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Colombia: Killings of Human Rights Activists Increase by 27%

By Alexandre Bachet | The Argentina Independent | August 5, 2013

heroesanonimosThe non-governmental programme ‘Somos Defensores’ published a half-yearly report on Sunday showing a 27% increase in killings of human rights defenders and social leaders in Colombia.

Between January and June 2013, 37 human rights activists were murdered, according to the programme, which is supported by national and international NGOs. This represents a 27% increase compared with the same period of last year, when 29 activists were killed.

The report, called ‘Héroes Anónimos‘ (‘Anonymous Heroes’), states that most of the activists killed, 32 men and 5 women, were leaders of social and farmers’ organisations.

Diana Sánchez, spokeswoman for the programme, stated that “there is a lower number of aggressions [153 cases] compared to the same period last year [163 cases]” but “paradoxically, murders have increased, which is more serious.”

Sánchez explained that the first half of the year was marked by “a constant tension in political and human rights issues,” referring to the numerous protests that have taken place in Colombia this year. She also denounced that “there are armed groups and gangs (heirs to the paramilitary groups involved in drug trafficking) that when they feel that a [social] leader or an NGO threaten their mafias or their territories, they have no qualms about killing them.”

(photo courtesy of ‘Somos Defensores’)

August 5, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Leave a comment

The NYT’s Selective Spin on Extradition, Torture, and Murder

By Michael McGehee ·  NYTX · August 5, 2013

The way the New York Times presents Moscow’s rejection of Washington’s extradition request for Edward Snowden, the leaker of details on the massive NSA global spying program, one would think Russia is in the wrong.

According to last Friday’s front page article by Steven Lee Meyers and Andrew E. Kramer, “Defiant Russia Grants Snowden Year’s Asylum,” the words chosen reveal a lot about the paper’s tone.

Moscow was “defiant “ as they “infuriated” Washington by “brushing aside pleas.”

A look at the treatment of Bradley Manning to see how Washington might treat Snowden is apt, but this is not mentioned by Meyers and Kramer.

Nor do Meyers and Kramer mention Ilyas Akhmadov, a former Chechen separatist leader who is on Russia’s most-wanted list. Akhmadov lives in Washington.

Also missing from the coverage is how Moscow has had their requests for an extradition agreement ignored by Washington. As Newsweek reported last week: “The bottom line, Russian officials agreed, was that Snowden would be useful for Russia,” because “Moscow’s biggest complaint was that Washington ignored Russia’s idea to sign ‘an agreement for extradition,’ that would guarantee both sides a mutual exchange of bad boys.”

There is also a differential treatment provided to leakers and whistle-blowers, as opposed to those who commit serious crimes in service of the government.

While Bradley Manning faces more than 130 years in jail for leaking classified documents, consider the following:

Marine Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich, a squad leader, participated in the brutal killings of 24 Iraqis in Haditha seven years ago. Many of the victims were women and children . A plea bargain on Wuterich’s case resulted in a drop in rank and conviction for dereliction of duty. No jail time.

As U.S. troops were leaving in December of 2011, Michael Schmidt, a New York Times reporter, stumbled upon hundreds of pages of U.S. military documents pertaining to the 2005 Haditha massacre. Schmidt reported on a testimony of a soldier who said the murders were not “remarkable” because, “It happened all the time, not necessarily in MNF-West all the time, but throughout the whole country.”

In 1995 three American soldiers kidnapped and raped a 12-year old Japanese girl. The three men got no more than seven years jail time.

Even Charles Graner and Lynndie England, who were found guilty of abuses in the Abu Ghraib torture scandal—where detainees were tortured, humiliated, beaten, raped, and killed—received no more than ten years in jail.

The writing on the wall is clear: sounding the alarm to the general public about widespread crime and corruption (some of which includes the kind of crimes I bring up above and below) can get you life in prison—but raping, torturing, and killing dozens of civilians will get you no more than a reduction in rank, or a fraction of the time in prison.

And it is more than the differential treatment. There is also the hypocritical attitude towards extradition. Mentioned above was the case of Akhmadov, but he is hardly an exception.

During the spring of 2000 Washington helped Tomas Ricardo Anderson Kohatsu, a Peruvian intelligence official accused of torture escape arrest, saying he was entitled to diplomactic immunity.

In October of 2001, as Washington was asking the Taliban to turnover bin Laden, Haiti was asking Washington to turnover Emmanuel Constant for his role in a 1994 massacre. Washington was “defiant” as they “infuriated” Haiti by “brushing aside” their request.

Then there is Venezuela’s request for Luis Posada Carriles over his role in the 1973 bombing of a jet airliner that killed 73 people off the coast of Cuba.

Nearly a year ago Washington defied and infuriated Bolivia when they brushed aside the latter’s extradition request for former President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozado, who was wanted for charges of genocide.

Also, there is Armando Fernandez Larios, a Chilean soldier who was part of The Caravan of Death, a death squad group that went from prison to prison in Chile, following the 1973 military coup, and executed prisoners. But it wasn’t this crime that got him in trouble in the U.S. It was his role in the assassination of Americans on American soil. Though, as SF Weekly reports:

Fernandez Larios later fell out of favor with his military. He cut a deal with the U.S. Justice Department, much of which remains secret. In exchange for providing information on the assassin and Chilean intelligence operations, he’d go to a federal prison for seven years and would never be deported to Chile. Argentina wanted to extradite Fernandez Larios for his alleged involvement in another political hit, but the plea agreement protected him from that as well.

And finally there is the case of Robert Seldon Lady, the former CIA station chief in Milan, who is wanted in Italy, along with 22 of Lady’s accomplices in the agency, for his role in the 2003 abduction of Abu Omar, an Egyptian cleric. Omar was renditioned to Egypt, where he was repeatedly tortured.

A more exhaustive search of Washington’s foreign policy could reveal a book’s worth of examples where Washington comes to the aid of kidnappers, torturers, terrorists, executioners, and war criminals, either to avoid extradition or be granted a punishment considerably less than what a whistle-blower can expect. And it is this context which the New York Times has conveniently left out of their coverage of both Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden.

August 5, 2013 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima radioactive groundwater leak an ‘emergency’ – Japan’s nuclear watchdog

RT | August 5, 2013

Embattled Fukushima operator Tepco has been accused of a “weak sense of crisis”, as its failing battle to prevent radioactive water from seeping into the seawater near the plant has become an “emergency”, according to the country’s nuclear watchdog.

“You can’t just leave it [disposing of radioactive waste at the plant] up to Tepco,” Shinji Kinjo, head of a Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) told Reuters. “Right now, we have an emergency.”

Daily, 400 tons of groundwater percolates into the basements of the plant, which was decimated by the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. The seepage mixes with water used to cool down the damaged reactors, before accumulating, and escaping out into the Pacific Ocean.

For the past two years, Tepco claimed that it managed to siphon off the excess water into specially built storage tanks, but late last month admitted that toxic water was not contained.

The energy company, which is under financial pressure after being handed an $11 billion clean-up bill for Fukushima, has simultaneously hardened the earth around the plant with a special chemical, creating an impenetrable barrier on the side of the plant adjacent to the ocean.

But the shell is not complete: the technique only works 1.8 meters below the ground and further down.

So, water continues to build up inside the plant vaults, and will eventually reach the unprotected subsoil and topsoil, as more water goes in each day than is pumped out.

“If you build a wall, of course the water is going to accumulate there. And there is no other way for the water to go but up or sideways and eventually lead to the ocean,” Masashi Goto, a nuclear engineer who has worked at several Tepco plants, told Reuters. “So now, the question is how long do we have?”

Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported that the toxic water could begin spilling over within three weeks.

Kinjo refused to speculate about the exact timing, but said that any radioactive water that escapes that way “will flow extremely fast”.

Tepco is constructing a bypass that should decrease the groundwater inflows into the plant.

It has also promised to begin pumping enough radioactive seepage by the end of the week to stop the water level from rising. But the company faces limitations, as its radioactive liquid storage tanks are 85 percent full, and it has no clear plans to construct more, or to turn the current makeshift facilities into permanent ones.

“New measures are needed to stop the water from flowing into the sea,” emphasized Kinjo, who accused the energy giant of failing to implement long-term solutions for a crisis that has been going on for more than two years.

The impact of the radioactive water that has and will be released into the Pacific is hard to estimate, as Tepco has been slow to conduct studies and reluctant to release results to the public.

Last week, the company announced that it tested the release of radioactive isotope tritium, and said that it was within the legal limit. It now plans to test the sea water for cesium and strontium, which are considered much more dangerous for humans and the environment.

August 5, 2013 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bahrain Watch organization says Manama regime tracks critics via Twitter

Press TV – August 5, 2013

The Bahrain Watch organization has revealed that the Manama regime uses fake Twitter accounts to track government critics online.

Since October 2012, the Bahraini regime has detained several citizens for posting anonymous tweets that refer to Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

An eight-month investigation showed that the Bahraini regime identifies those anonymous online critics by sending them malicious IP (Internet Protocol) spy links from a network of Twitter and Facebook accounts impersonating well-known opposition figures or other seemingly friendly individuals.

When a person clicks on an IP spy link, the report said, the security forces reveal the IP address of the internet connection they clicked from.

The regime can then force the internet service provider of the IP address to disclose the real name and street address of that internet connection’s subscriber.

According to the report, an examination of court records for five related cases shows that the Public Prosecution’s case centers on linking the IP address of the defendant to the offending anonymous Twitter account.

The prosecution, however, declined to disclose how the IP addresses were acquired, citing information obtained through “private methods that cannot be disclosed.”

The Bahraini regime apparently uses these accounts in secret, and may target their followers, friends, or contacts through private messages.

The report also lists over 120 other accounts that were also targeted in Twitter with IP spy links traceable to the government over the past two years.

Bahrain Watch lead researcher Bill Marczak said, “It is outrageous enough that individuals have been arrested and jailed for mere tweets criticizing the government.”

“That these individuals are being tracked down and convicted based on such weak digital evidence only makes matters worse.”

Bahrain Watch has urged political and social activists in Bahrain, and around the world, to be vigilant about impersonation accounts and malicious links.

“Given the government’s track record, it comes as no surprise that it would resort to such measures to stifle free speech,” Marczak stated.

“However, our hope is that this report will spread awareness of the methods that governments around the world use to trap digital activists.”

August 5, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

DEA Conceals Reliance on Surveillance Conducted by Intelligence Agencies

ACLU | August 5, 2013

NEW YORK – The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is using secret surveillance tactics – including wiretaps and examining telephone records – to make arrests while concealing the source of the evidence from judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys, according to a story published today by Reuters. In cases where this intelligence is used to make an arrest, the DEA trains law enforcement to recreate the investigative trail in order to conceal the origins of the evidence.

“The DEA is violating our fundamental right to a fair trial,” said Ezekiel Edwards, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Criminal Law Reform Project. “When someone is accused of a crime, the Constitution guarantees the right to examine the government’s evidence, including its sources, and confront the witnesses against them. Our due process rights are at risk when our federal government hides and distorts the sources of evidence used as the basis for arrests and prosecutions.”

“When law enforcement agents and prosecutors conceal the role of intelligence surveillance in criminal investigations, they violate the constitutional rights of the accused and insulate controversial intelligence programs from judicial review,” said Jameel Jaffer, ACLU deputy legal director. “Effectively, these intelligence programs are placed beyond the reach of the Constitution, where they develop and expand without any court ever weighing in on their lawfulness. This is inappropriate, dangerous, and contrary to the rule of law.”

August 5, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

Lebanon: Who Is Behind the Attacks on Hezbollah?

By Ibrahim al-Amin | Al-Akhbar | August 5, 2013

For 25 years now, Hezbollah has been engaged in a war with many powerful intelligence outfits from around the world. These intelligence agencies have devoted tremendous resources to collect information on the party, in addition to pursuing both its civilian and military activities, not to mention carrying out assassinations against its cadre and leadership.

Israel has played a key role in these efforts, but it is hardly alone. After the assassination of Rafik Hariri in 2005, Hezbollah was subjected to the most ferocious campaign against it, with former US ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman admitting before Congress that Washington spent $500 million to undermine the party’s image.

After the outbreak of the Syrian uprising and Hezbollah’s open declaration of its involvement in the country’s fighting, the campaign intensified, with mounting threats to the party and its supporters that they may be subjected to revenge attacks.

First, the Resistance’s Dahiyeh stronghold was shelled with rockets. Similar attacks followed on many towns and villages in Baalbeck and Hermel. These were followed by roadside bombs targeting Hezbollah members on the main Lebanese highway to Syria, culminating in the massive Bir al-Abed blast in the heart of Dahiyeh.

Hezbollah is in a state of high alert due to the fact that it has been forced to fight simultaneously on two fronts. This has prompted Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah to tell the party’s cadre that they must be prepared for attacks that may involve both Syrian and Lebanese groups, without dropping their guard against their main enemy – Israel.

On the eve of Hezbollah’s engagement in the battle of Qusayr, it initiated a plan that involved:

– a series of practical steps to prevent the killing of Lebanese civilians held by the Syrian opposition in the north of the country;

– securing areas that may become targets of reprisals, including the border areas, Beirut, and South Lebanon.

The question today is: Who thought up an adventure of this kind against the Resistance? I wonder whether they thought about the party’s reaction.

Who are these people? Are they groups within the Free Syrian Army or the Salafi al-Nusra Front? Are they jihadi elements in Lebanon active in the North and Bekaa? Could they be Palestinians who have abandoned their cause to work as agents serving another agenda?

Who is helping them inside Lebanon? What are the Internal Security Forces (who take orders from the Future Party) doing about it? They seem to care little about people’s safety and are mainly concerned with collecting information on the Resistance.

In any case, Hezbollah has surprised friend and foe on more than one occasion in their intelligence capabilities. So, will the Resistance surprise us again by revealing who is behind these attacks?

August 5, 2013 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lieberman: There can be no political settlement with the Palestinians

Palestine Information Center – 05/08/2013

DataFiles-Cache-TempImgs-2013-2-images_News_2013_08_05_avigdor-lieberman_300_0NAZARETH — Avigdor Lieberman, the former Israeli foreign minister, ruled out the possibility of reaching a political settlement with the Palestinians, affirming that the negotiations would be confined to limited security and economic agreements.

In an interview posted Sunday on the website of the 10th Israeli channel, Lieberman said that the Israeli and Palestinian sides had conducted rounds of negotiations over the past years, but to no avail.

He added that it would be impossible to reach a political settlement with the Palestinians after all these years of negotiations.

Commenting on the Israeli government’s decision to release prisoners as a goodwill gesture towards the peace process, Lieberman, who opposes the idea, said that he gave his party Yisrael Beiteinu the freedom to vote in this regard and refrained from exposing its ministers to pressures.

As for the European Union’s decision to boycott Israeli settlements, he stated that Israel would move internationally and diplomatically against the European union and force it to reverse its decision.

August 5, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | Leave a comment

‘AL QAEDA’ IN 2013: REALISTIC THREAT OR JUST A CATCH-ALL PROPAGANDA LABEL FOR THE WEST’S ISLAMIC ENEMIES

By Damian Lataan | August 5, 2013

Neoconservatives have quickly jumped on the ‘al Qaeda is still a threat’ bandwagon after the weekend’s shutdown of many Western embassies throughout North Africa and the Middle East due, so we are told, to as yet unexplained and unspecified threat chatter between various so-called ‘al Qaeda’ groups.

Con Coughlin, a British neoconservative journalist with the UK’s Daily Telegraph writes.

For an organisation that is said to be in terminal decline, al-Qaeda will draw immense satisfaction from the events of this past weekend, when it demonstrated its ability to disrupt the work of Western governments by forcing the temporary closure of dozens of diplomatic missions throughout the Arab world.

Coughlin concedes that he has no idea what the threat is; only that “American intelligence officials are convinced that al-Qaeda is planning a spectacular attack to mark the festival of Eid, which comes at the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan” (Thursday 8 August 2013).

Coughlin takes the opportunity to expand the propaganda by mentioning ‘al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’ and referring to it as an “al Qaeda franchise”.

There are, it seems, a number of ‘al Qaeda franchises’ scattered around the broader region. Neoconservative writers are keen to mention them often in their various articles as they perpetuate the al Qaeda myth as being some kind of homogenous organisation that is well disciplined and structured and operating via a central ‘head office’ based somewhere in Afghanistan/Pakistan.

Well known warmonger and neocon, Max Boot writing in Commentary today lists some of these ‘franchises’. He writes:

News of al-Qaeda’s imminent demise was, it seems, greatly exaggerated… Far from going out of business, al-Qaeda has spread, via its regional affiliates, to North Africa (al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb), the Persian Gulf region (al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula), and Iraq and Syria (al-Qaeda in Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).

For Boot, the objective of his article is two-fold; first, to perpetuate the myth of a vast Islamic extremist organisation determined to destroy America and Israel, and, two, to justify the existence of a massive US security network and, in particular, the importance of the work of the NSA. This, in turn, justifies a massive expenditure on the military and especially in the new science of robotic surveillance and remote and robotically controlled weapons all aimed at keeping the West and the US in particular, as top dogs in the superpower stakes.

Ever since 9/11, al Qaeda has become a useful label that can be attached to any Islamic enemy of the West regardless of whether or not any of them actually do have any connection to the tiny hard-core original organisation that clustered around Osama bin Laden up until his demise in December 2001. The Israelis even tried to create a bogus ‘al Qaeda in Palestine’ group – but they were soon exposed as fakes.

Makes you wonder about the origins of the other groups. And, of course, if they’re such a tightly organised group, how come they’re fighting among themselves in Syria – and how come the most sophisticated ‘terror’ plot since several airliners were used to attack targets on 9/11 has been some bloke who tried to blow up his Y-fronts?

August 5, 2013 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment