Russia calls it “unlawful”; Syria calls it a “massacre.” Latest US airstrike on Syria

“Whatever the reason for the US command to make this decision, this strike is illegitimate and unlawful. It’s yet another harsh violation of Syria’s sovereignty,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

“We discussed the massacre that the US aggressor committed yesterday in our country,” said Bashar Jaafari, Syria’s ambassador to the UN.

Both were talking about yesterday’s air strike carried out by US Coalition forces against Syrian military forces.

It seems every time the media attacks reach a fever pitch, Trump tries to take the heat off by bombing Syria. That is, assuming Trump actually ordered this air strike. And it may well be that he didn’t. So far as I’ve been able to tell, there has been no formal statement from the president.

RT is reporting that the attack was on a “pro-government convoy,” and that seems to be the view that Lavrov is taking, or at least pretending publicly to take. “The American command explained the strike on pro-government Syrian forces, saying that these forces represented a threat to opposition which cooperates with the US-led coalition,” he is quoted as saying.

However, South Front seems pretty adamant that the attack was on the Syrian Arab Army. If you click on the image above it will take you to a South Front video with an analysis to that effect. This is also what’s being reported by SANA, the Syrian government-funded news site:

A military source announced on Friday that the so-called international coalition attacked one of the Syrian army’s military points on al-Tanf road in the Syrian Badia.

The attack, which took place at 16:30 pm on Thursday, left a number of people dead, in addition to causing material damage, the source said

Meanwhile, Press TV has posted the following video purporting to show SAA forces on the outskirts of Al Tanf this morning, one day after the attack. Will the US Coalition carry out another airstrike?

The Syrian Free Press is reporting that yesterday–the same day that the US bombed the Syrian Army–ISIS carried out a massacre in the village of Aqareb, in the Syrian province of Hama:

Local sources said that the terrorist groups killed and mutilated a number of locals in the villages, including children and women, and looted their houses.

Head of Salamiyeh National Hospital Dr. Nofal Safar said that bodies of 52 person arrived at the hospital, including 15 bodies of children aged between 3 to 13 years, adding that more than 100 injured persons have been admitted to the hospital, most of them are children and women.

Odd isn’t it? How US attacks on the Syrian Army often seem to coincide with acts of terrorist aggression?

The attack also coincides with peace talks on Syria that are being held in Geneva. The Syrian delegation to that conference is being headed up by Jaafari. Here is what SANA is reporting on that:

In response to a question about the coincidence of the meeting with an American aggression and ISIS massacre against Syrians in addition to the ambition of achieving better results in this round, al-Jaafari said that the delegation discussed during today’s session the U.S. attack on one of the Syrian Arab Army’s military points on al-Tanf road in the Syrian Badia, which took place Thursday evening.

“Minutes ago, we talked extensively about the massacre committed by the US aggression on Thursday in my country. The important thing is that our political ambition is the highest in terms of concerns within all parties involved. Our ambition is supreme because we want to constantly focus on the fight against terrorism, “he said.

Al-Jaafari pointed out that terrorism, represented by terrorist groups and the terrorism committed by countries and governments against Syria which includes the US, French and British aggression whether against civil or military targets, as what happened in Manbaj city when the French bombed the city and killed 200 civilians or as in Raqqa when the US raided the Deaf and Dumb school and as happened in al-Tharda Mountain in Deir Ezzor or as happened yesterday also.

“At every meeting, we would like to remind the attendees that state terrorism is being practiced against our country,” he added.

So is the US, or at any rate the Deep State, deliberately trying to sabotage the peace talks? We have seen that before as well.

Interestingly, at least one Russian, has no illusions on who was targeted in yesterday’s attack. Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov states unequivocally that is was the Syrian Army:

US Coalition Forces Bomb Syrian Military Convoy

Apparently the US Coalition has launched a new attack inside Syria, this time against a military convoy in the vicinity of the Syria-Iraq-Jordan border near a town known as Al-Tanf. Conflicting reports are coming out as to whether the convoy that came under attack was a Syrian Arab Army convoy, or one operated by pro-government militia forces.

Here is what SouthFront is reporting:

A Jordanian warplane operating under the US-led coalition carried out airstrikes against a Syrian Arab Army (SAA) convoy advancing along the Al-Tanf-Damascus-Baghdad international road. The airstrikes targeted Syrian forces in Al-Shuhaimi area, 50 km from the town of Al-Tanf located at the Syrian-Iraqi border.

The airstrikes destroyed two battle tanks, and damaged a Shilka vehicle, several pickups and trucks. Six SAA fighters lost their life and 3 were injured.

According to some US defense official, cited by the Russian state-run news agency Sputink, the US coalition commander considered the Syrian army as a threat to coalition troops.

“The commander on the ground perceived this force to be a threat to coalition forces,” the defense official said.

Meanwhile, Jaish al-Thwar, a US-backed Free Syrian Army group, claimed that its militants have clashed with the SAA and prevented it from approaching the Al-Tanf area.

According to pro-US sources, coalition warplanes targeted some Shiite militias, not the SAA. However, Shiite militias operation at the Al-Tanf road don’t have tanks or Shilka vehicles and there were many pictures and videos showing the presence of elements of the SAA in the area.

It is believed that the US is going to use the Shiite militias issue as a pretext to stop the advance of the SAA in the area. The US-led block is working to isolate Syria from Iraq by land, supporting the Israeli desire to prevent Iran from transferring weapons to Hezbollah in Syria via Iraq.

RT, on the other hand, is reporting that the attack was upon a militia, although the RT reporter (in a video accompanying the story), admits that the details are sketchy:

The US forces in Syria have bombed a militia group fighting alongside the Syrian government forces in southern Syria on Thursday, the US-led coalition has confirmed.

The coalition said in a statement that the Syrian forces “posed a threat” to US and partner troops at Tanf base near the Syria-Iraq-Jordan border.

“This action was taken after apparent Russian attempts to dissuade Syrian pro-regime movement south towards At Tanf were unsuccessful, a coalition aircraft show of force, and the firing of warning shots,” the statement said.

Having commented on the incident, the US Defense Secretary James Mattis said Washington was not deepening its role in the Syrian conflict, but would defend its troops.

The claim that the US is “not deepening its role in the Syrian conflict” should of course be taken with a grain of salt. The following article was posted yesterday at the Syrian Free Press before news broke of today’s attack, but it does offer some insight into why such an attack might be happening now. The report is apparently taken from the Iranian Fars News Agency. If you go to the RT report (linked above) and watch the video there, you note that the video includes an interview with an analyst in Damascus who makes similar references to reports of a planned US invasion of southern Syria.

Syrian Arab Army Ready to Foil US-Led Plan to Create Buffer Zone in Southern Part of Country

(FNA) ~ A well-informed military source said on Wednesday that the Syrian Army forces will not allow the US and its western or regional allies to create a buffer zone in the Southern part of the country as a safe heaven for militants’ activities.

The Russian-language Izvestia daily quoted a field source as saying that the Syrian pro-government sources are getting ready to take control over a chunk of Damascus road to Baghdad to restore sustainable security to the main supply line of importing arms and other military equipment from Iraq.

In the meantime, Mohammad Abbas, a retired army general and military expert, said that terrorist groups and the US as their main backer intend to create a buffer zone in parallel with the Golan Heights and borders with Jordan and Iraq in Southern Syria, but the Syrian Army is to prevent them to do their plan.

Intelligent agents reported last week that the US, British and Jordanian forces were preparing for a possible invasion of Syria under the pretext of war on ISIL terrorists.

According to reports, Damascus went on the alert after intelligence reports gathered from surveillance drones suggested that the US, Britain and Jordanian militaries might be prepping a massive invasion of Syria.

Nearly 400 American and Jordanian military vehicles were located at a Jordanian military base near the Syrian desert border, the reports said, adding there was no ISIL terrorists in the region in which the US, British and Jordanian forces were operating.

The reports further added that activities of these three countries at border were aimed at gathering Arab and Western forces in al-Zarqa camp in which there were almost 4,500 gunmen.

The report went on to say that the gunmen in al-Zarqa camp went under training to battle the Syrian army to stretch a belt around Syria, a plan that was nothing more than an occupation.

The intelligence reports also said that the military convoys of the US, Jordan and Britain might launch an assault to help the West-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) around the Al-Tanf border crossing.

Reports also said that the Syrian Army troops, in response to the possible attacks by the US, British and Jordanian forces on their soil, launched a large-scale operation along the Damascus-Baghdad highway to drive FSA out of the border crossing of al-Tanf.

Continued here

Although it doesn’t have anything to do with the latest attack, I also came across this video and thought I would post it. The video features an exchange between Fares Shehabi, a member of the Syrian Parliament, and a reporter for Vice. Subject of the exchange: how Bashar Assad has managed to stay in power despite years of attempts by the US and its allies to overthrow him.

Funeral Held for 16-Year-Old Palestinian Girl Killed By Israeli Forces

A funeral was held today in Ramallah for Fatima Hjeiji, a 16-year-old Palestinian girl who was sprayed with approximately 20 bullets on May 7 after allegedly attempting to stab Israeli policemen.

[ Ed. note – What is becoming increasingly clear is that so enslaved to AIPAC are US Congress members, they will go on supporting Israel no matter how many Palestinian youths are shot down by Israeli forces. Described as a poet as well as a gifted math student, Fatima Hjeiji, 16, was shot multiple times by Israeli police on the evening of Sunday, May 7. The Israelis allege she attempted to carry out a stabbing attack. Her funeral was held today.

Hjeiji reportedly was the seventh Palestinian child to be killed this year, yet if the number were 70, or even 700, it would make no difference. Congress members like Tammy Duckworth in the Senate, or Ed Royce in the House, would most likely go on expressing their undying devotion to the Jewish state.

You can go here to see the top congressional beneficiaries of contributions from pro-Israel PACs. Duckworth’s and Royce’s names are at the top of the list. Yet even without campaign contributions rolling in, support for Israel in Congress likely would continue, for the plain simple truth is that every single member of that body is acutely aware of one thing: they either support Israel or they can expect massive amounts of money to be funneled to their opponents the next time they come up for reelection. Additionally, they can also probably expect attacks and smears in the media or even investigations or prosecutions on hypothetical trumped up corruption charges. When you’re dealing with an entity as powerful in America as the pro-Israel lobby, such things as these, and even more, would not be out of the question. If you’re a member of Congress and you want to keep your job, you support Israel. Period.

All this means Israel can attack Gaza anytime it likes, or murder children in the West Bank as its soldiers feel the urge, and US aid will continue to flow in. No trigger-happy Israeli soldier will be arrested unless the incident happens to be caught on video, and the only thing then will be a show trial and an acquittal. And of course it goes without mentioning–no war crimes tribunal will be soon be convening in The Hague either, and for the same reasons, while Duckworth and Royce will merrily go on extolling Israel’s “right to defend itself.” The horrible reality is that the bodies of these children will continue to pile up as the governments of the world look away.

According to the article below from Ma’an News, hundreds of people marched in Fatima’s funeral procession today. The report also includes the information that last year, 2016, was the deadliest year in a decade for Palestinian children, with a total of 32 being killed. Of that number, 24 were accused of carrying out attacks.

The second article, from Mondoweiss, provides quotes from Fatima’s family members, including her mother, and also mentions that the Israeli rights group B’Tselem has condemned the shooting, the group commenting that Fatima approached police at the site but that she had “stopped several meters away.” Furthermore, the officers were “standing behind a metal barrier, were armed and wearing protective gear” at the time, and the shooting was totally unwarranted, for the girl posed no threat to them. according to the report.

One other thing about Fatima you will discover. She was, in the words of her grandfather, a young girl with “a very strong personality–very strong. She was a strong patriot and she was always talking about freedom for Palestine.” Fighting for the freedom of her country from occupation, in other words. This is what Fatima was all about, along with, apparently, numerous others like her. Only in the circumstance of a lobby as powerful as AIPAC could such children, in any country in the world, ever be branded as “terrorists.” ]

***

Hundreds March in Funeral of 16-Year-Old Palestinian Girl Killed By Israeli Forces

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Hundreds of Palestinians from the village of Qarawat Bani Zeid, located in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, marched in the funeral procession for 16-year-old Fatima Hjeiji, who was shot and killed by Israeli forces earlier in the month under disputed circumstances.

Hjeiji’s body was transferred from Israeli authorities on Tuesday evening to the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences in Jerusalem’s Abu Dis University, where the body was autopsied.

Following the autopsy, the teen’s body was transferred to the Palestinian Medical Complex in Ramallah, where her body was prepared for burial and wrapped in a Palestinian flag, in accordance with Hjeiji’s wishes, which she outlined in a goodbye letter that she left behind for her family.

The funeral set off from the medical complex, where Hjeiji’s body was carried in an ambulance, and eventually offloaded onto the shoulder of mourners, who carried her body towards a hunger-strike solidarity tent in Ramallah’s Yasser Arafat Square.Hundreds marched in the procession, through Ramallah city’s streets, shouting slogans that against Israeli forces, Israeli settler, and the ongoing security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Mourners then carried on to Hjeiji’s home in Qarawat Bani Zeid village for final farewells, and then to the village’s mosque for funeral prayer before laying the teen to rest in the village’s cemetery.Dalia Hjeiji, Fatima’s mother, told Ma’an that her daughter’s “wish to become a martyr was answered by God,” while the girl’s father, Afef Hajiji, highlighted that his daughter was shot 21 times, “confirming that Israeli forces deliberately execute Palestinian children.”

Continued here

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Family of 16-Year-Old Palestinian Girl Remembers Bright Young Math Student, Poet, and Politically Charged Youth

By Sheren Khalel

Qarawat Bani Zeid, occupied West Bank — The day Fatima Hjeiji, 16, was shot dead by Israeli forces was the fifth day of her hunger strike in solidarity with an estimated 1,600 Palestinian prisoners on strike, her family told Mondoweiss.

The 16-year-old, a poet, activist and stellar math student, approached a group of five Israeli forces in Jerusalem on Sunday allegedly carrying a kitchen knife with the intention of attacking the fully armed border police officers.

The officers, apparently seeing the situation as a threat to life, lifted their guns and shot the teenage girl between 10 to 20 times. Witness at the scene reported that as the girl lay motionless on the ground Israeli forces continued shooting.

The 16-year-old girl “approached Israeli police and border guards stationed at the site, drew a knife, and tried to attack them while calling out ‘Allah Akbar’ in an attempt to hurt Israeli forces, who determinedly and professionally neutralized her,” a police spokesperson told Ma’an News Agency.

After investigating the incident, Israeli rights group B’Tselem on Wednesday condemned the killing, stating that Fatima “who stopped several meters away” from officers, “did not pose a danger” to police.

“The police – who were standing behind a metal barrier, were armed and wearing protective gear – could have subdued Hjeiji and taken her into custody without resorting to gunfire, certainly not lethal gunfire,” the group said in a statement. “Instead, they shot and killed a 16-year-old girl who, as stated, posed no danger to them.”

The incident was not the first time Fatima had been accused of attempting a knifing on Israeli forces. She was detained at the Zaatari checkpoint in Nablus almost exactly one year previously after Israeli forces found a knife in her possession, her family explained. Fatima was held in Israeli detention for ten days, during which Fatima’s mother, Dareen Hjeiji, said she was physically and psychologically tortured.

“After the torture she experienced in prison she became even more political, and became very concerned with prisoners rights,” her mother told Mondoweiss, sitting in a small room of a relative’s family home, surrounded by other mourning relatives.

Bloodshot eyes filled the room, as women, fighting back tears, took turns sharing small bits of information about the slain teenager.

Continued here

***

Israeli Official Calls for Syrian President Assad’s Assassination

[ Ed. note – It never ceases to amaze me–the bottomless depths of compassion the Israelis try to convince us they feel for the suffering people of Syria…while at the same time they display open hatred and contempt for Palestinians. The mainstream media are now pedaling a State Department claim about Syria operating a “crematorium,” ostensibly to dispose of the bodies of thousands of murdered prisoners, and a member of the Israeli cabinet, Housing Minister Yoav Galant, has used the opportunity to issue an open call for the assassination of Syrian President Bashar Assad (see article below).

All this comes just a week after revelations that Israeli police staged a mock execution of a “terrorist” in front of a group of school children. A video of the demonstration, showing the children looking on, can be found here, and in a commentary on the episode, Jonathan Cook notes that in the video the youngsters can be heard clapping:

As he [the “terrorist” in the demonstration] lies badly wounded, the officers empty their magazines into him from close range. In Israel it is known as “confirming the kill”. Everywhere else it is called an extrajudicial execution or murder. The children can be heard clapping…The purpose of exposing children at an impressionable age to so much gore and killing is not hard to divine. It creates traumatised children, distrustful and fearful of anyone outside their tribe. That way they become more pliant soldiers, trigger-happy as they rule over Palestinians in the occupied territories.

So it appears that in the Israeli scheme of things, it is okay to murder Palestinians but not Syrians, or at least not the terrorists that certain foreign backers paid good money to equip, finance, and send into Syria for the purpose of overthrowing the country’s democratically elected president. Of course, the “news” that the Syrian government incinerated massive numbers of people in a crematorium is in all probability about as fake as last month’s chemical attack, but no matter. The Zionists will likely milk it for all it’s worth. ]

RT
An Israeli minister has bluntly called for Syrian leader Bashar Assad to be assassinated after unsourced media reports claimed Damascus was using a “crematorium” to cover-up mass killings. He said the “serpent’s head” in Tehran should be dealt with next.

“The reality whereby Syria executes people, intentionally uses chemical weapons to hurt them and, now, in the most recent move of extremism, is burning their bodies – this has not been seen in the world in 70 years,” said Israeli Housing Minister Yoav Galant, as cited by Haaretz.

“We are crossing a red line and, in my view, the time has come to assassinate Assad,” he continued.

“And when we finish with the tail of the serpent, we will reach the head of the serpent, which can be found in Tehran, and we will deal with it, too,” he said.

What appears to be the first recorded Israeli threat to assassinate Syrian President Bashar Assad came after the US Department of State alleged, without presenting any hard evidence, that the Syrian government is using “a crematorium” outside Damascus to burn the bodies of people killed by the government.

 photo galant_zpssoamqewn.jpg

Israeli Housing Minister Yoav Galant

Earlier on Tuesday, Galant told Israeli Army radio that Assad’s rule has been the worst since Nazi Germany. “What is happening in Syria is defined as genocide, under all its classifications,” he said on Army radio, according to Jerusalem Post.

Galant, a retired IDF general, added that Israel wants to see Assad and his Alawite government ousted from power and replaced by a moderate Sunni ruler.”

Some previous attempts to compare Assad’s government to the Nazi regime have been met with public outcry. White House spokesman Sean Spicer, who claimed that Hitler’s death squads hadn’t used chemical agents during the Holocaust “in the way that Assad used them” sparked outrage in the US and beyond.

Certain journalists have used the Assad-Hitler comparison when covering claims that Syrian forces have used chemical weapons, but those remarks were dismissed by the public.

Assad, a UK-educated doctor, has been in power since the 1999 passing of his father, Syria’s long-time president, Hafez Assad. Syria is one of the few Arab countries where the president is elected through a nationwide vote.

Perpetual Nakba

Poetry for Palestine

In 1948 WAR, my grandmother was a young mother,

My mother was a child in 1948

* * *

In 1967 WAR my mother was a young mother,

I was a child in 1967

* * *

In 1987 WAR, I was a young mother,

My daughter was a child in 1987

* * *

In 2014 WAR, my daughter is a young mother

My granddaughter is a child in 2014

* * *

EVERY SINGLE ONE of us,

FIVE generation girls/ women/ mothers/ grandmothers

Have lived the Nakba

Repeated over and over and over again

Copy of Picture 375aa - Copy

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Is Washington Planning a Nuclear First Strike on Russia?

[ Ed. note – Despite a seemingly cordial meeting Wednesday between Trump and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, tensions between the two countries remain high. Reports have come out in recent weeks (see here for instance) that Russian military officials are now convinced the US is planning a nuclear first strike against Russia. The ramifications of this are discussed in three articles below. One of the writers, Paul Craig Roberts, takes it to the personal level: if you’ve reached the conclusion that someone, despite your best efforts at making peace with them, is plotting to kill you, what do you do?

Obviously we are in dangerous times. Articles demonizing Russia are churned out by the media each day. The deep state in Washington (which I would argue includes the owners or CEOs of the major media conglomerates) clearly is trying to incite and foment a conflict. Spreading chaos throughout the Middle East has been their modus operandi for many years now, but the ultimate chaos, of course, would be a nuclear war. And that very much seems to be their fondest fantasy and desire at present. Do they think they can win it? Possibly so. This is what the second article, by Conn Halinan, gets into.

The insanity has of course spread to the UK, where Defense Secretary Michael Fallon recently stated that under certain circumstances Theresa May’s government would consider launching a nuclear first strike–even if Britain was not under attack. Fallon’s idiocies are discussed in the third article, by Felicity Arbuthnot.

Interestingly, Arbuthnot also poses the possibility that the current showdown over North Korea is a “red herring.” While I’m not going to excerpt it, I will provide a link–here–to an analysis on the confrontation with North Korea published by Roberts just over a week ago. The writer opines that the THAAD anti-missile system Trump is deploying to South Korea has nothing to do with North Korea, and is really intended to target China. A comparable analogy would be the US ballistic missile defense system deployed in Eastern Europe. That “missile shield” supposedly was to protect Europe from Iran, though most astute observers knew at the time that the real target was Russia. The system was first announced more than 10 years ago and finally went operational–in Romania–last year. The theory is that the shield now makes it possible for the US or NATO to carry out a surprise nuclear first strike against Russia, and then take out any Russian ICBMs which may be launched in  retaliation. THAAD will presumably give them the same capability with regard to China. ]

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Are You Ready to Die?

By Paul Craig Roberts

In George Orwell’s 1949 dystopian novel, 1984, information that no longer is consistent with Big Brother’s explanations is chucked down the Memory Hole. In the real American dystopia in which we currently live, the information is never reported at all.

On April 26—16 days ago—Lt. Gen. Viktor Poznihir, Deputy Chief of the Main Operations Directorate of the Russian Armed Forces, stated at the Moscow International Security Conference that the Operations Command of the Russian General Staff has concluded that Washington is preparing a nuclear first strike on Russia.

See:

https://www.rt.com/news/386276-us-missile-shield-russia-strike/ 

http://www.fort-russ.com/2017/04/us-forces-preparing-sudden-nuclear.html 

https://www.times-gazette.com/ap%20general%20news/2016/10/12/russia-china-to-mull-joint-response-to-us-missile-shield  

http://themillenniumreport.com/2017/04/us-forces-preparing-sudden-nuclear-strike-on-russia-moscow-security-conference/ 

The Times-Gazett in Ashland, Ohio, was the only US print media that a Google search could turn up that reported this most alarming of all announcements. A Google search turned up no reports on US TV, and none on Canadian, Australian, European, or any other media except RT and Internet sites.

I have been unable to find any report that any US Senator or Representative or any European, Canadian, or Australian politician has raised a voice of concern.

No one in Washington got on the telephone to tell Putin that this was all a mistake, that the US was not preparing a nuclear first strike on Russia, or ask Putin how this serious situation could be defused.

Americans do not even know about it, except for my readers.

I would have expected at least that the CIA would have planted the story in the Washington Post, the New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, and NPR that General Poznihir was expressing his personal opinion, nothing to be taken seriously. But apparently Americans and their European vassals are not to even know that such an accussation was made.

As I reported some time ago and more recently in my column about North Korea, the Chinese leadership has also concluded that the US intends a nuclear first strike against China.

Alone either Russia or China can destroy the US. If they act together, the destruction of the US would be redundant. What is the intelligence, if any, and morality, clearly none, of the US leadership that recklessly and irresponsibly invites Russia and China to preempt Washington’s attack on them with an attack on the US?

Surely not even insouciant Americans are so stupid as to think that Russia and China will just sit there and wait for Washington’s nuclear attack.

I lived through every stage of the Cold War. I participated in it. Never in my life have I experienced the situation where two nuclear powers were convinced that the third was going to surprise them with a nuclear attack.

I supported Trump because he, unlike Hillary, said he would normalize relations with Russia. Instead he has raised the tensions between the nuclear powers. Nothing is more irresponsible or dangerous.

We currently are in the most dangerous situation of my lifetime, and there is ZERO AWARENESS AND NO DISCUSSION!

How can this be? Putin has been issuing warnings for years. He has told the Western presstitute media on more than one occasion that they, in their dishonesty, are pushing the world to nuclear war. Putin has said over and over, “I issue warnings and no one hears.” “How do I get through to you?”

Maybe the morons will hear when mushroom clouds appear over Washington and New York, and Europe ceases to exist, as it will if Europe continues the confrontation with Russia as is required from Washington’s well-paid vassals.

Continued here

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US Nuclear Breakthrough Endangers the World: America’s ‘Surprise First Strike Attack’

By Conn Hallinan

At a time of growing tensions between nuclear powers—Russia and NATO in Europe, and the U.S., North Korea and China in Asia—Washington has quietly upgraded its nuclear weapons arsenal to create, according to three leading American scientists, “exactly what one would expect to see, if a nuclear-armed state were planning to have the capacity to fight and win a nuclear war by disarming enemies with a surprise first strike.”

Writing in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project of the American Federation of Scientists, Matthew McKinzie of the Natural Resources Defense Council, and physicist and ballistic missile expert Theodore Postol, conclude that “Under the veil of an otherwise-legitimate warhead life-extension program,” the U.S. military has vastly expanded the “killing power” of its warheads such that it can “now destroy all of Russia’s ICBM silos.”

The upgrade—part of the Obama administration’s $1 trillion modernization of America’s nuclear forces—allows Washington to destroy Russia’s land-based nuclear weapons, while still retaining 80 percent of the U.S.’s warheads in reserve. If Russia chose to retaliate, it would be reduced to ash.

Any discussion of nuclear war encounters several major problems. First, it is difficult to imagine or to grasp what it would mean in real life. We have only had one conflict involving nuclear weapons—the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945—and the memory of those events has faded over the years. In any case, the two bombs that flattened the Japanese cities bear little resemblance to the killing power of modern nuclear weapons.

The Hiroshima bomb exploded with a force of 15 kilotons. The Nagasaki bomb was slightly more powerful at about 18 kt. Between them, they killed over 215,000 people. In contrast, the most common nuclear weapon in the U.S. arsenal today, the W76, has an explosive power of 100 kt. The next most common, the W88, packs a 475-kt punch.

Another problem is that most of the public thinks nuclear war is impossible because both sides would be destroyed. This is the idea behind the policy of Mutually Assured Destruction, aptly named “MAD.”

But MAD is not a U.S. military doctrine. A “first strike” attack has always been central to U.S. military planning, until recently, however, there was no guarantee that such an attack would so cripple an opponent that it would be unable—or unwilling, given the consequences of total annihilation— to retaliate.

The strategy behind a first strike—sometimes called a “counter force” attack—is not to destroy an opponent’s population centers, but to eliminate the other sides’ nuclear weapons, or at least most of them. Anti-missile systems would then intercept a weakened retaliatory strike.

The technical breakthrough that suddenly makes this a possibility is something called the “super-fuze”, which allows for a much more precise ignition of a warhead. If the aim is to blow up a city, such precision is superfluous, but taking out a reinforced missile silo requires a warhead to exert a force of at least 10,000 pounds per square inch on the target.

Up until the 2009 modernization program, the only way to do that was to use the much more powerful—but limited in numbers—W88 warhead. Fitted with the super-fuze, however, the smaller W76 can now do the job, freeing the W88 for other targets.

Traditionally, land-based missiles are more accurate than sea-based missiles, but the former are more vulnerable to a first-strike than the latter, because submarines are good at hiding. The new super-fuze does not increase the accuracy of Trident II submarine missiles, but it makes up for that with the precision of where the weapon detonates.

“In the case of the 100-kt Trident II warhead,” write the three scientists, “the super-fuze triples the killing power of the nuclear force it is applied to.”

Before the super-fuze was deployed, only 20 percent of U.S. subs had the ability to destroy re-enforced missile silos. Today, all have that capacity.

Trident II missiles typically carry from four to five warheads, but can expand that up to eight. While the missile is capable of hosting as many as 12 warheads, that configuration would violate current nuclear treaties. U.S. submarines currently deploy about 890 warheads, of which 506 are W76s and 384 are W88s.

The land-based ICBMs are Minuteman III, each armed with three warheads—400 in total—ranging from 300 kt to 500 kt apiece. There are also air and sea-launched nuclear tipped missiles and bombs. The Tomahawk cruise missiles that recently struck Syria can be configured to carry a nuclear warhead.

The super-fuze also increases the possibility of an accidental nuclear conflict.

Continued here

***

Donald Trump and Theresa May–Partners in Planning Armageddon?

By Felicity Arbuthnot

Trump, various Generals with incomprehensible psychedelic bits of cloth adorning their clothing and varying spokespeople, terrifyingly, will not “rule out” a nuclear strike on North Korea (population just 25.16 million v US population 321.4 million, incidentally) which could ignite a nuclear war.

Five times draft evader Donald Trump seemingly lacks even a miniscule concept of the apocalypse even “conventional” weapons unleash. When he launched – arguably illegally – forty nine Cruise missiles which rained down on Syria (Thursday 6th April) whilst having dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping, he remembered he was eating “a beautiful piece of chocolate cake”, but forgot the country he was attacking, muddling Syria with Iraq, so lightly was the unthinkable undertaken. Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross was quoted as calling the strike “after dinner entertainment.”

If Trump was thoughtful…

If Trump read and was thoughtful (the first apparently absent from his activities and the second seemingly fatally flawed) he might have reflected on North Korea’s genuine fears. Near erased from the earth by the US (1950-1953) constantly threatened over subsequent decades, Trump might have recalled the words of Joseph Rotblat, co-recipient of the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize with the Pugwash Conferences, for: “their efforts to diminish the part played by nuclear arms in international affairs and, in the longer run, to eliminate such arms.”

Rotblat observed that:

“If the militarily most powerful and least threatened states need nuclear weapons for their security, how can one deny such security to countries that are truly insecure? The present nuclear policy is a recipe for proliferation. It is a policy for disaster.”

 Another aspect of Theresa May’s Trump-like affliction is her equal lack of reflection. Determined apparently that she can play the world annihilation game with Trump led her Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, to announce that she would fire the UK’s nuclear weapons as a “first strike”, if necessary.

“In the most extreme circumstances, we have made it very clear that you can’t rule out the use of nuclear weapons as a first strike”, he told the BBC’s Radio 4.

Fallon’s comments “disgusting”

The reaction of Russian Senator Frants Klintsevich, Deputy Chairman of the Upper House of the Russian Parliament’s Defence and Security Committee, was to call Fallon’s comments “disgusting”, saying they deserved a “tough response.” He gave it in no uncertain terms pointing out that: “Britain, not having the biggest territory”, would “literally be erased from the face of the earth”, were it to launch a preemptive strike. He asked pointedly: “Against whom is Great Britain going to preemptively use nuclear weapons?”

In context, there is no proof whatsoever that North Korea has an integrated nuclear weapons programme (ie the weapons with the system to fire them.) It certainly has a nuclear bluster programme developed out of fear resulting from near seven decades of threats, with a vast US arsenal just across it’s border with nearing 30,000 US military personnel, twelve US bases, one provocatively named “Red Cloud” – and since 2006 further isolation in the form of sanctions. Now of course, there are also Donald Trump’s threats and declared “armada” of war ships, bristling with more nation erasing armaments.

Senator Klintsevich added witheringly that if Britain intended to use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state: “then probably English people desperately want to share the laurels of the USA who threw nuclear bombs at defenceless Hiroshima and Nagasaki” (in 1945.)

“But those times have gone for good, as has the era of the greatness of the British Empire.”

However, undeterred by Russia’s warning, in a speech at London’s Royal Institute for International Affairs (Chatham House) the following day, Fallon again confirmed: ” … we have made it very clear that you can’t rule out the use of nuclear weapons as a first strike.”

The authoritative political on line publication The Canary, asked in what circumstances impending Armageddon would be triggered, he replied: “They are better not specified or described, which would only give comfort to our enemies and make the deterrent less credible.”

The Canary’s article is in stark contrast to the casual talk in Washington and London of unleashing the unthinkable, it is headed:

“The Conservative government just signed the UK’s death warrant. Quite literally.”

It opens:

“It’s already clear that part of the Conservative government’s general election strategy is to peg itself as ‘militarily tough’. And to prove that, Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon has made an astonishing claim. One that essentially signs the UK’s death warrant.

“The UK will, he asserts, not hesitate to fire nuclear weapons in a first strike. That means the Tories won’t wait until the UK is under attack in some way to start a global nuclear war. It will just start firing at will. This is a complete break from the UK’s historical stance. And it’s one that, considering the UK’s size, could conclude with the country lying at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

“The UK’s nuclear arsenal (Trident) is up for renewal, which will potentially cost taxpayers over £200bn. Its renewal is in violation of the UK’s commitment to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). But a number of politicians and their backers profit from Trident’s existence. So, unsurprisingly, it’s quite popular in parliament.(Emphasis added.)

“The largely US-owned Trident system puts two hundred and fifteen nuclear warheads at the UK’s disposal, according to the Arms Control Association (ACA).”

The Canary article also throws up the further unthinkable and leads to wondering if the threats to North Korea are either a red herring or a proposed practice run in this new, legally unconstrained, morally and reason-free political zone:

“… in terms of defence, there has been one country firmly at the forefront of UK ministers’ minds over the last few years: Russia. It was the hot topic at a Commons Defence Committee meeting in December 2016. A session where Fallon asserted we’d be ready for war with Russia by 2018/19. In 2015, meanwhile, the country received a listing as a top-tier threat in the UK’s National Security Strategy (NSS). And, of course, NATO has stationed troops (including ones from the UK) directly on Russia’s borders.”

However, Mrs. May-hem and Defence Secretary Fallon have apparently forgotten that:  “Russia … has seven thousand nuclear warheads (with) four thousand five hundred either deployed or stockpiled … around thirty three times more warheads than the UK has.”

Continued here

The Emperor Has No Clothes: Podcast on Israeli Apartheid

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Under international law apartheid is considered a crime against humanity. A UN report documenting Israeli practices of apartheid came under immediate attack after its publication earlier this year. US Ambassador Nikki Haley leveled furious and virulent denunciations of it at the UN, while the authors were smeared as anti-Semites in the media.

Caving into pressure, UN Secretary General Antionio Guterres removed the report from the UN’s website, prompting the resignation of Rima Khalaf, head of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, the UN agency that produced the report. All this happened back in March of this year. I put up a post about it at the time recounting the controversy and describing some of the malicious accusations being hurled, but other than a couple of brief quotes I did not get into the contents of the report itself.

Recently, however, the Christian website We Hold These Truths posted a two-part podcast featuring a discussion–not only on the attacks against the report, but also delving into the nuts and bolts of the report itself.

“What’s so amazing about all these ad hominem attacks is that no one is countering any of the facts that are presented in the report,” comments Craig Hansen, the guest on the program. “I’ve been looking and I can’t find any source debunking any of the claims asserted in the report. They just don’t like the conclusion that Israel is an apartheid state.”

Hansen’s own conclusion, after reading the entire 74-page report: that “the emperor has no clothes.” Or to put it another way, Israel now stands exposed as an apartheid state. The authors of the report, Richard Falk, a professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University and a former UN Special Rapporteur in the Middle East, and Virginia Tilley, a Professor of Political Science specializing in the comparative study of racial and ethnic conflict at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, have left no stone unturned. As Hansen describes it, they have examined Israeli policies, laws that have been enacted and put in place over its entire history, and they have assembled enough evidence probably to convict the Zionist state of the crime of apartheid in an international court of law. Their findings, conclusions, and recommendations are all documented in detail in the report, he notes, and he discusses what some of those conclusions are.

For one thing–and this probably accounts for why the report was hammered and denounced so vigorously–all UN-member states, because apartheid is a crime against humanity, have an obligation, not just a moral obligation but a legal obligation, to oppose and obstruct apartheid wherever in the world, and in whatever country or territory, it may be practiced. The implications are obvious. Had the report been left to stand it could have led to a situation in which every single UN member state would not only have been justified in imposing sanctions on Israel, but would have, at least in theory, been legally bound to do so. It would, in effect, have been the BDS movement on steroids.

Another interesting aspect of the program is how the report was treated by the Christian Broadcasting Network, described by Hansen (accurately) as a “Christian Zionist mouthpiece.” On March 15, the same day the report was published, the CBN posted an article headlined, “Haley Accuses UN of Demonizing Israel,” the tone of which lauds the US ambassador while describing Falk as being “known for accusing America and her Jewish ally of being colonial empires.”

Counting oneself a Christian, while at the same professing support for Israel, as I’ve noted before, are mutually incompatible. You can either be a follower of the man who said “blessed are the peacemakers” or you can support the apartheid state, but you cannot do both. Maybe the UN report will help make this more clear to people. My hope is that a Christian Zionist or two (or three) will read the report or at least listen to the podcast.

At any rate, part one of the podcast can be found here.

Part two is here.

You can also go here to visit the We Hold These Truths website, and here to access the full UN report, entitled “Israeli Practices Toward the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid,” in PDF form.

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