Aletho News


Activists demand answers after news of NYPD spying on political groups

RT | May 27, 2014

Following the news that the New York Police Department sent undercover officers to monitor political organizations, multiple activist groups are looking for an audit of the department’s wide-ranging surveillance program.

The complaint has been filed with the NYPD’s new office of the inspector general, which the City Council created against the wishes of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg in order to oversee the police department’s policies – particularly in light of criticism regarding its stop-and-frisk tactics and surveillance of Muslim communities.

According to the New York Times, the groups are calling for a comprehensive investigation into the NYPD’s intelligence division, which has been operating the police force’s surveillance program for years. The move comes as the groups seek more transparency from police following the election of new Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose administration they believe will be supportive.

“We need tangible, concrete proposals of how we can ensure the NYPD does not target an entire group, set of groups, or political activists in general based on their participation in political advocacy,” the complaint reads.

Although most of the parties involved were not named, the Times revealed that one of the organizations behind the complaint is Friends of Brad Will – a group dedicated to increasing public awareness of human rights abuses connected to the “War on Drugs.”

As noted by the newspaper, the group believed it had attracted the attention of the police for years, and investigative reporting by the Associated Press confirmed that “an undercover officer had infiltrated a Friends of Brad Will meeting in New Orleans in 2008 and had sent a report noting plans for future actions by the group.”

In addition to spying on political groups, Reuters reported that police classified those employing civil disobedience as “terrorist organizations” and kept secret files on individual members.

Much of the NYPD’s surveillance efforts could be traced to the aftermath of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, but the groups claim police activity has negatively affected their ability to organize and that their constitutional rights to assemble, petition the government, and practice free speech have been violated.

“These kinds of police programs can’t just be laid at the feet of a post-9/11 world and the argument that security outweighs legal protections,” Friends of Brad Will coordinator Robert Jereski told Reuters.

According to the Times, the complaint is requesting that the inspector general disclose “a full description of the training which officers undergo before being tasked with targeting political activists.”

This isn’t the first time that the NYPD has come under fire for political surveillance, either. In 2004, police were found to be monitoring church groups, anti-war organizations and others in the lead-up to the Republican National Convention. Police defended their behavior, arguing their efforts were aimed at preventing unlawful activity, not silencing dissent.

“There was no political surveillance,” NYPD intelligence unit leader David Cohen testified regarding past tactics. “This was a program designed to determine in advance the likelihood of unlawful activity or acts of violence.”

The most recent complaint also comes a little more than a month after the NYPD disbanded a controversial “Demographics Unit” tasked with detailing everyday life in predominantly Muslim communities in the wake of 9/11. As RT reported previously, no terrorism-related leads were generated despite the resourced dedicated.

“The Demographics Unit created psychological warfare in our community,” said Linda Sarsour of the Arab American Association of New York. “Those documents, they showed where we live. That’s the cafe where I eat. That’s where I pray. That’s where I buy my groceries. They were able to see their entire lives on those maps. And it completely messed with the psyche of the community.”

May 27, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Activists demand answers after news of NYPD spying on political groups

Putin to Kiev: End violence against people


Press TV – May 27, 2014

Russia has called on Ukraine to put an end to violence against people after dozens of civilians were killed in clashes in the main airport of the self-proclaimed Republic of Donetsk.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday called for an immediate end to military operations in eastern Ukraine, accusing Kiev of carrying out “punitive” operations against the citizens.

Putin “underlined the need for an immediate end to the military’s punitive operation in southeastern regions and the establishment of peaceful dialogue between Kiev and regional representatives,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

This is while Kiev said it has regained control of the main airport in Donetsk.

Ukraine Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said the airport is now under full government control following a day of fierce clashes.

Meanwhile, Donetsk Mayor Oleksandr Lukyanchenko said 40 people, including two civilians, have been killed in the airport clashes.

On Monday, pro-Russia protesters moved to seize the airport.

The Ukrainian army used combat jets and helicopter gunships to repel the move.

The government in Kiev has been staging military operations since mid-April in the eastern and southern regions in a bid to root out pro-Moscow demonstrations.

Ukraine’s President-elect Petro Poroshenko pledged on Monday to put an end to the war and bring peace to the former Soviet state. The 48-year-old chocolate tycoon has also ruled out negotiations with pro-Russian activists, vowing to continue military operations in the country’s southeastern provinces.

May 27, 2014 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , | Comments Off on Putin to Kiev: End violence against people

Brussels Terror Attack and Mossad Connection

By Richard Silverstein | Tikun Olam | May 26, 2014

Yesterday, I broke the story that the Rivas, an Israeli couple murdered in the Brussels Jewish museum terror attack, worked for agencies with connections to Israeli intelligence.  Miriam worked for the Mossad and Emanuel for Nativ, a unit that encourages aliyah from Eastern European countries (including Russia).  Thanks to reader Bluebird, who discovered that the Israeli embassy website in Germany lists Miriam Riva as an “attache” who worked there since 2007.  My Israeli source informed me that they were both accountants.

Though I don’t know how diplomatic postings and cover works, I do wonder why an accountant would be classified as an attache.  Admittedly, you’d want to protect anyone working for the Mossad by giving them some sort of diplomatic protection.  So it might be a pro forma status.  Or it could mean that her job as an accountant was yet another form of “cover.”

If we parse the thinking of whoever targeted the Rivas (presuming they were targeted, which isn’t certain), they might’ve noted their listing on the website and also discovered Miriam worked for the Mossad.  From there, she would become a potentially high-value target.  They needn’t even have known she was only an accountant and not an agent.  Or alternatively, merely listing her name on the website as an Israeli diplomat could’ve made her a target for an enemy who wasn’t interested in distinguishing between Israel military-intelligence and purely diplomatic status.

Amir Oren has also written an interesting column (Hebrew and English) in Haaretz discussing possible motives for the attack.  He speculates that the killing of the Rivas could’ve been merely coincidental (wrong place, wrong time).  He notes that Brussels is a center of European intrigue, filled with diplomats and politicians along with a major intelligence presence.  At the same time, it is an “Arab-European” city filled with poor Arab residents who might serve as a refuge or operational base for terrorists. He also declares that based on the video footage and other factors the attack appears to have been a “professional” job rather than a disgruntled lone gunman.

His final suggestive theory is that like the Mossad assassination in Lillehammer, which was based on misidentification of the victim with the leader of Black September, the killing of the Rivas may have been based on such a faulty judgment.  Either the killers mistook them for high-value diplomatic or intelligence targets (for example, Ephraim Halevy had a Brussels posting before he became Mossad chief and Tzipi Livni served in Europe as a Mossad agent), or they believed after discovering she worked for the Mossad, that she was an agent.

Finally, if it turns out that the the Rivas were targeted because someone believed they were Israeli government officials or even Mossad agents, no matter how heinous such murder is (and it is), in a sense Israel has only itself to blame.  It is the country that sends its Kidon assassins around the world to murder Israel’s purported enemies, whether they be Hamas operatives like Mahmoud al-Mabouh, Hezbollah leaders like Imad Mugniyeh or Iranian nuclear scientists.  In that sense, these killings might be “blowback” from these earlier Israeli operations.  I have written this here many times before: Israel can’t expect that it will project force so far outside its borders, killing with relative impunity, and no one will take notice and attempt to return the favor. … Full article

May 27, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | Comments Off on Brussels Terror Attack and Mossad Connection

Japanese Government Snubs Anti-Nuclear Public Sentiment

RIA Novosti | May 26, 2014

MOSCOW – The public comment period for Japan’s new draft energy policy resulted in more than 90 percent of respondents saying they oppose the nuclear portion of the plan, Japan’s second largest newspaper, Asahi Shimbun, reported.

The newspaper reviewed the public comments to the draft of the first post-Fukushima basic energy policy, released by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in early December. The respective comments, gathered throughout a month, were disclosed in February and counted by Asahi Shimbun with the goal of identifying the proportion of negative and positive public reactions.

The 2,109 emails counted by Asahi Shimbun revealed that 95.2 percent opposed nuclear power generation, with as few as 33 responses arguing in favor of government energy policy including nuclear power.

Though shocking in terms of disregard to the public will, the results of the survey are consistent with the determination of the Abe administration to stick to the pro-nuclear policy. Even a recent ruling by the Fukui District Court against a restart of a nuclear reactor currently offline was identified as a “minor setback” to the energy policy draft by the Japanese government.

May 27, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Environmentalism, Nuclear Power | , | Comments Off on Japanese Government Snubs Anti-Nuclear Public Sentiment

EU Safety Institutions Caught Plotting an Industry “escape route” Around Looming Pesticide Ban

By Jonathan Latham, PhD | Independent Science News | May 26, 2014

EU documents newly obtained by the nonprofit Pesticide Action Network of Europe reveal that the health commission of the European Union (DG SANCO), which is responsible for protecting public health, is attempting to develop a procedural “escape route” to evade an upcoming EU-wide ban on endocrine disrupting pesticides. Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are those that alter hormonal regulation at very low doses to cause effects on behavior, reproduction, and gender, as well as cancer and birth defects.

In 2009, under the European Union’s then-new chemical REACH legislation, a continent-wide ban on endocrine disrupting pesticides was agreed. The European Commission (EC) was charged with taking various steps to protect public safety. These included officially defining what constitutes an endocrine disrupting effect and designating acceptable chemical detection methods. The deadline to present these criteria for ensuring protection against endocrine disrupting pesticides expired on December 14, 2013.

Instead of providing the needed safety guidance, however, the EU’s Health Commission (DG SANCO) appears to be drafting a procedural “escape route” around the endocrine disrupting ban. This legal maneuvering is being done behind closed doors and with the collaboration of some EU member states and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA, an independent EU agency created to assess food risks for the Commission).

As initially revealed by the Pesticides Action Network of Europe (PAN Europe), only Sweden is opposing this escape route, which they consider to be an abandonment of the original democratic mandate. According to a report by Agence France Presse (AFP) Sweden is now going to sue the EU due to mounting evidence that harmful impacts of endocrine disruption are already being felt. AFP quotes Swedish environment minister Lena Ek:

“In some places in Sweden we see double sexed fish. We have scientific reports on how this affects fertility of young boys and girls, and other serious effects.”

The documents obtained by PAN Europe show that the lobbying to undermine the ban is being led by EFSA. This is in direct conflict with the missions of both EFSA and DG SANCO which are to protect public health.

The crisis has come about because EDCs are the subject of a large body of independent academic research showing that certain synthetic chemicals are already causing developmental disabilities and cancer among humans and wildlife through non-traditional (i.e. hormonal) toxicological routes. This evidence is why the ban was instigated. Because of the strength of the evidence and the low doses involved (Vandenberg et al 2012), any rigorous and effective rules to protect the public are likely to result in widespread bans and restrictions on commonly used industrial, agricultural, and household chemicals. This is one reason why AFP also reported the Swedish Minister as saying that EU commissioners were under strong industry pressure.

Tony Tweedale, a Brussels-based independent consultant to NGOs, explained to Independent Science News, there is a second reason for industry pressure:

“That hormones are often disrupted at very low doses threatens to upset industry’s decades-long total control of risk assessment which is based, for example on insensitive tests.”

While missing their mandated December deadline for providing safety rules, DG SANCO and EFSA chose to perform an economic impact assessment of potential regulations instead. Now this economic impact assessment is itself 9 months late. Sweden and others have interpreted these delays as stalling a collectively agreed action.

Before the Swedish lawsuit was announced Sweden had already expressed its concerns to the European Commission in letters to DG SANCO (published on the PAN Europe website). These letters reveal that Sweden believes the failure of DG SANCO to proceed according to the rules is deliberate and that DG SANCO is instead focused on drafting the illegal escape clause. This, believes Sweden, would likely take the form of a general derogation for pesticides that may be endocrine disruptors (1). It would be a legal technicality that effectively allowed pesticides which would have been banned to be exempt from the ban (2).

Simultaneous with Sweden’s announcement to take the European Commission to court, PAN Europe uncovered a letter from a representative of the EFSA Scientific Committee (which is helping to draw up the new scientific criteria). In this letter, which is addressed to advisors of Jean-Manuel Barroso (head of the European Commission), the EFSA official says that the permanent science advisors to EFSA are opposing the ban and aim to use traditional risk assessment to undermine it. Traditional risk assessment is the approach favoured by the pesticide industry.

Also in the letter, the EFSA science advisor complains of the pesticide legislation having no “control route” or “socio-economic route” to save endocrine disrupting pesticides from a ban. The anonymous writer suggests that an existing ‘negligible exposure’ option (EC 1107/2009, Annex II, 3.6.5) can be manipulated to keep such pesticides on the market. 
It is use of this ‘negligible exposure’ option that is opposed by Sweden, which believes that because negligible exposure is not well defined it is in danger of becoming a generic exemption (i.e. a derogation) for the use of endocrine disrupting chemicals.

The existence of this letter confirms Sweden’s interpretation of the intentions of EFSA and DG SANCO; the ‘negligible exposure’ option is indeed being lined up as a loophole for avoiding likely science-based bans on endocrine disruptors.

In the view of PAN Europe:

“By unilaterally changing the rules, DG SANCO is sidelining the EU Parliament and choosing economic interests over their own mission to protect people and the environment.”

Science Director of The Bioscience Resource Project, Allison Wilson, concluded:

“The public will be astounded and appalled to find that the institutions tasked with protecting them are secretly working against them. EFSA has shown itself to be untrustworthy and should be disbanded. Deep rethinking appears necessary since it is not only the EU that has failed to construct institutions capable of safely regulating toxic substances. Perhaps we should question the wisdom of economies dependent on synthetic chemicals and high risk products.” (3)


(1) A derogation is a partial or temporal suspension of a law.
(2) The list of pesticides Sweden thinks likely to be banned can be found here.
(3) See: Robinson C., Holland N., Leloup D., Muilerman H. (2013) Conflicts of interest at the European Food Safety Authority erode public confidence. J Epidemiol Community Health 2013;67:717-720 doi:10.1136/jech-2012-202185


Vandenberg LN, Colborn T, Hayes TB, Heindel JJ, Jacobs DR Jr et al. (2012) Hormones and endocrine-disrupting chemicals: Low-dose effects and nonmonotonic dose responses. Endocr Rev 33: 378-455.

May 27, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , | Comments Off on EU Safety Institutions Caught Plotting an Industry “escape route” Around Looming Pesticide Ban