Archive | October 20th, 2014

Plan to Merge Russia with the West. Former Oil Tycoon Launches “Pro-European” Political Movement in Russia

Global Research

September the 20th marked the launch of Open Russia, a pro-European political movement spearheaded by former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Russia’s former wealthiest man was released from prison in December 2013 due to a pardon by Vladimir Putin, after serving close to 10 years in jail following his conviction in 2005.

Although officially convicted of tax evasion and embezzlement, it seems that Khodorkovsky was singled out among the Russian oligarchs due to him using his mass fortune to interfere in domestic Russian politics, in an attempt to overthrow Putin for the benefit of the Western elite. Open Russia is the rebirth of the Open Russia Foundation, which was launched in 2001 by Khodorkovsky to foster animosity in Russia but was later shut down after the tycoon was behind bars. The board of the Open Russia Foundation included two Anglo-American titans, namely Henry Kissinger and Lord Jacob Rothschild, revealing the mindset and intentions of the individuals who steered the foundation.

Khodorkovsky profited immensely from the mass privatisation of state assets following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990’s, at a time when corruption and back-door deals was the norm in Russia. He was the Chairman and CEO of the Russian based ‘Yakos Oil Company’ from 1997 to 2004, where he acquired an immense fortune leading him to be named the 16th wealthiest person on earth by Forbes magazine in 2004, worth a staggering $15 billion.

Immediately after his release from prison at the end of 2013, Khodorkovsky declared on numerous occasions that he had no desire to enter politics. Yet only months after his initial statements he has launched a pro-European political movement within Russia, openly called for the overthrow of Putin in Moscow, announced he would be interested in leading Russia as President in the coming years, as well as asserting that Ukraine is the “model” for Russia to follow in the future.

“I feel it imperative that the section of the population that is Europe-centered would have the opportunity to impact the way the country develops…. Without a doubt, Putin’s leaving is one of the necessary elements of Russia being able to take a European path of development…. It’s clear that Ukraine is that model that Russia is ready to accept and it’s precisely for this reason that Putin was so not interested in seeing the success of that revolution”, Khodorkovsky told the Daily Beast in an interview earlier this month.

Khodorkovsky recently demonstrated that he still has very close links with the Anglo-American Establishment after speaking at the most distinguished think tank in America, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). He also delivered a speech at Freedom House, an organisation that has been involved in the majority of Western orchestrated colour revolutions that have erupted across the planet over the past two decades.

A Plan to Merge Russia with the West

The long term geopolitical strategy of the Western elite is to destroy Russia’s nationalist tendencies in a bid to eventually incorporate a more European minded Russia into Europe and a wider Western community. Former U.S. National Security Advisor to Jimmy Carter and key advisor to Barack Obama on foreign policy strategy, Zbigniew Brzezinski, has repeatedly stated his desire to bring Russia into the West. In his 2012 book ‘Strategic Vision’, CFR member Brzezinski reveals that the objective of the U.S. is to “connect” Russia with the West through institutions “like the EU and NATO”:

“In essence, the pursuit of the foregoing objective will require U.S. engagement in shaping a more vital and larger West while helping to balance the emerging rivalry in the rising and restless East. This complex undertaking will call for a sustained effort over the next several decades to connect, in transformative ways, through institutions like the EU and NATO, both Russia and Turkey with a West that already embraces both the EU and the United States.” (Brzezinski, 2012, p.131)

A Russia with a nationalist, pro-sovereignty leader at the helm though, obstructs this agenda to merge East with West, explaining why Russia and Putin have come under unprecedented assault by the U.S. and EU over the past year. Sanctions have been imposed on Russia through no fault of the government in Moscow. The West created the problem in Ukraine by instigating a colour revolution that disposed of the democratic elected government and destabilised the country. They then supported their political prostitutes and an assortment of neo-Nazi thugs who proceeded to wage a war in the East of the country, which has claimed the lives of “at least 3,660 people” and has displaced close to 400,000 Ukrainian’s, according to a recent United Nations (U.N.) report. But in the Orwellian world of today where the truth is inverted, the Russian government has been demonised and punished for a crisis that they did not create or exacerbate.

Despite London and Washington’s repeated attempts to overthrow the government in Moscow however, Putin remains in power.  Russia is a much stronger and more powerful country than other nations which have been toppled and absorbed into the Anglo-American-European sphere of influence. Staging a successful political revolution in Russia may prove too great a challenge for the Western elite in the years to come….

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US State Department Regulations Against Free Speech to “Shape and Sustain a… Democratic World”

Global Research
thought police

The State Department says I shouldn’t write this article. They have regulations that tell former employees like me what we should and should not say, and that’s wrong in America.

As some readers may know, I am former employee of the Department of State, and after publishing a book critical of State’s efforts in the previous Iraq War, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People (American Empire Project) I was subjected to a year of leg albattles, including threat of prosecution.

But standing up for your rights is a part of having those rights. A free society is based on a marketplace of ideas, that free speech thing we all learned about in civics class. We all need to hear from all sides to become the “informed citizenry” that Thomas Jefferson said was so essential to a democracy. And who better to enlighten the public about how their government really works than former federal employees, the people who were on the inside, now private citizens?

It would be wrong then for a former employer, as codified into its agency regulations, to expect its retirees to “refrain from engaging in activities of any kind, including writing manuscripts or giving speeches, which would be prejudicial to the foreign policy interests of the United States.” But that is exactly what the U.S. Department of State does.

They even wrote it down, stating:

Former employees are expected to refrain from engaging in activities of any kind, including writing manuscripts or giving speeches, which would be prejudicial to the foreign policy interests of the United States.

Former employees are encouraged to make public appearances and write manuscripts for unofficial publication which constructively contribute to the interests and objectives of the Department of State and the Government.

So let’s get this straight. Private citizens, who happened to once work for the State Department in some capacity, perhaps not even one directly connected to policy issues, are expected to not say anything in a public forum against the interests of the United States? And they are encouraged to say things that contribute to the objectives of the Department of State?

Though this all smacks of some sort of Orwellian attempt to coerce, er, expect, a class of private citizens to propagandize, um, engage in activities, that use their authority and reputation as former State Department employee to promote only the side of a discussion that supports the government’s position, I’ll play along. I have to right, as a Good Citizen?

But I think the problem will be in how the State Department and I might differ on just what the “interests and objectives of the Department of State and the Government” are that I am told because I once worked there I must support.

But let’s start with something we can agree on. The State Department’s Mission Statement says in part that the agency should seek to “Shape and sustain a… democratic world.” I agree. But I disagree that admonishments to spew the government line as a private citizen, as State wants, contribute to that goal. Instead, I believe that exercising my First Amendment rights as a private citizen contribute much to democracy. Bleating out the party line is for countries ruled by parties. Did you know that North Korea’s interests and objectives include claiming Kim Il Sung invented the television? I guess their former employees are encouraged and expected to write nice things in comments on YouTube and stuff.

Welcome to another episode of Post-Constitutional America, where the old rules do not apply. See something, say something, unless you used to work for the State Department and what you say does not agree with the government’s version of things.

But oh! Some feel that is too much, too dramatic. Fair enough. The whole problem is not that State can ever enforce these rules– they can’t– it is that they exist as a testament to how they think. It’s that whole idea of “loyalty” above all else, and of course the hypocrisy of saying how important dissent is while trying very hard to stifle it. At the end of the day such things erode employees. So many just kind of give up and stop caring too much about what they do and just glide through the motions.

BONUS: The same section of regulation quoted above also says “The State Department will be glad to furnish, upon request, advice, assistance, and copies of printed publications to former employees who wish to obtain information on particular subjects.” Or not. I have asked State for comment and “advice” on these regulations and have not received any response.

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Leaked Documents Expose Secret Contracts Between NSA and Tech Companies

Global Research

Internal National Security Agency documents published by the Intercept earlier this month provide powerful evidence of active collaboration by the large technology corporations with the US government’s worldwide surveillance operations. The documents give a glimpse of efforts by the American state—the scale and complexity of which are astonishing—to penetrate, surveil and manipulate information systems around the world.

Reportedly leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden, the documents catalogue a dizzying array of clandestine intelligence and surveillance operations run by the NSA, CIA and other US and allied security bureaucracies, including infiltration of undercover agents into corporate entities, offensive cyber-warfare and computer network exploitation (CNE), theoretical and practical aspects of encryption cracking, and supply chain interdiction operations that “focus on modifying equipment in a target’s supply chain.”

The trove of documents, made available in their original forms by the Intercept , are largely comprised of classification rubrics that organize NSA secrets according to a color-coded scale ranging from green (lowest priority secrets), through blue and red, to black (highest priority secrets).

The secret facts organized in the leaked classification guides supply overwhelming evidence that the NSA and Central Security Service (a 25,000-strong agency founded in 1972 as a permanent liaison between the NSA and US military intelligence) rely on cooperative and in some cases contractual relations with US firms to facilitate their global wiretapping and data stockpiling activities.

Blue level facts listed in the documents include:

* “Fact that NSA/CSS works with US industry in the conduct of its cryptologic missions”

* “Fact that NSA/CSS works with US industry as technical advisors regarding cryptologic products”

Red level facts include:

* “Fact that NSA/CSS conducts SIGINT enabling programs and related operations with US industry”

* “Fact that NSA/CSS have FISA operations with US commercial industry elements”

Black level facts include:

* “Fact that NSA/CSS works with and has contractual relationships with specific named US commercial entities to conduct SIGINT [signals intelligence] enabling programs and operations”

* “Fact that NSA/CSS works with specific named US commercial entities to make them exploitable for SIGINT”

* “Facts related to NSA personnel (under cover), operational meetings, specific operations, specific technology, specific locations and covert communications related to SIGINT enabling with specific commercial entities”

* “Facts related to NSA/CSS working with US commercial entities on the acquisition of communications (content and metadata) provided by the US service provider to worldwide customers; communications transiting the US; or access to international communications mediums provided by the US entity”

* “Fact that NSA/CSS injects ‘implants’ into the hardware and software of US companies to enable data siphoning”

Particularly damning are facts reported by a leaked classification schema detailing operation “Exceptionally Controlled Information (ECI) WHIPGENIE,” described in the document’s introduction as covering NSA “Special Source Operations relationships with US Corporate Partners.”

According to the ECI WHIPGENIE document, unnamed “corporate partners” facilitate NSA mass surveillance as part of undisclosed “contractual relations,” through which “NSA and Corporate Partners are involved in SIGINT ‘cooperative efforts.”’

Among the classified TOP SECRET items listed in the ECI WHIPGENIE document is the fact that “NSA and an unnamed Corporate Partner are involved in a ‘cooperative effort’ against cable collection, including domestic wire access collection.”

As part of WHIPGENIE, the document further states, the FBI facilitates NSA partnerships with industry that are both “compelled and cooperative” in nature. In other words, the NSA carries out domestic wiretapping and “cable collection” operations with the cooperation of at least one US corporation.

These revelations are especially significant in light of persistent claims by the major tech and communications corporations that their involvement in the surveillance operations is strictly involuntary in nature.

Last year, a leaked NSA PowerPoint presentation titled “Corporate Partner Access” showed that the volume of data transferred to the agency by Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft during a single 5-week period was sufficient to generate more than 2,000 intelligence reports. The companies all defended their actions by claiming they were forced to furnish data by the government.

Other documents contained in the trove detail the NSA’s development of sophisticated offensive cyber-warfare capabilities targeting the information systems of foreign corporations and governments. These programs highlight the threat of outbreaks of electronic warfare between competing capitalist elites, which could provide the spark for full-fledged shooting wars.

One document, titled “Computer Network Exploitation Classification Guide,” states that NSA, CSS and the NSA’s in-house hacker unit, the so-called Tailored Access Operations (TAO), engage in “remote subversion” as well as “off-net field operations to develop, deploy, exploit or maintain intrusive access.”

Another classification guide, titled “NSA / CSS Target Exploitation Program,” covers target exploitation operations (TAREX), which are said to “provide unique collection of telecommunication and cryptologic-related information and material in direct support of NSA / CSS.”

TAREX also involves “physical subversion,” “close access-enabling exploitation,” and “supply chain enabling,” the document shows, through which the surveillance agencies intervene directly to modify and sabotage the information systems of rival states.

TAREX operations are supported by outposts located in Beijing, China, South Korea, Germany, Washington DC, Hawaii, Texas and Georgia, and TAREX personnel are “integrated into the HUMINT [human intelligence] operations at CIA, DIA/DoD, and/or FBI,” according to the document.

On top of the electronic surveillance, infiltration and cyber-warfare operations themselves, the intelligence establishment has launched a slate of secondary operations designed to protect the secrecy of its various initiatives, as shown in another leaked document, titled “Exceptionally Controlled Information Listing.”

These include:

* AMBULANT, APERIODIC, AUNTIE—“Protect information related to sensitive SIGINT Enabling relationships”

* BOXWOOD—“Protects a sensitive sole source of lucrative communications intelligence emanating from a target”

* CHILLY—“Protects details of NSA association with and active participation in planning and execution of sensitive Integrated Joint Special Technical Operations (IJSTO) offensive Information Warfare strategies”

* EVADEYIELD—“Protects NSA’s capability to exploit voice or telephonic conversations from an extremely sensitive source”

* FORBIDDEN—“Protects information pertaining to joint operations conducted by NSA, GCHQ, CSE, CIA, and FBI against foreign intelligence agents”

* FORBORNE—“Protects the fact that the National Security Agency, GCHQ, and CSE can exploit ciphers used by hostile intelligence services”

* OPALESCE —“Protects Close Access SIGINT collection operations, which require a specialized sensor, positioned in close physical proximity to the target or facility”

* PENDLETON—“Protects NSA’s investment in manpower and resources to acquire our current bottom line capabilities to exploit SIGINT targets by attacking public key cryptography as well as investment in technology”

* PIEDMONT—“Provides protection to NSA’s bottom line capabilities to exploit SIGINT targets by attacking the hard mathematical problems underlying public key cryptography as well as any future technologies as may be developed”

* And others…

The number and character of the NSA’s “protection” programs gives an indication of the scope of its activities.

The latest round of leaked NSA documents underscores the absurdity of proposals aimed at “reforming” and “reigning in” the mass surveillance programs, which, propelled by the explosive growth of social inequality and the rise of a criminal financial oligarchy, have enjoyed a tropical flourishing since the 1970s, acquiring an extravagant scale and diversity.

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Japan TV Anchor: I Couldn’t Tell the Truth About Fukushima

Global Research
Jun Hori former NHK anchor

Photo: Former NHK anchor Jun Hori. (TEDxKyoto/Flickr Creative Commons)

Nuclear Scientist: I have not trusted the information from beginning… “The worst scenario I predicted has happened” 

PRI’s ‘The World’, Oct 17, 2014:  Japan’s timid coverage of Fukushima led this news anchor to revolt — and he’s not alone — No one is telling [evacuee] Shiga Kamematsu the truth

  • Complaints about censorship… continue to this day… Evacuees don’t trust the gov’t or Tepco… they’re blaming the media for not holding them both accountable… Criticism goes beyond a lack of investigation. Journalist Jun Hori says his news agency prevented him from accurately reporting what happened… It restricted what he and other journalists could say about Fukushima [like] how much radiation was spreading.
  • Jun Hori. NHK news anchor: “I couldn’t tell the true story on my news program… It was very frustrating… A lot of people kept asking me, ‘Why didn’t you tell us earlier about what is happening?’… My superiors said NHK was getting complaints from politicians…They told me I had to stop… The Japanese thought someone was [giving them accurate information] — companies, the government, someone. But once you peeled back the cover, you saw that nobody was doing it.”

Jun Hori at TEDx Kyoto: ‘Do not create panic, do not fuel public anxiety, do not impair national interests, do not compromise the interests of our sponsors’… There is a plethora of information available on the web, one cannot learn the truth from watching TV or reading newspapers… Drastic changes need to be made… A man [wanted] to see what is really going on in the nuclear plants… The recordings he sent us a few months later were shocking and overwhelming.

Asahi Reporter: “Tepco declined…  access of the complete recordings… Footage has not yet been released… There are much more shocking parts… Workers have been told… they’d receive 100 millisieverts [a day] of radiation exposure.

Dr. Uzi Even, nuclear scientist: “I do not trust the reporting system… In fact from the beginning of this crisis… Japanese authorities were trying to play down the danger… The worst scenario that I predicted happened… I claimed from the beginning that the information given to the public is either erroneous or misleading… The first few days they said, ‘Everything is under control, nothing will happen, you don’t have to be worried.’ I doubted it from the moment of the earthquake.”

Watch the interview here

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Police State USA: Feds Continue Orwellian Surveillance of Social Media

Global Research

Even amid the public outrage and pushback in the wake of whistleblower revelations about the global spy network, the establishment continues to push forward with justifications about why it is in our best interest to be under their constant watch. 

Social media is a playground for data harvesters of all stripes, but it is now apparent that it is becoming the single most pursued line of open surveillance.

I reported recently about Twitter’s ChatterGrabber program that is “used to monitor tickborne diseases, such as Lyme disease, public sentiment involving vaccines, and gun violence and terrorism, serving as an early warning system for public health officials through suspicious tweets or conversations.” That story was followed shortly after by the announcement that Twitter would open up its entire database to MIT beginning with its very first Tweet in 2006. We know that Facebook has used their algorithms to go beyond surveillance and actually manipulate the emotions of users as a type of psychology experiment. And the list goes on.

Now The Hill is reporting on a federal program that even has one member of the FCC saying that it “seems to have come straight out of a George Orwell novel.”

While some have defended new modes of biosurveillance and social media tracking to identify and counter heightened public health risks, no one except social engineers can tolerate the tracking of political speech – for the simple reason that it blankets both sides of the political spectrum, and everything in between. The above-mentioned MIT program using Twitter’s full database hinted at studying political language, but this new program leaves no doubt:

The “Truthy” study, which is funded by the National Science Foundation, is being developed by Indiana University researchers to study how popular ideas and jokes spread throughout popular culture. One focus is the spread of “political smears, astroturfing, misinformation, and other social pollution,” researchers said. (emphasis added) 

And a new term is born: social pollution . Not much of a stretch to see how this could merge with hate speech in the political arena and be used to silence legitimately dissenting voices.

The press release below frames the Indiana University study. It’s a shameful use of public data, university tools and taxpayer funds. Combined with corporate social media platforms, this is fascism at its finest.

My emphasis and parenthetical comments added.

  1. We study how individuals’ limited attention span affects what information we propagate and what social connections we make, and how the structure of social networks can help predict which memes are likely to become viral.
  2. We explore social science questions via social media data analytics. Examples of research to date include analyses of geographic and temporal patterns in movements like Occupy Wall Street, societal unrest in Turkey, polarization and cross-ideological communication in online political discourse, partisan asymmetries in online political engagement, the use of social media data to predict election outcomes and forecast key market indicators, and the geographic diffusion of trending topics.
  3. Truthy is an ensemble of web services and tools to demonstrate applications of our data mining research, from visualizing meme diffusion patterns to detecting social bots on Twitter.

The current focus of the project follows three directions:

  1. Modeling efforts to better understand how information spreads, why some memes go viral,competition for attention, the role of sentiment on the diffusion process, the mutual interaction between traffic on the network and the emergent structure of the network.
  2. Analyzing differences in meme diffusion patterns between different domains, such as news and scientific results, and the correlations between certain online behaviors and offline events.
  3. Expanding the platform to make the data derived from our analyses of meme diffusion and from our machine learning algorithms more easily accessible and thus more useful to social scientists, reporters, and the general public.

In an ironic turn of events, the project has itself become the target of a disinformation campaign online and on TV. Read our post: The Truth about Truthy.


Yes, real ironic. I encourage you to go ahead and read “The Truth about Truthy” linked above – If the program itself is Orwellian, the defense of it is doubly so.

If you’d like to contact Indiana University’s Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research to express your distaste for its cooperation with the surveillance-industrial complex, you can do so here:

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Cairo, Egypt, 12 October 2014 – Secretary-General’s remarks at the Cairo Conference on Palestine


I want to thank President al-Sisi for his initiative. This important event has helped lay the foundation for what we hope to be a durable ceasefire that must be further consolidated.

I also want to thank Foreign Minister Shoukri for his continuing leadership.

Foreign Minister Brende, thank you for your country’s leadership and commitment to lasting peace in the Middle East.

We are here to show our solidarity.

We are here to stand with the people of Gaza who have endured a terrible summer of suffering.

I want to convey my profound condolences to all those who tragically lost loved ones during the 51 days of conflict.

My thoughts are also with the many who were injured or made homeless.

It is in all their names that we must act.

In 2009, the international community gathered in Sharm el-Sheikh in the wake of another devastating war in Gaza.

We pledged our support.  We expressed our commitment.  We resolved to rebuild.

And yet here we are again.

The cycle of building and destroying has continued– only worse.

More than 2,100 Palestinians were killed in the most recent war, along with more than 70 Israelis.

Almost one-third of Gaza’s population was uprooted from their homes– with many no longer having homes to return to.

Entire neighborhoods were flattened.

Public infrastructure was demolished.

Blackouts continue up to 18 hours a day.  More than 450,000 people cannot access the municipal water supply network.

Dozens of schools, hospitals and clinics were destroyed or damaged.  UN facilities sheltering women and children were hit, resulting in many casualties.  Eleven staff members of the United Nations were killed in the course of the conflict.

Meanwhile rockets fired by Hamas and other armed groups from Gaza continued to be fired indiscriminately causing fear, panic and suffering.

And, of course, the war exacted a toll that may be harder to measure– but that is equally devastating.

Families on both sides – especially children – have suffered deep psychological trauma.

The children of Gaza who have not yet reached grade three have already lived through three wars.

The United Nations and international partners have worked hand-in-hand with the Palestinian Authority to address Gaza’s urgent priorities.

But the needs are massive and time is short.

To effectively respond, the humanitarian community in Palestine has worked with the Palestinian Government to develop the “Gaza Crisis Appeal”.

Our “UN Support Plan for the Transformation of the Gaza Strip” amounts to about $2.1 billion for early recovery, reconstruction, and other efforts.

These initiatives deserve the most generous support.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Ultimately, the successful reconstruction of Gaza requires a strong political foundation.

I am encouraged by the comprehensive reconciliation agreement reached in Cairo on 25 September. I urge all concerned to ensure that this time, deeds follow words.

The United Nations will continue to support the Government of National Consensus as it extends its functions and manages Gaza’s significant and urgent reconstruction needs.  It is essential that our support benefit both refugee and non-refugee populations.

I welcome the temporary tripartite agreement brokered by the United Nations to secure entry of reconstruction materials into Gaza.

I am encouraged by the recent historic Palestinian unity government meeting in Gaza led by Prime Minister Hamdallah.

My message to all sides is clear:

First, promote an environment conducive for peace, mutual understanding and respect for human rights. This must include an investigation into potential violations of international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict.

Second, make the most of the vital opportunity presented by the upcoming Cairo talks.

Third, strengthen the ceasefire which is crucial for the resumption of broader peace talks.

Fourth, refrain from unilateral actions which only exacerbate tensions and resentment.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Gaza remains a tinderbox.

The people desperately need to see results in their daily lives.  Today.  Now.

Leaders on both sides need to overcome their differences and demonstrate the courage and vision to end the conflict once and for all.

I welcome the inflow of funds, resources and staff into the beleaguered Gaza Strip to aid in its reconstruction.

Yet we must not lose sight of the root causes of the recent hostilities: a restrictive occupation that has lasted almost half a century, the continued denial of Palestinian rights and the lack of tangible progress in peace negotiations.

I call on all parties to come together to chart a clear course towards a just and final peace — including achieving a full lifting of the blockade, ensuring Israel’s legitimate security concerns; and establishing two States living side by side in peace and security.

Going back to the status quo is not an option; this is the moment for transformational change.

I urge you to give generously to allow this important work to go forward.

I do not want my successors or yours to make conferences such as this a ritual: building and destroying– and then expecting the international community to foot the bill.

The parties to the conflict must finally make the tough but necessary decisions to enable a brighter future.

Let us each do our part.

Let us commit to make this the most successful conference to rebuild Gaza.

And let it be the last.

Thank you.

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Note to Correspondents – Transcript of press conference by UN Special Envoy for Syria (SES) Staffan de Mistura


Geneva , 10 October 2014

SES:  Thank you.  Good afternoon to everyone.  Good to see you and my apologies for keeping you waiting a little bit today and previous days but I was looking for this opportunity to meet you.  At the same time, I was thinking it was going to be a normal opportunity but what happens regarding Syria, nothing is normal and therefore first things first and that’s why I am giving you just a short concept of what could be the mission which the Secretary-General has entrusted to me and then go straight to what is the current event which perhaps can put to a test what we are trying to do.

So the broad line and I am just being, because it was expected to be anyway a broad line, at the beginning: at this stage we are not obviously talking about Geneva III or any type of major political momentum.  What we are working on is listening, being in a listening mode, being in a position of understanding where is the current regional, global and national environment regarding possible political process, political process, if and when that can be started and facilitated by the UN. The second is to make sure that any type of action that the UN can be promoting or facilitating regarding the reduction of violence should be implemented and applied.

The next point is to make sure that whenever we can find any type of opportunity of reducing the suffering of the people and increasing their access on a humanitarian side, for the Syrian people have been suffering enough for the last three and a half years, we will try to do so.  And last but not least, any opportunity, any opportunity, which may be given by the international community or by the local or regional environment to initiate or facilitate a political process –  because as you all know, there is no military solution to this conflict – will be applied. I have been going to Damascus, I met President Assad, I have been talking to everyone I can in the region and I will continue doing so inside and outside Syria.  And that is basically the starting point of a minimalistic if you want, but concrete and realistic approach, what the UN can do at this stage. But I can tell you the Secretary-General was very clear with me. He said any opportunity we have to take it grab it in order to make sure that what is being perceived as an ever-ending conflict should be assisted to be ending and meanwhile anything we can do reduce the suffering should be applied. That leads me to the issue of the day.

Kobani –Ayn al-Arab- used to have 400,000 people. It has been under constant attack by ISIL -Da’esh- for the last three weeks. It has been an announced attack. It has been an attack which has been constant and not like in Mosul which had caught everyone by surprise.  Its inhabitants have decided to resist and they are resisting until now.  The latest figures we have is that about 10,000 to 13,000 of them are in a certain border line area just outside Kobani –Ayn al-Arab- between the border of Turkey and Syria, nearby the city.  They are there and there are at the same time about 500 to 700 mostly elderly people and civilians still inside the centre of the city.  The coalition, which has been created on the basis of resolution 2170, has been increasingly hitting positions in at least 20 and more locations and occasions in order to deter the constant well-organized attack by ISIL. But they themselves recently have admitted that this may not be enough to save the city.  The Turkish authorities have met with generosity and efficiency more than 200,000 people, refugees, into camps inside Turkey.

But all this may not be enough in order to avert a clear humanitarian tragedy or catastrophe. We know, we have seen it, what ISIL is capable of doing when they take over a city.  We know what they are capable of doing with their own victims, with women, children, minorities and hostages.  After Mosul this time, it is announced and one reason more for actually looking at it in a different way.   If Kobani –Ayn al-Arab- falls and this could happen , I will show you a map and here it is.  You can see the areas which are…this is based purely on our own analysis . It is not an official, a military analysis, it is the UN analysis.  But based on what we are getting from our own reports, the areas which are circled are the areas which have been hit through the coalition airforce attacks in order to reduce the pressure on the city.  The green area, what you see here, is what is currently still the perimeter of the city. But what you should be particularly looking at it is this.  This is the last entry point or exit point, which you have for the city. And if you look at where the coalition has been hitting, you can see that since they have been trying to hit where ISIL is present, the city is literally surrounded except for this.  If this falls, the 700  – plus perhaps if they move a little bit further – the 12,000 people civilians apart from the fighters will be most likely massacred.

You remember Srebrenica? We do. We never forgot.  And probably we never forgave ourselves for that.  I was in the area. I was not in Srebrenica but I belonged to the generation of UN secretariat staff who felt terrible when they realized they were focussing on Dubrovnik, on Sarajevo and Srebrenica fell. You remember Vukovar, you remember Rwanda. We have been telling ourselves, based on the principles that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been more and more emphasizing, i.e. Human Rights Up Front, that when there is an  imminent threat to civilians we cannot, we should not be silent.  There is a lot of political reasons, strategic reasons, that may indicate that it is difficult to do something about it. But the Secretary-General has clearly made a statement saying anyone who can do anything should be. Please take action to protect the civilians, in this case of Kobani –Ayn al-Arab. Do we have an internationalscenario to justify any type of action? Well resolution 2170 speaks very clearly.  Everyone who can should be doing what he can in order to control and hopefully stop this atrocious terrorist movement, especially when they are clearly indicating where they are going. There is humanitarian law. There is Srebrenica. There are the images that we don’t what to see, we cannot see, and I hope  you will not be seeing of people beheaded, of the defenders and civilians. This should in theory produce enough traction.

So the question is : what can be done?  Well while respecting obviously, and the UN cannot say otherwise, the broad parameters of international law and integrity and  sovereignty of Syria, because this is Syrian territory and the Syrian Government has actually come up publically and said that they too support the Kobani citizens and would like them to be not under the terror and horror of ISIL. We would like to appeal to the Turkish authorities in order to allow the flow of volunteers at least and their own equipment in order to be able to enter the city and contribute to a self-defence operation. And if they can, to support the deterrent actions of the collation through whatever means from their own territory.  I know that Turkey has been going through very difficult times. It is a great country which has gone through enormous pressure because of the Syrian crisis. They have been extremely generous and active.  1.6 million people are every day being taken care of by them. And they are under enormous pressure due to the fact that all this is affecting them. And I understand and we heard they have important preconditions which need to be analysed not only by everyone but also in the international context and probably are being analysed and may require discussions in international fora. But this may require time and Kobani, in our own opinion, does not have enough time.

The request by the Secretary-General to all those who can do something to protect the civilians is still there. Hence our appeal to Turkey to take some specific additional actions to stop the advance of ISIL. We need that because otherwise all of us, including Turkey, will be regretting deeply that we have missed an opportunity of stopping ISIL and sending a signal that that cannot continue. If Kobani – Ayn al-Arab- falls, there will be  close to 400 km of the Turkish border to be basically under control of ISIL out of the 900. And what would be next ?  Other villages? Even Aleppo ? Apart from political considerations, that are there, and strategic considerations, our appeal is based on the principle that the UN will not after Srebrenica ever give up on which is Human Rights Up Front. Thank you.

Q.: You are asking for more concrete action from Turkey. So what you are saying here, you basically want to ask Turkey to let the fighters go in, the Kurds going to fight. You know there are hundreds or, not, thousands of them waiting; they closed the border crossing and what you are saying, your message to Turkey is “Let them go in”: is that correct? But they don’t only need men, they also want weapons. So are you saying also, do you also think that Turkey should arm them, should arm the Kurds? Should they go in with the ground troops, something they said no to yesterday? What are you concretely asking from Turkey?

SES:  I just said I think, but I will repeat it, perhaps. First of all, Turkey is a sovereign great country and whatever decision, should be theirs. That’s why I am not requesting, I am appealing on behalf of the UN secretariat. But it is a serious appeal based on serious concerns.  What they can do it’s up to them. What could be taking place without going into too much of an international complicated environment – which may be pursued but needs international time and fora, since Kobani is likely to fall if this is left unattended – is to allow at least those who want to go and do self-defence, which is an international human rights right, to do so with sufficient equipment to be able to fight and defend Kobani – Ayn al-Arab from  ISIS.

Q:  So that means also arming them?

SES:  I said what I said. Equipment can be many things.

Q:  I think your demand from Turkey is not fair. Why? Because there are two conflicting parts in Kobani.  One is IS, one is the PKK, a brand of terrorist group still fighting inside Turkey and still fighting in Iraq.  So we cannot say the fighters in Kobani are civilians. So there are two terrorist groups there.  So if Turkey let the militants of the PKK inside Syria, it’s kind of supporting terrorism. So I am coming to question.  At first, it’s not fair.  So Turkey is fighting against terrorism and you are saying here that “You should let them, the terrorists or militants in Turkey to enter Syria”, so it’s not fair. Then I am coming to my question. Will you think or decide to take the question to the General Assembly or will you take more countries to take part in that fighting against IS?

SES:  I appreciate your comments.  Fairness, unfairness are many ways to look at it and I have been looking at it, on behalf of the Secretariat , on the concept of human rights.  Of course the whole situation – otherwise probably it would have been solved earlier – is very complicated and we are, I am particularly aware of the complicated decisions that Turkey is going through and has been going through. That’s why it is an appeal to them. But if we look at fairness, the most unfair thing would be if 500 or 700 civilians (military or fighters is one thing; and they are also human beings)  but then, and the 10000 who are just on the edges would be massacred, as people were in Mosul and in other places. That would be the ultimate unfairness. Regarding Security Council or General Assembly  – I see more Security Council – it is up to the Security Council.  As it is up to the government of Turkey, sovereign country for which I personally,  and the UN and the Secretary General have the highest respect, it’s up to them to decide what to do to. But it’s up to us to make a very specific appeal.  Thank you.

Q:  Sir, if you permit me, I’d like just to understand what is the relationship between what it’s going on in Syria now by ISIS and the political process to have peace in the country between the government and the opposition.   My second small question: when we talk about a political process in Syria, is our basis still the Geneva communiqué or the presence of ISIS in Syria and what’s going on will chance this basis? Thank you.

SES:  It is a little bit premature for me at this stage – I have been in this job for the last three weeks – to elaborate about details on what type or format or framework may or could take place in terms of a political process.  What I can say – and that facts on the ground and political facts have taken place after the Geneva conference.  There has been a presidential election in Syria; there has been an ISIS taking suddenly the scenario of the preoccupation of everyone .  There have been changes in terms of also the way the regional partners and countries have been obliged, like all of us, to look at Syria and Iraq in the context put forward by the new threat of ISIS.  All that needs to be compounded, otherwise we would be unrealistic . That doesn’t mean that Geneva I, which was a successful event and produced a very unified position, cannot be the basis or the framework for further refinement, depending on what would be the reality at the time when we will be finally meeting in Geneva or elsewhere , Insha’Allah when things will be clearer rather than when they are just purely hypothetical.

Q: You talked about taking whatever measure could be taken to reduce the conflict. Short of a major international peace process do you see specific opportunities emerging now as a result of your discussions with President Assad for perhaps promoting localized ceasefires and ending some of the sieges?

SES: The short answer is yes. The long answer which is yes, because what ISIS has produced, as any crisis, can be and should be used also as an opportunity, is producing certainly a major concern by everyone -including by President Assad -about this new factor and the factor of the response to ISIS.  And that all may, and I hope we would be able to facilitate that, increase the possibility of local ceasefires and decentralized ceasefires.  But we will cross that bridge… But certainly there is a window that we should not be missing. Thank you.

Q:  I am just trying to digest your statement. You started off by saying there is no military solution but you appear not to be sticking with the Geneva communiqué possibly. At the same time you are advocating war against ISIS. Have you stopped being the person trying to fix Syria back together and become the coordinator of this self-defence or this attack on ISIS? You know, I don’t really understand, you seem to be advocating a military solution while saying that you are not. Can you try to square the circle?

SES : I will try. And in order to try, you should also try to put yourself in what is a UN person and principles related to a crisis. There is only a political process for a political final solution for Syria. Obviously no one will win, no one seems to be winning this conflict and it is unlikely to happen. And we put that aside. Then, when there is a humanitarian tragedy or there is a major threat, in fact announced and clearly wanted and proven to be taking place like we have seen through ISIL, it is the duty for everyone to stimulate the possibility for these people to survive. Is that done by force, by self-defence, by any type of national or international intervention ? I just bring you back to Srebrenica. So I don’t see a contradiction in that because when you look at the imminent danger, it’s not through UN resolutions that ISIL will stop attacking Kobani.

Q: Can I just follow up briefly? Would you talk to ISIL if they wanted to talk? Obviously now they are beheading people so it may not be the best time, but are you prepared to talk to them ? Do you think that is a necessary part of the solution?

SES: The UN and myself, in many capacities as Special Envoy of the Secretary-General in very difficult places with very complicated interlocutors, has always been authorized and expected to talk to anyone if that produces some benefit either to a political solution or a humanitarian relief. I cannot list to you how many people who my mother would not be delighted to know I shook hands with I have been doing it over the past 42 years. But that is exactly what the UN is supposed to do. But I am not proposing, I am not planning and they are not asking for meeting any one of us.

Q: Could I just come back on the earlier point? You say there is a window of opportunity. Are there specific proposals regarding specific locations on the table under active discussion where we should look for some kind of movement in the very short term?

SES: I am not in a position of elaborating on that. We are working. Thank you.

Q: What do you expect concretely from the government of Bashar Al-Assad in this precise case of Kobani?

SES : It is the territory of Syria, Kobani – Ayn Al Arab- But apparently from what you can see on the ground, if ISIL was free to do what they have done, it means that the government of Syria has not been able to control or to be present in that area… In that case, I cannot expect what they cannot do because they are not there. Thank you.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Note to Correspondents – Transcript of press conference by UN Special Envoy for Syria (SES) Staffan de Mistura


Featured photo - What ‘Democracy’ Really Means in U.S. and New York Times Jargon: Latin America Edition

Dean Mouhtaropoulos

One of the most accidentally revealing media accounts highlighting the real meaning of “democracy” in U.S. discourse is a still-remarkable 2002 New York Times Editorial on the U.S.-backed military coup in Venezuela, which temporarily removed that country’s democratically elected (and very popular) president, Hugo Chávez. Rather than describe that coup as what it was by definition – a direct attack on democracy by a foreign power and domestic military which disliked the popularly elected president – the Times, in the most Orwellian fashion imaginable, literally celebrated the coup as a victory for democracy:

With yesterday’s resignation of President Hugo Chávez, Venezuelan democracy is no longer threatened by a would-be dictator. Mr. Chávez, a ruinous demagogue, stepped down after the military intervened and handed power to a respected business leader, Pedro Carmona.

Thankfully, said the NYT, democracy in Venezuela was no longer in danger . . . because the democratically-elected leader was forcibly removed by the military and replaced by an unelected, pro-U.S. “business leader.” The Champions of Democracy at the NYT then demanded a ruler more to their liking: “Venezuela urgently needs a leader with a strong democratic mandate to clean up the mess, encourage entrepreneurial freedom and slim down and professionalize the bureaucracy.”

More amazingly still, the Times editors told their readers that Chávez’s “removal was a purely Venezuelan affair,” even though it was quickly and predictably revealed that neocon officials in the Bush administration played a central role. Eleven years later, upon Chávez’s death, the Times editors admitted that “the Bush administration badly damaged Washington’s reputation throughout Latin America when it unwisely blessed a failed 2002 military coup attempt against Mr. Chávez” [the paper forgot to mention that it, too, blessed (and misled its readers about) that coup]. The editors then also acknowledged the rather significant facts that Chávez’s “redistributionist policies brought better living conditions to millions of poor Venezuelans” and “there is no denying his popularity among Venezuela’s impoverished majority.”

If you think The New York Times editorial page has learned any lessons from that debacle, you’d be mistaken. Today they published an editorialexpressing grave concern about the state of democracy in Latin America generally and Bolivia specifically. The proximate cause of this concern? The overwhelming election victory of Bolivian President Evo Morales (pictured above), who, as The Guardian put it, “is widely popular at home for a pragmatic economic stewardship that spread Bolivia’s natural gas and mineral wealth among the masses.”

The Times editors nonetheless see Morales’ election to a third term not as a vindication of democracy but as a threat to it, linking his election victory to the way in which “the strength of democratic values in the region has been undermined in past years by coups and electoral irregularities.” Even as they admit that “it is easy to see why many Bolivians would want to see Mr. Morales, the country’s first president with indigenous roots, remain at the helm” – because “during his tenure, the economy of the country, one of the least developed in the hemisphere, grew at a healthy rate, the level of inequality shrank and the number of people living in poverty dropped significantly” – they nonetheless chide Bolivia’s neighbors for endorsing his ongoing rule: “it is troubling that the stronger democracies in Latin America seem happy to condone it.”

The Editors depict their concern as grounded in the lengthy tenure of Morales as well as the democratically elected leaders of Ecuador and Venezuela: “perhaps the most disquieting trend is that protégés of Mr. Chávez seem inclined to emulate his reluctance to cede power.” But the real reason the NYT so vehemently dislikes these elected leaders and ironically views them as threats to “democracy” becomes crystal clear toward the end of the editorial (emphasis added):

This regional dynamic has been dismal for Washington’s influence in the region. In Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, the new generation of caudillos [sic] have staked out anti-American policies and limited the scope of engagement on developmentmilitary cooperation and drug enforcement efforts. This has damaged the prospects for trade and security cooperation.

You can’t get much more blatant than that. The democratically elected leaders of these sovereign countries fail to submit to U.S. dictates, impede American imperialism, and subvert U.S. industry’s neoliberal designs on the region’s resources. Therefore, despite how popular they are with their own citizens and how much they’ve improved the lives of millions of their nations’ long-oppressed and impoverished minorities, they are depicted as grave threats to “democracy.”

It is, of course, true that democratically elected leaders are capable of authoritarian measures. It is, for instance, democratically elected U.S. leaders who imprison people without charges for years, build secret domestic spying systems, and even assert the power to assassinate their own citizens without due process. Elections are no guarantee against tyranny. There are legitimate criticisms to be made of each of these leaders with regard to domestic measures and civic freedoms, as there is for virtually every government on the planet.

But the very idea that the U.S. government and its media allies are motivated by those flaws is nothing short of laughable. Many of the U.S. government’s closest allies are the world’s worst regimes, beginning with the uniquely oppressive Saudi kingdom (which just yesterday sentenced a popular Shiite dissident to death) and the brutal military coup regime in Egypt, which, as my colleague Murtaza Hussain reports today, gets more popular in Washington as it becomes even more oppressive. And, of course, the U.S. supports Israel in every way imaginable even as its Secretary of State expressly recognizes the “apartheid” nature of its policy path.

Just as the NYT did with the Venezuelan coup regime of 2002, the U.S. government hails the Egyptian coup regime as saviors of democracy. That’s because “democracy” in U.S. discourse means: “serving U.S. interests” and “obeying U.S. dictates,” regardless how how the leaders gain and maintain power. Conversely, “tyranny” means “opposing the U.S. agenda” and “refusing U.S. commands,” no matter how fair and free the elections are that empower the government. The most tyrannical regimes are celebrated as long as they remain subservient, while the most popular and democratic governments are condemned as despots to the extent that they exercise independence.

To see how true that is, just imagine the orgies of denunciation that would rain down if a U.S. adversary (say, Iran, or Venezuela) rather than a key U.S. ally like Saudi Arabia had just sentenced a popular dissident to death. Instead, the NYT just weeks ago uncritically quotes an Emirates ambassador lauding Saudi Arabia as one of the region’s “moderate” allies because of its service to the U.S. bombing campaign in Syria. Meanwhile, the very popular, democratically elected leader of Bolivia is a grave menace to democratic values – because he’s “dismal for Washington’s influence in the region.”


Wake Up America: The FBI Murdered Journalist Michael Hastings Before He Reavealed New Government Info


Michael Hastings warned his coworkers that the FBI was investigating him. Hours later he was dead. His body was later cremated, without his family’s permission. Hastings was a rare breed of reporter: he was brave, and he told the truth, no matter the consequences. His 2010 Rolling Stone article took down US general Stanley McChrystal, and he was working on a new, possibly more damaging piece – so damaging he wouldn’t reveal to his wife what he was working on, to protect her. He faced death threats for his work, and many believe the threats were finally carried out.

These clips were broadcast on a mainstream station – CW6 San Diego – although the reporter mentions that most media outlets were ignoring the story. And no wonder – she received a threat herself for her coverage, and if Hastings death was a warning, of course other reporters are going to take heed. – See more at:


Posted in USAComments Off on Wake Up America: The FBI Murdered Journalist Michael Hastings Before He Reavealed New Government Info

Wake Up America: Iowa Police Force Pregnant Woman In Labor To Ground At Gun Point ”VIDEO”


CAUGHT ON TAPE: Pregnant Iowa woman in labor forced to ground at gunpoint by cops for speeding on way to hospital.
(NYDailyNews) Rachel Kohnen and her husband, Ben Kohnen, were rushing to the hospital in time to have their fourth child on Tuesday morning. Cops used tire spikes to stop the car and ordered the couple to the ground after they refused to pull over.

Posted in USAComments Off on Wake Up America: Iowa Police Force Pregnant Woman In Labor To Ground At Gun Point ”VIDEO”

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