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Monbiot Still Burying his Head in Sands of Syria

By Jonathan Cook | Dissident Voice | November 21, 2017

Investigative journalist Gareth Porter has published two exclusives whose import is far greater than may be immediately apparent. They concern Israel’s bombing in 2007 of a supposed nuclear plant secretly built, according to a self-serving US and Israeli narrative, by Syrian leader Bashar Assad.

Although the attack on the “nuclear reactor” occurred a decade ago, there are pressing lessons to be learnt for those analysing current events in Syria.

Porter’s research indicates very strongly that the building that was bombed could not have been a nuclear reactor – and that was clear to experts at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) even as the story was being promoted uncritically across the western media.

But – and this is the critical information Porter conveys – the IAEA failed to disclose the fact that it was certain the building was not a nuclear plant, allowing the fabricated narrative to be spread unchallenged. It abandoned science to bow instead to political expediency.

The promotion of the bogus story of a nuclear reactor by Israel and key figures in the Bush administration was designed to provide the pretext for an attack on Assad. That, it was hoped, would bring an end to his presidency and drag into the fray the main target – Iran. The Syrian “nuclear reactor” was supposed to be a re-run of the WMD deception, used in 2003 to oust another enemy of the US and Israel’s – Saddam Hussein of Iraq.

It is noteworthy that the fabricated evidence for a nuclear reactor occurred in 2007, a year after Israel’s failure to defeat Hizbullah in Lebanon. The 2006 Lebanon war was itself intended to spread to Syria and lead to Assad’s overthrow, as I explained in my book Israel and the Clash of Civilisations.

It is important to remember that this Israeli-neocon plot against Syria long predated – in fact, in many ways prefigured – the civil war in 2011 that quickly morphed into a proxy war in which the US became a key, if mostly covert, actor.

The left’s Witchfinder General

The relevance of the nuclear reactor deception can be understood in relation to the latest efforts by Guardian columnist George Monbiot (and many others) to discredit prominent figures on the left, including Noam Chomsky and John Pilger, for their caution in making assessments of much more recent events in Syria. Monbiot has attacked them for not joining him in simply assuming that Assad was responsible for a sarin gas attack last April on Khan Sheikhoun, an al-Qaeda stronghold in Idlib province.

Understandably, many on the left have been instinctively wary of rushing to judgment about individual incidents in the Syrian war, and the narratives presented in the western media. The claim that Assad’s government used chemical weapons in Khan Sheikhoun, and earlier in Ghouta, was an obvious boon to those who have spent more than a decade trying to achieve regime change in Syria.

In what has become an ugly habit with Monbiot, and one I have noted before, he has enthusiastically adopted the role of Witchfinder General. Any questioning of evidence, scepticism or simply signs of open-mindedness are enough apparently to justify accusations that one is an Assadist or conspiracy theorist. Giving house room to the doubts of a ballistics expert like Ted Postol of MIT, or an experienced international arms expert like Scott Ritter, or a famous investigative journalist like Seymour Hersh, or a former CIA analyst like Ray McGovern, is apparently proof that one is an atrocity denier or worse.

Inconvenient facts buried

Monbiot’s latest attack was launched at a moment when he obviously felt he was on solid ground. A UN agency, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), issued a report last month concluding that the 100 people killed and 200 injured in Khan Sheikhoun last April were exposed to sarin. Monbiot argues that the proof is now incontrovertible that Assad was responsible – a position that he, of course, adopted at the outset – and that all other theories have now been decisively discounted by the OPCW.

There are reasons to think that Monbiot is seriously misrepresenting the strength of the OPCW’s findings, as several commentators have observed. Most notably, Robert Parry, another leading investigative journalist, points out that evidence in the report’s annex – the place where inconvenient facts are often buried – appears to blow a large hole in the official story.

Parry notes that the time recorded by the UN of the photo of the chemical weapons attack is more than half an hour *after* some 100 victims had already been admitted to five different hospitals, some of them lengthy drives from the alleged impact site.

But potentially more significant than such troubling inconsistencies are the conclusions of Gareth Porter’s separate investigation into Israel’s bombing of the non-existent Syrian nuclear reactor. That gets to the heart of where Monbiot and many others have gone badly wrong in their certainty about events in Syria.

Extreme naivety

Monbiot has been only too willing to promote as indisputable fact claims made both by highly compromised and unreliable western sources and by supposedly reputable and independent organisations, such as international human rights groups and UN agencies. He, like many others, assumes that the latter can always be relied upon to stand apart from western interests and can therefore be implicitly trusted.

That indicates an extreme naivety or possibly the lack of any experience covering on the ground highly charged conflicts in which western interests are paramount.

I have been based in Israel for nearly two decades and have on several occasions taken to task Human Rights Watch (HRW), one of the world’s most esteemed human rights organisations. I have shown that assessments it has made were patently not rooted in evidence or even credible interpretations of international law but in geopolitical considerations. That was especially true in the case of the month-long fighting between Israel and Hizbullah in 2006. (See here and here.) My concerns about HRW’s work, I later learnt from insiders, were shared in its New York head office, but were silenced by the organisation’s most senior staff.

Nuclear plant deception

But Porter helps shine a light on how even the most reputable international agencies can end up similarly following a script written in Washington and one that rides roughshod over evidence, especially when the interests of the world’s only superpower are at stake. In this case, the deceptions were perpetuated by one of the world’s leading scientific organisations: the International Atomic Energy Agency, which monitors states’ nuclear activities.

Porter reveals that Yousry Abushady, the IAEA’s foremost expert on North Korean nuclear reactors, was able immediately to discount the aerial photographic evidence that the building Israel bombed in 2007 was a nuclear reactor. (Most likely it was a disused missile storage depot.)

The Syrian “nuclear plant”, he noted, could not have been built using North Korean know-how, as was claimed by the US. It lacked all the main features of a North Korean gas-cooled reactor. The photos produced by the Israelis showed a building that, among other things, covered too small an area and was not anywhere near high enough, it had none of the necessary supporting structures, and there was no cooling tower.

Abushady’s assessment was buried by the IAEA, which preferred to let the CIA and the Israelis promote their narrative unchallenged.

Atomic agency’s silence

This was not a one-off failure. In summer 2008, the IAEA visited the area to collect samples. Had the site been a nuclear plant, they could have expected to find nuclear-grade graphite particles everywhere. They found none.

Nonetheless, the IAEA again perpetrated a deception to try to prop up the fictitious US-Israeli narrative.

As was routine, they sent the samples to a variety of laboratories for analysis. None found evidence of any nuclear contamination – apart from one. It identified particles of man-made uranium. The IAEA issued a report giving prominence to this anomalous sample, even though in doing so it violated its own protocols, reports Parry. It could draw such a conclusion only if the results of all the samples matched.

In fact, as one of the three IAEA inspectors who had been present at the site later reported, the sample of uranium did not come from the plant itself, which was clean, but from a changing room nearby. A former IAEA senior inspector, Robert Kelley, told Parry that a “very likely explanation” was that the uranium particles derived from “cross contamination” from clothing worn by the inspectors. This is a problem that had been previously noted by the IAEA in other contexts.

Meanwhile, the IAEA remained silent about its failure to find nuclear-grade graphite in a further nine reports over two years. It referred to this critical issue for the first time in 2011.

Chance for war with Iran

In other words, the IAEA knowingly conspired in a fictitious, entirely non-scientific assessment of the Syrian “nuclear reactor” story, one that neatly served US-Israeli geopolitical interests.

Porter notes that vice-president Dick Cheney “hoped to use the alleged reactor to get President George W Bush to initiate US airstrikes in Syria in the hope of shaking the Syrian-Iranian alliance”.

In fact, Cheney wanted far more sites in Syria hit than the bogus nuclear plant. In his memoirs, the then-secretary of defence, Robert Gates, observed that Cheney was “looking for an opportunity to provoke a war with Iran”.

The Bush administration wanted to find a way to unseat Assad, crush Hizbullah in Lebanon, and isolate and weaken Iran as a way to destroy the so-called “Shia crescent”.

That goal is being actively pursued again by the US today, with Israel and Saudi Arabia leading the way. A former US ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, recently warned that, after their failure to bring down Assad, the Saudis have been trying to switch battlefields to Lebanon, hoping to foment a confrontation between Israel and Hizbullah that would drag in Iran.

Abandoning science

Back in 2007, the IAEA, an agency of scientists, did its bit to assist – or at least not obstruct – US efforts to foster a political case, an entirely unjustified one, for military action against Syria and, very possibly by extension, Iran.

If the IAEA could so abandon its remit and the cause of science to help play politics on behalf of the US, what leads Monbiot to assume that the OPCW, an even more politicised body, is doing any better today?

That is not to say Assad, or at least sections of the Syrian government, could not have carried out the attack on Khan Sheikhoun. But it is to argue that in a matter like this one, where so much is at stake, the evidence must be subjected to rigorous scrutiny, and that critics, especially experts who offer counter-evidence, must be given a fair hearing by the left. It is to argue that, when the case against Assad fits so neatly a long-standing and self-serving western narrative, a default position of scepticism is fully justified. It is to argue that facts, strong as they may seem, can be manipulated even by expert bodies, and therefore due weight needs also to be given to context – including an assessment of motives.

This is not “denialism”, as Monbiot claims. It is a rational strategy adopted by those who object to being railroaded once again – as they were in Iraq and Libya – into catastrophic regime change operations.

Meanwhile, the decision by Monbiot and others to bury their heads in the sands of an official narrative, all the while denouncing anyone who seeks to lift theirs out for a better view, should be understood for what it is: an abnegation of intellectual and moral responsibility for those around the globe who continue to be the victims of western military supremacism.

November 21, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

#blamePutin continues to be the media’s dominant hashtag

OffGuardian | November 20, 2017

The decline of the falsely self-described “quality” media outlet The Guardian/Observer into a deranged fake news site pushing anti-Russian hate propaganda continues apace. Take a look at this gem:

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has accused prominent British businessman Bill Browder of being a “serial killer” – the latest extraordinary attempt by the Kremlin to frame one of its most high-profile public enemies.

But Putin has not been reported anywhere else as making any recent statement about Browder whatever, and the Observer article makes no further mention of Putin’s supposed utterance or the circumstances in which it was supposedly made.

As the rest of the article makes clear, the suspicions against Browder were actually voiced by Russian police investigators and not by Putin at all.

The Observer fabricated a direct quote from the Russian president for their propaganda purposes without any regard to basic journalistic standards. They wanted to blame Putin personally for the suspicions of some Russian investigators, so they just invented an imaginary statement from him so they could conveniently do so.

What is really going on here is the classic trope of demonisation propaganda in which the demonised leader is conflated with all officials of their government and with the targeted country itself, so as to simplify and personalise the narrative of the subsequent Two Minutes Hate to be unleashed against them.

When, as in this case, the required substitution of the demonised leader for their country can’t be wrung out of the facts even through the most vigorous twisting, a disreputable fake news site like The Guardian/Observer is free to simply make up new, alternative facts that better fit their disinformative agenda. Because facts aren’t at all sacred when the official propaganda line demands lies.

In the same article, the documents from Russian investigators naming Browder as a suspect in certain crimes are first “seen as” a frame-up (by the sympathetic chorus of completely anonymous observers yellow journalism can always call on when an unsupported claim needs a spurious bolstering) and then outright labelled as such (see quote above) as if this alleged frame-up is a proven fact. Which it isn’t.

No evidence is required down there in the Guardian/Observer journalistic gutter before unsupported claims against Russian officials can be treated as unquestionable pseudo-facts, just as opponents of Putin can commit no crime for the outlet’s hate-befuddled hacks.

The above falsifications were brought to the attention of the Observer’s so-called Readers Editor – the official at the Guardian/Observer responsible for “independently” defending the outlet’s misdeeds against outraged readers – who did nothing. By now the article has rolled off the site’s front page, rendering any possible future correction nugatory in any case.

Later in the same article Magnitsky is described as having been Browder’s “tax lawyer” a standard trope of the Western propaganda narrative about the case. Magnitsky was actually an accountant.

A trifecta of fakery in one article! That makes crystal clear what the Guardian meant in this article, published at precisely the same moment as the disinformation cited above, when it said:

“We know what you are doing,” Theresa May said of Russia. It’s not enough to know. We need to do something about it.

By “doing something about it” they mean they’re going to tell one hostile lie about Russia after another.

November 20, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

Guardian, NYT Paint Power-Grabbing Saudi Dictator as Roguish, Visionary ‘Reformer’

By Adam Johnson | FAIR | November 17, 2017

Guardian: Saudi arrests show crown prince is a risk-taker with a zeal for reform

The Guardian (11/5/17)

Two weeks ago, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman carried out a brutal crackdown on his political opponents, arresting dozens of high-ranking relatives, kidnapping the prime minister of Lebanon, and seeing eight of his political rivals die in a convenient helicopter crash. The “consolidation of power” by the de facto Saudi ruler comes as his government ramps up its siege of Yemen and gets even closer to its US sponsor, thanks to a Trump’s dopey love affair with—and direct assistance of—the regime.

The cynical plan has been met, in some media quarters, with condemnation, but for many in the Western press, Mohammed’s self-serving power grab is the action of a bold “reformer,” a roguish bad boy doing the messy but essential work of “reforming” the kingdom—the “anti-corruption” pretext of the purge largely repeated without qualification. The most prominent sources for this spin were two major newspapers, the New York Times and Guardian:

  • Guardian (11/5/17): “Royal Purge Sends Shockwaves Through Saudi Arabia’s Elites: Move Consolidates Power of Prince Mohammed Bin Salman as He Attempts to Reform Kingdom’s Economy and Society”
  • Guardian (11/5/17) : “Saudi Arrests Show Crown Prince Is a Risk-Taker With a Zeal for Reform: Mohammed Bin Salman Is Confronting Some of the Kingdom’s Richest and Most Powerful Men in His Anti-Corruption Drive—but Is He Taking on Too Much Too Fast?
  • Guardian (11/6/17): “Oil Price Rises to Two-Year High After Saudi Arabia Purge: Markets Push Price Up to $62 a Barrel After Anti-Corruption Purge by Billionaire Crown Prince Who Backs Prolonging Oil Production Curbs”
  • Guardian  (11/7/17): “‘This Is a Revolution’: Saudis Absorb Crown Prince’s Rush to Reform: Consolidation of Power in Mohammed Bin Salman’s Hands Has Upended All Aspects of Society, Including Previously Untouchable Ultra-Elite
  • New York Times (11/5/17): “Saudi Crown Prince’s Mass Purge Upends a Longstanding System”
  • New York Times (11/14/17): “The Upstart Saudi Prince Who’s Throwing Caution to the Wind”

While the text of the Times articles was far more skeptical about Mohammed’s motives, the Guardian’s (11/5/17) initial coverage of the bloody purge—not just the headlines—was written in breathless press release tones:

Saudi Arabia’s leadership has pulled off its boldest move yet to consolidate power around its young crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, arresting 11 senior princes, one of the country’s richest men and scores of former ministers in what it billed as a corruption purge.

The move sidelined at least 20 senior figures, among them outspoken billionaire, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, sending shockwaves through the ranks of the kingdom’s elites, who had long viewed senior royals as immune.

Lots of glowing prose to unpack here. Longtime Mideast correspondent Martin Chulov began by referring to “Saudi Arabia’s leadership,” which is a nice, sterile way of referencing the country’s unelected hereditary king and crown prince. Then he pivoted into marketing pablum about “bold moves” and “consolidating power,” before unironically framing the purge as an “anti-corruption” gesture designed to stick it to the “kingdom’s elites.” One could come away from reading this lead with the impression that the billionaire aristocrat was a populist folk hero in the vein of Robin Hood or John Dillinger. The thrilling profile continued:

Prince Mohammed will oversee the corruption commission, adding to his already formidable list of responsibilities, including his role as Defense minister and champion of the economic transformation, dubbed Vision 2030, that aims to revolutionize most aspects of Saudi life within 12 years.

Prince Mohammed told the Guardian last month that the kingdom had been “not normal” for the past 30 years and pledged to return Saudi Arabia to moderate Islam.

While the author had a “to be sure” paragraph, citing “others” calling it a “naked attempt to weed out dissent,” the overall thrust of the article was that a roguish billionaire Boy King was earnestly seeking “reform” and opposing “elites.”

A follow-up piece (11/7/17) took flattering coverage to new extremes. The dispatch, again by Chulov, cited nothing but anonymous Saudi court hanger-ons and a Gulf-funded talking head from the NATO-aligned Atlantic Council think tank. The article, “‘This Is a Revolution’: Saudis Absorb Crown Prince’s Rush to Reform,” was populated with blind quotes from such adversarial voices as a “senior minister,” “a senior Saudi official,” a “senior figure,” a “senior Saudi businessman” and “veteran business leaders.” (Evidently no junior officials or rookie business leaders were available for comment.)

The article painted the “consolidation of power” by Mohammed as an inevitability with broad support—using the dubious “reform” narrative without irony. With Guardian editors again painting Mohammed as a populist hero by insisting he “upended” “previously untouchable ultra-elite,” one is left to wonder why they don’t consider the absolute-monarch-in-waiting—who just bought a $590 million yacht—part of the “ultra elite.” It’s a curious framing that reeks more of PR than journalism.

NYT: The Young and Brash Saudi Crown Prince

The New York Times (6/23/17) 

This was a trope one could see emerging over the past few months. Similar “bold reformer” frames were used in New York Times editorials (“The Young and Brash Saudi Crown Prince,” 6/23/17) and straight reporting (“Saudi Arabia’s Grand Plan to Move Beyond Oil: Big Goals, Bigger Hurdles,” 10/24/17). Everything’s new and exciting. The brutal, routine functions of the Saudi state are seen as laws of nature—and those in charge of it are the reformers of the very oppression they initially authored.

A Guardian editorial on November 7 was critical of the government, calling it “regressive” and Mohammed “belligerent,” but ultimately rested on “both sides” framing of recent events. The only meaningfully critical coverage of Saudi Arabia coming from the Guardian since the purge has been in two articles (11/12/17, 11/16/17), both in the context of Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen. Neither mentioned bin Salman, and both stressed how the Saudis are responding in earnest to international pleas to stop their mass-murdering blockade of the Arab world’s poorest country.

Per usual, the Guardian reserves the label “regime” for Official Enemies like Syria and North Korea; Saudi Arabia doesn’t have a regime, it has “leadership.” Unlike adversary governments, often seen in need of “regime change,” the Saudi government merely requires “reform”—and a bold new “reformer,” of the sort championed by the likes of the Guardian and New York Times.


You can send a message to the New York Times at letters@nytimes.com , and to the Guardian at guardian.letters@theguardian.com (Twitter@NYTimes, @Guardian). Please remember that respectful communication is the most effective.

November 18, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why Saudi Purge Signals War Footing

By Finian CUNNINGHAM | Strategic Culture Foundation | 10.11.2017

Mass arrests of senior royals, amid fear of assassinations, indicate that what is going on in Saudi Arabia is a far-reaching purge. The facade of a “corruption probe” – promoted in part by Western news media and US President Donald Trump – is a barely credible cover.

The cover is not just for a ruthless power grab within the desert kingdom by Saudi rulers, but a realignment that also puts the entire Middle East region on notice for more conflict and possibly even an all-out war with Iran. A war that the Israeli state and the Trump administration are enthusiastically egging on.

This move towards war with Iran could explain why the Saudi royals made a landmark trip to Moscow last month. Was it an attempt to buy off Russia with oil and weapons deals in order to free the Saudi hand with regard to Iran?

In typical fragmented fashion, Western media have tended to report the mass arrest last weekend of royal princes, ministers and business leaders, carried out under the orders of King Salman and his heir Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as a crackdown on corruption and business sleaze.

Omitted in media coverage is the significant wider context of the Saudi rulers moving at the same time to exert political control over regional politicians, as well as making sensational claims that Iran and Lebanon have “declared war” on Saudi Arabia by allegedly supporting a missile strike from Yemen.

The apparent forced resignation of Lebanese premier Saad Hariri last weekend after having been summoned to Saudi capital Riyadh provided convenient substance to Saudi claims that Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah were destabilizing Lebanon and indeed plotting to assassinate Hariri.

However, Hariri was just one of several regional political figures whom the Saudis were reportedly putting pressure on. Reports emerged that the ex-Yemeni president Mansour Hadi has been held under house arrest in his exile home in Riyadh. There were reports too of Syrian opposition figures being detained in Riyadh. And the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas was ordered to the Saudi capital. This suggests the Saudis are orchestrating a regional chorus line.

Furthermore, there were credible Israeli media reports that the government of Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv is coordinating with Saudi Arabia to support the latter’s accusations against Iran and Hezbollah of committing acts of war from Yemen by supplying missiles to the Houthi rebels.

Washington has also weighed in to support the Saudi claims that Iran is arming the Houthis in violation of a UN Security Council resolution. Referring to the missile strike on Riyadh international airport last Sunday President Trump said that “Iran took a shot at Saudi Arabia”. Then the US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley later in the week called for sanctions against Tehran, citing Saudi “evidence”. Iran has dismissed the claims as baseless, pointing to the Saudi air, sea and land blockade on Yemen as preventing any such weapons supply.

The power behind the Saudi throne, Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), the 32-year-old son of aging King Salman (82), has emerged as an ambitious autocrat who also harbors an intense hostility towards Iran. In several media interviews, the Crown Prince has disclosed an obsession with crushing Iran. This goes way beyond the usual sectarian Wahhabi antipathy of Saudi leaders towards Shia Iran.

Crown Prince MbS is playing a smart game to a degree. He has made a big media play on “reforming” Saudi Arabia from its fundamentalist social conservatism to become a seemingly more cosmopolitan society. The Crown Prince has pushed reforms giving Saudi women the right to drive cars, travel without male guardians, and enter sports stadiums. Hardly radical advances in gender equality. Nevertheless, MbS has ably projected himself with Western media assistance as something of a progressive reformer.

Those changes are but the veneer for ruthless ambitions and a hyper power-grab within the despotic House of Saud. The supposed “corruption probe” is another layer of varnish to conceal much more sinister developments.

Britain’s Guardian newspaper this week waxed lyrical over the mass round-up of senior Saudi royals and ministers describing it as a “revolution” carried out by the would-be reformer Crown Prince, placing the development in the context of minor liberalization of women’s rights.

Meanwhile, the New York Times offered an apologia for the “Saudi Corruption Crackdown” by saying: “Graft is so pervasive that any measures short of revolutionary change may appear to be selective prosecution.”

Such reporting serves as a distraction from the real power play at work and the grave regional implications.

For a start, the number of detained princes, as well as current and former government ministers, are in the dozens. The profiles of those arrested suggest a pattern that has more to do with eliminating potential rivals than with alleged corruption.

Potentially most sinister is that on the day of the mass arrests, a contender for inheriting the Saudi throne was killed in a helicopter crash. Prince Mansour bin Muqrin (42) was among eight officials who died when their chopper went down in southern Asir Province near the border with Yemen. Saudi media have not given any details about the cause of the crash. One might have expected the Saudis to lay the blame on Houthi rebels and, by extension, Iran. But no. The House of Saud and its media outlets have said little about the death of this senior royal. Significantly, too, the Houthi rebels and their media have said little about the incident. If there was a chance of the rebels being involved, one might expect them to prompt a propaganda coup claiming a spectacular blow against the Saudis whom they have been fighting a war against since March 2015.

The chopper victim Prince Mansour was the son of 72-year-old Prince Muqrin, who is one of the last surviving sons of the Saudi kingdom’s founder Ibn Saud. (He is a half-brother to the sitting King Salman.)

Prince Muqrin was also former head of Saudi state intelligence (2005-2012) before he was made Crown Prince in January 2015 upon the death of his brother, the late King Abdullah. In the arcane world of Saudi power inheritance, the throne has always passed between Ibn Saud’s sons, or from brother to brother. When Abdullah died in January 2015, the next in line was their brother Salman (the present king). After Salman, according to traditional succession rules, the next heir to the throne should have been Muqrin, who indeed was made Crown Prince in January 2015. However, three months later, King Salman demoted Muqrin as heir apparent. He was sidelined to make way for the emergence of Mohammed bin Salman, the son of the king, as Crown Prince. That marked an unprecedented rupture in Saudi royal tradition, and no doubt has left a seething resentment among the clans comprising the House of Saud.

Prince Muqrin and his lineage of six sons therefore can be seen as a dangerous rival to the ambitions of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. As his own father King Salman’s health declines, the next-in-line appears to be clearing the royal court of potential competition for the throne.

It is not yet known what actually happened to the helicopter ferrying Prince Mansour last weekend. But it seems more than a coincidence that the crash occurred on the same day as the arrest and round-up of several other senior royals. Two of those arrested were Prince Mataib bin Abdullah and Prince Turki bin Abdullah. They are the sons of the late King Abdullah, and like Prince Mansour, they are cousins of Crown Prince MbS, and therefore could potentially mount a challenge to his succession to the throne.

The arrests also targeted the heads of national security, the National Guard and Navy, as well as Western-connected Saudi media magnates Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal and Waleed Al-Ibrahim, who are major shareholders in 20th Century Fox, News Corporation, Apple, Twitter, and TV satellite companies. Those arrests suggest that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is trying to close down any backlash from within the Saudi security establishment, as well as shut off potentially negative media coverage.

Donald Trump immediately hailed the events in Saudi Arabia as a welcome clean-up against corruption. He said people had been “milking the country for years”.

There is little doubt that Saudi elites are generally up to their eyes in graft. The House of Saud and the country’s fabulously wealth oil industry are a byword for endemic corruption, bribery and racketeering. (Recall the British Al-Yamamah $60 billion arms and bribery scandal during the 1980s under the Thatcher government for example.)

So, for Trump and sections of the Western media to indulge the notion of a reforming Crown Prince overhauling endemic national sleaze is impossibly naive.

It also completely misses the point of how the Saudi rulers are gearing up for a regional war with Iran and via Lebanon by consolidating all power behind Crown Prince MbS and his anti-Iran obsession.

Trump and his business mogul son-in-law Jared Kushner have from an early stage gravitated to Crown Prince MbS for massive US arms sales and Saudi investment in the American economy. Only days before the Saudi purge, Kushner was on a low-key visit to Riyadh to meet with Saudi rulers. Trump also appealed last week to the Saudis to choose US stock markets for the much-anticipated share sell-off for Aramco, the Saudi national oil company, which is expected to fetch $2 trillion.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the architect behind the Saudi slaughter in Yemen, is positioning himself with total power in order to pursue his obsession of confronting Iran. That’s like pushing an open door when it comes to forming an anti-Iran front with Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu and the Trump administration. And for Trump there is also the added incentive of lavishing Wall Street by pandering to the Saudi despots.

November 10, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | 2 Comments

RussiaDidIt: Cheap Meddling, Closet Marxists and Racial Tensions

By Ricardo Vaz | Investig’Action | November 2, 2017

Are you a western journalist or analyst with an issue you cannot explain? Do your symptoms include an unwillingness to learn anything from history and an unconditional embrace of western exceptionalism? Then we have just the thing for you: RussiaDidIt! Taken in the appropriate dosage, RussiaDidIt can be used for just any issue, small and large, old and new, near and far. Call your local US embassy or EU office and order your RussiaDidIt talking points. Side effects may include total paranoia, loss of credibility and a desire to wear the EU flag as a cape.

It seems like all the evils that plague the western world these days have a common cause. Brexit, Catalonia, Trump, racial tensions, the lack of credibility of the EU, all of these have a simple explanation, if we are to believe the mainstream media and pundits: Russia is behind it. And not just Russia, but Putin himself. He must be the busiest villain in history.

True journalists like Robert Parry have analysed and exposed the rise of this new McCarthyism, and how uncorroborated, or sometimes outrightly false, allegations gradually become unquestionable facts.(1)

Screenshots from the Washington Post and Politico

In this piece we examine three articles that have different angles of this RussiaDidIt approach. They have the paranoia of Russian meddling in US elections as a background, but everything applies just as well to similar stories about the EU. Inevitably it all ties back to an inability, or unwillingness, to learn anything from history, and this disgusting myth that everyone should look up to the West as a beacon of superior values. We start of course with the ineffable Guardian.

Cheap journalism and cheap meddling

One day journalism students will study the spiral of lowering standards that took hold of the Guardian. One can sense the denial taking hold of the newspaper as their liberal centrist paradise crumbles. They yearn for a knight in shining armour who can come and save them from Brexit, even if it is Tony Blair, because, believe it or not, the idea of the EU has been here since the Renaissance!(2)

As expected, the Guardian has embraced the idea that the Russians “hacked” the 2016 US elections (whatever that means) wholeheartedly. And it recently reported on new, ground-breaking revelations:

“Russian trolls posing as Americans made payments to genuine activists in the US to help fund protest movements on socially divisive issues […]

[…] the newspaper RBC published a major investigation into the work of a so-called Russian “troll factory” since 2015, including during the period of the US election campaign, disclosures that are likely to put further spotlight on alleged Russian meddling in the election.”

So far it sounds very serious. We then learn that the main “socially divisive issue” was race relations.

RBC counted 16 groups relating to the Black Lives Matter campaign and other race issues that had a total of 1.2 million subscribers. The biggest group was entitled Blacktivist and reportedly had more than 350,000 likes at its peak.

Last month, CNN also reported that US authorities believed the Blacktivist Facebook group and Twitter account were the work of Russian impostors.”

The liberal media have often thrown these outrageous suggestions that activism like Black Lives Matter is part of a foreign agenda, as opposed to a reaction to the structural racism that exists in the US (more on this later). But the main point that needs to be addressed about this cunning plan is the following: how much did the Russians spend in these devious activities of inflaming tensions in the US? A whopping… 80,000 dollars! The Guardian thinks the activities of some alleged troll factory engaging in social media activity and paying activists a grand total of $80,000 represents unacceptable Russian “meddling”!

Billboard accusing Martin Luther King Jr. of being a communist

Let us put this number in perspective. Hillary Clinton made $3 million out of 12 speeches to big banks. The entire spending in the US presidential election was almost $2 billion. And the Guardian is worried about $80,000 worth of meddling. For comparison USAID spent $4.2 million advancing US interests in Venezuela in 2015 alone. Even if these $80,000 had been spent in a single year, it would still be 50 times smaller than what one of the US empire’s foreign policy branches spent only in Venezuela.

The Guardian piece closes by mentioning that the evil Russians also bought ads on Google and Facebook for “tens of thousands of dollars” and “$100,000”, respectively. So in essence, the Guardian is reporting that it found suspicious grains of sand in the desert.(3) It would seem Putin is not just an evil mastermind, he is also a legendary bargain hunter. It should also be clear that the tech giants are more than happy to play their part in the witch-hunt and the crusade against “fake news”, which is nothing but an attempt by the dominant classes to monopolise their control over information.

Trump is a closet Marxist!

Next we look at an opinion column which has got to be one of the most ludicrous texts ever written. At first glance it could be mistaken for satire, but it was actually written by Cass Sunstein, a professor at Harvard and former member of the Obama administration, for Bloomberg News. The title is “Russia Is Using Marxist Strategies, and So Is Trump”!

While the entire piece should be framed for posterity, we will just quote some of the highlights:

“Karl Marx and his followers argued that revolutionaries should disrupt capitalist societies by “heightening the contradictions.” Russia used a version of that Marxist idea in its efforts to disrupt the 2016 presidential campaign. […]

What is more surprising, and far more important for American politics, is that President Donald Trump is drawn to a similar strategy.

Marx contended that as the conditions of workers started to improve, they would cease to be content with their lot, or to regard their alienation as inevitable. Lenin seized on this idea and transformed it into a revolutionary strategy. […] The job of the communist revolutionary was to “heighten” or “accelerate” those contradictions.

During the 2016 campaign, Russians did something very much like that, not to produce a revolution, but to deepen and intensify social divisions (and to help elect Donald Trump).

In short, the Russians tried to foster a sense of grievance and humiliation on all sides. […] Lenin would have been proud.”

The Russian actions that Sunstein is talking about are none other than the buying of social media ads and fostering of activism that we described in the previous section. But how about that for a deep understanding of Marx and Lenin? Sunstein does try to shield himself with a footnote that says:

“I am giving a brisk summary of some famously complex and ambiguous arguments from both Marx and Lenin.” (my emphasis)

Marx, Engels, Lenin… and Trump? Cass Sunstein of Harvard University and Bloomberg News is on the maximum dosage of RussiaDidIt !

There is nothing ambiguous about Marx and Lenin. Sunstein’s argument, on the other hand, is unambiguously idiotic. The fundamental contradiction in capitalist society is that one (large) group, the working-class, sells its labour, while another one, the bourgeoisie, profits from it because it owns the means of production. These two groups have fundamentally different interests and are irrevocably at odds, this is called class struggle. Marx’s work is monumental because it was the first truly scientific analysis of the capitalist system, which meant it also explained how it could be destroyed.

The “accelerating of these contradictions” means accelerating this class conflict in order to do a little more than “disrupting” capitalism. The goal is to overthrow capitalism altogether, have the workers seize power and the means of production, and have a society free of exploitation(4) and where production is directed to satisfy human need and not the profit of capitalists. In other words, socialism.

Lenin’s contributions to Marxism, both in theory and practice, are of course way beyond the childish arguments in this piece, from his understanding of capitalism’s inevitable development into imperialism, to his development of the role of the vanguard party. Lenin and the Bolsheviks were responsible for the October Revolution of 1917, the first time that capitalism was overthrown, and the starting point for all the liberation movements that followed.

The whole argument, if it were taken seriously, would be about the strategy to “divide and conquer”, which has nothing to do with Marxism. Just like Trump, the real-estate mogul and reality-TV star, has nothing Marxist about him. If anything, Trump is the highest embodiment of western capitalism.

Surely among the vast libraries at Harvard there must be a “Marx for dummies” book that Professor Sunstein can read. But of course, writing these disingenuous pieces is much easier. The goal of course is to simultaneously push the RussiaDidIt argument and discredit a true alternative to the (capitalist) system, which has nothing to do with Hillary Clinton and a lot (or everything!) to do with Marx and Lenin.

Black Power and Red Baiting

The final article we wish to examine appeared in The Atlantic magazine, and it focuses on the long history of Russia’s “involvement in America’s race wars”. First of all, for a country with a history of slavery and segregation of African-Americans, not to mention the internment of Japanese-Americans during WW2, the term “race wars” seems like an awful understatement. One thing that actually has not changed is the red-baiting practices of the mainstream media, accusing anyone who deviates from the approved narrative of being a Soviet/Russian agent.

The article explores the history of the Soviet Union taking advantage of racial injustice in the United States for propaganda purposes. How dare those commies bring up the plight of black people in the US? Anyone who knows a bit of history knows that this is not entirely out of place. For example, in the struggle against apartheid, notably in the war in Angola, the US was on the side of apartheid South Africa and the Soviet Union was on the side of the Angolans (and of black South Africans), even if their hand might have been forced by the Cubans.

Soviet posters about the struggle against colonialism: Left: “Capitalism is doomed!” (Artsrunyan, 1966); Right: “People of Africa Will Overpower the Colonizers!” (Kukryniksy, 1960)

There is plenty to be said about the Soviet Union’s foreign policy, but the fact is that there was not a single liberation struggle in the Third World in which the Soviet Union was on the side of the oppressor/colonist and the US on the side of the liberation movement. In fact it is the opposite that was true in most cases, if not all.

This takes us to the crux of the matter. According to historian Mary Dudziak, quoted in this piece,

“Early on in the Cold War, there was a recognition that the U.S. couldn’t lead the world if it was seen as repressing people of color,”

Dudziak and all these analysts and journalists take for granted that the US, and the west in general, are supposed to lead the world. According to them, these issues of treating black people as second class citizens are a problem mainly because they make the US look bad, and its noble mission of spreading freedom and democracy becomes much harder! It would seem that if racism was a little more polite (or if the Soviets did not bring it up!), then the Sandinistas would have been happy with Somoza, the Viet Cong would have had nothing to fight for, etc.

This unquestioned embrace of US exceptionalism, coupled to a complete ignorance of history, is what ensures that these analysts completely miss the point. For them, people rejecting and resisting US imperialism, or rejecting the EU after years of austerity policies, is just a misunderstanding, which needs to be explained by nonsense such as RussiaDidIt. Had these people actually read Marx and Lenin, as opposed to spewing these idiocies, they would understand that backlash against neoliberalism, or resistance against US imperialism, is to be expected. And there is no amount of fancy speeches by the likes of Obama, saying “freedom” and “democracy” in every other sentence, that will fix that.

The loyal flag-bearers of the imperial establishment are outraged at the idea of someone paying $80,000 to US activists, but the US spending tens of millions funding NGOs and political parties all over the world is more than natural. They are outraged that RT reports on Occupy Wall Street or Ferguson, but Voice of America and Radio Martí are supposed to be welcomed by the rest of the world. Because they stand for the better values… Apart from all the death and misery that is caused by US imperialism, it is this belief in American exceptionalism that makes the US so despised around the world.

Finally, we should stress that our argument is not whataboutism. We are not saying that this issue in place X should not be discussed because there is this other issue in the US. Outlets like RT and Sputnik should have their editorial lines and journalism standards analysed and criticised. The same holds true for Russia’s foreign policy. But, paraphrasing someone who was also accused of being a Soviet agent, it cannot be the greatest purveyor of meddling in the world and media outlets with ever lowering standards bringing these charges forward and pretending to be the Guardians of truth.

Notes

(1) We have also written on the ridiculous report published by the CIA, FBI and NSA on the Russian “hacking” of US elections.

(2) One wonders why the EU is symbolised by the Medici paying Leonardo da Vinci or by Erasmus and Thomas More being friends and not, for example, by the bubonic plague or Lucrezia Borgia’s antics. You know what else was common to all of Europe before the EU? The slave trade.

(3) More recently the Guardian published another bombshell piece, saying that Russia’s Facebook posts reached 126 million Americans. But we are talking about 80,000 posts, only 0.004% of news feed content according to Facebook, during a two year period. The big number is perfect for propaganda, but conveniently it is not made clear whether 126m different users saw the posts, or if for example 10m users on average saw 120 of these posts.

(4) We should clarify that exploitation does not mean having an evil boss that pays low salaries and forces workers to work weekends. Workers in capitalism are exploited simply because there is a value difference between what they earn and what they produce. In other words, profit comes from unpaid labour. Exploitation is the foundation of capitalism and should not be framed in moral terms, which imply that the problem is not the system but a matter of finding “good capitalists”.

November 4, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

“Conspiracies don’t happen… here.”

By Kit | OffGuardian | October 29, 2017

The US alphabet agencies recently released some formerly classified files on JFK. There’s nothing much in them, because well… why would there be? Supposing the CIA were complicit, who’s going to release, 50 years after the event, the evidence of their own coup? We haven’t covered it here, at OffG, because it doesn’t really need any attention. It’s a charity dump, a distraction. It allows Trump to look like he’s combating the Deep State, when in fact he’s firmly on the leash. That the CIA or FBI didn’t suddenly produce proof of their complicity in JFK’s assassination is not evidence of anything.

Jonathan Freedland, writing one of his toxic editorials in The Guardian, begs to differ. The fact that the CIA didn’t release any evidence they did it… is evidence they didn’t do it, according to Freedland. His column, long on mockery and self-righteous smears but short on evidence (as usual), does nothing but demonstrate three things:

1. He is only just barely acquainted with the facts of the JFK case.
2. He has no faculty for basic logical thinking.
3. He is not averse to practicing intellectual dishonesty.

If you’ve been paying even the slightest bit of attention, none of these will come as a surprise.

But this article isn’t about JFK – we’ve written about that before, and will do again. But not today. This article isn’t about Freedland’s aggressively uninformed opinions, his cloying prose or his ill-deserved sense of moral superiority. It’s about the world-view he’s trying to market between banner ads begging for money. It’s about his smug insistence that conspiracy theories just don’t happen.

Or, to be more specific, conspiracy theories don’t happen… here.

Because, despite his deep-held belief that Conspiracy Theories are dangerous, he certainly believes in a lot of them. He thinks the Russian Government poisoned Alexander Litvinenko. He thinks Vladimir Putin had Boris Nemstov shot. He thinks Russian banks have been backing the far-right in Europe and supported Brexit. And he thinks the FSB “hacked” the American presidential election in order to get their Manchurian candidate elected.

Buzz in when you spot the connection.

These are all, by definition, conspiracy theories – but they are also all things done by the other. Conspiracies happen over there. They are done by the bad guys. We don’t do them.

…. except of course, when we do.

Two years ago, the idea that the US, Saudi Arabia, Israel and others had created ISIS as front for a proxy war on Syria was dismissed as a “conspiracy theory”. It has since been proven, many times over, to be completely true. That ISIS are US proxies is not a “conspiracy theory”, but a conspiracy fact.

Five years ago, anybody claiming that the NSA were secretly surveilling most of the world, including the governments of allied countries, would have been dismissed as a crazy conspiracy theorist and told to don their “tin-foil hat”. Edward Snowden’s revelations on the NSA internet and communications surveillance programme, of course, prove the accusation true. Freedland should remember this one, the story broke in his paper, his colleagues won awards for it, and their computers were destroyed on the orders of GCHQ. Why this constantly escapes the man’s memory is anyone’s guess. Regardless, NSA mass surveillance is not a “conspiracy theory”, but a conspiracy fact.

Fifteen years ago, anybody claiming that wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were being pushed under false pretences, in order to make money for the private sector and encircle Iran… would have been dismissed as a crazy conspiracy theorist. Now we know that the WMD dossier was “sexed up”. It is not a conspiracy theory, but a conspiracy fact.

Twenty-seven years ago, anybody claiming that “Nayirah” – the Kuwaiti nurse who famously testified that Iraqi soldiers had thrown Kuwaiti babies out of incubators – was actually the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador and had never been a nurse… would have been dismissed as a crazy conspiracy theorist. This information became public knowledge in 1991, just months after her testimony had been used to stoke public support for the first Iraq war. Nayirah being a fake witness to push war propaganda is not a “conspiracy theory”, but a conspiracy fact.

Thirty-two years ago, anybody claiming that Reagan’s government were trading with Iran in order to fund and arm a proxy army in Nicaragua to overthrow the democratic government of Daniel Ortega… would have been dismissed as a crazy conspiracy theorist. However, the whole affair came to light in 1986. Iran-Contra is not a “conspiracy theory”, but a conspiracy fact.

Fifty-three years ago, anyone claiming that Gulf of Tonkin incident had been almost entirely fabricated as an excuse to launch a full-scale war against North Vietnam… would have been dismissed as a crazy conspiracy theorist. There is a mountain of evidence has been compiled since then, that proves the “incident” never really happened. The faking of the Gulf of Tonkin incident is not a “conspiracy theory”, but a conspiracy fact.

These are just six famous, high-profile examples. There are dozens of others. Conspiracies happen. All the time. Freedland’s piece is an attack on this truth, an effort to distort reality by blurring clear definitions. He claims that:

[conspiracy theorists] perennially cast the FBI and the CIA as the key tools of dark, unseen forces.

… without making any reference to decades of state-sanctioned murder, torture and destruction that earned these agencies their well-deserved reputation.

You don’t need to be deluded to think the CIA a tool of “dark forces”, you just need to study the history of Iran. Or Chile. Or Indonesia. Or Afghanistan. Or Honduras. The list of democratic governments overthrown by the US is very long. A lot those plots were considered “conspiracy theories”, until the facts of the case eventually came out.

  • Operation Northwoods was a Pentagon plan to shoot-down an American passenger plane and blame it on Cuba.
  • Operation Paperclip was a CIA plan to smuggle Nazi scientists out of Germany and employ them in covert research for the American government.
  • Operation Mockingbird was a CIA plan to recruit members into of the media into intelligence work, and use them to seed propaganda.

All of these would have, at some point, been dismissed as “conspiracy theory”. They are all, now, accepted historical facts. Freedland mentions none of them. A remarkable act of hypocrisy for a man so adamantly against what he calls the “post truth age”.

Freedland would have us believe that none of these conspiracies, however well documented, actually happened. But there is another kind – the kind that definitely did happen… regardless of the lack evidence.

Now, we turn our eyes to Russia.

Russia, you see, is place where “conspiracy theories” are no longer dangerous. They are always appropriate and universally true. Nothing that happens in Russia is explicable by any means other than “the Kremlin”.

In the media and state-backed push to create a great enemy for our age, there is no crime so petty it cannot be linked to Moscow, no evidence of “Russian interference” so pathetically small it won’t be splashed across the headlines.

On the same pages where Jonathan Freedland espouses the dangers of “conspiracism”, Luke Harding blames the FSB for opening his windows.

Just a few months ago, when a metro station in St Petersburg was bombed, the BBC suggested it was a Putin-backed false-flag within hours. No such assertion was ever made about Las Vegas. Or Westminster. Or Sandy Hook. Or Paris. Or Berlin. Or Orlando.

That the FSB poisoned Litvinenko is treated as an unquestioned fact. That MI5 murdered Princess Diana? Nothing but a laughable absurdity. It is the shallowest, almost childlike propaganda, that beatifies its own side whilst projecting all the ills of the world into the other.

This demonisation of Russia is then segued into demonisation of democracy. The Russians are currently accused of having meddled in every major election for years. The Scottish Independence Referendum, the Brexit vote, the American and French Presidential elections, the general elections in the UK and Germany, and the Dutch referendum on Ukraine. All were subject to phantom “interference”, yet to be substantiated by any real evidence. This groundless accusation is then used as an argument to overturn or ignore the results of democratic votes. Not all of them, you understand, only the ones where the wrong side won. Trump must be “removed” according to Freedland, and we must ignore the Brexit results.

Even Catalonia’s vote for independence, just the latest move in a struggle hundreds of years long, has already been linked to Putin.

Further, Russia is accused of “bankrolling the far-right in Europe”. The evidence for this? Marine Le Pen got a loan from a Russian bank “with links to the Kremlin” (whatever that means)… over ten years ago.

There is FAR more evidence of NATO and EU supporting REAL fascists and extremists – namely Right Sector in Ukraine, and ISIS et al all over the Middle East. But, while the former is an accepted media “fact”, the latter is the subject of nothing but derision.

Even our homegrown problems, through complex absurdities of “conspiracism”, are laid at the Kremlin’s door. In 2015, CNN and others accused Russia of “weaponising the refugee crisis”, as if they had caused it. As if Russia had forced us into the destruction of Libya, and then ordered Merkel to throw open Germany’s borders. Those in Eastern Europe who blamed Germany or the EU, notably Hungary’s President Viktor Orban, were said to be “friends of Putin”. As if the epithet is an argument in and of itself.

Putin and Russia have become Snowball from Orwell’s Animal Farm. An invisible but ever-present creation of the state, responsible for all our ills. And if Putin is Snowball, then Freedland, and all the media-types like him, are Squealer. Oily charlatans who twist language to suit their needs, and the needs of their employers.

If “conspiracy theories are dangerous”, then how dangerous is it to use ridiculous allegations to undermine democracy? If Conspiracy Theories damage society, why clamp-down on honest debate by dismissing all those who disagree as “Putin-bots”? If Conspiracy Theories are so offensive, why use them to vilify Russia, and stoke up public hatred of a nuclear armed superpower?

The author’s real point is quite clear – it’s not all conspiracy theories which are “dangerous”. Only Conspiracy Theories that investigate, undermine, or otherwise question the governments, institutions or agendas of Western countries are “dangerous”.

Our governments do no wrong, are benign and honest. To question that is dangerous. Their governments are malign and dishonest. To question them is a duty.

It is nothing but a long, drawn-out, argument for conformity of opinion and deadness of mind. An attack on independent thought, peppered with abuse.

First he describes “Conspiracy Theorists” as:

harmless potting-shed eccentrics, green-ink cranks whose tightly spaced letters could once safely be filed in the dustbin.

… before adding:

you might have dismissed such talk as the derangement of the bug-eyed, irrelevant fringe,

And then finally playing the anti-Semitism card:

so many conspiracy theorists… end up reaching the terminus of antisemitism. For antisemitism is itself often rooted in conspiracy theory: the belief that the secret hand behind world events, manipulating each and every development, belongs to the Rothschilds or George Soros or, when no euphemism is required, the Jews.

A baseless, childish ad hominem, that makes so little sense it contradicts his own last paragraph, and shows up his quasi-delusional mindset:

On Thursday we learned that 1,500 billionaires have now amassed $6tn of wealth, a level of inequality not seen since the Gilded Age. That’s not come about because of a secret meeting in an underground boardroom, but because of a system that is fatally flawed.

I don’t follow his argument, “don’t talk about conspiracies when we’ve got all these billionaires to worry about” doesn’t make any sense to me. It seems he’s created some new kind of logical fallacy, the argument to inequality, a derivation of “think of the children”. It’s an odd chord for Freedland to strike, and is probably a rather desperate attempt to seem “hip” to the current issues. He certainly never wrote about the perils of inequality before Corbyn-mania swept the country.

Regardless of the source of Freedland’s sudden Bolshevik leanings, he contradicts himself – and in so doing paints a picture of an insane world. He doesn’t acknowledge that two of these billionaires – Soros and the Rothschilds – he has already named as nothing but a “euphemism” for anti-Semitism.

So which is it, Jonathan? Are wealthy people the problem? Or is criticising the super-rich merely a mask for racism? Why is it acceptable to cite “inequality” as a threat to the world, but crazy to blame the main beneficiaries of said inequality?

Freedland wants us to believe we live in a world where a tiny percentage of the population control vast fortunes, but wield no political power. He decries the “flawed system”, but refuses to acknowledge that corruption or conspiracy has played any part in creating it. That is insane at best, and dishonest at worst.

He doesn’t acknowledge the unavoidable truth that super-wealthy people will wield influence over government policy. From arms-sales, to tax loop-holes, to the push to privatise the NHS, to the war in Iraq… there are dozens of examples of political power being used to further the agenda of the rich.

Hyper-wealthy individuals exerting influence over elected officials and using military and intelligence apparatus to further undeclared political agendas, is the very definition of a conspiracy theory. And it happens every single day.

If we are indeed living in the “post-truth age”, then it is not because of Donald Trump. Or Facebook. Or Russia Today.

It is because of dishonest journalism such as you’ll find in the Guardian, or the New York Times, or Buzzfeed. Because Jonathan Freedland, and his ilk, have stopped trying to hold power to account, and instead act as spokespeople for authority. Official heralds, handing down to the proles a pre-approved consensus and an a la carte menu of opinion. Labelling as “dangerous” ANY questioning of a government organisation with a proven track-record of illegal operations, whilst constantly stoking public fear of the mythic “Russian influence”. Conjuring an entirely fictional enemy from smoke and gossip, whilst throwing real crimes against humanity down the memory hole.

Freedland’s article, and all others like it, are an attack on reason itself. Denying our ability, and even our right, to question the motives and actions of the powerful, whilst asserting the moral rectitude of blind obedience. The Guardian is engaging in cultural policing, enforcing the unquestioned morality of the state and the system, at the expense of critical thinking and truth.

The Reichstag Fire was a conspiracy too. The state that rose from its ashes was only able to cover up its crimes thanks to rigid programmes of state-sponsored propaganda…faithfully carried out by a compliant and controlled media.

October 29, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Guardian Sells False Image of an Open Jerusalem

By Jonathan Cook | Dissident Voice | October 23, 2017

A Guardian essay on a new Israeli open-rooftops project in Jerusalem, part of a Season of Culture, sadly falls into a standard trap for feelgood articles of this kind. It fails to provide the main context for Jerusalem: that the native Palestinians live under a belligerent Israeli occupation that is ultimately trying to evict them from the city.

Ignoring that context when reporting on life for Jews and Palestinians in Jerusalem is gravely irresponsible journalism.

Does this misrepresentation simply reflect author Hannah Ellis-Petersen’s ignorance? Or is it a consequence of who is footing the bill: the Rockefeller Foundation sponsored the article.

Note these infuriatingly misleading introductory paragraphs:

For its Season of Culture, the ancient capital has thrown open its rooftops to encourage residents to see beyond their blinkered boundaries. But the reality is a city where the divides are growing deeper.

The standfirst sets the mendacious “balanced” tone, as though Palestinians could ever afford the luxury of choosing to be “blinkered” in a city where the Israeli-run, occupation municipality is openly hostile to them, and where their homes can be demolished for the smallest infraction of opaque, Israeli-imposed planning rules.

The city’s divides are not “growing deeper”. They were always deep in a city where the occupying power has sought for five decades to colonise Palestinian East Jerusalem with Jewish settlers. There are now more than 200,000 of these settlers gradually displacing the native Palestinian population.

Living side by side in Jerusalem are communities who exist with no interaction with one another – kept apart by fear, nationalism and religion.

No, that is not what keeps them apart. Just imagine an article on apartheid South Africa stating that whites and blacks had no interaction because they were “kept apart by fear, nationalism and religion”. In reality, the two populations were kept apart by the colour of their skin. For blacks under apartheid, and today for Palestinians under occupation, their inferior status is dictated to them. They have no say in the matter.

Palestinians and Israelis are kept apart by the structural violence of occupation, which confers on them entirely different rights and life choices. Jews in Jerusalem have Israeli citizenship; Palestinians have a residency that Israel can easily revoke. Potentially, Jews can live almost anywhere in the city; Palestinians are confined to ghettoes, where they are being suffocated of space and services to encourage them to leave.

Israel has even built a wall cutting some Palestinian neighbourhoods off from the rest of East Jerusalem and the services they pay for through their municipal taxes. They do not live apart because of fear, nationalism or religion. They have been cut off from family, friends and services by concrete walls and armed checkpoints.

While Israelis typically live in the west and Palestinians in the east of Jerusalem, mixed neighbourhoods do exist. In the winding alleys of the old city and the streets of downtown, the diverse inhabitants peacefully cross paths every day.

“Mixed neighbourhoods”? Is the author referring to Jewish settlers who have forcibly taken over Palestinian properties in areas of occupied East Jerusalem like the Old City, Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah in violation of international law and have then turned their apartment blocs into armed compounds? Is that her idea of “paths crossing peacefully” – that Palestinians must live submissively, in terror of armed Jewish interlopers?

What’s more, the only rooftops of Palestinians that were made accessible are in the old city; there are none in east Jerusalem. … The project traces a line across a divided city via its rooftops. And the stories of the volunteers who have opened their homes to strangers, regardless of ethnicity or creed, speak to a multi-layered Jerusalem, one rarely seen in a conflict-obsessed news cycle: a colourful, fractious and potent city.

Is it really a failure of the news cycle that it wishes to highlight “conflict” rather than accentuate the supposed rough-and-tumble co-existence proposed by this article, and achieved after Israel illegally annexed East Jerusalem?

Israel professes to have created an “eternal, united capital” of Jerusalem, but nothing could be further from the truth. We don’t need from the media less of an obsession with “conflict”. We need greater honesty from them about Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and the harsh reality of a Jewish settler colonial society slowly disappearing the natives.

Only the gullible or dishonest could believe that opening rooftops in the privileged, Jewish side of the city challenges or mitigates the ugliness of what is going on on the other side of Jerusalem, for Palestinians.

October 24, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Clinton, Assange and the War on Truth

By John Pilger | CounterPunch | October 20, 2017

On 16 October, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation aired an interview with Hillary Clinton: one of many to promote her score-settling book about why she was not elected President of the United States.

Wading through the Clinton book, What Happened, is an unpleasant experience, like a stomach upset. Smears and tears. Threats and enemies. “They” (voters) were brainwashed and herded against her by the odious Donald Trump in cahoots with sinister Slavs sent from the great darkness known as Russia, assisted by an Australian “nihilist”, Julian Assange.

In The New York Times, there was a striking photograph of a female reporter consoling Clinton, having just interviewed her. The lost leader was, above all, “absolutely a feminist”. The thousands of women’s lives this “feminist” destroyed while in government — Libya, Syria, Honduras — were of no interest.

In New York magazine, Rebecca Traister wrote that Clinton was finally “expressing some righteous anger”. It was even hard for her to smile: “so hard that the muscles in her face ache”. Surely, she concluded, “if we allowed women’s resentments the same bearing we allow men’s grudges, America would be forced to reckon with the fact that all these angry women might just have a point”.

Drivel such as this, trivialising women’s struggles, marks the media hagiographies of Hillary Clinton. Her political extremism and warmongering are of no consequence. Her problem, wrote Traister, was a “damaging infatuation with the email story”. The truth, in other words.

The leaked emails of Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta, revealed a direct connection between Clinton and the foundation and funding of organised jihadism in the Middle East and Islamic State (IS). The ultimate source of most Islamic terrorism, Saudi Arabia, was central to her career.

One email, in 2014, sent by Clinton to Podesta soon after she stepped down as US Secretary of State, discloses that Islamic State is funded by the governments of Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Clinton accepted huge donations from both governments for the Clinton Foundation.

As Secretary of State, she approved the world’s biggest ever arms sale to her benefactors in Saudi Arabia, worth more than $80 billion. Thanks to her, US arms sales to the world – for use in stricken countries like Yemen – doubled.

This was revealed by WikiLeaks and published by The New York Times. No one doubts the emails are authentic. The subsequent campaign to smear WikiLeaks and its editor-in-chief, Julian Assange, as “agents of Russia”, has grown into a spectacular fantasy known as “Russiagate”. The “plot” is said to have been signed off by Vladimir Putin himself.  There is not a shred of evidence.

The ABC Australia interview with Clinton is an outstanding example of smear and censorship by omission. I would say it is a model.

“No one,” the interviewer, Sarah Ferguson, says to Clinton, “could fail to be moved by the pain on your face at that moment [of the inauguration of Trump] … Do you remember how visceral it was for you?”

Having established Clinton’s visceral suffering, Ferguson asks about “Russia’s role”.

CLINTON: I think Russia affected the perceptions and views of millions of voters, we now know. I think that their intention coming from the very top with Putin was to hurt me and to help Trump.

FERGUSON: How much of that was a personal vendetta by Vladimir Putin against you?

CLINTON: … I mean he wants to destabilise democracy. He wants to undermine America, he wants to go after the Atlantic Alliance and we consider Australia kind of a … an extension of that …

The opposite is true. It is Western armies that are massing on Russia’s border for the first time since the Russian Revolution 100 years ago.

FERGUSON: How much damage did [Julian Assange] do personally to you?

CLINTON: Well, I had a lot of history with him because I was Secretary of State when ah WikiLeaks published a lot of very sensitive ah information from our State Department and our Defence Department.

What Clinton fails to say – and her interviewer fails to remind her — is that in 2010, WikiLeaks revealed that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had ordered a secret intelligence campaign targeted at the United Nations leadership, including the Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon and the permanent Security Council representatives from China, Russia, France and the UK.

A classified directive, signed by Clinton, was issued to US diplomats in July 2009, demanding forensic technical details about the communications systems used by top UN officials, including passwords and personal encryption keys used in private and commercial networks.

This was known as Cablegate. It was lawless spying.

CLINTON:  He [Assange] is very clearly a tool of Russian intelligence. And ah, he has done their bidding.

Clinton offered no evidence to back up this serious accusation, nor did Ferguson challenge her.

CLINTON: You don’t see damaging negative information coming out about the Kremlin on WikiLeaks. You didn’t see any of that published.

This was false. WikiLeaks has published a massive number of documents on Russia – more than 800,000, most of them critical, many of them used in books and as evidence in court cases.

CLINTON:  So I think Assange has become a kind of nihilistic opportunist who does the bidding of a dictator.

FERGUSON:  Lots of people, including in Australia, think that Assange is a martyr for free speech and freedom of information. How would you describe him? Well, you’ve just described him as a nihilist.

CLINTON:  Yeah, well, and a tool. I mean he’s a tool of Russian intelligence. And if he’s such a, you know, martyr of free speech, why doesn’t WikiLeaks ever publish anything coming out of Russia?

Again, Ferguson said nothing to challenge this or correct her.

CLINTON: There was a concerted operation between WikiLeaks and Russia and most likely people in the United States to weaponise that information, to make up stories … to help Trump.

FERGUSON: Now, along with some of those outlandish stories, there was information that was revealed about the Clinton Foundation that at least in some of the voters’ minds seemed to associate you ….

CLINTON: Yeah, but it was false!

FERGUSON: … with the peddling of information …

CLINTON: It was false! It was totally false!  …..

FERGUSON: Do you understand how difficult it was for some voters to understand the amounts of money that the [Clinton] Foundation is raising, the confusion with the consultancy that was also raising money, getting gifts and travel and so on for Bill Clinton that even Chelsea had some issues with? …

CLINTON: Well you know, I’m sorry, Sarah, I mean I, I know the facts ….

The ABC interviewer lauded Clinton as “the icon of your generation”. She asked her nothing about the enormous sums she creamed off from Wall Street, such as the $675,000 she received for one speech at Goldman Sachs, one of the banks at the centre of the 2008 crash. Clinton’s greed deeply upset the kind of voters she abused as “deplorables”.

Clearly looking for a cheap headline in the Australian press, Ferguson asked her if Trump was “a clear and present danger to Australia” and got her predictable response.

This high-profile journalist made no mention of Clinton’s own “clear and present danger” to the people of Iran whom she once threatened to “obliterate totally”, and the 40,000 Libyans who died in the attack on Libya in 2011 that Clinton orchestrated. Flushed with excitement, the Secretary of State rejoiced at the gruesome murder of the Libyan leader, Colonel Gaddafi.

“Libya was Hillary Clinton’s war”, Julian Assange said in a filmed interview with me last year. “Barack Obama initially opposed it. Who was the person championing it?  Hillary Clinton. That’s documented throughout her emails … there’s more than 1700 emails out of the 33,000 Hillary Clinton emails that we’ve published, just about Libya. It’s not that Libya has cheap oil. She perceived the removal of Gaddafi and the overthrow of the Libyan state — something that she would use in her run-up to the general election for President.

“So in late 2011 there is an internal document called the Libya Tick Tock  that was produced for Hillary Clinton, and it’s the chronological description of how she was the central figure in the destruction of the Libyan state, which resulted in around 40,000 deaths within Libya; jihadists moved in, ISIS moved in, leading to the European refugee and migrant crisis.

“Not only did you have people fleeing Libya, people fleeing Syria, the destabilisation of other African countries as a result of arms flows, but the Libyan state itself was no longer able to control the movement of people through it.”

This – not Clinton’s “visceral” pain in losing to Trump nor the rest of the self-serving scuttlebutt in her ABC interview  — was the story. Clinton shared responsibility for massively de-stabilising the Middle East, which led to the death, suffering and flight of thousands of women, men and children.

Ferguson raised not a word of it. Clinton repeatedly defamed Assange, who was neither defended nor offered a right of reply on his own country’s state broadcaster.

In a tweet from London, Assange cited the ABC’s own Code of Practice, which states: “Where allegations are made about a person or organisation, make reasonable efforts in the circumstances to provide a fair opportunity to respond.”

Following the ABC broadcast, Ferguson’s  executive producer, Sally Neighbour, re-tweeted the following: “Assange is Putin’s bitch. We all know it!”

The slander, since deleted, was even used as a link to the ABC interview captioned ‘Assange is Putins (sic) b****. We all know it!’

In the years I have known Julian Assange, I have watched a vituperative personal campaign try to stop him and WikiLeaks. It has been a frontal assault on whistleblowing, on free speech and free journalism, all of which are now under sustained attack from governments and corporate internet controllers.

The first serious attacks on Assange came from the Guardian which, like a spurned lover, turned on its besieged former source, having hugely profited from WikiLeaks’ disclosures. With not a penny going to Assange or WikiLeaks, a Guardian book led to a lucrative Hollywood movie deal. Assange was portrayed as “callous” and a “damaged personality”.

It was as if a rampant jealousy could not accept that his remarkable achievements stood in marked contrast to that of his detractors in the “mainstream” media. It is like watching the guardians of the status quo, regardless of age, struggling to silence real dissent and prevent the emergence of the new and hopeful.

Today, Assange remains a political refugee from the war-making dark state of which Donald Trump is a caricature and Hillary Clinton the embodiment. His resilience and courage are astonishing. Unlike him, his tormentors are cowards.

October 20, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Guardian Exposed – Conning Public into Financing “Independent Journalism”

21st Century Wire | October 9, 2017

On the 21st of September The Guardian put out a funding campaign on Twitter. It explained that if we wanted to “help secure the future of progressive, independent journalism” we should donate £5 per month to shore up The Guardian’s resources. We should do this because The Guardian, according to The Guardian, offers us “quality, investigative journalism”.

The Guardian, according to their advertisment, “holds power to account”,  and that “takes time, money and hard work”. Apparently, a very nifty graph tells us that more people than ever are reading The Guardian but advertising revenue is tumbling. The Guardian needs our support to keep their journalism “open to everyone”. When “others stretch the truth”, the Guardian doesn’t “distort facts”. We are urged to “defend independent journalism”. At The Guardian “no billionaire owner pulls the strings” and “noone edits their editor”. Now is the time to act, support The Guardian for a fiver a month.

The Tweet is here and below you will find the huge number of replies, pretty much all saying a big, very fat NO!

Almost in response to the funding request from The Guardian, the following article appeared in Medialens today:

“The corporate media have swiftly moved on from Peter Oborne’s resignation as chief political commentator at the Telegraph and his revelations that the paper had committed ‘a form of fraud’ on its readers over its coverage of HSBC tax evasion.

But investigative journalist Nafeez Ahmed has delved deeper into the HSBC scandal, reporting the testimony of a whistleblower that reveals a ‘conspiracy of silence’ encompassing the media, regulators and law-enforcement agencies. Not least, Ahmed’s work exposes the vanity of the Guardian’s boast to be the world’s ‘leading liberal voice’.

Last month, the corporate media, with one notable exception, devoted extensive coverage to the news that the Swiss banking arm of HSBC had been engaged in massive fraudulent tax evasion. The exception was the Telegraph which, as Oborne revealed, was desperate to retain advertising income from HSBC.

But now Ahmed reports another ‘far worse case of HSBC fraud totalling an estimated £1 billion, closer to home’. Moreover, it has gone virtually unnoticed by the corporate media, for all the usual reasons.

According to whistleblower Nicholas Wilson, HSBC was ‘involved in a fraudulent scheme to illegally overcharge British shoppers in arrears for debt on store cards at leading British high-street retailers’ including B&Q, Dixons, Currys, PC World and John Lewis. Up to 600,000 Britons were defrauded.

Wilson uncovered the crimes while he was head of debt recovery for Weightmans, a firm of solicitors acting on behalf of John Lewis. But when he blew the whistle, his employer sacked him. He has spent 12 years trying to expose this HSBC fraud and to help obtain justice for the victims. The battle has ‘ruined his life’, he said during a brief appearance on the BBC’s The Big Questions, the only ‘mainstream’ coverage to date.

Ahmed writes that the ‘most disturbing’ aspect of ‘HSBC’s fraud against British consumers’ is that it ‘has been systematically ignored by the entire British press’.

He adds:

‘In some cases, purportedly brave investigative journalism outfits have spent months investigating the story, preparing multiple drafts, before inexplicably spiking publication without reason.’

Examples include BBC Panorama, BBC Newsnight, BBC Moneybox, BBC Radio 5 Live, the Guardian, Private Eye and the Sunday Times.

The Sunday Times is the most recent example. A couple of weeks ago, the paper had a big exposé on the HSBC consumer credit fraud ready to go. But it was ‘inexplicably dropped’ at the last minute. Ahmed writes:

HSBC happens to be the main sponsor of a series of Sunday Times league tables published for FastTrack 100 Ltd., a “networking events company.” The bank is the “title sponsor” of The Sunday Times HSBC Top Track 100, has been “title sponsor of The Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 for all 6 years” and was previously “title sponsor of The Sunday Times Top Track 250 for 7 years.”

Ahmed reports that the Sunday Times journalist preparing the spiked story did not respond to a query asking for an explanation.

THE WORLD’S ‘LEADING LIBERAL VOICE’… LOSES ITS VOICE

But surely the Guardian would go where other papers fear to tread? After all, says Ahmed, the paper:

loudly and triumphantly congratulated itself for reporting on the HSBC Swiss bank scandal despite the bank putting its advertising relationship with the newspaper “on pause.” Yet the newspaper has refused to cover Wilson’s story exposing HSBC fraud in Britain. Why?

Perhaps there is no definitive answer to that question. But as Ahmed points out, the Guardian just ‘happens to be the biggest recipient of HSBC advertising revenue: bigger even than the Telegraph‘, which is ‘something you won’t read in the Guardian’. The Guardian’s ‘partnership’ with HSBC even helped fund the paper’s crucial move into the US market, according to the Guardian Media Group’s financial report last year.

However, the Guardian’s links with HSBC go beyond advertising and extend to the very corporate structure of the newspaper. As Media Lens noted when we wrote about Nafeez Ahmed’s sacking from the Guardian last December, the paper’s journalistic freedom is supposedly secured under the auspices of Scott Trust Limited, the company that replaced the much-vaunted Scott Trust in 2008. We added:

The paper, therefore, might not at first sight appear to be a corporate institution. But the paper is owned by the Guardian Media Group which is run by a high-powered Board comprising elite, well-connected people from the worlds of banking, insurance, advertising… and other sectors of big business, finance and industry.

Ahmed has done further extensive digging, revealing, in particular, the Guardian’s specific corporate ties with HSBC, past and present. For instance, the chair of the Scott Trust Ltd board is Dame Liz Forgan. She has links with St Giles Trust and the British Museum, two institutions that are ‘sponsored’ by HSBC.

Consider, too, Anthony Salz who sits alongside Forgan on Scott Trust Ltd. He is a senior investment banker and executive vice chairman of Rothschild, and a director at NM Rothschild and Sons. Salz was previously a corporate lawyer with Freshfields, a member of the ‘Magic Circle’ of elite British law firms. HSBC is one of Freshfield’s most prominent long-term clients.

Philip Tranter is another board member of Scott Trust Ltd. He is a former partner and head of corporate law at Boyes Turner. HSBC is one of their clients.

As well as past and present relationships with HSBC, there are also wider connections between Scott Trust Ltd board members and elite corporate and financial circles. For example, Jonathan Scott is chairman of Ambac Assurance UK, and a former director at KPMG Corporate Finance. Ambac was ‘at the heart of the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis, and was implicated in fraud to save its skin as the crisis kicked off’.

Andrew Miller, another board member, was chief financial officer of Autotrader publisher, Trader Media Group. Until early last year, TMG was jointly owned by the Guardian Media Group and the giant private equity firm, Apax Partners. One early director of an Apax Fund, David Staples, is now a director of HSBC Private Bank Ltd. When the Guardian Media Group sold its 50.1% stake in TMG, one of the firms that provided advice for the sale was Anthony Salz’s former firm, Freshfields. Freshfields also advised HSBC over a government inquiry into competition in the banking sector last year.

And so it goes on… and on. Far from being some kind of benign charitable operation, the Guardian newspaper is deeply embedded in elite networks of corporate and financial muscle.

Ahmed notes the consequences of all this for Guardian journalism. The company board members running the newspaper:

must juggle the task of operating the Guardian “as a profit-seeking enterprise,” while securing its “financial and editorial independence” — goals that as the HSBC case illustrates, are ultimately mutually incompatible.

He summarises Nicholas Wilson’s revelations on HSBC fraud in Britain as ‘the worst and largest single case of banking fraud to have ever emerged in this country. They make the Swiss leaks case look like peanuts.’

And yet the fraud has been entirely ignored by the ‘free press’. Our searches of the Lexis newspaper database yield not a single article. In particular, there has been no corporate media response to Ahmed’s careful investigative journalism since his article was published in March. ‘Even’ the Guardian, the supposed ‘flagship’ of liberal journalism, has looked away.

We would challenge Alan Rusbridger, the outgoing Guardian editor-in-chief (he will replace Forgan as the chair of the Scott Trust Ltd in 2016). But he hasn’t responded to our emails for years and he has long blocked us on Twitter. Perhaps this is because he finally tired of us highlighting examples of his paper’s propaganda role as a ‘guardian of power’. The last straw for Rusbridger appeared to follow our exposure of the paper’s dishonest attempts to smear Noam Chomsky in 2005.

However, when one of our readers challenged Rusbridger this week that he felt ‘conned’ that the Guardian is actually owned by a company and not a trust, Rusbridger did reply – although rather evasively:

It looks, swims, quacks and acts like a Trust. But, no, it’s not a charity. Nor does it hv anytg to do w HSBC

‘Nor does it have anything to do with HSBC’? To put it kindly, it would appear that the Guardian editor-in-chief is ignorant of the HSBC links of his fellow company board members, as spelled out in Ahmed’s piece.

Ahmed himself then directly challenged Rusbridger via Twitter:

‘.@arusbridger great that guardian covered #SwissLeaks. Why ignore bigger story of £1bn #HSBC fraud in UK? https://medium.com/@NafeezAhmed/death-drugs-and-hsbc-355ed9ef5316

At the time of writing, Rusbridger has not responded.”

October 9, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | | 2 Comments

The problem with modern “journalism” summed up in one story

By Kit | OffGuardian | October 1, 2107

That a protest Facebook/twitter account focusing on the mistreatment of black people by American police was actually a fake account run by Russians to make the US look bad and spread division in the West… is one hell of a claim. If you were to make it, you’d probably be expected to supply evidence to back up your accusation. That’s only reasonable.

Well, CNN don’t feel the need. Two days ago they reported this story verbatim, here. Under the headline:

Exclusive: Fake black activist accounts linked to Russian government

Now, the headline doesn’t say HOW these accounts were linked to Russia, or indeed who linked them. But that’s OK, because neither does the body of the text. There’s not a single link, source or piece of evidence cited at all. The only basis for the claim is:

two sources with knowledge of the matter told CNN

That’s it. In total. They never say who these two sources are (leaving the very real possibility they don’t even exist), they never say what their supposed “knowledge of the situation” is. They tell us nothing of any note, and have the gall to put “exclusive” in the headline.

“Some guy said so” is NOT an exclusive.

The Guardian then took this one step further down the path of insanity – they reported that CNN had reported, that 2 guys told them something. Their headline…

Did Russia fake black activism on Facebook to sow division in the US?

… at least has the decency to use a question-mark, although none of that implied doubt makes into the body of the article. They don’t mention that CNN never provided any evidence of this claim, or CNN’s anonymous sources. Instead they choose to focus on whether or not it sounds plausible. After providing soundbites from professors who study “Russian interference in elections”, and referencing the Soviet Union’s supposed support of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, they decide that it does sound plausible. And since it’s plausible… it’s probably true. Right?

No reference to the keystone questions of journalism – who, when, where, why, how. No reference to evidence or sources, or agendas. Just a vague analysis of the plausibility of a rumor started by CNN on the basis of two anonymous sources with “knowledge of the situation”. This is the modern method of spreading propaganda – through a concerted effort of repetition without evidence, you can turn a lie into a “fact”.

That is the cancerous absurdity of today’s “journalism” in a nutshell.

October 1, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | 6 Comments

Provisional Arctic Sea Ice Minimum

By Paul Homewood | Not A Lot Of People Know That | September 16, 2017

It’s now looking pretty certain that Arctic sea ice extent has passed its minimum this year. Since Tuesday, it has climbed over three days by 75,000 sq km, according to NSIDC figures:

2017 9 1 4.758
2017 9 2 4.791
2017 9 3 4.801
2017 9 4 4.782
2017 9 5 4.723
2017 9 6 4.643
2017 9 7 4.635
2017 9 8 4.697
2017 9 9 4.641
2017 9 10 4.628
2017 9 11 4.646
2017 9 12 4.611
2017 9 13 4.651
2017 9 14 4.651
2017 9 15 4.686

http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/

Provisionally that would make it the 4th highest since 2007.

image

The ice does not appear to be thin and slushy, as we are often told. According to DMI, much of it is 2 meters or more thick.

CICE_combine_thick_SM_EN_20170910

http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/icethickness/thk.uk.php

Pen Hadow’s abortive sailing expedition, now safely back in harbour in Nome, certainly ran up against unexpectedly thick and extensive ice 600 miles from the Pole, before being forced to turn tail.

arcticsailors.jpg

It is far too soon to draw any conclusions about what this means for Arctic sea ice in future years.

But there is certainly nothing to support the wild claims of an Arctic death spiral, that we have been fed over the years.

The climate clown, Prof Peter Wadhams, seems to have kept his head down this year after his own succession of ludicrous claims, like this one last year.

image

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/21/arctic-will-be-ice-free-in-summer-next-year

September 16, 2017 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | , | Leave a comment

Cambodia’s US-Backed Opposition Leader Charged With Treason

By Joseph Thomas – New Eastern Outlook – 04.09.2017

US and European media decried in unison the arrest of Kem Sokha, leader of the Cambodian opposition party, Cambodia National Rescue. Sokha is charged with treason amid an alleged plot to overthrow the current Cambodian government with foreign assistance.

The Guardian in its article, “Cambodia’s strongman PM digs in with arrest of opposition leader,” would report:

The Cambodian opposition leader, Kem Sokha, has been arrested accused of treason, according to the government, in the latest of a flurry of legal cases lodged against critics and rivals of the strongman prime minister, Hun Sen.

The surprise arrest raises the stakes as Hun Sen’s political opponents, NGOs and the critical press are smothered by court cases and threats ahead of a crunch general election in 2018.

The Guardian would also note:

On Saturday night a pro-government website – Fresh News – alleged that Kem Sokha had discussed overthrowing Hun Sen with support from the United States.

The Guardian would conclude by stating:

Last week the US expressed “deep concern” over the state of Cambodia’s democracy after the government there ordered out an American NGO and pursued a crackdown on independent media.

Among the media in the firing line is the well-respected Cambodia Daily, which often criticises the government.

It faces closure on Monday if it fails to pay a US$6.3m tax bill, a threat it says is a political move to muzzle its critical reporting.

The Guardian fails to mention that the Cambodia Daily is owned by an American and that the “American NGO” ordered out of Cambodia was the National Democratic Institute (NDI), an organisation notorious for its role in subverting and overthrowing the governments of sovereign nations.

The Guardian and other American and European media platforms have collectively failed to dive into Kem Sokha’s background. Had they, charges of treason would seem less far fetched and contrived as they have been presented to the public.

Kem Sokha, Made in America 

Before taking to politics, Kem Sokha founded a US-European funded front posing as an independent nongovernmental organisation called the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR).

CCHR on its webpage titled, “History,” states:

Human rights activist Kem Sokha launched and registered CCHR in November 2002. In December 2005 he was arrested and detained with others activists accused of criminal defamation for comments written by an unknown individual on banners displayed at Human Rights Day celebrations. The activists were released following international pressure and a campaign for freedom of expression led by CCHR’s then Advocacy Director, Ou Virak. In early 2007 Kem Sokha left CCHR to pursue a career in politics.

On a page titled “Welcome Message,” CCHR claims to be:

… a leading non-aligned, independent, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect democracy and respect for human rights – primarily civil and political rights – in Cambodia. We empower civil society to claim its rights and drive change; and through detailed research and analysis we develop innovative policy, and advocate for its implementation.

Yet, according to its own financial disclosures, there is nothing “independent” or “non-aligned” about the organisation.

On its webpage titled, “Donors and Partners,” it lists the Australian and British embassies, the US State Department, the European Union, USAID, Freedom House and Open Society among many other foreign government-funded and corporate-funded foundations as its financial sponsors.

Under “Affiliations and Cooperation,” it lists Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Article 19 along with many other primarily US and European-based, organised and funded fronts that leverage human rights advocacy in pursuit of politically-motivated agendas.

Ironically, on this same page, activists are shown demanding the release of then-imprisoned Myanmar politician Aung San Suu Kyi who has recently run afoul with advocacy groups due to her role in ongoing genocide against that nation’s Rohingya minority.

CCHR is clearly not “independent” if it is in fact dependent entirely on US and European cash to operate. Nor is it “non-aligned” if it is clearly aligned unequivocally with US and European-led interference across Southeast Asia through fronts they collectively fund to undermine one government in favour of another.

Since taking to politics, Kem Sokha and his opposition party have regularly met with the sponsors of CCHR, including the US Secretary of State John Kerry in 2016.

The aforementioned American-owned Cambodia Daily would report in a 2016 article titled, “Kerry to Meet With Civil Society, CNRP in Visit,” that:

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet with the CNRP and at least one NGO leader when he visits Phnom Penh next week, in addition to Prime Minister Hun Sen and Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong, as was previously announced.

Kem Monovithya, a spokeswoman for the CNRP and the daughter of CNRP Vice President Kem Sokha, said Mr. Sokha planned to meet with Mr. Kerry, although she declined to give further information.

The director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, Chak Sopheap, also said she would meet with Mr. Kerry in a meeting she described as being facilitated by the U.S. Embassy.

The Cambodia Daily would also quote Sopheap, who openly desired the US to pressure her own government in regards to political changes she and her organisation sought:

“I especially wish to inform Secretary Kerry about civil society’s grave concerns regarding the draft trade union law, the proposed cyber crime law, and the implementation of the LANGO,” Ms. Sopheap wrote in an email, adding that she hoped Mr. Kerry would continue to “apply diplomatic pressure” during the U.S.-Asean summit in California next month.

Diplomats meeting with and supporting opposition groups in a host state constitutes clear interference in the host state’s internal political affairs and is beyond the scope of legitimate diplomatic relations.

Those in the opposition hosting foreign diplomats and accepting assistance are clearly engaged in what Merriam Webster defines as treason: “the offense of attempting by overt acts to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance…”

US Interference Poses Direct Threat to National Security 

This sort of support provided by the United States in Cambodia has in other nations resulted in the usurpation of governments and even war. Examples include Ukraine, Libya, Syria and Yemen.

The nation of Myanmar is also currently led by a political party propelled into power by extensive US and European support provided over a period of decades.

In neighbouring Thailand, US support for opposition groups has resulted in a protracted political conflict, recently culminating in the fleeing abroad of ousted ex-prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Continued US support for Shinawatra and opposition networks will likely lead to further conflict in the near future.

Current Cambodian prime minister, Hun Sen, has repeatedly noted the threat to national security such foreign interference poses.

The Phnom Penh Post, in a 2016 article titled, “US policy destabilised Middle East, says Hun Sen,” stated:

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday lauded his own government’s efforts of bringing “peace” to Cambodia without “foreign interference” while calling out the US for destabilising the Middle East, where he said American policy had given rise to destructive “colour revolutions”.

The article would also report:

“Please look at the Middle East after there was inteference by foreigners to create colour revolutions such as in Libya, Syria, Yemen, Egypt and Iraq, where Sadam Hussein was toppled by the US,” the premier said.

“Have those countries received any achievement under the terms of democracy and human rights? From day to day, thousands of people have been killed. This is the result of doing wrong politics, and America is wrong.”

Considering this, the facts regarding Cambodia’s opposition and its ties to US and European interests, it should come as no surprise that foreign-funded organisations posing as NGOs are being shuttered and opposition leaders openly colluding with foreign interests are being arrested for treason.

Cambodia’s style of dealing with what is overt foreign interference lacks subtly, diplomacy and discretion. However, Phnom Penh may calculate that strengthening ties with other nations fighting off foreign interference in the region and its growing political and economic ties with Beijing may be enough to prepare Cambodia for any measures the US and Europe take in retaliation to uprooting their networks.

If left unchecked, the millions of dollars in US and European money and assistance provided to Cambodia’s opposition will continue allowing it to build its capacity to manipulate and win elections. While the opposition will cite election victories as the foundation of its growing legitimacy, the fact that these victories come as a result of foreign sponsorship, on behalf of foreign interests, undermines the opposition’s legitimacy entirely.

Democracy as a means of self-determination does not exist in a system manipulated by foreign interests. In fact, a process infected by foreign interference is fundamentally undemocratic. … Full article

September 4, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | 1 Comment