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Here’s why everything you’ve read about the wars in Syria and Iraq could be wrong

Patrick Cockburn
Independent
2016-12-02 00:00:00

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The Iraqi army, backed by US-led airstrikes, is trying to capture east Mosul at the same time as the Syrian army and its Shia paramilitary allies are fighting their way into east Aleppo. An estimated 300 civilians have been killed in Aleppo by government artillery and bombing in the last fortnight, and in Mosul there are reportedly some 600 civilian dead over a month.

Despite these similarities, the reporting by the international media of these two sieges is radically different.

In Mosul, civilian loss of life is blamed on Isis, with its indiscriminate use of mortars and suicide bombers, while the Iraqi army and their air support are largely given a free pass. Isis is accused of preventing civilians from leaving the city so they can be used as human shields.

Contrast this with Western media descriptions of the inhuman savagery of President Assad’s forces indiscriminately slaughtering civilians regardless of whether they stay or try to flee. The UN chief of humanitarian affairs, Stephen O’Brien, suggested this week that the rebels in east Aleppo were stopping civilians departing – but unlike Mosul, the issue gets little coverage.
Comment: It is hard enough to witness an event and be able to process correctly what one sees. It is even harder to separate out pre-conceived notions about what took place. It is even more difficult to understand and eliminate personal prejudice at an emotional level in order to suss out a particular kernel of truth. Compound these few aspects with information from a secondary source with bias, agenda and intent. The end result may truly be several generations away from reality.

What are the choices left to reporters and journalists trying to do their job? It is up to the journalists and then the news recipients to become so knowledgeable about the situation that they can filter out persuasions and suss out reality, add up the score and see what is and what doesn’t fit. Trustworthy news sources are all we have to tell it like it is, no matter what it is.
Comment

Puppet Masters

Russian FM Lavrov furious at US for sudden refusal to withdraw jihadis from Aleppo

Alexander Mercouris
The Duran
2016-12-06 13:00:00

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Days after proposing withdrawal of all Jihadis in Aleppo, to Russian fury the US backtracks and withdraws its proposal, setting the stage for a fight in Aleppo to the finish. To the utter bemusement of the Russians, just four days after appearing to agree to withdraw all the Jihadis from Aleppo, the US has backtracked on its agreement.

Foreign Minister Lavrov’s comments could not be more scathing:

« They have withdrawn their document and have a new one. Our initial impression is that this new document backtracks, and is an attempt to buy time for the militants, allow them to catch their breath and resupply. The same thing happened with our agreement of September 9 (NB: Lavrov is here referring to the Kerry-Lavrov agreement – AM). The thing that the Americans offered on paper and what we backed is now somehow not OK for them. It’s difficult to understand who makes decisions there, but apparently there are plenty of those who want to undermine the authority and practical steps by John Kerry. »

In other words the divisions within the Obama administration – even now in the last weeks of its life – are unresolved. It still cannot decide between the realists led by US Secretary of State Kerry, who want to save the Jihadis in eastern Aleppo by withdrawing them from the city, and the hardliners of whom probably the most important is US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter.
Comment: Is it the jihadists who refuse to leave or has the US decided to ‘continue the fight’ and sacrifice its proxy for ‘strategic’ reasons? A sucker-punch to Russia? There will be no turning back, no do-overs, no sudden change of strategy, no reversal of fortune.

See also:

Putin ultimatum to Aleppo jihadis: ‘Leave or die as terrorists’
Foreign Minister Lavrov: US withdraws Aleppo proposals, says no consultations yet

Comment

Rescue deal for Italy’s Monte dei Paschi bank teetering on waning promises

RT
2016-12-06 11:58:00

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Following Prime Minister Renzi’s defeat in the Italian referendum troubled bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena has been told to prepare for a state bailout. Despite the relatively calm market reaction, principal investor Qatar is reportedly reconsidering its participation in the five billion euro recapitalization of the world’s oldest bank.

Financial experts are worried a failure to buoy Italy’s third-largest lender may dent investor confidence in the country’s banking sector that is drowning in €360 billion of bad debt.

Italian Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan and JPMorgan Chase and Mediobanca, advisers to Monte dei Paschi, have been working to persuade the Qatar Investment Authority to recapitalize the bank. But the deal is unlikely to be secured by this week’s deadline. Qatar’s billion euro investment is seen as crucial for Monte dei Paschi’s five billion euro capital-raising plan. The current political upheaval made it difficult for financiers to step in.

There’s still growing uncertainty over who will replace Matteo Renzi as prime minister and whether the new government will be interested in saving the bank. Renzi has agreed to delay his resignation until the state budget for 2017 is approved, mitigating the risks of early snap elections. « Everyone is in standby waiting for a new government, » said a person directly involved in the plan, as quoted by the FT.

The source added that should a private sector solution prove impossible, Monte dei Paschi and its supervisors from the European Central Bank (ECB) will favor a « precautionary recapitalization » with an injection of state funds and the conversion of subordinated debt into equity.
Comment: Investors were afraid the referendum would signal Italy’s abandoning the euro. As Italians rejected Renzi’s policy, the euro reached a new low, upping cautious speculation to panic mode. Is this the beginning of a banking chain reaction in the EU? Will it cross the pond?

See also:

Euro plunges to 20-mth low as Italians reject PM Renzi’s policy
Italy’s prime minister announces resignation
Italy’s PM Renzi cedes defeat and plans to resign after decisive ‘No’ vote in constitutional referendum

Comment

Theresa May’s plan for UK-Gulf relations: Trade first, human rights later

RT
2016-12-05 17:17:00

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British Prime Minister Theresa May has set out her vision for UK trade cooperation with the Gulf regimes ahead of her historic trip to a major regional summit. She insists that, given time, human rights will come to the region.

May rejected concerns over the litany of well-documented human rights abuses reportedly perpetrated by the theocratic, authoritarian states in favor of deepening economic ties. « No doubt there will be some people in the UK who say we shouldn’t seek stronger trade and security ties with these countries because of their record on human rights, » she told the BBC on Monday. She argued that better human rights records could only be achieved « by stepping up, engaging with these countries and working with them to encourage and support their plans for reform. « That is how Britain can be a force for good in the world as well as helping to keep our people safe and create new opportunities for business. »

May will be the first woman to attend the Gulf Cooperation Council of regional monarchies. She says she will push hard to open up new trading relationships with states like Bahrain, where she is set to discuss political reforms in the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring.

Comment: Bahrain is notoriously one of the worst human rights abusers on the planet.

The prime minister insisted the Gulf kingdom’s business [Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, UAE and Qatar] would help improve British prosperity and even help the country in projects of social uplift. « That’s why it is such an honor to be invited to attend the Gulf Cooperation Council where I will have the opportunity to talk to all six leaders about how we can develop our trade relationship, as well as cooperation on security and defense, » she said in a statement.
Comment: May would be blooming delusional to think rewarding these particular countries with trade and economic advantages will some day permit the infusion of British ‘projects of social uplift.’ Her only mission is to garner political and public support in order to back pocket an EU financial and defense alternative — no matter the false promises, no matter the despicable deals, no matter the human price.
Comment

Rouhani: Iran will not let the US shred nuclear deal

RT
2016-12-06 11:33:00

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Iran won’t let the US tear up the agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said. The comment comes less than a week after the US Senate voted to renew sanctions against Iran.

President-elect Donald Trump « wants to do many things, but none of his actions would affect us … Do you think the United States can rip up the JCPOA [the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal]? Do you think we and our nation will let him do that? » Rouhani said in a speech at the University of Tehran, translated by Reuters.

Iran has been fearing the renewal of international sanctions as well as possible restrictions imposed by the US towards its nuclear program since November. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has warned Washington there will be consequences if it renews sanctions over his country’s nuclear scheme for another decade.

« The current government of the United States has breached the JCPOA on multiple occasions; the most recent being a 10-year extension of existing sanctions, » he said in a speech reprinted on his official website. In December, the US Senate voted unanimously to renew the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) for another decade. It has been described as a symbolic move, but it allows the president to impose new restrictions on Tehran if it violates the 2015 nuclear accord.
Comment: Between administrations, ‘lame ducks’ do lame things. Unfortunately, others pay for their decisions and the US has been ‘lame’ for a long time.
Comment

Western elitist tool Angela Merkel aims to rid internet of alternative media

Sean Adl-Tabatabai
Your News Wire.com
2016-11-25 00:00:00

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel has declared war on alternative media outlets that she says are responsible for subverting the government’s control over the public.

Merkel joined the chorus of other world leaders and huge multi-national media outlets who wish to rid the internet of alternative media websites, under the guise of « fighting fake news ».

Speaking in parliament, Merkel claimed that public opinion was being swayed away from establishment politics, claiming that independent news outlets posed a danger to national security.

Comment: The ever-ready excuse for any stupid, elite-supporting Western policy – national security!

Yahoo News reports:

« Something has changed — as globalization has marched on, (political) debate is taking place in a completely new media environment. Opinions aren’t formed the way they were 25 years ago, » she said.
Comment

Domino Effect: Italy referendum was another rejection of the status quo

James Corbett
The Corbett Report
2016-12-06 21:13:00

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The scene is becoming familiar, even if the actors change from stage to stage: A political establishment is overturned by a wave of populist anger. Markets panic and a sell-off looks imminent. And then…things stabilize. The government changes, but things carry on.

The latest version of this performance is taking place in Italy where Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has just been unseated after Italians overwhelmingly voted « No » on a constitutional referendum upon which Renzi had staked his political career. The proposed law would have made a series of changes to the composition of Italy’s government, but it was not the technicalities of the proposed changes themselves that motivated over 65% of registered Italian voters to the public, and it was not some great interest in the composition and role of the Italian senate that led 59% of those voters to reject the new rules. Instead, this was seen as a referendum on Renziand the political status quo in Italy itself.
Comment: It makes one wonder what else they will resort to in order to hold on to power after the ‘Russian propaganda’ meme inevitably fails. Sadly their history shows that false flag terrorism and outright war are the tried and tested means.
Comment

Precious metal’s slide: Russia and China jump at golden opportunity

Sputnik
2016-12-06 20:55:00

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While experts predict that gold prices will continue to slide in 2017, Russia and China are increasing their holdings of the precious metal at a growing pace. What lies behind this gold-buying spree?

Gold is facing a back-to-back slump: the yellow metal’s prices fell for the second time on Tuesday. « Gold prices have now erased 10 months of gains after posting their biggest monthly drop in more than three years, with Donald Trump’s election to the US presidency only exacerbating a cocktail of negatives for the metal, » Reuters reported Monday.

MarketWatch.com echoed the media outlet highlighting that « the likelihood of a Federal Reserve interest-rate hike next week » and a stronger dollar in 2017 may cut demand for the precious metal.
Comment: More on the topic of gold:

Sudden scramble for gold: China sends premiums to 3 year high, US gold coin sales soar
Trump confers with ex-bank CEO who advises abolishing Fed, return gold standard

Comment

Why Iranians should be thankful for Trump

Andrew Korybko
Katehon
2016-12-05 19:58:00

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It probably sounds illogical the first time that someone hears it, but Iran should truly be thankful for Trump, and precisely for the fact that he’s slated to be so anti-Iranian. The logic is simple enough – the US never intended to fully normalize relations with the Islamic Republic and has always remained committed to destabilizing the country, it’s just that Obama sought to go about it in a fundamentally new way by tricking the Iranian masses with the nuclear deal (just as he did the Arab masses with his disingenuous 2009 Cairo speech) in anticipation of an accelerated asymmetrical war against their leadership.

Trump, however, is a « straight shooter » that doesn’t deign to such deceptions and says things just as directly as Reagan and Bush did, (international) « political/diplomatic correctness » be damned. Iranians should be thankful that Trump is revealing what America’s intentions have been all along because this signals to their leadership that they must continue taking preemptive action in mitigating these imminently more intense threats and shouldn’t ever let their guard down again like some of the elite did over the past couple of years.

The Western-friendly « moderates » represented by Rouhani were lured by the promises of an economic-strategic partnership with the US, particularly one which Washington hinted could be used to « balance » an « out of control » Saudi Arabia, while the « conservatives » led by the Ayatollah and the nation’s influential security forces knew better than to fall for such a ruse and have consistently remained cautious – if not outright opposed – to the US-Iranian rapprochement.
Comment

Do or die: Syrian opposition militants prepare to break through Aleppo siege

Sputnik
2016-12-06 20:47:00

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Militants in eastern Aleppo will attempt to break through the siege in near future, a senior Syrian opposition figure said Tuesday.

Aleppo militants refuse to surrender to Syrian government forces, Samir Nashar, member of National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces told RIA Novosti. « Militants apparently have supplies, and they are counting on them. They are likely to make new attempts to break through the siege soon, » Nashar said.
Comment: Sounds like a last gasp effort for the militants since they refuse to surrender.
Comment

Trump blasts Boeing’s Air Force One contract: ‘Cancel order!’

Andrea Shalal and Amy Tennery
Reuters
2016-12-06 20:21:00

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U.S. President-elect Donald Trump urged the government on Tuesday to cancel an order with Boeing Co for a revamped Air Force One – one of the most prominent symbols of the U.S. presidency – saying costs were out of control.

It was the latest example of Trump using his podium, often via brief Twitter messages, to rattle companies and foreign countries as he seeks to shake up business as usual in Washington. Trump, who takes office on Jan. 20, took aim at what he called cost overruns even though the plane is only in development stages.

« Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order! » Trump said on Twitter. It was not immediately clear what prompted the timing of his complaint.
Comment: This is another hit on Boeing after the Iran deal was blocked: Job creation not important? US House Republicans halt commercial airline deals with Iran approved by Obama administration
Comment

Putin calls Maduro to discuss strategic bilateral cooperation, global oil market situation

Sputnik
2016-12-06 20:39:00

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro discussed in phone talks the situation on the global oil market as well.

The presidents talked by phone on Tuesday, discussing implementation of joint projects in trade, energy and other economy sectors and deal on slashing down oil output.

« The sides discussed current issues of Russia-Venezuela strategic cooperation, including the implementation of joint projects in trade, energy and other economy sectors, » the Kremlin press service said in a statement.as issues of bilateral strategic cooperation, the Kremlin said.

« The leaders also exchanged opinions on the situation on the global oil market in the context of the agreement on reduction of oil production coordinated by the OPEC and the upcoming meeting of energy ministers of OPEC and non-OPEC oil producing countries in Vienna on December 10, » the statement said.
Comment

Chosen Leaders, Proven Failures and Political Debacles: The Oligarchical Process and Identity Politics

Prof. James Petras
Global Research
2016-12-05 00:00:00

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With a few notable exceptions, political leaders are chosen by political leaders, and not by electorates or community-based organizations or popular assemblies. Popular media figures and the so-called ‘pundits’, including academics and self-declared experts and ‘think-tank’ analysts reinforce and propagate these choices.

A collection of terms and pseudo concepts are essential in validating what is really an oligarchical process. These concepts are tagged onto whoever is chosen by the elite for electoral candidates or for the seizure of political power. With this framework in mind, we have to critically analyze the symbols and signs used by popular opinion-makers as they promote political elites. We will conclude by posing an alternative to the ‘propaganda of choice’, which has so far resulted in broken pre-election promises and political debacles.

Language and Pseudo-Concepts: Subterfuges for Manipulated Choices

The usual suspects in the business of mass-manipulation describe their political leaders in the same folksy or pseudo-serious terms that they attribute to themselves: Experts/ intuitive improvisers/ trial and error ‘muddlers’. The ‘experts’ often mean wrong-headed policymakers and advisers whose decisions usually reflect the demands of their current paymasters. Their stated or unstated assumptions are rarely questioned and almost never placed in the context of the contemporary power structures. The experts determine the future trajectory for their political choices. In this way, the views expressed by ‘experts’ are primarily ideological and not some disembodied scholarly entity floating in an indeterminate space and time.
Comment: The putrefying con job that is much of Western politics and its sycophantic politicians is now being laid bare for all to see.

Again it comes down to this: « The question is not about one’s race or identity, but whose interests are served… »
Comment

Russia and China defeats US attempt to save jihadis in Aleppo

Alexander Mercouris
The Duran
2016-12-06 20:25:00

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Confirmation that the US has backtracked on its own proposal to withdraw Jihadi fighters from Aleppo comes just hours after a vote in the UN Security Council in which China joined Russia to veto a Western backed Resolution which would have imposed a 7 day ceasefire on the fighting in Aleppo.

It is clear from the UN Press Office’s summary of the discussion in the UN Security Council that the ceasefire, though initially for just 7 days, would have been subject to further extensions thereafter.

Moreover, though it seems the Resolution specifically referred to Aleppo, the ceasefire was intended to be more all-encompassing, and would have extended to every part of Syria, though groups specifically designated ‘terrorist groups’ – ie. ISIS and Al-Qaeda’s local branch Jabhat Al-Nusra – would have been excluded from it.

A few days ago I suggested that the latest US diplomatic initiatives – including the proposals made to Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov a few days ago in Geneva by US Secretary of State Kerry – were intended to delay the fall of the Jihadi pocket in eastern Aleppo until after US President Obama quit the US Presidency in January.
Comment

Pat Buchanan, well known for his anti-Russian stance: Russian ‘fake news’ meme is a load of bunk

Dean Parker
Russia Insider
2016-12-06 20:09:00

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When it comes to the strength of their Cold War convictions Pat Buchanan is up there in the highest echelons, up with Harry S. Trumam, the butcher of Pyongyang and Rocky Balboa, the vanquisher of Ivan Drago. There are few men who detested « the evil empire » more than this speechwriter for Nixon and Reagan and supporter of the Vietnam War. So with the Russian propaganda brouhaha this Russkie-hating national treasure of a man has of course proclaimed Moscow is obviously back to its old Soviet tricks trying to infiltrate the minds of vulnerable Americans with filthy communist lies. — Except that ha has not.

To the contrary ole Pat has perpexingly and completely without reason suggested the far likelier source of « fake news » targeting Americans are America’s own allies and its own war-crazed politicians:

What brings these episodes to mind is the wave of indignation sweeping this capital over « fake news » allegedly created by Vladimir Putin’s old KGB comrades, and regurgitated by U.S. individuals, websites and magazines that are anti-interventionist and anti-war.

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman says the « propaganda and disinformation threat » against America is real, and we must « counter and combat it. » Congress is working up a $160 million State Department program.

Comment

Tony Blair warns dangerous times ahead for Western democracies

Susan Page
USA Today
2016-12-05 19:57:00

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Former British prime minister Tony Blair warns that political upheaval from Great Britain’s Brexit vote in June to the collapse of the Italian government on Sunday signals the most dangerous time for Western democracies in decades.

« It does feel perilous, actually, because I think there are decisions that are being taken of vast moment in circumstances where systems are fragile, » he told Capital Download on Monday. « And that is troubling. »

It has been a year of unexpected victories by populist and nationalistic forces that are challenging the establishment: passage of the referendum pulling Britain from the European Union, the election of Donald Trump as president in the United States, defeat of a measure in Italy that prompted the prime minister to announce his resignation.

And in the Austrian election Sunday, the candidate representing the party founded by former Nazis lost — but after commanding 46% of the vote.
Comment: Hmm, no mention of his mistakes and how he helped Europe along its current path.
Comment

Society’s Child

Ukraine: Deadly incident of ‘friendly fire’ under investigation

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
2016-12-05 00:00:00

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Ukrainian authorities say Prosecutor-General Yuriy Lutsenko will personally oversee the probe into what officials are calling a « friendly fire » shootout between police and state guards service agents that left at least five law-enforcement officers dead.

Authorities say the deadly incident occurred at about 4 a.m. on December 4, during a search for suspected armed robbers in the village of Knyazichi outside Kyiv.

The Prosecutor-General’s Office said on its website on December 5 that the Kyiv regional prosecutor’s office had given the green light for investigations into the shooting. Ukrainian media reports said that a number of armed robbery suspects were detained later on December 4.

President Petro Poroshenko on December 4 said the tragedy « should not be politicized » and called on Ukrainians « not to use it to destabilize » the situation in the country.
Comment

Muslim women shouldn’t wear veils, integration expert says

RT
2016-12-05 17:20:00

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The British government’s racial integration expert believes Muslim women wearing veils cannot be police officers or midwives because people « want to see their faces. »

Dame Louise Casey, who on Monday presented her report on social integration in Britain, told the BBC Radio 4 Today program that although she does not want to force women to remove their veils, public bodies need to use « common sense » when recruiting.

Her year-long study, which took statements from more than 800 people, researched a series of minority groups in Britain, focusing specifically on Muslim communities. It found « high levels of social and economic isolation in some places, and cultural and religious practices in communities that are not only holding some of our citizens back, but run contrary to British values and sometimes our laws. » The research was criticized by Muslim leaders, who dubbed it « inflammatory, divisive, [and] pandering to the agenda of the far right. »

Dame Louise argued the problem lies with politicians who are more willing to ignore « inconvenient truths » than address issues of segregation and misogyny. « Inequality within certain communities in these highly-segregated areas is getting worse, not better, » she told the BBC. « I will die in the ditch for people in this country to wear whatever they want frankly, in their own homes and in their own livelihood. Do I think that police officers or midwives should be fully veiled? No I don’t. I want to see their faces, most of us do. »
Comment

Dumpster divers arrested for giving perfectly good food to charity

Jack Burns
The Free Thought Project
2016-12-06 20:31:00

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According to the USDA, Americans waste between 30 and 40 percent of their food supply, which translates into 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food per year, and waste continues to rise. Corporate retail food and restaurants account for a great deal of waste, throwing out arbitrarily expired food products, and dishes left unsold. But even household food waste accounts for a whopping 120 pounds per month, per family of four, according to a CBS News report. Enter Anthony Moyer and Samuel Troyer, residents of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, who knew about the wasteful habits of such corporate entities, and decided to do something about it.

The brothers-in-law thought it would be a good idea to see what they could salvage from local food markets, pharmacies, and other retail establishments. They would wait until about 10 pm, and then head off to the market, although they weren’t there to make purchases. Instead, the two went dumpster diving for the valuable goods, which were sealed and unopened, simply discarded and headed for the local trash dump.

As Penn Live reports, At first, they’d bring their haul home and share it with their family and friends. When it got to be too much, the two men started donating whatever they had left to charitable organizations around central Pennsylvania.

Everything seemed to be going fine until the authorities showed up and arrested the dynamic duo for trespassing.
Comment: Food waste can be prevented by not adhering to misleading expiration dates. The US should take a tip from France and make stores sign a donation deal with charities.
Comment

Complete lack of awareness: Cops issue multiple parking tickets to a car with a dead body inside

Jake Anderson
The Anti Media
2016-12-05 13:50:00

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In a crude indictment of both human inattentiveness and local parking enforcement, it appears that over the course of four days, multiple parking citations were issued to a car that contained a dead man.

The SunSentinel reported that Jacob Morpeau, 62, of Miami, was found by police, his body slumped under the steering wheel. County resident Carolyn White, who discovered the body inside an Isuzu Axiom SUV, said the man held a credit card in his hand.

The Broward County Medical Examiner’s office stated Morpeau, an immigrant from Haiti, died from natural causes complicated by hypertensive cardiovascular disease. No one knows how precisely how long his body had been inside the Isuzu. What’s also unknown is how many of the tickets were written with Morpeau inside the vehicle.

What we do know is that, according to the SunSentinel:

« Two of the tickets were written within three minutes, and just six hours before White saw Morpeau’s body inside the SUV. The same parking officer cited the Isuzu for two expired meters, perhaps because the SUV’s front end was in part of the next parking space. »
Comment

Egypt busts huge organ trafficking ring, arrests 45, seizes $mlns

Reuters
Yahoo! News
2016-12-06 19:39:00

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Egypt has uncovered a network accused of illicit international trafficking in human organs, arresting 45 people and recovering millions of dollars in a dawn raid on Tuesday, the health ministry said.

Among those held were doctors, nurses, middlemen and organ-buyers, involved in what the ministry described as the largest organ-trafficking network exposed in Egypt to date.

« The accused who were arrested exploited the economic situation of some Egyptians and the suffering of some patients and their need for treatment to take large financial sums from them, thus breaking the law, » the ministry said in a statement.

It said the investigation, which involved the Health Ministry and Administrative Control Authority, a powerful anti-corruption body, focused on a group of private hospitals and health centres, both licensed and unlicensed, where transplants and organ harvesting took place.
Comment

Convicted pedophile beaten to death by parents of his victims

RT
2016-12-06 18:49:00

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An Argentinian music teacher who was convicted of molesting children has died after being severely beaten while he was performing at a concert in a cathedral close to Buenos Aires. Parents of his victims were allegedly responsible for the killing.

Marcelo Fabian Pecollo, who was handed a 30-year prison sentence in 2010 for molesting five preschool children, was both a music teacher and trumpeter with the Moron city orchestra. He was released from prison after only four years following a sentence reduction.

The attack at the cathedral happened on October 30 in the Moron suburb while Pecollo was performing, according to AFP. A group of parents interrupted the show shouting: « There is a pedophile and a rapist in the church and he is playing in this orchestra. »
Comment

Veterans group blasts Trump’s selection of Ben Carson for Housing Secretary as « insulting to veterans »

Sputnik
2016-12-06 18:12:00

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President-elect Donald Trump’s choice of neurosurgeon Ben Carson to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is insulting to veterans, the group VoteVets said in a press release.

Earlier on Monday, Trump officially named Carson as his nominee for HUD Secretary.

« Hundreds of thousands of veterans live in HUD-assisted housing, » the release stated on Monday. « To make their wellbeing subject to the gross unpreparedness of Ben Carson is a complete insult. »

The release noted that Carson’s own spokesman admitted he does not have the necessary skills to run a government agency.

Veterans who need HUD will be hurt by the appointment, the release added, so the US Senate needs to reject Carson’s nomination and force Trump to choose a serious candidate.

Initially, Carson ran against Trump for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, but supported Trump after dropping out of the race.

VoteVets is the largest progressive veterans group in the United States with more than 450,000 supporters.
Comment

Ponerized society: Red Cross poll finds half of Americans believe torture is useful for extracting info

RT
2016-12-06 17:47:00

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A Red Cross poll has found that about half of American respondents believe that torture is a solution for extracting information. The US was matched only by Nigeria, Israel and Palestine.

The global ‘People on War’ poll that surveyed 17,000 people in 16 countries has revealed that indifference to torture has grown substantially since the late ’90s, especially where it concerns the five permanent UN Security Council members. By contrast, those living in war-torn countries like Afghanistan showed very little acceptance of such methods and a greater regard for international law.

According to the poll results, it appears that war crimes are now being looked at as simply a part of war – an attitude increasingly prevalent in the US, where just under half of all respondents (46 percent) support the use of torture. Only Thirty percent disagreed, with the remainder were undecided. The American shift in opinion was also by far the biggest the authors have seen: none of the other P5 members (Russia, China, France, the UK) came close in figures.

On average, one in three people in the US believed torture was « part of war. »
Comment

Coincidence or conscious? Swastika-looking snowflakes constructed by artist for Latvian Christmas market

RT
2016-12-06 08:16:00

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In another controversial case of Latvia’s relationship to Nazi symbolism, a large ornament eerily similar to a swastika appeared in Riga’s Christmas Market, provoking critical reactions.

The scene filmed Monday at Esplanade Park showed several runes, possibly intended to represent snowflakes. But one does stop to wonder what the designer was thinking, when about 80 percent finished, he noticed one of his creations resembled the symbol associated with Nazism in the 20th century.

Some media accounts reported confusion and disappointment from passersby.

View on Sott.net
Comment: Though the swastika symbol predates Nazism by many centuries, and has held meanings other than the ideology we most commonly associate it with, it is interesting to note that Latvia has aligned itself politically and militarily with NATO.
Comment

Trump names Ben Carson as housing secretary: Carson tells positions on poverty with rags-to-riches life story

Jim Tankersley
The Washington Post
2015-10-31 16:39:00

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Ben Carson was born on the southwest side of this city to a mother who could not read. He spent much of his youth in what he has described as « dire poverty, » but his neighbors kept their lawns trimmed, and parents called other parents if they saw kids stirring up trouble. Compared with the Boston ghetto where he lived briefly in elementary school, Carson says, it was « like Beverly Hills. »

Today, the roofs have caved in on some of the houses on Carson’s old street. Half the children in Southwest Detroit live in poverty. Weeds have overrun the courtyards at his old high school. Soon, workers will knock the school down, pounding to dust another cornerstone of the community that nurtured one of America’s great against-the-odds personal stories.

Carson, 64, who built a world-renowned career in neurosurgery and now leads some polls in the Republican campaign for president, broke the cycle of poverty. His neighborhood slid deeper into it.

Carson’s positions on economic issues, particularly combating poverty, were forged in his extraordinary rise from what is now a riverfront slum in the shadow of a long bridge to Canada. But those positions have created a tension in his run for president.
Comment: See also: Trump names Ben Carson as housing secretary to head urban renewal agenda
Comment

Rape of 11yo girl on way to school leaves Memphis residents in shock

RT
2016-12-06 17:42:00

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Parents in a suburb of Memphis, Tennessee were rattled by a report that an 11-year-old girl was snatched on her way to school, raped, and left in a ditch. Police have arrested a man who matches the description of the attacker.

The girl was walking to Geeter Middle School around 7am on Monday, when a blue SUV pulled up.

« He snatched her, put her in the truck, raped her, and then dropped her off over here, » the victim’s mother told local media, referring to the ditch near the intersection of Delta and Mason Roads.

The girl was battered and bruised, but is expected to be okay, the mother said.
Comment

Bishops in Switzerland create €462K fund for victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy

RT
2016-12-06 17:24:00

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Swiss bishops have created a fund worth €462,000 for those who have been sexually abused by members of the Catholic clergy and cannot seek justice in court because the statute of limitations has passed.

The move was announced on Monday at the Swiss Bishops Conference (SBK), a meeting of the coordinating body of Roman Catholic dioceses, which was held at the Valère Basilica in the city of Sion in southern Switzerland.

« The responsible clergy believe that sex abuse victims in cases where the public statute of limitations has passed and where the Church has long turned a blind eye and provided no reparations, are in a particularly difficult situation, » SBK said.

Thus, SBK created a fund worth 500,000 Swiss francs ($495,000, €462,000) that is to be paid out to sex abuse victims. An independent commission will decide on the size of individual compensations.

« A serious sin has been revealed during our time at the Church… This sin committed by some was made possible by certain structures and certain ways of behaving and thinking, » Monseigneur Charles Morerod said.

« The sin has several levels: the abusive act, the complicit silence, and the lack of assistance to the victims, » he added.
Comment

Washington Post doubles down on McCarthyistic smearing of alternative news sites

Norman Solomon
ConsortiumNews
2016-12-06 16:56:00

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After publishing a McCarthyistic « black list » that smears some 200 Web sites as « Russian propagandists, » The Washington Post refuses to apologize — and other mainstream media outlets pile on.

We still don’t have any sort of apology or retraction from the Washington Post for promoting « The List » — the highly dangerous blacklist that got a huge boost from the newspaper’s fawning coverage on Nov. 24. The project of smearing 200 websites with one broad brush wouldn’t have gotten far without the avid complicity of high-profile media outlets, starting with the Post.

On Thursday — a week after the Post published its front-page news article hyping the blacklist that was put out by a group of unidentified people called PropOrNot — I sent a petition statement to the newspaper’s executive editor Martin Baron.

« Smearing is not reporting, » the RootsAction petition says. « The Washington Post’s recent descent into McCarthyism — promoting anonymous and shoddy claims that a vast range of some 200 websites are all accomplices or tools of the Russian government — violates basic journalistic standards and does real harm to democratic discourse in our country. We urge the Washington Post to prominently retract the article and apologize for publishing it. »

After mentioning that 6,000 people had signed the petition (the number has doubled since then), my email to Baron added: « If you skim through the comments that many of the signers added to the petition online, I think you might find them to be of interest. I wonder if you see a basis for dialogue on the issues raised by critics of the Post piece in question. »
Comment: SOTT.net is proud to be included on such a list.

Modern Operation Mockingbird: « Everyone Who Disagrees with Me Is a Russian Propagandist »
Liberty Blitzkrieg and SOTT.net included on Washington Post highlighted hit list of ‘Russian propaganda’ websites
Publications on Russian propaganda list consider suing anonymous ‘experts’
‘Truth in news’ citizen offers $10,000 reward, payable in Bitcoin, for names of PropOrNot news hoaxers behind the WashPo Russian conspiracy fabrication

Comment

A Christian Christmas in Damascus, thanks to Assad!

Dr. William Wedin
Russia Insider
2016-12-06 00:00:00

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May America join Russia and Syria in the coming year To Bring Peace to the land of Paul at last!

Yes, that’s our Christmas wish. And if President Trump proves willing and able to fulfill his campaign promise to work with Russia to defeat the very terrorists we now secretly support, our wish may actually come true.

Jumping down the Rabbit Hole

Oops! I just did. And I’m sure I left a bunch of you behind. So let me jump back up to the top of the hole and say that this first big photo you see is of a Christian Christmas party for kids in the Christian section of Damascus (protected by the Lord and Syrian government forces) back in 2013. In Damascus Syria, that is. For I only learned today from my devoutly Christian home health aide that many good American Christians have no idea that Damascus is in Syria. And that Syria is the land of St. Paul. It’s right in the Bible.
Comment

FBI investigating ‘very specific’ threat to Los Angeles metro system

RT
2016-12-06 16:27:00

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The FBI is investigating a threat to the Los Angeles metro system, after receiving information on Monday suggesting that an attack was set to be launched on a station used to visit Universal Studios on the network’s Red Line on Tuesday, officials say.

The information came from an anonymous phone call to a public safety line overseas, FBI Assistant Director in Charge Deirdre Fike told a news conference. The tip line was run by an unidentified foreign government, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The caller indicated that something would occur at the Lankershim Boulevard station across from Universal Studios on Tuesday.
Comment

Secret History

No new articles.

Science & Technology

Study finds Caesareans alter human evolution

RT
2016-12-06 18:37:00

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Caesarean sections are affecting evolution, according to new research which claims the surgery is allowing for an increase in women born with a narrow pelvis.

The number of cases in which a baby is unable to fit down the mother’s

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