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Thu, 27 Oct 2016
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Facebook accused of 'collective punishment' in crackdown on Palestinian users

© Reuters
Facebook has been accused of systematic unfairness as it blocks dozens of accounts of Palestinians of all walks of life in what is viewed as an Israeli crackdown on free speech.

Testimony from rights groups and several recent reports detail the extent of this, believing it to be part of an Israeli strategy against all Palestinians. The latest is an analysis by the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA), which details a dramatic increase in account bans over 2015 - including the targeting of journalists, academics and civilians alike.

Israel officially met a Facebook delegation this September for talks, where it pressured the social media giant into targeting comments or public stances that may appear to incite violence.

Comment: Who did they ban, what did the banned people say to get banned? We'll throw you a bone - sure Israel is actively trying to censor Palestinian activism - but can we all agree that not every ban just falls out of the sky?


US considered sending CIA-sponsored Syrian terrorists even more weapons to use against Russian planes & artillery

© Khalil Ashawi / Reuters
A rebel fighter stands near a weapon as they advance towards Azaz city, northern Aleppo countryside, Syria.
The US administration has been secretly considering sending more firepower to CIA-backed rebels fighting Syrian government forces, including weapons that can be used against Russian aircraft and artillery, according to a media report.

Citing US officials, who preferred to remain anonymous, the Washington Post reported the existence of a so-called 'Plan B,' which in case of "failed diplomatic efforts" provided for arming US-backed Syrian rebels with truck-mounted anti-aircraft weapons that could help rebel units "defend themselves against Russian aircraft and artillery."

It says the plan was raised several times over the course of recent weekly White House meetings and was submitted to President Barack Obama during a National Security Council meeting on October 14.

The newspaper states, however, that 'Plan B' was "neither approved nor rejected," with Obama reluctant to make any decision on the matter.

New arms supplies to the so-called moderate opposition could lead to the deaths of Russian military personnel who have been aiding the Syrian Army, and this could in turn cause a direct confrontation with Moscow, which Obama has been trying to avoid.

Comment: Soviet memories of the destruction US supplied armaments caused in the 1980's conflict in Afghanistan die hard. It is unlikely Russia will tolerate a repeat of that situation.


Desert Rose: Asma al-Assad gives first interview in 7 years (VIDEO)

The Western world is dividing Syrian children according to the political views of their parents, Asma Assad, the Syrian First Lady, said in a rare interview. She said the mainstream media only concentrated on those stories which matched their policy.

The wife of President Bashar Assad gave an exclusive interview, her first in seven years, to Russia's Rossiya 24 channel. The full version of the interview is to be shown on Saturday.

Asma was asked why the Western media is selective in covering the Syrian crisis, in particular the humanitarian catastrophe that has engulfed the country.

Comment: Does anyone else think 'Lady Diana' when they hear this woman speak?

Does she sound like someone married to a 'brutal dictator'?

It's a pity she doesn't speak up more, but then, her hands are full with helping to heal all those wounded and traumatized by the West's war on her country.

A Rose in the Desert: Asma Al-Assad, Lady Diana of the Middle East

Update: Russia 24 spent a week with Asma al-Assad prior to the interview above, accompanying her during visits from Syrian families who lost sons and fathers in the war, and her visits to the families and the hospitals where they are being treated. What can we say except to simply watch it and see how lucky Syria is to have a woman like her, intelligent, compassionate, strong-willed, fearless, and perhaps most importantly, loved and respected by the people whom she serves.


WikiLeaks lists at least 65 corporate 'Presstitutes' who colluded to hide Clinton's crimes

© Free Thought Project
Revelations from the Wikileaks release of John Podesta's emails yet again prove mainstream, corporate media serves as Hillary Clinton's personal cheerleading squad — and is devoid of any iteration of journalistic integrity.

Thanks to Wikileaks and the Intercept, in fact, we now have a list of no less than 65 mainstream "reporters" whose campaign coverage constitutes propaganda for the Clinton campaign — and no wonder, considering the obscenely lopsided drivel presented by their outlets.

As (actual) journalists Glenn Greenwald and Lee Fang reported on October 9, the Intercept exclusively received documents obtained by the source known as Guccifer 2.0 evidencing Clinton campaign tactics to court journalists portraying the former secretary of state in a positive light.

"As these internal documents demonstrate," the Intercept reported, "a central component of the Clinton campaign strategy is ensuring that journalists they believe are favorable to Clinton are tasked to report the stories the campaign wants circulated.

Comment: See also:


Mosul fallout: Russian Aerospace forces ready to strike militants on Syria-Iraq border

© Sputnik/ Maksim Blinov
The Russian Aerospace Forces are on duty on the Syria-Iraq border and are ready for an immediate attack on terrorists, the Russian General Staff said Tuesday.

According to Lt. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi, chief of the Russian General Staff Main Operational Directorate, Russia is monitoring the situation in Mosul. There has been no evidence of the US-led coalition's significant successes in liberating the city from the Daesh militants.

"The Russian Aerospace Forces are monitoring the situation on the Syria-Iraq border around the clock using drones and other reconnaissance devices. The Russian planes are on duty in the sky, ready for immediate strikes against terrorists," he told a briefing.

Comment: But the Pentagon doesn't want Russia's help: Can't be seen as working together: Pentagon rules out Russia's participation in US-led coalition's Raqqa operation

And for more analysis: Upping the Ante in Syria ... via Mosul


Trump proclaims Obama should be investigated over Clinton emails

© Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
US President Barack Obama should be investigated because he "knew all about" Hillary Clinton's email arrangements, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said.

"That's why he stuck up for Hillary, because he didn't want to be dragged in. Because he knew all about her private server," Trump said in an interview with Reuters. "This means that he has to be investigated."

On Tuesday, WikiLeaks published another batch of emails from the private account of Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta. One of the emailed exchanges showed the campaign reacting to Obama that he learned of Clinton's private email server use from the news.

"We need to clean this up - he has emails from her - they do not say state.gov," Cheryl Mills, a longtime Clinton aide, wrote to Podesta after Obama made the comments in a March 2015 television interview.

Bad Guys

ISIS carries out massacres around Mosul, Hollande urges vigilance when jihadists return from Iraq

© Zohra Bensemra / Reuters
Newly displaced people run after they jumped over a wall as a smoke rises from a burning oil refinery, at a processing center in Qayyara, south of Mosul, Iraq.
Islamic State has reportedly massacred scores of people as the coalition's operation to retake the Mosul continues, the UN said. French President Francois Hollande urged the anti-IS forces to prepare for the aftermath of the jihadists' defeat in Iraq.

According to preliminary information from sources in Iraq, 50 ex-police officers were executed in a building outside Mosul on Sunday, Rupert Colville, UN human rights spokesman, said.

On Thursday, Iraqi security forces found the bodies of 70 civilians in the village of Tuloul Naser south of Mosul, he added.

"The bodies had bullet wounds, but it isn't known for sure at this point who was responsible for the killings," Colville as cited by Reuters.

Comment: Daesh brutality is just astounding. It may even be worse when Raqqa comes into focus: Can't be seen as working together: Pentagon rules out Russia's participation in US-led coalition's Raqqa operation


SOTT Exclusive: Upping the Ante in Syria ... via Mosul

© Abdalrhman Ismail / Reuters
As the consequences of any attempts to strike Syrian Army positions - whether by airstrikes or via Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from US warships in the Mediterranean - have dawned on the US and its allies, and the cacophony of war crime allegations against Russia has only gotten louder, the US may have given up Aleppo as a lost cause. Or at least, that is how it appeared at a press conference held by John Kerry and Boris Johnson last Sunday at Lancaster House in London.

Kerry, even stonier faced than usual, almost appeared to be forcing himself to appear as sombre as he possibly could, saying:
I haven't seen a big appetite in Europe of people to go to war. I don't see the parliaments of European countries ready to declare war. I don't see a lot of countries deciding that that's the better solution here. So we are pursuing diplomacy because those are the tools that we have, and we're trying to find a way forward under those circumstances.
The normally irascible Johnson sounded just as despondent, commenting:
No option is, in principle, off the table. But be no doubt that these so-called military options are extremely difficult and there is, to put it mildly, a lack of political appetite in most European capitals and certainly in the West for that kind of solution at present. So we've got to work with the tools we have. The tools we have are diplomatic.

Snakes in Suits

Venezuelan Parliament initiates Maduro impeachment despite questionable constitutional procedure

© Wikimedia
Maduro Carabobo
The pro-American wing of the Venezuelan parliament held an extraordinary session in which the board decided to initiate impeachment procedures against president Maduro, even while not being grounded in a constitutional procedure.


Several district courts had not recognized the validity of Venezuelan voter signatures in support of a referendum to impeach President Nicolas Maduro collected in the first phase, as there were reports of apparent irregularities in the collection process. Included in the petition signatures were the deceased, those too young to vote, as well as forged signatures. In several districts, the signatories were asked to confirm their vote, and a certain percentage of these were not confirmed. Signatures of many people were therefore forged to achieve an inflated number, however the board of the extraordinary session decided to use this to begin proceedings anyway.

The second stage of the the referendum preparations, which was supposed to start today, will be postponed indefinitely until the initiators correct violations made in the course of the first stage - the collection of signatures of 1% and the re-organization of the signature collecting process.

However, this would have greatly changed the plans of the opposition, as they need to have time to organize a referendum by January 10th, 2017. Otherwise, Nicolas Maduro will designate the vice president .

Meanwhile, the plans of the opposition became known thanks in part to the testimony of terrorist José Vicente Garcia, that there was a plan to detonate a bomb during the march of the opposition to discredit the government. He noted among other things that there was a planned seizure of military units and attacks on the army and the government, including the use of weapons. In the period from the 26th to 28th of October, the phase associated with "general" strike was to begin, on the 31st a new march, perhaps again with attempts of terrorist attacks; November 3rd was planned as the launch of the referendum procedure and the prosecution of Maduro, supposedly for dereliction of duty and obstruction of consent, the 9th would see the blocking of roads, and the 10th was to begin the main phase of the revolution.

Comment: More on Venezuela impeachment process: Venezuela's Congress attempting coup accuses President Maduro of staging 'coup' by axing recall referendum

Update: Venezuelan opposition-led legislature votes to begin political trial against President Maduro
The opposition-led National Assembly has voted to begin proceedings to impeach President Nicolas Maduro for "constitutional violations." Proceedings are unlikely to be effective, but the decision will further raise tension in the politically deadlocked country.

"If Maduro doesn't understand that he has to respect the constitution, we have all the right to ask him to step down," Henrique Capriles, the leading opposition figure said on the eve of Tuesday's vote.

Having adopted a 10-point resolution that agreed on Maduro's culpability last week, the National Assembly called for the President - in power since 2013 - to face deputies in a week's time. Maduro is almost certain to ignore the summons.

Elected last year, Congress has been deprived of its powers by a decision of the Supreme Court, which has consistently backed the incumbent over allegations of vote-buying.

"Legally, the National Assembly does not exist," said vice-president Aristobulo Isturiz on Tuesday.

Top Secret

Podesta leaks continue with 18th batch of emails from Clinton campaign chair

© Carlos Barria/Reuters
WikiLeaks has published a new batch of emails from the account of Hillary Clinton's campaign chair, John Podesta. The whistleblowing site has released more than 30,000 Podesta emails online and has said it intends to keep releasing documents each day right up until the November 8 US presidential election.

The emails have yielded an insight into the inner workings of the Democrat's campaign team, including discussion on how to react to Bill Clinton's sexual assault allegations, framing information for 'news hyenas', and boosting Hillary Clinton's public image.

On Monday, the 17th release from Wikileaks revealed Podesta's dim view of Clinton's 2008 presidential run, the team's fears about Bernie Sanders "beating us up", as well as Hillary Clinton's failure to win over Al Gore.

The releases also shed some light on frayed relationships within the political bubble of Washington, such as long-term aide Doug Band's beef with 'backstabbing' Chelsea Clinton.

Obama and Hillary's email server

Tuesday's release includes an email exchange that indicates President Barack Obama had known of Clinton's private email server use.

An email thread dated March 7, 2015 between Podesta and Clinton lawyer and chief of staff Cheryl Mills shows the pair's concern over comments Obama made to CBS News regarding Clinton's use of a private email server.