Archive | December 2nd, 2016

Holiday Hardship: Austerity Cuts Hit Poor UK Children Whose Families Rely on Benefits

Image result for Poor UK Children PHOTO

More than 300,000 children living in low-income households in Britain are set to plunge further into poverty thanks to a controversial austerity measure introduced earlier this month by the Conservative government.

On November 7, a cap on benefits began to be rolled out nationwide, significantly reducing the total amount in benefit money people out of work can receive. New research from the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) reveals that many UK families will lose more than £100 ($124) a week from the controversial household limit benefit cap that came into force this month.

The CIH is now urging the government to reconsider lowering the household limit on benefit payments or be left with a disturbing rise in poverty and even homelessness.

The lower benefit cap will see the annual limit of total benefits per household of £26,000, or £500 per week, reduced to £23,000 in London and £20,000 outside the capital. In August, the government’s Department for Work and Pensions suggested that the number of households to be adversely affected by the cap totals 244,000 children, with families losing £60 a week on average.

However, the CIH research shows an even bleaker picture, claiming a total of 319,000 children will sink further into poverty, with many families losing up to £115 a week. The group estimates around 88,000 households will be affected by the severe welfare cut — predominantly those with large families or high rents.

With eye-wateringly expensive rent to pay, particularly in London, and rising food and energy costs with the arrival of cold weather, losing up to £115 a week will devastate many British families relying on benefits to get by.

The household benefits cap was announced by the former Chancellor George Osbourne in 2015, and approved by Parliament in March of this year. Ministers backing the cap say it will incentivize people living on benefits to find work, as those on benefits with a job will not find be subjected to the limit. According to government officials, the cap is a “clear incentive to move into a job.”

However, such claims have been criticized by opponents of the welfare cap, with many experts citing evidence that shows people living in poorer households find themselves out of work for a host of reasons — and not because they want to be. For example, as free childcare isn’t available in Britain until a child is two, many single parents with children find going to work all but impossible.

Seeing their benefits cut, families surviving on already stringent family budgeting say the cap will prove devastating. As Gemma, a single mother of three in South East England who is unable to work and relies on benefits to survive, told Occupy.com: “My weekly budget is already stretched to the limit and having it reduced will mean something will have to give — food, heating, clothes, and as for Christmas presents, there won’t be many under the tree this Christmas.”

Making It More Difficult to Find Work

While Tory officials claim the benefits cap is designed to push people back into work, research has found that ironically the opposite occurs. Studies concur that due to rising poverty, hunger, debt and housing insecurity, cuts to benefits make it more difficult for the unemployed to find work. The controversial benefits sanctions imposed on people claiming job seeker’s benefits, which were introduced several years ago, were found to be counterproductive, leaving vulnerable claimants distressed, worse off financially and reliant on food banks.

As Kirsty McHugh, chief executive of the Employment Related Services Association, told The Guardian: “For the vast majority of jobseekers, sanctions are more likely to hinder their journey into employment.”

John, from Darlington in the North East, has been unemployed and living on benefits for eight months. He told Occupy.com, “It’s simple: when you can’t afford a decent meal and a new suit because you’ve had your benefits cut, you’re less likely to be given a job because you look scruffy, tired and a long way from being the model candidate.”

Children Paying the Price

Figures from the Children’s Society show that 3.9 million children are already living in poverty in the UK The new cap on what households can claim on benefits will likely raise that figure, as children continue to pay the steepest price for austerity measures, the Society warns.

The latest cost-saving tactic by Conservatives is a sharp contrast with Prime Minister Theresa May’s pledge that Britain become a “country that works for everyone.” Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of the Children’s Society, described the cap as being a “blunt instrument trying to solve a complex problem.”

“Given the Prime Minister’s aspiration of making Britain a country that works for everyone, it is deeply disappointing that the government is pushing ahead with an ongoing agenda of cuts to financial support for children in low-income families,” Reed said in a statement. “Making savings by cutting help for the poorest children is unnecessary and unfair.”

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Cornel West on Keith Lamont Scott Case: Yet Again an Officer Gets Away With Killing a Black Man

NOVANEWS

 

Image result for Cornel West CARTOON

 

In Charlotte, North Carolina, people took to the streets Wednesday night to protest the announcement that police officer Brentley Vinson will not face charges for fatally shooting African American father Keith Lamont Scott. We talk to Dr. Cornel West about the Keith Lamont Scott case and the national issue of police brutality.

TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Jimi Hendrix here on Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman with Nermeen Shaikh.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: In Charlotte, North Carolina, people took to the streets, Wednesday night, to protest the announcement that police officer Brentley Vinson, will not face charges for fatally shooting African American father Keith Lamont Scott. At least four people were arrested as protesters marched with signs reading, “How to get away with murder: Become a cop.”

PROTESTER 1: Hands up!

CROWD: Don’t shoot!

PROTESTER 1: Hands up!

CROWD: Don’t shoot!

PROTESTER 2: Don’t kill us dead in the street. You incarcerate our brothers and —

AMY GOODMAN: Keith Lamont Scott’s killing by police in September sparked massive protests in Charlotte and nationwide. Scott’s family says he was reading a book in his car in the parking lot waiting to pick up his son after school when he was approached by police officers. The dashboard camera video of the interaction, which was released after the protests, shows Scott exiting his vehicle and taking steps backwards with his arms at his sides. In the video, police fire four shots at Scott as he falls to the ground. In October, an independent autopsy ruled the shooting was a homicide.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: But on Wednesday, Mecklenburg County District Attorney Andrew Murray announced the officer Brentley Vinson, who is black, will not face charges and that the shooting was justified.

DIST. ATT. ANDREW MURRAY: After a thorough review, and given the totality of the circumstances and credible evidence in this case, it is my opinion that officer Vinson acted lawfully when he shot Mr. Scott. He acted lawfully.

AMY GOODMAN: Mecklenburg County District Attorney Andrew Murray went on to say the investigation found Scott had a gun at the scene of the shooting, although he admitted there was no evidence that Scott actually raised the gun at officers. North Carolina is an open-carry state, which means it’s legal to carry a gun. In a statement, Scott’s family members said they’re profoundly disappointed by the decision not to charge officer Vinson, who’s been on paid leave during the investigation. To talk more about the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott and police brutality, we’re still joined by Cornel West, professor emeritus at Princeton University who’s headed to Harvard University because he’ll be teaching in January. Your response to the lack of an indictment?

CORNEL WEST: We see it again. We see it again. I mean, it’s harder to send a policeman who kills an innocent civilian to jail than it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. I was just in court in White Plains with my dear brother Kenneth Chambers Jr. Same thing. Sitting there watching all of the witnesses. Here comes the jury and the judge. The death of our dear brother Kenneth Chamberlain Sr., no justice.

AMY GOODMAN: And people should go to our website to see the extensive work we did on that. But that was a man who was an Army veteran, had a medic alert necklace. And somehow when he was sleeping, rolled over on it. The medical people called. This was not a police interaction. Called for support for him that woke him up when people were knocking at the door. He said he was OK he didn’t want to open the door, not to worry. And they knocked down that door and killed him.

CORNEL WEST: And killed him. And then dragged him with the bloodstains shown on the door and so forth. But, we see this over and over again. What it generates, though, and this is something that’s a sign of hope, that we have a younger generation that is on fire for justice. They’re tired of this callousness and indifference toward the vulnerable. And it’s multiracial, it’s multigendered, it’s multi-sexual orientational, it’s multireligious and non-religion. That is a very positive thing. Because what neofascist elites are counting on is conformity and complacency. Look at Mitt Romney. Trump is a fraud. He’s phony. His promises are worth a diploma from Trump University. Then yesterday, he strikes me as very wise and I think it would be an honor to work with them. Just no integrity at all. But, this is not just the Mitt Romney’s, we got to watch the Democrats. You watch these neoliberals more and more bend, you watch them start rationalizing what ought to be called into question. We’ve got to draw some lines in the sand. That doesn’t mean we demonize others, but they have to have some principles. There’s got to be some integrity, some back home. And thank God we’ve got a number of young folk who do understand that.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, you have this case in North Carolina. At the same time in Charleston, South Carolina, prosecutors made closing arguments, Wednesday, in the murder trial of the white police officer Michael Slager who was captured on video, just a bystander who happened to see this happen, shooting African American Walter Scott in the back as Scott ran away. He was stopped at an AutoZone parking lot where he was going for his car, and this police officer shot him dead. Now, he was in the same jail as Dylan Roof, who now is going on trial and supposedly representing himself.

CORNEL WEST: After he kills the precious black folk in the AME Church, is taken for a hamburger on the way to jail because he’s hungry. I mean, this is the depths of more bankruptcy and spiritual blackout that I’m talking about, you see. And of course, Breitbart, what do they do? They put the Confederate flag up after these black people are killed and act as if somehow that’s some disinterested, nonpartisan act. And we know the Confederacy is neo-Nazi in the core in terms of its hatred of black people in defense of slavery. So that we’re dealing in times in which we have to be very clear, and we have to have plain speech, Frank speech, and we have to have people who are willing to put bodies on the line. This is the kind of moment in which we live. This is not a moment for the lukewarm and the faint hearted and the half-truths and the attempts to rationalize something that they think is so complicated when it’s very clear, and yet we have to do it in such a way that John Coltrane’s “Love Supreme” is at the center. You’ve got to be full of rage because you hate the injustice, but you can’t be hating people. You got to hate the injustice and keep love at the center. And that’s very much what was wonderful about what you did at North Carolina. You were there because you’ve got a love for precious indigenous brothers and sisters —

AMY GOODMAN: North Dakota.

CORNEL WEST: I mean North Dakota. North Dakota. And the measure of American civilization has always been, how do you treat indigenous brothers and sisters? Because slavery was not the first original sin of America. The first original sin was the dispossession of our brothers and sisters of

AMY GOODMAN: North Dakota.

CORNEL WEST: I mean North Dakota. North Dakota. And the measure of American civilization has always been, how do you treat indigenous brothers and sisters? Because slavery was not the first original sin of America. The first original sin was the dispossession of our brothers and sisters of —

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

NERMEEN SHAIKH

Nermeen Shaikh is a broadcast news producer and weekly co-host at Democracy Now! in New York City. She worked in research and non-governmental organizations before joining Democracy Now! She has an M.Phil. from Cambridge University and is the author of The Present as History: Critical Perspectives on Global Power (Columbia University Press).

AMY GOODMAN

Amy Goodman is the host and executive producer of Democracy Now!, a national, daily, independent, award-winning news program airing on more than 1,100 public television and radio stations worldwide. Time Magazine named Democracy Now! its “Pick of the Podcasts,” along with NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

 

 

 

 

 

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The Orwellian War on Skepticism

NOVANEWS

Special Report: Official Washington’s rush into an Orwellian future is well underway as political and media bigwigs move to silence Internet voices of independence and dissent, reports Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Under the cover of battling “fake news,” the mainstream U.S. news media and officialdom are taking aim at journalistic skepticism when it is directed at the pronouncements of the U.S. government and its allies.

One might have hoped that the alarm about “fake news” would remind major U.S. news outlets, such as The Washington Post and The New York Times, about the value of journalistic skepticism. However, instead, it seems to have done the opposite.

Author George Orwell.

Author George Orwell.

The idea of questioning the claims by the West’s officialdom now brings calumny down upon the heads of those who dare do it. “Truth” is being redefined as whatever the U.S. government, NATO and other Western interests say is true. Disagreement with the West’s “group thinks,” no matter how fact-based the dissent is, becomes “fake news.”

So, we have the case of Washington Post columnist David Ignatius having a starry-eyed interview with Richard Stengel, the State Department’s Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy, the principal arm of U.S. government propaganda.

Entitled “The truth is losing,” the column laments that the official narratives as deigned by the State Department and The Washington Post are losing traction with Americans and the world’s public.

Stengel, a former managing editor at Time magazine, seems to take aim at Russia’s RT network’s slogan, “question more,” as some sinister message seeking to inject cynicism toward the West’s official narratives.

“They’re not trying to say that their version of events is the true one. They’re saying: ‘Everybody’s lying! Nobody’s telling you the truth!’,” Stengel said. “They don’t have a candidate, per se. But they want to undermine faith in democracy, faith in the West.”

No Evidence

Typical of these recent mainstream tirades about this vague Russian menace, Ignatius’s column doesn’t provide any specifics regarding how RT and other Russian media outlets are carrying out this assault on the purity of Western information. It’s enough to just toss around pejorative phrases supporting an Orwellian solution, which is to stamp out or marginalize alternative and independent journalism, not just Russian.

Washington Post columnist David Ignatius. (Photo credit: Aude)

Washington Post columnist David Ignatius. (Photo credit: Aude)

Ignatius writes: “Stengel poses an urgent question for journalists, technologists and, more broadly, everyone living in free societies or aspiring to do so. How do we protect the essential resource of democracy — the truth — from the toxin of lies that surrounds it? It’s like a virus or food poisoning. It needs to be controlled. But how?

“Stengel argues that the U.S. government should sometimes protect citizens by exposing ‘weaponized information, false information’ that is polluting the ecosystem. But ultimately, the defense of truth must be independent of a government that many people mistrust. ‘There are inherent dangers in having the government be the verifier of last resort,’ he argues.”

By the way, Stengel is not the fount of truth-telling, as he and Ignatius like to pretend. Early in the Ukraine crisis, Stengel delivered a rant against RT that was full of inaccuracies or what you might call “fake news.”

Yet, what Stengel and various mainstream media outlets appear to be arguing for is the creation of a “Ministry of Truth” managed by mainstream U.S. media outlets and enforced by Google, Facebook and other technology platforms.

In other words, once these supposedly responsible outlets decide what the “truth” is, then questioning that narrative will earn you “virtual” expulsion from the marketplace of ideas, possibly eliminated via algorithms of major search engines or marked with a special app to warn readers not to believe what you say, a sort of yellow Star of David for the Internet age.

And then there’s the possibility of more direct (and old-fashioned) government enforcement by launching FBI investigations into media outlets that won’t toe the official line. (All of these “solutions” have been advocated in recent weeks.)

On the other hand, if you do toe the official line that comes from Stengel’s public diplomacy shop, you stand to get rewarded with government financial support. Stengel disclosed in his interview with Ignatius that his office funds “investigative” journalism projects.

“How should citizens who want a fact-based world combat this assault on truth?” Ignatius asks, adding: “Stengel has approved State Department programs that teach investigative reporting and empower truth-tellers.”

Buying Propaganda

After reading Ignatius’s column on Wednesday, I submitted a question to the State Department asking for details on this “journalism” and “truth-telling” funding that is coming from the U.S. government’s top propaganda shop, but I have not received an answer.

The Washington Post building in downtown Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Washington Post)

The Washington Post building in downtown Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Washington Post)

But we do know that the U.S. government has been investing tens of millions of dollars in various media programs to undergird Washington’s desired narratives.

For instance, in May 2015, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) issued a fact sheet summarizing its work financing friendly journalists around the world, including “journalism education, media business development, capacity building for supportive institutions, and strengthening legal-regulatory environments for free media.”

USAID estimated its budget for “media strengthening programs in over 30 countries” at $40 million annually, including aiding “independent media organizations and bloggers in over a dozen countries,” In Ukraine before the 2014 coup ousting elected President Viktor Yanukovych and installing a fiercely anti-Russian and U.S.-backed regime, USAID offered training in “mobile phone and website security,” skills that would have been quite helpful to the coup plotters.

USAID, working with currency speculator George Soros’s Open Society, also has funded the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, which engages in “investigative journalism” that usually goes after governments that have fallen into disfavor with the United States and then are singled out for accusations of corruption. The USAID-funded OCCRP collaborates with Bellingcat, an online investigative website founded by blogger Eliot Higgins.

Higgins has spread misinformation on the Internet, including discredited claims implicating the Syrian government in the sarin attack in 2013 and directing an Australian TV news crew to what appeared to be the wrong location for a video of a BUK anti-aircraft battery as it supposedly made its getaway to Russia after the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in 2014.

Despite his dubious record of accuracy, Higgins has gained mainstream acclaim, in part, because his “findings” always match up with the propaganda theme that the U.S. government and its Western allies are peddling. Higgins is now associated with the Atlantic Council, a pro-NATO think tank which is partially funded by the U.S. State Department.

Beyond funding from the State Department and USAID, tens of millions of dollars more are flowing through the U.S.-government-funded National Endowment for Democracy, which was started in 1983 under the guiding hand of CIA Director William Casey.

NED became a slush fund to help finance what became known, inside the Reagan administration, as “perception management,” the art of controlling the perceptions of domestic and foreign populations.

The Emergence of StratCom

Last year, as the New Cold War heated up, NATO created the Strategic Communications Command in Latvia to further wage information warfare against Russia and individuals who were contesting the West’s narratives.

NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.

NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.

As veteran war correspondent Don North reported in 2015 regarding this new StratCom, “the U.S. government has come to view the control and manipulation of information as a ‘soft power’ weapon, merging psychological operations, propaganda and public affairs under the catch phrase ‘strategic communications.’

“This attitude has led to treating psy-ops — manipulative techniques for influencing a target population’s state of mind and surreptitiously shaping people’s perceptions — as just a normal part of U.S. and NATO’s information policy.”

Now, the European Parliament and the U.S. Congress are moving to up the ante, passing new legislation to escalate “information warfare.”

On Wednesday, U.S. congressional negotiators approved $160 million to combat what they deem foreign propaganda and the alleged Russian campaign to spread “fake news.” The measure is part of the National Defense Authorization Act and gives the State Department the power to identify “propaganda” and counter it.

This bipartisan stampede into an Orwellian future for the American people and the world’s population follows a shoddily sourced Washington Post article that relied on a new anonymous group that identified some 200 Internet sites, including some of the most prominent American independent sources of news, as part of a Russian propaganda network.

Typical of this new McCarthyism, the report lacked evidence that any such network actually exists but instead targeted cases where American journalists expressed skepticism about claims from Western officialdom.

Consortiumnews.com was included on the list apparently because we have critically analyzed some of the claims and allegations regarding the crises in Syria and Ukraine, rather than simply accept the dominant Western “group thinks.”

Also on the “black list” were such quality journalism sites as Counterpunch, Truth-out, Truthdig, Naked Capitalism and ZeroHedge along with many political sites ranging across the ideological spectrum.

The Fake-News Express

Normally such an unfounded conspiracy theory would be ignored, but – because The Washington Post treated the incredible allegations as credible – the smear has taken on a life of its own, reprised by cable networks and republished by major newspapers.

MSNBC's "Hardball" host Chris Matthews

MSNBC’s “Hardball” host Chris Matthews

But the unpleasant truth is that the mainstream U.S. news media is now engaged in its own fake-news campaign about “fake news.” It’s publishing bogus claims invented by a disreputable and secretive outfit that just recently popped up on the Internet. If that isn’t “fake news,” I don’t know what is.

Yet, despite the Post’s clear violations of normal journalistic practices, surely, no one there will pay a price, anymore than there was accountability for the Post reporting as flat fact that Iraq was hiding WMD in 2002-2003. Fred Hiatt, the editorial-page editor most responsible for that catastrophic “group think,” is still in the same job today.

Two nights ago, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews featured the spurious Washington Post article in a segment that – like similar rehashes –didn’t bother to get responses from the journalists being slandered.

I found that ironic since Matthews repeatedly scolds journalists for their failure to look skeptically at U.S. government claims about Iraq possessing WMD as justification for the disastrous Iraq War. However, now Matthews joins in smearing journalists who have applied skepticism to U.S. and Western propaganda claims about Syria and/or Ukraine.

While the U.S. Congress and the European Parliament begin to take action to shut down or isolate dissident sources of information – all in the name of “democracy” – a potentially greater danger is that mainstream U.S. news outlets are already teaming up with technology companies, such as Google and Facebook, to impose their own determinations about “truth” on the Internet.

Or, as Ignatius puts it in his column reflecting Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy Stengel’s thinking, “The best hope may be the global companies that have created the social-media platforms.

“‘They see this information war as an existential threat,’ says Stengel. … The real challenge for global tech giants is to restore the currency of truth. Perhaps ‘machine learning [presumably a reference to algorithms] can identify falsehoods and expose every argument that uses them. Perhaps someday, a human-machine process will create what Stengel describes as a ‘global ombudsman for information.’”

Ministry of Truth

An organization of some 30 mainstream media companies already exists, including not only The Washington Post and The New York Times but also the Atlantic Council-connected Bellingcat, as the emerging arbiters – or ombudsmen – for truth, something Orwell described less flatteringly as a “Ministry of Truth.”

Big Brother poster illustrating George Orwell's novel about modern propaganda, 1984.

Big Brother poster illustrating George Orwell’s novel about modern propaganda, 1984.

The New York Times has even editorialized in support of Internet censorship, using the hysteria over “fake news” to justify the marginalization or disappearance of dissident news sites.

It now appears that this 1984-ish “MiniTrue” will especially target journalistic skepticism when applied to U.S. government and mainstream media “group thinks.”

Yet, in my four decades-plus in professional journalism, I always understood that skepticism was a universal journalistic principle, one that should be applied in all cases, whether a Republican or a Democrat is in the White House or whether some foreign leader is popular or demonized.

As we have seen in recent years, failure to ask tough questions and to challenge dubious claims from government officials and mainstream media outlets can get lots of people killed, both U.S. soldiers and citizens of countries invaded or destabilized by outsiders.

To show skepticism is not the threat to democracy that Undersecretary Stengel and columnist Ignatius appear to think it is.

Whether you like or dislike RT’s broadcasts – or more likely have never seen one – a journalist really can’t question its slogan: “question more.” Questioning is the essence of journalism and, for that matter, democracy.

[In protest of the Post’s smearing of independent journalists, RootsAction has undertaken a petition drive, which can be found here.]

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Urgent – who is assassinating Al-Qaïda officers since 9 November?

NOVANEWS

Since the defeat of Hillary Clinton in the United States elections, several jihadist officers have been assassinated – not only in East Aleppo, but also in Idlib, al-Raqqah, and in Iraq.

For the moment, it is not clear whether these murders are the result of inter-gang rivalry, or if the Obama administration is cleaning up the signs of its crimes before the investiture of President Trump.

Since 1978, the United States and Saudi Arabia have been recruiting and organising jihadists against the USSR, then against Russia, in violation of Resolution 2625 and the Charter of the United Nations. During the wars in Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Algeria, Chechnya, Iraq, Libya and Syria, more than 1 million people have been killed by jihadists.

Translation
Pete Kimberley

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A bombing campaign against the arming of jihadists in Syria

NOVANEWS

The aircraft carrier Amiral Kuznetsov has finally arrived off the coast of Syria, where it has been awaited for more than three months. As soon as it was positioned in the area, a bombing campaign by the Russian air force and navy began, both from the flotilla and from the air base in Hmeimim.

The flotilla fired a number of Kalibr mid-range missiles, while the bombers entered into action in the provinces of Idleb, Homs, and Aleppo. The main targets were the arsenals, arms factories and toxic gas laboratories.

For the last week, the Syrian Arab Republic has addressed SMS messages to the connected telephones in the zones currently targeted. It encouraged all the people living close to these targets to evacuate immediately.

The appropriate medical products and material have been distributed to hospitals in the proximity of the targets in order to be able to care for people who may be wounded by the dispersion of the weapons of mass destruction hit by the aviation.

Translation
Pete Kimberley

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The fatwa of the Supreme Military Council of the Army of Conquest

NOVANEWS

The Supreme Military Council of the Army of Conquest which controls East Aleppo has published the following fatwa –

Declaration to the patient citizens of Aleppo

Praise be to Allah, who, by his support, has glorified his worshippers, and who, by his power, has humiliated the enemies of Islam. Peace be to our Master and Final Prophet Mahomet, and to his family and to his companions, until the day of the last judgement.

The High Command of the Army of Conquest is fully aware of the extent of the suffering which has been patiently endured by the people of Aleppo, which is bombarded and besieged by the régime. After having consulted the Mujahideen from other factions, it is announcing by the present fatwa that it will authorise civilians of less than 14 years old, and more than 55 years old, to leave the sectors under its control,on the condition that those who wish to leave must pay, in the name of the jihad, the sum of 150,000 Syrian pounds to support their brothers who are fighting on the front.

With the permission and the help of Allah, we promise you a great victory. Hurry towards a paradise more vast than heaven and earth. Contribute to the jihad by offering money, if you are unable to participate in person. Obey Allah and attain his paradise. Carry the good news to those who wait patiently.

Those people who attempted to escape without paying were shot.

In fact, no family is able to collect the necessary sum to free their children and old people after such a long period of occupation, during which food was sold to them by the jihadists at exorbitant prices.

The Supreme Military Council of the Army of Conquest is under the command of the Supreme Judge of the Tribunal of the Charia, the Saudi cheikh Abdullah al-Muhaysini. This person has declared his allegiance to al-Qaïda. In an interview broadcast on 28 October, he declared that the combatants present in Syria are foreigners supported by a few Syrian collaborators, and he reproached the Syrians for refusing to participate in the jihad.

The Army of Conquest is a coalition of several armed groups around the al-Nusra Front (in other words, al-Qaïda in Syria) which became the Syrian Liberation Front (Fatah al-Cham).

Translation
Pete Kimberley

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14,000 inhabitants of Mosul fall back to Rakka

NOVANEWS

While the forces of the «Global Coalition against the Islamic State» are attacking Mosul, more than 14,000 inhabitants have fled the city in the direction of Rakka and Idleb in Syria.

This is the first time that we have seen a displacement of the population in the direction of zones controlled by the jihadists.

Daesh is an Iraqi product. During the planning of the interdiction of the «Silk Road», the CIA had decided to add, to the 50,000 jihadists of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, 80,000 combatants of the Order of the Naqchbandis (mainly from the ranks of the Iraqi army as it was before the US invasion) and 120,000 combatants from the Iraqi Sunni tribes [1].

We still don’t really know what the «Global Coalition against the Islamic State» are really attempting in Mosul. The only journalists present are exclusively those who have been enrolled in the Coalition Forces, and whose reports are submitted to military censorship. There are no journalists in Mosul itself.

Currently, the only visible result of this operation is the transfer of the population who have come to declare their attachment to the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood and swell the numbers of the foreigners who occupy North Syria.

Translation
Pete Kimberley

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Mario Draghi: Do Not Forget To Complete The Euro Area!

NOVANEWS
Adelina Marini

The regular monetary dialogue in the economic committee of the European Parliament with the head of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, on November 28 practically marked the end of forecasting and predictability. There were more “we do not knows”and “it cannot be predicted” heard in the room than clear positions and expectations for the future, especially in the context of the results from the presidential elections in the USA and the last referendum for the year, holding the potential to shake the European Union and most of all financial stability – the one in Italy on December 4. Most questions during the dialogue gravitated namely around the risks to euro area stability following the Sunday referendum and the inauguration of Donald Trump in January. Mario Draghi (an Italian), however, adamantly avoided answering those questions.

Let us focus on what we do know

Recent events show quite clearly that the geopolitical situation has turned into the main source of instability in the short term, explained Mario Draghi, but hurried to say that the behavioural model so far is one of strong reactions in the short term, which subside in the middle term. The conclusion, according to Mr Draghi, is that markets have become more resilient than could have been expected years ago. “Does it mean we know what is going to happen in the medium term? The answer is ‘no’“, said Mario Draghi, starting a series of “I don’t know”s, because current changes are “too profound” making the assessment of the final result very difficult.

In such a period of not knowing what future is coming, it is best that the EU concentrates on its own business – the development of the common market and strengthening the Union. He noted that currently the focus of the European debate is totally shifted from the euro area towards security and although admitting that both subjects need Europe to be unified, he warned that Europe can best protect itself only with a strong and resilient economy. “One important lesson from the crisis is that a half-built house is not stable, it is fragile”, added Draghi and called for progress on the five presidents’ report. In his words, the largest risk at the moment is the impairment of growth. “Low productivity growth, legacy problems in the banking sector and limited progress with structural reforms are all issues that need to be tackled swiftly”, Mr Draghi told MEPs.

Another risk is a prolonged period of low or negative interest rates and abundant liquidity, for this is fertile ground for risks to financial stability. Those risks may come from “some other foreign large jurisdiction raising rates” (Mario Draghi did not explicitly name the United States) or from other sources. Currently, the largest risk is slow growth.

Under pressure from MEPs to say what the ECB is planning in response to a possible uncertainty, coming from the USA and Eurosceptic parties in Europe, Mario Draghi hinted of new decisions of the ECB Governing Council in December. At its meeting then, the GC is expected to discuss “different possibilities”, which would ensure inflation of under or close to 2% in the middle term. To Draghi the key challenge to the new Washington administration would be its positions on the regulations during the series of meetings of the Basel committee in the following months. Regarding the growing support for Eurosceptic parties over recent years, Mario Draghi reminded that despite that, polls show that people are not against decision-making at the European level in general.

What citizens want is finding solutions to problems, which have a cross-border aspect like migration, security, terrorism, and climate change. “By and large citizens have remained supportive for the single currency even in difficult times. Popular support for the euro has remained high throughout the crisis. However, support for national and European institutions dropped notably over the past few years”, he stressed. Responding to demands by MEPs to comment on the possible risks to the Italian banking system from the Sunday referendum, Mario Draghi defended Italy by explaining that public debt sustainability is measured mainly through stability and the ability to repay debts. In this sense, the Italian debt is sustainable. Besides, Italian primary budget surplus (excluding interest payments on debt) is among the highest in member states from the euro area.

Anyway, having in mind the debt-to-GDP ration (above 130%) Italy is vulnerable in the case of shocks. This is why, it is important that the country sticks to its commitments on the fiscal rules (the Stability and Growth Pact). He absolutely refused to comment on individual bank cases.

The Brexit – one more referendum?

For the first time, Mario Draghi discussed at greater length the expectations from the EU exit of Great Britain. His assessment is that the impact will be heavier for Great Britain than for the euro area. “We should never forget that, no matter how economically relevant the UK may be, it is a smaller reality than the euro area. So, anything will certainly have an impact. The size of this impact is by definition bound to be contained given the disproportion in size between the two entities”, explained Mario Draghi. He did warn, however, that the common market cannot go backward. It is important to preserve its integrity and the homogeneity of rules and their implementation. No steps back should be made regarding regulation, oversight, and supervision of banks and financial market infrastructures.

It was curious to hear his reply to questions by a British MEP, which could be interpreted as him recommending another referendum in Great Britain. He said that many of the questions connected to the London City are left unanswered. The most important lack of an answer, however, is to the question about what is the concept of the British government. “But we’re also looking for a concept by the UK government, for a concept where the UK government will, in a sense, share its views and plans with their own citizens and see what they say about that before we can actually express our views on this”, were Mario Draghi’s words.

He did not fail to mention the latest polls, which show that, actually, after the referendum support for European integration in the United Kingdom, contrary to expectations, has grown. However, there is a lot to be learned from this referendum. The main lesson is that the EU needs to produce results in the citizens’ eyes. Only this could reinstate trust in the European project.

Risks to financial stability

Mario Draghi was also heard on Monday in his quality of a boss of the European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB) – a body created in the beginning of the crisis to watch for the appearance of great systemic risks. During the hearing, he presented the annual report of the board, which prioritises on the risks stemming from a prolonged period of low interest rates. Within such an environment, pressure has increased on the profitability and solvency of financial institutions, which offer guaranteed return (life insurers and certain pension funds). With time, the resilience of the banking sector also declines.

Another problem, outlined in the report, is the necessity of clearing up the problem with data exchange. Reforms, implemented in recent years, have considerably improved the availability of data for the purpose of oversight in different sectors of the EU financial system, but there are still gaps which need to be filled. More specifically, word is of the disclosure requirements and understanding of leverage (regarding investment funds for example). The report sends out recommendations to eight member states, where problems have been found in the middle term at the residential real estate markets. Those are Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

Mario Draghi warned that protectionism is no solution. It never brought anyone prosperity and does not increase citizens’ welfare. The main problem of globalisation is that there was no protection provided for those who did not manage to take advantage of it. And this needs to be the solution – “not to go back to something, which is probably impossible to go back to anyway through protectionism, but rather take care of the ones who lost a lot through the globalisation process”, recommended the ECB boss following a three-hour dialogue with MEPs of the European Parliament’s economic committee.

Translated by Stanimir Stoev

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The jihadists put down the demonstrations in East Aleppo with live ammunition

NOVANEWS

The Supreme Military Council of the Army of Conquest has put a bloody end to the demonstrations of 17 and 18 November 2016 in East Aleppo.

The Syrian inhabitants were protesting against the decision by the Supreme Military Council to forbid them to leave the city. The Coucil answered them with live ammunition. According to the spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Defence, Igor Konachenkov, during the first demonstration – «17 people, including two adolescents of 13 and 15 years old, were killed on the site, with 40 others wounded. The terrorists arrested about ten men whom they considered to be the leaders of the riots and took them to an unknown location. They were shot the same evening».

The Supreme Military Council, which already controls the tunnels, sowed land-mines along the access points to the city, thereby preventing anyone from entering or leaving the city by road.

The Supreme Military Council is composed of foreign jihadists, and placed under Saudi command.

Translation
Pete Kimberley

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France and Turkey against the Kurds

NOVANEWS

The Western medias are unable to explain the wars which are shattering the «complicated Orient» because they refuse to see them in the regional context. Rather than discussing whether the events in Syria are a revolution, a civil war or an aggression, or whether or not the repression in Turkey is justified, Thierry Meyssan proposes another reading of the facts by presenting the example of the Kurds.

JPEG - 27.8 kb
Syrian Kurd Salih Muslim, a collaborator of President Erdoğan, has led part of his community into defeat. Today, he is trying to make amends, and has been placed under an arrest warrant by Ankara.

The Western medias treat the events in the Near East state by state. Their readers, who know almost nothing about the history of the region, are not surprised by that, but remain unable to understand this «complicated Orient» which is in a perpetual state of war.

However, the Near East can not be compared with Europe, for example. It more closely resembles Africa, because its frontiers are not based on geographical realities, but on arrangements by the colonial powers. During the last century, the states of the Near East worked hard to transform their populations into true Peoples. Finally, only Egypt, Syria and Iraq have managed to do so.

Over the last five years, the Western Press has therefore dealt with alleged «democratic revolutions» in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Syria, supposed «Iranian interference» in Bahreïn, Lebanon and Yemen, and «terrorism» in Iraq. But on the ground, to the contrary, all the forces concerned, with the exception of the Gulf petro-dictators, have denounced this interpretation of events and presented a completely different regional view.

For example, let us look at the situation of the Kurds. I could easily explain the situation of Daesh in the same way, but this second example would be even more difficult for my Western readers to admit.

According to the Western Press, the Kurds lead a blissful life in Iraq, where they enjoy almost total autonomy in the context of a federal system opportunely imposed by the United States. They are fighting in Syria against both the Alawite dictatorship of the Assad family and the extremist Sunni oppression of Daesh. And they are being viciously repressed in Turkey. Nonetheless, they form a People which has the right to an independent state in Syria, but not in Turkey.

For the Kurds themselves, the reality is completely different.

The Kurds have a culture in common, but not the same language, nor the same history. To explain this in simple terms, the Kurds of Iraq were globally pro-US during the Cold War, while the Kurds of Turkey and Syria were pro-Soviet. Worried about the strong popular support for the USSR in Turkey, the United States first organised a mass emigration to Germany, so that the Turks would not be tempted to break ties with NATO, then encouraged the repression of the Kurds of the PKK. During the civil war of the 1980’s, hundreds of thousands of Turkish Kurds took refuge in Syria with their leader, Abdullah Öcallan, and were protected there. In 2011, they took Syrian nationality.

Now let’s get to the heart of the matter. No-one mentioned the Kurdish question during the first Syrian war – the war that was aimed at expanding the «Arab Spring» by using the techniques of 4th generation warfare. Everything built up slowly from the second Syrian war, which started with the conference of the so-called «Friends of Syria» in Paris, July 2012.

The declarations by the leaders of the NATO countries suggested that the Syrian Arab Republic would soon be overthrown, and that the Muslim Brotherhood would attain power, just as they had managed to do in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. Turkey thus invited the populations of the North of Syria to move into Turkey to shelter from the trauma of the «revolution». In September, Ankara named a «wali» – Veysel Dalmaz. A «wali» is a Turkish prefect, but the term dates from the Ottoman empire and so evokes the oppression by the Sultan. Under the direct authority of Prime Minister Erdoğan, Dalmaz distributed billions of petro-dictators’ dollars to the «refugees».

At the time, everyone noticed the attempt to weaken Syria, but no-one understood the under-lying motivation for this transfer of the population. And yet a close colleague of ambassador Samantha Powell, Kelly M. Greenhill, had published a university article on Strategic engineering of migration as a weapon of war [1], which should have caught the attention. Turkey built new cities to house the Syrians, but curiously, did not make them available. They are still empty. Ankara began sorting the refugees according to their political opinions, and either held them in camps where they could receive military training before being sent back to fight at home, or else allowed them to mingle with the Turkish population, and in this case, exploited them for work.

In the North of Syria, the remaining populations were mainly Christian, Kurd and Turkmen. The latter passed massively into the service of Turkey, and were supervised by the «Grey Wolves», a fascist militia created in 1968 on behalf of NATO. From its side, Damascus created Christian and Kurdish militias to ensure the security of its territory. For two years, all the Syrian Kurds fought under the orders of the Syrian Arab Republic.

Betraying Abdullah Öcallan – founder of the PKK – and his Kurdish brothers, one of these men, the Syrian Salih Muslim, renewed his ties with Turkey, despite the fact that they had massacred part of his family in the 1980’s. On 31 October 2014, he attended a secret meeting with Presidents Erdoğan and Hollande, and concluded a pact with them. France and Turkey agreed to recognise an independent state in the North of Syria, of which he was to become President. In exchange, he agreed to «cleanse» the area by massacring its Christian population, just as other Kurds had massacred Christians for the Ottomans a century ago. He was also obliged to accept the expulsion of members of the Turkish PKK on his territory, while the Syrian Sunni refugees would replace them in the Kurdish areas of Turkey.

This plan has a long history – it had been drawn up by Ahmet Davutoğlu and his French counterpart Alain Juppé, in 2011, before Turkey’s entry into the war against Libya, and before the events in Syria. It was publicly assumed by the Pentagon in September 2013, when Robin Wright published in the New York Times the map of this future state and the area which was going to become Daesh’s Caliphate. The first state was of course to be named «Kurdistan», although it was nowhere near the territory of the historic Kurdistan as specified by the King-Crane Commission (1919) and recognised by the Treaty of Sèvres (1920). The second state was to be named «Sunnistan», and would straddle the borders of Iraq and Syria, definitively cutting the «Silk Road».

This plan pursued the objectives of Sultan Abdülhamid II, the Young Turks and the Lausanne Treaty (1923) – to create a Turkey which would be exclusively Sunni, and to expel or massacre all other populations. It was precisely in order to prevent the realisation of this plan, and to condemn those who already begun to implement it by massacring the Armenians and the Pontic Greeks, that Raphaël Lemkins created the concept of «genocide» – a concept which thus applies today to the responsibilites of Messrs. Juppé and Hollande, like those of Messrs. Davutoğlu and Erdoğan.

Please do not make any mistake about what I am writing – however much Paris and Ankara want to create an exclusively Sunni Turkey, the majority of Sunnis are equally opposed to the idea. And it is for this reason that we are witnessing such a ferocious repression, both in Turkey and in Daesh’s Caliphate.

In July 2015, the Erdoğan government sent Daesh to commit an attack in Suruç (Turkey), killing both Kurds and Alevis – the local equivalent of the Syrian Alawites – who were expressing their support for the Syrian Arab Republic. This event destroyed the truce of 2009. Simultaneously, the Turkish government cut off food and support for a carefully-selected part of the Syrian refugees. This was the beginning of the execution of Turkey’s part of the plan. And the beginning of Turkey’s descent into Hell.

In August, Turkey pushed the Syrian refugees who had no more resources to flee to the European Union. In October, in Syria, Salih Muslim’s men attacked the Assyrian Christian communities and attempted to «Kurdicise» their schools by force, while in Turkey, Erdoğan’s AKP destroyed 128 political bureaux of the pro-Kurd HDP and more than 300 small Kurd-owned businesses. The Turkish special forces massacred more than 2,000 Turkish Kurds and partially destroyed the towns of Cizre and Silopi. Though our readers may have followed these events as they occurred, the Western medias have not mentioned them, and are only just beginning, one year later, to speak about the martyrdom of Cizre and Silopi.

With the help of Massoud Barzani – the «life-time» President of Iraqi Kurdistan – Salih Muslim imposed obligatory conscription for young Syrian Kurds in order to swell the ranks of his troops and create a reign of terror. In this case too, the Western medias never mentioned it, preferring romantic evocations of the creation of the state of Rojava. Nonetheless, these young Syrians revolted en masse and joined up with the Syrian Defence Forces.

In September 2016, President Erdoğan announced that Turkey was going to naturalise some of the Syrian refugees who had stayed in his country – those who support the plan for an exclusively Sunni Turkey. They would be offered apartments which were built four years ago and which were ready for them.

Trapped between the jaws of his personal ambitions and the solidarity of his troops with their Turkish brothers, the collaborator Salih Muslim turned against Ankara, who issued an arrest warrant against him in November. After having received the Secretary General of NATO, Président Erdoğan announced that he intends to «renegotiate» the Lausanne Treaty. He also intends to annex some Greek islands, the North of Cyprus, a part of Syria and Iraq, and create, in 2023, the 17th Turko-Mongol Empire.

Already, the Turkish army is gnawing away at Syria (Jarabulus) and Iraq (Bashiqa). When Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi warned Turkey about this act of war, President Erdoğan arrogantly retorted that al-Abadi was «not on his level» and told him to «stay in his place ». Questioned twice before the Security Council, Turkish ambassador and ex-Minister for Foreign Affairs Feridun H. Sinirlioğlu responded that his country acts for the good of its populations, and that Iraq has no right to evoke international law, nor complain.

On a battlefield, finally, there can only be two camps, not three. The current war opposes Turkey on one side, which intends to divide its populations according to their community and ensure the supremacy of one over all the others. On the other side, the Syrian Arab Republic, which defends peace and equality by mixing the communities.

Which camp are you in?

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