Amnesty International recently released a report on “stomach-turning” violence in Eastern Ukraine (“Abduction and Tortures in Eastern Ukraine,” – see for example BBC coverage here). According to the report, the acts of violence are perpetrated chiefly by pro-Russian separatist groups.
The Amnesty International report and its conclusion about rebel responsibility for the majority of violence does’t hold water and has little in common with reality. The violence in Ukraine in general is not properly analyzed, and the report is quite biased. Rather than the rebels, it is the Ukrainian army and the pro-EuroMaidan forces that are responsible for the abductions and abuses.
Firstly, rebels in Eastern Ukraine enjoy almost 100% support of the local population. There is no need for them to commit any kind of violence targeting the locals. The Ukrainian army, on the contrary, is viewed as a cruel enemy and Ukrainian soldiers feel the animosity of the locals. Simple logic would argue that it is the army that has felt the need to repress its local adversaries through violence. Moreover, it suffices to speak with any of the thousands of refugees from Eastern Ukraine and listen to their stories about the barbaric methods used by the army to break the resistance, to be persuaded that the Ukrainian army bears the responsibility for the majority of kidnappings and tortures.
Secondly, it’s well known that EuroMaidan was supported by Ukrainian neo-Nazi organizations. After the success of EuroMaidan its leaders enrolled their neo-Nazi supporters into newly formed police and National Guard battalions (“Azov”, “Donbas” and so on). From time to time foreign media speak of the neo-Nazi background of such Ukrainian military units, but most of the time this fact is hidden. It’s hard to expect any respect for human rights or any other kind of law observance from these soldiers.
The facts show that EuroMaidan authorities started the terror campaign promptly after toppling the former government, that is to say long before the start of the war. The spiral of violence raging now in Eastern Ukraine is the sequel of the geopolitical drama called EuroMaidan.
In addition, to see the whole scale of violence in Ukraine one should gather information about abductions, tortures and other ill-treatment throughout the country and not only in Eastern Ukraine. And the time period should be enlarged: it’s necessary to take into consideration all of the violence perpetrated since the victory of EuroMaidan and not only since the beginning of the hostilities.
When the new post-EuroMaidan government was formed it unleashed unprecedented repressive measures, which became more and more stringent and violent. Policemen and their families were the first targets. They were threatened anonymously, their apartments burnt and some policemen killed.
Not only were policemen tracked down, but any conspicuous person loyal to the previous government. Unacceptable newspapers were forcibly closed, independent journalists arrested. The most radical pro-European movement, “Right Sector,” put forward the idea that “the revolution continues and we will hunt down the enemies of the revolution”. After that civic activists were subjected to brutal attacks and the most active of them were arrested. Now Kiev goes even further. Following the example of the US in Iraq, the Ukrainian authorities are producing playing cards with faces of the rebel commanders as well as faces of “wrong” journalists, for the soldiers in Eastern Ukraine. The army must either arrest or kill them.
After EuroMaidan, Ukraine is a country full of political prisoners. The number of well-known journalists and writers who have had to escape from the country is rather high: Alexander Chalenko, Rostislav Ishchenko, Vladimir Rogov, myself, and many others. Even high-ranking Congressmen of the Ukrainian parliament, such as the anti-EuroMaidan politician Oleg Tsarov, have had to leave Ukraine under the threat of arrest. Before fleeing Tsarov was attacked by a crowd of EuroMaidan activists and savagely beaten. The video of the attack as well as Tsarov with torn clothes and bruises was shown on TV. His house in Dnepropetrovsk was burnt by Molotov cocktails thrown by well-known “unknown” perpetrators.
Now Tsarov gives juridical assistance to police officers and civil activists persecuted by the new authorities. According to Tsarov, many people are being arrested throughout Ukraine and prisons are filled with political prisoners. The latest case has been the arrest of Alexander Samoylov, the vice-rector of International Slavonic University in Charkov. The picture of Samoylov beaten, with black bruises around his eyes, is circulating on the internet.
The violence against ideological rivals has turned into political advertising for the Ukrainian politicians supporting EuroMaidan, aimed toward dissuasion. Congressmen from the well-known xenophobic nationalistic party Svoboda forcibly entered the office of the Ukrainian National TV Channel director, beat him and forced him to resign. They disliked how the TV channel covered the Crimean conflict between Moscow and Kiev.
Notorious congressman and leader of the Radical party Oleg Liashko is famous for his PR actions in the zone of hostilities. He often shows up there accompanied by a large number of bodyguards and demonstrates his attitude towards the population of Eastern Ukraine. There are many videos showing Liashko humiliating his opponents and threatening to kill them — like in this video where Liashko and his bodyguards rudely force a local deputy in Slawiansk to resign and threaten to lynch him in a town square – or threatening to throw them into prison, like in this video where Liashko interrogates a 68-year old man with a sack on his head and threatens to keep him in prison until death.
It’s worth mentioning that in March 2014, a month before the beginning of hostilities between Kiev and the rebel provinces, and when dialogue was still possible, Liashko ordered one of the Eastern Ukrainian leaders, Arsen Klinchaev, to be arrested. This was carried out in a rude and humiliating manner and Liashko himself took part in the action. Klinchaev was arrested in his office and not with arms in hand, but was treated like a dangerous terrorist.
Instead of dialogue, Kiev has chosen violence.
Vladislav Gulevich is a Ukrainian journalist and political analyst who has recently fled to Russia. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Rasmussen Poll: 63% say the debate about global warming is not over, 60% pan BBC’s decision to exclude skeptics
From Rasmussen Reports:
Voters strongly believe the debate about global warming is not over yet and reject the decision by some news organizations to ban comments from those who deny that global warming is a problem.
Only 20% of Likely U.S. Voters believe the scientific debate about global warming is over, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Sixty-three percent (63%) disagree and say the debate about global warming is not over. Seventeen percent (17%) are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
Forty-eight percent (48%) of voters think there is still significant disagreement within the scientific community over global warming, while 35% believe scientists generally agree on the subject.
The BBC has announced a new policy banning comments from those who deny global warming, a policy already practiced by the Los Angeles Times and several other media organizations. But 60% of voters oppose the decision by some news organizations to ban global warming skeptics. Only 19% favor such a ban, while slightly more (21%) are undecided.
But then 42% believe the media already makes global warming appear to be worse than it really is. Twenty percent (20%) say the media makes global warming appear better than it really is, while 22% say they present an accurate picture. Sixteen percent (16%) are not sure.
Still, this is an improvement from February 2009 when 54% thought the media makes global warming appear worse than it is. Unchanged, however, are the 21% who say the media presents an accurate picture.
David Attenborough was my favorite wildlife cinematographer and each year I fed my students numerous clips to make biology and ecology come alive. Researching the plight of the polar bears, I began to worry that “my hero” had decided to use his spectacular wildlife videos to promote catastrophic climate change.
The first example that raised my suspicions was his portrayal of polar bears feeding on walruses, with a narration suggesting it was a new behavior desperately driven by climate change. But for us ecologists who know better: shame on you David Attenborough. He ignored documented wildlife history and cherry-picked a dramatic scene to promote climate fear.
First view this older BBC video pitting polar bears against walrus. Notice how many bears are converging on the walrus herd and that they are coming from the land. Then view Attenborough’s “new and improved video” that puts a very misleading slant on polar bears and walruses.
If you want to read historical facts about walruses and polar bears, I suggest reading Francis H. Fay’s 1982 “Ecology And Biology Of The Pacific Walrus, Odobenus rosmarus, Divergens Illiger.” In the 1950s, Fay was concerned that the walrus was headed for extinction due to over-hunting for ivory and blubber so Fay set out to document everything there was to know about walruses.
In his tome, Fay published early 1900 observations by Russian researchers who admired the polar bears’ varied and clever tactics for hunting walrus.
“The walruses on Peschan Island are frequently bothered by bears, which creep up to them under cover of uneven terrain and of driftwood, of which there usually is an abundance, along the shore. Sometimes the bears dig pits in the sand or make a pile in front of themselves in order to hide from the walruses. We saw a bear in a pit dug in the driftwood within 50 m of the herd, where it watched for a long time. Suddenly, it leaped from its concealment and plunged along the flat terrain toward the walruses. The animals, upon seeing the running bear, rushed into the water, and when the bear reached those on shore, only a few large males remained, and these gradually pivoted into the water, threatening with roars and swinging tusks. The bear in his misfortune was unable to decide whether or not to enter the water and only brandished his paws helplessly and growled in discontent. Not infrequently, in the confusion, the adult walruses crush some young; possibly, at the time of the attack, the bears hope to profit from such accidentally crushed or abandoned young.”
Anyone familiar with the scientific literature knows polar bears have been hunting walruses since recorded history and most certainly before that time. More recently researchers reporting to the Polar Bear Specialist Group meeting speculated that hunting walruses on land was likely to be a behavior that has allowed bears to survive the lack of sea ice that was far more common through out the Holocene Optimum.
For example, Wrangel Island is both home of one of the largest known polar bear denning areas in the Arctic as well as the location of several traditional walrus land haul-outs each summer. Because walruses often get trampled at these haul-outs, bears eagerly supplement their diet by feeding on the trodden carcasses. In addition, polar bears will wait at these haul outs anticipating the summer wave of walrus herds that typically come ashore and then dine on weak or young walruses. Seasoned bears know to avoid a healthy bull.
In 2007 the 2nd greatest decrease in Arctic sea ice was observed in the waters surrounding Wrangel Island. That summer researchers observed the greatest number of polar bears on the island. However, contrary to the less ice-means-starving-bear theory, there were no signs of increased nutritional stress. Quite the opposite.
Anticipating the seasonal haul-out of walruses, the bears concentrated along the beaches where they were easily observed by researchers who determined that less than 5% of the Wrangel Island bears were designated skinny or very skinny. That compared very favorably to the 7 to 15% of skinny bears observed in previous years with heavier ice. Furthermore researcher determined that not only did 29% of all bears look “normal”, the remaining 66% were fat or very fat. Those polar bear experts wrote, “Under certain circumstances, such as were observed on Wrangel Island in 2007, (Ovsyanikov and Menyushina 2008, Ovsyanikov et al., 2008), resources available in coastal ecosystems may be so abundant that polar bears are able to feed on them more successfully than while hunting on the sea ice.”
With that scientific background, view Attenborough’s rendition and ask yourself if he is objectively narrating the video. He ignores the bears and walruses’ natural history to suggest polar bears have only recently attacked walruses out of desperation. Attenborough suggests the lone bear had been desperately swimming for days trying to reach the island. However, without a radio-collar on the bear, one must wonder if Attenborough is using creative license. And why is Attenborough “serendipitously“ set up in this location to film this event??? Is it a traditional walrus hunting spot and not the rare event his video suggests?
Researchers have documented instances of younger bears who have not mastered hunting walrus that resulted in injury, but it is a matter of a younger bears evolving experience. Attenborough marries an uncommon hunting failure to climate change. Playing sad music, he suggests that bears only attack walruses as an unnatural last resort; suggesting that, in essence, it is a climate change driven act that is suicidal and doomed to increase.
To my increasing dismay, my former wildlife hero seems to be plunging more deeply into climate propaganda. Attenborough has a new series on Discovery called Africa but it might as well be called “Let’s Push Climate Fear“.
Take for instance his video segment, shown below, on Green Turtles. He accurately tells us that unlike humans who determine gender via the X and Y chromosomes, Green Turtles (as well as several other reptiles) determine the next generation’s gender based on the temperature of the developing eggs. Researchers realized this when trying to save endangered sea turtles from depredation and dug up their eggs to “safely” incubate them. Fearing that buried eggs at the bottom of the pile had not benefited equally from the sun’s warmth, the eggs were laid out evenly on trays so all could incubate at the same temperature. The result was uni-sex baby turtles.
However, turtles have been around since the dinosaurs and their temperature-gender system has been completely successful throughout monumental periods of climate change, massive extinctions, and epochs with far warmer temperatures than today. Attenborough should tell his audience that micro-climates are far more critical to their success as well as informing the public that temperatures drop off dramatically with depth in the sand. Nonetheless he warns that due to global warming, female turtles will soon have great difficulty finding a male. Shameful propaganda Sir David!
* Author Jim Steele is Director emeritus Sierra Nevada Field Campus, San Francisco State University.
Fay, F. (1982) Ecology and Biology of Odobenus rosmarus the Pacific Walrus, divergens. US. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, North American Fauna, No. 74.
Ovsyanikov N.G., and Menyushina I.E. (2008) Specifics of Polar Bears Surviving an Ice Free Season on Wrangel Island in 2007. Marine Mammals of the Holarctic. Odessa, pp. 407-412.
Segments of this essay are adapted from Jim Steele’s Landscapes & Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism
The message is simple: DON’T EVER VOTE FOR A FRIEND OF ISRAEL.
Please distribute this video as widely as possible. It is one of the few chances that the Un-chosen People have of fighting back.
But be careful who you ask for advice. If I were a Friend of Israel (perish the thought) I would try to infiltrate as many anti-Israel organisations that I could, including websites that purported to be pro-Palestinian.
Remember Mossad’s motto: “By way of Deception, Thou Shalt Do War.”
6-year-old child detained on his way to school – YouTube
Palestinian being Tasered
Nabi Sala Video
انظرو كيف تعامل النساء-Women in Palestine
Gaza in Plain Language — YouTube (Anthony Lawson)
The BBC/Panorama programme Death in the Med. It is best to search the web for a version that can be watched where you are.
BBC Bias: The Gaza Freedom Flotilla (Anthony Lawson)
BBC Trust’s Finding re complaints about Death in the Med
Highlights from the BBC’s flagship news and current affairs programme, Newsnight, broadcast less than 10 hours after the attacks on September 11.
Notable for statements by Richard Perle, who appears keen throughout to imply a connection with Iraq and Iran — thus sticking to the Project for the New American Century script, of which he is co-author.
Bush and top administration officials issued 935 false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks. These statements were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the U.S. to war under decidedly false pretenses.
935 LIES to start bloody and vicious wars to destroy Israel’s enemies. Richard Pearle is an agent of influence for Israel.
The effect of the Parliament’s decision not to attack Syria last year is still reverberating through the Western military establishment.
Let’s not forget that the decision was forced on the political elite. In the days before the vote the BBC was openly speculating that any such decision would re-ignite Iraq war levels of protest. They cited opinion polling going back a decade to show that anti-war opinion had become entrenched in the UK.
Many MPs in the lobbies did not hide the fact that they were embarrassed at the Iraq vote in 2003 and were unwilling to follow the government into another deeply unpopular conflict.
More recently the Guardian has reported that the Ministry of Defence is worried that multi-culturalism in Britain has made the country systematically averse to war: ‘The MoD is still taking stock of the surprise decision of the House of Commons last summer to reject military intervention to punish President Assad of Syria for the use of chemical weapons against rebel forces’.
In fact the situation is so serious that it is impacting on the defence review, ‘A growing reluctance in an increasingly multicultural Britain to see UK troops deployed on the ground in future operations abroad is influencing the next two strategic defence reviews, according to senior figures at the Ministry of Defence’.
In the wake of the Syria vote, Robert Gates, US imperial Grandee and former Defense Secretary and director of the CIA who served under both Bush and Obama, has said the defence spending cuts in the UK mean that the ‘special relationship’ is over and that Britain ‘won’t have full spectrum capabilities and the ability to be a full partner as they have been in the past’.
This combination of a crisis in public support for military adventures and the usual push-back from the military over defence cuts is casting a new light over the debate about the 100 year commemoration of the First World War.
David Cameron has long made it clear that huge set-piece public spectaculars are part of the government’s way of getting through the recession. The Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympics were part of this ‘no bread and circuses’ strategy.
The First World War commemoration was initially thought of mainly in this register, although it was always also going to be about refurbishing the standing of the military as well.
But now, as neo-con Michael Gove’s recent intervention into the debate has made clear, it’s become an ideological offensive bound up with the post-Syria vote crisis of interventionism. Remember Gove was incandescent at the loss of the Syria vote, publically and abusively bawling out Labour MPs in the House of Commons corridors because the vote, he said, had ‘got to him’.
So make no mistake, this will be a full scale British establishment operation.
The Queen will be at a special event at Glasgow Cathedral on 4th August because the city is hosting the Commonwealth Games which end the day before. The plan is that across the country, flags on public buildings will fly at half mast on the anniversary of the outbreak of war. The day will end with a vigil at Westminster Abbey to be ‘attended by scouts, cubs and brownies’ as well as members of the Armed Forces. This will be replicated around Britain in churches, town halls, and other venues.
Ministers hope this will allow people to mark the conflict which ravaged the continent ‘with sorrow and with pride’ and have set aside £10 million just for funding art, drama and music projects linked to the war, from a total government funding for the commemoration of £50 million. According to the Daily Telegraph, a government source said ‘We are keen to ensure that this [will be] a centenary programme that the country can come together on’.
The BBC are planning major, all year coverage. There will be 1,000 books published this year alone on the First World War.
The anti-war movement must meet this ideological operation by the government just as it has met its previous pro-war propaganda efforts. The No Glory campaign, initiated by the Stop the War Coalition, has made a great start. Its initial letter is approaching 15,000 signatures, its website is drawing thousands of visitors every week, the No Glory pamphlet, The Real History of World War One, is a best seller and thousands of pounds were donated in the first few hours of its financial appeal to help fund its events and activities.
But we need to do more. No pro-war article, speech or event should go unchallenged. We need to get into the colleges and schools where these commemorations are being planned. We need to sustain the cultural events that are critical of the war.
The image of the First World War has been established in the popular mind as the most disastrous war ever. The Tories and the establishment hate that fact. And they are out to reverse it.
We cannot let that happen. The more the dead and injured of the First World War are forgotten in a rush of chauvinistic nostalgia, the more likely it is that dead will pile up in future conflicts. This is not just a battle to remember the past correctly. It’s about political priorities in the present. It’s about keeping the peace in the future.
The attacks by opposition forces largely integrated by Al Qaeda terrorists can no longer be denied.
What is now occurring is a re-branding of the various terrorist formations covertly support by Western intelligence.
The latest slur of media disinformation consists in providing a “human face” to Al Qaeda.
While the media acknowledges that the Al Nusrah front is integrated by Al Qaeda affiliated rebels, the Islamist rebels affiliated with the New Islamic Front –which has received Washington’s ascent– are now portrayed as “freedom fighters” involved strictly in para-military operations.
According to the media reports:
1. The opposition rebels are predominantly Syrian nationals.
2. They are not targeting innocent civilians.
3. They are acting in a responsible fashion. They are no longer involved in terrorist acts. They are targeting government forces and the pro-government National Defense Force militia, set up in towns and villages across Syria.
The attack on an Alawite village in the province of Hama
A Reuters report pertaining to a recent rebel attack on an Alawite village in the province of Hama suggests that civilians deaths are few in number, largely the result of “collateral damage”, attributable to “neglect” pertaining to the government evacuation programs from the areas of combat.
Read carefully (emphasis added). The Reuters report casually denies the atrocities committed by US-NATO-Saudi sponsored terrorists:
Islamist fighters battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces seized control of an Alawite village in the central province of Hama on Sunday, part of an offensive to try to cut off supply routes from Damascus to the north of the country.
The report denies, despite ample evidence, that the “freedom fighters” killed civilians. Detailed government data on civilian casualties are dismissed;
But the government said the dead were mainly women and children and accused the fighters of committing a massacre on the eve of the resumption of peace talks in Geneva.”
Reuters prefers to quote the “evidence” provided by the fake UK based Syrian Observatory. Those killed were part of the government’s militia forces:
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said the Islamists killed 25 people in the village of Maan, mainly from a pro-Assad National Defence Force militia.
Residents of Maan, around 5 miles east of Syria’s main north-south highway, are from the same Alawite minority as the Assad family which has ruled Syria for the last four decades.
The Observatory said most women and children had been evacuated from the village before it was taken over.
(Reuters report Chicago Tribune, February 9, 2014
The “freedom fighters” are “overwhelmingly” Syrian national
The Reuters report fails to acknowledge something which is amply documented by media reports and official data: most of the rebels are mercenaries recruited in Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, not to mention several European countries including Britain and France.
The “freedom fighters” are “overwhelmingly” Syrian nationals according to Reuters:
Rebels fighting to overthrow Assad are overwhelmingly from the country’s Sunni Muslim majority, backed by Islamist and jihadi fighters from across the Islamic world.
“Video footage released on Sunday showed a rebel fighter performing Muslim prayers on top of a municipal building after the seizure of Maan, one of several sites in Hama targeted by the rebels in recent days. Another video showed the dead body of a pro-Assad fighter.
The Observatory said most women and children had been evacuated from the village before it was taken over.
(Reuters report Chicago Tribune, February 9, 2014
Yarmouk: The Palestinian Urban Suburb
A BBC report pertaining to the Palestinian Yarmouk, urban suburb of Damascus, sustains the legend of opposition “activists” and “freedom fighters” coming to the rescue of Palestinians:
The situation has grown desperate since last summer when the Syrian army blocked regular supplies to the camp in an attempt to force out rebels [Al Qaeda terrorists supported by US-NATO] holed up inside.
Activists’ videos and photographs have shown little children crying in hunger and with visible signs of malnutrition. Residents told the BBC that recently there have been about 100 deaths from starvation.
The strategy of the Al Qaeda rebels advised by Western and Israeli Special Forces has been to block the supply routes of food and essential commodities. And then the media comes in and blames the government:
“Babies also died because there was no milk. Their mothers couldn’t breastfeed them because they were sick and undernourished.”
Palestinians in Yarmouk say they have resorted to eating boiled herbs and plants found growing near their homes.
The insinuation is that government forces –which have acted in support of the Palestinians– are responsible for the humanitarian crisis in Yarmouk.
At the same time, the BBC refutes its own lies. It acknowledges that the Syrian authorities supported the Palestinians from the very outset:
The unofficial camp was set up as a home for refugees who left or were forced from their original homes because of the 1948 war that led to the creation of Israel.
Although the Syrian authorities did not give citizenship to refugees, they had full access to employment and social services. Many say they had relatively good lives compared to their counterparts in other Arab countries.
Yet the BBC in its coverage of Yarmouk, insinuates that the terrorists integrated by Western advisers had the support of the Palestinians against the Syrian government and that ultimately the “freedom fighters” allowed the supply routes to be opened to the United Nations relief programs led by the UNRWA:
Armed rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad moved into the camp and found support among some Palestinian groups.
After months of negotiations, a deal was struck at the end of last year between the Syrian authorities and Palestinian representatives to allow food to be delivered to the camp. BBC, February 10, 2014.
Seventy percent of voters paticipating in a new ICM poll for The Telegraph believe the British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) exclusive right to the television licence fee should be cut or scrapped.
According to the poll, 21 percent of voters believe the BBC must face a cut in the amount it receives or have to share with other broadcasters while about 50 percent said the charge should be scrapped entirely.
Only 10 percent of the voters say they want to see the fee increase in the BBC’s Charter in 2016.
Chairman of the Commons media select committee John Whittingdale said the poll shows “considerable public dissatisfaction” with the current system of funding.
He added that there was a strong case for allowing other broadcasters to compete for licence fee funding to put an end on the BBC’s “monopoly”.
According to earlier reports, British ministers are willing to consider licence fee reforms if the BBC fails to undertake changes in the wake of a series of scandals hitting the corporation.
Earlier last week, the Conservative party chairman Grant Shapps said the corporation needs to tackle a culture of “secrecy” following the Jimmy Savile and Stuart Hall scandals as well as disclosures about pay-offs to senior executives.
The licence fee, which is currently frozen at £145.50 annually, brings the broadcaster some £3.6 billion in revenue.
“The following report contains disturbing images”
This is how the BBC website introduces a report by its BBC Panorama’s Syria correspondents Ian Pannell and Darren Conway on August the 30th, 2013. The story contained a video, ostensibly shot near Aleppo, Northern Syria, by an anonymous school headmaster, and documenting the aftermath of a napalm attack on his school, supposedly perpetrated by the Syrian armed forces on August 26th. According to the story, the “evil” forces of Bashar al-Assad, at a time when they had just about established their strategic advantage over the anti-government rebel forces and the foreign mercenaries they had been fighting for over two years, had found nothing better to do than attack a school, a target which presented no military interest whatsoever, with napalm – no less – just so the international media, and BBC Panorama in particular, could pick the story and broadcast it to Western audiences, in perfect timing to coincide with the British Parliament’s vote on the so-called “humanitarian intervention” in Syria, which was being pushed for by Prime Minister David Cameron, ostensibly to prevent precisely this kind of atrocities.
Were Assad’s forces really that stupid? Of course not.
It did not take long before several international commentators and observers pointed out the many implausibilities in the video and the story in general. Among them, Italian author Francesco Santoianni, showed how incongruent the whole story was, sparking the suspicion that the entire video might have been a fabrication. What follows is his analysis.
First of all, Napalm is a substance which generates temperatures between 800 and 1,200 degrees Celsius: in other words, no one has ever survived direct exposure. These physical characteristics mean that when Napalm was utilised in theatres of war, it was primarily used to defoliate areas covered with thick vegetation, and not urban areas, where white phosphorus is more often used, as the United States Armed Forces did in Falluja in 2005, and the Israeli Defence Forces did in Gaza in 2008. Nevertheless, the BBC expected its viewers to believe that Assad’s forces had employed the obsolete napalm on a school. Of course, a school with no teaching resources in sight, but somehow a swimming pool in the back. Oh, and a swing. Case closed: it MUST be a school. Although, we are told by our sources in Syria that the school year did not start until September 15: so what exactly were all those people doing in a locked-up school?
In the video, we were also shown a pair of winter shoes – not clear how they ended up there: it was after all August – and a woman’s shoe. Was all this footwear worn by the victims? How did it remain intact?
Almost every British newspaper which reported the story informed us that “The attack killed more than ten pupils and left many more seriously injured”: and yet, despite the warning against graphic images, we are not shown the bodies, or the grieving parents.
There is – to be sure – a child, seeing shaking in one scene. His skin is actually intact, and so is his hair: certainly not consistent with napalm, or anything like it. And what is the white stuff on his body? Surely, it cannot be the chemical fired from the fighter jets – that wouldn’t have left his hair intact – therefore we must assume that it’s some kind of first-aid ointment, of sorts? Whoever administered it could not even be bothered to remove the watch from the kid’s wrist. In fact, no one seems to be attending this child: the only person with some kind of interest is the cameraman.
Somewhat less convincing is a couple, seen in the video going through the well-rehearsed motions of cursing in Arabic. There is a problem though: the woman’s face is covered in that same white stuff: and the couple has just arrived to the so-called hospital, so it cannot be “some kind of first-aid ointment”. It must be the “napalm-like chemical”. We are expected to believe that a “napalm-like” chemical, fired from a fighter jet, somehow ended up sprayed on this woman’s face leaving her veil intact?
We also see what is supposed to be a makeshift hospital. On the floor, five adult males are shaking – three of them still have their clothes perfectly intact, of course – although one of them at some point stands up and walks off, having presumably decided that he’s had enough.
By the way, we keep seeing paramedics from the so-called charity Hand in Hand for Syria supposedly handling chemical burns victims without any gloves on – but wearing gas masks, for some reason. And even a dust mask: what’s that? The woman in question is of course Dr. Rola, the star of this video [segment introducing Dr. Rola]
Then, of course, we get the obligatory segment showing a distraught local, venting his powerless rage at the International Community, invariably denounced as inefficient and perennially locked in futile negotiations. The Public Relations rules dictate that such a character must be somehow connected with the tragedy (no details given), and that, when he addresses the camera, he must not speak in the local language – which would only sound like terrorist gibberish to most Western audiences: rather, he has to produce an impromptu speech in an impeccable English, so impeccable to the point of sounding scripted and well-rehearsed, or even read off a prompter. After all, these PR rules did work for Libya.
All these absurdities were exposed almost immediately after the release of the video on the BBC’s channels. So why talk about them again now?
Well, one reason is that the BBC itself, presumably after receiving dozens of complaints from viewers who didn’t appreciate their intelligence being insulted, decided to salvage what little they could from the story, and delete the biggest blooper of all. And this is where it gets creepy. Because what follows leads one to believe that this was not the case of the BBC naively buying into a story packaged and sold to them by the anti-Assad PR machine (it wouldn’t have been the first time), but rather that the BBC itself actively created a product that was intended to steer the public opinion towards a more interventionist position. For such a product, there can only be one definition: propaganda.
What happened was that Human Rights activist Craig Murray, among others, realised that, between the first and the second release of the video, something was different in the lines spoken by Dr. Rola. Listen to the original one, containing references to napalm.
The reference to napalm has disappeared in the redacted version.
Both audio clips have the same identical sound quality: of course, there is very little that cannot be accomplished with the kind of technology that’s available to the British Broadcasting Corporation, thanks in part to the fact that Dr. Rola was wearing her exaggerated dust mask, which conveniently did away with all the challenges involved in dubbing, lip-synch, etc. However, the redacted audio clip must have been added at a much later stage, for reasons we have just explored, which prompts us to ask: how can we even be sure that the original audio clip was not scripted and recorded in a studio? Also, Robert Stuart, writing on the Media Lenses Forum, points out that Dr Saleyha Ahsan, featured in the new version of the video, is a filmmaker with a military background: a former Captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps and a freelance current affairs journalist. Was she involved in packaging this product?
Also of interest is the fact that the Charity Hand in Hand for Syria, where Dr. Rola supposedly works as a volunteer medic, happens to sport a flag of the French colonial era on its logo – a flag now adopted by the Anti-Assad Coalition. This is an affiliation which the BBC did not see fit to disclose to its viewers.
For those who still believe in whatever is left of the BBC’s reputation for upholding the mediatic standards of fair and balanced reporting, here is some useful information about another so-called “charity”. The BBC Media Action (formerly the BBC World Service Trust), with its catchy slogan: “Transforming Lives through Media around the World”.
In an interesting report available on its website, BBC Media Action explains: “In 2008, BBC Media Action launched its three-year project ‘Socially Responsible Media Platforms in the Arab World’ with funding from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Syria News was the official Syrian partner, endorsed by the Ministry of Information on behalf of the BBC. The project aimed to set up an interactive online training platform, the Ara2 [opinions] Academy, for Syria’s journalistic and blogging communities, creating networks between the two. This reflected the changing status of bloggers in the regional media and responded to their aspiration to be seen as credible social commentators. The project also supported Syria News as an example of a sustainable independent media organisation, with managerial staff taking part in study tours in London and in business development training. BBC Media Action did not work with a local partner on blogger training, as this could have alienated and excluded parts of the blogging community. Instead, the BBC collaborated with an informal network of bloggers from across the country and recruited mentors for the distance learning system (the Ara2 Academy) who were trained at workshops in London and Damascus”.
One could not have wished for a clearer description of a Trojan horse, funded by one government in order to destabilize another. Just to go over the timeline again: the three-year BBC Action Syria Project started in 2008. The “Syrian uprising” began in February 2011.
… Mr Humphrys told listeners that “there will be high-level meetings to find ways of Iran giving up its nuclear weapons programme in exchange for sanctions being dropped”. Unfortunately for Humphrys, Iran does not have a nuclear weapons programme… Read full article
In BBC Today’s programme today John Humphreys referred to Iran’s “nuclear weapons programme”, something that BBC does now and again.
Interviewing the Israeli government’s spokesman, Mark Gregory, he did not challenge him on his numerous lies and accusations, including describing Iran’s programme as “an aggressive nuclear weapons programme”, a phrase that Humphrey repeated! Neither did he challenge Gregory on the lie that the current Iranian government has threatened Israel with “obliteration” in the past couple of weeks.
It is crucial that people individually write to the BBC and John Humphreys and not allow such venomous propaganda to go unchallenged.
You can listen to the interview here. It starts at around 1.33.49
The issue of Syria has demonstrated the massive gap that has opened up between the elite and ordinary people in both the US and Britain.
Poll after poll after poll shows very large majorities against strikes on Syria. People are war-weary, and the last thing they want is for their countries to become embroiled in another Middle-East war.
One Congressman in the US tweeted earlier this week that he had asked 200 people if they supported strikes on Syria and only four said ‘Yes’- that’s just 2 percent. Another said that 99 percent of calls to his office were against military action.
Let’s get one thing straight: the only people who are keen on war with Syria in the US and UK are the elites. Ordinary people on both sides of the Atlantic want absolutely nothing to do with it.
In Britain, the overwhelming majority of people were delighted that our parliament voted against war last week and that enough of our legislators finally listened to the people to defeat the serial warmongers.
A BBC poll showed that 71 percent of people thought parliament had made the right decision. Yet our neocon/’liberal interventionist’ elite is furious that legislators listened to the views of ordinary members of the public and not them. “You’re a disgrace,” screeched neocon Minister Michael Gove at MPs who voted against the government. Behaving like spoilt brats having a temper tantrum because they were not allowed to get their own way, the Permanent War brigade have been calling for a “second vote” in parliament, showing arrogant contempt for the views of the majority of ordinary people who don’t want war with Syria.
Neocon historian Andrew Roberts threw a hissy fit in a newspaper column last Sunday, attacking the “hideously amoral selfishness” of “new Britain” for not supporting war with Syria. Serial warmonger and drama queen Lord Paddy Ashdown declared “In 50 years trying to serve my country I have never felt so depressed/ashamed” – after parliament finally listened to public opinion and not to warmongers like Ashdown.
Nick Cohen, poster boy for Britain’s pro-war faux-left tweeted “Can’t help thinking that the British parliament’s vote will be remembered as a low and mean point in our history.” Have you got that? Parliament listening to ordinary members of the public is a “low and mean point.” Such is the fundamentally undemocratic neocon/liberal interventionist mindset, which says that no point of view on foreign policy counts except their own and that of their neocon pals.
Since last week’s parliamentary vote, UK establishment figures have been lining up to give Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, a jolly good thrashing for daring to defy the War Party’s line on Syria. Writing in The Times, aptly described as ‘The Warmongers Gazette’ by anti-war conservative writer Peter Hitchens, David Aaronovitch called Miliband a ‘political vulture’. Aaronovitch’s attack on Miliband was hailed as ‘devastating’ by Ian Katz, the editor of Newsnight, the BBC’s flagship Current Affairs program, which wheeled out a ‘Dr. Rola’ from ‘Hand in Hand For Syria’ to criticize Miliband’s failure to back the government.
Since the vote Newsnight has promoted a series of pro-intervention figures, seemingly desperate to try and get us plebs to change our minds. What part of ‘WE DON’T WANT WAR WITH SYRIA’ do our elite not understand? Now the high priest of ‘Liberal Interventionism’, the multi-millionaire war criminal Tony Blair, has joined the ‘Get Miliband’ lynch mob, saying that he was “disappointed” that parliament hadn’t supported the government, adding, “This is something where I just have to disagree with the leadership of the [Labour] party.”
For our neocon/liberal interventionist elite, Miliband is a shocker, a bounder, a rotter, and a ‘political vulture’. But most ordinary people in Britain are very pleased that he and his party listened to the public and opposed the government on Syria. You’d never have known it from listening to neocon newspaper columns, but after last week’s vote, bookmakers shortened the odds of Labour winning the next election to 8-13.
If Miliband and his party had voted the way the neocons wanted, then it’s highly likely that earlier this week US and British forces would have launched their attack on Syria. Which is why of course the Permanent War gang are so angry with him.
The pro-war lobby may be numerically tiny, but in both the US and UK it is massively overrepresented in the mainstream media. Despite the Iraq debacle, the same columnists who urged on that particular catastrophe, are still in front of their keyboards, propagandizing for yet another Middle East ‘intervention’, and are still treated with enormous deference whenever they appear on the likes of CNN or the BBC. Which is very, very often.
“Did you know there are people who supported the Iraq War getting invited on news programs to talk about Syria?” tweets comedy writer Graham Linehan. S’TRUE!!!
The disproportionate voice that necons and ‘liberal interventionists’ have in the UK and US media makes it appear that their views are more widely held in the public at large than they are. But in fact their extremist pro-war views are very rarely found outside elite, Establishment circles.
The gap between the elites in the US and the UK is now larger than at any time in the last 100 years. If we do go to war with Syria, despite the overwhelming public opposition, then it will show that democracy is well and truly dead in both our countries.
Are we countries where the views of the majority are listened to, or are we countries where a tiny, unrepresentative, pro-war clique always gets their way? We’re about to find out.
On the day we learned that the BBC’s new Middle East editor, Raffi Berg, urged colleagues to downplay Israel’s siege of Gaza, the British broadcaster launched Simon Schama’s The Story of the Jews. I have only watched the 1st episode of this new BBC 2 grandiose series. But I already learned from Schama about Jewish greatness, the formation of his people and the continuum between the ancient Israelites and their contemporary followers: Schama and his local reform Synagogue in North West London. I also learned about Jehovah, the God that was invented by the Jews to choose them over all other people.
But will Schama or the BBC manage to answer the most crucial questions to do with Jewish history and identity? Will he be able to put current Jewish politics into ‘historical’ context? Will he be able to tell us why the Jewish lobby in the USA, Britain and France push relentlessly for global conflicts in general and wars against Iran and Syria in particular? Will Schama manage to enlighten us and suggest why Jews were “Stalin’s willing executioners” as Yuri Slezkin suggests in his invaluable book The Jewish Century? Will the BBC manage to elaborate on Israeli prominent writer Sever Plocker’s confession that “some of greatest murderers of modern times were Jewish”? Will the BBC be able to elucidate the crimes committed by the Jewish State in the name of the Jewish people? Will the BBC manage to delve on Anti-Semitism, It’s History and Causes following the incredible enlightening work of Bernard Lazare or will they fall into the same trap and agree amongst themselves that something is ‘pathologically wrong with the Goyim’?
I don’t hold my breath. Schama is obviously a master of concealment. When he speaks about the ‘godless Jew’ Freud, he presents him as a refugee ‘driven out by the Nazis’ but for some reason he fails to mention Freud’s vile contempt to the Aryans in particular (which predates Nazism and the rise of Hitler) and the Goyim in general.
History becomes a meaningful event when it exchanges with the present and our imaginary future – when the past throws light on the present and the future gazes at its origin with hesitance.
The Jewish past, as we know it, is an endless chain of blood baths and holocausts. Lame Jewish history, that is all too common, is an attempt to conceal this past. Will Schama unveil the concealed? Will he or the BBC manage to reduce all those Shoas and disasters into a historical principle? Did Schama learn the only valuable lesson from his godless Jew Freud and ‘unveil the concealed’, or is he cooking another therapeutic chicken soup?
We will have to wait and see.