Archive | January 4th, 2017

Palestine: 2016 Deadliest Year for Palestine in a Decade

NOVANEWS
Israel Made 2016 Deadliest Year for Palestine in a Decade

Israeli forces killed more than 100 people, including 33 children, in 2016, marking the highest numbers of deaths in Palestine in a decade.

[Editor’s note: I am of the opinion that one of the key reasons why Netanyahu and the Zionists had to get Trump into office was in order to further their genocidal agenda to ethnically cleanse the entirety of Palestine of it’s rightful residents, thus creating a homogenous Zionist state free from non-Jews and Arabs. This is something Obama and Clinton would not have allowed, only a Zionist puppet would go along with such an evil agenda. Ian]

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Telesur
Israel Made 2016 Deadliest Year for Palestine in a Decade

More than 111 Palestinian were killed in 2016, almost all of them at the hands of Israeli forces, according to a tally by the Palestinian Ma’an news agency which also reported that the past year has been the deadliest for Palestinian children in more than a decade.

Since October 2015, the occupied West Bank has seen a surge in violence as part of a repressive Israeli crackdown on Palestinian protests against the Israeli occupation and a wave of stabbing attacks on Israeli soldiers and settlers by lone Palestinian attackers.

Since the outbreak of the violence in 2015, more than 246 Palestinians have been killed, according to Ma’an, which also found that at least 135 lost their lives between October and December of 2015 alone.

Most of those Palestinians killed, 97 percent, were shot and killed by Israeli occupation forces and police, the agency said. However, less than half of Palestinian victims were killed by Israeli forces as they carried or at least attempted stabbing attacks. The rest lost their lives during clashes and protests in the West Bank.

Israel has been criticized by several human rights bodies and even the United Nations for its systematic extrajudicial killings of alleged attackers, who only had knives for weapons and whose threat could have been neutralized without using deadly force.

“Drawing from statistics, a general portrait emerges of the average Palestinian to have died during this time: a young man in his late teens or early twenties from the West Bank district of Hebron, killed by Israeli security forces,” Ma’an’s report said of the findings and added that out of all Palestinians killed, 34, or 30.6 percent, were from the Hebron district.

The vast majority of Palestinians deaths were men and boys 99 out of the 111 dead being male. Meanwhile, 12 Palestinian women and girls were killed at the hands of Israeli forces.

Most of the deaths took place in the West Bank while seven people, including two children, were killed in Gaza by Israeli airstrikes.

While 12 Palestinian women and girls were killed — 10 of whom while allegedly or actually carrying out attacks — the vast majority killed were Palestinian men and boys. Of the 111 Palestinians killed, 99 were male.

Also, 2016 was the deadliest for Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank in a decade, as at least 33 were killed by Israeli fire, according to a recent report from Defense for Children International Palestine.

The group said 81 Palestinian children were injured in 2016, “the vast majority of which were at the hands of Israeli forces,” adding that in several cases of child injuries and fatalities, Israeli forces prevented paramedics from approaching and treating children suffering from gunshot wounds.

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Washington Post: We lied about Russian operation hacking the US

NOVANEWS

Perhaps NWO agents are scared. Perhaps they think that Russia will cut them to pieces again this year. Go Russia.

“The Washington Post just made my day. Cheers.”

The Washington Post declared last week that a Russian operation hacked a Vermont utility computer. And they got the circumstantial evidence to prove it. Citing “U.S. officials,” they said,

“A code associated with the Russian hacking operation dubbed Grizzly Steppe by the Obama administration has been detected within the system of a Vermont utility.”[1]

This stunning discovery, the Washington Post continued, “underscores the vulnerabilities of the nation’s electrical grid. And it raises fears in the U.S. government that Russian government hackers are actively trying to penetrate the grid to carry out potential attacks.”[2]

Russian is the bad guy. They are trying to attack us all. They want war. They want to tell us that they are in charge of the United States of America. As Neocon puppets John McCain and Lindsey Graham have said, Russia’s hacking is certainly an “act of war,” and “We have to make sure there is a price to pay.”[3] “When you attack a country,” ISIS apologist McCain told us, “it’s an act of war.”[4]

McCain could never tell us that the US has been attacking one country after another since the beginning of time.

Washington organized the overthrow of Syria’s government in 1949. In 1953, the US and Britain colluded to overthrow Iran’s popular democratic government. In 1954, the US overthrew the government of Guatemala. There followed intervention in Lebanon in 1958. Three years later came the infamous Bay of Pigs invasion and over fifty attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro.

“In 1965, the US invaded the Dominican Republic and overthrew its regime. 1973 brought the US-backed coup against Chile’s Marxist government. Nicaragua’s leftists were next on Washington’s hit list. There was masked intervention in Haiti, then a bombing and sabotage campaign in Baghdad, Iraq. A failed attempt to overthrow Iran’s elected government and more machinations in Syria and Libya, followed by outright invasions.

“There are many more to mention: Bolivia, Brazil, Congo, Turkey, Indonesia, Azerbaijan, Russia under Yeltsin, Ukraine’s ‘Orange’ Revolution, Georgia, and the overthrow of Ukraine’s elected pro-Russian government. And now, of course, Syria…

“The US may even have tried to overthrow France’s president, Charles de Gaulle. Lately, the US helped put Egypt’s bloody dictator in power, overthrowing the democratic government in the process and tapped the phone of close ally, German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“In the past, Soviet intelligence was very good at intrigue, professional spycraft and occasional ‘wet affairs.’ But the Soviets never measured up in sheer volume of meddling and regime change to the mighty US – and still don’t.”

If McCain is serious, then much of the entire world would take him and the Neocons and place them behind bars for the rest of their natural lives. They would probably deserve public execution for the crimes they have committed over the past four decades.

In any event, the Washington Post just “found out” that the Vermont incident “is not linked to any Russian government effort to target or hack the utility.”[5]

Oh, boy. The Post is now issuing a form of apology for their own cardinal blunder. But it seems that they know virtually no serious person believes their fabrications and colossal hoaxes anymore, so they have to pretend that they are doing great work. In that sense, they had to issue an “apology.”

The Washington Post has been blaming Russia for virtually any bad thing that happens in America for months, and it is no accident that they quickly produced the fake news that Russia hacked a Vermont utility computer.

It is quite obvious that NWO agents are just losing moral and intellectual power, and it is quite obvious that they are trying their best to gain some trust among the gullible. It is probably too late, since people everywhere are waking up. Perhaps NWO agents are scared. Perhaps they think that Russia will cut them to pieces again this year. Two cheers for Russia.

[1] Juliet Eilperin and Adam Entous, “Russian operation hacked a Vermont utility, showing risk to U.S. electrical grid security, officials say,” Washington Post, December 31, 2016.

[2] Ibid.

[3] “’We have to make sure there is a price to pay’: John McCain calls Russia’s hacking an ‘act of war’ and demands stronger sanctions,” Daily Mail, December 31, 2016.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ellen Nakashima and Juliet Eilperin, “Russian government hackers do not appear to have targeted Vermont utility, say people close to investigation,” Washington Post, January 2, 2016.

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Khazarian Mafia Bastardize Civilians in Middle East

NOVANEWS

New World Order agents aspire to turn the Middle East into ashes for Israel. But every step they take inexorably leads them to their own destruction.

This is the third day of the year, and perhaps you would like to do some journalistic investigation. Get a microphone. Go to any major city in America or any city around where you live. Ask a number of people about how many civilians died in Iraq alone last year.

Certainly you will not get an answer that is close to the exact number precisely because virtually no major news outlet gives a flip about innocent people dying in the Middle East. And if those major news outlets put out some figures, they will never go into the real issues because that will implicate the Khazarian Mafia and their marionettes.

According to some accounts, at least 9,148 civilians and 6,430 personnel lost their precious lives in Iraq. Last month, 3, 174 civilians died right before the new year started. Who cares about those people?

Well, certainly not the oligarchs. Certainly not the Neoconservatives. Certainly not the major news outlets. And obviously not political whores and puppets like Ann Coulter. “For my young readers,” Coulter declared, The Middle East has been a hellhole for a thousand years and will continue to be a hellhole for the next thousand years.”

Coulter seems to have magical powers. She seems to know what the future will look like in the next thousand years. But she chould never see herself as an accomplice in bringing about a “hellhole” in the Middle East. And if you think that people like Coulter is not intellectually suicidal, then think again.

Coulter believes that the war in Iraq was a “a magnificently successful war.”[1] But what about sodomy in places like Abu Ghraib? Don’t worry. Coulter already has an answer for you.

“I suffered more just listening to the endless repetition of those Abu Ghraib stories than the actual inmates ever did,” sniffs Coulter indignantly.[2] But she was just warming up. She has said elsewhere:

“Sorry we have to use your country, Iraqis, but you let Saddam come to power, and we are going to instill democracy in your country.”[3]

As you know, Coulter is delusional here. No serious person with an ounce of brain cells working together can say that Iraq war was a success. Military historian and former Colonel Andrew Bacevich, whose son died in Iraq, writes,

“Apart from a handful of deluded neoconservatives, no one believes that the United States accomplished its objectives in Iraq, unless the main objective was to commit mayhem, apply a tourniquet to staunch the bleeding, and then declare the patient stable while hastily leaving the scene of the crime.

The fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq has exacted a huge price from the U.S. military—especially the army and the Marines. More than 6,700 soldiers have been killed so far in those two conflicts, and over fifty thousand have been wounded in action, about 22 percent with traumatic brain injuries.

“Furthermore, as always happens in war, many of the combatants are psychological casualties, as they return home with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression. The Department of Veterans Affairs reported in the fall of 2012 that more than 247,000 veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars have been diagnosed with PTSD. Many of those soldiers have served multiple combat tours.

“It is hardly surprising that the suicide rate in the U.S. military increased by 80 percent from 2002 to 2009, while the civilian rate increased only 15 percent. And in 2009, veterans of Iraq were twice as likely to be unemployed as the typical American.

“On top of all that, returning war veterans are roughly four times more likely to face family-related problems like divorce, domestic violence and child abuse than those who stayed out of harm’s way.

“In 2011, the year the Iraq War ended, one out of every five active duty soldiers was on antidepressants, sedatives, or other prescription drugs. The incidence of spousal abuse spiked, as did the divorce rate among military couples. Debilitating combat stress reached epidemic proportions. So did brain injuries. Soldier suicides skyrocketed.”[4]

There is more to this Middle East issue here. CNN reported last week that “New Year’s holiday threats prompt more security.”[5] But what about precious Arabs and Muslims? We want to protect our children and love ones in America, but the Muslims deserve to die?

Oh, a slip of the pen here. I just realized that they are all terrorists and not a single one of them is innocent. As Gilad Sharon would have us believe, Muslims, particularly “the residents of Gaza,” are not “innocent” at all.

In 2015, Brown University reported that 200,000 civilians lost their precious lives in Iraq. Last year, 1,500 children lost their lives within six months alone in Afghanistan.[6] Imagine the uproar among the Neoconservative establishment if Muslims ended up killing just 50 American children in one year.

You see, New World Order agents aspire to turn the Middle East into ashes for Israel. But every step they take inexorably leads them to their own destruction. If Donald Trump again wants to be a successful president, he needs to put a stop to perpetual killings in the Middle East. Mothers and fathers are exhausted about seeing their precious sons and daughters’ dreams shattered by an essentially diabolical enterprise.

[1] Ann Coulter, Never Trust a Liberal Over 3-Especially a Republican (Washington: Regnery, 2013), 3.

[2] Ann Coulter, If Democrats Had Any Brains, They’d Be Republicans (New York: Random House, 2007), 2.

[3] Quoted in George Gurley, “Tea With Miss Coulter,” New York Observer, October 2, 2007.

[4] Andrew Bacevich, Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed their Soldiers and Their Country (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2013), 94, 105.

[5] Evan Perez and Shimon Prokupecz, “New Year’s holiday threats prompt more security,” CNN, December 30, 2016.

[6] Jack Moore, “Afghanistan: Civilian Casualties and Child Deaths Hit Record High in 2016,” Newsweek, July 25, 2016.

Posted in Middle East, Iraq, Syria, TurkeyComments Off on Khazarian Mafia Bastardize Civilians in Middle East

EU Has Lost Its Transformative Power. Enlargement Hits a Dead End

NOVANEWS
By: Adelina Marini

For the first time in the recent history of EU enlargement the year ended without conclusions for the candidate countries. This is one of the biggest news of the December European Council, held on 15 December in Brussels. Traditionally, every December, the leaders of the member states view the progress of candidates and reach conclusions which, usually, overlap with the conclusions of the European Commission in its progress reports. However, 2016 marked the beginning of the end of the enlargement process as we have known it. Latest developments, especially in Turkey, clearly show that the European Union has lost its transformative power and appeal and is no longer able to play the role of a lever for the transition to democracy and market economy in the candidate countries.

In fact, the process of weakening of the European transformative power has been going on for some time. For at least five years expansion was virtually stagnant. After the last enlargement in 2007, when the Union was joined by the unprepared Bulgaria and Romania, the process practically stopped. Croatia managed to sneak in at the last minute in 2013, but this happened in a period when the temperature of the enlargement process was already close to zero. Opening of chapters with Turkey was virtually frozen because of disagreement between the two sides about Cyprus and the lack of unity within the EU on whether Turkey, indeed, has a future as a full member in Christian Europe. Macedonia also spent more than 10 years in the freezer because of the veto of Greece. And the rest are moving so slowly along the now non-inspiring negotiation process that actually run in circles and even go backward.

In the last years of the mandate of the Commission of Jose Manuel Barroso (Portugal, EPP), there was an attempt made to revive the process by the then EU Commissioner for Enlargement Štefan Füle (Czech Republic, Socialists and Democrats), but success was symbolic. Reports each year had identical content. The most common words in the texts were “limited progress” which is synonymous with no progress, especially in the most important for transformation to democracy and the rule of law indicators – public administration, judiciary, fight against corruption and organised crime, treatment of minorities, and human rights. Amid the overall bleak picture, Füle’s attempt to inject new blood into enlargement had a short-lived effect. The EC never did dare to take more radical steps in the process, and for member states the topic was not on the agenda amid the debt crisis, then the refugee crisis,and now the severe geopolitical crisis.

Therefore, it was somehow natural to expect the statement of Barroso’s successor, Jean-Claude Juncker (Luxembourg, EPP), that within his term (2014 to 2019) there will be no further enlargement. The portfolio of commissioner for enlargement transformed into a post in charge of enlargement negotiations. However, though, there have been some changes in reporting progress. This year, it is noteworthy that the language in the reports is much sharper, problems now are called by their real names, though not all, but even half-revealed the picture is pretty bleak.

The candidate countries – further away from EU 

The most discouraging part of the report is the recognition by the Commission that several countries in the region show varying degrees of state capture. “In recent years, all countries have strengthened their frameworks for tackling corruption and organised crime. New institutions – such as the Montenegrin Anti-Corruption Agency – have been established and substantial efforts were deployed to foster specialisation, both in the police and within the judiciary. Despite these efforts, several countries in the region continue to show clear symptoms and various degrees of state capture”, says in the report. By state capture it is meant that companies, institutions, or influential persons are using illegal practises to exert influence and form policy in their best interest. They take advantage of the legal environment and the economy to follow their goals.

And another important and extremely unpleasant, although not at all new conclusion: “The declared political commitment to fight corruption has not translated sufficiently into concrete results”. Progress in building a functioning and independent judiciary remains weak, as most countries have shown problems with efficiency and lack of independence and accountability. The pressure on judges and prosecutors is common throughout the region. The report shows that in the worst condition in this sense are Turkey (after the coup) and Macedonia.

Another unpleasant conclusion is the media situation. “Freedom of expression and media remains a particular concern in most enlargement countries, albeit to different degrees. The lack of progress in this area, already observed over the past two years, has persisted and, in some cases, intensified. The situation with regard to freedom of expression has deteriorated further significantly in Turkey, in particular through arrests and prosecution of journalists on terrorism charges and closure of a wide range of media outlets”, is written in the general part of the report. In countries of the Western Balkans there is evidence of political intervention in the work of public media, non-transparent financing of media and continued threats against journalists, goes the EC’s assessment this year.

Democracy is hobbled at the level of parliaments too, as the report is noting that the functioning of democratic institutions remains a major challenge in many candidate countries. “The central role of national parliaments for the democracy needs to be embedded in the political culture”, is the recommendation of the European Commission, which notes that measures taken in Turkey following the prevented coup attempt in July raise many questions, such as the lifting of immunity off a huge number of members of the Turkish Parliament. In the Western Balkans, the functioning of parliaments has often been accompanied by boycotts. The most severe is the case of Macedonia, but there were similar boycotts in Kosovo as well. Parliamentary control over governments is weak or totally absent, often resorting to emergency procedures for adopting legislation.

Moreover, one of the tools of democracy – elections – is also showing flaws. According to the report, elections continue to be viewed as an opportunity to ensure political control over the administration, including institutions, which are independent by nature.

Economically, the situation in the countries of the enlargement process this year is slightly better. Economic growth was stronger, investments intensified, and the number of jobs has increased. However, youth unemployment is still alarmingly high, infrastructure and education systems are not well. The fiscal positions of many of the candidate countries are deteriorating. EC clearly says that the investment climate in many candidate countries is adversely affected by the continuing weakness of the rule of law and there are signs of state capture, especially regarding the independent and effective judicial systems, unequal application of competition rules, poor public finance management, and frequent changes of permits and licenses regimes.

A serious shortcoming of the Western Balkans is seen within their corporate governance frameworks, small and fragmented markets, unfinished privatisation and limited integration of regional trade.

Enlargement is not what it used to be

Prior to 2004, enlargement was done in a different geopolitical context. It was a purely internal process flowing in already allocated territories. With the exception of the Greek case, enlargement up to 2004 was undoubtedly successful. Countries, which had experienced military dictatorships, were able to transform and stand firmly on their feet. What united the countries on the left side of the Iron Curtain were common values ​​and the common enemy. With the fall of the Berlin Wall began the romantic period of the EU when the Union opened itself to integrate all those countries caught up against their will in the Soviet sphere of influence, believing that democracy and liberalism will only multiply.

This approach has completely underestimated the many pitfalls hidden in societies ruled by a communist dictatorship. These pitfalls are currently sabotaging the EU – erosion of democracy in Hungary and Poland, failure of attempts to plant it in Bulgaria. When one reads the reports on the Western Balkan countries, one feels like they are reading about Bulgaria and on 1 January it marked its 10th anniversary in the EU. Those left in the enlargement process are the most problematic countries. The EU, however, turns out to be completely unable to solve their problems. Moreover, more and more often it becomes involved in them, something which it is also quite unprepared for. And the geopolitical tension exerts pressure over the EU to compromise on its fundamentals.

The most problematic country in the process is Turkey, which seems completely lost to the EU. This year’s report reviews its progress in two parts – before the attempted coup and after. The Commission document states that EU-Turkey relations have faced the same challenges before July 15, but after it the situation has deteriorated dramatically. Turkey has gone backwards significantly in terms of fundamental rights, freedom of expression and functioning of the judiciary. There is deterioration of the security situation. Even before the assassination attempt parliament was working on a busy schedule to implement the “ambitious” government action plan for 2016, in which, however, key legislative initiatives were not in compliance with European standards.

There are also steps backwards regarding civil service and human resources management, especially after the attempted coup. The EC expresses serious concerns about gender-based violence, discrimination, hate speech against minorities, hate crimes and violations of human rights of people from the LGBTI community. The business environment also deteriorated due to targeted actions against critical media and businessmen. The quality of education is also poor, reports the European Commission.

It was namely Turkey that was the main reason behind the enlargement process being virtually frozen. At the EU General Affairs Council, when preparing the conclusions for the December summit, Austria blocked the adoption of conclusions on enlargement because it insisted that the current negotiations with Turkey be frozen. Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák, whose country presided the Council of Ministers in the second half of 2016, expressed disappointment with the lack of consensus on the conclusions. “We attach great importance to the credibility of the enlargement process and we are stressing that this is a two-way street. It’s clear to understand that the enlargement process is not about giving gifts to the participating countries but it’s really about hard and credible work that benefits both sides”, he stated at a press conference following the end of a very intensive meeting.

It was declared by the Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Meglena Kuneva as “one of the most dramatic Councils we have attended.” Meglena Kuneva was the chief negotiator during the accession of Bulgaria to the EU, and then became the first Bulgarian commissioner (consumer protection). According to her, it was very hard to find a compromise on the wording, whose purpose was to send two signals. The first is about the political values ​​that hold Europe together and the second is that the door of negotiations should stay open. Meglena Kuneva also said that for Bulgaria it is economically and geopolitically beneficial that the enlargement continues.

Due to lack of consensus there were no conclusions, but the Slovak Presidency published the draft anyways, in which an especially serious concern is expressed about the continuing backward motion regarding the independence and functioning of the judiciary, as well as in the sphere of freedom of speech. “Particularly worrying are the restrictions and measures targeting journalists, academics, and human rights defenders, as well as frequent and disproportionate bans of media sites and social media”, is said in the statement of the Slovak Presidency.

Montenegro is the state, which is the least problematic, although this year it was the arena of a heavy geopolitical clash. It is said about it in the EU that it is the most advanced, but, actually, the country marks little progress in key areas. The EC recognises that the new legal framework to increase the independence, accountability and professionalism of the judiciary, as well as the Code of Conduct has not yet been fully implemented. Corruption prevails in many areas and remains a serious problem. It is pointed out that despite some steps taken, there are no concrete results. Special attention is paid to organised crime, where a very small number of detected suspicious bank transactions are reported.

Same as other countries in the process, Montenegro, too, has made no progress on freedom of expression. In 2015, the building of a commercial medium was partially destroyed in a bomb blast, several journalists were physically and verbally attacked and threatened. There is no progress in the investigation of cases of attacks on journalists.

Serbia was the other country because of which the enlargement process stalled. It shows similar problems as Montenegro, but in addition to that Serbia has an important geopolitical significance, as it attempts to walk holding both Russia and the EU under one arm. Corruption remains prevalent and is a serious problem. There is no progress in improving the freedom of expression. All these look like minor problems at the background of tension between Serbia and Croatia, which was duly noted in the EC report and the statement of the Slovak Presidency. It is these relationships, which caused Croatia to block the opening of Chapter 26 (Education and Culture) of the negotiation process with Serbia. On 13 December, Serbia opened only two, instead of the expected three chapters, but this turned into a huge drama.

Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić had come especially for the occasion in Brussels and expected to send a strong domestic and foreign policy message of Serbian success. Outraged by the veto he left Brussels and cancelled all his appearances in the Belgian capital, blaming it on Croatia. Zagreb protested against the opening and preliminary closure of Chapter 26, which concerns education, as it believes that Serbia does not fulfil its commitments to provide textbooks and learning materials for the Croatian minority in Serbia. Bulgaria also had remarks but claims that it has not blocked the chapter.

Deputy Prime Minister Meglena Kuneva explained that Serbia had requested the opening and closing of Chapter 26. “We agree, but the Serbian Ministry of Education is planning reforms in this sector and we want to know what those reforms are. So, if we do know and are dully notified by the Serbian government what their plans are after closing the chapter, we would be able to give a very fast and adequate opinion. In this case we, too, need more time”, she explained. Replying to euinside’s question whether it was possible that under the circumstances Serbia really was not ready to open and preliminary close Chapter 26, Serbian European Integration Minister Jadranka Joksimović, visibly enraged by the situation, vehemently denied the possibility that Serbia might have not been ready.

The EC also declared that Serbia had met all conditions for opening and closing the chapter, which does not prevent member states from having objections. The moment Bulgaria receives the necessary information, Meglena Kuneva assured that everything will go on, which made it clear that there was indeed some sort of a condition. From the statements of Meglena Kuneva it became clear that Bulgaria is hiding behind the Croatian veto. Croatian Foreign Minister Davor Ivo Stier also said that there was a need for additional information. He called not to dramatise. “It is normal that within work groups additional information is looked for. There was no surprise”, he said.

In Serbia, however, the news was met in a very hostile manner. Bulgaria was barely mentioned, even though its objections were identical to the Croatian ones. There was constant talk of honour and dignity, while actually it is about commitments. The behaviour of the Serbian leadership poses a very serious question about the politicisation of the fulfilment of criteria and whether the EU is ready to compromise with criteria for geopolitical purposes. Something that has always cost the Union dearly in the long run.

The EU was not prepared for this situation, although the problems have been known long ago. Croatia kept raising the issue of the Croatian minority throughout the year. Since the Council does not want further complications, especially given how Serbia is dancing on thin ice with the EU and Russia, all reproaches were addressed to Croatia, whose leadership also did not help much to show that Croatia is a constructive participant in the negotiation process and is not using it to solve petty domestic and internal party problems. This placed the Union in a very difficult situation, drawing it into an endless regional conflict and making it an accomplice in its not-solving. In the end, just before Christmas, there was a happy ending of another Serbian-Croatian drama.

On December 23, in Belgrade, an annex was signed to the agreement on textbooks, regulating the issue of Croatian demands. The signing was attended by the ambassadors of Bulgaria, Croatia and the EU. The Croatian top diplomat, Davor Ivo Stier, announced that Commissioner Johannes Hahn had committed personally to monitoring all Serbian commitments under this chapter and Croatia will monitor their performance through chapter 23 as well, which will be closed at the very end of the negotiation process. Zagreb was satisfied with the solution and lifted its reservation. Now all that remains is that the next Council presidency, which has begun on 1 January (Malta) organises an intergovernmental conference at which chapter 26 will be opened. The outcome shows very clearly what the problem is and that when approached without politicisation it can be resolved in the interest of the most affected, namely minorities. Just two weeks and a lot of emotions (mostly in Belgrade) were needed to solve the problem

In its statement, the Slovak Presidency calls on Serbia to treat national minorities with no discrimination, including in the spheres of education and minority languages, access to media and religious services. This is verbatim the request of Croatia, and also of Bulgaria. The Presidency believes that the main priority of Serbia should be to ensure unimpeded freedom of expression and freedom of the media. Serbia is reminded that it must cooperate fully with The Hague war crimes tribunal as well as align its foreign policy with that of the Union. This is a euphemism for imposing sanctions on Russia for invading Crimea and is something that Serbia will not do anytime soon, judging by the signals coming from Belgrade.

Alas, there is no mention in either the EC report or the statement of the Presidency of the fact that more and more often there are calls by governing politicians in Serbia for the rehabilitation of Slobodan Milošević.

Until recently, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić boasted that there were no Eurosceptic political parties in the Serbian parliament like in the developed parts of the EU, but from 2016 there already is, and not just one. Because of them, the head of the EU Delegation in Belgrade, Michael Davenport, failed to present to the Skupština last year’s EC progress report on Serbia. It will not be too much to assume that from now on EU-Serbia relations will become more complex and more difficult, and the progress of the country in terms of transformation to democracy and a market economy (as Serbia still is not) would be negligible. A recently published survey showed that Serbs still have huge sympathy for authoritarian rule. Prime Minister Vučić has the greatest approval to be their leader.

Albania is the most affected country from the blocking of the enlargement process this year as it expected a decision to start negotiations. Disappointment in Tirana is immense. After several years of severe political crisis the country is trying to come out of it and those efforts are rewarded with praise in the 2016 report, mainly because of the adoption by consensus of constitutional amendments that allow for a deep and comprehensive judicial reform and the banning of convicted persons from assuming public offices. Unlike Serbia, Montenegro and Turkey, Albania is considerably better in terms of freedom of expression.

The most problematic area for Albania is the fight against organised crime. According to the EC, the country does not hold sufficient financial investigations of organised crime groups. The number of frozen or confiscated assets acquired by illegal activity is too low. It remains a very serious problem to the EU that there is a huge number of unfounded applications for asylum in the EU countries coming from Albanian citizens.

The year was turbulent for Bosnia and Herzegovina, which comes forward as the central arena for geopolitical conflict in the Balkans. The country filed an application for EU membership this year and the Council approved the launch of technical work on drafting an opinion on the application. The situation in the country, however, is extremely delicate, especially after the referendum in September in Republika Srpska. Moreover, the EC notes that there is a rebound regarding the legal framework for civil service in the Federation because it increases the risk of politicisation. Another problem outlined in the Commission report is the existence of politically motivated threats to the judicial system by individual politicians.

According to the EC, the battle against organised crime remains a major task in the fight against infiltration of criminals in the political, legal and economic system of the country. There is no progress regarding freedom of expression. “Furthermore, the Council notes with concern the lack of progress in the freedom of expression and media and expects Bosnia and Herzegovina to intensify efforts to address this issue”, is said on the subject in the Presidency’s statement. The Council further requests that in the drafting of the opinion on BiH’s membership application, the Commission takes into account the implementation of the ruling on the Sejdić-Finci case, which long held the European perspective of BiH in the freezer of the EU.

Problems in Kosovo are the same as elsewhere in the region – political interference in the judiciary, institutions and agencies, political polarisation, failure of parliamentarism, rampant corruption. The Council of Ministers is alarmed by the continuing political crisis in the country and cases of violence in parliament.

The EC notes that Macedonia is shaken by the most serious political crisis since 2001 onward. “Democracy and rule of law have been constantly challenged, in particular due to state capture affecting the functioning of democratic institutions and key areas of society. The country suffers from a divisive political culture and a lack of capacity for compromise” is the unpleasant diagnose of the Commission. It believes that the inter-ethnic situation is fragile. A step back is noted since 2014 regarding the judicial system. The EC finally admitted that the achievements of a decade of reforms were destroyed by the current political interference in the work of the judiciary. Freedom of expression and the media situation continue to be a serious challenge for Macedonia.

No progress was made towards establishing a market economy in the country. What is curious is the statement of the Presidency regarding the former Yugoslav republic. It states that if the new government urgently tackles the long overdue reforms, that would return the country onto the European path. It is not clear whether this means that Greece is ready to lift its veto and negotiations with Macedonia can be unblocked. Similar to the Serbian case, Bulgaria’s shadow can be clearly seen behind the Greek blockade. After the end of the General Affairs Council, Deputy Prime Minister Kuneva specifically focused on Macedonia by saying that great care has been given to the reading of the opinion of the international observer mission for the elections in the country in early December, according to which they fully correspond to the standards of the Council of Europe.

“It is clear, however, that, in itself, the holding of an election is a good step towards overcoming the heavy political crisis in the country, but cannot remain the only step. What is needed is fulfilment of all political commitments – as I said in my speech – made by political leaders on the Pržino agreement, as well as implementation of the reforms. These reforms include the promise of President Georgi Ivanov about the development of good neighbourly relations, which he made in Sofia during his talks with President Plevneliev and President-elect Radev”, were the words of Meglena Kuneva.

The Presidency’s statement specifically mentions the continuation of high-level and expert-level contacts between Macedonia and Bulgaria, stressing, however, that concrete results are expected.

Candidates continue to be a source of migration to the richer parts of the EU

You can see some interesting data in the EC report. In the period 2014-2015, there was a decline of population in several countries in the process – these are Albania (2 895.0 – 2 892.3 mln.), Serbia (7 149.2 – 7 114.4 mln.), BiH (3 827.3 – 3 819.5 mln.), and Kosovo (1 804.9 – 1 772.1 mln.). The picture in education is also not too pretty. The highest number of children leaving the education system early are in Turkey. In the period 2014-2015, there was a decline, but the proportion is still high – 38.3% -36.7%. Turkey is followed on this indicator by Albania, where the percentages for 2014 and 2015 were respectively 26.0% and 21.3%. BiH is third (25.2% – 26.3%). The EU average is 11.2% early school-leavers for 2014 and 11.0% for 2015. The lowest share of early dropouts is in Montenegro – 5.1% -5.7%, followed by Serbia (8.5% -7.5%). Despite the huge number of dropouts, Turkey spends the most on education – 5.1 percent of GDP, followed by Serbia with 4.2% in 2014 and Albania with 3.3%.

The big difference between enlargement now and before is that before there was euphoria. Candidate countries coveted what Europe had to offer back then – namely freedom and prosperity – but romance quickly melted by a lengthy and winding process. Now, there is no euphoria neither within the EU nor among the candidates. There is no will for reform in the countries from the process. The reason is that in most countries leaders are in power, who are part of the problem, not the solution. The EU to this day believes that enlargement still holds the romanticism of the period after the fall of the Berlin Wall. While acknowledging that “the attractiveness of the EU in the enlargement countries has been partly affected by the economic downturn and scepticism regarding the European project”, the EC mentions in its report that “the firm prospect of EU membership, as continuously reaffirmed by all Member States, continues to drive transformation and anchor stability and security in the countries of Southeast Europe”.

A statement, which gets disproved in the same report of the Commission. Not just stagnation, but even steps back are noted in almost all countries in the process. Turkey is practically lost. Serbia is like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – sometimes with the EU, but more often with Russia. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, inter-ethnic tension is at its highest level since the end of the war there. Kosovo is failing, Macedonia – too. Many of the countries seemed ready for membership 10 years ago, and now they are powder kegs. The EU needs to urgently change its narrative and approach if it wants to keep these countries in its sphere of influence and to launch a new process of transformation. The change, however, must first start from within.

Translated by Stanimir Stoev

Posted in EuropeComments Off on EU Has Lost Its Transformative Power. Enlargement Hits a Dead End

Medical Communication Companies and America’s Medical Propaganda Machine

NOVANEWS
Injectable-Drugs-Medicine-Vaccine-Bottle-Virus-Vial

Examining One of the Many Ways That Healthcare Providers are Compelled to Over-prescribe Big Pharma’s Unaffordable, Often Toxic and Often Dependency-inducing Prescription Drugs

“He who pays the piper calls the tune.” – Robert Browning

“Similar conflicts of interest and biases exist in virtually every field of medicine, particularly those that rely heavily on drugs or devices. It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.” – Marcia Angell, MD, author of “The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It”

“The results of (usually Big Pharma-sponsored) clinical trials are submitted to the FDA, and if one or two drug trials are positive—that is, if they show effectiveness without serious risk—the drug is usually approved, even if all the other trials are negative.” — Marcia Angell, MD, author of “Drug Companies and Doctors: A Story of Corruption”

“In view of… the conflicts of interest that permeate the enterprise, it is not surprising that industry-sponsored trials published in medical journals consistently favor sponsors–largely because negative results are not published, positive results are repeatedly published in slightly different forms, and a positive spin is put on even negative results. A review of seventy-four clinical trials of antidepressants, for example, found that thirty-seven of thirty-eight positive studies were published. But of the thirty-six negative studies, thirty-three were either not published or published in a form that conveyed a positive outcome.” — Marcia Angell, MD

“Our health care system is based on the premise that health care is a commodity like VCRs or computers and that it should be distributed according to the ability to pay in the same way that consumer goods are. That’s not what health care should be. Health care is a need; it’s not a commodity, and it should be distributed according to need. If you’re very sick, you should have a lot of it. If you’re not sick, you shouldn’t have a lot of it. That is a fundamental mistake in the way this country, and only this country, looks at health care. And that market ideology is what has made the health care system so dreadful, so bad at what it does.” — Marcia Angell, MD

(In 2002)”the combined profits for the ten drug companies in the Fortune 500 ($35.9 billion) were more than the profits for all the other 490 businesses put together ($33.7 billion). Over the past two decades the pharmaceutical industry has moved very far from its original high purpose of discovering and producing useful new drugs. Now primarily a marketing machine to sell drugs of dubious benefit, this industry uses its wealth and power to co-opt every institution that might stand in its way, including the US Congress, the FDA, academic medical centers, and the medical profession itself… Most of its marketing efforts are focused on influencing doctors, since they must write the prescriptions.” – Marcia Angell, MD

I recently ran across an important 2013 JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) article, the content of which is printed below. It is about a new form of medical propaganda, physician conflicts of interest, the cunning of Big Pharma’s advertising and how most physicians are at risk of being mis-informed and mis-educated at a time when they are being pressured to spend less and less time with their patients and to rely on the over-prescribing of Big Pharma’s synthetic chemical drugs. As I often told my patients, it only takes 2 minutes to write a prescription but it takes 20 minutes to NOT write a prescription.

I have shortened and slightly modified the article, mainly for length considerations. The original is available for those who wish to read the entire article–as noted below. The article seems to have been cunningly well-hidden from us physicians and by the consumers of healthcare by the powers that be – probably because of the sensitive nature of its contents.

The JAMA is one of the handful of peer-reviewed journals published by the AMA (American Medical Association). I used to receive it decades ago when I was a dues-paying member. Evan though I quit my membership probably 30 years ago, I still receive monthly letters asking me to pay my dues and start receiving the journal again.

But the JAMA has, probably because of financial difficulties, changed from a well-respected medical journal that didn’t allow the pharmaceutical industry to influence what it published to one that is reliant on Big Pharma money. (The JAMA has been, for well over a hundred years, the official journal for the AMA, which is still the most influential medical industry trade group and lobbying group in the US.)

But the JAMA’s hard-earned respectability all changed when it, just like the New England Journal of Medicine (note the quotes above from the fired NEJM editor, Marcia Angell, MD), began accepting excessively large amounts of advertising money from the pharmaceutical industry and then began publishing articles that had been ghost-written by Big Pharma mercenary writers or had been written by authors with serious conflicts of interest with the pharmaceutical industry.

By the time the JAMA and the NEJM started losing their respectability, we physicians had already had been receiving scores of glossy, throwaway freebie medical journals every month that had already had ridiculously heavy drug advertising. The pages devoted to the highly biased and often laughable advertising commonly out-numbered the supposedly professional articles.  And I have to report that the quality of the advertising in the professional journals usually never rose above what is seen on prime-time television for the uneducated consumer class.

Nowadays we physicians get Big Pharma’s propaganda online, often in the form of free or reduced-cost tuition for our continuing medical education courses, courtesy of the Medical Comunication Companies (MCCs) like MedScape and WebMD.

The article I have printed below exposes the under-the-table flow of money that keeps popular online MCCs full of plausible (but often misleading) information that is consistently favorable to the dis-informational agendas of Big Pharma. On those sites the multitude of iatrogenic disorders (diseases that are caused by doctors or Big Pharma’s prescription drugs) are never mentioned. As should be easily appreciated by folks that have at least some critical thinking skills, iatrogenic diseases are a serious taboo subject that Big Pharma and the medical establishment wants to keep hidden from their drug-taking patients.

These MCC online sites maintain the ignorance Big Pharma desires for us too-busy prescribing physicians and our often “desperate-for-unbiased-information” patients who suspect that they are being sickened by the synthetic chemicals and vaccine ingredients that have been prescribed for them, substances that can be addictive, neurotoxic, dementia-inducing and a cause of mitochondrial toxicity (especially in the case of psych drugs). (Mitochondria, by the way, are the tiny energy-producing “hearts and lungs” of every living cell in our bodies that can be poisoned by the ingredients of many of our commonly prescribed drugs and vaccines.)

The article summarized below reveals the actual names of the biggest culprits: the amoral, for-profit, multinational Big Pharma corporations that annually hand out tens of millions of dollars to their co-opted and obedient MCC recipients who are—unfortunately—mistakenly trusted by both physicians and their confused patients.

What may be worse is the fact that these for-profit MCCs are responsible for providing dis-informational “content” for the thousands of health “journalists” (who are notorious for having little or no medical science background).

One sees those health journalists all over the newspapers, radio, TV and internet with their ubiquitous and very plausible articles that are often directly fed to them from the MCCs and their sugar daddy, Big Pharma. The health journalists, in reading the prepared-for-immediate-re-publication content, feel that they are doing research, whereas what is actually happening is deception and indoctrination.

The same thing happens on the nightly news when Big Pharma’s MCC-generated videos are shown on the TV news without the local station ever mentioning the gross conflicts of interest. This common tactic does represent “easy journalism” for our too-busy health writers who have deadlines to meet, but it should be admitted to for the sake of the media’s duped consumers, and it should be exposed and condemned.

A decade ago, when medical establishment and lobbying groups like the AMA, APA, AAP, AAFP, etc warned us about getting our information from the internet, they were afraid, sometimes with justification, of the influence of the complementary/alternative medical community that was out there. Many consumers found out that what was out there was frequently useful and sometimes curative – a big threat to more than one medical establishment group.

These self-help sites were often nutrition-based and often provided education and information that could make unnecessary an unaffordable physician visit that usually ended with an unaffordable prescription or two. Real cures–rather than perpetual, life-long drug or disease “management”–often could be found online.

It was only later, when the establishment came to dominate the internet with their propaganda (and Google’s ranking system that always puts MedScape and WebMD on top) that I came to agree with their warnings about online medical disinformation. Only now we have to be worried about what the medical establishment is trying to convince us to do. The article below explains one reason why those fears are well-grounded.

Remember the truism: “Whoever pays the piper, calls the tune”. It has never been more true than at this time of astronomical health care and bankrupting prescription drug costs.

*      *      *

JAMA. 2013;310(23):2554-2558. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.281638

Medical Communication Companies and Pharmaceutical Industry Grants

By Sheila M. Rothman, PhD; Karen F. Brudney, MD; Whitney Adair, BA; David J. Rothman, PhD

http://www.imapny.org/wp-content/themes/imapny/File%20Library/JAMA/JAMA-Medical-Communication-Companies—jbr130003.pdf

Medical communication companies (MCCs) are among the most significant but least analyzed health care stakeholders. Supported mainly by drug and device companies, they are vendors of information to physicians and consumers and sources of information for industry. Known best for arranging continuing medical education (CME) programs, they also develop prelaunch and branding campaigns and produce digital and print publications.

The MCCs’ relationships to industry and to physicians are not easily investigated. Industry contracts with MCCs are not publicly available and until recently neither were industry grant awards. Neither donors nor recipients made the data available.

Then in 2010, 13 pharmaceutical companies and 1 medical device company posted grant registries on their websites. Some appeared as the result of legal settlements with the Department of Justice; others were posted voluntarily.

The disclosures went beyond the stipulations of the Sunshine Act, which mandates reports of payments only to physicians and teaching hospitals.

These registries include the names of all health care organizations, including the names of the MCCs that received at least 1 grant, the grant’s purpose, and the award’s precise dollar amount.

The purpose of this study was to explore the financial relationships between MCCs and drug device companies, to describe the characteristics of large MCCs, and to explore whether they accurately represent themselves to physicians.

Methods

Our database included the 2010 grant registries of 13 pharmaceutical and 1 device company. When we began data collection in the summer of 2011, these were the only companies that had reported complete 2010 data for all divisions. We sorted recipients into organizational categories and totaled the funding they received. We then explored the relationship between MCCs and the drug and device industry. 11 of the drug companies ranked among the top 20 in the field by annual sales. The remaining 2 ranked in the top 30.

We combined information from quarterly reports and grant registries…to create a master list of 19,272 grants totaling $657,643,322 awarded to 6,493 recipients. We grouped recipients into 7 categories, consulting master lists and self-definitions: 1) MCCs, academic medical centers and affiliated hospitals; 2) hospital systems and independent providers; 3) professional medical associations; 4) professional associations organized by nurses, health administrators, and scientists; 5) disease-targeted advocacy organizations established by laymen for patient education and advocacy; and 6) research organizations such as the NIH (National Institutes of Health). Category #7 included community, faith-based, and non–health-specific organizations.

…A grant was assigned to the MCC category when an organization’s website defined its primary mission as the dissemination of information on disease states, prevention, management, therapies, and drugs or medical devices and was not a subsidiary of other recipient organizations (such as an academic medical center). By these criteria, 363 grant recipients were identified as MCCs….

We selected the top 5% of recipients (18) for in-depth analyses. These recipients received 58% of MCC industry funding and 30% of MCC industry grants. Because such a small group received such a large proportion of the funds and grants, we decided to focus on them….We devoted particular attention to CME because most registry grants were specified for “educational activities.” 14 provided CME courses at “live events” such as at medical conferences and grand rounds. 17 offered online CME courses, including webcasts, podcasts, interviews, case-based discussions, slide sets, journal articles, and interactive games….

Importance 

Medical communication companies (MCCs) are among the most significant health care stakeholders, supported mainly by drug and device companies. How MCCs share or protect physicians’ personal data requires greater transparency.

Objective

To explore the financial relationships between MCCs and drug and device companies, to describe the characteristics of the large MCCs, and to explore whether they accurately represent themselves to physicians.

Design

We combined data from the 2010 grant registries of 14 pharmaceutical and device companies; grouped recipients into categories such as MCCs, academic medical centers, disease-targeted advocacy organizations, and professional associations; and created a master list of 19,272 grants.

Results 

Medical communication companies received 26%, the largest percentage of funding ($170,803,675) from the 14 drug and device companies, followed by 21% awarded to academic medical centers ($140,928,767) and 15% to patient (disease-target) advocacy organizations ($95,769,466, see Table 2).

Of the 363 MCC grant recipients, 208 were for-profit and 155 were nonprofit companies. For-profit companies received 77%. 18 MCCs (5%) received more than $2 million each (total, $101,566,252). Of these, 14 were for-profit and 12 were subsidiaries of larger entities. All 18 MCCs were approved by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to deliver CME courses. 14 offered live and 17 offered online CME courses.

The 2 MCCs receiving the most industry funding (Medscape/WebMD) offered only online CME courses. Medical communication companies promoted online CME courses as a convenient and cost-free alternative to live CME courses. Physicians could access the site anywhere at any time. To enroll in the CME course, physicians had to provide personal information, such as name, e-mail address, specialty, and license number.

How MCCs might use the personal data and track physician web activity was described in the Privacy Policies sections of their websites. 14 stated that they used such tools as “cookies” and web “beacons”. 10 declared that they shared personal information with third parties, although none identified them. 8 stated that they did not share personal information, but almost all 6 added exceptions for unnamed “educational partners” and companies with which they worked or might merge.

Of the 6,493 recipients of more than $657 million grant awards from drug and device companies, 18 of the 363 MCCs received 26%, academic medical centers received 21%, and disease-targeted organizations received 15%. For-profit MCCs received 77% of funds (208 of 363). Among the top 5% of MCCs, 14 of 18 were for-profit. All 18 offered continuing medical education: 14 offered live and 17 offered online CME courses. All required physicians to provide personal data. Ten stated that they shared information with unnamed third parties. Eight stated they did not share information, but almost all added exceptions. None required explicit physician consent to their sharing policies.

Discussion 

Among the 14 companies that released data in 2010, MCCs received an aggregate of $170 million, more funds than any other recipient, including academic medical centers, professional associations, and research organizations. The top 5%, for-profit companies, received 59% of the funds. Absent industry disclosures, none of this information would have become publicly available.

It appears that providing online CME courses is a common activity offered by MCCs, which allows them the opportunity to collect personal data and create digital profiles. Although MCCs did not elicit users’ explicit consent, they interpreted participating in a CME course and navigating the website as an implicit agreement to share information with third parties.

It is possible that physicians using MCC websites do not appreciate the full extent of MCC-industry financial ties or are aware of data sharing practices.

Conclusions and Relevance 

Medical communication companies receive substantial support from drug and device companies. Physicians who interact with MCCs should be aware that all require personal data from the physician and some share these data with unnamed third parties.

References available at:

http://www.imapny.org/wpcontent/themes/imapny/File%20Library/JAMA/JAMA-Medical-Communication-Companies—jbr130003.pdf

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Economic, Geopolitical, Military and Diplomatic Trends in 2016. What Prospects for 2017

NOVANEWS
 
Brexit R-U

2016 marked by important of diplomatic, political and military developments around the world.

Britain voted to leave the European Union by 52% to 48% in a national referendum. The outcome of the Brexit referendum has caused strong reaction at home and worldwide. Brexit was supported by the popular majority of Britain and a significant portion of the UK national elite. Even the use of lobbying clout by Cameron’s cabinet did not allow EU supporters to attain victory.

Indeed, leaving the EU would allow the UK to control immigration more efficiently, save billions of pounds in membership fees and advocate its own trade deals while leaving all trade conditions between the UK and the EU relatively unchanged – all while getting rid of restrictive EU regulations, bloated Brussels bureaucracy and run down Eastern and South European economies. In fact, the UK has simply jilted continental Europe. After all, it was Britain that was an active supporter of many decisions that have had a negative impact on the current situation of refugees in the EU and the economic issues of the Member States.

As to the trade cooperation and conditions, the EU could hardly proceed without British industry, technologies and investments. At the same time Britain acquires the first chance to jump in the US-backed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership freely without intra-European debates.

However, EU lobbyists now have moved beyond just the information campaign and diplomatic pressure. They have started to use bureaucratic technologies and well-known “color revolutions” technologies, previously field-tested in Eastern Europe and the Arab countries, to attempt to rip the referendum results to shreds. As a result, the process of the UK exit from the EU was de-facto frozen, ignoring the people’s choice. However, the BREXIT became an important step in the ongoing confrontation between EU citizens and the European bureaucracy.

Following the Brexit, Donald J. Trump won the US presidential elections. While on the campaign trail, President-Elect Donald J. Trump made a range of statements suggesting a shift away from a policy of interventionism, combined with a focus on safeguarding US borders and jobs at the expense of the dominant ideology of globalism. Can and will he deliver on these promises? There are many reasons to believe he will genuinely push US foreign policy in this direction, but at the same time he will face obstacles on his path.

One of the factors clearly helping him is the increasingly indisputable fact that globalism as an ideology has been discredited, except, ironically, among the liberal “creative classes” and among the financial elites. The rest of the society and of the elite is increasingly skeptical of such policies if not downright opposed to them, which means they are willing to experiment with economic nationalism and even isolationism.

At a minimum, the “global elites” will attempt to find as much compromising information concerning Trump, his family, and close associates as possible, in order to make him an “offer he can’t refuse” backed up by a sizable financial “consolation prize”.

If Trump refuses to succumb to direct and indirect pressure and attempts to pursue even part of what he promised during the campaign, Trump’s opponents will embark on more drastic measures, including a Maidan-like permanent demonstration aimed at tarnishing Trump’s reputation or even an assassination attempt. While the former is highly likely, the latter is somewhat less plausible because it would result in elevate Trump to martyrdom and also set a precedent for future assassinations, which is something the US elite fears greatly.  However, Trump will have to deal with tremendous and constant psychological pressure that will be exerted on him through his close associates, family, and of course the media, in order to disorient him and throw him off course.

Moreover, Trump’s political foes will pursue an international approach, using NATO and EU as means of exerting pressure on the new administration, through military provocations if need be. US, being a relatively sparsely, resource-rich country not unlike Russia, can pursue a “Fortress America” strategy. The EU would find it much more difficult to do so without embracing authoritarian governance, as it requires a “Lebensraum”-like sphere of influence that will provide natural resources which the continent lacks. But this Europe has no Grande Armee or Wehrmacht– it has to rely on US military power and subversion. Hence the  hysterical European reaction to the US election, for the adoption of a “Fortress America” strategy by the US renders EU’s own strategy of expansion obsolete.

Deciding what to do about the US relationship to Europe that has become a major net drain on US resources will therefore be a major challenge for the Trump Administration. If it is pulled down the same path as its predecessor, it will ultimately be because of its inability to redefine its relations with an increasingly burdensome and costly set of allies on the other side of the Atlantic, and for this reason the outcome of the upcoming elections in Germany and France is of critical importance.

The development of conflicts in the Middle East was the alternate side of the changes in the EU and the US. While backers of Syrian terrorists were trying to hold the power at their home, the Russian-Syrian-Iranian alliance made significant steps aimed on combating terrorism in Syria.

The provinces of Latakia, Homs, Hama, Aleppo and the Damascus countryside wre the main areas of operations against terrorists. The joint anti-terrorism forces achieved a series of significant victories in these areas, liberating waste areas near the Syrian capital, the important town of Qaryatayn and the key Syrian city of Aleppo. They also temporarily liberated the ancient city of Palmyra from ISIS, but lost it as result of a large-scale ISIS attack in December.

On October 1, 2015, SouthFront predicted that the Russian military operation in Syria will likely lead to the establishment of a permanent Russian air and naval base in eastern Mediterranean. By October 2016, Moscow expanded its military facilities in Syria, launching a program of transforming the Khmeimim Air Base into a full-fledged military base with a permanent contingent of the Russian Aerospace Forces and announced plans to turn its naval facility in Tartus into a fully-fledged permanent naval base.

Summing up the gains of pro-government forces across the country within the past year and the growing military presence of Russia in Syria, it’s easy to conclude that the course of the Syrian war was dramatically changed and the Syrian-Iranian-Russian forces delivered a devastating blow to terrorists and saving the Assad government from the military defeat. Now, the strategic initiative of the war is in the hands of Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance.

Another key player in the conflict was Turkey that had entered northern Syria to combat ISIS and Kurdish YPG forces in August. Turkey’s aim was to build a buffer zone with pro-Turkey militant groups and to prevent Kurdish forces from creation a semi-autonomous state in Syria. Turkey’s decision to intervene in Syria was made amid the rapprochement with Russia and Iran. This allowed many experts to suggest that Turkey, Iran, Russia and Syria had some unpublicized agreements over the ongoing crisis. The Turkish-Russian-Iranian negotiations that excluded the US-led block of the so-called “friends of Syria” and took place in Moscow in December contributed to this version. The military coup attempt that took place in Turkey in July and was allegedly supported by some part of the US elite became the main reason of Ankara’s decision to increase cooperation with Moscow and Tehran.

The Russian anti-terrorist operation also pushed the US to take more active steps in combating ISIS in Iraq and Syria that led to the start of advance on Raqqah, Fallujah and Mosul. While Fallujah was liberated, Mosul remained a major ISIS stronghold in Iraq despite the US-led attempts to retake the city from terrorists.

It appears that the pre-election project of the Democratic Party of the USA, under the title “Quick Capture of Mosul” has, seemingly, failed together with Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Now, the tactics of the USA administration have changed. This may mean that Donald Trump gets dragged into a quagmire of a war. That being stated, high-ranking Pentagon officials no longer believe that the Iraqi military is capable of taking Mosul, and have been preparing a plan with greater participation of the US Armed Forces.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) also launched an advance on the ISIS self-proclaimed capital in Syria, Raqqah. However, until now, they have not even reached the city.

Conflicts in Yemen and Libya continued to flare in the Middle East with almost no chances to be solved with diplomatic measures, contributing to instability in the region. The Saudi-led intervention turned Yemen into a zone of instability and set conditions for the growth of local al-Qaeda branch. Even despite this, Saudi-led forces failed to achieve their military goals in the area and to inflict a defeat to the Houthi-Saleh alliance backed by Iran.

The rapidly developing relations between Russia and Egypt have been overshadowed by the more prominent relationships between Russia and Syria, as well as Russia and Iran. Nevertheless, the Russia-Egypt relationship deserves closer scrutiny because, unlike the country’s relations with the other two Middle Eastern powers, it concerns a country that until recently appeared to be firmly in Western orbit. The abrupt shift of its geopolitical vector toward Eurasia therefore represents a far bigger change for the region than Russia’s successful support of the legitimate Syrian government, or the close relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran, both of which have been on the Western “enemies list” for decades. The reasons for this shift are twofold, and have to do with the way Western powers interact with Middle Eastern powers in the context of a systemic economic crisis, as well as with Russia’s demonstrated attractiveness as an ally.

From the Russian perspective, Egypt represents yet another bulwark of security against Western encroachment, a symmetric response to NATO expansion, “Eastern Partnership”, and color revolutions. Combined with the military presence in Syria, Cyprus’ general pro-Russian orientation, and the neutralization of Turkey which was also facilitated by an abortive West-promoted coup attempt, the Egyptian-Russian cooperation would impact the balance of power in the Mediterranean.

In 2016, the whole Middle East was affected by the major crisis with Syria, Iraq, Yemen and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Turkey in its core. Turkey faced a military coup attempt, economic decay and Kurdish insurgency that almost turned into a full-scale civil war.

2016 witnessed a sharp escalation in the militarization of the South China Sea. The cause of the escalation is multifaceted and comes from both regional and international quarters. The militarization has been initiated and exacerbated by both China and the United States, both bearing responsibility for the current level of tension in the region. As land reclamation and building efforts on the part of the Chinese continue at Fiery Cross Reef and Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands with no signs of slowing down in the immediate future, the US increases the size and tempo of future patrols in the area and expands its cooperation with regional powers to counter the Chinese claims.

The Central Asia also remained the point of instability that attracted attention of the key regional players: Russia, the US and China. While Afghanistan remained the main source of instability, neighboring central Asian countries also faced various terror and security threats, strengthened by an instable internal political situation.

Security threats are growing in Europe. The ongoing migration crisis and acute situation with a terrorism threat didn’t force the EU elite to change their failed foreign and internal policy and the union was plunged into shock by the continued series of terror attacks.

If this situation is not to get worse, it would require the adoption of a revised approach, namely a unified, well-funded and comprehensive EU-level migration policy, consisting of combating organized crime among ethnic groups, screening new arrivals, guaranteeing access to social services and labor markets, etc.  Otherwise the EU is risking a massive social explosion provoked by growing inter-ethnic and inter-religious conflict, and the constant perception of a growing terrorist threat. Unless addressed rapidly, these problems could be sufficient to destroy the already fragile EU common security framework.

The general security situation in Europe was further worsened with the smoldering conflict in eastern Ukraine, where the recent escalation took place in December. The situation is worsening due to the economic collapse in Ukraine and the Kiev’s government inability to negotiate and unwillingness to follow the Minsk agreements. Ukraine remained the point that can be used by some powers to instigate destabilization in the whole Europe.

In general, 2016 was a very complicated year in military and diplomatic terms. The reactive processes were observed the international relations at all levels. The number of local conflicts didn’t reduce and even grew involving more and more regional and world powers. The diplomatic, military and security trends formed in the end of 2016 year will shape 2017. It will be the year of continued geopolitical standoff of global powers amid the reducing US influence around the world.

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New US Congress to Launch Assault on Social Programs

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The 115th US Congress assembles in Washington today, with the ceremonial swearing in of new senators by outgoing Vice President Joe Biden, and the swearing in of the entire House of Representatives by House Speaker Paul Ryan. For the first time in a decade, the Republican Party will be in control of the House and Senate alongside a Republican president, Donald Trump, set to be inaugurated January 20.

The new government being formed in the US capital is like nothing that has ever been seen in Washington. It carries the reactionary policies of the Obama administration and previous Congresses, whether under Democratic or Republican control, to new political depths.

The incoming Congress, working with the Trump administration, is preparing an assault on whatever remains of social programs implemented under the New Deal and Great Society programs. The true content of Trump’s call to “make America great again” is to roll back social conditions for the working class to those that existed at the end of the 19th century, the era of child labor, unlimited working hours and “robber barons.”

Entire federal departments like Education, Labor, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services and the Environmental Protection Agency have been turned over to right-wing ideologues committed to scrapping all restraints on business operations and ending all protections for workers, consumers and those who need social services.

Trump set the tone for the week at a New Year’s Eve party at his luxury estate at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, where he toasted his well-heeled guests with the promise that the new Trump administration would “lower your taxes, cut regulations and repeal Obamacare,” to thunderous applause.

The taxes to be lowered will be those of the super-rich. The regulations to be abolished are those that restrict in any way the operations of big business and the financial swindling of Wall Street, at the expense of working people.

In calling for a repeal of Obamacare, Trump is demagogically appealing to broadly felt popular opposition to the program, which is seen as a boondoggle for health insurance companies, pharmaceutical conglomerates and giant hospital chains. But the actual content of his proposals will be to slash subsidies included in Obamacare as “sweeteners,” while using revisions of the program to make substantial inroads into Medicare and Medicaid, the health insurance programs for the elderly, disabled and poor.

Despite Trump’s promises during the election campaign to replace Obamacare’s hated “individual mandate” and provisions that limit the choice of doctors and hospitals with “something great,” there is not the slightest effort in that direction. On the contrary, the Republican-controlled Congress will make the repeal of Obamacare the starting point for a further onslaught on Medicaid, Medicare, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and other federal healthcare provisions.

According to press reports Monday, the congressional Republican leadership plans to make repeal of Obamacare the first legislative action of the new session of Congress, although the timing is still uncertain because of the complexities of the law, enacted in 2010.

Obedient to the financial interests involved, the House and Senate Republican leaders aim to repeal Obamacare in a way that does not damage the profits that these giant corporations have begun to reap from the program. This likely means that repeal of the individual mandate, which compels millions to buy private insurance or pay an increasingly stiff tax penalty, will be pushed back, lest it abruptly deprive the insurance companies of paying customers.

The planned repeal of Obamacare will proceed in several stages, beginning with passage of a budget resolution that will include so-called “reconciliation” rules that require only a 51-vote majority in the Senate, rather than the 60 votes required to overcome the expected Democratic filibuster.

Because the reconciliation process is limited to fiscal provisions that impact the budget, the actual dismantling of healthcare.gov and the federal exchange through which more than 10 million people have purchased insurance will require winning the support of at least eight Senate Democrats. The same procedure applies to rolling back the expansion of Medicaid, which extended the federal health insurance program for the poor to an additional 10 million lower-income working-class families.

Congressional Republicans have vowed to combine Obamacare repeal with far-reaching attacks on both Medicaid and Medicare. Vice President Mike Pence is a leading advocate of destroying Medicaid as an entitlement program—one for which people are automatically eligible based on their income—and transforming it into a block grant to the states. This would limit the program in each state to the amount of the block grant, regardless of the number of people who apply for aid, forcing states to set up increasingly restrictive systems to ration assistance.

As for Medicare, Obamacare was actually financed in part by cuts in the program’s reimbursements to hospital and other providers, estimated in the hundreds of billions of dollars. These funds, if recaptured through Obamacare repeal, will not be returned to Medicare, but will be made available instead for the real priorities of the Trump administration, increased military spending and a huge tax cut for the wealthy.

Trump’s appointment of Representative Tom Price to head the Department of Health and Human Services, which administers Medicare and Social Security, was a clear signal that he has discarded his campaign promise that there would be no cuts in either of these critical federal programs, which underwrite health care and retirement income for more than 70 million elderly and retired workers.

Price and House Speaker Paul Ryan have long advocated privatization of Medicare, transforming it into a voucher system modeled on the Medical Savings Accounts used by corporate employers to put a lid on healthcare spending by their employees.

The other major legislative initiative—and the one that has attracted the greatest attention from corporate lobbyists and Wall Street—is the gigantic tax-cutting package, likely to be the largest in history, exceeding even the windfalls for the wealthy enacted under Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

Trump has promised to slash the corporate tax rate from the present (largely nominal) rate of 25 percent to only 10 percent, as well as cutting higher-end individual tax rates and abolishing the estate tax, paid only by a tiny fraction of extremely wealthy families—those like Trump himself, and his cabinet of billionaires and multimillionaires.

A reactionary provision expected to be incorporated either into the Obamacare repeal or the budget and tax legislation is an outright ban on any federal funds going to Planned Parenthood, which provides health services, including cancer screening, contraception and abortion, to millions of working-class women. The organization has been targeted by the Christian fundamentalist right because it is one of the few providers of abortion services in many states, and because it aggressively defends women’s rights to the full range of family planning services.

While the Trump administration and the congressional Republicans prepare an unprecedented onslaught against social programs for working people, the Democratic Party is engaged in cynical posturing to give itself a political cover for its inevitable capitulation to the demands of Wall Street and the financial oligarchy.

The incoming leader of the Senate Democrats, Charles Schumer, declared that the Democrats would fight “tooth and nail” against the overhaul of Medicare, carefully avoiding any such pledge in relation to Medicaid, the more immediate target.

Schumer, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and former presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders, sent a letter to congressional Democrats called for a “day of action” on January 15, “to vigorously oppose the Republican plan to end Medicare as we know it and throw our health care system into chaos.” Again, the calculated downplaying of the attack on Medicaid.

Sanders has played a particularly rotten and demagogic role, issuing a series of appeals to Trump to “keep your promise” made during the campaign, not to cut Medicare and Social Security.

Donna Brazile, the interim chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, made her own appeal to Trump, saying that he had an “enormous” opportunity to obtain Democratic support, and urging him “to show that he’s eager to find common ground, to meet with Democrats.”

None of these Democratic leaders will state the obvious—that Trump cares nothing for his campaign promises, and is carrying out the program of the financial aristocracy, which seeks to plunder the resources of the federal Treasury to enrich themselves, while building up the police and the military to lay waste to enemies both foreign and domestic. That is because the Democrats serve that same financial aristocracy, and in many cases are charter members of it.

Genuine resistance to the program of Trump, the Republicans and Wall Street will come only from the working class, from the great majority of the American people, who were ignored, betrayed or misled in the course of the 2016 election campaign, and now face an attack on their jobs, living standards, social benefits and democratic rights on a scale that has no parallel in history.

Posted in USAComments Off on New US Congress to Launch Assault on Social Programs

U.S./UK Paid “White Helmets” Help Al Qaeda Blocking Water To 5 Million Thirsty Syrians

NOVANEWS
white-helmet

The blockade of water from Wadi Barada to 5 million people in Damascus is taking an interesting turn. The U.S. and UK financed White Helmet organization seems to be directly involved in it. This increases the suspicion that the illegal blockade of water to civilians in Damascus is part of a organized campaign under U.S. command. The campaign is designed to block utilities to government held areas as revenge for the liberation of east Aleppo.

As we described it yesterday:

After the eastern part of the city of Aleppo was liberated by Syrian government forces, the local rebels and inhabitants in the Barada river valley were willing to reconcile with the Syrian government. But the al-Qaeda Takfiris disagreed and took over. The area is since under full al-Qaeda control and thereby outside of the recent ceasefire agreement.On December 22 the water supply to Damascus was suddenly contaminated with diesel fuel and no longer consumable. A day later Syrian government forces started an operation to regain the area and to reconstitute the water supplies.

Photos and a video on social media (since inaccessible but I saw them when they appeared) showed the water treatment facility rigged with explosives. On Dec 27th the facility was blown up and partly destroyed.

The Syrian government is ready to send repair teams to rehabilitate the water flow to the millions of civilians in Damascus. But access to the site is denied and the Syrian army is now trying to push al-Qaeda and its allies away from it.

Curiously some “civil” groups today offered access under several (not agreeable) conditions:

Hassan Ridha @sayed_ridha – 2:10 AM – 3 Jan 2017W

adi Barada statement: we will let teams to fix water spring if SAA-Hezb stop attack, siege lift & monitor ceasefire by intl observers
[attachment]

EHSANI2 @EHSANI22 – 6:43 AM – 3 Jan 2017

Offer by opposition to trade access to water source for #Damascus with halting of military operations by army
[attachment]

Here is the attachment to both tweets. Note who signed it:


bigger

Check the logos of the undersigning organizations You will probably recognize the middle one in the second row. Here it is magnified.

And here is the original of that logo taken directly from the website of the Syrian Civil Defense organization aka The White Helmets:

The organizations who make an offer to lift the water blockade of Damascus obviously think they have the power to do so. They then must also be held responsible for keeping the blockade up. They must also have intimate relations with the al-Qaeda fighters who currently occupy the damaged water facilities.

The U.S. and UK government created and paid White Helmets are “impartially”, “neutrally” and “for all Syrians” blocking the water supply to 5 million Syrians in Damascus. U.S. military and CIA officers run the “operations rooms” in Jordan and Turkey that direct the insurgency.

This increases suspicion that the blockade is part of an organized response by the enemies of Syria to the recent liberation of east-Aleppo. As noted yesterday:

This shut down is part of a wider, seemingly coordinated strategy to deprive all government held areas of utility supplies. Two days ago the Islamic State shut down a major water intake for Aleppo from the Euphrates. High voltage electricity masts of lines feeding Damascus have been destroyed and repair teams, unlike before, denied access. Gas supplies to parts of Damascus are also cut.

Even after 14 days of water crisis in Damascus the “western” media are not reporting about the al-Qaeda blockade of water for 5 million Syrians. We can be sure that not a word will be written by them about this illegal hostages taking of millions of civilians in Damascus by their favorite propaganda organization White Helmets.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on U.S./UK Paid “White Helmets” Help Al Qaeda Blocking Water To 5 Million Thirsty Syrians

How the US Deliberately Destroyed Iraq’s Water Supply, And Now Syria

NOVANEWS
 
How the US Deliberately Destroyed Iraq's Water Supply

Global Research Editor’s Note

This incisive and carefully documented article by Prof. Thomas Nagy was first published by Global Research in September 2001.

It confirms the criminal nature of US intervention.

A similar and comparable operation in Syria has now been launched by using US supported Al Qaeda “opposition rebels”, with the help of the White Helmets to undermine and destroy the system of water supply in Damascus; this issue has been casually ignored by the Western media and the self proclaimed “international community”.

While, the modus operandi in the case of Syria differs from that described by Prof. Nagy, it nonetheless confirms a pattern.  In Syria, this diabolical operation carried out by US backed terrorists, constitutes the ultimate crime against humanity.  

In regards to Iraq, Professor Thomas Nagy of George Washington University, D.C., revealed the existence of Defense Intelligence Agency documents “proving beyond a doubt that, contrary to the Geneva Convention, the U.S. government intentionally used sanctions against Iraq to degrade the country’s water supply after the Gulf War.

“The United States knew the cost that civilian Iraqis, mostly children, would pay, and it went ahead anyway.” On May 12, 1996 some of the horrible consequences of this policy were revealed when the CBS news program 60 Minutes reported that roughly half million Iraqi children had died as a consequence of U.S. imposed sanctions.

This led to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s infamous answer to the question, “is the price worth it?” Her reply was yes “we think the price is worth it.” Albright later apologized, not for the murderous policy for which she was partially responsible, but rather for the fact that her answer to the above question had “aggravated our public relations problems” in the Middle East.

As to domestic reaction, her comment “went unremarked in the U.S.” Subsequently, in 2003, the U.S. invaded Iraq using the strategy of “rapid dominance” (more popularly known as “shock and awe”). The object of this strategy was to “paralyze” the enemy’s “will to carry on” through the disruption of “means of communication, transportation, food production, water supply, and other aspects of infrastructure.” One of the targets of the bombing campaign that led off the invasion was Iraq’s electrical grid. That directly impacted the country’s ability to process clean water.”

 

*       *      *

Confirmed by documents of the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), “the U.S. government intentionally used sanctions against Iraq to degrade the country’s water supply after the Gulf War. The United States knew the cost that civilian Iraqis, mostly children, would pay, and it went ahead anyway.”

Over the last two years, I’ve discovered documents of the Defense Intelligence Agency proving beyond a doubt that, contrary to the Geneva Convention, the U.S. government intentionally used sanctions against Iraq to degrade the country’s water supply after the Gulf War. The United States knew the cost that civilian Iraqis, mostly children, would pay, and it went ahead anyway.

The primary document, “Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities,” is dated January 22, 1991. It spells out how sanctions will prevent Iraq from supplying clean water to its citizens.

Iraq depends on importing specialized equipment and some chemicals to purify its water supply, most of which is heavily mineralized and frequently brackish to saline,” the document states. “With no domestic sources of both water treatment replacement parts and some essential chemicals, Iraq will continue attempts to circumvent United Nations Sanctions to import these vital commodities. Failing to secure supplies will result in a shortage of pure drinking water for much of the population. This could lead to increased incidences, if not epidemics, of disease.

The document goes into great technical detail about the sources and quality of Iraq’s water supply. The quality of untreated water “generally is poor,” and drinking such water “could result in diarrhea,” the document says. It notes that Iraq’s rivers “contain biological materials, pollutants, and are laden with bacteria. Unless the water is purified with chlorine, epidemics of such diseases as cholera, hepatitis, and typhoid could occur.”

The document notes that the importation of chlorine “has been embargoed” by sanctions. “Recent reports indicate the chlorine supply is critically low.”

Food and medicine will also be affected, the document states. “Food processing, electronic, and, particularly, pharmaceutical plants require extremely pure water that is free from biological contaminants,” it says.

The document addresses possible Iraqi countermeasures to obtain drinkable water despite sanctions.

Iraq conceivably could truck water from the mountain reservoirs to urban areas. But the capability to gain significant quantities is extremely limited,” the document states. “The amount of pipe on hand and the lack of pumping stations would limit laying pipelines to these reservoirs. Moreover, without chlorine purification, the water still would contain biological pollutants. Some affluent Iraqis could obtain their own minimally adequate supply of good quality water from Northern Iraqi sources. If boiled, the water could be safely consumed. Poorer Iraqis and industries requiring large quantities of pure water would not be able to meet their needs.

The document also discounted the possibility of Iraqis using rainwater.

Precipitation occurs in Iraq during the winter and spring, but it falls primarily in the northern mountains, it says. Sporadic rains, sometimes heavy, fall over the lower plains. But Iraq could not rely on rain to provide adequate pure water.

As an alternative, Iraq could try convincing the United Nations or individual countries to exempt water treatment supplies from sanctions for humanitarian reasons, the document says. It probably also is attempting to purchase supplies by using some sympathetic countries as fronts. If such attempts fail, Iraqi alternatives are not adequate for their national requirements.

In cold language, the document spells out what is in store: “Iraq will suffer increasing shortages of purified water because of the lack of required chemicals and desalination membranes. Incidences of disease, including possible epidemics, will become probable unless the population were careful to boil water.”

The document gives a timetable for the destruction of Iraq’s water supplies. “Iraq’s overall water treatment capability will suffer a slow decline, rather than a precipitous halt,” it says. “Although Iraq is already experiencing a loss of water treatment capability, it probably will take at least six months (to June 1991) before the system is fully degraded.”

This document, which was partially declassified but unpublicized in 1995, can be found on the Pentagon’s web site at www.gulflink.osd.mil. (I disclosed this document last fall. But the news media showed little interest in it. The only reporters I know of who wrote lengthy stories on it were Felicity Arbuthnot in the Sunday Herald of Scotland, who broke the story, and Charlie Reese of the Orlando Sentinel, who did a follow-up.)

Recently, I have come across other DIA documents that confirm the Pentagon’s monitoring of the degradation of Iraq’s water supply. These documents have not been publicized until now.

The first one in this batch is called “Disease Information,” and is also dated January 22, 1991. At the top, it says:

Subject: Effects of Bombing on Disease Occurrence in Baghdad.” The analysis is blunt: “Increased incidence of diseases will be attributable to degradation of normal preventive medicine, waste disposal, water purification/distribution, electricity, and decreased ability to control disease outbreaks. Any urban area in Iraq that has received infrastructure damage will have similar problems.

The document proceeds to itemize the likely outbreaks. It mentions “acute diarrhea” brought on by bacteria such as E. coli, shigella, and salmonella, or by protozoa such as giardia, which will affect “particularly children,” or by rotavirus, which will also affect “particularly children,” a phrase it puts in parentheses. And it cites the possibilities of typhoid and cholera outbreaks.

The document warns that the Iraqi government may “blame the United States for public health problems created by the military conflict.”

The second DIA document, “Disease Outbreaks in Iraq,” is dated February 21, 1990, but the year is clearly a typo and should be 1991. It states:

Conditions are favorable for communicable disease outbreaks, particularly in major urban areas affected by coalition bombing.” It adds: “Infectious disease prevalence in major Iraqi urban areas targeted by coalition bombing (Baghdad, Basrah) undoubtedly has increased since the beginning of Desert Storm. . . . Current public health problems are attributable to the reduction of normal preventive medicine, waste disposal, water purification and distribution, electricity, and the decreased ability to control disease outbreaks.

This document lists the most likely diseases during next sixty-ninety days (descending order): diarrheal diseases (particularly children); acute respiratory illnesses (colds and influenza); typhoid; hepatitis A (particularly children); measles, diphtheria, and pertussis (particularly children); meningitis, including meningococcal (particularly children); cholera (possible, but less likely).

Like the previous document, this one warns that the Iraqi government might “propagandize increases of endemic diseases.”

The third document in this series, “Medical Problems in Iraq,” is dated March 15, 1991. It says:

Communicable diseases in Baghdad are more widespread than usually observed during this time of the year and are linked to the poor sanitary conditions (contaminated water supplies and improper sewage disposal) resulting from the war. According to a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)/World Health Organization report, the quantity of potable water is less than 5 percent of the original supply, there are no operational water and sewage treatment plants, and the reported incidence of diarrhea is four times above normal levels. Additionally, respiratory infections are on the rise. Children particularly have been affected by these diseases.

Perhaps to put a gloss on things, the document states:

There are indications that the situation is improving and that the population is coping with the degraded conditions.” But it adds: “Conditions in Baghdad remain favorable for communicable disease outbreaks.

The fourth document, “Status of Disease at Refugee Camps,” is dated May 1991. The summary says:

Cholera and measles have emerged at refugee camps. Further infectious diseases will spread due to inadequate water treatment and poor sanitation.

The reason for this outbreak is clearly stated again.

The main causes of infectious diseases, particularly diarrhea, dysentery, and upper respiratory problems, are poor sanitation and unclean water. These diseases primarily afflict the old and young children.

The fifth document, “Health Conditions in Iraq, June 1991,” is still heavily censored. All I can make out is that the DIA sent a source “to assess health conditions and determine the most critical medical needs of Iraq. Source observed that Iraqi medical system was in considerable disarray, medical facilities had been extensively looted, and almost all medicines were in critically short supply.”

In one refugee camp, the document says, “at least 80 percent of the population” has diarrhea. At this same camp, named Cukurca, “cholera, hepatitis type B, and measles have broken out.”

The protein deficiency disease kwashiorkor was observed in Iraq “for the first time,” the document adds. “Gastroenteritis was killing children. . . . In the south, 80 percent of the deaths were children (with the exception of Al Amarah, where 60 percent of deaths were children).”

The final document is “Iraq: Assessment of Current Health Threats and Capabilities,” and it is dated November 15, 1991. This one has a distinct damage-control feel to it. Here is how it begins: “Restoration of Iraq’s public health services and shortages of major medical materiel remain dominant international concerns. Both issues apparently are being exploited by Saddam Hussein in an effort to keep public opinion firmly against the U.S. and its Coalition allies and to direct blame away from the Iraqi government.”

It minimizes the extent of the damage.

Although current countrywide infectious disease incidence in Iraq is higher than it was before the Gulf War, it is not at the catastrophic levels that some groups predicted. The Iraqi regime will continue to exploit disease incidence data for its own political purposes.

And it places the blame squarely on Saddam Hussein. “Iraq’s medical supply shortages are the result of the central government’s stockpiling, selective distribution, and exploitation of domestic and international relief medical resources.” It adds: “Resumption of public health programs . . . depends completely on the Iraqi government.”

As these documents illustrate, the United States knew sanctions had the capacity to devastate the water treatment system of Iraq. It knew what the consequences would be: increased outbreaks of disease and high rates of child mortality. And it was more concerned about the public relations nightmare for Washington than the actual nightmare that the sanctions created for innocent Iraqis.

The Geneva Convention is absolutely clear. In a 1979 protocol relating to the “protection of victims of international armed conflicts,” Article 54, it states: “It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove, or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as foodstuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies, and irrigation works, for the specific purpose of denying them for their sustenance value to the civilian population or to the adverse Party, whatever the motive, whether in order to starve out civilians, to cause them to move away, or for any other motive.”

But that is precisely what the U.S. government did, with malice aforethought. It “destroyed, removed, or rendered useless” Iraq’s “drinking water installations and supplies.” The sanctions, imposed for a decade largely at the insistence of the United States, constitute a violation of the Geneva Convention. They amount to a systematic effort to, in the DIA’s own words, “fully degrade” Iraq’s water sources.

At a House hearing on June 7, Representative Cynthia McKinney, Democrat of Georgia, referred to the document “Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities” and said: “Attacking the Iraqi public drinking water supply flagrantly targets civilians and is a violation of the Geneva Convention and of the fundamental laws of civilized nations.”

Over the last decade, Washington extended the toll by continuing to withhold approval for Iraq to import the few chemicals and items of equipment it needed in order to clean up its water supply.

Last summer, Representative Tony Hall, Democrat of Ohio, wrote to then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright “about the profound effects of the increasing deterioration of Iraq’s water supply and sanitation systems on its children’s health.” Hall wrote, “The prime killer of children under five years of age–diarrheal diseases–has reached epidemic proportions, and they now strike four times more often than they did in 1990. . . . Holds on contracts for the water and sanitation sector are a prime reason for the increases in sickness and death. Of the eighteen contracts, all but one hold was placed by the U.S. government. The contracts are for purification chemicals, chlorinators, chemical dosing pumps, water tankers, and other equipment. . . . I urge you to weigh your decision against the disease and death that are the unavoidable result of not having safe drinking water and minimum levels of sanitation.”

For more than ten years, the United States has deliberately pursued a policy of destroying the water treatment system of Iraq, knowing full well the cost in Iraqi lives. The United Nations has estimated that more than 500,000 Iraqi children have died as a result of sanctions, and that 5,000 Iraqi children continue to die every month for this reason.

No one can say that the United States didn’t know what it was doing.

See for Yourself

All the DIA documents mentioned in this article were found at the Department of Defense’s Gulflink site.

To read or print documents:

  1. go to www.gulflink.osd.mil
  2. click on “Declassified Documents” on the left side of the front page
  3. the next page is entitled “Browse Recently Declassified Documents”
  4. click on “search” under “Declassifed Documents” on the left side of that page
  5. the next page is entitled “Search Recently Declassified Documents”
  6. enter search terms such as “disease information effects of bombing”
  7. click on the search button
  8. the next page is entitled “Data Sources”
  9. click on DIA
  10. click on one of the titles

It’s not the easiest, best-organized site on the Internet, but I have found the folks at Gulflink to be helpful and responsive.

Posted in Middle East, Iraq, SyriaComments Off on How the US Deliberately Destroyed Iraq’s Water Supply, And Now Syria

Islamic State (ISIS-Daesh) Claims New Year Attack on Istanbul Nightclub Killing 39

seven-people-detained-in-connection-with-istanbul-bombing-turkish-minister

Yesterday, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militia claimed a bloody terror attack on Istanbul’s Reina nightclub. Around 700 people were celebrating the New Year at the nightclub when, at 1:30 a.m. on January 1, an individual armed with an assault rifle shot unarmed security guards at the nightclub and entered the premises, shooting and killing 39 patrons, including 15 foreigners. Sixty-five others were wounded.

Police operations had been stepped up in Istanbul in the two weeks before the attack, after Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MİT) received warnings that ISIS was preparing attacks on nightclubs or parties in Istanbul, the capital city of Ankara, or other major Turkish cities. A total of 147 ISIS suspects were detained, including at least 63 ISIS members, according to Interior Ministry sources. Eight ISIS members were detained in Ankara while planning an attack on New Year’s Eve.

On New Year’s Eve itself, amid a state of emergency in Turkey, some 25,000 police officers were on duty and patrolling the streets in Istanbul to guard against a possible terror attack. The US embassy warned of terror attacks on New Year’s Eve and recommended that American citizens in Turkey not celebrate the New Year in crowded places.

Astonishingly, a lone gunman nevertheless was able to take a taxi to a location near the upscale nightclub, which is across the street from a police station. He then walked to the club, pulled an assault rifle from his bag, and launched an assault that killed or wounded over 100 people—largely Turks and tourists from other Muslim countries.

ISIS hailed the horrific attack in a statement it released, denouncing Turkey for allying with the United States and the European powers against it in the fighting in Iraq and Syria. It declared, “In continuation of the blessed operations that Islamic State is conducting against the protector of the cross, Turkey, a heroic soldier of the caliphate struck one of the most famous nightclubs where the Christians celebrate their apostate holiday.”

“We let infidel Turkey know that the blood of Muslims that is being shed by its airstrikes and artillery shelling will turn into fire on its territories,” the statement added.

Immediately after the attack, Turkey’s Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) announced a gag order, submitting reporting of the attack to state censorship. A massive man-hunt is still underway across Turkey to locate the shooter and identify potential accomplices.

Anti-terrorism experts who looked at footage of the security cameras at the nightclub said that the shooter seemed well-trained and efficient in the use of his assault rifle and shot wounded victims in the head, execution-style. He cleaned his weapon and changed his clothes, spending 13 minutes in the nightclub’s kitchen, and later escaped the scene by hailing a taxi. Police who examined the videos are working on the hypothesis that he is an ISIS fighter aged roughly 25, from the ex-Soviet republics of Uzbekistan or Kyrgyzstan, or the Xinjiang region of western China.

The initial account of the attack that is emerging raises serious political issues, however. How was a lone gunman, who was carrying out a mass shooting near a police station amid a high alert and under a state of emergency, allowed to slaughter people undisturbed for over a quarter of an hour, and then to escape?

In the aftermath of the attack, rumors spread that police deployments to secure the area around the nightclub had been deliberately scaled back just before the attack—raising the issue of whether some section of the authorities had foreknowledge of the shooting.

Yesterday, the US Embassy in Ankara felt compelled to react to these rumors by issuing a statement denying any US foreknowledge that an ISIS attack would target the Reina nightclub. “Contrary to rumors circulating in social media, the US government had no information about threats to specific entertainment venues, including the Reina Club, and the US government did not warn Americans to stay away from specific venues or neighborhoods,” it said.

Turkish and international officials simply issued statements condemning the attack, however. Turkeys ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) promised to “end” terror, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that the goal of the attack was to spread chaos. The opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) called for intensifying the security crackdown in Turkey and attacked recent Islamist statements by some AKP deputies denouncing New Year’s celebrations.

White House spokesman Eric Schultz said that US President Barack Obama “expressed condolences for the innocent lives lost, directed his team to offer appropriate assistance to the Turkish authorities, as necessary, and keep him updated as warranted.”

European Union (EU) foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini condemned the attack from her Twitter account, writing: “2017 starts with an attack in Istanbul. Our thoughts are with victims and their loved ones. We continue to work to prevent these tragedies.”

In fact, this horrific shooting flows from the military intervention of the United States and the EU into the Middle East and Turkey and, in particular, the AKP government’s collaboration with the US-led proxy war in Syria. If ISIS has a large network of dozens or even hundreds of operatives inside Turkey, this is because the CIA and its European and Middle East allies used Turkey as a staging ground to arm and support Islamist opposition militias operating across the border in Syria.

The Turkish ruling elite’s decision to turn Turkey into a major staging post to arm opposition militias carrying out raids, terror bombings, and war crimes in Syria has not only had horrific consequences for the population of Syria. The devastation and depopulation of Syria also plunged Turkey into escalating bloodshed.

ISIS has repeatedly carried out terror attacks, and the Turkish army’s crackdown on the Kurdish population—fearing that Washington would strengthen Kurdish nationalists too much by arming Syrian Kurdish militias as proxies in Syria—plunged the country’s Kurdish areas into civil war.

ISIS was responsible for the bloodiest single attack in Turkey’s history, on October 10, 2015, killing at least 109 people and wounding more than 500 in a twin suicide bombings against a peace rally in Ankara. In 2016, the Islamic State carried out six terrorist attacks in Turkey, in which 127 people were killed and some 320 others wounded.

Split-offs from the Kurdish nationalist movement such as the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) also carried out several terror attacks, including bombings in December in Istanbul and Kayseri.

In this New Year’s attack, the specific grievance cited by ISIS was the Turkish government’s alliance with Russia and Iran to try to crush Islamist opposition militias like ISIS inside Syria. Last week, Turkey negotiated a ceasefire in Syria with Russian and Iranian officials covering much of Syria, but it has pressed on with bloody attacks on Al Bab aiming to seize ISIS’ capital in Syria, Raqqa. ISIS appears to have retaliated by organizing another terror attack on Turkish soil.

Posted in TurkeyComments Off on Islamic State (ISIS-Daesh) Claims New Year Attack on Istanbul Nightclub Killing 39

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