Aletho News


Orthodoxy, Heresy, and Hypocrisy

By Michael Smith | Legalienate | June 2, 2014

“Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul.”

—–Mark Twain

It’s commencement season again, so the nation’s pundits are taking advantage of the opportunity to take university youth to task for rejecting commencement speakers who espouse unpopular causes (anti-Muslim crusader Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Condoleezza Rice, I.M.F. head Christian Lagarde etc.), which demonstrates a failure to be open to a true “marketplace of ideas.” Of course, the circulation of ideas is a lot more significant than a mere “marketplace,” but since profit is the only value that capitalism will tolerate, and capitalism is not about to disappear tomorrow morning, we’ll leave that consideration aside for the moment. Just what moral standing does U.S. punditry have to condemn others for not tolerating speech it can’t stand?

The obvious answer is, “none at all.” “Liberals,” and “conservatives,” (and for that matter, many university students) are quite similar in their intolerance for political views that conflict with their own. The corporate media, those entrusted with the task of perpetuating political orthodoxy, i.e., the incapacity to question, does not, cannot, and will not tolerate speech delivered by doctor David Duke, Louis Farrakhan, the honorable Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Bolivian President Evo Morales,Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, Russian president Vladimir Putin, Syrian president Assad, any spokesperson of Hamas, and Holocaust revisionists such as Ernst Zundel and Bradley Smith, among others. Even Phil Donahue and Helen Thomas have been ex-communicated by the media czars, the former for questioning the wisdom of attacking Iraq, the latter for suggesting that (illegal) colonizers of Palestine ought to return to the lands where they have legal standing. In short, the pundits presuming to lecture American youth on the virtues of tolerance and respect for a diversity of views are themselves partisans of a narrow orthodoxy, one they don’t even know they have, much less are willing to question.

From the point of view of the upholders of a “free marketplace of ideas,” you are a racist murderer if you think lack of forensic evidence of homicidal gas chambers in WWII poses a problem for those who believe in them, an unreconstructed Bolshevik if you question capitalist rule by a microscopic minority of investors, an apologist for chemical warfare if you don’t support overthrowing the government of Syria, a supporter of dictatorship if you think the Russian people have the right to resist a U.S. orchestrated coup in the Ukraine, and an apologist for terror if you support democratically elected Hamas’s right to govern the Palestinian people. Small wonder that Americans have a dim view of politics and are reluctant to participate. When vulgar smears greet every original thought, who in their right mind wants to participate?

Meanwhile, how do the pundits greet whistleblowers? In general they applaud the jailing and torture of Chelsea Manning and the forced exile of Eric Snowden for revealing state secrets to the American people, who otherwise would not have any means of knowing about many of the crimes committed in their name. The American First Amendment establishing press freedom is much celebrated by the punditocracy for distinguishing the U.S. from Canada and European states, some of whom have official secrets acts that allow the state to raid the files of media companies. However, the presumed moral superiority of the American system becomes difficult to appreciate given the perpetual eagerness of the corporate media to spout the national security state’s propaganda of the moment. As the saying goes, once the bull has been spayed, he receives all barnyard privileges.

The existence of the First Amendment is precisely what makes the corporate media’s craven submission to official doctrines reprehensible. If the press and broadcast media were subject to state intrusion, they could plead self-defense in making “news” coincide with the propaganda needs of the state. But since they do not face any penalty for crafting the news however they see fit, one can only call them cowards for giving credence to the lies and distortions favored by Washington. Base and criminal cowards.

Reject this hypocrisy, students, and demand full employment for graduates by establishing a free and independent media with access to mass audiences. Let freedom ring!

June 3, 2014 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

NUCLEAR: Obama throws ailing reactors a potential lifeline

By Hannah Northey | Greenwire | June 2, 2014

The Obama administration today threw a potential — and limited — lifeline to the country’s ailing nuclear industry, highlighting the ability of existing reactors to help states curb emissions.

U.S. EPA unveiled a proposal for curbing emissions from existing power plants that pointed to the United States’ fleet of about 100 reactors as playing a critical role — alongside ramping up efficiency and shifting to natural gas and other low-carbon alternatives — in cutting the utility sector’s greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent compared with 2005 levels by 2030.

At issue is EPA’s finding in the proposal that preventing the closure of “at-risk” existing reactors could avoid up to 300 million metric tons of carbon dioxide during the initial compliance phase of 10 years.

“Policies that encourage development of renewable energy capacity and discourage premature retirement of nuclear capacity could be useful elements of CO2 reduction strategies and are consistent with current industry behavior,” the agency said. “Costs of CO2 reductions achievable through these policies have been estimated in a range from $10 to $40 per metric ton.”

The U.S. nuclear industry is facing a host of challenges, including stiff competition from cheap natural gas, low wholesale energy prices, increasing fixed operation and maintenance costs, and high upfront capital costs for building new units.

EPA noted that units have recently closed in California, Florida and Wisconsin, and additional closures have been announced in Vermont and New Jersey. EPA also noted that the U.S. Energy Information Administration in its most recent annual energy outlook projected that an additional 5.7 gigawatts of capacity — about 6 percent of the country’s current capacity — is at risk of retiring.

EPA pointed to a February 2013 Credit Suisse report that found nuclear plant operators may be experiencing a $6-per-megawatt-hour shortfall in covering operating costs with electricity sales.

“Assuming that such a revenue shortfall is representative of the incentive to retire at-risk nuclear capacity, one can estimate the value of offsetting the revenue loss at these at-risk nuclear units to be approximately $12 to $17 per metric ton of CO2,” the agency wrote. “EPA views this cost as reasonable.”

The agency went on to propose that emission reductions from retaining 6 percent of each state’s historical nuclear capacity should be factored into each state’s goals. EPA also asked for comments on whether the cost of completing new reactors in Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee should be considered in the states’ compliance plans.

Steve Clemmer, the Union of Concerned Scientists’ director of energy research and analysis, said it’s reasonable for EPA to include existing nuclear generation in the baseline and to credit states for new reactors, adding that the agency’s modeling of the rule doesn’t project the construction of new reactors beyond the five currently being built. But Clemmer questioned EPA’s methodology and finding that 6 percent of the nation’s existing fleet is at-risk economically and applying that percentage equally across the states, noting that factors playing into each plant’s closure varies.

“In states where existing plants aren’t economically vulnerable, they could get a windfall profit by getting extra credit,” he said, noting that the industry already receives generous subsidies.

The EPA proposal is already emboldening the industry’s focus on state compliance plans.

Marv Fertel, the Nuclear Energy Institute’s president and CEO, said in an interview that the U.S. nuclear industry in coming months and years will be pushing states with merchant nuclear plants to value those units for avoiding emissions. States must submit compliance plans by June 30, 2016, or ask for an extension by April 1, 2016. The rule is slated to be finalized next June.

“We have a bunch of states that have renewable portfolio standards; we think you ought to be basically looking at in the state maybe a clean energy standard … and you should be including nuclear as a part of that,” Fertel said.

Fertel said state policies could bolster nuclear units — just as they currently boost wind and solar.

“It would work the same way it’s working for renewables right now. You have to meet the renewable standard, so you’re driving renewables into certain portfolios in the state; this would say that you ought to be looking not only to drive nuclear by either updates or whatever, but value the existing nuclear for the attribute of no emissions, as well as all it does for reliability,” Fertel said.

The current fleet of reactors avoids 600 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year, equivalent to removing 113 million cars from the road, Fertel added.

The Obama administration in recent months has highlighted the link between climate mitigation and nuclear power. Pete Lyons, the Energy Department’s assistant secretary for nuclear energy, said earlier this year that a rash of premature U.S. reactor closures could threaten the country’s climate goals.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in prepared remarks for an event in Washington, D.C., today placed nuclear power on par with solar and wind, saying states have the opportunity to “shift to ‘no’ carbon sources like nuclear, wind, and solar.” McCarthy went on to say that the nation’s nuclear reactors continue to “supply zero carbon baseload power. Homegrown clean energy is posting record revenues and creating jobs that can’t be shipped overseas.”

The administration earlier this year finalized $6.5 billion worth of loan guarantees for the country’s first U.S. reactors in decades without requiring developers to pay a “credit subsidy fee” — money that protects taxpayers should the developers default (Greenwire, April 21).

The nuclear industry has stepped up its campaign efforts in recent months, with Exelon Corp. taking the lead, partially funding a new front group called Nuclear Matters. The group’s members include former White House climate adviser and former EPA Administrator Carol Browner, former Sens. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), former Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, and former Commerce Secretary and Obama Chief of Staff Bill Daley.

Doug Vine, a senior fellow at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), said EPA is setting base lines over the country’s total generation mix, and a state’s job becomes more difficult if a reactor retires. Vine said C2ES has seen two approaches that could benefit nuclear plants, including the clean energy standard that Fertel mentioned and carbon pricing.

Kyle Aarons, a senior fellow at C2ES, said the rule could act to incentivize states to keep current reactors running.

“It’s certainly going to change states’ thinking,” Vine said. “It’s going to put a more long-term focus on nuclear.”

Twitter: @HMNorthey | Email:

June 3, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Nuclear Power, Progressive Hypocrite, Science and Pseudo-Science | Leave a comment

Doha official: Freed Taliban “will not be treated as prisoners”

Al-Akhbar | June 3, 2014

Qatar has moved five Afghan Taliban prisoners freed in exchange for a US soldier to a residential compound and will let them move freely in the country, a senior Gulf official said on Tuesday, a step likely to be scrutinized by Washington.

US officials have referred to the release of the Taliban members as a transfer and said they would be subject to certain restrictions in Qatar. One of the officials said that would include a minimum one-year ban on them travelling outside of Qatar as well as monitoring of their activities.

“All five men received medical checks and they now live with their families in an accommodation facility in Doha,” the Gulf source, who declined to be identified, told Reuters. “They can move around freely within the country.”

Following the deal under which freed the last American soldier held in Afghanistan, concerns have been expressed by some US intelligence officials and congressional advisers over the role of the Gulf Arab state as a bridge between Washington and the world of radical Islam.

The Gulf official said the Taliban men, who have been granted Qatari residency permits, will not be treated like prisoners while in Doha and no US officials will be involved in monitoring their movement while in the country.

“Under the deal they have to stay in Qatar for a year and then they will be allowed to travel outside the country… They can go back to Afghanistan if they want to,” the official said.

The five, who had been held at the US Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba since 2002, arrived in Qatar on Sunday where US security personnel handed them over to Qatari authorities in the Udeid area west of Doha, where the US military is based.

US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl had been held for nearly five years by Taliban fighters in Afghanistan and his release followed years of on-off negotiations.

A diplomatic source said Qatar has flown in family members of the five released Taliban men and gave them accommodation paid for by the government.

On Sunday, Qatari Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiyah told a news conference that Doha got involved in the case because it was a “humanitarian cause,” but did not elaborate.


June 3, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Seymour Hersh: liar and pro-fascist propagandist?

Interventions Watch | June 3, 2014

On 19th December 2013, the London Review of Books published an article by Seymour Hersh, entitled ‘The Red Line and the Rat Line’, which challenged the Obama administration’s claims that only the Assad regime could have been responsible for the chemical weapon attacks in Ghouta on August 21st 2013.

The article attracted a lot of criticism and attempted ‘debunkings’, some of which I blogged about here.

The latest attempted ‘debunking’ comes from Muhammad Idrees Ahmad, an author and journalist, and has been published in the L.A. Review of Books.

It’s being widely circulated among those who have long been critical of Hersh’s claims in regards to Ghouta, with – for example – Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch tweeting:

Thank u @im_PULSE 4 revealing Sy Hersh’s lies re Ghouta CW attack–we stand by @hrw findings of Assad resp. 

I agree: Sy Hersh’s @LRB writing on Ghouta chemical weapons attack = distortions of a propagandist, not journalism. 

Not only is Hersh being accused of being wrong, then, but he’s being accused of being both a liar and a propagandist – a couple of very serious, and potentially libellous, accusations.

For Bouckaert to justify making such serious allegations against Hersh, Ahmad’s article would have to demonstrate conclusively that Hersh is both a liar and a propagandist. And in my opinion, it fails to do so.

Let’s just deal with some of the claims made against Hersh:

1. Claims of Responsibility

Ahmad writes that:

Hersh claims that the Assad regime was innocent of the August 21 massacre, that indeed the attack was carried out by the Islamist rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra, as part of what Hersh’s source describes as “a covert action planned by [Turkish Prime Minister Recep] Erdoğan’s people to push Obama over the red line.”

This is Ahmad’s first error, and one that is commonly made among those seeking to ‘debunk’ Hersh.

Hersh is not in fact saying that the regime was innocent, and that the rebels were to blame, and has clarified this on a number of occasions.

In an interview with Mint Press News in April 2014, he said that:

No one is saying they know what happened . . . We don’t know.

In an interview with Democracy Now! in December 2013, he said that:

I certainly don’t know who did what, but there’s no question my government does not.

And in an interview with Almayadeen in April 2014, he said that (starts at 21:54):

I am not saying I know that one particular unit . . . we know nothing about who did what. Was there an Al Nusrah wing that did it? Was it done by a rogue unit of the Syrian army? Maybe, who knows? I’m not ruling out . . . I’m just saying what the President was told by the Joint Chiefs: the Sarin that we found was not military grade.

So Ahmad starts off by attributing an opinion to Hersh that he’s never actually held, and that he has openly denied holding on at least three separate occasions. Ahmad continues to repeat the error throughout the rest of the article.

Hersh is instead saying that there are people within the U.S. Intelligence community who suspect rebel culpability; who believe certain rebel groups have the capability to manufacture Sarin; and that this therefore directly contradicts the Obama administration’s initial claims that only Assad and Assad alone could have been responsible.

2. U.N Reports

In his article, Hersh relays claims that Sarin samples collected on the ground in Ghouta by a Russian agent were later tested by British defence scientists at Porton Down. These scientists apparently concluded that ‘the gas used didn’t match the batches known to exist in the Syrian army’s chemical weapons arsenal’, and so a message was relayed to the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff ‘that the case against Syria wouldn’t hold up’.

In response, Ahmad quotes a U.N. report from February 2014. Here is what Ahmad  says exactly:

Samples were also recovered from the site by the UN. Hersh makes no mention of these. Whatever discoveries Porton Down might have made, they were superseded by what the UN inspectors extracted and studied first hand. The UN’s remit did not include assigning responsibility, but its judgment leaves little room for doubt. The perpetrators, it concludes, “had access to the chemical weapons stockpile of the Syrian military, as well as the expertise and equipment necessary to manipulate safely large amount of chemical agents.”

And here is what that U.N. report says in full:

The evidence available concerning the nature, quality and quantity of the agents used on 21 August indicated that the perpetrators likely had access to the chemical weapons stockpile of the Syrian military, as well as the expertise and equipment necessary to manipulate safely large amount of chemical agents. – p.19 (emphasis mine)

As you can see, Ahmad leaves the words ‘indicated’ and ‘likely’ out of the quote, perhaps because they’re qualifiers and do in fact suggest a degree of doubt.

That reading is strengthened by what the report says three paragraphs later. Namely,  and in regards to allegations of chemical weapon usage in Syria in general, that:

In no incident was the commission’s evidentiary threshold met with regard to the perpetrator.

Again, if the U.N. are themselves saying that the evidentiary threshold has not been met in regards to the perpetrator, then quite a significant degree of doubt *is* suggested.

Ahmad then moves onto the alleged chemical weapon attack in Khan al-Assal in March 2013. Hersh quotes an anonymous source from the U.N. as saying that:

Investigators interviewed the people who were there, including the doctors who treated the victims. It was clear that the rebels used the gas. It did not come out in public because no one wanted to know

Ahmad again responds by quoting the U.N. report from February, which says:

Concerning the incident in Khan Al-Assal on 19 March, the chemical agents used in that attack bore the same unique hallmarks as those used in Al-Ghouta.

He then accuses Hersh of not having read the report.

But the report doesn’t pin the blame on the regime, does it? It just says the chemical agents allegedly used had the same hallmarks as those used in Ghouta – an attack for which, like all the others, no ‘evidentiary threshold was met with regard to the perpetrator’.

Further to this, a previous and more indepth U.N. report, released in December 2013, had said of the Khan al-Assal attacks that there is:

credible information that corroborates the allegations that chemical weapons were used in Khan Al Asal on 19 March 2013 against soldiers and civilians – p.19 (emphasis mine)

A reasonable question to ask here might be ‘Why would the Syrian regime gas its own soldiers?’.

And for what it’s worth, Hersh’s anonymous U.N. source is not the only person from that organisation who has pointed the finger of suspicion at rebel groups, in regards to chemical weapon attacks carried out in the early part of 2013.

Carla Del Ponte, one of the overseers of the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria, was reported as saying in May 2013 that:

According to their report of last week, which I have seen, there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated . . . I was a little bit stupefied by the first indications we got . . . they were about the use of nerve gas by the opposition.

Ahmad is entitled to his interpretation of the February 2014 report, and I would agree that it does, to an extent, look damning for the regime.

But he has clearly stripped all of the qualifiers out of the report he is quoting, which do indeed leave room for doubt. He then – at least in regards to the Khan al-Assal attack –  ignores previous U.N. reports, and quotes from named and senior U.N. officials, which, in turn, look damning for the rebels.

Ahmad then quotes Hersh as saying, in regards to the U.N. team who investigated the Ghouta attack, that:

[Their] access to the attack sites, which came five days after the gassing, had been controlled by rebel forces

This quote actually comes from Hersh’s first LRB article on the chemical weapon attacks in Ghouta, ‘Whose Sarin?’, which was published in December 2013.

In Ahmad’s reading, this is Hersh ‘suggesting that the UN may have been constrained by the presence of the rebels’, while neglecting to mention that, in Ahmad’s words, ‘the visit “came five days after the gassing” because the regime refused access to the sites and instead subjected them to unrelenting artillery fire‘.

Ahmad, on the basis of this, accuses Hersh of employing ‘the distortion of a propagandist’.

Another way of looking at Hersh’s sentence is that it is simply true.

The U.N. investigative teams access to the affected areas had indeed been controlled by rebel forces, as the report itself says. Here is the relevant passage:

A leader of the local opposition forces who was deemed prominent in the area to be visited by the Mission, was identified and requested to take ‘custody’ of the Mission. The point of contact within the opposition was used to ensure the security and movement of the Mission, to facilitate the access to the most critical cases/witnesses to be interviewed and sampled by the Mission and to control patients and crowd in order for the Mission to focus on its main activities’. – p.13/41

Hersh’s article also quoted the part of the U.N. report which says that:

‘During the time spent at these locations, individuals arrived carrying other suspected munitions indicating that such potential evidence is being moved and possibly manipulated’. – p.25/41

The report, then, is clear: the teams access to the affected areas was controlled by the opposition, and the team also had concerns about the potential moving and/or manipulation of evidence.

Hersh doesn’t misrepresent or distort the report in any way.

The most Ahmad can pin on Hersh is that he didn’t outline why there was a five day delay in getting to the affected areas, but frankly, it’s weak tea indeed, and in no way justifies the description of ‘distortion’ and ‘propaganda’.

3. Technical claims

Ahmad takes issue with Hersh’s use, in an interview with Democracy Now!, of the phrase ‘kitchen sarin’, writing that:

one would also have to accept Hersh’s related claim that sarin can be produced in a kitchen. Bashar al-Assad shares this view, but chemical weapons experts understandably disagree. Sarin is a deadly substance; its production is a substantial technical, financial, and logistical undertaking. It is not the kind of thing one can conceal in a house; nor is it something one can load into homemade rockets using kitchen gloves.

But it’s clear from the full quote that Hersh is not saying that he thinks sarin can be ‘produced in a kitchen’. Here is the full quote:

And so, the Brits came to us with samples of sarin, and they were very clear there was a real problem with these samples, because they did not reflect what the Brits know and we know, the Russians knew, everybody knew, is inside the Syrian arsenal. They have—professionals armies have additives to sarin that make it more persistent, easier to use. The amateur stuff, they call it kitchen sarin, sort of a cold phrase.

The phrase ‘kitchen sarin’, then, is being used as a slang term to distinguish professionally manufactured sarin from ‘the amateur stuff’. I very much doubt it was intended to be taken literally, or that Hersh seriously believes sarin can be knocked up on a stove with a few pots and pans.

There is then an overview of the debate regarding the launch points of the rockets used in the Ghouta attacks, and about who is in possession of such rockets.

This basically pits Ted Postol, a well regarded defence technology expert at MIT, and Richard Lloyd, a former UN weapons inspector, against Eliot Higgins, a British blogger renowned as an expert on the munitions used in the Syrian conflict.

Postol and Lloyd are the main sources for Hersh’s technical claims, and Ahmad himself concedes that ‘They have produced valuable analyses on the payloads and ranges of the rockets used on August 21′, and that ‘There is little reason to doubt their expertise in this area’.

I’m not going to attempt to analyse the competing claims and counter-claims in this regard, because i’m not qualified to do so.

But Hersh relying on the expertise of Postol and Lloyd in making some of his claims in regards to the technical aspects of the attack doesn’t strike me as being particularly outrageous. They may be right, they may be wrong, but they are competent and credible sources.

However, Ahmad then accuses Ted Postol of a ‘determination to validate’ Seymour Hersh’s work, and in doing this, ignoring ‘all evidence that undermines them’. He quotes Emile Durkheim as calling this the ‘ideological method’, defined as ‘the use of “notions to govern the collation of facts, rather than deriving notions from them”.

But Postol himself has said that when he first started investigating the attacks, he was sure that no-one but the regime could have been responsible. To quote Postel himself:

My view when I started this process was that it couldn’t be anything but the Syrian government behind the attack. But now I’m not sure of anything.

If anything then, Postol’s trajectory has been the exact opposite of the one Ahmad attributes to him. When he started his investigations, he was sure that the regime was culpable, and that Hersh was wrong. But the facts he uncovered in the course of that investigation lead him to doubt and then discard his initial hunches.

That doesn’t stop Ahmad essentially dismissing some of his work as ideologically motivated.

Ahmad then accuses Hersh of a similar ideological motivation, saying that:

He ignores or obfuscates established facts that contradict his theory: the fact that the delivery system used in the attacks is peculiar to the regime, or that the UN has established that the sarin could only have come from government stockpiles

But you could argue that it is Ahmad who is obfuscating here.

The UN has never categorically reported ‘that the sarin could only have come from government stockpiles’, saying only that the perpetrators ‘likely’ had access to government stockpiles, but that the evidentiary threshold in regards to the perpetrators hasn’t been met.

Postol and Lloyd are both of the opinion that the ‘delivery system used’ could have been manufactured by a rebel group, and needn’t be peculiar to the regime.

Ahmad himself also ignores other evidence – such as Carla Del Ponte’s claims, or that regime soldiers appear to have been targeted in some cases –  that points to rebel culpability for at least some of the chemical weapon attacks in Syria.

Ahmad finishes by wondering whether Hersh is just ‘credulous’, or whether ‘something less benign is at play’.

He basically accuses Hersh of wanting to see Assad retain his chemical arsenal, based on this paragraph from ‘Whose Sarin?’:

While the Syrian regime continues the process of eliminating its chemical arsenal, the irony is that, after Assad’s stockpile of precursor agents is destroyed, al-Nusra and its Islamist allies could end up as the only faction inside Syria with access to the ingredients that can create sarin, a strategic weapon that would be unlike any other in the war zone’.

Ahmad calls this ‘a dog-whistle case for Assad keeping his arsenal’, and expresses astonishment that LRB would publish it.

But I don’t see it as anything of the sort. Ahmad’s reading of Hersh here is, at best, tenuous and uncharitable, and at worst an outright smear that is the polar opposite of Hersh’s stated beliefs.

In his December 2013 interview with Democracy Now!, for example, Hersh said in regards to Obama’s acceptance of the Russian brokered disarmament deal:

He (Obama) decides overnight to go to Congress, and then he accepts a very rational deal—and I’m glad he did—that the Russians put forward, with the Syrians, to dispose of the chemical arsenal or the chemicals that are in Syria.

So Hersh thinks the deal was ‘very rational’, and he is ‘glad’ Obama accepted it. Some ‘dog whistle’.

In summary, then, these are the most obvious and immediate errors and misrepresentations I found in Ahmad’s article:

1. That Hersh thinks the rebels were to blame for the attacks in Ghouta. This is flatly false, as Hersh’s own words show, and is not the point he’s making at all. Ahmad gets the basic premise of Hersh’s argument – which is that doubt over culpability exists where the Obama administration insists there is none – completely wrong.

2. That Hersh misrepresents, obfuscates or ignores U.N. reports to make his case. Again, this isn’t true, and if anything it’s Ahmad who has selectively quoted some U.N. reports, while totally ignoring others/senior U.N. officials, to make it look like they’re categorically blaming the regime.

3. That Hersh is wrong in regards to the technical claims, and that his sources are ideologically motivated.

All I can say is that it’s clear the technical debate is still raging, and that Hersh has some very credible sources on his side – one of whom, despite Ahmad’s insinuations, actually started his investigations convinced that the regime was to blame, and that Hersh was wrong.

It should also be noted that Ahmad’s own main source, Brown Moses, is far from infallible, and is less qualified and less experienced than both Postol and Lloyd.

4. That Hersh might not just be well meaning if wrong, and instead has another agenda, such as wanting Assad to keep his chemical weapon stockpile. This is based on the most uncharitable reading of Hersh’s work possible, is extremely tenuous, and is directly contradicted by Hersh’s own words.

Ahmad finishes by saying:

By now even the most dogmatic among Hersh’s publishers must have realized that they were hoaxed. Their ideological proclivities and eagerness for clicks made the deception easier. They got played — they relayed what is in effect pro-fascist propaganda.

And while this may ultimately turn out to be true, he doesn’t come anywhere near close to demonstrating it to be the case.

Nor is there any convincing evidence presented of Hersh being a liar or a propagandist, as opposed to just conveying claims from his sources that are potentially dishonest or mistaken.

But for those who are desperate to see Hersh discredited if not destroyed, I suppose it’ll have to do until the next attempt.

June 3, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

China and Russia to establish joint rating agency

RT | June 3, 2014

No more Fitch, Moody’s, or Standard & Poor’s for Russia and China, as they have agreed to establish a rating agency on joint projects, and later, international services, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said Tuesday.

“The establishment of an independent rating system is being discussed. Many countries would like to have more objectivity in the assessment of rating agencies,” Siluanov said.

“There will be a Russian-Chinese rating agency, which will use the same tools and criteria for assessing countries and regional investments that existing rating agencies use,” the minister said.

June 3, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Economics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Obama pledges $1bn for more troops, military drills in E. Europe

RT | June 3, 2014

President Obama has announced a plan to invest $1 billion in stepping up its military presence in Eastern Europe amid the Ukrainian crisis. The White House will send more troops and equipment to the region to “reaffirm” its commitment to NATO allies.

Speaking at a news conference in Warsaw, Obama said America was stepping up its partnership with countries in Eastern Europe with a view to bolstering security. The moves are aimed at upping the pressure on Russia, which Washington has accused of inciting unrest in Ukraine.

In line with the plans, Obama will ask Congress to provide up to $1 billion to finance the deployment of more troops and equipment.

“Under this effort, and with the support of Congress, the United States will preposition more equipment in Europe,” Obama said at the Polish capital’s Belweder Palace.

Earlier in the day Obama met with US and Polish air personnel in Warsaw and said the US had already begun rotating additional soldiers in the region.

“Given the situation in Ukraine right now, we have also increased our American presence. We’ve begun rotating additional ground troops and F-16 aircraft into Poland… to help our forces support NATO air missions,” said Obama, calling the commitment to NATO allies in Europe “the cornerstone of our own security.”

Obama called on Moscow to refrain from further provocation in Ukraine and said it has a responsibility to work constructively with the new government in Kiev. He added that the troop buildup in Eastern Europe was not meant to threaten Russia, but “rebuilding trust may take some time.”

The American president will meet with newly-elected Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko during his two-day stay in Poland.

Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski praised Washington’s plans to beef up military forces in the region.

“We welcome them as an announcement of a real return by NATO to standing very strongly by the basis of the alliance, which is Article 5, which speaks about the collective defense of the countries’ territories,” Komorowski said.

Russia has decried the increase in NATO troops close to its border as a blatant provocation and accused the organization of fueling violence in Ukraine. Moscow has said it is ready for dialogue with Poroshenko, but has urged the newly elected President to halt the “anti-terror operation” in the east of Ukraine.

“NATO is providing Kiev – a member of its Partnership for Peace program – with technical assistance, thus encouraging the prolongation of its use of force. Thus the Alliance accepts a part of the responsibility for the escalation of the situation, and the collapse of diplomatic negotiations,” said Aleksandr Grushko, Russia’s envoy to NATO.

Thus far the US has deployed 600 troops for military drills in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland.

June 3, 2014 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | Leave a comment

181 people killed, 293 injured in Kiev military op in eastern Ukraine

RT | June 3, 2014

Kiev’s military operation in eastern Ukraine has left 181 people killed, including 59 of ruling regime troops, and 293 injured, according to the country’s Prosecutor General.

Oleg Makhnitsky announced the recent figures at a press conference. However, it was not clear whether the death toll included casualties among self-defense forces.

The Prosecutor General has also added that over 220 people have been abducted, including 12 foreign citizens, since the uprising started in Lugansk and Donetsk Regions.

“Six hundred and seventy-five criminal enterprises connected with subversive activities, terrorist acts, and violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine are currently being investigated,” Makhnitsky told the media.

Kiev has been conducting its “anti-terrorist operation” in eastern Ukraine since April, following a mass uprising against the coup-appointed government, demanding broader independence from the capital.

Following the May 11 referendums, in which the Lugansk People’s Republic and Donetsk People’s Republic voted for the two regions’ independence and proclaimed themselves sovereign states, the military operation by Kiev troops has intensified.

The day after the presidential elections on May 25, the likely winner, billionaire Petro Poroshenko, announced that the military operation in the southeast of the country would continue, demanding “it must be more effective, and military units must be better equipped.”

Just a few hours after the early results of the elections were announced, Ukrainian troops stepped up their military activity and deployed fighter jets and helicopters at Donetsk International Airport in an attempt to win it back from self-defense forces.

More than 50 civilians and as many self-defense troops were killed in the subsequent clashes, local militia estimated.

On Wednesday, May 28, Kiev troops targeted civilian quarters of Slavyansk, for the first time shelling one of the city’s schools and a kindergarten.

All the pupils and teachers were quickly evacuated from the school as the shell hit the roof and exploded right above the hall where children played.

The shelling also damaged a block of flats and a dormitory in the city’s teachers’ college, shattering glass in the windows of the college.

Shortly afterwards, the Ukrainian military shelled a children’s hospital, also in Slavyansk.

This past weekend, over a thousand people rallied in Donetsk demanding that children be protected from Kiev’s assault.

The Kiev forces quickly blamed the violence on self-defense units, which they refer to as “terrorists.”

June 3, 2014 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , | 1 Comment

Egypt: Two students disappear after being tortured in police camp

MEMO | June 3, 2014

Two Egyptian university students have disappeared since Sunday after being abducted by police and tortured in a central security camp in Zagazig, spokesman of a student group said.

According to Ahmadi Hamoudi, spokesperson of the Students Against the Coup movement, the students are Anas Al-Sayed, a freshman student at the School of Business, Zagazig University, and Anas Mousa, a student at the Higher Engineering Institute in 10 Ramadan city. The two disappeared from their detention center after reportedly being brutally tortured.

Hamoudi said on his Facebook page that the two students were rounded up in the early hours of Sunday morning from their homes in Zagazig, Sharqeya governorate.

Anas Moussa, one of the disappeared students, had lost his left eye after being shot at during his participation in an anti-coup protest on 6 October. There are unconfirmed reports, however, that the two students were transported to the Azouli military prison.

June 3, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , | Leave a comment

Egyptian comedian cancels TV show citing ‘pressures’


MEMO | June 3, 2014

Egyptian comedian and TV satirist Bassem Youssef said Monday his show has been cancelled, citing pressures faced by the Saudi-owned MBC group to suspend his show.

According to producers of the show, as quoted by Reuters, the latest episode poked fun at the latest presidential elections, particularly the staggeringly low turnout and the resulting pro-Al-Sisi media panic.

MBC spokesman Mazen Hayek said that his group “had no hand” in the decision to suspend the show, saying the channel “did its best” to keep the show on air.

He refused to respond to questions regarding Saudi government pressures to cancel the show.

The Saudi government is one of the main backers of the former army chief Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi who led the July 3 military coup against elected President Mohamed Morsi. Al-Sisi won a controversial presidential election last week in what has been internationally denounced as an illegitimate and unfair process.

June 3, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment

Israel critic targeted by JDL in Canada

By Joshua Blakeney | Press TV | June 3, 2014

Since 2010, I have been Press TV’s Canadian correspondent based in Calgary, Alberta. I have been forced by the actions and statements of Canada’s ruling neoconservatives to hone in on the role Zionists and the organized Jewish community play in Canadian society.

Canada’s current government has shifted this country from being a comparatively benign and peaceful nation to being a warmongering de facto colony of Israel. I believe the evidence suggests this didn’t just happen by accident; the Zionization of Canada was a carefully planned, well-oiled operation.

If I was wrong in my analyses of the interface between Canada’s government and pro-Israel forces, I believe I would have been invited on one of the many Zionist-controlled media organs here, debated by some high-IQ Zionist intellectual and exposed as erroneous and foolish. I believe it is because we at Press TV are accurate in our analyses of Canadian power and politics that a segment of the organized Jewish community has decided to turn to coercion.

I would like to make available an email I received from the Jewish Defense League, a group described in an FBI report entitled “Terrorism 2000/2001” as a “violent extremist organization:”

“Mr Blakeney,

In the middle of the last century, Jews had no right or means of response when they were demonised, persecuted and attacked by your ideological soulmates. Today, the world is a very different place. When we are attacked by hate-filled antisemites like you, we respond with all the resources at our disposal, and with extreme prejudice.

You clearly enjoy indulging your pathological hatred of Jews, but there are three things that you should remember: The code that we live by is ‘never again’; our loathing of those who incite hatred against Jews is stronger than their hatred of us; we didn’t choose you as an enemy, you chose us.”

There are several fallacies committed in this unpleasant email. Firstly, I am not a “hate-filled anti-Semite.” I define Anti-Semitism as an “irrational hatred of all Jews generically.” You have to dislike all Jews and irrationally so to qualify as an Anti-Semite in my book. I merely oppose the actions, arguments and assumptions of those Jews who are oppressors, warmongers, apologists for Israel and proponents of a Zionist exeptionalist police state, etc. Some Jews agree with me, some almost agree with me and others evidently hate me. Either way, criticizing those in power, regardless of their ethnicity, is a natural right which I embrace zealously.

Unlike the JDL, who claim they intend to act with “extreme prejudice” against me, I’m guided by post-judice insofar as my conclusions are derived from an analysis of the factual record. My analyses are rational, logical and evidence based. Evidence emerged of Israeli involvement in 9/11 and then I deduced that Israel conducts false-flag terrorism against the US. The evidence came first, then my conclusion.

Equally misguided is to characterize my alleged “hatred of Jews” as “pathological.” The usage of psychoanalytic verbiage to quash criticism of Jews is the product of Sigmund Freud and members of the Frankfurt School, Jewish thinkers who popularized their ethnocentric doctrines in the first half of the 20th Century. By describing my criticism of certain Jews as “pathological,” the writer of the email exempts himself from addressing the content of my criticisms. If my criticisms are the product of a psychopathology, then they have no relation to the real world and thus need not be addressed. How convenient.

Some academicians and law experts have advised me to take this threatening email to the authorities here in Canada. However, I am intuitively averse to having the state decide which emails are good and which are bad. I’d rather engage in debate and dialogue with my interlocutors. Furthermore, it seems unlikely that Canada’s current regime would ever prosecute Jewish ethnic activists like the members of the JDL. That would be in contravention of the Jewish-exceptionalist ideology that seemingly governs this country at the present time.

The Canadian state has defenestrated the values of British Common Law that once guided Canadian society (such as freedom of speech, freedom of expression, adversarial argumentation, habeas corpus and freedom of movement) in favor of the eliminationist ideology of Jewish exceptionalism. Critics of Jews find themselves arrested for “hate speech” or “inciting genocide” and non-Canadian citizens are barred from the country or deported.

For example, it has now been demonstrated that Canada’s ruling neoconservatives barred pro-Palestinian peace activist and parliamentarian George Galloway from Canada in 2009 at the behest of the JDL. This is one reason I don’t fear the JDL per se; there was a time when they had no political clout and thus had to actively engage in their own thuggery and aggression toward those whose perspectives they sought to suppress. Now they have Canada’s MPs and politicized police forces at their disposal to do their dirty work for them. If Mr. Galloway had turned up at the Canadian border in mid-2009, the police would have arrested and incarcerated the six-times-elected British MP, based on lobbying efforts by the JDL. In this epoch, the JDL can sit back and let Israel’s client regime in Ottawa do all the work.

The extent of the Zionization of Canada is revealed by the very presence of the JDL in this country. The militant organization is reportedly proscribed in the US and in many EU countries. In spite of this, periodically Meir Weinstein, leader of the JDL in Canada, pops up on our TV screens as if he is a moderate Canadian political pundit. Quite what the members of the JDL contribute to Canadian society other than aggressive censoriousness and ethnic tension is unclear.

In 1995 German ethnic-activist and historian Ernst Zundel had his house firebombed by Zionist terrorists who disagreed with his historical conclusions. A group called the Jewish Armed Resistance Movement claimed responsibility for the attack but the Toronto Star later claimed that the group had ties to the JDL. Instead of locking up those aggressors who arrogated to themselves the right to revoke Mr. Zundel’s freedom of speech and destroy his property, the police incarcerated Zundel under so-called anti-terrorism legislation, which was later found to be unconstitutional.

Another falsehood in the email is the claim that “we didn’t choose you as an enemy, you chose us.” I grew up in a philo-Semitic household with holidays to Israel and visits to Auschwitz (and I’m not even Jewish!). It was primarily Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians and proven involvement in false flag attacks on Western countries that spurred me to voice criticism of certain Jews. Within recent days, Australia’s former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser has confirmed that Israel deliberately attacked the USS Liberty in June 1967. Is he a “pathological” “antisemite” too?

So, to repeat, my conclusions are post-judicial not prejudicial (I actually pre-judged Jews favorably). The Zionists want to use countries like Britain, Canada and the US as playthings to advance Israeli geopolitical goals, expending the blood and treasure of us stupid goyim rather than that of Jews. Certain Zionist fanatics in my view declared war on my historically philo-Semitic people not vice-versa.

I’m keen to engage in dialogue with my detractors. It seems because I have the moral high ground and evidence on my side that some Zionists are now resorting to coercion to silence me.

In my view, the pen is mightier than the sword. The JDL should take a leaf out of my book instead of trying to eliminate anybody who criticizes them and their fellow Zionist ideologues.

June 3, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular, Video, Wars for Israel | , , , | 2 Comments

Israel’s timeline of terror


By Ibrahim Hewitt | MEMO | June 3, 2014

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is making familiar noises about Hamas and “terrorism” in the wake of the announcement of the Palestinian unity government. “I call on all responsible elements in the international community not to rush to recognise a Palestinian government which has Hamas as part of it and which is dependent on Hamas,” he is reported to have said. “Hamas is a terrorist organisation that calls for Israel’s destruction, and the international community must not embrace it. That would not bolster peace, it would strengthen terror.” Israel, let us not forget, is a nuclear-armed state with massive military capabilities which is occupying and colonising Palestinian land. It is the state for which successive political party leaders and prime ministers in Britain have expressed their unflinching support.

Netanyahu clearly needs a reminder that his state was itself founded on what has been called “Jewish terrorism”. As the world prepares to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings, Israel’s timeline of terror, which started well before the founding of the state, makes interesting reading. It was intended, quite deliberately, to attack the British Mandatory government at a time when Britain and its allies were leading the fight against Nazi Germany and the Axis powers.

Throughout 1944, as the Allies prepared for and invaded Europe to free it of the Nazi menace, the Irgun and Stern Gang Zionist terrorist groups carried out a series of bombings against police stations and other government offices across Palestine. Their terrorism was not confined to historic Palestine, however. In November 1944, two “Jewish terrorists” murdered Britain’s Lord Moyne, the Minister of State resident in Cairo. The plan, it is claimed, was to blame the murder on Arabs but the Egyptian police caught the murderers who were hanged after being tried and found guilty.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill, a strong supporter of Zionism, said in the House of Commons that such acts will make him “reconsider” his support “if our dreams for Zionism are to end in the smoke of assassins’ pistols and our labours for its future are to produce a new set of gangsters worthy of Nazi Germany.” Even the Executive of the Jewish Agency referred to the group behind the murder as a “terrorist organisation”.

British military and security personnel were also attacked: in September 1944 a policeman was killed in Jerusalem; in December 1946 an army officer was kidnapped and flogged; and in July 1947 two British sergeants were hanged by Irgun and their bodies were booby-trapped. The most infamous attack of all during that period was the July 1946 bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, in which 91 British and local officials were killed.

Much has been made by Israel’s propagandists over the years about the visits of the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin Husseini, to Adolf Hitler, in order to court Nazi support for the Palestinian cause. Little is said, though, about the efforts of the eponymous Avraham Stern and his gang to do a deal with the Nazis “concerning the solution of the Jewish question in Europe”. This has been described as an “aberrant episode in Jewish history” which “should alert us to how far extremists may go in times of distress, and where their manias may lead.”

Throughout its short history, the state of Israel has committed many terrorist acts against Palestinian civilians. Former Chief of Staff Mordechai Gur is on record as stating that from 1948 onwards Israel always fought “against a population that lives in villages and cities.” Israeli military analyst Zeev Schiff has noted that Gur’s comments are basically an admission that the so-called Israel Defence Forces have “always struck civilian populations, purposely and consciously.” Atrocities took place in places like Qibya, where sixty-nine villagers were killed in 1953, two-thirds of them women and children; and Kafr Kassem in 1956, where 48 Palestinians were killed, more than half of them women and children. In neighbouring Lebanon, Israeli troops facilitated the infamous Sabra and Shatila massacre in 1982 when up to 3,500 Palestinian refugees were slaughtered in their homes. The massive, and disproportionate Israeli onslaught against the largely civilian population of Gaza in 2008/9 and again in 2012 was merely the most significant of a long catalogue of such acts. Palestinian farmers and fishermen are attacked by the Israel “Defence” Forces on an almost daily basis, with an accompanying loss of life, limbs and livelihood.

Israel continues to condone the terrorist acts of Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem; security forces regularly stand and watch as they commit their crimes, only springing into action when the victims are moved to defend themselves.

Arguably the biggest act of terrorism is Israel’s ongoing ethnic cleansing of the land of historic Palestine. That this continues in the full view of history, the media and the international community is a disgrace matched only by its politicians’ attempts to justify it on the grounds of “self-defence”. Netanyahu’s latest bleats about Hamas and terrorism are one example of where – no apologies for paraphrasing Orwell once again – lies are made to appear truthful and murder becomes respectable. He presides over a government which is well-versed in the dark arts of terror against civilians.

The state of Israel was founded on terrorism and its timeline of terror is long and bloody, and has yet to reach its end. When politicians and journalists have the courage to challenge the Israeli prime minister’s outrageous claims in an objective manner, perhaps it will.

June 3, 2014 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Family of man killed by Israeli forces denies he shot at police


Audah pictured in front of the cell phone store he owned
Ma’an – 03/06/2014

NABLUS – The family of a man killed by Israeli soldiers near Nablus late Monday have denied Israeli claims that he opened fire at forces.

They identified the man as Alaa Muhammad Awad Audah, 30, from the town of Huwwara south of Nablus.

According to the Israeli army, Audah approached the Zaatara checkpoint late Monday and opened fire at an Israeli policeman, lightly wounding him in the leg. Soldiers responded by shooting and killing Audah.

But his family told Ma’an Tuesday that the 30-year-old arrived at the checkpoint in order to receive a shipment of cell phones for a store he owned.

In order to avoid traffic, Audah decided to cross the checkpoint and retrieve his package on foot while his taxi driver waited nearby, family member Jumaah Omran said.

Soldiers shot and killed him as he approached the checkpoint, Omran added.

Locals told Ma’an that the shooting occurred as Israel army chief of staff Benny Gantz was visiting Joseph’s Tomb nearby.

Audah left behind a wife and two children. His village, Huwwara, has announced three days of mourning.

His body has yet to be delivered to his family.

Israeli forces have killed 12 Palestinians in the West Bank since the start of 2014, according to AFP figures.

June 3, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment