Aletho News


Reconciliation of political rivals in Lebanon

Press TV | December 25, 2014

Ever since the end of former president, Michel Sleiman’s tenure in May 2014, Lebanon has continued to function without a head of state.

The country is grappling with turmoil on its border with Syria due to different factors including the presence of foreign-backed Takfiri militants, a Syrian refugee crisis, and a spillover of the war in Syria.

Amid all this, Hezbollah and Saudi-backed Sa’ad Hariri’s Future Movement have held talks to try and diffuse tensions and pave the way for a joint fight against terrorism.

An atmosphere of cautious optimism prevailed over Lebanon after the resistance movement Hezbollah and the western and Saudi-backed March 14 Future Movement held their first dialogue session in over four years. The step has been praised by various Lebanese officials who have indicated that the dialogue process has got off to a good start. Hezbollah, in its first comments on the issue, highlighted the necessity of such a step as a means to strengthen the country against the menace of Takfiri terror.

To discuss Lebanon’s current political developments, Press TV has conducted an interview with Sukant Chandan, who is the co-founder of The Tricontinental from London, and Salah Takieddine, with Lebanon Future Movement from Beirut.

The Debate – Rivals Reconciliation (P.1)

The Debate – Rivals Reconciliation (P.2)

December 25, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Video | , , , | 1 Comment

‘Gagged’ by the Government: a Police State Story

By Alfredo Lopez | This Can’t Be Happening! | December 24, 2014

For the past three months, I and other leaders of the organization May First/People Link have been under a federal subpoena to provide information we don’t have. During that time, we have also been forbidden by a federal court “gag order” to tell anyone about that subpoena, although we had already announced it and commented on it before the order was sent. Finally, we were forbidden from telling anyone about the gag order itself.

It all sounds comical but any laughter would end if we violated that “gag order,” because that would be a felony and we could face prison sentences and huge fines.

We were silenced by our own government in a case we had nothing to do with and over information we didn’t have…and we couldn’t tell anyone about any of it.

December 25, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

UK police misuse pre-charge bail to ban activists from protesting – report

RT | December 25, 2014

UK police forces are misusing pre-charge bail by banning hundreds of protestors from attending lawful demonstrations, The Guardian newspaper has revealed. Of all bailed protesters, eighty-five percent are never charged with any crime.

Since 2008 police have arrested at least 855 people in England and Wales and then released them on pre-charge bail, setting a date to return to the police station. Until their return, those bailed are prohibited from attending any demonstration. However, 85 percent, or about 732 people, have never been charged, according to data the Guardian collected using the Freedom of Information Act.

Of the 500 arrests by the Metropolitan Police since 2008, only 15 people have been charged. In the same way the City of London, Essex and Sussex police banned 120 people. On average only one in seven has been charged.

Citing “additional research”, The Guardian assumed the actual number of bans imposed could be far greater as some of the bail conditions given by custody sergeants were not picked up by the scope of the newspaper’s information requests.

In the UK, no court permission is required for a custody sergeant to hand out a protest ban. Should a protester violate this restriction, an arrest for breach of bail could follow. However, people on pre-charge bail can appeal to a magistrate.

“Bail is becoming an instrument that is being used by people without recourse to the judicial process. It is essentially to punish protesters and curb their right to demonstrate,” Rachel Harger of leading human rights law firm Bindmans told the newspaper. “It is effectively the police conducting their own extra-judicial justice without going to court.”

In the meantime, police managed to prove that in 123 cases they had enough evidence to start proceedings against the suspects.

However, civil liberties and protest groups insist that using bail is just a way of “disrupting protest activity without the inconvenience of dealing with a formal legal process.”

“As a result of the police’s long track record of misusing pre-charge conditions against protesters in an irresponsible way, we believe the only solution is the complete withdrawal of this power for all protest-related offences,” The Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol), a group which seeks to monitor public order, protest and street policing, said.

According to the policy officer of civil liberties group Liberty, Rachel Robinson, “the lack of limits on police bail make it liable to abuse and misuse, and can act to frustrate, rather than further, prosecutions.”

“Its use against protesters raises particular concerns, potentially chilling peaceful dissent for protracted periods without any prospect of criminal conviction,” she added.

The Guardian has also cited an example of Kelly Rogers who was one of those affected by the ban. She said West Midlands Police issued her a “blanket ban on all protests.” However no criminal charges were ever pressed against her.

“Ultimately, their only aim could have been to stop us protesting again, even though it is our right to do so,” she said.

UK Justice Minister Mike Penning said there will be consultation on pre-charge bail reform.

“The Home Secretary has been clear that it is wrong for people to spend months, or even years, on police bail with no judicial oversight or accountability,“ he said.

He added that in parallel, the College of Policing “is developing evidence-based guidance to bring consistency, transparency and rigor to the way in which pre-charge bail is used in criminal investigations.”

December 25, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

More Militarization Expected for 2015 in Honduras


Government propaganda is based on repeating that security has improved with militarization
teleSUR | December 24, 2014

In Honduras, after one year of President Juan Hernandez’s term, there has been an increase in privatization, militarization and budget cutbacks in public services. It is expected this will continue next year, but social movements say that they will not sit idle.

According to leaders of the social and political movement, next year will see massive dismissals of public sector workers, reductions in health and education budgets, and the unity of the political opposition against President Hernandez.

Juan Barahona, coordinator of the National Resistance Front explained that, “We see that the budget which was recently approved in the National Congress, is a budget that in 2015 cuts millions off the health system, education, and millions off agrarian programs. There is not even a cent for wage increases or for new jobs. And as a response to this national budget, there is going to be a great deal of social protest, but also there is going to be strong repression and that’s why they (the government) are preparing themselves with the militarization of security forces.”


According to Barahona, in Honduras next year there will be more persecution of social movement leaders, stronger repression during public demonstrations, and more presence of military intelligence agencies in surveillance of government dissidents.

However, in the last two months of 2014, new fronts have been created in Honduras. The Rural Women’s front has been demanding cheap credit and true agrarian reform such as the titles of the land they have been working on. The Public Workers Front faces the privatization of public services and the dismissal of more than 8,000 workers. Also the opposition National Resistance Front is calling on people to go into the streets, and opposition political parties have pledged unity.

Salvador Nasralla of the Anti-Corruption Party said, “If we continue along this path, it is going to be a dictatorship. When there is a dictatorship people don’t have the right to an opinion. And we three opposition political parties believe that this is going to get worse.”

While the national media, which for the most part supports the government, claims that violence has been reduced and that the forthcoming decisions will bring solutions for the profound crisis in Honduras, everyday there are more and more expressions of discontent among the population. Confrontation is expected to be ongoing all through Honduras during 2015.

December 25, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , | Leave a comment

India slashes health budget by 20%

The BRICS Post | December 24, 2014

In a setback to efforts to provide affordable healthcare to some of India’s poorest people, the Indian government has decided to cut 20 per cent of its health budget.

More than 60 billion rupees ($948 million) has been slashed from their budgetary allocation for the year ending 31 March 2015, said officials from the Indian Ministry of Health on Tuesday. The move could severely tax government-run hospitals and clinics that are invariably over-stretched and under-resourced.

Apart from being lowest among BRICS, India’s health expenditure is lower than military expenditure. India spends about 1.3 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on public health while it spends 2.4 per cent on military defense. In contrast, India’s BRICS partner South Africa spent more than 8.5 per cent of GDP on healthcare in 2012.

The Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is struggling to achieve the 2014/15 fiscal deficit target of 4.1 per cent of GDP.

A Reuters report quoted unnamed Indian Health Ministry officials as saying the Finance Ministry has also ordered a spending cut for India’s HIV/AIDS programme by about 30 per cent to 13 billion rupees ($205.4 million).

According to a 2011 study in the medical publication Lancet, 39 million Indians are pushed into poverty every year due to medical costs.

Meanwhile, the neighbouring Chinese government has poured billions of pounds into healthcare reform in recent years, and the system has improved accordingly. Currently, 99 per cent of the rural population gets some kind of insurance, up from 21 per cent a decade ago. China plans to roll out universal coverage by 2020.

India fares poorly in socio-economic indicators, writes development economist, Professor Reeitka Khera.

“India’s use of its meagre public resources is also a cause for concern. Public services tend to have the first claim on public revenues in other countries. With close of half of Indian children being undernourished, one-third being illiterate it is not clear how the ruling class obsessed with “superpower” status hopes to achieve it. The refusal to invest in its main economic “resource” – her own people – will ultimately prove counterproductive for the ruling class as well as ordinary people,” says Khera.

December 25, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | | Leave a comment

Security firm says Sony hack might have been an inside job

RT | December 25, 2014

Despite claims by the FBI that North Korea was behind the massive hack against Sony, several cybersecurity experts have come forward to raise questions about the allegation, with some suggesting that insiders at the company could be to blame.

One such expert, Kurt Stammberger from the Norse cybersecuirty firm, told CBS News that his team believes a woman identified only as “Lena” was heavily involved in the hack – not North Korea.

“We are very confident that this was not an attack master-minded by North Korea and that insiders were key to the implementation of one of the most devastating attacks in history,” he told the news outlet.

“Sony was not just hacked, this is a company that was essentially nuked from the inside,” Stammberger added.

Little is known about Lena, but Norse believes the woman is somehow linked with the hacking group behind the attack, known as the ‘Guardians of Peace.’ The firm also suspects the woman was a former employee of Sony who worked there for 10 years before leaving in May 2014.

According to Stammberger, Lena’s position in the company would have given her the access and knowledge needed to identify the servers that hackers ultimately stole troves of data from.

Stammberger didn’t completely rule out North Korea’s role in the cyber attack, but he told CBS that evidence pointing to the country could actually be a case of misdirection.

“There are certainly North Korean fingerprints on this but when we run all those leads to ground they turn out to be decoys or red herrings,” he said.

Last week, the FBI officially pinned the hack on North Korea, saying the breach involved lines of code, methods, and encryption algorithms previously developed by the country.

“Technical analysis of the data deletion malware used in this attack revealed links to other malware that the FBI knows North Korea actors previously developed,” the FBI said in its statement. “The FBI also observed significant overlap between the infrastructure used in this attack and other malicious cyber activity the US government has previously linked directly to North Korea.”

“Separately, the tools used in the SPE attack have similarities to a cyberattack in March of last year against South Korean banks and media outlets, which was carried out by North Korea.”

Still, some remain unconvinced. Cybersecurity expert Bruce Schneier wrote that the code used by the hackers seems “to point in all directions at once.” Looking at the evidence cited by the FBI, Schneier said it’s the kind that is “easy to fake, and it’s even easier to interpret it incorrectly.” He also cast doubt on the “insider threat” theory, arguing that such an individual wouldn’t need the hacking tools used to breach Sony’s servers.

Schneier noted that the FBI has not revealed all the reasons for its claim, though, and acknowledged that classified evidence could clearly point the finger at North Korea. Unless that evidence is known, it’s hard to say with any certainty.

Other possibilities include the idea that North Korea “co-opted” the initial attack after an embarrassing glut of information was made public, using that as an opportunity to strike Sony, as it was reeling and facing pressure to cancel ‘The Interview’ movie.

While Sony did cancel the premiere and release of ‘The Interview’ – a comedy which tells the story of a CIA plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un – it has since relented in the face of public criticism, which included harsh words from President Barack Obama. The movie is now available on streaming services and will be in theaters in limited release on Christmas Day.

Regarding the film’s release, a North Korean envoy to the United Nations said the country will condemn the decision but will not have any “physical reaction.” He added that the movie is an “unpardonable mockery of our sovereignty and dignity of our supreme leader.”

The diplomat also told the Associated Press that his country was not involved in the hack.


FBI formally accuses North Korea in Sony hack

Senator urges Obama to host White House screening of ‘The Interview’

N. Korea threatens US, demands apology for Obama’s ‘reckless rumors’ of Sony hack

December 25, 2014 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

IMF Policies Blamed for Rapid Ebola Spread in West Africa

teleSUR | December 23, 2014

Strict public spending cuts imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone may have contributed to the rapid spread of Ebola in these countries, according to Cambridge University researchers.

“A major reason why the Ebola outbreak spread so rapidly was the weakness of healthcare systems in the region,” said Cambridge sociologist Alexander Kentikelenis, lead author of the study that appeared in the latest issue of medical journal The Lancet.

“Policies advocated by the IMF have contributed to underfunded, insufficiently staffed and poorly prepared health systems in the countries with Ebola outbreaks,” added Kentikelenis.

The first cases of the deadly virus were discovered in Guinea earlier this year, but quickly spread to neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone. The three countries have been the worst affected by the epidemic, both in terms of lives lost and the damages to their already fragile economies.

According to the researchers, all three countries have been receiving aid from the IMF since the 1990s. However, the lending came with what the IMF calls “conditionalities” that required all three governments “to adopt policies that favor short-term economic objectives over investment in health and education,” reads the report.

Kentikelenis told the BBC that IMF imposed government spending cuts and caps on wages meant countries could not hire health staff and pay them adequately. He also added that the IMF emphasizes and supports decentralized health care systems, which made it harder to mobilize a coordinated response to the virus outbreak.

The IMF denied all accusations in a press release, and called them “factual inaccuracies.”

As of Dec. 21, at least 7,580 people have died from Ebola in six countries: Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, the United States and Mali, making it the worse outbreak of the virus since it was first identified in 1976 in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

December 25, 2014 Posted by | Economics | , , | 2 Comments