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France wants more govt regulation of Facebook and Zuckerberg calls it ‘model’ approach

RT | May 10, 2019

The French government is pushing for greater regulation of Facebook and other platforms in order to combat what it calls ‘hate speech’, according to a state-commissioned report published as CEO Mark Zuckerberg visits Paris.

The report, issued by the French Minister for Digital Economy Cedric O, found that social media companies were allowing “abuses” to take place on their platforms, particularly in the area of hateful or bigoted speech, and that the companies had not done enough to address the problems.

“Public intervention to ensure that the major players adopt a more responsible attitude protecting the cohesion of our societies is therefore legitimate,” the report said.

Though the report noted the government would “aim for minimum intervention,” it said that previous attempts at private self-regulation were not sufficient. The regulators added the government should look to strike a balance between “repressive” policies that react to ‘hate speech’ after the fact, and more preventative ones that start with the companies’ policies.

The report said the “lawfulness” of content would be decided in the courts, and specifically requested closer oversight of social media platforms’ algorithms which auto-detect supposedly hateful content.

French President Emmanuel Macron, a major advocate for greater regulation of the web, met with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Friday to discuss some of the issues touched on in the report. Zuckerberg has also called for more government controls over the internet.

After the meeting, Zuckerberg hailed the French government’s approach as a model for other countries to follow.

“If more countries can follow the lead of what your government has done here, that will likely end up being a more positive outcome for the world in my view than some of the alternatives,” he told reporters at Facebook’s Paris office.

In January, the French digital economy minister said he was “one hundred percent in agreement” with Zuckerberg’s previous calls for regulation, but complained that Facebook’s growing size and power was creating a “huge democratic problem.”

“Facebook decides that something online is legal or not legal” and “plays the role of justice,” O told AFP last year.

Facebook took steps on its own in 2018 to censor “misleading” content it said contributed to violence, and more recently announced that ‘white nationalist’ content would be wiped from the site. The company also faced claims of censorship this month when it banned controversial figures including Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos and Louis Farrakhan, citing violations of its community standards.

Facebook has seen heavy criticism on a number of other fronts in recent years. Some were outraged when the company struggled to keep videos of the Christchurch massacre off its website, while lawmakers in countries around the world have called for tighter control of the platform over the spread of ‘fake news’

May 10, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment

Trudeau continues push to overthrow Venezuela’s government

By Yves Engler · May 10, 2019

The effort Justin Trudeau is putting into overthrowing Venezuela’s government is remarkable.

During the past 12 days the prime minister has raised the issue separately with the leaders of the EU, Spain, Japan and Cuba. On Tuesday Trudeau had a phone conversation with European Council President Donald Tusk focused almost entirely on Venezuela, according to the communiqué .“Prime Minister Trudeau reiterated his support for Interim President Juan Guaidó”, it noted.

The next day Trudeau talked to Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez about ousting president Nicolás Maduro. Venezuela is the only subject mentioned in the official release about the call.

Venezuela was also on the agenda during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Ottawa on April 28. The post meeting release noted, “during the visit, Prime Minister Abe announced Japan’s endorsement of the Ottawa Declaration on Venezuela.” Produced at an early February meeting of the “Lima Group” of governments opposed to Maduro, the “Ottawa Declaration” called on Venezuela’s armed forces “to demonstrate their loyalty to the interim president” and remove the elected president.

On May 3 Trudeau called Cuban president Miguel Díaz-Canel to pressure him to join Ottawa’s effort to oust Maduro. The release noted, “the Prime Minister, on behalf of the Lima Group, underscored the desire to see free and fair elections and the constitution upheld in Venezuela.”

Four days later foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland added to the diplomatic pressure on Havana. She told reporters, “Cuba needs to not be part of the problem in Venezuela, but become part of the solution.”

Freeland was highly active after Guaidó, Leopoldo Lopez and others sought to stoke a military uprising in Caracas on April 30. Hours into the early morning effort Freeland tweeted, “watching events today in Venezuela very closely. The safety and security of Juan Guaido and Leopoldo López must be guaranteed. Venezuelans who peacefully support Interim President Guaido must do so without fear of intimidation or violence.” She followed that up with a statement to the press noting, “Venezuelans are in the streets today demonstrating their desire for a return to democracy even in the face of a violent crackdown. Canada commends their courage and we call on the Maduro regime to step aside now.” Then Freeland put out a video calling on Venezuelans to rise up and requested an emergency video conference meeting of the Lima Group. Later that evening the coalition issued a statement labeling the attempted putsch an effort “to restore democracy” and demanded the military “cease being instruments of the illegitimate regime for the oppression of the Venezuelan people.”

Three days later Freeland attended an emergency meeting of the Lima Group in Peru. The coalition released a communique after that get together accusing Maduro’s government of protecting “terrorist groups” in Colombia.

At another Lima Group meeting in Chile on April 15 Freeland announced the fourth round of Canadian sanctions against Venezuelan officials. Forty-three individuals were added to the list of 70 leaders Canada had already sanctioned. CBC reported that the latest round of (illegal) sanctions were designed to “punish Venezuelan judges who rubber-stamped Maduro’s moves” and “lower-ranking police officials who took prominent roles in suppressing the attempt by Venezuela’s opposition to bring humanitarian aid into the country on February 23.”

The Venezuelan government responded to Canadian sanctions by denouncing Ottawa’s “alliance with war criminals that have declared their intention to destroy the Venezuelan economy to inflict suffering on the people and loot the country’s riches.” A recent Center for Economic and Policy Research report gives credence to this perspective. Written by Jeffrey Sachs and Mark Weisbrot, “Economic Sanctions as Collective Punishment: The Case of Venezuela” concluded that 40,000 Venezuelans may have died over the past two years as a result of US sanctions.

The Liberals want us to believe their campaign to oust Venezuela’s government is motivated by support for democracy and human rights. Yet in recent weeks the Trudeau government has deepened ties to repressive Middle East monarchies, gutted its promise to rein in international abuses by Canadian mining companies’ and justified Israeli violence against those living in the open-air prison known as the Gaza Strip.

Last month members of Mouvement Québécois pour la Paix interrupted a speech by Freeland at the University of Montréal to criticize Canada’s policy towards Venezuela. Activists should be disrupting Freeland and other Liberal MPs public events across the country to demand an end to their effort to overthrow the government of Venezuela.

May 10, 2019 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | , , | 3 Comments

Another Whistleblower Bites the Dust as The Intercept Adds a Third Notch to Its Burn Belt

By Whitney Webb | MintPress News | May 10, 2019

Early Thursday morning, the Department of Justice unsealed an indictment against Daniel Everette Hale — a former intelligence analyst for the U.S. Air Force and National Security Agency (NSA) and later a defense contractor working for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) — for providing a reporter with classified government information. The reporter in question, although unnamed in the indictment, is Jeremy Scahill, co-founder of and journalist for the online publication The Intercept.

The indictment against Hale makes him the third Intercept source to be charged with leaking classified information to the outlet in less than two years. Notably, both of the government whistleblowers that have already been prosecuted and convicted by the Trump administration – Reality Winner and Terry Albury – were Intercept sources who were outed as whistleblowers by reporters working for the online publication.

The publication, which has long been associated with the documents shared by whistleblower Edward Snowden, has yet to fire any of the reporters responsible for these breaches that have seen two whistleblowers already imprisoned and third, Daniel Hale, likely to be imprisoned. 

Despite its increasingly dismal track record, the publication – largely funded by government-linked tech billionaire Pierre Omidyar – continues to invite and “welcome” whistleblowers from the public and private sector and implores them to “consider sharing your information securely with us.”

“An utter failure of source protection. Again”

According to the Department of Justice website and the official indictment, Hale has been charged with obtaining national defense information, retention and transmission of national defense information, causing the communication of national defense information, disclosure of classified communications intelligence information, and theft of government property. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, meaning that Hale faces 50 years behind bars.

The indictment, which can be read in full here, details that Hale and “the reporter” (Scahill) communicated rather insecurely on several occasions, appearing at public events together, talking by phone and sending unencrypted text messages by phone.

Other information in the indictment shows that Scahill is clearly “the reporter” in question, given that “the reporter” in the indictment attended the Oscars in 2014 and held book events at the Washington, D.C. venue Busboys and Poets on April 29, 2013 and on June 8, 2013. During the June 8 book event, the indictment states that Hale was seated next to “the reporter” at an event where said reporter was promoting his book. A video taken at an event at Busboys and Poets held on June 8, 2013 shows Hale seated next to Scahill.

The indictment does not specify what led federal investigators to Hale several years after the events in question took place. Indeed, the indictment deals exclusively with events that took place between 2013 and 2015, and Hale’s house had been raided in August 2014, from which some of the evidence cited in the indictment was likely acquired. However, the Obama administration never pressed charges and it is unclear why the Trump administration has waited until now to do so, or if investigators acquired new information on Hale’s whistleblowing activities relatively recently. Hale, who appeared in the 2016 documentary National Bird about drone whistleblowers, had stated in that film that he anticipated being indicted at some point in time.

While the indictment suggests that the lack of secure communication with Scahill was a likely factor, there are other possibilities, such as the “friend” of Hale, noted in the indictment, with whom he discussed his relationship with Scahill.

Another possibility is that someone else at the Intercept other than Scahill was made aware of Hale’s identity, a point raised years ago by CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou and recently pointed out by independent journalist Caitlin Johnstone. After it was revealed that the Intercept  had obtained information from a whistleblower on drone warfare, which turned out to be Daniel Hale, in 2015, Kiriakou tweeted: “New drone whistleblower at The Intercept. For God’s sake don’t let Matthew Cole learn his identity.”

Cole, as will be noted later on in this report, has been accused by Kiriakou for outing him as a journalistic source to the federal government and, two years after Kiriakou’s tweet, was believed to have helped lead federal investigators to Intercept source Reality Winner in 2017. Thus, it is possible that Cole or another employee of the online publication had learned of Hale’s identity from Scahill and then passed it along, either intentionally or inadvertently, to the government.

Betsy Reed, editor-in-chief of the Intercept, said in a brief statement that the publication “does not comment on matters relating to the identity of anonymous sources.”

Jesselyn Radack — Hale’s lawyer, who has represented several past whistleblowers, such as Thomas Drake and Kiriakou — stated on Twitter that “unsophisticated whistleblowers” like Hale, now 31 years old but who was only 23 when he met Scahill, should not have borne the burden of keeping his identity safe. Rather, Radack wrote, such a burden fell to the journalist – particularly those working at an outlet like the Intercept that promotes its source protection capabilities (now very much in doubt).

In a separate tweet to journalist Tim Shorrock, Radack called Hale’s case “an utter failure of source protection. Again.” In other words, Hale’s lawyer – who is privy to information not contained in the publicly available indictment – asserts that a large part of the blame for Hale’s arrest was attributable to the Intercept’s, and presumably Scahill’s, behavior and failure to protect their source. The other guilty party, of course, is the Trump administration’s continuation — if not intensification — of the Obama-era crackdown on whistleblowers and journalistic sources.

The Intercept’s three-of-a-kind

For readers who may be puzzled by Radack’s use of “again” in her tweet to Shorrock, it is worth revisiting the case of the two currently imprisoned Intercept sources – Reality Winner and Terry Albury – both of whose whistleblowing activities were made known to the government as a result of poor decisions by Intercept staff.

MintPress reported on the acts by the online publication and noted that the Intercept made two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests in March 2016 for documents that the publication had already received from Albury — so the requests were an effort to “launder” or obfuscate the fact that the classified documents had been obtained from a whistleblower. Yet, both FOIA requests contained specific information identifying the names of the documents that were not publicly available, an error that led the FBI to link references contained in the requests to Albury’s activity on FBI information systems. The FBI subsequently found that documents that Albury had accessed had been later published by the Intercept.

Albury, a father of two young children, is currently serving a four-year sentence for bringing important information about the FBI’s abuse of power in relation to its counter-terrorism activities and surveillance of journalists to the public. To date, no one at the Intercept was fired in connection with Albury’s prosecution, despite the role of the FOIA requests made by the Intercept in his arrest.

Nine months prior to Albury’s arrest, Reality Winner, a federal contractor, had been arrested for giving a classified document to the Intercept. While the Intercept has long maintained that it was unaware that Winner was the source of the document, FBI documents have shown that negligence helped lead federal investigators straight to Winner. The Intercept’s scanned images of the intelligence report that Winner leaked contained tracking dots – a type of watermark – that, according to Rob Graham of the Errata Security blog, showed “exactly when and where documents, any document, is printed.” These dots make it easy to identify a printer’s serial number as well as the date and time a document was printed. As Graham noted, “Because the NSA logs all printing jobs on its printers, it can use this to match up precisely who printed the document.”

From left to right: Winner, Albury and Hale

Most concerning of all, the FBI warrant also notes that the reporter in question – who is unnamed in the document – contacted a government contractor with whom he had a prior relationship and revealed where the documents had been postmarked from – Winner’s hometown of Augusta, Georgia – along with Winner’s work location. He also sent unedited images of the documents that contained the tracking dot security markings that allowed the documents to be traced to Winner. Jesselyn Radack as well as whistleblower John Kiriakou, who served two and a half years in prison for exposing the CIA’s illegal torture program, have since asserted that Matthew Cole was the journalist mentioned in this warrant. Well prior to being hired by the Intercept, Cole’s behavior was known to have been a key factor that led to Kiriakou being outed as a confidential source, which led to his arrest. Upon learning of Hale’s arrest, Kiriakou openly speculated upon whether the outlet was incomptent or compromised.

Despite this track record, the Intercept hired Cole anyway. Cole continues to write for the Intercept and appears to have suffered no negative consequences for his alleged role in outing Winner. Intercept editor-in-chief Reed took responsibility for the acts on the part of the publication that led to Winner’s arrest and “for making sure that the internal newsroom issues that contributed to it are resolved.” Reed remains employed by the Intercept and continues to make a hefty six-figure salary. Winner is currently serving a five year and three month prison sentence for releasing a classified NSA document in relation to alleged Russian intrusion of a U.S. election software supplier.

Furthermore, journalist Barrett Brown — who served a lengthy 63-month prison sentence for linking to hacked material — has recently stated that Intercept journalist Sam Biddle played a role in his imprisonment, further worsening the optics of the publication’s track record. Brown originally faced a combined sentence of over 100 years in prison before negotiating a plea deal.

With Hale now the latest whistleblower to have been allegedly outed as a result of poor operational security by Intercept staff, the question turns to whether any of those responsible will be held accountable. Scahill, a celebrity reporter at the paper who makes over $40,000 per article, is just as unlikely as those involved in the outing of Albury and Winner to face any sort of negative consequences for failing to protect their sources, who risked (and have temporarily lost) their freedom to bring vital information to the public.

Will Omidyar’s pull keep Scahill out of hot water?

While only an indictment against Hale has been made public, Scahill may soon find himself in trouble with the Department of Justice based on information contained in that indictment.

As Moon of Alabama noted in an article detailing the charges against Hale:

The first contacts with Hale and the first leaks by Hale were in the first half of 2013, when Hale was still enlisted and worked at the NSA. In July Hale emailed a resume to Scahill which he wanted to use to find a job with a defense contractor who leases people with security clearances to other U.S. agencies. They seem to have discussed the resume by phone. Hale was later hired by such a contractor and worked at the NGIA. There he copied the secret and top secret documents and presentations that seem to be the objects of Scahill’s later reporting. That Scahill discussed Hale’s resume with him could be construed as active help to gain access to secrets that would then be leaked to The Intercept.”

Indeed, such a narrative is present within the indictment and Scahill may be pursued by the Trump Department of Justice, which has shown great zeal in prosecuting not only confidential government sources but also their publishers. Notably, the currently unsealed charges against WikiLeaks co-founder and Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange put forth a similar, though less compelling, narrative that Assange actively goaded Chelsea Manning into accessing state secrets that were subsequently given to WikiLeaks. Based on this alone, it seems likely that Scahill’s behavior as detailed in the indictment is likely to see the journalist pursued by the DOJ in some capacity, given the charges now facing Assange.

If this comes to pass, it will bode dark days for the future of American journalism that are already heralded by the indictment awaiting Julian Assange and the current imprisonment of Chelsea Manning for refusing to testify against Assange or WikiLeaks.

Yet, if Scahill evades any legal predicament on his end, it will raise many questions, most notably one of a double standard between his treatment and Assange’s treatment by the Trump DOJ, especially considering that both Scahill’s and Assange’s journalistic work has largely been unfavorable to government interests. Unlike Assange, Scahill’s publication and work are funded by eBay billionaire and the owner of PayPal, Pierre Omidyar, who is very well-connected to the public and private sector as well as to the U.S. intelligence community. Omidyar’s past public statements show hostility towards whistleblowers, whom Omidyar had likened to “thieves” prior to the Intercept’s founding.

If Scahill goes uncharged, it would likely be due to the intervention of powerful, politically-connected forces in the United States that are friendly towards Scahill, something Julian Assange lacks. Omidyar, given his ownership of the Intercept, would be the most probable person who could intervene successfully.

What did Hale’s whistleblowing reveal?

Based on the indictment, Hale is named as the source of several documents that revealed grave government wrong-doing, much of which related to the Obama administration’s expansion of the drone war and other counterterrorism programs with little or no oversight that have resulted in untold numbers of civilian deaths abroad.

One document noted in the indictment — “Document M,” which was classified as “secret” — appears in an article published in the Intercept in August 2014. That article revealed that most of the people in the government’s secret terror suspect database had no affiliation with any terror group and that the system disproportionately targeted Arab-Americans.

In addition, Documents A-F in the indictment appear to have been used in the Intercept’s “Drone Papers” series. Those documents revealed many stark truths and shocking facts about the Obama administration’s drone warfare campaign — which Trump has since significantly expanded — including the fact that U.S. drones killed innocent people 90 percent of the time, victims who were subsequently labeled “enemy combatants” regardless of their actual status.

Hale’s motive for coming forward with this information is very compelling and shows him to have risked his personal freedom in order to change a corrupt system. Cited in a 2015 article by Scahill as “the source,” Scahill wrote that Hale “decided to provide these documents to The Intercept because he believes the public has a right to understand the process by which people are placed on kill lists and ultimately assassinated on orders from the highest echelons of the U.S. government.”

Hale had said anonymously at the time:

This outrageous explosion of watchlisting — of monitoring people and racking and stacking them on lists, assigning them numbers, assigning them ‘baseball cards,’ assigning them death sentences without notice, on a worldwide battlefield — it was, from the very first instance, wrong…We’re allowing this to happen. And by ‘we,’ I mean every American citizen who has access to this information now, but continues to do nothing about it.”

To date, no one in the government has been held accountable for the killing of civilians in relation to the U.S. government’s covert drone assassination program.

The Intercept must be held accountable

Daniel Hale, just like Terry Albury and Reality Winner, is a hero. He exposed government programs that were out of control and killing innocent people around the world. Hale’s bravery helped hold the powerful to account and now Hale faces 50 years in prison, thanks to both the Trump administration’s troubling effort to double down on the persecution of whistleblowers and would-be whistleblowers as well as the actions of an employee, and potentially employees, of the Intercept.

If the Intercept will not hold itself accountable, as has thus far been the case, then it must be held accountable in the court of public opinion. Its employees must be held to account, including its celebrity journalists, for the paper’s refusal to deal with its indefensible track record of burning sources who have placed their trust in it. Concerned citizens on social media should ask Intercept journalists and the publication’s own accounts why nothing has been done and should demand that something tangible be done now that no less than three brave Americans who trusted the Intercept have found out the hard way that their trust was misplaced.

The lives of Winner, Albury and now Hale have been destroyed, in large part by the acts of a single publication that continues to market itself as “safe” for whistleblowers. While the Trump administration’s continued persecution of whistleblowers is the clear root of the problem, the fct remains that a site that advertises itself as “adversarial” to the State’s interests and as a haven for whistleblowers has aided the Trump administration in its persecution of whistleblowers, regardless of whether its operational security failures were intentional or inadvertent. If the Intercept as an organization were really so concerned with the Trump administration’s crackdown on press freedom, there would be accountability — not impunity — in such cases.

Sadly, by all appearances, the only confidential Intercept source from the public sector who was not outed by the publication and subsequently arrested was the source that prompted its formation: Edward Snowden, who “outed” himself. However, the Intercept closed its archive of the Snowden documents in late March, citing “cost” factors, despite the fact that the archive was less than 2 percent of its budget and its celebrity journalists, Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill, make over $500,000 and $349,000, respectively, leaving aside that the Intercept’s owner, Omidyar, is worth $12.7 billion.

If the Intercept continues to remain unaccountable, its track record of poor operational security and lack of concern for the risks its sources have taken could lead to the destruction of other lives. It also aggravates the chilling effect that the government’s prosecution of journalistic sources has had on those in the public sector seeking to expose government wrong-doing by narrowing their options for coming forward. Indeed, if something had been done after Winner’s case, perhaps the whistleblowing activities of neither Albury or Hale would have been made known to the government.

The Intercept claims to “hold the powerful accountable,” but such an adage will ring forever hollow until it is applied internally to its own organization and to those in its ranks who put the Trump administration on the trail of these brave whistleblowers.

Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.

May 10, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | | Leave a comment

Israel sets up fake Eurovision boycott page to counter BDS campaign

Data gathering?

RT | May 10, 2019

Sporting the URL boycotteurovision.net Israel’s PR website masquerades as part of a campaign to boycott the Eurovision song contest in Tel Aviv, but actually features pro-Israel narrative.

For most people who follow the issue, the acronym ‘BDS’ refers to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which aims to financially pressure Israel into improving treatment of Palestinians. However, according to a new website promoted via ads on Google, it now stands for how Israel is “beautiful, diverse, sensational.”

Despite the deceptive URL and the fact that the page doesn’t identify itself as run by the Israeli government, Tel Aviv’s PR ministry confirmed to Reuters that they were behind the campaign.

Meanwhile, with less than a week to go before the Eurovision takes place in Tel Aviv, the actual Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement has been ramping up its efforts to encourage people to snub the competition. They were none too pleased with the Israeli government’s latest counter-measure.

“After its theft of Palestinian land and culture, Israel is now trying to appropriate a symbol of our nonviolent resistance,” said Alia Malak, of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI).

This desperate and crude propaganda is straight out of apartheid South Africa’s playbook.

Although the competition is intended to bring countries around the world together, the contest has been politicized a number of times.

Last year’s winner, Israel’s Netta Barzilai, yelled out “Next time in Jerusalem!” after receiving the trophy for her spirited chicken-themed song ‘Toy’. The statement was seen as controversial given that not even the US had yet recognized Jerusalem as the country’s capital.

Although Israel has pulled out all the stops to assure the event will go smoothly, it comes shortly after cross-border shelling between Israel and Palestine in Gaza earlier this week. Four Israelis were killed and at least 10 injured as a result of rockets fired from Gaza, while the IDF carried out some 320 air-raids which killed 25 people and injured dozens.

May 10, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment

13 attacks by Israel settlers on Palestinians over two-week period

MEMO | May 10, 2019

Israeli settlers carried out 13 attacks against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank over a two-week period 23 April-6 May, reported United Nations OCHA.

According to the monitoring body, the attacks “resulted in the injury of three Palestinians” as well as in “damage to Palestinian property across the West Bank”.

In one incident, “a group of Israeli settlers, some of whom were armed, physically assaulted and injured three Palestinian men, who were surveying land” in Kafr Ni’ma village near Ramallah.

Meanwhile, “Israeli settlers accompanied by the Israeli army, vandalized Palestinian property in Ein Harrasheh water spring and a public park in Area B of Al Mazra’a Al Qibliya village” near Ramallah on five separate occasions over the two-week reporting period in question.

OCHA added that, “according to local community sources, Israeli settlers threw stones at two houses, harassed Palestinians, and vandalized water pipes and park infrastructure.”

In ‘Urif village near Nabuls, settlers stoned the boys’ school and surrounding houses, leading to confrontations with local residents, the settlers, and “the Israeli forces accompanying them”.

Israeli settlers also vandalised 51 olive trees, punctured the tyres of 12 Palestinian vehicles, sprayed so-called “price tag” graffiti on four Palestinian houses and caused damage to a shop in Burqa (Ramallah), Isla (Qalqiliya), Huwwara (Nablus), Al-Ganoub (Hebron) and in the H2 area of Hebron.

OCHA noted that “since the beginning of 2019, the bi-weekly average of settler attacks resulting in Palestinian casualties or property damage has witnessed a 40 and 133 per cent increase, compared to the biweekly average of 2018 and 2017.”

May 10, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | Leave a comment

Palestinian Resistance Can Intensify Deterrence in Face of Zionist Enemy: Hezbollah

Deputy Chief of Hezbollah Executive Council Sheikh Ali Daamoush
Al-Manar | May 10, 2019

Deputy Chief of Hezbollah Executive Council Sheikh Ali Daamoush stressed that the silence of some Arab regimes about the Israeli aggression on Gaza was worse than the aggression itself, adding that they showed to be on the enemy’s side, just as the US and the West.

In his Friday sermon, Sheikh Daamoush pointed out that the Zionist enemy failed to achieve the aggression’s aims, adding that the Palestinian resistance proved it had improved its military capabilities.

The Palestinian resistance has a chance to intensify its deterrence capability in face of the Zionist enemy, his eminence stressed.

In a different context, Sheikh Daamoush noted that the US sanctions on Iran expose Washington’s aggressiveness against the regional states, adding that the Islamic Republic of Iran may never bow to such pressures.

May 10, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lebanon won’t survive with Palestinian, Syrian refugees: Auon

MEMO | May 10, 2019

Lebanon will never survive if half a million Palestinian refugees and 1.6 million Syrian refugees remain in the country, the Lebanese president, Michel Aoun, said yesterday.

Aoun’s remarks came during a meeting held at the presidential palace in the Lebanese capital of Beirut with a delegation from the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC), headed by its secretary general Souraya Bechealany.

Aoun called on the MECC to help the Lebanese government resolve the Syrian refugees’ issue “by persuading Western countries to accept the refugees return to their countries as soon as possible.”

“Israel has declared that the Palestinian refugees would remain where they are,” he pointed out, warning that if the refugees remained in Lebanon, “its demographics would change completely.”

There are 174,422 Palestinian refugees currently living in 12 camps and 156 Palestinian communities across Lebanon’s five governorates, according to a report by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) in 2017.

Lebanon – with an estimated population of 4.5 million – complains of the refugees’ burden it has been facing since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon reached 997,000 by the end of November 2017, excluding the Syrians who are not registered with UNHCR.

May 10, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Where’s Tulsi? The Hill forgets Gabbard when listing candidates who qualify for primary debates

RT | May 10, 2019

A report by The Hill on Democratic candidates qualifying for the party’s debates has one glaring omission – Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

The Hill cited a New York Times report detailing all the Democratic candidates who have made the cut to appear on the debate stage during the primaries. Gabbard is among 10 candidates who have qualified by surpassing both the donation and polling thresholds, and yet she was the only one of those candidate who was missing from the Hill’s report on Thursday.

The NYT article even included a Venn diagram of all the candidates, which featured Gabbard smack bang in the middle of it. The article was from April 30 and shows San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro as having qualified only on polling, but he has since reached the donor threshold.

The Democratic National Committee rules require candidates to have raised donations from at least 65,000 unique donors with at least 200 donors in 20 different states, or hit at least one percent in at least three approved polls, to appear at the primary debates.

Gabbard’s supporters have accused elements of the mainstream media of failing to give her adequate coverage.

The first primary debates take place in Miami in June and will be split into two parts to account for the large number of candidates.

May 10, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 1 Comment

The West Is in No Position to Lecture Turkey on Democracy or Human Rights

Euro-elitist Guy Verhofstadt
By Martin Jay | Strategic Culture Foundation | May 10, 2019

April fool’s day passed a few weeks ago but when we see news from Turkey that President Erdogan is going to do a re-run of elections in Istanbul, some of us are left doing a double take. But then the jaw dropping moment which follows is not what’s going on in Turkey, a country that certainly has human rights issues, no question – but how the West lines up to chastise the country. The hypocrisy is quite amazing.

And which particular moron should stand first in line with the hilarious opprobrium other than the European Union’s own clown MEP, Guy Verhofstadt a euro-elite type who is hard ignore but well worth the effort. This former Belgian PM recently ejaculated in the European parliament his important thoughts on Turkey and Erdogan, in line with former MEPs who jump on this bandwagon when it suits their federalist interests – before retreating and allowing the circus of EU accession to rumble on in Brussels when it also suits. Right now, with only days before EU elections and record gains expected for populist parties, it was hardly surprising the odious Belgian liberal would take the stage and dutifully pour scorn on Turkey.

But there are times in the EU bubble when reality seems to have been taken over by The Truman Show. Is this for real?

The European Union, probably the most corrupt, anti-democratic, white supremacist, freemason, autocratic organization which has practically invented the handbook on fake news, corruption cover ups and how to bribe journalists and fund despots around the world, is actually holding Turkey to account on its democracy score?

“This outrageous decision highlights how Erdogan’s #Turkey is drifting towards a dictatorship” gushed the Belgian MEP in a tweet. “Under such leadership, accession talks are impossible. Full support to the Turkish people protesting for their democratic rights and for a free and open Turkey!”.

But wait. Is this the same European Union which, when questioned about Romania and Bulgaria’s colossal corruption problem in 2004 (whose judiciaries are run by mafia mobs) said “we’ll let them in and then reform them” only for journalists to be later gunned down in Bulgaria and for Romania to have so many anti-corruption organizations that hacks there joke about getting an EU grant to export it? Or, for that matter, the same EU which repeatedly calls for second elections itself when it doesn’t get the result that it requires, like in Ireland and more recently in the UK with Brexit?

This is the same European Union which signed the arrest warrant of German journalist Hans Martin-Tillack in 2003 – and handed it to Belgian police – so that the journalist’s house could be raided and his computer seized, only for him to be thrown into the back of a police van where a cop tells him “well, it’s not Burmah”?

Or the same EU, which, in the same period where it started a reform process actually just rounded up all its whistleblowers and hung them up on a meat hook as an example to deter others in the EU institutions?

The European Union has a shocking history of human rights abuses not only on its own turf but more poignantly around the world with the regimes it supports with aid. Most central African despots are supported by EU cash, which, in turn, leads to intensified human rights abuses on a grand scale – which then leads to an exodus of migrants who end up in Libya sold as slaves, raped and abused. In many country’s its own environmental programs are bogus so as to funnel slush funds to dictatorships it supports, like in Lebanon for example where its recycling and composting schemes are actually so bad that they are poisoning the country’s water and linked to increased numbers of cancer.

This is the reality of the EU’s human rights record and its own check on democracy. The list just goes on and on and befittingly it is curious that the EU’s own ‘third word country’ (Belgium) which has a shocking deficit on press freedom and is a country infamous for industrial scale pedophilia which historically was the financial basis (blackmail) to fund political parties, is the very country which produced Verhofstadt and accommodates his pathetic ramblings in the European parliament, the only assembly in the world which is so useless that MEPs can’t even initiate legislation in it.

Verhofstadt is a signed up member of the Wet Dream Society, or as it is formerly know the ‘Spinelli Group’ – a sort of freemason’s talk shop of those who believe the EU could one day be a super power and have a real foreign policy. And so it is normal for him to take the floor and deliver such stupendously boring and utterly ludicrous speeches which are delusional at best and simply an old man’s fantasy at worse. Rather like Verhofstadt’s dream in 2004 of being European Commission president – a bid blocked by Tony Blair.

But here’s the real cherry on top if you like your irony in triple doses. The European parliament operates a scheme where it subsidizes all media in their production expenses, running into hundreds of millions of euros. If it didn’t do that, most broadcasters wouldn’t report on the mind numbingly boring events there. Some might call this bribing the press as there is obviously a ‘pay back’ there in helping the EU promote itself. But Euronews, which reported in Verhofstadt’s speech and gave it great prominence, not only profits from the scheme but actually gets a massive subsidy from the Brussels annual budget itself to report on MEPs – a double whammy, so in fact, the Verhofstadt ramble is actually fake news itself. This is an institution – the European Parliament – which voted just recently to actually finance media operations to write propaganda about the EU.

You can’t actually make this stuff up.

But meanwhile, there is news from the other side of the Atlantic, a real super power, which suggests that CNN in Atlanta might send journalists to CNN Turk to train them in the art of journalism. Given that nearly all of its big named foreign reporters make up their stories when they travel the globe – Anderson Cooper, Christiana Ammanpour and Parisa Khosravi – as I was informed by Elise Labott, a ex CNN ‘reporter’ not handicapped herself by journalistic skills, then this could also be a parody, or fake news. CNN Turk is attacked by the West for being pro Erdogan, without any acknowledgement that CNN Atlanta is entirely partisan itself and regularly rigs the news in favour of Clinton or whoever will slip into her peep toes.

At least CNN will not send Labott to Istanbul, a reporter who made a career out of making stories up to such an extent that Atlanta finally had to let her go earlier in the year after at least three investigations into her fabulous lack of journalist ethics, broke all records.

May 10, 2019 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | , | Leave a comment

Washington Post Begs Trump to Save al-Qaeda in Syria Before It’s Too Late

“Time is running out”

By Marko Marjanović | Checkpoint Asia | May 10, 2019

Washington Post’s Josh Rogin:

There is little that can stop the brutal assault underway in northwest Syria, where Russian, Iranian and Assad regime forces have launched a major military offensive as millions of civilians flee for their lives. But the record shows that if President Trump acts to try to halt the slaughter, it will have real impact on the ground. Even a presidential tweet could save lives. Time is of the essence.

LOL, “millions” of civilians? There are about 2.5 million under rebels in Idlib, if millions are fleeing who is left?

Of course every Syrian/Russian offensive is a “brutal assault”. The Empire meanhile plants flowers and throws candy from its aeroplanes. It must have been diabates that killed 1,600 civilians in Raqqa and 9,000 in Mosul.

There’s a lot going on right now in U.S. foreign policy. The Trump administration is dealing with an escalating Iran crisis, North Korea missile firings, a shaky China trade negotiation and an attempt to oust the Venezuelan regime. It’s no mere coincidence that Bashar al-Assad and Moscow chose this moment to retake the last rebel-held area of Syria using scorched-earth tactics, committing atrocities along the way.

The region of Idlib holds about 3 million civilians, including 1 million children, who were moved there from across the country because they would not submit to the Assad regime. And now there is deafening silence from the international community about their brutal slaughter.

James F. Jeffrey, the State Department’s special envoy for Syria, told me the U.S. government sees a “major escalation” by the regime and its allies in Idlib and is working diplomatic channels to de-escalate the fighting.

“We are raising this at every level with the Russians,” he said. “Any major operation into Idlib would be a reckless escalation of the conflict.”

It’s a reckless escalation to smash al-Qaeda when it’s the Syrians/Russians doing it. And when al-Qaeda is Empire’s battering ram against Damscus.

Assad is dependent on Russian air power, and Moscow has committed a lot of it to the assault, Jeffrey said. That means Moscow is flagrantly violating the cease-fire and de-escalation agreement it signed with Turkey last year in Sochi, Russia.

Why is an agreement Russia signed with Turkey any business of the US and the Washington Post ?

So far, Moscow is ignoring Jeffrey’s warnings. The Turkish government, which saw its outpost in Idlib shelled, seems unable or unwilling to stop the onslaught.

In other words, Russians and Turks have an understanding and there is no breech of agreement.

But history shows that when Trump decides to intervene in Syria to protect civilians, Moscow listens.

In April 2017, when Trump first launched missiles at the Syrian regime, he was responding to a chemical weapons attack in Idlib that looked to be the beginning of the very offensive we are seeing now. Trump’s actions persuaded Assad and Russia to back down.

After a Syrian activist told Trump at a fundraiser that the assault on Idlib was beginning again, the president tweeted last September that Assad “must not recklessly attack Idlib” and that Russia and Iran must not support a “potential human tragedy.” The tweet worked.

“It stopped. You saw that. And nobody’s going to give me credit, but that’s okay,” Trump said at the time. “Millions of people would have been killed. And that would have been a shame,” he said.

Erdogan did most of the work to halt that offensive, but it’s possible Trump’s threats played a part as well.

Now Moscow is testing Trump again. So far, the president is silent. That has a cascading effect inside the U.S. national security system. Several people who work with U.S. government agencies on the ground in Syria told me that U.S. officials throughout the bureaucracy are waiting on Trump to signal his intent before they move to engage in Idlib.

Actually Moscow is doing no such thing. Defending al-Qaeda in Idlib does not have to be America’s job if Washington doesn’t make it so.

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) understands the importance of Trump’s verbal cues. He tweeted at the president this week asking him to speak up and protect Idlib. Putin surely also understands that in the United States’ Syria policy, only Trump’s words really matter. Trump and Putin spoke for about an hour last week, but it is unknown what, if anything, they discussed about Syria.

Meanwhile, Russian planes are targeting residential areas and hospitals and then killing aid workers responding to those attacks, said Raed Al Saleh, founder of the Syria Civil Defense, a civilian rescue organization better known as the White Helmets. In Idlib, he said, the regime has resumed the use of barrel bombs and white phosphorus, weapons of mass atrocity and mass displacement.

Don’t forget the kitten shelters.

Public estimates of 150,000 newly displaced people are just the beginning, said Saleh. Millions of people are preparing to “form caravans like in El Salvador” to head for Europe. “These people see the international community is not willing to do anything to keep them safe in their homes,” he said.

Syria has 5 million refugees outside the country and 6 million displaced internally courtesy of the Empire weaponizing salafi jihad against it. Would crushing al-Qaeda and stabilizing the country encourage them to return? Would the US tolerate al-Qaeda carving out an enclave of 2 million people on its territory?

Several schools in Idlib supported by U.S. aid organizations are now at grave risk. Thirty of those organizations wrote to Trump asking him to give the signal so the U.S. government can snap into action.

“Only you are able to direct our government to use every tool and resource at our disposal for the protection of civilians in Idlib Province,” they wrote.

Syrians will remember that the world abandoned them in their time of most dire need. The fresh atrocities will fuel more extremism. The new refugee crisis will further destabilize Turkey, the Middle East and Europe.

It’s bizarre that the fate of millions could hinge on whether Trump decides to speak up to protect them. But that is where we are. So please, Mr. President, tweet something, say something, do something — anything — before it’s too late. The people of Idlib will give you credit, if they survive.

You kind of lose the moral high ground of being an “aid organization” when you start begging your government to cruise missile another country.

May 10, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite | , , | Leave a comment

US-Iran Conflict – Europe Indulges Washington’s Aggression

Strategic Culture Foundation | May 10, 2019

Iran’s announcement this week that it is suspending participation in the international nuclear accord is regrettable. But it is hardly unexpected, given the unrelenting provocations by the United States towards the Islamic Republic.

The latest provocation by Washington was the purported dispatch of a naval carrier strike group and B-52 nuclear-capable heavy bombers to the Persian Gulf. That US move was claimed to be based on “security concerns”, which in their vapidity and vagueness should prompt contempt from other observers. Especially, too, because the US concerns of alleged Iranian “aggression” were delivered by none other than John Bolton, the national security advisor to President Trump, who has a long and sordid personal history of telling lies in order to justify American wars in the Middle East.

Iran’s warning that it will walk away completely from the 2015 nuclear accord, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as it is formally known, marks a reprehensible unwinding of international diplomacy. The JCPOA was signed by Iran, Russia, China, the US and European Union (France, Germany and Britain) after several years of rigorous negotiations. The deal finally signed in July 2015 was ratified by the UN Security Council. The accord is thus mandated by the highest authority of international law. It is the American side under the Trump administration which has done everything imaginable to trash the treaty, primarily by abrogating its signature one year ago.

Furthermore, the Trump administration has ratcheted up economic sanctions on Iran, in particular on the country’s vital oil trade. Recently, Trump announced the US was cancelling waivers on eight nations which had continued to import Iranian crude, including China, India and Japan, thereby indicating that Washington was intent on imposing a global stranglehold on Iran’s economy. The US moves are a total repudiation of the nuclear accord. Indeed, arguably, they constitute an act of war.

Tehran originally signed the deal with the unprecedented commitment to curb its nuclear enrichment activities. It was a generous concession by Iran – an unprecedented self-imposed restriction and forfeiture of its legal right to enrich uranium as a long-time signatory to the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Iran did that to assuage American claims it was secretly trying to build nuclear weapons, something which Tehran has consistently denied, saying that its nuclear industry is dedicated to civilian purposes, as the NPT permits.

Despite over a dozen on-site inspections of Iranian facilities by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, which have all verified Iran’s full compliance with the terms of the nuclear accord, Washington has done everything to impede Iran from benefiting from sanctions relief, which Iran is legally entitled to from implementation of the JCPOA.

Iran’s economy has suffered greatly from the ongoing de facto blockade that the US has imposed, an abuse of power owing to the latter’s influence on global banking and the dominance of the American dollar in oil trade. Washington’s provocations have risen to new heights with the recent US designation of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps as a “terrorist organization”. Claims by Washington that Iran is engaged in covertly sponsoring regional terrorism are groundless, and indeed bitterly ironic given American complicity in sponsoring state and non-state terrorism.

In any case, the alarming stand-off that has emerged between the US and Iran is indisputably the consequence of Washington’s bad faith and irrational aggression towards Tehran. Iran is responding by notifying its cancellation of the JCPOA, and also if it is attacked military by the US it will block the vital oil trade route known as the Strait of Hormuz, the Persian Gulf outlet through which a quarter of the world’s daily shipped oil passes. If the stand-off goes that way, then the world will witness an economic meltdown, if not a military conflagration.

This week when Iran announced its intention to suspend participation in the nuclear accord, the European powers reacted by remonstrating with Tehran for not upholding the JCPOA. China and Russia called on all sides to comply with the treaty. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov went further and said that Washington must take responsibility for the dire state of affairs. The European powers have hardly implemented the JCPOA beyond paying lip service over the past four years. They have pathetically ceded to Washington’s outrageous intimidation of “secondary sanctions” hitting legitimate European investment and trade with Iran. How’s that for monstrous arrogance? Washington is no longer a signatory to the JCPOA – a deplorable violation in itself – but in addition it wants to tear up the signatures of others who intend to abide by the treaty.

Rather than admonishing Iran for its intended suspension of the JCPOA, the European Union should be siding with Russia, China and the UN in fully backing the JCPOA and, what’s more, expressing its full condemnation of the US for making a mockery of international diplomacy and law. By not doing so, the Europeans are only indulging Washington’s worst instincts for aggression. And the rest of the world may pay a severe price for this indulgence and lack of European integrity and independence.

May 10, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Wars for Israel | , , | Leave a comment