Aletho News


Truth At Last: The Assassination of Martin Luther King

corbettreport | April 4, 2018

On April 4, 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King delivered a passionate speech at Riverside Church in New York staking out his opposition to the war in Vietnam. One year later to the day, he was assassinated. Now, 50 years after that fateful day, the truth about the assassination of Dr. King can finally be told.


April 4, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | 1 Comment

Skripal case: belief in Russia’s guilt looks to be based not on evidence but on a guess

British authorities admit have no proof poison made in Russia; entire case against Russia based on a classified assessment

By Alexander Mercouris | The Duran | April 3, 2018

On the eve of the meeting of the OPCW’s executive council – convened by Russia and scheduled for tomorrow – we have had a highly revealing succession of statements about the Skripal case from the British authorities.

The one which is attracting the most attention is the admission by Gary Aitkenhead, chief executive of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) at Porton Down, that whilst British scientists are able to confirm that the poison used in the attack and Sergey and Yulia Skripal was a ‘military grade’ Novichok type substance (the Russian authorities say the British have told them it is A-234), they cannot confirm that it was produced in Russia.

We were able to identify it as novichok, to identify that it was military-grade nerve agent.

We have not identified the precise source, but we have provided the scientific info to Government who have then used a number of other sources to piece together the conclusions you have come to…..

It is our job to provide the scientific evidence of what this particular nerve agent is, we identified that it is from this particular family and that it is a military grade, but it is not our job to say where it was manufactured. (bold italics added)

Gary Aitkenhead did however go on to say that the poison used in the attack on Sergey and Yulia Skripal would have required “extremely sophisticated methods to create, something only in the capabilities of a state actor”.

Gary Aitkenhead refused to say whether or not Porton Down had ever produced any of the poison used in the attack on Sergey and Yulia Skripal.  However he categorically denied that the poison could have come from Porton Down

There is no way anything like that could have come from us or left the four walls of our facility

Before proceeding further, I should say that I expect that some people are going to seize on Gary Aitkenhead’s denial that the poison could have escaped from Porton Down as an admission that there are stocks of the poison in Porton Down.

That would be a logical fallacy.  A denial of one thing – that the poison came from Porton Down – should never be treated as an admission of something else – in this case that Porton Down possesses stocks of the poison.

I say this as someone who thinks it ‘highly likely’ (to borrow a phrase) that Porton Down does possess stocks of the poison.

In any event, we now have clarity on one important point.  The scientific evidence does not prove that the poison which was used in the attack on Sergey and Yulia Skripal came from Russia.

I expect that this is also the opinion of the French experts the British authorities consulted – if it were not I would expect Gary Aitkenhead to have said so – and of the OPCW’s experts.

The current position in the case can therefore be summed up as follows

(1) the British scientific evidence is that Sergey and Yulia Skripal were poisoned by a Novichok type chemical agent (probably A-234) but does not extend to this agent having been made in Russia;

(2) the British police have not yet named a suspect in the case;

(3) there are various theories about how Sergey and Yulia Skripal were poisoned.  Sputnik has summed some of them.  It appears that the latest theory – that the poison was smeared on the door of Sergey Skripal’s house – is running into problems, and may be wrong.

(4) though Gary Aitkenhead says that the British have no knowledge of any antidote in a case of poisoning by the chemical used in the attack on Sergey and Yulia Skripal, the British authorities have said that Yulia Skripal is now recovering, which suggests either that her contact with the poison was very slight, or that the potency of the poison has been greatly exaggerated.

Theresa May on 14th March 2018 said that Russia was ‘culpable’ of the attack on Sergey and Yulia Skripal.  Previously, on 12th March 2018 she said that it was ‘highly likely’ that Russia was responsible for the attack.  Since the EU Council meeting of 22nd March 2018 the British government together with the EU have reverted to Theresa May’s original 12th March 2018 position that it was ‘highly likely’ that Russia was responsible for the attack.

Gary Aitkenhead’s comments taken by themselves in my opinion make it impossible even to say that Russia was ‘highly likely’ to have carried out the attack.

His claim that only a state possesses the resources to have made the poison is not evidence against Russia given that various other states are known to have the means to produce the poison and may actually have done so.

Besides I understand that this claim is disputed by other scientists, who however – unlike Gary Aitkenhead – have not been involved in identifying the poison.

We are left therefore with our old friends, the British government and the British intelligence agencies who have secretly ‘assessed’ on the basis of ‘other’ evidence which since it is classified they will never show us that Russia made and possesses the poison which was used in the attack on Sergey and Yulia Skripal.

That we are dealing not with hard fact of the sort that can be produced in court to prove a case, but with a classified ‘assessment’ the basis of which will always be secret, is confirmed by the British Foreign Office, whose spokesman is reported to have said the following

We have been clear from the very beginning that our world leading experts at Porton Down identified the substance used in Salisbury as a Novichok, a military grade nerve agent.

This is only one part of the intelligence picture.

As the Prime Minister has set out in a number of statements to the Commons since 12 March, this includes our knowledge that within the last decade, Russia has investigated ways of delivering nerve agents – probably for assassination – and as part of this programme has produced and stockpiled small quantities of Novichoks.

Russia’s record of conducting state-sponsored assassinations; and our assessment that Russia views former intelligence officers as targets.

It is our assessment that Russia was responsible for this brazen and reckless act and, as the international community agrees, there is no other plausible explanation. (bold italics added)

That this is so has also been confirmed by Porton Down

It is not, and has never been, our responsibility to confirm the source of the agent.

This chemical identity of the nerve agent is one of four factors [NB: what were the other three – AM] used by the Government to attribute the use of chemical weapons in Salisbury to Russia.

The Government’s assessment has been clear from the start. Our chemical analysis is a key part of the Government’s assessment, and this has not changed. (bold italics added)

The word ‘assessment’ may sound impressive, but it is essentially no more than a pretentious word for a surmise or at best an analysis.  As such – like any other surmise or analysis – it can be wrong.

The famous 6th January 2017 ODNI Assessment – one of the foundation documents of the Russiagate scandal – contains a lengthy discussion of what an ‘assessment’ is.  It contains these now famous words

Estimative language consists of two elements: judgments about the likelihood of developments or events occurring and levels of confidence in the sources and analytic reasoning supporting the judgments.  Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact.  Assessments are based on collected information, which is often incomplete or fragmentary, as well as logic, argumentation, and precedents. (bold italics added)

If the British government thinks it knows that Russia carried out the attack on Sergey and Yulia Skripal – which is all that an ‘assessment’ implies – that is one thing.

However a criminal investigation by the British police into the attack is supposed to be underway.

The British government has preempted that investigation by making public claims of Russian state responsibility on the basis of an ‘assessment’ the grounds for which can never be shown to a defendant, and which therefore cannot be produced in court.

I cannot see how that can do anything else other than undermine the whole investigation process, and prejudice the conduct of any future trial.

Perhaps that is a matter of indifference to most people.  It is not to me.

As for the famous formula that it is ‘highly likely’ that Russia is responsible for the attack on Sergey and Yulia Skripal, I do not see how that is sustainable any longer.

The most that can be said is that the British government thinks that Russia is responsible, about which however it may be wrong.

Perhaps all those countries that expelled Russia’s diplomats on the strength of a British guess should now be inviting them back?

April 4, 2018 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism | | Leave a comment

Israeli violence against Palestinians will never end as a result of UN & US hypocrisy

By Eva Bartlett | RT | April 4, 2018

During peaceful protests on March 30 in eastern Gaza, an unarmed Palestinian man walked on farmland towards the fence built by his occupiers. Within minutes, he was shot by one of the 100 Israeli special forces snipers deployed along the fence precisely to quash dissent—by any means necessary—under the old pretext of “self-defense.”

On the same day, a Palestinian woman, armed solely with a flag, walked towards the fence which has imprisoned her for so many years. She, too, was targeted by one of the snipers.

Among the 17 killed that day was a 16-year-old girl and a 27-year-old farmer, the latter killed by Israeli tank fire.

Even the BBC, which is not generally known to report fairly on Palestine, noted: “The first to die was Omar Samour, 27 – a Palestinian farmer killed in Israeli shelling as he worked his land near Khan Younis early on Friday, before the protests began.”

Yet, according to Israel, this farmer was a “terrorist infiltrator,” the lexicon which Israel uses to whitewash its extrajudicial assassinations.

Sputnik reports that the Israeli Army spokesperson proudly tweeted they knew “where every bullet landed,” but later deleted the tweet, likely because it was clear these bullets landed in the bodies of unarmed protesters.

In my three years living in Gaza, I frequently accompanied such demonstrations, and also did so in countless demonstrations when I stayed as an activist for eight months in the West Bank. Having experienced these first hand, I’m acutely aware that Israel has zero moral authority on conduct.

In the tens of demonstrations in the West Bank and Gaza which I accompanied, “violence” always began with the Israelis shooting live ammunition, lead bullets covered with a thin rubber layer, and suffocating tear gas at unarmed Palestinians. That Palestinian youths chose to respond with slingshot-spun rocks is entirely within their rights. But in my experiences, it was always Israel which began, shooting to maim and kill, kidnapping and imprisoning unarmed protesters.

On Land Day in March 2010, I joined one of six demonstrations that were held in the Gaza Strip. It was in Khoza’a village, east of Khan Younis. The four young Palestinian men targeted by Israeli snipers all reported being shot with live ammunition without any prior warnings, including one man shot in his head.

And as with the March 2018 Land Day demonstrations, Israel deemed the 2010 assault acceptable: “an investigation showed ‘soldiers operated in accordance with accepted dispersal procedures,’ in regards to the IDF violence against unarmed protestors.”

The “accepted dispersal procedures” of Israel occur on a daily basis throughout occupied Palestine, whether against unarmed protesters in Bil’in village near Ramallah, or against unarmed farmers—from children to elderly—in Gaza.

These procedures include firing on Palestinian civilians from remotely-controlled Israeli gun towers stationed along the fence enclosing Gaza. Israel also targets other civilians working in border regions, including children and youths collecting rubble and scrap metal for use in construction.

Western media is reporting that the 2018 attacks on Palestinian protesters was the single bloodiest day in Gaza since the 2014 “clashes.” The lexicon of “clashes” – used to refer to Israel’s brutal summer 2014 bombardment of Gaza, and also the recent Israeli assassinations of civilians in protests – is corporate media’s typical distortion of reality and of the balance of power. When unarmed protesters calling for human rights are literally gunned down, these are not “clashes,” these are assassinations.

Further, this negates the near-daily Israeli targeting of Palestinian farmers, fishers, and people working in the border regions. This including sniping at and shelling women, elderly, and children.

In the farmer accompaniment work I did in Gaza, many Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition at and around myself and other volunteers, at close proximity, in an effort to aggress and frighten farmers off of their land. Israel’s policy of attacking Palestinian farmers and fishers is a part of their larger policy of rendering Palestinians utterly dependent on inadequate food aid and utterly, needlessly, impoverished.

In 2011, I wrote about the Israeli destruction of Palestinian agriculture in Gaza, noting:

“Around a decade ago, Palestinian farmers could still access land up to 50 metres from the border. The Israeli-deemed ‘no-go zone’ expanded over the years to 150 metres, then 300 metres, cutting Palestinian farmers from their orchards, crops and grazing land.

“A decade later, those orchards bulldozed by Israeli bulldozers, farmers now struggle to access land in some areas up to two kilometres along the 300 metre buffer zone violently rendered off-limits by the Israeli soldiers.

“Over 30 percent of Gaza’s agricultural land is not worked on because of the buffer zone. This is Gaza’s more fertile land, where olive, fruit, citrus and nut trees once flourished, along with wheat, barley, rye and other crops, providing much of Gaza’s needs.”

Two brutal Israeli bombardments of Gaza later, the percentage of workable agricultural land will have decreased still further.

Turkey and Israel compete for moral supremacy

Following Israel’s attacks on Palestinian protesters, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan bashed Israel, stating:

“I do not need to tell the world how cruel the Israeli Army is. We can see what this terror state is doing by looking at the situation in Gaza and Jerusalem. Israel has carried out a massacre in Gaza and Netanyahu is a terrorist.”

While I happen to agree with this statement, it is particularly ironic that it comes from the leader of a state that is warring on Syria, has given safe passage, and weapons, to terrorists to enter Syria, and has in recent months killed hundreds of civilians in northwestern Syria.

Since late January, Turkey has been bombing Afrin, northwestern Syria. The latest casualty count I have found was 222 civilians murdered and 700 injured as of March 10, 2018. A later report states, “more than 1000 civilians martyred and injured,” thousands displaced, by the Turkish bombings.

Then, of course, there is Israel’s direct support to terrorists in Syria, including treating terrorists from the FSA to Al-Qaeda in Israeli hospitals.

Thus, both Israel and Turkey have civilians’ blood on their hands, and neither has been held accountable.

No justice has ever come to those civilians maimed, murdered, imprisoned by Israel. Nor has any international body truly pushed for justice. Weak words, quickly forgotten, are not the pursuit of justice and accountability of the perpetrators of crimes.

Predictably weak UN reaction

Following Israel’s assassination of Palestinian protesters, the United Nations issued weak statements of concern, but no actual condemnation of Israel’s brutality.

Absent the outrage which UN bodies and representatives reserve almost exclusively for war propaganda and whitewashing terrorists in Syria, UN Secretary-General António Guterres blandly offered his “thoughts” to the families of those murdered by Israel. He called for “an independent and transparent investigation into these incidents.” Just who would do such an investigation? Israel? The UN?

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, known for his rabid anti-Palestinian statements, vetoed the call, stating, “There will be no commission of inquiry. We shall not cooperate with any commission of inquiry.”

The UN assistant secretary-general, Tayé-Brook Zerihoun, described the day of slaughter as having “devolved into violence at several locations across Gaza.” Seventeen unarmed Palestinians murdered by elite Israeli snipers is not “devolving into violence,” it is slaughter. Premeditated slaughter, at that.

We can expect precisely zero action or justice via the UN, when such a massacre is downplayed, and when prior Israeli massacres of Palestinians have never been held accountable by the UN or by the state which the UN routinely requests look into its own murdering.

At that same UNSC meeting, America’s UN delegate, Walter Miller, had the gall to put the blame on Palestinians. Miller described Palestinian civilians as: “Bad actors who use protests as a cover to incite violence [and] endanger innocent lives.”

America is fine with “rebels” like Al-Qaeda “protesting” in Syria, but when genuinely unarmed protesters in Palestine exercise their right under international law to protest the occupiers who violently expelled them from their homes and land, they are “inciting violence.” The hypocrisy of America and the UN never ends, and as a result, the violence of Israel will never end.

While Turkey cries crocodile tears for Palestinians, Israel pretends to be the most moral army in the world, and the UN turns endless blind eyes to Israel’s war crimes and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, and Palestinians continue to bravely protest the crimes of Israel.

As Gareth Porter tweeted, “many 1000s of Gazans are ready to die as martyrs rather than submit to Israel’s policy of slow death; Israeli snipers will continue 2 kill Palestinian demonstrators in cold blood; US gov’t & news media have given Israel a green light.”

Indeed, the UN, corporate media and world leadership may, and do, ignore or vilify them, but Palestinians keep standing up to the most immoral military and government in the region.

Eva Bartlett is a freelance journalist and rights activist with extensive experience in the Gaza Strip and Syria. Her writings can be found on her blog, In Gaza.

April 4, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | 3 Comments

King’s Legacy Betrayed

By Margaret Kimberley | Consortium News | April 4, 2018

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the preeminent leader of the black liberation movement in the 1950s and 1960s. Millions of people engaged in the struggle against America’s shameful apartheid system but King was the most influential. His actions are remembered, his words are quoted by activists, politicians, and pundits. His birthday is a national holiday. Only the worst and most retrograde racists dare to speak ill of King.

But the lionizing is mostly a sham. In fact there are very few people who remember the importance of what King said, what he did or why and how they should replicate his work. His legacy has been subverted and is now understood only by the most conscious students of history.

Nothing illustrated this state of affairs more clearly than the use of King’s words in a Ram truck commercial broadcast during the 2018 Super Bowl football championship. Viewers were told that Ram trucks are “built to serve.”

The voice over is provided by King himself speaking exactly 50 years earlier, on February 4, 1968. The Drum Major Instinct sermon was a call to reject the ego driven desire for attention in favor of working for more altruistic pursuits. “If you want to say that I was a drum major say that I was a drum major for justice.”

The commercial’s creators deliberately ignored the portion of the sermon in which King derided the influence of advertising. He even mentioned vehicle advertising specifically. He warned that “gentleman of massive verbal persuasion” can influence people to act against their own interests. “In order to make your neighbors envious you must drive this type of car.”

A Nation Going Backwards

Corporate interests are not alone in pretending to honor King while actually attacking him. King’s legacy is severely diminished because it has been used by cynical individuals for corrupt purposes. As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of his assassination we see a nation that has moved backwards on nearly every front. Legalized discrimination was eliminated but powerful forces undermined progress and America in 2018 is devoid of the change that King fought to make real.

Much of the blame lies at the feet of the Democratic Party, who have an undeserved reputation for enacting progressive policies. In reality, Democrats actively targeted black people for joblessness, poverty, imprisonment and disenfranchisement. Democrats became the party of corporate interests and aligned themselves with every neoliberal initiative. They forsook the union movement, working hand in hand with finance capitalists to take living wage jobs out of the country. Bill Clinton oversaw the end of public assistance as a right, destroying what Franklin Roosevelt enacted 60 years earlier. He built on the work of Ronald Reagan and massively increased the prison population.

Barack Obama offered a “grand bargain” of austerity to Republicans and continued the George W. Bush policy of tax cuts for the wealthiest. The banks which created the 2008 financial collapse were rewarded with huge bailouts of public funds. Black people ended up losing the small bit of wealth they held before the crash and now lead only in the negative measurements of quality of life.

Democrats destroy public education through charter schools and refuse to raise the minimum wage even when they control Congress and have the power to act. They were never the party of peace and they are now most outspoken in encouraging an anti-Russian resumption of the Cold War and supporting imperialist interventions.

After the legislative victories of the 1960s black Americans were ignored, subjugated or co-opted. It is true that there are thousands of black elected officials, when in King’s day there were hardly any. But this political class is a traitorous one and works for its own benefit, its patrons in corporate America and the civil rights organizations that are subsidiaries of the Democratic Party. The black political class went along with every sordid deal that Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama pursued. Their positions are secure but the rest of black America is anything but.

Prison Population Explodes

A glaring example is the enormous increase in incarceration rates. When Martin Luther King was alive there were only 300,000 incarcerated Americans. There are now more than 2 million. The exponential increase is not coincidental. Mass incarceration was a direct reaction to the freedom movement. Segregation put black people under physical control and the system devised new ways to secure the same result when it ended.

Black men became the face of drug dealing, or deadbeat fatherhood or anything else that the press and politicians told white Americans to fear and hate. The ripple effect is terrible and damages family life, the ability to earn a living and even to vote. In 48 states felons either lose the franchise permanently or are prevented from voting until all supervision is lifted. In Florida alone 1.5 million people cannot vote because of past convictions. A recent court case declared this rule unconstitutional and if a November 2018 ballot measure passes they may have their voting rights restored. That will be a happy result but there are 5 million more Americans, disproportionately black, who elsewhere lose the ability to vote due to criminal convictions.

Until incarceration becomes a mass movement, political issue, the Voting Rights Act amounts to very little. Actually the act already amounts to little because the Supreme Court nullified its most important provisions requiring southern states to seek permission before changing voting rules. The Democrats are less concerned with getting out the vote than in making their wealthy patrons happy and protecting the Senate majority and federal judiciary they claim is so important.

Of course the Democrats are in a bind. They don’t want to get out the vote because that would mean fighting for the issues that the masses need addressed. The wishes of wealthy, corporate America don’t dovetail with those of working people. Fat cat funders don’t want an increased minimum wage. Getting out the vote would mean biting the hand that feeds. So the people be damned.

King’s Challenge to Militarism Defied

King began his fight for the particular needs of black people in a uniquely oppressive system. As years went by he also opposed the economic system itself and the war in Vietnam. In 2017 the Democrats, including most Congressional Black Caucus members, went along with Donald Trump’s request for a 10% increase of an already huge military budget. They will go through the pretense of complaining when that increase inevitably restricts federal spending for social needs, but they are connivers who hope we miss their charade.

Martin Luther King Jr. with President Johnson in 1966

The liberation movement succeeded against great odds. Most black people then as now lived in the southern states and could not vote. Yet their coordinated mass action won them the franchise anyway. That lesson must not be forgotten as the juggernaut of neoliberal plots threatens everyone.

Every major American city is undergoing an onslaught of gentrification which displaces millions of black people at the whim of finance capital. The politicians who will speak in praise of King today do nothing to stop them. In fact they depend upon their largesse to stay in office.

They do nothing to stop the continued terror of billionaire rule. Instead they assist the richest in grabbing more and more. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos this year became the richest person on the planet. His plans for a new Amazon HQ could be funded entirely by his corporation. Instead cities across the country scramble to give away property and tax dollars to help fund the race to the bottom for workers.

Hollow Admiration

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. should be remembered for his tremendous courage in speaking out against the power of money and the military industrial complex. The poseurs who go along to get along should be silent today. The past 50 years have been so tragic because the hard won victories were deliberately destroyed.

King inspired the people to fight for their needs. He did so when the New York Times and Washington Post vilified him. He spoke against the Vietnam war when his compatriots feared angering Lyndon Johnson. The mass action movement that he led forced LBJ to act when he didn’t want to. If politicians act on behalf of the people it is never because they have the right motives.

That is what we must remember about King. The admiration is hollow unless we do as he and millions of others did and commit ourselves to challenging the system. That will mean openly and loudly denouncing the people committed to destroying what they worked and died to achieve. The worst traitors are the most prominent and well respected. But the respect is undeserved and quite dangerous. The night before he was killed King spoke of getting to the promised land. That won’t happen until the scoundrels are named and opposed. Honoring King’s legacy demands that we do just that.

Margaret Kimberley is Editor and Senior Columnist at Black Agenda Report. Ms. Kimberley serves on the Administrative Committee of the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC), the Coordinating Committee of Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) and the Advisory Board of She is writing a book about racism and the American presidency. She is a graduate of Williams College and lives in New York City.

April 4, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

Israeli Meddling and Palestinian Death

By Margaret Kimberley | Black Agenda Report | April 4, 2018

On March 30, 2018 the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) committed cold-blooded murder in Gaza. Thousands of unarmed Palestinians marched peacefully to protest the occupation and declare their right to return to their homeland. The Great Return March was met with gunfire and 18 people died.

The killings were caught on camera but the response from the United States, its allies and their friends in corporate media reveal as much as any photography ever will. The massacre was either disappeared as if it never took place, or was described as a “clash.” The BBC, CNN, the New York Times and the rest of their cohort used this word which implies some equality in defense capability when one side, the one with the dead people, was completely unarmed.

The media covered up for Washington’s friends and politicians were silent. Bernie Sanders’ mealy mouthed response was one of the few to be heard. He called the shootings “tragic” and said that the IDF “over reacted.” Crediting him with these weasel words is damning with faint praise but this minimal response is not surprising given the degree of Israeli influence in American politics.

While the media and the politicians work themselves into a frenzy about alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election the Israeli government happily continues its decades long influence over American politics. It is quite open and understood by everyone that obedience to Zionism is a necessity in political life. Any politician who questions Israeli policy is at immediate risk of being defeated by a well-funded opponent. The media also collude and ensure silence on this subject, which is one of the most open secrets in American life.

One need only compare the official and media reaction when any nation declared an enemy is under attack. The differences in treatment are obvious and glaring. When the Iranian government faced domestic protests the United States demanded a United Nations Security Council investigation. Now the U.S. turns the tables and blocks Security Council investigation of Israel’s latest killing spree.

It is always clear who is on the outs with the United States and its NATO friends. There is no evidence that the Russian government poisoned former spy Sergie Skripal. Yet more than 20 countries followed the lead of the U.K. and expelled Russian diplomats over flimsy assertions. Any nation that dared to show skepticism quickly fell into line and repeated the unproven trope. New Zealand initially made the reasonable statement that it didn’t believe Russian diplomats stationed in that country were spies. Just one day later they announced that the expelled Russians wouldn’t be welcome there either. The quick change is itself proof of pressure exerted when the powerful nations want something done.

Everyone from journalists to politicians censor themselves. The process has been perfected to such a decree that no threat needs to be made. Everyone understands the risk of speaking out and few are willing to pay the price.

Consider the story of Steven Salaita, a highly regarded scholar of American Indian history. When he used social media to vent his outrage over Israel’s Gaza war crimes in 2014 he lost a tenured position at the University of Illinois. He eventually recovered monetary damages but four years later he was turned down for every position he sought in countries all over the world. The message is clear to any would-be critics of Israeli policy.

The American Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC) holds its annual conference and gets Democrats and Republicans to show up and say the same thing. Any politician who wants to run for office doesn’t stray from Zionist orthodoxy and even those with leftish credentials repeat verbatim the same words as the most hawkish conservative.

In 2014 Congress voted unanimously to support the Israeli government’s killing spree in Gaza. Even the vote to declare war on Japan in December 1941 was not unanimous. Nothing is ever unanimous in Congress. But this coordinated falling in line is itself proof of the heavy handed meddling that is a fact of political life in this country.

Israel would not exist at all without U.S. support. But its supporters have turned the dependency upside down. The recipient of American largesse is firmly in control of the debate and the result is that “serious” journalists keep a straight face when a massacre is labeled as a clash.

Steven Salaita spoke very eloquently about his experience as an opponent of Zionism. “I condemned a brutal ethnocratic state. On this count, I will die unapologetic. And insofar as we are forced to contemplate life in binaries, I prefer unemployment to subservience. My heart is with those who struggle for dignity amid terrible oppression.”

Those are courageous words. We should all strive to do likewise and not hesitate to say that a criminal apartheid state is just that. Like the endless videos showing police murder in the U.S., there was ample evidence of Israel’s brutality before the Great Return March. If Palestinians are willing to brave bullets the very least we can do is speak the truth and perhaps make life a little more difficult for people who interfere with what is left of democracy in this country.

April 4, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Porton Down: Lab behind Skripal poison probe has dark history of human testing

RT | April 4, 2018

The Porton Down lab at the center of the Skripal poisoning case has a dark history of secret government-run human testing. The human trials were conducted as part of the UK’s war preparation against the Soviet Union.

The military laboratory at Porton Down was the hub of Britain’s biological weapons trials between 1939 and 1989. Ministry of Defence scientists conducted chemical experiments on at least 20,000 military personnel and more than 100 secret germ warfare tests on members of the public in preparation for a feared chemical attack from the Soviet Union.

This year, the lab was thrust back into the headlines when it was given the responsibility of determining the substance used to poison Sergei and Yulia Skripal. The lab’s chief executive has since confirmed the team are unable to identify the “precise source” of the nerve agent, and the Foreign Office has denied claiming it was from Russia – despite Boris Johnson’s assertions on just that point.

The government-run experiments on military personal seriously breached ethical standards, according to an official report released in 2006. It followed years of complaints from veterans claiming to have suffered lasting damage to their health as a result of the trials.

During the experiments Porton scientists dripped liquid nerve gas on the bare arms of 440 men and at one point tested nerve gas on eight men without the trial participants knowing what it really was. Six men were exposed to mustard gas for five consecutive days – three of whom suffered burns to their scrotums. Around 450 men had their eyes exposed to sarin nerve gas.

A 60-page government report released in 2002 detailed tests which exposed millions of people to harmful substances. The tests consisted of releasing potentially dangerous chemicals and microorganisms over vast areas of Britain – unbeknownst to the population below.

It also revealed that military personnel were instructed to tell any “inquisitive inquirer” that the trials were part of a research project into weather and air pollution.

Designed to test Britain’s vulnerability if deadly clouds were released over the country, in most cases trials used alternatives to biological weapons such as serratia marcescens bacteria or zinc cadmium sulphide, which was dropped on the public in huge amounts to mimic germ warfare.

The government insisted the chemical involved was safe, however cadmium is recognised as a cause of lung cancer and was considered a chemical weapon during World War II. Families living in the tested areas who have children born with birth defects have demanded a public inquiry.

In another trial a military ship sprayed bacteria including e.coli and bacillus globigii, which mimics anthrax, over a five to 10-mile radius along the south coast of England between 1961 and 1968, exposing more than 1 million people to the micro-organisms. In trials designed to test the vulnerability of government buildings and public transport, bacteria were released on the London Underground, traveling about 10 miles.

The report also confirmed that during World War II Porton Down produced millions of cattle cakes spiked with anthrax which could be dropped into Germany to kill livestock on a mass scale.

Ulf Schmidt, Professor of Modern History at the University of Kent, estimated in his 2015 book ‘Secret Science,’ that up to 30,000 secret chemical warfare experiments were carried out during that time period at Porton Down. It has also been claimed in most cases the military men were not given enough information to properly give consent.

The 100-year-old lab has a reported annual budget of £500 million and employs 3,000 scientists. In 2008 the Ministry of Defence awarded £3 million in compensation to 360 tested veterans without admitting liability.

April 4, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

West Uses Skripal Row to Boot Russia From Syrian Chemical Weapons Issue – Moscow

Sputnik – 04.04.2018

Blaming Skripal’s poisoning on Moscow, Western states are trying to push Russia aside from discussion of cases of chemical weapons usage in Syria, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman.

On Issue of Chemical Weapons

Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova noted that chemical weapons remain a key issue in the decision-making process for all countries, as the legitimacy of Bashar Assad’s power in Syria is always being linked to it by Western countries and the US-led coalition.

“Before, we were told that Assad just had to leave, because he was bad but then this concept was abandoned. Now they say that he is bad and must leave because he violates international law using chemical weapons in Syria,” she said.

The representative went on saying that the West is trying to play the same card in the current row over Skripal’s poisoning.

“Thus, inventing the story about the alleged use of chemical weapons by Russia on British soil, Western countries are trying to push Russia aside from the legal field of discussion of issues pertaining to the chemical weapons in Syria. Under the pretext that there is nothing to talk about with Russia, as they claim Russia has used chemical weapons in Europe,” Zakharova added.

Earlier in the day, the British side presented its own version of why Russia proposed to convene an extraordinary session of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Council. According to the UK permament representative to the OPCW John Foggo, Russia wants to use the organization’s meeting scheduled for April 4, the date on which a year ago a chemical attack in Syria’s Khan Sheikhoun took place, in order to make a political statement.

“For all of us gathered here, it is very sad to admit that chemical weapons attacks continue not only in Syria. Today marks exactly one month since the usage of the nerve agent here in Europe,” he said.

After the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta in January, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson accused Damascus of using chemical weapons and also claimed that Russia was responsible for the victims because of its engagement in Syria.

The Russian Foreign Ministry back then said that Washington was spreading propaganda against Moscow in an attempt to demonize the Syrian government and subsequently topple it, underscoring that the information on the chemical attacks used by the United States was uncorroborated.

In October 2017, the OPCW report alleged that the Syrian government was responsible for the April 4 sarin attack on the Syrian city of Khan Sheikhoun, claiming that the nerve gas used during the attack had been taken from stockpiles belonging to the Syrian government. However, the latter was destroyed as part of a 2013 deal with the US and Russia — a process the OPCW itself signed off on as having been completed that November.

Damascus has constantly denied being in possession of chemical weapons, the destruction of which had been confirmed by the OPCW.

On Russian Media

Russia would like to receive clarifications from the US State Department after accounts of Russian media outlets were blocked on Facebook, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.

“We expect an official reaction to this situation from US authorities … we would very much like to hear official comments from the US State Department,” she told a briefing.

She called on Facebook to specify its issues with Russian media accounts and explain reasons behind its decision to block them.

On Tuesday, Russia’s Federal News Agency (FAN) said that Facebook had blocked its official page without any warning. Also on Tuesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the company blocked more than 270 accounts and pages run by Russia’s Internet Research Agency.

On Russian Vessel Detained in Ukraine

Moscow summoned the Ukrainian temporary charge d’affaires in Russia on Wednesday to protest the detention of a Russian ship and to demand the release of its crew as well as the return of the vessel, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“On April 3, the charge d’affaires ad interim of Ukraine in the Russian Federation was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry where he was handed a protest note in connection with the illegal detention of Russian fishing vessel Nord by the Ukrainian Border Guard Service on March 25 in the Sea of Azov, the transfer of the vessel to the port of Berdyansk and illegal custody of its 10 Russian crew members,” spokeswoman Maria Zakharova noted.

According to Zakharova, Moscow demanded the immediate release of the illegally detained crew and the return of the vessel to its legitimate owner.

On March 26, Ukrainian border guards detained the Russian ship Nord, claiming that its crew had violated the sea border. The Russian Foreign Ministry demands the Ukrainian side to return the captured ship, which is in the Ukrainian port of Berdyansk, and to release the crew.


Russia’s Offer for Joint Probe Into Skripal Case ‘Perverse’ – UK OPCW Delegation

Russia Concerned, Outraged Over US Claims on Attacking Syria — Moscow

Facebook, Instagram Delete Dozens of Russia-Linked Accounts

Russian Navy Disproves Dangerous Manoeuveres between Russian and UK Vessels

April 4, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 1 Comment

Down & out at Porton Down: Embarrassment for the UK’s ‘Rush to Blame Russia’ brigade

By Neil Clark | RT | April 4, 2018

The news that the UK’s own chemical weapons scientists can’t confirm that the nerve agent we’re told was used on the Skripals came from Russia is another blow to the credibility of the UK political and media establishment.

They were oh so sure, weren’t they? Or at least they wanted us to think that. For the past four weeks in Britain, we’ve been subjected to a quite hysterical wave of Russophobia, worse than anything we witnessed even at the height of the old Cold War. The poisoning of former MI6 agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, who were found in a collapsed state on a bench in the cathedral city of Salisbury on Sunday, March 4, led not only to calls for a boycott of the football World Cup in Russia, but for RT to be taken off the air. The UK expelled 23 Russian diplomats, and then pressured other European countries to do the same. While on Good Friday, in another provocative move, British authorities boarded an Aeroflot plane at Heathrow Airport.

The important principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty,’ enshrined in Article 11 (1) of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, was chucked out of the window. In its place we had ‘guilty until proven innocent.’

Instead of waiting until a full and proper investigation could even begin – let alone be concluded – we had a show trial and sentencing, by media, politicians, and members of neocon think tanks.

Anyone who dared to question the official narrative and didn’t support punishing Russia, faced attack from Imperial Truth Enforcers. Former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray, who said that Foreign and Commonwealth Office sources had told him that Porton Down scientists were unable to confirm Russian culpability, was labelled a ‘conspiracy theorist’ for observing: “The same people who assured you Saddam Hussein had WMDs now assure you Russian ‘Novichok’ nerve agents are being wielded by Vladimir Putin to attack people on British soil.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who condemned the attack but called for a thorough investigation, was savaged not just by the Tories, but also his own Parliamentary party, simply for taking a cautious line in Parliament on March 14.

Thirty-six Labour MPs signed an Early Day Motion – sponsored by arch Corbyn-critic John Woodcock – which declared “This House UNEQUIVOCALLY accepts the Russian state’s culpability for the poisoning of Yulia and Sergei Skripal.” The EDM supported the expulsion of Russian diplomats and the calling of a special meeting of the UN Security Council to “discuss Russia’s use of chemical weapons on UK soil.”

Will these MPs now be apologizing to Russia for accusing them of doing something which most definitely has not been proved? Or does supporting a neocon foreign policy mean never having to say you’re sorry?

It’s not just politicians who need to eat some humble pie.

In all my years in journalism, I have never felt so ashamed of my profession as in the last four weeks. The job of the journalist is to ask questions. To find out the truth. To be absolutely fearless in following leads, wherever they may take you. Today in Britain, political journalism means just parroting the official War Party line. It soon became apparent that the government narrative on Salisbury had more holes in it than a slab of Swiss cheese. But we were all expected, like the good little townsfolk in Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘Emperor’s New Clothes,’ not to notice. Newspapers and magazines which should have been holding Theresa May and Boris Johnson to account did nothing of the sort. Suppositions were reported, day after day, as proven fact.

The last four weeks have shown how nothing really changed even after the catastrophe of Iraq. The same pro-war commentators are still in place, robotically churning out their rabidly anti-Russian, anti-Putin diatribes for an ever-dwindling readership.

After the lies told about Iraqi WMDs, you might have thought there would be a bit of ‘mainstream’ skepticism about UK government chemical weapons claims against an ‘Official Enemy’ state, which seem designed to lead us into an even more calamitous war. But no, they all carried on as if the only important thing that had happened in 2003 was Arsenal beating Southampton 1-0 in the FA Cup Final.

Just before the Iraq invasion, I remember asking a Conservative MP at a party if he really believed the guff about Saddam having WMDs. He looked at me and paused, before saying, “Well you’ve got to admit, he’s not a frightfully nice chap.” Today that MP, who clearly didn’t believe the government’s assertions, is the British Foreign Secretary.

Boris Johnson has gone further than any minister down the ‘Russia did it’ line. In an interview with Deutsche Welle on March 20, he said: “they (the scientists at Porton Down) were absolutely categorical and I asked the guy myself, I said, ‘Are you sure?’ And he said there’s no doubt.”

That is flatly contradicted by the statement today of Gary Aitkenhead, the chief executive of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down, who said, “We have not identified the precise source.”

Just as interesting was Aitkenhead’s response to being asked if Novichok could have emanated from Porton Down itself. “There’s no way that anything like that would ever have come from us… we’ve got the highest standards of control and security,” he said.

Yet in his Deutsche Welle interview, Boris Johnson, in answer to the question: “Does Britain possess samples of it?” (i.e. Novichok), replied, “They (Porton Down) do.” How could Porton Down know the substance used was Novichok if they possessed no samples to test it against?

If samples were stored literally just down the road from where the Skripals were poisoned, surely it’s reasonable to ask whether or not some of them did get out? To maintain, as the UK government does, that no other explanation other than Russian guilt is plausible is clearly nonsense. After going out on a limb on this one, (one suspects in order to curry favor with kingmaker Rupert Murdoch, Boris Johnson’s position as foreign secretary is surely now untenable. Jeremy Corbyn needs to be calling for his resignation – and also that of Prime Minister Theresa May – when he next goes to the House of Commons.

But it’s clear that the UK’s problems go a lot deeper than changing the faces at the top. The Salisbury ‘Rush to Blame Russia,’ before any evidence of Kremlin involvement was produced, proves that we need a clear out of the entire political and media establishment and a move to a more democratic, publicly accountable system. We didn’t get that after Iraq, but we really must get it now.

April 4, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | 1 Comment

‘Ordinary chemists’ know about Novichok– chemical weapons expert refutes ‘state actor’ claim

RT | April 4, 2018

A chemical weapon expert slammed claims from the UK that a ‘state actor’ must be behind the Salisbury poisoning.

Porton Down – the UK’s secretive defense laboratory – said an assessment of the nerve agent used on former double agent Sergei Skripal and daughter Yulia showed it must have been state-backed due to its complexity.

However, the mystery of what happened on March 4 grows deeper as Downing Street’s rush to blame Russia unravels. Sanctions – the toughest in 30 years – were slapped on Moscow in the incident’s aftermath. Now, as the investigation widens, it appears there is now credible doubt, despite Theresa May’s and Boris Johnson’s insistence of Russian ‘culpability.’

Scientists from Porton Down were unable to confirm that the nerve agent, identified by the UK as A-234 – also known as Novichok – was Russian-made. In an interview with Sky News, Porton Down’s chief executive, Gary Aitkenhead, said the testing team thought a state actor was “probably” behind the poisoning.

Experts from around the world, including James Tour, a synthetic organic chemist at Rice University in Houston, Texas, have slammed the claim.

The chemical warfare expert said Russia is not the only state with the information to make the substance, backing up claims by ex-British ambassador Craig Murray, who cited his own sources when claiming that more than a dozen states could know how to make Novichok.

Tour told RT: “It would be natural to pin the blame on Russia in that Russia has indeed made these as part of their weapons stockpiles. We are talking about a development that probably took place more than 30 years ago, and with the fall of the Soviet Union, the word has gotten out to many states as to how to make these things.”

Tour also said ordinary chemists know about the deployment of chemical weapons.

He said: “Many states know about this to the point we are just chemists that talk together know about these types of things and I don’t work for a state system and I learned this just by talking with chemists from overseas – not Russian chemists either. There are chemists around the world that know this type of thing that have nothing to do with Russia.”

Moscow convenes an emergency meeting of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague, this week.

A British government spokesperson insisted that the Porton Down assessment was “only part of the intelligence picture, while Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Theresa May, among others, are accused of blaming Russia prematurely.

April 4, 2018 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Russophobia | | 1 Comment

BDS Movement Calls on Netflix to Remove Series ‘Sanitizing’ Israeli Occupation

teleSUR | April 3, 2018

Pro-Palestinian groups including the Boycott, Disinvestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement along with the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) have called on Netflix to discontinue the series ‘Fauda’ (Chaos in Arabic) for “sanitizing and normalizing war crimes” and “promoting and justifying these grave human rights violations.”

Originally produced by a network named, Yes, the series depicts the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and justifies the crimes against humanity by the Israeli intelligence.

Calling the series, “racist propaganda material for the Israeli occupation army,” the BDS movement wrote a letter to Netflix, the United States-based entertainment company to remove the series.

The series produced by the two former Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) officers is scheduled to be broadcast in May, which also marks the 70th anniversary of the 1948 Nakba (catastrophe) of the Palestinian people.

“The two authors [of the series], who are graduates of one of these teams, without any ambiguity have collaborated with the occupation, colonization and the Apartheid regime,” the letter noted, referring to the series’ creators, Lior Raz and Avi Issacharoff’s former service in elite IDF units.

The series has won over 11 awards at the Israeli Academy for Film and Television awards in March, after which it was picked up by Netflix.

Netflix needs to “stop broadcasting and not to produce the third season of the series and remove the previous seasons” as “the series promotes and legitimizes the war crimes committed by death squads disguised as people pretending to be Arabs,” the BDS movement said in a statement.

“Fauda promotes and legitimizes violent acts committed against Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory by Israeli army death squads — the so-called “Mistaravim.” The show’s writers, who were members in these units, have based the series on the war crimes committed by these squads against Palestinians,” PACBI said in a press release.

Adding that if Netflix fails to pay heed to the call of Palestinian social movements, it will face “nonviolent grassroots pressure and possible legal accountability.”

April 4, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

US expects India to engage Pakistan in Kashmir talks

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | April 4, 2018

The Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs in the US State Department Alice Wells is visiting India on April 3-6. This is strictly not a ‘bilateral event’, but Ambassador Wells’ discussions with senior Indian government officials are expected to cover “regional and global issues”, according to the US state department announcement. Presumably, Afghanistan will be on top of the agenda of discussion.

Ambassador Wells has emerged as the Trump administration’s key interlocutor on the Afghan problem. A career diplomat, low-key but very effective in the absence of turf rivalries, she is able to galvanize the search for a political process in Afghanistan in such a short period of time. Ambassador Wells has succeeded in building up a good rapport with the Pakistani officials who are in a position to make or mar her project. During her extraordinarily open-ended visit (for “several days”) to Pakistan last week, Ambassador Wells was received by army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Ambassador Wells’ consultations in Delhi come at a sensitive juncture. For, no matter what the Pentagon commanders might like, President Donald Trump wants the war to end before his campaign for a second term begins and Ambassador Wells’ task is cut out for her. Delhi must understand that this is not a routine visit she is undertaking for an exchange of views with think-tankers and officials on the sidelines of the US-India-Japan trilateral taking place today. In fact, the trilateral is the sideshow.

The Taliban is tiptoeing toward the negotiating table and Ambassador Wells’ persuasiveness and diplomatic skill has made all the difference. (For the uninitiated, let me introduce to them her masterly briefing on March 9 at the US Institute of Peace in Washington – Signs of Hope for Afghan Peace Talks.)

The traffic on the diplomatic track has become dense lately since the meeting in the White House in Washington between Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and the US Vice-President Mike Pence on March 17. The international conference in Tashkent on March 26-27 has served the purpose of generating a modicum of regional consensus. The Russian daily Kommersant reported quoting “sources” that although no formal invitation was extended to the Taliban to participate in the conference, “at the last minute, they expressed a desire to come to Tashkent.”

Be that as it may, Taliban was surely eavesdropping outside the conference hall and would have noticed from the Tashkent Declaration that there is not a single voice in the international community that disapproves of the Afghan government’s unconditional offer of peace talks. Ambassador Wells proceeded to Kabul after the Tashkent conference and then moved on to Islamabad last Thursday.

Interestingly, Pakistan handed over a “terror dossier” to Kabul last Thursday containing evidence of terrorist sanctuaries on Afghan soil. It is a veritable action plan for the Afghan side and their American mentors as to what Pakistan expected them to do by curbing the terrorist activities from bases within Afghanistan. And, four days later, The Pakistani Foreign Secretary Janjua, accompanied by the Director General Military Operations Maj Gen Shamshad Mirza and other senior officials travelled to Kabul for downstream talks. These talks are expected to prepare the ground for the visit by Prime Minister Abbasi’s visit to the Afghan capital on April 6. (Abbasi is proceeding from Kabul to China on a 3-day visit.)

We may expect Abbasi’s visit to Kabul on Friday to be a watershed event. It is entirely conceivable that in a not-too-distant future the Taliban may announce its formal response to the Afghan government offer for peace talks. The coming days and weeks, therefore, are of critical interest.

Meanwhile, the Afghan government announced on Sunday the dates for the long-delayed parliamentary elections and the first-ever local council elections – October 20. Of course, there is a big question mark about the feasibility of holding elections in Afghanistan in the prevailing circumstances with roughly half the country contested by insurgents.

On the other hand, it is the Taliban’s participation in these elections that can make a world of difference, giving them the legitimacy they badly need and providing the country’s democratic process the traction that it never could really acquire in the past decade or more. The US’ allies are extremely keen that the political legitimacy of the Afghan political system is enhanced. The speech made by the European Union foreign and security policy chief Federica Mogherini at the Tashkent conference was particularly notable for being a stirring call to the Taliban to rise to the momentous occasion in their country’s history.

Suffice to say, any Pakistani-Afghan consensus to put a moratorium on cross-border terrorism will be a major development. The US is actively promoting it. So is China. Pakistan can be expected to reciprocate. But we aren’t quite there, yet.

The Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal told Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, the US government-funded media organ, that Islamabad and Washington are yet to find “common ground” on a range of issues. Faisal didn’t specify the problem areas, but it stands to reason that a principal one will be Pakistan’s tense relations with India.

Quite obviously, we should anticipate that the Trump administration hopes to bring India on board. Put differently, the Trump administration’s “regional approach” for Afghanistan demands that India-Pakistan tensions do not complicate the path of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.

Ambassador Wells is likely to meet with the Foreign Secretary and NSA Ajit Doval while in Delhi. Significantly, on the eve of Ambassador Wells’ departure for India on Monday, the US state department amended its designation of Lashkar-e-Taiba, identifying Milli Muslim League and Tehreek-e-Azadi-e-Kashmir as LeT affiliates, making it impossible for them to register as political parties in Pakistan.

Clearly, the Trump administration hopes that Delhi will appreciate this as friendly gesture, underscoring that Washington is receptive towards India’s genuine concerns in regional security. It doesn’t need much ingenuity to figure out that Ambassador Wells would also have taken Pakistani officials into confidence that capping the political ambitions of Hafeez Saeed can be an important confidence-building measure at this point.

Now comes the big question: How does India respond to the totality of the emergent situation surrounding Afghanistan? Sadly, the explosive violence in Jammu & Kashmir just at this juncture will make things very difficult for Delhi to rise to the occasion and optimally align the Indian foreign policies with the broader trends leading toward peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.

On the other hand, the bottom line is that India is a stakeholder. Clearly, a leap of faith is needed. The Modi government would chaff at the very idea of holding talks with Pakistan, facilitated by Washington and under close US monitoring, when the 2019 poll is sailing into view.

But in politics and diplomacy, there may be moments when drinking from the chalice of poison is necessary – to borrow the memorable words of Iran’s Spiritual Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in an analogous situation in his country’s contemporary history when he allowed himself to be persuaded to agree to a ceasefire against the Iraqi aggressor who had bled his country white in the 8-year war (1980-1988.)

Given the complete policy breakdown in Jammu & Kashmir, what is the alternative? And, the crisis in J&K is only deepening; the wounds are threatening to turn gangrene.

April 4, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 3 Comments

Afghanistan admits civilians killed in Kunduz airstrike

Press TV – April 4, 2018

Afghan officials have admitted that an earlier airstrike on a gathering of Taliban militants in the northern province of Kunduz has also killed civilians, including children.

The Afghan military launched the airstrike against a Taliban religious school (madrasa) in Dasht-i Archi district outside Kunduz City on Monday while top Taliban commanders were gathered inside to plan “bloodshed and atrocities,” according to the Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammad Radmanish.

Security forces said the attack killed a total of 57 to 70 people, but local officials believe the number to be higher.

For much of Monday, the Afghan government asserted that the bombing had killed only Taliban leaders and had caused no civilian fatalities.

However, the office of President Ashraf Ghani acknowledged late Tuesday that civilians had been among the dead, too, and that the bombing would be investigated.

Abdul Matin Atefi, the provincial health director of Kunduz, said 26 bodies had arrived in hospitals and clinics, adding that officials “don’t know how many of those are civilians or Taliban, but the Taliban usually do not allow their dead or wounded to be registered in clinics.”

Naeem Mangal, the director of the regional hospital in Kunduz also said they “have received 57 wounded so far, their ages ranging from 7 to 60.” He explained that the wounds were “mostly from explosives or bombs.”

Radmanish, the Defense Ministry spokesman, meanwhile, claimed that “the wounded brought to the hospitals were hit by bullets and small-arms fire,” suggesting that the Taliban had opened fire on civilians. He said the previous day that no civilians had been in the area of the attack.

According to the United Nations figures released earlier this year, more than 10,000 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in the Afghan conflict last year. While the main cause of civilian deaths was said to be militant bombings, the report said US airstrikes as well as government forces inflicted a rising toll.

April 4, 2018 Posted by | Deception, War Crimes | | Leave a comment