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Suspected Kosovo organ-trafficker arrested in Cyprus

Moshe Harel, who heads an international israeli ring selling body parts

A man suspected of trafficking in human organs has been arrested in Cyprus. Israeli national Moshe Harel faces extradition to Kosovo, where he is accused of luring kidney donors from Turkey and the ex-Soviet Union a decade ago.

Harel is accused of promising up to $14,500 in payment to donors, with the extracted organs reportedly being sold on to mainly Israeli recipients for as much as $120,000. Some donors were reportedly never paid.

Interpol and Russia had issued international arrest warrants for Harel. His extradition is now being requested by the authorities in Kosovo – a province of Serbia that declared independence in 2008, but remains unrecognized by the UN and a number of countries, including Cyprus.

“Based on an international arrest warrant the suspect M.H. was arrested a few days ago in Cyprus. He has been a wanted person since 2010,” Baki Kelani, a spokesman for Kosovo police, told Reuters.

Harel is accused of being one of nine people involved in the organ-trafficking ring, run from a clinic in a residential area in Pristina. Their alleged activities were discovered in 2008, when a Turkish man complained of pain at Pristina airport after his kidney was removed.

In 2013, the director of the clinic, Lutfi Dervishi, and his son Arban were sentenced to eight and seven years respectively for their part in the group’s activities. Both men later went into hiding.

Dervishi was captured last year and retried, along with several others involved in the case. The trial is still ongoing. His son and a Turkish doctor, Yusuf Sonmez, are still on the run.

Kosovo is no stranger to cases of alleged organ harvesting, and local authorities have been particularly sensitive to accusations of the kind, ever since a former UN prosecutor accused the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) of harvesting human organs from Serbs captured and killed during and after the 1998-99 conflict. KLA leaders, now influential politicians, denied the charges and called them a ploy to challenge the province’s independence.

An EU-commissioned inquiry led by an American prosecutor concluded in 2014 that “this practice did occur on a very limited scale and that a small number of individuals were killed for the purpose of extracting and trafficking their organs.”



US Empire Is Running The Same Script With Iran That It Ran With Libya, Syria


Two weeks ago a memo was leaked from inside the Trump administration showing how Secretary of State and DC neophyte Rex Tillerson was coached on how the US empire uses human rights as a pretense on which to attack and undermine noncompliant governments. Politico reports:

The May 17 memo reads like a crash course for a businessman-turned-diplomat, and its conclusion offers a starkly realist vision: that the US should use human rights as a club against its adversaries, like Iran, China and North Korea, while giving a pass to repressive allies like the Philippines, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

‘Allies should be treated differently — and better — than adversaries. Otherwise, we end up with more adversaries, and fewer allies,’ argued the memo, written by Tillerson’s influential policy aide, Brian Hook.With what would be perfect comedic timing if it weren’t so frightening, Iran erupted in protests which have been ongoing for the last four days, and the western empire is suddenly expressing deep, bipartisan concern about the human rights of those protesters.

So we all know what this song and dance is code for. Any evil can be justified in the name of “human rights.”

In October we learned from a former Qatari prime minister that there was a massive push from the US and its allies to topple the Syrian government from the very beginning of the protests which began in that country in 2011 as part of the so-called Arab Spring. This revelation came in the same week The Intercept finally released NSA documents confirming that foreign governments were in direct control of the “rebels” who began attacking Syria following those 2011 protests. The fretting over human rights has occurred throughout the entirety of the Syrian war, even as the governments publicly decrying human rights abuses were secretly arming and training terrorist factions to murder, rape and pillage their way across the country.

We’ve seen it over and over again. In Libya, western interventionism was justified under the pretense of defending human rights when the goal was actually regime change. In Ukraine, empire loyalists played cheerleader for the protests in Kiev when the goal was actually regime change. And who could ever forget the poor oppressed people of Iraq who will surely greet the invaders as liberators?

In 2007 retired four-star General Wesley Clark appeared on Democracy Now and said that about ten days after 9/11 he learned that the Pentagon was already making plans for a completely unjustified invasion of Iraq, and that he was shown a memo featuring a plan to “take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.”

So it’s an established fact that the neocons have had Iran in their crosshairs for a good long time.

This is all coming off the back of the nonstop CIA/CNN narrative being advanced that Iran is a top perpetrator of state-sponsored terrorism, which is just plain false. I have a lot of Trump-supporting followers, and I would like to stress to them that the group of intelligence veterans who authored this memo about Iran is the same group who released a memo dismantling the bogus Russiagate narrative; these are good people and you can trust them. I encourage you to read it.

Trump is lying when he says Iran is “the Number One State of Sponsored Terror.” This is the same exact script they run over and over and over again, and people are falling for it again like Charlie Brown and the football. It is nonsensical to believe things asserted by the US intelligence and defense agencies on blind faith at this point, especially when they are clearly working to manufacture support for interventionism in a key strategic location. In a post-Iraq invasion world, nothing but the most intense skepticism of such behavior is acceptable.

Luckily, because a full scale invasion of Iran would be far more costly and deadly than the invasion of Iraq, support for this will need to be manufactured not just in America but within an entire coalition of its allies. This will be extremely difficult to do, but by God they are trying.

Please keep your skepticism cranked up to eleven on this Iran stuff, dear reader, and be very loudly vocal about it. My Trump-supporting readers especially, I implore you to think critically about all this and look closely at the similarities between the anti-Iran agenda and the other interventions I know you oppose. Together we can kill this narrative and spare ourselves another senseless middle eastern bloodbath.


Israel Is Now Jailing Palestinians For Posting On Facebook


Alex Kane 

Israeli authorities rang in the New Year by turning to a tool of repression fit for the social media age: locking up Palestinians for Facebook posts.

On January 1, Israeli military prosecutors indicted Nariman Tamimi, a mother and activist famous for leading the village of Nabi Saleh’s struggle against Israeli military occupation and land confiscation.

The Israeli military’s case against Tamimi stems from a now-famous December 2017 incident in which her daughter, Ahed, slapped an Israeli soldier who had posted up on her family’s property.

Tamimi had filmed the confrontation and streamed it live on Facebook. That video, in turn, was broadcast by Israeli news outlets. The outlets then fueled calls in Israeli officialdom for the immediate arrest of Ahed, which took place during a night raid at the Tamimi home in mid-December.

Now, the Israeli military is using Tamimi’s Facebook Live broadcast against her. According to the Israeli military, broadcasting the confrontation between her teenage daughter and heavily armed soldiers was incitement.

In indicting Tamimi for, among other charges, posting the video on Facebook, the Israeli military showcased to the world how central social media-based prosecutions have become to the daily workings of occupation. Israel’s armed forces, from the Shin Bet to the police to the army, now spend hours and hours of manpower using sophisticated technology to scour Facebook for Palestinian messages deemed incitement. And Israeli prosecutors are increasingly using social media posts against Israel’s rule over Palestinians as a basis for jail sentences — in effect, locking up Palestinians for decrying their own oppression.

The prosecution of Tamimi is somewhat unique in that the Israeli army didn’t have to dig around for the video that ultimately resulted in her arrest and indictment. By the time she was arrested, which occurred after she inquired about her already detained daughter at an Israeli police station, the video had become front-page news in Israel. No digital surveillance was needed.

But other aspects of the indictment of Tamimi are familiar to close observers of how Israel treats Palestinian Facebook posts.

The Israeli military prosecution says that Tamimi’s broadcast constitutes incitement because it reaches thousands of people. The other charges in the indictment lodged against Tamimi — that she praised Palestinian attacks on Israeli forces in her Facebook posts — also point to her posts’ reach: nearly 5,000 people on Facebook.

In the eyes of the Israeli military, how popular a Palestinian is on Facebook has become a cause for concern. And if a Palestinian crosses the Israeli authorities’ incitement line — a line that bears no relation to democratic standards on free speech — their popularity becomes part of the reason for locking them up. This citation of Facebook stats — the number of likes your posts receive, or how many people you reach — is a by-now commonplace part of Israeli indictments of Palestinians.

The arrest of Tamimi for using Facebook also highlights how rampant Israel’s social media crackdown has become.

The first known detention of a Palestinian for a social media post occurred in 2013, when Israeli police took Razi Nabulsi, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, in for questioning because he wrote statuses such as, “One day the nightmare will end.”

But the number of arrests, and convictions, for social media postings has increased dramatically, especially since October 2015, the start of a spate of Palestinian stabbing attacks. Israeli officials have partly blamed Facebook for these attacks because of posts they deem incitement to violence. (Since Israel’s public campaign against Facebook, the social media giant has ramped up its cooperation with Israeli authorities by taking down Palestinian posts and even suspending whole accounts.) Israel has arrested at least 400 Palestinians for Facebook posts, a number that will only grow in the coming years.

Some of those arrested have posted clear calls for violence. But other Facebook posts have been far more ambiguous.

Israeli security forces have arrested Palestinians for posting things like “Long live the intifada” — a word that conjures images of violence for Israelis but is a call for resistance, unarmed or otherwise, among Palestinians — and “Forgive me.” Israeli police interpreted the “forgive me” post, by a 15-year-old Palestinian girl, as a precursor to violence.

In 2014, Israeli police interrogated a Palestinian for writing on Facebook that the Jerusalem mayor is the “mayor of the occupation.” And last year, the police arrested a Palestinian because a Facebook post of his that read “good morning” was mistranslated by Facebook’s language software as “attack them.”

All this adds up to a disturbing picture. No Palestinian who uses Facebook, a key means of communication for Palestinians, is safe from the long arm of Israel’s digital surveillance state, no matter how innocuous their post is. And if you do dare to write political posts decrying the situation you live under — against Jewish-only settlements, settler roads, the arrest of children and the killing of your countrymen — then the chances of being arrested for that speech increase exponentially.

Nariman Tamimi has become the latest Palestinian to come under the probing eyes of Israel’s Facebook police, proving once again that under Israeli rule, Palestinians have no free speech, especially in the digital world.

Facebook executives have said they want the world to be more connected, and for the social network to be a force for democracy. But when it comes to Israel’s rule over Palestinians, Facebook looks more like a dark force: a network perfect for surveillance and the targeting of a captive population.

Alex Kane, a former editor at Mondoweiss and AlterNet, is a New York-based freelance journalist whose work has appeared in Haaretz, the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Intercept, VICE, Al Jazeera America and more. Follow him on Twitter, @alexbkane

Read more: https://forward.com/opinion/391401/israel-is-now-jailing-palestinians-for-posting-on-facebook/

Pentagon confirms ‘multiple ground ops & 120+ strikes’ in Yemen

Pentagon confirms ‘multiple ground ops & 120+ strikes’ in Yemen

A man walks past a graffiti, denouncing strikes by U.S. drones in Yemen, painted on a wall in Sanaa, Yemen on November 13, 2014. © Khaled Abdullah / Reuters

The Pentagon has disclosed that it carried out “multiple ground operations” in Yemen this year. The confirmation sheds new light on largely covert US military activities in the region.

US forces have conducted “multiple ground operations and more than 120 strikes in 2017,” according to a statement released by US Central Command in Tampa, Florida. The US military hopes to prevent Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) from using Yemen “as a hub for terrorist recruiting, training and base of operations to export terror worldwide,” the statement reads.

The 120 claimed strikes against targets in Yemen would mark a 3-fold increase compared to the number of airstrikes from last year.

Before Wednesday’s statement, there had been few official disclosures of the extent of US military involvement in Yemen. In sharp contrast to the fight against IS in Syria and Iraq, the Pentagon has avoided holding regular briefings or updates on ground or air operations in Yemen.

However, there are sporadic reports of US military activity in the country. US Central Command said earlier this month that five Al-Qaeda militants had been killed in a US airstrike that took place on November 20 in Yemen’s Bayda Governorate.

The Pentagon previously acknowledged that the US “has people on the ground” in Yemen. According to media reports, in April, US special operations forces stepped up ground operations in Yemen, but military officials did not elaborate on the matter. It is still unclear exactly how many US boots are on the ground in Yemen. A White House report submitted to Congress last week detailing US military operations worldwide failed to disclose the number of US troops stationed in Yemen.

In February, it was revealed that a botched US raid in the country had left at least 25 civilians and one Navy SEAL dead. Inquiries into the disaster found that the raid yielded no significant intelligence, but the Trump administration nonetheless praised the mission as a success. Apart from the deaths, a $70 million military helicopter was also destroyed.

READ MORE: US deployment of drones in Niger is a ‘big problem for Africa’

The latest acknowledgement of US ground operations in Yemen raises questions about the legality of such activity with respect to Yemen’s sovereignty.

Speaking to RT in March, Kim Sharif, director of Human Rights for Yemen, said “the Yemeni people are saying: ‘Where are the other powers in the Security Council? Why aren’t they standing up for the sovereignty of Yemen, when clearly it is in their best interest as well to do so, because they surely must have business interest, commercial interest to protect and preserve the sovereignty of Yemen for the purpose of preserving that international passage for the benefit of all.’”


Aftermath of the US-NATO War on Yugoslavia. The Unspoken Impacts of Radioactive Depleted Uranium Ammunition

The war that does not end

Featured image: Depleted uranium ammunition, fired in FR Yugoslavia in 1999. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

More than a decade and a half after the US-NATO- under international law illegal – war aggression against Yugoslavia using highly toxic and radioactive uranium projectiles, the enormity of this war crime becomes clear: In Serbia, aggressive cancer among young and old has reached epidemic proportions.

The suffering of the people cries out to heaven. Particularly affected is the south of Serbia and Kosovo. According to the Serbian Ministry of Health, every day a child suffers from cancer. The entire country is contaminated. By harming the genetic material (DNA) generation after generation,  malformed children will be born. Knowingly and willfully, a genocide was committed. Until recently, with the help of the media, politicians have withheld the truth from unsettled citizens under pressure from the perpetrators of the genocide. Brave and responsible physicians, former military officials, ex-politicians and scientists have now succeeded in breaking this wall of silence for the benefit of the Serbian people and the many other peoples of the world who share their fate.

Depleted Uranium weapons are weapons of mass destruction

When the US used the defoliant agent “Agent Orange” and napalm in Vietnam, the world was appalled. This was no longer war, it was slaughter of the civilian population and sustainable destruction of nature. 50 years later, generation after generation comes to this world severely handicapped (disabled)- born to die. However the arms industry, including the nuclear weapons industry, has been developing its business rapidly since Vietnam. All wars are, according to the legal norms of the Nuremberg Tribunal, illegal wars of aggression and they are becoming increasingly murderous, sneaky, more widespread, (and) more genocidal. So also the first war of the US-NATO on European soil against Yugoslavia 1999. Here, under tacit tolerance of NATO allies – including Germany – the US Army used a weapon of mass destruction which they have already tested in the second Gulf War in 1991 and in Bosnia-Herzegovina 1994/95: highly toxic and radioactive uranium weapons. NATO itself has admitted firing 30,000 missiles with Depleted Uranium (DU), while the Serbian military speaks of 50,000. That corresponds to 10 to 15 tons of uranium.

Since already extensive scientific literature and film footage (“deadly dust”) of this war crime are available in German, English and Serbian (1), here just a few comments. Due to the long degradation process of radioactivity and toxicity, waste from the uranium and nuclear industries – mainly DU from isotope 238 – are stored in secure landfills for a very long time. To reduce the high cost, DU is therefore gladly given free of charge to interested parties such as the military. DU has characteristics that are particularly attractive for the defense industry: The DU projectiles- developed according to German technology (Siegwart-Horst Günther) – have a high penetrating power because of the high density of the metallic uranium (1.7 times larger than that of lead) and are particularly suitable for breaking steel armor and underground concrete bunkers. DU is also a flammable material that ignites spontaneously when penetrating an armor plate and at 3000 degrees Celsius burns to uranium oxide dust while releasing highly toxic and radioactive substances (uranium oxide).

This uranium oxide aerosol with particle sizes in the Nano scale reaches the human body through the air, water and, in the long term, through the food chain.

Sites in Kosovo and southern Central Serbia where NATO used munitions with depleted uranium (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

In the lungs, the DU dust particles are also attached to the red and white blood cells and thus reach all organs of the body, including the brain, the kidney and the testes, so that in many organs cancer is produced and the genetic material (DNA) irreversibly damaged. The strong carcinogenicity of DU is due to the synergistic effects of chemo- and radio toxicity. (2) Through the placenta, the DU can also reach an unborn child and cause serious harm to it. Potential long-term damage includes genetic defects in infants, childhood leukemia, cancer and kidney damage. Since the uranium oxide particles have- due to the heat of combustion- assumed the characteristics of ceramics, they are insoluble in water,they are firmly attached to the body and can develop their radioactive effect for years to come.

War on uranium weapons is knowingly and willfully brought about genocide

For the biochemist Albrecht Schott, DU is an example of interventions in the creation that endanger them existentially and not a weapon against states, but a weapon against the planet. (3) The well-known German journalist and filmmaker Frieder Wagner (“Todesstaub”/ “Deadly Dust”) referred to uranium weapons as an “extermination weapon” and the victims of these murderous weapons as “the dead of the silent dying”. (4) Uranium weapons are the “perfect weapon” to kill masses of people, that is, to commit genocide.Since the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of genocide from 1948, is genocide a criminal offense in international criminal law that does not become time- barred. It is characterized by the specific intention of destroying in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group as such. Therefore, the genocide is also referred to as a “unique crime”, as a “crime of crimes” or as “the worst crime in international criminal law”. (5)

The Australian doctor, nuclear weapons specialist and peace activist Helen Caldicott writes in her book “The New Nuclear Danger” (2002):

“It is clear that the Pentagon knew about the health risks long before Operation Desert Storm (2nd Gulf War 1991, author) emanating from uranium-containing ammunition. Numerous military reports have acknowledged that uranium-238 can cause kidney damage, lung and bone cancer, (non-malignant) lung disease, skin diseases, neurocognitive disorders, chromosome damage and birth defects.”(6)

For this reason, wars involving highly toxic and radioactive uranium weapons are both war crimes and knowingly and deliberately inflicted genocide – including the war against Yugoslavia in 1999. According to the UN Convention against Genocide, the contracting Parties commit to punish genocide or those who commit genocide, whether they are governing persons, public officials or private Individuals. A large team of lawyers and scientists from Serbia, Germany, France, Italy, Russia, China, England and Turkey are suing NATO for dropping bombs on depleted uranium during the 1999 war against Yugoslavia. This lawsuit will also help the peoples sharing the fate of Serbia. (7)

Wreckage of downed Yugoslav MiG-29 in Ugljevik on March 25, 1999. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Aggressive cancers in Serbia reach epidemic proportions

The bombing of Serbia lasted 78 days. 1031 soldiers were killed, 5173 soldiers and police were wounded, 2,500 civilians were killed – including 78 children – and over 6,000 civilians were wounded. In addition to the DU projectiles, which also showed traces of highly toxic plutonium, other explosive combinations and rocket fuels with certain chemical compounds have been used, which are very toxic in explosions and cause cancer. The rate of these cancers grew from year to year. Also, the number of newborns with deformities and the number of aggressive leukemia cases in children increased. (8) Over a year ago, estimates by the Serbian Association for the Prevention of Cancer were announced: Studies have shown that the use of uranium weapons have caused 15,000 cancers and 10,000 deaths between 2001 and 2010, according to the head of the association and oncologist Prof. Slobodan Cikaric. In total, there were 330,000 cancers in Serbia during this period. The death rate has increased annually since 1999 by 2.5 percent. (9)

Already in 2013, Prof. Cikaric said in the newspaper “Blic” that Serbia expected 14 years after the bombing with DU an explosion of cancers of all kinds. (10) He should be right. Transmitted are breakdowns of the immune system with increasing infectious diseases, severe dysfunction of kidney and liver, aggressive leukemia and other cancers (including multiple cancers), disorders in the bone marrow, genetic defects and deformities as well as abortions and premature births in pregnant women like after the Chernobyl disaster. If one reads a Serbian newspaper today or walks over a Serbian cemetery, one notices in the page-long obituaries or grave inscriptions the short lifetime of many dead people. It should read: “Died from the consequences of DU poisoning and radiation.”

Many citizens of Serbia have been severely mentally disturbed by years of compassion for sick relatives and anxious waiting to see if and when they may be caught by one of the most terrible and mostly fatal diseases. Even though most of them suspected the cause of the serious illnesses, there remained a great deal of uncertainty that triggered lasting feelings of stress. From the political point of view,in Serbia as well as in the other DU-infested countries in the Near and Middle East and in the NATO countries themselves one has deliberately not informed the population.They wanted to evade, among other things recourse claims and continue the murderous craft undisturbed. Stress, anxiety as well as depression additionally weaken the already burdened immune system and lead to a higher susceptibility to infections. This is shown by research results of the interdisciplinary Research area of psycho-neuro-immunology (PNI). (11)

The people have the right to truth

In order to make one’s own life and that of the family satisfying and prepare for the future, or to decide as a couple, whether or not you want to put children into the world, every citizen must be able to realistically assess the economic, social and political conditions in his country. But he cannot do that if he is deprived of the truth about incidents that can severely affect his life. Therefore, it is a moral obligation of all those who have dealt with the problem of contamination of the country – doctors, scientists, journalists, contaminated military and civilians – to enlighten and assist their fellow citizens.

In addition, the identity of a people is based on the citizens’ right to truth and the knowledge of their history. Historians and representatives of other sciences have for that an important contribution to make. The dispute may not be left to them alone. The search for the truth and the enlightenment of the people is also a political task, which is to be solved by political responsibility bearers and under no circumstances can be suppressed by them. Government and Parliament have to position themselves. How can citizens trust a government or people’s delegation who deprive them of the truth about a problem that affects them all existentially

Dr. Rudolph Hänsel is a renowned author and psychologist based in Lindau, Germany.


(1) Jovanovic, V., Petkovic, S., Cikaric, S. (2012). CRIME IN WAR – GENOCIDE IN PEACE. The consequences of NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999, Sluzbeniglasnik Beograd; Caldicott, H. (2003). Atomgefahr USA. Kreuzlingen/München;  Wagner, F. (2007). „Deadly Dust – Todesstaub “, https://www.youtube.com/watsch?v=GTRaf23TCUi sowie Artikel in NRhZ online und „Geopolitika“, Mai 2014; Bertell, R. (2013). Radioaktivität und die Auslöschung des Lebens – Sind wir die letzten Generationen? NRhZ online Nr. 436 v. 11.12.2013; Deutsche Sektion der Internationalen Ärzte für die Verhütung des Atomkrieges/Ärzte in sozialer Verantwortung e.V.: ippnw report (2012). Die gesundheitlichen Folgen von Uranmunition. Berlin.

(2) S. a.a.O.

(3) Schott, A. (World Depleted Uranium Centre e.V., WODUC e.V.) (2003). Fluch und Tragödie des Uranmissbrauchs. Berlin.

(4) Wagner, F. (2010). Uranbomben – Die verheimlichte Massenvernichtungswaffe. Berlin.

(5) https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Völkermord.

(6) Caldicott, H. (2003). Atomkrieg am Golf und im Kosovo, in: Atomgefahr USA. Kreuzlingen/München, S. 260.

(7) S. Leukefeld, K. (2015). Uranwaffen gegen IS?  http://www.jungewelt.de/2015/03-03-/053.php.

(8) Mirjana Andjelkovic Lukic (2012). Serbien – gestern und heute, in: „Zeit-Fragen“. Zürich.

(9) http://derstandard.at/2000033576195/Serbischer-Verband-10-000-Krebstote-durch-NATO-Bomben-im-Jahr-1999.

(10) „Cikaric: Iduce godine ocekujemo ‚eksploziju’ malignih oboljenja“, in: „Blic“ online v. 13.12.2013. Belgrad.

(11) https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychoneuroimmunologie.


Snowden’s Haven app turns smartphone into anti-spy sentinel (VIDEO)

Snowden’s Haven app turns smartphone into anti-spy sentinel (VIDEO)
A new app developed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden promises to harness the surveillance power of your smartphone and turn it into a tiny security system to physically guard your data.

Haven uses the regular features of a standard Android smartphone to detect changes in the environment around the device. The app, which adapts the camera for use as a motion tracker, can also pair with other devices to record sounds or changes in light before sending an alert to the owner – an ideal feature for those looking to ward off unwelcome snoopers.

READ MORE: Keyboard app security gaffe exposes 31mn users’ data including passwords, web searches

In a video posted online, Snowden appealed for funds to further develop the open-source project while hailing it as a means for activists to protect their data without fear of it being hacked or stolen. “We designed Haven as a tool for investigative journalists, human rights defenders and people at risk,” the whistleblower said.

“Haven makes it harder [for parties] to silence citizens through raids, searches, arrests, without getting caught in the act themselves.This creates a kind of herd immunity where before people launch a crackdown they have to think, ‘will I be witnessed in a way that I can’t stop.’”

None of the data collected by Haven is sent to outside servers, meaning people remain in full control of their data. It was developed in conjunction with the Guardian Project, a global collective of software developers and activists who create open-source mobile security technology.

Micah Lee, a journalist who helped develop the app along with Snowden, said it could be used to prevent so-called “evil maid” attacks, in which an intruder attempts to physically tamper with a machine.

Do you use Android? Then for the past 11 months your device has been sending ‘Cell ID codes’ to Google https://on.rt.com/8sss 

Disable location access? Google collects data from Android users anyway – report — RT US News

Android phone users may turn off their location services settings or take out their SIM card, but Google still collects their location data.


Writing for The Intercept, Lee said: “Here’s how Haven might work. You lock your laptop in a hotel safe — not a secure move on its own — and place your Haven phone on top of it. If someone opens the safe while you’re away, the phone’s light meter might detect a change in lighting, its microphone might hear the safe open, its accelerometer might detect motion if the attacker moves the laptop, and its camera might capture a snapshot of the attacker’s face.”

A user can also choose to have alerts sent via Signal, a Tor onion service website, or even a simple SMS text message. It is not without its flaws, however. Critics believe that if an attacker were to block WiFi, SMS or mobile data, they could prevent an alert being logged. For Snowden, however, the device he calls a “safe room that fits in your pocket” is a major step forward for privacy.

READ MORE: Smartphone apps track Android users with ‘clandestine surveillance software’

“Imagine if you had a guard dog you could take with you to any hotel room and leave it in your room when you’re not there,” Snowden told Wired“The real idea is to establish that the physical spaces around you can be trusted.”

Android phone users have been up in arms in recent times following revelations that Google has been collecting their location data even while they have that feature turned off. Last month, Quartz discovered that Android devices have been sending “Cell ID codes” to the search engine giant via cellular towers across the US.


A deal blocks the production of lignite energy in Kosovo for the next 40 years

The agreement reached today between the Government of Kosovo and Contour Global Company will block Kosovo for the next 40 years in lignite-based energy production. The only benefit from this project will be the smoke and dust produced, as well as the degradation of the environment and public health.

The Kosovo Civil Society Consortium for Sustainable Development (KOSID) has consistently opposed the construction of the ‘New Kosova’ power plant because this project will not secure energy supply independence and will undermine the country’s road to integration processes. Solving problems in the energy sector would only be done by addressing the problems by priorities such as technical and commercial losses, efficiency measures, diversification of energy sources and the liberalization of the functioning of the liberalized market.

This agreement is being done in the most non-transparent way possible, without any public consultation and without the assessment of environmental and social impact, which is a prerequisite by international financial institutions for such projects. Further, the signing of this agreement introduces Kosovo into contractual relations that in case of failure Kosovo will be damaged financially.

On this occasion, we would like to inform the public that with the signing of the commercial agreement, there is no end to the procedure for starting the construction of the power plant, but only deepens the problem and makes the process even more complex.

KOSID called on the Government of Kosovo to make public the signed commercial agreement for the Kosovo New Power plant. More specifically, we are asking for clear details on how: Will the price of energy produced by this power plant be? Are there arrangements for purchasing power from this power plant? How long is the return on investment and who will be billed for this burden? Will this project be sponsored by the Kosovo budget? What is Kosovo’s obligation after the deal, if this agreement fails?

We estimate that with a non-transparent and secret process, the only thing that can be guaranteed is the deepening of energy poverty, isolation and further degradation of the environment and public health, and the poverty of the family budget of Kosovo’s citizens.


Kosovo is building a new Chernobyl

KEK power plants. | Photo courtesy of Ylli Vuciterna

by Enver Robelli

The non-transparent Kosova e Re project is a bad investment for Kosovo’s citizens. Any serious government that may come to power should reverse this project.

Through an irresponsible government, Kosovo decided to build a new Chernobyl in Obilic. The Kosova e Re  (‘Kosovo C’) power plant is harmful for public health, the agreement to build it is not transparent, and environmental pollution will increase. Experts predict that electricity prices will also increase.

The EU asks every country that aims to become its member to ‘decarbonize’ their energy sector. Kosovo is doing the opposite, whereas other countries are materializing their plans so that by 2030, they will produce all of their energy from renewable sources, such as through solar power, wind, rain, tidal energy, wave power, and geothermal energy.  It is understood that this goal will be difficult to reach in Europe, and even after 2030, electricity will still be produced by coal, but the trend seems clear: keep away from coal in the name of environmental protection and the protection of natural resources.

It may be a coincidence, or not, that Serbia, which also produces a great deal of its electricity via coal, said that they received an 80 million euro loan from KfW, the German State Bank, in order to finance a wind energy park. After the Kostolac energy park is built, it will have a starting capacity of 66 MegaWatts, and within a year it is expected to reach more than 135 Gigawatts of electricity.

“KfW supports Serbia in its path to use the wind’s potential to produce electrical energy. This is an important step in energy production that is harmony with the environment and the climate,” said Joachim Nagel, the KfW board member. After the wind park becomes operational, Serbia is expected to offset 120 tons of carbon dioxide annually.

The opposite is expected to happen in Kosovo. And, the poisoning of the environment is sold as a contribution towards ‘friendship with America.’ Yet no investor can make a government poison its own citizens — governments do this on their own, if they manage to find a populace who are patient and uninformed in regards to the issues of environmental protection.

While only in 2016 Serbia exported goods with a value of almost 14 billion euros, Kosovo in 2017 decided to go ahead and increase the ‘production’ of carbon. Kosovo Civil Society Consortium for Sustainable Development, KOSID, warned that the decision for Kosova e Re stands “against constitutional principles of a democratic state that promotes environmental protection, against the principles of environmental protection, against the law on energy and the promotion of an free and integrated market in the region and beyond. Sidelining these constitutional and legal regulations is unacceptable and as such this decision should be revoked.”

Chances that such a thing will happen with the current government are slim. This is because the governmental structure of the ‘commanders’ has only one vision for Kosovo: the plundering of its resources.

Who could currently stop such a thing? Kosovo has an inefficient administration that is entirely corrupt. Kosovo barely has any production capacities and remains a place dependent on imports. The trade balance is immensely negative. Public investments are focused mainly on building extremely expensive roads (‘highways’) with contracts that are not transparent. Foreign investments are negligible. The salaries are among the lowest in Europe, yet the cost of everyday goods is similar to the countries of the EU.

To face these challenges, Kosovo needs a government that liberates the country from party-interest groups, oligarchy clans, mafia clans, and nepotism. Whoever thinks that this government is capable of such a thing, they should definitely check in for a psychological evaluation.


Old Footage of how Albanians were Treated by Serbs Prior to the War

A historic report filmed before the conflict in Kosovo.


Kosovo’s dire need to change strategy in its quest for international legitimacy

Kosovo should adopt an offensive rather than defensive diplomatic strategy and apply to as many international organizations as it can. Even if these endeavors fail, Kosovo has nothing to lose.

Kosovo recently pulled out from two attempts to gain further international legitimation. One is its planned application to INTERPOL, which Kosovo withdrew with the advice of the United States.

Second is the re-application to UNESCO, which Kosovo planned to do but preemptively aborted on the grounds that the “pragmatic postponement” is based on “full and close coordination with the US and other Quint countries.”

Apart from the dubious official statements, Kosovo’s defensive, skeptical, and hesitant diplomatic policy towards gaining membership in international organizations remains inexplicable.

Kosovo should adopt a more offensive diplomatic policy regarding its international legitimation. Kosovo should apply to as many international organizations as it can, regardless of the propensity to gain membership. The main principle of this approach should be that being refused membership by other sovereign nations is much better than refusing yourself the sovereign right to apply for membership. In any application that is submitted, there always remains some (even if a slight) chance of success. With any application that is withdrawn, there remains nothing but sure failure to gain membership. Understanding that this is not as simple as it sounds here, especially when taking into account that Kosovo may be advised by its key western partners not to apply, I will consider some possible scenarios, and the possible remedies.

Let us discuss a recent examples by asking, what if Kosovo actually pursued its applications to INTERPOL, UNESCO, or even the UN for a non-member observer status this fall? Given the advice by one or more of the Quint states, and the lack of votes that would most probably have followed, the most predictable answer is that Kosovo would not have gained membership in any of these organizations. Now the question is: so, what?

Kosovo’s foreign policy circles and the general public should not be dramatic about lack of votes from sponsors (i.e. the Quint). Kosovo should learn to accept and respect every nation’s sovereign right to decide on Kosovo’s admission or non-admission inside the family of states, be that in the UN or other international organizations and agencies. Every nation, including Kosovo’s sponsors, have their own (public or private) interests to serve, and these interests do not, and will not, always coincide with Kosovo’s interests. For instance, in an attempt to halt Palestine’s membership in INTERPOL, the US asked Kosovo not to apply in the same agency, so that the US can be successful in preventing Palestine’s membership. Other Quint states may have similar or other reasons to advocate against Kosovo now or in the future.

By suggesting Kosovo to withdraw its applications, the US or other Quint states may have tried to be nice to Kosovo, by preventing any appearance that even Kosovo’s own sponsors are not supporting the new state’s membership in international organizations. I suggest that this does not necessarily have to be viewed as such either by Quint states or Kosovo. The Quint’s explicit no-vote can in fact be tactically utilized in covering some of Kosovo’s diplomatic gaps.

It is no secret that Serbia has been fighting hard to utilize the “colonial-puppet” argument, in which Serbia positions the US as a colonial power in the Balkans and Kosovo as its puppet, when lobbying against Kosovo’s independence. Serbia has done so quite successfully in its relations with many members of the Yugoslav-era nonaligned movement, including anti-colonial regimes throughout much of Latin America and Africa that are wary of United States’ hegemony.

It is not a surprise, therefore, that Kosovo’s international legitimation lags behind especially among these nations. Labelling an entity as a puppet is not only an offensive word in international relations. In fact, it is also a descriptive purposeful label that has worked throughout history to prevent entities from being recognized as legitimate and sovereign. From France’s northern Italian republics (during Napoleon), Germany’s regimes in Slovakia, Croatia, and parts of Albania (during Hitler), to Japan’s Manchuria (during Hirohito), all were widely recognized as puppet regimes of empirical powers and none were able to gain substantive recognitions and international legitimation.

The no-vote threat by the US or other Quint states against Kosovo’s membership to INTERPOL or any other organization in the future should not be used as a signal to shift policy, and certainly should not be taken hysterically by opposition parties, journalists, and civil society.

While respecting its sponsors’ sovereign right to vote sometimes for and sometimes against, Kosovo should nonetheless move on with its applications. Any future possible no vote by the US or other Quint states should be strategically used as a prime example against Serbia’s argument that Kosovo is a puppet of the US or other western powers in the Balkans. By always following the Quint’s advice, the perception of colonial-puppet argument will only continue to strengthen among Kosovo’s non-recognizing states in Latin America and Africa. It goes without saying that Kosovo’s applications to international organizations should not be perceived as hostile acts against its sponsors; rather it should be perceived as Kosovo’s maturity to understand and respect its sponsors’ sovereign right to (sometimes) not support Kosovo for whatever reason or interests they may have.

Kosovo, therefore, should waste no time and  apply for memberships whenever it can. If and when refused, Kosovo can learn which states will vote against its admission and perhaps even why. This way it can channel more efficiently its future diplomatic lobbying efforts. Without applying, Kosovo can only assume, but never know, where to channel its efforts, and thus remain in abyss.

Despite having no chance whatsoever to be admitted to the UN, Taiwan nonetheless has been submitting applications to the UN every year since 1993. Taiwan has lost nothing from being refused for more than twenty times now; it may have only learned something. Furthermore, taking a defensive and hesitant diplomatic approach, as Kosovo has done until now, can only serve Serbia’s diplomatic efforts against Kosovo’s legitimation. More offensive efforts with its applications whenever and wherever it can, within the realm of its resources, which should certainly expand, will only make Serbia’s counter-lobbying efforts more difficult, while maintaining some chance of success for itself. As such, a shift from a defensive to an offensive diplomatic policy can only improve Kosovo’s diplomatic balance sheet, and build more honest relations with its current sponsors.

Shpend Kursani is a PhD researcher in the Department of Social and Political Sciences at the European University Institute, where he researches post-1945 cases of contested states.

Prishtina Insight



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