Archive | October 28th, 2016

The Vietnam War and Our Latest war on Yemen Have One Thing in Common: Nonexistent Attacks

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By Joe Clifford 

The missile attack on a US ship off the coast of Yemen was a major news event, but the subsequent follow up story, that it may never have happened, was either ignored by mainstream media or intentionally covered up. The whole thing has the same odor as the Gulf of Tonkin incident that never occurred.

Does history repeat itself? Sure does seem like it. That is if you compare America’s entry into the Vietnam civil war, with America’s latest entry into the war in Yemen.

Don’t be mistaken. We have been at war with Yemen for a year now. America sided with the most oppressive government in the world, Saudi Arabia, in attacking and pounding Yemeni schools, funeral parlors, and hospitals, for well over a year. This war could not have happened without a wink and a nod from the US, and the arming of the Saudis’ with US weapons. In addition to providing the Saudi’s with weapons, we also provide mid-air refueling and have delivered 40 million pounds of jet fuel over the past 18 months, thus enabling the devastating bombings of civilian facilities. The US used a cease fire in Yemen to re-arm the Saudi’s, who were running out of bombs and weapons, we provided the targeting information, ground maintenance of aircraft, and, of course, the wink and nod to go ahead, which unleashed this humanitarian disaster.

So here we have Saudi Arabia, one of the wealthiest but most oppressive governments’ in the world, a supporter of terrorists in Syria and around the world, attacking one of the poorest nations on earth. According to a leaked Hillary Clinton e-mail, she is fully aware that Saudi Arabia sponsors terrorists in Syria, but still the go ahead wink to the Saudis. Now that we and the Saudi’s have destroyed everything in Yemen with bombs, we are helping the Saudi’s maintain a blockade, preventing food and medical supplies from reaching the Yemeni people, which by some estimates, have already cost the lives of 10,000 children under the age of 5.

All that, however, was not enough for the US. Now we have actively entered the shooting war, based on yet another possible ruse by our government. The US Navy claimed they were attacked by Houthi missiles from somewhere in Yemen, and promptly launched Tomahawk missiles at a cost of $1.5 million per missile, in revenge. Some suggest we took out radar installations with our Tomahawk missiles. But hold the phone! Two days later the US military very quietly announced they are not sure if there was a missile attack at all. Yup, you got it. Did you hear that story on mainstream media? Of course not. It appears that no one saw the missiles from Yemen, nothing was hit by missiles, and there was no corroboration from other ships in the area. The Houthis’ denied they had anything to do with the alleged attack. The US very quietly admitted, perhaps it was all about “ghost radar images”, and there never were any missiles.

This story was completely ignored by mainstream media. Supposedly, whether the attack occurred is being investigated by the military, and there will be a report coming, but don’t wait up for the late-night news to hear the results of the pending report. It might never come, or if it does, would you believe a report where the military is investigating itself?

So what does this have to do with history repeating itself? Some may remember the Vietnam War, where the US entered a civil war on the other side of the globe, based on an alleged “attack” by North Vietnam on a US navy ship. There was never any sighting of the attacker, there was never any damage by the attack, and we know now, years later, that there was never any such attack. Sound familiar? It all was due to false readings and ghost images on radar screens. The alleged attack took place in the Gulf of Tonkin.

Quickly the US Congress rushed to get involved in Vietnam’s civil war by seeking revenge for an attack that never happened. It passed the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which authorized the US president to get revenge. America’s entry into the Vietnam civil war lasted 10 years, and cost the lives of approximately 55,000 US soldiers, and about 3 million Southeast Asians. That’s correct. 3 million lives! We attacked this past week with no discussion, debate, or consent by Congress. Like the cowards they are, Congress never said a word, but stuck their heads deep in the sand. The President, now has the power to do such things, and the Constitution in that regard is irrelevant.

How many years will the war with Yemen last? How many will be killed? Why are we fighting Yemen? Why has Saudi Arabia attacked Yemen? Will there be blowback from Yemen in the future, or do you feel the innocent Yemeni’s will simply lie down and die quietly? And the last quiz question of the day: Name the countries the US is currently bombing.

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GADDAFI, Odd & Funny Facts: From Piccadilly Circus to Secret Pen-Pals



As a few days ago marked the fifth anniversary of the murder of Muammar Gaddafi,I decided to mark it with a more low-key, fun-ish look back at Libya’s former national figurehead.

A more serious piece on the life and character of one of the most controversial world figures of the 20th century will follow in a few days, which I’d been working on for some time but hadn’t been able to finish in time.

In the meantime it occurs to me that while people mostly write very serious things – good or bad – about Gaddafi and his era, and much of it centers unfortunately on his brutal death and the horrific events in Libya from 2011 to now, it might be nicer for a change to look at a few of the more lighthearted curiosities and tidbits from Gaddafi’s monumental and controversial life. And, given how odd and epic a story his life was and how eccentric and odd a figure Gaddafi himself could be, there are quite a few curious or interesting facts or stories to pick from.

Recounting such trivia perhaps helps to humanise the man and prevent him from being presented only as an archetype, a symbol or a caricature.

Here then are some of the most curious, funny or otherwise interesting little bits of trivia I’ve come across about Muammar Gaddafi over the years.

For example, Gaddafi had a Jewish pen-pal who lived in Brooklyn.

Louis Schlamowitz had actually begun writing to Gaddafi way back in the 1960s and the letters only stopped in 2011 when the foreign-backed uprising in Libya began, at which time the Brooklyn-based florist was 81 years old. What is remarkable, and kind of endearing, about this story is that Gaddafi always wrote back, maintaining this pen-pal correspondence for decades. “He was a good pen-pal,” the elderly florist said. “I felt it was very nice of him to take the time to write back to me, because I’m nobody special.”

Mr Schlamowitz, who also exchanged letters with Marylin Monroe and Richard Nixon among others, said his correspondence with the Libyan leader aroused suspicion from the FBI and American agencies who visited him to ask what he was playing at.

A Christmas card from Gaddafi, written around 2000, thanked Mr Schlamowitz for his “friendship through the years”.

Gaddafi spent time in England as a student in the sixties. In April 1966, he was sent to Britain for training; spending time undergoing military training in Dorset and Kent and an English language course at Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire.

One of his instructors from this time called him “hard working, conscientious” and “an amusing officer”, adding that he was an avid reader of books and also enjoyed playing football. Gaddafi disliked England, however, and later claimed that British Army officers had racially insulted him on a regular basis. He also claimed to have found it very difficult adjusting to the country’s culture. One wonders, with hindsight, whether these experiences might have had some impact on his later attitude towards the Colonialist powers, Britain in particular. The experience may have also caused him to retreat more into his Arab identity and his desert roots.
There is a very amusing picture (above) of the young Gaddafi walking around Piccadilly Circus in 1966,dressed in traditional Bedouin robes, while two English old ladies look on, bemused.

Um, yes, he appears to have had a major crush on former US Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice. He apparently did keep a photo album filled with pictures of her. Rice later claimed to have been fully aware of Gaddafi’s interest in her from their personal interactions. He once claimed he was “very proud of the way she leans back and gives orders to the Arab leaders.” I guess the heart wants what the heart wants.

And yes, like Augustus in Ancient Rome, he also decided to rename the months. February was ‘Lights’, August was ‘Hannibal’ (that other great, mythic ‘hero’ of Libyan history, who had waged war on the Romans).

Gaddafi contributed towards Welsh independence.

Gaddafi donated funding to Welsh independence party Plaid Cymru. The Libyan leader was known for his financial support of ‘liberation movements’ and oppressed groups worldwide: from Mandela and the ANC to the Maoris in New Zealand and Aborigines in Australia, the Black Panthers in America, the IRA, the PLO, the Sandanistas in Nicaragua. etc. It appears that, included in this long list, was Plaid Cymru in Wales.

This is confirmed in an upcoming book by Plaid Cymru activist Dr Carl Clowes, who recounts his visit to Libya in the 70s and Gaddafi’s donations to the party. “Libya had the best health and education systems in the whole of Africa,” he says, recalling his delegation’s visit to the country. He suggests Gaddafi’s donation to Plaid Cymru was motivated by his general desire to disrupt the ‘Western Imperialist’ status quo.

Gaddafi is credited with having supposedly invented the ‘world’s safest car’.

The Libyan Rocket, which looks like a sleek, futuristic vehicle, is said to have had a collapsible bumper, the ability to travel miles with flat tires, and a device that can cut fuel supply during accident to avoid fire. It was never mass produced, as the 2011 Libyan Civil War derailed the project.
There are obviously a bunch of apocryphal stories about Gaddafi, which we don’t know whether they’re true or false.One of these, for example, concerns the idea that the young Gaddafi had bunked with Muhammad Ali in London in the 1960s. Supposedly, sitting on Ali’s bed, the young student had talked about his plans for future revolution. ‘Watch, one day you will see,’ Gaddafi had allegedly said, while a half asleep Ali had (supposedly) reacted “Sheeet, you crazy!”

I’m guessing this probably didn’t happen; but it’s a fabulous story. We do know that Ali did visit Libya as a guest of Gaddafi some years later.

And yes, he once, in a fit of anger, proposed to ‘abolish’ the nation of Switzerland – and yes, that’s probably the funniest Gaddafi story there is.

No one knows his date of birth. The circumstances of Gaddafi’s birth, fittingly enough, have the almost prophetic air of something out of scripture or myth. The son of an impoverished Bedouin goat herder, Muammar Gaddafi was born in a tent near Qasr Abu Hadi, a rural area outside the town of Sirte in the deserts of western Libya. Curiously, Gaddafi’s date of birth is not known for certain, as his parents were Nomadic Bedouin and were illiterate and did not keep birth records.

Education in Libya was not free at that time (though it would after Gaddafi took power), but Gaddafi’s father funded his son’s education despite the great financial difficulty. During the weeks, Gaddafi slept in a local mosque, having no home, and at weekends he walked some 20 miles to visit his parents in their traditional dwellings. Reportedlty bullied for being a Bedouin, he was nevertheless proud of his identity and was said to have actively encouraged this same pride in other Bedouin children.

But he wasn’t embarassed by his humble roots, and in fact emphasized it wherever possible. Despite his increasingly odd and ostentatious dress-sense, he was also always keen to emphasise his humble Bedouin roots and would therefore receive dignitaries in his signature sprawling white tent, which he erected wherever he went: Rome, Paris and, after much controversy, New York, on a Westchester estate in 2009. Everyone from Tony Blair to Vladimir Putin (pictured below) would have to enter the tent if they wanted to meet with the Libyan figurehead.

He was inspired in part by Abraham Lincoln…

As a young man and student, he later claimed to have read voraciously on the subjects of General Nasser and Egypt, the French Revolution of 1789, the works of Christian Syrian political theorist Michel Aflaq and, interestingly, the biography of Abraham Lincoln. “Lincoln was a man who created himself from nothing without any help from outside or other people. I followed his struggles. I see certain similarities between him and me,” he said in a book published by The Pittsburg Press in 1986 called Gaddafi: The Man the World Loves to Hate.

Nelson Mandela named one of his grandchildren after Gaddafi.

After Mr Mandela became South Africa’s first black president in 1994, he rejected pressure from Western leaders – including then-US President Bill Clinton – to sever ties with Gaddafi, who had in fact largely bankrolled his election campaign. “Those who feel irritated by our friendship with Gaddafi can go jump in the pool,” Mandela had said. He added pointedly, “Those that yesterday were friends of our enemies have the gall today to tell me not to visit my brother Gaddafi.”

In 1997, Mandela awarded Gaddafi the highest official honour in South Africa in recognition for his support of human rights and the struggle against Apartheid.

While many of the monuments or landmarks associated with Gaddafi have been destroyed or torn down since his death, and many of the cities and urban developments he supervised the building of have been devastated by NATO bombing or left in ruin, various monuments or sites associated with or in honour of the late Libyan leader still stand outside of Libya.

Examples being the Gaddafi Mosques in Tanzania, Kampala and Uganda, as well as Pakistan’s biggest sports stadium, the Gaddafi Stadium (in Lahore). There is still ongoing debate in Pakistan as to whether the country’s most illustrious stadium should be renamed or should remain as Gaddafi Stadium.

Yes, one of the oddest and most eccentric things Gaddafi ever did was to create his elite, all-female bodyguard unit, the Amazon Guard. However, despite some salacious claims in Western media about the nature or relationship between Gaddafi and the women, it was always claimed that each of the female bodyguards was a virgin for life. I have no idea if that’s true; and the Amazonian Guard really was one of the strangest, most baffling, things Gaddafi ever came up with. Following the downfall of Gaddafi and Libya, the fate of many of the women was unknown, but photographic evidence existed to suggest that some of them were hunted down by Libyan rebels and brutally tortured and murdered.

Just weeks before Western media was calling Gaddafi a war criminal, brutal tyrant and accusing him of massacring civilians, Gaddafi was the frontrunner for Amnesty International’s ‘Human Rights Hero, 2011’ award. It will be athousand years before someone goes from ‘Human Rights Hero’ to ‘brutal war criminal’ as quickly as that again.

And yes, Gaddafi had proposed ‘SATO’; a ‘NATO of the South’ that would be set-up in opposition to NATOand would’ve been constituted by African and South-American nations forming a mutual defense initiative. It sounds facetious, but he may have had a serious underlying point about the imperialist North-Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the need for an equal and opposite organisation.

No one knows where Gaddafi is buried.

After his brutal murder in October 2011, his body was kept on display for weeks before eventually being buried in an unmarked grave at an unknown location to prevent his tomb becoming a shrine.


A more serious, bigger piece to mark the fifth anniversary of Gaddafi’s death, which was meant to go up on the 21st, will appear here in the next few days. Meanwhile, you can read all older Libya posts here.

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Duterte’s China visit a ‘turning point’

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The BRICS Post 

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has made good on a promise he made in August to steer relations with China toward mutual benefit and bilateral cooperation.

During his visit to Beijing on Thursday Duterte said that he was still committed to discussing the South China Sea territorial dispute in a bilateral fashion with his Chinese counterparts.

Chinese President Xi Jinping welcomed the Philippine initiative and warmly shook hands with Duterte saying that both countries had emerged from a relationship of “winds and rains”.

As the first country to visit outside ASEAN since he took office in June the Philippine president is committed to continuously engaging China in a diplomatic dialogue rather than anger officials there.

Relations between the two countries recently took a downturn after the International Court of arbitration in The Hague ruled that China’s historic claims to most of the South China Sea were invalid.

China called the ruling a farce and at the time Xi said he would not accept any proposition or action based on the ruling issued unilaterally, and initiated by the former Philippine government.

Xi described the new turn in their ties as the springtime of our relationship.

In addition to discussing the South China Sea issue the two countries signed 13 agreements and deals worth more than $13 billion.

China also pledged financial support for infrastructure projects in the Philippines and said it would lift travel advisories for Chinese tourists visiting the islands.

Chinese media hailed the visit as a turning point and a welcome U-turn in the two countries’ ties.


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APS cancels socialist candidate’s talk at Manzano High

Party for Socialism and Liberation presidential candidate Gloria La Riva and vice presidential candidate Dennis Banks. (Courtesy of Gloria La Riva)

Party for Socialism and Liberation presidential candidate Gloria La Riva and vice presidential candidate Dennis Banks. (Courtesy of Gloria La Riva)

The only socialist candidate for president appearing on the ballot in New Mexico, Gloria La Riva of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, says fear of her party’s politics led APS officials to pull the plug on her Wednesday visit to Manzano High School – her alma mater.

“Perhaps fear that parents will get upset, fear of an alternative party, or fear the Albuquerque Public Schools would appear to be supporting socialism,” La Riva, a New Mexico native, said during a phone interview.

APS spokeswoman Monica Armenta said fear of PSL’s politics was not a factor; rather, the cancellation was because the visit, originally approved by Manzano’s principal, would violate APS district policy.

District officials only learned of the visit on Tuesday when someone from La Riva’s campaign called the district office to inquire if the media would be present, Armenta said. The district immediately notified Manzano Principal Karen Webb that district policy prohibited the visit, and Webb subsequently contacted La Riva’s campaign to cancel it.

“The school made a simple mistake and wasn’t aware of the policy and didn’t check in with the district,” Armenta said. “There was no malice.”

The APS policy says that during the campaign season, candidates can only appear on school campuses outside the instructional day – except where they are invited by the district with the approval of the superintendent.

La Riva was supposed to speak to a social studies class, but her visit had not been submitted to APS Superintendent Raquel Reedy for approval.

Armenta said another concern was that La Riva’s visit this close to the election would seem unfair without the presence of the other presidential candidates. An exception for La Riva places APS in the uncomfortable position of also offering exceptions to other candidates, and not just presidential candidates, Armenta said.

“The sheer volume and number of offices makes that problematic when you’re trying to carry on an instructional day,” she said.

La Riva wasn’t buying it.

“If Hillary Clinton wanted to come to the school she would be welcomed with open arms and they’d throw open the school auditorium for her,” she said.

Not so, said Armenta. Earlier in the campaign season someone from Hillary Clinton’s campaign reached out about having an event featuring Bill Clinton at Jimmy Carter Middle School or Albuquerque High School. That event, which would have occurred on an instructional school day, also was rejected by the district, she said.

Activist and organizer

La Riva, who now lives in San Francisco, has worked for decades as a community activist and labor organizer. She has been active in the anti-war movement since the 1970s. Her running mate, Dennis Banks, from the Leech Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota, is the co-founder of the American Indian Movement.

The Party for Socialism and Liberation is also on the ballot in California, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, New Jersey, Vermont and Washington. The PSL’s 10-point program includes making jobs, free health care, free education and affordable housing constitutional rights; closing U.S. military bases around the world; raising the minimum wage to $20 an hour; and support for unions, immigrants and the LGBT community.

James Friedman, a member of the Albuquerque PSL chapter, said he helped set up the Manzano High School visit about a week ago. La Riva was expected to speak before the social studies class of teacher Andrew Houser.

Neither Houser nor Principal Webb returned Journal calls seeking comment.

Friedman agreed with La Riva’s assessment that her invitation was canceled because she is a socialist, “which for too many in the United States in 2016 is still a dirty word that carries a lot of baggage.”

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Psychotropic Drugging ‘VIDEO’

Making a Killing: The Untold Story of Psychotropic Drugging

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COTO Report

Psychotropic drugs. It’s the story of big money-drugs that fuel a $330 billion psychiatric industry, without a single cure.

The cost in human terms is even greater — these [legal] drugs now kill an estimated 42,000 people every year.

And the death count keeps rising. Containing more than 175 interviews with lawyers, mental health experts, the families of victims and the survivors themselves, this riveting documentary rips the mask off psychotropic drugging and exposes a brutal but well-entrenched money-making machine.

Before these drugs were introduced in the market, people who had these conditions would not have been given any drugs at all.

So it is the branding of a disease and it is the branding of a drug for a treament of a disease that did not exist before the industry made the disease. (Excerpt from


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If EU leaders can be so wrong on Russia & Syria, no wonder the bloc is in crisis

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By Finian Cunningham | RT 

Russophobic rants by some European Union leaders and their willful distortion of events in Syria is a reflection of why the 28-member bloc is careering toward disaster. We are witnessing a crisis of appallingly inept leadership.

German, British and French leaders were among the most hawkish voices at the EU leaders’ summit in Brussels this week, denouncing what they claimed were Russian “war crimes” in Syria and calling for additional economic sanctions on both Moscow and Damascus.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Russian-backed Syrian air strikes were “inhumane and cruel,” while Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May took the “most shrill prize” with her condemnation of Moscow’s “sickening atrocities.”

French President Francois Hollande echoed their calls for the EU to slap more sanctions on Russia – in addition to those the bloc has implemented over the Ukraine conflict.

This came only days after Belgian F-16 fighter jets reportedly killed six civilians in the Aleppo countryside, adding to a catalog of illegal aggression committed in Syria by French, British and American warplanes bombing the country without any legal mandate.

In the end, good sense among certain member states prevailed, and the EU summit concluded without imposing additional punitive measures. As the Financial Times reported: “Italy’s Renzi forces a retreat from new sanctions on Russia… Germany, France and UK rein in demand for fresh EU sanctions over Aleppo bombardment.”

Italy, Spain, Austria, Hungary, Greece, Malta and Cyprus were some of the EU members wary of escalating economic and political problems already incurred from loss of trade with Russia over the Ukraine debacle.

Britain’s premier May gave a particularly asinine speech in Brussels. She called for a “robust and united European stance in the face of Russian aggression.” This from the leader of a government currently embroiled in bitter rows over its divorce from the EU.

So, the British leader wants to bequeath even more tension and economic hardship between the people of Europe and Russia, just before she packs up Britain’s membership.

In the Russophobic rousing, European Council President Donald Tusk also excelled. Despite the EU summit rejecting the adoption of more sanctions against Russia over Syria, Tusk was later threatening that such measures remained an option. Tusk had regaled the summit with a list of alleged Russian “misdemeanors” including “air-space violations, disinformation campaigns, cyber-attacks, interference in the EU’s political processes and beyond. Hybrid tools in the Balkans, to developments in the MH17 investigation.”

Then he declared: “Given these examples, it is clear that Russia’s strategy is to weaken the EU.”

Please note that Tusk is supposed to be a leading light for the EU as it negotiates a raft of existential problems, from intractable international trade deals, migration and border disputes, anti-EU political parties, and ongoing economic stagnation for 500 million citizens.

But if Tusk and other EU leaders like Merkel and Hollande can come out with such inane views on Russia, what chance has the bloc got in dealing effectively with other challenging issues? No wonder, EU citizens are losing respect and faith in political leaders when they are seen to be so utterly incompetent and detached from reality.

Yet to make matters even worse, Tusk and his Russophobic ilk turn around and blame the imploding EU crisis on alleged Russian plots to “weaken and divide.”

Just ahead of the EU leaders’ summit in Brussels, Merkel and Hollande met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Berlin for a conference on the Ukraine crisis. The Kiev regime’s President Petro Poroshenko was also in attendance.

The Berlin meeting did not result in any progress toward resolving the Ukraine dispute. While the German and French leaders wanted to penalize Russia over alleged violations in Syria, they seemed oblivious to hundreds of attacks by Kiev’s armed forces on civilian centers in breakaway eastern Ukraine. The assassination of a military commander in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic last week by suspected Kiev agents has heightened fears of a return to all-out war.

Where are Merkel and Hollande’s condemnations and calls for sanctions on the Kiev authorities whom they patronize with billions of dollars in financial aid and NATO military support?

Also, Merkel, Hollande and Britain’s May have little to say about recorded “cruel, inhumane, sickening” massacres in Yemen committed by the Saudi coalition bombing that country. Their silence no doubt is owing to the fact that their governments sell billions of dollars worth of weapons to the Saudi regime even as it slaughters women and children in Yemen.

And, indeed, let’s talk about Syria and the besieged northern city of Aleppo.

The crimes that European leaders allege against Russia and its Syrian ally are based on unverified claims issued by dubious networks evidently under the control of the anti-government militants. The militants besieging east Aleppo are dominated by head-chopping terrorist groups like the internationally proscribed Jabhat Al-Nusra.

When Russia unilaterally implemented a temporary ceasefire this week in Aleppo, an innovative live-streaming broadcast from the appointed humanitarian corridors proved once again the real nature of the violence.

Civilians trapped in the militant-held areas were shown to be held as “human shields” by the insurgents. While buses and other vehicles were waiting to ferry civilians out of the conflict zone, video footage recorded militants shelling and sniping at the humanitarian aid effort.

Those violations corroborated what citizens in east Aleppo have been saying for a long time – that they are being held against their will by the gunmen. Besieged people are even calling on the Syrian and Russian forces to continue in their operations to break the hostage situation and liberate that part of the city.

All across Syria, hundreds of villages and towns have been liberated by the Syrian army and its Russian allies since Putin ordered his air force to intervene in the stricken country at the end of last year.

One of the recent successes was the town of Qudsaya near the capital Damascus. Last week, thousands of residents rallied in the main square cheering President Bashar Assad, the Syrian army and Russia for their “liberation” after the foreign-backed mercenaries were routed from the town.

The foreign backers of the mercenary army that has plunged Syria into horror since March 2011 – with perhaps half a million dead – include the supposedly leading EU members Britain and France. Hollande is on record for admitting that France supplied weapons to insurgents in Syria as far back as 2012, when the siege of Aleppo began, and in breach of a European arms embargo.

What is going on in Syria is a military victory over a foreign-sponsored terrorist war on that country. Russia’s role in the liberation of Syria is principled and commendable.
Those who should be facing prosecution for war crimes include pious, pompous government leaders, past and present, in London and Paris.

If such prominent EU governments can be so wrong and distorting about something so glaringly obvious as Syria and Russia’s support, then no wonder the EU is in free-fall over so many other pressing matters. With criminally incompetent politicians in power, the EU is a bus with its driver slumped at the wheel.

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Is the Priština-Belgrade Dialogue in Danger, and thus Serbia’s Negotiations with EU?

Adelina Marini

Leading subject for Croatian media on Thursday is last Wednesday’s earthquake in Italy, Serbian media continue on the spy affairs, but also on Serbia’s European integration. EU membership is on the cover pages of Macedonian papers as well. Without doubt, the most important subject in Thursday’s press review of regional media is the crisis in the negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo. Serbian national TV channel RTSreports, that Belgrade has been given a new requirement for opening of new negotiation chapters because of Priština. As was reported on Wednesday too, the Slovak presidency has confirmed that currently there is no new date for the opening of new chapters. According to the TV channel, it is still not clear if the reason for this is the stalling of the Belgrade-Priština dialogue. Marko Đurić, director of the government Office for Kosovo and Metohija announced for RTS that there will be a government meeting on Thursday, dedicated on the subject.

“If Priština thinks that talks should be led with conditions and ultimatums and other ways, which are not acceptable to Serbia, if it really is not ready for another manner of holding a conversation, and if with their statement they present a condition for continuing the dialogue, this means that they are giving up on dialogue and that there will be no dialogue”, said Đurić from London, where he is visiting. According to the Kosovo internet websiteKoha, Priština has set four new conditions for the dialogue to continue – demarcation of borders between Kosovo and Serbia, respecting neighbours, non-interference and cessation of Serbia’s interventions in Kosovo, cooperation in spheres of mutual interest.

“Who do they think they are giving conditions to? The dialogue will continue, but not under Priština’s conditions. Serbia will continue to be constructive and Priština is not assigning the subjects”, stated the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia Ivica Dačić in an interview for RTS. He believes that the attempts of Kosovo’s Chief Negotiator at the Brussels Dialogue Edita Tahiri are “a disgrace for domestic use”. On page one Vecernje novosti reports that a full one third of EU member states are blocking the opening of new negotiation chapters with Serbia, more specifically Chapter 31, which covers foreign affairs and security. Among the ones blocking it are Germany, Great Britain, and the former Warsaw Pact states – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland, and Romania, reports the newspaper, quoting its own sources.

The reason for blocking this chapter is that Serbia is expected to be much more active in the harmonisation of its foreign policy with that of the EU, meaning introducing sanctions against Russia. According to Vecernje novosti’s data, Serbia has discarded 30 documents during last year and the year before, which makes almost half the declarations that Brussels has issued. In the year 2015, 13 documents out of 40 were discarded and in the previous year Serbia has disagreed with 17 out of 35. The first page of Blic today shows that President Tomislav Nikolić and Deputy PM Ivica Dačić have turned their backs to the EU. “Not a day goes by without the president and the first deputy PM criticising European integration and the non-opening of new chapters”, reports the paper. We will not be able to read more details on the subject until tomorrow.

This is the leading subject of Politika as well. Under the headline “Dačić’s European Slowing Down” the newspaper reports that the message of the head of Serbian diplomacy Ivica Dačić that no new chapters should be opened practically means giving up on European integration. All this began when Marko Đurić accused Brussels of Serbia being given ultimatums.

Russian spies got expelled from Serbia

The front page of Danas today informs that several Russian citizens were expelled from Serbia under accusations of espionage. The newspapers’ sources have confirmed that right before the Wednesday visit of Secretary of the Security Council of Russia Nikolai Patrushev, there was an operation of the Serbian agencies and several Russian citizens were expelled on counts of activities against Montenegro. In the meantime, the Montenegro’s national television reports that NATO is not checking up on data for terrorist attacks being planned in Montenegro, which has earlier this year received an invitation to join the Alliance against Russia’s will. The averted terrorist attacks in Montenegro were not discussed at the Wednesday meeting of NATO ministers in Brussels, reported Hungary’s ambassador to NATO Péter Sztáray. Slovenian State Secretary Miloš Bizjak, however, believes that the incident is worrying for Slovenia as well, which is close to Montenegro.

Why are Greece and Bulgaria in the way of Macedonia’s European integration?

Macedonian Dnevnik asks on its leading page “How are we to sign a treaty both with Athens and Sofia, if Macedonia is both Greece and Bulgaria at the same time?” The question is provoked by the recent statement of Greek President Prokopios Pavlopoulos that Macedonia is Greece. “If nationalist messages coming from the neighbouring countries Greece and Bulgaria continue to prevent the development of good neighbourly relations, the condition of Macedonia being a good neighbour if it wants to continue the accession process will remain sealed. The question is why is this a precondition for Macedonia entering the EU circle, when good neighbourly relations are being made problematical by member states themselves”, continuesDnevnik.

This is the headline of Utrinski vesnik as well, which is looking for the motivation of Mr Pavlopoulos to defend the Greek character of Macedonia every three days, when this is not even an issue in the election campaign in Macedonia. “Why are there messages being sent so eagerly to Macedonia, when no one is causing it and when diplomatic culture demands that there should be no such influence over a country before elections, especially as important as those coming up on December 11?”, asks Utrinski.

Turkey demands that Serbia closes Gülen schools

Serbian Blic reports that the Turkish government has sent an official request to the government of Serbia for the closing of schools under the patronage of Fethullah Gülen. This was confirmed for Blic by Mehmet Akarca, Senior Adviser to the Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım. According to Akarca, Gülen supports a school in Belgrade, but there are suspicions that there are others on Serbian territory. “Most schools like these are, speaking of the Balkans, definitely in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I would advise your government and all other Balkan states to investigate such institutions and interrogate people working there before it is too late,said another Turkish representative to the newspaper.Blic reminds that word is of the primary school “Bejza” in Čukarica and the “Bejza Education Centre” in downtown Belgrade.

Plenković starts a war on populism

The new Prime Minister of Croatia Andrej Plenković is starting an active battle against populism by deciding to talk more on foreign affairs and European subjects. During his report to Parliament on his participation in the European Council last week Mr Plenković replied sharply to the new leader of the anti-European and anti-NATO party Live Wall Ivan Pernar, who ever since the work of the new Sabor began has been giving loud provocative speeches, aimed against the EU and NATO. In his speech during the debate on Wednesday, Mr Pernar stated that Croatia continues with its policy of sanctions against Russia, although these sanctions are of no use.“Regarding Crimea, Crimea was not captured by force, this was the will of the people”, further said Ivan Pernar, quoted by Vecernji list, which outraged the Croatian prime minister.

I don’t know anyone in the Croatian parliament, who after the attempt at aggression against Croatia of 1991 and being a little better informed than you, could stand on such positions, when we are talking about a violation of international law, when we are talking about non-compliance with bilateral agreements, and when we are talking about the annexation of another country’s territory. If such rhetoric, as you are using now, colleague Pernar, existed in Croatia, today we would not have 56 thousand square kilometres and parts of Croatia, which today are an integral part of our territory, would very likely not be a part of our territory at all, and this is something which, perhaps, you do not pay attention to in your speeches, but you should pay attention to not being the one defining Croatia’s foreign policy”, retorted the Croatian PM, who headed the European Parliament’s Delegation for relations with the Ukraine before being elected prime minister.

Translated by Stanimir Stoev

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A commander of the Damascus government’s allied forces warned Ankara against its ongoing army incursions into the north and north-east parts of Aleppo city.


On Wednesday, Turkey was warned by a senior commander of the forces, allied to the Damascus government, against its ongoing army incursions into the north and north-east parts of Aleppo city. According to the commander, if Ankara does not stop its military actions in the area, a crushing response will be given by the Syrian Army and its allies.

“We will forcefully confront advances of the Turkish Army towards Eastern and Northern Aleppo,” the al-Mayadeen TV-channel reported, citing a commander of the forces, allied to the Syrian Army, without mentioning his name and nationality.

The TV-channel noted that the statement was made during a visit of the commander to the battlefields in northern Aleppo.

The commander also stressed the fact that any further advance of Turkish troops would be regarded as a crossing of ‘Syria’s redline’, as well as would be tantamount to declaration of war.

“We will never allow Turkey to get close to the defense lines of our allied forces on the pretext of fighting the ISIS [the Islamic State (IS)] terrorist group,” he said.

Ankara, cooperating with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and enjoying support of the US, is going to create a so-called no-fly zone in an area of 5,000 kilometers in northern Syria.

On Tuesday, a retired general of the Syrian Armed Forces, Heisam Hassoun, said that a coalition was formed by Syrian troops and Kurdish fighters in order to stand against the incursion of Turkish soldiers into northern Syria.

“We will see the start of military operations towards northern and northeastern [parts of] Aleppo province near al-Bab city in order to block an approach of the Turkish Army and Turkish-backed militants to the strategic city,” Hassoun told the Fars news agency.

He also remembered military operations of the Turkish Army in northeastern, northwestern and northern parts of Syria and noted that Syrian troops were dispatched towards the city of al-Bab, since the eastern parts of the city of Aleppo were liberated three months ago, however their further advances were postponed because other units of the Syrian Army needed to fortify their positions in the southern and southeastern parts of the cities of al-Bab and Daber.

Hassoun added that since late September, the Syrian Army, the Kurdish popular defense forces and the Arab popular defense forces have been working together in order to create an alliance in northern Syria.

“These forces have initiated action since Monday to push back the Turkish Army in the north,” he noted.

In mid-October, a Syrian analyst Kamal Fayyadh said that after establishment full control over the city of Aleppo, the Syrian Army and its allies would start to liberate the strategic city of al-Bab. Fayyadh noted that neither Kurds nor the Turkish Forces and their allies from the FSA would not dare to enter al-Bab, after Turkish officials have received warnings from Russia and Iran.

He also stressed that the battle in al-Bab would have a high importance and said that liberation of the city would prevent Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to establish control over regions, located between al-Bab and al-Rai, as well as would allow the Syrian Armed Forces to strengthen control over its northern borders.

“The future confrontation with the ISIS [the Islamic State] in Raqqa and Deir Ezzur, as well as the liberation of al-Bab mean seizing back more Syrian and Iraqi territories from the ISIS hands,” Fayyadh told Fars.

At the end of the last month, it was reported that a large number of Syrian soldiers was sent from southern Aleppo and northern Hama to the Kuweires airbase in the eastern countryside of Aleppo in order to launch large-scale offensives on the northeast parts of the province, held by the IS, in particular on al-Bab.



South Africa announces decision to quit International Criminal Court

Image result for International Criminal Court (ICC) LOGO
Press TV 

South Africa has joined Burundi in officially announcing its withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC), saying its laws are incompatible with obligations under the ICC.

The South African government gave a formal notice of its intention to pull out of the ICC on Friday.

South Africa “found that its obligations with respect to the peaceful resolution of conflicts at times are incompatible with the interpretation given by the International Criminal Court,” the document, signed by International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, read.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Michael Masutha told a media conference in the administrative capital, Pretoria, that the ICC’s obligations are inconsistent with laws giving sitting leaders diplomatic immunity.

“The Implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Act, 2002, is in conflict and inconsistent with the provisions of the Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Act, 2001,” Masutha said.

South Africa says a bill over the matter, i.e. the withdrawal from ICC, will soon go to the country’s parliament.

The decision comes amid a dispute over last year’s visit by Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to attend an African Union summit in Johannesburg. Bashir is wanted by the ICC over alleged war crimes. South Africa, however, said he had immunity as the head of a member state.

Nevertheless, the ICC criticized the South African government for its failure to arrest Bashir.

The announcement of the decision by South Africa to withdraw from the ICC sparked rapid criticism from the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW).

South Africa’s proposed withdrawal “shows startling disregard for justice from a country long seen as a global leader on accountability for victims of the gravest crimes,” HRW said in a statement. “It’s important both for South Africa and the region that this runaway train be slowed down and South Africa’s hard-won legacy of standing with victims of mass atrocities be restored.”

South Africa is the second African country to declare its withdrawal from the ICC. Earlier this week, Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza signed a decree to quit the court’s jurisdiction.

Namibia and Kenya have also raised the possibility of withdrawal from the ICC.

Some African governments say the ICC has shown a post-colonial bias against the continent’s leaders.

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Muzzling Israeli Dissent in the NYT


Image result for B'TSELEM LOGO

B’Tselem’s Hard Hitting Testimony Lost in the Telling
By Barbara Erickson 

Israeli rights advocate Hagai El-Ad spoke eloquently last week before the United Nations Security Council, appealing to the world body for action on the brutal occupation of Palestine, but according to The New York Times little of what this courageous activist said was fit to print: The real news was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s outraged response.

Thus we find a story on the speech appearing two days after the event under the headline “Settlement Debate Flares Again in Israel’s Quarrel With Rights Group.” The article by Isabel Kershner has much to say about Israeli government criticism of the human rights group B’Tselem, which documents and publicizes Israeli abuses in the West Bank and Gaza.

She says as little as possible, however, about El-Ad’s actual comments. Of his 2,000 word speech she quotes no more than two dozen: “Anything short of decisive action will achieve nothing but ushering in the second half of the first century of the occupation… [Living under occupation] mostly means invisible, bureaucratic, daily violence.”

The heart of the address is missing: El-Ad’s devastating deconstruction of the Israeli justice system as “a legal guise for organized state violence,” the daily indignities and suffering under Israeli military rule, the demolitions of homes, theft of land and water and the impunity surrounding trigger happy security forces.

His words become lost in the framing of this story, glossed over in the tit for tat between attackers and defenders of B’Tselem. Other media reports, however—in Israel and the United States—give readers more substantial excerpts from his address, and they also provide links to the actual speech, something the Times conveniently omits.

The Times also fails to say that amidst the turmoil over B’Tselem’s UN appearance, the U.S. State Department declared its gratitude to the organization for providing information on “fundamental issues that occur on the ground.” Times readers, however, are denied these same benefits.

El-Ad was not the only speaker to criticize Israel at a special session titled “The Settlements as the Obstacle to Peace and the Two-State Solution,” but he bore the brunt of the furious denunciations from Netanyahu and other government officials. He and his organization were also the focus of the Times story.

All this attention is a sign that El-Ad’s performance was a direct hit on Israeli efforts to whitewash their occupation. Much of the time B’Tselem’s reports and press releases, well-buttressed with detailed research, receive no mention either in the Times or in government circles. But now that El-Ad has managed to bring the group’s message to the highest international level, the backlash has been swift and harsh.

The Times has become a willing partner in this effort, working to distract readers from El-Ad’s eloquent appeal to the Security Council by framing the story as a two-sided debate between rival points of view.

Discerning readers will take notice, however, and realize that El-Ad’s speech is worth searching out in spite of the Times’ efforts to draw attention away from his actual words. They can find the text and a video of his address at the B’Tselem websiteif they haven’t already found his performance posted on social media.

So it comes to this: Times readers need to read between the lines for clues to the reality deemed unfit to print, and then they must use their skills to search elsewhere for the story behind the words. This is not what we should expect from a newspaper like theTimes, with pretenses to the highest standards of ethics and performance, but readers beware: Use this journalistic product with care and a hefty dose of skepticism.

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