Aletho News


Palestinian Prisoners and Israeli national security

By Nasser Nasser | MEMO | January 24, 2019

The attempt by some in Israel to link the escalation on the Gaza border with external factors and Iranian orders was not successful. According to Haaretz newspaper’s military correspondent, Yaniv Kubovich, some security circles in Israel are claiming that the reason for the escalation was the hunger strike organised by the Islamic Jihad prisoners in Ofer Prison. However, the more accurate reason is that security agencies with narrow interests in Erdan’s interior ministry and the prison authorities attacked Palestinian prisoners, beginning with the Islamic jihad prisoners and then extended to the rest of the Palestinian prisoners.

These hostile parties believe that the Palestinian prisoners are living in a vacuum and that the attacks on them will not have any repercussions. They seem to have forgotten the hunger strike by the administrative prisoners, which led to a domino effect that resulted in a war that shook Israel for 51 days in 2014.

The security and political level in Israel can learn a valuable lesson from the escalation in Gaza occurring on January 22nd. The experience is that any attack or assault on prisoners in a barbaric manner is considered an attack on the region’s security and specifically Israel’s security. Based on this, the decision-making rules regarding the prisoners could change in a manner that does not allow those with narrow interests to make decisions that implications and consequences on Israel’s interests and security.

It is unclear whether the sniper bullet that hit the helmet of a secret commander in the Israeli army, almost killing him on January 22nd is in line with the rules of fire and understandings reached by the Palestinian resistance factions in the Gaza Strip with the Israeli occupation authorities mediated by Egypt. However, it is apparent that the Palestinian prisoners are highly regarded and respected, especially among the Palestinian people and all the Palestinian resistance factions, especially in this case the Al-Quds Brigades and Islamic Jihad. This has reached the extent of Islamic Jihad fighters targeting an Israeli officer and exposing the area to escalation. This may be because they are aware that the increase would be limited, and it may be useful to respond to the series of Israeli attacks and delays in all matters relating to understandings regarding prisoners and Gaza.

Yesterday’s incident was followed by Israeli responses, which were exaggerated as usual, in the form of attacking the resistance’s sites, leading to the death of wounding of several Palestinians. This was then followed by Netanyahu’s decision to stop the entry of Qatari funds into Gaza. These actions indicate the extent of national concern, especially in the case of the prisoners, firmly and proudly endured by the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. This is at a time when many Arabs and Palestinians, especially in the leadership, abandoned the issues and concerns of their people to serve personal, narrow, or mistaken interests.

Hence, the escalation incident yesterday highlighted the fact that the prisoner issue is a matter of Palestinian national security, and that the abuse of prisoners inside the prisons and the unjust attacks on them, such as that taking place in Ofer two days ago, will also affect the Israeli national security. Many Israeli leaders and influential figures have acknowledged this, but will Minister Erdan and those like him realise this?

January 24, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment

Fatah: No elections in Gaza while its under Hamas rule

Chief of Hamas’ Political Bureau Ismail Haniyeh (L) and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas (R)
MEMO | January 24, 2019

Member of Fatah Revolutionary Council Mowfaq Matar said yesterday that “the elections will not be held in Gaza as long as it is controlled by Hamas,” Al-Resalah newspaper reported.

Speaking to Al-Resalah, he said: “It is impossible to hold elections there without a united government and united judicial and security authorities to supervise the elections based on the basic law.”

Meanwhile, Matar reiterated that his movement would never accept a national unity government with Hamas “before ending the coup and handing over its power.”

He noted that Hamas would not be part of a potential government reshuffle, stating that the leadership of the Palestinian Authority is to issue a statement next Wednesday that would answer many questions about the government reshuffle and holding the elections.

In December 2018, Abbas announced the dissolution of the Palestinian parliament and announced his plan to carry out elections in the Palestinian territories. Later on, Fatah announced its precondition for the elections, which exclude the Gaza Strip.

January 24, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , | Leave a comment

Hamas announces terms for new Palestinian elections

MEMO | January 24, 2019

Hamas yesterday announced that it will only agree for elections to be held if they are for presidential, legislative and the PLO national council in parallel.

A senior Hamas official who also serves as deputy speaker of the PLC, Ahmed Bahr said Hamas hope this will renew legitimacy and rotate power “on the basis of genuine political partnership and agreements signed by the Palestinian factions”.

A member of Hamas’ political bureau, Khalil Al-Hayya, said during a local conference in Gaza that the movement refuses to only hold parliamentary elections.

“The president’s term has been extended for 14 years and needs renewal. Members of the current National Council have been appointed to the council and do not represent the Palestinian national situation,” he said.

Al-Hayya said that Hamas “is ready to hold comprehensive Palestinian elections immediately away from the policies of exclusiveness, exclusion and selfishness.”

The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced on 22 December the dissolution of the Legislative Council and called for legislative elections within six months.

The last Palestinian parliamentary elections took place in 2006 and were won by Hamas.

On Sunday, Abbas met in Ramallah with the Palestinian Central Elections Commission (CEC), announcing his support for providing all that is needed to hold new legislative elections “as soon as possible”.

January 24, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , | Leave a comment

Likud deputy minister enlists Hebron shooter Elor Azaria in primary campaign

Image of a demonstration against Elor Azarya, the Israeli soldier charged with manslaughter after shooting a wounded Palestinian in the head
[Wisam Hashlamoun/Apaimages]
MEMO | January 24, 2019

An Israeli deputy minister has recruited former soldier and convicted killer Elor Azaria in a campaign video ahead of Likud party primaries scheduled for 5 February, reported the Jerusalem Post.

Deputy Environmental Protection Minister Yaron Mazuz posted a video on his Facebook page yesterday showing him seated next to Azaria.

“I am sitting next to my friend Elor Azaria, whom we enlisted to our primaries campaign, and with God’s help, together with him, we will succeed,” Mazuz tells the camera.

According to the report, the video ends “with a picture of Mazuz and Azaria, who appeared to be laughing together”.

Israel’s Channel 12 reported that Mazuz gave Azaria a paid position on his campaign, and called him “intelligent and diligent”.

“We have to support our soldiers and let them act according to the threats they face in the battlefield,” Mazuz told Channel 12. “We cannot tie their hands and neuter them when facing vile murderers.”

In March 2016, Azaria shot wounded Palestinian Abdel Fatah Al-Sharif in the head in Hebron, in the occupied West Bank. He eventually served just 14 months of an 18-month manslaughter sentence.

Azaria became a popular cause for a number of right-wing Israeli politicians and groups, with rallies in support of the soldier.


Settlers give Hebron shooter a hero’s welcome at crime scene 

January 24, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | Leave a comment

A Contrast in Murders

Aiia Maasarwe was a student at La Trobe University. (Photo: via Instagram, Ruba Photography)
By Jeremy Salt | Palestine Chronicle | January 24, 2019

In late January Aiia al Maasarwe, initially described in the Australian media as an ‘Israeli student’, then as an ‘Arab Israeli’ but never as a Palestinian, the correct description, was murdered in Melbourne.

Aiia, a student of Chinese and English, was in Melbourne as an exchange student, had traveled home by tram after watching a comedy show and was talking to her sister in Palestine when she was attacked, raped and killed while walking a kilometer home late at night.

It was a shocking crime and Melbourne was appalled. The tram she had taken, no. 86, stopped at all stops so people could get on with bundles of flowers to be delivered to the crime scene. Government officials, including the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, made statements expressing their horror.

Compare this with Israel where, to quote The Times of Israel,

“While the murder is major news in Australia, it is not in Israel despite the fact that the two countries have comparable murder rates … no Israeli official has said anything of substance about the killing … while the murder is on the front page of leading Australian newspapers it merits merely a blip on the front page of Israel’s dailies, as will most killings of a not-terror nature.”

In the week after her death, the Israeli embassy in Canberra made contact with the family in Aiia’s home town, Baqa al Gharbiyya, but there was no personal contact from anyone in the government until President Reuven Rivlin wrote to the family.

Baqa al Gharbiyya is not ‘mostly Arab’ as the Australian media, genuflecting to Israel as always, reported but wholly Palestinian. Until Israel began building its apartheid wall in 2000, there was one Baqa: now the wall cuts it into two, Baqa al Gharbiyya (western Baqa), inside pre-1967 Israel, and Baqa al Sharqiyya (eastern Baqa), inside the territories taken in 1967.

Writing in the Guardian, Jennine Khalik, a Sydney-based Palestinian,  wrote that while it should not matter where the murdered young woman came from, it did. Either through ignorance or through deliberate suppression, the Australian media insisted that this young Palestinian was an ‘Arab Israeli,’ the official Israeli description of its Palestinian population, and a term rejected by almost all Palestinians.

In keeping with its drive to eradicate Palestine from the map, in every way and at every level, the government of Israel refuses to call its Palestinian population ‘Palestinian.’ It prefers the generic ‘Arab’ which means they come anywhere and could belong anywhere in the Middle East, except in their homeland.

Haifa University professor Sami Smooha carried out a survey in 2017 which showed that only 16 percent of Palestinians living within pre-1967 Israel was willing to be called ‘Arab Israelis.’

They have exactly the same attitude to their Palestinian identity as Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank, occupied Jerusalem and the occupied Gaza Strip. The Palestinians inside pre-1967 Israel are not living in a state of its citizens like other states but a state for and of the Jewish people. By legal definition they are second class, a status deliberately created by discriminatory laws at every level and now reinforced by the passage last year of the nation-state law.

This law, declaring that Israel is a Jewish nation-state, automatically excludes the Palestinian 17.5 per of the population, Sunni or Christian, plus all others (including the Druze who serve in the armed forces) who are not Jewish.

The law is the inevitable product of a racist ideology which never intended Jews to live peacefully with the Palestinians but to live in Palestine instead of them. The consequence has been an endless round of wars with and on neighboring states, plus deepening oppression of the Palestinian people in the further territories stolen in 1967, as well as oppression of Syrians in the occupied Golan. For Israel to survive as a Jewish state on stolen land this is as it must be.

By and large, this process is supported by the Israeli Jewish population, amongst whom racism has been deliberately inculcated by religious and political leaders to the level of hatred of Palestinians, delight in their suffering and endless justification when they are killed.

Let’s get straight to a central issue here. Had the young woman murdered in Melbourne been Jewish, the media would have reported it entirely differently.  The story would have been headlines, it would have run for days and there would have been interviews with the family plus phone calls and visits from senior members of the government.

As it was, little attention was paid to the murder in the media and nothing came to the family from the government until Reuven Rivlin sent his letter. From Netanyahu and senior members of the government, there still has been no personal word of condolence for Aiia’s family.

The killing of Aiia can be contrasted with the response to the murder last October of Aisha al-Rabi. Ayesha, from the Nablus district village of Biddya, was in a car with her husband and a daughter when it was pelted with rocks thrown by youths from a nearby settlement.

These twisted youths, the young Zionist pioneers of the present generation, carrying forward the process of occupation and colonization, are hate-filled fanatics. They glory in the death or discomfort of Palestinians. They terrorize, they scrawl anti-Arab graffiti (not anti-Palestinian as they scarcely recognize the Palestinians as human beings let alone as Palestinian) on walls, they harass women and children, they destroy crops and olive trees, they commit acts of arson, they beat and occasionally they murder.

Violence of this nature has tripled in the past year, with 482 ‘incidents’ reported during the 12 months to December compared to 140 for the previous year.

Time to take a stand, one would think, but not in Israel.  Even in the most extreme circumstances the violence every excuse is found for the lenient treatment of these settler youths.

Take for example the stoning of the car which killed Ayesha Rabi’a, the mother of eight children. Many stones were thrown, near the Tapuah checkpoint, not just one, and five youths from the nearby settlement yeshiva – a religious seminary where hatred of ‘Arabs’ seems to be high on the agenda – were arrested.

In a state of its citizens, one might expect messages of sympathy to flow towards the family of the murdered woman from senior members of the government. One might expect assurances that justice would be done and the killers punished to the full extent of the law but in an ostensible Jewish state the sympathy flowed in the other direction, towards the families of the youths accused of killing Ayesha.

They were visited by Ayelet Shaked, the so-called ‘justice minister’ in Netanyahu’s coalition government, a vicious racist by any definition.

In 2015 Shaked paid a similar visit to the families of the youths accused of firebombing a Palestinian home at Douma in July, killing three members of the Dawabshe family, husband, and wife and their 18-month-old son Ali, with only five-year-old Ahmad surviving.

Shaked expressed her sympathy with the families’ plight and encouraged one mother to ‘stay strong.’

There was no visit by Shaked or anyone else in the Israeli government to the relatives of the murdered Palestinian family. While public outrage was expressed in demonstrations, settlers continued to celebrate the murders. At a Jewish wedding in Jerusalem in late 2015, guests brandishing Molotov cocktails, knives and guns danced around holding photos above their heads of Ali Dawabsheh which they then proceeded to stab and burn. The persecution of the Dawabsheh family by settlers continued, with a family house being destroyed in May 2018.

In June 2018 the ‘Lod’ (Lydda – ethnically cleansed in 1948) district court ruled out some of the confessions of the accused youths on the grounds that they had been obtained under torture. One of the defendants who had confessed to previous acts of arson, vandalism and the scrawling of hate graffiti on walls was released to house arrest.

Outside the court several dozen ‘hilltop youth’ celebrated, taunting the Dawabsheh grandfather with cries of ‘Where’s Ali? There’s no Ali. Ali is on the grill.’ When Reuven Rivlin condemned Jewish terror he received a spate of death threats. The case against the main defendant continues.

Ayalet Shaked was a member of the Jewish Home party until she broke away recently and founded, along with Naftali Bennett, who also split from the Jewish Home, the Heyemin Hehadash (New Right) party.

This new grouping is being misleadingly defined as ‘conservative’. In fact, it is violently rightwing and racist, effectively a Jewish fascist party. Bennett has boasted of killing ‘Arabs’, while Shaked, like many Zionist racists before her, has compared the Palestinians to snakes.

In the meantime, while all of this goes on inside occupied Palestine, the retiring Israeli army chief, Gadi Eisenkot, has boasted that Israel has carried out thousands of air attacks on Syria in recent years, attacking, in fact, almost on a daily basis.

Many of these attacks have been carried out from Lebanese air space. Some have been made behind the radar shield of civilian aircraft, once behind a Russian military aircraft which was then shot down by Syrian air defenses. A frequent target has been installations around Damascus international airport, prompting the Syrian ambassador at the UN, Bashar al Ja’afiri, to warn that if the UN does not intervene, Syria might be forced to retaliate against Tel Aviv airport.

Eisenkot was the author of the ‘Dahiye doctrine’ according to which the aerial destruction visited on the Beirut suburb of Dahiya – the political headquarters of Hizbullah – in 2006 will be carried out across Lebanon in the next war.

Israel is also campaigning again for war on Iran, if it does not start one by its attacks on Syria. Internally and externally, this racist and violent state, a time bomb planted in the Middle East by the British a century ago, is destined to erupt cataclysmically at some point in the future.

– Jeremy Salt taught at the University of Melbourne, at Bosporus University in Istanbul and Bilkent University in Ankara for many years, specializing in the modern history of the Middle East. Among his recent publications is his 2008 book, The Unmaking of the Middle East. A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands (University of California Press).

January 24, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Arab Protesters Clash With SDF In Raqqa Province

Syrian War Report | South Front | January 24, 2019

On January 23, hundreds of civilians took to the streets in the town of al-Mansoura in the province of Raqqa to protest against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) after the group’s security forces had murdered a civilian.

According to local sources, Ahmad al-Zaban, a member of the prominent al-Bukhamis tribe, was killed because he had refused to join the SDF. In 2018, the Kurdish-dominated group started to employ forced conscription as a measure to form some Arab units within its ranks. This effort is a part of attempts to justify the political and military dominance of US-backed Kurdish armed groups in northeastern Syria.

During the protests in al-Mansoura, the locals and members of the al-Bukhamis tribe clashed with the SDF’s security forces and burned down their center. This forced the SDF to temporarily withdraw from the town. The locals also demanded that the SDF hand over those of their members who had been involved in the crime. The situation is developing, but it is not likely that the group will find a comprehensive peaceful solution with the protesters. In most of the cases, the SDF’s security forces just crack down on protests and accuse the opposition of links with terrorists.

Earlier this week, several tribes living on the eastern bank of the Euphrates held rallies asking Russia and the Damascus government to restore river bridges, which had been destroyed by the US-led coalition. The destruction of bridges is one of the tools used to prevent movement of people and goods between SDF-held and government-controlled areas.

The isolation of the SDF-held area from the rest of Syria as well as an ongoing large-scale propaganda campaign claiming that the bloody Assad regime is preventing people from returning to their homes are tools, which are being used to undermine Syria’s territorial integrity.

Meanwhile, the SDF has achieved notable progress fighting ISIS in the terrorist-held pocket near the Iraqi border. The SDF has captured the villages of al-Baghuz al-Fawqani and Shajlah and advanced on ISIS positions in the village of Murashida. When this village falls into the hands of the SDF, the ISIS-held pocket will be formally eliminated.

According to pro-Kurdish sources, more than 5,100 people have fled the ISIS-held area. At least 500 ISIS members were among them. They surrendered themselves to the SDF.

In Moscow, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin held a meeting discussing a wide range of topics, including the situation in Syria. In a press briefing following the meeting, Putin announced that Moscow and Ankara had agreed to work on additional measures to implement the Idlib deconfliction agreement.

“We see that our Turkish partners are making great efforts to eliminate the terrorist threat there and it is necessary to work together to remove tension in that region”, Putin said. He added that Russia is also working to support negotiations between the SDF and Damascus.

January 24, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , | Leave a comment

Trump, Pull Them Out of Syria Now, Not Later

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | January 24, 2019

In December, President Trump announced that he was finally ordering an immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Syria. Almost immediately, under pressure from the interventionist crowd, including the national-security branch of the U.S. government, Trump reversed course and announced that he intended to delay the pullout by another four months. Today, it’s not clear that he even intends to abide by that deadline.

Meanwhile, while Trump dawdled with the withdrawal, four more Americans were killed in a suicide-bombing attack carried out by ISIS in Syria. They included two U.S. soldiers, a former U.S. soldier serving as a contractor, and an interpreter. Three other Americans were wounded in the attack.

What did those Americans die for? Nothing. All four died for nothing.

They died for nothing because the U.S. government has no business being in Syria. It never has had any business being in Syria. Those 2,000 U.S. troops don’t belong in Syria. Those four Americans deserve to be alive today. So do all other Americans who are killed in Syria the longer that Trump delays the pullout of all U.S. troops from the country.

Interventionists, not surprisingly, are saying that the ISIS attack instead shows that Trump needs to keep U.S. troops in Syria. They’re saying that the attack shows that ISIS hasn’t really been “defeated,” as Trump claimed when he was justifying his original withdrawal order.

But whether ISIS has been defeated or not is quite besides the point. The point is that the U.S., government has no business in Syria, ISIS or no ISIS.

Moreover, let’s not forget something important: It is interventionists who are responsible for the rise of ISIS. The organization did not exist prior to the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. Never mind that Iraq had never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so. What mattered was that interventionists felt that Iraq’s dictator, who had partnered with the U.S. government in the 1980s, now had to go and be replaced with another pro-U.S. dictator.

Interventionists cheered as U.S. forces were invading and occupying the country for many years. But while they were celebrating the destruction of Iraq and the killing and torturing of tens of thousands of Iraqis (none of whom had ever attacked the United States), interventionists were refusing to take personal responsibility for what their interventionism had brought into existence — ISIS, which consisted largely of people who opposed the U.S. interventionist war against Iraq.

So, ISIS, which was a direct result of the U.S. intervention in Iraq, become the new official enemy, which now, interventionists said, required even more interventionism. The idea was that if the U.S. government didn’t now stop ISIS , ISIS would supposedly establish a worldwide Muslim caliphate that would end up conquering the United States and taking over the federal government, much like Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, with whom U.S. officials had partnered in the 1980s, was supposedly going to do if the U.S. government didn’t intervene against him.

The notion was ridiculous from the get-go. ISIS was never coming to get us, any more than Saddam was coming to get us. It was just one more of a series of official bugaboos that interventionists have used to justify their forever foreign interventions and ever-increasing tax-funded largess for the military-industrial complex, the CIA, and the NSA.

Trump and the U.S. national-security establishment have used SIS to justify the stationing of those 2000 troops in Syria. But it’s been a lie from the beginning. The real reason those troops are there is to attempt to achieve regime change in Syria, just like they got regime change in Iraq. That’s ultimately what those four Americans died for—regime change, which is the same thing as dying for nothing. That’s because the U.S. government has no business engaging in the business of regime change. It is not a legitimate role of the U.S. government to be deciding who should be in power in foreign countries and engaging in actions to buttress or remove foreign regimes.

Of course, that’s not the mindset of interventionists, including those who pressured Trump into immediately modifying his withdrawal order on Syria. What we hear from them is classic imperialism. “If we get out, there will be a power vacuum that will be filled by Russia, which is our rival.” “We need to counterbalance Iran.” “We need to block our NATO ally Turkey.” “ISIS could become a regional hegemon.”

All that is Empire Talk 101. After all, do you see Switzerland, a country whose government is limited to defense of the country, talking like that? Do you see Swiss officials referring to rivals, counterbalancing, blocking, or the rise of regional hegemons?

Meanwhile, while Trump dawdles with his withdrawal from Syria, he’s now stating that US. military intervention is a possibility for Venezuela, on top of the interventionist sanctions that Trump has already imposed on that country. Just more interventionism from America’s interventionist-in-chief.

January 24, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Why Does the State Hate Alex Salmond?

Compilation by Craig Murray

January 24, 2019 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment

The United States Is at It Again: Compiling an Enemies List

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 24.01.2019

Many American still long for the good old days when men were still manly and President George W. Bush was able to announce that there was a “new sheriff in town” pledged to wipe terrorism from the face of the earth. “You’re either with us or against us,” he growled and he backed up his warning of lethal retribution with an enemies list that he called the “axis of evil.”

The axis of evil identified in those days in the 2002 State of the Union Address consisted of Iraq, Iran and North Korea. Iraq, which had not yet been invaded and conquered by the American war machine, was number one on the list, with Saddam allegedly brandishing weapons of mass destruction deliverable by the feared transatlantic gliders that could easily strike the United States. Bush explained that “Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax and nerve gas and nuclear weapons for over a decade. This is a regime that has already used poison gas to murder thousands of its own citizens, leaving the bodies of mothers huddled over their dead children. This is a regime that agreed to international inspections, then kicked out the inspectors. This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world.”

North Korea meanwhile was described as “A regime arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction, while starving its citizens” while Iran “aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people’s hope for freedom.”

The phrase “axis of evil” proved so enticing that Undersecretary of State John Bolton used it two months later in a speech entitled “Beyond the Axis of Evil.” He included three more countries – Cuba, Libya and Syria because they were “state sponsors of terrorism that are pursuing or who have the potential to pursue weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or have the capability to do so in violation of their treaty obligations.” The nice thing about an Axis of Evil List is that you can make up the criteria as you go along so you can always add more evildoers.

Iraq was removed from the playing field in March 2003 while Libya had to wait for President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to be dealt with, but North Korea, Cuba, Syria and Iran are still around. Nevertheless, the idea of an enemies list continues to intrigue policy makers since it would be impossible to maintain the crippling burden of the military industrial complex without a simple expression that would convey to the public that there were bad actors out there waiting to pounce but for the magnificent efforts being made by Boeing, Lockheed, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics and Raytheon to defend freedom.

The Administration of President Donald Trump, not to be outdone by its predecessors, has recently come up with two enemies lists. The first one was coined by the irrepressible John Bolton, who is now National Security Adviser. He has come up with the “troika of tyranny” to describe Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, where he sees “… the dangers of poisonous ideologies without control, and the dangers of domination and suppression… I am here to convey a clear message from the President of the United States about our policy towards these three regimes. Under this administration, we will no longer appease the dictators and despots near our coasts in this hemisphere. The troika of tyranny in this hemisphere — Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua — has finally found its rival.”

Bolton also demonstrated that he has a light touch, adding “These tyrants fancy themselves strongmen and revolutionaries, icons and luminaries. In reality, they are clownish, pitiful figures more akin to Larry, Curly, and Moe. The three stooges of socialism are true believers, but they worship a false God.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has apparently also been looking at Venezuela and not liking what he is seeing. On his recent road trip to the Middle East he told reporters that “It is time to begin the orderly transition to a new government [in Caracas].” He declared that “The Maduro regime is illegitimate and the United States will work diligently to restore a real democracy to that country. We are very hopeful we can be a force for good to allow the region to come together to deliver that.” “Force for good” is another key soundbite used by Pompeo. In his Cairo speech on January 10th, he described the United States as a “force for good” in the entire Middle East.

Bolton might have thought “troika of tyranny” was a hands down winner, but he was actually upstaged by the dour Vice President Mike Pence who declared to a gathering of US Ambassadors that “Beyond our global competitors, the United States faces a ‘wolf pack of rogue states.’ No shared ideology or objective unites our competitors and adversaries except this one: They seek to overturn the international order that the United States has upheld for more than half a century.” The states Pence identified were North Korea, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. Of the five, only North Korea can even plausibly be considered as a possible threat to the United States.

As wolves are actually very social animals the metaphor provided by Pence does not hold together very well. But Pence, Bolton and Pompeo are all talking about the same thing, which is the continued existence of some governments that are reluctant to fall in line with Washington’s demands. They have to be banished from polite discourse by declaring them “rogue” or “tyrannical” or “evil.” Other nations with far worse human rights records – to include Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Israel and Egypt – are given a pass as long as they stay aligned with the US on policy.

So useful “lists” are all about what Washington wants the world to believe about itself and its adversaries. Put competitors on a list and condemn them to eternal denigration whenever their names come up. And, as Pence observes, it is all done to prevent the overturning of the “international order.” However, his is a curious conceit as it is the United States and some of its allies, through their repeated and illegal interventions in foreign countries, that have established something like international disorder. Who is really doing what to whom is pretty much dependent on which side of the fence one is standing on.

January 24, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Second-Round Stakes Higher for Trump and Kim

By Patrick Lawrence | Consortium News | January 24, 2019

President Donald Trump’s announcement late last week that he will meet North Korea’s Kim Jong-un next month promises a significant result whether the encounter succeeds or fails. In the intervening weeks, we have two questions to ponder.

No. 1: what will this second summit accomplish? The first Trump–Kim meeting last June in Singapore was about establishing rapport and can by this measure be counted a success. Something of substance, however modest, needs to get done this time.

No. 2, and just as important, will Trump’s foreign policy minders undermine this encounter before it takes place? The record suggests this is a serious possibility.

A month ago, Trump announced the withdrawal of U.S. special forces from Syria. The howls of protest, Capitol Hill Democrats often the shrillest, have not ceased. And troops have not started to pack their duffel bags.

But the Syria decision may prove a turning point, given that Trump directly confronted the policy clique — segments of the Pentagon and State Department bureaucracies, as well as members of the National Security Council —who have been sabotaging his objectives since his first day in office two years ago.

Steve Bannon, once and briefly Trumps’ strategic adviser, put it this way after the withdrawal announcement: “The apparatus slow-rolled him until he just said enough and did it himself. Not pretty, but at least done.”

Will the second Trump–Kim summit prompt another such showdown with “the apparatus” around Trump?

It could. John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser, is a hyper-hawk on North Korea. Behind him, the Pentagon finds the prospect of lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula a threat to its immense presence in Northeast Asia. Be wary in coming weeks of vaguely sourced press reports citing newly discovered North Korean treachery, betrayals, and deceits.

More For, Than Against

On balance, however, Trump and Kim appear to have more going for them than against them this time.

Now that the policy cliques and the press have run out of playground epithets for Kim—monster, merciless murderer, and so on—it is generally acknowledged that however autocratic, he is a young but capable statesman. In his new year’s message, he confirmed that national policy has now shifted decisively toward economic development as the North’s top priority.

While Washington and its clerks in the corporate press give Kim no credit, he has already made numerous gestures intended to appease American hawks such as Bolton, build confidence, and signal his desire to be, in effect, a modernizing dictator somewhat in the mold of China’s former leader, the late Deng Xiaoping.

Kim has halted all nuclear and missile testing, destroyed a nuclear-testing site, offered to pull back artillery from the 38th parallelwhich now divides North and South Korea, and returned the remains of some American soldiers killed in the 1950–53 war. North and South have also demilitarized a “truce town.”

Kim wants a deal—there are no serious grounds to question this—and is surely smart enough to know he has to bring something impressive to the table next month. Just what this will be is not clear. It is easier to anticipate what he will not concede: the reciprocal diplomatic process that Moon Jae-in, South Korea’s president, calls “action for action.” It is the only rational, workable way to go forward after almost seven decades of mutual distrust and animosity.

Development Planning

Moon has remained remarkably energetic in behalf of a North–South settlement. His country, along with Russia and China, have drawn up development plans to connect the North and its neighbors — rails, roads, airports, seaports, power plants, refineries, and so on — that has something for everybody: The North acquires the foundation for a modern economy, South Korea gains land routes to Chinese, Russian, and European markets, Russia develops its Far East, and China can do more business with both North and South. A map of this plan shows three development belts: Two are to run down the Korean Peninsula’s western and eastern coastlines from the Chinese and Russian borders respectively. The third will run west to east across the 38th parallel. Moon wants these links eventually to connect South Korea to the Trans-Siberian Railway.

The numbers bandied about are extraordinary. While Seoul has allocated a modest $260 million to improve cross-border rail links this year, that is merely the beginning. The Korea Rail Network Authority, a government agency, estimates that upgrading the North’s roads and rails alone will cost roughly $38 billion before it is done. At the time of the first Trump–Kim summit, Citicorp put the cost of rebuilding all of the North’s infrastructure at $63 billion.

These plans have advanced steadily since the first Trump–Kim meeting. But coverage in the mainstream American press is far from abundant.

By all appearances, the U.S. is simply not interested in a constructive settlement in Northeast Asia, even as other nations proceed to develop one. This is a perfect illustration of what happens when a nation is intent only on the projection of its power.

It is anyone’s guess what Trump will bring to his summit with Kim. But it is clear what would produce a breakthrough if Trump truly wants one. First, he can exempt some of Moon’s cross-border development plans from sanctions that now inhibit them. Second, he can relax the ridiculous demand that the North completes its denuclearization before Washington concedes anything. “Give us all we want and then we negotiate” is not a position from which to expect any gains.

Given Kim’s aspirations and the diplomatic efforts of Seoul, Moscow, and Beijing, the opportunity for a settlement of the Korean question has not been this promising since the 1953 armistice. At the same time, Washington has rarely been so uncertain of its power—and hence so eager to display it—and we have a president surrounded by advisors given to neutralizing his better policy objectives.

If Trump and Kim get something done a month from now, we could be on the way to peace in Northeast Asia after 66 years of high tension. If they fail, or if Trump gets the Syria treatment, many years are likely to pass before a moment this propitious comes again.

Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune, is a columnist, essayist, author and lecturer. His most recent book is “Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century” (Yale). Follow him @thefloutist. His web site is Support his work via

January 24, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | Leave a comment

No need to install: Microsoft has controversial fake news filter NewsGuard built into mobile browser

By Igor Ogorodnev | RT | January 23, 2019

Corporate and neocon-backed startup NewsGuard is one step closer to its vision of bringing its “unreliable” news rater to every screen after Microsoft makes it an integral part of its Edge mobile browser.

Rather than having to download an app as before, Edge users on Android and Apple devices can now just click one button to enable its “green-red rating signal if a website is trying to get it right or instead has a hidden agenda or knowingly publishes falsehoods or propaganda.”

Among the green-rated websites: Voice of America, CNN, Buzzfeed, the Guardian, New York Times and the Washington Post, as well as left-leaning upstarts such as Vice News and Refinery 29. Ones that are given the red warning label of “failing to maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability”: RT and Sputnik (obviously enough) and the right-wing Daily Mail, Breitbart and the Drudge Report, in addition to hundreds of other non-mainstream news websites such as Wikileaks.

Not only does the integration ensure that NewsGuard is present on every browser, and is easier to use than to ignore, but by making it a fundamental Microsoft-provided feature, the company gives it inherent level of trustworthiness, something akin to a bundled anti-virus feature, only this time the virus targets your brain, not your computer or iPod.

‘Totally transparent’

None of this is the slightest bit alarming if you believe that NewsGuard is an absolutely fair arbiter of what constitutes real news or propaganda.

Its pride of place is its “Nutrition Labels” which ape the precision of a list of calories, carbs, and saturated fats to give a supposedly scientific assessment of media reliability on nine different criteria. Among them: doesn’t repeatedly publish false content, avoids deceptive headlines, gathers and presents information responsibly, handles the difference between news and opinion responsibly.

© sample

The green-listed media outlets above apparently do not ever engage in these practices, or at least not knowingly. So CNN never misleads with its headlines, the Guardian never dresses up its agendas as news, and Buzzfeed stories are always accurate. One literally doesn’t have to go back three days to find dozens of examples to the contrary, but this would be too mind-numbingly pedantic a task.

Even regular readers of the green-tick media must be able to see these are judgment calls. What is even “presenting information responsibly”?

Perhaps realizing that their pseudo-scientific fancy diagram is insufficient, NewsGuard has stressed that they are not using shadowy methods like tech companies and are open to two-way communication.

“We want people to game our system. We are totally transparent. We are not an algorithm,” company co-founder Steve Brill told the Guardian.

This is how he explained the Daily Mail red warning.

“We spell out fairly clearly in the label exactly how many times we have attempted to contact them. The analyst that wrote this writeup got someone on the phone who, as soon he heard who she was and where she was calling from, hung up. As of now, we would love to hear if they have a complaint or if they change anything.”

On the other hand, RT did answer NewsGuard’s queries in detail. You can guess how much difference that made.

From anthrax scares to Russia fears

But who are these people that the Daily Mail or RT have to impress and why?

Brill himself is a veteran centrist journalist and author, his co-CEO Gordon Crovitz is a former Wall Street Journal columnist. After Brill, its second-biggest investor, along with his father, is Nick Penniman, the liberal publisher, and the third-biggest is Publicis Group, a multinational advertising agency.

Meanwhile, its advisory board includes Tom Ridge, the first-ever Homeland Security chief, and developer of another famous color-coded system, the terror alert, and Michael Hayden, the CIA director, also under George W. Bush. There are also several Obama and Clinton-era figures.

Tom Ridge and George W. Bush in 2004. ©  Reuters

The overall picture emerges of a mix of establishment journalists, hawkish old-school Washington insiders, and so-called ethical businessmen.

They may all be experts in their fields, but if you believe that these are selfless neutral adjudicators you are probably beyond being helped by color charts. And this is not some one-off initiative either: NewsGuard is part of Microsoft’s Defending Democracy program, which combats purported election meddling, presumably primarily from Russia. The frontline of the information war is not customarily the place for impartial news judgment.

But I wasn’t an Edge user…

However much respectability NewsGuard enjoys through Microsoft, Edge has a laughably small – a fraction of a percent – market share on mobiles. In practical terms, even an increase of popularity of several thousand percent will only mean several thousand new users, and other browsers are available.

This would be that, if not for NewsGuard’s self-proclaimed ambition “to expand to serve the billions of people globally who get news online.” This is just a beginning: there is an overarching plan where all public computers, from the school to the university to the library, are automatically equipped with the same “safe browsing” system.

And rather than as an individual warning, NewsGuard plans to make its designations work as an effective financial tool. The company, which has received $6 million in backing, also plans to soon work with advertisers, “keeping ads off unreliable news websites” to ensure “brand safety.” Fall foul of the green ticks, no money for you. Advertising managers are already demonetizing programs with alternative or controversial viewpoints elsewhere, and soon the process can be automated, and Brill is boasting that he is “happy to be blamed” – doing the dirty work for the platforms. No wonder alternative outlets in the US are openly opposed.

So, just like the use of NewsGuard in all public libraries in the faraway state of Hawaii (no money charged), it is best to look at the Edge integration is more of a test, a pilot project, a dry run. Latching NewsGuard onto a popular browser like Chrome, or a social network like Facebook, would stir tremors of public debate, as it has done in the past when similar initiatives have been tried. Instead, first they came for the Edge users.

January 24, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

BuzzFeed CEO Has History of Writing Fake News About Political, Business Rivals

Sputnik – 24.01.2019

In the years before founding BuzzFeed, CEO Jonah Peretti masqueraded as political opponents or business rivals, creating fake websites and spreading false statements and emails pretending to be them in order to defame them, one of his victims told Sputnik Wednesday.

Peretti, whose news outlet has recently gotten into hot water after publishing and sticking with a story refuted by the Office of the Special Counsel, also has a history of knowingly spreading false information about others.

John Lott, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a specialist on civilian use of firearms, told Sputnik Wednesday that Peretti impersonated him in 2003 in the interests of whipping up support for a hotly debated gun control law.

At the time, Peretti was the director of the R&D lab at Eyebeam, a New York-based not-for-profit art and technology center.

Peretti adopted the identity of Lott, who authored the book “More Guns, Less Crime,” purporting to have had a change of heart and sending out emails urging recipients that he’d had a change of heart and to oppose the “Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act,” which lawmakers intended to use to protect gun makers from lawsuits. A website Peretti created,, carried the same message, Lott explained in a Tuesday op-ed on Fox News.

“[Peretti] set up a website using my picture and appearing to be from me, and as I described in the op-ed, he sent out emails that appeared to be from me and he emailed back and forth with people trying to convince them he was me,” Lott told Sputnik.

Peretti began receiving hundreds of angry phone calls after the faux email sender began advising recipients how to get around gun control laws. He wrote that he contacted the fake email address after being alerted to it and its messages by James K. Glassman, a former Washington Post columnist, who later served as US Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy.

“I talked to [Peretti] on the phone a couple times when we finally figured out who had done it,” Lott said. “I mean, he had registered the domain name in my name and used my address in setting it up, so it took some effort. But when we finally discovered who it was — because I had emailed back to the email address and he wouldn’t respond to that — but when we finally figured out who it was, I had a few discussions with him.”

Lott said that only when he lawyered up did Peretti make any effort to indicate that the page wasn’t real, and then made a half-hearted attempt to call his identity fraud parody. “He only put down that it was a parody account after it was discovered, after I brought the lawsuit. But before I brought the lawsuit, he just wasn’t willing to do anything.”

However, Lott pressed forward with the suit, telling Sputnik, “you can’t take somebody’s identity and try to use it for your own advantage.” He included MBA student Jeff Goldblatt in the suit, another of Peretti’s victims who had suffered a similar kind of harassment and identity theft.

Lott wrote on Fox that Peretti set up a fake website and email to impersonate Goldblatt, too, after the latter set up a dating service called “Rejection Hotline” at around the time Peretti set up a similar service of his own. Lott said Peretti’s sister and co-founder of their service, called “Rejection Line,” went so far as to interview Goldblatt while posing as a real New York-based reporter and then using that information to create fake content that “contained multiple lies about me and portrayed me as an arrogant jerk who was bragging about how I stole the idea of the New York City Rejection Line,” he told Lott.

“I guess [Peretti] just thought he was competing against somebody and rather than doing the normal competition, he thought that somehow it was justifiable,” Lott told Sputnik. “I never really asked him why he would do these things, I just kind of assumed he knew that it was wrong and, you know, I tried to argue with him about it, but until I brought the suit I wasn’t able to get anywhere with him, and even then he tried to fight a little bit.”

“He basically pleaded poverty when I was suing him,” Lott said, noting that today Peretti is worth $200 million. “He had wealthy financial backers at the time and he kind of used the threat, or tried to use the threat, of having the wealthy financial backers go and cover his legal costs. It didn’t deter me from continuing the suit and forcing him to settle. I mean… it would have been costly to go to court, obviously, but I was glad we were able to settle,” which they did in 2005 for an undisclosed amount, including a formal apology to both Lott and Goldblatt.

That same year, Peretti co-founded the Huffington Post and the following year he co-founded BuzzFeed.

January 24, 2019 Posted by | Deception | , , , | Leave a comment