Aletho News


Frexit: Le Pen promises to take France out of EU & NATO

RT | December 24, 2016

French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen said that NATO exists only ‘to serve Washington’s objectives’, and that she planned to hold a Brexit-style referendum, in an interview with a Greek newspaper.

Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right National Front and a candidate for the 2017 presidential elections, is known for her Euroscepticism and anti-immigrant views. Together with France, she also suggested that Portugal, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Greece and Cyprus should also leave the European Union.

“Frexit will be a part of my policy,” she said in an interview with Dimokratia. “The people must have the opportunity to vote for the liberation from slavery and blackmail imposed by technocrats in Brussels to return sovereignty to the country.”

Along with her main rival, the center-right Francois Fillon, Le Pen has called for closer ties with Russia and has criticized NATO expansion into eastern Europe. Le Pen said that she would take France out of the alliance if she became president because, as she said, its existence is no longer needed.

“It was established when there was a risk from the Warsaw Pact and the expansionism of the communist Soviet Union,” said Le Pen. “The Soviet Union no longer exists, and neither does the Warsaw Pact. Washington maintains the NATO presence to serve its objectives in Europe.”

On the topic of immigration, Le Pen said she supported measures to restrict the flow of asylum seekers into Europe.

“I am against the policy which would promote the entry of immigrants into Europe, which cannot accept them … this tsunami of migrants should be limited. Europe does not have the power to ensure they all find work and opportunities to enrich themselves. Immigrants are illegal since once they set foot on European soil … they have violated the law. They must be sent back to their homeland. ”

However, when asked whether the National Front has ties to the far-right Greek party Golden Dawn, a group often described as extremist, Le Pen said she “neither has nor wants” relations with them.

Le Pen is running against former Prime Minister Francois Fillon of the Republican Party in the French presidential elections due to be held in May next year. A left-wing candidate for the Socialist Party has not yet been nominated, as incumbent President Francois Hollande has stated he would not be running for a second term.

December 24, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment

NATO Ramps Up Ukraine War After Defeat in Syria

By Finian Cunningham – Sputnik – December 21, 2016

A surge in military attacks this week by NATO-backed Kiev regime forces on the breakaway eastern Ukraine regions is no mere coincidence.

Hundreds of ceasefire breaches by troops belonging to the Ukraine Armed Forces (UAF) are being reported in the self-declared republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. Over the past few days, several towns and villages have come under intense shelling from artillery, rockets and mortars in stark violation of the Minsk agreement.

That agreement was brokered by Russia, Germany and France during 2014 and 2015 and was meant to facilitate a political settlement between the Western-backed Kiev regime, which came to power in a coup d’état in February 2014, and the breakaway provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk, which refused to recognize the legitimacy of the usurper Kiev cabal.

Houses, schools and water treatment plants have been hit as the UAF and associated neo-Nazi militias move heavy weaponry close to the so-called contact lines. All indications suggest that the NATO-backed Kiev regime is mobilizing for a renewed offensive on the mainly ethnic Russian Donbas region comprising the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.

So far, the militia of the DPR and LPR have repelled the offensive, with dozens of casualties reportedly suffered by the Kiev regime’s military.

The timing of the large-scale attacks on Donbas comes just as the US and its NATO allies incur a strategic setback in their covert war for regime change in Syria. The liberation of the battleground city of Aleppo last week by the Syrian army, supported by Russian, Iranian and Lebanese allies, portends the end of the nearly six-year conflict in Syria. The routing of jihadist militants from Aleppo, who had been backed covertly by the US and certain NATO powers, including Britain and France, has signaled the end of the regime-change project in Syria to oust the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

NATO member Turkey had played a key role in the US-led dirty war on Syria, serving as a conduit for fighters and arms to the proxy jihadist militants trying to overthrow Assad – a longtime ally of both Russia and Iran.

But now Turkey seems to be aligning with Russia and Iran to bring an end to the war in neighboring Syria. This week, foreign and defense ministers from Russia, Iran and Turkey met in Moscow to declare their commitment to end the Syrian conflict. The New York Times reported: “Russia, Iran and Turkey meet for Syria talks, excluding the US”.

Pointedly, the Times added: “The new alignment and absence of any Western powers at the table all but guarantee that President Bashar al-Assad will continue to rule Syria under any resulting agreement.” In other words, it’s “game over” for Washington and its criminal enterprise to subvert Syria.

The setback for American imperialist scheming in the Middle East cannot be overstated. For decades, US rulers have seen it as their God-given exceptional right to roll over any foreign government deemed unfit for their geopolitical interests. Syria was among target countries on the American hit-list, which came into action back in March 2011 when the US and its NATO partners and regional client regime unleashed hell with terror proxies.

US ambitions of conquest in the oil-rich region have now been dealt a stunning blow after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered military operation at the end of 2015 to support the Syrian state, along with Iran and the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah. Despite a massive propaganda campaign orchestrated by the Western media and Washington puppets at the United Nations, the Syrian army and its allies have won a historic victory in retaking Aleppo from NATO-backed jihadists.

Not only is this a bitter military defeat for Washington. It is a political and moral triumph over Western lies as told through major media corporations. The latter were saturated with claims of atrocities and crimes against humanity committed by Syrian and Russian forces. Those reckless claims have now been exposed as blatant fabrications, as the people of Aleppo openly celebrate liberation from Western-backed jihadists who had imposed a reign of terror on large parts of the city for nearly four years.

It seems significant that only days after the liberation of Aleppo, Russian ambassador Andrey Karlov was brutally assassinated in Turkey’s capital Ankara, when a gunman shot him in the back as he addressed a cultural event. The murder was evidently aimed at derailing the political talks underway between Turkey, Russia and Iran.

Who would benefit from such an atrocity? Obviously, the US-led NATO powers. If NATO military intelligence did not specifically order the assassination of Karlov, we can at least say that Washington and its Western allies certainly created the climate of hatred and demonization that made the Russian diplomat a “legitimate target”.

A further significant development is the renewed offensive by the NATO-backed Kiev regime against the ethnic Russian people of east Ukraine. Again, this provocative move comes only days after the spectacular military victory by Russia and its allies against NATO’s jihadist proxies in Aleppo, and possibly now for the whole of Syria.

Make no mistake, the reactionary junta that seized power in Kiev is a surrogate for NATO’s long-held offensive designs on Russia. Citing unsubstantiated “fears” of Russian aggression, NATO has given itself a license to escalate troops and missiles on Russia’s border. Washington and its European lackeys have financed, armed and trained the Kiev regime.

This week, British defense minister Michael Fallon announced more British army training for Kiev’s forces, claiming that it was to counter Russian aggression. Fallon had the cheek to spout this nonsense in the same week that the assaults on eastern Ukraine have surged.

At a NATO-Russia summit in Brussels earlier this week, the US-led military alliance had the gall to call on Moscow to influence “Russian separatists” in Donbas to “honor the Minsk ceasefire”.

Russian delegate to NATO Alexander Grushko reportedly introduced some reality to the meeting by pointing out the hundreds of violations being committed in recent days by the Kiev regime. Such violations are par for the course, since the NATO-backed junta first launched its offensive on the region back in 2014, and which has resulted in up to 10,000 deaths.

As with the Syrian war, Washington and its NATO allies, aided and abetted by the Western news (sic) media, play with semantics and illusions, and insult common intelligence. In Ukraine, NATO is waging a covert war every bit as it was in Syria where as many as 400,000 people have been killed and from which Europe is struggling with its greatest refugee crisis since the Second World War, including the threat of terror attacks as seen in France and Germany this week.

Shamelessly, Washington and its Western subordinates accuse Russia of hybrid warfare and aggression. The reaction to defeat in Syria through ramping up conflict in Ukraine shows that it is the US-led NATO alliance that is the real culprit of hybrid war and aggression.

December 24, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Hanukkah wish: May Obama die from ‘mad cow disease’!

Rehmat’s World | December 24, 2016

Obama-Israel-holocaustl[1]On December 23, 2016, pro-Israel New York Daily News reported that New York politician Carl Pasquale Paladino, 70, wished president Barack Obama die from ‘mad cow’ disease, and US First Lady Michelle Obama return to pro-Iran Zimbabwe as a male.

Paladino said his 2017 year wish is that the outgoing president have sex with a cow and die from mad cow disease. He also said that he wish Obama to be buried next to his Jewish adviser Valerie Boman Jerrett, who he likes to be convicted of treason and decapitated in prison for negotiating with Iranian leaders by ISIS cell mate who mistook her being a nice person.

As far Michelle, Paladino said: “I would like her to return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she live comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla.”

In case some readers don’t know who the hell is Carl Paladino? He is a White Christian Zionist, real-state millionaire, and former GOP gubernatorial candidate in 2010. He was co-chair of Donald Trump campaign fundraising. He recently met president-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower.

Paladino is an opportunist like Donald Trump. In the past, in order to seek support from conservative Christians, he touted his anti-Muslim, anti-gay and anti-abortion stances. For example, on April 6, 2010, the Daily News called Paladimo a clown.

Paladino’s wish reminds me Passover prayer by several Jewish groups in New York and Israel cursing former Iranian president Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the past. On February 26, 2007, the Jerusalem Post reported that Jewish extremists organized a mass prayer attended by 10,000 Jewish children to pray for the death of former President of Iran, Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

December 24, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 3 Comments

When the guns fall silent in Syria

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | December 24, 2016

A Kremlin readout on the phone call made by President Vladimir Putin to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad on Friday to formally congratulate the latter on the liberation of Aleppo, highlighted that the Russian leader “stressed that the main task now is to focus on furthering the peace process, in particular by signing an agreement on comprehensive resolution of the Syrian crisis.”

Putin’s remark is an important signpost of the way forward in Syria. Moscow disfavours continuation of military operations by the Syrian government forces to regain control of the entire country (which would be the likely preference of Damascus and Tehran) and prefers that conditions must be made available to open the peace track. At any rate, all 5 major cities in Syria and the entire Mediterranean coast, where the bulk of Syrian population is concentrated, is in government hands already and the opposition is left to hold Idlib and isolated pockets in the south and east, with supply lines under immense pressure.

A ceasefire all across Syria is in the making. This appears to be the understanding reached at the 2-track ‘trilateral’ of the foreign and defence ministers of Russia, Turkey and Iran which was held in Moscow on Tuesday. Interestingly, at a meeting in the Kremlin on Friday to report to Putin on the conclusion of the operations to liberate Aleppo and the successful downstream activities to evacuate civilians and render humanitarian assistance (in terms of a deal between Turkey, Russia and Iran), Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu also made a significant remark that “In our (military’s) opinion, we are close to reaching an agreement on a complete ceasefire across Syria.” Putin responded:

  • Together with our partners from Iran and Turkey, and of course with the Syrian government, other countries in the region and all countries concerned, we will need to continue efforts to achieve a final settlement. We must make the greatest effort now to end hostilities everywhere in Syria, and we will, at least, do our sincerest best to achieve this goal.

Of course, the campaign against the Islamic State and the al-Qaeda affiliates will continue. A ceasefire all across Syria has been a key demand by Turkey. Interestingly, Putin referred to the objective of drawing “other countries in the region” (other than Turkey and Iran) into these processes. The reference is to Saudi Arabia and Qatar principally. Conceivably, Russian diplomacy is at work on this front.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said he expected the peace talks to take place in Astana in mid-January. But TASS news agency quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying: “I wouldn’t talk now about timing. Right now contacts are being made and preparation is under way for the meeting.” He said Putin would have a series of international telephone calls later to discuss the Astana talks.

Whether the Gulf sheikhs will be willing to drink from the chalice of poison remains to be seen. But what alternative is left for them now that the ‘regime change’ agenda in Syria is off the rails? Equally, a shift in Saudi and Qatari policies, away from further intervention in the Syrian conflict, will also at some point raise another ticklish question: What about the role of Hezbollah and other Shi’ite militia groups from Iran and Iraq who have been fighting in Syria? How an all-Syria ceasefire will be enforced remains to be seen.

Moscow’s objective will be to create new facts on the ground by the time the Trump administration shifts gear on Syria policies. Moscow has signalled on Friday that it is preparing for the long haul as well, with Putin signing a presidential decree ordering the signing of a deal with Syria that will “expand the territory” of Russia’s naval facility in Tartus and allow Russian warships into Syrian waters. The Soviet-era base is currently inadequate to serve most of the modern ships in the Russian Navy.

If the Syrian peace talks take off in the coming weeks, it will amount to a huge victory for Russia’s prestige in the Middle East and for Putin, in particular. But that is a big ‘if’. The good part is that with a relatively cooperative US administration settling down in Washington soon, which may be inclined to collaborate with Russia.

December 24, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Neiman Marcus selling West Bank imports as products of Israel’

Ma’an – December 24, 2016

BETHLEHEM – A major American department store chain has been selling products imported from Bethlehem as products of Israel, despite Bethlehem being located in the occupied Palestinian territory, according to a report from a public radio station in Texas, US.

KETR reported last week that Bethlehem mayor Vera Baboun was “astonished” after she discovered that Neiman Marcus, which is based in the Texas city of Dallas, was selling nativity scenes that were crafted from olive wood in the occupied West Bank town, but labelled as products of Israel.

“This is illegal,” Baboun told KETR. “It’s not Israel. Bethlehem is Palestine.”

“It’s unacceptable … From our side, from the olive wood store and from their side,” she added. “God knows how much we are working in order to keep this a traditional and a national Bethlehemite product. And this is very important.”

PLO official Xavier Abu Eid viewed the case as an attempt to “normalize” Israel’s illegal annexation of Palestinian territory.

“To say that Bethlehem is part of Israel is not only an attempt to normalize the annexation of occupied territory. But it’s also an attempt at fooling the consumers. The consumers have the right to know from where the product is coming. And this product in particular is coming from Bethlehem, Palestine,” KETR quoted Abu Eid as saying.

A Neiman Marcus spokesperson did not directly respond to KETR’s request for comment, and only informed the radio station that their import division was “in charge of making sure all of our imported products, fashion, fur, home goods, etc. are properly labeled in accordance with all applicable laws.”

However, Katrina Skinner, a spokeswoman for the US Customs and Border Protection, told KETR that origin labels bearing the name “Bethlehem, Israel” would not in fact be in compliance with federal regulations.

“With respect to the specific inquiry concerning the use of the marking ‘Made in Bethlehem, Israel,’ the language would be considered not legally marked in accordance with the policy stated in T.D. 97-16 because Bethlehem is within the West Bank,” she said.

According to KETR’s report, Neiman Marcus could face fines for not complying with the regulations, which increase “for egregious violations like undermining foreign sanctions, or for mislabeling products to indicate they were from areas subject to less taxes.”

US policy mandates that products made in in the occupied West Bank cannot bear the label “Made in Israel” — guidelines established mainly to prevent Israeli settlers from using the label, as the US views Israel’s settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem to be illegitimate.

However, the guidelines also apply to products made in the West Bank by Palestinians.

Regulations distinguishing Israel from the Palestinian territories date back to the 1990s. The Clinton administration issued the rules in 1995 and 1997 requiring unique origin labels for imports manufactured in Israel, as opposed to those produced in the West Bank or Gaza Strip.

According to the Palestinian Postal Services, demand from online shoppers for Palestinian products — specifically olive wood handicrafts — have noticeably increased during 2016.

Meanwhile, Palestinian policy network Al-Shabaka reported earlier this year that the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestine has stifled Palestinian economic growth while producing billions of dollars in Israeli revenue.


December 24, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | Leave a comment

Obama Administration Ready to Help Any ‘Destructive Forces’ in Syria – Moscow

Sputnik – 24.12.2016

In its pursuit to change the Syrian government, Obama administration is ready to help any ‘destructive forces’, including Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

Commenting on the issue of expansion of the US sanctions against Russia, the Foreign Ministry said that Moscow sees this act as a way to punish Russia for helping Syria battle terrorism which is a threat to the whole world.

“It has long been noticed that, under the current administration, Washington in its pursuit to shift power in Syria is ready to help any destructive forces. [It is] protecting and covering Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist group that is none other but a subdivision of al-Qaeda, which has commited the most horrible terrorist acts in the history of the US,” the statement said.

“It seems that the White House has forgotten that, under the US law, aiding terrorism is a criminal offense,” the Ministry pointed out in the statement.

On Friday, the US Department of Commerce added 23 Russian entities to its Ukraine-related sanctions list. On December 20, Washington sanctioned seven Russian citizens, eight entities and two vessels due to activities related to the conflict in Ukraine.

December 24, 2016 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Impeachment: the new plan to stop Trump’s Presidency

By Alexander Mercouris | The Duran | December 23, 2016

As predicted, the campaign against Donald Trump’s coming Presidency continues unabated, notwithstanding the failure of the attempt to persuade Republican electors in the Electoral College to switch their votes away from him.

The objective now is his impeachment, with the most cited reason being the so-called Emoluments Clause in Article 1 of the US Constitution. This reads as follows

No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.

As is now becoming traditional, advocates of impeaching Trump under this clause also cite in their support The Federalist Papers, a series of articles written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay promoting ratification of the US Constitution. The article cited in this case is Federalist No.22, in which Alexander Hamilton wrote the following

One of the weak sides of republics, among their numerous advantages, is that they afford too easy an inlet to foreign corruption. An hereditary monarch, though often disposed to sacrifice his subjects to his ambition, has so great a personal interest in the government and in the external glory of the nation, that it is not easy for a foreign power to give him an equivalent for what he would sacrifice by treachery to the state. The world has accordingly been witness to few examples of this species of royal prostitution, though there have been abundant specimens of every other kind.

In republics, persons elevated from the mass of the community, by the suffrages of their fellow-citizens, to stations of great pre-eminence and power, may find compensations for betraying their trust, which, to any but minds animated and guided by superior virtue, may appear to exceed the proportion of interest they have in the common stock, and to overbalance the obligations of duty.

This is supposed to the explain the reason for the Emoluments Clause, though it is nowhere referred to in Federalist No. 22, and though the Federalist Papers are anyway no more than journalistic essays, and are not part of the US Constitution.

That Donald Trump’s opponents are already talking about his impeachment even before he is inaugurated is completely unsurprising.  As a matter of fact I predicted it would happen before the election

If [the next President] is Donald Trump, then he will have to contend with the fact that he is the candidate Hillary Clinton, her campaign, most of the political establishment, nearly all the media, and the US intelligence community, have publicly claimed Russia is helping to win

How  in that case, if Trump does win, would he as President be able to command the respect and loyalty of the foreign policy bureaucracy, of the intelligence community, of the military, of the media, and of Congress, when they have all been told that he is the preferred candidate and quite possibly the agent of a foreign power?  Would they not see it as their duty to obstruct and disobey him at every turn, so as to stop him selling out the country to his foreign puppet-masters?

How does Trump contend with the insinuation, which will be hanging over his Presidency from the first day if he is elected, that it was only because of Russian help (right down to the hacking of voting machines) that he won, and that he is not therefore the true choice of the American people? Would not Trump have to fear possible impeachment proceedings in the event that he made the smallest mistake, with many Americans feeling that any steps were justified to remove a President who they had been told was the agent of a hostile power?

(bold italics added)

Nor is it surprising that they have latched on to the Emoluments Clause.  Donald Trump is a very wealthy businessman with international connections. Almost by definition that has involved him in commercial dealings in foreign states. There continues to be a quiet drumbeat of allegations that his business was bailed out by Russian banks and that he has some mysterious business connection to Russia, which he is trying to conceal by withholding his tax returns. The fact the FBI investigated this allegation before the election, and found it groundless, needless to say in no way prevents it being repeated.

For the record, though I am not a US constitutional lawyer, I don’t think the Emoluments Clause has any bearing on Donald Trump’s previous business activities or his connections, real or alleged, with foreign states or foreign businessmen or with Russia.

Its wording seems to me clearly intended to defeat bribery, in which a foreign state buys the services of a US official in return for a title or a fee.  This is incidentally the point made by Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 22 in the following words, which directly follow his words which I have quoted above, but which advocates of using the Emolument Clause to impeach Donald Trump who cite Federalist No. 22 seem to overlook

Hence it is that history furnishes us with so many mortifying examples of the prevalency of foreign corruption in republican governments. How much this contributed to the ruin of the ancient commonwealths has been already delineated. It is well known that the deputies of the United Provinces have, in various instances, been purchased by the emissaries of the neighboring kingdoms. The Earl of Chesterfield (if my memory serves me right), in a letter to his court, intimates that his success in an important negotiation must depend on his obtaining a major’s commission for one of those deputies. And in Sweden the parties were alternately bought by France and England in so barefaced and notorious a manner that it excited universal disgust in the nation, and was a principal cause that the most limited monarch in Europe, in a single day, without tumult, violence, or opposition, became one of the most absolute and uncontrolled.

There is a fundamental difference between money transferred as a result of bona fide business transactions – which is all that Donald Trump seems to have been engaged in – and money paid as a bribe in return for a favour from a present or prospective office holder. If anything the payments made to the Clinton Foundation by various foreign citizens and governments look far more like bribes than any of the payments Donald Trump is known to have received.

None of this of course is what the talk of impeachment in really about.  Wealthy men with international connections have been Presidents of the United States before without anyone suggesting that the Emoluments Clause applied to them. The true reason there is already talk of impeaching Trump before he is even inaugurated is because a dangerously large proportion of the US political elite refuses to admit his legitimacy despite the fact he was lawfully and constitutionally elected, and the Emoluments Clause is simply the most convenient tool to hand.

In the short term attempts to impeach Donald Trump face a probably insurmountable obstacle in the form of House of Representatives, in which the Republicans have a majority. It beggars belief that an impeachment bill will pass the House of Representatives against a Republican President who has just been elected.

However not all Republicans support or are sympathetic to Trump.  On the contrary, there is a solid block of Republicans who dislike him intensely. Though Trump seems to have more support amongst Republicans in the House of Representatives than he does in the Senate, should things turn difficult there is no certain guarantee that all the Republicans in the House of Representatives will stand by him.

There is to my knowledge no precedent for talk of impeaching a newly elected President before he is inaugurated. Many Democrats point rightly to the implacable hostility shown to Democratic Presidents like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama by the Republican Party. However in neither case did the Republicans dispute the legitimacy of their election, attempt to lobby Democratic electors in the Electoral College to get them to change their votes, or talk of bringing impeachment proceedings before Bill Clinton or Barack Obama had even been inaugurated.

Donald Trump is going to require exceptional political skill if the four years are not going to be crisis ridden and extremely rocky.

December 24, 2016 Posted by | Deception | , | 2 Comments

Trump & Kremlin united by common cause to ‘trash’ Americans – ex-US envoy to Russia

RT | December 24, 2016

Former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul has accused US President-elect Donald Trump of teaming up with the Kremlin in an effort to “trash” Americans. McFaul has called on Republicans to “speak up.”

“Why is Trump so militantly against an investigation into Putin’s meddling in our elections?” McFaul wrote on Twitter on Friday. “What does he have to hide? This love fest is odd.”

Earlier this month, the former US ambassador to Russia even suggested registering RT and Sputnik news agency as “foreign agents,” claiming that they supported Donald Trump during the presidential elections.

“We know that Russian-government-controlled ‘media’ outlets such as RT and Sputnik campaigned openly for one candidate, Donald Trump,” McFaul wrote in his article for the Washington Post. While he accused the Russian news outlets of meddling in the US election, he offered no proof to support his claims.

Last month, McFaul was prohibited by the Russian Foreign Ministry from entering Russia for what it described as purposeful damage to relations between Moscow and Washington. In a Facebook post, he said that he was told he is “on the Kremlin’s sanctions list because of close affiliation with Obama” and “will take that as a compliment.”

Trump set off an avalanche of criticism after agreeing with the Russian leader’s assessment of the Democrats’ attempts to blame the 2016 election on external factors, instead of accepting it with dignity.

Brushing aside evidence-free claims that Russia interfered with the US election process, Russian President Vladimir Putin told journalists during his annual news conference in Moscow on Friday that the Democrats are exclusively responsible for their political failures.

“There are attempts by the Democrats and the current administration to blame their failures on external factors. The Democrats didn’t just lose the presidential election, but the House and the Senate as well. Did I do that as well? They need to learn to lose with dignity,” Putin said.

Reacting to Putin’s statement, Trump tweeted “So true!” triggering a cascade of criticism on Twitter in response, with social media users calling the next US president a traitor, embarrassment, Kremlin puppet, and in Vladimir Putin’s “back pocket.”

December 24, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 1 Comment

City Passes Ordinance Mandating CCTV Surveillance By Businesses, Including Doctors And Lawyers Offices

By Tim Cushing | TechDirt | December 23, 2016

Another government has decided to “protect” local businesses by forcing them to install surveillance cameras.

All commercial businesses located here will now be required to install and maintain security cameras or face a fine or jail following passage of a new citywide ordinance by the Mayor and Board of Aldermen Tuesday night.

“A matter that has been of increasing concern to the board lately is keeping the citizens of Madison safe, as well as the people who come here to visit our stores, through the use of security cameras,” City Attorney John Hedglin said. “It’s very important to have a record of what happens in as many places as possible.”

The ordinance has 30 days before it takes effect.

“Here” is Madison, Mississippi, a city with some very low crime rates — one frequently named to “safest cities” and “best towns for families” lists. Why it’s suddenly concerned about business-focused criminal activity is unclear, but the city’s government has decided it should be able to force businesses to install CCTV systems, whether or not they need them… or can even pay for them.

Renee Burns, manager of Hop and Habanas, voiced concerns about the cost of surveillance equipment in an interview with WAPT News.

“Surveillance cameras are very expensive, to get everything set up and it could have people close their stores because they can’t afford it,” Burns said.

And if they can’t afford them, the new statute will make sure they can’t afford to stay in business.

Existing businesses will have one year after the ordinance goes into effect to comply. Those that fail to comply may be subject to a $500 fine and/or up to 90 days in jail. Each day of noncompliance is a different violation.

While there have been similar statutes enacted in other cities, these have generally been targeted at businesses already subject to extra regulation, like pawn shops, gun stores, and pharmacies. There has been some mission creep in recent years, leading to other businesses being ordered to install surveillance systems, like cellphone resellers and scrap metal dealers.

On top of that, many of these ordinances also allow for on-demand law enforcement access, allowing the government to extend its surveillance reach without having to pay for the equipment. The specifics of Madison’s new statute haven’t been made available yet, so it’s unclear whether the collection of footage from businesses will be voluntary and tied only to investigations requested by business owners, or whether law enforcement will just be able to show up and demand to see recordings.

Then there are other privacy concerns to address. The city’s attorney has stated that the ordinance covers businesses like doctor’s offices and law offices — places where patient/client confidentiality has long been assumed. Forcing businesses like these to record interactions with their customers would perhaps prevent more-privacy conscious individuals from seeking help. And this new collection of footage could be abused/misused to identify people who thought their requests for legal/medical assistance wouldn’t be turned over to law enforcement.

December 24, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment

Ecuador to Investigate NGO for Supporting Amazon Anti-Mining Violence

teleSUR | December 22, 2016

Ecuador has warned that an environmental group, accused of supporting violent acts that left one police officer dead and another with life-threatening injuries amid Indigenous protests against a Chinese mining company in the Amazon, is being investigated and could have its legal status removed.

Accion Ecologica was notified Tuesday by the Ministry of Environment that administrative proceedings would be starting against the group which is accused of supporting “mobilizations that promote discord and confrontations with the police,” Ecuador’s Ministry of Interior said.

Accion Ecologica has been accused of supporting recent violent protests reportedly carried out by the section of the Shuar Indigenous group which attempted to occupy territory in the area where Chinese mining company Explorcobres, in charge of a copper mining project in Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest, is operating.

On Dec. 14, a group of people in the town of San Carlos de Tanantza, in the province of Morona Santiago, killed a police officer, injured five others, as well as two military members, during a protest against the mining project.

Security officials said that a group of 80 people, believed to be part of a Shuar community fired at police guarding the Explorcobres camp, after the group had already attempted on a number of occasions to enter the area. The government is holding six people in detention over the incidents, which also left another officer seriously injured.

Ecuador has rules governing NGOs that say that they should fulfill the mandate of the mission in their legal documents, and government officials say that Accion Ecologica has moved away from its original peaceful goals of environmental advocacy and that its support of recent violent protests could undermine the country’s security and peace.

Ecuador began registering and regulating NGO’s, given the history of interference from foreign governments using NGO’s to meddle in the country’s affairs.

The Ministry of Interior said that all environmental groups are free to “express their ideas,” but are not permitted to “make an apology for criminal actions or engage in political action apart from the function they registered in the defense of nature.”

In a statement, Accion Ecologica responded to the accusations by the Ministry of the Environment maintaining that “We have been scrupulous in our compliance with the law,” and that their lobbying complies with the country’s environmental management guidelines. In response, the group has taken to social media with the hashtag #SOSAccionEcologica, echoing the “SOS” taglines used by opposition groups to the region’s left-wing governments.

December 24, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Environmentalism | , , | Leave a comment