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The Guardian’s fresh ravings on Russia reflect West’s tipping point into new levels of dangerous insanity

“We hates Putin… we hates him forever…”

By Catte | OffGuardian | March 10, 2018

There is ample evidence that the Guardian is now, following the re-shaping of its financing and management, reinvented as the paper of record for the UK/US intel agencies, which in turn currently harbour some of the most extreme anti-Russian pro-war ideologues in the business. As such its editorial policy gives us an insight into exactly who is currently getting most leverage in policy-making. When they go relatively soft on Russia you know the voices of sanity are making headway. When they begin ranting about Putin you know the lunatics have grabbed the steering wheel again and we’re heading back towards the cliff edge.

Currently the Guardian’s editorial style isn’t so much ranting as it is writhing on the ground screaming “Putin… curse him… and crush him… we hates him forever”.

Since the still unexplained and increasingly odd Skripal “poisoning” hit the headlines, there has been at least one hysterical anti-Russian piece published every day over at Graun HQ. And if we thought previous bias and inaccuracy was deplorable, the journalistic standard displayed in these recent examples has become debased and frankly terrifying.

Terrifying because it shows that zealotry and pure xenophobia are driving out every other consideration. These articles are barely coherent any more. They are clearly written by people who have lost even the ambition toward perspective. They are little more than distilled Hate. Hate for an individual, hate for a culture, hate for an entire nation, hate that doesn’t even try to pretend it has higher motives than hate itself any more.

Who beside other zealots can read these outpourings and not be horrified at what they say about the state of sanity in our political class and for future peace?

Look at this editorial from yesterday.

Guardian view on the Russian spy attack: Sergei Skripal and the sowing of discord

Six paragraphs of nothing but poorly-sourced antagonism and (there’s no other word) lies. The opening sentence itself is a flagrant lie by omission of context.

When Vladimir Putin was asked recently what historical event he would change if he had the power, he said he would undo the collapse of the Soviet Union…

The source it links to is Radio Free Europe, which pulls the same trick. Everyone who knows anything about Putin knows what he meant when he said those words. Everyone knows he regrets, not the end of Communism, but the social disintegration that followed. He has said as much, unambiguously and clearly, numerous times. The Guardian just doesn’t care enough about its own journalistic reputation to apply a minimal amount of context. Hating Putin is more important than its own credibility it seems.

Second paragraph and another lie, but this time dipped in farce. Clawingly desperate to make its readers Hate as deeply as the author clearly does, it grabs at everything and anything it can find.

commentary on Russian state television observed that “traitors to the motherland” are not safe on UK soil, alluding to the “strange deaths” of other Russians in Britain in recent years, not just the 2006 poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko.

The author of the editorial (and indeed the author of an entire article devoted to this subject also on the Guardian a day or so back) is apparently too far gone to notice they’re quoting a joke. And a joke moreover implying the absolute diametrical opposite of what they claim it is saying.

The joke is that the British are killing Russians in the UK.

But the bigger and much darker joke, really, is the Guardian’s grim-faced inability to get it.

The disregard of anything approaching research here is best embodied by the fact an earlier version of the diatribe ascribed RT (“Mr Putin’s mouthpiece”) as a source for the above

But then sheepishly retracted when this elementary inaccuracy was pointed out to them:

In addition to the rambling poison-pen letter that is this editorial, we have also been treated to in recent days, this contribution from Mark Rice-Oxley:

This from the always reliably fact-lite Luke Harding:

This from Mark Bennetts just before the Skripal story broke (unsurprisingly the body of the article completely fails to substantiate the claim made in this ridiculous headline):

And this “review” by Sam Wollaston of the BBC’s documentary from last night:

It’s pretty clear from this that the Washington/London-led campaign against Russia is currently being ratcheted up rather than dialed back. Are we going to see “Snow Revolution#2” hit the streets of Moscow post-election? And if (when) that fails, what next? At some point the hate needs to stop and accommodation with reality needs to begin, and if it doesn’t where else can it end but in war?

Addendum:Check out the comments below the review mentioned above. Overwhelmingly represented by lowest common denominator Russia-hate. Where are the sober and sensible voices so often heard BTL on the subject of Syria and other matters, that lead to comments sections being closed as soon as they open? Are they all being deleted, pre-moderated, or are the majority of Guardian readers who are so sceptical about every other aspect of the mainstream narrative completely won over by its views on Russia?

March 10, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | | Leave a comment

Reality Check: The Guardian Restarts Push for Regime Change in Russia

Mark Rice-Oxley, Guardian columnist and the first in line to fight in WWIII.

By Kit Knightly | OffGuardian | March 9, 2018

The alleged poisoning of ex-MI6 agent Sergei Skripal has caused the Russophobic MSM to go into overdrive. Nowhere is the desperation with which the Skripal case has been seized more obvious than the Guardian. Luke Harding is spluttering incoherently about a weapons lab that might not even exist anymore. Simon Jenkins gamely takes up his position as the only rational person left at the Guardian, before being heckled in the comments and dismissed as a contrarian by Michael White on twitter. More and more the media are becoming a home for dangerous, aggressive, confrontational rhetoric that has no place in sensible, adult newspapers.

For example, Mark Rice-Oxley’s column in today’s Guardian :

Oh, Russia! Even before we point fingers over poison and speculate about secret agents and spy swaps and pub food in Salisbury, one thing has become clear: Russia appears lost, a global menace, a moral vacuum, a far greater threat than it ever was during the cold war.

Read this. It’s from a respected “unbiased”, liberal news outlet. It is the worst, most partisan political language I have ever heard, more heated and emotionally charged than even the most fraught moments of the Cold War. It is dangerous to the whole planet, and has no place in our media.

If everything he said in the following article were true, if he had nothing but noble intentions and right on his side, this would still be needlessly polarizing and war-like language.

To make it worse, everything he proceeds to say is a complete lie.

Usually we would entitle these pieces “fact checks”, but this goes beyond that. This? This is a reality check.

Its agents pop over for murder and shopping…

FALSE: There’s no proof any of this ever happened. There has been no trial in the Litvinenko case. The “public inquiry” was a farce, with no cross-examination of witnesses, evidence given in secret and anonymous witnesses. All of which contravene British law regarding a fair trial.

… even while its crooks use Britain as a 24/7 laundromat for their ill-gotten billions, stolen from compatriots.

TRUE… sort of: Russian billionaires do come to London, Paris, and Switzerland to launder their (stolen) money. Rice-Oxley is too busy with his 2 minutes of hate to interrogate this issue. The reason oligarchs launder their money here… is that WE let them. Oligarchs have been fleeing Russia for over a decade. Why? Because, in Russia, Putin’s government has jailed billionaires for tax evasion and embezzling, stripped them of illegally acquired assets and demanded they pay their taxes. That’s why you have wanted criminals like Sergei Pugachev doing interviews with Luke Harding, complaining he’s down to his “last 270 million”.

When was the last time a British billionaire was prosecuted for financial crimes? Mega-Corporations owe literally billions in tax, and our government lets them get away with it.

Its digital natives use their skills not for solving Russia’s own considerable internal problems but to subvert the prosperous adversaries that it secretly envies.

FALSE: Russiagate is a farce, anyone with an open-mind can see that. The reference to Russians envying the west is childish and insulting. The 13, just thirteen, Russians who were indicted by Mueller have no connection to the Russian government, and allegedly campaigned for many candidates, and both for and against Trump. They are a PR firm, nothing more.

It bought a World Cup,

FALSE: The World Cup bids are voted on, and after years and years of investigation the US/UK teams have found so little evidence of corruption in the Russia bid that they simply stopped talking about it. If the FBI had found even the slightest hint of financial malpractice, would we ever have stopped hearing about it?

… invaded two neighbours…

False: A European Union investigation found that Georgia was to blame for the start of the (very brief, very humiliating) Russo-Georgian war. It lasted a week. That a week-long conflict started by the other side is evidence of “global threat” in a world where Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya have happened is beyond hypocritical… it is delusional.

Regarding the second “neighbour”: Ukraine. Ukraine and Russia are not at war. Ukraine has claimed to have been “invaded” by Russia many times… but has never declared war. Why? Because they rely on Russian gas to live, and because they know that if Russia were to ever REALLY invade, the war would last only just a bit longer than the Georgian one. The “anti-terrorist operation” in Ukraine was started by the coup government in 2014. Since that time over 10,000 people have died. The vast majority killed by the governments mercenaries and far-right militias… many of whom espouse outright fascism.

… bombed children to save a butcher in the Middle East.

MISLEADING: The statement is trying to paint Russia/Assad as deliberately targeting children, which is clearly untrue. Russia is operating in Syria in full compliance with international law. Unlike literally everybody else bar Iran. When Russia entered the conflict, at the invitation of the legitimate Syrian government, Jihadists were winning the war. ISIS had huge swathes of territory, al-Qaeda affiliates had strongholds in all of Syria’s major cities. Syria was on the brink of collapse. Rice-Oxley is unclear whether or not he thinks this is a good thing.

Today, ISIS is obliterated, Aleppo is free and the war is almost over. Apparently Syria becoming another Libya is preferable to a secular government winning a war against terrorists and US-backed mercenaries.

And now it wants to start a new nuclear arms race.

FALSE: America started the arms race when they pulled out of the anti-ballistic missile treaty. Putin warned at the time it was a dangerous move. America then moved their AEGIS “defense shield” into Eastern Europe. Giving them the possibility of first-strike without retaliation. This is an untennable position for any country. Putin warned, at the time, that Russia would have to respond. They have responded. Mr Rice-Oxley should take this up with Bush and Cheney if he has a problem with it.

And before the whataboutists say, “America does some of that stuff too”, that may be true, but just because the US is occasionally awful it doesn’t mean that Russia isn’t.

MISLEADING: America doesn’t do “some of that stuff”. No, America isn’t “occasionally awful”. America does ALL of that stuff, and has been the biggest destructive force on the planet for over 70 years. Since Putin came to power America has carried out aggressive military operations against Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and Syria. They have sanctioned and threatened and carried out coups against North Korea, Ukraine, Iran, Honduras, Venezuela and Cuba. All that time, the US has also claimed the right to extradite and torture foreign nationals with impunity. The war crimes of American forces and agencies are beyond measure and count.

We are so used to American crimes we just don’t see them anymore. Imagine Putin, at one his epic four-hour Q&A sessions, off-handedly admitting to torturing people in illegal prison camps. Would we ever hear the end of it?

Even if you cede the utterly false claim that Russia has “invaded two neighbours”, the scale of destruction just does not compare.

Invert the scale of destruction and casualties of Georgia and Iraq. Imagine Putin’s government had killed 500,000 people in Georgia alone, whilst routinely condemning the US for a week-long war in Iraq that killed less than 600 people. Imagine Russia kidnapped foreign nationals and tortured them, whilst lambasting America’s human rights record.

The double-think employed here is literally insane.

Note to Rice-Oxley and his peers, pointing out your near-delusional hypocrisy is not “whataboutism”. It’s a standard rhetorical appeal to fairness. If you believe the world shouldn’t be fair, fine, but don’t expect other people not to point out your double standards.

As for poor little Britain, it seems to take this brazen bullying like a whipping boy in the playground who has wet himself. Boycott the World Cup? That’ll teach them!

FALSE: Rice-Oxley is trying to paint a picture of false weakness in order to promote calls for action. Britain has been anything but cooperative with Russia. British forces operate illegally in Syria, they arm and train rebels. They refused to let Russian authorities see the evidence in the Litvinenko case, and refused to let Russian lawyers cross-examine witnesses. Britain’s attitude to Russia has been needlessly, provocatively antagonistic for years.

Russians have complained that the portrayal of their nation in dramas such as McMafia is cartoonish and unhelpful, a lazy smear casting an entire nation as a ludicrous two-dimensional pantomime villain with a pocketful of poisonous potions…. Of course, the vast majority of Russians are indeed misrepresented by such portrayals, because they are largely innocent in these antics.

TRUE: Russians do complain about this, which is entirely justifiable. The western representation of Russians is ignorant and racist almost without exception. It is an effort, just like Rice-Oxley’s column, to demonize an entire people and whip up hatred of Russia so that people will support US-UK warmongering.

Most ordinary Russians are in fact also victims of the power system in their country, which requires ideas such as individual comfort, aspiration, dignity, prosperity and hope to be subjugated to the wanton reflexes of the state

FALSE: Putin’s government has decreased poverty by over 66% in 17 years. They have increased life-expectancy, decreased crime, and increased public health. Pensions, social security and infrastructure have all been rebuilt. These are not controversial or debated claims. The Guardian published them itself just a few years ago. That is hardly a state where hope and aspiration are put aside.

Why is Russian power like this: cynical, destructive, zero-sum, determined to bring everything down to a base level where everyone thinks the worst of each other and behaves accordingly?

MISLEADING FALLACY: This is simply projection. There is no logical basis for this statement. He is simply employing the old rhetorical trick of asking WHY something exists, as a way of establishing its existence. This allows the (dishonest) author to sell his own agenda as if it solves a riddle. Before you can explain something, you need to establish an explanandum… something which requires explaining. This is the basic logical process that our dear author is attempting to circumvent. We don’t NEED to explain why Russian power is like this, because he hasn’t yet established that it is.

I think there are two reasons. The most powerful political idea in Russia is restoration. A decade of humiliation – economic, social and geopolitical – that followed its rebirth in 1991 became the defining narrative of the new nation.

MISLEADING LANGUAGE: Describing the absolute destruction caused by the fall of the USSR as “rebirth” is an absurd joke. People sold their medals, furniture and keepsakes for food, people froze to death in the streets.

At times, even the continued existence of the Russian Federation appeared under threat.

TRUE: This is true. Russia was in danger of Balkanisation. The possibility of dozens of anarchic microstates, many with access to nuclear weapons, was very real. Most rational people would consider this a bad thing. The achievement of Putin’s government in pulling Russia back from the brink should be applauded. Especially when compared with our Western governments who can barely even maintain the functional social security states created by their predecessors. Compare the NHS now with the NHS in 2000, compare Russia’s health service now to 17 years ago. Who do you think is really in trouble?

The second reason is that the parlous internal state of Russia – absurdist justice, a threadbare social safety net, a pyramid society in which a very few get very rich and the rest languish – creates moral ambivalence.

PROJECTION:… he actually makes this statement without even a hint of irony. The Tory government has killed people by slashing their benefits, and homeless people froze to death during the recent blizzards. The overall trend of British social structure has been down, for decades. Poverty is increasing all the time, food banks are opening and people are increasingly desperate. We are trending down. 20%, one in five British people, now live in poverty.

In that same time, as stated above, Russia’s poverty has gone down and down. 13% of Russians live in poverty, almost half the UK rate. In 2014, before we sanctioned Russia, it was only 10%. Even the briefest research would show this. Columnists like Rice-Oxley go out of their way to avoid inconvenient facts.

What is to be done? I wouldn’t respond with empty threats, Boris Johnson. No one cares.

Here we come to the centre of the shrubbery maze, up until now the column was just build up. Establishing a “problem” so he can pitch us a “solution”.

There are only two weaknesses in this bully’s defences. The first is his money. Britain needs to do something about the dodgy Russian billions swilling through its financial system. Make it really hard for Kremlin-connected money to buy football clubs or businesses or establish dodgy limited partnerships; stop oligarchs from raising capital on the London stock exchange. Don’t bother with sanctions. Just say: “No thanks, we don’t want your business.”

FALSE: This shows not even the most basic understanding of the way money works. Money being made in Russia and spent in London is bad for Russia. Sending billionaires back to Russia would inject money INTO the Russian economy. Either Rice-Oxley is actually a moron, or he is being deliberately dishonest.

What he REALLY means is that we should put pressure on the oligarchs, not to the hurt the Russian economy, but in the hopes the oligarchs will turn on Putin and remove him by undemocratic means.

He is pushing for backdoor regime change. And if you think I’m reading too much into this, then here…

The second is public opinion. The imminent presidential election is a foregone conclusion, but the mood in Russia can turn suddenly, as we saw in 1991, 1993 and 2011-2012.

Notice how quickly he dismisses the democratic will of the Russian people. Poor, stupid, “envious” Russians aren’t equipped to make their own decisions. We need to step in. “Public opinion” turning means a colour revolution. It means US backed regime change in a nuclear armed super-power. Backed by the cyberwarriors paid to spread Western propaganda online.

Maybe it’s time to try some new digital hearts-and-minds operation. In the internet age, Russians have already shown how public opinion can be manipulated. Perhaps our own secret digital marvels can embark on the kind of information counter-offensive to win over the many millions of Russians who share our values. Perhaps they already are.

The hypocrisy is mind-blowing, when I read this paragraph I was dumb-founded. Speechless. For months we’ve been hearing about how terrible Russia is for allegedly interfering in the American election. Damaging democracy with reporting true news out of context and some well placed memes.

Our response? Our defense of our “values”? Use the armies of online propagandists our governments employ – their existence was reported in the Guardian – in order to undermine, or undo the democratic will of the Russian people. Rice-Oxley is positing this with a straight face.

Russia is such a destabilising threat to “our democratic values”, such a moral vacuum, that we must use subterfuge to undermine their elections and remove their popular head of state.

Rice-Oxley wants to push and prod and provoke and antagonise a nuclear armed power that, at worst, is guilty of nothing but playing our game by our rules and winning. He wants to build a case for war with Russia, and he’s doing it on bedrock of cynical lies.

It’s all incredibly dangerous. Hopefully they’ll realise that before it’s too late. For all our sakes.

March 9, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | 1 Comment

The Elephant In The Room

By Craig Murray | March 7, 2108

Nerve agents including Sarin and VX are manufactured by the British Government in Porton Down, just 8 miles from where Sergei Skripal was attacked. The official British government story is that these nerve agents are only manufactured “To help develop effective medical countermeasures and to test systems”.

The UK media universally accepted that the production of polonium by Russia was conclusive evidence that Vladimir Putin was personally responsible for the murder of Alexander Litvinenko. In the case of Skripal, po-faced articles like this hilarious one in the Guardian speculate about where the nerve agent could possibly have come from – while totally failing to mention the fact that incident took place only eight miles from the largest stock of nerve agent in western Europe.

The investigation comprises multiple strands. Among them is whether there is any more of the nerve agent in the UK, and where it came from.

Chemical weapons experts said it was almost impossible to make nerve agents without training. “This needs expertise and a special place to make it or you will kill yourself. It’s only a small amount, but you don’t make this in your kitchen,” one said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a former commanding officer at the UK’s chemical, biological and nuclear regiment, said: “This is pretty significant. Nerve agents such as sarin and VX need to be made in a laboratory. It is not an insufficient task. Not even the so-called Islamic State could do it.”

Falling over themselves in the rush to ramp up the Russophobia, the Guardian quotes

“One former senior Foreign Office adviser suggested the Kremlin was taking advantage of the UK’s lack of allies in the US and EU. He said the British government was in a “weaker position” than in 2006 when two Kremlin assassins poisoned the former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko with a radioactive cup of tea.

The adviser said the use of nerve agent suggested a state operation…”

It certainly does. But the elephant in the room is – which state?

March 9, 2018 Posted by | Deception | , | 1 Comment

Mark Galeotti’s response to Putin’s plea for reason: lies & penis jokes

By Catte | OffGuaurdian | March 4, 2018

The Guardian produced two responses to Putin’s speech of March 1, in which he both unveiled far-reaching new Russia weapons systems and used this as a platform to (once again) plead for an end to Western warmongering. Both of them display both the intellectual/educational/ethical impoverishment of the authors (an impoverishment that is now systematic in corporate media), but also the completely delusional world they inhabit. Today we take a look at Mark Galeotti’s Putin’s new arms race is all about his need to be taken seriously.

Mark Galeotti, who is apparently (believe it or not) “senior researcher at the Institute of International Relations Prague and head of its Centre for European Security” went full idiot in the Guardian yesterday with a short piece entitled Putin’s new arms race is all about his need to be taken seriously.

The mere fact the title carries with it the implication that we don’t need to take the elected president of the largest country in the world with enough nuclear weapons to eradicate all life in earth “seriously” is enough to tell us all about the level of Mark’s contact with veridical reality. He clearly lives in that well-populated Washington/Langley logic-free dream zone where Russia is both a dangerous rogue state with enough reach to “hack” the US election and “attack” America, and a silly little rusty nowhere country to be mocked and patronised into oblivion.

In this piece Mark’s taking the ‘Nowheresville’ tack with added and cringe worthy willy jokes.

He tells us the weapons Putin talked about might sound “terrifying” but that’s ok because they probably won’t work (you know, much like the F-35), and anyhow, the animations in the presentation were “clunky”, and gee gosh, it’s all so frickin funny. Except (abrupt change of take in para 4) it is actually quite a “serious” shopping list that (no discernible irony) “go[es] against the letter or spirit of arms control treaties”. But then, just as abruptly, (para 5) it’s funny again, because…

It is easy to wonder, with a snigger, quite for what Putin is (over)compensating.

In case his sledgehammer wit is too subtle for you, Mark means Putin has a small penis. Yes, apparently he really thinks this comment says more about Putin’s manhood than about Mark Galeotti and his imbecilic reductionism.

But Mark doesn’t just use denial and penis jokes to make his case – he also lies. He describes the president whose government managed to reduce poverty by 75% in 14 years, raise the birth rate, rebuild industries and increase national incomes as a “failure” as a “nation-builder.” He calls the man with a 60-80% approval rating a “failure” as a statesman, and the man who has averted world war at least once during is years in office, a “failure” as a “peacemaker.” Because, of course, in Mark’s dream zone reality consists of whatever you choose to say is true.

But the lie that really tells us what we are up against is this one:

Perhaps the most telling line, after all was when [Putin] directly connected this armament programme with his efforts to make the world, which really means Washington, acknowledge Russia’s status as a great power: “Nobody wanted to listen to us. Well, listen to us now.”

Hmmm. Let’s just put that cherry-picked quote back into its real context, shall we? Re-insert a few words Mark left out. This is what Putin actually said:

No, nobody really wanted to talk to us about the core of the problem, and nobody wanted to listen to us. So listen now.

“The core of the problem” he’s referring to is the US withdrawal from the ABM treaty and its deployment of the Aegis system. It’s clear to anyone who reads Putin’s speech and has listened to anything he has said on the topic for the last sixteen years, that he is very very worried the effective cancellation of the MAD doctrine might result in a nuclear war. It’s clear he sees the restitution of balance to be as much about reducing that risk as about defending his homeland.

The fact Mark either doesn’t understand these basic facts or thinks it’s safe to ignore them is in truth a personification of that massive “problem”. And until Washington and its babbling idiot mouthpieces can wake up to this, realise they don’t actually “make a new reality” simply by talking about it, the future of the human race continues to hang by a thread.

March 5, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Welcome to another Western edition of anti-Assad political theater, now in Ghouta

By Robert Bridge | RT | March 2, 2018

Western media is heaping scorn on Syria for using ‘excessive force’ in its effort to liberate Ghouta from militant control. But where was that same concern when Mosul was being pulverized by US-led forces?

The Syrian government’s liberation efforts in the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta have deteriorated into a media circus where truth has taken a back seat in the clown car. As was the case in the liberation of Aleppo, the government of President Bashar Assad – as opposed to the militant groups wreaking havoc in his country – has borne the main brunt of criticism from the Western world.

Due to the conditions on the ground in Ghouta, it is virtually impossible to get a clear picture of the situation there. What we do know, however, is that Damascus is being hit by approximately 70 missiles daily from militant positions inside Ghouta. The Western media would rather ignore that fact, speculating instead that “more than 500 people” have been killed by the Assad “regime” since efforts to retake the city began last month.

So where does the Western media get its information? In the majority of cases, from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a one-man operation based out of a humble abode in Coventry, UK. Western reporters also rely on the so-called White Helmets, the very same ‘humanitarian’ group that is suspected of working in tandem with terrorist groups that are carrying out attacks on civilians. Based on these extremely dubious sources, and others, one of the UK’s most respectable newspapers, the Guardian, was bold enough to assert that “Eastern Ghouta is turning into Syria’s Srebrenica.”

“Like the Bosnian Muslim enclave in 1995, eastern Ghouta … has been besieged by regime forces since the early stages of the Syrian war,” Simon Tisdall wrote. “As in Bosnia, nobody attempted to protect the civilian population when a regime offensive began there in December after negotiations failed. The airstrikes and bombardments… are carried out with impunity by Syrian forces and their Russian backers.”

I read that article twice in the hope of finding any mention of the militant forces that have been occupying Eastern Ghouta off and on since late 2012, subjecting the local population to untold horrors, including the threat of chemical attack. Regrettably, I failed; not a single mention of the terrorists. Indeed, to read Tisdall’s article one gets the impression that the citizens of Ghouta are perfectly content with the occupation of their city by fanatical militants.

Examples of such biased attitudes towards the Syrian government have, at the same time, overtaken the social media jungle like the invasive kudzu vine, blocking out the light of truth.

This week, for example, a US-based user who goes by the name of Sami Sharbek posted two photos on his Twitter account – one showing a building consumed by an explosion; the other depicting a man carrying a crying child.

“This is not a movie. This is Syria,” he wrote in the caption.

Sharbek was only 50 percent right.

Although the photos were not taken from a Hollywood blockbuster film, they did feature horrific images from Gaza and Mosul, respectively. In other words, very far from the action in Ghouta. Although Sharbek later admitted to his error, the damage was already done. As of February 28, the Tweet had made a huge impression, generating over 125,000 shares and 154,000 likes (the account is now blocked, open only to “approved followers”), possibly reaching millions of users.  It is probably safe to say that very few of those same people will hear that Sharbek’s tweet was for all intents and purposes fake news.

Smoke rises from the Tuffah neighborhood after an Israeli airstrike in eastern Gaza City, July 29, 2014 © Sameh Rahmi / Global Look Press

On February 25, Danny Gold, a writer and correspondent, compared the situation in Ghouta to one of history’s worst human atrocities when he tweeted: “I know how Jews who lived through the holocaust felt 70 years later about the world turning a blind eye, can’t imagine how Syrians in Ghouta will feel about their suffering being so well-documented as it’s happening yet doubted by so many.”

Dan Cohen, a correspondent with RT America, responded to Gold: “Ghouta is like the Holocaust but Mosul was ‘a huge journalism event’ in which US-led forces took ‘much care’ in burying at least 3,200 civilians in the rubble.”

Cohen’s comment was a jibe at a tweet Gold had sent on February 1, 2017 in which he embellished the historical record of the US-led Iraqi campaign, remarking: “Mosul was a huge journalism event. Everyone who covers the Middle East was there.”

But if Mosul really was one big happy media confab, then how was it possible for the fatality figures to have been so skewed? As AP rather belatedly reported in December 2017, long after the nine-month conflict had ended, “The price Mosul’s residents paid in blood to see their city freed was between 9,000 and 11,000 dead … a civilian casualty rate nearly 10 times higher than what has been previously reported.”

Perhaps if Western reporters had not spent so much of their time reporting on the same type of military operation in Aleppo, which was then the focus of a Russian-backed liberation campaign, they may have more accurately described the situation in Iraq’s second-largest city.

Michael Raddie, co-editor of BSNews, provided a convincing explanation for the discrepancy in the way the Western media reports on war zones, which he said can be reduced to a matter of “worthy victims” and “unworthy victims.”

“The victims of US bombs and British airstrikes are not worthy because we don’t do that kind of thing,” Raddie told RT. “Our killing of civilians is a mistake, collateral damage. The Syrian air force killing of civilians … that is atrocities. And that is the ideology that Western media portray all the time.”

However, there is another side to this wave of Western cynicism with regards to Syria that could spark a real catastrophe. That involves the threat of a chemical strike, which the West seems to believe is something only the “Assad regime” is capable of committing. After all, who would ever suspect bona-fide terrorists deprived of modern weapons of resorting to such barbaric means of warfare?

Much like Barack Obama’s utterly reckless “red line” warning regarding the use of chemical weapons, which he said would warrant US military action, French President Emmanuel Macron issued the very same foolish warning on February 14.

“On chemical weapons, I set a red line and I reaffirm that red line,” Macron told reporters. “If we have proven evidence that chemical weapons proscribed in treaties are used, we will strike the place where they are made.”

Did it surprise anyone that less than two weeks after Macron’s warning a chemical attack – conveniently supported by photos provided by, yes, the White Helmets – was reported to have occurred in Ghouta? Western media and politicians have actually suggested a Russian connection to the event.

“Whoever conducted the attacks, Russia ultimately bears responsibility for the victims in Eastern Ghouta and countless other Syrians targeted with chemical weapons since Russia became involved in Syria,” US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said.

Presently, a 30-day ceasefire endorsed by the UN Security Council is in effect across Syria, as well as a daily five-hour “humanitarian pause” in Eastern Ghouta enforced by Russia.

Yet thus far the plan is not producing the desired effect. Militants are preventing civilians from fleeing besieged Eastern Ghouta and are sabotaging the humanitarian operation there, Major General Vladimir Zolotukhin, a spokesman for the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria, told journalists on Thursday.

Robert Bridge is an American writer and journalist. He is author of the book, ‘Midnight in the American Empire,’ released in 2013.


Read more:

Activist ‘raising awareness’ for Syria on Twitter used photos from Gaza & Mosul

March 3, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Authoritarians Who Silence Syria Questions

By Jonathan Cook | CounterPunch | February 28, 2018

I am loath to draw more attention to the kind of idiocy that passes for informed comment nowadays from academics and mainstream journalists. Recently I lambasted Prof Richard Carver for his arguments against BDS that should have gained him an F for logic in any high school exam.

Now we have to endure Brian Whitaker, the Guardian’s former Middle East editor, using every ploy in the misdirection and circular logic playbook to discredit those who commit thought crimes on Syria, by raising questions both about what is really happening there and about whether we can trust the corporate media consensus banging the regime-change drum.

Whitaker’s arguments and assumptions may be preposterous but sadly, like Carver’s, they are to be found everywhere in the mainstream – they have become so commonplace through repetition that they have gained a kind of implicit credibility. So let’s unpack what Whitaker and his ilk are claiming.

Whitaker’s latest outburst is directed against the impudence of a handful of British academics, including experts in the study of propaganda, in setting up a panel – the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media – to “provide a source of reliable, informed and timely analysis for journalists, publics and policymakers” on Syria. The researchers include Tim Hayward of Edinburgh University and Piers Robinson of Sheffield University.

So what are Whitaker’s objections to this working group? Let’s run through them, with my interjections.

Whitaker: They dispute almost all mainstream narratives of the Syrian conflict, especially regarding the use of chemical weapons and the role of the White Helmets search-and-rescue organisation. They are critical of western governments, western media and various humanitarian groups but show little interest in applying critical judgment to Russia’s role in the conflict or to the controversial writings of several journalists who happen to share their views.

Western governments and western corporate media have promoted a common narrative on Syria. It has been difficult for outsiders to be sure of what is going on, given that Syria has long been a closed society, a trend only reinforced by the last seven years of a vicious civil-cum-proxy war, and the presence of brutal ISIS and al Qaeda militias.

Long before the current fighting, western governments and Israel expressed a strong interest in overthrowing the government of Bashar Assad. In fact, their desire to be rid of Assad dates to at least the start of the “war on terror” they launched after 9/11, as I documented in my book Israel and the Clash of Civilisations.

Very few corporate journalists have been on the ground in Syria. (Paradoxically, those who have are effectively embedded in areas dominated by al Qaeda-type groups, which western governments are supporting directly and through Gulf intermediaries.) Most of these journalists are relying on information provided by western governments, or from groups with strong, vested interests in Assad’s overthrow.

Should we take this media coverage on trust, as many of us did the lies promoted about Iraq and later Libya by the same western governments and corporate media? Or should we be far more wary this time, especially as those earlier regime-change operations spread more chaos, suffering and weapons across the Middle East, and fuelled a migrant crisis now empowering the far-right across much of Europe?

Whitaker and his ilk are saying we should not. Or more disingenuously, Whitaker is saying that the working group, rather than invest its energies in this supremely important research, should concentrate its limited resources on studying Russian propaganda on Syria. In other words, the researchers should duplicate the sterling efforts of Whitaker’s colleagues in daily attributing the superpowers of a James Bond villain to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Here’s a counter-proposal: how about we leave well-funded western governments and media corporations to impugn Putin at every turn and on every pretext, while we allow the working group to check whether there is a large (larger?) mote in the west’s eye?

Whitaker: The worrying part, though, especially in the light of their stated intention to seek ‘research funding’, is their claim to be engaging in ‘rigorous academic analysis’ of media reporting on Syria.

Is this really so worrying? Why not allow a handful of academics to seek funds to try to untangle the highly veiled aid – money and arms – that western governments have been pumping into a war tearing apart Syria? Why not encourage the working group to discern more clearly the largely covert ties between western security services and groups like the White Helmets “search-and-rescue service”? One would think supposedly adversarial journalists would be all in favour of efforts to dig up information about western involvement and collusion in Syria.

Whitaker: But while members of the group are generally very critical of mainstream media in the west, a handful of western journalists — all of them controversial figures — escape similar scrutiny. Instead, their work is lauded and recommended.

More of Whitaker’s circular logic.

Of course, the few independent journalists (independent of corporate interests) who are on the ground in Syria are “controversial” – they are cast as “controversial” by western governments and corporate journalists precisely because they question the consensual narrative of those same governments and journalists. Duh!

Further, these “controversial” journalists are not being “lauded”. Rather, their counter-narratives are being highlighted by those with open minds, like those in the working group. Without efforts to draw attention to these independent journalists’ work, their reporting would most likely disappear without trace – precisely the outcome, one senses, Whitaker and his friends would very much prefer.

It is not the critical thinkers on Syria who are demanding that only one side of the narrative is heard; it is western governments and supposedly “liberal” journalists like Whitaker and the Guardian’s George Monbiot. They think they can divine the truth through … the corporate media, which is promoting narratives either crafted in western capitals or derived from ties to groups like the White Helmets located in jihadist-controlled areas.

Again, why should the working group waste its finite energies scrutinising these independent journalists when they are being scrutinised – and vilified – non-stop by journalists like Whitaker and by big-budget newspapers like the Guardian ?

In any case, if official western narratives truly withstand the working group’s scrutiny, then the claims and findings of these independent journalists will be discredited in the process. These two opposed narratives cannot be equally true, after all.

Whitaker: The two favourites, though, are Eva Bartlett and Vanessa Beeley — ’independent’ journalists who are frequent contributors to the Russian propaganda channel, RT. Bartlett and Beeley also have an enthusiastic following on ‘alternative’ and conspiracy theory websites though elsewhere they are widely dismissed as propagandists.

“Widely dismissed” by … yes, that’s right, Whitaker’s friends in the corporate media! More circular logic. Independent journalists like Bartlett and Beeley are on RT because Whitaker’s chums at British propaganda outlets – like the Guardian and BBC – do not give, and have never given, them a hearing. The Guardian even denied them a right of reply after its US-based technology writer Olivia Solon (whose resume does not mention that she was ever in Syria) was awarded a prominent slot in the paper to smear them as Kremlin propagandists, without addressing their arguments or evidence.

Whitaker: [Bartlett and Beeley’s] activities are part of the overall media battle regarding Syria and any ‘rigorous academic analysis’ of the coverage should be scrutinising their work rather than promoting it unquestioningly.

There is no “media battle”. That’s like talking of a “war” between Israel, one of the most powerful armies in the world, and the lightly armed Palestinian resistance group Hamas – something the western corporate media do all the time, of course.

Instead there is an unchallenged western media narrative on Syria, one in favour of more war, and more suffering, until what seems like an unrealisable goal of overthrowing Assad is achieved. On the other side are small oases of scepticism and critical thinking, mostly on the margins of social media, Whitaker wants snuffed out.

The working group’s job is not to help him in that task. It is to test whether or how much of the official western narrative is rooted in truth.

Returning to his “concerns” about RT, Whitaker concludes that the station’s key goal:

is to cast doubt on rational but unwelcome explanations by advancing multiple alternative ‘theories’ — ideas that may be based on nothing more than speculation or green-ink articles on obscure websites.

But it precisely isn’t such “green-ink” articles that chip away at the credibility of an official western consensus. It is the transparently authoritarian instincts of a political and media elite – and of supposedly “liberal” journalists like Whitaker and Monbiot – to silence all debate, all doubt, all counter-evidence.

Because at heart he is an authoritarian courtier, Whitaker would like us to believe that only crackpots and conspiracy theorists promote these counter-narratives. He would prefer that, in the silence he hopes to impose, readers will never be exposed to the experts who raise doubts about the official western narrative on Syria.

That is, the same silence that was imposed 15 years ago, when his former newspaper the Guardian and the rest of the western corporate media ignored and dismissed United Nations weapons experts like Scott Ritter and Hans Blix. Their warnings that Iraq’s supposed WMD really were non-existent and were being used as a pretext to wage a disastrous colonial war went unheard.

Let’s not allow Whitaker and like-minded bully-boys once again to silence such critical voices.

February 28, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lewis Carroll’s White Queen would have a career in the media today

Alice and the White Queen, drawn by John Tenniel
By Catte | OffGuardian | February 26, 2018

“I can’t believe that!” said Alice.

“Can’t you?” the Queen said in a pitying tone. “Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.”

Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said: “one can’t believe impossible things.”

“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Lewis Carroll – Alice Through the Looking-Glass

Lewis Carroll invented the White Queen as an absurdist emblem of a refusal to deal. But now that deluded lady would slot right in at the BBC, CNN, Guardian et al. In fact to live in the mainstream western culture of today we need to be able to believe a lot more than six impossible things before breakfast. We need to plug into an entire matrix of the unreal, never happened, never could happen and purely ridiculous.

There is now almost no point of contact between the world described in daily mainstream news and social commentary and the actual veridical experiential world in which real people really live. The most basic “facts” upon which they operate are almost completely false. They produce hours and hours of comment and analysis based on events that never occurred, words that were never said, a history that doesn’t exist. It’s not about explaining reality any more, it’s about making it up.

In this world Russia is an “outlaw” for helping to defend an elected government in Syria, and the US is an emblem of law-abiding decency while it has spent 70 years carving up the world and murdering people it doesn’t like – and moreover is currently enabling terrorists and illegally occupying a swathe of Syrian territory.

In this world Putin, having cleaned up a good deal of the lawless mafia-rule that characterised the Yeltsin years, is a “kleptocrat” and a “gangster” while Yeltsin was a “democrat.” Facing an election with 60-80% popular support, Putin is a “tyrant” who needs to fix the vote in order to win. With reckless disregard for even the basics of narrative consistency he is portrayed by turns as an ignorant “thug” and a political mastermind. So brilliant he swung the US election using 13 lowlife trolls and a restaurateur, and so mindbogglingly stupid he had Boris Nemstov, the political nobody, gunned down for no reason right outside the Kremlin so that even more stupid western analysts could say “Putin must have done it because it was right outside the Kremlin!”

In this world Navalny, another political nobody, polling 2% popular vote is “the opposition”, cruelly silenced by being ruthlessly convicted of the fraud he almost certainly actually committed, and sent to the Gulag given a suspended sentence and the freedom to bullhorn his remedial-level “anti-corruption” narrative (designed primarily for western consumption and TV soundbites btw) to all twelve of his regular followers.

In this world even mass-shootings are starting to look like movie versions of themselves, and the victims interview each other, exchanging cliché mass media talking points, and improbable personal narratives that sound like Facebook statuses, while waiting to die.

Because reality is something even those living it in its rawest form can no longer process or recognise for what it is.

So, we have to salute Mr Pozner for his refusal to partake in this increasingly macabre farce. Maybe we should all follow his example, be like Alice, just walk away from the Mad Hatter’s tea table and let the lunatics continue to sit there, babbling empty memes at one another. They probably won’t even notice we’ve gone.

(and yes I know the White Queen and the Mad Hatter are not in the same chapter or even in the same book)

February 26, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Mueller Indictments: truth v lies in“The Observer View”

By Kit Knightly | OffGuardian | February 18, 2018

Today’s Observer View focuses on the Announcement by Robert Mueller that they are indicting 13 Russians and 3 Russian companies for “interfering” in the 2016 Presidential election. It is, unsurprisingly, full of misleading language, lies by omission and just straight up lies. It is also anonymous, and since it’s impossible to imagine Jonathan Freedland ever being too ashamed to put his byline on propaganda and smears… it’s probably just a press release from the foreign office.

Let’s dive right in. Emphasis, through-out, is ours.

Although the charges levelled against 13 Russians and three Russian entities are extraordinarily serious…

FALSE: They’re not. At all. They are barely crimes, if they are crimes at all. Moon of Alabama has done an excellent breakdown of this. The primary charges of “fraud” are, essentially, that these 13 Russians did internet PR through sock-puppet accounts. This is a marketing tool as old as the internet itself, and not illegal. The British army has an entire section devoted to it. As does Israel. In fact, the Guardian reported on a massive American operation to do the same thing back in 2011.

None of this counts as foreign intervention. Three whole armies never influenced and election, but 13 Russians did.

The secondary charges of “failing to register as a foreign agent” are more serious… but only as a precedent. The idea that foreign nationals have to register as agents before expressing opinions about domestic politics is absurd. George Soros wrote a column for the Guardian last week. Barack Obama begged Scotland to vote “No”, and campaigned against Brexit. Neither of them are British citizens, or (I’m guessing) registered with Her Majesty’s government as foreign agents.

American politics are often the subject of global discussion. We’re not all foreign agents. Should we have to? Isn’t that an incredibly autocratic and dangerous idea? Does that include Israeli and Saudi DNC donors?

The author feels the need to skirt around how ridiculous it is that only 13(!) Russians are meant to have swung the election, combating the highest paid and most advanced state security agencies in the world, so so will we.

… they do not directly support the central claim that Trump and senior campaign aides colluded with Moscow to rig the vote.

TRUE: This is the first true thing in the article. It could, however, be truer. For example, they could point out that Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein went out of his way, during his press conference, to underline that there was no evidence that “any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity.” It was quite clearly a message – they have nothing on Trump.

But Trump is not off the hook. Far from it. His oft-repeated argument, contradicting US and British intelligence agencies, that stories of covert Russian meddling were “fake news” has been exposed as false.

FALSE: No, they haven’t. Thirteen Russians doing viral marketing is not “rigging”, or “collusion” or “hacking”. For months now we’ve heard that the FSB colluded with Trump to steal that election – something there is still precisely ZERO evidence to support – the FBI indicting some low-paid marketing shills means nothing. Actually, the very fact that – after all this time, money and effort – the only charges are about some internet PR firm means that they could find nothing else. This is the biggest fish available, and it’s not worth the bait.

The US, like other western countries, is incontrovertibly under sustained assault from the Kremlin.

FALSE: There is nothing linking the “Internet Research Agency” to the Kremlin. None of the people indicted are employees of the Russian government. That’s very basic journalism. Leaving that information out is a deliberate lie.

Why does Trump continue to defend Russia? With Trump, it is difficult to talk about credibility. What little he does retain has just measurably diminished.

MISLEADING: Trump hasn’t “defended Russia”, he has defended himself, claiming there was no collusion. He said if Russia did anything, he didn’t know about it and it didn’t swing the election. The indictments echo this sentiment, which the author concedes…

The justice department stressed that any collaboration between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the 13 named Russians was “unwitting” and that these activities did not change the election’s outcome.

TRUE: The Justice Dept. has admitted there is no evidence of collusion. In a sane world, that brings the matter to a close.

But despite Trump’s crowing about vindication, that does not mean there was no collusion. It does not mean there was no wider conspiracy. Nor does it mean there was no impact on the election.

FALSE: Yes it does. That is literally exactly what it means.

Mueller’s investigation is ongoing. He already has extensive evidence of contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign. For example, the president’s eldest son sought political dirt to use against Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic opponent, from a Russian lawyer.

FALSE: This is untrue, Trump Jr. never SOUGHT dirt, he was (allegedly) OFFERED it, but never received it or paid for it. This is in contrast to, say, Hillary Clinton’s campaign – who we know paid a foreign national (Christopher Steele) to dig up (aka, fabricate) dirt on Donald Trump. In fact Hillary Clinton paying a British spy to make up stuff is the only reason this investigation ever happened.

Mueller has obtained two guilty pleas, from Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and from a former campaign adviser. They admit lying to federal authorities about their Russian government connections.

MISLEADING: This is highly dishonest. Flynn’s “Russian connections” consisted of two meetings with the Russian ambassador, both of which happened AFTER the election. Neither of which were to do with collusion. The first was about protecting Israel from UNSC condemnations, the second about retaliatory sanctions. Once again, this was all after the election, none of it was illegal or even improper.

Trump’s former campaign chairman has been charged with crimes including money-laundering.

Totally and completely irrelevant.

Steve Bannon, his disaffected former strategist, was interviewed at length this month.

TRUE: Yes, he was. And THIS MONTH the Justice Dept. “stressed that any collaboration between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the 13 named Russians was “unwitting” and that these activities did not change the election’s outcome.” Ergo, Bannon told them nothing.

And the special counsel has yet to announce his findings concerning Russian hacking of Democratic party email systems…

MISLEADING: WikiLeaks, who published the DNC e-mails, said the e-mails were leaked, not hacked. They were very specific about that. There is no evidence of hacking at all. Also, to talk about the DNC e-mails, without referencing the blatant internal corruption they uncovered, or the DNC staffer who was killed in mysterious circumstances shortly afterwards, is blatant lying by omission.

It’s important to remember, the only PROVEN cheating in the 2016 Presidential election was carried out by the DNC. The person responsible for this cheating resigned in disgrace, only to be immediately hired by Clinton’s campaign.

… which Trump publicly encouraged in 2016.

MISLEADING: That was a joke. It is intellectually dishonest to the point of absurdity to pretend other wise. Watch it. He’s joking.

Trump will have the chance to repeat his denials when, as anticipated, Mueller interviews him under oath. This interview, if it happens, could be Trump’s High Noon. There is a slight air of Gary Cooper about the tall, spare figure of Robert Mueller and an air of sleazy desperation about Trump.

This comparison is actually unintentionally apt. High Noon was released in 1952, the height of Hollywood’s “red scare” and is clearly an allegory for McCarthyism in Hollywood. The screenwriter/producer, Carl Foreman, was a former member of the Communist Party USA. He was called before HUAC and asked to name other communists, he refused, was labelled an “uncooperative witness”, blacklisted and fled to Britain. He didn’t return to the country of his birth for 30 years. His producer credit was taken off High Noon, and when his later work – Bridge on the River Kwai – won an oscar, it was not in his name.

This was McCarthyism in action. People having their livelihoods destroyed by rumor and gossip, being “tainted” by communism in the “land of the free”. Just 4 or 5 years ago the Western world looked back on this era as absurd paranoia, today suddenly it doesn’t seem so ridiculous. Today we have McCarthyism 2.0. Anonymous editorials blaming the Russians for everything and anything they can think of.

What happened to Gary Cooper, you ask? The film star to whom our anonymous Observer editor so aptly compares Robert Mueller? Well, he happily testified in front of HUAC to protect his career. Unlike Mueller, he at least had conscience enough to look ashamed of himself.

The latest indictments do not explicitly say the Russian government directed the election conspiracy, but there is plenty of reason to believe it did and that Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, was personally involved.

FALSE: There is not plenty of reason to believe this, as evidenced by the total lack of sources cited to support this assertion.

Given the way Putin runs his country with an iron hand (sic), it is risible to suggest such an audacious and risky operation was mounted without his knowledge. Putin is already deeply implicated in numerous other “hybrid conflict”, cyber warfare and disinformation campaigns against European democracies, including Britain.

FALSE: This is nothing but scare-mongering. There has been no evidence collected that Russia took any part in any “cyber warfare” anywhere in Europe. Quite the opposite.

The head of French cyber security said there was “no trace of Russian hacking” on the French Presidential election – which Macron won. Youtube, Facebook and twitter all said they saw “no evidence” Russia had influenced the Brexit vote. The New York Times even had an article wondering why Russia hadn’t “hacked” the German election.

Under his leadership, Russia is actively working to undermine western democracy.

FALSE: Again, there is no evidence of this. Certainly none linked in this article, which apparently doesn’t believe in sources or citations.

It has made a mockery of international law in Ukraine.

MISLEADING: Russia’s proven involvement in Ukraine is one bloodless referendum. I would suggest the nameless author(s) of this editorial google “Iraq 2003”, “Libya 2011”, “Gaza”, “Gitmo”… you know, the usual. If Russians are “mocking” international law, the Israelis have tarred and feathered it, and the American’s took it out behind the barn and shot it in the head. This level of hypocrisy is nauseating.

It is daily involved in the callous slaughter of Syrian civilians.

This would more accurately be phrased as “It is winning a war against ISIS and other coalition armed proxies, whom we fund and train to execute regime change.” Syrians are returning to Syria, ISIS are all but beaten.

And next month, Putin will effectively steal his own presidential election. It is possible that Mueller, like High Noon’s Marshal Will Kane, will blow Trump away.

“Effectively steal” meaning, in this instance, “win”. Russians support Putin, even Shaun Walker admits that in his absurd “goodbye Russia” article.

In summary, this editorial completely misses the point of these indictments. They are not the first domino to fall, this isn’t the sign of a coming impeachment. Far from it, it’s an admission hidden in an accusation. After all this time, and all this hysteria, they have shown they have nothing. The apparent budget of the Internet Research Agency was 1.2 million dollars. The Pentagon spends that much on stationary. Is this the extent of Russian “hacking” we heard so much about?

Because foreign interference doesn’t look like 13 people with fake facebook names.

Real “Foreign interference” looks like rigged elections for underdog candidates. “Foreign interference” costs five billion dollars and has leaked phone calls to prove it. It looks like £700,000 from a billionaire foreign national to push their own private agenda. It results in military coups of democratic presidents. It looks like armed contras selling cocaine to the American public. It looks like Yemen and Honduras and Iran and Venezuela. El Salvador, Cuba and Vietnam.

This is what “foreign interference” looks like:

And this…

…how do we confront the Putin menace?

This is what dangerous, dishonest war-mongering looks like.


The following points are mentioned in the indictments, but never brought up by The Observer. We consider them important.

  • The Russian “interference operation” was started in 2014, well before Donald Trump announced he was running for President.
  • The Russian indictees and their “co-conspirators” are accused of campaigning for Jill Stein and Bernie Sanders as well as Donald Trump.
  • The accusations state that the Internet Research Agency held both pro- and anti-Trump protests in the same city, on the same day, after the election.
  • … they also apparently promoted black lives matter and others.

February 18, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | | 2 Comments

“Russian Hacking”, a dangerous delusion

The author is Yale professor. Yes, seriously.
By Kit Knightly | OffGuardian | February 12, 2108

The Guardian published this short opinion piece today, its headline reads:

America lost a cyberwar to Russia in 2016. When will we have truth?

Refuting the stale claims repeated in the headline, and expanded upon in the prose, is but the work of a moment. Hitchens’ razor states that any claim made without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence. A Yale professor should know that. Therefore the refutation of the claim “Russia hacked the election” can be made in three simple words: No, they didn’t.

Job done. I consider the article dealt with. But now we have to deal with the undertone. Now we have deal with why this article is scary.

The scary part of this article isn’t the war-like talk about Russia.

The scary part isn’t that this seemingly delusional man is apparently a professor at one of the most auspicious institutes of learning in the Western world (although, that is cause for some concern).

The scary part isn’t an elitist “academic” sweepingly dismissing the electoral process of his own country, and ignoring the majority will of his countrymen.

No, the scary part is that he really, really means it. This isn’t propaganda, in the old sense of that word. This isn’t misinformation to spread an agenda. This is full-blown delusion. He genuinely believes the Russians are at “cyber war” with America.

To be crystal clear about this – there is literally ZERO evidence to support this. The Mueller investigation is limping along, revealing absolutely nothing (except that the FBI wanted Hillary to win). The Steele dossier is revealed to have been paid for by the DNC.

There is no evidence. And yet he believes.

Russia has become the great, Orwellian “enemy”. The unseen force behind all our ills. Russian trolls are to blame for Brexit (even though they’re not), and Catalonia (again, untrue) and Donald Trump. Russian trolls were even blamed for hacking the winter Olympics.

This is scary. Scary because it demonstrates that the liberal elite of the USA, and its vassal states, have totally lost their minds. They live in a fantasy world, an un-reality. And they will believe anything that is convenient, anything that supports their un-reality, even if it puts them on a path to real war.

That should terrify everybody.

February 12, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

The White Helmets Are A Propaganda Construct

corbettreport | February 9, 2018

Contrary to what its multi-million dollar international PR campaign would have you believe, the “White Helmets” are not a group of volunteer search-and-rescue workers that sprang spontaneously out of the Syrian soil. When you peel back the layers of foreign financing and reveal the foreign intelligence operatives and murky lobbying groups at the heart of the organization, what you find is that the White Helmets are, in fact, a propaganda construct.


February 9, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , | 1 Comment

Guardian alleges Youtube algorithm bias in favour of Trump & “conspiracy theories”

Guillaume Chaslot “ex-Youtube insider”
OffGuardian | February 5, 2018

On February 1 the Guardian ran two pieces on alleged pro-Trump, pro-conspiracy, anti-government bias in Youtube’s “up next” algorithm.

The first – “Fiction is outperforming reality’: how YouTube’s algorithm distorts truth” – is a profile of “Guillaume Chaslot” a “French computer programmer” and an “ex-YouTube insider” who allegedly “reveals how its recommendation algorithm promotes divisive clips and conspiracy videos.”

“Did they harm Hillary Clinton’s bid for the presidency?” demands the standfirst, setting the agenda from the off.

To sum up for those who don’t want to plough through the bloated text, the article is a splicing of the author’s (Paul Lewis) own uninteresting personal experiences of the Youtube algorithm taking him “on a journey of its own volition” to “a video of two boys, aged about five or six, punching and kicking one another,” with broad entirely unchecked and uncorroborated claims from Chaslot about what he says the algorithm shows about Youtube bias.

The ‘meat’ of the story, if there is any, is that the public-spirited M. Chaslot was allegedly fired by Google in 2013, and has now – as a maverick outsider – built a program that can monitor Youtube’s secret algorithms used to select recommended content to its viewers.

Using this program Chaslot has allegedly discovered this rampant bias in favour of the usual suspects. In fact Guillaume claims his software has detected YT’s selection algorithm had an 80% bias in favour of Trump over Clinton during the election.

The second Guardian piece from Feb 1, “How an ex-YouTube insider investigated its secret algorithm” (they are really pushing this), pretty much reiterates these claims from a slightly different perspective. In this one two Guardianistas (Paul again and someone called Erin) checked the list of “8,052” videos Guillaume’s software produced as evidence of bias. The pair seem very excited about their ‘research’, but since they have made no effort to examine the program itself or verify its balance or objectivity, their results are more or less worthless. GIGA always applies. Until we know exactly how Chaslot’s code works and until it’s been verified by some other parties, its conclusion remain moot at best.

The idea Youtube has a bias in favour of conspiracy theories seems fairly unlikely and will probably come as a very big surprise to all those whose “conspiracy-theory” accounts have been targeted for demonetization, or suffered “banning.. and de-trending… for posting hateful, fake or inappropriate content that challenges or mocks progressive narratives” since the previous clamp down on free thought by Google. In fact, given all this established fact, at this stage some of you inveterate sceptics and “conspiracy-theorists” out there might even be wondering how reliable M. Chaslot’s software actually is.

There’s no real information about this in either of the articles, beyond unverified claims that the program selects only top recommends on each pass. Chaslot’s website doesn’t seem to shed any light either.

The most potentially useful avenue to explore is to simply do your own searches using Chaslot’s professed method. Do you find the same overwhelming preponderance of conspiracy videos and pro-Trump videos as he and the Guardianistas claim? Let us know your results.

Another helpful thing is a link the Guardian provides to Chaslot’s code on GitHub.

If any of you out there are coders why not check it out while it remains available. See if Chaslot’s results can be duplicated. Is his program telling us a surprising truth, or is it flawed and unrepresentative?

This isn’t a trivial question, because today’s Guardian article on the same subject -“ Senator warns YouTube algorithm may be open to manipulation by ‘bad actors’” – makes it absolutely clear these claims are going to be used as a basis for fresh and probably draconian censorship which may see the end of any place on YouTube for opinions that even mildly question those sanctified “progressive narratives” of militarism, Russia-hate, endless war and global austerity.

February 6, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

Monbiot Is a Hypocrite and a Bully

By Jonathan Cook | Dissident Voice | January 15, 2018

It is time for George Monbiot’s legion of supporters to call him out. Not only is he a hypocrite, but he is becoming an increasingly dangerous one.

Turning a blind eye to his behaviour, or worse excusing it, as too often happens, has only encouraged him to intensify his attacks on dissident writers, those who – whether right or wrong on any specific issue – are slowly helping us all to develop more critical perspectives on western foreign policy goals than has ever been possible before.

I do not lightly use such strong language against Monbiot, someone I once admired. But his column this week drips with hypocrisy as he accuses the right wing media of being the real villains when it comes to “no-platforming”. Monbiot writes:

But perhaps the real discomfort is that the worst no-platforming of all takes place within our newspapers. In the publications most obsessed with student silliness, there is no platform for socialism, no platform for environmentalism, no platform for those who might offend the interests of the proprietors. …

I believe that a healthy media organisation, like a healthy university, should admit a diversity of opinion. I want the other newspapers to keep publishing views with which I fiercely disagree. But they – and we – should also seek opposing views and publish them too, however uncomfortable this might be.

What free speech advocate would disagree with that? Except it is Monbiot himself who has been using his prominent platforms, at the Guardian and on social media, to discredit critical thinkers on the left – not with reasoned arguments, but by impugning their integrity.

Denied a platform

It started with his unsubstantiated claim that scholars like Noam Chomsky and the late Ed Herman, as well as the acclaimed journalist John Pilger, were “genocide deniers and belittlers”. It now focuses on childish insinuations that those who question the corporate media’s simplistic narrative on Syria are Assad apologists or in Vladimir Putin’s pay.

But worse than this, Monbiot is also conspiring – either actively or through his silence – to deny critics of his and the Guardian’s position on Syria the chance to set out their evidence in its pages.

The Guardian’s anti-democratic stance does not surprise me, as someone who worked there for many years. I found myself repeatedly no-platformed by the paper – even while on its staff – after I started taking an interest in the Israel-Palestine conflict and writing about the discomforting issue of what a Jewish state entails. My treatment is far from unique.

Now the paper is denying a platform to those who question simplistic and self-serving western narratives on Syria. And Monbiot is backing his employer to the hilt, even as he professes his commitment to the publication of views he fiercely disagrees with. That’s the dictionary definition of hypocrisy.

‘Selfless’ White Helmets?

The latest installment of the Guardian and Monbiot’s long-running battle to silence Syria dissidents arrived last month when Olivia Solon, the paper’s technology writer living in San Francisco, developed a sudden and unexpected expertise in a controversial Syrian group called the White Helmets.

In the western corporate media narrative, the White Helmets are a group of dedicated and selfless rescue workers. They are supposedly the humanitarians on whose behalf a western intervention in Syria would have been justified – before, that is, Syrian leader Bashar Assad queered their pitch by inviting in Russia.

However, there are problems with the White Helmets. They operate only in rebel – read: mainly al-Qaeda and ISIS-held – areas of Syria, and plenty of evidence shows that they are funded by the UK and US to advance both countries’ far-from-humanitarian policy objectives in Syria.

There are also strong indications that members of the White Helmets have been involved in war crimes, and that they have staged rescue operations as a part of a propaganda offensive designed to assist Islamic extremists trying to oust Assad. (Solon discounts this last claim. In doing so, she ignores several examples of such behaviour, concentrating instead on an improbable “mannequin challenge”, when the White Helmets supposedly froze their emergency operations, in the midst of rescue efforts, apparently as part of a peculiar publicity campaign.)

Guardian hatchet job

Whatever side one takes in this debate, one would imagine that Monbiot should have a clear agenda in support of hearing evidence from all sides. One might also imagine that he would want to distance himself from Solon’s efforts to tie criticism of the White Helmets to a supposed “fake news” crisis and paint those critical of the group as Putin-bots. According to Solon:

The way the Russian propaganda machine has targeted the White Helmets is a neat case study in the prevailing information wars. It exposes just how rumours, conspiracy theories and half-truths bubble to the top of YouTube, Google and Twitter search algorithms.

Those are the same algorithms that have been changed in recent months to make sure that prominent leftist websites are increasingly difficult to find on internet searches and their writers’ views effectively disappeared.

Yet Monbiot has been using social media to promote Solon’s cheerleading of the White Helmets and her hatchet job against on-the-ground journalists who have taken a far more critical view of the group.

As set out by Prof Tim Hayward, the Guardian’s response to criticism of Solon’s piece has been typical. The comments section below the article was hastily closed after many criticisms were voiced by readers. The journalists who were singled out for attack by Solon were denied a right of reply. A group of concerned academics led by Hayward who submitted their own article, which detailed publicly available evidence to counter Solon’s simplistic account of the White Helmets, were ignored. Meanwhile, the Guardian’s editors and the reader’s editor have ignored all efforts by these parties to contact them.

Given his claim to be an uncompromising defender of free speech and a fierce advocate of providing platforms to those who can back up their arguments with evidence, however discomforting, one might have assumed that Monbiot would at the very least have lobbied on behalf of Hayward and his fellow scholars. But not a bit of it. Yet again he has joined the dogs of the corporate media baying for blood. Instead he turned to Twitter to claim Hayward and Piers Robinson, an expert on propaganda, had “disgraced” themselves.

Undermining climate concerns

The many tens of thousands of leftists who defend Monbiot, or turn a blind eye to his hypocrisy, largely do so because of his record on the environment. But in practice they are enabling not only his increasingly overt incitement against critical thinkers, but also undermining the very cause his supporters believe he champions.

Climate breakdown is a global concern. Rewilding, bike-riding, protecting bees and polar bears, and developing new sustainable technologies are all vitally important. But such actions will amount to little if we fail to turn a highly sceptical eye on the activities of a western military-industrial complex ravaging the planet’s poorest regions.

These war industries fill their coffers by using weapons indiscriminately on “enemy” populations, spawning new and fiercer enemies – while often propping them up too – to generate endless wars. The consequences include massive displacements of these populations who then destabilise other regions, spreading the effect and creating new opportunities for the arms manufacturers, homeland security industries, and the financial industries that feed off them.

A true environmentalist has to look as critically at western policies in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela and many other areas of the globe as he does at UK policy in the Welsh hills and the Lake District.

All indications are that Monbiot lacks the experience, knowledge and skills to unravel the deceptions being perpetrated in the west’s proxy and not-so-proxy wars overseas. That is fair enough. What is not reasonable is that he should use his platforms to smear precisely those who can speak with a degree of authority and independence – and then conspire in denying them a platform to respond. That is the behaviour not only of a hypocrite, but of a bully too.

January 16, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | 1 Comment