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April Fool’s Prank: Russian Foreign Ministry Mocks Election Interference Allegations

April Fool’s Prank: Russian Foreign Ministry Mocks Election Interference Allegations

Posted: 01 Apr 2017 10:43 AM PDT

We Are Change

Proving once again that the Russians are all trolls, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia posted a fake audio recording of their answering machine mocking the allegations that they have committed election interference today.

Yes, today is April Fool’s Day.

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Posted by ??? ?????? on Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Russians are seeking to help callers connect with real life Russian hackers or requesting interference in elections.

“To arrange a call from a Russian diplomat to your political opponent, press 1,” the recording begins, in Russian and English. Press 2 “to use the services of Russian hackers,” and 3 “to request election interference.”

(The English version starts at 0:28)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied allegations of Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election, telling an interviewer this week, “Read my lips — no,” further stating that the allegations are made up “lies.”

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Trump’s Stealth Partition Of Syria – ‘Safe Zones’ And The Siege Of Raqqa

Posted: 01 Apr 2017 02:22 AM PDT

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Escalation is still on the table.

Article via SCG

With Russia backing the Syrian army the U.S. and the rest of the Sunni Axis seem to have given up their plans for a full regime change in Syria. This does not, however, mean that the danger of an escalation has passed. Plan B among U.S. foreign policy hawks has always provided for two backdoor paths to war: the establishment of no-fly zones (now renamed as “safe-zones”), and the partition of Syria along sectarian lines.

Trump has signaled that he supports the establishment of “safe-zones” in Syria to manage refugees before they reach Europe. However in practice it is unclear how this would be any different from Clinton’s proposal to establish no-fly zones; a policy that Trump at one point warned could spark World War III.

“What we should do is focus on ISIS. We should not be focusing on Syria,” Trump told The Guardian. “You’re going to end up in World War III over Syria if we listen to Hillary Clinton.” He continued: “You’re not fighting Syria anymore, you’re fighting Syria, Russia, and Iran, all right? Russia is a nuclear country, but a country where the nukes work as opposed to other countries that talk.”

Safe-zones would be toothless without control of airspace, so either Trump hasn’t thought this through, or is assuming that renaming the venture will be enough to put anti-war activists off the scent. Foreign policy analysts, however, are viewing this as potential flashpoint.

“I do think that it presents escalation risks,” Melissa Dalton, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who was formerly a country director for Syria at the Department of Defense, told Business Insider. “If the US decides to pursue a safe zone, it needs to do so in the broader framework that looks at what sort of levers, what sort of coercive measures can the US bring to bear on Russia, Assad, and Iran to ensure that the safe zone is not violated and to mitigate the risks of military confrontation.”

Russia has expressed concern, but is keeping their response diplomatic, warning the U.S. to “think about the potential consequences of establishing safe zones.”

The Siege of Raqqa

As the U.S. military and Kurdish forces surround Raqqa in preparation to take the city, most media attention has focused on the possibility of its dam being destroyed by ISIS. However a far more important development passed under the radar. On March 23, Radio FreeEurope reported that the U.S. intends to use the operation to block Syrian government forces.

Besides recapturing the dam, SDF said the U.S.-backed operation also aimed to block any advance by Syrian government forces from the west.

The implication here is that the U.S. doesn’t intend to give Raqqa back to Syria at all, but would rather hand over power to one of their proxies and facilitate the establishment of a new government. If this is indeed the case, it would be naive to assume that this new government would limit its territory to this one city.

In order to hold its position over the long term, they would have to extend their borders significantly, most likely towards Turkey. Turkey clearly sees this implication, and is not pleased. Turkey obviously isn’t concerned about violating Syria’s sovereignty, but they view any move that strengthens the Kurds as a potential threat.

Russia’s Strategy

At this stage it is clear that Trump’s anti-war campaign rhetoric will have little bearing on policy. Russia sees this, and you can rest assured that they are planning accordingly, but as of yet they have declined to expose their hand. Their lack of an immediate response does however indicate that they intend to allow the U.S. to commit itself fully before making any significant move. Once the U.S. is holding Raqqa this will cease to be a war of airstrikes, and proxy insurgencies, and will become an occupation, and that’s a completely different ball of wax.

This is comparable to an amateur chess player pushing a cluster of pieces deep into enemy territory early in the game with no real long term plan. Russia will bide its time.

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Trump’s Stealth Partition of Syria – “Safe Zones” and the Siege of Raqqahttp://stormcloudsgathering.com/trumps-stealth-partition-of-syria

Posted by StormCloudsGathering on Friday, March 31, 2017

This article first appeared on StormCloudsGathering.com and was authored by Aaron Hawkins.

The post Trump’s Stealth Partition Of Syria – ‘Safe Zones’ And The Siege Of Raqqa appeared first on We Are Change.

Paraugay On Fire: Protesters Set Congress Ablaze Following Presidential Coup

Posted: 01 Apr 2017 01:45 AM PDT

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Protesters stormed and set fire to Paraguay’s Congress building on Friday after the Senate secretly voted for a constitutional amendment that would allow President Horacio Cartes to run for re-election.

Protests erupted outside the Congress after a group 25 lawmakers voted for the measure to secretly re-elect President Cartes, two more than the 23 required for passage in the 45-member upper chamber, Reuters reported.

Protesters then stormed the building and set it on fire, photos posted on social media showed the building set ablaze.

Police in riot gear responded by lobbing tear gas and firing rubber bullets into the crowd.

A senator of the opposition party called for resistance stating that a “coup has been carried out” urging people to resist with them.

“A coup has been carried out. We will resist, and we invite the people to resist with us,” Senator Desiree Masi from the opposition Progressive Democratic Party said.

fire in ground floor of congress, no sign of firefighters. #Paraguay pic.twitter.com/vkyjg5ASwB

— Laurence Blair (@LABlair1492) March 31, 2017

#Urgente Imágenes de la toma del Congreso de #Paraguay en contra de la reelección presidencial vía @pablopetovelpic.twitter.com/dKcSBWbcaF

— La Razón Digital (@LaRazon_Bolivia) April 1, 2017

Protesters in #Paraguay set fire to Congress after Senate secretly votes to let president run for re-election. https://t.co/4p25jBNLI6pic.twitter.com/J0Ucmm9fOV

— AJ+ (@ajplus) April 1, 2017

At least 30 protesters, police officers, and civilians were injured, but the actual number of casualties is unknown, the fire service and police said.

Protesters “ransacked” the offices of those who backed the bill Reuters reported.

Firefighters managed to control the flames after protesters left the Congress building late on Friday night. But protests and riots continued in other parts of Asuncion and elsewhere in the country well into the night, media reported.

Local media reported that several politicians and journalists were among the people injured in the clashes outside. Those wounded included Senate Speaker Roberto Acevedon, the former Minister of the Interior, Rafael Filizzola, of the opposition Popular Democratic Party, and the presidential candidate from Authentic Radical Liberal Party, Efraín Alegre the agency said citing Senator Luis Wagner.

The national police were not under any instruction to repress. They were attacked,” Interior Minister Tadeo Rojas said.

Paraguay’s constitution, adopted in 1992, only allows for the country’s presidents to serve a single term in office to prevent the country from returning to a dictatorship. Where Alfredo Stroessner ruled for more than 30 years after leading an army coup in 1954.

The approved amendment would allow Paraguay’s current president, Horacio Cartes to run for re-election in 2018.

But Before the amendment is law, it must be approved by the Chamber of Deputies.

Approval there would require the electoral court to call a referendum on the reform within three months.

Those in opposition to the re-election amendment have promised to resist the bill calling the change to the country’s constitution a “coup d’etat” and the start of a new“dictatorship.”

Video showed thousands of demonstrators outside the congressional offices rallying and chanting.

RT OsvaldoteleSUR: Protesta violenta continúa alrededor del Congreso de #Paraguay pic.twitter.com/0Vc7eIxbBF

— Olegario Martínez (@Olegario_M) April 1, 2017

In a statement released on Twitter, President Cartes called for calm.

“Democracy is not conquered or defended with violence and you can be sure this government will continue to put its best effort into maintaining order in the republic,”

A todos los paraguayos en representación del Gobierno Nacional expreso cuanto sigue pic.twitter.com/SZIw0sKGc9

— Horacio_Cartes (@Horacio_Cartes) April 1, 2017


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White House: U.S. Must Accept ‘Political Reality’ In Syria

Posted: 01 Apr 2017 01:43 AM PDT

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Lack of Options to Remove Assad from Power

Article via Antiwar

Elaborating on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson‘s comments yesterday that the Syrian people should be the ones to decide the future of President Bashar Assad, the White House today insisted that it was just the US accepting the “political reality” in the country.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer insisted that there was a “lack of options” for the US to force President Assad out of office anymore, blaming President Obama for having missed the opportunity to do so back when he was in power.

The Obama Administration had long spurned talks of a deal which might allow voters to decide on Assad’s role in a future Syrian government, insisting he needed to unconditionally resign and accept that he’d never be allowed to run for office again.

The Trump Administration is seen moving the Syrian war to focus on fighting against ISIS, and not against the Syrian government. Given the position the Syrian government currently controls, there is no reason to expect Assad to unilaterally resign anymore, though the US abandoning that demand is likely to anger US-backed rebel groups.

This article first appeared on Antiwar.com and was authored by Jason Ditz.

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Kremlin: U.S. Relations May Be Even Worse Than Cold War

Posted: 01 Apr 2017 01:36 AM PDT

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Spokesman Faults US Media ‘Slander’ About Election Hacking

Article via Antiwar

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov made an appearance today on Good Morning America, discussing the ever-worsening relations between the United States and Russia, and describing them as “maybe even worse” than they were during the Cold War.

Peskov cited Obama Administration sanctions as a sign of worsening relations, and complained about US media “slander” in relation to allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 US elections. In particular he complained about the Obama Administration expelling a number of diplomats in December and seizing a pair of recreational compounds.

“It’s not friendly. It’s not legal in terms of international law. So, of course, it was a very significant damage for our bilateral relations,” Peskov added, saying he remains hopeful that US-Russia relations could improve, and that the Trump Administration might want to “reestablish dialogue.”

While the Russian government was initially hopeful of President Trump’s talk of “normalizing” ties, so far there has been little effort to actually do so, with the scandals surrounding the election appearing to make many US officials unwilling to talk to any top Russian figures.

This article first appeared on Antiwar.com and was authored by Jason Ditz.

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John McCain Furious At Rex Tillerson For Saying Assad Can Stay

Posted: 01 Apr 2017 01:19 AM PDT

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Article via Zero Hedge

The six year Syrian proxy war to dethrone president Bashar al Assad quietly ended with a whimper yesterday when at a news conference in the Turkish capital, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson suggested the end of Bashar Assad’s presidency is no longer a prerequisite for a way out of the Syrian crisis, in a dramatic U-turn from Washington’s long-held policy.

“I think the longer term status of President Assad will be decided by the Syrian people,” said Tillerson at a joint conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevut Cavusoglu on Thursday, AFP reported. Later, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley echoed Tillerson, saying “Our priority is no longer to sit and focus on getting Assad out.”

“You pick and choose your battles and when we’re looking at this, it’s about changing up priorities and our priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out,” U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told a small group of reporters.

“Do we think he’s a hindrance? Yes. Are we going to sit there and focus on getting him out? No,” she said. “What we are going to focus on is putting the pressure in there so that we can start to make a change in Syria.”

Under President Barack Obama, the United States made Assad’s departure one of its key objectives. The Syrian armed opposition also insisted upon the longtime leader’s resignation as one of the conditions during the Astana peace talks.

For those unaware, allowing the people of Syria to decide the fate of President Assad has been Russia’s stance since the conflict began. Moscow has repeatedly rebuffed any preconditions for Assad to step down before a political settlement of the crisis.

“The UN Security Council resolution and various decisions on Syria, adopted since 2012 with our proactive involvement, contain no demand or hint that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must resign. On the contrary, they say that the people of Syria alone have a right to decide their future, and that the political process should involve all forces of Syrian society without exception, including ethnic, political forces, religious denominations and all opposition groups,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in a 2016 interview.

In other words, the entire proxy conflict, with thousands of lives lost, and millions of Syrian immigrants flooding Europe, has been for nothing.

Better yet, we have confirmation that Tillerson’s pivot was indeed groundbreaking courtesy of John McCain’s reaction. The Senate Armed Services Committee and prominent neocon said in a statement that “I am deeply disturbed by statements today by our Secretary of State and Ambassador to the United Nations regarding the future of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.”

McCain then slammed Tillerson, saying “Once again, U.S. policy in Syria is being presented piecemeal in press statements without any definition of success, let alone a realistic plan to achieve it.

The angry neocon continued: “ultimately, the administration’s statements today could lead America’s true allies and partners in the fight against ISIS to fear the worst: a Faustian bargain with Assad and Putin sealed with an empty promise of counterterrorism cooperation. I hope President Trump will make clear that America will not follow this self-destructive and self-defeating path.”

He was not alone: Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham says if reports were accurate, “I fear it will be the biggest mistake since President Obama failed to act after drawing a red line against Assad’s use of chemical weapons.” He added that “This would be crushing news to the Syrian opposition and to our allies throughout the Middle East. I fear it is a grave mistake.”

With America’s two biggest neocons slamming Trump’s Syria reversal, it is safe to say that at least in this particular case, Trump made the right decision.

This article first appeared on ZeroHedge.com and was authored by Tyler Durden.

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U.S. Imperialism Is To Blame For Al-Qaeda In Yemen– Not The Houthi Uprising

Posted: 01 Apr 2017 01:13 AM PDT

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Article via Geopolitics Alert by Randi Nord

Yemen is a country that’s typically ignored by the mainstream media.  Especially the hows and whys of al-Qaeda in Yemen and what the war in Yemen means for US imperialism.

Like most countries in the middle east, western involvement in Yemen dates back many decades. Shortly after British occupation ended in 1967, South Yemen became a socialist state with strong ties to the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, and radical Palestinians.

North and South Yemen unified in 1990 shortly before the Soviet Union officially dissolved. This unified Yemen has seen some degree of conflict and corruption ever since. US imperialism in the broader middle east region has not only exasperated but also contributed to this chaos. Both directly and indirectly.

From Jihad in Afghanistan to al-Qaeda in Yemen

Let’s start with al-Qaeda in Yemen. Many western outlets like to credit the rise of al-Qaeda in Yemen to conflict caused by Houthi rebels in 2011. They explain it as if the jihadis used the chaos from the uprising to gain footing in the country’s tribal areas. This description is not only shortsighted but also factually inaccurate.

Osama bin Laden called Yemen the last refuge for jihadis. The hills of Yemen have long been a place of recruitment and planning for al-Qaeda long before officially announcing their branch in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in 2006.

In the 80’s the United States was busy arming the Taliban in Afghanistan to fight the Soviet Union and collapse the communist government in Kabul. Many mujahideen fighters traveled from all around the middle east for the jihad in Afghanistan. Rural tribal areas in Yemen were ideal for recruiting fighters to take-on what locals saw as Soviet invaders. Many of these fighters came from parts of Africa and of course, Saudi Arabia. Yemen simply became the jihadi thoroughfare.

Famine & Man-Made Health Crisis

But US imperialism is also directly responsible for the devastating situation in Yemen we see today.

Yemen was a poor country prior to the current conflict and now Yemen is starving. The people of Yemen are hard pressed to find food, clean drinking water or medical care. Many people– especially children– die everyday from malnutrition or preventable illnesses like cholera. Nearly the entire country is on the brink of famine.

Not only are Yemenis subject to air strikes from both Saudi Arabia and the United States, but Saudi-backed fighters have been terrorizing civilians on the ground– and not just during combat. But even doctors and patients inside hospitals; forcing doctors to work at gunpoint.

Aid agencies have left the country due to the Saudi regime’s relentless bombing campaign. Which targets civilian infrastructure including hospitals, funerals, homes, airports, and agricultural areas. Thousands have been killed and millions are displaced.

Unemployment is rampant and the illiteracy rate is climbing. The poorest country in the middle east is also living under an asset freeze, and air-blockade. Which makes it very difficult for aid to enter the country and for civilians to flee.

Trump & Mattis Take Over Where Obama Left Off… and Dial Things up to 10

The United States has come under fire from several human rights groups for supplying arms to Saudi Arabia. Which directly contributes to the violence, devastation, and deteriorating situation in Yemen going back to at least the Arab Spring.

In fact documents released via Wikileaks show that the Obama administration started arming and training the Yemeni government prior to the start of the war we see today. Indeed, the United States and their imperialist allies are directly to blame. And the Trump administration shows no sign of slowing things down.

Quite the opposite, the new administration actually increased US military presence and air strikes in Yemen. The first action authorized by Trump shortly after taking office included a raid so horrendous that the mainstream media not only covered but also condemned it.

This poorly-planned and careless raid resulted in the death of dozens of Yemeni civilians– including an 8 year old girl– and one Navy Seal. James Mattis actually has a history of authorizing military actions in Yemen that are expected to have high numbers of civilian casualties.

So nearly two decades after 9-11, why is the United States still fighting al-Qaeda in Yemen? Well, they are, and they aren’t. For all intents and purposes, al-Qaeda is a US ally in Yemen. The Saudi-coalition and al-Qaeda share a common enemy in the new Popular Resistance Coalition.

The Houthis, portions of the Yemeni military, and their allies have formed a broad coalition to fight back against both Saudi aggression and United States imperialism. Despite this, the US simply refers to this coalition as “Houthi rebels” and “Iranian puppets.” Neither of which is accurate.

Why Does the US Care?

A bigger concern for the United States is propping up a Saudi-friendly and anti-Iranian government in Yemen. This is carried out by selling billions of dollars of weapons and supplies to the Saudis and their allies which includes Qatar, Morocco, Bahrain, Sudan, Egypt, the UAE, and so on.

However, the Yemeni people reject the internationally-recognized President Hadi and consider him to be a puppet for Saudi Arabian and imperialist interest. Sources on the ground indicate that most of the Saudi-backed forces include many foreign fighters from the UAE and parts of Africa.

Mentioned above, Yemen is very poor with very little resources. However, Yemen includes many important port cities including Aden and Mocha. Resistance control of these ports could drastically alter global trade routes and the flow of capital.

But perhaps most importantly, the US and their allies do not want to lose Yemen to an anti-imperialist resistance government as this could threaten the stability of other western-allied countries– most of whom were not immune to uprisings during the Arab Spring.

The Yemeni people echo the same attitudes as that of Syrians: if only foreign powers could stay out of our country, us Yemeni people could work this out on our own. They want foreign fighters out and they want the Saudi-led aggression to stop.

They also know the west– specifically the United States– is directly to blame.

This article first appeared on GeopoliticsAlert.com and was authored by Randi Nord.

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Pentagon: You Don’t Need To Know How Many Troops We Have In Iraq, Syria

Posted: 31 Mar 2017 11:37 PM PDT

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Will Stop Announcing Official Unit Sizes

Article via Antiwar

Since the first “no boots on the ground” pledges of President Obama, the Pentagon has systematically and repeatedly lied about the number of US ground troops they have in Iraq, deliberately omitting large numbers of troops from the official count by labeling them “temporary.”

Centcom has announced that they are going to end the lying about the number of US troops in those countries. They’re not going to start telling the truth, of course, but rather have decided to stop providing any numbers at all on the matter.

Spokesman Col. John Thomas argued that people don’t need to know the number of US troops that are deployed in the countries, and that the important metric is “capabilities, not numbers.” Of course, the figures the Pentagon was giving were never particularly useful in the first place for reporters, since they were always clearly false.

Officially, per the last figure the Pentagon provided was that exactly 5,262 US troops were in Iraq. This was the formal “cap” on the number of troops that could be in the country, though in practice well over 6,000 US troops are actually there, with more being deployed regularly.

The official troop level deliberately excludes everyone labeled a “temporary” soldier, which includes a large number of troops with open-ended deployment dates, labeled temporary simply to avoid going over the cap at a given time.

This article first appeared on Antiwar.com and was authored by Jason Ditz.

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Pentagon Has Video Proving Mosul Buildings Were Full Of Civilians

Posted: 31 Mar 2017 11:27 PM PDT

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Accuses ISIS of Using Civilians to ‘Provoke’ Attacks

Article via Antiwar

Facing growing criticism over an attack earlier this month that killed hundreds of civilians in Mosul, the Pentagon confirmed that it has video footage of ISIS forcing hundreds of civilians into the destroyed buildings, which they presented as “provoking the attack.

While this is designed to shift some of the blame away from the Pentagon for bombing buildings full of civilians, it appears to actually do the exact opposite: it confirms that the Pentagon knew before the attacks that those buildings were full of civilians, and attacked them anyhow.

ISIS has long been criticized for pushing civilians around and forcing them into various areas, but the fact that civilians were being forced into buildings does not prove that the buildings were of any specific value as a target in the first place, and the Pentagon’s assertion appears to be that putting civilians in there amounted to making the buildings a more tempting target in and of itself.

The huge civilian death toll of the US strikes has been condemned by several human rights groups, unsurprisingly, but the Pentagon’s narrative has rapidly changed from denial, to sheepish admission of “probable” guilt, and now to outright defiance over the fact that they killed so many people.

This article first appeared on Antiwar.com and was authored by Jason Ditz.

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Trump’s Pick For FDA Attempts To Distance Himself From Big Pharma

Posted: 31 Mar 2017 11:00 PM PDT

We Are Change

Critics are calling attention to the relationship between pharmaceutical companies and President Trump’s nominee to the Food and Drug Administration.

Article via Activist Post by Derrick Broze

Dr. Scott Gottlieb is promising to recuse himself from more than 20 companies he is involved with should he be accepted as the head of the Food and Drug Administration. Gottlieb made the promise after his relationship with pharmaceutical corporations became a concern to those who oppose his nomination to the FDA.

In a letter to the ethics head of the Department of Health and Human Services, Gottlieb promised to recuse himself from more than 20 companies in which he is financially involved.

Gottlieb is a physician who was the deputy commissioner at the FDA from 2005 to 2007 under the Bush administration. He currently sits on the board of several small “biopharma” companies and advises GlaxoSmithKline, the sixth largest pharmaceutical company in the world. Gottlieb also works for  venture capital fund New Enterprise Associates and is managing director of investment banking firm TR Winston & Co.

The increased focus on these connections come after a report from the Wall Street Journal revealed details of Gottlieb’s relationship with pharmaceutical companies. According the WSJ, Gottlieb has earned millions of dollars as an executive and in speaking fees and consulting fees from the pharmaceutical industry.

As Fortune notes, “Gottlieb has previously promoted fewer FDA regulations in order to speed up the drug approval process, a goal which has also been strongly endorsed by President Donald Trump.” These conflicts will be explored on April 5 at the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP)  committee’s hearing on Gottlieb’s nomination. Interestingly, Reuters reports that Gottlieb – or whoever the nominee ends up being – would “be responsible for implementing key elements in the recently passed 21st Century Cures Act, which calls on the agency to streamline the drug approval process.”

Implementation of the 21st Century Cures Act points to a deeper purpose for the incoming head of the FDA. For more on that we look to a recent report from Truthstream Media. “The “21st Century Cures Act” – HR 34 – became law in December, 2016 and most people have no idea what it contains,” an Activist Post Editor’s Note states. “Essentially, it redefines what is meant by informed consent. Or, put another way, it expands the ability for Big Pharma to experiment on the population under the assumption that the dangers of vaccines and pharmaceuticals are too minimal for serious consideration.”

Derrick Broze is an investigative journalist and liberty activist. He is the Lead Investigative Reporter for ActivistPost.com and the founder of the TheConsciousResistance.com. Follow him on Twitter. Derrick is the author of three books: The Conscious Resistance: Reflections on Anarchy and Spirituality and Finding Freedom in an Age of Confusion, Vol. 1 and Finding Freedom in an Age of Confusion, Vol. 2

Derrick is available for interviews. Please contact Derrick@activistpost.com

This article may be freely reposted in part or in full with author attribution and source link.

Image Credit: Medscape

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Henry Kissinger’s Food Occupation Of Iraq Continues

Posted: 31 Mar 2017 08:48 PM PDT

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Iraqi agriculture expert Dr. Nakd Altameemi joins Mnar Muhawesh on ‘Behind the Headline’ to discuss the devastating toll that war, sanctions and Western corporations have had on Iraq’s centuries-old agricultural traditions.

Article via Mint Press News by Mnar Muhawesh

The Iraq of today is associated with horrific violence, a refugee crisis and widespread poverty. The images we see flashed across the news show nothing but terror and misery.

But it hasn’t always been this way.

Modern-day Iraq lies in the Fertile Crescent of Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilization where mankind flourished as it developed seed cultivation and its first farming techniques — all nourished by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

Generations of people have tilled the soil there since 8,000 BC, developing the seeds that grew into the many types of wheat seen around the world today.

But centuries of cultivation turned to dust in 2003, when former President George W. Bush invaded the country, planting seeds of war that would be sown for years to come.

Unfortunately, the United States took more than figurative seeds to Iraq.

While about two million civilians were killed as a result of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the war is still ingrained in the U.S. psyche as a humanitarian effort to save the Iraqi people from a brutal dictator.

But what it actually did was pave the way for foreign corporations to descend upon the country and turn a profit on the chaos.

A U.S. Army soldier shares a bag of sunflower seeds with a fellow soldier, as they wait for a helicopter to pick them up in a field of barley nearly ready to harvest, outside Tall Ash Shawr, a village in northwestern Iraq, Monday, May 19, 2003. (AP/Brennan Linsley)

Invasion and Exploitation — Foreign Corporations File In

Following the U.S.’ bombing of Iraq and its capture of Saddam Hussein, the Coalition Provisional Authority was established to serve as the country’s temporary government.

The CPA was headed by Paul Bremer, the former managing director of Kissinger Associates, an influential consulting firm founded by Henry Kissinger, a former secretary of state and war criminal.

It quickly became clear that toppling Saddam wasn’t the U.S.’ only goal. The powers taking control of the Iraqi government were also seeking control of the country’s agriculture industry.

In 2004, Bremer put the “100 Orders” into effect. They were “binding instructions or directives to the Iraqi people that create penal consequences or have a direct bearing on the way Iraqis are regulated, including changes to Iraqi law.”

In other words, Iraqis were told, “Follow our orders or die.”

One order, in particular, had a crippling effect on Iraq’s centuries-long farming and seed cultivation traditions.

Order 81 — the Patents, Industrial Design, Undisclosed Information, Integrated Circuits and Plant Variety Law — gave those who hold patents on certain plant varieties absolute rights over the use of their seeds in Iraq for 20 years.

The order also facilitated the introduction and domination of imported, high-priced corporate-developed seeds, mainly from the U.S. These seeds do not reproduce or produce yields without prescribed chemical fertilizer and pesticide inputs.

This created a major dilemma for Iraqi farmers, as Najma Sadeque wrote in 2012:

“It meant that the majority of farmers who had never spent money on seed and inputs that came free from nature, would henceforth have to heavily invest in corporate inputs and equipment — or go into debt to obtain them, or accept lowered profits, or give up farming altogether.”

Meanwhile, the country’s national seed bank — located, unfortunately, in the infamous city of Abu Ghraib — was destroyed during the 2003 U.S. invasion and subsequent looting, making it another casualty of the Iraq War.

An Iraqi corn broker walks through his supply while preparing it to be shipped to retail markets Monday, Jan. 5, 2004 in a village north of Baghdad. (AP/Julie Jacobson)

Farmers Forced to Pay Fees for Seeds for the first time

Today, because of Order 81, Iraqi farmers who choose to plant patented seeds that come from multinational agribusiness monopolies have to sign agreements that force them to pay a “technology fee” and an annual licensing fee.

If an Iraqi farmer saves seeds to replant in the future — as farmers around the world have done for centuries — they are subject to substantial fines from the seed supplier.

Ultimately, Order 81 and the actions taken by companies like Monsanto and Cargill have ensured that while Iraqis may no longer be under the thumb of Saddam Hussein, they’re trapped in a modern colonial struggle against an occupying force that seeks to control their livelihoods, their food supply and their cultural traditions.

Perhaps this should come as no surprise, considering Bremer’s ties to Kissinger. It was Kissinger who reportedly once said: “Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control the people.”

This type of control over agriculture and food production is a weapon of war and a tool of the oppressor. The U.S. has been using food aid and its role in global food production to advance its own interests since World War I.

Under the postwar trade regime, especially during the Nixon administration, trade pacts like the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade emerged to advance a new global agribusiness export agenda.

Within a decade, the global food cartel was controlled by the U.S.-NATO empire’s most elite families. They started buying up all of the world’s major sources of food and seeds. This is why just a few companies — including Monsanto and Cargill — dominate the world’s grain and cereal supplies.

It’s also why these companies descended on Iraq once the Coalition Provisional Authority created an opening, destroying a once-flourishing agriculture industry. In the process, they destroyed the independence of Iraqi farmers and forced the Iraqi people to rely on foreign corporations for even basic sustenance.

Here to talk more about the struggles of the Iraqi agriculture sector during and after the Iraq War and what the Iraqi government is doing to rebuild the industry, is Dr. Nakd Altameemi.

Dr. Altameemi started his career at Iraq’s Ministry of Agriculture, eventually serving as director general of both Iraq’s State Board for Seed Testing and Certification and the Mesopotamia Seed Company. From 2008 to 2015, he joined the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization as a consultant.

This article first appeared on MintPressNews.com and was authored by Mnar Muhawesh.

The post Henry Kissinger’s Food Occupation Of Iraq Continues appeared first on We Are Change.

Mexican Attorney General Arrested For Drug Trafficking in California

Posted: 31 Mar 2017 04:20 PM PDT

We Are Change

The attorney general for the western Mexican state of Nayarit has been arrested in Southern California on charges of drug trafficking.

Edgar Veytia, 45, who has served as the top law enforcement officer of Nayarit since 2013, was charged in a seven-page, three-count indictment unsealed in New York.

Veytia is accused of having close ties to the Jalisco New Generation (JNG) cartel.

Allegations of ties between the attorney general and the JNG cartel have appeared in Mexican media before, according to the LA Times.

The indictment charges Veyita with conspiracy to manufacture and smuggle cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine to the United States from January 2013 to last month.

Veytia was scheduled to appear in federal court in San Diego yesterday to determine if he is eligible for bail. He returns April 11th for a hearing to determine if he will be transported to New York to face charges.

Attorney Guadalupe Valencia says his client was arrested at the Mexican border and is being held at a San Diego jail. He had no comment on the charges his client is being accused of.

The governor of Nayarit, Roberto Sandoval, said the state government would cooperate with the investigation in Mexico and the U.S. and said he knew nothing about the details of the accusations against Veytia.

“I want to be very clear to the people of Nayarit, men and women, that I will personally take responsibility for security in the state,” Sandoval said. “We will not lower our guard, we will continue to be one of the safest states.”

Veytia was taken into custody Monday at the Cross Border Xpress bridge, which links Tijuana Airport to the United States, U.S. Customs and Border Protection representative Ralph Desio confirmed NBC reported.

According to a report from the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), Nayarit is a major marijuana cultivation area and is a primary methamphetamine production region in Mexico.

JNG declared war on Mexican police in 2015 according to the report by OSAC.

The post Mexican Attorney General Arrested For Drug Trafficking in California appeared first on We Are Change.

What We’re Not Being Told About The First ISIS Terror Plot On U.S. Soil

Posted: 31 Mar 2017 04:15 PM PDT

We Are Change

Article via The Anti-Media by Carey Wedler

As ISIS continues to terrify much of the American populace, a recent investigation by CBS’ 60 Minutes discovered that an undercover FBI agent was involved in an attempted shooting in Garland, Texas, in 2015. That attack, the news outlet reports, was the first major ISIS-linked terror plot to unfold in the United States, but there appears to be much more to the story than was initially reported.

In 2014, two American citizens, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, attempted to open fire on a protest against Islam in Garland. The event, hosted by controversial right-wing, anti-Muslim pundit Pamela Geller, invited attendees to draw the prophet Mohammed, an action considered blasphemy in the Islamic faith.

After opening fire with assault rifles — and before they were able to kill any protesters — both perpetrators, who had declared loyalty to ISIS on Twitter prior to their attempted attack, were stopped by a SWAT team and local police officer Greg Stevens. The SWAT team killed both attackers at the scene, but 60 Minutes recently unearthed several disturbing facts of the case.  As 60 Minutes explained:

In looking into what happened in Garland, we were surprised to discover just how close the FBI was to one of the terrorists. Not only had the FBI been monitoring him for years, there was an undercover agent right behind him when the first shots were fired.”

The FBI had been monitoring Simpson, 34, a Chicago native, after he converted to Islam and moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where he became an active member of the  Islamic Community Center of Phoenix. 60 Minutes interviewed the organization’s president, Usama Shami, who said Simpson was a “well-liked and soft-spoken” member of the community.

Nevertheless, as he began gravitating toward radical Islam, an FBI informant within the mosque began a relationship with him. According to 60 Minutes;

Dabla Deng spent three years pretending to be Simpson’s friend, and was paid $132,000 by the FBI. He taped more than 1,500 hours of their conversations and finally recorded him talking about traveling overseas to wage jihad. Simpson lied to the FBI about it and got three years probation.”

Shami says Simpson became further radicalized when he learned the agency had been surveilling him and that Deng’s friendship was insincere:

When he found out that this guy was spying on him, and taping him and then finding out that the government was doing that, I think something clicked in him. And the mosque, we couldn’t do anything. Because we don’t know what he did,” Shami told 60 Minutes.

Simpson grew alienated from the mosque, eventually moving into an apartment with Soofi. The two became drawn to ISIS during this time, “closely following the rise of ISIS, reaching out to their supporters online, and acquiring weapons for a terrorist attack.”

According to counterterrorism expert Seamus Hughes, they also began communicating with Mohammed Miski, an American ISIS recruiter in Somalia. Hughes “tracks the online activities of ISIS sympathizers in the U.S.” and has also worked at the National Counterterrorism Center.  He currently serves as the deputy director of George Washington University’s “Program On Extremism” and trains FBI agents to recognize homegrown jihadi movements.

Hughes says the two men also began speaking with Junaid Hussain, an “ISIS rock star” of British origin who was later killed by a drone strike in Iraq. Clearly, the two men were radicalized. But as 60 Minutes reports:

The FBI closed the case on Elton Simpson in 2014, only to re-open it several weeks before the attack because of statements he made on social media.”

While this lapse in scrutiny could easily be chalked up to incompetence within the FBI, Hughes notes the difficulty of tracking potentially dangerous individuals. “It speaks to a larger problem the FBI has, which is you have an individual who pops into your radar in 2006, but doesn’t commit an attack until 2015,” he said. “So do you want the FBI to watch this individual for nine years?

Regardless, after the attack, the FBI began investigating Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem, a Muslim convert who grew up in Philadelphia. The FBI believed he funded and encouraged the Garland attack and helped train Simpson and Soofi.

Though Kareem denied these charges, witnesses at his trial indicated otherwise, and he was sentenced to thirty years in prison. But his attorney, Dan Maynard, kept digging. As Maynard told 60 Minutes:

After the trial we found out that they had had an undercover agent who had been texting with Simpson, less than three weeks before the attack, to him ‘Tear up Texas.’ Which to me was an encouragement to Simpson.”

Maynard was referencing an undercover agent posing as a radical. 60 Minutes explained:

The government sent attorney Dan Maynard 60 pages of declassified encrypted messages between the agent and Elton Simpson – and argued ‘Tear up Texas’ was not an incitement. But Simpson’s response was incriminating, referring to the attack against cartoonists at the French magazine Charlie Hebdo: ‘bro, you don’t have to say that…’ He wrote ‘you know what happened in Paris… so that goes without saying. No need to be direct.’

That agent also traveled to Garland and was present as the attack unfolded. “In an affidavit filed in another case,” 60 Minutes notes, “the government disclosed that the FBI undercover agent had actually ‘traveled to Garland, Texas, and was present… at the event.’”

I was shocked. I mean I was shocked that the government hadn’t turned this over. I wanted to know when did he get there, why was he there?” Maynard said.

As it turned out, the agent was in a car directly behind Simpson and Soofi when they started shooting and had taken a photo of Officer Greg Stevens and security guard Bruce Joiner before the two extremists started shooting. Rather than attempting to stop the attack, he fled the scene.

Maynard says that given the opportunity, he would ask the agent several questions:

Are these the only communications that you had with Simpson? Did you have more communications with Simpson? How is it that you ended up coming to Garland, Texas? Why are you even there?

So far, the FBI has declined requests for comment, simply issuing a statement claiming they had no prior knowledge of the attack before it happened.

Maynard believes the story would be much more high-profile had people actually died in the attack. But the series of events remains suspicious.

“I can’t tell you whether the FBI knew the attack was gonna occur. I don’t like to think that they let it occur,” Maynard cautioned. “But it is shocking to me that an undercover agent sees fellas jumping out of a car and he drives on. I find that shocking.

The agent was eventually stopped at gunpoint by local police as he was fleeing Garland. His identity remains anonymous.

It is currently impossible to know whether the agent acted on his own or was following orders from higher-ups when he arguably incited Simpson and Soofi. It is publicly known that the FBI helps plot terror attacks by putting informants in contact with often unstable individual prone to extremism. They encourage these individuals to wage attacks, however, they tend to foil the plots before they actually unfold.

In this case, the undercover agent did no such thing, leaving Stevens, Joiner, and a SWAT team to halt the two men before they could kill anyone — and leaving many questions as to what actually occurred.

As Maynard observed, “He didn’t try to stop ‘em. Or he didn’t do something. I mean, he’s an agent, for gosh sakes.

Creative Commons / Anti-Media / Report a typo

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WikiLeaks Releases Documents Proving CIA Hackers Can Use Russia As Scapegoat

Posted: 31 Mar 2017 04:11 PM PDT

We Are Change

WikiLeaks published their latest Vault 7 release today – 676 files code-named ‘Marble’, which details CIA hacking techniques and how they can misdirect forensic investigators from attributing viruses, trojans and worms to their agency by using the source code of other languages as a scapegoat – in other words false flag cyber attacks.

CIA’s “Marble Framework” shows its hackers use potential decoy languages https://t.co/Hm3pTPSXIS

Background: https://t.co/GsoN4BuyTz pic.twitter.com/ZT66doCnfY

— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) March 31, 2017

WikiLeaks said Marble hides fragments of texts that would allow for the author of the malware to be identified. WikiLeaks stated the technique is the digital equivalent of a specialized CIA tool which disguises English language text on U.S. produced weapons systems before they are provided to insurgents.

It’s “designed to allow for flexible and easy-to-use obfuscation” as “string obfuscation algorithms” often link malware to a specific developer, according to the release from WikiLeaks.

The source code released reveals Marble contains examples in Chinese, Russian, Korean, Arabic and Farsi.

“This would permit a forensic attribution double game, for example by pretending that the spoken language of the malware creator was not American English, but Chinese, but then showing attempts to conceal the use of Chinese, drawing forensic investigators even more strongly to the wrong conclusion,” WikiLeaks explains, “But there are other possibilities, such as hiding fake error messages.”

Additionally, the code contains a ‘deobfuscator’ which allows the CIA’s obfuscated text to be reversed. “Combined with the revealed obfuscation techniques, a pattern or signature emerges which can assist forensic investigators attribute previous hacking attacks and viruses to the CIA.”

In a previous Vault7 release the CIA’s ability to mask its hacking fingerprints was revealed.

[RELATED: A CIA Cyber False Flag]

WikiLeaks claims the latest release will allow for thousands of viruses and hacking attacks to be attributed to the CIA.

Full press release below:

“Today, March 31st 2017, WikiLeaks releases Vault 7 “Marble” — 676 source code files for the CIA’s secret anti-forensic Marble Framework. Marble is used to hamper forensic investigators and anti-virus companies from attributing viruses, trojans and hacking attacks to the CIA.

Marble does this by hiding (“obfuscating”) text fragments used in CIA malware from visual inspection. This is the digital equivallent of a specalized CIA tool to place covers over the english language text on U.S. produced weapons systems before giving them to insurgents secretly backed by the CIA.

Marble forms part of the CIA’s anti-forensics approach and the CIA’s Core Library of malware code. It is “[D]esigned to allow for flexible and easy-to-use obfuscation” as “string obfuscation algorithms (especially those that are unique) are often used to link malware to a specific developer or development shop.

The Marble source code also includes a deobfuscator to reverse CIA text obfuscation. Combined with the revealed obfuscation techniques, a pattern or signature emerges which can assist forensic investigators attribute previous hacking attacks and viruses to the CIA. Marble was in use at the CIA during 2016. It reached 1.0 in 2015.

The source code shows that Marble has test examples not just in English but also in Chinese, Russian, Korean, Arabic and Farsi. This would permit a forensic attribution double game, for example by pretending that the spoken language of the malware creator was not American English, but Chinese, but then showing attempts to conceal the use of Chinese, drawing forensic investigators even more strongly to the wrong conclusion, — but there are other possibilities, such as hiding fake error messages.

The Marble Framework is used for obfuscation only and does not contain any vulnerabilties or exploits by itself.”

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Two Journalists Sue Trump, Seek To Be Removed From Obama’s Federal Kill List

Posted: 31 Mar 2017 03:42 PM PDT

We Are Change

Two journalists have recently filed a lawsuit against some top U.S. officials, including President Trump, Secretary Mattis, Attorney General Sessions, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, and even the Departments of Justice, Defense, and Homeland Security as they claim they’ve been identified as persons “being targeted for death.”


The alleged ‘Kill List’ had once been put down by some officials in Washington, but it seems that now this topic is widely known and accepted as reality. Ex-CIA director said in 2012 that only “very most senior officials” mark people for death. The New York Times furthermore reported five years ago on how this process works:

“Every week or so, more than 100 members of the government’s sprawling national security apparatus gather, by secure video teleconference, to pore over terrorist suspects’ biographies and recommend to the president who should be the next to die.”

Journalists sue Trump over ‘kill list’ designations: report https://t.co/FyJXbN6PEF

— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) March 31, 2017

When Trump was elected into office, one of the first things he did was give the CIA power to conduct drone strikes, making it easier for the agency to kill suspected ‘terrorists.’

Now, two journalists placed on the kill list by the Obama administration are afraid for their lives, believing that they will be one of the next names called as drone bombings continue. As the lawsuit states, neither of these men claim to be involved with any sort of militant or terrorist activity, and both of them are journalists who put themselves in questionable situations to report the facts.

These men, Ahmad Zaidan and Bilal Kareem, are now hoping that U.S. courts can help them receive the peace of mind that they won’t be killed by the U.S. government. Questionable circumstances alongside algorithms used to identify terrorists are what they claim have caused them to be included on the kill list.

For example, Zaidan is a Syrian and Pakistani journalist who works for Al Jazeera and interviewed Osama Bin Laden on multiple occasions, once in the presence of several alleged senior al-Qaeda officials. The lawsuit states that “Zaidan regularly investigates and reports on terrorism and its causes,” painting the picture of an innocent civilian who wants to tackle the issue of terrorism.

Kareem, on the other hand, is a U.S. citizen who has worked for several mainstream media outlets, including CNN, BBC, and also Al Jazeera. In 2012, he traveled to Syria to report on the situation there. The lawsuit says the “during the past year, Kareem has narrowly avoided being killed by five separate air strikes, at least one of which was carried out by a drone.” Detailed descriptions of these alleged failed attacks can be seen in the lawsuit.

Kareem and Zaidan seek a ruling that their inclusion on the kill list was the result of “arbitrary and capricious agency action,” and/or a statement that it is unconstitutional, a chance to challenge their inclusion on the kill list, and/or be removed from the list altogether.

The post Two Journalists Sue Trump, Seek To Be Removed From Obama’s Federal Kill List appeared first on We Are Change.

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