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DEA, Congress complicit in US opioid epidemic – whistleblowers

RT | October 16, 2017

The US Drug Enforcement Administration ‘shut off’ investigations into large distributors of addictive opioid pills, while a new law made it nearly impossible to prosecute them, the agency’s former employees said.

During the Obama administration, the drug industry used their money and influence to pressure top lawyers at the DEA to take a softer approach to investigating large distributors of opioid pills, even when there was ample evidence of suspicious dealings, Joe Rannazzisi, former head of the DEA’s Office of Diversion Control, told CBS’ 60 Minutes program.

Rannazzisi accused America’s largest painkiller distributors, including Cardinal Health, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen, of “knowingly” turning a blind eye to the addictive pills being diverted to illicit use.

Former attorney at the DEA Jonathan Novak told CBS that in 2013 he also noticed a sea change in the way prosecutions of big distributors were handled, as his supervisors turned down cases they would have once easily approved. The DEA operates under the Department of Justice.

“These were not cases where it was black – where it was grey… These were cases where the evidence was crystal clear that there was wrongdoing going on,” Novak said.

Jim Geldhof, another former DEA investigator, told the program about a West Virginia case he was looking into where 11 million pills wound up in one of its counties with a population of just 25,000. He said he suddenly ran into roadblocks from one DEA supervisor.

“Every time I talked to this guy he wants something else. And I get it for him and that’s still not good enough,” Geldhof said. “And this goes on and on and on. When these roadblocks keep get thrown up in your face, at that point you know they just don’t want the case.”

“There was a lotta pills, a lotta people dying, and and we had tools in our toolbox to try to use and stem that flow. But it seemed down in headquarters that that toolbox was shut off,” said another former DEA official, Frank Younker.

The ex-employees said one of the reasons for the roadblocks was the “revolving door” between the DEA and the drug industry, as a number of the administration’s top lawyers landed lobbying jobs for the pharmaceutical companies and drug distributors upon leaving the government.

One such former DEA attorney wrote legislation which “made it all but impossible” to prosecute unscrupulous distributors, according to DEA chief administrative law judge, John J. Mulrooney.

The bill, called Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act, was signed into law by president Obama last year, after it was passed by both chambers of Congress. Critics say it effectively stripped the DEA of its authority to investigate suspicious transactions as the government is now required to meet a higher standard before taking enforcement actions.

After Rannazzisi accused the bill’s co-sponsors Tom Marino (R-Pennsylvania) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) of protecting distributors under his investigation, the lawmakers wrote the inspector general for the Justice Department, demanding that Rannazzisi be investigated for trying to “intimidate the United States Congress.”

Soon after, Rannazzisi was stripped of his responsibilities. He told CBS he went from supervising 600 people to supervising none – so he resigned.

Seven months after the bill became law, Marino’s chief of staff Bill Tighe became a lobbyist for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.

Last month, President Donald Trump nominated Marino to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy. In the wake of the 60 Minute investigation, some congressional Democrats called on the president to withdraw his nomination

Acting DEA chief Chuck Rosenberg, who led the agency under President Barack Obama, resigned at the end of September, reportedly over disagreements with Trump’s policies.

Prescription painkillers have stoked the epidemic of opioid overdoses and addictions across the US.

In August, Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency after his Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis reported that the US faces the death toll equal to “September 11th every three weeks” as the epidemic claims the lives of up to 142 Americans every day.

“60,000 Americans lost their lives to drug overdoses” in 2016, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said later that month.

“That will be the highest drug death toll and the fastest increase in that death toll in American history,” Session stated, adding that “this is not a sustainable trend nor an acceptable America.”

“80 percent of heroin addictions in America started with prescription drug addiction,”  Sessions added, saying that the abuse of prescription drugs needs to be stopped.

October 16, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , | 2 Comments

Tossing bribery charges against Sen. Menendez to ‘decriminalize corruption’

Press TV – October 16, 2017

Prosecutors warn that tossing bribery charges against US Senator Robert Menendez – as being considered by a federal judge—would “decriminalize corruption” and “jettison the vast majority of bribery prosecutions.”

US District Judge William Walls suggested last week that the Justice Department’s bribery charges against Menendez may not move forward based on his reading of a 2016 Supreme Court opinion overturning the conviction of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell.

McDonnell had been convicted of corruption charges for taking gifts from a businessman in exchange for arranging a meeting between him and state officials.

In that ruling, the top court invalidated the “stream of benefits” theory of bribery that prosecutors have used to make legal cases against Menendez and other public officials.

“I know the prosecution had a heyday before McDonnell, and now they have a doomsday after McDonnell,” Walls said.

Federal prosecutors allege that Menendez accepted bribes from his co-defendant Salomon Melgen, a Florida ophthalmologist and longtime friend, in anticipation for the senator’s help “as opportunities arose” in the future.

Melgen has already been convicted in Florida for overbilling the Medicare program by millions of dollars, and faces a potentially lengthy prison sentence.

Prosecutors allege that Menendez intervened with federal agencies on Melgen’s behalf to resolve the billing dispute, to assist a $500 million port security contract, and to obtain US visas for Melgen’s girlfriends.

Menendez and Melgan have both denied the charges, with their attorneys arguing that what prosecutors call bribes were gifts exchanged between friends.

The high-profile case resumes Monday.

Both the Justice Department of defense attorneys filed motions during the weekend to bolster their arguments.

Prosecutors wrote that to dismiss charges against Menendez “would decriminalize the most egregious forms of corruption, incentivizing greedy businessmen to put politicians on retainer and immunizing lawmakers who solicit bribes in exchange for a promise to perform official acts.”

“The Supreme Court did not, and this Court should not, render a decision that has the unsettling effect of legalizing all such conduct.”

In total, the New Jersey Democrat faces six counts of bribery, three counts of honest services fraud, one count of conspiracy, one count of interstate travel to carry out bribery, and one count of making false statements on his congressional financial disclosures.

October 16, 2017 Posted by | Corruption | , | Leave a comment

Pharmaceuticals can be a license to print money

By Pete Dolack | Systemic Disorder | October 11, 2107

It’s no secret that the United States suffers from by far the world’s highest costs for health care. As the most market-oriented health care system among advanced capitalist countries, this is no surprise. Health care in the U.S. is designed to deliver corporate profits, not health care.

On that score, the U.S. system is quite successful. Pharmaceutical companies are at the head of the class in this regard, frequently justifying the spiraling costs of medications by citing large research and development costs that include the costs for drugs that don’t make it to market. There are many drugs that fail to survive testing and become a cost that will never be compensated, that is true. But are these failures really so high to justify the extreme costs of successful drugs?

It would seem not. Firmer proof of that lack of justification has been published by the JAMA Internal Medicine journal, which found that revenue for cancer drugs far outstrips spending on research and development. The article, “Research and Development Spending to Bring a Single Cancer Drug to Market and Revenues After Approval,” prepared by Drs. Vinay Prasad and Sham Mailankody, found that revenue from 10 drugs (one by each of 10 companies) exceed those companies’ total research and development costs by more than seven times.

The total revenue hauled in from these 10 drugs did vary considerably. Two of them earned more than US$20 billion after approval. Both of these high performers cost less than $500 million in research and development costs. The revenue from each of the 10, however, exceeded costs, with widely varied margins. Still profitable: The median revenue of these 10 drugs was $1.7 billion, more than double the median development cost of $648 million, the JAMA Internal Medicine authors report.

The authors write that the median cost to develop a cancer drug represents “a figure significantly lower than prior estimates,” adding that their analysis “provides a transparent estimate of R&D spending on cancer drugs and has implications for the current debate on drug pricing.”

To obtain these figures, the authors analyzed U.S. Securities and Exchange Commissions filings for pharmaceutical companies with no drugs on the U.S. market that received approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a cancer drug from January 1, 2006, through December 31, 2015. Cumulative R&D spending was estimated from initiation of drug development activity to date of approval. Earnings were tracked from the time of approval to March 2017.

The sky’s the limit for pharmaceutical prices

The increase in pharmaceutical prices (blue) versus the general increase in commodities prices (red).

Another way of looking at this would be to examine the increases in the cost of pharmaceuticals against other products. Here again the numbers stand out. Using data gathered by the St. Louis branch of the Federal Reserve Bank, the consumer price index for pharmaceutical preparation manufacturing for the first quarter of 2017 was 747.8, with January 1, 1980, as the benchmark of 100. In other words, the price of pharmaceuticals is seven and half times higher than they were at the start of 1980. (See graph above.)

How does that compare with inflation or other products? Quite well — for pharmaceutical companies. That more than sevenfold increase in drug prices is an increase nearly two and half times greater than inflation for the period, and nearly four times that of all commodities.

So, yes, unconscionable price-gouging is the cause here. By the industry as a whole, not simply individuals like “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli, who might be an outlier in his brazenness but not in his profit-generation plan.

Although not the entire picture, this snapshot of corporate extortion plays a significant role in why the cost of the United States not having a universal health care system is more than $1.4 trillion per year.

Among 19 broadly defined “major” industrial sectors in the U.S., health technology is again expected to be found the most profitable for 2016, with a profit margin of 21.6 percent. Higher even than finance at 17 percent. When narrowing to more specific, narrowly defined industry categories, generic pharmaceuticals sit at the top with an expected 30 percent profit margin for 2016. Major pharmaceuticals rank fourth at 25.5 percent on a list in which health products and finance claim nine of the top 10 spots.

The sky’s the limit for pharmaceutical profits

That’s a repeat of 2015, when health technology had the highest profit margin of 19 broadly defined industrial sectors, at 20.9 percent, topping even finance, the second highest. When a separate study broke down profit margins by more specific industry categories, health care-related industries comprised three of the six most profitable.

Nothing new there, either. A BBC report found that pharmaceuticals and banks tied for the highest average profit margin in 2013, with five pharmaceutical companies enjoying a profit margin of 20 percent or more — Pfizer, Hoffmann-La Roche, AbbVie, GlaxoSmithKline and Eli Lilly. The world’s 10 largest pharmaceutical corporations racked up a composite US$90 billion in profits for 2013, according to the BBC analysis. As to their expenses, these 10 firms spent far more on sales and marketing than they did on research and development.

If those facts and figures aren’t enough, here’s another way of looking at excessive profits — a 2015 study found that, of the 10 corporations that have the highest revenue per employee among the world’s biggest corporations, three are health care companies. Two of the three, Amerisourcebergen and McKesson, both distribute pharmaceuticals, and the other, Express Scrips, administers prescription drug benefits for tens of millions of health-plan members. Each of these primarily operates in the United States, the only advanced-capitalist country without universal health coverage.

The extra layers represented by those three companies demonstrate that there are ample opportunities for corporate profiteering that contribute to extraordinarily high health care costs in the U.S., beyond drug manufacturing and insurance.

And because corporations have the ear of politicians and other government officials, it’s no surprise that one of the primary ongoing goals of the U.S. government for so-called “free trade” agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, is to impose rules that would weaken the national health care systems of other countries. This was done in TPP negotiations at the direct behest of U.S.-based pharmaceutical companies, incensed that countries like New Zealand make thousands of medicines, medical devices and related products available at subsidized costs.

By far the most expensive system while delivering among the worst outcomes and leaving tens of millions uninsured, where tens of thousands die from lack of health care annually. That is the high cost of private profit in health care. Or, to put it more bluntly, allowing the “market” to decide health outcomes instead of health care professionals.

October 15, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Do you have hep C? Pharma hopes so

The sicker you get, the richer they become.

By Martha Rosenberg | Intrepid Report | October 13, 2017

The campaigns are everywhere. On ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX, Animal Planet, the Game Show Network and Syfy. In People, Popular Mechanics and Better Homes and Gardens magazines. On the radio and along subway lines. If you were born between 1945 and 1965, you could have hep C, screams Gilead Sciences, which makes the hep C drug Harvoni.

The campaign seeks to sound like a message from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention addressing public health. But the Hepatitis C “facts” resulting from an Internet search are paid searches from Pharma, not from public health agencies.

Is there new information that shows baby boomers are newly prone to Hep C? Why have we not heard from the “CDC” about this pressing public health threat until now? There is new information—sales information that Gilead Hep C drugs are “plummeting” and new markets are needed.

“Gilead’s hep C blockbusters are in freefall, and its pool of eligible patients has shrunk dramatically thanks to the success of its meds,” says FiercePharma. “If all baby boomers got tested for the virus, though? That could help stem the tide—and it’s exactly the move the company is recommending with its latest awareness push.” Just trying to help.

David Johnson, Gilead VP, U.S. sales and marketing for liver diseases, admits the shameless disease mongering.

“This has been a planned evolution of our disease awareness efforts, to reach a much broader audience once the pool of already diagnosed patients who often had advanced disease and were in need of curative therapy, had been treated,” he says. “This staged approach was also important to ensure healthcare providers were equipped to support patients asking to be tested, as even for primary care providers, this disease was not something that was high on their radar due to the lack of scientific advances in the past to treat the disease.”

Only a handful of drug classes have been advertised more aggressively than hep C drugs, reports Stat News—drugs for erectile dysfunction and psoriasis “that afflict far more patients in the United States” than hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C drugs weigh in at $1,000 a pill—$84,000 for a course of treatment—and have been sacking the taxpayer-funded budgets of state Medicaid programs. States have considered suing over the heisting of their dollars and a Senate committee has looked at the price gouging. “If Gilead’s approach is the future of how blockbuster drugs are launched in America, it’s going to cost billions and billions of dollars to treat just a fraction of patients in America,” said Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon.

Congress is aware of the profiteering. The Senate’s Special Committee on Aging released a 130-page report revealing how “four pharmaceutical companies have taken advantage of our health care system to enrich themselves and their executives, harming patients and taxpayers,” according to the New York Times’ Gretchen Morgenson.

The chairwoman of the committee, Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, and Claire McCaskill, a ranking member, Democrat from Missouri, say they have only begun to scratch the surface. They seek to “stop bad actors who are acquiring drugs that have been off-patent for decades and driving up their prices solely because they can,” they say.

Seeking to sell obscenely priced drugs paid for by the public’s dime to patients with no symptoms is bad enough. But the hep C meds are not even the wonder drugs they were billed as in the beginning. They were rolled out so fast to please Wall Street that Pharma did not know or care that patients with pre-existing, dormant hepatitis B infections could experience reactivation of the infections on the drugs and even die.

A year ago, the FDA found that 24 patients with pre-existing, dormant hepatitis B infections experienced reactivation of the infections while taking the hep C drugs. Two patients died and one required a liver transplant. The FDA promptly added boxed warnings on the hep C drug labels about the possible reactivation of hep B infections.

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices reported unintended liver effects with the aggressively marketed drugs. In one year, between June 2015 and June 2016, 165 people who took Sovaldi (an earlier drug) and Harvoni worldwide died, 524 had liver failure and 1,058 had severe liver injury. Could states have their money back?

Gilead’s unethical ads are halfway right. A terrible thing does happen if baby boomers don’t take its $1,000 a pill: Gilead makes no money.

Martha Rosenberg is a freelance journalist and the author of the highly acclaimed “Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health,” published by Prometheus Books.

October 15, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , | Leave a comment

The Middle East Pivot: Erdoğan’s Turkey Seven Deadly Sins

By James Petras | The Peoples Voice | October 14, 2017

Introduction

Multiple wars ravage the Middle East. Turkey has inserted itself into the middle of most of these regional conflicts and ended up a loser.

Under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey has intervened and formed alliances with a rogue’s gallery of imperial warlords, terrorists-mercenaries, Zionist expansionists, feudal potentates and obscure tribal chiefs, with disastrous economic, political and military consequences for the Turkish nation. In this paper we will discuss Turkey’s domestic and foreign policies and behavior over the past decade. We will conclude with lessons for middle range powers, which might help in future decisions.

President Erdogan’s Domestic Disasters

Throughout the early decade of the 21st century, Erdoğan made a strategic alliance with an influential semi-clandestine organization led by a cult-leading cleric, Fethullah Gülen, who was conveniently self-exiled in the US and under the protection of the US intelligence apparatus. This marriage of convenience was formed in order to weaken the leftist, secular and Ataturk nationalist influenced opposition. Armed with the Gülenists’ treasure trove of forged documents, Erdoğan purged the military of its Ataturk nationalist leadership. He proceeded to marginalize the secular Republican Party and repressed leftist trade union, social movements and prominent academics, journalists, writers and student activists. With support from the Gülenists movement, ‘Hizmet’, Erdoğan celebrated his successes and won multiple election and re-election victories!

Initially, Erdoğan failed to recognize that the Gülenists/Hizmet operated as a subversive political organization, which permeated the state apparatus through a dense network of bureaucratic, military, judicial, police, and civil society organizations, with ties to the US military/CIA and friendly relations with Israeli policy makers.

By 2013, Erdoğan felt intense pressure from the Gülenists/Hizmet which sought to discredit and oust his regime by revealing multi-million dollar corrupt practices involving him and his family in a ‘Turquoise Color Revolution’ – remake of other ‘regime changes’.

Having discovered his internal vulnerability, Erdoğan moved to curtail the power and reach of the Gülenists/Hizmet controlled media. He was not yet prepared to deal with the immense scope and depth of the elite links to Gülenists/Hizmet. A Gülenists-led military coup was launched in July 2016, with the tacit support of the US military stationed in Turkey. This was foiled by a major popular mobilization with the support of the armed forces.

Erdoğan then moved to thoroughly purge the followers of Hizmet from the military, public administration, schools, business, the press and public and private institutions. He extended his purge to include secular and nationalist political leaders who had always opposed the Gülenists and their attempted coup d’état.

As a result of the coup attempt and the subsequent purge, Erdoğan weakened and fractured every aspect of the state and civil society. Erdoğan ended up securing control of a weakened state with a degraded business, educational and cultural world.

The Gülenists coup was authored and led by its supremo Fethullah Gülen, ensconced in his ‘secret’ private estate in the United States. Clearly the US was implicated in the coup and they rejected Erdoğan’s demands to extradite him.

Erdoğan’s subservience to the US/NATO leadership has undermined his attempts to strike at the roots of the coup and its internal and external power structure. The US/NATO military bases still operate in Turkey and retain influence over its military.

In the aftermath of the coup, the decline of Gülenist influence in the economy contributed to economic reversals in investments and growth. The purge of the military and civil society reduced Turkey’s military preparedness and alienated the democratic electorate. Erdoğan had already nearly lost his bid to the presidency after his earlier purges in 2014.

Erdoğan’s Foreign Policy Disasters

Perversity is when a ruler weakens its military and represses its citizens and launches a series of risky foreign adventures: This is exactly what Erdoğan has done over the past several years.

First Erdoğan backed a terrorist uprising in Syria, providing arms, recruiting overseas ‘volunteers’ and providing them with unrestricted passage across the Turkish border. Many of the terrorists proceeded to join forces with Syrian, Iraqi and Turkish Kurds in establishing military bases on Ankara’s borders.

Secondly, Erdoğan ran a scurrilous electoral campaign among the millions of ethnic Turks living in Germany – violating that powerful nation’s sovereignty. As a result, Erdoğan increased tensions and animosity with what had been its closest ally in its quest for EU membership – effectively terminating the process.

Thirdly, Erdoğan backed NATO’s invasion and bombing of Libya, killing President Gadhafi, who had been an independent voice, capable of serving as a possible ally against imperial intervention in North Africa.

Fourthly, Erdoğan backed the brief government of Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood after its electoral victory in 2012 following the ‘Arab Spring’ uprising in Egypt of 2011. He backed a formula similar to his own Turkish policy of excluding the secular, democratic opposition. This led to a bloody US-backed military coup led by General Abdel Sisi in July 2013 – a lesson not lost on Erdoğan.

Fifth, Erdoğan’s de facto friendly relations with Israel – despite verbal criticism – in the face of Tel Aviv’s assassination of nine non-violent Turkish protestors trying to break the starvation blockade of Gaza – undermined relations with the pro-Palestine Arab world and nationalists in Turkey.

Sixth, Erdoğan developed lucrative ties with Iraqi Kurd dictator-warlord, Masoud Barzani, facilitating the flow of oil to Israel. Erdoğan’s own illicit oil deals with Barzani strengthened the cause of Kurdish separatism and exposed the widespread corruption of Erdoğan’s family dealings.

Seventh, Erdoğan provoked military tensions with Russia by shooting down a warplane in Syria. This led to an economic boycott, which reduced export earnings, devastated the tourism sector and added Moscow to his list of adversaries, (Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, US, Germany, Hezbollah and Iran).

Eighth, Erdoğan backed the tiny oil-state of Qatar, sending supplies and soldiers to oppose a threat from Saudi Arabia, the other royal oil statelets and Egypt, US allies and followers.

Despite his many disastrous domestic and foreign policies, Erdoğan learned nothing and forgot nothing. When the Israelis backed the Iraqi Kurds in organizing an independence ‘referendum’ aiming to ultimately annex the rich oil fields of Northern Iraq, Erdoğan took no action despite this threat to Turkish national security. He merely made verbal threats to cut off the Kurd’s access to Ankara’s oil pipelines. He took no concrete steps. Erdoğan preferred to pocket transit taxes from the oil, antagonizing Iraq and Syria and strengthening the links between Kurdish Iraq and its secessionist counterparts in Syria and Turkey.

Because of Erdoğan’s failure to close down the US military base following its support of the Gülenist-led coup, the Turkish army is still heavily under US influence, opening the possibility of another uprising.

Erdoğan’s lip-service to ‘nationalism’ has served mainly as a political tool to repress domestic democratic political parties and trade unions and the Kurdish and Alevi communities.

Erdoğan’s initial support and subsequent opposition to the jihadi terrorist groups seeking to oust the secular-nationalist government in Damascus has caused ‘blowback’ – with ISIS terrorist cells bombing civilian targets Istanbul and Ankara with mass casualties.

Conclusion

Erdoğan’s unprincipled, opportunistic and pro-imperialist NATO alliance demonstrates the inability of an aspiring regional power to find a niche in the US Empire.

Erdoğan believed that being a loyal ‘ally’ of the US would protect Turkey from a coup d’état. He failed to realize that he had become a disposable pawn in US plans to install more servile rulers (like the Gülenists) in the Middle East.

Erdoğan’s believed that Turkey’s collaboration with the US to overthrow Syria’s President Bashar Assad would lead to a successful territorial grab of Northern Syria: instead Erdoğan ended up serving the US-backed Syrian Kurds tied to the Turkish Kurds . By working to break up Syria and destroy its state and government, Erdoğan strengthened Kurdish cross border expansionism.

Erdoğan failed to recognize the most basic rule of imperial policy: There are no permanent allies there are only permanent interests. Erdoğan thought Turkey would be ‘rewarded’ by acting as a US surrogate with a share of power, wealth and territory in the Middle East. Instead, as a ‘normal’ imperial power, the US used Turkey when it was convenient and would then dispose of Erdoğan – like a used condom.

Anti-imperialism is not just an ideal and moral/ethical principle – it is a realistic approach to safeguarding sovereignty, democratic politics and meaningful alliances.

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James Petras latest book is The Politics of Empire: The US, Israel and the Middle East claritypress@usa.net. James Petras is a Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York.

October 14, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

5 People You Won’t Believe Worked For the CIA

corbettreport | Oct 11, 2017

When you think of a CIA agent, you probably think of the Hollywood stereotypes: a tall, athletic man in a black suit with dark sunglasses, walking around with one hand on his gun and the other on his ear piece.

But that’s stupid. Spies are meant to blend in, not stick out, and the best spies are the ones you’re least likely to expect. So I bet you never knew these people were secretly working for the CIA…

TRANSCRIPT AND SOURCES: https://www.corbettreport.com/?p=24203

October 12, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | 4 Comments

Weinstein scandal shows America is ethically bankrupt, indecent collection of moral cowards

By Michael McCaffrey | RT | October 12, 2017

Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment scandal isn’t only an indictment of his twisted soul, but of America’s as well.

The story of Weinstein, the uber-powerful film producer, co-founder of Miramax Films and major donor to Democratic politicians, who got fired from his job as co-Chairman of The Weinstein Company after the New York Times ran an article exposing his serial sexual harassment of female employees, is such a perfect storm of corruption, depravity and hypocrisy that it exquisitely encapsulates the moral decay of America.

The New York Times piece revealed that Weinstein has settled at least eight different sexual harassment lawsuits over the years. The article was just the tip of a really grotesque iceberg, for in its wake a plethora of other claims has surfaced.

In a New Yorker article, written, ironically enough, by Ronan Farrow, son of alleged pedophile Woody Allen, even more claims emerged of Weinstein’s predatory behavior. One of the many lowlights from that article includes Italian actress/filmmaker Asia Argento and two other women claiming that Weinstein raped them.

The most famous women among the sea of those claiming harassment at the hands of the movie mogul are Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan and Rosanna Arquette.

The odiousness of this Weinstein scandal is overwhelming, and nearly every public person is going through the Kabuki theater of denouncing Harvey and his lecherousness, but this strikes me as disingenuous at best. All the movie stars, media members, and politicians strongly reprimanding Weinstein now, displayed nothing but egregious cowardice during Harvey Weinstein’s grotesque reign of wanton terror.

Many Hollywood heavyweights like Meryl Streep, George Clooney, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lawrence, are feigning ignorance of Weinstein’s disgusting depravity, but the revelation of Weinstein’s repulsive misdeeds cannot possibly come as a surprise. Harvey, the rotund and repugnant Hollywood kingmaker, is notorious in the film industry for his petulant and imperious approach, which includes physically abusing underlings and being a lascivious beast to women. Tales of Weinstein’s bad behavior are so legion that even a complete nobody like me has heard them ad infinitum.

So how did Harvey get away with being such a gigantic creep for so long? The main reason is that he possessed the rarest talent that all of Hollywood covets, the ability to garner Oscar votes for his films. Weinstein produced films have been nominated for Best Picture 26 times in the last 28 years and have been nominated overall for over 300 Academy Awards. In other words, Harvey could make people rich and famous beyond their wildest dreams, which is why so many in Hollywood checked their humanity and ethics at the door and looked the other way when he was being such a troglodyte. To quote Upton Sinclair, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

Blind ambition isn’t the only reason Hollywood looked the other way regarding Weinstein, political expediency played a part as well. Weinstein has been a long time supporter of Democratic candidates, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in particular, and has donated a lot of money to their campaigns.

A perfect example of someone making a devil’s bargain with Weinstein for political reasons is Lena Dunham. Dunham, a vociferous and vocal Clinton supporter and devout feminist, admitted she knew of Weinstein’s predatory reputation in regards to women, but still shook his hand and performed at a fundraiser he held for Clinton’s campaign. Dunham said she betrayed her feminist values because “she so desperately wanted to support Clinton.”

Hollywood liberals were quick to denounce Evangelical Christians for supporting Trump despite his moral turpitude and misogyny, calling them hypocrites. I agree that Evangelicals are hypocrites for supporting Trump, but so are Hollywood liberals for enabling Weinstein. Both sides need to get off their high horse and read Matthew 7:5, “You hypocrite! First, remove the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

Speaking of enabling, the Weinstein scandal brought to my mind a line from a U2 song, “if you need someone to blame, throw a rock in the air, you’ll hit someone guilty.” When I throw my rock, it often lands on the media, and so it is with this case.

Ronan Farrow published his Weinstein story in the New Yorker magazine, but only because his employer NBC news refused to go with the story. NBC is in business with Weinstein on various film and television projects, and no doubt did not want to ruffle the feathers of such a powerful and litigious man like Harvey Weinstein, so they passed on it, which means this story says just as much about them as it does about Weinstein.

Even the New York Times, which broke the Weinstein story, came out smelling less like a rose and more like a manure pile after it became known the newspaper spiked a similar story regarding Weinstein in 2004 after being pressured by the producer and his lawyers to do so.

The New York Times dropping the ball on an important story in the early 2000’s should come as no surprise to anyone who followed the lead up to the Iraq War or Bush surveillance, but what was shocking was who helped to scuttle the 2004 Weinstein article. Matt Damon, yes, Matt Damon, Mr. Good Will Hunting, and thought-to-be good guy called the Times reporter to defend and vouch for Weinstein to stop the story. So did everyone’s favorite Gladiator Russell Crowe. I wonder how Damon and Crowe sleep at night knowing they were complicit in thirteen more years of Weinstein’s abusing women?

It is uncomfortable to acknowledge, but another group of people who could have stopped Harvey Weinstein but did not were the more famous of his victims, like Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Mira Sorvino and Ashley Judd. These women did not ask to be placed in this terrible position, but they could have stopped him cold if they came forward years ago. The reason I cite them and not the other victims is because they were uniquely positioned to be able to defend themselves and to take on Harvey Weinstein, where the other victims were not. What I mean by that is that Paltrow, Jolie, Sorvino, and Judd all come from entertainment families that are well-known and liked in the industry. They were not powerless because they have strong allies and deep connections in the business. These women, sans Judd, also won Oscars, giving them, even more, credibility and visibility to make their claims. I do not “blame” these women for being harassed or assaulted by Weinstein, I only wish they overcame their ambition and saved others from that awful fate.

The cavalcade of condemnation for Weinstein will continue unabated for the days and weeks to come, and deservedly so, but to see him only as a target of derision diminishes his impact as a cautionary tale. Weinstein is simply a symptom of the wider disease which I call “reality show America,” which sees human beings as disposable and transactional objects whose value is measured in terms of their usefulness for entertainment or pleasure.

The true power of the Weinstein story is not about his personal failings, but that it is symbolic of the fact that “reality-show America”, which thrives across the political and cultural spectrum, is a collection of self-serving, amoral, hypocrites who are quick to attack the failings of their enemy but slow to embrace self-reflection.

Will the denizens of “reality-show America” in Hollywood, Washington and the news media ask themselves how they have contributed to the culture that bred a man like Harvey Weinstein? I sincerely doubt it since deflection, emotional myopia and historical amnesia are as American as apple pie.

This scandal is an opportunity, not only to see Weinstein for who he really is but also to see America for what we have become…an ethically bankrupt and indecent collection of moral cowards allergic to self-reflection and truth.

This “reality-show America”, currently starring the Trumps and Kardashians (with special guest appearance by the Clintons!) and produced by Harvey Weinstein, reveals that America has devolved to the point of shameless obscenity, and regardless of how self-righteous we as liberals, conservatives, Democrats or Republicans may feel, we no longer possess any moral authority because, just like Harvey Weinstein, Hollywood, Washington and Wall Street, we are incapable of being honest with ourselves.

It is difficult to admit, but if we mustered the courage to see ourselves as we truly are, we would recognize that Harvey Weinstein is America, and America is Harvey Weinstein. Both are bloated, entitled, corrupt, bombastic, blindly ambitious bullies, full of fear and loathing, that use their outsized power to exploit the defenseless to indulge their darker impulses and insatiable desires. The sooner we recognize that, the faster we can try to change it.

Michael McCaffrey is a freelance writer, film critic and cultural commentator. He currently resides in Los Angeles where he runs his acting coaching and media consulting business. mpmacting.com/blog/

https://www.rt.com/shows/crosstalk/406317-weinstein-scandal-hollywood-hypocrisy/video/

October 12, 2017 Posted by | Corruption | , , | 4 Comments

US Needs to Probe Facebook, Google Abuse of Mega-Data for Profit – Analyst

Sputnik – October 12, 2017

Wall Street Analyst Charles Ortel believes that the US authorities have to investigate the alleged use of mega-data gathered by social media corporations for business profit.

The US government needs to launch a serious inquiry into how the social media giant corporations led by Facebook and Google use the mega-data they gather on hundreds of millions of people for business gain, financial analyst Charles Ortel said in an interview on Wednesday.

“Google and Facebook in the main what they are doing is convincing people around the world to give away very valuable information and then they’re monetizing this for their investors,” Ortel told RT on Wednesday. “There should be some serious inquiry into that.”

Ortel was commenting on the close cooperation between the major US media outlets led by the New York Times and the social media giant corporations in distorting search results and boosting stories overwhelmingly hostile to President Donald Trump.

“What we’ve seen so far is shocking,” he said. “Over 90 percent of the news was negative (on Trump). “I think that kind of stuff happens all the time.”

The Google search engine suppressed conservatives financial analysts and others who were critical of the left-wing and progressive beliefs of most of the billionaires who ran Silicon Valley, Ortel said.

“On the question of Google I have noticed what I believe to be suppression of Google search results… When someone is identified as being conservative economically they go into the question file… These people in Silicon Valley they all lean to the left,” he said.

Trump has publicly accused the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, NBC, ABC and CBS of presenting fake news.Ortel told RT that Trump had been correct in his criticisms as major US media outlets, especially The New York Times, openly and repeatedly slanted the news according to their preferred bias.

“The New York Times certainly has had an anti-conservative bent for a long, long time… The New York Times has a decided bias and it needs to reform itself or it will indeed fail as Donald Trump in fact suggests it is [already failing],” he said.

Ortel also said the New York Times during the 2016 presidential election campaign had refused to report the fact that the Clinton Foundation charity was under investigation.

“In August 2016 the New York Times knew the Clinton Foundation was under investigation. That is incredibly relevant information that they spiked,” he said.

Charles Ortel, a former executive at the financial firms Chart Group and Dillon, Read & Company, exposed financial fraud at General Electric back in 2007 and is proceeding with his private investigation into the alleged fraud of the Clinton Foundation.

Ortel discussed the issue of media bias at RT after Project Veritas released hidden camera footage of conversations with New York Times editor Nick Dudich. The video showed Dudich admitting to using connections at YouTube to get New York Times videos on the front page of the platform.

October 12, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , | Leave a comment

NYT & YouTube collusion spawns fake news ‘bastard child’ – Project Veritas to RT

RT | October 12, 2017

Project Veritas Communications Director Stephen Gordon told RT about undercover videos allegedly revealing that YouTube algorithms are open to “intervention” and a NYT employee relied on the help of friends in Silicon Valley to promote his video content.

Gordon said that Project Veritas’ newly-released video of New York Times audience strategy editor Nick Dudich shouldn’t come as a surprise.

“It’s not exactly that they’re revelations, because I think it’s something we all know happens,” he said. “There’s collusion between the social media networks and the major media outlets.

“We caught them admitting it. We caught them being candid on undercover video, admitting what most people, most Americans … strongly suspect of the case anyway, but couldn’t prove. We’ve just proved it,” he said.

In the video released by Veritas, Dudich states that he parked a negative report about Facebook in a spot where he knew it would not draw a lot of traffic.

“Let’s say something ends up on the YouTube front page, the ‘New York Times’ freaks out about it, but they don’t know it’s just because my friends curate the front page. So, it’s like, a little bit of mystery you need in any type of job to make it look like what you do is harder than what it is,” Dudich admitted in the recording.

Project Veritas also revealed that YouTube’s Earnest Pettie, the Brand and Diversity Curation Lead, admitted that YouTube algorithms can be controlled manually.

“Algorithms do control everything but sometimes you need humans to provide a check,” he said.

“Realistically, that’s what the… that’s what the news carousel kind of does. So like, it’s above the search results so, at the very least, we can say this shelf of videos from news partners is legitimate news because we know that these are legitimate news organizations. And if at that point, somebody decides they’re going to scroll past that and go find Alex Jones, well, they were looking for him to begin with anyway.”

Gordon told RT there is a longstanding connection between the NYT and YouTube.

“When New York Times and YouTube are in bed, the bastard child of that relationship is fake news,” he said. “We’ve got more to come on the New York Times.”

Such kind of manipulation has always been in the media, Gordon says.

“Major internet companies are growing and maturing, becoming almost monopolistic. They’ve got the ability to do a lot more than they used to.”

According to Gordon, one of the worst deceits the mainstream media do is “gatekeeping.”

“They [media] are stopping or suppressing story lines they don’t want to hear or they don’t want you to hear. So they can bump up their narrative to the top of the list. And most people trust this. We need to break through that.”

The distrust in the media in the US is “very, very high,” Gordon said, adding that people “trust loggers and garbage men” more than the media.

Project Veritas is still going after fake news, Gordon said when asked about the project’s further steps of protecting the public.

“If I were an executive at NYT, I would be sleeping with one eye open, because who knows what we [will] have next week,” he said.

“We have more cameras, we have more people, we’ve got more videos coming soon.”

The New York Times responded to the undercover video with a statement on Tuesday.

“Based on what we’ve seen in the Project Veritas video, it appears that a recent hire in a junior position violated our ethical standards and misrepresented his role,” spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha said, the New York Times reported.

“In his role at The Times, he was responsible for posting already published video on other platforms and was never involved in the creation or editing of Times videos. We are reviewing the situation now,” Rhoades Ha said.

Read more:

‘Human input into YouTube machinery’ makes specific news trend – Project Veritas (VIDEO)

NYT video editor caught bragging about slanting Trump coverage (VIDEO)

October 12, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

New York Times editor ‘buried’ negative Facebook story to protect friends – Project Veritas

RT | October 11, 2017

Audience strategy editor for NYT Nick Dudich placed a negative report about Facebook in a spot where he knew it wouldn’t draw much attention, while bragging about using his Silicon Valley friendships to make videos trend, according to a new undercover video.

“We actually just did a video about Facebook negatively, and I chose to put it in a spot that I knew wouldn’t do well,” Dudich said in a secretly filmed conversation with someone from the conservative organization Project Veritas.

Dudich claimed that his friends in Silicon Valley helped Times videos trend, while saying he doesn’t want the Times to know about his connections, according to Project Veritas.

“Let’s say something ends up on the YouTube front page, New York Times freaks out about it, but they don’t know it’s just because my friends curate the front page. So, it’s like, a little bit of mystery you need in any type of job to make it look like what you do is harder than what it is,” Dudich says in the recording.

The Project also secretly filmed Earnest Pettie, the Brand and Diversity Curation Lead at YouTube, who explains how YouTube so-called news carousel is formed: “At the very least, we can say this shelf of videos from news partners is legitimate news because we know that these are legitimate news organizations.”

In the recording Pettie also says Dudich is “one of the people I think who has more knowledge about YouTube as a platform than probably anyone else that I know.”

The video released Wednesday is the latest of Project Veritas’ series called “American Pravda,” aimed at the US mainstream media. The installment released Tuesday also featured recordings of Dudich, in which he claims he worked for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign to counter the “threat” of Trump and that he did not join the Times to “be objective.”

It is impossible to assess the credibility of Dudich’s claims, however, as he also claimed that former FBI Director James Comey was his godfather, and that he used to participate in Antifa activities on behalf of the FBI.

Dudich admitted this was not true after Project Veritas interviewed his father, who said he didn’t even know Comey. It was “a good story,” Dudich said when asked why he lied.

In response to the Tuesday video, a New York Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha said that Dudich was a “recent hire in a junior position” who “appears” to have violated the newspaper’s “ethical standards and misrepresented his role.”

James O’Keefe, who founded Project Veritas in 2010, has released a number of controversial undercover videos, including one with CNN political commentator Van Jones this summer. Jones accused O’Keefe of editing the video in such a way that took his words out of context and created a “hoax.”

In the Veritas video Jones was recorded saying the investigation into Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 election was “a big nothing-burger.” Jones said the missing context was that he said Democrats couldn’t use it to impeach Trump, even if the allegations were true.

Read more:

NYT video editor caught bragging about slanting Trump coverage 

October 11, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

Power Corrupts: A Culture of Compliance Breeds Despots and Predators

By John W. Whitehead | Rutherford Institute | October 10, 2017

“All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible.”― Frank Herbert

Power corrupts.

Worse, as 19th-century historian Lord Acton concluded, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about a politician, an entertainment mogul, a corporate CEO or a police officer: give any one person (or government agency) too much power and allow him or her or it to believe that they are entitled, untouchable and will not be held accountable for their actions, and those powers will eventually be abused.

We’re seeing this dynamic play out every day in communities across America.

A cop shoots an unarmed citizen for no credible reason and gets away with it. A president employs executive orders to sidestep the Constitution and gets away with it. A government agency spies on its citizens’ communications and gets away with it. An entertainment mogul sexually harasses aspiring actresses and gets away with it. The U.S. military bombs a civilian hospital and a school and gets away with it.

Abuse of power—and the ambition-fueled hypocrisy and deliberate disregard for misconduct that make those abuses possible—works the same whether you’re talking about sexual harassment, government corruption, or the rule of law.

For instance, 20 years ago, I took up a sexual harassment lawsuit on behalf of a young woman—a state employee—who claimed that her boss, a politically powerful man, had arranged for her to meet him in a hotel room, where he then allegedly dropped his pants, propositioned her and invited her to perform oral sex on him.

Despite the fact that this man had a well-known reputation for womanizing and this woman was merely one in a long line of women who had accused the man of groping, propositioning, and pressuring them for sexual favors in the workplace, she was denounced as white trash and subjected to a massive smear campaign by the man’s wife, friends and colleagues (including the leading women’s rights organizations of the day), while he was given lucrative book deals and paid lavish sums for speaking engagements.

William Jefferson Clinton eventually agreed to settle the case and pay Paula Jones $850,000.

Here we are 20 years later and not much has changed.

We’re still shocked by sexual harassment in the workplace, the victims of these sexual predators are still being harassed and smeared, and those who stand to gain the most by overlooking wrongdoing (all across the political spectrum) are still turning a blind eye to misconduct when it’s politically expedient to do so.

This time, it’s Hollywood producer Harvey Weinsteinlongtime Clinton associate and a powerhouse when it comes to raising money for Democrats—who is being accused of decades of sexual assaults, aggressively sexual overtures and harassment.

I won’t go into the nauseating details here. You can read them for yourself at the New York Times and the New Yorker.

Suffice it to say that it’s the same old story all over again: man rises to power, man abuses power abominably, man intimidates and threatens anyone who challenges him with retaliation or worse, and man gets away with it because of a culture of compliance in which no one speaks up because they don’t want to lose their job or their money or their place among the elite.

From what I’ve read, this was Hollywood’s worst-kept secret.

In other words, everyone who was anyone knew about it. They were either complicit in allowing the abuses to take place, turning a blind eye to them, or helping to cover them up.

It’s not just happening in Hollywood, however.

And it’s not just sexual predators that we have to worry about.

For every Harvey Weinstein (or Roger Ailes or Bill Cosby or Donald Trump) who eventually gets called out for his sexual misbehavior, there are hundreds—thousands—of others in the American police state who are getting away with murder—in many cases, literally—simply because they can.

The cop who shoots the unarmed citizen first and asks questions later might get put on paid leave for a while or take a job with another police department, but that’s just a slap on the wrist. The shootings and SWAT team raids and excessive use of force will continue, because the police unions and the politicians and the courts won’t do a thing to stop it. Case in point: The Justice Department will no longer attempt to police the police when it comes to official misconduct. Instead, it plans to give police agencies more money and authority to “fight” crime.

The war hawks who are making a profit by waging endless wars abroad, killing innocent civilians in hospitals and schools, and turning the American homeland into a domestic battlefield will continue to do so because neither the president nor the politicians will dare to challenge the military industrial complex. Case in point: Rather than scaling back on America’s endless wars, President Trump—like his predecessors—has continued to expand America’s military empire and its attempts to police the globe.

The National Security Agency that carries out warrantless surveillance on Americans’ internet and phone communications will continue to do so, because the government doesn’t want to relinquish any of its ill-gotten powers. Case in point: The USA Liberty Act, proposed as a way to “fix” all that’s wrong with domestic surveillance, will instead legitimize the government’s snooping powers.

Unless something changes in the way we deal with these ongoing, egregious abuses of power, the predators of the police state will continue to wreak havoc on our freedoms, our communities, and our lives.

Police officers will continue to shoot and kill unarmed citizens. Government agents—including local police—will continue to dress and act like soldiers on a battlefield.

Bloated government agencies will continue to fleece taxpayers while eroding our liberties. Government technicians will continue to spy on our emails and phone calls. Government contractors will continue to make a killing by waging endless wars abroad.

And powerful men (and women) will continue to abuse the powers of their office by treating those around them as underlings and second-class citizens who are unworthy of dignity and respect and undeserving of the legal rights and protections that should be afforded to all Americans.

As Dacher Keltner, professor of psychology at the at the University of California, Berkeley, observed in the Harvard Business Review, “While people usually gain power through traits and actions that advance the interests of others, such as empathy, collaboration, openness, fairness, and sharing; when they start to feel powerful or enjoy a position of privilege, those qualities begin to fade. The powerful are more likely than other people to engage in rude, selfish, and unethical behavior.”

After conducting a series of experiments into the phenomenon of how power corrupts, Keltner concluded: “Just the random assignment of power, and all kinds of mischief ensues, and people will become impulsive. They eat more resources than is their fair share. They take more money. People become more unethical. They think unethical behavior is okay if they engage in it. People are more likely to stereotype. They’re more likely to stop attending to other people carefully.”

Power corrupts.

And absolute power corrupts absolutely.

However, it takes a culture of entitlement and a nation of compliant, willfully ignorant, politically divided citizens to provide the foundations of tyranny.

As researchers Joris Lammers and Adam Galinsky found, those in power not only tend to abuse that power but they also feel entitled to abuse it: “People with power that they think is justified break rules not only because they can get away with it, but also because they feel at some intuitive level that they are entitled to take what they want.”

That sense of entitlement and immunity from charges of wrongdoing dovetails with Richard Nixon’s belief that “when the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.”

For too long now, America has played politics with its principles and allowed the president and his colleagues to act in violation of the rule of law.

“We the people” are paying the price for it now.

Americans have allowed Congress, the White House and the Judiciary to wreak havoc with our freedoms. They have tolerated an oligarchy in which a powerful, elite group of wealthy donors is calling the shots. They have paid homage to patriotism while allowing the military industrial complex to spread death and destruction abroad. And they have turned a blind eye to all manner of wrongdoing when it was politically expedient.

This culture of compliance must stop.

The empowerment of petty tyrants and political gods must end.

For starters, let’s go back to the basics: the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Let’s recommit to abiding by the rule of law.

Here’s what the rule of law means in a nutshell: it means that everyone is treated the same under the law, everyone is held equally accountable to abiding by the law, and no one is given a free pass based on their politics, their connections, their wealth, their status or any other bright line test used to confer special treatment on the elite.

Let’s demand scrutiny and transparency at all levels of government, which in turn will lead to accountability.

We need to stop being victimized by these predators.

As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, I’m not just talking about the political predators in office, but the ones who are running the show behind the scenes—the shadow government—comprised of unelected government bureaucrats whose powers are unaffected by elections, unaltered by populist movements, and beyond the reach of the law.

There is no way to erase the scars left by the government’s greed for money and power, its disregard for human life, its corruption and graft, its pollution of the environment, its reliance on excessive force in order to ensure compliance, its covert activities, its illegal surveillance, and its blatant disdain for the rule of law.

“We the people”—men and women alike— have been victims of the police state for so long that not many Americans even remember what it is to be truly free anymore. Worse, few want to shoulder the responsibility that goes along with maintaining freedom.

Still, we must try.


ABOUT JOHN W. WHITEHEAD

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People (SelectBooks, 2015) is available online at http://www.amazon.com. Whitehead can be contacted at johnw@rutherford.org.

October 10, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Israel Markets ‘Essentially Failing’ Iron Dome Missile Defense System to US Army

Sputnik – 10.10.2017

The Iron Dome, the missile defense system innovated by Israel, is currently being showcased to US army chiefs, in the hope military top brass purchase the structure – despite previous expert analysis suggesting the system is “essentially failing” and intercepts perhaps five percent of the rockets fired at Tel Aviv.

Israel’s missile defense system, the Iron Dome, has gone on display in Washington, DC at a three-day Association of the US Army (AUSA) meeting, a showcase of the latest radar technology and operational launchers.

The summit, which opened October 9, connects the US Army to a wide range of industry products and services, offered by international suppliers.

​Designed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aircraft Industries, the rocket interceptor is said to have attracted the attention of the US Department of Defense on the basis the US does not possess a similar unmanned system capable of shooting down incoming rockets, planes, helicopters and drones. Military chiefs have expressed a wish to construct a similar protective measure for forces stationed in Eastern Europe.

The Iron Dome system is designed to hit rockets traveling with interceptors six inches wide and 10 feet long, using sensors and real-time guidance systems to zero in on the rockets. When an interceptor gets close to an incoming rocket, a proximity fuse triggers the interceptor to detonate, spraying out metal rods intended to strike and detonate the rockets’ warheads, neutralizing their ability to maim and destroy.

Collaboration

The AUSA meeting is attended by high-ranking government officials, who will inspect the system first-hand at the head office of US dense giant Raytheon, which collaborated with its Israeli counterparts in its design, development and production.

The new system was part of a collaborative manufacturing agreement, signed on the condition Israel would receive substantial financial assistance for the system, while Raytheon would be tasked with manufacturing 50 percent of its components on American soil.

Cooperation with Raytheon is pivotal to selling the Iron Dome to the US Army, which rarely acquires weapons systems directly from foreign companies unless products are developed in conjunction with US firms. Nonetheless, the Israeli company is competing with other weapons-manufacturing giants, including Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

Trial Runs

In 2016, the US successfully conducted tests with the Iron Dome, which intercepted a drone using a missile nicknamed the “Tamir” — and on September 4, a new series of US tests began in New Mexico, using a variety of missile defense systems, including the Iron Dome, to provide cover for soldiers in drills and exercises.

It has been claimed by Israeli officials the system’s roll-out has been a success, registering 1,500 interceptions of various types of rockets fired at the country, with a direct hit rate of 90 percent.

If the US does adopt the technology, it will be the only other country in the world to maintain such a structure.

In 2014, Theodore A. Postol, a professor of science, technology, and national security policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), may have provided the answer.

After studying a variety of publicly available data, Professor Postol argued the Iron Dome’s intercept rate, defined as destruction of a rocket’s warhead, was “perhaps as low as five percent but could well be lower.”

​He moreover foresaw “significant insurance claims” arising in areas successfully defended by Iron Dome, as a successful intercept can at rare best destroy explosive warheads carried by artillery rockets, not pieces of debris from the artillery rocket itself, which will fall whether or not an artillery rocket has been intercepted. The Israelis, he noted, had not provided “any evidence of a reduction in ground damage” that would necessarily accompany the “amazing success rates” claimed for Iron Dome.

Professor Postol’s conclusion was stark — the Israeli government was “not telling the truth about” the Dome to its own population, or the US, which “provided the Israeli government with the bulk of the funding needed” to design and build the “much-heralded but apparently ineffective” rocket-defense system.

Postol’s conclusions were broadly confirmed by Richard Lloyd, a weapons expert formerly employed by Raytheon, who said interceptions “certainly [did] not” detonate rockets’ warheads, so the system was “essentially failing.”

October 10, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , | 3 Comments