Aletho News


France investigates IMF chief over 2007 payout

Press TV – May 23, 2013

French authorities are interrogating International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde in connection with a controversial payout to a French tycoon during her term as France’s finance minister.

The 57-year-old appeared in France’s Court of Justice of the Republic (CJR) on Thursday.

The court, which investigates cases of ministerial misconduct, is probing Lagarde’s handling of a dispute in 2007 that resulted in 400 million euros (USD 515 million) payment to the former politician and controversial business figure, Bernard Tapie.

The CJR prosecutors suspect that he was granted the treatment in return for backing former President Nicolas Sarkozy in the 2007 presidential race.

Lagarde, who was France’s finance minister at that time, is accused of being responsible for “numerous anomalies and irregularities” which could lead her to be charged for complicity in fraud and misappropriation of public funds.

The investigation focused on Lagarde’s move in 2007, when she asked a panel of judges to arbitrate in a row between Tapie and the partly state-owned Credit Lyonnais over his sale of sports group Adidas in 1993.

Tapie had accused the bank of defrauding him by deliberately undervaluing Adidas at the time of the sale. He further said that the state – as the former principal shareholder in the bank – should compensate him.

Tapie was previously jailed on charges of match-fixing when he was the president of French football club Olympique de Marseille.

The criminal charges are regarded as the second straight scandal for an IMF chief since Lagarde succeeded Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who quit over allegations of an assault on a hotel maid in New York.

Lagarde, however, has downplayed the investigation.

“There’s nothing new under the sun. Ever since 2011 I had known very well that I will be heard by the investigative commission of the Cour de Justice,” she said last month.

May 23, 2013 Posted by | Corruption | , , , , , | Comments Off on France investigates IMF chief over 2007 payout

Britain seeking to lure kids into army by setting up military schools


Press TV – May 23, 2013

The British government has approved plans for opening controversial military-style state schools as a likely new method to lure British children into the armed forces.

The UK Education Secretary, Michael Gove is proposing a system of a chain of state-funded “free schools” that impose an influential Armed Forces culture at the same time that the United States government plans to do.

The revelation came as the Department for Education granted approval for one military-style school in Oldham – the first of its kind in Britain.

According to the plans, The Phoenix Free School will open from September 2014, which will be staffed by former members of the Armed Forces and led by an active Army captain.

Meanwhile, two campaign groups announced in April that the UK government continues to recruit 16 and 17-year-olds to its armed forces irrespective of the fact that most countries in the world had stopped the practice a long time ago.

The argument stated that while under-18s are banned in Britain from many activities considered harmful — including drinking alcohol and smoking — they are allowed to risk their lives in military exercises.

May 23, 2013 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment

Jewish settlers injure children in two separate vehicular assaults

By Saed Bannoura | IMEMC & Agencies | May 23, 2013

Palestinian medical sources have reported that two Palestinian children have been seriously injured, on Wednesday, in two separate incidents after being rammed by settlers’ vehicles in the West Bank districts of Hebron and Nablus.

The sources said that a 9-year-old child was seriously injured after being rammed by a settlers’ car east in As-Salayma neighborhood, east of the Ibrahimi Mosque, in Hebron city. She was moved to a local hospital; the settler fled the scene.

Furthermore, a 16-year-old Palestinian child, identified as Marwan Zakariyya ‘As’ous, suffered serious injuries and was moved to the Rafidia Hospital, after being rammed by a settler’s car at the Beta Junction, south of Nablus.

Usama Malhees, head of the Rafidia Hospital, stated that the ‘As’ous suffered various fractures and is currently on life support at the Intensive Care Unit.

On May 14, Hanin Bassem Al-Ja’bary, 7, was injured after a settler rammed her with his vehicle close to the Ibrahimi Mosque, in the Old City of Hebron. The settler fled the scene.

Dozens of claims have been filed with the Israeli police and the military in the occupied territories regarding hit and run ramming incidents carried out by Israeli settlers, but no actual measures were taken on the ground.

May 23, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israel considering looser regulations for soldiers in West Bank


Al-Akhbar | May 23, 2013

Israeli military commanders and parliament members argued Wednesday in favor of changing regulations for soldiers operating in the West Bank in front of a Knesset committee, claiming that the rules governing their actions against Palestinians were too restrictive.

According to the Israeli daily Maariv, three reserve commanders – Amram Mitzna, Danny Yatom and Uzi Dayan – spoke during a Knesset security committee meeting, saying that Israel should address a situation deemed dangerous by Israeli soldiers and field commanders.

Knesset member Moshe Feiglin said Israeli forces felt “impotent” when facing Palestinian demonstrations because of regulations restricting their possible response, Maariv reported.

Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon spoke of increasing incidents of soldier injuries, adding that the Israeli army needed to do everything it could to reverse the trend.

Nissim Zeev, a Knesset member and member of the ultra-Orthodox political party Shas, said that “there is nowhere else in the world where soldiers in a situation of confronting the enemy are powerless.”

Zeev described the situation in the West Bank as one of “asymmetrical warfare” in which he claimed the well-armed Israeli troops were disadvantaged when faced against Palestinian protesters.

Israeli occupation forces routinely use an arsenal of live bullets, rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas and skunk water against Palestinians, even during peaceful demonstrations. Palestinians protesters typically respond by throwing rocks and occasional molotov cocktails.

Wednesday’s session was attended by the chief of Israeli forces’ central command, along with heads of West Bank Jewish settlement councils and chief security officers.

According to Maariv, the security committee will hold a closed-door meeting to be attended by the Israeli minister of defense, Moshe Yaalon. The participants will address possible means to “restore Israeli forces’ deterrence and dignity in the West Bank” and give Israeli soldiers more leeway in their dealings with Palestinians.

Since January 2009, Israeli forces have killed 59 Palestinians – including 14 youths aged 18 and under – in the occupied West Bank, while Israeli settlers have killed five, according to Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem.

In January, 15-year-old Salih al-Amarin from the Azza refugee camp near Bethlehem, was shot in the head and killed during a protest, and a week earlier, Samir Ahmed Abdul-Rahim,17, was shot four times and killed by Israeli soldiers in Budrus, near Ramallah.

In April, Amer Nassar, 17, and Naji al-Balbisi,19, were shot and killed by Israeli soldiers during clashes in Tulkarem.

On Tuesday, Israeli soldiers shot 12-year old Atta Sharadeh in the chest while he was walking with school friends near Ramallah. Sharadeh was in sent to the hospital in critical condition.

(Al-Akhbar, Ma’an)

May 23, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | Comments Off on Israel considering looser regulations for soldiers in West Bank

Israel prepared to launch war on Syria: Israeli commander

Press TV – May 23, 2013

An Israeli military commander says Tel Aviv is prepared to carry out an attack on Syria if the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad collapses.

On Wednesday, Israeli Major General Amir Eshel said the Tel Aviv regime might launch a sudden war on Syria should Damascus fall.

“We have to be ready for any scenario, at a few hours’ notice,” Eshel stated.

He also said that the Israeli regime would even prepare for a “protracted” war with a “post-Assad Syria.”

The recent Israeli threat is seen as part of the Western-backed efforts to set up the scene for a military intervention in Syria.

The Tel Aviv regime has already carried out three air strikes on Syria.

On May 5, Syria said the Israeli regime had carried out an airstrike targeting a research center in a suburb of Damascus, following heavy losses inflicted upon al-Qaeda-affiliated groups by the Syrian army. According to Syrian media reports, the strike hit the Jamraya Research Center. The Jamraya facility had been targeted in another Israeli airstrike in January.

The May 5 Israeli aggression was Tel Aviv’s second strike on Syria in three days.

Turmoil has gripped Syria for over two years, and many people, including large numbers of Syrian soldiers and security personnel, have been killed in the foreign-sponsored militancy.

Western powers and their regional allies including the Israeli regime, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are partners in supporting the militant groups in Syria.

May 23, 2013 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Israel prepared to launch war on Syria: Israeli commander

The Government Wants A Backdoor Into Your Online Communications

By Mark M. Jaycox and Seth Schoen | EFF | May 22, 2013

According to the New York Times, President Obama is “on the verge of backing” a proposal by the FBI to introduce legislation dramatically expanding the reach of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA. CALEA forces telephone companies to provide backdoors to the government so that it can spy on users after obtaining court approval, and was expanded in 2006 to reach Internet technologies like VoIP. The new proposal reportedly allows the FBI to listen in on any conversation online, regardless of the technology used, by mandating engineers build “backdoors” into communications software. We urge EFF supporters to tell the administration now to stop this proposal, provisionally called CALEA II.

The rumored proposal is a tremendous blow to security and privacy and is based on the FBI’s complaint that it is “Going Dark,” or unable to listen in on Internet users’ communications. But the FBI has offered few concrete examples and no significant numbers of situations where it has been stymied by communications technology like encryption. To the contrary, with the growth of digital communications, the FBI has an unprecedented level of access to our communications and personal data; access which it regularly uses. In an age where the government claims to want to beef up Internet security, any backdoors into our communications makes our infrastructure weaker.

Backdoors also take away developers’ right to innovate and users’ right to protect their privacy and First Amendment-protected anonymity of speech with the technologies of their choice. The FBI’s dream of an Internet where it can listen to anything, even with a court order, is wrong and inconsistent with our values. One should be able to have a private conversation online, just as one can have a private conversation in person.

The White House is currently debating whether or not to introduce the bill. Here’s why it shouldn’t:

There’s Little Darkness: Few Investigations Have Been Thwarted

The starting point for new legislation should be a real, serious, and well-documented need. Despite the FBI’s rhetoric, there are few concrete examples of the FBI’s purported need to expand its already efficient all-seeing eye. Current law requires annual reporting by the Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding the use of the government’s wiretapping powers; the report includes statistics on how often Federal law enforcement has been impeded in a court-authorized investigation by encryption or has been unable to access communications. These statistics show that this has happened only rarely. In its most recent report—from 2010—DOJ reported that encryption had only been encountered all of 12 times.

Did the encryption stop the investigation, or even prevent the wiretappers from figuring out what was being said? No. The report admits that in all of these instances, police were able to obtain the plain text of communications. Previous years’ numbers are similar. Aside from government reports, in 2012 telecommunications companies also revealed that a very low percentage of law enforcement requests for user information were rejected. In AT&T’s case, only 965 out of over 250,000 requests for user information were rejected. Overall, the available public statistics don’t appear to support the FBI’s claims about its inability to access communications.

Law Enforcement Already Has Unprecedented Access

Any requested expansion of FBI surveillance authority has to consider the overall ability of law enforcement to investigate crimes. What the FBI doesn’t mention when pushing new backdoors into our communications is that now, due to the shift to digital communications, law enforcement has an unprecedented level of access to, and knowledge of, the public’s communications, relationships, transactions, whereabouts, and movements. Law enforcement now can gain 24/7 monitoring of most people’s movements using cell phone location data. But that’s just the beginning. A glance at the Wall Street Journal‘s multi-year What They Know project shows some of the treasure troves of data that are being maintained about all of us. By accessing these databases and by using new electronic surveillance technologies law enforcement already has visibility into almost every aspect of our online and offline lives—capabilities beyond the wildest dreams of police officers just a few decades ago.

Indeed, former White House Chief Counselor for Privacy Peter Swire and Kenesa Ahmad argued persuasively in 2011 that, overall, “today [is] a golden age for surveillance“—regardless of whether law enforcement is assured of automatic access to each and every kind of communication, and regardless of whether individuals sometimes succeed in using privacy technologies to protect themselves against some kinds of surveillance.

First, there’s information obtained from cell phones. In July 2012, the New York Times reported that federal, state, and local law enforcement officials had requested all kinds of cell phone data—including mappings of suspects’ locations—a staggering 1.3 million times in the previous year. Cell phone companies can create what amounts to detailed maps of our locations and turn them over to law enforcement. Even without asking for cell phone providers’ direct assistance, law enforcement has considerable ability to use mobile devices to track us. Federal and state law enforcement have made extensive use of IMSI catchers (also popularly called “stingrays,” after the brand name of one such device). These devices can act as a fake cell phone tower, observing all devices in a certain area to find a cell phone’s location in real-time, and perhaps even intercept phone calls and texts.

Laws compelling companies to divulge user information accompany these techniques. For instance, National Security Letters, served on communications service providers like phone companies and ISPs, allow the FBI to secretly demand stored data about ordinary Americans’ private communications and Internet activity without any meaningful oversight or prior judicial review. And Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act allows for secret court orders to collect “tangible things” that could be relevant to a government investigation. The list of possible “tangible things” the government can obtain is seemingly limitless, and could include everything from driver’s license records to Internet browsing patterns. The FBI has even broken into individuals’ computers to collect data from inside the computers themselves. More backdoors aren’t needed.

Backdoors Make Us Weaker and More Vulnerable

CALEA II will force companies with messaging services—from Google to Twitter to video game developers—to insert backdoors into their platforms. But backdoors only make us weaker and more vulnerable. It’s ironic that CALEA II may be proposed only months after Congress pushed “cybersecurity” legislation to protect our networks. The notion of mandating backdoors in software is the antithesis of online security, which is why some academics have called it a “ticking time bomb.”

A proposal to expand backdoors into communications software ensures that online hackers, communications company insiders, and nation-states have a direct entrance to attack—and steal from—companies and government agencies. In one notorious example, someone exploited backdoors in a Greek phone company’s systems and recorded sensitive conversations involving the Prime Minister. Wiretapping backdoors even affect national security. In 2012, Wired revealed the NSA’s discovery and concern that every telephone switch for sale to the Department of Defense had security vulnerabilities due to the legally-mandated wiretap implementation. If politicians are serious about online security, they will not make these security blunders even worse by bringing more sensitive communication technologies under CALEA’s scope.

Just last week, an ad hoc group of twenty renowned computer security experts issued a report explaining their consensus that CALEA II proposals could seriously harm computer security. These experts said that a requirement to weaken security with deliberate backdoors “amounts to developing for our adversaries capabilities that they may not have the competence, access or resources to develop on their own.”

And now the Washington Post has reported that intruders, allegedly working on behalf of the Chinese government, broke into Google’s existing surveillance systems. (In this case, the report says that the intruders learned who was targeted by these systems, rather than accessing the contents of the targets’ accounts or communications—but it’s easy to see that wiretap contents would ultimately represent an even bigger target, and a bigger prize. Even more exciting would be the prospect of remotely activating new wiretaps against victims of an intruder’s choice.)

Internet Users Have the Right to Secure Communications

Expanding CALEA is not only a tremendous risk for our online security; it’s a slap in the face of Internet users who want to protect themselves online by choosing privacy-protecting software to shield their communications. Ordinary individuals, businesses, and journalists want and often need state-of-the art software to protect their communications in an era of pervasive spying by commercial rivals, criminals, and governments around the world. The government’s rhetoric takes us back to the early 1990s when US law enforcement spoke openly of banning secure encryption software to keep it out of the public’s hands. EFF and others had to fight—including in the Federal courts—to establish the principle that publishing and using encryption tools is an essential matter of individual freedom and protected by the First Amendment.

Once those “crypto wars” were over, the US government seemed to accept the right of Americans to secure communications and abandon the idea of forcing innovators to dumb down these technologies. We turned our concerns to foreign governments, several of whom were trying to ban communications tools for being “too private.” (For instance, the Associated Press reported five countries threatened to ban BlackBerry services in 2010 because the services protected user privacy too well.) Americans, including the US State Department, began supporting the development and distribution of secure communications tools to foreign rights activists who need them. Now this battle may be coming home.

Even with these tools, most Americans can protect only a tiny fraction of the trail of data we leave behind electronically as we live our lives. But we still have the right to choose them and try our best to keep our private communications private.

CALEA Must Not Come Back

The government should place any proposal to expand CALEA on hold. There is little evidence the FBI is actually “going dark,” especially when balanced with all the new information they have access to about our communications. And backdoors make everyone weaker. In a time when “cybersecurity” is supposed to be a top priority in Washington, the FBI is pushing a scheme that directly undermines everyone’s online security and interferes with both innovation and the freedom of users to choose the technologies that best protect them. Tell the White House now to stop the proposal in its tracks.

May 23, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Comments Off on The Government Wants A Backdoor Into Your Online Communications

‘Never in his life’: Father of Tsarnaev’s friend questions FBI slaying of son

RT | May 22, 2013

An FBI agent shot Tamerlan Tsarnaev-linked triple murder suspect Ibragim Todashev in Florida, allegedly after the suspect attacked him with a knife. But Todashev’s father Abdulbaki told RT he strongly doubted his son could attack the agent first.

Following reports that a Chechen man Ibragim Todashev, suspected in a 2011 triple murder in Massachusetts alongside the elder Tsarnaev and questioned about the Boston bombings previously, was shot by an FBI agent during interrogation in Orlando, Florida, RT had a phone conversation with the suspect’s father.

The elder Todashev described his son as “a very calm” man, who wouldn’t become aggressive for no reason.

“Never in his life would he attack anyone unprovoked,” Abdulbaki Todashev stressed.

Abdulbaki, who lives in Grozny, Chechnya, said he was not contacted by anyone from the US, and his only sources about Ibragim’s fate were neighbors citing media agencies.

Having heard the reports that Ibragim was questioned by a group of people, including several policemen, Abdulbaki also said he does not believe he would rush to engage in a one-sided fight.

He explained that his 27-year-old son studied in the Russian city of Saratov, and later in Grozny, but decided to give up his education and move to the US after going on a student internship there.

Ibragim decided to leave for Florida because he “liked America,” Abdulbaki explained, adding he never got to know what occupation, if any, his son had in the US, other than practicing sports.

Abdulbaki said they were not acquainted with the Tsarnaev family at home in Chechnya. Ibragim knew Tamerlan Tsarnaev only because they went to the same gym when he stayed in Boston, he added.

Ibragim “couldn’t take part” in the Boston Marathon bombings as he was undergoing a surgical operation on his tendons in Florida days before the bombings and “had to learn how to walk again,” the father said.

Todashev’s friend Kushen Taramov said he and Ibragim had been interrogated about the bombings earlier this week.

But reports said that on Wednesday the investigators were questioning Todashev over his alleged role in an unsolved 2011 triple homicide in Waltham, Massachusetts, which the bombing suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have been implicated in, and that he was ready to sign a confession.

Todashev allegedly took out a knife and attacked the FBI agent questioning him, but was shot to death.

Taramov said Ibragim was going to fly back home to Chechnya, but the FBI insisted that he postpone his trip for “one last” interview. Abdulbaki also knew that his son was flying to Grozny on May 24.

May 23, 2013 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism | , , | 1 Comment