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NYT Plays Games with MH-17 Tragedy

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | October 15, 2015

In its single-minded propaganda campaign against Russia, The New York Times has no interest in irony, but if it had, it might note that some of the most important advances made by the Dutch Safety Board’s report on the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 came because the Russian government declassified sensitive details about its anti-aircraft weaponry.

The irony is that the Obama administration has steadfastly refused to declassify its intelligence information on the tragedy, which presumably could answer some of the key remaining mysteries, such as where the missile was fired and who might have fired it. While merrily bashing the Russians, the Times has failed to join in demands for the U.S. government to make public what it knows about the tragedy that killed 298 people on July 17, 2014.

In other words, through its hypocritical approach to this atrocity, the Times has been aiding and abetting a cover-up of crucial evidence, all the better to score some propaganda points against the Russ-kies, the antithesis of what an honest news organization would do.

In its editorial on Thursday, The Times also continues to play on the assumed ignorance of its readers by hyping the fact that the likely weapon, a Buk surface-to-air missile, was “Russian-made,” which while true, is not probative of which side fired it. Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, is armed with Russian-made weapons, too.

But that obvious fact is skirted by the Times highlighting in its lead paragraph that the plane was shot down “by a Russian-made Buk surface-to-air missile,” adding: “Even Russia, which has spent much of those [past] 15 months generating all kinds of implausible theories that put the blame … on Ukraine, and doing its best to thwart investigations, has had to acknowledge that this is what happened.”

Though some misinformed Times’ readers might be duped into finding that sentence persuasive, the reality is that Russia has long considered it likely that a Buk or other anti-aircraft missile was involved in downing MH-17. That’s why Russia declassified so many details about its Buk systems for the Dutch investigation – something governments are loath to do – and the Russian manufacturer issued a report on the likely Buk role last June.

But the Times pretends that the Russians have now been cornered with the truth, writing that Russia “now argues that the fatal missile was an older model that the Russian armed forces no longer use, and that it was fired from territory controlled by the Ukrainian government.” Yet, much of that information was provided by the Russian missile manufacturer a long time ago and was the subject of a June press conference.

Blinded by Bias

If the Times editors weren’t blinded by their anti-Russian bias, they also might have noted that the Dutch Safety Board and the Russian manufacturer of the Buk anti-missile system are in substantial agreement over the older Buk model type that apparently brought down MH-17.

Almaz-Antey, the Russian Buk manufacturer, said last June that its analysis of the plane’s wreckage revealed that MH-17 had been attacked by a “9M38M1 of the Buk M1 system.” The company’s Chief Executive Officer Yan Novikov said the missile was last produced in 1999.

The Dutch report, released Tuesday, said: “The damage observed on the wreckage in amount of damage, type of damage, boundary and impact angles of damage, number and density of hits, size of penetrations and bowtie fragments found in the wreckage, is consistent with the damage caused by the 9N314M warhead used in the 9M38 and 9M38M1 BUK surface-to-air missile.”

Also on Tuesday, the manufacturer expanded on its findings saying that the warhead at issue had not been produced since 1982 and was long out of Russia’s military arsenal, but adding that as of 2005 there were 991 9M38M1 Buk missiles and 502 9M38 missiles in Ukraine’s inventory. Company executives said they knew this because of discussions regarding the possible life-extension of the missiles.

Based on other information regarding how the warhead apparently struck near the cockpit of MH-17, the manufacturer calculated the missile’s likely flight path and firing location, placing it in the eastern Ukrainian village of Zakharchenko, a few miles south of route H21 and about four miles southwest of the town of Shakhtars’k, a lightly populated rural part of Donetsk province that the Russians claim was then under Ukrainian government control.

Calculation by the Buk manufacturer showing the likely area of the launch that took down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

Calculation by the Buk manufacturer, Almaz-Antay, showing what it considered the likely area of the launch that took down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

The area is about three miles west of the 320-square-kilometer zone that the Dutch report established as the likely area from which the missile was fired. In July 2014, control of that area was being contested although most of the fighting was occurring about 100 kilometers to the north, meaning that the southern sector was more poorly defined and open to the possibility of a mobile system crossing from one side to the other.

Almaz-Antay CEO Novikov said the company’s calculations placed the missile site in Zakharchenko with “great accuracy,” a possible firing zone that “does not exceed three to four kilometers in length and four kilometers in width.” However, Ukrainian authorities said their calculations placed the firing location farther to the east, deeper into rebel-controlled territory.

Thus, the importance of the U.S. intelligence data that Secretary of State John Kerry claimed to possess just three days after the plane was shot down. Appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on July 20, 2014, Kerry declared, “we picked up the imagery of this launch. We know the trajectory. We know where it came from. We know the timing. And it was exactly at the time that this aircraft disappeared from the radar.”

But the U.S. government has released none of its evidence on the shoot-down. A U.S. intelligence source told me that CIA analysts briefed the Dutch investigators but under conditions of tight secrecy. None of the U.S. information was included in the report and Dutch officials have refused to discuss any U.S. intelligence information on the grounds of national security.

In the weeks after the shoot-down, I was told by another source briefed by U.S. intelligence analysts that they had concluded that a rogue element of the Ukrainian government – tied to one of the oligarchs – was responsible for the attack, while absolving senior Ukrainian leaders including President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. But I wasn’t able to determine whether this U.S. analysis was a consensus or a dissident opinion.

Last October, Der Spiegel reported that German intelligence, the BND, concluded that the Russian government was not the source of the missile battery – that it had been captured from a Ukrainian military base – but the BND blamed the ethnic Russian rebels for firing it. However, a European source told me that the BND’s analysis was not as conclusive as Der Spiegel had described.

Prior to the MH-17 crash, ethnic Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine were reported to have captured a Buk system after overrunning a government air base, but Ukrainian authorities said the system was not operational, as recounted in the Dutch report. The rebels also denied possessing a functioning Buk system.

Who Has These Buks?

As for whether the 9M38 Buk system is still in the Ukrainian military arsenal, government officials in Kiev claimed to have sold their stockpile of older Buks to Georgia, but Ukraine appears to still possess the 9M38 Buk system, based on photographs of Ukrainian weapons displays. In other words, Ukrainian authorities appear to be lying about this crucial point.

It should be noted, too, that just because Russia no longer deploys the outmoded Buks doesn’t mean that it might not have some mothballed in warehouses that could be pulled out and distributed in a sub rosa fashion, although both the Ukrainian rebels and Russian officials deny this possibility. According to the Ukrainian government, the rebels were only known to have shoulder-fired “manpads” in July 2014 – and that weapon lacked the range to destroy a civilian airliner flying at 33,000 feet.

Yet, rather than delve into this important mystery, The New York Times’ editorial simply repeats the Western “group think” that took shape in the days after the MH-17 tragedy, that somehow the rebels shot down the plane with a Buk missile supplied by Russia. The other possibility that the missile was fired by some element of the Ukrainian security forces was given short-shrift despite the fact that Ukraine had moved some of its Buk batteries into eastern Ukraine presumably to shoot down possible Russian aircraft incursions.

As described in the Dutch report, this Ukrainian concern was quite real in the days before the MH-17 shoot-down. On July 16 – just one day before the tragedy – a Ukrainian SU-25 jet fighter was shot down by what Ukrainian authorities concluded was an air-to-air missile presumably fired by a Russian warplane patrolling the Russia-Ukraine border.

Thus, it would make sense that the Ukrainian air-defense forces would have moved their Buk batteries close to the border and would have been on the lookout for possible Russian intruders entering or leaving Ukrainian air space. So, one possibility is that a poorly organized Ukrainian air-defense force mistook MH-17 for a hostile Russian aircraft high-tailing it back to Russia and fired.

Another theory that I’m told U.S. intelligence analysts examined was the possibility that a rogue Ukrainian element – linked to a fiercely anti-Russian oligarch – may have hoped that President Vladimir Putin’s official plane was in Ukrainian air space en route home from a state visit to South America. Putin’s jet and MH-17 had very similar markings. But Putin used a different route and had already landed in Moscow.

A side-by-side comparison of the Russian presidential jetliner and the Malaysia Airlines plane.

A side-by-side comparison of the Russian presidential jetliner and the Malaysia Airlines plane.

A third possibility, which I’m told at least some U.S. analysts think makes the most sense, was that the attack on MH-17 was a premeditated provocation by a team working for a hard-line oligarch with the goal of getting Russia blamed and heightening Western animosity toward Putin.

Obama’s Secrets

But whatever your preferred scenario – whether you think the Russians or the Ukrainians did it – the solution to the mystery could clearly benefit from President Barack Obama doing what Putin has done: declassify relevant intelligence and defense information.

One might think that the Times’ editors would be at the forefront of demanding transparency from the U.S. government, especially since senior U.S. officials rushed out of the gate in the days after the tragedy to put the blame on the Russians. Yet, since five days after the shoot-down, the Obama administration has refused to update or refine its claims.

Earlier this year, a spokesperson for Director for National Intelligence James Clapper told me that the DNI would not provide additional information out of concern that it might influence the Dutch investigation, a claim that lacked credibility because the Dutch investigation began within a day of the MH-17 crash and the DNI issued a sketchy white paper on the case four days later.

In other words, the initial U.S. rush to judgment already had prejudiced the investigation by indicating which way the United States, a NATO ally of the Netherlands, wanted the inquiry to go: blame the Russians. Later, withholding more refined intelligence data also concealed whatever contrary analyses had evolved within the U.S. intelligence community after Kerry and the DNI had jumped to their hasty conclusions.

Yet, The New York Times took note of none of that, simply piling on the Russians again and hailing a dubious online publication called Bellingcat, which has consistently taken whatever the U.S. propaganda line is on international incidents and has systematically screwed up key facts.

In 2013, Bellingcat’s founder Eliot Higgins got the firing location wrong for the sarin gas attack outside Damascus, Syria. He foisted the blame on Bashar al-Assad’s forces in line with U.S. propaganda but it turned out that the missile’s range was way too short for his analysis to be correct. [See Consortiumnews.com’sThe Collapsing Syria-Sarin Case.”]

Then, earlier this year, Higgins fed Australia’s “60 Minutes” program wrong coordinates for the location of the so-called “Buk-getaway video” in eastern Ukraine. Though the program treated Higgins’s analysis as gospel, the images from the video and from the supposed location clearly didn’t match, leading the program to engage in a journalistic fraud to pretend otherwise. [See Consortiumnews.com’sA Reckless Stand-upper on MH-17.”]

But the Times’ editorial board simply gushed all over Bellingcat, promoting the Web site as if it’s a credible source, writing that the Dutch report “is consistent with theories advanced by the United States and Ukraine as well as evidence collected by the independent investigative website Bellingcat.com, which hold that the fatal missile was fired from territory controlled by Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine.”

The Times then distorted the findings of the Buk manufacturer to present them as somehow contradicted by the Dutch report, which substantially relied on the declassified information from the manufacturer to reach roughly the same conclusion, that the missile was an older-model Buk.

However, without irony, the Times writes, “This fact is not something Russians are likely to learn; Russian television has presented only the Kremlin’s disinformation of what is going on in Ukraine and, for that matter, Syria. … Creating an alternative reality has been a big reason for President Vladimir Putin’s boundless popularity among Russians. He sees no reason to come clean for the shooting down of the Boeing 777.”

Yet, the actual reality is that Russia has provided much more information and shown much greater transparency than President Obama and the U.S. government have. The Dutch report also ignored one of the key questions asked by Russian authorities in the days after the MH-17 shoot-down: why did Ukraine’s air defense turn on the radar used to guide Buk missiles?

But the Times remains wedded to its propaganda narrative and doesn’t want inconvenient facts to get in the way. Rather than demand that Obama “come clean” about what the U.S. intelligence agencies know about the MH-17 case, the newspaper of record chooses to mislead its readers about the facts.


Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

October 16, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

Poroshenko Ready to Make English Ukraine’s Second Official Language

Sputnik – 15.10.2015

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has proposed the establishment of two working languages ​​in Ukraine: alongside Ukrainian, the second “should rightly be English.”

The perhaps not-so-surprising proposal was made at celebrations marking the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy’s 400th anniversary, Ukrainian news agency UNIAN reported.

“Mohyla pioneered two working languages ​​- Ukrainian and English,” Poroshenko said. “I think it would be very good if in Ukraine, and not just at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, there appeared a second working language. And this language should rightly be English.”

In June Poroshenko announced that the mastery of English language should be priority for state politicians. As of October 1, knowledge of English became a prerequisite for employment in the administration of the president of Ukraine.

In his annual address to the Verkhovna Rada, Poroshenko also promised to announce 2016 as a year of learning English.

October 16, 2015 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Why Big Oil Supports a Carbon Tax, NYT Misleads Again

By David Addison | Seeking Alpha | October 14, 2015

… Internationally, many oil and gas majors which need higher energy prices have rallied around the implementation of a carbon tax. Recently, managements of Total, Shell, BP, BG Group, Repsol, Eni, and other state-run firms called for a carbon tax at a climate change conference in Paris.

While a New York Times editorial has suggested that these companies are finally experiencing the global awakening of the collective environmental consciousness, this move is patently self-serving to higher-cost producers who are struggling and will continue to struggle under a lower commodity price regime.

A tax on carbon emissions would incent utilities to shift from coal toward natural gas, thereby providing price uplift to these companies’ products. Also, such a tax would not likely cost the industry anything since regulatory costs would be passed to consumers. However, it would likely require hosts of compliance specialists, placing a disproportionate amount of stress on smaller, more thinly capitalized endeavors. Driving smaller players out of the business with increased regulation would serve two purposes: it allows the larger players to capture market share; and, it would put upward pressure on energy prices as supply would be driven out. … Full article

October 16, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | | Leave a comment

Radiation and Cancer: Risks of Leukemia in Nuclear Workers More Than Double Previous Estimate

By Ian Fairlie | CounterPunch | October 16, 2015

In 2013, I discussed several epidemiological studies providing good evidence of radiogenic risks at very low exposure levels.

A powerful new study has been published in Lancet Haematology [1] which adds to this evidence. However the study’s findings are more important than the previous studies, for several reasons.

First, it provides “strong evidence”, as stated by the authors, of a “dose-response relationship between cumulative, external, chronic, low-dose, exposures to radiation and leukaemia”.

Second, it finds radiogenic risks of leukemia among nuclear workers to be more than double the risk found in a previous similar study in 2005. The excess relative risk of leukaemia mortality (excluding workers exposed to neutrons) was 4.19 per Gy.

In 2005, a similar study [2] among nuclear workers (also excluding those exposed to neutrons) in 15 countries by several of the same authors found an ERR of 1·93 per Sv. In other words, the new study’s risk estimates are 117% higher than the older study. The clincher is that the new study’s estimated risks are much more precise than before.

Third, it confirms risks even at very low doses (mean = 1·1 mGy per year). Unlike the Japanese bomb survivors’ study, it observes risks at low dose rates rather than extrapolating them from high levels.

Fourth, it finds risks do not depend on dose rate thus contradicting the ICRP’s use of a Dose Rate Effectiveness Factor (DREF) which acts to reduce (by half) the ICRP’s published radiation risks.

Fifth, it finds radiogenic leukemia risks decline linearly with dose, contradicting earlier studies suggesting a lower, linear-quadratic relationship for leukemia. It strengthens the Linear No Threshold (LNT) model of radiogenic risks, as it now applies to leukemias as well as solid cancers.

Sixth, the study finds no evidence of a threshold below which no effects are seen (apart from zero dose).

Seventh, the study uses 90% confidence intervals and one-sided p-values. In the past, 95% intervals and two-sided p-values were often incorrectly used which had made it harder to establish statistical significance.

Explanation for change

In an earlier version of this blog posted on 29th June 2015, I’d written that the increase between the 2005 study and the present study was 50%, ie up from 1.93 to 2.96 per Gy. This was because the study’s ‘Discussion’ section specifically compared these two studies and their risks, stating the older study’s leukemia risk was smaller and less precise.

However a detailed examination of the report reveals the following sentence in the para immediately before the Discussion section:

“We assessed the effect of excluding people who had recorded neutron exposures; we showed a positive association for leukaemia … (ERR per Gy 4·19, 90% CI 1·42-7·80, 453 deaths)…”.

To make sure readers get the point, the risk is greater when neutron exposed workers are excluded. This is important because the 2005 study excluded workers exposed to neutrons. Therefore the correct comparison is between the risks for non-neutron workers, that is between 4.19 and 1.93 per Gy – an increase of 117%, rather than 50%.

I’ve written to the report’s authors about this but have not received any replies yet. I shall keep readers up-to-date on any progress.

Study’s credentials

The study’s credentials are pretty impeccable. It’s a huge study of over 300,000 nuclear workers adding up to over 8 million person years, thus ensuring its findings are statistically significant, ie with very low probability of occurring by chance.

Also, it’s an international study by 13 respected scientists from national health institutes in the US, UK, and France, as follows.

*Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US

*National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, US

*Department of Health and Human Services, US

*University of North Carolina, US

*Drexel University School of Public Health, US

*Public Health England, UK

*Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire, France

*Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology, Spain

*UN International Agency for Research on Cancer, France

Funding was provided by many institutions, including US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, US Department of Energy, US Department of Health and Human Services, Japanese Ministry of Health Labour and Welfare, French Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire, and the UK’s Public Health England.

My conclusions

This study powerfully contradicts the views of ill-informed and inexperienced journalists (including the UK writer George Monbiot) [3] and self-styled scientists who argue that radiation risks are over-estimated and even that radiation is somehow good for you.

Hormetic effects are neither found nor discussed in this study: such irrelevant effects are regarded by real scientists as beneath their consideration.

The impressive list of contributing scientists and their national institutions here should serve to make radiation risk deniers reconsider their views. This is particularly the case for US risk deniers, in view of the many US agencies and US scientists backing the study.

The study pointedly comments that:

“At present, radiation protection systems are based on a model derived from acute exposures, and assumes that the risk of leukaemia per unit dose progressively diminishes at lower doses and dose rates.”

The study shows this assumption is incorrect. The authors therefore join with WHO and UNSCEAR scientists in their views that DREFs should not be used. The question remains whether the ICRP will accept this powerful evidence and scrap their adherence to using DREFs. I advise readers not to hold their breaths.

As regards the implications of their study, the authors interestingly choose to comment – not on exposures from the nuclear industry – but from medical exposures. They state:

“Occupational and environmental sources of radiation exposure are important; however, the largest contributor to this trend is medical radiation exposure. In 1982, the average yearly dose of ionising radiation from medical exposures was about 0·5 mGy per person in the USA; by 2006, it had increased to 3·0 mGy.

“A similar pattern exists in other high-income countries: use of diagnostic procedures involving radiation in the UK more than doubled over that period and more than tripled in Australia. Because ionising radiation is a carcinogen, its use in medical practice must be balanced against the risks associated with patient exposure.

This is all correct and worrying, especially the revelation that medical radiation doses increased 6-fold in the US and doubled in the UK between 1982 and 2006. The authors add:

“This finding shows the importance of adherence to the basic principles of radiation protection – to optimise protection to reduce exposures as much as reasonably achievable and – in the case of patient exposure – to justify that the exposure does more good than harm.”

The same, of course, applies to exposures from the nuclear industry – the actual subject of their research.

Dr Ian Fairlie is an independent consultant on radioactivity in the environment. He has a degree in radiation biology from Bart’s Hospital in London and his doctoral studies at Imperial College in London and Princeton University in the US concerned the radiological hazards of nuclear fuel reprocessing. Ian was formerly a DEFRA civil servant on radiation risks from nuclear power stations. From 2000 to 2004, he was head of the Secretariat to the UK Government’s CERRIE Committee on internal radiation risks. Since retiring from Government service, he has acted as consultant to the European Parliament, local and regional governments, environmental NGOs, and private individuals.

October 16, 2015 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Nuclear Power, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , | Leave a comment

Doctors Without Borders: US Tank Forcibly Entered Afghan Hospital

Wreckage of the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, struck by U.S. airstrikes on Oct. 3, 2015.

Wreckage of the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, struck by U.S. airstrikes on Oct. 3, 2015. | Photo: Doctors Without Borders
teleSUR | October 15, 2015

The medical group Doctors Without Borders, whose hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz was bombed in a U.S. airstrike, said Thursday that a U.S tank forced its way through the gates of the compound, raising questions on whether it was a deliberate attempt to destroy evidence in a possible war crime inquiry.

The group, also known as MSF, said they were only informed after Thursday’s “intrusion” that the tank carried investigators from a joint US-Nato-Afghan team looking into the Oct. 3 attack, the Guardian reported.

The incident further violated an agreement with the medical group that they “would be given notice before each step of the procedure involving the organization’s personnel and assets.”

“Their unannounced and forced entry damaged property, destroyed potential evidence and caused stress and fear,” the group said in a statement, adding that a Doctors’ Without Borders team had arrived at the hospital earlier in the day.

The group said Tuesday that it was dealing with the bombing of its hospital as a “war crime,” saying that statements made by U.S. and Afghan officials indicate the attack was not “accidental” as some U.S. officials had claimed.

MSF International’s president, Dr. Joanne Liu, echoed similar statements made by the organization over the weekend in a new statement Tuesday.

“This attack cannot be brushed aside as a mere mistake or an inevitable consequence of war,” she wrote. “Statements from the Afghanistan government have claimed that Taliban forces were using the hospital to fire on Coalition forces. These statements imply that Afghan and U.S. forces working together decided to raze to the ground a fully functioning hospital, which amounts to an admission of a war crime.”

The United States military has contradicted earlier statements about the massacre that killed 22 civilians, including international MSF doctors and children, as staff pleaded with the U.S. military to stop.

October 16, 2015 Posted by | Deception, War Crimes | , , , | 3 Comments

NYPD Cop Convicted of Falsifying Arrest Report on New York Times Photographer

By Carlos Miller | PINAC | October 15, 2015

An NYPD cop who arrested a New York Times photographer, accusing him of interfering with an investigation by blinding him with his flash, was convicted today on a felony count of falsifying records.

It turned out, Robert Stolarik’s camera did not even have a built-in flash. Nor did he have an external flash on him when arrested.

Not that it would have been illegal.

Nevertheless, New York City police officer Michael Ackermann swore in his arrest report that Stolarik’s repeated use of his flash ended up “blinding him and preventing him from performing his duties.”

He also claimed that Stolarik “violently resisted being handcuffed,” even cutting another officer in the hand during the struggle.

The NYPD also released a statement claiming that Stolarik used his camera to “inadvertently” strike an officer in the face.

The way they described it, Stolarik was an out-of-control madman, using his flash to blind officers before striking them with his camera – just the type of behavior you would expect from a veteran photojournalist with more than two decades of experience.

The truth is, it was the officers who were violent with Stolarik as reported by the New York Times on August 5, 2012, the day after his arrest.

The photographer, Robert Stolarik, 43, who has worked regularly for The Times for more than a decade, was charged with obstructing government administration and with resisting arrest. He was taking photographs of a brewing street fight at McClellan Street and Sheridan Avenue in the Concourse neighborhood.

Mr. Stolarik was taking photographs of the arrest of a teenage girl about 10:30 p.m., when a police officer instructed him to stop doing so. Mr. Stolarik said he identified himself as a journalist for The Times and continued taking pictures. A second officer appeared, grabbed his camera and “slammed” it into his face, he said.

Mr. Stolarik said he asked for the officers’ badge numbers, and the officers then took his cameras and dragged him to the ground; he said that he was kicked in the back and that he received scrapes and bruises to his arms, legs and face.

The Police Department said in a statement that officers had been trying to disperse the crowd and had given “numerous lawful orders” for both the crowd and Mr. Stolarik to move back, but that he tried to push forward, “inadvertently” striking an officer in the face with his camera.

The police said that Mr. Stolarik then “violently resisted being handcuffed” and that, in the process, a second officer was cut on the hand. A video of the episode taken by one of the reporters who was with Mr. Stolarik shows Mr. Stolarik face down on the sidewalk, beneath a huddle of about six officers.

Stolarik ended up spending a night in jail on charges of obstructing government administration and resisting arrest, the usual contempt-of-cop charges issued by NYPD.

Now it’s Ackermann who is facing four years in prison after today’s conviction in a bench trial. He will be sentenced on December 2.

During the trial, Ackermann claimed he made an honest mistake when he lied about Stolarik’s use of the flash.

“I keep going over it and trying to figure out how I could have made that big of a mistake,” he testified, according to the New York Daily News.

What he really meant to say is that he was unable to figure out why the Bronx District Attorney would file charges on him when filing false reports is an everyday occurrence for the NYPD and is usually ignored by prosecutors.

Speaking to reporters outside the courtroom today, Stolarik pointed out the irony in the outcome.

According to Gothamist :

“I’m overwhelmed, and I’m emotional,” and added that the “DA took this case very seriously. Justice has been served. He was comfortable sending me to prison to ruin my career and I think that turned around on him, he was charged with a felony and it ruined his career.”

Ackermann’s career is definitely over. At least with the NYPD, even though he is still officially a cop. He might as well go into fiction writing considering he has a knack for it.

But it would still be surprising if he spends a day in jail. Cops rarely serve time for the crimes they commit, even the ones who commit sexual abuse.

The incident took place on August 4, 2012 as Stolarik was covering the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk routine and came across a group of officers attempting to arrest a 15-year-old girl.

One cop placed her hand in front of his lens to prevent him from shooting. When he showed her his credentials – not that it should matter in public – another cop walked up and shoved the camera into his face.

When he demanded names and badge numbers, several cops pounced on him and began beating and kicking him.

The video recorded by another New York Times reporter that shows him laying underneath a pile of cops apparently has not been released to the public, but we will post it if it is ever released.

After spending the night in jail, it took another three weeks for them to return his camera gear, which included a Nikon D4, as well as his NYPD-issued press credentials, making it impossible for him to continue working during that time.

The National Press Photographers Association, specifically General Counsel Mickey Osterreicher, was instrumental in getting the NYPD to return his items as well as having Ackermann investigated by both the district attorney and internal affairs.

This is what Osterreicher had to say in a statement emailed to Photography is Not a Crime :

I am very pleased to see that justice has been served by the verdict in this case. Robert Stolarik should have never been arrested for exercising his constitutional rights as a journalist cover a story of great public concern. Credit goes to Robert for standing up for his rights and the rights of all of us. I also commend the Bronx District Attorney and ADA Jacoub Pishoy for prosecuting this case. I also think we should acknowledge that the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB) took this case very seriously from the start and helped provide some of the evidence needed to obtain this conviction. I hope it will send a clear message to police officers to stop interfering, harassing and arresting citizens and journalists for doing nothing more than photographing or recording on public streets.

We also hope this sends a clear message to the NYPD and the rest of the cops in this country who have long become accustomed to falsifying charges, not only against photographers, but against anybody who dares question their authority – including the ones we wrote about earlier today.

October 16, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment

Study: Tasers Are Not Nearly as Safe for Community as Police Proclaim

By Alexandra J. Gratereaux | PINAC | October 15, 2015

As the Berkeley City Council in California toys around with the idea of allowing cops to carry tasers, a new study published by Stanford Law School earlier this week questions the effectiveness of tasers and other electronic control weapons.

The Berkeley Police Department is pushing the use of tasers in its department, but cannot move forward without the green light from the city council.

The new study questions if the use of tasers actually reduces the use of lethal force by cops.

Or do they just allow cops to torture suspects, whether they end up killing them or not?

The law school’s Justice Center examined 150 studies conducted on tasers, and other similar weapons, and came to the conclusion that the safety measures and effectiveness of taser use among police officials is not as clear as it has been portrayed to be in past years when cops would claim tasers reduced lethal force.

First, the study found that tasers are mostly used in the wrong situations, such as when subjects are on drugs and alcohol, or have mental illnesses and physical disabilities. While the study says tasers have been found effective in minimizing danger for cops, the same cannot be said for the suspects.

The study highlights how taser prongs usually have to be medically removed – a finding most police departments overlook.

“Our own conclusion is that, while the literature suggests that [electronic control weapons] may have benefits, these benefits are easily overstated,” the authors of the study told Vice News.

“Moreover, realizing those potential benefits – such as reducing the rate of injuries to officers and possibly suspects – may require accepting the possibility that vulnerable populations are more likely to be exposed to the painful effects of [electronic control weapons.]”

Back in 2005, another study conducted by The Stanford Criminal Justice Center had similar findings.

“Tasers pose some grave risks that warrant significant research and study. Not enough is known about the risks of taser use to children, the elderly, pregnant women, or those under the influence of drugs,” the document read.

“From what little scientific research exists, it appears that prolonged and/or multiple use of a taser dramatically increases the risk of ventricular fibrillation and consequent cardiac arrest, even in healthy adults. In addition, there appears to be a risk of vision impairment if a subject is tasered in the eye, and of seizure if a subject is tasered in the head. It is unclear whether there are medical risks associated with the barbs that are left in a subject’s body once the probes are removed. There also appear to be permanent, if not fatal, dermatological impairments associated with the use of a taser in stun mode.”

Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan disagrees and is urging the council to give his department the green light on taser use.

“The combined body of evidence and decades-long experience leads me to believe that he availability of [electronic control weapons] is in the best interests of our employees and our community,” Meehan told the publication. “I would not say this if I did not think it was in the best interests of both.”

However, a report published just over a year ago stated that there were 634 taser deaths between 2001 and 2014, an average of 48 deaths a year. Or almost one death a week.

Last month, we published a horrid video of a woman named Natasha McKenna who died in a Virginia jail after she was repeatedly tasered.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics 81 percent of local police departments in the U.S. are using tasers or similar weapons.

October 16, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , | Leave a comment

No Eric Garner or Tamir Rice: FBI fails to adequately count civilian deaths by police

RT | October 16, 2015

An the old saying goes: “lies, damned lies, and statistics.” It may not quite apply to a new FBI report on officer-involved shootings, but the phrase expresses some of the frustrations felt by activists on behalf of the victims who went uncounted.

Released Thursday, the FBI’s figures for police-on-civilian deadly shootings lacked adequate substance and included errors, according to a report by the Guardian. The data was collected on a voluntary basis from local police departments, but 99 percent of them did not volunteer any information.

The FBI counted 439 police killings for the year 2014 based on reports from 224 local law enforcement agencies, of which there are 18,000 in the country. That’s up from 392 homicides reported in 2009, but the number of reporting agencies also increased from 196 in the same year. No trend can be surmised from the data.

Notorious cases, including Eric Garner from New York City, and Ohio’s Tamir Rice and John Crawford, were not included. Information regarding whether or not the victim was armed was also not included. Other methods and mistakes also complicate any goal of arriving at an accurate estimate.

The reason for not including Garner, the man choked to death by an New York Police Department (NYPD) officer, was simply because the NYPD has not participated in such FBI data gathering since 2006. The NYPD, the nation’s largest police force, promises to release details on officers’ deadly use of force next year.

Garner’s daughter, Erica, told the Guardian she was “outraged but not shocked” at this missing tally from the FBI.

“It’s just another part of the cover-up and erasing of his murder from the record,” she said. “It says to the NYPD and the city and state of New York that my father’s life doesn’t matter.”

Rice, the 12-year-old holding an airsoft gun who was shot in under two seconds by Cleveland police, was not included, and neither was Crawford, the man shot by Beavercreek police in a Walmart while holding a BB gun carried by the store. Both police departments did not participate in the FBI report.

Meanwhile, some cases were recorded incorrectly. Darrien Hunt, a 22-year-old killed by Sarasota Springs police in Utah while running away with a replica sword, was listed as the killer even though he was the one who died. A knife or blade was jotted down as the deadly weapon, even though it was a police officer who shot him. Furthermore, the officer and Hunt were described as acquaintances.

The victim’s mother, Susan, told the Guardian, “There has been so much wrong with the entire incident.”

Several outlets are attempting to keep track of police shootings or non-shootings that end in civilian deaths. The Guardian’s “The Counted” aggregates all deaths at the hands of police and has counted 908 so far in 2015. The Washington Post counts 776 shot dead by police this year.

Last week, FBI Director James Comey told a group of politicians and law enforcement officials that in the same way movie tickets are counted or cases of the flu are counted, so should police killings. “It’s ridiculous – embarrassing and ridiculous – that we can’t talk about crime in the same way, especially in the high-stakes incidents when your officers have to use force,” Comey said.

In a separate 2014 FBI report, 1.16 million incidents of violent crime were reported in 2013. Violent crime hadn’t been that low in 35 years. The population has grown nearly one and a half times in that period, but police-on-civilian killings could be a type of violent crime on the rise. Until there are reliable statistics, no one knows.

October 16, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , , | Leave a comment

Rabbis: Killing captive Palestinian resistance fighters ‘a religious duty’

shmuel-eliyahu

Chief Rabbi of the city of Safed, Shmuel Eliyahu
MEMO | October 16, 2015

Rabbis have declared the killing of Palestinian resistance fighters “a religious duty”, Israeli media reported.

Israeli news website Walla reported that right-wing rabbis replied to questions including: “Am I allowed to kick the insurgent, hit him or shoot him in order to kill him after he has been arrested or is this prohibited?”

Rabbi Rav Benzion Mutzafi replied: “It is not only desirable to do so, but it is a religious duty that you hold his head down to the ground and hit him until his last breath.”

Mutzafi expressed anger towards Rabbi David Staph’s response. Staph said it is prohibited for people to attack a Palestinian perpetrator of an operation after he has been injured or when he is posing no danger. Mutzafi responded: “Do not listen to Staph because those who have mercy on the cruel will end up being cruel toward the righteous.”

Chief Rabbi of the city of Safed, Shmuel Eliyahu called on all Israeli police officers and soldiers who allow Palestinian resistance fighters to live after their arrest:

“It is prohibited to keep the vandal alive after the operation, because if he is left alive, there is a fear that he would be released and then he would kill others,” Eliyahu wrote on Facebook.

October 16, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israeli forces in Jerusalem attack Palestinians at random

International Solidarity Movement | October 16, 2015

Occupied Palestine – The Old City of al-Quds (Jerusalem) in the last few weeks has witnessed an explosion of Israeli forces’ presence, supposedly for ‘security reasons’. But having a closer look at – or just opening your eyes for – the multitude of restrictions, hindrances and fears aroused by this, proves that all of this has nothing to do with ‘security’ – but everything with instilling fear in the Palestinians still resisting the manifold ways the Israeli forces are trying to expel them not only from the Old City of Jerusalem, but all of Jerusalem in general. … Full article

October 16, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 3 Comments

Black Sites Revealed: UK Journos Uncover Chilling Details of CIA Prisons

Sputnik – October 16, 2015

A group of journalists and a human rights watchdog in the UK have put forth an unprecedented array of data on the CIA’s notorious secret detention centers, where terrorist suspects were kept and tortured in the early-2000s.

The investigation reveals the real names of detainees for the first time, as well as the locations they were kept in at the behest of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) around the world and the exact dates of events connected to their detention and torture.

In late 2014, a 480-page-long summary on the CIA detention centers was published by the US Senate Intelligence Committee after having been heavily redacted by the secret service. It is only a prelude to the original 6,000-page report, which remains secret.

It took nine months for the independent UK-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, in cooperation with The Rendition Project to reveal what was cut off from the government report using open sources and investigative techniques. All the data they discovered is available online.

“Although many published accounts of individual journeys through the black site network exist, this is the first comprehensive portrayal of the system’s inner dynamics from beginning to end,” the Bureau of Investigative Journalism stated.

The testimonies of former prisoners, flight records, commercial contracts, court cases, declassified government documents, information leaks and NGO reports, along with media coverage, were put together and compiled into accessible interactive databases and maps revealing the locations of the CIA black sites.

The countries that participated in the CIA’s terrorist detainee interrogation and transfer program had full knowledge of what was being done within their borders, former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell told Sputnik earlier this year.

In May, the European Court of Human Rights forced the government of Poland to pay approximately $250,000 in reparations to two terrorist suspects who had reported being tortured at a CIA black site in Poland.

According to reports, the United States gave Poland and other countries millions of dollars to allow the CIA to operate a detention center within their borders in 2002 and 2003.

Morell noted that the countries hosting CIA sites supported the program “”because they thought that we would be able to keep all of this secret.”

“This was facilitated, supported and was very closely monitored at the highest level of the United States government, up to and including the White House,” former senior executive at the National Security Agency (NSA) and whistleblower Thomas Drake commented to Sputnik earlier.

The 2014 report produced by the US Senate provided official documentation of numerous incidents of torture, and so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” used against enemy combatants in US-controlled detention facilities. Little has been revealed about the foreign sites or the practices there.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, then the chair of the Intelligence Committee, released the report’s 480-page executive summary, over objections from CIA and White House officials.

After the release in December, the US government publicized 27 pages of interview notes compiled by lawyers for Guantanamo detainee Majid Khan in which he described his torture.

Khan said interrogators poured ice water on his genitals, videotaped him naked and repeatedly touched his “private parts” – details which were not described in the Senate report.

A month after the summary’s release, in January 2015, the government said it had issued new classification rules that permitted only the release of “general allegations of torture,” and “information regarding the conditions of confinement.”

But, they said, the names of CIA employees and locations of secret CIA “black sites” could not be released.

Later, the US government blocked the release of 116 pages of notes detailing the torture another Guantanamo Bay detainee, Abu Zubaydah, says he endured while in CIA custody, defense lawyers said in September.

Zubaydah, a 44-year-old Saudi national, has been held in Guantanamo for nine years despite not ever being charged with a crime.


Read more: Torture Is Still Taking Place Within US Prisons – CIA Whistleblower

October 16, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sometimes People Fight Back: 
Amer Jubran Names His Torturers

By Lana Habash | CounterPunch | October 16, 2015

When Amer Jubran reported that he had been tortured by Jordan’s General Intelligence Directorate (Jordan’s secret police or mukhabarat) while in detention in Jordan in 2014, no one was surprised. For years, human rights groups have cited the Jordanian government’s abysmal human rights record. Violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), of which Jordan is a signatory, have continued with impunity at every level of what is supposed to be Jordan’s “justice system.”

Amer Jubran is a Jordanian citizen of Palestinian descent. He is an internationally known activist and speaker who has written about the rights of Palestinians and against unjust policies of the US and Israel in the Arab world. The Jordanian government violently arrested and detained Jubran in May, 2014 and he was later sentenced to ten years in prison in July, 2015. His verdict and sentence are currently being appealed in Jordan’s Court of Cassation. Amer Jubran’s experiences as a political prisoner highlight the human rights abuses for which Jordan is best known:

1) Arrest without a warrant;

2) Incommunicado detention for 2 months;

3) No access to legal counsel for at least 2 months while in detention;

4) Torture including forced stress positions, sleep deprivation, beatings, 72 to 120 hour interrogation sessions, and threats to family members;

5) Forced confessions obtained through torture that the defendant was not even permitted to read before signing;

6) Charges that include “committing acts that threaten to harm relations with a foreign government” based on a law promulgated one month after his arrest and that effectively criminalizes speech or any expression of protest directed at a foreign government;

7) A trial in Jordan’s State Security Court, a military tribunal with no judicial independence (the UN  has called for its abolition since 1994); and

8) The State Security Court ruling on July 29, 2015 which states openly that the Court is “not obliged to discuss defense’s evidence presented by defense attorneys since accepting prosecution’s evidence automatically implies rejection of defense’s evidence” and relies solely on the forced confessions obtained through torture that Jubran and all his co-defendants recanted during trial.

What is disturbing is that Jubran’s case is not the exception, but rather the rule in Jordan’s State Security Court system.  Inès Osman, Legal Officer at Alkarama Foundation states, “The Jordanian special courts continue to rely heavily on confessions extracted under torture, which, added to their lack of independence, often leads to the arbitrary sentencing of people like Amer.”

But this is not just the story of Jordanian prisoners either. It is the story of the thousands of Arabs and Muslims who continue to be detained illegally by proxy governments of the US and Israel, for the US and Israel.

The involvement of foreign governments in Jubran’s detention is not mere speculation. Jubran was told by his GID interrogators that the outcome of his arrest and detention would be determined by the GID’s “American and Israeli friends.” During his interrogation, Jubran was questioned about his friends in the US, and when Jubran asked why, he was told that the information was for the GID and their “friends in the States.” Even the nature of the charges that Jubran finally received months after he was arrested points to an arrest at the behest of foreign governments. A review of Jubran’s activism and writing clearly show that his efforts were not directed at Jordan’s king or the Jordanian government and certainly involved no threat to the people of Jordan. Jubran’s charges involved alleged threats to only two entities: the US and Israel. The charges included “planning attacks” on American soldiers in Jordan (although the Jordanian government had denied the presence of American soldiers in Jordan during the alleged period) and affiliation with Hizballah, an organization that poses no direct threat to Jordanian citizens or the royal family, but is the only organization that poses a threat to American and Israeli interests in the region. Though Jubran has expressed his respect for Hizballah, he denies any affiliation and has stated that all the charges against him are false.

What is compelling about Jubran’s case is that he knows the names of those who tortured him. And the reason Jubran knows those names underlines the absolute confidence that the Jordanian government has in the State Security Court to act as a rubber stamp for the government’s agenda. There is not even the need for the pretense of a fair system. Coerced confessions of different co-defendants carried identical phrasing and were literally edited several times throughout the course of the trial to serve the needs of the prosecution. Jubran discovered the names of his torturers because they were the first five witnesses for the prosecution. In a recent statement by Jubran on October 10, 2015, he names two of the torturers: Colonel Habes Rizk (who threatened Jubran with being disappeared) and Captain Motaz Ahmad Abdurrahman (who threatened to assault Jubran’s wife to get Jubran to cooperate and also physically tortured Jubran). (See transcript of Jubran’s October 10th statement here).

Impunity for torturers is dependent on a system that permits those who torture to remain anonymous. Though it may benefit repressive regimes to advertise what can happen to you if you are criminalized, it certainly doesn’t benefit those regimes for the names of those doing the dirty work  to be common knowledge. Anonymity is the main source of protection for those who torture. It is what permits them to “dissolve into the mist of the system.” (St. Clair, When Torturers Walk, Counterpunch, March, 2015 ). But the Jordanian government’s hubris in the trial of Amer Jubran threw a wrench into their own plans. The government was so confident in its ability to intimidate that they saw no risk in having the torturers testify at the trial. They didn’t calculate on Jubran naming them publicly.

Sometimes people fight back.

Jubran has taken great personal risks to expose Captain Adurrahman and Colonel Rizk, and Jubran has already experienced retaliation within the prison for speaking out. It is our job as those not held captive by Jordan’s penal system, to demand and assure that Jubran at long last receives justice, and that the people responsible for his torture be held accountable for their crimes. As long as the torturers can still do their jobs with impunity, the Jordanian government will continue to play a central role in the US and Israel’s geopolitical agenda for the region– playing the henchman to oppress their own people.

More details about the case of Amer Jubran can be found at freeamer.wordpress.com .

Lana Habash is a Palestinian physician living in Boston, MA. She can be reached at defense@amerjubrandefense.org.

October 16, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | Leave a comment