Britain has blood on its hands in Libya, not the time for Johnson jokes – political activist

Britain has blood on its hands in Libya, not the time for Johnson jokes - political activist
In many ways, what Boris Johnson is doing is very much like Donald Trump. He is saying outrageous things, grabbing the limelight to himself, political activist and social justice campaigner George Barda told RT.

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson suggested Libya could become the next Dubai, but it has to clear away the “dead bodies” first. The comment was made at a Conservative Party Conference fringe event this week, prompting fresh calls for him to be sacked.

Johnson was also accused of being remarkably undiplomatic after a video emerged of him reciting a colonial poemon his visit to Myanmar earlier this year.

RT spoke to political activist and social justice campaigner George Barda to discuss these latest statements by the UK foreign secretary.

RT: What do you make of this latest statement by the foreign secretary?

George Barda: We need to understand people like Boris Johnson… in this particular type of environment where they were taught to see, as Britain has for hundreds of years, in fact, international politics as this ‘great game,’ as it used to be referred to in imperial times. It just seems to me extraordinary that, especially in the context of a place where Britain clearly has blood on its hands in terms of yet another attempt at regime change that ended in bloodshed, to be able to make what was meant to be a joke, this was a punch line in an optimistic speech about Libya.

The very fact that what he was talking about is British businesses coming and turning Sirte into Dubai has huge questions in terms of what many people have called ‘disaster capitalism,’ where the powers-that-be economically in the world are better and better exploiting catastrophe to come in with foreign money and take over beaches and all sorts of other things.

Leaving that aside, it just seems to me incredible that he can have such callous disregard for other human lives. But then if you look at global foreign policy as it has been for hundreds of years and continues to be today, not just in this country, any serious place in the world has a great tendency to see the lives of others as less significant than the lives of their own.

It would be unthinkable if Boris Johnson had referred to the scene of the bombing in Manchester, for instance, that happened in the UK, and said, “Once we clear the dead bodies, then we will be able to be back to business.”

This comment about the ‘Road to Mandalay’, which is a quote from Rudyard Kipling, who was an absolute celebrator of imperialism. I think it goes to the heart of a conversation which is very live in the UK at the moment: Boris Johnson on the one hand and Jeremy Corbyn on the other, representing two very different futures in the UK. One in which we take responsibility with Jeremy Corbyn for our imperial past and for recent aggression which are still causing bloodshed and horror. Or we go with Boris Johnson and decide on recreating some kind of post-imperial state after Brexit. And I think that is a fantasy in many ways and certainly a very dangerous fantasy for the UK and for the world.

RT: What reaction do you expect?

GB: In many ways, what he is doing is very much like what Trump is doing. He is saying outrageous things, grabbing the limelight back to himself over and over again. He is maybe taking a leaf out of that book. Many commentators in the UK think he is basically trying to get himself fired from Theresa May’s government so he can then be a sort of Brexit martyr, a kind of magnet for the kind of hard-right Brexiteers that very much don’t want what the Chancellor Philip Hammond and many others in the Conservative party want from Brexit, namely a very close relationship moving forward. What Boris Johnson and his lot in finance and the Tory backers want is this kind of offshore tax haven where, because we have been thrown out of Europe, we have to slash taxes and attract investment, provide flexible working conditions, which means actually far worse working conditions where we trash our welfare state and the NHS.
I hope he goes for this because many people think this is entirely unacceptable in the 21st century, especially when we have blood on our own hands; in this situation, to talk about other lost lives and this horrific situation in this way is mad…

Courtesy: RT

Launching strike on N. Korea possible, but outcome would be uncertain – Putin

Launching strike on N. Korea possible, but outcome would be uncertain – Putin
A global strike to disarm North Korea would be possible, yet its outcome uncertain, as it is a “closed state,” Russian President Vladimir Putin stated.

“Let us speak to the point, after all – can someone launch a global disarming strike? Indeed. Will it reach its targets? It’s unclear because no one knows for sure what is where,” Putin said while addressing the 2017 International Forum on Energy Efficiency on Wednesday.

He added there is no “100 percent knowledge” about North Korea’s objects as it is “a closed country.”

Meanwhile, Putin said, coercive rhetoric against Pyongyang and attempts “to speak from a position of strength” only give more power to the North Korean leadership.

The Russian leader urged all sides to cool down their rhetoric and engage in dialogue.

“All sides must ease rhetoric and find ways for face-to-face dialogue between the United States and North Korea, as well as between North Korea and countries in the region,” he said.

“Only this would help find balanced and reasonable decisions.”

“At any rate, it is not my cup of tea to define and assess policies of the United States president,” Putin added.

The president stated that Russia cannot remain mute to the Korean crisis as it has a border with North Korea.

“We have a shared border and the Korean nuclear testing range lies 200km away from the Russian border,” he added.

As tensions on the Korean Peninsula run high, Moscow and Beijing have consistently called on Washington and Pyongyang to pave the way for direct talks. Earlier, Russia and China suggested a ‘double-freeze’ initiative to cool down the crisis.

According to the joint proposal, the North would cease nuclear tests and missile launches in exchange for the US and South Korea halting joint military drills in the region.

READ MORE: Washington won’t strike N. Korea as it knows Pyongyang has nukes – Lavrov

The US opposed the plan, saying it is “allowed” to conduct exercises with its allies and “that’s just not going to change.”

In fact, the US has just recently signaled that it’s actually not really willing to talk to Pyongyang.

“We’ve been clear that now is not the time to talk,” Sarah Sanders, spokeswoman for the White House told reporters on Tuesday.

“The only conversations that have taken place were that … would be on bringing back Americans who have been detained,” Sanders said.

“Beyond that, there will be no conversations with North Korea at this time.”

Courtesy: RT

ISIS wants to create ‘new global terrorist network’ – Russia’s FSB chief

ISIS wants to create ‘new global terrorist network’ – Russia’s FSB chief
The leftovers of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) could try to form a new terrorist network after its eventual defeat in the Middle East, Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Aleksandr Bortnikov warns.

The terrorists have been “almost defeated while attempting to build their caliphate in Iraq and Syria,” he noted.

Yet, “the leaders of IS and other international terrorist groups have defined their global strategic objective as the creation of a new, worldwide terrorist network,” Bortnikov stated at a meeting of security services and law enforcement agencies from Russia and 73 other countries in the Russian city of Krasnodar.

This expansion can be seen through attacks hitting not only war-torn states, such as Iraq and Syria, but also Spain, Turkey, Russia, Sweden, Finland and the UK, he noted.

The terrorists must “demonstrate to their current and potential future sponsors and sympathisers” that they still have the ability to take further action.

Terrorists have been rapidly losing ground in Iraq and Syria over the past months. Now, Bortnikov noted, “militants are purposefully spread out beyond the Middle East, concentrating in unstable regions with the aim of creating new hotspots of tension and armed conflict.”

The most important of these regions was Afghanistan, Bortnikov explained, where IS has already got a foothold in certain areas and may try to spread its influence into India, China, Iran and Central Asia.

Additionally, other terrorist strongholds are emerging in Yemen, Africa and Southeast Asia.

Bortnikov also revealed that the terrorists pose a threat not only in the real world, but online as well. Besides spreading propaganda and finding new recruits, they are also forming new “cyber-divisions” which can be deployed to attack key infrastructure. This kind of threat, the FSB chief warned, requires worldwide co-operation.

“Considering that many computer attacks are of an international nature, the effectiveness of countering them is largely determined by the organization and co-operation of national security agents reacting to computer incidents,” said the official.

To counter the evolving global threat, the official proposed to “expand practical co-operation in reacting to computer incidents and to consider forming an international legal framework for banning the development of malicious software.”

The respective software may come in the form of malware, spyware, viruses and other programs that can be used to damage or infiltrate computer systems.

Bortnikov’s remarks come after a number of serious global cyberattacks on computer systems.

In May, over 250,000 computer systems from 150 countries around the world, including Russia, the United States, the UK, India, Brazil and Japan, were infected with the WannaCry ransomware. A month later the WannaCry was followed by a similar, but smaller attack using the Petya ransomware, which is said to have affected more than 20,000 people around the world.

Courtesy: RT

Las Vegas police bodycam reveals chaos & terror of Mandalay shooting (VIDEO)

Las Vegas police bodycam reveals chaos & terror of Mandalay shooting (VIDEO)
Police have released chilling bodycam footage from Sunday’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, capturing the sounds of screams and rapid gunfire as authorities responded to the deadliest shooting in US history.

At least 59 people were killed and more than 500 injured when Stephen Paddock opened fire at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival. He shot from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on to the spectators gathered below.

READ MORE: Deadliest US shooting: 58 killed, and 527 injured at Las Vegas music fest

In the bodycam footage, officers urgently order people away from the direction of the gunfire while a series of shots can be heard in the near background.

The footage, shared by Las Vegas Metropolitan police, shows chaotic scenes as officers try to guide people out of harm’s way amid heavy gunfire.

The video was compiled from several body cameras worn by law enforcement at the scene. Police said they are still going through a significant amount of footage from the incident.

During the latest press briefing, Undersheriff Kevin McMahill revealed that the shooting lasted up to 11 minutes and involved more than a dozen volleys of gunfire.

Tuesday evening briefing with Undersheriff McMahill, providing new details on the Oct 1st shooting incident. https://youtu.be/SycnLVj6QaU 

McMahill confirmed that leaked photos circulating on social media purporting to be from inside Paddock’s hotel room and showing the deceased suspect are authentic. The 64-year-old killed himself as authorities entered his room.

An internal investigation has been opened to determine the source of the leaks.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

EXCLUSIVE: these are 2 of 23 guns found in shooter’s hotel room at  – hammer, bipod, optics, ammo. 59 lives. Chilling.

Police also confirmed the presence of cameras in the hotel, set up by the suspect.

Two cameras were located in the hallway to allow the attacker watch as authorities approached the room, while another camera placed inside the room door’s peephole provided a view of the hallway.

Courtesy: RT

Fatah and Hamas: Rival Palestinian groups with unique goals

Fatah and Hamas are trying to establish a unity government after years of pursuing rival paths to a Palestinian state. DW looks at the movements, their goals and what has hindered the two groups from working together.

The Palestinian don masks of President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Ismail Haniya's facesThe Palestinian don masks of President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Ismail Haniya’s faces

The founding of the state of Israel on May 14, 1948 — the day on which the British Mandate over Palestine expired — was the result of several historical narratives: European colonialism in the Middle East, the Zionist movement and, finally, the Nazi regime’s attempt to systemically exterminate the Jewish population in Europe.

The legal basis for Israel’s claim to statehood rests on the Balfour Declaration of 1917 — in which the British Empire declared its support for a Jewish homeland — and the UN General Assembly’s Resolution 181, which in 1947 partitioned the British-ruled Palestine Mandate into a Jewish state, an Arab state and an international trusteeship.

As a result, Palestinians consider the land to be stolen and various political factions have called for a reversal of the establishment of the Israeli state ever since. This situation worsened as Israel expanded its territory by absorbing Palestinian land following 1967’s Six-Day War with the building of several settlements that, according to the UN Security Council, have “no legal validity.”

A Palestinian man in Gaza City commemorates what Palestinians call the Naqba (catastrophe) in reference to the founding of Israel in 1948Gaza City commemorates what Palestinians call Nakba Day (the Day of the Catastrophe) in reference to the founding of Israel in 1948. The keys symbolize homes lost by more than 700,000 people as a result of the UN-mandated partitioning of land

Fatah and Hamas have emerged as the main political forces in the Palestinian liberation movement, both with different goals.

Here’s a look at their origins, their strategies, their goals regarding self-determination and the status of their political partnership.

What is Fatah?

Formed in the late 1950s by Yasser Arafat, the secular party originally sought to establish a Palestinian state through guerrilla warfare. Arafat led the party until his death in 2004. Under his leadership it became the leading force in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), an umbrella group created in 1964 to represent various factions seeking self-determination.

Fatah means “conquest” or “victory” in Arabic and is the reverse acronym of Harakat al-Tahrir al-Filistinya, which translates to Palestinian Liberation Movement.

Read more — Interpol approves Palestinian membership

Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres hold up their Nobel Peace Prize medallions at a ceremoney in Oslo Norway in 1994Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 for their peace efforts in the Middle East

What is Hamas?

The militant organization was founded by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in 1987 with the aid of the Muslim Brotherhood and religious members of the PLO. The nonsecular party rose to prominence in 1993 when it denounced the Oslo Accord, which the Fatah-led PLO signed on to: The agreement formally acknowledged Israel’s right to exist.

Hamas stands for Harakat al-Muqawamah al-Islamiyyah, which translates to Islamic Resistance Movement.

How do their goals differ?

Although the two parties seek Palestinian self-determination, their ideas of how to achieve this goal diverged markedly in the late 1980s.

After waging guerrilla warfare on Israel, Fatah eventually became the chief proponent of peace talks. It has since endorsed a two-state solution with Jerusalem as a shared capital.

A man wearing a green headband with Fatah's symbol, his face covered and wearing bullets around his neck looks beyond the cameraFatah views the establishment of Israel as an illegal act and seeks to reclaim territory it considers stolen from the Palestinian people. It first rejected attacks on Israeli civilians in 2002

Hamas, by contrast, does not recognize Israel’s right to exist. It has called for the destruction of Israel and the establishment of a Palestinian state that would subsume Israel.

Read more — Was the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre avoidable?

Are they terrorist organizations?

Though the movement fought militarily against Israel for several decades, Fatah is not classified as a terrorist organization. However, the US state department does classify the Abu Nidal Organization and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, both of which claim ties to Fatah, terrorist groups.

Hamas is classified as a terrorist organization by the United States, Israel and the EU.

Jordan's King Abdullah and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas talkingJordan’s King Abdullah (left) has been involved in mediating peace talks with Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas was one of the original members of Fatah and became the head of the PLO in 2004 following Arafat’s death

What is the status of their coalition government?

The parties have begun to work in earnest toward a power-sharing agreement that has been stalled for over a decade. Violent clashes flared between the two groups following a landslide victory by Hamas in late 2006 and early 2007, prompting Fatah leader and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to dissolve the tenuous coalition government.

In the years since, Hamas has governed the Gaza Strip and Fatah the West Bank. By 2011, an Egyptian-brokered reconciliation agreement nudged the two sides closer to revisiting a power-sharing agreement.

Fatah and Hamas last attempted to form a sustainable unity cabinet of nonpartisan ministers in 2014.

Read more — ‘Palestinians want reconciliation’ between Fatah and Hamas

A map of Israel and Palestinian territories showing where Israeli settlements have been builtCritics point to Israeli settlements as a major stumbling block in peace efforts. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has pledged to continue settlement expansion

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Brazil bank robbers dig 600-meter tunnel in Sao Paulo

Brazilian police have thwarted the country’s biggest attempted bank robbery. A gang of 16 people allegedly dug a sophisticated 600-meter tunnel equipped with lights.

Brazilian police this week foiled a criminal plot to rob a bank of 1 billion reais ($318 million, €270 million euros) using an enormous secret tunnel.

A team of 16 prospective bank robbers had dug a tunnel nearly 600-meters (2000 feet) long, running from a nearby rental house to a Sao Paulo branch of government-owned Banco do Brazil.

The Sao Paulo state Public Safety Department said on Tuesday the gang had been under surveillance for three months before the tunnel was discovered. The gang allegedly spent about $1.27 million building the tunnel, with the cost split among its participants.

Read more: Military police gain precarious control after Brazil prison chaos

Work on the tunnel began four months ago and the project was impressively equipped.

Police allege the leader of the gang was a 35-year-old woman implicated in an attempted robbery of a security van in Paraguay. The court ruled the group be held in pre-trial detention.

The group dug the tunnel by hand, loading the soil into sacks and carrying it through a fork in the tunnel to an underground storm water drain, El Globo reported.

Long drug tunnel found in US-Mexico border city Tijuana

To enter the tunnel, gang members descended a two meter ladder from one of the rooms in the rented house. The tunnel was about 1.5 meters high and was reinforced with iron beams and wood, and was even wired with lights.

The walls were lined with plastic garbage bags to reduce the dust, the national daily reported.

The house was reportedly filled with food, water, special clothing and digging tools.

Police were probing whether the gang had the assistance of a engineer when building the tunnel, local daily Agora reported.

The tunnel renewed memories of a tunnel robbery 12 years ago when thieves made off with about $70 million.

On that tunnel, diggers worked in shifts from 8 p.m. until 4 a.m., taking a break on weekends, Estadao reported in 2015. Three gang members involved in that attempt were involved in two separate prison escapes using tunnels equipped with ventilation and lighting.

aw/rc (AP, AFP)

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Portrait of a mass killer: The details don’t add up

Andrew Romano

West Coast Correspondent
Yahoo News

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Stephen Paddock (Photo: Facebook)
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As mass shootings have become almost routine in America — at least 1,518 have taken place since 2012’s Sandy Hook massacre, according to the Gun Violence Archive — so too have the details that have typically emerged about the shooters themselves in the hours after these heinous attacks.

He kept to himself, a co-worker will say. (The perpetrator is almost always a “he.”) Didn’t talk much, others will add. Troubled. Angry. Political. Ideological. Bigoted. Even mentally ill. The portrait never matches up in every single one of these respects — but most of the time, it’s fairly close.

The strange and scary thing about multimillionaire real estate investor Stephen Craig Paddock, the 64-year-old Nevada resident who secretly hauled 10 or more rifles to the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas on Sunday before opening fire on concertgoers below, killing at least 59 and injuring more than 520, is that few if any of the details that have surfaced at this point play to type.

A mass killer’s biography usually helps explain his actions, offering hope that the next shooter can somehow be stopped.

But so far, the man behind the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history is too much of an enigma to provide even that coldest of comforts.

“We have no idea how or why this happened,” Paddock’s brother, Eric, told ABC News, adding that there is “exactly no reason for this” and that there are “no secrets in his [brother’s] past.”

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Eric Paddock, left, brother of Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock, speaks to members of the media outside his home in Orlando, Fla. Paddock told the Orlando Sentinel: “We are completely dumbfounded. We can’t understand what happened.” (Photo: John Raoux/AP)
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“As they drill into his life, there will be nothing to be found,” Paddock concluded. “We don’t understand.”

(ISIS released a statement claiming Paddock as a late convert to Islam and a member of the terror group, but as of late Monday, there was no corroboration of the claim. A quick Google search suggests there is no mosque in Mesquite, a city of about 17,000.)

Before Sunday, Stephen Paddock seemed be easing into his older years in relatively unremarkable fashion.

He lived in a new cookie-cutter house in Mesquite, Nev., 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

With the exception of minor citation, now resolved, he had never had a run-in with the law, either in Las Vegas, Mesquite or Texas, where he lived before moving to Nevada.

Paddock was active, being both a licensed hunter and pilot who owned two planes, according to public records.

Police personnel stand outside the home of Stephen Paddock

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Police personnel stand outside the home of Stephen Paddock in Mesquite, Nev., Oct. 2, 2017. (Photo: Mesquite Police via AP)
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To earn his private pilot license, which recently lapsed, Paddock would have had to prove that he hadn’t been diagnosed with psychosis, bipolar disorder or any severe personality disorder.

Paddock wasn’t a loner, either: He had a girlfriend, 62-year-old Marilou Danley, and he had been married before, 27 years ago, to a woman now living in Southern California.

And Paddock did well financially, first as an accountant or auditor (at one point for Lockheed Martin), then buying, selling and managing properties, and finally, in retirement, as a “professional gambler” (his term) who, according to a Washington Post report, would take frequent trips to Las Vegas with Danley to play high-stakes poker.

Neighbors in Florida, where Paddock owned another home, described to the Post’s reporters a couple that lived on “Vegas time,” staying “up till midnight and sleep[ing] in till noon” — which is unusual, perhaps, for most 60-somethings, but less so for the tens of thousands of casino goers who populate the Silver State.

“My brother is not like you and me,” Eric Paddock told the Post. “He sends me a text that says he won $250,000 at the casino.”

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Eric Paddock, left, with his brother, Stephen Craig Paddock. (Photo: John Raoux/AP)
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Some neighbors in Reno, Nev., where Stephen Paddock owned yet another home, told the Post’s reporters that he was “reclusive” or “quiet” or “unfriendly.” But others, in Mesquite and Florida, where Paddock seemed to spend more time, said that he was “a good neighbor” and that “there was nothing strange about him.”

Either way, these conflicting accounts could accurately describe the same person; moods change. Neither, however, suggests a man on the verge of shooting hundreds of people.

By far the most unusual thing about Paddock isn’t really about Paddock at all. Paddock’s father, Benjamin Hoskins Paddock, it turns out, was a notorious criminal himself; he even appeared on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list from 1969 to 1977. Born in Wisconsin in 1926, the elder Paddock, whose nicknames included “Old Baldy” and “Chromedome,” robbed banks in Arizona, escaped prison in Texas and tried to start a new life in Oregon as “Bingo Bruce,” the manager of a bingo parlor — an effort that ended in 1987 when the state attorney general filed seven bingo-related racketeering charges against him. As an FBI wanted poster once put it, the elder Paddock was a man who had been “diagnosed as psychopathic,” seemed to have “suicidal tendencies” and “should be considered armed and very dangerous.”

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Left, an FBI Ten Most Wanted poster of Benjamin Hoskins Paddock, left, and a 1977 file photo of Paddock, who went by the name Bruce Ericksen when he was on the lam in Lane County, Ore., following his escape from a federal prison in Texas where he had been sentenced for bank robberies. Paddock’s son, Stephen Paddock, was the gunman who opened fire on a country music festival in Las Vegas on Sunday. (Photos: FBI and Wayne Eastburn/Register-Guard via AP)
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Perhaps Stephen Paddock inherited some of those traits from his father; perhaps they lay dormant until the son hit his mid-60s and decided, suddenly, to commit mass murder. The rapid spread on social media of stories about “Bingo Bruce” suggests that we want to believe as much.

Or perhaps not. We simply don’t know. So far — and it’s early yet — all we know is what Paddock’s brother Eric has told us.

“There’s absolutely no sense, no reason he did this,” Eric Paddock told the Post. “He’s just a guy who played video poker and took cruises and ate burritos at Taco Bell. There’s no political affiliation that we know of. There’s no religious affiliation that we know of.”

“We know nothing,” Paddock concluded.

Eventually, more information will surface. But right now, in a moment when we’re used to explaining these shooters in familiar terms — religious, political, psychological, whatever — none of the usual explanations apply. Stephen Craig Paddock seems as if he could have been anyone. And that, ultimately, may be the most terrifying thing about him.  

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Courtesy, Yahoo News