Browsing: World News

‘CIA Director Mike Pompeo sees China rather than Russia or Iran as the biggest threat to America’s dominant position in the world. Beijing merited its position on the US spymaster’s threat list due to its stronger economy and population, he said.

Speaking to the Washington Free Beacon, Pompeo marked terrorism and North Korea as the biggest short-term threats to US security interests, but selected China, Russia and Iran as mid-to-long-term concerns.

“It’s hard to pick between China, Russia and Iran to be honest with you. I guess if I had to pick one with a nose above the others, I’d probably pick China,” he told Bill Gertz, the Beacon’s senior editor and national security reporter.

“They have a real economy that they have built, unlike Russia that lives and dies on how many barrels of oil they can pluck out of the ground. And Iran that is similarly very single sector derivative and not to the scale of China population-wise,” he explained.

Pompeo added that Beijing’s defense strategy is based on confronting the US and its capabilities.’

Read more: CIA chief: China tops Russia & Iran as biggest long-term threat to US

‘The Trump administration has imposed sanctions on 13 senior Venezuelan officials and threatened drastic economic measures if Caracas goes ahead with Constituent Assembly elections. The interference has been justified by the body’s “threat to democracy.”

Among the 13 officials placed on the Treasury Department’s sanctions list for “undermining democracy” are President of Venezuela’s National Electoral Council Tibisay Lucena, Interior Minister Nestor Reverol, national police chief Carlos Perez, army commander General Jesus Suarez, and National Guard commander Sergio Rivero.

The vice-president for finance of Venezuela’s state oil corporation PDVSA, Simon Zerpa, also made it to the sanctions list.

“Anyone elected to the National Constituent Assembly should know that their role in undermining democratic processes and institutions in Venezuela could expose them to potential US sanctions,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday.’

Read more: Election meddling: US sanctions 13 Venezuela officials, warns against electing Constituent Assembly

‘UN investigators have censured as a violation of humanitarian law a deadly March attack by the Saudi-led military alliance fighting Yemen on a boat carrying Somali refugees off the coast of the impoverished country.

More than 40 people, including women and children, were killed and dozens of others were wounded after a Saudi-led strike hit the refugee boat near the Bab el-Mandeb Strait in the Red Sea.

The coalition has denied striking the boat near the port of Hudaydah.

“This civilian vessel was almost certainly attacked using a 7.62 mm caliber weapon from an armed utility helicopter,” the investigators wrote in a 185-page report to the UN Security Council on Monday, Reuters reported on Wednesday, adding that the helicopter was likely operating from a naval vessel.

The UN report said the attack violated international humanitarian law and threatened the peace, security and stability of Yemen.’

Read more: UN: Saudi-led alliance responsible for refugee boat attack off Yemen

‘The Sri Lankan government has dispatched army servicemen to reinstate the distribution of fuel, which was earlier disrupted as a result of a strike by trade unions.

Sri Lankan army troops on Wednesday joined those workers who have not taken part in the strike at distribution facilities.

Long lines have been being formed at gas stations throughout Sri Lanka since Monday night due to the protest action by workers at the country’s state-run petroleum company, who are opposed to an agreement to sell a 70-percent stake in a southern port to China. The government endorsed that deal on Tuesday.

A spokesman for the Ceylon Petroleum Common Workers Union, D. J. Rajakaruna, said that as part of the deal, China would get 11 oil tanks at the port. Additionally, he said, the government also planned to give 99 oil tanks in the eastern port city of Trincomalee to India.’

Read more: Sri Lanka deploys army to distribute fuel amid strike

‘At least 48 people have been killed as large swaths of western India have been lashed by heavy monsoon rains and flooding over the last week, officials said Wednesday.

In Rajasthan, home to a number of popular tourist destinations, the streets of at least four districts have been turned into virtual rivers, trapping tens of thousands of people on the upper floors of residential buildings. Rescue workers were scrambling to rescue thousands of others whose homes have been flooded or destroyed.

By Wednesday, the death toll in the state stood at 19.

In the neighboring state of Gujarat, at least 29 people have died amid torrential rains.

This week’s deaths have taken the toll to 83 since the start of the monsoon season, which runs from June through September.’

Read more: Heavy monsoon rains lash western India

‘The new General Secretary of the UN does nothing to stop the wars that are destroying Libya, Syria, Yemen or those threatening to erupt in Qatar, in Lebanon or against Iran or North Korea. He is doing nothing to stop the war against life by Donald Trump and the multinationals behind him. He does nothing about the many other explosive problems the planet is facing.

A large part of his activity is devoted to another goal: to destroying the Republic of Cyprus, in order to facilitate, among other goals, the new great war looming in the Middle East! This is the whole aim of the sinister operation named “solution of the Cyprus problem”.

Behind all the recent efforts to “solve the conflict in Cyprus” (which means in reality destroying the Cypriot state and its population, transforming a second member of the EU into a kind of postmodern protectorate, ready to explode at any moment), there is the same goal as the one to be found behind last year’s failed coup, supported by US neocons, in Turkey; behind the effort to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn by forcing an early election in Britain; behind the close, very “cosy” relations developed between Netanyahu’s Israel and the western Far Right (both Trump and Macron), in an effort to reshape Western “anti-globalisation” sentiments” into a huge anti-Muslim political force, preparatory to launching a war in the Middle East much greater than those of the past.”

Read more: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres: An Instrument of Neocons

The head of the CIA has suggested the agency is working to change the elected government of Venezuela and is collaborating with two countries in the region to do so.

In one of the clearest clues yet about Washington’s latest meddling in the politics of Latin America, CIA director Mike Pompeo said he was “hopeful that there can be a transition in Venezuela and we the CIA is doing its best to understand the dynamic there”.

He added: “I was just down in Mexico City and in Bogota a week before last talking about this very issue, trying to help them understand the things they might do so that they can get a better outcome for their part of the world and our part of the world.”

Mr Pompeo’s comments, delivered during a Q&A session at a security forum organised by the Aspen Institute think tank, have sparked outcry among supporters of Venezuela’s government. President Nicolas Maduro, who was elected in 2013, has denounced Mr Pompeo’s remarks and hit out at the governments of Mexico and Colombia.’

Read more: CIA chief hints agency is working to change Venezuelan government

John Pilger – The War on Democracy

A history of US regime change in central and South America

‘An Australian court has begun the trial of the most senior Vatican official that has ever been charged in Catholic Church sex abuse scandals.

Australia’s highest-ranking Catholic and Pope Francis’ top financial adviser, Cardinal George Pell, made his first court appearance on Wednesday after being charged last month with sexual abuse of multiple individuals years earlier in his Australian home state of Victoria.

While the details of the charges against the 76-year-old cleric — who has maintained his innocence — are yet to be revealed to the public, police have described them as historical sexual assault offenses, which means the alleged crimes happened years ago.

The development came after Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse revealed earlier this year that seven percent of Catholic priests were accused of having sexually abused children across Australia over the past several decades.’

Read more: Australia tries Vatican official on child sex abuse charges

‘In a storyline lifted straight from the Tom Cruise film ‘Minority Report,’ China is planning to use artificial intelligence (AI) to predict future crimes and prevent them from happening.

Police are teaming up with technology companies to develop artificial intelligence which they say will help them identify and apprehend suspects before crimes are even committed, according to The Financial Times.

“If we use our smart systems and smart facilities well, we can know beforehand…who might be a terrorist, who might do something bad,” Li Meng, China’s vice minister of science and technology, said.

The Guangzhou-based facial recognition company Cloud Walk created a system that tracks data on people’s movements and behavior to assess their chances of committing a crime.

“For example, someone who buys a knife won’t raise suspicion,” a company spokesperson explained to Lei Feng Network. “But if the same person later buys a hammer and a bag, then this person’s suspicion rating will rise.”’

Read more: China to use AI to identify suspects before they commit crimes

‘Chinese authorities in the province of Xinjiang are forcing locals of the Uyghur Muslim minority to install an app on their phones that will allow the government to scan their device for “terrorist propaganda,” local media reports.

In reality, the app creates MD5 hashes for the user’s files and matches them against a database of known terrorist content.

The app also makes copies of the user’s Weibo and WeChat databases and uploads it to a government server, along with the user’s IMEI, IMSI, and WiFi login information.

The app is called Jingwang (Citizen Safety) and was developed by police forces from Ürümqi, Xinjiang’s capital. Authorities launched the app in April, and also included the ability to report suspicious activity to the police.

At the start of July, Xinjiang officials started sending WeChat messages in Uyghur and Chinese to locals, asking them to install the app or face detainment of up to 10 days.’

Read more: China Forces Muslim Minority to Install Spyware on Their Phones