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Showing posts from August, 2014

Afghan presidency not likely settled before next deadline Sept. 2

Although August 25 was set as the date for inauguration of the new Afghan president the issue of who will be president is still not settled even after several months of recounts and audits of the votes subsequent to the summer vote.


Abdullah Abdullah who won the first round claims that there was fraud including ballot stuffing on behalf of his opponent Ashraf Ghani in the runoff. Preliminary results in the runoff show Ghani in the lead. The audit is still not even close to finished. Karzai says that he will relinquish the presidency by September 2, the new scheduled inauguration date. However, at the present pace it seems highly unlikely that the results will be finalized by that time.  Teams representing the two candidates are continually fighting over which ballots should or should not be counted. The US, led by Secretary of State John Kerry, brokered a deal between the two candidates who agreed to cooperate on an audit of the entire 8 million votes that were cas…

NY Times reports US officials claim Egypt and UAE behind Libya bombings

Four senior U.S. officials told the New York Times that the first two attacks targeting Islamist militia in Tripoli were a joint operation of Egypt and the UAE

The New York TImes has often been used as a mouthpiece for the US administration as discussed in a Guardian article back in June 2012 by Glenn Greenwald. According to the Times report: The United States, the officials said, was caught by surprise: Egypt and the Emirates, both close allies and military partners, acted without informing Washington or seeking its consent, leaving the Obama administration on the sidelines. Egyptian officials explicitly denied the operation to American diplomats, the officials said. While it is possible that the two countries acted without US consent the only evidence for this given is from anonymous US officials who obviously leaked the information about who was responsible for the strikes to the Times. Surely, US intelligence has enough monitoring equipment to probably kn…

Mystery planes bombard Tripoli for a third night in a week

For a third night unidentified aircraft struck targets in Tripoli. The attacks came just hours after the Misrata militia claim they have finally gained control of the Tripoli International AIrport from the rival Zintan brigades.


The Misrata militia are part of a larger umbrella group called Libya Shield and also Libya Dawn, both pro-Islamist.The Zintan brigades are allied with General Khalifa Haftar and his Operation Dignity. Although part of the Libyan Air Force has defected to ally itself with the general, Libya is not believed to have planes capable of launching the attacks. Most of Libya's air force was destroyed by western attacks during the Libyan uprising that overthrew Gadaffi. According to Reuters as reported in Al Jazeera, Tripoli residents heard the jets just at dawn followed by explosions, but there were no details of what had been hit available.  General Haftar, who has past links to the CIA, has claimed responsibility for the earlier attacks and says t…

The James Foley execution video was probably staged to enhance its propaganda value

Most responses to the video posted on line that depicts an IS executioner beheading journalist James Foley are complete outrage. However, a few responses question whether a genuine execution is taking place.

Many of these responses are from conspiracy theorists who often have limited credibility. A Google search for "Foley execution video a fake" will provide plenty of links to explore the range of opinions. Some posters go to quite a bit of trouble to try to establish their point. I have appended a You Tube posting that claims that the person allegedly beheaded in the video is not James Foley. He has audio of Foley and then of the alleged victim in the video and also comparison of the facial features of each. At the end the poster suggests that if you want to know who is in the video that one should ask the CIA.  However, this video was claimed to have been posted by the Islamic State as a warning to America. The Islamic State has not denied responsibility …

Sectarian conflict and Kurdish demands stymie formation of new Iraqi government

After a long struggle, the Iraqi parliament was able to choose a new speaker, a Sunni, and a new president, a Kurd, and finally after much friction a new prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, a Shia.


In a statement on Saturday, Salim al-Jabouri, speaker of the Iraqi parliament, denounced as "terrorists" the Shia armed group suspected of killing at least 73 people inside a Sunni mosque . After rejecting al-Abadi's nomination at first, the present prime minister Nouri al-Maliki finally gave in to pressure both internal and external to give up his bid for another term. He was promised a role of some sort in any new government. However, al-Abadi was left with the difficult task of forming a new government from groups that are at loggerheads with one another.  Now a mass killing at a mosque in which at least 73 people were killed has derailed the process of forming a government entirely. In protest at the attack Sunni politicians suspended talks designed to for…

CIA-Linked General Haftar claims responsibility for second bombing on Tripoli

For the second time in a week CIA-linked General Haftar has claimed responsibility for an attack by air on targets mostly associated with Operation Dawn. The Misrata militia are one of the main groups involved with Operation Dawn.


Reuters reports: The air force of Libya's renegade general Khalifa Haftar on Saturday attacked positions of Islamist-leaning militia in Tripoli for the second time in less than a week, one of his commanders said. The group attacked, Operation Dawn, said the attacks killed ten people and wounded dozens more. A local television station spoke of not one plane but of planes hitting four positions held by Operation Dawn. A spokesperson for Operation Dawn said that buildings of the state oil firm al-Waha near the airport were also hit, as well as the headquarters of the chief of staff that was under Operation Dawn control. Haftar is not believed to be in control of any aircraft that had the ability to carry out these night raids. Lo…

Egypt, Turkey, and other countries increase food exports to Russia

As Russia bans many food imports from the west in response to sanctions by the EU, the US, Australia and Canada, other countries are coming forward to take advantage of the situation for their own producers.


Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said: “Turkey is a major supplier of food and agricultural produce to Russia. It is ready to increase its food exports to Russia if necessary,” Russia and Turkey have agreed to increase the number of Turkish food suppliers to Russia. The new food ban is quite extensive:".. on August 6 Russia introduced a full ban for imports of beef and pork (fresh, chilled, refrigerated, pickled, dried or smoked meat), poultry and any poultry edible products, fish, cheese, milk, dairy products, vegetables, including root vegetables and tuber crops, and fruit from Australia, Canada, the EU, the US and Norway. " Apparently wine and baby foods are to be excluded. The full list can be found here.   China is also expected to increase …

Four brothers beheaded in Saudi Arabia for smuggling marijuana

Two sets of brothers were beheaded using swords in the city of Jajran in southwestern Saudi Arabia on Monday August 18th after being convicted of smuggling marijuana into the country according to the Saudi Interior Ministry.


The government news agency SPA identified the two sets of brothers as Hadi and Awad al-Motleg and Mufarraj and Ali al-Yami. The four were found guilty of having smuggled "a large quantity of hashish" into Saudi Arabia. Amnesty International claimed that there had been a "disturbing surge" in executions in Saudi Arabia of late with a total of 32 already this year and said:"The Saudi Arabian authorities must halt all executions". Amnesty also claimed that the conviction of the four was "reportedly on the basis of forced confessions extracted through torture".  During the last two weeks there have been 17 beheadings a rate of more than one a day.The families of the executed men had been asking for help from A…

Chilean students protest at slow pace of education reform

Students in Chile are out in force again protesting the slow pace of education reform as thousands of peaceful protesters marched through the capital Santiago yesterday, August 21.


Many student leaders helped elect president Michelle Bachelet of the Socialist Party. Dozens of unidentified people who wore masks turned the protest violent by interrupting the march. They damaged traffic lights, started fires in trash cans and threw sticks and stones at police. The organizers of the protest claimed there were about 80,000 in total at the protest whereas the Chilean Interior Ministry estimated the number only at 25,000. Some enthusiasts on Twitter put the turnout at 300,000. The demonstration created some major traffic jams near the city center. This is the third major protest by students this year. An article on a protest early in June can be found here, with many photos.  There have been protests in Chile by students since 2011 designed to force reforms and end the system i…

Auctioning off eyeballs through Real Time Bidding

Many sites on the internet including citizen journalist sites such as Digital Journal are partially if not wholly funded by advertising. Advertising on the internet has become a very complicated business and includes many complex operations.


RTB or Real Time Bidding is one such operation. The video here should be viewed in order to get a clear idea of what all the operation involves. I personally found the video to be an excellent introduction to the subject from someone who had not the slightest idea of what it was A partial description is given by Wikipedia: Real-time bidding (RTB) refers to the means by which ad inventory is bought and sold on a per-impression basis, via programmatic instantaneous auction, similar to financial markets.[1] With real-time bidding, advertising buyers bid on an impression and, if the bid is won, the buyer’s ad is instantly displayed on the publisher’s site.[2] My simplistic view of this is that it involves auctioning off one instance o…

Yemen government pays more than $1 million U.S. as compensation to relatives of victims of US drone strike.

The Yemeni government has paid out more than $1 million U.S. to relatives of victims of a U.S. drone strike. Documents verifying the payments show that there was evidence that many casualties were civilians with no Al Qaeda connections.


The documents are signed both by Yemeni court officials as well as relatives of the victims. The payouts all deal with one particular drone strike that hit vehicles in a convoy of vehicles that was part of a wedding party. Fifteen people were killed in the attack with five more reported injured. The attack had been carried out under the auspices of the Joint Special Operations Command(JSOC). The New York Times reported:" ... the Yemen government banned military drone operations after a series of botched drone strikes by JSOC, the last of which was a December 2013 drone strike that killed numerous civilians at a wedding ceremony. Despite a ban on military drone operations the Yemen government allowed CIA drone operations to continue.[3]…

Russia to vastly increase use of Chinese credit cards

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Russia is planning to vastly increase the use of China UnionPay credit cards to compete with Visa and Master Card which provide almost all credit card services in Russia at present.


Visa and MasterCard froze accounts associated with several Russian banks last March without any notice. In response to these actions Russian President Putin signed a law that would create a national payment system and also allow a security fee of up to 10 percent of a foreign companies' daily turnover.This would be to compensate banks for any service disruption. The law takes effect on January 1 next year. The percentage is much lower than the original 25 percent contemplated at first. The concession was made at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Even so Visa said it did not rule out leaving the Russian market as it found the security deposit demand unacceptable.  China's UnionPay could easily replace Visa if it departs. The company hopes to have 2 million cards in Russ…

CIA-Linked General Khalifa Haftar claims his bombing attacks in Tripoli a joint effort with international communtiy

Even though CIA-linked General Haftar claims his bombing of Misrata militia in Tripoli was a joint effort with the international community there seems little attention let alone analysis in the media of what is happening in Libya

On Monday, Libyan air force units loyal to General Kahlifa Haftar struck positions of the Misrata militia in Tripoli. The militia has been in a prolonged battle at and near the Tripoli international airport with allies of Haftar, the Zintan brigades. The battle has moved closer to the center of Tripoli now as unidentified militia have fired Grad rockets into two upscale districts killing three people according to local residents. The area is home to many foreign brand outlets including Marks and Spencer, and Nike and fancy cafes. There were reports that six people had also been injured in the attacks but none of the casualties had been confirmed as yet by the Health Ministry. On its Facebook page a group of rebels from Misrata called…

Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif faces murder charges

Protesters in Pakistan are trying to force the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. A Lahore court ordered murder charges be brought against both Sharif and his brother after a crackdown on a protest by preacher Muhammad Qadri last June.
Muhammad Qadri is a popular anti-Taliban anti-terror preacher. However, he has also made speeches critical of the Sharifs and their associates for corruption. He is a dual Canadian, Pakistani citizen who lived in Toronto for a number of years before returning to Pakistan. The Lahore Sessions Court gave the order: A Pakistani court on Saturday ordered framing of murder charges against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his brother and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz and 19 others over the June violence near Canada-based cleric Tahirul Qadri's headquarters that killed 14 of his supporters.

The Punjab government will challenge the court's decision according to an official of the ruling party. Protesters arrived in Islamabad after…

CIA-linked General Haftar launches airstrikes in Tripoli Libya

Many reports speak of airstrikes in the Libyan capital Tripoli as being launched by an unknown party against Islamist militia from Mistrata on Monday August 18.
Actually there should be no mystery about who launched them, especially since the target was a militia group linked to Islamists. CiA-linked General Khalifa Haftar some time ago launched Operation Dignity by attacking from the air two Islamist bases in the eastern city of Benghazi. Khalifa is a US citizen having lived in the US almost two decades. Since the Haftar attack the Islamists have fought back and driven Libyan Special Forces allied with Haftar out of Benghazi and have seized several bases. Haftar's forces appear to be hemmed in at an airport on the outskirts of Benghazi. However, elements of the Libyan Air Force have allied with Haftar allowing him to make attacks from the air.
ftar's "air force" was responsible for the attack. His "air force" are simply members of the Liby…

Soviet era monuments vandalized in Bulgaria

- A monument to Soviet troops located in Sofia the capital city of Bulgaria was spray- painted recently in one of several cases where Soviet era monuments have been vandalized.
The Russian Embassy in Bulgaria sent a note to the Bulgarian government demanding that the former ally during the Soviet era clean up the monument as well as identifying, and punishing those responsible. The note also asked Bulgaria to take measures to ensure that such vandalism does not happen in future. The day before the Bulgarian Socialst Party's 123rd anniversary the monument was sprayed with red paint according to the Novinite news agency in Sofia. Last year, on the night of August 21, 2013 the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Czechslovakia to crush an uprising in 1968 a monument to the unknown Soviet army liberator was painted pink and "Bulgaria apologizes" was written on it in Bulgarian and Czech, as Bulgaria had participated with Russia in the invasion. The pink …