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Disastrous California Methane Leak - Tue, 12/01/2016 - 20:43
Disastrous California Methane Leak
by Stephen Lendman
Methane is the main component of natural gas - colorless, odorless and potentially explosive when mixed with air.
It’s an asphyxiant, in high concentrations able to displace oxygen needed to breathe. It can cause dizziness, headaches, bodily weakness, blurred vision, rapid heart rate, nausea, vomiting, unconsciousness, suffocation and future diseases from toxic exposure.
Everyone is exposed to low levels in outdoor air. Methane began spewing unstoppably from a leaky Southern California Porter Ranch well last October 23 - about 25 miles northwest of Los Angeles. 
It took weeks to discover the Alison Canyon source, perhaps many more months to stop it, according  to Southern California Gas (SOCAL).
Gas is escaping from 8,000 feet below ground with no signs of abating - its force equivalent “to a volcanic eruption,” according to California’s Air Resources Board.
Low-flying planes were diverted to prevent potential explosions from methane in contact with aircraft engines.
Outside California, a disaster of potentially epic proportions gets short shrift media attention. Thousands of families were displaced.
The continuing environmental disaster is America’s worst since the 2010 BP Mexican Gulf spill - coastal areas and ecosystems devastated, still struggling to recover.
Gas is escaping at the rate of about 1,300 metric tons daily. Residents risk possible serious health problems.
The Environmental Defense Fund estimates over 73,000 metric tons of methane released through early January.
Environmentalists estimate greenhouse gases released so far equal emissions from six coal-fired plants or seven million cars.
Environmental Defense Fund climate director Tim O’Connor calls the leak one of the largest ever reported - “coming out with force in incredible volumes…absolutely uncontained.”
So far, there’s no way to stop it - likely to continue through the winter, potentially well into spring with no fix on when it can be contained.
An assessment last fall was alarming, saying “(t)he enormity of the Aliso Canyon gas leak cannot be overstated.”
Escaping gas “shows no signs of stopping.” Environmental and industry experts say they can’t recall another leak as disastrous in at least the last three or four decades.
Potentially it may become America’s greatest environmental disaster if continues unchecked for many months. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency.
Area lawyers representing three affected families filed suit, stating SOCAL’s well has been “leaking noxious odors, hazardous gases, chemicals, pollutants, and contaminants due to a massive well failure and blowout.” 
“However, SoCalGas failed to inform residents of neighboring communities of the disastrous gas leak in a timely manner, putting the health and well-being of thousands of families in jeopardy.” 
The company is accused of “negligence, strict liability of ultra-hazardous activity, private nuisance, inverse condemnation, and trespass.”
A separate class-action suit was filed. City attorney Mike Feuer filed civil suit, charging SOCAL with exacerbating “the effects of (its) failure by allowing the acute odor and health problems faced by the community to persist for more than one month, to say nothing about the indefinite time it will persist into the future.”
“No community should have to endure what the residents of Porter Ranch have suffered from the gas company’s continued failure to stop (its) leak.”
Potential health hazards from methane, benzene and radon components of natural gas put area residents at risk for future cancers and other diseases - with no way of proving SOCAL’s responsibility.
Methane continues spewing unstoppably, a disaster of potentially epic proportions given scant national media coverage.
The company says it working on a way to partially control leaking gas, not stop it - providing no details on when containment may begin.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

More Evidence of Turkey Aiding ISIS - Tue, 12/01/2016 - 20:21
More Evidence of Turkey Aiding ISIS
by Stephen Lendman
Evidence keeps mounting on how Turkey directly aids ISIS, complicit with Washington, other NATO countries and regional partners.
Foreign support lets terrorist groups in Syria, Iraq and Libya thrive. Without it they’d become a spent force, unable to operate effectively on their own - what media scoundrels never explain, perpetuating the myth of US war on ISIS.
On January 10, London’s Guardian headlined “Isis ‘ran sophisticated immigration operation” on Turkey-Syria border,” saying:
Documents seized by Kurdish forces dated December 2014 - March 2015 have ISIS “department of immigration” and “department of transport” stamps.
They show its fighters freely moved back and forth through Turkish and Syrian border areas. Seven manifests contain names, dates of birth and other ID information of 70 people, including men, women and infants.
The Guardian enlisted help from ISIS expert Aymenn al-Tamimi to verify the authenticity of the documents.
They “coincide with other(s), illustrating daily bus routes within Islamic State territory,” he said. “Though private companies provide the actual transportation, the Islamic State bureaucracy is responsible for authorizing and overseeing the routes.”
Turkey claims controlling its 566-mile border with Syria is impossible - failing to explain its complicity with ISIS at the highest  regime levels.
The Guardian said the authenticated documents it obtained reveal a “formalised (arrangement) of passage” from Turkey to Syria and return.
“The manifests were sent to the Guardian by Syrian Kurdish forces spokesman, Redur Xelil, and bear the same stamp marks and logos as other Isis documents the newspaper has been able to verify.”
What occurred over a documented four-month period indicates standard daily practice through other border crossing areas.
Responding to the Guardian, a Turkish regime official lied, claiming no evidence of illegal crossings. He ludicrously said security forces arrested over 200,000 individuals attempting to cross into Turkey illegally from Syria.
Turkey is one of the world’s leading human rights abusers. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu claims his government has “a moral responsibility…to accept refugees” crossing its border.
Columbia University researcher into links between Turkey and ISIS David Phillips believes Erdogan’s regime “knows the movements of all persons and can control the flow across the border if it chooses.”
“(A) steady stream of vehicles, individuals, weapons, financing (and) oil” transit freely cross-border because Ankara permits it.
“It’s not like people are putting on their hiking boots and crossing over rough terrain. There’s an extensive surface transport network which is highly regulated and controlled…on both sides of the border.”
Volumes of documented evidence show Turkish complicity with ISIS, the Guardian’s report the latest example. 
Erdogan and top officials in his regime are involved in high crimes - complicit with Washington and other rogue partners, perpetuating endless regional wars and chaos.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

The Boy Who Could Change the World - Tue, 12/01/2016 - 05:24

“One of the minor puzzles of American life is what question to ask people at parties and suchly to get to know them,” a nineteen-year-old Aaron Swartz wrote in 2006.

“‘How ya doin’?’ is of course mere formality, only the most troubled would answer honestly for anything but the positive. […] ‘What do you do?’ is somewhat offensive.” Aaron walks through various other options—“Where are you from?” “What’s your major?” “What book have you read recently?”—and articulates why each one fails to start a worthwhile discussion. And then he offers his own hack:

I propose instead that one ask “What have you been thinking about lately?” First, the question is extremely open-ended. The answer could be a book, a movie, a relationship, a class, a job, a hobby, etc. Even better, it will be whichever of these is most interesting at the moment. Second, it sends the message that thinking, and thinking about thinking, is a fundamental human activity, and thus encourages it.

Like a lot of Aaron’s ideas, what makes his conversation-starter useful is that it brings out the best in others.

Aaron was a programmer, activist, entrepreneur, community builder, and a dear friend of EFF. In 2013, while being unfairly prosecuted under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, he took his own life.

Many of Aaron’s writings have now been elegantly collected in The Boy Who Could Change the World: The Writings of Aaron Swartz. The book is a joy to read—partially because his ideas and the way he wrote about them were so compelling, but also because you get to see his thinking develop and change from his teenage years into adulthood. And he thought about a lot—everything from copyright law to privacy to political tactics to music.

Today, on the third anniversary of his death, let’s take a moment to celebrate Aaron’s life by reflecting on a few of his words.

“It’s the Outsiders Who Provide Nearly All of the Content”

Throughout the book—and throughout Aaron’s Life—there’s a strong theme: technology shouldn’t just be for techies. Tech can, and should, benefit everyone. He played key roles in the development of Creative Commons, RSS, and RDF, all technologies that are inherently about making information accessible to more people.

In the book are several blog posts documenting Aaron’s unsuccessful 2006 run for the Wikimedia board of directors. He shares what was a minority opinion among the Wikimedia community at the time: that it’s outsiders, not loyal Wikipedians, that make the most important contributions to the free encyclopedia (Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales had frequently argued the opposite).

Aaron explains how he tested Wales’ assertion—counting not the total number of edits each user had made to an article, but who’d made the most substantive contributions to the current version of that article. He found that the largest contributions were made not by Wikipedia insiders, but by subject matter experts who didn’t live and breathe Wikipedia.

When you put it all together, the story becomes clear: an outsider makes one edit to add a chunk of information, then insiders make several edits tweaking and reformatting it. In addition, insiders rack up thousands of edits doing things like changing the name of a category across the entire site — the kind of thing only insiders deeply care about. As a result, insiders account for the vast majority of the edits. But it’s the outsiders who provide nearly all of the content.

And when you think about it, this makes perfect sense. Writing an encyclopedia is hard. To do anywhere near a decent job, you have to know a great deal of information about an incredibly wide variety of subjects. Writing so much text is difficult, but doing all the background research seems impossible.

On the other hand, everyone has a bunch of obscure things that, for one reason or another, they’ve come to know well. So they share them, clicking the edit link and adding a paragraph or two to Wikipedia. At the same time, a small number of people have become particularly involved in Wikipedia itself, learning its policies and special syntax, and spending their time tweaking the contributions of everybody else.

In subsequent posts, Aaron asked how Wikipedia could be optimized to bring in more expert contributors, rather than targeting its community-building efforts at a smaller, dedicated core of Wikipedians.

Those same concerns about tech designed for insiders come up elsewhere too. In his post “Release Late, Release Rarely,” Aaron questions the “release early, release often” dogma popular among coders:

Releasing means showing it to the world. There’s nothing wrong with showing it to friends or experts or even random people in a coffee shop. The friends will give you the emotional support you would have gotten from actual users, without the stress. The experts will point out most of the errors the world would have found, without the insults. And random people will not only give you most of the complaints the public would, they’ll also tell you why the public gave up even before bothering to complain.

This is why “release early, release often” works in “open source”: you’re releasing to a community of insiders. Programmers know what it’s like to write programs and they don’t mind using things that are unpolished. They can see what you’re going to do next and maybe help you get there.

The public isn’t like that. Don’t treat them like they are.

“Just Giving People Information Isn’t Enough”

In some ways, that firm belief that information should benefit everyone cost Aaron his life. When he committed suicide, he was facing severe penalties for accessing millions of articles via MIT’s computer network without “authorization.”

The book includes the 2008 Guerilla Open Access Manifesto, while noting that Aaron’s role in writing it—and the degree to which it reflected his views—is the subject of some controversy.

The Open Access Movement has fought valiantly to ensure that scientists do not sign their copyrights away but instead ensure their work is published on the Internet, under terms that allow anyone to access it. But even under the best scenarios, their work will only apply to things published in the future. Everything up until now will have been lost.

That is too high a price to pay. Forcing academics to pay money to read the work of their colleagues? Scanning entire libraries but only allowing the folks at Google to read them? Providing scientific articles to those at elite universities in the First World, but not to children in the Global South? It's outrageous and unacceptable.

"I agree," many say, "but what can we do? The companies hold the copyrights, they make enormous amounts of money by charging for access, and it's perfectly legal — there's nothing we can do to stop them." But there is something we can, something that's already being done: we can fight back.

Those with access to these resources — students, librarians, scientists — you have been given a privilege. You get to feed at this banquet of knowledge while the rest of the world is locked out. But you need not — indeed, morally, you cannot — keep this privilege for yourselves. You have a duty to share it with the world.

It’s also clear, though, that Aaron didn’t see access to information as only an end in itself. Aaron championed open government through his project, but even at the time that he launched it, he knew that transparency alone wouldn’t build a more just society:

But just giving people information isn’t enough; unless you give them an opportunity to do something about it, it will just make them more apathetic. So the second part of the site is building tools to let people take action: write or call your representative, send a note to local papers, post a story about something interesting you’ve found, generate a scorecard for the next election.

Ultimately, Aaron discovered that the most powerful way that we can use technology to fight corruption isn’t primarily about transparency, it’s about collaboration—the same kind of open collaboration he’d championed at Wikipedia.

Putting databases online isn’t a silver bullet, as nice as the word transparency may sound. But it was easy to delude myself. All I had to do was keep putting things online and someone somewhere would find a use for them. After all, that’s what technologists do, right? The World Wide Web wasn’t designed for publishing the news—it was designed as a neutral platform that could support anything from scientific publications to pornography.

Politics doesn’t work like that. Perhaps at some point putting things on the front page of the New York Times guaranteed that they would be fixed, but that day is long past. The pipeline of leak to investigation to revelation to report to reform has broken down. Technologists can’t depend on journalists to use their stuff; journalists can’t depend on political activists to fix the problems they uncover. Change doesn’t come from thousands of people, all going their separate ways. Change requires bringing people together to work on a common goal. That’s hard for technologists to do by themselves.

But if they do take that as their goal, they can apply all their talent and ingenuity to the problem. They can measure their success by the number of lives that have been improved by the changes they fought for, rather than the number of people who have visited their website. They can learn which technologies actually make a difference and which ones are merely indulgences. And they can iterate, improve, and scale.

“The Enemies of the Freedom to Connect Have Not Yet Disappeared”

Aaron’s deftness at collaborating with others to effect change became obvious to a lot of us through his work in the campaign to defeat SOPA, a bill promoted by Hollywood that would have created a “blacklist” of censored websites. The Boy who Could Change the World features a transcript of Aaron’s now-famous talk, where he explains how he, EFF, and other Internet activists took a bill that was almost universally supported in Congress and turned it into a bill that no lawmaker wanted to touch.

And it will happen again. Sure, it will have yet another name, and maybe a different excuse, and probably do its damage in a different way. But make no mistake: The enemies of the freedom to connect have not disappeared. The fire in those politicians’ eyes hasn’t been put out. There are a lot of people, a lot of powerful people, who want to clamp down the Internet. And to be honest, there aren’t a whole lot who have a vested interest in protecting it from all of that. Even some of the biggest companies, some of the biggest Internet companies, to put it frankly, would benefit from a world in which their little competitors could get censored. We can’t let that happen.

Aaron’s Legacy

“A work like this can only ever be a picture of a life incomplete,” Lawrence Lessig laments in his introduction to the book.

Few of us will ever come close to the influence this boy had. He was never on The Colbert Report or The Daily Show; NBC Nightly News never once covered the thoughts of Aaron Swartz. Yet his influence weaved itself through the lives of an incredible number of very different souls.

Three years after his death, it can still be difficult to articulate Aaron’s legacy. He worked on so many technologies that we use every day. He inspired so many people to fight for free software, free culture, open government, and more. But the fights he fought haven’t been won yet.

At the age of 19, Aaron wrote about what he saw as his own legacy. He tells the story of an academic who’d encouraged him to get into a certain field because it was “hot.” “Presumably Darwin and Newton didn’t begin their investigations because they thought the field was ‘hot,’” Aaron laughs.

Ultimately, he says, the way to leave a real legacy isn’t by following what’s popular, but by forging new paths that people haven’t thought of yet. “Naturally, doing things like changing the university are much harder than simply becoming yet another professor. But for those who genuinely care about their legacies, it doesn’t seem like there’s much choice.”

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Twitter’s Policy Reboot: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly - Tue, 12/01/2016 - 04:35

January 12, 2016 Update: It is important to note that some of the language that was added to the Twitter Rules on December 30, 2015 is not entirely new and was recycled from other Twitter Help pages, such as the Abusive behavior policy page. We consider the direct and explicit inclusion of this language in the Twitter Rules significant for the reasons discussed in the post below.

Twitter has struggled with how to deal with harassment and abuse on its service for years. Former CEO Dick Costolo went so far as to say, “We suck at dealing with abuse” and vowed to make improvements. Some of Twitter’s previous efforts in managing online harassment and abuse, particularly those that give users more control over what they see, have garnered our praise in the past. Allowing users to export and share block lists, for instance, marked an important step in that direction. However, Twitter’s latest announcement gives us some reason for concern. Last Wednesday, Twitter announced that it is updating their rules to clarify what it considers to be “abusive behavior and hateful conduct.”

“The updated language emphasizes that Twitter will not tolerate behavior intended to harass, intimidate, or use fear to silence another user’s voice. As always, we embrace and encourage diverse opinions and beliefs – but we will continue to take action on accounts that cross the line into abuse.” 

A side-by-side comparison of the Twitter Rules on December 27, 2015 and today shows considerable changes. Some of these changes are organizational, such as dividing the sweeping “Abuse and spam” section into respective “Abuse” and “Spam” categories, each with developed subsections. Other changes, however, are substantive and present users with new areas of ambiguity. Notably, four new subsections were added: (1) violent threats, (2) harassment, (3) hateful conduct, and (4) self-harm.

The Good

What was once the “abusive behavior” section is now divided up into one section on harassment and another on hateful conduct. The change is welcome – Twitter did not previously offer guidance as to what constitutes harassment. Today, Twitter lists four factors that the company may consider when evaluating abusive behavior in its harassment section. 

Twitter also says that it is taking new measures to help people who appear to be contemplating suicide or self-harm while using the platform. In the “Self-Harm” subsection, Twitter indicates that when it receives reports that a user is considering suicide or self-harm, it may “take a number of steps to assist them, such as reaching out to that person expressing our concern and the concern of other users on Twitter or providing resources such as contact information for our mental health partners.” It’s good to see Twitter helping vulnerable users get help, but troubling that the subsection is listed under a header lumping all other offenses: “Any accounts and related accounts engaging in the activities specified below may be temporarily locked and/or subject to permanent suspension.” We hope that Twitter does not suspend users who appear to be contemplating self-harm and/or suicide, and reaches out to them instead.

Additionally, Twitter announced that it will put free speech ahead of the “rights” of politicians to avoid embarrassment. Last summer, Twitter pulled the plug on Politwoops, a transparency project that records, stores, and publishes deleted tweets of politicians, by revoking access to its API. Last Thursday, Twitter announced that it reached an agreement with the Open State Foundation, the group that runs the project. Politwoops will again be functional – and it’s refreshing to see Twitter correct a mistake.

The Bad

The subsection on violent threats now includes a short clause on “threatening or promoting terrorism.” The clause is likely to have been added as a response to critics who claim Twitter is not doing enough to silence Daesh recruiters on its service. Seemingly short and concise, the clause is worryingly vague. Our own Supreme Court has struggled with defining the word “terrorism,” and Twitter does not offer a working definition either. Further, Twitter has not given us any information on what it considers speech that is “promoting terrorism,” or when free speech crosses the line and becomes offending content on the basis of promoting terrorism. This presents Twitter the massive responsibility of defining terrorism and justifying account suspensions accordingly. The lack of transparency in what is considered the promotion of terrorism risks Twitter applying its new policy to users inconsistently and arbitrarily, and ultimately, suppressing free speech.

Furthermore, whereas the rules previously only banned “violence against others,” they now explicitly ban hateful speech – defined as any speech that threatens other people “on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease” or incites harm towards others on the same bases. Threatening speech can cause harm, but we remain uncomfortable with the prospect of leaving it to Twitter to distinguish hateful speech from speaking truth to power across hundreds of countries and across every community.

Currently, Twitter removes user-generated content in a non-transparent way that leaves no room for accountability, which makes it impossible to know whether Twitter’s policies are being applied fairly across the board. In an effort to shed light on this problem, which plagues all social media platforms, EFF has partnered with Visualizing Impact to launch – a platform that documents the who, what, and why of content takedowns on social media. also provides other tools for users, including a guide to various appeals processes to fight content takedowns on social media. 

But as long as the content take-down process remains unaccountable and opaque, we will remain uncomfortable with large scale social media platforms determining for all their users what constitutes unacceptable speech and taking it down.

The Ugly

As if to prove that our worries regarding overreach are well founded, Twitter’s new policies may have already resulted in an embarrassing mix-up. On December 31, the company suspended the account of Norway-based human rights activist Iyad Al-Baghdadi shortly after two news articles misidentified him as Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the leader of Daesh – “Al-Baghdadi” is a very common name in the Arab world. Twitter simply sent Al-Baghdadi a message telling him that he has “violated the Twitter Rules.” Iyad al-Baghdadi is a prominent activist that has a large following online and no connection whatsoever to Daesh.

Without transparency, these procedures also leave undisclosed the extent to which these companies might be pressured to censor and suspend at the request of the U.S. government. With news that the White House has been holding private meetings with Twitter and other companies to discuss how they might combat terrorism, that concern can only grow.

Twitter’s purported intention with the latest rule changes is to clarify what “abusive behavior” entails for the purposes of using the service. In reality, the changes do little but further confound the issues.

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The Popular Myth of Democracy in America - Mon, 11/01/2016 - 21:15

The Popular Myth of Democracy in America
by Stephen Lendman
No nation in world history promised more and delivered less to its citizens and people worldwide. None more greatly threatens world peace - putting humanity’s survival up for grabs like never before. 
None did more harm to more people globally over a longer duration. None matches the menace it represents - a presstitute media supported fascist gangster state willing to risk destroying planet earth to own it, run by a bipartisan criminal class.
From inception, America was always run by the people who own it, as first Supreme Court Chief Justice John Jay explained.
John Adams believed power belonged exclusively to the rich, well-born and able. Today it’s about monied interests in charge - deciding who holds all top positions in government, elected and appointed.
People have no say whatever. Ignore electoral politics, intended solely to deceive - manipulating people to believe new bums are more worthy than current ones.
Voting is a waste of time, accomplishing nothing. Duopoly power rules. 
America is a one-party state with two wings, indistinguishable from each other on issues mattering most - militantly pro-war, pro-business, anti-populist no matter what names and faces hold top positions.
Police state laws enforced by powerful security forces at the federal, state and local levels assure wealth and privilege interests are exclusively served at the expense of public welfare.
Elections are farcical, exercises in theater, not democracy. Candidates for the nation’s top offices are cardboard cutouts of each other, distinguishable only by their disingenuous rhetoric - promises made, forgotten and broken once in office. 
The public interest be damned. People are used, not served, deceived to believe politicians represent them.
Embedded power runs America, politicians serving entrenched interests exclusively, chosen for that reason. Ordinary people thinking their enfranchisement matters are living in a fantasy world.
Government of, by and for the people is the grandest of grand hoaxes. Media scoundrels perpetuate the myth with all the familiar slogans and high-minded posturing.
Jimmy Carter was right last summer calling America an “oligarchy with unlimited political bribery…a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors.”
Republicans and Democrats operate by the same corrupted standards. “(U)nlimited) money” serves their interests at the expense of constituents they represent.
America’s system is too debauched to fix. It’s too late for tinkering around the edges. 
A complete makeover is needed - a popular revolution, replacing oligarchy with grassroots democracy for the first time in the nation’s history, freed from money control.
Today is the most perilous time in world history. We have a choice. 
Accept the status quo, its endless wars, oligarch control over the greater good, unprecedented wealth disparity between rich and all others, along with harsh crackdowns on nonbelievers and risk of potential humanity destroying nuclear war - or refuse any longer to tolerate a system responsible for so much harm and misery to so many people worldwide.
Survival depends on choosing wisely. What kind of world do you want to live in? What kind do you want your children to inherit?
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Iranian Foreign Minister Blasts Saudi Reckless Extremism - Mon, 11/01/2016 - 21:13
Iranian Foreign Minister Blasts Saudi Reckless Extremism
by Stephen Lendman
New York Times editors surprisingly gave Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif op-ed space. He remarked candidly about Saudi Arabia’s reckless agenda.
It’s the epicenter of regionally-sponsored violence and chaos, a monster threatening endless conflicts and instability.
Zarif explained President Hassan Rohani’s top foreign policy priority since taking office: “friendship with our neighbors, peace and stability in the region and global cooperation,” especially in combating terrorism. 
Weeks after taking office, he introduced his World Against Violence and Extremism (WAVE) initiative. UN General Assembly members approved it by consensus.
Some countries obstruct “constructive engagement,” said Zarif. Saudi Arabia continues going all-out to undermine last year’s nuclear deal.
Extremists in Riyadh not only “impede normalization, but are determined to drag the entire region into confrontation,” Zarif explained.
Their “active sponsorship of violent extremism” (is) the real global threat.” Beheadings and other shocking human rights abuses expose their “barbarism.”
“(P)etrodollar-financed demagogues…have promoted anti-Islamic messages of hatred and sectarianism for decades.”
Saudi strategy includes “pressuring the West; promoting regional instability (including by waging terror-war on Yemen); sponsoring (violent) extremism; and directly provoking Iran.”
Iranian officials condemned the assault on Riyadh’s Tehran embassy. They restored order, protected Saudi diplomats, and took steps to prevent a future incident.
Saudis and their “surrogates…directly targeted Iranian diplomatic facilities in Yemen, Lebanon and Pakistan” over the past three years, committing numerous other provocations, Zarif explained.
Their “hate speech” against Iran and Shiite Muslims is notorious, using regime “appointed preachers.”
Ahead of Sheik Nimr’s extrajudicial execution, a Grand Mosque preacher in Mecca delivered a “sermon of hatred toward Shiites.”
Last year he said “our disagreement with Shiites will not be removed, nor our suicide to fight them” as long as they exist.
“Throughout these episodes, Iran, confident of its strength, has refused to retaliate or break - or even downgrade - diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia. We have until now responded with restraint; but unilateral prudence is not sustainable,” Zarif stressed.
Iran supports “dialogue, (regional) stability and (unity in combating) extremism.” Riyadh’s agenda is polar opposite, allied with Washington and other rogue partners. Nothing in prospect suggests positive change.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Suspected Arsonist Torches B'Tselem Office - Mon, 11/01/2016 - 19:52
Suspected Arsonist Torches B’Tselem Office
by Stephen Lendman
On Sunday evening, the human rights group’s Jerusalem office was set ablaze. Arson is strongly suspected.
Israel is a fascist police state. Its policies are ruthless. Were its dirty hands involved? It tolerates no criticism.
Fire broke out around 10:00PM, contained about 90 minutes later. Five firefighting teams were needed to battle the blaze. 
Two centers of combustion were reported - both in B’Tselem’s first floor offices where most damage occurred. Flames spread to upper floors. The building was mostly empty late Sunday night, no B’Tselem staff members present.
At least one person was hospitalized for smoke inhalation. B’Tselem said “we are still waiting for the findings of the fire investigator.” 
“However, if it is discovered that this was an arson attack, it must be seen in the context of the wave of government incitement and smear campaigns against Israel's human rights groups, and B'Tselem in particular.”
Hand in Hand offices are in the same building, an organization running bilingual schools for Israeli and Palestinian students.
In November 2014, it was torched by Jewish extremists affiliated with the racist Lehava group. Two suspects were convicted, sentenced to 30 and 24 months imprisonment respectively.
“Naturally, the damage to our offices will not stop our work of documenting and exposing the harm to human rights under the occupation,” B’Tselem stressed.
Joint Arab List chairman/MK Ayman Odeh blamed the blaze on Israel’s “incitement campaign waged against human rights organizations by the government and its leader.”
Joint Arab List MK Dov Khenin believes “too many signs point this evening to the suspicion of arson…”
Peace Now minced no words, calling the incident “arson.” Saying it “miraculously did not claim lives.” It blamed fascist cabinet ministers “led by Netanyahu…”
“The government must stop its incitement campaign against the left and order Israeli Police to secure left-wing NGOs from any attempt to harm them,” it stressed.
The incident occurred at a time of escalated Israeli state terror directed against all Palestinians - extrajudicially executing around 150 since October 1, injuring and imprisoning many thousands, creating nightmarish conditions throughout the Territories.
Multiple daily shootings, abductions and other forms of barbarity are the new normal. Maybe Israel added arson as a repressive tactic.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Putin: A Generation of Doing Everything Wrong - Mon, 11/01/2016 - 19:43
Putin: A Generation of Doing Everything Wrong
by Stephen Lendman
Putin’s remarks are always insightful, refreshing, candid and straightforward - polar opposite Obama’s demagoguery.
In an interview with Germany’s Bild newspaper, he explained “(w)e did everything wrong from the outset” after Soviet Russia dissolved.
“We did not overcome Europe’s division: Twenty-five years ago the Berlin Wall fell, but Europe’s division was not overcome.” 
“Invisible walls simply moved to the East. This created the foundation for mutual reproaches, misunderstanding, and crises in the future.”
Russia bears its own responsibility. It “failed to assert (its) national interests, while we should have done that from the outset. Then the whole world could have been more balanced.”
Cold War antagonisms never abated. On June 26, 1990, the “patriarch of European politics” German diplomat Egon Karl-Heinz Bahr presciently said:
“If while uniting Germany we do not take decisive steps to overcome the division of Europe into hostile blocs, the developments can take such an unfavorable turn that the USSR will be doomed to international isolation.”
US-dominated NATO’s eastern expansion created today’s dangerous conditions - a hostile West challenging Russia irresponsibly, risking direct confrontation.
Political will for a world at peace doesn’t exist in the West. America’s rage for dominance prevents it, using NATO as a dagger targeting Russia’s heartland.
In the last generation, “when the second center of gravity in the world disappeared,” Washington intended to “reign” supreme - with “absolutely no desire to turn either to international law or to the United Nations Charter,” Putin explained.
“Wherever they became an obstacle, the UN was immediately declared outdated” - international law null and void. Washington rules alone apply.
Putin categorically rejects the notion of Russia sacrificing its sovereignty to US dominance.
“(I)f someone is not happy with our stance, they could find a better option than declaring us an enemy every time.” 
“Would not it be better to listen to us, to critically reflect on what we say, to agree to something and to look for a common solution?”
Instead, hostile relations exist. The threat of global war is greater than any time since WW II. Russia seeks peace, stability and mutual cooperation with all nations.
It wants confrontation avoided. It’s willing to compromise. It’s justifiably adamant on upholding international law - the only way to save the world from the scourge of possible nuclear war, the greatest threat humanity faces.
US-led NATO’s eastward expansion and its anti-ballistic missile system intended entirely for offense threatens Russia’s national security.
Its interests and concerns are entirely ignored. “Nobody (in the West) listen(s) to us,” Putin explained.
We face common threats, he stressed, urging unity to combat them. Washington has another agenda in mind - regime change in Russia a longstanding objective, a prescription for confrontation.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

El Chapo v. Longstanding CIA Global Drugs Trafficking - Mon, 11/01/2016 - 03:07
El Chapo v. Longstanding CIA Global Drugs Trafficking
by Stephen Lendman
Drug lords come and go, El Chapo’s arrest of little consequence, doing nothing to stem the flow of illicit drugs. Business as usual continues.
His operation and others like his pale compared to CIA global drugs trafficking - a topic media scoundrels won’t touch.
Its involvement began in 1947, its first year of existence. In his book titled “The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade,” Alfred McCoy documented CIA and US government complicity in drugs trafficking at the highest official levels. 
It continues today in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, South and Central America, facilitating the global supply of illicit drugs.
Gary Webb’s expose of CIA involvement in Nicaraguan drugs trafficking, supporting the contras, dealing with Los Angeles crack dealers, made him a target for vicious vilification - hounding him out of journalism into deep depression, either committing suicide or succumbing to foul play.
He regularly received death threats. Credible sources believe he was murdered to silence him. Unidentified individuals were seen breaking into and leaving his residence before his demise.
In his books and other writings, Peter Dale Scott explained “(s)ince at least 1950 there has been a global CIA-drug connection operating more or less continuously” to this day.
“The global drug connection is not just a lateral connection between CIA field operatives and their drug-trafficking contacts.” 
“It is more significantly a global financial complex of hot money uniting prominent business, financial and government, as well as underworld figures,” a sort of “indirect empire (operating alongside) existing government.” 
Iran-Contra and Afghan opium cultivation for global heroin trafficking are two among numerous other examples.
Hundreds of billions of dollars of annual revenues are produced - a US government-supported bonanza for the CIA, organized crime and Western financial institutions, heavily involved in money laundering.
A 1996 Peter Dale Scott affidavit on CIA drugs trafficking explained his research into longstanding US government involvement.
“(G)overnments themselves, and the links they develop with major traffickers, are the key both to the drug-trafficking problem and to its solution,” he explained.
America is one of numerous governments involved, the most harmful and disturbing because of its imperial power and global reach, influencing or affecting virtually everything worldwide.
A 2013 UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC) World Drug Report called Israel a major international cocaine trafficking hub.
A 2012 State Department International Narcotics Control Strategy Report called “Israel’s illicit drug grade…regionally focused…more of a transit country than a stand-alone significant market.”
“The authorities continue to be concerned with illegal pharmaceutical sales, retail businesses which are suspected money-laundering enterprises, and corruption accusations against public officials.”
An earlier State Department report said “the Israeli drug market continued to be characterized by high demand in nearly all sectors of society and a high availability of drugs including cannabis, ecstasy, cocaine, heroin, hashish and LSD.”
Israel is heavily involved in money laundering. Both activities operate in tandem, involving hundreds of millions to billions of illicit dollars.
Headlines highlight Mexican drug lord El Chapo’s reported arrest after a gun battle near his Sinaloa home, according to Mexican officials, ignoring high-level ones complicit in drugs trafficking.
He escaped Mexican captivity twice before. Extradition to America may follow this time. His operations continue as usual, with or without his involvement.
Drugs trafficking is big business, corrupt governments like America and business interests heavily involved. The CIA relies on it for huge amounts of revenues.
It bears repeating. Drug lords come and go. Dirty business as usual continues unabated - unreported by presstitutes, ignoring what demands public exposure.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Saudis Terror-Bomb Doctors Without Borders Yemeni Hospital - Mon, 11/01/2016 - 02:57
Saudis Terror-Bomb Doctors Without Borders Yemeni Hospital
by Stephen Lendman
Saudi aerial forces terror-bombed MSF Yemeni facilities multiple times last year, using US-supplied coordinates - again on Sunday.
Its spokesman confirmed it, the Shiara hospital located in Razeh - killing at least four, injuring 10 others. Victims remain trapped in rubble. Expect the death toll to rise. 
MSM strongly condemned the attack, saying “all parties to the conflict” must respect medical facilities, staff and patients.
MSF’s Raquel Ayora explained “(a)ll the warring parties, including the Saudi-led coalition, are regularly informed of the GPS coordinates of the medical sites where MSF works and we are in constant dialogue with them to ensure that they understand the severity of the humanitarian consequences of the conflict and the need to respect the provision of medical services.”
“Our teams struggle on a daily basis to ensure the respect of health facilities.” Yemen’s conflict forced closure of many of its facilities.
Attacking civilian ones and populated areas constitute flagrant war crimes. MSF’s Laurent Sury said one of its Yemeni hospitals was struck six times last October, completely destroying it.
Washington chooses targets for Saudi warplanes to attack. US-supplied precision-guided weapons hit what they aim at with pinpoint accuracy.
US and Saudi policy prioritizes maximum Yemeni pain and suffering, including destroying medical facilities to prevent vital medical treatment for ill or wounded victims.
Obama’s war without mercy on Yemen continues without letup, using Saudi and other regional proxies to do his dirty work.
Civilians suffer most. Washington considers them legitimate targets. International law strictly prohibits attacking them. US imperial policy operates by its own rules.
Yemen one of many countries it’s raping, directly or indirectly, turning them into black holes of mass slaughter, destruction, despair and human misery - the price America exacts to advance its ruthless imperium, a gangster state masquerading as a legitimate one.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Why North Korea Wants Nukes - Sun, 10/01/2016 - 22:18
Why North Korea Wants Nukes
by Stephen Lendman
Pyongyang has just cause to fear America. It knows how it raped Southeast Asia, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria.
Truman’s naked aggression was devastating, turning most of North Korea to rubble. General Matthew Ridgway ordered air force bombers to level Pyongyang and other strategic targets. Scorched earth death and destruction was official US strategy.
Douglas McArthur wanted commander’s discretion to use nuclear weapons - to spread a radioactive belt from the Sea of Japan to the Yellow Sea.
US terror-bombing ran out of targets. Principle ones included Pyongyang, Chongyin, Wonsan, Hungnam and Rashin. 
North Korea suffered overwhelming numbers of casualties. Up to four million died, mostly civilians. Terror weapons were used, including napalm and toxic agents - chemical and biological.
In March 1952, an International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) commission visited North Korea, investigated US war crimes charges. Their report included documented evidence of toxic agents used, saying:
“American planes have on various occasions used asphyxiating and other gases or chemical weapons at least since 6th May, 1951.”
“The commission took eye witness and expert testimony. Post-mortem examinations and autopsy results argued that some chemical had been used, with a ‘disagreeable smell, resembling the smell of chlorine…” 
“In the affected area of the city, it was noted that grass became yellow brown, objects containing an alloy of copper became blue green and rings of silver became black.”
Former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark drafted a Report and Final Judgment on US Crimes in Korea (from) 1945 - 2001, showing Washington used chemical and biological agents on the peninsula.
By 1952, virtually everything in northern and central Korea was destroyed. Damage assessments showed 18 of 22 cities were half or more obliterated.
Large industrial ones were 75 - 100% destroyed. Villages were turned to “low, wide mounds of violent ashes.”
Investigative journalist IF Stone’s “Hidden History of the Korean War” called it US-led international aggression. Truman bore full responsibility for waging war together with fascist South Korean President Syngman Rhee, installed by Washington to serve its interests.
Pyongyang fears America for good reason. Truman’s war never ended. A longstanding uneasy armistice persists. Beating up on North Korea is relentless after all these years.
Washington spurns its desire for normalized relations, maintaining an undeclared state of war instead. Pyongyang is vulnerable to the whims of US imperial policy.
It sees a nuclear deterrent as its best strategic response, giving Washington pause about again waging war. At the same time, wanting peace and stability on the peninsula. US policy prevents it.
World leaders blasted Pyongyang’s latest nuclear test, its first since February 2013, while ignoring the major threat of Western arsenals and Israel’s.
Imposing new sanctions is meaningless. What else Washington plans remains to be seen. It deployed a long-range strategic B-52 bomber able to carry nuclear weapons provocatively - flying at low altitude over South Korea.
US Commander of United Nations Command, ROK-US Combined Forces Command and US Forces Korea General Curtis Scaparrotti called Saturday’s flight a “demonstrat(ion) (of) the strength and capabilities of the (so-called) alliance.”
It took off from Guam, escorted by F-15 warplanes. Commander, US Pacific Command Admiral Harry Harris stressed America’s “ironclad commitment” to regional allies, notably Japan and South Korea.
“North Korea's nuclear test is a blatant violation of its international obligations. US joint military forces in the Indo-Asia-Pacific will continue to work with all of our regional allies and partners to maintain stability and security,” he added.
America’s regional presence remains hugely destabilizing. Another Asian war could precipitate global conflict - humanity’s greatest threat. 
US imperial policy threatens world peace.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Phony Reports of Starvation in Madaya, Syria - Sun, 10/01/2016 - 22:05
Phony Reports of Starvation in Madaya, Syria
by Stephen Lendman
Spurious reports of Syrian and Hezbollah responsibility for alleged Madaya starvation are part of continued propaganda war on Damascus.
Western and Arab media used earlier taken unrelated photos, images of skin and bone bodies, widely circulating, falsely claiming they reflect Madaya starvation, wrongfully blaming Damascus for imposing siege conditions.
Obama’s war on Syria created dire conditions throughout the country. Deplorable ones exist. Overwhelming human suffering persists, exacerbated by US special forces directly aiding terrorist elements and its warplanes bombing vital infrastructure and other government targets.
Images shown are earlier ones from Amman, Jordan, Eastern Ghouta, Damascus, the area’s terrorist-held Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp and a European one - unrelated to Madaya.
They’re circulating widely to vilify Assad’s government, notably ahead of late January peace talks
“Madaya starves,” the New York Times spuriously reported, substituting propaganda for hard truths - irresponsibly claiming “reports of people dying from starvation and being killed while trying to leave,” outrageously blaming Damascus.
It cited phony reports of Madaya residents “living on grass and leaves, and seeing family members dying of hunger or killed by (Syrian and Hezbollah) snipers…”
Al Jazeera has been featuring spurious “starving in Syria” propaganda reports, citing Madaya conditions, calling them a “weapon” against civilians, irresponsibly blaming Damascus.
Washington bears full responsibility for overwhelming Syrian suffering, using ISIS and other takfiri terrorists as imperial foot soldiers - deliberately targeting civilians, committing appalling atrocities, conflict outrageously blamed on Damascus.
Hezbollah accused terrorists in Madaya of using residents as human shields, denying them food, preventing aid supplies from reaching them.
Damascus supports humanitarian aid wherever needed in Syria. Terrorists block its availability, their forces responsible for killing civilians in cold blood.
Syrian forces delivered vital essentials to life to Madaya, Shaghin, Sarghaya and other areas - their ability only constrained by ISIS and other terrorists’ activities.
A Syrian popular forces statement said in various regions, delivered “humanitarian aid is under (terrorist) control and kept in warehouses” - sold to Syrians able to afford it, denied others.
Terrorist fighters prevent Madaya residents from fleeing to safe havens, their snipers killing them. These elements bear full responsibility for dire humanitarian conditions throughout the country.
Syrian efforts to provide aid go unreported. Western and regional propaganda blames Assad for US-supported terrorist crimes - complicit with Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel and other rogue allies.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Phony Claims of Iranian Rockets Fired Near Western Vessels - Sun, 10/01/2016 - 21:54
Phony Claims of Iranian Rockets Fired Near Western Vessels
by Stephen Lendman
Unrelenting US anti-Iranian hostility persists. Media repeated propaganda highlights it.
Tehran remains a strategic Washington enemy, intending new sanctions, wrongfully claiming its legitimate ballistic missile tests violate last year’s nuclear agreement.
Security Council Resolution 1929 only prohibits Iranian development of missiles designed to carry nuclear warheads. Tehran has none, has no plans to develop any. No evidence suggests otherwise.
It’s tests are entirely legitimate, in full compliance with Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) terms. Claims otherwise are false.
US imposition of sanctions will constitute a serious JCPOA breach - showing Washington was never serious about terms it agreed to. Its sordid history shows treaties and other deals consummated systematically violated, spurious reasons given.
Was Washington complicit in Saudi warplanes terror-bombing Tehran’s Yemeni embassy? Did it provide Riyadh with precise coordinates and OK the attack?
Repeated provocations bode ill for US/Iranian relations. Washington accused Iran of firing rockets in the Strait of Hormuz near near Western warships and commercial vessels, including the Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier.
What could Tehran hope to gain by provoking Washington and other Western nations? Nothing indicates its intention to do so. Rapprochement is sought, not confrontation.
Easily faked US released video footage reportedly showed an Iranian Revolutionary Guard “fast inshore attack craft” firing rockets on December 26.
At the time, Fifth Fleet spokesman Commander Kevin Stephens said rockets “passing coalition ships and commercial traffic within an internationally recognized maritime traffic lane is unsafe, unprofessional and inconsistent with international maritime law.”
A US Central Command statement called Iran’s actions “highly provocative.” Tehran debunked the spurious accusation, explaining its naval forces conducted no Strait of Hormuz exercises at the time.
Revolutionary Guard spokesman Ramezan Sharif said “(t)he publication of such false news under the present circumstances is akin to psychological warfare.”
Revolutionary Guard public relations chief General Ramezan Sharif stressed Iranian naval forces conducted no drills near or in the Hormuz Strait at the time Washington made its spurious accusation.
No evidence indicates Iranian provocations against regional countries or US forces. Claiming otherwise assures continued hostile relations by Washington toward the Islamic Republic.
Given current US-destabilized regional conditions, Iran intends enhancing its legitimate missile capability for national security reasons.
President Hassan Rohani ordered accelerated development to protect the Islamic Republic from external threats, mainly from Washington and Israel. 
Its best defense is military strength. At the same time, it hasn’t attacked another country in centuries. It threatens none now.
It’s the region’s leading proponent of peace and stability, free from nuclear weapons. US-led NATO, Israel and rogue Arab states threaten greater violence and chaos than already.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Gulf States Support Saudi Regional Terrorism - Sun, 10/01/2016 - 03:30
Gulf States Support Saudi Regional Terrorism
by Stephen Lendman
On Saturday, Gulf Cooperation Council states met in extraordinary Riyadh session, discussing Saudi/Iranian relations.
Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE support the kingdom’s anti-Iranian agenda. Oman alone urges resolving differences diplomatically, maintaining its longstanding tradition of cooperation with Tehran, saying it poses no threat to other regional states.
Following the session, Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir said “(w)e are looking at additional measures to be taken if (Tehran) continues with its current policies” - without further elaboration.
He irresponsibly blamed Tehran for Saudi regional destabilization efforts, adding moves Riyadh intends making “will be clearer in the near future.”
Riyadh cut diplomatic and commercial ties with Iran. Other GCC states largely followed suit, Oman the lone exception.
Jubeir got other Gulf states to condemn what he called Iranian interference in Saudi and regional affairs. He urged the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to convene an extraordinary session to discuss Iranian “aggression” against its embassy.
Will its provocative actions escalate regional war? Is Washington complicit with its anti-Iranian agenda?
Saudi defense minister Muhammad bin Salman said he foresees no war with Iran. “Whoever is pushing towards that is somebody who is not in their right mind.” 
“Because a war between Saudi Arabia and Iran is the beginning of a major catastrophe in the region, and it will reflect very strongly on the rest of the world. For sure we will not allow any such thing.”
At the same time, he recklessly accused Tehran of “escalating” things to “very high levels.” He downplayed the notion of Iran being Riyadh’s biggest enemy.
Russia and China urged both sides to show restraint and resolve differences diplomatically.  Tass reported Moscow’s willingness to “extend mediator services to restore mutual understanding on all issues.”
China’s Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Ming with visit Riyadh and Tehran, aiming to reduce tensions between both nations. Its Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying urged “mov(ing) in the direction of amelioration.”
“We hope that all parties can remain calm and exercise restraint and appropriately resolve relevant issues via dialogue and consultation,” she added.
Not easily any time soon for sure with Riyadh escalating regional tensions recklessly. Tehran responded by cutting diplomatic and commercial ties.
A government statement said “(t)he cabinet has banned the entry of all Saudi products. Last year, Tehran suspended Hajj pilgrimages “until further notice” after Saudi airport guards sexually assaulted two Iranian men.
Air travel between both nations is in limbo. Riyadh now prohibits its citizens from traveling to Iran. Around 600,000 Iranians attend Hajj pilgrimages annually.
The kingdom earns billions of dollars annually from religious tourism - lower revenues ahead with Iranians not coming, not while tensions flare between both countries, risking belligerent confrontation.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Big Lies About Russia's Syrian Campaign Persist - Sun, 10/01/2016 - 02:02
Big Lies About Russia’s Syrian Campaign Persist
by Stephen Lendman
Washington’s view on Russia’s Syrian campaign depends on who’s commenting at different times along with what major media scoundrels report or suppress.
Pentagon commanders are awestruck by Moscow’s formidable military power, its sophisticated weapons matching or exceeding their own capability, outdoing the prowess of other NATO countries.
Its navy once derisively called “more rust than ready” is reinventing itself impressively. Its overall military capability dispels the myth about unmatched US superiority.
Its Syrian campaign since September 30 has been devastatingly effective by any standard, permitting government ground forces to recapture lost territory, making slow and steady gains.
Peace remains elusive. Expect late January talks to be no more successful than earlier ones. Washington wants US-controlled puppet governance replacing Syrian sovereign independence.
It wants war, not peace. So do its rogue regional allies, especially Israel and Saudi Arabia. Russia’s intervention changed the dynamic  on the ground dramatically - short of hastening an end of conflict.
Protracted war continues. US and rogue allied support for ISIS and other terrorist groups means endless conflict and instability.
Syria is like Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya - ravaged and destroyed by US imperialism, devastated by  continued war, Russia making a huge difference but unable alone to turn around a troubled region as long as Washington remains hardline.
Yet its campaign remains impressive by any standard, continuing without letup. US propaganda portraying it as ineffective or striking the wrong targets is utter rubbish.
Early in the campaign, Putin said Russia’s “objective is to stabilize the legitimate authority (in Syria) and create conditions for a political compromise.”
He also wants ISIS and other terrorist groups contained - fought abroad, preventing them from gaining a foothold in Central Asia, threatening Russia’s heartland.
At the same time, he knows as long as US imperial policy remains unchanged, endless wars, instability and chaos reflect the new normal, continuing ahead without letup, affecting other countries yet to be targeted - a permanent war agenda risking WW III.
On January 9, The New York Times, Reuters and other scoundrel media sources cited an unnamed senior US official’s Big Lie instead of responsibly debunking it - claiming “only a third of Russian airstrikes” hitting ISIS targets.
Thousands of Russian sorties and strikes hit ISIS and other terrorist groups with pin-point accuracy, causing major disruptions in their operations, permitting Syrian military advances.
Claiming otherwise distorts reality on the ground, ignoring Russia’s real war on terrorism, polar opposite Washington’s phony one, supporting the scourge it claims to oppose, media scoundrels perpetuating its campaign myth.
The unnamed US source claims most Russian airstrikes hit anti-Assad rebels, so-called moderates, along with killing civilians in residential areas and market places, using few precision-guided weapons.
False on all counts! All anti-Assad militants are terrorists, imported from scores of countries, trained by CIA operatives and US special forces in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, maybe Israel and elsewhere - along with their counterparts in these countries.
Russia’s precision-guided weapons are as technically advanced as any in the West, used exclusively in its Syrian campaign with devastating effectiveness, targeting ISIS and other terrorists alone, scrupulously avoiding civilian areas.
Big Lies otherwise persist - Washington the epicenter of managed news misinformation. Media scoundrels repeat it unquestionably. 
They’re complicit in willful deception - supporting all US wars on humanity and new ones planned, in lock step against global peace and stability.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Another Brutalized Guantanamo Victim Freed - Sat, 09/01/2016 - 22:33
Another Brutalized Guantanamo Victim Freed
by Stephen Lendman
Guantanamo represents pure US evil. It’s the tip of a disturbing iceberg, one of numerous US global black sites operating extrajudicially.
Unknown numbers of innocent victims languish under hellish conditions, subjected to torture and other horrific forms of mistreatment, denied all international law guaranteed rights. 
Most were uncharged, others falsely accused. They’re all Muslims, America’s target of choice.
The vast majority of the 779 men and boys held at Guantanamo since the infamous camp opened in 2002 were sold to US authorities for bounty - not imprisoned for criminality. 
A handful were convicted by rubber-stamp military commissions - illegal by any standard, due process and judicial fairness denied.
Many prisoners cleared for release remain detained. Around 100 are still illegally held. Like other US torture prisons, Guantanamo remains a black hole of injustice, symbolizing Washington’s barbarism.
Kuwaiti national Fayiz Mohammed Ahmed Al-Kandari was extrajudicially held since 2002. On January 8, a Defense Department statement announced his repatriation “to the government of the State of Kuwait.”
After 14 years of wrongful detention, US authorities determined he’s no “threat to the security of the United States.” He never was nor were virtually all other wrongfully held detainees.
A US rubber-stamp Combatant Status Review Tribunal falsely accused him of “participat(ing) in jihad in Afghanistan” despite no verifiable evidence proving it.
“Osama bin Laden personally provided (him and others with) religious instruction and (training).” 
Impossible! He was ill and dying, succumbing in December 2001 in a Pakistan hospital of natural causes - widely reported at the time. Obama did not kill Osama.
Kandari categorically denied accusations against him. Years earlier, his lead Office of Military Commissions assigned lawyer Lt. Col. Barry Wingard said:
“There simply is no evidence other than he is a Muslim in Afghanistan at the wrong time, other than double and triple hearsay statements, something I have never seen as justification for incarceration.”
He called Kandari unjustly “caged like a circus animal.” All detainees at Guantanamo and other US black sites are automatically guilty by accusation.
Kandari was a humanitarian aid worker in Afghanistan at the wrong time, caught up in the post-US October 2001 invasion chaos - seized and sold to US authorities as he tried fleeing cross-border to Pakistan for safety.
As a teenager, he experienced Saddam’s summer 1990 Kuwait invasion. He helped others in his community, delivering food, providing various services.
He was appalled by America’s rape of Yugoslavia, calling it similar to what happened to Kuwait. He chose the wrong time to provide humanitarian aid for beleaguered Afghans.
Refusing to believe “there is no innocent person” at Guantanamo made him a marked man, singled out for special brutality, including prolonged torture and other ways used to try breaking his spirit.
Remarkably, he refused to make false confessions. Allegations against him were entirely fabricated, including:
  • “provid(ing) instruction to Al Qaeda members and trainees;”

  • “serv(ing) as an advisor to Osama bin Laden,” a man he never met and had no connection to;

  • “produc(ing) recruitment audio and video tapes which encouraged membership in Al Qaeda and participation in jihad.”

Other falsified allegations followed during his years of illegal detention, including:
  • fighting for the Taliban;

  • spending time at Tora Bora with bin Laden;

  • serving as an Al Qaeda and Taliban religious leader; and

  • being associated with al-Wafa, a Saudi charity said to be linked to terrorism.

No evidence supported any allegations he faced. During a 2005 military review, he said:
“At the end of this exciting story and after all these various accusations, when I spent most of my time alongside bin Laden as his advisor and his religious leader…All this happened in a period of three months, which is the period of time I stayed in Afghanistan. I ask, are these accusations against (me) or against Superman?”
He was brutally interrogated hundreds of times, justice denied him until now - 14 years late. He was never convicted of any crimes, all charges dropped last year.
Back home, how Kuwaiti authorities treat him remains to be seen. His travel will be restricted. He’ll be closely watched. Maybe his ill-treatment will continue.
He’s “delighted to be going home and reuniting with his beloved parents and family after all these years away,” his civilian attorney Eric Lewis explained.
He “looks forward to resuming a peaceful life and to putting Guantanamo behind him.” He remains a victim of US barbarism.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Saudis Escalate Tensions with Iran - Sat, 09/01/2016 - 22:12
Saudis Escalate Tensions with Iran
by Stephen Lendman
Riyadh and Tehran are regional rivals, each nation pursuing polar opposite policies.
Iran forthrightly supports regional peace, stability and mutual cooperation. Saudi Arabia is a monster regime, lawlessly pursuing a rogue agenda - the epicenter of Middle East violence and chaos, fostering terrorism, denying its people fundamental rights free societies take for granted.
On January 3, Riyadh cut diplomatic ties, trade and air links with Iran, likely pre-planned, using the phony pretext of justifiably angry Iranians storming its Tehran embassy over the extrajudicial execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.
Other Gulf States Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE along with Sudan and Djibouti followed suit, either cutting or downgrading diplomatic and commercial ties with Iran. Turkey and Jordan expressed support for Riyadh.
The entire scenario appears pre-planned. Are Washington’s dirty hands involved, maintaining 36 years of anti-Iranian hostility despite last year’s nuclear deal?
It bears full responsibility for regional violence and chaos, stoking instability, waging endless imperial wars, partnering with Riyadh, Israel and other Middle East rogue states, intending to keep things endlessly on the boil.
On January 7, Saudi warplanes deliberately terror-bombed Iran’s Yemeni embassy, a willful act of war, flagrantly violating the immunity of all diplomatic missions worldwide.
Riyadh continues escalating tensions with Tehran. It intends trying four Iranians on phony terrorism charges, another for cooperating with Iran’s intelligence ministry.
An Iranian national was wrongfully sentenced to 13 years imprisonment on phony charges of conducting terrorist attacks during last year’s Hajj pilgrimage.
According to Fars News, Tehran accused Riyadh of “pursuing a crisis-escalation policy against” the Islamic Republic.
President Hassan Rohani said its regime “distorted its image among the world states, especially Islamic countries, more than ever” - fostering terrorism, sectarianism and extremism regionally and beyond.
A separate article explained Britain’s involvement in Riyadh’s terror war on Yemen - including providing help choosing targets, many civilian ones to inflict maximum pain and suffering.
Britain’s College of Policing trained hundreds of Saudi police officers, notorious for committing human rights violations. It’s unclear what type training was provided during the December 2012 - October 2015 period, information on it suppressed, the arrangement now suspended or terminated.
UK-based Reprieve human rights group death penalty team director Maya Foa blasted the Home Office - saying it “has serious questions to answer over the relationship between British police and Saudi forces, (notorious) for serious human rights abuses such as torture.”
“Given that the Saudis are executing record numbers of people - including political protesters who were tortured and convicted in secret courts, some when they were just teenagers - the government’s refusal to reveal details of its cooperation with the Saudis is totally unacceptable.”
“The Home Secretary must explain urgently why she is risking UK complicity with these terrible abuses.”
On Friday, thousands of Iranians protested nationwide against Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr’s extrajudicial execution. In a letter to the UN, Tehran’s Foreign Ministry said Riyadh must “crucial(ly)” choose between fostering regional terrorism and sectarian hatred or promoting good relations and stability.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif accused the kingdom of: 
  • trying to undermine last year’s nuclear deal;

  • “perpetrat(ing) acts of terror;”

  • supporting “extremist terrorists in Syria and elsewhere;”

  • waging “senseless war” in Yemen;

  • mistreating Hajj pilgrims;

  • “fueling public outrage in Iran;” and

  • engaging in “numerous direct and at times lethal provocations against” the Islamic Republic.

It remains to be seen what dirty schemes Riyadh intends next, likely complicit with its rogue regional partners and Washington.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Turkey's Rogue Regional Agenda - Sat, 09/01/2016 - 21:38
Turkey’s Rogue Regional Agenda
by Stephen Lendman
Turkey threatens regional peace and security, a rogue state run by a fascist despot, Erdogan seeking greater iron-fisted authority than already.
He supports ISIS and other regional terrorist groups, supplying them with weapons and munitions, letting them move freely cross-border to and from Syria and Iraq, waging terror war without mercy on Turkish Kurds.
In late December, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov blasted his regional agenda, saying:
“Well, the Iraqis invited us to move in and we like Iraq, but we are still trying to tell them what is right and what is wrong.”  
“As for Syria, (Assad is wrongfully called a) dictator. (His) days are numbered, and we’ll keep bombing (its territory) without asking for permission from anyone.” 
“This is exactly what the Turks are now saying” - willful misinformation and Big Lies.
“If it hadn’t been for this high-nosed attitude by the US-led coalition in Syria, which always knows where the terrorists are and whom to bomb without asking anyone, Turkey would have never acted so arrogantly in Iraq,” Lavrov added.
He maintains troops in northern Iraq illegally, on the pretext of fighting terrorism, refusing Baghdad demanding they leave - a willful “hostile act,” according to its Foreign Ministry.
He issued a statement alleging ISIS elements attacked Turkish forces in northern Iraq. Baghdad’s joint operations command categorically denied any incident occurred.
Erdogan invented one trying to justify illegally maintaining Turkish forces on Iraqi territory - claiming 18 terrorists were killed after attacking the so-called Bashiqa training camp.
No evidence of combat operations exists. Erdogan lied claiming otherwise, standing firm on maintaining Turkish forces in Iraqi territory.
Baghdad rejects their presence. Russia calls it a serious breach of international law. Iraq wants the dispute resolved diplomatically. It hasn’t ruled out using military force, “if fighting is imposed on us,” according to its Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari.
“We will consider it to protect our sovereignty, people and resources,” he stressed. Erdogan’s recklessness, including belligerently confronting Russia, risks greater regional violence and instability than already.
Separately, Erdogan’s homeland war on freedom rages. On Friday, the pro-Kurdish HDP opposition party’s Istanbul office was raided - five officials lawlessly arrested.
The state-controlled Anadolu press agency called the raid, conducted by police and special forces, part of a crackdown on the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) youth wing - the latest police state action against Turkish Kurds, viciously targeted for wanting rights everyone deserves.
The raid followed Erdogan’s call for legal action against HDP officials. It’s Turkey’s third largest political party, its members treated like outlaws instead of given the respect they deserve.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 



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