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Putin’s best Q&A quotes from ‘Ankara sucking up to US’ to ‘Trump being absolute frontrunner’

RT | December 17, 2015

Never at loss for words, Putin was as straight-forward as ever at his annual Q&A session. Russian relations with Turkey, the Syrian and Ukrainian crises, as well as the US presidential race were the highlights of the 3-hour long marathon attended by 1,400 journalists.

When asked about third party interests contributing to the deterioration of Russia-Turkey relations, Putin wondered if Washington might have something to do with it.

“We don’t know that for sure, but if someone in the Turkish leadership wanted to suck up to the Americans, I’m not sure whether they did the right thing or not,” he said.

“First of all I don’t know whether the Americans need it or not, it’s possible there was a certain agreement on some level: ‘we down a Russian plane and you turn a blind eye,’ ‘we deploy our troops to Iraq and occupy a part of Iraq’.”

Russia won’t cease its military campaign in Syria because of the Su-24 downing, even if Ankara expected that, said Putin.

“[Ankara] thought we would flee [Syria]! No, Russia is not a country to act like that. We increased our presence in Syria; we increased the strength of our air forces. There were no anti-aircraft weapon systems there before – now there is the S-400,” he said.

Operating a full-fledged base in Syria is not on Russia’s agenda, Putin said.

“Why would we need a base over there? We can get them [if we have to],” Putin said, stressing that the temporary units of the Russian task force currently operating in Syria could be withdrawn within a couple of days.

Putin reiterated that, despite constant accusations, no regular Russian troops have been stationed in Ukraine.

“We never said there were no people fulfilling certain tasks there (in Donbass region of Ukraine), including in the military sphere. But that does not mean there are regular Russian troops. Feel the difference?” Putin said.

After the main part of the Q&A session was over, Putin was asked about his attitude towards Donald Trump.

“It’s not our business to define his accomplishments,” Putin said. “But he is the absolute leader of the presidential race [in the US]”.

“He is a bright, talented person, no doubt about that,” Putin added. Trump recently stated he would like to see the US strengthen ties with Russia. “We welcome that of course,” said Putin.

Earlier in the same Q&A session, Putin had said he was prepared to work with whoever turns out to be victorious in the 2016 US presidential election.

December 17, 2015 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 1 Comment

US Navy accused of covering up SEAL abuse of Afghan detainees

RT | December 17, 2015

Though several US soldiers accused a SEAL team of beating and waterboarding Afghan men detained after a checkpoint bombing, their commanding officer decided not to press charges. One of the Afghans died after the torment.

The incident took place in May of 2012 at a US outpost near the village of Kalach in southern Afghanistan’s Oruzgan province. Six SEALs, as well as four Army and four Navy personnel, were at the base, which was established to help train the Afghan Local Police (ALP), according to an investigation published on Thursday in the New York Times.

After their checkpoint was bombed on the morning of May 31, killing one officer, the ALP rounded up several suspects and marched them to the outpost for interrogation. At the end of the day, one of the detainees had died from his injuries. The soldiers on the base said that three of the SEALs were responsible.

Instead of putting a stop to the ALP abuse of the detainees, three enlisted members of the SEAL team joined in, witnesses said. They kicked prisoners, fired pistols next to their heads, dropped stones on them, and stepped on their heads, according to the testimonials given to the Navy’s criminal investigators (NCIS). The NCIS report, with all the names redacted, was obtained by the Times through a freedom-of-information request.

Some of the names were revealed in the Times report, however. Petty Officers First Class David Swarts and Daniel D’Ambrosio and Petty Officer Second Class Xavier Silva were named as the SEALs who took part in the abuse. Their officer, Lieutenant Junior Grade Jason Webb, was preoccupied elsewhere on the base.

Only Silva returned the Times’ requests for comment, saying only, “If you knew what it was like on the ground, it would look different.”

Staff Sergeant David Roschak reported the abuse on June 3, after the US forces had left the Kalach outpost for the provincial capital of Tirin Kot.

“My squad is being involved in a cover-up regarding the possible killing of detainees,” Roschak wrote.

Specialist David Walker, an Army medic who was one of the witnesses in the investigation, said the case was about right and wrong. “You can’t squint hard enough to make this gray,” the Times quoted Walker as saying in an interview.

In addition to other forms of abuse, Walker and another soldier testified that they had seen one SEAL pouring water on a detainee who was lying on his back in an improvised form of waterboarding torture.

At least three of the detainees were identified by name as well: Faisal Rehmat, Muhammad Hashem, and Assadullah – all itinerant scrap collectors in their mid-20s. After failing to beat any useful information out of the men, the SEALs released the prisoners. Hashem passed away that evening, complaining of crippling pain in his abdomen.

Before they were released, the SEALs took a photo of a bloodied Hashem with a Kalashnikov rifle placed across his chest, Assadullah said.

Despite the testimonies by the Army and Navy personnel on the base, Captain Robert E. Smith, who was in charge of the SEALs based on the East Coast at the time and currently serves as a military assistant to the secretary of the Navy, decided not to press formal charges.

Instead, he called up the members of Team 2 for an internal disciplinary hearing called a “captain’s mast” in November of 2012. They only faced charges for failing to report abuse by the Afghan militia, the Times reported. Smith dismissed those charges, giving the SEALs “letters of instruction” suggesting that they improve their “leadership and decision making” skills, according to the paper.

Smith explained that the testimonies of Army and Navy personnel who witnessed the incident were “inconsistent.” Prior to the hearing, Army witnesses were summoned for a videoconference with several senior SEALs who questioned them as to the exact details of events that had taken place months before, while pressuring them to change their testimonies.

“They were more concerned with the fact I couldn’t remember how many rounds were fired, instead of why they used a weapon at all while questioning the detainees,” Sergeant Roschak said.

Originally developed by the Army’s Special Forces, the Green Berets, the ALP program was supposed to be a mainstay of the US counter-insurgency strategy in Afghanistan. While the Green Berets at Kalach would address village elders with respect, have tea with them, and try persuasion rather than threats, the SEALs that replaced them were ill-suited for the civilian outreach mission, according to the Times.

The boisterous Navy operatives quickly got bored and frustrated with the mission and amused themselves by shooting at passing trucks, lobbing grenades over the walls of the base, threatening villagers working in the fields, and hitting children in the face with candy fired from slingshots. One SEAL even fired at a kitten that had crawled underneath a shed on the base, the Times reported.

According to the locals, however, the problem went deeper. Created by the Americans to fight the Taliban, the Afghan militia preferred to boss the civilians around – robbing merchants at gunpoint, ransacking homes and beating anyone who dared resist.

The ALP in Kalach “were like dogs, and the Americans were the masters,” said Hajji Ahmad Khan Muslim Gizabe, one of the local elders. “The masters would follow behind the dogs, telling them what to do.”

Though he initially supported President Hamid Karzai’s reforms, Gizabe told the Times he could no longer back the Americans after the 2012 incident.

December 17, 2015 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Putin signs decree suspending free trade treaty with Ukraine starting January 1, 2016

RT | December 16, 2015

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday signed a decree to suspend the free trade treaty with Ukraine, starting from January 1, 2016.

“Due to exceptional circumstances affecting the interests and economic security of the Russian Federation which require immediate measures, I order … from January 1, 2016 to suspend the Agreement on the free trade zone with Ukraine, which was signed in St. Petersburg on 18 October 2011,” said the decree.

Currently, Russia and Ukraine are trading in accordance with the free trade agreement between CIS countries. However, starting next year the economic part of Kiev’s Association Agreement with the EU comes into force making Ukraine part of the European trading bloc.

Last month, Russia’s Economic Development Minister Aleksey Ulyukaev said Moscow will impose a food embargo on Ukraine from January 1. According to him, the food ban is to be introduced to counteract Ukraine joining economic and financial sanctions against Russia.

The minister explained the measure aims to protect the Russian market from the illegal supply of embargoed European goods that will become available in Ukraine under the Association Agreement.

Moscow banned agricultural and other products from European countries that joined anti-Russian sanctions.

Ulyukaev also said the Kremlin plans to introduce customs tariffs on imports of other goods from Ukraine. The tariffs will be introduced because Ukraine will no longer be part of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) free trade zone and therefore should not enjoy membership benefits, according to the minister.

December 17, 2015 Posted by | Economics | , , | 1 Comment

Home of the brave? Law professor says freedom to read is too dangerous!

PrivacySOS | December 16, 2015

Live from slate.com : ISIS is so scary that we should think really hard about gutting the First Amendment.

In true Slate pitch form, the website has posted an anti-First Amendment screed by law professor Eric Posner, in which he argues that we should “[c]onsider a law that makes it a crime to access websites that glorify, express support for, or provide encouragement for ISIS or support recruitment by ISIS; to distribute links to those websites or videos, images, or text taken from those websites; or to encourage people to access such websites by supplying them with links or instructions.”

Such a law could exempt “journalists, academics, private security agencies, and the like,” Posner reassures us. The punishments for unlawfully accessing public information the government does not like would range from “a warning letter from the government” to fines and “prison sentences,” to escalate in severity with each commission of an ISIS-related thought crime.

Woefully, Posner writes, the pesky First Amendment interferes with such a plan. Courts have repeatedly held that the First protects our right to access “[s]peech that blasts the American constitutional system and praises America’s enemies.”

Ughhhhhhhhh.

So what to do about this obnoxious history of judicial rigidity when it comes to free speech and the freedom to read? Posner suggests we turn back the clock, to a time before the 1960s, when “people could be punished for engaging in dangerous speech.” Ah, the good old days.

Reminiscing, he cites the prosecution of World War One draft resisters, Nazi sympathizers during World War Two, and even Confederate sympathizers during the Civil War. But he forgot to mention that before the Supreme Court’s revolution on expanding speech rights, anti-speech laws were mostly used to crack down on domestic dissent that had nothing to do with support for any foreign “enemy.” 

The ACLU was founded in response to such attacks, primarily on union and worker speech:

In 1912, feminist Margaret Sanger was arrested for giving a lecture on birth control. Trade union meetings were banned and courts routinely granted injunctions prohibiting strikes and other labor protests. Violators were sentenced to prison. Peaceful protesters opposing US entry into World War I were jailed for expressing their opinions. In the early 1920s, many states outlawed the display of red or black flags, symbols of communism and anarchism. In 1923, author Upton Sinclair was arrested for trying to read the text of the First Amendment at a union rally. Many people were arrested merely for membership in groups regarded as “radical” by the government. It was in response to the excesses of this period that the ACLU was founded in 1920.

Imagine that. Laws passed to deal with a wartime enemy were used to crush domestic dissent and corral American popular opinion.

How could we make sure a law banning certain kinds of reading wouldn’t bleed out into criminalizing dissent, as similar anti-speech and censorship laws always have in US history? Posner suggests it’s easy: “A simple balancing test would permit laws to target dangerous speech that does not advance public debate.”

Right. Because determining what “does not advance public debate” is simple as pie, and not at all subject to wild fluctuation depending on who makes the determination. That’s totally not the kind of insane “balancing test” the First Amendment was designed to foreclose. … Full article

December 17, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment

Privacy advocates blast ‘surveillance bill in disguise’ after CISA tucked into spending deal

RT | December 17, 2015

Under the cover of a late-night session of Congress, House Speaker Paul Ryan announced a new version of the “omnibus” federal government funding bill that includes a version of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, outraging privacy advocates.

The new version combines three bills, two passed by the House, and one – the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) – that had already passed the Senate by a vote of 74 to 21.

A long-standing critic of government overreach in surveillance, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), who voted against the Senate bill, issued a statement on Wednesday stating that it was a “bad bill when it passed” and “worse bill today.”

“Americans deserve policies that protect both their security and their liberty. This bill fails on both counts,” said Wyden, adding that “cybersecurity experts say CISA will do little to prevent major hacks and privacy advocates know that this bill lacks real, meaningful privacy protections.”

Under the latest version, the bill creates the ability for the president to set up “portals” for agencies like the FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence so that companies can hand information about potential threats directly to law enforcement and intelligence agencies instead of the Department of Homeland Security. It allows for more data sharing between the public and private sector while shielding companies from liability.

It also changes the criteria for when information shared for cybersecurity reasons can be used in law enforcement investigations. Previously, the backchannel use of data could only occur in cases of “imminent threats,” while the new bill requires just a “specific threat.”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has strongly opposed cybersecurity bills over the past five years. In a statement, it said they did nothing to address the real problems the government faces, “like computer data breaches that are caused by unencrypted files, poor computer architecture, un-updated servers, and employees (or contractors) clicking malware links.”

Other advocacy groups, such as Fight for the Future, have previously referred to the bill as “a surveillance bill in disguise.”

The group’s campaign director, Evan Greer, called it “a disingenuous attempt to quietly expand the U.S. government’s surveillance programs.”

“Congress has failed the Internet once again,” she added, “now it’s up to President Obama to prove that his administration actually cares about the Internet. If he does he has no choice but to veto this blatant attack on Internet security, corporate accountability, and free speech.”

The bills were opposed not just by privacy advocates, but also civil society organizations, computer security experts, and many Silicon Valley companies. In April, a coalition of 55 civil groups and security experts signed an open letter opposing an earlier version of CISA.

The Department of Homeland Security itself warned in July that the bill could overwhelm the agency with data of “dubious value,” while at the same time “sweep[ing] away privacy protections.”

The EFF also said the CISA bill has no place in the federal budget package, a point shared by the Open Technology Institute (OTI).

“They’re kind of pulling a Patriot Act,” Robyn Greene, police counsel of OTI, told Wired. “They’ve got this bill that’s kicked around for years and had been too controversial to pass, so they’ve seen an opportunity to push it through without debate. And they’re taking that opportunity.”

December 17, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment

Lieberman launches campaign to oust Hanin Zoabi and the Joint Arab List from the Knesset

MEMO – December 17, 2015

Israeli Member of Knesset Avigdor Lieberman, who also heads the Yisrael Beiteinu Party, has launched a campaign to oust Arab MK Hanin Zoabi and the Joint Arab List from the Israeli parliament.

The campaign, which Lieberman began on his Facebook page yesterday, calls for “permanently” ousting Hanin Zoabi from the Knesset. “Together we can expel vandal supporters from the Knesset,” he said in a Facebook post.

In a video posted on his page, Lieberman called on the Israeli public to put pressure on MKs from the Likud, Jewish Home, Kulanu, Shas and United Torah Judaism parties to support the proposed campaign, which aims to expel Zoabi and the Joint List from the Knesset.

Lieberman mentions in the video that the Central Election Commission (CEC) previously banned Zoabi and her party Balad (a member of the Arab Joint List) from running but that the Supreme Court overturned the commission’s decision. As a result, Lieberman presented a bill seeking to remove the Supreme Court’s power of intervening in CEC’s decision of whether to approve or ban the participation of a candidate or a list in the Knesset’s elections.

Lieberman claims that the banning of Balad was in line with the law, which states that those who support terrorism and armed struggle against the state of Israel, or deny Israel’s existence as a Jewish state, cannot be in the parliament. “The party of traitor Azmi Bishara and his successor Hanin Zoabi is doing that openly, and it is time they were made to pay the price,” he added.

December 17, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 1 Comment

Eyewitnesses in San Bernardino: “Three Tall White Men”

By Gary North | Lew Rockwell | December 16, 2015

The CBS Evening News ran this interview.

This has been dropped down the memory hole.

So has this.

Note: he spoke of a black SUV. Note also that he got verbal confirmation from off-camera. This indicates that there were other eyewitnesses.

The only eyewitness identifications that I can find speak of three white men.

I looked at several published timelines of the shootings. You can, too. Search for “timeline,” “Farook,” “San Bernardino.” No victim identified the two suspects immediately after the shootings, which had ended by the time the police and firefighters arrived at 11:05 a.m. The police had no clues regarding Farook and his wife. The two were shot in a firefight at 3 p.m. They were in a black SUV . . . four hours after the attack.

Four hours. What were they doing during this time? Where were they?

The New York Daily News reported this: “The suspects had escaped the blood-spattered murder scene without swapping a single gunshot with the horde of law enforcement descending on the center, a social services facility for people with developmental disabilities.”

The SUV was spotted four hours later, two miles from the crime scene. How did the police find this SUV? The Daily News says only this: “a tip.”

Think about this. Two people shoot 35 people, and escape unnoticed the police. They then disappear for four hours. Then “a tip” informs the police of their whereabouts: two miles away from the crime scene.

Here is what the London Daily Mail reported.

As the police close in on the vehicle, which is traveling surprisingly slowly, it is not clear whether the gunshots heard are being fired by cops or by the suspects.

‘They’re killing that guy,’ the man taking the video shouts as he ducks for cover.

Just moments later, after the recording ended, police stopped the SUV and killed the two suspected shooters in a gun battle that left an officer injured.

Note: the report does not say that a policeman was shot, only injured.

Watch this video. There is an introduction by a reporter, then the video. As the SUV drives slowly down the street, the driver is turning the headlights off and on. Why? There is no shooting at this point. The SUV passes by. Then the shooting starts.

The post-shootout photo of the SUV shows the windshield riddled with bullet holes. These bullet holes came from in front of the SUV. The media report says this: they fired 76 rounds, while police fired 380.

Who did the counting? When? Who verified this?

How did they shoot at police from inside the SUV? For how long? How long would it take to fire 76 rounds with semi-automatics? This time includes replacing empty clips. We are supposed to believe that it took 380 rounds to kill them. If so, these are not sharpshooters.

The two are dead. So, there is no legal liability for naming them the killers. There is no “alleged” visible in the media. This ends all discussion. Of course they acted alone. Everyone knows this.

“What are you, a conspiracy theorist?” Yes, I am. We conspiracy theorists — revisionist historians — have a highly developed sense of smell, developed over years of sniffing around. We know when official accounts do not pass the smell test. This story does not pass it.

Here is what I have been waiting for: a forensics report that identifies some of the estimated 100 spent bullets at the massacre with at least one of the rifles recovered in the SUV. I have searched the Web for this report. I have not found it. Is this too much to ask of the authorities? You bet it is.

We need more unofficial investigations. We are not going to get any further official investigation. Case closed. “Move along. There’s nothing to see here.”

My advice: Don’t believe the first official government report. Suspend judgment. Keep snooping. Things are not always what they seem.

December 17, 2015 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular, Video | | 3 Comments

Washington’s ‘Plan B’ in Syria: Renewed military intervention to oust Assad?

By Finian Cunningham | RT | December 16, 2015

US top diplomat John Kerry appeared to offer cooperation during lengthy talks in Moscow this week with President Vladimir Putin. Kerry said that US policy was not trying to isolate Russia, neither was it seeking regime change in Syria.

Rhetoric aside, Kerry’s expressions of goodwill simply do not cut it.

During a walkabout in Moscow, the US Secretary of State chanced on a little Christmas shopping, with Kerry buying a Babushka stacking doll among other souvenirs. The iconic Russian doll containing six shelled figurines could serve as a metaphor for Washington’s elusive rhetoric.

Following his three-hour discussion with Putin, Kerry said: “While we don’t see eye to eye on every aspect of Syria, we see Syria fundamentally similarly.”

US government-owned media outlet Voice of America added: “He [Kerry] said the US and Russia identify the same challenges and dangers, and want the same outcomes [in Syria].”

That, to put it bluntly, is simply not true. Washington and Moscow do not see Syria fundamentally similarly nor want the same outcomes.

Washington wants regime change, no matter what Kerry may declare. From the outset of the conflict in Syria in March 2011, the Obama administration has been demanding that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “must go”.

Indeed, it is well documented that Washington and its NATO partners have been seeking regime change against Russia’s long-time Syria ally going back to 2007 during the George W Bush presidency. The whole foreign-backed war in the Arab country – resulting in 250,000 deaths and millions of refugees over the past five years – has been orchestrated for the precise purpose of destabilizing Syria.

Certainly, Kerry’s latest visit to Moscow marked a softening of the “Assad must go” line. Washington is now saying that the Syrian president may remain in office until a political transition is negotiated. But at the end of the so-called transition, the US still wants Assad gone, as Kerry again noted. That is regime change no matter how you slice it.

Like Kerry’s coy claim that the US is not trying “to isolate Russia as a matter of policy,” the bottom line is that Washington has imposed unilateral economic sanctions on Russia as a result of provable US regime change in Ukraine in February 2014, and cajoled its European allies to follow suit. Withdrawing unilaterally from arms control treaties and expanding NATO forces on Russian territory are hardly the actions of a party “not seeking isolation” of Moscow.

Washington sure wants regime change in Syria, just as former US General Wesley Clark disclosed back in 2007 – a policy that the American military-industrial complex formulated in 2001 following the 9/11 terror events. There is no reason whatsoever to believe that the same US hegemonic ambitions for the Middle East and beyond have changed under Obama.

What has changed is that Russia’s dramatic military intervention in Syria two months ago has shredded the US-led plans.

This week, President Obama made a speech at the Pentagon in which he made the laughable claim that the US was leading the global fight against the Islamic State terror group. “We are hitting them harder than ever,” he said.

Such claims by the US commander-in-chief are just downright delusional. It is the Russian aerial bombardment in close cooperation with the Syrian Arab Army that has completely turned the military tables on Islamic State (IS) and other illegally armed groups.

Moreover, it is Russian airstrikes which have wiped out the oil smuggling and weapon supply routes to the jihadists from Turkey.

These jihadists – whether they go by the shell names IS, Nusra, Army of Conquest or Free Syrian Army – are all part of the foreign-backed mercenary force that the US has deployed for sacking Syria.

Washington’s losing streak in the covert military objective has forced the US to seek a political track to achieve the same end result of regime change. That explains why Washington is now softening its rhetoric in order to inveigle Moscow into a political transition, euphemistically called a “peace process”.

Kerry said that the US and Russia have reached “common ground” on which Syrian opposition groups would be invited to peace talks in New York this Friday. The aim is to create a political opposition to the Assad government ahead of negotiations for a transition beginning in January.

A preview of these “opposition” groups was given last week when Saudi Arabia invited more than 100 so-called leaders of political and militant factions. As the New York Times reported the formation of this front was deemed by Washington as a “prerequisite” for the future talks. John Kerry welcomed the summit in Saudi capital Riyadh as “an important step forward”.

Although Al Qaeda-linked groups, IS and Al Nusra, did not attend the Saudi-sponsored and US-countenanced gathering, the NY Times admitted that delegates included “hardline Islamists”. Those in attendance included Ahrar al Shams and Jaish al Islam. The latter gained notoriety for holding civilian human shields in cages, as well as being linked to the chemical gas atrocity near Damascus in August 2013.

The Saudi-sponsored opposition that Washington is trying to line up against the Syrian government are braying for Assad’s immediate departure. John Kerry may say belatedly that US policy has shifted to permit Assad to remain in power for the duration of a transition, but it should be obvious that Washington is setting up a framework under the guise of a peace process in which Assad’s departure is put on the agenda.

But what gives the US and its NATO and Arab cronies any right to make such demands on Syria’s political future?

Washington does not seem to get it that its arrogant assertions about political change in Syria are null and void. Russia has time and again rightly pointed out that Syria’s political future is for the Syrian people to decide as a matter of sovereignty. Russia’s position is fully supported by Iran.

As for Syria’s President Assad he has said that there will be no negotiations with the Saudi-sponsored political opposition, labeling them with reasonable justification as “terrorists”.

In a parallel development, Saudi Arabia also announced the formation of a 34-nation alliance of Muslim countries supposedly dedicated to fighting the “disease of Islamic terrorism”. The newly formed bloc comprises in addition to Saudi Arabia: Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Turkey – all countries associated with the funding and arming of extremist groups in Syria and elsewhere. Strangely, or perhaps not, Iran, Iraq and Syria were not invited to join the bloc.

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter welcomed the new alliance. And the Saudis said that troops from the 34-nation coalition could be sent into Syria and Iraq to “combat” the IS network. Washington also endorsed that, saying that it wanted more regional “boots on the ground” to help fight terrorism.

What that suggests is that if the political track does not go well for ousting Assad, then the US and its allies are giving themselves the license to openly intervene in Syria – ostensibly to fight terror groups, which they have covertly fomented. Such a renewed military intervention can be seen as Plan B, where Plan A – the covert use of terror groups – has failed.

Read more:

‘Washington has gone from ‘regime change’ to ‘political transition’ in Syria, but we are not stupid’

December 17, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment

Egypt gets billions in aid from Saudi Arabia, World Bank

Mada Masr | December 16, 2015 

Egypt, which is facing dwindling foreign reserves and a yawning budget deficit, will be getting a major boost this month, thanks to large aid packages coming in from Saudi Arabia, the African Development Bank and the World Bank.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail announced that Saudi Arabia will increase its investment in Egypt to 30 billion riyals (LE62 billion/US$8 billion), support Egypt’s petroleum needs for five years, and help boost traffic through the Suez Canal.

The announcement came after a Tuesday meeting of the Egyptian-Saudi coordination council. On Monday, Saudi Arabia announced that Egypt, along with 34 other states, was joining a Saudi-led alliance to fight terrorism.

In a Monday press conference, Ismail told reporters that during the meeting he intended to discuss the possibility of Saudi Arabia depositing funds at Egypt’s Central Bank — a more direct form of support for the government than increased investment. Official communications since the meeting have not mentioned this possibility, but an anonymous official told Bloomberg news the Kingdom is considering buying Egyptian treasury bonds and bills instead.

In related news, Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation Sahar Nasr announced Tuesday that the board of the African Development Bank approved a US$500 million soft loan to Egypt. According to Nasr, the loan is part of a comprehensive economic development program that will loan US$1.5 billion to support Egypt’s general budget over three years, and signals the bank’s trust in Egypt’s economic and social program.

Meanwhile, the World Bank’s executive board is scheduled to meet Thursday to approve a US$1 billion budgetary support loan for Egypt. According to Egyptian officials, the loan is part of a three-year, US$3 billion package. It will be granted in accordance with the World Bank’s new Country Partnership Framework for Egypt, a document that is also expected to be approved on Thursday.

The last time Egypt received a major infusion of foreign support was April 2015, when Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates each deposited US$2 billion at Egypt’s Central Bank. These deposits helped pushed the country’s foreign reserves to over US$20 billion.

Since then, reserves have dwindled, reaching US$16.42 billion at the end of November. In early December, Egypt’s new Central Bank governor, Tarek Amer, said the country’s reserve position was stable, and would improve in the coming months.

December 17, 2015 Posted by | Corruption | , , , | 2 Comments

Turkish troops ‘raiding civilian houses’ in Kurdish city of Silopi

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© farukencu / Instagram
RT | December 17, 2015

The Turkish Army has reportedly sent military vehicles, including tanks, into civilian areas in its predominantly-Kurdish southeast. While mainstream Western media remains silent, local activists posted frightening photos on social media.

The People’s Democracy Party (HDP) published a series of photos of the Thursday raid by the Turkish Army. According to HDP, soldiers in the Yenisehir district of Silopi “broke into a building and pointed guns at people.”

Ferhat Encu, an MP for the People’s Democratic Party, was taken into custody in Silopi.

“The world and those justifying this cruelty know well, this isn’t an ‘anti-terror’ act. This is an ethnic cleansing and genocide operation,” the party tweeted.

Ankara has been busy conducting military operations in the southeast since summer. Tensions have been mounting for months as security forces have been battling Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants after a ceasefire collapsed in July. The PKK has been fighting for an autonomous Kurdish region inside Turkey for over three decades.

Earlier this week, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu promised that anti-PKK operations would continue in Silopi and Cizre in order to, as he put it, prevent the militants from “spreading the fire” from Syria and Iraq into Turkey.

“The terrorists will be wiped out from these districts. Neighborhood by neighborhood, house by house, street by street,” he pledged.

Nurcan Baysal, founder of the Diyarbakir Political and Social Research Institute, has described Davutoglu’s language as “very dangerous.”

“If the Turkish state wants peace with its Kurdish citizens, it should change its dangerous language into the language of peace,” Baysal told the Middle East Eye news outlet. “Unfortunately, the Turkish state has decided to wage war against the Kurdish people again.”

“People are without water, electricity, food, medical care, and many civilians have died – and state officials say that they will continue this.”

Figen Yuksekdag, the co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), has publicly accused Davutoglu of “ordering a massacre” in Cizre and Silopi.

“Who are these operations against, Mr. Prime Minister?” Yuksekdag wondered at a press conference in Diyarbakir. “There are people living in these houses, Davutoglu,” she said.

Thousands took to the streets of Diyarbakir in late November after Tahir Elci, a lawyer and campaigner for Kurdish rights, was shot dead in while giving a speech on November 28. This became the last straw.

Seven Kurds were killed following clashes with Turkish security forces earlier this week. Two died in the city of Diyarbakir as protesters fought with police, while five lost their lives in the Mardin province.

Around 5,000 people gathered for a march in Diyarbakir on Monday, according to AP, which was called by the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). Local residents gathered to voice their concerns about round-the-clock curfews being implemented in the region.

According to the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, there have been a total of 52 curfews imposed since mid-August across seven provinces in the region, affecting areas where some 1.3 million people live.

Residents from the pro-Kurdish town of Silvan (some 80km north east of Diyarbakir) said they had been shelled by Turkish forces in mid-November, while the never-ending curfew had driven them to the brink of starvation.

December 17, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , | Leave a comment

A People’s History of Churchillian Madness

By Elliot Murphy | CounterPunch | December 17, 2015

This year marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, which is almost universally seen in Britain as purely a war against the Nazis and their UK-bound warplanes. Unlike the First World War or the wars in Indochina and Iraq, the Second World War is somewhat unique in that it is likely the only modern war whose reputation has remained pristine throughout the decades, being regarded as the ‘Good War’. But the impetus behind Britain’s involvement was as much imperial as it was defensive. At the end of the 1930s, Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden believed Germany to be a significant threat to their empire, and not Britain’s national security. Some of the ruling class entered the Second World War reluctantly, and contrary to many propaganda cartoons, British elites did nothing to aid the Poles; they did, however, evacuate a segment of the Polish army to deploy in their own objectives in 1940.

Even after the Battle of Britain, Whitehall still marginally favoured Hitler. Indeed, its objection to the Hitler-Stalin pact was merely that it gave Stalin too much power. Between the spring of 1940 (the fall of France) and 1943 (the Allied landing in southern Italy), the British army fought the majority of their battles in northern Africa. Churchill was deeply concerned about the safety of Suez Canal and the region’s oilfields, along with Saudi Arabia, which he sought to keep from Roosevelt’s influence.

The traditional view of the war, however, is a picture of democracy versus fascism, good versus evil. But this was not the motivation for the Allied leaders, as Chris Harman wrote in A People’s History of the World (Verso, 2008, p. 536):

The Churchill who demanded a no-holds-barred prosecution of the war was the same Churchill who has been present during the butchery at Omdurman, sent troops to shoot down striking miners in 1910, ordered the RAF to use poison gas against Kurdish rebels in British-ruled Iraq, and praised Mussolini. He had attacked a Conservative government in the 1930s for granting a minimal amount of local self government to India, and throughout the war he remained adamant that no concessions could be made to anti-colonial movements in Britain’s colonies, although this could have helped the war effort.

At the Yalta Conference, Churchill informed Roosevelt and Stalin that ‘While there is life in my body, no transfer of British sovereignty will be permitted’ in India. His stubbornness over the issue was so extreme that in 1942, during the Battle of Stalingrad, instead of pushing back the Nazis thousands of British troops were viciously suppressing demonstrations in India. Churchill’s inflexibility on the issue of sovereignty was so extreme that it led to a famine in Bengal which killed three million.

As historians like Harman and Danny Gluckstein (in A People’s History of the Second World War) have documented, the Second World War was comprised of two wars; one ‘from above’ and one ‘from below’. In a typically hypocritical act of pseudo-internationalist policy formation, during the war ‘from above’ in August 1941 Roosevelt and Churchill pledged to respect, in one of the principles of the Atlantic Charter, ‘the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live’. Applying different standards to his own actions, Churchill later stressed, when presenting the Charter to the House of Commons, that it did ‘not qualify in any way the various statements of policy which have been made [regarding] the British Empire’, since it only applied to ‘the States and nations of Europe now under the Nazi yoke’ (The Times, 10 September 1941). The war was consequently a disagreement between the major world governments about who should dominate, and not a battle against domination itself.

As early as the fall of Singapore in 1942, plans were already being made in Whitehall to reclaim parts of the empire, with the examples of Burma, Malaya, Hong Kong and Nigeria being the most notable. Churchill even drew up a plan, vetoed by the US, of taking over Thailand (covered by P.J. Cain and A.G. Hopkins in their 1993 study British Imperialism: Crisis and Deconstruction 1914-1990). He also issued a stern instruction to Eden towards the end of 1944: ‘[H]ands off the British empire is our maxim and it must not be weakened or smirched to please sob-stuff merchants at home or foreigners of any hue’. Labour had long confessed a principled opposition to imperialism, though had a change of heart after assuming office in 1945, supporting the renewal of the Colonial Development and Welfare Act and the establishment of a managerial structure run by several generations of educated colonial subjects. As Ernest Bevin modestly put it, ‘our crime is no exploitation; it’s neglect’ – where ‘neglect’ should be understood in its proper sense of ‘more exploitation’ (for discussion, see Robert D. Pearce’s 1982 The Turning Point in Africa: British Colonial Policy 1938-1948).

In 1936, the Greek king appointed General Ioannis Metaxas as a fascist dictator, who sought to bring about a ‘Third Hellenic Civilisation’. A British liaison officer sent to wartime Greece, C.M. Woodhouse, believed Metaxas to be ‘benevolent’, having ‘high-minded motives for undertaking supreme power’ (The Apple of Discord: A Survey of Recent Greek Politics in their International Setting, Hutchinson, 1948, pp. 16-17). Britain supported Metaxas because, as a different liaison officer explained in 1944, three years after the dictator’s death, the Greeks ‘are a fundamentally hopeless and useless people with no future or prospect of settling down to any form of sensible life within any measurable time’. Any remnants of the Atlantic Charter had by now been long discarded from political consciousness. The Allies proceeded to bomb Athens in order to destroy the Greek resistance movement, EAM (the National Liberation Front) and its military arms, ELAS (the National Popular Liberation Army). During the war, zones controlled by EAM underwent large-scale self-government to a level of sophistication rivalling the Spanish anarchists. Residents voted for municipal councilors and judiciaries in mass assemblies, while expensive lawyers were dispensed with and regular justice prevailed.

‘Communist’ Russia also declined to support EAM/ELAS, and ordered the resistance to fuse with the government of the king. In an effort to dominate as much of the country as possible, Churchill’s coup later overthrew the Greek government while also suppressing the communists. Churchill informed General Scobie, in language to match that of any of the century’s great dictators, ‘Do not hesitate to fire at any armed male in Athens who assails the British authority or Greek authority … [A]ct as if you were in a conquered city where a local rebellion is in progress’. He later informed parliament of his view on EAM/ELAS, preferring collaborators to anti-fascists: ‘The security battalions came into existence … to protect the Greek villagers from the depredations of some of those who, under the guise of being saviours of their country, were living upon the inhabitants and doing very little fighting against the Germans’, unlike the ‘security battalions’ deployed by the Greek government who pledged loyalty to Hitler and who, according to Churchill, ‘did the best they could to shelter the Greek population from German oppression’.

Post-war Greek persecutors also worked alongside US counterinsurgency forces. Whereas Russia allowed the Nazis to crush the Polish communist resisters, the AK, Churchill actively sought the destruction of the Greek anti-fascists. In 1947 the American New Republic reported that ‘Churchill’s victory is complete – and neatly underwritten by hundreds of millions of American dollars. It could only be slightly more complete if Hitler himself had engineered it’ (15 September 1947). Like the US, Churchill also thoroughly approved of Mussolini. After visiting him in 1927, Churchill once again picked up his pen to confess how he ‘could not help being charmed, like so many other people have been, by his gentle and simple bearing and by his calm, detached poise’ (Extract from press statements made by Churchill, January 1927, Churchill Papers, CHAR 9/82 B). When Mussolini fell in 1943, Churchill promised that ‘Even when the issue of the war became certain, Mussolini would have been welcomed by the Allies’.

Earlier in the 1920s, Churchill had proclaimed his desire for justice when he confessed that poison gas would be an excellent weapon against ‘uncivilized tribesmen and recalcitrant Arabs’. This tactic was in clear violation of the Hague Declaration of 1899, calling on all adherents to refrain from ‘the use of projectiles the sole object of which is the diffusion of asphyxiating or deleterious gases’, which Britain eventually agreed to sign in 1907. During the Good War, he added that ‘It is absurd to consider morality on this topic when everybody used it in the last war without a word of complaint from the moralists or the Church. On the other hand, in the last war the bombing of open cities was regarded as forbidden. Now everybody does it as a matter of course. It is simply a question of fashion changing as she does between long and short skirts for women’. Expressing his concern for the safety of the British public, he continued in a secret memo:

If the bombardment of London became a serious nuisance and great rockets with far-reaching and devastating effect fell on many centres of Government and labour, I should be prepared to do  anything that would hit the enemy in a murderous place. I may certainly have to ask you to support me in using poison gas. We could drench the cities of the Ruhr and many other cities in Germany in such a way that most of the population would be requiring constant medical attention. We could stop all work at the flying bomb starting points. I do not see why we should have the disadvantages of being the gentleman while they have all the advantages of being the cad. There are times when this may be so but not now.

Britain engaged in what Churchill called the ‘absolutely devastating’ tactic of ‘area bombing’ of German cities instead of hitting specific military targets. Because of the power of aerial bombing, as Prime Minister Baldwin had explained in 1932, ‘The only defence is in offence, which means that you have to kill more women and children more quickly than the enemy if you want to save yourselves’. During the later years of the war, Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris took this message to heart more than any other RAF commander. He took pride in the fact that his Bomber Command has ‘virtually destroyed 45 out of the leading 60 German cities. In spite of invasion diversions we have so far managed to keep up and even exceed our average of two and a half cities a month’; that is, in spite of the existence of actual military targets to hit, Harris continued to wreak unnecessary and horrific damage on Germany.

On February 13th 1945, the Allies initiated the bombing of Dresden, an act which only hardened the resolve of the German military and encouraged it to step up its production of armaments. British and US bombers devastated Dresden’s cultural centre, the Altstadt, and destroyed 19 hospitals, 39 schools and residential areas. Meanwhile, core military and transport installation remained unscathed. Between 35,000 and 70,000 people died, and only 100 were soldiers; a civilian:soldier death ratio which would make even Benjamin Netanyahu blush. The only reason the bombing stopped was because Churchill realised that a completely demolished Dresden would leave no spoils, such as ‘housing materials … for our own needs’. Likewise, two years earlier, after the end of the Battle of Britain in May 1941, Churchill had wept over the ruins of the House of Commons, though not, strangely, over the deaths of thousands of Londoners.

After the Siege of Sidney Street in January 1911, in which Churchill, Home Secretary in the Liberal government, directed police to attack two jewelry robbers who had left three policemen dead the previous month in Houndsditch, the building the robbers were hiding in ended up in flames and all three were killed. Lindsey German and John Rees comment in A People’s History of London (Verso, 2012, p. 167).

Churchill reveled in such confrontations, and exploited the furore over the killing and the emerging popular press’s witch-hunt of anarchists to stoke up his own reputation and justify repressive methods overall. In fact the dead men were not anarchists but Latvian social democrats, engaged in what was called an ‘expropriation for the cause’.

Consequently, because of Churchill’s authoritarianism and the media’s assault on anarchists, Latvians, and Russians, one anarchist noted that ‘Anyone who walked along in a Russian blouse was considered a suspicious character and sometimes assaulted’. It’s against this cultural and political backdrop that any histories of Churchill and the Second World War should be assessed – and any judgements of the benevolent claims of present statesmen should be made.

Elliot Murphy teaches in the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences at University College, London.

December 17, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

US House Passes Bill to Block Hezbollah from International Financial System

Bill also targets Al-Manar TV

Press TV December 16, 2015

The US House of Representatives has approved sanctions against banks that do business with the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah.

Lawmakers unanimously voted for the imposition of the sanctions in a bill that will be sent to the White House for US President Barack Obama’s signature.

Following a unanimous one in the US Senate on November 17, the House voted for the measure 422 to 0 .

The bill also targets the resistance movement’s television channel Al-Manar through attempts to cut the broadcast of satellite operators that air the channel’s programs.

Meanwhile, a senior administration official told AFP that the president will sign the legislation, adding the White House and the US Congress have been working together for long “to intensify the pressure” on the organization, which the official described as a “terrorist.”

This is while Hezbollah fighters have been engaged in battles against the Daesh Takfiri terrorists in Syria.

Apart from pressuring banks that knowingly do business with the group, the bill also requires the White House to present reports to the Congress in regard to Hezbollah’s operations.

The organization has been accused by the US of committing “terrorism” while its fighters keep advancing against the ISIL militants, originally trained and funded by the CIA in Jordan in 2012 to destabilize the government of Syrian President Basher al-Assad.

December 17, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 4 Comments