Aletho News


Uruguay: Former General Convicted for Murder During Dictatorship

By George Nelson | The Argentina Independent | May 10, 2013

A former general in the Uruguayan army, Miguel Dalmao, has been found guilty of a murder dating back to 1974, when the country was under military rule.

Dalmao was sentenced yesterday to 28 years in prison by the Uruguayan Supreme Court of Justice in what has been celebrated as a victory by human rights advocates and former political prisoners in the country.

The 61-year-old has been imprisoned since 2010 while the case was being processed. His victim was an imprisoned communist militant Nibia Sabalsagaray, aged 25, who was also a professor of literature. The court heard that her death was the result of torture carried out by Dalmao.

The case has suffered delays due to a heart condition suffered by Dalmoa, who is currently receiving treatment in hospital.

Baldemar Taroco, Vice President of the Association of Ex Political Prisoners of Uruguay, said, “Violations of basic rights took place during the dictatorship. Dalmao committed crimes against humanity.”

Taroco also described the sentence as a “victory against state terrorism” and said that if these types of crimes are not punished then the country runs the risk of seeing them repeated.

An expiry law, which has prevented many crimes during the dictatorship from being brought to justice, “remains a wall” against more than 100 allegations of “murder, disappearance, and rape”, added Taroco.

Miguel Langón, Dalmao’s counsel, said that he hoped for the acquittal of the former dictator after reportedly submitting an appeal. “I hope the Court of Appeal corrects this mistake, there is a high possibility that Sabalsagaray committed suicide. It is clear the killing has not been proven,” he told local press outside the court.

The Ministry of Defence has not commented on the ruling, nor have any military officials, many of whom are ex-soldiers who served during the time of the dictatorship.

May 10, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | Comments Off on Uruguay: Former General Convicted for Murder During Dictatorship

Excerpts on Syria from Seyyid Hassan Nasrallah’s latest speech

May 9, 2013

“On the latest Israeli aggression on Syria:

Unfortunately, the Israelis talked of their “enemy’s enemy” and “friend’s friend”. Isn’t the Israeli enemy the benchmark? Isn’t this rudimentary? This is part of our Islamic lexicon.

Of course there were objectives behind Israel’s attacks which it sought to realize. I want to define this reality so I can discuss the nature of the [Syrian] response and so that we can understand it.

One of its objectives, especially over the past two years— its objective and that of others— is to remove Syria from the military equation in the struggle with Zionist enemy. First of all, Syria hasn’t made a peace agreement with Israel as other Arab states have. Although there is a hudna (truce), everyone knows—the enemy knows this more than friends do—what Syria offered resistance movements for tens of years now and especially over the past few years, particularly the Palestinian and Lebanese resistance movements. If the day comes when our brothers in the Palestinian resistance will declare on their pulpits what they used to admit in private meetings, they will say that no Arab regime has offered us what the regime of Bashar al-Assad offered us.

The Israeli knows that one of the most important sources of strength for the resistance in Lebanon and Palestine is Syria. This is why they want to remove Syria from the [military] equation and they want to besiege the resistance in Lebanon and Palestine. What this siege means is that any material or moral or military support from whoever supports the resistance must end. The Israelis said they won’t allow the transfer of any weapons which could upset the balance of power with the resistance into Lebanon. Now they are saying they will prevent the resistance’s military capability from growing, meaning we won’t even allow you to increase the weapons you currently have. So they struck Damascus and its environs, in order to tell Syria—and we should read this part carefully so we understand the nature and scope of the Syrian response—that the continuation of support for the resistance and the transfer of capabilities will spell the demise of the regime and a declaration of war on Syria. Therefore, the real objective behind the latest attacks is the subjugation of Syria and breaking the will of its leadership, army and people and to permanently remove it from the resistance equation.

By the way, everything you heard in the media about 200, 300 and 400 [Syrian army] martyrs, is all lies. Unfortunately, we heard on [Arab] cable tv takbeer [cries of Allahu Akbar] and jubilation, because Israeli planes were bombing Syrian facilities or locations or bases. This is very sad. According to the reliable information I have, those killed were 4 or 5 martyrs from the Syrian army who were guarding these places.

So these were their objectives. How should one respond? First of all, one must thwart the aims of the aggression. This is the minimum response for resistance and mumana’a movements, and if possible, to turn the magic on the magician. And this is what the Syrian leadership did. There are some well-meaning people who want Syria to bomb occupied Palestine for reasons related to morale, and some hateful people who want it to bomb occupied Palestine so that war can break out between Israel and Syria and let all hell to break loose.

The first [Syrian] response: You Israelis are saying that the aim behind your aggression was to prevent the resistance’s military capability from growing, so the first response is that if you consider Syria to be a weapons’ conduit for the resistance then know that Syria will continue supplying the resistance with weapons. This is a huge strategic decision. More than this, if you are claiming that the aim behind your aggression was to prevent the resistance’s military capability from growing, then Syria will provide the resistance with game-changing weapons that it did not possess before. This means upsetting the balance of power.

Show me one Arab regime which would dare to openly supply the Palestinian resistance with so much as a rifle, let alone a game-changing rocket. And then we have a leadership which was bombed just two days ago which says I want to give them weapons they don’t even have. This is Syria’s strategic response, and it is much more significant than firing a rocket or launching an attack on occupied Palestine.

The second strategic response, which is no less important or dangerous, is to open the Golan front—opening the door to the popular resistance on the Golan front. In this war you have launched on Syria, the threat has been turned into an opportunity.

Let us set the third response aside for now. To go back to the first response, we the resistance in Lebanon announce that we are ready to receive any sophisticated weaponry even if it is game-changing and we are ready to protect this weaponry and use it to defend our people, country and sanctities.

As for the second response, just as Syria stood by the Lebanese people and supported its popular resistance materially and morally until this resistance was able to liberate South Lebanon, we in the Lebanese resistance declare that we will stand by the popular Syrian resistance and offer it our material and moral support, as well as cooperation and coordination, in order to liberate the Syrian Golan.

[Chuckling] The third response is a huge deal so we won’t discuss it now.

All the latest events and responses and positions taken by the Syrian leadership suggest that it is a leadership with nerves of steel, that it is a very wise leadership which is managing the battle with the Israelis with a strategic mind and not in an emotional or impassioned manner. This is how the resistance and mumana’a axis has foiled all schemes in the region since the 1990s.

Whoever wants to retrieve Jerusalem, whoever wants to achieve Palestinian rights and realize Palestinian aspirations, should know that this won’t be achieved in the Arab league or the UN or the Organization for Islamic Cooperation or anywhere else. The only choice has always been resistance and remains so.

Oh Palestinian and Arab people who reject Israeli hegemony, you will not find anyone to stand by your side except he who has stood by your side for tens of years. Protect those who stood by you, protect the sources of strength in your axis. Any serious effort to find a political solution in Syria which refuses to allow Syria to fall into the hands of the US, Israel and the takfiris is effectively the battle for Palestine, the battle for Quds, the battle for the Aqsa mosque.”

May 10, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Comments Off on Excerpts on Syria from Seyyid Hassan Nasrallah’s latest speech

Israel approves nearly 300 new settlements to coincide with Kerry-Livni meeting

MEMO | May 9, 2013

As Israeli justice minister, Tzipi Livni, met with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome on Wednesday, the Israel Civil Administration approved a plan to build 296 housing units in the West Bank settlement of Beit El; an Israeli newspaper reported.

c_245_135_16777215_0_images_stories_edim_02_ep2(117)The newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, today described the decision as “A move which could be interpreted as an attempt to Judaize the West Bank.”

Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon approved the construction of the new housing units in line with a promise the government had made to settlers. A previous Israeli government had promised to build 90 new housing units in the settlements in an attempt to prevent clashes during the eviction of the Ulpana settlement.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had previously made undertakings to stop further settlement construction until next June when he met with Kerry, angering heads of settler groups.

According to the newspaper, Ya’alon met with heads of Jewish settlers on Tuesday and told them that construction would indeed continue. Netanyahu confirmed that there were delays in issuing construction bids due to errors, but that they would be issued soon.

Settlers hoped that the approval of new housing units would mean the beginning of further settlement plans in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

In Rome, Livni hoped that “enthusiastic and determined” Kerry would move the peace process forward after four years of stalemate.

“We believe that re-launching the negotiations and achieving an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is in the Israeli interest, but yet there is a need for Secretary John Kerry’s efforts to create something new after four years of stagnation,” Livni said.

Kerry has been holding talks with Israeli, Palestinian and other Arab officials for months. The Israeli newspaper said that he is expected to meet Netanyahu and Abbas separately later in May.

The US Secretary of State said, “I think it is fair to say that we are working through threshold questions and we are doing it with a seriousness of purpose, which I think Minister Livni would agree with, has not been present for a while.”

Stressing the importance of achieving something as soon as possible Livni said, “We all believe that we are working with a short time span. We understand the imperative to try to have some sense of direction as rapidly as we can.”

Kerry has been mobilizing Arab support for Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in case he is obliged to offer concessions to Israelis in order to reach a peace deal. Kerry also hopes to set up foundations for a wider peace with the Arab states.

Recently, he achieved a diplomatic victory when the Arab league delegation in Washington announced an agreement to accept that a land swap deal could be reached between Palestinians and Israelis based on the 1967 borders.

May 10, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Israel approves nearly 300 new settlements to coincide with Kerry-Livni meeting

UN Food and Agriculture Organization to Recognize Venezuela for Halving Hunger

Agencia Venezolana de Noticias – May 7, 2013

mercal111112_002The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will soon recognize Venezuela and 15 other countries for achieving part of the Millennium Development Goal of eradicating hunger.

According to a statement by the FAO Director General José Graziano Da Silva, Venezuela will receive a certificate of recognition at the organization’s next conference to be held in Rome beginning June 15. The recognition is for successfully halving the proportion of people who suffer from hunger, a goal established in 1996 to be achieved by 2015.

FAO statistics say that 13.5% of Venezuelans suffered from hunger in 1990 – 1992, compared to 5% in 2007 – 2012.

The other countries that will be recognized for meeting this goal are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Chile, Fiji, Georgia, Ghana, Guyana, Nicaragua, Peru, Samoa, São Tomé and Principe, Thailand, Uruguay, and Vietnam.

Since the start of the Bolivarian Revolution in 1999, the Venezuelan government has developed a series of policies regarding food and nutrition, that have been recognized by the FAO as helping eradicate hunger in the country.

Local FAO representative Marcelo Resende said in March that the government has been able to “understand that food is everybody’s right and not just the privilege of a few, and it worked based on that.”

May 10, 2013 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on UN Food and Agriculture Organization to Recognize Venezuela for Halving Hunger

9th Circuit: No Relief for Copyright Troll Righthaven

By Kurt Opsahl | EFF | May 9, 2013

The Ninth Circuit appeals court today turned down copyright troll Righthaven’s last ditch effort to salvage its failed business model, upholding the federal district court’s decision to dismiss its bogus copyright case on the grounds that it never actually held the copyrights it was suing under.

In one of the two cases decided together, EFF represents Tad DiBiase, a criminal justice blogger who provides resources for difficult-to-prosecute “no body” murder cases. Righthaven sued DiBiase in 2010 based on a news article that DiBiase posted to his blog. Instead of paying them off, DiBiase fought back with the help of EFF and its co-counsel at Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich and Rosati, and helped drive Righthaven out of business.

The leading issue on appeal was whether a newspaper could transfer the right to sue for copyright infringement to a copyright troll, while retaining all other rights in the newspaper articles. (audio of argument) Under the Copyright Act, only the “owner of an exclusive right under a copyright is entitled … to institute an action for any infringement of that particular right committed while he or she is the owner of it.”

Righthaven attempted to get around this rule by drafting a document that pretended to transfer copyrights even as a secret agreement between Righthaven and Stephens Media, the newspaper publisher, ensured that Stephens retained all of the rights to exploit the news articles. As the Ninth Circuit noted, citing a story about Abraham Lincoln: “we conclude that merely calling someone a copyright owner does not make it so.”

Nor was the Ninth Circuit impressed by Righthaven’s argument that the court should implement its intent, even if the contract drafting was not up to snuff.  “The problem is not that the district court did not read the contract in accordance with the parties’ intent; the problem is that what the parties intended was invalid under the Copyright Act.” Finally, the Court rejected a desperate attempt by Righthaven to retroactively revise their contract after it started to lose in the courts.

With that, the court affirmed the lower court decisions tossing Righthaven’s cases.  Since it had found that the Righthaven had no legal standing, it also vacated the decision in the companion case, Righthaven v. Hoehn, that had found fair use as an alternative grounds on which Righthaven lost.

The troll problem continues to persist, especially porn trolls, but today’s decision effectively ends one pernicious species by establishing that copyright owners cannot sell the right to sue to attorneys looking to make a quick buck off the back of bloggers, while otherwise doing business as usual.

In the appeal, Righthaven was represented by a new attorney, Erik Syverson of Miller Barondess. Righthaven’s CEO and founder, Steven A. Gibson is now an attorney with Dickinson Wright. EFF, Colleen Bal and Evan Stern from the law firm of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, and Las Vegas attorney Chad Bowers represent Mr. DiBiase. The appeal was consolidated with Righthaven v. Hoehn. Mr. Hoehn is represented by Marc Randazza and Jay DeVoy of the Randazza Legal Group.

Related Case

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May 10, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , | Comments Off on 9th Circuit: No Relief for Copyright Troll Righthaven

BBC Helps Pave Road to War on Syria

News Unspun | May 8, 2013

The Syrian conflict has been accompanied by a distinct media narrative. Within this narrative – which poses a binary division between the forces engaged in the conflict, identifying the players as good (the rebels, who must receive ‘our’ support) and bad (the government) – the role the West must play is that of potential saviour, whose aim is to cautiously observe the conflict so that it may intervene to ‘fix’ the situation, as The Guardian’s Simon Tisdall put it:

So what can Obama do? As Vladimir Putin was expected to make plain to John Kerry in Moscow on Tuesday, he cannot count on Russian (or, therefore, Chinese or UN security council) support to fix Syria.

This sentiment, that the West can put right the Syrian situation, is inherent to most reporting of the conflict. The BBC recently reported that ‘the pressure to act has intensified in recent days after emerging evidence that Syria has used chemical weapons such as the nerve gas sarin’. This statement presents the existence of a ‘pressure to act’ as a given, though the source of such pressure is unidentified. From where is this pressure emerging? As a BBC report points out, public opinion in France, the UK, the US, and Germany is by majority opposed to the possibility of intervention in the conflict through sending arms and military supplies to the Syrian opposition. The BBC is not then speaking on behalf of the public majority. Pressure towards military intervention, to some extent considered a desirable option by the UK government (if it can ‘achieve the result [they] want’, as Cameron put it in an interview with Nick Robinson), is, however, increasingly mounting within the media itself.

Chemical Weapons ‘Evidence’

It is also important to note that the ’emerging evidence’ referred to above is not conclusive despite the wording of this report. The BBC reported again on Monday 6 May that ‘Western powers have said their own investigations have found evidence that government forces have used chemical weapons’. Again, this is simply not the case. ‘Western powers’, regardless of their true intentions, have in fact been very cautious in public about how precisely they present their claims, underscoring the lack of conclusive evidence they have found and that there exists the possibility that chemical weapons had been used by the Syrian government. This misrepresentation by the BBC emerges in a context in which the use of chemical weapons has been signified by the UK and US as the point at which they may become militarily involved in the Syrian conflict. As such these details, so easily misrepresented by the BBC, are of high consequence.

(There are other examples of BBC reports dangerously getting important facts wrong about such issues: just over a year ago, for example, a BBC news report stated that the ‘International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released a report with new evidence showing Iran was secretly working towards obtaining a nuclear weapon’ – in this case the report said no such thing.)

Journalists Pushing for Intervention

In recent reports, certain BBC journalists have appeared more hawkish than government officials themselves. Take for example a question put to Cameron by the BBC’s Nick Robinson:

Do you ever fear that a terrible thing is happening in our world and that Western leaders cannot or will not act because of a fear of another Iraq?

Cameron responded with ‘I do worry about that’, before clarifying that what he has concluded from the ‘Iraq lesson’ is that the UK should only enter into conflicts it can win, that ‘the ability is there’. This is at a far remove from the implication of Robinson’s question that past ‘mistakes’ might prevent the West from playing a righteous humanitarian role. Yet Robinson’s leading question provides the basis for the seemingly unambiguous headline: ‘Cameron fears Iraq effect holding West back in Syria’.

There is a prevailing trend of journalists taking up the position of presenting the case for military intervention in Syria and proactively pushing government representatives to commit to intentions for military action. On the Andrew Marr show on 5 May Jeremy Vine asked Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond a number of questions which demonstrated this pressure by the media for the UK to become involved in the Syrian conflict. When Hammond appeared cautious regarding the prospect of military intervention, stating that the UK would need to engage in discussion with the UK’s ‘allies and partners’, Vine admonished, ‘you’re talking about having a series of meetings’. Another brief exchange emphasises Vine’s apparent desire to see the UK intervene:

Phillip Hammond: ‘Frankly that [the potential use of chemical weapons] is not what’s delivering the tally of 70,000 that have been killed… the majority of these people have been killed by conventional weapons’.

Jeremy Vine: ‘More reason to do something then…’

These comments reflect the consistency of BBC reporting which seems aimed towards creating a case for war. When Carla Del Ponte, of the UN’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, told reporters that there were ‘strong, concrete suspicions’ that the rebels – perhaps not as virtuous as would be convenient for States considering providing military support – may have used chemical weapons, the tone of BBC reporting did not suggest that the pressure for military action should be alleviated.

Analysis of Attacks on Syria: Real and Imagined

Taking the case a step further, Jonathan Marcus, the BBC’s diplomatic correspondent, discussed the various ways in which the US could attack Syria. His assessment reads more like a military strategy report than an analysis of events for a news provider. Surgical airstrikes, Marcus said, ‘could be carried out by cruise missiles launched from aircraft well outside Syrian airspace or from warships or submarines in the Mediterranean’, while a wider air campaign, ‘might have to be preceded by a significant effort to destroy missiles, associated radars and command systems and might well involve losses’. Why it is in the public interest that such analysis is brought to us by journalists is unclear. Through Marcus’s piece, which is nothing more than speculation of military strategy on an as yet non-existent, illegal military intervention, the idea of an attack on Syria from outside is normalised further.

The reporting on the air strikes that Israel has carried out on Syria also reveals how normalised warfare has become in BBC reporting, with very little discussion of casualties or of the chaos inflicted on the people who were bombed. What was important, in this story, it seems, is that Israel was protecting itself from weapons that were supposedly being transported. This is summed up in the BBC’s Q&A page on the Israeli airstrikes: in answer to the question ‘Why would Israel attack?’ we are told that ‘the statements from unnamed officials suggest Israel’s actions are defensive.’ If the Syrian government had, for example, attacked the Israeli air force within Israel, to prevent airstrikes on its own territory, it is extremely unlikely that this would be overwhelmingly reported as an act of defence. Yet when Israel bombs another country, BBC journalists and editors happily report such actions as ‘defensive’ measures.

Jonathan Marcus writes that Israel’s airstrikes are ‘designed to send a powerful signal’ (the headline: ‘Israeli air strikes: A warning to Syria’s Assad’). It is worth at this point noting that following the last Israel attack on Syria, in early 2013, Marcus also wrote that this was ‘in one sense pre-emptive, but also a warning’. It was also portrayed as a ‘signal’. That such attacks are continuously reported as warnings and signals, as seemingly rational, and therefore it seems permissible, actions, goes further to normalise them. We might wonder how many attacks Israel would have to inflict on another country before Jonathan Marcus stops referring to the attacks as ‘signals’ and ‘warnings’?

In their seeming urgency to present a case for war, BBC reporters have neglected factual accuracy of reported events. Scepticism towards the unsupported claims of Western governments, insistence upon proof, is also lacking. We are presented with a simplified narrative, of ‘good versus evil’, in which the possibility of misconduct on both sides of the conflict is considered improbable. This style of reporting very much takes its lead from the positions of Western governments. Whitehouse spokesman Jay Carney outlined the position of the US: ‘We are highly sceptical of suggestions that the opposition could have or did use chemical weapons. We find it highly likely that any chemical weapon use that has taken place in Syria was done by the Assad regime, and that remains our position’. The supposed instincts of the US or UK government, despite the inconclusive nature of the evidence, as to the righteousness of the Syrian rebels is not proof of the reality and should not be considered by journalists as such.

May 10, 2013 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on BBC Helps Pave Road to War on Syria

What the NYT Doesn’t Say About Washington’s Syrian Peace Plan

By Michael McGehee | NYTX | May 9, 2013

On page A12 of the May 8, 2013 edition of The New York Times is Steven Lee Myers and Rick Gladstone’s article “U.S. and Russia Plan Conference Aimed at Ending Syrian War,” which opens by stating that, “Russia and the United States announced on Tuesday that they would seek to convene an international conference within weeks aimed at ending the civil war in Syria, jointly intensifying their diplomatic pressure on the combatants to peacefully settle a conflict that has taken more than 70,000 lives and left millions displaced and desperate.” This is a most welcoming turn of events, especially for the people of Syria who have taken the brunt of the civil war, and hopefully the conference bears fruit quickly.

But—and there is one of these stubborn conjunctions—it is important for the purpose of history to note that for two years now the United States has blocked any peaceful resolution, and has instead pushed the conflict further and deeper into violence and war.

It is Russia who has long pushed for a political reconciliation.

In October 2011 RIA Novosti reported that “Moscow calls on the UN Security Council to continue the search for a balanced approach toward the political crisis in Syria based on a draft resolution prepared by Russia and China, Russia’s envoy to the UN said,” with the phrase “balanced” being a jab at how Washington and its allies have put all the requirements on the Syrian government to end violence, and not the rebel forces whom they have been backing.

Writing in December of 2011, Egypt Independent reported that, “Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov on Monday emphasized the need for dialogue and reconciliation in Syria.”

Even in December of 2012 Voice of America reported that, “Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has echoed a call from an international peace envoy to resolve Syria’s civil war through a government-backed national dialogue and political process.”

The New York Times also reported on Russian efforts that same month when they informed readers that, “Moscow has made a muscular push for a political solution in recent days.”

While it is inaccurate to imply that Russia’s search for “a political solution” was “in recent days,” it is more disturbing that phrases like “muscular push” are used to describe such an effort, while the “paper of record” has routinely tried to make a case for war (see here and here).

A month ago today (May 8, 2013) the Syrian rebels detonated a car bomb near a school in Damascus, killing 14, and wounding dozens of others. According to Reuters, “State television said the explosion had occurred near a school in Sabaa Bahrat, a heavily populated area that also houses the Central Bank and the Finance Ministry. It said 53 people were wounded.”

Washington failed to condemn the act of terror.

Likewise when Daily Mail ran an article last December with this headline: “Syria rebels ‘beheaded a Christian and fed him to the dogs’ as fears grow over Islamist atrocities.” Apparently there is no “red line” for the rebels to cross.

And there are dozens and dozens of similar incidents. Not once has Washington put pressure on the rebels to stop their senseless violence, or argued for an international force to intervene and defend the Syrian people from the terrorists. Nor have Western establishment pundits like Bill Keller argued for such things. And even though al Qaeda is active in the country, beheading so-called infidels, or that the Syrian rebels are likely using chemical weapons, Washington and its media parrots have instead favored escalation. Just over a week ago The New York Times reported that “The White House is once again considering supplying weapons to Syria’s armed opposition.” This comes after the car bombing across the street from a children’s school.

And now Washington wants peace, as Myers and Gladstone tell us that “The announcement appeared to signal a strong desire by both countries to halt what has been a dangerous escalation in the conflict.”

Perhaps it has become clear that the rebels cannot win this war on their own, and the only reasonable way Bashar Assad will be brought down is another U.S. war which will elevate the jihadis into power. Perhaps President Obama is imagining one of these rebel jihadis attacking an American embassy in Damascus, and the Republicans foaming at the mouth for another politicized inquiry into how such an attack could happen, as they currently are over the embassy attack in Benghazi, Libya last year.

Whatever the reasons for the turnaround it is gladly welcomed. The people of Syria deserve a rescue from the terror Washington, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and others, have unleashed on them. Though we should remain sober and note that the “conflict that has taken more than 70,000 lives and left millions displaced and desperate” is largely of Washington’s doings, and could have been avoided years ago if Uncle Sam followed the lead of Moscow and Bejing, both of whom had the “strong desire . . . to halt what has been a dangerous escalation in the conflict.”

We should also recall that The New York Times derided Russia for their “strong desire” and even went so far as to equate it with “effectively toss[ing] a life preserver to President Bashar al-Assad, seemingly unwilling to see a pivotal ally and once stalwart member of the socialist bloc sink beneath the waves of the Arab Spring.” Russia was just as clear then as they are now: they did not want to go along with efforts that would worsen the situation, but now that the situation has gotten considerably worse, and Washington is warming to the idea of a political solution, now The New York Times is presenting this as a positive development.

May 10, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , , | Comments Off on What the NYT Doesn’t Say About Washington’s Syrian Peace Plan

US drone strikes illegal – Pakistani court

RT | May 10, 2013

A high court in Pakistan has ruled that US drone strikes in the country’s tribal belt should be considered war crimes, since the attacks resulted in the deaths of innocent people.

The Peshawar High Court has recommended the Pakistani government advance a resolution against the attacks in the United Nations. The court issued its verdict on the CIA-run air strikes in response to four petitions charging the attacks killed civilians and caused “collateral damage.”

Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan heard the petitions, and ruled that drone strikes on sovereign Pakistani territory were illegal, inhumane and a violation of the UN charter on human rights.

“The government of Pakistan must ensure that no drone strike takes place in the future,” the court said on Thursday, according to the Press Trust of India.

The court also recommended that if the US rejects these findings in the UN, Pakistan should break off relations with Washington: “If the US vetoes the resolution, then the country should think about breaking diplomatic ties with the US.”

The Pakistani case was filed last year by the Foundation for Fundamental Rights, a charity based in Islamabad, on behalf of the families of victims killed in a drone attack on a tribal jirga, including more than 50 tribal elders and a number of government officials.

According to a report submitted by political officials of North Waziristan Agency, 896 Pakistani residents of the region were killed in the last five years ending December 2012, and 209 were seriously injured. A report by the South Waziristan Agency showed that 70 drone strikes were carried out in the last five years ending June 2012, in which 553 people were killed and 126 injured.

“In view of the established facts, undeniable in nature, under the UN Charter and Conventions, the people of Pakistan have every right to ask the security forces either to prevent such strikes by force or to shoot down intruding drones,” the court verdict said.

Shahzad Akbar, a lawyer for victims in the case, hailed this as a “landmark” judgment: “Drone victims in Waziristan will now get some justice after a long wait. This judgment will also prove to be a test for the new government: If drone strikes continue and the government fails to act, it will run the risk of contempt of court,” he said, according to the website of legal action charity Reprieve.

The United States regularly targets Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants in Pakistan’s mountainous tribal regions accused of carrying out cross-border attacks in Afghanistan. Washington claims the operations are done in cooperation with Pakistan’s military.

Human rights groups, however, criticize the “collateral damage” of innocent civilian deaths caused by the attacks, and point to the shroud of secrecy surrounding drone use.

“Drone attacks on northwest Pakistan, which commenced under former US President George W. Bush in 2004, have increased sevenfold under Obama and have caused the deaths of thousands of suspected terrorists and at least hundreds of civilians in Pakistan and Yemen,” Bloomberg reported in April.

Even some of America’s leading commanders fear blowback over the indiscriminate use of this new military technology.

“The resentment created” by Washington’s newfound reliance on drone strikes “is much greater than the average American appreciates,” General Stanley McChrystal, the former top commander in Afghanistan, told Reuters in January. The use of drones adds to “the perception of American arrogance that says, ‘We can fly where we want, we can shoot where we want, because we can.”’

At the same time, America’s foreign critics seem to be gaining ground as Washington continues to pursue drone warfare.

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whose Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) party is considered the favorite in this Saturday’s election, recently vowed that he would not permit drone attacks on Pakistani soil.

“Drone attacks are against the national sovereignty and a challenge for the country’s autonomy and independence,” he said.

Clive Stafford Smith of the London-based group Reprieve said the court’s ruling is a step toward greater transparency in Washington’s use of drone technology: “Today’s momentous decision by the Peshawar High Court shines the first rays of accountability onto the CIA’s secret drone war,” the Independent quoted him as saying.

The innocent people killed by American drone strikes are civilian victims of US war crimes, he added.

May 10, 2013 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Comments Off on US drone strikes illegal – Pakistani court

‘Government at Its Absolute Worst’ in Texas

By CAMERON LANGFORD | Courthouse News | May 8, 2013

AUSTIN – Trigger-happy Texas lawmen shot up a man’s car and ran him off the road, coming “within inches” of killing him, then found that “they had the wrong person,” the man claims in court.

Miguel Montanez sued the city of San Marcos, Hays County, Hays County Sheriff’s deputies Joe Faulkner and David Campbell, and John Doe Hays County SWAT team members 1-7 in Federal Court.

San Marcos, the seat of Hays County, is in Central Texas, south of Austin.

“On July 12, 2012, plaintiff Montanez was driving to work in the early morning. Montanez was not committing any crimes or wanted for anything. In fact, Montanez is a fully law abiding and employed citizen,” the complaint states.

“Out of nowhere, the Hays County SWAT Team and San Marcos Police Department pulled up on Montanez’s car and literally opened fire on it. The SWAT team also slammed their SWAT truck into Montanez’s car. The defendants engaged in this insane behavior even though Montanez was posing no threat whatsoever.

“By the grace of God, Montanez dove down in the car and narrowly avoided the bullets flying into his car. The defendants subsequently arrested Montanez but later let him go and did not charge him with anything. It turns out they had the wrong person. The defendants’ actions caused Montanez to sustain a very serious back injury, which requires a surgery.

“The actions by the defendants constitute government at its absolute worst. The defendants literally were within inches of killing a completely innocent citizen and did in fact cause him serious bodily and mental injuries. To this day, they have not apologized to Montanez.”

Montanez seeks damages for civil rights violations and excessive force.

He is represented by Adam Loewy of Austin.

May 10, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Militarism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , | Comments Off on ‘Government at Its Absolute Worst’ in Texas

Three rapes happen every hour in US military: Report

Press TV – May 9, 2013

A new report by the US Defense Department, Pentagon, says almost three rapes occur every hour in the US military, raising serious concern about the soaring rate of sexual assault among US servicemen.

According to the Pentagon, sexual assaults in the military have increased to the alarming level of 70 per day or three every hour, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

The report added that 26,000 service members were sexually assaulted in 2012, a 35-percent increase since 2010 when 19,000 such cases were reported.

However, the overall rate of sexual assault in the US military may be higher, as many victims fail to report out of fear of vengeance or lack of justice under the military’s system of prosecution, the report added.

“The more closed and hierarchical an institution is, the more the victim is stigmatized and the rapist gets away with it,” said Susan Brooks, pastor and volunteer rape crisis counselor.

Brooks went on to condemn the US military for maintaining a culture of gender and power relations, which she says produces the rape culture among service members.

Many high-ranking US military commanders have recently been convicted and relieved of duties for multiple sexual offenses and corruption over the years.

On May 6, authorities said Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Krusinski, director of the sexual assault prevention program for the US Air Force, has himself been detained for sexually assaulting a woman not far from the military headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.

In 2012, over 30 male Air Force boot camp trainers were cited for sexually harassing, abusing and raping at least 59 military recruits at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.

May 10, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | Comments Off on Three rapes happen every hour in US military: Report