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The Dawn of an Orwellian Future

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | July 28, 2017

It seems that The New York Times can’t let a good lie lie. Even after being pushed into running an embarrassing correction retracting its false claim that there was a consensus of all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia hacked Democratic emails and made them public to help Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton, the Times is back suggesting exactly that.

The Times’ current ploy is to say the Russian hacking claims are the “consensus” judgment of the U.S. intelligence community without citing a specific number of agencies. For instance, on Friday, the Times published an article by Matt Flegenheimer about the U.S. Senate vote to prevent President Trump from lifting sanctions on Russia and deployed the misleading phrasing:

“The Trump administration has opposed the sanctions against Russia, arguing that it needs flexibility to pursue a more collaborative diplomacy with a country that, by American intelligence consensus, interfered in last year’s presidential election.”

So, instead of explaining the truth – that the Jan. 6 “Intelligence Community Assessment” was the work of a small group of “hand-picked” analysts from three of the agencies under the watchful eye of then-CIA Director John Brennan and beneath the oversight of then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper – the Times opts to give its readers the misleading impression that there was a “consensus” within the U.S. intelligence community.

In other words, unless a Times reader knows the truth by having read it at a non-mainstream media outlet such as Consortiumnews.com, that reader would continue to believe that all 17 intelligence agencies were in agreement on this foundational point in the Russia-gate affair.

Marginalizing Dissent

And the continuation of this willful deception comes as the Times and other mainstream media outlets make progress in their plans to deploy Internet algorithms to hunt down and marginalize what they deem “fake news,” including articles that challenge the mainstream media’s power to control the dominant news narrative.

A report by the World Socialist Web Site found that “in the three months since Internet monopoly Google announced plans to keep users from accessing ‘fake news,’ the global traffic rankings of a broad range of left-wing, progressive, anti-war and democratic rights organizations have fallen significantly.”

Google’s strategy is to downgrade search results for targeted Web sites based on a supposed desire to limit reader access to “low-quality” information, but the targets reportedly include some of the highest-quality alternative news sites on the Internet, such as – according to the report – Consortiumnews.com.

Google sponsors the First Draft Coalition, which was created to counter alleged “fake news” and consists of mainstream news outlets, including the Times and The Washington Post, as well as establishment-approved Web sites, such as Bellingcat, which has a close association with the anti-Russia and pro-NATO Atlantic Council.

This creation of a modern-day Ministry of Truth occurred under the cover of a mainstream-driven hysteria about “fake news” and “Russian propaganda” in the wake of Donald Trump’s election.

Last Thanksgiving Day, the Post ran a front-page article citing accusations from an anonymous Web site, PropOrNot, that identified 200 Web sites — including such Internet stalwarts as Truthdig, Counterpunch and Consortiumnews — as purveyors of “Russian propaganda.”

Apparently, PropOrNot’s standard was to smear any news outlet that questioned the State Department’s Official Narrative on the Ukraine crisis or some other global hot spot, but the Post didn’t offer any actual specifics of what these Web sites had done to earn their place on a McCarthyistic blacklist.

An Orwellian Future

In early May 2017, the Times chimed in with a laudatory article about how sophisticated algorithms could purge the Internet of alleged “fake news” or what the mainstream media deems to be “misinformation.”

As I wrote at the time, “you don’t need a huge amount of imagination to see how this combination of mainstream groupthink and artificial intelligence could create an Orwellian future in which only one side of a story gets told and the other side simply disappears from view.”

After my article appeared, I received a call from an NPR reporter who was planning a segment on this new technology and argued with me about my concerns. However, after I offered a detailed explanation about how I saw this as a classic case of the cure being far worse than the disease, I was not invited onto the NPR program.

Also, as for the relatively small number of willfully produced “fake news” stories, none appear to have traced back to Russia despite extensive efforts by the mainstream U.S. media to make the connection. When the U.S. mainstream media has tracked down a source of “fake news,” it has turned out to be some young entrepreneur trying to make some money by getting lots of clicks.

For instance, on Nov. 26, 2016, as the anti-Russia hysteria was heating up in the weeks following Trump’s election, the Times ran a relatively responsible article revealing how a leading “fake news” Web site was not connected to Russia at all but rather was a profit-making effort by an unemployed Georgian student who was using a Web site in Tbilisi to make money by promoting pro-Trump stories.

The owner of the Web site, 22-year-old Beqa Latsabidse, said he had initially tried to push stories favorable to Hillary Clinton but that proved unprofitable so he switched to publishing anti-Clinton and pro-Trump articles whether true or not.

While creators of intentionally “fake news” and baseless “conspiracy theories” deserve wholehearted condemnation, the idea of giving the Times and a collection of Google-approved news outlets the power to prevent public access to information that challenges equally mindless groupthinks is a chilling and dangerous prospect.

Russia-gate Doubts

Even if the Russian government did hack the Democratic emails and slip them to WikiLeaks – a charge that both the Kremlin and WikiLeaks deny – there is no claim that those emails were fake. Indeed, all evidence is that they were actual emails and newsworthy to boot.

Meanwhile, U.S. government accusations against the Russian network, RT, have related more to it covering topics that may make the Establishment look bad – such as the Occupy Wall Street protests, fracking for natural gas, and the opinions of third-party presidential candidates – than publishing false stories.

In some cases, State Department officials have even made their own false allegations in attacking RT.

The current Russia-gate frenzy is a particularly scary example of how dubious government conclusions and mainstream media falsehoods can propel the world toward nuclear destruction. The mainstream media’s certainty about Russia’s guilt in the disclosure of Democratic emails is a case in point even when many well-informed experts have expressed serious doubts — though almost always at alternative media sites.

See, for instance, former WMD inspector Scott Ritter’s warning about lessons unlearned from the Iraq debacle or the opinions of U.S. intelligence veterans who have questioned the accuracy of the Jan. 6 report on Russian hacking.

Perhaps these concerns are misplaced and the Jan. 6 report is correct, but the pursuit of truth should not simply be a case of grabbing onto the opinions of some “hand-picked” analysts working for political appointees, such as Brennan and Clapper. Truth should be subjected to rigorous testing against alternative viewpoints and contradictory arguments.

That has been a core principle since the days of the Enlightenment, that truth best emerges from withstanding challenges in the marketplace of ideas. Overturning that age-old truth – by today unleashing algorithms to enforce the Official Narrative – is a much greater threat to an informed electorate and to the health of democracy than the relatively few times when some kid makes up a bogus story to increase his Web traffic.

And, if this new process of marginalizing dissenting views is successful, who will hold The New York Times accountable when it intentionally misleads its readers with deceptive language about the U.S. intelligence community’s “consensus” regarding Russia and the Democratic emails?

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.

July 28, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

Kinsella’s silence on JNF racism speaks loudly

By Yves Engler · July 26, 2017

What do you call someone who says they head an antiracist organization, but claims to be ignorant of an explicitly racist institution they’ve publicly defended? I have no idea, but I do know Warren Kinsella confirmed the central point of my recent article titled “The Left’s racism problem concerning Israel”.

In a series of threatening emails to the editor of Dissident Voice in response to my article the former advisor to Olivia Chow’s mayoral bid wrote: “These statements are wildly defamatory. They are false and malicious in their plain and ordinary meaning. They are calculated to damage my reputation in the eyes of the community. The fact is, I presently help lead an anti-racist organization and have received death threats as a result. I have ‘ties’ to no other. I have been involved in anti-racism work for more than three decades. I oppose hate against all people, in all of its myriad forms. To state that I support or condone ‘explicit racism’ is a disgusting, appalling lie.”

I responded by saying: “While I appreciate your anti-racism work in certain areas, the point being made in the article claimed to be libelous is that you, in fact, do not condemn all forms of racism, specifically anti-Palestinian racism as conceived and carried out by the Jewish National Fund. I can find no record of you condemning or even criticizing the Jewish National Fund’s structural racism. On the other hand, you have condemned and criticized those who do.

If you do oppose all forms of racism, specifically including that of the Jewish National Fund, please let me know and I will apologize unreservedly to you and correct the article in question. If, on the other hand, you do not believe the Jewish National Fund is racist, or you are simply unwilling to condemn or criticize it, then I must stand by my words in the article.”

And here is where things became interesting. Kinsella responded to my email by stating “I don’t even know what the JNF is. I have nothing to do with it. …”

Claiming to have been involved in antiracism work for three decades, Kinsella says he’s ignorant of the only (to my knowledge) explicitly racist institution sanctioned by the Canadian state to give tax write-offs. It is not like the JNF is some marginal group. The century-old organization’s eleven offices across Canada raised $75 million over the past three years and the sitting prime minister spoke to the organization in 2013.

While he now denies knowledge of the registered charity, last year Kinsella derided a resolution calling on the Canada Revenue Agency to rescind the JNF’s charitable status because of its “discrimination against non-Jews in Israel.” Additionally, in the late 2000s Kinsella sat on the board of directors of the Canada-Israel Committee, whose personnel were often close to the JNF.

Why would someone who claims to be an antiracist activist be unwilling to criticize an organization that practices discriminatory land-use policies outlawed in this country six decades ago?

July 28, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment

Audit shows that pharma companies are still cheating by suppressing trials

By Cory Doctorow | BoingBoing | July 27, 2017

It’s been years since the major pharma companies agreed to participate in the Registry of All Trials, meaning that they’d end the practice of only reporting on trials whose outcomes they were pleased with, leaving about half of all trials unreported-on.

Today, Ben Goldacre (who is the Registry’s most prominent advocate) and colleagues released a paper in the British Medical Journal reporting on their audit of pharmaceutical companies’ record on keeping that promise.

What they found is pretty dismal: to put it bluntly, pharma companies are cheating like crazy.

The paper is accompanied by a website that will shortly publish a ranking showing which pharma companies are most honest in reporting in on their trials.

This is a vital scientific/health question: pharmaceutical companies have spent decades cherry-picking their studies, suppressing those that put their products in a bad light, only telling regulators about the successful ones. About half of all pharmaceutical trials were never reported on. If you were trialing a quarter to see if it always came up heads, and you got to suppress half of your results, you could prove that it was fair, that it was all-heads, or all-tails, or anything in between.

So what did we find? The results on the individual companies are important, but we also came across some fascinating patterns. While companies superficially have commitments to register and report clinical trials, in reality, there are often huge gaps in their policies, with many failing to include past trials (trials on the medicines we use today) and trials on off-label uses or unlicensed medicines, which are both important. We also found a huge range of commitments, which is exactly what audits are good for: identify who’s doing well, and who’s doing badly, so that everyone can learn from the best players. Lastly, as we went along we collected some fascinating examples of problematic policies, ambiguous language, inconsistent commitments, odd exclusions, and so on.

Overall this audit was a huge project, and we hope it will be widely used. You can see which companies are the best, and the worst. If you’re a researcher trying to get information on a trial from a company, you can use this to determine whether a company are breaching their commitments. If you’re an ethical investor (at the AllTrials campaign we have a network of dozens, covering €3.5t trillion of investments) you can use this to guide your activist investment choices. If you’re a doctor, or a patient, you might use this as a benchmark for the trustworthiness of a company.

+AllTrials Transparency Index

Pharmaceutical companies’ policies on access to trial data, results, and methods: audit study [Ben Goldacre, Kamal R Mahtani, Carl Heneghan, Igho Onakpoya, Ian Bushfield and Liam Smeeth,/BMJ ]

How do the world’s biggest drug companies compare, in their transparency commitments? [Ben Goldacre/Bad Science ]

July 28, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science | Leave a comment

How the ‘Center’ Is Spinning Apart

By Alastair Crooke | Consortium News | July 28, 2017

That “icon” of the “centrists,” Facebook, recently wrote to a site on the U.S. “Alt-Right” telling them that various posts which they had authored must be immediately taken down, or would be deleted. The references which had offended were the words ‘trannies” for transgenders and “cross-dressers.” The message from Facebook further suggested that gender “identity” is considered a “protected characteristic” (under the law – which it is not), and that reference to transgenders as “trannies” could be considered “hate speech” (i.e. a legal offence).

A totally trivial issue, in itself, except that it goes to the heart of the disputed vision which encapsulates the present U.S. civil stand-off: On the one side, the notion that diversity, freely elected sexual orientation, and identity rights, equals societal cohesion and strength. Or, on the other hand, the vision encapsulated by Pat Buchanan: that a nation (including its new-comers) are bound more by the possession of a legacy of memories, a heritage of manners, customs and culture, and an attachment to a certain “way-of-being,” and principles of government. And it is this that constitutes the source of a nation’s strength.

The point here, is that the “centrist” center visibly is folding. The insistence to manage and control discourse (per Michel Foucault), around a strictly de-limited, political ideology is drawing now public disdain (and street demonstrations in the U.S.) targeted both at social media, and at elements of the MSM (mainstream media outlets, such as CNN). That is to say, the more the centrist diversity meme is pushed in the U.S., the greater the popular push-back, it seems.

The sites opposing such “correctness” are attracting a much higher audience than those espousing it. But that is not the whole story. It is not even the half of it: “the center” is giving way on multiple fronts (with huge, and likely turbulent consequence).

Foreign Policy Chaos

Most evidently, this is occurring in foreign policy generally, and in the Middle East more particularly. It has been only lightly reported in the MSM, but the U.S. National Security Council again has failed – according to reports – to offer any compelling arguments as to how America might, in any way, succeed in Afghanistan even with a hefty increase in military forces, (as advocated by NSC Advisor H.R. McMaster). It has been a long-haul war – and there will be no pleasing outcome to this war for anyone; rather the opposite – but that has been long evident to almost all who followed events there.

Secondly, Hizballah has routed – in just four days – Al Qaeda from the Arsal enclave in north Lebanon. Once again, Lebanon is contiguous with Syria, just as Iraq is now contiguous, adjoining and open to Syria. Aided by the psychological shock to insurgents of the news of the halting of CIA of weapons and salaries supplied to (some, not all) insurgent groups, the Syrian army and its partner forces are quite rapidly taking back the Syrian state. The U.S. has decided, it seems, that there are no good options for America in Syria, either. And that, when Raqa’a falls and ISIS is defeated, the White House may well conclude that U.S. objectives there will have been met.

Thirdly, the Iraqi people have been passing through a significant metamorphosis. Mobilized and radicalized by ISIS’s physical brutality and ideological totalitarianism in northern Iraq, this is a nation in motion: The political landscape, henceforth, will change too. The Shi’a of Iraq are sensing their empowerment.

The (unpopular) government, and the (respected, but now elderly) Hauza (religious leadership) – necessarily – are having to swim with this new tide of popular mobilization and self-assertion. These profound shifts in mood already are finding their reflection in Iraq’s strategic positioning in that Iraq is moving closer to Russia (i.e. the purchase of Russian T20 tanks), and to Syria and Iran. The “spine” of the Middle East is consolidating in a new way.

This mood-change may well shape, too, the future of Sunni Islam: Most ordinary Iraqi Sunnis have been repelled, and disgusted, by the excesses of Wahhabist Da’esh, (as have Syrians of all sects). Sunni citizens of Mosul – now free to relate their experiences – have been telling their Iraqi compatriots (I have been told) of their lingering anger at the ISIS’s beheadings of the local Sunni clergy for complaining about the un-Islamic actions of foreign jihadists in the ranks of Da’esh in Mosul. This adverse experience of Nejd Islam will have repercussions, ultimately, on Saudi Arabia and its leadership, (now heartily disliked in Iraq) – and America, Saudi Arabia’s close ally.

In short – for Europe and America – the “center” of its Middle East policy is folding (while its Gulf Cooperation Council-led bulwark is in crisis). Across the West, cries of distressed Syria “hawks” are in the air.

There will, of course, be repercussions: Israel will threaten that “it cannot stand idly-by” with Hizbullah and Iran situated on the Golan armistice line, and may try to test Russia’s resolve as guarantor of the southwest Syrian de-escalation zone. Prime Minister Benhamin Netanyahu is particularly angry that Israel has been outmaneuvered in Syria (by Russian President Putin), that the hope to create an Israeli-controlled cordon sanitaire inside southwest Syria has been frustrated. And Israel and its allies now will push the U.S. hard for a punitive containment vice to be imposed on Iran in retribution.

The new Saudi Regent (Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salma or MbS) represents another unpredictable and volatile element in this mix. Despite this, the Pentagon is well aware that much of Israel’s bluster concerning Iran, is just that: bluff. Israel, Saudi Arabia and UAE have no capacity to take on Iran, beyond a day – without America’s full backing.

Wobbly Economic Center

The other part of “the center,” which is looking increasingly wobbly, is that of economic policy. A consensus seems to be hardening among some market leaders that asset values cannot simply go on levitating upwards – carried up on a sea of liquidity, and near zero interest rates – entailing near zero volatility and one-sided trades that have the market listing like some capsizing, overloaded boat after all the passengers have rushed to one side of the craft.

Some market participants however, seem to believe that the Central Bankers will never have “the spine” either to hike rates, or to shrink their balance sheets, and thus face a market “tantrum.” These participants – until recently, perhaps a majority – believe that the new normal “boat” of low inflation and low rates – will continue to be floated off, practically indefinitely, albeit with the help of a further $20 trillion to $50 trillion of “qualitative easing” or QE.

This argument is far from new, but recently a substantial number of major financial leaders (and some Central Bankers) have been sounding grave warnings about the high multiple valuations of financial assets, about pockets of sub-prime debt re-emerging (automobile loans), and debt-to-GDP levels (personal and public) soaring above 2008 crisis values.

Global debt is up $68 trillion or 46 percent, since the eve of the 2008 financial crisis, and now stands at 327 percent of global output. A critical mass of senior financial opinion seems now to be turning. They put this troubling monetary and market distortion against the prospect of a U.S. debt ceiling likely to guillotine U.S. Federal Government spending quite imminently, and against the probability that deeply conflicted Congress – with polarization in both main parties – being able neither to pass a budget; nor produce the Trump “reflation”; nor even launch a significant infrastructure re-build.

Their fear is that there is a substantial tranche of congressmen and senators in both parties that are so hostile to Trump that they would be happy to see him fall flat on his face – even at the cost of economic crisis. Or, they worry that even if some stimulus is passed, that the Central Banks will remove the liquidity punchbowl from markets too fast. Either way, they see grave risks running through to the end of this year, and into 2018.

In short, not just foreign policy but financial policy, too, may find itself hostage to the dissolved center of U.S. politics – with all which that implies, i.e., the lack of the functioning, largely centralized, mainly cohesive unit, that used to be the American government as it has been known since World War Two.

Inviting Push-back

And here we return to our initial, rather trivial anecdote about Facebook trying to re-establish the centrist meme of gender choice being an undiscussable “protected category.” The point is that the center is not holding: the more it tries, the more it invites, and gets, willful push-back.

Equally, as the hawks clamor to restore the former centrist foreign policy meme that arming, training and paying Wahhabi jihadists to slaughter 100,000 Syrian soldiers (many, if not most of whom, were Sunni) represents an American interest is no longer holding. See, for example, David Stockman’s Bravo! Trump, For The Tweet That Is Shaking The War Party (Trump: “The Amazon Washington Post fabricated the facts on my ending massive, dangerous, and wasteful payments to Syrian rebels fighting Assad…..”).

And the meme that too much debt should be solved by adding even more debt – and that the consequent soaring asset inflation should be welcomed as mere confirmation that economic recovery is unfolding, as it should – is no longer holding also. This whole approach is now in sharp contention.

Even the Central Bankers now worry about asset inflation (that they themselves have nurtured) but they worry even more about the consequences of any attempt to roll it back. They lie between a rock and a hard place.

Where will this take us? Possibly, the psychological turmoil of the reverses in U.S. foreign policy will continue to roil throughout the summer; but come autumn, there may be less U.S. appetite (or attention available) for foreign policy initiatives as the economic “winter” approaches. Or, at worst, the sheer overwhelming conflict on the domestic front could invite the notion that a foreign initiative would prove a welcome distraction from economic woes.

Iran and North Korea are the current U.S. rhetorical punching bags, but neither should ever be contemplated as candidates for some “distraction.” Rather they represent potential nemeses.

As for the economic woes – not so much QE 4 – but direct, deficit funding helicopter money beckons, perhaps. Which is to say that freshly minted new, “empty” money would be used to directly fund Federal expenditure. (Trump in business, has never shied away from debt).

Often it is said that there is no precedent to our present extraordinary monetary circumstances, but the history of the Assignat in France of the early 1790s, offers some hints. Despite massive money creation, Andrew White, in his book Fiat Money Inflation in France (published in 1896) notes that “[t]hough paper money had increased in amount, prosperity had steadily diminished. In spite of all the paper issues, commercial activity grew more and more spasmodic. Enterprise was chilled and business became more and more stagnant”.

Finally, just to be clear, Donald Trump undoubtedly is facilitating the dissolution of the Establishment’s “center” – but that, after all, was his declared aim. But he is not responsible for it. This potential was already latent: he simply saw it – and adroitly, climbed aboard.

Alastair Crooke is a former British diplomat who was a senior figure in British intelligence and in European Union diplomacy. He is the founder and director of the Conflicts Forum.

July 28, 2017 Posted by | Economics | , | Leave a comment

Opening Gitmo to the World

By Robert Koehler | CounterPunch | July 28, 2017

To read Witnesses of the Unseen: Seven Years in Guantanamo is to run your mind along the contours of hell.

The next step, if you’re an American, is to embrace it. Claim it. This is who we are: We are the proprietors of a cluster of human cages and a Kafkaesque maze of legal insanity. This torture center is still open. Men (“forever prisoners”) are still being held there, their imprisonment purporting to keep us safe.

The book, by Lakhdar Boumediene and Mustafa Ait Idir — two Algerian men arrested in Bosnia in 2011 and wrongly accused of being terrorists — allows us to imagine ourselves at Guantanamo, this outpost of the Endless War.

“‘Take him outside,’ the interrogator told them. They led me up a flight of eight or nine concrete steps to a long gravel drive. It was pitch black out, and completely quiet. There was no one around. One of the soldiers grabbed my left arm, and another took my right. And then they started running.

“I tried to keep up, but my legs were shackled together. First, my flip-flops fell off, and after a few barefoot strides, my legs fell out from under me. The soldiers didn’t even slow down. They kept a firm grip on my arms while my legs bounced and scraped along the ground, gravel biting into them. When the run finally ended, the soldiers brought me back to the interrogation room, bloody and bedraggled.”

This is one fragment, one story of the seven years these two innocent men endured: these two fathers who were pulled away from their wives and children, yanked from their lives, stuffed into cages, interrogated endlessly and pointlessly, humiliated, force-fed (in Lakhdar’s case) . . . and finally, finally, ordered by a U.S. judge to be freed, when their case, Boumediene v. Bush, was at long last heard in a real court and the lack of evidence against them became appallingly clear.

The book is the story of the courage it takes to survive.

And it’s a story that can only be told because of the work of the Boston legal firm WilmerHale, which spent more than 17,000 pro bono hours litigating the case, “work that would have cost paying clients more than $35 million.”

Lakhdar and Mustafa were freed in 2008 and began rebuilding their lives. They eventually decided they wanted to tell their story — to an American audience. Daniel Norland, who was a lawyer at WilmerHale when the case was making its way through the court process (but was not part of the litigation team) and his sister, Kathleen List, who speaks fluent Arabic, conducted more than 100 hours of interviews with the two men, which were shaped into Witnesses of the Unseen.

In October 2011, the two men, who were living and working in Sarajevo, were among six Algerians who wound up being arrested by Bosnian authorities and charged with plotting to blow up the American embassy in Sarajevo. They were held for three months, then released. There was no evidence to back up the accusation.

But this turns out to be the beginning of their story, not the end of it. The men were released not back to their own lives but to an authority more powerful than the Bosnian judicial system: They were released to the Americans, who had begun rounding up Muslims . . . uh, terrorists. Evidence, or lack thereof, didn’t matter. These men were shipped to a new military prison, built at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba — an offshore prison, in other words, unencumbered by the U.S. Constitution. The detainees there allegedly had zero rights. That was the whole point.

Much of what Lakhdar and Mustafa describe is the efficiency of the U.S. military in dehumanizing its prisoners. The beatings and physical pain inflicted by guards, interrogators and even medical personnel were only part of it. The men also endured sexual humiliation, endless mocking of their religion — “I heard . . . that a soldier went into someone’s cell and flushed his Qur’an down the toilet” — and the cruel, teasing “misplacement” or censorship of letters from the prisoners’ loved ones.

Several years into his imprisonment, Lakhdar went on a hunger strike, which meant he was subjected to force-feeding, which the U.N. Human Rights Commission has called a form of torture:

“The soldier brought out an apparatus with a long yellow tube and started measuring out the length of tube he needed. He stopped when he got to a marking somewhere between 45 and 50 inches. That was the amount of tube he was going to insert through my nostril. . . .

“It’s almost impossible to explain what a feeding tube feels like to someone who hasn’t experienced it. I felt like I was choking, and being strangled, and yet somehow still able to breathe, all at the same time.

“The soldier taped the tube in place. I could see the Ensure trickling through the tube, one droplet at a time. It felt cold as it reached my stomach. I later learned that a full feeding normally takes fifteen to twenty minutes, but that first time they went exceptionally slowly. I sat in the clinic, chained to the chair, a tube protruding down my throat, for the rest of the afternoon and all through the night.”

It took no less than a Supreme Court ruling to start ending this nightmare.

In early 2007, a U.S. Circuit Court judge had refused to hear Boumediene v. Bush on the grounds that Guantanamo prisoners had no Constitutional rights. But the Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal, and in June 2008 ruled that Guantanamo counted as part of the U.S. and, as Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, the government couldn’t “switch the Constitution on and off at will.”

Thus the case went back to the Circuit Court and a real hearing got underway, leading to one of the most appalling revelations in the book: “Our lawyers had told us, in the days leading up to our trial, about a recent bizarre development in our case: the government had dropped its allegation that we had plotted to blow up the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo. Just like in Bosnia seven years before, authorities were eager to toss around bomb-plot allegations right up until a court required them to provide evidence.

“Instead, our lawyers told us, the government now said that the reason it considered us ‘enemy combatants’ was that it had evidence — classified evidence that I wasn’t allowed to see — that we had made a plan to fly to Afghanistan and join Al Qaeda’s fight against American forces there. This was the first time I had ever heard this allegation. No one — no police officer, no Bosnian official, no American interrogator — had ever asked me a single question about it.

“And it was a ludicrous allegation. . . .”

And the judge ruled in their favor and they eventually were set free, to reclaim their lives, to see their children for the first time in seven years — and to give their story to the world.

But as long as Gitmo remains open and the Endless War continues — and no one is held accountable — there is no ending to this story, just an open wound.

Robert Koehler is a Chicago award-winning journalist and editor.

July 28, 2017 Posted by | Book Review, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , | 6 Comments

Role of nuclear arms in Russia’s military strategy: Setting the record straight

By Dr Alexander Yakovenko | RT | July 28, 2017

We continue to see efforts to blame Russia for allegedly lowering the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons.

Against the backdrop of current anti-Russian hysterics and groundless accusations of “aggression,” “destabilization,” “interference,” etc., this adds to the false picture. Let’s set the record straight.

The Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation, adopted in 2010 and revised in 2014, is a clear guidebook regarding our military strategy, including the role of nuclear force, in the event of aggression.

According to this document, “the Russian Federation shall reserve the right to use nuclear weapons in response to the use of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction against it and/or its allies, as well as in the event of aggression against the Russian Federation with the use of conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is in jeopardy.”

This should leave no doubt in the solely defensive nature of the Russian nuclear force. It has always been and will be in the interest of our country to strengthen the strategic stability that helped keep the peace since the end of the Second World War. Nuclear deterrence remains a fact we have to live with.

Russia has been a consistent advocate of further limitations and reductions of nuclear weapons stockpiles along with strengthening international regimes of arms control and non-proliferation.

One of the examples is the Russia-US new START Treaty, which came into force in 2011. Under this treaty, the sides committed to cutting their nuclear arsenals by a third compared to the previous agreements. One should remember the Bush Administration withdrew from the ABM Treaty, one of the pillars of strategic stability, and was prepared to let the START process go when the previous treaty was about to expire.

Russia is a responsible member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) regime and calls upon NATO to cease any activity that contradicts this treaty, including “joint nuclear missions.” By Articles I and II of the NPT the nuclear powers pledged not to transfer nuclear weapons, neither directly nor indirectly, to non-nuclear states.

Notwithstanding this obvious failure to comply with international law, the US continues to invite non-nuclear states to participate in nuclear training and exercises, and modernize its nuclear arsenals by creating a new generation of “more suitable to use” nuclear weapons. In addition to the escalation of its military presence in Europe under the pretext of the “Russian threat” (though NATO leadership recently recognized that there is no direct threat from Russia), the US makes an eventual dialogue on further nuclear weapons limitations all but impossible.

Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011). Follow him on Twitter @Amb_Yakovenko

July 28, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

US Treasury Imposes Secondary Sanctions on 6 Iranian Entities

Sputnik – 28.07.2017

The United States has imposed secondary sanctions on six Iranian entities, the US Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said in an update on Friday.

Amir al Mo’menin Industries, Shahid Cheraghi Industries, Shahid Kalhor Industries, Shahid Karimi Industries, Shahid Rastegar Industries and Shahid Varamini Industries have been added to non-proliferation designations, OFAC stated.

In a press release, the Treasury Department said the sanctions were in response to Iran’s claimed launch of a Simorgh satellite on Thursday.

“OFAC sanctioned six Iran-based subordinates of Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group (SHIG), an entity central to Iran’s ballistic missile program,” the release stated.

Each of the six entities is responsible for developing, manufacturing or producing components that can be used in ballistic missiles or launchers, according to OFAC. SHIG is already under US, EU and UN sanctions.

Following reports of the satellite launch, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said Washington would consider it to violate the 2010 UN Security Council resolution against Iran’s ballistics program and the “spirit” of the 2015 Joint Plan of Comprehensive Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal.

On July 18, the United States imposed sanctions on 18 entities and individuals over their alleged ties to Iran’s military and ballistic missile program.

Moreover, on Thursday, US Senate approved a bill that would impose new sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea. The bill now has to be either signed or vetoed by US President Donald Trump.

Tehran maintains its ballistics program complies with the UN resolution, which called on Iran to refrain from activity related to ballistic missiles that could deliver nuclear weapons. Following Iran’s latest test-launch in February, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said the test did not violate the resolution because the missiles are not produced to carry nuclear warheads.

July 28, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , | Leave a comment

‘Weaponizing viruses’? US Air Force places ad for bio samples from Russians

RT | July 28, 2017

The US Air Force is looking to acquire samples of ribonucleic acid (RNA) and synovial fluid from Russians, according to a government website used to place tenders. The reason behind the order hasn’t been specified.

The Air Force’s Air Education and Training Command has placed a listing on the Federal Business Opportunities website asking for at least 12 RNA samples from Russian people of a European ancestry, as well as 27 samples of synovial fluid.

Suppliers of the samples must meet a number of requirements.

“All Normal Human Fresh Frozen (FF) Synovial Tissue and Normal Human Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) samples must be Russian / Caucasian origin,” reads the contract’s technical specifications. “All FF Synovial tissue and RNA samples must come from normal donors, who have no musculoskeletal injuries. This shall be confirmed by pathology. All FF synovial tissue must have a weight greater than or at a minimum of 0.25 grams.

“All RNA samples must be frozen. Synovial Tissues and RNA samples can be unmatched, meaning from different donors. All Synovial Tissue and RNA samples must be HIV, HBV, HCV and syphilis negative.”

In addition, information on donors must be provided with the samples, including their sex, age, ethnicity, smoking history, medical history, height, weight and Body Mass Index (BMI). The samples must be delivered to the Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas, within 10 days after the contractor receives the money.

All samples must “be collected from Russia and must be Caucasian. The Government will not consider tissue samples from Ukraine,” the contract added.

It was not immediately apparent what the Air Force needed the samples for. One reason could be purely medical research. RNA is found in all living cells and is needed to translate genetic information into proteins.

“The more you know about the genetic diversity of people, the more opportunities you have, in particular, to treat and diagnose diseases,” Professor Konstantin Severinov from Rutgers University told RT.

“All people are different from one another. That is, the genetic background and the reasons why genetic differences are responsible for some other differences between people are still not understood and are the subject of active study.”

But Igor Nikulin, a former member of the UN commission on biological weapons, noted that the RNA samples can be used to develop viruses.

“New types of biological weapons are being developed. There’s nothing else that could possibly interest the military department. Most likely, they are weaponized viruses,” Nikulin told RT. “The US is trying to develop various types of biological weapons specifically for specific carriers of this gene pool, and Caucasoids are needed since they constitute the majority of the population of our country.

“This is the same focus group for which they are trying to find the samples. It’s necessary for the viruses to act selectively on one or another ethnic group.”

July 28, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

DHS is paying college students to create extremist propaganda games and videos

MassPrivatel | July 27, 2017

According to EdVenture Partners, college students are being paid to create DHS propaganda videos, games and much more.

University students develop and execute campaigns and social media strategies against extremism that are credible,authentic, and believable to their peers and resonate within their communities in partnership with Homeland Security.”

Two weeks ago, the University of Maryland won this year’s DHS competition by creating a video game and social media campaign that ‘helps’ people recognize radicalization.

Helps, doesn’t begin to describe what DHS is doing.

College students make DHS propaganda educational tool-kits, apps, etc.

Students, at twenty three universities are being paid $2,000 to make DHS propaganda “mobile apps, cultural activities, videos, campus movements, social campaigns, websites, viral videos, blogs, education tool-kits.”

The winning school is awarded a $5,000 scholarship. To date, about 50–75 schools participate in the DHS competition each year.”

This is horrifying, DHS is paying colleges to create propaganda yearly.

DHS and the University of Maryland’s (UMD) want students to become participants in their ‘It Takes Just One‘ propaganda movement.

They want to teach you how to recognize the signs of radicalization, how to properly take action, and how to inspire others to take action as well.”

By action, they mean report them to law enforcement and ultimately Fusion Centers.

UMD’s propaganda game claims alt-right people must be dealt with

DHS’s  UMD’s ‘Operation Genovese‘ game, gives players a choice between an ‘alt-right’ man and an Islamic woman who has been radicalized by ISIS. The game claims, both of their views and anti-social behavior are an issue. The game says, that both of them MUST be deradiclized or stopped.

The game also claims, they will harm themselves or others unless they’re dealt with.

UMD’s game and ‘movement’ are designed to keep fear alive and report people based on their ideology.

The primary objective of It Takes Just One is to provide a platform for people who have witnessed or may witness his/her loved ones radicalize towards violent extremism.”

UMD claims, people should share their stories (report) as in ‘See Something, Say Something’ “even if it is not specific to countering violent extremism.” You know, so law enforcement can target innocent people.

July 28, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , | 2 Comments

As Harvard academics prove, the truth doesn’t matter when you are bashing Russia

RT | July 27, 2017

Two Harvard University academics have seen dreadfully incorrect Russia-related tweets recently go viral. The fact neither has deleted their falsehoods sums up the low standards when it comes to the Western assessment of all things Russian.

In the information space, a lot of stuff goes out the window when it comes to Russia. Like ethics, decency, fairness, and facts. It’s hard to recall a single incidence of a journalist, official or academic losing a position for being hopelessly wrong about the country.

That’s why you end up with TV networks offering people who’ve never set foot in Moscow as “Russia experts,” magazines presenting opposition figures on two percent in the polls as serious contenders for the presidency and outlets alleging Vladimir Putin is dating Wendy Deng.

It also explains how pundits can claim Russia is about to collapse and then a few months later, insist the Kremlin is about to invade another country. And why analysts who set exact time frames for these incursions, and are proven wrong, fall upwards rather than downwards subsequently. Because anything goes when it comes to Russia and fueling the hysteria is more important than telling the truth.

That said, at least in the “respectable media” you might get the odd correction. Such as when The Washington Post was forced to backtrack on spurious reports Moscow had hacked Vermont’s electrical grid, or when the same paper was compelled to issue a correction after falsely accusing RT of using automated bots to circulate articles.

However, on social media, not only do “experts” not apologize, they rarely even delete their erroneous posts. Probably because of the huge exposure they can receive from the thousands of shares and retweets to be gained from crookedly smearing Russia. And to hell with the consequences of the animosity, enmity, and venom they generate.

Tribal Instinct

A classic case in point emerged this Thursday morning (Moscow Time) when a Harvard University professor named Laurence Tribe, tweeted the following: “DOJ (Department of Justice) is pursuing Dmitri Firtash, Russian mobster linked to . . wait for it: (former Trump campaign aide, Paul) Manafort. But T (Trump) named lawyer for Russian bank to head Crim(inal) Div(ision)!”

And at the time of writing, this brainfart had earned over 4,000 retweets, which have surely multiplied since.

But, you guessed it, the tweet is deceptive, deceitful and specious, whether by accident or design. Because the “Russian mobster” mentioned, Dmitry Firtash is actually a Ukrainian oligarch. A man who amassed much of his fortune during the Presidency of Viktor Yushchenko, the pro-Western leader installed after the 2004 “Orange Revolution.” In addition, Firtash served in a number of government positions during the administration, including as Chair of the National Tripartite Social and Economic Council.

Firtash was born in Ukraine and holds Ukrainian citizenship. And, while he may very well be a “mobster,” he’s not Russian. And, as the Western media never tires of emphasizing, Ukraine and Russia are not the same country and haven’t been joined since 1991.

Dozens of people have pointed out Tribe’s mistake. And the writer has surely noticed because he’s posted since, but this falsehood still sits on his page, proud as a peacock. All the while being shared all around the Twittersphere, as its author betrays no sense of remorse or embarrassment.

Nothing Is Real

Nevertheless, to be fair to Tribe, he’s only a baby faker compared to his Harvard colleague Yascha Mounk. A man who professes to “defend liberal democracy against the illiberal international.” And also makes up the odd bogus online statement about Russia.

A couple of weeks ago Mounk reported on Twitter: “Need a reminder of the human cost of dictatorship? All these are journalists who criticized Putin–and died under mysterious circumstances.” But the problem with his statement was quickly evident to anyone with a basic knowledge of Russia.

Because the image used to illustrate the tweet of ‘journalists killed by Putin’ was actually one of all Russian journalists killed, anywhere, since 1991. And, what’s more, most of them passed away under the West-endorsed presidency of Boris Yeltsin. With many of those featured having been war correspondents, who sadly met their ends in conflict zones. Indeed, while journalism often remains perilous in today’s Russia, the fact is things were far more dangerous during the “liberal democratic” Yeltsin years. The pattern is being repeated right now in Ukraine, where violence against journalists has risen dramatically since the 2014 Maidan installed a US-backed regime.

Again, despite numerous folk informing Mounk of his tweet’s inaccuracy, he hasn’t deleted it. So, It continues to strut across Twitter, with 55,000 retweets and counting. Each one of them spreading the disinformation to a new audience.

Harvard University’s 2016-17 fees amount to “$43,280 for tuition and $63,025 for tuition, room, board, and fees combined,” according to its website. Now, for that kind of cash you’d expect teachers and researchers of the highest caliber, dedicated to rigorous fact-checking and earnestly devoted to accuracy.

But Mounk and Tribe, at least when it comes to Russia, don’t seem to care about such basic standards. Don’t expect either to suffer sanction. Because, after all, anything goes these days once the subject matter is Russian.

Bryan MacDonald is an Irish journalist, who is based in Russia

Read more:

CNN introduces new definition of suspicious activity: Dating Russians

July 28, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Jordan charges Israel embassy guard with murder

Press TV – July 28, 2017

Jordan’s public prosecutor says murder charges have been filed against an Israeli embassy guard, who recently shot dead two Jordanians in Amman.

State media said Friday that Attorney General Akram Masaadeh charged the guard with two counts of murder and possession of an unlicensed firearm.

The official argued that diplomatic immunity did not mean the “killer” could not be put on trial in his own country.

An Israeli government source, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said Israel was also “giving preliminary consideration to offering compensation to the family of the second Jordanian (the landlord) killed in the incident.”

The development came after Jordan’s King Abdullah angrily urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to put the guard on trial, warning that the issue jeopardizes Amman-Tel Aviv ties.

“We demand that the Israeli Prime Minister abides by his commitment and takes all measures to ensure the trial of the killer, and not handle this like a political show to achieve personal political gains,” Reuters quoted him as saying.

Abdullah made the remarks when he visited the family of one of the victims, during which he pledged that the state would “do everything within its means”| to get justice for the two men.

King Abdullah lashed out at Netanyahu for giving the guard a hero’s embrace after Israel brought him home under diplomatic immunity, saying the behavior was “provocative on all fronts and enrages us, destabilizes security and fuels extremism.”

On Sunday, the guard shot dead Jordanian teenager Mohammad Jawawdah at Israel’s embassy in Amman as well as the landlord of the house in the compound where the guard lived.

During the funeral procession of Jawawdah on Tuesday, thousands of Jordanians protested against Israel, calling on Jordanian authorities to close the Israeli embassy and scrap the country’s peace treaty with Tel Aviv.

Israel claims that the guard had been defending himself in a “terrorist attack” after Jawawdah attacked him with a screwdriver. It is still unclear how the landlord came to be shot.

However, the Jordanian police, who were unable to question the guard, say the guard shot the teenager, who worked for a furniture company and was delivering an order, after they got into a brawl.

King Abdullah also pointed to a previous incident in March 2014, in which an Israeli soldier shot dead a Jordanian judge at a border crossing. No investigation was ever conducted.

“The way Israel handles the embassy case and the judge’s killing and other cases will have a direct impact on the nature of our relationship,” he said.

Many Jordanians have accused the authorities of abdicating sovereignty by allowing the Israeli guard to leave the country, with lawmakers walking out of parliament in protest.

Jordanians are set to hold another protest on Friday to repeat their demand for closure of the Israeli Embassy and tearing up the unpopular peace treaty.

July 28, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , | 2 Comments

NATO’s New Libya Still Burning

By Ulson Gunnar | New Eastern Outlook | 27.07.2017

In 2011, US and European policy think tanks, which both create and promote policy serving the collective interests of the corporations that sponsor them, promoted NATO military intervention in Libya. Under the guise of a humanitarian intervention, what unfolded was the long-planned overthrow of the Libyan government, then headed by Muammar Ghaddafi.

Unable or unwilling to commit significant ground troops, the majority of the fighting was carried out by militant groups with NATO air and covert ground support. Many of these militant groups would be later revealed as comprised of extremists, including Al Qaeda and its affiliates.

In essence, NATO overthrew a unifying government in Libya, placed entire regions of the fractured nation under the control of terrorist organizations and opposing militant groups, and allowed the nation to slide into chaos ever since.

The consequences of overthrowing the Libyan government in 2011 were well known long before the intervention even took place. Libya’s role as a destination for refugees and migrants fleeing socioeconomic turmoil across Africa was long-established. After NATO’s intervention, Libya has now become a springboard for those fleeing from across Africa, across the Mediterranean Sea, and into Europe.

The issue of pirates, smuggling, organized crime and many other ills the Libyan government had kept under control, have also predictably spiraled out of control.

Now, those same policy think tanks that promoted the Libyan intervention, lament over the catastrophe that has continued to unfold ever since.

Foreign Affairs, published by one of the most prominent of these policy think tanks, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), has published a series of articles by various authors, illustrating a sort of “buyers remorse” regarding the now devastated North African state. Part historical revision, part spin and part shifting of blame, articles like, “Europe’s Libya Problem: How to Stem the Flow of Migrants,” go into great detail about the problems now facing Libya and its neighbors.

The article laments:

Nearly 11,000 migrants arrived on Italian shores in just the last five days of June, following nearly 80,000 in the first half of 2017. Over 2,000 have perished at sea since the start of this year. The vast majority came from sub-Saharan Africa and embarked from the Libyan coast.

It then notes how Europe has been attempting to deal with the ongoing migrant crisis, claiming:

The European Union (EU) has been searching for a way to stem the flow of migrants and handle the tens of thousands who arrive in Italy on a daily basis. The EU’s current policy approach aims to shut off the route through the central Mediterranean and strengthen Libyan coastal patrol and enforcement capacities at sea. But it is unlikely to be effective or humane, given the sheer volume of migrants and the number of groups that profit from trafficking them, not to mention the weakness of the Libyan navy and other official security structures.

The final sentence, noting the “weakness of the Libyan navy,” is particularly ironic, since it was NATO that attacked and sent many of the Libyan navy’s vessels to the bottom of Libya’s harbors.

The article concludes, offering no practical means of stemming the crisis besides waiting for the next Ghaddafi to unite Libya’s currently warring factions, eliminate or confine Western-sponsored terrorist organizations mainly based in the east, particularly in Benghazi, and rebuilding the nation’s economy to once again offer incentives for refugees and migrants to live and work in Libya rather than travelling onward toward Europe.

Nowhere in Foreign Affairs’ article is it mentions that the only reason Libya is now in chaos is not despite NATO military intervention, but because of it.

Unifying Libya will be difficult. Another Foreign Affairs article, titled, “Filling the Vacuum in Libya: The Need for a Political, Not Military Solution,” admits just how fractured the nation is:

The GNA [Government of National Accord] barely controls the capital, Tripoli, through militias that are only nominally under its authority. Although the GNA recently succeeded in pushing a rump government—containing remnants of the Islamist-dominated parliament that was elected in 2012—out of the capital, it was long in coming, and these rival factions continue to prove a threat to Tripoli.

Meanwhile, in the eastern part of the country, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, a former military officer under Qaddafi, and his Libyan National Army (LNA)—a coalition largely made up of eastern, anti-Islamist militias—are aligned with the House of Representatives, which refuses to recognize the GNA.

Foreign Affairs notes the rising political as well as military prominence of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, a “strongman” who appears to have the most potential of creating anything resembling a unified Libya. However, that will leave Libya once again in the same position it found itself before the 2011 intervention, with a strongman running the nation, and likely to drift further and further away from US and European interests until yet another proxy war is engineered, promoted by think tanks like the CFR and fought.

Again, despite Foreign Affairs’ apparently in-depth analysis, it failed to isolate the true source of Libya’s upheaval and instability, NATO. It was the 2011 intervention that upended stability not only in Libya, but created a chain reaction of violence and chaos that was felt as far west as Nigeria, Mali and Niger. This violence prompted, or more accurately, served as a pretext for the reintroduction of French troops in several of its “former” colonies. It has also served as a pretext for US Africa Command’s (AFRICOM) continued expansion.

Ultimately, Libya is a showcase of the chaos and regression that NATO intervention brings, and serves as the greatest case for isolating, containing and by all means, opposing and obstructing further use of NATO military forces anywhere beyond NATO’s own borders. The enduring chaos that is currently consuming nations like Libya also serve as a warning of what awaits nations like Syria and beyond should they fail in dissuading the West from further intervention within their borders.

It has been 6 years since NATO divided and destroyed Libya and the nation still remains fractured and fighting. The notion that NATO and its Western membership hold the solution to problems the West itself intentionally created should not be entertained, and, if international organizations, courts and laws had any meaning, NATO would be barred from any further role regarding Libya, beyond paying reparations for what it has done.

July 28, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment