Florida School Shooter To Romantic Rival: “Iam Going To Fu*king Kill You”

Three students who knew the Florida high school shooting suspect reported him to school administrators for threats and erratic behavior after an ex-girlfriend broke up with him and began seeing another teenager, reports BuzzFeed News. 

Nikolas Cruz, charged with the premeditated murder of 17 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, had been suspended in 2017 for “disciplinary reasons.” While some reports say he was expelled for getting into a fight with his ex’s new boyfriend, others say he was kicked out for carrying a knife to school. 

The students who spoke to BuzzFeed News — Dana Craig, 16; her boyfriend, Matthew Rosario, 16; and Enea Sabadini, 17 — said that such a fight happened, and that it was the culmination of a jealous and angry period for Cruz because Enea began dating Cruz’s ex-girlfriend. Three other friends who asked BuzzFeed News not to use their names, for privacy reasons, confirmed their accounts.

Im going to watch ypu bleed,” read an Instagram message sent under Cruz’s name to Enea in 2017, when students said Cruz was no longer at the school. “iam going to shoot you dead.” Another message said Enea “stole my ex.” –BuzzFeed

Enea Sabadini dated Cruz’s Ex (Remy Smidt/BuzzFeed News)

In addition to the FBI having received several tips over Cruz’s threats of violence which they completely botchedthanks to the way previous administration(s) designed the tip-line, a simple look into Cruz’s social media history reveals a disturbing obsession with weapons and violence.

Following the shooting, a Broward County public defender for Cruz, Melissa McNeill discussed the “underdeveloped” brain of a 19 year old, telling reporters “He’s sad. He’s mournful. He’s remorseful,” before saying of Cruz, who is 19 and a legal adult, “the child is deeply troubled and has endured significant trauma that stems from the loss of his mother.”

Love Triangle

In August of 2016, Enea Sabadini began dating Cruz’s ex girlfriend, who declined to be named. Shortly thereafter, Cruz sent Sabadini a series of increasingly threatening text messages over Instagram – at first threatening to beat Sabadini up, and eventually progressing to death threats and then two physical altercations:

The first fight began as an argument on the sidewalk next to their school. Nikolas yelled “Stop talking to her!” Enea said. Enea said he responded: “No, I’m not going to stop talking to her.” Matthew said he witnessed this fight.

Enea said Cruz ran at him. “While he was chasing me down the street, he also called me a nigger multiple times,” Enea said. “He was also trying to stab me with pencils.” Cruz couldn’t catch him, and Enea said he taunted him. “I remember telling him that I was a gazelle, because I was much faster than him,” he said.

Enea also said he doesn’t think Cruz disliked him because of his race. “I don’t think he was mad at me about race. But I don’t get why he was so mad over a girl,” he said. –BuzzFeed

The second fight didn’t go so well for Cruz. 

“My friends and I were laughing. Talking to each other, laughing and everything, and as we’re talking a water bottle flies by. I remember it going right between my legs,” said Sabadini. Then Cruz “charges me and hits me in my left arm.”

Sabadini, a rugby player, proceeded to slam, Cruz to the ground and repeatedly punch him in the face.  

“I was just done. I can’t believe you actually decided to fight me during lunch. I really don’t want to have any problems with this guy. Can we just get over the situation already?”

During their text exchange, Sabadini tried to reason with Cruz – deflecting Cruz’s threats and then sending him humorous videos and memes. 

The text messages are below. Suffice it to say, Cruz clearly had mental problems: 

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How To Kill 300,000 Americans (And Get Away With It)

Authored by Trey Goff via The Mises Institute,

If someone wanted to kill 300,000 Americans and get away with it, they could not have accomplished it more effectively than our government has accomplished it with the opioid epidemic.

If someone— let’s say good old Uncle Sam—wanted to kill 300,000 Americans, they would go about it as detailed in this step-by-step guide. This also just so happens to be precisely how our government did go about it.

Step 1 – In 1996, Uncle Sam would award a 17-year government patent monopoly to Purdue Pharma to be the exclusive supplier of OxyContin, an addictive and potentially deadly opioid painkiller. This would ensure that they had a massive multi-billion-dollar profit incentive to get as many people addicted as possible without any generic competition to keep this profit motive in check.

Step 2 – To further fuel the use of OxyContin, Uncle Sam would cover the cost of it through Medicaid and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). This would ensure that there were billions of dollars available to fund the purchase of massive quantities of the addictive and potentially deadly substance.

Step 3- For further assurance more people become dependent on opioids, Uncle Sam would enact growth-retardant public policies such as mountains of regulation and exorbitant taxation, exacerbating the link between depression, poverty, and opioid dependence.

Step 4 – Uncle Sam would make pain the “fifth vital sign” and financially penalize any hospital that got poor reviews or ratings for not adequately treating pain, encouraging hospitals to hand out opioids like candy.

Step 5 – Uncle Sam would ban medical marijuana, depriving those in pain of a viable non-opioid alternative.

Step 6 – Uncle Sam would allow doctors to be sued for medical malpractice for not adequately treating pain, ensuring they prescribed even more opioids.

Step 7 – Uncle Sam would then move many opioid painkillers to Schedule 2, which would prohibit refills. This would ensure that doctors prescribed a 30-day supply for patients that needed a 3-days’ supply, just to “keep the patient from having to come back to get a new prescription if they need it.”

Step 8 – Uncle Sam would then allow the profit motive of the patent monopoly, the free money of Medicaid and SSDI, the “fifth vital sign,” and the fear of being sued for medical malpractice to continue to fuel an increase in OxyContin prescriptions until the year 2010, leaving many millions of Americans addicted to opioids.

After having created a sufficiently massive pool of addicted individuals, it would then be time to turn the “prescription epidemic” into an “overdose epidemic” and drive the death rate up into the stratosphere.

Step 9 – Knowing that many of the millions of OxyContin users were crushing the pills and snorting them, Uncle Sam would go to Purdue Pharma and convince them that they needed to make OxyContin “abuse-deterrent” by making the pills difficult to crush. This would cause a large number of people who were currently crushing the pills and snorting them to start instead melting the pills and injecting them (which is much more dangerous and deadly). This change would also cause many of the users to switch to heroin since it is cheaper and more available than prescription opioids. This would start the process of killing as many of the addicted as possible.

Step 10 – Uncle Sam would then demand that Purdue Pharma remove the old formulation of OxyContin from the market. Considering that Purdue Pharma’s monopoly patent was about to run out, they would be all too happy to oblige and get a brand-new patent on the abuse-deterrent formula, effectively restarting the 17-year monopoly period. Uncle Sam would also prohibit generic versions of the old, crushable formulation since that would allow a crushable generic to remain on the market, which would render the abuse-determine formula superfluous, undermining the efforts to get people to switch to injection and/or heroin.

Step 11 – Knowing that the death rate would rise as people switch to injecting and to heroin, Uncle Sam would then steadily reduce the supply of legal prescription opioids, leaving the millions of Americans that were already addicted with no place to go other than heroin and injection drug use. Uncle Sam would do this by threatening or prosecuting doctors who “prescribed too much.” Uncle Sam would also recommend or mandate the use of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMP’s) and drug tests to catch and shut off anyone who appeared to be using more opioids than the state-sanctioned arbitrary cutoff amount.

Step 12 – Uncle Sam would also ban doctors from prescribing opioids as maintenance therapy or for gradually tapering patients off, and require doctors to abruptly cut off anyone they suspected of using too many opioids.

Step 13 – Uncle Sam would further decrease the supply of legal opioids for those already addicted by mandating a constant year-over-year reduction in the prescriptions of opioids. 

Step 14 – To increase the death rate even further, Uncle Sam would ensure that the Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) options that work, like Buprenorphine (Suboxone) and Methadone, were so heavily regulated and controlled that they were effectively unavailable to the vast majority of addicted Americans. Uncle Sam would also require “prior authorization” by managed care providers to ensure that it took as much as four weeks to get Medication Assisted Treatment. This would ensure that the vast majority of opioid users switched to injection and street heroin before their MAT prescription could be filled. Uncle Sam would also send opioid users to prison or abstinence-only rehab where they would be forced to detox cold-turkey. This would ensure that the patient’s opioid tolerance decreased to the point that when the patient came back from prison or rehab, the patient would easily overdose. Uncle Sam would also ban the use of Medication Assisted Treatment in most drug court programs, also ensuring low opioid tolerance and a high risk that relapse would result in death.

Step 15 – Uncle Sam would ban supervised consumption facilities, ensuring that drug use happened alone, unsupervised, and beyond the reach of most first-responders.

Step 16 – After vast numbers of Americans had switched to injection drug use and street heroin, and were using drugs alone and unsupervised, Uncle Sam would then make the street drugs as deadly as possible. Uncle Sam would do this by “cracking down” on the supply side of heroin, knowing full well that illegal drug manufacturers would respond by making their drugs ever more potent, or finding ultra-potent additives to substitute into their street drugs to decrease the size and weight of the trafficked substance (this is known as the Iron Law of Prohibition). That would ensure that heroin was laced with fentanyl (a substance 100 times more potent than morphine) and that eventually fentanyl was replaced by the even more potent carfentanil (a substance 10,000 times more powerful than morphine). Uncle Sam would then ban drug checking under drug paraphernalia laws, ensuring users had no idea if the substance they were about to use was laced with fentanyl. With each increase in potency and adulteration, the death rate would continue to climb higher, and higher, and higher.

There you have it: the perfect guide to killing at least 300,000 people and getting away with it. It is an absolute tragedy that this also happens to be the precise course of action the US government has taken over the past few decades to create this perfect storm of addiction and death.

Heightening the tragic nature of the crisis is the fact that the government was entirely unaware that the consequences of each step in this plan would lead to the eventual death toll currently mounting in America. This was by no means an intentional, deliberate plan to kill people; however, kill people is exactly what it has done.

It is also worth noting that, although these governmental actions listed above take the lion’s share of the blame for the problem, I am by no means asserting that other factors were not at play. Purdue Pharma clearly deserves much blame for making billions of dollars intentionally rendering people addicted and steadily supplied with opioids. Doctors deserve some blame for blindly following prescriber guidelines without reference to the unique situation of each patient. The economic malaise we currently face that has so exacerbated this crisis is the result of an astoundingly complex myriad of factors that extend far beyond just government meddling in the marketplace.

Still, though, the fact remains that the United States government has enacted and pursued a variety of policies that are directly, tangibly responsible for the severity and intensity of this crisis. It is not a stretch to say the opioid crisis would not exist were it not for the government actions listed above.

In light of this realization, a sharp change in the course of policy is in order. The government can take some actions to immediately alleviate many of the problems it has caused:

  • Follow the recommendations of Human Rights Watch and end the drug war immediately. Although there are a plethora of other reasons to do this, addicted individuals need medical care, not jail time, and bringing the drug trade out of the shadow economy and into the formal market would solve many of the consistency, purity, and quality problems currently causing so many of the deadly overdoses.

  • Along with ending the drug war, legalize supervised consumption facilities so that addicted individuals can utilize the drugs under safe, clean conditions, enabling them to lead relatively normal lives. These have been wildly successful in other parts of the world.

  • Abolish all intellectual property laws, especially patent and copyright laws, immediately. Not only does intellectual property stymie economic prosperity and innovation to an astounding degree, but it is also philosophically incoherent. Without a patent on Oxycotin restricting the supply of alternatives and generics, the opioid crisis would never have occurred in the first place.

  • Considering the admittedly difficult prospect of ending IP law, a good intermediary solution could be to abolish all patents on addictive substances. This would prevent the creation of the circumstances wherein a firm like Purdue Pharma can so aggressively market their product and have such an outsize influence on the formation of medical policies. This would also have the happy side effect of massively increasing the levels of innovation of new, more effective drugs in the pharmaceutical industry.

  • Remove all legal restrictions on the use of medication-assisted treatment programs for opioid dependency so that people can receive the help they truly need.

  • Remove any and all legally enforceable prescriber guidelines (especially laws against maintenance therapy doses) so that doctors are free to adjust their prescribing habits about the latest peer-reviewed guidelines and the unique circumstances of each

  • Abolish Medicare and SSDI entirely, allowing mutual aid societies to re-emerge and innovative market healthcare solutions to take their place.

  • Alternatively, reform these entitlement programs to preclude the use of government funds to purchase addictive substances.

Although many of these solutions sound quite radical, it takes a radical solution to rectify a radical problem of this magnitude. It’s time to stop pursuing the same failed policies that created this crisis in the first place. It’s time to start for the government to start saving lives instead of ending them.

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ECB Governor Detained For Corruption

Back in May 2016, Lithuania central bank head, and ECB governing council member, Vitas Vasiliauskas said that contrary to widespread perceptions of central planners as clueless hack economists who would not survive one day in the private sector and who can only inflate asset bubbles, then watch them burst and replace them with even bigger asset bubbles, central bankers are really “magic people.”

“Markets say the ECB is done, their box is empty,” Vasiliauskas told Bloomberg in the spring of 2016. “But we are magic people. Each time we take something and give to the markets — a rabbit out of the hat.”

It now turns out they also appear to be corrupt, criminal people because on Saturday, Vasiliauskas’ next door peer, Latvian central bank Governor, Ilmars Rimsevics who is also a member of the European Central Bank’s governing council, was detained by Latvia’s anti-graft bureau, prompting calls for him to step aside to prevent harming the country’s financial sector.

In a statement to Reuters, Latvia’s Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis did not say why Rimsevics had been detained or what he was being investigated for. However, he attempted to reassure people that the economy was stable.

Latvia’s Central Bank governor Ilmars Rimsevics

Rimsevics, 52, has worked at the Baltic nation’s central bank since graduating with an MBA from Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York, in 1992. After first taking the role of deputy governor that year, he was promoted to governor in 2001. He’s been a member of the ECB governing council since 2014, when Latvia adopted the euro.

Hardly encouraging confidence, the statement said that “there are no indications that would suggest threats to the financial system of Latvia,” Kucinskis said, confirming that it is very likely that there are copious threats to the financial system of Latvia, whose central banker may soon be in prison for graft.

As a result, finance minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola said Rimsevics should step aside for the time being to protect the Baltic country’s reputation.

“Given that the governor of the central bank is a symbol for every country, [then] I think that it would be sensible at this moment that Mr. Rimsevics, at least during the investigation, steps down,” Reizniece-Ozola told a news conference.

“Under the current circumstances… every day that Mr. Rimsevics remains in the post of governor of the central bank, the situation (for the reputation of Latvia’s financial system) substantially worsens,” she said.

Latvia’s Economics Minister Arvils Aseradens, speaking on Radio Latvia, also said the governor should consider resigning. The home and office of the central bank’s governor were searched on Friday, the state broadcaster said on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Rimsevics’ lawyer told local media that the detention was unlawful. “A complaint is being prepared at the moment,” the lawyer, Saulvedis Varpins, told news agency LETA without elaborating. Varpins, who spent more than eight hours at the anti-graft bureau in Riga with Rimsevics before the governor was taken away in a bureau van, said his client was being held at the state police station and hasn’t been charged, according to Leta. Varpins, who didn’t answer repeated calls and text messages, cited the reason for the detention as alleged acts from years ago.

Reiznice-Ozola said the country was suffering a crisis of reputation over ABLV, which has denied all accusations from the U.S. Treasury and said it will work with U.S. officials and provide information so that doubts about it can be laid to rest. Latvia has asked the U.S. Treasury to discuss and share data on ABLV, she said. The central bank is helping the lender with liquidity, said Edvards Kusners, a member of the monetary authority’s board.

As Bloomberg adds, this is the latest setback for Latvia’s banking sector, which last week was hit by allegations by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network that its third largest financial institution by assets, ABLV Bank, has institutionalised money laundering, claiming it helped entities allegedly linked to North Korea’s missile program process transactions — charges the lender denies.

The ECB declined to comment, according to Bloomberg. Another ECB governing board member, Bank of Greece Governor Yannis Stournaras, is also being accused of bribery, an accusation he vehemently denies, alleging political persecution aimed at forcing him to resign.

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Trump Lashes Out At FBI And HR McMaster In Saturday Night Tweets

President Trump took to Twitter Saturday night and laid into both the FBI and his National Security Advisor, H.R. McMaster – shredding them within 15 minutes of each other over recent failures. 

First, Trump excoriated the FBI for missing “all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter,” and knocking the agency for “spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion.” 

The FBI was warned about Cruz after he posted on YouTube saying he was going to become a “professional school shooter.” The agency said they couldn’t identify the user who made the threat, despite Cruz posting under his own name.

The FBI also received a more recent tip on January 5 from someone close to Cruz that he owned a gun and had discussed committing a school shooting. The bureau acknowledged on Friday that it failed to investigate the tip – saying that the call should have been assessed and forwarded to the Miami FBI field office, according to the New York Times. Less than six weeks later, Cruz pulled the fire alarm at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and began shooting his former classmates with his AR-15. 

With calls for Trump-appointed FBI Director Christopher Wray to step down in the wake of the shooting, one has to wonder if Trump’s tweet is foretelling of yet more shakeups at the FBI. 

H.R. McMaster

President Trump’s second scorching Saturday night tweet was directed at H.R. McMaster, after the National Security Advisor told an international audience at the Munich Security Conference that Russian interference in the US election is “now incontrovertible” following Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictments of 13 Russian nationals. 

Trump shot off an angry tweet, noting that McMaster failed to mention that “the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians,” as told by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein,” adding “the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems. Remember the Dirty Dossier, Uranium, Speeches, Emails and the Podesta Company!” 

Recall this from Rod Rosenstein on Friday:

With incontrovertible evidence that the FBI has been both criminally inept and criminally conspiratorial against Trump and his associates, one has to wonder if Trump is about to leverage recent developments to clean house.

Is there a sheriff in town who could possibly take action against criminal elements within our intelligence communities? Because this guy has conveniently recused himself, allowing Rod Rosenstein – who signed off on one of the FISA warrants used to spy on the Trump team – is now calling the shots. 

 

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In Raging Tweetstorm, Trump Says Russians “Laughing Their Asses Off”, Mocks “Leakin’ Monster” Schiff

After  excoriating the FBI for failing to act on multiple tips about “professional school shooter” Nikolas Cruz’s murderous intentions, and criticizing National Security Adviser HR McMaster over his Russia collusion comments, President Donald Trump shifted his focus toward one of his favorite targets, House Intelligence Committee ranking member Adam Schiff, whom he “congratulated” for finally acknowledging that the Obama administration is responsible for any attempted interference by Russia during the 2016 election.

In one of his more memorable turns of phrase, Trump lauded “Liddle Adam Schiff“, whom he branded the “leakin monster of no control“, for finally “blaming the Obama Administration for Russian meddling in the 2016 Election. He is finally right about something. Obama was President, knew of the threat, and did nothing. Thank you Adam!”

Trump also expressed his amazement that nobody in federal law enforcement or Congress tried to stop the Obama administration from handing over nearly $2 billion in cash to Iran. The cash transfers were first reported by the Wall Street Journal in September 2016. The administration defended its actions by saying it was merely returning the money, which belonged to Iranian entities, but had been frozen because of sanctions.

 

 

 

Trump also repeated that he “never denied” the Russians tried to interfere in the election – he only denied that the Trump campaign in any way coordinated with the Russians…

… and he lamented that Schiff was probably only now blaming Obama for Russian interference to create another Democratic excuse for why Hillary Clinton lost to Trump, a “great candidate.”

Putting it all together, given the hysteria surrounding Russian interference during the 2016 election, the multiple investigations and countless public resources wasted, if it was Russia’s intention to create chaos in the US, then they’ve “succeeded beyond their wildest dreams”, Trump claimed.”They’re probably “laughing their asses off in Moscow,” he added.

Taking a swipe at recent reports that CNN’s ratings have tumbled over the past year, Trump tweeted a cartoon of Wolf Blitzer and the never-ending coverage of the “Russia probe.”

He ended his ranting (at least for now) with a tweet about a Republican pollster tabulating that the odds of the GOP retaining its Congressional majorities during the coming mid-term elections have been climbing, which the president attributed to his tax cut reform.

Trump has gone silent, but with Adam Schiff scheduled to appear on CNN’s State of the Union this morning – and Attorney General Jeff Sessions set to be interviewed by Maria Bartiromo – it’s likely we haven’t heard the last from the president during this long, President’s Day weekend.

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65 Dead After Iranian Passenger Plane Crashes, Killing Everybody Onboard

An Iranian commercial plane crashed in a mountainous region of southern Iran on Sunday morning, killing all 65 people on board, a tragic consequences of Iran’s rapidly aging fleet of commercial aircraft according to the Associated Press.

Flight

The plane was an Aseman Airlines ATR-72, a twin-engine turboprop used for short-distance regional flying. It went down near its destination of the southern Iranian city of Yasuj, some 780 kilometers (485 miles) south of the Iranian capital, Tehran.

Aseman Airlines spokesman Mohammad Taghi Tabatabai told state TV that all passengers and crew aboard Flight No. EP3704 were killed in the crash.

“After searching the area, we learned that unfortunately … our dear passengers had lost their lives,” Tabatabai said. “This plane had 60 passengers, 59 adults and one child, as well as a pilot, a co-pilot, two flight attendants and two air marshals on board.”

Heavy fog prevented rescue helicopters from reaching the crash site in the Zagros Mountains, state TV reported. Tabatabai said the plane crashed into Mount Dena, which is about 4,400 meters (14,435 feet) tall.

The airline specializes in flights to remote airfields across the country. It also flies internationally. It is Iran’s third-largest airline by fleet size, behind state carrier Iran Air and privately owned Mahan Air.

Aseman has a fleet of 29 aircraft, including six ATR aircraft, per the AP. The ATR-72 that crashed Sunday had been built in 1993, Aseman Airlines CEO Ali Abedzadeh said. The plane left Tehran at 0433 GMT and gave its last signal at 0555 GMT. At the time the last signal was issued, the flight was at 16,975 feet and was descending, FlightRadar24 said.

Aseman Airlines has suffered other major crashes with fatalities. In October 1994, a twin-propeller Fokker F-28 1000 commuter plane flown by the airline crashed near Natanz, 290 kilometers (180 miles) south of Tehran, also killing 65 people on board. An Aseman Airlines chartered flight in August 2008, flown by an Itek Air Boeing 737, crashed in Kyrgyzstan, killing 74 people.

Following the 2015 landmark nuclear deal with world powers, Iran signed deals with both Airbus and Boeing to buy scores of passenger planes worth tens of billions of dollars. U.S. politicians have expressed concern about the airplane sales to Iran. President Donald Trump remains skeptical of the atomic accord overall and has refused to re-certify it, putting the deal in question.

Decades of international sanctions have left Iran’s airline industry with an aging fleet. Aseman Airlines, which is owned by an Iranian pension fund and is considered semi-private, isn’t allowed to fly in the European Union because of safety concerns.

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White House Dismisses Reports Of Turkish Gas Attack In Syria As “Extremely Unlikely”

According a new Associated Press report a White House official says the US thinks it is “extremely unlikely” Turkey used chemical weapons against Kurds. The comments came late on Saturday following widespread reports which emerged earlier in the day that Turkish forces launched a chemical gas attack on Kurdish militias in the northern Syria village of Aranda on Friday, sending at least six civilians to the hospital.

In response, counter-terrorism expert Max Abrams appropriately quipped concerning the White House’s hasty excusal of US ally Turkey as a culprit: sounds scientific, right? 

Clearly, if a long-time US partner in Syria and NATO ally is to blame for a heinous chemical attack it couldn’t possibly be true according to the White House version of events. Yet, imagine if this were Assad or Russia being blamed… 

“A Syrian man receives treatment after shelling by a Turkish-led offensive on his village.” Source: Getty via New York Post.

As we described previously, multiple local and regional sources including medical personnel operating inside Afrin alleged the attack took place during Turkey’s ongoing ‘Operation Olive Branch’ – which has involved both Turkish soldiers and local jihadist proxies including the Free Syrian Army conducting joint ground attacks against Kurdish YPG forces (Kurdish “People’s Protection Units”). Syrian state-run SANA news agency and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) – an opposition monitoring group – also quoted local doctors in their reports.

And as Reuters reported, “the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told Reuters that Turkish forces and their Syrian insurgent allies hit the village on Friday with shells. The Britain-based monitor said medical sources in Afrin reported that six people in the attack suffered breathing difficulties and dilated pupils, indicating a suspected gas attack.” But predictably, Turkish officials slammed the reports, saying that Turkey has “never used” chemical weapons in Syria, describing this week’s accusations that either its military or allied forces had done so as “baseless” and according to one official, “black propaganda”. 

The AP described the specific delivery method of the alleged gas attack as follows:

SANA on Saturday said Turkey fired several shells containing “toxic substances” on a village in Afrin on Friday night, causing six civilians to suffer suffocation symptoms.

However, more interesting is the White House’s “extremely unlikely” comment when questioned about the incident. The AP summarizes the exchange as follows:

A White House official says the United States thinks it is “extremely unlikely” Turkey used chemical weapons against the Kurds.

The official says that they are aware of the reports, but cannot confirm them and called for the protection of civilians.

It should be immediately clear for anyone paying attention to Syria chemical attack allegations going to back to 2013 that the United States has been quick to blame the Syrian government for any and all claimed gas attacks based on the mere words of anti-Assad militant and pro-opposition media groups.

Both Obama and Trump administrations have admitted at various times to relying heavily on opposition produced “open source material” and “social media reports” including unverifiable YouTube videos to accuse Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of launching massive chemical attacks on civilians. Last April, for example, the White House conducted a massive Tomahawk missile strike on Shayrat air base near Homs in response to opposition media reports of a Sarin gas attack on al-Qaeda held (HTS) Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib. 

And what was touted as a 4-page “intelligence report” released by the White House cited “open source” videos to make the case that the Syrian government was behind the chemical attack. As investigative journalist Robert Parry observed at the time, “All the Important People who appeared on the TV shows or who were quoted in the mainstream media trusted the images provided by Al Qaeda–related propagandists and ignored documented prior cases in which the Syrian rebels staged chemical weapons incidents to implicate the Assad government.”

In the case of Friday’s purported chemical attack on the Syrian Kurdish village of Aranda by Turkish forces, there is also plenty of available open source material, including Kurdish media videos and photographs of civilians receiving treatment for a possible gas attack in a local hospital. 

While none of this is to suggest that at this point we know exactly what happened at Aranda, the episode does provide yet further confirmation of one increasingly self-evident truth: all chemical attack claims out of Syria are simply fodder for manipulation by the White House and media pundits to serve Washington’s geopolitical ends.

The standard Washington logic is as follows: should NATO ally Turkey or US-backed rebels commit chemical attacks or other atrocities, these will be immediately dismissed as “extremely unlikely” – in the White House’s own words; while at the same time any American friendly group on the ground such as anti-Assad insurgents will be taken at their word and on the flimsiest of evidence should claims be made that Assad is using gas – no matter how much evidence stacks up against such claims

And what might Turkish President Erdogan be thinking right now? With not even the pretense of any kind of investigation or UN assembly meeting or diplomatic action called for by the White House, but instead an immediate brushing aside of the allegations as “extremely unlikely” – Erdogan has now been given a blank check to carry out atrocities against Syrian Kurds using any means at his disposal. 

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Abu Dhabi awards Spanish firm stake in offshore oil concession

The vast majority of the United Arab Emirates' crude oil reserves are located in Abu Dhabi — capital of the Gulf emirate. Abu Dhabi in recent years has granted concessions to ExxonMobil, Total, BP, Shell and China's CNPC, among others, as old concessions have expired. The new concessions have …

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OVL to bid for Iran’s South Azadegan oilfield, rework Farzad-B cost

Yesterday, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan held talks with his visiting Iranian counterpart Bijan Namdar Zangeneh where he pressed for a stake for Indian companies in a producing oilfield and promised to raise crude oil import from the Persian Gulf nation in the year beginning April to reverse the …

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Onshore/Offshore oil dichotomy: Stakeholders must speak up

It is a known fact that Akwa Ibom State is the highest crude oil producer today and by extension the largest contributor to the petrodollar that sustains Nigeria. This is made possible by the relative peace the state enjoys when viewed against other parts of the country who are great beneficiaries of the …

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