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Current News and Analysis

Yemeni Houthi fighters foil Saudi-backed militiamen’s push for Hudaydah, inflict losses

Press TV – December 18, 2018

Yemeni Houthi Ansarullah movement says army soldiers and allied fighters from popular committees have managed to frustrate a large-scale offensive by Saudi-sponsored militiamen loyal to Yemen’s former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi in Hudaydah, hours after a UN-brokered ceasefire started at midnight in the strategic port city.

Ansarullah, in a statement released on Tuesday, said Yemeni troops and their allies engaged in fierce clashes with Saudi mercenaries in the Hays district of the province, leaving scores of them killed and injured, Yemen’s Arabic-language al-Masirah television network reported. … Full article

Palestinian youth run over by Israeli settler in Bethlehem

Ma’an – December 18, 2018

BETHLEHEM – A Palestinian youth sustained wounds, on Monday evening, after being run over by an Israeli settler east of the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem, in the southern occupied West Bank.

Locals told Ma’an that 19-year-old Muhammed Mahmoud Odeh Ghazal, from the Kisan village, east of Bethlehem, was run over by an Israeli settler while walking on the main road near the al-Minya village crossroads.

Al -Minya is adjacent to the illegal Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Amos.

Ghazal was transferred to the Beit Jala Governmental hospital for treatment, where he was reported to have sustained bruises and multiple injuries across his body. … Full article

Armed Israeli settlers raid Saint Saba Monastery near Bethlehem

Ma’an – December 18, 2018

BETHLEHEM – Hundreds of armed Israeli settlers raided Saint Saba Monastery (Mar Saba) area, near the al-Ubeidiya village east of the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem, on predawn Tuesday.

Security sources told the Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa News Agency that hundreds of armed Israeli settlers raided the Greek Orthodox monastery area and performed religious rituals, under armed security by Israeli soldiers.

Locals report that this is the first time that Israeli settlers have raided the Saint Saba Monastery, located 15 kilometers from Bethlehem City.

The monastery is considered one of the oldest inhabited monasteries in the world.

The raid came in time as many Palestinian Christians had headed to the monastery, late Monday and overnight, to perform prayers at the church inside the monastery to celebrate Saint Saba’s Feast.

Australia Announces Moving its Embassy to Jerusalem: Is there any Surprise?

By James ONeill – New Eastern Outlook – 18.12.2018

When the current Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison floated the idea that Australia might move its Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, it was widely suggested that this was an attempt to curry favour with the relatively large (12%) Jewish population in the electorate where a by-election was being held.

Following the government’s humiliating defeat in an electorate it had held for more than a century, the idea was expected to die. That possibility was reinforced by the widespread criticism that followed the prime minister’s announcement. That criticism was couched almost solely in terms of the damage such a move would do to Australia’s relationships with its near neighbours such as Indonesia.

Supporters of the Prime Minister also argued that moving the embassy to Jerusalem would enhance progress in the “two state solution” to the problem between Israel and the Palestinians.

More recently however, the Australian cabinet has approved the idea that the embassy should be moved, but not immediately. The delay was purportedly on cost grounds, financial cost that is, not reputational.

Almost completely missing from news bulletins and mainstream media analysis are the arguably far more important elements in the Tel Aviv – Jerusalem equation. … continue

Let’s Boycott Israel and Its Friends

If you want change, begin to play hardball

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • December 18, 2018

In his recent article “Averting World Conflict with China” Ron Unz has come up with an intriguing suggestion for the Chinese government to turn the tables on the December 1st arrest of Meng Wanzhou in Canada. Canada detained Mrs. Meng, CFO of the world’s largest telecoms equipment manufacturer Huawei, at the request of the United States so she could be extradited to New York to face charges that she and her company had violated U.S. sanctions on Iran. The sanctions in question had been imposed unilaterally by Washington and it is widely believed that the Trump Administration is sending a signal that when the ban on purchasing oil from Iran comes into full effect in May there will be no excuses accepted from any country that is unwilling to comply with the U.S. government’s demands. Washington will exercise universal jurisdiction over those who violate its sanctions, meaning that foreign officials and heads of corporations that continue to deal with Iran can be arrested when traveling internationally and will be extradited to be tried in American courts.

There is, of course, a considerable downside to arresting a top executive of a leading foreign corporation from a country that is a major U.S. trading partner and which also, inter alia, holds a considerable portion of the U.S. national debt. … continue

Zarif blasts Netanyahu for ‘boasting of offensive missiles’

Press TV – December 18, 2018

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has blasted the hawkish Israeli premier for openly boasting of the regime’s “offensive missiles,” saying such a warmonger is in no position to voice “concerns” about Tehran’s defensive missile program.

Zarif was reacting Tuesday to Benjamin Netanyahu’s comments, who said a day earlier that the regime was developing missiles capable of hitting any target in the Middle East region.

Netanyahu also said the regime was working on weapons systems with “special capabilities that no other country has,” adding, “This is the offensive power of Israel which is very important for us in all sectors.”

In his tweet, Zarif wrote, “First, Netanyahu stands next to nuclear BOMB factory and threatens Iran with annihilation. Now, he openly boasts about his “OFFENSIVE” missiles that can reach anywhere.”

The minister has in fact made a reference to Netanyahu’s visit in August to the regime secretive Dimona nuclear weapons facility, from where he threatened Iran with a nuclear attack.

That threat drew strong criticisms from Tehran, which wrote to the United Nations, calling on the world body to condemn Israel and bring the regime’s atomic weapons program under its supervision.

Netanyahu’s latest comments come days after the hawkish prime minister said Israel was prepared to launch attacks inside Iran if its survival was at stake.

The Iranian foreign minister further pointed to the hype created by the Western states over Tehran’s latest test of a conventional ballistic missile and said the Israeli premier “whines about Iran’s Deterrent and DEFENSIVE missiles, and the West parrots his “concerns.”” … Full article

Europeans refusing fuel to Iranian aircraft: Official

Press TV – December 18, 2018

Iran’s airspace remains open to all international flights, including US airliners, but most European countries refuse fuel to Iranian planes, an official says.

“Iran’s sky is open to all countries, except Israel,” head of the Iranian Civil Aviation Organization (CAO) Ali Abedzadeh said.

Currently, American airplanes are also passing through the Iranian sky and Iran has not imposed restrictions on any country, the official said. Likewise, no country has put any restrictions on the passage of Iranian planes.

However, “unfortunately, most European countries are refusing to supply fuel to Iranian aircraft and this creates problems for us, for which we have plans to overcome,” Abedzadeh said. … continue

US Sanctions Against Iran

By Linh Dinh • Unz Review • December 18, 2018

Last month, I was interviewed by Jamejam Daily, an Iranian newspaper.continue

Goldman Sachs faces criminal charges in Malaysia for helping billions vanish from state fund

RT | December 18, 2018

Malaysia filed criminal charges against Goldman Sachs and two ex-bankers over the multi-billion dollar looting of state fund, 1MDB. The US bank denies the accusation, claiming it was deceived by the previous Malaysian government.

The subsidiaries of the Wall Street banking giant and its former key employees, ex-chairman of Goldman’s South East Asia, Tim Leissner, and ex-managing director, Roger Ng, are accused of giving false statements when helping to arrange bonds for 1MDB, Malaysia’s Attorney General Tommy Thomas announced on Monday.

Malaysia says the accused wanted to misappropriate $2.7 billion from $6.5 billion in bonds, issued by 1MDB and underwritten by Goldman Sachs, in three separate offerings between 2012 and 2013. … continue

Integrity Initiative: The Times Meets Ukrainian Kidnappers, Propaganda Follows

By Kit Klarenberg – Sputnik – 18.12.2018

Among the bombshell leaked documents exposing the internal workings and activities of the shadowy Institute for Statecraft – the front ‘charity’ behind Integrity Initiative – is a file dating to July 2016, detailing how the organization facilitated a visit of Ukrainian Reserve Officers to the UK, an effort bankrolled by the Ministry of Defence. … continue

Liberals Who Heckled Florida AG Bondi Got $500K From Soros-Linked Firm – Reports

Sputnik – 18.12.2018

George Soros is known for championing liberal causes across the globe, an effort that had sparked backlash in his native Hungary. Recent reports hint that Soros’ massive grants are used by groups for questionable purposes, such as digging for evidence of the so far unproved Russia-Trump collusion or verbally attacking Trump allies.

Left-wing activists that booed Florida Attorney General and GOP member, Pam Bondi, out of a Florida movie theatre in June received $500,000 from a civil society group financed by George Soros, The Daily Caller reported.

According to the tax forms seen by the news outlet, the Open Society Policy Center awarded a half-a-million-dollar grant to Organize Florida, a non-profit advocating democracy and social justice, to “support policy advocacy”.

A group of activists hounded Bondi, a long-time Donald Trump ally, at a screening of a documentary about children’s TV host Mister Rogers, questioning her views on healthcare and immigration. She was filmed leaving the venue without confronting the protesters.

One of the activists was heard yelling: “What would Mr. Rogers think about you and your legacy in Florida? Taking away health insurance from people with pre-existing conditions, Pam Bondi! Shame on you!”

One of the hecklers spit on her head, the Attorney General said but conceded that this could have been unintentional, given that the protester was “yelling so loud that he was spewing out of his mouth”.

A New York Times report said in November that George Soros had indirectly channeled money to the investigator who compiled a dossier on the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential vote and Trump-Russia collusion. … Full article

Christopher Steele Admits He Was Hired To Help Hillary Challenge 2016 Election

By Tyler Durden – Zero Hedge – 12/17/2018

Former UK spy Christopher Steele admitted in a London court that he was hired to help Hillary Clinton contest the results of the 2016 election in case Trump won, according to the Washington Times.

Steele assembled an anti-Trump “dossier” of opposition research investigative firm Fusion GPS, which was in turn hired by DNC law firm Perkins Coie LLP. The document used “a senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure,” and “a former top level intelligence officer still active in the Kremlin,” according to Vanity FairIn other words, Hillary Clinton – through Steele and other intermediaries – was working with Russians against Donald Trump. … continue

Don’t Laugh – It’s Giving Putin What He Wants

By Caitlin JOHNSTONE | Medium | December 15, 2018

The BBC has published an article titled “How Putin’s Russia turned humour into a weapon” about the Kremlin’s latest addition to its horrifying deadly hybrid warfare arsenal: comedy.

The article is authored by Olga Robinson, whom the BBC, unhindered by any trace of self-awareness, has titled “Senior Journalist (Disinformation)”. Robinson demonstrates the qualifications and acumen which earned her that title by warning the BBC’s audience that the Kremlin has been using humor to dismiss and ridicule accusations that have been leveled against it by western governments, a “form of trolling” that she reports is designed to “deliberately lower the level of discussion”. … continue

Just like Color Revolutions, Cyber Conflicts can Still Get People Killed

By Martin Berger – New Eastern Outlook – 18.12.2018

As it has been clearly demonstrated by the history of mankind, whenever new weapons are invented, they would invariably give an edge to the most developed state at of the era, allowing it to pursue further expansion of its dominance on the international stage.

Immediately after the creation of nuclear weapons, they were immediately tested in the course of monstrous attacks on peaceful citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the closing phases of the Second World War. Those tested resulted in a massive euphoria among the American ruling elites that immediately decided to bomb one of their allies in this war, namely the USSR back into the stone age. However, by the time the United States accumulated a nuclear arsenal sufficient for the destruction of the USSR, Moscow managed to build its own nukes at the cost of heroic efforts of its people, which allowed Russia’s population to escape a terrible fate.

In recent decades, the broad possibilities of the Internet and various media platforms allowed Washington to take down those states that would try to pursue a policy of their own through the use of so-called “color revolutions.” This meddling resulted in the entire Middle East getting submerged in a political chaos, which created preconditions for a number of armed conflicts in the course of which hundreds of thousands of civilians lost their lives. It goes without saying, of course, that the military-industrial complex of the United States and its NATO allies received super-profits from those by increasing their arms sales. … continue

UK psyops bigwig pushed plan to ‘mine Sevastopol Bay’ during 2014 Crimea crisis – leaked documents

RT | December 17, 2018

In the midst of the Crimean crisis, a special adviser to the UK House of Commons Defence Committee had a suggestion for Kiev – to lay mines in Sevastopol Bay, leaked documents have revealed. … continue

Israeli politician calls for PA President to be killed

MEMO | December 17, 2018

A member of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, called on Sunday for the President of the Palestinian Authority to have his head “chopped off”. Oren Hazzan MK made the comment about Mahmoud Abbas, as well as his Deputy, Mahmoud Al-Aloul, during a march held by illegal settlers in Jerusalem, Maan News Agency has reported.

Dozens of settlers gathered in and around Jerusalem’s Old City chanting racist slogans against Abbas and calling for him to be killed. In the evening, they gathered outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s house and burnt pictures of Abbas. Banners held by the settlers called for the PA leader’s assassination.

“We call for the complete approval of the settlements in Ofra and Amona,” Hazzan declared. Addressing his remarks to government ministers, he added, “We want to go back to Givaat. Stop evading your responsibility. We want to have the head of Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] and his deputy chopped off. The life of one of our soldiers is equal to the life of 100 terrorists. We want all the terrorists to be executed.”

Many Israeli officials refer to the Palestinians as “terrorists” whether or not they are involved in legitimate resistance activities.

Last week, Israeli settlers carried out attacks and instigated clashes with Palestinians in different areas across the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem. On most occasions, the heavily armed settlers are protected by Israeli soldiers and police officers when they gather for demonstrations and terrorist attacks on Palestinians and their homes.

Yair Netanyahu, Son of Israeli PM, Gets Brief Ban on Facebook

Palestine Chronicle | December 17, 2018

Facebook has briefly blocked the page of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s son, Yair after he shared previously banned content calling for “all Muslims [to] leave” Israel.

In a message posted Thursday on his Facebook page, after the latest flare-up in violence saw at least five Palestinians and three Israelis, including two soldiers, killed in recent days, Yair Netanyahu had called for the expulsion of Palestinians.

The prime minister’s son wrote: “Do you know where there are no attacks? In Iceland and in Japan where coincidentally there are no Muslims.”

In another post, he wrote that there were only two possible solutions for peace, either “all Jews leave [Israel] or all Muslims leave”.

“I prefer the second option,” added the 27-year-old, who has faced criticism of being a grown man living in the prime minister’s residence despite having no official role and benefitting from a bodyguard, a driver, and other perks.

Facebook deleted Yair Netanyahu’s posts, in which he called for “avenging the deaths” of the two Israeli soldiers. … continue

Truth is stranger than fiction: 3 days in the West Bank

By Kathryn Shihadah | If Americans Knew | December 17, 2018

Elderly women, families, children, and of course young men in the occupied Palestinian territories are regularly treated with brutality by Israeli forces. International laws are in place to protect vulnerable populations, but Israel ignores such laws – and gets away with it.

Simple, common decency ought to elicit restraint on the part of the occupier, but does not.

These very brief stories are snapshots of Israeli cruelty between December 15 and 17, 3 days out of the 50+ years of violent occupation which the United States endorses and supports to the tune of over $10 million a day. … continue

What Does Israel ‘Occupy’?

By Blake Alcott | Palestine Chronicle | December 17, 2018

In what is written and said about Israel and Palestine the word ‘occupation’ is ubiquitous. But what territory, exactly, is the ethnocratic state occupying? Is it just the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, or all of Palestine?

Everybody agrees that the territories Israel took over in 1967 are occupied. However, both pro-Palestinians and liberal Zionists routinely write of ‘the Occupation’ or ‘occupied Palestine’ to refer to these territories only. The demeaning acronym ‘OPT’ means only the West Bank and Gaza Strip only. But if those territories are ‘occupied’, then by the same token so is the 80% of historic Palestine called ‘Israel’. All of Palestine has been taken over.

When we demand freedom ‘from the river to the sea’ what are we demanding other than an end to rule, control, and occupation by a non-indigenous Power? When Palestinians use the term ihtilal they always distinguish between the ‘1948 occupation’ and the ‘1967 occupation’. Why, then, does the international discourse in Western languages ignore the 1948 occupation, in denial of the fact that Israel in 1948 merely took over from the British-Mandate occupation of 1917-1948?

Palestine was a British colony, and all colonies by definition are occupied by the colonial Power. And indeed, when we correctly and routinely call Britain’s successor Israel a ‘settler-colony’ we are not just referring to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Especially since it is thoroughly supported by pro-Zionist forces outside of historic Palestine, all of Palestine is now a settler-colony and thus occupied from the river to the sea. And if the settler-colonialist paradigm is accurate, all non-indigenous Israelis are ‘settlers’, not just those in the West Bank. If we talk of boycotting ‘settlement goods’, that should mean all Israeli goods.

Does this matter? Yes: If it is only the West Bank and Gaza Strip that are occupied, then the rest of Palestine ‘within the Green Line’, is not occupied, and if it is not occupied, what is it then? It can then only be rightfully controlled by Israel, for if you are not ‘occupying’ a territory, it must be yours. Using the term limited to the 1967 occupation thus implies that the Europeans who colonized Palestine under British protection for thirty years are the rightful owners of the land of Palestine. The basic premise of Zionism is conceded.

That is, withholding the epithet ‘occupation’ from today’s Israel normalizes the Zionist Entity’s presence; it pulls the rug out from underneath Palestinian claims to political rights in Palestine. As Colonial Minister Churchill and High Commissioner Samuel wrote in their pathbreaking 1922 White Paper on the Palestine question, one worldwide outside ethno-religious group is in Palestine “by right and not on sufferance” and thus cannot be an Occupier. … continue

Marc Lamont Hill’s Detractors are the True Anti-Semites

By Susan Abulhawa | CounterPunch | December 17, 2018

Temple University’s administration announced the unsurprising news that it has found no grounds to punish or investigate Professor Marc Lamont Hill for his speech at the United Nations on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Yet, the university’s Board of Trustees felt compelled, nonetheless, to issue a statement further maligning Dr Hill, albeit indirectly this time, by quoting the slanderous language of others against him.

Remarkably, the Board’s statement implicitly acknowledges there was nothing inherently offensive in Dr Hill’s speech. Rather, the university’s objection lies in the way “many regard[ed]” it and how it was “widely perceived” or “broadly criticized.” In essence, the university was unable to reasonably rebuke what was ultimately a call for justice and freedom for the Palestinian people, the colonized indigenous nation that has continuously inhabited the land between the River Jordan and Mediterranean Sea for millennia. It is therefore stunning and unprecedented that a university would hold its professor responsible not for his words, but for the ways in which others interpret them. … continue

Texas school pathologist files lawsuit after being denied work for refusing to sign pro-Israel oath

RT | December 17, 2018

A Texas elementary school speech pathologist has filed a federal lawsuit after her school district refused to renew her contract unless she signed a pro-Israel oath.

Bahia Amawi has worked for the Pflugerville Independent School District since 2009 on a contract basis. Each year when it came to the time to renew her contract, the school district did so. Amawi always signed the correct documents, and had another year of guaranteed employment.

But this year, in August, there was a new addition to the contract papers. That addition was an oath which Amawi was being asked to sign, promising that she “will not boycott Israel during the term of the contract” and will refrain from any action “that is intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or limit commercial relations with Israel, or with a person or entity doing business in Israel or in an Israel-controlled territory.”

That was a problem for Amawi, who, along with her family, refrains from buying goods from Israeli companies in support of the global boycott to end Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

But aside from that, Amawi noted that the very fact that this was the only oath she was being asked to sign – and it was to do with Israel – was extremely strange. … continue

Americans are waking up to Israel’s brutal and discriminatory tactics

With opinion now evenly split between those who favour a one or two-state solution, many in the US are turning their attention to the systemic inequities faced by Palestinians

By Jonathon Cook | The National | December 17, 2018

Two years of Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu as a Middle East peacemaking team appear to be having a transformative effect – and in ways that will please neither of them.

The American public is now evenly split between those who want a two-state solution and those who prefer a single state, shared by Israelis and Palestinians, according to a survey published last week by the University of Maryland.

And if a Palestinian state is off the table – as a growing number of analysts of the region conclude, given Israel’s intransigence and the endless postponement of Mr Trump’s peace plan – then support for one state rises steeply, to nearly two-thirds of Americans. … continue

British minister ‘misled Parliament’ over state-funded NGO ‘smearing’ Corbyn, Labour MP says

RT | December 17, 2018

A Labour MP has said that Foreign Office minister Alan Duncan chose to ‘bury his head in the sand’ as he denied allegations that state funds granted to a shadowy ‘disinformation-fighting charity’ were used to attack Jeremy Corbyn.

“There is a real concern” that Duncan “was misleading Parliament whether that was wittingly or unwittingly,” Chris Williamson said on Sunday.

He was commenting on the official’s response to a question posed earlier by another Labour MP, Emily Thornberry, about government funding for the controversial Scotland-based ‘charitable body,’ the Institute for Statecraft (IfS).

Labour politicians demanded an official probe into the organization, insisting it participated in a campaign to “smear” the party and its leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Duncan, who serves as Minister of State for Europe and the Americas, said he had “established the facts” concerning the NGO and was “satisfied that our money does not go towards funding any kind of UK domestic activity.”

The Institute for Statecraft came under fire when Sunday Mail reported that the think tank used its ‘Integrity Initiative’ project to promote newspaper articles denouncing Labour chief Jeremy Corbyn as a “useful idiot” whose views “helped the Kremlin cause.” The project styles its mission as “revealing and combating propaganda and disinformation.”

In practice, nearly all materials published on its website are focused on fighting so-called ‘Russian propaganda.’

Citing the organization’s leaked documents, the Sunday Mail said that IfS received £2 million from the Foreign Office. The paper also reported that the charity itself is, in fact, registered at a derelict rural mill. … continue

FBI, CIA Told WaPo They Doubted Key Allegation In Steele Dossier

By Tyler Durden – Zero Hedge – 12/17/2018

FBI and CIA sources told a Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter that they didn’t believe a key claim contained in the “Steele Dossier,” the document the Obama FBI relied on to obtain a surveillance warrant on a member of the Trump campaign.

The Post‘s Greg Miller told an audience at an October event that the FBI and CIA did not believe that former longtime Trump attorney Michael Cohen visited Prague during the 2016 election to pay off Russia-linked hackers who stole emails from key Democrats, reports the Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross.

“We’ve talked to sources at the FBI and the CIA and elsewhere — they don’t believe that ever happened,” said Miller during the October event which aired Saturday on C-SPAN.

We literally spent weeks and months trying to run down… there’s an assertion in there that Michael Cohen went to Prague to settle payments that were needed at the end of the campaign. We sent reporters to every hotel in Prague, to all over the place trying to – just to try to figure out if he was ever there, and came away empty. -Greg Miller

Ross notes that WaPo somehow failed to report this information, nor did Miller include this tidbit of narrative-killing information in his recent book, “The Apprentice: Trump, Russia, and the Subversion of American Democracy.” … Full article

Afghan Taliban say will hold fresh talks with US officials in UAE on Monday

Press TV – December 17, 2018

The Afghan Taliban militant group says it is set to hold a fresh round of talks with US officials this time in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), despite earlier reports that suggested the meeting would take place in neighboring Pakistan.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a Twitter post that delegates from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the UAE will also attend Monday’s discussions.

The militant group has already held two meetings with US special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in Qatar. … continue

62 people killed in US airstrikes against purported militant positions in Somalia

Press TV – December 17, 2018

The US has carried out fresh airstrikes in Somalia, killing dozens of purported militants there as Washington steps up its military presence in Africa.

US African Command (AFRICOM) said on Monday it reportedly had killed 62 militants in six air strikes on Saturday and Sunday in the vicinity of Gandarsh in Somalia’s south-central Banaadir Province. … Full article

US Scrapped Arctic Drills Fearing Only Russia Can Save Its Icebreaker – Official

Sputnik – 17.12.2018

While Russia possesses dozens of icebreakers, including heavy types for polar duty in the Arctic and Antarctica, the US has only two such ships, among them only one heavy icebreaker, the Polar Star, with an ever-dwindling service life.

The US Coast Guard at one point decided not to conduct exercises in the Arctic due to fears that the Polar Star, the US’ only heavy icebreaker, could break down and the American side would have to seek help from Russia, according to former Coast Guard commandant Paul Zukunft.

He was cited by Business Insider as saying that when he was the commandant, the National Security Council notified him of their plans to send the Polar Star through the Northern Sea Route and carry out a freedom of navigation drill.

“I said, ‘Au contraire, it’s a 40-year-old ship. We’re cannibalizing parts off its sister ship just to keep this thing running, and I can’t guarantee you that it won’t have a catastrophic engineering casualty as it’s doing a freedom of navigation exercise, and now I’ve got to call on Russia to pull me out of harm’s way. So this is not the time to do it”, Zukunft pointed out. … continue

Underwater VIDEO Reveals HUGE Damage to ‘Torn Apart’ Norwegian Frigate

Sputnik – December 17, 2018

The inexplicable collision involving the frigate KNM Helge Ingstad returning from NATO naval drills has set the Norwegian Navy back billions of kronor, while the Maltese-flagged and Greek-owned oil tanker is expected to return to service by the end of December.

Norway’s Defence Ministry has released underwater footage showing, for the first time, the extent of the damage to its frigate KNM Helge Ingstad, which sank after colliding with an oil tanker erroneously taken for an immobile object.

The footage, uploaded to Dropbox due to temporary website failures, was taken by a marine diving unit (MDK) normally used for planting and disarming underwater mines, ammunition and bombs. Its members have been diving around the mostly sunken wreckage of the frigate for weeks, removing ammunition, weapons and other hazardous material. … continue

Israeli Court Sentences Mother of A Palestinian, Killed By The Army, To Eleven Months, For “Incitement”

IMEMC News – December 16, 2018

An Israeli court sentenced, on Sunday morning, the mother of a Palestinian, who was killed by the army last year, to eleven months in prison for what the military prosecution described as “incitement on social media.”

Attorney Mohammad Mahmoud of the Palestinian Detainees’ Committee, said the court sentenced Susan Abu Ghannam to eleven months in prison, for posting statements on Facebook, after the death of her son.

The court deemed the posts as incitement, and passed its sentence on the woman, from at-Tur neighborhood, east of Jerusalem’s Old City.

She was taken prisoner last August, after dozens of soldiers and officers invaded her home, and conducted violent searches, leading to damage.

It is worth mentioning that Suzan’s son, Mohammad Hasan Abu Ghannam, 20, was killed on by Israeli soldiers, July 21, 2017, during protests that took place after the army invaded at-Tour neighborhood, in East Jerusalem.

Eyewitnesses said that the soldiers surrounded the Palestinian after shooting him, and that he bled to death when the army prevented Palestinian medics from approaching him.

New Israeli bill banning Palestine flag in protests

Palestine Information Center – December 16, 2018

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM – Israel’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation is scheduled to discuss a new bill imposing a one-year prison sentence on individuals who raise Palestinian flags during demonstrations, according to Haaretz.

Drafted by MK Anat Berko, the bill stipulates that any gathering of at least of three people raising the flag of a state or an entity that is not friend with Israel or that prevents the raising of the flag of Israel will be considered illegal. Anyone who participates in a prohibited gathering would be subjected to up to a year in prison.

The bill defines the states that are not friends with Israel as the “states who do not recognize Israel as a Jewish and democratic state”.

Berko, in her justification, wrote that Israel is a democratic state which allows its citizens to protest against different issues; however, the new bill draws a red line between the legal protest and the protest where the flags of the countries that do not recognize Israel are raised.

Hebron Schools Gassed

International Solidarity Movement | December 16, 2018

Hebron, occupied Palestine – At 1pm, 4 Israeli occupation soldiers entered Salaymeh neighbourhood, Hebron.

Activists were present from 12:30 pm and did not witness any stones thrown or other provocation.

The soldiers fired 21 tear gas rounds in under 5 minutes into the street outside the 3 schools and into two schoolyards. […]

During this time the soldiers also threw three concussion grenades over a wall into the Hebron School. They were unable to see who was on the other side of the wall or where they were at the time.

There was no threat to the soldiers or anyone else at the time yet the soldiers continued to fire tear gas into the neighbourhood even the streets were completely empty of people. They seemed to stop only when they had run out of tear gas.

The tear gas spread through the neighbourhood into schools and residential buildings along the streets where families live. It was a still afternoon and the tear gas stayed in the immediate area and dispersed very slowly continuing to effect local residents. … Full article

Palestine: Two schools evacuated as Israeli gunman open fires outside

MEMO | December 16, 2018

An Israeli settler opened fire on Sunday outside two schools in the West Bank, as other settlers rampaged through the street under the protection of Israeli forces, reports Wafa News Agency. The schools are at the entrance to the village of al-Lubban al-Sharqiya, to the south of Nablus in the West Bank.

The shooting terrified the students and teachers of the two schools, and were forced to leave the schools to a safe haven.

Ibrahim Emran, the principal at one of the schools, told Wafa that settlers from the illegal Israeli settlement of Yitzhar attacked the school under the protection of the Israeli military, and that one of the settlers shot a bullet in the air to terrify the students. Emran said the school was forced to evacuate its students to keep them safe.

He added that the settlers also attacked civilian homes near the school, while soldiers fired rubber-coated bullets and gas bombs, prompting clashes between soldiers and local citizens.

Israeli sources claimed that the firing came in a response to a stoning attack on settlers’ vehicles passing at route 60, just near the entrance to the village where the schools are located.

Operation “Northern Shield” at the Israeli-Lebanese Border: Why Hassan Nasrallah Remains Silent

By Sayed Hasan | Resistance News, Unfiltered | December 16, 2018

The operation “Northern Shield” was launched with great fanfare by the Israeli occupier on December 4, allegedly aimed at “exposing and neutralizing the cross-border attack tunnels that Hezbollah dug from Lebanon to Israel”. Indeed, the Lebanese Resistance has repeatedly promised to no longer be on a defensive position in case of aggression or war, and carry the fighting inside occupied Palestine, or even to liberate Galilee. Spokesmen of the Israeli government ostensibly congratulated themselves on what they presented as thwarting the plans of the dreaded Hassan Nasrallah.

Israeli propaganda and its docile Western media relays presented the operation as a large-scale military offensive that would strike a huge blow to the Party of God, as if the Zionist entity had entered Lebanese territory (or was about to do so), whether on land or underground. A speech by the Hezbollah Secretary General was announced for the same day by the Israeli and Western media, which would have seemed to confirm the importance of the Israeli operation. And given Hezbollah’s silence, it was ultimately said that this silence was due to the shock in which the Lebanese Resistance found itself after this surprise operation that would have ruined its most secret plans.

But what is it all really about? First and foremost, it is ridiculous to equate drilling and excavation work taking place inside occupied Palestine, and not encroaching in any way on Lebanese territory, with some kind of offensive, or even a military operation. Heavy construction, earthworks and fortification work on the northern border of Israel have been conducted by the IDF since 2015, with the aim of creating a Maginot-kind line of defense against Hezbollah (to emphasize its anachronistic character, Al-Manar nicknamed it The Wall of Illusion).continue

Pro-Israel MPs flout NDP policy

By Yves Engler · December 16, 2018

Do New Democrat MPs who belong to the Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Group (CIIG) have carte blanche to flout party policy?

Last week CIIG executive member Murray Rankin participated in a press conference calling for a new round of Canadian sanctions on Iran. The Victoria MP joined CIIG chair  Michael Levitt, vice-chair David Sweet and executive member Anthony Housefather for an event led by former CIIG executive Irwin Cotler.

Rankin’s role in this anti-Iranian effort runs counter to the NDP’s opposition to illegal sanctions on Iran, call for Canada to re-establish diplomatic relations with that country and support for the 2015 “p5+1 nuclear deal”. (Justin Trudeau has failed to maintain  his election promise to restart diplomatic relations with Iran.)

Rankin’s departure from NDP policy takes place amidst the Donald Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and bid to force others to adhere to its illegal sanctions, threatening to sanction any country that buys Iranian oil. … continue

Fanning the Flames of Dissent: The Ruling Class Is Having Trouble with Its Israel-Palestine Narrative

By Jason Hirthler | American Herald Tribune | December 15, 2018

Recently, the White House hosted two Hanukkah celebrations attended by the president, first lady, and vice president. One can imagine the general bonhomie as the Trumps rubbed elbows with fellow billionaire Sheldon Adelson and other luminaries of the ‘special relationship’. Trump was cheered for his provocative move of the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, something many observers call a sea change in U.S. foreign policy. Of course, almost every recent president has publicly stated that Jerusalem is Israel’s proper capital. Trump was simply the first president to actually follow through on the implications of that position. … continue

US-Led Coalition Strike Near Hajin Results in 17 Civilian Casualties – Reports

Sputnik – 16.12.2018

A US-led coalition airstrike near the Syrian city of Hajin has killed at least 17 civilians, the Syrian broadcaster Ikhbariya reported on Sunday.

According to media reports, the airstrike targeted a Syrian village, Albu Khater, located to the south-east of the city of Hajin. In addition to the aforementioned death toll, two more civilians sustained injuries as a result of the strike.

Meanwhile, Syria’s al-Watan newspaper reported that women and children account for the majority of the casualties.

The US-led coalition is yet to comment on the reports. … Full article

Why the United States Has Not Won a Real War Since 1945

By Philip Giraldi | American Herald Tribune | December 16, 2018

If anyone is still wondering why the United States has not won a real war since 1945, I offer up the example of retired U.S. Army Colonel Wes Martin, who writes for Town Hall and reportedly also has appeared as an expert commentator on Fox. Town Hall is a purveyor of a certain type of “American conservatism.” It was founded by the Heritage Foundation on the principle that the United States is ordained by God as uber alles. Though it features many good writers and even genuine conservatives it occasionally goes off the rails. Its latest incarnation features an article entitled “Obama-loving country music star Tim McGraw partners with terror-sponsoring communists.” … continue

Canada to Pay Heavy Price for Trudeau’s Groupie Role in US Banditry Against China

By Finian CUNNINGHAM | Strategic Culture Foundation | 16.12.2018

You do have to wonder about the political savvy of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government. The furious fallout from China over the arrest of a senior telecoms executive is going to do severe damage to Canadian national interests. … continue