Archive | September 19th, 2019

Saudi Arabia up in Flames: Riyadh Is Headed for a Major Disaster

By Federico Pieraccini

Global Research,

On Saturday September 14, Yemen’s Houthi rebels announced that they had conducted a massive attack on several Aramco plants in Saudi Arabia, including the largest oil refinery in the world in Abqaiq, using 10 drones. On Twitter, dozens of videos and photos showed explosions, flames and the resulting damage.

The move is part of a retaliatory campaign by the Houthis in response to the indiscriminate bombings conducted by the Saudi air force over more than four years. UN estimates speak of more than 100,000 deaths and the largest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War.

The Saudi kingdom finds itself in an increasingly dangerous situation as a result of the retaliatory capacity of the Houthis, able to inflict severe military and economic damage on Riyadh with their missile forces. Estimates suggest that Riyadh is losing something in the region of $300 million a day from the Houthi attacks. On Sunday September 15, a spokesman for the Saudi oil ministry spoke of damage that is yet to be calculated, possibly requiring weeks of repair. Meanwhile, Saudi oil production has halved following the Saturday attack. With a military budget of $200,000, the Houthis managed to inflict damage numbering in the billions of dollars.

House of Saud Isolated

The withdrawal of Egypt and the United Arab Emirates from the conflict in Yemen, driven by their desire to improve relations with Tehran, and the impossibility of the United States intervening directly in the conflict, has created significant problems for the House of Saud. The conflict is considered by the UN to be the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, and Trump has no intention of giving the Democratic presidential contenders any ammunition with which to attack him. Bolton’s dismissal could be one of those Trump signals to the deep state stating that he does not intend to sabotage his re-election hopes in 2020 by starting a new war.

This reluctance by Washington to directly support Israel and Saudi Arabia has aggravated the situation for Riyadh, which now risks seeing the conflict move to its own territory in the south of the country. The Houthi incursions into Saudi Arabia are now a daily event, and as long as Riyadh continues to commit war crimes against innocent Yemeni civilians, the situation will only worsen, with increasingly grave consequences for the internal stability of the Saudi system.

Saturday’s retaliation is the real demonstration of what could happen to the Saudi economy if Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) refuses to sit down and negotiate a way out of one of the worst military disasters of the contemporary era.Sen. Graham Wants to Bomb Iran in Response to Houthi Attack on Saudi Oil

The invincibility of US weapons systems is only in Hollywood movies

The Houthis have in recent months managed to strike their targets in Saudi Arabia dozens of times using different aerial means. This highlights once again the total failure of American air-defense systems in the country.

In contrast, the multiple Russian anti-aircraft systems in Syria have achieved a 100% success rate with regard to interceptions, managing to disable (through electronic warfare) all the drones, mortars and missiles launched by jihadists against Russia’s bases in Tartus bases and Latakia.

Blame Iran!

Pompeo blames Tehran for the Yemeni attack on Saudi Arabia, of course without offering any proof. Riyadh and Tel Aviv are increasingly isolated in the Middle East. Washington is only able to offer tweets and paranoia about Iran to help its allies, given that a direct intervention is seen as being too risky for the global economy, not to mention the possibility of the conflict becoming a wider regional conflagration that would sink any chance of reelection in 2020 for the present administration.

Trump, Netanyahu and MBS are concocting a witches’ brew that will bring about a disaster of unprecedented proportions to the region. It is only a matter of time before we see the baleful consequences of their handiwork.

A hypothesis to be discarded

There is some talk doing the rounds that the Saudis conducted a false-flag attack on their own oil refineries, a hypothesis that enjoys a superficial plausibility. The resulting increase in the price of oil could be seen as having a positive effect on Aramco’s share price, it is true. But for the reasons given below, this hypothesis is actually not plausible.

The Houthis develop their own weapons, assisted by the Yemeni army. Used drones would cost less than $20,000 a piece. The military embargo on Yemen (enforced by the US and UK) has created a humanitarian disaster, limiting food and medicine. The delivery of weapons by sea therefore seems unlikely. As repeatedly stated by Mohammad Javad Zarif, the foreign minister of Iran, as well as representatives of Ansarullah, Tehran has no influence on the Houthis.

The Yemeni response is part of an increasing asymmetric logic, which has as its primary objectives the halt to Riyadh’s bombings of Yemen by increasing the costs of doing so such that they become unsustainable. The obvious pressure point is the 20 billion barrels in strategic reserves.

There is no need for a false flag to blame Iran for the work of the Houthis. The corporate media is enough to have the false accusations repeated without the help of the Israelis or US-based neocons.

The Saudis are more cautious, even if unable to decide how to proceed. In Yemen, they have no more cards to play: they do not want to sit down and deal with Ansarullah, Tehran is unassailable, while Tel Aviv is pushing for a conflict, with Riyadh offered to be sacrificed.

I have been writing for months that, sooner or later, an event will occur that will change the regional balance in a possible conflict with Iran. This happened on Saturday, when half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production was brought to a halt by an attack.

Conclusion

There could not be any worse news for the neocons, Wahhabis and Zionists. If the Houthis could inflict such damage using 10 drones, then Tel Aviv, Riyadh and Washington must be having conniptions at the thought of what the Iranians would be capable of doing in the event that they themselves were attacked.

Any power (in this case the US and their air-defense systems) and its close ally would do everything to avoid suffering such a humiliation that would only serve to reveal their military vulnerabilities.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu’s visit to Moscow is seen by many in Israel as a failure. It is confirmed in Tel Aviv that the Zionist state’s recent attacks in Syria have been quashed by Russian intervention, sending an unambiguous message to Netanyahu.

Netanyahu and MBS, I reiterate, are heading towards the political abyss. And given their inability to handle the situation, they will do everything in their power to draw Washington into their plans against Iran.

It is all certainly vain. But in the coming weeks, I expect further provocations and tensions in the Middle East.

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Plastic Apocalypse: Alarming Levels of Plastic Found in Children

By Zero Hedge

Global Research,

New studies are being published that detail high levels of dangerous microplastics had been detected in some of the most remote regions of the world. Another study warned microplastics are turning up in human stool. Now there are new reports that show high levels of microplastics have been found in blood and urine samples of children. 

The study, conducted by the German Environment Ministry and the Robert Koch Institute, found an alarming 97% of blood and urine samples from 2,500 children tested between 2014 and 2017 had traces of microplastics.

Der Spiegel, the German weekly magazine, published the findings over the weekend, which were part of a national study focused on “human biomonitoring” of 3 to 17-year-olds, found traces of 11 out of 15 plastic ingredients in the collected samples.

“Our study clearly shows that plastic ingredients, which are rising in production, are also showing up more and more in the body. It is really worrying that the youngest children are most affected as the most sensitive group,” Marike Kolossa-Gehring, one of the study’s authors, told the magazine.

Researchers found perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), also used in cleaning products, waterproof clothing, food packaging, and cooking utensils, was present in the blood and urine samples.

Half the plastics ever produced have been made in the last 15 years, & the substance is taking over Earth: Researchers just discovered microplastic in the remote Arctic: https://t.co/PNSVoeLuTA

That’s bad, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. pic.twitter.com/EaKeFnWHiD
via WIRED

— Tomthunkit™ (@TomthunkitsMind) September 17, 2019

PFOA has been described as a dangerous chemical that is toxic to the liver. The EU will outlaw the substance next year.

In at least 20% of the 2,500 children tested, microplastics were above safe government limits. Children from low-income regions were more susceptible to ingesting plastics than ones from the middle class and wealthy areas.

“It can not be that every fourth child between the ages of three and five is so heavily burdened with chemicals that long-term damage cannot be reliably ruled out,” said Hoffmann, adding that “the Federal Government must make every effort to protect people from harmful chemicals.”

Der Spiegel said the study hadn’t been published, and the results were only made available by the government upon request by the Green Party.

Hoffmann said there’s not enough research on how microplastics affect the body, and how exactly they’re ingested.

As far as environmental and health impacts of microplastics, these three studies could suggest a silent plastic apocalypse has infected Earth.

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All images in this article are from the authorUkraine Crisis Report: Violation of the Donbass Ceasefire Agreement, BRICS and IMF-World Intervention

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Who Owns the Sea?

By Vanessa Baird

Global Research,

The coming months are critical if we are going to stop the damaging free-for-all that is the current status quo and save the world’s oceans for our common future. Vanessa Baird examines the prospects.

***

There’s a cartoon that oceanographer Lisa Levin uses in her lectures. It shows a group of women having coffee. One is saying: ‘I don’t know why I don’t care about the bottom of the ocean, but I don’t.’ It’s from The New Yorker, dated 1983, and it’s safe to say it probably reflected the feeling of the vast majority of people at the time.

Whatever has happened in the intervening decades, that, at least, may have changed. It’s so much easier today to feel for the seas.

We now know that the vast, once seemingly empty, body of blue is teeming with precious and precarious life. And we know much more about the human role in endangering so many of its creatures. A turtle, with a plastic straw stuck poignantly in its nostril. A baby whale, clutching to its ailing mother. A dolphin expiring from exhaustion, tangled in a fishing net.

We know the sheer colour and wondrous beauty of sea life. Bioluminescent fish that dazzle in the dark deep, where no light penetrates except the magical flashes that sea creatures themselves create. Awesome underwater mountains and kelp forests that seem like the stuff of rich fantasy.

Such images have been brought into the homes of millions by the Blue Planet television series, narrated by David Attenborough, providing us with an iconography of marine conservation that commands an almost sacred potency. Earlier this year, the naturalist and filmmaker achieved rock-star status, appearing, at the age of 93, at this year’s Glastonbury festival in the west of England.

But, more important, he has helped turn a vast anonymous expanse into something people care about, feel connected to, might even want to save.

Law of the Sea

Who owns the sea, that body of water that covers two-thirds of the planet? Can you really draw lines on water, circumscribe it with laws?

The idea of an international law of the sea has a long history. In 1609 Dutch jurist Hugo Grotius published a treatise called ‘The Freedom of the Seas or the Right which belongs to the Dutch to take part in the East Indian Trade’. The subtitle is a bit of a giveaway.

He began by saying: ‘Every nation is free to travel to every other nation and to trade with it.’

In 1982, after a decade of negotiation, a new UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III) came into being.

This enshrined Grotius’ ‘freedom of the seas’ but with more detailed national rights and privileges. It extended the ‘territorial sea’ where a coastal state is free to set laws, regulate, and use any resource from 3 to 12 nautical miles.[1] Vessels of all nations have the right of ‘innocent passage’ through all such territorial waters. Fishing, polluting, weapons practice and spying are not considered ‘innocent’, and submarines and other underwater vehicles are required to navigate on the surface and to show their flags.

The 1982 Convention also introduced a new 200-nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), within which the coastal nation has sole exploitation rights over all natural resources. In some cases, this can be extended even further.

Most of the seas – 64 per cent of the ocean’s surface – remain ‘high seas’ or ‘areas beyond national jurisdiction’, a free-for-all region.

The Convention has been signed by 167 countries and the European Union. The US has never ratified it, which is ironic given how often it uses its rhetoric when aggressively patrolling key waters to secure ‘freedom of navigation’. Nor, incidentally, has Iran.

Fit for purpose?

When it was first being discussed, the Law of the Sea was welcomed by many. Dorrik Stow, now oceanography professor at Scotland’s Heriot Watt University, recalls: ‘I was very enthusiastic about it as a student. There was such a huge ocean out there that should be beneficial to humankind.’

But what followed was a resource grab of epic proportions by richer coastal nations. ‘I don’t think the Law of the Sea has done anything for poorer communities or landlocked nations or the world in general,’ Stow now concludes.

Meanwhile, its enshrining of the ‘freedom of the high seas’ has in some ways enshrined lawlessness. Steven Haines, professor of international law at London’s Greenwich University, says:

‘Most international law in relation to the high seas is virtually unenforceable.’

He sees the international system for registering ships as a significant part of the problem.

‘It doesn’t work. If you talk to people who have vested interests they will say it’s working fine, but that’s simply not the case.’

Under UNCLOS, only flag states (the main ones being Panama, Liberia, Marshall Islands, Hong Kong and Greece) have jurisdiction over their registered ships in international waters. But they don’t, or can’t, effectively police their ships or what happens on them. There is no police force for the high seas and no criminal justice system that applies there.

A recent case is emblematic: a British teenager, allegedly raped on board a Panama-flagged cruise ship in international waters in the Mediterranean, was unable to obtain justice because the Spanish court in Valencia, where the ship docked, did not have the jurisdiction to try the case. Her alleged attacker was freed.

Current harms

Today many experts agree that the Law of the Sea is not fit for purpose. It has proved unable to deal with many challenges that were less apparent in the 1980s, such as modern slavery on ships, people-trafficking, piracy, overfishing, plastics pollution and climate change.

The high seas are, by and large, a zone where weak laws and poor governance allow the powerful to plunder and human rights abuses to go unchecked. Something close to anarchy prevails.

A handful of mainly rich nations exploit marine life for profit under the freedom to the high seas granted by UNCLOS. The Convention does include some duties to conserve living marine resources and protect and preserve the environment, including rare or fragile ecosystems and habitats, but these are largely ignored.

Though vast and forgiving, the seas are now in crisis, stressed to the limit by a range of human activities. For example, nearly 90 per cent of the world’s marine fish stocks are now fully exploited, over-exploited or depleted, according to the UN.

The extension of fishing into the high seas, and the deep seas, has put pressure on large migratory fish and marine animals: sharks, some types of tuna, whales, dolphins and turtles, are especially at risk.

Industrial fishing is the most harmful. Bottom trawling, which involves dragging a large net and heavy gear across the sea floor, is generally considered the most aggressive method, destroying fragile deep-sea habitats. Just six fishing powers – China, Taiwan, Japan, Indonesia, Spain and North Korea – account for 77 per cent of the global high-seas fishing fleet.

If industrial high-seas fishing is bad for marine creatures, it’s not much cop for humans either. A recent report on modern slavery at sea showed that it was ‘endemic’ in the Pacific, the source of most of the world’s tuna. Only 4 out of 35 leading brands surveyed had systems in place to detect slavery in their supply chains, which are complex and opaque.

Plastics pollution in the seas is now headline news. The oceans are awash with the stuff. Most originates on land as waste which then enters the river system, before flowing into the sea – 12 million tonnes a year. Much consists of single-use plastic containers and packaging.

Ocean currents carry this plastic waste over vast distances and to great depths. Spare a thought for US explorer Victor Vescovo who recently descended 11 kilometres to the deepest place in the ocean, the Pacific’s Mariana Trench – and found a plastic bag and sweet wrappers. Spare more thoughts for all the marine creatures that are eating plastic, often mistaking it for nutritious plankton. The trouble with plastic is that although it might eventually break down into smaller particles, it lasts forever.

Human activity on land is responsible for another growing marine problem – eutrophication. This is the creation of oxygen-depleted ‘dead zones’ in the sea.

Each summer, a 20,000 square-kilometre dead zone forms in the Gulf of Mexico near the Mississippi Delta. Cause of death: pig shit and artificial fertilizer from Iowa.

Yes. You read right. Two thousand kilometres up the Mississippi River is the US pig-breeding and soy and corn belt. Massive amounts of waste, including nitrates and phosphates, are produced by industrial farming methods; prodigious quantities of pig manure and artificial fertilizer are used on the crops. The chemicals contaminate the groundwater and then flow into the Mississippi-Missouri river system, which ends in the Gulf of Mexico. There, the nitrates and phosphates over-fertilize the sea, causing the formation of oxygen-starved areas devoid of life.

Scientists now know much more about the intricate relationship between the oceans and the atmosphere and what it means for climate change (see page 21). The ocean is like a gigantic sponge, explains Stow, holding 50 times more carbon and carbon dioxide than the atmosphere. It absorbs more than a quarter of the carbon dioxide produced by human activity. But all that excess carbon is leading to acidification of the seas as the CO2 dissolves, releasing hydrogen ions, lowering the water’s pH value and increasing its acidity. Called climate change’s ‘evil twin’, acidification kills off coral reefs, which provide habitats for 25 per cent of marine species.

A healthy sea absorbs CO2 and cools down the world, while its abundant plant-life produces much of the oxygen we need on land. It’s said that we have the ocean to thank for every second breath we take. We are not exactly showing our gratitude.

There are diverse ways in which we are treating the ocean badly – as a limitless dustbin for all manner of waste, chemical, nuclear, industrial, shipping, human; as a living storehouse that can be endlessly plundered without a thought for replenishment.

Future threats

We know, for example, of the lasting damage done by fossil fuel exploitation. BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010 is fresh in the memory. A ban on further oil exploration in the fragile and environmentally challenged Arctic and Antarctic should be a no-brainer.

‘We should keep away from them,’ says Stow, simply.

But what about the new initiatives that are increasingly seen as drivers of a future, high-tech ‘blue economy’?

In July protesters gathered in Kingston, Jamaica, where the International Seabed Authority (ISA) was holding a major meeting. This body is responsible for managing the seabed and ocean floor beyond national jurisdictions and it’s trying to finalize regulations for seabed mining by the end of 2020. The protesters were calling for a 20-year moratorium on deep-sea mining.

Large swathes already have been licensed to companies by the ISA for mineral exploration, many in areas of high biodiversity value. But scientists warn that mining will cause irrevocable damage to vulnerable deep ocean ecosystems which also play a key role in controlling our climate. A simulated mining operation conducted 26 years ago in the sea off Peru shows biological damage enduring to this day.

The ISA has a serious conflict of interest. It is supposed to protect the seabed at the same time as enabling its exploitation. Environmentalists and some marine scientists say it is too close to the mining industry and is failing to encourage informed public debate about the risks. The company DeepGreen is a vocal proponent for deep-sea mining at the ISA and is working with shipping giant Maersk and mining transnational Glencore.

Marine bioprospecting is another controversial area. There has been a corporate rush to acquire marine patents. At present there are no clear rules governing the use of marine genetic resources and there are major issues around the access to these resources and how any resultant benefits should be distributed.

Reproduced and adapted from the Ocean Atlas, Heinrich Böll Stiftung, 2017, under Creative Commons licence, nin.tl/ocean-atlas

A Global Ocean Treaty

All that might be about to change. Representatives from 190 countries are taking part in the Intergovernmental Conference on the Protection of Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ), which at the time of writing is about to enter the third of its four rounds. It is due to complete in mid-2020 and will pave the way to a new Global Ocean Treaty.

‘This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to get ocean governance that puts conservation and sustainable use first,’ says Liz Karan, senior manager for the high seas programme at Pew Charitable Trusts.

The aim is to develop an international, legally binding instrument to enable the protection of marine life and habitats outside national jurisdiction.

Issues on the table include: the need for comprehensive environmental impact assessments for activities on the high seas; capacity building for management and conservation; the international sharing of benefits from marine genetic resources; and the use of area-based management tools, including marine protected areas (MPAs). The outcome will need to be radical, ambitious and properly enforced, if it is to work.

‘Just asking existing institutions to do their job better will not go far enough,’ says oceanographer Callum Roberts at the UK’s University of York.

Those existing institutions include regional fisheries management organizations, the International Seabed Authority and the International Maritime Organization.

‘There is a deep level of dysfunction at the heart of many of these organizations,’ says Roberts. ‘Putting them in charge of environmental protection would be a disaster. They urgently need reforms in the way they operate, as part of the Treaty. Some other body, with legal teeth and powers to sanction non-compliance with rules, must be created to co-ordinate and deliver protected areas.’

Roberts is lead author of a bold and comprehensive report published by Greenpeace, which lays out a blueprint to protecting 30 per cent of the world’s oceans by 2030.

We are currently achieving less than half of the 10 per cent by 2020 figure agreed under the Convention on Biological Diversity.

But the report’s authors say that 30 per cent is the minimum required to save the seas and that this can be achieved by creating a planet-wide network of ocean sanctuaries, making large areas of international waters off limits for fishing and extractive industries. The sanctuary network is designed to use data such as the distribution of sharks, whales, seamounts, trenches, hydrothermal vents, fishing fleets, mining claims and so forth. It takes into account wider environmental change and uncertainty and uses sea surface temperature to identify places likely to change more slowly or adapt more readily to rising temperature stress.

In the past, marine protected areas (MPAs) have been criticized for being too weak, for failing to stop over-exploitation, or for threatening the livelihoods of local traditional fishers.

‘I think many of the uncertainties about how MPAs work have now been resolved by science,’ says Roberts. ‘We know they are powerful tools that will deliver a wide range of benefits if done well. Many people who think they will lose turn out not to when MPAs are established, often becoming supporters of protection. People are afraid of what they don’t know. We should be more afraid of a future without protected areas, since protection is critical to help us mitigate the impacts of global climate change and adapt to its effects.’

How Ocean Pollution Affects Human Health

Conservation takes many forms. These traditional fishers from Madagascar have switched to fishing more sustainable species. Credit: Tommy Trenchard and Aurelie Marrier D’unienville/PanosOur sea

The oceans are our shared common heritage, but the current Law of the Sea does not deliver equity by a long chalk. In 2010 Australian philosopher Denise Russell wrote, with some prescience:

‘A formidable force involved in the fate of the oceans favours a largely unregulated sea. This is the group of corporations that make use of the oceans in diverse ways… The Law of the Sea is now part of the problem with oceans and radical reorganization of ocean ownership is needed. Instead of a free-for-all, the high seas should be owned by the international community and regulated to ensure equity between nations and generations.’

This is the moment for the big push, to demand that our leaders agree a strong Global Ocean Treaty in 2020 with the creation of a body with enforcement powers to protect the seas, their life forms – and life on Earth.

As David Attenborough said at the end of his Blue Planet 2 series:

‘Never before have we had such awareness of what we are doing to the planet. Never before have we had such power to do something about it.’

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Europe’s Complicity in Latin America’s Deforestation Crisis

Open Letter

By Forest Peoples Programme

Global Research,

Dear President-elect Ursula von der Leyen,
First Vice-President Frans Timmermans,
President of the European Parliament David Sassoli,

Dear Heads of State [heads of government] of countries signatory to the Amsterdam Declaration:

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, President Emmanuel Macron, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Chancellor Angela Merkel, Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Prime Minister Erna Solberg,

Plea to address EU complicity in current deforestation crisis and instruct the European Commission to work on EU regulation to end deforestation

The dramatic acceleration in deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon which has led to an alarmingnumber of fires is one of the world’s most urgent problems. The fires have evoked a powerfulworldwide response, as people look on in anger and desperation at the worsening situation.

The sharp increase in fires, both in Brazil and in surrounding countries like Bolivia and Paraguay, is not natural. They are lit by landholders in an effort to improve grass cover in cattle pastures or to burn felled trees in preparation for crops or pasture. Neither are some of the fires incidental, since in the state of Pará, for example, ‘dias de fogo’ – days of fire – have been planned and announced in advance by landholders.

The high deforestation rates and forest fires in Brazil can be directly associated with the Brazilian federal government. Public statements by President Bolsonaro outlining his commitment to loosen law enforcement, have sent a clear signal of impunity that encourages environmental crimes.

The largest and most dangerous impacts of these crimes are felt not only by nature but also by indigenous peoples and traditional communities, whose ways of life, traditional knowledge and livelihoods are under severe threat from a serious increase in violations of their nationally and internationally protected rights. Women are particularly impacted.

Combined with the refusal to demarcate indigenous lands, the deliberate dismantling of the operational capacity of the federal environmental agency IBAMA, backsliding in the legal framework for environmental licensing of infrastructure, logging, mining and agribusiness projects and much more, it is clear that the current Brazilian administration is deeply embroiled in the current deforestation emergency facing Brazil, which harms Brazilians first and foremost.

This subject was judiciously put on the Agenda of the recent G7 meeting in Biarritz. However, we do not believe that the actions decided on go anywhere near far enough to tackle the escalating deforestation emergency.

You not only have the power to do more – you also bear the responsibility.

European consumption and finance is intimately linked with the current deforestation crisis in Brazil and neighbouring countries. The EU is Brazil’s second biggest trading partner – with 19% of all soy the EU consumes coming from Brazil (for the period July-December 2018) and 10% of all Brazilian beef for export is destined for the EU, two of the commodities that are highly associated with the current deforestation crisis. The EU is also a large importer of tropical hardwoods. According to the UN, 70% of deforestation due directly to agricultural clearing is precipitated by the existence of logging roads, with logged tropical forests being eight times more likely to be completely deforested than those remaining unlogged. As well, the degradation caused by logging is a significant source of emissions itself.

We believe the EU can act decisively in two ways.

  1. Suspend ratification of the Free Trade AgreementAs you are well aware, the EU has recently concluded a Free Trade Agreement with Mercosur countries, including Brazil. Within this Free Trade Agreement, Brazil pledged to uphold its commitment to the Paris Agreement.The current deforestation crisis contravenes the stated aims of the Paris Agreement. It is therefore a matter of urgency for the EU to formally suspend the ratification process, as a number of EU leaders have called for. It should contain strong and binding safeguards that will ensure that forests are protected, and Indigenous and traditional communities’ rights respected.Furthermore, we believe it is pertinent to remind EU leaders that the Mercosur Free Trade Agreement negotiations were conducted despite the lack of up-to-date analysis ofthe deal’s potential social, human rights and environmental damage.
  2. Prepare legislation which will ensure companies and the finance sector do due diligence to guarantee that products placed on the EU market and investments have not led to recent forest degradation or deforestation or caused human rights abuses

International Coalition Calls for the EU to End Its Role in the Assault on the Amazon

It has become apparent that the provisions within the existing Free Trade Agreements, including with Mercosur countries, are not strong enough to hold trading partners to account for their environmental and human rights performance, especially when reckless administrations take hold.

A recent poll showed that 87% of Europeans support new laws to ensure that the food they eat and the products they buy don’t drive global deforestation. European citizenswill not continue to allow further destruction of the forests we all depend on to stabiliseour climate, maintain rainfall, nurture biodiversity and protect the world’s poorestpeople.

On the 23rd of July, the European Commission issued a Communication on Stepping upEU Action to Protect and Restore the World’s Forests. Within this Communication, the EU commits to:

“assess(ing) additional demand side regulatory…measures to ensure a level playing field…in order to increase supply chain transparency and minimise the risk ofdeforestation and forest degradation associated with commodity imports in the EU”

Our main asks to you today is to instruct the European Commission to work on such legislation with immediate effect and suspend the process on the conclusion of the Mercosur free trade agreement.

Yours sincerely,

Hannah Mowat, Campaigns Coordinator, Fern
Daniel Merdes, CEO, Borneo Orangutan Survival Germany
Nicholas Bell, European Civic Forum
Mary Booth, Director, Partnership for Policy Integrity
Martin Luiga, International Communications Coordinator, Estonian Forest Aid
Eric Benson, Partner, Re-nourish, LTD.
Evelyn Schönheit, Jupp Trauth, Forum Ökologie & Papier, Germany
Tina Lutz, Jana Ballenthien, Forest Campaigners ROBIN WOOD, Germany
Glenn Hurowitz, Director, Mighty Earth
Christoph Wiedmer, CO-Director Society for Threatened Peoples Switzerland
Faith Doherty, Forests Campaign Leader, Environmental Investigation Agency
Reinhard Behrend, Rettet den Regenwald e.V. – Rainforest Rescue, Germany
Patrick Alley, Director and Co-Founder, Global Witness
Lukas Straumann, Director, Bruno Manser Fund, Switzerland
Nikolai Lang, Constituted executive Director, Forests of the World
Karin Lexén, Secretary general, Swedish Society for Nature Conservation
Merel van der Mark, Finance WG coordinator, Environmental Paper Network
Almuth Ernsting, Biofuelwatch
Ton Sledsens, Forest Campaign, Milieudefensie
Øyvind Eggen, Executive Director, Rainforest Foundation Norway
Nikolaj Kornbech, Economic Justice Campaigner, NOAH, Denmark
Jagoda Munić, Director, Friends of the Earth Europe
Tom Griffiths, Coordinator of the Responsible Finance Programme, Forest Peoples Programme Sylvain Angerand, Campaigns Coordinator, Canopée
Harri Hölttä, Chairman, Finnish Association for Nature Conservation, Finland
Magda Stoczkiewicz Deputy Director, Greenpeace European Unit

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The Saudi Arabia Oil Refinery Bombing: The Latest False Flag

By Robert Fantina

Global Research,

The United States has long been itching to do Israel’s bidding and invade Iran. This desire was somewhat subdued during the administration of Barack Obama, but returned like gang-busters with the ascendance of the unstable, narcissistic Donald Trump to the U.S. throne. First was the U.S. withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA); Trump and his minions apparently hoped that the economic damage resulting from this would cause the Iranian people to rise up against their own government. The U.S. would then, of course, have to invade for ‘humanitarian’ purposes.

That failed, so then the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, the clown-like Nikki Haley, went on and on about Iran’s alleged nefarious dealings throughout the Middle East. Not only was any evidence of this lacking, but the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was inspecting Iran’s nuclear sites, and certifying Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA several times a year. Unfortunately, no one was inspecting the U.S. for compliance, because in 2018, it violated the agreement. Any while Haley was looking for any excuse to criticize Iran, she had nothing but praise for the brutal apartheid regime of Israel.

But Haley’s accusations didn’t amount to much, and she faded into obscurity, where she certainly belongs. So the U.S. tried to blame Iran for damaging two Saudi Arabian oil tankers in May of this year, and again in June. Still, this didn’t resonate with the world sufficiently for the U.S. to invade.

Iran shot down a U.S. drone flying in Iranian airspace, and again, Donald Trump and his minions when ballistic (please forgive the pun). In retaliation, Trump proclaimed that the U.S. shot down an Iranian drone, but didn’t bother to show any evidence of it, while the Iran’s government spokespeople stated that all of their drones returned on schedule.

What is an unstable, war-mongering president to do?

Well, the answer, perhaps, was to hit everyone where it hurts the most, in their pocketbooks. Enter Abqaiq. The possibility of oil supplies being disrupted might be sufficient to cause the world to act in a totally irrational manner.

As shown, this is just the latest in the long list of false flags the U.S. raises in its attempt to justify an invasion of Iran.Trump and the World

Is this a new concept? Hardly! We need not look very far back in history to see other examples; in fact, the entire ugly and violent history of the United States is littered with such false flags, each of them bloodier than the next. A few examples will suffice.

In early 2018, the U.S. bombed Syria to punish the government after it accused Bashar al-Assad of using poison gas on his own people. Shortly thereafter, then Secretary of Defense James Mattis said that the U.S. had no evidence that Assad had done what the U.S. bombed his country for doing. The U.S. wanted to bomb Syria, because it wasn’t rolling over and dying in its intense battle with U.S.-financed terrorists, so some additional violence needed to be perpetrated against it.

Let us go all the way back to 2002 and 2003, when then President George Bush told the world that Iraq had ‘weapons of mass destruction’, all of which threatened the very existence of the United States, if not civilization itself. The fact that much of the weaponry Iraq once had was provided to it by the U.S. wasn’t much discussed back then. But Bush and his cohorts told the U.S. and the world, from the United Nations, that something needed to be done. And while most of the U.S.’s major allies took a pass on participation in the subsequent invasion, the U.S. went forward with its ‘Shock and Awe’ (who on earth comes up with these names? And is naming an invasion even necessary) campaign against the people of Iraq. But lo and behold, no ‘weapons of mass destruction’ were ever found in Iraq’s possession. Of course, no one talks about the weapons of mass destruction that the U.S. used against Iraq.

For those who are a bit older, they may remember that the start of the Vietnam War was another significant false flag. Two U.S. destroyers patrolling the Gulf of Tonkin, where they had no legitimate business to be, reported that they’d been fired upon. Within 24 hours, the ships’ captains realized that there had been no attack, just some ‘ghost’ images on the radar that falsely signaled an attack. But President Lyndon Johnson, a major war criminal if ever there was one, used this non-event to astronomically escalate U.S. troop presence in Vietnam; up to this point, U.S. soldiers were ostensibly just ‘advisers’. At least 2,000,000 Vietnamese men, women and children died as a direct result of this; over 50,000 U.S. soldiers died; Cambodia and Laos were also bombed, the U.S. was nearly bankrupt by the war, students across the country fought the U.S. government, and the reputation of the U.S. was in tatters. And the goal of the people of Vietnam, the uniting of their country which the U.S. so vehemently and violently opposed, was eventually realized when the U.S. fled in defeat.

And now we have Iran firmly in the crosshairs of U.S. imperial adventurism. We see one baseless accusation by the U.S. after another, against a nation that hasn’t invaded another country since 1798. Yet the list of nations the U.S. has invaded is a mile long.

The U.S. policy of Middle East destabilization has been wildly successful, evidenced by the blood of innocents that the U.S. has shed in that part of the world. But Trump & Co. had better think twice before invading Iran; this is not an isolated, Third-World country, but a major Middle East powerhouse, with allies including Russia. U.S. militarism should tread very lightly in that part of the world.

But will Trump exercise restraint? Possibly. He has promised his base of support, for whom he will do anything, including depriving them of health care (that’s a topic for a different essay), not to get into any more wars. And with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, another major war criminal, on the cusp of losing power, Trump may not be so willing to do his bidding. Trump likes ‘winners’, as he always says, and Netanyahu’s days of winning may be over.

If there were any cooler heads in the White House to prevail, one would have some hope. But relying on the whim of the self-proclaimed stable genius, who is quite patently neither, is not much to hold onto.

Posted in Saudi ArabiaComments Off on The Saudi Arabia Oil Refinery Bombing: The Latest False Flag

Nazi Elections: Rearranging Deck Chairs on the Titanic

Israeli Elections: Rearranging Deck Chairs on the Titanic

By Richard Silverstein

Global Research,

Israel’s second election in the past five months has led to yet another political stalemate. As occurred in April, the two main political parties, the far-right Likud and centre-right Blue and White, fought to a virtual tie.

The political kingmaker today, as he was ingt April, is Avigdor Lieberman of Yisrael Beiteinu. In the last election, he refused to offer his party’s seats to a Likud-led coalition headed by his once-patron and now arch-rival, Benjamin Netanyahu. This is what led to the current round of voting.

Though it is hard to predict what Lieberman will do, he is holding out for a secular “unity government” consisting of Likud and Blue and White. His main aims are to keep the Orthodox parties out of the ruling coalition and pass a military draft law to compel currently-exempt Orthodox youth to join the army.

Path to a coalition

This plan is vehemently opposed by the ultra-Orthodox, who maintain that studying the Torah is the only suitable vocation for men. They view joining the army as a grave desecration of their divine obligations. In the past, they have closed down major highways and rioted during protests against this law.

There is another path to a centre-right coalition led by Blue and White that would exclude Likud. The Palestinian Joint List has offered, for the first time in Israeli history, to join such a government.

Given that it is the third-largest party in the Knesset, increasing its representation in this election to 13 seats, in any other democratic legislature it would be a natural constituent for such a governing coalition.

But Israel is not a secular democracy. It is rather an ethnocracy, in which the rights of Palestinian citizens are subordinated to those of Jews. No ruling Israeli coalition has ever included Palestinian parties.

This is a prospect that Lieberman, who is fanatically anti-Palestinian, would never countenance. As such, it’s highly unlikely that these seats will be placed at the service of a centrist coalition.Israelis Have Shown Netanyahu the Door. Can He Inflict More Damage before He Exits?

This, of course, is one of the major tragedies of Israeli political discourse. The system refuses to confer equal rights on its Palestinian citizens. This, in turn, only confirms that the conception of Israel as a Jewish state is in irredeemable conflict with Israel as a democratic state.

Clearly many, if not most, Israeli Jews are willing to shed the notion of a democratic Israel to preserve their superior rights.

Hollow rationale

Returning to Lieberman’s grand coalition: it would be a weird amalgam of parties holding views from the centre-right to the far-right. Most of the centre-left parties, such as Labor and the Democratic Union, would either boycott it or be dubbed too left-wing for comfort.

These two large party blocs would cohabit in extreme discomfort. They have been campaigning against each other for months, slinging vile, racist smears.

Lieberman’s own rationale for such a government rings exceedingly hollow:

“I say to all citizens, our security and economy are in an emergency situation. Therefore, the state must have a broad national, liberal government, and not one which fights for survival from one week to the next and from one no-confidence vote to the next.”

Neither Israel’s security nor its economy face any emergency, nor would such a government address the nation’s problems very differently than the current far-right, Likud-led government.

The main difference will be that Lieberman will have played an instrumental role in forging this ruling coalition, and will score a plumb ministerial assignment as foreign or defence minister. In other words, this is a vanity project boosting his own political power.

Whatever the outcome, and barring any miraculous rabbits pulled from a hat, Netanyahu’s career as prime minister seems to be at an end. The price for Blue and White entering into a coalition with Likud will be dropping him as its leader. Gantz has said that he will not serve with a coalition partner facing major corruption charges.

Though Israeli politicians have been known to make such pledges before and break them when faced with the prospect of securing power, Gantz likely will not compromise on this point – and Likud’s loyalty to Netanyahu under such circumstances will be exceedingly weak.

The party would much rather remain in power than go to a third election or see themselves on the outside of the next government. Ditching their long-time leader will not be a heavy lift.

Palestinians lose again

Netanyahu is so desperate to retain power that he hatched a plan to invade Gaza. Such a military operation would have conveniently entailed delaying the election. There’s nothing like a good war to rally voters to a politician’s side, but the Israeli army chief of staff and the attorney general both nipped the stratagem in the bud.

Whoever wins, Palestinians – both Israeli citizens and those in occupied Palestine – will lose. They are an afterthought, at best.

No party during this election offered any serious thought to the conflict with Palestinians; it is simply not on the Israeli political agenda.

For more than four decades, the ruling Israeli far-right has co-opted the debate and formed a national consensus that rejects a single-state or two-state solution. Yes, the politicians have mouthed fealty to two states, but they then refused to sign any agreement with the Palestinians that offered them even half a loaf.

Israelis are happy with the status quo since it offers them all of the benefits and none of the costs of maintaining the occupation of millions of Palestinians.

Regardless of who wins, regardless of the composition of a new government, this election is a tragedy. It breaks no new ground in resolving Israel’s greatest, most unsolvable problem. This means the wars will continue, the violence will continue, the hatred will continue unabated.

As I wrote in my post-mortem of the 2015 election, the results consist of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, instead of seeing clearly the iceberg lying straight ahead.

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Will the Yemen War be the End of Saudi Arabia?

By Tom Luongo

Global Research,

The attack on Saudi Arabia’s major oil processing station in Abqaiq over the weekend was a major turning point in global politics. It may be even bigger than many of us realize.

While forces within U.S. political circles, Israel and Saudi Arabia keep trying to shift the blame to Iran, the most likely scenario is that the Houthis in North Yemen were responsible for the attack as a follow up to last month’s hit which showed off the capabilities of their new drones.

That attack set the stage for the latest one in a classic case of the past being prologue. By showing the world it was capable of throwing drones anywhere in Saudi Arabia rebels in Yemen created plausibility for last weekend’s attack.

And as I said the other day this attack begs a lot of questions. And the ham-fisted push to blame Iran for it, after President Trump all but ruled out a military response from the U.S. from all corners of the U.S. and Saudi establishment opens up even more.

If this was a swarm attack from Iraq and Iran, as claimed now (and supported by factless conjecture) then how did all the vaunted U.S. technology fail to account for it?

U.S. Naval CENTCOM is in Bahrain folks. Are these people blind as well as incompetent?

No. I don’t think they are. Say what you want about U.S. political leadership and the nigh-treasonous bureaucracy supporting it, I don’t think our military is that fundamentally corrupt, lazy or stupid.

What are we spending all of the money on, after all?

By continuing to spin this attack up as Iranian in origin people like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Saudi Arabian government are throwing the Pentagon under the bus.

The truth is that by trying to re-frame this as an attack by Iraqi Shi’ite militias, the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), in conjunction with the IRGC, we are trying to further separate them from the Iraqi government who still openly support them and deflect against Saudi Arabia’s inherent weakness.

The PMUs have been our target politically in Iraq for months now so as to restart the chaos in Iraq.

Iraq and Syria continue to try and re-open the Al-Bukumai border crossing near Deir Ezzor. In response to the drone attack on Saudi Arabia there were two sets of airstrikes there on the 17th and the 18th. Saudi Arabia denies being involved and blamed Israel for the strikes.

The Shia Crescent is forming. The PMUs are an important part of this. Iran is investing billions in new road and rail links from Tehran to Beirut. So, the existential threat to Saudi Arabia and Israel is real.Will Americans Let Trump Start World War III for Saudi Arabia and Israel?

Of that I have zero doubt.

But, notice what’s happening. Everyone’s pointing fingers at each other within the the U.S. alliance now.

Meanwhile Iran very calmly keeps denying the attack. I fully expect proof from them in the near future if the U.S. shows “proof” of Iran’s involvement.

Think back to the drone incident in June which nearly landed us in a war with Iran. The story morphed and changed with each day. The Iranians had the data, the proof, on their side and they let morons like Pompeo say provably false things before releasing it.

“Drip Drip Drip” is the strategy, as Andrew Breitbart used to call it. Drip out some information and allow your target to lie about it. Then drip out the next bit exposing that lie. And so on, and so on.

That’s what Iran did in June, humiliating Trump at every turn. And I’m sure if they weren’t behind this attack they will do the same thing in the coming days.

And I also think the U.S knows this as well. And that’s why nothing much more will come of it. It will be used diplomatically to tie Trump’s hands and front a lie to conceal more important truths.

  • The Saudi Arabians cannot defend their home. As Moon of Alabama points outSaudi air defense coverage is poor.
  • U.S. naval positioning is not prepared for a step up in violence. Carrier Groups are not in the Persian Gulf.
  • The Iranians believe they can hit targets up to 2000 kilometers away. How true that is versus U.S. air defense systems is questionable.
  • The Saudis have lost nearly all of their external support. The coalition against Yemen has collapsed.
  • The Houthis are winning.
  • Qatar hates them.
  • Egypt wouldn’t join Trump’s Arab NATO.
  • OPEC+ is floundering and Russia sets the tone.

And this brings me to the stark possibility Pepe Escobar laid out in his recent column. The Houthis may, right now, be in a position to launch an all-out attack from Yemen on Saudi Arabia and destabilize the country.

The situation has now reached a point where there’s plenty of chatter across the Persian Gulf about a spectacular scenario: the Houthis investing in a mad dash across the Arabian desert to capture Mecca and Medina in conjunction with a mass Shiite uprising in the Eastern oil belt. That’s not far-fetched anymore. Stranger things have happened in the Middle East. After all, the Saudis can’t even win a bar brawl – that’s why they rely on mercenaries.

An uprising in the east has always been on the table. It’s why the Saudis need $80+ per barrel oil. They have to pay for social programs that keep the population relatively happy.

From every side now, the Saudi Kingdom is under existential threat. So, I’m not surprised they are trying to push the blame for this incident onto Iran.

The quick announcement by newly-minted Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman that Aramco’s production will be back to normal quickly was done to reassure potential investors in the upcoming Aramco IPO, a $400 billion affair. It is the lynchpin to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s (MbS) Vision 2030 plan for modernizing the kingdom’s economy.

That fits with the desire to deflect the source of the attack away from their war in Yemen. Because, as bad as the optics are for the U.S. military, they are far worse for the Saudis if the Houthis are truly the culprits.

At a minimum the changing of the energy minister was a signal that a shift in Saudi policy is forthcoming. But without suing for peace soon MbS may not have time he thought he did.

Because there is no appetite for all out war with Iran in the U.S. The Saudis are no longer the ‘good Arabs’ to most Americans.

The military doesn’t want to put the soldiers at risk, Wall St. doesn’t want to see a financial collapse that makes Lehman Bros. look like a couple of Amish kids on rumspringa.

The MIC doesn’t want to expose their toys to the potential for them failing to dominate in the field.

War with Iran will not be conventional. It will come from all sides, all across the Shia Crescent, but especially Yemen. Of this the Iranians have been very clear, regardless of the outcome. They believe their missile technology is superior to U.S. air defense systems.

They may be correct and the last thing the U.S. wants is an actual shooting war where the outcome isn’t a foregone conclusion. The U.S. military is better served as a bogeyman, politically, rather than an actual physical threat.

So, MbS better come to the conclusion quick that a settlement in Yemen is the key to his near-term survival. Because in a quick strike by the Houthis which creates an uprising across the country there’s precious little the U.S. can or will do to oppose that.

And while an all-out war would certainly bring $150+ per barrel oil which the Saudis need to balance their budget, they most likely wouldn’t be the ones selling into that market.

Posted in USA, Saudi Arabia, YemenComments Off on Will the Yemen War be the End of Saudi Arabia?

Where Was Osama bin Laden on September 10, 2001? One Day Before 9/11. His Whereabouts Were Known

Osama bin Laden Was in a Pakistani Military Hospital… Hospitalized on September 10, CBS Dan Rather Report

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research

This CBS Report suggests that Osama bin Laden had been admitted to a Pakistani Military hospital in Rawalpindi on the 10th local time, less than 24 hours before the terrorist attacks.

The report does not mention when he was actually released. 

Nonetheless, this report casts doubt on the official narrative to the effect that Osama bin Laden was responsible for coordinating the 9/11 attacks.

From where? From his hospital bed? From his laptop or his cell phone?  

The Pakistani military headquarters located in Rawalpindi is integrated by resident US military and intelligence advisers working with their Pakistani colleagues, who routinely report to Washington. It would be impossible for Osama bin Laden to enter a Pakistani military hospital unnoticed. Osama is a CIA “intelligence asset”. His whereabouts are known.

This CBS report confirms that the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden on September 10 were known to the Bush Administration.

Did “intelligence asset” Osama bin Laden have a GPS “Embedded Locator Chip”  within his body, or a GPS in his laptop or cell phone which would have enabled US intelligence to establish his precise location in real time? (That GPS technology including the embedded locator chip was readily available to US intelligence and law enforcement well before 2001).

Osama could have been arrested on the 10th of September 2001. But that did not happen.

Donald Rumsfeld repeatedly claimed that the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden were unknown: “It is like looking for a needle in a stack of hay”.   It’s an outright lie.  Needless to say, “Going after bin Laden” in the wake of 9/11 has served to sustain the legend of the “world’s most wanted terrorist”.

The complete transcript of the CBS report is given below (emphasis added). The original CBS video is also provided.

***

Bin Laden Whereabouts Before 9/11

CBS Evening News with Dan Rather; Author: Dan Rather, Barry Petersen

CBS, 28 January 2002

DAN RATHER, CBS ANCHOR: As the United states and its allies in the war on terrorism press the hunt for Osama bin Laden, CBS News has exclusive information tonight about where bin Laden was and what he was doing in the last hours before his followers struck the United States September 11.

This is the result of hard-nosed investigative reporting by a team of CBS news journalists, and by one of the best foreign correspondents in the business, CBS`s Barry Petersen. Here is his report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BARRY PETERSEN, CBS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Everyone remembers what happened on September 11. Here`s the story of what may have happened the night before. It is a tale as twisted as the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

CBS News has been told that the night before the September 11 terrorist attack, Osama bin Laden was in Pakistan. He was getting medical treatment with the support of the very military that days later pledged its backing for the U.S. war on terror in Afghanistan.

Pakistan intelligence sources tell CBS News that bin Laden was spirited into this military hospital in Rawalpindi for kidney dialysis treatment. On that night, says this medical worker who wanted her identity protected, they moved out all the regular staff in the urology department and sent in a secret team to replace them. She says it was treatment for a very special person. The special team was obviously up to no good.

“The military had him surrounded,” says this hospital employee who also wanted his identity masked, “and I saw the mysterious patient helped out of a car. Since that time,” he says, “I have seen many pictures of the man. He is the man we know as Osama bin Laden. I also heard two army officers talking to each other. They were saying that Osama bin Laden had to be watched carefully and looked after.” Those who know bin Laden say he suffers from numerous ailments, back and stomach problems. Ahmed Rashid, who has written extensively on the Taliban, says the military was often there to help before 9/11.

AHMED RASHID, TALIBAN EXPERT: There were reports that Pakistani intelligence had helped the Taliban buy dialysis machines. And the rumor was that these were wanted for Osama bin Laden.

PETERSEN (on camera): Doctors at the hospital told CBS News there was nothing special about that night, but they refused our request to see any records. Government officials tonight denied that bin Laden had any medical treatment on that night.

(voice-over): But it was Pakistan`s President Musharraf who said in public what many suspected, that bin Laden suffers from kidney disease, saying he thinks bin Laden may be near death. His evidence, watching this most recent video, showing a pale and haggard bin Laden, his left hand never moving. Bush administration officials admit they don`t know if bin Laden is sick or even dead.

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: With respect to the issue of Osama bin Laden`s health, I just am — don`t have any knowledge.

PETERSEN: The United States has no way of knowing who in Pakistan`s military or intelligence supported the Taliban or Osama bin Laden maybe up to the night before 9/11 by arranging dialysis to keep him alive. So the United States may not know if those same people might help him again perhaps to freedom.

Barry Petersen, CBS News, Islamabad.


America’s “War on Terrorism”

9/11 ANALYSIS: Where was Osama bin Laden on September 11, 2001.

waronterrorism.jpg

by Michel Chossudovsky

ISBN Number: 9780973714715List Price: $24.95click here to order

Special Price: $18.00

In this new and expanded edition of Michel Chossudovsky’s 2002 best seller, the author blows away the smokescreen put up by the mainstream media, that 9/11 was an attack on America by “Islamic terrorists”.  Through meticulous research, the author uncovers a military-intelligence ploy behind the September 11 attacks, and the cover-up and complicity of key members of the Bush Administration.

The expanded edition, which includes twelve new chapters focuses on the use of 9/11 as a pretext for the invasion and illegal occupation of Iraq, the militarisation of justice and law enforcement and the repeal of democracy.

According to Chossudovsky, the  “war on terrorism” is a complete fabrication based on the illusion that one man, Osama bin Laden, outwitted the $40 billion-a-year American intelligence apparatus. The “war on terrorism” is a war of conquest. Globalisation is the final march to the “New World Order”, dominated by Wall Street and the U.S. military-industrial complex.

September 11, 2001 provides a justification for waging a war without borders. Washington’s agenda consists in extending the frontiers of the American Empire to facilitate complete U.S. corporate control, while installing within America the institutions of the Homeland Security State.

Posted in USAComments Off on Where Was Osama bin Laden on September 10, 2001? One Day Before 9/11. His Whereabouts Were Known

Palestinians Vow to ‘Hold on to Our Land’ in Wake of Netanyahu Annexation Pledge

‘It’s impossible to have a Palestinian state without the Jordan Valley,’ says chief negotiator Saeb Erekat; farmers say Netanyahu ‘won’t break their will’

A Palestinian woman collects green beans at a field in the Bedouin village of Al-Maleh in Jordan Valley in the West Bank, March 11, 2019.
A Palestinian woman collects green beans at a field in the Bedouin village of Al-Maleh in Jordan Valley in the West Bank, March 11, 2019.\ RANEEN SAWAFTA/ REUTERS

Palestinians tilling the fertile Jordan Valley said on Wednesday they have been rooted for generations to the West Bank land that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to annex, and they vowed never to give it up.

“We tell Netanyahu, and whoever follows him, you will not break the Palestinians’ will, you will never break our will, never, never,” said Hassan Al-Abedi, a 55-year-old farmer who lives in the village of Jiftlik.

“It’s our parents’ and grandparents’ land. We will hold onto it no matter what it costs.”

Drawing condemnation from Palestinian and other Arab leaders, Netanyahu announced on Tuesday that he plans to “apply Israeli sovereignty” to the Jordan Valley and adjacent northern Dead Sea if he prevails in what is shaping up as a tough battle for re-election on September 17.

Palestinians seek to establish a state in all of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and their leaders said Israeli annexation would violate international law and effectively nullify interim peace deals from the 1990s that included security cooperation.

Against the backdrop of Jordan’s desert mountain range to the east, Palestinian farmers tended their crops and worried about their future in an area where the town of Jericho and the River Jordan are reminders of a biblical past.

“This is not Netanyahu’s land to give,” said Ismael Hassan, a 75-year-old Palestinian from Zbeidat village. “Whether or not Netanyahu succeeds (in the election) we won’t accept it. This land is for Palestine, for the Palestinians.”

In Israel, which captured the West Bank in a 1967 war, Netanyahu’s declaration was widely seen as a bid to sap support from far-right election rivals who advocate annexation of settlements, and from a center-left that for decades has argued that the Jordan Valley should be kept on security grounds.

A Palestinian man leads his horse in the Jordan Valley, the eastern-most part of the West Bank that borders Jordan, July 20, 2019.
A Palestinian man leads his horse in the Jordan Valley, the eastern-most part of the West Bank that borders Jordan, July 20, 2019.\ AMMAR AWAD/ REUTERS

Retaining the Jordan Valley would effectively leave Israel encircling any Palestinian political entity that emerges.

Crafting opinion

Following up on his speech with remarks on Facebook on Wednesday, Netanyahu took credit for having persuaded U.S. President Donald Trump to recognize Israeli sovereignty over another strategic slice of occupied territory – the Golan Heights captured from Syria in 1967 – and to relocate the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.

The White House was informed in advance of Tuesday’s annexation announcement, Netanyahu said, adding that he was “crafting opinion in favor of recognition of Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley.”

A U.S. official confirmed Washington had been pre-notified but said the announcement was not coordinated between the sides.

“He (Netanyahu) is a politician making a political statement,” another U.S. official said.

Netanyahu’s decision to issue the promise showed, however, that he had little reason to fear any pushback from the Trump administration, which has hewed to a heavily pro-Israel policy and backed him at almost every turn since Trump took office in 2017.

Breadbasket, border

Some 53,000 Palestinians and around 12,800 Israeli settlers live in the Jordan Valley, according to monitor Peace Now. The main Palestinian city in the region is Jericho, with around 28 villages and smaller Bedouin communities.

Palestinian girls play outside their family tent in the Bedouin village of Al-Maleh in the Jordan Valley in the West Bank, March 16, 2019.
Palestinian girls play outside their family tent in the Bedouin village of Al-Maleh in the Jordan Valley in the West Bank, March 16, 2019.\ RANEEN SAWAFTA/ REUTERS

Palestinians often refer to the Jordan Valley as their “breadbasket.” In his speech on Tuesday, Netanyahu described it as Israel’s eastern border with Jordan.

“Even Netanyahu’s main rivals believe that any Palestinian entity that is established in the West Bank should be completely encircled by Israel, having no border with Jordan,” said Nathan Thrall, an International Crisis Group analyst.

“The annexation plan shouldn’t be dismissed as election bluster. If reelected, Netanyahu will be under tremendous pressure to implement it.”

The valley, which at 2,400 square kilometers (926 square miles) accounts for nearly 30 percent of the West Bank, has dozens of Palestinian farms as well as open areas that the Palestinian Authority has sought to develop for solar energy projects and industrial zones.

There are some 30 mainly agricultural settlements in the area, along with 18 smaller Israeli outposts, Peace Now says.

“It’s impossible to have a Palestinian state without the Jordan Valley,” chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told Reuters in an interview from his office in Jericho.

“My prosperity can come (only) if I can control my natural resources, my shores on the Dead Sea, my shores on the Mediterranean, my water, my land.”

A Palestinian man waters goats and sheep in the Jordan Valley, West Bank, August 21, 2019.
A Palestinian man waters goats and sheep in the Jordan Valley, West Bank, August 21, 2019.\ MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/ REUTERS

Erekat said the Palestinians would welcome “a third party presence” such as NATO or the European Union but said: “An Israeli military or civilian presence in the state of Palestine is not okay. Because this will not make peace.”

Israeli leaders have ruled out such a foreign peacekeeper force, citing the failure of a similar proposal for Gaza after Israel quit that territory in 2005.

“We did not get an era of peace. We got three wars. We’re not going to allow that to happen to our east,” said Dore Gold, a Netanyahu confidant who runs the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs think-tank.

Political gambit

The last round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks broke down in 2014.

The Trump administration is expected to release its long-delayed peace plan after Israel’s election, and it is still unclear if the proposal will adhere to previous U.S. support for the creation of a Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel.

That rollout is unlikely to be affected even if Netanyahu goes ahead with the Jordan Valley annexation plan after the election, a U.S. official said.

Palestinians have boycotted the Trump administration, accusing it of pro-Israel bias.

A far-right coalition partner of Netanyahu hinted at doubt about the premier’s sincerity, saying there had been no movement on the Jordan Valley question during his decade in power. “How come this matter (annexation) is coming up now, a week before the election?” Bezalel Smotrich told Israel’s Army Radio.

Netanyahu also reaffirmed a pledge to annex all of the settlements Israel has established in the West Bank. But he said that broader steps could take longer and require “maximum coordination” with Washington.

Netanyahu is fighting for his political life after an inconclusive election in April. His right-wing Likud party is running neck and neck in opinion polls with former Israel Defense Forces chief Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Palestinians Vow to ‘Hold on to Our Land’ in Wake of Netanyahu Annexation Pledge

Zionist propaganda: ‘Iran’s Khamenei approved Saudi strike’

WASHINGTON: Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei approved last weekend’s attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure, CBS News reported Wednesday, citing an unnamed US official.

The report came after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, flying to the kingdom, called Saturday’s strikes which knocked out half of Saudi crude output an “act of war.”

CBS, without giving specifics about the US official or how they obtained the information, said Khamenei approved the attack only on condition that it be carried out in a way to deny Iranian involvement.

US officials quoted said the the most damning evidence against Iran is unreleased satellite photos showing Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps making preparations for the attack at Iran’s Ahvaz air base.

The significance of those photos only became clear later, the report said.

“We were caught completely off guard,” the network quoted a US official as saying.

Iranian state media said Tehran had written to Washington through the Swiss embassy Monday, denying any role in the attacks and warning it would respond to any action against it.

Tehran-supported Houthi rebels in the kingdom’s southern neighbor Yemen have claimed responsibility, but both Washington and Riyadh have ruled that out.

A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, earlier told AFP the US administration has concluded the attack involved cruise missiles from Iran, and said evidence would be presented at the UN General Assembly next week.

Vice President Mike Pence reiterated President Donald Trump’s comments that “we don’t want war with anybody, but the United States is prepared.”

Trump last year pulled out of a hard-won deal between Tehran and international powers that froze Iran’s nuclear program in return for the lifting of sanctions.

Washington reimposed crippling economic penalties, including against Iran’s vital oil sector, and Tehran began taking steps back from the deal.

Posted in Iran, Saudi ArabiaComments Off on Zionist propaganda: ‘Iran’s Khamenei approved Saudi strike’


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