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Hassan Rouhani Wins Second Term as Iran’s President

By: Peter Korzun

President Hassan Rouhani, 68, won a landslide victory in the presidential election on May 19. More than 40 million Iranians voted on that day. That puts turnout above 70 percent.

The president is the second-most powerful figure within Iran’s political system that oversees a vast state bureaucracy employing more than 2 million people. He is charged with naming Cabinet members and other officials to key posts and plays a significant role in shaping both domestic and foreign policy. The president has important sway over domestic affairs and serves as the face of Iran to the world but is subordinate to the supreme leader chosen by a clerical panel. As supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei remains the ultimate arbiter in the political system, and approves any significant decisions and changes sought by the executive power.

Rouhani has been a stalwart of the Islamic Republic since the Shah regime was overthrown. He has held a number of top positions in the armed forces and was deputy war commander during the eight-year Iran-Iraq conflict, and was secretary of the Supreme National Security Council for 16 years.

The May 19 vote was largely a referendum on the president’s relatively moderate policies, which paved the way for the landmark 2015 nuclear deal that won Iran relief from some sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program. Rouhani will now have a bigger mandate to push through his reforms, to put an end to extremism, to build bridges with the outside world, and to get the economy back on track. He campaigned on the promise of a more open, prosperous and internationally integrated economic model, openly criticizing hardliners and Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard – the message supported Iran’s young and increasingly urban population.

The second term to-do list includes fixing the banking system crippled by bad property loans, expanding the private sector and formalizing human rights and freedom of information.

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Peace Process in Pieces in Myanmar

By: Bertil Lintner

On May 24, when Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi opens the second round of her signature 21st Century Panglong peace conference, a high-stakes initiative to end decades of debilitating and divisive civil war, the outcomes and upshots will be pivotal to her democratically elected administration.

The meeting will aim to draw on the unifying symbolism of the original Panglong conference held by Suu Kyi’s national founder father, Aung San, who signed an agreement with ethnic Shan, Kachin and Chin representatives on February 12, 1947 at the small Shan state market town of Panglong. The agreement paved the way for the declaration of independence from British colonial rule the following year.
Despite the historic parallels and Suu Kyi’s strong political clout, few observers believe the upcoming meeting will meaningfully advance national reconciliation without a significant change in tack. Suu Kyi’s insistence

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WHAT DID EINSTEIN SAY…?

WHAT DID EINSTEIN SAY…?

Donald Trump Puts US on Sunni Muslim Side of Bitter Sectarian War with Shias

Donald Trump Puts US on Sunni Muslim Side of Bitter Sectarian War with Shias
By: Patrick Cockburn

US President’s speech gives a green-light to authoritarian regimes in the Middle East to carry on torturing and oppressing minorities.

It was crude stuff. President Trump called on 55 Muslim leaders assembled in Riyadh to drive out terrorism from their countries. He identified Iran as a despotic state and came near to calling for regime change, though Iran held a presidential election generally regarded as fair only two days previously.

He denounced Hezbollah and lined up the US squarely on the side of the Sunni against the Shia in the sectarian proxy war that is tearing apart the Middle East.

The impact of US presidential visits and speeches abroad are generally over-rated and turn out to have far less influence than was claimed at the time.

Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo in 2009 about the conflicts in the region was more sophisticated than anything Mr Trump said in Riyadh, but it turned out to denote no new departures in US policy. The same may turn out to be true of Mr Trump’s address.

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Saudis Win Hearts by Lining Pockets

By: Jonathan Marshall

Families of the victims and survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks have asked the Department of Justice to open “an immediate national security investigation” into a “massive Saudi-funded foreign agent offensive” to “delude Congress” into “shield[ing] the Kingdom from any inquiry into the involvement of its agents in supporting the September 11th attacks.”

The complaint marks what is perhaps the most frontal public assault on Saudi influence peddling in Washington since 1981, when pro-Israel critics blasted Riyadh’s successful campaign to win congressional approval for its controversial purchase of AWACS surveillance planes.

The families’ complaint targets Saudi Arabia’s lavishly funded attempts to water down the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA). Passed into law last fall, against opposition from the Obama administration, the act gives Americans the right to sue foreign governments that provide “material support” to terrorist groups.

The complaint asserts that after the law passed, “the Kingdom went on a foreign agent spending spree, hiring . . . more than 100 foreign agents to work on its behalf to wage an assault on JASTA.

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Former FBI Director Mueller Appointed Special Counsel Of Russia Probe

By: Zero Hedge

Mueller, 72, was appointed FBI Director by President George W. Bush in 2001 and served until 2013, when Comey took over. The DOJ has confirmed he will resign from his private law firm to avoid any conflicts of interest. In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, as the U.S. was ramping up security, he joined then-Deputy Attorney General Comey in threatening to resign if the White House overruled a Justice Department opinion that domestic wiretapping without a warrant was unconstitutional.

Mueller is rumored to be bringing along Jim Quarles, who worked on Watergate, and Aaron Zebley, his (and Comey’s) former Chief of Staff at the FBI.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions previously recused himself from any involvement in the Russia investigation due to is role as a prominent campaign adviser and surrogate.

Mueller’s appointment aims to quell the wave of criticism that President Donald Trump and his administration have faced since Trump fired FBI Director James Comey last week in the middle of the FBI’s intensifying investigation into contacts between Trump campaign associates and Russian officials. That criticism swelled on Tuesday evening as excerpts of a memo Comey wrote in February surfaced, in which Comey writes Trump asked him to drop the FBI investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

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Iran Bets Its Future on ‘Reformist’ Rouhani

By: Pepe Escobar

Incumbent has won a landslide victory over ‘conservative’ Raisi, with a high turnout ensuring the country remains open to the world

In the perennial electoral battle between principlists (conservatives) and reformists, Iranian reformists have once again won handsomely.

Iran’s President Hasan Rouhani was reelected in a landslide on Saturday – with at least 56.88 percent of the votes according to the latest count at time of publishing and a projected vote share of 20 million votes (he got 18.6 million in 2013).

In the end, as predicted, it was all about turnout; over 70% in the main cities, with around 78% in Qom – the religious heart of Shi’ism. A low turnout would have benefitted hardliners and their reliable... Read More


Getting Assange: the Untold Story

Getting Assange: the Untold Story
By: John Pilger

Julian Assange has been vindicated because the Swedish case against him was corrupt. The prosecutor, Marianne Ny, obstructed justice and should be prosecuted. Her obsession with Assange not only embarrassed her colleagues and the judiciary but exposed the Swedish state’s collusion with the United States in its crimes of war and “rendition”.

Had Assange not sought refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, he would have been on his way to the kind of American torture pit Chelsea Manning had to endure.

This prospect was obscured by the grim farce played out in Sweden.  “It’s a laughing stock,” said James Catlin, one of Assange’s Australian lawyers. “It is as if they make it up as they go along”.

It may have seemed that way, but there was always... Read More



WHERE IS ALL THE US GOLD?

SINGAPORE: ANY US GOLD LEFT?
By: Bullion Star

Highlights
The United States official gold reserves are owned by the US Government and held in the name of the US Treasury, but in the custody of the US Mint, which is a branch of the US Treasury.
The US Treasury has, since 1973, valued its gold reserves at a statutory price of $42.2222 per ounce. At this book value, the Treasury’s claimed gold reserves are valued at approximately $11 billion. At a market value, the claimed US gold reserves would be worth about $350 billion.
In 2011, gold bar weight lists for all US gold reserves were published as part of a US House of Representatives committee hearing into oversight of the US gold holdings. However, nothing in the list is verifiable since the US gold holdings have never been independently physically audited.
The US Treasury claims to hold 95% of its gold at the US Mint facilities in Fort Knox, West Point and Denver. Two of these facilities, Fort Knox and West Point, are adjacent US military facilities. The US Mint in Denver is not. It’s located on a city block.
The audit history of the US Treasury’s gold holdings since the 1970s is an opaque subject and difficult to decipher. The US Treasury and US Mint are not transparent on the topic and appear to have lost many of the historic audit reports.

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CUBANS MOURN FIDEL’S PASSING

THE LAST WORLD LEADER?
By: Stephen Lendman

Yet his larger than life persona, extraordinary revolutionary spirit and redoubtable anti-imperial resolve for so long made losing him hard to imagine he’s gone.

Around midnight on Friday, Raul Castro announced it on national television. Granma, the official newspaper of the ruling Communist Party of Cuba, published his statement, saying:

“Dear people of Cuba:

With deep pain I appear to inform our people, the friends of our America and the world, that today November 25, 2016, at 10.29 p.m., the Commander in Chief of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, died.

In compliance with the expressed will of Comrade Fidel, his remains will be cremated.

In the early hours of Saturday 26, the Organizing Committee of the funeral will provide our people with detailed information on the organization of the posthumous tribute that will be taxed to the founder of the Cuban Revolution.

Hasta la victoria siempre (Ever onward to victory)!”

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WILL DUTERTE’S WAR ON DRUGS SUCCEED?

THE PHILLIPINES: KILLING THE PROBLEM?!
By: Bernie V. Lopez

Duterte is right in saying that, ultimately, shabu will destroy the very fabric of Philippine society from the grassroots (small time users-pushers) to the apex (drug lords and their cooperators, the police, military, local government). About half of heinous crimes can be attributed to shabu. Duterte is right in saying that neutralizing addicts will dramatically bring down the crime rate. Can we contain or reverse the drug menace? This depends on the extent of the ‘drug kingdom’ and our political will.

First, the war on drugs has a moral dilemma, which ultimately may boomerang. It cannot morally justify judicial killings, which the Church and human rights advocates condemn. There is thus a moral price to pay for an effective war on drugs.

The reported more than 4 million shabu users nationwide is conservative. There may be more. Before Duterte’s war on drugs, the shabu trade was reaching its climax without the knowledge of former President Noynoy. The drug lords from China, largest source of shabu, invaded the Philippines, largest shabu market in Asia. This was a drug lord’s paradise – no death penalty, a large expanding market, complete protection and cooperation from the police, mayors, generals. It was a huge industry of trillions of pesos per year going haywire. No one was stopping the irresistible force.

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SOUTH AMERICA HAS DIFFERING VIEWS OF TRUMP-None are good.

ARGENTINA REMEMBERS-Do You?
By: Jerry Nelson

As the world recovers from the shock of Donald Trump’s surprise victory in America’s 2016 election, global political experts are wondering what is in store for Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

One region not discussed is South America. The natural resources on the third largest continent, combined with established relationships with Russia, China, and Iran, could make South America the next major source of conflict for the USA.

Typically when someone moves into the neighborhood, they want to get to know the neighbors. Everyone will, hopefully, get off to a good start. There may be problems down the road, but a good first step is always nice.

Too bad America’s neighbors don’t like the new kid moving in.

America is “going to be a friend” to the rest of the world said Donald Trump in his first foreign policy speech.

South America isn’t sure that’s the case. While Trump’s election surprised many people in America, it’s come as a shock to the rest of the world. Since Trump announced his intention to run for president, South American nations have taken a humorous and critical look at this candidacy.

Quoting Trump, “We were laughed at all over the world as we have been many, many times.”

America has the strongest and most robust economy in the world. American decisions regarding business and trade affect global markets.

Whoever leads America essentially leads the world in many ways. This is why the rest of the world breathes a collective sigh of relief when Americans choose a president who is diplomatic, tolerant and practical.

Donald Trump is none of those things.

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OF HACKTIVISTS, HACKERS AND LEAKERS

BRINGING POWER TO THE PEOPLE!
By: Brett Redmayne-Titley

In a world of slanted journalism that pervades not only main stream media offerings but also the majority of “progressive” and “alternative” media, it is the hackers and leakers of vital information that are now providing a new and desperately needed return to real journalism. Recent examples of courage and risk in pursuit of full disclosure which counters media distortions of fact, must be followed. Hackers and leakers are- as shown this month- providing the public service mandate once enveloped within the vaunted parchment of the First Amendment- an obligation far too long forgotten.

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A WHIFF OF METHANE AND THE ODOR OF CORRUPTION

By: Brett Redmayne-Titley

“Oh! Sure. Twice, just last week,” answered Porter Ranch resident Jim Baker to the question about whether the smell of methane gas was reaching his home.

Residents across the affluent north Los Angeles suburb of Porter Ranch report the same smell. Not good: methane gas is poison. On day one of an on-scene look at the world’s largest natural gas leak, which every day spews uncontrolled at extremely high pressure the equivalent greenhouse gas pollution of 4.5 million cars, another distinct smell is becoming obvious: political corruption.

High above Porter Ranch, natural gas well Standard Sesnon 25 (SS-25) has been blowing high-pressure methane gas into the air for months. The exact date that the blow-out began is uncertain since the owner of SS-25, Southern California Gas Company (Cal Gas), reluctantly admitted to the massive pipe rupture on October 23, 2015, but only after Porter Ranch residents began complaining of the oily smell and several different sicknesses. Documents show that this admission was at least two months after Cal Gas knew of the massive leak and that Cal Gas knew immediately it was due to their own negligence. Why? In order to save money, they had removed the mandatory “safety valves” from the aging well instead of replacing them as required.

In the first light of dawn, it was finally possible to fully see the expanse of Aliso Canyon. Looking east, the grey power lines arrived uninterrupted at a second stanchion on the other side, almost two miles away. After a very steep ascent to this position, a perfect vantage point was finally reached high-up on this ridge. Before us, a panoramic view of an environmental disaster. To the left, still higher up, on the almost sheer northwest ridge, slowly illuminating under the rising sun, there it was: SS-25.

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SCREAMS IN THE DARK: Any Child They Want.-Part Two

IN THE BUSINESS OF CHILDREN
By: Brett Redmayne-Titley

Part Two:

Down the road in San Diego County a young boy is missing, taken by a man who is not the father, not even a parent. Innocent mother Tammy Rief, who is from Alabama and has never lived in California, now sits in a California prison. Despite a Georgia court order keeping the kidnapper away from her child, and another court order giving Tammy, the mother, full custody, a California judge abused his court to steal her son, Jonah, from his home in Georgia and give him to a man documented to have abused her son.

Without Tammy Rief’s knowledge Judge Gregory W. Pollack was working in far away California with the kidnapper, Brian Sullivan, to have the FBI steal her and her son from Georgia.

This short story of injustice and child trafficking, applied to a San Diego Superior Court judge, Gregory W. Pollack, shows the unique, fraudulent and illegal applications of California law in favor of child kidnapping.

For Tammy losing her son, Jonah, started silently in an unknown court not in Georgia. California divorce court.

Tammy has never been married. Much less to anyone in California. Tammy had briefly dated the kidnapper, Brian Sullivan, in South Carolina but had not heard from him in over three years before he suddenly attempted to achieve custody of Jonah in her state of residence, Georgia. Tammy proved to the Georgia court that the kidnapper could not be the biological father and that Jonah was at risk to the kidnapper. Hence the judge issued the two restraining orders establishing full custody to Tammy and preventing the kidnapper anywhere near Jonah.

But, that was Georgia.

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SCREAMS IN THE DARK: From Womb to Tomb.

US CRIMES AGAINST THE INNOCENT!
By: Brett Redmayne-Titley

At a court hearing on June 27, 2014, nine-year-old Lexi Dillon wants to go home to her mother, Ruby. Judge Glenn R. Salter has previously shown his contempt for Lexi’s well-being, child protection laws, required court process, and evidence in the many court hearings and his subsequent illegal rulings. All evidence proved that Ruby was a loving, caring mother; that foster care was abusing her daughter and that the father had repeatedly abused Lexi, as proved by the Tustin, CA Police Department.

This bastard of jurisprudence, Judge Glenn R Salter, refused to allow any of Ruby’s evidence, multiple expert witnesses or police investigators into his court to testify. He then ordered Lexi to be in the sole custody of her criminal father.

The father is the man who raped Lexi. Anally and vaginally.

What?!

CRIMINAL COURTS

The ultimate horror. Corrupt US judges are using their courtrooms to kidnap children from innocent parents. For profit.

Immoral judges serve as vital tools for this disgusting example of limitless American greed and capitalism. Criminal US judges operate with immunity, disregarding laws, eliminating evidence, shattering constitutional protections, and ignoring mandatory courtroom procedures.

They should be in prison.

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Hypocrisy and Condescension

By: Robert Fisk

Trump’s Speech to the Middle East

So after inventing “fake news”, America’s crazed President on Sunday gave the world’s Muslims a fake speech. Donald Trump said he was not in Read More

What Happens Next if Temer Falls?

What Happens Next if Temer Falls?
By: The Dawn

According to the Constitution, indirect elections would be held, but Parliamentarians are demanding “Direct Elections now!”

The denounce made by Joesley Batista and his brother Wesley—owners of the JBS meat processing company—, which was made public last Wednesday (17) on newspaper O Globo, opened up a very real possibility of impeachment or even resignation for putschist President Michel Temer.

In one of the recordings that was released, Temer herd from Joesley that the businessman was paying former deputy Eduardo Cunha and political operator Lúcio Funaro an... Read More

Trump Brings Nothing to Palestinians

By: Omar Karmi

 

Misdirection is the way of magic and conman-ship. Control people’s attention and lead them on a merry dance. Have them hand over their wallets or change your clothes in front of a roomful of people without anyone noticing.

It works just as well in politics. Uncomfortable with the public narrative? Don’t answer the question; Read More

Shadow Brokers Slam NSA-MICROSOFT FOR WANNACRY OUTBREAK

By: Yoichi Shimatsu

Continuing the probe into the Wanna Decryptor outbreak, during which that worm paralyzed nearly a quarter million computers worldwide, this second article retraces the hijacking of the EternalBlue exploit (which is vulnerable to WannCry) from the NSA’s vault of cyber-weapons by the team called the Shadow Breakers, who issued repeated warnings about the flaw in older Microsoft systems

In a recent post, the Shadow Breakers explain that they had issued monthly warnings about the EternalBlue problem starting in February, giving Microsoft sufficient time to create a temporary fix, or... Read More