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US warship downed Iran airliner, killed 290, July 3rd 1988

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Iranians honor the victims of the 1988 US missile cruiser’s attack on an Iranian passenger plane
Press TV – July 3, 2014

On July 3, 1988, 290 people were killed in a US missile cruiser’s attack on an Iranian passenger plane.

Carrying 274 passengers and 16 crew members, the Airbus A-300 (IR655) had just taken off from the southern Iranian coastal city of Bandar Abbas and was climbing inside an internationally recognized route to Dubai when it was targeted by two Standard missiles fired from USS Vincennes on July 3, 1988.

Following the incident, US officials claimed their warship mistook the jetliner for an attacking Iranian F-14 fighter plane. The allegation was made as highly sophisticated radar systems and electronic battle gear had been mounted on the warship.

The Iranian airliner was equipped with an identification transponder to give off a specific response signal when interrogated by a radar signal from a potential adversary.

Due to delay in takeoff, the Vincennes started issuing warnings on the Military Air Distress frequency, having mistaken the Iranian civilian airplane for a military aircraft.

Vincennes’ attempts to contact Flight 655 failed because they had been sent on wrong frequencies.

Although no data recorder reported any identification, friend or foe (IFF) signal, the staff aboard the Vincennes continued misreporting the signal.

The decision to shoot down the Iranian plane was reportedly taken deliberately on the basis of personal advice passed from junior officers, regardless of a stream of contrary evidence from the electronics aboard.

The US government has so far refused to admit to its crime in the tragic incident and instead keeps falsely blaming Iran for the incident.

Washington later paid some 95 million dollars in compensation for the Iranian victims and the aircraft.

The money, however, failed to placate the anti-US sentiments in Iran, where people expected the USS Vincennes’ captain, William Rogers, to be held responsible for his criminal act.

Instead, Rogers was awarded the prestigious medal of Legion of Merit for his so-called outstanding service.

July 3, 2014 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

Cuba: US Fine Against BNP Paribas is Outrageous

Prensa Latina | July 3, 2014

Havana – The Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX) denounced the U.S.-imposed fine against the French bank BNP Paribas as an outrage against state sovereignty and the rules of free trade and international law.

A MINREX statement warns that with this new fine, the government of President Barack Obama has gone further than all his predecessors, accumulating penalties that exceed $11 billion USD against scores of entities, applied under many different sanctions regimes.

According to the statement, the U.S. Departments of Treasury and Justice and the state of New York imposed a record fine on June 30 of $8.97 billion USD against the French bank BNP Paribas, for disobeying Washington’s unilateral sanctions regimes against many countries.

In the specific case of Cuba, this bank institution is accused, according to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, of having processed thousands of transactions with the island’s entities, totaling more than $1.7 billion USD.

This fine, the largest imposed in history by the U.S. government for violations of its blockade on Cuba and current sanctions against third countries, violates the rules of International Law, and is described as an extraterritorial and illegal application of U.S. legislation against a foreign entity.

MINREX said that as a Free Trade Agreement between the United States and the European Union is being negotiated, it might be asked whether this is how the U.S. government intends to continue treating its allies.

BNP Paribas joins a long list of U.S. and foreign financial, trade, economic and other entities that have been the object of punitive measures, in the context of the worsening of the blockade and, especially, the financial persecution of Cuba.

Once again, the U.S. government has ignored the overwhelming international rejection of this criminal and failed policy against our nation, the Ministry said, qualifying the fine as an outrage against state sovereignty, and the rules of free trade and international law.

July 3, 2014 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | Leave a comment

PhRMA Wants US To Use TAFTA/TTIP To Stop EU Releasing Basic Drug Safety Information

By Glyn Moody | Techdirt | July 3, 2014

Back in February, we reported that PhRMA, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, was pushing to have the EU put on the US’s ‘Priority Watch List’ for its plans to disclose basic safety information about drugs. Now a letter from PhRMA obtained by the German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel shows that US pharmaceutical companies are trying to use TAFTA/TTIP to undermine the new EU rules on making clinical trial data available (original in German):

A letter from the U.S. pharmaceutical association (PhRMA) to the TTIP chief negotiator for the United States, Douglas Bell, states: “The disclosure of confidential data from clinical and pre-clinical study files and patient data puts at risk the health system and the well-being of patients.” Why more transparency should harm the health systems, the lobby group doesn’t explain, but it makes clear to the negotiator how he should conduct the negotiations with the EU: the publication of commercially-sensitive data from a market authorization, the PhRMA letter said threateningly, is not only contrary to the rules of the American FDA, but also to the internationally-accepted intellectual property rights of the World Trade Organization, the so-called TRIPS Agreement. “PhRMA and its members call on the U.S. government to influence the EU at all levels in order to eliminate this problem.”

It’s hard to see how the problem can be “eliminated.” Back in April, the European Parliament adopted the Clinical Trials Regulation by a huge majority. Effective from 2016, it states that information from clinical study files “should not generally be considered commercially confidential” and must be made publicly available — exactly what PhRMA is lobbying against.

What’s worrying is that there’s already been one attempt to water down these requirements. Der Tagesspiegel suggests this may have been as a result of pressure from the European Commission, concerned about US reaction to them. It will be interesting to see how the Commission reconciles any US demands during the TAFTA/TTIP negotiations to remove the requirement to publish drug safety information with the new EU regulation that requires it.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

July 3, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment

Drone memo should reverse Gitmo convictions, attorneys claim

RT | July 3, 2014

Attorneys for a Canadian man who spent a decade detained by the United States military at Guantanamo Bay say details in the Obama administration’s recently released “drone memo” exonerates their client of war crimes.

Omar Khadr was only 15 years old when he was captured by American forces in Afghanistan in 2002 and taken to the Bagram Air Base, then Guantanamo, where he later pleaded guilty to murder in violation of the laws of war — according to military prosecutors, Khadr tossed a grenade that killed Sgt. Christopher Speer.

After being transferred to Canadian custody in 2012, Khadr said he pleaded guilty to war crimes because he was “left with a hopeless choice” of either accepting the charges or risk facing “continued abuse and torture” at the hands of his Gitmo jailers.

But in a recent court filing [PDF], lawyers for Khadr, now 27, say a just-published US Department of Justice memorandum contains information that directly challenges the American government’s case against their client.

Khadr’s attorneys wrote this week that the secret “drone memo” released by the White House last month — the DOJ document that the government relied on to justify the 2010 drone strike in Yemen that killed American citizen and suspected AL-Qaeda member Anwar Al-Awlaki — suggests prosecutors had no place to charge the Canadian teenager with murder in violation of the laws of war after he allegedly killed an American soldier during a firefight in Afghanistan.

The DOJ memo itself was a penned by the department’s Office of Legal Counsel in response to the question of whether Central Intelligence Agency officers — who are not members of the US military — can be blamed for war crimes by launching drone strikes. The memo was written in July 2010, and justified the strike that later that year killed Al-Awlaki.

According to a footnote within the memo, released June 24 of this year due to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, “lethal activities conducted in accordance with the laws of war, and undertaken in the course of lawfully authorized hostilities, do not violate the laws of war by virtue of the fact that they are carried out in part by government actors who are not entitled to the combatant’s privilege.”

“That completely blows away one of the major prongs of the government’s theory in all these Guantanamo cases,” Sam Morison, Khadr’s Pentagon-based lawyer, told The Canadian Press during an interview on Wednesday this week.

Although Khadr was charged with violating the “US common law of war” that dates back centuries, his attorneys say the memo concerning CIA drone strikes suggest such legislation simply doesn’t exist.

“The whole purpose…was to evaluate whether the CIA agents were violating the law,” Morison said. “The only reasonable interpretation of that analysis is that there is no such thing (as the common law of war).”

On Monday this week, Morrison and the rest of Khadr’s legal counsel, filed a motion in Guantanamo’s appeals court asking that the conviction against their client be vacated.

“The Americans made up serious charges that they knew were false,” Dennis Edney, a Canadian based lawyer for Khadr, told the Toronto Star this week. “It’s a complete violation of everything we understand about justice.”

Should Khadr’s attorneys succeed, then a number of cases pertaining to current or former Guantanamo detainees accused of war crimes could be called into question. According to Human Rights Watch, however, only six of the 149 detainees at Gitmo face any formal charges — fewer than the number of prisoners who have died while held there in military custody.

July 3, 2014 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment

Israeli Soldiers Publish Dozens Of Pictures, Posts, Calling For Murdering Arabs

By Saed Bannoura | IMEMC & Agencies | July 3, 2014

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Israeli soldiers published dozens of pictures on social media networks calling for murdering the Arabs, and murderous acts of what they describe as “revenge” against any person who is an Arab.

Most of the pictures that spread widely in recent days are actually for soldiers on active military duty, carrying Israeli-issued weapons, and calling on their government and political leadership “to declare an open season” for killing the Arabs.

One of the soldiers even called for “exterminating all Arabs” in a picture he posted, the Arabs48 news website has reported.

Most of the pictures published by the fanatic soldiers are “selfies”, taken by the soldiers themselves, in addition to pictures of military uniforms, weapons, and chains, and many wrote on the pictures threatening words such as revenge, or “what we want is revenge”, and some even wrote “give us the chance to wipe them out”.

Even before fanatic Israeli settlers abducted, burnt and murdered a Palestinian teen in occupied Jerusalem, on Tuesday evening, Israeli security officials warned that Jewish extremists could be planning acts of abduction and execution of Palestinians.

The settlers also attacked, beat and injured several Palestinians, including children, and even tried to kidnap a number of children before they kidnapped and killed Mohammad Khdeir, 16, in occupied Jerusalem.

Hundreds of Israeli fanatics were tweeting slurs and threats such as “death to Arabs”, and acts of what they called revenge, and calling for more violence “to prevent the Palestinians from attacking Israelis”.

In addition, fanatic extremist settler, Baruch Merzel, who lives in an illegal settlement in occupied Hebron, called for using excessive force against the Palestinians, and for more of what he called “acts of revenge”.

Extremist Israeli Politician and former member of Knesset, Michael Ben Ari, also called for acts of revenge against the Palestinian people.

Many Twitter hashtags were created calling for revenge and acts of murder, some just stating “I want to murder”, and “I want weeping Palestinian mothers”, “I want Widows”, and “I Want Orphaned Palestinian Children”.

Some tweets include direct calls for murdering Arab Member of Knesset, Hanin Zoabi, although death threats against her, and various Arab members of Knesset and politicians, are not something new.

Other posts state, “the time has come to punish all Arab families, to let every Palestinian know that his wife and children, and he himself, are subject to punishment, their homes will be demolished and families will be imprisoned”.

July 3, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , | 2 Comments

Raqqa province: Welcome to ISIS’ capital

Al-Akhbar | July 3, 2014

ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) increased its grip on “Wilayat al-Raqqa”, the capital of the Islamic State. It is setting the foundation of its rule through courts, resolving disputes between civilians, and social committees serving the “Muslims” inside the borders of the province. This is in addition to using an iron fist policy against anyone daring to “destabilize the security of the Islamic State.”

The bus trip from Beirut to the city al-Raqqa is around 12 hours. Three years ago, it barely took half the time. Young Syrian workers are looking forward to seeing their families.

Mohammed Abdullah, who has a degree in economics, works as an accountant in one of Beirut’s suburbs. This is his first visit in two years. He knew about the situation in the area from communicating with family and friends, as well as from the social media.

Mohammed described his trip to his hometown to Al-Akhbar, after being absent for two years: “ISIS elements welcomed us at the first checkpoint. The Saudi dialect was strongly present. They made sure there were no soldiers among the travelers and that women wore the niqab.”

Only a short distance separates the Syrian army and National Defense Forces checkpoint, on one hand, and the former al-Nusra Front position, currently occupied by ISIS. However, all communication is cut off as soon as a person crosses into the governorate’s administrative borders.

“Inside the city, the signs of destruction are obvious on some government buildings and homes,” Mohammed added.

“Revolutionary streets”

Cars in the district run on manually refined crude oil derivatives. Nobody remembers the last time regular fuel arrived from the port at Tartous.

Mohammed said he was worried about telling the taxi driver his home address. “Shall I say, take me to Martyr Bassel al-Assad highway? And if I said take me to Colonel Hussein Harmoush Street, renamed by the Free Syrian Army, would he know it?

The taxi driver noticed the young man’s confusion and asked several questions about Mohammed’s route. “What’s wrong? You could have said you wanted to go to Bassel street. No worries. Get in. I will take you there,” the driver replied.

FSA brigades and civil society activists tried to change street names in Raqqa. Tal Abyad Street, the city’s most popular, was renamed after martyr Ali al-Babinsi. However, people keep using the old name. In any case, very few people know its official name in city records, which is al-Qunaytirah Road.

Martyr Basel al-Assad Street was turned into Colonel Hussein Harmoush Street and al-Jalaa or “Clock” Roundabout became Freedom Square. “Mr. President Square” is now Martyrs’ Square, but people on both sides call it after the nearby fire station.

Civil society activists had also painted some of the city’s statues with the colors of the “revolutionary flag.” However, ISIS removed the “flag of infidels” and raised its banners everywhere.

“Islamic services”

At night, Raqqa’s residents like to walk around the quiet streets or sit at cafes. There is no armed presence or news about thefts or violations. Cigarettes and alcohol are smuggled into the city and sold at double their price.

Alaa Jubran, a resident of Raqqa who was there on a recent visit, told Al-Akhbar, “Street vendors do not occupy the city’s sidewalks anymore. ISIS established a popular market in the city center. It was equipped to include the vendors and traveling salesmen, banning them from using the streets.”

ISIS transferred the busy Friday market next to Raqqa’s old wall, a historical site, and moved moved market day to Thursday so it would not distract people from attending Friday prayers in the mosque.

It also created a consumer protection office and imposed monthly payments on commercial establishments, in return for sanitation, electricity, water, and phone services. At a later stage, this will be extended to civilians to ensure the continuity of services.

Two signs in particular are hanging in shop windows. “Sisters, please do not remove the niqab inside the shop,” said one. The other announced that “work stops 10 minutes before prayers.” Prayer rooms were established in public venues and streets become almost empty before prayer times, save for ISIS’ patrols.

However, Mohammed could not hide his admiration of ISIS’ policies inside the province, although they have been keeping his brother in custody for months. He praised its gunmen, “who returned what they could of items stolen from public buildings by FSA fighters.”

The Islamist Traffic Police is on every street and market, wearing the same uniform, conducting traffic, and issuing tickets. Inside official buildings and facilities, the staff is committed to serving the citizens. Emergency vehicles of the water and electricity departments are rushing to fix problems all the time.

On the other hand, the recently created Islamic Services Authority supervises state institutions. The Accounts Bureau monitors the markets, sales operations, applying sharia, and holding violators accountable.

Civilian dreams

The official weekend is now on Thursday and Friday. Residents of Raqqa are trying to cope with the new realities. “They became weary of the state of instability they passed through in the preceding nine months. They were always afraid of sudden clashes between the brigades. But now there is only one ruler,” Mohammed explained.

“The situation in Raqqa is not perfect, but it is much better today,” Alaa added. “People lost hope in the FSA, whose fighters fled after stealing city property and seizing archaeological artifacts, bank holdings, and cotton and wheat crops.”

“Civilians only want to live in peace, regardless of the ruler, ISIS, the Syrian regime, or al-Nusra Front. People demand to be allowed to return to the quiet life they had in their city,” he concluded.

July 3, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment