Archive | November 25th, 2016

NYT Advocates Internet Censorship

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Image result for NEW YORK TIMES LOGO
By Robert Parry | Consortium News 

In its lead editorial on Sunday, The New York Times decried what it deemed “The Digital Virus Called Fake News” and called for Internet censorship to counter this alleged problem, taking particular aim at Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for letting “liars and con artists hijack his platform.”

As this mainstream campaign against “fake news” quickly has gained momentum in the past week, two false items get cited repeatedly, a claim that Pope Francis endorsed Donald Trump and an assertion that Trump was prevailing in the popular vote over Hillary Clinton. I could add another election-related falsehood, a hoax spread by Trump supporters that liberal documentarian Michael Moore was endorsing Trump when he actually was backing Clinton.

But I also know that Clinton supporters were privately pushing some salacious and unsubstantiated charges about Trump’s sex life, and Clinton personally charged that Trump was under the control of Russian President Vladimir Putin although there was no evidence presented to support that McCarthyistic accusation.

The simple reality is that lots of dubious accusations get flung around during the heat of a campaign – nothing new there – and it is always a challenge for professional journalists to swat them down the best we can. What’s different now is that the Times envisions some structure (or algorithm) for eliminating what it calls “fake news.”

But, with a stunning lack of self-awareness, the Times fails to acknowledge the many times that it has published “fake news,” such as reporting in 2002 that Iraq’s purchase of aluminum tubes meant that it was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program; its bogus analysis tracing the firing location of a Syrian sarin-laden rocket in 2013 back to a Syrian military base that turned out to be four times outside the rocket’s range; or its publication of photos supposedly showing Russian soldiers inside Russia and then inside Ukraine in 2014 when it turned out that the “inside-Russia” photo was also taken inside Ukraine, destroying the premise of the story.

These are just three examples among many of the Times publishing “fake news” – and all three appeared on Page One before being grudgingly or partially retracted, usually far inside the newspaper under opaque headlines so most readers wouldn’t notice. Much of the Times’ “fake news” continued to reverberate in support of U.S. government propaganda even after the partial retractions.

Who Is the Judge?

So, should Zuckerberg prevent Facebook users from circulating New York Times stories? Obviously, the Times would not favor that solution to the problem of “fake news.” Instead, the Times expects to be one of the arbiters deciding which Internet outlets get banned and which ones get gold seals of approval.

The Times lead editorial, following a front-page article on the same topic on Friday, leaves little doubt what the newspaper would like to see. It wants major Internet platforms and search engines, such as Facebook and Google, to close off access to sites accused of disseminating “fake news.”

The editorial said, “a big part of the responsibility for this scourge rests with internet companies like Facebook and Google, which have made it possible for fake news to be shared nearly instantly with millions of users and have been slow to block it from their sites. …

“Facebook says it is working on weeding out such fabrications. It said last Monday that it would no longer place Facebook-powered ads on fake news websites, a move that could cost Facebook and those fake news sites a lucrative source of revenue. Earlier on the same day, Google said it would stop letting those sites use its ad placement network. These steps would help, but Facebook, in particular, owes its users, and democracy itself, far more.

“Facebook has demonstrated that it can effectively block content like click-bait articles and spam from its platform by tweaking its algorithms, which determine what links, photos and ads users see in their news feeds. … Facebook managers are constantly changing and refining the algorithms, which means the system is malleable and subject to human judgment.”

The Times editorial continued: “This summer, Facebook decided to show more posts from friends and family members in users’ news feeds and reduce stories from news organizations, because that’s what it said users wanted. If it can do that, surely its programmers can train the software to spot bogus stories and outwit the people producing this garbage. …

“Mr. Zuckerberg himself has spoken at length about how social media can help improve society. … None of that will happen if he continues to let liars and con artists hijack his platform.”

Gray Areas

But the problem is that while some falsehoods may be obvious and clear-cut, much information exists in a gray area in which two or more sides may disagree on what the facts are. And the U.S. government doesn’t always tell the truth although you would be hard-pressed to find recent examples of the Times recognizing that reality. Especially over the past several decades, the Times has usually embraced the Official Version of a disputed event and has deemed serious skepticism out of bounds.

That was the way the Times treated denials from the Iraqi government and some outside experts who disputed the “aluminum tube” story in 2002 – and how the Times has brushed off disagreements regarding the U.S. government’s portrayal of events in Syria, Ukraine and Russia. Increasingly, the Times has come across as a propaganda conduit for Official Washington rather than a professional journalistic entity.

But the Times and other mainstream news outlets – along with some favored Internet sites – now sit on a Google-financed entity called the First Draft Coalition, which presents itself as a kind of Ministry of Truth that will decide which stories are true and which are “fake.”

If the Times’ editorial recommendations are followed, the disfavored stories and the sites publishing them would no longer be accessible through popular search engines and platforms, essentially blocking the public’s access to them. [See Consortiumnews.com’sWhat to Do About ‘Fake News.’]

The Times asserts that such censorship would be good for democracy – and it surely is true that hoaxes and baseless conspiracy theories are no help to democracy – but regulation of information in the manner that the Times suggests has more than a whiff of Orwellian totalitarianism to it.

And the proposal is especially troubling coming from the Times, with its checkered recent record of disseminating dangerous disinformation.

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Human Rights Watch and FIFA test Middle East fallout of Trump’s election

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Donald Trump in front of the Israeli flag

By James M. Dorsey

Human Rights Watch (HRW), in an initial probing of the impact of the rise of US President-elect Donald J. Trump, has asked the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights to include world football body FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) in a registry of enterprises that do business with Israeli settlements on the West Bank.

The request is based on the fact that the Israel Football Association (IFA) organises matches in Israeli settlements and allows six settlement teams to play in Israeli leagues. The Palestine Football Association (PFA), backed by HRW, has denounced the Israeli policy as a violation of FIFA policy which stipulates that teams can only play on the territory of another FIFA member with that member’s permission.

Like much of the international community, the PFA and HRW view Israeli settlements as illegal. In response, the IFA has argued that the settlements are disputed territory whose status has yet to be resolved in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

Israeli anticipation of a US policy that is far more empathetic to hard-line Israeli policy has already prompted an Israeli government committee to approve a draft bill that would legalise Jewish settlement outposts built on private Palestinian land.

Tokyo Sexwale, the head of a FIFA committee established to deal with Israeli-Palestinian football issues, is scheduled to visit Israel this week. Mr Sexwale’s visit and the HRW request take on added significance in the wake of the rise of Mr Trump.

Trump insiders have suggested that the president-elect would reverse long-standing US policy that has viewed the West Bank conquered by Israel during the 1967 Middle East war as occupied territory and Israeli settlements as illegal and has argued that they constitute an obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Israeli anticipation of a US policy that is far more empathetic to hard-line Israeli policy has already prompted an Israeli government committee to approve a draft bill that would legalise Jewish settlement outposts built on private Palestinian land. The bill is scheduled to go to the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, for the first of three separate readings and possible approval by the Supreme Court.

The bill suggests that Mr Sexwale will find little traction in this week’s talks with Israeli Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev. FIFA’s governing council is scheduled to decide the fate of the settlement clubs in early January. Mr Sexwale has said that any such decision may need to be ratified by the FIFA Congress, expected to be held in Bahrain in May.

The Israeli draft bill also suggests that Israel will be far less receptive to demands that it adhere to international law governing the status of occupied territory. Israeli perceptions are reinforced by reports that Mr Trump intends to appoint former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee as his ambassador to Israel.

Mr Huckabee, a staunch supporter of Israeli settlements and advocate of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a position espoused by Mr Trump during his election campaign, denied that the president-elect had discussed his appointment during a meeting last week.

The HRW request builds not only on international law regarding the status of the West Bank as occupied territory but also on a decision by a Swiss government-sponsored unit of the Paris-based Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to classify FIFA as a multinational body bound by the group’s guidelines rather than a non-governmental organisation.

The request is also rooted in a report commissioned by FIFA in which John Ruggie, a Harvard professor and former UN secretary-general special representative for business and human rights, that urges the football body to subscribe to the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Mr Trump’s rise is likely to give reinforced impetus to the Palestine Football Association’s plans to go to the world’s top court for sports in a bid to force its Israeli counterpart to view Israeli settlements on the West Bank as occupied territory rather than an extension of the Jewish state.

With a US administration likely to be far more empathetic to Israeli policy than past US governments toward the West Bank, the HRW request fits Palestinian strategy that has in recent years increasingly focused on confronting Israel in international organisations and the possibility of challenging the Israeli occupation in the International Criminal Court (ICC).

That strategy has so far produced mixed results. Mr Sexwale’s committee was created last year after the PFA failed to garner sufficient votes to force FIFA to suspend Israel’s membership.

Mr Trump’s election has moreover raised the prospect of a host of illiberal leaders potentially refusing to recognise international law. China refused to recognise an ICC ruling on the South China Sea even before Mr Trump’s rise, Russia has since withdrawn from the ICC, and the Philippines has suggested that it may follow suit.

Mr Trump’s rise is likely to give reinforced impetus to the PFA’s plans to go to the world’s top court for sports in a bid to force its Israeli counterpart to view Israeli settlements on the West Bank as occupied territory rather than an extension of the Jewish state. The move would constitute a first testing of Palestine’s ability to fight its battle with Israel in international courts.

The dynamics of the HRW request and the Palestinians’ strategy take on greater significance in the Trump era in which the United States itself may demonstrate greater disregard for international organisations and law.

A more pro-Israeli US policy could moreover complicate a willingness by Gulf states, led by Saudi Arabia, to openly engage with Israel based on a common interest oppose expanding Iranian influence in the Middle East and North Africa despite the Jewish state’s de facto rejection of Palestinian rights.

A IFA delegation will be attending the FIFA Congress in Bahrain, where the fate of Israeli settlement teams could ultimately be sealed. The presence of an Israeli delegation in a Gulf capital despite a Gulf ban on Israeli passport holders would follow the opening of an Israeli diplomatic mission in the United Arab Emirates accredited to the Abu Dhabi-based International Renewable Energy Agency rather than the UAE government.

The rise of Mr Trump potentially throws a monkey wrench into Middle Eastern politics, the fallout of which is uncertain. The rise of a more pro-Israeli US administration that projects Islamophobia and questions long-standing US policies and partnerships could complicate the Gulf’s more open alignment with Israel. Palestinian efforts backed by HRW to enforce international law on the football pitch may well offer an early indication of how the new winds blowing from Washington will play out in the Middle East and North Africa.

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Dakota Protests: ‘People Are Going to Die’

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Dakota Protests: ‘People Are Going to Die’: Father of Wounded DAPL Activist Sophia Wilansky Speaks Out
 
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Sunday’s brutal police assault against peaceful Dakota Access Pipeline activists left one water protector, Sophia Wilansky, at risk of losing an arm, and her distraught father spoke out Tuesday and Wednesday against the shocking show of force and demanded government action.

Wayne Wilansky, a 61-year-old lawyer and yoga teacher from New York City, spoke to a reporter in a Facebook live feed about his daughter’s devastating injury, allegedly caused by a concussion grenade.

“This is the wound of someone who’s a warrior, who was sent to fight in a war,” Wayne said. “It’s not supposed to be a war. She’s peacefully trying to get people to not destroy the water supply. And they’re trying to kill her.”

Most of the muscle tissue between Sophia’s left elbow and wrist as well as two major arteries were completely destroyed, Wayne said, and doctors pulled shrapnel out of the wound.

The Morton County Sheriff’s Department has denied using concussion grenades or any equipment that could cause an injury like Sophia’s, despite witness accounts and the shrapnel recovered by surgeons from Sophia’s arm.

The police in Morton County, North Dakota are acting with such brutality, Wayne warned, that eventually “people are going to die.”

Watch the full interview here:

Wayne’s words were echoed on Democracy Now! by Brandi King, a U.S. Army combat veteran and fellow water protector who helped transport Sophia to the hospital.“[Y]ou don’t expect those kind of wounds happening when they’re not in combat,” King said. “That was just—just felt like it was a combat wound, you know, looked like it was a combat wound. She had shrapnel wounds. She didn’t have any burns. Her arm was split open. Her skin, her flesh was ripped off of her arm. Her bones were broke.”

A medic with Standing Rock Medic and Healer Council, who was on the scene on Sunday, made similar comparisons in comments to InsideClimate News: “I think of Birmingham, [Alabama], I think of Wounded Knee, it felt like low-grade war,” Michael Knudsen said. “If we hadn’t been there on Sunday night, people would have probably died. The use of water canons for eight hours on hundreds and hundreds of demonstrators in 22 degrees [F] is enough to kill someone.”

Sophia’s prognosis was made far worse by the fact that ambulances couldn’t breach the police blockade of a main access road, which water protectors were attempting to clear when they were attacked by the Morton County Sheriff’s Department, said Wayne.

Because of the blockade, it took over six hours for Sophia to finally reach the hospital in Minneapolis where she is undergoing multiple surgeries now, her father said. The harrowing delay very likely caused additional harm, Wayne added, because “every minute counts” with an injury as severe as Sophia’s.

And Sophia’s injury was no accident, Wayne said.

“The police did not do this by—it was an intentional act of throwing it directly at her,” he said in a statement released by the Standing Rock Medic and Healer Council. “Additionally police were shooting people in face and groin intending to do the most possible damage.”

Sophia fears that the pipeline company, Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), is going to kill her, requesting that her father stay by her hospital bed to protect her, Wayne said.

ETP head Kelcy Warren also told reporters early last week that he had offered to “reimburse” the government of North Dakota and Morton County for the costs of the militarized police force, but government officials denied receiving such an offer.

Wayne reported the attack on his daughter to the FBI and the Justice Department, he said, adding that the Justice Department is investigating. But in his description to Democracy Now!, the FBI appeared to behave as though they were investigating Sophia, rather than her assailants:

Sophia was […] waiting to go to surgery. And they’re basically keeping us prisoner inside her hospital room, waiting for a warrant, which never came. They didn’t tell us what they were there for, for many hours. Eventually, I got to speak to a supervisor and learned that what they were looking for was her clothing. And I did eventually consent. I had taken her clothing back to my hotel room the night before, and I did consent to give them the clothing, eventually, after talking to the supervisors. I have an unwritten agreement, but I put it in writing anyway, that they will give me access to those materials so that I can test them, as well, and that they’ll preserve and not destroy that evidence, because I would want to see it, and I would want to have it forensically tested myself.

One FBI agent was wearing a jacket identifying him as a member of the Joint Terrorism Taskforce, the broadcast observed.

And despite the tragic result of the road blockade in Sophia’s case, the Morton County Sheriff’s Department apparently are now seeking to reinforce it by building a cement wall across the highway, water protectors said Wednesday.

“The police have built a wall between the Standing Rock Sioux reservation and Mandan/Bismarck on a public highway,” commented Honor the Earth campaigner Tara Houska on Facebook. “Cutting off direct access to a hospital appears not to [faze] the people responsible for nearly blowing off a young woman’s arm a few days ago.”

In the wake of what the Indigenous Environmental Network condemned as “crimes against humanity” by the Morton County’s Sheriff Department, the global outcry is growing.

A multiracial delegation of over 100 frontline community leaders are traveling to North Dakota and joining the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their fight; a fundraiser for Sophia’s hospital bills has been flooded with donations; and even mainstream outlets such as the editorial board of the New York Times and the hosts of the daytime talk show The View are urging President Barack Obama to take action to reroute the pipeline and protect the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and its supporters.

Yet Obama is swiftly running out of time to act, and observers fear that the brutality of the Morton County Sheriff’s Department in North Dakota may be a harbinger of what’s to come under the looming Donald Trump administration.

“Standing Rock has for months been a frontline in the fights for indigenous sovereignty and against reckless extraction,” argued journalist Kate Aronoff. “It may also now be the frontline of Trump’s America.”

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US-Russia Clash at Biological Weapons Convention Meeting

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Conflict broke out on the floor of the Biological Weapons Convention in Geneva on the third day of the three week long meeting, with the growing division between Russia and her allies on the one hand and the US and hers on the other, evidencing in verbal accusations launched by both sectors.

Russia exerted her “right of reply” to respond to statements made by the US and Sweden which implicated Syrian forces in the use of chemical weapons in that war torn country.

According to the spokesperson for the Russian Federation, such accusations were not only “off topic” at a meeting devoted to biological—not chemical—weapons but were also patently false.

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More likely, asserted the Russian spokesman, was that US-affiliated “jihadists” used chlorine gas and attempted to pin this on the embattled Assad regime. The US, he declared, is known to be supporting terrorist groups such as Al Nusra in that region.

Not to be left out in the cold, the US-connected Ukrainian spokesperson also defended the US’s assertions. The representative from Syria also weighed in, stating he had no problem being referred to as “Bashar al Assad’s delegate”—apparently intended as a slur against the delegate—and spoke in support of the current regime in Syria.

I think of this conference at the United Nations as Ground Zero. Every five years, there is a Review Conference of the Biological Weapons in Geneva, Switzerland. For three weeks, delegates from over a hundred and seventy nations meet to discuss the latest advances in biological weapons—whose got ’em, who might have ’em and what to do to protect a vulnerable world from their proliferation and deployment.

It is a fairly low profile meeting, with little press interest and no major movements in international policy. For the fact is that the BWC is virtually the only international arms treaty that has no verification mechanism and no means of ensuring compliance.

However, if one has been following the bio trail, one might come to the conclusion that it is a very hot topic, littered with all kinds of evidence that state parties are failing to comply with the terms of the treaty and may have active biological weapons programs which they are attempting to obscure from international oversight.

One such state party, potentially the most powerful state party in the room, would be the United States of America. And nowhere was the clash of cultures which has split the world into US devotees and US critics more in evidence than in the Convention Hall that Wednesday morning, as US-aligned and non-aligned sectors accused each other of using the Convention for propaganda purposes.

Things might have cooled down after this exchange, as the NGOs were then scheduled to make their brief presentations. As it turned out, most of the NGOs were fairly staid in their presentations, intoning the necessity of making the world safer in face of the increasing threat of biological weapons. A new kid on the block, The International Office for Innovation in Reducing Crime, detailed a strategy to address biorisks while the usual suspects, including UPMC and Vertic, made presentations which highlighted their very public profile as policy analysts.

Some of you may already know that I was also scheduled to present on Wednesday. Representing ITHACA, a grassroots NGO established in 2009 for the purposes of engaging the US on pivotal human rights issues, I had traveled to Geneva to inform the Convention of the wealth of documentation pointing to biological weapons treaty violations by “the leader of the free world.” I made this trip to Geneva not because I believed that the UN would magically step in and correct the situation. Understanding the limitations of the treaty as well as the obvious tilt at the UN in favor of the US, I made this effort because the gravity of the situation demands attention from every possible sector.

My six minute presentation touched on a number of points wherein the bioweapons activity of the US had hit major media and a couple where the media had ignored the story. To read the presentation entire, you may click here.

On leaving the Convention Hall, I was accosted by the presenter from UPMC (even though UPMC is part of a private university and presents itself as civil society, it is rife with “fellows” such as Jen January Thierren, who works at the CDC but received a fellowship from UPMC. Such blurring of lines between government and civil society raises questions about who is leading whom around by the nose). Dr Gigi Gronvall, whose bio reads like a case study in the melding of government with private bioresearch, confronted me with a heated accusation that my presentation was “fact free.”

So I asked her what was not factual. I also mentioned that, as I informed the Convention at the end of my statement, I am available to provide documentation as to the allegations. How could I help her?

She didn’t seem able to provide any input, however (other than a round of name calling). She did say that I said that the live anthrax sent last year to 194 labs worldwide was “intentional.” However, as my presentation reveals, I said no such thing.

Rather, I said that the determination that the problem was the deactivating equipment at Dugway was “nonsensical” due to the fact that the same problem happened eight years prior and nothing was done to fix it.

At that point, Scott Spence from Vertic came storming out and started yelling at me. “We work hard on these issues and you show up every five years and drop a bomb. I am ashamed to be in the same room with you!” His face was red and contorted with anger.

Then he flounced back into the Convention. I guess he didn’t want to take me up on my offer to supply documentation to support my allegations.

Dr. Gronvall then came back from another tack. “What does the deactivating equipment at Dugway have to do with lead in the water in Flint Michigan?” she asked.

“I never said it had anything to do with it,” I replied.

“Well, why did you bring it up?” she demanded.

“I had five minutes to provide a brief overview of non compliance,” I replied. “I was attempting to bring home the message about the vulnerability in the USA’s water systems.”

“Ah ha!!” she cried. “You think the US is non compliant? The US is the good guy here!” she asserted.

“You really believe that?” I said.

“Yes!” (She was yelling now).

“Then I am very sorry for you,” I said, terminating the conversation.

What has become clear through these two events—the war of words between the West and Russia, followed by the outrage generated by my presentation—is that we are not all living in the same world any more. The world has been split into “US aligned” and “US skeptical.” The hologram created to obscure the reality of US aggression,world wide, must be considered side by side with the facts—no WMDs in Iraq, and finger pointing about chemical weapons in Syria that boomerangs back at the accuser.

If the US is becoming more strident and shrill in the war of words then it is apparent that the hologram is breaking apart, as reality keeps asserting itself. What we can conclude here is how important a multi-polar world really is. A landscape which provides multiple perceptions, multiple takes on reality and multiple possible solutions is a world rich in potential. A world only governed by one power, one agenda, is an Orwellian nightmare.

Out of the hundreds of press contacts I made before traveling to Geneva for the BWC, one bore fruit. TASS, the Russian giant news agency, ran an article about our concerns that the US is violating the BWC. Out of the legion of contacts I made with the mainstream Western news agencies, not one picked up the story.

And in case it isn’t quite clear what the story may be, let’s not leave you in a state of confusion. A deliberately caused pandemic, selectively delivered, has the potential of decimating the population of the US, or at least the targeted groups. That would be a holocaust of a different color, one done under the guise of plausible deniability.

If enough people know what is in the works, it becomes more difficult for the dark sleight of hand to strike. It is that simple. The truth can not only set you free—it may just keep you living.

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Syria: Nazi Army Transports Saudi Zio-Wahhabi to a Local Field Hospital

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Posted by: Kitty Moses
_73252291_golan heights

Nazi army transported several wounded Saudi Zio-Wahhabi’s from the ”Free Syrian Army” (FSA) and Zio-Wahhabi Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham (formerly Al-Nusra Front) on Thursday to a local field hospital in the occupied Golan Heights.

Saudi Zio-Wahhabi were attempting to forestall the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) progress near the Hadar-Quneitra Road on Thursday before sustaining heavy casualties as a result of intense clashes.

This is not the first time that Nazi army has been accused of treating Saudi Zio-Wahhabi in their medical facilities; last year, an Nazi ambulance was attacked by Syrians living in the occupied territories, killing oneZio-Wahhabi after in the process.

Nazi regime denies that they offer any-kind of military support to the Saudi Zio-Wahhabi’s in Syria, despite the fact they repeatedly attack the Syrian Arab Army once the opposition forces launch offensives (e.g. Golan Heights offensive in October).

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The West Casually Ignores the Crimes Committed by “Moderate Terrorists” in Aleppo

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aleppo

Speaking at a UN Security Council session held to discuss the humanitarian situation in Aleppo, Syria’s permanent representative to the UN Bashar Al-Jaafari said that no one in the world is more committed than the Syrian government to protect the Syrians’ lives which suffer from the terrorism of armed organizations. He added, that terrorist attacks on civilians in Aleppo thrice coincided with the announcement of humanitarian pauses which were aimed at civilian’s lives saving.

However, the West stubbornly ignores the significant efforts made by the Syrian authorities to rescue civilians including the introduction of humanitarian pauses, organization of humanitarian corridors, and delivery of humanitarian assistance.

In addition, Al-Jaafari pointed out that all who commit crimes should be declared terrorists, no matter which group they belong to. Anyone who raises a weapon against civilians can’t belong to the “moderate” opposition.

A striking example of the relevance of his words is a rocket attack on a primary school in Aleppo in the Al-Furqan on Sunday, November 20. It resulted in death of ten people, including eight children. More than 70 people were wounded.

Obviously, this attack does not have any explanation, because there are no military targets or positions of the government troops in the vicinity of the school.

In addition, it is shocking that the Western media did not react to the incident. Most likely the media tried to conceal the horrors and atrocities committed by the radical terrorists in Syria on a daily basis. It’s still not clear who was behind the attack, terrorists or militants of the opposition. In fact it is not so important especially for the parents of killed and wounded children. There isn’t and couldn’t be any justification for these crimes.

Now it becomes clear why Washington continues to ignore the crimes of terrorists in Aleppo. The US failed to separate opposition fighters from the terrorists in Aleppo, because the majority of the opposition forces joined terrorists and their crimes are of the same kin.

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Egypt jails 3 anti-coup presenters for ‘false news’

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Image result for SISI CARTOON
MEMO 

An Egyptian court on Saturday slapped three anti-coup TV presenters with a 3-year jail term each in absentia for spreading false news.

Egyptian authorities accuse Mohamed Naser, a presenter at the Mekameleen satellite channel, and two other colleagues of incitement and spreading false news.

The presenters, for their part, say they expose human rights abuses committed by Egypt’s military-backed authorities.

Saturday’s verdict, which still can be appealed, came shortly after an Egyptian court slapped the head of Egypt’s press syndicate and two board members with a 2-year jail term each for harbouring two journalists sought by the authorities at the syndicate’s headquarters.

In May, police raided the syndicate’s premises in Cairo, arresting the two journalists for allegedly “inciting protests” and “plotting to overthrow the ruling regime”.

Syndicate officials have decried the raid – the first in the syndicate’s history – as a “blatant assault on journalists’ dignity” and have demanded the interior minister’s dismissal.

Egyptian authorities have launched a harsh crackdown on dissent following the 2013 coup against Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president.

Last year, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said more than 20 journalists had been detained by Egyptian authorities since the coup.

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Naziyahu praises Sisi

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Image result for Netanyahu IN NAZI UNIFORM CARTOON

During yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, Nazi Prime Minister Benjamin Naziyahu praised Egyptian Zionist puppet Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s “courageous leadership”.

Naziyahu criticised Zionist puppet Mahmoud Ab-A$$ policies of inciting Palestinians through the idea of the right of return.

“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas refuses to come to direct negotiations without preconditions, continues to incite his people regarding the idea of a right of return and erasing the State of Israel, and is not taking the right steps to start calming things and preparing public opinion for reconciliation with the State of Israel,” he added.

During the meeting, he referred to the visit of the former Egyptian Zionist puppet Anwar Sadat to Jerusalem and his speech to the Nazi parliament ‘Knesset’ that launched the Sadat-Nazi regime ‘peace’ deal 39 years ago, describing the visit as “historic”.

“A peace agreement was achieved between Israel and Egypt through direct negotiations; this agreement has stood for almost 40 years, currently under the courageous leadership of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. I note this because here one can see the contrast with what is occurring vis-à-vis the Palestinians,” he said.

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State crimes against democracy

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Image result for State crimes CARTOON
By Prof Lance de Haven-Smith | CanSpeccy

1. What are State Crimes Against Democracy (SCADs)?

I coined the term “State Crimes Against Democracy” in a peer-reviewed article published by Administrative Theory & Praxis, the journal of the Public Administration Theory Network. SCADs are defined as “concerted actions or inactions by government insiders intended to manipulate democratic processes and undermine popular sovereignty.” Until recently, scholarly research on political criminality has given little attention to antidemocratic conspiracies in high office, focusing instead on graft, bribery, embezzlement, and other forms of government corruption where the aim is personal enrichment rather than social control, partisan advantage, or political power. However, SCADs are far more dangerous to democracy than these other, more mundane forms of political criminality because of their potential to subvert political institutions and entire governments or branches of government.

2. What are some examples of SCADs in recent U.S. history?

Examples of SCADs that have been officially proven include the Watergate break-ins and cover up; the secret wars in Laos and Cambodia; the illegal arms sales and covert operations in Iran-Contra; and the effort to discredit Joseph Wilson by revealing his wife’s status as an intelligence agent. Examples of suspected SCADs include the fabricated attacks on U.S. ships in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964; the “October Surprises” in the presidential elections of 1968 and 1980; the assassinations of John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King; the attempted assassinations of George Wallace and Ronald Reagan; the election breakdowns in 2000 and 2004; the numerous defense failures on 9-11-2001; the anthrax mailings in October 2001; and the misrepresentation of intelligence to justify the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

3. Are suspicions about SCADs “conspiracy theories”?

The concept of State Crimes against Democracy was developed, in part, to replace the term “conspiracy theory.” The conspiracy-theory literature about assassinations, 9/11, and other suspicious events has generally examined each event in isolation. The SCAD construct was introduced to move inquiry beyond incident-specific theorizing. It delineates a crime category comparable to white collar crime, organized crime, and hate crime. SCAD research looks for patterns across events. The objective is to develop (a) an empirically grounded theory of elite political criminality, (b) forensic methods for SCAD detection and investigation, and (c) political reforms to discourage SCADs from being committed in the first place.

4. Why are SCADs difficult to detect?

SCADs are usually complex conspiracies involving people with expertise in law, law enforcement, and police procedures. Ordinary crimes are often solved by pressuring criminals to inform on one another, but this may be impossible with SCADs because they are often organized like covert intelligence operations. Each element of the operation is compartmentalized, and information about participant roles is shared only on a need-to-know basis.

5. Why are SCAD suspects seldom convicted and punished?

One reason SCADs often go unpunished is that the agencies assigned to investigate what may be high crimes often bear some blame or have some connection to the events in question; hence, personnel in these agencies are inevitably tempted to conceal evidence that would implicate or embarrass the agencies or their top managers. In the investigation of the assassination of President Kennedy, for example, both the FBI and the CIA concealed evidence of their contacts with Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby (Talbot, 2007). Likewise, in response to the inquiry into the defense failures surrounding 9-11, the Department of Defense appears to have withheld from the 9-11 Commission evidence that military intelligence agents had uncovered the 9-11 hijackers’ activities well in advance of September 2001. SCAD investigations and prosecutions are also impeded by Presidential pardons and commutations. Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon without even allowing a full investigation into all of Nixon’s possible crimes. Similarly, George H.W. Bush pardoned the Iran-Contra conspirators and effectively prevented further investigation of his own role in the affair. George W. Bush appears to have had similar motives with respect to Scooter Libby. In commuting Libby’s sentence rather than issuing a pardon, Bush made it impossible for Congress to compel Libby’s testimony in any further inquiry into Plame’s exposure.

6. Why do the mainstream media spurn “conspiracy theories”?

There are powerful norms among political, economic, and media elites that discourage speculation about corruption in high office. In elite discourse, convention prohibits suspicions from being voiced about top officials unless their guilt can be proven unambiguously by “smoking gun” evidence. This norm does not come from the principle in American jurisprudence that suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty. The presumption of innocence was never intended to outlaw suspicions. Rather, it calls for suspicions to be tested with thorough and fair investigations grounded by procedural rules for procuring and presenting evidence. Norms against conspiratorial speculations in elite discourse function to protect the legitimacy of elites as a class.

7. Was 9/11 a SCAD?

Much circumstantial evidence suggests the Bush-Cheney Administration may have somehow been involved in 9-11. The Administration ignored many warning signs that the 9-11 terrorist attack was imminent and that the attack might include hijackings; the CIA had a working relationship with bin Laden, and provided weapons, money, and technical support to Islamist terrorists in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation; some officials appear to have received warnings not to fly on 9-11; the Twin Towers and Building 7, which collapsed at near free-fall acceleration, are suspected of having been brought down by controlled demolition; chemical tests have found traces of Thermate (an incendiary for cutting steel) in dust from the Trade Center site; and, as is usual with most SCADs, the Twin Towers crime scene was cleaned up quickly and given only a superficial investigation.

8. What patterns have been uncovered with SCAD research?

Several patterns stand out when SCADs and suspected SCADs are considered comparatively. First, many SCADs are associated with foreign policy and international conflict: the Gulf of Tonkin incident; the burglary of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office; Iran-Contra; 9-11; Iraq-gate; the assassinations of John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy; and the attempted assassinations of Patrick Leahy and Tom Daschle. All of these SCADs contributed to the initiation or continuation of military conflicts.

Second, SCADs are fairly limited in their modus operandi (MO). The most common SCAD-MOs are assassinations and mass deceptions related to foreign policy. Other MOs include election tampering, contrived international conflicts, and “black bag” burglaries. All of these MOs are indicative of groups with expertise in the skills of espionage and covert, paramilitary operations.

Third, many SCADs in the post-WWII era are associated with two presidents: Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. Nixon was not only responsible for Watergate and the illegal surveillance of Daniel Ellsberg, he alone benefited from all three of the suspicious attacks on presidential candidates in the 1960s and 1970s: the assassinations of John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy, and the attempted assassination of George Wallace. The SCADs that benefited Bush include the election-administration problems in Florida in 2000 and in Ohio in 2004; the defense failures on 9/11; the (U.S. defense grade) anthrax attacks on top Senate Democrats in October 2001; Iraq-gate; and the multiple and specious terror alerts that rallied support for Bush before the 2004 presidential election.

9. Are there any patterns in assassination targets?

The range of officials targeted for assassination is limited to those most directly associated with foreign policy: presidents and senators. Presidents are most vulnerable when they have Vice Presidents who are more closely aligned than they are to military and intelligence elites. This was the case for both Kennedy and Reagan. Senators are most vulnerable when the Senate is very closely divided along partisan lines and the death of a single senator will shift control of the Senate to the more hawkish party. This was the situation when Senator Paul Wellstone was killed in a suspicious plane crash, and when anthrax was mailed to Senators Daschle and Leahy.

Most other high-ranking officials in the federal government have seldom been murdered even though many have attracted widespread hostility and opposition. In the post-World War II era if not generally, no Vice Presidents have been assassinated, nor have any members of the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Supreme Court. If lone gunmen have been roaming the country in search of political victims, it is difficult to understand why they have not struck more widely, especially given that most officials receive no Secret Service protection.

10. What do SCAD patterns reveal about SCAD perpetrators?

SCADs frequently involve presidents either as victims or principals, benefit military and military-industrial elites, and employ the skills of intelligence and paramilitary operatives. This policy locus could mean that the nation’s civilian leadership is being targeted by military and intelligence elites, or that military and intelligence assets and capabilities are being politicized by the civilian leadership, or both. In any event, officials at the highest levels of American government appear to be using deception, conspiracy, and violence to shape national policies and priorities. This sub rosa manipulation of domestic politics is an extension of America’s duplicity in foreign affairs and draws on the nation’s well-developed skills in covert operations.

Posted in USAComments Off on State crimes against democracy

UK’s Iraq war probe designed to ‘avoid blame,’ Whitehall memos reveal 

NOVANEWS
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RT 

The injury into UK’s involvement in the 2003 invasion of Iraq was designed by the government to avoid allocating blame to individuals and departments, memos obtained under the Freedom of Information Act have reportedly revealed.

The papers were made public thanks to Chris Lamb, an FOI campaigner from Bristol, who had won a two-year court battle for the right to access classified memos by government officials relating to the creation of the Chilcot Inquiry. The memos were penned in the four-week period in May and June 2009, the Observer reported.

The documents revealed that high-level politicians in Britain sought to ensure that the probe would not result in branches of the government or individuals being held legally liable for the Iraq war. Some officials opposed a public inquiry due to the amount of daily publicity, cost and, ironically, long time such a procedure would take.

The Chilcot Report, released in July, was the culmination of seven years of investigation, started by Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2009, and chaired by Sir John Chilcot. Although the investigation had found that Saddam Hussein had not posed any credible threat to the West – nor were there any WMD in his possession – it stopped short of assigning any blame to Tony Blair, who was UK prime minister at the time of the invasion, or any officials in his government.

Now it has been reportedly revealed that officials at the highest levels were involved in driving the inquiry to that outcome.

“The inquiry was hobbled before it even started, with tight restrictions on what it could do that were not fully made public,” Lamb told the newspaper.

The Observer reports that according to the memos, former cabinet secretary under Brown, Sir (now Lord) Gus O’Donnell ignored Whitehall protocol when he made Margaret Aldred the secretary on the inquiry – one of the most senior roles with the investigation.

Aldred had chaired the Iraq senior officials group during the period Chilcot was investigating and her appointment ran against the advice by Cabinet Office official Ben Lyon, who said in one memo that the secretariat should not draw from civil servants, and specifically that they “should not have been involved in Iraq policy since 2002.”

Other people involved in the 2003 war helped set up the inquiry, including Sir Jeremy Heywood, who served as Blair’s parliamentary private secretary until 2003, and former spy chief Sir John Scarlett, who was the central figure in trumpeting up the so-called Iraq dossier on Saddam Hussein’s non-existant arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.

In another memo, O’Donnell advised to avoid a legal focus, and recommended that the investigation be structured so as to prevent “any conclusion on questions of law or fact, which create circumstances which expose organizations, departments and/or individuals to criminal or civil proceedings or judicial review.” Part of this approach was not to have any judges or lawyers among the inquiry appointees.

Another big point for the investigation was to keep it secret rather than public. Lyon warned that a public inquiry would “attract a daily running commentary,” like the 2003 Hutton inquiry into the death of Iraq weapons inspector David Kelly. O’Donnell used the same reasoning and warned that a public inquiry would “threaten legal liability for individuals” and “take a long time.”

Brown initially wanted the injury to be carried by the Privy Council and announced this procedure in June 2009. But after a public outcry he agreed to make some of the hearing public.

Posted in Iraq, UKComments Off on UK’s Iraq war probe designed to ‘avoid blame,’ Whitehall memos reveal 


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