Aletho News


Meet the Bogus Technology the Government Will Use to Frame You

corbettreport | March 1, 2016


What happens if the facial recognition cameras get it wrong? Or the “visual microphone” detects the wrong sound? Or the emotion-reading or crime-predicting technology of the near future is just quackery, designed to frame anyone the government wants to convict? Sadly, this isn’t sci-fi fantasy; it’s the present and we’re already living through it. Just ask Steve Talley…

March 1, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | Leave a comment

Pentagon OKs $683 Million Smart Bomb Deal for Turkey

Sputnik – 01.03.2016

As the Turkish government escalates tensions across the Middle East, the Pentagon has authorized a multimillion dollar deal to sell smart bombs to Ankara.

Last December, the Turkish government deployed a battalion of 25 tanks and roughly 1560 troops into northern Iraq. Acting without Baghdad’s permission, the move was roundly condemned as a breach of sovereignty. Ankara has also been engaged its own internal war against Kurdish communities in the country’s southeast, with the death toll reaching some 5,000 people.

Now, with all parties honoring the Syrian ceasefire, Turkey is threatening to plunge its neighbor back into the five-year civil war.

“[The Turkish government] view themselves as victims and losing parties in the Syrian war,” Germany’s Telepolis magazine noted. “For this reason they will resort to provocations until the ceasefire is shattered.”

Despite Turkey’s destabilizing influence in the region, Washington has chosen to award a $682.9 million contract which will provide Ankara with an undisclosed number of smart bombs.

“The deal came timely as we are deeply engaged in asymmetrical warfare and need smart bombs,” one Turkish military official said, according to Defense News.

The contract was granted to Ellwood National Forge and General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems, and includes the sale of of an unnamed number of BLU-109 bunker busters. These bombs contain roughly 550 pounds of a high explosive compound known as tritonal, and thanks to tail fuse delays, the bomb’s detonation is stalled until it reaches its intended underground target.

This is the first such sale to Turkey by US defense contractors, and Ankara expects the transaction to be completed by 2020.

Despite its continuing aggression, Turkey is a key NATO ally, so Washington’s complicity in Ankara’s actions do not come as a surprise.

The US has also played an active role in Saudi Arabia’s Yemen campaign, providing the bombs used during Riyadh’s air campaigns.

“Saudi Arabia has engaged in war crimes, and the United States is aiding and abetting them by providing the Saudis with military assistance,” Marjorie Cohn writes for teleSUR.

“In November 2015, the US sold $1.29 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia. It included more than 10,000 bombs, munitions, and weapons parts manufactured by Raytheon and Boeing, as well as bunker busters, and laser-guided and ‘general purpose’ bombs.”

March 1, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Former Colombia President Alvaro Uribe’s Brother Arrested for Links to Death Squads

teleSUR | February 29, 2016

The brother of former Colombian President Alvro Uribe was arrested Monday accused of having ties with paramilitaries — also known as death squads — in the country as well as other crimes.

Santiago Uribe Velez was arrested in the coastal city of Medellin by officials from the attorney general’s office, who have long been monitoring the former president’s brother.

Velez is accused of forming and developing the paramilitary group known as “Los Doce Apostoles” (The Twelve Apostles) in the 1990s.

According to testimony by officials in the municipality of Yarumal in Velez’ home state of Antioquia, Velez was among a group of farmers who had the idea of forming an armed group to protect traders who were victims of extortion in the region.

The group then created an armed paramilitary unit in the 1990’s that committed various crimes, with the complicity of the Antioquia police department.

Juan Carlos Meneses, chief of police for Yarumal, said that when he arrived to the region in 1993, there was “a group of people doing cleaning, or social cleansing, or disappeared people who identify themselves as guerrillas, as thieves, as kidnappers, extortionists or even if they only had a vice, or vices. The only thing you have to do is, when that group goes to do a job, you have to collaborate with them.”

Meneses added that he would “collaborate” by giving Velez a sum of money every month and pointed out that Velez’ group had the full support of the state and national authorities, reported Colombian daily El Espectador.

While Uribe was president (2002-2010), his administration was tarnished by scandals. This included accusations of housing death squad members at his ranch in the 1980s — some of the most violent times in the country — when he was governor of Antioquia. He was accused of maintaining those ties while leading the country.

Paramilitary groups targeted not only guerrilla fighters, but also political opponents, left-wing activists, as well as academics and have been found guilty of committing numerous human rights abuses.

Even though these groups were technically demobilized between 2003-2006 under an agreement with the government, they continue to be a strong force across the country.

Human rights groups have long demanded that Uribe clarify his role, if any, in the formation of paramilitary groups. However, he has denied all allegations and continues to be active in politics, serving as a senator for the Center Democratic party.

March 1, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment

The FBI has been databasing suspicious memes and their creators for five years to silence political dissent

Blacklisted News | March 1, 2016

News has been making rounds across the internet that the FBI in collusion with the National Science Foundation has sunk nearly one million dollars into a program at the University of Indiana:

“The project is aimed at modeling the diffusion of information online and empirically discriminating among models of mechanisms driving the spread of memes. We explore why some ideas cause viral explosions while others are quickly forgotten. Our analysis goes beyond the traditional approach of applied epidemic diffusion processes and focuses on cascade size distributions and popularity time series in order to model the agents and processes driving the online diffusion of information, including: users and their topical interests, competition for user attention, and the chronological age of information. Completion of our project will result in a better understanding of information flow and could assist in elucidating the complex mechanisms that underlie a variety of human dynamics and organizations. The analysis will involve studying meme diffusion in large-scale social media by collecting and analyzing massive streams of public micro-blogging data.

The project stands to benefit both the research community and the public significantly. Our data will be made available via APIs and include information on meme propagation networks, statistical data, and relevant user and content features. The open-source platform we develop will be made publicly available and will be extensible to ever more research areas as a greater preponderance of human activities are replicated online. Additionally, we will create a web service open to the public for monitoring trends, bursts, and suspicious memes. This service could mitigate the diffusion of false and misleading ideas, detect hate speech and subversive propaganda, and assist in the preservation of open debate.

Using their system, dubbed Truthy, the group intends to track and differentiate memetic content made by normal everyday users and that of ‘professional political activists’ with the goal of eliminating false or misleading political information from social media ecosystems. Other research carried out by the project varies from analyses of meme propagation in specific geographical areas to understanding the viral nature of politically secular world affairs like the ongoing migrant crisis or the Occupy Wall Street movement when the average attention span of users is lower than that of a goldfish.

Even more suspiciously, one of the stated endgame goals of the project is to share the machine learning techniques gained from Truthy with future mass social media studies carried out by government and academia.

Curiously missing though from Truthy’s online dating profile is that she’s married to the FBI and LOVES sharing your dirty online secrets with her husband and his friends in Washington. Beginning in the Fall of 2014 Truthy began databasing not only suspicious memes but also the identity of their creators where the information will remain “forever, regardless of their innocence or guilt, or their intentions.” said lead FBI agent Paul Horner. “This database will be shared with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other agencies.”

“forever, regardless of their innocence or guilt, or their intentions. This database will be shared with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other agencies.”

Are we having fun yet?

March 1, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Afghanistan: The Forever-War We Never Question

By Charles Davis – teleSUR – February 29, 2016

The U.S. and NATO will never get out of Afghanistan if their leaders never even have to explain why they are there.

War is so normal in the United States of America — being in a constant state of it, somewhere else — that the longest-running foreign conflict in the country’s history is hardly even an afterthought in the race to become the nation’s next commander in chief.

In 17 televised debates and town halls, the Republicans and Democrats running for president have been asked all of two questions about the war in Afghanistan, now in its 15th year. The antiwar movement having died off with the election of President Barack Obama, who dramatically escalated the war before promising to end it, Afghanistan is of little concern outside a small room in Nevada where a U.S. pilot is remotely firing a Predator drone’s Hellfire missiles.

On the Republican side, Ben Carson was asked about Obama’s decision last year to “leave 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan” indefinitely. That was in November 2015, and Carson dodged the question, shifting to a question of his own — on humiliation as counterterrorism — that he posed as an answer. “How do we make them look like losers?” he asked, arguably elevating the discourse on foreign policy in this most humiliating of election campaigns.

No Republican has been asked about Afghanistan since. At nearly half of their debates, the name of the country hasn’t even been mentioned in passing.

As for the Democrats, voters might be forgiven for assuming there’s a stark difference between the progressive Bernie Sanders and the centrist Hillary Clinton.

Bernie volunteered at the first debate in October 2015 that he “supported the war in Afghanistan,” but the remark was ambiguous: Did he still support, or was he merely listing all the bombs he has supported dropping in the past, a prerequisite for someone seeking to occupy the White House. It wasn’t until February 2016 that either he or Clinton were asked a direct question about a U.S. occupation that’s halfway through its second decade.

“If President Obama leaves you 10,000 troops,” the moderator inquired, “how long do you think they’re going to be there?”

“Well, you can’t simply withdraw tomorrow,” said Sanders. “Wish we could, and allow, you know, the Taliban or anybody else to reclaim that country.” He then shifted to “destroying” the Islamic State group in Iraq. And that was that.

If Bernie did not actually answer the question, neither did Hillary, who was named secretary of state by the president who has chosen to break his promise to leave Afghanistan in favor of leaving those 10,000 troops instead. “I would have to make an evaluation based on the circumstances at the time I took office,” said Clinton, not really saying anything.

Afghanistan hasn’t come up again, perhaps because two old white people agreeing with each other does not make for great television. For years the war in Afghanistan was “the good one,” launched as it was just a month after the terrorist attacks on Sep. 11, 2001, with liberal Democrats spending the better part of a decade contrasting its justness with the “distraction” of invading and destroying Iraq.

Do Afghan Lives Matter?

Afghanistan’s absence from U.S. politics can also, perhaps, be attributed to the fact that those who are dying there today are not the U.S. military’s brave men and women, but Afghan civilians, as anonymous as they are innocent.

“For the most part I would blame racism in the media,” said Mohammed Harun Arsalai, a 34-year-old Afghan living in Kabul, in an interview with teleSUR. An independent journalist, Arsalai has seen firsthand that, as far as the rest of the world is concerned, Afghan lives don’t matter.

“I can point back to at least two examples in recent memory where a major, mainstream media outlet contacted me about footage and information on attacks taking place in Kabul against ‘Western targets,’” he said. One was a suicide car bomb attack on a French restaurant and the other was an attack on the Italian Embassy. “In both instances,” he said, “these outlets canceled their requests with me because no Westerners were injured. Afghan lives just aren’t worth as much to these people.”

On Feb. 27, the same day Clinton and Sanders were campaigning for votes in South Carolina, at least 26 people were killed and 50 wounded in suicide bombings across Afghanistan. No Westerners died, however, and so another day went by on the campaign trail where a war being waged 11,000 kilometers away went unmentioned.

If he had a chance to meet with any of the presidential contenders, Arsalai knows what he would say: “That the U.S. has no policy in Afghanistan.” The threat of a Taliban takeover is oft-cited as a reason to stay, but the U.S. “has said on multiple occasions now that they are not at war with the Taliban. What does that mean? What are they doing here then?”

“Afghans are killing Afghans,” said Arsalai, “while the U.S. is mainly confined to its bases using drones and airstrikes, basically acting as a manager of the violence.”

War Without an End

Matthew Hoh was one of the U.S. State Department’s senior officers in Afghanistan. He resigned in September 2009, protesting a war he accused the Obama administration of fighting without a clear idea as to “why and to what end.”

“Cut the crap,” Hoh would tell those — everyone running for president — who believe the U.S. presence is preventing an extremist takeover. “Our presence in Afghanistan, in particular our escalation of the war, has only made the Taliban stronger,” he told teleSUR.

In the months before Hoh resigned from the State Department, President Obama fulfilled a campaign promise and ordered a massive surge of troops in Afghanistan, increasing the size of the U.S. occupying force from 32,800 men and women at the time he took office in January 2009 to more than 100,000 by 2011, not counting private contractors. It was another campaign promise, made four years later, that he decided to break: the one about getting out.

The product of escalation has not been peace, but a surge in death for all sides, though in war as in capitalism, burdens are not distributed equally. Of the nearly 2,400 U.S. troops who have died in Afghanistan, more than 1,750 have died since Obama took office. But as in any war, the brunt of the violence has been felt by those on whose behalf it is ostensibly being fought: In 2015 alone, at least 3,545 civilians were violently killed, according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, while more than 7,400 were injured, making it the worst year on record for the Afghan people.

Overall, the war has killed around 100,000 people in Afghanistan, more than a quarter of them civilians, according to a study by researchers at Brown University. And the 30 million Afghans still living now face another threat: the Islamic State group, an extremist organization for those who deem the ultra-reactionary Taliban too moderate. “(M)ore than two-thirds (67.4 percent) of Afghans report that they always, often, or sometimes fear for their personal safety,” found a survey of nearly 10,000 people released in November 2015 by The Asia Foundation. “This is the highest rate since 2006.”

No Courage, No Peace

“By every standard of measurement,” Hoh said, “our military, economic and diplomatic campaigns under the Obama administration have worsened conditions for the average Afghan, increased popular support for the Taliban, and created an increasing factionalism and weakness in Afghan society that has allowed for a group like the Islamic State to find a welcoming base of support and enthusiastic adherents.”

After all, thanks to corrupt local warlords sometimes called “governors” and backed by the power and glory of the almighty U.S. military, many Afghans have come to learn that Taliban, ISIS or al-Qaida or not, getting in the way of corruption, or just living on land the corrupt desire, can be a ticket to a torture chamber at Bagram or an extended stay in an early grave. And if they can’t join the corrupted, some decide they might as well join the resistance, or what passes for it, whether they share its views on women and television or not.

But people prefer the comfort of simplicity and, so long as the dead is someone else’s kid, there’s no real price to pay for ignorance, or really anything to gain politically from denouncing an act that no one is angry about.

“The vast majority of Americans are unaffected by the war. It has no immediate costs for them and they bear no sacrifice,” said Hoh. Stirring that sorely lacking concern is, alas, asking for more than most media outlets are willing or capable.

“For the standard three-minute television story or 500-word print story,” Hoh argued, “upsetting the moral narrative of the ‘good war’ is too difficult to achieve, and it is something that would take moral courage to do, anyhow.” In the campaign press as with politicians on the campaign trail, there just isn’t a whole lot of that sort of thing, even in the best of times — and this, the age of austerity and Donald Trump, cannot be confused with that.

So, left unchallenged, even the populists will continue to shrug along with the status quo, not even bothering with the historic tradition of making anti-war promises to break, while Afghans will continue dying in a war that few ever bothered to understand.

Charles Davis is an editor at teleSUR. Follow him on Twitter @charliearchy

March 1, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , | Leave a comment

The Contrived Iran Threat

Another phony excuse for endless war

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • March 1, 2016

The Israeli Minister of Defense is now telling anyone who is willing to listen that the Iranian government is building an “international terror network that includes sleeper cells that are stockpiling arms, intelligence and operatives to be ready to strike on command in places including Europe and the U.S.” Moshe Yaalon elaborated that Iran intends to destabilize the entire Middle East as well as other parts of the world and is “training, funding and arming ‘emissaries’ to spread a revolution,” all emanating from a “dangerous axis” that includes Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa.

These preposterous claims come on top of spurious assertions that Iran was building a nuclear weapon, repeated assiduously by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others in his various administrations over the course of twenty years. As it turns out, Iran was not building a nuke and much of the information used to bolster the argument being made turned out to be fabricated by the Israelis themselves, which says something for their credibility.

Israel and its boosters in Washington also continue to argue that Iran has a secret nuclear program squirreled away somewhere, that it will use its windfall of nuclear agreement cash not only to support terrorism but also to speed up weapon development while also destabilizing the entire Middle East. And if those alarming arguments don’t convince the public, Israel’s government and its friends in the media continue to insist that even if Iran is behaving today its deal with the west will surely guarantee a much feared weapon of mass destruction down the road. Iran is the enemy of choice yesterday, today and tomorrow and it will always be the enemy of choice no matter what it does or does not do.

It is consequently a good thing that no one takes the Israelis seriously apart from the American media and the U.S. Congress, both of which have enabled the stitching together of a tissue of lies regarding Iranian intentions. But unfortunately the constant demonization of Iran is not confined to a pathological prime minister supported by a cadre of industrious internet savvy geeks hidden in a building somewhere in Tel Aviv who are able to garner the support of certain American constituencies. There are others who express concerns about Iran’s alleged hegemonistic tendencies, most notably America’s so-called allies Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. The Saudis take a position that is not so far from that of Israel regarding Iranian intentions, lending some credibility to the notion that on this issue at least the two countries are working together. They believe that Iran is seeking regional dominance and is the driving force behind nearly all of the violence that has wracked the Middle East for the past ten years, most definitely including Syria, where the Saudis see themselves fighting a proxy war by arming an insurgency that undeniably includes terrorist components.

How this Persian dominance would manifest itself remains somewhat of a mystery, as Iran is at best a second world economy currently being battered by low oil prices, possessing a tiny military budget by the standards of several of its regional adversaries. Much of its actual spending goes on up-to-date Russian made defense systems in the sure knowledge that it will sooner or later be attacked by someone.

Iran’s neighbors have significant air superiority relative to what Tehran can muster while the Iranian army is incapable of any sustained operations outside its borders. And getting the troops on target could be a bit of a problem as the U.S. Navy patrols, and controls, the Persian Gulf. So the argument regarding Iran’s aggressiveness in a conventional military sense has instead in some circles been redirected to make it fit into what is perceived as an ongoing war of aggression using surrogates, to include the Houthis in Yemen, support of the Bashar al-Assad government and Hezbollah “volunteers” in Syria. There is considerable chatter about how Persian Iran seeks to control an Arab “land bridge” extending across Iraq and Syria to Lebanon, though there is little serious speculation regarding why Tehran would want to waste its limited resources by extending itself in that fashion other than to limit its political isolation.

Indeed, the conflicts that are being attributed to Iran, including the civil war in Yemen and the ongoing crisis in Syria and Iraq can on one hand be seen as meddling but can even more plausibly be described as defensive, as Iran has for nearly forty years been on the receiving end of explicit threats from nearly all of its immediate nominally Sunni neighbors as well as from the United States and Israel.

Iranian influence vis-à-vis its neighbors does not equate to Iranian control. One might cite the status quo in Iraq, where fears of an Iranian dominance have been floated ever since the United States invaded the country in 2003 and subsequently failed at “democracy building.” Today’s Iraq surely has a respectful relationship with fellow majority Shia neighbor Iran but it is far from a rubber stamp for Iranian policies.

And another flaw in the Iran as local bully argument is the fact that while Tehran surely is engaged in intelligence operations directed against its perceived enemies and in supporting friends in Syria it has never used its military to directly attack anyone. Its aggressions pale in order of magnitude if one considers what both the United States and Israel have been up to, or even near neighbor Saudi Arabia. Iran was, in fact, on the receiving end of a military onslaught from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq supported by the United States between 1980 and 1988 in which Baghdad used chemical weapons on the Iranian soldiers. More than half a million Iranians died in that conflict.

So no one in the Middle East or even in Washington seriously believes that an invasion by the Iranians is about to take place or that Tehran constitutes some kind of serious threat. Even generally fear mongering Israel’s generals in their more lucid moments have admitted that Iran is not much of a threat. So the real Iranian threat, if there is one, is to be found somewhere else.

Israel surely needs Iran because it requires a powerful enemy to justify massive aid from Washington and Washington needs it to justify bloated defense budgets based on fear of the Iranian “other.” But the “threat” issue for the Arab states is quite different. I would suggest that it is demographic based on ethno-religious differences and that is actually what the Saudis and their close allies in the Emirates fear. Sunni rulers do not exactly trust the Shi’ite minorities in their countries and to a greater or lesser extent treat them badly, believing them to be both heretical and potentially disloyal. This is particularly true of Saudi Arabia, which has a population that is one sixth Shia concentrated in the eastern part of the country, which is also the oil producing region. The situation is worse for Kuwait, which is one third Shia, and Bahrain which is two-thirds. Yemen is nearly half, and it is the predominantly Shia Houthi tribesmen who are currently being attacked by the Saudis. Iraq is two thirds Shi’ite, but as it has a Shia dominated government it has an amicable relationship with Iran. In Syria the ruling Alawites are considered by the Sunni to be a form of Shi’ism and the Hezbollah of Lebanon are also predominantly Shia, with Shi’ites comprising nearly half of the country’s population.

Even though Shi’ites are far outnumbered by Sunni Muslims overall in the Middle East they are nevertheless strategically situated in certain countries and are present in sufficient numbers to be perceived as a problem by their Sunni autocrat rulers. So the Iranian threat is essentially bogus, but the schism between Sunni and Shi’ite in the Muslim world is not. It is a quarrel that goes back centuries and it behooves the United States to avoid getting suckered into a false narrative by opportunistic friends like and Saudis and Israelis seeking to depict a malignant and expansionistic Iran out to destabilize the entire Middle East. Iran may be many things depending on one’s perspective, but it is not a global or even much of a regional threat.

March 1, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | Leave a comment

End This British Atrocity

By Craig Murray | March 1, 2016

One of the worst atrocities of the British Empire occurred well within my own lifetime – the removal of an entire people, the Chagossians, from their homeland. Uprooted and deposited across the seas hundreds of miles away, many died from the physical and psychological effects of this crime against humanity. The thing is, it is still happening. The survivors have clung together as a community, and the British government are still actively preventing their return to their homeland – all to make way for an American military base on Diego Garcia. There is no reason other than simple Imperialism for America to maintain a military base in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

Probably the most breathtaking piece of hypocrisy in modern history was when New Labour proudly announced that they had demarcated the waters around the Chagos Islands as the world’s first total marine conservation area – purely so they could make it impossible for the fishing based island community ever to return.

It is of course another example of the unparalleled talent for hypocrisy of the British state that the same politicians who declare their willingness to fight and die for the right of self-determination of the Falkland Islanders, will defend the deportation of the Chagos Islanders and their continued exclusion from their own islands. Again I would stress that Labour have been at least as guilty as Tories. The entire British state is complicit in this atrocity.

I would urge everybody who reads this immediately to use this link to send a message to your MP. I should welcome feedback through the comments section on any responses received.

March 1, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Greece Detains Turkish Ship Carrying Weaponry, Heading towards Lebanon

Al-Manar | March 1, 2016

Local media outlets in Turkey reported that the Greek coast guard detained on Sunday a Turkish ship loaded with weaponry, adding that it was heading towards Lebanon.

The ship which took off from the Turkish city of Izmir on February 4 contained six containers, two of them holding weapons and munitions.

The Greek authorities also arrested all the crew members who are: six Syrians, four Indians and a Lebanese.

Al-Manar’s correspondent noted that the Turkish officials have not commented on the report.

It is worth noting that Turkey has been providing the terrorist groups in Syria with weaponry, inflaming the crisis which erupted in 2011.

March 1, 2016 Posted by | War Crimes | , | Leave a comment