Aletho News


Lucky Pence

By Gilad Atzmon | January 24, 2018

According to Times of Israel former British chief rabbi Jonathan Sacks helped US Vice President Mike Pence write his Monday address to the Knesset.

A source with knowledge of the speech-writing process said “Rabbi Sacks provided input and editorial suggestions on various drafts throughout the writing process.”

As we are learning from the American press that the White House has lost contact with the Palestinian leadership, maybe the Palestinian should save time, cut the goy in the middle and just negotiate directly with Rabbi Sacks.

January 24, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 1 Comment

The North calls for unification of all Koreans without foreign aid

Press TV – January 24, 2018

North Korea has called on “all Koreans at home and abroad” to make a “breakthrough” for unification without foreign assistance.

The rare announcement, which was made via the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Thursday morning, called on all Koreans to “promote contact, travel and cooperation between North and South Korea.”

It added that the North will “smash” all obstacles on the path towards the reunification of the Korean Peninsula, while stressing that military tensions on the peninsula were the “fundamental obstacle” for the better ties with the South.

Joint military drills with “outside forces” were also hindering the progression of ties between the two Koreas, it added.

The report noted that Koreans should engage in an energetic drive aimed at defusing military tensions and establish a peaceful climate on the peninsula.

The announcement was issued following a joint meeting of North Korean government and political parties.

The two Koreas have long had strained ties. Tensions recently skyrocketed with repeated North Korean missile and nuclear tests and increased South Korean joint military action with the United States. But tensions then subsided with bilateral dialog and mutual overtures.

Under a deal approved by the International Olympic Committee, the Koreas will field their first unified Olympic team in women’s hockey, and will have their athletes parade together under a single flag during the February 9 opening ceremony in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The two Koreas have also agreed to hold joint cultural events at the North’s Diamond Mountain and have their non-Olympic skiers practice together at a North Korean ski resort

January 24, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | | 1 Comment

‘Apartheid State’: UN Slams Israel For Human Rights Violation

Sputnik – 24.01.2018

On Tuesday, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) held a session aimed at assessing the progress Israel made during its third Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a UN-backed process designed to assess the human rights record of a state and make recommendations for improvement.

In the course of the struggle between the Israelis and Palestinians, the UN has repeatedly accused Israel of not respecting human rights as it continues to build settlements on the West Bank, however, the strongest condemnation comes from South Africa, a country which used to have one of the world’s worst human rights records itself.

During the session a delegate from South Africa, a country where the system of discrimination based on supremacy of white people and suppression of the black population called apartheid originated from, characterized Israel as “the only state in the world that can be called an apartheid state,” since it denies the right of self-determination to the Palestinian people, “in the absence of which no other human right can be exercised or enjoyed.”

Other HRC members also expressed their deep concern over Israel’s violation of the UN resolution which rules that Israeli settlements on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem are illegal, as the country continues to expand the existing settlements as well as building new areas.

Russia, Jordan, the UAE and Iran alongside other countries called on Israel to stop the annexation of Palestinian land and the construction of Israeli settlements there, whereas the Palestinian delegation during the session urged Israel to halt “its 50-year colonial occupation” and “compensate Palestinians for all of the losses incurred due to their presence.”

Israeli ambassador to the UN Aviva Raz Shechter said that Israel would submit to the review process though she pointed out the HRC’s bias and “the unfair treatment of Israel” in the council.

Territory in the West Bank was seized by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War in the course the long-lasting struggle between Israelis and Palestinians for the territory of what previously was the British Mandate of Palestine. The West Bank is mostly populated by Arabs and the United Nations considers this territory to be illegally occupied by Israel. Some sponsors of a peace process, among whom are Russia and the EU, have repeatedly warned that Israeli settlement activity undermines any chances for a two-state solution, which involves the creation of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.

January 24, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , | 4 Comments

SDF: American, British volunteers join fight against Turkey in Afrin

MEMO | January 24, 2018

American, British and German citizens are among other volunteers with the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that have joined the fight against Turkey in the Syrian province of Afrin, an official told Reuters earlier today.

Turkey’s offensive on the northern region, with the support of Free Syrian Army brigades, started on Saturday and has seen at least 260 Syrian Kurdish fighters and Daesh militants killed in its four-day-old attack.

SDF official Redur Xelil told reporters that foreign fighters among the SDF’s ranks had chosen to go to Afrin to support efforts against the Turkish assault.

“There was a desire on the part of the foreign fighters who fought in Raqqa and who are fighting in Deir Ez-Zor to go to Afrin,” Xelil said. “They will wage battles against the Turkish invasion.”

“There are Americans, Britons, Germans, different nationalities from Europe, Asia and America,” Xelil added.

Foreign fighters are not believed to make up a significant number of the SDF’s forces, with officials only stating they number in the “tens”.

The SDF is primarily made up of militants of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), an offshoot of the designated terrorist organisation, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The group has launched continual attacks against Turkey for the past three decades and their intention to establish a state based on federalism in northern Syria, has prompted Ankara’s intervention since 2016.

Following a US announcement last week that the Trump Administration would continue to aid the SDF and aim to establish a 30,000 strong force along the Syrian border with Turkey, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the decision and announced the start of Operation Olive Branch against SDF held regions.

Foreign fighters from the US and Europe have been free to join the SDF and fight alongside YPG forces, as well as return home.

However, those who seek to join other sides in the Syrian conflict do not face the same treatment, with UK Defence Secretary last month calling for British citizens fighting with Daesh abroad to be hunted down and killed. The policy was later criticised by terrorist watchdogs and human rights group who have accused the minster of advocating “war crimes”.

Earlier this month, France also refused the repatriation request of Emilie König, a Frenchwoman suspected of recruiting fighters for Daesh, who now regrets her decision to leave her country. In an interview with Radio RMC, France’s Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet, also said that French nationals who travelled to Syria to join Daesh could be tried by the SDF, signalling a de facto recognition of the autonomous Kurdish region, despite the group’s terrorist affiliations.

The SDF has been accused of numerous human rights violations in Iraq and Syria, including revenge attacks against civilians in former Daesh territories. Amnesty International is one of several NGOs that have recorded the SDF committing war crimes including displacing residents, razing homes, torture and extrajudicial killings.

January 24, 2018 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , | 6 Comments

‘Son of b***h got fired’: Joe Biden forced Ukraine to sack prosecutor general ‘in six hours’

RT | January 24, 2018

Former US vice president Joe Biden boasted that he had a word to say in another state’s internal affairs, admitting to have pressured the Ukrainian government into sacking a prosecutor general in just a few hours.

“I looked at them and said: ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money,’” Biden said during a meeting of the US Council on Foreign Relations. He was referring to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and former Ukrainian prime minister Arseny Yatsenyuk. Biden added that the prosecutor was then fired.

“Well, son of a b***h. (Laughter.) He got fired.”

The incident that Biden referred to dates back to late March 2016. At that time, the then-US vice president met Ukrainian government officials to discuss the situation in Ukraine as well as US financial assistance to Kiev. Biden apparently used US guarantees of a third loan worth $1 billion as a means of applying pressure on Kiev. “I said, ‘I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars,’” he said at the meeting on Tuesday, recalling on the incident.

The then-Ukrainian prosecutor general Viktor Shokin was indeed removed from his post by the Ukrainian parliament on March 29, 2016. Two days later, Kiev announced that Biden had met with Poroshenko and “informed him about the US decision to provide [an] additional $335 million for reforms of the security sector of Ukraine.” It also said that “possibilities for providing the third loan guarantee of $1 billion” were “open.” Poroshenko officially dismissed Shokin on April 3, 2016.

Earlier, Biden also boasted of other cases of US interference in Ukrainian internal affairs. In a book titled ‘Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship and Purpose,’ which was published in November, the former vice president said that he openly demanded that former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich resign back in 2014.

He also claimed that he had to direct almost every step of the Poroshenko administration after it came to power, following a chain of events that started with a coup that ousted ex-leader Viktor Yanukovich and gave rise to the Ukrainian crisis. Biden also admitted that he “had been on [the] phone with either Poroshenko or… Yatsenyuk, or both, almost every week” for months.

However, Ukraine was far from the only country pressured by Washington at that time. During the Tuesday meeting, Biden also revealed that the US administration “spent so much time on the phone making sure that everyone from… [former French president Francois] Hollande to [former Italian prime minister Matteo] Renzi wouldn’t walk away” from anti-Russian sanctions.

Europe initially sought to avoid the sanctions campaign against Moscow, the former US vice president said. He also added that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was almost the only major European leader who “was strong enough to… stand with” the US on this issue, even though she “did not like it” and supported Washington only “reluctantly.”

January 24, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , | 3 Comments

Fake News: Russia and Sputnik Accused of Meddling in Malaysian Elections

By Ivan Danilov | Sputnik | January 24, 2018

In its latest “Asia insight” feature, Japanese news agency Nikkei speculates that Russia is “meddling” in Malaysia and other Asian countries with alleged “authoritarian streaks”.

It seems that the fake news epidemic that struck Western media during the US presidential elections and the Brexit vote has spread to Japan. Nikkei cites two instances when Russia allegedly “filled the void” left by the Western powers, which chose to reduce their engagement with countries plagued by “creeping authoritarianism”: Malaysia and Cambodia. It is curious that in Malaysia’s case, the Japanese journalists claim that Sputnik’s cooperation with the local media is basically proof of Russian meddling, hinting that Moscow is seeking to influence Malaysian internal and economic affairs.

All accusations are based on a twisted interpretation of a single diplomatic visit by a Russian deputy minister. According to Nikkei, “there are hints of Russian meddling in Malaysia, where the election is scheduled by August. Last month, the Russian deputy minister of telecom and mass communications, Alexey Volin, visited Kuala Lumpur to discuss cooperation between Sputnik, a Russian government-backed media company, and Malaysian player Bernama.”

It would be nice to know how exchanging articles and stories between two news agencies can amount to meddling, but the Nikkei analysts failed to provide any details on their accusations, only mentioning that the FBI is investigating Sputnik in order to determine whether “the Russian government’s involvement in journalism violates U.S. laws.” By the same token, the journalists crying foul over Sputnik’s alleged meddling in Malaysia should be deeply concerned by the fact that Sputnik also cooperates with one of the biggest Japanese media corporations, Kyodo News.

Sadly, it wouldn’t be surprising if Sputnik’s partners in Japan or other countries will soon be criticized as agents of Russian influence. Facts don’t matter anymore; the era of fake news is upon us. It used to be that gaining access to new sources of information was viewed as a positive development, but some Japanese journalists seem to believe that Malaysians shouldn’t have access to Sputnik’s news coverage.

Unsurprisingly, Nikkei found another country subjected to Russian influence: Cambodia, citing the presence of Russian election observers as proof. According to the Nikkei article, “Putin seems to find kindred spirits in so-called illiberal democracies”, and that is the reason for Russia’s decision to send election observers and set up a working group to negotiate the issue of Cambodian debt, left over from the Soviet days.

It is also alleged that “that China and Russia do not foist demands for human rights and democracy on their partners, making them appealing benefactors for regional leaders intent on staying in power,” while cooperation with Western countries is conditional upon maintaining a functional democracy and respect for human rights. Obviously, this is false, given the West’s extensive history of cooperation with regimes characterized by blatant disregard for basic human rights. For instance, the US openly supported the Pinochet regime in Chile after the 1973 coup, despite the fact that Chilean authorities routinely executed their political opponents. A Chilean commission investigating human rights abuses concluded that over three thousand Chileans were killed or “forcibly disappeared” under Pinochet, while the total number of recognized victims of this staunch US ally is above forty thousand. President Franklin D. Roosevelt supported the Nicaraguan leader Anastasio Somoza, who had a well-deserved reputation as a brutal dictator.

Western governments have supported numerous autocratic regimes across Africa, South America and the Middle East, and continue to support undemocratic countries to this day and therefore no American or Western apologist can claim they have a moral high ground on this issue. To say that the West cares about human rights is hypocritical. Pretending that “authoritarian streaks” are the reason why countries like Cambodia or Malaysia seek to cooperate with Russia or China is disingenuous. The logical explanation is that Russia and China offer better deals and refrain from imposing a political or ideological agenda on their partners.

The authors of the hit-piece, published by Nikkei, seem to be under the impression that economic cooperation in South-East Asia is a zero-sum gain in which a Russian or Chinese gain can only come at the expense of Japanese or American interests. It doesn’t have to be this way. Accusing Russia and its media outlets, like Sputnik, of political interference is counterproductive, and may also be interpreted as a sign of petty jealousy of Russia’s diplomatic prowess.Searching for win-win solutions that would allow everyone to benefit from multilateral economic cooperation is a better way forward. Economic cooperation without political strings attached is a prerequisite for peaceful coexistence between countries that share a complicated history and may have different opinions on a wide range of geopolitical issues. Giving up spreading fake news would be a welcome first step in this direction.

January 24, 2018 Posted by | Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

Facebook pretending to care about democracy now is the height of hypocrisy

By Danielle Ryan | RT | January 24, 2018

Facebook has admitted that sometimes, it might actually be bad for democracy. Facebook is right about that. However, I’m not sure that the social media platform really understands why this is the case.

The admission comes in a series of official blog posts by Facebook insiders about what effect social media can have on democracy. “I wish I could guarantee that the positives are destined to outweigh the negatives, but I can‘t,” wrote Samidh Chakrabarti, a Facebook product manager. He continued: “… we have a moral duty to understand how these technologies are being used and what can be done to make communities like Facebook as representative, civil and trustworthy as possible.”

First off, it’s important to understand the political and media context in which Facebook has felt forced to make these comments. That context is alleged ‘Russian interference’ in the 2016 election through the promotion of political ads designed to take advantage of social division. Facebook is responding to a not small cohort of Americans who genuinely believe that Russian Facebook ads are destroying democracy. The second thing to understand is that while Facebook’s admission may sound like noble self-reflection, the truth is that what Facebook says and what it means are two very different things.

There is a temptation among some to believe that the social media giant is a neutral actor that cares about fairness and democracy and that it is doing its very best to ensure it has a positive effect on democracy. This could not be further from the truth.

If Facebook’s recent history is anything to go by, the California-based company is not actually a big fan of democracy at all. Even before Facebook decided to become selectively outraged about the ubiquitousness of propaganda and ‘fake news’ on its platform, it was already engaging in political censorship. Take this 2016 story in which Facebook employees admit to suppressing conservative news on the platform, for example. Not only that, but employees were told to artificially “inject” Facebook-approved stories into the trending news module when they weren’t popular enough to make it there organically. The employees were also told not to include news about Facebook itself into the trending category.

“Facebook’s news section operates like a traditional newsroom, reflecting the biases of its workers and the institutional imperatives of the corporation,” Michael Nunez wrote for Gizmodo. With that kind of ability and willingness to manipulate, Facebook itself possesses huge potential to affect political outcomes, far more than some Russian ads.

Facebook has said it believes that simply adding the ability to click an “I voted” sticker can increase actual voter turnout significantly through a combination of simply seeing the sticker and feeling the peer pressure to vote if your friends have done so. This is supposed to be one of the good things Facebook has done for democracy, but there are so many ways that Facebook could use this kind of thing to surreptitiously promote its own political agenda.

What if Facebook were to artificially push certain news stories in specific locations – say, where an election was taking place – and then add the “I voted” button for users in that area. Or alternatively chose not to add that button for certain races where a lower turnout might be deemed a good thing.

What Facebook means when it says it is worried about how its platform is being used is that it’s not entirely comfortable with the fact that it can’t fully control the political narrative. Even Facebook believes it has created a monster. It would like to control what our impressionable minds might see and read – lest we fall victim to unapproved opinions or ideologies. But Facebook also knows that such control is not entirely possible – and therein lies their true crisis.

Even the steps Facebook has taken to address alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election are questionable. In his blog post, Chakrabarti writes that the platform has “made it easier to report false news” and has “taken steps in partnership with third-party fact checkers to rank these stories lower” in the news feed. Once the fact-checkers identify a story as fake, Facebook can reduce impressions of that story by 80%, he says. But who are these third-party fact checkers? Facebook doesn’t tell us.

“We’re also working to make it harder for bad actors to profit from false news,” he writes. But again, we don’t get a definition of bad actor, either. One assumes Russia is the bad actor referred to – but if Facebook was truly concerned about government propaganda and its effect on election outcomes, the crackdown would surely not be limited to one government. Are some governments bad actors and other governments good actors? Is some propaganda good and some bad? Are some sock-puppet accounts acceptable and others not? Can we get a breakdown?

Facebook has also been kind enough to help users figure out whether they were unfortunate enough to have come into contact with any Russian-linked posts. It’s part of their “action plan against foreign interference”. Again, we might benefit from a definition here of “foreign interference.” Facebook is an international platform, thus the potential exists for elections to be ‘interfered’ with through Facebook all over the world, not just in the United States. Does Facebook’s fight against foreign interference incorporate all those efforts equally? This kind of information would be really helpful, if Facebook would be kind enough to provide it.

Facebook is not alone in its mission to rid the world of nasty Russian propaganda. Twitter is at it, too. Last week, the company sent out emails to users warning them that they may have come into contact with Russian propaganda on the microblogging platform. Curiously, no similar warnings have been sent to users who came into contact with American propaganda online – despite the fact that we’ve known for years that the US government has been using sock-puppet accounts to spread its own propaganda and misinformation online.

Google has also dipped its toes in the water. Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc., said recently that Google was trying to create special algorithms and “engineer the systems” to make RT’s content less visible on the search engine.

Media coverage of Facebook’s comments was fairly uniform. Most outlets have been treating the blog posts as a ‘see, we told you!’ moment, focusing entirely on the Russia angle but ignoring the many other ways in which Facebook has itself attempted to corrupt the free flow of information and manipulated its users. The reporting is almost sympathetic: Poor innocent Facebook is coming to terms with the fact that sometimes bad things happen online.

The Washington Post called Facebook blog posts the “most critical self-assessment yet.” Another piece in the Post opines on Facebook’s “year of reckoning.” Reuters reported that the sharing of “misleading headlines” became a “global issue” after accusations that Russia had used Facebook to interfere in the 2016 election. The implication is almost that misleading headlines are some kind of new phenomenon and Facebook is out there on the frontlines of the battle.

Facebook wants you to stay mad about Russian ads. It wants you to believe that its democracy-loving executives are truly sorry and doing all they can to make the platform as good for democracy as possible. What they don’t want is for us to examine their own practices too closely. But that’s exactly what we should be doing – instead of congratulating them on their disingenuous foray into self-reflection.

January 24, 2018 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Analysts Explain How Russia, Iran May Scupper US’ ‘Army of Bots’

Sputnik – January 24, 2018

The US is allegedly mulling over sophisticated new methods of influencing the public opinion in Russia, Iran and North Korea, among other countries. Russian and Iranian cyber-security specialists shed light on the US Army Intelligence and Security Command’s (INSCOM) recent initiative and the potential counter-measures to handle the challenge

It appears that the US Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) is seeking to create an “army of bots” which would analyze social network data and influence users across the world. According to the INSCOM request, it is targeting those who speak Arabic, French, Pashtu, Farsi, Urdu, Russian, and Korean.

Mikhail Friben, a cyber-security specialist at the Ural Information and Analytical Center, suggested that at the initial stage the INSCOM initiative won’t prove effective and could be counterbalanced by “mirror measures.”

Artificial Neural Networks

“Back in 2010, when I was researching artificial neural networks [ANN], I noted that their shortcoming was the lack of high-quality linguistic agents, i.e. software, that can speak adequately in one language or another,” the cyber-security specialist told Sputnik Persian. “Now, judging by the US statement, they have [developed] such software. But here is the rub: for the declared countries, linguistic agents are different in terms of language structure.”

It is expected that this army of bots will monitor posts, learn colloquial expressions, differences in spelling and slang. This would help the US Army determine whether user messages are negative, positive or neutral and influence a specific audience.

Friben explained that although in 2010 the US developed effective linguistic agents for the English language, it was impossible to create such software for the Russian language, given the difficulty of defining semantics by word structure in this tongue.

However, according to the cyber-security analyst, the people, who read comments, are mostly affected by the emotional coloring of the message and not so much by its meaning. Therefore, theoretically, the INSCOM system will be able to perform the assigned tasks efficiently, Friben underscored.

The question then arises as to how the US will turn the theory into practice.

“Such systems usually work poorly at the initial stage, since the neural network needs to be properly ‘trained’ with the help of native speakers,” the specialist emphasized. “Yes, there is a system of machine learning, which can prove successful only if the parameters are correctly set. And for this, again, we need a human resource with knowledge of a specific language. But as a rule, [linguistic] specialists who could understand the emotional coloring of the language may misread the actual situation, especially in social networks.”

How to Counter US ‘Army of Bots’

Nevertheless, if not resisted, the ANN can become very effective in manipulating sentiment, the specialist noted, adding that there are at least two options to handle the challenge.First, Russia can create its own “army of bots” to nullify the emotional impact generated by the American system, Friben noted.

The second option is to directly monitor users.

The cyber-security analyst explained that a real social network user has diverse activities: he exchanges messages, writes comments, post some news.

“All these parameters can be set in the ANN so that it can analyze them,” Friben said. “As a result, you get a certain portrait of a user… Take, for example, Vkontakte [social media platform]. It has a bot tracking system which will allow it to track a new American army of bots. For more effective work it is necessary to simulate all actions of the user. Also, you will have to simulate geo-targeting and other parameters. It will be possible to track the bots.”

Why Iranian Users Are Invulnerable to Bot Attacks

Mohammadreza Azali, co-founder of the large Iranian IT portal Techrasa believes that an attack by American bots will have little if any impact on Iranian users.

He draws attention to the fact that lots of major social media platforms are blocked in the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI). It requires a certain level of computer literacy to reach these platforms via VPN, however, according to Azali, the majority of Iranians cannot be called experienced users.

On the other hand, “many Iranian residents today associate the Internet and social networks with Telegram, and it is used by the majority of the inhabitants of our country,” the IT specialist told Sputnik. “In addition, Telegram has a high level of protection and encryption, which does not allow bots to gather information. So far, there have been no cases of so-called bots being able to communicate in Telegram.”

Azali noted that, citing the looming security threat, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei established the Supreme Council of Cyberspace six years ago which explores the country’s cyberspace and the online segment. Within the framework of the new structure a special body — the National Center for Cyberspace — was created.

One of the measures the center took was the increase in mobile Internet users, as well as the attraction of domestic investors in this sphere, the IT specialist underscored, adding that now the IRI has 47 million mobile Internet users “who are easy to control.”

“Moreover, many foreign services were blocked by this center, and instead of these services domestic alternatives were presented,” Azali said. “We use Aparat instead of Youtube and Café Bazaar instead of Google Play. Therefore, it is unlikely that Iran would really suffer from this army of American bots. Their action can be effective only at the level of those social networks that are blocked in Iran.”

Speaking on the conditions on anonymity with Sputnik a leading analyst of the Iranian National IT Center for Cyber Security said that the IRI is capable of resisting any kinds of attacks, including those in cyberspace.

He specified that, to counter the bots, special mechanisms were implemented in Iran including the creation of national social networks and the development and popularization of technological culture and knowledge.

“One of the effective methods of the struggle was to block a number of Western social networks and portals,” the analyst said. “We have developed a whole range of software and technical mechanisms for identifying malicious artificial digital robots (bots). But given the national security issue, I cannot share information on how the algorithm works.”

January 24, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

Syria: West Obstructing Objective Chemical Probe Because It Reveals Collusion with Terrorists

Al-Manar | January 24, 2018

Damascus condemned as lies on Wednesday allegations made by US State Secretary and French Foreign Minister about the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

In remarks carried by Syria’s State news agency, SANA, an official source at the Syrian foreign ministry said the US-French allegations are part of a policy adopted by Washington and Paris which has been aimed at systematically targeting Damascus.

The source asserted that Syria has always been fully cooperative and provided all that is necessary to conduct an unbiased, objective, and professional investigation into the use of chemical weapons.

The Syrian cooperation was met on the other side by Western obstruction of the probe, the source said, adding that the West has exercised various types of pressure on investigation teams to politicize it.

“A transparent and objective investigation would not serve the West’s agenda in Syria; rather it will reveal its confirmed collusion with terrorist groups by covering up those groups’ use of chemical weapons in order to accuse the Syrian government of their use,” SANA quoted the Syrian official as saying.

“The history of the US and its Western cohorts is rife with such lies and fabrications, and what happened in Iraq hasn’t been forgotten.”

Meanwhile, the source stressed that “those who fabricate such lies and overstep the jurisdiction of the relevant international organizations and pressure them to serve their own agenda have no credibility or any moral and legal criteria to appoint themselves judges.”

January 24, 2018 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 1 Comment

DAMASCUS: Death in the Afternoon, Ignored by Corporate Media in the West

By Vanessa Beeley | 21st Century Wire | January 24, 2018

Two days ago, nine civilians, mostly schoolchildren were murdered by the US Coalition-financed terrorist factions embedded in the eastern suburbs of Damascus, in this instance East Ghouta. I was leaving the Bab Touma area of the Old City on the same day, less than ten minutes before the mortars mowed down excited children, leaving school and boarding their school buses. The following is my brief report on the event on Facebook:

“We were leaving Bab Touma this afternoon just as the schools finished for the afternoon, around 1.30pm. The streets were teeming with children of all ages, laughing and talking excitedly as they headed for the many school buses waiting for them. The car horns echoed around the streets from the impatient drivers packed into the narrow, cobbled streets.

It was wonderful to see all the colours of their coats and school bags. It was a warm day, the sun was bright and heightened the colour & clamour from these children. One little girl walked past the car giggling with her friend, her smile broke her face in two, it was so broad and expressive.

As we turned left towards Bab Sharki gate to leave the Old City..the children were still pouring onto the streets, walking hand in hand in front of the car, taking their time, gossiping & laughing in the sunshine.

Christine Hourani

About 10 minutes after we left the Old City gates, death struck these children in Bab Touma and Qasaa. Terrorists from East Ghouta fired mortars into these areas murdering 9 innocent children & adults. One young girl, Christine Hourani, who survived the blast risks her legs being amputated below the knee. She was a “lucky one”.

Her aunt, Berjo Alkhouri wrote on Facebook:

“I would like to make a special request from my heart and soul to all my friends and relatives to pray for my niece, my sister’s daughter, Christine Horani and for the Lord to heal her and to recover from her dreadful injury. She has been horrifically injured on her lower limbs by explosive missiles and bomb shells that have targeted the region of Bab Touma, Damascus, Syria while she was just going out of her school.

I also ask for prayers for her dear friend Pascal Al Khalil that has also been injured with her and I ask for God’s mercy on the blessed soul of her other friend Rita Al Eid that has sadly passed away yesterday and is a martyr of this horrific tragedy.”

Another young girl, Rita Eid (in the photo) was murdered…her father Nidal owns Ghassani supermarket where friends of mine buy their groceries.

Death stalks everyone in these streets every day. The smiles I saw just before the mortars rained down may have been crushed beneath the rubble. A child who left for school this morning, full of excitement, may never come back.

Teenager Mohamed Zafer – killed

What did these children do? How can it ever be called a “revolution” when these monsters in East Ghouta deliberately fire mortars into an area brimming with schoolchildren. It is a systematic massacre of Syrian civilians being carried out by the terrorists the US Coalition-of-terror finance, arm & paint as “freedom fighters”.

Where are these missiles coming from? How are these terrorists receiving supplies to manufacture bombs, yet claim they are starving?

As a dear friend said to me, “from the names of the dead and injured, over 80% are Christian, this is such a small community, everyone knows each other… ”

How much longer will we passively support what our governments are inflicting upon the Syrian people?”

Below is a photograph of three-year old Elias Khoury who was killed during this heinous attack by the terrorist factions that the Western corporate media insists upon calling “rebels” or “freedom fighters”.

The majority of the victims were schoolchildren but among the adults was school principal, Khaled Al Sakka.

Mike Raddie of BSNews wrote the following moving tribute to the victims of this latest in a long line of US Coalition-endorsed terrorist attacks on civilians in Damascus:

“Watching the news today I couldn’t help but shed a tear for the victims of yet another horrific terrorist attack – part of a seemingly unstoppable wave of Muslim Brotherhood-inspired and MI6 / CIA sustained political violence that has swept across Syria for over seven years. My sympathies go out to the families of those killed and the almost two dozen injured, some horrifically. The tears I shed were for the victims and their families obviously, but they were also tears caused by a despair and frustration I feel so deeply – why was this attack and its aftermath not covered by our TV news programmes? Why no mention of the atrocity on the evening bulletins of ITN or the BBC here in the UK? Why are some victims of gruesome terror undeserving of our attention?

I first heard of the tragedy via instant messenger, then I watched the aftermath online, read eyewitness accounts via Twitter and Facebook, then via email, interspersed with text messages received from friends. Feeling somewhat overwhelmed and unable to take it all in I decided to go for a walk.

Once out in the fresh early evening air I began to wonder whether it would have been possible to be in London, with our sophisticated 24-hour TV news machinery, and not hear about the gruesome attack had the victims been mostly westerners. Without doubt, that crucial fact would have merited a slot in the news schedule. We would have learned the victims’ names, seen harrowing reaction from their family and friends, heard about their hopes and dreams. Had westerners even been injured in the attack my neighbours who saw me out walking that evening would have been expressing righteous outrage rather than looking stupefied as I explained my unmistakable sadness. You see, western victims of terror are ‘worthy’ victims. In stark contrast, Syrian civilians, even women and children, are ‘unworthy’ victims especially so when their deaths and injuries are at the hands of extremists factions our government and its allies have been supporting. Like Yemen, Syria is a war ‘we’ wage but don’t see!

Al Nusra Front terrorists chose to strike at the heart of the old city, Bab Touma and Qassaa neighbourhoods, in the predominantly Christian district of Damascus. This is where I stayed on my two visits to Syria in 2016 and 2017. This is where I slept, ate and shopped, where my friends live and work, where people of all nationalities, religions and cultures come together. Sickeningly the attack took place just as children were leaving school for the afternoon. Several mortar shells fired by militants positioned in the Eastern Ghouta region struck just after 2 pm murdering nine innocent children & adults, including a 3-year-old boy, Elias Khoury. A source at Damascus police command center reported that many of the casualties occurred when a shell fell on a bus stop in the area.”

Pascale Al-Khalil, 16 years old. She was injured in the attack and is now receiving hospital treatment in Damascus.

Read on for the full article from Mike Raddie: The Machiavellian Determination of Victim Worthiness

January 24, 2018 Posted by | War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

New US National Defense Strategy Is Again Offensive

By David Macilwain | American Herald Tribune | January 23, 2018

Last week “Mad Dog” Mattis announced a new US Defence Strategy, the first for a decade and with a radical change of focus, from fighting terrorism to fighting Russia and China. The US DoD put it like this:

“The National Defense Strategy seeks to implement the pillars of the National Security Strategy: peace through strength, the affirmation of America’s international role, the U.S. alliance and partnership structure and the necessity to build military advantage to maintain key regional balances of power.”

According to Deputy Defense Secretary Elbridge A. Colby this strategy is necessitated because of:

“the erosion of U.S. military advantage vis-a-vis China and Russia, which, if unaddressed, could ultimately undermine our ability to deter aggression and coercion and imperil the free and open order that we seek to underwrite with our alliance constellation.”

“The strategy aims at thwarting Chinese and Russian aggression and use of coercion and intimidation to advance their goals and harm U.S. interests, and specifically focuses on three key theaters: Europe, the Indo-Pacific and the Middle East, Colby said.”

Whether this is a new strategy or just a new declaration of the existing one depends on your point of view. In announcing it at the press conference Jim Mattis stressed the supposed shift from fighting terrorism to countering Russia and China, as well as their effective allies North Korea and Iran. Following hot on the heels of Tillerson’s confrontational outburst, and refusal to get out of Syria following the defeat of Islamic State, the sudden shift looks rather convenient – the US can now claim it must stay in Syria to counter Russia’s growing influence in the region.

What’s new!  Wasn’t this always the US plan, as laid out a decade earlier in “Which path to Persia?” – a plan that seems to be relentlessly moving forward despite all obstacles, including particularly international law?

While there have been a few setbacks in the US project to advance its goals around the globe against the interests of Russia and China and their allies, the escalation in aggressive US confrontations in those “key theatres” since Trump came to power makes nonsense of Colby’s claim that the new policy is “not a strategy of confrontation, but it is strategy that recognizes the reality of competition.”

Even if that were true, it only emphasizes the fundamental difference in approach between the great powers. Neither Russia nor China see competition or confrontation as their goals, leave alone the insulting and ludicrous “aggression, coercion and intimidation” which the US attributes to them. Faced with a rational and responsible partner rather than the expansionist and exceptionalist US, it is a desire for collaboration and co-existence that evidently motivate China and Russia, and also lie at the center of their own developing cooperation.

Symbolizing this difference – or rather conflict – between world views, is the ongoing dispute over the South China Sea. Just before Mattis announcement, the US sent a ship into the disputed waters as part of its “freedom of navigation” exercises, and received an immediate demand to leave from China, which has long lost patience with this serial provocation. In this area one of America’s “constellation” allies Australia is forced to take sides, and reveals itself as an accomplice to the ongoing Imperial crimes.

Despite Australia’s crucial economic dependence on China, its current government seems to be going out of its way in provoking and insulting Chinese leaders and representatives. As Mattis made his announcement, PM Malcolm Turnbull was in Japan visiting a missile defense base and talking about joint exercises and military cooperation. Australia also took part in the provocative exercises against North Korea with the US and South Korea at a time of high tension last year, despite Russian and Chinese warnings against them.

And when it comes to the South China Sea issue, it must be pointed out that China’s legitimate concerns are to maintain the freedom of navigation through its main transport artery to the West and Australia. Given the US coalition’s participation in exercises simulating a blockade of these channels it’s not hard to see and support China’s defensive stand on this issue.

Part of the “new strategy” in the Indo-Pacific is also likely to be an expansion of the US presence and bases in Australia. “In the new security environment” – whatever that is – the stationing of US strategic bombers in Northern Australia is now being proposed. Along with the massive regional US surveillance base in Pine Gap, nuclear-armed bombers will make us a prime target for one of China’s ICBMs, so no doubt we’ll also be getting THAAD missile defense systems.

On reflection it appears that the “new” US “National Defense” Strategy is little more than the one pursued fifty years ago against the Soviets and the Chinese Communists. Fifteen years of the “Global war on Terror”, culminating with the scourge of “Islamic State” was just means to the same end, and can now be discarded.

The tragedy is that with Vladimir Putin and Xi Jing Ping we really had a chance for diplomacy, law and peace to prevail.

*(Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis announces the National Defense Strategy at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, Jan. 19. Image credit: DoD photo/ Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kathryn E. Holm/ flickr)

January 24, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment