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Showing posts from April, 2019

‘Too much money invested in war’: US defense industry drives global military spending spree

Global military expenditures reached their peak in 2018, and the driving force behind this increase is the growing appetite of the US military-industrial complex rather than real threats, analysts say.
The world spent $1.8 trillion on its military in 2018, the latest report by the acclaimed Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). 
The US and its NATO allies – the self-proclaimed defenders of freedom and democracy – account for more than half of this whopping amount.
Washington’s other close friend Saudi Arabia is the third largest military spender, coming ahead of India.
“A lot of this spending, particularly in the case of Saudi Arabia and India, is for political reasons,” Michael Maloof, a former senior security policy analyst at the Pentagon, said. 
New Delhi and Riyadh seek to “curry favor” with Washington by purchasing the US weapons in hope for concessions in other areas, he explained.
Washington’s NATO allies have seen pressure from the US related to their military s…

Man arrested, suspected explosives and ammo seized in Christchurch suburb, NZ

A man was arrested and suspected explosives and ammunition were seized after police and a bomb squad were deployed in the suburb of Christchurch, New Zealand, which saw horrific terrorist attacks in two mosques last month.
About 20 police cars and multiple officers were deployed in the Christchurch suburb of Phillipstown at around 3:15pm local time (3:15am GMT) on Tuesday. 
A bomb squad, an ambulance and a fire brigade were also spotted at the scene.
Officers entered a property in the area and arrested a 33-year-old man after reports of “suspicious items” at the location. 
“Police have located a package containing a suspected explosive device and ammunition at a vacant address” in the city, Canterbury District Commander Superintendent John Price said, adding that the package had been made safe.
The police cordoned off a street, asking local residents to stay in their homes.
On March 15, a white supremacist attacked two mosques in Christchurch, gunning down 50 worshipers and injuring hundred…

Yellow Vests & Black Blocs? France braces for possible protest perfect storm on May 1

Labor Day is the traditional date for mass protests in France, occasionally quite violent. 
This year the authorities fear a confluence of the radical part of the Yellow Vest movement with the dreaded Black Bloc anarchists.
On Monday evening, Didier Lallement, the freshly-appointed head of the Paris police, held a high-profile meeting with several other security-related officials to discuss the measures that need to be taken before, and on, May Day. 
DSPAP, the largest department of the capital’s police force, released a memo detailing preventive action against possible rioting on Wednesday, according to Libération. 
The special focus will be on trains arriving in Paris.
The French authorities are concerned that mass demonstrations on Labor Day will escalate due to a “yellow and black wave,” a possible alliance between the domestic Yellow Vests movement and international anarchists from the so-called ‘Black Blocs’. If it happens, the result may pale last year’s upheaval, which resulted in …

Media shouldn’t serve as ‘tools’ spreading fake news to escalate situation in Venezuela – Moscow

The media shouldn’t turn into a tool for forces seeking to escalate the situation in Venezuela by spreading fake news, the Russian Foreign Ministry said accusing the opposition of resorting to violence in the ongoing coup attempt.
“Objective” reporting is of the “utmost importance” for Venezuela, the ministry said in a statement as it called on the media around the world to avoid spreading false reports that would only make the situation on the ground worse. 
This serves the agenda of those players who want to plunge the Latin American nation into chaos, it said.
Moscow then accused the US-backed Venezuelan opposition led by the self-proclaimed interim president, Juan Guaido, of a brazen attempt to draw the armed forces into clashes and use the unfolding chaos to seize power.
“The radical opposition in Venezuela has once again returned to violent methods of confrontation,” the ministry said. 
“Instead of peacefully settling political differences, they have taken a course designed to whip u…

Venezuelan coup attempt ‘directly planned in Washington’ – FM

The Venezuelan foreign minister has accused the US-backed opposition of planning Tuesday’s coup attempt in Washington, and said the government would work to keep the peace.
Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza told Reuters by telephone that only around 30 soldiers had supported the coup instigated by opposition leader Juan Guaido. 
He described the plot as “another chapter” of an American effort to topple the government of President Nicolas Maduro.
While downplaying the scale of the uprising, Arreaza said it did not originate within the military, but that opposition leaders planned the event in Washington.
"It is not a coup attempt from the military. 
This is directly planned in Washington, in the Pentagon and Department of State, and by [National Security Adviser John] Bolton," Arreaza told Reuters.
"They are leading this coup and giving orders to this man Guaido," he said.
Bolton, a long-time major backer of the Venezuelan opposition, went public on Tuesday with his support f…

We locked up IS fighters for your benefit, Europe; now take them back – Trump

US President Donald Trump has accused European countries of “not helping” to repatriate Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) fighters imprisoned in Syria, “even though this was very much done for their benefit”.
“We have 1,800 ISIS Prisoners taken hostage in our final battles to destroy 100% of the Caliphate in Syria. 
Decisions are now being made as to what to do with these dangerous prisoners,” the US leader wrote on Twitter. 
“European countries are not helping at all, even though this was very much done for their benefit. 
They are refusing to take back prisoners from their specific countries. Not good!”
Trump’s administration declared Syria free of IS control last month, and the US chief is now pushing for withdrawal of the country’s troops there. 
In February, he threatened to release 800 IS prisoners if EU countries like Britain, France and Germany refused to “step up and do the job” and pointed to the cost to the US of keeping IS fighters detained.
At the time he tweeted: “The alternati…

Trump threatens Cuba with 'full embargo and highest-level sanctions' over Venezuela

US President Donald Trump has threatened Cuba with a “full and complete embargo, together with highest-level sanctions” if Havana does not stop its alleged support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government.
Trump tweeted his demands on Tuesday, after Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido called for the military and police to take action against Maduro.
While Guaido declared himself president in January with the support of the US and has since gained the support of most of US-allied Latin America, the Venezuelan security forces remain largely loyal to Maduro, and Guaido’s call to arms appears to have been unsuccessful in sparking large-scale defections.
Struggling to explain the Venezuelan military’s reluctance to throw its support behind the US-backed politician, who was a largely unknown figure before he became head of the National Assembly in January, Trump’s administration has put forth the narrative that Venezuela is really under “Cuban occupation” and has sought to pun…

Caracas warns they’d use weapons if needed as crowds of coup supporters flock to presidential palace

Venezuela’s Defense Minister has warned that the army would resort to force if necessary, amid the ongoing US-backed coup attempt, as crowds of opposition supporters were filmed moving towards the presidential palace in Caracas.
“Anyone who comes to [the presidential palace of] Miraflores with violence will be defeated with violence. 
If we have to use weapons, we will use them,” Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez said in a televised national address, in an apparent warning to the crowds flocking to the palace.
The minister also said that he holds the opposition led by the US-backed self-proclaimed “interim president,” Juan Guaido, responsible for “any death … on the streets” while accusing the opponents of the Venezuelan government of “seeking bloodshed.”
His statement came as crowds of protesters, accompanied by armed soldiers who sided with the opposition, were filmed moving to the western part of Caracas, where the presidential Miraflores palace is located.
Footage by the Venezuelan NTN24…

Coup fizzles? Guaido’s mentor takes refuge in Chilean embassy as 25 military seek asylum in Brazil’s

Venezuelan opposition figure Leopoldo Lopez has sought refuge in Chile’s embassy in Caracas, while at least 25 pro-Juan Guaido troops asked Brazil for refuge. 
The news all but points to the failure of the US-backed coup attempt.
Lopez had been under house arrest since 2017, but was seen at the side of Guaido – who had declared himself “interim president” of Venezuela in January – on Tuesday morning, as supporters of the US-backed opposition sought to take control of Caracas by force. 
At least 50 people were injured and 11 arrested during the unrest on Tuesday.
By the afternoon, however, Chilean Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero tweeted that Lopez, his wife Lilian Tintori, and their daughter were “guests” of the Chilean diplomatic mission in Caracas, adding that “Chile reaffirms commitment to Venezuelan democrats.”
Meanwhile, at least 25 armed Guaido supporters have sought refuge in the Brazilian embassy in Caracas, Brazilian media reported. 
There were no officers among them, according to …

Venezuela’s Maduro says military commanders have ‘total loyalty’ amid coup attempt

All military commanders of Venezuela are loyal to the government, President Nicolas Maduro assured amid an attempted military coup, declared by US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido.
Maduro, who is considered an ‘usurper’ by his challenger, said that he had spoken to all senior military officers of the country’s armed forces, who assured him of their “total loyalty to the constitution and to the homeland.” 
He called on his supporters to mobilize in the face of the latest attempt by Guaido to seize power in Caracas.
Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez also said in a TV address that the national armed forces remained loyal to the government while adding that the those behind the “acts of violence” were partially defeated.
Earlier on Tuesday, Guaido posted a video filmed near an air base in Caracas, calling for decisive action against the Maduro government. 
Standing behind him were several people in military uniforms – apparently meant to be a living testament to the suppor…

Pakistan plans to bring 30,000 madrasas under government control

Pakistan plans to take control of a network of over 30,000 madrasas as part of a drive to “mainstream” the Islamic schools by bringing them under state control, the military’s spokesman said on Monday.
Modernizing madrasa education is a thorny issue in Pakistan, a deeply conservative Muslim nation where religious schools are often blamed for radicalization of youngsters but are the only education available to millions of poor children.
Pakistan’s new government, facing pressure from global powers to act against militant groups carrying out attacks in India and Afghanistan, has vowed major reforms and Prime Minister Imran Khan has promised the South Asian nation will no longer tolerate such outfits operating on its territory.
Critics of the madrasa education system say children who attend such schools, where they spend most of the day memorizing the holy Quran, are often ill-equipped for the modern world and some madrasas act as breeding grounds for militant outfits.
“The government of Pak…

'He's no Abraham Lincoln': Libya U.N. envoy warns against backing eastern commander

The United Nations envoy for Libya on Monday warned countries tempted to continue backing eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar that he was no democrat and his political agenda was not supported by most Libyans.
Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), which is allied to a rival administration in eastern Libya, mounted an offensive on the capital Tripoli, seat of the internationally recognized government, three weeks ago but has failed to breach defenses in the city’s south despite heavy fighting.
The battle for the capital has all but wrecked U.N.-backed efforts for a peace deal between the rival factions and threatened to further disrupt OPEC member Libya’s oil industry.
“He is no Abraham Lincoln, he is no big democrat, but he has qualities and wants to unify the country,” Ghassan Salame told France Inter radio, referring in part to the revered 19th century U.S. president who led the nation through its Civil War, preserving the union, and abolished slavery.
“But how is he going to do it? Seeing …

Tone of Brexit talks between UK government and Labour has improved - report

Talks between Britain’s government and the opposition Labour Party to break an impasse over Brexit are going better than before, a politics editor at HuffPost UK said on Monday, adding that negotiations were set to continue.
“Sounds like warmer meeting between Govt and Lab today on Brexit,” executive editor for politics Paul Waugh said in a tweet. 
“Tone was better and now there is at leas(t) grounds for continuing talks.”

Yellow Vests mutilated by 'sublethal' police weapons form their own anti-brutality association

Yellow Vest protesters who have suffered life-changing injuries at the hands of French police have launched their own association, promising fresh actions against police brutality.
Called “the mutilated for the edification of others,” the collective aims to accurately calculate the number of people who have been injured nationally by police during Yellow Vest protests. 
It also called for an end to the use of the non-lethal weapons deployed by French police — namely tear gas canisters and Flash Balls — and a large national demonstration is scheduled in Paris on May 26.
Among those attending was Jerome Rodrigues, a prominent Yellow Vest leader who was hit in the eye with a gas canister during a demonstration in January. 
“You have 19 people in front of you and you have only 26 eyes that look back,” he told the press conference. “Count, there is a small problem,” he added.
“We demand the truth, justice and the ban on so-called sublethal weapons," said Robin Pages, another activist. 
He a…

Suspected UAE spy with possible ties to Khashoggi case found dead in Turkish prison

One of two Emirati men detained in Turkey on suspicion of both spying and having possible ties to the Jamal Khashoggi embassy murder case has reportedly taken his own life in prison, according to government and media sources.
The man was arrested by Turkish authorities 10 days ago and was later formally charged with “military and political” and “international espionage.” 
He was found dead having apparently hanged himself in his cell in Silivri prison on the outskirts of Istanbul on Sunday.
Turkish authorities are now launching an investigation into the suspicious circumstances of the man’s death as he was being detained in solitary confinement.
The two men claimed they were Palestinian nationals but admitted to working on behalf of UAE intelligence, reports Al Jazeera. 
One of the two alleged UAE spies reportedly arrived in Turkey just two days after Khashoggi’s murder.
Saudi dissident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered and then dismembered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last …

Sri Lankan authorities warn of ‘another wave of attacks’ by ‘persons dressed in military uniforms’

Sri Lankan security forces are on high alert amid warnings of more possible suicide bomb attacks in the country by assailants dressed in military fatigues using vans.
“There could be another wave of attacks,” the head of the police’s ministerial security division said in a letter to politicians, senior police and security forces officials.
“The relevant information further notes that persons dressed in military uniforms and using a van could be involved in the attacks.”
According to the report, seen by Reuters, the same groups behind the Easter Sunday bombings which killed over 250 people, National Thawheedh Jamaath (NTJ) and Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim, were planning to target some five locations on Sunday or Monday. 
Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) claimed responsibility for the Easter attacks but solid evidence of its involvement has yet to emerge.
Meanwhile, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has banned all face coverings which may conceal a person’s identity including, but n…

New York Times led by anti-Semites: Israeli cartoonist draws response to controversial picture

An Israeli illustrator drew his own version of the ‘anti-Semitic’ cartoon printed in the New York Times depicting PM Netanyahu as a guide dog leading ‘blind’ President Trump. RT asked people in Israel what they think.
Shay Charka, a cartoonist for Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon published his own ‘response’ to the controversial New York Times cartoon on Sunday after the leading US paper was accused of printing anti-Semitic imagery.
In Charka’s version, Donald Trump was swapped for a copy of the NYT and the dog’s head was replaced with a copy of ‘the Protocols ’– a reference to the so-called Protocols of the Elders of Zion – a century-old anti-Semitic forgery. 
First published in late-imperial Russia, the discredited document quickly became a centerpiece in anti-Semitic propaganda across the globe, claiming that Jews secretly seek world dominance.
The Star of David on the dog’s collar was likewise replaced with the letters ‘BDS’ – a jab at the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctio…