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Virginia teen with pro-ISIS Twitter account sentenced to 11 years in prison

RT | August 28, 2015

A high school honor student who pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State through social media has been sentenced to 136 months in prison. The teen aided his friend in traveling to Syria to join the jihadist group in January.

In June, Ali Shukri Amin, 17, of Manassas, Virginia, pleaded guilty in a federal court to one count of providing material support and resources to Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS/ISIL), which is considered a terrorist organization by the United States government.

On Thursday, Amin was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison. After serving his sentence, Amin will face a “lifetime of supervised release and monitoring of his internet activities,” according to the US Department of Justice (DOJ). Earlier this month, Amin said his thinking had become “distorted,” and that he had perverted the teachings of Islam to justify violence and death.

“I am deeply ashamed for becoming so lost and adrift from what I know in my heart is right,” Amin wrote to the judge tasked with sentencing him, the Washington Post reported last week. Prosecutors had originally sought a 15-year prison sentence. Amin asked for just a little over six years.

Amin was responsible for the Twitter handle @Amreekiwitness, an account with more than 4,000 followers that posted more than 7,000 messages since June 2014, according to a plea agreement. The account was openly pro-Islamic State, offering advice and encouragement to IS supporters, including how to use Bitcoin to send funding to IS. Amin’s @Amreekiwitness also sparred with the US State Department’s anti-radicalization Twittter account, @ThinkAgain_DOS.

Amin, identified as a Muslim by his attorney, facilitated travel to Syria for Reza Niknejad, 18, also of Prince William County, Virginia, according to the DOJ. Both attended Prince William County’s Osbourn Park High School, where Niknejad graduated in June 2014. Amin, an honor student who had been accepted to college before withdrawing, left the school in February.

In January, Amin and another teenager took Niknejad to Dulles International Airport outside Washington, DC so that he could catch a flight to Greece. Niknejad met up with Amin’s contacts in Istanbul, Turkey during a layover. Niknejad is now believed to be a member of the Islamic State in Syria.

Niknejad, a naturalized citizen originally from Iran, was charged in June with conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, conspiring to provide material support to IS, and conspiring to kill and injure people abroad.

Amin, a naturalized citizen from Sudan, is one of around 50 people charged by federal prosecutors in the US for trying to aid IS, the Washington Post reported in June. He is the youngest person to be charged for such activity, according to MSNBC.

The DOJ said Amin’s sentencing “demonstrates that those who use social media as a tool to provide support and resources to ISIL will be identified and prosecuted with no less vigilance than those who travel to take up arms with ISIL.”

“Ali Shukri Amin is a young American who used social media to provide material support to ISIL,” said Assistant US Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin in a DOJ press release.

“ISIL continues to use social media to send their violent and hateful message around the world in an attempt to radicalize, recruit and incite youth and others to support their cause.  More and more, their propaganda is seeping into our communities and reaching those who are most vulnerable.”

In the press release, Prince William County Police Department Chief Stephan Hudson said Amin was reported by “school staff” to law enforcement, which notified federal authorities through a Joint Terrorism Task Force partnership.

“Observations made by school staff and subsequent follow-up by the School Resource Officer were some of the earlier indicators of suspicious behavior regarding this individual,” Hudson said. “Those observations were quickly relayed to our partners with the JTTF who acted upon this information very quickly. We greatly appreciate that these observations were observed and reported to the proper authorities proved to be instrumental in the overall investigation in stopping a dangerous network such as ISIL from further infiltrating our community.”

The DOJ did not offer details as to the extent of Amin’s “suspicious behavior” reported by school staff that triggered an FBI investigation of a teenager. The FBI was first informed of Amin’s support in November 2014, according to reports.

“Amin’s case serves as a reminder of how persistent and pervasive online radicalization has become,” said assistant director of the FBI’s Washington Field Office Andrew McCabe, adding that the sentencing “marks a personal tragedy for the Amin family and the community as we have lost yet another young person to the allure of extremist ideology focused on hatred.”

Amin’s attorney, Joseph Flood, told the Post in June that his client was most angry at the Syrian regime, which Amin believed was tacitly supported by the United States. Amin’s actions “are a reflection of his deeply held religious beliefs, but also his immaturity, social isolation and frustration at the ineffectiveness of nonviolent means for opposing a criminal regime,” Flood said.

“In every regard, the activity that resulted in his conviction was an anomaly and at odds with the hard-working values he learned in his family,” Flood added. “Mr. Amin’s greatest hope is that others might learn from his errors and find pro-social, nonviolent ways of working for change.”

Amin also ran an ask.fm page under the name AmreekiWitness, according to his plea agreement. The account was “dedicated to raising awareness about the upcoming conquest of the Americas, and the benefits it has upon the American people.”

The FBI received clearance to search Amin’s phone in November, the Post reported. The agency seized a package from him on January 7 that contained a smartphone, thumb drive, and handwritten note in English and Arabic.

An FBI affidavit said Niknejad’s family checked his bank account on January 18 and discovered that he had bought a plane ticket to Turkey. He had told them he was going on a camping trip. The family also found an envelope in their mailbox that same day containg a thumb drive on which were family photos and a note from Niknejad saying he loved his family but he “had traveled to Medina, Saudi Arabia, to further study Islam.”

August 28, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Father of internet’ speaks out against government demand for back doors in encryption

RT | May 5, 2015

Internet pioneer Vint Cerf said Monday that creating defects in encryption systems for law enforcement, often known as “back doors,” was “super, super risky” and not the “right answer.”

Cerf, recognized as a “father of the internet,” currently working at Google, told an audience at the National Press Club that he understood law enforcement’s desire to avoid being locked away from evidence that could be used to prevent crimes. He went on to say, however, that providing such access raises constitutional and legal questions.

“The Congress is forced now to struggle with that, and they’re going to have to listen to these various arguments about protection and safety on the one hand and preservation and privacy and confidentiality on the other,” Cerf said, as reported by The Hill.

The Obama administration has been trying to force companies like Google and Apple to create defects in encryption so the FBI and other government agencies can gain access to people’s information; this despite mounting criticism over the plan – a criticism that’s shared by Cerf.

“If you have a back door, somebody will find it, and that somebody may be a bad guy or bad guys, and they will intentionally abuse their access,” said Cerf.

“Creating this kind of technology is super, super-risky,” he added. “I don’t think that that’s the right answer.”

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed a program codenamed “Bullrun,” which showed that the government penetrated encryption securities through the use of “supercomputers, technical trickery, court orders and behind-the-scenes persuasion.”

Since those disclosures, Silicon Valley industries have been working feverishly to adopt encryption technology beyond the reach of law enforcement agencies that haven’t first obtained a warrant, and to appease customers worried about their privacy. Law enforcement sees it differently, however.

“If this becomes the norm, I suggest to you that homicide cases could be stalled, suspects walked free, child exploitation not discovered and prosecuted,” FBI Director James Comey warned in October, reported The Hill.

For tech companies, though, it is not a question of creating “back doors” or “front doors” – it’s just a matter of secure technology and unsecure technology.

Last week, a bipartisan group of legislators attempted to add an amendment prohibiting the government from forcing companies to build back doors into their devices to a bill reforming the National Security Agency. Despite full support from House Judiciary Committee members, the measure was dropped over concerns it would sink the underlying bill.

May 5, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | Leave a comment

US admits 1980s aid to Israel’s H-bomb program

RT | February 13, 2015

Conceding to a federal lawsuit, the US government agreed to release a 1987 Defense Department report detailing US assistance to Israel in its development of a hydrogen bomb, which skirted international standards.

The 386-page report, “Critical Technology Assessment in Israel and NATO Nations,” likens top Israeli nuclear facilities to the Los Alamos and Oak Ridge National Laboratories that were key in the development of US nuclear weaponry.

Israelis are “developing the kind of codes which will enable them to make hydrogen bombs. That is, codes which detail fission and fusion processes on a microscopic and macroscopic level,” said the report, the release of which comes before Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s March 3 speech in front of the US Congress in which he will oppose any deal that allows Iran’s legal nuclear program to persist.

“I am struck by the degree of cooperation on specialized war making devices between Israel and the US,” Roger Mattson, a formerly of the Atomic Energy Commission’s technical staff, said of the report, according to Courthouse News.

The report’s release earlier this week was initiated by a Freedom of Information Act request made three years ago by Grant Smith, director of the Washington think tank Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy. Smith filed a lawsuit in September in order to compel the Pentagon to substantially address the request.

“It’s our basic position that in 1987 the Department of Defense discovered that Israel had a nuclear weapons program, detailed it and then has covered it up for 25 years in violation of the Symington and Glenn amendments, costing taxpayers $86 billion,” Smith said during a hearing in late 2014 before Judge Tanya Chutkan in US District Court for the District of Columbia.

Smith described in his federal court complaint how those federal laws were violated by the US in the midst of Israel’s budding nuclear program.

“The Symington Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 prohibits most U.S. foreign aid to any country found trafficking in nuclear enrichment equipment or technology outside international safeguards,” Smith wrote.

“The Glenn Amendment of 1977 calls for an end to U.S. foreign aid to countries that import nuclear reprocessing technology.”

In November, Judge Chutkan asked government lawyers resistant to the report’s release why it had taken years for the government to prepare the report for public consumption.

“I’d like to know what is taking so long for a 386-page document. The document was located some time ago,” Chutkan said, according to Courthouse News Service.

“I’ve reviewed my share of documents in my career. It should not take that long to review that document and decide what needs to be redacted.”

The government’s representatives in the case — Special Assistant US Attorney Laura Jennings and Defense Department counsel Mark Herrington — initially said confidentiality agreements required a “line by line” review of the Defense Department’s report. They later shifted, arguing that its release is optional and not mandatory, as “diplomatic relations dictate that DoD seeks Israel’s review.”

Smith and the US agreed that the government would redact sections of the report on NATO countries, though the passages on Israel remain intact.

“The capability of SOREQ [Soreq Nuclear Research Center] to support SDIO [Strategic Defense Initiative Organization, or “Star Wars”] and nuclear technologies is almost an exact parallel of the capability currently existing at our National Laboratories,” said the report, written by the Institute for Defense Analysis for the Department of Defense.

“SOREQ and Dimona/Beer Sheva facilities are the equivalent of our Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge National Laboratories…[and have] the technology base required for nuclear weapons design and fabrication.”

The report’s authors Edwin Townsley and Clarence Robinson found that Israel had Category 1 capability regarding its anti-tactical ballistic missile and “Star Wars” weapons programs.

“As far as nuclear technology is concerned the Israelis are roughly where the U.S. [w]as in the fission weapon field in about 1955 to 1960,” the report said. “It should be noted that the Israelis are developing the kind of codes which will enable them to make hydrogen bombs.”

In a statement on the report’s release, Smith said Thursday, “Informal and Freedom of Information Act release of such information is rare. Under two known gag orders — punishable by imprisonment — U.S. security-cleared government agency employees and contractors may not disclose that Israel has a nuclear weapons program.”

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s planned address before the US Congress was controversially arranged by Republican leadership without consultation of congressional Democrats or the White House.

The speech will occur weeks before Netanyahu will seek reelection, and is to center around his opposition to any agreement with Iran over its [civilian] nuclear program, a deal the US — while levying heavy sanctions on Tehran — has pursued despite protests from its preeminent ally [sic] in the Middle East, Israel.

Tehran’s nuclear program is legal under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which Israel is one of the few United Nations members that is not a signatory.

February 13, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Security firm says Sony hack might have been an inside job

RT | December 25, 2014

Despite claims by the FBI that North Korea was behind the massive hack against Sony, several cybersecurity experts have come forward to raise questions about the allegation, with some suggesting that insiders at the company could be to blame.

One such expert, Kurt Stammberger from the Norse cybersecuirty firm, told CBS News that his team believes a woman identified only as “Lena” was heavily involved in the hack – not North Korea.

“We are very confident that this was not an attack master-minded by North Korea and that insiders were key to the implementation of one of the most devastating attacks in history,” he told the news outlet.

“Sony was not just hacked, this is a company that was essentially nuked from the inside,” Stammberger added.

Little is known about Lena, but Norse believes the woman is somehow linked with the hacking group behind the attack, known as the ‘Guardians of Peace.’ The firm also suspects the woman was a former employee of Sony who worked there for 10 years before leaving in May 2014.

According to Stammberger, Lena’s position in the company would have given her the access and knowledge needed to identify the servers that hackers ultimately stole troves of data from.

Stammberger didn’t completely rule out North Korea’s role in the cyber attack, but he told CBS that evidence pointing to the country could actually be a case of misdirection.

“There are certainly North Korean fingerprints on this but when we run all those leads to ground they turn out to be decoys or red herrings,” he said.

Last week, the FBI officially pinned the hack on North Korea, saying the breach involved lines of code, methods, and encryption algorithms previously developed by the country.

“Technical analysis of the data deletion malware used in this attack revealed links to other malware that the FBI knows North Korea actors previously developed,” the FBI said in its statement. “The FBI also observed significant overlap between the infrastructure used in this attack and other malicious cyber activity the US government has previously linked directly to North Korea.”

“Separately, the tools used in the SPE attack have similarities to a cyberattack in March of last year against South Korean banks and media outlets, which was carried out by North Korea.”

Still, some remain unconvinced. Cybersecurity expert Bruce Schneier wrote that the code used by the hackers seems “to point in all directions at once.” Looking at the evidence cited by the FBI, Schneier said it’s the kind that is “easy to fake, and it’s even easier to interpret it incorrectly.” He also cast doubt on the “insider threat” theory, arguing that such an individual wouldn’t need the hacking tools used to breach Sony’s servers.

Schneier noted that the FBI has not revealed all the reasons for its claim, though, and acknowledged that classified evidence could clearly point the finger at North Korea. Unless that evidence is known, it’s hard to say with any certainty.

Other possibilities include the idea that North Korea “co-opted” the initial attack after an embarrassing glut of information was made public, using that as an opportunity to strike Sony, as it was reeling and facing pressure to cancel ‘The Interview’ movie.

While Sony did cancel the premiere and release of ‘The Interview’ – a comedy which tells the story of a CIA plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un – it has since relented in the face of public criticism, which included harsh words from President Barack Obama. The movie is now available on streaming services and will be in theaters in limited release on Christmas Day.

Regarding the film’s release, a North Korean envoy to the United Nations said the country will condemn the decision but will not have any “physical reaction.” He added that the movie is an “unpardonable mockery of our sovereignty and dignity of our supreme leader.”

The diplomat also told the Associated Press that his country was not involved in the hack.

READ MORE:

FBI formally accuses North Korea in Sony hack

Senator urges Obama to host White House screening of ‘The Interview’

N. Korea threatens US, demands apology for Obama’s ‘reckless rumors’ of Sony hack

December 25, 2014 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sophisticated ‘state-sponsored’ spying tool targeted govts, infrastructure for years

RT | November 24, 2014

A sophisticated malware dubbed Regin has been used to spy on governments, infrastructure operators and other high-profile targets, security company Symantec has revealed. It also targeted private individuals and businesses, particularly in Russia.

A back door-type Trojan displays a “degree of technical competence rarely seen,” Symantec said in a press release. The complexity of the virus enabled the intruder to create a framework for mass surveillance. Targets include private companies, government entities and research think tanks. Attacks on telecoms companies were allegedly carried out to gain access to calls being routed through their infrastructure.

Confirmed Regin infections by sector (image from symantec.com)

Confirmed Regin infections by sector (image from symantec.com)

The company believes that the Trojan was likely developed by a nation state as it took months, if not years to develop such a piece of software and cover up its tracks. Analyzing its further capabilities the company has drawn a conclusion that Regin could be one of the main cyber espionage tools used by the implicated nation state.

Almost a third of the confirmed infections were discovered in Russia with a further 24 percent in Saudi Arabia. Mexico, Ireland, India, Afghanistan, Iran, Belgium, Austria and Pakistan are also on the list.

“Regin is a highly complex threat which has been used in systematic data collection or intelligence gathering campaigns. The development and operation of this malware would have required a significant investment of time and resources,” Symantec said.

Symantec found that the virus has been used between 2008 and 2011, before being suddenly withdrawn until a new version of the malware resurfaced from 2013 onwards.

Confirmed Regin infections by country (image from symantec.com)

Confirmed Regin infections by country (image from symantec.com)

Regin uses a modular approach allowing it to load features that exactly fit the target, enabling a customized spying.“Its design makes it highly suited for persistent, long-term surveillance operations against targets,” the security company says.

And it’s five-stage loading architecture with special and hidden encryption at each stage makes it similar to Duqu/Stuxnet threats, Symantec said. “Executing the first stage starts a domino chain of decryption and loading of each subsequent stage for a total of five stages. Each individual stage provides little information on the complete package. Only by acquiring all five stages is it possible to analyze and understand the threat,” the press release reads. Furthermore Regin is equipped with a number of stealth features so that even after Trojan’s presence is detected, it is “very difficult to ascertain what it is doing.”

Researchers say many components of the virus remain undiscovered while the threat of additional functionality and versions may still exist.

Image from symantec.com

November 24, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment

Fake cell phone ‘towers’ may be spying on Americans’ calls, texts

RT | September 3, 2014

More than a dozen “fake cell phone towers” could be secretly hijacking Americans’ mobile devices in order to listen in on phone calls or snoop on text messages, a security-focused cell phone company claims. It is not clear who controls the devices.

ESD America, which markets heavily-encrypted cell phones built within the body of a Samsung Galaxy S3, said it was able to locate numerous towers intercepting mobile communications – but does not know who is running them.

Speaking to Popular Science, ESD America CEO Les Goldsmith recently said that the company has used its phone – the CryptoPhone 500 – to map 17 different fake cell phone towers, dubbed “interceptors,” across the United States. Locations include New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, and more.

“Interceptor use in the US is much higher than people had anticipated,” he told the website. “One of our customers took a road trip from Florida to North Carolina and he found 8 different interceptors on that trip. We even found one at South Point Casino in Las Vegas.”

Although these interceptors act as fake cell phone towers, they are not necessarily large, physical structures. They could simply be small mobile devices that act exactly like a real tower, deceiving phones into giving up information. Such devices are known as “stingrays,” after the brand name of one popular type of interceptor.

Satellite dishes and cell phone towers atop a roof of a building (AFP Photo / Thomas Coex)

Once connected to a person’s phone, they can bypass the mobile device’s encryption to either listen in on calls or capture texts. In some cases, they are also powerful enough to take over a device or make it seem as if it has shut down – only to leave the microphone on in order to eavesdrop.

The American Civil Liberties Union has been attempting to pry information about government and police use of stingray equipment, but its efforts have been met with resistance from federal officials.

According to Ars Technica, the Federal Communications Commission pledged in August to investigate the “illicit and unauthorized use” of interceptors – with a primary focus on foreign governments, criminals, and terrorists – but denied a Freedom of Information Act request to reveal more data about current stingray use.

For Goldsmith, determining who is using the interceptors is important. He speculated that the operators could be American agencies or foreign governments.

“What we find suspicious is that a lot of these interceptors are right on top of US military bases. So we begin to wonder – are some of them US government interceptors? Or are some of them Chinese interceptors?” he told PopSci. “Whose interceptor is it? Who are they, that’s listening to calls around military bases? Is it just the US military, or are they foreign governments doing it? The point is: we don’t really know whose they are.”

Outside of national governments, local law enforcement agencies are also beefing up their stingray/interceptor capabilities. In Oakland, California, police are looking to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to upgrade their cell phone surveillance system.

Meanwhile, police in Tacoma, Washington have caught the eye of civil liberties advocates after the News Tribune revealed they have been using interceptor equipment to catch cell phone calls for the last six years. Some, including Mayor Marilyn Strickland, said it was legitimate for police to do so as long as people’s rights were not violated. However, the ACLU disagreed, arguing it was like “kicking down the doors of 50 homes and searching 50 homes because they don’t know where the bad guy is.”

September 4, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment

Police departments suspended for ‘losing’ US military-grade weaponry

RT | August 27, 2014

Close to 200 state and local police departments in the United States have been suspended for losing military-level equipment transferred to them by the Pentagon, a new investigation found.

According to the media outlet Fusion, its independent investigation into the Pentagon’s “1033 program,” which equips state and local police departments across the US with excess military equipment, turned up an alarming trend: Not only did many law enforcement agencies fail to comply with the program’s guidelines, they routinely lost dangerous weaponry.

Already, the investigation has found that police departments in Arizona, California, Mississippi, Missouri, Georgia, and others have lost or cannot account for various types of weapons. This list includes M14 and M16 assault rifles, .45-caliber pistols, shotguns, and even vehicles.

So far, 184 state and local departments have reportedly been suspended in a program that involves the participation of more than 8,000 agencies. Since 1990, the 1033 program has administered more than $4.3 billion worth of equipment and weapons.

In the wake of heavy police response to protests surrounding the death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, the topic of police militarization has emerged at the forefront of public debate in the US. Police employed heavily armored vehicles, sniper rifles, tear gas, and riot gear as they confronted demonstrators against excessive force, sparking widespread concern throughout the country, particularly over the Pentagon’s military equipment transfer program.

Although the Pentagon stated the program is meant to “enhance public safety and improve homeland security,” critics argue that the inability of police to keep track of their equipment adds another layer of doubt to the idea that security is being improved.

“The case for giving military weaponry to these small police departments was already thin in the beginning,” Tim Lynch of the CATO Institute’s project on criminal justice said to Fusion. “Now that we’re finding that there is insufficient accountability for tracking this equipment, then the case is beginning to fall apart.”

In at least two cases, Humvees were reported missing. In Georgia, the Humvee was reportedly sold somehow, only to be recovered later and moved to a different department. Another case in Arkansas involved a stolen Humvee that was not reported until a day later.

Firearms were routinely lost or misplaced. In Arizona alone, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department lost 11 or 12 weapons.

“[The program] is obviously very sloppy, and it’s another reason that Congress needs to revisit this promptly,” Lynch added. “We don’t know where these weapons are going, whether they are really lost, or whether there is corruption involved.”

As RT reported previously, questions over the Pentagon program have reached President Obama as well, as he recently ordered a review of the entire operation. The probe will determine whether or not police should actually be receiving the equipment they get, the way these weapons are being used, and whether officers are being trained properly.

August 27, 2014 Posted by | Corruption | , , , , | 1 Comment

Russia will do whatever necessary to protect its legitimate interests – Lavrov

RT | August 25, 2014

Russia doesn’t want to escalate tit-for-tat sanctions with the West, but is ready to do whatever is necessary to protect its legitimate interests, including those of national security in all its dimensions, Russia’s FM told The Daily Telegraph.

Peace in Ukraine can only be attained through a broad national dialogue that includes all regions and its terms cannot simply be dictated by a “government of the winners,” Russian FM Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with The Daily Telegraph.

“The point is for Kiev to stop war games and to abandon the illusion that the deep crisis in Ukraine can be resolved by winning the war against your own people,” Lavrov said, reiterating that with support from US and EU, Kiev continues to ignore its numerous commitments to a “government of national unity.”

“Unfortunately, the logic of “the winner takes it all” remains the thrust of Kiev’s actions resulting in thousands of victims among civilians, hundreds of thousands of refugees and displaced persons, as well as almost totally destroyed social infrastructure in many cities and towns in Eastern Ukraine.”

A house in Donetsk destroyed by shelling. (RIA Novosti / Maks Vetrov)

A house in Donetsk destroyed by shelling. (RIA Novosti / Maks Vetrov)

Speaking further on the humanitarian catastrophe, Lavrov once again said it is “crucial to ensure immediate supply of humanitarian aid to the people of south-eastern Ukraine.”

The first convoy of Russian aid was ready to move as early as 17 August, but was delayed “primarily due to procrastination tactics employed by Kiev authorities,” he added, urging the Ukrainian government “to deliver on its promises and to facilitate safe and unhindered passage of future humanitarian assistance.”

Lavrov also spoke about the “meaningless tit-for-tat vicious circle” started by unilateral sanctions imposed on Russia, and called them “counterproductive” and “contradicting” the norms and principles of the international law.

“It is absolutely unacceptable to talk to Russia – and to anyone, for that matter – in the language of ultimatums and coercive measures,” the minister said, emphasizing that Russia’s response was balanced.

“It is not at all our choice, but there should be no doubt that we will do whatever is necessary to protect our legitimate interests, including the interests of national security in all its dimensions.”

Lavrov also touched on the topic of the dragging Malaysian MH17 airliner tragedy, reminding that a number of simple questions which could shed some light on the incident still remain unanswered.

“Unfortunately, from the very beginning we have been witnessing attempts to conceal evidence and to hinder the implementation” of the resolution adopted by the UN Security Council, the minister said. “Russia is the only country which officially presented to the international community the data related to the incident as received through our space monitoring capacity.”

“We hope to get answers to these and other questions both from the states which took the leading role in the international investigation and from those who made unsubstantiated public statements,” Lavrov said. “We must not allow the investigation of MH17 crash to be manipulated into oblivion like already happened to investigations of many Ukrainian tragedies, including the sniper assault against civilians in Kiev in February, massacres in Odessa and Mariupol in May and others.”

In the meantime, Lavrov once again rejected groundless speculation about Russian troops crossing into Ukrainian territory as obviously “part of an information war.”

“Unfortunately, the mass media continue to spread rumours, distorted information and even outright lies. Recently there were claims by Ukraine that its artillery destroyed an armoured column that had allegedly crossed from Russia into Ukraine,” he said. “No evidence, however, was presented, and even the US State Department could not confirm the incident.”

READ MORE: Malaysian Boeing disaster – Russia’s questions to Ukraine

August 25, 2014 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US labs close after mishandling highly infectious pathogens

RT | July 13, 2014

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention have closed two labs after it was found they had made dangerous mistakes when transporting pathogens like anthrax. The CDC’s director has called the errors “unacceptable” and potentially deadly.

In response to a series of laboratory blunders, the CDC announced the closure of two labs on Friday. The organization has also placed a temporary ban on the transportation of dangerous pathogens for high-security labs.

A report carried out by the CDC revealed that over the past 10 years disease labs have mishandled potentially deadly pathogens.

“These events revealed totally unacceptable behavior,” said CDS Director Tom Frieden to press on Friday. “They should never have happened. I’m upset, I’m angry, I’ve lost sleep over this, and I’m working on it until the issue is resolved.”

Frieden added that the staff involved had knowingly disregarded laboratory protocol and would be disciplined accordingly.

The latest incident this year happened in June when as many as 75 CDC employees were exposed to a live strain of anthrax in Atlanta, after failing to deactivate the deadly bacteria according to lab protocol.

The potentially infectious samples of the pathogen were then sent out to other laboratories ill-equipped to deal with them. Staff members also handled the samples, which should have been deactivated without following correct safety procedures.

The previous incident, which was disclosed on Friday, happened in May when a sample of non-pathogenic avian influenza was accidentally cross-contaminated with a potentially lethal kind of flu (H5N1). No lab workers were exposed to the pathogen, but it was shipped to a lab administered by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Frieden said the most distressing aspect of the latter case was that although it happened in May, the CDC only found out about it this week.

The CDC says that there have been no reported infections after the two incidents and all workers involved had been offered vaccines and antibiotics.

The latest revelations followed an announcement that two of six vials of smallpox discovered in a research center in Washington contained live strains of the virus. It is thought to be the first time unaccounted traces of smallpox have been found in the US after the disease’s declared eradication in the 80s.

Frieden argues that the latest findings are a sign that the world needs to minimize the number of labs that deal with dangerous pathogens.

July 13, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Battlefield USA: American police ‘excessively militarized’ – ACLU study

RT | June 24, 2014

Inheriting both the weapons and the mindset of the US military, police are becoming militarized and ‘hyper aggressive’ in their approach to maintaining security on the streets of America. A new study calls on police not to treat people as ‘wartime enemies’.

The tragic story of Jose Guerena, 26, who served as a Marine in the Iraq War, only to be killed by ‘friendly fire’ at his home in Tucson, Arizona, is becoming a disturbingly familiar one across the country.

On the morning of May 5, 2011, Guerena’s wife alerted him when she heard strange sounds and the silhouette of a man standing outside their home. Guerena got his wife and child into a closet, grabbed his rifle, and went to investigate. This proved to be a deadly mistake. A SWAT team opened fire on Guerena, who died on his kitchen floor with multiple wounds and without medical attention.

As it later emerged, the SWAT unit raided a number of residences in the neighborhood, turning up nothing more than a small bag of marijuana. No drugs were found in the Guerenas’ home.

Created in the late 1960s as “quasi-militaristic” units designed to handle emergency situations such as riots, hostage scenarios, and active shooter situations, the number of SWAT squads have since surged, and are “used with greater frequency and, increasingly, for purposes for which they were not originally intended—overwhelmingly to serve search warrants in drug investigations,” according to an ACLU report, entitled ‘War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing.’

The report examines 818 SWAT operations from July 2010 to last October, which were conducted by more than 20 law enforcement agencies in 11 states.

Today, paramilitary squads are better equipped to fight terrorists in foreign lands [occupations] than serve and protect US civilians at home, and are becoming a dark chapter to America’s newfound capacity for “needless violence” and treating its citizens like “wartime enemies,” it said.

The 98-page document details the militarization of state and local law enforcement agencies, courtesy of expensive federal programs, which are dispensing “weapons and tactics of war, with almost no public discussion or oversight.” Although explicitly aimed at fighting drugs, the strategy is backfiring, sowing fear and discord among citizens, many of whom are starting to fear police as much as criminals.

As the United States winds down its military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, local police forces are getting the used ‘hand-me-downs’ from the US military. This makes some American communities resemble the latest occupied zones with police dressed in combat fatigues and driving MRAPs and carrying AR-15s down Main Street.

“Using these federal funds, state and local law enforcement agencies have amassed military arsenals purportedly to wage the failed War on Drugs… But these arsenals are by no means free of cost for communities. Instead, the use of hyper aggressive tools and tactics results in tragedy for civilians and police officers, escalates the risk of needless violence, destroys property, and undermines individual liberties,” according to the report.

One bit of curious hardware being distributed to local police forces from the government’s military closet is the MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicle, which gives troops protection from improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Using media sources, ACLU put the number of towns that now possess the armored carriers at around 500. Among the lucky recipients, Dallas, Texas, has one, as does Salinas, California and even the Utah Highway Patrol.

The report noted that even the Ohio State University Police own one of the MRAPs in order to give a sense of “presence” on big football game days.

The results of the report revealed a worrying trend: “If the federal government gives the police a huge cache of military-style weaponry, they are highly likely to use it, even if they do not really need to.”

Case in point: Gwinnett County, Georgia, which received at least 57 semi-automatic rifles, mostly M-16s and M-14s. One-third of the county’s SWAT deployments dealt with drug investigations; in half of them, the SWAT team broke down the door to get inside, “and there was no record in any of the reports that weapons were found.”

Other examples were provided in Concord, Keene, and Manchester, quaint New Hampshire towns in close proximity to each other, yet each took advantage of DHS grants to buy the military-grade armored BearCat (the amount of grants received by these agencies ranged from $215,000 to $286,000). Justifications for the need to acquire such vehicles pointed to weapons of mass destruction and the threat of terrorism.

The Keene police department, for example, cites in its application (which trumps Ohio State University’s need for armored vehicles to provide “presence” at big football games), the annual pumpkin festival as a potential terrorism target that requires the assistance of an APC.

Military-style mentality invades police

Another leftover from America’s military adventures abroad is the peculiar military mindset that allows US personnel to survive in hostile lands. Equally unsettling as spotting armored vehicles winding through the tree-lined streets of otherwise quiet American neighborhoods is the spectacle of local police officers receiving military-style combat training.

The US Department of Justice described the boot-camp conditions being used to train new police recruits.

According to a Bureau of Justice Report, “the majority of police recruits receive their training in academies with a stress-based military orientation. This begs the question: is this military model—designed to prepare young recruits for combat—the appropriate mechanism for teaching our police trainees how to garner community trust and partner with citizens to solve crime and public order problems?”

As a result, a so-called “warrior” mentality inside local police forces is “pervasive and extends well beyond hostage situations and school shootings, seeping into officers’ everyday interactions with their communities,” the report said.

The report describes a PowerPoint presentation that was delivered to Cary, North Carolina, SWAT team members entitled “Warrior Mindset/Chemical Munitions” for all Emergency Response Team personnel.

The National Tactical Officers Association (according to its website, the NTOA “strives to provide our members with the tools they need to protect an increasingly dangerous society”) urges trainees to “Steel Your Battlemind” and defines “battlemind” as “a warrior’s inner strength to face fear and adversity during combat with courage. It is the will to persevere and win. It is resilience.”

The question, however, is whether such an approach to policing is conducive to creating peace on the streets of America? An escalation of police operations going awry are growing cause for concern among civil rights groups.

In early June, for example, a toddler was severely burned and left unable to breathe on his own when a Georgia SWAT team tossed a flashbang grenade in his crib during a drug raid – over a single meth sale of $50. Bounkham “Bou Bou” Phonesavanh, a 19-month-old, was asleep in his portable crib in the same room as his parents and three older sisters, when police opened the door to the converted garage and threw the stun grenade in.

In the ACLU’s study, SWAT units forced entry into a person’s home using a battering ram or other breaching device in 65 percent of drug searches.

As the report emphasizes, the training documents do not suggest that SWAT teams “should constrain their soldier-like tactics to terrorism situations.” Moreover, the majority of SWAT raids examined for the report “took place in the context of serving search warrants at people’s homes—not in response to school shootings or bombings.”

The survey discovered that 62 percent of SWAT missions were for drug searches. Some 79 percent involved raids on private homes, and a similar proportion were carried out with warrants authorizing searches. However, just 7 percent of the incidents fell into those categories for which SWAT was originally designed to handle, such as hostage situations or shootings.

It is this type of military mindset, compounded with excessive firepower, which is turning many American communities into veritable tinderboxes, which only requires the slightest provocation to spiral into senseless violence and death.

The survey, which provided a small picture of the overall trend, reported seven cases where civilians died in connection with the deployment of SWAT units, two of which appeared to be suicides. Another 46 individuals were injured, often as the result of physical force by officers.

Background: ‘It’s a war zone in the US’ – Interview with Indiana sheriff

Update: ACLU sues Mass. SWAT agency for refusing to release records

June 24, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israel stands behind travel restrictions for Palestinian football players

RT | June 11, 2014

Israel’s sports minister has defended the country’s travel restrictions against Palestinian football players in a letter to FIFA president Sepp Blatter, citing security concerns.

Tel Aviv indicates potential attacks by Palestinian militants as the pretext for the prohibitive travel rules that affect most Palestinians, including athletes. Israel has barred travel between the West Bank and Gaza – territories located on opposite ends of Israel which Palestinians seek to include in a future state.

Israeli sports minister Limor Livnat said to Blatter in the letter that Israel would allow Palestinian athletes to “exit and enter for the purpose of sports, excluding occasions in which there are attempts to make use of sports in order to injure or threaten the security of our citizens.”

Livnat said Israel detained Palestinian national team player Sameh Maraabeh in April based on suspicion over a meeting with a “military activist” of the Islamic militant group Hamas during his team’s training in Qatar. She alleged that Maraabeh took funding, a mobile phone, and a written message from the activist. He remains in detention.

“I am confident you will find this information worrisome and constituting clear evidence of the misuse of sports in a fashion that threatens the security of Israeli civilians,” Livnat wrote, according to AP.

The Palestine Football Association had previously called on the FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) Congress to suspend Israel from FIFA until it relieves the restrictions on Palestinian players.

FIFA is to meet in Sao Paulo, Brazil on Tuesday and Wednesday this week ahead of the World Cup tournament beginning Thursday.

In May, Blatter attempted to bring the two sides together during a trip to Jerusalem and the West Bank. He has called on the parties to “separate politics and sports” and to find a way to allow Palestinian players to travel.

In her letter to Blatter, Livnat also accused Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestinian Football Association, of incitement against Israel.

Rajoub has described Israel as the “bully of the neighborhood,” and called on FIFA to levy sanctions against Tel Aviv for policies toward Palestinians.

Those policies include delaying or preventing visiting athletes and sports delegations from entering the West Bank and blocking some Palestinian players from leaving Gaza, according to Palestinian officials.

Jamal Mahmoud, head coach of the Palestinian national team, said he is not aware of a meeting between Maraabeh and Hamas during the team’s training in Qatar.

“If he did talk to a member of Hamas, it was his own individual decision,” Mahmoud said.

Palestinian football officials are trying to secure a location for training before the 2015 Asian Cup. The final location depends on Israeli permission based on movements of players in and between Palestinian territories.

“The hope from these discussions is that Israel treats our Palestinian players and those responsible for our Palestinian players by the national law and the charter per the agreement with FIFA,” said Ghassan Jaradat, media director for the Palestine Football Association.

June 10, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Israel stands behind travel restrictions for Palestinian football players

UN to probe security agencies’ snooping

RT | December 3, 2013

The United Nations is set to carry out an investigation into the spying activities of the US and UK, a senior judge has said. The probe will examine the espionage programs and assess whether they conform to UN regulations.

UN special rapporteur Ben Emmerson QC told British newspaper The Guardian that the UN will conduct an inquiry into the NSA and the GCHQ’s spying antics. Following Edward Snowden’s revelations, which blew the whistle on both agencies’ intelligence gathering programs, Emmerson said the issue was at “the very apex of public interest and concerns.”

The report will broach a number of contentious issues, said Emmerson, including whether Snowden should be granted the legal protection afforded to a whistleblower, whether the data he handed over to the media did significant harm to national security, whether intelligence agencies need to scale down their surveillance programs and whether the UK government was misled about the extent of intelligence gathering.

“When it comes to assessing the balance that must be struck between maintaining secrecy and exposing information in the public interest, there are often borderline cases,” Emmerson told The Guardian.

Emmerson also mentioned the raid this summer on The Guardian’s London offices in search of hard drives containing data from Snowden. Addressing the allegations made by the chiefs of British spy agencies MI5, GCHQ and MI6, that publishing Snowden’s material was “a gift to terrorists,” Emmerson said it was the media’s job to hold governments to account for their actions.

“The astonishing suggestion that this sort of responsible journalism can somehow be equated with aiding and abetting terrorism needs to be scotched decisively,” said Emmerson, who will present the conclusions of his inquiry to the UN General Assembly next autumn.

Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger is set to appear before a Commons home affairs committee in a hearing about the newspaper publishing of Snowden’s security leaks. British Prime Minister David Cameron issued a statement in September, warning of a possible crackdown if media continued to publish information on covert intelligence gathering programs.

He said the government had not yet been “heavy-handed” in its dealings with the press, but it would be difficult not to act if the press does not “demonstrate some social responsibility.” Cameron added that the UK was a more dangerous place after the Guardian published Snowden’s material.

Snowden’s revelations of the international spying activities of the UK and US have embarrassed the White House and Downing Street. Recent leaks show that the NSA and GCHQ not only monitored millions of civilian communications using programs such as PRISM and Tempora, but also eavesdropped on high-profile businessmen and politicians. Moreover, it was revealed that the NSA also spied on the UN’s headquarters in New York.

Both nations have sought to justify their intelligence gathering programs as being in the interests of national security.

December 3, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on UN to probe security agencies’ snooping