Russian forces have established several military positions near the US-controlled zone of at-Tanf, pro-government media activists reported on December 12.
A source familiar with the situation, told SouthFront that several air-defense systems and other military equipment were deployed at the Russian positions. More weapons, including heavy rocket launchers, are reportedly expected to arrive there in the upcoming few days.
The Saudi London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat even claimed that Russia is going to deploy an S-300 system to the province of Deir Ezzor. However, this type of rumors is common for the Saudi outlet, which has been actively working to fuel tensions between the Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance and the US-Israeli-led bloc as well as between Russia and Iran.
In early December, forces of the US-led coalition employed its M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System to fire several rockets at positions of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in the area of al-Ghurab Mount. The shelling caused no casualties but contributed to further growth of tensions in this part of Syria.
Late on December 13, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces made a fresh effort to capture the town of Hajin from ISIS. According to pro-SDF sources, the group is now in control of the town center and clashing with the terrorists in its southern part. Some sources even already speculated that Hajin is under full SDF control. However, this is yet to be happen.
A spokesman for the coalition of pro-Turkish militant groups branded as the Syrian National Arma, Major Youssef Hamoud, told Reuters that up to 15,000 Turkish-backed militants will participate in the upcoming Turkish operation against the Kurdish militais – YPG/YPJ in northern Syria.
The statement came as the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) deployed a few dozens of armoured vehicles in its provinces bordering the Syrian province of Aleppo.
Meanwhile, a Turkish soldier was killed in an attack of the YPG near the town of Tell Rifaat in northern Aleppo. The TAF responded to the attack by launching a series of powerful artillery strikes on YPG and SAA positions near the town.
It should be noted that earlier in 2018 a notable number of YPG members had fled from the Turkish advance on Afrin to the areas protected by the SAA near the city of Aleppo. Local sources say that YPG members may attempt to use SAA positions as a shield for their attacks on the TAF. In case of the success, this approach may cause open hostilities between the SAA and the TAF in the area.
The temptation of political expediency and help from powerful special-interest lobbies often prove too much for many candidates turned members of Congress.
by Whitney Webb
December 12th, 2018
WASHINGTON – As a result of the midterm election, four recently elected women affiliated with the democratic-socialist PAC Justice Democrats will soon be striding through Capitol Hill as full-fledged members of Congress. These four women – Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley – have all been touted as “progressive” game-changers for having avoided corporate money during their primaries and for supporting policies like Medicare-for-all and abolishing ICE, among others.
Yet, while these soon-to-be congresswomen support many of the same policies, they exhibit considerable differences when it comes to Palestine, ranging from deepening their pro-Palestine stances, to flip-flopping on it, to remaining largely silent on an issue of great importance to many Americans and others the world over.
Before their primary elections, Tlaib, Omar, and Ocasio-Cortez all criticized Israel in some way, with some commentators suggesting that Tlaib – who is the daughter of Palestinian immigrants – went the farthest by promoting a one-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. However, Tlaib later pulled away from those comments and was accused of “flip-flopping” after subsequently stating that she would support a two-state solution “if it was something of possibility.” Pressley, the outlier on this issue among Justice Democrat-supported candidates, stayed largely silent about both Israel and Palestine despite the fact that the Justice Democrats openly promote an arms embargo on Israel.
However, across the board, following their primaries, the rhetoric from these “progressives” began to soften, sparking concern that statements of pro-Palestinian solidarity were soon to become a thing of the past as these candidates transitioned from progressive primary challengers to candidates for the establishment Democratic Party. Indeed, Omar, Tlaib, and Ocasio-Cortez all seemed to distance themselves from their past comments by backing a two-state solution and distancing themselves from the non-violent Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
While the post-primary changes sparked concern that pro-Palestine comments would ultimately disappear from these “status quo-challenging” candidates, two of these women – the first Muslim women ever elected to Congress — have come out in even stronger support of Palestine since winning the general election in November.
Omar: choosing the moral imperative over political expediency
After the November midterm election, Ilhan Omar – an American-Somali Muslim who will represent Minnesota’s 5th district – came out in full support of Palestinian rights, moving well beyond her past condemnations of the Israeli government’s abuse of Palestinians and her characterization of the state of Israel as an “apartheid” regime.
Drawing attention to the apartheid Israeli regime is far from hating Jews. You are a hateful sad man, I pray to Allah you get the help you need and find happiness. https://t.co/SvEXjlxlEN
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) May 31, 2018
Despite the fact that her comments were used to smear her by Islamophobes and pro-Israel stalwarts, Omar chose to publicly elaborate on those controversial views, not shy away from them, despite pressure from the Democratic Party establishment.
In a post-election November interview with Muslim Girl, Ilhan stated:
For me, that particular issue [Israel-Palestine] really is about making sure that we are people who understand that there is oppression happening, and speak to that as you would for issues that are safe. I believe that it doesn’t really matter who you are, and where you live, and who has empowered you; no one has a right ever to transgress on other’s rights.”
When I see the kind of weapons that are being used to fight kids who are throwing rocks, I think that’s injustice, and so that has propelled me to feel like I needed to say something … It is a region that has power extremely lopsided. When we are given an opportunity to look at the world, and dream of a place where people are treated equally, and people are allowed the opportunity for self-determination, we cannot dream of that world without having this particular region in mind.”
Omar also noted that expressions of Palestinian solidarity were important to many in her district, while also stating that her support was not based on political convenience but moral definites:
The people in my district and the folks that I represent who have ties to that region understand how necessary it is for us to advocate, and not abdicate because it is politically expedient; but advocate because we know right from wrong.”
Perhaps most significantly, Omar also confirmed to Muslim Girl that she “believes and supports the BDS movement and has fought to make sure people’s right to support it isn’t criminalized.” She then clarified her past criticisms of BDS by stating that she still has “reservations on the effectiveness of the movement in accomplishing a lasting solution.”
Tlaib: supporting BDS and planning a West Bank congressional visit
Less than a month after Omar’s unapologetic statements in support of the Palestinian people, Rashida Tlaib – who will serve among the first Muslim congresswomen along with Omar – also expressed her support for Palestinian rights movements like BDS, as well as presenting her plan to challenge the Israel lobby’s trip to Israel for new congressmen — which critics have called one-sided, if not outright indoctrination — with a parallel delegation to the West Bank.
During the primary, Tlaib spoke out against Israeli apartheid while also vocally supporting the Palestinian right of return. However, as previously mentioned, she was accused of “flip-flopping” on her support for a one-state solution by stating, during a pre-election interview on Democracy Now!, that she would consider supporting a two-state solution. However, during that interview, Tlaib actually stated only that she would hypothetically support a two-state solution “if it was something of possibility.”
Yet, as MintPress and other outlets have long noted, Israeli settlements and military rule over the West Bank have rendered a two-state solution all but impossible. Thus, Tlaib’s comments on Democracy Now! reflect the fact that the two-state solution is not likely.
On December 3, Tlaib’s interview with The Intercept helped make her positions on Israel and Palestine more clear and ultimately put to rest concerns that she would place political expediency over her past advocacy for Palestine and her roots, as her grandparents still live in the West Bank. Tlaib has cited both her personal connection to the region as well as her commitment to social justice as her reasons for supporting Palestinian rights.
Fadwa Tlaib, an aunt of Rashida Tlaib, points to a young Rashida in a 1987 photo with her mother Fatima in the West Bank village of Beit Ur Al Foqa. Nasser Nasser | AP
In speaking to The Intercept, Tlaib confirmed that “I personally support the BDS movement” and added that BDS and other economic boycotts are a way to bring attention to “issues like the racism and the international human rights violations by Israel right now.” Tlaib’s statements on BDS make her and Ilhan Omar the only two members of Congress to publicly voice support for the BDS movement. Tlaib also likened Israeli apartheid to the Jim Crow system once imposed on African-Americans in the United States.
However, Tlaib’s interview with The Intercept received more attention, not for her formal support for BDS, but for her plan to host a congressional delegation to occupied Palestine. In elaborating on this point, Tlaib stated that the trip would focus on Israel’s detention of Palestinian children, education, access to clean water and poverty. Tlaib noted, however, that the details of her planned delegation have not yet crystallized as it is still unclear who will join her on the trip and who will help fund it.
Yet, ultimately, Tlaib made it clear that she wanted her delegation to “humanize” Palestinians and to provide an “alternative perspective” to the Israel lobby-funded trip for new members of Congress that, according to Tlaib, does not provide “a real, fair lens into this issue.”
Over the last decade, the powerful and well-funded Israel lobby – particularly the American Israel Education Foundation, a branch of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) – has spent $12.9 million on sending members of Congress and congressional staffers to Israel. On these trips, which are held separately for Democrats and Republicans, members of Congress meet with Israeli government leaders and business executives but make no visits to the Gaza Strip or the occupied West Bank. Last year’s trip for Democratic members of Congress included a single visit with a Palestinian leader, Shukri Bishara of the Palestinian Authority (PA), which lasted one hour and 15 minutes.
Tlaib’s plans for a delegation aimed at directly challenging AIPAC comes at a time when AIPAC is desperately trying to court American progressives and prevent a radical shift on Democratic policy when it comes to Israel. As journalist Alison Weir recently reported, AIPAC has been offering lavish, all-expense-paid trips to Israel to west coast progressive groups.
However, given that extreme pro-Israel policies are losing support among Americans and even American Jews, it seems unlikely that AIPAC-funded trips will succeed in preventing a change in American political discourse when it comes to Palestine.
Ocasio-Cortez: Retreating to the party fold?
While Omar and Tlaib have maintained their pre-primary positions on Palestine since being elected to Congress, other newly elected “progressive” members of Congress have instead tried to distance themselves from their past statements on Palestine or have largely tried to avoid the issue altogether.
Indeed, none other than the most well-known new “progressive” to become a member of next year’s Congress – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York – quickly walked back her past comments in solidarity with Palestine following her primary win this past July, even though she faced only token opposition in her general election campaign.
Prior to the primary, comments made by Ocasio-Cortez on the Israeli military’s brutal suppression of protests in the Gaza Strip received widespread media attention in the U.S., particularly her tweet calling the shooting of Gazan protestors a “massacre.”
This is a massacre.
I hope my peers have the moral courage to call it such.
No state or entity is absolved of mass shootings of protesters. There is no justification. Palestinian people deserve basic human dignity, as anyone else.
Democrats can’t be silent about this anymore. https://t.co/wJGATOtDsR
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) May 14, 2018
Ocasio-Cortez was subsequently promoted as a “pro-Palestine socialist” and was praised by influential leftist pundits like Glenn Greenwald for her “moral courage” in taking a stand for the “human dignity” of the Palestinian people.
However, despite the positive attention her comments received from many progressives, it was not to last. Indeed, just a few weeks after her primary win against incumbent Joe Crowley, Ocasio-Cortez backed away from her pro-Palestine comments in an interview on PBS’ Firing Line. During the interview, the then-Democratic Party candidate toned down her statements, claiming that her past comments supporting Palestine were made while she was an “activist,” not a congressional candidate for the Democratic Party.
During the interview, Ocasio-Cortez went on to distance herself from other past statements she made regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict, including having used the term “occupation” when referring to Israel’s military rule over Palestine’s West Bank. For instance, when asked to expand on what she meant by “the occupation of Palestine,” Ocasio-Cortez referred only to the fact that “[Israeli] settlements … are increasing in some of these areas.”
When prodded further, she stated that she was “not the expert on geopolitics on this issue” and that she may not always “use the right words” when discussing the Israel-Palestine conflict. She also stated that she believes “absolutely in Israel’s right to exist” and called herself a “proponent of the two-state solution.”
As MintPress has noted in the past, Israel’s aggressive policies aimed towards annexation of the West Bank and the U.S. government’s ongoing support for such measures have rendered the so-called “two-state solution” largely impossible. Thus, Ocasio-Cortez’s support for the two-state solution reflects either a lack of knowledge on the subject or a conscious decision to adopt positions actively promoted by the Democratic Party, which is strongly influenced by the pro-Israel lobby.
Notably, Ocasio-Cortez has been silent on Justice Democrats’ position on an arms embargo to Israel, despite her close ties to the progressive PAC, her ostensible support for its platform and the amount of media coverage her comments on the conflict have received.
Some experts like Asad Abukhalil — a professor in political science at California State University, Stanislaus — took it to be the latter when he told the Times of Israel that Ocasio-Cortez’s comments during the PBS interview about a two-state solution as well as her support for Israel’s right to exist are “a sign that [she has] become an already mainstream Democratic candidate.”
Others – particularly Israel supporters — have since accused Ocasio-Cortez of pandering to Israeli and American Jews following her recent claim of Jewish heritage, which she chose not to discuss in public until this past Monday.
Great. So now look for @Ocasio2018 to make ‘as a Jew’ statements against everything the Jewish people hold dear, including Israel. She’s Jewish like Elizabeth Warren is Indian. Pure political expediency https://t.co/cf6EOLyNjD
— (((IsraelMatzav))) (@IsraelMatzav) December 10, 2018
Notably, an associate of Ocasio-Cortez stated earlier this month that the new congresswoman would not attend the AIPAC-funded tour of Israel for new members of Congress, though Ocasio-Cortez herself did not comment on the tour and her reasons for allegedly not attending.
Furthermore, following Tlaib and Omar’s open support for BDS since the election, a spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez and one of the leaders of the Justice Democrats PAC, Corbin Trent, declined to state whether or not Ocasio-Cortez backed the movement.
Pressley: Domestic progressive but foreign policy mystic
Whereas Ocasio-Cortez’s positions on Palestine have “evolved” ever since her primary win earlier this year, another self-styled progressive who was newly elected to Congress this year – Ayanna Pressley – has remained consistent in her position on Israel and Palestine, though it is hardly as “progressive” as those adopted by Omar or Tlaib.
Though Pressley has voiced support for a bill that aims to prevent U.S. aid to Israel from being used in the detention or mistreatment of Palestinian children, she opposed the BDS movement prior to November and has supported a “two-state solution that will safeguard Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, and establish a sovereign and independent Palestinian [state].” However, Pressley’s opposition to BDS is not strong enough for her to back anti-BDS legislation, which she opposes on free-speech grounds.
Pressley has also remained tight-lipped on other issues of interest regarding U.S. foreign policy. For instance, The Intercept reported in September that Pressley declined to answer whether she would support ending military intervention in Afghanistan – now in its 17th year – or whether she would support prohibiting the stationing of U.S. military forces in Syria. Rep. Mike Capuano (D-MA), whom Pressley defeated in this year’s election, had answered yes to both queries.
Walking the walk on Capitol Hill
While all four “progressive” congresswomen-elect have been celebrated as progressives poised to “upend” the status quo, what has taken place both since the primaries and in the wake of the general election shows that a given candidate’s “progressive” positions during the primary do not always make the cut once candidate becomes officeholder. Indeed, the temptation of political expediency, as well as help from powerful special-interest lobbies, often prove too much for many candidates turned members of Congress.
However, despite the fact that some of these new “progressives” destined for Capitol Hill have left their past support for Palestine behind, it is notable that two of them — Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib — have resisted extreme pressure from social media, the Israel lobby and the Democratic Party itself in order to stand up for their beliefs in regard to Palestinian rights.
While they are only two people in a sea of corporate-influenced congressmen, the moral courage of Omar and Tlaib in standing by the Palestinian people against powerful interests and massive pressure offers hope that the “Palestinian taboo” in the U.S. political landscape is finally coming to an end.
Top Photo | This composite image shows left to right Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ayanna Pressley, four newly minted member of Congress. Mintpress News Image | AP
Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.
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EDITOR’S CHOICE | 13.12.2018
In an article published eighteen months ago I wrote what became its title, “Nomenklaturocracy’s agony: the project “Emmanuel Macron,” international Nomenklatura’s last chance to delay the inevitable demise of the heavily discredited and mortally wounded EU idea.” Today the time came to announce briefly what the title above says in many words: Emmanuel Macron is in free fall!
During weeks of street protests by a spontaneous movement labeled “Gilets Jaunes” (yellow cardigans), to which the public was sympathetic while condemning the violence by gangs of delinquents which simply prayed on the organized action and plundered shops, set cars on fire, and even fought with the forces of order, spilling blood in the process, the French President was notoriously absent (busy with higher priorities on Jupiter, some would tell, adding that it amounted to visible contempt).
And then today he came back on Earth, putting up a theatric performance: handsome, eloquent and humble, promising to meet a few of the demands with crumbs – and everybody knows there is no money, the sovereign debt is anywhere between 110 and 120% vs a GDP that is around € 2 Trillion, and the budget deficit will have to exceed the cap required by the EC, i.e. more borrowing, i.e. continuing down the spiral the Nomenklatura promises to avoid, at every budget planning cycle, again and again…
Too little, too late: many protest groups, scattered throughout France, came on TV to state they will continue with the protests! But even if they give in, and this wave eventually subsides, the gravest damage any puppet-sold-as-a-political-genius could suffer is already done, and no remedy exists.
Macron went so far as to admit that his attitude was not adequate. His behavior has ever since the very beginning of his Presidency been haughty and arrogant, according to many, hence today he makes a U-turn. Perhaps his body language will sooth part of the public anger but today’s speech is an admission to at least part of the guilt: the opposition already formulated the blame – he promised changes to his predecessors’ policies, which changes were to bring the one time good life back, but instead his policies exacerbated the situation, and the poor got poorer visibly faster than before while the rich became richer even faster than that.
The French President declared “socio-economic emergency.” Good, but not good enough: (i) It would have served France well if such emergency were announced a couple of presidents before Macron; and (ii) There’s no money!
Above is basically a reminder, meaning that the Nomenklatura lives in its own cocoon and has no clue about the everyday life of their average citizen (let alone elsewhere in the world). Also, meaning Nomenklatura has no idea how to go about improving what they do not know needs improvement, and by how much at the minimum – so that the public is calmed down… France today is exactly where it was half a century, year upon year, when its ambitious leader, General Charles De Gaulle, had to resign following similar street activities and violence. The big question is, does the parallel end there, or we should look into the popular rage against Louis XVI, or Nicholas II…
The revolt by “Gilets Jaunes” has scored big, merely by the fact that Nomenklatura has given in. We will see if this truly popular, spontaneous, ex-politics, ex-ideology movement (a real “we the people”) will evolve further, now or after being calmed down, but in my mind it did already mark the beginning of the French revolution of 21st century… And that is not merely my own fantasy: among several observers who commented on the national TV the two or three most competent and most experienced ones called the protesters’ spokespersons “Trumpists.” It was basically to denote Donald Trump’s revolutionary attitude (paraphrased), “My people’s interest first,” in defiance to the Deep state’s line, which his predecessors duly followed, cheered by a servile united front of media-and-legislative-branch that today is carrying out an unprecedented anti-Presidential campaign. We, the European dissidents, have explained why Donald Trump should be regarded as the initiator and first executor of the American revolution of 21st century. The primary feature of his revolutionary portfolio, which resonates to the French protesters is his patriotism – the “Gilets Jaunes” complained that their plight has been totally neglected for years while the incoming immigrants are treated more generously (implicitly, at their expense; implicitly, if EU policy is defied and the flow of immigrants stopped, there will be more money for “own folk”). And it was Emmanuel Macron, this immature man whom they voted in (instead of “nationalist” Marine Le Pen) as President, who recently spoke on behalf of the EU about how the Europeans are not in favor of (US President’s) nationalism. They are certainly “patriots” but not “nationalists,” you see? So now the people on the street seem to be better acquainted with the fact that these two are synonymous of each other, and that “nationalism” is just being charged with a negative connotation by those who need to peddle someone’s propaganda. And they are proud to be “Trumpists” – that is, French patriots and nationalists at the same time – with demands that they be paid attention to, including by disregarding European directives that are depriving them from funding in order to fund more and more immigrants… Macron did not mention even once EU, its policies, the directives, the common goals, the warm welcome to any new immigrants till perpetuity…
The cracks in the European Union are becoming more and more – and wider as well.
Wed, 12 Dec 2018 19:39 UTC
Cardinal George PellThe highest-ranking Catholic Church official to face such criminal charges.
The Vatican’s third most powerful official has been convicted in Australia on all charges he sexually abused two choir boys there in the late ’90s, according to two sources with knowledge of the case.
A unanimous jury returned its verdict for Cardinal George Pell on Tuesday (Australian time) after more than three days of deliberations, the sources said, in a trial conducted under a gag order by the judge that prevented any details of the trial being made public.
Pell, the Vatican’s finance chief and the highest Vatican official to ever go on trial for sex abuse, left Rome in June 2017 to stand trial in Melbourne.
As that trial was about to get underway in June, a judge placed a suppression order on all press coverage in Australia, according to the order reviewed by The Daily Beast. Prosecutors applied for the order and it was granted to “prevent a real and substantial risk of prejudice to the proper administration of justice.” That order remains in place in Australia.
That trial, known as “the cathedral trial,” was declared a mistrial earlier this year after a hung jury, the sources say. A retrial began immediately and ended this week with the unanimous verdict.
In a book published last year, journalist Louise Milligan reportedly wrote that Pell was accused by two former choir boys of sexual abuse while he was archbishop of Melbourne in the ’90s. The boys sang in the choir at St. Patrick’s cathedral and were allegedly abused by Pell in a room in the confines of the church. Pell’s office told The Guardian in 2017 he “repeats his vehement and consistent denials of any and all such accusations.”
A second trial known as “the swimmers trial” is due to get underway early next year, according to sources familiar with the case. That trial is expected to hear evidence that Pell “sexually offended” two men when they were boys playing games in a swimming pool in Ballarat, Victoria. At the time of the allegations, which date back to the ’70s when Pell was a priest in the area, according to The Guardian.
A court in Victoria heard in March that Pell, who has denied all of the allegations, would stay in the pool after swimming laps and play with children.
While details from nearly all trials in the U.S. can be made public, Australia’s judicial system is more favorable to defendants where the use of “suppression orders” has increased in recent years, according to The Australian. The gag orders are used for a range of reasons to prevent reporting that could prejudice a case and to restrict details heard in open court being made public.
Steven Spaner, Australia coordinator from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) told The Daily Beast he felt frustrated and left “in the dark” following the secrecy surrounding the trial.
“It’s hard to know if there are any shenanigans going on-things the church did that are illegal themselves,” Spaner said. “There is always suspicion when you don’t know what is going on.”
Pell rose through the ranks of the church in Australia after being ordained as a priest in 1966 and then as a bishop in 1987. In 1996, Pope John Paul II appointed him archbishop of Melbourne.He was appointed archbishop of Sydney five years later and then tapped by Pope Francis in early 2014 to be Secretariat for the Economy at the Vatican.
The Australian website Broken Rites, which has investigated allegations of sex abuse against the church, published details of a complaint against Pell from an incident alleged to have occurred in the early ’60s. An investigator quoted the account of a boy at a Catholic youth camp who accused Pell, then a trainee priest, of touching his genitals. Cardinal Pell has always denied the allegations, which were made in 2002 and investigated by retired Victorian Supreme Court judge Alec Southwell. The result of Southwell’s investigation was that the allegations could not be established and they do not form part of the criminal trials.
Pell, who denies all allegations of misconduct and pleaded not guilty in the cathedral trial, has retained an all-star legal defense team to fight the charges. Among his dream team of lawyers is Robert Richter, who reportedly charges upwards of $11,000 a day for his services. Richter has previously represented a high-profile underworld crime figure accused of murder and a senior Australian politician who was accused of rape.
Richter is being joined by lawyers and clerks from the white-shoe firm Galbally & O’Bryan, plus a second aggressive criminal barrister, Ruth Shann.
Mystery surrounds who is paying Pell’s legal tab, which is likely to run into the millions of dollars.
“It’s highly unlikely his defense is being paid for entirely by supporters or parishioners,” a source with knowledge of the case said. “His legal bills will be astronomical when it’s all over. If it is the Church, the costs will be very well hidden.”
Spaner told The Daily Beast, “The only person who would know for sure is George Pell, who is the treasurer.”
The Vatican has remained defiantly silent since Pell was charged, having released just the one statement when asked if the Pope will take Pell back following the trials.
“The Holy See has taken note of the decision issued by judicial authorities in Australia regarding His Eminence Cardinal George Pell. Last year, the Holy Father granted Cardinal Pell a leave of absence so he could defend himself from the accusations. The leave of absence is still in place.”
A synod on Church abuse early next year attended by top bishops is likely to include discussions of Pell’s future.
Vatican observers note that like all Cardinals in positions of power, Pell did offer his resignation from his official duties when he turned 75 in 2016 so the Pope has it in his possession but has not yet accepted it.
The Vatican did not respond to a request for an official comment on the case. Pell was dismissed from a Vatican advisory group with two other cardinals in October by Pope Francis, the Vatican announced on Wednesday.
Comment: So Cardinal George Pell who has accusations tracing back to his very first years as a priest, and which appear in most decades following, is clearly a serial offender and there are likely many more victims who have yet to be heard. And so considering the evidence that this priest has been sexually abusing children for at least 50 years, that this monster is still connected by his ‘leave of absence’ says all you need to know about what forces call the shots at the Vatican.
- Pope Francis promises zero tolerance for pedophile priests after revelations of the Pennsylvania Grand jury report – It seems the Pope doesn’t keep his promises.
- Former Vatican ambassador says Pope Francis knew of abusive priest, calls for resignation
- Abuse issues threaten to overshadow Pope’s visit to Ireland
- Pope Francis accepts resignations of Chilean bishops in midst of child sex abuse scandal
- Pope Francis ‘won’t say a word’ regarding sex abuse cover-up allegations
Dylan Welch, Kyle Taylor and Rebecca Trigger
Thu, 13 Dec 2018 06:01 UTC
Oshkosh Joint Light Tactical Vehicle fitted with an EOS R400 with a 30mm cannon and 7.62mm machine gun.The Australian Government has approved the export of dozens of shipments of military items to Middle Eastern countries embroiled in the bloody Yemen war, a conflict dogged by accusations of war crimes and indiscriminate civilian killings.
Internal Defence Department documents obtained under Freedom of Information (FOI) and from parliamentary hearings reveal since the beginning of 2016, Canberra has granted at least 37 export permits for military-related items to the United Arab Emirates, and 20 to Saudi Arabia.
They are the two countries leading a coalition fighting a war against Houthi rebels in the Middle East’s poorest nation, Yemen.
The four-year war in Yemen has killed tens of thousands and an air-and-sea embargo has led to more than 85,000 Yemeni children under five dying from hunger, according to one children’s agency.
Australia’s burgeoning exports to the UAE and Saudi Arabia may be connected to a plan announced by then-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in January to drastically increase defence sales over the next decade.
Australia will spend $200 million between now and 2028 in order to make Australia the 10th-largest arms exporter in the world. It is currently the 20th largest.
The strategy states the Middle East is a “priority market” for defence exports.
Documents reveal scale of Australia’s weapons sales
© ABC News: Kyle Taylor
Kellie Tranter is a New South Wales lawyer and human rights activist.The Government has tried to keep details of the exports secret, but New South Wales lawyer and human rights activist Kellie Tranter has spent a year trying to shed light on the sales.
“I have a child under five and it was difficult not to be moved by the images coming through from Yemen. [With] a baby on the way I felt compelled to find out what if any role our country had to play in that suffering,” Ms Tranter said.
Ms Tranter has tracked the rise of exports to the Middle East via a series of Defence FOI requests.
© Reuters: Naif Rahma
A doctor treats children injured in an air strike in Saada Yemen. It was Ms Tranter’s work that uncovered the scale of the export certificates to the UAE and Saudi.
Export permits are needed before companies or the Government can ship military or dual-use items overseas, though sometimes a company receives an export permit and does not ultimately export the item.
Ms Tranter said the permits were evidence Australia is trying to increase sales to countries involved in the Yemen war.
“We’re actually engaging with the very players that are potentially involved in nefarious activities in Yemen,” she said.
“You’re talking about war crimes, mounting evidence of war crimes.”
The heavily redacted FOI documents do not show which Australian companies are receiving the permits, who their international customers are, or even what items they are planning to export.
“Not even members of the Opposition who have been trying to extract this information from the Government are permitted to know,” Ms Tranter said.
In August this year the United Nations released a report accusing the Saudi-led coalition of a series of human rights abuses, including indiscriminate air strikes and UAE-run secret prisons using torture and murder.
The report also called on the international community to halt weapons sales to the coalition.
Former Australian MP Melissa Parke is one of the authors of the report. She said governments that are members of the UN should be careful when considering the issue of military exports.
© ABC News
Melissa Parke is a former Labor MP who served on a United Nations panel of experts which last year submitted an excoriating report on the behaviour of the UAE and Saudi Arabia in the war in Yemen.”Member states assisting parties to the conflict will want to ensure that they are not aiding and abetting war crimes,” Ms Parke said.
“And that they are not violating obligations they may have under treaties such as the arms trade treaty.”
Australia is signatory to the international Arms Trade Treaty, which entered into force on December 24, 2014.
Eyes on Canberra-backed weapons deal
Questions are being asked about an Australian defence company’s recent export deal to supply high-powered weapons systems, which according to sources may be bound for the UAE.
Electro Optic Systems, better known as EOS, is an Australian defence and space technology company with ambitions to become the world leader in next-generation remote weapons systems.
The systems are a collection of sensors, cameras and lasers set around a small cannon or heavy machine gun. They are built onto a swivelling mount that can be affixed to the roof of a military truck or the deck of a naval vessel.
It allows a soldier to fire while safely inside a vehicle and can acquire targets up to several kilometres away on its own.
In January, EOS announced a $410 million deal to supply weapons systems.
Two people have told the ABC the end user is the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
EOS can’t ‘confirm or deny’ weapons systems customers
EOS’s system, known as RWS, is already being used by the Australian military.
In January, the firm announced it had struck a deal to export its latest version, the R400S-Mk2, to an overseas customer.
When asked about the deal, EOS said in a statement it could not “confirm or deny” that the UAE was either the overseas customer or the end-user.
“Disclosure of the end-user[‘s] identity could degrade the impact of the technology, and would not be in the national interest,” an EOS statement released when they announced the deal said.
Comment: God forbid something degrade the potential murder-rate of your technology.
EOS declined an interview with the ABC but said in a series of statements its weapons system was “amongst the most highly regulated products in the defence market”.
The firm declared it did not “presently” hold Australian Government export licenses that would allow them to export military equipment to the UAE.
It had “no reason to believe that UAE would not presently qualify as a recipient for export licenses from any country, including the US and Australia”, the company also said.
EOS said none of their items were in Yemen and they do not play any role – direct or indirect – in the Yemen conflict.
The full statement provided to the ABC by EOS is available below.
Australian defence economics analyst Marcus Hellyer told the ABC a $410 million deal was “extremely large by Australian standards”.
Mr Hellyer said the value of the EOS deal represented more than a quarter of all exports licensed by Defence in the last financial year.
Australian Government bankrolls EOS
The Australian Government has also helped support the deal, touted as a “major expansion of defence industry capability” by EOS, which has a market capitalisation of $200 million.
The company’s own financial records show the Government’s export credit agency, EFIC (Export Finance and Insurance Corporation), provided it more than $33 million this year in performance bonds connected to the RWS.
By comparison, this year Australia has contributed $23 million in humanitarian assistance to Yemen.
It also appears Defence Minister Christopher Pyne played an important role in securing the deal while he was defence industry minister, according to a January statement released by EOS announcing the $410 million deal.
“Christopher Pyne MP has visited foreign capitals with me to provide assurance of Australia as a reliable defence partner and supplier to its allies,” the statement said.
“This effort and support is acknowledged.”
‘Rigorous’ assessment of defence export deals
Mr Pyne said in a statement Australia weighed all military export applications on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with export control provisions.
“These provisions reflect our international obligations, including the Arms Trade Treaty, and include an assessment against the legislative criteria of international obligations, human rights, national security, regional security and foreign policy,” the Minister said.
“This assessment includes consideration of whether there is an overriding risk that the exported items could be used to commit or facilitate a serious violation of international humanitarian law or human rights law.”
The Department of Defence said in a statement Australia was not involved in the Yemen conflict.
Comment: Not directly, maybe.
The statement said the department did not release details of individual export applications or permits due to commercial-in-confidence considerations.
It said the Australian Government continued to make representations on the importance of unhindered humanitarian access to Yemen.
Australia’s recent involvement in the UAE
Christopher Pyne travels to UAE. Meets with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and Defence Minister Mohammed Al Bowardi.
December 17-18, 2016
Christopher Pyne travels to Saudi Arabia. Meets with Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah in Riyadh (head of the National Guard).
February 18-19, 2017
Christopher Pyne travels to UAE. Meets with UAE Armed Forces chief of staff in Abu Dhabi and Minister of State for Defence Affairs of UAE, Mohammed Al Bowardi.
Then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull visits UAE for call with Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
October 29, 2017
Christopher Pyne travels to Saudi Arabia to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other Saudi senior defence officials to discuss opportunities for defence industry cooperation and advocate for Australian defence exports.
January 29, 2018
Then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull launches Defence Export Strategy, which includes creation of Australian Defence Export Office. ADEO is a focal point for all defence exports and manages all government-to-government sales.
At the same time a $3.8 billion fund, administered by the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC), is established. Called the Defence Export Facility, it will provide finance to Australian defence companies wanting to sell overseas.
The Government also pledges $20 million a year to implement the strategy.
January 30, 2018
Then-minister for defence industry Christopher Pyne opens Electro Optic Systems’ (EOS) new production facility in Canberra and announces EOS’s $410 million defence contract, but not who the end user is.
May 9, 2018
Christopher Pyne meets with UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in Canberra.
September 26-27, 2018
Christopher Pyne travels to the UAE and Afghanistan.
Full statement from EOS to the ABC 10/12/18
- EOS does not manufacture weapons. We produce technology to allow existing weapons to be applied more accurately and effectively. EOS products are high-end systems designed to allow our forces to engage numerically superior enemy forces by using EOS technology to fight under high manoeuver with precision engagement.
- EOS companies in the USA and Australia are involved in production, so all military sales require an export license from both USA and AUS, making EOS products amongst the most highly-regulated products in the defence market. EOS relies on extremely strong export license and anti-corruption processes operating in both the USA and Australia. Those processes, formulated and updated over decades by democratic governments in like-minded states, align EOS policy with national security and national values.
- Less than 10% of all countries today could qualify for access to EOS defence products. Our customer list is even shorter than this. EOS only sells to countries which are: a. In a formal alliance with Australia or the US; or b. Are fighting, or have fought, alongside Australian or US forces. Exceptions can be made by the two licensing countries on a case-by-case basis. No exceptions have been granted in recent years. The international sale restrictions listed above apply to the sale referenced in the EOS announcement in January 2018.
- Over 90% of EOS defence activity in Australia is for export of items that are used by the ADF. Foreign sales significantly reduce the cost of development, acquisition and support for Australia for defence technology. This is the principal reason why Australian industry participates in international sales.
- EOS does not identify customers without their approval and even our ability to comment where we are not engaged can be limited by a desire to not help strategic competitors of Australia or the USA collect intelligence on allied deployments. Occasionally a customer will seek publicity on a contract with EOS, where the acquisition may have a deterrent effect and reduce the possibility of conflict.
- EOS equipment has no role in Yemen. EOS has not delivered any defence equipment to UAE, and no equipment produced by EOS has been deployed to Yemen by any other recipient of EOS defence items. EOS is not presently the recipient of export licenses which would allow EOS to export Defence equipment to UAE. However EOS has no reason to believe that UAE would not presently qualify as a recipient for export licenses from any country, including the US and Australia.
Comment: See also:
- Pentagon accounting ‘error’: US taxpayer foots fuel bill for Saudi jets pounding Yemen
- US wants Saudi-led war on Yemen to continue, aiming at ‘combating’ Iran
- Red Cross: Humanitarians can’t fix Yemen without a political solution to armed conflict
- An anti-war shift or Riyadh regime change? Analysts question motive for US Senate’s Yemen resolution
- 5 Republican senators, voting against the Yemen war resolution, received funding from Saudi lobbyists
- US Senate: Proposal to stop backing Saudi Arabia in Yemen advances to floor vote
- Media Shields American Public From The Truth: USA is Working With Al Qaeda in Yemen
Wed, 12 Dec 2018 13:59 UTC
Top British researcher Mark Curtis, interviewed on RT UK’s Going Underground (because the British media isn’t allowed to interview him) In a rare and damning interview, historian and UK foreign policy analyst Mark Curtis asserted that the British state has been complicit or responsible for the deaths of around 10 million people since World War II. The interview spans across various cases of post-war British foreign policy, from Libya to Vietnam and from Yemen to Indonesia. And it’s definitely not the kind of analysis you’ll find on the BBC.
The establishment media as a propaganda tool
To many people, the figure of 10 milliondeaths might appear outrageous, or at the very least bloated. But if it’s true, at least British foreign policy has been consistently well-intentioned, right? Well, not quite – even if that basically sums up the range of acceptable debate on UK foreign policy. Because when evidence of the devastation of British intervention becomes unavoidable, the debate almost always shifts to its allegedly benevolent goals.
In this context, is it any wonder that, as a 2014 YouGov poll showed, “by three to one, British people think the British Empire is something to be proud of rather than ashamed of”? This is less the fault of the British public than its establishment media, which seems wilfully blind on issues that shame the British state. And no area of British politics should shame the state more than its record on foreign policy.
This propaganda by omission continues today. Because Britain is complicit in exacerbating two of the world’s biggest humanitarian catastrophes, in Yemen and Palestine. When the establishment media mentions these conflicts, Britain’s role remains near-comprehensively absent. As such, the myth of Britain as a benign or positive global power becomes self-reproducing.
“The call has never come” from the BBC
According to Australian journalist John Pilger in the foreword to Curtis’s Web of Deceit, “I know of no other historian who has mined British foreign policy files as devastatingly” as Curtis. And in the words of MP Caroline Lucas, Curtis:
relentlessly peels away layers of deception until, with the aid of painstaking research and analysis of declassified files, he lays bare in graphic detail a shocking exposé of British aggression and double-standards.
But that’s apparently not welcome at the BBC. As Curtis tweeted after the interview:
He also wrote:
The ‘state broadcaster’
In October, Channel 4 journalist Michael Crick tweeted:
Crick, perhaps unknowingly, surmised the very nature of the BBC: the ‘state broadcaster’.
When it comes to reporting on foreign policy, the truth is often a matter of life and death. And if the establishment media continues to deny analysts like Curtis a platform, the only choice remaining – in order to share important information with the population – is to find new platforms.
- Christopher Steele disclosed made up nonsense from his trash dossier to longtime Clinton crony, court documents reveal
- Vatican’s third in line Cardinal George Pell convicted for sexually abusing choir boys
- Tale of two uprisings: Ukraine’s Maidan got McCain and cookies while French Yellow Vests met with icy silence from Washington
The Free Thought Project
Wed, 12 Dec 2018 12:20 UTC
A grassroots movement made up of citizens who have become fed up with the political establishment in France has been growing since early November and it has come to a head this month. The movement, known as “gilets jaunes” or “yellow vests” began as an anti-tax protest but has since merged folks from the left and the right into a much broader anti-government movement. The movement has become so large that political experts are now calling it a “new revolution.”
French citizens have used the yellow vests that their government requires they carry in their vehicles as a symbol of this protest. As the Guardianpoints out,unlike previous French protest movements, it sprang up online through petitions and was organised by ordinary working people posting videos on social media, without a set leader, trade union or political party behind it.
The protest was so successful that last week, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced a six-month suspension of the fuel tax which triggered the unrest.
The people flexed their power and the people won-on this single issue. However, the people of France have long been exploited by their corrupt rulers and this has caused the rise of populism.Populist movements reject the left/right paradigm and don’t adhere to any strict political ideologies that tow left or right lines.
Because populist movements reject the left/right paradigm, they are far stronger as they bring in people from all over the spectrum. It also makes them quite rare and what we are witnessing with the yellow vest movement is approaching historical levels of populism.
As philosopher and political analyst Aleksandr Gelyevich Dugin explains:
First of all, the fact that populist movements are directed against the political elite as a whole, without making a distinction, whether it is right or left-wing, is striking. This is the ‘uprising of the periphery of society against its center’. In his famous work, the American sociologist Christopher Lasch (1932-1994) designated the form of government that prevails in modern Western society as the “elite revolution”.
When referencing the ‘Elite Revolution’, Dugin explains how those at the top of the power structure tend to control this power through their immense will to rule. The result of the elite revolution is far more destructive to culture and society than a revolution of the masses because in the name of diversity, elites from all groups seek this power and use it to oppress their own. ‘Do as your group leaders tell you to do, or you are part of the problem.’
Accordingly, populism – including the populism of the “yellow vests” – can be viewed as a retaliatory uprising of the people against the elites, who have completely lost their connection with society. The elites have built their own world in which double standards, norms of political correctness, liberal demagogy reign.
According to these “new elites”, the people and society, in their current state, have no place in this world. Therefore, the typical representative of the “new elite”, Hillary Clinton, upset by the success of the right-wing populist Trump, openly insulted ordinary Americans – as deplorables, which in meaning means “shameful.” “Deplorables” have chosen Trump – not because they loved him, but to respond to the “globalist witch” Clinton.
Macron is a representative of the same type of “new elite”. It is curious that on the eve of the elections the French newspaper ‘Libération’ published the headline ‘Faites ce que vous voulez, mais votez Macron ‘ (“Do what you want, but vote for Macron”). This is an obvious paraphrase of Aleister Crowley, who proclaimed himself in the 20th century as the Antichrist and the Beast 666: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law”. In other words, obedient crowds should vote for Macron not for some rational reasons, not because of his ideas and virtues, but simply because this is the imperative law of the ruling elite. And the disregard of the elites towards the obedient, slain masses is so open that they do not even bother to seduce them with impracticable promises: “Vote for Macron, because this is an order and this is not discussed.” Vote and then you are free. Otherwise you are deplorables. And that’s all.
Do not misinterpret the above text as an endorsement of Trump or any ideology for that matter as it is not. It is merely used to point out how populist movements expand as more and more people get excluded from the establishment and censored, shamed, and ridiculed into a corner for not toeing the line of their oppressor class.
Now, we are witnessing the inevitable result of pushing people into a corner by controlling everything they can and can’t say and taxing them into oblivion while doing it. Although the yellow vests began in France, we are now seeing reports of similar protests sparking up in other countries as well.
Demonstrations have spread like wildfire from France into Belgium and the Netherlands as hundreds of yellow vested protesters are met by riot police.
As the Timesreports:
Amid the tensions, police personnel were forced to use water cannons and pepper spray in a bid to disperse the demonstrators. Protestors gathered in Arts-Loi in Brussels and staged a massive walkout towards Schuman Roundabout, home to a number of European Union offices and towards the European Parliament, but were stopped by the security forces.
During the clashes, the agitators blocked arterial roads, threw stun grenades and damaged traffic signals and the environment. Over 100 people have been detained by the police so far. They have demanded Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel to step down from his post.
In the cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam in the Netherlands, protestors staged a peaceful demonstration in various parts, singing and handing flowers to the passers-by and asking them to participate in the agitation, according to local media reports. Security has been heightened in both the countries as more protests are planned in the coming days.
TFTP has also seen groups planning yellow vest protests in the United States. Message boards, such as 4chan, have announced protests on December 15th at 12:00 p.m. in Massachusetts, New York, and California.
So long as these movements remain peaceful, we have already seen the power they wield. The yellow vests are reminding the world who has the real power, and the world would do well to listen.
Comment: Also see: Will Macron’s Yellow Vest Implosion Spread to Other EU Countries?
MASS GRAVES WITH HUNDREDS FOUND BY SYRIAN SECURITY IN DZ S
‘Issaam Al-Buwaydhaani, a/k/a Abu Hammaam Al-Buwaydhaani, (from Douma)
is seen here studying the 12-year old catamites he has been gifted by
the Qataris. This Salafist is now on death-row. He is the head of Jaysh Al-Islaam,
having been elected to that post after the Syrian Air Force turned his
predecessor into infected hamburger meat in 2015, to wit: Zahraann ‘Alloosh. (Photo: Getty images)
(Photo: BBC) This is Abu Muhammad Al-Jawlaani, whose real name I will address shortly. Needless to say, this murdering villain, this noisome rodent, is responsible for so many deaths it should come as no surprise that he is on the new list of criminals sentenced to die at the hands of the Syrian State.
DAMASCUS: A Syrian Criminal Court announced yesterday the sentence of death in absentia for over 70 individuals accused of terrorist-inspired murder. Among the condemned are leaders of major terrorist groups funded by the Gulf states and the West. What this really means is that the Syrian Army can forget about capturing these lice. They have been given a license to kill the terrorists no matter what the protocol might have been beforehand. As the Syrian Army begins its restoration of Idlib to the homeland, it has been given free rein to find these toxic microbes and put them to death by whichever way is most appropriate.
In the case of Abu Muhammad Al-Jawlaani, the chief of Hay`at Tahreer Al-Shaam, the former Jabhat Al-Nusra, the former Al-Qaeda, he has been named by your editor on many occasions as Usaamaa Al-‘Absi Al-Waahidi. The court in Damascus has announced his name as Muhammad Hussayn Al-Shara‘. My information was that his name was Al-Waahidi and that he was born in the town of Al-Shaheel in Dayr El-Zor. I must defer to the courts in Damascus since they would have access to much more information than me. It appears that this rodent is from Der’ah province and not from DZ.
The head of the Noor-Al-Deen Al-Zangi terrorist group, “Al-Shaykh” Tawfeeq Shihaab-Al-Deen, is also on this list of murderers.
With the recent announcement of retirement for hundreds of officers who had completed 5 years of military service, and with the massing of over 150,000 troops around Idlib, and this judicial sentence of death, you can feel the war coming to an end.
NASEEB CROSSING AREA: Syrian security services and SAA Engineering Corps uncovered yet another warehouse filled with weapons here a few kilometers from the recently opened crossing between Jordan and Syria, about 12 kms due southeast of the provincial capital. Thanks to King ‘Abdullah II, the terrorists who held this important lifeline were able to receive millions of dollars in weapons and medicine via ‘Aqaba, courtesy of Saudi Arabia, the United States, Qatar and the awkward central command center outside ‘Ammaan (MOK).
NAWAA: This once-sleepy town just West of Der’ah was being swept for IEDs and mines when, lo and behold, 2 separate warehouses were uncovered containing an amazing number of Zionist and Western-manufactured weapons including LAO rockets (19, 22, 27, 82 mms), RPGs, Malotka rockets, military grade TNT and a whole host of other malignant instruments of death.
Kataa’ib Al-‘Izza, who receive their orders from Abu Muhammad Al-Jawlaani, once again, initiated suicidal probing operations directed at the SAA positioned at Zilleen. They came out of the lice-infested rural area of Al-Lataamina and managed to fall into another trap set by the SAA. This time their every movement was being monitored by drones and they could hardly claim the element of surprise. 4 rodents were confirmed killed with others scurrying back to whence they came.
But that debacle wasn’t enough, for they attacked the SAA from Shalyoot in the environs of Maharda, a largely Christian town, which, like Suqaylbiyya, has a long history of providing some of the best special forces recruits in modern Syrian military history. The SAA was at Zakaat Village. The rodents were shocked when the Syrian Army mounted a sudden counterattack with light weapons backed by heavy cannon fire which targeted their route of withdrawal. And, boy, didn’t they withdraw! Their entire encampment and fortifications were pulverized.
Then, in an act which could define a “glutton for punishment” specimen, they attacked the SAA base at Al-Hammaamaat and Baryadeej. The army spotted them easily and wiped out the entire nest of rodents. According to Wael, none of the attackers survived.
DAYR EL-ZOR AT AL-BU-KAMAAL:
AL-BU-KAMAAL: Needless to say, the Western media will not report this, because it makes the Syrian state look good, the Syrian army’s Engineering Corps uncovered a network of 7 cemeteries used by ISIS to bury the cadavers of citizens whom they tortured and murdered. The 7 cemeteries contained hundreds of bodies with clear signs on them of torture. The Syrian Red Cross is there to help in removing the corpses which have been there so long that they have stopped being infectious. Most cannot be identified because their documents were seized and because the deterioration was so extensive.
ZAHRAAN ‘ALLOOSH DISMEMBERED BY SYRIAN AIR FORCE MISSILE AND SYRIAN PERSPECTIVE; SUCCESSOR MAY HAVE BEEN KILLED IN OPERATION BY SYRIAN MILITARY
December 26th, 2015
FIRST POST – JULY 23, 2013 – TERRORIST ON TELEVISION EXPOSES SAUDI ARABIAN CRIMINAL ACTS; STATE TV IN SYRIA BLOWS THE LID OFF ARABIAN MONKEY REGIME; SYRPER MOURNS DEATH OF GREAT SYRIAN COMMANDER
July 23rd, 2013
December 4th, 2012
About The Author
Attorney for 35 years and Supreme Court Certified Interpreter for Arabic/English Diploma with Honors from Ann Arbor Pioneer High School in 1968; B.A. University of Michigan in Ann Arbor 1968-1972; M.A. University of Michigan Dept. of Near Eastern Studies 1972-1974; Ph.D. Cand. Univ. of Michigan 1972-1977; Then went to law school. Credits: Harvard University for classes in Islamic Philosophy; Fellowships from University of Pennsylvania 1976; 2 from Univ. of Michigan. Read English, Arabic, German, French, Farsi, some Hebrew. Studied Ancient Greek and Latin before grad school. Michigan Supreme Court Certified Interpreter/Translator for Arabic and English
Published time: 11 Dec, 2018 12:52 Edited time: 11 Dec, 2018 13:02 Get short URL
Hypersonic Technology Vehicle HTV-2 reentry (artist’s impression) © DARPA Falcon Project
In response to US plans to pull out of the INF Treaty and the active development of its hypersonic technology, Russia is building a network of radar stations best suited to detect missile launches from afar.
Russia is seeking to install Container-type over-the-horizon (OTH) radar stations along its borders. The move will substantially boost Moscow’s capabilities to monitor airspace and detect missile launches, particularly in case of hypersonic projectiles.
Looking beyond the horizon
An OTH radar employs completely different technology, compared with conventional radar installations that only provide “line-of-sight” coverage limited to a range of dozens or hundreds of kilometers at best. OTH systems rely on radio waves bouncing off the ionosphere, Earth’s top layer that is heavily ionized by space rays. Radio beams of a specific frequency projected by an OTH transmitting antenna get bounced down high up in the sky and on their way back to the ground can be reflected back by aircraft, ships or missiles. The return signal then travels back to the receiving antennas, again, via the ionosphere. This technique extends coverage to thousands of kilometers.
Russian researchers had to develop new equipment and processing algorithms to compensate for the interference caused by Sun’s radiation in the ionosphere. It takes sophisticated mathematical algorithms to isolate relevant targets and, and more so to determine their velocity and direction based on the Doppler shift.
The idea of using radio waves reflected off the ionosphere to detect over-the-horizon targets was originally floated back in the 1940s, but it took some time to quash initial doubts that background noise would be too strong to track faraway objects. Research in this area resumed in the Soviet Union in 1958, after scientists proved that aircraft could be detected at a range of up to 3,000km on a single-hop propagation and ballistic missile launches can be detected at a range of up to 6,000km on a two-hop propagation.
VHF radar “Voronezh”, Leningrad Region © Sputnik / Alexander Yuriev
The Duga experiment
The experimental N-17 Duga-I OTH radar was deployed near the city of Nikolayev in the 1960s. Although it failed to fully meet the expectations of the military, the installation served as a proof-of-concept, showing that it was possible to detect a relatively weak signal amid a much more intensive background clutter. The system was also configured to automatically adapt to changes in the reflective properties of the ionosphere and to filter out strong sources of noise radiation.
The combat-worthy 5N32 Duga was ready to enter service in 1971. The first radar was deployed in Ukraine, with the receiving antenna placed 10km away from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, and the transmitting antenna located near the town of Lubech in Chernigov Region. The second was installed in the Far East, near the town of Bolshoi Kartel outside of Komsomolsk-on-Amur.
They managed to detect American space rockets launched at Cape Canaveral. Following multiple upgrades, the Duga was able to provide consistent detection of Space Shuttle launches and Titan ballistic missiles from Cape Kennedy – 7,000-9,000km away. Nevertheless, all attempts to detect Minuteman missile launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base via the polar section of the ionosphere were in vain.
Despite the success, the Soviet OTH program had to give way to the space-based ballistic missile launch early warning technology. Some influential military specialists who were involved in the OTH research were skeptical about its merits. But the Duga project still yielded many practical achievements that were later used in the development of the next-generation OTH systems. Also on rt.com Nuclear war: Hypothetical scenario & Russia’s strike options
The space component of the ICBM launch early-warning system is pretty good at detecting launches from US soil. But it is not capable of getting the coordinates for targets. In the early 1990s, over-the-horizon radar technology became relevant again, but there was no point in replicating the gigantic antennas after the fall of the Soviet Union. So, Russian engineers began developing the next generation of OTH radar. Due to budgetary constraints, most of the work was done in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
The Container (29B6) 2-coordinate OTH radar was created by the Scientific and Research Institute for Long-Distance Radio Communication (NIIDAR). The equipment can be stored in transport containers and delivered anywhere, reducing the need for on-site construction work.
The radar section of the system includes two antennas – the transmitter and the receiver. Each is provided with its own control area and a personnel housing unit. The control equipment includes antenna-feeder systems, communications and other hardware. The receiver antenna array consists of over 140 antenna masts, each 34m high (about the height of a 10-story building). The station detects and tracks all aerodynamic targets, including small planes, within a 240 degree arc.
The 29B6 OTH radar was reported as deployed for trials near the town of Kovylkino in Mordovia in December 2013. This is where the receiving antennas and main processing equipment were located. The transmitting antennas were located outside Gorodets in Nizhny Oblast.
This was the first OTH radar capable of monitoring airspace up to a range of over 3,000km. Its coverage included airspace over Poland, Germany, and the Baltics all the way to Turkey, Syria, and Israel.
Unlike the Duga, the Container’s signal is reflected by the ionosphere only once, allowing for more accurate target detection. This allows it to track even small planes over Western Europe. The station can detect a mass launch towards Russia of cruise missiles, deployments of aircraft and hypersonic cruise missiles, when they are ready. Also on rt.com Russia’s Su-57 may get ‘Kinzhal-like’ hypersonic missile for internal bay – report
Upgrading the watchful eye
By 2018, the Container system was significantly improved. In early December, the Ministry of Defense announced that upgraded OTH radar is now on trial duty in Russia’s Mordovia region. In six months, it is expected to be fully operational and enter regular service.
Basically, the same location was used for the deployment of a new OTH radar station that is far superior to the old Container (29B6). The new station has a larger detection zone. Now it is capable of discovering aerodynamic targets in a 240-degre arc, compared to 180 degrees for the old system. The computing systems and tracking stability have been improved significantly.
The new Container radar is capable of detecting and tracking over 5,000 air targets simultaneously. It can also track a small plane right on the runway, or detect launch and track the warhead of short or intermediate range ballistic missiles, which have smaller radar cross-sections than their intercontinental cousins.
There is one more important thing. When hypersonic aircraft and short- and intermediate-range missile warheads fly at high altitudes, an ionization signature forms around them in the form of a compression wave in front and an ionization wake behind. This makes them easier to detect by OTH radar already trained to analyze the state of the ionosphere. Also on rt.com Lasers & space weapons? How US might try to counter invincible Russian & Chinese hypersonic missiles
Russia’s eastern over-the-horizon monitoring hub is supposed to be built in the next two years. A location to deploy the Container radar has already been scouted and chosen in the town of Zeya, Amur Oblast. The military is already producing the necessary equipment.
This new Container radar station will monitor the Pacific region from Kamchatka to New Zealand and China. It will cover the airspace down to just above water, which will enhance our capabilities to detect missiles destroyers and aircraft carrier strike groups.
In the nearest future, a number of Container-type OTH radar stations are expected to be deployed in the Russian Far East, Central Siberia, and in Kaliningrad in the Baltic region. The Russian military believes that 10 to 12 Container-type OTH radar stations will be enough to cover the entire airspace outside of the borders of Russia.
The OTH coverage will complement traditional radar stations of the upgraded Voronezh type, which serve as part of Russia’s ICBM launch early warning system. And last but not least, there are the Podsolnukh coastal OTH radars. Podsolnukh is surface-wave radar capable of detecting naval targets up to 300km away and air targets up to 450km away, as long as they fly over the water. They too are an important part of the country’s defense capabilities.
ByMikhail Khodarenok, military commentator for Gazeta.ru
Khodarenok is a retired colonel. He graduated from the Minsk Higher
Engineering School of Anti-Aircraft Missile Defense (1976) and the
Command Academy of the Air Defense Forces (1986).
Commanding officer of the S-75 AA missile battalion (1980-1983).
Deputy commanding officer of a SAM regiment (1986-1988).
Senior officer at the High Command of the Air Defense Forces (1988–1992).
Officer at the main operational directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces(1992–2000).
Graduated from the Military Academy of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (1998).
Worked as an analyst at Nezavisimaya Gazeta (2000-2003) and editor-in-chief of Voyenno-Promyshlennyi Kuriyer (2010-2015).
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.