone.

The U.N. Special Rapporteur himself noted in his latest report that the U.S. government had not allowed him access to the Guantanamo Bay detention center. Additionally, he has not been granted access to visit U.S. federal and state prisons. He did not mention the Cuban government at all in the report.

Gross’s Covert Mission

Narrating the 60 Minutes segment, Scott Pelley says, “Gross was hired by the U.S. Agency for International Development. USAID is America’s charity, delivering aid all around the world. But in Cuba its mission was different. USAID asked Gross to set up independent internet connections for the Jewish community. Only five percent of Cubans were online. But bypassing government censorship was illegal.”

Actually, according to the World Bank, 14.3 percent of Cubans had internet access in 2009  when Gross was imprisoned. This number has more than doubled over the last six years as the Cuban government has expanded internet access through programs such as public WiFi zones. Of course, this was done independently without any help from the U.S. government or subcontractors like Gross working on their behalf.

Pelley’s claim that Gross’s mission was merely to help the Jewish community in Cuba obtain internet access is easily debunked. During each of his five trips to Cuba, Gross traveled under a tourist visa and represented himself as a member of a Jewish humanitarian group, rather than an agent of the U.S. government. Jewish leaders in Cuba said they already had access to the internet, and were not aware of Gross’s connections to the U.S. government.

An Associated Press investigation discovered that Gross was well aware the misrepresentation of his activities in the country put him at serious risk. The AP quotes Gross saying that “(t)his is very risky business in no uncertain terms,” and “(d)etection of satellite signals will be catastrophic.”

Gross’s employer, Development Alternative, Inc. (DAI), had received a $28 million contract from USAID to carry out a democracy project in 2008. Tracey Eaton writes in his Along the Malecón blog that “Gross said in court documents he was coordinating some of his activities with the Pan American Development Foundation, or PADF, another organization that had received U.S. government funds to try to hasten Cuba’s transition to democracy.”

In a memo to DAI, Gross wrote that the “ICTs Para la Isla pilot project” was designed to “lay a practical groundwork (emphasis in original) that will facilitate and enable the better management of larger-scale and more comprehensive transition-to-democracy initiatives.” Therefore, Gross’s mission was clearly political, rather than humanitarian. His professed mission to help Jewish groups was merely a cover for his clandestine activities on behalf of a government whose official policy for more than half a century has been the replacement of the Revolutionary government in Cuba.

Gross was bringing into the country highly sophisticated computer equipment including satellite phones and a mobile phone chip to disguise satellite signals. Cuban law prohibits importing such equipment without legal authorization.

60 Minutes’ claim that “Cuban authorities locked (Gross) up for helping its citizens get unrestricted Internet access” is at best a vast oversimplification, if not an outright fabrication. In reality, Gross was convicted under Cuba’s Article 11 of Law 88, “Protection of National and Economic Independence.”

The law stipulates imprisonment of 3 to 8 years for anyone who “directly or through a third party, receives, distributes or participates in the distribution by financial means, materials or of another nature, proceeds of the Government of the United States, its agencies, dependencies, representatives, functionaries or other private entities.”

As Lamrani points out, “(t)his severity is not unique to Cuban legislation. US law prescribes similar penalties for this type of crime. The Foreign Agents Registration Act prescribes that any un-registered agent ‘who requests, collects, supplies or spends contributions, loans, money or any valuable object in his own interest’ may be liable to a sentence of five years in prison.”

Gross’s Detainment and Treatment By Cuban Authorities

Gross was held not in a regular prison but in a military hospital for the duration of his detainment. Cuban authorities not only took pains to ensure Gross was granted appropriate medical care, but were extremely accommodating to allow him time with his wife Judy.

It seems unlikely that Gross was abused or mistreated while serving his sentence. According to the Associated Press, Gross’s lawyer Jared Genser said Judy “arrived in Cuba on Sept. 5 (2012) and was allowed to visit her husband on four days, three at the military hospital and once at a guarded home near the capital. He said there is no sign that Gross is being ill-treated.” He also told the AP“(Gross) is being treated fine.”

Gross, who suffered from arthritis, lost significant weight while held in confinement and developed a mass in his shoulder. He was treated by Cuban medical staff, and there is no evidence poor conditions contributed to his medical issues.

New York rabbi and gastroenterologist Elie Abadie was allowed to visit Gross in the military hospital, where he determined “through the exam he personally performed and also through the extensive information supplied by the team of Cuban doctors who have attended (Gross)” that Gross was in a good state of health.

Gross petitioned to see his mother before she passed away from cancer, but as Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs official Josefina Vidal noted: “neither the Cuban penitentiary system nor the U.S. penitentiary system provide the possibility for inmates to travel abroad, no matter the reason.” The week after his mother died, Gross’s wife was allowed to visit him again in Cuba.

The Obama Administration’s Rejection of Cuba’s Humanitarian Proposal

In early 2014, Gross began a hunger strike because of what he called “mistruths, deceptions, and inaction by both governments … because of the lack of any reasonable or valid effort to resolve this shameful ordeal.” He ended his hunger strike a week later, stating he would not resume his protest “when both governments show more concern for human beings and less malice toward each other.”

Despite Gross assigning blame to both governments, there is ample evidence that the Cuban government made much more than a reasonable effort to resolve his case, while it was the U.S. government – alone – that refused do so.

Two years earlier in 2012, the highest ranking Cuban diplomat in Washington, Jorge Bolaños, had proposed a prisoner swap of Gross for the Cuban Five (more on them shortly). Bolaños expressed his government’s desire to “find a humanitarian solution to the case on a reciprocal basis.” But the Obama administration flatly said no, and continued to unilaterally demand Gross’s release without engaging the Cuban government on their offer.

On Dec. 17, 2014, the negotiated solution that freed Gross was the exact same deal the Cuban government had proposed three years earlier. It bears repeating that this offer was on the table all along and could have been agreed to by the Obama administration at any time.

If the agreement was fair last December, why was it not fair when it was first offered three years before? The U.S. government alone holds the blame – with Obama, as the head of his administration, owning the lion’s share – for rejecting a clearly reasonable offer that resulted in Gross remaining detained unnecessarily for two and a half extra years.

Without any controversy, the U.S. government could have secured his release before he developed health complications, before his mother died, and before he began his hunger strike. The U.S. government obstinately refused, continuously, for three years to even consider a deal that later appeared to be a no-brainer for both sides.

Faulting both governments for the delay in obtaining Gross’s release is asinine historical revisionism. It is merely an unmerited attempt to create a fictional balance based on the assumption that the U.S. government in its righteousness must be justified in its quarrels with other governments.

The Cuban Five

One cannot discuss the case of Alan Gross without at the same time discussing the aforementioned Cuban Five, who Gross was eventually swapped for. Unlike Gross, who was acting as a mercenary assisting the U.S. government carry out covert political operations, the members of the Cuban Five were fighting a very real threat of terrorism against the Cuban people emanating from the United States. Their operation was not in any way politically subversive, and did not interfere with the U.S. government’s sovereignty.

They were in Florida to infiltrate terrorist organizations and disrupt plots these groups were planning on Cuban territory. Thousands of Cubans have been killed by contra-revolutionary terrorism since 1959 by groups who enjoy safe haven inside the United States, including 73 people whose plane was blown up over the Caribbean in 1978 and an Italian man killed in a restaurant bombing in Havana in 1997. As author Stephen Kimber writes, if the roles were reversed and the Cuban Five were working for the U.S. government, they “would be American heroes.”

The Five – as they are known in their home country – were convicted on trumped up conspiracy charges. The group’s leader Gerardo Hernández was convicted on the most outrageous, unfounded charge of conspiracy to commit murder. He received two life sentences plus fifteen years.

By any objective comparison, the conditions the Cuban Five faced in confinement were far worse than those of Gross. Each member of the Five was held in solitary confinement for 17 months prior to trial. They spent nearly three years without being able to communicate with each other or their families. The U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded in 2005 that “the depravation of liberty of these five persons” was “arbitrary.”

Olga, the wife of René González, and Adriana, the wife of Hernández, were denied visas to visit their husbands for 10 years, until after the Cuban government allowed Judy Gross to visit her husband. The U.S. government had previously deemed the Cuban wives “a threat to the stability and national security of the United States.”

Amnesty International stated its concern “that such a blanket or permanent bar on visits with their wives constitutes additional punishment and is contrary to international standards for the humane treatment of prisoners and states’ obligation to protect family life.”

González, the first member of the group to be paroled, was freed after 13 years.

The three members of the Five who were released in December 2014 had spent more than 16 years each in prison. That is, more than three times longer than Gross.

Needless to say, 60 Minutes does not make this comparison between Gross and the Cuban Five. But 60 Minutes – a standard bearer of American journalism – does achieve an important function of the American Free Press: demonizing official enemies while keeping the microscope away from one’s own government, lest any inconvenient analysis might raise doubts about their inherent superiority and benevolence.

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Britain’s David Cameron wants to use bombs to prospect for gold in Syria

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By John Chuckman

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the British Labour Party, is a man of genuine integrity and honesty in his opposition to British bombing of Syria.

Indeed, he is everything the Prime Minister of Britain, David Cameron, is not.

I think we see from the storm in the British press against Corbyn just how much the establishment values integrity and honesty, which is to say, not at all.

Almost every word of Cameron’s on the subject of bombing is deliberately deceptive.

He is in fact an intimate part of “the club” which privately regards ISIS and other murdering rogues as tools to an end, and that end is to destroy Assad and turn Syria into a rump state. The club’s members always falsely describe the situation in Syria as a civil war rather than what it truly is, an invasion of a peaceful land by the creatures of outside powers.

They freely admit ISIS is horrible, innumerable propaganda videos having established the fact for the public, but they make no move to do something genuine about it. They portray the only man who is doing something to help Syria’s brave army, Vladimir Putin, as some kind of evil figure with dreams of empire. There is a stream of propaganda and lies about everything Russia does, from its cruise missiles hitting Iran to its planes bombing hospitals, all offered with zero evidence.

Cameron’s every word on Syria is inappropriate. A British Prime Minister has no business pronouncing on the legitimacy of this or that government, especially one supported by the majority of the country’s people, clans, and armed forces. Cameron himself, posing as some cheap knock-off defender of democracy, positively Churchillian in his own eyes, enjoys the support of about 35% of British voters.

Assad’s government has fought bravely against monsters shipped in by Turkey and supplied by Saudi Arabia, Israel, and America for years now, while David Cameron sat back and pontificated.

Assad is not an angel, but he runs a state with tolerance for all religious groups in a region where that is not common, and he has often been generous in helping those badly hurt by the likes of David Cameron – for example, the millions of refugees created by the criminal invasion of Iraq. The reason Assad is hated by Cameron and his associates in “the club” is his independent-mindedness in not following Washington’s dictates. Cameron functions as a noisy little lap dog yapping and snapping at anyone ignoring his master, always in expectation of another approving stroke on the head. It truly is that simple, and all the rest we read and hear is just noisy propaganda.

Washington and Tel Aviv are determined to see Assad gone. And you must ask yourself why that should be a shared goal of the two most violent societies on earth today, each of them in a state of perpetual war and oppression of millions.

Yes, Turkey and Saudi Arabia hate Assad, too, but they mostly do as they are told by Washington.

And remember, one of those countries, Turkey, is run by a lunatic who assassinates journalists and any Kurdish person he can get his hands on, and the other, Saudi Arabia, is run by a senile absolute monarch who regularly cuts off heads and crucifies people and is conducting an illegal war in Yemen, killing civilians daily.

Those are the characters with which David Cameron shares his bed.

What is really at stake here is virtually never discussed in public: the right of countries to exist in peace without outside interference from aggressive states like America and Israel. The United Nations should be in the forefront of demanding just that, but it has been reduced to servility through internal manipulations and threats, especially threats of withholding American financial support as was done some years back. Ban Ki-moon is perhaps the most ineffectual Secretary General in memory, sometimes sounding like a pope enjoining peace with no one listening.

Britain’s bombing in Syria would be just plain old-fashioned aggression adding to that already being done by ISIS, al-Nusra, and other cutthroats. We don’t know what targets Cameron has in mind, but he simply has no business in the country, and we can be sure that if he were sincere about only attacking terrorists, Syria would have welcomed him in its desperate fight. Cameron just keeps repeating, like an unpleasant child who thinks repetition makes something so, that the government of Syria must go.

The government of Syria has not sought Britain’s help, and contrary to arrogant people like David Cameron, Syria does indeed have a government, as legitimate as most in the world.

The only people doing any bombing with the permission of the government are the Russians, and they are supporting the only people doing any real fighting, the Syrian army.

This is not a small point for all those concerned about the rule of law, which you might think would be a prime concern for those who claim they oppose terror.

It took centuries to establish some rule of law in international affairs, and today states like America and Israel and Turkey ignore it completely.

Good old David Cameron wants to join the mob, getting his bit of attention.

And it can’t have escaped Cameron’s attention how handsomely the war criminal, Tony Blair, has been rewarded for doing his dirty part in tearing apart Iraq. He has been showered with gold and sinecures.

Wouldn’t it be natural for Cameron to expect a bit of that for dropping bombs on Syria?

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Nazi Gestapo invade homes and threaten families with nine children in Deir Istyia

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Deir Istyia, Occupied Palestine – Deir Istyia, in Salfit district, is a village of 4000 inhabitants who mostly live on agriculture. The Salfit district has 19 villages and 24 settlements. Land confiscation is ongoing in the area and many of the settlements are growing, as the road that connects them is widening.

The 3 families are now the only Palestinians living on the west side of the road.

The 3 families are now the only Palestinians living on the west side of the road.

Now three families, living in the outskirts of Deir Istyia (see photo), are under daily threats and harassment from the Nazi forces. They don’t know if the goal is to take over their land or just to try to make their lives so unbearable that they will themselves decide to move from the land on which they have been living peacefully for many generations.

It started in the beginning of October this year, where the soldiers started to come to the houses and harass the families, mainly at daytime. Often the women are alone with the children during the day while the men are working. Nazi forces have chosen this time to come to the houses and scare the families.  One of the women explained to us that the soldiers hit her, told her that the house wasn’t hers and that she soon would have to move away. They also told her that she was a terrorist, and that the soldiers would soon come back and shoot her.

Over the last 4 days the Nazi forces have been there day and night, telling the families that they have permission to stay on the roof of one of the houses. One night, they stayed all night and slept on the roof. They claim to have to watch the road and the surroundings, because of stone throwers, even though there hasn’t been any stone throwing in that area. Last Saturday, when the soldiers were there, they took pictures of the house and the yard.

Now, the children are very insecure, and their mothers don’t leave the houses as they are afraid of leaving them alone, a situation that makes them feel, as they describe it, as in prison. They can hear the soldiers walking around outside their houses and standing on the olive hill behind them at night.

Volunteers from International Solidarity Movement and International Women’s Peace Service will follow up on the situation of these families.

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Who is Right in Syria?

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US, Turkey, NATO Supporting ISIS and al-Qaeda – Supporting the Creation of Buffer Zones

By Dr. Lawrence Davidson 

Here is the situation in Syria as I see it : Russia is taking a long-range view and wants stability in post-ISIS Syria. France and the United States are taking the short-range view and really have no achievable plans for Syria’s future stability. Turkey appears to have given little thought to Syria’s future. Ankara may be willing to see indefinite chaos in Syria if it hurts the Assad regime on the one hand and the Kurds on the other.

Part I – Russia

The Russians may be the only party interested in the long-term political stability of Syria. There is certainly no doubt that President Putin is more determined than Western leaders to act on the fact that the various so-called moderate parties standing against the Assad regime cannot work together, and that this fault cannot be corrected by enticements from the United States. For the Russians, this fact makes the Damascus government the only source of future stability.

This understanding, and not Soviet-era nostalgia, has led Russia to support the Assad regime, which possesses a working government, a standing army, and the loyalty of every religious minority group in the country.

Some might object that both Assad and Putin are dictators and thugs (by the way, thugs in suits in the U.S. government are all too common). However, this cannot serve as a serious objection. The only alternative to Damascus’s victory is perennial civil war fragmenting the country into warlord zones. With the possible exception of Israel, this scenario is in no one’s interest, although it seems that the leaders of in Washington and Paris are too politically circumscribed to act on this fact.

 Part II – U.S. and France

Thus, it would appear that neither the U.S. nor France really cares about Syria as a stable nation. Once the present military capacity of ISIS is eliminated, Washington and Paris may well clandestinely continue to support a low-level civil war against the Assad regime. In this effort they will have the help of Turkey, the Kurds and Israel. The result will be ongoing decimation of the Syrian population and fragmentation of its territory.

As if to justify U.S. strategy, President Obama, with French President Hollande by his side, recently  boasted that the United States stood at the head of a “65-country coalition” fighting terrorism in Syria. However, this is a hollow claim. Most of these countries are coalition members in name only, and some of them, like Saudi Arabia and the Gulf state governments, play a double game. And then Obama dismissed Russia and Iran as “outliers” and “a coalition of two.” Yet those two countries are the Syrian nation’s best hope for future stability.

The fact is that U.S. policy in Syria has been a losing proposition from the beginning just because of its hostility to the Assad government. Despite its air campaign against ISIS, Washington has no ground component nor any answer to the political vacuum in Syria. Both missing parts are to be found in an alliance with Damascus.

Refusal to make that alliance has also opened Washington to building neoconservative political pressure to increase U.S. military presence in the area. However, American “boots on the ground” in Syria is both a dangerous option as well as an unnecessary one. Syrian government boots can do the job if they are properly supported. The support has come from Russia, Iran and Hezbollah. It is the United States and its coalition who are the “outliers.”

Part III – Turkey

It is not easy to explain Turkey’s animosity toward Damascus. Prior to the civil war in Syria, the two countries had good relations. Then something changed. It may have been something as foolish as President Erdogan’s taking personal offense against President Assad because the latter chose to heed the advice of Iran rather than Turkey at the beginning of the war. Whatever happened, it sent Ankara off on an anti-Assad crusade.

That anti-Assad mindset is probably the backstory to the recent reckless Turkish decision to shoot down a Russian warplane operating in support of Syrian government troops close to the Turkish border.

The Turks say that the Russian jet strayed into Turkish airspace. The Russians deny this. The Turks claim that they tried to communicate with the Russian plane to warn it away. When it did not respond, they destroyed it. Of late the Turkish Prime Minister,Ahmet Davutoglu, has said that Ankara “didn’t know the nationality of the plane that was brought down … until Moscow announced it was Russian.” This statement is frankly unbelievable given that Davutoglu followed it up with an admission that Turkey had complained to Russian about military flights in this exact border area. He also asserted that both Russian and Syrian operations in this region of northern Syria should stop because ISIS has no presence there. This assertion makes no sense, since Damascus’s aim is to reassert government authority by the defeat of armed rebels regardless of their organizational affiliation.

It is hard to say whether the Turks are telling the truth about an incursion into their airspace. Most of their evidence, such as recorded Turkish warnings to the Russian plane, is easily fabricated. However, in the end it does not really matter if the plane crossed the border. There was no need to shoot it down.

If the Russian jet strayed into Turkish airspace, there would have been a range of options. The Turks could be very sure that the Russian plane had no hostile intention toward their country, and they should have assumed, for the sake of minimizing any consequences, that no provocation was meant on the part of the Russia. In other words, they should have acted as if the alleged overflight was a mistake. The Turks could have then shadowed the Russian plane in a way that coaxed it back into Syrian airspace and followed the incident up with a formal protest to Moscow. Instead they made the worst possible choice and shot the plane down. Now both Ankara and Washington are shouting about Turkey’s right to defend its territory despite the fact that the Russian plane never posed any threat.

 Part IV – Conclusion

In all of the bloodshed, population displacement and terror that has accompanied the Syrian civil war, the least-considered party has been the Syrian people and their future. ISIS, or at least its present infrastructure, will ultimately be destroyed. However, while that destruction is necessary, it is an insufficient outcome because it fails to provide long-term stability. Right now that vital ingredient can only be supplied by the reimposition of order by Damascus. The folks in Washington, Paris and Ankara might not like that, but they are not the ones facing a future of anarchy. And indeed, the more they stand in the way of Damascus, the more chaos they will help create.

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Illegal Nazi Jewish settlers threaten to burn family living at edge of Palestinian village

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International Solidarity Movement 

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Madama, Occupied Palestine – Earlier today, November 28th, a group of Israeli illegal settlers, in the presence of three Israeli soldiers, threatened to burn down a family in the village of Madama, occupied West Bank.

At noon, 25 settlers from the nearby settlement of Yitzhar trespassed the land of the Palestinian village Madama. Once they had reached the outskirts of the village they started yelling and threatening a family.

The family, which previously had problems with settlers from Yitzhar, includes 9 children and an additional child is expected within two months.

The settlers, some of whom were armed with rifles, were standing within 100-150 metres from the family’s house when they were yelling at the family. The illegal settlers were threatening the family with facing the same end as the Dawasheh family, referring to a previous attack this year where a settler firebombed a Palestinian family. 18 month old Ali Dawasheh was burned alive and both his parents later succumbed from the arson attack, leaving 4 year old Ahmed as the only surviving member of the family.

The settlers today also yelled at the family that they would be the next Mohammed Abu Khdeir. Mohammed was only 16 years old when he was kidnapped outside his house in the neighborhood of Shuafat, East Jerusalem. The kidnappers, later found out to be Jewish Israeli nationalists, beat him up and forced him to drink gasoline before finally burning him alive, from the inside out.

After today’s attack, the family in Madama is feeling even more insecure. Due to repeated attacks by the settlers the family recently got founding from the authorities to put up a barb wire fence, surrounding the house. And the father of the family has put a cover on the windows to protect his family from potential rocks thrown by the settlers.

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Syrian Army Fired Upon by Mortars From Turkish Territory

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Sputnik 
Turkey fired a number of mortar bombs toward Syrian army positions, the Syrian army spokesman said Saturday.

“Last night, there was intense mortar fire on Syrian government forces’ positions fire from the Mount Jebel Aqra area, which is on the Turkish side,” Brigadier General Ali Mayhoub said during a press briefing.

“Commander-in-chief of the Syrian Arab Army [President Bashar Assad] warns of the dangers of such behavior,” the spokesman added.

Damascus urges the international community to force Turkey to stop supporting terrorists, directly and indirectly, as well as to stop buying illegal oil from them, he said.

“Taking advantage of the fact the border [between Syria and Turkey] is de-facto controlled by terrorists Ankara without obstruction supplies them with weapons and other resources for their criminal activity,” the spokesperson told journalists.

“Commander-in-chief of the Syrian Arab Army warns of the dangers of such behavior and urges the international community to exert maximum pressure on the leadership of the Turkish Republic with the aim of forcing them to abandon the direct and indirect support for international terrorism,” he stressed.

According to Mayhub, in exchange for military support, the Turkish leadership receives “from international criminals oil at bargain prices, cultural treasures looted by bandits in the museums of Syria and Iraq, and other contraband.”

“Motor vehicles form Turkey can reach the areas seized by the terrorists without any control or checks while the Syrian authorities temporarily have no control over the border,” the Syrian general said.

“Humanitarian convoys which the Turkish government reported are a myth. It is used to help legalize supplies for terrorists and to successfully move wounded and ill militants to Turkish hospitals.”

Moreover, the spokesperson said that “the border has become transparent due to the Turkish government. That also lets terrorists reach other European countries to commit numerous atrocities there.”

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Syrian Army Fired Upon by Mortars From Turkish Territory

Turkey’s True Goals in Syria are Much More Than Just Oil and Money

NOVANEWS
Sputnik 

Turkey playing dirty in Syria is no secret. The true goal Ankara is pursuing in Syria is becoming a regional power and the country that rules the Sunni Muslim world, journalist Riccardo Peliliccetti wrote for his article in Il Giornale.

Over the course of his 20 years of ruling Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has Islamized the country and launched a policy of expansionism. It is obvious that Erdogan’s goal is to turn northern Syria – between Aleppo and Latakia – into the 82nd Turkish province, the article read, and now he is playing the card of Turkmen living in the region.

Erdogan insists on military intervention in Syria which would help him neutralize the so-called “Shiite axis” comprising Iran, Syria and Hezbollah.

“This may be the very beginning of a conflict between Turkey and Iran. Tehran is responsible for [Syrian President Bashar] Assad’s strategy. Assad as well as Hezbollah is very important to Iran. This is the Shiite axis. Russia came to Syria to support Assad, and then Turkey shot down a Russian jet. It may lead to a war between Turkey and Iran,” political analyst Edward Luttwack was quoted as saying in the article.

For the last four years, Turkey has been making efforts to topple Assad, including financing terrorists and the guerilla war against Damascus. Turkish airports are filled with foreign troops ready to be deployed to Syria. Turkey has attacked the Kurds who fight against the Islamic State (ISIL) terrorist group instead of fighting its militants, the author wrote. What is more, Turkey buys smuggled oil from ISIL for $15-20 a barrel, and then re-sells it at a double the price.

Nevertheless, the strong Shiite axis and particularly the Russian offensive in Syria have shattered Erdogan’s dreams of an empire and kept Assad in power.

After the Russian Su-24 bomber was downed, Erdogan said that Turkey did it to protect itself and its “brothers” in Syria.

He meant Turkmen, of course, but also terrorist groups sponsored by Ankara, many of which have pledged allegiance to ISIL, the author pointed out.

At the Vienna conference in late-October Russia asked the Sunni axis – Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar – to make up a list of moderate opposition figures for talks with Assad. As a result, Ankara removed their protégés from the list of terrorists to let them participate in the talks.

However, Russian President Vladimir Putin will not allow the breakdown of Syria, an ally to Russia, the article read.

Now, it looks like Turkey is looking for a reason to start a war, using NATO for its own interests, according to the article.

The author cited words by German General Harald Kujat who warned of such a scenario a year ago.

“Turkey wants to drag NATO into this war since its goal is to topple Assad. ISIL and the Kurds are not that important. An ally which acts this way should not be respected in the alliance,” Kujat said.

Luttwak confirmed the assumption, saying: “Turkey betrayed NATO when it refused to cooperate and bought oil from ISIL. Ankara made ISIL powerful. While the US is sending weapons to Kurds who fight ISIL Turkey is bombing them. For NATO, having Turkey as an ally is worse than having it as an enemy,” he concluded.

Posted in Syria, TurkeyComments Off on Turkey’s True Goals in Syria are Much More Than Just Oil and Money

NATO’s Terror Convoys Halted At Syrian Border

NOVANEWS

nato-eagle-background

By Tony Cartalucci

For years, NATO has granted impunity to convoys packed with supplies bound for ISIS and Al Qaeda. Russian airstrikes have stopped them dead in their tracks. If a legitimate, well-documented aid convoy carrying humanitarian supplies bound for civilians inside Syria was truly destroyed by Russian airstrikes, it is likely the world would never have heard the end of it.

Instead, much of the world has heard little at all about a supposed “aid” convoy destroyed near Azaz, Syria, at the very edge of the Afrin-Jarabulus corridor through which the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) and Al Qaeda’s remaining supply lines pass, and in which NATO has long-sought to create a “buffer zone” more accurately described as a Syrian-based, NATO-occupied springboard from which to launch terrorism deeper into Syrian territory.

The Turkish-based newspaper Daily Sabah reported in its article,Russian airstrikes target aid convoy in northwestern Syrian town of Azaz, 7 killed,” claims:

At least seven people died, 10 got injured after an apparent airstrike, reportedly by Russian jets, targeted an aid convoy in northwestern Syrian town of Azaz near a border crossing with Turkey on Wednesday.

Daily Sabah also reported:

Speaking to Daily Sabah, Serkan Nergis from the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) said that the targeted area is located some 5 kilometers southwest of the Öncüpınar Border Crossing.

Nergis said that IHH has a civil defense unit in Azaz and they helped locals to extinguish the trucks. Trucks were probably carrying aid supplies or commercial materials, Nergis added.

Daily Sabah’s report also reveals that the Turkish-Syrian border crossing of Oncupinar is held by what it calls “rebels.” The border crossing of Oncupinar should be familiar to many as it was the scene of Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle’s (DW) investigative report where DW camera crews videotaped hundreds of trucks waiting at the border, bound for ISIS territory, apparently with full approval of Ankara.

The report was published in November of 2014, a full year ago, and revealed precisely how ISIS has been able to maintain its otherwise inexplicable and seemingly inexhaustible fighting capacity. The report titled, ‘IS’ supply channels through Turkey,” included a video and a description which read:

Every day, trucks laden with food, clothing, and other supplies cross the border from Turkey to Syria. It is unclear who is picking up the goods. The haulers believe most of the cargo is going to the “Islamic State” militia. Oil, weapons, and soldiers are also being smuggled over the border, and Kurdish volunteers are now patrolling the area in a bid to stem the supplies.

The report, and many others like it, left many around the world wondering why, if the US is willing to carry out risky military operations deep within Syrian territory to allegedly “fight ISIS,” the US and its allies don’t commit to a much less riskier strategy of securing the Turkish-Syrian border within Turkey’s territory itself – especially considering that the United States maintains an airbase, training camps, and intelligence outposts within Turkish territory and along the very border ISIS supply convoys are crossing over.

Ideally, NATO should have interdicted these supply convoys before they even crossed over into Syria – arresting the drivers and tracking those who filled the trucks back to their source and arresting them as well. Alternatively, the trucks should have been destroyed either at the border or at the very least, once they had entered into Syria and were clearly headed toward ISIS-occupied territory.

That none of this took place left many to draw conclusions that the impunity granted to this overt logistical network was intentional and implicated NATO directly in the feeding of the very ISIS terrorists it claimed to be “fighting.”

Russia Steps In

Obviously, any nation truly interested in defeating ISIS would attack it at its very source – its supply lines. Military weaponry may have changed over the centuries, but military strategy, particularly identifying and severing an enemy’s supply lines is a tried and true method of achieving victory in any conflict.

Russia, therefore, would find these convoys a natural target and would attempt to hit them as close to the Syrian-Turkish border as possible, to negate any chance the supplies would successfully reach ISIS’ hands. Russian President Vladmir Putin noted, regarding the Azaz convoy in particular, that if the convoy was legitimately carrying aid, it would have been declared, and its activities made known to all nations operating military aircraft in the region.

The trucks hit in the recent airstrikes, just as they were during the DW investigation, were carrying concrete and steel, not “milk and diapers” as the West would lead audiences to believe. That the supplies were passing through a “rebel” controlled crossing means that the supplies were surely headed to “rebel” controlled territory – either Al Qaeda’s Al Nusra Front in the west, or ISIS in the east.

Russian airstrikes insured that the supplies reached neither.

Strangling NATO’s Terrorists at the Border

Russia’s increased activity along the Syrian-Turkish border signifies the closing phases of the Syrian conflict. With Syrian and Kurdish forces holding the border east of the Euphrates, the Afrin-Jarabulus corridor is the only remaining conduit for supplies bound for terrorists in Syria to pass. Syrian forces have begun pushing east toward the Euphrates from Aleppo, and then will move north to the Syrian-Turkish border near Jarabulus. Approximately 90-100 km west near Afrin, Ad Dana, and Azaz, it appears Russia has begun cutting off terrorist supply lines right at the border. It is likely Syrian forces will arrive and secure this region as well.

For those that have criticized Russia’s air campaign claiming conflicts can’t be won from the air without a ground component, it should be clear by now that the Syrian Arab Army is that ground component, and has dealt ISIS and Al Qaeda its most spectacular defeats in the conflict.

When this corridor is closed and supplies cut off, ISIS, Nusra, and all associated NATO-backed factions will atrophy and die as the Syrian military restores order across the country. This may be why there has been a sudden “rush” by the West to move assets into the region, the impetus driving the United States to place special forces into Syrian territory itself, and for Turkey’s ambush of a Russian Su-24 near the Syrian-Turkish border.

What all of this adds up to is a clear illustration of precisely why the Syrian conflict was never truly a “civil war.” The summation of support for militants fighting against the Syrian government and people, has come from beyond Syria’s borders. With that support being cut off and the prospect of these militants being eradicated, the true sponsors behind this conflict are moving more directly and overtly to salvage their failed conspiracy against the Syrian state.

What we see emerging is what was suspected and even obvious all along – a proxy war started by, and fought for Western hegemonic ambitions in the region, intentionally feeding the forces of extremism, not fighting them.

Posted in Russia, Syria, TurkeyComments Off on NATO’s Terror Convoys Halted At Syrian Border

Colombian President Expresses Concern Over Killing in Venezuela

NOVANEWS

Colombia
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos’ country is home to the most politically moti-vated killings in Latin America, but like his close ally, the United States, he wouldprefer to talk about Venezuela.

"What happened in Venezuela of course deserves the condemnation of the whole world,” Santos said Friday during a visit to Monteria in Northern Colombia. “This murder has no justification, we hope the case is investigated thoroughly and those responsible
are tried. We hope that the upcoming elections will not lead to violence. Venezuela
needs transparent elections without violence.”

Venezuelan opposition politician Luis Manuel Diaz was shot dead Wednesday while on   the campaign trail. Reports suggest a man with a gun approached the stage after a    public meeting Diaz had been speaking at.

The Venezuelan government is currently investigating the killing.

While any death is deplorable, Santos’ linking of Diaz’s death with the Dec. 6 parli-amentary elections in Venezuela is not only premature—there is no evidence as yet    that it was a politically motivated killing—but rich for a president of a country    where politicians, particularly those on the left,are routinely threatened and killed.

In the lead-up to Colombia’s last elections in October, no less than seven candidateswere murdered, while another 157 politicians were threatened with violence.

RELATED: Violence and Fraud Put Colombian Elections at Risk

Violence has been a constant threat in the buildup to elections in Colombia. During  Colombia's 2011 regional elections, 41 politicians were killed; in the 2007, 21 candidates were killed; and in 2003, no fewer than 29 candidates were killed, according toa tally from the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo.Such electoral violence has been goingon for years. In 1990, Colombia saw the high-profile killing of leftist politician   Bernardo Jaramillo Ossa.The Patriotic Union’s presidential candidate was shot in coldblood in Bogota while campaigning, one of hundreds of the party’s members killed for daring to challenge the right at the ballot box.

ANALYSIS: Colombia's Patriotic Union: A Victim of Political Genocide

The myriad of murders and violence in Colombia throughout the years has gone largely unnoticed by mainstream media, however, with news outlets and Santos himself choosing to focus on Venezuela instead.

John Kirby, for instance, a U.S.State Department spokesperson, said the death of Diaz“was the deadliest of several recent attacks and acts of intimidation aimed at oppos-ition candidates.”

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez has condemned those comments, calling the attempt to link the murder “with Venezuela’s electoral process” a product of “despe-ration and bad faith.”

PSUV leader Jorge Rodriguez holds up an image of Luis Manuel Diaz who was killed in  undetermined circumstances, Caracas, Venezuela, Nov. 26, 2015. | Photo: AVN

The unstated implication, from the U.S. and Santos alike, is that the killing of Diazhas something to do with Venezuela’s ruling leftist government, which has noted that it would have little to gain from making a martyr of a minor opposition figure.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro opened a speech at a rally on Friday by reaffirm-ing his government’s commitment to investigate the murder.

ANALYSIS: What the Media Won't Admit About the Venezuelan Opposition Death

That commitment stands in contrast to Colombia, at least according to human rights   organizations.

“In Colombia, nominally Latin America's oldest democracy, the rule of law continues  to be weak and impunity reigns,” states Amnesty International. Indeed, “A culture of impunity, in which human rights abuses like displacement, targeting killings, and    disappearances remain unpunished, has existed in Colombia for decades. Impunity, more than any other factor, has been responsible for prolonging the human rights crisis.”

While Santos’ concern for Venezuela’s democracy is noted, it would seem he has some  work to do in his own country.

​WATCH: Venezuela: UNASUR Calls for Probe Into Politician's Murder

Posted in North AmericaComments Off on Colombian President Expresses Concern Over Killing in Venezuela

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