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UN call to withdraw ‘foreign troops’ from Moldova threatens Transnistria peace process – Moscow

RT | June 23, 2018

A UN resolution calling for withdrawal of “foreign troops” from Moldova might reignite the Transnistrian conflict, Moscow warns. Moldovan President Igor Dodon called the resolution a PR stunt of the democrats ahead of an election.

The resolution, calling for the “complete and unconditional withdrawal of foreign military forces” from Moldova was adopted by the UN General Assembly on Friday. The Moldova-sponsored document received a simple majority, with 63 countries voting for it, 15 against, and 82 abstaining.

Russia condemned the adoption of the resolution as a shortsighted move which could lead to a potential flashpoint between the unrecognized Transnistria Republic and Moldova, undermining the “fragile” reconciliation process.

The resolution targets a small contingent of Russian peacekeepers, which have been stationed in the breakaway region of Transnistria for over two decades. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, ethnic tensions in Moldova resulted in a brief but intense armed conflict in 1992. … continue

Joining Some Dots on the Skripal Case: Part 6 – Tying up the Loose Ends

By Rob Slane | The Blog Mire | June 23, 2018

… The British Government’s reckless and extraordinarily quick reaction to the case was, apart from being a travesty of the rule of law, one of the biggest clues that the official narrative was not true. If it were true, they could have took their time, acted calmly, and let the investigation run its course. Instead, what we got was a lawless, irrational and absurd response. It all smacked of a panicked reaction, and whilst it made no sense in terms of the story they sold us, it makes perfect sense if the truth was that they were desperate to prevent news getting out about who Skripal really was, what he had been up to, and how the poisoning might well be connected with that work. And indeed the D-notices they slapped on the reporting of that stuff, and of Mr Skripal’s connections to Christopher Steele and Pablo Miller, are further evidence that it is so. … Read full article

The Senate just gave the Pentagon an $82 billion boost. That’s more than Russia’s entire military budget.

Democrats will oppose anything Trump wants, unless it’s more money for the Pentagon.

By Eric Boehm | Reason | June 21, 2018

There are few bipartisan projects in Congress these days, but Republicans and Democrats have no trouble joining together to feed more money into the Pentagon’s gaping maw.

By a vote of 85-10 on Thursday morning, the Senate approved the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)—technically known as the “John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act” because you wouldn’t vote against something named after an American hero, right? It serves as the budget for the U.S. military, which this year is receiving $716 billion, an increase of $82 billion from last year. That increase was agreed upon in March as part of an overall two-year budget deal that smashed Obama-era spending caps and boosts military spending by $165 over the next two years. […]

To put the Pentagon’s $82 billion funding increase in perspective, consider that Russia’s entire military budget totals only $61 billion. China, which boasts the next most expensive military in the world after the United States, plans to spend about $175 billion this year.

Maybe the problem isn’t how much funding the military receives, but how the money it already gets is spent. Unfortunately, we don’t know much about that because the Pentagon has still not been subjected to a full scale audit, despite the fact that all federal agencies and departments were ordered to undergo mandatory audits in 1990. A preliminary audit of one office within the Pentagon found more than $800 million could not be located. Auditors said the Pentagon’s Defense Logistics Agency (DLA)—described as “the military’s Walmart” because it’s responsible for processing supplies and equipment—has financial management “so weak that its leaders and oversight bodies have no reliable way to track the huge sums it’s responsible for.” … Full article

What we can learn from the North Korea nuclear story

By Gunnar Westberg | International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War | June 23, 2018

The North Korea – USA nuclear crisis should teach us several lessons regarding nuclear weapons:

  • Nuclear weapons do not prevent nuclear proliferation.

The nuclear weapon states accepted in 1970 in the Nuclear Non-proliferation treaty, NPT. In this treaty these states agree to negotiate the complete disarmament of their nuclear weapons. They have completely disregarded this pledge and insist that they must retain nuclear weapons in order to prevent other countries from acquiring them. The North Korea example shows us that this does not work.

  • Nuclear weapons are contagious.

The nuclear weapons states also insist, contrary to their pledge in the NPT, that they must keep their nukes “for their own security”. This provides an excuse for other states to acquire them. A small country such as North Korea, DPRK, has stronger reasons to build nuclear weapons than a superpower such as USA, which in a world without nuclear weapons would have an unchallenged military dominance. … continue

Army Shoots A Young Man Near Bethlehem

IMEMC News – June 23, 2018

Israeli soldiers shot, Saturday, a young Palestinian man at the Container Military roadblock, north of Bethlehem, in the occupied West bank.

The soldiers shot the young man with a live round in his leg and prevented Palestinian medics from even approaching them.

His identity, and the reason for shooting him, remain unknown, especially since the soldiers closed the overcrowded military roadblock, causing a huge traffic jam.

The Israeli army only said that the man, 40, reportedly stepped out of a car, and started walking towards the soldiers, before they shot him.

Israeli Ynet News said the “roadblock is only for vehicles, not for pedestrians,” and claimed that the soldiers “followed rules of engagement, because he kept walking towards their kiosk.”

It added that the wounded Palestinian is being interrogated by the “Border Police.”

Presbyterian Church Confronts US Legislation Targeting BDS

IMEMC News & Agencies | June 23, 2018

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States approved, during its meeting last week in St. Louis, Missouri, by unanimous consent, an action opposing congressional and state anti-BDS (Boycott, Divest, and Sanction) laws, according to a press release.

According to WAFA, the newly approved policy directs the Presbyterian Church (USA) to “oppose specific US legislation to suppress measures of economic witness…such as ‘The Israel Anti-Boycott Act’.” The action further instructs the church to join in legislation opposing state anti-BDS laws through the filing of amicus curiae briefs, in coalition with other religious and human rights groups. … continue

Hamas: Our people will bury US plans under their feet

Palestine Information Center – June 23, 2018

GAZA – The Hamas Movement has said that the massive presence of citizens in the March of Return rallies on Friday, June 22, has reflected that the popular struggle in Gaza will continue until all goals are achieved.

In a press release, Hamas spokesman Hazem Qasem said the ongoing popular uprising on the Gaza border aims to entrench the Palestinian people’s right to return to every part of their land, including Jerusalem, and their right to live in dignity and with no blockade.

“Such ongoing rallies prove that the [Israeli] occupation’s attempts to terrorize our people into not participating in them have failed,” Qasem affirmed, pointing to the exposure of protesters to aerial attacks during the past week.

“These marches have sent a message to the US administration, which is trying to impose plans or projects aimed at liquidating the Palestinian cause, that our revolutionary people on the border will bury such schemes under their feet and will not allow any party to detract from their rights,” he underlined.

Hassan Nasrallah: Al-Quds will be returned to its rightful owners

Speech by Hezbollah Secretary General Sayed Hassan Nasrallah on June 8, 2018, on the occasion of the International Day of Al-Quds (Jerusalem).

Translation by Sayed Hasan

… on this International Day of Al-Quds (Jerusalem), I want to say to the Israelis, to the Palestinians and to the peoples of the world: just like we believe firmly, decisively and irrevocably, that Al-Quds and Palestine are just causes, we firmly believe, basing ourselves on our faith, on the Koran, on our doctrine, on the lessons, experiences and principles of History, and on our prediction of the future, that Al-Quds will be returned to its rightful owners, and that Palestine will be (completely) liberated. And Netanyahu’s sophistry will be to no avail.

Yesterday, Netanyahu said that Imam Khamenei wants to enrich uranium again in order to make a nuclear weapon and kill 6 million Jews in occupied Palestine. These are lies. First, Iran does not seek the nuclear bomb, and secondly, no one wants to kill 6 million Jews in occupied Palestine.

What we say, what the Palestinian people and the Arab and Muslim peoples say, and even what Islam says — I can say that this is the view of Islam — and what the Resistance says is this: we do not want to kill, we do not want to destroy, we do not want to throw (or drown) anyone in the sea. We tell you in a very civilized manner: embark in your ships, embark on your planes, and return to the countries from which you came. Regarding the (minority of) indigenous Jews, who are from Palestine, they are people of Palestine and they can stay there. As for the (Zionist) invaders, occupiers and settlers who came from all around the world, let them pack up their things and leave. This is the message of Islam, and this is the message of the Resistance. This is the message of the peoples of the region. … Full speech

United States demands that Japan stops buying oil from Iran – reports

Press TV – June 23, 2018

Washington has asked Tokyo to halt all crude purchases from Iran, insisting that its allies cease all trade with the country, according to Bloomberg.

The request was made during a meeting between US and Japanese officials in Tokyo this week, according to the media. No decision has been made yet, though, and talks will continue.

This means that Washington is taking a harder stance on Iran than it did in 2012. Six years ago, before the nuclear deal, the US demanded that its allies should reduce oil purchases from sanctioned Iran, rather than stop them completely.

Japan is Asia’s fourth-largest buyer of Iranian crude, which accounts for 5.3 percent of its oil consumption, or 172,000 barrels per day.

Refiners in Japan earlier said they could substitute Iranian oil with crude from other Middle Eastern countries, even though their plants are particularly compatible with crude from Iran.

Some analysts see the demand as a negotiating tactic before trade talks begin between the US and Japan.

“It could be that the US is initially demanding a big thing before offering Japan a way to go around it in negotiations,” Satoru Yoshida, a commodity analyst at Rakuten Securities told Bloomberg. “Even if the US is asking Japan to completely stop Iranian crude imports, which is a very high hurdle, it may lower its demand later.”

The Ups and Downs of Rebuilding Aleppo, Mosul

Veterans Today | June 23, 2018

Aleppo and Mosul, cities that endured some of the worst urban warfare in the 21st century, have quite different liberation stories, but they are alike in the way media treated them with oblivion once the post-war struggle began.

Both the Syrian city of Aleppo and Iraq’s Mosul found themselves gripped in fierce battles in late 2016. Syrian forces were trying to liberate the eastern part of Aleppo from militant groups to end the mortar shelling, which was killing civilians in the western half, and to begin rebuilding the war-ravaged districts of the city. An ambitious Russia-backed effort to evacuate civilians from the warzone set up humanitarian corridors. It was the US-backed Iraqi battle for Mosul, however, that captured the Western media’s favor as a heroic struggle to liberate civilians from Islamic State (IS, ISIS/ISIL), while the war in Aleppo was presented in a markedly different light. … continue

Colombian President-elect will not recognise Venezuela’s government, says to withdraw from UNASUR

Venezuelanalysis | June 21, 2018

Colombian President-elect Ivan Duque has vowed to not send an ambassador to Caracas upon assuming the presidency, claiming not to recognise the Venezuelan government in heated statements less than two weeks after his electoral victory. … continue

‘Everyday Censorship’ Proposed That Should Enrage Us All

21st Century Wire | June 22, 2018

When one of the creators of the Internet as we know it today (not you Al Gore!) voices their discontent with the latest overstep of power towards full throttle censorship, you know it’s serious business.

Tim Berners-Lee, best known for his work helping to create the World Wide Web, along with other Internet pioneers, have penned an open letter opposing the Members of European Parliament (MEPs) who voted earlier this week in favor of a plan to force publishers to automatically remove any content that appears to violate copyright.

The Independent reports this means “memes, mixes, sampling, and even reuse of news and parliamentary footage, will get caught up and deleted without warning.”

Publishers will be expected to monitor all their content uploads and check for copyright material and remove it immediately, and ostensibly by doing so automatically, as outlined in Article 13 of the proposal.

In the open letter asking MEPs to remove Article 13, the letter’s 57 signatories write:

“Article 13 takes an unprecedented step towards the transformation of the internet, from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users.”

Read more about this latest Internet censorship plan at The Independent…

Facebook, Twitter Shut Hezbollah-Linked Accounts – Reports

Sputnik – 23.06.2018

Facebook and Twitter accounts of a Hezbollah-affiliated news service covering the Syrian war were shut down on Friday without explanation.

Central Military Media accused the US-based websites of running an “anti-media campaign,” in a post on the Telegram messaging app. It said both accounts were closed without warning.

The agency shared links to its new profiles on Facebook, Twitter and several other social media platforms. Sputnik was unable to obtain comments from the two networks.

Hezbollah was established in the 1980s as a paramilitary and political organization originating in Lebanon’s Shiite population. The group aims to end Israel’s occupation of Lebanese territory.

Israel, has repeatedly expressed its opposition to the presence of Iranian and pro-Iranian forces and the Hezbollah movement in Syria. Earlier this year, Israel several times attacked what it called the Iranian forces’ positions in Syria, citing aggressive actions on the part of the Iranian-backed militia in the Golan Heights, annexed by the country from Syria.

US Refusal to Supply F-35s to Turkey Will Do Ankara Great Favor – General

Sputnik – June 23, 2018

Addressing the possible repercussions of Washington’s refusal to supply its F-35 fighter jets to Turkey, Beyazit Karatas, vice-chairman of the left-wing Turkish party Vatan, told Sputnik that Ankara should deal with the issue from the standpoint of its strategic interests.

Retired Turkish Air Force Major General Beyazit Karatas said that by “refusing to deliver the F-35 warplanes to Turkey, the US will do Ankara a really great favor.

“A decision to purchase American fighters will make the Turkish Air Force 100-percent dependent on the US and will impede the development of production of our domestic aircraft,” Karatas pointed out.

He stressed that such a deal “will boost the strength of the US global arms market and will prevent Turkey from independently running its own air force.”

“Perhaps, from an economic point of view this method is good, but we should remember that Turkish-American relations are currently not at the level that was in place before. Therefore, discussions about whether the F-35 is better than [Russia’s] Su-57 make no sense. Turkey needs to look at this issue from a strategic rather than a technical point of view,” Karatas concluded. … Full article

US-Backed Forces Claim to “Liberate” Yemenis, Instead Rape Detainees

By Randi Nord | Mint Press News | June 23, 2018

The so-called “liberators” in Yemen are sexually and physically torturing detainees at secret prisons. Survivors recall disturbing stories laden with gruesome interrogation tactics for extracting false confessions. Meanwhile, the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen attempts to portray themselves as the bearers of freedom and reason. … continue

Fresh Saudi airstrikes leave six civilians dead in northwestern Yemen

Press TV – June 23, 2018

At least six civilians have been killed when Saudi military aircraft carried out airstrikes against a residential area in Yemen’s northwestern province of Sa’ada as the Riyadh regime presses ahead with its bombardment campaign against its southern neighbor.

Saudi fighter jets conducted aerial assaults against an educational complex in the Kitaf wa al-Boqe’e district of the province on Saturday, leaving six people dead and several others injured, an unnamed local source told Yemen Press Agency. … Full article

‘Forget sanctions, G7 & Assad – Trump-Putin summit should focus on America’s Ukraine interference’

RT | June 22, 2018

Ukraine, not Syria, is going to be in the spotlight at the potential meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin after the US supplied Kiev with Javelin missiles and imposed sanctions on Russia, former US diplomat told RT.

The NATO summit set for July is already being upstaged by rumors of a separate meeting between Trump and Putin – and news that National Security Advisor John Bolton will be heading to Moscow this month has only increased speculation. RT America’s Natasha Sweatte discussed this latest development with former US diplomat Jim Jatras. … continue

Clinton Slams Putin as ‘Authoritarian White Supremacist’ During Dublin Speech

Sputnik – 23.06.2018

Former Democratic US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton slammed Russian President Vladimir Putin as a leader of a movement that seeks to break up the EU. The comment comes despite Moscow’s numerous statements that Russia wants to see the EU become a strong and independent partner.

Clinton gave a speech at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, as she received a honorary degree from the institution Friday.

Speaking to an audience of mostly Irish students, she slammed both US President Donald Trump and Putin.

“Vladimir Putin has positioned himself as the leader of an authoritarian, white supremacist and xenophobic movement that wants to break up the EU, weaken America’s traditional alliances and undermine democracy,” Clinton said.

“We can see this authoritarian movement rippling out from the Kremlin, reaching across Europe and beyond. It’s emboldening right-wing nationalists, separatists, racists and even neo-Nazis. We are living through an era when fundamental rights, civic virtue, even facts and reason are under assault like never before,” she continued.

Back in 2016, Vladimir Chizhov, a Russian envoy to the EU, said that Russia wants to see the EU stay intact and become strong and has no intention to weaken it.

“We want to see the EU united, powerful, with a positive attitude towards our country and, which is important, more independent in making decisions,” he said at the time. He reiterated this position almost word-for-word in March 2017.

In February 2018, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also reiterated Moscow’s position toward the EU.

“We want to see Europe powerful and stable. This is our biggest trade and economical partner, despite all the developments of the last three years we all know about. Europe remains our biggest partner — and investment partner, too,” he told Euronews.

As Clinton continued speaking, she once again said that fictional Russian meddling was the reason she lost the election. She said Moscow’s interference in the 2016 US presidential election was “more than alarming” and threatened every democracy, according to a report by Irish news website RTE. … Full article

The War in Afghanistan is Killing More People Than Ever

By Edward Hunt | Lobe Log | June 20, 2018

Seventeen years into the war in Afghanistan, the longest war in U.S. history, violence has never been worse. In 2017, more than 20,000 Afghans died, a new record.

The dead include an estimated 10,000 Afghan security forces, 10,000 Taliban forces, and 3,438 civilians. Although there is no reliable data on Afghan casualties available to the public, reports published by the Costs of War Project at Brown University indicate that the annual death toll for the Afghan population has never been higher than it was in 2017. … continue

A Watershed Moment in Palestinian History: Interview with Jamal Juma’

By Ida Audeh | CounterPunch | June 22, 2018

For weeks now, Palestinians everywhere have been galvanized by events taking place in the Gaza Strip, the site of weekly (since March 30) mass protests demanding the end of the siege and blockade of Gaza (in place now since 2007) and the right to return to the homes from which they or their elders had been kicked out. Dubbed the Great March of Return, Gazans have assembled as close as they can to the Israeli-designated buffer zone separating Gaza from Israel. Israeli soldiers at a distance, crouched behind earth barriers that they created in the days preceding the march, and at absolutely no danger of attack from the unarmed protestors, pick off demonstrators at their leisure. By June 14, at least 129 Palestinians had been killed and 13,000 injured; the dead included medics like the 21-year-old Razan al-Najjar and journalists including Yaser Murtaja—typically seen as off-limits in conflict zones but transformed by Israel into prime targets.

On June 4, Ida Audeh spoke to Jamal Juma’, coordinator of the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, about the popular resistance in Gaza, the Trump administration’s policy toward the question of Palestine, and Palestinian options to chart a new course. Salah Khawaja, an activist who works with the campaign, joined the conversation. … continue

Israel To Displace 21 Families While Its Army Holds Drills In West Bank

IMEMC | June 22, 2018

Israeli soldiers invaded Khirbat Hamsa al-Foqa village, in Northern Plains of the occupied West Bank, on Thursday at night and handed warrants to 21 families, ordering them to leave their dwellings while the army conducts live fire training.

The soldiers handed 18 orders to 21 families, instructing them all to leave their homes next Tuesday, June 26th, so that the army can conduct its live fire training, which also includes explosives.

Mo’taz Bisharat, a Palestinian official who monitors Israel’s illegal colonist activities in Tubas Governate, said the army conducted several military drills in the same area, over the last two months, repeatedly displacing the families, and placing them in danger due to explosive materials dropped during training, in addition to the excessive devastation to agricultural lands.

In January of this year, the soldiers shot a Palestinian child with a live round in the head, during “military training” near Tubas, in northeastern West Bank.

Russian Envoy: “Deal of Century” a Matter of Surrender to ‘Israel’, Not Peace

Al-Manar | June 22, 2018

Russian Envoy to Lebanon, Alexander Zasypkin, stressed that the so-called “deal of century” with the Zionist entity is a matter of surrender, not peace with the occupation regime.

In an interview with Lebanese daily, Al-Akhbar, the Russian diplomat said that Tel Aviv bets on the Arabic obedience.

“The deal of century is a matter of surrender. It’s not peace. Israel’s calculations which suit with some Arab states don’t match with the condition of Syria, Lebanon and Palestine,” Zasypkin told Al-Akhbar’s Firas Al-Shoufi.

He said stressed that the Syrian army will retake control of the war-torn country’s south, ruling out a possible confrontation between the Zionist entity from one side and Iranian and Hezbollah from the other side.

“When discussions started on de-escalation zones, there were talks with all sides on importance of confronting terrorism. Israel fears the presence of Iran and Hezbollah in Syria. We say that the Syrian army is now engaged with the Russian forces in liberating the country’s south, and there is no justification for any Israeli action that could derail confronting terrorism,” the Russian diplomat said.

But he acknowledged that the Zionist entity exploits the presence of terrorist in Syria’s south, but assured that the terrorists will be crushed at last.

“A confrontation is not of favor of any side. There exists a balance of deterrence,” Zasypkin said. … continue

Dutch state channel caves to pressure from pro-Israel group over Gaza, Iran

MEMO | June 22, 2018

A Dutch state TV station has apologised twice following complaints from Jewish groups that its coverage was biased against Israel.

According to Israeli sources, NOS, Netherlands’ main public broadcaster, made two retractions within the space of two weeks amid protests by Dutch Jews and others who complained that the state-funded organisation has an institutional anti-Israel bias.

Though a senior NOS spokesperson has denied accusations of anti-Israel bias, the broadcaster has been forced to retract comments about Israel’s occupation and suggesting that Iran and Israel face the same level of threat from each other.

NOS retracted comments, which described Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza as a protest for the right to return to areas that were occupied by Israel after 1948. The broadcast said that those taking part in the “March of Return” wanted to “return to areas that since the establishment of Israel in 1948 are occupied.”

In their retraction, NOS said that the land that came under the control of the Jewish state following the 1949 armistice that ended its war of independence is internationally recognised as belonging to Israel.

The revised statement appears to endorse the Israeli line, which claims that the Palestinians protesting in Gaza have no legitimate rights to return to the land from which they were expelled by Israel in 1948 and the various wars that followed. … continue

WHO Disproves Claims of Polio Return in Venezuela

Venezuelanalysis | June 21, 2018

Merida – The World Health Organisation (WHO) has categorically disproved a recent flurry of mainstream media claims that polio had returned to Venezuela.

“Tests carried out by the specialized global laboratory for genetic sequencing have ruled out the presence of both wild poliovirus and vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV),” clarified a press release by the WHO and their regional body, the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), on June 15.

Rumours of a return of polio to Venezuela began after the PAHO diagnosed acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) in a 34-month-old boy in the Orinoco Delta (Northeast) region of Venezuela earlier in June. The paralysis had begun on April 29.

As the WHO statement points out, polio is just one of many possible causes of AFP.  AFP allegedly affects more than 100,000 people across the globe every year. […]

Mainstream press outlets such as US-based CNN, Britain’s The Economist and The Telegraph and Hong Kong’s Standard seized upon rumours of polio’s return to the under-siege Caribbean country. … Full article

Russiagate’s ‘core narrative’ has always lacked actual evidence – Stephen Cohen

RT | June 22, 2018

The unprecedented allegation that the Kremlin “attacked America” and “colluded” with its president in order to elect him is based on two documents devoid of facts or logic. … continue

Trump-Putin summit should be welcomed, not feared

By Neil Clark | RT | June 22, 2018

The news that Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are preparing to meet in Europe next month has been causing consternation among those keen to keep the temperature of the new ‘Cold War’ close to freezing point.

But these voices should be ignored, as a summit is just what is needed at the present time.

“Meeting jaw to jaw is better than war,” Winston Churchill famously observed. Which sane person, desirous of world peace, could possibly disagree with the sentiment?

Yet, it seems that some people in the corridors of power in the West and in neocon think-tanks are seriously alarmed by the prospect of the presidents of the US and Russia getting together for a tete-a-tete and possibly defusing current tensions. … continue

Trump riding high and set to roll the dice for a summit with Putin

By M.K. Bhadrakumar | Asia Times | June 22, 2018

If the Trump White House had let it be known a couple of months ago that it was working with the Kremlin to schedule a summit meeting between the two presidents, all hell would have broken loose in the Washington Beltway. But that isn’t happening. There is an eerie calm in Washington, as if Trump’s detractors have run out of ammunition. … continue

Raised eyebrows as Madeleine Albright & Bana Alabed to be honored for ‘defending freedom’

RT | June 20, 2018

The pro-NATO Atlantic Council think tank is set to honor former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Syrian child activist Bana Alabed at its Freedom Awards this week.

The Freedom Awards honor individuals who “defend and advance the cause of freedom around the world” and will be hosted in Berlin later this week — but the nominations have caused quite a few puzzled reactions online.

According to the Atlantic Council website, Albright will be recognized for her “championing of global democracy” and as an exemplar of “the power of diplomacy in achieving solutions to the most pressing challenges facing our world.”

Albright seems like an odd choice, however, given she is known around the world for defending US sanctions on Iraq which caused the deaths of more than half a million Iraqi children. … continue

Analyst Suggests US Can No Longer Use UNHRC to Justify Global Military Ops

Sputnik – 22.06.2018

The United States can no longer use the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to justify its military interventions around the globe, now that it has withdrawn from the world body, US Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity Executive Director Daniel McAdams told Sputnik on Thursday.

“Human rights as an issue is often a cover for foreign interventionism. The US used ‘human rights’ as an excuse to destroy Libya and to launch a seven year proxy war in Syria,” McAdams said. “In fact, it was the UN Human Rights Council that first put the wheels of the US-led attack in Libya in motion.”

McAdams recounted how in the days leading up to NATO’s intervention in Libya, non-governmental organizations petitioned the UN Human Rights Council to demand action in response to alleged atrocities being committed by then-Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi. As a result, the issue was then taken up by the Security Council, which adopted Resolution 1973, a measure that paved the way for NATO’s airstrikes in Libya. Several of the NGOs’ allegations — which formed the basis for NATO’s intervention — later turned out to be false.

“The human rights abuses that Libyans have suffered since their ‘liberation’ far outweigh any they suffered under the rule of Gaddafi,” McAdams said. … continue

Fresh US-led airstrikes leave 8 civilians dead in eastern Syria

Press TV – June 22, 2018

At least eight civilians have lost their lives and several others sustained injuries when the US-led coalition purportedly fighting the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group carried out a string of airstrikes against Syria’s eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr.

Local sources, requesting anonymity, told Syria’s official news agency SANA the airborne assaults targeted residential buildings in the al-Shaafah town on Thursday evening.

The sources further noted that the airstrikes caused great destruction in targeted areas, forcing many families to leave their homes in the village to escape the heavy bombardment of the US-led coalition military aircraft. […]

The Syrian foreign ministry added that the US-led coalition is devoid of any international legitimacy, and has bombarded people in the provinces of Hasakah, Raqqah and Dayr al-Zawr after they did not agree to support US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militants. … Full article

US-Led Coalition Strikes Syria’s Homs Province: Syrian Soldier Killed – Reports

Sputnik – 21.06.2018

At least one Syrian soldier was killed in a US-led coalition airstrike on Syrian army positions in the east of Homs province on Thursday, a Syrian field commander told Sputnik.

“The combat planes belonging to the coalition led by the United States, attacked the army position in Jabal Ghurab, some 150 kilometers [93 miles] east of Palmyra near the border with Iraq,” the commander said.

“One serviceman was killed and several others wounded,” he added.

According to a Syrian field commander, the sudden US-led coalition air assault occurred after Syrian forces responded to an open fire from three coalition’s vehicles, moving towards positions of governmental forces.

A sudden airstrike has claimed the life of a Syrian Officer, leaving several other Syrian soldiers injured.

According to a Syrian field commander, coalition vehicles were spotted moving away from At Tanf district, where the US-led coalition base is situated.

Such an open skirmish between Syrian governmental forces and US-led coalition troops reportedly occurred for the first time since the outbreak of the war in Syria.

Last week, the Russian reconciliation center reported that the Syrian government troops backed by the Russian Aerospace Forces prevented militants’ audacious breakthrough out of the ​​At Tanf area towards Palmyra.

An Elite Coalition Emerges Against a Trump-Kim Agreement

By Gareth Porter | Consortium News | June 21, 2018

Media coverage of the Trump-Kim summit has highlighted a political reaction that threatens to torpedo any possible U.S-North Korean agreement on denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, says Gareth Porter. – Read article

Korean Voices Missing From Major Papers’ Opinions on Singapore Summit

By Adam Johnson | FAIR | June 21, 2018

In major-paper opinion coverage of the Singapore summit, the people with the most to lose and gain from the summit, the people whose nation was actually being discussed—Koreans—were almost uniformly ignored.

Three major US papers—the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal—had only one Korean-authored op-ed out of 41 opinion pieces on the subject of the Korean peace talks.

The Post had 23 total opinion pieces, the Times had 16 and the Journal four. The only op-ed by a Korean was a pro-summit piece on June 12 by Moon Chung-in, an aide to South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Of the 41 editorials or op-eds only four (9 percent), were broadly positive about the Trump/Kim summit, 29 (70 percent) were negative and eight (21 percent) were mixed or ambiguous. The full list, current as of June 19, is here. … continue

The Parallel Universe of BBC Panorama

By Kit | OffGuardian | June 21, 2018

The BBC flag-ship documentary series “Panorama” has long been a stalwart of state-funded television propaganda. They can always be relied upon to tell us what we’re supposed to think. In 2013, just days before the Commons vote on military intervention in Syria, BBC aired “Panorama: Saving Syria’s Children”, a shambolic piece of fiction designed to outrage the public into war.

Robert Stuart has done truly exceptional work in deconstructing the fakery and propaganda on which the BBC sees fit to spend taxpayer’s money.

In just the last year they’ve had two documentaries about North Korea being evil (“North Korea’s Secret Slave Camps” and “North Korea’s Nuclear Trump Card”).

And it’s not just foreign “enemies” that end up in Panorama’s crosshairs either – it’s also domestic ones.

In 2015, just a few days before Jeremy Corbyn’s first Labour leadership victory, the BBC aired “Panorama: Jeremy Corbyn – Labour’s Earthquake”, a documentary which prompted Corbyn’s team to file an official complaint, labelling it a “hatchet job”.

Then in 2016, on the eve of Corbyns second (larger) Labour leadership victory, the BBC aired “Panorama: Labour – Is the Party over?”, a documentary full of doom and gloom, featuring anecdotes about abuse, and various (predictable) Blairite MPs bemoaning the “unelectability” of their leader.

In the 2017 General Election, Jeremy Corbyn’s resurgent Labour defied the polls, the pundits and the BBC to knock-off the Tory majority and come within 2% of winning. Could the BBC’s, and Panorama’s, relentlessly negative slanted coverage be responsible for keeping Corbyn out of No.10? It would be foolish to deny the possibility.

And there, neatly demonstrated in those three paragraphs, you see the value and purpose of state-sponsored propaganda. Panorama is the spirit of the BBC, a pretense of faux objectivity, shrouded in cuddly familiarity, employed exclusively and decisively against anything the establishment sees as a threat. … continue

New UK Army Chief Lists Russia Among ‘Imminent’ Threats to Country

Sputnik – 21.06.2018

General Mark Carleton-Smith has given his inauguration speech, becoming the new army chief shortly after replacing General Sir Nick Carter, who has moved on to become chief of the defense staff.

The new British chief of the general staff, General Mark Carleton-Smith, has stated that the UK faces imminent threats from multiple states that he described as “rogue,” including Russia, during a speech at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). He also noticed that Russia is currently in “revisionist mode” and that it possesses a “growing arsenal of long-range precision capabilities.”

“The misplaced perception that there is no imminent or existential threat to the UK, and that even if there was, it could only arise with long notice, is wrong,” he said. … continue

UK Worried NATO to be Hurt if Trump Meets Putin Before Bloc’s Summit – Reports

Sputnik – 21.06.2018

US President Donald Trump may sit down for talks with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin during his trip to Europe next month.

The British government fears that the two presidents could meet before NATO’s upcoming summit in Brussels and Trump’s official visit to London.

“It’s unclear if this meeting is after or before the NATO and UK visit. Obviously after would be better for us,” the Times quoted a Whitehall source as saying.

“It adds another dynamic to an already colorful week,” the official added.

According to the newspaper, London is alarmed that the possible talks between the US and Russian presidents could have an impact on Trump’s commitment to NATO’s “shared goals” and the outcome of his July 13 visit to Britain.

The Times also quoted a Western diplomatic source as saying that if Trump and Putin meet before the July 11 NATO summit in Brussels, this would be viewed as a highly negative development. … Full article

Israeli soldiers abduct two Palestinians, including a writer and activist, in Jerusalem

IMEMC News – June 21, 2018

Israeli soldiers abducted two Palestinians, including a writer and activist, from their homes in occupied East Jerusalem at dawn Thursday and late on Wednesday at night.

The soldiers invaded the home of Abdullah al-Kiswani, a former member of the Palestinian Football Association, in the at-Tour neighborhood overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem, and abducted him, after searching his home.

In addition, the soldiers abducted Palestinian author and intellectual Rassem Obeidat, 60, from Jabal al-Mokabber neighborhood in Jerusalem.

Obeidat was summoned for interrogation in the al-Maskobiyya detention and interrogation facility, and was abducted shortly after arriving there.

It is worth mentioning that he was among several Palestinians who were held, and interrogated, last Monday, after a large police force and intelligence officers invaded a hall of the Ambassador Hotel, in occupied East Jerusalem and attacked a celebration held by the Palestinian Russian Friendship Society.

On Thursday at dawn, the soldiers abducted ten Palestinians in the West Bank governorates of Nablus, Bethlehem and Hebron, after the army stormed and violently searched many homes.

Cambridge University students protest ‘war criminal’ Ehud Olmert

MEMO | June 21, 2018

Students at the University of Cambridge protested a talk given by former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert at the Judge Business School on Wednesday night, denouncing the former leader as a “war criminal”.

According to Varsity, “a poster campaign condemning his [Olmert’s] actions and declaring that he is ‘not welcome in Cambridge’” was launched ahead of the event.

Olmert, who was convicted of and jailed for accepting bribes and of obstruction of justice, gave a talk entitled ‘Israel as a start up nation’. … continue

Army Demolishes A Palestinian Home Near Jenin

IMEMC News – June 21, 2018

Israeli soldiers, late on Wednesday at night, demolished the home of a Palestinian detainee, who is imprisoned on charges of crashing into a military roadblock on March 17, 2018, killing two soldiers.

The Israeli army has claimed that Ala’ Rateb Kabaha, 26, deliberately rammed soldiers at the military roadblocks, killing Lieutenant Ziv Daus, 21, from Azur town near Tel Aviv, and Sergeant Netanel Kahalani, 20, from Elyakim Moshav, in the Megiddo Regional Council, in the northern part of the country.

Media sources in Jenin said that on Wednesday night, at least twenty military vehicles and jeeps invaded Barta’a town, southwest of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, before invading the Kabaha family home.

They added that the Kabaha family lives on the third floor of a four-story building, owned by Ala’s father. The soldiers demolished the interior of the 150 square/meter apartment.

The destruction of the interior walls caused structural damage, which may result in the entire building needing to be torn down. … Full article

Despite settler arson confession dismissed by Israel, Dawabsheh family persevere

MEMO | June 21, 2018

An Israeli court on Tuesday threw out a confession given by a teenage settler – who cannot be named for legal reasons – in which he admitted his participation in an arson attack on a Palestinian home that killed three people.

The court ruled that the confession had been obtained under duress and was inadmissible in court, but that the confession given by primary suspect Amiram Ben-Uliel was valid. Ben-Uliel admitted firebombing the house and his involvement in six other racially motivated attacks targeting Palestinian villages after the “necessary investigations” conducted by Shin Bet police.

The unnamed minor had also been accused of taking part in the attack on the Dawabsheh family home on 31 July 2015 in the West Bank village of Duma, which killed toddler Ali Saad Dawabsheh and parents Riham and Saad Dawabsheh.

Omar Khamaisi, a lawyer for the family, told MEMO that despite the confession being overruled, the prosecution still had sufficient evidence of the minor’s involvement. … continue

YEMEN: U.S. Involvement in UAE Controlled Torture and Detention Centres

By Vanessa Beeley | 21st Century Wire | June 21, 2018

Yesterday, reports flooded corporate media in the West of the torture sites and prisons in the south of Yemen. Previous reports had also highlighted potential U.S involvement in the detention centres, with U.S forces allegedy working as interrogators in these dens of suffering for the Yemeni people.

The Legal Centre for Rights and Development in Yemen and ARWA Rights have been documenting the hideous crimes committed in these makeshift prisons and torture chambers for some time. According to Mohammed Al Wazir of Arwa Rights… continue

Cuba Denuclearized in 1962. Why Continue the Embargo?

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | June 20, 2018

In a time in which President Trump is saying that the U.S. government will lift economic sanctions against North Korea if it “denuclearizes,” why not lift the decades-old U.S. economic embargo against Cuba? After all, Cuba “denuclearized” back in 1962. Why is the U.S. government still punishing the people of Cuba with its brutal economic embargo?

In fact, the continued existence of the Cuban embargo might well cause North Korea to ask: If we really do denuclearize, how can we be assured that U.S. officials will really lift their sanctions on North Korea given the continuation of their brutal embargo against Cuba after it denuclearized more than 50 years ago? … continue

Here’s Why Pro-Migrant Protesters Changed US Policy While Anti-War Protesters Didn’t End America’s Recent Wars

By Adam Garrie | EurasiaFuture | June 20, 2018

Donald Trump has just signed an executive order reversing the Clinton era policy of separating children from their illegal migrant parents at the southern border of the United States. While this policy has been in operation since the 1990s, it was only in the last month that it caught the attention of American media and the political class.

Ultimately, the issue is one for the leaders of the US to decide and under immense media and political pressure, the US President has taken the matter into his own hands and changed a policy based entirely on a public pressure campaign rather than his own apparent line of thinking which favours an increasingly tough border policy.

What this proves is that on issues effecting the well being of humans who happen not to be US citizens, public pressure campaigns can in fact get policies changed, especially in an election year. When one thinks that George W. Bush illegally invaded Iraq just over a year before facing re-election while Tony Blair did the same only two short years before facing the UK electorate, it beggars belief that anti-war campaigns have been so ineffective at reversing policies that slaughter millions, destroy entire regions and all the while unleashing the most barbaric forms of terrorism in places where there once was little or none. … continue

US’ Bombing Spree in Afghanistan Reaches Record Levels

Sputnik – 21.06.2018

The United States’ military’s air assault campaign in Afghanistan is reaching heights not seen since at least 2009 – as far back as available data goes – according to a new report from Air Force Central Command.

The uptick in payloads delivered comes 17 years since the US invaded the country in an effort to oust the Taliban from power. Just last November, America’s top general in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson, said that the war was in a “stalemate.”

As of May 2018, the US has already dropped 2,339 weapons from the Afghan skies since the start of the year. May saw the deployment of some 591 munitions in Operation Freedom Sentinel, more than any month since October 2017. … Full article

The Persistent Myth of U.S. Precision Bombing

By Nicolas J S Davies | Consortium News | June 20, 2018

U.S. media routinely repeat Pentagon talking points about the accuracy of U.S. bombing, but how precise are these attacks, asks Nicholas J.S. Davies. – Read article

Trump withdrawal from UN Human Rights Council is business as usual for US

By John Laughland | RT | June 20, 2018

Unlike other decisions taken by Donald Trump the announcement that the US is leaving the UN Human Rights Council has a lot of background in the policies adopted by previous administrations, many of which also despised the body.

Trump has gone a little further than his predecessors but his attitude is not fundamentally different from theirs.

Not only has the US had a long-running dispute with the UN in general, over its budget contribution and the body’s alleged hostility towards Israel, it has also sought to undermine the role of the Human Rights Council in particular, long before Trump was elected. A former US representative to the UN founded the NGO UN Watch in 1993 to campaign against the UN’s perceived anti-Israeli bias.

In 2004, even before the Human Rights Council was created in 2006, the USA sponsored the creation of a “democracy caucus” within the UN whose goal was to increase the influence of the US and its allies in the organization, on the basis that countries deemed democratic should have greater rights.

The potential for abuse of this principle was both enormous and obvious. Yet it reflected the decision taken by the Clinton administration in 1999 to arrogate to the US and its allies, especially NATO, the right to adjudicate and enforce human rights around the world. As the British Prime Minister Tony Blair explained at the time, the 78-day NATO attack against Yugoslavia was designed to establish this as a new principle of international relations. In its new strategic concept promulgated at the height of the bombing of a small Balkan country by the most powerful military alliance in the history of the world, NATO announced that “the abuse of human rights” was a security threat to which it had the right to react. … continue

Russia welcomes US pullout from UNHRC, says council can work better now

Press TV – June 20, 2018

Russia has welcomed the United States’ pullout from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), saying the body has lost nothing and can operate more freely now.

“I cannot say that the council lost anything,” Russia’s permanent representative at the UN office and other international organizations in Geneva, Gennady Gatilov, said Wednesday.

“Moreover, I hope that in the wake of the United States’ walkout there will be less politicization, double standards and confrontation,” he added.

The comments came a day after US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Washington’s withdrawal over what they called the body’s entrenched bias against Israel. … Full article

Israel welcomes US withdrawal from Human Rights Council

Palestine Information Center – June 20, 2018

Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the US administration’s withdrawal from membership of the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday over what it labeled as a bias against Israel and a lack of reform.

In a statement released by his office, Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the US move, branding the council “a biased, hostile, anti-Israel organization that has betrayed its mission of protecting human rights.” … Full article

Israeli forces open fire on Palestinian car, injuring 27-year-old man

Ma’an – June 20, 2018

BETHLEHEM – Israeli forces shot and wounded a Palestinian man on Wednesday after they opened fire on his car near the village of Umm Salmuna in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem.

Locals identified the man as Ahmad Nasser Thawabta, 27, from the Bethlehem-area town of Beit Fajjar.

Witnesses told Ma’an that Thawabta was shot in the back by Israeli forces after they opened fire on his car. He was immediately transferred to a hospital in Hebron for medical treatment. … Full article

Israel demolishes Palestinian house in O. Jerusalem

Palestine Information Center – June 20, 2018

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM – Israeli bulldozers demolished a Palestinian-owned house in the village of Qalandia, to the north of the occupied Jerusalem on Wednesday morning.

The local journalist Mahmoud Awadallah reported that Israeli forces, accompanied by two bulldozers, raided the village and proceeded to demolish the two-room house.

Nearby trees were also uprooted during the demolition process, he added.

The house was demolished despite an Israeli court ruling banning its demolition, Awadallah underlined.

20 Palestinian buildings in the village are also threatened with demolition for being allegedly built without Israeli permit.

Army To Demolish Wells And A Shed Near Bethlehem

IMEMC News – June 20, 2018

Israeli soldiers delivered demolition orders targeting seven wells and a shed, Wednesday, in Teqoua’ town, south of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank.

The water wells, built on private Palestinian lands, are owned by Ahmad Khalaf Jibreel, Ibrahim Mohammad Jibreel, and Salem Za’al Jibreel, Atiya Mousa Jibreel, Salam Abu Mfarreh, Ali Mahmoud Khatib and Ali Yousef Nuwwara.

Also, the soldiers delivered another demolition order targeting a shed, owned by Monir Mahmoud Suleiman.

Israeli court fails to rule on whether ‘enhanced interrogation’ is torture

RT | June 20, 2018

An Israeli court has failed to decide if so-called ‘enhanced interrogation’ used by Israeli security services constitutes torture, but threw out a confession by a Jewish minor, made under duress, in a Palestinian firebombing case.

The two young Jewish Israeli suspects are charged with launching Molotov cocktails at the home of the Palestinian Dawabsha family in 2015.

The attack in the West Bank town of Duma killed a toddler and his parents.

For months the police and the security agency Shin Bet made no apparent progress in resolving the case but later arrested Amiram Ben-Uliel, who is alleged to have prepared and thrown the bombs, and an unnamed minor who allegedly assisted him in planning the arson.

The Central District Court in Lod in Central Israel rejected a confession made by the minor but abstained from condemning Shin Bet of physically abusing him. … Full article

Sinn Féin calls on Irish gov’t to cut ties with Israel

Palestine Information Center – June 20, 2018

BELFAST – Sinn Féin, the Irish Republican Party, has renewed its call on the government to expel the Israeli ambassador to Ireland and boycott Israel over its persistence in committing crimes and violations against the Palestinian people.

This came in a statement released by Sinn Féin during its annual conference, which kicked off a few days ago.

The Irish party expressed solidarity with the Palestinian people in their legitimate struggle for freedom and the establishment of their independent state.

It also called for executing decisions taken by Dáil Éireann (the House of Representatives) and Seanad Éireann (the Senate) with regard to recognizing the state of Palestine.

U.S. News Media Can’t Talk About Adelson Foreign Policy

By Eli Clifton | LobeLog | June 19, 2018

Over the past month, two mainstream news outlets have done in-depth reporting on the grip that Sheldon Adelson, President Donald Trump’s and the GOP’s biggest donor, holds over U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. LobeLog has closely followed this important story, so it’s heartening to see The Guardian and CBC highlighting the apparent capture of U.S. foreign-policy decision-making by a billionaire donor.

But there’s a noticeable gap in the coverage of this topic. U.S. news outlets, which routinely “follow the money” when it comes to domestic issues, are almost completely avoiding any reporting on the clear link between Adelson’s campaign contributions and the administration’s pursuit of policies that hew closely to positions espoused by the billionaire casino magnate.

Adelson’s influence over the Trump administration’s foreign policy is hard to overlook. The Las Vegas-based billionaire, and currently the fourteenth wealthiest American, is outspoken about his political views. He has suggested using nuclear weapons against Iran, declared the “purpose of the existence of Palestinians is to destroy Israel,” promoted John Bolton for a senior foreign-policy post, directly lobbied Trump about moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Newt Gingrich, himself a recipient of Adelson’s financial support during his failed 2012 presidential big, said that his benefactor’s “central value” is Israel. … continue

South Korea wants railroad link to Russia through North Korea

RT | June 20, 2018

Seoul, Moscow and Pyongyang can implement several major trilateral infrastructure and energy projects if stability is reached on the Korean peninsula, according to South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

One such project could be a railway that will be able deliver goods from Russia to South Korea through North Korea. “Once the Trans-Korean Main Line is built, it may be connected to the Trans-Siberian Railway. In this case, it will be possible to deliver goods from South Korea to Europe, which would be economically beneficial not only to South and North Korea but to Russia as well,” Moon Jae-in said in an interview with Russian media ahead of his state visit to Moscow.

A gas pipeline coming from Russia to North Korea to be extended to the South is another possibility, he said. “We can also build a gas pipeline via North Korea, so that not only South Korea will receive Russian gas but we will also be able to deliver it to Japan,” the South Korean president said.

The project to unite the Korean Peninsula with a gas pipeline has been discussed for a long time, but official talks started in 2011. The negotiations were frozen after relations between Seoul and Pyongyang deteriorated. Last week, Russian energy major Gazprom announced it resumed talks with Seoul over the construction of a gas pipeline connecting Russia with North and South Korea.

The countries could also connect their electricity grids, Moon Jae-in said. “We can also establish a powerline that would allow us to receive electricity from Russia. It could also be delivered not only to South and North Korea but also to Japan.”