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Caracas Calls US, EU Joint Statement on Creation of Venezuelan Transitional Government ‘Absurd’

Sputnik – 14.08.2020

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said on Friday that a new joint statement by a group of concerned countries, including the United States and the European Union, in which Caracas was urged to create a transitional government, was absurd and dictated by Washington.

Earlier in the day, the US, member states of the EU and the Lima Group said in a joint declaration that they would consider possible sanctions relief if Venezuelans established an inclusive transitional government.

“US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ordered a group of satellite states to sign an absurd interventionist statement, edited by Elliott Abrams [US lawmaker], intending to sabotage the parliamentary elections in Venezuela. They do not believe in democracy,” Arreaza wrote on Twitter. … Full article

Merkel demands ‘unconditional’ release of protesters in Belarus, as European Commission chief calls for sanctions

RT | August 14, 2020

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen have slammed Minsk over its handling of post-presidential election protests and clashes across the country.

Merkel’s spokesperson, Steffen Seibert, said that the chancellor was “shocked” by the reports of Belarusian protesters being abused in police custody.

“Belarus must unconditionally and immediately release the people [detained in relation to the protests].”

Seibert urged Minsk to respect the freedom of assembly and the access to information.

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, meanwhile, demanded “additional sanctions against those who violated democratic values or abused human rights in Belarus.” She added that EU foreign ministers will show “strong support” for human rights and democracy in the country. … Full article

EU does not accept Belarus election results, preparing sanctions – Foreign policy chief Borrell

RT | August 14, 2020

The European Union is refusing to recognize election results in Belarus and is preparing sanctions over the ‘rigged’ vote and the heavy-handed police response to protests, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has confirmed.

The EU “doesn’t accept election results” in Minsk, Borrell tweeted on Friday evening, adding that work has begun on “sanctioning those responsible for violence [and] falsification” of the vote.

Borrell’s comments come after a conference call of 27 EU foreign ministers, which ended in a consensus that the Belarus elections “were rigged,” according to Slovakian FM Ivan Korcok.

“We cannot ignore the facts of election fraud and the use of force,” Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said after the meeting, adding that the EU foreign policy unit has been tasked with putting together a list of officials to be sanctioned. … Full article

Looking back on the Maidan events and its consequences

By Francis Lee for the Saker Blog | August 12, 2020

Victor Yanukovich was elected President of the Ukraine in 2010 narrowly defeating Yulia Timoshenko with 49% of votes cast to Timoshenko’s 45%. The Ukrainian Presidential term of office lasts for five years. Yanukovich’s Party, the Party of the Regions, together with its coalition partner the Communist Party of the Ukraine, also had a majority in the Ukrainian Parliament, with Mykola Azarov as Prime Minister. The membership of the EU was perhaps one of the more salient issues of the time and was the trigger for the ensuing upheavals.

Negotiations for Ukraine’s initial stage of eventual membership of the EU – the so-called Association Agreement – had been dragging on since 2011, but both Yanukovich and Azarov were favourably disposed to an eventual positive outcome, although the Communist part of the coalition were not. … continue

UN Security Council rejects US resolution to extend Iran arms embargo

Press TV – August 14, 2020

The United Nations Security Council has rejected a US resolution to extend an arms embargo on Iran that is due to expire in October, as Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed a summit of world leaders to avoid “confrontation” over an American threat to trigger a return of all UN sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

“The Security Council’s failure to act decisively in defense of international peace and security is inexcusable,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on Friday before the Security Council announced the results of the vote.

The United States has become isolated over Iran at the Security Council following President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the multilateral Iran nuclear deal 2018. […]

The resolution needed support from nine of 15 votes to pass. Eleven members abstained, including France, Germany and Britain, while the US and the Dominican Republic were the only “yes” votes. … Full article

Russia’s proposal to convene meeting of heads of state of UN Security Council permanent members with participation of heads of Germany and Iran

Statement by President of Russia Vladimir Putin | August 14, 2020

Debates around the Iranian issue within the UN Security Council are becoming increasingly strained. Tensions are running high. Iran faces groundless accusations. Resolutions are being drafted with a view to dismantling decisions that had been unanimously adopted by the Security Council.

Russia maintains its unwavering commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran’s nuclear programme. Its approval in 2015 was a landmark political and diplomatic achievement that helped fend off the threat of an armed conflict and reinforced nuclear non-proliferation.

In 2019, Russia presented an updated version of its Collective Security Concept for the Persian Gulf Region, outlining concrete and effective paths to unravelling the tangle of concerns in this region. We strongly believe that these problems can be overcome if we treat each other’s positions with due attention and responsibility, while acting respectfully and in a collective spirit.

Like anywhere else in the world, there is no place for blackmail or dictate in this region, no matter the source. Unilateral approaches will not help bring about solutions. … continue

Israeli Navy Injures Palestinian Fisherman in Gaza

Palestine Chronicle | August 14, 2020

Israeli navy Friday opened gunfire towards Palestinian fishermen sailing offshore Beit Lahia town in the northern besieged Gaza Strip, injuring one, the Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

The Israeli navy fired rubber-coated steel bullets towards fishermen sailing within the designated fishing zone offshore the town, injuring one.

Fourteen years following the Israeli “disengagement” from Gaza, Israel has not actually disengaged from Gaza; it still maintains control of its land borders, access to the sea and airspace. … Full article

Palestinian boy seriously injured in settler attack

Palestine Information Center – August 14, 2020

NABLUS – A Palestinian boy was seriously injured on Friday afternoon when an Israeli settler in a speeding car deliberately hit him in Huwara town in the West Bank district of Nablus.

Local sources said that a Palestinian boy suffered serious wounds and was rushed to a hospital after he was run over by an Israeli settler.

No further information was given about the boy’s identity or health condition.

Israeli settler violence, including arson attacks on homes and mosques and hit-and-run attacks, is commonplace in the West Bank, but it is rarely investigated by Israeli occupation authorities and the perpetrators are almost never brought to justice.

Settlers attacks, according to Palestinian residents of the West Bank, have seen a noticeable rise during the coronavirus crisis.

Yemen’s Ansarullah slams UAE-Israel deal as ‘great betrayal’ of Palestinians

Press TV – August 14, 2020

Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement has decried the deal reached between the United Arab Emirates and Israel to fully normalize relations as a “great betrayal” of the Palestinian cause.

In a statement issued on Friday, Ansarullah’s political bureau said the exposure of the UAE-Israel relations proved the emptiness of all the pan-Arabist slogans raised by the Saudi-led coalition in waging war on Yemen.

The statement added that the UAE was continuing to move forward on the wrong path of serving American and Israeli interests against the Muslim Ummah, referring to the Emirates’ participation in the Saudi-led war on Yemen, which began in March 2015 and has left tens of thousands of people killed.

Ansarullah dismissed assertions that normalization with the Israeli regime would lead to the establishment of peace and stability in the region as “mere delusions.” … continue

New York: Lebanese Government Defends Intellectual Freedom of Diplomat Against Zionist Intimidation Campaign

By Eric Striker – National Justice – August 14, 2020

The Lebanese consul in New York City refused to cower to a Jewish-led mob demanding the firing of Abir Taha, a Lebanese intellectual and career diplomat who serves as the consul general.

Taha, whose books have been published by Arktos, has written academic books about Nationalsocialism, geopolitics and Nietzschean philosophy, as well as novels influenced by Eastern spirituality. Jewish groups are calling her Nazi and anti-Semite.

A group called Outlive Them NYC, who describe themselves as “antifascist Jews in occupied NYC organizing to defend all our communities,” led a mob that blocked the entrance of the Lebanese consul demanding Taha’s resignation just two days after the tragic August 4th explosion in Beirut that killed 178 people and leveled a large portion of the city. … continue

Lebanon’s Hariri demands freedom to form upcoming government

MEMO | August 14, 2020

Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Saad Hariri demanded freedom to select his own cabinet ministers to become the country’s prime minister for a third term, Lebanese Al-Akhbar newspaper reported.

According to the paper, Hariri has demanded that all Lebanese forces grant him freedom to select his ministers, noting that his only external concern is to obtain the approval of Saudi Arabia which he has not yet received.

France has given its support for Hariri to become prime minister for a third time, but Paris wants a general consensus on his candidacy.

However, senior sources in the Free Patriotic Movement party, founded by Lebanese President Michel Aoun, stressed that experience has shown that Saad Hariri is neither a reformist nor productive.

The paper quoted unnamed sources as saying that Aoun is also not enthusiastic about naming Hariri as prime minister.

According to the sources, Hariri is not in a position to set conditions, but is rather someone to set conditions for.

Last week, Lebanese Prime Minister, Hassan Diab, resigned in the aftermath of a massive explosion that hit Beirut port killing nearly 200 people and wounding more than 6,000 others.

Iran raps West’s bid to exploit Lebanon ‘pain for political goals’

Press TV – August 14, 2020

Iran’s foreign minister says only the Lebanese people and their representatives can decide the country’s future following the massive blast in Beirut that killed 172 people and prompted the government to resign.

Mohammed Javad Zarif was speaking after senior US and French officials met President Michel Aoun in a flurry of apparent Western meddling in Lebanon’s internal affairs.

“In our view it is not humane to exploit the pain and suffering of the people for political goals,” Zarif told a joint televised news conference with Lebanon’s caretaker foreign minister.

“We believe that the government and the people of Lebanon should decide on the future of Lebanon.”

Following the blast, Western states have linked any financial assistance to “reform” of the Lebanese state, which has defaulted on its huge sovereign debts. … Full article

Colombia: Army Kills Two Indigenous People in Cauca Valley

teleSUR | August 14, 2020

Colombia’s Army Thursday killed two Indigenous people and injured two community members during an eviction operation in El Berraco village in the Cauca department.

The victims are the Indigenous journalists Abelardo Liz and Johel Rivera, who were part of the “Liberation of Mother Earth” movement.

The Foundation for the Freedom of the Press (FLIP) regretted the death of both journalists, who were shot while covering the Army’s eviction in Corinto.

The Indigenous City Halls of Cauca Association (ACIN) reported that former Governor Julio Tumbo was seriously wounded. His bullet injuries represent a danger to life.

“Officers of the Mobile Anti-Riot Squad (ESMAD) and the Army shot at El Berraco community with firearms. The victims were hit in the chest, shoulder, abdomen, and knees,” ACIN explained.

Following a court order, Army troops evicted the people who were in the Quebrada Seca ranch. … continue

The US contracts out its regime change operation in Nicaragua

By John Perry | COHA | August 4, 2020

Masaya, Nicaragua – An extraordinary leaked document gives a glimpse of the breadth and complexity of the US government’s plan to interfere in Nicaragua’s internal affairs up to and after its presidential election in 2021. … continue

Bolivia: La Paz Uses Mobile Crematories as COVID Deaths Increase

teleSUR | August 13, 2020

Bolivia COVID-19 victim’s relatives use mobile crematories as an alternative to burials after cemeteries collapsed due to the increase in virus-related deaths.

Mobile crematory in La Paz, Bolivia. August, 2020.“We wanted to help in this pandemic, and one possibility was showing others how to make a crematory oven. Then we asked ourselves, wouldn’t it be better if it could be mobile, to move it from one place to another?” environmental engineer and mobile crematory inventor Carlos Ayo says.

The mobile crematory poses an alternative for less advantaged families who cannot dispose of a dignified and sanitary end for their relative’s remains. A cremation with the mobile device costs 40 USD, while the cost of the conventional incinerator reaches 144 USD.

The itinerant crematorium fits in a trailer and uses locally produced liquefied petroleum gas. It can process a corpse in 30 to 40 minutes and about 20 bodies per day.

According to Ayo, several local authorities requested his services as corpses pile up in the streets, and families wait for days to bury their beloved ones.

La Paz Mayor’s Office, one of the cities most harmed by the virus, reported local cemeteries received over 2,000 bodies in July, an atypical figure from the 500 average.

As of Thursday, Bolivia health authorities registered 96,459 COVID-19 cases, 3,884 deaths, and 33,720 recoveries from the virus.

‘Regime Change’ in Belarus Looks Like an Objective of Both the Trump Administration and the Biden Campaign

By Adam Dick | Ron Paul Institute | August 14, 2020

It seems that whoever wins the presidency, United States foreign policy will keep chugging away at intervening across the world, including via “regime change” efforts. Over the last couple decades, targets for US-government-supported overthrow have included Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, and Venezuela. Belarus also appears to be in the US government’s crosshairs. If its government holds back through January the effort seeking to topple it, Belarus looks sure to remain a US target for regime change during either a second term of President Donald Trump or a first term of President Joe Biden.

On Monday, as revolutionaries in Belarus capital Minsk attempted to oust the Belarus government, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Democratic Party presidential nominee Joe Biden issued interchangeable statements regarding Belarus and US policy toward it. Both Pompeo’s statement and Biden’s statement condemned the government of Belarus, called fraudulent the country’s recent national election in which President Aleksander Lukashenko won reelection by a wide margin, and made demands upon the Belarus government.

The statements of Pompeo and Biden may not seem so threatening if you imagine them coming from the government of a country of average population, economic strength, military power, and tendency to intervene in other countries. The comments could then just be understood as politicians spouting off or being relatively harmless buttinskis.

It is different when the pronouncements are made by a top foreign affairs official of the US and the potential next president of the US. … continue

Former FBI Lawyer to Reportedly Plead Guilty to Falsifying Docs for Russia Probe

By Tim Korso – Sputnik – 14.08.2020

The plea plays into the hands of President Donald Trump’s accusations against the FBI, claiming that the agency’s investigation into now disproven allegations of collusion with Russia was politically motivated and not based on hard evidence.

Former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith plans to plead guilty in an investigation into the possibly illegal origins of the Russia probe and the spying on Trump’s campaign in 2016, The New York Times reported. Clinesmith is expected to admit that he falsified a document that contributed to the start of the investigation against Trump and his team.

The former lawyer will reportedly confess to altering a letter received from the CIA that allowed the FBI to renew a FISA surveillance order on Trump’s campaign manager Carter Page in 2017. Such an order allows the communications of a person suspected of being a foreign agent to be wiretapped. Clinesmith’s lawyers have previously claimed that their client altered the email in order to “clarify” facts in it for a colleague.

Page was hired by Trump’s campaign in 2016 and attracted the attention of FBI agents, who suspected him of potentially being subject to Russian recruitment efforts. The FBI asked the CIA for the information about Page, and the intelligence agency explained that he regularly provided it with information on his contacts in Russia, thereby making him a CIA source.

This information, which would essentially remove the suspicions of Page, was played down by an FBI officer who handled it in 2016. But it was Clinesmith who turned the matter upside down in 2017 by editing the email and removing the parts that mentioned Page as being a “source” for the CIA, thus enabling the FBI to renew their FISA warrant. … Full article

‘All the Evidence’ Suggests Guccifer 2.0 is Linked to CIA, Not Russia, NSA Whistleblower Says

Bill BinneySputnik | August 13, 2020

The internet is not capable of accommodating the download speeds necessary to validate the claims by Guccifer 2.0, that they hacked documents from across the Atlantic, according to a former technical director at the National Security Agency.

Guccifer 2.0, the cyber personality which claimed to have hacked documents belonging to members of the Democratic National Committee in 2016, is likely to be a front for the CIA, according to analysis conducted by members of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

Bill Binney, a cryptogropher and former technical director at the US National Security Agency (NSA), blew the whistle on the agency’s mass surveillance programmes after serving with them for 30 years. Mr Binney explains to Sputnik that despite Guccifer 2.0 claiming to have hacked documents which the cyber criminal later published, the download speeds necessary to have obtained the documents simply are not available across the World Wide Web. … continue

Trust the experts and take your pills, citizen! Meet the nerd who wants to force-feed you ‘morality pills’ to beat Covid

By Graham Dockery | RT | August 13, 2020

mind-bending pills until you love your government and obey its orders might sound like science fiction. But there are scientists out there who want you to shut up and take your morality pills – by force if necessary.

People, or at least those with a spark of vitality and life in them, don’t like following orders. Months into the coronavirus pandemic, leaders have tried to enforce mandatory social distancing and mask wearing through a mixture of fines, snitching and public shaming. Still, some people refuse to toe the line, from lockdown protesters in the US to cheeky Brits sneaking off for an unlicensed picnic.

The scientific experts, however, have a solution for that. Take Parker Crutchfield, a professor of medical ethics. According to a recent op-ed, he thinks that the ‘ethical’ solution to this rule breaking is to drug the population into compliance, using psychoactive drugs to “induce those who are noncooperative to get on board with doing what’s best for the public good.”

That’s right. A top-of-his-field ethicist at Western Michigan University wants to drug you into cooperation. Should you refuse, he thinks the government should force this “morality booster” on everyone, either by military power, or by administering it in secret, “perhaps via the water supply.” … continue

The Russian Interference Report, Without Laughing

By Craig Murray | August 12, 2020

Now the madding crowd has moved on, I take a mature look at the report by the Intelligence and Security Committee on Russia. It is so flawed it is tempting simply to mock it. But in fact, it is extremely dangerous.

It calls expressly and repeatedly for the security services to be actively involved in “policing the democratic space” and castigates the security services for their unwillingness to interfere in democratic process. It calls for tough government action against social media companies who refuse to censor and remove from the internet material it believes to be inspired by foreign states. It specifically accepts the Integrity Initiative’s Christopher Donnelly and Ben Nimmo as examples of good identifiers of the material which should be banned – even though Nimmo is the man who stated that use of the phrase “Cui bono” is indicative of a Russian troll, and who accused scores of ordinary Scottish Independence supporters of being Russian trolls.

In order for you to assess the threat of a report which specifically calls on the social media companies to ban those individuals the British government identifies as Russian trolls, and which calls on the security services to act against those people, remember Ian.

Ian was identified by the British government as a Russian troll, on the word of Nimmo and Donnelly – exactly the “experts” on which this report relies. This report proposes Ian, and people like him, be banned from social media and subject to security service surveillance. … continue

Beijing Blasts ‘Double Standards’ as Twitter Labels Only Russian, Chinese Media ‘State-Affiliated’

By Tim Korso – Sputnik – 13.08.2020

Twitter’s decision to target Russian and Chinese media by limiting their ability to deliver content to the platform’s users comes as part of an apparent broader effort by Western social media to censor points of views that are different from the mainstream agenda.

Media outlets should be treated in an equal manner and not on a case-by-case basis if they comply with the laws and regulations of the countries they operate in, a spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Russia said regarding the recent actions of Twitter. On 6 August, the social media platform flagged numerous Russian and Chinese media outlets, including Sputnik, as “state-affiliated”, limiting their ability to promote and amplify tweets.

The Chinese Embassy stressed the importance of the media as a crucial link uniting countries around the world and condemned the actions preventing them from properly functioning. It pointed out that Twitter had pledged to mark all media outlets in one way or another controlled by the governments of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, but has in fact so far only targeted those based in Russia and China.

“We hope that the said social networks [sic] will abandon prejudices and ‘double standards’, and will, in a spirit of transparency and tolerance, consider the role of media from various countries in boosting international exchanges and cooperation; [that they] will not selectively create obstacles, and politicize issues”, the embassy said. … continue

Facebook’s latest ‘hate speech’ update proves no censorship will ever be enough for social media thought police

By Helen Buyniski | RT | August 12, 2020

Facebook has expanded its already-prodigious list of banned content to include insults, blackface, and the notion that Jews control major industries. But even these new rules aren’t enough – and nothing ever will be.

The social media behemoth has bent the knee in spectacularly groveling fashion following a pro-censorship campaign disguised as an advertiser protest against Facebook’s supposed leniency toward “hate speech.” In a blog post on Tuesday, the platform announced a dramatic expansion of its Hate Speech policy along with the formation of a “Diversity Advisory Council” and a handful of “inclusivity” task forces.

Facebook has even volunteered to submit to an “independent, third-party audit in 2021,” issuing a call for proposals for would-be auditors to “grade its homework” – i.e. verify it’s not manipulating statistics to make itself look tougher on “hate speech” than it really is. In sum, Facebook has completely dropped its pretense of defiance and acquiesced to the demands of Stop Hate for Profit, the boycott campaign led by notorious censorship advocates the Anti-Defamation League. … continue

The Birth of a Global Nation: What Makes a Modern Rhodes Scholar?

By Matthew Ehret | Strategic Culture Foundation | August 13, 2020

In my previous article, I discussed the role of the Brookings Institute’s founder Strobe Talbott as an integrated part of the puzzle behind Russia Gate and also his indoctrination as a Rhodes Scholar in Oxford alongside his room mate Bill Clinton in 1966.

I addressed the rise of the Rhodes Trust in 1902 as think tank designed explicitly to sabotage the spread of a multipolar model of sovereign republics applying “American system practices” of protectionism, national banking and internal improvements in the post Civil War era.

In this follow up article, I would like to pursue the deeper philosophical structure of the Rhodes Scholar world view as it expressed itself in Strobe Talbott’s 1992 Time Magazine manifestoThe Birth of a Global Nation” which he wrote in preparation for the new phase of his career swarming into the White House with dozens of other Rhodes Scholars who sought to define the conditions of the new unipolar age. … continue

‘No change’ of West Bank annexation plans after Israel-UAE deal, Netanyahu says

RT | August 13, 2020

Israel is still committed to annexing parts of the occupied West Bank, PM Benjamin Netanyahu said, after a peace deal with the UAE was reached. As part of the deal, Tel Aviv agreed to suspend the annexation.

The revelation was made by Netanyahu in a televised speech on Thursday.

“There is no change in my plans to apply sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, with full coordination with the US,” Netanyahu said, referring to parts of the West Bank region by their biblical names.

The remark came shortly after the peace deal between the United Arab Emirates and Israel was unveiled. Among other things, it contains a provision that Tel Aviv agrees to ‘suspend’ its annexation plans.

Netanyahu did not give any timeframe for when exactly his land-grabbing plans will go through, but apparently sought to reassure his hardline supporters, disappointed by the sudden U-turn on the annexation issue.

The Israel-UAE deal was first announced by US President Donald Trump on Twitter earlier in the day. Trump called the agreement a “HUGE breakthrough” and labeled the whole deal a “historic” achievement.

Most of the Arab world does not officially recognize the Jewish state, but countries like Saudi Arabia have enjoyed quite cozy relations with Tel Aviv for years.

Israel, UAE reach US-brokered agreement to establish full diplomatic ties

Press TV – August 13, 2020

Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have reached a deal that will lead to a full normalization of diplomatic relations between the two sides, in an agreement that US President Donald Trump apparently helped broker.

Under the agreement announced on Thursday, Israel has allegedly agreed to suspend applying its own rule to further areas in the occupied West Bank and the strategic Jordan Valley that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had pledged to annex, senior White House officials told Reuters.

Trump, in a tweet, called the agreement a “HUGE breakthrough,” describing it as a “historic peace agreement between our two GREAT friends.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who spoke to reporters accompanying him on a trip to central European countries, said for his part that the agreement was an “enormous” step forward on the “right path.”

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also tweeted that the deal marked “a historic day.”

Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed said on Twitter on Thursday that an agreement had been reached on normalising relations between the two countries.

The deal, however, has elicited sharp negative reactions from various Palestinian groups as well as their supporters from across the world. … continue

Hamas on UAE-Israel deal: Treacherous stab in back of Palestinians

MEMO | August 13, 2020

Speaking as one, Palestinian groups Thursday slammed the new agreement between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel to normalise relations, Anadolu Agency reports.

Hamas condemned the agreement, saying it does nothing to serve the Palestinian cause and ignores the rights of the Palestinian people.

The UAE peace deal with Israel is a “treacherous stab in the back of the Palestinian people,” Hamas said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) stressed that the deal shows a vast conspiracy against the Palestinian people.

The Islamic Jihad Movement also decried the new deal, comparing it to a “surrender.” … Full article

Jewish settlers torch Palestinian-owned bulldozer in West Bank

Palestine Information Center – August 13, 2020

NABLUS – A horde of extremist Jewish settlers on Thursday morning set fire to a Palestinian-owned bulldozer in Asira al-Qibliya village, south of Nablus in the occupied West Bank.

Local official Ghassan Daghlas said that settlers from the illegal settlement of Yitzhar set alight a bulldozer belonging to local citizens in the village and spray-painted graffiti in the same area.

Daghlas also said that about 20 settlers attacked the house of Abdul-Basset Ahmed on the outskirts of the same village, adding that local residents confronted the settlers and clashed with them.

Several citizens suffered from tear gas as Israeli soldiers intervened to protect the settlers.

Soldiers Uproot Palestinian Lands To Pave A New Segregated Road

IMEMC News | August 13, 2020

Israeli soldiers, Thursday, started the uprooting and bulldozing of Palestinian lands, east of the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem, in preparation for paving a new segregated road for the use of illegal colonialist settlers, living on confiscated Palestinian lands.

Ehab Ghazala, the Mayor of Kaf al-Lubbad Municipal Council, said the soldiers started uprooting Palestinian agricultural lands in Ras al-Misyed area, in the areas of Kafr al-Lubbad, Ezbet al-Hafassi, and Thannaba Suburb.

Ghazala added that the planned segregated road extends 10 Kilometers (6.21 Miles) to reach Avnei Hefetz illegal colony, built on stolen Palestinian lands.

The Mayor also stated that the lands are around 600 Dunams (148.2 Acres), and are subject to constant violations by the armed paramilitary illegal colonists who frequently invade them, uproot them, confiscate equipment in addition to assaulting Palestinians and forcing them out of their lands.

The planned new segregated road would isolate the western area of Kafr al-Lubbad, which is the only route that Palestinians can take when commuting to the Thannaba area and from there to Tulkarem.

Jewish settlers slice tires of cars in West Bank village

Palestine Information Center – August 13, 2020

SALFIT – A gang of extremist Jewish settlers at dawn Thursday punctured tires of three Palestinian cars in Yasuf village, east of Salfit in the occupied West Bank.

According to local sources, the settlers infiltrated into Yasuf at dawn and sliced tires of cars belonging to three local residents.

As other West Bank areas, Palestinian villages in Salfit are exposed to repeated attacks by Jewish settlers and Israeli soldiers, especially during the olive harvest season.

Israel strikes school in Gaza refugee camp

MEMO | August 13, 2020

Israeli warplanes at dawn launched renewed air raids on the besieged Gaza Strip, causing only material damage to a school and some homes.

One missile struck an UNRWA-run primary school in the Shati refugee camp, which is one of the most densely populated areas in the Strip.

Interior Ministry spokesperson, Iyad Bozum, said the building was evacuated while explosives experts and security officials work to remove the remnants of the explosives.

The strike damaged the staff room on the second floor and caused the windows on the third floor to shatter. Classes at the school are now suspended until the building is made safe for the return of students.

Over the last few days, Israeli occupation forces have launched multiple aerial and artillery attacks on Gaza.

Palestinians are deprived of a political voice, and their leaders do nothing about it

By Ramona Wadi | MEMO | August 13, 2020

Palestinian refugees are at the core of Palestinian narratives. The international community has, however, classified Palestinian refugees as a humanitarian issue. In between these diverging depictions, the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) seeks to grapple with both strands to push for “international protection” within the context of the coronavirus pandemic.

With international aid for Palestinian refugees barely enough for basic necessities and thus contributing to their increased vulnerability, the PLO has requested the UN to provide protection and financial aid for them. According to reports, “Such protection and support must continue until a solution for the issue of the refugees is found based on Resolution 194.”

The political exploitation of Palestinian refugees knows no limits. UN Resolution 194, which has been accepted blindly as the framework upon which a solution should be found, is rarely criticised for shifting accountability upon the colonised population, rather than the settler-colonial framework which usurps Palestinian territory and made Palestinians refugees in the first place. Resolution 194 is part of the international narrative on Palestine and has little to do with safeguarding the rights of refugees because it fails to call for the decolonisation of their land.

Palestinian refugees are not allowed a political platform at an international level. Hence the constant “speaking for” refugees within a humanitarian context that in turn justifies the international community’s role in deciding how the promotion of Palestinian refugees should be carried out in order to highlight the humanitarian paradigm. Humanitarian aid is about the international community first and foremost. The recipients are forced to play a part in this charade, which ignores Israel’s colonisation of Palestine as the cause of the whole issue. … continue

Bahrain: the Tough Struggle Continues for Human Rights Activists

By Viktor Mikhin – New Eastern Outlook – 13.08.2020

The situation in the small emirate of Bahrain, situated in the waters of the Persian Gulf, has once again caught the attention of media outlets worldwide.

The matter at hand is that the country’s Supreme Court upheld the death penalty against two people accused of killing a police officer, despite international concerns about their confessions, which human rights groups believe were coerced through torture. … continue

Pompeo defends Saudi arms sales after damning watchdog report on Yemen

Press TV – August 13, 2020

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has defended Washington’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia after a watchdog report said the State Department failed to “fully assess” the risk of civilian deaths in war-torn Yemen.

Pompeo said on Wednesday that his department “did everything by the book” in regards to arms sales to Riyadh in May 2019.

“I am proud of the work that my team did. We got a really good outcome. We prevented the loss of lives,” he claimed.

Pompeo made the remarks in response to a report by the State Department Inspector General that said “the department did not fully assess risks and implement mitigation measures to reduce civilian casualties and legal concerns associated with the transfer” of precision-guided bombs to the Persian Gulf Arab countries.

Supported by its regional allies and armed by its Western backers, Saudi Arabia has been waging a war on Yemen since March 2015.

An estimated 100,000 people have lost their lives in the Saudi war.

The war has destroyed Yemeni infrastructure, including a large number of hospitals and clinics amid an all-out Saudi blockade. – Full article

Pompeo says US may impose sanctions & suspend oil deliveries for Belarus amid post-election crackdown

RT | August 13, 2020

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hinted that sanctions may be in store for Belarus following the state’s heavy-handed response to opposition protesters, who have disputed the result of the recent presidential election.

Asked how Washington would respond to the opposition crackdown during an interview with Radio Free Europe on Wednesday, Pompeo said that both sanctions and trade penalties were on the table, suggesting the US could also halt oil shipments to the east European nation.

“What is it that we believe that we can do, not just the United States unilaterally, but in a multilateral way to deliver good outcomes for the Belarusian people, whether that turns out to be sanctions or turns out to be making decisions about product deliveries?” Pompeo asked rhetorically, adding that he was “deeply disappointed” by the election and its violent aftermath.

“Those are all things that are yet to be determined. We’re still pretty fresh off this election and we need to see how things settle out here in the near future.”

The country’s August 9 presidential election has kicked off a wave of unrest among the political opposition, who insist that incumbent Alexander Lukashenko’s landslide victory was rigged, keeping him in office for his sixth consecutive term since 1994. Some four days after the contentious race, mass protests continued to engulf the capital of Minsk and other cities, seeing violent clashes between demonstrators and security forces, who have made more than 6,000 arrests in that time.

Though Washington has imposed and removed sanctions on Minsk intermittently over the last decade – last scaling back penalties in 2015 after Lukashenko freed a number of political prisoners – relations between the two countries have improved in recent years, with the US making at least one major oil shipment to Belarus since May. That may change following Pompeo’s remarks, however, in which he also said the US would attempt to lean on its “European friends” to join the effort to punish the Lukashenko government. Other countries in the region have already signalled willingness to pursue that goal, with Poland, Latvia and Lithuania threatening to impose sanctions of their own unless they are permitted to mediate talks between the state and the opposition.

EU foreign ministers to discuss potential Belarus sanctions on Friday – Sweden

RT | August 12, 2020

Sweden’s Foreign Minster Ann Linde said she has been invited to an extraordinary EU foreign affairs meeting on Friday to discuss potential sanctions on Belarus.

“This morning there has been a summons to an extraordinary EU foreign ministers’ meeting on Friday where we will discuss precisely this [sanctions],” Linde told Swedish radio in an interview on Wednesday.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Tuesday condemned what he described as “disproportionate” violence by Belarus authorities against protesters following Sunday’s presidential election. Borrell said the EU could take measures, without giving details, Reuters reported.

Nottingham Council Loses Millions On Green Energy Venture

Nottingham Post | August 11, 2020

Nottingham City Council had less cash available for other purposes as it worked to prop up its energy company, a report has revealed.

In a damning report by External Auditor Grant Thornton, which has today (August 11) been made public, a lengthy list of criticisms have been laid bare, revealing how the city council governed its not-for-profit subsidiary, Robin Hood Energy (RHE).

The council’s determination to make the energy company a success “led to institutional blindness” according to the auditor, putting tens of millions of taxpayer money at risk.

Leader of the city council, David Mellen, has apologised for what he said was done “with good intentions” to provide households with affordable and greener energy.

While Robin Hood Energy is under a Strategic Review, the council, now facing axing hundreds of jobs and cutting services, will consider the recommendations made by the auditor and a decision will be made on the future of RHE in the coming weeks. … Full article

Why the economics behind Jason Kenney’s small nuclear reactor dream don’t add up

By David Climenhaga | AlbertaPolitics | August 12, 2020

When Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says small nuclear reactors “could be a game changer in providing safe, zero-emitting, base load power in many areas of the province,” as he did Sunday in a tweet, he’s pulling your leg.

For a variety of economic and technical reasons, the scenario Kenney described while re-tweeting a CBC story about his announcement that Alberta intends to sign onto the three-province effort to develop small nukes is unlikely ever to occur.

Kenney and his government’s officials certainly know this. … continue

Prince Peter Kropotkin and the Murder of the Liberator Tsar

By Martin Sieff | Strategic Culture Foundation | August 11, 2020

Why did London host a convention of anarchists in July 1881 less than three months after they had murdered the Liberator Tsar of Russia?

The International Anarchist Congress of London, from July 14 to July 20, 1881 was highly unusual in many ways, though it has almost totally been forgotten by history,  save as a curiosity.

It was the last such gathering to be held for more than a quarter of a century until the International Anarchist Congress of Amsterdam in August 1907. During that time, there were four other unsuccessful attempts to call international congresses, in Geneva in 1882, in Paris in 1889, in Chicago in 1890 and once again in Paris in 1900.

Those interested in the procedural minutiae of the congress can easily enough find obscure academic articles discussing theoretical intellectual positions held and debated at the Congress.

But as far as I have been able to find, no historians have given any serious study to the possibility that the Congress may have been used to coordinate or plan any program of “Propaganda of the Deed” – the assassination of important political leaders across Europe and the Americas, which was central to the achievement of the anarcho-syndicalist movement’s goals.

Nor is there any discussion anywhere – save in terms of abstruse and apparently harmless political theory – of the role that former Prince Peter Kropotkin, the most consistently high-profile and charismatic leader of the anarchist movement played in the convention.

Most striking of all, there appears never to have been any serious investigation conducted as to why the British government permitted its capital London, to be the host of the conference that on the surface stood for the destruction of everything that the British Empire, its traditions and institutions held dear.

The decision to permit the 1881 congress to gather in London was particularly striking – and from the Russian government’s point of view outrageous – because it opened only four months almost to the day after Tsar Alexander II, the Great Liberator who freed 24 million serfs from slavery and supported Abraham Lincoln and the Union through the U.S. Civil War, was assassinated by a specially designed shrapnel grenade thrown by Ignacy Hryniewiecki on Sunday, March 13, 1881. … continue

Russia wants neither ‘rethink’ nor ‘reset’ if it means restoring American supremacy & returning to Cold War diplomacy

By Scott Ritter | RT | August 12, 2020

Some 136 American “experts” on US-Russian relations recently debated the merits of “rethinking” US policy on Russia. What these specialists failed to consider is that Moscow may not be interested in their plans. … continue

‘We Have Absolute Proof’ DNC Leaks Were Not Hacked, NSA Whistleblower Says

Sputnik – 12.08.2020

Because the National Security Agency is tapped into data transfer points throughout the United States, via its mass surveillance programmes, if there was any evidence that the DNC servers were hacked then they would have the evidence to prove it, a former technical director at the agency explains.

Documents published by WikiLeaks that belonged to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) could not have been hacked via the internet and must have been initially downloaded from within the US, according to an investigation by members of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

Bill Binney, a cryptogropher and former technical director at the US National Security Agency (NSA), blew the whistle on the agency’s mass surveillance programmes after serving with them for 30 years. Mr Binney detailed for Sputnik why the forensic evidence proves that key claims of Russiagate (regarding Russian officials hacking the DNC servers) are a “farce”. … continue

Guilt by Accusation: Alan Dershowitz and Maria Farmer

By Vernon Thorpe • Unz Review • August 12, 2020 

Alan Dershowitz, in Guilt by Accusation, writes, referring to accusations concerning his alleged sexual misconduct,

“Evidence was no longer important. It was the accusation that mattered, as well as the identities of the accuser and accused. The presumption shifted from innocence to guilt. For a man to call a false accuser a liar became a political sin, even if the accused had hard evidence of the accuser’s lies, as I did.”

The main purpose of his short book is to dent the credibility of Virginia Roberts Guiffre who, as well as being a leading witness against Dershowitz’s friend and former client Jeffrey Epstein, has claimed that the latter trafficked her for sex with Mr Dershowitz.

Now that Jeffrey Epstein is dead and Ghislaine Maxwell has been arrested and charged we can only hope that the courts get to the bottom of the matter and find out what actually did or did not happen.

However, Mr Dershowitz, as well as writing his case-for-the-defence in relation to Virginia Guiffre, has also expended effort to discredit another person who has made accusations damaging to him. That person is Maria Farmer, who worked for Epstein and whose allegations against him and others are recounted in the Netflix documentary Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich.continue

Jewish Settlers Close West Bank Road, Attack Palestinian Vehicles

Palestine Chronicle | August 12, 2020

Jewish settlers today closed one of the main roads in the northern West Bank and attacked Palestinian vehicles, the Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement construction in the northern West Bank, said that a group of Jewish settlers, protected by Israeli soldiers, hurled stones at Palestinian vehicles as they were driving on a road connecting Nablus to Qalqilya, causing damage to some and threatening the life of their occupants. … Full article

Israeli Occupation Forces Strike Gaza, Accidentally Hit Israeli Dairy Farm

Al-Manar | August 12, 2020

Israeli fighter jets, helicopters and tanks attacked a number of Hamas terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Israeli media quoted occupation military as saying that a military compound, underground infrastructure and observation posts were targeted during the Israeli strikes.

It added that the strikes were in response to the launching of incendiary balloons into Israel from Gaza over the past several days.

During the Israeli bombing of the Gaza Strip on predawn Wednesday, an Israeli dairy farm was accidentally hit with a missile, Israeli media reported, noting that there were no casualties. … Full article

Iran Ready to Assist Lebanon in Rebuilding Destroyed Beirut Port, Rouhani Says

Sputnik – 12.08.2020

TEHRAN – Iran is ready to help Lebanon in rebuilding the Beirut port, which was destroyed following a massive explosion that hit the area last week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday.

The Iranian president said that it is time to assist Lebanon instead of using the situation for opportunistic purposes. Rouhani added that Iran has already provided medical aid and was ready to do more.

“During a phone conversation with the Lebanese president [Michel Aoun], I gave my word — if they need something, they should say it and we will help them, even in the restoration of the port. We are ready to help”, Rouhani said at a government session, as broadcast on Iranian television. … Full article

Russia to Start the Production of Its COVID-19 Vaccine in Cuba

teleSUR | August 11, 2020

Russia’s Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) Chief Executive Officer Kiril Dmitriev announced that Cuba could begin producing the COVID-19 vaccine, the Sputnik V, in November.

“Cuba has a large capacity to produce medicines and vaccines with highly qualified staff. We could coordinate with its government to start the vaccine production in November,” Dmitriev stated.

He also pointed out that the third stage of vaccine trials will begin in Russia on Wednesday. Later the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and the Philippines will continue testing it.

On Tuesday, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko announced the registration of the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine, the Sputnik V, which is named after the first artificial satellite launched into orbit by the USSR in 1957.

Before being tested in 76 volunteers, the Russian COVID-19 vaccine passed all the necessary safety and efficacy tests in several animal species.

On Tuesday morning, outlet Sputnik reported that that the Russian vaccine, which was developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute, can protect a person from the coronavirus for up to two years after injection.

“Such a prolonged period of protection is possible due to the vaccine being based on viral vectors – a harmless human adenovirus delivers a portion of the COVID-19 virus to a human body forcing it to form an immune response to it,” the Russian outlet explained.

First ever railway bridge connecting Russia & China to open in 2022

RT – August 12, 2020

The long-awaited cross-border railway bridge linking Russia and China across the Amur river is scheduled to be commissioned in the first quarter of 2022, authorities in Russia’s Jewish Autonomous Region announced on Wednesday.

The 2,209-meter-long (1.4 mile) structure will link Russia’s Far East with China’s northernmost Heilongjiang province. The Nizhneleninskoye (Jewish Autonomous Region) to Tongjiang (Heilongjiang province) bridge will be the first railway bridge between the two countries. It is expected to bring bilateral trade to new highs.

China has already completed the construction of its part of the structure. As for the Russian side, the region’s acting governor Rostislav Goldstein said earlier it “would be preferable to complete all the work on time, which is the first quarter of 2021.”

Construction of the cross-border bridge officially began in 2016, after 28 years of negotiations. The new bridge and its associated infrastructure will be 19.9km (12.4 miles) long. Some 6.5km (4.1 miles) of the bridge and road junctions will lie in China, and the remaining 13.5km (8.4 miles) will be located in Russia, according to China’s CNS agency.

The highway section of the bridge over the Amur river was completed last year. It will greatly facilitate trade between the two countries, since the route will be roughly 3,500km (2,175 miles) shorter than before. Russia plans to export iron ore, coal, mineral fertilizers, lumber and other goods via the link to China.

US concerned about Serbia’s intention to buy Chinese weapons

By Paul Antonopoulos | August 12, 2020

Belgrade’s announcement that it may purchase the Chinese FK-3 anti-aircraft missile system was enough for the U.S. to express concern about Serbia’s future, not only with Europe, but with the entire world.

The U.S. Embassy in Belgrade said that “procuring military and defense equipment is a sovereign decision. However, governments should understand the short- and long-term risks and costs involved in doing business with Chinese companies. Procurement choices should reflect Serbia’s stated policy goal of greater European integration. Alternative vendors which are not beholden to authoritarian regimes offer equipment that is both capable of meeting Serbia’s defense need and comparable in quality and cost.”

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić hit back, saying “Whenever we decide to buy something, somebody has something against it,” and emphasized that the FK-3 system was not on the U.S. sanctions list against China. … continue

China to expand its influence in the Middle East with major oil deal

RT | August 12, 2020

China continues to expand its influence in the Middle East through oil and infrastructure deals, and the latest deal with ADNOC is a great example of how Beijing looks to grow its presence in the offshore oil business.

It is little surprise to see that China – again – figures in yet another concessions award in the Middle East, this time relating to the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC). In the aftermath of Saudi Arabia’s second disastrous oil price war against the US shale sector, virtually all major Middle Eastern state-owned oil firms are looking to plug varyingly significant operational deficits, as are their governments.

In the absence of a sudden major spike in oil prices, economic survival in practical terms now comes down to one of two broad options. The first is to sell off chunks of state assets in initial public offerings (IPOs) or stakes in ongoing oil and gas projects, which ADNOC recently did with the sale of a 49 per cent stake in its gas pipelines for just over $10 billion to international investors. The second is to sell-off the same assets to companies from countries for which the immediate economic shortfall inherent in such deals pales into insignificance compared to the longer-term geopolitical and financial advantages. In this latter regard, Russia has its own financial constraints to deal with but China does not. […]

In this context, this latest deal follows the signing on 22 July 2019 of a comprehensive framework agreement between ADNOC and CNOOC to ‘explore new opportunities for collaboration’ in the upstream, midstream, and downstream oil sectors as well as in liquefied natural gas (LNG). Described at the time by ADNOC chief executive officer, Ahmed Al Jaber as “far-reaching,” the deal is such a significant move by China into the core oil and gas interests of one of the US’s few remaining vocal allies in the Middle East – the UAE – that the deal signing ceremony was attended in person by China’s President, Xi Jinping. […]

Also according to the July 2019 agreement, ADNOC and CNOOC would jointly explore LNG sales and purchase opportunities, share knowledge and expertise in LNG markets, and evaluate partnerships and joint investment opportunities in the LNG value chain. Finally, in the downstream sector, the two companies would collaborate in new integrated refining and petrochemical assets in China, co-operate in CNOOC’s refining assets, and jointly partner and invest in the refining and petrochemical value chain.

One of these early, albeit indirect, China investments may well be into an investment platform to fund local chemicals projects, as part of an overall push to invest $45 billion in downstream activities in Abu Dhabi, according to a senior oil and gas industry source familiar with the project. The investment platform is to be run as a joint project between ADNOC and the Abu Dhabi state-owned holding company, ADQ (formerly known as the Abu Dhabi Developmental Holding Company) and will oversee the development of projects in the planned Ruwais Derivatives Park. Although ADNOC has not made public the breakdown of where all of the funding is to come from, ADNOC and ADQ together will hold a 60 stake in the project.

That the ADQ has any money at all for such an investment, or indeed for anything at all, is surprising, given that less than two months ago it was in urgent talks to raise a loan of “at least $3 billion,” according to various reports. “ADQ’s attempts to put together a syndicate of banks did not go well and yet here it is with investment funding, at a time when the broader deal with China is moving forward,” he said. “There are no public statements that China is involved in the funding, of course, but it is fair to say that if ADQ or ADNOC had asked China for funding for the investment platform then China would have given it,” he concluded. – Full article

Insect apocalypse? Not so fast, at least in North America

By Charles Rotter | Watts Up With That? | August 12, 2020

In recent years, the notion of an insect apocalypse has become a hot topic in the conservation science community and has captured the public’s attention. Scientists who warn that this catastrophe is unfolding assert that arthropods – a large category of invertebrates that includes insects – are rapidly declining, perhaps signaling a general collapse of ecosystems across the world.

Matthew D. Moran, Hendrix College

Starting around the year 2000, and more frequently since 2017, researchers have documented large population declines among moths, beetles, bees, butterflies and many other insect types. If verified, this trend would be of serious concern, especially considering that insects are important animals in almost all terrestrial environments.

But in a newly published study that I co-authored with 11 colleagues, we reviewed over 5,000 sets of data on arthropods across North America, covering thousands of species and dozens of habitats over decades of time. We found, in essence, no change in population sizes.

These results don’t mean that insects are fine. Indeed, I believe there is good evidence that some species of insects are in decline and in danger of extinction. But our findings indicate that overall, the idea of large-scale insect declines remains an open question. […]

We are confident in our analysis and our conclusion, but a more important question is why our results are so different from those of other recent studies. I see two potential explanations: location and publication bias.

As I have noted, most insect decline papers have come from European data. Indeed, Europe has better and more extensive long-term data than other parts of the world. It is also one of the most densely populated parts of the world – three times higher than North America.

Moreover, almost all of Europe’s land has been modified for human use. Agriculture is widespread and intense, and cities and suburban areas cover large swaths of the landscape. So perhaps it is unsurprising that Europe has also lost a larger proportion of its wild creatures compared to North America.

Publication bias is not about dishonesty or false results. It refers to the idea that more dramatic results are more publishable. Reviewers and journals are more likely to be interested in species that are disappearing than in species that show no change over time.

The result is that over time, declining species can become overrepresented in the literature. Then, when scholars go looking for papers on animal populations, declines are predominantly what they find. … Full article