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Turkish police raid opposition Zaman daily HQ, unleash tear gas & water cannon on protesters

RT | March 4, 2016

Turkish police used water cannon and tear gas to disperse crowds protesting outside the headquarters of the opposition Zaman newspaper. They moved in to secure the premises following a government decision to take over the management of the media group.

Part of the crowd appears to have taken cover inside of the building, as riot police moved in on protesters, according to live feed from the scene.

After clearing their way through the crowd in front of the newspaper’s HQ, the officers pushed their way inside the building.

“Throw him off the staircase!” one of the officers allegedly shouted, as the raid squad pushed one of the publication’s employees down to the hall, according to a tweet written by a Zaman employee.

Zaman Editor-in-Chief Sevgi Akarcesme said that during the raid she was pushed by police as authorities tried to take her out of the building.

“A police officer grabbed my phone forcefully while I was broadcasting on Periscope. I’ll sue him when the rule of law is back. Unbelievable!” she tweeted. “This is beyond comprehension! Such a sad day in Turkey!”

The daily confirmed that police had gone to the management floor in the building, and were preventing editors from entering their offices. The journalists were shut out of their offices while police allegedly confiscated their cell phones, according to reports on social media.

The raid began shortly before midnight after a day of standoffs between police and opposition protesters furious about what they call a government crackdown on the free press.

The biggest opposition publication is being accused by the state of alleged links to America-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the government accuses of attempting to topple the regime.

The decision by Istanbul 6th Criminal Court of Peace to de facto censor the publication was granted after the request of the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, that accused the publication of taking orders from what it called the “Fethullahist Terrorist Organization/Parallel State Structure (FETO/PDY).”

The prosecutor said that the alleged terrorist group is working together with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) with the aim of toppling the Turkish government.

To remedy the so-called “terrorist threat,” the court ruled to sack the entire management and the editorial team of Feza Media Group companies and to replace the entire group’s administration with a three-member board appointed by the state court.

Following the court ruling the newspaper editorial team released a statement through its English-language sister publication, Today’s Zaman, calling the takeover the “darkest and gloomiest” for the freedom of the press.

The statement added that “media organizations and journalists are being silenced via threats and blackmail.”

After the ruling, hundreds of people gathered outside the newspaper’s offices in Istanbul protesting against the move, before police allegedly fired tear gas at protesters as they stormed the head office building.

READ MORE: Court orders Turkish Zaman daily into administration, raising concerns of free press abuse

March 4, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment

A Nasty Piece of Work: Bill Maher’s Politics are Unreal

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By Eoin Higgins | February 28, 2016

I have a writing prompt on my blog’s dashboard reading: “Bill Maher’s latest repulsive comments.”

It’s a perennially useful prompt, even though most of what I write about him doesn’t see print.

The nominally liberal comedian uses his weekly discussion show on HBO, Real Time With Bill Maher, to pretentiously preen to a reliably sycophantic audience and spread xenophobic hate speech, barely veiled racism, and dismissive misogyny. It’s a nasty piece of work that enjoys a substantial influence in mainstream liberal circles.

Maher’s base is expanding out of the liberal mainstream, though, thanks to his virulent hatred of Islam and its adherents. Much like evangelical atheist Richard Dawkins, whose views on Islam and the Global South have won him fans across the rising right wing in Europe, Maher is enjoying something of a career renaissance as he garners praise from the American hard right.

Maher’s speechifying last week was at its most inspired when he was speaking with his new buddy Michael Hayden, the former head of the CIA. Hayden came on the show to promote his new memoir/torture apologia. Maher had a lot of fun squawking to one of the architects of the modern surveillance state about how Apple should give the FBI the tech to unlock the iPhone- tech the company claims it has specifically not designed in response to consumer concerns over privacy.

Bad enough, but the real horror show came, as it often does, on the internet-only post-show discussion called “Overtime.”

During Overtime on February 26, Maher and his guests debated the efficacy and wisdom of closing the extralegal Guantanamo Bay Prison Camp which houses upwards of seventy men who have never been tried for any crimes. Most men in the prison were scooped up in the aftermath of the immediate US invasion and destruction of Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks.

Now, Maher is on the right side here- he believes the prison should be closed and the prisoners given trials- but for the wrong reason. Maher thinks the US should give the Guantanamo Bay prisoners trials because “it works.”

“It works.”

This sounds reasonable enough. It’s not.

What constitutes the judicial system “working” in trying terror suspects in Bill Maher’s world? Why, it’s the fact that the trials have a 100 percent success rate.

That success rate is not necessarily an indication of guilt.

The trial process is heavily weighted towards the prosecution. Much of the evidence that is presented at these trials is deemed far too sensitive for the public and a threat to national security. The deck is so stacked against the defense that the entire process functions more as going through the motions; a military tribunal rather than an actual trial.

This is the system that Maher believes works- a system that is designed to maintain the power of the state to the detriment of the powerless, irrespective of their crimes- because it reliably returns the result he believes it should.

It’s the same logical fallacy that maintains inequality of power, access, and justice, promoted by the same kind of person the fallacy requires: An ignorant, well-to-do blowhard, untouched by the reality of the inequity, all too ready to trumpet it to his receptive audience.

Like Bill Maher.

I couldn’t fit the rest of Maher’s comments from this week into the story, but they can be found here.

March 4, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Israeli authorities demolished 183 Palestinian buildings in February

MEMO | March 4, 2016

The Israeli authorities demolished around 97 homes and 86 facilities in the West Bank in February under the pretext of “illegal construction”, according to a statistical report released Thursday by the Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ).

The Palestinian institute also said that demolition orders and orders to stop construction were issued to a further 139 houses and facilities.

An estimated 653 dunums of Palestinian land in various parts of the West Bank is also facing confiscation orders.

Ghassan Doughlas, a Palestinian official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, has said there has been an escalation in the policy of demolishing homes and institutions in 2016.

In an interview with Quds Press, Doughlas stressed that the demolitions aim to displace Palestinians in order to “bring the settlers on the ruins of the Palestinians’ homes”.

“The occupation has used the demolition policy as a way to put pressure on the Palestinians so to empty the region classified as Area C in the West Bank,” adding that the demolitions are part of a policy of “collective punishment”.

March 4, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 1 Comment

Blair excluded MoD from strategic discussions on 2003 Iraq invasion

RT | March 4, 2016

Senior officials in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) were excluded from talks in the run-up to Britain’s 2003 invasion of Iraq by former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, an explosive new biography claims.

‘Broken Vows’ was authored by investigative journalist Tom Bower, and is due to be published later this month. Drawing from interviews with key sources, it paints a damning portrait of Blair’s conduct in and out of office.

In its pages, Bower alleges that the MoD was omitted from key discussions on Iraq despite the fact it is responsible for sending British troops on foreign missions.

Bower says that Sir Kevin Tebbit, the top civil servant in the MoD at the time of the invasion, phoned Blair’s foreign affairs adviser Sir David Manning to enquire why the MoD was being excluded from the conversation.

“How can you plan a war without the head of the Ministry of Defence?” Tebbit is quoted as asking Manning.

Manning reportedly replied: “We can’t have you because we would then have to include the permanent secretaries of the Foreign Office and DFID [the Department for International Development] and we don’t want Michael Jay [then permanent secretary at the Foreign Office] and Clare Short [the development secretary] involved.”

Bower said Blair rejected MoD advice about the movement of manpower and the supply of equipment prior to and after the invasion. He said that Blair did not want Tebbit’s advice because he would inevitably have challenged the former PM.

Bowers went on to suggest that Britain’s Iraq policies were wrought from the heart of Number 10 and Blair preferred to speak to Britain’s then-Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon about the war.

Although Hoon was included in the discussions, Bowers notes his involvement was also limited.

“Unlike education or the NHS, Blair cared little about defense and, as Hoon discovered, never discussed detail,” Bowers wrote.

“Blair’s detachment meant he resisted providing the services with sufficient money to fulfill their task, thus scuttling the military’s inviolability.”

‘Broken Vows’ explores Blair’s decade in power, his resignation from the prestigious role of Middle East peace envoy and the commercial empire he constructed advising tyrants and tycoons in the Middle East, Asia and elsewhere.

In scrupulous detail, Bowers uncovers how Blair “blurred” the lines between his commercial interests and charity work, was branded pro-Israel while occupying the role of Middle East peace envoy, and benefitted from classified intelligence data while hunting for lucrative business deals with far-flung regimes.

Bowers also notes that Blair accepted money from questionable sources. A firm called PetroSaudi reportedly paid the former PM £41,000 (US$58,000) per month and a 2 percent commission on each contract he brokered with wealthy Chinese officials. However, the lucrative arrangement came to a close after Blair was accused of bribing Malaysian officials.

The former Labour PM also brokered a £20 million contract to conduct a review of the Kuwaiti economy, according to the book. Remarkably, Kuwait’s government was so irked by Blair’s findings it buried the review.

March 4, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

The Caesar photo fraud that undermined Syrian negotiations

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By Rick Sterling | American Herald Tribune | March 4, 2016

A 30 page investigative report on the “Caesar Torture Photos” has been released and is available online here. The following is a condensed version of the report. Readers who are especially interested are advised to get the full report which includes additional details, photographs, sources and recommendations. 

Introduction

There is a pattern of sensational but untrue reports that lead to public acceptance of US and Western military intervention in countries around the world:

* In Gulf War 1, there were reports of Iraqi troops stealing incubators from Kuwait, leaving babies to die on the cold floor. Relying on the testimony of a Red Crescent doctor, Amnesty Interenational ‘verified’ the false claims.

* Ten years later, there were reports of yellow cake uranium going to Iraq for development of weapons of mass destruction.

* One decade later, there were reports of Libyan soldiers drugged on viagra and raping women as they advanced.

* In 2012, NBC broadcaster Richard Engel was supposedly kidnapped by pro-Assad Syrian militia but luckily freed by Syrian opposition fighters, the “Free Syrian Army”.

All these reports were later confirmed to be fabrications and lies. They all had the goal of manipulating public opinion and they all succeeded in one way or another. Despite the consequences, which were often disastrous, none of the perpetrators were punished or paid any price.

It has been famously said “Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.” This report is a critical review of the “Caesar Torture Photos” story. As will be shown, there is strong evidence the accusations are entirely or substantially false.

Overview of ‘Caesar Torture Photos’

On 20 January 2014, two days before negotiations about the Syrian conflict were scheduled to begin in Switzerland, a sensational report burst onto television and front pages around the world. The story was that a former Syrian army photographer had 55,000 photographs documenting the torture and killing of 11,000 detainees by the Syrian security establishment.

The Syrian photographer was given the code-name ‘Caesar’. The story became known as the “Caesar Torture Photos”. A team of lawyers plus digital and forensic experts were hired by the Carter-Ruck law firm, on contract to Qatar,  to go to the Middle East and check the veracity of “Caesar” and his story. They concluded that “Caesar” was truthful and the photographs indicated “industrial scale killing”. CNN, London’s Guardian and LeMonde broke the story which was subsequently broadcast in news reports around the world. The Caesar photo accusations were announced as negotiations began in Switzerland. With the opposition demanding the resignation of the Syrian government, negotiations quickly broke down.

For the past two years the story has been preserved with occasional bursts of publicity and supposedly corroborating reports. Most recently, in December 2015 Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report titled “If the Dead Could Speak” with significant focus on the Caesar accusations.

Following are 12 significant problems with the ‘Caesar torture photos’ story.

1. Almost half the photos show the opposite of the allegations.

The Carter Ruck Inquiry Team claimed there were about 55,000 photos total with about half of them taken by  ‘Caesar’ and the other half by other photographers. The Carter Ruck team claimed the photos were all ‘similar’. Together they are all known as ‘Caesar’s Torture Photos’.

The photographs are in the custody of an opposition organization called the Syrian Association for Missing and Conscience Detainees (SAFMCD). In 2015, they allowed Human Rights Watch (HRW) to study all the photographs which have otherwise been secret. In December 2015, HRW released their report titled “If the Dead Could Speak”. The biggest revelation is that over 46% of the photographs (24,568) do not show people ‘tortured to death” by the Syrian government.  On the contrary, they show dead Syrian soldiers and victims of car bombs and other violence (HRW pp2-3). Thus, nearly half the photos show the opposite of what was alleged. These photos, never revealed to the public, confirm that the opposition is violent and has killed large numbers of Syrian security forces and civilians.

2. The claim that other photos only show ‘tortured detainees’ is exaggerated or false.

The Carter Ruck report says ‘Caesar’ only photographed bodies brought from Syrian government detention centers. In their December 2015 report, HRW said, “The largest category of photographs, 28,707 images, are photographs Human Rights Watch understands to have died in government custody, either in one of several detention facilities or after being transferred to a military hospital.” They estimate 6,786 dead individuals in the set.

The photos and the deceased are real, but how they died and the circumstances are unclear. There is strong evidence some died in conflict. Others died in the hospital. Others died and their bodies were decomposing before they were picked up. These photographs seem to document a war time situation where many combatants and civilians are killed. It seems the military hospital was doing what it had always done: maintaining a photographic and documentary record of the deceased. Bodies were picked up by different military or intelligence branches. While some may have died in detention; the great majority probably died in the conflict zones. The accusations by ‘Caesar’, the Carter Ruck report and HRW that these are all victims of “death in detention” or “death by torture” or death in ‘government custody” are almost certainly false.

3. The true identity of “Caesar” is probably not as claimed.

The Carter Ruck Report says “This witness who defected from Syria and who had been working for the Syrian government was given the code-name ‘Caesar’ by the inquiry team to protect the witness and members of his family.” (CRR p12) However if his story is true, it would be easy for the Syrian government to determine who he really is. After all, how many military photographers took photos at Tishreen and Military 601 Hospitals during those years and then disappeared? According to the Carter Ruck report, Caesar’s family left Syria around the same time. Considering this, why is “Caesar” keeping his identity secret from the western audience? Why does “Caesar” refuse to meet even with highly sympathetic journalists or researchers?

The fact that 46% of the total photographic set is substantially the opposite of what was claimed indicates two possibilities:

* Caesar and his promoters knew the contents but lied about them expecting nobody to look.

* Caesar and his promoters did not know the contents and falsely assumed they were like the others.

The latter seems more likely which supports the theory that Caesar is not who he claims to be.

4. The Carter Ruck Inquiry was faulty, rushed and politically biased.

The credibility of the “Caesar” story has been substantially based on the Carter-Ruck Inquiry Team which “verified” the defecting photographer and his photographs. The following facts suggest the team was biased with a political motive:

* the investigation was financed by the government of Qatar which is a major supporter of the armed opposition.

* the contracted law firm, Carter Ruck and Co, has previously represented Turkey’s President Erdogan, also known for his avid support of the armed opposition.

* the American on the legal inquiry team, Prof David M. Crane, has a long history working for U.S. Dept of Defense and Defense Intelligence Agency. The U.S. Government has been deeply involved in the attempt at ‘regime change’ with demands that ‘Assad must go’ beginning in summer 2011 and continuing until recently.

* Prof Crane is personally partisan in the conflict. He has campaigned for a Syrian War Crimes Tribunal and testified before Congress in October 2013, three months before the Caesar revelations.

* by their own admission, the inquiry team was under “time constraints” (CRR, p11).

* by their own admission, the inquiry team did not even survey most of the photographs

* the inquiry team was either ignorant of the content or intentionally lied about the 46% showing dead Syrian soldiers and attack victims.

* the inquiry team did their last interview with “Caesar” on January 18, quickly finalized a report and rushed it into the media on January 20, two days prior to the start of UN sponsored negotiations.

The self-proclaimed “rigor” of the Carter Ruck investigation is without foundation. The claims to a ‘scientific’ investigation are similarly without substance and verging on the ludicrous.

5.  The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is involved.

In an interview on France24, Prof. David Crane of the inquiry team describes how ‘Caesar’ was brought to meet them by “his handler, his case officer”. The expression ‘case officer’ usually refers to the CIA. This would be a common expression for Prof. Crane who previously worked in the Defense Intelligence Agency.  The involvement of the CIA additionally makes sense since there was a CIA budget of $1Billion for Syria operations in 2013.

Prof. Crane’s “Syria Accountability Project” is based at Syracuse University where the CIA actively recruits new officers despite student resistance.

Why does it matter if the CIA is connected to the ‘Caesar’ story? Because the CIA has a long history of disinformation campaigns. In 2011, false reports of viagra fueled rape by Libyan soldiers were widely broadcast in western media as the U.S. pushed for a military mandate. Decades earlier, the world was shocked to hear about Cuban troops fighting in Angola raping Angolan women. The CIA chief of station for Angola, John Stockwell, later described how they invented the false report and spread it round the world.  The CIA was very proud of that disinformation achievement. Stockwell’s book, “In Search of Enemies” is still relevant.

6. The prosecutors portray simple administrative procedures as mysterious and sinister.

The Carter Ruck inquiry team falsely claimed there were about 11,000 tortured and killed detainees. They then posed the question: Why would the Syrian government photograph and document the people they just killed? The Carter Ruck Report speculates that the military hospital photographed the dead to prove that the “orders to kill” had been followed. The “orders to kill” are assumed.

A more logical explanation is that dead bodies were photographed as part of normal hospital / morgue procedure to maintain a file of the deceased who were received or treated at the hospital.

The same applies to the body labeling / numbering system. The Carter Ruck report suggests there is something mysterious and possibly sinister in the coded tagging system. But all morgues need to have a tagging and identification system.

7. The photos have been manipulated.

Many of the photos at the SAFMCD website have been manipulated. The information card and tape identity are covered over and sections of documents are obscured. It must have been very time consuming to do this for thousands of photos. The explanation that they are doing this to ‘protect identity’ is not credible since the faces of victims are visible. What are they hiding?

8. The Photo Catalog has duplicates and other errors.

There are numerous errors and anomalies in the photo catalog as presented at the SAFMCD website.

For example, some deceased persons are shown twice with different case numbers and dates.

There are other errors where different individuals are given the same identity number.

Researcher Adam Larson at A Closer Look at Syria website has done detailed investigation which reveals more errors and curious error patterns in the SAFMCD photo catalog.

9. With few exceptions, Western media uncritically accepted and promoted the story.

The Carter Ruck report was labeled “Confidential” but distributed to CNN, the Guardian and LeMonde.

CNN’s Christiane Amanpour gushed the story as she interviewed three of the inquiry team under the headline “EXCLUSIVE: Gruesome Syria photos may prove torture by Assad regime”. Critical journalism was replaced by leading questions and affirmation. David Crane said “This is a smoking gun”.  Desmond de Silva “likened the images to those of holocaust survivors”.

The Guardian report was titled “Syrian regime document trove shows evidence of ‘industrial scale’ killing of detainees” with subtitle “Senior war crimes prosecutors say photographs and documents provide ‘clear evidence’ of systematic killing of 11,000 detainees”

One of the very few skeptical reports was by Dan Murphy in the Christian Science Monitor.  Murphy echoed standard accusations about Syria but went on to say incisively, “the report itself is nowhere near as credible as it makes out and should be viewed for what it is: A well-timed propaganda exercise funded by Qatar, a regime opponent who has funded rebels fighting Assad who have committed war crimes of their own.”

Unfortunately that was one of very few critical reports in the mainstream media.

In 2012, foreign affairs journalist Jonathan Steele wrote an article describing the overall media bias on Syria.. His article was titled “Most Syrians back Assad but you’d never know from western media”. The media campaign and propaganda has continued without stop. It was in this context that the Carter Ruck Report was delivered and widely accepted without question.

10. Politicians have used the Caesar story to push for more US/NATO aggression. 

Politicians seeking direct US intervention for ‘regime change’ in Syria were quick to accept and broadcast the ‘Caesar’ story. They used it to demonize the Assad government and argue that the US must act so as to prevent “another holocaust’, ‘another Rwanda’, ‘another Cambodia’.

When Caesar’s photos were displayed at the House Foreign Affairs Committee in Congress, Chairman Ed Royce said “It is far past time that the world act…. It is far past time for the United States to say there is going to be a safe zone across this area in northern Syria.”

The top ranking Democrat in the House Foreign Affairs Committee is Eliot Engel. In November 2015 he said “We’re reminded of the photographer, known as Caesar, who sat in this room a year ago, showing us in searing, graphic detail what Assad has done to his own people.” Engel went on to advocate for a new authorization for the use of military force.

Rep Adam Kinzinger is another advocate for aggression against Syria. At an event at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in July 2015 he said, “If we want to destroy ISIS we have to destroy the incubator of ISIS, Bashar al-Assad.”

The irony and hypocrisy is doubly profound since Rep Kinzinger has met and coordinated with opposition leader Okaidi who is a confirmed ally of ISIS. In contrast with Kinzinger’s false claims, it is widely known that ISIS ideology and initial funding came from Saudi Arabia and much of its recent wealth from oil sales via Turkey.  The Syrian Army has fought huge battles against ISIS, winning some but losing others with horrific scenes of mass beheading.  

11. The Human Rights Watch assessment is biased.

HRW has been very active around Syria. After the chemical attacks in greater Damascus on August 21, 2013, HRW rushed a report which concluded that, based on a vector analysis of incoming projectiles, the source of the sarin carrying rockets must have been Syrian government territory. This analysis was later debunked as a “junk heap of bad evidence” by highly respected investigative journalist Robert Parry. HRW’s assumption about the chemical weapon rocket flight distance was faulty. Additionally it was unrealistic to think you could determine rocket trajectory with 1% accuracy from a canister on the ground.  To think you could determine flight trajectory from a canister on the ground that had deflected off a building wall was preposterous.

In spite of this, HRW stuck by its analysis which blamed the Assad government. HRW Director Ken Roth publicly indicated dissatisfaction when an agreement to remove Syrian chemical weapons was reached. Mr. Roth wanted more than a ‘symbolic’ attack.

In light of the preceding, we note the December 2015 HRW report addressing the claims of Caesar.

HRW seems to be the only non-governmental organization to receive the full set of photo files from the custodian. To its credit, HRW acknowledged that nearly half the photos do not show what has been claimed for two years: they show dead Syrian soldiers and militia along with scenes from crime scenes, car bombings, etc…

But HRW’s bias is clearly shown in how they handle this huge contradiction. Amazingly, they suggest the incorrectly identified photographs support the overall claim. They say, “This report focuses on deaths in detention. However other types of photographs are also important. From an evidentiary perspective, they reinforce the credibility of the claims of Caesar about his role as a forensic photographer of the Syrian security forces or at least with someone who has access to their photographs.” (HRW, p31) This seems like saying if someone lies to you half the time that proves they are truthful.

The files disprove the assertion that the files all show tortured and killed. The photographs show a wide range of deceased persons, from Syrian soldiers to Syrian militia members to opposition fighters to civilians trapped in conflict zones to regular deaths in the military hospital. There may be some photos of detainees who died in custody after being tortured, or who were simply executed. We know that this happened in Iraqi detention centers under U.S. occupation. Ugly and brutal things happen in war times. But the facts strongly suggest that the ‘Caesar’ account is basically untrue or a gross exaggeration.

It is striking that the HRW report has no acknowledgment of the war conditions and circumstances in Syria. There is no acknowledgment that the government and Syrian Arab Army have been under attack by tens of thousands of weaponized fighters openly funded and supported by many of the wealthiest countries in the world.

There is no hint at the huge loss of life suffered by the Syrian army and supporters defending their country. The current estimates indicate from eighty to one hundred and twenty thousand Syrian soldiers, militia and allies having died in the conflict. During the three years 2011 – 2013, including the period covered by Caesar photos, it is estimated that over 52,000 Syrian soldiers and civilian militia died versus 29,000 anti-government forces.

HRW had access to the full set of photographs including the Syrian army and civilian militia members killed in the conflict. Why did they not list the number of Syrian soldiers and security forces they identified? Why did they not show a single image of those victims?

HRW goes beyond endorsing the falsehoods in the ‘Caesar’ story; they suggest it is a partial listing. On page 5 the report says, “Therefore, the number of bodies from detention facilities that appear in the Caesar photographs represent only a part of those who died in detention in Damascus.”

On the contrary, the Caesar photographs seem to mostly show victims who died in a variety of ways in the armed conflict. The HRW assertions seem to be biased and inaccurate.

12. The legal accusations are biased and ignore the supreme crime of aggression.

The Christian Science Monitor journalist Dan Murphy gave an apt warning in his article on the Carter Ruck report about ‘Caesar’. While many journalists treated the prosecutors with uncritical deference, he said, “Association with war crime prosecutions is no guarantor of credibility – far from it. Just consider Luis Moreno Ocampo’s absurd claims about Viagra and mass rape in Muammar Qaddafi’s Libya in 2011. War crimes prosecutors have, unsurprisingly, a bias towards wanting to bolster cases against people they consider war criminals (like Assad or Qaddafi) and so should be treated with caution. They also frequently favor, as a class, humanitarian interventions.”

The Carter Ruck legal team demonstrated how accurate those cautions were. They were eager to accuse the Syrian government of “crimes against humanity” but the evidence of “industrial killing”, “mass killing”, “torturing to kill” is dubious and much of the hard evidence shows something else.

In contrast, there is clear and solid evidence that a “Crime against Peace” is being committed against Syria. It is public knowledge that the “armed opposition” in Syria has been funded, supplied and supported in myriad ways by various outside governments. Most of the fighters, both Syrian and foreign, receive salaries from one or another outside power. Their supplies, weapons and necessary equipment are all supplied to them. Like the “Contras” in Nicaragua in the 1980’s, the use of such proxy armies is a violation of customary international law.

It is also a violation of the UN Charter which says “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any  other matter inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations”.

The government of Qatar has been a major supporter of the mercenaries and fanatics attacking the sovereign state of Syria. Given that fact, isn’t it hugely ironic to hear the legal contractors for Qatar accusing the Syrian government of “crimes against humanity”?

Isn’t it time for the United Nations to make reforms so that it can start living up to its purposes? That will require demanding and enforcing compliance with the UN Charter and International Law.

March 4, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Trump Bashing Reaches Epic Proportions

By Stephen Lendman | March 4, 2016

Ideologically he’s over-the-top like all other duopoly power presidential aspirants, supporting the same dirty business as usual agenda.

His unorthodox campaigning against the grain sounding anti-establishment put him at odds with Republican power brokers.

They’re committed to anyone but him – with, as expected, echo chamber scoundrel media backing. Bashing him virtually drowns out other news.

A separate article discussed Republican desperation in hauling out failed presidential aspirant Mitt Romney, a vulture capital predator profiting from asset-stripping companies and mass-firings to cut costs.

The March 4 Washington Post edition published an astonishing nine anti-Trump opinion pieces in one issue, plus other reports with a distinct anti-Trump flavor.

New York Times editors bash him relentlessly, while shamelessly supporting war goddess Hillary Clinton, their latest broadside citing an open letter from 95 so-called Republican national security experts, declaring “united… opposition to a Donald Trump presidency,” followed by a volley of pejoratives.

Claiming Trump’s agenda makes America less safe ignores endless post-9/11 US wars of aggression, raging in multiple theaters, Obama more belligerent than Bush, Hillary Clinton to continue his ruthlessness on steroids if elected president.

Times op-ed columnist Charles Blow blasted Trump with a volley of pejoratives, most applicable to the array of despicable aspirants, calling him “nativist, sexist… fascist,” demagogic, “oddly entertaining, vacuous… vain, disarming and terrifyingly dangerous.”

Wall Street Journal contributor, former Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal was over-the-top claiming Obama created Trump, his support stemming from “deficiencies of the incumbent.”

The political silly season usually runs from early summer to the beginning of autumn in election years – characterized by demagogic and hyperbolic posturing.

It’s been raging now since Trump declared his candidacy for president in mid-June last year – with comments like America “has become a dumping ground for everybody’s problems.”

“(W)e have no protection and we have no competence. We don’t know what’s happening. (I)t’s got to stop, and it’s got to stop fast.”

Things have been downhill since then. Expect ferocious Trump bashing to continue, bipartisan campaigning and media coverage ignoring vital issues.

What matters most to Americans goes unaddressed. No matter who succeeds Obama next January, monied interests exclusively will continue being served at the expense of popular ones.

The state of America is deplorable, a nation unfit to live in except for its privileged few.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

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

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

March 4, 2016 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite | , | Leave a comment

Japan Decides to Stop Works on US Airbase Relocation in Okinawa

Sputnik | March 4, 2016

TOKYO  — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has decided to halt landfill work on the Henoko coastal area of Nago city in Okinawa for the relocation of a US airbase under a court-mediated settlement plan, Defense Minister Gen Nakatani said Friday.

“The government has decided to accept the court-mediated settlement plan,” Nakatani said as quoted by Kyodo news agency.

Litigation between the authorities of the Okinawa prefecture and the central Japanese government is due to be completed under the settlement plan. The parties are expected to hold consultations to work out an acceptable final solution.The relocation of the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma was agreed on in 2006. Current plans envision the base to be closed by February 2019 and relocated within the Okinawa prefecture.

The relocation decision has met resistance from Okinawa’s local authorities, with many Okinawa residents wishing to see the base gone rather than relocated. Okinawa Prefecture Governor Takeshi Onaga convinced the central government to temporarily halt construction in August 2015.

Elected in 2014, Onaga ran on promises to oppose the airbase’s construction. In mid-November, the Okinawa government was sued by the central government over the dispute.

March 4, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Daesh Receiving Assistance From Turkey ‘With Ankara’s Tacit Approval’

Sputnik – March 4, 2016

Mounting evidence appears to indicate that Turkey is providing extensive support to Daesh and al-Nusra Front, the two key terrorist organizations that have turned Syria into ruins and wreak chaos elsewhere.

“Taking publicly available information into account, we’ve come to the conclusion that Turkey has directly or indirectly served as Daesh’s mediator and ally by helping the radical group to prepare and commit terrorist acts, acquire necessary resources and recruit new fighters,” Ertuğrul Kürkçü, the current Honorary President of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), told Sputnik.

Despite its tough anti-Daesh rhetoric, the Turkish leadership has done nothing to dismantle the existing terrorist network in the country. “After so many horrible terrorist acts, not a single real participant or mastermind has been arrested,” the Turkish politician observed.

Kürkçü also mentioned that some in the Turkish military and law enforcement agencies are in direct contact with the terrorist group. He was referring to a recent report, released by the Cumhuriyet newspaper.

The opposition daily published transcripts of several phone conversations between unnamed Turkish officers and a key Daesh operative in the region bordering Syria. The documents appear to show that Turkish officers not only frequently communicated, but worked with the militants.

It follows then that “at the moment Daesh receives support and recruits with the tacit approval of the Turkish government, as well as the country’s president and prime minister,” Kürkçü concluded.

Meanwhile, RT has published footage shot on the outskirts of the Syrian town of Azaz, which is controlled by al-Nusra Front militants. The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) have been unable to liberate Azaz because Turkish forces shelled the area.

The YPG told RT’s Lizzie Phelan that al-Nusra Front fighters receive regular supplies of weapons from Turkey.

“We can actually see here the important border town of Azaz, that Turkey is determined to prevent YPG from taking. Just a little beyond that you can see the Bab al-Salam border crossing and a heavy flow of vehicles coming from Turkey into Azaz,” the RT correspondent narrated.

March 4, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Turkey ‘protects & supplies’ Al-Nusra camps at its border – Syria’s YPG

March 4, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Video | , , , | Leave a comment

Indigenous Governor in Colombia Assassinated

indigenous_colombian_leader.jpg_1718483346

Politician and member of the Yanacona community, William Alexander Joiner, was shot three times and killed Wednesday. | Photo: ONIC
teleSUR – March 3, 2016

An Indigenous lawmaker from Colombia’s southern department of Cauca was shot and killed Wednesday, in what officials think may have been a targeted or political assassination.

William Alexander Joiner, a lawmaker from the municipality of Rio Blanco and member of the Yanacona community, was shot by passing motorcyclists while in the capital of Cauca, Popoyan.

Eyewitnesses reported that the Indigenous governor was shot three times by three riders in the city’s historical center. Joiner was taken to University Hospital, San Jose de Popayan, where he later died.

Col. Pedro Rodelo Asfora, commander of the Metropolitan Police of Popoyan, said a reward of US$3,000 (10 million pesos) will be offered for anyone with information leading to the identification of the culprits.

Colonel Asfora said officials do not believe allegations that it was a robbery, and have not ruled out the possibility that it may have been a targeted attack.

The National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC), and its offices across the country, have condemned Joiner’s killing, saying it is part of a larger strategy to exterminate Indigenous leaders and people.

The ONIC, with its 47 subsidiaries across the country, as well as the National Indigenous Movement have demanded that the relevant authorities be assigned to investigate the crime, and that the culprits do not go unpunished.

March 4, 2016 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture | , | Leave a comment

Obama Renews Decree Calling Venezuela a ‘Threat’

teleSUR | March 3, 2016

U.S. President Barack Obama renewed Thursday an executive order issued last March that declared Venezuela “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

The renewal of the decree is valid for one year and was revealed in a letter from Obama to congressional leaders. In the letter, the U.S. president claims that alleged conditions that first prompted the order had “not improved.”

The executive order was first issued by Obama in March 2015 and provoked a storm of controversy inside Venezuela and a backlash throughout Latin America.

Leaders from throughout the region condemned the decree.

All 33 members of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States expressed their opposition to the U.S. government’s move and called for it to be reversed.

“CELAC calls upon the government of the United States of America and the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to launch a dialogue, under the principles of respect for sovereignty, non-interference in the internal affairs of the states, the self-determination of the peoples and the democratic and institutional order in line with international law,” read the unanimous statement by the regional bloc.

The United Nations of South America also strongly criticized Obama’s order.

Inside Venezuela, millions signed a petition asserting that the country was not a threat and called for the decree to be repealed.

The U.S. president eventually responded to the outcry, admitting that Venezuela “does not pose a threat” to the United States in an interview with EFE.

The order allows the U.S. government to impose sanctions on Venezuela.

March 4, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | 3 Comments

Nobel Prize winner tells Obama to stay away from Argentina on US-backed coup anniversary

RT | March 4, 2016

A former Argentine Nobel Prize winner says US President Barack Obama should skip or at least delay his intended visit to the country on March 24 because it coincides with the 40th anniversary of a coup that installed a Washington-backed military government.

Adolfo Perez Esquivel says he is happy that the US president would like to visit Argentina, only he believes that Obama should travel to the country at a later date due to the sensitivity of the anniversary.

“I’m a survivor of that era, of the flights of death, of the torture, of the prisons, of the exiles,” Esquivel told AP. “And when you analyze the situation in depth, the United States was responsible for the coups in Latin America.”

Esquivel won the Nobel Prize in 1980 for defending human rights under Argentina’s dictatorship, which spanned from 1976 until 1983. On March 24, 1976, a military coup toppled Isabel Peron’s government. Human rights groups estimate that around 30,000 people were killed or simply disappeared under the military government.

The current Argentine President Mauricio Macri is trying to improve relations with the US, which were frosty under his predecessor Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. He says he has met with human rights groups to try and placate the situation. However, the rights groups are less than impressed.

Obama “is the false face of the Nobel Prize and we believe there are many things he should pay for,” Hebe de Bonafini, president of iconic human rights group Mothers of Plaza the Mayo, told AP. “We don’t want him here.”

The US president plans to visit Argentina on March 23, after making a historic trip to Cuba. The US Ambassador to Argentina Noah Clarin said that Obama would not be able to change his plans and would have to come on the planned dates.

Obama, like Esquivel, is also a Nobel Prize winner, having won the award in 2009. In fact Esquivel was one of twelve previous winners of the Nobel Peace Prize to urge fellow laureate Obama to release a CIA torture report.

The laureates wrote in October, 2014 in an open letter that called for “full disclosure to the American people of the extent and use of torture and rendition by American soldiers, operatives, and contractors, as well as the authorization of torture and rendition by American officials.”

The letter called on Obama, who won the accolade after spending less than a year in the White House, to follow principles of international law outlined in the UN Convention Against Torture and the Geneva Conventions.

March 4, 2016 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment