Aletho News


Venezuela Rejects Kerry’s Latest Intervention in Its Affairs


Venezuela’s foreign minister, Delcy Rodriguez, insists that U.S.-Venezuela relations must be based on mutual respect.
teleSUR | August 2015

Responding to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s latest comments on Venezuela, foreign minister Delcy Rodriguez called on him to stop interfering in Venezuela’s internal affairs, which she described as violating international law.

Rodriguez was specifically referring to Kerry’s recent comments on a major news channel, where he said that international observers should be involved in Venezuela’s upcoming National Assembly elections and that all “political prisoners” in Venezuela should be freed, so that there would be no “negative impact” on U.S.-Venezuela relations.

In response to Kerry, Rodriguez said that Venezuela is a free and independent country and added, “the times in which the U.S. dictated norms to Venezuela are over, thanks to the anti-imperialist actions of the Venezuelan people.”

Instead, relations between Venezuela and the U.S. should be based on mutual respect and international norms, the foreign minister said.

Kerry’s claims about political prisoners refers to politicians arrested not for their political views but their orchestration of a wave of violence that led to the deaths of 43 Venezuelans in 2014.

Venezuela and the U.S. currently have not had ambassadors in each other’s countries since 2010, when Venezuela refused to admit the newly appointed U.S. ambassador because of negative comments he made about Venezuela’s military during his Senate confirmation hearing.

The U.S. subsequently expelled Venezuela’s ambassador, Bernardo Alvarez.

Ever since there have been negotiations on and off between the two countries about the exchange of ambassadors.

The most recent effort was torpedoed by President Obama’s issuing of an executive order that declared Venezuela an “extraordinary and unusual threat” to U.S. national security and imposed sanctions on several Venezuelan government officials.

Since then, new negotiations have taken place on the initiative of President Maduro, according to State Department advisor Thomas Shannon.

August 14, 2015 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Rumour Mongering Surrounds MH17 Investigation as NATO War Games Barrel Ahead in Eastern Europe

By Roger Annis | CounterPunch | August 14, 2015

‘Could be.’ ‘Might be.’

‘Can’t show or prove anything, but maybe.’

Is there any wonder that with such language coming lately from the “official” but secretive investigation of the July 17, 2014 crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, there is little reason for confidence in a final report? And lots of reason for concern of what a flawed or reckless final report could spark?

On August 11, the Dutch Safety Board and the ‘Joint Investigation Team’ investigating the MH17 crash issued a speculative statement saying they have discovered pieces among the debris they collected from the fields in eastern Ukraine where the plane came down that “possibly originate” from a spent Buk missile.

They say they can’t be sure. “At present, the conclusion cannot be drawn that there is a causal connection between the discovered parts and the crash of flight MH17.” And they can’t show us anything. But they are making the statement anyway.

The statement was reported widely by Western media along with predictable spin and wild interpretation. Western media has reported all along that the thinly-equipped self-defence forces in eastern Ukraine are the “likely” culprits in bringing down the MH17, “possibly” with backing coming from ‘somewhere’ in the Russian military command.

Manipulation and misreporting of the known fact of the crash of the plane is disrespectful toward the victims and their loved ones. Much more troubling is the fact that it disregards the deadly context of events surrounding the investigation, including the string of military exercises upon which NATO is embarked in eastern Europe and now the latest news that Ukraine is moving heavy artillery back to the front line of its war in eastern Ukraine, to be unleashed on the civilian population.

Here is how the European correspondent of Canada’s daily Globe and Mail, Mark MacKinnon, reports the Dutch investigators’ statement in a special, center-spread article in the newspaper on August 12:

“The recovery of the missile fragments adds to the bulk of evidence implicating pro-Russian fighters in the downing of the passenger jet, which killed 298 people. Moscow, which accuses the Ukrainian military of shooting MH17 out of the sky, recently used its veto at the United Nations Security Council to block the establishment of an international criminal tribunal to prosecute the case.”

Who needs an official investigation with such an apparent, open and shut case? The implications of such thinking and writing are becoming unthinkable considering the exceptionally dangerous context reported in the opening of the very same Globe article:

“War between Russia and the NATO alliance should be unthinkable. But a new study of recent military exercises suggests both powers are preparing for just that possibility.

“Researchers at a European think tank [the European Leadership Network] warned that while there was no evidence that either side intended to go to war, the increasing frequency and size of military exercises on both sides [sic] of the NATO-Russia border heighten the possibility of an unplanned incident that could spark a wider conflict (Read the report PDF). The finding raises the spectre of a continent-wide clash of conventional armies, the sort not seen since Russia and the Western allies combined to defeat Nazi Germany in the Second World War.”

The British government is piling on by announcing that it will double the number of Ukrainian soldiers and extremist militia members that it plans to train this year, from 1,000 to 2,000. Presently, Britain says it has 75 soldiers in the country.

Speaking in Kyiv on August 11, British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon described the conflict in eastern Ukraine as “red hot”.

Rebel forces in eastern Ukraine have been receiving vital humanitarian aid from the Russian government and from widespread citizen initiatives. They have also received important political/diplomatic support from the Russian government.

The Russian government makes the utterly evident argument that Kyiv should respect the terms of the Minsk-2 ceasefire agreement it co-signed signed on Feb. 12, 2015 and negotiate the grievances which the population of eastern Ukraine has expressed over Kyiv’s radical, extremist turn to a pro-Europe, anti-Russia and pro-austerity orientation for Ukraine.

The issuance of another unfounded, speculative accusation by the Dutch-led MH17 investigation, then seized upon and manipulated by reckless journalists and editors, is another reason why this investigation cannot be taken seriously.

The Dutch government is refusing demands by Dutch media that it release documentation pertaining to its response to the crash last year. A formal request to this effect was made by RTL Nieuws.

The government defends its refusal by saying that documents contain the names of individuals and that the release of the documents could have negative consequences for relations with other countries.

RTL Nieuws has said the following in response to the government’s decision:

“We think it unfortunate that the minister does not work harder to disclose more information. Of course, we understand that not every piece of information can be thrown into the street. But withholding basic facts and decisions? We will study the decision and decide if going to the courts is desirable and useful.”

Late last year, the Dutch news magazine Elsevier revealed some details of the secret agreement signed on August 8, 2014 by the four countries composing the so-called Joint Investigation Team investigating the disaster. The four are Holland, Belgium, Ukraine and Australia. (Malaysia was added to the JIT late last year following pressure and protest over its initial exclusion.) The secret agreement said that any one of the member countries of the JIT can veto release of any information gathered by the investigation.

The implications of an official report that ‘goes rogue’ by leaving vital questions unanswered and throwing anti-Russia speculation and prejudice to the wind are very serious.

The words ‘Russia’ and ‘Buk missile’ have been pounded out in tandem so frequently by Western governments and media during the past year that any speculative report of a “Buk” missile in relation to the MH17 crash just reinforces the ‘blame Russia narrative’ they have worked to establish.

A survey of the circumstances of the crash and the composition of the investigation underlines the danger of the situation.

The armed forces of Ukraine and quite possibly the extremist, right-wing militias allied with it possess the Buk missile system. The government in Kyiv failed to close the airspace over eastern Ukraine when it launched a war there in the spring of 2014. This flew in the face of decisions by the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States and major international airlines months before the MH17 crash to prohibit passenger planes from flying there.

Following the crash/shoot down, Ukraine ignored the July 21, 2014 resolution at the Security Council demanding that the investigation be given unfettered access to the crash site. Investigators were forced in and out of the area, according to the exigencies of the war which Kyiv declined to put on hold. To the point where parts of the plane and parts of bodies are still being randomly discovered today by visitors to the scene.

The circumstances of the crash should easily argue in favour of excluding Ukraine from the official, international investigation, or at the very least, they argue for including Russia since its border lies only a few dozen kilometers away from the crash site. But no, the JIT investigation is being conducted by governments that are hostile to Russia and to the pro-autonomy rebellion in eastern Ukraine.

Malaysia showed its colours last month when it introduced a resolution at the UN Security Council on July 29 proposing that a witchhunt-style tribunal be established by the Security Council to investigate matters. The resolution was a win-win for the anti-Russia crowd. A special tribunal could conduct an investigation without having to go through the motions of impartiality required of the JIT. The terms of the Dutch-led investigation is that it establish the facts, not search for guilt.

Russia vetoed the resolution. The Russian government argued that with two investigations already taking place, what was the purpose of adding a third? Russia’s suspicions were already on high alert given the fact that its offers to cooperate with the investigation have been rebuffed or treated at arm’s length.

Russia’s ambassador to Britain explained his country’s vote: “Our partners preferred to conduct a vote that is impossible to explain by any other motive than seeking a fresh pretext for pointing a finger at Russia.”

“Progress towards justice must be seen. So far, we have seen nothing.”

The vetoed Security Council resolution looked for all the world as a staged ‘aha’ moment. As in, ‘Aha, what is Russia trying to hide by vetoing a tribunal?’ That’s exactly how much of Western media and Western governments reported the veto.

Moscow-based writer John Helmer has been following and reporting the MH17 story closely and provided a comment about the latest developments:

“So far, as I have reported, the Dutch Safety Board (DSB) stands out for an investigation that has failed to bring to light and analyze the most obvious sources of data or explain why the Board, the Dutch police and prosecutors have failed to do this.

“For example, in public disclosure so far, there has been no analysis of U.S. satellite images, including infrared images, of the MH17 site just before, during, and just after the strike and crash, and no disclosure of whether the Dutch investigators requested this data, what they were told, or if the Dutch believe the data exist and is being withheld from the investigation.

“I’ve seen no DSB analysis of the silence on the last four seconds of the Cockpit Voice Recorder, and no explanation of how this is possible. There has been no published analysis of the Ukrainian air traffic control radar and radio tapes or confirmation of whether Kiev handed them over to the Dutch,  and if they haven’t been handed over, why not. So far, too, there has been no disclosure of evidence from the autopsy and post-mortem data collected from the victims’ bodies.

“What is missing is obvious. So what to make of particles of evidence whose provenance, authenticity and authority of disclosure are far from obvious? The Dutch want to be thought of as careful, methodical, clean. Why so careless all of a sudden?”

Read also:
MH17 – ‘Buk plume’ burns witness – Part I, by Max van der Werff, July 26, 2015

Black boxes and black holes in the Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 investigation, by John Helmer, July 17, 2015

The website New Cold War: Ukraine and beyond contains an extensive dossier of articles on the July 17, 2014 crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17. These include the extensive writings on the subject by U.S. journalist Robert Parry.

Roger Annis is an editor of the website The New Cold War: Ukraine and beyond. On June 12, he gave a talk in Vancouver, Canada reporting on his visit to Donetsk, eastern Ukraine in April 2015 as part of a media tour group. A video broadcast of that talk is here: The NATO offensive in eastern Europe and the class and the national dynamics of the war in eastern Ukraine.

August 14, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | 1 Comment

The “New Thirty Years War” in the Middle East – A Western Policy of Chaos?

By Steven MacMillan – New Eastern Outlook – 14.08.2015

The Middle East has been in a state of chaos for years now, with each passing year bringing a new wave of instability, carnage and human suffering to the people of the region. From Afghanistan to Iraq, Libya to Syria, Western foreign policy has directly caused or exacerbated much of the chaos we see in the region today and has contributed to a growing trend of instability.

A pertinent question of our time however is whether this instability and destabilization is a result of inept strategy by Western nations, or a calculated strategy by the West to intentionally create chaos, balkanize nations and increase sectarian tensions in the region? 

The “New Thirty Years War”

Certain individuals within the US establishment have been drawing the comparison between the Middle East today and the Thirty Years War in Europe in the 17th century, with Prof. Larry Goodson of the US Army War College being one of the latest individuals to make the comparison. Even though the parallels between Europe and the Middle East are by no means exact, it has become somewhat of a talking point within Western geostrategic circles.

The Thirty Years War is a complex historical period, pertaining to numerous wars and conflicts fought by an array of power blocs for a variety of reasons. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica: “Although the struggles that created it erupted some years earlier, the war is conventionally held to have begun in 1618, when the future Holy Roman emperor Ferdinand II, in his role as king of Bohemia, attempted to impose Roman Catholic absolutism on his domains, and the Protestant nobles of both Bohemia and Austria rose up in rebellion.”

The war quickly spread to embroil the majority of Europe’s major powers who either believed there was an opportunity to conquer neighbouring powers or were drawn into the conflict by a force invading their lands, and is regarded by historians as one of the most destructive periods in European history. Villages, towns and cities were raped and pillaged by mercenaries who were fighting for different power blocs, devastating the European continent. 

The Thirty Years War was brought to an end when a series of treaties was signed in 1648 known as the Peace of Westphalia, establishing a new political order in Europe in the form of co-existing sovereign states (although some historians dispute the significance of Westphalian sovereignty). James Bissett, the former Canadian Ambassador to Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Albania, described the Westphalian system in a 2007speech as laying “down the basic tenets of sovereignty—the principle of territorial integrity and of non-interference in the affairs of national states… The Westphalian order has frequently been violated, but age has not diminished the principles themselves.”  

In July of 2014, the former director of policy planning for the US Department of State and the President of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Richard Hass, compared the Middle East of today to 17th century Europe, in his article “The New Thirty Years War”. Hass proclaims that the Middle East will likely be as turbulent in the future unless a “new local order emerges”:

“For now and for the foreseeable future – until a new local order emerges or exhaustion sets in – the Middle East will be less a problem to be solved than a condition to be managed.”

As I reported a year ago, this “new local order” may be in the form of a Middle Eastern Union.

Fragmenting the Middle East

Ubiquitous evidence indicates that there is an agenda by at least some strategists within the US to destroy the nation state and balkanize the region into feuding rump states, micro-states and mini-states, which will be so weak and busy fighting each other that they will be unable to unify against foreign colonial powers – most notably Western multinational corporations. After a prolonged period of destruction and chaos in the region, the people of the Middle East may be so weary of the horrors of war that they will accept a Western imposed order as a means of ending the fighting, even though the very same Western forces have been responsible for creating much of the intolerable chaos.

The strategy of balkanization can be traced back to at least the early 1990’s, when British-American historian Bernard Lewis wrote an article published in the 1992 issue of the CFR’s publication, ‘Foreign Affairs’, titled: Rethinking the Middle East. He envisages the potential of the region disintegrating “into a chaos of squabbling, feuding, fighting sects, tribes, regions and parties.” Even though Lewis writes in his article that this is only one “possibility” of many other possibilities, it is starkly similar to the situation that we see in countries such as Iraq and Libya today:

“Another possibility, which could even be precipitated by fundamentalism, is what has of late become fashionable to call “Lebanonization.” Most of the states of the Middle East—Egypt is an obvious exception—are of recent and artificial construction and are vulnerable to such a process. If the central power is sufficiently weakened, there is no real civil society to hold the polity together, no real sense of common national identity or overriding allegiance to the nation state.”

Lewis continues:

“The state then disintegrates—as happened in Lebanon—into a chaos of squabbling, feuding, fighting sects, tribes, regions and parties. If things go badly and central governments falter and collapse, the same could happen, not only in the countries of the existing Middle East, but also in the newly independent Soviet republics, where the artificial frontiers drawn by the former imperial masters left each republic with a mosaic of minorities and claims of one sort or another on or by its neighbours.”

Speaking at the Ford School in 2013, former US secretary of state and CFR member, Henry Kissinger, reveals his desire to see Syria balkanized into “more or less autonomous regions”, in addition to comparing the region to the “Thirty Years War” in Europe:

“There are three possible outcomes. An Assad victory. A Sunni victory. Or an outcome in which the various nationalities agree to co-exist together but in more or less autonomous regions, so that they can’t oppress each other. That’s the outcome I would prefer to see. But that’s not the popular view…. I also think Assad ought to go, but I don’t think it’s the key. The key is; it’s like Europe after the Thirty Years War, when the various Christian groups had been killing each other until they finally decided that they had to live together but in separate units.” (from 27.35 into the interview).

Creating a “Salafist Principality” in Syria

In May of this year, Judicial Watch released a series of formerly classified documents from the US Department of Defense and Department of State after the watchdog group filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the two government agencies. One important document contained in the release was a 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) report which reveals that the powers supporting the Syrian opposition – “Western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey” – wanted to create a “Salafist principality in Eastern Syria in order to isolate the Syrian regime”:

“Opposition forces are trying to control the Eastern areas (Hasaka and Der Zor), adjacent to the Western Iraqi provinces (Mosul and Anbar), in addition to neighbouring Turkish borders. Western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey are supporting these efforts… If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in Eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).” (p.5)

The document adds:

“ISI [the Islamic State of Iraq] could also declare an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organisations in Iraq and Syria.” (p.5)

Balkanizing Iraq

 Fragmenting Iraq into three separate regions has been the goal of many within the US establishment since the 2003 invasion of the country, although NATO member Turkey has vocally opposed the creation of a Kurdish state in the North. In 2006, a potential map of a future Middle East was released by Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters which depicted Iraq divided into three regions: a Sunni Iraq to the West, an Arab Shia State in the East and a Free Kurdistan in the North. 

Even though the map does not reflect official Pentagon doctrine, it gives a glimpse into the minds of some of the top military strategists and corroborates with many other Western voices on the strategy for Iraq. As geopolitical analyst Eric Draitser noted in a recent article for New Eastern Outlook, the President Emeritus of the CFR, Leslie Gelb, argued in a 2003 article for the NY Times that the most feasible outcome in Iraq would be a “three-state solution: Kurds in the north, Sunnis in the center and Shiites in the south.”

Syria is shown as still being a unified country in the above map, although this may be because the Syrian proxy war did not begin until years later. Israel could also come to occupy more territory in the coming decades.

Different Country, Same Strategy

 The same pattern of balkanization and chaos that we see in Iraq and Syria is also true in Libya. Following the NATO’s 2011 war in the North African nation, the country descended into an abyss of chaos and has essentially been split into three parts, with Cyrenaica comprising the East of the country, and the West split into Tripolitania in the Northwest and Fezzan in the Southwest. Libya is now a failed state which is devoid of central government and is stricken by tribal warfare, where rival militias who were once fighting alongside each other are now battling against one another.

The Iranian nuclear deal could mark a new beginning for Western geopolitical strategy in the Middle East, where they would work with regional powers to promote stability and refrain from military intervention (or intervention through proxies). Let’s hope this is true, and the West will halt the plethora of destabilization programs it has engaged in for years.

But the most probable scenario will be a continuation of the balkanization strategy that we have all come to expect; until a “new local order emerges” – an order that will be designed by, and for, Western interests of course.

August 14, 2015 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 2 Comments

DuPont Caught Covering Up Deadly Risks of Chemical that’s in Nearly Everything & Everyone

By Andrew Emett | The Free Thought Project | August 13, 2015

Thousands of people have filed lawsuits against DuPont for poisoning them with a chemical that causes birth defects, multiple types of cancer, and death. According to internal DuPont documents and emails, the company knew about the health risks to their employees and local communities but covered up the data in order to increase their profit margin. After decades of dumping this toxic chemical into the ocean, rivers, landfills, and the air, DuPont has contaminated the bloodstream of nearly every American with this non-biodegradable chemical.

In 1946, Teflon was introduced with an essential ingredient known as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) or C8. For several decades, DuPont and seven other corporations contaminated the U.S. by using C8 in hundreds of products, including Gore-Tex and other waterproof clothing; coatings for eyeglasses and tennis rackets; stain-proof coatings for carpets and furniture; bicycle lubricants; communications cables; fast food wrappers; fire-fighting foam; microwave popcorn bags; pizza boxes, ski wax; non-stick cookware; and satellite components.

According to internal DuPont documents, an employee named R.A. Dickison noted in 1954 receiving an inquiry into the possible toxicity of C8. Seven years later, a group of in-house researchers discovered that C8 was toxic and should be handled with extreme care. However, DuPont decided not to disclose this information to its own employees. Over the years, DuPont scientists have conducted experiments exposing dogs, rats, rabbits, monkeys, and humans to varying doses of C8, which killed many of the lab animals.

During the first trimester of her pregnancy, former DuPont employee Sue Bailey was transferred to the Teflon division at the Parkersburg plant in 1980. Her son, Bucky, was born with tear duct deformities, only one nostril, an eyelid that started down by his nose, and a condition known as keyhole pupil. According to a recent article in The Intercept, at least one of eight babies born to women who worked in the Teflon division had birth defects.

While on maternity leave, Bailey received a phone call from a DuPont doctor asking if her baby had any birth defects. Before Bailey returned to work, she learned that DuPont decided to remove all female employees from the Teflon division. When Bailey returned to work and visited the plant doctor, Dr. Younger Lovelace Power told her that Bucky’s birth defects were not caused by C8 and also told Bailey that the company had no record of her working in the Teflon division.

When the female employees were removed from the Teflon division at the Parkersburg plant, Ken Wamsley began working in Teflon after his supervisor assured him that C8 only affects some pregnant women. After years of exposure to C8, Wamsley was diagnosed with rectal cancer and underwent surgery in 2002 to treat it.

Due to the fact that C8 is so chemically stable, scientists have determined it will never break down and expect C8 to remain on the planet long after humans have gone extinct. During the early 1960s, DuPont buried approximately 200 drums of C8 on the banks of the Ohio River. An internal DuPont document from 1975 revealed that the company had also been packing the toxic chemical into drums loaded with stones and dumping them into the ocean.

As DuPont eventually ceased dumping C8 into the ocean, they began disposing the chemical in unlined landfills and ponds. DuPont also contaminated the air by releasing the chemical through smokestacks and pouring waste directly into the Ohio River. According to a 2007 analysis from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), C8 is in the blood of 99.7% of Americans. C8 has also been found in arctic birds, bald eagles, bottlenose dolphins, caribou, harbor seals, lions, tigers, polar bears, walruses, and sea turtles.

A study by Dennis Paustenbach published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health found that the DuPont plant in West Virginia spread nearly 2.5 million pounds of C8 into the area surrounding Parkersburg between 1951 and 2003. Roughly 80,000 residents filed a class-action lawsuit against DuPont in 2001. After reaching a settlement in 2005, DuPont agreed to pay $343 million for residents’ medical tests, the removal of as much C8 from the area’s water supply as possible, and a science panel’s study into the toxic effects of C8 on humans.

After seven years, the science panel found that C8 was “more likely than not” linked to ulcerative colitis, high cholesterol, pregnancy-induced hypertension, thyroid disease, testicular cancer, and kidney cancer. The scientists also found that even extremely low levels of exposure were associated with health problems.

Next month, the first of approximately 3,500 personal injury claims is set for trial. Among the lawsuits is a wrongful death claim filed by Virginia Morrison of Parkersburg, West Virginia. Morrison is accusing DuPont of causing the death of her husband in 2008 from injuries related to kidney cancer.

Marred with a history of deceit and negligence, DuPont has repeatedly violated state and federal laws while causing the deaths of numerous employees. The production of leaded gasoline at its New Jersey plant caused madness and several violent deaths of employees. During the 1930s, employees were diagnosed with bladder cancer after exposure to certain dye chemicals. In 1989, DuPont employees at the Parkersburg plant experienced an elevated number of leukemia deaths and an unexpectedly high number of kidney cancers among male workers.

On November 15, 2014, a gas leak resulted in the deaths of four DuPont employees at the La Porte plant. On January 23, 2010, a phosgene gas leak killed a DuPont employee at the Belle plant. And on November 11, 2010, two contractors were welding when sparks ignited flammable vapors and caused an explosion at the DuPont facility outside Buffalo, New York. The explosion killed one contractor and left the other seriously injured.

DuPont has denied any wrongdoing or breaking any laws even though the EPA, OSHA, and other agencies have repeatedly cited the company for serious safety violations. Instead of taking responsibility for causing multiple types of cancer and birth defects, DuPont claims that the plaintiffs’ injuries were “caused by acts of God” over which DuPont had no control.

In 2006, DuPont and seven other companies signed on with the EPA’s 2010/2015 PFOA Stewardship Program and agreed to reduce C8 emissions and cease producing the toxic chemical by 2015.

August 14, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism | , , | Leave a comment

Mexico’s War on Journalists

By Laura Carlsen | CounterPunch | August 14, 2015

Earlier this summer, Ruben Espinosa fled Mexico’s Gulf coast state of Veracruz after receiving death threats. His work as a photojournalist there had made him an enemy of the state’s governor, who presides over one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a reporter.

On July 31, Espinosa was found beaten and shot dead in a Mexico City apartment.

Eight months ago, Nadia Vera, a student activist and cultural worker, looked boldly into a camera lens and told an interviewer that if anything happened to her, Veracruz governor Javier Duarte and his cabinet should be held responsible. She also fled Veracruz to the nation’s capital after suffering attacks.

On July 31, Nadia Vera was found sexually tortured and murdered, shot point-blank in the same apartment.

Three more women were assassinated in the normally tranquil, upper-middle class neighborhood that afternoon — an 18 year-old Mexican named Yesenia Quiroz, a Colombian identified only as “Nicole,” and a 40 year-old domestic worker named Alejandra. The press generally refers to the case as “the murder of Ruben Espinosa and four women,” relegating the women victims to anonymity even in death.

At a recent demonstration of journalists and human rights defenders, the sense of dread was palpable. As communicators in Mexico, we’re angry and intensely frustrated at how so many of our ranks have been killed, disappeared, displaced, or censored with no repercussions.

For many, including me, this crime especially hit home. For a long time, whenever I was asked if I was afraid to speak out critically in Mexico, I answered that fortunately Mexico City was relatively safe. Drug cartels and their allies in government only kept close tabs on reporters in more disputed areas.

The quintuple homicide in a quiet corner of the city shattered that myth — and with it what was left of our complacency. Several days before his murder, Espinosa told friends that a man had approached him to ask if he was the photographer who fled Veracruz. When he said yes, the man replied, “You should know that we’re here.”

Once considered a haven, Mexico City has become a hunting ground in a country where, too often, journalists end up reporting on the brutal assassinations of their colleagues — and wondering who will be next.


Ruben Espinosa had photographed social movements in the state of Veracruz for the past eight years, including journalists’ protests over the murder of Regina Martinez in 2012, a journalist and colleague of Espinosa at Proceso magazine. He covered the protests against the disappearance of the 43 students of Ayotzinapa by local police in Guerrero and acts of repression by the Veracruz state government.

Espinosa captured a front-page photo of Governor Duarte, big-bellied and wearing a police cap, which appeared on the cover of Proceso alongside the title: “Veracruz, a Lawless State.” Espinosa noted that the governor was so enraged by the photo he had his agents obtain and destroy as many copies of the magazine as they could get their hands on. He reported that while he was taking pictures of the eviction of protesters, a government agent told him, “You better stop taking pictures or you´ll end up like Regina.”

The Mexican Special Prosecutor’s Office for Crimes Against Freedom of Expression recognizes 102 journalists murdered from 2000 to 2014.

Yet the Mexico City prosecutor didn’t even mention the threats and attacks against Nadia Vera, an activist and a member of the student organization YoSoy132, as a line of investigation in her murder. The UN High Commission on Human Rights in Mexico stated that Vera and the other female victims found with Espinosa showed signs of sexual torture. Mexico City investigators announced that they were applying investigative protocols for possible femicides, but didn’t say why or confirm the reports of rape and sexual torture.

The invisibility of the women victims in the press and the official statements has been partially compensated for by social media. In social networks, millions of posts and tweets have brought to light the lives of the women, and especially Nadia’s more public and activist past, in an impromptu campaign that insists that women’s lives also matter.

Signs of a Cover-Up?

Now, just days into the investigation, with the nation — and especially journalists — reeling from the news, there are already signs of a cover-up.

On August 2, Mexico City Attorney General Rodolfo Rios gave a press conference reporting on advances in the case. Although Rios promised to pursue all lines of investigation, he downplayed the possibility that this could be a political crime against freedom of expression, claiming that Espinosa was not currently employed.

Rios also stated that the photojournalist came to Mexico City to look for work — a thinly veiled attempt to pre-empt the dead journalist’s own version of the facts that he was forced to leave Veracruz due to ongoing persecution. The city attorney’s office has put forth robbery as the principal motive of the crime, despite the execution-style torture and killings, and hasn’t called on anyone from the Veracruz government to provide testimony.

These are signs that the city government may be trying to railroad the investigation, and they’ve outraged the public, especially journalists. The attorney general’s absurd claim that Espinosa was unemployed at the time of his murder, seemingly suggesting that his journalistic work wasn’t a motive, caused particular indignation.

On August 5, investigators announced that they’d arrested and were questioning a suspect based on a match with a fingerprint found in the apartment. Despite apparent advances, there’s a growing fear that the government has no intention of really investigating a crime that could lead straight to a powerful member of the president’s own party.

The U.S. Role

The involvement of the Mexican government in the crime itself, or at least in creating the climate that led to the crime and failing to prevent it, raises serious questions for U.S. policymakers as well. The watchdog organization Article 19 reports that nearly half of the aggressions against journalists registered were carried out by state agents.

Since 2008, the U.S. government — through the Merida Initiative and other sources — has provided some $3 billion to the Mexican government for the war on drugs. This is a period when attacks on human rights defenders and journalists have skyrocketed, and more than 100,000 people have been killed by criminals and security forces alike.

A fraction of that money has gone to mechanisms for protection that have so far proved worthless. Rather than helping, this serves to support the false idea that the Mexican state is the good guy in a war on organized crime. The cases of corruption, complicity, and abuse that pile up week by week have demolished this premise.

Supporting abusive governments and security forces while claiming to support the journalists and human rights defenders being attacked by them is like pretending to help the fox while arming the hunter — it just prolongs the hunt. Mexican citizens who speak up are being hunted, too often by their own government. It’s time the U.S. government came to grips with that and immediately suspended the Merida Initiative.

Until there is accountability and justice — and an end to the murder of those who tell the truth about what’s happening here — sending U.S. taxpayer money to Mexican security forces is a vile betrayal of Mexicans’ friendship and of the highest principles of U.S. foreign policy.

Laura Carlsen is the director of the Americas Program in Mexico City and advisor to Just Associates (JASS).

August 14, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , | 2 Comments

No Thanks, Obama and McCain. Continuing Indefinite Detention Isn’t Closing Guantánamo.

By Chris Anders | ACLU | August 12, 2015

A bad idea doesn’t somehow become a good idea just because five years have gone by.  But the Obama White House and Sen. John McCain seem ready to recycle a proposal that was overwhelmingly rejected in 2010.

President Obama has renewed his commitment to closing Guantánamo before he leaves office, and McCain (R-Ariz.) said he might be able to support closure. However, there has always been a right way and a wrong way to close Guantánamo. The restrictions the Senate has passed, along with the latest proposal floated by the White House to move some detainees to the United States for indefinite detention without charge or trial, is the wrong way.

Guantánamo has never been just about the prison. Instead, Guantánamo has been about our government violating the rule of law and ducking American values. From torture and abuse during the Bush administration to indefinite detention and defective military commissions extending through the Bush and Obama administrations, Guantánamo has been a place where our government behaves like a human rights pariah instead of a human rights beacon.

The solution can never be to simply pack up both the detainees and bad policies at Guantánamo and ship them to some new prison here in the United States. No. The only meaningful solution is to close Guantánamo by ending indefinite detention without charge or trial, transferring the detainees who have been cleared for transfer,  and trying detainees for whom there is evidence of wrongdoing in our federal criminal courts in the U.S., which regularly try terrorism suspects, including high-profile ones.

But instead of doing the hard work of closing Guantánamo the right way, the Obama White House is reportedly dusting off the same plan that Congress overwhelmingly rejected in 2010. The “plan” would involve transferring overseas all cleared detainees (an excellent idea, but one that actually needs to be completed now, not when this “plan” goes into effect), but then setting up prisons in the U.S. to continue the indefinite detention of men who have been imprisoned for more than a decade without ever being charged with any crime. Other detainees would be put on trial — but some of them would be tried before the same unfair military commissions used at Guantánamo. The result would be moving Guantanamo, not closing it.

McCain has a hand in it too. As chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, he sponsored the Senate’s National Defense Authorization Act, which would allow indefinite detention and military commissions to be brought to the U.S. as part of closing Guantánamo — but only if both houses of Congress approve the president’s plan. Of course, anything requiring both houses of Congress to approve almost anything from the president is a political non-starter. But this provision is still being sold as a step towards closing Guantánamo.

A particularly bizarre bit of news about the White House plan this week came in a Washington Post report that said that the White House was considering setting up a nearly empty prison in Thomson, Illinois, as a site for indefinite detention of Guantánamo detainees. This exact same plan, with the exact same prison in Illinois, was rejected by a House vote of 353-69 in 2010. Then Attorney General Eric Holder later swore that the Thomson prison would never be used for that purpose.

The ACLU said back in 2009 that shipping indefinite detention north was the wrong way to close Guantánamo, and it still is the wrong way to close Guantánamo. Bad ideas don’t get better by just sitting on the shelf. It’s time to close Guantánamo the right way, by charging in federal court any detainee who can be charged and ending indefinite detention for everyone else. If a prosecutor can’t put together a case against someone who has been sitting in prison for as long as 13 years, there is no reason that person should continue to sit in prison, whether in Guantánamo or someplace else.

Let’s close it the right way.

August 14, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Leave a comment

Mark Steyn’s new book on Michael Mann

A Disgrace to the Profession: The World’s Scientists – in their own words – on Michael E Mann, his Hockey Stick and their Damage to Science – Volume One

Review by Judith Curry | Climate Etc. | August 13, 2015

The backstory on Mann vs Steyn is described in previous posts [link] and links therein. The short story is this. Mann is suing Steyn (and others) for defamation regarding a statement about ‘the fraudulent hockeystick’. Steyn is countersuing. The lawsuits have been tied up in DC courts for years. The new book compiles what is presumably evidence obtained by Steyn’s lawyers regarding whether ‘fraudulent’ is defamatory here. And this is only Volume 1; apparently there is a Volume 2 in the works.

Mark Steyn has 3 blog posts (so far) on the book:

Two bloggers have already written about the book

Anthony Watts reminds me of this statement I made in a previous post: “Mark Steyn is formidable opponent. I suspect that this is not going to turn out well for you.” This book certainly supports my statement.

The book is organized around quotes from Ph.D. scientists (100+) that have made remarks about Mann, either publicly in interviews, on blogs, or in private emails that were revealed through FOIA or unauthorized releases (e.g. Climategate, SkS). This is not just a compilation of quotes from the ‘usual suspects’; I was unfamiliar with many of these individuals, and impressed by their credentials. Each chapter begins with an overview and context about the particular theme, then each subsection is devoted to a particular scientist, beginning with a brief biosketch of that scientist and including backstory and context.

There is much wit and plenty of zingers in Steyn’s narrative (not sure if anyone helped him with the technical aspects of this; seems pretty solid). However, for my post on this book, I decided to focus on snippets from climate scientists who generally support the consensus (explicitly, or lacking any evidence of the opposite), including Mann’s collaborators. It was not simple to cull this down to ~1200 words (so as not to steal thunder from potential buyers of the book), but the quotes below I think give a pretty good representation from the climate scientists that were quoted. Note, I focus particularly on the Hockey Stick (and subsequent incarnations), rather than broader issues about Mann that were raised in some of the quotes.

From climate scientists, all of whom support the general consensus on climate change:

Wallace Broecker: “The goddam guy is a slick talker and super-confident. He won’t listen to anyone else,” one of climate science’s most senior figures, Wally Broecker of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University in New York, told me. “I don’t trust people like that. A lot of the data sets he uses are shitty, you know. They are just not up to what he is trying to do…. If anyone deserves to get hit it is goddam Mann.”

Eduardo Zorita: Why I Think That Michael Mann, Phil Jones and Stefan Rahmstorf2 Should be Barred from the IPCC Process. Short answer: because the scientific assessments in which they may take part are not credible anymore. These words do not mean that I think anthropogenic climate change is a hoax. On the contrary, it is a question which we have to be very well aware of. But I am also aware that editors, reviewers and authors of alternative studies, analysis, interpretations, even based on the same data we have at our disposal, have been bullied and subtly blackmailed.

Atte Korhola: Another example is a study recently published in the prestigious journal Science. Proxies have been included selectively, they have been digested, manipulated, filtered, and combined – for example, data collected from Finland in the past by my own colleagues has even been turned upside down such that the warm periods become cold and vice versa. Normally, this would be considered as a scientific forgery, which has serious consequences.

Hans von Storch: A conclusion could be that the principle, according to which data must be made public, so that also adversaries may check the analysis, must be really enforced. Another conclusion could be that scientists like Mike Mann, Phil Jones and others should no longer participate in the peer-review process or in assessment activities like IPCC.

Bo Christiansen: The hockey-stick curve does not stand. It does not mean that we cancel the manmade greenhouse effect, but the causes have become more nuanced… Popularly, it can be said that the flat piece on the hockey stick is too flat. In addition, their method contains a large element of randomness. It is almost impossible to conclude from reconstruction studies that the present period is warmer than any period in the reconstructed period.

David Rind: Concerning the hockey stick: what Mike Mann continually fails to understand, and no amount of references will solve, is that there is practically no reliable tropical data for most of the time period, and without knowing the tropical sensitivity, we have no way of knowing how cold (or warm) the globe actually got. I’ve made the comment to Mike several times, but it doesn’t seem to get across.

Tom Wigley: I have just read the M&M stuff criticizing MBH. A lot of it seems valid to me. At the very least MBH is a very sloppy piece of work – an opinion I have held for some time. Can you give me a brief heads up? Mike is too deep into this to be helpful.

From Mann’s collaborators and coauthors:

Phil Jones: Keith [Briffa] didn’t mention in his Science piece but both of us think that you’re on very dodgy ground with this long-term decline in temperatures on the thousand-year timescale. It is better we put the caveats in ourselves than let others put them in for us.

Keith Briffa: I have just read this letter – and I think it is crap. I am sick to death of Mann stating his reconstruction represents the tropical area just because it contains a few tropical series. He is just as capable of regressing these data again any other “target” series, such as the increasing trend of self-opinionated verbiage he has produced over the last few years

Edward Cook: I will be sure not to bring this up to Mike. As you know, he thinks that CRU is out to get him in some sense. I am afraid that Mike is defending something that increasingly cannot be defended. He is investing too much personal stuff in this and not letting the science move ahead.

Raymond Bradley: I would like to disassociate myself from Mike Mann’s view. As for thinking that it is “Better that nothing appear, than something unnacceptable to us” …as though we are the gatekeepers of all that is acceptable in the world of paleoclimatology seems amazingly arrogant. Science moves forward whether we agree with individual articles or not.

Matti Saarnisto: In that article [Science], my group’s research material from Korttajärvi, near Jyväskylä, was used in such a way that the Medieval Warm Period was shown as a mirror image. The graph was flipped upside-down. In this email I received yesterday from one of the authors of the article, my good friend Professor Ray Bradley …says there was a large group of researchers who had been handling an extremely large amount of research material, and at some point it happened that this graph was turned upside-down. But then this happened yet another time in Science, and now I doubt if it can be a mistake anymore. But how it is possible that this type of material is repeatedly published in these top science journals? There is a small circle going round and around, relatively few people are reviewing each other’s papers, and that is in my opinion the worrying aspect.

Rob Wilson: I want to clarify that my 2 hour lecture was, I hope, a critical look at all of the northern hemispheric reconstructions of past temperature to date. It was not focused entirely on Michael Mann’s work. The “crock of xxxx” statement was focused entirely on recent work by Michael Mann w.r.t. hypothesized missing rings in tree-ring records. Although a rather flippant statement, I stand by it and Mann is well aware of my criticisms (privately and through the peer reviewed literature) of his recent work.

Some of the harshest criticisms come from physicists; I’ve selected this one from Jonathan Jones, who I had the pleasure of meeting with last June while in the UK:

Jonathan Jones: My whole involvement has always been driven by concerns about the corruption of science. Like many people I was dragged into this by the Hockey Stick. The Hockey Stick is an extraordinary claim which requires extraordinary evidence, so I started reading round the subject. And it soon became clear that the first extraordinary thing about the evidence for the Hockey Stick was how extraordinarily weak it was, and the second extraordinary thing was how desperate its defenders were to hide this fact. The Hockey Stick is obviously wrong. Climategate 2011 shows that even many of its most outspoken public defenders know it is obviously wrong. And yet it goes on being published and defended year after year. Do I expect you to publicly denounce the Hockey Stick as obvious drivel? Well yes, that’s what you should do. It is the job of scientists of integrity to expose pathological science. It is a litmus test of whether climate scientists are prepared to stand up against the bullying defenders of pathology in their midst.

Two of the most surprising statements (to me) are from two young scientists associated with Skeptical Science:

Neal King: My impression is that Mann and buddies have sometimes gone out on a limb when that was unnecessary and ill-advised. Mann, for all his technical ability, is sometimes his own worst enemy. Similarly, with regard to “hiding the decline” in Climategate, I am left with the impression that the real question is, Why would you believe the tree-ring proxies at earlier times when you KNOW that they didn’t work properly in the 1990s? Mann et al spent too much time defending what was incorrect, and allowed the totality of the argument to become “infected” by the fight.

Robert Way: I don’t mean to be the pessimist of the group here but Mc2 brought up some very good points about the original hockey stick. I’ve personally seen work that is unpublished that challenges every single one of his reconstructions because they all either understate or overstate low-frequency variations. Mann et al stood by after their original HS and let others treat it with the confidence that they themselves couldn’t assign to it. The original hockey stick still used the wrong methods and these methods were defended over and over despite being wrong. He fought like a dog to discredit and argue with those on the other side that his method was not flawed. And in the end he never admitted that the entire method was a mistake. They then let this HS be used in every way possible despite knowing the stats behind it weren’t rock solid.

This selection of quotes does not include the strongest ‘zingers’, which come from scientists that are somewhat further afield or have made public statements that are critical of the AGW consensus.

JC reflections

So, back to the topic of the lawsuits. In light of these quotes by Ph.D scientists, does Mark Steyn have a strong defense against the charge of defamation for stating ‘fraudulent hockey stick’? This certainly looks to me like the basis of a strong defense. With regards to Steyn’s countersuit, if he makes a lot of money off this book, that would rather argue against large damages from his countersuit.

I have written many posts about Michael Mann – apart from my own concerns about the hockey stick (Hiding the Decline), I am greatly concerned about Mann’s bullying behavior inserting itself into the scientific process (collaboration, peer review, public communication). My concerns go beyond the general strategies of adversarial science, to what I regard as unethical behavior.

It is a sad state of affairs for climate science that this book had to be written (it was brought on by Michael Mann’s lawsuit – without the lawsuit, Steyn obviously wouldn’t have bothered).  At a time when the U.S. and the world’s nations are trying to put together an agreement to tackle climate change (for better or for worse), Steyn’s book reminds everyone of Climategate, why the public doesn’t trust climate scientists and aren’t buying their ‘consensus.

How will all this play out? Hard to predict, but I hope that everyone will learn that adversarial science as practiced in its pathological form by Michael Mann doesn’t ‘pay’ in the long run.

The book can be purchased at the SteynStore, or it will be available at (kindle edition available Sept 1).

August 14, 2015 Posted by | Book Review, Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science | , | 1 Comment