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The West Spreading New Wave of Feel-Good Movies and False Hopes

By Andre Vltchek | New Eastern Outlook | 27.05.2017

Watch blockbuster movies from the “south” and chances are you will start to believe that the world is not really such a desperate place. Perhaps you might even get convinced that under the present imperialist and turbo-capitalist global arrangement things can always get better. If you live in a gutter somewhere in Sub-Continent or Africa, you could simply try hard, you could “believe in yourself and love yourself”, you could “listen to your instincts”, and everything may eventually fall into the right places. You could get acknowledged, rewarded and even catapulted from your misery into some plush pastures that are covering the tall green hills of success.

Think twice! Or… don’t think at all – just bury your head in the sand.

There were always books written and films produced just in order to please the Western funding agencies and propaganda machine. I described the process, colorfully, in my recent political/revolutionary novel “Aurora”.

Just think about Kite Runner written by an Afghan-American writer Khaled Hosseini, or about all those bestsellers by Salman Rushdie or Elif Shafak, books about India or Turkey, but intended almost exclusively for a Western audience, and often despised in their native countries.

The works of Rushdie and Shafak can at least qualify as “literature”. But now both the Western markets and mainstream media are demanding more and more of ‘feel good’ rubbish books and movies from poor countries, more and more of those simple, picturesque and ‘positive’ stories that are actually confusing and give false hopes to the local population of many poor countries.

Do you still remember Slumdog Millionaire? How realistic a scenario was that? First of all, it was not even an Indian film; it was a 2008 British movie, directed by Danny Boyle, who also had directed Trainspotting. It took place in the Juhu slum of Mumbai.

In 2011, I filmed in the same Mumbai slum where the movie was produced. I asked many, how likely was such a ‘success scenario’ in that filthy and hopeless neighborhood? The dwellers of the Juhu slum just dismissed the entire charade with derogatory gestures; why even waste precious words?

Now more films are coming – more and more… and more! Feel good; feel very good about the world! Drop a few tears as you are departing from the cinema. Utter under your breath: “Everything is possible.” Collaborate with the establishment. Forget about the revolution, think ‘positively’ (the way the system wants you to think) and above all, think about yourself!

A film about a real Ugandan chess player Phiona Mutesi, created by the Indian director Mira Nair (Fire, Water among her other work), Queen of Katwe, is a tour-de-force of true individualism. And again, if you think you are actually watching a Ugandan or even Indian film, you are squarely wrong: it is supposed to feel like an African one, but it is a US movie, produced by Walt Disney Pictures. And it is actually intended and even proudly promoted as a “feel good movie”.

The plot is simple and predictable: a little girl grows up in total misery, in one of the toughest slums of Africa – Katwe, at the outskirts of Kampala. Her father has already died of AIDS, her mother is unable to pay the rent, and her older sister is barely surviving as a prostitute. Phiona, just 10-years old, is forced to drop from school.

Her life is approaching total collapse. But then, suddenly, a miracle! Hallelujah!

Phiona enrolls in a state-sponsored chess program. She is talented. She climbs and climbs, soon travelling to Sudan by a plane, and a few months later, even to Russia.

It is supposed to be a ‘true story’. And yes, there was a poor girl, growing up in a Ugandan slum. She was talented although she never reached the zenith, and never won any gold medal. In the film, she wins tournaments, makes loads of cash, and buys a villa (looking like a palace), for her family.

Is this what young poor girls watching the film in the Katwe slum should be aiming at? Would such a dream be realistic, or is this an absolute mirage?

I also filmed in Katwe, for my damning documentary Rwanda Gambit. And when I was a young kid, I could pass for a talented chess player, taking part in several tournaments and competitions. Somehow, the film – Queen of Katwe – did not make any sense. To become chess champion takes much more than some luck and zeal. Like a concert pianist, a chess player has to spend years and years of hard training, literally killing himself or herself, to play at a certain level.

When I was a kid, my father, a scientist, was obsessed with turning me into a champ. Frankly, I was not too interested, although I worked hard, for years. I won a few medals, but never went further. Could Phiona, hungry, almost without a roof over her head, become a grand master, just after a few months of unhurried coaching?

I wish she could. But I doubt it, knowing Uganda, knowing its slums, fully realizing how merciless their reality really is, and of course, knowing chess.

Who benefits from such films? Definitely not the poorest of the poor, and definitely not Indians or Africans!

It appears that the only beneficiaries are those people who are trying to uphold the status quo, in the West and in the colonies. They don’t want people to realize: that there is almost no hope left, and only some radical change, a revolution, can reverse and improve things in their plundered countries.

A revolution is a ‘communal’ event. It is never about one person suddenly advancing, or getting ‘rescued’ or ‘saved’. It is not about one person or one family ‘making it’. It is about an entire nation fighting for its rights, for progress, and it is about social justice for all.

Little ‘success stories’ actually divide communities, offering false hopes.

Phiona’s story coming from pro-Western, turbo-capitalist Uganda, has nothing in common with the great communal projects in Venezuelan slums: like the classical Youth Orchestras, or cable cars, childcare centers, public libraries, community learning centers, and free medical posts.

No matter how ‘lovely’ is Mira Nair’s cinematography, winning the lottery, or getting lucky here and there, is not going to change the entire country. That is exactly why those small individualist acts and triumphs are being celebrated and glorified in the centers of Western imperialism. There, no real change is ever welcomed, whether it takes place at home or in the colonies. On the other hand, all selfish little victories are treated as sacred. One should live for himself or herself, disregarding the context.

How many other deeply ‘positive-thinking’/ unrealistic/ ‘feel-good’/ ‘false-hope’ films have I seen, lately? Many. For instance Lion, a 2016 Australian/UK co-production, about a poor Indian boy who jumps on a train, loses his hometown, and eventually gets adopted by a loving and dedicated Australian family.

It looks like a downpour, an avalanche of similar films and books and news stories. It looks like some kind of new wave of ‘positive thinking’, or ‘there is nothing really too wrong with our world that couldn’t be fixed by some personal luck and individualism’ dogma. Most of the stuff is somehow connected to the epicenter of Western ideological indoctrination – the United Kingdom (a country, which is successfully nullifying all revolutionary zeal of its own citizens, of the immigrants arriving from desperate and colonized countries, and even those people who live in despair in various far away places).

The West is busy manufacturing ‘pseudo reality’. And in this grotesque pseudo-reality, several deprived individuals like starving chess players, street vendors and slum dwellers are suddenly becoming rich, successful and fulfilled. Millions of others, all around them, continue to suffer. But somehow, they don’t seem to matter much.

There is a new celebrity group in making – let’s call them the ‘glamorous poor’. Those ‘exceptional individuals’, the glamorous poor, are easy to digest, and even to celebrate in the West. They are swiftly and cheerfully integrating into the ‘mainstream’ club of the global ‘go getters’ and narcissist rich.

Andre Vltchek is philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He’s a creator of Vltchek’s World in Word and Images, a writer of revolutionary novel Aurora and several other books.

May 27, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

Russia fumes as OPCW investigators fail to inspect Khan Sheikhoun or Al-Shayrat air base

By Alexander Mercouris | The Duran | May 26, 2017

Two months after the alleged chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun in Syria and the US cruise missile strike on Al-Shayrat air base from where the alleged chemical attack was allegedly launched, the OPCW investigators charged with investigating the alleged chemical attack have failed to inspect either location.

This has provoked an angry and exasperated statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry yesterday, highlighting especially the failure of the OPCW inspectors to inspect Al-Shayrat air base, the location from which the chemical attempt was allegedly launched

All the conditions have been created there in terms of security and compliance with obligations under the Convention.  The Syrian government demanded an urgent visit, thus reaffirming the preparedness to fulfil its obligations that arise from Clause 12 of the OPCW mission mandate and from the provisions specified in Clause 15 of Part IX of the Chemical Weapons Convention appendix on inspections.  These documents state in clear terms that an (OPCW) inspection group has the right of access to any and all areas that might have been affected by the employment of chemical weapons. This means all the conditions have been created there (at Shayrat) in terms of security and compliance with obligations under the Convention. Standing in a sharp contrast to it is the inaction of the (OPCW/UN) Joint Mechanism and the detached position of the OPCW leadership that believes a trip to Shayrat is outside of the sphere of competence of the OPCW Mission.

I discussed the obvious lack of enthusiasm of the OPCW inspectors to inspect either location in an article I wrote for The Duran on 21st April 2017. I pointed out in that article that though there might be safety concerns preventing the OPCW inspectors from inspecting the location of the alleged attack at Khan Sheikhoun – which is under Jihadi control – the same was certainly not true of Al-Shayrat air base, which was from where the chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun was allegedly launched.

I said that the failure of the OPCW inspectors to inspect either location meant that the investigation of the Khan Sheikhoun attack had effectively collapsed even before it started.

Needless to say it is a basic principle of any criminal investigation – which is what this investigation essentially is – that the investigators inspect the crime scene and any other locations related to it.  The fact that the inspectors in this case have not even attempted to discharge this basic task shows that they are not really interested in carrying out an investigation at all.

This is the inevitable consequence of the President of the United States and of Western governments making a pronouncement of the Syrian government’s guilt before any investigation of the Khan Sheikhoun incident had taken place.  That inevitably was going to prejudice the conduct of the investigation, with the result that we now see.

What that means is that when the investigation eventually reports its findings they will carry no authority, and will be rejected with good cause by those who dispute its conclusions.

May 26, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

“Is free-speech really worth all this hassle?” – Gaby Hinsliff

By Kit | OffGuardian | May 26, 2017

I’ve never written a response to a Gaby Hinsliff column before. I’ve never felt the need. In much the same way that I’ve never written an online review of sliced bread or an essay about cardboard. It’s… there, I suppose, and it does a job, but it’s hardly worth getting excited about.

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. – Mahatma Gandhi

The Manchester bombing was “let happen” by MI5 because of the Conservative party’s disastrous dip in the polls. That was the theory tweeted by Rufus Hound, a comedian. As theories go, and it is still just a theory at this early stage, it’s not at all outlandish. History is full of precedents of power structures making people believe they are under threat in order to secure their position. As Hound succinctly put it, #Reichstagfire.

The bombing, whether real or staged or allowed to happen or planned by MI5, will allow May to talk about strength and stability some more, allow the Tory’s to attack Corbyn on the grounds of being “soft on terrorism”, and distract everyone from the conservative plans to sell everything in the country that isn’t nailed down, arrest anyone that isn’t a member of a golf club, and levy hefty taxes on bedsits, old-age and despair.

If you find yourself reading this and thinking, “Well, I guess that’s possible,” I have some bad news for you: You are a dangerous, delusional moron.

At least, according to Gaby Hinsliff.

Mr Hound posited a theory, one with which Ms Hinsliff disagrees. In a rational world what would follow is a balanced exchange of ideas. Rhetoric, debate, discourse. These are the tools that make a society great, right?

Instead we get roughly 2000 words of insults, innuendo and fallacy. Her defence of Theresa May’s morality is a wondrous example of double-think:

This isn’t just silliness crowned with ill-judged Nazi references. It’s using a public platform to baselessly suggest that loved ones could be alive today had the Tories not been desperate to win an election. Before eventually apologising and deleting the exchange, Hound explained that “I struggle believing our establishment is incapable of great evil” – as if one comedian’s struggle with his own addled beliefs was reason enough to allege complicity in mass murder.

Clearly facts are too burdensome to carry when storming uphill to capture moral high ground, because Hinsliff seems to forget: May’s “complicity” in mass murder does not need to be “alleged”. It is an historical fact.

As an MP, May supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq.The final count on the number of dead Iraqi children as a result of that war is still unclear, however most reasonable estimates put it somewhere north of 22. Likewise Libyan children. And Afghan children. And Syrian children. In fact, Theresa May has actually never once voted AGAINST military intervention of any kind.

Theresa May is absolutely FINE with blowing up children, and has never given us any reason think she sees our children as more precious than their children. That Hinsliff can so easily, comfortably, make that distinction says more about her own mind than anything else.

Even if you buy into the (vaguely racist) assumed distinction between children born in Baghdad and children born in Manchester, any defence of May’s morality – or the morality of the conservative party as a whole – begins and ends with their domestic policies. People have died after being deemed “fit for work”. Old, sick, disabled, injured people are denied care and security, while £350 billion pounds is spent on a machine for setting the world on fire.

Any argument based on the assumed morality of power structures is illogical, an example of what they call the Divine Fallacy or the argument to incredulity. An argument based on the morality of this Tory government? That is nothing short of absurd.

Her vaguely directed bile would carry more weight (maybe) if she could at least demonstrate she had even the slightest idea what she was talking about:

Social media is littered with amateur “truthers” who once watched a YouTube video about Noam Chomsky’s theory of false flags, and now see conspiracies lurking under every bed.

I’m not sure what a “professional” truther would be, aren’t all people naturally inclined to want to know the truth? That said, even the most cursory of google searches would have taught her that Noam Chomsky’s “theory of false flags” is that “they don’t really happen and even if they do who cares”.

I realise that, as a journalist, Ms Hinsliff is imbued with a natural contempt for the truth, and I understand that writing a column without researching your ideas is much, much easier, but it’s hardly right she should flaunt it. At least a passing veneer of competence would make the Guardian’s (increasingly desperate) pleas for money so much more effective.

Bizarrely, she is so incredibly bad at making her argument, she accidentally makes the opposite case:

It’s not unreasonable to think an election fought in the shadow of a terrorist threat could help the traditional party of law and order, and the state did collude with paramilitaries in Northern Ireland; besides, the government’s emergency Cobra committee meets in secret, so can anyone outside the room really know what happened?

This paragraph is just delightfully odd, it seems to be heading towards a “BUT” that never arrives. Hinsliff lays out all the (perfectly reasonable) logic behind suspecting government involvement, and then just leaves an ellipsis on the end, hoping we can come to the “right” conclusions all on our own.

The equivalent of a defense attorney, at a murder trial, beginning his final statement to the jury with:

“Yes, obviously, my client had every reason in the world to want the victim dead, and yes, he has undeniably killed people before. And, true, he can’t account for his whereabouts on the night in question.”

… and then just sitting down without another word.

Apparently, when Hinsliff writes about “reversing the burden of proof”, she means she’s going to start proving herself wrong and saving everybody else the trouble. Very considerate of her.

“But where is all this going?”, you might ask. What, indeed, is her point?

Like mushrooms, conspiracy theories grow in the dark. But mushrooms also need manure, which is where social media comes in.

There it is. Beneath all the rambling about Diana, and the Moon Landings, and Noah Pozner, what we have here is yet another attack on the internet, and the ability of people who lack the “journalistic and regulatory processes” of the mainstream media to say things with which Ms Hinsliff (and her colleagues) are paid to disagree.

The internet’s magical power – that by expanding social circles to millions worldwide it allows the like-minded to find each other, however esoteric their interests – is also its sickness. There is no belief so repellent that it cannot find an echo somewhere online, and feel normalised…. Paedophiles are emboldened to learn just how many others secretly fantasise about sex with children, leading one another on to ever more violent obscenities.

This not-so-subtle concomitance of paedohilia and anti-establishment political ideals aside, this is at last an honest expression of a justly held fear. The internet is a threat – as an open network of person-to-person communication, it really sticks in the media’s collective craw. As such, it is blamed and bad mouthed at every corner.

That’s not to say that Rufus Hound was right or wrong. I’m not writing in defence of conspiracy theories per se. Maybe every conspiracy theory is wrong. Maybe Oswald was guilty as hell and physics stopped working on 9/11. Or maybe John Lennon is still alive and Stanley Kubrick directed the moon landings. It’s immaterial. This goes beyond that. This is about free speech, and the right to be wrong.

Unless we stand up for each other’s right to hold, and express opinions – even wrong opinions – then no opinions will ever be safe. Because when they clamp-down on the internet, it won’t be truth that decides what stays and what goes, but political convenience, and unless we defend all of it, none of it is safe.

In the past few months the internet’s lack of regulation has been blamed for Clinton’s loss of the election, for Russia’s “spreading influence” and for the proliferation of “fake news”.

In the past week alone, the Guardian has been running articles on Facebook’s lack of moderation. How they promote child abuse, misogyny and holocaust denial. Already Theresa May has called on tech companies to “do more” to combat online extremism.

They blame it for paedophilia, terrorism, sexism, racism. Drugs are dealt, threats are issued, abuse hurled. The internet is a playground, as David Thorne said, but apparently it’s one of those rusty, graffiti-ridden playgrounds where nice kids shouldn’t go. Tear it down. Pave it over.

Cure society’s ills by making it smaller, more isolated and much, much easier to control.

Maybe I’m just getting middle-aged. But there are weeks when [arguing with conspiracy theorists] seems an inordinately high price to pay for a convenient means of swapping gossip and cat videos.

Isn’t free speech difficult? Isn’t it all just so much hassle? Wouldn’t it be SO much easier if we could just stomp it all out? Yes, obviously, fewer cat videos would be a shame, but think of the benefits – a nice safe world, full of nice safe pre-approved thoughts. That sounds nice, doesn’t it?

This sentence does more than give us a fleeting glimpse at the author’s complete lack of imagination, it shows… again… where the establishment’s crosshairs are trained. And it’s on us. At OffGuardian and the hundreds of sites like us. At the minor celebrities tweeting reasonable (but forbidden) thoughts to groups of followers “more than double the circulation of a national broadsheet newspaper”. We’re all talking to each to other now, bypassing the established and approved lines of communication.

And it’s causing no end of trouble.

May 26, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

They lie, they distort, they misinform … you and I are expendable

By Dave Alpert | Intrepid Report | May 26, 2017

Let me state this once again: beware, we are being used, abused, and lied to.

Monday, there was an explosion at a concert in Manchester, England, where reports indicate that it was a suicide bombing and 22 people have died.

As we have come to expect, within hours, before any investigation or evidence, officials labeled this a terrorist attack. And, as often happens, ISIS took responsibility.

Does this mean that Britain will escalate its military involvement in Syria as a response to this bombing? I’m willing to bet on it.

The timing of this attack is interesting. British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservatives are running for re-election on June 8 and their lead is shrinking. Will this event re-energize the Tories’ campaign? I would be surprised if it didn’t.

As things stand now, Parliament is not in session and, therefore, there is no one to hold the government in check. This will allow May the opportunity, although there is not great popular support, to increase Britain’s military involvement in Syria.

I don’t know how you feel about coincidences, but I see them as rare phenomena. Usually, events occur with some intent.

Luciana Bohne, a Facebook friend, posted the following coincidences on Facebook:

  • 11 March 2004: terrorist attack in Madrid; three days before election by an electorate opposed to invasion of Iraq (2003) on pretext of war on terror
  • 13 July 2007 Terrorist attack in London; strengthens Tony Blair’s alliance with US’s “war on Terror.” Blair refuses investigation into incident,.
  • 15 November 2015: Terrorist attack in Paris; Hollande bombs Syria and declares state of siege (or similar assault on constitutional government).
  • 22 May 2017: terrorist attack in Manchester in full gear election season.

Of course, we cannot leave out the “Mother of all Coincidences,” the 9/11 attack on the US. This attack opened the door for the US to justify militarizing the Middle East with its troops and armaments, overthrowing “regimes” that were not friendly to the US agenda of world domination and replacing them with “friendly, more democratic governments.”

Gaining popular support for military intervention in Iraq and other Middle East countries was the topic of discussion and a high priority from the very first meeting of the George W. Bush cabinet as reported by Bush’s Treasury Secretary, Paul O’Neill.

Can we shrug off the 9/11 attack as merely another coincidence and a fortunate occurrence for the Bush administration? They needed an event, similar to Pearl Harbor, to gather popular support to send troops into the Middle East and they got it. Coincidence?

The 9/11 attack not only effected US foreign policies, it created an atmosphere for the popular acceptance of the government’s trespassing on our basic civil and human rights. Such constitutional rights as due process, habeas corpus, privacy, the right to dissent and protest were taken from us.

Corporations were empowered to exploit and steal and use their money and wealth to control elections. Elections have been rendered meaningless and are nothing more than political theater allowing the populace to feel they have a stake in how this country is run. The reality is, for a candidate to actually rise to the point where he/she is an acceptable candidate, he/she must be endorsed and financially supported by the corporations . . . the Goldman Sachs and other banksters, the pharmaceuticals, the health insurance people, the war and weapons industries, etc. In other words, they must sell their collective souls.

Is it no wonder that we are vulnerable and left to the mercy of these predatory corporations who are allowed to operate in a predatory capitalist system? Is it a surprise that students who graduate from colleges are left with the burden of enormous debt . . . a debt that must be repaid in full regardless of circumstance or misfortune? Is it a surprise that Barack Obama was an ardent supporter of the Trans-Pacific Pact (TPP) an agreement that would have destroyed thousands of jobs here in the US and rendered tens of thousands of US workers unemployed?

Is it a coincidence that the mainstream press, which is corporate owned, is nothing more than an echo chamber for big business and US imperialism?

Is it merely coincidence that the government, “our” representatives, agree to abolish social service programs while giving tax breaks to the wealthy, while militarizing police departments, and adding $10 billion to the US military budget as well as agreeing to contribute to Israel’s military budget by offering them $35 billion over the next 10 years?

But, it doesn’t end there. We once had the right to privacy and the protection against unreasonable search and seizure. What do we live with today? We are all subjected to government surveillance of our mail, phone calls, texts, and personal records. This is all justified as necessary to keep us safe. Safe from whom? The police departments are supposed to keep us safe and they have been killing hundreds of unarmed, mostly African-American, US citizens every year.

But, it doesn’t end there. Using the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the executive branch of “our” government has empowered itself to assassinate U.S. citizens. The government has also empowered itself to call the Army into the streets of this country to control civil unrest. Since 1878, this has been illegal. The executive branch can order the military to seize U.S. citizens deemed to be terrorists or associated with terrorists. Those taken into custody by the military can be denied due process and habeas corpus and held indefinitely in military facilities. Activists and dissidents, whose rights were once protected under the First Amendment, can be threatened under this law with indefinite incarceration.

So, when we talk about 9/11 or any other meaningful and impactful event, we must ask two basic questions . . . why now? and who benefits from this event?

We must never accept, at face value, the official narrative! We must always examine the outcome of these events in order to put into perspective what happened and why it happened.

May 26, 2017 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 2 Comments

State Department: Bad guy did bad things, we saw it from space

By Ricardo Vaz | Investig’Action | May 22, 2017

After the previous hit singles, “Russia hack 2016: take our word for it” and “Assad used sarin: bomb first, never ask questions”, US government agencies are at it again with their new chart-topping release “Bad guy did bad things, we saw it from space”. With journalism standards in the mainstream media at an all-time low, this is a sure bet to become a fake news hit!

On May 15th all the mainstream media screamed more or less the same bombshell headline, “State Dept. says Assad is burning people in a crematorium”. The source was a State Department press briefing which was then uncritically plastered everywhere. Assistant Secretary Stuart Jones claimed that the Syrian government had built a crematorium next to Saydnaya prison (more on this later), which was being used to burn 50 bodies of hung prisoners a day.

Then came the “evidence”, in the form of satellite pictures. The earliest indictment that this evidence was on the embarrassing side of the scale came from the fact that many outlets did not even publish the pictures, inviting the readers to follow their lead and take the State Department at their word. Nobody tried as hard as Fox News to assign credibility to the latest revelation, writing:

“The photographs […] do not definitely prove the building is a crematorium, but they show construction consistent with such use.

This is a very low standard that we could apply to almost anything. So what is the evidence in the photographs provided by the State Department? (I hope the reader is sitting down for this)

  • HVACs (Heating, ventilation and air conditioning) – because only a crematorium would have use for this. We would never find it in a kitchen, a laundromat, Breaking Bad’s crystal meth lab, or every building in Manhattan
  • a “probable firewall” – one truly wonders how a satellite photo suggests this is a firewall, as opposed to… a regular wall
  • melted snow on part of the roof – once again, only having a crematorium underneath it would explain this! There is no chance of this room being heated or more exposed to sunlight.

HVACs and a “probable firewall”

Case closed! It is hard to imagine any serious journalist reporting this as anything other than some ludicrous fabrications, but this is coming from the same people who will listen and report with a straight face that, according to some official, the world looks to the US as a beacon of freedom, or that Saudi Arabia is committed to fighting terrorism in the Middle East.

Fake news built on previous fake news

There is a reason why the imagined crematorium is at Saydnaya and not at the Presidential Palace in Damascus or the Russian embassy (satellite photographs would also be consistent with these scenarios and any others). A few months ago, Amnesty International released an explosive report called “Human slaughterhouse” which alleged that the Syrian army was hanging 50 people a day at Saydnaya prison. This would add up to over 13,000 executions over the course of the war.

What was the problem with this report? It was a collection of fabrications. It is purely based on unverified testimony from anonymous sources. There are no pictures, no records, nothing, despite several “sources” being former judges or prison guards. This is not to say that the Syrian government has not committed human rights abuses, but even someone who was a political prisoner and a victim of torture dismissed the Amnesty report as ridiculous. Even the 13,000 figure is just an extrapolation (there were only 375 allegedly verified deaths).

This is how the Empire and its propaganda machine work. A (fake news) story is presented with dubious or non-existent evidence and uncritically spread by all the main media outlets to support western intervention. And later on when a new and equally questionable story is released, it is deemed more credible because it is built on the previous fake-news background.

So the media assured us that Assad was guilty of the chemical attack in Khan Shaykhun because after all he had already done it in Eastern Ghouta in 2013, despite the fact that the evidence, not to mention motive, both then and now, strongly suggests otherwise. The goal is never to prove anything, merely to whip up a public frenzy that justifies more bombing and allows al-Qaeda to slip out of the list of terrorist organisations.

The same applies to the new Saydnaya story. Assad surely needed a crematorium to get rid of those 13,000 bodies! And if testimony from al-Qaeda’s PR wing, also known as the White Helmets, is all the media needs to decide whether Assad is guilty of this or that, why is a satellite photo of melted snow and a ventilation system not good enough to assert the existence of a crematorium?

The previous Amnesty “report” was accompanied by a video of a 3D model of the prison. This was not based on any actual footage or photos, but fabricated by “forensic architecture”, based on the accounts of supposed witnesses. Just like a video game. Government officials and their close friends at NGOs like Amnesty International would make great horror fiction writers or video game designers. But because the mainstream media has decided to become just a propaganda vehicle, they are actually writing news.

May 26, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

How Can Vladimir Putin Destroy Non-Existent Democracy?

By Phil Butler – New Eastern Outlook – 25.05.2017

TIME Magazine’s Bill Powell is a gifted journalist. Anyone who reads the LinkedIn recommendations for the former Newsweek bureau chief will assuredly be impressed. Dozens and dozens of senior editors and journalistic colleagues are there, as are people like Dorinda Elliott, who is the Editorial and Communications Director at Harvard’s prestigious Paulson Institute. Yes, Bill Powell is an American stereotype and storyteller. And his latest piece for Newsweek hits like a expertly wielded meat clever.

Inside Putin’s Campaign to Destroy U.S. Democracy”, that’s the expertly stylized headline Newsweek’s bosses must have desperately needed this week. Reading the introductory paragraphs on how Vladimir Putin more-or-less rescued a chaotic Russia from the Russian robber barons, and how the America and the world reveled in the former KGB operative’s deft potential, I found myself captivated. “Here is the Newsweek I remember”, I caught myself thinking. But that title? I should have known – Powell interjects:

“We forget now, in the midst of the intensifying hysteria in Washington, D.C., about all things Russia, that Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin—now commonly portrayed as a cartoon villain by Western politicians and press—had a honeymoon period. Many people back then chose to disregard Putin’s career in the KGB and focused instead on the fact that he had been an energetic aide to the reform-minded mayor of his native St. Petersburg in the immediate post-Soviet era.”

Then masterfully, like a Houdini magician with a keyboard Powell creates the “set up”, he inserts the fallibility of former US presidents, then draws back on the well used wooden handle of the glistening cleaver… Set to cut the meaty brain tissue that connects reality from fiction and PR, the TIME veteran lowers the boom!

“Now Russia is again public enemy No. 1 in the United States, and Putin is on offense around the world. He is the primary backer of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, thanks to his audacious deployment of Russia’s military to combat the anti-Assad Islamic rebels. He annexed Crimea and sent Russian troops and special operators into eastern Ukraine, where they remain today. In the Far East, he is moving Russia closer to a military alliance with Beijing. And in Europe and the United States, Putin’s cyberwarriors are wreaking havoc.”

In a single paragraph the wordsmith recounts the Obama White House rhetoric, he severs once again the thin tendril of hope that links western nations to an oh-so logical alliance for peace. America’s “thinkers” are forced to think again. Europe is pinned in the middle, as always. And Russia is left with the nagging realization nothing has changed since the Tsar was murdered. Russophobia, the “Great Game”, the globalist quest for all those Russia riches is still on. Newsweek puts familiar Putin quotes under the subtitle “Shining Tsar” – which is strangely appropriate given it’s coming up on the centennial of the October Revolution of 1917.

For his ending, Powell manages to insert Russian mafioso, ousted Yukos billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky once again. And I am snapped back into reality where Newsweek is concerned. The media outlet now owned by IBT Media, which is in turn owned (supposedly) by Etienne Uzac and Johnathan Davis, was the subject of several of my stories in the past. Most pointedly, “Is Newsweek Led by Jesus, or Mikhail Khodorkovsky?” calls to question who really owns IBT, the man some say is the second coming of Jesus himself, the right Korean reverend David J. Jang. Now here I am reverting to familiar themes to combat a perverted mainstream. It’s sad we’re still caught in an inescapable maelstrom of expert paid journalists versus willing narrators of a dissenting view. Some call Russia sympathetic writers like me “Kremlin Trolls”, when the reality of this geo-political situation is a simple matter of choosing the status quo versus the world we were told to dream of. For those who see Russia as the needless victim in all this mess, NATO snatching up one former Soviet boundary after another is the clincher.

Finally, journalists like Bill Powell are brought in as the “go-to” people who either snatch or just maintain credibility for these “owned” media outlets. While the west hammers on state owner RT and others for being Putin’s propaganda bull horns, five thousand times Russia’s media budgets are wagered in the same old crisis game. At the end of Powell’s piece the chips fall into place. Forget the lead and the middle, it’s the title or the ending readers will remember. Here’s his ending:

“Putin may have restored Russian pride, and a semblance of its Great Power status, but the former spymaster may well have overplayed his hand in trying to tilt the 2016 U.S. election to his preferred candidate. He may have gotten the result he wanted—but someday wish he hadn’t.”

Russia as a “great power” equals a new Soviet Union for Newsweek readers. The “former spymaster” in charge labels Vladimir Putin the KGB assassin of old Hollywood. Then saying Putin “tilted” the election, without any proof to back the claim, simply galvanizes the globalist claims. The rest is fortification, and gloating like a Clinton fanatic. Powell should have been paid well for this one, for Newsweek surely retained thousands of liberal readers and Putin haters. Why the “Jesus” owned magazine even got certified Kremlin agents to read. But I’m not ready to subscribe just yet. My guess is that Putin could care less about destroying something that does not exist – something like American democracy. Let’s hear your thoughts.

Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe.

May 25, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Fake News | , , , , | 1 Comment

Brazil Mainstream Media Admits Spreading Fake News About Lula

teleSUR | May 23, 2017

The mainstream media channel has long claimed that both former leftist presidents were involved in the massive corruption scandal.

Brazil’s largest television channel, Globo, has admitted that is has divulged false information about former Brazilian presidents Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva and Dilma Rousseff.

Globo journalist William Waak acknowledged on television Tuesday that previous reports about Lula and Rousseff, allegedly owning offshore accounts, were inaccurate.

The mainstream media channel has long claimed that both former leftist presidents were involved in the massive corruption scandal involving Joesley Batista, owner of JBS, Brazil’s largest meat packing company.

“We said that Joesley Batista had claimed in the awarding statement that he deposited fines on two current accounts abroad, in the name of the ex-Presidents Lula and Dilma Rousseff,” Waak said.

“In reality, however, Batista said that the account is in his name, but that money was going to be allocated to Lula and Dilma’s campaigns.”

The correction did not repair damage caused to Lula and Rousseff’s image, since many international agencies and foreign newspapers have since echoed Globo’s false claim, failing to correct them.

Last Friday, Batista confessed that de-facto President Michel Temer had requested and received bribes from his company since 2010.

Batista, the protagonist of a wiretapping scandal incriminating the unelected Brazilian leader, exposed the arrangement to the Brazilian attorney general’s office. He claims he paid Temer roughly US$1 million in 2010 alone. Another US$921,000 was requested by the embattled president in 2012 to support Gabriel Chalita’s bid to become mayor of Sao Paulo.

Batista also claimed that during the impeachment process against ousted former President Dilma Rousseff, Temer requested a payment of more than US$85,000 dollars for online political marketing expenditure.

Temer has repeated that he has no intention of resigning. Contrarily, he’s considering a lawsuit against the owner of JBS in order to strengthen his defense.

May 24, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

Independent Journalists Reveal America’s Sinister War in Syria

By Tony Cartalucci – New Eastern Outlook – 24.05.2017

Syria is not experiencing a “civil war.” It is being targeted by both proxy and direct military force organized by the United States and its allies for the explicit purpose of dividing and destroying yet another Middle Eastern nation.

Worse than that, the United States is employing tactics to transform Syria’s heterogeneous multi-ethnic and religious communities into segregated ghettos, and using this as a means of dividing and conquering the nation and even the region.

The US is also widely employing the abhorrent tactics of socioeconomic, psychological, and armed terrorism to break the Syrian people completely and absolutely.

Unlike in Libya and Iraq, however, US plans in Syria have been confounded. And because of this, ample time has elapsed for independent journalists to travel to, record, and report what is actually transpiring versus the intentional, malicious, and continuous lies told by the West’s mainstream media.

One of these journalists is Patrick Henningsen of 21st Century Wire, whose recent trip to Syria had him cross paths and interview others frequently visiting and sharing their experiences and findings from the besieged nation.

The picture painted is one that cannot be ignored.

For those who have already decided to believe the Western media based on “activist accounts,” the accounts provided during a recent audio interview published by 21st Century Wire is at least as equally compelling. However, for those who truly desire to discover the truth, critical thought and additional research will reveal the latter to be telling a truth consistently and intentionally obfuscated by the Western media.

Imperialism’s Fingerprints: Weaponized Ethnic-Segregation

In an interview with British journalist Tom Duggan, the process of terrorists from internationally designated terror organizations like Jabhat Al Nusra and the so-called “Islamic State” targeting communities along sectarian lines is described. While the Western media has confirmed the sectarian nature of the ongoing conflict, what Duggan and Henningsen’s accounts reveal is that Syria was multi-ethnic, with communities enjoying integration and diversity based first on being Syrian, then based on their respective religious and ethnic identities, long before the conflict began.

Intermarriage and sociopolitical exchanges were common before the conflict, and only since 2011 have ethnic and religious tensions begun to expose fault lines within communities based solely on fear created and perpetuated by foreign-backed terrorist organizations like Al Nusra and the Islamic State.

Pointed out was the fact that both US foreign policy regarding Syria and Al Nusra and the Islamic State’s goals, aim to see a Syria divided along sectarian lines.

While Al Nusra and the Islamic State attempt to cut Syria’s sectarian-diverse communities up literally with bullets and blades, the US has over several years repeatedly presented multiple maps of Syria divided into sectarian-based micro-states – effectively eliminating Syria as a functioning and unified nation-state. While the US omits the “secret ingredient” to make its fictional maps a reality, it is demonstrably clear that terrorist organizations are the ones on the ground attempting to draw these new maps.

Libya – besieged, divided, and destroyed by US-led NATO aggression in 2011 – has suffered a similar fate and currently exists as a cautionary example of what may become of Syria should US plans succeed. Libya will no longer contest US special interests geopolitically or otherwise in its current form as a failed, divided, and destroyed state.

The premeditated and systematic nature of this attempted division and destruction of Syria matches verbatim the tactics employed for centuries by the British Empire – and before that – the Roman Empire.

It is a fundamental tactic not of humanitarian-motivated interventionists, but of imperialists. The crass nature of these tactics – simultaneously promoted by the West and designated terrorist organizations – explains why the Western media has attempted to portray Syria as ethnically and religiously divided before the conflict began, rather than as a process of intentional division and destruction unfolding as part of US foreign policy.

Similar tactics have been employed in Iraq as well, with much greater success. And even as far as Thailand in Southeast Asia, the groundwork is being laid for similar tactics to be employed to divide and weaken states targeted by Washington for regime change – highlighting the global nature of America’s neo-imperial proclivities.

Daily Terrorism Carried Out By “Rebels,” Not Against Them 

While the Western media has flooded headlines for years regarding the alleged atrocities carried out by the Syrian government and its allies against so-called “moderate rebels,” it has muted coverage of atrocities committed in turn by militants fighting the Syrian government and its people. These accounts are muted, because while they are technically “reported,” the obvious nature of these atrocities is often glossed over – sometimes even spun or lionized – rather than presented in a the same straightforward manner accusations against Damascus are.

During Henningsen’s interview with Duggan, the destructive and indiscriminate nature of improvised artillery systems used by terrorists in Syria was described. The narrative is one that equals any tale of “barrel bombs” employed by the Syrian government – perhaps even surpassing them – because while the Western media claims the Syrian government is using helicopters to drop ordnance into areas using direct line of sight, improvised artillery used by terrorists called “hell cannons” do not have direct line of sight to their targets.

This means that those using hell cannons have no way of knowing who, or even what they are hitting. They are blindly firing canisters full of deadly shrapnel – according to Western reports – up to a mile away.

The Daily Mail describes the hell cannon as:

Firing improvised explosives with a range of around a mile, this is the homemade weapon of choice of the Free Syrian Army known as the ‘hell cannon’.

The cannon has been widely used during the conflict in besieged cities such as Aleppo and usually fires out highly modified propane gas cylinders. 

The hell cannon could only ever be used as an absolutely indiscriminate weapon. With no way to reliably aim it, and no way to know definitively where rounds are landing, the result is predictable mayhem brought upon government forces and innocent civilians alike. With the vast majority of those living down range from the terrorists’ hell cannons being civilians, not soldiers, the likelihood of innocent people being maimed or killed by them is much higher.

For average readers of reports like the Daily Mail’s, “Syrian rebels strike back with the HELL CANNON: Aleppo fighters build devastating homemade weapon that shoots propane gas cylinders,” five minutes of critical thought will lead them to this conclusion.

Those operating among the West’s media – trained in journalism and in reporting events – when writing articles like those appearing in the Daily Mail, are thus making the conscious decision to intentionally, maliciously, and continuously lie regarding the methods and means used by terrorists they repeatedly refer to as “moderate rebels.” The double standards illustrated by the Daily Mail alone regarding “barrel bombs” versus “hell cannons” indicates concerted and serial attempts to misinform audiences and manipulate public perception.

Similar revelations are revealed during Henningsen’s interview with Duggan regarding the terrorists’ use of hospitals, schools, and mosques as military centers – knowing full well that any attempt by Damascus and its allies to target them would be politically exploited by their Western sponsors both from behind the podiums of public offices and within press rooms across the West.

Perhaps most ironic of all – is that US operations in Syria allegedly targeting terrorists, when hospitals, schools, and mosques are hit – produce admissions from across the Western media that – indeed – terrorists are using such facilities as military bases – admissions the Western media refused to make during the Syrian government’s operations to retake cities like Homs, Hama, and Aleppo.

Keeping an Open Mind

For those attempting to make sense of Syria’s ongoing conflict, or any other conflict being reported on by the Western media – the deep and concerted conspiracy that surrounded the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 alone should provide pause for thought before unquestioningly believing narratives produced from these same collection of Western media sources regarding other conflicts.

There are alternative organizations and media platforms operating in Syria, producing videos, audio interviews, and pages of information on a daily basis giving alternative insight into the conflict that people around the world can watch, listen to, and read. While no one is bound to believe Western or alternative narratives – for those genuinely pursuing the truth – both need to be considered, researched, and vetted factually, rationally, and within a historical and logical context.

Narratives of a “humanitarian” motivated West seeking to end conflict and bring a brighter future to Syria simply do not add up in any context.

The special interests promoting regime change in Syria have a decades-long track record of deceiving the public, dividing and destroying nations, and leaving a path of destruction cutting across entire regions of the planet. While Western audiences are tempted to believe Western narratives regarding Syria in pursuit of US-backed regime change, nations like Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Ukraine smolder in the ruination of Western military intervention. By adding up the big picture, it is clear that alternative media sources are providing invaluable insight into global conflict the Western media has systematically and intentionally covered up for years.

Shifting in the minds of the global public the perceived reputation of Western media organizations versus their demonstrated serial deceptions is the first step toward truly ending conflicts like that raging in Syria, and truly bringing peace and a better future to the people trapped within these conflicts.

May 24, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

Tory Lead Tumbling

By Matthew JAMISON | Strategic Culture Foundation | 23.05.2017

It has been quite a few weeks in the latest British General Election. The really interesting story is how the Conservative Party’s lead in the opinion polls keeps dropping. At the outset of the announcement of a General Election in the middle of April the Tories stood atop what looked like an insurmountable opinion poll lead. The opinion poll companies put the lead at somewhere in the range of 18-22%. This would have given the Conservative Party its biggest landslide majority in the House of Commons since the 1980s. Even as matters stand now the Conservatives are still on course to win the election and with a larger majority than at the 2015 General Election.

Yet their opinion poll lead rather than holding up or growing ahead of Election Day set for Thursday June 8th is actually declining as the campaign wears on. With so much of the mainstream press in Britain backing Theresa May’s Tory Party and the overwhelmingly hostile campaign of nearly all the newspapers and members of his own Parliamentary Party, Mr. Corbyn, had been pronounced by many in the London media and indeed within his party in the House of Commons as a dead man walking with no hope of slashing the Tory lead let alone consistently week on week bring it down by 3-4%. Now the Tories once mighty lead has fallen by nearly 10% in the space of three weeks or so. At this rate come election day it may even be tied between Labour and the Conservatives or a few points separating them.

How has this happened. Well, it would appear that while most of Mr. Corbyn’s Parliamentary Party were plotting his downfall with various journalists he and the Labour Leadership have been developing rich policy work across a range of public policy areas in need of drastic reform. Since the formal launch of the campaign all we have had from Theresa May and her Conservatives is one vacuous slogan: «Strong and Stable leadership.» Nothing on the NHS and the funding crisis it and schools in Britain are facing. Nothing on plans to update and improve Britain’s appalling infrastructure; nothing to help bring down the cost of living holding shark landlords and extortionate rents to account. Nothing on the job creation of the future. Basically on all the important domestic policies which affect people’s lives, Theresa May and the Conservative Party have said and presented nothing.

When she and her colleagues have finally started discussing their actual policies and governing vision for Britain it actually started to frighten some of what were thought to be some of the most reliable of the Tory horses – Pensioners. Pensioners and those nearing retirement were greeted with the Tory prospect that a «dementia tax» would be introduced which would see elderly people receiving social care and having to fund the entire cost, until they reached their last £100,000 of assets. They are quite a large voting bloc and overwhelmingly backed Brexit against the wishes of future generations who will actually be alive when those who voted for Brexit are long gone.

The average UK house price stands at £215,847, so the «dementia tax» would affect many middle-class voters. It is being compared to Margaret Thatcher’s flagship policy of her third term – the «Community Charge» or Poll Tax which proved so unpopular in the country that it fuelled a massive rebellion that ended her near 16 year leadership of the Conservative Party. So, perhaps British voters are finally, finally just starting (and here I emphasize just starting) to finally wake up and realize that the Tories are a deeply divisive, sinister party who offer nothing for those who need it the most and are a tiny clique of a party that represents the interests a very privileged, powerful, wealthy minority whose number one political agenda is to protect and preserve their privileges and vested interests while ensuring the perpetuation of economic and social inequality which suits the preservation and enhancement of their established wealth and with it power to the detriment of the country as a whole. There have also been Mrs. May’s lukewarm attitude towards preserving the «triple lock» on pensions and the possibility that VAT already at a staggering 20% may go up after the next Parliament.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party have been rolling out what appear to be well thought out; costed and popular policies with key constituencies across the UK. Many people have started to say that Jeremy Corbyn’s message on the home front or his foreign policy views make a great deal of sense and he is not the Stalinist madman that the likes of the Daily Mail and the Sun have made him out to be while Mrs. May’s vacuous, meaningless slogan «strong and stable leadership» is starting to wear very thin with little policy meat on the bones to back it up and what there is such as the «dementia tax» are thoroughly nasty, horrible policies. Mrs. May; her inadequate team and the party she leads may find come polling day they squandered one of the largest opinion poll leads in the shortest space of time imaginable. If by June 9th we are back to the situation of 2010 where no one party commands an overall working majority in the House of Commons there could very well be the possibility of a Labour/Liberal/SNP alliance forming a Coalition Government with the Greens thrown in for good measure. What delicious irony it would be if the only exit Mrs. May gets to preside over is her own exit from No. 10 Downing Street in the days after June 8th.

May 23, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | Leave a comment

No proof to back allegations Russia gave weapons to Taliban – US military intel chief

RT | May 23, 2017

The thinly-veiled accusations in the US that Russia supplied arms to Taliban militants were not based on any physical evidence of weapons or money transfers, a senior US military official told lawmakers.

“We have seen indication that they offered some level of support but I have not seen real physical evidence of weapons or money being transferred,” Marine Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart, who serves as director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), said at a Senate hearing.

Last month allegations against Russia were voiced by some US officials, including US Army General Curtis Scaparrotti, military commander of alliance forces in Europe, and US Army General John W. Nicholson Jr., who commands US troops in Afghanistan.

The officials claimed that Russia was exerting influence on the Taliban and may be involved in supplying weapons to the militants.

The Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed the allegations as “fabrications designed to justify the failure of the US military and politicians in the Afghan campaign.”

Stewart was reporting to the Senate Arms Services Committee on the Pentagon’s view on global threats to the US and its allies.

May 23, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

US Journalism’s New ‘Golden Age’?

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | May 22, 2017

The mainstream U.S. media is congratulating itself on its courageous defiance of President Trump and its hard-hitting condemnations of Russia, but the press seems to have forgotten that its proper role within the U.S. democratic structure is not to slant stories one way or another but to provide objective information for the American people.

By that standard – of respecting that the people are the nation’s true sovereigns – the mainstream media is failing again. Indeed, the chasm between what America’s elites are thinking these days and what many working-class Americans are feeling is underscored by the high-fiving that’s going on inside the elite mainstream news media, which is celebrating its Trump- and Russia-bashing as the “new golden age of American journalism.”

The New York Times and The Washington Post, in particular, view themselves as embattled victims of a tyrannical abuser. The Times presents itself as the brave guardian of “truth” and the Post added a new slogan: “Democracy dies in darkness.” In doing so, they have moved beyond the normal constraints of professional, objective journalism into political advocacy – and they are deeply proud of themselves.

In a Sunday column entitled “How Trump inspired a golden age,” Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank wrote that Trump “took on the institution of a free press – and it fought back. Trump came to office after intimidating publishers, barring journalists from covering him and threatening to rewrite press laws, and he has sought to discredit the ‘fake news’ media at every chance. Instead, he wound up inspiring a new golden age in American journalism.

“Trump provoked the extraordinary work of reporters on the intelligence, justice and national security beats, who blew wide open the Russia election scandal, the contacts between Russia and top Trump officials, and interference by Trump in the FBI investigation. Last week’s appointment of a special prosecutor – a crucial check on a president who lacks self-restraint – is a direct result of their work.”

Journalism or Hatchet Job?

But has this journalism been professional or has it been a hatchet job? Are we seeing a new “golden age” of journalism or a McCarthyistic lynch mob operating on behalf of elites who disdain the U.S. constitutional process for electing American presidents?

For one thing, you might have thought that professional journalists would have demanded proof about the predicate for this burgeoning “scandal” – whether the Russians really did “hack” into emails of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and then slip the information to WikiLeaks to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.

You have surely heard and read endlessly that this conclusion about Russia’s skulduggery was the “consensus view of the 17 U.S. intelligence agencies” and thus only some crazy conspiracy theorist would doubt its accuracy even if no specific evidence was evinced to support the accusation.

But that repeated assertion is not true. There was no National Intelligence Estimate (or NIE) that would compile the views of the 17 intelligence agencies. Instead, as President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee on May 8, the Russia-hacking claim came from a “special intelligence community assessment” (or ICA) produced by selected analysts from the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation, or as Clapper put it, “a coordinated product from three agencies – CIA, NSA, and the FBI – not all 17 components of the intelligence community.”

Further, as Clapper explained, the “ICA” was something of a rush job beginning on President Obama’s instructions “in early December” and completed by Jan. 6, in other words, a month or less.

Clapper continued: “The two dozen or so analysts for this task were hand-picked, seasoned experts from each of the contributing agencies.” However, as any intelligence expert will tell you, if you “hand-pick” the analysts, you are really hand-picking the conclusion.

You can say the analysts worked independently but their selection, as advocates for one position or another, could itself dictate the outcome. If the analysts were hardliners on Russia or hated Trump, they could be expected to deliver the conclusion that Obama and Clapper wanted, i.e., challenging the legitimacy of Trump’s election and blaming Russia.

The point of having a more substantive NIE is that it taps into a much broader network of U.S. intelligence analysts who have the right to insert dissents to the dominant opinions. So, for instance, when President George W. Bush belatedly ordered an NIE regarding Iraq’s WMD in 2002, some analysts – especially at the State Department – inserted dissents (although they were expunged from the declassified version given to the American people to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq).

An Embarrassing Product

Obama’s “ICA,” which was released on Jan. 6, was a piece of work that embarrassed many former U.S. intelligence analysts. It was a one-sided argument that lacked any specific evidence to support its findings. Its key point was that Russian President Vladimir Putin had a motive to authorize an information operation to help Hillary Clinton’s rival, Donald Trump, because Putin disdained her work as Secretary of State.

But the Jan. 6 report failed to include the counter-argument to that cui bono assertion, that it would be an extraordinary risk for Putin to release information to hurt Clinton when she was the overwhelming favorite to win the presidency. Given the NSA’s electronic-interception capabilities, Putin would have to assume that any such undertaking would be picked up by U.S. intelligence and that he would likely be facing a vengeful new U.S. president on Jan. 20.

While it’s possible that Putin still took the risk – despite the daunting odds against a Trump victory – a balanced intelligence assessment would have included such contrary arguments. Instead, the report had the look of a prosecutor’s brief albeit without actual evidence pointing to the guilt of the accused.

Further, the report repeatedly used the word “assesses” – rather than “proves” or “establishes” – and the terminology is important because, in intelligence-world-speak, “assesses” often means “guesses.” The report admits as much, saying, “Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact. Assessments are based on collected information, which is often incomplete or fragmentary, as well as logic, argumentation, and precedents.”

In other words, the predicate for the entire Russia-gate scandal, which may now lead to the impeachment of a U.S. president and thus the negation of the Constitution’s electoral process, is based partly on a lie – i.e., the claim that the assessment comes from all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies – and partly on evidence-free speculation by a group of “hand-picked” analysts, chosen by Obama’s intelligence chiefs.

Yet, the mainstream U.S. news media has neither corrected the false assertion about the 17 intelligence agencies nor demanded that actual evidence be made public to support the key allegation that Russia was the source of the WikiLeaks’s email dumps.

By the way, both Russia and WikiLeaks deny that Russia was the source, although it is certainly possible that the Russian government would lie and that WikiLeaks might not know where the two batches of Democratic emails originated.

A True ‘Golden Age’?

Yet, one might think that the new “golden age of American journalism” would want to establish a firm foundation for its self-admiring reporting on Russia-gate. You might think, too, that these esteemed MSM reporters would show some professional skepticism toward dubious claims being fed to them by the Obama administration’s intelligence appointees.

That is unless, of course, the major U.S. news organizations are not abiding by journalistic principles, but rather see themselves as combatants in the anti-Trump “resistance.” In other words, if they are behaving less as a Fourth Estate and more as a well-dressed mob determined to drag the interloper, Trump, from the White House.

The mainstream U.S. media’s bias against Putin and Russia also oozes from every pore of the Times’ and Post’s reporting from Moscow. For instance, the Times’ article on Putin’s comments about supposed secrets that Trump shared with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the White House had the headline in the print editions: “Putin Butts In to Claim There Were No Secrets…” The article by Andrew Higgins then describes Putin “asserting himself with his customary disruptive panache” and “seizing on foreign crises to make Russia’s voice heard.”

Clearly, we are all supposed to hate and ridicule Vladimir Putin. He is being demonized as the new “enemy” in much the way that George Orwell foresaw in his dystopian novel, 1984. Yet, what is perhaps most troubling is that the major U.S. news outlets, which played instrumental roles in demonizing leaders of Iraq, Syria and Libya, believe they are engaged in some “golden age” journalism, rather than writing propaganda.

Contempt for Trump

Yes, I realize that many good people want to see Trump removed from office because of his destructive policies and his buffoonish behavior – and many are eager to use the new bête noire, Russia, as the excuse to do it. But that still does not make it right for the U.S. news media to abandon its professional responsibilities in favor of a political agenda.

On a political level, it may not even be a good idea for Democrats and progressives who seem to be following the failed strategy of Hillary Clinton’s campaign in seeking to demonize Trump rather than figuring out how to speak to the white working-class people who voted for him, many out of fear over their economic vulnerability and others out of anger over how Clinton dismissed many of them as “deplorables.”

And, by the way, if anyone thinks that whatever the Russians may have done damaged Clinton’s chances more than her colorful phrase disdaining millions of working-class people who understandably feel left behind by neo-liberal economics, you may want to enroll in a Politics 101 course. The last thing a competent politician does is utter a memorable insult that will rally the opposition.

In conversations that I’ve had recently with Trump voters, they complain that Clinton and the Democrats weren’t even bothering to listen to them or to talk to them. These voters were less enamored of Trump than they were conceded to Trump by the Clinton campaign. These voters also are not impressed by the endless Trump- and Russia-bashing from The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN and MSNBC, which they see as instruments of the elites.

The political danger for national Democrats and many progressives is that mocking Trump and thus further insulting his supporters only extends the losing Clinton strategy and cements the image of Democrats as know-it-all elitists. Thus, the Democrats risk losing a key segment of the U.S. electorate for a generation.

Not only could that deny the Democrats a congressional majority for the foreseeable future, but it might even get Trump a second term.

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

May 22, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | Leave a comment

Guardian’s Seed Nonsense

By Paul Homewood | Not A Lot Of People Know That | May 21, 2017

Latest doommongering from the Guardian :

image

It was designed as an impregnable deep-freeze to protect the world’s most precious seeds from any global disaster and ensure humanity’s food supply forever. But the Global Seed Vault, buried in a mountain deep inside the Arctic circle, has been breached after global warming produced extraordinary temperatures over the winter, sending meltwater gushing into the entrance tunnel.

The vault is on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen and contains almost a million packets of seeds, each a variety of an important food crop. When it was opened in 2008, the deep permafrost through which the vault was sunk was expected to provide “failsafe” protection against “the challenge of natural or man-made disasters”.

But soaring temperatures in the Arctic at the end of the world’s hottest ever recorded year led to melting and heavy rain, when light snow should have been falling. “It was not in our plans to think that the permafrost would not be there and that it would experience extreme weather like that,” said Hege Njaa Aschim, from the Norwegian government, which owns the vault. … Full article

The temperature record at Svalbard Airport only goes back to 1977, but the nearest long running station is at Tromo on the north coast of Norway.

Annual temperatures there were just as high in the 1930s.

 

station

https://data.giss.nasa.gov/tmp/gistemp/STATIONS/tmp_634010250000_7_0_1/station.png

 

In particular, winter temperatures have been as high, and even higher, many times since 1921.

 

image

https://data.giss.nasa.gov/tmp/gistemp/STATIONS/tmp_634010250000_1_0/station.txt

 

At Svalbard itself, the winter of 1985 was actually milder than this year’s.

But facts never bother the Guardian or its readers.

May 21, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | Leave a comment