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US Risks Wider War by Downing Syrian Plane

By Gilbert Doctorow | Consortium News | June 19, 2017

The Pentagon’s announcement that the U.S. military had shot down a Syrian warplane inside Syrian territory merited only inside-the-paper treatment at The New York Times and The Washington Post on Monday, but it became the featured article on the Russian version of Google News citing a Moscow newspaper reporting a warning from Russia’s Federation Council that “the USA can receive a return blow in Syria.”

The article in Moskovsky Komsomolets and several similar accounts in other leading Russian print media recounted the warning issued by the Deputy Chairman of the Committee on International Affairs in Russia’s upper house, Vladimir Jabarov, that the shoot-down of the Syrian SU-22 bomber on Sunday by the U.S.-led coalition can lead to “a major conflict.” The Senator noted that Syrian air space is protected both by a Syrian operated S-300 ground to air defense system and by Russian-operated state-of-the-art S-400 missiles.

Jabarov called for diplomats of the interested parties to meet as soon as possible to discuss the incident. And he warned, in dark tones, that the plane’s destruction could lead to a return attack from the Syrian armed forces. The article also quotes the first deputy chairman of Russia’s Committee on Defense and Security in the upper chamber, Frants Klintsevich, describing the shoot-down as “a provocation directed against Russia.”

The Syrian government said its bomber was operating against Islamic State forces near Raqqa, though the U.S. coalition claimed Syrian forces and the plane had attacked rebels, called the Syrian Democratic Forces and operating under the guidance of U.S. Special Forces.

It perhaps should go without saying that under international law the Syrian government has the right to operate inside Syrian airspace and that the U.S. military has no legal right to have personnel inside Syria (since they lack the Syrian government’s permission) let alone to attack the Syrian military or its allied forces. Another curious feature about this situation is that the U.S. mainstream media sees nothing illegal or unusual about the U.S. military operating inside another country uninvited and shooting down government aircraft.

That assumption that the U.S. military has the right to intervene in any conflict of its choosing was reflected in the decision by the Times and Post to minimize coverage of the shoot-down of the Syrian bomber and accept uncritically the Pentagon’s explanation that the shoot-down was in response to Syrian government attacks on U.S.-backed forces. (The Wall Street Journal did lead its Monday print edition with a story about the shoot-down of the Syrian plane, but also acted as if the U.S. military was within its rights in doing so.)

Given the potential for a dangerous U.S. military showdown with Russia, whose forces have been invited into Syria by the internationally recognized government, the Kremlin initially tamped down concern about the clash. Russian state television on Sunday night and into Monday paid almost no attention to the shoot-down, apparently awaiting a decision on a suitable response to the American “provocation.”

That response came on Monday when the Russian military command once again declared that the deconflicting hotline between U.S.-allied and Russian forces on air movements over Syria has been severed. That is to say the Russians reinstated the response they made following Donald Trump’s Tomahawk missile attack on a Syrian air base in April. In effect, this Russian action halts all flights into the area from the U.S. aircraft carrier that launched the plane that shot down the Syrian bomber. In line with that decision, the Kremlin warned that all allied air operations near where the Russian air force is flying will be targeted and destroyed.

U.S. Reactions

Only then did The New York Times and The Washington Post begin to react to the seriousness of the confrontation. The former produced an analytical article entitled “Russia Warns U.S. After Downing of Syrian Warplane,” published Monday at its Web site. The Post did the same under the heading “Russia threatens to treat U.S. coalition aircraft as targets over Syria.”

These articles are unusual in one respect: they quote extensively from official Russian sources, including the accusation that the U.S. actions in Syria are in violation of international law. They also mention the dynamism of the Syrian armed forces in bringing the fight to the east of the country even if this means pushing against U.S.-assisted rebels.

What these newspapers do not explain is how and why the Syrian army has been energized to pursue national unification: namely it is the direct result of freeing up Syrian forces, which had been tied down in the west, through the implementation of “deconfliction” settlements that Iran, Turkey and Russia hammered out in the so-called Astana talks earlier this spring. Those settlements never received U.S. approval, though Moscow hoped they would become a platform for a broader U.S.-Russian understanding regarding possible areas of cooperation before the first meeting between Presidents Putin and Trump.

Instead, the U.S. shoot-down of the Syrian bomber, the first direct U.S. attack on a Syrian aircraft in the six-year conflict, signals a return to the Pentagon’s actions undermining the accommodating policies of a U.S. president in Syria. Last September, when Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reached agreement on a partial cease-fire in Syria with the support of President Obama, a U.S. air attack killing Syrian troops in the besieged eastern outpost of Deir Ezzor scuttled the arrangement.

Now it appears that the Pentagon may be sabotaging another possibility of accommodation between Putin and Trump by escalating the U.S. military intervention in Syria at a time when the Syrian government has been consolidating its control over large swaths of Syria. The latest clash also heightens the possibility that Russian air defenses may shoot down a U.S. warplane and push tensions to even a higher level.


Gilbert Doctorow is an independent political analyst based in Brussels. His latest book Does Russia Have a Future? was published in August 2015. His forthcoming book Does the United States Have a Future? will be published on 1 September 2017.

June 19, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

The war for power in Venezuela’s countryside

By Marco Teruggi – 15 y Ultimo – June 16, 2017

Since opposition protests began in Venezuela in early April, much of the media coverage has focused on clashes in Caracas. However, the opposition’s campaign to bring down the government of Nicolas Maduro has not been limited to the country’s capital.

Marco Teruggi reports on a recent visit to the small, but strategic town of Socopo, in the largely rural state Barinas, which has been the site of a campaign of terror and an all-out struggle for power.

It was original published at 15 y Ultimo and has been translated by Green Left Weekly’s Federico Fuentes.

***

More than two months after the right-wing opposition began its campaign of full-frontal confrontation, we can start to see particular episodes as model cases.

Such is the case with Socopo, a town of 20,000 residents in the state of Barinas that for five days, during a period of time that can be divided into three moments, was an epicentre of violence: April 19 and 20; the intermediary phase; and May 22, 23 and 24. Behind closed doors, people are already saying there will be a fourth moment, based on an analysis of the plans to escalate the violence.

Socopo has various characteristics. It is situated along a main highway that unites San Cristobal, the capital of Tachira, with Barinas, and then continues to Caracas via Guanare, the capital of Portuguesa.

Its proximity to San Cristobal is important for two reasons: the first is that it is the rearguard of paramilitarism in Venezuela, from where they can restock on fighters, weapons and logistics.

The second is that it is where many of the vegetables that go to Caracas come from. Cut off Socopo, or more precisely its bridge, and you cut off transit for part of the food heading to Caracas, epicentre and designated site of the final battle.

Another key characteristic is the strength of the opposition in the area, comprised of a political wing, via the opposition-aligned mayor who guarantees, for example, that the municipal police will not intervene; an economic wing, with ranchers and a section of local traders providing funds; and an armed wing, in the form of paramilitaries that for years has been infiltrating the area.

All of this provides the opposition with an organisational, economic, intelligence and military structure, to go with the approximately 150 men and women it can count on to carry out its orders. This unity of action gives the opposition the ability to coordinate its movements in the area and the capacity to control it.

Chronology

April 19

Day the cycle begins. It coincides with national mobilisations in Caracas.

The right wing attacks a pro-government Chavista mobilisation with rocks, firebombs and homemade rockets. No firearms are detected.

They attack the house of a leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, burn the state-owned Bicentenario Bank and attempt to take over the local command station of the state police, an objective they fail to achieve

April 20

Coincides with a night of attacks in El Valle, Caracas.

From the morning, a group of 15 motorbikes and two cars circulate, carrying with them a list of Chavistas to kill. In the afternoon, right-wing groups now use firearms in a visible manner and 30 armed motorcyclists go shop to shop, forcing them to close.

They force the Bolivarian National Guard to retreat from the bridge. Once the strategic site is occupied, they cut off electricity to the town and set off a flare, a signal for the attack on the government-subsided Mercal food distribution outlet to begin. An armed group head there, leading a mobilisation; they open the gates and allow the looting to occur. Twenty-one tonnes of food are stolen.

Intermediary phase – April 21 to May 22

It is marked by almost daily, though smaller actions, including the setting up of roadblocks on the highway, charging tolls, looting trucks.

The support of the ranchers is explicit. They take meat to the roadblocks so that those participating can eat and stay the whole day.

It is an exercise in measuring the reaction of the state security forces, the time needed to reinforce their numbers, the reaction of the people.

One day stands out during this month: May 16. That day, they rob a truck with 1600 gas bottles, set them alight, attack a gas plant, the government-run agricultural supply outlet Agropatria and the state-owned Agricultural Bank, using the same method of cutting off electricity during the times of the attacks, which occur between 7pm and 5am.

They have access to radio transmitters, two drones, cars, motorbikes, satellite telephones, firearms, rifles with telescopic sight, chainsaws.

May 22

At 9am they hijack a PDVSA tanker truck and use it to cut off the highway. During the day, motorcyclists ride through the town, guns in hand, forcing shops to close. The lesson has been learnt: as shopkeepers see them arrive, they pull down the shutters.

The slogan repeated throughout the day on social media and in the streets is, “Fucking red rats, we are coming for you”, in reference to Chavistas. By now no one leaves home. The town has been almost completely taken over; the bridge is cut off until 6am the next day.

May 23

Actions occur simultaneously with events in Barinas. Socopo is cut off in both directions. Then comes the qualitative leap: the attack on the local command station of the state police. A group of 20 people with firearms, and a sniper, initiate the offensive. Behind them is a mob of approximately 150 people.

A shootout ensues for four hours – how many bullets are needed to last for this long? Six police officers are shot.

At the same time, in the same municipality, an assault is carried out on a detachment of the national police in Bum Bum, a few minutes away from Socopo.  Six police stations are attacked that day in the city of Barinas.

May 24

The police station is empty. The mob returns, sets it alight with petrol donated by a local trader, and then knocks it down with a backhoe lent to them by a rancher. They then advance with the backhoe, forcing open the shutters of shops that have not collaborated and looting them. They are led by a group of people in balaclavas and carrying guns.

They attack the Seniat tax office, Mercal and offices of the Barrio Nuevo Barrio Tricolor government housing project.

All access to Socopo is cut off. It has become a lawless town – that is how residents refer to it.

Many residents did not leave their homes for three days. Each night was pitch black, filled with the noise of gunshots and destruction. It was a campaign of terror, one of the methods of territorial control used by paramilitaries.

It was a demonstration of strength, of capacity to act and retreat by an armed force camouflaged as civilian; and an attempt to measure the response of the state, in particular its security forces.

This did not just occur in Socopo. Similar events occurred in Barinas, Valencia, San Antonio de Los Altos, Los Teques, La Grita, San Cristobal and other places in the country.

It was as if each town was converted into a battleground for one or more days. In places where paramilitaries have not taken hold, groups were dispatched to lead the campaigns.

These were actions with a symbolic and military impact, that sought to demonstrate to the right-wing’s base their power and how close they are to victory, and to impose terror and the sensation of a lack of protection in the Chavista ranks and the popular sectors.

This is the type of war they trialled between April 20 and the last days of May.

A new phase of violence

Starting in the second week of June, we have entered a new phase of violence.

Caracas has once again become the epicentre, with the objective of surrounding the Presidential Palace and generating a stirring sensation of being in reach of the final objective.  One of the distinctive marks of this phase is the combination of attacks in the west and east of the city, like a siege dealing multiple blows day-by-day, not allowing a moment’s rest.

One hypothesis is that in the next few days or weeks, all the tactics used since the start of April will be employed simultaneously: attacks on localities in the interior like the one in Socopo, roadblocks on main arterial highways, mobilisations from the east of Caracas, a show of force in popular neighbourhoods. It will be an attempt to unleash all the attacks simultaneously and generate a point of rupture.

Given what has occurred up until now, the plan will be accompanied by a political/media offensive, involving international support, the Attorney General (who has challenged the government in recent weeks) and the opposition-controlled National Assembly, in an attempt to press the accelerator on the clash between the different branches of the state.

This would create a combination of full-scale violence deployed across the country, with an extreme exacerbation of institutional conflict.

The possibility of a rupture grows. They have some 40 days to achieve it, according to some of their strategists.

This is the putschist route that the right has set out, the strategy of terror it has deployed. The question is: what should the government, the state security forces, Chavismo do?

It seems obvious that at the political level, the answer is to be found in the Constituent Assembly process; in ensuring it achieves deep-rooted popular support and a big vote on July 30.

But what about the violence? We can no longer allow ourselves to be taken by surprise.

The people, in their communities, are debating this issue.

June 19, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Trump Turns Back the Clock With Cold War Cuba U-Turn

By Ron Paul | June 19, 2017

Nostalgia seems to be very popular in Washington. While the neocons and Democratic Party hard-liners have succeeded in bringing back the Cold War with Russia, it looks like President Trump is determined to take us back to a replay of the Bay of Pigs!

In Miami on Friday, the president announced that he was slamming the door on one of President Obama’s few foreign policy successes: easing 50 years of US sanctions on Cuba. The nostalgia was so strong at Trump’s Friday speech that he even announced participants in the CIA’s disastrous 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in the audience!

President Trump said Friday that his new policy would be nothing short of “regime change” for Cuba. No easing of US sanctions on Cuba, he said, “until all political prisoners are freed, freedoms of assembly and expression are respected, all political parties are legalized, and free and internationally supervised elections are scheduled.”

Yes, this is the same Donald Trump who declared as president-elect in December that his incoming Administration would “pursue a new foreign policy that finally learns from the mistakes of the past. We will stop looking to topple regimes and overthrow governments.” Now, in another flip-flop toward the neocons, President Trump is pursuing regime change in Cuba on the pretext of human rights violations.

While the Cuban government may not have a spotless record when it comes to human rights, this is the same President Trump who just weeks ago heaped praise on perhaps the world’s worst human rights abuser, Saudi Arabia. There, he even participated in a bizarre ceremony to open a global anti-extremism center in the home of state-sponsored extremism!

While President Trump is not overturning all of President Obama’s Cuba policy reforms – the US Embassy will remain open – he will roll back the liberalization of travel restrictions and make it very difficult for American firms to do business in Cuba. Certainly foreign competitors of US construction and travel companies are thrilled by this new policy, as it keeps American businesses out of the market. How many Americans will be put out of work by this foolish political stunt?

There is a very big irony here. President Trump says that Cuba’s bad human rights record justifies a return to Cuba sanctions and travel prohibitions. But the US government preventing Americans from traveling and spending their own money wherever they wish is itself a violation of basic human rights. Historically it has been only the most totalitarian of regimes that prevent their citizens from traveling abroad. Think of East Germany, the Soviet Union, and North Korea. The US is not at war with Cuba. There is no reason to keep Americans from going where they please.

President Trump’s shift back to the bad old days on Cuba will not have the desired effect of liberalizing that country’s political environment. If it did not work for fifty years why does Trump think it will suddenly work today? If anything, a hardening of US policy on Cuba will prevent reforms and empower those who warned that the US could not be trusted as an honest partner. The neocons increasingly have President Trump’s ear, even though he was elected on promises to ignore their constant calls for war and conflict. How many more flip-flops before his supporters no longer recognize him?

June 19, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , | 1 Comment

The Legitimacy of Family Compensation for Palestinians Killed, Injured, and Imprisoned

The Legitimacy of Family Compensation for Palestinians Killed, Injured, and Imprisoned

By Kathryn Shihadah | If Americans Knew | June 19, 2017

JTA reports on what would seem to be a no-brainer: a bill requiring that aid money to the PA be withheld if the PA continues its Martyrs Fund or “pay to slay” policy. Of course nothing is quite as simple as meets the eye.

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Top Senate Democrats said they were closer to signing on to a Republican-backed bill that would slash aid to the Palestinian Authority if it did not stop subsidizing Palestinians jailed for attacks on Israel. [Ed. note: Info on bill is here]

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer told attendants at the Orthodox Union’s annual Washington action day on Thursday that he would support the Taylor Force Act or legislation similar to it if the Trump administration is unable to get the Palestinian Authority to stop the payments. [Ed. note: Senator Schumer is a major advocate for Israel; see video.]

“Abbas has to stop making payments to terrorists and their families, and all elected officials should call them out,” Schumer said.

Also edging closer to endorsing the legislation was Senator Ben Cardin, top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The United States now gives the Palestinian Authority about $500 million in annual aid. The bill, which was introduced by Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham, would only leave the portion for security assistance — about $60 million in 2013. Cruz also attended the Orthodox Union event.

“We’re going to find a way to pass the Taylor Force Act,” Senator Cardin said, suggesting that he wanted changes to the bill before he could fully endorse it. The measure was named for the American killed in a 2016 stabbing attack in Tel Aviv.

The Taylor Force Bill “prohibits certain assistance…from being made available for the West Bank and Gaza” unless the State Department is satisfied that the PA is working to end violence against US and Israeli citizens, is publicly condemning such acts and cooperating in investigating them, and has “terminated payments for acts of terrorism.” (Here is a list of cosponsors of the bill.)

If the bill becomes law, the US may withhold 88% of aid to the Palestinian Authority until it complies.

Economics of occupation

Israel has also withheld money from the PA in the past—tax revenues that are collected by Israel but that actually belong to the Palestinians, about $125 million per month. For example, funds were held back by Israel in November 2012 as a punishment for the UN vote which brought de facto recognition of Palestine’s statehood, and again in January 2015 as a penalty for Palestine’s application to join the ICC.

The transfers are an important revenue source for the cash-strapped Palestinian government.

Palestinians already suffer economically from the hardship of a brutal fifty-year occupation. According to a study by the UN Conference on Trade and Development, agriculture and industry have suffered huge losses. One reason is the inaccessibility of “Area C,” which accounts for over 60% of West Bank land (66% of its grazing land) and is off-limits to Palestinians. The report estimates that “the occupation of Area C costs the Palestinian economy the equivalent of 35% OF GDP.”

Gaza is also barred from half of its farmland and 85% of its fishery resources. Over 2.5 million productive trees have been vandalized or uprooted since 1967; 82% of Palestinian groundwater has been confiscated by Israel, and must be bought back by Palestinians at inflated prices.

Even tourism has been “annexed”: Israel has “rebranded” popular West Bank sites as being in the “Holy Land,” obscuring their Palestinian identity. Israeli tour guides control most visitors, making it easy to take a day trip to Bethlehem, but then stay in an Israeli hotel.

Adding to its many economic advantages, Israel garners $10 million a day in aid from the United States, compared to the $500 million per year that Palestine receives now and is in danger of losing.

Israel uses its huge aid budget to finance the occupation and fight wars with Gaza—both of which are illegal according to international law and condemned by almost every country in the world. Its assaults on women and children, as well as noncombatant men, is well documented. For example, the Middle East Children’s Alliance reported that “1,518 Palestinian children were killed by Israel’s occupation forces from the outbreak of the second Intifada in September 2000 up to April 2013… meanwhile the number of children injured by the Israelis since the start of the Second Intifada against Israel’s occupation has now reached 6,000. That number means that one Palestinian child was killed by Israel every 3 days for almost 13 years.”

However, Israeli leaders argue that the “hate-filled climate” against Israel was created not by occupation and war, but by “fiery speeches” by Palestinian leaders and “venomous” Facebook posts.

Compensation in the event of death or injury

Payment to the family of a service member killed or injured in the line of duty is a common practice. In America, for example, families receive a one-time payment to help surviving members deal with financial hardships connected with the loss of their loved one. This “death gratuity” is currently $100K.

Israel too has a compensation program for families of IDF soldiers killed or injured in the line of duty.

Because the Palestinian Territories are forbidden from having armed forces, their resistance against the occupation is carried out by civilians. In the event of their death, injury, or imprisonment their families face the same type of struggles that any service member’s family would face, and the Palestinian Authority provides for them through the so-called “Martyrs Fund.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to withhold revenue from the PA until the fund is dismantled, as he considers these payments “an incentive for murder.”

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, leading sponsor of the Taylor Force bill, fails to make the connection between the US and Israeli compensation programs and the Palestinian Martyrs Fund, declaring that “the practice is inconsistent with American values, inconsistent with peace, and inconsistent with decency.”

Not a reward for violence

Nasser Tarayreh, whose son was killed after stabbing an Israeli girl, explains, “I don’t think anyone is willing to sacrifice his life for money. And for us as a family, all the money in the world won’t replace my son.” In fact, the money would be needed to provide shelter soon, as their home was scheduled for demolition—an Israeli practice in retribution against the families of attackers. Nasser will receive $350 a month from the Martyr’s Fund.

Many “martyrs” were not killers or attackers, but were themselves killed while walking to school, participating in a peaceful demonstration, or sleeping in their beds. If they died as a result of Israel’s brutality, they bear the title of martyr.

The fund also compensates families of prisoners and detainees. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network reported that “the Israeli occupation arrested 6,440 Palestinians in 2016, including 1,332 children and 164 women,” in addition to members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and journalists.

The fund had a budget of $170 million in 2016 and makes monthly payments to about 35,000 Palestinian families. Qadora Fares, who works with the system, explains, “This is a kind of social protection for the family. The children of the prisoners and martyrs and wounded have the right to go to schools, hospitals and get food.”

Fox News reported that the Washington Post strongly condemned the support of victims’ families in the Palestinian resistance. Fox quoted the WP as saying, “The PA is running a bounty system. Payments to terrorists and their families are enshrined in Palestinian law, provided for in the PA budget, and indirectly supported by foreign aid…incentivizing the murder of civilians is barbarism…”

It should be noted that this quote is not from a WP journalist, but part of an opinion piece by Israel partisan Thane Rosenbaum. Ironically, Rosenbaum authored Payback: The Case for Revenge, a book presenting the theory that “if the law won’t set things right, which it so often fails to do, then it’s ok, indeed moral, for us to do so ourselves”—a theory with which many Palestinians would, to Rosenbaum’s dismay, agree. Rosenbaum has elsewhere implied that a child whose father works for Hamas is actually a target by association, and that therefore it is morally acceptable to kill children.

Daniel Larison of the American Conservative said in his review of Payback, “Rosenbaum’s argument is extremely similar to the justifications that terrorist groups use when they target civilians in their own attacks…It is very important to reject this logic no matter where it comes from or whose cause in a conflict it is being used to advance, because this is the logic that has been used to justify countless atrocities down through the years.”

Origin of violence

In an interview for the Institute for Palestine Studies, Palestinian psychiatrist Eyad al Sarraj explained that many Palestinians who turn to violence have themselves witnessed great violence perpetrated on their families. “During the first intifada, studies showed that 55 percent of the children had witnessed their fathers being humiliated or beaten by Israeli soldiers.

“The psychological impact of this is stunning. The father, normally the authority figure, comes to be seen as somebody who is helpless, who can’t even protect himself–let alone his children. So children became more militant, more violent… The militant ones believe that if they die as suicide fighters in the struggle for justice, they are conquering defeat and death itself.” Sarraj continued, “they wouldn’t turn their bodies into bombs if they had F-16s, Apache helicopters, tanks, or a tiny fraction of the weapons Israel gets from the United States.”

Sarraj describes violence as a manifestation of a deep-seated issue: “Suicide bombings and all these forms of violence–I’m talking as a doctor here–are only the symptoms, the reaction to this chronic and systematic process of humiliating people in effort to destroy their hope and dignity. That is the illness, and unless it is resolved and treated, there will be more and more symptoms of the pathology.”

Sarraj expressed deep opposition to Palestinian violence, but distinguished between the martyrs and their families: “As a Palestinian, as an Arab, as a Muslim, and as a human being, I feel obliged to support them. I cannot leave their children in poverty–I have to do what I can to leave them some hope and dignity.”

The face of the Fund

One story that illustrates both the tragedy that qualifies Palestinians for the Martyrs Fund and the experience that produces even more martyrs, is that of Abu Jameh. At dinnertime on July 20th 2014, Israeli planes bombed an apartment building in Gaza, killing 24 members of a family—a woman, her son, four of her daughters-in-law, and 18 of her grandchildren. One member of Hamas was also present for the meal. Abu Jameh who survived but was injured, lost his pregnant wife and six of his seven children. He reflected, “there is nothing left. It is the end for us,” and added later, “I will marry again four times, and I will have 10 sons with each wife, and they will all be in the resistance.”

Emmanuel Nahshon, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman got it wrong when he stated, “Terror has become a comfortable business for families.”

June 19, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment

US seeks to keep communication with Russia over Syria ongoing – White House

RT | June 19, 2017

The US seeks to keep open the communication channels with Russia over Syria but says it retains the right to self defense, according to the White House spokesman. Moscow suspended military cooperation following the US-led coalition’s downing of a Syrian warplane.

“It’s important and crucial that we keep lines of communication open to deconflict potential issues,” Sean Spicer told reporters on Monday.

While seeking to keep contacts between the US and Russian military ongoing, the US-led coalition emphasized that it retains the right to “self-defense” amid the news and added tensions, the spokesman added.

Spicer’s statement echoed the comments made earlier on Monday by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, US Marine General Joseph Dunford, who said the US is working to reestablish communications with Russia in Syria, aimed at preventing possible incidents between the two countries’ troops.

“We’ll work diplomatically and military in the coming hours to reestablish deconfliction,” Dunford said at a news conference, adding, that the contacts between Russian forces in Syria and a US air operations center in Qatar were still open as of Monday morning.

Moscow announced on Monday afternoon the decision to pause cooperation with its American counterparts in the framework of the Memorandum on the Prevention of Incidents and Ensuring Air Safety in Syria following the coalition’s downing of a Syrian Su-22 warplane on Sunday.

“In the areas of combat missions of Russian air fleet in Syrian skies, any airborne objects, including aircraft and unmanned vehicles of the [US-led] international coalition, located to the west of the Euphrates River, will be tracked by Russian ground and air defense forces as air targets,” the Russian Ministry of Defense stated, condemning the downing of the Su-22 jet as a “cynical” violation of Syria’s sovereignty.

The US military did not use the communication line with Russia during the attack on the Syrian Su-22, despite the fact that Russian warplanes were in the area during the US strike, the ministry underlined.

Earlier, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov branded the attack on the Syrian jet as an act of aggression which in fact helped the terrorists the US says its trying to destroy.

The US-led coalition shot-down the Syrian Su-22 warplane on Sunday, when it was carrying out operations against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) some 40km from Raqqa, the Russian Defense Ministry said. The US military, however, claimed that the jet “dropped bombs near” US-backed Kurdish SDF militants. The pilot ejected from the plane above IS-controlled territory and is still missing.

READ MORE:

US-led coalition’s downing of Syrian plane ‘act of aggression’ & ‘support for terrorists’ – Moscow

Russian military halts Syria sky incident prevention interactions with US as of June 19 – Moscow

June 19, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Israel revisits Qalqilya expansion plan

Image of an Israeli military bulldozer demolishing a Palestinian home in Qalqilya, West Bank [Apaimages]
MEMO June 19, 2017

Israel’s Channel 2 said the Israeli government will reconsider a previous decision to allow the expansion of the occupied Palestinian city of Qalqilya in the north of the West Bank.

The plan would see 14,000 new apartments built on 2,500 dunams (2.5 square kilometres) in Israeli-controlled Area C surrounding the city and would potentially double the city’s population from 50,000 to 110,000.

The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office said the plan was proposed during the visit of US President Donald Trump to the region in May.

Qalqilya, which is surrounded by illegal Israeli settlements, is overcrowded.

Channel 2 reported that the plan has stirred widespread controversy in Tel Aviv, especially among settlers who claimed it would “harm the settlers’ quality of life and security”.

The area owned by the people of Qalqilya is classified as Area C under the Oslo agreement signed between Israel and the PLO in 1992. Under this classification, the land is under Israeli security and administrative control.

Read: Israel to approve 2,500 new settlement units in occupied West Bank

June 19, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

EU: Another Step Down the Slippery Slope

By Andrei AKULOV | Strategic Culture Foundation | 19.06.2017

The EU Commission has launched legal action against Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland which refused to take in refugees from Italy and Greece. The three EU states have acted «in breach of their legal obligations», the Commission said in a statement, adding that it had previously warned the countries to observe «their commitments to Greece, Italy and other member states». The three member states «have not yet relocated a single person», the statement says. The EU members under fire remain defiant.

In September 2015, the EU committed to relocating up to 160,000 refugees from the two countries within two years. However, not all EU states have found the measures acceptable, saying that the migrant crisis cannot be solved through obligatory quotas. Hungary and Slovakia are currently challenging the decision in the EU Court of Justice, and an advocate-general of the court will issue an opinion on July 26. Slovakia was able to avoid legal action against it by responding to EU warnings and opening its doors to a small group of migrants.

Only 20,869 of the 160,000 refugees have so far been relocated in the EU. More than 1.6 million asylum seekers have arrived in Europe since the start of the refugee crisis in 2014.

Now the Commission has launched infringement procedures against the three nations refusing to comply, before possibly referring them to the top European court. The legal battle could last many months or, even, years. As a result, the three states could be imposed financial penalties.

The very fact of launching legal procedures heats up tensions inside the EU at the time the bloc is going through a period of instability and uncertainty, with its unity tested by Brexit, weak economies and growing support for Eurosceptic and nationalist-minded parties.

Perhaps, it’s easier to pay fines than take in refugees and face grave security problems as a result. Going to the bottom of it – it’s not fines that really matter. All the countries opposing the EU migration policy are net beneficiaries of EU funding. A mood is developing among the older EU members to withhold cohesion funds from countries that oppose the relocation of refugees, although no legal basis for this actually exists. But if it starts, the EU will become a battlefield to make the vaunted unity a pipedream. If the events turn this way, the EU will become very much different from what it is today.

The Visegrád countries (V4) – Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary – have found common ground in recent years opposing the EU’s relocation policy and rejecting the idea of a two-speed Europe, but also in advocating the preservation of the Union’s cohesion policy. Indeed, why should East Europeans share the burden of the immigration crisis, especially in view that security policy is a national, not European, competence? These countries call for strengthening of the national states in EU decision-making process.

Poland and Hungary have joined together recently to oppose Brussels stance on human rights.

The V4 also oppose the two-speed» and «multi-speed» concepts supported by EU founders. They believe that the idea would turn them into «second class» members of the bloc.

The «East European revolt» is just part of a bigger process with deepening EU divisions and alliances being formed inside the alliance.

Prospect for the future? The situation inside the EU has bleak prospects for improvement. It calls for a closer look at the recent developments inside the EU. In February, the European Parliament backed three resolutions on strengthening centralization of the bloc. One of the resolutions proposes limiting or even totally abolishing the right of individual member states not to comply with collective decisions – just exactly what the East European members oppose so vehemently. The adoption of the resolutions may be the first step towards a fundamental change in the EU Treaty.

In February, leaders of the lower chambers of parliaments of Germany, Italy, France, and Luxembourg published a letter demanding a «Federal Union» be implemented without delay. It was published by Italian La Stampa on February 27. They call for «closer political integration — the Federal Union of States with broad powers. «Those who believe in European ideals, should be able to give them a new life instead of helplessly observing its slow sunset», the paper reads.

The idea to create a «common European defense» is a dubious endeavor; it presupposes additional financial burden at the time the US increases pressure to make Europeans raise NATO expenditure. Add to this the need to pay more for the migrants against the background of stagnating economy to see how unrealistic all these plans are. Europeans have already been made pay more for US liquefied gas for political reasons, while Russia can offer supplies at much lower prices.

Guy Verhofstadt, the former Belgian Prime Minister and European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator, believes that the European Union must reform, or face the risk of collapse as a result of internal and external challenges. Noam Chomsky, a prominent US scholar, has predicted that the EU will disintegrate. The EU will collapse in 2017, predicts Mark Blyth, a lecturer in political economy at Brown University in the US, known for forecasts to come true.

The event marks a turning point in EU history. This is the first time EU members will face legal procedures for non-compliance with the rules established by Brussels. It shows how the migration crisis has divided the bloc. The process will not die away, migrants will continue their route north to the wealthier countries and the tensions inside the EU will grow. Rival blocs and perpetuate divisions will not disappear, turning the EU into a patchwork of blocs within blocs. The project of European integration does not look viable anymore. Legal actions cannot bridge the differences dividing its members.

June 19, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exploitation of children in propaganda war against Syria continues

By Eva Bartlett | RT | June 19, 2017

In December 2016, filmmakers in Egypt were arrested in the process of staging an Aleppo video with two children: the girl was meant to look injured, and the boy was to vilify both Russia and Syria.

Even the corporate media reported on it, including: “The girl’s dress, covered in red paint, was what caught the attention of a police officer driving by, the ministry said.”

The incidences of fakery and hoaxes, however, does not end there.

Also in December, the scene of a ‘Girl running to survive after her family had been killed’ was said to be in Aleppo. In reality, it was a scene from a Lebanese music video, which someone at some point clearly chose to depict as in Aleppo, for the same anti-Russian, anti-Assad vilification purposes.

In November 2014, a clip dubbed ‘Syrian hero boy’ went viral, viewed over 5 million times already by mid-November. The clip showed what appeared to be a little boy saving his sister from sniper gunfire, and was assumed to have been in Syria.

The Telegraph’s Josie Ensor didn’t wait for any sort of verification of the video which she cited as having been uploaded on November 10, the next day writing: “… it is thought the incident took place in Yabroud – a town near the Lebanese border which was the last stronghold of the moderate Free Syrian Army. Experts tell the paper they have no reason to doubt its authenticity. The UN has previously accused the Syrian regime of ‘crimes against humanity’ – including the use of snipers against small children.”

On November 14, the BBC brought on ‘Middle East specialist’ Amira Galal to give her expert opinion on the clip. She asserted: “We can definitely say that it is Syria, and we can definitely say that it’s probably on the regime frontlines. We see in the footage that there is a barrel, it’s painted on it the Syrian army flag.”

Once again, the so-called ‘experts’ got it wrong. The barrel which Galal referred to had a poor imitation of the flag of Syria painted on it, the flag’s color sequence out of order. The clip she was so certain had been filmed in government areas of Syria was actually produced in Malta by Norwegian filmmakers.

From Video to Twitter Hoaxes

In the propaganda war on Syria, there are convincing lies, and then there are the blindingly clear hoaxes. In the latter realm, the Bana al-Abed Twitter persona takes first prize. The child is being abused by her own family who have seemingly forced her to pretend she can speak English (she cannot).

We were meant to believe that sophisticated and nuanced tweets, often calling for Western intervention, are coming from an English-illiterate seven-year-old girl or her mother — whose husband was a militant in Aleppo.

In a detailed article, Barbara McKenzie looks at the campaign which uses the brand Bana for war propaganda. An excerpt includes: “Bana, the little girl supposedly tweeting from Aleppo, but actually the front for an account run from London, was selected to be the empathetic face of the campaign for a no-fly zone in Syria. Her account was tailored to create the impression of perpetual bombing, perpetual war crimes, on the part of Russia and the Syrian government.”

Bana not only tweeted with impossible frequency from eastern Aleppo, defying any internet lapses those of us who have gone to Aleppo have experienced. Whatever the actual explanation for her alleged preciousness and high-tech abilities, the child was clearly exploited, and continues to be.

Her twitter account continues its advocacy for Western intervention in Syria. Not at all suspicious.

Real Poster Children Brutally Beheaded, Sniped, Starved, Maimed

Effective war propaganda tugs at the heart strings, using many tactics, including adorable children in threatening situations, or dead, and comes hand in hand with condemnations for crimes committed, allegedly, by the villain(s) being caricatured. In the following instances, children being injured or murdered did occur, but the condemnations were muted or not at all.

A few weeks prior to the photo of Omran Daqneesh going viral as the poster child for suffering in Syria, terrorists of the Nour al-Din al-Zenki faction beheaded a boy said to be around 12 years old.

Although the decapitators filmed the entire savage act, posing for gleeful selfies as they tortured the boy prior to murdering him, leaders and media in the US took little notice of the horrific slaughter. Ten days after the questionable events which led to the light injury of Omran, two young boys in the Idlib villages of Foua and Kafraya were shot in their head and neck respectively by a sniper from Jaysh al-Fateh terrorists in the village of Binnish close by. The injuries were serious. They were rendered even more serious given that the villages had been completely surrounded and fully under siege by terrorists since March 2015.

In April 2017, a convoy of children, women, elderly and ill being evacuated from Foua were attacked by a terrorist explosion, with reports over 200 murdered, including 116 children. The attack included luring with potato chips and filming children in the convoy before later blowing them up and claiming to be rescuing them. Not only did these terrorists murder civilians and children, but they staged the scene to then look like heroes.

Indeed, in the West this massacre was called a “hiccup” and little denunciation was made about the vast numbers of dead, let alone the injured.

In October, 2016, Press TV was one of the few outlets to report on another adorable Aleppo boy, Mahmoud, “a six-year-old Syrian boy who was born without arms, and recently lost both of his legs after stepping on a mine planted by militants in Syria’s Aleppo.” The report includes scenes of Mahmoud showing his resilience, adjusting to life without any limbs. But for corporate media, Mahmoud’s were the wrong villains.

Terrorist bombings and snipings have killed children in schools and homes throughout Syria over the years, including the October 2014 terrorist car and suicide bombing of the Akrama Al-Makhzoumi School in Homs, killing at least 41 children by conservative estimates, or up to 48 children by other reports, along with women and other civilians, as well as attacks on Aleppo schools, as I detailed earlier.

In Aleppo and in Damascus, I have visited numerous hospitals and seen endless poster children of suffering in Syria. The differences between these children and those which Western and Gulf media present us, is that these children were murdered, rendered critically-injured, or maimed by the bombs, mortars and snipings of terrorists which the West presents as “moderate rebels”, so their stories will never be front page, much less heard.

The Bitter Truth

The Western and Gulf media work in lockstep with the narratives emanating from Washington on Syria. It is not coincidental that certain photos and stories of Syrian children go viral, while other more damning photos and sordid realities get no notice period.

Regarding the Omran case, we now know that he was not gravely hurt as media tried to imply, that his family have gone back to their lives in Aleppo, and the exploitation and lies around Omran cannot continue.

When I met them on June 6th, they showed no signs of the duress which terrorists and their backers—which include Western corporate media—claim. Instead, some neighbors were over, discussing media fabrications around Omran.

However, the children who are believed to have been exploited and used in the 2013 Ghouta chemical weapons fabrications remain missing and have not gone back to their lives, nor have their families in the Latakia countryside.

In March 2017, physicians with Swedish Doctors for Human Rights, after examining a White Helmet’s video, wrote: “… Swedish medical doctors, specialists in various fields, including pediatrics, have revealed that the life-saving procedures seen in the film are incorrect – in fact life-threatening – or seemingly fake, including simulated resuscitation techniques being used on already lifeless children.”

The article noted that Dr Lena Oske, a Swedish medical doctor and general practitioner, said of an adrenaline injection shown in the video, “If not already dead, this injection would have killed the child!”

While in al-Waer, Homs, on June 9, 2017, speaking with a woman who had returned not long after the last terrorist had been bused out in the government’s reconciliation agreement, she told me a story of her friend from the area. Bearing in mind that this is second hand information (and that I didn’t have time to stay another day to meet the friend in question), I’ll leave her words and this 2012 link as food for thought regarding the use of children, alive or day, for war propaganda against Syria: “In 2014, my friend’s son, Louay was leaving his school. A mortar fell on the street nearby and he was hit with shrapnel. The Red Crescent took him in an ambulance to al-Bour, a nearby aid association, which couldn’t treat him, so he was taken to a government hospital in al-Zahra’a. They tried to save him, but he died.

They took him back to al-Bour where they cleaned him for burial. While my friend was waiting, people from al-Bour carried him onto the street yelling the regime killed him, look what the regime does to children.'”

Later, she saw on both al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya footage of her son, with men blaming the “regime” for killing children in Syria.

But she didn’t agree. The government helped her son and tried to save his life. He was 7 years old.

Eva Bartlett is a freelance journalist and rights activist with extensive experience in the Gaza Strip and Syria. Her writings can be found on her blog, In Gaza.

June 19, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

Israel secretly aiding Syria militants: Wall Street Journal

Press TV – June 19, 2017

Israel has been providing Takfiri terrorists in Syria’s Golan Heights with a steady flow of funds and medical supplies as part of Tel Aviv’s involvement in the bloody conflict, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The paper, citing half a dozen militant commanders and three persons familiar with Israel’s thinking, said Israel’s “secret engagement” in the war aims to install a buffer zone on the Syrian border with elements friendly to Tel Aviv.

The report quoted prominent Israeli journalist and analyst Ehud Ya’ari as saying that Israel’s operation in the occupied Golan Heights started under former minister of military affairs Moshe Ya’alon.

Israel, the Journal said, established a special military unit in 2016 to oversee and coordinate the transfer of aid to militants. According to the report, the aid helps pay salaries of the terrorists and buy weapons and ammunition.

“Israel stood by our side in a heroic way,” a spokesman for the militant group Fursan al-Joulan, Moatasem al-Golani, said, adding “We wouldn’t have survived without Israel’s assistance.”

The commander identified by the nom de guerre Abu Suhayb who leads the terrorist group told the Journal that he receives about $5,000 a month from Israel.

Fursan al-Joulan which has approximately 400 militants in Quneitra province situated in the Golan Heights said at least four allied militant groups also receive Israeli aid.

Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria after the 1967 Six-Day War and later occupied it in a move that has never been recognized by the international community.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Tel Aviv regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri militant groups wreaking havoc in Syria.

Last April, Syrian officials and locals confiscated a vehicle loaded with Israeli-manufactured weapons bound for Daesh terrorists in the Arab country’s southern province of Suwayda. The vehicle was heading to the eastern Badiya desert from eastern Dara’a Province.

Israel has been treating the wounded militants from Syria in its medical centers and hospitals since the outbreak of the conflict in March 2011. Syrian sources have frequently reported that after receiving treatment at the Israeli hospitals, the militants return to Syria to continue their acts of sabotage and terror.

Israel has spent millions of dollars for the treatment of militants injured in fighting with Syrian government forces, documents from Israeli hospitals have shown.

The regime has also carried out multiple attacks on Syrian government positions since the militancy erupted in 2011. Damascus says the raids aim to help Takfiri militants fighting against government forces.

June 19, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , | Leave a comment

US-led coalition’s downing of Syrian plane ‘act of aggression’ & ‘support for terrorists’ – Moscow

RT | June 19, 2017

Moscow views the US-led coalition’s attack on the Syrian government military jet as an act of aggression and assistance for the terrorists that the US is fighting against, according to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov.

“What is it then, if not an act of aggression, an act directly in breach of international law,” Ryabkov told journalists in Moscow.

“If you want, it’s actually help for the terrorists the US is fighting, declaring that they are conducting a counterterrorism policy,” the official added.

Ryabkov added that he believed the strike “should be first of all regarded as the continuation of the US agenda of neglecting the norms of international law. Regardless of who has power in Washington, people there are used to the fact that there are circumstances allowing them to arrogantly look down on – and in some situations, to openly ignore – the basics of international relations.”

A Syrian SU-22 warplane was shot down by a US F/A-18E Super Hornet on Sunday while it was on a mission in the countryside around Raqqa.

Damascus stated that the plane was carrying out operations against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists when it was downed.

Washington says that the Syrian warplane “dropped bombs near SDF fighters south of Tabqah” and was shot down in accordance with “rules of engagement” of Coalition partnered forces.

Earlier, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov urged US forces in Syria and those of any other country to refrain from unilateral, uncoordinated action.

“We call on the US and all others who have their forces or advisers on the ground in Syria to ensure the coordination of our work,” he said.

De-escalation zones are one of the possible options to move forward jointly, he said.

“We call on everyone to avoid unilateral moves, respect Syrian sovereignty and join our common work, which is agreed with the Syrian government,” Lavrov said.

He also called on everyone on the ground to “respect Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

In June, the US deployed HIMARS long-range rocket launchers from Jordan to its base in At Tanf in southern Syria. The move may be intended to cut off Syrian government troops from allies in Iraq, since there are no Islamic State militants in the region to target with the weapons, Lavrov said following the deployment.

In April, US President Donald Trump ordered a Tomahawk missile strike on Syria’s Shayrat Airbase, claiming this was in response to alleged chemical weapons use by President Bashar Assad’s forces, before anyone had the chance to verify this via an investigation.

Last September, a coalition airstrike on Syrian government forces’ positions near the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor left more than 60 Syrian soldiers dead.

READ MORE:

US-led coalition downs Syrian army plane in southern Raqqa

Lavrov: No ISIS troops in southern Syria where US deployed multiple rocket launchers

Russian military halts Syria sky incident prevention interactions with US as of June 19 – Moscow

June 19, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

CONFIRMED: Kurdish forces are now the enemy of Syria

By Adam Garrie | The Duran | June 19, 2017

Those who said that Kurdish forces did not mean Syria harm have been proved manifestly incorrect.

Many have long suspected that Kurdish forces fighting ISIS in Syria are doing so in pursuit of a uniquely self-interested goal, that of carving out a large autonomous region from legal Syrian territory or otherwise unilaterally proclaiming an independent state on sovereign Syrian soil.

Now, the Kurdish dominated and strongly US backed SDF has confirmed that it will “retaliate” against any incursions of the Syrian Arab Army into what it now considers its territory.

This is proto-annexation in all but name. The only troops who have the ultimate right to move anywhere they want within Syria and attack any and all targets that the government feels are a threat to Syrian security and sovereignty are the forces of the Syrian Arab Army and their allies.

Any ally who acts unilaterally is de-facto no longer an ally but an aggressor and a security risk.

According to SDF spokesperson Talal Selowas,

“Since June 17, 2017, the regime’s forces…have mounted large-scale attacks using planes, artillery, and tanks in regions liberated by our fighters during battles for the city of Tabqa and the Euphrates Dam three months ago”.

Selowas furthermore promised “retaliation” for Syrian troops moving as they see fit In Syria.

The statement from the SDF makes it abundantly clear that they intend to keep the territory they have “liberated”. From the Syrian perspective, an occupational force of Syrian territory which refuses to allow Syria free movement of its forces on its own territory is acting as an aggressor. Any state in the world would view this in the same manner, just ask any US historian of the American Civil War.

As Kurdish forces are now unambiguously American proxies, this development has confirmed once and for all that American mission creep has led to attempts by US proxies to do what ISIS have been doing for years: illegally occupying Syrian territory with the goal of annexation.

June 19, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , | 1 Comment

What Phillip Williamson Forgot To Tell You

By Paul Homewood | Not A Lot Of People Know That | June 17, 2017

The Spectator has published an article by Dr Phillip Williamson, who works at the University of East Anglia as a science coordinator for the Natural Environment Research Council.

image

Readers of The Spectator will be familiar with the argument that climate change, like Britpop, ended in 1998. Raised on a diet of Matt Ridley and James Delingpole, you may have convinced yourself that climate scientists, for their own selfish reasons, continue to peddle a theory that is unsupported by real-world evidence.

You may also have picked up the idea that the ‘green blob’, as it has been called in these pages, is somehow suppressing the news that global warming is a dead parrot. That was the case made by Dr David Whitehouse, science editor of Lord Lawson’s Global Warming Policy Forum in a Spectator blog in February last year. He accused the world’s media of ignoring a paper in Nature Climate Change which concluded that the rise in global surface temperature had stalled, contrary to the narrative of man-made climate change. In contrast, an earlier paper by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Science magazine, which questioned the existence of that hiatus, had been given huge coverage.

Those of us who work in climate research do not, of course, ignore evidence. A study published in Nature Climate Change does not go unnoticed. But the particular paper to which Whitehouse referred does not counter the reality of man-made change. By the time he wrote his piece, the hiatus in global air temperatures had already come to a blistering halt. The years 2014, 2015 and 2016 were the three hottest years on record — an unprecedented run.

But this is only part of the story. Anyone who considers climate change to be all about air temperatures at the Earth’s land surface misses something rather important. The evidence is not just blowing in the wind; it is 500 fathoms deep.

As a land species, it’s hardly surprising that we’re more concerned about what’s going on in the atmosphere than with conditions under the sea — but in the context of global warming that’s a big mistake. Around 93 per cent of the extra heat gained by the Earth over the past 50 years has sunk into the ocean, while 3 per cent has made ice melt, and 3 per cent has warmed the land. Only around 1 per cent has stayed in the atmosphere. So if we just measure air temperatures, we’re looking in the wrong place for climate change. Recent analyses by the World Meteorological Organisation and independent researchers have looked at deep-ocean as well as sea-surface temperatures, and both groups found that significant increases in total ocean heat content began around 1980, continuing more rapidly after 1998.

Not all the heat which is absorbed by the ocean stays there. Changes in circulation in the Pacific involve warm water shifting towards South America, raising air temperatures as it does so. Such El Niño events have contributed to the sharp rise in global air temperatures over the past three years.

The apparent slowdown in global temperature rise in the early years of this century was nothing more than the Earth’s climate system expressing its natural variability. Like the weather in London, the Earth’s climate is fickle: what we see in the climate from year to year is much like what we see in the weather from day to day, or week to week. The years between 1998 and 2013 were the equivalent of a spell of cool weather following a heatwave. Yet all the while, taking air and ocean heat content combined, the Earth was warming. Now that the most recent El Niño event has ended, global air temperatures ought to be falling, but they aren’t. The world saw its third hottest January ever, followed by the second hottest February, March and April. The atmosphere and the ocean are warming in tandem, as predicted by climate models.

It is not easy to measure how much extra heat has entered the ocean as a result of human influences on the climate. Given that seawater is around 1,000 times as dense as air, small increases in water temperature represent a huge amount of heat being absorbed. It’s tough to demonstrate a whole-ocean average temperature increase of less than 0.1°C in about 1.4 billion cubic km of seawater. Tough, but not impossible — steadily, scientists have managed to complete the picture. Four years ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that such ocean warming was ‘virtually certain’. Following new findings of recent weeks and months, the qualifier ‘virtually’ is now unnecessary, putting to bed any contention that global warming ended in 1998 — it is just that for a while the main effect was on water, not air, temperatures.

What happens in the ocean matters, because rising sea temperatures reinforce climate change in several ways. Warmer sea water can release methane trapped on the sea floor. Some of it finds its way to the surface and into the atmosphere, where it acts as a greenhouse gas, trapping heat — at least 30 times more effectively than carbon dioxide. Warmer water also means less sea ice. That matters, because ice reflects the sun’s rays. With less sea ice, the ocean will absorb even more heat. As the ocean warms, it expands, lifting coastal ice-shelves and making it easier for glaciers to slip into the sea. New analyses now suggest that sea levels could rise by up to a metre, and maybe more, in our children’s lifetimes.

Genuine scepticism can be constructive, since science responds to challenges by obtaining new evidence to test ideas. But those who summarily dismiss evidence when it has become overwhelming no longer deserve the name sceptics — it’s then out-and-out denial. There is no hoax; scientists like me gain nothing from exaggeration.

Yet the worst-case scenarios are not inevitable. They can be averted by action to reduce, and eventually end, greenhouse gas emissions. While Donald Trump and others might dismiss inconvenient truths, science is now in no doubt that the planet is warming, and that there is a need to take action on a worldwide basis. The Paris agreement will be the future, whereas the so-called global-warming hiatus is already history.

https://www.spectator.co.uk/2017/06/the-great-myth-of-the-global-warming-pause/

What could have been a constructive essay has depressingly ended up as a cheap propaganda piece.

He grossly misrepresents the position of David Whitehouse and Matt Ridley, to all intents dismissing them as “deniers”. Neither denies the greenhouse effect, but they believe there is a proper debate to be had about climate sensitivity and effects.

But to Williamson, there is only one gospel, and others shall not be heard.

He claims, by the time he [Whitehouse] wrote his piece, the hiatus in global air temperatures had already come to a blistering halt. The years 2014, 2015 and 2016 were the three hottest years on record — an unprecedented run.

This may be true for the widely discredited surface temperature record, but not according to satellite data for the atmosphere, which shows last year as only in a statistical tie with 1998.

It is, of course, Williamson’s prerogative to refer to surface data, but he needs to explain why he chooses to ignore the satellite data. To make no reference at all to data, which would undermine his argument, is not the behaviour one associates with a proper scientist.

He goes on to say, now that the most recent El Niño event has ended, global air temperatures ought to be falling, but they aren’t.

This is totally untrue, global temperatures have fallen back by half a degree and more since the El Nino peaked last year, and are back to levels seen in the years after 2001.

[Click on here for clearer image]

The heart of the Williamson article however concerns oceans and how they are somehow hiding the missing heat.

However, things are not quite as black and white as he makes out.

We only have ARGO data since 2004, which is far too short a period to be drawing conclusions from. Prior to that, we had very little idea what was happening to ocean heat content.

It is certainly debatable just how much we know now.

He states, it’s tough to demonstrate a whole-ocean average temperature increase of less than 0.1°C in about 1.4 billion cubic km of seawater. Tough, but not impossible — steadily, scientists have managed to complete the picture.

In fact, the temperature increase detected is much less than 0.1C, approximately 0.02C since 2004.

It is certainly questionable whether any statistical significance can be attached to such a small amount at all, or whether such a figure is genuinely detectable.

http://climate4you.com/

Then there is the question of just what is causing this increase in ocean temperatures, if it really exists.

He claims that around 93 per cent of the extra heat gained by the Earth over the past 50 years has sunk into the ocean. Unfortunately this is just mumbo jumbo. It is a physical fact that long wave radiation can only penetrate the top few millimeters of the ocean, where any warming would quickly lead to evaporation.

Even if there was a way for this extra heat to be mixed up with the deep ocean, the difference would be too small to detect.

This raises the question of whether other factors are at play in raising ocean temperatures, with the obvious one being the sun. After all, climate scientists have long known that ocean cycles can have major effects on the climate. Not only are they very powerful, but also very long lasting. The idea that man has caused sudden changes in the deep ocean is frankly scientific gibberish.

Williamson’s logic is that the pause in air temperatures, which he seems to accept existed until the 2015/16 El Nino, was because the world’s climate was going through a period of natural cooling, with the oceans holding back the heat (think La Nina).

But this ignores the AMO, which has been running through the warm phase since the mid 1990s. As even NOAA accept, when this happens, global air temperatures rise.

Meanwhile, the PDO has not really got into negative phase yet, partly because of the recent record El Nino.

Neither of these facts are consistent with his argument. Air temperatures have in fact plateaued despite the AMO and PDO.

But perhaps most importantly of all is the longer term trend. Williamson gives us a clue, when he says, “as the ocean warms, it expands”. In other words, sea levels rise.

But we know from tidal gauges all around the world that sea levels have been rising since the late 19thC, and for most of that time at a similar rate as now, and long before man made CO2 had any significant influence.

There is therefore no evidence that what we are seeing now is not just a continuation of that natural trend.

We in fact know very little about these ocean processes, and it is certainly a subject which deserves much greater attention.

Now that would be a good topic for the Spectator, but don’t expect Mr Williamson to be writing it!

FOOTNOTE

It was Phillip Williamson in his role as science coordinator (whatever that means!) who made a formal complaint about one of James Delingpole’s articles about ocean acidification to the UK press regulatory body IPSO last year.

Dellers has his usual forthright account of how IPSO threw out the complaint!

Sounds as if one of Williamson’s jobs is to shut down free speech.

June 19, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | | 2 Comments