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House committee backs requirement for women to register for draft

RT | April 28, 2016

In the wake of the Pentagon fully embracing gender equality, a House of Representatives committee narrowly approved a measure requiring women to register for Selective Service, the US military draft system.

Following a lengthy and often provocative debate on Wednesday night surrounding the role of women in the military, the House Armed Services Committee carried the motion with a vote of 32-30, signaling a change to the policy that has been in place since 1981.

Currently, all male US citizens and non-citizen immigrants are required to register with Selective Service within 30 days of their 18th birthday. The registration remains active till the age of 26. Proof of registration is required for access to various federal programs, such as student loans, and as a prerequisite for federal employment and naturalization.

Filing an amendment to the House’s annual defense authorization bill, Republican Duncan Hunter said that “the draft is sexist” as it precludes women aged between 18 and 26 from registering.

The California congressman says he was angered that the Pentagon decided to open up over 200,000 military jobs to women, including all combat roles at the end of 2015 – but didn’t touch on equality before the draft board, AP reported.

Hunter, a former Marine, argued that it was the Representatives who “should make this decision,” not the administration. “It’s the families that we represent who are affected by this,” Hunter told the committee.

Hunter says he never intended for the motion to be carried, just for the issue to be discussed. He ultimately voted against his own proposal.

“A draft is there to put bodies on the front lines to take the hill,” said Hunter, trying to dissuade those in favor of the change. “The draft is there to get more people to rip the enemies’ throats out and kill them.”

Although the draft has never been used since 1973, when the US transitioned to an all-volunteer military in the wake of the Vietnam War, Hunter’s motion attracted widespread support among the Democrats on the committee.

“We should be willing to support universal conscription,” said Rep. Jackie Speier (D-California). “There’s great merit in recognizing that each of us have an obligation to be willing to serve our country in a time of war.”

All but one Democrat voted for the measure, with five Republicans joining them to carry the motion.

“We have a standards-based force now, and we don’t have a standards-based Selective Service,” Rep. Christopher P. Gibson (R-New York) said, according to The Washington Post.

The measure is now part of the proposed annual National Defense Authorization Act, which outlines defense spending for the fiscal year beginning October 1. It will go to a vote before the full House in May. If approved, it will have to make its way through the Senate.

April 28, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Militarism | , | Leave a comment

Crisis in Congo-Brazzaville: France’s hidden hand

By Gearóid Ó Colmáin | American Herald Tribune | April 27, 2016

Since the re-election on the 20th of March of President Denis Sassou-Nguesso for a controversial third term, the government of the Republic of Congo has been criticised by the international community for its alleged bombing of ‘civilian neighborhoods’, following post-election terrorist attacks in the country’s capital, Brazzaville. In reality, however, the West African nation is currently fighting the early stages of a  US/French or NATO-backed insurgency  – an attempt by NATO to destabilize a country moving closer to the BRICS sphere of influence. In this report, I examine the geopolitical and historical background of a West African political crisis of global significance.

In the aftermath of presidential elections on the 20th of March, which saw the controversial re-election of President Denis Sassou Nguesso with over 60 percent of the vote, there has been increasing instability in the Republic of Congo. Opposition candidates have vociferously contested the election results. This contestation has been encouraged by the French Government, the European Union, and the United States, who have all backed opposition candidates, in particular, Guy-Brice Parfait Kolélas, who came in second during the elections with 15% of the vote.

On the nights of the 4th and the 5th of April, terrorists attacked the country’s capital city Brazzaville killing seventeen people. Six police stations, two customs control stations, and the city hall were burned down. The terrorists were members of the Ninja Nsiloulhou organisation which is headed by Pastor Ntoumi, an old enemy of the president, and supporter of the losing opposition candidate Guy-Brice Parfait Kolélas.

Brutal crackdown on civilians?

On the 5th of April immediately after the attacks, the Congolese military conducted an anti-terrorist operation in the region of Pool, in the South of the country – a stronghold of the Ninja Nsilouhou terrorists and their political representatives. The terrorists had fought against Sassou-Nguesso’s forces during the civil war of 1998 to 2002. The Ninja Nsilouhou militia are composed of sectarian adventurists and mercenaries with connections to American and French intelligence.

Pastor Ntoumi, who is from the majority Congo ethnic group, has formed a new and surprisingly well-equipped army the Forces armées républicaines pour l’alternance au Congo (FARLC), the Republican Armed Forces for Regime Change in Congo. Ntumi’s forces have no economic programme for change. They are, rather, more concerned with ousting the Northern Mbochi  from power, the president’s ethnic group, a minority in the country.

Western imperial domination of Africa has traditionally relied on empowering minority ethnicities and tribes. However, over time, many of those regimes have overcome tribal divisions; thus depriving imperialism of the advantages of keeping subject nations divided. Although the Mbochi only constitute 12 percent of the country’s population, they occupy over 40 percent of government posts – a source of ethnic tension currently being instrumentalised by imperialism.

Amnesty International’s history of lies and war propaganda

Given the hostility of Western governments to the reelection of Sassou Nguesso, it should not be surprising to find that the first reaction of the French establishment media to the Congolese government’s crackdown on the Ninja terrorists came in the form of a condemnatory report by Amnesty International. The human rights organisation strongly condemned what it described as the bombing of civilian targets by the Congolese military. However, Amnesty International’s report  admits that the organization did not have access to the area in question and that they have not been able to confirm any of the accusations made by their anonymous sources in the Pool region.

The government of the Republic of Congo has issued a firm condemnation of Amnesty International’s report, stating that the dossier is not based on any evidence. Furthermore, Amnesty’s accusations have been contradicted by the Catholic humanitarian organization Caritas – who have also visited Pool and have not documented any military targeting of civilians. One of the lies told by Amnesty International about the Congolese military operation in Pool has already been exposed.

The human rights organisation claimed that a primary school in Soumouna was bombed. However, photographs dated from the 18th of April prove that the school was not bombed. One of the key ‘sources’ for Amnesty’s report is Monsignor Louis Portella, a close confidante of Pastor Ntumi, the aforementioned terrorist tracked by the Congolese military.

Amnesty’s report has provided ammunition for the opposition’s anti-Nguesso rhetoric , who are referring to the anti-terrorist operation in Pool as “genocide.” Although widely considered to be a reliable, objective and respectable organisation, Amnesty International has a long history of legitimising war propaganda on behalf of the United States and its allies.

The human rights group was instrumental in the assassination of Ghanaian leader Kwame Nkumra when he was being targeted by the CIA. Amnesty International have been accused of complicity in Nkumra’s assassination; they have also been accused of complicity in the death of Patrice Lumumba, first president of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Zbigniew Brzezinski (former U.S National Security Adviser to President Jimmy Carter) was among the former board members of Amnesty International; this was at a time when the human rights organisation was publishing reports condemning the democratic government of Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the CIA-backed Mujahadeen, part of Brzezinski’s ‘Arc of Crisis’ strategy, massacred the Afghan population with little or no criticism from Amnesty International.

Amnesty International’s record in exposing the crimes of Zionism is no better; the organisation helped cover up Israeli massacres in Shabra, Shatila, and Jenin in 1982.

In 1986, the human rights organisation published a damning report against the Sandinista government of Nicaragua which was used by the Reagan administration to justify more aid to the contra terrorists who would eventually destroy that country.

In the run-up to the Gulf War in 1991, Amnesty International colluded with the US military in orchestrating a fake story about Iraqi soldiers taking 312 newborn babies out of incubators in Kuwaiti hospitals and throwing them on the floor. The story, which shocked the world, provided the propaganda the US government needed to bomb Iraq – a bombing followed by crippling sanctions that murdered over 500,000 babies; it was the beginning of the destruction of the Middle East’s wealthiest and most advanced countries. The story was entirely fabricated by the US military. Amnesty International was the key agency behind the fraud – a dirty lie created to justify war and genocide.

Amnesty International colluded in the demonisation of Hugo Chavez by US-backed Putschists in the run-up to the 2002 coup in Venezuela. During years of brutal Apartheid rule in South Africa, Amnesty never condemned the brutal racist system.

In 2011, Amnesty International validated fake reports of ‘African mercenaries’ in Libya who were said to be committing massacres. The reports, entirely fabricated, were used to justify war against Africa’s richest and most democratic nations, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and an ongoing refugee crisis of catastrophic proportions.

Since the outbreak of NATO’s war against Syria, Amnesty International has produced nothing but lies and calumny against the democratic institutions of the Syrian Arab Republic. With a record like that, it is hardly surprising to find Amnesty International publishing another damning report against an African government Western imperialism is attempting to overthrow by force. (Read more here)

Why must Sassou Nguesso go?

Although nominally independent from France since 1958, the republic of Congo did not embark upon a true path of independence until the accession to power of Marien Ngouabi in 1968. For 9 years until his assassination in 1977, Ngouabi laid the basis for Africa’s first socialist state. The charismatic communist leader managed to align the People’s Republic of Congo with both the USSR and China, in spite of the ideological split between the Soviet revisionists and Maoist China.

Ngouabi also formed close links with Cuba. The communist revolutionary, who had an advanced degree in physics, was passionate about education and was arguably the greatest leader of African national liberation; but the dream came to a tragic and abrupt end in 1977 when he was murdered by a group of army officers most likely led by Joachim Yhombi-Obango; the assassination had the blessing of French and American intelligence. Both countries resumed diplomatic relations with Congo-Brazzaville immediately after Ngouabi’s murder.

Opango was deposed in 1978 by Denis Sassou-Nguesso; the new leader collaborated to a large extent with French neocolonial interests – a policy euphemistically referred to as ‘la Françafrique.’ Rumours about Nguesso’s role in the murder of Ngouabi have proliferated over the years, but there is still no conclusive evidence linking him to the communist leader’s death.

With the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, the French government forced the Congolese state to open up to multi-party-ism – a disastrous policy which led to the highly corrupt reign of French puppet Pascal Lissouba until Denis Sassou-Nguesso resumed power again in 2002 after a four-year civil war. Over the last decade, President Nguesso has brought the country closer to China, Russia, Brazil, and Cuba – old cold war allies (Brazil excepted) in  anti-colonialist struggle.

Building blocks of independence

Although Denis Sassou-Nguesso is certainly no angel and his regime may be guilty of serious crimes over the years, he does have some notable achievements under his belt; he has managed to restore peace to a war-torn country. His government has also overseen a period of steady economic growth. President Sassou Nguesso has initiated major economic projects designed to build up the country’s industrial base. In the next few months, an oil pipeline between Point Noire, Brazzaville and Oyo will be built by the Russian government. Moscow will also help construct two major hydroelectric dams in Sounda and Cholet. The Sounda region in the isolated north of the country is now connected with a new highway.

The Sassou-Nguesso administration has overseen significant advances in transport provision. Brazzaville’s state-of-the-art Maya Maya airport hosts a largely state-owned airline EC AIR, providing new direct transport routes to major world commercial destinations such as Dubai. The Maya Maya airport is set to become the biggest and busiest airport in Central Africa. The upgrading of the airport was carried out by Chinese company Weihei International, Economic and Technical Cooperative Co.Ltd.

In Pointe Noir, the country’s second principal city, the Augustino Neto airport is currently under construction. On the 22nd of February 2016, the Congolese government signed a contract with the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), for the construction of a new deep sea port in Pointe Noire. The port is expected to lead to significant economic development in the country. At the contract signing, the Chinese ambassador to the Republic of Congo reiterated his country’s commitment to the industrialization of the Congolese economy.

New road networks are under construction throughout the country. A monumental road and rail bridge is will connect Brazzaville and Kinshasa, as part of the Trans-African Highway Network. The Chinese are reportedly planning the construction of a new railway line from Brazzaville in the South to Ouesso in the North and from Djambala in the centre of the country to Pointe Noire on the coast; the project promises to be a major boost to trade and industrial development.

Many new public administration buildings are under construction in the country’s capital as part of the government’s drive to strengthen the efficiency of state institutions, improving public services and affirming national sovereignty. Sassou-Nguesso’s administration also intends to construct a 4 km bridge across the Congo River connecting Brazzaville to Kinshasa, capital of the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Congolese government plans to reduce dependence on oil export revenues by developing its agricultural industry. Meetings between the Congolese minister of agriculture and his Brazilian counterpart took place in both Brazil and the Republic of Congo in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Japan has also significantly increased investment in the Congolese Republic agribusiness.

As part of its preparations for hosting the Panafrican Music Festival, new cultural centres, theatres and cinemas are scheduled to be built. The new Sports Complex currently under construction in Kintélé will enable the country to host events of international stature, increasing investment revenue and promoting job creation.

Although modest, the Congolese government has shown some commitment to reducing poverty by building over 10,000 new social  units. The country, which currently has only one university named after Marien Ngouabi, is soon to have another when the Denis Sassou Nguesso university is completed in Kintele.

Sassou-Nguesso’s administration has initiated an ambitious project to provide free potable water to the country’s population. The project named ‘Water for All’ is being implemented in conjunction with Brazilian company Asperbras – one of the world’s leading specialists in the provision of public service infrastructure and heavy industry equipment. Asperbras is also constructing fourteen top-class hospitals throughout the country as part of the government’s project ‘Health for All‘.

Since the visit by Brazilian president Lula Ignacio da Silva to Brazzaville in 2007 (he opened Brazil’s first embassy in the country) Brazzaville and Brasilia have strengthened ties. There have been several visits by Congolese ministers to Brazil and the presidents of the two countries have met twice since 2012.

Nguesso’s government has benefited from significant Chinese investment in the oil industry. The Chinese have  also invested in the construction of major industrial projects such as the  business center in Mpila, and impressive viaducts in Brazzaville and Talangai.

Although the ruling Party of Labour abandoned their adherence to Soviet revisionist Marxism-Leninism in 1992, embracing official social-democracy and multi-party politics, Nguesso has continued to maintain strong ties with left-leaning countries such as Cuba, Brazil, China, and Russia.

The Western media portray Nguesso as a corrupt, power-hungry dictator siphoning off the country’s resources for his own clan or tribe, and some of these accusations may, in fact, be true. But the infrastructural projects mentioned above show that the country is building the basis of national independence through Chinese, Russian, and Brazilian investment in heavy industry. Such investment threatens Western neocolonial interests; those interests require the maintenance of Africa in a state of constant underdevelopment and dependence so that its natural resources can be pillaged by Western corporations.

Nguesso’s ties with Cuba go back to the Cold War era when the Caribbean nation played a key role in African liberation struggles –  a fact acknowledged by Nelson Mandela. Cuba’s socially-oriented economy has been subject to incessant demonisation for over half a century by the international corporate press, but not even they can deny the extraordinary achievements of the Cuban government in the provision of free education and health care of the highest standard.

The Republic of Congo’s Party of Labour has shown some fidelity to Ngouabi’s Marxist principles by sending  280 students to Havana to train as doctors. Cuban educators have been invited to the Congo to bring pedagogical methodologies with a view to improving the country’s education system.

The Empire’s strategic horizon: war

In April 2012, the French Ministry of Defense published a report ‘Horizons stratégiques’ that described the future of French interests in Africa. The report stated that competing powers such as China, India, Russia and Brazil, coupled with the rise of Pan-Africanist nationalism, pose the greatest threat to French interests on the continent.

The report indicates that problems such as ethnic conflict and religious terrorism will require the continued military presence of French troops in Africa and that those troops will liaise, not with sovereign states, but local private contractors. In other words, the future of French neocolonial interests in Africa depends on the fomentation of civil wars and the total privatisation of African nation-states.

Over the past 5 years, I have maintained that Western imperialism in this era is proceeding on the basis of leftist symbology. The CIA-backed Arab Spring people-power coups of 2011 testify to that fact. But the Arab Spring was only the beginning. Mathieu Pigasse the director of the Lazard Bank, confidante of President Hollande, and proprietor of the newspaper Le Monde, stated in 2012 that he wanted to see the Arab Spring ideology spread all over Africa. French companies, he argued, would in future only deal with ”civil society” organisations, rather than ”corrupt” African governments. What that ultimately means is that the oligarch Pigasse wants to see all African nation-states erupt in chaos so that their resources can be privatised by Western banks and corporations in the name of freedom, democracy, and the oligarchy’s newest slogan ‘popular revolution’.

The pseudo-leftist opposition media in France have been at the forefront of disinformation about the Republic of Congo. They frequently express outrage at the French government for supporting such a ‘genocidal’ regime in Africa, when in fact the French and U.S. governments are supporting its opponents.

We have already mentioned the lies validated by Amnesty International about Colonel Gaddafi’s recruitment of ‘African mercenaries’ who were reported to have massacred ‘peaceful demonstrators’ during the 2011 insurgency in Libya.

Similar stories have recently been concocted by powerful French interests. But some of those lies have backfired. The former director of the French giant oil company ELF Loïc Le Floch-Prigent and his lawyer Norbert Tricaud have been brought before a French court for defamation after they claimed French mercenary Patrick Klein had been recruited by the Congolese government to massacre political opponents. Klein has denied the accusations and taken Le Floch-Prigent to court for defamation.

It is interesting to note that attorney Norbert Tricaud has managed to recruit the granddaughter of Marien Ngouabi in his campaign to accuse President Denis Sassou-Nguesso of her grandfather’s assassination; yet in his interviews,Tricaud completely ignores the role of the CIA and French intelligence in Ngouabi’s murder. Nor is there any mention of the fact that Ngouabi’s French wife, the grandmother of Tricaud’s client, was in fact a French spy! No French or American officials have ever been prosecuted for the assassination of African leaders, in spite of the fact that the secret agencies of the United States and France were behind the murder of dozens of African revolutionaries and heads of state.

Tricaud claims, in one of his interviews, to be a lawyer engaged in the struggle against slavery and indigenous rights. He refers repeatedly to the government of Sassou-Nguesso as a ‘dictatorship’ notwithstanding the fact that Sassou-Nguesso’s administration was the first in Africa to pass laws giving rights to indigenous pygmy peoples, who for centuries have been enslaved by Bantou colonial settlers. It is important to study the deceptive methodology used by people like Tricaud. He appears to be critical of Western foreign policy of propping up of dictators in Africa, while simultaneously promoting imperial military intervention in the guise of humanitarianism.

On his Facebook page Norbert Tricaud (the man determined to find out who killed the communist revolution Marien Ngouabi) boasts of lobbying on behalf of the ultra-right wing General Mokoko with an advisor of US Secretary of State John Kerry, and various ‘NGOS’.  Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko attempted a coup d’Etat against the government of the Republic of Congo earlier this year and claimed to have the French government on his side.

A video posted on line shows Mokoko in the offices of Sylvain Maier planning a coup d’etat against Sassou-Nguesso with DGSE (French secret service) agent. In the film, the French secret service agent warns Mokoko” if you betray me, I’ll kill you”  The DGSE agent hands over flight tickets and an envelope of cash to Mokoko. The DGSE agent explains how French intelligence will orchestrate the media coverage of the coup d’etat so as to convince Congolese citizens that Mokoko is a democrat. He also explains how French intelligence will organise the post-coup state of emergency and military curfew, joking that ”most African’s are cowards” and will turn to the Putschists for protection.

The video was shot in the offices French lawyer Sylvain Maier, who has been prosecuted for money laundering.

Radio France Internationale, French state media, were able to confirm the authenticity of the video and did their best to distract from the disgraceful proof of the French neo-colonial conspiracy by claiming that the document was being used by the dictator to discredit a ‘serious’ opponent.

Also on his Facebook page, Tricaud calls for a ‘humanitarian corridor’ in Pool, to ‘protect civilians’. The phrase ‘humanitarian corridor’ was coined by Dr. Bernard Kouchner in 1968, when France was attempting to create a client state in Biafra, Nigeria. Kouchner, who had set up ‘Doctors without Borders’ called for such a corridor to be established in the country so as to help the civilians allegedly bombed by the Nigerian government. Ultimately thousands of weapons were smuggled in ambulances to the French-backed insurgents.

Norbert Tricaud recently joined a delegation of 19 Congolese politicians to lobby the US congress and the National Endowment for Democracy, a think tank closely linked to the CIA and a chief sponsor of ‘civil society’ led ‘popular uprisings’. These meetings prove that US/French-backed regime change in Brazzaville is now at an advanced stage of planning. Denis Sassou-Nguesso will indubitably become the next African leader to face mass media demonization and information warfare as a proxy war of aggression waged by mercenaries in the pay of France and the United States looks increasingly likely.

Sassou-Nguesso’s emphasis on heavy industry, public infrastructure, strengthening the authority and role of the state, while attracting more investment from emerging global powers, are the factors that have made him an enemy of the Empire. In his inauguration speech, Denis Sassou Nguesso pledged to combat corruption and nepotism. He said this term would be the beginning of a major rupture with the past. The Congolese president may have been referring to the fact that the balance of power in the world is shifting in favour of China, Russia, and the BRICS world order, and that such a seismic shift in the distribution of imperial power is good news for Africa.

Although, French government representative Jean-Luc Borloo unctuously described the president’s speech as a ”monument of vision,” it is clear that the French government and media establishment are backing the pseudo-opposition and their terrorist militia in a desperate attempt to save the old, crumpling, and utterly rotten colonial order.

The current concrete choice facing the people of Congo Brazzaville is relative peace and economic progress under Sassou Nguesso or chaos, war and death under his Western-backed opponents.

Congolese citizens would be well advised to ignore the Western-backed conspiracy theories surrounding Marien Ngouabi’s death and follow instead the path of Sassou Nguesso, who, despite his many shortcomings and alleged crimes, is doing more to revive the spirit of Marien Ngouabi than any of his opponents. The question now is not who killed Ngouabi but who among the country’s youth will fulfill his legacy.

April 28, 2016 Posted by | Deception | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Big money in politics doesn’t just drive inequality — it also fuels war

By Rebecca Green | OtherWords | April 20, 2016

The 2016 presidential elections are proving historic, and not just because of the surprising success of self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders, the lively debate among feminists over whether to support Hillary Clinton, or Donald Trump’s unorthodox candidacy.

The elections are also groundbreaking because they’re revealing more dramatically than ever the corrosive effect of big money on our decaying democracy.

Following the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision and related rulings, corporations and the wealthiest Americans gained the legal right to raise and spend as much money as they want on political candidates.

The 2012 elections were consequently the most expensive in U.S. history. And this year’s races are predicted to cost even more. With the general election still six months away, donors have already sunk $1 billion into the presidential race — with $619 million raised by candidates and another $412 million by super PACs.

Big money in politics drives grave inequality in our country. It also drives war.

After all, war is a profitable industry. While millions of people all over the world are being killed and traumatized by violence, a small few make a killing from the never-ending war machine.

During the Iraq War, for example, weapons manufacturers and a cadre of other corporations made billions on federal contracts.

Most notoriously this included Halliburton, a military contractor previously led by Dick Cheney. The company made huge profits from George W. Bush’s decision to wage a costly, unjustified, and illegal war while Cheney served as his vice president.

Military-industrial corporations spend heavily on political campaigns. They’ve given over $1 million to this year’s presidential candidates so far — over $200,000 of which went to Hillary Clinton, who leads the pack in industry backing.

These corporations target House and Senate members who sit on the Armed Forces and Appropriations Committees, who control the purse strings for key defense line items. And cleverly, they’ve planted factories in most congressional districts. Even if they provide just a few dozen constituent jobs per district, that helps curry favor with each member of Congress.

Thanks to aggressive lobbying efforts, weapons manufacturers have secured the five largest contracts made by the federal government over the last seven years. In 2014, the U.S. government awarded over $90 billion worth of contracts to Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman.

Military spending has been one of the top three biggest federal programs every year since 2000, and it’s far and away the largest discretionary portion. Year after year, elected officials spend several times more on the military than on education, energy, and the environment combined.

Lockheed Martin’s problematic F-35 jet illustrates this disturbingly disproportionate use of funds. The same $1.5 trillion Washington will spend on the jet, journalist Tom Cahill calculates, could have provided tuition-free public higher education for every student in the U.S. for the next 23 years. Instead, the Pentagon ordered a fighter plane that can’t even fire its own gun yet.

Given all of this, how can anyone justify war spending?

Some folks will say it’s to make us safer. Yet the aggressive U.S. military response following the 9/11 attacks — the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the NATO bombing of Libya, and drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen — has only destabilized the region. “Regime change” foreign policies have collapsed governments and opened the doors to Islamist terrorist groups like ISIS.

Others may say they support a robust Pentagon budget because of the jobs the military creates. But dollar for dollar, education spending creates nearly three times more jobs than military spending.

We need to stop letting politicians and corporations treat violence and death as “business opportunities.” Until politics become about people instead of profits, we’ll remain crushed in the death grip of the war machine.

And that is the real national security threat facing the United States today.

April 28, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Militarism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trump’s Worldview: Old Wine in New Bottles

By Stephen Lendman | April 28, 2016

Believe nothing politicians say. They all lie. Trump sent mixed messages in delivering his first foreign policy address. His worldview is more nightmarish than visionary.

His America first agenda features uni-polarity, nativism and US military supremacy while claiming to “want to live peacefully with Russia and China.”

Absent was urging respect for and adherence to rule of law principles along with wanting mutual cooperation among all nations.

He failed to denounce America’s imperial agenda, its phony war on terrorism as a pretext for endless aggression against nonbelligerent states threatening no others.

On the one hand, he called “(o)ur foreign policy… a complete and total disaster.” On the other, his “administration will lead a free world (sic) that is properly armed and funded…”

He lied about the Iran nuclear deal, calling it “disastrous.” In earlier comments, he vowed to rescind it, ignoring the obligation of P5+1 countries to observe agreed on principles – Iran in full compliance.

Saying Tehran “ignor(ed) its terms even before the ink was dry” was willful deception. America alone continues violating terms it agreed to observe.

Stressing “Iran cannot be allowed to have a nuclear weapon” ignores its peaceful program with no military component or indication it seeks one – along with failing to denounce Israel as the region’s sole nuclear armed and dangerous regional state, threatening its peace and stability.

Trump shamelessly called the Jewish state “the one true democracy in the Middle East… a force for peace and justice” – ignoring its longstanding anti-Palestinian genocidal agenda, ongoing viciousness as he spoke.

His address was a litany of misinformation, distortions and Big Lies.

Obama “watches helplessly as North Korea increases its aggression,” he blustered.

“China… continue(s) its economic assault on American jobs and wealth…” It’s waging cyberwar “to steal government secrets…”

“If President Obama’s goal had been to weaken America, he could not have done a better job.”

“We’re a humanitarian nation… (T)he legacy of the Obama-Clinton interventions will be weakness, confusion and disarray, a mess… We left Christians subject to intense persecution and even genocide.”

All of the above twists reality demagogically. North Korea threatens no one. For decades, Washington spurned its efforts to normalize relations with the West.

China doesn’t steal US jobs. Corporate America offshores them to numerous low-wage countries, bipartisan US policy doing nothing to stop the transformation of industrial America into a third world nation.

Trump conveniently ignored post-9/11 Bush wars of aggression, bipartisan complicity supporting them.

Clinton’s 1990s Balkan wars preceded them, raping and dismembering the former Yugoslavia.

Obama’s imperial agenda is more of the same, exceeding the worst of George Bush – Hillary Clinton as secretary of state orchestrating naked aggression on Libya and Syria.

Muslims, not Christians and Jews, are at risk in today’s dangerous world. Post-9/11, US foreign policy left millions dead, endless carnage continuing, Congress permitting it with outsized military appropriations for permanent war on humanity.

Who knows what Trump means about everything changing if he becomes president. “America is going to be strong again,” he ranted.

Claiming he wants “radical Islam” halted ignores its US creation and support. Surely he knows, but won’t say, perpetuating the myth of war on terrorism – failing to explain ISIS and similar groups can’t exist without foreign support.

“(W)e have to rebuild our military and our economy,” he blustered. Annual defense authorizations should be greatly reduced at a time America has no enemies.

Billions saved should be invested domestically to create jobs for the one out of four working-age Americans without them – and better ones for the millions of underemployed.

Trump shamelessly calls increasing America’s military strength “the cheapest, single investment we can make…Our military dominance must be unquestioned, and I mean…by anybody and everybody.”

At the same time, he stresses not wasting “one single dollar.” Pentagon policy is a longstanding sinkhole of waste, fraud and abuse. Trump bluster won’t change things.

Putting America first sounds like demanding other nations operate by US rules or else. Saying “I will not hesitate to deploy military force when there is no alternative” is no different from current imperial policy.

Insisting he wants “peace and prosperity, not war and destruction” suggests a pledge to be breached straightaway in office, continuing dirty business as usual.

Trump differs from rival candidates largely in style. If elected to succeed Obama, expect deplorable continuity, not responsible change.



Stephen Lendman 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.

April 28, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Wars for Israel | , , | 1 Comment

‘Hitler was a Zionist’ claim gets Ken Livingstone suspended from Labour

RT | April 28, 2016

Former London mayor Ken Livingstone has been suspended from the Labour party after he said Hitler had supported Zionism, during an interview where he defended a colleague accused of anti-semitism.

Livingstone refused to apologize for his comments and said people should not confuse criticizing the Israeli government’s policies with being anti-Semitic after being confronted by Labour MP John Mann, who called him a “Nazi apologist” and claimed he was “rewriting history.”

The row, which was captured on video, broke out after the veteran politician went on BBC Radio London to defend MP Naz Shah who was accused of anti-Semitism over a series of Facebook posts.

[In fact, many Jabotinsky citations read as though they could have been lifted right out of Mien Kampf. But then, racialism was practically ubiquitous in that era.]

“Let’s remember, when Hitler won his election in 1932 his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel,” Livingstone told BBC Radio London earlier on Thursday. “He was supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews.”

He later attempted to clarify his comments to the BBC and maintained that Naz Shah was not anti-Semitic: “I’ve heard a lot of people being critical of Israel, but if I was to denounce the South African government, you wouldn’t say I was racist – and one of my worries is this confusion with anti-Semitism and criticising the Israeli government policy undermines the importance of tackling real anti-Semitism.”

Shah apologized fully for promoting a Facebook post from 2014, which suggested relocating Israelis to America, but was later suspended.

Labour MPs including London mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan were quick to condemn Livingstone’s comments amid accusations by Prime Minister David Cameron that Labour “has got a problem with anti-Semitism”.

Shah has so far declined to comment on Livingstone’s remarks.

READ MORE:

Labour MP Naz Shah, who backed relocating Israel to US, resigns as Shadow Chancellor’s aide

April 28, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | 6 Comments

Drones kill more civilians than manned war planes. Why? That’s a state secret.

PrivacySOS | April 26, 2016

In his first public comments on the US drone campaign in Pakistan, President Obama described it as “a targeted, focused effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists who are trying to go in and harm Americans, hit American facilities, American bases, and so on.” In 2011, then-national security advisor to the president John Brennan said of the CIA drone campaign that “there hasn’t been a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities we’ve been able to develop.” Popular American mythology in the Obama era has held that drones are the surgeon’s tool in the endless, global war on terror. American soldiers and spies can knock off terrorists without bogging down the military in ground occupations, or killing civilians.

So says the myth. The reality is starkly different, according to scholar Micah Zenko.

Zenko examined civilian deaths from US military operations and found that drones kill more civilians than do piloted US aircraft—not fewer. “Drones are far less precise than airstrikes conducted by piloted aircraft, which themselves also conduct “precision strikes.” Drones result in far more civilian fatalities per each bomb dropped,” Zenko writes.

Zenko’s analysis shows us that the claims officials have long made about the supposed accuracy of drone strikes are dead wrong. But we don’t know why, in part because the US government refuses to disclose basic information about how it designates drone targets, or under what circumstances commanders order killings. It could be, as Zenko posits, “that the standards that need to be met before authorizing a [drone] strike are less rigid than Obama’s purported principle of “near certainty that the terrorist target is present.” This wouldn’t be surprising given that Obama continued the George W. Bush administration’s practice of “signature strikes” — killing anonymous suspected militants who appear to be associated with terrorists based upon their observable activity.”

If that’s the case, the US public and the victims of drone strikes have a right to know. But government secrecy and judicial evasiveness have conspired to keep us all in the dark about even the most basic legal theories upon which the CIA and military base their drone programs.

That secrecy has recently been reified. Just last week, a Washington D.C. federal appeals court tossed an ACLU lawsuit against the CIA seeking information about its drone operations. The court sided with the government, holding that releasing information about the drone program “could reasonably be expected to damage national security.”

As ACLU attorney Jameel Jaffer said, “Secret law is always invidious, but it’s particularly so here because of the subject matter.” Now we know the stories officials have been telling us for years about the laser-like accuracy of drone strikes are false. But thanks to secret law, we don’t know why.

April 28, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Germany Silences Erdogan Critics to Build New Air Force Base in Turkey

21st Century Wire | April 27, 2016

All of the recent, worrying attacks on free speech in Germany are starting to make sense.

It has just been announced that the German Air Force is set to start work on a $65 million project to establish a new military air base at Turkey’s Incirlik air base. It is set to be finished by Summer 2017.

RT reports that the project is looking to build accommodation for the permanent deployment of around 400 German soldiers, a fully equipped command and control post and facilities for a full wing of Tornado fighter-jets and an Airbus tanker.

In the weeks before this announcement, Germany began using a very obscure and rarely used law that apparently prevents citizens from criticising foreign heads of state to begin prosecuting a German comedian that had mocked Turkish President Erdogan.

German Chancellor Merkel took much criticism for allowing the prosecution to go ahead, but now we can see why Merkel was doing everything possible to appease the Turkish President.

It is definitely possible that Erdogan threatened to stop the proposed development of the German air base in Turkey unless Merkel stamped on his critics.

Erdogan has many reasons to fear criticism, primarily because the vast majority of it is absolutely justified. Turkey has been documented to be working with ISIS to smuggle oil out of Syria, and the Turkish government has just faced protests for suggesting a religious constitution should be enacted.

The economic situation is also taking a turn for the worst in Erdogan’s Turkey, as tourism to the nation has dropped a massive 40% due to the government’s reckless actions.

The fact that what is clearly free speech has been so openly trampled upon, to further the development of military progress, suggests that supposed Western priorities with peace and democracy are far from sincere.

April 28, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Popular representation and democracy in Syria – end of `Alawite dictatorship’?

By Kristian GIRLING | Oriental Review | April 27, 2016

Introduction

The Syrian parliamentary election of 13 April 2016 is demonstrative of the apparent and continuing plurality of Syrian society as manifested within the People’s Council – a parliamentary body which has often been regarded as merely a façade of legitimation for the ruling Baath Party government of President Bashar al-Assad. Plurality within the parliament is of significance insofar as it is indicative of the involvement of a range of religious communities in Syrian political life and runs directly contrary to the prevailing narrative of Syria as a dictatorship dominated by the Alawite religious community, of which the Assad family are members, and to the exclusion of the involvement of other religious communities in political activity.

Elections to the 250 member Syrian People’s Council take place every four years with the country divided into fifteen multiple seat constituencies. Since 2012 and amendments to the country’s constitution Syrian political life has been, in theory, open to participation to a wider array of political parties than the Baath and other permitted parties such as the Syrian Social Nationalist or Syrian Communist parties. Previously the Syrian Baath Party had looked likely to retain power in parliament indefinitely and indeed to dominate either directly by its own MPs or indirectly via allied parties and MPs. However, with the changes there is limitation on presidential office to seven years for any one candidate, no president can rule for more than two seven year terms, the president can now be someone who is not a member of the ruling National Progressive Front coalition, and the constitution no longer has a stipulation that the Baath Party is to be the normative and leading influence in Syrian socio-political life. Such changes may seem relatively minor and indeed the Baath Party will likely remain the de facto power in Syria for some time to come but they are indicative of President Assad’s openness to pursuing gradual reform on a model which is perceived as suitable for Syrian circumstances.

A key aspect of encouraging and maintaining societal stability in Syria since independence from French rule in 1946 has been to ensure that authoritative political leadership is combined with some type of broad representation of the plural religious and ethnic communities resident to Syria and ensure that they have a stake in determining Syria’s development. An important issue has been to ensure that those outside of the Alawite community have opportunities to take on representative roles and to know their contributions to Syrian society are valued. Criticism has focused on the Alawite strength and/or prevalence to many spheres of Syrian life but especially economically and in the security services to the detriment of others. The People’s Council appears to an extent to undermine these critiques as exemplified by the majority of seats being held by Syrians of the majority Sunni Muslim community.

Alawites and plural representation in the People’s Council

The Alawite community broadly identifies itself as part of Shia Islam having emerged in the late ninth/early tenth centuries in western Syria possibly around the figure of the eleventh Shia Imam, Hasan al-Askari. To the external observer it might seem that the Alawites are more a syncretistic movement containing aspects of Christianity and Twelver Shia Islam given, amongst other activities, they celebrate a type of Divine Liturgy including the consecration of wine alongside strong reverence for Ali ibn Abi Talib, the son-in-law and cousin of the Islamic prophet, Mohammed. This combination of — or plurality of — beliefs in part explains why the Assad family has consistently supported the notion of a plural Syria and the general advancement of a paradigm of laïcité for the Syrian state and in which, in theory, no-one religion should predominate to the detriment of another.

The Alawites currently form around ten–fifteen percent of the Syrian population (c.2,000,000 people) and are concentrated in the western coastal provinces of Latakia and Tartus. During the French Mandate in Syria (1923–1946) the Alawites were often strong supporters of French administration as their rule was perceived as a means to secure the Alawite community in a society which was not necessarily comfortable with their presence. Although Alawites consider themselves to be part of the Islamic milieu some Muslims, especially within the Sunni community, do not and find such assertions religiously and politically challenging.

The Alawite influence in the Syrian ruling élite within post-independence Syrian political affairs arose in the early 1970s when Hafez al-Assad (Bashar’s father) came to power as President. In general terms Hafez organised the state such that Sunnis held élite political offices and the Alawites held responsibility for the security services. The perception of the Syrian Baath establishment as a bastion of Alawite and to a lesser extent Christian power has not consistently sat well with the Syrian Sunni majority and it has been suggested that, in reality, they have been denied the opportunity to take a full part in Syrian political life. However, as I have noted, the People’s Council is predominantly Sunni and representative on a proportional level to the extent of almost matching the religious demographics of Syria:

Syriaethnicgroups

These figures for Syrian MPs by religion were the only available as of 27 April 2016.

Such a balance is important as a means to legitimise the Syrian government’s claims to being the lawful and representative body controlling the Syrian state insofar as it can affirm it represents the interests of the full range of Syrian communities but also demonstrative of Sunni willingness to commit to the existing political establishment and loyalist campaign against Da’esh and other terrorist factions.

It should be noted that within the People’s Council there is a strong diversity of MPs and whilst as might be expected Latakia and Tartus are dominated by Alawite representatives there are also Christian and Sunni MPs in these regions. Moreover, women of Shia, Sunni, Alawite, Druze and Christian background also take a full part in Syrian political life with 29 female MPs (11 percent). Such a scenario were Da’esh to have successfully occupied Syria would, of course, be unthinkable.

Critiquing the Syrian elections

It appears that whether or not the April 2016 Syrian elections were actually entirely free and fair that it is enough for claims and accusations to be advanced to ensure they are characterised as a `sham’ and not reflecting the true results and popular will of the people. Such claims do not appear to more than scratch the surface of what actually took place beyond continuing to follow the set narrative of President Assad as a dictator only interested in advancing Alawite interests and the elections as likely fraudulent with only Baath loyalists actually gaining positions in reality.

This is not to suggest that Syria’s political process and elections are necessarily more than a very basic level of democratic participation. However, the elections did take place and furthermore, the current Syrian government may be many things but it appears, at the very least, to be gradually encouraging the transition to a more representative style of political system. It may not be one which external observers approve of, or, is the ideal of those external powers seeking violent and radical change for Syria but it is a process of political development which is taking place in the Syrian context and as far as the current lawful government is concerned, is perceived as the most likely method to manage Syrian plurality and to ensure some type of peaceful if long-term change in governance can take place with the minimum of extremist political forces further damaging the mosaic of Syrian society.

It is notable that Western states can be far less critical of other Middle Eastern powers with whom they are allied and who appear to have similar political structures to Syria or limited interest in widening political participation. The Kingdom of Bahrain, for example, is a Sunni led and dominated constitutional monarchy. The monarch in effect, however, is the final deciding authority in Bahrain and, for example, directly appoints the members of the Bahrani upper parliamentary house. Moreover, the majority Shia population (65–75 percent) of Bahrain has struggled to gain a strong and active voice in Bahrani socio-political life. This is not to single out Bahrain for criticism — indeed it has, like Syria, begun to transition to a more representative type of governance — but to be aware of the comparative type of narratives which are being pursued in the region with states such as Bahrain portrayed as reliable and honourable allies of the West but the Syrian government as beyond the pale for engagement by Western and Gulf states. Accusations of impropriety in democratic processes being one of the means to continue to critique the rule of President Assad.

We might also compare the democratic representation in Western states such as the United Kingdom, which have been consistently critical of the Syrian government since 2012, with attempts to proportionately represent Syrian communities in the People’s Council. We can note, for example, following the 2015 UK General Election that despite the UK Independence Party and Green Party receiving respectively c. 3,800,000 and 1,100,000 votes both parties have only one MP in the House of Commons. Whereas, the Scottish National Party received c. 1,400,000 votes and have fifty-six MPs. The peculiarities of the UK’s `First Past the Post’ electoral system are such that these results are valid returns, nonetheless, the external observer might ask are these results just, and, do they convey and strengthen confidence in the legitimate representative nature of British democracy?

Conclusion

The results of the 2016 Syrian elections are suggestive of the population’s commitment to the ideal of plurality in Syria through a popular willingness to take part in the elections and gain access to some type of political representation for all Syrians. We can note that a key aspect of critiquing President Assad’s leadership is the notion that he rules as a dictator and this because he favours one section of the population over others on a confessional basis. Notwithstanding that such critiques might be more vigorously and profitably pursued against other states in the Middle East it also speaks to a lack of comprehension as to how the realities of Syria’s plural society affect the type of government and form of rule which is maintained.

Syria under the Assad-Baathist governments cannot be said to hold to a representative system which is readily appreciated or supported by external observers who are used to models found in liberal democratic capitalist societies or that the Syrian system is indeed supported by the majority of the Syrian people. Nonetheless, it is a political system which has been sustained for over half a century. If the status quo in Syria has seen Alawite predominance, other confessions have not been consistently denied the opportunity to take a part in Syrian socio-economic and political life — without at least the acquiescence of the majority of the Syrian Sunni population to Assad-Baathist rule such a paradigm could not and would not have been sustained for so long.

If we are to speak of an Alawite dictatorship or Alawite over-dominance in recent Syrian history the most apparent example is in a “dictatorship of the dead”. A disproportionate burden of Syrian Arab Army casualties in the campaigns against Da’esh and its allies have been borne by the Alawite community with up to a third of Alawite young men having been killed in the conflict. It is possible that the Alawite sacrifices in this regard are such that other Syrian communities are recognizant of the commitment which the Alawites have to maintaining Syrian plurality and sustaining some form of societal stability and peaceful social interaction which has led to Sunni, Christian, Druze and Shia continuing to support President Assad’s government and willingness to engage with the gradually reforming political process.

Kristian Girling is a freelance writer and a Post-doctoral Research Fellow at Heythrop College, University of London.

April 28, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

US Apocalypse in Mosul in the Guise of Bombing ISIS

By Felicity Arbuthnot | Dissident Voice | April 27, 2016

The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.
— Albert Camus, 1913-1960

On May 1st, 2003, George W. Bush stood in a dinky little flying suit on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and in a super stage managed appearance told the lie of the century:

Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country.

The illegal occupation and decimation of Iraq continued until December 2011. In June 2014 they returned to bomb again in the guise of combating ISIS. As the thirteenth anniversary of Bush’s ridiculous appearance with a vast “Mission Accomplished” banner behind him, Iraq is largely in ruins, Iraqis have fled the murderous “liberation” and its aftermath in millions, and there are over three million internally displaced.

The nation is pinned between a tyrannical, corrupt US puppet government, a homicidal, head chopping, raping, organ eating, history erasing, US-spawned ISIS – and a renewed, relentless US bombardment. So much for the 2008 US-Iraq State of Forces agreement, which stated that by 31st December 2011 “all United States forces shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory.”

On the USS Abraham Lincoln Bush stated:

In this battle, we have fought for the cause of liberty, and for the peace of the world … Because of you, our nation is more secure. Because of you, the tyrant has fallen, and Iraq is free.

In what has transpired to be monumental irony, he continued:

The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We have removed an ally of al-Qaida, and cut off a source of terrorist funding.

There was, of course, no al-Qaida in Iraq, no funding of fundamentalist terrorism under Saddam Hussein.  It is the invasion’s conception, birth, now reached maturity from Baghdad to Brussels, Mosul to the Maghreb, Latakia to London.

In Iraq, US terrorism from the air is back in all its genocidal force.

Incredibly on April 23rd, the Independent reported another staggering piece of either disinformation or childish naivety, in a predictably familiar script: “A spokesperson for the US military said all possible precautions were taken to avoid ‘collateral damage’”, but in approaching 7,000 airstrikes the number of confirmed civilian deaths had risen on Planet Pentagon to just – forty one.

In another past its sell by date mantra:

Colonel Patrick Ryder, a spokesperson for Central Command, said the casualties were “deeply regretted” but maintained that the campaign was the “the most precise air campaign in the history of warfare.”

And here’s another familiar one:

In this type of armed conflict, particularly with an enemy who hides among the civilian population, there are going to be, unfortunately, civilian casualties at times.

The Geneva Convention, amongst other Treaties, Principles and Conventions, is specific on the protections of populations in conflict, Colonel Ryder should familiarize himself with the texts.

So another onslaught in a quarter of a century of bombing Iraq is underway – another mass murder with a silly name “Operation Inherent Resolve.”

Here is reality from Dr Souad Al-Azzawi, Award winning environmental scientist who gained her Ph.D from the Colorado School of Mines.

She states of just the onslaught on Mosul, her home, the ancient university city of 1.5 million, that the stated figures from US spokespersons are: “either misinformed about the real situation on the ground, since they are using drones and guided missiles, or airstrikes blindly, intentionally not saying the truth.”

She adds:

I would like to list SOME of what the Americans’ airstrikes have been targeting and killing in Mosul:

Destroyed are all state services buildings, including Municipalities in right and left sides of Mosul. When they bomb at night, all security personnel get killed or injured, also residents of close by areas, and adjacent properties are destroyed.

Bombed and destroyed all communication centers.

Destruction of Dairy Production Factories in both left and right sides of Mosul. Casualties of these two are one hundred deaths and two hundred injuries among civilians who gathered to receive milk and dairy products from the factories.

Dr Al-Azzawi reminds that this is reminiscent of the bombing of the baby milk factory outside Baghdad in 1991 with the claim it was a chemical weapons factory. This writer visited the factory ruins just months later.  There were still charred containers of milk powder – the machinery was provided and maintained by a company in Birmingham, England which specialized in infant food production.

* Bombing of Mosul Pharmaceutical Industries.

* Mosul University was bombed with ninety two deaths and one hundred and thirty five injuries. Earlier estimates were higher, but many were pulled from the rubble alive. “They were students, faculty members, staff members, families of faculties, and restaurants workers.”

*Al Hadbaa and Al Khadraa Residential Apartment compounds. Fifty people killed (families) and one hundred injured.

* Hay al Dhubat residential area in the right side of Mosul, two days ago, five women women and four children killed and the whole house destroyed. The father is a respected pharmacist who has nothing to do with ISIL.

* Destruction of houses in front of the Medical College, killed twenty two civilians – eleven in one family.

* Bombing Sunni Waqif Building, twenty deaths and seventy injuries   which included those in nearby commercial and residential buildings.

* Car maintenance industrial areas in both left and right sides of Mosul destroyed with civilian’s casualties.

* Bombing of flour factories in both sides of Mosul.

* Rafidain and Rasheed banks and all their branches in both sides of Mosul. Destruction of all commercial and residential areas in the vicinity of these places, with as yet unknown civilian casualties. (My emphasis.)

* Central Bank of Mosul in Ghazi Street, with nearby residential and commercial properties.

* Pepsi factory, currently producing ice cubes only. Three deaths and twelve injuries among the workers.

* The Governor’s house and close by guest house.

* Mosul’s old industrial compound destroyed, with parking area for fuel Tankers and cars. Three days ago, huge explosion of fuel tankers, one hundred and fifty deaths and injuries.

* Urban Planning Directory in Hay al Maliyah bombed.

* Engineering Planning Directory in Hay al Maliyah bombed.

* Food Storages in left side of Mosul bombed.

* Drinking water treatment plants bombed.

* All electrical generation and transformer stations in the left side of Mosul bombed.

* Domez land communications center in left side of Mosul destroyed.

*Al Hurairah Bridge – and many more.

There is a sickening familiarity to some of the targets – food, pharmaceuticals, water treatment plants, electricity generation, communications and educational facilities, bridges (the country, towns and cities are divided by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers) have been favoured targets since 1991. Every time painstakingly and imaginatively restored they have been re-bombed for a quarter of a century.

During the 1990s a Canadian film crew captured footage of US ‘planes dropping flares on harvested wheat and barley, incinerating entire harvests in a country, which due to the strangulating embargo, there were near famine conditions in parts of society.

“When Iraqi civilians looked into the faces of our servicemen and women, they saw strength, and kindness, and good will”, said George W Bush in his “Mission Accomplished” speech.

No, they saw invaders destroying their lives, their families, their history, raping, pillaging. They saw Falluja’s destruction, Abu Ghraib’s horrors and the eleven other secret prisons and nightmares ever ongoing.

On April 25th, Dr Al-Azzawi added:

More war crimes have been committed by American Coalition, yesterday April 24, 2016. The coalition airplanes bombed Rashidiya water treatment plant left side of Mosul city and Yermouk electricity generation station in the right side of Mosul. Through targeting these populations’ life sustaining necessities, the coalition is committing genocidal action towards Mosul residents in the pretext of fighting ISIS.

Also on 25th April, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kate Gilmore, on returning from a week in Iraq wrote starkly of the government:

Iraqis are crying out for fairness, recognition, justice, appreciation and meaningful participation in shaping their future – a process that goes forward and not backwards … We all have responsibilities towards the people of Iraq. While there is an international military coalition in place, a comparably resourced international coalition of practical compassion is also needed to help with the building blocks towards a sustained peace in Iraq.

In the US military lexicon it seems “compassion” has been replaced by their missiles of choice.

Ms Gilmore also stated that Iraq was being run by a failed government and warned foreign powers not to be “complicit” in its neglect of the plight of normal Iraqis.

Further: “The international community must not allow itself to be made complicit with the failed leadership of Iraq … There is political paralysis in Iraq. There is no government in Iraq”, she stated blisteringly of America and Britain’s illegal, abortive, parliamentary project.

“Our commitment to Liberty is America’s tradition … We stand for human liberty”, concluded Bush on the USS Abraham Lincoln.

Were mistruths ever bleaker? And when will George W. Bush, Charles Anthony Lynton Blair and their cohorts answer for their crimes in a Court of Law?

April 28, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Fukushima ice wall won’t stop all radioactive groundwater from seeping out – chief architect

RT | April 28, 2016

An ice wall being built at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant won’t completely prevent groundwater from flowing inside the facility and leaking out into the earth as radioactive water, according to a chief architect of the project.

Chief architect Yuichi Okamura told AP that gaps in the wall and rainfall will still allow for water to creep into the facility and reach the damaged nuclear reactors, which will in turn create as much as 50 tons of contaminated water each day.

“It’s not zero,” Okamura, a general manager at Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said. “It’s a vicious cycle, like a cat-and-mouse game… we have come up against many unexpected problems.”

The wall, which will be 1.5km (1 mile) long, will consist of an underground pipe network stretching 30 meters (100 feet) below the surface, around the reactor and turbine buildings. The pipes are designed to transport refrigerant cooled to -30° Celsius (-22°F) to chill the nearby soil until it freezes.

The barrier is being turned on in sections for tests, and the entire freezing process will take eight months since it was first switched on in late March. The process requires an amount of electricity that would power 13,000 Japanese households.

Despite its current efforts, TEPCO – the operator of the Fukushima plant – has been fiercely criticized by those who say the groundwater issue should have been forecast and dealt with sooner.

Shigeaki Tsunoyama, an honorary professor and former president of University of Aizu in Fukushima, said that building a concrete wall built into the hill near the plant after the disaster would have minimized the contaminated water issue.

Okamura acknowledged that the option of building a barrier at a higher elevation near the plant was considered in the days following the disaster, but defended the actions of TEPCO, stressing that the priority is on preventing contaminated water from escaping into the Pacific Ocean.

Others have criticized the US$312 million wall, which is being built by construction company Kajima Corp., as a waste of taxpayer money.

TEPCO has repeatedly faced criticism for its handling of the Fukushima crisis, which occurred after a massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami led to a meltdown of reactors at the facility in March 2011. The disaster was the worst nuclear accident to take place since Chernobyl in 1986.

The company has admitted that it did not act properly during the disaster, confessing in February that it announced the nuclear meltdowns far too late. It also stated in a 2012 report that it downplayed safety risks caused by the incident, out of fear that additional measures would lead to a shutdown of the plant and further fuel public anxiety and anti-nuclear campaigns.

Despite the ongoing problems encountered following the meltdowns, TEPCO has set 2020 as the goal for ending the plant’s water problem – an aim which critics say is far too optimistic.

However, the water problem is just part of the monumental challenges faced at the facility. Controlling and dismantling the plant is expected to take 40 years. Robots have been tasked with taking photos of the debris, as the radiation levels are too high for humans to complete the job.

April 28, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism, Nuclear Power | , | Leave a comment

Hamas bloc wins over student vote in Birzeit University elections

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Ma’an – April 28, 2016

RAMALLAH – A student bloc of the Hamas movement on Wednesday came out on top in the closely-followed elections at Birzeit University in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.

Following debates between factions vying for the student vote, the pro-Hamas al-Wafaa Islamic bloc claimed victory after gaining 25 seats, with the Yasser Arafat bloc of the Fatah movement trailing behind with 21 seats.

The bloc representing Leftist movement Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine for its part came out with five seats, while other leftist parties including the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Palestinian People’s Party did not receive enough votes to garner a seat.

Voter turnout was reported as 76 percent of the student body.

The Islamic bloc last year won elections for the first time since 2007 at the historically staunchly pro-Fatah campus, taking observers by surprise.

As this year marked ten years since the last national elections, university elections are seen as important indicators of public opinion by political commentators in Palestine and Birzeit is considered to be the most important campus in the yearly political contests.

The Hamas movement congratulated the Islamic bloc for its win at Birzeit and said the victory was an indicator that the movement still had strong sway among the Palestinian public.

The Gaza-based movement said the win came despite efforts by both the Israeli authorities and Palestinian Authority to suppress the Hamas vote, citing the detention of Student Council President Saif al-Islam Daghlas and other students.

Human Rights Watch last year slammed the PA for detaining Palestinian university students across the West Bank after elections “for no apparent reason other than their connection to Hamas or their opinions.”

Hamas’ victory over Fatah comes as the rival factions have shown continued failure to follow through on with attempts to form a unity government since April 2014, after being on cold terms since 2006 when Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections.

In the following year, violent clashes erupted between Fatah and Hamas, leaving Hamas in control of Gaza and Fatah in control of the occupied West Bank.

Factional disputes between Palestinian factions have been on the rise since a wave of unrest erupted across the occupied Palestinian territory in October.

Hamas and PFLP in particular have lambasted the PA’s ongoing security coordination with Israel as an alleged attempt to quash resistance against the Israeli occupation, while Hamas last summer accused the PA of attempting to eradicate the movement from the West Bank.

Elections haven’t been held in the occupied Palestinian territory for ten years and the public has grown increasingly disillusioned with Palestinian political parties.

Frustration has grown among the youth in particular, with growing numbers showing preference for participating in demonstrations or resistance that are not affiliated with any political party.

April 28, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment