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UN - The US inability to admit reality - by Thierry Meyssan

Decidedly, very little has changed since 11 September 2001. The United States continue to manipulate international public opinion and the tools of the United Nations, no doubt for different reasons, but still with the same contempt for the truth.

In 2001, the representatives of the United States and the United Kingdom, John Negroponte and Stewart Eldon, assured that their two countries had just attacked Afghanistan in legitimate defence after the attacks committed in New York and Washington.

The Secretary of State, Colin Powell, promised to hand the Security Council a complete dossier presenting proof of Afghan responsibility. 16 years later, this document has still not been seen.

n 2003, the same Colin Powell came to explain to the Security Council, during a speech which was relayed by the televisions of the whole world, that Iraq was also implicated in the attacks of 11 September, and that it was preparing new acts of aggression against the United States by means of weapons of mass destruction.

 However, once he had retired from his functions in the US government, General Powell admitted on a TV channel in his own country that the many accusations in his speech were all false [3]. 14 years after this speech, we are still waiting for the United States to apologise to the Security Council.

US methods after 2001 were totally different from any that had preceded them. In 1991, President Bush the Father had made certain that he had international law on his side before he attacked Iraq, having pushed President Saddam Hussein to invade Kuwait and to dig in. He had thus obtained the support of almost all the nations in the world. On the contrary, in 2003, Bush the Son settled for lying and then lying some more. Many States distanced themselves from Washington, and we saw the greatest pacifist demonstrations in History, from Paris to Sydney, from Beijing to Mexico.

In 2012, the UN Department of Political Affairs drew up a project for the total and unconditional surrender of Syria [4]. Its director, US citizen Jeffrey Feltman, ex-Under-Secretary of State for Hillary Clinton, used all the means at his disposal to create the greatest coalition in History and accuse Syria of all manner of crimes, none of which were ever proven.

If the States which possess the Feltman document have decided not to publish it, their intention is simply to preserve the United Nations. It is indeed inacceptable that the might and means of the UNO were used to promote war, when the institution was created in order to preserve peace. Since I am not held to the same obligations as a State, I have published a detailed study of this ignoble document in “Right Before Our Eyes”
In 2017, the UNO-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism, created at the request of Syria in order to investigate the use of chemical weapons on its territory, became the object of the same struggle which had earlier opposed Hans Blix to Washington. Except that this time, the fronts were reversed. In 2003, the UNO was defending peace. This is no longer the case, since Jeffrey Feltman was reappointed and is still the number 2 of the UNO. This time it’s Russia which is opposing the pro-US international civil servants in the name of the Charter.

For the complete report click here At the UN - US inability to admit reality, by Thierry Meyssan

The Netherlands: Trump Fan, Opportunist, Rightwing, Dutch Populist Politician Wilders says: "Russia is 'no enemy', ahead of Moscow visit - by Peter Teffer

Opportunist and Populist Dutch Politician Geert Wilders
Russia is "not an enemy" to the Netherlands, Dutch anti-EU politician Geert Wilders said in an interview published on Wednesday (22 November), ahead of a visit to Moscow in the New Year.

The far-right opposition MP, who leads the second-largest party in the lower house of the Dutch parliament, said there was "hysterical Russophobia" to which he wanted to provide a counter-narrative.

"Russia is not our enemy, and we should not make it one," he told Dutch weekly magazine Elsevier. "Russia is on our side."

Wilders said it was understandable that Russia feels threatened by the expansion of the northern Atlantic alliance Nato.

"I'm a big fan of Nato and of the Americans, but Russia has a good point here," he said.

The interview comes ahead of a visit early next year of Wilders to Moscow, which has been behind several attempts to undermine the EU and is under sanctions because of the invasion of Crimea and support for insurgents in Ukraine.


Germany's Schulz under pressure to enter coalition talks- by Eszter Zalan

Pressure is increasing on Martin Schulz, leader of the German Social Democrats (SPD) to end the political stalemate in Germany and enter coalition talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats.

The SPD leader will meet the country's president Frank-Walter Steinmeier, himself hailing from the SPD, on Thursday (23 November).

Steinmeier has been meeting party leaders following the collapse of coalition talks on Sunday between Merkel's political bloc, the pro-business Free Democrats and the Greens.

Merkel said she would prefer snap elections than leading a minority government following the Free Democrats walkout from coalition talks on Sunday night.

Schulz, who ran against Merkel in the general elections, first ruled out re-entering a grand-coalition with Merkel's CDU/CSU that left the SPD with its worst election result since the second world war.

 Read more: Germany's Schulz under pressure to enter coalition tal


Insurance Industry: Top insurance industry issues in 2017

Ongoing changes in technology, demography, and consumer needs and expectations continue to disrupt the insurance industry. Combined with recent regulatory and financial reporting developments, these changes are putting severe strain on traditional business models.

Many insurers are responding by reimagining their internal operations and business strategies, but the pace of change outside the industry has been relentless and even proactive companies are struggling to remain on the cutting edge.

Top Insurance Industry Issues in 2017 focuses on changing business and operating models and the key developments that are causing and being influenced by this change.

Read more: Top insurance industry issues in 2017: PwC

Christian Persecution: Here are the 10 Worst Countries for Christian Persecution According to a UK Report - by Amanda Casanova

The U.K. All Party Parliamentary Group has released a report listing 10 of the worst countries for religious freedom.

The report, “Article 18: From Rhetoric to Reality,” found that the countries had violated Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which protects religious liberty.

The countries in the report were:
  • Eritrea
  • Egypt
  • U.K.
  • Russia
  • Saudia Arabia
  • Iran
  • China
  • Vietnam
  • Myanmar
  • Bangladesh
The report said that nearly 80 percent of the world’s population lives in countries with “high” or “very high” levels of restrictions on religious freedoms.

Offenses against Article 18 can include both direct government denial and state failures to protect the right to religious liberty.

Read more: Worst Countries for Christian Persecution According to a UK Report - Christian News Headlines

Turkey authorizes the construction of a church

Turkey has authorized the construction of an Assyrian church in Istanbul. This will be the first construction of a place for Christian worship since the fall of Ottoman Empire at the end of the First World War.

Turkish law prohibits the construction of churches even though the country provides shelter to several Christian patriarchs.

However, several years ago, a derogation was granted to re-establish liturgic celebration in an old Church.

Turkish law has also applied in the Northern part of Cyprus, since Turkish occupation in 1974. Deceitfully, official tourist leaflets present Christian places of worship, now derelict, as “castles”.

By way of comparison, since President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan came to power, more than 9 000 mosques have been built in Turkey.

The nuncio (Pope’s ambassador) appointed to Ankara by the Pope is not registered as Monseigneur Paul Russell, but as His Excellency, Ambassador Paul Russell.

Read more: Turkey authorizes the construction of a church

International Court of Justice: Ratko Mladic sentenced to life in prison for Srebrenica genocide,dragged from court over outburst

Bosnian Serb wartime general Ratko Mladic appeared in court the receive the verdict [Peter Dejong/Reuters]
Ratko Mladic gets life sentence for genocide against Muslims
A UN court in The Hague, Netherlands, has convicted former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic of genocide and crimes against humanity and sentenced him to life in prison for atrocities perpetrated during Bosnia's 1992-1995 war.

The court in The Hague convicted Mladic of 10 of 11 counts in a dramatic climax to a groundbreaking effort to seek justice for the wars in the former Yugoslavia.

Presiding Judge Alphons Orie read out the judgment Wednesday after ordering Mladic, dubbed "The Butcher of Bosnia", out of the courtroom over an angry outburst.

Read more: Ratko Mladic sentenced to life in prison for Srebrenica genocide, after he is dragged from court over outburs

The International Court of Justice in the Hague: India's nominee Bhandari re-elected to ICJ after UK pulls out

Bhandari, 70, was declared re-elected for a fresh nine-year term at the ICJ after Britain withdrew its candidate Christopher Greenwood from the race about an hour before the scheduled voting.

In what was described by India as one of its "biggest diplomatic victories" in the multilateral arena, Bhandari received 183 of the 193 votes in the General Assembly and secured all 15 votes in the Security Council to fill the final vacancy on the Hague-based International Court of Justice after separate but simultaneous elections were held at the UN headquarters here.

Read more: India's nominee Bhandari re-elected to ICJ after UK pulls out 


Presidents of Russia, Turkey and Iran meeting in Sochi Wednesday in an effort to come to common agreement with Assad who is also in Sochi

Erdogan and Putin in Sochi talking about Syria with President of Iran
The presidents of Russia, Turkey and Iran are meeting in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Wednesday for talks focused on war-ravaged Syria. The Kremlin has already said that the point of Syrian President Bashar Assad's surprise visit to Sochi on Monday was to get him to agree to possible agreements that the three leaders might reach on Wednesday.

Iran and Russia have been Assad's main backers while Turkey supports the opposition.

Pro-government forces over the weekend defeated the Islamic State group in its last major stronghold in Syria, leaving the militants to defend just strips of desert territory in the country and a besieged pocket outside the capital, Damascus

The Russian defense ministry said in a statement Tuesday that the chief of the General Staff of the three countries have met in Sochi and discussed "concrete steps to complete the elimination of the remaining IS and Nusra Front formations" in Syria. The three officials also agreed to improve coordination in a safety zone in the Idlib province in Syria's northwest.

Russia, Turkey and Iran earlier this year brokered truce between the government and the rebels in four areas in Syria including Idlib.


Spain: Democracy À La Carte In Catalonia - by Manuel Serrano

We live in the era of fake news and alternative facts. Fascism has been so debased as a phrase that fascists nowadays are simply those with whom we disagree. They are the others. The bad and the undemocratic. Doesn’t matter if they are actual fascists or not. What matters is that we believe they are. In Catalonia, this distinction has already been made. And Carles Puigdemont is sparing no effort to convince Europeans that he is Democracy´s champion fighting against the heirs of Francoism.

There´s no mandate for independence. Not enough social support. No international recognition. There´s no plan. Just irresponsible politicians promising something they cannot deliver. But who can stop lies from making the headlines? Who will tell citizens that they have been fooled? As Bertolt Brecht said, when the truth is too weak to defend itself, it has to go on the attack. But that has become difficult in a Schrödinger-like Republic of Catalonia: a republic that exists and doesn’t exist at the same time. Where many people demand Democracy but show contempt for democratic norms. Where people demand their right of self-determination but overlook the political rights of those who don’t want to spend their days waving flags. A Republic that is not the next step towards a democratized and better European Union, but a step backward into nationalism and intolerance.

The Spanish state’s actions during the October 1 illegal referendum are inexcusable. Curtailing freedom of expression and freedom of assembly cannot be justified on the grounds of restoring the constitutional order. As Donald Tusk put it, Spain should favour force of argument, not an argument of force. Madrid, however, has done very little to quell unrest in Catalonia. And the judicialization of the crisis has hardly helped. However, it´s worth noting that despite the unacceptable events that unfolded on October 1, several fake news and out of context content spread throughout social media during the day. Made available by secessionists, ultra-nationalists, anti-globalisation groups and pro-Russian communications agencies, these posts gave the false impression that Spain is “just like Turkey”, and that a lot more than three people were seriously injured.

Regardless, the situation is deteriorating. Despite the call for regional elections on December 21, the imposition of direct rule and the detention on of eight members of the Puigdemont cabinet have made a bad situation worse. Article 155 had never been applied before, while the detentions are being described by many as an attack against freedom and democracy. However, we should emphasize that we are not talking about political prisoners: a quick read will tell us that they don’t qualify as such.

They have been detained because they ignored the law, took decisive steps to establish a parallel state and refused to comply with judicial rulings. We can disagree about the nature of the crime, and, certainly, about its punishment. But that doesn´t make them political prisoners: they were not arrested for believing in independence, but for violating the laws they promised to respect.

Puigdemont´s decision to leave the country can only be understood for what it is: an irresponsible choice made by an irresponsible politician. A decision that ended up affecting negatively his cabinet ministers. His claim that he wouldn’t have a fair trial in Spain is unfounded: the judicial power is independent. Despite the unfair coverage of the last weeks, is worth recalling that several politicians from all sides of the political spectrum have been detained for corruption, tax fraud and maladministration in the last decade.

Spain is by no means a perfect democracy. However, it isn’t a dictatorial state either. Comparisons with Francisco Franco´s regime are an insult to those who truly have been persecuted for what they believe in. The EU should monitor respect for fundamental freedoms and the rule of law in every member country, but their attention should also focus on Puigdemont and his government’s actions. It should pay closer attention to the rights of those who don’t need to wave flags to show they belong, those who have been singled out for rejecting the secessionist agenda and those who have been ignored by a Parliament that ought to represent all Catalans.

The EU should not condone the use of violence, but commentators and public intellectuals shouldn’t condone either the actions of individuals that bend the truth whenever it suits their agenda. Of a government that has polarized Catalans and reopened wounds that have been healing for forty years now. Forty-seven percent may be entitled to decide their future. But that doesn’t mean the other fifty-three percent are not entitled to the same fundamental and political rights.

Populists and demagogues’ communication styles are designed to confuse audiences and convince citizens that there are facts that matter, and facts that don’t. As Ken Wilber outlines in his book “Trump and a Post-Truth World”: in a no-truth culture, liars are the most truthful, since the truth becomes whatever you want it to become. Many politicians have realised that the battle for citizens´ hearts and minds is to be won by crafted narratives and Orwellian language.

It´s a fact that most Catalans rejected a unilateral move towards secession. And that most Catalans are not separatists. Why then, do many newspapers and commentators abroad assume that most Catalans want independence? Because the truth has become far less important than the narrative. That´s why it is more important than ever to reject clickbait journalism and easy answers. If we don’t, those speaking the loudest will get to determine which are the facts and values that matter. And those values won’t be pluralism, inclusiveness, and solidarity.

These are turbulent times to be Catalan, Spanish and European. But there´s room for positive strategies and common solutions: the point of departure should be a peaceful negotiation about Catalonia´s place in Spain. However, acknowledging that Constitutions can change doesn’t mean we should dismiss the laws that allow us to live together: mob rule and social media cannot replace democracy. The future of Spain (and Europe) lies in cooperation within federal structures, not in separation. But a negotiated solution will only be possible if Puigdemont and Rajoy understand that the first step towards being a democrat is to behave like one.

Read more: Democracy À La Carte In Catalonia