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Iran Rejects Trump’s Warning, Demands the Release of Detained Iranians in the US

Sun, 2017-07-23 13:48
The US president warned that Iran would face ‘new and serious consequences’ if the detained Americans were not released.

(MEE) — Iran demanded on Saturday that the United States release Iranians detained there, a day after US President Donald Trump called on the Islamic Republic to release three US citizens.

“America should quickly release Iranian prisoners in the country,” foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said, according to the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA).

On Friday, Trump urged Tehran to return Robert Levinson, an American former law enforcement officer who disappeared in Iran more than a decade ago, and to release businessman Siamak Namazi and his father, Baquer, both jailed on espionage charges.

Trump warned that Iran would face “new and serious consequences” if the three men were not released.

Trump warns Iran over detained Americans: White House https://t.co/u0fQ8kAo6q

— Late Night Watch (@LateNightWatch) July 22, 2017

“The judiciary, courts and judges in Iran are completely independent, as in any other country,” Ghasemi said in a statement. “Any interventionist and threatening statement by American officials and institutions has no effect on the will and determination of the country’s judicial system to try and punish criminals and violators of the country’s laws and national security.”

The statement capped a week of US rhetoric against Tehran, which announced last Sunday that another US citizen, Xiyue Wang, a graduate student from Princeton University, had been sentenced to 10 years in jail on spying charges.

On Tuesday, Washington slapped new economic sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile programme and said Tehran’s “malign activities” in the Middle East undercut any “positive contributions” coming from the 2015 nuclear accord.

Last October, an Iranian court sentenced 46-year-old Siamak Namazi and his father, Baquer Namazi, 80, to 10 years in prison on charges of spying and cooperating with the US.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps detained Siamak in October 2015 while he was visiting his family in Tehran, and Baquer, a former Iranian provincial governor and ex-UNICEF official, in February last year, family members said.

Levinson, a former agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and for the Drug Enforcement Administration, disappeared in Iran in 2007. The US government has a $5m reward for information leading to his safe return.

Levinson left Iran years ago and the Islamic Republic has no information about his whereabouts, Ghasemi said on Saturday.

“The statements of the White House, as usual, are an example of interference in Iran’s internal affairs and the demands are unacceptable and rejected,” Ghasemi said, according to ISNA.

MEE and Agencies / Republished with permission / Middle East EyeReport a typo

This article was chosen for republication based on the interest of our readers. Anti-Media republishes stories from a number of other independent news sources. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect Anti-Media editorial policy.

US Drone Strike Gone Horribly Wrong Kills 15 Afghan Police Officers

Sun, 2017-07-23 12:06

(ANTIWAR.COM) — The US has tried to bolster the Afghan government in Helmand Province with air support in their fighting against the Taliban, but the support appears to have gone horribly wrong, as a US drone attacked and killed at least 15 Afghan police.

The airstrike was targeting what the US thought was a Taliban compound in Helmand’s Gereshk District, but was actually a site used by Afghan security forces to meet and plan operations against the Taliban. A number were inside when the US attacked.

Death tolls still aren’t totally finalized, but Helmand Governor Hayatullah Hayat confirmed that two top police commanders were among the slain. The Afghan government suggested no soldiers were among the slain, and that it was only the local and provincially-provided police forces that sustained casualties.

The Pentagon expressed condolences for “the unfortunate incident,” but provided no indication as to why they attacked the compound, simply terming the attack part of a “US-supported operation.” Either way, this likely derails the anti-Taliban operation that was ongoing in the district.

By Jason Ditz / Republished with permission / ANTIWAR.COMReport a typo

This article was chosen for republication based on the interest of our readers. Anti-Media republishes stories from a number of other independent news sources. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect Anti-Media editorial policy.

Iran’s Foreign Minister: Saudis Involved in 94% of Terrorist Attacks in the World

Sat, 2017-07-22 15:19
He added there are certain countries in the Middle East who have been “consistently” supporting terrorism.

(AHT) — “We don’t see the situation in our region as a winning or losing battle. It’s a situation where the initial U.S. invasion of Iraq has led everybody to lose. Because we believe that the situation in today’s world is so interconnected that we cannot have winners and losers; we either win together or lose together,” Zarif told The National Interest.

Zarif also said that Shias, Sunnis and Kurds are all important segments of Iraqi society with whom Iran needs to have relations.

“Iran has rushed to the aid of the Iraqis, not just the Shias, but everybody. For us, the Shias, the Sunnis, the Kurds—all of them are an important segment of Iraqi society with whom we need to have relations.” 

Citing an example of Iran’s help to Iraqis when Daesh invaded Iraq in 2014, the foreign minister said, “We went to the support of the Kurds: when they had been invaded by ISIS, we were the first to go to Erbil to secure it and to rescue it, basically, from a Daesh occupation.”

He added there are certain countries in the Middle East who have been “consistently” supporting terrorism.

“You have countries in the region who have consistently supported extremists… Some countries consistently supported the wrong groups—these are the same countries from whose nationals, almost 94 percent of those engaged in acts of terror, came—so we are talking about a consistent record on their side and a consistent record on the Iranian side.” 

He added that Iran does not seek to exclude Saudi Arabia from the security calculus of the Middle East region.

“We believe that Saudi Arabia is an important part of that security, as we believe that other countries in the region should be an important part of that security understanding.”

By AHT Staff / Creative CommonsAmerican Herald Tribune / Report a typo

This article was chosen for republication based on the interest of our readers. Anti-Media republishes stories from a number of other independent news sources. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect Anti-Media editorial policy.

 

CIA Chief Warns of WikiLeaks Plotting to “Take Down America Any Way They Can”

Sat, 2017-07-22 11:32

(ANTIWAR.COM) — CIA Director Mike Pompeo remains inconsolably hostile toward whistleblower organization WikiLeaks, insisting they are a “non-state hostile intelligence service” and are plotting to “take down America any way they can and find any willing partner to achieve that end.

Hostility to WikiLeaks has been a mainstay in the US government, as every administration faces the prospect of their covert misdeeds becoming a matter of public record, to their general embarrassment albeit rarely to the end of any meaningful reform.

Pompeo argued that the US needs to use the Espionage Act much more in going after leakers who aren’t actually foreign spies, though he stopped short of openly endorsing Espionage prosecutions against journalists for reporting on the leaks.

President Trump had a positive attitude toward WikiLeaks during last year’s campaign, declaring “I love WikiLeaks.” Pompeo insists he doesn’t feel the same way, and that US intelligence agencies need to find ways to fight the organization.

By Jason Ditz / Republished with permission / ANTIWAR.COMReport a typo

This article was chosen for republication based on the interest of our readers. Anti-Media republishes stories from a number of other independent news sources. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect Anti-Media editorial policy.

Palestinians and Israelis Killed, Hundreds Wounded as Violence Engulfs West Bank

Sat, 2017-07-22 09:40
Israeli police enter hospital, witnesses believed they were looking for those wounded in protests.

(MEE) — Three Palestinians were shot dead and four others wounded as thousands of Palestinian worshippers clashed with security forces on a “day of rage” over Israeli control of Islam’s third-holiest site. Israel’s army said a family of three Israeli settlers were stabbed to death and a fourth was wounded in the Israeli West Bank settlement of Neve Tsuf on Friday.

Mohammad Sharaf, 17, was reportedly shot by an Israeli settler in the Ras Alamood area in East Jerusalem. Mohammed Hassan Abu Ghannam, 19, died of wounds in al-Makassed hospital after he was shot by an Israeli settler in East Jerusalem. Footage on social media shows Ghannam’s body being carried over the hospital gate by Palestinian paramedics and protesters.

A third Palestinian was killed in Abu Dis, AFP reported, quoting Palestinian health officials saying: “A Palestinian was killed after he was shot in the heart by live bullets.”

The Israeli family that was stabbed were reportedly having Shabbat dinner. A 20-year-old Palestinian from Khobar barged into the house, killed three family members and severely wounded a fourth. The three slain were the father, who was in his 60s, his son and daughter who were both in their 40s, according to a Haaretz report. The mother is being treated at Shaare Zedek hosptial in Jerusalem.

The reported assailant was identified in news reports as Omar el-Abed from the West Bank village of Khobar near Ramallah.

Abed sustained some injuries and was sent to Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva for treatment, according to a Haaretz report.

#Palestinians pray Juma (Friday prayer) on the Salahaddin al-Ayyubi street in #Jerusalem. pic.twitter.com/ANyYKnMTGa

— Ali Özkök (@A_Ozkok) July 21, 2017

The army said in a statement that the four victims were Israeli civilians and that the assailant was also shot. It was not known whether he was alive.

The deaths came as thousands of Palestinians clashed with police after peaceful prayers around the Old City. Many had refused to enter the Noble Sanctuary and the al-Aqsa mosque in protest of new Israeli security checkpoints at two key entrances.

The sanctuary has for a week been subjected to increased security measures, including metal detectors, that many in Palestine see as an attempt to gain control of the site.

Worshippers outside the Old City were scattered soon after Friday prayers as Israeli police fired tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowds in Salah al-Din Street. Four Palestinians were reported injured.

Israel arrested 29 Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and more than 390 people were injured on Friday, according to a Haaretz report. The Red Crescent said most of the injured Palestinians inhaled tear gas while 38 were hit with live and rubber bullets.

Ahmad Abdul Salaam, who came to pray outside the Noble Sanctuary, said: “Putting these metal detectors at the entrance to our place of worship is like putting them at the entrance to our house. Are you really going to put me through a metal detector as I go into my house?”

Israeli police enter hospital

Israeli police also entered al-Makassed hospital in Jerusalem and asked employees to leave. Witnesses said they believed Israeli officers were looking for those wounded in the clashes.

Earlier, the hospital released a statement asking for blood donations because of the number of injured.

The Israeli action after prayers came on a day Palestinian leaders had promised a “day of rage” over Israel’s moves to control access to the sanctuary, following an attack by gunmen last week that killed two Israeli police.

Talks to remove metal detectors from the gated entrances collapsed overnight as Palestinian Authority negotiators refused to accept Israel’s offer of subjecting only “suspicious people” to metal detection checks.

Israel poured thousands of extra police into the city in response. Police were seen taking up positions above crowds of worshippers, armed with baton rounds and assault rifles.

مشاهد من الهجوم الجنوني لقوات الاحتلال على المصلين في عدة أحياء بالقدس#جمعة_الأقصى pic.twitter.com/9EwooYqBRX

— Amr Elqazaz (@amrsalama) July 21, 2017

Officials including the Palestinian Authority’s chief negotiator, Hatem Abdel-Kader, were arrested shortly after the talks failed.Speaking to MEE before his arrest, Abdel-Kader, said: “The Israeli offer to keep the metal detectors in place, but only require suspicious individuals to pass through them, was unreservedly rejected by the Palestinians.

“There will be an escalation tomorrow. Clashes will inevitably continue until freedom of religion is restored.”

Clashes between Palestinians hurling stones and Israeli police using stun grenades have been a daily occurrence in East Jerusalem since the metal detectors were installed on Saturday at entrances to the Noble Sanctuary, which includes the al-Aqsa mosque.

مراسلتنا: مواطنون غاضبون يشيعون جثمان الشهيد محمد محمود شرف (١٨ عامًا) الذي استشهد برصاص مستوطن في حي راس العامود شرق القدس#جمعه_الاقصي pic.twitter.com/EKWkvQ9GOB

— وكالة صفا (@SafaPs) July 21, 2017

Abdala Athem Salhab, the head of the Waqf counsel that administers the Noble Sanctury site, said: “We are all united and it’s our responsibility to protect the Aqsa mosque – we won’t step back. We are asking Jordan to intervene to remove the doors, otherwise Israel is leading the area to religious war.”

Ahmed Tibi, a member of the Israeli parliament for the Arab List coalition, said it was the duty of Palestinians in Israel and Jerusalem and the West Bank “to act now in order to protect the Aqsa from the Israeli forces. The Aqsa is not only a religion issue but also a political one.

“Our response to Netanyahu is that we say no to the detectors and we will continue the protest. We hope the Islamic world and the international community take action to stop the violations.”

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas spoke with the US president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, a senior adviser who has been tasked with resolving the Middle East peace impasse, reported Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency.

Abbas called on Washington to immediately intervene, saying that the situation was “extremely dangerous and might spiral out of control,” the agency said.

Violations

Muslim religious authorities claim the metal detectors violate a delicate agreement on worship and security arrangements at the Jerusalem site and have urged Palestinians not to pass through. Prayers have been held near an entrance to the complex.

On Thursday night, Israeli forces wounded 22 Palestinians at Lion’s Gate, near Haram al-Sharif, in Jerusalem. According to the Red Crescent, two of those hurt are in serious condition after they were hit by a stun grenade.

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has considered removing the devices at the site but so far the detectors remain in place.

Abdel-Kader told Middle East Eye: “The metal detectors serve no security purpose whatsoever. Rather, their erection is a political play to pressure Palestinians into relinquishing control of al-Aqsa.”

“With the religious and political sensitivities surrounding al-Aqsa – as a universal sanctuary for Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims – Israel is taking a massive gamble and ultimately, crossing a red line. Undoubtedly, this may have dangerous consequences,” Abdel-Kader said.

Far-right members of Netanyahu’s government have publicly urged him to keep the devices in place at the flashpoint.

Still, Israeli media reports said security chiefs were divided over the issue amid concerns about wider Palestinian unrest in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

“Israel is committed to maintaining the status quo at the Temple Mount and the freedom of access to the holy places,” the security cabinet said in a statement.

“The cabinet has authorised the police to take any decision in order to ensure free access to the holy places while maintaining security and public order.”

By Lubna Masarwa / Republished with permission / Middle East EyeReport a typo

This article was chosen for republication based on the interest of our readers. Anti-Media republishes stories from a number of other independent news sources. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect Anti-Media editorial policy.

A Complete History of John McCain Calling for War Around the World

Sat, 2017-07-22 08:46

(GPA) — Earlier this week notorious war hawk US Senator John McCain (R-Az) was diagnosed with brain cancer. While the liberal and conservative establishments are sending their regards, Geopolitics Alert instead compiled a list of reasons why we don’t care about McCain.

The list is of course a history of all the instances McCain has called for US-led intervention around the world. There’s obviously a long history here, so Geopolitics Alert has compiled the largest examples from Europe to Asia. We’ll start with the obvious wars first.

Afghanistan and Iraq

Obviously every US senator (besides California’s Barbara Lee) voted to give president George W. Bush the power to invade Afghanistan following the events of September 11th. However, McCain wasn’t happy with just moving to invade Afghanistan. No, he had other targets on his mind as early as the day after the towers fell.

Despite McCain’s claim in 2014 that “the Iraq war probably wouldn’t have happened” if he had won the 2000 Republican primary and then general election, this assertion seems ridiculous. On September 12th 2001, McCain appeared on MSNBC presenting a long list of countries he felt were providing a “safe harbor” to groups like al Qaeda. This list of course included Iraq and several other countries that appear later on this list.

Syria

Another country on that 2001 list (of course) was Syria. Now, the Bush regime may have never gotten a chance to continue toppling Mideast countries (thanks to the failure in Iraq and the exposure of that war being sold on lies). But McCain seemingly never lost sight of his hatred for Bashar Al-Assad.

Shortly after the Arab Spring “broke out” in Syria, McCain – and his constant partner in war crimes Sen. Lindsey Graham – quickly found communication channels with the “Syrian opposition.” Just a few short months after the US endorsed protests in Syria (even having their ambassador attend), McCain and Graham began calling for arms to start flowing to the Free Syrian Army and other “rebel” groups.

Libya

McCain’s plans for Syria never quite worked the way he wanted but he probably should’ve know they would never yield a positive result. If McCain didn’t want to look at Iraq to prove that point, he had another more recent example he could’ve used: the NATO intervention in Libya.

It was less than a year before McCain wanted to arm Syrian takfiris that he had supported with the bombing and no fly zones in Libya. McCain even wanted tougher actions against the country. Which has now become an anarchic Wild West that’s home to all sorts of horrors from the Islamic State to a new slave trade.

West and Central Africa

McCain is also a champion of the “war on terror” in other parts of Africa. While McCain hasn’t directly supported terrorists in some countries in Africa, he still has called for more US intervention across the continent.

This list includes countries dealing with Islamic insurgencies, such as Mali. McCain has also called for plans like “deploying Special Forces” to rescue girls kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria and intervention in Sudan, where McCain and his wife have invested money for some time.

Iran

Another country on the list of hated nations originally put forth by Bush undersecretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz, and also another long time target of McCain, is of course Iran.

Although McCain has always said “he prays” there will never be at war with Iran, the man constantly calls for it and even jokes about bombing the country when he feels the mood is right. The truth of the matter is, McCain’s positions towards Iran are so hostile that even flagship neoconservative institutions like the Cato Institute think he is too hawkish.

Bosnia and Kosovo

But McCain isn’t satisfied with just backing salafi jihadists in the traditional Middle East and North African theaters. He’s also backed violent radicals across the fringes of Europe. This trend really started in the mid 1990’s when McCain was a vocal supporter of then president Bill Clinton’s war in Bosnia.

Many of the Muslims traveling to Bosnia joining the mujahideen there have joined groups like IS in recent years. And IS flags can occasionally be seen in the Sunni areas of Bosnia now. McCain was still backing potential takfiri movements, recently accusing Russia of interfering in local affairs, and calling for more US intervention in the country.

McCain made similar decisions when he advocated US intervention in Kosovo in the late 90’s. In the Kosovo conflict, McCain backed the Kosovo Liberation Army: a genocidal jihadist organization with ties to Al Qaeda under Osama Bin Laden.

Ukraine

Don’t be fooled into thinking that McCain only supports jihadists in Eastern Europe though! He also backs the overt Nazis acting as death squads for Kiev in the ongoing Ukrainian conflict.

This of course started in 2014, but McCain has continued to pledge support for Kiev’s crimes in the Donbass region to this day. This is all par for the course in McCain’s larger theme of challenging Russia– the country he believes controls the separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Russia

The story of McCain’s hatred of Russia spans back to the Cold War. We won’t get into McCain’s fear of communism that’s evolved into just general Russophobia. But we will say he didn’t have many excuses to focus on making threats towards Moscow for a good 15-20 year stretch.

This changed in 2008, with the war in South Ossetia between Georgia and Russia. During this conflict McCain was the loudest voice saying the US “should immediately call a meeting of the North Atlantic Council to assess Georgia’s security and review measures NATO can take to contribute to stabilizing this very dangerous situation.”

This same situation repeated in Ukraine in 2014 but McCain’s worst comments came this year. As soon as the US Intelligence Community’s accused Russia of interference in the 2016 US elections– and without any evidence– McCain was first to say the event was an “act of war.”

North Korea

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DRPK/North Korea) was also an early target of McCain’s making his September 12th wish list. More recently though, the restyled “Trump opponent” McCain was all-in on the new regime’s saber rattling. Calling on Trump to strike the nuclear armed country.

Bonus: China

China is kind of in its own class with McCain, who’s made strange vague threats towards the country in the past. Such as “the Arab spring is coming to China,” whatever that means. China may be a target on the periphery for McCain but he does still encourage antagonizing the country to this day. Calling for things like more “freedom of navigation drills” and other naval exercises in the South China Sea.

So, in summation, next time someone asks why you don’t care about John McCain’s clock running out, show them this article. McCain has encouraged the spread of death worldwide. The day he leaves congress will be a victory for the human race.

By Jim Carey / Republished with permission / Geopolitics AlertReport a typo

This article was chosen for republication based on the interest of our readers. Anti-Media republishes stories from a number of other independent news sources. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect Anti-Media editorial policy.

White House Closing Down War Crimes Office After Being Accused of War Crimes

Fri, 2017-07-21 19:41

(ANTIMEDIA)  Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is reportedly closing a decades-old office in the State Department that has helped pursue justice for victims of war crimes.

The “Office of Global Criminal Justice” advises the secretary of state on issues surrounding war crimes and genocide. It was established by Bill Clinton’s secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, a woman who barely batted an eyelid while overseeing the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children. 

According to Newsweek, the office has supported criminal courts in Rwanda, former Yugoslavia, Cambodia, and the Central African Republic. This alone should give one an idea of the office’s intentions and prerogatives: it is often concerned with punishing African nations — as the International Criminal Court (ICC) is often accused of doing — as well as America’s adversaries but also tends to ignore the actions of the United States and its allies.

That being said, the timing of the office’s closure is somewhat suspect. Amnesty International just released a report that heavily implicates the United States in a number of criminal acts in Mosul, Iraq. A credible Kurdish intelligence source also just revealed documents the Independent that show the conflict in Mosul may have resulted in over 40,000 civilian deaths in a nine-month period. No one doubts that ISIS has had a hand in civilian casualties, but we also know from a number of sources that, at the very least, American bombs alone have likely killed at least 4,500 civilians in Mosul, with thousands more still buried under the rubble. Whether we like to admit it or not, the U.S. has killed thousands of civilians in a mere nine-month long conflict.

“It just makes official what has been U.S. policy since 9/11, which is that there will be no notice taken of war crimes because so many of them were being committed by our own allies, our military and intelligence officers and our elected officials,” Maj. Todd E. Pierce, a former judge advocate general and defense attorney at Guantanamo, told Newsweek.

Newsweek also spoke with Amherst College law professor Lawrence Douglas, who specializes in war crimes. Douglas said the move “should be a source of deep regret domestically and cause for grave concern abroad. The closing makes a powerful statement—that the Trump administration cares little about the protection of human rights and nothing about the vital work of international criminal courts. Perpetrators of atrocities the world over will, however, be pleased.”

Clearly, the U.S. has little interest in crimes and atrocities when they’re committed by their own military and their allies. Until the beginning of June this year, the U.S. had only two personnel investigating war crimes in Iraq and Syria full time. The number is now seven.

America’s drone program, which Barack Obama rapidly accelerated and Trump inherited, has also attracted much-needed criticism concerning its legality, as has support for Saudi Arabia’s brutal assault on Yemen. In aiding Saudi Arabia by refueling planes, providing intelligence, sitting in the control and command center, and providing arms and munitions, legal scholars have warned that the U.S. could become a co-belligerent in the war, in turn exposing liability for war crimes.

The Trump administration has shown a keen interest in not only continuing the Saudi-Yemen war but also drastically escalating it in a number of ways.

The U.S. is also implicated in war crimes in Afghanistan and is most likely committing war crimes in Syria – a double-edged war crime because the U.S. has no legal justification to bomb Syrian territory in the first place.

If the U.S. wants to carry on its practices without attracting any legal ramifications, one must wonder why it feels the right to cry foul every time reports come out alleging human rights abuses and criminal acts committed by America’s adversaries.

As Newsweek noted, although the war crimes office’s closure has not yet been confirmed by the State Department, if it is finalized, it would mark just one example of a “wide-ranging overhaul.” For example, the State Department recently closed the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism even though Donald Trump was legally required to staff the office. Trump is essentially axing these programs so he can justify his proposed massive increase in defense spending, which will ironically likely lead to the U.S. military committing more criminal acts overseas.

If the U.S. wants free reign to keep committing atrocities all over the world, perhaps it should stay quiet when it believes (or wants us to believe) other countries are also engaging in similar behavior. It certainly shouldn’t hold the rest of the world up to the very standards the U.S. government has shown no signs of upholding. The impending closure of a mostly ineffective war crimes office is just the latest example of the U.S. showing virtually no dedication to human rights or holding criminals accountable for their abhorrent actions.

Creative Commons / Anti-Media / Report a typo

‘He’s Dead’: Teens Film, Laugh at Man Drowning in a Pond Screaming for Help

Fri, 2017-07-21 14:05

(ANTIMEDIA) Florida — In a case that has sparked moral outrage and frustration with the legal system, CNN reported Friday that a group of teenage boys who filmed and even taunted a man as he drowned will not face charges.

On Saturday, July 9, five teen boys — aged 14 to 16 — filmed 31-year-old Jamel Dunn for more than two minutes as he struggled to stay afloat in a pond near his home in Cocoa, Florida. The teens can be heard laughing in the footage, even at the point of Dunn’s final breaths, all while knowing full well the gravity of the situation.

From CNN:

“The teens can be heard warning the man that he was ‘going to die’ and they were not going to help him. At one point, one of the teen boys can be heard laughing, saying ‘he dead.’”

The teens didn’t bother to alert authorities about the incident, and by July 12 Dunn’s family had filed a missing person’s report. Jamel Dunn’s body was recovered from the pond two days later.

Currently, there are no laws on Florida’s books that require citizens to aid someone in distress. Lamenting that fact, Cocoa Police Department spokesperson Yvonne Martinez told CNN that legally, the justice system’s hands are tied.

“The family is frustrated…the detectives are frustrated, that we cannot hold anyone accountable for this,” she said“No one deserves to go like that.”

The state’s attorney’s office echoed Martinez’s sentiment in a statement, saying it is “deeply shocked and saddened” by the whole affair but that no legal action can be taken:

“While the incident depicted on the recording does not give rise to sufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution under Florida statutes, we can find no moral justification for either the behavior of persons heard on the recording or the deliberate decision not to render aid to Mr. Dunn.”

Cocoa police chief Mike Cantaloupe feels similarly and said Jamel Dunn’s case “may be what’s needed to pass new laws.”

But it’s the total lack of compassion that really gets to Martinez, who told CNN “at least one of the teens expressed no remorse while being interviewed by detectives.” She points to the fact that none of the teens reported the incident as further evidence of the coldness on display.

“I’ve been doing this a long time, probably 20 years or more,” she says. “I was horrified. My jaw dropped.”Martinez added that “to sit there and to laugh and humiliate this person” while they’re dying “is beyond my comprehension.”

Without specifying how, CNN reported that Dunn’s sister, Simone Scott, received the video on Saturday, July 15 — one week after Jamel’s drowning. Scott subsequently posted the footage on Facebook. On Thursday, she did a Facebook Live stream in which she questioned the type of men these teenage boys will become:

“If they can sit there and watch somebody die in front of their eyes, imagine what they’re going to do when they get older. Where’s the morals?”

Creative Commons / Anti-Media / Report a typo

Sean Spicer Resigns as White House Press Secretary

Fri, 2017-07-21 12:31

(ZHEIt’s official: moments ago the much anticipated departure of (now former) White House press secretary, Sean Spicer took place, when according to the NYT Spicer resigned on Friday morning, “telling President Trump he vehemently disagreed with the appointment of New York financier Anthony Scaramucci as communications director.”

Mr. Trump offered Mr. Scaramucci the job at 10 a.m. The president requested that Mr. Spicer stay on, but Mr. Spicer told Mr. Trump that he believed the appointment was a major mistake, according to person with direct knowledge of the exchange.

News of Spicer’s resignation was promptly greeted with trolling by many, including Maxine Waters:

Congratulations Sean Spicer. You've got more guts than Jeff Sessions!

— Maxine Waters (@MaxineWaters) July 21, 2017

To all those who bought the “No” contract: congratulations: it’s payout time:

Meanwhile, as hinted above, Trump appointed former SkyBridge Capital founder Anthony Scaramucci as White House Communications Director.

JUST IN: President Trump has offered Anthony Scaramucci the job of White House Communications Dir.; Scaramucci has accepted. – @JTSantucci

— ABC News (@ABC) July 21, 2017

Scaramucci has been a vocal supporter of the president, having served in a top financial advisory role on Trump’s campaign. He has been an ardent defender of the president in television interviews.

.@DonaldJTrumpJr is a virtuous and honorable man. Virtue means the courage to act with integrity. Don does that everyday. #stopwitchunt

— Anthony Scaramucci (@Scaramucci) July 9, 2017

He was also the subject of the recent hit piece from CNN that the network was forced to retract and apologize to him for, a piece that inaccurately accused him of being under multiple investigations—he is not under any—for “meetings” that never happened with Russian bankers. Three senior CNN editorial officials resigned over the story, amounting to what is still developing into one of the biggest scandals in journalistic history.

While news of Scaramucci’s appointment first broke on Thursday night, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus tried to scuttle the appointment of Scaramucci due to a reported long-running feud with him, according to Breitbart, which adds that Steve Bannon, the ex-Executive Chairman of Breitbart News now the White House chief strategist, also objected to the Scaramucci appointment.

Bannon and Priebus have an alliance inside the White House where they are frequently at loggerheads with the “West Wing Democrats” like National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, National Economic Council director Gary Cohn, Jared Kusher, Ivanka Trump, and others.

Those opposed to the Scaramucci appointment did not succeed.

Reince and Bannon fought hard to stop Scaramucci going in. But the President made up his own mind.

— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) July 21, 2017

Scaramucci is a done deal, I'm told. Bannon lost.

— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) July 21, 2017

By Tyler Durden / Republished with permission / ZeroHedge.com / Report a typo

This article was chosen for republication based on the interest of our readers. Anti-Media republishes stories from a number of other independent news sources. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect Anti-Media editorial policy.

Cholera Epidemic in Yemen is Now Worst Ever Recorded in History

Fri, 2017-07-21 11:13

(MEE) — Yemen is suffering from the world’s largest cholera epidemic on record, Oxfam said on Friday morning.

The organization documented more than 360,000 suspected cases of cholera in a three-month period, topping Haiti’s 340,000 cases after an earthquake in 2011.

Oxfam said that 2,000 people have died from the disease since the start of the outbreak in April.

“It is quite frankly staggering that in just three months more people in Yemen have contracted cholera than any country has suffered in a single year since modern records began,” said Nigel Timmins, Oxfam’s humanitarian director.

“Cholera has spread unchecked in a country already on its knees after two years of war and which is teetering on the brink of famine. For many people, weakened by war and hunger, cholera is the knockout blow.”

“This is a massive crisis needing a massive response – if anything the numbers we have are likely to underestimate the scale of the crisis. So far, funding from government donors to pay for the aid effort has been lackluster at best, less than half is what is needed,” he added.

On July 10, a 10-week cholera epidemic had infected more than 300,000 people in Yemen, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said, adding that the epidemic is a health disaster to a country already ravaged by war, economic collapse and near-famine.

The most intense impact has been in the western areas of the country, which have been fiercely contested in a two-year war between a Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels.

Yemen’s economic collapse means 30,000 healthworkers have not been paid for more than 10 months, so the UN has stepped in with “incentive” payments to get them involved in an emergency campaign to fight the disease.

The spread of the disease is also being limited by “herd immunity” – the natural protection afforded by a large proportion of the population contracting and then surviving the disease.

The UN announced in early July that resources devoted toward combating malnutrition were being diverted to fighting cholera.

“Humanitarian organizations have had to reprogram their resources away from malnutrition and reuse them to control the cholera outbreak,” the UN humanitarian coordinator in Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, told a news briefing in the capital Sanaa.

“And if we don’t get these resources replaced, then using those resources for cholera will mean that food security will suffer,” he said.

By MEE staff / Republished with permission / Middle East Eye / Report a typo

This article was chosen for republication based on the interest of our readers. Anti-Media republishes stories from a number of other independent news sources. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect Anti-Media editorial policy.

22,000 People Accidentally Agree to Clean Port-a-Potties and Sewers for Free WiFi

Tue, 2017-07-18 10:11

(ANTIMEDIA) —Public wifi company Purple announced Thursday in a press release that over 22,000 people had agreed to perform up to 1,000 hours of community service — including tasks like cleaning portable lavatories and cleaning sewers — in exchange for free wifi. The Manchester-based company, which provides wifi hotspots for companies and events all over the world, added a temporary “Customer Service Clause” to their terms and conditions over a two-week period as an experiment to see just how many users actually read the terms before clicking “accept.”

The prank clause was added to the company’s regular terms and stated:

The user may be required, at Purple’s discretion, to carry out 1,000 hours of community service. This may include the following:

  • Cleansing local parks of animal waste
  • Providing hugs to stray cats and dogs
  • Manually relieving sewer blockages
  • Cleaning portable lavatories at local festivals and events
  • Painting snail shells to brighten up their existence
  • Scraping chewing gum off the streets

Users were even given the option to “flag” the spoof clause to collect a prize. Out of the approximately 22,000 users who signed up for free wifi during the two-week experiment, Purple reported that only one person noticed the strange terms. One. That’s 0.0045%. The company revealed that the results underscore their motivation for conducting the experiment in the first place, which was to “highlight the lack of consumer awareness when signing up to use free WiFi.”

The wifi company coordinated the results to be released in tandem with the announcement that Purple is officially the first wifi provider to achieve compliance with General Data Protection Regulation, new E.U. legislation that will not officially take effect until May 25th, 2018. In compliance with the data privacy regulations, Purple has streamlined their privacy policy, reducing it from 1600 to 260 words and providing users with more clarity with regard to who has access to their data and how it will be used. They also unveiled a feature called Profile Portal, which “gives end users complete transparency of all the data collected about them and also allows them to modify their marketing preferences.”

Purple stresses the importance of providing users with more control over their personal data. “WiFi users need to read terms when they sign up to access a network. What are they agreeing to, how much data are they sharing, and what license are they giving to providers? Our experiment shows it’s all too easy to tick a box and consent to something unfair,” said Purple CEO Gavin Wheeldon.

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Civilian Deaths in Afghanistan Hit New Record High

Tue, 2017-07-18 09:47

(ANTIWAR.COM) — The civilian death toll in Afghanistan, some 16 years into the US-led invasion and occupation, continues to rise precipitously, with the most recent figures out of the United Nations showing 1,662 civilians killed in the first half of 2017, the highest civilian toll of the entire war.

Officials had expressed hope civilian deaths had more or less leveled off, when the first half of 2016, the previous record, gave way to a roughly identical figure in the second half. Increased airstrikes and some major suicide bombings drove another increase, however.

The civilian toll was particularly grave for women and children, with casualties among women up 23% and 9% among children. This was exemplified by an early February US airstrike in Sangn District, which killed 26 civilians.

UN officials did however say that overall, the US had killed fewer civilians this year than in the same period of 2016, likely reflective of the change in leadership of the Afghan War, as air raids usually drop temporarily when a new general assumes control of the conflict.

Republished with permission / ANTIWAR.COMReport a typo / Image: Mark Reidy

This article was chosen for republication based on the interest of our readers. Anti-Media republishes stories from a number of other independent news sources. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect Anti-Media editorial policy.

US Airstrike Hits Somalia

Tue, 2017-07-04 09:46

(ANTIWAR.COM) — Pentagon officials have confirmed that they carried out an airstrike Sunday morning inside the country of Somalia, and that they were trying to target the al-Shabaab insurgency, saying they were after “specific militant targets.”

What they actually hit, however, isn’t at all clear, with no word yet out of Somalia on the results of the strike, and the Pentagon insisting that they are still “assessing the results,” and holding out the idea they might provide information in the future “as appropriate.”

In practice, however, the Pentagon has recently been very tight-lipped about the results of airstrikes, especially those strikes that didn’t go according to plan, meaning that “al-Shabaab was targeted” may well be the last we ever hear about the incident.

The Trump Administration has given the Pentagon increased autonomy to carry out operations in several places around the world, including in Somalia, and this is the second such strike in a little over a month. The previous strike was said to kill eight militants. As far as this strike, it’s anyone’s guess.

By Jason Ditz / Republished with permission / AntiWar.com / Report a typo

 

Those Killed by US-Led ‘War on Terror’ 10x Higher Than Reported by the Media

Mon, 2017-07-03 14:59

(ANTIMEDIA)  At the end of May, the Washington D.C.-based Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) released a study concluding that the death toll from the American-led “War on Terror” could be as high as two million just since the years following the 9/11 attacks.

The study, entitled “Body Count,” is 97 pages long and involved tallying up the total number of civilian casualties from U.S.-led adventures in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Not surprisingly, the mainstream media has paid close to zero attention to this report despite the high-profile nature of the group that produced it (they shared in the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize with the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW).

The study found that in many instances, previous estimates had “grossly” underestimated the body count. According to the researchers:

The figure is approximately 10 times greater than that of which the public, experts and decision makers are aware of and propagated by the media and major NGOs. And this is only a conservative estimate.”

The report also found previous estimates had whitewashed the culpability and responsibility of those who had done the killing. In regards to the Iraq War, PSR found that despite “all the inaccuracies…the answers still allowed for the conclusion that approximately one third of all victims of violence had been directly killed by the occupation forces.” [emphasis added]

The U.S. and its allies (particularly the United Kingdom) also bear the ultimate blame for civilian deaths, specifically, following the 2003 invasion. It was their presence that unleashed the chaos to begin with, as noted by independent journalist Ben Swann:

“Before the 2003 U.S. invasion, do you know how many suicide attacks there were in Iraq? None. In the country’s history there had never been one. But since the 2003 invasion, there have been 1,892.”

The PSR study also found some momentous flaws with a number of other death toll studies. For example, a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine ignored the areas of Iraq that were subject to the heaviest violence, including Baghdad, the capital city of Iraq.

Overall, the PSR speculated that the most accurate number for the death toll in Iraq since 2003 is about one million. Together with a conservative Afghanistan death toll of 220,000 and a Pakistani death toll of 80,000, the PSR found that the number of deaths from the “War on Terror” was at least 1.3 million. However, PSR concluded that the real figure could easily be “in excess of two million.”

Nafeez Ahmed, a journalist who was axed from the Guardian for exposing Israel’s motives for bombing the Gaza strip in 2014, has compiled a death toll of his own, noting that the war in Iraq did not begin in 2003.

“The war on Iraq did not begin in 2003, but in 1991 with the first Gulf War, which was followed by the UN sanctions regime. Ahmed writes.

Noting that the U.N. has found these draconian sanctions were responsible for the deaths of approximately 1.7 million civilians (between 500,000 and 600,000 of whom were children), Ahmed found that from 1990 to the present day, the U.S. has realistically killed close to three million Iraqi civilians.

All in all, Ahmed finds that the death toll from the U.S.-led “War on Terror” since 1990 is close to four million – the majority of whom would undoubtedly be Muslims given Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan are majority Muslim nations.

Any criticism of Islam and its 1.6 billion adherents that ignores this devastating recent history is a dangerous and illusory waste of time.

Last year, leaked ISIS documents revealed that its members had an extremely poor understanding of Islam. This was further confirmed by Lydia Wilson of The Nation, who interviewed captured ISIS fighters herself:

“Why did he [an ISIS fighter] do all these things? Many assume that these fighters are motivated by a belief in the Islamic State, a caliphate ruled by a caliph with the traditional title Emir al-Muminiin, ‘Commander of the faithful,’ a role currently held by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi; that fighters all over the world are flocking to the area for a chance to fight for this dream. But this just doesn’t hold for the prisoners we are interviewing. They are woefully ignorant about Islam and have difficulty answering questions about Sharia law, militant jihad, and the caliphate.” [emphasis added]

According to Wilson’s interviews with ISIS fighters, one main reason for their radicalization was not their religion, but George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq.

“‘The Americans came,’ [one fighter] said. ‘They took away Saddam, but they also took away our security. I didn’t like Saddam, we were starving then, but at least we didn’t have war. When you came here, the civil war started.’”

If a few ragtag Muslims committing heinous acts of terrorism on Western soil are enough to radicalize Westerners to form resistant groups, surely one can understand the sheer horror and plight of a group of people who have been killed by the millions in the past two or three decades over nothing more than a geopolitical chess game of oil, money, and natural gas.

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Ron Paul: We Must Declare Independence

Mon, 2017-07-03 13:18

(RPIAs Independence Day comes around again we should spend a few moments between barbecue and fireworks to think about the meaning of independence. The colonists who rebelled against the British Crown were, among other things, unhappy about taxation. Yet, as economist Gary North points out, the total burden of British imperial taxation was about one-to-two percent of national income.

Some 241 years later, Washington claims more of our money as its own than King George could have ever imagined. What do we get in this bargain? We get a federal government larger and more oppressive than before 1776, a government that increasingly views us as the enemy.

Think about NSA surveillance. As we have learned from brave whistleblowers like William Binney and Edward Snowden, the US intelligence community is not protecting us from foreigners who seek to destroy our way of life. The US intelligence community is itself destroying our way of life. Literally every one of our electronic communications is captured and stored in vast computer networks. Perhaps they will be used against “dissidents” in the future who question government tyranny.

We have no privacy in our computers or our phones. If the government wants to see what we are doing at any time, it simply switches on our phone camera or computer camera – or our “smart” television. Yet today we continue to hear, “I’ve got nothing to hide.”

In a recent interview on our Liberty Report, Edward Snowden made the excellent point that, “saying that you don’t care about privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about freedom of speech because you have nothing to say.”

Think about the TSA. The freedom to travel is fundamental, and our Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures is the law of the land. But if you dare to exercise that right by purchasing an air ticket, you are treated like a Guantanamo Bay detainee. Don’t dare question as the TSA agents commit acts that would be crimes were they done by anyone else. Yet so many Americans still believe this is what it takes to be “safe.”

Think about the military industrial complex. The US government spends more on its military empire than much of the rest of the world combined. Our so-called mortal enemy Russia spends ten cents to every dollar we spend on weapons of war. Yet we are told we must spend more! Imagine the amazing peaceful scientific discoveries that might be made were so many researchers and scientists not on the government payroll designing new ways to end life on earth.

Think about the Fed. Since the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913 the US dollar has lost some 98 percent of its value. Is the destruction of our currency not a cruel form of tyranny, hitting hardest those who can least afford it?

I think it’s time for us to declare our independence from an oppressive government that seeks to control our money and our lives in ways unimaginable to those who rebelled against the British Crown in 1776. Our revolution is peaceful, and it concentrates on winning hearts and minds one at a time. But it marches on. We must reclaim the spirit of independence every day and every night and intensify the struggle against those who seek to impose tyranny upon us.

By Ron Paul / Republished with permission / RPI / Report a typo

How Al-Qaeda Became an American Ally in the ‘War on Terror’

Mon, 2017-07-03 12:30
Nearly 16 years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the United States is inexplicably finding itself in bed with al-Qaeda, its alleged sworn enemy. The group’s efforts to terrorize the population of Syria have been rewarded with U.S. arms, training and other military aid.

(MPN) — Despite ostensibly being the United States’ “Public Enemy No. 1” following the 9/11 attacks, the international terror group al-Qaeda has instead been a beneficiary of U.S. military aid in the post-9/11 world, particularly in Syria. With the Syrian conflict well into its sixth year, al-Qaeda’s active branch in that war, widely known as Jabhat al-Nusra or the al-Nusra Front, has continually received arms and military protection from the United States, an outcome that is clearly counterproductive to the U.S.’ global “War on Terror.”

Yet, while the arming and propping up of al-Qaeda in Syria may not serve the U.S.’ fundamental goal of eradicating terrorism, it certainly has helped the U.S. political establishment pursue a decades-old goal of regime change in regionally strategic Syria.

Gareth Porter, an award-winning independent investigative journalist, and historian told MintPress News that such tactics are part of the U.S. government’s long-standing “bureaucratic habit of mind that really privileges short-term advantages against state adversaries over the long term, fundamental interests of the American people.”

In this case, U.S. counter-terrorism efforts have been usurped by the government’s broader geopolitical interests in reshaping the Middle East. While Washington politicians and bureaucrats may be content with having helped extend Syria’s “civil war” to their benefit and the benefit of their allies, this reality has had the ugly consequence of the U.S. willfully sponsoring terrorists who torture civilians to death, regularly conduct mass executions, kidnap children and mutilate the bodies of their victims.

U.S. funneled Libyan arms, chemical weapons to “rebels”

The U.S.’ arming of al-Nusra began when the conflict in Syria was in its infancy. In September 2011, the Obama administration began providing logistical assistance to anti-Assad forces – namely the Free Syrian Army, Syrian Revolutionaries Front, the Democratic Forces of Syria and related groups – who were then supported by U.S. allies Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. These groups received an estimated $1 billion from the CIA every year from 2012 until the program was scaled back in 2015. In addition, the U.S. government gave another $500 million to the “rebels” in 2014 which was intended to train thousands of opposition fighters – an operation that turned out to be remarkably ineffective.

A year later, the CIA initiated weapon shipments to these foreign-funded “rebels” by funneling weapons that once belonged to the fallen Gaddafi regime in Libya to anti-government militias in Syria.

As Gareth Porter details in his recent piece “How America Armed Terrorists in Syria,” the CIA continued to connect U.S. regional allies directly arming the opposition with weapons from Libya and former Soviet bloc countries, resulting in an estimated 8,000 tons of weapons being poured into Syria in less than four months, from December 2012 to mid-March 2013. The quantity of weapons that flooded into Syria from 2011 until that time undoubtedly dwarfs this figure.

In addition, the U.S. secured more than just conventional arms being shipped to Syria. For instance, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh exposed how the Gaddafi regime’s chemical weapon stores were also sent to foreign-backed opposition forces in Syria, including sarin gas. Hersh has suggested that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton approved the chemical weapon transfers.

While the U.S. was not directly arming al-Nusra specifically at this time, the terror group’s effectiveness at combating the Syrian government, along with their ruthlessness, quickly made them the darlings of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, who were funding the “rebels” with their own money and with U.S. assistance.

By late 2012, the U.S. was well-aware that most of the arms it was sending into the country were going to Syria’s al-Qaeda offshoot. As the New York Times reported in October 2012, U.S. officials acknowledged off the record that “most” of the arms shipped to Syrian “rebels” with U.S. support had ended up in the hands of “hardline Islamic jihadists.”

However, internal government communications reveal that the government knew that such “jihadists” were al-Nusra. A now-declassified U.S. government internal report from 2012 stated that the “the Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood and AQI [al-Qaeda in Iraq] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.” However, no efforts were taken to halt the U.S.-supported flow of arms to such groups, which continued years after this surprisingly frank admission.

Other evidence from that same year has suggested that this “oversight” was intentional. For instance, a 2012 email written by Jacob Sullivan and sent to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that “AQ [al-Qaeda] is on our side in Syria,” implying a tacit alliance of sorts between the U.S. government and known terrorist elements that dominated the Syrian armed opposition.

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Despite the true nature of the foreign-funded opposition being well-known to U.S. officials, the arming of these so-called “rebel” groups only became more rampant in the years that followed, with the U.S. supplying them with heavy weaponry, such as anti-tank missiles and anti-aircraft weapons, while also providing themwith training.

The advantage of such substantial support from the U.S. and its regional allies has only led to the rapid growth and strengthening of al-Nusra, enabling them to out-compete and eventually absorb nearly all groups belonging to the U.S.-backed “moderate rebels” active within Syria.

As al-Nusra’s influence grew, many “moderate” groups who shared similar ideas began to work alongside the terror group and eventually became part of it or directly allied with it. Among the first to do so were U.S.-supported groups such as Ahrar al-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam, whose cooperation and close relationship with al-Nusra has been documented by the pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

But the U.S. had no complaints when Jaysh al-Islam led the Syrian opposition at peace talks in Geneva in 2016. In addition, the U.S. has consistently refused to add al-Nusra collaborators to the UN terrorist list, prompting some journalists to call such a refusal an “unwitting U.S. admission” regarding who really leads the “rebellion” in Syria.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the vast majority of Syrian opposition groups supported by the U.S. form “an integral part” of al-Nusra front. Even the mainstream press in the United States has admitted that most “rebel” groups have been overtaken by al-Nusra. For instance, in February, the Washington Postquoted an official with the U.S.-backed Fastaqim rebel group as saying “Al-Qaeda is eating us” and that al-Qaeda’s influence and power led his group chose to join the al-Nusra affiliated group Ahrar al-Sham.

As University of Oklahoma Center for Middle East Studies Director Joshua Landis told Sputnik last year: “The United States has placed itself in a very difficult situation because many of the rebel groups that it wants to become principal holders of state power in Syria work hand and glove with Al-Qaeda.”

Supporting al-Qaeda from the shadows

While the arming of Syrian “rebels” that are either members of or affiliated with al-Nusra should be controversial enough, the U.S. government has also managed to aid the terror group in other ways, offering them protection and covert tools to bolster their ranks.

The U.S. State Department and the U.S. military have long justified the presence of U.S. military personnel and assets within Syria as being directly aimed at fighting terrorists within that nation, namely Daesh (ISIS). However, on repeated occasions, the U.S. has worked to protect al-Nusra by asking the Russian military and Syrian government to avoid targeting the terror group.

Such requests have led Russia to call the U.S.’ commitment to fighting al-Nusra into question, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stating in October last year that the Russian government “doesn’t see any facts that the U.S. is seriously battling al-Nusra.”

However, the words of al-Nusra members themselves paint an even more disturbing picture of direct U.S. involvement in aiding the group. In an interview with German newspaper Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger, an al-Nusra unit commander named Abu Al Ezz stated that when al-Nusra was under siege from the Syrian and Russian governments that “we had officers from Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Israel and America here…Experts in the use of satellites, rockets, reconnaissance, and thermal security cameras.”

When asked to confirm the presence of U.S. instructors within its ranks, Al Ezz replied “the Americans are on our side,” echoing a 2012 email exchange between Hillary Clinton and her advisor Jacob Sullivan regarding al-Qaeda in Syria.

Perhaps this explains why the “Stop Arming Terrorists Act” introduced by Hawaiian Democratic Senator Tulsi Gabbard, which would bar federal agencies from using taxpayer-backed funds to provide weapons, training or any other type of support to terrorist cells such as al-Qaeda, Daesh or any other group associated with them,was only supported by 2 percent of U.S. congressmen.

U.S.’ history of flirting with terrorist groups for geopolitical gain

While the strategy of arming al-Qaeda affiliated terrorists and extremists in Syria may seem bizarre, it is actually part of a long-standing U.S. government practice that led to the terror group’s founding in the first place. Indeed, al-Qaeda is the textbook example of the U.S. creating and arming a terror group for political purposes.

Under the presidency of Ronald Reagan, the U.S. government sent billions of dollars in military aid to the mujahideen in Afghanistan as part of a U.S.-supported “jihad” against the Soviet Union. These extremist fighters, led by Osama bin Laden, would soon become known as al-Qaeda. Gareth Porter told MintPress that the creation of al-Qaeda under the Reagan administration “set the precedent for the U.S. to support jihadi forces where and when it is deemed to serve broader U.S. political and diplomatic aims.”

Years later, al-Qaeda’s relationship with the U.S. is best described as a love-hate affair. As Garikai Chengu wrote in Counterpunch in 2014: “Depending on whether a particular al-Qaeda terrorist group in a given region furthers American interests or not, the U.S. State Department either funds or aggressively targets that terrorist group. Even as American foreign policy makers claim to oppose Muslim extremism, they knowingly foment it as a weapon of foreign policy.”

However, al-Qaeda is just one example of the U.S.’ aiding and abetting of terror groups in order to realize broader geopolitical aims targeting “enemies” of the U.S. political establishment. Latin America, for instance, is rife with examples of how the U.S. trained and funded terror groups to destabilize or topple leftist governments, particularly in Nicaragua and El Salvador in the 1970s and 1980s.

Colombia is another example that bares an uncanny resemblance to the U.S.’ policy in the Syrian conflict. Colombia, the U.S.’ closest ally in South America, has received over $4 billion in U.S. military assistance since 2000. Much of that assistance has gone to elements of the military – including right-wing paramilitary groups – that the U.S. State Department had “vetted” and “determined had complied with human rights requirements.”

While that vetting was taking place, Colombia reported a surge in the Colombian military murdering civilians in cold blood, resulting in 329 civilians killed in 2007. The Los Angeles Times reported that 47 percent of those murders had been conducted by the very army units previously “vetted” by the State Department.

Iraq is another example where, for civilians, the line between “rebel” terrorist and “army” terrorist is becoming increasingly thin. There, the U.S. recently doubled down, promising to continue sending aid to elements of the Iraqi Security Forces that have documented carrying out human rights violations and war crimes. Many of the more notorious units within the Iraqi Security Forces were trained by former U.S. special forces operative James Steele, who first made a name for himself training U.S.-backed paramilitary forces that terrorized El Salvador in the 1980s.

The U.S.’ well-documented history of supporting and using terror groups to fulfill geopolitical goals is so convincing that even Lt. General William Odom, director of the National Security Agency under Ronald Reagan, has noted that “By any measure, the U.S. has long used terrorism. In ‘78-79 the Senate was trying to pass a law against international terrorism – in every version they produced, the lawyers said the U.S. would be in violation.”

Today, little has changed, especially given the true nature of U.S. involvement with the “moderate” opposition in Syria. Now, the Trump administration has taken to inventing chemical attacks to blame on the Syrian government before they even happen, again hoping to justify Western intervention in Syria. The timing couldn’t be better, as only Western intervention is guaranteed to save Syria’s struggling al-Qaeda “rebels” and create the next failed state in the Middle East.

By Whitney Webb / Republished with permission / MintPress News / Report a typo

Amish Man Sentenced To Six Years In Prison For Not Seeking FDA Approval

Mon, 2017-07-03 11:52

(ANTIMEDIA) Kentucky — “I am not a creation of state/government, as such I am not within its jurisdiction.”

Those words were written by Samuel Girod in a document filed in a Kentucky federal court in June. Girod is an Amish farmer who was convicted in March of selling herbal health products that, as reported by the Lexington Herald-Leader on Friday, “were not adequately labeled as required by federal law.”

According to the government, the Amish man broke the law by growing, processing, and bringing to market his own herbal supplements without FDA approval. US News reported that Girod manufactured salves and skin treatments, one of which the FDA claims could be harmful to the skin. He also claimed one extract could help cure cancer, which the FDA disputed. In 2013, Giron ignored orders from the FDA to stop selling his products.

Nevertheless, he rejected the notion that he deserved six years in prison for being at odds with the federal agency (which, itself, approves numerous dangerous drugs).

“I do not waive my immunity to this court,” Girod, who represented himself during the trial, told Judge Danny Reeves during his sentencing hearing early Friday morning. “I do not consent,” he added, emphasizing the fact he according to his faith, he doesn’t recognize the authority of the court — only that of his higher power.

Judge Reeves then sentenced Girod to six years in prison.

“They created a felon today out of a good, law-abiding citizen,” said Arizona sheriff and civil rights activist Richard Mack following the sentencing. Mack, along with a group of Girod supporters, had gathered outside the Kentucky courthouse Friday morning to await Judge Reeves’ ruling.

“This is a national disgrace and outrage. He is being punished for being stubborn,” Mack stated, adding that he and other activists will press President Donald Trump to issue Girod a pardon.

Samuel Girod’s “stubbornness” was also on Judge Reeves’ mind on Friday. Reeves said the Kentucky farmer brought all the trouble on himself “because he steadfastly refused to follow the law.”

Remarking on the severity of a sentence for selling simple plant-based remedies, Michael Fox, who served as a standby attorney for Girod, pointed out Friday that the punishment for this individual will be harsher than it would be for others:

“Keep in mind that Sam Girod is Amish. He does not live with electricity, phones, concrete, steel. Those are not normal; those are not natural in his life. An incarceration in a prison setting is going to be more punishment for him than a normal person.”

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This Is the Real Reason Why the US Wants War Between Iran and Saudi Arabia

Mon, 2017-07-03 11:14

(ANTIMEDIA)  Though on the campaign trail Donald Trump bragged about making America great again (MAGA™) and creating jobs for 25 million ordinary Americans, most people may be surprised to learn that his foreign policy, in particular, will provide jobs and wealth for the American markets. Unfortunately, those jobs will materialize in America’s fracking industry, which has been waiting for something to kickstart their potential to further exploit the planet.

By supporting Saudi Arabia and its allies in their confrontation with Iran— preparing the groundwork for an all-out confrontation between the regional powerhouses — Donald Trump may help foster a major disruption in Middle East oil supplies and drop the price of crude oil. This is, according to Forbes, a dream scenario for American frackers who will be able to pump oil quickly to supply America’s allies amid any potential Middle East oil crisis.

Iran has already signaled its intention to close the Strait of Hormuz should the U.S. or one of its client states, such as Saudi Arabia or Israel, decide to wage a war against the Islamic Republic. Iran even has plans to mine the waterway, and just last month Iran and China held joint naval drills in this vitally strategic body of water.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), 17 million barrels of oil pass through this strait per day, representing 30% of all maritime-traded petroleum. The closure or disruption of this strait alone will directly impact on the world’s oil markets.

As Forbes notes, there are signs that Saudi Arabia and Iran are edging closer to a direct confrontation (they have already been heavily engaged in proxy wars in the region against each other as it is). Saudi Arabia’s promotion of anti-Iranian war-hawk Prince Salman, the King’s son, to Crown Prince is but one of the indicators that Iran and Saudi Arabia may soon be fighting out their disputes militarily.

“The biggest gainers will be the US frackers,” says Athens-based shipping expert Theo Matsopoulos, as reported by Forbes. He continued:

“With an extremely wide break-even range from $32 to $55 per barrel, an increase in the oil price to levels higher than $50 will make the overwhelming majority of them smile. The US will soon be able to finance its trading deficit and solidify even more its position as a major oil exporter. The longer a potential crisis in the Middle East lasts, the more the market share of the US companies will increase — because apart from prices and commodities the political stability of the USA can act as a guarantee for a smooth supply of oil for many consumers.”

According to Forbes, this is why Washington may “do little if anything to stop a direct war between the two old adversaries.”

Forbes also suggested that if Russia were to buy into this scenario, their own oil producers would benefit. However, the U.S.’ aim in controlling the oil market and reaping all the rewards would surely not allow a place for Russia to join in this venture, so it seems likely that Russia would ultimately be an indirect target of this potential strategy, as well.

Because of the high stakes involved in such a conflict, a war between Saudi Arabia and Iran may not be on the horizon anytime soon. However, in the event that this inevitable clash does break out into something tangible, remember that Donald Trump has had American financial interests at heart the whole time — as he promised in his campaign.

That’s all that matters, right? Money, wealth, and natural resources.

And let’s not forget the billions of dollars the U.S. will make in arms sales, alone (maybe the U.S. will secretly arm Iran again just to maximize the chaos).

Let’s just put out of our head the millions upon millions of people who die in American-led wars across the Middle East. As long as someone can make a fast buck out of the chaos, Trump and his followers can sleep soundly at night.

Creative Commons / Anti-Media / Report a typo

Saudi Axis Extends Deadline As Qatar Rejects Ultimatums

Mon, 2017-07-03 08:10
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE and Egypt push back by 48 hours deadline on 13 demands made to Qatar.

(MEE) — The Saudi-led axis of powers has extended by 48 hours a deadline on 13 demands issued to Qatar, a statement said on Monday morning.

Without stating whether Qatar had rejected the ultimatum, as was widely expected, Kuwaiti state news agency KUNA said Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah had asked Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt to grant Qatar an extension.

Qatar’s foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, was meanwhile in Kuwait, where he is expected to deliver an official response to the demands.

“The list of demands is made to be rejected,” Sheikh Mohammed said on Saturday. “Everyone is aware that these demands are meant to infringe the sovereignty of the state of Qatar.”

The Saudi axis announced on June 5th the severing of ties with Qatar, accusing it of backing “terrorism” and being too close to Saudi Arabia’s arch-rival Iran.

Demands against Qatar include ending support for the Muslim Brotherhood, the closure of Al Jazeera television and other media groups, a downgrade of diplomatic ties with Iran and the shutdown of a Turkish military base in the emirate.

The four countries announced on June 5th they were severing ties with their Gulf neighbour, accusing it of backing “terrorism” and being too close to Saudi Arabia’s arch-rival Iran.

Riyadh and its supporters have already severed air, sea and ground links with Qatar, cutting off vital routes for imports including food.

Concerns about stability

The foreign ministers of the axis countries were meanwhile preparing to travel to Cairo for a meeting on Wednesday – one day beyond the extension of the deadline.

Donald Trump, the US president, meanwhile said he had spoken to the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Qatar in phone calls on Sunday.

The White House said Trump “reiterated the importance of stopping terrorist financing and discrediting extremist ideology. The president also underscored that unity in the region is critical to … defeating terrorism and promoting regional stability.”

The crisis has raised concerns of growing instability in the region, home to some of the world’s largest energy producers and several key Western allies hosting US military facilities.

The imposed restrictions have caused turmoil in Qatar, an oil- and gas-rich nation dependent on imports to meet the basic needs of its population of 2.7 million, the BBC said. As a result, Iran and Turkey have been increasingly supplying it with food and other goods.

Germany’s foreign minister, Sigmar Gabriel, who on Monday starts a tour of several Arab states, called for a “serious dialogue” to end the crisis.

“We are worried that the distrust and the disunity could weaken all the parties concerned as well as the entire peninsula,” said Gabriel, who will visit Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar.

It is unclear what further measures will be taken if Qatar fails to meet the demands, but the UAE ambassador to Russia, Omar Ghobash, warned last week that further sanctions could be imposed.

Separately, a German government spokesman said on Monday that Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz will not attend a July summit of the Group of 20 leading global economies in Hamburg, Germany, providing no reason for the decision.

Steffen Seibert said the Saudi government had notified Berlin that the 81-year-old monarch would not participate in the annual meeting of G20 leaders.

By MEE and agencies / Republished with permission / Middle East EyeReport a typo

US General: Troops Should Stay in Iraq Long After ISIS Defeat

Mon, 2017-07-03 07:27

(ANTIWAR.COM) — In an interview with the Fayetteville Observer, Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend talked about a planned troop rotation coming up in September, saying he hoped the fighting over the city of Mosul would be over by then, but that despite predictions of an end to the ISIS war, US troops should stay.

Townsend’s comments about the US having a long-term military presence in Iraq is in keeping with other Pentagon officials, who have tried to blame the rise of ISIS between the end of the 2011 occupation and the 2014 reinvasion on the lack of US ground troops, despite the US having a substantial presence, and having spend years arming and training Iraq’s military.

Townsend insisted that the US troops would have to stay long after the ISIS war specifically to train up the Iraqi military again, and to make sure that they can actually fight off future insurgencies. There’s no indication how long this would take.

Other officials, however, have envisioned a more or less permanent US military presence, suggesting that the only way Iraq can be kept intact without collapsing into another immediate war would be for the US to have a number of troops.

By Jason Ditz / Republished with permission / AntiWar.com / Report a typo

 

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