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Israeli company wins contract to monitor Europe’s coasts

MEMO | November 1, 2018

The Israeli defence contractor Elbit Systems Ltd has won a contract worth up to $68 million to monitor much of Europe’s coastline.

Elbit Systems, an Israeli tech firm which specialises in defence, security and commercial systems, said today that the framework contract consists of the provision of maritime unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) in order to help monitor extensive coastlines and vast areas of sea to identify any potential hazards and suspicious activities.

In cooperation with CEiiA, the Centre of Engineering and product development in Portugal, Elbit will lease and operate its unmanned long-range surveillance system, the Hermes 900 Maritime Patrol system, as well as its ground control station. The contract is for a two-year period with the option of renewal for an additional two years.

“Having been selected by the European Union authorities is yet another vote of confidence in the Hermes 900 by following additional contract awards for this UAS in Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America and Israel,” said Elad Aharonson, the general manager of Elbit Systems’ ISTAR Division.

In recent months, numerous Israeli companies and contractors have been winning contracts in various industries worldwide, ranging from defence to surveillance and technological advancement. In October, Israeli companies signed purchase agreements with the United Nations for the provision of water and security service to UN forces in Africa. Israel also won a $777 million contract for the supply of India’s missile defences, as well as being revealed as a lead exporter of tools for spying on civilians being used by dictatorships or authoritarian governments around the world.

Such deals and multi-million dollar contracts over a variety of regions are seen as not only a benefit to the Israeli economy but also the reliability of its services and the subsequent potential increase of its international credibility.

Read:

Israel has become a leading exporter of tools for spying on civilians

 

November 1, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

Israel expert calls for assassination of Islamic Jihad leader

MEMO | November 1, 2018

Israel should resume its policy of targeted assassinations, aiming first at Secretary General of Islamic Jihad, Ziyad Al-Nakhaleh, Israeli journalist Yoni Ben Menachem said in an article this week

Al-Nakahleh, who is based in Beirut, was elected as a secretary-general of the movement last September. Ben Menachem sees Al-Nakhaleh’s ties with Iran and Hezbollah as a threat to Israel. His assassination, Al-Nakhaleh said, is a step towards “stopping Iranian influence in the region and stopping the Iranian plan to turn the Gaza Strip into an effective front against Israel”.

Mossad can reach Al-Nakhaleh in Beirut, the journalist added, in a similar way to how it targeted Imad Mughniyeh, a Hezbollah leader, in Syria ten years ago.

Linking Al-Nakhaleh to the Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Qasem Soleimani, Ben Menachem said this allows Iran to spread its influence in the besieged Gaza Strip.

The failure of Mossad to return to the policy of targeted assassination will allow Gaza’s political leaders to believe they have “immunity”.

November 1, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , | 2 Comments

Father and son activists in Dheisheh camp, seized by occupation forces

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network – November 1, 2018

Nidal Abu Aker, a longtime community leader and a journalist in Dheisheh refugee camp, and his son Mohammed Abu Aker, a university student, were seized by Israeli occupation forces who invaded the camp in the early morning hours of Thursday, 1 November. Both are prominent advocates for Palestinian rights and former prisoners who have been repeatedly jailed for their commitment to Palestinian liberation.

Israeli occupation forces invaded the home, pushing, shoving and hitting Abu Aker as he resisted the armed soldiers forcing their way inside the family’s house.

They manhandled Mohammed as they pulled him and his father from their home, raising their weapons in a threat to the Palestinian refugees in nearby apartments.

The Abu Aker family are refugees from Ras Abu Ammar in Palestine ’48; their family has lived in Dheisheh refugee camp since the Nakba. Nidal, 50, is married to Manal Shaheen and the father of three children, Mohammed, Dalia and Karmel. A prominent leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, he is also the host of a program about Palestinian prisoners called “In their cells” on Sawt al-Wihda radio station and a co-founder of the Families of Prisoners Association in the camp.

He has spent 17 years in Israeli prisons, through multiple arrests and under 11 years of administrative detention without charge or trial. In 2015, he engaged in a 40-day hunger strike with five more administrative detainees to demand an end to imprisonment without charge or trial. He was arrested for the first time in 1984, and his mother says that he has spent nearly half of his life in Israeli prisons. He was released from his latest stint in administrative detention without charge or trial in July 2018, after two years of imprisonment.

Mohammed, 25, was released in late 2017 after spending two years and two months in Israeli prison on an array of political charges, including support for and membership in a prohibited organization. All major Palestinian political parties are labeled illegal by the Israeli occupation, and people often face this charge for participating in student, labor or youth organizing, as did Mohammed. A student at Bethlehem University, he is known for his role in organizing the Palestinian student movement on campus.

Dheisheh refugee camp has been a site of intense repression and frequent violent raids by Israeli occupation forces. Youth in the camp have been threatened by Israeli military commanders with phone calls and text messages. Raed al-Salhi, an unarmed Palestinian youth was shot dead by occupation forces in an “arrest raid,” shortly after one occupation soldier had threatened to “shoot [Raed] in front of your mother.”

November 1, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Leave a comment

A Humanitarian Crisis in Venezuela? A Case Study into NGO Mercy Corps

By Nina Cross | Venezuelanalysis | October 31, 2018

Following a sharp increase in Venezuelan migration since 2015, the corporate mainstream media, alongside the governments of the US, EU and Colombia, is aggressively pushing the narrative of a “humanitarian crisis,” at the same time that Western NGOs flock to set up shop along the Colombian border.

But what if NGOs are being used to influence how the movement of people from Venezuela into Colombia is being shaped and reported, and what’s more, if they are directly benefiting from this situation? To explore the idea, we focus on one such NGO, US-based Mercy Corps, which recently announced an expansion of its operations on the Colombo-Venezuelan border.

Mercy Corps’s budget for global operations, of the order of US $500 million (according to its 2017 annual report), includes funding from US and EU government agencies. Its financiers have included the UK’s International Department of Development, which has regularly sent aid via Mercy Corps to rebel-held areas in Syria. Other funders include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Clinton Foundation.

In March 2018, Mercy Corps carried out a “rapid needs assessment” (RNA) of Venezuelan migrants arriving at two main points along the Colombian border. The information gathered was used to “demonstrate” the dangers involved during and after crossings from Venezuela, and the reasons for leaving the country. It is in response to this second question that the people interviewed by Mercy Corps all say the same thing: they are migrating due to an economic crisis in Venezuela, which is linked to hyperinflation.

Independent UN experts, as well as other commentators, have shown on many occasions that the causes of this economic crisis have been significantly exacerbated by the economic sanctions imposed for years upon Venezuela by the US, as well as clarifying that the crisis in Venezuela is economic, not humanitarian. Even US State Secretary Mike Pompeo recently admitted that the sanctions “sometimes have an adverse impact on the people of Venezuela.”

However, Mercy Corps is not concerned with narratives that expose US and EU complicity, and as such, its recommendations fail to include the most obvious point: end the sanctions and stop the hostility towards Venezuela as they are inflicting hardship on its population.

Instead, Mercy Corps’ RNA identified 3 basic needs to be met by the Colombian government: a path to legal entry into Colombia that did not involve passports, the legal right to work in Colombia with the same wages and protections as Colombians and access to shelter, food and water. It is on this third point which Mercy Corps looks to fish for substantial (tax-free) donations and financing from the Global North.

In April, the Colombian government agreed that migrants could register, without passports, at any of the 500-plus checkpoints it would set up along the border over a two month period, to end in June. The reason given was to see how many Venezuelans were entering Colombia. The checkpoints were spread along the 1,500 mile border. Any information supplied by migrants at the checkpoints would be retained by NGOs, not passed to government departments.

By August, the Colombian government agreed that nearly half a million Venezuelans could remain in Colombia for up to two years, look for employment and have access to basic services. The reason given for this change was to accommodate humanitarian needs.

This shift in policy was a reversal of the government’s ruling in February, when up to 3,000 Colombian soldiers were stationed along the border to check for passports. This tightening of rules was referred to as a “diplomatic closure” and the government claimed in a short time the number of migrants fell by 30%.

Yet within a few weeks Bogota U-turned its policy to allow the unhindered movement of Venezuelans, and NGOs such as Mercy Corps were conscripted to enable the process. The new policy of the Colombian government met exactly the needs identified by Mercy Corps, suggesting that the campaign for this migration was an international, organised effort.

In October of this year, Mercy Corps announced they are expanding their services on the border, including providing migrants with a debit card to purchase products. Yet, one out of every three Venezuelans attended by Mercy Corps did not see any improvements to their diet in the two weeks since arriving to Colombia, and 12 percent reported that it had worsened.

Since the Colombian government changed its policy, the number of people leaving Venezuela has increased, according to the Migration Policy Institute, an organisation affiliated to the EU.

As the exodus expands, the humanitarian needs of migrants grow more urgent.

Humanitarian crisis? Mercy Corps as a propaganda tool

The situation of Venezuelan migrants is now being called a “regional humanitarian crisis,” creating a picture of unimaginable catastrophe that needs external intervention.

This escalating crisis narrative of an expanding exodus is placing Venezuela under intense scrutiny. While punishing Venezuela with sanctions from the front, and promoting a migration crisis from behind, the EU and US, with the cooperation of Colombia, are attempting to box Venezuela into a more isolated and vulnerable position.

Colombia has enjoyed close ties with the EU, and soon after changing its policy on Venezuelan passports, it became a NATO partner, further cementing its EU and US dealings. This ballistic development means that the consequences of border conflict, fuelled by a recent movement of 5,000 extra troops to the Catatumbo border region, should be taken very seriously.

Meanwhile, Mercy Corps has consistently driven a narrative of a full-blown humanitarian crisis and rampant violence under President Maduro, including unfounded allegations of repression and torture. For instance, the NGO has made the unsubstantiated, hyperbolic claim on their website that “newborns in Syria have a better chance of survival than those born in Venezuela today,” wich clearly looks to stoke the fire.

Harnessing its “independent charity voice,” Mercy Corps is playing its part as a propaganda tool in vilifying the Venezuelan government, enabling its US and EU funders to continue their sanctions, which only worsen the economic hardship of average Venezuelans, the root cause for leaving their country, as explained in Mercy Corps’ own needs assessment. And whilst all this goes on, Mercy Corps gleefully rakes in ever greater funding so as to “attend” to the “humanitarian crisis” they, together with the mainstream media, have played a key role in manufacturing.

Political interference and profit from Mercy Corps

However, beyond playing a role in the international media war, Mercy Corps is intimately linked to the Washington policy-making establishment that has formulated the US policy of illegal, unilateral sanctions.

Mercy Corps is connected to the influential US Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) through its CEO Neal Keny-Guyer, who declared earnings of $460,000 just for his Mercy Corps role in 2017. Apart from being a member of the CFR, he also serves as chairman for Interaction, the US’ largest alliance of NGOs and sitting on the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Fragility, Violence and Conflict. The CFR, a virtual who’s who of America’s wealthiest and most powerful people, claims it “helps policymakers” on “international peace and stability,” whilst actually pushing Washington’s neoliberal agenda and interests around the world.

The president of the CFR is Richard Haass, Middle East advisor under George Bush, and advisor to Colin Powell under George W. Bush. On his 2016 election win, Donald Trump publicly considered Haass as an advisor.

The CFR president recently displayed his frustration that US-backed military coups and UN- sanctioned military intervention in Venezuela, all of which would create a further migratory exodus, were taken off the table, despite ongoing rumours from the White House, Bogota, and even Brasilia, that they may be be possible.

In February the CFR made a Preventive Action Plan which recommended more economic sanctions for Venezuela, and in May more US sanctions were imposed.

Whilst sanctions have helped create the conditions which drive people out of Venezuela, US government aid has flowed to NGOs in Colombia, to which Mercy Corps has taken its chunk.

Mercy Corps’ 2017 financial statement shows that the organization benefited from US $464,452,000 in governmental grants and private backing alone, only spending $139,876,000 in humanitarian relief and $46,699,000 in humanitarian recovery. Of this humanitarian relief, the vast majority was spent on the mysteriously entitled “subgrant” category, and only $21,753,000 on actual materials and supplies for migrants.

Aid and NGOs: Assets of US policymakers

The CFR also included an aid plan for Venezuela which called for State Department funding for the Bureau of Population, Refugee and Migration (PRM), an organisation which finances Mercy Corps.

In August, the US announced an aid plan at the United Nations Assembly General (UNGA), matching the plan set out by the CFR.

Additionally, in an April article the CFR also suggests “…bypassing the government, if enough aid is provided by the United States, the Lima Group, and the EU to enable people to bring some back into Venezuela.”

The CFR continues: “While not the ideal means to provide humanitarian aid inside Venezuela, smuggling is a well-established activity and effectively closing the border to the influx of such aid would significantly add to the discredit of the Maduro government.”

Indeed, the CFR is explicitly advocating illegal smuggling as a means of destabilizing the elected government in Caracas. Meanwhile, smuggling is a problem for Venezuela, but not in the terms described by the CFR. On the contrary, Venezuela has suffered from extensive smuggling of subsidized goods and fuel into Colombia, exasperating shortages and as such generating more inflation.

Mercy Corps: A toy in the US imperialist toolbox

This game played by think-tanks and policymakers reveals Washington’s glaring double-standards vis-a-vis Venezuela. While they help to create and exploit the need for basic foods and medicines in another hemisphere, roughly 45,000 of their own people die each year through lack of health care. Around 30 million Americans have no medical cover at all, roughly the population of Venezuela, which has health care written into its constitution.

Every year a further 2 million Americans travel out of the US for treatment they cannot afford at home. Some will die if they do not find treatment abroad, but instead of being a crisis, this is termed ‘medical tourism.’

At the same time, the US is deporting tens of thousands of Hondurans, while more attempt to cross the border into the US every day, a legacy of Hillary Clinton’s 2009 adventurism.

Yet, we are constantly told to believe that Washington cares about migrants and the well-being of Venezuelans.

While US policymakers play games around Venezuela, with toys from the imperialist toolbox, along with their EU friends, it is no wonder Maduro fears assassination.

This article is a combination of two texts by Nina Cross, the first of which was published by the Morning Star, edited by Venezuelanalysis.

November 1, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | 4 Comments

Venezuela Launches Media Response Plan to Fake News Attacks

Venezuelanalysis | October 31, 2018

Merida – The Venezuelan government has announced the creation of a media based task force to address fake or misleading international news stories about the Caribbean nation.

The ‘Zero Tolerance Media Plan’ was announced by Vice Minister for International Communication William Castillo Monday, and will run through the Foreign Office and its network of embassies and consulates.

Castillo explained that the plan looks to offer responses to instances of fake news coverage “one by one.”

“There have been attacks against the Venezuelan demonym, not just against the country, its political authorities, its government, or Chavismo any more, but now against the people, the average folk, our national identity,” he explained.

Castillo used one example of a recent anonymous note in a Portuguese TV channel which claimed that Venezuelan mothers were giving away their children so as to be able to eat. “This is fake,” he clarified.

Caracas has frequently denounced a media-based campaign to undermine its sovereignty, democratic credentials, and social advances in recent years. Venezuelan authorities claim that US-led media outlets, as well as important European outlets such as El Pais in Spain, look to damage the reputation of the nation and create spin which justifies coercive measures against the country, such as sanctions and an international intervention.

A recent example involves the so-called “humanitarian crisis” in Venezuela following increased migration levels.

“In Central America they don’t say ‘humanitarian crisis, massive exodus, catastrophe, diaspora’. There, it is a ‘caravan’, as if it were a party, and they are thousands which are fleeing poverty, violence, a lack of opportunities, hope, and the US government is closing the door to them,” stated Vice President of the National Constituent Assembly Tania Diaz, drawing comparison with the 7000-strong migrant march which is en route to the Mexican-US border.

Further examples include the media coverage of the August 4 terrorist drone attack against President Nicolas Maduro, in which corporate media outlets used words such as “apparent” and “alleged” to sew doubt about the reality of the attack which targeted the President and injured seven soldiers.

November 1, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | Leave a comment

Ex-Goldman Banker To Plead Guilty To 1MDB Criminal Charges, Forfeit $44 Million

By Tyler Durden | Zero Hedge | November 1, 2018

Last we checked in with former Goldman Sachs SE Asia chairman Tim Leissner, the banker was nearing the nadir of a dramatic fall from grace that resulted in him being terminated from the bank, as it sought to distance itself from a series of shady bond underwritings organized by Leissner.

Goldman, as first reported in 2016, was deeply involved with the Malaysian government’s efforts to seed the 1MDB development fund, which, as we now know thanks to the DOJ, was used by former Malaysian President Najib Razak as his own personal slush fund, with most of the money going to purchase luxury yachts, paints – and some of the money was even used to help finance the Hollywood blockbuster “The Wolf of Wall Street”. In total, Razak and his cronies are believed to have stolen nearly $700 million.

Leissner

Tim Leissner and Kimora Lee Simmons Leissner

Back in July, it was believed that Leissner was planning to cooperate with federal authorities, raising the possibility that he could help expose some of the endemically corrupt practices happening behind the scenes at the Vampire Squid. Since WSJ exposed the fraud back in 2015 after 1MDB missed bond payments, the scandal has riveted the financial press and drawn intense scrutiny from the DOJ, with AG Jeff Sessions calling it “kleptocracy at its worst.”

And now it appears Leissner – who is married to Kimora Lee-Simmons – has done just that. As the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday morning, the former banker is expected to plead guilty to conspiracy to launder money and violate the FCPA. As part of the settlement, he has agreed to a $44 million fine for his role in the scandal – a guilty plea that, we imagine, will lead to his eventual cooperation.

But while Leissner’s situation is hardly ideal, his former deputy has it even worse. Roger Ng, the former deputy director of Goldman’s SE Asia practice, is expected to be indicted by the DOJ, alongside Jho Low, the Malaysian financier whose exploits have been widely chronicled in the Western media. Low allegedly masterminded the 1MDB fraud.

Last week, Razak and his former Treasury secretary were charged with criminal breach of trust, months after Razak was imprisoned shortly after losing his reelection race to a rival who had promised to prosecute him.

As the DOJ prepares its announcement, attention will now turn to what, exactly, Leissner told investigators and whether his former employer could be held liable.

November 1, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , | 3 Comments

Mossad false flags only encourage Iran to boost ties with world: Zarif

Press TV – November 1, 2018

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the Israeli spy agency’s “false flags” will fail to hurt Tehran’s ties with the world, apparently referring to Mossad’s role in a diplomatic row between Iran and Denmark.

In a tweet from Pakistan on Wednesday, Zarif said, “Mossad’s perverse & stubborn planting of false flags (more on this later) only strengthens our resolve to engage constructively with the world.”

The top Iranian diplomat — who was in Islamabad following his trilateral talks in Istanbul with his Azeri and Turkish opposite numbers — further praised Iran’s “solid relations” with its neighbors.

“Solid relations w/neighbors our priority,” Zarif said in the tweet, which also carried photos of his meetings in Turkey and Pakistan.

The tweet comes amid a diplomatic standoff between Tehran and Copenhagen over the latter’s claims that Iran had tried to carry out an assassination plot on Danish soil, an allegation Tehran has sharply rejected.

Swedish security police also said a Norwegian citizen of Iranian descent had been arrested on October 21 in connection with the alleged plot and extradited to Denmark.

Denmark recalled its ambassador from Tehran and said that it was consulting with other European countries about how to respond. Tehran also summoned the Danish ambassador to Tehran to voice its protest.

Israeli media later revealed that Mossad had provided Denmark with “intelligence” concerning the alleged plot by Tehran.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was also quick to “congratulate” the Danish government on the arrest.

Tehran has dismissed Denmark’s claims as “rash, politicized,” with Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi saying Wednesday that “invisible hands” were at work to damage Iran’s ties with Europe at the time when the two sides are closely cooperating to save the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal following the US’s pullout.

Qassemi also said such reports are the continuation of conspiracies hatched by known enemies who are against growing Iran-Europe relations at the current sensitive juncture.

In a similar claim back in June, the Israeli spy agency said it had helped “foil” an alleged Iranian bomb attack on a meeting of the terrorist Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) in Paris. An Iranian diplomat, based in Austria, was arrested in Germany on the false charges of being linked to the suspected attack.

Zarif’s talks in Pakistan

In Islamabad, Zarif sat down with new Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

He held talks with Pakistani officials about the fate of the Iranian forces who were abducted by Pakistan-based terrorists near the two countries’ joint border earlier in October.

Terrorists with the so-called Jaish ul-Adl terrorist group abducted 12 Iranian forces in the southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan, and spirited them away into neighboring Pakistan.

At his meeting with Imran Khan, the two officials discussed ways to deepen ties between the two neighboring nations, especially in the field of energy and regional issues.

November 1, 2018 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism | 8 Comments