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Member since: Wed Nov 22, 2017, 08:23 PM
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US Quietly Ceded Part of Syria to Russia Last Week and Nobody Is Talking About It

ANTIMEDIA) — The U.S. has quietly ceded some arenas of the war in Syria to Russia and its allies, according to the Military Times. We're revolutionizing the news industry, but we need your help! Click here to get started.
The U.S. and Russia have been supporting opposing factions on the ground to claim as much territory as possible along the Euphrates River Valley in eastern Syria in the last few months of the war. Even so, the U.S. has apparently given up its longstanding bid to confront the Syrian government directly, though not without taking a political stab at Syria and Russia first.

“We are seeing the movement of limited numbers of ISIS militants westward,” said British Army Maj. Gen Felix Gedney, deputy commander for strategy and support for Operation Inherent Resolve. “They seem to be moving with impunity through regime-held territory showing that the regime is either unwilling or unable to defeat within their borders.” Gedney’s accusation is surprising considering it recently emerged that the U.S. intentionally allowed safe passage for thousands of ISIS fighters leaving Raqqa unscathed. His accusation also runs contrary to the reality that the Syrian regime is the most heavily engaged entity fighting in Syria.

That being said, Gedney’s allegations detract from the real development that has gone largely unnoticed — the U.S.-led coalition has announced it has “no intention to operate in areas that are currently held by the regime.” As the Military Times notes, this decision came as Russia announced its plans to enter  into a long-term agreement with Syria for a permanent military presence. The agreement will entail that Russia will expand its naval base at Tartus, with Russian land and air forces remaining at Hmeymim Air Base. The decision also comes on the heels of Russia’s call for U.S. forces to leave the country completely. Approximately a week ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, said there was no longer a reason for the U.S. to maintain a military presence in Syria and that Washington’s reasons for staying were baseless.

“Any reasons cited by the Americans to justify their further military presence … are just excuses and we think their presence must end,” Lavrentiev allegedly told reporters. In other words, Russia’s permanent military presence means that Washington has been forced to admit its movements in Syria will be completely restricted. The two military superpowers essentially have no-fly zones of their own established in different parts of the country, but only one of them has the authority to fly there, and the U.S. is well aware of this legal disparity.

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Posted by followthesun34 | Tue Jan 2, 2018, 09:45 PM (0 replies)

Father Daniel in Syria: "There Never Was a Popular Uprising in Syria"

Since 2010, Father Daniel Maes (78), from the monastery of Postel in Belgium, has been a resident of Syria's sixth-century Mar Yakub monastery in the city of Qara, 90 kilometers north of the capital Damascus. He has returned to his home country several times in the intervening years to give seminars, but remains living in Syria. I interviewed Father Daniel recently. The following is his story. He told me why he went to Syria in 2010, and how he experienced a culture shock when he first arrived there. He also explained that there never was a civil uprising in Syria, touched on the propaganda surrounding chemical attacks, relayed heartbreaking stories from Syrians themselves and praised the great support they receive from Hezbollah, the Syrian Army, and Russia.
A harmonious society

During one of the international ecumenical gatherings, I met Mother Agnes-Mariam, the founder of the Mar Yakub monastery - which once was one of the most famous monasteries of the Middle East. I was very impressed by her modesty and work, and I invited her to come to speak in Belgium several times after that. Her talks were very successful. At one point, she asked me: "I have visited you so many times. When will you visit us?" And that's when I decided to go to Syria.

I had never had any contact with an Arabic country, so I had many prejudices. I thought that one had to be very careful in a Muslim country. To describe my experience in just a few words: It was nothing less than a culture shock to me. The hospitality that I experienced there was amazing, and the majority of youth, and the different kinds of people, from all walks of life and religions - Shiite, Sunni, Orthodox, Catholic, any possible religion - were all united. Regarding the country as a whole, life was harmonious; I have never seen such a harmonious society.

Hospitality was not only shown to Christians; there was no distinction made between Muslims and Christians. In all of Damascus, I think, there was not even one door that was locked. On a certain evening, I met a Christian woman who has a tourist office in Damascus. She told me: "I've been in many countries, and places. I've been in Brussels, I've been in Paris, and there is no other city like Damascus, where you can go out at night in safety."
She was a beautiful lady, and she could safely walk the streets. In addition, treatment at hospitals was free, except medicines (all made in Syria!), and following a program of study at the university cost around 20 euros. On the whole, I witnessed a prosperous, safe, hospitable, and harmonious society. And refugees, about one million from Iraq and some from Bosnia, were treated as their own citizens.

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Posted by followthesun34 | Tue Jan 2, 2018, 02:28 PM (4 replies)

Israeli MPs pass law impeding possible East Jerusalem secession vote

The Israeli parliament has passed a law requiring a two-thirds majority in any future vote to cede parts of Jerusalem to a foreign authority. The change from requiring a simple majority makes a two-state solution less likely. Under the new legislation, Israel’s 120-seat Knesset would have to cast 80 votes in favor of relinquishing any part of Jerusalem, rather than the 61 required before by default. The bill, which was proposed last summer by the far-right Jewish Home coalition party, was passed by a majority of 64 to 52, according to the Times of Israel.

The office of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas responded to the passage of the law with a statement, which said that Israeli lawmakers had de facto declared a war against Palestinians and Islam’s holy sites in Jerusalem’s old city. Israel occupied Eastern Jerusalem during the 1967 war and annexed it in 1980. The move was not recognized by the international community. The Jewish state considers the city to be its undivided capital, which conflicts with the vision of a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, which sees Eastern Jerusalem as capital of the future Palestinian state. The amendment to Israel’s Jerusalem Law is intended to prevent such an outcome, Jewish Home’s Shulamit Mualem-Rafaeli said.

“The state of Israel will not allow for the establishment of a Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem. Get it into your heads that Jerusalem was the capital of the Jewish people and will remain the capital of the Jewish people for all eternity,” she said. Interestingly, the bill also opens a hypothetical possibility for partitioning Jerusalem by allowing a change of the city’s municipal borders and creating new municipalities, which was previously not possible under Israeli law, noted the Jerusalem Post. The caveat was added at the insistence of Israeli Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Ze’ev Elkin, who seeks to formally exclude Arab-populated villages – located outside of the separation barrier – from the city.

The new law was passed less than a month after the US recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, sparking protests in the Muslim world and international condemnation. The administration of Donald Trump said the recognition merely acknowledged the situation on the ground, and tried to pressure other nations at the UN General Assembly not to vote for a non-binding resolution criticizing the decision. Failing that, Washington announced it would slash funding for various US programs and aid to individual states.

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Posted by followthesun34 | Tue Jan 2, 2018, 02:15 PM (3 replies)

World Repudiates US Over Jerusalem Despite Haleys Pre-Vote Bullying and Temper Tantrum on UN Stage

By Jake Johnson

In a speech one critic likened to “a bully throwing a temper tantrum on the world stage,” U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Thursday slammed U.N. member states for refusing to line up in support of President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and threatened to withdraw funding if America continues to be “disrespected.”

“The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation,” Haley declared in a speech at U.N. headquarters in New York. “When a nation is singled out for attack in this organization that nation is disrespected. What’s more, that nation is asked to pay for the privilege of being disrespected. In the case of the U.S. we are asked to pay more than anyone else for that dubious privilege.”

Despite Haley’s threats—and her complaint that the U.S. isn’t seeing sufficient return on its “investment”—the U.N. General Assembly voted 128-9 to declare Trump’s Jerusalem move “null and void.” Guatemala, Togo, Honduras, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, and Palau voted with the U.S and Israel against the resolution. Canada was among the 35 nations that abstentions.

The General Assembly’s overwhelming rebuke of the Trump administration came just a day after Haley warned in a Facebook post that “yes, the U.S. will be taking names” during the vote.

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Posted by followthesun34 | Tue Jan 2, 2018, 12:30 AM (6 replies)

Meeting Doesn't Prove Trump Colluded With Russia - Sydney Morning Herald

Few political allegations are as persistent as the charge that Donald Trump is Vladimir Putin's puppet.
The theory goes like this: In 2016, the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow to hack into the emails of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's campaign chair. The Russians then gave the emails to WikiLeaks, which made them public and wrecked the anti-Russian Clinton's chances of winning the White House – a result that confounded almost all political experts. Ever since the election, Trump and his team have been busily covering up the crime. Trump is also vulnerable to Kremlin blackmail, we are told, because an intelligence dossier produced by an ex-British spy shows Trump's dirty deeds in Moscow hotels years before he ran for president.

All of this supposedly explains why Trump wants to appease a brutal dictator. It is also why headlines, such as "Putin's first year in the White House", and "Donald Trump: Kremlin Employee of the Month" often litter the American press. The key question at the heart of this investigation is not whether the Russians had dirt on Clinton, including damaging emails. The issue is whether the Trump campaign was working with Russian officials to acquire and disseminate information about her that could be used to tilt the 2016 election. According to The New York Times, it now seems clear that the former foreign minister's decision to tip off US intelligence about his conversation with Papadopoulos – not the aforementioned dossier full of wild, discredited and unsubstantiated claims against Trump – inspired the FBI probe.

But the Downer revelations provide no evidence of collusion. Indeed, Papadopoulos's main mission was to set up a meeting between Putin and Trump (or their key surrogates) – not to acquire information from the Russians that would damage Clinton, much less work with Moscow to steal DNC emails and publicise them. What about the fact that a Maltese professor living in London told Papadopoulos that Russian officials had informed him they had "dirt" on Clinton in the form of "thousands of emails"? For starters, the professor is not a Russian and Papadopoulos did not seek out this information.Moreover, there is no evidence of subsequent conversations about these emails with the professor or anyone else. In fact, it appears that Papadopoulos did not even report the conversation to higher ups in the Trump campaign.

There are other problems with the media's collusion narrative. For one thing, if Trump is a puppet, someone other than Putin pulls the strings. And he's not Russian. In the past year, Washington has expanded NATO once again, strengthened sanctions on Moscow, supplied the Ukrainian military with lethal weapons, boosted aid to the Baltic countries and launched missiles against Syria's Assad regime. These decisions outrage the Kremlin and will only increase East-West tensions. True, Trump and Putin have a great personal rapport. But after a year with Trump in power, Russians are entitled to think that with friends like him, the Kremlin doesn't need enemies. Also bear in mind that reputable journalists have raised serious questions about whether the Russian government hacked the Democrats' emails, which incidentally show that the DNC colluded with Clinton against Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primaries.

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Posted by followthesun34 | Tue Jan 2, 2018, 12:05 AM (3 replies)

Weaponization of Information in the Modern Era and Journalists Pushing Pre-ordained Narratives


We saw similar patterns with the U.S. government’s propaganda agencies developing themes to demonize foreign adversaries and then to smear Americans who questioned the facts or challenged the exaggerations as “apologists.” This approach was embraced not only by Republicans (think of President George W. Bush distorting the reality in Iraq in 2003 to justify the invasion of that country under false pretenses) but also by Democrats who pushed dubious or downright false depictions of the conflict in Syria (including blaming the Syrian government for chemical weapons attacks despite strong evidence that the events were staged by Al Qaeda and other militants who had become the tip of the spear in the neocon/liberal interventionist goal of removing the Assad dynasty and installing a new regime more acceptable to the West and to Israel. More and more I would encounter policymakers, activists and, yes, journalists who cared less about a careful evaluation of the facts and logic and more about achieving a pre-ordained geopolitical result – and this loss of objective standards reached deeply into the most prestigious halls of American media. This perversion of principles – twisting information to fit a desired conclusion – became the modus vivendi of American politics and journalism. And those of us who insisted on defending the journalistic principles of skepticism and evenhandedness were increasingly shunned by our colleagues, a hostility that first emerged on the Right and among neoconservatives but eventually sucked in the progressive world as well. Everything became “information warfare.”

The New Outcasts

That is why many of us who exposed major government wrongdoing in the past have ended up late in our careers as outcasts and pariahs. Legendary investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, who helped expose major crimes of state from the My Lai massacre to the CIA’s abuses against American citizens, including illegal spying and LSD testing on unsuspecting subjects, has literally had to take his investigative journalism abroad because he uncovered inconvenient evidence that implicated Western-backed jihadists in staging chemical weapons attacks in Syria so the atrocities would be blamed on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The anti-Assad group think is so intense in the West that even strong evidence of staged events, such as the first patients arriving at hospitals before government planes could have delivered the sarin, was brushed aside or ignored. The Western media and the bulk of international agencies and NGOs were committed to gin up another case for “regime change” and any skeptics were decried as “Assad apologists” or “conspiracy theorists,” the actual facts be damned.

Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh

So Hersh and weapons experts such as MIT’s Theodore Postol were shoved into the gutter in favor of hip new NATO-friendly groups like Bellingcat, whose conclusions always fit neatly with the propaganda needs of the Western powers.The demonization of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia is just the most dangerous feature of this propaganda process – and this is where the neocons and the liberal interventionists most significantly come together. The U.S. media’s approach to Russia is now virtually 100 percent propaganda. Does any sentient human being read the New York Times’ or the Washington Post’s coverage of Russia and think that he or she is getting a neutral or unbiased treatment of the facts? For instance, the full story of the infamous Magnitsky case cannot be told in the West, nor can the objective reality of the Ukrane coup in 2014.

The American people and the West in general are carefully shielded from hearing the “other side of the story.” Indeed to even suggest that there is another side to the story makes you a “Putin apologist” or “Kremlin stooge.”
Western journalists now apparently see it as their patriotic duty to hide key facts that otherwise would undermine the demonizing of Putin and Russia. Ironically, many “liberals” who cut their teeth on skepticism about the Cold War and the bogus justifications for the Vietnam War now insist that we must all accept whatever the U.S. intelligence community feeds us, even if we’re told to accept the assertions on faith.

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Posted by followthesun34 | Mon Jan 1, 2018, 08:05 PM (3 replies)

WikiLeaks Drops Proof That NYTimes Colluded With Hillary Clinton

You thought 2017 was going to end without a bang — other than the fireworks? Think again.

After The New York Times on Saturday published a story headlined "Republican Attacks on Mueller and F.B.I. Open New Rift in G.O.P.," WikiLeaks couldn't stand it anymore. In a late-night post on Twitter, WikiLeaks revealed that a Times reporter used to feed State Department email updates of the stories the paper would be publishing DAYS before the stories appeared.

At the time, Hillary Clinton was the Secretary of State.

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Posted by followthesun34 | Mon Jan 1, 2018, 06:58 PM (2 replies)

2,190 Days Of Suffering: Syrians Describe Surviving The Rebel Invasion

By Sarah Abed

DAMASCUS —(Editorial) During the past six years, a country that was previously absent from mainstream media coverage has taken center stage in the news. One needs only to turn on the TV, read a newspaper or hop online to hear about the ongoing conflict in Syria – a conflict that has been described as this decade’s most brutal humanitarian crisis.

But these headlines have only reiterated the State Department and NATO’s devious “regime change” narrative that has increased Western support for NATO-armed and funded rebels. This narrative uses invariably baseless allegations, misinformation and propaganda to defame the Syrian army and government and lay blame on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the humanitarian crisis brought on by the rebels.

After hearing these fabricated and exaggerated reports of genocide, chemical weapons and atrocities committed by the Assad government, most Western audiences have the luxury of simply carrying on with their day. The uncomfortable scenes they witness in the media every day fade away in their consciousness.

But the luxury of indifference is not afforded to those living in countries that have been wracked by war brought on by U.S. intervention, which in the case of Syria has come in the form of millions of dollars in arms and funds funnelled into the hands of CIA-trained rebels with the intention of inducing a sectarian civil war.

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Posted by followthesun34 | Mon Jan 1, 2018, 04:42 PM (1 replies)

2018 - War or No War? - Vineyard of The Saker /Information Clearinghouse

By The Saker
January 01, 2018 "Information Clearing House" -

 If the first months of 2017 were a time of great hopes following the historical defeat of Hillary Clinton, the year is ending in a sombre, almost menacing manner. Not only has the swamp easily, quickly and totally drowned Trump, but the AngloZionist Empire is reeling from its humiliating defeat in Syria and the Neocons are now treating our entire planet to a never ending barrage of threats. Furthermore, the Trump Administration now has released a National Security Strategy which clearly show that the Empire is in “full paranoid” mode. It is plainly obvious that the Neocons are now back in total control of the White House, Congress and the US corporate media. Okay, maybe things are still not quite as bad as if Hillary had been elected, but they are bad enough to ask whether a major war is now inevitable next year. If we go by their rhetoric, the Neocons have all the following countries in their sights:

Afghanistan (massive surge already promised)
Syria (threats of a US-Israeli-KSA attack; attack on Iranian and Hezbollah forces in Syria)
Russia (disconnecting from SWIFT; stealing Russian assets in the US; attack on Russian forces in Syria)
Iran (renege on nuclear deal, attack Iranian forces in Syria)
The Donbass (support for a full scale Ukronazi attack against Novorussia)
DPRK (direct and overt military aggression; aerial and naval blockade)
Venezuela (military intervention “in defense of democracy, human rights, freedom and civilization”)
There are, of course, many more countries currently threatened by the US to various degrees, but the seven above are all good candidates for US aggression.

Let me immediately say here that listing pragmatic arguments against such aggression is, at this point in time, probably futile. If anything, the recent disaster triggered by the US recognition of Jerusalem clearly proves that the US is run by people as least as stupid and ignorant as they are evil and arrogant, possibly even more so. The sad reality we now live in is one where a nuclear superpower lacks the minimal intelligence needed to act in defense of its own national security interests, and that is really frightening. Last week I took a look at the mindset of what I called the “ideological drone“. If we now look at the mindset of the US national security establishment we will immediately notice that it is almost exactly the same as that of the ideological drone. The biggest difference between them might be that the ideological drone assumes that his/her leaders are sane and mostly honest people, whereas those in the elites not only know that they are total hypocrites and liars, but they actually see this as a sign superiority: the drones believes in his/her ideology, but his rulers believe in absolutely nothing. Take the example of Syria. All the US decision makers are fully aware of the following facts:
Daesh/ISIS/al-Nusra/etc is their creation and they tried everything to save these terrorists. The joint Russian-Iranian-Hezbollah effort defeated Daesh/ISIS/al-Nusra/etc in-spite of AngloZionist support and attacks on Syrian forces. The AngloZionist forces are in Syria completely illegally.

Yet none of that prevents them from claiming that they, not Russia, defeated Daesh/ISIS/al-Nusra/etc. This is absolutely amazing, think of it – the entire planet knows full well what really took place in Syria, but Uncle Sam decrees that black is white, water is dry and what is true is false. And the most amazing thing is that they know that everybody knows, yet they don’t care one bit. Why? Because they profoundly believe in four fundamental things:We can buy anybody - Those we cannot buy, we bully - Those we cannot bully we kill - Nothing can happen to us, we live in total impunity not matter what we do

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Posted by followthesun34 | Mon Jan 1, 2018, 04:08 PM (4 replies)

The New Hysteria on Kremlin Trolls - Counterpunch/Strategic Culture

On Christmas day, CounterPunch readers who opened the Washington Post were confronted by a startling lede in the top article. Under the alarmist headline, “Kremlin Trolls Burned across the Internet as Washington Debated Options.” the piece reported that one “Alice Donovan” had contacted CounterPunch back in February 2016 and later posted articles on its website. She had claimed to be a freelance journalist, but her first email to CounterPunch, sent at 3:26 a.m. (which, the Post reminded us darkly, was “the middle of the day in Moscow”), was shared to buttress the central claim drawn from FBI sources: “Donovan” was actually a covert Russian agent.

According to the Post, “The FBI was tracking Donovan as part of a months-long counterintelligence operation code-named ‘NorthernNight.’ Internal bureau reports described her as a pseudonymous foot soldier in an army of Kremlin-led trolls seeking to undermine America’s democratic institutions.” CounterPunch had become the hapless propaganda patsy of this troll “army” and editor Jeffrey St. Clair was scrambling fruitlessly to sort out what had happened. So far, so alarming. But CounterPunch readers are used to parsing media claims and under the briefest scrutiny the Post article quickly fell apart into a mass of unsupported assertions—even leaving aside obvious mysteries, such as why we are now supposed to take writing in the wee hours as revealing someone’s true location in Eastern Europe (I now wonder what my insomniac messages are suggesting) and why a writer as obscure as Donovan warranted the Post’s lede in the first place.

Most sobering about “Kremlin Trolls” was that the most basic information, obligatory for all responsible journalism, was conspicuously missing. How did the Post get access to this FBI information? What are these “internal bureau reports” exactly and what is their provenance (that is, who had handled them as they made their way to the Post, always a crucial question)? On what legal basis did the Post (that is, lead writer Adam Entous*) contact CounterPunch about someone under FBI scrutiny – assuming for the moment that this person, or pseudonymous person, was indeed under such scrutiny? And why consume a Post article lede with this one low-level obscure writer, then with 47 Twitter followers? Moreover, what was the dreadful deed alleged Russian agent Donovan had perpetrated? Increasingly, she seemed to be doing the Kremlin’s bidding by stoking discontent toward Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and touting WikiLeaks, which U.S. officials say was a tool of Russia’s broad influence operation to affect the presidential race.

Everything was wrong with this language. “Seemed to be doing the Kremlin’s bidding?” This is pure innuendo, hardly “did” the Kremlin’s bidding. In fact, aside from (mishandled) assertions of FBI suspicions, “Kremlin Trolls” provided no hard evidence of any Kremlin connection with Donovan at all. “Stoking discontent toward … Hillary Clinton?” It hardly takes a Kremlin affiliation to explain popular “discontent” with a candidate that too many American voters disliked or detested for a plethora of reasons. And Donovan’s last alleged sin, “touting WikiLeaks?” Consider the Post’s quote from her: “There’s no denying the emails that Julian Assange has picked up from inside the Democratic Party are real,” she wrote in August 2016 for a website called We Are Change. “The emails have exposed Hillary Clinton in a major way — and almost no one is reporting on it.”

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Posted by followthesun34 | Mon Jan 1, 2018, 03:59 PM (0 replies)
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