Aletho News


If Russia Had ‘Freed’ Canada

By Joe Lauria | Consortium News | May 5, 2016

As the United States plans to move thousands of NATO troops to Russia’s borders and continues to bolster a fiercely anti-Russian regime in neighboring Ukraine, the official line in Washington and its subservient corporate media is that beneficent America is simply seeking to curtail Moscow’s “aggression.” But the U.S. government and media might look at things quite differently if the shoe were on the other foot.

What, for instance, would the U.S. reaction be if Russia instead had supported the violent overthrow of, say, Canada’s government and assisted the new Ottawa regime’s “anti-terrorist operations” against a few rebellious “pro-American” provinces, including one that voted 96 percent in a referendum to reject the new Russian-backed authorities and attach itself to the U.S.?

If the U.S. government tried to help these embattled “pro-American” Canadians – and protect the breakaway province against the Russian-installed regime – would Washington see itself as the “aggressor” or as simply helping people resist anti-democratic repression? Would it view Russian troop movements to the U.S. border as a way to stop an American “invasion” or rather an act of “aggression” and provocation by Russia against the United States?

The Ukraine Reality

Before playing out this hypothetical scenario, let’s look at the actual scene in Ukraine today as opposed to the gross distortion of reality fed the American people by the U.S. mainstream media the past two years. The reality is not the State Department’s fable of a pro-democracy “revolution” cleaning up corruption and putting Ukrainian people first.

In the real world instead, extreme right-wing nationalists took control of a popular protest by mostly western Ukrainians to spearhead a violent coup that succeeded on Feb. 22, 2014, in overthrowing President Viktor Yanukovych, a man whom I interviewed in 2013 after he had been democratically chosen in an election certified by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Proof of the U.S. role in the coup came in a leaked telephone conversation several weeks earlier between U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, and Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. In the conversation, Nuland and Pyatt discussed how the U.S. could “midwife” the unconstitutional change of government and they rated which Ukrainian politicians should be put in charge, with Nuland declaring “Yats is the guy,” a reference to Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

As for the European Union’s less aggressive approach to the Ukraine situation, Nuland declared: “Fuck the E.U.”

Nevertheless, after the coup, Western governments denied there ever was a coup, peddling the line that Yanukovych simply “ran away,” as though he woke up one morning and decided he didn’t want to be president anymore.

In fact, on Feb. 21, to contain the mounting violence, Yanukovych signed a European-brokered deal to reduce his powers and to hold early elections. But the next day, as right-wing street-fighters overran government buildings, Yanukovych fled for his life – and the West moved quickly to consolidate a new government under anti-Russian politicians, including Nuland’s choice—Yats as prime minister. (Yatsenyuk remained prime minister until last month when he resigned amid complaints that his stewardship had been disastrous for the Ukrainian people.)

A Resistance Emerges

Since the vast majority of Yanukovych’s support came from the ethnically Russian eastern half of the country, some Yanukovych backers rose up to challenge the legitimacy of the coup regime and to defend Ukraine’s democratic process.

Instead the West portrayed this resistance as a Russian-instigated rebellion against the newly minted and U.S.-certified “legitimate” government that then launched a violent repression of eastern Ukrainians who were deemed “terrorists.”

When Russia supported the resisters with weapons, money and some volunteers, the West accused Russia of an “invasion” and “aggression” in the east. But there has never been satellite imagery or other proof of this alleged full-scale Russian “invasion.”

In the midst of the Kiev “anti-terrorist” offensive in the east, on July 17, 2014, a Malaysian commercial airliner, Flight MH-17, was shot out of the sky, killing all 298 people on board. The United States, again offering no proof, immediately blamed Russia.

Over the past year, the fighting has been largely contained after Russian, Ukrainian and European leaders negotiated the Minsk Accords, though they are far from being implemented and widespread violence could break out again at any time.

Throughout the entire crisis the United States has insisted its motives are pure, including its new plans for deploying some 4,000 NATO troops, including about half American, on Russia’s Eastern European borders north of Ukraine.

President Barack Obama told the U.N. General Assembly last year that the U.S. had no economic interests in Ukraine. But former State Department official Natalie Jaresko served as Ukraine’s finance minister until recently and Vice President Joe Biden’s son sits on the board of a major Ukrainian company. U.S. investment also has increased since the coup.

Yanukovych’s overthrow occurred after he chose a Russian economic plan rather than sign an association agreement with the European Union, which Ukrainian economic analysts warned would cost the country $160 billion in lost trade with Russia.

The E.U. plan would also have opened Ukraine to Western neoliberal economic strategies designed to exploit the country for the benefit of Western capital and local oligarchs (one of whom, Petro Poroshenko, emerged as the new president).

Turning the Tables

To help American readers better understand what has transpired in Ukraine, it may be useful to see what it would be like if the tables were turned. What would the story be like if Russia played the role of the U.S. and Canada the role of Ukraine? Most Americans would not be pleased.

In this reverse scenario, the world’s mainstream media would follow Moscow’s line and present the story as a U.S. “invasion” of Canada. The media would explain the movement of Russian troops to the U.S. border as nothing more than a peaceful step to deter U.S. “aggression.”

But Americans might see matters differently, siding with the breakaway Maritime provinces resisting the Moscow-engineered violent coup d’etat in Ottawa. In this scenario, Prince Edwards Islanders would have voted by over 90 percent to secede from the pro-Russian regime in Ottawa and join the United States, as Crimea did in the case of Ukraine. People in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick – stressing their close historic ties to America – also would make clear their desire not to be violently absorbed by the Ottawa coup regime.

In this alternative scenario, Moscow would condemn Prince Edwards Island’s referendum as a “sham” and vow never to accept its “illegal” secession. The popular resistance in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick would be denounced as “terrorism” justifying a brutal military crackdown by Russian-backed Canadian federal troops dispatched to crush the dissent. In this “anti-terrorist operation” against the breakaway region, residential areas would be shelled killing thousands of civilians and devastating towns and cities.

In this endeavor, the Canadian army would be joined by Russian-supported neo-fascist battalions that had played a crucial role in the overthrow of the Canadian government. In the Maritime city of Halifax, these extremists would burn alive at least 40 pro-U.S. civilians who took refugee in a trade union building. The new government in Ottawa would make no effort to protect the victims, nor conduct a serious investigation to punish the perpetrators.

Ignoring a Leak

Meanwhile, proof that Russia was behind the overthrow of the elected Canadian prime minister would be revealed in a leaked conversation between Moscow’s foreign ministry chief of the North America department and the Russian ambassador to Canada.

According to a transcript of the leaked conversation, the Moscow-based official would discuss who the new Canadian leaders should be several weeks before the coup took place. Russia would launch the coup when Canada decided to take a loan package from the U.S.-based International Monetary Fund that had fewer strings attached than a loan from Russia.

Russia’s ally in Beijing would be reluctant to back the coup. But this would seem to be of little concern to Moscow’s man who is heard on the tape saying, “Fuck China.” Although this conversation would be posted on YouTube, its contents and import would be largely ignored by the global mainstream media, which would insist there was no coup in Ottawa.

Yet, weeks before the coup, the Russian foreign ministry official would be filmed visiting protesters camped out in Parliament Square in Ottawa demanding the ouster of the prime minister. The Russian official would give out cakes to the demonstrators.

The foreign ministers of Russian-allied Belarus and Cuba would also march with the protesters through the streets of Ottawa against the government. The world’s mainstream media would portray these demands for an unconstitutional change of government as an act of “democracy” and a desire to end “corruption.”

In a speech, the Russian foreign ministry official would remind Canadian businessmen that Russia had spent $5 billion over the past decade to “bring democracy” to Canada, much of that money spent training “civil society” activists and funding anti-government “journalists.” The use of these non-governmental organizations to overthrow foreign governments that stand in the way of Russia’s economic and geo-strategic interests would have been well documented but largely ignored by the global mainstream media.

But recognizing the danger from these “color revolution” strategies, the United States would move to ban Russian NGOs from operating in the U.S., a tactic that would be denounced by Russia as America’s rejection of “democracy.”

The Coup Succeeds

The Canadian coup would take place as protesters violently clashed with police, breaking through barricades and killing a number of police officers. Snipers would fire on the police and the crowd from a nearby Parliament Square building under the control of hardline pro-Russian extremists. But the Russian government and the mainstream media would blame the killings on the embattled Canadian prime minister.

To stem the violence, the prime minister would offer to call early elections but instead would be driven from office violently by the pro-Russian street gangs. Russia and the global mainstream news media would praise the overthrow as a great step for democracy and would hail the pro-Russian street fighters who had died in the coup as the “Heavenly Hundred.”

Following the coup, Russian lawmakers would compare President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler for allegedly sending U.S. troops into the breakaway provinces to protect the populations from violent repression, and for accepting the pleas of the people of Prince Edward Island to secede from this new Canada.

Obama would be widely accused of ordering an “American invasion” and committing an act of “American aggression” in violation of international law. But the Maritimes would note that they had long ties to the U.S. dating back to the American Revolution and didn’t want to live under a new regime imposed by a faraway foreign power.

Russia would claim intelligence proving that U.S. tanks crossed the Maine border into New Brunswick, but would fail to make the evidence public. Russia would also refuse to reveal satellite imagery supporting the charge. But the claims would still be widely accepted by the world’s mainstream news media.

For its part, Washington would deny it invaded but say some American volunteers had entered the Canadian province to join the fight, a claim met with widespread media derision. Russia’s puppet prime minister in Ottawa would offer as proof of an American invasion just six passports of U.S. soldiers found in New Brunswick.

Taking Aim at Washington

When – during one of the new regime’s “anti-terrorist” offensives – a passenger jet would be shot down over Nova Scotia killing all on board, Russia would accuse President Obama of being behind the outrage, charging that the U.S. had provided the powerful anti-aircraft missile needed to reach a plane flying at 33,000 feet.

But Moscow would refuse to release any intelligence to support its claim, which would nevertheless be accepted by the world’s mainstream media.

The plane’s shoot-down would enable Russia to rally China and other international allies into imposing a harsh economic boycott of America to punish it for its “aggression.”

To bring “good government” to Canada and to deal with its collapsing economy, a former Russian foreign ministry official would be installed as Canada’s finance minister, receiving Canadian citizenship on her first day on the job.

Of course, Russia would deny that it had economic interests in Canada, simply wanting to help the country free itself from oppressive American domination. But Russian agribusiness companies would take stakes in Albertan wheat fields and the son of Russia’s prime minister as well as other well-connected Russians would join the board of Canada’s largest oil company just weeks after the coup.

Russia’s ultimate aim, beginning with the imposition of the sanctions on the U.S. economy, would appear to be a “color revolution” in Washington, to overthrow the U.S. government and install a Russia-friendly American president.

This goal would become clear from numerous statements by Russian officials and academics. A former Russian national security adviser would say that the United States should be broken up into three countries and write that Canada would be the stepping stone to this U.S. regime change. If the U.S. loses Canada, he would declare, it would fail to control North America.

But the world’s mainstream media would continue to frame the Canadian crisis as a simple case of “American aggression.”

This fictional scenario perhaps lays bare the absurdity of the U.S. version of events in Ukraine.

Joe Lauria is a veteran foreign-affairs journalist based at the U.N. since 1990. He can be reached at and followed on Twitter at @unjoe.

May 5, 2016 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | Leave a comment

About Bias and Propaganda on Syria

Open Letter to MSF/Doctors without Borders

By Rick Sterling | Dissident Voice | May 4, 2016

Dear MSF International President Dr. Joanne Liu,

Your organization is well regarded and influential. I appreciate that many good people work for and support MSF/Doctors Without Borders. However, I need to inquire about your independence and the consequences of your work in Syria. I believe an objective look will reveal that while you are helping in some areas, you are causing harm in others.

Following are questions on this important issue:

  1. As you know, Aleppo is a large city with the government forces holding western Aleppo while other parts of the city are dominated by armed opposition groups, primarily Nusra/Al Qaeda.  About 1.5 to 2 million people live in the government areas with about 200 to 250 thousand in the areas controlled by armed opposition. So 80-90 % of the population is in government-controlled areas. This is rarely mentioned but seems important. Given this fact, is it true that you provide aid and support only to the opposition held areas?

On April 21 the Western and Gulf backed “High Negotiations Committee” announced they were quitting the Geneva negotiations. The next day, hundreds of mortars and bombs started being launched into western Aleppo from the zones controlled by Nusra and other terrorist groups. These bombs are powerful, wounding and killing indiscriminately. Syrian journalist Edward Dark noted that western media and groups such as MSF were silent on this even though hospitals were being hit, dozens of children and civilians killed. On twitter he reported day by day …..

* “West Aleppo is simply being obliterated by rebel shelling. A city of 2 million people is being butchered.”

* “Carnage and devastation as ‘moderate rebel’ bombs fall on west Aleppo like rain”

* “Terrorist rebel bombs are still falling like rain on west Aleppo. 15 people murdered at a mosque in Bab Faraj after Friday prayers”

* “This is the hospital where my son was born. Dabeet Hospital in W. Aleppo completely destroyed by rebel shelling.”

Has MSF denounced these killings and attacks on hospitals in western Aleppo?

The unconcern about indiscriminate attacks and killing in government-held areas of Aleppo has also been denounced by Syrian-Canadian physician Dr. Nabil Antaki. He has recently written:

With regards to recent events in Aleppo, I state very clearly that the mainstream media are lying by omission… All of us here in Aleppo are disgusted by their lack of impartiality and objectivity. They only talk about the loss of life in east of Aleppo which is entirely controlled by Al Nusra…. These are their ‘moderate rebels’ …This same media remains silent on the daily losses and suffering endured in the Western areas of Aleppo living under the rain of mortar fire from these terrorist factions. This media never mentions the continuous bombardment and the carnage we have witnessed in western Aleppo where every single sector has been targeted. On a daily basis we see dozens of people murdered….. For three days now, these media outlets have been accusing the “Assad regime” of bombing an MSF hospital to the east of Aleppo and of killing the last pediatrician in the city. This demonstrates that, for these media, the only priority is this pocket of the city where terrorists are embedded. The three quarters of Aleppo under Syrian government control, where numerous pediatricians are practicing, is of no consequence.

Dr. Liu, will you meet with Dr. Antaki?  Perhaps he could give you a tour and confirm to you what he says. He is a well known and respected doctor in Aleppo and fellow Canadian citizen.

There are many discrepancies in reports about the April 27 attack on Al Quds Hospital. MSF Middle East Operations Manager Pablo Marco, interviewed the next day on CNN and PBS Newshour, said “there were two barrel bombs that fell close to the hospital …. then the third barrel bomb fell in the entrance of the hospital”. Barrel bombs are only delivered by helicopters. In contrast, your press release the same day says “the hospital was destroyed by at least one airstrike which directly hit the building, reducing it to rubble.” A CBC report continued this version, claiming “An MSF-supported hospital in the northern Syria city of Aleppo is now a pile of rubble. Airstrikes brought down the building on Wednesday.” The hospital photograph indicates it is not a “pile of rubble” and it’s unclear where the damage is. The sandbag reinforcement and damaged car in front indicate it might have been a battle scene but the rest is unclear.  Which story is correct and accurate?

The number of fatalities has varied from initial death counts of 14 to later reports of over 50. How are these numbers verified?

MSF representatives Pablo Marco and Muskilda Zancada suggest it was a deliberate and intentional attack on the hospital. In an interview Ms. Zancada says “Al Quds Hospital has been functional for more than 4 years so it was basically impossible that this information was not known… The facts are pointing to this being a deliberate attack.” In contrast with Ms. Zancada’s assertions, most Aleppans have never heard of “Al Quds Hospital”. The “hospital” did not exist before the conflict and the photo shows an unidentified apartment building. Is it accurate to call this facility a “hospital”? Mr. Marco claimed that MSF supported personnel visited the hospital every other week so there must be many reports, documents and photos confirming whether it was a 34 bed hospital. Otherwise, it seems fair to say this was actually a medical clinic in the ground floor of an unmarked and largely abandoned apartment building.

  1.  Can Mr. Marco or Ms. Zancada please identify the damage inflicted by the airstrike (or barrel bomb) at Al Quds Hospital on April 27?  The Russian Ministry of Defense has released a photograph indicating the building had similar damage in October 2015.
  1. As you know, Nusra/Al Qaeda is considered ‘terrorist’ by all parties including the US, French, and Canadian governments. Does the Al Quds Hospital primarily or significantly serve Al Qaeda and/or other terrorist fighters? If so, are your supporters aware they are assisting fighters who launched bombs attacking western Aleppo as shown here and previously destroyed the once prized Al Kindi Hospital with a huge truck bomb as shown here? I appreciate you have a commitment to the hippocratic oath but given the widespread medical needs, why are you prioritizing assistance to Nusra/Al Qaeda?
  1. Many videos from Al Quds Hospital feature members of the “White Helmets”. Are you aware the White Helmets was established by the US and UK with initial training in Turkey by a UK military contractor? Are you aware the organization is not independent or neutral and has explicitly called for western intervention in Syria? The origins of the “White Helmets” is documented here . There is an online petition denouncing this clever but cynical marketing campaign here.
  1. Can you you please compare and contrast the videos showing attacks at MSF- supported Al Quds Hospital with videos showing attacks in western Aleppo? The videos from Al Quds Hospital are here and here with an animated one here. The attacks in western Aleppo including an attack on Al Dabeet Hospital are here, here and here. Do you see the difference between videos from armed opposition area vs. those from western Aleppo? Some look authentic and some look possibly staged.
  1. We know that many Western and Gulf countries are providing funds to help the armed opposition in Syria. For example in 2012 the Canadian government said “the reason the $2 million was being channeled through Canadian Relief for Syria instead of the UN or International Committee of the Red Cross was because it was intended for Syrian opposition groups and was not humanitarian aid.” Is MSF directly or indirectly receiving grants or funds from the Canadian, French or US governments to serve Syrian opposition groups?
  1. There has been a wave of media coverage of Al Quds Hospital and the death of Dr. Moaz (sometimes spelled Maaz). Some of the reports are clearly intended to tug at the heart and natural sympathy of people. Unfortunately propagandists can be effective in this area as they seek to manipulate public opinion. There are many examples with the Kuwaiti babies and incubators being one of the most famous frauds as it successfully won public support for Gulf War 1. Both Amnesty International and the International Red Crescent were (unwittingly) part of the fraud. My point is this: Some of the Al Quds Hospital stories are questionable and may be fraudulent. For example the letter from a fellow physician acclaiming Dr Moaz was published by “The Syria Campaign” which is the marketing creator of the “White Helmets”. The letter is supposedly from a fellow doctor who might or might not be real. They use a false name yet claim he “manages the Children’s Hospital in Aleppo”. Another questionable piece of ‘evidence’ of the death of Dr. Moaz is the video supposedly taken just before the building was hit by missile or bomb. It’s curious that the building would be destroyed and the CCTV cameras (several of them) survive and be ready for editing. Is this real or is it just another example of the “moderate rebel’ social media propaganda?

Biased media coverage on Syria serves to demonize the Assad government and prolong the conflict. It has made it easier for foreign aggressors to continue funding the proxy armies such as Nusra/Al Qaeda. There is danger of vastly increased conflict and bloodshed if foreign governments or NATO intervene directly. In fact, calls for greater aggression are increasing in the wake of publicity around the attack at Al Quds Hospital. Are you aware that the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia seemed to threaten an escalation of the conflict as he said “The world is not going to allow them to get away with this.”?

Dr. Liu, we agree with your insistence that medical personnel and facilities should not be attacked. That is in keeping with the Geneva Conventions on War. There are other international laws, including laws against aggression and the right of self-defense. It is clear that the Syrian government is being attacked by proxy armies funded by a coalition of foreign governments in violation of international law and the UN Charter.

Will you investigate whether the criticisms expressed in this letter are accurate and take appropriate action? It seems that current MSF actions and statements on Syria are biased and effectively serving the coalition of governments waging war on Syria in violation of international law. The bias and propaganda sustain the conflict and threaten to make it even worse.

Best regards,

Rick Sterling

Rick Sterling is a retired engineer and co-founder of Syria Solidarity Movement. He can be emailed at:

May 5, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

The Labour of Judea Strikes Again

By Gilad Atzmon | May 5, 2016

The Labour Party may not have an issue with anti Semitism but they certainly have a serious issue with Black people and their history

Leading Black activist Jacqueline Walker of Thanet Momentum, is now suspended from the Labour party for comments about the primacy of Black suffering.

Ms Walker responded on Facebook to a question about the Holocaust by contrasting the Jewish holocaust to the “African holocaust.”

The mere mention of any other holocaust is a flagrant violation of the law against questioning the primacy of Jewish suffering. The Labour of Judea cannot tolerate such behaviour.

Walker wrote:  “As I’m sure you know, millions more Africans were killed in the African holocaust and their oppression continues today on a global scale in a way it doesn’t for Jews.”

Walker wrote, “the chief victims of those failures however are not people of Jewish descent, but are the many other representatives of other minorities under-represented in the structures of the LP and discriminated against inside and outside the LP economically, culturally and politically in contemporary Britain.”

The Labour Party has a serious problem with the truth. Anyone who dares to describe the world as it is is immediately ousted by the Jewish Labour thought police (LFI, John Mann MP and others).

First Labour showed itself dismissive of the working class, now we know it is also not interested in racial equality. The Party is bewitched by shekels and this kind of interest does not come cheap.


To read more: In the last decade the French left together with the Jewish lobby has been harassing the genius French black comedian Dieudonné.  Here is my take on The Meaning Of  Dieudonné:

May 5, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , | Leave a comment

Turkish govt shuts down Zaman newspaper following seizure

RT | May 5, 2016

The Turkish government is shutting down Zaman newspaper, previously a strong critic of President Erdogan, which it seized control of in March. A number of other media outlets are also being closed by Ankara, according to CNN Turk.

Zaman was taken over by Ankara in early March. Following the seizure, the government immediately appointed new trustees for Feza Media Group, which owned the paper.

Police also raided the newspaper’s offices to enforce a Turkish court order stating that the media outlet must be brought under government authority. The newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Abdulhamit Bilici, was fired soon after.

Once the state took over, the newspaper soon turned into a government mouthpiece. The first edition under the new ownership featured the image of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Critics slammed the government for the move, with Zaman supporters taking to the streets of Istanbul in protest. Police deployed tear gas, water cannon, and rubber bullets on the demonstrators.

Along with Zaman, a number of other Feza Media Group outlets will be shut down, including Cihan News Agency. Kü will also be closed.

Erdogan has been fiercely criticized for his crackdown on press freedom in recent months, including the pre-trial detention of two journalists who published a report which purportedly showed intelligence officials transporting arms to Syria.

In late April, Turkey barred foreign journalists from entering the country, without providing any explanation for the move.

News of the shutdown of the media publications comes as Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu effectively resigned following a rift with Erdogan, whose leadership has become increasingly authoritarian.

Read more:

5 times Erdogan tried to get Europe to silence his critics

May 5, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

Is the TSA Pressuring Americans Into Submitting to Background Checks?

By Jay Stanley | ACLU | May 5, 2016

The New York Times had a piece Tuesday on how security lines at airports are getting longer—in many cases, dramatically so, with waits of several hours at some times and airports. For example, the Times reported,

Ben Cheever, a support engineer for a cybersecurity firm, recently missed a flight in Seattle despite getting to the airport two hours ahead of his 6 p.m. departure to San Diego. Two lines spilled into the airport lobby, he said. A third was reserved for passengers who had signed up to a trusted traveler program called T.S.A. PreCheck that allowed them speedier access.

A lot of people love PreCheck. People not only like speedier lines, but it also plays to the natural human tendency to appreciate special treatment. But as I have noted before, there are serious questions about where this background-check program is headed. What is now a whitelist for a select few may turn into the normal manner of travel, subjecting virtually every passenger to increasingly intrusive database checks, excluding only an unfortunate few who become effectively blacklisted. As I observed last year,

by manipulating the system and the lines, the TSA can push more and more people to seek refuge from poor treatment within a government background check program that demands an ever-increasing amount of information about our lives.

What does the TSA say is the solution to longer security lines? According to the Times,

Both the airlines and the T.S.A. said that one way to alleviate the longer wait is to sign up for PreCheck, which allows eligible passengers to go through the speedier lanes without having to take off their shoes and belts or remove laptops and other electronic devices from their bags.

Is the TSA intentionally making everybody stand in long lines in order to pressure passengers into “voluntarily” submitting to (and paying for) background checks? I don’t believe that 3-hour waits are part of an intentional PreCheck-boosting plot, and the agency has incentives to avoid political backlash as angry travelers call their members of Congress. The Times cites a shortage of TSA screeners, budget cuts, and a growing number of passengers as the explanation for the longer waits. Nevertheless, when conditions are bad it’s a natural question to ask. The agency has a stated goal of moving as many Americans as possible into PreCheck, and will no doubt make use of the current situation to increase pressure on people to do so, as we saw officials doing in their comments to the Times. The structural logic of the situation gives the TSA an incentive to make life difficult for those who resist joining their background check program. It’s a parallel to the airlines’ incentive to make seats as uncomfortable as possible for those lowly passengers who hold out paying fees for “upgrades.” As Tim Wu put it, “in order for fees to work, there needs be something worth paying to avoid.”

May 5, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Video | , , , | Leave a comment

Colombian Soldiers Arrested for the Murder of Indigenous Leader


Governor Bolaños Lasso (Photo credit Diaro del Cauca)
teleSUR | May 4, 2016

An army sergeant and a corporal have been arrested for the murder of Indigenous governor Bolaños Lasso in southwest Colombia, local media reported Tuesday.

The Prosecutor General’s Office confirmed the arrest of the two low-ranking army commanders who are part of the Jose Hilario Lopez battalion, of the Army’s 3rd Division, and said the pair are under investigation for the murder of Lasso.

Lasso was killed from gunfire on a road leading from Puracé, an Indigenous community in the Cauca Department, to the province’s capital of Popayán, on Oct. 19, 2015, according to the army.

“While the troops of the battalion Jose Hilario Lopez moved to the village of Santa Leticia, in Purace, where they prepared to take a position to provide security for election day October 25, they heard several shots,” representatives of the 29 Army Brigade said in an statement.

Commenting on the death last year, Colombia’s Indigenous Regional Council of Cauca (CRIC) said that Bolaños had “no known type of problem” that may have provoked his assassination.

No motive for the murder has been established as yet by authorities. The two soldiers will go on trial before the Third Municipal Criminal Court Guarantee Control charged with the murder of protected persons.

Murders and mistreatment of Indigenous Colombians is a regular occurrence in the Cauca region. As teleSUR reported in November, the Colombian army killed one campesino and wounded five others after it raided a rural area in what military officials say was an effort to “manually eradicate” illegal coca crops.

The slaughter stoked ire among many human rights activists including former Colombian Senator Piedad Cordoba who, in the aftermath, said the army needs to “sit down” with other organizations and social movements and “agree on another way of doing things.”

May 5, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , | Leave a comment

Syrians Protest Against US Boots on the Ground

Sputnik – 05.05.2016

Residents and local administration officials in the northern Syrian town of Al-Hasakah rallied on Wednesday to protest against the illegal presence of 150 US troops in the Kurdish-controlled town of Rumeilan, Syrian SANA news agency reported.

“We are categorically against the impermissible and flagrant violation of our country’s sovereignty. We will not allow American boots on our soil. We are also against any plans for a division or federalization of Syria,” Al-Hasakah Governor Mohammad Zaal said during the meeting.

A similar rally had earlier been held in the neighboring town of Al-Qamishli.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry called the reported deployment of 150 US troops to Rumeilan airport in the northeast of the country “an unacceptable and illegal intervention” which came without authorization from the Syrian government.

On April 28, US President Barack Obama announced that Washington would “deploy up to 250 additional US personnel in Syria including Special Forces.” They are reportedly expected to train the Syrian Democratic Forces.

The White House asserts that the deployment of the Special Forces is intended to repel Daesh terrorists.

On Wednesday, about 150 US soldiers arrived in the Kurdish-controlled town of Rumeilan in northeastern Syria, according to a Kurdish security source. According to the source, part of the contingent immediately headed to the north of Raqqa province.

Meanwhile, a 28-year-old US Army officer has sued President Barack Obama over the legality of the war against the Islamic State (Daesh), questioning Mr. Obama’s disputed claim that he needs no new legal authority from Congress to order the military to wage the ever deepening mission, The New York Times wrote on Wednesday.

Captain Nathan Michael Smith, an intelligence officer stationed in Kuwait, voiced strong support for fighting Daesh but, citing his “conscience” and his vow to uphold the Constitution, he said he believed that the mission lacked proper authorization from Congress.

The legal challenge comes after the death of the third American serviceman in the fight against Daesh and as President Obama has decided to significantly expand the number of Special Forces members.

President Obama has argued that he already has the authority he needs to wage a conflict against the Islamic State under the authorization to fight the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, enacted by Congress shortly after the attacks.

May 5, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Solidarity and Activism | , , | Leave a comment

Israel Stoking More Conflict With Gaza

By Stephen Lendman | May 5, 2016

Three Israeli wars of aggression on illegally besieged Gaza since December 2008 perhaps aren’t enough for Israel’s killing machine.

Repeated inter-war ground, air and sea attacks occur regularly. Is Israel preparing the ground for another major assault – blaming Gazan victims like it always does for its high crimes against peace?

On Wednesday, Israeli tanks shelled two Hamas watchtowers provocatively. Senior Hamas official Musheer al-Masri called the attacks “dangerous developments and an obvious breach of the ceasefire in Gaza.”

“The Israeli occupation should avoid testing the Palestinian resistance. The enemy should realize that the toll would be in proportion to the Israeli crimes.”

“The Israeli escalation is a new development, and the Palestinian resistance is (deciding) how to react.”

Hamas’ armed wing al-Qassam Brigades responded with mortar fire on an Israeli bulldozer. An Interior Ministry source reported no casualties, just damage.

Islamic Jihad spokesman, Daud Shihab, said “Israel has not ceased its hostilities against the Palestinian people since the ceasefire was agreed on in 2014.”

“There are continued onslaughts and infiltrations in both Gaza and the West Bank and in other locations in Palestine.”

Gaza remains illegally blockaded since June 2007 – for political, not security reasons. According to an April UN report, about 75,000 Palestinians remain displaced from Israel’s summer 2014 naked aggression.

Affected families are forced to “liv(e) in store rooms, unfinished units, substandard apartments in relatives’ or neighbors’ buildings” or wherever else they can find shelter.

Some live in damaged homes, others in prefabricated shelters. War and displacement affected women and children hardest.

Over 30% of displaced females “liv(e) in shelter conditions… lacking safety, dignity and privacy, including tents, makeshift shelters, destroyed houses or the open air.”

Nearly all affected families lack resources and construction supplies to rebuild. Most funds pledged for reconstruction weren’t delivered.

Israel blocks or greatly restricts building supplies entering the Strip on the phony pretext of being useful to Hamas or other resistance groups.

The UN warned “(a)t the present rate, it will take years to address the massive reconstruction and repair needs, adding to the general frustration of the population following years of movement restrictions, rising unemployment and poverty.”

Gazans suffer hugely under open-air prison conditions. Israel attacks the Strip at its discretion.

Are things heading for another war? Does Israel want remaining parts of Gaza turned to rubble – thousands more of its residents slaughtered or injured?

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at

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

May 5, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

South China Sea Dispute: How Russia Could Help China Win in The Hague

From left: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj during are photographed before a plenary meeting of the foreign ministers of Russia, India and China (RIC) in the Reception House of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

© Sputnik/ Ramil Sitdikov
Sputnik | May 4, 2016

The Kremlin could one day regret any US detachment from the South China Sea, American geopolitical analyst Tim Daiss insists. Are Washington’s efforts truly aimed at maintaining the freedom of navigation in the region or is it part of Obama’s plan to write the rules and call the shots in the Asia Pacific region?

Russia’s opposition to internationalizing the South China Sea dispute and the US deployment of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea has promted deep concerns among American geopolitical analysts.

Moscow’s support for Beijing has put the US plan to pressure China into making concessions on the maritime dispute in the South China Sea at risk. On the other hand, India’s decision to side with China on the issue has caught Western observers by surprise.

“China and Russia have agreed on the need to limit US influence in the Asia Pacific Region. On Friday, following bilateral talks in Beijing Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi expressed opposition to the US deployment of an anti-missile system in South Korea and also said that non-claimants should not take sides in the dispute over maritime territorial claims in the South China Sea,” American geopolitical analyst Tim Daiss wrote in his Op-Ed for Forbes.

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov has repeatedly stated that the South China Sea dispute should be resolved by the parties directly concerned, while outside powers should refrain from interfering.

A joint communiqué of the 14th Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Russian Federation, the Republic of India and the People’s Republic of China singed on April 18, 2016, reads:

“Russia, India and China are committed to maintaining a legal order for the seas and oceans based on the principles of international law, as reflected notably in the UN Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS). All related disputes should be addressed through negotiations and agreements between the parties concerned. In this regard the Ministers called for full respect of all provisions of UNCLOS, as well as the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and the Guidelines for the implementation of the DOC.”

South China Sea claims map

South China Sea claims map (© Photo: Wikipedia/Voice of America)

The statement coincided with reports that Beijing is seeking Moscow’s support over the South China Sea court battle with the Philippines in the Hague.

Nearly three years ago, the Philippines, backed by America, filed a lawsuit against China in the Hague International Tribunal Court. In October 2015 the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague confirmed that it would hold a hearing on the matter. The hearing is expected to take place in May or June 2016.

“China is lobbying Russia for support in opposing international court proceedings launched by the Philippines over the disputed South China Sea,” South China Morning Post reported April 20.

Beijing has reason to believe that Moscow can provide it with juridical assistance to solve the problem, Alexander Shpunt of Russia’s Regnum media outlet suggested.

Shpunt called attention to the fact that on April 20 Moscow won the Yukos case in the District Court in the Hague; a Dutch court overturned an award of $50 billion to former shareholders of the now defunct Yukos oil company that Russia had been ordered to pay by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2014.

The journalist continued that Lavrov’s notion about “outside parties” in the South China Sea dispute is a direct reference to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague that will soon hold hearing on the Philippines’ complaint against China.

This is the issue of utmost importance for Beijing that Moscow has outplayed the Permanent Court of Arbitration, Shpunt emphasized.

However, according to Daiss, Beijing is the major troublemaker in the region that plans to outwit its “much smaller Asian neighbors.”

“Who knows what the future holds geopoliticaly?” he wrote, adding that “the Kremlin could one day regret any US detachment from the South China Sea.”

Like many other Western observers Daiss remained silent about the fact that China’s Asian neighbors are also involved in controversial building activities in the South China Sea region, while, for example, Taiwan’s constructions in the Spratlys are located outside any claimed Taiwanese exclusive economic zone.”Of the six countries claiming an interest in the Spratlys, only Brunei has failed to construct structures, mostly on stilts, on more than 40 of these islets and reefs. Yet the western media again focuses exclusively on [China’s] ‘aggressive’ reclamation and building activities,” Australian lawyer James O’Neill wrote in his article for New Eastern Outlook.

What lies at the root of this double-standard approach? And is Washington really “trying to keep the sea lanes open in the name of freedom of navigation for any and all countries” as Daiss claims?

Apparently, US President Barack Obama’s latest Op-Ed in the Washington Post could shed some light on the matter.

“Today, some of our greatest economic opportunities abroad are in the Asia-Pacific region, which is on its way to becoming the most populous and lucrative market on the planet,” Obama wrote.

“Of course, China’s greatest economic opportunities also lie in its own neighborhood, which is why China is not wasting any time,” he noted referring to Beijing’s New Silk Road initiative.

“Instead, America should write the rules. America should call the shots. Other countries should play by the rules that America and our partners set, and not the other way around,” Obama stressed.

Given this, it becomes clear that what Washington is truly interested in is not the freedom of navigation “for any and all countries,” but its dominance in the region.

Read more:

All for One: How Russia, China, India Will Solve South China Sea Dispute

‘They Said No’: China Denies US Aircraft Carrier Entry to Hong Kong

What is Really Going on Behind the Curtains in South China Sea?

May 5, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Why the US Will Not Sign the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea

By Ken Meyercord | Dissident Voice | May 4, 2016

Critics of American foreign policy love to point out instances where our policy reeks of hypocrisy. No current issue in international affairs affords a better illustration of our inconsistent sanctimoniousness than the dispute over competing claims to insular territories (whether to call them “islands” or “rocks” is of great significance, as we shall see) in the South China Sea.

Symptomatic of our hypocrisy on this issue, we protest Chinese “aggressive” actions in the area by sailing the Seventh Fleet through the territorial waters of atolls turned into landing-strips to demonstrate our commitment to protecting freedom of navigation. Yet we refuse to sign the UN’s Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the international effort to formalize the rules governing freedom of navigation on the high seas. The convention, which has been around since 1982, has been ratified by over 160 UN member states, including China, but not by the U.S. of A.

Opponents of the UNCLOS, like Senators Portman and Ayotte, contend that the convention infringes on US sovereignty, in particular with regard to its provision for international arbitration of disputes (keep that in mind when the Permanent Court of Arbitration rules on a suit brought by the Philippines over China’s claims in the South China Sea). But I believe the main reason for our unwillingness to ratify the UNCLOS lies elsewhere.

The convention makes a distinction between “islands”, which can support human habitation, and “rocks”, which cannot. The territorial waters around either type of sea-bound outcrop can be claimed up to 12-miles out, but a 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) can only be claimed around an island, not a rock.

We have a number of possessions in the Pacific, formally called US Minor Outlying Islands, around which we claim EEZs. Here’s a map showing them:


Most of these possessions were acquired in the late 19th century under the Guano Islands Act of 1856. There was a gold rush, so to speak, for guano deposits at the time as the phosphate-rich bird poop was much sought after as a fertilizer. The act authorized any American captain who stumbled on an uninhabited, unclaimed island covered in guano to claim it in the name of the United States. Under the act dozens of islands came into America’s possession, most of which we gave up once an island had been stripped clean, literally. Currently, none of our outlying islands have permanent residents.

As can be seen, the EEZs around these outlying “islands” cover a sizeable area. In fact, the projection used causes the EEZs in the South Pacific to look smaller than they actually are compared to zones in more northern latitudes. Just one of the equatorial EEZs, that around the Howland and Baker Islands, is larger than the EEZ off the California coast.


Under UNCLOS, many of these “islands” would be deemed mere rocks, not entitled to EEZs. The same is probably true of some of the “islands” in the Aleutian Islands chain. Hence, ratification of the Convention on the Law of the Sea would result in a significant diminution of our Exclusive Economic Zones, something our world-beaters are not likely to agree to readily.

Despite the rocky grounds for many of our own claims, we pooh-pooh Chinese claims based on similar grounds. I recently heard a former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense, Kathleen Hicks, belittle China’s claim to the Scarborough Shoal because it is almost underwater at high tide (see this video at the 2:55:26 minute mark); yet we claim not only the territorial waters but also an EEZ around a reef in the Hawaiian Islands chain, Maro Reef, which is entirely submerged, even at LOW tide.

As mentioned previously, the Philippines has taken China to court over its claims in the South China Sea. The court in question, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, is often referred to in the press as a “UN tribunal” to give it greater cachet, but, in fact, it is not part of the UN, being a body created in 1899 when imperialism ruled the waves. No wonder China refuses to participate in the proceedings (a Palestinian in an Israeli court stands a better chance) and will no doubt ignore an adverse ruling. If so, you can count on our media howling about China flaunting the rule of law, how outraged the “the international community” (read “NATO”) is, and the like.

Perhaps some courageous, soon-to-be-unemployed journalist will be brave enough to point out that when Nicaragua took us before the International Court of Justice – an actual UN body – over our mining of their harbors and other offenses, we refused to participate in the proceedings, claiming the court did not have jurisdiction. When the court ruled against us, we blocked enforcement of the ruling through our veto in the Security Council. Embarrassingly, in light of current posturing, one of the charges levelled against us was interrupting peaceful maritime commerce – this by the self-proclaimed protector of freedom of navigation in the western Pacific.

To the uninformed (read “Kathleen Hicks”), it will seem obvious to whom sovereignty over the Scarborough Shoal belongs. Just look at how close they are to the Philippines and how far from China.

Ms. Hicks has probably never heard of Navassa Island, another Guano Islands Act possession of ours (see the map of US EEZs above). It lies far from our shores but just off the coast of Haiti, which also claims it. We’ve shown no willingness to give up the former El Dorado of avian defecation simply based on geography.

Similarly, when bemoaning how far China’s nine-dash-line delineating its claims in the South China Sea (shown as a solid red line above) extends from the Chinese mainland, we should consider what a line encompassing our own far-flung possessions would look like. Our line, like China’s, would reflect past naval exploits, not proximity to ours or someone else’s coast, and our line would extend much farther from our mainland than China’s does from theirs.

Adopting a conveniently faulty memory, we call for peaceful resolution of the disputes and require all disputants (read “China”) to refrain from aggressive actions, like populating disputed territories, but in 1935 we secretly started placing settlers on Howland, Baker, and Jarvis Islands, former Guano Islands Act possessions long forgotten and by then of lapsed and uncertain ownership. After a year of surreptitious colonizing, President Roosevelt revealed the sneaky scheme and proclaimed the islands American territory. That sort of behavior would not be condoned under the Convention on the Law of the Sea, another reason our wily buccaneers will not sign it.

Ken Meyercord can be reached at:

May 5, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

Obama’s Last Gasp Imperialism


By Margaret Kimberley | Black Agenda Report | May 4, 2016

With only eight more months in office, Barack Obama shows no signs of giving up his role as the most aggressively imperialist American president in modern history. Liberal Democrats rightly point fingers at Hillary Clinton’s bellicosity, yet they say nothing about Obama as he continues on a path of destruction around the world.

Nations on every continent are victims either of outright American military violence or of war waged by other means. Venezuela sinks further into despair as a result of American manipulations of oil prices and sanctions that cripple its economy. Millions of people have had their homes destroyed by United States interventions in Somalia and Libya and Syria and are forced to make dangerous treks in hopes of finding safety.

While the American instigated war goes on in Syria, that country’s government and its Russian ally make gains against terrorists. Because they are winning the United States continues to make bizarre demands that “Assad must go.” Obama has to turn over the keys in January 2017 but Assad may sit in his presidential office watching as his enemy rides off into the sunset.

The least reported and yet biggest danger is taking place in Europe. The United States and NATO continue to provoke Russia in what could be a deadly game that spins out of their control.

In recent weeks the Russians have made clear that they won’t take the provocation lying down. While the corporate media follow the president blindly, they won’t tell viewers and listeners that Russia has territory on the Baltic sea coast. Kaliningrad is Russia, just as Hawaii and Alaska are America. Of course there are Russian planes and submarines in the Baltic. They belong there while American vessels do not. Russia has every right to “buzz” United States ships and escort spy planes out of its airspace.

These very simple facts are rarely presented to Americans who have no idea that 200 of their troops will perform exercises in Moldova, a small country located between Ukraine and Romania. It is an example of how American presidents from Bush to Clinton to Bush to Obama made a mockery of a promise not to encircle Russia.

Instead they do just that and keep adding to the NATO arsenal. Nations like Sweden, traditionally neutral, are being lured into that organization’s grasp. In the absence of the old Soviet block there is no use for NATO except to act as the foot soldiers for American dirty work.

It seems that the end of his presidency has made Obama more anxious and therefore more dangerous. There are now “boots on the ground” in Syria, so far just 300 Special Forces, but even that small number is too high and represents the extent to which the United States is committed to maintaining the imperialist project.

Only the now inevitable Republican nominee, Donald Trump, questions this premise of American foreign policy. Hillary Clinton assisted Obama in his designs and the supposedly left wing Bernie Sanders warns of non-existent Russian aggression, supports presidential “kill lists” and thinks that having U.S. troops in Syria is a fine idea.

While the United States threatens to start World War III, the corporate media go into overdrive in their determination to distract us from the dangers our government poses to the world. They turn trivialities into major controversy but rarely report anything we ought to know. For example, Larry Wilmore saluted the president as “my nigga” during the last Obama era White House Correspondents Dinner. There was much arguing back and forth about the propriety of the words but no one spoke of the impropriety of the event itself.

The media ought to have an adversarial relationship with presidents. At the very least they should be somewhat distant and skeptical. Instead they are very cozy and quite publicly too. They even celebrate their collusion at this love fest as a president makes jokes with television comedians who compete for the chance to be sidekick for an evening.

There is no longer any pretense of impartiality. The media want access so they play along and tell lies of commission and omission with every presidential administration. They tell jokes at Russia’s expense but won’t tell readers and viewers that it is the United States who is provoking Russia in its sphere of influence.

Obama apparently wants to commit more destruction than he has already. Turning Libya into an utterly failed state was not enough. That act unleashed ISIS and Boko Haram and a wave of refugees. The coup in Ukraine ignited a civil war. The Syrian government hangs on but at a terrible price. Russia answered the call to help but America doesn’t want that war to end and will continue to use its allies to prevent a cease fire or an end to the conflict altogether.

A lot of damage can be done between now and January 20, 2009. There is no reason to mourn or rejoice Obama’s departure because he will be followed by someone who likes his foreign policy as it is. That person will also like Americans as they are: mostly intelligent but uninformed even if they wish to know what is happening around the world. The expression to do something “like there’s no tomorrow” is poignant. If Obama and company continue down this path, we shall all find out what those words mean.

Margaret Kimberley can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)

May 5, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment