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The Occupation Goes Missing from The NY Times

By Barbara Erickson | TimesWarp | February 8, 2016

queitun-raided-2-600x450The occupation went missing from The New York Times this past week. Palestinians were there, as victims and attackers, but the brutal military regime that controls their lives made no appearance.

The newspaper had plenty to say about Israeli Jewish life, however: two lengthy stories about prayer space at the Western Wall and one discussing Zionism. Each of these stories ran over a thousand words.

Two shorter news articles reported that the murderers of a Palestinian teen had been sentenced to prison and that a knife attack left one Israeli police officer dead, but nothing in either of these provided the context crucial to understanding events in the occupied territories.

Meanwhile, as the Times obsesses over Israeli identity and attitudes, the occupation grinds on, producing news that appears elsewhere. At the top of the list were two major stories: A Palestinian prisoner was near death after passing his 75th day on hunger strike, and Israeli forces carried out a massive demolition of over 20 homes, rendering more than 100 Palestinians homeless in the dead of winter.

The ordeal of Mohammed al-Qeeq, a journalist held without trial since Nov. 21 of last year, drew the attention of Israeli and international media outlets, which recounted his legal appeals, protests on his behalf and an Israeli Supreme Court decision which “froze” his detention but confined him to a hospital. (Al-Qeeq refused the offer and continued his fast.)

Al-Qeeq’s hunger strike was deemed unfit to print in the Times, perhaps because it would touch on Israel’s use of administrative detention, which holds prisoners without trial. Readers are not to know that as of last December 660 Palestinians were held in this limbo, nor were they to be informed that a number of human rights groups have protested Israel’s unsavory use of the practice.

And then there is the matter of two impoverished villages in the South Hebron Hills of the West Bank, Khirbet Jenbah and Khirbet Al-Halawah, which were made even more destitute after Israeli army crews arrived last Tuesday and demolished 22 structures, displacing 110 people, including dozens of minors. The army also confiscated solar panels, which, like many of the homes, had been donated by aid organizations.

The military claimed that it destroyed Jenbah and Al-Halawah because they were located in a declared firing zone. The Israeli publication 972 Magazine, however, noted that “Jewish settlements within [the zone] have not been served with eviction orders.”

This was the largest mass demolition in a decade, and the plan to destroy villages within the firing zone has drawn international attention and a petition from world-renowned authors to spare the communities. None of this, however, was enough to draw the interest of the Times.

Instead, the Times considered it more urgent to examine the effects of a new prayer space at the Western Wall—not once, but twice—and to take a look at Zionism today. Villagers thrown out in the cold of winter and a prisoner on the brink of death took a back seat to these concerns.

The Times claims that it gives readers “the complete, unvarnished truth as best as we can learn it,” and it insists that the newspaper’s overriding goal is to “cover the news as impartially as possible.” Readers who never stray to other sources of information may actually believe this.

February 8, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Neoconservatives have taken over US academic institutions: Scholar

Press TV – February 8, 2016

“Unfortunately today, these neoconservatives whose philosophy is that intellectuals should be in the service of tyrants who rule using big lies and mass murder, have taken over the academy and they don’t belong in the academy,” said Kevin Barrett, who has a Ph.D in Arab and Islamic studies and is one of America’s best-known critics of the so-called war on terror.

“Transparency and freedom are the ideals of the academy; because the neoconservatives reject these ideals, they have no business in the academy” Barrett told Press TV on Monday.

On Saturday, an American female professor at a Christian university who got in trouble after wearing the hijab and saying Muslims and Christians worship the same God has agreed to leave the school.

Wheaton College, located near Chicago, Illinois, and political science professor Larycia Hawkins have reached a confidential agreement in which they will “part ways,” the college said in a statement.

“This seems to be a very strange kind of phenomenon that a professor should not be allowed to teach at a university,” said Barret, who himself was fired from the University of Wisconsin for accusing the US government of being involved in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

“The whole idea is ludicrous but apparently not in Wheaton College, where Islamophobia appears to be mandatory,” he added. “Anyone who doesn’t hate Muslims with all their heart and soul apparently is not welcome to teach at Wheaton College.”

“It’s a disgrace and an outrage and travesty and anybody who cares about freedom in America should head straight to Chicago to protest, to go and occupy the offices of the administration [of Wheaton College] there.”

February 8, 2016 Posted by | Islamophobia, Solidarity and Activism | , , | 1 Comment

Gaza has disappeared – Another magic trick by Israel

By Miko Peled | American Herald Tribune | February 8,2016

Has anyone seen Gaza lately? A Palestinian I met the other day told he was from Gaza, he told me about his eighty year old mother living in horrid conditions there, so I decided to look through the newspapers, surf the news online and run through TV channels, local, international and I even looked at news from the Middle East, but all was in vain. I can’t find Gaza, not a single word, not a bit of news anywhere. I know it was there at one time, so I desperately decided to look through old notes, vintage news clips old videos and clearly there are signs that it was there at one time, but now I can find no sign of its existence. Once again, in a magic trick of epic proportions Israel made Gaza disappear.

As I write these words, I sit in front of my computer screen scratching my head. How did it disappear? Where did Gaza go? Almost two million people vanished into thin air. Now I suppose there is no need to worry about the tens of thousands of people injured in Israeli attacks and then forsaken with no care. We can all conveniently forget about the countless children traumatized by the constant humming of drones and the terror of missiles destroying homes and killing family members. We can stop worrying whether or not there are sufficient supplies of medicine reaching the besieged people or if there is any electricity to keep people warm and maintain hospitals. We can rest assured that there are no more babies born prematurely who are likely to die due to lack of proper postnatal care.

When Gaza was there it was really quite terrible. There were people there with no access to clean water, there was food insecurity and thousands were homeless because Israel destroyed their homes. What made it even worse is that five minutes from where Gaza used to be, Israelis were living perfectly secure, with plenty of food and water, no shortage of electricity, warmth in the winter and cooling in the hot summers. Hospitals were functioning and medicine was available for anyone who required help. But the people in Gaza had no access to any of this because Israel did not allow them out of what used to be a huge concentration camp. With few exceptions, Israel also didn’t permit people who wanted to go to Gaza to help, to do so, Israel didn’t allow food, water or medicine in and when the people in Gaza dug tunnels in order to smuggle food and other necessities, these tunnels were destroyed by Israel’s great ally, President/Generalisimo Abdel Fatah Sisi of Egypt.

Before Gaza disappeared there would be occasional rocket fire from Gaza and attempts by Palestinians to fight off the Israeli military. The rockets were called “Qassam” rockets and the fighters were called terrorists. Even though there were cases in other parts of the world where people who fought for their freedom were called heroes, this never happened in Gaza. Young fighters in Gaza who sacrificed everything and died attempting to fight the Israeli war machine were never called heroes, because, and one can only guess because Gaza is no longer there to verify, but one assumes it is because in this world in which we live, Palestinians are not permitted to be heroes. No, Palestinians are only accepted as victims or as terrorists. Heroism is not permitted for the people who used to exist in what used to be Gaza.

The gentleman I met the other day who said he was from Gaza described a story that was heart wrenching, but since it cannot be verified I have to doubt its validity. It cannot be possible that such horror, such suffering exists only minutes from Israeli towns and cities, and barely an hour drive from Tel-Aviv and no one would report it, not a single news outlet would pick it up. It is inconceivable that almost two million people would be caged in like animals, living in conditions that can only be described as inhumane – and the world would be completely silent. After all the enlightened Western civilization, the developed world, the major countries of the world wouldn’t just sit there and say nothing, do nothing and allow this to continue. After all, we are not talking about some remote hilltop in Afghanistan or some unheard of village in Kurdistan or Iran we are talking about Israel. Yes, Israel, an ally of the US, a country hailed by the UK, France, Germany as the only democracy in the Middle East.

Had Gaza and the nearly two million people who used to live in it hadn’t mysteriously disappeared, someone would have demanded that Israel, the recipient of billions of dollars in foreign aid would use that money to provide relief to the people in Gaza. That it would use these billions of dollars to build homes for the homeless, provide food for the hungry, medicine and medical care for the sick and injured and provide comfort for the hundreds of thousands of traumatized children who have been emotionally scarred because of the brutality of Israeli terrorism. The world would demand that those within Israel who were responsible for the terrible crimes committed by the Israeli army in Gaza be brought to justice, pay for their crimes agains innocents.

Israel had used magic tricks to fool the world before, but this time it really outdid itself. Does anyone remember the Iran smoke screen? The nuclear threat that never was? The existential threat that never existed? Yes, these were all quite amazing and very effective. They fooled millions of people the world over. But to make Gaza disappear is an even grater achievement. Its more complex than the “self-defense” trick where Israel bombed Gaza and murdered thousands of people who never hurt a soul, and then convinced the world that murdering people in Gaza was an act of self-defense.

I think of this gentleman from Gaza, Mohammad is his name, I’m amazed. He is a highly educated, successful man, he has seven children and he works hard to provide them with an education. One of his daughters is a heart surgeon. He came up to me after a recent lecture in Huntsville, Alabama and I was moved by his story. He even bought a copy of my book, and as he leafed through it and saw the photo of the Palestinian hero Abu Ali Shahin he told me that Abu Ali was his uncle from his mother’s side. His mother’s family came from the village of Besshit, the same village, now destroyed by Israel, from where Abu Ali Shahin told me that he came. So I am puzzled. Mohammad told me a story that was real, painful. He told me he can’t visit his mother, nor can he send her the medicine she needs but cannot find in Gaza. So is it possible that Gaza didn’t disappear? Could it be that it is still there and no one talks about it?

February 8, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 3 Comments

Netanyahu threatens legal action against Arab parliamentarians

MEMO | February 8, 2016

Benjamin Netanyahu revealed on Sunday that he will be discussing possible legal action against Arab members of the Knesset with the attorney general after they visited the families of Palestinians killed by Israel to discuss the release of their bodies for burial. The Israeli prime minister described the MKs as “terrorism advocates” whom he wishes to have removed from parliament.

“Members of the Knesset who go to comfort the families of terrorists who murdered Israelis do not deserve to be in the Israeli Knesset,” Netanyahu said on Thursday. “I have asked the Speaker of the Knesset to examine what steps can be taken against them.” On Sunday, he submitted a formal complaint to the Knesset Ethics Committee against Arab Joint List MKs Jamal Zahalka, Haneen Zoubi and Basil Ghattas, all members of the Balad bloc.

Also on Thursday, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said, “It is inconceivable that at a time when innocent citizens are being slaughtered on the streets of Israel, these MKs go to console the families of the murderers and with unbelievable insolence dare to bring the families’ demands to the government.” He pointed out that his call for Israelis to lodge complaints against the MKs was met with a broad response; 200 have been received.

The MKs in question responded forcefully to the criticism: “As soon as Netanyahu understood that there was no legal or criminal offence involved in our meeting, he tried to turn the empty hype into a political gain for himself by submitting a draft bill to remove the Arab minority’s political representatives.” The prime minister, they added, knows very well that the meeting was intended to discuss the release of the bodies.

February 8, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Saudi invasion of Syria: The bluff that could ignite World War III

By Finian Cunningham | RT | February 7, 2016

The Saudi plan to send ground troops into Syria appears to be just a ruse. But this is precisely the kind of reckless saber-rattling that could ignite an all-out war, one that could embroil the United States and Russia.

Saudi rulers have reportedly amassed a 150,000-strong army to invade Syria on the alleged pretext “to fight against terrorism” and to defeat the so-called Islamic State (also known as ISIS/ISIL). Saudi officials told CNN that in addition to Saudi troops there are ground forces from Egypt, Turkey, Sudan, Morocco, Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem gave a categorical response, saying the move would be seen as an act of aggression and that any invasion force regardless of its stated reasons for entering Syria will be sent back in “wooden coffins”.

Nevertheless, US President Barack Obama has welcomed the Saudi plan to intervene in Syria.

Obama’s Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is this week due to meet in Brussels with counterparts from the US-led so-called “anti-terror” coalition to make a decision on the whether to activate the Saudi plan. A Saudi military spokesman has already said that if the US-led coalition gives its consent then his country will proceed with the intervention.

In recent weeks, Carter and other senior US officials, including Vice President Joe Biden, have been calling for increased regional Arab military action against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Carter and Biden have also said the US is prepared to send in its own ground troops en masse if the Geneva peace talks collapse.

Now, those talks appear to be floundering. So, does that mean that a large-scale invasion of US-led foreign armies in Syria is on the way?

Let’s step back a moment and assess what is really going on. The Saudi warning – or more accurately “threat” – of military intervention in Syria is not the first time that this has been adverted to. Back in mid-December, when Riyadh announced the formation of a 34-Islamic nation alliance to “fight terrorism”, the Saudis said that the military alliance reserved the right to invade any country where there was deemed to be a terror threat – including Syria.

Another factor is that the House of Saud is not pleased with US-led diplomatic efforts on Syria. US Secretary of State John Kerry’s bustling to organize the Geneva negotiations – supposedly to find a peace settlement to the five-year conflict – is seen by the Saudis as giving too many concessions to the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad and his foreign allies, Russia, Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

The Geneva talks – which came unstuck last week – can be arguably assessed as not a genuine internal Syria process to resolve the war – but rather they are a cynical political attempt by Washington and its allies to undermine the Syrian government for their long-held objective of regime change. The inclusion among the political opposition at Geneva of Al Qaeda-linked militants, Jaish al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham, with Western backing, illustrates the ulterior purpose.

The Washington Post gave the game away when it reported at the weekend: “The Obama administration has found itself increasingly backed into a corner by Russian bombing in Syria that its diplomacy has so far appeared powerless to stop.”

In other words, the Geneva diplomacy, mounted in large part by Kerry, was really aimed at halting the blistering Russian aerial campaign. The four-month intervention ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin has turned the tide of the entire Syrian war, allowing the Syrian Arab Army to win back strategically important terrain.

That the Russian military operations have not stopped, indeed have stepped up, has caused much consternation in Washington and its allies.

Russia and Syria can reasonably argue that the UN resolutions passed in November and December give them the prerogative to continue their campaign to defeat ISIS and all other Al Qaeda-linked terror groups. But it seems clear now that Kerry was counting on the Geneva talks as a way of stalling the Russian-Syrian assaults on the regime-change mercenaries.

Kerry told reporters over the weekend that he is making a last-gasp attempt to persuade Russia to call a ceasefire in Syria. Indicating the fraught nature of his discussions with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, Kerry said: “The modalities of a ceasefire itself are also being discussed… But if it’s just talks for the sake of talks in order to continue the bombing, nobody is going to accept that, and we will know that in the course of the next days.”

Moscow last week was adamant that it would not stop its bombing operations until “all terrorists” in Syria have been defeated. Syria’s Foreign Minister al-Muallem reiterated this weekend that there would be no ceasefire while illegally armed groups remain in Syria.

What we can surmise is that because the US-led covert military means for regime change in Syria is being thwarted and at the same time the alternative political means for regime change are also not gaining any traction – due to Russia and Syria’s astuteness on the ulterior agenda – the Washington axis is now reacting out of frustration.

Part of this frustrated reaction are the threats from Saudi Arabia, Turkey and other regional regimes – with US tacit approval – to go-ahead with a direct military intervention.

In short, it’s a bluff aimed at pressuring Syria and Russia to accommodate the ceasefire demands, which in reality are to serve as a breathing space for the foreign-backed terrorist proxies.

From a military point of view, the Saudi troop invasion cannot be taken remotely serious as an effective deployment. We only have to look at how the Saudi regime has been battered in Yemen over the past 10 months – in the Arab region’s poorest country – to appreciate that the Saudis have not the capability of carrying out a campaign in Syria.

As American professor Colin Cavell noted to this author: “Saudi intervention in Syria will have as much success as its intervention in Yemen. History has clearly shown that mercenary forces will never fight external wars with any success or elan, and no Saudi soldier in his right mind truly supports the Saudi monarchy. Everyone in Saudi Arabia knows that the House of Saud has no legitimacy, is based solely on force and manipulation, propped up by the US and the UK, and – if it did not have so much money – is a joke, run by fools.”

Thus, while a military gambit is decidedly unrealistic, the real danger is that the Saudi rulers and their American patrons have become so unhinged from reality that they could miscalculate and go into Syria. That would be like a spark in a powder keg. It will be seen as an act of war on Syria and its allies, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah. The US would inevitably be drawn fully into the spiral of a world war.

History has illustrated that wars are often the result not of a single, willful decision – but instead as the result of an ever-quickening process of folly.

Syria is just one potential cataclysm.


Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, he is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. For over 20 years he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organizations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Now a freelance journalist based in East Africa, his columns appear on RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation and Press TV.

February 8, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

BBC whips up anti-Russia hysteria to apocalyptic levels

By Robert Bridge | RT | February 7, 2016

Once again, Russia is being featured as Dr. Evil Incarnate, the villain that regularly plays opposite peace-loving NATO nations, in a BBC program that has Moscow initiating an invasion on Latvia followed up with a nuclear strike on Britain.

And just in time for the military-industrial shopping season.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has failed Western analysts and political pundits in spectacular fashion. Despite a full-court effort to portray Russia as a barbaric, land-grabbing nation obsessed with the idea of restoring imperial real estate, Russia has stubbornly refused to play along.

Why, even dangling the fat bait of Ukraine before Russia’s nose could not get Moscow to react the way NATO had hoped it would.

In fact, while NATO has been hot on the warpath against a number of shell-shocked nations across the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa, Russia has gone to war on just one (1) occasion, and that was against Georgia, and only after the egomaniacal leader of that tiny Caucasian country tempted fate by stupidly poking the Russian bear first.

Thus, the BBC has apparently found it necessary to contrive an altered state of reality, a veritable twilight zone, to convince its audience of Russia’s ‘real’ intentions: The result is a military contractor’s wet dream, an apocalyptic bunker buster, unsubtly entitled ‘World War Three: Inside the War Room,’ that depicts a sweat-inducing showdown between Russia and NATO and the beginning of WWIII.

It’s probably safe to say I would not be playing plot spoiler by revealing here that Russia has been typecast as the aggressor.

To briefly summarize: After the Russian military rolls over little Latvia for no good strategic reason whatsoever, British military commanders and graying bureaucrats with furrowed brows huddle themselves in a bunker, deciding whether to launch Trident missiles at Russia in response.

The Daily Mail breathlessly described the tax-payer paid performance as “an utterly realistic ‘war game’” which presents “deeply troubling questions, not least with the current political row over Government plans to spend £100 billion replacing our fleet of Trident submarines.”

Eureka! At the very same time UK military contractors are salivating over the prospect of winning billion-dollar contracts to replace the Queen’s collection of Trident nuclear-armed submarines, along comes a state-funded scaremongering film, starring arch-villain Russia to lend some credence to the initiative.

Russian lawmaker Frants Klintsevich told the Russian News Service radio station the film will give NATO an opportunity to remind member states that they should crack open their tattered purses and boost their military spending.

“They [West] have always demonized Russia trying to show that it is uncontrolled and non-European. As for what happens recently… we qualified this a long time ago as an information war, a very serious and a profound one,” said Klintsevich, the first deputy chairman of Federation Council’s committee on defense and security.

“Today the US has a very serious problem of rearmament, the military and industrial sector needs to get financing. A mechanism of the corrupt American elite has been launched. This was in Iraq, is in Syria and around Europe,” the senator said.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin has provided a tongue-in-cheek critique of the BBC film.

“Unfortunately, our colleagues from the BBC have lately resorted to making public products, of quite low-quality. Therefore, we haven’t always been in a hurry to familiarize ourselves with them,” Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov told reporters when asked whether the Kremlin has stayed up late to catch the film.

“It’s simply not worth the time it takes to watch,” Peskov said.

On the same day the BBC thriller was released, a report by the totally unbiased Rand Corporation – invoking sexed-up memories of Saddam Hussein’s alleged ability to strike the UK in 45 minutes – said that it would take just 60 hours for Russia to occupy Estonia and Latvia, and that’s not taking into account Riga’s rush-hour traffic.

“Across multiple games using a wide range of expert participants in and out of uniform playing both sides, the longest it has taken Russian forces to reach the outskirts of the Estonian and/or Latvian capitals of Tallinn and Riga, respectively, is 60 hours,” Rand said in its report.

“Such a rapid defeat would leave NATO with a limited number of options, all bad.”

It might be worth noting in closing that former RAND chief strategist, Herman Kahn, once forwarded the insane idea of a “winnable” nuclear exchange in his 1960 book ‘On Thermonuclear War.’

This led to Kahn being the inspiration for the title character of Stanley Kubrick’s black comedy satire Dr. Strangelove.

As far as the BBC’s latest anti-Russia production goes, well, it’s just plain strange.

Robert Bridge is the author of the book on corporate power, “Midnight in the American Empire”, which was released in 2013. @Robert_Bridge

February 8, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Privatization of Terrorism Blacklists Will Damage Innocent Lives

By Hugh Handeyside | ACLU | February 5, 2016

A private service that banks, employers, and government agencies use to screen customers and clients is blacklisting thousands of people as terrorists, sometimes based on nothing more than inaccurate and bigoted materials online, according to a VICE News article.

Thomson-Reuters’ “World-Check” database slaps a “terrorism” designation — and a picture of a red balaclava — on the profiles of individuals, charities, and religious institutions. Many of them are Muslims who have never been charged or even accused of terrorism-related offenses. The results are far-reaching and can include closure of the blacklisted individuals’ bank accounts, inability to get a job, or denial of government benefits. (And World-Check isn’t the only company chasing billions of dollars in the risk mitigation industry.)

Blacklisting by private companies isn’t new. Banks and insurance companies have long “redlined” neighborhoods in order to deny services to racial or ethnic minorities.  The entertainment industry used the infamous Hollywood blacklist to deny employment to actors, writers, and directors with suspected communist sympathies.

World-Check, however, appears particularly zealous in its effort to cash in on widespread fear of terrorism and a regulatory system that raises the stakes for banks and other companies desperate not to be accused of financing terrorism. Its confidential database includes more than 2.7 million individuals and entities, over 93,000 of whom it has designated as terrorists. According to a World-Check fact sheet, the company contracts with “49 of the world’s 50 top banks,” over 300 government agencies, and “9 of the top ten global law firms.” The Department of Homeland Security uses World-Check, as does HireRight, an employment screening company that conducts background checks for more than 40,000 organizations in 240 countries.

This kind of blacklisting for profit raises serious concerns about discrimination and the lack of meaningful appeal process that parallel our longstanding criticisms of government blacklisting. Just as the U.S. government uses a low, exception-ridden standard for its master watchlist — indeed, a single Facebook post or Tweet can provide all the “reasonable suspicion” necessary to watchlist someone — World-Check apparently labels people “terrorists” based solely on allegations from anti-Muslim zealots like Steve Emerson, who, according to the Center for American Progress, has “a history of fabricating evidence that perpetuates conspiracies of radical Islam infiltrating America through Muslim civil rights and advocacy organizations.”

Like the government, which blacklists people even after acquittal or closure of a terrorism-related investigation, World-Check uses its “terrorism” designation for people who have not been charged with a crime but may be accused, questioned, or investigated for terrorism offenses — a vast body of innocent people. And World-Check apparently shares the government’s lack of concern about stale information. Just as the government has used decades-old, unproven allegations to place some of our clients on the No Fly List, VICE reports that World-Check has failed to update some of its terror-designated profiles for as long as eight years.

Both World-Check and government watchlists also impose severe consequences on the people they label as terrorists. Inclusion on a government watchlist can cause detention at the border, harassment, and inability to travel by air or sea — to say nothing of the shame and fear that comes with being a terrorism suspect. World-Check’s terrorism designation can prompt banks to close people’s accounts, convince prospective employers not to hire a candidate, and cause funding sources for organizations or contractors to dry up.

There’s even the alarming possibility of a growing feedback loop between government and private blacklists. The Department of Homeland Security’s Analytic Framework for Intelligence, a massive data-mining project, uses “commercial data aggregators” like World-Check to analyze “individuals of interest” and identify “non-obvious relationships” with others. That not only broadens the government’s lens of suspicion, but it could also intensify the focus on affected individuals, potentially leading to more and more blacklisting — both public and private.

World-Check is similar to the government in another way that compounds all the other problems: lack of a meaningful process to challenge inclusion. The government has steadfastly refused to inform people why they’ve been watchlisted and stigmatized as terrorists, denying them a viable way to challenge wrongful watchlisting and clear their names. People erroneously blacklisted by the government can now turn up in private blacklists like World-Check’s.  And World-Check, too, offers no means of redress. In fact, VICE reports that senior World-Check employees have never seen someone successfully challenge inclusion in its database.

The government is already aware of the unfairness and discrimination that databases like World-Check can cause. In a May 2014 report on big data, the Executive Office of the President wrote, “Because of this lack of transparency and accountability, individuals have little recourse to understand or contest the information that has been gathered about them or what that data, after analysis, suggests.”

It shouldn’t be a controversial proposition that any information private companies sell to others that could damage people’s lives and reputations must be accurate, timely, and fairly contestable. And the government must apply those same principles to itself.

February 8, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

China at odds with US over N Korea response

The BRICS Post | February 8, 2016

An emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council early Monday has “strongly condemned” North Korea’s launch of a satellite into space, but China and the US differed on the type of response debated among world powers.

North Korea says the satellite launch was for peaceful and scientific research purposes, but global powers fear that the launch was a part of Pyongyang’s development of its ballistic missile program.

United States ambassador Samantha Powers called for robust responses to “violations” committed by the North Koreans.

It is likely the Security Council will draft a number of measures to increase and deepen economic sanctions already in place on North Korea.

However, North Korea’s only ally in the Security Council – China – fears that too severe a sanctions regimen will destabilize North Korea and the region.

It is likely that Washington will lean on Beijing to exert all its diplomatic efforts to rein in its weapons programs.

In the meantime, South Korea and the US said they will hold talks to possibly deploy an anti-missile defense system called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) on the peninsula – a move that Beijing says will harm regional peace.

While China summoned North Korea’s ambassador to protest Pyongyang’s satellite launch on Sunday, it also summoned the South Korean ambassador to protest THAAD’s deployment.

“China holds a consistent and clear stance on the anti-missile issue,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Monday.

“When pursuing its own security, one country should not impair the security interests of others,” Hua added.

China says that the deployment of such advanced anti-missile weaponry will not help in deescalating tensions in the Korean peninsula.

February 8, 2016 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment