Aletho News


Japan protests to US over Okinawa woman’s death


Rina Shimabukuro
Press TV – May 19, 2016

Japan has submitted an official letter of protest to the US diplomatic mission in Tokyo over the brutal murder of an Okinawan woman, which is suspected to have been carried out by an American.

On Thursday, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida summoned US Ambassador Caroline Kennedy to the Foreign Ministry and handed over the letter after the police arrested the 32-year-old suspect.

The body of Rina Shimabukuro, who had been missing since late April, was recently found in a weed-covered area in southern Okinawa. Police have found DNA matching the dead woman’s in a car belonging to Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, a former US Marine, who lives in southern Okinawa and works at the US Air Force’s Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan’s southernmost prefecture.

The police, accordingly, suspect the man of having murdered the victim and disposed of her body.

“It is extremely regrettable that the very cruel and atrocious case occurred,” Kishida told Kennedy, according to Nippon Television Network.

Okinawa has become known as the site of enduring tensions with the US forces deployed there, and hence a lasting source of conflict between Washington and Tokyo. Pacifist inclinations as well as security and safety concerns have prompted the Japanese to protest against the deployment.

Multiple cases of misconduct by US forces have raised anti-American feelings among the islanders.

Back in 2013, two American sailors admitted to raping a woman in Okinawa a year earlier in a case that sparked huge anti-US sentiments in Japan.

In 1995, the gang rape of a 12-year-old Okinawan girl by US servicemen also sparked mass protests.

May 19, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , | 4 Comments

Israel delivers demolition notices for EU-funded water tanks in Hebron


Ma’an – May 18, 2016

HEBRON – Israeli authorities delivered four demolition notices on Wednesday ordering several Palestinians to remove water tanks being used for irrigation in the northern and eastern areas of the town of Beit Ummar in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, locals said.

The water tanks are used to irrigate lands in the areas of Beir Zaata, al-Furdeis and Thaghret al-Shabak, with an overall area of more than 30 dunams (7.4 acres) dependent on the tanks for irrigation, according to Muhammad Awad, a spokesperson for a local popular committee.

The tanks were set up earlier in 2016 under a UN-funded water development program, Awad said.

After Israeli authorities deliver a demolition order, the owners of the properties have seven days to remove the structures. If not, Israeli forces demolish the structures at the financial expense of the owners of the property.

Awad told Ma’an that the tanks belonged to Wahdi Hamdi Zamel Abu Maria, Jamil Muhammad Amer Abu Maria, Ghassan Muhammad Abed al-Aziz Brighith, and Khalid Youssef Abed al-Majd Brighith.

It remains unclear what legal pretext Israeli authorities used to issue the demolition orders.

Israel has come under international condemnation over repeated demolitions of EU-funded structures, with some accusing the Israeli government of demolishing Palestinian structures in retaliation for the EU’s decision in November to enforce labeling laws that would indicate if a product was produced in one of Israel’s 196 illegal settlements.

Since the start of 2016, Israeli forces have demolished 586 Palestinian-owned structures, leaving 800 Palestinians homeless in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, according to OCHA.

According to the Israeli Committee Against Housing Demolitions, Israeli forces have demolished over 48,000 Palestinian homes and structures since the start of the occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967.

May 19, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | 2 Comments

UN Committee Against Torture recommends 50+ measures to Israel to end its use of torture

May 19, 2016

The following press release was issued jointly by Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, Adalah, and Physicians for Human Rights Israel regarding the UN Committee Against Torture concluding observations on Israel:

The Committee calls on Israel to end administrative detention, repeal the Unlawful Combatants Law, and prohibit the solitary confinement of children; emphasizes that forced feeding of hunger strikers may be torture or ill-treatment.

The Committee raised concerns about Israel’s extrajudicial executions of Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and in the access-restricted areas of Gaza; and called for the immediate release of the bodies of deceased Palestinians.

On 13 May 2016, the UN Committee Against Torture issued its extensive concluding observations on Israel. Spanning over 50 items, these recommendations follow from the Committee’s 3 and 4 May 2016 review of Israel’s compliance with the UN Convention against Torture (CAT). Israel ratified the CAT in 1991, and as other state parties, is reviewed regularly by the Committee Against Torture.

Adalah, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel submitted a joint NGO report to the Committee, and attended the review session in Geneva. The Committee raised numerous issues highlighted by the human rights organizations in its report in the concluding observations as matters of grave concern. Included among the principal subjects of concern and recommendations are the following:

  • Scope of the Convention’s applicability: Despite Israel’s contention otherwise, the Committee reaffirmed that the Convention applies to the Occupied Territories (para. 9)
  • Definition and criminalization of torture, removal of necessity defense: The Committee remained “concerned that a specific offence of torture” based on the Convention has not yet been adopted. While the Committee noted that the Justice Ministry is drafting a new bill in this regard, the Committee called on Israel “to speed up the process”. It also urged Israel again “to completely remove necessity as a possible justification for torture.” (para. 12-15) In the partners’ view, Israel is in non-compliance with the Convention 25 years after ratification, as Israeli law contains no crime of torture and includes the “necessity defense”.
  •  Access to a lawyer and arraignment before a judge: The Committee recommended that Israel “ensure, in law and in practice, that all persons deprived of liberty, irrespective of the charges brought against them, the law applicable to them or wherever they may be located, are afforded all legal safeguards from the very outset of the deprivation of liberty, including the rights to be assisted by a lawyer and to be brought before a judge without delay.” (para. 16, 17)
  • Audio-visual documentation of interrogations: The Committee recommended that Israel “ensure the compulsory audio-visual recording” of all suspects’ interrogations … and that “Audio-visual footage should be monitored by an independent body and kept for a period sufficient for it to be used as evidence in courts.” (para. 18, 19)
  • Independent medical examinations of persons deprived of liberty: Israel should to guarantee that all physicians and medical staff dealing with imprisoned persons “duly document all signs and allegations of torture or ill-treatment and report them without delay to the appropriate authorities.” Further, it should consider “transferring responsibility for all types of healthcare of persons deprived of liberty to the Ministry of Health in order to ensure that medical staff can operate fully independently from the custodial authorities.” (para. 20, 21)
  • Administrative detention and Incarceration of Unlawful Combatants Law: Israel should take urgent measures to “end the practice of administrative detention” and ensure that all persons who are currently held in administrative detention are “afforded all basic legal safeguards; and to “repeal the Incarceration of Unlawful Combatants Law.” (para. 22, 23)
  •  Solitary confinement: Israel should “(a) ensure that solitary confinement and [isolation] are used only in exceptional cases as a measure of last resort, for as short a time as possible and subject to independent review, in line with international standards; (b) put an immediate end and prohibit the use of solitary confinement … for juveniles and persons with intellectual or psychosocial disabilities; and (c) … regularly publish comprehensive disaggregated data on the use of solitary confinement and equivalent measures.” (para. 24, 25)
  •  Hunger strikes/forced feeding: Israel should guarantee that hunger strikers “are never subjected to ill-treatment or punished for engaging in a hunger strike, and are provided with necessary medical care in accordance with their wishes.” Further, that hunger strikers, who are competent to take informed decisions, “are never subjected to feeding or other medical treatment against their will, as these are practices that may amount to torture or ill-treatment.” (para. 26, 27)
  • Excessive use of force: The Committee raised concerns at allegations of excessive use of force, including lethal force, by security forces, mostly against Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the access-restricted areas (ARAs) of the Gaza Strip, particularly in the context of demonstrations, in response to attacks or alleged attacks against Israeli civilians or security forces, and to enforce the ARAs of the Gaza Strip. Notably the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stated that, “some of these responses strongly suggest unlawful killings, including possible extrajudicial executions” (A/HRC/31/40, para. 10). Thus, Israel should ensure that “the rules of engagement or regulations on opening fire are fully consistent with the Convention and other relevant international standards” and that “all instances and allegations of excessive use of force are investigated promptly, effectively and impartially by an independent body, that alleged perpetrators are duly prosecuted and, if found guilty, adequately sanctioned.” (para. 32, 33)
  • Return of bodies: While noting Israel’s new agreement to initiate the return of the bodies, the Committee urged Israel “to return the bodies of the Palestinians that have not yet been returned to their relatives as soon as possible so they can be buried in accordance with their traditions and religious customs, and to avoid that similar situations are repeated in the future.”  (para. 42, 43)

For more information:

> Contact Tom Mehager, Adalah’s Media Director:, +972 (0) 52-436-6355

See also:

> Concluding Observations of the Committee Against Torture, 13 May 2016, here.

> Joint Press Release, “UN Committee against Torture reviews Israel,” 5 May 2016, here

> Adalah, PHRI and Al Mezan’s joint report to the Committee: Available here

> Israel’s report to the Committee: Available here

May 19, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Lieberman accepts post as minister of military affairs: Sources

Press TV – May 19, 2016

Hardline Israeli politician Avigdor Lieberman has reportedly accepted an offer by embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be the minister of military affairs.

Israeli sources said Lieberman accepted the post after Netanyahu agreed to his demands during a Wednesday afternoon meeting that lasted less than an hour.

The decision came after Netanyahu summoned current minister of military affairs Moshe Ya’alon and reportedly upbraided him for supporting an analogy between Israel’s situation and Nazi Germany.

Lieberman, who heads the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party and previously served twice as foreign minister, convened a press conference earlier in the day to talk about his demands.

Among his priorities was introducing the death penalty for the Palestinians who are accused of carrying out attacks against Israelis.

“If it is true that we are being offered the defense portfolio, pension reforms and the death penalty bill, that is a respectful offer, it is serious, there is what to talk about,” Lieberman said.

“The offers must be official and on the table, without mediators and with full transparency. The prime minister has my phone number,” he added.

Lieberman has on many occasions drawn headlines by questioning the loyalty of Arab minorities in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian lands to the Tel Aviv regime.

He has also called on the Israeli regime to treat Palestinian resistance movement Hamas the same way as the United States treated “the Japanese in World War II.”

The notorious politician has also openly supported a soldier charged with murder for shooting dead an injured Palestinian.

Netanyahu’s ruling coalition has a shaky majority of one in the 120-member Israeli Knesset, making his administration vulnerable to any falling-out among his political allies.

His offer to far-right Lieberman has been interpreted as an attempt to add Yisrael Beitenu party, which has six Knesset seats, to the ruling coalition.

Ya’alon has been at loggerheads with Netanyahu ever since he said senior military officers should “speak their mind,” in apparent defense of earlier comments by Deputy Chief of Staff Major General Yair Golan.

Golan had stirred an uproar earlier this month by saying he was concerned by some of the extremist voices within the Israeli reigme, likening it to Germany under Nazi rule.

Golan, then the commander of the West Bank military division, purportedly said, “It is unimaginable that in an effort to ensure our soldiers’ safety, we can destroy whole apartment buildings.”

“Killing women, children, uninvolved civilians. Unacceptable. The use of force in civilian areas must always be kept under control, and restricted to the minimum necessary,” he was heard saying.

He was apparently referring to the Israeli practice of demolishing the houses of Palestinians suspected of involvement in attacks against Israelis. The destruction of the houses just displaces the families, including women and children, who live there and who have no links to the alleged attacks.

Following Golan’s remarks, Netanyahu’s office issued a statement, saying he “remains firm in his conviction that the comparison that was made to Nazi Germany was inappropriate and damaged Israel in the international arena.”

Netanyahu summoned Ya’alon late on Sunday, reportedly to reprimand him for his remarks in defense of Golan.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces have reportedly adopted a “shoot-to-kill” policy during clashes with Palestinians.

More than 200 Palestinians have been killed since last October, during heightened tensions over Israel’s move to deny Palestinians entry into the al-Aqsa Mosque.

Dozens died by a single shot to the head or chest, a clear indication of the shoot-to-kill policy.

The official brutalities against Palestinians, including the demolitions, have also emboldened extremist Israeli settlers to conduct attacks of their own against Palestinian families. One arson attack by Israeli extremists against a Palestinian house in August 2015 led to the killing of the entire family living there, including an 18-month-old boy.

In another testimony to the Israeli policy of allowing killings, a court ruled on Tuesday to have the chief arsonist in the August 2015 attack released.

May 19, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment

28 Palestinian young women arrested over Facebook


Ma’an – May 19, 2016

JERUSALEM – At least 28 Palestinian women have been detained by Israel since October over alleged “incitement” on social media, with six of them still in prison, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies (PPCS) said in a statement released on Wednesday.

PPCS spokesman Riyad al-Ashqar said that most of the women had been released hours or days after they were first detained, but that eight had been held in administrative detention — internment without trial or charges.

Al-Ashqar identified the six women still held over alleged social media incitement as Suad Abed al-Karim Irzeiqat, 28, from the city of Hebron; Dunia Ali Musleh, 19, from the town of Bethlehem; Sanaa Nayif Abbad from the town of Dura; Hanin Abd al-Qader Amr, 39, from the city of Tulkarem; Majd Yousif Atwan, 23, from the village of al-Khader; and Samah Dweik, 25, from occupied East Jerusalem.

Dweik, a journalist working for Shabakat al-Quds (The Jerusalem Network), was detained on April 10 in her home in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al-Amud after writing a Facebook status and sharing an image in support of Palestinians recently killed by Israeli forces.

Meanwhile, Atwan was sentenced by an Israeli court earlier this month to 45 days in prison and a 3,000 shekel ($794) fine over charges of incitement on her Facebook account.

In recent months, Israel has detained scores of Palestinians for social media activity, alleging that a wave of unrest that swept the occupied Palestinian territory last October was encouraged largely by “incitement.”

Palestinians have instead pointed chiefly to the frustration and despair brought on by Israel’s nearly 50-year military occupation of the Palestinian territory and the absence of a political horizon.

Al-Ashqar claimed that Israel was detaining Palestinian women under different pretexts to discourage and prevent them from taking part in resistance against the Israeli occupation, as well as to exert pressure on relatives also detained by Israeli forces.

More than 200 Palestinians and almost 30 Israelis have been killed since October, although the number of Palestinian and Israeli deaths saw a dramatic drop over the last two months, with Israeli leadership suggesting its severe security measures were responsible for the emerging trend.

However, the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found in a poll last month that support for stabbing attacks had seen a decline in the West Bank in recent months — “due, it seems, to a rising perception in its inefficacy.”

According to prisoners’ organization Addameer, 7,000 Palestinians are detained in Israeli custody.


May 19, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | 1 Comment

‘Obama’s US exceptionalism statements rival Hitler quotes’ – top Russian judge

RT | May 19, 2016

The chairman of the Russian Constitutional Court has said that Barack Obama’s statements about American exceptionalism were very similar to propaganda used by Nazi Germany and equally dangerous to world peace.

“The idea of specialness, exceptionality and unique rights of the American state and American people has been used in US internal political rhetoric for quite a while, but in the recent years it is being actively and persistently offered in US foreign policy documents and public speeches on international politics delivered by US officials,” Judge Valery Zorkin said at the St Petersburg international legal forum on Thursday.

“Any unbiased and educated person would see that this statement by Obama is an almost exact copy of leading politicians and propaganda specialists of the Third Reich, including Adolph Hitler… In essence, Obama is using the exact same thing that Nazi bosses said about the German exceptionalism when they started the world war,” he added.

The judge also said that in his view the exceptionalism concept had direct influence on the modern US concepts of military planning and these concepts see the main objective of all activities as reaching such degree of military might that the United States remains out of reach of other nations, on land, sea, in air and in space.

According to Zorkin, the same applies to the US doctrines on development of mass media and electronic communications – the US authorities see their goal as establishing absolute global domination of their country in the global information space. This idea also constantly appears in Obama’s public speeches.

“Obama says that Americans and the USA are an exceptional people and an exceptional state and thus they can pretend for much more than any other people or state. In other words, he follows the plot of James Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ dystopia and, while formally not rejecting the principle of equality of sovereign states and peoples, fixed by the UN Charter, he still declares that Americans and America are ‘more equal’ than any other country and the rest of the planet’s population,” RIA Novosti quoted the judge as saying.

Zorkin also told his colleague at the forum that he considered such approach to be a blatant violation of international legal norms.

Russian politicians and officials have repeatedly addressed the topic of American exceptionalism when talking on bilateral relations with the US and of international politics in general. In particular, in mid-2015 President Vladimir Putin said in his speech before the UN General Assembly that attempts to influence internal politics of sovereign nations should not be tolerated regardless of where they are taking place and who are making such attempts.

“It seems that some nations are not learning from others’ mistakes, but keep repeating them. The export of so-called ‘democratic’ revolutions continues.” Putin said.

“I cannot help asking those who have caused this situation, ‘Do you realize now what you have done?’” he said. “But I am afraid the question will hang in the air, because policies based on self-confidence and belief in one’s exceptionality and impunity have never been abandoned.”


‘American exceptionalism’ hampers its war on terror – Lavrov

Violence instead of democracy: Putin slams ‘policies of exceptionalism and impunity’ in UN speech

May 19, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

Obama’s ‘Killer’ Policies May Be Carried On by His Political Twin

By Martin Berger | New Eastern Outlook | 18.05.2016

Those American citizens that have put their trust in Barack Obama back when he was running for president must be infinitely disappointed while reading countless articles about Obama’s actual policies. These are not just failures, but incredibly deadly ones.

For instance, Forbes would note that from 1999 to 2014 the suicide rate in the United States went up by 24%, while among certain ethnic and demographic sub-groups the situation looks even more surreal. For instance, over the same time period, Native American women saw an increase in suicide of 89%. America’s current level of suicide is abnormally high and it’s a huge change from the not too distant past. And Russia has nothing to do with it, even though the rule of thumb in Washington today is to push blame on it for every single thing that goes wrong. President Barack has even stated that global crises such as Ebola, ISIS and Russian aggression have made the world spin so fast, nobody is able to control it.

The The New York Post would note:

Middle-aged people laid off and unable to find work are taking another way out They’re killing themselves.. Especially in economically depressed states. People in need of work are twice as likely to take their own lives as employed people, and people fired in their 40s and 50s find it hardest to get hired again. That makes boosting economic growth a life-or-death issue for many. But you would not know it listening to President Obama and Hillary Clinton. President Obama whitewashes reality, claiming the “American economy is pretty darn good right now. “False. The Obama economy is stalled.

In his article for The Washington Post American historian David Mereniss underlined that President Obama came to office with the goal of changing “the trajectory of America”. However, he failed to keep his promises. In the end, this will be Obama’s enduring domestic legacy.

Obama’s rise to power was facilitated by the promise he made to stop US wars, but has he fulfilled this promise? The Atlantic reminds us than when Barack Obama first entered the White House, with George W. Bush’s long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq ongoing, he stated that “he was not seeking new dragons to slay.” Instead he elected to scale back America’s commitments overseas and shift responsibilities to allies. But you could be forgiven for thinking the dragons have stubbornly remained, and even multiplied, on Obama’s watch.

During Obama’s time in office the US military would have allocated more money to war-related initiatives than it did under Bush: 866 billion dollars under Obama. Obama has unleashed 372 drone strikes against suspected terrorists in Pakistan, according to data gathered by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 112 strikes in Yemen and 19 in Somalia. In fiscal year 2014, US special-operations forces were deployed to 133 countries, or roughly 70 percent of the entire world. The size of SOCOM has expanded by almost 25 percent since Obama took office.

In turn, Hillary Clinton is eager to urge the US to carry on its militaristic policies, so it’s no wonder that Obama has recently made a joke at his final correspondents’ dinner that he can see Hillary Clinton in his seat.

In Obama’s term, the US national debt increased by 8.3 trillion dollars, according to a new report released by the US Treasury. The debt of the federal government increased by 8,314,529,850,339.07 dollars in President Barack Obama’s first seven years in office, according to official data published by the US Treasury. That 13,213,630,160,947.51 dollars increase in the debt during the Bush-Obama years equals 112,219.57 dollars for each of the 117,748,000 households that were in the country as of September. When Obama completed his seventh year in office, the federal debt was 18,941,406,899,252.15 dollars.

It’s therefore not surprising that The Huffington Post would note a bitter split within American society. It would note:

Republicans and Democrats may as well have been living in different countries for the past eight years. When President Barack Obama delivered his final State of the Union address, he was speaking to two very different countries. One of them he leaves happier and better off than it was when he started his tenure in the White House nearly eight years ago, with an improving economy and a dominant international position. The other is, by almost every measure, worse.

A majority of Democrats in a new HuffPost poll say that since Obama took office, their own lives have improved, the economy has gotten better and the United States has retained its role as the most powerful nation on Earth. Republicans disagree on all three points. The partisan divide over the president’s legacy, and the direction of the country as a whole, transcends all other demographic lines, far outstripping age, race, region or income level. the only real point of agreement between the parties, in fact, is the near-universal sentiment that partisanship has worsened over the past eight years.

Therefore, one shouldn’t view US elections as a new prime time reality show, as it is being presented to us by the establishment, since it remains eager to replace Barack Obama with Hillary Clinton. But we shouldn’t forget that the influential alternative media source the Global Research has described Hillary Clinton as Barack Obama’s political twin for a reason, since she’s devoted to the ideas of American expansionism and militarism.

The presidential elections should serve as an emergency brake for those Americans that have somehow survived Obama’s killer policies. Those who are still able to elect a true leader that would be able to mend American society and raise the international prestige of the US, instead of carrying on the irresponsible policies that may destroy America along with the better part of this world.

May 19, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , | Leave a comment

United States wants war with Russia

By David Swanson | American Herald Tribune | May 18, 2016

After provoking Russia for decades, the United States government has apparently concluded that the Russians are all saints and decided to escalate the provocations with confidence that nothing will go wrong, or go nuclear. Either that or the U.S. government truly wants World War III.

I wouldn’t treat a diseased rat the way the United States treats Russia. The Russian government has exercised such incredible restraint that the United States has apparently decided it can get away with being even nastier, a move that is now openly described by Washington insiders as being driven by weapons profiteering:

“‘This is the “Chicken-Little, sky-is-falling” set in the Army,’ the senior Pentagon officer said. ‘These guys want us to believe the Russians are 10 feet tall. There’s a simpler explanation: The Army is looking for a purpose, and a bigger chunk of the budget. And the best way to get that is to paint the Russians as being able to land in our rear and on both of our flanks at the same time. What a crock.'”

In fact, the United States spends well over 8 times what Russia does on militarism, not counting “Homeland Security” or Energy or State or Veterans, etc. The world still contains enough nuclear weapons to destroy human life if just a small fraction of them are used, and 93 percent of them belong to Russia and the United States.

Why aren’t the nukes gone, when Gorbachev was willing to give them up?

Because Reagan was unwilling to give up a stupid, non-functioning, and fraudulent technological defense against a threat that would not have existed if he had. That technology is back in the movie theaters and back in the news: Star Wars.

The Cold War continued. The Soviet Union broke up. Germany reunified. And the Cold War still continued at the Pentagon. The Warsaw Pact went away. NATO expanded. When Germany reunited, the United States promised Russia that NATO would never expand eastward. NATO then added the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Slovenia, Albania, and Croatia to its membership. Since the U.S.-facilitated coup in Ukraine, and against the desires of the Ukrainian people, NATO has been pushing for a partnership with Ukraine, as well as with Georgia.

Imagine if Russia had promised not to expand the Warsaw Pact and then added to its membership Greenland, Canada, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Cuba, and Mexico. If Russia claimed to have done all that to protect itself from Iran, how many U.S. pundits would treat that as a serious, non-laughable claim? And if Russia made a deal with Iran under which more stringent inspections than ever endured by any nation would verify that Iran had no threatening weapons, and if Russia bragged about this deal, but if Russia went right on expanding the Warsaw Pact, would the United States take that as the harmless gesture of friendship that NATO depicts its actions as?

NATO has also been “looking for a purpose” and rushing off to wage wars in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Libya. The United States and some of its NATO allies are waging wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen. In a number of those places, drone wars and proxy wars have been turned into U.S. ground wars, perfectly primed for major expansion. Yet, the United States speaks of its actions as “defensive,” describes Russia as aggressive, and falsely accuses Russia of invading Ukraine, a mythical act that Hillary Clinton determined made Vladimir Putin the equivalent of “Hitler.”

Now the United States has sent ships to the Black Sea, sent tanks to Georgia, planned a huge military “exercise” in Poland, opened a “missile defense” site in Romania, which Russia calls a “direct threat” (and a violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty), and begun building another “missile defense” site in Poland. There’s a video online of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the opening of the new site in Romania, describing it as a “team effort” involving Romania, Poland, Spain, Turkey, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, and the UK. Stoltenberg’s stilted speech claims repeatedly that “Missile defense is for defense. It is defensive.” Stoltenberg claims the “missile defense” missiles are too close to Russia to intercept Russian missiles, which misses the point that Russia views the U.S. missiles as offensive, not “defensive.”

Even CBS News finds it impossible to take NATO’s nonsense completely seriously:

“U.S. officials say the Romanian missile shield, which cost $800 million, is intended to fend off missile threats from Iran and is not aimed at Russia. But NATO decided in January 2015 to set up command-and-control centers in Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria by the end of 2016 — at least partly in response to challenges from Russia and Islamic extremists and to reassure eastern partners.”

What challenges? Essentially the 10-foot giants landing in the U.S. rear and on both flanks simultaneously — in other words: money to be made.

Read this further bit from CBS News carefully:

“President Obama and other NATO heads of state and government met in September and ordered an overhaul of the alliance’s capabilities and defense posture, called the Readiness Action Plan, or RAP, to take into account Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and purported military interference in eastern Ukraine.”

The key word there is “purported.” It’s been years now since the weekly announcements that Russia had invaded Ukraine, something it obviously never did. And of course the people of Crimea voted to join Russia after the U.S. state department facilitated a violent coup in Ukraine that installed a government significantly made up of Nazis. CBS can’t bring itself to comment on whether or not there is any evidence of the “purported military interference,” so it just calls it “purported” and hopes that not too many people know what that word means.

Russia, believe it or not, is expressing some annoyance. As Jonathan Marshall recounts: “Moscow spokesmen have warned that Romania could become a ‘smoking ruins’ if it continues to host the new anti-missile site; threatened Denmark, Norway and Poland that they too could become targets of attack; and announced development of a new generation of intercontinental ballistic missiles designed to penetrate the U.S. missile shield.”

Russian planes have come near U.S. ships and planes in recent weeks, although U.S. reports have generally failed to focus on the fact that those ships and planes were quite near Russia’s borders. These near misses at starting a war between the world’s major nuclear militaries present a far greater threat than is generally imagined, because most U.S. citizens have zero interest in starting World War III and so don’t think about it, but the U.S. government and NATO want blood. NATO’s new commander says he wants to be ready to fight Russia immediately.

Donald Trump blurted out the common sense solution of abolishing NATO but quickly backed off and reversed himself, as on so many other topics. Hillary Clinton has wholeheartedly supported NATO’s expansion from the beginning, when she was First Lady. Bernie Sanders generally accepts whatever the military is doing, so as not to rock the boat, which still might leave him the best of the three on foreign policy, as he so obviously is on domestic.

But a great deal can happen in 8 months. A lot can happen before anyone new is elected. And with all eyes focused on the election, it’s more likely than ever to do so. And what could happen makes climate change seem manageable by comparison.

May 19, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , | 1 Comment

Nuland’s Visit to Moscow: Has the US Arch Neocon Lost Her Bearings?

Sputnik – 18.05.2016

US Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland has wrapped up her visit to Moscow. According to officials, Nuland came to the Russian capital to discuss the situation in east Ukraine. Adding his two cents about the real purpose of the visit, analyst Gevorg Mirzayan suggested that the secretary may have lost her bearings.

On Wednesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov explained the official reason for Nuland’s visit, saying that the two sides discussed the situation in the war-torn eastern Ukrainian region of Donbass, with the US sharing ‘first-hand information’ and looking “to establish a sort of working exchange mechanism” outside the Normandy format, which doesn’t include Washington.

In his own commentary on the visit, Expert Magazine columnist Gevorg Mirzayan clarified, saying that Nuland’s main official goal “is to spur the negotiating process on the Donbass and, in particular, on the holding of local elections in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, one of the most important measures of the Minsk peace agreements.”

“At first glance, of course, it seems like Nuland came to the wrong city,” the analyst noted. “After all, it’s not Moscow that’s sabotaging the holding of elections in the Donbass, but Kiev. One of the key challenges for Ukrainian authorities is not to recognize the situation in the Donbass as a civil war. This is why Kiev comes out against the fulfillment of the political articles of the Minsk agreement, and its most important aspect: direct negotiations between Ukrainian authorities and the leaders of the breakaway republics.”

For now, Mirzayan writes, Kiev’s argument that the DPR and LPR leaders Alexander Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky are not democratically elected, and therefore politically illegitimate, carries some weight. “However, after elections take place, Kiev will have to carry deal with the legitimate representatives of the Donbass,” and this is something Ukrainian authorities are desperately looking to avoid.

Speaking to Expert, former Ukrainian lawmaker Oleg Tsaryev emphasized that once elections are held, if the conflict between Kiev and the Donbass continues, “it will fall under the definition of a civil war, and Kiev’s actions will be treated as a war crime.” Therefore, he said, “if the Americans really wanted to ensure the implementation of the agreements, Victoria Nuland would be sitting in Kiev, and speaking in an unyielding tone to its lawmakers, faction heads and oligarchs. Washington has many tools at its disposal: the threat of prohibiting elites from entering the EU, the threat of halting foreign bank lending, the confiscation of property and the seizure of accounts abroad.”

Therefore, Mirzayan notes, “it’s entirely possible that Nuland came to Moscow to offer to exert such pressure on Kiev in exchange for some concessions from the Russian side – on Ukraine, Syria or some other issue. The US is attempting to convince the Kremlin that it must ensure Kiev’s complaisance; after all, the lifting of anti-Russian sanctions depends on the implementation of the Minsk agreements.”

“However, it’s also possible that Nuland will leave Moscow empty-handed, or with a minimum compensation. Because in reality, all she is offering is to ensure a vote in Ukraine’s parliament, while the parties have to not only negotiate on the adoption of the law, but also its contents.”The current bill submitted to the Ukrainian parliament is out of sync with the Minsk agreements, according to the analyst. “But Ukrainian authorities and their Western partners could make it so that further discussions were held about its passing, rather than further changes to the bill. And then, if Kiev gave way and accepted the current version of the bill, it would be perceived as a maximum concession, and the Kremlin would have a difficult time requesting corrections.”

The same thing might happen with the electoral law, the analyst warns. “Those familiar with the document say that it has rather sensible requirements.”

“There are four main positions in this law,” Opposition Bloc lawmaker Yuriy Boyko told Expert. “The election must be in accordance with Ukrainian legislation, Ukrainian media must be given access, electoral commissions must be formed and the elections must take place with the oversight of international observers.”

However, Mirzayan notes, “the real question is how these requirements would be implemented.” For their part, the analyst suggests, Ukrainian officials and analysts have openly said that the law would be deliberately designed to include a whole a series of nuances making it unacceptable to representatives from the breakaway regions.

This, according to Ukrainian political analyst Mikhail Pogrebinsky, “would enable Ukraine, at the Normandy format level, with the participation and support of the United States, to say that we are fulfilling our part of the agreement, but the Donbass is not, and therefore no elections will ever be held.”

For its part, Mirzayan notes, Moscow “does not find this scenario to be acceptable. If the Minsk agreement cannot be implemented in full, the Kremlin may find it advantageous to simply freeze the situation until a new, more pragmatic government emerges in Kiev. Right now, time is on Russia’s side, and the attitudes of the European and even American elites toward Ukraine are changing, and becoming more inclined to seek compromise with Russia.”

Furthermore, “the situation in Ukraine itself is also changing, and not just economically but politically as well. President Petro Poroshenko recently succeeded in consolidating his power, and now controls the cabinet of ministers, the parliament, the prosecutor general and the security forces. The Americans either could not or did not want to interfere, and in the short term this is his victory.””However, in the medium term, such a concentration can be problematic.” After all, “Poroshenko no longer has a lightning rod in the form of [former Prime Minister] Yatsenyuk, who could be blamed for all the country’s economic problems and dismissed. Poroshenko has become personally responsible for everything that happens in the country, while his opponents, removed from power and its privileges, have received a carte blanche to make a name for themselves by criticizing the government and the president.”

“And this is not even mentioning the fact that the population is very tired of the revolutionary enthusiasm of the authorities and the parliament. The majority of Ukrainians have not forgotten about Crimea. However, if they begin to perceive the Donbass as a real civil war, new authorities will be fully capable of resolving the conflict in the spirit of Minsk-2. This is the same thing that Russia seeks, and is something it can achieve without making significant concessions to Victoria Nuland.”

Naturally, Mirzayan emphasizes, “the Kremlin will also have to work very hard to ensure that the conflict remains frozen. The authorities in Donbass have long and persistently sought to hold local elections,” warning that if Brussels and Washington could not force Kiev to fulfill their obligations under the Minsk agreements, they would hold elections independently.

“And while formally such elections would not contradict the Minsk agreements (they simply wouldn’t be recognized), they would create a negative sentiment around the Russian position. This is exactly what Kiev wants, and what Moscow wants to avoid on the eve of a serious dialogue with the EU about the future of the anti-Russian sanctions,” the analyst concludes.

Read more:

Nuland Starts Moscow Visit by Meeting ‘Young Leaders’

Nuland Warns Donbas to Ensure Elections are Held Within Minsk Accord

OSCE: East Ukraine’s Donbass Showing Signs of ‘Frozen Conflict’

Time Out: The Big Picture in Resolving the Ukraine Conflict

May 19, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments

In Kerry’s Footsteps: What Saudi ‘Plan B’ Actually Means for Syria and Iran

Sputnik – May 18, 2016

Saudi Arabia has signaled it is ready to implement the much-talked-about ‘Plan B’ in Syria. What does Riyadh actually mean?

Following the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) meeting in Vienna Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister told journalists that it is time to shift the focus to the so-called ‘Plan B’ in Syria.

“We believe we should have moved to a ‘Plan B’ a long time ago,” Adel al-Jubeir told reporters, as quoted by Reuters.

“The choice about moving to an alternative plan, the choice about intensifying the military support (to the opposition) is entirely with the Bashar [Bashar al-Assad] regime. If they do not respond to the treaties of the international community… then we will have to see what else can be done,” he stressed.

What lies behind al-Jubeir’s statement?Saudi Arabia has long been calling for toppling the legitimate and democratically-elected Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad. It is no secret that the Gulf kingdom has poured millions of US dollars into anti-Assad Islamist radical groups.

The Saudi-backed High Negotiations Committee (HNC) includes such Syrian “opposition groups” as Ahrar ash-Sham and Jaish al-Islam groups which differ from Daesh and the al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front in name only.

In April, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov underscored that Ahrar ash-Sham and Jaish al-Islam shared the same ideology as Daesh, which is outlawed in Russia, the United States and many other countries.

However, the West still hesitates to recognize the brutal extremist groups as terrorists.

The possibility of Plan B’s implementation was voiced by US Secretary of State John Kerry immediately after the US and Russia announced an agreement on cessation of hostilities in Syria.

“There is a significant discussion taking place now about a Plan B in the event that we do not succeed at the [negotiating] table,” Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on February 23, 2016.

The plan envisages the partition of Syria and empowering the country’s “moderate opposition.” It should be noted that Washington is well aware that the so-called moderates have no scruples about intermingling with al-Nusra Front terrorists from time to time.As for Riyadh, it has repeatedly pledged its willingness to deploy Saudi boots on Syrian ground. In the eyes of Saudi Arabia, ‘Plan B’ will allow Riyadh to ultimately get rid of Bashar al-Assad, paving the way for undermining the Middle Eastern Shiite Crescent and “encircling” of Iran.

Actually, the roots of the US-Saudi ‘Plan B’ originated in the times of George W. Bush. After Iraq had been occupied by the US, Saudi Arabia urged Washington to shift its attention toward Iran and Syria, parts of the so-called Shiite Crescent in the Middle East.

“In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January [2007], Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that there is ‘a new strategic alignment in the Middle East,’ separating ‘reformers’ and ‘extremists’; she pointed to the Sunni states as centers of moderation, and said that Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah were ‘on the other side of that divide.’ (Syria’s Sunni majority is dominated by the Alawi sect.) Iran and Syria, she said, ‘have made their choice and their choice is to destabilize’,” Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh wrote in his 2007 article “The Redirection” for The New Yorker.

According to Kerry and al-Jubeir, Plan B would be implemented should the ceasefire in Syria collapse. As of yet the truce is holding despite numerous violations.

The recent 17-nation ISSG talks were devoted to discussing the stalled negotiations, suspended after the Saudi-backed opposition faction, the HNC, unilaterally withdrew from negotiations, demanding serious concessions from the Syrian government.

It seems that neither HNC, the Riyadh-sponsored “opposition” group, nor its Saudi masters are interested in further diplomatic efforts.

Read more: Kerry’s Ultimatum to Assad: Why US Plan Means ‘Capitulation to Al-Qaeda’

May 19, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

‘Saudi Arabia providing banned chemical munitions to Nusra Front’

Press TV – May 19, 2016

A senior European official says Saudi Arabia is providing members of the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front with internationally-banned chemical weapons.

Secretary General of the European Department for Security and Information (DESI) Haitham Abu Said the terrorists regularly use the munitions in their attacks against Syrian civilians.

Abu Said said Wednesday that the ammunition are being supplied to the extremists monthly under a plan drawn up in Bulgaria, and sneaked into Syria through militant-held areas on the border with Jordan.

Abu Said further noted that Nusra Front terrorists have on a number of occasions used weapons containing chemical agents against Syrians, most recently in the strategic northwestern province of Aleppo.

He added that international organizations have recorded several such incidents in the past.

The remarks come as the Russian Defense Ministry said that several trucks, carrying improvised chemical weapons, have been transported to Aleppo from neighboring Idlib.

“The arms are said to contain chlorine-based toxins,” the ministry said in a statement.

On May 3, Director General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Ahmet Uzumcu said that the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group might have already used chemical weapons both in Iraq and Syria.

Uzumcu said fact-finding teams from The Hague-based watchdog had discovered evidence that suggest the use of sulfur mustard in attacks in the two crisis-hit Arab countries.

“Although they could not attribute this to Daesh… there are strong suspicions that they may have used” chemical weapons, Uzumcu said.

On April 7, 23 people were killed and over 100 others injured in a chemical attack by Daesh terrorists against members of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the city of Aleppo.

Videos posted online purportedly show yellow gas rising over Sheikh Maqsood neighborhood in Aleppo, some 355 kilometers (220 miles) north of Damascus.

The development came only three days after al-Ikhbariyah Syria satellite television network reported that Daesh had fired a barrage of rockets, carrying mustard gas, at a Syrian military airport in the eastern city of Dayr al-Zawr.

According to a report by the Syrian-American Medical Society, Daesh has carried out more than 160 attacks involving “poisonous or asphyxiating agents, such as sarin, chlorine, and mustard gas” since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011.

At least 1,491 people have been killed in the chemical attacks.

In August 2013, hundreds of people were also killed in a chemical attack in the Ghouta suburb of Damascus. According to reports, the rockets used in the assault were handmade and contained sarin.

May 19, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

US Media as Conduits of Propaganda

By Robert Parry | Consortium News  | May 18, 2016

Nothing disturbs me more about the modern mainstream U.S. news media than its failure to test what the U.S. government says against what can be determined through serious and impartial investigation to be true. And this is not just some question of my professional vanity; it can be a matter of life or death.

For instance, did Syrian President Bashar al-Assad cross President Barack Obama’s supposed “red line” against using chemical weapons, specifically in the sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013, or not?

Upon this question rests the possibility that a future President Hillary Clinton will invade Syria under the guise of establishing a “safe zone,” a project that would surely expand into another bloody “regime change,” as occurred in Iraq and Libya amid similar U.S. claims about protecting “human rights.”

Yet, there is substantial evidence that Assad was not responsible for the sarin attack – that it was perpetrated by jihadist rebels as a provocation to draw the U.S. military directly into the war on their side. But it remains conventional wisdom that Assad ignored Obama’s “red line” and that Obama then flinched from enforcing it.

The New York Times and other major U.S. publications cite this “group think” about the “red line” as flat fact, much as many of them reported without doubt that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein was hiding WMD, reinforcing the pretext for the U.S. invasion of that country in 2003.

On Wednesday, Times correspondent David E. Sanger wrote an article about the need for a coercive “Plan B” to force Assad from power and added that “president [Obama] has repeatedly defended his decision not to authorize a military strike against Mr. Assad after he crossed what Mr. Obama had described as a ‘red line’ against using chemical weapons.”

Note that there is no attribution to that claim about Assad crossing the “red line,” no “allegedly” or “widely believed” or any modifier. Assad is simply judged guilty by The New York Times, which — in doing so — asserts this dubious narrative as flat fact.

Yet, the Times hasn’t conducted a serious investigation into whether Assad is, in fact, guilty. Their last stab at proving Assad’s guilt in late 2013 collapsed when it turned out that the one missile found to have carried sarin had a range of only two kilometers, less than a quarter of the distance from which the Times had alleged that Assad’s military had fired the rocket.

Faced with that evidence, the Times essentially retracted its findings in a little-noticed article buried deep inside the paper during the Christmas-New Year holidays. So, even as the case collapsed, the Times maintained its phony narrative, which it reprises regularly as happened in Sanger’s article on Wednesday.

Misleading Readers

But what does that do to the Times’ readers? They are essentially being propagandized by the “paper of record,” with a questionable assertion slipped past them as an incontrovertible “fact.” How are they supposed to evaluate whether the U.S. government should launch another war in the Middle East when they have been told that a dubious claim is now enshrined as a basic truth in the Times’ narrative?

We saw something similar earlier this year when Jeff Goldberg of The Atlantic wrote a lengthy article on Obama’s foreign policy focusing on his 2013 decision not to launch punitive airstrikes against the Syrian military for the sarin attack.

The opus contained the remarkable disclosure that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper had told Obama that U.S. intelligence lacked “slam dunk” evidence that Assad was guilty. In other words, Obama pulled back in part because he was informed that Assad might well be innocent.

Later in the same article, however, Goldberg reverted to Official Washington’s “group think” that held as a matter of faith that Assad had crossed Obama’s “red line.” That false certainty has proved so powerful that it defies any contrary evidence and keeps popping up as it did in Sanger’s article.

Which gets me to one of my pet peeves about modern America: we almost never get to the bottom of anything, whether significant or trivial. Often there’s “a conventional wisdom” about some issue but almost never is there a careful assessment of the facts and an unbiased judgment of what happened.

On the trivial side, we have the NFL accusing New England Patriot quarterback Tom Brady of participating in some scheme to deflate footballs, even though the scientific and testimonial evidence doesn’t support the claim. But lots of people, including The New York Times, assume the allegations to be true even though they come from one of the most disreputable and dishonest corporations in America, the National Football League, which has recently been exposed for covering up the dangers of concussions.

On more substantive matters, we never see serious investigations into U.S. government claims especially when they’re aimed at “enemies.” The failure to test President George W. Bush’s claims about Iraq’s WMD cost hundreds of thousands of lives, including those of nearly 4,500 American soldiers, and has spread chaos through much of the region and now into Europe.

A Pattern of Neglect

We’ve seen similar neglect regarding Syria’s sarin case and events in Ukraine, from the mysterious sniper attacks that touched off the coup in February 2014 to the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014.

Arguably, the fate of humankind rests on the events in Ukraine where U.S. propagandists are stirring up the West to engage in a military conflict with nuclear-armed Russia.

So, shouldn’t The New York Times and other major publications take special care not to feed a war fever that could exterminate life on the planet? Can’t they find the time to undertake serious examinations of these issues and present the evidence without fear or favor?

But that apparently isn’t how the editors of the Times or The Washington Post or any number of other major U.S. news outlets view matters. Instead of questioning the stories coming from the U.S. government’s propaganda shops, the mainstream media simply amplifies them, all the better to look “patriotic.”

If instead these outlets joined some independent journalists and concerned citizens in demanding that the U.S. government provide verifiable evidence to support its claims, that might force many of these “artificial secrets” out into the open.

For instance, we don’t know what the current U.S. intelligence assessments are about the Syria-sarin attack or the MH-17 shoot-down. Regarding the MH-17 case, the U.S. government has refused to divulge its overhead surveillance, radar and other technical evidence about this tragedy in which 298 people were killed.

If there was some journalistic unity – refusing to simply blame the Russians and instead highlighting the lack of U.S. cooperation in the investigation – the U.S. government might feel enough heat to declassify its information and help bring whoever shot down the plane to justice.

As it stands now on these issues, why should the U.S. government reveal what it actually knows when all the major news outlets are accepting its dubious propaganda themes as flat fact?

The Times and other big media outlets could contribute to the cause of truth by simply refusing to serve as conduits for unsubstantiated claims just because they come from senior U.S. government officials. If the mainstream media did, the American people and the world public might be much better informed — and a lot safer.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here.

May 19, 2016 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 2 Comments