Corrupt FIFA Has Clinton Foundation Ties; World Cup Host Qatar Gave Millions

Jackie Kucinich reports for The Daily Beast:

The Clinton global charity has received between $50,000 and $100,000 from soccer’s governing body and has partnered with the Fédération Internationale de Football Association on several occasions, according to donor listings on the foundation’s website.

Several top FIFA executives were arrested Wednesday in Zurich and face corruption charges stretching back two decades, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Involvement with the embattled body extends beyond the foundation to Bill Clinton himself. The former president was an honorary chairman of the bid committee put together to promote the United States as a possible host nation for the 2018 or 2022 World Cup.

When the U.S. lost the 2022 bid to Qatar, Clinton was rumored to be so upset he shattered a mirror.

But apparently Qatar tried to make it up to him.’


Documentaries: FIFA’s Dirty Secrets (2010) and Football’s Shame (2011)


FIFA Officials Arrested on Corruption Charges; Blatter Isn’t Among Them

SEE ALSO: You can follow live updates throughout the day here.

Matt Apuzzo, Michael S. Schmidt, William K. Rashbaum and Sam Borden report for The New York Times:

Swiss authorities conducted an extraordinary early-morning operation here Wednesday to arrest several top soccer officials and extradite them to the United States on federal corruption charges.

As leaders of FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, gathered for their annual meeting, more than a dozen plain-clothed Swiss law enforcement officials arrived unannounced at the Baur au Lac hotel, an elegant five-star property with views of the Alps and Lake Zurich. They went to the front desk to get keys and proceeded upstairs to the rooms.

The arrests were carried out peacefully. One FIFA official, Eduardo Li of Costa Rica, was led by the authorities from his room to a side-door exit of the hotel. He was allowed to bring his luggage, which was adorned with FIFA logos.

The charges, backed by an F.B.I. investigation, allege widespread corruption in FIFA over the past two decades, involving bids for World Cups as well as marketing and broadcast deals, according to three law enforcement officials with direct knowledge of the case.’


Stop Feeding the Troll: The Case for an ISIS Propaganda Blackout

Adam Johnson reports for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR):

London Express: ISIS and mushroom cloud[…] This isn’t the first time the media has engaged in what I call the “Nancy Grace Factor” when it comes to ISIS. The Nancy Grace Factor, named after the perpetually indignant cable news host, is when a media outlet ostensibly condemns some terrible—yet titillating—menace while simultaneously trading in its exploits. It permits the pundit to excoriate the subject matter while also feeding its scary details to the rubbernecking masses to drive ratings and traffic.

This mentality explains most of corporate media’s ISIS coverage and—as is readily apparent by the never-ending stream of snuff films coming from their Al Hayat Media Center—ISIS propagandists as well. The media’s account of the rise of ISIS has uniformly been defined by hyping  its ambition, its scope and its sheer bad-assery, thus carrying water for ISIS’s core argument that it, and it alone, is the Islamic vanguard against Western colonial aggression.

Indeed, as much ink as has been spilled by corporate media pearl-clutching the “threat of the ISIS propaganda machine” and ISIS’s unstoppableTwitter army,” what’s never mentioned is that by sheer reach, the vast majority of ISIS propaganda is, in fact, disseminated by corporate media themselves.

ISIS, like any good troll, requires predictable outrage from the trollee in order to justify its troll strategy.’


Amid the ruins of Syria, is Bashar al-Assad now finally facing the end?

Martin Chulov reports for The Guardian:

Syria's president Bashar al-AssadOne evening at the end of March, a Syrian rebel leader returned from a meeting across the border in Turkey and called an urgent gathering of his commanders. The five men turned up at their boss’s house in Idlib province expecting to receive the same pleas for patience that they had always heard and more grim news about cash and weapons being hard to find. This time, though, they were in for a shock.

“He arrived looking eager,” said one of the commanders. “That caught our attention straight away. But when he started to speak, we were all stunned.”

The leader, who asked that his unit not be identified, said he told his men that the grinding war of attrition they had fought against the Syrian government since early 2012 was about to turn in their favour.

“And the reason for that was that I could now get nearly all the weapons I wanted,” he told the Observer. “For the first time they were not holding anything from us – except anti-aircraft missiles. The Turks and their friends wanted this over with.”

The leader says he explained that they and every other opposition group in the north, with the exception of Islamic State (Isis), were about to be beneficiaries of a detente between regional powers who had agreed to put their own rivalries aside and focus on a common enemy – the Syrian regime.’


Syria regime preparing for partition of the country

Sammy Ketz reports for The Times of Israel:

Weakened by years of war, Syria’s government appears ready for the country’s de facto partition, defending strategically important areas and leaving much of the country to rebels and jihadists, experts and diplomats say.

The strategy was in evidence last week with the army’s retreat from the ancient central city of Palmyra after an advance by the Islamic State group.

“It is quite understandable that the Syrian army withdraws to protect large cities where much of the population is located,” said Waddah Abded Rabbo, director of Syria’s al-Watan newspaper, which is close to the regime.

“The world must think about whether the establishment of two terrorist states is in its interests or not,” he said, in reference to IS’s self-proclaimed ‘caliphate’ in Syria and Iraq, and al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front’s plans for its own ’emirate’ in northern Syria.’


Assad Has Lost Over 50% of Syria, Country Could Turn Into Another Afghanistan: Interview with Larry Wilkerson

Larry Wilkerson is a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel and a former Chief of Staff to Colin Powell. In this interview he says that Syria could turn into another Afghanistan with America’s and Saudi Arabia’s policies in support radical groups creating blowback which will be significant to the Middle East region. (The Real News)

Clinton Foundation Donors Got Weapons Deals From Hillary Clinton’s State Department

David Sirota and Andrew Perez report for International Business Times:

[…] Under Hillary Clinton’s leadership, the State Department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 nations whose governments have given money to the Clinton Foundation, according to an IBTimes analysis of State Department and foundation data. That figure — derived from the three full fiscal years of Clinton’s term as Secretary of State (from October 2010 to September 2012) — represented nearly double the value of American arms sales made to the those countries and approved by the State Department during the same period of President George W. Bush’s second term.

The Clinton-led State Department also authorized $151 billion of separate Pentagon-brokered deals for 16 of the countries that donated to the Clinton Foundation, resulting in a 143 percent increase in completed sales to those nations over the same time frame during the Bush administration. These extra sales were part of a broad increase in American military exports that accompanied Obama’s arrival in the White House.

American defense contractors also donated to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state and in some cases made personal payments to Bill Clinton for speaking engagements. Such firms and their subsidiaries were listed as contractors in $163 billion worth of Pentagon-negotiated deals that were authorized by the Clinton State Department between 2009 and 2012.’


Is Iraq Body Count linked to the Pentagon? Interview with Nafeez Ahmed

‘Author, journalist and executive director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development, Nafeez Ahmed, tells “Going Underground” host Afshin Rattansi how casualty-counting British NGO, Iraq Body Count might be linked to Pentagon. He explains that Iraqi civilian casualties numbers might be a lot higher than we were previously told.’ (Going Underground)

John Pilger: “There is no war on terror… there is a war OF terror”

EU dropped pesticide laws due to US pressure over TTIP, documents reveal

MUST READ: TTIP explained: The secretive US-EU treaty that undermines democracy

Arthur Neslen reports for The Guardian:

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)EU moves to regulate hormone-damaging chemicals linked to cancer and male infertility were shelved following pressure from US trade officials over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) free trade deal, newly released documents show.

Draft EU criteria could have banned 31 pesticides containing endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). But these were dumped amid fears of a trade backlash stoked by an aggressive US lobby push, access to information documents obtained by Pesticides Action Network (PAN) Europe show.

On 26 June 2013, a high-level delegation from the American Chambers of Commerce (AmCham) visited EU trade officials to insist that the bloc drop its planned criteria for identifying EDCs in favour of a new impact study.

Minutes of the meeting show commission officials pleading that “although they want the TTIP to be successful, they would not like to be seen as lowering the EU standards”.’


TTIP explained: The secretive US-EU treaty that undermines democracy

Glyn Moody writes for Ars Technica:

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), sometimes known as the Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA), is currently being negotiated behind closed doors by the European Union and the US. If it is successfully completed, it will be the biggest trade agreement in history. But TTIP is not just something of interest to export businesses: it will affect most areas of everyday life, including the online world.

Opponents fear it could undermine many of Europe’s hard-won laws protecting online privacy, health, safety and the environment, even democracy itself. For example, it could effectively place US investors in the EU above the law by allowing companies to claim compensation from an EU country when it brings in a regulation that allegedly harms their investments—and for EU companies to attack US laws in the same way.

Those far-reaching effects flow from the fact that TTIP is not a traditional trade agreement, which generally seeks to lower tariffs between nations so as to increase trade between them. The tariffs between the US and EU are already very low—under 3%—so there is little scope to boost transatlantic trade significantly by removing the remaining tariffs completely.

Instead, TTIP aims to go beyond tariffs, and to remove what it calls “non-tariff barriers.” These refer to the different ways of doing things which make it hard for a company to sell exactly the same product on both sides of the Atlantic. Typically, different national regulations require different kinds of tests and product information, which leads to a duplication of effort that adds costs and delays to making products available in the other market.

TTIP’s stated aim to smooth away those NTBs is good news for the companies, but not so much for pesky humans. What are classed as “barriers” include things like regulations that protect the environment or the online privacy of Europeans. The threat to diminish or remove them in the name of transatlantic “harmonisation” has turned the traditionally rather dull area of trade agreements into the most important focus for civil action in years, galvanising a broad spectrum of groups on both sides of the Atlantic that see TTIP not as a potential boon, but a bane.’


Jose Manuel Barroso, Austerity Politics and the European Future

Andrew Gavin Marshall wrote in February:

In June of 2009, the European Parliament held elections – the only aspect of the European Union requiring democratic participation by the people of Europe as they elect MEPs to a rubber-stamp parliament that holds virtually no power. That year, center-right parties across much of Europe “celebrated a resounding election victory.” In particular, José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, declared the election results were “an undeniable victory for those parties and candidates that support the European project.”

That same month, Barroso was campaigning to keep his position as EC president for a second term, hosting a dinner in Brussels for European leaders that “transformed into a glorified job interview” where Barroso had to “make his pitch.” The “unique and elaborate process” of achieving and maintaining top spots in the EU’s technocratic hierarchy reflected a “love of complexity,” explained the New York Times. But, more importantly, it reflected Europe’s “reliance on brutal power politics, as countries try to use their votes as leverage, seeking concessions from the next president.”

Barroso, who served as prime minister of Portugal from 2002 to 2004, has attended numerous meetings with the Bilderberg Group: in 1994, 2003, 2005 and 2013. On top of that, he has attended meetings of the Trilateral Commission, including the one that took place in Portugal in 2003 while Barroso was prime minister. He also attended the Commission’s annual meeting in 2007 that took place in Brussels while he was the European Commission president.’


Cuba’s media: Revolution, resistance and transition

‘Cuba is a notoriously difficult place to get accreditation – let alone talk to journalists. Most of the media on the island are state run. It has been that way ever since the revolution in 1959, when Fidel Castro overthrew the US-backed Batista government with a socialist one that is still in place. Many dismiss the media in Cuba as mere relics of its Cold War past – Soviet-style propaganda machines designed to control the masses. But now there is a diplomatic transition underway – a rapprochement with the US aimed at ending decades of animosity between the two countries. As the relationship with Washington changes, Cuban media outlets like Granma, Huventud Rebelde, Radio Havana – will undoubtedly change too. There has already been some reform – an opening up – of Cuban media: accreditation and access are easier to get, officials are more open to talking, although there are still plenty of red lines journalists there know better than to cross. The Listening Post’s Marcela Pizarro reports from Havana on the media landscape, the changes taking place and what is all means for journalism in Cuba.’ (Al Jazeera)

2015 Memorial Day: Praying for Peace While Waging Permanent War?

Bill Quigley writes for CounterPunch:

Memorial Day is, by federal law, a day of prayer for permanent peace.   But is it possible to honestly pray for peace while our country is far and away number one in the world in waging war, military presence, military spending and the sale of weapons around the world?

Permanent War

Since 1980 the US has engaged in aggressive military action in 14 countries in the Islamic world alone, according to research published in the Washington Post: Iran (1980, 1987-1988), Libya (1981, 1986, 1989, 2011), Lebanon (1983), Kuwait (1991), Iraq (1991-2011, 2014-), Somalia (1992-1993, 2007-), Bosnia (1995), Saudi Arabia (1991, 1996), Afghanistan (1998, 2001-), Sudan (1998), Kosovo (1999), Yemen (2000, 2002-), Pakistan (2004-) and now Syria. In this hemisphere, US military forces invaded Grenada (1983) and Panama (1989), and landed 20,000 military forces in Haiti (1994).

US Global War Machine

The US has 1.3 million people in the military and another million serve in the military reserves. The US has over 700 military bases in 63 countries across the world deploying over 255,000 US military personnel there. The Department of Defense officially manages over 555,000 buildings on 4400 properties inside the US and in over 700 properties across the globe.   The US has over 1500 strategic nuclear warheads, over 13,000 military aircraft, dozens of submarines, many of which carry nuclear weapons, and 88 huge destroyer warships.’


20% of Africans Live in Post-Conflict Fragile States: Interview with Leonce Ndikumana

‘Leonce Ndikumana, director of the African Policy Program at the Political Economy Research Institute says while poverty, inequality, weak institutions, and low development in general are the outcome of fragility, they also undermine efforts to accelerate economic development in these countries. He also says aid and timing coupled with a national economic development strategy by sector is required for success.’ (The Real News)

Former Reagan Adviser: Fox News Is A “Self-brainwashing” Bubble That Is Destroying The GOP

Duncan Campbell at Ditchley: Talking to GCHQ (interception not required)

Duncan Campbell writes:

A remarkable consequence of the Snowden revelations took place last week (14 May), when a former “C” (Chief of the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service (MI6)) presided as forty-plus participants from around the world sat down in private for three days to talk intensively through changed approaches to intelligence, security and privacy.

I was asked to open the conference discussions, in conjunction with GCHQ’s new Director, Robert Hannigan (pictured below). No-one argued against calls for greater openness. That’s a first; coming 40 years after a time when it was a crime in Britain even to mention the existence of GCHQ, and programmes on the subject were banned.

Perhaps to many participants’ surprise, there was general agreement across broad divides of opinion that Snowden – love him or hate him – had changed the landscape; and that change towards transparency, or at least “translucency” and providing more information about intelligence activities affecting privacy, was both overdue and necessary. An event like this would have been inconceivable without Snowden.

Away from the foetid heat of political posturing and populist headlines, I heard some unexpected and suprising comments from senior intelligence voices, including that “cold winds of transparency” had arrived and were here to stay.’


#AlbumoftheWeek ~ III by BADBADNOTGOOD (2014)

‘Toronto-based jazz trio BadBadNotGood‘s third album is their first on the Innovative Leisure label and also the first full-length to feature all their own compositions. The Canadians first made waves early in the 2010s while posting videos of them playing jazz covers of hip-hop tracks by the likes of Odd Futureand MF Doom. They maintained this ethos into their first two records, BBNG and BBNG2, by covering the likes of A Tribe Called Quest and Kanye West as well as My Bloody Valentine and Feist. III captures the raw energy, togetherness, and musicianship of a live concert, at points drifting off at a tangent and then rejoining to climactic chord structures and beautiful jazz melodies. (Read the full review by James Pearce at All Music)

Who’s Supporting Assad? Interview with Charles Glass

‘Charles Glass discusses his essay “In the Syria We Don’t Know.” He drove through Syria in October 2014 to see how the country’s civil war had impacted daily life. With Bashar al-Assad benefiting from US-led airstrikes on the Islamic State, and large areas of the country under his regime’s control, Glass found people carrying on at a relatively normal pace amid the conflict. But signs of death and personal loss were inescapable, as resentment mounted among citizens who feel they have no choice but to support Assad or be slaughtered at the hands of Sunni radicals.’ (VICE News)

Protests as debate over GM crops and pesticides heats up

Jihadi threat requires move into ‘private space’ of UK Muslims, says police chief

Vikram Dodd reports for The Guardian:

Isis flagIslamist propaganda is so potent it is influencing children as young as five and should be countered with intensified monitoring to detect the earliest signs of anti-western sentiment, Britain’s most senior Muslim police chief has warned.

Scotland Yard commander Mak Chishty said children aged five had voiced opposition to marking Christmas, branding it as “haram” – forbidden by Islam. He also warned that there was no end in sight to the parade of British Muslims, some 700 so far, being lured from their bedrooms to Syria by Islamic State (Isis) propaganda.

In an interview with the Guardian, Chishty said there was now a need for “a move into the private space” of Muslims to spot views that could show the beginning of radicalisation far earlier. He said this could be shown by subtle changes in behaviour, such as shunning certain shops, citing the example of Marks & Spencer, which could be because the store is sometimes mistakenly perceived to be Jewish-owned.

Chishty said friends and family of youngsters should be intervening much earlier, watching out for subtle, unexplained changes, which could also include sudden negative attitudes towards alcohol, social occasions and western clothing. They should challenge and understand what caused such changes in behaviour, the police commander said, and seek help, if needs be from the police, if they are worried.’


ISIS and the ‘Costa’ caliphate: what a militant claims the ‘holiday’ state is like

ISIS claims responsibility for Saudi mosque attack

Media Executives Are Salivating Over Big Money Flooding the 2016 Election Cycle

Lee Fang writes for The Intercept:

Featured photo - Media Executives Are Salivating Over Big Money Flooding the 2016 Election CycleAt least one small slice of the American public looks forward to the non-stop, sleazy political advertisements set to inundate viewers during the 2016 elections: media executives and their investors.

Peter Liguori, the chief executive of Tribune Company, said earlier this month that the next presidential campaign presents “enormous opportunity” for advertising sales. Speaking at a conference hosted by J.P. Morgan Chase, Liguori, whose company owns television stations and a number of newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, referenced Super PAC spending as a key factor for why he thinks Tribune Co. political advertising revenue will rocket from $115 million in 2012 to about $200 million for the 2016 campaign cycle.

Vince Sadusky, the chief executive of Media General, the parent company of 71 television stations across the country, told investors in February that his company is positioned to benefit from unlimited campaign spending, referencing decisions by the Supreme Court. “We are really looking forward to the 2016 elections with spending on the presidential race alone estimated to surpass $5 billion,” Sadusky said, according to a transcript of his remarks.’


Secret Pentagon report reveals West saw ISIS as strategic asset

Nafeez Ahmed writes for Medium:

A declassified secret US government document obtained by the conservative public interest law firm, Judicial Watch, shows that the Western governments deliberately allied with al-Qaeda in Iraq and Syria, to topple Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad.

The document reveals that in coordination with the Gulf states and Turkey, the West intentionally sponsored violent Islamist groups to destabilize Assad, despite anticipating that doing so could lead to the emergence of an ‘Islamic State’ in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

According to the newly declassified US document, the Pentagon foresaw the likely rise of the ‘Islamic State’ as a direct consequence of the strategy, but described this outcome as a strategic opportunity to “isolate the Syrian regime.”’


ISIS magazine Dabiq attacks ‘conspiracy theories’ causing jihadists to flee

Umberto Bacchi reports for International Business Times:

Dabiq Isis Magazine The Islamic State (Isis) group has released a new issue of its slick propaganda magazine Dabiq, featuring articles justifying the enslavement of Yazidi girls and condemning conspiracy theorists, as well as a report by British hostage John Cantlie.

[…] The publication features an article suggesting that the terror group is losing militants to conspiracy theories.

Titled Conspiracy Theory Shirk (Sin) the piece implies that some fighters have grown delusional because of conjectures saying that IS is a puppet in the hands of western intelligence agencies.

“If the mujahedeen liberated territory occupied by the kuffar [infidels], they would say that the kuffar allowed them to do so because kafir [disbelievers] interests’ necessitated a prolonged war,” the article reads.

“According to these theorists, almost all the events of the world were somehow linked back to the kuffar, their intelligence agencies, research, technology, and co-conspirators! Conspiracy theories have thereby become an excuse to abandon jihad.”‘


Saudi Arabia “seeking to head United Nations Human Rights Council”

Roisin O’Connor reports for The Independent:

Saudi Arabia is reportedly planning to make a bid to head the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, in a move that has been described as the “final nail in the coffin for the credibility” of the HRC.

Reports of the bid come just days after Saudi Arabia posted a job advertisement for eight new executioners. This year it has already put 85 people to death in what has been branded by Amnesty International a “macabre spike” from the 87 people it killed in total last year.

The country will move to assume lead control over the HRC after 2016 when the presidency is awarded to a new nation.

UN Watch, a non-profit human rights group that monitors the international body, disclosed Saudi Arabia’s intentions in a recent report and urged the United States to fight against it.’


Forget What We Know Now: We Knew Then the Iraq War Was a Joke

Editor’s Note: Matt Taibbi was recently interviewed about the role of the media in the lead up to the Iraq War on Democracy Now!

Matt Taibbi writes for Rolling Stone:

Jeb Bush[…] The media quickly piled on. “Jeb Bush’s Iraq Stumble” was the title of the Wall Street Journal’s “Journal Editorial Report” on Fox. “On Iraq Question, Jeb Bush Stumbles and GOP Hopefuls Pounce,” countered the Washington Post.

“Jeb Bush’s Revisionist History of the Iraq War,” wrote New York Times Editorial Page editor Andrew Rosenthal. “Yeah, Jeb Bush’s argument that the Iraq War was right even in retrospect is insane,” tweeted current New York and erstwhile New Republic writer Jonathan Chait early in the story cycle, when Jeb was still defending the war.

A few writers, like Steve Chapman at the Chicago Tribune, criticized Jeb for not disavowing the “reckless adventurism” of the Bush II era that led to the war in the first place. In other words, Chapman blasted Jeb for being wrong then and now.

But the substance of most of the media mockery in the last week was to whale on Jeb for not admitting quickly enough that the war, in hindsight, given “what we know now,” was a huge mistake.

We can call this the “None of us pundits would have been wrong about Iraq if it wasn’t for Judith Miller” line of questioning. This rhetoric goes something like this: since we invaded, the war has gone epically FUBAR, so it’s obvious now that it was a mistake, and so we can mock you for not admitting as much.’



Indicted: Grand Jury Brings Charges Against Baltimore Police Officers Tied to Freddie Gray Death

‘A grand jury has indicted six Baltimore police officers in the death of Freddie Gray, clearing the path for a criminal trial in the Maryland courts. Freddie Gray died on April 19 from his injuries suffered in police custody. The indictments came nearly three weeks after Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby first announced her decision to bring criminal charges against the officers. While some of the charges have been amended, the most serious ones — second-degree murder against Officer Caesar Goodson and involuntary manslaughter against four of the officers — remained intact. We speak to longtime Baltimore civil rights attorney A. Dwight Pettit.’ (Democracy Now!)