Archive | January 1st, 2016

NEW YEAR, 2016

NOVANEWS

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Teresinka Pereira

 

It is important to perform

cheerfully the ritual passage

from one year to the next.

Reveillon does not bring

any mystery, and is not

an invasion of our lives

with something unknown.

The future we have made

and will go on making

according to the courage

with which we invest the time

and aspiration of giving

to ourselves and to the people

we love, understanding,

and an opportunity to feel

productive and of service

to humanity causes. May

2016 be very generous

with good deeds, love,

and recognition to you!

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Washington Shelves New Sanctions Against Iran

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Sputnik

The US government prepared sanctions against Iran because of its ballistic missile defence program, but has now postponed their implementation, the US press reported on Wednesday.

The Obama administration is still intent on punishing Iran for developing the missiles, which it allegedly tested earlier this month. However, sanctions in connection with the ballistic missile program have been delayed, according to US officials.

​​On Wednesday the US Treasury announced a list of companies and individuals in Iran, the UAE and Hong Kong that are to be targeted by sanctions because they are alleged to have assisted Iran in the development of the missiles. The sanctions would freeze the US-held assets of those entities, and forbid US companies from trading with sanctioned firms.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani called the sanctions an example of the US’ “hostile policies and illegal meddling,” and instructed Iran’s Defence Ministry to step up the development of the missiles.

​Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari on Thursday stressed that Iran’s missile program is for purely defensive purposes, and is only capable of firing conventional rockets, not nuclear warheads.

​“As the US officials have mentioned before, [the Iranian] missile program is not related to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),” said Jaber Ansari.

“There is nothing to prevent Iran from pursuing its legitimate right to reinforce its defensive strength and national security.”

In July the Iranian government and the P5+1 group of countries reached a deal on Iran’s nuclear program, in which Iran agreed to restrictions on its capability to enrich uranium in return for the eventual lifting of economic sanctions.

Last week Iran shipped nine tons of low-enriched uranium to Russia as part of the deal, and in return received 137 tons of natural uranium for use in nuclear energy reactors.

December 9, 2015:

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Losing Ground: 2015 Proved a ‘Lost Year’ for Turkey

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Sputnik 

In an interview with CNBC, Unicredit Bank AG’s Chief Economist for Central and Eastern Europe Lubomir Mitov said that Ankara could derive enormous benefit from the situation in Europe and capitalize on low oil prices, but instead it had lost all its economic advantages, quarreled with all its neighbors, and spoiled ties with Russia.

According to Mitov, 2015 was a “lost year” for Turkey, which missed many opportunities because of the deterioration of the geopolitical situation.

He said that in particular, Turkey could have “benefited tremendously” from the current situation in Europe, where the Central Bank has  increased asset purchases to try to keep the economy afloat. Still, those gains were never achieved due to internal political strife and geopolitics, Mitov recalled.

“Turkey is underperforming [and] has been underperforming for the full year…it’s even underperforming after the elections,” he said.

He also pointed out that “Turkey is probably 3 to 4 percent weaker than it should have been after the elections, but for these geopolitical problems.”

Even though the previous government tried to develop friendly relations with its neighboring states, Turkey now has “almost no neighbors left, according to Mitov, who recalled that Ankara earlier sparked rows with Iraq, Egypt and Syria.

The situation is further exacerbated by Turkey’s increased tensions in relations with Russia after Ankara’s downing of the Russian Su-24 bomber. In response, “Moscow clamped down on agricultural imports, set stringent visa limits, and restricted tourism to Turkey,” according to Mitov.

He was echoed by Peter Toogood, an investment director at City Financial Investment Company Limited, who was quoted by CNBS as saying that a lack of structural reforms has stopped Turkey from capitalizing on “the full benefits of economic boons like low oil prices.”

“The lira continues to decline, it has had no meaningful impact … the oil price has come down, [and] it should be the absolute example of a beneficiary, and it hasn’t been,” Toogood said.

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Venezuelan Supreme Court OKs Challenge to Electoral Results in 3 States

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teleSUR 

The electoral chamber of the Venezuelan Supreme Court accepted Wednesday a request to challenge and analyze the results of the Dec. 6 parliamentary elections in the states of Amazonas, Yaracuy, and Aragua, as well as one of the seats reserved for indigenous peoples.

The decision by electoral chamber, which was published on the website of the Supreme Court, also accepted a request for an emergency precautionary measure in one state. In six of the seven challenges brought forward, the court rejected the request for a precautionary measure, effectively an injunction.

​However in the case of the election results for the state of Amazonas, the court ordered the “temporary and immediate suspension” of proclamations by the National Electoral Council, Venezuela’s electoral body.

The precautionary measure affects all results in the state of Amazonas, including those elected by party list and by electoral district, as well as the seat reserved for indigenous peoples for the “southern region” of the country, for a total of four seats.

The challenge in the state of Amazonas was brought forward by Nicia Marina Maldonado, a candidate in the state for the United Socialist Party of Venezuela. The case will be followed up by Justice Indira Maira Alfonzo Izaguirre.

The results in the state of Amazonas saw two members of the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable and one member of the socialist party elected to the National Assembly. The candidate for indigenous peoples in the “southern region” is also affiliated with the opposition.

In all seven challenges, a justice will review the voting process and the tabulation of votes to determine if the result was legitimate. The electoral chamber of the Supreme Court has called on the National Electoral Council to provide the necessary documentation.

Though the court decision did not specify the reasons for upholding the challenge, some Venezuelan leaders have made allegations about vote buying in certain districts.

Wednesday’s decision does not immediately annul the results in the aforementioned states, however the court could ultimately annul the results of it deems the process illegitimate and could call for fresh elections in those states.

In the case of the results for the state of Amazonas, the precautionary measure will temporarily prevent the four candidates from being sworn in on January 5, 2016 when the new National Assembly takes office.

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Is WP’s Cohen Dumbest Columnist?

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By Robert Parry 

Granted it would be quite a competition, but is Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen the dumbest columnist ever?

For instance, in his June 19, 2007 op-ed, Cohen joined the neoconservative media riot over the 30-month jail sentence facing former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

From reading the column, it does appear that Cohen has the skills at least to master and recite the litany of talking points that the neocons have compiled to make their case about the injustice of Libby going into the slammer for committing perjury and obstruction of justice.

Cohen accuses special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald of violating longstanding Justice Department guidelines on when to bring a case; he denounces the trial – over Libby’s lying about his role in unmasking covert CIA officer Valerie Plame – as “a mountain out of a molehill”; he asserts that there was no “underlying crime”; he even pokes fun at Americans who thought the invasion of Iraq might have been a bad idea.

“They thought – if ‘thought’ can be used in this context – that if the thread was pulled on who had leaked the identity of Valerie Plame to Robert D. Novak, the effort to snooker an entire nation into war would unravel and this would show . . . who knows? Something,” Cohen wrote.

Yet, beyond a talent for reprising the conventional wisdom from Washington dinner parties, it is hard to tell what justifies Cohen’s long career as a political columnist. On nearly every major development over the past couple of decades, Cohen has missed the point or gotten it dead wrong.

For example, during the Florida recount battle in 2000, Cohen cared less about whom the voters wanted in the White House than the Washington insiders’ certainty that George W. Bush would be a uniter, not a divider.

“The nation will be in dire need of a conciliator, a likable guy who will make things better and not worse,” Cohen wrote. “That man is not Al Gore. That man is George W. Bush.”

Cohen also joined the Washington herd in the disastrous stampede for invading Iraq. After Secretary of State Colin Powell’s deceptive Iraq War speech to the United Nations on Feb. 5, 2003, Cohen mocked anyone who still dared doubt that Saddam Hussein possessed hidden WMD stockpiles.

“The evidence he [Powell] presented to the United Nations – some of it circumstantial, some of it absolutely bone-chilling in its detail – had to prove to anyone that Iraq not only hasn’t accounted for its weapons of mass destruction but without a doubt still retains them,” Cohen wrote. “Only a fool – or possibly a Frenchman – could conclude otherwise.”

Misplaced Enthusiasm

It took Cohen another three years before he recognized that his enthusiasm for the war had been misplaced.

On April 4, 2006, as the U.S. death toll reached into the thousands and the Iraqi death toll soared into the tens of thousands, Cohen wrote, “those of us who once advocated this war are humbled. It’s not just that we grossly underestimated the enemy. We vastly overestimated the Bush administration.”

In normal work settings, incompetence – especially when it is chronic and has devastating consequences – justifies dismissal or at least demotion, maybe a desk in Storage Room B where Cohen could sit with his red stapler, but without access to a word processor.

Yet, in the strange world of Washington punditry, success is measured not in being right but in keeping one’s opinion within the parameters of the capital’s respectable opinions, even if those judgments are atrociously wrong.

As for the Plame case, Cohen seems to be living in the propaganda dreamscape of the still-influential neocons, not in the real world where the disclosure of Plame’s identity caused actual damage, destroying her undercover career as a CIA officer and putting in jeopardy the lives of foreigners who worked with her investigating weapons proliferation.

Plus, the motive behind the leaking of Plame’s identity was not “gossip,” as Cohen asserts, but a White House-orchestrated campaign to punish her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, for telling the truth about his 2002 fact-finding mission to Africa. Wilson’s findings helped the U.S. intelligence community debunk false claims about Iraq attempting to buy yellowcake uranium from Africa.

Despite warnings from the CIA, however, President George W. Bush cited Iraq’s supposed uranium shopping during his 2003 State of the Union Address, making it a key part of the case to invade Iraq.

When Wilson went public with his story in July 2003, the Bush administration sought to discredit him by suggesting that his Africa trip was just a junket arranged by his CIA wife. One White House official told a reporter from the Washington Post that the administration had informed at least six reporters about Plame.

The official said the disclosure was “purely and simply out of revenge.” That was a revelation that special prosecutor Fitzgerald corroborated in his investigation.

Libby’s Role

Also, contrary to Cohen’s column, Libby, as Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, was a central figure in this anti-Wilson smear campaign. Libby briefed two reporters – Judith Miller and Matthew Cooper – about Plame’s identity and brought press secretary Ari Fleischer into the leak operation.

Though it turned out that other senior administration officials, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and his friend, White House political adviser Karl Rove, were the successful ones in getting a journalist, Robert Novak, to publish Plame’s identity, it wasn’t for the lack of Libby trying to get Plame’s identity into the press.

Nor is it accurate to say that there was no underlying crime. It is illegal to willfully disclose the identity of a covert CIA officer – and the administration officials involved were well aware that her identity was classified. Leaking classified material also can be – and often is – treated as a crime. …

Rather than a wild-eyed prosecutor on a rampage, Fitzgerald actually appears to have been a very cautious prosecutor who chose not to pursue what would have been a deserving but politically disruptive case against Bush, Cheney and other government conspirators implicated in both leaking classified material and participating in a cover-up.

But all this is missed by Cohen. In his June 19, 2007 column, he does reiterate his current position that the Iraq War was a mistake. He also acknowledges that lying under oath is a bad thing to do. But – blinded by the pervasive neocon talking points – he refuses to see the larger scandal.

“I have come to hate the war and I cannot approve of lying under oath – not by Scooter, not by Bill Clinton, not by anybody,” Cohen wrote. “But the underlying crime is absent, the sentence is excessive and the investigation should not have been conducted in the first place. This is a mess. Should Libby be pardoned? Maybe. Should his sentence be commuted? Definitely.” [As it turned out, President Bush did commute Libby’s sentence so he avoided jail time.]

Cohen took a similarly tolerant view of lies told by Reagan administration officials in the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s and its successful cover-up by President George H.W. Bush in the early 1990s when special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh was pressing for long-withheld answers.

When Bush sabotaged Walsh’s probe by issuing six Iran-Contra pardons on Christmas Eve 1992, prominent U.S. journalists, including Cohen, praised Bush’s actions and brushed aside Walsh’s complaint that the move was the final act in a long-running cover-up that protected a secret history of criminal behavior and Bush’s personal role.

Cohen spoke for many of his colleagues when he defended Bush’s fatal blow against the Iran-Contra investigation. Cohen especially liked Bush’s pardon of former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, who had been indicted for obstruction of justice but was popular around Washington.

In a Dec. 30, 1992 column, Cohen said his view was colored by how impressed he was when he would see Weinberger in the Georgetown Safeway store, pushing his own shopping cart.

“Based on my Safeway encounters, I came to think of Weinberger as a basic sort of guy, candid and no nonsense – which is the way much of official Washington saw him,” Cohen wrote. “Cap, my Safeway buddy, walks, and that’s all right with me.”

There was a time when The Washington Post aggressively pursued cover-ups of government wrongdoing, such as Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal. Even during the Clinton administration, a favorite pearl of Washington wisdom was: “It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up.”

But that was then and this is now. Today, the Post editorial page and its prized columnists, like Cohen, eagerly join in cover-ups and happily bash anyone who won’t go with the Washington flow.

So, the question remains, is Cohen just a clueless incompetent when he berates Fitzgerald for the “train wreck” of the Libby conviction or is this columnist really a clever guy who is very skilled at knowing how to stay on the gravy train of modern Washington journalism?

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8,000 Zionist Suffer From PTSD Due to Current Palestinian Intifada

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jews tears

As a result of the current Palestinian INTIFADA, 8,000 Zionist have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Zionist Trauma Coalition (ITC) said on Wednesday.

“This is a long war,” ITC Director Talia Levanon told Zionist Army Radio.

“We call terror victims [suffering from trauma] the ‘transparent injured,’ because we don’t see them. The circle of injury is so broad that the circles of support need to be large as well,” Levanon said.

For every Zionist killed or wounded, according to a study conducted by the ITC, there will be 27 witnesses to the attack that will need PTSD rehabilitation. Of those who are treated immediately, 87 percent will recover quickly, Zionist National News reported.

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Nazi Jewish Rabbi: Christians Not Welcome in Jerusalem

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Nazi Jewish Bentzi Gopstein

Nazi Jewish Rabbi said, Wednesday, that Christians are not welcome in Jerusalem, and that he does not mind burning mosques and churches.

Nazi Jewish Bentzi Gopstein told Zionist TV Channel 2 that Nazi Jews practically prevent Christians from entering Jerusalem.

He also called for making obstacles towards the expansion of Christianity and Islam in annexed Jerusalem.

According to Days of Palestine, the Nazi extremist Jewish rabbi also said that he does not mind burning mosques and churches in Jerusalem, stating that Nazi regime must arrest Christian monks and nuns.

Gopstein is the head of an notorious extremist Nazi Jewish group called Lehava, which is responsible for insulting and harassing monks and nuns in Jerusalem.

Several Nazi Jewish groups are active in the occupied holy city, with regard to extreme Judaisation activities, including the seizing of Islamic and Christian properties.

Zionist TV has previously proved that the Nazi government stands behind these groups, although it sometimes condemns their acts in token concern.

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Turkey: A Criminal State, a NATO State

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By Eric Draitser

It is now openly discussed even in mainstream media the fact that Turkey has been intimately involved in fomenting and supporting the war on Syria, with its ultimate goal being the overthrow of the Syrian government and its replacement by a compliant proxy aligned with Turkish President Erdogan and the Muslim Brotherhood. That this is no longer a ‘conspiracy theory’ but a conspiracy fact not only vindicates my analysis over the last four years, but it also brings to the fore the nefarious role of a NATO member in stoking a brutal and bloody war for its own ends.

Beyond just the war itself, Turkey has been implicated in a wide variety of crimes (some constituting war crimes) which cast Ankara in a very bad light: a supporter of terrorism, a criminal government engaging in acts of aggression against its neighbors and other world powers, the repression of journalists and others who have brought the truth to the light of day, among many others. Taken in total, it becomes clear that under President Erdogan Turkey has become a belligerent actor with delusions of hegemony and a complete disregard for human rights and sovereignty.

But how exactly has this transformation happened? What has been proven regarding Turkish government actions that make it so clear that the regime in Ankara is criminal in nature?

Cataloging Turkish Crimes

The criminality of the Erdogan government can be roughly broken down into the following categories: aggression against sovereign states, material support for international terrorism, and systematic violation of human rights. Naturally, there are many other crimes that would also be included in a full and completing accounting of Ankara’s illegal actions including, but not limited to, corruption, promoting and tacitly supporting fascist gangs, and many others. But it is the support for international terrorism that rises above all others to thrust Turkey into the spotlight as one of the single most important supporters of the global scourge of terrorism.

Turkey’s central role in each and every aspect of terrorism in Syria must be the starting point of any analysis of Turkey’s grave crimes. President Erdogan has not been shy about calling for regime change in Syria, but his position has been far more than merely rhetorical; Erdogan’s government has played a very direct role in the sponsorship, arming, facilitation and military backing of everyone from the Free Syrian Army to Jabhat al-Nusra (Al Qaeda in Syria) and the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/Daesh).

In 2012, the New York Times confirmed that the CIA was sending weapons and other military materiel into the hands of anti-Assad forces from the Turkish side of the border, using their connections with the Muslim Brotherhood to do so. However, it has also come to light that Turkish intelligence has been front and center in the ongoing campaign to arm and resupply the terror groups such as the al-Nusra Front and others. This fact was exposed by Can Dündar, the editor-in-chief of the Cumhuriyet, who now faces apotential life sentence at the behest of President Erdogan, who himself called for Dündar to receive multiple life sentences.

What is the reason for the attack on Dündar and other opposition journalists? The Cumhuriyet, one of the most widely read Turkish dailies, published video footage confirming the widespread allegations that Turkish trucks, ostensibly loaded with humanitarian supplies, were actually filled with arms bound for terror groups fighting against Assad, and that those trucks were operated by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT).  But it goes much further than that.

Turkey has been directly involved on the ground in Syria both in active military and support roles. In fact, transcripts of wiretaps obtained by Cumhuriyet, and presented in Turkish courts, along with shocking video footage, have confirmed what numerous eyewitnesses have stated: Turkish security forces have been directly involved in shelling and support operations for Nusra front and other jihadi groups in and around Kassab, Syria, among other sites. This is a crucial piece of information because it explains just why those terror groups were able to successfully capture that region in 2014, and recapture it this year. Eyewitnesses in Kassab have confirmed what Syrian soldiers speaking on condition of anonymity had reported, namely that Turkish helicopters and heavy artillery were used in support of Nusra and the other terror groups during both the 2014 and the current campaign.

Of course this policy of alliance with anti-Assad terrorists has been part of Turkey’s modus operandi since the beginning of the conflict. In 2012, Reuters revealed that Turkey, “set up a secret base with allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar to direct vital military and communications aid to Syria’s rebels from a city near the border… ‘It’s the Turks who are militarily controlling it. Turkey is the main coordinator/facilitator. Think of a triangle, with Turkey at the top and Saudi Arabia and Qatar at the bottom,’ said a Doha-based source.”

This information was confirmed by Vice President Joe Biden in his spectacular foot-in-mouth speech at Harvard University where hestated:

Our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria. The Turks were great friends… [and] the Saudis, the Emirates, etcetera. What were they doing?… They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad — except that the people who were being supplied, [they] were al-Nusra, and al-Qaeda, and the extremist elements of jihadis who were coming from other parts of the world.

But one must guard against the false notion that somehow Turkey’s role has been merely as auxiliary in Syria, as a supporter, but not leader, of the terrorist factions wreaking havoc on the Syrian battlefield. Instead, it is now an inescapable fact, even acknowledged by some high-ranking military and intelligence officials, that Turkey has been the principal financier and supporter of the Islamic State and the other jihadist groups.

According to the UK Independent, President Erdogan’s son Bilal Erdogan, along with a number of other close associates, have been directly benefiting from the illicit oil trade with the Islamic State. The paper noted that, “Bilal Erdogan… is one of three equal partners in the BMZ group, a major Turkish oil and marine shipping company, which both the Russian and Syrian governments have accused of purchasing oil from ISIS… Bilal Erdogan has been directly involved in the oil trade with ISIS… Turkey downed a Russian jet on 24 November specifically to protect his oil smuggling business.”

In fact, Syria’s Information Minister Omran al-Zoabi explained that “All of the oil was delivered to a company that belongs to the son of Recep [Tayyip] Erdogan. This is why Turkey became anxious when Russia began delivering airstrikes against the IS infrastructure and destroyed more than 500 trucks with oil already. They’re importing not only oil, but wheat and historic artefacts [sic] as well.”

So it seems that Erdogan and his clique are involved not simply in fomenting war and terrorism in Syria, but also in its plunder, with complex smuggling networks being directly tied to the Turkish President himself. Indeed, just such smuggling networks have been uncovered throughout Asia, tying Turkey into the broader international architecture of terrorism trafficking.

In late 2014 and early 2015, a human trafficking ring was exposed by Chinese authorities. It was revealed that at least ten Turks were responsible for organizing and facilitating the border crossings of a number of Uighurs (Chinese Muslims from Xinjiang), at least one of whom was a wanted Uighur terrorist with others being “radicalized potential terrorists.” These individuals were likely part of a previously documented trend of Uighur extremists traveling to the Middle East to train and fight with the Islamic State and/or other terror groups.

In fact, precisely this trend was exposed two months earlier in September 2014 when Reuters reported that Beijing formally accused militant Uighurs from Xinjiang of having traveled to Islamic State-controlled territory to receive training. Further corroborating these accusations, the Jakarta Post of Indonesia reported that four Chinese Uighur jihadists had been arrested in Indonesia after having traveled from Xinjiang through Malaysia. Other, similar reports have also surfaced in recent months, painting a picture of a concerted campaign to help Uighur extremists travel throughout Asia, communicating and collaborating with transnational terror groups such as IS.

Now, with these latest revelations regarding Turkish nationals being involved in the trafficking of extremists, it seems an invaluable piece of the terrorist transit infrastructure has been exposed. Indeed my assertions above (initially made here in early February 2015) have been substantiated by Syria’s ambassador to China, quoted at length by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh in his piece Military to Military which notes the following:

[Syria’s ambassador to China Imad Moustapha explained that] ‘China regards the Syrian crisis from three perspectives,’ he said: international law and legitimacy; global strategic positioning; and the activities of jihadist Uighurs, from Xinjiang province in China’s far west. Xinjiang borders eight nations… and, in China’s view, serves as a funnel for terrorism around the world and within China. Many Uighur fighters now in Syria are known to be members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement – an often violent separatist organisation that seeks to establish an Islamist Uighur state in Xinjiang. ‘The fact that they have been aided by Turkish intelligence to move from China into Syria through Turkey has caused a tremendous amount of tension between the Chinese and Turkish intelligence,’ Moustapha said. ‘China is concerned that the Turkish role of supporting the Uighur fighters in Syria may be extended in the future to support Turkey’s agenda in Xinjiang. We are already providing the Chinese intelligence service with information regarding these terrorists and the routes they crossed from on travelling into Syria’ [emphasis added].

Moustapha’s concerns were echoed by a Washington foreign affairs analyst who has closely followed the passage of jihadists through Turkey and into Syria. The analyst, whose views are routinely sought by senior government officials, told me that ‘Erdoğan has been bringing Uighurs into Syria by special transport while his government has been agitating in favour of their struggle in China. Uighur and Burmese Muslim terrorists who escape into Thailand somehow get Turkish passports and are then flown to Turkey for transit into Syria.’ He added that there was also what amounted to another ‘rat line’ that was funnelling Uighurs – estimates range from a few hundred to many thousands over the years – from China into Kazakhstan for eventual relay to Turkey, and then to IS territory in Syria [emphasis added]. ‘US intelligence,’ he said, ‘is not getting good information about these activities because those insiders who are unhappy with the policy are not talking to them.’ He also said it was ‘not clear’ that the officials responsible for Syrian policy in the State Department and White House ‘get it’. IHS-Jane’s Defence Weekly estimated in October that as many as five thousand Uighur would-be fighters have arrived in Turkey since 2013, with perhaps two thousand moving on to Syria. Moustapha said he has information that ‘up to 860 Uighur fighters are currently in Syria.’

It has become clear that Turkey is now unmistakably a major supporter of international terrorism, with Syria being merely the proving ground for a stable of terror groups directly or indirectly working with Erdogan’s government. This is further evidenced by the now documented and verified fact that the Erdogan government was directly involved in the transfer of chemical weapons into the hands of ISIS.

As Turkish MP Eren Erdem explained before the Turkish parliament and to international media, “There is data in this indictment. Chemical weapon materials are being brought to Turkey and being put together in Syria in camps of ISIS which was known as Iraqi Al Qaeda during that time.” Erdem noted that according to an investigation launched (and abruptly closed) by the General Prosecutor’s Office in Adana, Turkish citizens with ties to the intelligence community took part in negotiations with ISIS-linked and Al-Qaeda-linked militants to sell sarin gas for use in Syria. The evidence of these allegations came in the form of wiretapped phone conversations similar to those published earlier this year by Cumhuriyet.

Taken in total, the case against Erdogan’s government is damning. At the same time, one must also note Erdogan’s grave crimes against his own people.

As noted already, Can Dündar and his colleagues at Cumhuriyet have been targeted by Erdogan’s state for their disclosure of Ankara’s dealings with the terrorists of Syria. Just a few weeks ago Dündar, along with Cumhuriyet’s Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gul, werecharged in a Turkish court with “spying” and “divulging state secrets.” This should not come as a surprise to anyone familiar with Turkey’s track record when it comes to opposition journalism.

In fact, in December 2014, the Turkish police raided the offices of the Zaman newspaper, one of the most popular in the country, alleging that Zaman was responsible for “launching an armed terror organization.” The authorities detained the ZamanEditor-in-Chief Ekrem Dumanlı , as well as the head of the Samanyolu Media Group, Hidayet Karaca, along with a producer, scriptwriter and director.

The Turkish Journalists Association (TGC) and the Turkey Journalists’ Labor Union (TGS) released a joint statement in condemnation of the raids and the ongoing repression of journalists by the Erdogan government, noting that “Almost 200 journalists were previously held in prison on charges of being a member of a terror organization, violating their right to a fair trial. Journalists are now being detained once again. These developments mean that freedom of the press and opinion is punished in Turkey, which takes its place in the class of countries where the press is not free.”

International organizations too expressed their outrage at this blatant violation of freedom of the press. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), and its regional group the European Federation of Journalists (EFL), stated that, “We are appalled by this brazen assault on press freedom and Turkish democracy… One year after the exposure of corruption at the heart of government, the authorities appear to be exacting their revenge by targeting those who express opposing views… This latest act demonstrates that the authorities’ contempt for journalism has not diminished.”

Of course, Ankara’s war on freedom of speech, and the media generally, is not relegated to established media outlets such as Zamanand Cumhuriyet, but also to citizen media and social media as well. In response to the leaking of recordings on Twitter documenting corruption among Erdogan cronies and political elites within his Justice and Development Party (AKP), Erdogan attacked the social media platform, and his government immediately moved to restrict access to Twitter.

Erdogan even went so far as to suggest a total ban on all social media sites, including Facebook and YouTube, saying that “The international community can say this, can say that. I don’t care at all. Everyone will see how powerful the Republic of Turkey is.” This sort of megalomaniacal rhetoric has become the norm for Erdogan, who sees himself as less a president and more a sultan or absolute monarch.

The famous words of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremburg succinctly and matter-of-factly state that the waging of aggressive war is “essentially an evil thing… to initiate a war of aggression… is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” This is undeniably true. But what happens when one is engaged in an international campaign to destroy a neighboring country through war? What happens when one country enables and participates in the destruction of another? What happens when one country will stop at nothing to come out victorious in a war it is not officially involved in, but covertly manages, and from which it directly benefits? Are these not simply different forms of the same crime, the supreme crime, as it were?

Let’s face it, Turkey is now a mafia state ruled by a criminal regime. It is also a NATO member state. Perhaps now the pernicious illusion of NATO as military alliance defending justice, human rights, and the rule of law can finally be put to rest. While the propagandists will continue the charade, Turkey has permanently exposed the US-NATO-GCC-Israel for the warmongers they are in Syria and around the world. Let’s just hope the world notices.

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Hidden Browsing Histories: Theresa May and the Snooper’s Charter

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Theresa May
By Binoy Kampmark 

“‘Trust Me’ might be just the most manipulative thing a politician can say. It means leave me alone in secret to operate without proper challenge.” – Tom Watson, UK Deputy Labour Leader, Dec 18, 2015

Many government policies are advertised as useful for broader safety – till they are reversed to apply to the very officials who create them. The UK Home Secretary is very much of that school. Readers will be aware what Theresa May has done her invaluably bit to undermine privacy on the broader pretext of protecting security.

Central to this is the Home Office’s insistence on the Investigatory Powers Bill that seemingly insists on more intrusion than investigation. The bill, in rather futile fashion, will compel phone and web companies to retain records of every citizen for at least a year, providing a data pool which police and security services could access when required. The legislation goes further, enrolling the relevant service providers in a pseudo-police role that will override encryption if needed.

May has found herself having to sugar coat the bill with some decent premise, and has decided to go the cyberbullying card, a view she outlined to South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge.

The tactic is standard: if people are misbehaving on the internet, those on facilitating its use should be made responsible for moral behaviour. Accordingly, “Internet connection records would update the capability of law enforcement in a criminal investigation to determine the sender and recipient of a communication, for example, a malicious message such as those exchanged in cyberbullying.”

The response by The Independent has been an attempt to pull the history of Theresa May’s browsing history for the last week of October, a freedom of information request that purposely excludes any information directly concerned with security matters.

What is good for the goose of inquiry is also grand for the gander placed under the scrutinising eye of the state. In short, if you are going to be equal before the law, then by golly even ministers should have their browsing history on the internet made available for the public gaze.

Not so, according to the Home Office. The FOI request has been dismissed as vexatious. In other words, the request was dismissed on grounds of an action “brought without sufficient grounds for winning, purely to cause annoyance to the defendant.”

The Home Office’s response, drawing upon section 14(1) of the Act, insisted that the department had “decided that your request is vexatious because it places an unreasonable border on the department, because it has adopted a scattergun approach and seems solely designed for the purpose of fishing for information without any idea of what might be revealed.”

The response provides a suitable template for critics of the surveillance state, if only because it demonstrates the hopeless rationale for the entire metadata retention regime. If the request by The Independent was, by its nature, scattergun, one could hardly assume that the security state’s behaviour in this regard is anything but scattergun.

This legal excuse remains one of the least convincing in the area of information law. It is, however, used repeatedly by states who have freedom of information regimes, providing slivers when asked, but generally withholding the bulk of what is deemed too sensitive for release.

The point is often the same: we will have a regime to allow information for the public precisely because we are intent on disallowing much of it. Regulation, in other words, is constriction, measured in the name of protecting that great, inscrutable fiction known as the public interest. You are kept in the dark because ignorance is necessary bliss.

In the case of the Home Office, there could be few things more fundamentally vexatious than a metadata retention regime premised on the nonsense of combating trolls and bullies on the world wide web.

The efforts on the part of The Independent have at least demonstrated to British citizens that this regime has other purposes, managing to get some egg onto the faces of Home Office officials. It is by no means the only quarter targeting the potential consequences of the bill. Labour’s Deputy Leader Tom Watson has argued that the bill’s supposed self-guarding mechanisms and oversight simply do not go far enough in protecting privacy.

In Watson’s mind, there was merely a “very limited review of the Home Secretary’s warrants by a judge appointed by a Commissioner who is appointed by the prime minister.” It was a “false choice to say that these massive extensions of state power must be introduced without checks and balances.”

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook finds its provisions similarly repellent for privacy. “We believe it would be wrong,” went a company statement, “to weaken security for hundreds of millions of law-abiding customers so that it will also be weaker for the very few who pose a threat.” Given this government’s supposed love of the corporate sector, big business and all, David Cameron and his Home Secretary have their work sharply cut out for them.

Posted in UKComments Off on Hidden Browsing Histories: Theresa May and the Snooper’s Charter

Putin signs bill allowing reciprocal impounding of foreign nations’ property

NOVANEWS
Image result for Putin CARTOON
RT 

President Vladimir Putin has signed amendments to a bill that restricts foreign states’ right not to observe certain Russian legal procedures if these states themselves introduce measures restricting Russia’s legal immunity.

The amendments would change Russian civil and arbitration codes by introducing the principle of limited legal immunity for a foreign state. They detail the procedure of initiating a lawsuit against a foreign nation and serving court warrants to its representatives. The document also prescribes the role of various Russian state agencies in court cases against foreign states.

The amendments are a part of a law that was signed in early November and will come into force on January 1. It allows Russia to impound the property of foreign states, so long as Russian courts rule that these nations have damaged the economic or other interests of the Russian Federation. Before this act was introduced, such steps were only allowed on condition the government of the country in question agreed to them.

The new bill was drafted by the government as a reciprocal measure after several countries this year executed the rulings of international courts and impounded the assets belonging to the Russian state.

For example, in early July, the media reported that Belgium and France had frozen Russian state companies’ assets and curtailed their agencies in these countries. The move was in connection with the June 2014 ruling by the International Criminal Court in The Hague that ordered Russia to pay compensation of $39.9 billion, $1.85 billion and $8.2 billion, respectively, to three companies connected to the once-powerful oil giant Yukos, which was dissolved in 2007.

The Russian Foreign Ministry described these steps as blatant violation of international law and promised to contest these decisions. Vladimir Putin said that Russia would challenge the decision to seize its assets. The president added that the country didn’t recognize the ruling of the Hague court, as it doesn’t participate in the European Energy Charter.

In comments to the newly introduced law on reciprocal impounding of foreign states’ assets, the Justice Ministry wrote that the main idea behind it was to ensure a “jurisdiction balance” between Russia and foreign states. “The number of lawsuits against the Russian Federation is constantly growing and this happens without asking for our agreement for participation in these cases,” a government source told Kommersant daily. Therefore, recognizing rulings by foreign courts is equivalent to conceding national sovereignty, the source added.

Also in July, the Russian Constitutional Court decided that no international treaty or convention has precedence over national sovereignty, and decisions by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) should be upheld only when they don’t contradict basic Russian law. In mid-December, President Putin signed into law a bill allowing the Constitutional Court to overrule the decisions of international courts if such decisions contradict the principle of supremacy of the Russian Constitution.

Posted in RussiaComments Off on Putin signs bill allowing reciprocal impounding of foreign nations’ property

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