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Petraeus recipe for battling ISIS: US-protected rebel enclaves in Syria, surge in Iraq

RT | September 22, 2015

To achieve victory in the Middle East, the US needs to establish and protect rebel enclaves in Syria, and launch another “surge” in Iraq, former CIA director and retired US Army general David Petraeus told a Senate panel.

This was the first public appearance for the retired general and former spymaster, following his April sentencing for revealing classified information to his mistress.

Describing Syria as a “geopolitical Chernobyl… spewing instability” all over the Middle East, Petraeus urged the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) to endorse a policy that would “stop the Syrian air force from flying” and establish safe areas where civilians and anti-government rebels could be protected by US airpower and advisers. Meanwhile, all the elements of the surge were once again required in Iraq, but this time around the Iraqis would have to provide the ground troops, he said.

Petraeus echoed the official position of the State Department that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad was to blame for the rise of Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS or ISIL), blaming the government’s “barrel bombs” rather than IS for most of the civilian deaths in Syria. The general pushed for the creation of US-backed protected areas where civilians and militia opposed to the government could shelter under the coalition air umbrella. Eventually, he said, US advisers could be deployed there as boots on the ground.

“This is a very complicated military activity, but it is doable,” Petraeus told lawmakers.

Petraeus resigned as director of the CIA in November 2012, following the revelations that he had shared classified information with his biographer – and lover – Paula Broadwell. As part of a plea bargain with the government, he was sentenced to two years’ probation and a $100,000 fine.

The ex-general began his testimony with an apology, calling what he did a “serious mistake” and a “violation of the trust placed in me.” The panel, chaired by Arizona Republican John McCain, repeatedly thanked Petraeus for his military service and commended him on the apology.

Without bringing up the Broadwell scandal at all, McCain praised Petraeus as a “distinguished” leader and argued his 2007 testimony was critical to securing Senate support for the ‘surge’ strategy that “defeated al-Qaeda in Iraq, brought security to the Iraqi people, and created the possibility for meaningful political reconciliation.”

Both Republicans and Democrats on the panel were eager to hear Petraeus’s prescriptions for salvaging the US war effort against Islamic State. A yearlong air campaign by the 60-nation coalition, at the cost of $4 billion, has not dislodged the self-proclaimed Caliphate, while the handful of US-trained Syrian fighters were ambushed and scattered by Al-Nusra Front, an Al-Qaeda affiliate.

Petraeus argued that the “train and equip” program was impossible to abandon, since the US strategy in the region absolutely depended on having a Sunni Arab fighting force. Asked whether there was anyone inside Syria actually available to train, he said that many moderate rebels “drifted” to Islamist groups like Al-Nusra, because they had resources and were fighting against the Assad government. Peeling off these low-ranking members could work, he said, just as it did in Iraq.

Arguing that working with the government in Damascus would damage US credibility among the Sunnis, Petraeus called for lawmakers to resist the Russian effort to “force” the US into an alliance with president Bashar al-Assad. If Russia really wanted to fight ISIS, it could have joined the US-led coalition and asked to be integrated into the air war, Petraeus said.

Russian president Vladimir Putin recently proposed a coordinated international effort against IS, but rebuffed speculation that Russian forces would engage in combat operations in Syria.

“We are providing Syria with quite strong support in terms of equipment, training of military servicemen and weapons,” Putin said. “We are considering various options, but so far what you are talking about is not on the agenda.”

Petraeus did caution against the rush to overthrow Assad, noting that Syria “could actually get worse” if there was no plan for the aftermath.

During Petraeus’s testimony before the SASC, it was reported that retired Marine General John Allen, head of the anti-IS coalition, would be stepping down in November. Sources within the Obama administration told Bloomberg that Allen made the decision out of concern for his wife’s poor health.

September 22, 2015 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ukraine and NATO sign agreements on strengthening defense and technical cooperation


RT | September 22, 2015

Ukraine and NATO “are more than partners,” Ukraine’s president said after a number of agreements were signed with the alliance during a visit by NATO’s Secretary General. Moscow criticized the move, saying NATO’s advance on Russia’s border is unwelcome.

“De jure, we are not a NATO member, but de facto we are more than partners. Ukraine is an eastern outpost of Euro-Atlantic civilization,” Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko wrote on his official Twitter account.

On Tuesday, Poroshenko announced that Ukraine and NATO had signed a joint declaration on strengthening defense and technical cooperation, as well as a roadmap for a partnership between Ukraine and NATO on strategic communications. The program is aimed at supporting Kiev in counteracting “Russian propaganda” and informing the society on what’s happening in Ukraine, Interfax reported.

The North-Atlantic alliance is also ready to discuss how it can boost Kiev’s military, particularly by potentially providing aid in restoring its naval forces, RIA Novosti reported, citing NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. The NATO official also said that the Alliance is providing advisors to Ukraine’s defense ministry and army general staff, according to TASS.

Having chosen its “path in to the EU and NATO,” Ukraine is ready to reform its military and law enforcement forces, the Secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, Aleksandr Turchinov, said after his meeting with NATO’s Secretary General. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, Pavel Klimkin, announced that he and Stoltenberg had signed a bilateral document on the creation of a NATO diplomatic mission in Ukraine. NATO’s two existing offices in Ukraine have been united, and their functions and powers extended.

Partnership with NATO will also provide Kiev with the opportunity to get essential weapons, Poroshenko said on Tuesday.

“We are now exchanging information. We are partners, and it gives us an opportunity to receive protective weapons – not offensive, but defensive weapons, such as drones and electronic equipment,” the Ukrainian leader said at a joint briefing with Stoltenberg.

The Kremlin has warned that NATO’s further advance towards Russia’s borders will entail counter measures.

“We must not forget that NATO is an organization that has been created during the time of confrontation and for confrontation, that’s why it cannot change its nature,” the Russian president’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters in Moscow, as cited by Sputnik.

“That is why any advancement by such an organization toward our borders will force us to take adequate counter-measures to safeguard own security, our national security,” Peskov said.

He added that Moscow regrets Kiev’s plans to pursue NATO membership.

When addressing Stoltenberg on Tuesday, Poroshenko claimed that more than 60 percent of Ukrainians support the plans to join NATO, while two years ago only 16 percent supported the move. A day earlier, at another joint meeting, the Ukrainian leader stated that his country was not ready to become a NATO member, nor was the Alliance ready to accept it. Ukraine would need to change in order to achieve its goal of NATO membership, Poroshenko noted, while promising more reforms.

Petro Poroshenko signed a decree changing Ukraine’s non-aligned status last year, saying that his country would make the decision on whether to join NATO in the next five or six years. He promised to put the question up for a national referendum. NATO’s previous secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said the process of reaching the criteria required to become an alliance member could take Ukraine a long time. Countries with outstanding territorial disputes cannot become NATO members. However, Ukraine claims rights to Crimea, which became a part of Russia following a referendum on the peninsula in 2014.

September 22, 2015 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment

Where Will It End? More Israeli Murders

By Stephen Lendman | September 22, 2015

Israel intends imprisoning Palestinian youths and children up to 20 years for stone-throwing. Nonviolent protesters are brutally attacked. Soldiers routinely murder Palestinians unaccountably.

Police now may use live fire indiscriminately, justifying it by inventing pretexts. Settlers commit near-daily violence and/or vandalism with impunity. Investigations when conducted are whitewashed.

Zionist zealots responsible for immolating Dawabsha family members are free to kill again – even though Israeli authorities identified them. Arrests didn’t follow.

On Tuesday, a Palestinian youth named Dia’ Abdul-Halim died – or was he killed? Israeli government officials notoriously lie. So do police and military sources.

The IDF claims the youth was killed trying to throw a grenade, claiming it detonated first. Judge for yourself if true or false. How often do civilians die from grenade explosions? Rare lightning strikes are more common. Palestinian medical sources said he was shot to death.

Soldiers prevented Palestinian Red Crescent medical workers from reaching the scene to help. What did they have to hide?

348452COn September 22, Israeli forces murdered Palestinian teenager Hadeel al-Hashlamon – shooting her three times in the chest, abdomen and lower body, claiming they foiled a stabbing attack.

Photos released proved otherwise. Soldiers confronted the unarmed woman belligerently, aiming their weapons at her. She turned to walk away and was murdered in cold blood.

An Israeli army spokeswoman lied, claiming “(t)he attacker attempted to stab a soldier.” Live fire aimed at her “lower extremists.” Soldiers shot to kill. None were harmed. No knife was found.

Palestinian PalMedia news agency video showed her left bleeding to death for around 30 minutes before help arrived. Soldiers and heavily armed settlers did nothing to save her.

She’s the 28th Palestinian murdered by Israeli security forces or settlers this year – unaccountably. No prosecutions followed.

Hadeel was taken to Shaare Zedek medical center too late to save her. These incidents happened after Israel mobilized hundreds of police reservists and extra numbers of soldiers in flashpoint areas.

A 2014 Amnesty International report called Israeli forces “trigger happy.” Excessive force is standard practice. Children are abused as violently as adults.

So are international solidarity activists and journalists. Anyone supporting long-suffering Palestinians is vulnerable.

In June through August 2014, over 1,000 West Bank Palestinians were arrested, nearly 600 injured, around two-thirds from live fire. During the same period, Israeli forces murdered 10 others.

Heavy security was deployed ahead of the Yom Kippur atonement period – beginning sundown on September 22, ending 24 hours later.

Vicious Israeli authorities have much to atone for – decades of brutality against defenseless Palestinians, accountability nowhere in sight, nor an end to occupation harshness.

Stephen Lendman can be reached at

His new book as editor and contributor is titledFlashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

September 22, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 3 Comments

How The NY Times Hides the Scandal of US-Israeli War Crimes

By Barbara Erickson | TimesWarp | September 21, 2015

The United States sends at least $3.1 billion in military aid grants to Israel every year, more than the amount given to all the rest of the world combined, and although Americans oppose this excess, their opinion has had no effect: Officials are now in talks to raise the yearly amount by as much as 50 percent.

If you missed that news in The New York Times, there is no reason for surprise. The issue has essentially remained out of sight, glossed over in a smattering of news stories, where readers find murky references to US aid and no enlightening details.

Thus we have a story by Jodi Rudoren this month, a look at how Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made a “pivot” after losing his battle against the nuclear agreement with Iran. Several paragraphs into this piece she writes, “Washington is expected to deliver a huge new military aid package to Israel… to appease Mr. Netanyahu and Democratic supporters of Israel who reluctantly backed the nuclear deal.”

This begs for explanation. How much is “huge”? Why is this “expected”? But nothing more is forthcoming.

Times readers have to look elsewhere for a fuller story. Other sources tell us that Israel has been asking for up to $4.5 billion a year in military aid and that talks have been going on “away from the spotlight.” Observers expect announcement of an aid agreement in November, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits Washington.

The Times did manage to work in the $4.5 billion price tag, in the last paragraph of a story that ran in July. The US has guaranteed Israel $31 billion in military aid grants over 10 years ending in 2017, and Israel now wants a new deal guaranteeing up to $45 billion over another 10 years. The article states that officials will frame the deal that finally emerges as an effort to bolster Israel’s defenses in the face of a resurgent Iran. Thus they will try to defuse the charge that the new deal is a way of “appeasing” Israel.

Since this story appeared, the Times has avoided the subject, except for Rudoren’s reference to a “huge” new package, and brief comments elsewhere about “compensation” for defying Israel on the Iran nuclear deal.

US aid to Israel is a subject that the Times would like to avoid. On many fronts it is difficult to defend and shines a harsh light on the actions of both the US and Israeli governments. For instance:

  • Congress has been willing to maintain and even increase military aid to Israel even as it cuts programs for education, food assistance and tax relief for working families in the United States.
  • Israel receives US aid even though it is one of the most economically advanced countries in the world.
  • US military aid makes up a full 20 percent of the Israeli military budget.
  • Israel, a small country, is so well supplied with arms that it is the tenth largest purveyor of weaponry in the world. In other words, Israel receives military aid from the US, and then makes money by selling arms to other nations.
  • US aid to Israel amounts to $10.2 million per day or $450 per year for each Israeli citizen.
  • Israel receives special perks that other aid recipients are denied, such as the right to use some of the funds to buy weapons from Israeli manufacturers instead of being required to purchase American products.
  • Israel spends more on military expenditures than any other country in the world, based on percentage of gross domestic product.
  • The annual U.S. military aid package for Palestine is $0.00.
  • In addition to the $3.1 billion in direct military aid guaranteed each year, Israel receives other gifts, such as economic grants and immigration assistance, raising the total aid well beyond the stated amount. (Vice President Joe Biden recently cited $7.18 billion for a one-year package.)
  • Sixty percent of Americans polled in a survey said the United States “gives too much aid to Israel.”

In addition, human rights organizations and other observers have raised ethical concerns over supplying arms to Israel in view of its deadly attacks on civilians in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Last year, during the assaults on Gaza that left some 2,200 Palestinians dead, Amnesty International called on the United States to stop transferring arms to Israel, citing “growing evidence of war crimes.” In June of this year, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) asked the State Department to review the legality of military aid to Israel in light of evidence that security forces abuse child prisoners and have killed nonviolent demonstrators.

This past week a coalition of 10 organizations—American Muslims for Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace, Code Pink, Defense for Children International and others—sent out a petition asking President Obama to stop supplying Israel with arms. In particular the petition targets the 50 percent increase in direct aid from $3.1 to $4.5 billion now under consideration.

Within days, by Sept. 21, the petition had reached its goal of 50,000 signatures and reset its sights on 60,000.

The Times, however, has had nothing to say about these protests, although they have been reported elsewhere. Rep. McCollum’s letter, which garnered the signatures of 18 additional members of Congress, was featured in US and Israeli media but found no mention in the Times.

The subject of military aid to Israel demands a fuller treatment in the Times. Readers should know the actual cost to U.S. taxpayers; they should be told of ethical concerns raised by organizations and officials; they are entitled to know more about the lethal effects of Israel’s weaponry; they should find Times analysts willing to discuss the contrast between congressional largess for Israel and the efforts to cut domestic programs.

It is not too much to say that US military aid to Israel is scandalous in light of the devastating effects it has had on innocent Palestinians and also on Americans deprived of basic needs. The failure of the Times to address the issue also amounts to scandal, making it fully complicit in this sordid affair.

September 22, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Brazil president rejects settler leader as Israel envoy

Press TV – September 21, 2015

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has reportedly rejected the appointment of a hardliner as Israel’s envoy to her country, saying it could be understood as support for the illegal Israeli settlements.

According to an article published on Israeli website Ynetnews, Rousseff has sent a message to the Tel Aviv regime, expressing her discomfort with the appointment of Dani Dayan, an extremist in charge of running the affairs of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The rejection has been part of some covert communications between Brazil and Israel with Rio de Janeiro warning the Tel Aviv regime that it should not go ahead with Dayan’s nomination to the job or mutual relations could seriously be endangered.

Various organizations and individuals have been pressuring Rousseff to reject Dayan due to his background in opposing the rights of Palestinians and his contribution to the illegal settlements in the Occupied West Bank. A petition in August called the appointment “a violation of the international legitimacy and sovereignty of Brazil.”

From 2007 to 2013, Dayan was the chairman of the Yesha Council, the umbrella organization of settlement councils in the Occupied West Bank. He is also a renowned opponent of the so-called two-state solution.

A group of activists submitted a request to the Brazilian government on Monday, demanding the rejection of Dayan as Israel’s ambassador. According to Israeli daily Haaretz, the activists met with Brazilian envoys to the occupied territories as well as Brazil’s envoy to the Occupied West Bank and reiterated that accepting the appointee would help legitimize the settlement enterprise.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Dayan’s appointment three weeks ago. Based on diplomatic protocols, once Dayan’s appointment is officially confirmed by Israel, the Brazilian government will be sent a request to endorse the decision.

It is rare for a host country to reject a foreign envoy but if Netanyahu decides to insist on his choice, he could face a formal rejection. Israel has always sought better relations with Brazil as one of the most prosperous economic countries in the world and a major power in South America.

September 22, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 1 Comment

Palestinian teen shot in Hebron by Israeli forces dies from injuries

A photo of the incident shows an Israeli soldier aiming at the woman. (Youth Against Settlements)
Ma’an – September 22, 2015

BETHLEHEM – A Palestinian teenager shot by Israeli forces at a checkpoint in Hebron died from her injuries on Tuesday, Israeli medical sources said.

The teenager, identified as 18-year-old Hadeel al-Hashlamon, was shot three times by Israeli soldiers after allegedly attempting to carry out a stabbing attack, Israel’s army said.

A spokesperson for the Shaare Zedek Medical Center where she was taken for treatment said the teenager was “terribly injured, and underwent surgery upon her arrival.”

She later died from her injuries, the spokesperson confirmed.

No Israeli soldiers were injured during the incident, and the Israeli army did not release photographs of a knife, as they have done on several other recent occasions.

The army spokeswoman said that the attack had been “thwarted.”

A local activist group Youth Against Settlements later released what it said were photos of the incident, appearing to show Israeli soldiers aiming their weapons at the woman, as first she faced them and afterward turned away from them.

Another photo appeared to show the woman slumped on the street, after she was shot and wounded.

Video footage from Palestinian news agency PalMedia showed al-Hashlamon left bleeding on the pavement, reportedly for up to 30 minutes before she received treatment.

The footage shows the woman being dragged out of camera frame, while soldiers and heavily armed settlers look on.

Al-Hashlamon’s death marks at least 25 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces since the start of 2015, according to UN documentation, not including Palestinian deaths caused by Israeli settlers.


Al-Hashlamon’s father, the head of the Anesthesia Department of the Al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron, and its former General Director, Dr. Salaheddin Hashlamoun, said his daughter is a first-year student at the Hebron University.

September 22, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel gives Jewish names to Arab streets in Jerusalem

MEMO | September 21, 2015

Israel yesterday approved giving Jewish names from the Torah to Palestinian streets in an attempt to give a Jewish appearance to the holy city, Arabs48 reported.

The municipality changed the name of Jabal Al-Zaytoun, the highest mountain in Jerusalem which overlooks Al-Aqsa Mosque, giving it a name from the Torah Har Ha-mishchah.

In addition, the municipality gave a biblical name to the main street in Silwan; Shir Hamalot. An indication of the changes to come at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Arabs48 said that the Israeli municipality did not announce the names of the area that the street refers to, but it is clear that it is in the Al-Bustan neighbourhood, the closest neighbourhood to Al-Aqsa.

This measure contradicts international law, which objects to changing the names of occupied places. Subsequently, the Palestinian Authority filed a complaint at UNESCO and the ICC as the occupation has so far changed names of 300 streets and alleyways in Jerusalem.

It is widely believed that such actions are part of Israel’s endeavour to Judaise occupied Jerusalem.

September 22, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

No peace if US-led occupation of Afghanistan continues: Taliban leader

Press TV – September 22, 2015

The Taliban militant group has ruled out any peace deal with the Afghan government unless Kabul scraps its military deal with Washington and all US-led foreign troops leave the war-torn Asian country.

“If the Kabul administration wants to end the war and establish peace in the country, it is possible through ending the occupation,” Taliban’s new leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour said in a message published on the group’s website on Tuesday.

In order for peace to come about, Kabul also has to revoke “all military and security treaties with the invaders,” he added.

Last year, the Upper House of Afghanistan’s parliament ratified the controversial Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with Washington, according to which about 10,000 American troops would stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014, when the US-led combat mission ended.

The house also approved the NATO Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which likewise empowered the US-led military alliance to keep troops in the war-torn nation in the next year.

This is while former Afghan President Hamid Karzai had refused to sign the BSA.

Further in his message, the Taliban leader called for an “intra-Afghan” solution to the problems in the Asian country, saying the chaotic situation can come to end “if the country is not under occupation.”

“Any foreign pressure under the pretext of resolving the Afghan problem is not going to resolve the problem but will rather create other problems,” he added.

The Taliban ruled the country between 1996 and 2001 under former leader Mullah Omar, whose death was confirmed by the militant group in July.

Mansour’s rise to power has reportedly prompted a power struggle within the group, with some top leaders refusing to pledge allegiance to him, saying the process that led to his selection was rushed and biased.

In the Monday message, which appeared to be aimed at ending divisions within Taliban ranks, Mansour also said the creation of such rifts are a plot to prolong the presence of the US-led forces in the country.

In early July, representatives of Taliban and the Afghan government held a round of peace talks in the Pakistani city of Murree, north of the capital, Islamabad. The parties agreed to meet again. However, a second round planned for July 18 was canceled after the announcement of the former Taliban leader’s death.

Afghanistan continues to struggle with insecurity and continuing militancy by Taliban years after US-led foreign troops invaded the country in 2001 as part of what Washington the so-called “war on terror, which removed the militant group from power.

At least 13,500 foreign forces remain in Afghanistan despite the end of the US-led combat mission. … Full article

September 22, 2015 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , | Leave a comment

Foreign Policy by Intimidation

GOP Candidates Show How It’s Done

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • September 22, 2015

The media are anointing former Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Carly Fiorina as the winner of last Wednesday’s second Republican presidential-aspirant debate. They are saying that she was the best prepared and most convincing speaker, and, indeed, maybe she was. But what is being largely ignored is the actual content of the so-called debate, which was supposed to be focused on foreign policy. Presuming that all the potential candidates had been assiduously primed on the major issues by their advisers, what might have been informed opinion was instead pathetically ignorant and, more than that, dangerous.

Note for example what Fiorina had to say about her policy towards Russia: “Having met Vladimir Putin, I wouldn’t talk to him at all. We’ve talked way too much to him. What I would do, immediately, is begin rebuilding the Sixth Fleet, I would begin rebuilding the missile defense program in Poland. I would conduct regular, aggressive military exercises in the Baltic States. I’d probably send a few thousand more troops into Germany. Vladimir Putin would get the message.”

Yes, Carly would make sure that Putin would get the message that any possible cooperation with the United States would be a non-starter, even in places and situations where there might be common interests. Carly as president promises to take steps that directly threaten Russia on its own doorstep and would lead to a return to the Cold War. And possibly worse than that. Per Fiorina, it would also mean a new budget busting arms race to show how strong we are.

And Fiorina was not winging it alone. Senator Marco Rubio had a fantasy vision that saw him personally flying around the world directly confronting the bad guys. He pledged that “It [Air Force One] would also fly to China, not just to meet with our enemies, not just to meet with those adversaries of ours that are there, but also to meet with those that aspire to freedom and liberty within China. I would even invite them to my inauguration. We would also fly into Moscow and into Russia. And not just meet with the leaders of Russia, but also meet with those who aspire to freedom and liberty in Russia.”

How Rubio would obtain use of the presidential plane before his inauguration and arrange the logistics of flying into capitals of countries that he has labeled enemies to meet with dissidents was not quite clear. And the whole concept of cultivating opposition groups has a vaguely Democratic White House smell to it, a heavy dose of democracy promotion that leads to responsibility to protect, regime change and nation building. I thought Republicans had gone off the boil on that kind of stuff, but Rubio just might be getting bad advice from his posse of neocon advisers which includes Robert Kagan, Eric Edelman and Elliott Abrams.

But the evening’s biggest brouhaha concerned someone who was not even on the stage, GOP gadfly Ann Coulter, who responded to references to Israel by tweeting to her 600,000 fans “How many (expletive) Jews do these people think there are in the United States?” Coulter may have had a point in that American Jews are a small minority of the population who vote heavily Democratic in any event, but she would have been much more accurate if she had stated “Jew” rather than “Jews” as the comments by the potential candidates were really aimed at Sheldon Adelson, casino magnate of Law Vegas, who can literally pay for the entire GOP presidential campaign if he chooses to do so. For Adelson and his Democratic counterpart Haim Saban America’s presidential election is all about Israel.

Coulter understands that talking nice about Israel appeals to evangelical Christians, who many believe to be a sine qua non for any prospective GOP candidate who actually hopes to get nominated. But piqued by the Coulter outburst and out of curiosity I downloaded a transcript of the debate and went through it for any mention of Israel or Jews or even Benjamin Netanyahu. Contrary to Coulter’s assertion, Israel was only mentioned eleven times in the three hour debate and was not cited by Rand Paul, Ben Carson, Scott Walker or Donald Trump. Jews were not discussed at all and Netanyahu only named once, by Fiorina.

But the infrequency of the commentary on Israel should not be interpreted as a suggestion that the discussion of politics as related to the Middle East was any less Israel-centric or even somehow restrained or rational. Indeed, the potential candidates demonstrated an inability to connect with reality and scrupulously avoided basing U.S. policies overseas on actual interests and available resources.

This is Carly Fiorina’s plan for the Middle East and for pressuring reluctant allies in her own words: “You have not heard a plan about Iran from any politician up here, here is my plan. On day one in the Oval Office, I will make two phone calls, the first to my good friend to Bibi Netanyahu to reassure him we will stand with the state of Israel. The second, to the supreme leader, to tell him that unless and until he opens every military and every nuclear facility to real anytime, anywhere inspections by our people, not his, we, the United States of America, will make it as difficult as possible and move money around the global financial system. We can do that, we don’t need anyone’s cooperation to do it. And every ally and every adversary we have in this world will know that the United States in America is back in the leadership business, which is how we must stand with our allies.”

Fiorina does not seem to be aware that by giving her “good friend” Benjamin Netanyahu the ability to draw the United States into a war that he chooses to start she is outsourcing our sovereignty. But perhaps that doesn’t bother her just as she doesn’t seem concerned that baiting Iran will pit the U.S. against the entire world, to include nearly all of America’s allies.

Jeb Bush also focused on the centrality of Israel to contain Iran as part of his foreign policy vision, stating that “the first thing that we need to do is to establish our commitment to Israel which has been altered by this administration. And, make sure that they have the most sophisticated weapons to send a signal to Iran that we have Israel’s back. If we do that, it’s going to create a healthier deterrent effect than anything else I can think of.”

No Jeb, it will do the opposite. It will force Iran to actually develop a nuclear weapon to defend itself. And going far beyond Bush, Mike Huckabee presented a broader nightmarish and largely fantasized view of a clash of civilizations, stating “This is really about the survival of Western civilization. This is not just a little conflict with a Middle Eastern country that we’ve just now given over $100 billion to, the equivalent in U.S. terms is $5 trillion. This threatens Israel immediately, this threatens the entire Middle East, but it threatens the United States of America. And we can’t treat a nuclear Iranian government as if it is just some government that would like to have power. This is a government for 36 years has killed Americans, they kidnapped Americans, they have maimed Americans. They have sponsored terrorist groups, Hamas and Hezbollah, and they threaten the very essence of Western civilization. At the end of my presidency I would like to believe that the world would be a safe place, and there wouldn’t be the threats. Not only to the U.S., but to Israel and our allies, because we would have the most incredible well-trained, well-equipped, well- prepared military in the history of mankind. And they would know that the commander-in-chief would never send them to a mission without all the resources necessary, but people wouldn’t bully us anymore. Because they would know that that would be an invitation to their destruction.”

Huckabee, a former Baptist preacher, presumably would “destroy” bullies just as he destroyed English grammar in his statement. One might observe that if ending international bullying were even vaguely his objective he would start with Washington, which has been abusing the rest of the world since 9/11.

Huckabee’s fellow evangelical Senator Ted Cruz also had something to say, clearly on board with reordering the world in a more muscular Christian fashion, saying “… I also want to respond to several folks up here who said we should trust this Iranian deal, see if the Iranians will comply. Anyone who is paying attention to what Khamenei says knows that they will not comply. There is a reason Khamenei refers to Israel as the little Satan, and America as the great Satan. If I’m elected president our friends and allies across the globe will know that we stand with them. The bust of Winston Churchill will be back in the Oval Office, and the American embassy in Israel will be in Jerusalem.”

Normally semi-rational John Kasich came across as the moderate in the Iran discussion by virtue of not calling for immediate bombs away, stating “Secondly, nobody’s trusting Iran. They violate the deal, we put on the sanctions, and we have the high moral ground to talk to our allies in Europe to get them to go with us. If they don’t go with us, we slap the sanctions on anyway. If they fund these radical groups that threaten Israel and all of the West, then we should rip up the deal and put the sanctions back on.”

Senator Marco Rubio piled on with another complaint, “We are eviscerating our military. And we have a president that is more respectful to the ayatollah in Iran than he is to the prime minister of Israel.” And expanding on his plan to fly around and spread good will to our friends while confounding our enemies the peripatetic presidential wannabe added that “If I’m honored with the opportunity to be president, I hope that our Air Force One will fly, first and foremost, to our allies; in Israel, in South Korea, and Japan. They know we stand with them. That America can be counted on.”

Finally, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who was clearly out of his depth even though the discussion was not exactly cerebral, iced the cake by concluding the foreign policy debate with “And I will tell you this, around the world, I will not shake hands with, I will not meet with, and I will not agree to anything with a country that says death to us and death to Israel and holds our hostages while we sign agreements with them. It will be an America that be strong and resolute, and will once again be able to stick out its chest and say, ‘we truly are the greatest nation in the world, because we live our lives that way, each and every day.’”

Christie’s rant was a fitting conclusion for the evening, underlining the essential Republican foreign policy message, which is that basically, as the esteemed George W. Bush put it, “you are either with us or against us.” We don’t have to talk to foreign leaders we don’t like and if they persist in the error of their ways we send in the cruise missiles. Only Senator Rand Paul and John Kasich indicated clearly that they would hesitate before the bombs start to drop.

GOP-think also has an underlying racist tone to it, with the presumption that those not quite Caucasian foreign people are not really like us, don’t think like us and can be shot or droned on sight when they fail to heed our advice. It’s not about Israel per se or about anything that would make sense to any disinterested observer. It is all about having a “security zone” that is global in reach and preempts the rights of anyone else. It is coupled with superpower hubris driven by an “exceptionalism”-derived unwillingness to treat people who are not Americans with any respect or consideration. Washington reflexively turns potential friends into enemies at every opportunity and perseveres in a foreign policy based on a whole basket of false premises that has been disastrous vis-à-vis any actual United States interests. Unfortunately for the American people the likely alternative to all this blatant and dangerous nonsense is Hillary.

September 22, 2015 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Who Fact-Checks The Fact-Checkers?: PolitiFact and Ted Cruz Both Get the Iran Deal Wrong

By Nima Shirazi | Wide Asleep In America | September 18, 2015

Presidential candidate Ted Cruz and the Tampa Bay Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking website PolitiFact were at each others’ throats last week over recent comments Cruz has made about the nuclear deal – officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – reached this past July between Iran and six world powers.

The main reason for the spat is simple: Ted Cruz lies a lot.

In response to a particularly blustery claim made by the Texas Senator at a rally opposing the nuclear accord, which restricts Iran’s nuclear energy and uranium enrichment programs – reaffirming their purely peaceful nature – in exchange for a lifting of international sanctions, PolitiFact decided to investigate whether Cruz was telling the truth. (Spoiler: he wasn’t, and rarely does.)

At the rally, and afterward on Twitter, Cruz declared that the JCPOA “will facilitate and accelerate the nation of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.” Even for a demagogic blowhard like Cruz, this is a ridiculous thing to say. Beyond the fact that we’ve heard for over three decades that the advent of an Iranian nuke is just around the corner – only a few years, maybe two years, a year and half, 12 months, six weeks away! – and these estimates have never been based upon credible evidence, the enhanced monitoring and inspections implemented under the new deal effectively prevent any possible Iranian move toward weaponizing its program for at least a decade, probably far longer. And that’s if Iran does the thing it’s never ever done: decide to build a nuclear weapon at exactly the time when its program is under the most intensive scrutiny of any nation’s program in history. The claim is absurd on its face.

Needless to say, it wasn’t too difficult for PolitiFact to judge this statement false.

But PolitiFact’s own understanding of the parameters of the Iran deal itself was surprisingly rife with errors, something that absolutely shouldn’t happen in a fact-checking article. The details, relayed by the website’s editors Louis Jacobson and W. Gardner Selby, were rendered this way:

Specifically, the deal requires Iran to give up 97 percent of its stockpile of highly enriched uranium, the kind needed to make nuclear weapons, as well as most of the centrifuges it can use to enrich uranium. In addition, Iran agrees to only enrich uranium to a level unsuitable for weapons for 15 years, and to cease production of plutonium, the other element that can be used to build a bomb. Known nuclear sites would be monitored for 15 years to confirm compliance, and inspectors would have the ability to enter undeclared sites suspected of nuclear use, though with possible delays of up to 24 days.

PolitiFact gets a bunch wrong here.

“Highly enriched uranium”

First, the deal does not require “Iran to give up 97 percent of its stockpile of highly enriched uranium, the kind needed to make nuclear weapons.” Why not? Because Iran doesn’t have any highly enriched uranium to give up.

This is a common mistake made by commentators, politicians, journalists, and pundits who should all know better. The fact is Iran has never enriched uranium above 19.75 percent U-235, which is defined by the IAEA itself as “low enriched uranium.” This is quite uncontroversial – no one, from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to the U.S. intelligence community to the Israeli Mossad to non-proliferation experts, have ever claimed that Iran has produced a stockpile of highly enriched uranium (HEU). Iran has only ever produced low enriched uranium (LEU) – to levels of under 5 percent and under 20% – useful only as reactor fuel or medical isotopes, respectively, not bombs (which require enrichment levels of over 90 percent).

Furthermore, the IAEA has confirmed that, “since 20 January 2014, Iran has not produced UF6 enriched above 5% U-235 and all of its stock of UF6 enriched up to 20% U-235 has been further processed through downblending or conversion.” Additionally, as the agency has long confirmed, “All of the enrichment related activities at Iran’s declared facilities are under Agency safeguards, and all of the nuclear material, installed cascades, and feed and withdrawal stations at those facilities are subject to Agency containment and surveillance.”

What the JCPOA actually does, in this regard, is limit Iranian enrichment of uranium to no more than 3.67 percent U-235 LEU and, as the Arms Control Association notes, eliminates roughly 97 percent of Iran’s current LEU stockpile, capping it at a mere 300kg for 15 years.

“Production of plutonium”

PolitiFact also erroneously claims that, under the deal, Iran must “cease production of plutonium,” which makes no sense considering Iran has never produced plutonium. As I noted earlier this month, “Before it can be stockpiled, plutonium must first be extracted and reprocessed from the spent uranium fuel of an operational nuclear reactor. Iran has never done this and doesn’t even have a reprocessing plant. Iran has literally never extracted plutonium from a reactor core, let alone stockpiled it…”

In short, Iran can’t “cease” doing something it’s not – and never has been – doing.


PolitiFact’s explanation of inspection parameters under the JCPOA is also disingenuous. By claiming that Iran’s “[k]nown nuclear sites would be monitored for 15 years to confirm compliance,” PolitiFact is implying that Iran’s nuclear infrastructure is not already under safeguards and constant monitoring, which it is – and has been for years, if not decades. Iran’s nuclear facilities have long been subject to the most intrusive and consistent inspection regime in the world.

The deal only strengthens this regime, allowing constant and immediate access to all declared nuclear sites and also to non-nuclear sites like centrifuge assembly workshops, centrifuge rotor production workshops and storage facilities, and uranium mines and mills, which, as nonproliferation expert Jeffrey Lewis has pointed out, “are not safeguarded anywhere else in the world.” This enhanced and unique access will last, in many cases, as long as 20-25 years.

PolitiFact’s language also suggests inspections of nuclear sites will cease after a decade and a half. This is totally wrong. In fact, all of Iran’s declared nuclear sites will remain under IAEA safeguards and surveillance in perpetuity, as mandated by the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, to which Iran has been a party since its advent in 1968.

Even PolitiFact’s understanding of “possible delays of up to 24 days” is dubious, as this is the absolute maximum amount of time that access to a potentially suspect facility could be delayed through a process agreed to by all seven international parties (eight, if you include the European Union) to the JCPOA.

In truth, under the deal, the IAEA’s request to visit a suspect site “triggers a 24-day clock under which Iran and the IAEA have 14 days to come to an agreement on access. If not, the Joint Commission, created by the JCPOA, has seven days to make a determination on access, and if at least five of the eight members vote to allow the IAEA to investigate, Iran has three days to comply,” explains the Arms Control Association. At that point, the very first time this review protocol is tested to this extent, there’s a good chance the process of re-implementing sanctions on Iran would begin, rendering the tents of the JCPOA inoperable and signaling the imminent, if not immediate, collapse of the agreement altogether.

Who Fact-Checks the Fact-Checkers?

PolitiFact has rightly taken Ted Cruz to task for his false claims.

[In a petulant retort to being fact-checked, Cruz published even more lies in The National Review, declaring, among other things, that Iran cheated on a previous nuclear accord (it didn’t), that Iran is allowed “in certain circumstances” to “inspect itself, and report back on the ‘results’” (it’s not, not even close), and that the deal enables “Iran to finish their ongoing ICBM research and develop a missile that can carry a nuclear warhead across the Atlantic to America” (which is, simply, asinine).]

But in its own explanation of the Iran deal, PolitiFact repeats a number of baseless canards that have often been used by anti-diplomacy Iran hawks and deal-supporting liberal interventionists alike to mislead the public about the Iranian nuclear program and its capabilities.

For a “fact-checking journalism website aimed at bringing you the truth in politics,” PolitiFact should make sure to check itself before it, well, you know.

September 22, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

Who’s watching the watchdog?: Ofcom & the manufacture of consent

By Afshin Rattansi | RT | September 21, 2015

It will come as no surprise to anyone that a watchdog set up to hound mainstream UK broadcast media finds RT’s output difficult to deal with. Doubtless today’s Ofcom rulings will see other media outlets relishing RT being brought to heel.

But anyone who takes the trouble to look at the detail will see such outlets are on very flimsy ground.

Not only does Ofcom concede that RT has a mission to bring valuable diversity of perspective, the watchdog also makes clear that its musings on ‘Ukraine’s Refugees’ – one of the shows found to be in breach of the Code – are not the result of a complaint from any our many viewers. In fact, Ofcom took it upon itself to complain after “routine monitoring” of RT.

Personally, I am delighted that the program gave a voice to those caught in the violence that would otherwise have gone unheard and unmentioned by mainstream media, which has been steadfastly supporting the post-coup government in Kiev.

I’d also note that Ofcom’s attention is not always misdirected. Does anyone remember what they came out with before the incumbent, Sharon White, took the reins? A four-year inquiry by Ofcom, the results of which recently became public, uncovered nearly 50 breaches of statutory regulation by mainstream channels the BBC, CNN and CNBC. Thanks to Ofcom we know that these outlets had been screening politically-lobbied content without informing viewers.

As usual, there is a background to today’s stories that you may find goes unreported elsewhere.

Dodgy editorial procedures from the BBC, CNN and CNBC aren’t as good a story as RT being ‘guilty’. Mainstream transgressions are forgotten as soon as they are revealed. The Independent, which so brazenly referred to the BBC’s Code-breaching content as “propaganda” in a headline in mid-August, had already blissfully moved on when reporting on the Corporation’s plan to expand its foreign broadcasting barely a fortnight later.

Does anyone seriously think that big UK broadcasters adequately report on those opposing mainstream political opinion? That’s why so many BBC journalists were taken aback when UKIP and Jeremy Corbyn appeared on the scene.

The BBC wouldn’t even allow charities to ask for money to save those in Gaza because of pressure from those against the Palestinian side in the conflict that rages on in the Middle East. Alex Salmond, former leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), told us on Saturday’s edition of RT’s Going Underground that he was appalled by the anti-independence bias of the BBC in the run-up to the Scottish Independence Referendum. He branded the BBC “a disgrace to public broadcasting.”

Needless to say, the mainstream Scotsman newspaper duly ran a report that he shouldn’t be criticizing the BBC on RT – as if RT, the internet’s favorite television news station, should be boycotted as part of a UK mainstream McCarthyite witch hunt against the channel.

Meanwhile Corbyn, who had just won Labour’s leadership in a landslide, was summarily branded by the UK press as the Kremlin’s “useful idiot” for criticizing Western interventionist policy on RT – in an interview in which he mentioned Russia not once.

And while we’re about it, why are the so-called liberal radio, print and internet media so keen to promote the highly-contentious adjudications of Ofcom against RT? They don’t call for the BBC to be shut down because it runs fraudulent competitions as part of Comic Relief, Sport Relief and Children in Need? Again, Ofcom did good work on this, investigating shady behavior. The regulator revealed “the BBC deceived its audience by faking winners of competitions and deliberately conducting competitions unfairly.”

License-Fee payers were duly ordered to stump up hundreds of thousands of pounds for BBC failures. Thanks to Ofcom, the whole thing ended up costing mainstream channels more than £11 million (now US$17 million) in 2008.

But when it comes to political controversies where the UK government is following US State Department policy, things are a little different. There are almost too many mainstream UK TV reports to choose from when it comes to proving the double standards of Ofcom over the politically-contentious issue of Ukraine. […]

You can see just how “impartial” their coverage of Ukraine is here and here.

The fact is that Ukraine was destabilized by the West – we know this because Victoria Nuland, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs at the State Department said so:

But that side of the story was absent from scores of mainstream broadcasts which it seems Ofcom decided not to watch or ‘monitor’.

Ukraine, though, is not the only tragedy we should be focusing on.

The Syrian refugee crisis was caused by destabilization of the Middle East by Western powers. Do you see reporters telling you that side of the story when they file reports on refugees? Could it be that without this context, mainstream journalists are, yet again, softening up public opinion for war? Today, establishment media is no longer reporting on WHY there are refugees – merely that there ARE refugees.

There is a terrible irony here as they skirt standards of impartiality. Broadcasters are, in effect, using the tragedy of dead children washing up on beaches to prepare the public to support a war that will lead to more dead children washing up on beaches.

If Britain and the US deploy their troops to depose President Assad of Syria it will be a part of a broader interventionist strategy. That’s why reporting needs to be accurate and more balanced on Syria and Ukraine – so that Americans and Brits can decide for themselves on the evidence whether military action is warranted. RT will show both sides of the argument, but – more importantly – give you the other side of the story, the one you’d be hard-pressed to get from the British or American MSM. Then you can make up your own mind.

One of the world’s greatest journalists, John Pilger, expressed his fear on RT’s Going Underground that the embrace of elites and media on the issue of Ukraine is pushing the world towards nuclear war.

It is a concern shared by the ‘Bulletin of Atomic Scientists’ which moved their Doomsday clock closer to midnight as Obama officials engineered the coup d’état in Ukraine.

What’s needed now is an urgent conference involving journalists, unions and NGOs to fight censorship in Britain. It must not involve compromised NGOs such as Index on Censorship, the Committee to Protect Journalists etc., who have proved time and time again to be one-sided about censorship. It should implore Ofcom to uphold the principle that news, in whatever form, must be reported with due accuracy and presented with due fairness to all positions, not just the ones belonging to the foreign policy establishment.

On a personal level, I almost empathize with Ofcom’s position. It is understandable that, fed on a constant diet of mainstream UK media, they might find it hard to digest RT. I hope, in time, they will join the hundreds of millions around the world who tune in to watch RT on TV, YouTube and online in appreciating journalism that gives a place to those who are, too often, robbed of a voice.

September 22, 2015 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment

‘I’m a Trade Unionist, Not a Terrorist’: UK in Workers’ Union Spying Row

Sputnik – 22.09.2015

The British government, along with large multinational corporations, are trying to wash away the rights of workers and create a culture of fear among the country’s workforce through a series of systematic spying and blacklisting campaigns, a former blacklisted worker has told Sputnik.

As the government tries to usher through a new Trade Union Bill, described by critics as one of the most oppressive in the Western world, multinational corporations have been accused of taking part in extensive spying and intimidation tactics aimed at effectively locking vocal workers’ rights campaigners out of their professions.

The controversial bill has drawn the ire of trade unionists all over the country, with officials particularly angered by proposals which would require 50 percent of members to vote in favor of taking strike action for an event to be considered legal.

There are also fears that fines of up to £20,000 may be issued for unions whose members don’t wear identifying armbands during pickets.

Conservative business secretary Sajid Javid said the proposals would stop workers making “endless threats” at the expense of “hardworking people,” while union officials have seen it as an attack on trade unions and workers’ rights.

“The Tory government at the moment are trying to introduce the new Trade Union Bill, which even some Conservative MPs have said is the most restrictive legislation for trade unions in the whole of western Europe,” Dave Smith, former trade union representative and member of the Blacklist Support Group told Sputnik.

“The British government is never neutral when it comes to disputes between trade unions — it’s always on the side of big business.”

Some aspects of the Conservative’s bill even raised eyebrows with Tory MP David Davis saying some of the aspects resembled oppressive measures implemented by former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco.

“I agree with most of the Trade Union Bill. I think it’s very sensible… but there are bits of it which look OTT, like requiring pickets to give their names to the police force,” Davis told the Guardian.

“What is this? This isn’t Franco’s Britain, this is Queen Elizabeth II’s Britain.”

‘Spying and Blacklisting Still in Practice’

On top of the government proposals for trade unions, Dave Smith raised concerns over historical spying and intimidation tactics, which over the years has seen many trade union representatives placed on a blacklist, shared and used by multinational corporations to effectively lock some workers out of employment.

It was also revealed that undercover police units took part in spying and intelligence, gathering exercises on a number of unions and various members over the space of 40 years in order to identify leading figures in the movement and place them on employment blacklists.

While officially such practices are illegal, Dave Smith told Sputnik that he believes “there is no question about it whatsoever” that spying and blacklisting is still going on.

“They [large companies] were lying to everyone and lying to parliament for forty years, so why should we believe them now?”

Mr Smith, who is the co-author of the book, ‘Blacklisted: the Secret War between Big Business and Union Activists’, said he was first placed on a blacklist in the early nineties merely for campaigning over unpaid wage disputes and raising health and safety concerns in the construction industry.

“People got added to the list for doing fairly standard trade union activities — standing up for workers’ rights, standing up for unpaid wages, standing up for safety. That’s why I got on it,” Smith said.

“What they used to do, is as well as keeping files on you, every time you applied to work on a big building site, the big multinationals would check to see if your name was listed or not. And if you were on the black list you were just sacked or you weren’t offered a job.”

Despite being a qualified engineer, Smith said he was eventually forced to change professions to help pay his mortgage, because he couldn’t manage to find employment, even during the UK’s building boom of the late ’90s — early 2000s.

Blacklisting ‘Systematic’

He said the practice of placing some workers on an industry blacklist was endemic in Britain, and affected thousands of workers over the years — in some cases, ruining people’s lives.

“I’ve seen people whose blacklist files have got entries from the 1960s. This isn’t just one or two rogue managers having a quiet word with each other in a pub spreading a bit of gossip about you — this is systematic.”

“This is [a case of] directors of a multinational company keeping files on people and deliberately stopping people from getting work because of their trade union activities. I’m not a terrorist, I’m not a criminal — I’m a trade unionist. They’re deliberately stopping us because they don’t want trade union activists on their building sites.”

Mr Smith said that such practices, which he believes are to a degree still in operation today, created an environment of fear, where workers are now hesitant to stand up for their rights amid attacks from David Cameron’s Conservatives.

“The whole purpose was not only to victimize the activists but to discourage anyone else from standing up for their rights as well. It’s to scare everybody else and create that climate of fear.”

September 22, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment