allegations

FILE PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem
FILE PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem May 19, 2019. Ariel Schalit/Pool via REUTERS

May 25, 2019

TEL AVIV (Reuters) – Thousands of Israelis protested on Saturday against legislative steps that could grant Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immunity from prosecution and limit the power of the country’s Supreme Court.

The demonstration in Tel Aviv was attended by nearly all opposition parties, a rare show of unity for Israel’s splintered political system. Police did not say how many people attended. A Reuters photographer estimated about 20,000 were present, while organizers put the figure at 80,000.

In office for the past decade, Netanyahu won a fifth term in April despite an announcement by Israel’s attorney general in February that he intended to charge him with fraud and bribery. The prime minister is a suspect in three graft cases.

Netanyahu has denied wrongdoing, calling the allegations a political witch-hunt. The right-wing leader has said that with a renewed public mandate to govern he has no plans to resign, even if charged.

Although the prime minister is under no legal obligation to step down if charged, Netanyahu loyalists in his Likud party have pledged to seek parliamentary immunity from prosecution for him while he is in office.

Expecting legal challenges, they also have been advocating legislation that would annul any Supreme Court ruling rescinding immunity.

Since the election, Netanyahu has not said whether he would seek immunity.

On May 13, Netanyahu said on Twitter that his policy had always been to preserve a strong and independent Supreme Court, but that changes were needed in order to restore balance between Israel’s executive, legislative and judiciary branches.

The opposition has described any attempt to shield Netanyahu or put limitations on Israel’s highest court as threats to Israeli democracy.

Yair Lapid, one of the leaders of the main opposition party, the centrist Blue and White, said on Saturday at the demonstration that Netanyahu was trying to crush the Supreme Court in order to keep out of prison. “He’s destroying the country,” Lapid said. “We won’t let him.”

Netanyahu is trying to form a new coalition with right-wing, ultranationalist and religious parties that would give him control of 65 of the 120 seats in parliament, which has already been sworn in.

Most of the parties expected to join his coalition have expressed support for granting immunity to Netanyahu and limiting the powers of the Supreme Court, branded by some rightists as too liberal and interventionist.

However, Netanyahu has only until Wednesday to produce a government and he has not yet secured a deal with any party. Negotiations came to an impasse this week when the factions failed to agree on a new conscription law for Israel’s military.

According to Israeli law, if Netanyahu fails to form a government by May 29 the president can ask another member of the Knesset legislature to try.

No political party has ever won an outright majority in Israel’s Knesset, making coalition governments the norm. Coalition talks have often been protracted with deals signed at the very last minute.

Netanyahu is due to attend a pre-trial hearing over the graft charges with the attorney general, set for October.

(Additional reporting by Rahaf Ruby and Ammar Awad; Writing by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem
FILE PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem May 19, 2019. Ariel Schalit/Pool via REUTERS

May 25, 2019

TEL AVIV (Reuters) – Thousands of Israelis protested on Saturday against legislative steps that could grant Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immunity from prosecution and limit the power of the country’s Supreme Court.

The demonstration in Tel Aviv was attended by nearly all opposition parties, a rare show of unity for Israel’s splintered political system. Police did not say how many people attended. A Reuters photographer estimated about 20,000 were present, while organizers put the figure at 80,000.

In office for the past decade, Netanyahu won a fifth term in April despite an announcement by Israel’s attorney general in February that he intended to charge him with fraud and bribery. The prime minister is a suspect in three graft cases.

Netanyahu has denied wrongdoing, calling the allegations a political witch-hunt. The right-wing leader has said that with a renewed public mandate to govern he has no plans to resign, even if charged.

Although the prime minister is under no legal obligation to step down if charged, Netanyahu loyalists in his Likud party have pledged to seek parliamentary immunity from prosecution for him while he is in office.

Expecting legal challenges, they also have been advocating legislation that would annul any Supreme Court ruling rescinding immunity.

Since the election, Netanyahu has not said whether he would seek immunity.

On May 13, Netanyahu said on Twitter that his policy had always been to preserve a strong and independent Supreme Court, but that changes were needed in order to restore balance between Israel’s executive, legislative and judiciary branches.

The opposition has described any attempt to shield Netanyahu or put limitations on Israel’s highest court as threats to Israeli democracy.

Yair Lapid, one of the leaders of the main opposition party, the centrist Blue and White, said on Saturday at the demonstration that Netanyahu was trying to crush the Supreme Court in order to keep out of prison. “He’s destroying the country,” Lapid said. “We won’t let him.”

Netanyahu is trying to form a new coalition with right-wing, ultranationalist and religious parties that would give him control of 65 of the 120 seats in parliament, which has already been sworn in.

Most of the parties expected to join his coalition have expressed support for granting immunity to Netanyahu and limiting the powers of the Supreme Court, branded by some rightists as too liberal and interventionist.

However, Netanyahu has only until Wednesday to produce a government and he has not yet secured a deal with any party. Negotiations came to an impasse this week when the factions failed to agree on a new conscription law for Israel’s military.

According to Israeli law, if Netanyahu fails to form a government by May 29 the president can ask another member of the Knesset legislature to try.

No political party has ever won an outright majority in Israel’s Knesset, making coalition governments the norm. Coalition talks have often been protracted with deals signed at the very last minute.

Netanyahu is due to attend a pre-trial hearing over the graft charges with the attorney general, set for October.

(Additional reporting by Rahaf Ruby and Ammar Awad; Writing by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

Source: OANN

Supporters of the opposition party attend an anti-government protest in Tirana
Supporters of the opposition party attend an anti-government protest in front of Prime Minister Edi Rama’s office in Tirana, Albania, May 25, 2019. REUTERS/Florion Goga

May 25, 2019

By Benet Koleka

TIRANA (Reuters) – Albanian opposition supporters took to the streets again on Saturday in a mostly peaceful protest, the sixth national one in three months, calling on Prime Minister Edi Rama to step down to pave the way for early elections.

Waving posters and releasing paper lanterns marked “Quit”, some in the crowd of several thousand threw a dozen paint bombs at Rama’s office. Some also hurled firecrackers at riot police near the parliament building.

But there was less unrest than in the last protest two weeks ago, when some demonstrators hurled petrol bombs, firecrackers and paint at the government building and parliament.

Rejecting allegations of fraud at the 2017 elections that gave his Socialist Party victory and him a second term in office, Rama told opposition Democratic Party leader Lulzim Basha he would not resign and urged him in a public letter to settle the crisis with talks.

“He is asking me, asking us to capitulate? Answer to him!” Basha told the crowd, who chanted back in unison: “Rama quit”.

“Pave the way to the political solution,” Basha added.

Hours before the rally, the EU delegation, its member states’ embassies and the United States embassy had urged protesters to demonstrate peacefully.

“We call on all sides to build upon the existing offer for a Dialogue, with the view to finding a way out of the current political situation as a matter of urgency,” the EU office said.

(Reporting by Benet Koleka; Editing by Frances Kerry)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Voters queue to cast their ballots in Malawi's presidential and legislative elections, in Lilongwe
FILE PHOTO: Voters queue to cast their ballots in Malawi’s presidential and legislative elections, in Lilongwe, Malawi, May 21, 2019. Picture taken May 21, 2019. REUTERS/Eldson Chagara

May 25, 2019

By Frank Phiri and Mabvuto Banda

BLANTYRE/LILONGWE, Malawi (Reuters) – Final results of Malawi’s presidential elections will be delayed, the electoral commission (MEC) said on Saturday after the high court ordered a review of the polls following opposition allegations of tampering.

Voters cast ballots for a president, parliament and ward councillors on May 21, with President Peter Mutharika’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) facing stiff competition from the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), which filed the complaints alleging intimidation and tampering by the DPP.

The Malawian High Court ordered the MEC not to release results of the presidential vote until a judicial review of the complaints had been heard and results from 10 districts were verified.

Malawian law says complaints must be resolved within the maximum eight days between polling and the announcement of results. But chairwoman of the MEC Justice Jane Ansah said the results would be delayed until matters cited by the court were resolved.

“Presidential results have been withheld until we resolve the issue of the court injunction which we have received. We are dealing with all complaints,” Ansah told a press briefing.

The MEC has confirmed receiving 147 cases of irregularities, most to do with the use of results sheets which had sections blotted out and altered with correction fluid.

Protests have broken out in Malawi’s administrative capital Lilongwe, an opposition stronghold, prompting police to deploy armored trucks to the area where people were tearing down ruling DDP posters and hurling rocks at government buildings.

President Mutharika, 78, came to power in 2014 and is credited with improving infrastructure and lowering inflation, but has recently faced accusations of corruption and of favoring rural regions where his support is strongest.

(Reporting by Frank Phiri in Blantyre and Mabvuto Banda in Lilongwe; Writing by Mfuneko Toyana; Editing by David Holmes)

Source: OANN

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By Eric Felten, RealClearInvestigations
May 25, 2019

Now that the Russia collusion allegations have evaporated, the long knives are out and the president’s antagonists are watching their backs. They have moved from accusing President Trump of treason to pushing revisionist narratives that try to shift the blame for the debunked probe onto others.

President Trump with Attorney General William Barr: Newly empowered.

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

This effort is expected to accelerate following Trump’s decision Thursday to empower Attorney General William Barr to declassify CIA, Pentagon, and Director of National Intelligence documents as necessary to access “information or intelligence that relates to the attorney general’s review” of the Russia probe.

In other words, he’s gaining the authority needed to investigate the investigators.

CIA sources immediately objected in the New York Times that assets’ lives would be at risk, stunting Langley’s ability to recruit. Perhaps. But the argument is a bit shopworn, raising the question whether intelligence managers are looking to protect their agents and sources, or aiming to protect themselves.

There are a growing number of indicators that the leading players in the 2016 election drama are turning on one another, making a mad dash for the lifeboats to escape being dragged under with the political Titanic that is Christopher Steele and his dossier. These are many of the same people who had been eager to exploit the dossier, that collection of memos paid for by the Clinton campaign and supposedly sourced from Russia. Once treated like the Rosetta stone of collusion, the Steele documents now seem even to Trump antagonists more like the Howard Hughes diaries.

Back when fingers weren’t pointing: FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper in 2014.

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

A “former CIA official” has told Fox News that two of Trump’s most high profile accusers – former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former Director of the CIA John Brennan – didn’t want anything to do with Steele’s opus. It was former FBI Director James Comey, the source said, who was pushing to use the dossier in the official Intelligence Community Assessment, issued in the final days of the Obama administration. Having failed at that, thanks to Clapper and Brennan’s diligence (or so the story goes), Comey went rogue and confronted President-elect Trump with the salacious highlights produced by Steele.

Even the peripheral players are doing their best to shift blame. Former FBI General Counsel James Baker – who is under criminal investigation for leaks –  recently went on the Skullduggery podcast to assert that  he and other bureau officials were “quite worried” that  Comey’s meeting with Trump would look like a page out of J. Edgar Hoover’s playbook – invoking  the legendary FBI director who stockpiled damaging information to blackmail politicians. Would Comey be wrong to interpret Baker’s comments as an offer to testify against his former boss in exchange for a deal on the leaks investigation?

Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch: Case of testimony over “matter.”

AP Photo/Cliff Owen

Comey has no shortage  of adversaries, partly because old rivals he thought he had dispatched — such as former Attorney General Loretta Lynch —  are back in the mix, and he is possibly sensing his vulnerability. It was in June 2017 testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee that Comey tossed Lynch under the proverbial bus. Now it’s clear she’s showing she can climb out from under the motor coach and dust herself off.

In September of 2015, Lynch and Comey were preparing to testify on Capitol Hill and expected to be asked about the Hillary Clinton email probe — code-named the Midyear Exam — which at that point had not been officially acknowledged. “I wanted to know if she [Lynch] would authorize us to confirm we had an investigation,” Comey told lawmakers. “And she said yes, but don’t call it that; call it a ‘matter.’ And I said why would I do that? And [Lynch] said just call it a ‘matter.’” Comey says he reluctantly went along with Lynch’s demand, even though it gave him “a queasy feeling.” He worried “that the attorney general was looking to align the way we talked about our work with the way a political campaign was describing the same activity, which was inaccurate.”

Lynch pushed back against the notion she had twisted Comey’s arm. In April 2018 she told NBC’s Lester Holt that she didn’t remember the meeting the way Comey described it, and that the FBI director had raised no objections.

Comey and Lynch: Seeing things differently.

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

But now that the questions about officials’ behavior regarding the 2016 candidates has become a fraught topic, those officials are taking stronger stands to defend themselves. Comey continues to leave little wiggle room in his portrayal of the conversation with Lynch. In a December 2018 closed-door congressional interview, Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) asked him to confirm “the fact that the attorney general had asked you to refer to this investigation as a matter, correct?”

“That is correct.” Comey said.

Not so, says Lynch. On Dec. 19, 2018, she appeared before a closed-door session of the House Judiciary Committee and the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight. She was being questioned by Republican staff attorney Zach Somers. He asked “whether you ever instructed Director Comey to call the Midyear Exam investigation a matter?” She said his testimony was the first she had any indication “that he had that impression of our conversation.”

That answer was a little ambiguous, so Somers asked Lynch directly: “So you do not believe you ever instructed him to call it a matter?”

“I did not,” said Lynch. “I have never instructed a witness as to what to say specifically. Never have, never will.” Under penalty of lying to Congress, the former AG declared, “I didn’t direct anyone to use specific phraseology.”

Before leaping to the conclusion that Lynch is calling Comey a liar, we need to keep reading the transcript of Lynch’s testimony, which ends up being far less definitive than it first appears. As is so often the case with lawyers’ lawlerly responses, the assertion turns on specific words. Lynch said she didn’t “instruct” or “direct” anyone to use any “specific” language. Instead, she testified, she had told Comey that she personally referred to the Hillary affair as a “matter” or “issue” and “that was the suggestion that I made to him.”

Could it be this is the shape of investigations — sorry, matters — to come? The spectacle of former power players parsing verbs at one another? It may seem a sound defensive strategy now, but it will grow harder to craft phraseology subtle enough to slip out of trouble. Legalistic sparring becomes increasingly difficult as the number of those being put under oath proliferates, and as the number of investigations mount. The game theory concept known as the “Prisoner’s dilemma” is confounding enough when there are two players having to figure out whether to trust one another or sell each other out. Make it multi-person, game theorists point out, and the difficulty for the players grows exponentially.

Making the game even more difficult is how much of the play is being done under cover. When so much of the frenzied blame-shifting is right out in the open, who knows how much whet work with the long knives is going on in the shadows? “If Brennan and Comey and Clapper are doing this publicly,” one Senate staffer says, private-sector dossier-peddlers “[Sidney] Blumenthal, [Cody] Shearer and [Glenn] Simpson are doing it privately.”

There’s no overstating institutional animosities and how likely they are to affect efforts to find out the full story of what happened in the 2016 election. The Department of Justice, the FBI, the State Department and various intelligence agencies are supposed to cooperate, working together to amplify their efforts through coordination. Instead, they often end up at odds, competing for the praise and resources that come with successes and laying off on others the blame that attends mistakes and failures.

“The FBI and DoJ are ruthless to each other, petty to one another,” one congressional staffer marvels.

Peter Strzok: “DoJ are putzes, man,” he texted. “God I hate them.” 

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

FBI investigator Peter Strzok provides a vivid example of the attitudes at play. In texts to his lover, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, he makes declarations such as “I hate DoJ.” Half an hour later he sends another text that includes “And I hate DoJ.” Elsewhere in the texts, the people of “main justice” are called “political dicks” In the same spirit Strzok declares “DoJ are putzes, man.” Later he tells Page, “Don’t trust DoJ” and declares, “God I hate them.” Page describes DoJ as the “no brigade.” She writes, “I just feel like throttling DOJ.”

Connoisseurs of the knife fights between Justice and the bureau keep an eye out not only for what gets reported in the press, but where it gets reported. “The Department of Justice has good relations with, and tends to leak to, the Washington Post,” says a longtime Capitol Hill staffer. “The FBI leaks to the New York Times.”

He points to the competing narratives about then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s supposed offer to wear a wire and record conversations with the president. The story broke in the New York Times last September and portrayed then-Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe as the level-headed professional pushing back against Rosenstein’s fevered fantasies, which included not only the suggestion of secretly recording Trump, but the idea of invoking the 25th Amendment to have him removed from office. “The extreme suggestions show Mr. Rosenstein’s state of mind in the disorienting days that followed Mr. Comey’s dismissal,” the Times wrote. “Mr. Rosenstein appeared conflicted, regretful and emotional, according to people who spoke with him at the time.” In other words, if there were dubious decisions being made by federal law enforcement officials, it wasn’t just Rosenstein’s fault, according to the Times; it was because the deputy AG was losing his marbles.

Conflicting accounts: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, left, and FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe, right, with Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

The Times story was followed shortly thereafter by a Washington Post take on the same events, a version significantly more friendly to Rosenstein. According to “attendees at the meeting,” it was McCabe who was pushing boundaries, advocating an “investigation into the president,” the Post wrote. In this account, “Rosenstein responded [to McCabe] with what one person described as a sarcastic comment along the line of: ‘What do you want to do, Andy, wire the president?’” The Post story attributed to a “Justice Department official who met frequently with both McCabe and Rosenstein” that “in the months that followed, Rosenstein never broached either subject — the 25th Amendment or a possible wiretap involving the president.”  

You don’t have to be a champion contestant on that peculiar Washington game show — “Guess the Source!” — to have a sense of which side of the street was providing what information to which newspaper.

Given the Times’s sources in and around the FBI, there is particular significance when the Times writes a revisionist history of the bureau’s activities involving the 2016 election. At the end of 2017 the paper had done its best to write the dossier out of the creation myth of the Russia investigation. The Times had maintained, in an April 20, 2017 article, that it was Carter Page’s ill-advised commencement speech in Moscow in the summer of 2016 that had sparked the FBI’s concerns the Trump campaign was colluding with Russia. This line came from the dossier, which had alleged that Page had secret meetings with billionaire oligarchs during his Moscow stay. But after the dossier started to be exposed as the partisan document it was, a new reason emerged to justify the launching of a counterintelligence probe into team Trump — that George Papadopoulos had supposedly mentioned, over drinks with an Australian diplomat, that Russia had dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz: With him on the case, leakers are “getting ahead of the story.”

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

That alternate origin story remained largely unchanged until early this month, when the Times rewrote its narrative, clearly with the help of FBI sources. The new narrative included the revelation that the bureau had sent a “government investigator” to London under the false name “Azra Turk.” Her undercover mission was to flirt with Papadopoulos and pump him for information about Trump and the Russians. The Times helpfully (from the FBI’s point of view) portrayed this as evidence of the “level of alarm” investigators had about Trump and Russia. 

The article was a classic example of a fundamental Washington PR technique, that of “getting ahead of the story.” Knowing the Azra Turk business is being looked over by the Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, sources in, or formerly of, the bureau went to friendly reporters and fed them information that could put the events in the least unflattering light possible. Note, however, that the bureau players — who normally wring their hands about the national security damage done by the release of unredacted information — aren’t above leaking details of covert ops if that’s what it takes to soften a blow.

As things unravel further, they’re likely to get nastier. In part that’s because the FBI doesn’t just hate the Department of Justice. If the Page-Strzok texts are any indication, the bureau doesn’t much like the State Department either. “DOJ is a wild pain in the ass,” Strzok texts Page. “Not as bad as State, but still.” Faced with sending some documents about the Hillary email investigation to Foggy Bottom, Page texts, “I’m not giving State an advance warning. F them.” Strzok responds, “And yes, totally. F State. No heads up.”

Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page: “We both hate everyone and everything.”

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

They not only sneered at their colleagues across the street (Justice and the FBI are housed on opposite sides of Pennsylvania Avenue), their feelings toward their bureau co-workers ranged from diffidence to detestation.

Consider the infamous text from Strzok to Page: “Just went to a southern Virginia Wal-Mart,” Strzok wrote. “I could SMELL the Trump support.”

Lost in the noisy outrage over the Trumpy odors insult has been Page’s reply: “Yep, out to lunch with Sally” Moyer, Page texted. “We both hate everyone and everything.”

“Do you hate everyone and everything?” Republican staff attorney Arthur Baker asked Moyer — a unit chief in the FBI’s Office of General Counsel. The question came in an October 2018 closed-door interview with the House Judiciary Committee and the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight.

“Some days,” Moyer deadpanned.

The questioner was nonplussed: “But you don’t hate everyone and everything all the time?”

“Not all the time, no.”

Sally Moyer: A little gallows humor.

Moyer may have been indulging in a little gallows humor, but aggravation with the job and co-workers at the FBI — hate for everyone and everything all the time — seems to be commonplace in the bureau. Page calls various colleagues everything from “an ASTOUNDING douche” to “a petulant baby.”

Given the paramount heights to which both Strzok and Page had risen within the FBI, it’s unlikely they were outliers among the bureau’s management class. Their casual contempt for co-workers and for the departments of Justice and State can’t be attitudes far out of step with those of their seventh-floor colleagues. Sticking it to State and Justice and even (perhaps especially) the fellow down the hall: If that was the culture of the FBI’s leadership when the investigators were riding high and enjoying the power that came from collaborating with State and Justice in the pursuit of a president, just imagine how they are likely to behave toward one another now that they have become the pursued rather than the pursuers.

Even in the best of times, departments and agencies such as Justice, State and the FBI find themselves in back-stabbing bureaucratic battles of all against all. Imagine how those Hobbesian bureaucrats, whether current or former, are likely to behave when the outcomes being fought over have profoundly personal ramifications. One recalls the moment in “It’s a Wonderful Life” when the upstanding George Bailey is sinking in frantic desperation: “Do you realize what this means?!” he shouts at doddering Uncle Billy, who’s lost the bank deposit. “It means bankruptcy and scandal and prison. That’s what it means.” With shocking savagery, Bailey throws the old man down in his chair and declares, “One of us is going to jail, and it’s not going to be me!”  

Related Articles

On Thursday night Fox’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight” featured rare prime time coverage of the bombshell leaked OPCW report which refuted key events surrounding the April 2018 alleged chemical gas attack in Douma, Syria — which resulted in massive US and allied airstrikes on Damascus, nearly leading to a major war at the time. And now new allegations are looming which could once again lead to US airstrikes on Syria. 

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is the international chemical weapons watchdog group which has worked in tandem with the UN to investigation claimed Sarin and chlorine gas attack sites in Syria. The smoking gun document, Tucker said in opening remarks, vindicates his and others’ past skepticism. He said:

“Now a leaked document shows there was good reason to be skeptical.” 

But here we are again — one year later — with yet another chemical attack claim near Idlib on Sunday, which the US State Department says it is investigating, vowing to “respond quickly and appropriately” if Assad is found guilty of using the banned weapons, according to an official statement.

But crucially, as Tucker Carlson pointed out on his show Thursday evening in reference last year’s Douma events, “At the time that happened this program was pretty much the only show on mainstream television to show any skepticism about the official narrative of the attack.”

Introducing a segment with Democratic presidential contender Tulsi Gabbard, a known longtime skeptic on Syrian regime change, Carlson reviewed the prior two American attacks on the Syrian government, noting “Justification for both attacks was an alleged aerial chemical weapons attack on anti-Assad rebels in Douma, Syria.”

Congresswomen Gabbard told the Fox host during the interview that the leaked document presents major reasons to doubt the official narrative concerning both Douma and the most recent claims out of Idlib being advanced by the al-Qaeda groups Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) and the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP). She said she is reaching out to both the UN and OPCW for answers.

Referencing current and past Syria chemical attack claims, Tucker agreed that, “I’m beginning to suspect that we’re being played here.”

The document, whose authenticity the OPCW has confirmed, contends that the official story which was used to justify an air strike by the US, UK and France about poison gas being dropped on civilians from Syrian government helicopters is scientifically implausible, saying “In summary, observations at the scene of the two locations, together with subsequent analysis, suggest that there is a higher probability that both cylinders were manually placed at those two locations rather than being delivered from aircraft.” — Establishment Narrative-Managers Struggling With New Syria Plot Holes

Since the leaked OPCW report surfaced over a week ago there’s predictably been mainstream silence, perhaps with the exception of two major UK outlets, The Independent and The Daily Mail.

Rocket scientist and MIT professor emeritus Theodore Postol has also weighed in to say the new evidence reveals the “attacks were staged”.

Writing for The Independent, world-renowned Middle East war correspondent Robert Fisk summarized the significance of the leaked report. This comes just as once again US war rhetoric against Damascus is looming.

Fisk wrote in his report:

The OPCW officially maintains that these canisters were probably dropped by an aircraft – probably a helicopter, presumably Syrian – over Douma on 7 April 2018. But the dissenting assessment, which the OPCW made no reference to in its published conclusions, finds there is a “higher probability that both cylinders were manually placed at those two locations rather than being delivered from aircraft”.

It is difficult to underestimate the seriousness of this manipulative act by the OPCW. In a response to the conservative author Peter Hitchens, who also writes for the Mail on Sunday – he is of course the brother of the late Christopher Hitchens – the OPCW admits that its so-called technical secretariat “is conducting an internal investigation about the unauthorised [sic] release of the document”.

Importantly, the OPCW has confirmed the authenticity of the report, authored by an expert that had spent most of his career as an on the ground technical investigator since the OPCW’s inception.

The leaked OPCW document can be accessed here.

Though there’s largely been a mainstream media blackout on the leaked document, it’s possible it could slowly trickle into media discourse following Fox’s prime time coverage on Tucker’s show.

Fisk further articulated that the document is a game-changer at the conclusion of his article, saying, “Put bluntly, the paper is suggesting that the location of the cylinders was a set-up, that someone inside Douma immediately after the bombings of 7 April 2018 – and no one, not even the Syrians or Russians, deny there was conventional bombing and shelling that night – placed the cylinders in the locations in which they were subsequently examined by the OPCW.”

With the potential for a new round of attacks by US forces against Assad based on fresh chemical attack claims out of Idlib, we wonder, did President Trump catch Tucker’s show on Thursday night?

Source: InfoWars

FILE PHOTO: Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif sits for an interview with Reuters in New York
FILE PHOTO: Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif sits for an interview with Reuters in New York, New York, U.S. April 24, 2019. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

May 25, 2019

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Saturday that the U.S. decision to deploy more troops to the Middle East in response to the perceived threat from Iran was “extremely dangerous” for peace.

The United States said it was sending 1,500 troops to region in what it called an effort to bolster defenses against Tehran, and it accused Iran’s Revolutionary Guards of direct responsibility for attacks on tankers this month.

“The Americans have made such allegations to justify their hostile policies and to raise tensions in the Persian Gulf,” Zarif told state news agency IRNA.

“Increased U.S. presence in our region is extremely dangerous and it threatens international peace and security, and this should be addressed,” he said.

U.S. President Donald Trump also invoked the threat from Iran to declare a national security-related emergency that would clear the sale of billions of dollars’ worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other countries without congressional approval.

It follows decisions to speed up the deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group as well as to send bombers and additional Patriot missiles to the Middle East.

Separately, a Revolutionary Guards commander said the security of the Strait of Hormuz, an oil shipping route, was linked to Iran being able to export its oil, the semi-official news agency Fars reported.

“Major General Gholamali Rashid said that talking about security and stability in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz is not possible without considering the interests of the Iranian nation, including the export of oil,” Fars said.

Iran has threatened to disrupt oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz if the United States tries to strangle Tehran’s economy by halting its oil exports through increased sanctions.

Separately, an Iranian military official said Iran could sink U.S. warships in the Gulf, while another said it was unlikely for a war to start in the region.

“America…is sending two warships to the region. If they commit the slightest stupidity, we will send these ships to the bottom of the sea along with their crew and planes using two missiles or two new secret weapons,” General Morteza Qorbani, an adviser to Iran’s military command, told the Mizan news agency.

Western experts say Iran often exaggerates its weapons capabilities, although there are concerns about its missile program and particularly its long-range ballistic missiles.

“We believe rational Americans and their experienced commanders will not let their radical elements lead them into a situation from which it would be very difficult to get out, and that is why they will not enter a war,” Brigadier General Hassan Seifi, an assistant to Iran’s army chief, told Mehr news agency.

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Sam Holmes and Angus MacSwan)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan delivers a speech at the opening ceremony for the second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing
FILE PHOTO: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan delivers a speech at the opening ceremony for the second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China, April 26, 2019. REUTERS/Florence Lo/File Photo

May 25, 2019

By Drazen Jorgic

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan warned against the risk of conflict in the region, following a visit to Islamabad by Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif as tensions between Washington and Tehran escalated.

Strains have increased between Iran and the United States, which is a firm backer of Tehran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia, in the wake of this month’s attack on oil tankers in the Gulf region that Washington has blamed on Iran.

Tehran has distanced itself from the bombings, but the United States has sent a aircraft carrier and an extra 1,500 troops to the Gulf, sparking concerns about the risks of conflict in a volatile region.

Khan, who has been seeking to improve Pakistan’s strained relations with neighbor Iran, said he was concerned about the “rising tensions in the Gulf”, but did not specifically name the United States or Saudi Arabia.

“He underscored that war was not a solution to any problem,” Khan’s office said in a statement late on Friday, citing the premier.

“Further escalation in tensions in the already volatile region was not in anyone’s interest. All sides needed to exercise maximum restraint in the current situation.”

Washington has been seeking to increasingly tighten sanctions against Iran, as relations continue to worsen under President Donald Trump.

At the end of the two-day visit to Pakistan, Zarif told Iranian state-run newswire IRNA that U.S. allegations against Tehran were increasing tensions.

“These actions are also a threat to global peace and stability,” he said.

Earlier this month, four tankers, including two belonging to Saudi Arabia, were bombed near the United Arab Emirates’ Fujairah emirate, one of the world’s largest bunkering hubs, located just outside the Strait of Hormuz.

Washington has accused Iran’s Revolutionary Guards of carrying out the attacks, and the Trump administration has declared a national security-related emergency that would clear the sale of billions of dollars’ worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other countries, bypassing congressional approval.

Pakistan’s relations with Iran have also been strained in recent months, with both sides accusing each other of not doing enough to stamp out militants allegedly sheltering across the border.

(Reporting by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Sam Holmes)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan delivers a speech at the opening ceremony for the second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing
FILE PHOTO: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan delivers a speech at the opening ceremony for the second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China, April 26, 2019. REUTERS/Florence Lo/File Photo

May 25, 2019

By Drazen Jorgic

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan warned against the risk of conflict in the region, following a visit to Islamabad by Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif as tensions between Washington and Tehran escalated.

Strains have increased between Iran and the United States, which is a firm backer of Tehran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia, in the wake of this month’s attack on oil tankers in the Gulf region that Washington has blamed on Iran.

Tehran has distanced itself from the bombings, but the United States has sent a aircraft carrier and an extra 1,500 troops to the Gulf, sparking concerns about the risks of conflict in a volatile region.

Khan, who has been seeking to improve Pakistan’s strained relations with neighbor Iran, said he was concerned about the “rising tensions in the Gulf”, but did not specifically name the United States or Saudi Arabia.

“He underscored that war was not a solution to any problem,” Khan’s office said in a statement late on Friday, citing the premier.

“Further escalation in tensions in the already volatile region was not in anyone’s interest. All sides needed to exercise maximum restraint in the current situation.”

Washington has been seeking to increasingly tighten sanctions against Iran, as relations continue to worsen under President Donald Trump.

At the end of the two-day visit to Pakistan, Zarif told Iranian state-run newswire IRNA that U.S. allegations against Tehran were increasing tensions.

“These actions are also a threat to global peace and stability,” he said.

Earlier this month, four tankers, including two belonging to Saudi Arabia, were bombed near the United Arab Emirates’ Fujairah emirate, one of the world’s largest bunkering hubs, located just outside the Strait of Hormuz.

Washington has accused Iran’s Revolutionary Guards of carrying out the attacks, and the Trump administration has declared a national security-related emergency that would clear the sale of billions of dollars’ worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other countries, bypassing congressional approval.

Pakistan’s relations with Iran have also been strained in recent months, with both sides accusing each other of not doing enough to stamp out militants allegedly sheltering across the border.

(Reporting by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Sam Holmes)

Source: OANN

Soccer: U.S. Women's National Team World Cup Media Day
May 24, 2019; New York, NY, USA; The U.S. Women’s National Team tale a photo with USWNT Foosball table during the U.S. Women’s National Team World Cup media day at Twitter NYC. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

May 24, 2019

By Amy Tennery

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Few of the 24 women’s World Cup teams arriving in France for next month’s tournament will bear the weight of expectation quite like reigning champions the United States.

The three-times winners will be aiming not only to retain the trophy they won in 2015 but also build on their legacy as soccer’s dominant women’s team and further cement their role as leaders in the fight for gender equality.

In March, they sued the U.S. Soccer Federation with allegations of gender discrimination with all 28 members of the squad named as plaintiffs in federal court.

But if the pressure on the squad in the build-up to the World Cup is beginning to grate on the players at all, 36-year-old co-captain Carli Lloyd is not showing it.

“Physically, this is the fittest I’ve ever felt, sharpest I’ve ever felt,” 36-year-old midfielder Lloyd said at a media event on Friday. “I feel at ease, I feel calm, I feel hungry, I feel motivated and I just feel excited.”

Lloyd, along with striker Alex Morgan, 29, and attacking midfielder Megan Rapinoe, 33, are among the veterans critical not only on the pitch but off it, as the U.S. bring new faces to the World Cup stage, said head coach Jill Ellis.

“It falls on those players to share their experiences, make sure there’s a push when there needs to be a push and make sure there’s an arm around the shoulder when that’s needed as well,” said Ellis, who oversaw the World Cup triumph four years ago.

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The trio of co-captains bring a welcome dose of stability to the team, which failed to medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“When you look at 2016, we had a lot (of the) players that we have now but those are players that barely had 10 caps on the team up to that point. Now I think (the team) is a little more experienced,” said Morgan, who was in the 2011 and 2015 squads.

“I understand that when you look at literal terms yes we’re defending champions, but I don’t feel like going into this tournament we’re looking at defending anything because this is four years we’re talking about. There’s so many things that can change.”

Defender Becky Sauerbrunn, another stalwart at 33, said the current U.S. team was full of younger players, alongside the more experienced squad members, and they would all be looking to make their own history at the tournament in France.

“This team is (a) new identity. It’s revamped, it’s got a very young, energetic, majority to it,” said Sauerbrunn. “It’s a new team, we’re going to try to create our own legacy.”

Much is expected of 21-year-old forward Mallory Pugh, while 26-year-old defender Crystal Dunn has plenty to prove, having been the last player cut from the 2015 World Cup squad.

The Americans are overwhelming favorites to top their World Cup group, having been handed a favorable draw that includes long-term rivals Sweden alongside Chile and Thailand, who the U.S. will play in their first match on June 11.

“All of us are solely focused on the first game against Thailand and, you know, in a major tournament like this, you can’t get too far ahead of yourself,” said Lloyd, who scored a hat-trick in the first 16 minutes of the final four years ago.

“It’s just kind of weathering the storm. Winning, whether that’s pretty, ugly – just finding a way to win.”

The World Cup kicks off on June 7 when hosts France face South Korea at the Parc des Princes in Paris.

(Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Ken Ferris)

Source: OANN


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