Sunday, January 1, 2017

News, views and opinions from the Alternative Media ... week ending Sunday, Jan 1


Jason Ditz at Antiwar
Putin Won’t Expel US Diplomats,
Invites Them to a Big Party Instead
Thursday’s announcement that the US is expelling 35 Russian diplomats and also ordering them out of a pair of long-owned diplomatic compounds fueled calls from top Russian MPs for retaliation, and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reportedly proposed that they expel an identical number of US diplomats. Russian President Vladimir Putin said no.
Putin later released a statement saying Russia is not expelling anyone, and “would not descend to the level of irresponsible diplomacy” of the Obama Administration. He added that he was going to wait for steps to improve Russian-American relations with President-elect Donald Trump.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry called the Obama Administration ‘a group of embittered and dim-witted foreign policy losers,” presenting the expulsion from the diplomatic compounds, popular vacation sites for diplomats’ families, as an “anti-family” move.

Putin followed up his announcement that the US diplomats aren’t being expelled by announcing that he is inviting all the US diplomats, and their families, to the Kremlin for a big New Years party, and inviting diplomats’ children to a Christmas party (Russian Orthodox Christmas is on January 7).....

Andre Vitchek at Off-Guardian
President Duterte of the Philippines for Dummies

When Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ascended to power in 1999, almost no one in the West, in Asia and even in most of the Latin American countries knew much about his new militant revolutionary anti-imperialism. From the mass media outlets like CNN and the BBC, to local televisions and newspapers (influenced or directly sponsored by Western sources), the ‘information’ that was flowing was clearly biased, extremely critical, and even derogatory....
....Now President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines is demonized and ‘mistrusted’, ridiculed and dismissed as a demagogue, condemned as a rough element, mocked as a buffoon.

In his own country he is enjoying the highest popularity rating of any president in its history: at least well over 70 percent, but often even over 80 percent.

“Show me one woman or man who hates Duterte in this city”, smiles a city hall employee of Davao (located on the restive Mindanao Island) where Duterte served as a Mayor for 22 years. “I will buy that person an exquisite dinner, from my own pocket … that is how confident I am”.

“People of the Philippines are totally free now to express their opinions, to criticize the government”, explains Eduardo Tadem, a leading academic, Professorial Lecturer of Asian Studies (UP). “He says: ‘they want to protest? Good!’ People can rally or riot without any permit from the authorities.”

Like in the days of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, in the Philippines, the press, which is mainly owned by right-wing business interests and by pro-Western collaborators, is now reaching a crescendo, barking and insulting the President, inventing stories and spreading unconfirmed rumors, something unimaginable even in a place like the U.K. with its draconian ‘defamation’ laws.....

Rick Sterling at ConsortiumNews
The War Against Alternative Information

The U.S. government is creating a new $160 million bureaucracy to shut down information that doesn’t conform to U.S. propaganda narratives, building on the strategy that sold the bloody Syrian “regime change” war, writes Rick Sterling.
The U.S. establishment is not content simply to have domination over the media narratives on critical foreign policy issues, such as Syria, Ukraine and Russia. It wants total domination. Thus we now have the “Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act” that President Obama signed into law on Dec. 23 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2017, setting aside $160 million to combat any “propaganda” that challenges Official Washington’s version of reality.

The new law mandates the U.S. Secretary of State to collaborate with the Secretary of Defense, Director of National Intelligence and other federal agencies to create a Global Engagement Center “to lead, synchronize, and coordinate efforts of the Federal Government to recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United States national security interests.” The law directs the Center to be formed in 180 days and to share expertise among agencies and to “coordinate with allied nations.”

The legislation was initiated in March 2016, as the demonization of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia was already underway and was enacted amid the allegations of “Russian hacking” around the U.S. presidential election and the mainstream media’s furor over supposedly “fake news.” Defeated Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton voiced strong support for the bill: “It’s imperative that leaders in both the private sector and the public sector step up to protect our democracy, and innocent lives.”......

Darius Shahtahmasebi at AntiMedia
Has Obama Abandoned Israel? What You’re Not Being Told

In 2011, linguist and foreign policy critic Noam Chomsky was asked whether he thought Obama was as bad as George W. Bush, to which Chomsky responded: “he’s worse.” Asked why, Chomsky cited Obama’s use of the U.N. veto at the Security Council level, which killed a resolution condemning settlement expansions that Israel was building in 2011.

After that, Obama was famously known for placing very few limits on Israel (with the exception of blocking an arms transfer during Operation Protective Edge, for example). There was also the supposed fallout between Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Obama over the Iranian nuclear agreement last year, but that agreement had nothing to do with curbing Israel’s power in the region. Anyone paying attention to the Iranian nuclear issue knows the agreement was largely symbolic and meaningless as sanctions targeting Iran have continued quite dramatically.

Just recently, the Obama administration approved the largest military package to Israel to date. Per this agreement, the U.S. will provide Israel with $38 billion worth of military aid if Israel, in turn, promises to use that money to purchase equipment from American suppliers. If there was ever any need to prove that Washington is in bed with the military-industrial machine, this deal alone kills any debate on the issue.

Israel is the largest recipient of foreign aid in the world, with the exception of Afghanistan and Iraq, which receive military funding due to the U.S. military’s long history in the countries. This aid increased under Obama. According to Colin Powell’s leaked emails, Israel also has a stockpile of at least 200 nuclear weapons, and the U.S. is well aware of this fact.

Further, since Obama took office, the population in Israel’s settlements rose dramatically from 100,000 to 600,000......

From ZeroHedge
'Policing For Profit' Goes To The Next Level

It’s bad enough getting arrested – especially when you didn’t do anything to warrant it. This happens all the time, because the the threshold for arresting someone is very low. It can be done by any cop, pretty much anytime – without much in the way of legal justification. He has the gun – and the handcuffs, after all. If he wants to arrest you, he will arrest you. Maybe the courts will sort it out later; eventually you are released, your record “cleared.”

This isn’t new – or news.

What is new – and ought to be news – is that several states have begun charging people “processing” and “incarceration” fees for their bogus arrest and subsequent just-as-bogus caging.

Minnesota and Kentucky are among the states that levy fees on people who are merely arrested and taken to the clink… even if they are never convicted of anything. In some cases, the people being charged for “services” rendered are never formally charged with any crime (which is something a prosecutor must do; a cop hasn’t got the power to do more than arrest you on suspicion of violating a statute).
t’s policing for profit taken to the next (entirely predictable) level.

Why not, after all?

Most states already have “just take it” laws on the books that empower cops to simply seize cash and other property prior to any judicial proceeding  – and to keep it, even if there never is a judicial proceeding.

The mere fact that you have “excessive” cash on your person is sufficient legal justification in many states to result in its forfeiture – until you prove to their satisfaction it wasn’t “drug” money....





Eric Draitser
It’s rather easy, and undoubtedly necessary,
 to lambast President-elect Donald Trump and his team of corporate parasites who will soon head nearly every key agency in the U.S. government.

Of note are the pro-fracking, anti-environmental protections positions of everyone from the nominee for secretary of state, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, to the incoming head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt. Such appointments signal a reckless abandonment of even the pretense of safeguarding vital resources such as air, water, and soil, among many others, at a time when many in the scientific community are ringing the alarm about our quickly unraveling biosphere.

However, while we rightly protest against this direct threat to our existence as a species, many have chosen to employ the age-old tactic of every ideologue from time immemorial: selective memory.

Indeed, it wasn’t Trump, but President Barack Obama, who held the reins of the federal government and did nothing while drinking water contamination poisoned the people of Flint, Michigan. It was Obama who expanded offshore oil drilling while paying lip service to environmental responsibility in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon spill — a 2010 disaster which continues to wreak havoc on the Gulf of Mexico’s ecosystem. It was Obama who signed off on new oil pipelines, approving the construction of the equivalent of 10 Keystone pipelines between 2010 and 2015 alone. Oil and gas shipments by rail continued under his watch.

These are just some examples of the countless other irresponsible policies. Forgive me if I don’t offer the liberals a post-consumer recycled handkerchief for their eco-friendly crocodile tears.
Obama: Owner of the water crises

Although issues such as climate change are simply too all-encompassing, too staggering in their scope and scale, to simply be chalked up to bad policy and bad leadership, specific public health crises are not. And President Obama has indeed stood idle while communities, and in some cases even entire cities, fall victim to water contamination.

The most well-documented example of this sort of gross negligence is the ongoing health emergency in Flint, Michigan. Once a thriving working-class industrial city, Flint has seen poverty rates soar while its city infrastructure deteriorates thanks in no small part to racism and endemic corruption by city and state officials. And it is, of course, the children of the poor who are most directly impacted by the lead contamination. In late 2015, researchers found that the levels of lead in the blood of Flint’s children were so high that a state of emergency was declared....

Mike Shedlock at Mishtalk
Like Iraq WMD Fiasco,
Russia Story Doesn’t Add Up
Yesterday, President Obama expelled 35 Russian “Operatives” from the Russian Embassy.

Is there any evidence those expelled are “intelligence operatives”? Any hard evidence Russia was behind the Hillary hacks? Any credible evidence that Putin himself is to blame?

The answers are No, No, and No. Yet, once again the American press is again asked to co-sign a dubious intelligence assessment....

....John McAfee, founder of the security firm McAfee Associates, says ‘I Can Guarantee You, It Was Not the Russians’.....

From GlobalResearch
Huge stockpiles of weaponry and ammunition,
many with NATO markings, were discovered in East Aleppo when the Al-Nusra militants, a local branch of Al Qaida, were pushed out of the city by Syrian forces.

The previous reports that NATO personnel were captured are now retracted, as they were allowed to leave with the militants on the buses provided according to the agreement, to spare NATO the embarrassment. FWM interviews the Syrian MP Fares Shehabi, an Aleppo resident himself. He calls the discoveries “SyriaGate”.

Mr. Shehabi, European mainstream media and leading politicians are upset about the liberation of Aleppo by the Syrian Arab Army. They write reports about massacres committed by the army and horrified civilians in Aleppo…

It is the total opposite. The news in Europe is a real problem because they report exactly the opposite of the real facts in Syria. We were able to liberate around 100.000 civilians who were held hostage by terrorists in Aleppo. A lot of them were taken hostage for more than four years. These liberated civilians are happy now. The 1.5 million civilians who left Aleppo since 2012 are now able to come home again. This is a very positive and happy moment for Aleppo and Syria in general. We were able to celebrate Christmas in Aleppo for the first time since 4.5 years – we celebrate Christmas every day now in our city!

So the terrorists left the city completely?

 – Yes, but before they left they executed more than hundred Syrian soldiers and hundreds of civilians. We found their bodies. This is all documented. Any international independent investigation can see and check the evidence of these terrorist crimes. But we are happy that our city is now liberated. Some rural areas around Aleppo are still under terrorist occupation. The next step will be to liberate the countryside so the city is well maintained and well protected.....



Derrick Broze at AntiMedia
Unhappy Holidays: Houston Police Force Homeless People to Throw Away Food

On Thursday, the Houston Police Department targeted a group of homeless advocates who were attempting to hand out hot food and gifts to the homeless.

(ANTIMEDIA) Houston, TX — Local activists attempting to hand out food and gifts were shocked on Thursday afternoon when Houston police forced the homeless to throw away the donations.  Around 1 pm on Thursday,  several individuals met in downtown Houston to distribute plates of hot food, blankets, and other supplies to the city’s growing homeless population. Soon after, Houston police arrived on the scene of two different intersections where the homeless advocates were giving out gifts and food.

According to witness testimony posted on Facebook, the police instructed the homeless to throw away everything they had been given. “Not only were the police called, but they brought a large waste management truck and are forcing the homeless to throw away their food, pillows and other items,” reads one post....

From RT
Chronicle of violence:
Turkey’s year of devastating terrorist attacks (VIDEOS)
The New Year’s shooting spree that left at least 39 people dead at a crowded Istanbul night club is just the latest in a wave of sporadic terrorist attacks, particularly suicide blasts, which have rocked Turkey throughout the past 12 months.
As many as 39 people, including 15 or 16 foreigners, were killed and dozens of others were injured when at least one gunman opened fire in one of Istanbul’s most popular night clubs, Reina, just one hour into the new year. “A terrorist with a long-range weapon... brutally and savagely carried out this incident by firing bullets at innocent people who were there solely to celebrate the New Year and have fun,” Istanbul’s governor, Vasip ┼×ahin, told the media at the scene of the attack....

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