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#Winning: Facebook “Fake News” Flag Makes People MORE Likely to Click

corbettreport | January 9, 2018

Fakebook has had to ditch its fake news flag after finding that people don’t just blindly listen to them when they declare something to be fake! Imagine that! Happy new year everyone!

SHOW NOTES: https://www.corbettreport.com/?p=25625

January 11, 2018 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular, Video | | 1 Comment

The FBI Hand Behind Russia-gate

By Ray McGovern | Consortium News | January 11, 2018

Russia-gate is becoming FBI-gate, thanks to the official release of unguarded text messages between loose-lipped FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok and his garrulous girlfriend, FBI lawyer Lisa Page. (Ten illustrative texts from their exchange appear at the end of this article.)

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in their third debate,
as Clinton called Trump Vladimir Putin’s “puppet.”

Despite his former job as chief of the FBI’s counterintelligence section, Strzok had the naive notion that texting on FBI phones could not be traced. Strzok must have slept through “Security 101.” Or perhaps he was busy texting during that class. Girlfriend Page cannot be happy at being misled by his assurance that using office phones would be a secure way to conduct their affair(s).

It would have been unfortunate enough for Strzok and Page to have their adolescent-sounding texts merely exposed, revealing the reckless abandon of star-crossed lovers hiding (they thought) secrets from cuckolded spouses, office colleagues, and the rest of us. However, for the never-Trump plotters in the FBI, the official release of just a fraction (375) of almost 10,000 messages does incalculably more damage than that.

We suddenly have documentary proof that key elements of the U.S. intelligence community were trying to short-circuit the U.S. democratic process. And that puts in a new and dark context the year-long promotion of Russia-gate. It now appears that it was not the Russians trying to rig the outcome of the U.S. election, but leading officials of the U.S. intelligence community, shadowy characters sometimes called the Deep State.

More of the Strzok-Page texting dialogue is expected to be released. And the Department of Justice Inspector General reportedly has additional damaging texts from others on the team that Special Counsel Robert Mueller selected to help him investigate Russia-gate.

Besides forcing the removal of Strzok and Page, the text exposures also sounded the death knell for the career of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, in whose office some of the plotting took place and who has already announced his plans to retire soon.

But the main casualty is the FBI’s 18-month campaign to sabotage candidate-and-now-President Donald Trump by using the Obama administration’s Russia-gate intelligence “assessment,” electronic surveillance of dubious legality, and a salacious dossier that could never pass the smell test, while at the same time using equally dubious techniques to immunize Hillary Clinton and her closest advisers from crimes that include lying to the FBI and endangering secrets.

Ironically, the Strzok-Page texts provide something that the Russia-gate investigation has been sorely lacking: first-hand evidence of both corrupt intent and action. After months of breathless searching for “evidence” of Russian-Trump collusion designed to put Trump in the White House, what now exists is actual evidence that senior officials of the Obama administration colluded to keep Trump out of the White House – proof of what old-time gumshoes used to call “means, motive and opportunity.”

Even more unfortunately for Russia-gate enthusiasts, the FBI lovers’ correspondence provides factual evidence exposing much of the made-up “Resistance” narrative – the contrived storyline that The New York Times and much of the rest of the U.S. mainstream media deemed fit to print with little skepticism and few if any caveats, a scenario about brilliantly devious Russians that not only lacks actual evidence – relying on unverified hearsay and rumor – but doesn’t make sense on its face.

The Russia-gate narrative always hinged on the preposterous notion that Russian President Vladimir Putin foresaw years ago what no American political analyst considered even possible, the political ascendancy of Donald Trump. According to the narrative, the fortune-telling Putin then risked creating even worse tensions with a nuclear-armed America that would – by all odds – have been led by a vengeful President Hillary Clinton.

Besides this wildly improbable storyline, there were flat denials from WikiLeaks, which distributed the supposedly “hacked” Democratic emails, that the information came from Russia – and there was the curious inability of the National Security Agency to use its immense powers to supply any technical evidence to support the Russia-hack scenario.

The Trump Shock

But the shock of Trump’s election and the decision of many never-Trumpers to cast their lot with the Resistance led to a situation in which any prudent skepticism or demand for evidence was swept aside.

So, on Jan. 6, 2017, President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper released an evidence-free report that he said was compiled by “hand-picked” analysts from the CIA, FBI and NSA, offering an “assessment” that Russia and President Putin were behind the release of the Democratic emails in a plot to help Trump win the presidency.

Despite the extraordinary gravity of the charge, even New York Times correspondent Scott Shane noted that proof was lacking. He wrote at the time: “What is missing from the [the Jan. 6] public report is what many Americans most eagerly anticipated: hard evidence to back up the agencies’ claims that the Russian government engineered the election attack. … Instead, the message from the agencies essentially amounts to ‘trust us.’”

But the “assessment” served a useful purpose for the never-Trumpers: it applied an official imprimatur on the case for delegitimizing Trump’s election and even raised the long-shot hope that the Electoral College might reverse the outcome and possibly install a compromise candidate, such as former Secretary of State Colin Powell, in the White House. Though the Powell ploy fizzled, the hope of somehow removing Trump from office continued to bubble, fueled by the growing hysteria around Russia-gate.

Virtually all skepticism about the evidence-free “assessment” was banned. For months, the Times and other newspapers of record repeated the lie that all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies had concurred in the conclusion about the Russian “hack.” Even when that falsehood was belatedly acknowledged, the major news outlets just shifted the phrasing slightly to say that U.S. intelligence agencies had reached the Russian “hack” conclusion. Shane’s blunt initial recognition about the lack of proof disappeared from the mainstream media’s approved narrative of Russia-gate.

Doubts about the Russian “hack” or dissident suggestions that what we were witnessing was a “soft coup” were scoffed at by leading media commentators. Other warnings from veteran U.S. intelligence professionals about the weaknesses of the Russia-gate narrative and the danger of letting politicized intelligence overturn a constitutional election were also brushed aside in pursuit of the goal of removing Trump from the White House.

It didn’t even seem to matter when new Russia-gate disclosures conflicted with the original narrative that Putin had somehow set Trump up as a Manchurian candidate. All normal journalistic skepticism was jettisoned. It was as if the Russia-gate advocates started with the conclusion that Trump must go and then made the facts fit into that mold, but anyone who noted the violations of normal investigative procedures was dismissed as a “Trump enabler” or a “Moscow stooge.”

The Text Evidence

But then came the FBI text messages, providing documentary evivdence that key FBI officials involved in the Russia-gate investigation were indeed deeply biased and out to get Trump, adding hard proof to Trump’s longstanding lament that he was the subject of a “witch hunt.”

Justified or not, Trump’s feeling of vindication could hardly be more dangerous — particularly at a time when the most urgent need is to drain some testosterone from the self-styled Stable-Genius-in-Chief and his martinet generals.

On the home front, Trump, his wealthy friends, and like-thinkers in Congress may now feel they have an even wider carte blanche to visit untold misery on the poor, the widow, the stranger and other vulnerable humans. That was always an underlying danger of the Resistance’s strategy to seize on whatever weapons were available – no matter how reckless or unfair – to “get Trump.”

Beyond that, Russia-gate has become so central to the Washington establishment’s storyline that there appears to be no room for second-thoughts or turning back. The momentum is such that some Democrats and the media never-Trumpers can’t stop stoking the smoke of Russia-gate and holding out hope against hope that it will somehow justify Trump’s impeachment.

Yet, the sordid process of using legal/investigative means to settle political scores further compromises the principle of the “rule of law” and integrity of journalism in the eyes of many Americans. After a year of Russia-gate, the “rule of law” and “pursuit of truth” appear to have been reduced to high-falutin’ phrases for political score-setttling, a process besmirched by Republicans in earlier pursuits of Democrats and now appearing to be a bipartisan method for punishing political rivals regardless of the lack of evidence.

Strzok and Page

Peter Strzok (pronounced “struck”) has an interesting pedigree with multiple tasks regarding both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump. As the FBI’s chief of counterespionage during the investigation into then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s unauthorized use of a personal email server for classified information, Strzok reportedly changed the words “grossly negligent” (which could have triggered legal prosecution) to the far less serious “extremely careless” in FBI Director James Comey’s depiction of Clinton’s actions. This semantic shift cleared the way for Comey to conclude just 20 days before the Democratic National Convention began in July 2016, that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring charges against Mrs. Clinton.

Then, as Deputy Assistant Director of the Counterintelligence Division, Strzok led the FBI’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election of 2016. It is a safe bet that he took a strong hand in hand-picking the FBI contingent of analysts that joined “hand-picked” counterparts from CIA and NSA in preparing the evidence-free, Jan. 6, 2017 assessment accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of interfering in the election of 2016. (Although accepted in Establishment groupthink as revealed truth, that poor excuse for analysis reflected the apogee of intelligence politicization — rivaled only by the fraudulent intelligence on “weapons of mass destruction“ in Iraq 15 years ago.)

In June and July 2017 Strzok was the top FBI official working on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia, but was taken off that job when the Justice Department IG learned of the Strzok-Page text-message exchange and told Mueller.

There is no little irony in the fact that what did in the FBI sweathearts was their visceral disdain for Mr. Trump, their cheerleading-cum-kid-gloves treatment of Mrs. Clinton and her associates, their 1950-ish, James Clapperesque attitude toward Russians as “almost genetically driven” to evil, and their (Strzok/Page) elitist conviction that they know far better what is good for the country than regular American citizens, including those “deplorables” whom Clinton said made up half of Trump’s supporters.

But Strzok/Page had no idea that their hubris, elitism and scheming would be revealed in so tangible a way. Worst of all for them, the very thing that Strzok, in particular, worked so hard to achieve — the sabotaging of Trump and immunization of Mrs. Clinton and her closest advisers is now coming apart at the seams.

Congress: Oversee? or Overlook?

At this point, the $64 question is whether the various congressional oversight committees will remain ensconced in their customarily cozy role as “overlook” committees, or whether they will have the courage to attempt to carry out their Constitutional duty. The latter course would mean confronting a powerful Deep State and its large toolbox of well-practiced retaliatory techniques, including J. Edgar Hoover-style blackmail on steroids, enabled by electronic surveillance of just about everything and everyone. Yes, today’s technology permits blanket collection, and “Collect Everything” has become the motto.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, with almost four decades of membership in the House and Senate, openly warned incoming President Trump in January 2017 against criticizing the U.S. intelligence community because U.S. intelligence officials have “six ways from Sunday to get back at you” if you are “dumb” enough to take them on.

Thanks to the almost 10,000 text messages between Strzok and Page, only a small fraction of which were given to Congress four weeks ago, there is now real evidentiary meat on the bones of the suspicions that there indeed was a “deep-state coup” to “correct” the outcome of the 2016 election. We now know that the supposedly apolitical FBI officials had huge political axes to grind. The Strzok-Page exchanges drip with disdain for Trump and those deemed his smelly deplorable supporters. In one text message, Strzok expressed visceral contempt for those working-class Trump voters, writing on Aug. 26, 2016, “Just went to a southern Virginia Walmart. I could SMELL the Trump support. … it’s scary real down here.”

The texts even show Strzok warning of the need for an “insurance policy” to thwart Trump on the off-chance that his poll numbers closed in on those of Mrs. Clinton.

An Aug. 6, 2016 text message, for example, shows Page giving her knight in shining armor strong affirmation: “Maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace [Trump].” That text to Strzok includes a link to a David Brooks column in The New York Times, in which Brooks concludes with the clarion call: “There comes a time when neutrality and laying low become dishonorable. If you’re not in revolt, you’re in cahoots. When this period and your name are mentioned, decades hence, your grandkids will look away in shame.”

Another text message shows that other senior government officials – alarmed at the possibility of a Trump presidency – joined the discussion. In an apparent reference to an August 2016 meeting with FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Strzok wrote to Page on Aug. 15, 2016, “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way he [Trump] gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk.”  Strzok added, “It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event that you die before you’re 40.”

Insurance Policy?

Senate Judiciary Committee chair Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, says he will ask Strzok to explain the “insurance policy” when he calls him to testify. What seems already clear is that the celebrated “Steele Dossier” was part of the “insurance,” as was the evidence-less legend that Russia hacked the DNC’s and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails and gave them to WikiLeaks.

If congressional investigators have been paying attention, they already know what former weapons inspector Scott Ritter shared with Veteran intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) colleagues this week; namely, that Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson, who commissioned the Russia dossier using Democratic Party money, said he reached out to Steele after June 17, just three days before Steele’s first report was published, drawing on seven sources.

“There is a snowball’s chance in hell that this is raw intelligence gathered by Steele; rather he seems to have drawn on a single ‘trusted intermediary’ to gather unsubstantiated rumor already in existence.”

Another VIPS colleague, Phil Giraldi, writing out of his own experience in private sector consulting, added: “The fact that you do not control your sources frequently means that they will feed you what they think you want to hear. Since they are only doing it for money, the more lurid the details the better, as it increases the apparent value of the information. The private security firm in turn, which is also doing it for the money, will pass on the stories and even embroider them to keep the client happy and to encourage him to come back for more. When I read the Steele dossier it looked awfully familiar to me, like the scores of similar reports I had seen which combined bullshit with enough credible information to make the whole product look respectable.”

It is now widely known that the Democrats ponied up the “insurance premiums,” so to speak, for former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele’s “dossier” of lurid — but largely unproven — “intelligence” on Trump and the Russians. If, as many have concluded, the dossier was used to help justify a FISA warrant to snoop on the Trump campaign, those involved will be in deep kimchi, if congressional overseers do their job.

How, you might ask, could Strzok and associates undertake these extra-legal steps with such blithe disregard for the possible consequences should they be caught? The answer is easy; Mrs. Clinton was a shoo-in, remember? This was just extra insurance with no expectation of any “death benefit” ever coming into play — save for Trump’s electoral demise in November 2016. The attitude seemed to be that, if abuse of the FISA law should eventually be discovered — there would be little interest in a serious investigation by the editors of The New York Times and other anti-Trump publications and whatever troubles remained could be handled by President Hillary Clinton.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, who chairs the Judiciary Subcommittee of Judiciary on Crime and Terrorism, joined Sen. Grassley in signing the letter referring Christopher Steele to the Justice Department to investigate what appear to be false statements about the dossier. In signing, Graham noted the “many stop signs the Department of Justice ignored in its use of the dossier.” The signature of committee ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, however, was missing — an early sign that a highly partisan battle royale is in the offing. On Tuesday, Feinstein unilaterally released a voluminous transcript of Glenn Simpson’s earlier testimony and, as though on cue, Establishment pundits portrayed Steele as a good source and Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson as a victim.

The Donnybrook is now underway; the outcome uncertain.

+++++++++++++

Sample text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, released to Congress and the media on December 13, 2016

++++++++++++++

03/04/2016

Strzok – God Hillary should win. 100,000,000-0.

Page – I know

++++++++++++

04/02/2016

Page – So look, you say we text on that phone when we talk about Hillary because it can’t be traced, you were just venting, bc you feel bad that you’re gone so much but that can’t be helped right now.

++++++++++

07/08/2016

Strzok – And meanwhile, we have Black Lives Matter protestors, right now, chanting “no justice no peace” around DoJ and the White House…

Page – That’s awful.

+++++++++

07/14/2016

Page – Have you read this? It’s really frightening. For Whites Sensing Decline, Donald Trump Unleashes Words of Resistance http://NYTI/ms/29WCu5!

Strzok – I have not. But I think it’s clear he’s capturing all the white, poor voters who the mainstream republicans abandoned in all but name in the quest for the almighty $$$

Page – Yeah, it’s not good.

Strzok – Poll Finds Emails Weighing on Hillary Clinton, Now Tied With Donald Trump http://nyti.ms/29RV5gf

Page – It is

+++++++++++++

07/26/2016

Strzok – And hey. Congrats on a woman nominated for President in a major party! About damn time! Many many more returns of the day!!

Page – That’s cute. Thanks

++++++++++

08/06/2016

Page – Jesus. You should read this. And Trump should go f himself. Moment in Convention Glare Shakes Up Khans American Life http://nyti.ms/2aHulE0

Strzok – God that’s a great article. Thanks for sharing. And F TRUMP.

++++++++

08/06/2016

Page – And maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace. To that end comma, read this:

Page – Trump Enablers Will Finally Have to Take A Stand http://nyti.ms/2aFakry

Strzok – Thanks. It’s absolutely true that we’re both very fortunate. And of course I’ll try and approach it that way. I just know it will be tough at times. I can protect our country at many levels, not sure if that helps

++++++++++++

08/09/2016

Page – He’s not ever going to become president, right? Right?!

Strzok – OMG did you hear what Trump just said?

+++++++++++

08/26/2016

Strzok – Just went to a southern Virginia Walmart. I could SMELL the Trump support…

Page – Yep. Out to lunch with (redacted) We both hate everyone and everything.

Page – Just riffing on the hot mess that is our country.

Strzok – Yeah…it’s scary real down here

+++++++++

10/20/2016

Strzok: I am riled up. Trump is a f***ing idiot, is unable to provide a coherent answer.

Strzok – I CAN’T PULL AWAY, WHAT THE F**K HAPPENED TO OUR COUNTRY (redacted)??!?!

Page– I don’t know. But we’ll get it back. We’re America. We rock.

Strzok– Donald just said “bad hombres”

Strzok– Trump just said what the FBI did is disgraceful.

END

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington.  He was an Army and CIA intelligence analyst for 30 years; prepared and briefed the President’s Daily Brief for Nixon, Ford, and Reagan; and is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

January 11, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Pentagon Seeking New Technologies in Preparation for Space Wars

Sputnik – January 11, 2018

WASHINGTON – The United States is seeking help from 11 unspecified organizations to develop tools and techniques to manage US military operations in outer space, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) said in a press release on Wednesday.

“To help ensure future US technological and strategic superiority, DARPA’s Hallmark program seeks to develop revolutionary tools and technologies to plan, assess, and execute US military operations in space,” the release said. “The program has completed initial research and awarded Phase 1 contracts to 11 organizations, which both augment existing commercial technologies and pursue entirely new capabilities.”

DARPA described Hallmark’s Phase 1 as one of the first instances of using “cognitive evaluation” to develop tools for U.S. military command and control in space.

Cognitive evaluation, the release explained, refers to tool-and-task combinations that quickly convey information, thereby enhancing real-time decision making.

Recently a new report revealed, that the latest version of the US’ fiscal year 2018 appropriations bill already designates more funding to a space-based ballistic missile defense capability, which includes developing a sensor layer to detect incoming intercontinental ballistic missiles as well as an interceptor to neutralize threats.

January 11, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | | Leave a comment

Who or What Is Feeding the Unrest in Iran?

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 11.01.2018

There are two general theories about the protests that are taking place in Iran. One, unfavorable to the Iranian government and establishment, is that the widespread discontent and rioting is over mismanagement of the economy that has particularly hurt poorer Iranians. The other is that we are seeing a contemporary replay of 1953 Iran and the downfall of Mohammad Mossadegh, which was orchestrated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the British MI-6.

The Iranian public’s expectation that the nuclear deal would lead to improvements in their lives were wrecked by Donald Trump’s decertification of the agreement and expectations that the pact would be wrecked by America’s renewing sanctions on Iran later this month. All of Trump’s advisers are hostile to Iran and it has also been reported that tearing up the agreement derived from a personal pledge made by Trump to Israeli/American billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who also demanded that the US Embassy be moved to Jerusalem.

The vanishing nuclear deal and struggling economy bore fruit in the 2018 government budget that cut subsidies on food and government services while increasing fuel and commodity prices. Religious institutions controlled by the Supreme Religious Council and the business entities run by the Revolutionary Guards were reportedly spared the cuts, fueling popular anger.

If Donald Trump had really cared about the protesters or democracy, he would have said nothing about the protests. Instead, he appears intent on using the Iranian government suppression of the demonstrations to finally kill the nuclear deal by reinstating sanctions. He has tweeted five times, supporting the Iranian people who are seeking democracy but also giving the Tehran government a club to use against the demonstrators by claiming that they are tools of foreign governments, which is exactly what it is doing.

But given the history of foreign interventions in the Middle East, is the United States or Israel plausibly involved in the demonstrations? The answer to that is both yes and no. There is considerable evidence that the United States and possibly Israel, joined by Saudi Arabia, have set up several command centers in Iraq and Afghanistan to support the protests. They have been using social networking as well as radio broadcasts to encourage the people to get out and demonstrate. One such station called AmadNews, broadcasting from outside Iran, called on demonstrators to attack police stations and government buildings. It appears to be a US government front manned by Persian speaking Israelis. It’s actual ability to drive the demonstrations appears, however, to be questionable.

On the covert action front, neither the CIA or Mossad has the resources on the ground to infiltrate and direct crowds of people to act, so the Iranian government claim that there are outside agitators can largely be regarded as propaganda for its own domestic audience. The CIA’s infrastructure in Iran was devastated in the 1990s and was never effectively reconstituted. The Agency post-Director George Tenet also concentrated heavily on paramilitary activity and lost much of its ability to spot, assess, recruit, train and run agents. Developing a spy network in a country like Iran where the United States lacks any physical presence and does not even have an Embassy is a daunting task.

This is not to say that the US and Israel are not heavily focused on Iran. In a recent conference, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster claimed, completely inaccurately, that Iran is the source of sectarian violence and supports jihadist networks “across the Arab world.” Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the National Security Council’s former senior director for intelligence had previously commented that the White House intended to use American spies to “regime change” the Iranian government.

With that objective in mind, in June new CIA Director Mike Pompeo created a special Iran combined task force under Michael D’Andrea, nicknamed the Dark Prince or Mike Ayatollah, a controversial but highly regarded Middle East specialist who is himself a convert to Islam. D’Andrea has reportedly been very active, but reconstituting a network takes time and is, of necessity, work done carefully and methodically. Pompeo, in his desire to relearn old fashioned spying and covert action, has more recently announced that the Agency will be working to recover its “viciousness,” but it is presumably not there yet.

January 11, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 3 Comments

US to Fight Iran’s Presence in Syria With Aggressive Sanctions – State Department

Sputnik – 11.01.2018

WASHINGTON – The United States plans to use aggressive sanctions to diminish the influence of Iran in Syria and remove Iranian-backed troops from the country, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield said in testimony before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday.

When asked how the United States will remove Iranian troops from Syria, Satterfield said, “Senator, it’s a combination of measures. First and foremost it is aggressive sanctioning and measures undertaken by the US and our partners to deny the physical tools, the ability to move assets and the ability to finance Iran’s activities.”

The US will remain present in Syria after the military conflict ends in order to ensure stability in the region and assist its allies, he said.

“We are going to stay for several reasons: stabilization and assistance in the vital north and north-east; [and] protection of our allies the Syrian Democratic Forces who have fought so valiantly against ISIS [Daesh] in the north-east.”

Satterfield explained that working to help transform political structures to produce a model for the rest of Syria as well as countering Iran’s efforts to enhance its presence in the region are some of the other reasons for the US decision to remain on the ground in Syria.

Responding to a question of how to avoid the prospect of a “never-ending war,” Satterfield said the conditions for recalling US troops will be determined on the set of conditions and the broader assessment of the situation in Syria.

There are no “hard dates” set for when US troops may return back to the United States, Satterfield added.

Iran, one of the state-guarantors of the Syrian ceasefire along with Russia and Turkey, has admitted that it was sending military advisors to Syria in order to help the legitimate government’s fight against terrorism, however, denied allegations of plans to set a military base in the country.

‘Assad Must Go’

According to Satterfield, Washington and its allies will not help the Syrian government with reconstruction if President Bashar Assad is in power.

“The international community’s committed itself not to provide that reconstruction assistance until those goals — constitutional reform, UN-supervised elections — are realized,” he said.

He also said that the US will not support a Syrian peace conference in the Russian resort city of Sochi if the participants seek to create a separate track to the United Nations’ Geneva peace process.

“Our position with respect to Russia is we cannot and will not legitimize a Russian alternate political process which is independent of and not supported and endorsed by the [UN] Secretary General,” Satterfield said when asked about the upcoming talks in Sochi.

Satterfield emphasized that neither the UN chief nor the United States would accept a peace process “like Astana” that creates a second track that is “nominally part of Geneva but in practice under Russian control and direction and only informing Geneva and the UN as outcomes are derived.”

Amid the course of the Syrian civil war that erupted in 2011, US and its regional and European allies have been calling for Assad’s removal from power, while Russia and Iran insisted that it is up to the Syrians to decide their own future.

January 11, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , | 2 Comments

Canadian Research Adds to Worry Over an Environmental Threat the Pentagon Has Downplayed for Decades

By Abrahm Lustgarten | ProPublica | January 9, 2018

New research by Canadian scientists into the spread of a chemical commonly used in military explosives has confirmed some of the worst fears of U.S. environmental regulators tracking the threat posed by the Pentagon’s handling of its munitions in this country.

The Canadian research analyzed soil and water samples at nine sites where military explosives were detonated between 1990 and 2014, and came up with data about where and in what concentrations the explosive compound known as RDX, a possible human carcinogen, had turned up. Calling RDX “an internationally known problem,” which “has led to an international warning on possible soil, surface water, and groundwater contamination on military training sites,” the research described with actual measurements how RDX floats on the wind and seeps through soils into water supplies.

The researchers took water samples from groundwater at the explosives sites and found that in 26 out of 36 samples, the RDX that had made its way into aquifers exceeded levels considered safe. As a result, the researchers suggest that the data can be used to model RDX contamination at any site where munitions are routinely detonated, and for the first time, give environmental experts a way to quantify how much of it is spreading into surrounding communities.

RDX was considered a major military breakthrough when it was first developed for large-scale use on the eve of World War II, and to this day it remains a staple of the U.S. military’s war-making abilities, used in bombs, missiles and other weapons. And for decades, the Pentagon has known about RDX’s potential health and environmental threat. But the Pentagon has long maintained that the risk is not great, and it has both financed research and flexed its political muscle to have its view prevail. Most recently, the Pentagon has waged an intense fight to not have the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency upgrade its classification of RDX’s health threat, a move that could expose the Department of Defense to billions of added dollars in cleanup costs.

At a minimum, the Canadian research — published Nov. 17 in the Journal of Environmental Quality — will add to the store of knowledge about RDX contamination. The research found that while the highest concentrations of RDX remained in a ring around the sites where munitions had exploded, pieces of explosive, perhaps as large as a centimeter, were carried on the wind and later settled in the soil. Surface and groundwater samples showed that the RDX ultimately did not quickly dissolve or degrade as it sank deeper into the earth, where it usually was carried into water supplies.

Harry Craig, one of the Environmental Protection Agency’s foremost experts on explosives contamination, has described RDX as the single greatest problem the U.S. faces when it comes to cleaning up thousands of toxic munitions sites across the country. In an email to agency colleagues, Craig described the Canadian research as both novel and useful.

ProPublica reported on the history of RDX and the Department of Defense’s long-standing campaign to minimize its risks and fight EPA regulation in December. RDX has been discovered at dozens of U.S. defense sites, and increasingly in public drinking water supplies around them. After early research by the U.S. Army determined that RDX was likely responsible for cancerous tumors in rats and mice, the Department of Defense has produced dozens of reports portraying RDX as more benign.

The new report from Canadian scientists confirms some things that the Pentagon had long sought to deny: that RDX contamination was likely to be present in most places where munitions were exploded or detonated, and that once it was present in soil, RDX moved easily into water supplies. The Canadian findings suggest that RDX contamination on or around defense sites in the U.S. could be even more widespread than is already known.

The Canadian report, authored by researchers at the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique, Centre Eau, Terre et Environnement, and at Defence Research and Development Canada, both in Quebec, lists several U.S. sites with concentrations of RDX contamination that had not been previously disclosed in environmental data the Pentagon had provided to ProPublica. At Fort Hood, in Texas, RDX was present at dangerous levels. The same was true at Fort Greely in Alaska and Fort Bliss in New Mexico.

January 11, 2018 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

War propaganda

By Paul Robinson | Irrussianality | January 10, 2018

Article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which was ratified by the United Nations General Assembly in 1966, obliges states to impose certain restrictions on freedom of speech. The article was the product of a long debate among UN members. Countries from the Soviet bloc and many non-aligned nations, notably Brazil, were keen to include a prohibition on propaganda for war, and also to make it as broadly defined as possible – that is to say to ban not just incitement of war, but propaganda on behalf of war more generally. Western states, by contrast, were rather more reluctant to include the provision, and in so far as they were willing to accept it, wanted to limit it just to incitement. In the end, the West lost the debate. The final wording of Article 20 states clearly: “Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law.”

In the aftermath of the Covenant, communist countries in many cases enacted suitable provisions in their domestic law. For instance, a Soviet law entitled ‘The Defence of Peace’ stated that ‘war propaganda’ of any sort was a criminal offence. East Germany similarly made propaganda for a war an offence punishable by up to eight years in prison. To this day, many post-communist states retain similar provisions in their law. Moldova’s constitutions, for instance, prohibits incitement to war; Armenia’s constitution bans speech ‘for the purposes of  … propaganda for violence and war’; and the criminal codes in Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzia, and Latvia similarly ban any ‘advocacy for war’. Some other countries, such as Morocco and Kenya have also enacted legislation to this end. Apart from Germany, however, states in the Western world have not met their obligation under the Covenant.

In the English speaking world, meanwhile, propaganda for war is not only not prohibited, but actually quite respectable, and scarily common. Take, for instance, an article published this week by Foreign Policy magazine, and entitled ‘It’s time to bomb North Korea.’ I wish that I could say that this is an isolated case, but it isn’t. Over the past two decades, the American and British press has published no shortage of articles calling for a military attack on this country or that. To use just the example of the New York Times, in March 2015 it published a piece by John Bolton entitled ‘To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran’; in 2012, it printed an article by Michael Doran and Max Boot entitled ‘5 Reasons to Intervene in Syria Now’; in 2011, it ran several op-eds urging Western powers to intervene in Libya (such as this and this); and of course in 2003, it famously supported the invasion of Iraq. And that’s just one newspaper. It’s a story repeated across the Western media. There must have been hundreds of articles in different outlets urging the bombing or invasion of countries such as Yugoslavia, Iraq, Iran, Syria, and North Korea.

It has been argued that enacting a prohibition on war propaganda as required by the International Covenant is impossible as the term ‘war propaganda’ cannot be properly defined. But this is a poor argument. In the past 15 years, numerous Western states have enacted laws prohibiting incitement to terrorism and in some cases, such as the British 2006 Terrorism Act, even the ‘glorification of terrorism’. Just suggesting that terrorism might on occasion be justified is sufficient to get you locked up in some countries. In Canada, for example, it is a crime to ‘advocate’ terrorism. Yet, you can advocate for war as much as you like.

This is despite the obvious fact that war is far more damaging than terrorism. The number of people killed by terrorists in the past 20 years pales into insignificance when compared to number killed in the wars which states, including those in the Western world, have started. It is a serious crime to advocate for the killing of a few. But advocating for the killing of human beings en masse is quite all right.

Sadly, in the English-speaking world, war propaganda isn’t just respectable; it’s mainstream. It shouldn’t be.

January 11, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

Terrorists Keep Obtaining Weapons of States in US-led Coalition

 Sputnik – January 11, 2018

It’s been three days since Russia prevented a terrorist attack on its bases in Syria, with terrorists, as unexpected as it may seem, using sophisticated drones to strike the facilities.

Commenting on the issue, Pentagon said that the devices of such kind “could easily be obtained in the open market,” while the Russian Defense Ministry has stated that such technology could be supplied only by an advanced state.

While it is still being investigated, where did the terrorists get the technology? This is not the first time they have gotten access to advanced technologies, sometimes entirely by a chance.

Sputnik recaps the most resonant cases, when terrorist groups in the Middle East got hold of highly sophisticated weaponry.

Syrian MoD Report

In October 2017, the Syrian Defense Ministry released a report with footage of ammunition confiscated from numerous terrorist organizations, including Daesh and al-Nusra Front, now named Tahrir al-Sham, claiming that those weapons had been manufactured in the United States or by its close allies. The report outlined that those groups were supplied with “rockets, rifles, machine guns, anti-air weapons and even tanks” allegedly in exchange for oil from the territories. By a cruel twist of fate, those weapons happened to be a part of the routine “arms delivery” by the anti-Daesh coalition to the “moderate opposition”.

Anti-Aircraft Missiles

In August 2017, the Lebanese army, which has been engaged in rooting Daesh out from a northeastern region of Lebanon bordering Syria, discovered anti-aircraft missiles, among other weapons, in an abandoned area. Moreover, the Lebanese, who have apparently done a great job, uncovered surface-to-air missiles left by al-Nusra Front militants in an area captured by Hezbollah and then taken over by the army. As early as 2013, The New York Times reported that Qatar was sending MANPADS (“man-portable air-defense-system”) to Syria and said that these might potentially go straight to Al-Qaeda to shoot down civilian aircraft.

Rebel-fighters monitor the sky holding a man-portable air-defence system (MANPADS) in the Syrian village of Teir Maalah, on the northern outskirts of Homs, on April 20, 2016.

© AFP 2018/ MAHMOUD TAHA
Rebel-fighters monitor the sky holding a man-portable air-defence system (MANPADS) in the Syrian village of Teir Maalah, on the northern outskirts of Homs, on April 20, 2016.

Humvees

In 2015, Iraqi security forces lost 2,300 Humvee armored vehicles, supplied by the United States, when the northern city of Mosul collapsed. They were designed as a fast means to carry personnel and supplies to the battlefield, but later Daesh re-purposed them into car bombs with improvised explosive devices. Since then, Humvee car bombs became an integral part of the group’s military tactics due to the weapons’ devastating power and the vehicle’s ability to move fast.

Anti-Tank Missiles

By spring 2014, a year after then-President Barack Obama approved the first direct US military aid to rebel groups in Syria, the US-manufactured BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missiles began to appear in the hands of various anti-Bashar Assad groups. Subsequently, in November 2015, Russian journalists were attacked with the use of those ant-tank missile systems.

Supplies for Kurds

In October 2014, the Pentagon admitted that due to unforeseen circumstances, one of the airdrops initially intended for Kurds in the besieged Kobani, wound up in the hands of Daesh militants. The group immediately issued a video to boast of the newly-acquired weapons, which were meant to destroy them.

Bonus

Probably everyone who has ever watched videos released by the terrorist group Daesh has noticed that jihadists have been driving Toyota trucks. Certainly, cars are not related to “sophisticated weapons,” but many have wondered how the famous car-maker wound up becoming part of the Daesh “brand”. Well, here’s an explanation: when the US State Department decided to send aid to Syrian rebels, their wish-list, among many other things, included 43 Toyota trucks, which would make it easier for them to move on the ground.

READ MORE:

Attackers of Russian Bases in Syria Couldn’t Get Their Location From Net — MoD

US Weapons Went From Syrian Rebels to Daesh in Less than Two Months — Study

January 11, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Yes, Palestinians Teach Their Children to Hate the Jewish State

By Rima Najjar | Palestine Chronicle | January 9, 2018

Zionism is an insidious ideology. Its ideologues often gain traction by well-placed and oft repeated constructs – in films and TV series, in posts and comments on social media, and even in academia. So, it is no wonder that people end up having ideas about certain things, like the nature of Israel, the Zionist Jewish state, or the nature of Palestinian Arab culture and identity, or the nature of Jewish culture and identity, as if by osmosis.

One of these “memes” in the air, if you will, is the oft repeated comment by hasbara agents on social media that says Palestinian children teach their children to hate Jews. This notion can also be found in numerous attacks on the Palestinian Authority curriculum with the same accusation of “teaching children to hate Jews”, when in fact, the opposite is true, as is often the case with Zionist propaganda (see Nurit Peled-Elhanan’s Palestine in Israeli School Books: Ideology and Propaganda in Education – Library of Modern Middle East Studies).

An experience that caused me to be suspended from posting on Facebook for three days illustrates the above.

The comment cited in the Facebook warning is clearly out of context – the fourth word (bolded in what follows) indicates a continuity with something that came before it:

“It’s true, though, Palestinians teach their children to hate the Jewish state, as So they must.”

Zionist hasbara about Jewish identity is so ingrained that Facebook takes an attack on the Zionist Jewish state to be synonymous with attacking “people based on their religion, etc. …”

The censured comment was in response to an assertion during discussion that Palestinians teach their children to hate. I objected to that, making the distinction between hating Jews and hating Israel, the Jewish state that continues to dispossess and oppress Palestinians, to “exist” on stolen Palestinian land and property, keeping Palestinians languishing in refugee camps for close to 70 years now (See Palestine refugees, UNRWA), its politicians stating shamelessly that Palestinian children are a “demographic threat”. (See To understand the history of Palestinian dispossession look to the words of Zionist and Israeli leaders)

Put another way, as Rafeef Ziadeh, the Canadian-Palestinian spoken word artist and activist, put it in a powerful poem, we teach our children life, we teach them to survive.

Sari Nusseibeh, professor of philosophy at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem and president of the University for seventeen years, wrote an article titled Why Israel can’t be a ‘Jewish State’. He cites several implications for why not, the most important of which is the following:

“In short, recognition of Israel as a “Jewish State” in Israel is not the same as, say, recognition of Greece today as a “Christian State”. It entails, in the Old Testament itself, a Covenant between God and a Chosen People regarding a Promised Land that should be taken by force at the expense of the other inhabitants of the land and of non-Jews. This idea is not present as such in other religions that we know of. Moreover, even secular and progressive voices in Israel, such as former president of the Supreme Court of Israel, Aharon Barak, understand the concept of a “Jewish State” as follows:

“”[The] Jewish State is the state of the Jewish people … it is a state in which every Jew has the right to return … a Jewish state derives its values from its religious heritage, the Bible is the basic of its books and Israel’s prophets are the basis of its morality … a Jewish state is a state in which the values of Israel, Torah, Jewish heritage and the values of the Jewish halacha (religious law) are the bases of its values.”” (‘A State in Emergency’, Ha’aretz, June 19, 2005.)

Palestinian parents do not teach their children to hate Jews; they teach their children to hate the Jewish state – for their own survival.

– Rima Najjar is a Palestinian whose father’s side of the family comes from the forcibly depopulated village of Lifta on the western outskirts of Jerusalem. She is an activist, researcher and retired professor of English literature, Al-Quds University, occupied West Bank.

January 11, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , | 2 Comments