US and Hu Rights Violations - Russia Confronts US

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by grtv

The United States and Russia have achieved many milestones when it comes to relieving tensions between the two superpowers after the Cold War, but it seems that lately those strains have been on the rise.

Russia has been more than vocal over its opposition of the US missile defense shield in Eastern Europe, and now Russia plans on implementing a visa ban on American officials to counter the US banning Russian officials for alleged human rights violations.

David Swanson, campaigner for Roots Action, joins us with more on the matter.

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Sergei M. Plekhanov, Associate Professor of Political Science at York University, says regional solutions are only possible if Russia and the United State stop pursuing their respective Middle East interests as a zero-sum game -   October 21, 2015

SHARMINI PERIES, EXEC. PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network. I'm Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore.
Russia and the U.S. have come to an agreement that they say will prevent incidents between one another during their respective bombing campaigns in Syria, an understanding which they are claiming does not amount to strategic coordination. Let's have a look at what Pentagon spokesperson Peter Cook had to say about the agreement and what it won't be doing.
PETER COOK: The MOU does not establish zones of cooperation, intelligence sharing, or any sharing of target information in Syria. The discussions through which this MOU was developed do not constitute U.S. cooperation or support for Russia's policy or actions in Syria. In fact, far from it, we continue to believe that Russia's strategy in Syria is counterproductive and their support for the Assad regime will only make Syria's civil war worse.
PERIES: The news comes on the same day that the U.S. joint chief of staff arrived in Iraq to assess the campaign and their fight against the IS there. And this is days after reports have come out that more U.S.-made weapons are flooding into Syria from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar to resupply rebels opposed to Assad.
Now joining me to discuss these developments is Sergei M Plekhanov. He's an associate professor of political science at York University and a former deputy director of the Institute for U.S. and Canadian Studies in Russia. Sergei, thank you so much for joining us today.
PERIES: So give us an assessment of why this particular memorandum was required and what you make of the agreement.
PLEKHANOV: Well, there was an acute, there is an acute practical need to avoid possibility of direct clashes between Russian air force and U.S. air force. It's a small place. They fighter planes fly very fast. And we've seen a number of incidences in recent weeks when there were dangerous situations. You know, alleged incursions by Russian planes into the Turkish airspace. A drone was downed a couple of days ago. It's not clear who it belongs to but it was definitely made in Russia. So both Russia and the United States operate their air forces in the air space above the battleground in Syria. And since both sides have an interest in defeating ISIS, even though they also have opposite goals in other respects, they need to have at least a minimum of coordination, at least communication, in order to be able to avoid inadvertent direct clashes.
So from the military standpoint it's a good thing, because it makes the situation somewhat less dangerous. I must say that it was the Russians who were actually advocating some forms of coordination and cooperation between the militaries of [the other] side. So finally some agreement has been reached, but it's interesting that the Pentagon is emphasizing how it is actually not cooperating with the Russians even though in fact [they're taking] first step to cooperate with them. I know if ISIS had [inaud.] they must be [bracing] and [inaud.], saying oh, we thought the Russians and the Americans were joining forces against us. Now it turns out they're not, they're just minimizing the possibilities of war between them.
PERIES: Now, you may have seen a Washington Post article last week that was alleging that these heavily equipped tanks that the United States was providing to the rebels on the ground in Syria was being taken out by the Russian bombs. What is that dispute all about, and why were the Russians taking out these tanks?
PLEKHANOV: First of all, what's really happening on the ground and what we read about it in the media may be two different realities. So it's very difficult to comment on reports about events on the ground, given the fact that there is a situation where information warfare is just as acute as the real warfare. But it seems that the Russians are on the one hand trying to defeat ISIS, and being rather effective. They've actually, their planes have flown something like 300 [sorties], maybe more, hitting area targets belonging to ISIS, but also targets belonging to other jihadist groups like Jabhat al-Nusra, which is competing with ISIS, which are primarily about overthrowing the Assad regime.
Now, the United States also has an interest, and in fact has been trying to accomplish the goal of removing Assad from power and replacing him, replace him with some other regime. And expected to be pro-American. But problem with that has been that every time the Americans tried to conjure up, invoke, or support some kind of so-called moderate opposition to ISIS--Assad, it turns out that the arms tend to get into the hands of another radical Islamist group. And so the real fighting is done not by the shadowy moderate groups, but the jihadists, radical jihadists. That's how ISIS became as powerful as it was, and that's how it managed to gain so much territory, taking advantage of the United States's continued policy to overthrow the Assad regime.
So the Russians got involved because the Assad regime, in fact they have a kind of an alliance relationship, or at least a quiet relationship with the Assad regime. The Assad regime asked Russia for assistance. The Syrian government, [inaud.] outside regime, that's the Syrian government, which is recognized by other countries and which has a legitimate status in the country no matter what the nature of that regime is.
So Syria asked Russia for military assistance. The Russians have rendered that assistance by deploying the air force there. And they're doing that because their main goal is to prevent the formation of a [base] for radical Islamist, jihadist activity, which is now organized primarily under the rubric of ISIS, which would be threatening the southern areas of Russia as well as central Asian states. [Inaud.] Afghanistan, by the way, where ISIS now has a base, too.
So as far as fighting ISIS is concerned, Russia and the United States have a common interest. Problem is that because their interest with regard to the Assad regime are not the same. In fact, they are at odds with each other. They cannot cooperate effectively enough. So that creates a situation which only helps ISIS.
PERIES: Now, if the objective of the Russians is really to fight ISIS and other rebel forces on the ground that is threatening the geopolitical stability of the world at this moment, if that's the real objective here then why aren't they in greater cooperation, like even after signing this agreement, both sides issued statements on what it does not contain. Not, you know, addressing what is necessary at this point, a real collaboration in terms of bringing about a solution on the ground, a regional solution to the issue of Syria.
PLEKHANOV: Well, the main bone of contention is of course the fate of the Assad regime. Putin offered Americans a deal, let's have, let's construct an anti-ISIS coalition in the Middle East. So a broad-based coalition which includes both Russia's friends and America's friends in the Middle East, and let's defeat ISIS. And in the meantime let's work on the political transition in Syria. Russians are not beholden to the Assad regime, but currently that's the regime that is fighting the Islamists and ISIS [first place], and so helping the Assad regime is absolutely necessary in order to defeat [inaud.]. Military actions in Syria hitting both groups which the United States does not regard as bad guys. In fact, some of them might be pro-American good guys.
From the point of view of the Syrian government and the Russians they are bad guys. So there is a big disagreement as to who to hit and who not to hit.
PERIES: Now, if you were to take into consideration the real safety and security of the Syrian people, and you want to bring about a solution to the refugee and the migrant crisis in Syria, what's wrong with at least temporarily removing the Assad factor in order to bring about some common stability on the ground?
PLEKHANOV: You remove the only government that exists in order to provide the conditions for stability? We've seen it in Libya, we've seen it in other places. This government still has control of a large part of the country. By the way, when they show you on the map that half of the territory or even more is under the control of ISIS, shouldn't forget that 90 percent of that territory is desert. Whereas the majority of the populated areas of Syria are under the control of the government in Damascus. And it has an army, and that government also has recently been more successful in pushing back its opponents, and ISIS in the first place.
So it is totally unrealistic to expect that if we have a deal now where we tell [inaud.] have to go. That means [inaud.] will have to go, then security forces will have to go. ISIS will be applauding, because yeah, sure, yeah, give us the vacuum. We'll just move in. And then there'll be an even bigger flow of refugees now, from the remainder of Syria. And [inaud.] no, no, you need the proper government in its fight against the most dangerous force that has emerged out of the chaos of the Middle East over the past years. And for that, and that does not make you beholden to this regime, because it's obvious to anyone that there will have to be a lot of political change in Syria. Maybe some kind of federation will be created in order to accommodate various diverse groups over the Syrian population. Some kind of a regional [pact] will be concluded between the countries which are now at odds with each other.
But all that can only be done after this malignant tumor has been removed. The tumor is called ISIS, or ISIL.
PERIES: Now, some legitimate social movements and organizations in Syria are alleging that Assad is responsible for the death of over 200,000 people. Now, what is Russia doing with that information? Are they ignoring it?
PLEKHANOV: First of all this is an allegation, not information. Again, this is information warfare. It could be more, it could be less. This government has been--this is a dictatorship in Syria. Right. Does it mean that every dictatorship that exists, even though it is involved in this kind of a civil war, that it must be overthrown because it's a dictatorship? I don't think that this kind of blind approach to any kind of a civil war or domestic conflict that exists, especially in a country in the Middle East, should evoke automatic responses, let's go and overthrow them. We've seen the [inaud.] the West has done where it sends, 2003, with disastrous results. George Bush had not overthrown the Saddam Hussein regime. And that was a bad regime, which was using chemical weapons, terrorizing its opponents, and invading Iran, by the way, with an American backing.
So that was a bad regime, but--okay, we overthrew it. Do we have a flourishing democracy in Iraq? Northern Iraq has turned into a massive [place] for a new form and more dangerous form of radical jihadis. And we've seen the same in Libya. And we are now seeing the same in Syria. And we're not learning any lessons. I mean, are we pursuing human rights agenda in a situation which totally does not fit that agenda?
PERIES: And as, Sergei, your Russian colleagues, you have many over the years that you've been studying Russian foreign policy with, what are they saying about a potential solution for the conflict in Syria?
PLEKHANOV: The solution that there is, a sequence, it all depends on where one stands politically. And in Russia you have a political [inaud.]. And there are bitter opponents of the Putin regime who are now criticizing him for getting involved in Syria. There is a possibility of [inaud.]. The Russian public opinion is definitely not in favor of Russia's involvement in the Syrian conflict. They say, why should we be there? Why should we care? And so on.
So there are critics of the government. There are some think tank people who are warning against dangers of involvement in Syria. It is a risky game for the Russian government. But those who support the policy of the Russian government, what they are saying is the top priority is defeating ISIS. And in fact, there is a wide area of common interest in both, between Russia, the United States, Western Europe, [inaud.] state in the Middle East. Including Sunni state, the [inaud.] Sunni state. For instance, for Egypt--the Egyptians have not criticized Russia's actions in Syria because they share concern about the growth of a new form of radical Islamism in the region. They have been [battling] radical Islamists in their own country for quite a while. And they [immediately] [inaud.] some groups, ISIL-connected groups, which have been operating.
So the idea is, create some kind of a coalition, at least temporarily, in order to deal with this threat. Defeating it [inaud.]. there is no way. You cannot negotiate with them. You cannot have a truth and reconciliation commission between the opposing sides in the conflict. So in the meantime, one should prepare, start negotiations or continue negotiations and discussions about some kind of a political transition in Syria, which would help bring more sources of the conflict, of the civil conflict, that exploded the region because of the way the Syrian government responded to demonstrations against it.
So there has to be a sequence of priority. First you resolve the military problem, then you begin with political revolution. I think that some kind of a regional pact to stabilize Syria and make sure that--by the way, also Iraq. Because Iraq has been affected by this crisis in a big way. It's not just about Syria. We're looking at the wide territory in the Middle East which has been affected by this crisis. And so there have to be some regional solutions which are only possible if a major player, such as Russia and the United States, operate with a reasonable degree of cooperation. Not treating it as a zero-sum game where they pursue opposing goals. Because otherwise only ISIS will win.
PERIES: All right. Sergei, we would like to take that issue up of what a regional solution would look like in our next segment with you.
PERIES: And thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.
Part 2
SHARMINI PERIES, EXEC. PRODUCER,T RNN: Welcome back to the Real News Network. I'm Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore. I'm speaking with Sergei M Plekhanov. He is an associate professor of political science at York University and a former deputy director of the Institute for U.S. and Canadian Studies in Russia. In segment one we tried to address the current memorandum of agreement that's been signed between Russia and the U.S. over the airspace and potentially trying to address avoiding getting in each others' way.
But in this segment we're going to take up the issue of what a regional solution to Syria might look like. Sergei, so what does a regional solution to the conflict look like?
SERGEI PLEKHANOV: Regional solutions are notoriously hard to achieve, because usually in the region there are competing forces, competing interests. And we all know what that competition's all about in the Middle East. There are several axes of conflict in that part of the world. And apart from everything else, the capacity of the United States to maintain a balance of power as the dominant force in the region has drastically declined as a result of major strategic blunders made by the United States.
The United States is less capable of manipulating the big players in the Middle East. And that's a new situation, because since the Camp David accords of 1973 when Egypt and Israel normalized their relations, which was a drastic change in Middle Eastern politics, the United States was the main power there. And Russia was marginalized. Soviet Union at the time was marginalized, and it lost its position in Egypt. And then the Soviet Union in 1991, the Soviet Union was dissolved and Russia completely withdrew from any kind of active participation in the Middle East. So the United States as one hegemonic power was trying to manipulate the situation.
Remember what plans the United States had at the time. Greater Middle East, transforming the entire [inaud.] Muslim states from the Mediterranean all the way to Afghanistan. Transform those states into entities which would be formerly more democratic, pro-Western, and stable, and so on. Safe for Israel, and so on and so forth. And of course it was obvious that it was a pipe dream, that no such plan could be implemented. But they started boldly and confidently in Iraq. And they got stuck. Afghanistan was somewhat different because there there was a United Nations authorization for some kind of an action against the Taliban regime, for the [inaud.] regime. And besides, there were signs that the Taliban were directly responsible for enabling the attacks of 9/11.
But then this plan, this plan led to tremendous destabilization of the Middle East, on the one hand. On the other hand it enabled Iran to increase its regional inflow enormously. In fact, think of where Iran was before 2001, before 9/11. it had one enemy on the western front. There was Iraq. Bitter enemy. And on the eastern front [inaud.] had Afghanistan, the Taliban regime, which was strongly anti-Iranian. And so thanks to the United States, both those enemies were slain. [Have] replaced the enemies with greater instability and chaos. But Iran was now capable of now spreading its wings and establishing itself as the most influential regional power.
And the Americans then said, okay, what do we do now? Let's invade Iran. That was the idea. And the mid-2000s, around 2005-2006, the Americans were trying to find ways of collecting Iran's [inaud.] whereas Iran was suggesting to Americans, hey, we seem to have common interests, so let's normalize relations. And even the question of relations with Israel was on the table. But the response from the United States was, we don't negotiate with evil. We destroy evil. Okay. It's, you know, try. Go ahead and try. And of course nothing came out of it. So under the Obama administration they shifted to negotiations with Iran, trying to resolve the issues and take advantage of the fact that Iran is a rising nuclear power.
Now, to the credit of the Obama administration they managed to accomplish some kind of a resolution of the nuclear issue involved in the negotiations that gave us the deal with Iran. Really valuable. And they contributed to normalization of relations in the region.
PERIES: So Sergei, this current situation we have is actually even better in terms of coming up with a regional solution. At least the nuclear factor in relation to Iran has been removed. It's being negotiated. Which makes it a more of a possibility that you can bring Iran to the table, along with the other partners, in addressing a regional solution.
PLEKHANOV: [Offer] a comment on that because it's not up to the United States now to curtail all the players to kind of fall in line with the new policy. Because the United States then, the moment the negotiations produced a deal, there was an upsurge of criticism and concern from the major Sunni provinces in the region, such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and so on. They said, what the hell is going on? You are now helping Iran extend its influence and increase its influence in the region. And you know there are bigger enemies. So the Shia-Sunni cleavage in the Middle East immediately came to the fore.
So then the United States began to reassure its Sunni allies--and those Sunni allies are actually actively trying to overthrow the Assad regime. In a way what the United States--the reason why the United States cannot stop trying to overthrow Assad is because they want to remain on the good side with the Saudis and others, the Turks, and so on, because they cannot control the players. The players have their own game, have their own interests.
So now the challenge is to try and create a political format within which the diverse players, and in the first place Iran, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and so on and so forth, would be able to consult on stabilizing the region. Because all of it, all of the key players, are threatened by the new force that has been produced by the chaos, and that is ISIL. So is it possible or not, it is extremely difficult. That's the only solution that anyone can think of. Because if we yield to the logic of the Shia-Sunni conflict, if we say okay, we agree with Saudi Arabia that it's extremely important to prevent Iran from further increasing its influence, okay. Then we will be helping the Sunni bloc to--in its conflict with Iran. Which could, by the way, lead to a war between Iran and the Sunni [inaud.], which then could start over conflict in Iraq, [and] Shia are in direct conflict, or in Syria.
Now, would that be in anybody's interest? Would that, the United States, be able to say okay, that's not a bad thing. But they've just been trying to normalize relations with Iran. How can you do it at the same time? You are trying to normalize relations with Iran. And at the same time you are trying to help overthrow a regime in Syria which is supported by Iran. You're trying to cooperate with Russia on fighting ISIS and at the same time you're trying to confront Russia over Syria.
I don't know. There are too many balls in the air that they are throwing. I don't think that they can very well play with that. So they keep dropping the balls here and there. And the result of the policies is more and more chaos. I would like to draw your attention a remarkable article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal by Henry Kissinger, who is suggesting that the United States should get serious about the failure of its policy in the Middle East about the deepening destabilization in the region, which is extremely dangerous, and accept the fact that Russia's interests are such that the United States can and should cooperate with it, in defeating ISIS and agreeing on a number of missions in the Middle East which could help stabilize the region. He thinks, and it's possible--his big concern is Iran, by the way. More than Russia. He's not particularly concerned about Russia.
He thinks that Russia's acting out of its own national interests, which are legitimate. Russia is not trying to dominate the Middle East. And so Russia is open to all kinds of regional arrangements. Iran is a different story. But then even on Iran he thinks that with proper diplomatic activity and a proper combination of various methods the United States can bring Iran to agreeing on such a resolution which would be acceptable to other [players]. It's easier said than done.
But what is required above all is clarity of vision. I think the United States has to decide what its goals in the region are. Because you have conflicting statements coming from different people, and priorities which are at odds with each other. And that's not a sign of a policy which is going to be successful.
PERIES: All right. Sergei Plekhanov, thank you so much for joining us today, and we look forward to having you back.
PLEKHANOV: Okay, thank you.
PERIES: And thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.

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    By www.rt.com/news Black Friday Saudi-style: Riyadh to behead more than 50 people Saudi Arabia is planning to execute more than 50 people, found guilty of terrorism, in a single day. The move was immediately slammed by Amnesty International, which said the Saudis are “using the guise of counter-terrorism to settle political scores.” READ MORE: Saudi Arabia’s 175 ‘mass judicial executions’ in 1 yr condemned by Amnesty The information about executions was recently released in Saudi media, which said that up to 55 ‘Al-Qaeda terrorists’ and 'criminals' from the town of Awamiyya will be executed in the next few days. However, it hasn’t been specified when and how exactly the executions will take place. Awamiya, in Eastern Province where the authorities suppressed protests in 2011, has a predominantly Shiite population. According to sources, the executions may be carried out after Friday prayers.Reuters cited the Saudi Okaz newspaper as saying these 55 people are accused of sedition, attacks on security officials, and attempts to overthrow the government and carry out attacks by using explosives and surface-to-air missiles. According to Okaz, those on death row have killed more than 100 civilians and 71 security personnel.One of the prisoners is accused of attempting to buy nuclear material in Yemen worth $1.5 million for use inside Saudi Arabia. The Saudi plan has been slammed by Amnesty, which said that executing dozens of people “in a single day would mark a dizzying descent to yet another outrageous low for Saudi Arabia.”“Saudi Arabia’s macabre spike in executions this year, coupled with the secretive and arbitrary nature of court decisions and executions in the kingdom, leave us no option but to take these latest warning signs very seriously,” said James Lynch, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.Earlier the mothers of five teenagers who are among those on death row implored King Salman to show clemency.“The sentences handed down to our children are unique in the history of Saudi justice,” the statement from the mothers said.“They were based on confessions extracted under torture, trials that barred them from accessing defense counsel, and judges that displayed bias towards the prosecution.”This year has seen a sharp increase in the number of executions in the Kingdom. About 150 people have already been put to death. This is already a 26-percent increase on 2014.The number of executions in 2015 is catching up with the Kingdom’s all-time annual record of 192, which was documented by Amnesty International in 1995. The watchdog has been scathing of the Kingdom’s human rights record, saying they “fall far short” of global norms.
  • Why women are still being stoned to death in 2015
    Afghan men stone a woman in a hole to death in Ghalmeen, Afghanist By Zainab Salbi http://edition.cnn.com (CNN)The stoning of Rokhsana, an Afghan woman who was in her early twenties, this week in Afghanistan shed more ugly light on the treatment of women by the Taliban and religious extremists in parts of the Muslim world -- but to try to explain this practice in religions terms will only give legitimacy to those who are violating the very spirit and principle of religion itself.The explanation of why women are still being stoned comes not from religion itself but rather from the role of religion in the search for a new identity in a region, plagued with turmoil, where women are a very important symbol of a family's honor.But let's start at the beginning: Islam does indeed have the judgment of stoning for those who are engaged in sexual activities outside of marriage.Firstly, there must be four eyewitnesses to the actual act itself before judgment can be passed -- something that is very hard to get anywhere in the world. Second, both parties -- men and women -- should be treated equally under this judgment.   Both these facts are completely overlooked by fundamentalists who are adamant about picking only what they like out of Islam.As for the rest of Muslims -- the moderate majority -- though they are familiar with the stoning issue, they know to take the spirit of what applied thousands of years ago and apply its lesson in terms of encouraging modesty among women and men in modern days, rather than the actual stoning.I asked young women from Jordan, Syria and the UAE about the stoning of Rokhsana after her attempted escape with a man her age, and their response had nothing to do with stoning -- though all are religious and wear the headscarf."There is a reason for everyone's behavior -- her escaping without her parents' approval is wrong, but that can be dealt with in different ways other than punishment," Manar, 21, said. "No one does stoning anymore -- these were other days."Those who are still stoning are in the minority, but they're also the loudest in their selective implementation of the religion. For them -- whether it's the Taliban or Daesh (also known as ISIS) -- the only way to gain power is to claim it from a very particular part of religion, and only in the areas they deem necessary. And to these groups, women are the lowest denominator, used to prove their masculinity and their claim to power -- to themselves and to the world.   Never before in Islamic history have women been so brutalized, whether it's stoning in Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, kidnapping by Boko Haram in Nigeria, or assassinations in Libya.This crossing of the line -- physically attacking women in such savage ways -- has spread in the last two decades, but it's really taken off with the rise of ISIS.This new massive violation of women has been a shock to Muslim women themselves, who are respectful of the religion but not in the ways extremists are attempting to define it: as a complete silencing of women's' expressions, from the social to the political realm.Though horrifying for the Muslim world and the larger world alike, it is dangerous to acknowledge any extremist Muslims' behavior as Islamic. To do that is to legitimize their claim on religion, despite most Muslims not abiding by their rules.Ensuring that Muslim women's voices are heard in all political discussions for peace and security in various countries is the only way to help tilt the balance away from the Taliban and their like and back towards the moderate majority who are inventing, creating and seeking a decent life.
  • UN: Iran’s human rights record worse under Rouhani than Ahmadinejad
    By Robert Spencer http://www.jihadwatch.org Rouhani, you’ll remember, is a “moderate” according to the international media. He is supposed to represent a departure from Ahmadinejad, Iran’s coming in from the cold. Reality, as always, is different. “UN Report: Iran’s Human Rights Record Worse Under Rouhani than Ahmadinejad,” by Adelle Nazarian, Breitbart, November 2, 2015 (thanks to Cecilia):    A report released this month on “The Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran” reveals that Iranians are worse off under “moderate” President Hassan Rouhani than his more conservative predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and that, based on their current trajectory, they are expected to exceed well over 1,000 executions by year’s end.    “The human rights situation in the country remains dire,” Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, the UN’s special rapporteur on Iran, said during a briefing at the United Nations last week.    Iran executes more individuals per capita than any other country in the world. In his 26-page report, Shaheed notes that between January 1 and September 15 of this year, Iran executed at least 694 people by hanging, which included at least 10 women and one juvenile. In 2014, Iran clocked in at a shocking 753 executions.    Shaheed’s analysis also found that “more than 480 persons were flogged during the first 15 days of Ramadan for not fasting,” but that the Iranian regime has falsely maintained that only three individuals were subject to this punishment for their non-observance of the fast. Additionally, two people who were convicted of theft had their limbs amputated mere weeks prior to the conclusion of the Iran nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) in July.    A man identified as “Hamid S.” reportedly had his left eye and right ear surgically removed in January of this year after being found guilty of attacking another man with acid in 2005, which caused the victim to lose the same body parts. Another man was also forcibly blinded in March of this year in a process known as qisas, or “retribution-in-kind,” for throwing acid on another man in 2009. The egregious human rights abuses do not stop there. Adhmadinejad had infamously said gays do not exist in Iran several years ago. Shaheed’s recent UN report indicated that Rouhani had rejected the UN’s proposals to improve the situation of LGBTs in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Homosexuality is punishable by death in Iran, and the Ayatollah Khamenei has declared a fatwa that essentially forces gay and lesbian individuals into gender reassignment surgery, and a tremendous amount of pressure comes from families of these individuals who are concerned about their image in society.Despite perceived social strides forward in the Iranian regime, particularly by way of reformists who seek to implement change internally, the hardliners still maintain control.Omri Ceren, managing director of press and strategy at the Israel Project, told the Jerusalem Post on Sunday that “[e]very day brings new evidence that, whatever moderates there are in the Iranian political system, they’re not the ones in control… At some point the Obama administration will have to come to grips with who they’re dealing with, and work with Congress to push back strongly.”While the Iranian regime officially recognizes Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and Christianity as minority religions, the report maintains that members of these faiths continue to face severe restrictions in their ability to practice. Adherents of the Baha’i faith remain the most severely persecuted minority religious group in Iran.Women are also barred from attending sporting events such as volleyball matches, a concern the JPost describes as a “gender apartheid” system. The UN report notes that “Iran ranked 135 of the 142 countries assessed by the World Economic Forum for women’s political empowerment in 2014.”According to i24News, Iran has consistently barred Shaheed from visiting the country and “while Iranian officials have met with him, they have strongly disputed his criticisms and have frequently denounced his reporting as politically motivated and lacking credibility.”  
  • Bloody images from medieval Ashura celebration
    /www.britainfirst.org/bloody-images Sickening pictures of a blood-soaked Islamic ritual taking place across the Middle East show young men taking knives to their heads in brutal acts of self-harm.The holy Day of Ashura festival sees millions of Muslim men and boys around the world take part in the dramatic ceremony. It is held to mourn the death of the Prophet Mohammed’s grandson, Imam Husayn, in 680 AD, during the Battle of Karbala. The 10-day festival is observed by both Sunni and Shia factions.Shocking images from this year’s ritual show streets in Iraq soaked with blood and youngsters posing with knives, spears and chains. The worshippers’ white robes are splattered with blood and many have open wounds on the tops of their heads.Those not carrying out the brutal acts slap their chests, chant, and act in street plays. Ashura is just one aspect of the medieval, barbaric religion called Islam.
  • Khamenei recommits to 190,000 centrifuges in 15 years
     http://www.jpost.com/landedpages/printarticle.aspx?id=428692 By MICHAEL WILNER10/22/2015     Supreme leader also readies Tehran to update enrichment tools once deal lapses. WASHINGTON – Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei endorsed on Wednesday the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, paving the way for Tehran’s implementation of the nuclear deal reached with world powers last July.Signatories of the agreement are working toward a day of implementation, which will be declared once Iran completes a specific set of tasks.These steps include neutering its plutonium reactor, reducing its nuclear enrichment capacity and stockpile, and increasing access and transparency at its declared nuclear facilities.As soon as Iran completes all of these steps – a process the Obama administration believes will take between two and six months – the deal will be formally implemented, and Iran will begin receiving sanctions relief.In a statement, Khamenei said he was approving the deal, but with conditions.He specified the process by which he expects US President Barack Obama and his European Union counterparts to remove sanctions: Through written documents which “must explicitly clarify that sanctions will be completely removed.”The July agreement, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, removes all nuclear-related sanctions, but allows the United States to maintain its sanctions on other Iranian activities, such as its endorsement of terrorist organizations and human rights abuses.“Imposition of any sanctions at any level and under any pretext,” Khamenei said, “including repetitive and fabricated excuses like terrorism and human rights, from any of the negotiating countries, will be considered a violation of the JCPOA.”Khamenei also said that Iran must begin preparations now for the years in which key provisions of the JCPOA sunset.In eight years, when the deal allows Iran to update its equipment to enrich uranium, the supreme leader directed Iran’s atomic energy agency to “organize all executive dimensions of R&D so that, after an eight-year term, no technological gap would exist for enrichment.”And the country must also prepare, he added, “to reach 190,000 SWUs [separative work units]” in 15 years – a goal Khamenei had set out before the nuclear negotiations had begun in earnest. The nuclear deal allows for Iran to expand its nuclear program on an industrial- sized scale by 2030.Iran currently operates a model of centrifuge dubbed the IR-1— a 1970s-technology device that enriches uranium at a slow pace. According to Harvard University's Olli Heinonen, who once served as deputy director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, that model, at its best, reaches a capacity of 1 SWU per year."In my view, [Khamenei] maintains as his goal to have a 190000 SWU/year capacity," Heinonen told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. "Thus you can also say that the goal could be 190,000 centrifuges.""However, the IR-1s are not reliable and old technology," he added. "This is why Iran is developing more advanced centrifuges. When the limitations of the JCPOA start to fade away after ten years, we will see other centrifuges than IR-1 emerging."Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz told the Post on Wednesday that the pronouncement— along with a test of ballistic missiles days before— a "finger in the eye" by Iran to the United States."This was well known," Steinitz said, at an event with his American counterpart, Ernest Moniz. "This was one of our criticisms of the agreement. The agreement will meet Iran's 190,000 centrifuges in fifteen years."
  • Migrants Stay at 4 Star Hotel While Poor Germans Lose Their Homes
    By Paul Joseph Watson | October 21, 2015 http://www.infowars.com/migrants Low income families evicted to make way for asylum seekers Migrants are being housed at a 4 star hotel in Germany while Germans themselves are being told to leave their homes to make way for asylum seekers. The sheer number of asylum seekers making their way to the Saxony-Anhalt region has resulted in an accommodation crisis, with the Maritim Hotel in Halle now being used to house at least 80 migrants who began arriving last week.The 4 star hotel boasts an indoor swimming pool, sauna and fitness room and is located just a 10 minute walk from Halle’s historic old town. According to one report, the relief agency behind the relocation of the migrants is concerned that some of the refugees are simply leaving the hotel and not returning, while others are complaining about the lack of activities, with games evenings and film screenings not being sufficient to keep them entertained.Staff members are also said to be annoyed at the fact that the migrants are constantly breaking hotel rules. The refugees are not subjected to passport checks until they arrive at the hotel. Taxpayers are footing the bill for a permanent presence of ten police cars and 30 officers.With more migrants expected to arrive, the Maritim’s Booking.com page confirms that the hotel isn’t taking any reservations at the moment. While authorities assert that the situation is only temporary, others speculate that the hotel could become a permanent migrant center, with numerous staff members who have worked there for 25 years losing their jobs.While the migrants are enjoying all the comforts of a 4 star hotel, low income Germans are being ordered to leave their homes. As the Telegraph reported, Germans are beginning to receive notices of eviction to make way for asylum seekers.As we reported last week, a regional governor told residents of a municipality in Germany that if they didn’t embrace the arrival of hundreds of new migrants, they should leave.
  • Sweden On Verge of Collapse as Illegal Immigrants Surge into the Country
    By  Kurt Nimmo | Infowars.com | October 20, 2015 http://www.infowars.com/sweden Sweden On Verge of Collapse as Illegal Immigrants Surge into the CountryAnti-immigration party now the largest in the Scandinavian nation Sweden, proudly dubbed the “Great Humanitarian Power” by its ex-prime minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, is on the verge of collapse.“The final consequence of the West and, above all, Sweden’s immigration policy is that the economy will collapse — because who is going to pay for it all? And economic breakdowns, once they happen, always happen very fast,” warns Danish historian Lars Hedegaard.Increasing taxes on wage earners in Sweden to pay for the influx of illegal immigrants is not enough. In August Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson said the government is looking at borrowing large sums of money from the European Investment Bank to pay for illegal immigration.“Why has one government after another chosen to spend Swedish taxpayers’ money to support and shelter citizens of other countries, while some of them try to kill us?” asked Ingrid Carlqvist after a Swedish woman and her son were stabbed to death at an IKEA store in Vasteras, Sweden, by Abraham Ukbagabir, an illegal immigrant from Eritrea. Ukbagabir said he lost control after learning he was going to be deported to Italy. He killed an innocent woman and her son “to make people understand him,” according to The Washington Post.Sweden’s liberal immigration policy is responsible for the murderous rampage by Ukbagabir. Eritreans without residence permits in other EU-countries automatically get to stay in Sweden, the great humanitarian and multicultural power.“Time to wake up, Swedish People,” wrote Björn Söder of the Sweden Democrats party on his Facebook page in August. He said the murdered woman and her son would not agree with Reinfeldtd, who urged Swedes to “open their hearts” to illegal immigrants streaming into the country.A large number of Swedes are opposed to illegal immigration. A poll conducted in August revealed the Sweden Democrats are the largest party in the country.“SD gets 25.2 percent, while the Social Democrats end up at 23.4 percent and the Conservatives 21.0 percent, according to (a) YouGov survey,” a Swedish newspaper, Metro, reported.Prior to the murders, Sweden’s third largest city, Malmö, experienced ethnic violence between groups of immigrants. The gangs, described as “youths” by the Swedish media, used guns, bombs and hand grenades against each other.In August the Swedish Migration Board, Migrationsverket, recorded almost as many reports of threats and violence in asylum accommodation as throughout the whole of 2014, according to the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter.“The incidents relate not only to threats and violence, but also to vandalism, arson and attempted suicide,” a Swedish English language website, The Local, reported.Rape and Sexual ViolenceIn addition to ethnic violence, the Swedish Crime Survey reports an increase in rape.“Another area of cultural shock in Western countries with significant Muslim immigration is the crime rate, and especially disproportional sexual crimes against the host country’s women,” notes The Tribune Papers. “In Sweden, which does not usually report the nationality of rapists, a just released study by Swedish Police revealed that Muslim men, who constitute only 2 percent of the population are responsible for 77.6 percent of rapes, giving once peaceful Sweden the highest rape rate in Europe and the second highest in the world, next to South Africa.” Attacks on Refugee CentersOn Saturday a third refugee center within a week was torched in Onsala, located in the affluent area of Kungsbacka, Sweden.In total, over the last year, there have been 14 suspected arson attacks on centers hosting illegal immigrants. Mosques have also been attacked.Following the arson attacks, the government decide to keep the location of refugee centers secret.“After the past week’s fire incidents in southern Sweden I don’t think it’s okay to expose the addresses. The risk is that thugs decide to burn down the premises here as well,” said Ewa Klingfors, director of a social services council in Umeå, a city in northern Sweden.  
  • NRussian Jets Hit 60 ISIL and usra Front Targets in Syria
    By http://sputniknews.com/middleeast The Russian Aerospace Force has conducted 55 sorties over the past 24 hours, hitting 60 ISIL and Nusra Front targets in Syria's provinces of Hama, Latakia, Damascus, Idlib, Aleppo and Deir ez-Zor, the Russian Defense Ministry said Tuesday.Russian bombers destroyed 19 terrorist command centers, 30 firing positions, 9 fortified areas, 2 ammunition depots, a plant producing arms and explosives, 3 terrorist fighting vehicles and 6 off-road vehicles over the past 24 hours, the Russian Defense Ministry's spokesman said.Russian Su-24 and Su-34 destroyed an ISIL command post and a mini-factory producing rockets, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov told reporters."In the area of ​​the village Qastun, the Idlib province, a large terrorist base with a command post and a disguised ammunition depot has been destroyed. As a result of a Su-24 strike by high-explosive bombs and the detonation of munitions, the facility was completely destroyed."A large number of foreigners arrive in the Idlib province to join terrorist ranks, the Russian Defense Ministry said citing Syrian intelligence data."Leaders of terrorist groups are working to fill the losses they sustained in battles with Syrian troops and due to the defection of militants. According to Syrian intelligence, a large number of foreign mercenaries are arriving in the Idlib province," the ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.In addition, in the province of Deir ez-Zor, the Russian aviation has destroyed a mini-factory producting explosives and unguided rockets. "The terrorist facility was hit by a Su-34 pinpoint strike which destroyed the mini-factory."Moreover, the Russian Aerospace Force has destroyed an ISIL command center and a communication center in the Syria's province of Deir ez-Zor. Russian Su-34 aircraft hit the terrorist target with a guided bomb."In the province of Deir ez-Zor a terrorist command post and a communication center, which coordinated the activities of five militant groups in the area, were destroyed. The facility was located in a building of a local postal office, which was captured by militants."
  • EU criticizes Iran regime for execution of juvenile offender
    By http://www.ncr-iran.org/en/news/human-rights NCRI - The European Union on Wednesday criticized the Iranian regime for carrying out the execution earlier in the week of a young woman for a crime she allegedly committed at the age of 16. "Fatemeh Salbehi was executed in Iran, after being sentenced to death for a crime committed in May 2010 when she was 17 years old," the EU's Spokesperson said in a statement."Death penalty sentences for crimes committed by persons below the age of eighteen are contrary to Iran’s international obligations under the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.""The European Union reiterates its concerns about the high number of executions in Iran, notably for crimes such as drug offences which do not qualify as 'most serious crimes' according to the international human rights law."Fatemeh Salbehi, 23, had been accused of murdering her 30-year-old 'husband' when she was a teenage schoolgirl.She was hanged at dawn in Adel-Abad Prison in the city of Shiraz, southern Iran, on Tuesday.Ms. Salbehi had been forced to marry a man nearly twice her age and said she had never seen the man prior to their marriage. Ms. Salbehi was believed to have admitted to the murder while under duress in detention. But in the regime's courts she maintained her innocence.Amnesty International said on February 8, 2011: “Fatemeh Salbehi’s husband, Hamed Sadeghi, said to be an employee of the Public Relations Office of the local judiciary, was found dead in their home in Shiraz in May 2008, when Fatemeh was at school. Fatemeh Salbehi was arrested and interrogated without the presence of a lawyer. Fatemeh Salbehi first “confessed” to murder, but then stated that two others broke into the home she shared with her husband and killed him. Fatemeh Salbehi was convicted of murder by Branch Five of the Fars Criminal Court and sentenced to death. This sentence was later upheld by the Supreme Court.”
  • Canadian Citizenship is a Privilege, NOT a Right!
    By http://neveragaincanada.ca/canadian-citizenship Are you surprised that this would be a front page story? This woman is incorrect in saying that she has a right to be here, and this is her country.Canadian citizenship is a privilege, NOT a right, and someone who makes ludicrous demands of a country of which they are not yet a citizen in order to accommodate their barbaric cultural practice, which in fact, contradict Canadian values and freedoms should not be entitled to this privilege.The constant appeasement and cowardice from the left needs to cease, otherwise Canada will soon find ourselves suffering the same culture fate as our friends in Europe and the UK.