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Nestle’s $624 Permit To Pump Millions Of Gallons Of Water From National Forest Sparks Protest


Nestle’s $624 Permit To Pump Millions Of Gallons Of Water From National Forest Sparks Protest

Posted: 05 Apr 2017 10:59 AM PDT

We Are Change

On Sunday, protests emerged in California regarding the 4.5-mile water pipeline Nestle has built in the San Bernardino National Forest. The protest emerges after a drought has plagued the state for over a year. As the National Drought Mitigation Center illustrates, the drought has started to reach controllable levels, yet the San Bernardino Valley still faces drought conditions.

As reported by AZcentral, one protestor said that “the water is on National Forest Service land, it belongs to all people. This is everyone is California’s water… and an international corporation is stealing it and selling back to us for billions.”

Many have pointed out that Nestle was using a permit that expired in 1988 for over a decade. A federal judge later ruled that the expired permit is still valid because the company’s predecessor had inquired about receiving a new permit, and never received a response from the Forest Service. Reports indicate that this was later reviewed by the Forest Service in 2016, and Nestle was proposed a five-year permit extension.

According to the Nestle website, they harvested around 64 million gallons of water from 2014-2015 from the San Bernardino Forest. The Desert Sun reports that Nestle harvested another 32 million gallons in 2016. That is 96 million gallons in only three years.

Nestle apparently only pays around $624 a year for the right to harvest water from the land. Regardless, it seems that no matter the legal status of Nestle’s permit to commit these actions, it will be up to the people to pressure local officials if they want Nestle’s permit revoked.

It is easy to understand why activists are so upset. It appears that harvesting groundwater during a drought is considerably dangerous for the environment. Officials from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory seem to agree. In a study published by NASA, they illustrate that various parts of California are actually sinking because of over-extraction of groundwater. The Tulare Basin, for example, has sunk 22 inches during the drought.

However, the NASA study doesn’t show any significant subsidence in the San Bernardino Valley. As the Nestle website states, they have been bottling water at the site for over 121 years, under the most senior water rights established in the state.

What do you think about this situation? Let us know in the comments below.

The post Nestle’s $624 Permit To Pump Millions Of Gallons Of Water From National Forest Sparks Protest appeared first on We Are Change.

Update: Bannon Responds To Removal From Trump’s National Security Council

Posted: 05 Apr 2017 09:02 AM PDT

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Update: Rebel Media’s Jack Posobiec tweeted that Steve Bannon had this to say about his removal from the National Security Council – “Susan Rice operationalized the National Security Council. I de-operationalized it.”

Steve Bannon statement: “Susan Rice operationalized the National Security Council. I de-operationalized it” pic.twitter.com/FF6gtLSLyP

— Jack Posobiec ?? (@JackPosobiec) April 5, 2017

President Donald Trump reorganized his National Security Council (NSC) on Wednesday, removing his controversial chief strategist, Steve Bannon, and lowering the role of his Homeland Security Adviser, Tom Bossert.

BREAKING: Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon removed from National Security Council – White House official

— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) April 5, 2017

A filing in the federal registry showed Bannon was no longer listed as a regular attendee of NSC “principals committee” meetings.

A White House official reportedly said Bannon was on the NSC to monitor Trump’s first National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, and never attended an official meeting.

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster was given responsibility for setting the agenda for meetings of the NSC and was further authorized to delegate authority to Bossert, at his own discretion, according to the filing.

This move by Trump reverses his earlier decision to downgrade the roles of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of national intelligence.

Bannon’s inclusion from the NSC was spun as shocking and met with criticism from some lawmakers and security experts.

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BREAKING: Suicide Bomber Targets Population Census Team in Lahore, Pakistan

Posted: 05 Apr 2017 01:38 AM PDT

We Are Change

Police are investigating a deadly attack targeting a census team and soldiers guarding them in Lahore, Pakistan Wednesday Morning.

At least four of those confirmed dead were soldiers guarding the census team. Twenty-two others were wounded in the bombing. A team carrying out Pakistan’s first census in just under 20 years was the primary target of the attack.

Authorities had sealed off the area on Bedian Road in the capital of the Punjab province after the blast. Rescue officials claim the attack occurred just before 8:00 am local time.

The attack on Wednesday Morning was executed amid a coinciding wave of bombings allegedly caused by Islamic radicals in recent weeks. At present no militant organisation has come forward to take responsibility for the latest attack, though Pakistani Taliban are suspected.

Khwaja Imran Nazir, the provincial health minister in the Punjab province, had recently confirmed the death toll while speaking to field reporters outside the hospital.

“The target seems to be the census team and the soldiers guarding them,” Malik Ahmed Khan, a spokesperson for the provincial government, told local television news channel Geo.

“Sacrifice of precious lives of civil enumerators and soldiers is beyond any doubt a great sacrifice,” Pakistan’s Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa added in a statement. He withheld information about the number of soldiers killed in the bombing.
“Conduct of Census will be completed at any cost,” he added.

Pakistan’s Bureau of Statistics started its first population census since 1998 last month. They worked with the military, which has deployed 200,000 troops to give security for the census. Approximately 119,000 government employees are taking part in the exercise, acting as enumerators for the activity.

This comes as the second attack in Lahore in the last two months. At least ten people were killed after an explosion tore through an upmarket area of Lahore in February. A car bomb exploded in a market in a mainly Shia area of Pakistan’s Parachinar region last week. 22 were killed, and 57 injured. This attack was claimed by Pakistani Taliban.

 

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World Rushes To Blame Assad After Another Chemical Attack In Syria

Posted: 05 Apr 2017 01:02 AM PDT

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Article via Geopolitics Alert by Jim Carey

The western media went into a frenzy yesterday starting yet another smear campaign. This time accusing the Syrian Army of using chemical weapons in Idlib. The problem is the accusation doesn’t hold up to even half hearted scrutiny.

Reports broke this morning concerning a chemical weapons attack in Idlib. Which the western powers have already begun blaming on the government of Bashar Assad; after less than half a day of investigation. The EU and Israel also joined in making these accusations with the US.

The west bases these claims on reports coming from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), and the notorious al Qaeda allied White Helmets. The US media still pretends the White Helmets are an impartial group. But they have recently begun to acknowledge that the SOHR is biased in favor of “the opposition.”

The Syrian General Command of the Army and Armed Forces issued a statement earlier today denying these claims.

Command agency’s statement said:

“The armed terrorist groups used to accuse the Syrian Arab Army of using toxic gases against them groups or against civilians in anytime they fail to implement the targets of their sponsors and operators or when they are unable to achieve any advantages on the ground in an desperate attempt to justify their failure and to maintain the support of their supporters.”

The White Helmets of course fit into the designation of terrorists– or at least terrorist sympathizers– and they are the group most vocally claiming that Sarin gas was used in the attack. However, the photos they released of their response to this deadly nerve agent show them treating the victims with none of the proper safety gear and remaining unharmed.

It’s strange that the international community is jumping on board with the accusations. Especially since it was the UN who declared in 2013 that the Syrian government no longer possessed and chemical weapons. The narrative blaming the attack on Assad also runs counter the the multiple documented incidents of chemical weapon stockpiles found in formerly “rebel” held Syrian territories.

Some reports also state chemical weapons were dropped from Russian jets in the area. However Russian officials released a statement denying this accusation along with evidence that their forces weren’t even operating in Idlib at the time of the attack.

International Response

Of course these denials and evidence aren’t enough to make the international community go back on their accusations.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for further intervention by western powers in Syria. Saying the “chemical weapons need to be removed” again apparently. Israel has already interfered in Syria recently. So it should come as no surprise that Netanyahu would seek another justification to back-up his recent violations of his neighbor’s airspace.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer agrees with this. Spicer blamed the chemical attack on the Obama administration’s weakness for failing to remove chemical weapons to begin with. This is despite the fact that Russia oversaw the process.

These accusations obviously aren’t occurring in a bubble. The events surrounding Syria right now should also be examined. The reports on crimes of the Syrian government seem to occur more frequently as the Syrian army racks up more victories every day.

There has also been a strange shift from the Trump administration, announced by UN envoy Nikki Haley last week, that toppling Assad was no longer the number one priority. This statement doesn’t matter that much when you take into consideration that the US forces, in Syria illegally, were still making plans to partition the country and take power from Damascus.

The statements by Spicer today, as well as an apparent reversal by Haley who said yesterday that “the Syrian people don’t want Assad as a leader,” seem to indicate that there isn’t any actual change in US policy. Despite what the Trump administration said at the end of last week, it looks like this week is beginning with business as usual.


This article first appeared on GeopoliticsAlert.com and was authored by Jim Carey.

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U.S. Launched More Airstrikes In Yemen Last Month Than In All Of 2016

Posted: 05 Apr 2017 12:07 AM PDT

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Pentagon Spokesman Says US Will Continue Strikes

Article via Antiwar

The US never really stopped launching airstrikes in Yemen, but during the early part of the Saudi invasion, they certain reduced the number of direct US strikes. They seem to be picking up the pace substantially, with the Pentagon saying more than 70 strikes were launched just in March.

The Pentagon described this as nearly double the number of US strikes in Yemen in all of the previous year, saying they will “continue to target al-Qaeda in Yemen,” claiming the group poses a “significant threat to the United States” and needed to be disrupted.

Deletes on what the US actually targeted in most of those strikes was unclear, with a handful of individual strikes reportedly aimed at targets in the mountains. Two children were reported killed in one of the strikes, and several other civilians were wounded in other strikes.

A number of Pentagon figures have been pushing in the past couple of weeks for further escalation of US involvement in the Saudi war in Yemen as well, arguing it is a “vital” US interest to ensure the Saudis crush the Shi’ite Houthi movement. Since the White House seems to be signing off on most escalations these days, this past month’s airstrikes could be a sign of things to come.


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

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The Election Interference We Should Be Talking About Wasn’t Done By Russia

Posted: 04 Apr 2017 11:43 PM PDT

We Are Change

Article via The Anti-Media by Darius Shahtahmasebi

On February 7, 2014, the BBC published a transcript of a bugged phone conversation between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt. The media reports that followed the leak distracted audiences from the actual content of the phone call, focusing instead on Nuland’s crass statement, “Fuck the EU.”

If the media had done its job, a simple analysis of the phone call would have revealed something wholly controversial about the Ukrainian crisis: the U.S. was handpicking who they wanted to form Ukraine’s government after its former president, Viktor Yanukovych, was ousted from power.

“Good. I don’t think Klitsh should go into the government. I don’t think it’s necessary, I don’t think it’s a good idea,” Nuland said in the call.

Pyatt responded:

“Yeah. I guess… in terms of him not going into the government, just let him stay out and do his political homework and stuff. I’m just thinking in terms of sort of the process moving ahead we want to keep the moderate democrats together. The problem is going to be Tyahnybok [Oleh Tyahnybok, the other opposition leader] and his guys and I’m sure that’s part of what [President Viktor] Yanukovych is calculating on all this.

Nuland added:

“I think Yats is the guy who’s got the economic experience, the governing experience. He’s the… what he needs is Klitsch and Tyahnybok on the outside. He needs to be talking to them four times a week, you know. I just think Klitsch going in… he’s going to be at that level working for Yatseniuk, it’s just not going to work.

According to a cable obtained by Wikileaks, Yanukovych’s successor, Petro Poroshenko, previously worked as a mole for the U.S. State Department. The State Department even referred to Poroshenko as “our Ukrainian insider.” He currently has a 17 percent approval rating.

What this amounts to is tangible and credible evidence that the U.S. interfered or attempted to interfere in a government that borders Russia in order to remove a pro-Russian leader and replace him with a very well-established American puppet. History shows that Ukraine is no exception to this American habit, as there is documented evidence to show the U.S. has interfered overtly and covertly in the governments of Guatemala, Congo, Dominican Republic, South Vietnam, Brazil, Chile, Hawaii, Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Honduras, Panama, Grenada, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran, to name a few.

These are undisputed facts of history. In fact, these events are so common that no one seems to give the incidents so much as an afterthought. Despite this evidence, the media is unironically claiming it was Russia that interfered in American politics to promote a pro-Russian candidate and have him take control of the White House.

Since Trump was elected at the end of 2016, we have seen story after story, headline after headline, and rabbit hole after rabbit hole alleging that somehow, Russia was able to “hack” the election and bolster support for Trump, which eventually culminated in Trump’s victory.

So, let’s review the evidence for these claims.

There is none — and if there is, it still hasn’t been made public.

Is there a leaked phone call of Trump and/or Putin? No.

Considering the CIA and other intelligence agencies’ long reach and incredible resources, is there any evidence to show Russia hacked the election — or that they interfered at all with a view of promoting Trump?

No.

This is a direct quote from BBC on this topic from as recently as last week:

“So far, no single piece of evidence has been made public proving that the Trump campaign joined with Russia to steal the US presidency – nothing.

No one even seems to be remotely concerned with the illogical and overly imaginative effluvium contaminating this story. Clinton’s election campaign had the backing of 57 of America’s 100 largest newspapers. Globally, she had the backing of 500 outlets; Trump had the support of a mere 26. The Clinton Foundation received substantial donations from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two known financial supporters of the terror group ISIS. Even the New Zealand government donated millions of taxpayer dollars to Clinton.

Despite this overwhelming worldwide support, anti-Russian conspiracy theorists are convinced Russia was somehow able to hack the election and portray Hillary Clinton as an untrustworthy, pathological liar — and as a result, gift the election win over to Trump.

But Clinton earned her detestable reputation all by herself — without Russian interference. Further, it was actually Clinton’s election strategy to “elevate” Trump in the first place, not Russia’s. This, in essence, gave him free airtime and ultimately underestimated how popular he was going to be with the American public.

Finally, Clinton still won the popular vote by a considerable margin. Did the Russian strategy of “hacking” the election and boosting Trump factor this into account, as well? Was Russia able to strategically generate the support required from each of the states needed to win the election and discount the popular vote? How would that have even worked?

There is an overwhelming amount of evidence to suggest that if the DNC hadn’t purposely killed Bernie Sanders’ campaign, Trump would never have won the election in the first place. Russia did not kill Sanders’ campaign — Clinton’s backers did. Even now, a recent poll conducted by Fox News suggests Sanders is currently the most popular American politician.

And what does promulgating this particular narrative achieve in the long run? As Foreign Affairs notes, the propaganda does not always work in favor of those who perpetuate it:

“It seemed clever when Hillary Clinton pounced on Trump as ‘Putin’s puppet.’ But apparently it didn’t resonate much with ordinary Americans, who elected Trump, and neither does the pettiness and demonization of Putin resonate with ordinary Russians.”

Even now, as former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has offered to testify before the House and Senate intelligence committees in exchange for immunity from prosecution, the narrative still retains a non-story quality to it. Consider this excerpt from Vox:

“The implication is that Flynn has vital information about the ties between Trump and Russia, and that he did some questionable stuff while working for the Trump team. Thus, it would be in the public’s interest for Congress to grant Flynn immunity so he could explain what he did — and how many others in the campaign were involved.

“Here’s the catch: We have no idea what, if anything, Flynn actually has.” [emphasis added]

The irony of Michael Flynn’s position is that the intelligence community actually ousted him from Trump’s government.

Beware a lack of evidence of Russia’s non-interference, though — Putin is the real enemy. The CIA, on the other hand — the entity that has considerable, documented reach to interfere in countless governments across the globe, as well as the reach to interfere in its own government well, they don’t pose a threat to anyone.


Opinion / Creative Commons / Anti-Media / Report a typo

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Unfortunately, You Can’t Buy Congress’ Internet History

Posted: 04 Apr 2017 07:22 PM PDT

We Are Change

After Congress voted to kill broadband privacy protections, the internet has been abuzz with several people running misleading campaigns to buy Congress’ internet history.

As it turns out, you cannot buy the internet histories of Congress.

One of the more noteworthy campaigns was launched by actor Misha Collins, who setup a GoFundMe to collect funds to “buy Congress’ internet history.”

“Congress recently voted to strip Americans of their privacy rights by voting for SJR34, a resolution that allows Internet Service Providers to collect, and sell your sensitive data without your consent or knowledge. Since Congress has made our privacy a commodity, let’s band together to buy THEIR privacy.

This GoFundMe will pay to purchase the data of every Congressperson who voted for SJR34 and to make it publicly available.

PS: No, we won’t “doxx” people. We will not share information that will impact the safety & security of their families (such as personal addresses). However, all other details are fair game. It says so right in the resolution that they voted to approve.

Game on, Congress,” the campaign said.

Collins isn’t the only crowdfunding campaign trying to collect money to purchase Congress’ internet history. There is another one entitled “Purchase Private Internet Histories,” ran by Adam McElhaney.

By Tuesday afternoon between the two campaigns, Collins raised $85,674 and McElhaney raised $202,171.

We aren’t accusing these two particular campaigns of scamming, they are likely just misinformed, but there are probably other campaigns out there scamming people– so be careful.

There is no way to buy anyone’s browsing history. You cannot just walk up to the doors of an internet service provider (ISP) and request the service history of whoever you want, according to Techdirt.

“The answer to this nonsensical question – that falls in the category of FAKE NEWS – is a flat-out NO,” Verizon spokesman Rich Young said in an email to USNews. “This is nothing more than worthless dribble bouncing around on the internet.”

The law that Congress recently passed, SJR34, is for advertiser targeting. What it allows is for ISPs to collect and sell data to other companies. This means your personal browsing habits enable tailoring ads towards you.

For example, if you recently visited websites about puppies and kittens, you are more likely to get advertisements about food for pets.

The ad exchange, or any of the advertisers, know nothing about you besides your IP address, location, and the previous web pages your browser visited. Essentially, these are smart ads customized for each individual person so that web owners aren’t buying ads and losing revenue because the consumer isn’t interested in what is displayed on their screen.

While IP addresses could essentially be tied back to citizens along with the data, this scenario still depends on a number of factors, such as is it a static IP address or a dynamic IP address, and how many people are in the household using the internet?

The Telecommunications Act explicitly prohibits the sharing of “individually identifiable” customer information except under very specific circumstances.

The main thing to take away from this is that no one is out there bidding on your internet history connected to your IP address in a nice little package wrapped up in a silver bow. I would worry more about the NSA watching you fap or learning that you’re eating a burrito and have a fat woman fetish.

If you are really that concerned, consider using Tor anonymizing browser or a VPN (virtual private network) to keep that activity encrypted and hidden. Although, you need to trust your VPN provider not to track you and sell your data itself, which is a lot easier when it’s all bundled on a server.

The post Unfortunately, You Can’t Buy Congress’ Internet History appeared first on We Are Change.

Fake News Exposed: CNN Just Lied To A National Audience, Here’s The Proof

Posted: 04 Apr 2017 05:53 PM PDT

We Are Change

CNN reporter Don Lemon threw any semblance of credibility he had in the trash recently, as he and his network tried to deny that former National Security Advisor Susan Rice was caught unmasking and spying on Donald Trump’s team.

While fumbling his words, this is what Lemon said:

“Let us be very clear about this: there is no evidence whatsoever that the Trump team surveilled, or spied on, or was spied on illegally. There is no evidence that backs up the President’s original claim, and on this program tonight we will not insult your intelligence by pretending otherwise. Nor will we aid and [unintelligible] the people who are trying to misinform you, the American people, by creating a diversion.”

When Lemon is talking about “the President’s original claim,” he is referencing President Trump’s allegations that Obama tapped his phones during the election:

How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017

This wasn’t all that Don Lemon said that wasn’t true, he also claimed that “last week it was a debunked talking point that former Obama administration official Evelyn Farkas admitted spying on the Trump team, she did no such thing.

[RELATED: OBAMA ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ADMITS OBAMA WAS SPYING ON TRUMP]

Yes, She Did Do That

The Trump administration seems very convinced that Obama was spying on him during the election season, but let’s not take their word for it. Contrary to what Don Lemon claims, Farkas did admit to knowledge of Obama’s administration spying on the Trump team. In fact, she specifically said that:

“if they found out how we knew what we knew about their the staff, the Trump staff, dealing with Russians, that they would try to compromise those sources and methods”

If members of the Obama administration are admittedly gathering intelligence on the Trump staff, to the point where the Trump staff are not aware, and the Obama officials are furthermore afraid that the Trump team would later “try to compromise those sources and methods” they are engaged in spying, as defined in the dictionary. Espionage, by the way, is a criminal act.

We cannot yet confirm whether espionage was done specifically by means of wiretapping, as asserted by President Trump, but Farkas’ comments will continue to echo into history as the investigation behind these allegations continues.

Don Lemon Puts Words In Donald Trump’s Mouth

Lemon also denigrated House Intel Committee Chairman Devin Nunes for speaking on that there was evidence that President Trump had been spied on by the Obama administration.

“The week before that it was representative Devin Nunes’ clumsy effort to give the President cover for wiretapping claims. The president said he was vindicated by Nunes. He was not.

Of course, Lemon is referencing Devin Nunes’ effort to receive information on surveillance and unmasking, which he then relayed to President Trump. Trump said that he was “somewhat” vindicated by Nunes’ briefing.

President Trump on if he feels vindicated by Rep. Devin Nunes’ comments: “I somewhat do” https://t.co/sSuuMDzzfdhttps://t.co/5oGGN1zocj

— CNN (@CNN) March 22, 2017

Lemon Claims Susan Rice Allegations Are Proven Wrong By An Opinion Column

Lemon also seems to think that the unmasking allegations against Susan Rice are untrue altogether, citing a Washington Post opinion column as alleged proof of his claim. The opinion column asserts that President Trump is lying and perpetuating the story. It doesn’t offer any sort of definitive proof, because after all, it’s an opinion column.

To see Lemon’s full remarks, watch the video below:

 

The post Fake News Exposed: CNN Just Lied To A National Audience, Here’s The Proof appeared first on We Are Change.

VIDEO: What You Need To Know About The Susan Rice Scandal

Posted: 04 Apr 2017 04:57 PM PDT

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As CNN anchors Don Lemon, Jim Sciutto and others try to push the Susan Rice scandal under the rug, the internet answers back.

In this video, Luke Rudkowski showcases the latest information you need to know about the Susan Rice scandal and its implications on possible legal action against the Obama administration.


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U.S.-Led Coalition Already Using Idlib Chemical Attack As Pretext For War In Syria

Posted: 04 Apr 2017 04:19 PM PDT

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A deadly chemical attack was carried out in northwestern Syria’s Idlib Province early Tuesday, killing at least 58 people. The United States and its allies have been quick to blame Syria’s government for orchestrating the attack, despite a significant lack of proof.

Article via MintPress News by Whitney Webb

After an unsuccessful attempt to blame the Syrian government for a 2013 gas attack in Ghouta that was most likely carried out by al-Qaeda’s Al-Nusra Front, the U.S.-led coalition’s pretext for a military intervention in Syria to oust President Bashar al-Assad has largely crumbled as Russian diplomats were able to negotiate a deal with the United Nations on behalf of their Syrian allies.

Nearly four years later, history seems to be repeating itself, with Syria’s government being accused, once again by NATO allies, of carrying out yet another chemical weapons attack in al-Qaeda-held Idlib Province. The attack has left at least 58 dead.

But this time the stakes are higher, as the U.S.-led coalition has recently deployed thousands of troops in Syria that are set to remain long after Daesh and other terrorist groups are eradicated. To make matters worse, Vitaly Churkin, the Russian UN envoy who helped negotiate the 2013 agreement and prevent U.S.-led military intervention, lies dead under still -undisclosed circumstances. With coalition members already accusing the Syrian government of violating the 2013 agreement, it appears that the specter of foreign military intervention in the embattled nation may again be on the table, threatening the peace conference regarding Syria set to begin today in Brussels.

For the U.S. and its allies, the timing couldn’t be better to finalize their regime change operation in Syria – an operation that has been documented for over 25 years.

This photo provided Tuesday, April 4, 2017 by the Syrian anti-government activist group Edlib Media Center, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows victims of a suspected chemical attack, in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, northern Idlib province, Syria. The suspected chemical attack killed dozens of people on Tuesday, Syrian opposition activists said, describing the attack as among the worst in the country’s six-year civil war. (Edlib Media Center, via AP)

A familiar pattern

News broke early Tuesday morning of yet another tragedy in the nearly six-year-long “civil war” in Syria, this time in the northwestern province of Idlib, where a chemical gas attack is estimated to have killed 58 people, including 11 children, according to multiple media reports. Two groups – the White Helmets and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights – have blamed the Syrian government for the attack.

The Syrian Army has flatly denied the charges, stating that the army “has not and does not use [chemical weapons], not in the past and not in the future, because it does not have them in the first place” – a reference to the 2013 agreement whereby the Syrian government dismantled its chemical weapon stores as part of the accord that avoided U.S.-led military intervention.

However, mainstream media reports along with Western nations are already adopting the accusations against the Syrian government as fact. In a near-repeat of 2013, these nations seem unwilling to confirm such grave accusations before taking action, seemingly content to take the words of these two groups as sound despite significant evidence pointing to their disrepute.

Both of the groups who have blamed Assad’s forces for the attack have come under fire repeatedly for their ties to pro-intervention institutions, NATO-allied governments and even al-Qaeda – all of whom who have a stake in regime change.

The White Helmets, for instance, were founded by a former British army officer turned mercenary and frequently worked with Purpose, Inc. – a George Soros-funded PR firm that has been pushing for Western intervention in Syria for years. They also receive millions in funding from Western governments, including 23 million dollars from the U.S., and operate almost exclusively in areas held by al-Nusra Front, a Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate, with whom they have collaborated with on a regular basis. They have been caught on camerafacilitating public executions of civilians in Aleppo and elsewhere.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) is equally dubious, but for different reasons. Unlike the White Helmets, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights consists of just one man, an anti-Assad Syrian national by the name of Rami Abdul-Rahman who lives in the United Kingdom. Abdul-Rahman’s “sources” in Syria, from which he receives his information regarding the war, are anonymous and never recorded – thus making them completely unverifiable.

It was these same two groups who provided much of the “intelligence” that was used to blame the Syrian government for the 2013 attack in Ghouta. But once the media frenzy and manufactured outrage in the West had died down, it emerged that the Syrian army was not the likely culprit behind the attack and that it had instead been carried out by al-Qaeda-linked rebels in the area.

A year later in 2014, former UN weapons inspector Richard Lloyd and Professor Theodore Postol of MITpublished a report that found that the intelligence used to blame Assad’s forces for the attack was grossly inaccurate. A few months later, Pulitzer Prize award-winning journalist Seymour Hersch confirmed that the al-Nusra rebels in Ghouta had the means, motive and opportunity to carry out the attack themselves. On separate occasions, al-Nusra was confirmed to have used chemical weapons against civilians.

Just like Ghouta, Idlib is dominated by al-Nusra. Earlier this year, even the Washington Post admitted that Idlib’s “moderate” rebels had all but been replaced by al-Nusra and other terrorist factions in Syria. Aron Lund of the Century Foundation told the Post that “Idlib is now basically being abandoned to the jihadis. This might be the end of the opposition as understood by the opposition’s backers abroad. They won’t have any reason to support it.”

If Western governments and media outlets repeat the mistakes of 2013 by not verifying the claims made by the White Helmets or the one-man show at SOHR, they may very well end up offering these extremist groups support if they prematurely choose to retaliate against Assad before the dust can settle.

Framed by a a tapestry reproduction of Pablo Picasso’s Guernica and member state flags, United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks to reporters after a Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017 at U.N. headquarters. The United Nations and the Arab League on Thursday issued a joint statement in support of the establishment of a Palestinian state. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Will intervention be on the table?

However, the U.S.-led coalition and NATO nations seem less interested in the veracity of the information than in the opportunity these accusations – however baseless and dubious they may be – offer for their long-standing goals of regime change in Syria. Immediately after news of the attack broke, with only the White Helmets and SOHR testimony as sources, France – a U.S. coalition member – called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss how to respond to the “disgusting” attack, a meeting now set to take place Wednesday morning.

Hours later, EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said that Assad bears “primary responsibility” for the attack. If more countries choose to lay the blame on Assad for the attack, the 2013 agreement could easily crumble – making Syria once again vulnerable to foreign military intervention.

The Associated Press reported that the U.S. envoy to the UN Nikki Haley condemned the attack as “terrible” but stopped short of blaming Assad directly. However, Haley said just yesterday that the Syrian people no longer wanted Assad as leader after telling ABC News on Sunday that “Assad is always a priority” and that the U.S. planned to bring him to justice. These comments stray far from the rhetoric recently used by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who said last Thursday that the long-term status of “President Assad will be decided by the Syrian people.”

Haley’s recent statements suggest that the Trump administration’s approach is quickly shifting and will likely shift even more due to these latest accusations targeting the Syrian government. While some in the Trump administration, such as Tillerson, have publicly called for a non-interventionist approach in Syria – something which Trump himself has long promised – recent U.S. military actions in Syria suggest that the real strategy is something else entirely.

As MintPress previously reported, Trump’s recent deployment of 2,500 troops to the Middle East – which are to be divided between Syria and Iraq – suggests that the U.S. is preparing for more than just a “final assault” against Daesh, especially considering that the Army even admitted that troops would stay in Syria long after Daesh’s defeat to “stabilize” the region for its “allies.”

In addition, recent moves by the administration to create “safe zones” in Syria would also require the U.S. to significantly increase its troop deployments in Syria – troops that would remain in the country indefinitely. Indeed, the Pentagon has suggested that future troop deployments in Syria will be significant, as it is no longer publicly announcing future deployments or troop movements. All of this despite the fact that Assad has stated that U.S. forces were not invited into the country and that they are essentially “invaders.”

Given that this latest gas attack is already being used politically in a similar fashion to the Ghouta attack of 2013, it seems likely that Assad will once again become a target of this quickly-growing standing army of foreign soldiers within its borders – one that has amassed under the cover of offering humanitarian assistance and “fighting terrorism.”


This article first appeared on MintPressNews.com and was authored by Whitney Webb.

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‘I Leaked Nothing’: Susan Rice Denies Trump Team Targeted, Rand Paul Calls for Investigation

Posted: 04 Apr 2017 01:19 PM PDT

We Are Change

Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice is denying that the Obama administration abused intelligence surveillance for political purposes, but Senator Rand Paul is now calling for a full investigation and for her to testify under oath.

On Sunday, it was revealed by author and journalist Mike Cernovich that Rice was behind the unmasking of members of the Trump campaign prior to the election.

“It is becoming clear that Rice ‘unmasked’ US citizens, including the Trump campaign and others. She is a White House political employee and we need to get to the bottom of who she did this to, why, and who else knew about it. She needs to be under full investigation and testify under oath,” Paul’s chief strategist, Doug Stafford, told Sputnik News.

When asked whether he believes Rice’s claim that the Obama administration did not abuse intelligence surveillance for political purposes, Stafford simply replied, “no.”

Paul also asserted on Monday that he believes that what the intelligence community did could be considered wiretapping – as President Donald Trump infamously alleged.

“I think she ought to testify under oath on this. I think she should be asked under oath, did she reveal it to The Washington Post,” Paul told the Hill. “I think they were illegally basically using an espionage tool to eavesdrop or wiretap – if you want to use the word generally – on the Trump campaign.”

The Kentucky senator also asserted that these revelations are further proof that the controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) needs to be reformed.

Meanwhile, Rice made her first comments since the explosive reports in an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell.

“The allegation is that somehow, Obama administration officials utilized intelligence for political purposes,” Rice asserted. “That’s absolutely false. Let me explain how this works. I was the national security adviser. My job is to protect the American people and the security of our country. That’s the same as the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, the CIA director.”

Rice also denied any involvement in leaking information that was contained in the unmasked phone calls to the media. Many have noted that she is married to ABC News Executive Producer Ian Cameron, however.

“I leaked nothing to nobody,” Rice said, laughing, “and never have and never would.”

The White House seems unconvinced however, if Director of Social Media Dan Scavino’s tweet following the interview is any indication. He wrote, “lyin’, leakin’ Susan Rice stammered through her soft ball interview with Dem PR person Andrea Mitchell.”

Appearing on PBS Newshour in March, Rice was asked about Trump and his team being caught up in incidental intelligence collection, and she denied having any knowledge of it even happening.

“I know nothing about this,” Rice said. “I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that account today.”

Originally published on Sputnik News

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Media Silent As Saudi Arabia Devastates Yemen Into Famine

Posted: 04 Apr 2017 12:54 PM PDT

We Are Change

Saudi Arabia has devastated Yemen with bombing raids, throwing the already-poor nation into a state of famine. The United States has said next to nothing about the Gulf kingdom’s ongoing assault on Yemen, nor has it commented on Saudi Arabia’s penchant for other human rights abuses.

Article via MintPress News by Roqayah Chamseddine

Saudi Arabia, a kingdom that’s been allied with the United States since 1933, has been directly involved in bringing about one of the most horrifying famines in history in the country of Yemen. But this may be news to you if you’ve only been watching mainstream coverage of the situation – and there hasn’t been much of that coverage in the first place.

After years of bombing campaigns by Saudi Arabia with support from other Gulf states and the U.S., nearly half a million Yemeni children are months away from famine. The situation is compounded by the fact that over 50 percent of the population is living below the poverty line.

The U.S.-Saudi alliance, which has devastated the region in nearly unimaginable ways, has been partly strengthened by the U.S.’ devotion to preserving the political supremacy of Gulf states – more specifically, their military strength.

According to the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Eastern Affairs, “Saudi Arabia is […] a strong partner in regional security and counter-terrorism efforts, providing military, diplomatic, and financial cooperation. It works closely with U.S. law enforcement to safeguard both countries’ national security interests.”

The U.S. has provided Saudi Arabia with economic and military assistance since full diplomatic relations were established in 1940. In February 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt made Saudi Arabia eligible for lend-lease assistance, describing the kingdom as “vital.”

The lend-lease policy between the US and Saudi Arabia meant that FDR was permitted “to transfer arms or any other defense materials for which Congress appropriated money to “the government of any country whose defense the President deems vital to the defense of the United States.”

Two years later, Roosevelt would visit Ibn Saud, the first monarch and founder of Saudi Arabia, and publicly affirm U.S. commitment to the country and its monarchy. The reason for this tremendous display of solidarity? Oil.

According to a draft memorandum released in 1945, oil reserves in Saudi Arabia “constitute a stupendous source of strategic power, and [are] one of the greatest material prizes in world history…” The memo goes on to say that “it will undoubtedly be lost to the United States unless this Government is able to demonstrate in a practical way its recognition of this concession as of national interest by acceding to the reasonable requests of King Ibn Saud that he be assisted temporarily in his economic and financial difficulties until the exploitation of the concession, on a practical commercial basis, begins to bring substantial royalties to Saudi Arabia.”

A U.S. military presence in the Gulf was firmly established by way of such royalties, and as U.S. administrations have come and gone, the country’s relationship with Saudi Arabia has never wavered.

The Saudi Kingdom, with its oil-based cash flow, has since become one of the most influential Gulf states in Washington, and the U.S. has remained just as steadfast in its commitment to the kingdom. Even as Saudi bombs have fallen on hospitals, schools and densely populated civilian areas in Yemen, the U.S. has refused to reprimand Saudi Arabia.

After the Obama administration publicly authorized the military bombardment of Yemen, describing it as a “military action to defend Saudi Arabia’s border and to protect Yemen’s legitimate government…,” his administration awarded Saudi Arabia with artillery and even went as far as to refuel Saudi jets that have taken part in deadly bombing campaigns.

While specific data concerning the U.S. Air Force’s refueling of foreign aircraft isn’t publicly released, Air Force Central Command spokeswoman Capt. Kathleen Atanasoff reported in February that U.S. service tankers took part in over 7,000 refueling “events,” with “about 54 million pounds of fuel off-loaded in support of Saudi operations in Yemen.”

Saudi Arabia hasn’t kept itself solely occupied with military campaigns. The state has also devoted itself to spreading violent sectarian mythology, executing men and women for “witchcraft” and “sorcery”, implementing deeply restrictive patriarchal policies and sending mercenaries to quell the uprising in Bahrain. At the same time, Saudi Arabia has inaugurated a ‘girl’s council’ absolutely devoid of women and continued to enjoy a leading membership role in the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Despite this, the Obama administration has continued to provide the kingdom with record-setting weapons deals, with little to nothing said regarding the country’s unabashed abuses of human rights.

Yemen has continued to suffer from the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia, and as starvation, scarcity of water and a lack of medical supplies claim more lives, Saudi Arabia’s oil-drenched ambitions are going entirely unchallenged by yet another U.S. administration that is thoroughly invested in maintaining a stranglehold on the region with the help from Gulf monarchs.


This article first appeared on MintPressNews.com and was authored by Roqayah Chamseddine.

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Moscow And Beijing Join Forces To Bypass U.S. Dollar As World Reserve Currency

Posted: 04 Apr 2017 12:42 PM PDT

We Are Change

Russia’s central bank opened its first overseas office in Beijing last month, coming one step closer to replacing the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

The South China Morning Post reported the new office was part of agreements made between the two countries “to seek stronger economic ties.”

“The opening of a Beijing representative office by the Central Bank of Russia was a “very timely” move to aid specific cooperation, including bond issuance, anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism measures between China and Russia,” Dmitry Skobelkin, deputy governor of the Central Bank of Russia said.

Financial regulators from both countries agreed last May to issue home-currency-denominated bonds in each other’s respective markets, a move that is seen as the beginning of the dethroning of the U.S. dollar, as both countries have stated they would implement a replacement for years.

China opened up its gold market in 2016, an entirely separate system than the COMEX gold futures market in New York and the Over-the-Counter (OTC) trades cleared through the London Bullion Market. China and Russia have both been working to undermine the West and the U.S. dollar since China called for a new world reserve currency in 2009.

A Wikileaks cable titled “China increases its gold reserves in order to kill two birds with one stone” shows that China was already shifting some of its massive foreign holdings into gold and away from the U.S. dollar in 2009.  China again began stockpiling gold in 2013, when they bought JPMorgan’s building that previously housed its gold.

The IMF and United Nations have even expressed agreement that it’s time to replace the U.S. dollar as the world reserve currency with what’s known as SDRs or special drawing rights. Then the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) was planned between 2010-2012, and was fully operational by 2016.

“China has been pushing for the SDR to become more widely used for some time, as a way to challenge the dominance of the dollar without pushing the renminbi as a direct competitor,” Julian Evans-Pritchard, a China economist at Capital Economics in Singapore, told Reuters.

In 2014, Russian and Chinese central banks agreed on a draft currency swap agreement, which allowed them to increase trade in domestic currencies and cut the dependence on the U.S. dollar in bilateral payments made between the two countries. That same year, China’s Foreign Exchange Trade System extended the yuan’s swaps trading to 11 currencies on the interbank foreign-exchange market, Bloomberg reported.

Russia and China furthered the dollar’s divide in 2015, by setting up an alternative to the EU-based global currency messaging and interchange service or SWIFT called CIPS or (China International Payment System.) China then approved the usage of the Russian ruble over the U.S. dollar for its border city Suifenhe City, Heilongjiang Province in a pilot program. Later the same year, the two countries opened up an e-commerce platform called incubator in that same province.

Following years of work, on October 1st, 2016, the Yuan joined the IMF’s SDR currency basket. The IMF did an analysis and concluded that financial instruments denominated in SDR would lower volatility and risk compared to holding assets in individual currencies, as well as save costs. “M-SDRs could, therefore, be attractive to investors and issuers by offering a prepackaged diversification option,” the IMF wrote.

For years now, Russia and China have begun buying gold in massive amounts and dumping U.S. Treasury bonds at an accelerating rate.

Finally there is the BRICS alliance formed of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – to bypass and overtake the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

The current geopolitical tensions between the U.S. deep state and Russia make a lot more sense when you understand Putin is making moves against the globalist golden goose – the U.S. dollar.

 

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