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Disused nuclear subs cost UK £16mn in 5 years, pose ‘radiation risk’

RT | June 3, 2015

The British government has spent £16 million storing and maintaining its unused nuclear submarines over the past five years, figures suggest.

The 19 laid-up submarines have been stored in Fife, Scotland, and Devonport, England since 1980 and 1994, respectively.

Figures obtained by the BBC in a Freedom of Information request found that of the 12 submarines at Davenport, eight were still fuelled and four were sitting without fuel. In Rosyth, Fife, all seven submarines are still fueled.

The cost of keeping them safe involves preventing any of the nuclear substances on board being released into the atmosphere.

Campaigners have called the cost a “huge embarrassment,” while the Ministry of Defense (MoD) said it takes its duties to manage the submarines “very seriously.”

The MoD revealed in documents that the “cost to the taxpayer of maintaining them safely is rising significantly as they age and as more submarines leave service,” adding that full dismantling of the subs could not take place until a site was found for the nuclear reactors.

Ian Avent, of Plymouth based campaign group Community Awareness Nuclear Storage and Radiation, told the BBC: “The big problem is that eight submarines on Devonport still have their fuel on board and that is potential for [a] disaster.

“The submarines are a huge embarrassment for the MoD.

“They need to make a decision soon on where they are going take the waste fuel, so dismantling can start.”

Jane Tallents, an anti-nuclear campaigner and adviser on the MoD’s submarine dismantling project, said: “The MoD dragged its feet after the first submarine was laid up but 12 years ago they decided to do something.

“It is a complicated project and there have been points where they have stalled and gone slowly but they have kept moving with it.”

The MoD said the submarines “undergo regular maintenance to keep them in a safe condition.”

John Large, an engineering consultant, said the “lack of decision and decisive management” was halting the decommissioning process.

“It also exposes the public, and the naval base workforce, to continuing radiological risk arising from untoward accident or incident,” he said.

An MoD spokesperson said: “As a responsible nuclear operator, the MoD takes its duty to manage the disposal of submarines very seriously.

“All activity is undertaken in a safe, secure, cost-effective and environmentally sound manner.”

June 3, 2015 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

NYT’s New Propaganda on Syria

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | June 3, 2015

As the New York Times continues its descent into becoming an outright neocon propaganda sheet, it offered its readers a front-page story on Wednesday alleging – based on no evidence – that the Syrian government is collaborating militarily with the Islamic State as the brutal terror group advances on the city of Aleppo.

Yet, while the Times played up those unverified allegations from regime opponents, the newspaper has either ignored or downplayed much more significant evidence that Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have been providing real assistance to Sunni jihadists who dominate the Syrian rebel movement, especially Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front.

For instance, in March 2015, a Wall Street Journal reporter confirmed that Israel was treating wounded Nusra fighters and then returning them to Syria to carry on their war aimed at overthrowing the secular regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Israel also has struck militarily at Lebanese Hezbollah troops and Iranian military advisers who have been helping Assad’s regime battle against those Sunni extremists. [See Consortiumnews.com’sSyria’s Nightmarish Scenario.”]

Meanwhile, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have ramped up their weapons support for the so-called Army of Conquest in which the Nusra Front plays a key role. The Army of Conquest has made major military advances against Assad’s beleaguered army over the past several weeks.

Assad’s stretched-thin military also was routed by Islamic State militants who captured the strategic and historic city of Palmyra. So, a reasonable person could argue that the combined efforts of Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, et al were contributing to Sunni terrorist advances across Syria, both by Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front and Al-Qaeda’s hyper-brutal spinoff, the Islamic State.

You could argue, too, that covert CIA arms shipments to the supposedly “moderate” rebels, many of whom have since joined the ranks of Nusra and the Islamic State, have aided the terrorist cause as well, even if inadvertently.

However, instead of addressing the Israeli-Saudi-Turkish-Qatari role in a significant way, the Times spins a conspiracy theory about the Assad government consciously aiding the Islamic State — also known as ISIS or ISIL — as its head-chopping militants seek to supplant other rebels who have dug in around the important city of Aleppo.

One-Sided Article

The Times article by Anne Barnard states: “Syrian opposition leaders accused the Syrian government of essentially collaborating with the Islamic State, leaving the militants unmolested as they pressed a surprise offensive against other insurgent groups — even though the government and the Islamic State are nominal enemies — and instead striking the rival insurgents. …

“Khaled Khoja, the president of the main Syrian exile opposition group, accused Mr. Assad of deploying his warplanes ‘as an air force for ISIS.’ Echoing those claims, the Twitter account of the long-closed United States Embassy in Syria made its strongest statement yet about Mr. Assad’s tactics.

“‘Reports indicate that the regime is making airstrikes in support of #ISIL’s advance on #Aleppo, aiding extremists against Syrian population,’ the embassy said in a series of Twitter posts. In another post, it added that government warplanes were ‘not only avoiding #ISIL lines, but actively seeking to bolster their position.’”

Barnard added that “Neither American officials nor Syrian insurgents have provided proof of such direct coordination, though it has long been alleged by the insurgents. The State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters Tuesday that United States officials were looking into the claims but had no independent confirmation.”

Yet, despite the lack of evidence, the Times – by hyping these unconfirmed suspicions on its front page while burying or ignoring more substantive information about Israel-Saudi-Turkey-Qatar assistance to Sunni terror groups – is continuing its long campaign to induce President Barack Obama to intervene militarily in Syria to destroy Assad’s army and achieve “regime change.”

Further demonstrating the Times’ bias, there is no indication that the Times thought to ask the Syrian government for its comment on the allegations, though Barnard had the help of five other Times reporters on the article. That reflects what is becoming a typical lack of professional standards at the Times and other mainstream publications on such topics.

While getting the other side of the story is now apparently unnecessary – maybe even proof that you’re an “Assad apologist” – it has become an article of faith in neocon-dominated Official Washington that if Obama had only engineered “regime change” in Syria earlier that everything would be going swimmingly. Ignored is the reality that Sunni militants, including Al-Qaeda affiliates, were always part of the anti-Assad uprising. [See Consortiumnews.com’sHoles in the Neocons’ Syria Story.”]

Bloody Chaos

Almost surely, a U.S. military intervention – along the lines of the “regime change” air war that the U.S. and its allies waged against Muammar Gaddafi in Libya – would have resulted in either the same sort of bloody chaos that has engulfed Libya or an outright victory by Al-Qaeda or its spinoff, the Islamic State.

President Obama confided as much to New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman in 2014, saying the idea of arming Syria’s “moderate” opposition as an effective counterweight to Assad’s army was “always … a fantasy.” But it is a beloved fantasy in Official Washington.

In late August 2013, the neocons and their “liberal interventionist” sidekicks thought they were on the verge of getting their long-wished-for Syrian “regime change” after a mysterious sarin gas attack outside Damascus, which the Obama administration, the New York Times and virtually the entire mainstream media immediately pinned on Assad.

But there was countervailing evidence that the lethal sarin attack was a provocation carried out by rebel extremists with the goal of goading Obama into a major military strike to devastate Assad’s military and clear their path to victory. Aware of those intelligence doubts, Obama pulled back at the last minute and worked with Russian President Vladimir Putin on a compromise in which Assad surrendered his chemical weapons arsenal (while still denying a role in the sarin attack).

Later, additional evidence pointed to the rebels having carried out a “false-flag” attack, but Official Washington has refused to budge from its initial rush to judgment – and the Inside-the-Beltway in-crowd still faults Obama for failing to enforce his “red line” against Assad for supposedly using chemical weapons. [See Consortiumnews.com’sThe Collapsing Syria-Sarin Case.”]

With its deeply biased coverage of Syria, the New York Times has been a key factor in promoting propaganda about the crisis. And, with its latest front-page salvo, it clearly is back in the business of egging Obama into a U.S. military intervention to destroy Assad’s military so the insignificant “moderates” could somehow prevail.

In its coverage of Syria – and regarding the pay-back-to-Putin crisis in Ukraine – the Times has performed as shamefully as it did in pushing the U.S. invasion of Iraq with its bogus stories about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, including the infamous “aluminum tube” story in 2002 that had Americans fearing imaginary “mushroom clouds.”

And, in its front-page article on Wednesday – by linking Assad with the Islamic State – the Times is reprising the bogus contention popular before the Iraq War that Hussein and Al-Qaeda were somehow allied, an assertion that also turned out to be a lie.

Yet, rather than having learned lessons from the Iraq War catastrophe, the Times keeps plunging deeper into the grim fantasy land of neocon propaganda.

~

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

June 3, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 2 Comments

Syria : Interview with Muhammad Raad, Deputy of Hezbollah

Extracts of the interview of Muhammad Raad on Al-Mayadeen Channel, May 22, 2015

Journalist: My question is: In your view at Hezbollah, when will this war (Syrian Crisis) end? Could it last for years more?

Mohammad Raad: When the US Administration and the West that orbits around it, and the regional guards and agents who are supporting the armed terrorists, when they take the decision to stop financing (the terrorists) & close the border crossings & prevent sneaking into Syria, the war will end in Syria, and the opportunity for national dialogue will open, (this very dialogue) which was supposed to take place since the beginning of the crisis.

Journalist: Do you mean by ‘the regional agents’: Saudi, Qatar, Turkey and Israel?

Mohammad Raad: I mean all those who support the armed terrorists.

Journalist: There is a view that says that Saudi Arabia, whom you always accuse, is still supporting (the terrorists) while other countries have stepped back like Qatar. And that Turkey is still giving a great amount of support to (the terrorists).

Mohammad Raad: Let us talk in general in order to avoid miscalculations and leave the assumptions to those who are concerned. In general, whoever supports, finances & facilitates the terrorists’ sneaking into Syria in order to destroy and sabotage Syria should cease to do so.

Journalist: That means the war might last for years.

Mohammad Raad: Yes, the military option can take some time.

Journalist: Today, after what was achieved in Qalamoun and the great victory you presented in this difficult region where the fighting was fierce, as we understand, today we see that Palmyra might have fallen, yesterday Al Mastouma and other areas fell. It looks like the fighting is a win here then a defeat there, a defeat then a victory, etc. It seems that no one can use military means to resolve the situation in a decisive way.

Mohammad Raad: Sami, now the media and the propaganda machine works on propagating false and hasty news about partial matters that have nothing to do with the strategic movement or even with the battlefield, the very issues which will define the results and the outcome of the war. We have an evaluation of the situation: in Syria, the military situation on the ground is in the favor of the regime and what we witness is a tightening of the (Syrian Arab Army’s) grip on the areas under the regime’s control.

Journalist: How can you explain this to us? The image circulated now in the other media is that the State doesn’t have control over many areas, and there’s a new offensive by the armed terrorists under Fatah Army and other groups. And the armed opposition, or the rebels or the Takfiris or terrorists, whatever you may call them, are achieving big gains on the ground. In your strategic evaluation, how do you see that your side, along with your ally the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, has actually started to achieve strategic gains on the ground?

Mohammad Raad: Before I answer your question, we should remember all the (previous) experiences of false propaganda talking about these terrorists & enlarging their achievements, their numbers, and their situation. Isn’t it about time for the public opinion to realize that this inflated image of the (terrorists) situation is untrue? Take what happened in Qalamoun: how many were the terrorists in Qalamoun? How long did they withstand their positions?

Journalist: Some would also say that they are in the Damascus countryside, in Jobar and in areas adjacent to Damascus, also in Aleppo…

Mohammad Raad: Sometimes there are areas and positions the regime ignores because they are not important, and he (knows he) can contain them whenever he wants. But he goes towards the strategic areas the control of which defines the preservation of the State’s structure. Isn’t it strange, in the opinion of all international observers, that after 4 years and a half, the State’s institutions are still functioning in Syria?

Journalist: Excellent, this is a very good point as the Army has been fighting for more than 4 years; the Syrian diplomacy is still functioning and maybe more actively than before. Now, I saw by myself that there is a head of a Syrian diplomatic mission in Egypt, Dr. Riadh Sneih, at an ambassador level, and he is an ambassador in fact, he was abroad; and the State institutions are still paying salaries, to the Army and even to students, scholarships and others… All this is important.

Mohammad Raad: Can you imagine a state suffering a devastating war like what is happening in Syria, and still you’ll find a traffic police officer issuing traffic violation tickets?

Journalist: It is said for that, Hajj Mohammad Raad, that if it wasn’t for the direct financial support from a country like Iran, maybe the State wouldn’t function until now, in addition to the military support, of course.

Mohammad Raad: This is not a shortfall in Syria’s ability to withstand. Why are alliances forged between countries and forces at the first place? Isn’t it to benefit from them during crises and during difficult times?

It is much emphasized now, and there is an abuse of this feeling that Iran is controlling Syria, while in Syria there is an Army that is still fighting after 4 years so far. This is part of the misinformation image being circulated.

First of all, do not believe that anybody would fight on behalf of anybody else for free. Maybe there will be mutual strategic or tactical interests imposing on two parties to fight on the same field for the same goal, but each party defends its goal within this mutual interest. Iran is supporting Syria also not only as a gratitude for the Syrian stance towards the Saddam imposed 8-years war against Iran, which was financed by all those who are now contributing in the war against Syria. Iran is standing by Syria because Iran is in an alliance with Syria within the same strategic choice, but if it wasn’t for the fact that the Syrian structure is capable of preserving its choice in the stance against (Israel), all the support Syria is receiving wouldn’t be enough to save the situation.

Enough of simplifying the issues; now it is said that we (Hezbollah) are helping the Syrian Army. Of course, we are carrying out an assistant role to the Syrian Army in the areas where we have an interest to be present in, either in defending the Resistance (Hezbollah) or to preserve the Syrian positive position in supporting the Resistance. But why is it that the heroism and bravery of the Syrian Arab Army are neglected, the army that is holding the keys of the battlefield struggle and manages the struggle until now?!

Journalist: Do you fight in the north (of Syria) Hajj Mohammad Raad? like in Aleppo, are there fighters (of Hezbollah)?

Mohammad Raad: I’m not In favour of talking about details, but I can tell you: We fight where we have to fight.

Journalist: And this is what Sayyed Nasrallah said. He recently said that after the last Qalamoun battle, Hezbollah lost 13 martyrs. Can we know the total number of Hezbollah’s martyrs since the beginning of the Syrian war? Approximately? Some say they reached a thousand (martyrs), is this correct?

Mohammad Raad: I do not believe the figure reached this much, but it is nearing five hundred. Five hundred approximately.

Journalist: Nearing five hundred. Less or a bit more? If it is nearing, it means less… Did President Bashar Al-Assad’s administration manage to survive collapsing? Now the talks saying that ‘There is no solution with the Syrian president involved’ are renewed. And even some of the fighters factions, 13 of them, gathered in Turkey recently and raised this slogan again that by force, he will fall. While for the past 4 years and now in the 5th year, he is still here? Will President Assad’s administration survive?

Mohammad Raad: Our belief is that the solution in Syria depends on the presence and the partnership of President Assad in this solution.

Journalist: Him in person?

Mohammad Raad: Him in person.

Journalist: OK. Can you tell us, Haj Mohammad Raad, why president Assad’s allies like Iran & Hezbollah at the utmost, maybe Russia to the same degree as you or less, I don’t know, why do they hold on to President Bashar Al-Assad in person? As some might argue that if President Al-Assad leaves, maybe the situation in Syria would become better. Is he (President Assad) in person the base to any solution for you?

Mohammad Raad: No, we are holding on him because the matter is not about the person, it is about the position and choice this person is committed to. You might say that there might be other persons like him, but this very person who defended Syria due to his commitment to this choice (resistance), why replace him?!

Journalist: It is said that his presence on top of the current Syrian State has maintained this State due to his personal features, his nerves of steel. I hear about this even among your ranks, that due to his calm, while most of his allies have collapsed, the veteran ones and even in Lebanon, he remained… This proves that he should remain in the partnership position to find a solution. But he’s also blamed by his foes inside Syria and abroad to be responsible for where we have reached. I want to know if Hezbollah and Iran (as Russia will not state its position) are insisting on the person of President Assad in any coming solution, whatever happens. There won’t be any solution found without President Assad?

Mohammad Raad: First of all, as long as the Syrian people are holding on to President Bashar Al-Assad, we cannot overlook this Syrian public opinion.

Journalist: Half of the people… More than half of the people are with President Assad?

Mohammad Raad: Of course

Journalist: How do you know? How do we know? Who is measuring the Syrian public opinion for us to know who is with him and who is not?

Mohammad Raad: First: who said there is anybody in the world who would accept his country to be destroyed? The hesitating portion at the beginning of the crisis of the Syrian people now joined those supporting President Assad to stay in power, because they found out that the alternative is the destruction of Syria and the end of its position and role, and making Syria a satellite in the orbit of the West and subjugating it to the Israeli conditions.

Journalist: So in your opinion President Assad is staying until the last day in his term?

Mohammad Raad: And maybe beyond…

[…]

Translation : Arabi Souri

June 3, 2015 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism, Video | , , , | Leave a comment

Who is on the Left?

By Margaret Kimberley | Black Agenda Report | June 3, 2015

What is a leftist? This question is always an important one but it looms especially large as another presidential election approaches in 2016. The confusion about this issue is caused by opportunism, wishful thinking, and by the need to feel comfortable within America’s narrative of dubious distinction.

In political discussions we often hear about disputes among those who claim to be on the left. Some may favor intervention in Syria or Ukraine or somewhere else targeted by the United States. Should leftists support Bernie Sanders instead of Hillary Clinton? Should leftists vote for Democrats who “disappoint” them?

Worthwhile debate can be separated from nonsensical chit-chat with a few hard questions. Does a policy in dispute promote neo-liberal schemes, increase mass incarceration, make war, steal other nations’ resources, enrich the already wealthy, impoverish the already poor or make one race dominant over others? If the answer is ever yes, then the issue in question is one that leftists can’t support and the people who promote these things can’t be supported either.

Why then do millions of people who think of themselves as progressives or left wing end up giving money, time and votes to people and organizations who continually flunk the litmus test? Some fear the status of “spoiler” even as the Democrats do less and less for their constituents. Some are opportunists who want to get a piece of the action. Others engage in fantasy and live in hope that the scoundrels will suddenly become ethical.

There is another very dangerous dynamic at work. Many people don’t want to find themselves outside of the popular narratives about America. They want to be included in the myth of a good and great country. They pin their hopes on someone they find acceptable standing atop a heap that is inherently corrupt.

Most people who call themselves progressives or who protested the war in Iraq didn’t really want fundamental change. They don’t have the stomach to challenge the assumptions upon which American aggressions are based. That is why they so quickly forgot their supposedly antiwar sentiments and clung so fiercely to Barack Obama. They want to wrap themselves in the flag or in being on a winning team but that means being a part of America’s horrendous tale of conquest, race based terrorism and numerous other oppressions.

The siren song of American superiority is strong. How often did antiwar activists or other progressives claim that a particular atrocity or outrageous act was “un-American.” Of course enslavement and genocide were very American so the claim always rang hollow, but the urge to want to be the good, patriotic American is still there and very, very strong.

Exceptionalism is a concept that is rarely questioned. Manifest Destiny and the violence that comes with it are still considered not just acceptable but noble and benevolent. That explains why Obama’s wars are accepted by the same people who protested against Bush.

It can be difficult to remain in opposition to the American state. It requires an ability to oppose not just war, or economic policy, but a desire for inclusion in a rotten system. The yearning for freedom expressed in the liberation movements was often little more than a yearning to be accepted or to have a seat at the table.

The black misleadership class is a perfect example of this phenomenon. They may have protested fifty years ago but they are now happy and comfortable getting big pay checks, recognition and occasional access to powerful people. The concerns of people behind bars in the American gulag or even poor struggling workers rarely cross their minds. That lack of concern is caused by political expediency for some and rank cynicism by others.

How many people who start out opposing the system really want to get rid of it and how many just want to be a part of it? There is always someone advising the resister to be “reasonable,” “pragmatic” or “realistic” and cling to the Democrats no matter what they do.

Leftists should want freedom from racism, freedom from predatory capitalism and freedom from imperialism. They should want that for themselves and for people all over the world. Anyone who gives the United States government a pass for intervening anywhere in the world is no leftist. It doesn’t matter if the intended target is a “dictator” or “tyrant” or “cruel to his own people.” These are weasel words used to promote violence and to hide inconvenient truths about America’s role in creating its own tyrannies.

The opportunists and even some sincere people will advise supporting the Democratic Party in the November 2016 election. The Republicans’ barely concealed racism and blatant misogyny will be held up as boogie men to frighten anyone who begins to think independently. Yet the Democrats can’t even provide the low hanging fruit of their past.

In 2009 and 2010 the Democrats controlled the White House and both Houses of Congress. If they were interested in raising the minimum wage they had a golden opportunity to do so. That type of treachery must be kept in mind when the “I’m disappointed in the Democrats but still support them” arguments are made.

Self-determination should be the question upper most in every mind. Who will stand independently when mealy mouthed liberals advise standing pat with failure? Who will speak up for Americans who want to free themselves from police violence, gentrification, job loss and surveillance? Who will speak up for people around the world who are subjected to drone strikes, occupations and interventions?

The people who are complicit or even just silent will have exposed themselves. When they counsel accommodation and still claim to be on the left they must be called out as liars. There should be little confusion about what it means to be a leftist.

June 3, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Virginia Cop Shoots to Death an Unarmed Man… for the Second Time

By Noel Brinkerhoff and Steve Straehley | AllGov | June 3, 2015

A Virginia police officer has shot to death a second unarmed man, four years after doing it the first time.

In 2011, Officer Stephen Rankin of Portsmouth, Virginia, killed Kirill Denyakin, shooting him 11 times, after responding to a 911 call about the 26-year-old behaving drunkenly and aggressively outside a building in which he’d been staying. Rankin claimed at the time that Denyakin charged him and reached into his waistband.

Rankin, a former U.S. Navy sailor, avoided indictment for the shooting, but was limited to desk duty for three years.

Then, one day before the fourth anniversary of Denyakin’s shooting, The Guardian reported, Rankin shot and killed William Chapman, an 18-year-old unarmed black teenager suspected of shoplifting from a Walmart. Neither Portsmouth police nor Walmart would say if Chapman actually took anything from the store.

Prior to the Denyankin shooting, police supervisors had been warned that Rankin had use-of-force issues and was “dangerous,” The Guardian reported. After that shooting, Rankin commented on a local newspaper website under a pseudonym defending the shooting. He later admitted to posting the comments.

Portsmouth Police Chief Edward Hargis refused to say why Rankin had been allowed to stay on the street after the problems had been reported. “That’s a personnel matter and I can’t comment.” He added: “I’m not going to comment on what people may say, allegation-wise,” he told The Guardian.

Rankin is now on administrative leave.

To Learn More:

Stephen Rankin: The Military-Trained Officer Who Killed Two Unarmed Men (by Jon Swaine, The Guardian )

William Chapman: Unarmed 18-Year-Old Shot Dead by Officer Who Killed Before (by Jon Swaine, The Guardian )

Death of Kirill Denyakin (Wikipedia)

June 3, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , | Leave a comment

BBC admits Israeli defense minister interview breached impartiality rules

RT | June 3, 2015

The BBC has acknowledged that its presenter Sarah Montague did not adequately challenge controversial comments made by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon about Palestine on the broadcaster’s flagship Radio 4 “Today” program.

Head of Editorial Complaints Fraser Steel wrote to complainants admitting that, while there were some mitigating reasons, the interview with Ya’alon fell below the standards of impartiality required of the BBC.

“Mr Ya’alon was allowed to make several controversial statements on those matters without any meaningful challenge and the program makers have accepted that the interviewer ought to have interrupted him and questioned him on his assertions.”

In a statement, a BBC spokesman said: “The BBC has reached a provisional finding that the complaints should be upheld and will be taking comments from the complainants into account before finalizing the outcome.”

The interview, which took place on March 19, saw the minister make a number of contestable claims which political groups say went unchallenged.

These include Ya’alon’s claim that Palestinians “enjoy already political independence. They have their own political system, government, parliament, municipalities and so forth. And we are happy with it. We don’t want to govern them whatsoever.”

On its website, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) said Montague failed to raise a number of obvious counterpoints, including the point that “Palestinians don’t have political independence. They live under occupation and, in Gaza, under siege.”

The PSC also said: “In the West Bank, Israel arrests and detains Palestinian MPs, often without charge or trial. West Bank Palestinians’ taxes are collected by Israel and then handed to the Palestinian Authority.

“Israel regularly withholds the tax revenue from the PA when it goes against its wishes.”

One of the most prominent complaints came from filmmaker and activist Ken Loach. His letter, sent via the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, read: “You understand, I’m sure, that this interview is a serious breach of the requirement for impartiality. Unlike all other Today interviews, the minister was allowed to speak without challenge. Why?”

“You and your interviewer have seriously betrayed your obligation to report impartially and to challenge assertions that are unsustainable.”

In March, BBC Director-General Lord Hall said reporting on the Israel-Palestine conflict was “tough,” but insisted the corporation aimed to be balanced in its coverage.

Hall added that the broadcaster was committed to its coverage of the Middle East, including Israel and Palestine.

Speaking before a 200-person audience at ORT UK’s business breakfast on Tuesday, the BBC boss said: “It is hard … tough. We do aim to give as impartial coverage as [best] we can across the period.”

“I do not want you to doubt for one second our commitment to the coverage of Israel and Palestine – but also the wider Middle East,” he said.

An independent review of the BBC’s Israel-Palestine coverage published in 2006 found the corporation offered an “incomplete” and “misleading” picture of the conflict.

Chaired by Sir Quentin Thomas, the report said the BBC failed to “convey adequately the disparity in the Israeli and Palestinian experience, reflecting the fact that one side is in control and the other lives under occupation.”

June 3, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gazans begin hunger strike until Rafah crossing reopens

MEMO | June 3, 2015

Scores of people unable to travel because of the closure of Rafah crossing started an open hunger strike yesterday to protest against the closure by the Egyptian authorities, Falesteen newspaper reported.

The hunger strikers set up a tent near the crossing and put up a number of posters including: “People stuck in Gaza call for Egyptian Authorities to open the Rafah crossing in both directions.”

Another poster read: “We call for the UN and all human rights organisations to facilitate the travel of Gaza’s patients… Gaza’s patients are awaiting death because of the closure of the crossing. We are humans… Where are President Abbas and the unity government?”

The hunger strikers said that they would continue their strike until the crossing is reopened, calling for the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian unity government to take actions to make this happen.

The group’s spokesman, Majdi Abu-Kareem, said that around 15,000 Palestinians need to travel urgently and they are “just waiting for the crossing to open”.

“Some of the people who are unable to travel are patients, some are university students and some are foreign passport holders facing expiration deadlines,” he said. “The passports of a number of foreign passport holders have expired.”

“The continuous closure of the crossing increases the suffering of the people of Gaza,” Abu-Kareem said. “The closure makes the coastal enclave the biggest prison in the world.”

June 3, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 1 Comment

Nablus activists to deploy on hilltops to prevent settlement expansion

Ma’an – June 3, 2015

NABLUS – Palestinian activists in the Nablus area of the northern West Bank are preparing to launch what they describe as the largest campaign against settlement expansion in the area.

Palestinian official Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement related activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an Wednesday that the activists plan to install movable houses on hilltops in 35 villages and towns across Nablus district under threat of confiscation by Israeli authorities.

The move comes amid an ongoing takeover of private Palestinian land in the hills surrounding Nablus, where several Jewish-only settlements have been established throughout the area over the years.

After small groups of Israeli settlers claim the land and gradually grow outwards with the protection of the Israeli military, private Palestinian land is confiscated through legal processes, according to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.

There are currently 12 illegal settlements and 27 settlement outposts in the Nablus area housing around 23,000 of the “most extremist settlers in the Palestinian Territory,” according to Daghlas.

The settlements and outposts surrounding Nablus have gained such reputation largely due to high rates of violent acts by settlement residents against local Palestinians, including uprooting and burning olive trees, vandalism against private property, in addition to violent physical attacks.

Last week, residents from the illegal Yitzhar settlement expanded onto local Palestinian land near the village of Huwwara.

Israeli security forces estimated that the majority of incidents during a 2014 wave of anti-Palestinian hate crimes were carried out by Yitzhar residents, Israeli media reported at the time.

The hilltop campaign, added Daghlas, is a preemptive move to protect Palestinian land from the ongoing settlement expansion especially as the newly-formed rightist Israeli government begins to fulfill promises made to the settler bloc in the run up to the March elections.

The activity was organized by the Nablus district Committee Against Settlements in cooperation with the Fatah movement’s recruitment commission headed by Mahmoud al-Aloul.

June 3, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | Leave a comment

Neocon Fugitive Given Ukraine Province

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | June 2, 2015

The latest political move by the U.S.-backed “pro-democracy” regime in Ukraine was to foist on the people of Odessa the autocratic Georgian ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, a neoconservative favorite and currently a fugitive from his own country which is seeking him on charges of human rights violations and embezzlement.

New York Times correspondent David M. Herszenhorn justified this imposition of a newly minted Ukrainian citizen on the largely Russian-speaking population of Odessa by saying that “the Ukrainian public’s general willingness to accept the appointment of foreigners to high-level positions underscores the deep lack of trust in any government after nearly a quarter-century of mismanagement and corruption.”

But Herszenhorn made no apparent effort to gauge how willing the people of Odessa are to accept this choice of a controversial foreign politician to govern them. The pick was made by President Petro Poroshenko and is just the latest questionable appointment by the post-coup regime in Kiev.

For instance, shortly after the Feb. 22, 2014 putsch that ousted elected President Viktor Yanukovych, the new U.S.-endorsed authorities in Kiev named thuggish oligarch Igor Kolomoisky to be governor of Dnipropetrovsk in southeastern Ukraine. Kolomoisky, regarded as one of Ukraine’s most corrupt billionaires, ruled the region as his personal fiefdom until he was ousted by Poroshenko earlier this year in a dispute over Kolomoisky’s use of strong-arm tactics to maintain control of Ukrainian energy companies. [See Consortiumnews.com’sUkraine’s Oligarchs Turn on Each Other.”]

Poroshenko also has granted overnight Ukrainian citizenship to other controversial foreigners to hold key positions in his government, including Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko, an ex-U.S. State Department official whose qualifications included enriching herself through her management of a $150 million U.S.-taxpayer-financed investment fund for Ukraine. [See Consortiumnews.com’sUkraine Finance Minister’s ‘American Values’.”]

Beyond his recruitment of questionable outsiders, Poroshenko has made concessions to Ukraine’s far-right nationalists, including signing legislation to extend official recognition to Ukrainian fascists who collaborated with the Nazis in killing Jews and Poles during World War II. In a bitter irony, the new law coincided with the world’s celebration in April of the 70th anniversary of Russian and U.S. troops bringing an end to the Holocaust. [See Consortiumnews.com’sHow Ukraine Commemorates the Holocaust.”]

Now Poroshenko has given Saakashvili his own province to govern, rescuing him from an obscure existence in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. According to a New York Times profile last September, Saakashvili was there “writing a memoir, delivering ‘very well-paid’ speeches, helping start up a Washington-based think tank and visiting old boosters like Senator John McCain and Victoria Nuland, the assistant secretary of state.”

McCain and Nuland were key neocon backers of the coup that ousted Yanukovych and touched off the bloody civil war that has killed thousands of ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine, while also reviving Cold War tensions between the West and Russia. Before the coup, McCain urged on right-wing protesters with promises of U.S. support and Nuland was overheard hand-picking Ukraine’s new leadership, saying “Yats is the guy,” a reference to Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who became prime minister after the coup.

According to the Times profile, Saakashvili also “entertained David H. Petraeus, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency,” another neocon favorite who ran into legal trouble himself when the FBI discovered he had shared top-secret information with his biographer/lover and then lied about it to FBI agents. Petraeus, however, received only a suspended sentence and a fine in contrast to intelligence-community whistleblowers who have faced serious prison time.

Models, Nude Artist and Massage Therapist

While cooling his heels in Brooklyn, Saakashvili fumed over charges leveled against him by prosecutors in his home country of Georgia. According to the Times profile, Saakashvili was accused of “using public money to pay for, among other things, hotel expenses for a personal stylist, hotel and travel for two fashion models, Botox injections and hair removal, the rental of a yacht in Italy and the purchase of artwork by the London artist Meredith Ostrom, who makes imprints on canvases with her naked, painted body. …

“Mr. Saakashvili is also accused of using public money to fly his massage therapist, Dorothy Stein, into Georgia in 2009. Mr. Saakashvili said he received a massage from Ms. Stein on ‘one occasion only,’ but Ms. Stein said she received 2,000 euros to massage him multiple times, including delivering her trademark ‘bite massage.’ ‘He gave me a bunch of presents,’ said Ms. Stein, who splits her time between Berlin and Hoboken,” including a gold necklace.

The Georgian prosecutors also have charged Saakashvili with human rights violations for his violent crackdown on political protesters in 2007.

However, in Herszenhorn’s May 31 article about Saakashvili’s appointment as Odessa’s governor, the Times correspondent (who has behaved more like a pro-Kiev propagandist than an objective reporter) wrote that the criminal charges against Saakashvili and other officials from his government are “widely perceived as a campaign of political retribution.”

Herszenhorn didn’t say where he had gained that perception, but it is true that Official Washington’s neoconservatives will broach no criticism of their longtime hero Saakashvili, who was a big booster of the Iraq War and even named a boulevard in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi in honor of U.S. President George W. Bush.

Saakashvili apparently felt that his close ties to the Bush administration would protect him in summer 2008 when he provoked a border clash with Russian troops over the rebellious territory of South Ossetia. Georgia suffered a sharp military defeat and Saakashvili’s political star quickly faded among his countrymen, leading to his party’s rejection at the polls and his exile.

But Saakashvili’s love of the high life might find similar attitudes among some of the other “carpetbaggers” arriving in Ukraine to take Ukrainian citizenship and get top jobs in the post-coup government. Estonian Jaanika Merilo, an associate of Finance Minister Jaresko’s, was brought in to handle Ukraine’s foreign investments, but Merilo is best known on the Internet for her provocative party photos.

Janika Merilo, the Estonian being put in charge of arranging foreign investments into Ukraine. (From her Facebook page via Zero Hedge)
Janika Merilo, the Estonian being put in charge of arranging foreign investments into Ukraine. (From her Facebook page via Zero Hedge)
Janika Merilo, an Estonian brought into the Ukrainian government to oversee foreign investments. (From her Facebook page via Zero Hedge)
Janika Merilo, an Estonian brought into the Ukrainian government to oversee foreign investments. (From her Facebook page via Zero Hedge)

Yet, as much fun as some of these well-connected politicians and bureaucrats may be having in Kiev, the plight of the average Ukrainian continues to worsen as “free-market” reforms demanded by the International Monetary Fund take hold. Those “reforms” have included slashing old-age pensions, removing worker protections, and hiking the price of heating fuel.

Now, the latest “democratic” reform is to appoint a neocon politician on the run from his own country’s criminal justice system to govern what is likely to be a hostile population of ethnic Russians in Odessa.

On May 2, 2014, neo-Nazi street fighters set fire to Odessa’s Trade Union Building and burned alive dozens of ethnic Russians who had taken refuge there. The building was also spray-painted with Nazi slogans, including praise for the Galician SS, a Ukrainian force that fought with the Nazis and slaughtered Jews. [See Consortiumnews.com’sUkraine’s Dr. Strangelove Reality.”]

Overseeing that tense city now is an unelected ex-Georgian neocon politician who is facing charges in his homeland for human rights abuses and misuse of government funds — more “democracy promotion” in the tragic land of Ukraine.

~

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com)

June 3, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Entire highrise engulfed in flames, no collapse

June 3, 2015 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, Video | 1 Comment