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Winners and losers in Trump’s Syria attack

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | April 14, 2018

The US President Donald Trump’s mind took a fourth U-turn in almost as many days on Friday since he began speaking about his decision to withdraw the American forces from Syria and leave it to “others” to handle the endgame in the conflict. He swung to the extreme threatening a rain of missiles on Syria, only to back-track a day later to hint there might not be any attack at all, and finally to announce a joint US-UK-France attack on Friday.

If the former US Deputy Secretary of State Nicholas Burns, an experienced career diplomat, got the impression that POTUS was playing a video game, it comes as no surprise. Indeed, the most striking thing about the US strike on Syria is its futility of purpose beyond a symbolic value to impress the domestic constituency that POTUS is a forceful decision-maker, who unlike his predecessor Barack Obama, lays down ‘red lines’ and follows up.

Actually, it is a cowardly stance. Trump hastened to strike just hours before the investigation by the team from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was due to begin in Douma – as if time was running out to act with impunity. Clearly, Trump felt the compulsion to be seen acting. He had no authorization from the Congress nor did he secure a mandate from the UN Security Council to launch aggression against a UN member country.

The indignation and outrage in the statement by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will be widely shared by the world community:

“There’s an obligation, particularly when dealing with matters of peace and security, to act consistently with the Charter of the United Nations and with international law in general. The UN Charter is very clear on these issues.

“The Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. I call on the members of the Security Council to unite and exercise that responsibility. I urge all Member States to show restraint in these dangerous circumstances and to avoid any acts that could escalate the situation and worsen the suffering of the Syrian people.”

Both the constitutionality of Trump’s decision and the legality of the US attack under international law is highly questionable. However, the extenuating fact is that historically, the domestic public opinion rallies behind the POTUS when the US is at war abroad. For Trump’s crumbling presidency, that is an over-riding consideration today.

On the other hand, the attack on Syria was carefully choreographed. Paris has disclosed that Moscow was informed in advance. Indeed, “deconfliction” procedures were under discussion between the Pentagon and Russian Defence Ministry for the past 2-3 days. The attack clinically targeted alleged chemical weapon [sic] sites in three cities in Syria – Damascus, Hom and Hama. No military bases or assets were attacked. The missiles scrupulously avoided locations where there could be Russian personnel. Care was taken to avoid “collateral damage”. In fact, there has been no reported casualty. On the whole, it is as if a riveting fireworks show has been conducted.

The Syrians claim they shot down a number of incoming missiles. But like in the Sherlock Holmes story, the dog didn’t bark – not a single move has been reported by Russia to intercept the incoming missiles. Moscow simply watched a brawl unfold between the US, UK and France on one side and the Syrian regime on the other. Moscow instead turned on its propaganda apparatus to take the maximum advantage of the senseless, almost bizarre missile attack. If the OPCW team turns in a ‘Nil’ report from Douma shortly, Russian propaganda can be trusted to go for Trump’s jugular veins.

The US attack will not create any new facts on the ground. The comprehensive victory of the Syrian regime of President Bashar Al-Assad in the 7-year conflict is becoming an irreversible reality. Arguably, this could be the last waltz of the western interventionist powers in Syria who had hoped to overthrow the regime and failed miserably. In the absence of a coherent US strategy toward Syria, this latest attack may even stoke the fires of Syrian nationalism.

Russia has spoken of “serious consequences”, without elaborating. Will Russia escalate the situation? Seems unlikely. It is hard to see a Russian reaction on the ground – although Moscow is watchful that the western strategy ultimately threatens the Russian presence in Syria. Much depends on the next western move. The NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is expected in Ankara on Monday.

In a strongly-worded statement, President Vladimir Putin has warned that the “escalation in Syria is destructive for the entire system of international relations. History will set things right, and Washington already bears the heavy responsibility for the bloody outrage in Yugoslavia, Iraq and Syria.” Russia proposes to convene an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council “to discuss the aggressive actions by the US and its allies,” Putin said.

Of course, new regional alignments will become inevitable. Turkey and Israel have backed the US attack. (here) The Turks’ bazaari instincts are legion and President Recep Erdogan senses an historic opportunity to project Turkish power into Syria and realize his “neo-Ottoman” dream. Trust him to overreach.

Israel is a bit down due to the messy confrontation at the Gaza border; or else, it would have jumped into the fray. Israel’s best bet will be that the US keeps an open-ended military presence in a Syria that is balkanized and weak and is in no position to reclaim the lost territory in the Golan Heights that are under Israeli occupation since 1967.

All eyes are on Iran. But Tehran will not speak its mind. Tehran’s eyes are cast on the May 12 deadline when Trump must decide on the sanctions waiver to the July 2015 nuclear deal. The big question now is whether Trump would tear up the Iran nuclear deal in the present circumstances when the US needs the support of its European allies.

Syria constitutes Iran’s defence line. Significantly, even as Trump was ratcheting up rhetoric against Syria, the powerful Iranian statesman Ali Akbar Velayati, advisor to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei landed in Damascus on Wednesday, met President Assad and toured Douma, the alleged site of the chemical attack. It was a defiant gesture and act of solidarity with Assad.

Tehran has hinted at “regional consequences.” But Iran’s style will be to avoid direct conflict with the US and opt instead to intensify its political work and consolidate its wide networking with various groups on the ground, which systematically keep undermining the US presence in Syria and Iraq. No doubt, Iran will intensify the politics of “resistance” against Israel.

The Russia-Iran partnership in Syria is steadily morphing into an alliance, which is in mutual interests. The defeat of the US-Israeli-Saudi containment strategy against Iran may turn out to be the most significant and enduring outcome of this US attack on Syria.

April 14, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Russia’s UN Peacekeeper Plan Anticipates US-Backed Kiev Offensive

By Finian CUNNINGHAM | Strategic Culture Foundation | 10.09.2017

Russia’s proposed deployment of a UN peacekeeping force in eastern Ukraine makes sense in the light of recent reports that the US is stepping up its supply of lethal weaponry to the Kiev regime. The war is set to explode.

It is therefore prudent to deploy international monitors to try to restrain the violence, or at least offset the undoubted propaganda war which will ensue. The move to involve the UN is also a damning reflection of how ineffective the already-in-place monitors from the OSCE have been.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has stationed hundreds of international members in eastern Ukraine since March 2014, yet the OSCE has done little to restrain the offensive actions by the Kiev-controlled Ukrainian Armed Forces against the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. The lack of restraint stems from the OSCE being evidently biased towards the Kiev regime and its reluctance to issue public criticism of Kiev’s daily violations of the Minsk Accord. In other words, despite claims of impartiality, the OSCE serves as a propaganda tool for the US-backed regime.

Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that increased American military support to the Kiev regime will result in an escalation of violence. When US defense secretary James Mattis was in Kiev last month, he said Washington was «considering» sending lethal weapons to the regime’s forces. As part of the public relations exercise, Mattis called the weapons «defensive» lethal weapons. Those «defensive» arms include Javelin anti-tank missiles.

Reliable reports say that lethal US weaponry has already begun arriving, including grenade launchers and the high-powered Barrett M-82 sniper rifles with a range of 1.8 kilometers. According to sources in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), the American military supplies are being delivered through private US firms, which obscures Washington’s official involvement.

Over the past week, DPR military chief Eduard Basurin has cited as many as 200 violations of the ceasefire supposedly in place under the 2015 Minsk Accord. Those violations were carried with heavy artillery and mortars, hitting 25 locations in the Donetsk province. The DPR also claims that Kiev forces are moving up heavy weapons, including Howitzers, to the Contact Line, in another breach of Minsk.

Meanwhile, a check on the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission’s latest reporting on the ground indicates «fewer ceasefire violations». Typical of the OSCE reporting, those violations that are noted are worded in vague fashion in such a way that it is not clear which party is committing the attacks. The OSCE reports cite explosions and artillery fire, but rarely assign blame or details that might allow readers to ascertain who is firing at who. The lack of details strongly suggests a deliberate effort by the OSCE authorities to obfuscate. Yet, it claims to be a frontline source for journalists to file reports on what is happening in Ukraine. No wonder Western media in particular are so vacant about the conflict, if this is their source.

Given the Pentagon’s move to openly step up lethal weapons to the Kiev regime, the implications for worsening violence in eastern Ukraine are ominous. Kiev’s forces, which include Neo-Nazi battalions, have been waging an «Anti-Terror Operation» (ATO) on the ethnic Russian population of Donetsk and Luhansk since April 2014. Up to 10,000 have died in the conflict. The ATO was originally launched at the same time that then CIA chief John Brennan visited the Kiev regime – two months after the CIA backed the coup that brought the regime to power.

The violence has continued despite the signing by Kiev and the separatists of the two-year-old Minsk Accord – brokered by Russia, France and Germany. The Kiev regime headed up by President Petro Poroshenko claims that the separatists are «terrorists» supported by Russian «aggression». The separatists view the Kiev regime as illegitimate having violently and illegally seized power from an elected government in February 2014.

Washington backs the illogical position of Kiev and its evident repudiation of the Minsk Accord in spite of its signature. Yet, perversely, the US imposes sanctions on Russia for allegedly not implementing the Minsk deal.

This week, Germany’s Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel gave his support to the proposal announced by Vladimir Putin for a UN peacekeeping force. The Donetsk and Luhansk separatists have also voiced their support for the initiative. Russia is putting the matter before the United Nations Security Council. But it is not clear if the US will scupper the proposal.

The Kiev regime and US government-owned Radio Free Europe quickly poured scorn on Russia’s proposal. Cynically, it is claimed that the deployment of UN peacekeepers on the Contact Line would bolster the separatists’ territorial claims. Instead, Kiev wants UN troops to be deployed all across the breakaway republics and on the border with Russia.

But this is the point. The Kiev regime cannot be trusted to uphold any ceasefire agreement or commitments to recognize autonomy in Donetsk and Luhansk, as it is obligated to do under Minsk. Having UN blue helmets stationed all over the breakaway republics would most likely give Kiev a cover to infiltrate its forces. Just a quick indicator of bad faith was the routine breaching of the so-called «schools truce» called on August 25 by Poroshenko. That truce was called at the same time that Pentagon chief James Mattis was visiting Kiev, suggesting it was a public relations stunt to ease the announced supply of «defensive» lethal weapons by Washington.

Thus, the Russian proposal for UN monitors at the interface between Kiev troops and the separatists is a reasonable move. It may not be effective in stemming the violence especially in light of US stepping up weapons supplies. But, at least, it is worth giving a chance. The other potentially positive effect is that the UN peacekeepers might be able to account more accurately on which side is stoking the violence. This is all the more important since the OSCE has shown itself to be totally ineffectual, or worse, complicit in giving the Kiev regime a cover for its depredations.

The OSCE comprises 57 participating nations, including the US, Russia and European states. But its membership is dominated by 29 countries belonging to the US-led NATO military alliance. Russia has long complained that the OSCE needs reforming to allow for more balanced representation.

In his 2007 landmark speech to the Munich Security Conference, Putin warned, among many global issues, that Washington and its NATO allies were «trying to transform the OSCE into a vulgar instrument to promote Western foreign policy interests».

Like many other multilateral institutions, including the UN, the European Union and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), the OSCE has demonstrated a subservience to Washington’s geopolitical dominance.

This is clearly the case in Ukraine. The OSCE has never issued an unequivocal condemnation of Kiev forces, even though the latter have carried out countless violations and are the main obstacle to implementing a peaceful settlement.

In a must-read revealing interview, one former American member of the OSCE said that the organization routinely distorts the nature of the conflict in Ukraine and is «highly biased in favor of the Kiev regime». He said that field reports from rank-and-file OSCE officers were often suppressed by their superiors based in Kiev.

Alexander Hug, the ex-Swiss army chief of the OSCE operation in Ukraine, has in the past written opinion articles for the Kyiv Post, a news outlet that is stridently pro-regime and openly anti-Russian. In one of Hug’s articles, it bore the tagline «Russia’s war against Ukraine». Ironically, the OSCE chief introduced that article with the words: «The first casualty of war is the truth». For the OSCE chief to show such flagrant bias is contemptible and brings the so-called monitor into disrepute.

All the signs indicate that the war in Ukraine is set to escalate – especially given the increased supply of American weaponry to Kiev regime forces. Washington is acting recklessly. It is tacitly declaring war in Ukraine, with grave implications for US-Russia relations.

The deployment of UN peacekeepers to the conflict zone may not be sufficient to prevent the US-backed regime going on the offensive. But at least the presence of more international monitors might allow for more critical information on which side is pushing the violence.

Certainly, the OSCE monitors already in place are totally unreliable despite their claims of impartiality. Indeed, the OSCE as presently formulated and deployed is part of the problem for why a peaceful settlement in Ukraine is continually confounded.

Russia’s proposal for UN peacekeepers is being viewed cynically in the West as a hollow gesture. Such Western views are contorted and laced with their usual Russophobia instead of being objective.

The Russian proposal is simply due to the fact of the OSCE being hopelessly derelict in its duties, and in need of being sidelined by some other more effective monitoring mechanism. The war-footing of the US-backed Kiev regime amid OSCE silence is testament to its dereliction.

September 10, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Militarism, Russophobia | , , , , | 1 Comment

97% Of Climate “Experts” Promised You The Arctic Would Be Ice-Free By 2014

Climatism | July 16, 2017

NASA ice free

The Argus-Press – Google News Archive Search

Gore Ice free 2014.png

Gore: Polar ice cap may disappear by summer 2014

BBC Ice free

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Arctic summers ice-free ‘by 2013’

Guardian Ice free

Ice-free Arctic in two years heralds methane catastrophe – scientist | Environment | The Guardian

Sierra CLub 2013

ICE WILL VANISH IN 2013 – Why Arctic sea ice will vanish in 2013 | Sierra Club Canada

•••

CLIMATE experts have been saying this same story for generations:

North Pole.png

04 Apr 1923 – THE NORTH POLE. – Trove

The Guardian says the Arctic will be ice-free this summer…

Guardian Ice free 2016.jpg

‘Next year or the year after, the Arctic will be free of ice’ | Environment | The Guardian

BACK IN THE REAL WORLD

ARTIC sea-ice is tracking previous years of stable extent:

current Arctic

Centre for Ocean and Ice | Danmarks Meteorologiske Institut

•••

UN / WEC CLIMATE CHANGE SCARE-MONGERING

NOW, climate scientists and their “97%” triad of sycophant orgs are promising you that your Arctic will be ice-free by “2040” – plenty more wriggle-room for their catastrophic predictions to play out…

Screen Shot 2017-07-16 at , July 16, 12.52.16 AM.png

The Arctic could be ice free by 2040 | World Economic Forum

“Expected”, “could”…

That’s the great thing about the future.

July 15, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 3 Comments

Afghan Doctor Slaughter Pulls Back Curtain

By Nicolas J S Davies | Consortium News | October 4, 2015

On Dec. 26, 2009, a U.S. Special Operations team flew from Kabul to Ghazi Khan village in the Narang district of Kunar province. They attacked three houses, where they killed two adults and eight children. Seven of the children were handcuffed before they were shot. The youngest was 11 or 12, three more were 12, and one was 15. Both the United Nations and the Afghan government conducted investigations and confirmed all the details of the attack.

U.S. officials conducted their own inquiry, but no report was published and no U.S. military or civilian officials were held accountable. Finally, more than five years later, a New York Times report on Joint Special Operations Command’s (JSOC) Seal Team 6 named it as the U.S. force involved. But JSOC operations are officially secret and, to all practical purposes, immune from accountability. As a senior U.S. officer told the Times, “JSOC investigates JSOC, that’s part of the problem.”

Accountability for the U.S. attack on the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz on Saturday, killing at least 22 people, is likely to be just as elusive. The bilateral security agreement that President Karzai refused to sign, but which President Ghani signed in September 2014, provides total immunity from Afghan law for U.S. forces and officials. So whoever should be held legally responsible for the massacre at the hospital will only be subject to accountability under U.S. military and civilian legal systems, which routinely fail to prosecute anyone for similar war crimes.

What makes this attack unique is not that U.S.-led forces attacked a hospital or killed civilians, but that, for the first time in many years, a Western NGO found itself operating behind enemy lines in territory controlled by Anti-Coalition Forces (ACF) or Taliban. Doctors Without Borders (or MSF for its French initials) thus found itself subject to U.S. rules of engagement under which Afghans have lived and died in their thousands for the past 14 years, effectively excluded from the protections formally guaranteed to civilians, the wounded and medical facilities by the Geneva Conventions.

While UN officials have condemned the attack on MSF in Kunduz, the UN itself has been complicit in the under-reporting of civilian casualties in ACF-held territory in Afghanistan. The UN has issued reports on civilian casualties based only on the small number of civilian deaths that it has fully investigated. When Western officials and media have cited these numbers as estimates of total civilian deaths in Afghanistan, the UN has failed to correct that misleading and dangerous impression.

For instance, when the UN documented 80 civilian killings in U.S. night raids in 2010, this was based on completed investigations of only 13 of the 73 incidents reported to the UN that year. Nader Nadery of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, who worked on the UN report, estimated that 420 civilians were killed in all 73 incidents.

But Nadery still failed to make it clear that these 73 incidents were only the ones reported to the UN, which had little or no access to ACF-held areas that were targeted by thousands of U.S. night raids and the bulk of 5,100 U.S. air strikes in 2010. U.S. officials and the Western media have used these absurdly low estimates of civilian casualties in Afghanistan to whitewash the deadly effects of 60,000 U.S. air strikes and thousands of special forces night raids over the past 14 years.

‘War Is Not Pretty’

As a former U.S. Navy Seal told the New York Times, “War is not this pretty thing the United States has come to believe it to be.” But it is not really “the United States” that has come to see war as a “pretty thing.” Rather it is our leaders who have targeted the American public with propaganda or “Stratcom” – “strategic communications” — to disguise the horrific reality of war, while providing JSOC and other U.S. forces with secrecy and legal cover to systematically violate the Geneva Conventions.

As retired Admiral James Stavridis told the Times, “If you want these forces to do things that occasionally bend the rules of international law, you certainly don’t want that out in public.”

While U.S. forces feel free to disregard the Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian law, the People On War survey conducted by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) found that ordinary people in war-torn countries like Afghanistan hold strongly to the international legal conventions that are supposed to protect them.

This ICRC report did find the United States exceptional, not in believing war to be “pretty,” but in its failure to educate its people and its soldiers about the Geneva Conventions and the protections they guarantee to civilians in wartime.

While three-quarters of people in other developed countries knew that soldiers in war “must attack only other combatants and leave civilians alone,” only 52 percent of Americans were aware of this basic principle of military law. Twice as many Americans as people in other countries subscribed to an erroneous and lower legal standard that military operations should only “avoid civilians as much as possible.”

The ICRC concluded that, “Across a wide range of questions, in fact, American attitudes towards attacks on civilians were much more lax.”

U.S. officials claim that their air strikes are carefully designed and vetted by military lawyers and planners to ensure minimum “collateral damage,” but William Arkin discovered a dirty little secret about this process when he was invited to observe an attack on an alleged ACF leader in Afghanistan from the safety of the U.S. Combined Air and Space Operations Center in Qatar.

Arkin watched on a large TV screen as A-10 Warthog planes dropped two 500-pound bombs on a convoy of vehicles. U.S. officials explained that 1,000-pound bombs would have caused more casualties, while 150-pound Hellfire missiles might have missed their target, so the 500-pound bombs were carefully chosen to kill the target without causing unnecessary casualties.

But then one of the planes did something unexpected. It turned to make a second pass and blanketed the whole area with 30mm armor-piercing shells from its Gatling gun, which fires 65 shells per second. A “precision strike” had just turned into an indiscriminate massacre. A U.S. official quickly told Arkin that this was “not unauthorized.”

The dirty little secret Arkin had discovered was that, once such an operation is under way, special forces ground controllers in the area take full control, and the plans drawn up by lawyers and controllers far from the action no longer apply. Similar rules may have applied to the U.S. air strikes on the MSF hospital in Kunduz, making it difficult for anyone in Washington or Kabul to stop them once they were under way.

Erroneous Raids

Senior U.S. military officers have told Dana Priest of the Washington Post that more than 50 percent of U.S. special forces night raids target the wrong person or house. But that didn’t stop President Obama making them a central tactic in his escalation of the war in Afghanistan, boosting the number of night raids from 20 raids in May 2009 to 1,000 per month a year later.

There is no reason to believe that U.S. air strikes are more accurate or based on better intelligence than night raids by special operations forces. British military adviser Kamal Alam explained to the BBC last Friday that Russian air strikes in Syria are likely to be more accurate than U.S. ones because they have the critical advantage of being guided by Syrian military intelligence on the ground.

Alam noted that even the Iraqi government depends on Syrian military intelligence in its campaign against the Islamic State, and added that this is a source of embarrassment to U.S. officials, who have no such human intelligence capabilities in Syria or Iraq.

Maybe the attack on the MSF hospital in Kunduz will force more Americans to confront the ugly reality of the devastating air war our country has waged across half a dozen countries for 14 years. [See Consortiumnews.com’sAmerica’s Endless Air Wars.”]

Whether any institution can succeed in holding U.S. officials legally accountable for the bombing of the MSF hospital or not, it may finally bring home the horrors and the indiscriminate nature of our country’s endless air war to millions of Americans. U.S. propaganda will try to portray this as a tragic isolated incident. It is not. It is a war crime, and only the latest in a 14-year-long policy of systematic war crimes.


Nicolas J S Davies is the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.  He also wrote the chapters on “Obama at War” in Grading the 44th President: a Report Card on Barack Obama’s First Term as a Progressive Leader.

October 5, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ukraine unrecognized republics demand international tribunal on Kiev actions

ukraine-1.si

RT | July 8, 2015

The heads of the Ukrainian unrecognized Donetsk and Lugansk republics have asked the United Nations Security Council to establish an international tribunal to investigate and prosecute those responsible for waging civil war in eastern Ukraine.

“Donetsk People’s Republic [DNR] and Lugansk [LNR] People’s Republic are addressing the UN Security Council with a plea to establish an international tribunal for legal prosecution of those responsible for violation of the International Humanitarian Law and crimes against humanity in Ukraine,” the DNR head, Aleksandr Zakharchenko, and LNR head Igor Plotnitsky said at a joint press conference.

Those found responsible should be brought to trial, they stressed.

The heads of the unrecognized republics are calling for the leaders of Russia, the US, China, Great Britain and France to consider this proposal at the next UNSC session.

“Expecting your soonest reply to the proposal,” Plotnitsky said.

Aleksandr Zakharchenko said Kiev’s operation in Donbass is “a direct violation of the Geneva convention.”

The military operation in eastern Ukraine began in spring last year after residents in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions refused to recognize the coup-imposed government in Kiev.

On February 12, in Minsk, peace negotiations between the two sides resulted in a second ceasefire agreement. The first was signed in summer 2014 and was violated practically immediately. The current ceasefire is also being violated on a frequent basis. Shelling in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics happens every other day, with both sides pointing the finger at each other.

Aleksandr Zakharchenko said the prosecutors’ offices of both republics have collected copious evidence of war crimes committed by Kiev troops.

“There is a considerable volume of evidence of the Ukrainian National Guards’ involvement in torture and killing of civilians. Dozens of mass graves have been found on territory that was occupied by Ukrainian troops,” Zakharchenko said.

The DNR and LNR also have evidence of Ukrainian troops using weapons prohibited by the international arms conventions, including cluster and phosphorous bombs.

Since the beginning of 2015 an estimated 1,212 civilians, including 25 children, have died in shelling incidents.

July 8, 2015 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Israel considers leaving UN Human Rights Council after Gaza probe – report

RT | June 29, 2015

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly questioned his country’s membership in the United Nation’s Human Rights Council following its recent report on last summer’s Gaza conflict.

The announcement, in which Netanyahu referred to the UNHRC commission as a “hypocritical committee,” was made during a closed-door meeting with top Israeli officials on Monday.

“In light of the [UN Gaza] report, we will consider whether or not to stay in the Human Rights Council,” Netanyahu said, according to Army Radio.

It’s not the first time Israel has been at odds with the Council during the UNHRC’s 9 year-long history. Back in 2012, then-foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman made a decision to quit the council over its probe into Jewish settlements in the West Bank. However, Israel reinstated its membership a year later.

Lieberman, who also was present at Monday’s meeting, reportedly reminded Netanyahu about the precedent. “As foreign minister, I ended Israel’s involvement in the Human Rights Council. Why did you change that decision?” he asked.

On Monday afternoon, about 1,000 people from several European countries, both Jews and Christians, rallied in Geneva to support Israel, as the UN Human Rights Council had another debate on the matter.

“The reason we are here today is to tell the United Nations that it needs to change. It needs to overcome its obsession with Israel. This obsession is destructive and it stands in the way of an effective human rights policy that is so badly needed,” World Jewish Congress (WJC) CEO Robert Singer told demonstrators.

The UN Human Rights Council report on the 2014 Gaza conflict was released last week. It concluded that both Israeli Defense Forces and the Hamas Palestinian group had committed war crimes. The organization also accepted the Palestinian death count, which estimated that 65 percent of those killed in the seige were civilians, or 1,462 out of a total of 2,251 Palestinians killed.

“The report is biased,” Netanyahu said upon the release of the report. “Israel is not perpetrating war crimes but rather protecting itself from an organization that carries out war crimes. We won’t sit back with our arms crossed as our citizens are attacked by thousands of missiles.”

June 30, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Profoundly distressing’: UNESCO condemns Saudi-led bombing of historic Yemen capital

san_a03

The Old Town of Sanaa, Yemen (image from wikipedia.org by flickr user ai@ce)
RT | June 12, 2015

The director-general of UNESCO has said she is “shocked” after an airstrike destroyed three houses in the Old City of Sanaa, where the oldest building dates back over 1,400 years.

Planes belonging to the anti-rebel coalition, led by Saudi Arabia, and endorsed by the United States, bombed a house, where a senior commander of the Shiite Houthi rebels, was purportedly hiding.

The airstrike, the first direct hit on the Old City since airstrikes began 11 weeks ago, caused the destruction of a trio of three-story buildings, and the death of five people, all presumably belonging to the same family. Houthi sources said there were six casualties, and five buildings were decimated.

“I am profoundly distressed by the loss of human lives as well as by the damage inflicted on one of the world’s oldest jewels of Islamic urban landscape. I am shocked by the images of these magnificent many-storyed tower-houses and serene gardens reduced to rubble,” said Irina Bokova in a statement.

“This destruction will only exacerbate the humanitarian situation and I reiterate my call to all parties to respect and protect the cultural heritage in Yemen. This heritage bears the soul of the Yemeni people, it is a symbol of a millennial history of knowledge and it belongs to all humankind.”

The current Yemeni capital has been inhabited for over 2,500 years, and was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1986. It features tightly packed rammed earth and burnt brick houses, mosques and public baths, all decorated with elaborate geometric patterns.

UNESCO, charged with preserving historic and natural landmarks, is the second UN agency to draw attention to the conflict this week. The turmoil has seen more than 2,500 lose their lives.

“20.4 million people are now estimated to be in need of some form of humanitarian assistance, of whom 9.3 million are children,” Jeremy Hopkins, deputy representative of UNICEF, the emergency relief arm of the UN, said in Sanaa on Thursday.

“The de facto blockade on Yemen’s ports, though there is some easing, means fuel is not coming into the country, and since pumps are mechanized that means over 20 million people don’t have access to safe water.”

On Friday, the coalition issued a statement saying it wouldn’t stop its ground and bombing campaign until an April UN resolution, demanding Houthi withdrawal is implemented.

Yemen existed as two separate and often hostile states prior to reunification in 1990, and tensions have resurfaced since Shia President Saleh was deposed in 2012. His Shia supporters, reportedly aided by Iran, occupied the capital Sanaa in September last year.

With the current Sunni President Hadi forced into exile, other Sunni states, including most Gulf monarchies, Egypt and Pakistan have stepped in to return him to power, deploying a force of over 150,000 troops and 150 warplanes.

June 12, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

UN spurns Palestinian children

Palestinian-youth-arrested-by-Israeli-soldiers-in-Beit-Hanina

Hemaya Center for Human Rights |June 8, 2015

Gaza, Occupied Palestine – Ban Ki-moon’s decision not to include Israel on the list of violators of children’s rights twists the knife in the heart of every Palestinian parent, making it very clear that in the eyes of the United Nations, Palestinian children’s lives don’t count.

When a military with the most sophisticated and accurate weaponry on the planet can kill more than 500 children in cold blood with complete impunity, as Israel’s absence from the list shows, it reveals more than just the complete disregard for Palestinian lives that has become so commonplace in the halls of power. It also makes it abundantly clear that the UN, the single most important international organisation charged with protecting the lives of the most vulnerable, is failing spectacularly.

Children are the lifeblood of the future. How can any world citizen look at the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Palestinian child death toll from the 2014 Israeli aggression, and this decision, and not be appalled?

At best it reflects the paucity of  responsible leadership evident in the UN under Ban Ki-moon’s secretaryship, which has seen public faith in the international organisation reach an all-time low.

At worst it underlines the gross politicisation of an organisation purporting to uphold the rights of ALL humans – and failing.
The only way Ban Ki-moon’s decision – if not his entire leadership in relation to the Palestinian issue – can be called a success is if the intention is to ‘grow’ a generation of increasingly angry cynics with no respect for the abject hypocrisy emanating from Geneva and New York.

Hemaya expresses its utmost disappointment in the attitude to Palestinian children that the decision represents, and calls on human rights bodies and concerned citizens everywhere to roundly reject it by supporting and valuing those Palestinian children who survived, and who continue to suffer under illegal occupation, repression and siege.

June 8, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , | 7 Comments

Israel a criminal offender at large, UN listing or not

RT | June 5, 2015

Reports have come out that the UN was considering adding Israel to the list of “grave violations against children in armed conflict.” As detailed below, Israeli army and Israel’s state policies are systematically violent against Palestinian children.

A recent Independent article noted that [Special Envoy for Children and Armed Conflict Leila] “Zerrougui’s draft report cited IDF attacks on schools and hospitals during the 2014 war in the Gaza Strip…”

Even though the UN has historically not taken strong action against any of Israel’s war crimes over the decades, let alone those specifically against Palestinian children, Israel has reportedly exerted pressure to be de-listed from the draft list, with seeming success.

The Independent wrote, “UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, however, is said to be leaning towards not including Israel in the list, amid what several diplomatic sources anonymously said was intense lobbying from Israel.”

Apparently, Israel thinks such call for its joining the list is “a heinous and hypocritical attempt to besmirch the image of Israel and it is doomed to fail,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon reportedly said.

In fact, the UN should have listed Israel from at least 2009 when, as the UN website notes, “the Security Council decided to also list armed forces and groups who kill and maim children, commit sexual violence against children, and attack schools and hospitals.”

Does Israel violate the six areas detailed? Five out of six, most definitely:

– Killing or maiming of children; [See below]

– Sexual violence against children; [The Israeli army routinely threatens and enacts sexual abuse of Palestinian children]

– Attacks against schools or hospitals; [The Israeli army routinely fires ammunition and tear gas at Palestinian schools; it has repeatedly bombed schools and hospitals in Gaza]

– Abduction of children; [See below]

– Denial of humanitarian access for children. [Israel’s blockade on Gaza strangles the medical sector; Israel routinely denies exit to Palestinians ( including children) for medical care outside of Gaza; the illegal wall Israel has constructed throughout much of the West Bank prevents Palestinians (including children) from accessing medical care.] [see also: Al Mezan Releases Factsheet on Gazan Children’s Access to Medical Care]

– Recruitment or use of children by armed forces and groups; [This is the one point which strictly speaking doesn’t apply. However, the Israeli army has used Palestinian children as human shields]

Members of the Israeli army themselves have admitted various crimes. A Breaking the Silence report “Children and Youth – Soldiers’ Testimonies 2005-2011” noted:

“This booklet reveals how physical violence is often exerted against children, whether in response to accusations of stone-throwing or, more often, arbitrarily.”

Further testimonies following the the July/August 2014 war on Gaza highlight the brutality meted out on Palestinians (including children).

Killing or maiming of children

Having between November 2008 and March 2013 lived a cumulative three years in the Gaza Strip, including during two Israeli waged massacres of Palestinians in Gaza, I present three (of too many) cases of Israel targeting children, of which I have personal knowledge.

On January 4, 2009, Shahed Abu Halima lay cradled in her mother’s arms, the family terrorized like Palestinians all over Gaza by incessant Israeli bombing. Their area, al-Atatra, west of Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza, was particularly hard-hit, and had been invaded by Israeli tanks. Of the two shells that hit baby Shahed’s home, at least one was white phosphorous, raining clumps of the chemical weapon down on the family. The flames which enveloped Shahed’s body were not extinguishable, nor could her mother Sabah see through the smoke and flames to reach the infant. Shahed’s dog-eaten, charred corpse was only found days later when Palestinian medics were finally allowed to enter the area. [see: Next Time It Will Hurt More]

Farah Abu Halima, 3, severely burned by Israeli-fired White Phosphorus, January 4, 2009 (Photo by Eva Bartlett)

Farah Abu Halima, 3, severely burned by Israeli-fired White Phosphorus, January 4, 2009 (Photo by Eva Bartlett)

Also on January 4, 2009, Shireen Abu Helou continued nursing her dying baby, Farah (“joy” in Arabic), in a futile effort to bring the infant comfort while her family took cover from Israeli fire behind a bulldozed dirt mound in the Zeitoun district just south of Gaza City (infamous for the herding of entire families from the Samouni clan into one building and repeatedly bombing it; infamous for the point blank shootings of individuals, including 4-year-old Ahmed shot dead after crying about his father’s execution). One-year-old Farah did not survive the Israeli sniper’s bullet to her abdomen, her intestines falling out as she bled to death over the course of a few hours. [see: They Killed Me Three Times]

On November 21, 2012, a 14-year-old boy asked his father for 10 shekels, to go to the small store up the road to buy food for his siblings who hadn’t eaten anything but bread for the past five days of Israeli bombing. The bombing had not quite stopped, but Nader Abu Mghaseeb believed he was safe, a ceasefire due to be enforced in just under two hours. He was incorrect. Minutes after the precision drone strike hit Nader, his father rushed out to find the dying, tangled mass of flesh that had been his son.

In Deir al-Balah’s al-Aqsa hospital, I saw the teen’s mangled corpse brought in. His stunned father stood outside trying to comprehend that Israeli-fired, precision drone technology had obliterated his clearly unarmed 14-year-old son. [see: Killing before the Calm: “Israeli” Attacks on Palestinian Civilians Escalated before Cease-fire]

Two years and many Palestinian child martyrs and maimings later, during the July/August 2014 Israeli massacre of Gaza, four small boys ran for their lives across an empty Gaza beach as the Israeli navy chased them with shelling, eventually hitting their prey. The shelling of the Bakr boys, aged nine to 11, was recorded by a number of Palestinian and foreign journalists camped out at the nearby Deira hotel, many of whom broke down at witnessing this savagery.

Of the July/August Israeli massacre of Gaza, Defense for Children International-Palestine’s (DCI-Palestine) April 16, 2015 report noted:

“DCIP independently verified the deaths of 547 Palestinian children among the killed in Gaza, 535 of them as a direct result of Israeli attacks. Nearly 68 percent of the children killed by Israeli forces were 12 years old or younger. Those who survived these attacks will continue to pay the price for many years. More than 1,000 children suffered injuries that rendered them permanently disabled, according to OCHA.”

The assault on Palestinian children is, of course, not merely limited to its times of bombing Gaza. Almost daily in Gaza’s border regions and on the sea, children are machine-gunned and shelled by the genocidal bully of the region, under the pretext of “security.” Having witnessed this on countless occasions, myself under fire with the brave farmers, I can say one hundred percent affirmatively that they posed no security threat to the well-armed Israeli army (nor navy).

In the rest of occupied Palestine, whether during the criminal routine Israeli army invasions and lock-downs of West Bank and Jerusalem areas, or during demonstrations against the illegal Wall stealing yet more Palestinian land, or merely randomly, Palestinian children are targeted by Israeli live ammunition, tear gas canisters, and hands-on brutality, not only by the so-called “most morale army” but also the unspoken of proxy soldiers: those vile, racist, illegal Jewish colonists who (claiming God’s approval) abuse Palestinians of all ages, without consequences.

Early in the morning of July 2, 2014, Mohammed Abu Khdeir went missing while going to mosque for morning prayers in occupied Jerusalem. His slight body was found a few hours later charred and beaten. Before his Jewish colonist tormentors poured gas down his throat and lit him alive, they beat he the 16 year old with a blunt object to his head. The autopsy report “showed soot in the victim’s lungs and respiratory tract, indicating he was alive and breathing while he was being burnt.”

Reham Nabaheen, 4, killed by Israeli shrapnel to her head, November 21, 2012 (Photo by Eva Bartlett)

Reham Nabaheen, 4, killed by Israeli shrapnel to her head, November 21, 2012 (Photo by Eva Bartlett)

The systematic brutality of Israel’s colonists and Israeli soldiers against Palestinians is met with virtually no reprimand by Israel. On their “Settler violence: Lack of accountability,” rights group B’Tselem noted in 2011 (updated January 2013):

“When Israelis harm Palestinians, the authorities implement an undeclared policy of forgiveness, compromise, and leniency in punishment. Israeli security forces have done little to prevent settler violence or to arrest offenders. Many acts of violence have never been investigated; in other cases, investigations have been drawn out and resulted in no action being taken against anyone.”

In November 2013, Palestinian rights group Al Haq issued a new report (“Institutionalised Impunity: Israel’s Failure to Combat Settler Violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory”) and noted:

“According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the number of settler attacks resulting in Palestinian casualties and property damage increased by over 144 percent in 2011, compared to 2009. In 2013, the report of the United Nations International Fact-Finding Mission on Settlements highlighted the failure of the Israeli authorities to enforce the law by investigating such incidents and taking measures against their perpetrators. The Fact-Finding Mission came to the “clear conclusion that there is institutionalised discrimination against the Palestinian people when it comes to addressing violence. Acts of settler violence are intended, organised, and publicly represented to influence the political decisions of Israeli State authorities.”

Throughout the West Bank and Jerusalem, Jewish colonists routinely run over Palestinian children. Two examples include an October 2014 hit and run near Ramallah of two 5 year old Palestinian girls, one of whom—Inas Shawkat Khalil—died from her injuries.

Child abduction and imprisonment

According to Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association’s April 2015 update, 182 Palestinian children are imprisoned by Israel, including 26 under the age of 16. They note that“8,000 Palestinian children have been arrested since 2000.”

DCI-Palestine notes:

“Israel is the only country in the world that automatically prosecutes children in military courts that lack basic and fundamental fair trial guarantees. Interrogations tend to be coercive, including a variety of verbal abuse, threats and physical violence that ultimately result in a confession.”

They further note that most Israeli-imprisoned Palestinian children are nabbed in the middle of the night, something youths from Resistance villages like Bil’in are well-familiar with. Bil’in, known for its popular demonstrations against the illegal, land-grabbing Wall, has lost many a martyr, including children to Israel’s brutal attempts at stifling dissent (On that note: to all the media that leapt on the false, “Bashar is killing unarmed protesters band-wagon,” Israel is actually doing so).

That the UN is even considering not including Israel on the list speaks further volumes to the uselessness of this institution, a body that serves only to put the odd band-aid on the seeping Palestinian wound and to endorse criminal bombings of sovereign nations.

In any case, Israel need not worry that anyone is trying to “besmirch” its reputation. It has proven quite adept at doing that all on its own. Every blown-off Palestinian child’s head, every Palestinian child behind Israeli bars, every Mohammed Abu Khdair tortured and killed by Jewish colonists, and every colonists’ intentional running over of Palestinian children “besmirches” what is left of the racist, genocidal state’s reputation, with or without UN recognition.

Eva Bartlett is a freelance journalist and rights activist who has lived in the Gaza Strip since late 2008.

June 5, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Kiev to allow foreign armed forces in Ukraine, incl. ‘potential carriers of nukes’

RT | June 5, 2015

The Ukrainian parliament has adopted amendments to state law allowing “admission of the armed forces of other states on the territory of Ukraine.” The possible hosting of foreign weapons of mass destruction is also mentioned in the documents.

Amendments to Ukrainian law were adopted on Thursday by the Verkhovna Rada, receiving a majority of 240 votes (the required minimum being 226). The bill was submitted to the parliament in May by PM Arseny Yatsenyuk. It focuses on the provision of “international peacekeeping and security” assistance to Ukraine at its request.

Peacekeeping missions are to be deployed “on the basis of decision of the UN and/or the EU,” the bill published on the parliament’s official website says.

Previously, the presence of any international military forces on the territory of Ukraine not specifically sanctioned by state law was only possible by adopting a special law initiated by the president. Implementation of the new amendments “will create necessary conditions for deployment on the territory of Ukraine international peacekeeping and security” missions without the need for additional legal authorization, the explanatory note to the draft bill said.

The presence of such armed forces in Ukraine “should ensure an early normalization of situation” in Donbass, the note added, saying that they would help “restore law and order and life, constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens” in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.

In a comparative table, published among the accompanying documents to the bill, “potential carriers of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction are permitted under international agreement with Ukraine for short-term accommodation,” with Kiev providing proper control during the period that such forces were stationed there.

Implementation of the law “will not require additional expenditures from the State Budget of Ukraine,” its documents say.

The previous law also required that the length of time temporary peacekeeping forces were to be deployed in Ukraine be stipulated, while the new amendments allow an indefinite period, long enough “to achieve the goal of the stay.”

A separate amendment banned the presence of “armed forces of states that unleash military aggression against Ukraine.” This appears to be a clear reference to the Rada’s January statement calling Russia an “aggressor” – although the body has been reluctant to approve a legally binding law saying exactly that.

Moscow denies being part of the conflict, stressing that Kiev is fighting a civil war with eastern Ukrainians, not Russian forces. The Kremlin has consistently and adamantly denied any presence of Russian troops or hardware in eastern Ukraine, pointing out that there is no evidence proving otherwise.

With violence in south-eastern Ukraine on the rise again, it is “very important to avoid any actions or steps that provoke escalation of tension,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday, as quoted by RIA Novosti. Saying that there is “no shortage” of provocative actions from Kiev’s side, Peskov said the main point is “to concentrate on implementation of [Minsk] agreements.” “This is what Moscow expects the most,” he added.

The new bill on international peacekeeping missions in Ukraine contradicts the Minsk agreements, Russian State Duma MP Leonid Slutsky said. “Minsk-2 did not provide for peacekeepers in resolution of the national conflict,” Slutsky said, as quoted by TASS.

The new legal act is “doomed for inaction,” a member of the Russian Duma’s defense committee, Franz Klintsevich, said, adding that the bill is “pure PR and propaganda.” “I cannot simulate a situation in which the United Nations will vote to deploy international military to Ukraine,” Klintsevich told journalists, as cited by RIA Novosti.

The Lugansk People’s Republic’s envoy to the so-called Contact Group on Ukraine in Minsk, Vladislav Dainego, commented that the law was adopted to “justify the presence” of foreign military that are “already operating in Ukraine.” “There are some 20,000 [troops], primarily from Hungary and Poland,” Dainego claimed when speaking to Interfax, adding that the status of those forces was unclear.

Kiev came up with the initiative to employ peacekeeping missions in Donbass earlier this year. Moscow has insisted that deployment of such forces in Ukraine would be relevant only after all points of the Minsk agreement have been fully implemented, and only if both sides of the conflict – Kiev and the rebel republics – agree to the measure.

Read more:

Deployment of peacekeepers should be agreed with both sides of Ukrainian conflict – Lavrov

‘Stick to Minsk deal’: Russia slams Ukraine idea for EU peacekeepers

June 5, 2015 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ukraine humanitarian crisis ‘one of the world’s worst’ – UN refugee agency

RT | May 28, 2015

The rise in the number of refugees in the Ukrainian conflict is resulting in one of the world’s “worst humanitarian crisis” today, the UN has confirmed, as sporadic fighting and a lack of aid forces civilians flee to neighboring countries, mainly Russia.

The number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and those seeking refuge abroad is reaching catastrophic proportions despite the February-implemented Minsk II ceasefire agreement which barely holds ground with intermittent fighting continuing in the Donbass region.

The latest statistics from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) show that some 857,000 Ukrainians have sought asylum in neighboring countries. That is an increase of about 23,000 people in the last two weeks.

“The situation seems to be getting worse,” William Spindler, UNHCR Senior Communications Officer for Europe, West Africa, Statelessness told RT. He says that the number of IDPs and refugees from Ukraine has surpassed 2 million people. He added that people in Donbass continue to live in “substandard accommodation” as a result of the ongoing fighting.

“1.2 million people have been displaced inside Ukraine and over 800,000 people have gone to neighboring countries,” Spindler said, confirming the latest figures disclosed by his office. He added that those fleeing to neighbouring countries have gone “mainly to the Russian Federation” as well as Belarus, Poland, Germany and France.

In the latest report on the Ukraine conflict, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that between mid-April 2014 and 14 May 2015, at least 6,334 people were killed and 15,752 wounded. It also reported a danger posed to civilians by “unexploded ordinance and landmines” that are still left in Donbass.

“The situation is very serious, very worrying. This is one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world today,” Spindler said.

The lack of medicine and medical equipment in conflict areas in Ukraine poses great danger, OCHA reported earlier. Both humanitarian and political efforts on the ground by the parties involved need to be “stepped up,” Spindler says, in order to reverse the dire situation that resulted from Kiev’s ongoing so-called “anti-terrorist operation” in eastern Ukraine.

“We are distributing essential aid but our efforts are not sufficient to deal with the needs,” said Spindler, stressing that more funding is needed to continue humanitarian aid work as the current financing covers only some 40 percent of the organization’s mission to Ukraine.

One of the main areas of concern for the UN refugee agency is the “difficulty” civilians have crossing the conflict line, Spindler told RT. He said that in some cases people were “separated” at the crossing line between Ukrainian and rebel controlled territories, as they tried to join their relatives or “obtain benefits that they are entitled to.”

Russia meanwhile continues to receive refugees from Ukraine, accommodating those seeking shelter in refugees camps before helping them settle all across the federation. “During multiple visits to a refugee center for Ukrainians we did not notice any problems with accommodation, food, medical services and education. Everything is organized as it should be, on the same level as for Russian citizens,” UN Refugees Agency (UNHCR) representative in Russia Baisa Vak-Voya told journalists Monday.

At the same time, Federal Migration Service chief Konstantin Romodanovsky called the situation in Ukraine a humanitarian disaster, as up to 600 Ukrainians cross into Russia daily.

“It is a catastrophe, of course. Homes have been ruined there. People vote with their feet, leaving their home country and entering Russia, where they get the status of temporary refugees – not because this is something Russia wants, but simply because there is no place they can live in,” Romodanovsky told Interfax on Monday.

Russia meanwhile estimates that over a million of Ukrainians have entered Russia since the conflict began last year, according to Valentina Kazakova, head of the Federal Migration Service’s Department for Citizenship.

Out of that number some 350,000 have applied and most of them granted temporary refuge status. “Another 105,000 have applied for entrance onto the state program for assisting the voluntary resettlement of compatriots from foreign countries,” Kazakova told Interfax earlier this month.

Since the conflict began another 195,000 Ukrainians requested temporary residence permits in Russia, while 40,000 applied for permanent residence cards and 88,000 for citizenship.

May 29, 2015 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Nearly 200 scientists warn of cellphone health risks

RT | May 13, 2015

Biological and health scientists from Russia and Iran to the USA are calling on the UN, the World Health Organization and national governments to develop strict regulations concerning devices and cellphones that create electromagnetic fields.

The scientists are from 39 nations and have authored 2,000 peer-reviewed papers on the health and biological effects of non-ionizing radiation, which is part of the electromagnetic field spectrum. In a letter, they say that devices like cellphones pose risks of cancer, genetic damage, changes in reproductive system, and learning and memory deficits.

“Putting it bluntly they are damaging the living cells in our bodies and killing many of us prematurely,” said Dr. Martin Blank, from the Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics at Columbia University, in a video message.

“We have created something that is harming us, and it is getting out of control. Before Edison’s light bulb there was very little electromagnetic radiation in our environment. The levels today are very many times higher than natural background levels, and are growing rapidly because of all the new devices that emit this radiation.”

One example that was cited is the cellphone. Blank pointed to a study which showed that as cellphone usage has spread widely, the incidence of fatal brain cancer in younger people has more than tripled.

The scientists see the unregulated use of radio frequency radiation in cellphones and Wi-Fi as developing into a public health crisis. Blank said biologists and scientists are not being heard from committees that set safety standards, that safety limits are much too high and that biological facts are being ignored.

“They are not protective,” he added. “We are really all part of large biological experiment without our informed consent. To protect ourselves, our children, and our ecosystem, we must reduce exposure by establishing more protective guidelines.”

Scientists are appealing to the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) to “convene and fund an independent multidisciplinary committee to explore the pros and cons of alternative to current practices that could substantially lower human exposure to RF and ELF fields.”

They request that the deliberations be “transparent and impartial,” and involve industry players in the field. However, scientists believe industry “should not be allowed to bias the process or conclusions.” Once completed, the analysis would offer the UN and WHO a guide for precautionary action.

Questions have surfaced about the safety of EMF among the scientific community and with the public, but it is largely absent from national debate despite the ubiquitous use of devices, particularly in the United States.

“…In the United States, where non-industry-funded studies are rare, where legislation protecting the wireless industry from legal challenges has long been in place…to suggest it might be a problem – maybe, eventually, a very public-health problem – is like saying our shoes might be killing us,” wrote journalist Christopher Ketchum in a 2010 GQ article called “Warning: Your Cell Phone May Be Hazardous to Your Health.”

Ketchum said a 2008 study sponsored by the International Agency for Research on Cancer in France reported that after a decade of cellphone use, the chances of getting a brain tumor – specifically on the side of the head where you use the phone – go up as much as 40 percent for adults.

Read more: ​Berkeley to vote on ‘right to know’ law on cellphone radiation risks

May 13, 2015 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , , , , | 2 Comments