Aletho News


Israel floods farmlands with rainwater in eastern Gaza

MEMO | January 22, 2021

The Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture announced on Thursday that Israel had vented its dams for rainwater harvesting, leading to the flooding of farmlands near the Gaza Strip’s eastern borders and the destruction of vast agricultural areas.

Israel has built several dams to collect and use rainwater and vents it without warning when large quantities of water accumulate during the winter, causing damage to the Gaza Strip’s farm and agricultural lands.

Ahmed Fatayer, director of the ministry’s branch in Gaza, disclosed that Israel: “Has opened the rainwater dams east of the Shuja’iyya neighbourhood in the east of the Gaza Strip, which led to flooding hundreds of dunams of agricultural land.”

In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency, Fatayer indicated that Palestinian farmers have suffered “great losses and direct and indirect damage” due to the sudden venting of dams.

He pointed out that Israel has been venting the dams and flooding agricultural land belonging to Palestinian citizens in recent years.

Salem Quta, one of the affected farmers, conveyed that the Palestinian landowners have suffered significant losses due to the flooding of their agricultural areas.

“About 400 dunams (one dunam equals 1,000 metres) were directly flooded with water, while 150 dunams were indirectly damaged by the flow of rainwater,” Quta told Anadolu Agency.

The farmer explained that the flooding of agricultural lands occurred when the crops he was growing during recent months were about to ripen.

Quta confirmed that in addition to flooding agricultural areas, Israel also: “Sprays chemical pesticides on the crops, which ends up destroying them, in addition to clearing the land.”

He called on human rights organisations and institutions to stand with the Palestinian farmers and support them to resist these violations.

January 21, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 9 Comments

Biden To Keep Up Trump’s Venezuela Regime-Change Policy

By Tyler Durden | Zero Hedge | January 20, 2021

The Biden administration has said it will continue to formally recognize Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as president of Venezuela, despite Nicolás Maduro clearly being the actual leader of the socialist country.

Biden’s nominee for secretary of state Anthony Blinken told Senators on Tuesday that Guaido will be the recognized leader, a policy which began in January 2019 when the opposition leader dubbed himself ‘Interim President’ and also ‘Acting President’ at the encouragement of Washington during Trump admin attempts to foment a military and popular uprising against Maduro.

During his remarks Blinken also indicated the new administration will keep up the sanctions. “We need an effective policy that can restore Venezuela to democracy, starting with free and fair elections,” he said.

He said Biden will seek “more effectively target” economic punitive measures in efforts to make Maduro step aside and allow Juan Guaido to take up position, according to Reuters.

Blinkin further said he believes the US should not enter into negotiations with Maduro for the end of sanctions or some kind of relief, but instead vowed that Caracas must “really feel the pain”.

Currently the OPEC nation is gaining help from Iran and Russia in circumventing a US oil and fuel blockade. US sanctions aim to prevent crude being exported out and gasoline being imported for domestic use (Venezuela’s derelict refineries have been incapable of processing enough fuel to keep up domestic demand).

While Guaido is also recognized as president by over a dozen US allies, the majority of countries – including powerful Russia and China – do not.

January 21, 2021 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

Red Cross: US adding Yemen’s Houthis to terrorist list will have ‘chilling effect’ on humanitarian aid

RT | January 14, 2021

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has said it is worried that the US designating Yemen’s Houthi rebels as a terrorist group will severely hurt much-needed humanitarian aid to the war-torn country.

“In particular, the ICRC is concerned about the possible ‘chilling effect’ the designation may have on humanitarian action, leading to it being impeded or delayed,” the agency’s director of operations, Dominik Stillhart, said in a statement.

“Increased operational risks and possible de-risking from the banking and private sectors in response to the designation ultimately may constrain the humanitarian response in Yemen.”

Stillhart urged the US government to consider “humanitarian carve-outs” from their designation in order to mitigate any negative impact on the “affected population.”

On January 10, the US added the Houthis, the Iranian-backed rebel force which seized Yemen’s capital, Sanaa in 2014, to its list of foreign terrorist organizations. Three Houthi leaders were also separately designated as global terrorists.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the move is intended to hold the Houthi movement accountable for “its terrorist acts, including cross-border attacks threatening civilian populations, infrastructure, and commercial shipping.”

A Saudi Arabia-led coalition of Gulf states launched an intervention against the Houthis in 2015, carrying out a devastating aerial bombing campaign. The Houthis responded by launching missiles into Saudi Arabia.

Three ICRC workers were among the dozens killed in an ambush on Aden International Airport on December 30, as the newly-formed cabinet for the government-controlled parts of the country landed back in Yemen from Riyadh. The Houthis have been blamed for the attack, but denied responsibility.

In early December, the UN reported that at least 233,000 people have perished during the five years of war, including 131,000 who died from the lack of food, health services, and infrastructure. The UN’s humanitarian office in Yemen projected that 24.3 million people there will need some form of humanitarian aid this year.

January 15, 2021 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , | 3 Comments

India arrests 75 in restive Kashmir following local polls

Press TV | December 26, 2020

Indian authorities have arrested at least 75 Kashmiri political leaders and activists in anticipation of an uprising following the triumph of an alliance of Kashmir’s regional political parties in a local election, a senior police official unveiled.

Those arrested included pro-independence leaders and members of the banned Jamat-e-Islami group, who were rounded up in what the government described as preventive custody, the official told Reuters on the condition of anonymity.

The detentions challenge the verdict of the people, said Imran Nabi Dar, spokesman for regional party, the National Conference, and a key member of the alliance.

The District Council election that ended early this week was the first such exercise since the government of India’s ultra-nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked the special status of the Muslim-majority region under its control last year.

Authorities in New Delhi then waged a crackdown on opposition activists in the restive region and rounded up hundreds of people in purported efforts to forestall protests and violence.

The alliance’s latest victory confirms that Kashmiris have not accepted Modi’s decision to end Kashmir’s special status, said Omar Abdullah, a former chief minister and head of the National Conference.

Following their release from prolonged detention, Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, chief of the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Democratic Party, announced the alliance in October aimed at seeking a peaceful restoration of Kashmir’s autonomy.

Meanwhile, the elections in Kashmir appear to have paved the way for other electoral processes in the volatile region. However, many say this ballot has made people of Kashmir politically aware of the fact that New Delhi is trying to thrust such an electoral process in order to create the impression that normalcy has taken hold after it stripped Kashmir of its autonomy, without actually working on building trust and bridging the gaps.

India last year scrapped the semi-autonomy of its part of Kashmir. New Delhi unilaterally introduced a slew of laws that locals say are aimed at shifting the region’s demographics and economically disempowering local residents.

Modi’s government revoked the New Delhi-controlled Jammu and Kashmir’s special status last year and claimed at the time that ending Kashmir’s special status was necessary for closer integration of the territory into the rest of India.

New Delhi’s approach towards the region has been widely criticized as being an extension of its tolerating instances of egregious discrimination and occasional deadly attacks against Muslims on the mainland.

Kashmir has long been a flash point between India and Pakistan, which have fought three of their four wars over the disputed Himalayan territory. Both countries rule parts of Kashmir while claiming it in full. Thousands of people have been killed since early 1990s.

December 26, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment

Church in Germany Finally Acknowledges Witch Burnings Centuries Ago

By Andrei Dergalin – Sputnik – 24.12.2020

While victims of the witch trials were usually tried by courts that weren’t directly linked to the church, some argue that the church is also to blame due to the nature of the accusations during such proceedings.

Catholic priests in the German city of Eichstätt have recently acknowledged the demise of around 400 people who were tortured and killed there between the 15th and the 18th century after being accused of witchery, The Independent reports.

Having promised to install a memorial plaque, Gregor Maria Hanke, the town’s bishop, described the events as a “bleeding wound in the history of our church,” with the newspaper pointing out that his church “has kept its mouth quite firmly shut on the matter for 400 or so years.”

“It’s good that they’ve done something but of course it’s not nearly enough,” said Wolfram Kastner, the man “credited with the Eichstätt diocese’s examination of its past,” and who launched his campaign back in 2017 after discovering “the original interrogation transcripts” in the city.

While victims of witch trials were usually tried by courts that weren’t directly linked to the church, the newspaper notes, campaigners say the church is also to blame, due “to the doctrine about witches and the devil” being used during such proceedings.

“The church was scared of the Reformation and the witch trials were a means to combat it,” said Hartmut Hegeler, a retired German pastor who started a campaign in 2011 that has witnessed over 50 towns apologising “for the part they had to play in witch burning.”

Hegeler also added that back then, people who turned away from Catholicism were “labelled as being in a league with the devil” and it worked.

December 25, 2020 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , | 2 Comments

US continues its long history of using death squads, this time in Afghanistan. This is nothing but horrifying

By Daniel Kovalik | RT | December 23, 2020

The dark story of the CIA running death squads in Afghanistan recently broken by the Intercept follows a very long pattern of US foreign policy going back to the 1960s.

According to The Intercept, “Beginning in December 2018 and continuing for at least a year, Afghan operatives believed to belong to an elite CIA-trained paramilitary unit known as 01, in partnership with U.S. special operations forces and air power, unleashed a campaign of terror against civilians.” This unit carried out night raids in which they reportedly killed civilians, including children. In one night raid alone, targeting a religious school known as a madrassa, 12 children were killed.

The use of such death squads to kill civilians is shocking, but it is not at all surprising given the US’ long-time use of death squads to destroy insurrectionary movements in the developing world. Indeed, it is fair to say that it is standard operating procedure for the US.

The very idea for the modern use of death squads traces its roots back to the early 1960s when US General William P. Yarborough first conceived of them as an instrument to advance US economic interests by violently destroying the progressive social movements in Latin America which began to emerge at the time in response to the Cuban Revolution and the Second Vatican Council which inspired the rise of Liberation Theology and the focus on uplifting the poor.

However, as an article by the Wilson Center notes, the idea of death squads goes back even farther than the 1960’s, reflecting “decades of accumulated experience, beginning with the US effort to squelch Filipino independence after the War of 1898. It also reflected European imperial practices, including the British in Malaya and French in Algeria.”

General Yarborough’s idea of institutionalizing death squads in the modern era was motivated by a desire to get around the growing human rights concerns of the international community by having unofficial, secret military outfits which could give plausible deniability to both the US government and the government of US client states. In other words, they would, in the words of General Yarborough, be a “hidden weapon . . . of hired killers” which would carry out the dirty war which the regular troops “cannot do officially.”

The US would first try out its death squad program in Colombia to destroy the progressive movement there being led by radical peasants, trade unionists and Liberation Catholic priests. These death squads continue to this day.

The US would go on to utilize death squads in other Latin American countries, most famously in El Salvador. Most notably, the US-backed death squads in El Salvador would carry out the murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero, declared a saint by Pope Francis, in 1980, and then the murder of six Jesuit priests in 1989 – these high-profile murders of clergy would punctuate the beginning and the end of the brutal Salvadoran civil war which would claim the lives of 75,000 Salvadorans.

In Honduras, the US has utilized death squads for decades to suppress various left-wing and progressive movements there as well as to harass neighboring states such as Nicaragua and its Sandinista-led government. As writer T.J. Coles explains, under President Ronald Reagan, the US “launched psychological operations against domestic leftism in Honduras. This involved morphing a special police unit into a military intelligence squad guilty of kidnap, torture, and murder: Battalion 316. Inducing a climate of fear in workers, union leaders, intellectuals, and human rights lawyers is a way of ensuring that progressive ideas like good healthcare, free education, and decent living standards don’t take root.”

While Battalion 316 was disbanded in the early 1990s, the US created a new death squad unit after the successful US-backed coup in Honduras in 1989 to suppress left-wing anti-coup groups in that country. As Coles explains, with funding by the US Southern Command, “the 250-person Special Response Security Unit (TIGRES) was established near Lepaterique. The TIGRES are trained by the U.S. Green Berets or 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) and described by the U.S. Army War College as a ‘paramilitary police force.’” The TIGRES continue to operate in Honduras today with significant US support.

But the US has not limited its use of death squads to Latin America. Thus, it would go on to use death squads in Vietnam as part of the CIA’s infamous Phoenix Program through which around 20,000 Vietnamese were assassinated.

The US would also use death squads in Iraq after the 2003 invasion, openly referring to its program there as the ‘Salvador Option’. The ‘Salvador Option’ was brought to Iraq by retired US Colonel Jim Steele who had helped develop the death squad program in El Salvador in the 1980’s.

In Iraq, the US unleashed Shia death squad units against “the Sunni population as well as the insurgents and their supporters and anyone else who was unlucky enough to get in the way. It was a classic counterinsurgency,” the Guardian reported. “It was also letting a lethal, sectarian genie out of the bottle. The consequences for Iraqi society would be catastrophic. At the height of the civil war two years later 3,000 bodies a month were turning up on the streets of Iraq — many of them innocent civilians of sectarian war.”

For some time, the US was also carrying out the ‘Salvador Option’ in Syria in an attempt to destabilize the Assad government there.

The most recent revelations about the CIA-backed death squad unit in Afghanistan demonstrates that America’s deadly imperial project continues into the 21st century. This project is a reactionary one, designed as it is to suppress independent, anti-colonial movements, many times with goals to create more economically just and equitable societies.

For all of its chest-thumping about spreading human rights and democracy throughout the world, the US, at heart, remains the preeminent force in the world against national liberation, and the means it uses to carry out this retrograde project is nothing less than horrifying.

Daniel Kovalik teaches International Human Rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, and is author of the recently-released No More War: How the West Violates International Law by Using “Humanitarian” Intervention to Advance Economic and Strategic Interests.

December 23, 2020 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Remembering the Intifada and its prisoners of freedom: “Ansar III: The Camp of Slow Death”

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network | December 9, 2020

The great Palestinian popular intifada (uprising) that mobilized, organized and unified the Palestinian masses – especially inside occupied Palestine, but also in the refugee camps, in exile and in diaspora – launched in December 1987. As we recall its 33rd anniversary, we note that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians – some estimates reaching up to 600,000 – were arrested, detained and imprisoned by Israeli occupation forces during the Intifada.

There, they experienced severe torture under interrogation, harsh conditions of confinement, medical neglect and abuse, collective punishment and home demolitions targeting their families, brutal beatings and mistreatment and the widespread and systematic use of administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial. Inside the prisons, however, despite all forms of repression, generations of Palestinian organizers developed “revolutionary schools” of politics, literature and organizing, developing powerful young activists to return to the streets embroiled in a great popular uprising.

In a failed attempt to suppress the Intifada, the Israeli occupation launched new prison camps and detention centers to hold the thousands of Palestinians detained in mass arrests throughout occupied Palestine. The following historical booklet, published in English in 1988 by ROOTS and Friends of Palestinian Prisoners, focuses on one such prison camp: Ansar III, “a barbed wire compound in the heart of the Negev desert.” At the time of the booklet’s publication, Janet Jubran of the Friends of Palestinian Prisoners noted in her introduction, “In one year, since the Intifada began, more than 25,000 Palestinians have been arrested. At this moment, nearly every family has one or more of its members in prison.”

This powerful booklet, including documentation, testimony and facts about Ansar III and its Palestinian prisoners – including many labor leaders, human rights defenders and journalists – was a part of the burgeoning organizing of Palestinian communities in exile and diaspora (in this case, in the United States) and the growing movement of international solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network is republishing this booklet today, on the 33rd anniversary of the Intifada, to bring this important historical document to new audiences, continuing to build upon this legacy of struggle, standing with the Palestinian prisoners and the Palestinian people in their struggle for liberation and return. 

Download the PDF here: Download PDF

December 9, 2020 Posted by | Book Review, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

UN calls for probe into Israel’s use of armed force against children

Palestine Information Center – December 2, 2020

RAMALLAH – The UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner has called for a transparent investigation into the use of armed force by Israeli soldiers against Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank.

The UN Human Rights Office said that the Israeli forces critically injured at least four children with live ammunition and rubber-coated metal bullets in separate incidents across the West Bank in the past two weeks.

“All injuries resulted from the use of potentially lethal force in circumstances where available information suggests the children did not pose a threat to life or serious injury of the soldiers or to anyone else.”

“It thus appears the force used was not in accordance with international law,” the Human Rights Office said in a statement, pointing out that a 16-year-old boy was shot in the chest and critically injured in al-Bireh city on November 29.

“On 27 November, during protests in Kafr Qaddum village in the north of the West Bank, soldiers shot a 16-year old boy in the head with a rubber-coated metal bullet. The boy fell from the impact and is hospitalized with a fractured skull.”

“On November 17, a 15-year old boy on his way back from school lost his right eye after being hit by ricochet ammunition in Qalandia refugee camp north of Jerusalem. Although there were clashes taking place between soldiers and residents of the camp, none of the available information suggests the boy would have posed a threat to anyone at the time he was shot,” the statement elaborated.

“UN Human Rights Office calls on Israel to promptly, transparently and independently investigate all instances of (Israeli army) use of force that have led to killing or injury and to hold those responsible accountable,” the statement said.

“In accordance with international law, use of lethal force is only allowed as a measure of last resort, in response to a threat to life or of serious injury. Stone-throwing does not appear to constitute such threat. In addition, force must always be used in a manner which causes the least possible harm. Shooting in the head or upper body does not appear to conform with this requirement.”

“Children enjoy special protection under international law and must be protected from violence at all times.”

December 3, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | 4 Comments

French former interior minister accused of concealing evidence in death of 80yo killed by riot police tear gas grenade in her home

RT | December 2, 2020

The daughter of an 80-year-old woman killed when a tear gas grenade was fired into her apartment by French riot police two years ago has filed a legal complaint against former Interior Minister Christophe Castaner over the death.

In 2018, Zineb Redouane was closing the shutters of her flat in Marseille when she was struck by the canister, fired during a Yellow Vest demonstration. Experts estimated it had been travelling at more than 97km/h when it hit her chest and face, and she died in hospital shortly thereafter. A report earlier this year into the incident cleared the police of any wrongdoing.

However, a recent investigation conducted by the French non-governmental organization Disclose, using reconstructions by a research group at the University of London, contradicted that report and alleged that the officer who had fired the canister was targeting residential homes.

As a result of the NGO’s findings, Redouane’s daughter, Milfed, has now lodged a legal complaint against Castaner, who was the interior minister at the time of her mother’s death.

Her daughter’s lawyer, Yassine Bouzrou, has repeatedly accused the former minister and others of obstructing justice, and now, in the formal complaint, is accusing him of concealing and interfering with evidence.

Castaner, who currently leads the ruling La République En Marche! party, has repeatedly claimed Redouane’s death was not linked with the tear gas grenade. In 2019, pronouncing claims that police killed her as false, he told France’s Inter radio station, “We must stop this talk of police violence”.

The complaint will now be heard before the Cour de Justice de la République – a special court that was set up to try cases of ministerial misconduct.

December 2, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Subjugation - Torture | , | Leave a comment

Brutal police beating of maskless French man hints at frightening future for locked-down Europe

By Damian Wilson | RT | November 27, 2020

A shocking video of French police beating up a man who wasn’t wearing a mask showed the authorities’ iron-fist approach to enforcing regulations and suppressing protests. Will this be the new norm when the pandemic has passed?

A British shopper recently spotted by police failing to wear a face mask decided to heap abuse on the hapless copper patiently explaining the rules to her before she simply flung her basket to the ground and strolled off without a care in the world. All very British, and no one was hurt – but it illustrated the frustration normal people are feeling over this never-ending pandemic.

Meanwhile, in Paris, a young, black music producer leaving his studio without wearing a face mask was spied by three policemen who set upon him and forced him back into his studio, where they kicked, punched and beat him with a truncheon for five minutes before he managed, with the help of friends, to bundle them out the door.

That didn’t deter the trio of plod as they tossed tear-gas grenades through the window to flush their prey from safety so he could be arrested.

The young chap, identified only as Michel, was later released without charge or having to pay the €135 fine for failing to comply with face-mask rules in Paris. The three policemen involved have been suspended from duty after it emerged that the entire incident was caught on a studio video camera.

And while it would be right to flag up clear concerns of racism surrounding this assault, looking at what prompted this inexplicable outburst of violence from law enforcement officers is even more disturbing.

It wasn’t police on the lookout for yet another terrorist, or a bank robber or wanted fugitive. It was all about not wearing a face mask. This is what we have come to.

And it’s not just France. In Berlin last week, police fired water cannon and pepper spray at a crowd of people, including children, protesting against Germany’s coronavirus restrictions. In the aftermath, police justified the action saying people were refusing to wear face masks. So you blast them with water?

Spain, which suffered a particularly restrictive 100-day lockdown, has also seen trouble. On top of street protests by families missing their loved ones, there have been running battles with the police, barricades set on fire, and shops looted across the country.

Likewise in Italy, where even the Mafia is alleged to have joined in the looting and trashing of property, all in the guise of a coronavirus protest. Police there also used tear gas to disperse the crowds.

And it’s not just these nations. Protests in the UK have attracted thousands, the USA has seen violence flare at street marches, there have been rallies across the globe – Argentina, Brazil, Nigeria, Serbia, Russia, Australia, South Africa, Mexico. Even in countries most of us would struggle to find on a map, like Malawi.

Everywhere, the riot police have steamed in to break up crowds, leading to countless clashes and arrests creating even further upset. Is this where we are now? This is what this infernal Covid-19 virus has driven us to? Police in riot gear using batons, shields, water cannon and tear gas on their fellow citizens who are venting their anger, having become simply tired of being cooped up indoors?

Back in Paris, the young music producer who had been assaulted told journalists outside police headquarters that “people who should have been protecting me attacked me. I did nothing to deserve this.”

Anyone expecting some sort of climbdown from their government and public health officials has no doubt given up waiting by this point. Across the world, people are preparing for a crappy Christmas and grim warnings that breaching restrictions will mean a terrible price to be paid come the new year.

In France, the controversial new global security law has passed its first legislative stage, meaning anyone taking a photo or filming on-duty police that enables them to be identified faces a year in prison and a whopping €45,000 fine.

Prime Minister Jean Castex has suggested the government may backtrack on the controversial law but it’s naive to believe there’s any real honesty in that claim.

Meanwhile, French police will continue to pursue their thuggery, beating and teargassing innocent citizens, tipping people from their tents when clearing temporary camps of asylum seekers and trampling over protestors at will. Anyone caught filming them will simply be arrested and flung in jail.

No doubt this sort of behaviour will be repeated across the globe at organised protests against coronavirus restrictions wherever they may be. The lingering concern is that once this cursed pandemic passes, will things return to normal, where those we expect to protect us do just that?

Or has there been a subtle but sinister shift towards a more brutal state in many countries, where governments have been emboldened by newly tried and tested authoritarianism? Let’s see what answer to that 2021 brings.

Damian Wilson is a UK journalist, ex-Fleet Street editor, financial industry consultant and political communications special advisor in the UK and EU.

November 27, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , | 1 Comment

Could a Biden Presidency Mean Return to Humanitarian Bombing of ‘Pax Obama’?

By James Tweedie – Sputnik – 25.11.2020

After the ‘America First’ foreign policy of Donald Trump – the first elected US president since Dwight Eisenhower not to start a major war – Joe Biden’s election portends a re-run of the Obama years, when the promise of peace was betrayed.

Joe Biden says his cabinet appointments show “America is back” on the world stage – but is that really a good thing?

With former vice-president Biden looking increasingly secure in his claim on the White House despite ongoing legal challenges to the election process, how will his choices for his governing team shape foreign and domestic policy?

But Biden’s presidency is already looking like an unofficial third term for Barack Obama, with a host of familiar faces packing the White House. And with many of the architects of the last Democratic president’s foreign policy back in charge, will the world see a return to the ‘Pax Obama’ of ‘humanitarian bombing’ and regime-change after four years of President Donald Trump’s America First policy?

Foreign Intervention

Antony Blinken, Biden’s designate for secretary of state, was deeply involved in Obama’s string of overseas proxy wars as deputy national security advisor and deputy secretary of state.

Blinken supported the US-led NATO bombing campaign on Libya in support of the overthrow of the Green Revolution and the murder of its leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

He also publicly justified the transfer of arms from Libya to sectarian militants attempting to overthrow the Syrian government, and was described by the Washington Post as “one of the government’s key players in drafting Syria policy” – which he frequently defended to Congress and the media, even as money weapons and recruits ended up in the arms of al-Qaeda and Daesh.

Blinken was also a point-man for Obama’s material support for the Saudi-led bombing and invasion of Yemen, which aid agencies say has caused a nationwide famine. His appointment belies Biden’s campaign-trail opposition to the Saudi war on its southern neighbour.

Speaking in the Saudi capital Riyadh in 2015, he said the bombing campaign sent a “strong message to the Houthis and their allies that they cannot overrun Yemen by force” – in reference to the sitting Yemeni government. “As part of that effort, we have expedited weapons deliveries, we have increased our intelligence sharing, and we have established a joint coordination planning cell in the Saudi operation centre.”​Blinken supported Israel’s 2014 bombing of the Gaza Strip and has also signalled that Biden will maintain Israeli military dominance in the Middle East. Recently he said the new administration would reverse Trump’s decision to allow the sale of Lockheed F-35 Lightning II stealth attack jets to the United Arab Emirates in a “quid pro quo” for normalising relations with Tel Aviv.

Blinken has also taken a hard line on whistle-blowers, both domestic and foreign. He has previously said that National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden should return to the US from Russia and face trial, and that he wished the Obama administration could have found a way to charge Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

Like Obama, Biden has promised to end the “forever wars” in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the Trump administration signed a peace accord with the Taliban and is withdrawing troops.

But Blinken said this week that could simply mean major troop deployments would be replaced by “discrete, small-scale, sustainable operations, maybe led by special forces to support local actors” – precisely the model used in Syria against the will of its government. He also repeated unfounded claims that Russia had put bounties on the heads of US troops in Afghanistan.

Biden’s appointment of Avril Haines, a lawyer like himself and running-mate Kamala Harris, as the first female Director of National Intelligence is not a good omen for human rights. As deputy director the Central Intelligence Agency under Obama, she worked with director John Brennan on the policy of “targeted killings” in drone strikes in nations with which the US was not at war.

The American Civil Liberties Union was highly critical of that policy, and cast doubt on the Obama administration’s 2015 claim that it had only killed between 64 and 116 “non-combatants” – as a euphemism for innocent civilians – since Obama took office in 2009. The ACLU quoted figures from journalists and human rights groups of between 200 and 1,000 civilian killing.

Haines also overruled the CIA’s inspector-general to drop charges against agents who snooped on Senate staffers working on the congressional report into the spy agency’s use of torture. She later backed Trump’s 2018 appointment of current CIA Director Gina Haspel, who had herself been accused of involvement in torture.

“This is a pretty ominous signal about what is to come” a Senate staffer told the Daily Beast. “To have the deputy CIA director touted for her record in advancing human rights and respect for the rule of law I don’t think can be adequately squared with not only her record but her deliberate choices of advocacy.”

Immigration Tsar

Biden’s homeland security secretary will be Alejandro Mayorkas, has been described as a “refugee” as his Jewish parents emigrated from socialist Cuba to the USA in 1960 when he was just a year old – which does not bode well for US relations with Latin America’s many left-wing governments.

Pro-migrant activists were quick to welcome his appointment after Trump’s four-year crackdown on illegal immigration across the southern border with Mexico that saw the fees charged by “coyotes” – human traffickers – double.

“He will not only bring critical leadership but a set of life experiences that will animate the department’s work ahead,” American Immigration Lawyers Association executive director Benjamin Johnson.

Others hoped it meant an end to detentions of illegal immigrants at the border and a strengthening of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme created by Obama in a 2012 executive order.

DACA allows those brought to the US illegally as children to apply every two years for right to remain, but does not grant citizenship. Trump sought to end the programme, saying he wanted Congress to legislate a permanent replacement, but was blocked by legal action from civil rights groups.

“We look forward to the immediate expansion of the DACA program and the dismantling of the detention and deportation machine that was created under Obama and expanded by Trump,” said immigrant legal aid charity RAICES chief advocacy officer Erika Andiola. “Leading this department will be no easy task, but we hope that as the first Latino and someone who has advocated for immigrant rights, he will change the direction of DHS once and for all.”

November 25, 2020 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, Wars for Israel | , , | 8 Comments

Controversy as New French Security Law Could Crack Down on Filming Police

Sputnik – 14.11.2020

A proposed French law could see images of police officers restricted from circulation. While supporters claim it will only be used to crack down on cyberbullying of law enforcement, critics claim it could be a danger to freedom of the press.

Part of France’s new security bill would make it a criminal offense – under threat of punishment with one year in prison and a €45,000 fine – to spread images that harm “the physical or mental integrity” of law enforcement officers.

Stanislas Gaudon, who heads the police union ‘Alliance’, said on Friday that existing cyberbullying legislation does not currently provide effective protection for the police.

“The problem with those laws is that they can only be applied when the video is already online, but it’s too late, the damage is already done”, he said.

Gaudon said the new law should also make it “compulsory to blur police officers’ faces” in any videos distributed.

Article 24 of the law, which was first proposed La République En Marche (LREM) MP Jean-Michel Fauvergue, following lobbying pressure from Alliance.

Lawmakers supporting the bill stress that it is only intended to be used in response to “malicious” actions.

“The purpose is to forbid any calls for violence or reprisals against officers and their families in videos broadcast over social media” said LREM MP Alice Thourot while speaking to France Inter radio.

Critics of the legislation claim that it could be used to repress certain liberties. On November 8, around 30 members of France’s Society of Journalists issued an open letter denouncing the bill as a “threat to the freedom to report”.

Some 800 filmmakers and photographers sent their own letter, claiming that the proposed bill is equivalent to “censorship”. They cited that a prominent documentary on police violence, ‘Un pays qui se tient sage’ (A Wise Country) filmed amid the 2018-19 Yellow Vest demonstrations, would have been restricted from the airwaves.

Amnesty International has also said the French government would be in violation of the UN’s 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, protecting freedom of expression, if the law were to pass.

“The bill is not precise enough,” said Cécile Coudriou, head of Amnesty France. “The notion of ‘malicious intentions’ is too broad. It doesn’t conform to the standards of international law”.

Those who oppose the law highlight examples where police brutality being broadcast through social media has aided in media and legal investigations into police violence.

On 5 January, Cédric Chouviat, a 42-year-old delivery driver in Paris died from a heart attack after being place in a chokehold by police. The event was seen in at least thirteen different videos from the victim, bystanders, and one of the officers involved.

Another example of social media footage bringing police violence to light is the filmed beating of Yellow Vest demonstrators by law enforcement in a Burger King in Paris in December 2018.

November 14, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , | Leave a comment