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BBC Caught Peddling Baseless ‘Rapidly Warming Arctic’ Theory

BBC perspective on Arviat polar bears – those not included in the last mark-recapture study

By Susan Crockford | Polar Bear Science |

In a polite but misleading article today in a BBC magazine (The polar bears are coming to town) about the relationship of polar bears and Inuit in Arviat, Western Hudson Bay, there is no mention of the on-going feud between Nunavut Inuit and Canadian polar bear scientists regarding invasive research.

Nor is there a mention of the fact that according to the most recent research, there has been no trend in sea ice conditions since 2001.

Find Arviat on the map of Western Hudson Bay study area provided by Lunn and colleagues (2013, 2014) in their mark-recapture study report (below) discussed in detail in my last post. Area “A” – where Arviat is located – was not included in the last mark-recapture survey because Nunavut won’t allow invasive research on polar bears.

Lunn et al. 2013, 2014. Map of study area.

Lunn et al. 2013, 2014. Map of study area.

The issue of the invasive research involved in polar bear mark-recapture studies around Churchill, Manitoba (chasing bears with helicopters, drugging them, extracting a tooth, tattooed, and attaching satellite radio collars or ear tags), has been so strenuously objected to by the Inuit of Nunavut that they have refused to allow the necessary field research permits for these activities (previous posts here, here, and here). See also the guest post by Kelsey Eliasson Invasive Research is Alive and Well in Canada

Arviat is in Nunavut and so mark-recapture work was not permitted there in 2011 – which is why Lunn and colleagues could not include those bears in their survey. Lunn et al. did not mention this conflict in their government report (2013) or in the version of it that is destined for publication (2014). They offered no reason why they did not survey in the Nunavut portion of Western Hudson Bay (Area A), which was included in the aerial survey conducted by Stapleton and colleagues (2014) and previous mark-recapture studies.

The author of today’s BBC essay (Irish anthropologist Martina Tyrrell) seems not to know about the invasive research issue or the lack of trend in sea ice conditions revealed in the mark-recapture study report (Lunn et al. 2013), because this is what she said about polar bear visits to Arviat:

“Over the past decade, however, encounters have been on the increase. Camping south of the community in summer is no longer safe, and autumn berry picking – an important subsistence activity usually undertaken by women and children – is now fraught with danger. Bears increasingly wander the streets of Arviat, particularly in late autumn.

At this time of year, regular announcements of bear sightings are made on local community FM radio, schools are sometimes closed early and the usually lively streets are eerily quiet. Halloween trick-or-treating, once so wild and fun-filled, has been all but wiped out, for fear of unwanted encounters not with ghosts or demons but with wandering bears.

What is driving this change in the polar bears’ behaviour?

Many Arviarmiut blame polar bear tourism in neighbouring Churchill – 250km to the south – for encouraging the animals to look for food in human settlements.

But there are other theories. Some Inuit think the bear population in the region is growing. Many scientists, on the other hand, put the blame on habitat loss – according to this theory it’s the desperation of hungry bears facing decreased ice seasons in a rapidly warming Arctic that leads them to approach the town. They have always gathered on the coastline at this time of year, awaiting the formation of the sea ice that is their winter hunting ground, but usually at a greater distance.” [my bold]

Read the rest here.

One of those “theories” is easily refuted by the Lunn et al. report (2013, 2014; Fig. 5): there has been no trend in sea ice breakup or freeze-up of Western Hudson Bay sea ice since 2001. Just the usual year-to-year variation, which can be fairly large:

Lunn et al 2013 breakup freeze up dates marked

[Observations since then have been consistent with that conclusion, for both breakup dates and freeze-up]

Therefore, there may simply be more bears than previously – or Arviat is being visited by more bears as a result of the increased polar bear tourism in Churchill or the increased vigilance of their Polar Bear Alert program. Either way, the sea ice “theory” (see graph below from Lunn et al. 2013) can be ruled out.

References

Lunn, N.J., Regehr, E.V., Servanty, S., Converse, S., Richardson, E. and Stirling, I. 2013. Demography and population assessment of polar bears in Western Hudson Bay, Canada. Environment Canada Research Report. 26 November 2013. PDF HERE

Lunn, N.J., Servanty, S., Regehr, E.V., Converse, S.J., Richardson, E. and Stirling, I. 2014. Demography and population assessment of polar bears in Western Hudson Bay, Canada. Environment Canada Research Report. July 2014. PDF HERE [This appears to be the version submitted for publication]

Stapleton S., Atkinson, S., Hedman, D., and Garshelis, D. 2014. Revisiting Western Hudson Bay: using aerial surveys to update polar bear abundance in a sentinel population. Biological Conservation 170:38-47. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320713004618#

October 18, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , | 2 Comments

The Imaginary Cuban Troops in Syria

By Matt Peppe | Just the Facts Blog | October 17, 2015

Fair-and-balanced Fox News reported on Wednesday that “Cuban military operatives reportedly have been spotted in Syria, where sources believe they are advising President Bashar al-Assad’s soldiers and may be preparing to man Russian-made tanks to aid Damascus in fighting rebel forces backed by the U.S.” Fox’s claim of an imaginary enemy alliance relies on two sources: the University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies and an anonymous U.S. official.

The source at the Miami Institute indicated that “An Arab military officer at the Damascus airport reportedly witnessed two Russian planes arrive there with Cuban military personnel on board. When the officer questioned the Cubans, they told him they were there to assist Assad because they are experts at operating Russian tanks.”

It is unclear what nationality the “Arab” officer was. Perhaps, said Arab determined the people aboard the Russian plane were Cubans because he saw them smoking cigars and drinking mojitos. The Cuban soldiers then volunteered – supposedly – they were “there to assist Assad” because of their expertise manning Russian tanks. However improbable this may seem to an unbiased observer, the source from the Miami Institute said that “it doesn’t surprise me.”

The supposed U.S. official – who Fox grants anonymity to without giving a reason why – related “evidence” from “intelligence reports” that Cuban troops “may” have trained in Russia and “may have” come to Syria in Russian planes. Sounds legit.

Despite the thinness of the report’s sourcing and the improbability of its content, other news organizations were quick to parrot its claims. Spanish newspaper ABC noted the next day that media from Germany to Argentina to the Middle East had echoed the Fox News report, while ABC did the same themselves.

By Friday, the story had gained enough traction that it was raised at a White House briefing. In a response that should have been enough to put the story to rest, the White House Press Secretary said “we’ve seen no evidence to indicate that those reports are true.”

But a few hours later, the Daily Beast had definitively declared in a headline that: “Cuba Is Intervening in Syria to Help Russia. It’s Not the First Time Havana’s Assisted Moscow.”

Progressive concern troll James Bloodworth turned Fox’s rumors into fact and wrote that “Not for the first time Cuban forces are doing Russia’s dirty work, this time in Syria… Obama has been holding his hand out in a gesture of goodwill to America’s adversaries only for them to blow him a raspberry back in his face – while standing atop a pile of Syrian corpses.”

In reality, Obama’s “gesture of goodwill” is little more than behaving less overtly hostile after decades of American aggression against Cuba and Iran. If you are choking someone unprovoked and you loosen your grip, it is far from a gesture of goodwill.

Bloodworth also tries to make an historical argument that Cuba’s (imaginary) military actions in Syria are consistent with their “bloody” interventions elsewhere. He decries “Cuban terror in Ethiopia” that resulted in hundreds of thousands of people being killed. “The tragedy was largely a consequence of the policies pursued by the Communist dictatorship that ruled Ethiopia at the time – a regime propped up by Cuba and the Soviet Union.”

In 1977, Somalia had invaded Ethiopia in an attack that “had been encouraged by ambivalent signals from Washington,” according to historian Piero Gleijeses in his book Visions of Freedom. [1] Initially reluctant to become involved, Fidel Castro finally agreed to Ethiopian requests to send troops to repel the Somali invasion.

Gleijeses found in his extensive review of formerly classified military documents that Cuba’s motives in aiding Ethiopia were sincere:

With hindsight, we know that Mengistu’s policies resulted in disaster, but this was not clear in 1977: though the process was undeniably bloody, the Ethiopian junta had decreed a radical agrarian reform and taken unprecedented steps to foster the cultural rights of the non-Amhara population… The evidence indicates that the Cubans intervened because they believed, as Cuban intelligence stated in March 1977, that ‘the social and economic measures adopted by Ethiopia’s leadership are the most progressive we have seen in any underdeveloped country since the triumph of the Cuban revolution.’ [2] In addition to correcting the record on Ethiopia, Gleijeses’ study also serves to set the record straight on Cuba’s historical modus operandi in its military interventions abroad. Cuba did maintain a large military presence in Angola for nearly 15 years, starting in 1975.

Castro first sent troops in November 1975 after Angolan President Agostinho Neto warned of a South African invasion of the country already underway which would inevitably topple the nascent government without outside support. Cuba agreed to send soldiers to Angola right away. Several months later, they would repel the apartheid army back to Pretoria. They remained in Angola at Neto’s bequest to prevent further incursions from the racist South African army into the country’s sovereign territory.

At the same time, there was an ongoing civil war between Neto’s MPLA, the largest and most popular of the guerilla groups, and the South African and American-backed UNITA guerillas led by former Portuguese collaborator Jonas Savimbi.

Castro was adamant that Cuban troops would be responsible for preventing a South African invasion, while Angolan troops should deal with their own internal conflict. In meetings with Neto, Castro “kept hammering away on the need to fight the bandits … He explained to us that the fight against the bandits was necessarily and without question the responsibility of the Angolans, that we could not wage this war, that it was their war.” [3]

Cuba’s position during the Angolan conflict is consistent with the diplomatic approach they have repeatedly espoused in Syria, that the Syrian conflict is a domestic problem for the Syrian people and government to resolve themselves, while the international community works to achieve a peaceful solution.

“Cuba reiterates that international cooperation, based on the principles of objectivity, impartiality and non-selectivity, is the only way to effectively promote and protect all human rights,” Cuban representative to the UN Human Rights Council Rodolfo Reyes said at a meeting in Switzerland. He added that “Cuba is confident of the capacity of the Syrian people and government to solve their domestic problems without foreign interference.”

Unreliable Sources

That the Fox News could cause such a stir is a testament to the refusal of mainstream news organizations to verify sources. In all of the iterations of the “Cuban troops in Syria” fantasy, there are no new sources cited. The original Fox News report cites one anonymous U.S. official who may, or may not, even exist. The only source on record with their incredulous claims is someone from the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies (ICCAS) at the University of Miami.

ICCAS is notorious for its reactionary, anti-Communist politics revered among the fanatically right-wing Cuban and Cuban-American population in Miami. Their academic research includes a conspiracy theory that appears to implicate Fidel Castro in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Another ICCAS report claims “the often-repeated view in many countries that the United States is an evil power, guilty for much of the problems and sufferings of the developing world, is owed in great part to the propaganda efforts of Fidel Castro” – not, rather, to decades of direct U.S. military intervention; profligate support to fascist military dictatorships; and predatory, neo-colonial lending policies that demand neoliberal structural adjustment programs which funnel public assets and resources to creditor interests, at the expense of the employment, health and well-being of the vast majority of local populations.

ICCAS is also home to the Cuba Transition Project whose mission is “to study and make recommendations for the reconstruction of Cuba once the post-Castro transition begins in earnest.” CTP acknowledges on its Web site that “the project was established in 2002 and supported by grants from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) until 2010.” It’s funding indicates it is at least indirectly an arm of the U.S. government’s destabilization and subversion efforts dedicated to regime change of the politically and economically independent Cuban government.

Cuban Prensa Latina reporter in Syria Miguel Fernández noted that ICCAS has reported six or seven times since 2006 that Fidel Castro has died. He suggested reports such as those originating with ICCAS about Cuban troops in Syria were part of the campaigns of reactionary groups opposed to normalization to tarnish the new relations between Cuba and the United States.

The Cuban Embassy in Damascus reportedly “laughed” at the report of Cuban troops in Syria, and told Sputnik News : “It’s pure lunacy. It is as if they were claiming that Russia had sent its troops to Madagascar to protect lemurs.”

Despite claims of Cuban troops in Syria contradicting Cuba’s stated policy and historical modus operandi, and the fact that now four days have passed without a single piece of corroborating evidence to the laughable Fox News report, the imaginary Cuban troops in Syria are likely to morph into more outrageous fantasies of media who have shown themselves primarily interested in fabricating tales of intrigue about America’s evil enemies rather than reporting actual verifiable facts.

References

[1] Gleijeses, Piero. Visions of Freedom: Havana, Washington, Pretoria, and the Struggle for Southern Africa, 1976-1991. The University of North Carolina Press, 2013. Kindle edition.

[2] Ibid.

[3] as quoted in Gleijeses, 2013

October 18, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Now Dawning On The Washington Post: Scientific Consensus Not Worth The Paper It’s Printed On

By P Gosselin | No Tricks Zone | October 18, 2015

A few days ago the online Washington Post had an excellent feature story by Peter Whorisky on the long-held belief that food products rich in saturated fats, like whole milk, were a risk to human health. It turns out that this decades-long belief, once backed by a “overwhelming consensus” among scientists, is now appearing to have been mortally wrong.

Science lied, people died

Unfortunately it took the science decades to realize it and government agencies responsible for issuing dietary guidelines still aren’t yet prepared to move to revamp the dietary guidelines as necessary. Meanwhile tens of millions worldwide have died prematurely of protracted, horrible deaths stemming from them following the faulty nutritional guidelines.

Five decades long nutritional scientists, every medical institution, among them the American Heart Association and the Academy of Sciences, all touted the high carb, low-fat diet. And five decades long they were wrong. It took a global epidemic of diabetes and heart disease to get the message across. And finally the media are catching up – though grudgingly: Whorisky pretty much keeps the focus on whole milk only, and away from meat, eggs and other healthy foods we have been told not to eat.

The WaPo writes:

Scientists who tallied diet and health records for several thousand patients over ten years found, for example, that contrary to the government advice, people who consumed more milk fat had lower incidence of heart disease.

Why the focus only on milk? Why not on meat, eggs, bacon and other sources rich in animal fat? If you are going to admit you were wrong, then do it slowly and hope it doesn’t blow up.

The new medical and nutritional findings are not only a huge embarrassment for the government and medical institutions, but may also be a huge dilemma for the media’s much beloved environmental movement, which long has been touting granola diets as a sustainable way to nourish humans. A renewed shift to animal products is not exactly the direction the planet-saving vegans and environmentalists want us to be on.

According to Marcia Otto, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Texas:

 What we have learned over the last decade is that certain foods that are high in fat seem to be beneficial.”

Whorisky writes that government bureaucrats are now unsure about how to proceed with revising dietary recommendations. Suddenly and profoundly changing the long-held guidelines likely is not going to go over well with a public that already distrusts government and could even possibly open the government to lawsuits. At any rate it would be a major blow to credibility.

An interesting aspect of Whorisky’s piece is that the media and governments make it sound like all of this is new stuff. It is not. Decades-long a poorly funded minority of experts insisted that the nutritional science behind the lipid hypothesis had been weak and even faulty, and should never be made into dietary guidelines. But these skeptics were defunded, ridiculed and silenced; their science never saw the light of day. It turns out these skeptics had been right all along.

“Fragile hypothesis” becomes “treatment dogma”

Whorisky brings up the 7-country chart by Ancel Keys, regarded as the scientific foundation of the high-carb/low-fat theory, and makes it sound as if the chart originally was valid and that data from other countries came later on. That was not the case. The truth is that Keys had all the data from the other countries from the get-go but chose not to plot them because doing so would have shown that his beloved fat-theory was rubbish – there was in fact no trend showing that heart disease was related to fat intake. Keyes intentionally cherry-picked, cheated and deceived the public by using only the data points that produced a hockey stick.

From then on his theory morphed into a dogma that would go on to survive almost 6 decades. Unfortunately millions of people would die prematurely because of the guidelines later adopted as a result.

Whorisky writes:

‘The vibrant certainty of scientists claiming to be authorities on these matters is disturbing,’ George V. Mann, a biochemist at Vanderbilt’s medical school wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine. Ambitious scientists and food companies, he said, had “transformed [a] fragile hypothesis into treatment dogma.”

Indeed, the subsequent 40 years of science have proven that, if nothing else, the warning against saturated fats was simplistic.

Although Whorisky tunneled his focus on milk and did not accurately present the work of Ancel Keys and the dissidents who opposed him, his piece is one that was overdue and it represents a major step in getting the government and medical associations to admit that they screwed up massively. In hindsight the affair is turning out to be nutritional malpractice of the most egregious sort.

Incredibly, perhaps with the aim of protecting the interests of its many member cardiologists and other physicians, the American Heart Association still stands behind the junk-science based lipid hypothesis and continues to deny the fact that fat is vital for human health and that refined carbohydrates have been the true American dietary disaster.

Climate science is even worse than “fat” science

The same type of junk science is now occurring with a carbon of another form: atmospheric CO2. Here a new breed of junk scientists are hysterically maintaining that CO2 will cause the earth’s climate system to have a heart attack. Here the science backing up that theory is even worse than that of Ancel Keys.

October 18, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | | 3 Comments

Open Letter to Samantha Power, US Ambassador to UN

By Kaveh L. Afrasiabi | CASMII | October 18, 2015

US Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, has made serious errors of law by insisting publicly that Iran’s recent missile test “was a clear violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929.” But, this reflects a basic ignorance of the UN-backed Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which clearly states that with the new UN Security Council resolution endorsing the JCPOA, all the previous UN Security Council resolutions on Iran “will be terminated.”

Indeed, it is quite odd, and highly uncommon, that a top US diplomat should display such a grave ignorance of the content of an international agreement that has been endorsed by her government and in effect codified by the UN through the UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which was prefigured and explicitly anticipated by the JCPOA. According to the JCPOA’s “Annex on Implementation” (18.1),

“In accordance with the UN Security Council resolution endorsing the JCPOA, the provisions imposed
in UN Security Council resolutions…1929 (2010) will be terminated.”

In essence, this means that with the passage of Resolution 2231 (July, 2015), all the previous resolutions including 1929 have been rendered moot and, from the prism of UN laws, cannot be invoked by any UN member state, simply because those resolutions have been superseded by the new post-JCPOA resolution. Ambassador Power may need to consult with the law dictionary on the legal definition of “supersede”: Supersede “means to take the place of, as by reason of superior worth or right. A recently enacted statute that repeals an older law is said to supersede the prior legislation.”

Unfortunately, Ambassador Power’s errors are not limited to the careless oversight of the JCPOA’s content and extends to the new UNSC resolution as well. In her public statements denouncing the October 10th Iranian missile test, Ambassador Power has given the erroneous impression that the resolution 1929 “remains valid” until the JCPOA “goes into effect.” The mere fact that resolution 2231 has endorsed the JCPOA, which as stated above renders moot the previous resolutions including 1929, flatly contradicts this position of the US Ambassador, which reflects a serious oversight of the primacy of UN and international law. With the legal significance of resolution 2231 thus escaping her attention, Ambassador Power has clung to an untenable position that in effect makes a mockery of the Security Council and undermines its legitimacy.

According to the veteran US missile expert, professor Theodore Postol of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the US’s claim against Iran is “technical nonsense… We know the White House has made technically false statements about Iran in the past and it is astonishing that the US keeps engaging in this pattern that undermines US’s credibility.”

With respect to Ambassador Power’s categorical claim that Iran’s missile test represents a “violation of its international obligations,” suffice to say the following: First, Iran is among 30 nations in the world today that possess missile technology and no one ever accuses the other nations of flouting international norms and obligations by exercising their right of self-defense through missiles. Second, Ambassador Power has ignored the subtle language of resolution 2231 that imposes an 8-year ban on nuclear-related missile activity on Iran’s part and in Annex B calls upon Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.” Even the veteran US nuclear expert Anthony Cordesman has indirectly taken issue with Power’s position by admitting that the language of the new resolution is specific and raises the issue of purposeful design for nuclear warheads.

Indeed, the nub of the problem with the US’s condemnation of Iran’s missile test is that there is no tangible empirical and physical evidence to corroborate the accusation that Iran’s ballistic missiles are designed to be capable of carrying nuclear payload. As various Western nuclear experts have readily admitted, substantial technical modifications are necessary in order to substitute nuclear warheads for conventional warheads on Iran’s missiles. As the US’s own experience with the conventional modifications of the Trident missiles has shown, this is a formidable, and costly, task that requires a nuanced technical conceptualization — that is sadly lacking in the Iran-bashing discourse of Ambassador Power and other US officials who have made a giant leap of faith by misrepresenting Iran’s flight-test of its new generation of Emad conventional missile as “inherently nuclear-capable.” Attaching the latter label is clearly a clever public relations ploy rather than an apt, and sustainable, diplomatic move. Resolution 2231 Revisited Clearly, this resolution remains the new foundation of the UN’s approach to the Iran nuclear issue. The US’s interpretation led by Ambassador Power holds that the resolution requires a complete halt of all Iranian ballistic missile tests. Yet, this is not consistent with, nor mandated by, a straightforward reading of the text. If the Security Council is now poised, as a result of the US complaint, to revisit the provisions of resolution 2231, important evidence and interpretive tools on how that resolution should be read need to be examined. For one thing, the US interpretation omits the drafting history of JCPOA, that triggered the 2231, and was strictly narrow-focused on the nuclear issue and did not extend to the issue of Iran’s conventional arms (and their delivery systems). Also, parallel language in other UNSC resolutions, such as 242, can be used to shed light on the meaning of resolution 2231.

Specifically, this resolution’s nuanced and unambiguous language on the ballistic missiles “designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons” suggests that the text has a fixed meaning, in light of the fact that “designed” is synonymous with a purposeful activity. In fact, what is lacking in the US claim against Iran above-mentioned is a “plain meaning” interpretation of resolution 2231 — that refers to deliberate design of any nuclear-capable missile. There is a full array of UN precedents and opino juris that supports Iran’s position that the resolution’s prohibition on missile tests is not absolute. In other words, the mere allegation that Iran’s conventional missiles can be, technically speaking, converted to nuclear-capable missiles, is not sufficient. By using unambiguous wording, the resolution has clearly implied a distinction between conventional missiles and those that are deliberately designed to be nuclear-capable, yet somehow this important yet delicate difference has evaded the US diplomats, whose arguments are based mostly on an illicit inference, one that generalizes a specific prohibited activity.

But, because Iran’s conventional missiles are not brared under international norms and require flight tests as part of routine upgrade, they do not fall under the prohibitions of nuclear-related tests envisioned in the new UNSC resolution. Any attempt to deprive Iran of its important missile defense capability would not only be illegal, from the prism of international law, it would also be a stab at regional stability, given the crucial role of Iran’s missiles in the context of regional arms race and the imbalances resulting from the sanctions on Iran and the huge arms sales to Iran’s Arab neighbors in Persian Gulf. Iran’s new precision-guided missiles represent a qualitative improvement in terms of the responsiveness, range, speed, precision, lethality, and freedom of maneuver, which cannot possibly be achieved without conducting flight-tests. As important and vital components of the nation’s strategic deterrence, these missiles cannot be put on the UN’s black list simply because a Western superpower might dislike their deterrent value and seek to target them through the UN machinery.

October 18, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

US & allies to test missile defense system in Europe for first time – media

RT | October 18, 2015

The US Navy alongside forces from eight other nations, will hold missile defense drills in Europe later in October, according to military sources, as cited by the American media.

The exercises will be held under the Maritime Theater Missile Defense Forum, which is a coalition aimed at coordinating missile defense efforts, Stars and Stripes reports. The forum was created in 1999 and includes Canada, Australia, Spain, France, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Norway and Italy alongside with the US.

The goal of the exercises is to test the allies’ capability to counter multiple missile threats and coordinate their actions in defending against several missiles at once, which is known as an integrated air and missile defense concept, military.com reports citing the US 6th Fleet.

The drills will reportedly include simultaneous interception of an unarmed ballistic missile launched from a British range located in the Outer Hebrides near Scotland and an anti-ship missile fired from a closer range. In order to accomplish this task, the vessels will use highly automated command-and-control systems such as Aegis with the US ship also using their guided anti-ballistic SM-3 missiles.

Aegis is an advanced integrated command and weapon control system used to find and track targets as well as to guide weapons to destroy them. It is installed on more than 30 US Navy warships and is also used by several other countries, including Spain and Norway.

The military sources have revealed neither the exact date nor the location of the missile defense drills in Europe.

The exercises mark a new milestone in the development of the ballistic missile defense system in Europe, which has been created by the US and NATO for about a decade already.

On September 25, the US navy completed the deployment of its Aegis-equipped naval group with its fourth and final destroyer ‘Carney’ being stationed in the Spanish port of Rota. It was part of the US-developed missile defense system in Europe known as the European Phased Adaptive Approach.

Alongside the ship-based missile defenses, this system also includes ground-based interception sites that are to be built in Romania and Poland. On September 25, Polish lawmakers approved a technical agreement with the US concerning an anti-missile base in Redzikowo. According to the plan, the facility will be operational by 2018.

The US and NATO continue to point at a potential missile threat from Iran as the reason for the development of the missile defense system in Europe. Iran only has short and medium-range missile systems with its most advanced ballistic weapons having a maximum range of about 2,500 kilometers.

The agreement with Tehran reached on July 14, which curbed its nuclear program, has not changed US plans to create an anti-missile defense system in Europe.

Moscow has repeatedly stated that the US anti-missile systems poses a threat to Russia’s national security. The US has consistently refuted such claims.

In August, a month after the deal with Iran had been reached, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said that the US missile defense system was in the final stages of its development and it would have a “certain devaluating effect concerning Russian strategic forces.”

“We don’t see any reasons [the missile defense system] should continue, especially at such a rapid pace and with a clear ‘projection’ on Russian territory,” Ryabkov said at that time, adding that “the US administration is making up artificial excuses to justify their decision – made under the influence of other motives – to continue the creation of a missile defense system in Europe.”

READ MORE: US ‘making up excuses’ to justify expanding missile defense system in EU – Russian Deputy FM

October 18, 2015 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Misunderstandings About Jerusalem’s Temple Mount

By George Wesley Buchanan | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs | August 2011

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While it has not been widely published, it assuredly has been known for more than 40 years that the 45-acre, well-fortified place that has been mistakenly called the “Temple Mount” was really the Roman fortress—the Antonia—that Herod built. The Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque are contained within these walls. The area is called the Haram Al-Sharif in Arabic.

The discovery that this area had once been the great Roman fortress came as a shock to the scholarly community, which had believed for many years that this ancient fortress was the place where the temple had been. This news was preceded by another shock, when the English archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon discovered in 1962 that the entire City of David in the past had been only that little rock ridge on the western bank of the Kidron Valley. Less than 10 years later the historian Benjamin Mazar learned that the Haram had undoubtedly been the Roman fortress.

In biblical times the Haram was not a sacred place. Instead it was the place that Orthodox Jews considered defiled and the most despised place in the world. Within these walls were found no remnants of any of the earlier temples but rather an image of Mars, the Roman god of war. The 1st century Jewish Roman historian Titus Flavius Josephus said the Romans always kept a whole legion of soldiers (5,000-6,000) there, and that there were stones in its walls that were 30 feet long, 15 feet thick, and 71/2 feet high. While excavating the area, Mazar found these very stones there in the Haram—not in the temple.

He and the local Muslims also discovered there three inscriptions, honoring the Roman leaders in the war of A.D. 66-72—Vespasian, Titus, and Silva—and Hadrian in the war of A.D. 132-135, for their success in defeating the Jews in the wars. Appropriate inscriptions for a Roman fortress, but impossible for a temple that had been destroyed in A.D. 70—65 years before the inscriptions had been made. Mazar shared these insights freely with other participants in the excavation, such as Herbert Armstrong and Ernest Martin.

Mazar also knew at once that the temple instead was stationed 600 feet farther south and 200 feet lower in altitude, on Mount Ophel, where the Spring of Siloam poured tons of water under the threshold of the temple every minute (Ezek 47:1), after which the water was distributed wherever it was needed. This marvelous little City of David was unique in having running water 3,000 years ago. Aristeas, Tacitus and 1 Enoch tell of the inexhaustible spring water system that was indescribably well developed, gushing tons of water into the temple area for sacrifices. Hezekiah’s tunnel directed water under Mount Ophel to the Pool of Siloam.

Herod’s fortress, on the other hand, was unequipped for sacrifices, because it had only 37 cisterns to provide water in the Haram.

After two violent wars with Rome, the City of David was so completely destroyed that it could not be recognized as a city. The Roman emperor Hadrian decreed that it would be used as an area where the Upper City could dump trash and garbage. It continued in that condition for hundreds of years. The Upper City developed, and people forgot what a marvelous little city this had once been. They simply guessed where strategic locations in the City of David must have been in the Upper City. Of course, this was a normal mistake.

Now, 50 years after Kenyon’s discovery, scholars like Leen Ritmeyer, Eilat Mazar and Hershel Shanks have recently written books as if no one knew that the Haram was the Roman Fortress and that Solomon’s, Zechariah’s and Herod’s temples all were located near the Spring of Siloam. Tourists are still mistakenly told that the Haram is the Temple Mount, that David’s citadel is near the Jaffa Gate, and that Mount Zion and the place where the Last Supper was held are all in the Upper City.

Israel’s antiquities authority has been digging a tunnel from under homes in the Arab East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan to the Western Wall Plaza. According to a recent “60 Minutes” interview, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat wants to create King’s Garden, a Bible-themed tourist park “adjacent to the City of David,” which requires demolishing 22 Arab homes in Silwan. The purpose of archeology is to provide archeological insights, of course, but excavations between the City of David and the old Roman fortress (the Haram) also have an anti-Arab political agenda.

It is not likely that a fourth temple will ever be constructed, either in the City of David or in the Haram. Israel already has diverted the water formerly used for sacrifices away from the former temple area and is making the City of David into a park. Orthodox Jews would oppose having a temple in Herod’s hated fortress. Jews had no interest in the Haram until after the Crusades, when they misunderstood that it was the Temple Mount. If the temple were ever built, it would have to be placed somewhere in the Upper City or a suburb of Jerusalem—not in its former site or in the old Roman Fortress.

Because innocent Evangelical Christians in America, under the guidance of Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and John Hagee, have not been informed of these facts, they have thought there was some biblical or religious reason why it was necessary to destroy Islam’s third most sacred building in the world, together with the al-Aqsa mosque. It is my hope that, once Christians learn of this mistake, they will stop following Mars and Phineas (Num 25; Ps 106:30-31) and work as zealously for peace, following the teachings of Abraham, the 8th century prophets (Mica 6:8), Jesus, and Paul, as they once worked to promote war in the Middle East. This would make a tremendous difference to Jerusalem—and to the world.

George Wesley Buchanan has been a United Methodist minister since 1944 and a professor at a theological seminary since 1960, emeritus since he retired in 1991.

October 18, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

UK seeking closer ties with Saudi Regime: Report

Documents demonstrate that British companies are being secretly encouraged to sign major contracts with Riyadh as a priority market. This is while London has openly censured Riyadh for beheading sentences handed to two Saudis for alleged anti-government activities. The Ministry of Justice was also forced to end a multi-million-dollar prison contract with Saudi Arabia over a lashing sentence given to a British citizen. Britain has at the same time licensed over six billion dollars worth of arms sales to Saudi Arabia since 2010, including the selling of Hawk jets next year. But activists, including the rights group ‘Reprieve’ have blasted London’s hypocrisy. Reprieve says the government should come clean about the true extent of its agreements with repressive regimes, such as Saudi Arabia.

October 18, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, Subjugation - Torture, Video | , , | 1 Comment

200 Israeli settlers attack Palestinian village with firebombs

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Ma’an – October 18, 2015

HEBRON – More than 200 Israeli settlers attacked the Palestinian villages of Wad al-Haseen and Wad al-Nasara near the illegal Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba overnight in the eastern Hebron district of the occupied southern West Bank, locals and medics said.

During the attack, Israeli settlers threw stones and firebombs at Palestinian homes and injured at least three people, two of which were minors, while Israeli forces later shot and injured one Palestinian with live fire.

An Israeli army spokesperson said she did not have reports of any injuries with live fire.

The spokesperson said clashes between Palestinians and Israelis broke out in the area, after which Israeli forces “arrived at the scene and dispersed the clashes using riot dispersal means.”

Kayed Daana, one of the residents whose home was attacked told Ma’an that dozens of Israeli settlers attacked her neighborhood and injured at least three of her neighbors who have been identified as 40-year-old Imad and two minors, Abdullah, 13, and Muhammad, 17.

Muhammad’s injuries were the most serious of the three, as he was hit in the chest with one of the fire bombs, medics said.

Daana told Ma’an that she would like to urge the International Red Cross and others in the international community intervene against Israeli violations and attacks on Palestinians.

Bassam al-Jabri, one of the residents, said he saw the attacking Israeli settlers cutting the blockade fence that separates the illegal Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arab from nearby Palestinian homes, while under the protection of the Israeli troops before they attacked his neighborhood with fire bombs.

Al-Jabri said his house was one of those set ablaze, but that he and his neighbors were able to put the fire out before the fire was able to damage his whole home.

During the attacks, Palestinian villagers fled to their local mosques and used the mosque amplifier to call for help from neighboring Palestinian villages and communities, who responded to their calls.

Israeli forces then got involved, shooting tear gas at Palestinians who showed up to help.

Community member Farid al-Razim, told Ma’an that villagers in his area were attacked by Israeli settlers with firebombs, while Israeli forces were shooting tear gas, and that one of the Palestinians from a neighboring village who had come to help was shot and injured with live fire.

While relations between Palestinian residents and Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank are normally tense, the situation has been significantly deteriorating since settlers’ torched a home belonging to the Duwabsha family in Nablus on July 31.

An 18-month-old toddler was burned alive during the attack, while his mother and father succumbed to their burn wounds while being treated at separate hospitals. The family’s four-year-old son is the only remaining survivor of the attack.

On Oct. 1, suspected Palestinians shot and killed Eitam and Naama Henkin, two settlers who were driving between the illegal settlements of Itamar and Elon More in an area near Huwwara in Nablus.

Their four children, aged between four months and nine years, were found unharmed in the back of the car.

It is speculated that the shootings were a revenge attack on Israeli settlers, following months of increased restrictions at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and calls from right-wing Jewish groups, urging their supporters to visit the compound, which is venerated by Jews as the Temple Mount.

Following the shooting, hundreds of Israeli settlers rioted across the occupied West Bank, with multiple attacks reported on Palestinian homes and vehicles.

Palestinian towns and villages in the Nablus area are surrounded by Israeli settlements and outposts, many of which are protected by the Israeli military and have gained notoriety for being comprised of the most extremist settlers.

The Palestinian government has no jurisdiction over Israelis in the West Bank, and violent acts carried out by Israeli settlers often occur in the presence of Israeli military forces who rarely act to protect Palestinian residents.

Palestinians are therefore left to fend for themselves as few options for their personal security remain.

While Israeli forces will detain a Palestinian in the occupied West Bank for possessing a knife or gun, Israelis living in the same area are legally able to carry such weapons.

Rights groups have criticized Israel for implementing different legal systems for Palestinians and Israeli settlers living in the same area.

Such practices, they say, protect the expansion of settlements while systematically removing the ability for Palestinians to move freely throughout the occupied territory.

October 18, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment