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Israeli team visits France over Iran nuclear talks

Press TV – March 23, 2015

A delegation of Israeli officials, including Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, has traveled to France in a bid to hamper a deal on Iran’s nuclear program as marathon talks on the issue are entering a critical juncture.

The delegation, includes the Israeli intelligence minster, Yossi Cohen, an adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and some other senior figures in Israel’s Foreign Ministry and intelligence community.

The Israeli officials are scheduled to hold talks with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and members of the French negotiating team in the talks on Iran’s nuclear program on Monday.

Steinitz was “on a mission from Prime Minister [Benjamin Netanyahu] for a short visit to Europe in an attempt to influence the details of the emerging agreement on the Iran nuclear issue,” a statement by Eyal Basson, an spokesman for the Israeli Intelligence Ministry said.

Netanyahu delivered an anti-Iran speech at the US Congress on March 3, where he called on Washington not to negotiate “a very bad deal” with Tehran.

In response, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that nuclear talks between Iran and the six world powers have ruffled the feathers of one aggressive and occupying regime, whose existence hinges on belligerence.

“The regime, which has been after atomic weapons, has already produced nuclear bombs and stockpiled a large number of the bombs in defiance of international law and unseen by international observers as it does not allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors to oversee its nuclear facilities by refraining from signing the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT),” Rouhani said.

The latest round of nuclear negotiations ended in the Swiss city of Lausanne on Friday after six days of intense and serious discussions among representatives of Iran, the United States and the European Union. The talks will resume on March 25.

Talks between the US and Iran are part of broader negotiations between the Islamic Republic and the P5+1 group -the US, Britain, Germany, France, Russia, China – to reach a comprehensive agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program as a deadline slated for July 1 draws closer.

On February 8, Netanyahu turned up the rhetoric against Iran, saying Tel Aviv will do everything to prevent a “bad and dangerous” nuclear deal between Tehran and the P5+1. Addressing a weekly cabinet meeting, he said Iran and the six major powers “are galloping toward an agreement” which would pose a danger to Israel….” “We will do everything and will take any action to foil this bad and dangerous agreement,” Netanyahu said.

Similarly, in an address at the UN General Assembly in September 2012, the Israeli premier claimed that Iran had reached 70 percent of the way to completing “plans to build a nuclear weapon.” “By next spring (2013), at most by next summer, at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and move[d] on to the final stage. From there, it’s only a few months, possibly a few weeks before they get enough enriched uranium for the first bomb,” Netanyahu alleged at the time.

March 23, 2015 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel, US ‘boycott’ UN session on Gaza conflict

RT | March 23, 2015

Israeli and American representatives were conspicuously absent from the UN Human Rights Council session on the Palestinian territories on Monday. The session aimed to look into the Gaza conflict which killed 2,200 people in 50 days in 2014.

“I note the representative of Israel is not present,” Council President Joachim Ruecher said as the session kicked off Monday in Geneva.

Tel Aviv refused to comment as to why its representatives did not take part.

The US, however, said that one of the points on the UN session agenda – concerning human rights violations against the Palestinians – lacked legitimacy.

“Our non-participation in this debate underscores our position that Item 7 lacks legitimacy, as it did last year when we also refrained from speaking. The United States strongly and unequivocally opposes the very existence of Agenda Item 7 and any HRC resolutions that come from it,” Keith Harper, US ambassador to the Council, said in a statement.

He added that the United States remains “deeply troubled” by the item directed against Israel “and by the many repetitive and one-sided resolutions under that agenda item. No other nation has an entire agenda item set aside to deal with it.”

The Monday session was initially scheduled to discuss the report on the 50-day war in Gaza last year, but the incoming United Nations Human Rights Council’s chairperson, Mary McGowan Davis, said investigators needed more time to finish their report on the conflict, as Israel impeded access to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

“The commission has done its utmost to obtain access to Israel and the Gaza Strip, as well as the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. We would very much have liked to meet face to face with victims and the authorities in these places,” she said.

Davis asked for a delay until June for the commission to complete its report, due to late-breaking testimonies from witnesses and changes in leadership.

Mary McGowan Davis – a former New York State Supreme Court Justice – replaced William Schabas, a Canadian international law expert, as the Council’s chairperson after Schabas quit last month under Israeli pressure. Israel had doubts about his objectiveness, as he had prepared a legal opinion for the Palestine Liberation Organization while serving as a law professor in 2012.

Meanwhile, despite Schabas’ resignation, Israel continues to accuse the commission of bias against the Jewish state. Three years ago, Tel Aviv cut all ties with the Council after it began checks on how Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories could be violating human rights. Relations were partially restored last year.

Israel has been severely criticized for its political decisions amid the 2014 war in Gaza, which claimed the lives of more than 2,140 Palestinians – most of them civilians – and over 70 Israelis, most of whom were soldiers. The conflict ended with a truce between Israel and Hamas on August 26.

“The ferocity of destruction and high proportion of civilian lives lost in Gaza cast serious doubts over Israel’s adherence to international humanitarian law principles of proportionality, distinction and precautions in attack,” Makarim Wibisono, special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied territories, told the Council. Meanwhile, armed Palestinian groups were also accused of impunity against civilians and targeting Israeli civilians to inspire aggression from Tel Aviv.

“The actions of Palestinian armed groups in Gaza, including indiscriminate rocket fire into civilian neighborhoods in Israel, firing from densely-populated areas, locating military objects in civilian buildings, and the execution of suspected collaborators, also constitute clear violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law,” Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Flavia Pansieri said in remarks published on the UN’s website on Monday.

Relations between the Obama administration and Israel appeared to have cooled down after Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed the US Congress with a speech criticizing Washington’s nuke talks with Iran. Netanyahu’s pre-election promise not to allow the creation of a Palestinian state did not help to improve the situation. After being re-elected, the PM tried to step back and said he still supported the concept of “two states.” However, White House press secretary Josh Earnest called his position “cynical” and accused him of “divisive election day tactics.”

March 23, 2015 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

McAfee-Owned Company had Access to Hillary Clinton’s Classified Emails

By Steve Straehley | AllGov | March 23, 2015

382668_Hillary-Clinton-presidentHillary Clinton’s use of a private email account gave a private company—and potentially others—access to secret State Department information, according to a published report.

Marc Perkel at Dvorak Uncensored wrote that Clinton used a commercial spam filtering service, MxLogic, now owned by McAfee, to monitor emails coming into her account. To be able to filter out spam, MxLogic had to be able to read the emails. Thus, anyone with access to MxLogic’s system, which could include someone from outside the company, could read emails meant for Clinton. Those emails would include communications coming from the White House and foreign governments.

“So – for example – if I’m a Russian spy, ISIS, North Korea, or Fox News, or a 14-year-old hacker, all I have to do is bribe someone at McAfee or hack their work login, and they get to read all the email of the Secretary of State,” Perkel wrote.

Clinton even has web mail available, so that anyone with internet access can try hacking into her account.

Another potential problem uncovered by Perkel involves Clinton’s email server itself. Perkel was able to run a security test on the server and it came back with a “B” grade, which isn’t what one wants to see when dealing with top-secret communications.

“The system… had numerous safeguards,” Clinton said in her recent press conference. “It was on property guarded by the Secret Service and there were no security breaches. So I think that the use of that server… certainly proved to be effective and secure.” But Perkel begs to disagree. He said it’s likely the server is in fact not in Clinton’s house or office, which are guarded by the Secret Service, but rather in a more vulnerable commercial data center.

To Learn More:

Spam Filtering Service Had Access to Clinton Classified Emails (by Marc Perkel, Dvorak Uncensored )

Did Spam Filtering Service Have Full Access to Clinton Emails (Peter Van Buren, Ghosts of Tom Joad )

(AP photo)

March 23, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | | Leave a comment

Cyber Armageddon is a Myth

By Bill Blunden | CounterPunch | March 23, 2015

Over the past several years mainstream news outlets have conveyed a litany of cyber doomsday scenarios on behalf of ostensibly credible public officials. Breathless intimations of the End Times. The stuff of Hollywood screenplays. However a recent statement by the U.S. intelligence community pours a bucket of cold water over all of this. Yes, Virginia, It turns out that all the talk of cyber Armageddon was a load of bunkum. An elaborate propaganda campaign which only serves as a pretext to sacrifice our civil liberties and channel an ocean of cash to the defense industry.

Looking back the parade of scare stories is hard to miss. For example, in late 2012 Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta warned of a “cyber-Pearl Harbor.” Former White House cybersecurity official Paul B. Kurtz likewise spoke of a threat which he referred to as a “cyber Katrina.” Former NSA director Mike McConnell claimed that a veritable Cyberwar was on and chided the public “are we going to wait for the cyber equivalent of the collapse of the World Trade Centers?” Yet another NSA director, Keith Alexander, described cyberattacks as constituting “the greatest transfer of wealth in history.” And finally, Vanity Fair magazine published a hyperbolic article entitled “A Declaration of Cyberwar” wherein the NSA’s Stuxnet attack against Iranian nuclear enrichment facilities was likened to a cyber “Hiroshima.”

Yet the 2015 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. intelligence community submitted recently to the Senate Armed Services Committee has explicitly conceded that the risk of “cyber Armageddon” is at best “remote.” In other words, it’s entirely safe to ignore the hyperbolic bluster of the Cult of Cyberwar. Despite what we’ve been told the Emperor is naked.

What society has witnessed is what’s known in the public relations business as threat inflation. It’s a messaging tool that’s grounded in human emotion. Faced with ominous prophecies by trusted public servants the average person seldom pauses to consider the likelihood of ulterior motives or perform a formal quantitative risk assessment. Most people tacitly cede to the speakers’ authority —given that most speakers are, or were, high-ranking officials— and accept their graphic worst-case scenarios at face value.

The American public saw threat inflation back in the 1950s when American leadership hyperventilated over the imaginary Missile Gap. We saw it once again before the invasion of Iraq when President Bush spoke of a nuclear “smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.” And after reading through the various cyber metaphors described earlier it’s hard not to recognize the fingerprints of threat inflation at work.

The goal of threat inflation is to stir up anxiety, to foment a profound sense of apprehension so that the public is receptive to marketing pitches emerging from the defense industry. Studies conducted by accredited research psychologists demonstrate that anxious people will choose to be safe rather than sorry. In the throes of an alleged crisis, anxious people aren’t necessarily particular about the solution as long as it’s presented as a remedial measure; they don’t care much about the ultimate cost or the civil liberties they relinquish. They’re willing to pay a steep price to feel safe again.

So it is that American intelligence services have raised a global panopticon and in doing so engaged in clandestine subversion programs that span entire sectors of the economy. Speaking to the public our leaders justify mass surveillance in terms of protecting the American public against terrorists. Speaking to each other intelligence officers disparage iPhone users as ‘zombies’ who pay for their own monitoring. This sharp contrast underscores an insight provided by whistleblower Ed Snowden in an open letter to Brazil. In particular Snowden stated that “These programs were never about terrorism: they’re about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They’re about power.”

This process, of capitalizing on deftly manufactured emotional responses, has been called securitization and it puts the economic and political imperatives of corporate interests before our own. An allegedly existential threat like cyber Armageddon can presumably justify any cost in the throes of a crisis mentality. This is exactly what powerful groups are betting on.

But just because there are several types of insurance doesn’t mean consumers should go out and buy all of them. Prudent buyers won’t pay any price to be safe, they purchase coverage strategically. There are prices that clear-headed people won’t pay. Something to remember when the term “national security” appears in public debate.

Bill Blunden is an independent investigator whose current areas of inquiry include information security, anti-forensics, and institutional analysis. He is the author of several books, including The Rootkit Arsenal , and Behold a Pale Farce: Cyberwar, Threat Inflation, and the Malware-Industrial Complex. Bill is the lead investigator at Below Gotham Labs.

March 23, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

Czechs told not to throw tomatoes, eggs at US military convoy

RT | March 23, 2015

US military convoy parades through Eastern Europe (Screenshot from Ruptly video)

US military convoy parades through Eastern Europe (Screenshot from Ruptly video)

Czech people were told not to throw tomatoes and eggs at a US military convoy rumbling through Eastern Europe, the local media said, citing the laws of the land. Those in love with egg & tomato hurling may get up to three years if convicted.

“Should anyone emerge with the intent to attack the convoy, with [items] such as tomatoes or eggs, it would qualify as disorderly conduct according to Czech legislation (up to 2 years without parole, in recidivist cases up to 3 years) or damage to property (sentences in the range of 6 months to 3 years).”

This statement was aired on Czech TV Nova and cited by the Russian Insider last week, ahead of the planned US military convoy.

Operation ‘Dragoon Ride’, a convoy of US military vehicles, mostly IAV Stryker APCs, started on Saturday. The convoy will make its way through Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Latvia, the Czech Republic, with its final destination being Germany. It will cross the Czech Republic between March 29 and April 1 on its way to a base in the German city of Vilseck.

If skirmishes break out, offenders can expect to spend up to 3 years of prison. However, serious violence may incur 10-year sentences for the perpetrators.

“If (the incident) causes serious injuries, the attacker can receive a sentence of up to 10 years.”

Also if someone decides to sabotage the US operation, he or she would also face charges, said the Czech Army Press.

“Sabotage and/or attacks in the Republic, including attempts to undermine its defense capabilities are subject to imprisonment ranging from 8-12 years or forfeiture of property – § 310 par. 1 of the Criminal Code,” it said.

Earlier local media reported the government of the Czech Republic even instructed its own military to protect the US military convoy as it crosses the country over fears that numerous people protesting the move could stage “provocations.”

On Sunday Czech anti-war activists launched the ‘Tanks? No thanks!’ campaign to protest the procession of US Army hardware through the Eastern European country. They say it has been turned into a “provocative victory parade” near the Russian border.

“The last time that vehicles like this came to the Czech Republic, they were Soviet tanks coming to crush moves towards democracy in 1968. We don’t want such vehicles from foreign armies coming here ever again,” said Tana Bednarova from the ‘World without Wars and without Violence’ organization.

READ MORE: ‘Tanks? No thanks!’: Czechs unhappy about US military convoy crossing country

March 23, 2015 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Militarism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | 1 Comment

$1 Billion TSA Behavioral Screening Program Slammed as Ineffective “Junk Science”

AllGov | March 23, 2015

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been accused of spending a billion dollars on a passenger-screening program that’s based on junk science.

The claim arose in a lawsuit (pdf) filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which has tried unsuccessfully to get the TSA to release documents on its SPOT (Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques) [pdf]) program through the Freedom of Information Act.

SPOT, whose techniques were first used in 2003 and formalized in 2007, uses “highly questionable” screening techniques, according to the ACLU complaint, while being “discriminatory, ineffective, pseudo-scientific, and wasteful of taxpayer money.” TSA has spent at least $1 billion on SPOT.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported in 2010 that “TSA deployed SPOT nationwide before first determining whether there was a scientifically valid basis for using behavior detection and appearance indicators as a means for reliably identifying passengers as potential threats in airports,” according to the ACLU. And in 2013, GAO recommended that the agency spend less money on the program, which uses 3,000 “behavior detection officers” whose jobs is to identify terrorists before they board jetliners.

The ACLU contends SPOT uses racial profiling, even though TSA has a zero-tolerance policy for such singling out of people based on their ethnicity. The lawsuit says “passengers, as well as behavior detection officers themselves, have complained that this process results in subjecting people of Middle Eastern descent or appearance, African Americans, Hispanics, and other minorities to additional questioning and screening solely on the basis of their race.” Furthermore, “there is no known instance in which these techniques were responsible for apprehending someone who posed a security threat” after years of using SPOT.

To Learn More:

TSA Asked to Divulge Screening Techniques (by Adam Klasfeld, Courthouse News Service )

ACLU Sues TSA over Behavior Screening Program (by Bart Jansen, USA Today )

American Civil Liberties Union v. Transportation Security Administration (U.S. District Court, Southern New York) (pdf)

Request Under Freedom of Information Act/Expedited Processing Requested (American Civil Liberties Union) (pdf)

TSA Behavior Detection Technique Deemed Not Much Better than “Chance” (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov )

March 23, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 1 Comment

Ukraine’s ‘Ministry of Truth’ Wants 15-Year Prison Terms for Journalists

Sputnik – 22.03.2015

Ukraine’s Minister of Information Policy announced that he seeks eight to 15 year prison terms for employees of Donetsk and Luhansk television stations.

Ukraine’s Minister of Information Policy, Yuri Stets, said in an interview to Radio Liberty that he wants people who work for local television in Donetsk and Luhansk to serve eight to 15 years in prison.

“I think that it’s effective enough for law enforcement to work there so that people who worked for the channels of the so-called LPR [Luhansk People’s Republic] and DPR [Donetsk People’s Republic] got the following sentences: eight to 15 years.”

In the same interview, Stets says that he has been able to convince Europeans that his ministry will not be a “Ministry of Censorship.” In addition, he announced that a new radio station aimed at Crimea will be launched sometime next week.

The Ministry of Information Policy remains the least-popular ministry in Ukraine according to opinion polls, and is often referred to as the “Ministry of Truth” for its contradictory aims, referencing George Orwell’s novel ‘1984.’ On Thursday, the ministry took control of a financial education television channel, intending to launch a new international broadcaster, Ukraine Tomorrow.

In February, the Ministry of Information Policy launched the “Ukrainian Information Army,” a project which intended to start arguments in comment sections of Russian news websites to shift public opinion. The project failed after warriors failed to convince Russians that Ukraine’s declining standard of living is the fault of Russia and personally Putin, and has since become a mailing list of links to share on social media.

March 23, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | 1 Comment

Resistance to the destruction of olive trees in Wadi Qana

International Solidarity Movement | March 22, 2015

Tuesday, 17th March 2015, four farmers in the Salfit valley of Wadi Qana were issued with notices that they had 48 hours to remove their olives trees or they would be removed at their own cost. Failure to execute the orders are punishable by imprisonment, or fines up to the maximum penalty of the law.

Supporters, many from the nearby village of Deir Istiya, as well as locals and internationals, turned out in anticipation of soldier presence or settler provocation, but no conflict took place.

warrant

A crowd of approximately 250 supporters gathering in the valley were met by a festive atmosphere. Representatives from various organisations in conjunction with the Deir Istiya Municipality converged to remove waste from the spring and its surroundings.

In 2008 and 2011 farmers of Wadi Qana were issued with similar notices.  These removal orders were not carried out. In 2012 trees were removed without notice. Approximately 3,000 trees have been destroyed in Wadi Qana by settler attacks and by order of Israeli authorities.

wadaq2

The Deir Istiya region has a population of approximately 12,000 people, 4,000 of whom live in town. The illegal settlements of the area, of which seven surround Wadi Qana, house approximately 15,000 settlers. Wadi Qana itself sits within the 31,000 hectares around Deir Istiya which has been zoned as Area C, leaving only the 1,527 hectares of the township in Palestinian controlled Area A. Under the Oslo Accords, Israeli law forbids Palestinians to build structures or plant trees in Area C, while conversely, entitling illegal Israeli settlements to develop and expand. (Al Jazeera has a good explanation of the different areas here.)

Speaking of the situation in Area C, a frustrated resident of Deir Istiya exclaimed, “They have the right to cut the old olive trees but we have no right to grow a new one. See the discriminations?”

Wadi Qana is a strategic area in the region, containing several significant natural springs. These springs and the crops which they irrigate have been under serious threat since 1994 when settlements began running sewage into the valley. While this practice was limited in 2005, many ocurrences have been identified, with four settlements’ waste currently believed to be pumping into the valley below.

While only two of the seventeen natural springs remain unpolluted, water from the underground aquifers is dropping due to the increasing demands of the ongoing settlement expansion. This has caused many farmers to move away from orange and vegetable crops to the more arid-adapted olive trees. The livelihoods of farmers of Wadi Qana are increasingly under threat because of the occupation and its apartheid laws.

March 23, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 1 Comment

US drones killed 2,200 in Pakistan: Islamabad

Press TV – March 23, 2015

US drone strikes on Pakistani soil over the past decade have claimed the lives of some 2,200 people, Press TV quotes Islamabad

According to figures presented in a report by Pakistani lawmakers, 2,199 people have been killed and 282 others injured in the US drone attacks in Pakistan.

Nearly 210 houses and 60 vehicles have also reportedly been damaged.

The families of 43 of the dead and seven of those injured have received compensation so far, according to the report.

However, rights activists say Islamabad has not revealed the actual number of deaths, which many say is more than 3,000 and possibly as many as 4,000.

“The majority of the people who got killed were the citizens of Pakistan and I don’t think that this [report] is a final truth. There are still numbers that are out there and I hope those numbers also come out and that will push this number of 2,200 to a much higher numerical level,” political analyst Tariq Pirzada said.

Islamabad has so far failed to provide accurate information regarding the identity of those killed in the drone strikes.

Although evidence on the ground indicates civilians are the main victims of the strikes over the years, the Pakistani government reports that most of those killed are militants.

Islamabad has also said it cannot determine the actual number of civilian deaths as a result of its ongoing ground and air offensives against the militants in the tribal areas.

The Pakistani government has been criticized for allowing the US to carry out its illegal drone strikes near the country’s border with Afghanistan.

The aerial attacks, initiated by former US president, George W. Bush in 2004, have been escalated under President Barack Obama.

Obama has defended the use of the controversial drones as “self-defense.” Washington claims the targets of the drone attacks are militants.

The United Nations and several human rights organizations have identified the US as the world’s number-one user of “targeted killings,” largely due to its drone attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

March 23, 2015 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Anti-base Okinawa governor blocks relocation of US Marines

RT | March 23, 2015

Okinawa’s governor ordered a halt to an underwater survey needed for reclamation of land for a new $8.6-billion base, which would host US troops after the Futenma facility on the island is closed.

Takeshi Onaga is delivering on the promise he made to voters to oppose the construction, after his election last November. At a media conference on Monday, he announced that defense ministry contractors must stop the survey due to the damage it’s causing to corral reefs. If they don’t, Onaga said he would revoke approval for drilling operations given by his predecessor in December 2012 within days.

The survey is necessary for the eventual construction of an off-shore runway for the future US military base in the less populous area of northern Okinawa, which would house thousands of troops after the closure of the Futenma base in the south.

The facility is viewed by locals as a source of noise, pollution and crime. Opposition to its presence flared up after the rape and abduction of a 12-year-old girl by three US servicemen in 1995.

In 1996, Tokyo and Washington agreed to shut the base down, but construction of a replacement stalled due to local resistance.

Onaga’s move coincides with the announcement of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to the US in late April. Abe, who supports the construction of the new base, is expected to be praised for his determined position to oppose Chinese influence in the region.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told journalists the Japanese government was examining Onaga’s documents. He called the governor’s steps “extremely regrettable.”

“We are going to continue with construction work without delay,” the spokesman said.

Read more: Anti-US military base candidate wins Okinawa governor race

March 23, 2015 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment