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Jerusalem: Israel settlers occupy buildings near Al-Aqsa Mosque

MEMO | October 4, 2018

Israeli settlers have occupied two Palestinian buildings near Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem.

In the early hours of this morning, Israeli settlers stormed a building in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City. According to Wafa, the “settlers moved into the building owned by the Joudeh family, which was used as a clinic” in the Aqbat Darwish area, near Al-Aqsa Mosque.

This was the second building in Jerusalem to be taken over in the past two days. Yesterday settlers occupied a building in the Wadi Hilweh area of Silwan, situated just outside the walls of the Old City and below Al-Aqsa Mosque.

This is not the first time these areas have been targeted by illegal Israeli settlers, with Silwan in particular repeatedly facing attempts to drive Palestinian inhabitants from their homes. The “City of David” national park – a tourist site and archaeological dig run by right-wing settler group City of David Foundation (also known as Elad) – is situated in Batan Al-Hawa in Silwan and is frequently used as justification for such illegal activity.

In July, the Israeli Knesset advanced a new law that would allow residential construction in the “City of David” national park. According to a report by Haaretz, “the minutes of the [Elad] committee’s previous meeting in January made it clear that Elad and its leader, David Beeri, are behind the bill, which is designed to promote construction at the site.”

In August a “heritage centre” was opened in the park, with the inauguration attended by senior Israeli and US figures. A Palestinian resident of Silwan, Yakoub Al-Rajabi, explained that: “We know that this was a well-orchestrated plan to force us to leave […] And if we stay, it will paralyse us and isolate us in our homes”.

Since 2002, 700 Palestinians have been facing eviction from their land in Batan Al-Hawa. Their land was transferred to the Benvenisti Trust when Israel’s Justice Ministry issued title deeds to the organisation for the land in question. The trust is controlled by Ateret Cohanim, a right-wing organisation that encourages Jewish Israelis to settle illegally in Palestinian neighbourhoods of Jerusalem.

In June, Israel admitted that its decision to evict the Palestinians of Batan Al-Hawa was “flawed” and that it had not properly investigated the nature of the trust, or the Ottoman-era law that applies to the case. Despite the admission, a number of families have already been evicted from Batan Al-Hawa or are embroiled in court battles to save their homes.

Other areas of Jerusalem are also targeted for illegal Israeli settlement. According to statistics from the Jerusalem Institute, as of 2015 there were some 211,000 Jewish Israelis living in occupied East Jerusalem, amounting to 40 per cent of all inhabitants in these neighbourhoods. The statistics also demonstrate that the number of Israelis living in illegal Jerusalem settlements has grown consistently since the city was occupied in 1967.

READ ALSO: Israel settlers flood Khan Al-Ahmar with waste water

October 4, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel minister: Merkel should not discuss Khan Al-Ahmar during visit

MEMO | October 4, 2018

Israeli Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev yesterday called on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to take care of her country’s interests and not to mention the demolition of the Palestinian village of Khan Al-Ahmar during her official visit to Israel, news site Arutz Sheva reported.

Regev’s comments came after reports circulated that Merkel threatened to cancel her trip to Israel if the West Bank village of Khan Al-Ahmar was demolished.

“I think that her statement is out of place, and we certainly do not interfere with the decisions of the courts in other countries, and I expect that they will not interfere with the decisions of the Israeli court,” Regev said.

“I propose to the German chancellor that she deal with the internal problems of her own country or deal with the very good cooperation system between Germany and Israel,” the Israeli minister from the Likud said.

She added: “We respect the chancellor and her government, but I expect every leader to take care of the internal affairs of his country only.”

In response to the claims, Israeli MK Bezalel Smotrich also tweeted: “If I was prime minister I would evict the village while Merkel’s aircraft is in the air. So that she will then turn around and go back.”

During her speech at Haifa University Merkel rejected the reports as “fake news”, claiming she did not make such a demand.

October 4, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

Saudis finance Western media to demonize opponents: Expert

Press TV – October 4, 2018

The head of the UK-based Islamic Human Rights Commission says that Saudi Arabia’s increasing efforts to buy shares or directly finance TV and radio channels in Britain is in line with the kingdom’s efforts to demonize any entity which is opposed to its crimes and human rights violations.

“Saudis are organizing themselves and indeed opening and financing TV stations, radio station to broadcast in Farsi as a means of trying to influence their position within the Iranian community,” Massoud Shadjareh said in an interview with the Press TV on Thursday.

He said Riyadh has also tried to demonize groups like Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood as they oppose the kingdom and its policies.

Shadjareh said Saudi Arabia’s investment in Farsi stations in Britain and elsewhere is only the tip of the iceberg and there has been further investment in other outlets as well.

“Saudis for a very long time have been involved in buying shares and influencing main TV stations like CNN, Sky and others,” he said.

The policy has been meant to both silence the media regarding Saudi Arabia’s war crimes and inhumane activities and also to publicize the kingdom’s demonization of Iran and others who it sees as an obstacle to its policies.

Shadjareh said Saudi Arabia is in fact emulating Israel and other suppressive regimes in bribing the media or launching propaganda stations. “And this tactic is the sort of very similar to the tactics that Zionists are using.”

The expert said the media should try to get more information about the increasing Saudi clout on the field, saying that would expose the crimes committed by the kingdom both inside the country and in other parts of the world.

“I think this use of the media, both social media and mainstream media, it is very dangerous and we need to be aware of it and we need to make sure that we expose their (Saudis’) crimes everywhere,” he added.

October 4, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

Iraq officially rejects US claim of Iran role in Basra violence

Press TV – October 4, 2018

Iraq’s Foreign Ministry has dismissed accusations by the United States that Iran is to blame for recent violence — including through alleged militant groups — in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, where Washington recently closed its consulate.

“There are no forces or military groups in Iraq that receive orders from abroad, whether from Iran or from another country,” said Iraq’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmad Mahjoub in Washington on Wednesday, according The Washington Times.

He was speaking during a round-table discussion with reporters held at the Iraqi Embassy in the US capital, where he is on a trip to hold talks with US officials.

Mahjoub said Iraqi authorities were “surprised” by Washington’s recent decision to withdraw American personnel from the US consulate in Basra following an apparent rocket attack at the diplomatic perimeter.

“We were surprised that our American friends withdrew their staff from the US consulate.” He said, adding that Baghdad was “committed to protecting all foreign missions in Basra.”

Earlier, on Friday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had blamed Iran for the violence in Basra and the emergency evacuation of US personnel from there, as well as for alleged security threats to the Americans stationed at the US Embassy in Baghdad.

“The United States will hold Iran directly responsible for any harm to Americans or to our diplomatic facilities in Iraq or elsewhere and whether perpetrated by Iranian forces directly or by associated proxy militias,” he said.

Mahjoub, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry spokesman, implied that Pompeo was getting his information from unreliable sources.

“I’m not aware of the source of the information that Secretary Pompeo has regarding the Iranian role in the threats against the US consulate in Basrah,” he said. “We also regret that the Iranian Consulate was attacked during these demonstrations.”

He was referring to an attack on the Iranian diplomatic mission in the city last month.

Mahjoub said “it’s good” that the Iranian Consulate was now “back to work” in the city.

US official seems to discount Pompeo’s remarks

Meanwhile, US Army Col. Sean Ryan, the spokesman for the US-led military coalition to purportedly battle Daesh in Iraq, seemed to discount Pompeo’s allegation against Iran.

“It (the attack) may have been the work of local protesters, angered over the lack of much-needed government services and rampant corruption among the city’s leaders, rather than an organized paramilitary force,” he told reporters on Tuesday, also according to The Washington Times.

Col. Ryan further said that American forces with the US Central Command, as well as those tied to the coalition, were planning to assist in the evacuation of US personnel from Basra.

Iran has already dismissed any role in the violence in Basra, stressing that it has been a victim of that violence itself.

“Iran was in fact the victim of activities by violent and mercenary groups, which took orders from their enablers hostile to Iran, for the attack on the Iranian Consulate [in Basra],” Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on Monday.

Mahjoub said the Iraqi government had sent in security forces to ensure security in Basra.

October 4, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment

Trump Administration Follows Corporate Media Playbook for War With Iran

By John C. O’Day | FAIR | October 4, 2018

Three years ago, as Americans debated the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran—popularly known as “the Iran deal”—I highlighted a troubling media trend on FAIR.org (8/20/15): “For nearly all commentators, regardless of their position, war is the only alternative to that position.”

In the months since US President Donald Trump tore up the JCPOA agreement, his administration has been trying to make good on corporate media’s collective prediction. Last week, John Bolton (BBC, 9/26/18), Trump’s national security advisor and chief warmonger, told Iran’s leaders and the world that there would be “hell to pay” if they dare to “cross us.”

That Bolton’s bellicose statements do not send shockwaves of pure horror across a debt-strapped and war-weary United States is thanks in large part to incessant priming for war, facilitated by corporate media across the entire political spectrum, with a particular focus on Iran.

Back in 2015, while current “resistance” stalwarts like the Washington Post (4/2/15) and Politico (8/11/15) warned us that war with Iran was the most likely alternative to the JCPOA, conservative standard-bearers such as Fox News (7/14/15) and the Washington Times (8/10/15) foretold that war with Iran was the agreement’s most likely outcome. Three years hence, this dynamic has not changed.

To experience the full menu of US media’s single-mindedness about Iran, one need only buy a subscription to the New York Times. After Trump withdrew from the JCPOA, the Times’ editorial board (5/8/18) wrote that his move would “lay conditions for a possible wider war in the Middle East.” Susan Rice (New York Times, 5/8/18), President Barack Obama’s national security advisor, agreed: “We could face the choice of going to war or acquiescing to a nuclear-armed Iran,” she warned. Cartoonist Patrick Chappatte (New York Times, 5/10/18) was characteristically more direct, penning an image of Trump alongside Bolton, holding a fictitious new agreement featuring the singular, ultimate word: “WAR.”

On the other hand, calling Trump’s turn against JCPOA a “courageous decision,” Times columnist Bret Stephens (5/8/18) explained that the move was meant to force the Iranian government to make a choice: Either accede to US demands or “pursue their nuclear ambitions at the cost of economic ruin and possible war.” (Hardly courageous, when we all know there is no chance that Trump or Stephens would enlist should war materialize.)

Trump’s latest antics at the United Nations have spurred a wave of similar reaction across corporate media. Describing his threat to “totally destroy North Korea” at the UN General Assembly last year as “pointed and sharp,” Fox News anchor Eric Shawn (9/23/18) asked Bill Richardson, an Obama ally and President Bill Clinton’s ambassador to the UN, whether Trump would take the same approach toward Iran. “That aggressive policy we have with Iran is going to continue,” Richardson reassured the audience, “and I don’t think Iran is helping themselves.” In other words, if the United States starts a war with Iran, it’s totally Iran’s fault.

Politico (9/23/18), meanwhile, reported that Trump “is risking a potential war with Iran unless he engages the Islamist-led country using diplomacy.” In other words, if the United States starts a war with Iran, it’s totally Trump’s fault. Rice (New York Times, 9/26/18) reiterated her view that Trump’s rhetoric “presages the prospect of war in the Persian Gulf.” Whoever would be the responsible party is up for debate, but that war is in our future is apparently all but certain.

Politico’s article cited a statement signed by such esteemed US experts on war-making as Madeleine Albright, who presided over Clinton’s inhuman sanctions against Iraq in the ’90s, and Ryan Crocker, former ambassador for presidents George W. Bush and Obama to some of America’s favorite killing fields: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria.  James Clapper, Obama’s National Intelligence Director, who also signed the letter, played an important role in trumping up WMD evidence against Saddam Hussein before the United States invaded Iraq in 2003. When it comes to US aggression, they’re the experts.

Vanity Fair (9/26/18) interviewed John Glaser of the Cato Institute, who called Trump’s strategy “pathetic,” and also warned that it forebodes war. In an effort to “one-up Obama,” Glaser explained, Trump’s plan is “to apply extreme economic pressure and explicit threats of war in order to get Iran to capitulate.” Sound familiar? As Glaser implies, this was exactly Obama’s strategy, only then it wasn’t seen as “pathetic,” but rather reasonable, and the sole means for preventing the war that every US pundit and politician saw around the corner (The Hill, 8/9/15).

When everyone decides that war is the only other possibility, it starts to look like an inevitability. But even when they aren’t overtly stoking war fever against Iran, corporate media prime the militaristic pump in more subtle yet equally disturbing ways.

Benjamin Netanyahu

Netanyahu speaks for the Iranian people on CNN (9/29/18)

First among these is the near-complete erasure of Iranian voices from US airwaves (FAIR.org, 7/24/15). Rather than ask Iranians directly, national outlets like CNN (9/29/18) prefer to invite the prime minister of Israel, serial Iran alarmist and regional pariah Benjamin Netanyahu, to speak for them. During a jovial discussion this weekend over whether regime change and/or economic collapse is Iran’s most likely fate, Netanyahu explained to the audience that, either way, “The ones who will be happiest if that happens are the people of Iran.” No people of Iran were on hand to confirm or deny this assessment.

Bloomberg (9/30/18) similarly wanted to know, “What’s not to like about Trump’s Iran oil sanctions?” Julian Lee gleefully reported that “they are crippling exports from the Islamic Republic, at minimal cost to the US.” One might think the toll sanctions take on innocent Iranians would be something not to like, but Bloomberg merely worried that, notwithstanding the windfall for US refineries, “oil at $100 a barrel would be bad news for drivers everywhere—including those in the US.” [$500,000,000 increase in gas costs, daily, just for Americans]

Another prized tactic is to whitewash Saudi Arabia, Iran’s chief geopolitical rival, whose genocidal destruction of Yemen is made possible by the United States, about which corporate media remain overwhelmingly silent (FAIR.org, 7/23/18). Iran’s involvement in Yemen, which both Trump and the New York Times (9/12/18) describe as “malign behavior,” is a principal justification for US support of Saudi Arabia, including the US-supplied bombs that recently ended the brief lives of over 40 Yemeni schoolchildren. Lockheed Martin’s stock is up 34 percent from Trump’s inauguration day.

Corporate media go beyond a simple coverup of Saudi crimes to evangelize their leadership as the liberal antidote to Iran’s “theocracy.” Who can forget Thomas Friedman’s revolting puff piece for the Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman? Extensively quoting Salman (New York Times, 11/23/17), who refers to Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as “the new Hitler of the Middle East,” Friedman nevertheless remains pessimistic about whether “MBS and his team” can see their stand against Iran through, as “dysfunction and rivalries within the Sunni Arab world generally have prevented forming a unified front.” Oh well, every team needs cheerleaders, and Friedman isn’t just a fair-weather fan.

While Friedman (New York Times, 5/15/18) believes that Trump has drawn “some needed attention to Iran’s bad behavior,” for him pivotal questions remain unanswered, such as “who is going to take over in Tehran if the current Islamic regime collapses?” One immediate fix he proposed was to censure Iran’s metaphorical “occupation” of Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. Isn’t this ironic coming from an unapologetic propagandist for Washington’s decades-long, non-metaphorical occupation of the two countries to the east and west of Iran? (FAIR.org, 12/9/15)

In a surprising break from corporate media convention, USA Today (9/26/18) published a column on US/Iran relations written by an actual Iranian. Reflecting on the CIA-orchestrated coup against Iran’s elected government in 1953, Azadeh Shahshahani, who was born four days after the 1979 revolution there, wrote:

I often wonder what would have happened if that coup had not worked, if [Prime Minister] Mosaddeq had been allowed to govern, if democracy had been allowed to flourish.

“It is time for the US government to stop intervening in Iran and let the Iranian people determine their own destiny,” she beseeched readers.

Shahshahani’s call is supported by some who have rejected corporate media’s war propaganda and have gone to extreme lengths to have their perspectives heard. Anti-war activist and Code Pink  founder Medea Benjamin was recently forcibly removed after she upstaged Brian Hook, leader of Trump’s Iran Action Group, on live TV, calling his press conference “the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen” (Real News, 9/21/18). Benjamin implored the audience: “Let’s talk about Saudi Arabia. Is that who our allies are?”

“How dare you bring up the issue of Yemen,” admonished Benjamin as she was dragged from the room. “It’s the Saudi bombing that is killing most people in Yemen. So let’s get real. No more war! Peace with Iran!” Code Pink is currently petitioning the New York Times and Washington Post to stop propagandizing war.

Sadly, no matter whom you ask in corporate media, be they spokespeople for “Trump’s America” or “the resistance,” peace remains an elusive choice in the US political imagination. And while the public was focused last week on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s perjurious testimony, the Senate finalized a $674 billion “defense” budget. Every single Democrat in the chamber voted in favor of the bill, explicitly naming Iran as persona non grata in the United States’ world-leading arms supply network, which has seen a 25 percent increase in exports since Obama took office in 2009.

The US government’s imperial ambitions are perhaps its only truly bipartisan project—what the New York Times euphemistically refers to as “globalism.” Nowhere was this on fuller display than at the funeral for Republican Sen. John McCain (FAIR.org, 9/11/18), where politicians of all stripes were tripping over themselves to produce the best accolades for a man who infamously sang “bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran” to the tune of a Beach Boys song.

McCain’s bloodlust was nothing new. Nearly a hundred years ago, after the West’s imperial competition culminated in the most destructive war the world had ever seen, the brilliant American sociologist and anti-colonial author WEB Du Bois wrote, “This is not Europe gone mad; this is not aberration nor insanity; this is Europe.”

Iranian leaders have repeatedly said they do not want war with the US (AP, 9/27/18), but US corporate media, despite frequently characterizing Trump as a “mad king” (FAIR.org, 6/13/18), continue to play an instrumental role in rationalizing a future war with Iran. Should such an intentional catastrophe come to pass, we can hardly say that this would be America gone mad; war is not aberration, it is always presented as the next sane choice. This is America.

October 4, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

US Boosting Number of Labs in Areas Close to Russia, China – Russian MoD

Sputnik – 04.10.2018

The Russian Defense Ministry has spoken about the biological threats coming from the US, saying that the latter has at least 30 laboratories under its control all over the world.

The Russian Defense Ministry stated Thursday that Washington was highly likely boosting its military and biological potential under the cover of peace research.

“The United States is consistently increasing its biological potential and control of national collections of pathogenic microorganisms not only in the former Soviet republics. More than 30 US-controlled laboratories with a high level of biological protection are functioning and are being constantly modernized today, which has been confirmed by official UN data,” Maj. Gen. Igor Kirillov said.

He said US bio labs are a constant source of biological threats to Russia and China.

The official stated that the Russian Defense Ministry was aware of the United States researching ways to deliver and unleash biological weapons in breach of international accords, stressing that there were images of munition the United States considered using to deliver chemical and biological agents.

“This is in line with the US concept of ‘contactless warfare’… They [images] show how capsules can be filled with poisonous, radioactive or narcotic substances, and pathogens. Such munitions are not listed among conventional or humane weapons, while any publishing of such data runs against international accords on nonproliferation of biological weapons,” Kirillov said.

He went on saying that research documents were stored at the Lugar Center for Public Health Research in Georgia, and Russia intended to ask the US and former Soviet republic’s authorities what was their purpose.

As Kirillov specified, the Pentagon continues to reconstruct laboratories under its control in Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan.

“The Lugar Center is only a small element of the extensive US military-biological program. Vigorous activity has been launched on the territory of the states adjacent to Russia, where the Pentagon-controlled laboratories also function,” he stated.

US Labs in Georgia

The military official went on to say that the materials at the Lugar Center for Public Health Research in Georgia, released by former Georgian State Security Minister Igor Giorgadze, shed light on the biological situation in Russia’s south, including the spread of the African swine fever (ASF) virus.

“The published materials allow us to take a fresh look at the biological situation in the south of Russia. Referring to slide 7 to examine the situation around the African swine fever in 2007-2018, which spread from Georgia to the territory of the Russian Federation, European countries and China. Strains of the ASF virus identical to the Georgia-2007 strain were found in samples from dead animals in these countries,” Kirillov said.

Kirillov announced that a total of 24 people died in December 2015 during tests in Georgia of an anti-hepatitis C drug produced by Gilead Sciences, a company once chaired by former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and later another 49 people died.

“Now we will consider another urgent problem raised by [former Georgian State Security Minister] Igor Giorgadze. He presented reports on the results of tests on Georgian citizens of a drug that is registered in documents as Sovaldi by American company Gilead Sciences,” Kirillov said.

He said one of the company’s main shareholders is former US Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld.

“Note… From the documents shown, it is clear that the tests ended in mass deaths among patients. At the same time, despite the death of 24 people in December 2015 alone, clinical studies were continued in violation of international standards and contrary to the wishes of patients. This led to the deaths of another 49 people,” Kirillov said.

He also said the fact that the Gilead Sciences drug, Sovaldi, caused no deaths in Russia, suggests that a toxic chemical was tested on Georgian citizens under the guise of medical treatment.

“An analysis of the materials provided by [former Georgian State Security Minister] Igor Giorgadze is a matter of concern for the Russian Defense Ministry as it gives evidence that the United States is highly likely continuing to increase its military-biological potential, carrying out its activities in circumvention of international agreements, under the guise of implementing protective or other peaceful research,” Maj. Gen. Igor Kirillov, the commander of the Russian Armed Forces’ Radiological, Chemical and Biological Defense Troops, said.

US Air Force’s attempt to harvest biomaterials of Russian citizens residing in North Caucasus two years ago looks suspicious, Kirillov noted.

“The threat to Russia’s security is the collection and export of the biological materials of Russian citizens with the undeclared goals. In accordance with the data of the US federal contract system, an attempt was made to collect the synovial tissues of Russians in 2016 on the order of the Air Force,” Kirillov underlined.

US Military Biologists Can Bypass Georgian Law

The military official stated that US military biologists working in Georgia are protected by diplomatic immunity, which enables them to carry out US government tasks while bypassing Georgian laws.

“US military biologists, working in the [Richard Lugar] Center [in Georgia] are protected by diplomatic immunity… The diplomatic immunity allows the US armed forces’ officials to carry out tasks assigned by their government bypassing Georgian laws,” Kirillov said.

He added that Georgian experts working in the Richard Lugar Center for Public Health Research in Georgia did not have access to certain parts of the laboratory as well as to its documents.

Lugar Center for Public Health Research

In September, former Georgian State Security Minister Igor Giorgadze claimed that he had reports of deaths that could be the result of vaccine tests in a US-funded laboratory in the country known as the Richard G. Lugar Center for Public Health Research. According to the ex-minister, the laboratory could be running experiments related to Hepatitis Type C.

Moscow, addressing the statement, has requested information about the facility from Washington, but Department of Defense spokesman Eric Pahon stressed that the center has nothing to do with biological weapons.

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

More Cold War extremism and crises

By Stephen F. Cohen | The Nation | October 4, 2018

Overshadowed by the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, US-Russian relations grow ever more perilous.

Emphasizing growing Cold War extremism in Washington and war-like crises in US-Russian relations elsewhere, Cohen comments on the following examples:

Russiagate, even though none of its core allegations have been proven, is now a central part of the new Cold War, severely limiting President Trump’s ability to conduct crisis-negotiations with Moscow and further vilifying Russian President Putin for having ordered “an attack on America” during the 2016 presidential election. The New York Times and The Washington Post have been leading promoters of the Russiagate narrative even though several of its foundational elements have been seriously challenged, even discredited.

Nonetheless, both papers recently devoted thousands of words to retelling the same narrative, on September 20 and 23 respectively, along with its obvious fallacies. For example, Paul Manafort, during the crucial time he was advising then Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, was not “pro-Russian” but pro-European Union. And contrary to insinuations, General Michael Flynn did nothing wrong or unprecedented in having conversations with a representative of the Kremlin on behalf of President-elect Trump. Many other presidents-elect had instructed top aides to do the same. The epic retellings of the Russiagate narrative by both papers, at extraordinary length, were riddled with similar mistakes and unproven allegations. (Nonetheless, a prominent historian, albeit one seemingly little informed both about Russiagate documents and about Kremlin leadership, characterized the widely discredited anti-Trump Steele dossier—the source of many such allegations—as “increasingly plausible.”)

Astonishingly, neither the Times nor the Post give any credence to the emphatic statement made at least one week before by Bob Woodward—normally considered the most authoritative chronicler of Washington’s political secrets—that after two years of research he had found “no evidence of collusion” between Trump and Russia.

For the Times and Post and other mainstream media outlets, Russiagate has become, it seems, a kind of cult journalism that no counter-evidence or analysis can dint and thus itself is a major contributing factor to the new and more dangerous Cold War. Still worse, what began nearly two years ago as complaints about Russian “meddling” in the US presidential campaign has become for the New Yorker and other publications an accusation that the Kremlin actually put Trump in the White House. For this reckless charge, with its inherent contempt for the good sense of American voters, there is no convincing evidence—nor any precedent in American history.

Meanwhile, current and former US officials are making nearly unprecedented threats against Moscow. NATO ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchinson threatened to “take out” any Russian missiles she thought violated a 1987 arms treaty, a step that would risk nuclear war. The Secretary of the Interior threatened a “naval blockade” of Russia. In a perhaps unprecedented, undiplomatic Russophobic outburst, UN ambassador Nikki Haley declared that “lying, cheating and rogue behavior” are a “norm of Russian culture.”

These may be outlandish statements by untutored appointed political figures, though they inescapably raise the question: who is making Russia policy in Washington—President Trump with his avowed policy of “cooperating with Russia,” or someone else?

But how to explain, other than as unbridled extremism, statements by a former US ambassador to Moscow and longtime professor of Russian politics, who appears to be the mainstream media’s leading authority on Russia? According to him, Russia today is “a rogue state,” its policies “criminal actions,” and the “world’s worst threat.” It must be countered by “preemptive sanctions that would GO into effect automatically”—indeed, “every day,” if deemed necessary. Considering the “crippling” sanctions now being prepared by a bipartisan group of US senators—their actual reason and purpose apparently unknown even to them—this would be nothing less than a declaration of war against Russia: economic war, but war nonetheless.

Several other new Cold War fronts are also fraught with hot war, but today none more than Syria. Another reminder occurred on September 17, when Syrian war planes accidentally shot down an allied Russian surveillance plane, killing all fifteen crew members. The cause, it was generally agreed, was subterfuge by Israeli warplanes in the area. The reaction in Moscow was highly indicative—potentially ominous.

At first, Putin, who had developed good relations with Israel’s political leadership, said the incident was an accident, an example of the fog of war. His own Ministry of Defense, however, loudly protested, blaming Israel. Putin quickly retreated, adopting a much more hardline position, and in the end vowed to send to Syria Russia’s highly effective S-300 surface-to-air defense system, a prize both Syria and Iran have requested in vain for years.

Clearly, Putin is not the ever “aggressive Kremlin Kremlin autocrat” so often portrayed in US mainstream media. A moderate by nature (in the Russian context), he governs by balancing powerful conflicting groups and interests. In this case, he was countered by longstanding hardliners (“hawks”) in the security establishment.

Second, if the S-300s are installed in Syria (they will be operated by Russians, not Syrians), Putin can in effect impose a “no-fly zone” over that country, which has been torn by war due, in no small part, to the presence of several major foreign powers. (Russia and Iran are there legally, the United States and Israel are not.) If so, it will be a new “red line” that Washington and Tel Aviv must decide whether or not to cross. Considering the mania in Washington, it’s hard to be confident that wisdom will prevail.

All of this unfolded on approximately the third anniversary of Russia’s military intervention in Syria, in September 2015. At that time, Washington pundits denounced Putin’s “adventure” and were sure it would “fail.” Three years later, “Putin’s Kremlin” has destroyed the vicious Islamic State’s grip on large parts of Syria, all but restored President Assad’s control over most of the country, and has become the ultimate arbiter of Syria’s future. President Trump would do best by joining Moscow’s peace process, though it is unlikely Washington’s mostly Democratic Russiagate party will permit him to do so. (For perspective, recall that, in 2016, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton promised to impose a US no-fly zone over Syria to defy Russia.)

There is also this. As the US-led “liberal world order” disintegrates, not only in Syria, a new alliance is emerging between Russia, China, Iran, and possibly NATO member Turkey. It will be a real “threat” only if Washington makes it one, as it has Russia in recent years.

Finally, the US-Russian proxy war in Ukraine has recently acquired a new dimension. In addition to the civil war in Donbass, Moscow and Kiev have begun to challenge each other’s ships in the Sea of Azov, near the vital Ukrainian port city of Mariupol. Trump is being pressured to supply Kiev with naval and other weapons to wage this evolving war, yet another potential tripwire. Here too the president would do best by putting his administration’s weight behind the long-stalled Minsk peace accords. Here too, this seemed to be his original intention, but it has proven to be yet another approach, it now seems, thwarted by Russiagate.

Stephen F. Cohen is a professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at New York University and Princeton University and a contributing editor of The Nation.

October 4, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Russophobia | , | 2 Comments

US Openly Threatens Russia with War: Goodbye Diplomacy, Hello Stone Age

By Peter KORZUN | Strategic Culture Foundation | 04.10.2018

US Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison is a highly placed diplomat. Her words, whatever they may be, are official, which includes the ultimatums and threats that have become the language increasingly used by US diplomats to implement the policy of forceful persuasion or coercive diplomacy. Bellicose declarations are being used this way as a tool.

On Oct. 2, the ambassador proved it again. According to her statement, Washington is ready to use force against Russia. Actually, she presented an ultimatum — Moscow must stop the development of a missile that the US believes to be in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty). If not, the American military will destroy it before the weapon becomes operational. “At that point, we would be looking at the capability to take out a (Russian) missile that could hit any of our countries,” Hutchison stated at a news conference. “Counter measures (by the United States) would be to take out the missiles that are in development by Russia in violation of the treaty,” she added. “They are on notice.” This is nothing other than a direct warning of a preemptive strike.

It is true that compliance with the INF Treaty is a controversial issue. Moscow has many times claimed that Washington was in violation, and that position has been substantiated. For instance, the Aegis Ashore system, which has been installed in Romania and is to be deployed in Poland, uses the Mk-41 launcher that is capable of firing intermediate-range Tomahawk missiles. This is a flagrant breach of the INF Treaty. The fact is undeniable. The US accuses Moscow of possessing and testing a ground-launched cruise missile with a range capability of 500 km to 5,500 km (310-3,417 miles), but there has never been any proof to support this claim. Russia has consistently denied the charges. It says the missile in question — the 9M729 — is in compliance with the provisions of the treaty and has never been upgraded or tested for the prohibited range.

This is a reasonable assertion. After all, there is no way to prevent such tests from being detected and monitored by satellites. The US could raise the issue with the Special Verification Commission (SVC). Instead it threatens to start a war.

This is momentous, because the ambassador’s words were not a botched statement or an offhand comment, but in fact followed another “warning” made by a US official recently.

Speaking on Sept. 28 at an industry event in Pennsylvania hosted by the Consumer Energy Alliance, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke suggested that the US Navy could be used to impose a blockade to restrict Russia’s energy trade. “The United States has that ability, with our Navy, to make sure the sea lanes are open, and, if necessary, to blockade… to make sure that their energy does not go to market,” he said, revealing that this was an option. The Interior Department has nothing to do with foreign policy, but Mr. Zinke is a high-ranking member of the administration.

Two bellicose statements made one after another and both are just short of a declaration of war! A blockade is a hostile act that would be countered with force, and the US is well aware of this. It is also well aware that Russia will defend itself. It’s important to note that no comments or explanations have come from the White House. This confirms the fact that what the officials have said reflects the administration’s position.

This brings to mind the fact that the Interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act has passed the House of Representatives. The legislation includes the authority to inspect Chinese, Iranian, Syrian, and Russian ports. Among the latter are the ports of Nakhodka, Vanino, and Vladivostok. This is an openly hostile act and a blatant violation of international law. If the bill becomes law, it will likely  start a war with the US acting as the aggressor.

Trident Juncture, the largest training event held by NATO since 2002, kicks off on October 25 and will last until November 7, 2018. It will take place in close proximity to Russia’s borders. Russia’s Vostok-2018 exercise in September was the biggest seen there since the Cold War, but it was held in the Far East, far from NATO’s area of responsibility. It’s NATO, not Russia, who is escalating the already tense situation in Europe by holding such a large-scale exercise adjacent to Russia’s borders.

Russia is not the only country to be threatened with war. Attempts are being made to intimidate China as well. Tensions are running high in the South China Sea, where US and Chinese ships had an “unsafe” interaction with each other on Sept. 30. A collision was barely avoided. As a result, US Defense Secretary James Mattis had to suspend his visit to China when it was called off by Beijing [*]. The security dialog between the two nations has stalled.

Perhaps the only thing left to do is to give up on having a normal relationship with the United States. Ambassador Hutchison’s statement is sending a clear message of: “forget about diplomacy, we’re back to the Stone Age,” with Washington leading the way. This is the new reality, so get used to it. Just shrug it off and try to live without the US, but be vigilant and ready to repel an attack that is very likely on the way.

It should be noted that Moscow has never threatened the US with military action. It has never deployed military forces in proximity to America’s shores. It did not start all those unending sanctions and trade wars. When exposing the US violations of international agreements, it has never claimed that the use of force was an option. It has tried hard to revive the dialog on arms control and to coordinate operations in Syria. But it has also had to issue warnings about consequences, in case it were provoked to respond to a hostile act. If the worst happens, we’ll all know who is to blame. Washington bears the responsibility for pushing the world to the brink of war.


* China says Washington canceled military talks, not Beijing

Press TV – October 4, 2018

China has rejected an allegation by the United States that Beijing has canceled security talks with Washington planned for this month, saying that US officials have “distorted the facts.”

An unnamed US official had told Reuters on Sunday that China had canceled the security meeting between American Secretary of Defense James Mattis and his Chinese counterpart, alleging that China had been unable to make its defense secretary available for the scheduled talks.

On Wednesday, Beijing effectively said that that assertion was a lie. … continue

October 4, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , , | 5 Comments

Russian Embassy in London: UK Claims About Russian Hack Attacks – Disinformation

Sputnik – 04.10.2018

UK authorities earlier claimed “with high confidence” that the Russian military intelligence service, GRU, was “almost certainly” responsible for a series of cyber attacks on political institutions, media, and infrastructure in various countries, including the United Kingdom, vowing to respond.

“This statement is irresponsible. As usual, it is not supported by any evidence and is just another element of the anti-Russian campaign conducted by the British government,” the spokesman for the Russian Embassy in the UK told Sputnik.

According to the embassy, the statement was intentionally published during the NATO summit in Brussels, as many countries in the bloc have announced plans to establish cybersecurity forces.

He also mentioned that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had offered to provide expert consultations for the UK back in 2017, during a visit of then Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to Moscow. London, however, did not respond to the offer, as it had “nothing to say on the subject,” the diplomat concluded.

October 4, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

NATO Supports UK, Dutch Cyberattack Accusations Against Russia – Stoltenberg

Sputnik – 04.10.2018

NATO stands in solidarity with London and Amsterdam in their accusations against Russia of conducting cyberattacks and urges Moscow to change its behavior, the alliance’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, stated.

“NATO Allies stand in solidarity with the decision by the Dutch and British governments to call out Russia on its blatant attempts to undermine international law and institutions. Russia must stop its reckless pattern of behavior, including the use of force against its neighbors, attempted interference in election processes, and widespread disinformation campaigns,” Stoltenberg said in a statement.

In response, NATO will continue to strengthen its defense against hybrid threats and cyber attacks, he stressed.

“Today, Defence Ministers discussed the progress we are making in setting up a new Cyber Operations Centre, integrating national cyber capabilities into our missions and operations, and bolstering our cyber resilience,” the secretary general concluded.

Earlier in the day, the UK Foreign Office accused Russian foreign intelligence service GRU of cyber attacks on political institutions, enterprises, media and sports, saying the GRU was “almost certainly” involved in the theft of confidential medical documents of several athletes published in August 2017 by WADA.

Also on Thursday, Dutch Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld said that four Russian citizens had been expelled from the Netherlands on April 13 on the suspicion of an attempted cyber attack on the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), noting that the suspects had diplomatic passports.

A NATO defense ministers’ meeting is being held in Brussels on October 3-4.

Western officials put forward accusations against “Russian hackers” on a regular basis. Russia has repeatedly refuted allegations of interfering in other countries’ internal affairs and elections.

October 4, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Canada joins international chorus accusing Russia of ‘malicious cyber attacks’

RT | October 4, 2018

The Canadian government has joined its allies to accuse Russia of being behind a slew of recent “malicious” cyber attacks, including on the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The move from Canada comes as the US introduces new charges against a number of alleged Russian intelligence officers which it accuses of hacking the anti-doping agency.

A statement issued on Thursday by Global Affairs Canada said that “a series of malicious cyber-operations by the Russian military” had been exposed, including an alleged attempted hack on the organization responsible for investigating the Salisbury poisoning of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in March — an attack which the Russian government has denied involvement in and which British authorities have not been able to conclusively blame Moscow for.

The Global Affairs statement said the acts “form part of a broader pattern of activities by the Russian government” which lies “outside the bounds of appropriate behavior” and demonstrate “a disregard for international law and undermine the rules-based international order”. Canada called on countries that value “international order” to “come together in its defence.”

“Some of these acts have a connection with Canada,” the statement added, suggesting that Canada was also a target for alleged Russian cyber attacks and citing a 2016 attack on the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport whose systems were compromised with malware which enabled unauthorized access to the organization’s network. “The Government of Canada assesses with high confidence that the GRU was responsible for this compromise,” the Canadian statement said.

Earlier on Thursday, the Netherlands said it had expelled four Russian intelligence officers in April who they alleged had targeted the Hague-based OPCW.

Dutch Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld said the operation was disrupted on April 13 and the four men in question had later been expelled from the country. Russia has denied any involvement in hacking and has called the recent allegations ‘spy mania’.

October 4, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

Best Government Money Can Buy

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 04.10.2018

Very few Americans know who Sheldon Adelson is and fewer still appreciate that, as America’s leading political donor, when he speaks the Republican Party listens. By virtue of his largesse, he has been able to direct GOP policy in the Middle East in favor of Israel, which might well be regarded as his true home while the United States exists more as a faithful friend that can be produced at intervals whenever Israel finds itself in need of a bit of cash or political cover.

Adelson’s recent successes in translating his political donations into policy favorable to Israel have included shifting the US Embassy to Jerusalem, cutting aid to Palestinians, ending the Iranian nuclear monitoring agreement and closing the Palestine Liberation Organization’s diplomatic office in Washington. All those Trump Administration measures were reportedly worked out privately by Adelson speaking directly with the president.

Adelson’s activities in buying politicians reflect what he believes, he reportedly having said that “there’s no such thing as a Palestinian.” Nor does his world view include much concern for the country that has sheltered him and made him wealthy. He served in the US Army in World War 2 and has said that he regrets having done so, as he would rather have worn an Israeli army uniform. He also expressed his desire that his son might become an Israeli Army sniper.

Adelson benefits from his exceptional access to the White House to the detriment of actual American interests. A New York Times article “Sheldon Adelson Sees a Lot to Like in Trump’s Washington,” states that he “enjoys a direct line to the president” and meets the president monthly “in private in-person meetings and phone conversations.” He has been delighted with the openly expressed threats emanating from the Administration’s key foreign and national security policy spokesmen regarding Iran. He would like to see the United States go to war with the Iranians to destroy their government and bring about some kind of regime change, and, judging from recent developments, he just might get what he seeks, which could easily have catastrophic consequences for the entire region and beyond.

Adelson is somewhat unhinged on the issue of Iran and has even called for dropping a nuclear bomb on a desert region of the country as a negotiating tactic to show “we mean business” so Washington could then “impose its demands [on Iran] from a position of strength.” If Iran continued to resist, Adelson would to drop the next one on Tehran. If Tehran were to be nuked millions of Iranians would die, which doesn’t bother Adelson one bit. Such a development would, in Adelson’s opinion, be good for Israel, which is his primary concern.

Adelson’s power over policy makers is also evident in what the White House does not do. Israeli snipers have shot dead at least 143 unarmed Arab demonstrators in Gaza without so much as a word of condemnation coming out of Washington. Indeed, the Donald Trump Ambassador to Israel David Friedman has gone out of his way to defend the killings and also to support the expansion of the illegal Israeli settlements on the West Bank.

Adelson is also widely believed to have had a hand in personnel changes in the White House. He has used his money and influence to advance the careers of United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, National Security Advisor John Bolton, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo while also arranging the removal of H.R. McMaster and Rex Tillerson for “being anti-Israeli” and not sufficiently willing to go to war with Iran. Defense Secretary James Mattis, the only actual adult remaining in the room when foreign policy is discussed, is believed to be the next target for removal.

How does Adelson do it? Money talks. He is worth an estimated $35 billion. His fortune came from casinos both in the US and in China, which some might consider to be promotion of vice. To buy and maintain the Republican support for right wing Zionist policies he has donated what is for him pocket change, $55 million so far this year in support of GOP candidates in the Midterm elections. In 2016, he gave large sums to the Trump campaign and to other Republicans, donating $35 million to the former and $55 million to two top Republican PACs — the Congressional Leadership Fund and the Senate Leadership Fund.

In America’s corrupt political culture, a monster like Sheldon Adelson can buy both a White House and Congress on behalf of a foreign government for a paltry $150 million or so. It is a reasonable investment for him given his views, as through him Israel is able to control a large slice of American foreign policy while also receiving billions of dollars each year from the US Treasury. And for those who think it would be different if the Democrats were in charge, think again. The Democrats have their own Adelson. His name is Haim Saban, an Israeli-American media magnate who has said he is a “one issue guy and my issue is Israel.” He is also the largest individual contributor to the Democratic Party.

Photo: Flickr

October 4, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 4 Comments