Iraq: 4,134 Killed in February

Margaret Griffis reports for Antiwar:

‘At least 4,134 people were killed during the short month of February. Another 2,280 were wounded. These numbers combine figures released by the United Nations and various media outlets. The number of fatalities dropped considerably from January’s count of 6,106 dead. That may be due to the shorter month. The number of those injured increased slightly, however, by forty wounded.

In this column, Antiwar.com found that 1,097 civilians and security personnel were killed, and 3,031 militants were reported killed, for a total of 4,128. At least 1,381 were wounded, including 199 militants. Our figures are compiled from news reports, but they should be considered estimates, particularly those of militant deaths.

The United Nations also released their figures, which are complied by their associates in Iraq. They found that 1,103 civilians and security personnel were killed, but they do not count militant deaths. Although that is close to what the media has reported, they found 2,280 who were wounded. That number is much higher. They warn that these are the bare minimum numbers. It is likely that the figures are much higher.’

READ MORE…

Why the rise of fascism is again the issue

John Pilger writes:

ukraine_obama_nobel.JPGThe recent 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz was a reminder of the great crime of fascism, whose Nazi iconography is embedded in our consciousness. Fascism is preserved as history, as flickering footage of goose-stepping blackshirts, their criminality terrible and clear. Yet in the same liberal societies, whose war-making elites urge us never to forget, the accelerating danger of a modern kind of fascism is suppressed; for it is their fascism.

“To initiate a war of aggression…,” said the Nuremberg Tribunal judges in 1946, “is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

Had the Nazis not invaded Europe, Auschwitz and the Holocaust would not have happened. Had the United States and its satellites not initiated their war of aggression in Iraq in 2003, almost a million people would be alive today; and Islamic State, or ISIS, would not have us in thrall to its savagery. They are the progeny of modern fascism, weaned by the bombs, bloodbaths and lies that are the surreal theatre known as news.’

READ MORE…

Kremlin Funded Media Sees Cuts as Russian Economy Slows

Delphine d’Amora reports for The Moscow Times:

Pro-Kremlin broadcaster RT and news agency Rossiya Segodnya will have to slash spending by 50 percent or more and likely give up on expansion plans as the steep devaluation of the Russian ruble hits their margins, news reports said.

“The ruble’s devaluation means that our budget is already cut almost in half,” RT’s editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan was quoted as saying by the Vedomosti newspaper last week.

State-controlled RT, whose mission statement is to “acquaint an international audience with the Russian viewpoint,” will likely have to cease broadcasting in many countries and give up on plans to create French- and German-language channels, Simonyan said. About 80 percent of the network’s expenditures are in dollars and euros, she added.’

READ MORE…

Phone hacking ‘rife’ at Mirror Group Newspapers

BBC News reports:

Mirror Group Newspapers‘Phone hacking was “rife” at Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) from 1999 to 2006, a court has heard.

Counsel David Sherborne said the hacking was on an industrial scale and far larger than that which took place at the News of the World.

He said that journalists at the Daily Mirror, the Sunday Mirror and the People hacked phones on a daily basis.

The hearing at the High Court in London is considering cases brought by eight high-profile figures.’

READ MORE…

Britain’s Media Regulator Again Threatens RT for “Bias”: This Time, Airing “Anti-Western Views”

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

[…] That RT is “biased” is true as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go very far at all. It is expressly funded by the Russian government to present a Russian viewpoint of the world. But all media outlets composed of and run by human beings are “biased,” and that certainly includes the leading British outlets, which rail against Russia (and every other perceived adversary of the West) at least as much as RT defends it.

All of this underscores the propagandistic purpose of touting “media objectivity” versus “bias.” The former simply does not exist. Revealingly, it is British journalists themselves who are most vocal in demanding that Her Majesty’s Government bar RT from broadcasting on “bias” grounds: fathom how authoritarian a society must be if it gets its journalists to play the leading role in demanding that the state ban (or imprison) journalists it dislikes. So notably, the most vocal among the anti-RT crowd on the ground that it spreads lies and propaganda — such as Nick Cohen and Oliver Kamm — were also the most aggressive peddlers of the pro-U.K.-government conspiracy theories and lies that led to the Iraq War.

That people like this, with their histories of pro-government propaganda, are the ones demanding punishment of RT for “bias” tells you all you need to know about what is really at play here. What’s really driving this is illustrated by the edict issued today by one of the High Priests of U.S. Foreign Policy, Brookings President and former Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

READ MORE…

Hollywood and the New Cold War: Interview with Ted Rall

‘We know a media information war is in full swing. But where does it stop? Hollywood? Where Pussy riot meets Vladimir Putin on Netflix’s “House of Cards”. Where Russian cyber terrorists are pushed into surrendering by threats of rating Pussy Riot and Putin on to their desktops in CBS’s “The Good Wife”. And then there’s just blatant remembering of colder times with FX’s “The Americans”. Political Cartoonist Ted Rall breaks it down.’ (In The Now)

Who Killed Boris Nemtsov?

Justin Raimondo writes for Antiwar:

Practically no one in the West doubts the murder of once-rising reform politician Boris Nemtsov was the work of Vladimir Putin, and/or his allies in government. If Putin didn’t give the direct order, the pundits say, the Russian leader created the “atmosphere of hatred” directed at the Russian opposition, of which Nemtsov was a half-forgotten yet still active leader. This obviates the need for evidence, while giving the accusers ample room to back off if and when facts to the contrary are uncovered – evidence which can then be easily discounted, because, after all, everyone knows a real investigation is impossible in Putin’s Russia. Thus freed of the facts, our new Cold Warriors can elaborate their conspiracy theories without fear of contradiction.

Funny how political murders in the US – the Kennedy brothers, Martin Luther King – are invariably the work of a “lone nut,” but in Russia it’s always the Putin government. When Dr. David Kelly, a prominent weapons expert and critic of the evidence Whitehall had publicized to justify the Iraq war, committed “suicide” just as he was about to reveal how the British government had doctored up its brief, there were suspicions but these were dismissed as a “conspiracy theory.” An entirely different standard is applied to Russia, and yet, aside from Anglo-American exceptionalism, perhaps there are some good reasons for this. Russia, after all, is a country where contract killings were once a staple of doing business: where gangsterism is widespread, and oligarchs, gorging on the riches of “privatized” companies, are in deadly competition for spoils in a system where government, and not the market, rules.’

READ MORE…

Was Boris Nemtsov killed because in Russia opposition figures are deemed traitors?

Shaun Walker writes for The Guardian:

Flowers were laid at the spot where Russian politician Boris Nemtsov was shot dead on Friday.[…] Nemtsov frequently appeared on lists of “traitors” published online by extremist groups, and given that many radical Russian nationalists have been fighting a war in east Ukraine for the past six months, there have long been fears that the bloodshed could at some point move to the streets of Moscow.

The well-organised hit, in one of the most closely watched parts of Moscow, of a man who was undoubtedly under state surveillance just two days before a major opposition march, does not smack of an amateur job. Assuming a jealous lover or angry fellow liberal would not be able to organise a drive-by shooting in the shadows of the Kremlin towers, the remaining options are disturbing.

If, as Peskov says, it was senseless for the Kremlin to kill someone who posed very little threat, that leaves another option that is perhaps even more terrifying: that the campaign of hate that has erupted over the past year is spiralling out of the control of those who manufactured it.’

READ MORE…

Boris Nemtsov Funeral: Mystery Surrounds Russian Politician’s Death

All our mainstream media is tied into corporate interests: Interview with Nafeez Ahmed

Nafeez Ahmed, former Guardian contributor and currently crowdfunding Insurge, a new media platform, talks to Going Underground host Afshin Rattansi about the paper.’ (Going Underground)

Death, Drugs, and HSBC: How fraudulent blood money makes the world go round

Nafeez Ahmed writes for Medium:

‘Recent reporting on illegal tax evasion by the world’s second largest bank, HSBC, opens a window onto the pivotal role of Western banks in facilitating organised crime, drug-trafficking and Islamist terrorism. Governments know this, but they are powerless to act, not just because they’ve been bought by the banks: but because criminal and terror financing is integral to global capitalism. Now one whistleblower who uncovered an estimated billion pounds worth of HSBC fraud in Britain, suppressed by the British media, is preparing a prosecution that could blow wide open the true scale of criminal corruption in the world’s finance capital.’

READ MORE…

Scale of racism in World Cup host Russia a threat, report says

Rob Harris reports for AP:

‘Russian football is plagued by a racist and far-right extremist fan culture that threatens the safety of visitors to the 2018 World Cup, according to a report provided to The Associated Press.

Researchers from the Moscow-based SOVA Center and the Fare network, which helps to prosecute racism cases for European football’s governing body UEFA, highlighted more than 200 cases of discriminatory behavior linked to Russian football over two seasons.

“It shows a really quite gruesome picture of a domestic league which is full of aspects of racism, xenophobia: The far-right play a significant role in the fan culture,” Fare executive director Piara Powar said in an interview with the Associated Press.’

READ MORE…

Qatar’s unofficial motto: To attract at all costs

#AlbumoftheWeek ~ Sour Soul by Ghostface Killah & BadBadNotGood (2015)

Try These

February Playlist

The Power of the ISIS PR Stunt: Unmasking of ‘Jihadi John’ Confirms His PR Value

Patrick Cockburn writes for The Independent:

The self-proclaimed “Islamic State” likes to dominate the news agenda and knows how to do so. It also likes to project power at moments of weakness. Thus most of the world knows that Isis burned a Jordanian pilot to death in a cage but few recall that at the same time the movement was losing the battle for the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani. A motto occasionally seen on Isis social media reads: “Media is half jihad.”

The choice by Isis of “Jihadi John” – Mohammed Emwazi – as its English-speaking executioner has everything to do with media impact and the reaction to his apparent unmasking shows that this simple PR ploy is very effective. Similar attention-grabbing stunts in the past include the demand for a $200m ransom for two Japanese hostages (if the demand had been a more prosaic $2m would media interest have been so intent?) and the burning of the Jordanian pilot because decapitation had lost its shock impact.’

READ MORE…

Why Iran Believes ISIS is a U.S. Creation

Kay Armin Serjoie reports for Time:

[…] Abdullah Ganji, the managing-director of Javan newspaper, which is believed to closely reflect the views of the government and the powerful Iranian Revolutionary Guards, says that U.S. support for ISIS is in fact a way of ensuring Israel’s security and disrupting the Muslim world in the cause of advancing Western interests.

“We believe that the West has been influential in the creation of ISIS for a number of reasons. First to engage Muslims against each other, to waste their energy and in this way Israel’s security would be guaranteed or at least enhanced,” says Ganji. “Secondly, an ugly, violent and homicidal face of Islam is presented to the world. And third, to create an inconvenience for Iran.”’

READ MORE…

Venezuela says it has detained a U.S. pilot for allegedly taking part in a coup

Arrest of a nonviolent leader in the Maldives challenges the international community

Matt Mulberry writes for openDemocracy:

‘The former President of the Maldives and global climate activist Mohamed ‘Anni’ Nasheed was arrested on February 22 on “terror” charges just days before he was to lead a mass demonstration against the current government. Both the UN and the EU have issued statements of concern over what now appears to be an escalation by entrenched power holders in the Maldives to stifle effective political opposition.

Known to outsiders for its pristine beaches, clear turquoise waters, and five-star luxury resorts, the Maldives is a nation of about 340,000 people spread across an archipelago of 26 atolls located in the middle of the Indian Ocean, roughly 500 miles southwest of Sri Lanka. Its natural beauty is its biggest asset, given that nearly one-third of the country’s GDP is generated via tourism. But that beauty also has a way of obscuring the intense political struggles that have come to characterize everyday life for most Maldivians over the past 30 years.’

READ MORE…

Ukrainian Football Fans Accused of Acting Like ‘Rabid Dogs’ After Match in Kiev Descends Into Chaos

Pierre Longeray writes for VICE News:

On The Terraces At Football's Most Dangerous Derby‘[…] Ukranian “ultras” have a thuggish reputation throughout Europe and are known for their anti-Semitism, racism, homophobia and penchant for neo-Nazi symbolism. There are between 15,000 and 30,000 ultras in Ukraine, according to Esquire.

But despite their reputation for oafish brutality, Kyiv’s ultra supporters have undergone an image change in the past year, putting aside their passion for brawling to defend Ukraine’s Euromaidan protesters against the police and pro-government vigilantes. Many ultras were dragged into Ukraine’s political crisis that erupted in 2013 and joined the thousands of others that poured into Kiev’s Maidan Square to protest the government of former President Viktor Yanukovych.

“If you don’t get interested in politics,” one ultra told Esquire, “then politics will get interested in you.”‘

READ MORE…

Yemen’s ex-leader Saleh ‘amassed up to $60bn’ – UN probe

BBC News reports:

Former Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh, 2012Yemen’s former president Ali Abdullah Saleh is suspected of amassing $30bn-$62bn of assets during and after his time in power, UN experts have said.

They said Mr Saleh was believed to have transferred much of the wealth abroad under other names.

Yemen is the poorest country in the Middle East. It is in political turmoil, with Mr Saleh widely thought to retain a key role behind the scenes.’

READ MORE…

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Carl Schreck writes for Voice of America:

With the murder of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, gunned down on a Moscow street, the fiercest critic of President Vladimir Putin has been removed from the political stage.  But it remains to be seen whether, in death as in life, Nemtsov will remain a threat to Putin’s rule.

Already, city authorities have approved a mass march for up to 50,000 people in central Moscow on Sunday. The march, expected to be far larger than the scheduled protest rally it replaces, will provide a powerful platform for Kremlin critics who suspect a government hand in Nemtsov’s death.

Even officials in Putin’s government seem to sense the danger that the former first deputy prime minister’s martyrdom might pose, hinting darkly that Friday night’s drive-by shooting may have been an deliberate “provocation” ahead of the planned weekend rally.’

READ MORE…

Japan Mulls Creating Its Own CIA

Mina Pollmann reports for The Diplomat:

Japan Mulls Creating Its Own CIAAs Japan recovers from the shock of the hostage crisis, lawmakers are beginning to consider how they could have responded to the situation better. One of the key issues being discussed is how to overcome Japan’s reliance on foreign intelligence agencies to gather information abroad, because Japan does not currently have an independent intelligence-gathering entity.

A Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) project team is looking into changing that. The team, chaired by House of Representatives lawmaker Takeshi Iwaya, will look at the possibility of creating an independent intelligence-gathering agency like the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency or the United Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Service. The team will meet with U.S. and British experts and learn about the British model firsthand over the summer. They are scheduled to draft a proposal by this autumn.’

READ MORE…

Nemtsov Murder: Multiple Lines of Inquiry to Be Pursued

Nemtsov’s murder ‘meticulously planned’ – Investigative Committee

AFP reports:

‘The murder of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov was carefully planned, investigators said Saturday, pointing to details of the weapon used and the killers’ knowledge of his movements.

“There is no doubt that the crime was meticulously planned, as well as the place chosen for the murder,” the powerful Investigative Committee, which has been put in charge of the probe, said in its first detailed statement on the drive-by shooting of the 55-year-old politician.’

READ MORE…

Nemtsov Ally: “It’s a provocation that is clearly not in Putin’s interests, it’s aimed at rocking the situation.”

There are certainly no shortage of “who dunnit? Putin dunnit!” theories flying around the internet at the moment in regards to who is responsible for the killing of Russian opposition figure, Boris Nemstov. Here’s an interesting perspective from one-time close ally of Mr. Nemstov quoted near the bottom of an article published by Talking Points Memo:

Irina Khakamada, a prominent opposition figure who co-founded a liberal party with Nemtsov, blamed a climate of intimidation and warned that the murder could herald a dangerous destabilization.

“It’s a provocation that is clearly not in Putin’s interests, it’s aimed at rocking the situation,” she said in remarks carried by RIA Novosti news agency.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE…

The circus: How British intelligence primed both sides of the ‘terror war’

Nafeez Ahmed writes for Middle East Eye:

‘Every time there’s a terrorist attack that makes national headlines, the same talking heads seem to pop up like an obscene game of “whack-a-mole”. Often they appear one after the other across the media circuit, bobbing from celebrity television pundit to erudite newspaper outlet.

A few years ago, BBC Newsnight proudly hosted a “debate” between Maajid Nawaz, director of counter-extremism think-tank, the Quilliam Foundation, and Anjem Choudary, head of the banned Islamist group formerly known as al-Muhajiroun, but which has since proscription repeatedly reincarnated itself. One of its more well-known recent incarnations was “Islam4UK”.

Both Nawaz and Choudary have received huge mainstream media attention, generating press headlines, and contributing to major TV news and current affairs shows. But unbeknown to most, they have one thing in common: Britain’s security services. And believe it or not, that bizarre fact explains why the Islamic State’s (IS) celebrity beheader, former west Londoner Mohammed Emwazi – aka “Jihadi John” – got to where he is now.’

READ  MORE…

Why Does the FBI Have to Manufacture its Own Plots if Terrorism and ISIS Are Such Grave Threats?

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

‘[…] We’re constantly bombarded with dire warnings about the grave threat of home-grown terrorists, “lone wolf” extremists and ISIS. So intensified are these official warnings that The New York Times earlier this monthcited anonymous U.S. intelligence officials to warn of the growing ISIS threat and announce “the prospect of a new global war on terror.”

But how serious of a threat can all of this be, at least domestically, if the FBI continually has to resort to manufacturing its own plots by trolling the Internet in search of young drifters and/or the mentally ill whom they target, recruit and then manipulate into joining? Does that not, by itself, demonstrate how over-hyped and insubstantial this “threat” actually is? Shouldn’t there be actual plots, ones that are created and fueled without the help of the FBI, that the agency should devote its massive resources to stopping?’

READ MORE…

Rebuilding Gaza could take a century if Israel keeps blockade, says Oxfam

Kieran Guilbert reports for Reuters:

‘The rebuilding of homes, schools and hospitals in Gaza could take more than a century to complete unless an Israeli blockade restricting imports of construction materials into the Gaza Strip is lifted, aid agency Oxfam said on Thursday.

Gaza needs more than 800,000 truckloads of building materials to repair infrastructure damaged in the 2014 war with Israel, yet less than a quarter of one percent of the materials needed have entered Gaza in the last three months, Oxfam said.”

READ MORE…

‘Night Wolves’ motorycle gang: We will die for Putin