Sunday, June 5, 2016

News, Views and Opinions from the Alternative Media ...Week ending June 5

Stephen Lendman at his blog
Clinton and Sanders Camps in Talks for Party Unity

A previous article called Clinton the most recklessly dangerous president aspirant in US history. Humanity’s fate is up for grabs with her finger on the nuclear trigger.

She’s also damaged goods, vulnerable to indictment on federal racketeering charges, her Clinton Foundation a suspected criminal enterprise masquerading as a charitable NGO.

She’ll likely escape federal prosecution because of longstanding close ties to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and become Democrat party nominee in July.

Her delegate lead is too great to overcome. Next Tuesday’s California primary should put her way over the top.

Reports indicate camps representing her and Sanders in talks for party unity. Earlier she said “(o)nce the primaries are over…we will begin talking in more detail about what we can do to unify the party.”

“Because as I've said many times, and Senator Sanders has said, we both are going to do everything we can to prevent Donald Trump from getting anywhere near the White House.”

“I will certainly do everything I can to unify the Democratic Party. Our campaigns have been reaching out to one another. We will continue to do that.”

On the one hand, Sanders vowed to continue contesting to become Democrat party nominee. On the other, he hinted at what’s ahead if he fails, saying “(w)hat happens the day after (if) it appears that I am not going to become the nominee, that’s subject for further discussion.”

Several times earlier he promised to ...

James Corbett

Ming Chun Tang at GlobalResearch
“Hard Choices”: Hillary Clinton’s Memoir Deletions in Detail

....In contrast to Lula, Clinton heaps praise on Lula’s successor, Dilma Rousseff, who was recently suspended from office pending impeachment proceedings:

    Later I would enjoy working with Dilma Rousseff, Lula’s protégée, Chief of Staff, and eventual successor as President. On January 1, 2011, I attended her inauguration on a rainy but festive day in Brasilia. Tens of thousands of people lined the streets as the country’s first woman President drove by in a 1952 Rolls-Royce. She took the oath of office and accepted the traditional green and gold Presidential sash from her mentor, Lula, pledging to continue his work on eradicating poverty and inequality. She also acknowledged the history she was making. “Today, all Brazilian women should feel proud and happy.” Dilma is a formidable leader whom I admire and like.

The paperback version deletes almost all references to Rousseff, mentioning her only once as an alleged target of NSA spying according to Edward Snowden....

....Clinton continues to reveal that the U.S.’ common interests with its Gulf allies extended well beyond mere security issues and in fact included the objective of regime change in Libya — which led the Obama administration into a self-inflicted dilemma as it weighed the ramifications of condemning the violent repression of protests in Bahrain with the need to build an international coalition, involving a number of Gulf states, to help remove Libyan leader Muammar Gaddhafi from power:

    Our values and conscience demanded that the United States condemn the violence against civilians we were seeing in Bahrain, full stop. After all, that was the very principle at play in Libya. But if we persisted, the carefully constructed international coalition to stop Qaddafi could collapse at the eleventh hour, and we might fail to prevent a much larger abuse — a full-fledged massacre.

Instead of delving into the complexities of the U.S.’ alliances in the Middle East, the entire discussion is simply deleted, replaced by a pensive .....

Jason Leopold, Marcy Wheeler, and Ky Henderson at Vice
On the morning of May 29, 2014,
 an overcast Thursday in Washington, DC, the general counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), Robert Litt, wrote an email to high-level officials at the National Security Agency and the White House.

The topic: what to do about Edward Snowden.

Snowden's leaks had first come to light the previous June, when the Guardian's Glenn Greenwald and the Washington Post's Barton Gellman published stories based on highly classified documents provided to them by the former NSA contractor. Now Snowden, who had been demonized by the NSA and the Obama administration for the past year, was publicly claiming something that set off alarm bells at the agency: Before he leaked the documents, Snowden said, he had repeatedly attempted to raise his concerns inside the NSA about its surveillance of US citizens — and the agency had done nothing.

Some on the email thread, such as Rajesh De, the NSA's general counsel, advocated for the public release of a Snowden email from April 2013 in which the former NSA contractor asked questions ...

Hassan Hassan at theNational
Ahrar Al Sham’s leader clarifies its role in Syria

Over the past five years in Syria, Ahrar Al Sham has emerged as an important political and religious experiment. The group, one of the most powerful rebel forces, has struggled to reconcile the legacy of many of its founders as jihadi veterans with the need for an acceptable political discourse in the war-ravaged country.

The ideology of the group is further muddled by the fact that it works closely with Al Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat Al Nusra while it participates in political conferences and pacts that appear to deviate from the canons of jihadist organisations.

After the death of its leaders in an explosion at a high-level meeting in September 2014, it has also sought to present itself to the outside world as a moderate group and an indispensable fighting force on the ground.

Countries involved in the conflict in Syria are split about the organisation. Some, including Russia, are pushing for its designation as a terrorist organisation. As the group engages cautiously in the political process for a transition, it is also important to understand whether it has really broken away from Salafi-­jihadism, the movement to which its top echelon once subscribed.

....First, Mr Al Omar begins the insightful talk by laying outmain Islamist movements that emerged after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. He says all the four movements differ in their approach but agree on the objective, which is the restoration of the Islamic caliphate.....

....A second point that stands out from Mr Al Omar’s lecture is his group’s real stance on political participation. He explains that Ahrar Al Sham’s participation in political talks, conferences or pacts is designed as a form of “takhtheel" – disruption or subvers­ion.

This is a telling statement, considering that it is such “flexibility" that led many to rethink the group’s ideology and to conclude that it broke away from Salafi-­jihadism – the “crucible from which it emerged", in the words of one of its media activists.

Third, Mr Al Omar singles out the Taliban as a model worth following. This is the second time the group has officially praised the Taliban in this way. Last August, Ahrar Al Sham paid a tribute to the Taliban’s dead leader Mullah Omar, describing him as “the happy emir" and his group as “the blessed movement".

Throughout his talk, Mr Al Omar emphasises that his group’s objectives are part of a broader global Islamist project, and echoes common beliefs among Salafi-jihadists that Syrian society’s Islam has been distorted by decades of a Baathist education system. In his view, Syrian society is not Muslim enough. He also clarifies that political engagement and flexibility are a ploy, as part of the Ahrar Al Sham’s strategy of combining the approaches followed by the three movements he cited as influencers of his group.....

From MoonOfAlabama blog
"How Many Villages Do They Have To Massacre Before They Become Bad Guys?"

U.S. State Department Daily Press Briefing May 23 2016

    QUESTION: Well, sir, I know you said that you don’t know much about Ahrar al-Sham and what they did in al-Zahraa. I have the photograph that I mentioned. I was reluctant to show it because of how graphic it was, but now I think I will do so and maybe this will prompt you to look into this group. And I want to ask you why should this group have protection under the cessation of hostilities when they clearly don’t care about cessation of hostilities?

    MR TONER: Look, I’m just not aware of this incident. I’m not – I was not casting doubt or not trying to – I just am not aware of it.
U.S. State Department Daily Press Briefing May 24 2016

    QUESTION: Yesterday, I asked a few questions that you said you would look into. First about the reported brief visit of an Ahrar al-Sham representative to Washington, D.C. Did his visit raise any red flags? Second, what does the U.S. think about this group Ahrar al-Sham, and why should they have the protection under the cessation of hostilities when, by many accounts, they don’t care much about that cessation of hostilities?

    MR TONER: [...] Look, I mean, we talked a little bit about this yesterday, but Ahrar al-Sham is not a designated foreign terrorist organization. And as we talked about, it is part of this vetted group of opposition forces that are part of the HNC, High Negotiating Council. That was a process mostly led by Saudi Arabia [...] You talked about the attack, and I think we did condemn that. [..] We have serious concerns about that kind of violence.
    MR TONER: -- we believe that that kind of action at this point in time would have a damaging effect on the cessation, as well as on the whole political process. We agreed that this group would be a part of the HNC, with the expectation that they will not commit violations of the cessation and that they will not carry out brutal attacks. We’re aware of last week’s attacks. [...]

    QUESTION: Is this a yellow card?

    QUESTION: Did you know that --

    QUESTION: How many times – how many villages do they have to massacre before they become bad guys?....

Dr Ron Paul
Government Can’t Help; It Can Only Hurt

Three recent stories regarding three government agencies — the IRS, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) — show why we should oppose big government for practical, as well as philosophical, reasons.

In recent months, many Americans have missed their flights because of longer-than-usual TSA security lines. In typical DC fashion, the TSA claims the delays are because of budget cuts, even though Congress regularly increases the TSA’s funding!

The TSA is also blaming the delays on the fact that few Americans have signed up for its “PreCheck” program. Under PreCheck, the TSA considers excusing some Americans from some of the screening process. Those who wish to be considered must first submit personal information to the TSA and pay a fee. Only a bureaucrat would think Americans would be eager to give the TSA more information and money on the chance that they may be approved for PreCheck.

The TSA is much better at harassing airline passengers than at providing security. TSA agents regularly fail to catch weapons hidden by federal agents testing the screening process. Sadly, Congress will likely reward the TSA's failures with continued funding increases. Rewarding the TSA’s incompetence shouldn’t surprise us since the TSA owes its existence to the failure of government to protect airline passengers on 9/11.

If Congress truly wanted to protect airline passengers, it would shut down the TSA and let airlines determine how best to protect their passengers. Private businesses have a greater incentive than government bureaucrats to protect their customers and their property without stripping their customers of their dignity.....

From SputnikNews
American Tuition Rates So High Students Seek Out Sugar Daddies

The average tuition rate for a four-year college in the US is $38,600, and even more for a graduate degree. As a result, students often finish university hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. These grueling statistics have forced some students to seek out unique ways to pay their bills.

One such student, Candice Kashani, who was facing an annual $50,000 in tuition and expenses, decided to join a dating website that connects women in need of financial aid with men willing to help pay it, reported the Associated Press (AP).

“Now, almost three years and several sugar daddies later, Kashani is set to graduate from Villanova University free and clear, while some of her peers are burdened with six-digit debts,” reported the wire service.

“The people who have a stigma, or associate a negative connotation with it, don’t understand how it works,” she argued....

Brandon Turbeville at ActivistPost
Blackwater/Academi Mercenaries Procured By United Arab Emirates
 Are Now Fighting In Yemen

Receiving scant attention from Western mainstream media outlets except for a few notable exceptions, Americans and many alternative media outlets have remained ignorant to the fact that private mercenaries from Blackwater (aka Academi) appear to have been contracted by the GCC Gulf state feudal monarchies to assist in the military war of terror in Yemen against the Houthi rebels and the embattled Yemeni people....

...The United States has also been participating in the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen, providing logistical support, including airborne refueling, to the nations conducting the airstrikes. The Pentagon has sent a team to Saudi Arabia to provide targeting intelligence to the coalition militaries regularly used for the airstrikes....

Pull your head out of that sand and listen to Marianne Azizi exposing yet another side of Israel that can only be found in the "only democracy in the Middle East"
Prepare to be shocked.  The scandals of child kidnapping from parents and the corruption, scandal ridden and racist atmosphere in the despicable Netanyahu's government is growing far too big and the West knows but less than 0.01 of the deplorable situation.
50 Shades of Israel  

The Saker at his blog
We really live in a crazy world.
In preparation for the next NATO summit in Warsaw, already announced as ‘landmark summit‘, kids in Poland will be submitted to 4 hours of NATO propaganda a week for the next two months. Apparently, the Poles believe that their safety will be greatly enhanced if they succeed in creating the strongest possible tensions between NATO and Russia. Either that, or they think that the Russians will be absolutely terrified, that they will return the Crimea to the Ukronazi junta in Kiev, abandon the Donbass and unilaterally demilitarize.

There is nothing new here. Poland – the country which Winston Churchill called a “greedy hyena” – has a long history of trying to attack Russia when Russia is at her weakest, and the greatest Polish “heroes” are famous for attacking Russia in the times of internal trouble. Except that this time around Russia is not weak and the Russian people are solidly behind the Kremlin.

You could say that the Russian bear is utterly unimpressed by the Polish hyena, especially when it hides behind the American eagle to bark at Russia.

The polish view of history is nothing short of bizarre. For example, Polish politicians constantly blame the Soviet Union for the....

Peter Lavelle at TheDuran
5 Reasons Washington Has Already Decided to Go to War with Russia
As Moscow repeatedly out manoeuvres Washington and refuses to rise to Washington's bait, Washington doubles-down and readies for war.
The writing would seem to be on the wall – Washington and its stenographers union (better known as the west’s mainstream media) are all fired-up and strategically positioned. The War Party has ascendancy and the window of opportunity is wide open, though slowly closing. The long desired wish to tame Russia is now in its final stage. “American Exceptionalism” must subdue any real or imagined threat. Importantly, intentionally generated phantom threats are given the most attention and media space. Russia is in this category. The reasons are patently obvious:
Russia refuses to take the bait: From the proxy-backed South Ossetian conflict in 2008, to the forced regime change in Kiev in 2014, and to the defense of Syria’s sovereignty in its fight against western supported terrorists, Russia has stood its ground against western-inspired machinations. In all three cases, Washington’s attempt to lure Moscow into confrontation has failed. In fact, the west has been ....

Sarah Marusek, David Cronin and David Miller at Ceasefire
Analysis: Billionaire Republicans and Professional Islamophobes:
The Pro-Israel lobby in Brussels
A report released this week reveals the deep ties between pro-Israel organisations operating in Brussels and US-based right-wing donors, Republican supporters of Islamophobic causes and proponents of Israel’s settlement project. The report's authors argue we need much greater transparency in political lobbying at the EU.

...Before the 2005 BDS call, there were only a small number of pro-Israel groups focused on lobbying EU institutions. These included the European Coalition for Israel, a Christian Zionist group that is opposed to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, and the AJC Transatlantic Institute, the Brussels branch of the American Jewish Committee. The more influential of these two organisations is the latter. According to its financial records, the American Jewish Committee allocated almost $5 million to its Brussels offshoot between 2005 and 2013. The largest known donor of the AJC, by far, is the Klarman Family Foundation, run by American billionaire Seth Klarman. Forbes currently estimates the businessman-turned-philanthropist’s worth to be about $1.35 billion. For its part, Forward describes Klarman as a ‘wealthy American Jewish investor…following in the footsteps of Sheldon Adelson and Ron Lauder [president of the World Jewish Congress and an ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] in acting on his belief that coverage of Israel within Israel itself is unbalanced and unjustifiably hostile — and that he can do something about it.’ Forward also reports that Klarman is a Republican donor; indeed, he is ranked as the 30th top Republican spender in this year’s presidential election....

From Telesur
Venezuela's opposition says
the country is facing a humanitarian crisis due to lack of food. This view has been echoed in the international media; the picture painted is one of economic collapse, with shortages leading to widespread hunger and grave risks to the population's health. Its majority in parliament called on international bodies like the Food and Agriculture Organization and UNICEF to intervene.

So is it true? teleSUR's correspondent in Caracas, Iain Bruce, tries to get to the bottom of the question....

RT documentary: In the Name of the Profit

Gilbert Ramsay at OpenDemocracy
Has a generation of activists given in to surveillance? 

...Every year, the thing that always surprises me most – though it shouldn’t any more – is the students’ attitude to privacy. During the course, I outline to them some of the more alarming ways in which governments – especially the British and American governments have been found to gather data on their own citizens. Sometimes I do it, if I’m honest, as much to jolt them into conversation as to inform. But for this purpose it rarely works.

When I tell them about, say, GCHQ’s ‘Optic Nerve’ programme, which involved turning millions of hijacked webcams into spy cameras which collected mountains of sometimes highly intimate data, they take it with equanimity. They aren’t shocked or angry. It doesn’t seem to particularly disturb them to think of some faceless, distant agency having access to this kind of information.

Some of this, it seems to me, is a kind of apathetic trust in authority. Some of it is fatalism. The semi-sacred notion of privacy which libertarian campaigners rarely seem to unpick just isn’t something they are familiar with. This year, one student told me that she thinks of herself as manager of her own personal brand; that there are even now parties and social events that she avoids attending for fear of the digital trail they would leave. This is the world my students seem to be comfortable living in. But what other world could there be?.....

From RT
Gulf money 'turned Kosovo into ISIS hotbed' while EU & US turned a blind eye
 Kosovo, a predominantly Muslim land severed from Serbia by US and NATO military intervention, was turned into a hotbed of radical Islamism and a fertile recruiting ground for terrorists thanks to money pumped into it by Gulf kingdoms, the New York Times reported.

Among all European nations Kosovo holds the grim record of having the biggest per capita rate of people joining the terrorist group Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Syria. In a land of 1.8 million, 314 Kosovars were identified by the police over the past two years as IS recruits.
Local authorities and moderate imams blame the problem on a network of extremist clerics backed by money coming from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and other Arab nations. Funded through a shady network of private donations, mercurial charities and Islamic scholarship programs, they spread the brand of Islam called Wahhabism, a hardline sect to which Saudi Arabia adheres.

“The first thing the Wahhabis do is to take members of our congregation, who understand Islam in the traditional Kosovo way that we had for generations, and try to draw them away from this understanding,” Idriz Bilalli, an imam of the central mosque in Podujevo, told NYT. “Once they get them away from the traditional congregation, then they start bombarding them with radical thoughts and ideas.”

“The main goal of their activity is to create conflict between people,” he added. “This first creates division, and then hatred, and then it can come to what happened in Arab countries, where war starts because of these conflicting ideas.”

Wahhabism tenets include the supremacy of Sharia law, the idea of violent jihad and takfirism, which .....
M.K. Bhadrakumar at ATimes
SCO heralds winds of change in South Asian security
 Membership in Shanghai Cooperation Organization will provide India and Pakistan a rare opportunity of co-habitation to kick-start a normalization process that eluded them for six decades. As a vista of unprecedented scale of interaction in security cooperation opens up, the two neighbors are likely to improve their ties

The foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) who met at Tashkent Tuesday recommended to the summit meeting of the grouping slated to be held on June 23 in the Uzbek capital the signing of a memorandum of understanding granting membership to India and Pakistan.

For all purposes, the process of inducting the two South Asian countries as SCO members has touched the finish line.

It was in September 2014 that India formally applied for full membership. The SCO had granted ‘observer’ status to India and Pakistan ten years ago in 2005.

To be sure, Asian security and regional power dynamics is poised for a historic makeover. India and Pakistan are nuclear powers. They bring in a staggering 1500 million population under SCO’s canopy.....

....The SCO will take up Iran’s membership question as soon as the formalities of India and Pakistan’s induction are completed. Conceivably, by the end of the decade, Iran will also have joined the SCO as full member.....

Marine Le Pen interview

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