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FBI Plans to Have 52 Million Photos in its NGI Face Recognition Database by Next Year

By Jennifer Lynch | EFF | April 14, 2014

New documents released by the FBI show that the Bureau is well on its way toward its goal of a fully operational face recognition database by this summer.

EFF received these records in response to our Freedom of Information Act lawsuit for information on Next Generation Identification (NGI)—the FBI’s massive biometric database that may hold records on as much as one third of the U.S. population. The facial recognition component of this database poses real threats to privacy for all Americans.

What is NGI?

NGI builds on the FBI’s legacy fingerprint database—which already contains well over 100 million individual records—and has been designed to include multiple forms of biometric data, including palm prints and iris scans in addition to fingerprints and face recognition data. NGI combines all these forms of data in each individual’s file, linking them to personal and biographic data like name, home address, ID number, immigration status, age, race, etc. This immense database is shared with other federal agencies and with the approximately 18,000 tribal, state and local law enforcement agencies across the United States.

The records we received show that the face recognition component of NGI may include as many as 52 million face images by 2015. By 2012, NGI already contained 13.6 million images representing between 7 and 8 million individuals, and by the middle of 2013, the size of the database increased to 16 million images. The new records reveal that the database will be capable of processing 55,000 direct photo enrollments daily and of conducting tens of thousands of searches every day.

NGI Will Include Non-Criminal as well as Criminal Photos

One of our biggest concerns about NGI has been the fact that it will include non-criminal as well as criminal face images. We now know that FBI projects that by 2015, the database will include 4.3 million images taken for non-criminal purposes.

Currently, if you apply for any type of job that requires fingerprinting or a background check, your prints are sent to and stored by the FBI in its civil print database. However, the FBI has never before collected a photograph along with those prints. This is changing with NGI. Now an employer could require you to provide a “mug shot” photo along with your fingerprints. If that’s the case, then the FBI will store both your face print and your fingerprints along with your biographic data.

In the past, the FBI has never linked the criminal and non-criminal fingerprint databases. This has meant that any search of the criminal print database (such as to identify a suspect or a latent print at a crime scene) would not touch the non-criminal database.  This will also change with NGI. Now every record—whether criminal or non—will have a “Universal Control Number” (UCN), and every search will be run against all records in the database. This means that even if you have never been arrested for a crime, if your employer requires you to submit a photo as part of your background check, your face image could be searched—and you could be implicated as a criminal suspect—just by virtue of having that image in the non-criminal file.

Many States Are Already Participating in NGI

The records detail the many states and law enforcement agencies the FBI has already been working with to build out its database of images (see map below). By 2012, nearly half of U.S. states had at least expressed an interest in participating in the NGI pilot program, and several of those states had already shared their entire criminal mug shot database with the FBI. The FBI hopes to bring all states online with NGI by this year.

Map of US States Coordinating with FBI on NGI Face Recognition

The FBI worked particularly closely with Oregon through a special project called “Face Report Card.” The goal of the project was to determine and provide feedback on the quality of the images that states already have in their databases. Through Face Report Card, examiners reviewed 14,408 of Oregon’s face images and found significant problems with image resolution, lighting, background and interference. Examiners also found that the median resolution of images was “well-below” the recommended resolution of .75 megapixels (in comparison, newer iPhone cameras are capable of 8 megapixel resolution).

FBI Disclaims Responsibility for Accuracy

At such a low resolution, it is hard to imagine that identification will be accurate.1 However, the FBI has disclaimed responsibility for accuracy, stating that “[t]he candidate list is an investigative lead not an identification.”

Because the system is designed to provide a ranked list of candidates, the FBI states NGI never actually makes a “positive identification,” and “therefore, there is no false positive rate.” In fact, the FBI only ensures that “the candidate will be returned in the top 50 candidates” 85 percent of the time “when the true candidate exists in the gallery.”

It is unclear what happens when the “true candidate” does not exist in the gallery—does NGI still return possible matches? Could those people then be subject to criminal investigation for no other reason than that a computer thought their face was mathematically similar to a suspect’s? This doesn’t seem to matter much to the FBI—the Bureau notes that because “this is an investigative search and caveats will be prevalent on the return detailing that the [non-FBI] agency is responsible for determining the identity of the subject, there should be NO legal issues.”

Nearly 1 Million Images Will Come from Unexplained Sources

One of the most curious things to come out of these records is the fact that NGI may include up to 1 million face images in two categories that are not explained anywhere in the documents. According to the FBI, by 2015, NGI may include:

  • 46 million criminal images
  • 4.3 million civil images
  • 215,000 images from the Repository for Individuals of Special Concern (RISC)
  • 750,000 images from a “Special Population Cognizant” (SPC) category
  • 215,000 images from “New Repositories”

However, the FBI does not define either the “Special Population Cognizant” database or the “new repositories” category. This is a problem because we do not know what rules govern these categories, where the data comes from, how the images are gathered, who has access to them, and whose privacy is impacted.

A 2007 FBI document available on the web describes SPC as “a service provided to Other Federal Organizations (OFOs), or other agencies with special needs by agreement with the FBI” and notes that “[t]hese SPC Files can be specific to a particular case or subject set (e.g., gang or terrorist related), or can be generic agency files consisting of employee records.” If these SPC files and the images in the “new repositories” category are assigned a Universal Control Number along with the rest of the NGI records, then these likely non-criminal records would also be subject to invasive criminal searches.

Government Contractor Responsible for NGI has built some of the Largest Face Recognition Databases in the World

The company responsible for building NGI’s facial recognition component—MorphoTrust (formerly L-1 Identity Solutions)—is also the company that has built the face recognition systems used by approximately 35 state DMVs and many commercial businesses.2 MorphoTrust built and maintains the face recognition systems for the Department of State, which has the “largest facial recognition system deployed in the world” with more than 244 million records,3 and for the Department of Defense, which shares its records with the FBI.

The FBI failed to release records discussing whether MorphoTrust uses a standard (likely proprietary) algorithm for its face templates. If it does, it is quite possible that the face templates at each of these disparate agencies could be shared across agencies—raising again the issue that the photograph you thought you were taking just to get a passport or driver’s license is then searched every time the government is investigating a crime. The FBI seems to be leaning in this direction: an FBI employee email notes that the “best requirements for sending an image in the FR system” include “obtain[ing] DMV version of photo whenever possible.”

Why Should We Care About NGI?

There are several reasons to be concerned about this massive expansion of governmental face recognition data collection. First, as noted above, NGI will allow law enforcement at all levels to search non-criminal and criminal face records at the same time. This means you could become a suspect in a criminal case merely because you applied for a job that required you to submit a photo with your background check.

Second, the FBI and Congress have thus far failed to enact meaningful restrictions on what types of data can be submitted to the system, who can access the data, and how the data can be used. For example, although the FBI has said in these documents that it will not allow non-mug shot photos such as images from social networking sites to be saved to the system, there are no legal or even written FBI policy restrictions in place to prevent this from occurring. As we have stated before, the Privacy Impact Assessment for NGI’s face recognition component hasn’t been updated since 2008, well before the current database was even in development. It cannot therefore address all the privacy issues impacted by NGI.

Finally, even though FBI claims that its ranked candidate list prevents the problem of false positives (someone being falsely identified), this is not the case. A system that only purports to provide the true candidate in the top 50 candidates 85 percent of the time will return a lot of images of the wrong people. We know from researchers that the risk of false positives increases as the size of the dataset increases—and, at 52 million images, the FBI’s face recognition is a very large dataset. This means that many people will be presented as suspects for crimes they didn’t commit. This is not how our system of justice was designed and should not be a system that Americans tacitly consent to move towards.

For more on our concerns about the increased role of face recognition in criminal and civil contexts, read Jennifer Lynch’s 2012 Senate Testimony. We will continue to monitor the FBI’s expansion of NGI.

Here are the documents:

FBI NGI Description of Face Recognition Program

FBI NGI Report Card on Oregon Face Recognition Program

FBI NGI Sample Memorandum of Understanding with States

FBI NGI Face Recognition Goals & Objectives

FBI NGI Information on Implementation

FBI Emails re. NGI Face Recognition Program

FBI Emails from Contractors re. NGI

FBI NGI 2011 Face Recognition Operational Prototype Plan

FBI NGI Document Discussing Technical Characteristics of Face Recognition Component

FBI NGI 2010 Face Recognition Trade Study Plan

FBI NGI Document on L-1’s Commercial Face Recognition Product

  • 1. In fact, another document notes that “since the trend for the quality of data received by the customer is lower and lower quality, specific research and development plans for low quality submission accuracy improvement is highly desirable.”
  • 2. MorphoTrust’s parent company, Safran Morpho, describes itself as “[t]he world leader in biometric systems,” is largely responsible for implementing India’s Aadhaar project, which, ultimately, will collect biometric data from nearly 1.2 billion people.
  • 3. One could argue that Facebook’s is larger. Facebook states that its users have uploaded more than 250 billion photos. However, Facebook never performs face recognition searches on that entire 250 billion photo database.

April 14, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | 6 Comments

Thirty Venezuelan Military Officials Allegedly Under Arrest for Coup Plotting

By Ewan Robertson | Venezuelanalysis | Aprilm 14, 2014

Thirty Venezuelan military officers of different ranks, including several generals, have been arrested for alleged conspiracy to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro, a leading national newspaper has reported.

The information, reported by Ultimas Noticias, was attributed to “high level sources” in Miraflores presidential palace. The majority of those arrested are from the Venezuelan Air Force, however a few officers from the National Guard, Navy and Armed Forces were also arrested.

According to the sources, loyal military figures previously informed the national intelligence service that “something strange” was being planned by a group of officers, and due to this the alleged conspirators had been under observation by authorities for some time.

The UN report adds that a “destablisation attempt” was supposedly planned to occur on 20 March with an air operation and strafing of soldiers, among other incidents, to create “confusion” and “clashes”.

Further, the report alleges that “it has been confirmed” that the group of officers has been in contact “with at least one opposition leader”. There exist rumours that this politician is Julio Borges of the Justice First party, of which former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles is leader. According to the rumours, Borges met with a group of 60 military officials, to which those arrested would presumably belong.

Both Borges and Capriles participated in the nationally-broadcast dialogue meeting with the government last Thursday.

Authorities have not yet offered public comment on Ultimas Noticias’ allegations on the arrest of the thirty military officers.

On 25 March Maduro announced that three air force generals had been arrested “for conspiracy” but has not offered further details while the investigation continues. The government has also said that it has information of a plot from within a sector of the opposition to kill protest leader Leopoldo Lopez and blame the act on government supporters in order to provoke a coup attempt.

The Venezuelan armed forces are considered to be generally loyal to the government. The head of the Operational Strategic Command of the Armed Forces, Gen. Vladimir Padrino, said yesterday that a while a campaign was underway to “manipulate” the armed forces (FANB), the troops are committed to their role of upholding the Venezuelan constitution.

Venezuela has experienced a wave of opposition protests, riots and street barricades since early February, after hard-line leaders of the opposition called for resistance to the government in a strategy called “The Exit”.

April 14, 2014 Posted by | Militarism | , | 1 Comment

The reality behind the swine flu conspiracy

By Irina Galushko | RT | November 26, 2009

The message is clear – we are all going to die from swine flu. It spreads fast, it is dangerous, and it must be feared – says the World Health Organization.

But worry not – there is a way to save yourself. Just get a flu shot – and purchase a remedy for the deadly virus. Those are the instructions from the WHO.

However, the WHO may find itself coughing up explanations, as more and more scientists and health researchers, and even journalists, are starting to question the organization’s motives behind raising the alert so quickly.

According to the Danish Daily Information newspaper, the WHO and pharmaceutical companies are suffering from the profit bug. Or, to put it simply, the chief health care organization in the world has teamed up with the drug makers to create a phantom monster – and to rake in cash by selling a remedy for it.

Plastered all over the front pages and headlines news, swine flu made its triumphant entrance into limelight, heralded as the next “in” virus, which threatened to bring an end to humanity as we know it.

Let’s stop right there and talk numbers for a little bit.

So far, more than 3.5 million people have been reported to be infected with swine flu worldwide. More than 9,000 deaths have been confirmed.

In comparison: every year, up to one billion people get infected with seasonal flu, with up to 500 million deaths. These numbers come from the World Health Organization, but they never make headline news for some reason.

On June 11 of this year, the WHO declared swine flu a pandemic. But few know that, right before doing that, the Organization changed its definition, taking out the word “deadly” from it.

Aleksander Saversky, the chair of the Patient’s Rights Protection League, was one of those who did pay attention. He says it is clear that the WHO dramatized the situation around the H1N1 virus. In an interview to RT, Saversky speculated that it is due to the WHO’s close ties with the world’s major pharmaceutical companies.

And recently, Danish journalists conducted their own research, which resulted in accusations that the WHO, and scientists who appear to be independent are, in fact, on pharmaceutical companies’ payroll.

Saversky points out that the WHO declared the status of pandemic when only a few thousand people were infected with it – something that is highly illogical, he says, considering the hundred thousand more cases of seasonal flu never gets paid such high attention.

The virus was reported to be extremely deadly. Parallels were drawn to the Spanish Flu, which killed roughly 50 million people worldwide in the span of six months.

As panic spread, people rushed to clinics for Tamiflu – $145 a pop and by prescription only in the US – and for vaccinations, which range anywhere from $10 to $50. And despite the fact that many have lost their jobs in the financial crisis, and were left without health insurance, vaccinations and pharmaceutical sales skyrocketed. Nobody wants to die a grisly death from the supposedly new virus.

Aleksander Saversky warns the hullaballoo over swine flu is akin to the fable of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” He says that, because of this hype, the next time a truly dangerous virus comes about, no one will take any precautions. Fooled once already by swine flu, people will ignore the warnings and fall prey to a more dangerous – and deadly virus.

In fact, vaccinating people from swine flu during the seasonal flu outbreak, in Saversky’s opinion, is criminal. People end up having to battle two viruses at the same time, which puts an enormous strain on the immune system.

Saversky puts the blame on capitalism – pharmaceutical companies make billions on people’s fears, combined with asymmetrical information dispersal (meaning that most people know very little substantial information about the virus, whereas the WHO, pharmaceutical companies and researchers know a lot more).

So, what’s to be done to conquer the virus – and stop the WHO?

Saversky says there is one solution – for governments worldwide to step in and take matters into their own hands, by controlling healthcare and pharmaceutical production.

Until that happens, however, remember to check for all common flu symptoms. And should a general disinclination to work of any kind be among them, rest assured – it is most probably a run-of-the-mill case of the Monday Blues.

April 14, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Torture is Mainstream Now

By David Swanson | War is a Crime | April 13, 2014

As Rebecca Gordon notes in her new book, Mainstreaming Torture, polls find greater support in the United States for torture now than when Bush was president. And it’s not hard to see why that would be the case.

Fifteen years ago, it was possible to pretend the U.S. government opposed torture. Then it became widely known that the government tortured. And it was believed (with whatever accuracy) that officials had tried to keep the torturing secret. Next it became clear that nobody would be punished, that in fact top officials responsible for torture would be permitted to openly defend what they had done as good and noble.

The idea was spread around that the torture was stopping, but the cynical could imagine it must be continuing in secret, the partisan could suppose the halt was only temporary, the trusting could assume torture would be brought back as needed, and the attentive could be and have been aware that the government has gone right on torturing to this day with no end in sight.

Anyone who bases their morality on what their government does (or how Hollywood supports it) might be predicted to have moved in the direction of supporting torture.

Gordon’s book, like most others, speaks of torture as being largely in the past — even while admitting that it isn’t really. “Bush administration-era policies” are acknowledged to be ongoing, and yet somehow they retain the name “Bush administration-era policies,” and discussion of their possible prosecution in a court of law does not consider the control that the current chief perpetrator has over law enforcement and his obvious preference not to see a predecessor prosecuted for something he’s doing.

President Elect Obama made clear in January 2009 that he would not allow torturers to be prosecuted and would be “looking forward” instead of (what all law enforcement outside of science fiction requires) backward. By February 2009, reports were coming in that torture at Guantanamo was worsening rather than ceasing, and included: “beatings, the dislocation of limbs, spraying of pepper spray into closed cells, applying pepper spray to toilet paper and over-forcefeeding detainees who are on hunger strike.” In April 2009 a Guantanamo prisoner phoned a media outlet to report being tortured. As time went by the reports kept coming, as the military’s written policy would lead one to expect.

In May 2009, former vice president Dick Cheney forced into the news the fact that, even though Obama had “banned torture” by executive order (torture being a felony and a treaty violation before and after the “banning”) Obama maintained the power to use torture as needed. Cheney said that Obama’s continued claim of the power to torture vindicated his own (Cheney’s) authorization of torture. David Axelrod, White House Senior Advisor, refused repeatedly, to dispute Cheney’s assertion — also supported by Leon Panetta’s confirmation hearing for CIA director, at which he said the president had the power to torture and noted that rendition would continue.  In fact, it did. The New York Times quickly reported that the U.S. was now outsourcing more torture to other countries. The Obama administration announced a new policy on renditions that kept them in place, and a new policy on lawless permanent imprisonment that kept it in place but formalized it, mainstreamed it.  Before long Obama-era rendition victims were alleging torture.

As the Obama White House continued and sought to extend the occupation of Iraq, torture continued to be an Iraqi policy, as it has post-occupation. It has also remained a U.S. and Afghan policy in Afghanistan, with no end in sight. The U.S. military has continued to use the same personnel as part of its torture infrastructure. And secret CIA torture prisons have continued to pop into the news even though the CIA was falsely said to have abandoned that practice.  While the Obama administration has claimed unprecedented powers to block civil suits against torturers, it has also used, in court, testimony produced by torture, something that used to be illegal (and still is if you go by written laws).

“Look at the current situation,” Obama said in 2013, “where we are force-feeding detainees who are being held on a hunger strike . . . Is this who we are?” Well, it is certainly who some of us have become, including Obama, the senior authority in charge of the soldiers doing the force-feeding, and a human chameleon able to express outrage at his own policies, a trick that is perhaps more central to the mainstreaming of vicious and sadistic practices than we always care to acknowledge.

The mainstreaming of torture in U.S. policy and entertainment has stimulated a burst of torture use around the globe, even as the U.S. State Department has never stopped claiming to oppose torture when it’s engaged in by anyone other than the U.S. government. If “Bush-era policies” is taken to refer to public relations policies, then there really is something to discuss.  The U.S. government tortured before, during, and after Bush and Cheney ran the show. But it was during those years that people talked about it, and it is with regard to those years that people still talk about it.

As Rebecca Gordon’s book, Mainstreaming Torture: Ethical Approaches in the Post-9/11 United States, recounts well, torture has been around. Native Americans and enslaved African Americans were tortured.  The CIA has always tortured.  The School of the Americas has long trained torturers. The war on Vietnam was a war of mass-murder and mass-torture. Torture is standard practice in U.S. prisons, where the torture of Muslims began post-9-11, where some techniques originated and some prison guards came from via the National Guard who brought their torturing to an international set of victims for the Bush-Obama era. [Abuse of POWs and torture were also common practices of both sides of the American civil war, post WWII rape of civilians and abuse and murder of POWs was rampant as well]

One of Gordon’s central points, and an important one, is that torture is not an isolated incident. Rather it is an institution, a practice, a collective endeavor that requires planning and organization. Defenders of torture often defend a widespread practice of purely vicious evil by reference to a single imaginary incident in which it would make sense to torture someone. Imagine, they say, that you knew for certain (as of course you would not) that many people were about to be killed unless a particular person revealed something.  Imagine you were certain (as of course you would not be) that you had found that person. Imagine that contrary to accumulated wisdom you believed the best way to elicit the information was through torture, and that you were sure (as of course you would not be) that the information would be revealed, that it would be accurate (nobody EVER lies under torture), and that it would prevent the greater tragedy (and not just delay it or move it), with no horrible side-effects or lasting results. Then, in that impossible scenario, wouldn’t you agree to torture the person?

And doesn’t that fantasy justify having thousands of people prepared to engage in torture even though they’ll inevitably torture in all sorts of other situations that actually exist, and even though many thousands of people will be driven to hate the nation responsible? And doesn’t it justify training a whole culture to support the maintenance of an apparatus of torture, even though uses of torture outside the fantasized scenario will spread like wildfire through local police and individual vigilantes and allied governments?

Of course not. And that’s why I’m glad Gordon has tackled torture as a matter of ethics, although her book seems a bit weighed down by academic jargon. I come at this as someone who got a master’s degree in philosophy, focusing on ethics, back before 9-11, back when torture was used as an example of something evil in philosophy classes. Even then, people sometimes referred to “recreational torture,” although I never imagined they meant that any other type of torture was good, only that it was slightly less evil. Even today, the polls that show rising — still minority — support for torture, show stronger — majority — support for murder, that is for a president going through a list of men, women, and children, picking which ones to have murdered, and having them murdered, usually with a missile from a drone — as long as nobody tortures them.

While many people would rather be tortured than killed, few people oppose the killing of others as strongly as they oppose torturing them. In part this may be because of the difficulty of torturing for the torturers. If foreigners or enemies are valued at little or nothing, and if killing them is easier than torturing them, then why not think of killing as “cleaner” just as the Obama administration does? That’s one ethical question I’d like to see taken up even more than that of torture alone. Another is the question of whether we don’t have a duty to put everything we have into opposing the evil of the whole — that being the Nuremberg phrase for war, an institution that brings with it murder, imprisonment, torture, rape, injury, trauma, hatred, and deceit.

If you are going to take on the ethics of torture alone, Mainstreaming Torture provides an excellent summary of how philosophy departments now talk about it. First they try to decide whether to be consequentialist or deontological or virtue-based. This is where the jargon takes over. A consequentialist ethics is one that decides on the propriety of actions based on what their likely consequences will be. A deontological ethics declares certain actions good or bad apart from their consequences. And an ethics of virtues looks at the type of life created by someone who behaves in various ways, and whether that person is made more virtuous in terms of any of a long list of possible virtues.

A competition between these types of ethics quickly becomes silly, while an appreciation of them as a collection of insights proves valuable. A consequentialist or utilitarian ethics is easily parodied and denounced, in particular because supporters of torture volunteer such arguments. Would you torture one person to save the lives of two people? Say yes, and you’re a simple-minded consequentialist with no soul. But say no and you’re demonstrably evil. The correct answer is of course that it’s a bad question. You’ll never face such a situation, and fantasizing about it is no guide to whether your government should fund an ongoing torture program the real aim and results of which are to generate war propaganda, scare people, and consolidate power.

A careful consideration of all consequences, short- and long-term, structural and subtle, is harder to parody and tends to encompass much of what is imagined to lie outside the purview of the utilitarian simpleton (or corporate columnist). The idea of an ethics that is not based on consequences appeals to people who want to base their ethics on obedience to a god or other such delusion, but the discussions of deontological ethicists are quite helpful nonetheless. In identifying exactly how and why torture is as incredibly offensive as it is, these writers clarify the problem and move people against any support for torture.

The idea of an ethics based entirely on how actions impact the character of the actor is self-indulgent and arbitrary, and yet the discussion of virtues (and their opposite) is terrifically illuminating — in particular as to the level of cowardice being promoted by the policy of employing torture and any other evil practice in hopes of being kept safe.

I think these last two types of ethics, deontological and virtue — that is, ongoing discussion in their terms — have good consequences. And I think that consequentialism and principled integrity are virtues, while engaging in consequentialism and virtue ethics lead to better deontological talk as well as fulfillment of the better imperatives declared by the deontologists. So, the question should not be finding the proper ethical theory but finding the proper ethical behavior. How do you get someone who opposes torturing Americans to oppose torturing human beings? How do you get someone who wants desperately to believe that torture has in fact saved lives to look at the facts? How do you get someone who believes that anyone who is tortured deserves it to consider the evidence, and to face the possibility that the torture is used in part to make us see certain people as evil, rather than their evilness actually preceding and justifying the torture? How do you get Republicans loyal to Bush or Democrats loyal to Obama to put human rights above their loyalty?

As Gordon recounts, torture in reality has generated desired falsehoods to support wars, created lots of enemies rather than eliminating them, encouraged and directly trained more torturers, promoted cowardice rather than courage, degraded our ability to think of others as fully human, perverted our ideas of justice, and trained us all to pretend not to know something is going on while silently supporting its continued practice. None of that can help us much in any other ethical pursuit.

April 14, 2014 Posted by | Book Review, Deception, Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture | Leave a comment

Syrian chemical weapons: Israel and France fabricate a new case

By Hassan Illeik | Al-Akhbar | April 14, 2014

Seven months after the end of the Syrian chemical weapons crisis, the Syrian army is making progress in the Damascus countryside and the opposition is exerting all its military might to achieve a strategic victory in Aleppo. Recently, news of the regime using poison gas against the opposition has reemerged with Israel leading the charge.

All the voices calling for organizing the Geneva III conference for negotiations between the Syrian government and the opposition have faded. The circumstances on the ground that allowed the regime not to give concessions at Geneva II still hold. The Syrian army continues, with its allies, to make progress on the ground. This allows the regime, once again, not to give any serious concessions in any negotiations that will take place in the foreseeable future. It is on this basis that the opposition’s latest battles in Quneitra, Daraa, Kassab, Idlib and Aleppo have been waged.

Until now, it appears that of all the battles, the battle of Aleppo stands in a class of its own. In the battles of Damascus, its countryside (Eastern Ghouta and Qalamoun), Homs and its nearby surroundings, the opposition forces acknowledged their loss. They put up a strong fight just to make the other side pay a heavy price. All the other battles do not make up, in military or moral terms, for losing in Damascus and the central region, except the battle for Aleppo. That is why we see the opposition forces’ massive mobilization in the economic capital of Syria.

The opposition is not merely talking about making progress in Aleppo but is promising to take complete control of the largest city in the north. Based on its discussions, the opposition wants to achieve a quick victory in Aleppo before the regime and its allies finish their battles in Damascus and Homs. Achieving stability in the capital and the central region for the regime will free up a large segment of the elite forces and will allow the Syrian army and its allies to move towards other active fronts. It would then be very difficult for the opposition to achieve progress of any strategic value in the north or the south. Until today, the al-Qaeda-inspired fighters have not been able to make a strategic breakthrough in the north. In Aleppo, the war is led by Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar (Army of Foreign Fighters and Supporters) which includes mostly Caucasian fighters who are well-trained and have combat experience.

Against this background, news has emerged once again that the Syrian army has used chemical weapons. Last August, the Syrian government asked for an investigation of an incident whereby militants used chemical weapons in Khan al-Asal in Aleppo. But after the attack on Eastern Ghouta, the regime was accused by Western forces of using poison gas against the opposition. Washington led a campaign threatening an attack on Syria until Russia proposed a solution that required Syria to give up its chemical arsenal. This time, the Syrian government sent a letter to the United Nations on March 25 saying that it monitored communications between the opposition in Jobar, which is adjacent to the capital, indicating that “the terrorist organizations are going to launch attacks by using poison gas with the aim of framing government forces.”

While the opposition has remained silent, Israel this time led the charge of accusing the regime of using chemical weapons. On April 7, the Israeli Channel 10 website reported a “major Israeli security source” saying that the Syrian army has gone back to using chemical weapons against the opposition forces. It used it at least in one case on March 17 in Harasta, eastern Damascus. According to the Israeli security source, the material used was not deadly chemical weapons found on the list of prohibited materials based on the agreement with the West, but rather substances that cripple those exposed to it for several hours.

After four days, the Syrian opposition grabbed the accusation and ran with it. The Syrian National Coalition issued a statement asking the international community to investigate the use of poison gas by the regime in Harasta. The Western press started again to play the tune of the regime using chemical weapons. Yesterday, the regime and the opposition exchanged accusations about using poison gas in the town of Kfar Zita in the Hama countryside.

Washington has distanced itself from this debate so far. The State Department’s spokesperson, Jennifer Psaki, said yesterday that her country does not have proof of chemical weapons use. The British and the French seem more excited than others to take up the issue. Western diplomatic sources in Paris say that since the failure of the Geneva II conference, the French authorities have been talking about the possibility of the Syrian regime using chemical weapons that are not internationally prohibited and that the international community must act to deter the regime.

The source likened this claim to the audio recording of a secret meeting of the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s work team published on March 27 in which they talked about creating a pretext that would allow Turkey to intervene militarily in Syria. But intervention does not seem possible at this point. According to a source close to the regime in Syria, the goal of “this intimidation is twofold. Exonerating the opposition of what it is doing and a desperate attempt to draw red lines in front of the the Syrian army and its allies in their battle in the Damascus countryside so the opposition can make some progress in the north.”

April 14, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

WW2 revisionism jeopardizing Zionist hegemony

By Brandon Martinez | Press TV | April 14, 2014

The Canadian Jewish News website recently reported that a “holocaust” remembrance group headed by the rabid Zionist Mario Silva, a former Liberal MP from Toronto, is stepping up efforts to suppress discussion and debate about what really happened in Germany’s concentration camps during the Second World War.

The prejudicial group, which calls itself the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), essentially defines “holocaust denial” as anything that is not in complete conformity with Zionist mythology and dogma surrounding WWII.

In his book The Holocaust Dogma of Judaism, Jewish writer Ben Weintraub argues that the holocaust story has become a new religion for Jews around the world. Historian Michael Hoffman has called the holocaust — as it is defined by the victorious powers of WWII and their Hollywood propagandists — “pornography” and points out that it has replaced Christianity as the state religion of the Western world.

Jewish scholar Norman Finkelstein described Organized Jewry’s campaign to mentally enslave the Western populace with ethnocentric and dogmatic memes relating to Jewish victimhood during the WWII period as a multi-billion dollar industry and extortion racket designed to bolster Israel and Zionist power.

Other historians, such as Jurgen Graf and Carlo Mattogno, have argued that the official holocaust story, which was handed down to the public by murderous governments headed by genocidaires like Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt, contains lies and exaggerations deliberately created to hide Allied atrocities and mask Zionist depravity vis-à-vis the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

Whether one believes it or not, whatever happened to Jews in the Second World War is no excuse for what the Zionists inflicted upon the Palestinians three years after the end of that war: the forced expulsion of 800,000 indigenous Arab Palestinians from their homes and villages, the total destruction of more than 500 of those villages, and many brutal massacres of thousands of Palestinians, including women and children. These inhuman abuses continue to this day with the full backing of much of the Western world, in large part due to sympathy elicited from “holocaust” guilt.

The Zionists’ delusional campaign to extirpate debate about this topic will inevitably have the opposite effect. By attempting to inculcate Orwellian conformity by enforcing – through threats of financial deprivation or imprisonment — rigid parameters around this one historical event, the Zionists exude a certain over-zealousness that usually emanates from a position of weakness and insecurity.

If the Zionists have such a strong argument to back up their story, why then do they need to legislate against dissenting opinions? Why did the Zionists lobby get dozens of European governments to enact Stalinist “holocaust denial” laws to prevent skeptics from voicing their views and findings? As former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asked, why prohibit research on this subject if the evidence for it is so solid and irrefutable?

Many thousands of innocent researchers and writers are languishing in European jails simply for conducting forensic and documentary research pertaining to Germany’s policy towards Jews during the Second World War. Since their findings do not conform to orthodox belief, they are hounded and harassed, fined and imprisoned, much like Galileo was for contradicting the official doctrines of the Catholic Church.

This monstrosity is allowed to take place with very little protest from supposed defenders of free speech. The mass media operates in conjunction with the main Zionist groups to vilify revisionist researchers and cover up the mistakes and distortions of incompetent “holocaust” scholars like Raul Hilberg and Deborah Lipstadt.

At the Toronto show trial of Ernst Zundel in 1985, Hilberg testified for the prosecution who sought to send Zundel to jail for publishing a revisionist booklet titled Did Six Million Really Die? Hilberg was cross-examined by Zundel’s defence lawyer Douglas Christie and was forced to make some damaging concessions to the revisionists. Hilberg admitted on the stand that there is no known Hitler order or directive outlining a plan or program to exterminate the Jews of Europe, contradicting statements he made in his own book, The Destruction of the European Jews, where he claimed just the opposite. In the second revised edition of his book, Hilberg excised all previous references to a Hitler extermination order. When asked by Christie to produce a single scientific autopsy report proving the homicidal gassing hypothesis, Hilberg told the court: “I’m at a loss.”

Deborah Lipstadt, the queen of holocaust dogmatism who aggressively attacks revisionist scholarship with erroneous smears, is also known for her utter incompetence and brazen hubris. For years, Lipstadt and other Zionist “historians” touted the now-discredited four million deaths at Auschwitz figure – a Soviet propaganda lie that was revised to around one million in 1990 (the one million figure is also contested by revisionist historians).

Lipstadt also promoted as “fact” the hugely exaggerated Majdanek death total of 1.7 million Jews. The inflated Majdanek death figure was a propaganda invention of a Moscow-based journalist named Raymond Arthur Davies who was on the payroll of the Canadian Jewish Congress. A slightly lower but likewise false figure of 1.5 million Majdanek deaths was even trumpeted at the Allied-run kangaroo court at Nuremberg after the war. The current research director of that camp, Tomasz Kranz, now estimates that 60,000 people died at Majdanek during the war.

Ian J. Kagedan, a spokesman for the Zionist-Masonic society of B’nai B’rith, clearly outlined the true agenda of “holocaust remembrance” in the Nov. 26, 1991, edition of the Toronto Star. He explained in no uncertain terms that memorializing the holocaust story “is central to the new world order” and that the Zionist vision for the world hinges upon the public acquiescing to the “holocaust’s lessons.”

In an essay dealing with this subject, Dr. Harrell Rhome pointed out that the holocaust dogma was created to deceive Gentiles into accepting a position of inferiority to Jews, “causing them to ostentatiously and obligingly revere the Chosen Ones – and support them with money.”

Perhaps we should all take a second, closer look at the events of World War II – the Zionists’ darkest secrets of all may be found there.

April 14, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | 4 Comments

DFLP militants ‘fire 3 mortar shells’ at Israeli vehicles in Gaza

Ma’an – 14/04/2014

GAZA CITY – The military wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine said it fired mortar shells at Israeli military vehicles that entered Gaza early Monday.

bulldozerThe National Resistance Brigades said in a statement that four Israeli military vehicles crossed into Palestinian territory east of the village of al-Qarara in the southern Gaza Strip.

According to the statement, the group responded by firing three mortar shells at the Israeli vehicles.

No injuries or damages were reported.

“National resistance will remain the only path to restore Palestinian rights,” the Brigades’ statement said.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said she was not familiar with the incident.

The shells were fired two days after the DFLP said the National Resistance Brigades targeted an Israeli military jeep near the Kissufim military base east of the Gaza Strip.

A statement said that on Saturday “the military site Kissufim was also targeted with three mortar shells in response to the ongoing Israeli attacks on unarmed Palestinians.”

An Israeli military spokeswoman said on Sunday that “there was alarm in the area overnight,” and an explosion was heard, but she said that Israeli forces were still searching the area.

On Friday, five Palestinian medics suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation after Israeli forces fired a tear gas canister at their ambulance in the northern Gaza Strip, a day after Israeli forces shot four Palestinians in two incidents near the border fence.

April 14, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , | 1 Comment

ASA Increases Membership, Support in Wake of Academic Boycott of Israel Endorsement

By Chris Carlson |International Middle East Media Center | April 13, 2014

In the wake of the American Studies Association’s December 2013 endorsement of the Palestinian civil society call for an academic boycott of Israel – and as two efforts to legislate against academic boycotts fail to move forward in the Illinois and Maryland state legislatures – the ASA has gained new members and support. Over the past several months, the ASA has welcomed more than 700 new members. The ASA has also collected more membership revenue in the past three months than in any other three-month period over the past quarter-century and its ongoing “Stand with the ASA” grassroots fundraising campaign has exceeded the association’s expectations thus far.

Last week, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, released a statement in support of the ASA’s boycott efforts. In it, he states that: “In South Africa, we could not have achieved our democracy without the help of people around the world, who through the use of non-violent means, such as boycotts and divestment, encouraged their governments and other corporate actors to reverse decades-long support for the Apartheid regime. … The [anti-boycott] legislation being proposed in the United States would have made participation in a movement like the one that ended Apartheid in South Africa extremely difficult.” The day before his statement was released, an Illinois State Senate Committee rejected a resolution condemning academic boycotts. A bill to defund universities that subsidize faculty associations with organizations supporting boycotts was also scuttled in Maryland, where non-binding condemnatory language was instead inserted into the budget bill.

ASA President Curtis Marez stated, “Despite the backlash of the last few months, the ASA is thriving. The boycott vote is consistent with our longstanding support for human rights and opposition to war and militarism. Many Americans are now for the first time hearing about their government’s support for the occupation and discriminatory laws against Palestinians. I’m proud that the ASA helped open up discussion about BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) and the difference it can make.” Commentary by ASA leaders, members and supporters was published in the Los Angeles Times, Chronicle of Higher Education,Washington Post, New York Times, CNN.com, and the Chicago Tribune, among other news outlets.

In response to the legislative threats from politicians, threatened legal action, and physical threats from others, veteran attorneys have stepped forward to assist the ASA in responding to such legal bullying for taking a principled stand in support of Palestinian human rights. The ASA is not the only organization to face such bullying; in 2013 alone, Palestine Solidarity Legal Support, an initiative built in partnership with the Center for Constitutional Rights,documented more than 100 cases of legal and other intimidation against Palestinian rights activists on U.S. campuses.

Incoming ASA president Lisa Duggan noted, “We are looking forward to our upcoming annual meeting in November, which will feature a wealth of panels and events presenting first-rate American Studies scholarship on topics ranging from the politics of settler colonialism and transnational Black studies to popular culture and contemporary performance art. We will be welcoming Palestinian and Israeli scholars along with large contingents of other international ASA members poised to continue addressing matters of global concern affecting all of us.”

April 14, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , | 1 Comment