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Murder Epidemic Halts Colombia’s Peace Process

By W. T. Whitney | CounterPunch | March 24, 2016

Paramilitaries and armed thugs have long sullied politics in Latin America, most notably in Colombia and recently in Honduras. A recent increase in politically motivated killings in Colombia coincided with final preparations for signing a peace agreement between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian government, at war for 50 years. The much anticipated accord never materialized.

In Honduras the murder of longtime environmental and indigenous rights activist Berta Cáceres caps a wave of killings there of journalists, teachers, women, and especially of agrarian rights activists.

Governments and private parties serving predatory interests evidently regard terror at the hands of thugs or paramilitary forces as useful for maintaining dominion. Colombia’s paramilitary phenomenon warrants a look now because paramilitary attacks have brought Colombia’s peace process to a halt. Fortunately documentation of paramilitary offenses in Colombia provides much by way of details and particulars, more so than in Honduras, for instance. That’s because Colombian paramilitaries have long met resistance and gained special notoriety.

On March 23, after 40 months of talks in Havana, negotiators on both sides in the Colombian peace talks were to have announced a “Final Agreement,” one covering five agenda items they had set out to discuss. But an impasse developed over the last one, designated as “end of conflict.” It entails a “bilateral and definitive cease of fire and hostilities” and laying down arms.

FARC negotiators held back; an epidemic of killings during March revived long-held FARC concerns about the safety of ex-guerrillas in a time of peace. Others worry too.

The Executive Committee of the Patriotic Union (UP), a leftist political party, reported March 18 that in the previous three weeks “unknown armed men,” presumably paramilitaries, had carried out 11 politically motivated killings and “disappeared” three other people – whose bodies were found later.

Speaking to reporters, Aída Avella, the UP president, accused business leaders of financing the resurgence of paramilitaries. She also accused military leaders of being “immersed” in paramilitary operations. Avella herself went into foreign exile for 17 years in 1996 after a rocket destroyed the car in which she was a passenger.

In an open letter to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, Andrés Gil, a leader of the Patriotic March, condemned the assassinations. “[I]f we continue to be killed,” he wrote, “then the conclusion will be that really there’s no room for anyone on the left…. You will pass into history not as the president for peace but as the one who didn’t take the fight against paramilitaries seriously.”

Referring to the flood of paramilitary victims, the FARC peace delegation released a statement asking, “How can this be in the midst of a peace process now approaching the signing of a final accord?” Colombian authorities, the FARC said, “can no longer delay clearing away the phenomenon of paramilitarism.”

The FARC has reason to be alarmed. Many FARC guerrillas left the insurgency in 1985 in accordance with an agreement signed with President Belisario Betancur. They engaged in electoral politics as candidates for the UP party. That provoked a massacre; some say almost 5000 UP activists have since been murdered.

FARC negotiator Carlos Antonio Lozada may have been thinking of that experience when he told reporters March14 that, “[W]e have to take measures to avoid being betrayed and attacked as happened in the past.” He noted that the government recently dismissed a technical sub-commission report, already agreed upon, calling for “a bilateral and definitive ceasefire.”

The FARC negotiating team took the occasion of Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit with them on March 21 to seek help in regard to the paramilitary problem. Kerry had accompanied President Obama on his historic visit to Cuba. The negotiators released a communication saying, “Mr. Kerry, we ask through you that the United States help curb paramilitary violence, which in the midst of the peace process keeps mowing down the lives of defenders of human rights and social leaders.”

The request is not without irony. The United States provides funds for the Colombian army, known to facilitate paramilitary operations. And in the early 1960s U.S. military experts advised the Colombian government to utilize paramilitaries to augment its campaign then of pushing back against leftist guerrillas.

In a joint press conference February 4 with President Santos in Washington, President Obama introduced a U. S. plan called “Peace Colombia.” The two leaders had met to celebrate the upcoming peace accord and the end after 15 years of Plan Colombia, that U.S. mechanism for supporting counterinsurgency and drug-war efforts in Colombia.

For Voz newspaper editor Carlos Lozano, the name of the new venture signifies a “Pax Romana, or peace of the graveyard.” He lamented that “within Peace Colombia there’s not one entry for combating paramilitarism, which is the principal obstacle to peace in Colombia.”

Trivializing the FARC and thereby perhaps signaling the guerrillas’ irrelevance in a Colombia at peace, the New York Times recently headlined a reporter’s story thus: “Inside a Rebel Camp in Colombia, Marx and Free Love Reign.” It celebrated the collapse of communism by likening the supposed decline of the FARC to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

To the extent that such triumphalism extends to official U.S. attitudes, prospects for peace in Colombia are diminished.

Nevertheless, neither Colombia’s government nor the United States will likely have the final say in regard to disruptions at the hands of paramilitaries. Other forces, powerful and based on realities, are in play, and have been. A voice on their behalf is heard from, of all places, inside prison.

Political prisoner Húbert Ballesteros joined the Communist Party and Patriotic Union in 1986. More recently he’s been a leader of both the Fensuagro agricultural workers’ union and the CUT labor federation. Writing on March 12, he reflects upon “the killings in Antioquia, Sur de Bolívar, Arauca, Bogotá, and Cauca; the jailing of social leaders in Cauca, and the spread of paramilitary bands the length and breadth of the country.” According to Ballesteros, “We can no longer continue assuming that this oligarchy wants peace [other than] a cheap peace, a silencing of the guns.”

He knows what to do: “[W]hile we are building scenarios of peace, we must organize the people for resistance, and do so massively and convincingly so that this government understands that people are no longer content to live under its domination.” We must deal with “the true problems of the country, which are unemployment, poverty, corruption, and social and political marginalization.”

W.T. Whitney Jr. is a retired pediatrician and political journalist living in Maine.

March 24, 2016 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment

Obama Tells Argentina to Forget US-backed Bloodbath

teleSUR | March 23, 2016

When U.S. President Barack Obama spoke in Argentina on Tuesday, it seemed like an opportune, if not essential, moment to acknowledge the U.S. role in the bloodbath that occurred 40 years ago.

In 1976 the U.S.-backed coup that overthrew Isabel Peron, would be the starting point of years of violence in which 30,000 Argentines were disappeared and countless others murdered and tortured under Operation Condor.

Throughout the communist-cleansing program condoned and funded by the U.S., with Henry Kissinger as Secretary of State, innumerable atrocities were committed by the military, including the practice of giving the children of the deceased and disappeared to more favorable families.

Campaign groups, like the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, still fight for justice and look for their stolen grandchildren.

But on the eve of this sensitive and commemorative day, when Argentines remember their lost ones, Obama did not apologize for the misery dished out by the U.S. in the 1970s and 1980s. Instead, the U.S. president was dismissive during a joint press conference with Argentine President Mauricio Macri.

“I don’t want to go through every action carried out by the U.S. in Latin America over the last 100 years. I suspect everybody here already knows,” President Obama stated in response to a question about the role of U.S. foreign policy during the Argentine dictatorship-era. He referred to the U.S. policy of backing regimes that tortured, murdered and disappeared tens of thousands as “counterproductive.”

Obama continued that he believed the U.S. administration had improved over the years due to engaging in “self-criticism.”

“There is no shortage of self-criticism in the United States. Certainly no shortage of criticism of its President or its government or its foreign policy,” he told reporters.

But, after the comment branded “insufficient” by Argentine Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Obama essentially told Argentina that the U.S. had learned from and washed its hands of its destructive history.

“And we have learned some of the lessons that we may not have fully learned at an earlier time. And I think our experiences with a country like Argentina helped us to develop that more mature and, ultimately, I think, more successful approach to foreign policy,” he said.

Just as the leader of the world’s most powerful country failed to acknowledge or apologize for the suffering caused by the illegal blockade on Cuba on his recent visit, Obama did not ask the Argentine people for forgiveness for the grief his country caused them. As a spokesperson for the U.S., on the eve of Argentina’s most painful day, there was an expectation that he would speak up.

March 24, 2016 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 6 Comments

Langley’s Latest Themed Revolution: the Yellow Duck Revolution in Brazil

BY Wayne MADSEN | Strategic Culture Foundation | 24.03.2016

The latest themed revolution concocted by the Central Intelligence Agency’s «soft power» agents in the Brazilian federal and state legislatures, corporate media, and courts and prosecutors’ offices – all spurred on with the financial help of George Soros’s nongovernmental organizations – is the «Yellow Duck Revolution».

Large inflatable yellow ducks – said to represent the economic «quackery» of President Dilma Rousseff and her Workers’ Party government – have appeared at US-financed street demonstrations in Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, and Sao Paulo. The main coordinators of these protests are found in Brazil’s largest corporate federations and corporate-owned media conglomerates and all of them have links to domestic non-profit organizations like Vem Pra Rua (To the Street) – a typical Soros appellation – and Free Brazil Movement, in turn funded by the usual suspects of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), US Agency for International Development (USAID), and Soros’s Open Society Institute.

After trying to mount an electoral defeat of Brazil’s progressive leftist president, Dilma Rousseff, through a combination of presidential candidate assassination (the aerial assassination of Eduardo Campos in 2014 to pave the way to the presidency for the Wall Street-owned Green candidate Marina Silva, Campos’s vice presidential running mate), «rent-a-mob» street demonstrations, and corporate media propaganda, the Langley spooks are now trying to run Rousseff from office through a «Made in America» impeachment process. Aware that Rousseff’s progressive predecessor and mentor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, has been targeted by Brazilian prosecutors on the CIA’s payroll, for arrest and prosecution for bribery, she appointed him to her government with ministerial rank and prosecutorial immunity. Lula only became a target because he signaled his desire to run for the presidency after Rousseff’s term ends in 2019.

The Workers’ Party correctly points out that the legislative impeachment maneuvers against Rousseff and the judicial operations against both Rousseff and Lula emanate from Washington. The same «color of law» but CIA-advanced operations were directed against presidents Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in Argentina, Rafael Correa in Ecuador, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, Fernando Lugo in Paraguay, and Manuel Zelaya in Honduras. In the cases of Lugo and Zelaya, the operations were successful and both leaders were removed from power by CIA-backed rightist forces.

Street protests against Rousseff have, since they began in 2014, taken on the typical Soros themed revolution construct. As with the disastrous Soros-inspired and CIA-nurtured Arab Spring protests in Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Tunisia and Euromaidan protest in Ukraine, the Vem Pra Rua movement and the associated Free Brazil Movement are basically nothing more than politically-motivated capitalist campaigns relying on Facebook, Twitter, and pro-insurrection television and radio networks, newspapers, and websites.

In addition to the inflatable yellow ducks, street protests have been marked by quickly-manufactured inflatable dolls of Lula in black and white prison garb and a placard cartoon drawing of Rousseff with a red diagonal «No» sign drawn through it. Street protest devices, which also include green and yellow banners and clothing, are telltale signs of significant amounts of money backing the psychological warfare gimmickry.

Brazilian prosecutors on Langley’s payroll arrested the popular Lula after staging a massive police raid on his house. Police also arrested the former First Lady of Brazil, Lula’s wife Marisa Leticia. Lula said he felt that he was kidnapped by the police. In 2009, Honduran troops actually kidnapped President Manuel Zelaya in the middle of the night and detained him in a military cell prior to expelling him from the country. That operation, like the one against Lula and Rousseff, was backed not only by the CIA and NSA, but by the US Southern Command in Miami. The Honduran coup was also backed by the Supreme Court of Honduras. To prevent a further political arrest of her predecessor, Rousseff made Lula her chief of staff, a cabinet position that affords Lula some protection from continuing prosecutorial harassment and legal proceedings by the federal court.

On March 16, Judge Sergio Moro, who is in charge of Operation «Lava-jato» («Car wash»), the two-year investigation of Petrobras and the alleged bribery involving Rousseff and Lula, released two taped intercepts of phone calls between the president and former president. The bugged phone conversation involved Rousseff’s plans to appoint Lula as her chief of staff, a Cabinet rank, as a way to afford him some protection from the CIA’s judicial-backed coup operation now in play. Rousseff previously served as Lula’s chief of staff. Classified National Security Agency documents leaked by whistleblower Ed Snowden illustrate how the NSA has spied on Rousseff’s office and mobile phones. President Obama claimed he ordered an end to such spying on world leaders friendly to the United States. Obama’s statement was false.

Judge Sergio Moro’s name appears in one of the leaked State Department cables. On October 30, 2009, the US embassy in Brasilia reported that Moro attended an embassy-sponsored conference in Rio de Janeiro held from October 4-9. Titled «Illicit Financial Crimes», the conference appears have been an avenue for the CIA and other US intelligence agencies to train Brazilian federal and state law enforcement, as well as other Latin American police officials from Argentina, Paraguay, Panama, and Uruguay, in procedures to mount bogus criminal prosecutions of Latin American leaders considered unfriendly to the United States. The State Department cable from Brasilia states: «Moro… discussed the 15 most common issues he sees in money laundering cases in the Brazilian Courts».

One item that was not on the agenda for the US embassy seminar was the NSA’s covert spying on the communications of Rousseff, Lula, and the state-owned Brazilian oil company Petrobras. In a technique known as prosecutorial «parallel construction», US prosecutors given access to illegally-intercepted communications, have initiated prosecution of American citizens based on the selective use of warrantless intercepts. If such tactics can be used in the United States, they can certainly be used against leaders like Rousseff, Lula, and others. The Operation Car wash intercepts of the Rousseff-Lula phone conversations that were released by Judge Moro to the media may have originated with NSA and its XKEYSCORE database of intercepts of Brazilian government and corporate communications conducted through bugging operations codenamed KATEEL, POCOMOKE, and SILVERZEPHYR.

In what could be called the «Obama Doctrine», the CIA has changed its game plan in overthrowing legitimate governments by using ostensibly «legal» means. Rather than rely on junta generals and tanks in the street to enforce its will, the CIA has, instead, employed prosecutors, judges, opposition party leaders, newspaper editors, and website administrators, as well as mobs using gimmicks – everything from inflatable yellow ducks, paper mâché puppets, and freshly silk screen-printed t-shirts, flags, and banners – as themed revolution facilitators.

As shown by the leaked State Department cables, the CIA has identified a number of agents of influence it can rely on for providing intelligence on both Rousseff and Lula. These sources have included the senior leadership of the Workers’ Party; officials of Petrobras eager to see their company sold off to the highest-bidding foreign vultures; Brazilian Central Bank executives; and Brazilian military intelligence officers who were originally trained by US intelligence and military agencies.

In addition to BRICS member Brazil, other BRICS nations have also seen the US increasing its efforts to organize themed revolutions. South Africa is on the target list, as are Russia and China.

March 24, 2016 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kosovo: An evil little war (almost) all US candidates liked

By Nebojsa Malic | RT | March 24, 2016

Although the 2016 presidential election is still in the primaries phase, contenders have already brought up America’s failed foreign wars. Hillary Clinton is taking flak over Libya, and Donald Trump has irked the GOP by bringing up Iraq. But what of Kosovo?

The US-led NATO operation that began on March 24, 1999 was launched under the “responsibility to protect” doctrine asserted by President Bill Clinton and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair. For 78 days, NATO targeted what was then the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia – which later split into Serbia and Montenegro – over alleged atrocities against ethnic Albanians in the southern province of Kosovo. Yugoslavia was accused of “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide” as bombs rained on bridges, trains, hospitals, homes, the power grid and even refugee convoys.

NATO’s actions directly violated the UN Charter (articles 53 and 103), its own charter, the 1975 Helsinki Final Act and the 1980 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. The war was a crime against peace, pure and simple.

Though overwhelmed, Yugoslavia did not surrender; the June 1999 armistice only allowed NATO to occupy Kosovo under UN peacekeeping authority, granted by Resolution 1244 – which the Alliance has been violating ever since.

US Secretary of State at the time, Madeleine Albright, was considered the most outspoken champion of the “Kosovo War.” She is now a vocal supporter of candidate Clinton, condemning women who don’t vote for her to a “special place in Hell.”

Clinton visited the renegade province in October 2012, as the outgoing Secretary of State. She stood with the ‘Kosovan’ government leaders – once considered terrorists, before receiving US backing – and proclaimed unequivocal US support for Kosovo’s independence, proclaimed four years prior.

“For me, my family and my fellow Americans this is more than a foreign policy issue, it is personal,” Clinton said. Given the Kosovo Albanians had renamed a major street in their capital ‘Bill Clinton Avenue’ and erected a massive gilded monument to Hillary’s husband, her comments were hardly a surprise.

She is unlikely to be condemned for those remarks by her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. While arguing that Congress should have a say in authorizing the intervention, Sanders entirely bought into the mainstream narrative about the conflict, seeing it as a case of the evil Serbian “dictator” Slobodan Milosevic oppressing the unarmed ethnic Albanians. He saw “supporting the NATO airstrikes on Serbia as justified on humanitarian grounds.”

One Sanders aide, Jeremy Brecher, resigned in May 1999 arguing against the intervention as it unfolded, since the “goal of US policy is not to save the Kosovars from ongoing destruction.”

Trouble is there was no “destruction.” Contrary to NATO claims of 100,000 or more Albanians purportedly massacred by the Serbs, postwar investigators found fewer than 5,000 deaths – 1,500 of which happened after NATO occupied the province and the Albanian pogroms began.

Western media, eager to preserve the narrative of noble NATO defeating the evil Serbs, dismissed the terror as “revenge killings.” NATO troops thus looked on as their Albanian protégés terrorized, torched, bombed and pillaged across the province for years, forcing some 250,000 Serbs, Jews, Roma, and other groups into exile.

After George W. Bush was re-elected in 2004, his administration adopted the Clinton-era agenda for the Balkans, including backing an independent Albanian state in Kosovo. None of the Republicans, save 2012 contender Ron Paul, have criticized the Kosovo War since.

Billionaire businessman Donald Trump actually has been critical – though back in 1999, long before he became the Republican front-runner and the bane of the GOP establishment. In October that year, Trump was a guest on Larry King’s CNN show, criticizing the Clintons’ handling of the Kosovo War after a fashion.

“But look at what we’ve done to that land and to those people and the deaths that we’ve caused,” Trump told King. “They bombed the hell out of a country, out of a whole area, everyone is fleeing in every different way, and nobody knows what’s happening, and the deaths are going on by the thousands.”

The problem with Trump, then as now, is that he is maddeningly vague. So, these remarks could be interpreted as referring to the terror going on at that very moment – the persecution of non-Albanians under NATO’s approving eye – or the exodus of Albanians earlier that year, during the NATO bombing. Only Trump would know which, and he hasn’t offered a clarification.

Though he has the most delegates and leads in the national polls for the Republican nomination, the GOP establishment is furious with Trump because he dared call George W. Bush a liar and describe the invasion of Iraq as a “big fat mistake.” According to the British historian Kate Hudson, however, the 2003 invasion was just a continuation of the “pattern of aggression,” following the precedent set with Kosovo.

March 24, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trump Caution on Immigration Widely Shared Around World – Research Group

Sputnik — 24.03.2016

US Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump’s argument that immigrants take away jobs of home populations is widely supported around the world, the Ipsos market research company announced in a press release.

“A strong plurality of global citizens (41 percent) believes that immigrants take jobs away from their countrymen,” the release stated on Wednesday.

The online survey covered more than 18,000 people in 25 countries aged from 16 or 18 to 64, Ipsos noted.

“Additionally, a near majority of global citizens (49 percent) understand that immigrants also take away social services,” the survey also found.

Ipsos said 49 percent of Americans believe that immigrants take jobs away while 61 percent believed they took unfair and disproportionate advantage of US social services, the survey found.

Ipsos is an independent global market research company that was founded in France in 1975.

March 24, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics | , | Leave a comment

America faces its moment of Trump

By Robert Bridge | RT | March 24, 2016

The meteoric rise of Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner who is giving the Establishment 3D nightmares, is the natural outcome of a political system that has been arrogantly ignoring the will of the American electorate for many years.

What started off as cheap comic fodder for late night television, and later ignored by the elite as an unfortunate yet containable nuisance, has now exploded on the scene as a destructive force of nature capable of blowing away the Establishment’s corporate-owned power structure.

Yes, we are talking about The Donald, a Category-5 political hurricane that is expected to cause major devastation should it touchdown in the Beltway.

So anxious are the Democrats (and Republicans!) to contain the mighty Trump they will even deny his First Amendment right to address his supporters. Yes, while many Americans travel great distances at their own expense to listen to Trump’s white-hot political message, perennial provocateur George Soros must pay his puppets to erect roadblocks and hoist placards to deny free passage to the venues.

Who says ‘freedom-loving,’ liberal activists lack a sense of irony?

Last week, for example, demonstrations in Chicago organized by the Soros-funded group forced Trump to cancel a speaking engagement. Later, on March 20, members of the same subversive outfit blocked traffic near a Trump event in Arizona, while police in New York City the same day pepper-sprayed demonstrators, some of whom are affiliated with violent anarchist groups.

And then there’s the corporate-owned media, which, instead of impartially and dispassionately reporting on Trump’s rising star, is working on behalf of its owners to knock it out of the sky.

Here is a random CNN smear piece, which opens with the angst-ridden line: “Anti-Trump Republicans desperate to stop the billionaire from being their nominee are discussing creative ways to halt his momentum.”  So the story now is not about the millions of Americans who support Trump’s political ideas, nor even discussing what those ideas might be, but rather about how the “racist, misogynist, sexist” outsider must be stopped.

Consider these two competing lines from another CNN article, and how they work to manipulate the mind of the reader regarding the “boastful” Trump and the “proud” Clinton:

“Trump repeatedly boasts about the failure of millions of dollars in attack aids to wound his campaign, and insists he is on pace to reach the 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination.”

While the very next about Clinton reads:

“Clinton said she was “very proud” to have won Arizona and hit Republican candidates who she said were ‘literally inciting bigotry and violence.’”

But it is not just the Democrats and the liberal media working to sabotage Trump’s campaign.

Incredibly, even the Republican Party is “plotting against their own frontrunner,” as Judge Jeanine Pirro of Fox News explained. But why would the GOP work against Trump if he represents the best chance of beating Hillary Clinton?

Pirro nails it with this answer to herself: “The Republican establishment… are in bed with the Democrats. So if Hillary wins, nothing is lost for them. It’s business as usual. The lobbyists keep their offices on K Street, the pharmaceutical companies keep paying them… and the lawmakers get their re-election bribes – I mean, contributions.”

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, when asked to explain the elite’s refusal to support Trump, perhaps gave away a bit too much information when he said: “Well, because he’s an outsider, he’s not them, he’s not part of the club, he’s uncontrollable, he hasn’t been through the initiation rites, he didn’t belong to the secret society.”

Initiation rites? Secret societies? Secret handshakes? Did Newt just join ranks with the conspiracy theorists?

Although many people are skeptical about the circumstances behind Trump’s phenomenal rise, the tycoon (Trumps says he’s worth $8.7 billion, Forbes puts it at $4.1, a difference that probably means something among the ultra-wealthy), manages to sell himself as a successful businessman who will, at the same time, work on behalf of average American workers.

One of his regular claims – aside from promising to make the Mexican government pay for a wall on the US border – is to stop US factory jobs from going to India, China and Mexico. Annoying pledges like that, which would cut deeply into Corporate America’s bottom line, goes far at explaining why the elite loath him and your average mortal adores him.

Although it is a delicious sight watching America’s movers and shakers tremble at the mere mention of Trump’s name, it nevertheless speaks volumes about the condition of US democracy that Americans had to wait for a rich, charismatic real estate developer to come along and save them from the cold-hearted wretchedness of the dual-party, borderline-fascist system. Imagine what the US would look like without the arrival of these rare, mega-wealthy mavericks who were born with a compassion gene for ordinary folks. The Establishment would continue unmolested with its ‘too-big-to-jail’ banker bailouts, overseas military misadventures and the dangerous consolidation of corporate power.

Trump’s ability to speak freely on the issues without any concern for breaking the bank is exactly how an honest political system should be organized. Indeed, how many US politicians today, as the US information war against Russia resembles something out of Tom Clancy thriller, would admit they’d work with the Kremlin to resolve global problems? No politician should be wary of discussing a controversial subject that is dear to the heart of the electorate for fear of chasing away campaign donors.

Case in point: The immigrant crisis, which the Obama administration arrogantly ignored at great peril. This polarizing issue largely explains Trump’s huge popularity among voters today.

The specter of Mexican immigrants flooding the country – and with the full blessing of Washington, not to mention the Vatican (Trump is certainly the first politician in history to have traded barbs with the Bishop of Rome on the campaign trail) – may go down in the history books as the proverbial straw that finally broke the Establishment’s back. In any case, it will certainly go down as the issue that launched Trump’s political career and, quite possibly, destroyed the Republican Party as we know it.

Americans had to bite their tongues as they got screwed over in the 2008 Financial Crisis, and maintained their pharmaceutically induced composure as Obama proved to be every bit of a warmongering president as his Neocon predecessor. But let’s face it: no American homeowner is going to keep quiet while their neighborhood is invaded by illegal aliens. Indeed, American streets are already respectable crime zones in their own right, we certainly don’t need any help from illegal aliens, thank-you-very-much.

Now before somebody screams ‘Hitler!’ in this political theater of the absurd, let’s put the situation into its proper context: At the very same time US companies are exporting thousands of good-paying factory jobs south of the border, Mexico is exporting not much more to America than its social riff-raff. According to government figures, US corporations employed 1,106,700 Mexicans (on Mexican soil) in 2012 (the latest year tallied), but Mexican companies employed just 68,800 in the United States that year.

So Trump seems to have some leverage when he says Mexico should foot the bill to build a wall on the US-Mexican border.

But the crazy is just beginning. Once north of the Rio Grande, the fence hoppers voluntarily turn themselves over to US Border Patrol agents, who then proceed to give the Mexicans a Coke and a smile before telling them to have a nice day and please don’t forget to show up for your scheduled court appearance.

Next, newly downsized Joe Trailer Park is called upon to fund bus tickets for the uninvited Mexicans to travel to the US city of their choosing. Only the government could script such a narrative. But wait, it gets better! What about the promise the illegals made to appear in court, thus becoming patriotic, flag-saluting, Americans? Sorry, no time for formalities!

Hector Garza, a Border Patrol agent and spokesperson for the National Border Patrol Council told Breitbart that approximately 95 percent of the illegal immigrants never return as promised for court proceedings.

“The majority of these people crossed the border illegally and were then dropped off here at the bus station, so they could continue to their final destination, and that destination is an American city near you,” said Garza. “This right here is border insecurity at its best. Our border is not patrolled… our federal government is releasing thousands and thousands of illegal aliens into our communities.”

If there was a better way of conjuring up the bygone spirits of nationalistic right-wing parties, I really can’t imagine it.

And since the entire notion of ‘strong national borders’ has somehow morphed into political-correct-speak for ‘racism’, these people are not sent scurrying back to where they came from. No, sending a message to other would-be trespassers would be too logical, and logic took a backseat in the American Trailblazer a long time ago.

Trump’s popularity, however, cannot be only explained by the specter of porous borders with Mexico. After all, America’s great disillusionment with its political system has been steadily intensifying, and all the more once it became painfully obvious that the ‘hope and change’ that Barack Obama had promised was just more smoke and mirrors.

Drew Weston, in a devastating 2011 essay in the New York Times, summed up Obama’s failure to put the country on the right track after being derailed by George W. Bush’s reckless 8-year ‘war on terror.’

“Barack Obama stared into the eyes of history and chose to avert his gaze. Instead of indicting the people whose recklessness wrecked the economy, he put them in charge of it.

“He never explained that decision to the public…”

A bit later, Weston wrote:

“Nor did anyone explain why saving the banks was such a priority, when saving the homes the banks were foreclosing didn’t seem to be. All Americans knew… is that they’re still unemployed, they’re still worried about how they’re going to pay their bills at the end of the month and their kids still can’t get a job.”

Here is my personal reason for supporting Trump. Aside from his inspiring message of securing America’s border, ending US military adventures and reinvigorating the US economy, a Trump presidency will halt America’s slide towards family dynasties ruling the country like hereditary monarchies.

Consider: If Hillary Clinton wins the presidency in 2016, and assuming she is reelected for a second term in 2020, the American people will have been ruled since 1989 by two Bushes and two Clintons (for a total of 28 years out of 36, with a non-consequential 8-year intermission by America’s first black president).

Barbara Bush, the wife of an ex-president and mother of another, expressed her lack of enthusiasm for yet another Bush entering the White House (although for the record it must be noted that she was speaking about Jeb, not the shiniest apple on the Bush family tree).

“I think this is a . . . great country and if we can’t find more than two or three families to run for high office, that’s silly,” she told C-Span early last year. “I think that the Kennedys, Clintons, Bushes – there are just more families than that.”

But is America ready for a Trump Dynasty?

Judging by the escapades of the powerful Democratic and Republican Establishment, which is pulling out all the stops to ‘dump Trump,’ the charismatic, billionaire real estate developer probably stands a worse chance of winning the keys to the White House mansion than Justin Bieber.

There’s simply no way the Washington elite will willingly release their grip on the most powerful office in the world, even if such a thing would mean restoring some of America’s former shine.

Robert Bridge is an American writer and journalist based in Moscow, Russia. His articles have been featured in many publications, including Russia in Global Affairs, The Moscow Times, Russia Insider and Rethinking Russia. Bridge is the author of the book on corporate power, “Midnight in the American Empire”, which was released in 2013.


March 24, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

A History of Silencing Israeli Amy Whistleblowers From 1948 Until Today

By Jonathan Cook | Dissident Voice | March 23, 2016

One might expect that only historians would care to revisit the 1948 war that created Israel. And yet the debate about what constitutes truth and myth from that period still provokes raw emotions.

Much rests on how those events are reconstructed, not least because the shock waves have yet to subside. Israelis fear, and Palestinians crave, a clearer picture of the past because it would powerfully illuminate the present. It might also influence the international community’s proposed solutions for the conflict.

That is why the unearthing of an Israeli soldier’s letter from 1948 detailing what was probably the war’s worst massacre – one long buried by Israel – is of more than historical significance.

It comes as Moshe Yaalon, the defence minister, this week accused Breaking the Silence, an Israeli organisation that exposes military abuses, of “treason” for collecting evidence from the army’s current whistle-blowers.

Western understandings of the 1948 war – what Palestinians term their Nakba, or catastrophe – are dominated by an enduring Israeli narrative. Israel’s army, it is said, abided by a strict moral code. Palestinians left not because of Israel’s actions but on the orders of Arab leaders.

In this rendering, the Palestinians’ mass dispossession was the fault of the Arab world – and a solution for the millions of today’s refugees lies with their host countries.

For decades Israel’s chief concession to the truth was an admission that a massacre took place just outside Jerusalem, at Deir Yassin.

Israel claimed the atrocity was the exception that proved the rule: a rogue militia killed more than 100 villagers, violating Israel’s ethical codes in the chaotic weeks before statehood was declared.

Palestinians have always known of dozens of other large massacres of civilians from 1948 carried out by the Israeli army. The barbarity, they say, was intended to terrorise the native population into flight. This account puts responsibility on Israel for taking the refugees back.

But history is written by the victor.

In recent decades a few brave Israeli scholars have chipped away at the official facade. In the late 1990s a Haifa University student collected testimonies from former soldiers confirming that over 200 Palestinians had been massacred at Tantura, south of Haifa. After the findings were made public, he was pilloried and stripped of his degree.

A decade ago, the historian Ilan Pappe wrote a groundbreaking book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, arguing that massacres like the one at Tantura were exploited to drive out Palestinians. He and others noted the suggestive titles of military operations such as “Broom” and soldiers’ orders to “clean” areas.

Pappe now lives in academic exile in the UK.

The biggest obstacle to shifting Israeli and western perceptions of 1948 has been the lack of a clear paper trail connecting the political leadership to the massacres. Israel locked away bundles of documentation precisely not to jeopardise the official narrative.

But things are changing slowly.

Last year a key deception was punctured: that Israel urged many of the war’s 750,000 Palestinian refugees to return. In a letter to Haifa’s leaders shortly after the city’s Palestinians were expelled, David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, demanded that any return be barred.

Now another letter, located by Israeli historian Yair Auron and published last week for the first time in English by the Haaretz newspaper, trashes the idea of an ethical Israel army.

Written by Shabtai Kaplan, a soldier and journalist, the letter confirms long-held suspicions of a massacre – one that dwarfs Deir Yassin – at Dawaymeh, near Hebron. Soldiers executed hundreds of men, women and children who offered no resistance.

The massacre, near the end of the war, was carried out by elite troops under the command of Yitzhak Sadeh. He developed the Israeli army’s famous doctrine of “purity of arms”.

Kaplan argues that the Dawaymeh massacre was part of “a system of expulsion and destruction”, with a clear goal: “The fewer Arabs who remain, the better.”

Kaplan’s letter was consigned to the vaults, as were so many other documents from 1948 that officials considered too damaging.

Nearly seven decades later, in an age of 24-hour news and social media, Israel is still desperately trying to conceal its darkest episodes by bullying the army’s current whistle-blowers.

Last week Benjamin Netanyahu’s government launched an investigation into Breaking the Silence. On Sunday Netanyahu called the collection of soldiers’ testimonies “intolerable”, indicating that he may try to ban the group.

It is hard not to see parallels between the cover-ups of 1948 and those of today. Breaking the Silence’s disclosures, especially those relating to Israel’s series of attacks on Gaza, each of which has left hundreds of civilians dead, similarly give the lie to the army’s continuing claims of ethical behaviour.

In his 1948 letter, Kaplan observed of the failure by the political leadership to hold anyone to account for the massacres: “Inaction is in itself encouragement.”

Israel’s politicians hoped then that the Palestinians could be quickly terrorised from their lands. Decades later, the atrocities continue – and to the same end. But Israel must face facts: the days when such systematic brutality could be kept under wraps are now over.

Jonathan Cook, based in Nazareth, Israel is a winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books).

March 24, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Possible Signs Of False Flag In Brussels Now Emerging

By Brandon Turbeville – Activist Post – March 23, 2016

Yet another terrorist attack in Europe to be blamed on Islamic extremists and ISIS and yet another instance of the suspects in the attacks being previously known to security services and intelligence agencies in the years, months, weeks, and days leading up to the event. That is exactly what happened in Brussels, Belgium on March 22, 2016.

Lending credence to those who suggest that the Brussels attacks were false flags (meaning directed, orchestrated, or allowed by Western intelligence agencies), it is being reported that, yet again, the perpetrators were known to police and security services prior to the attack suggesting a number of possibilities in the false flag vein such as 1.) That the security services knew an attack was being planned and allowed it to continue 2.) That the intelligence agencies organized the attack from the very beginning.

Building a case for the false flag argument sees a number of points to be made that, while not conclusively proving that such is the case, they do provide a good reason to question the official narrative.

The identities, criminal history, and jihadist history of the assailants were already known to security services prior to the attacks.

Khalid and Brahim El Bakraoui, the two men suspected of being blowing themselves up during the attack on the airport, had been arrested for violent crimes in Belgium prior to the attacks but were both curiously released.

Brahim El Bakraoui was convicted in 2010 of shooting at police officers with a Kalashnikov during the process of committing an armed robbery. Brahim was sentenced to nine years but was curiously free and able to commit a terrorist attack only six years later.

Khalid was convicted for a number of carjackings in 2011 but only received probation and was thus also free to commit terrorist acts in 2016.

While records of violent crimes is not a direct connection to terrorism, both brothers were known to authorities prior to the attacks and were considered “wanted” by police. Indeed, an anti-terror raid at the brothers’ apartment complex took place in mid-March where an Algerian immigrant with ties to ISIS was killed.

Consider how the killers were represented in The Telegraph on March 23. The paper reports:

Khalid Bakraoui, 27, is suspected to have rented a house under a false name in the Forest suburb of Brussels which was raided by police last week in connection with the Paris attacks.

Mohamed Belkaid, a key member of the Paris plot who had accompanied Salah Abdeslam on a trip to Hungary and who transferred cash to the plot’s mastermind, was killed in the raid, and an Isil flag found next to him. Two men got away.

According to local media, both El Bakraoui brothers were known to the police. 

In October 2010, Ibrahim was sentenced to nine years in prison for opening fire on police with a Kalashnikov rifle during an armed robbery on a stockbroker.

Khalid was sentenced to five years probation in February 2011 for car-jackings. He was found to have Kalashnikovs when arrested.

He is now one of Europe’s most wanted men who gave police the slip last year when he returned from Syria.

He was also in the car with Belkaid on the return trip from Hungary. [emphasis added]

The Incriminating Material Found After The Attacks

As any good pair of patsies would do, the suicide bombers were careful to leave a trail of bombs, ISIS flags, and suicide notes behind them ensuring that their connections to ISIS would be found and used to maximum effect.

According to the Associated Press, Belgian police found nail bombs, ISIS flags, and “chemical products” in an apartment where the brothers were picked up by a taxi.

Perhaps the most interesting “coincidence” is the discovery of the suicide note on the computer of Brahim el Bakroui which was allegedly found in a trash can by a cleaning crew . . . or by investigators. Media reports have actually been unclear as to who actually found the computer and the note.

RT reports:

Brussels suicide bomber Ibrahim El Bakraoui has left a note on a computer found in a trash can during an anti-terrorist raid, Belgium’s federal prosecutor said. The terrorist reportedly wrote that he felt increasingly unsafe, didn’t know what to do and feared going to prison.

. . . . .

Before the attacks Ibrahim left a note, where he wrote that he felt increasingly unsafe and feared landing up in prison. El Bakraoui said he was “in a hurry, doesn’t know what to do” and was “surrounded by all sides.”

The note was found on a computer in a trash can in Brussels’ Schaerbeek neighborhood.
Earlier reports in Belgian media emerged that a computer with messages allegedly related to Islamic State militants had been found in Brussels. The contents of the computer were described by police as “interesting.”

It is not yet clear whether the computer found by cleaning services was the same one mentioned by the prosecutor.

The trove was found by Bruxelles Propreté cleaning team, Dernier Heure newspaper reported. The company’s employees immediately contacted officers from the Montgomery area in Brussels.

While the information above is not evidence enough to conclusively demonstrate that the Brussels attacks were false flags, it is enough to suggest that the official narrative of the events be looked at through skeptical lenses, particularly when western intelligence agencies and governments have repeatedly sponsored false flag terror attacks in the past in order to justify wars or police state crack downs at home.

Brandon Turbeville – article archive here – is the author of seven books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2, The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria, and The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President.

March 24, 2016 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism | | 1 Comment

Reporting (or Not) the Ties Between US-Armed Syrian Rebels and Al Qaeda’s Affiliate

By Gareth Porter | Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting | March 21, 2016

A crucial problem in news media coverage of the Syrian civil war has been how to characterize the relationship between the so-called “moderate” opposition forces armed by the CIA, on one hand, and the Al Qaeda franchise Al Nusra Front (and its close ally Ahrar al Sham), on the other.

But it is a politically sensitive issue for U.S. policy, which seeks to overthrow Syria’s government without seeming to make common cause with the movement responsible for 9/11, and the system of news production has worked effectively to prevent the news media from reporting it fully and accurately.

The Obama administration has long portrayed the opposition groups it has been arming with anti-tank weapons as independent of Nusra Front. In reality, the administration has been relying on the close cooperation of these “moderate” groups with Nusra Front  to put pressure on the Syrian government.

The United States and its allies – especially Saudi Arabia and Turkey – want the civil war to end with the dissolution of the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is backed by U.S. rivals like Russia and Iran.

Reflecting the fact that Nusra Front was created by Al Qaeda and has confirmed its loyalty to it, the administration designated Nusra as a terrorist organization in 2013.  But the U.S. has carried out very few airstrikes against it since then, in contrast to the other offspring of Al Qaeda, the Islamic State or ISIS (Daesh), which has been the subject of intense air attacks from the U.S. and its European allies.

The U.S. has remained silent about Nusra Front’s leading role in the military effort against Assad, concealing the fact that Nusra’s success in northwest Syria has been a key element in Secretary of State John Kerry’s diplomatic strategy for Syria.

When Russian intervention in support of the Syrian government began last September, targeting not only ISIS but also the Nusra Front and U.S.-supported groups allied with them against the Assad regime, the Obama administration immediately argued that Russian airstrikes were targeting “moderate” groups rather than ISIS, and insisted that those strikes had to stop.

The willingness of the news media to go beyond the official line and report the truth on the ground in Syria was thus put to the test. It had been well-documented that those “moderate” groups had been thoroughly integrated into the military campaigns directed by Nusra Front and Ahrar al Sham in the main battlefront of the war in northwestern Syria’s Idlib and Aleppo provinces.

For example, a dispatch from Aleppo last May in Al Araby Al-Jadeed (The New Arab), a daily newspaper financed by the Qatari royal family, revealed that every one of at least ten “moderate” factions in the province supported by the CIA had joined the Nusra-run province command Fateh Halab (Conquest of Aleppo).  Formally the command was run by Ahrar al Sham, and Nusra Front was excluded from it.

But as Al Araby’s reporter explained, that exclusion “means that the operation has a better chance of receiving regional and international support.” That was an indirect way of saying that Nusra’s supposed exclusion was a device aimed at facilitating the Obama administration’s approval of sending more TOW missiles to the “moderates” in the province, because the White House could not support groups working directly with a terrorist organization.

A further implication was that Nusra Front was allowing “moderate” groups to obtain those weapons from the United States and its  Saudi and Turkish allies, because those groups were viewed as too weak to operate independently of the Salafist-jihadist forces and because some of those arms would be shared with Nusra Front and Ahrar.

After Nusra Front was formally identified as a terrorist organization for the purposes of a Syrian ceasefire and negotiations, it virtually went underground in areas close to the Turkish border.

A journalist who lives in northern Aleppo province told Al Monitor that Nusra Front had stopped flying its own flag and was concealing its troops under those of Ahrar al Sham, which had been accepted by the United States as a participant in the talks. That maneuver was aimed at supporting the argument that “moderate” groups and not Al Qaeda were being targeted by Russian airstrikes.

But a review of the coverage of the targeting of Russian airstrikes and the role of U.S.-supported armed groups in the war during the first few weeks in the three most influential U.S. newspapers with the most resources for reporting accurately on the issue—the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal reveals a pattern of stories that tilted strongly in the direction desired by the Obama administration, either ignoring the subordination of the “moderate” groups to Nusra Front entirely or giving it only the slightest mention.

In an Oct. 1, 2015 article, Washington Post Beirut correspondent Liz Sly wrote that the Russian airstrikes were being “conducted against one of the few areas in the country where moderate rebels still have a foothold and from which the Islamic State was ejected more than a year and a half ago.”

To her credit, Sly did report, “Some of the towns struck are strongholds of recently formed coalition Jaish al Fateh,” which she said included Nusra Front and “an assortment of Islamist and moderate factions.” What was missing, however, was the fact that Jaish al Fateh was not merely a “coalition” but a military command structure, meaning that a much tighter relationship existed between the U.S.-supported “moderates” and the Al Qaeda franchise.

Sly referred specifically to one strike that hit a training camp in the outskirts of a town in Idlib province belonging to Suquor al-Jabal, which had been armed by the CIA.

But readers could not evaluate that statement without the crucial fact, reported in the regional press, that Suquor al-Jabal was one of the many CIA-supported organizations that had joined the Fateh Halab (“Conquest of Aleppo”), the military command center in Aleppo ostensibly run by Ahrar al Sham, Nusra Front’s closest ally, but in fact under firm Nusra control. The report thus conveyed the false impression that the CIA-supported rebel group was still independent of Nusra Front.

An article by New York Times Beirut correspondent Anne Barnard (co-authored by the Times stringer in Syria Karam Shoumali — Oct. 13, 2015) appeared to veer off in the direction of treating the U.S.-supported opposition groups as part of a new U.S./Russian proxy war, thus drawing attention away from the issue of whether the Obama administration support for “moderate” groups was actually contributing to the political-military power of Al Qaeda in Syria. 

Under the headline “US Weaponry Is Turning Syria Into Proxy War With Russia,” it reported that armed opposition groups had just received large shipments of TOW anti-tank missiles that had to be approved by the United States. Quoting the confident statements of rebel commanders about the effectiveness of the missiles and the high morale of rebel troops, the story suggested that arming the “moderates” was a way for the United States to make them the primary force on one side of a war pitting the United States against Russia in Syria.

Near the end of the story, however, Barnard effectively undermined that “proxy war” theme by citing the admission by commanders of U.S.-supported brigades of their “uncomfortable marriage of necessity” with the Al Qaeda franchise, “because they cannot operate without the consent of the larger and stronger Nusra Front.”

Referring to the capture of Idlib the previous spring by the opposition coalition, Barnard recalled that the TOW missiles had “played a major role in the insurgent advances that eventually endangered Mr. Assad’s rule.” But, she added:

“While that would seem like a welcome development for United States policy makers, in practice it presented another quandary, given that the Nusra Front was among the groups benefiting from the enhanced firepower.”

Unfortunately, Barnard’s point that U.S.-supported groups were deeply embedded in an Al Qaeda-controlled military structure was buried at the end of a long piece, and thus easily missed. The headline and lead ensured that, for the vast majority of readers, that point would be lost in the larger thrust of the article.

The Wall Street Journal’s Adam Entous approached the problem from a different angle but with the same result. He wrote a story on Oct. 5 reflecting what he said was anger on the part of U.S. officials that the Russians were deliberately targeting opposition groups that the CIA had supported.

Entous reported that U.S. officials believed the Syrian government wanted those groups targeted because of their possession of TOW missiles, which had been the key factor in the opposition’s capture of Idlib earlier in the year. But nowhere in the article was the role of CIA-supported groups within military command structures dominated by Nusra Front even acknowledged.

Still another angle on the problem was adopted in an Oct. 12 article by Journal Beirut correspondent Raja Abdulrahim, who described the Russian air offensive as having spurred U.S.-backed rebels and the Nusra Front to form a “more united front against the Assad regime and its Russian and Iranian allies.” Adbulrahim thus acknowledged the close military collaboration with Nusra Front, but blamed it all on the Russian offensive.

And the story ignored the fact that those same opposition groups had already joined military command arrangements in Idlib and Aleppo earlier in 2015, in anticipation of victories across northeast Syria.

The image in the media of the U.S.-supported armed opposition as operating independently from Nusra Front, and as victims of Russian attacks, persisted into early 2016. But in February, the first cracks in that image appeared in the Washington Post and New York Times.

Reporting on the negotiations between Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on a partial ceasefire that began on Feb. 12, Washington Post associate editor and senior national security correspondent Karen DeYoung wrote on Feb. 19 that an unresolved problem was how to decide which organizations were to be considered “terrorist groups” in the ceasefire agreement.

In that context, DeYoung wrote, “Jabhat al-Nusra, whose forces are intermingled with moderate rebel groups in the northwest near the Turkish border, is particularly problematic.”

It was the first time any major news outlet had reported that U.S.-supported armed opposition and Nusra Front front troops were “intermingled” on the ground. And in the very next sentence DeYoung dropped what should have been a political bombshell: She reported that Kerry had proposed in the Munich negotiations to “leave Jabhat al Nusra off limits to bombing, as part of a ceasefire, at least temporarily, until the groups can be sorted out.”

At the same time, Kerry was publicly demanding in a speech at the Munich conference that Russia halt its attacks on “legitimate opposition groups” as a condition for a ceasefire. Kerry’s negotiating position reflected the fact that CIA groups were certain to be hit in strikes on areas controlled by Nusra Front, as well as the reality that Al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and Ahrar al Sham were central to the success of the U.S.-backed military effort against Assad.

In the end, however, Lavrov rejected the proposal to protect Nusra Front targets from Russian airstrikes, and Kerry dropped that demand, allowing the joint U.S./Russian announcement of the partial ceasefire on Feb. 22.

Up to that point, maps of the Syrian war in the Post and Times had identified zones of control only for “rebels” without showing where Nusra Front forces were in control. But on the same day as the announcement, the New York Times published an “updated” map, accompanied by text stating that Nusra Front “is embedded in the area of Aleppo and northwest toward the Turkish border.”

At the State Department briefing the next day, reporters grilled spokesman Mark Toner on whether U.S.-supported rebel forces were “commingled” with Nusra Front forces in Aleppo and northward. After a very long exchange on the subject, Toner said, “Yes, I believe there is some commingling of these groups.” And he went on to say, speaking on behalf of the International Syria Support Group, which comprises all the countries involved in the Syrian peace negotiations, including the U.S. and Russia:

“We, the ISSG, have been very clear in saying that Al Nusra and Daesh [ISIS] are not part of any kind of cease-fire or any kind of negotiated cessation of hostilities. So if you hang out with the wrong folks, then you make that decision. … You choose who hang out with, and that sends a signal.”

Although I pointed out the significance of the statement (TruthoutFeb. 24, 2016), no major news outlet saw fit to report that remarkable acknowledgement by the State Department spokesperson. Nevertheless, the State Department had clearly alerted the Washington Post and the New York Times to the fact that the relationships between the CIA-supported groups and Nusra Front were much closer than it had ever admitted in the past.

Kerry evidently calculated that the pretense that the “moderate” armed groups were independent of Al Nusra front would open him to a political attack from Republicans and the media if they were hit by Russian airstrikes. So it was no longer useful politically to try to obscure that reality from the media.

In fact, the State Department now seemed interested in inducing as many of those armed groups as possible to separate themselves more clearly from the Nusra Front.

The twists and turns in the three major newspapers’ coverage of the issue of relations between U.S.-supported opposition groups and Al Qaeda’s franchise in Syria thus show how major news sources slighted or steered clear of the fact that U.S.-client armed groups were closely intertwined with a branch of Al Qaeda — until they were prompted by signals from U.S. officials to revise their line and provide a more honest portrayal of Syria’s armed opposition.

Gareth Porter, an independent investigative journalist and historian on US national security policy, is the winner of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for Journalism.  His latest book is Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare, published in 2014.

March 24, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UK Labor chief urges end to arms supplies to Saudis

Press TV – March 24, 2016

UK Labor Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn says the British government should halt its arms sales to Saudi Arabia over the kingdom’s deadly military aggression against neighboring Yemen.

Corbyn said in a statement on Wednesday that the bombing campaign has been “a human rights tragedy and a violation of international law.”

“The British government should halt arms supplies to Saudi Arabia, now being used for this assault on its neighbor, and it should end its diplomatic and military support for the Saudi intervention,” he added in the statement.

The Labor chief further stressed that London should instead focus on promoting peace in Yemen and providing assistance to the people in the country, which has been under military attack by Saudi Arabia since late March 2015.

At least 8,400 people, among them over 2,230 children, have been killed and 16,000 others injured since March 2015. The strikes have also taken a heavy toll on the impoverished country’s facilities and infrastructure, destroying many hospitals, schools, and factories.

Corbyn has previously challenged the UK government over the issue of arms supplies to the Saudi regime which has been accused of “widespread and systematic” targeting of civilians in its aerial campaign in Yemen.

However, London has stood defiant against calls to suspend its arms sales to Saudi Arabia. In January, Prime Minister David Cameron claimed that the UK has “the strictest rules for arms exports of almost any country anywhere in the world.”

According to Amnesty International, the British government has sold 2,400 missiles and 58 warplanes to Saudi Arabia last year alone, enabling the regime to continue its war against Yemen.

British media reports say that the UK government has licensed £6.7 billion ($9.4 billion) of arms to Riyadh since Cameron came to power in 2010, including £2.8 billion ($3.9 billion) since the bombing of Yemen began.

Meanwhile, a powerful cross-party committee on arms exports has launched a full-scale investigation into British arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

“We have launched this inquiry to understand what role UK-made arms are playing in the ongoing conflict in Yemen,” said the arms control committee’s chairman, Chris White.

The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) has also brought a high court case against the British government, urging London to suspend all current export licenses and refuse all new licenses to Saudi Arabia.

Andrew Smith of CAAT slammed the UK for standing “shoulder to shoulder” with the Saudis throughout its bloody campaign in Yemen.

Yemen financial and food crisis

The Britain-based international charity group Oxfam said on Thursday that Yemen, the Arab Peninsula’s poorest nation, is in the grip of a looming famine in the face of a domestic financial crisis.

Half of the nation’s residents, or nearly 14.4 million people, already struggle to buy food and need assistance in a crisis going largely unheeded in the international community, it said in a report.

The global charity said the possibilities of tightening credit and a currency devaluation threaten Yemen which imports nearly all its food and needs a functioning economic system to fund those shipments.

The warning was issued after reports said Yemen’s Central Bank might cut credit lines that guarantee payment for incoming wheat and rice cargoes.

The Yemeni riyal also runs the risk of devaluation, which could in turn contribute to a rise in food prices in a poor country that imports nearly 90 percent of its food.
Yemeni men receive food aid provided by the World Food Program (WFP) to help families affected by the ongoing conflict, in the Yemeni capital Sana’a on March 16, 2016. (AFP photo)

“An invisible food crisis … risks turning famine warnings into a reality over the coming months,” Oxfam said.

Sajjad Mohamed Sajid, Oxfam’s country director in Yemen, said Yemenis cannot endure the rising prices for food if importers are unable to trade.

Saudi Arabia began a military campaign in Yemen a year ago with the aim of restoring former president Abd Rubbuh Mansur Hadi to power.

“A catastrophe on top of catastrophe … has created one of the biggest humanitarian emergencies in the world today,” Sajid said. “Yet most people are unaware of it.”

The charity reported instances of people eating only a meal a day in Ta’izz city, which is a regular target of Saudi attacks, and empty market stalls with no vegetables on display.

March 24, 2016 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment