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IMF: Greek debt ‘unsustainable,’ Europe should give relief – report

RT | July 15, 2015

European creditors should either write down a massive amount of Athens’ debt or give Greece a 30-year grace period if they want it to recover and repay, according to a Reuters’ report citing International Monetary Fund (IMF) officials and a secret study.

Taking into account Greece’s growing financial needs, its debt situation is “unsustainable,” according to the latest IMF projections contained in a confidential report obtained by Reuters. The new data, sent by the IMF to EU governments late on Monday after a new Greek bailout plan was agreed upon in principle, states that the 86-billion-euro program will not save Greece from financial collapse.

The updated debt sustainability analysis, which is said to have been released by the fund now that several media outlets have leaked the data, calls for a considerable portion of the Greek debt to be written off.

“The dramatic deterioration in debt sustainability points to the need for debt relief on a scale that would need to go well beyond what has been under consideration to date – and what has been proposed by the ESM [European Stability Mechanism bailout fund],” the IMF paper says.

According to the leaked study, Greece’s debt will peak at nearly 200 percent of economic output in the next two years, standing at 170 percent of GDP even by 2022. Previously published estimates had put the figures at 177 percent and 142 percent respectively.

The IMF now estimates that Athens’ gross financing needs will rise above the “safe” 15 percent of GDP threshold and continue rising in the long term. Moreover, even those projections “remain subject to considerable downside risk,” the study said

A 30-year grace period on servicing the Greek European debt, including new loans, would have to be provided by the European creditors, as well as a significant maturity extension, the IMF believes. Otherwise, the creditors would have to make annual fiscal transfers to the Greek budget or accept “deep upfront haircuts” on their loans, the report says.

Greece is in need of much greater debt relief than European governments are willing to acknowledge, and this measure is needed to let the Greek economy recover, a senior IMF official told Reuters late on Tuesday.

“I don’t think this is a gimmick or kicking the can down the road… This is a dramatic measure to take the entire European stock [of debt] and reprofile it,” for Greece to have a chance of “getting some growth back,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

For the IMF to remain involved in financial aid for Greece, its debt must be deemed “sustainable” by the fund – something which the latest study does not believe possible.

“Borrowing at anything but AAA rates in the near term will bring about an unsustainable debt dynamic for the next several decades,” the paper says, challenging the assumption voiced by some European officials that in 2018 Greece will already be able to meet some of its financing needs by going to the markets.

The publication of the IMF report comes on the heels of other disclosures, such as German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble revealing that some members of the government in Berlin would have preferred that Greece take a “time-out” from the eurozone rather than give it another bailout.

Meanwhile, the new debt sustainability figures for Greece had reportedly been given to European finance ministers on Saturday – well before the Monday deal was concluded.

The timing of the leak coincides with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s attempt to convince his parliament that accepting the deal is the only option if Greece is to remain in the euro and avoid economic collapse.

Tsipras gave a live TV interview defending the deal ahead of Wednesday’s parliamentary session that is to decide the issue. The outcome of the vote is far from certain, with many of the Syriza leader’s fellow party members unhappy with the new bailout plan.

While revealing he “does not believe in” the bailout plan, Tsipras argued that the deal was the only way for Greece to stay in the EU – something that he said was a “one way street” option imposed on the Greeks. However, he claimed that he had still managed to win certain concessions such as avoiding wage and pension cuts and securing ‘fresh money’ from European states.

July 14, 2015 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | 2 Comments

What a Deal: Thoughts on the Iran Agreement

By Sheldon Richman | Free Association | July 14, 2015

Those crafty Iranians. In return for relief from America’s devastating economic warfare, they will give up a nuclear ambition they did not have. Boy did we get taken!

Damn, we didn’t even get a chance to humiliate them! What’s happening to America?

The neocons fear that if Iran’s assets are unfrozen, it will behave like the United States.

It’s worth it to see the Lobby and neocons go berserk.

While Obama brags about stemming nuclear proliferation, let him explain why he, like Israel, opposes making the Mideast nuclear-free. (Hint: Israel is the nuclear monopolist, having achieved that status by smuggling the components and breaking U.S. law with the connivance of American officials and other influential people.)

How dare Iran think it can destabilize the Middle East! That’s America’s role!

Next agenda item: dismantling the US nuclear arsenal.

July 14, 2015 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment

The World Rebukes Netanyahu

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | July 14, 2015

In a rare rebuke to his bullying, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to stop the United States and five other world powers from reaching an agreement to constrain but not eliminate Iran’s nuclear program. Yet, Netanyahu still is dominating how the U.S. public and congressional debate is being framed, with Iran accused of regional “aggression” in four countries.

On Tuesday, a recurring theme on U.S. news broadcasts, such as Andrea Mitchell’s MSNBC program, was that any lifting of economic sanctions against Iran will give it more money to engage in trouble-making in the Middle East with references to four nations – Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen – a central theme in Netanyahu’s speech on March 3 to a joint session of the U.S. Congress.

To repeated standing ovations from U.S. senators and congressmen, Netanyahu declared: “In the Middle East, Iran now dominates four Arab capitals, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa. And if Iran’s aggression is left unchecked, more will surely follow. So, at a time when many hope that Iran will join the community of nations, Iran is busy gobbling up the nations. We must all stand together to stop Iran’s march of conquest, subjugation and terror.”

Netanyahu’s reference to “Iran’s aggression,” which is now becoming a conventional-wisdom talking point in Official Washington, was curious since Iran has not invaded another country for centuries. In 1980, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq – at the urging of Saudi Arabia – invaded Iran. But Iran has not invaded any of the four countries that Netanyahu cited.

One of Netanyahu’s citations of Arab cities supposedly conquered by Iran was particularly strange: Baghdad, which is the capital of Iraq where the U.S. military invaded in 2003 to overthrow Saddam Hussein and his Sunni-dominated government, on Netanyahu’s recommendation. In other words, Iraq was conquered not by Iranian “aggression” but by U.S. aggression with the support of Israel.

After the Iraq invasion, President George W. Bush installed a Shiite-dominated government which then developed friendly ties to Iran’s Shiite government. So, whatever influence Iran has in Baghdad is the result of a U.S. invasion that Netanyahu personally encouraged.

More recently, Iran has helped the embattled Iraqi government in its struggle against the murderous Islamic State militants who seized large swaths of Iraqi territory last summer. Indeed, Iraqi officials have credited Iran with playing a crucial role in blunting the Islamic State, the terrorists whom President Barack Obama has identified as one of the top security threats facing the United States.

So, in the current Iraqi fight against the head-chopping Islamic State, Iran and the United States are on the same side. Yet, Netanyahu calls Iran’s help “aggression” – and American talking heads repeat that refrain.

Netanyahu also cited Damascus, where Iran has aided the Syrian government in its struggle against the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front. That means that Iran is assisting the internationally recognized government of Syria hold off two major terrorist organizations. By contrast, Israel and Saudi Arabia have provided direct and indirect help at least to Nusra. [See Consortiumnews.com’sDid Money Seal Israel-Saudi Alliance?”]

The Israeli prime minister also mentioned Beirut, Lebanon, and Sanaa, Yemen, but those were rather bizarre references, too, since Lebanon is governed by a multi-ethnic arrangement that includes a number of religious and political factions. Hezbollah is one and it has close ties to Iran, but it is stretching the truth to say that Iran “dominates” Beirut or Lebanon.

Similarly, in Sanaa, the Houthis, a Shiite-related sect, have taken control of Yemen’s capital and have reportedly received some help from Iran, but the Houthis deny those reports and are clearly far from under Iranian control. The Houthis also have vowed to work with the Americans to carry on the fight against Yemen’s Al-Qaeda affiliate, which has benefitted from a brutal Saudi bombing campaign against Houthi targets, an act of real aggression that has killed hundreds of civilians and provoked a humanitarian crisis.

Indeed, Iran and these various Shiite-linked movements have been among the most effective in battling Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, while Israel’s Saudi friends have been repeatedly linked to funding and supporting these Sunni terrorist organizations.

So, there is little truth and much exaggeration to Netanyahu’s depiction of what is going on in the Middle East. Yet, the U.S. mainstream media mindlessly reprises Netanyahu’s falsehood about Iran “gobbling up” nations.

~

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).

July 14, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 5 Comments

Surveillance watchdog calls for ‘democratic control’ of spies

RT | July 14, 2015

Civil liberties NGO Privacy International (PI) has criticized a report on state surveillance, calling for improved regulatory oversight rather than self-reporting by spy agencies.

The civil liberties NGO was commenting on a Royal United Service Institute (RUSI) report published on Monday.

Titled ‘A Democratic License to Operate’, the study was conducted by the foreign policy think-tank as part of Britain’s Independent Surveillance Review.

PI agreed with some of RUSI’s findings but insisted that government-backed mass surveillance remains a deep concern.

“The RUSI report, from start to end, emphasizes how technological change has rendered the current legal system governing surveillance obsolete,” PI deputy director Eric King told RT on Tuesday.

“Every day, the highly technical GCHQ finds new ways to eavesdrop, while our oversight tries to cope with technical blind spots,” he added.

Privacy International warned that the current system relies on GHCQ to self-report errors. It called for a “better resourced, more technically equipped oversight body” with the power to take “GCHQ to task.”

It also called for “root and branch reform” to bring snoops and the agencies they work for “under democratic control.”

This surveillance versus privacy rights debate has long infiltrated British politics, as campaigners continue to criticize government spy base GCHQ’s invasive snooping practices.

Despite contentious leaks by ex-NSA computer analyst and whistleblower Edward Snowden, RUSI’s report said there is “no evidence that the British government knowingly acts illegally in intercepting private communications.”

It argued further that there is no proof that the British state’s ability to collect data in bulk is used by snoops as a perpetual window into the private lives of UK residents.

RUSI’s study makes a series of recommendations on how state surveillance should be conducted in the future, saying that the current legal framework for intercepting communications is unclear.

The think tank adds this legal framework “has not kept pace with developments in communications technology, and does not serve either the government or members of the public satisfactorily.

The think tank is calling for “a new, comprehensive and clearer legal framework” to regulate state surveillance.

At a confidential intelligence conference held at Ditchley Park in Oxfordshire in June, the views of a number of high-ranking intelligence officials came to light.

Investigative journalist Duncan Campbell, who attended the conference, posted on his website, “Perhaps to many participants’ surprise, there was general agreement across broad divides of opinion that Snowden – love him or hate him – had changed the landscape.”

According to Campbell, a number of senior officials felt that shift “towards transparency, or at least ‘translucency’” was long overdue and utterly necessary.

July 14, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

Palestinian bystander shot by Israeli forces in Shufat loses eye

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Ma’an – July 14, 2015

JERUSALEM – A 55-year-old Palestinian lost an eye after he was hit by a sponge-tipped bullet while seeking shelter from clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian youths in Shufat refugee camp in East Jerusalem Sunday.

Video footage caught on a surveillance camera in a grocery shop showed the moment Nafiz Dmeiri sought refuge from the clashes inside the shop and was shot in the face.

He was evacuated to Hadassah Medical Center in Ein Kerem in West Jerusalem.

An Israeli human rights group, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, said in a statement that Dmeiri is deaf and mute, has one child and works at a tailor shop.

The statement called on Israeli police to stop using “black sponge bullets during riot dispersal.”

Dmeiri was one of two Palestinians injured during the clashes that broke out after “undercover” Israeli forces raided a clothing store inside the camp to make an arrest.

A Fatah spokesman in the camp, Thaer Fasfous, told Ma’an that Israeli forces had opened fire on local residents “indiscriminately,” hitting Dmeiri in the eye and another man in the upper body.

According to Israeli rights group B’Tselem, sponge-tipped bullets “are made of 40-mm-diameter plastic with a sponge tip intended to reduce the bodily injury it causes.”

They were introduced after the use of rubber-coated steel bullets was prohibited within Israel, and are commonly used in occupied East Jerusalem, though rarely in the West Bank.

B’Tselem said that sponge-tipped bullets, “if used according to the safety regulations, (are) less dangerous than a rubber-coated metal bullet.”

However, the group said it had documented a number of instances where “police officers have fired sponge rounds unlawfully, in blatant violation of the regulations, resulting in injury to Palestinians… (and) in the loss of an eye in at least one case.”

July 14, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Video | , , , | 1 Comment

Israel to Build Jewish Settlements over Occupied Historic Muslim Cemetery

IMEMC News & Agencies | July 14, 2015

Q-Press media center for Jerusalem and al-Aqsa affairs today said that the planning and construction committee in occupied Jerusalem, last week, has approved the construction of a huge project on land of the Ma’man Allah historic Islamic cemetery, on which an Israeli school has already been built. The land will also be used for settlement housing, a hotel and a shopping center.

Haaretz newspaper said, according to the PNN, that Israeli occupation authorities pushed to execute the project on the land even though it is Islamic Waqf (property) that cannot be seized.

Israeli occupation is still going on with the project with complete knowledge that there are existing graves underneath the land.

The newspaper added that the Israeli plan includes building 192 settlement units, a hotel and a shopping center. The project was initiated by Eiden company, which follows the Israeli Jerusalem municipality.

To its part, Al-Aqsa foundation for Waqf and heritage said that the Israeli municipality in Jerusalem, through this project, was continuing to Judaize the Islamic cemetery, violating all the laws and conventions which ban desecrating sanctuaries under any occupation.

Israeli authorities have targeted the cemetery for years. They have established different projects including parks, hotels, schools and shopping centers on the land, violating even the rights of the dead.

July 14, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

The Occupation of Greece: a Financial Coup D’état

By Binoy Kampmark | CounterPunch | July 14, 2015

“This has nothing to do with economics. It has nothing to do with putting Greece back on the rails towards recovery.”

— Yanis Varoufakis, Jul 13, 2015

Alexis Tsipras, along with his crew of negotiators, had done much with little. His Syriza government had been fighting a war of attrition with creditors and, with the hectoring Yanis Varoufakis, parried them for weeks. But the European credit system does, however, demand more than its pound of flesh. It demands those who do not play by the rules – and these rules are of the most dubious import – surrender their sovereignty.

On Tuesday, Tsipras faces an internal revolt after making a three year deal with Eurozone leaders that would see the accumulation of more debt – another 86 billion euro bailout – to service an already crippling burden. It also sees greater involvement of the International Monetary Fund, the grand bugbear of austerity finance.

Instead of exiting a system weakened by its own internal contradictions and failings, Greece is to partake in another mistake wrapped in the rhetoric of pro-European kitsch. In what is tantamount to placing a gun to the head of Greece’s sovereignty, parliamentarians will have till Wednesday to finalise what effectively amounts to a suicide pact.

The accord effectively sees the German-led Eurozone group demand control of Greek finances without the provision of debt relief or even a vague sense of genuine debt restructuring. This is a creditor’s vision on steroids, absurdly ambitious and destructive.

Varoufakis saw it coming, calling it “worse” than any other deals placed on the table before. “I trust and hope that our government will insist on debt restructuring, but I can’t see how German finance minister [Wolfgang Schäuble] is ever going to sign up to this. If he does, it will be a miracle” (New Statesman, Jul 13).

Independent Greek leader Panos Kammenos had made his opposition to another round of austerity concessions crystal clear and unimpeachable. “In a parliamentary democracy there are rules and we uphold them.” Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis and Deputy Labor Minister Dimitris Stratoulis have both expressed public opposition to the measures and risk the sack. Given the calculations in store, Tsipras will have to rely on the pro-European opposition parties, who were resoundingly beaten in the referendum.

The entire arrangement reeks of a seizure of sovereignty, the use of debt bondage and creditor supervision instead of the customary weapons associated with a military invasion. Further to the usual barbarities of savaging the local economy, be it increases in value added taxes, cutting pensions and the placing of automatic spending constraints, a jumbo sale of 50 billion euros worth of public assets is being forced upon Greece. Greece, in other words, is effectively being told to sell itself into private hands.

Money obtained from that sequestration of assets is to be placed in a trust fund that will be beyond government hands, another absurdly dangerous measure that will remind Greek citizens where their referendum voice has gone. Tsipras could only say that the agreement had “averted the plan for financial strangulation.” In truth, the Eurozone leaders had rounded up on him in a feast of vengeful savagery, instigating moves that will further cause a constriction in the economy.

Merkel’s austerity fanatics have not covered themselves in glory. They have supervised a sickly vision of capture and control, using austerity as their weapon of choice. Merkel has herself been asked to compare the brutal agreement being demanded of Greece to Germany’s own Versailles Treaty of 1919, where indebtedness and bondage took centre stage in a punitive arrangement. “I won’t take part in historical comparisons, especially when I didn’t make them myself.” Sleepwalking in history can prove to be a dangerous habit.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, forgetting his own reservations about the legitimacy of the Troika’s demands, threw up the customary straw man in the argument. Grexit was to be avoided at the cost of Greek sovereignty. “The agreement was laborious, but it has been concluded. There is no Grexit.”

Astonishingly, he suggested that the compromise had seen “no winners and no losers. I don’t think the Greek people have been humiliated, nor that the other Europeans have lost face. It is a typical European arrangement.”

This, says Varoufakis, is precisely the problem. The Troika was insincere from the start, refusing to genuinely deal with the crisis while offering inconceivably crushing terms. Bad faith was their game; illegitimacy was their spirit. (Varoufakis repeatedly noted throughout negotiations that the Eurogroup has no legal standing, yet possesses enormous power over individual Europeans.) “The other side insisted on a ‘comprehensive agreement’, which meant they wanted to talk about everything. My interpretation is that when you want to talk about everything, you don’t want to talk about anything.”

The next chapter in this poorly minted odyssey, one of tragic proportions, is whether the Greek parliament gives its approval to the accord. The Germans will take their turn on Friday, with Merkel having to butter MPs up with a needlessly punitive arrangement that is nothing more than economic sadism. Should the package pass in these parliaments, we would have seen a financial coup d’état in the making, and one that weakens all parties. Now that promises to be an all too typical European arrangement.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

July 14, 2015 Posted by | Economics | , , , | Leave a comment

MH17: The Blaming Putin Game Goes On

Who shot down MH-17? Somebody knows

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • July 14, 2015

Once upon a time CIA Stations overseas received what was referred to as an “Operating Directive” which prioritized intelligence targets for the upcoming year based on their importance vis-à-vis national security. Prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, penetrating Moscow and preventing the KGB’s repaying the favor in kind loomed large as Russia and its allies represented the only genuine threat that could in fact destroy much of the United States. Today’s Russia retains much of that military capability but somehow the perception that you have to deal with what is important first has been lost on our policymakers, possibly due to a false impression inside the beltway that Moscow no longer matters.

A working relationship with Moscow that seeks to mitigate potential areas of conflict is not just important, it is essential. Russian willingness to cooperate with the west in key areas to include the Middle East is highly desirable in and of itself but the bottom line continues to be Moscow’s capability to go nuclear against Washington if it is backed into a corner. Unfortunately, U.S. administrations since Bill Clinton have done their best to do just that, placing Russia on the defensive by encroaching on its legitimate sphere of influence through the expansion of NATO. Washington’s meddling has also led to interfering in Russia’s domestic politics as part of a misguided policy of “democracy building” as well as second guessing its judiciary and imposing sanctions through the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012. The damage to relations has been aggravated by the ill-advised commentary from American politicians on the make, including Senator John McCain’s dismissal of Russia as “a gas station masquerading as a country.”

One should legitimately be concerned over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inflicting damage on his country’s fledgling democracy through fraud, corruption, media clampdowns and exploitation of a malleable legal system. One might also object to exactly how Russia asserted its interests using force against neighboring states Georgia and Ukraine. But that does not change the bottom line, which continues to be that functional relations between Moscow and Washington are a sine qua non. Russia’s domestic politics are none of our business and the alleged grievances of Georgia and Ukraine are undeniably a lot less purely attributable to Russian actions than the White House and Congress would have us believe, with U.S. interference in both countries clearly a major contributing factor to the resulting instability.

Assuming that one accepts that lessening bilateral tension over the Ukraine is a desirable objective, the White House might soon have a good opportunity to demonstrate that it is willing to deal fairly with the Russian leadership in Moscow. The Dutch Government’s Safety Board will in October make public its long awaited report detailing its assessment of last year’s downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH-17 over Ukraine. The investigation was conducted with the cooperation of the Ukrainian and Malaysian authorities, but did not include a thorough survey of the crash site, which was and still is considered too dangerous. According to leaks of its conclusions, the report will admit that there is no conclusive evidence regarding who is responsible for the shoot down but it will nevertheless make a circumstantial case that the pro-Russian separatists are the most likely suspects in spite of the fact that there is no hard technical or intelligence related evidence supporting that judgment. Blaming the separatists will, by implication, also blame Moscow.

At this point, the United States, which together with other interested parties has been reviewing a copy of the report in draft, does not intend to present its own findings but will instead go along with the Dutch conclusions. Among former intelligence, military and Foreign Service officers there has been considerable discussion of the significance of Washington’s standing on the sidelines regarding the findings. To be sure, there are a number of rumors and allegations circulating relating to what is actually known or not know about the shoot down.

According to some sources, the U.S. intelligence community disagrees over the likelihood of the alleged Russian role and has suggested as much privately to the Dutch. Some analysts who have looked at all the considerable body of information that has been collected relating to the downing actually believe that the most likely candidate might well be the then governor of the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast Ihor Kolomoisky, an oligarch billionaire who is an Israeli-Ukrainian dual national. Kolomoisky is known to employ Israeli mercenaries as advisers and has personally organized and paid for militias fighting the Russian separatists. He would have been strongly motivated to create an incident that could plausibly be blamed on the Russians or their surrogates and he had the means to do so. The government in Kiev acting independently also had the resources and motive to shoot down the plane and blame it on Moscow.

The dominant narrative that is still circulating widely suggests that either a direct or enabling Russian role is a given based on the claimed origin of the Buk missile, technical analysis of the plume and trajectory, and the military units that were known to be in place or moving at the time. And there was also the apparent separatist bragging on communications intercepts about shooting down a transport plane. This was the explanation that surfaced shortly after the downing, that was heavily promoted by the Ukrainian government and the media and that has been much favored by the international punditry ever since.

The third option of how to explain the shoot down is, of course, the Dutch approach: we think it was the Russians but we can’t prove it. That is an easy choice to make as it really says nothing, which is possibly why it is being favored by the White House.

But if it is actually true that there has been considerable dissent on the findings, the tacit acceptance of a possibly unreliable and essentially unsustainable report by the White House will have significant impact on relations with Russia. It constitutes a disturbing rejection of possibly accurate intelligence analysis in favor of a politically safe alternative explanation. It recalls the politicization of intelligence that included Robert Gates’ Soviet assessments of the 1980s, John McLaughlin’s tergiversation regarding Iraq, and, most recently, Michael Morell’s over the top hyping of the threat posed by political Islam. It is a return to a Manichean view of the world as “them” and “us” with the implication that intelligence professionals are willing to restrain their dissent on an important issue if it serves to advance the current war of words with Russia.

To be sure, deep sixing intelligence assessments that contradict policies that the White House is intent on pursuing anyway buys congenial access to the President and his advisers but it comes at the cost of diminishing the ability of the intelligence community to provide objective and reliable information in a timely fashion, which is at least in theory why it exists at all. Producing honest intelligence will, on the contrary, strengthen both the reputations and credibility of all involved.

If Russia is indeed to blame for the airplane shoot down it should be held accountable, but it is up to the U.S. government to put its cards on the table and be clear about what it does and does not know. The original claims that Russia was involved were based on snap judgments based on bits of information that had been obtained immediately after the event, little of which has been subsequently corroborated through either satellite imagery or electronic and signal intercepts. Since that time the German BND intelligence service has expressed its doubts that the missile used in the shoot down could have been supplied by Russia and has also claimed that photos provided by the Ukrainian government as part of the investigation had been “doctored.” There have also been reports regarding a Ukrainian fighter plane being in the area of the airliner as well as the nearby presence of Ukrainian ground to air missile units. Reported conversations among separatist claiming credit were eventually determined to be composite fakes produced by the Ukrainian intelligence services. Presumably U.S. intelligence has also taken a long and hard look at all the evidence or lack thereof but it is being quiet regarding what it has determined.

It is important to get this right because the potential damage goes far beyond the role of intelligence or even who might have been responsible for the downing of an airliner one year ago. As the relationship with Russia is of critical importance and should be regarded as the number one national security issue for the United States, it is essential that the Dutch conclusions be aggressively challenged if there is even the slightest possibility that Russia is blameless.

One does not have to be a fan of Vladimir Putin to appreciate that the nearly continuous efforts being promoted within mostly neoconservative circles to both delegitimize and confront him and his regime do not serve any conceivable American national interest. In an Independence Day phone call to President Obama, President Putin called for a working relationship with the United States based on “equality and respect,” which should, under the circumstances, be a given. Americans have been lied into intervention and war more than once over the past fifteen years and it should be clear to all that any contrived crisis based on an erroneous conclusion regarding a shot down airliner that develops into an armed conflict with Russia will have unimaginable consequences. A skeptical American public and international community must demand that any MH-17 report should reflect a full assessment, to include any dissent from its conclusions registered by the United States intelligence community. Any information at variance with the conventional view, particularly anything that suggests that there might be other interested parties who had both the means and compelling interest to shoot down a civilian airliner, must become a part of the discussion.

July 14, 2015 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | Leave a comment

David Cameron calls for escalation of UK wars at home and abroad

Cameron plans to extend UK involvement in the wars raging in Iraq and Syria, while mounting an hysterical attack on British Muslims.

By Chris Nineham | Stop the War Coalition | July 13, 2015

Last week’s hike in the military budget was not symbolic. Today David Cameron has proved he wants to take Britain back to a lead military role in the Middle East.

He has called for a ‘fresh assault on Isil’. As the extra 2.5 billion pounds voted for the military in the budget kicks in, he has called on the top brass to organise more SAS troop deployments, drone attacks and RAF bombing missions, not just on Iraq, but in Syria too, despite the parliamentary vote in 2013 explicitly ruling out such an attack.

David Cameron makes the extraordinary claim that his experience over the last five years has proved that drone attacks, spy plane flights and special forces are ‘vital in keeping us safe’. But this is precisely the period which has seen the emergence of Isis and constant warnings from the government about the growing threat of terrorism.

The whole history of the ‘war on terror’ suggests in fact the precise opposite. From the attack on Afghanistan in 2001 to the invasion of Iraq two years later and the Cameron lead assault on Libya in 2011, the war has devastated the Middle East and beyond, creating a series of failed states in which violence has flourished.

Since 2001, jihadist organisations have been able to spread from isolated pockets in Central Asia to a vast swathe of the world from Pakistan through the Middle East and into sub-Saharan Africa.

Last time the British people were being asked to back attacks on Syria, it was to support an (illegal) attempt to remove President Assad. Though Cameron was stopped by popular and parliamentary pressure, continued Western intervention in Syria and the renewed bombing of Iraq have plunged the region further into chaos. Infrastructure, both political and physical, has been further pummelled.

The West’s main allies in the conflict, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, have been backing violent jihadist groups in Syria for years, including al-Qaida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra. The outcome has been a catastrophic unravelling of whole societies. In the words of Patrick Cockburn :

‘In both countries, the collapse of central government has exposed and sharpened differences between arab and kurd, Sunni and Shia, Muslim and Christian, secular and religious. And as Syrians and Iraqis live in a permanent state of war,, these differences are almost always settled violently’.

Now, our government wants to intervene on the opposite side, attacking one of the horrific forces that the West’s policies have helped conjure up. Forget the promises that bombing Iraq or Syria would not lead to further military involvement. Today’s open commitment to deploying special forces is not mission creep, its a brazen admission that Cameron wants to go back to full spectrum war in the Middle East.

The terrifying thing is that in this context, failure to learn the lessons of history will not just lead to repetition, but to a cycle of violence that threatens to consume whole regions of the world.

And this is a war abroad that will be accompanied by hysterical attack on the Muslim population at home. If the only foreign policy they can conceive of is escalating violence, domestically they can’t see beyond threats, intimidation and scapegoating.

In an utterly depraved move, the government have accompanied claims that unidentified Muslims who won’t condemn Isis are driving people into their hands with youtube footage showing the carnage created by British bomb attacks in Iraq. Apparently this is supposed to scare young Muslims from joining Isis. It is more likely to look like bringing the war home.

Worryingly, it looks like the Labour leadership is set to fall in with this march to war. The party’s acting leader, Harriet Harman, has been invited to a high-level security meeting on Isis on 14 July 2015. ‘Indications’ have been made that Labour is re-thinking its position on attacking Syria.

In 2013 anti war opinion and protest derailed Cameron’s war plans. Now, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership campaign takes on a new significance, but campaigning against a new front in Britain’s war in the Middle East has become a matter of urgency.

July 14, 2015 Posted by | Islamophobia, Militarism, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Lavrov Reminds US: European Missile Defense Needless as Iran Deal Reached

Sputnik – 14.07.2015

MOSCOW — Russia is expecting a reaction from the United States on comments that the agreement with Iran should resolve concerns about the European missile defense system, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday.

“I’ll note such a factor as broad context — we all remember when in April 2009 in Prague President [Barack] Obama said that if the Iranian nuclear issue was settled, there would be no need in creating an air defense system in Europe. That is why today we have drawn the attention of our US colleagues to this fact. We shall be waiting for the reaction.”

The historic agreement was reached in Vienna on Tuesday after over two weeks of strenuous talks following several years of intermittent negotiations. It will limit Iran’s nuclear work in exchange for the easing of international economic restrictions.

The agreement on the Iranian nuclear program between the P5+1 group and Tehran will have a positive effect on Moscow-Tehran relations without the interference of Brussels and Washington, Lavrov said.

“Our economic ties will, no doubt, receive a new impulse because there will be no more limitations that our Western partners have introduced through their unilateral illegitimate sanctions against Iran, and there will be no situation where US and EU attempts to implement unilateral sanctions hinder our companies in carrying out financial transactions and realizing other projects together with Iranian partners,” Lavrov said at a press conference in Vienna.

July 14, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Iran, 6 major powers reach nuclear deal

RT | July 14, 2015

Iran and six leading world powers have reached a conclusive deal on the Iranian nuclear industry, an Iranian diplomat said as quoted by Reuters.

“All the hard work has paid off and we sealed a deal. God bless our people,” the diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity. The breakthrough was confirmed by a European diplomat, who told TASS that it would be announced “soon. “It was difficult work. The arguing continued throughout the night. At times it was heated, with occasional shouting. But the result should be worth all of that,” a source in the German delegation told TASS.

The economic sanctions against Iran would be lifted immediately after verification of its compliance with the deal, reported RIA Novosti citing the draft agreement. The deal also provides for the lifting of economic sanctions imposed outside of the EU, like the banking and insurance restrictions on Iran by the EU and the US. The draft provides for the lifting of restrictions for the EU to import oil and gas from Iran, as well as exports of oil and gas production equipment to Iran.

It also said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), UN’s nuclear watchdog, has signed a separate agreement with Tehran on the military aspects of its nuclear activities. According to Reuters, the separate agreement focuses on the issue of the Parchin military site.

Iran and P5+1 group are to hold ministerial-level meetings at least twice a year to evaluate how the agreement is being implemented, according to the draft document, as cited by RIA Novosti.

Iran agreed to a 15-year moratorium on enriching uranium beyond 3.67 percent. The enrichment would be conducted only at the Natanz facility, while the Fordo facility would not conduct any enrichment activities or store fissile material, TASS reports. Iran also agreed to store no more than 300 kg of low-enriched uranium. The Arak reactor would not be used to produce plutonium under the deal. The spent fuel would be handled by international mediators.

Reuters leaked others details of the upcoming deal. The UN-imposed arms embargo against Iran is to remain in force for five years, while the restrictions on rocket technology exchange are to be kept for eight years it said, citing diplomatic sources.

The economic sanctions that are to be lifted could be restored within 65 days if Iran doesn’t comply with the terms of the deal, the source added.

The Vienna agreement is to be ratified by the UN Security Council and come into force 90 days later.

Foreign ministers of the seven negotiating nations are to meet at the UN center in Vienna at 08:30 GMT, followed by a media conference, a spokeswoman for the European Union said.

As soon as the deal is officially announced it will bring an end the 12-year dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program and related economic sanctions. Foreign ministers and officials from Iran, the United States, the UK, France, Germany, Russia and China have gathered in Vienna, twice postponing the deadline in the course of the past two weeks, in a bid to make a long-term deal on Iranian nuclear program.

The lengthy negotiations remained deadlocked due to a lack of confidence in the purpose of Tehran’s nuclear activities, which the country claims to remain solely peaceful. The Western countries had accused the country of seeking a way of creating its own nuclear weapons.

July 14, 2015 Posted by | Aletho News | | Leave a comment