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Russia’s ACRA to aim at breaking monopoly as Moody’s exits

The BRICS Post | March 19, 2016

Russia’s new national Analytical Credit Rating Agency (ACRA), seen as a domestic competitor to global ratings agencies, plans to issue its first ratings this year, according to CEO, Ekaterina Trofimova.

ACRA applied for a license to operate in Russia on February 29.

On Friday, one of the “BIG Three” international ratings agencies, Moody’s, announced it has officially stopped issuing local credit ratings for Russian companies. This was widely expected after Russia said new regulations will force international rating agencies working in the country to issue local data through a Russia-regulated subsidiary and guarantee they won’t withdraw local credit ratings under outside political pressure.

“This decision was taken in light of legislative changes and other potential restrictions applicable to the business of providing national scale ratings (NSRs) in Russia,” a Moody’s statement said.

Earlier in February, Fitch Ratings also said they plan to stop issuing local ratings in Russia.

The new Russian regulations take effect in 2017.

The five BRICS heads of state during their annual summits in Brazil and Russia in the past two years have discussed the idea of establishing an independent ratings agency.

The “Big Three” global credit rating agencies, all based in the US – Standard and Poor’s, Moody’s, and Fitch Ratings have been criticized for their favorable pre-crisis ratings of insolvent financial institutions like Lehman Brothers.

DR Dogra, Managing Director and CEO of Indian credit ratings agency CARE, said Moscow’s homegrown credit-ratings firm is a positive step forward.

“The development in the credit rating space in Russia is interesting as it brings in local knowledge and experience while evaluating credit rating. The existence of such agencies does add value to the system and while the international rating agencies will have to take their own decision relating to the regulatory systems that have to be adhered to, the creation of ACRA in Russia is a good step,” Dogra told The BRICS Post.

“As Russia is part of the fast growing BRICS nations, we would see this very positively as we need to have more competition in the market which should also logically extend to the global space,” he added.

Russia’s ACRA, however, is not the first attempt to break the monopoly of the ratings market.

Rating agencies from China, Russia and the United States officially launched a new credit rating company in Hong Kong in 2013 to challenge the current industry leaders.

Brazil’s SR Rating, CARE Rating of India and GCR of South Africa also tied up with CPR of Portugal and MARC of Malaysia to form a new ratings agency in 2013.

Lia Baker Valls Pereira, senior researcher at Brazil’s premier, Getulio Vargas Foundation, warns that the criteria used by any new BRICS ratings agency must be well documented and transparent.

“A ratings agency must be independent to be reliable. A ratings agency controlled by the BRICS governments will face difficulties in proving its independence,” says Pereira.

March 19, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Economics | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

It’s Not Just Cancer! Radiation, Genomic Instability and Heritable Genetic Damage

By Chris Busby | CounterPunch | March 18, 2016

Those who fear the effects of radiation always focus on cancer. But the most frightening and serious consequences of radiation are genetic.

Cancer is just one small bleak reflection, a flash of cold light from a facet of the iceberg of genetic damage to life on Earth constructed from human folly, power-lust and stupidity.

Cancer is a genetic disease expressed at the cellular level. But genetic effects are transmitted across the generations.

It was Herman Joseph Muller, an American scientist, who discovered the most serious effects of ionizing radiation – hereditary defects in the descendants of exposed parents – in the 1920s. He exposed fruit flies – drosophila – to X-rays and found malformations and other disorders in the following generations.

He concluded from his investigations that low dose exposure, and therefore even natural background radiation, is mutagenic and there is no harmless dose range for heritable effects or for cancer induction. His work was honoured by the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1946.

In the 1950s Muller warned about the effects on the human genetic pool caused by the production of low level radioactive contamination from atmospheric tests. I have his original 1950 report, which is a rare item now.

Muller, as a famous expert in radiation, was designated as a speaker at the Conference, ‘Atoms for Peace’ in Geneva in 1955 where the large scale use of nuclear energy (too cheap to meter) was announced by President Eisenhower. But when the organisers became aware that Muller had warned about the deterioration of the human gene pool by the contamination of the planet from the weapon test fallout, his invitation was cancelled.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The protective legislation of western governments does, of course, concede that radiation has such genetic effects. The laws regulating exposure are based on the risk model of the International Commission on Radiological Protection, the ICRP.

The rules say that no one is allowed to receive more than 1mSv of dose in a year from man-made activities. The ICRP’s scientific model for heritable effects is based on mice; this is because ICRP states that there is no evidence that radiation causes any heritable effects in humans.

The dose required to double the risk of heritable damage according to the ICRP is more than 1000mSv. This reliance on mice has followed from the studies of the offspring of those who were present in Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the Japanese/ US Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC).

These studies were begun in 1952 and assembled groups of people in the bombed cities to compare cancer rates and also birth outcomes in those exposed at different levels according to their distance from the position of the bomb detonation, the hypocentre. The entire citadel of radiation risk is built upon this ABCC rock.

But the rock was constructed with smoke and mirrors and everything about the epidemiology is false. There have been a number of criticisms of the A-Bomb Lifespan Studies of cancer: it was a survivor population, doses were external, residual contamination was ignored, it began seven years after the event, the original zero dose control group was abandoned as being “too healthy”, and many others.

But we are concerned here with the heritable effects, the birth defects, the congenital malformations, the miscarriages and stillbirths. The problem here is that for heritable damage effects to show up, there have to be births. As you increase the exposures to radiation, you quickly obtain sterility and there are no pregnancies. We found this in the nuclear test veterans.

Then at lower doses, damaged sperm results in damaged foetuses and miscarriages. When both mother and father are exposed, there are miscarriages and stillbirths before you see any birth defects. So the dose response relation is not linear. At the higher doses there are no effects. The effects all appear at the lowest doses.

Bad epidemiology is easily manipulated

As far as the ABCC studies are concerned, there is another serious (and I would say dishonest) error in the epidemiology. Those people discarded their control population in favour of using the low dose group as a control.

This is such bad epidemiology that it should leave any honest reviewer breathless. But there were no reviewers. Or at least no-one seemed to care. Perhaps they didn’t dig deeply enough. In passing, the same method is now being used to assess risk in the huge INWORKS nuclear worker studies and no-one has raised this point there either.

Anyway, the ABCC scientists in charge of the genetic studies found the same levels of adverse birth outcomes in their exposed and their control groups, and concluded that there was no effect from the radiation.

Based on this nonsense, ICRP writes in their latest 2007 risk model, ICRP103, Appendix B.2.01, that “Radiation induced heritable disease has not been demonstrated in human populations.”

But it has. If we move away from this USA controlled, nuclear military complex controlled A-Bomb study and look in the real world we find that Muller was right to be worried. The radioactive contamination of the planet has killed tens of millions of babies, caused a huge increase in infertility, and increased the genetic burden of the human race and life on earth.

And now the truth is out!

In January of this year Prof. Inge Schmitz-Feuerhake, of the University of Bremen, Dr Sebastian Pflugbeil of the German Society for Radioprotection and I published a Special Topic paper in the prestigious peer-review journal Environmental Health and Toxicology. The title is: Genetic Radiation Risks – a neglected topic in the Low Dose debate.

In this paper we collected together all the evidence which has been published outside the single Japanese ABCC study in order to calculate the true genetic effects of radiation exposure. The outcome was sobering, but not unexpected.

Using evidence ranging from Chernobyl to the nuclear Test Veterans to the offspring of radiographers we showed clearly that a dose of 1mSv from internal contamination was able to cause a 50% increase in congenital malformations. This identifies an error in the ICRP model and in the current legislation of a factor of 1,000. And we write this down. The conclusion of the paper states:

Genetically induced malformations, cancers, and numerous other health effects in the children of populations who were exposed to low doses of ionizing radiation have been unequivocally demonstrated in scientific investigations.

Using data from Chernobyl effects we find a new Excess Relative Risk (ERR) for Congenital malformations of 0.5 per mSv at 1mSv falling to 0.1 per mSv at 10mSv exposure and thereafter remaining roughly constant. This is for mixed fission products as defined though external exposure to Cs-137.

Results show that current radiation risk models fail to predict or explain the many observations and should be abandoned. Further research and analysis of previous data is suggested, but prior assumptions of linear dose response, assumptions that internal exposures can be modelled using external risk factors, that chronic and acute exposures give comparable risks and finally dependence on interpretations of the high dose ABCC studies are all seen to be unsafe procedures.

Radiation causes genomic instability

Our paper is available on the web as a free download, so you can see what we wrote and follow up the 80 or so references we used to construct the case.

Most of the evidence is from effects reported in countries contaminated by the Chernobyl accident, not only in Belarus and Ukraine but in wider Europe where doses were less than 1mSv. Other evidence we referred to was from the offspring of the nuclear test veterans.

In a study I published in 2014 of the offspring of members of the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association (BNTVA) we saw a 9-fold excess of congenital disease in the children but also, and unexpectedly, an eight-fold excess in the grandchildren. This raises a new and frightening spectre not anticipated by Herman Muller.

In the last 15 years it has become clear that radiation causes genomic instability: experiments in the laboratory and animal studies show that radiation exposure throws some kind of genetic switch which causes a non-specific increase in general mutation rates.

Up until these genomic instability discoveries it was thought that genetic processes followed the laws of Gregor Mendel: there were specific dominant and recessive gene mutations that were passed down the generations and became diluted through a binomial process as offspring married away.

But radiation scientists and cancer researchers could not square the background mutation rate with the increased risks of cancer with age: the numbers didn’t fit. The discovery of the genomic instability process was the answer to the puzzle: it introduces enough random mutations to explain the observations.

It is this that supplies the horrifying explanation for the continuing high risk of birth defects in Fallujah and other areas where the exposures occurred ten to twenty years ago. Similar several generation effects have been seen in animals from Chernobyl.

Neonatal mortality in the nuclear bomb era

So where does that leave us? What can we do with this? What can we conclude? How can this change anything? Let’s start by looking at the effects of the biggest single injection of these radioactive contaminants, the atmospheric weapons tests of the period 1952 to 1963.

If these caused increases in birth defects and genetic damage we should see something in the data. We do. The results are chilling. If babies are damaged they die at or shortly before birth. This will show up in the vital statistics data of any country which collects and publishes it.

Busby-fig1

In Fig 1 (above right) I show a graph of the first day (neonatal) mortality rates in the USA from 1936 to 1985. You can see that as social conditions improved there was a fall in the rates between the beginning and end of the period, and we can obtain this by calculating what the background should have been using a statistical process called regression.

The expected backgound is shown as a thin blue line. Also superimposed is the concentration of Strontium-90 in milk (in red) and its concentration in the bones of dead infants (in blue). The graph shows first day neonatal mortality in the USA; it is taken from a paper by Canadian paediatrician Robin Whyte (woman) in the British Medical Journal in 1992. This paper shows the same effect in neonatal (1 month) mortality and stillbirths in the USA and also the United Kingdom. The doses from the Strontium-90 were less than 0.5mSv.

This is in line with what we found in our paper from Chernobyl and the other examples of human exposures. The issue was first raised by the late Prof Ernest Sternglass, one of the first of the radiation warrior-scientists and a friend of mine. The cover-ups and denials of these effects are part of the biggest public health scandal in human history.

It continues and has come to a venue near you: our study of Hinkley Point showed significant increased infant mortality downwind of the plant at Burnham on Sea as I wrote in The Ecologist.

It’s official – genetic damage in children is an indicator of harmful exposures to the father

As to what we can do with this new peer-reviewed evidence we can (and we shall) put it before the Nuclear Test Veterans case in the Pensions Appeals hearings in the Royal Courts of Justice which is tabled for three weeks from June 14th 2016 before a tribunal headed by high court judge Sir Nicholas Blake.

I represent two of the appellants in this hearing and will bring in the genetic damage in the children and grandchildren as evidence of genetic damage in the father.

We are calling Inge Schmitz-Feuerhake, the author of the genetic paper, as one expert witness; the judge has conceded that genetic damage in the children is an indicator of harmful exposures to the father. He has made a disclosure order to the University of Dundee to release the veteran questionnaires. They have.

Finally, I must share with you a window into the mind-set of the false scientists who work for the military and nuclear operation. As the fallout Strontium-90 built up in milk and in childrens’ bones and was being measured, they renamed the units of contamination, (picoCuries Sr-90 per gram of Calcium) ‘Sunshine Units’.

Can you imagine? I would ship them all to Nuremberg for that alone.

Dr Chris Busby is the Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Riskand the author of Uranium and Health – The Health Effects of Exposure to Uranium and Uranium Weapons Fallout (Documents of the ECRR 2010 No 2, Brussels, 2010). For details and current CV see chrisbusbyexposed.org. For accounts of his work see greenaudit.orgllrc.org and nuclearjustice.org.

March 19, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Nuclear Power, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment

“Evidence-based medicine has been hijacked:” A confession from John Ioannidis

Retraction Watch – March 16, 2016

John Ioannidis is perhaps best known for a 2005 paper “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False.” One of the most highly cited researchers in the world, Ioannidis, a professor at Stanford, has built a career in the field of meta-research. Earlier this month, he published a heartfelt and provocative essay in the the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology titled “Evidence-Based Medicine Has Been Hijacked: A Report to David Sackett.” In it, he carries on a conversation begun in 2004 with Sackett, who died last May and was widely considered the father of evidence-based medicine. We asked Ioannidis to expand on his comments in the essay, including why he believes he is a “failure.”

Retraction Watch: You write that as evidence-based medicine “became more influential, it was also hijacked to serve agendas different from what it originally aimed for.” Can you elaborate?

John Ioannidis: As I describe in the paper, “evidence-based medicine” has become a very common term that is misused and abused by eminence-based experts and conflicted stakeholders who want to support their views and their products, without caring much about the integrity, transparency, and unbiasedness of science.

RW: You also write that evidence-based medicine “still remains an unmet goal, worthy to be attained.” Can you explain further?

JI: The commentary that I wrote gives a personal confession perspective on whether evidence-based medicine currently fulfills the wonderful definition that David Sackett came up with: “integrating individual clinical expertise with the best external evidence”. This is a goal that is clearly worthy to be attained, but, in my view, I don’t see that this has happened yet. Each of us may ponder whether the goal has been attained. I suspect that many/most will agree that we still have a lot of work to do.

RW: You describe yourself as a “failure.” What do you mean?

JI: Well, I still know next to nothing, even though I am always struggling to obtain more solid evidence and even though I always want to learn more. If you add what are probably over a thousand rejections (of papers, grant proposals, nominations, and other sorrowful academic paraphernalia) during my career to-date, I think I can qualify for a solid failure. Nevertheless, I still greatly enjoy my work in science and in evidence-based medicine.

RW: You say that your first grant, which you applied for 17 years ago, was “not even rejected.” Tell us about that grant.

JI: It was a randomized controlled trial of antibiotics versus placebo for acute sinusitis. Hundreds of millions of people were treated with antibiotics without good evidence back then, and hundreds of millions of people continue to be treated with antibiotics even nowadays even though most of them would not need antibiotics. I sent in the application to a public funding agency, but have not heard back yet. Probably they felt that requesting funding for a randomized trial and not going to the industry for such funds was a joke. Many public funding agencies are accustomed to funding only research that clearly has no direct relevance to important, real-life questions, so perhaps they didn’t know where to place my application.

RW: You write that clinical evidence is “becoming an industry advertisement tool” and that “much ‘basic’ science [is] becoming an annex to Las Vegas casinos.” Provocative — what do you mean?

JI: Since clinical research that can generate useful clinical evidence has fallen off the radar screen of many/most public funders, it is largely left up to the industry to support it. The sales and marketing departments in most companies are more powerful than their R&D departments. Hence, the design, conduct, reporting, and dissemination of this clinical evidence becomes an advertisement tool. As for “basic” research, as I explain in the paper, the current system favors PIs who make a primary focus of their career how to absorb more money. Success in obtaining (more) funding in a fiercely competitive world is what counts the most. Given that much “basic” research is justifiably unpredictable in terms of its yield, we are encouraging aggressive gamblers. Unfortunately, it is not gambling for getting major, high-risk discoveries (which would have been nice), it is gambling for simply getting more money.

RW: Studying what ails science doesn’t make you popular with other researchers — until they want to publish with you, of course, as you point out in your piece. But those criticisms can also lump you in with those that you describe as “pseudo-scientists and dogmatists… trying to exploit individuals and populations and attack science.” How do you differentiate your own work?

JI: I definitely can’t complain for lack of popularity. I feel privileged to have worked with thousands of other scientists over the years and to have learnt from them. It is not possible to make everybody happy all the time, but the work of my team is aiming to protect science, defend the scientific method, question dogma, and enhance the capability and efficiency of research methodology and research practices. In this regard, it is at the very opposite pole than those who want to attack science, question the scientific method and promote dogmas.

RW: You’re worried that Cochrane Collaboration reviews — the apex of evidence-based medicine — “may cause harm by giving credibility to biased studies of vested interests through otherwise respected systematic reviews.” Why, and what’s the alternative?

JI: A systematic review that combines biased pieces of evidence may unfortunately give another seal of authority to that biased evidence. Systematic reviews may sometimes be most helpful if, instead of focusing on the summary of the evidence, highlight the biases that are involved and what needs to be done to remedy the state-of-the-evidence in the given field. This often requires a bird’s eye view where hundreds and thousands of systematic reviews and meta-analyses are examined, because then the patterns of bias are much easier to discern as they apply across diverse topics in the same or multiple disciplines. Much of the time, the solution is that, instead of waiting to piece together fragments of biased evidence retrospectively after the fact, one needs to act pre-emptively and make sure that the evidence to be produced will be clinically meaningful and unbiased, to the extent possible. Meta-analyses should become primary research, where studies are designed with the explicit anticipation that they are part of an overarching planned cumulative meta-analysis.

RW: What are your hopes for evidence-based medicine moving forward?

JI: The right ideas are there, and there are many superb scientists and clinicians who want to do the right thing, so I am always cautiously hopeful. We should keep trying.

RW: The essay is really personal and full of interesting stories. We’d like to end with a quote from when he was an early career researcher questioning entrenched research attitudes in Europe:

A senior professor of cardiology told a friend of mine that I should not be too outspoken, otherwise Albanian hit men may strangle me in my office. I replied that they should make sure to get correct instructions to my office – turn left when they come up the stairs. I would feel remorse, if the assassins entered the wrong office and strangled the wrong person.

March 19, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | Leave a comment

The Astonishingly Crap Science of ‘Counter-Extremism’

The science behind government strategies to fight radicalisation is so ridiculously crap that the most academically accurate concept to capture this absurd level of crappiness is ‘bullshit’

By Nafeez Ahmed – INSURGE INTELLIGENCE – March 17, 2016

A new United Nations report published this February has criticised prevalent approaches to countering ‘radicalisation’ as ineffective, conceptually flawed, and more likely to reinforce extremist narratives than prevent them.

The report to the UN Human Rights Council is authored by Ben Emmerson QC, the UN Special Rapporteur on Counter Terrorism and Human Rights.

Emmerson is a leading British lawyer, deputy High Court Judge, and British judge on the Residual Mechanism of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

His new report to the UN criticises “[m]any programmes directed at radicalisation” for being “based on a simplistic understanding of the process as a fixed trajectory to violent extremism with identifiable markers along the way.”

Despite volumes of research and huge expenditures, he points out, “there are no authoritative statistical data on the pathways towards individual radicalisation.”

To make matters worse, Emmerson concludes, “States have tended to focus on those [approaches] that are most appealing to them, shying away from the more complex issues, including political issues such as foreign policy and transnational conflicts.” This has led to a misguided “focus on religious ideology as the driver of terrorism and extremism”, and an escalating resort to repressive and discriminatory measures targeted at Muslim communities.

Far from preventing extremism, this is fuelling it. Emmerson refers to an earlier warning from the UN Human Rights Commissioner that “any more repressive [an] approach would have the reverse effect of reinforcing the narrative of extremist ideologies”, and warns that this is precisely what is now coming to pass.

80% of terrorism studies are bullshit

Yet this important UN report barely scratches the surface of how truly crap the state of the science is when it comes to understanding what ‘radicalisation’ even is, let alone countering it.

Over thirty years ago, Alex P. Schmid, former Office-in-Charge of the UN’s Terrorism Prevention Branch and Albert Jongman of Leiden University’s PIOOM Foundation (Interdisciplinary Research Programme on Root Causes of Human Rights Violations) reviewed over 6,000 academic studies of terrorism published between 1968 and 1988. Shockingly, as they explained in their seminal book Political Terrorism, they found that “perhaps as much as 80 percent of the literature is not research-based in any rigorous sense.”

Of course, that’s a very polite, typically academic way of putting it.

The thing is, when an academic tells you that your work is “not research-based in any rigorous sense”, what she’s basically saying is that your work has very little, if any, scholarly merit. It doesn’t actually make an original contribution to knowledge.

In short, for all intents and purposes, it’s bullshit.

When evidence is lacking: recycle

In any other discipline, academic research that is “not research-based in any rigorous sense” would mean you fail to get your degree — let alone fail to get published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Not in terrorism studies.

In terrorism studies, decades of ‘scholarship’ that is “not research-based in any rigorous sense” is being continuously recycled to regurgitate ‘new’ theories and policy recommendations which, however, have little if any evidential support.

By 2001, Professor Andrew Silke of the University of East London — a counter terrorism specialist who advises the UN and the UK government’s Cabinet Office — wrote in the journal Terrorism and Political Violence that the situation had still barely improved.

Despite decades of scholarship, he concluded, terrorism studies still struggled “in its efforts to explain terrorism or to provide findings of genuine predictive value.”

Most of the ‘scientific’ literature on terrorism, Silke found, recycled information from previous secondary sources, with only about 20% of publications offering genuinely original and novel data.

When Silke updated his analysis of the field in his contribution to the 2009 Routledge anthology, Critical Terrorism Studies: A New Research Agenda, he found that despite some marginal progress, the field was still characterised largely by an over-reliance on secondary sources and a dearth of empirical data.

Numerous other terrorism experts have admitted this problem. A 2006 report by the NATO Programme for Security in Science, Tangled Roots: Social and Psychological Factors in the Genesis of Terrorism, examined 1535 academic papers on terrorism between 2000 and 2004. It concluded:

“… a careful review reveals that genuine new data was reported in less than 10% of that subgroup.”

Other reviews have been even more damning. That year, a major study of the literature in Campbell Systematic Reviews concluded that “only 3% of articles from peer-reviewed sources appeared to be based on some form of empirical analysis.” Another 1% consisted of case studies, and the remaining 96% consisted essentially of “thought pieces.”

Which means that a whopping 96% was recycled bullshit.

That was ten years ago, so have things gotten better since then?

Pseudo-science echo chamber

Not really.

In 2011, Professor Adam Dolnik, Director of Terrorism Studies at the Centre for Transnational Crime Prevention (CTCP) at the University of Wollongong in Australia, observed in Perspectives on Terrorism that the continual dependence on secondary sources means that terrorism studies represents a “highly unreliable closed and circular research system, functioning in a constantly reinforcing feedback loop.”

The continual transmission of contradictory truisms within the field, has meant that terrorism experts are not really advancing knowledge of terrorism or extremism, and how to deal with it — they’re just repeating the same stale assumptions and prescriptions again and again.

Of course, that’s not to say that all terrorism research is useless. There is good research going on — but it’s few and far between, and the best work doesn’t necessarily impact on policy.

In any other discipline, the chronic inability to produce meaningful and original contributions to knowledge would justify wholesale dismissal as the work of cranks and pseudo-scientists.

Unfortunately, the one saving grace is that when the best counter-terrorism specialists are able to apply scientific standards to the field, among the most consistent findings is that the field is full of very serious, beard-stroking, speculative conjecture dressed up as ‘theory.’

In 2013, a background note by the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism in The Hague conceded that, despite some important improvements in the gathering of empirical data:

“A lack of research based on primary sources has been one of the major impediments to progress in the field of (counter-) terrorism studies… As numerous leading experts have warned, the consequences of an overreliance on secondary sources of information, such as newspapers, has led to a great amount of theorising based on a perilously small empirical foundation.”

That year, the Scientific Approach to Finding Indicators of and Responses to Radicalisation (SAFIRE) project of the leading Pentagon contractor RAND Europe similarly found that despite offering “numerous insights into the process of violent radicalisation… only a minority of the literature consisted of empirical and/or causal research, which could explain the causes of violent extremism and terrorism.”

Ironically, this has the effect that all these wonderful “insights” may really just be reflections of the prejudices of those involved in the research:

“In other words, one can only have limited confidence that the results from the literature accurately reflect the characteristics of the violent extremist and terrorist population, and not the assumptions and biases of those that have reported the characteristics of violent extremists and terrorists to the researchers.”

This is another polite, academic way of admitting that the bulk of the literature is full of unsubstantiated, self-referential bullshit — while also trying to project a semblance of scholarly credibility.

“The lack of causal research in relation to factors associated with violent extremism and terrorism suggests that the findings from the literature cannot, on the whole, be used to explain what drives people to violent extremism or terrorism or to predict outcomes,” concluded the SAFIRE report.

Translation: the, ahem, “findings” from the literature cannot, on the whole, be treated as actual scientific “findings” that can “explain” or “predict” anything concerning extremism or terrorism.

Forensic psychiatrist and former CIA operations officer Marc Sageman was far more harsh in his 2014 review published in Terrorism and Political Violence.

“Despite over a decade of government funding and thousands of newcomers to the field of terrorist research, we are no closer to answering the simple question of ‘What leads a person to turn to political violence?’” he lamented.

He blamed this “state of stagnation” on government funding of academic research while still withholding access to sensitive primary source information guarded by the intelligence community:

“This has led to an explosion of speculations with little empirical grounding in academia, which has the methodological skills but lacks data for a major breakthrough… Nor has the intelligence community been able to achieve any breakthrough because of the structure and dynamic of this community and its lack of methodological rigor. This prevents creative analysis of terrorism protected from political concerns.”

Sageman’s answer is for governments to give academics access to sensitive data gleaned from the intelligence community, such as evidence from interrogations of detained extremists and terrorists. That’s assuming that, somehow, such intelligence is not itself compromised or politicised.

This was, of course, the case with much of the 9/11 Commission Report. My first book, The War on Freedom: How & Why America was Attacked, September 11, 2001, was among 99 books made available to the 9/11 Commissioners as part of their investigations. It was also the first book read by the Jersey Girls, the well-known group of 9/11 widows who had played a key role in the 9/11 Family Steering Committee, which set out key lines of inquiry for the Commission to explore.

Yet according to NBC News, more than a quarter of the final report’s footnotes refer to interrogations of detainees acquired by torture, including three alleged senior al-Qaeda leaders who were repeatedly waterboarded.

As Philip Shenon observed in Newsweek:

“This has troubling implications for the credibility of the commission’s final report. In intelligence circles, testimony obtained through torture is typically discredited; research shows that people will say anything under threat of intense physical pain.”

Among these sources, one of the main ones is ‘Abu Zubaida’, whose real name is Zain al-Abidin Mohamed Hussein. Zubaida in particular is repeatedly referenced throughout the 9/11 Commission Report, where he is described as a key operational planner of the 9/11 attacks, a senior al-Qaeda lieutenant and operations chief, a close associate of Osama bin Laden, and so on.

But according to Daniel Coleman, a 31-year veteran FBI agent intimately familiar with Abu Zubaida’s case, the terror suspect was, in fact, mentally ill:

“Looking at other evidence, including a serious head injury that Abu Zubaida had suffered years earlier, Coleman and others at the FBI believed that he had severe mental problems that called his credibility into question. ‘They all knew he was crazy, and they knew he was always on the damn phone,’ Coleman said, referring to al-Qaeda operatives. ‘You think they’re going to tell him anything?’… Much of the threat information provided by Abu Zubaida, Coleman said, ‘was crap.’”

Coleman would also tell Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Ron Suskind:

“This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality.”

Zubaida’s claims under torture led to multiple new arrests of other alleged senior al-Qaeda leaders and whole new reams of investigation, much of which also ended up as part of the narrative put out in the 9/11 Commission Report. Dozens of other ‘terror suspects’ detained at Guantanamo (and eventually released without charge) had been linked to him.

Yet by 2009, even the US government was forced to concede that its entire narrative about Zubaida was basically, largely, bullshit. According to the transcript of court proceedings that year:

“The Government has not contended in this proceeding that Petitioner [Abu Zubaida] had any direct role in or advance knowledge of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.”

Er, say what?

The US government went on to concede that Zubaida was not involved in any other previous terrorist attacks, was not actually a member of al-Qaeda, and was not even a member of the Taliban.

“… for purposes of this proceeding the Government has not contended that Petitioner had any personal involvement in planning or executing either the 1998 embassy bombings in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, or the attacks of September 11, 2001…

“… the Government has not contended in this proceeding that Petitioner was a member of al-Qaida or otherwise formally identified with al-Qaida… Respondent does not contend that Petitioner was a ‘member’ of al-Qaida in the sense of having sworn bayat (allegiance) or having otherwise satisfied any formal criteria that either Petitioner or al-Qaida may have considered necessary for inclusion… Nor is the Government detaining Petitioner based on any allegation that Petitioner views himself as part of al-Qaida as a matter of subjective personal conscience, ideology, or worldview… The Government does not contend in its factual return that Petitioner was a ‘member’ of the Taliban…”

The government thus effectively erased the entirety of its own narrative about the operational planning behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks, rendering the vast bulk of the 9/11 Commission Report’s findings null and void.

No wonder Zubaida remains indefinitely detained without charge in Guantanamo — imagine the impact of a trial forcing the US government to release him: it would amount to an official admission that the White House-sanctioned narrative of the 9/11 operation is largely a torture-driven fantasy of CIA and Bush administration sadists.

So what exactly, then, is the US government contending? Not much, according to the court transcript:

“Rather, Respondent’s [the US government’s] detention of Petitioner [Abu Zubaida] is based on conduct and actions that establish Petitioner was ‘part of’ hostile forces and ‘substantially supported’ those forces.”

Whatever this means — and the US government has still refused to charge Zubaida, who is currently detained in Guantanamo — it is somewhat consistent with Suskind’s conclusion:

“Zubaydah was a logistics man, a fixer, mostly for a niggling array of personal items. Like the guy you call who handles the company health plan, or benefits, or the people in human resources. There was almost nothing ‘operational’ in his portfolio. That was handled by the management team. He wasn’t one of them.”

So essentially, this is the sort of deeply compromised ‘intelligence’ that terrorism scholars imagine might help them do more scientifically robust research.

Further translation: it’s pretty much all bullshit. So please give us more funding to try and turn this decades of mounting bullshit into gold; and some more ‘intelligence’ because at least then we can maintain a semblance of credibility by pointing to ‘primary sources.’

Dithering over Violent Extremism (DVE)

No wonder, then, that the policy recommendations that emerge from the field appear to have achieved very little — if not failed dramatically.

This is unambiguously clear from the practical results of a burgeoning sub-field of terrorism studies: preventing or countering violent extremism (PVE or CVE).

Understandably, given governments’ eagerness to be seen by their publics to be ‘doing something’ about terrorism, a veritable industry has ballooned around the urgent task of creating community-level strategies that stop people from being radicalised in the first place.

But like the wider field of terrorism studies, the scientific evidence that prevailing PVE/CVE strategies actually work is thin, to say the least.

You won’t hear government spokespersons admitting this in any formal capacity — but internal assessments and reviews tend to show that privately, the bankruptcy of existing CVE programmes is widely, if reluctantly, recognised.

There have been at least two internal evaluations of the UK Government’s flagship Prevent programme — the Channel Project — which tasks public sector workers to detect signs of potential extremism in schools, hospitals, local authorities, universities, and other forums. Under Channel, referrals to the police of individuals who appear to be ‘vulnerable’ to radicalisation results in an assessment process, and an ensuing social intervention of some sort to prevent radicalisation.

Unfortunately, the government’s formal evaluations of Channel have not been published. But in 2010, internal Home Office slides admitted:

“… hard evidence of intervention projects capability [was] not yet established.”

That year, I’d been invited by a senior police officer in charge of the Channel Project to an internal exercise, to see how the programme worked, and to provide advice on its implementation. One of the problems that stood out, and that I’d highlighted in previous conversations with the officer, is that the model of ‘vulnerability’ to radicalisation was so vague as to potentially encompass most normal people.

‘Risk indicators’ included amorphous generalities like, sudden changes in behaviour — for instance, the way you dress or appear, an interest in politics or foreign affairs, a sudden interest in religion, or activism, or even a shift in a person’s friend circle. Basically, most teenagers.

Legitimate terror suspect

A senior Home Office counter-terrorism official at the exercise with responsibility for managing the national Prevent strategy told me that the vast majority of referrals to Channel would, after being assessed, be dismissed as not requiring any intervention.

“In fact, we see this as a success of the programme,” he said enthusiastically. “The more referrals that come in and are dismissed, the greater the success.”

I looked at him skeptically.

“What you’re saying is that millions of pounds of taxpayers money will be spent on training, organising and assessing pointless referrals of endless numbers of perfectly innocent people who are not at risk of radicalisation,” I said.

The Home Office official nodded, still trying to look enthusiastic.

“Meanwhile,” I continued, “people who are actually developing a real interest in violent extremist ideologies, or even planning terrorist activity, are going to adapt very quickly and do everything they can to avoid being referred.”

The official, and his colleagues who were present, were all genuinely perplexed, but the visage of enthusiasm had now been replaced by the sort of strained look of someone who needs to fart really badly but is trying not to let it out loudly.

“Okay, but what else are we supposed to do?” was what the Home Office official eventually told me in exasperation after we discussed this obvious conundrum.

That was six years ago. Sadly, no one at Channel seems to have taken my advice.

A parliamentary inquiry into both Prevent and Channel by the Select Committee for Communities and Local Government did draw extensively on my criticisms as part of its 2010 report, but the Tory-led government simply ignored most of its recommendations.

From a presentation by Dr. Brian Hughes, School of Psychology, National University of Ireland

The lack of evidence that Channel could ever do more than alienate the very communities that need to be engaged applies to the UK Prevent programme more generally.

“It remains exceedingly difficult to gauge the real success of Prevent,” concluded a 2015 study in the Journalism of Terrorism Research, published by St. Andrews University’s Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence. The paper went on to admit that:

“… very few effective tools aside from anecdotal evidence exist to measure one’s vulnerability to becoming involved in extremism and the effect certain programs may have at reversing such processes… it is unclear as to whether such programmes have actually been successful in deterring extremist ideology.”

Reinforcing Violent Extremism (RVE)

But it’s not just the UK Prevent programme — the entire CVE field is a confused and somewhat redundant mess.

Eight years ago, a team of criminologists at George Mason University systematically reviewed global counter-terrorism strategies. To describe their findings as ‘dire’ would be a disservice to the gravity of their analysis:

“Overall, we found an almost complete absence of evaluation research on counter-terrorism strategies and conclude that counter-terrorism policy is not evidence-based… there is an almost complete absence of evaluation research on counter-terrorism strategies. This is startling given the enormous increases in the development and use of counter-terrorism programs, as well as spending on counter-terrorism activity.”

The few evaluations that did exist either proved that prevailing counter-terrorism strategies didn’t work, or that they were worsening the risk of radicalisation:

“Even more disconcerting was the nature of the evaluations we did find; some programs were shown to either have no discernible effect on terrorism or lead to increases in terrorism…There has been a proliferation of counter-terrorism programs and policies as well as massive increases in expenditures toward combating terrorism. Yet, we know almost nothing about the effectiveness of any of these programs or continue to use programs that we know are ineffective or harmful.

Yet there has been little, if any, progress since then. In 2014, Steven Heydemann, Vice President of Applied Research on Conflict at the US government-funded United States Institute for Peace, offered the following scathing evaluation of the CVE sector. Despite rapid growth, he wrote:

“CVE has struggled to establish a clear and compelling definition as a field; has evolved into a catch-all category that lacks precision and focus; reflects problematic assumptions about the conditions that promote violent extremism; and has not been able to draw clear boundaries that distinguish CVE programmes from those of other, well-established fields, such as development and poverty alleviation, governance and democratisation, and education.”

One of the most comprehensive reviews of the state of the research on countering extremism was undertaken last year by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) at the University of Maryland. The review was commissioned by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the US Department of Defense’s (DoD) Strategic Multilayer Assessment (SMA) office, and the resulting document reported straight back to those departments.

The report’s findings are disturbing.

“Most literature addressing counter‐terrorism, counter‐insurgency, and/or countering violent extremism does not include empirical evaluations of specific policies,” it concluded.

“While multiple authors hypothesise that countering extremist narratives is critical to reduce the appeal of violent extremism, there has been very little scholarship in terms of empirical studies to test the efficacy of counter‐narratives in general or of specific strategic communication programs or content.”

As if to hammer this message home, the START report added that there is a serious “shortage of empirical analyses of counter‐terrorism, counter‐insurgency, and CVE policies and programs.” And generally, “within the literature as a whole, there is a shortage of rigorously designed empirical analyses.”

One of START’s flagship projects is the Influencing Violent Extremist Organisations (I-VEO) Knowledge Matrix, an online tool for counter-terrorism practitioners which “identifies and gauges the level of empirical support for more than 180 hypotheses about influencing VEOs [Violent Extremist Organisations], from positive incentives to punitive actions.”

Founded in 2012, I-VEO’s lead investigator, Gary Ackerman, described it as “explicitly designed to be a one-stop shop for capturing and synthesising the breadth of existing scientific knowledge related to influencing VEOs and to highlight those areas where, despite often vigorous assertion, the empirical evidence is lacking.”

Unfortunately, three years later, this US government-funded project showed that most CVE approaches completely lack evidential support.

“As previously found under the I‐VEO effort, many hypotheses regarding influence operations have either not been empirically tested or have been supported merely through anecdotes,” concluded the 2015 START literature review. “This is especially true regarding non‐coercive strategies.”

Amazingly, out of the 183 counter-terrorism methodologies explored in the database, 50 “did not have any relevant empirical evidence to support or contradict” them, while “fifty-seven of the hypotheses had multiple qualitative and/or quantitative studies with contradictory conclusions.”

In the end, there were only six counter-terrorism hypotheses that received “the highest level of empirical support.”

So utterly crap, in other words, is the state of the scientific literature on countering extremism, that policymakers have been left floundering — which is perhaps why they are quite literally making shit up as they go along. In the understated words of the START report to the DoD and DHS:

“The state of play in the academic literature regarding counter‐terrorism, counter‐insurgency, and countering violent extremism creates difficulties for providing robust guidance to policymakers regarding policy options.”

Translation: basically, most of our “findings” consist of unsubstantiated bullshit, so it’s difficult to give governments decent counter-extremism advice which isn’t, well, unsubstantiated bullshit.

The few empirically robust findings that can be extracted from the available data, however, raises serious questions about the direction of prevailing PVE/CVE approaches — and whether they might actually be making things worse.

“A majority of studies with evaluation find that use of coercive methods such as repression (especially when used exclusively and indiscriminately) tend to produce backlash effects,” noted the START report to the Pentagon. “Indiscriminate” repression in particular is “unlikely to work in the long‐term and may produce backlash effects that result in more, rather than less, political violence.”

No shit, Sherlock.

The report also found that the practice known as ‘target hardening’ — visibly strengthening the security of a building or infrastructure to prevent or reduce the risk of a successful attack — “may make attacks on those targets less likely”, but may also “result in violent extremists shifting their targeting strategy rather than reducing their overall level of violence.”

In other words, more intrusive security measures like increasing anti-terror powers, flooding the streets with more cops, and trying to monitor everyone will only lead terrorists to adapt, by innovating new techniques to avoid detection.

How not to make friends and influence extremists

It comes as no surprise, then, that in his report, UN Special Rapporteur on Counter Terrorism, Ben Emmerson, documents how PVE/CVE strategies have so far disproportionately targeted and alienated Muslim communities.

Criticising “the elasticity of the term ‘violent extremism’, and the lack of clarity on what leads individuals to embrace violent extremism”, Emmerson concluded that as a consequence, “a wide array of legislative, administrative and policy measures are pursued, which can have a serious negative impact on manifold human rights. In addition, targeted measures to counter violent extremism can stigmatise groups and communities, undermining the support that governments need to successfully implement their programmes, and having a counter-productive effect. They can also be used to limit the space in which civil society operates, and may have a discriminatory impact on women and children.”

This has in some cases served to exacerbate “conditions conducive” to terrorism or violent extremism, including “prolonged unresolved conflicts, dehumanisation of victims of terrorism, lack of rule of law and violations of human rights, ethnic, national and religious discrimination, political exclusion, socio-economic marginalisation and lack of good governance.”

The other empirically robust findings of START’s I-VEO Knowledge Matrix are worth noting. One is that: “If the adversary sees that there are no benefits to restraint, it will work against the deterring party.”

Another is that where there are “multiple” violent extremist organisations, negotiating with just one of them is unlikely to work, as it “may lead to increased bad behavior by VEOs left out of negotiations.”

In other words, there should be obvious incentives to ceasing violence, and those incentives should be offered to all the relevant groups, rather than attempting to play off different groups against each other — which is likely to escalate, not ameliorate, extremism.

Perhaps most significantly, the START database also found abundant empirical evidence that:

“On the whole, positive inducements seem more effective than negative ones in deradicalizing/disengaging.”

The very concept underlying prevailing PVE/CVE approaches, then, is deeply questionable. And finally:

“Political reforms can lower VEO activity.”

This, of course, ties into the issue of developing tangible “benefits” in return for the reduction of violence, and addressing deeper causal factors by inculcating social and political reform.

Other empirical studies provide further grounds for recognising that the current PVE/CVE trend is going nowhere, fast.

One New York University study of terrorist attacks between 1980 and 2008 across 56 countries found that high levels of unemployment correlated significantly with increased instances of terrorism, especially in countries which had already experienced previous terrorist attacks.

A University of Texas empirical analysis of 2448 suicide terrorist incidents from 1998 to 2010 found that “foreign occupation and government transition are greatly associated with suicide terrorist attacks.”

The researchers also concluded that government social services were an important alleviator of transnational suicide attacks, but that “military spending is not effective at curbing transnational suicide terrorism,” raising questions about providing foreign counter-terrorism assistance “to countries beset with such attacks.”

In 2011, a study by the London School of Economics and University of Essex, published in the Journal of Peace Research, examined terrorist attacks on Americans by foreigners between 1978 and 2005.

Their model showed that US military support to foreign governments had “substantively strong effects on foreign terror on Americans.” A significant rise in military aid, for instance, produced an increase in anti-American terrorism by 135%.

The new Government Actions in Terrorist Environments (GATE) dataset provides further insights. A preliminary University of South Carolina study found that with regard to Palestinian terrorism, “when significant, [Israeli] repression is associated with more [Palestinian] terrorism (backlash) and conciliation is associated with less terrorism. This finding is especially strong when the actions are indiscriminate and during the Second Intifada.”

Similar conclusions applied for the wider region:

“For the remaining Middle Eastern countries, repression is either ineffective, or associated with more terrorism; and conciliation is either ineffective or associated with less terrorism.”

Likewise, in Canada, “al-Qaeda inspired extremism was very sensitive to actions by the Canadian Military in Afghanistan.”

Last year, a paper in the Journal of Deradicalization published by the Modern Security Consulting Group in Berlin, examined the evidence of causation between different types of military intervention, and the radicalisation process, including the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the US-led drone programme, and coalition strikes against ISIS. The paper, noting that this issue has been largely overlooked in the wider terrorism literature, found that:

“… intervention by a foreign power can encourage the process of radicalisation, or ‘de-pluralisation’ — the developing perception that there exists only one solution, extreme violence — to take place. However, it finds that the type of intervention plays a critical role in determining how individuals experience this process of depluralisation; full-scale intervention can result in a lack of monitoring alongside frustrations (about lost sovereignty for example), a combination which paves the way for radical ideology. Conversely, airstrikes present those underneath with unequal and unassailable power that cannot be fairly fought, fuelling interest in exporting terrorism back to the intervening countries.”

The critical role of state repression, then, is absolutely clear from the available data — but has had little tangible impact on the narcissistic echo chamber of state counter-terrorism strategies.

The state we’re in, but ignore

This suggests that much of what passes for ‘research’ in terrorism studies on the intricacies of the radicalisation process is fundamentally misguided.

Pinpointing multiple pathways to violent radicalisation, numerous overlapping risk-factors and complex interlinked causes has borne little fruit, because the whole enterprise is premised on the assumption that the focal point of analysis should be an internal, psychological change applying to an individual.

As a result, the wider historical, social, cultural, economic, political and ideological context of the radicalisation process has been neglected.

The failure of terrorism studies is not simply a matter of lack of data, but down to the bankruptcy of its very foundational assumptions, the very framing of the problem, and the questionable political and ideological context of that framing: state counter-terrorism policies.

And this brings us back to the central question of empirical analysis. To what extent have self-styled ‘terrorism experts’ really engaged with the empirical reality of terrorism?

The answer is not at all: because the vast bulk of terrorism studies is obsessed exclusively with the radicalisation of individuals, and networks of individuals. But the biggest perpetrators of terrorism, defined as political violence against civilians, are states themselves.

The problem is that primary sources of empirical data on terrorist incidents are either governments themselves, or government-sponsored think tanks and academic groups — which means that they systematically exclude data on terrorist incidents perpetrated by those governments.

A University of Illinois study by political scientist Gregory Holyk — a senior researcher for ABC News’s leading public poll provider Langers Research Associates — compared the lethality of US state terrorism and non-state terrorism between 1968 and 1978. The study found that “the mean number of people killed in state-sponsored terrorist events was significantly greater than the mean number killed in non-state terrorist events,” and cast doubt on the “focus on non-state terrorism in the literature.”

In her seminal 2009 Routledge study, State Terrorism and Neoliberalism: The North in the South, Professor Ruth Blakeley, Head of the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent, provided a further wealth of evidence on the vast extent to which Western states perpetrated terrorism during and after the Cold War. The death toll of this continuum of terror far outweighs the scale of atrocities by al-Qaeda and ISIS.

Even less palatable is the ongoing role of Western states in allying with other state-sponsors of Islamist terrorism, such as Pakistan, the Gulf states and Turkey — all of which have been implicated by credible primary source data in deliberately supporting extremist terrorist groups — for geopolitical purposes.

The emerging sub-field of ‘critical terrorism studies’, pioneered by the likes of Blakeley and others, is beginning to subject conventional academic discourses on terrorism to critical scrutiny. Researchers are opening up new historical, sociological and empirical approaches to understanding both non-state and state-terrorism.

Unfortunately, there’s still a long way to go before this research is able to do more than shine a somewhat unsavoury light on the mountains of shameless bullshit that has accumulated over the last few decades.


Dr Nafeez Ahmed is an investigative journalist, bestselling author and international security scholar. A former Guardian writer, he writes the ‘System Shift’ column for VICE’s Motherboard, and is a weekly columnist for Middle East Eye.

He is the winner of a 2015 Project Censored Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism for his Guardian work, and was twice selected in the Evening Standard’s top 1,000 most globally influential Londoners, in 2014 and 2015.

Nafeez has also written and reported for The Independent, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Scotsman, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, Quartz, Prospect, New Statesman, Le Monde diplomatique, New Internationalist, The Ecologist, Alternet, Counterpunch, Truthout, among others.

He is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Faculty of Science and Technology at Anglia Ruskin University, where he is researching the link between global systemic crises and civil unrest for Springer Energy Briefs.

Nafeez is the author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It (2010), and the scifi thriller novel ZERO POINT, among other books. His work on the root causes and covert operations linked to international terrorism officially contributed to the 9/11 Commission and the 7/7 Coroner’s Inquest.

March 19, 2016 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Islamophobia, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hillary Clinton And The Syrian Shoah

By Gilad Atzmon | March 19, 2016

From: Sidney Blumenthal To: Hillary Clinton Date: 2012-07-23

Quoting an Israeli security source Sidney Blumenthal wrote:

“[I]f the Assad regime topples, Iran would lose its only ally in the Middle East and would be isolated. At the same time, the fall of the House of Assad could well ignite a sectarian war between the Shiites and the majority Sunnis of the region drawing in Iran, which, in the view of Israeli commanders would not be a bad thing for Israel and its Western allies.” (https://wikileaks.org/clinton-emails/emailid/12171)

In 1982, Oded Yinon an Israeli journalist, formerly attached to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, published a document titled ‘A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties.’  The strategic plan later named ‘The Yinon Plan’ suggested that for Israel to maintain its regional superiority, it must break its neighboring Arab states into smaller sectarian units engaged in endless tribal wars. The Yinon Plan implied that Arabs and Muslims killing each other was an insurance policy for Israel.

Most commentators on the Middle East and American foreign affairs now realise that the chaos in the Middle East has a lot to do with Israel and its supportive Jewish lobbies around the world. However, thanks to the newly leaked Clinton email archive we may have a document that provides confirmation that the Yinon Plan was, de facto, an Israeli strategy to create sectarian chaos in the Middle East.

According to the Wikileaks archive of former US Secretary of State Clinton, it appears that in 2012 the Israeli intelligence service considered a potential Sunni-Shiite war in Syria a favorable development for the Jewish State and the West.

In an email sent by Sidney Blumenthal to Hilary Clinton, an Israeli source is quoted suggesting that Iran would lose “its only ally” in the Middle East if the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad collapses. Such a development in the view of Israeli commanders “would not be a bad thing for Israel and its Western allies,” Blumenthal wrote.

It is crucial to point out that in his email to Clinton, Blumenthal also quotes an alternative view that is more reasonable and is far less enthusiastic about the escalation in Syria. “Israeli security officials believe that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is convinced that these developments (expanding Arab civil war) will leave them [Israelis] vulnerable, with only enemies on their borders.”

This email allows us to look at a vivid Israeli political debate that occurred back in 2012. The Jewish State had to decide whether to destroy the Syrian people just to weaken Iran or alternatively to destroy Iran for the sake of destroying Iran. History suggests that a decision was taken to destroy the Syrians first. And the outcome must be disappointing for Israel —Iran is now stronger than ever.

Shockingly, in late 2015, after three years of disastrous Syrian civil war with hundreds of thousands of fatalities and millions of displaced people, Clinton, so it seems, still clung to the formula that Israel’s concerns with Iran should be fought on the expense of the Syrian people. In an email that US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton sent to an unknown account on 11/30/2015 Clinton wrote:

“The best way to help Israel deal with Iran’s growing nuclear capability is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad.”

Israel is not the only one to blame for the Syrian shoah; Hilary Clinton shares some of the responsibility. I suggest that Ms. Clinton consider inviting at least a few Syrian refugees to settle in Clinton’s suburban home. Such a move would prove that she can be empathetic, merciful and hopefully regretful.

March 19, 2016 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Australia Still Reluctant to Disclose MH17 Information

By James ONeill – New Eastern Outlook – 19.03.2016

When Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down over Eastern Ukraine on 17 July 2014, Australian politicians and the mainstream media, especially the Murdoch newspapers, were quick to apportion blame. Responsibility for the disaster was immediately attributed to Russia, either directly or thorough Russian support for the so-called “separatists” in the Donbass region.

For the Australian politicians and media it was a case of “guilty as alleged” although at that time in the immediate aftermath of the disaster there was no evidence upon which to form any conclusions.

Three days after the crash the United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press TV program said that the US had

“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.”

Mr Kerry did not specify how the US had this information, but it was a reasonable inference at that time that the data had come from US satellites.

Since Mr Kerry’s remarks it has been established by independent investigators that the US had at least three satellites in geo-stationary orbit over Eastern Ukraine on 17 July 2014 Two of these satellites are of the SBIRS type (GEO-1 and GEO-2), and a Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS) satellite. Between them they are able to perform continuous surveillance of the area of interest.

Some commentators have endeavoured to downplay the significance of this by suggesting that factors such as cloud cover impeded surveillance capability. This is self-evidently nonsense. As one of their prime functions is to detect missile launches, their defensive capability would be hopelessly compromised if something as simple as cloud cover impeded their capacity to provide a timely warning of missile launches.

The capability of these satellites certainly includes the ability to detect and track the launch of a BUK missile, the weapon most commonly described as the cause of the disintegration of MH17. They can similarly track an air-to-air missile, which is the alternative hypothesis that has been advanced.

There has been a great deal of contradictory information from official sources about this satellite data, which is itself suspicious. For example, on 19 December 2015 the Dutch chief prosecutor and coordinator of the criminal investigation into the disaster, Mr Fred Westerbeke, told the Dutch daily newspaper NRC :

“Satellite images showing how on July 17 Flight MH17 was shot out of the sky by a rocket do not exist. There has been a misunderstanding about this… There is no conclusive evidence from intelligence services with the answers to all the questions.”

If Mr Westerbeke was correct, then it clearly contradicts the claims made by Mr Kerry 17 months earlier. But Mr Westerbeke then contradicted his own earlier statements in a letter to the families of the Dutch victims in February 2016. In that letter Mr Westerbeke stated:

“The US authorities have data generated by their own security forces, which could potentially provide information on a rocket trajectory. These data have been confidentially shared with the Dutch Military Intelligence and Security Service (DISS). The DISS and the Public Prosecutor are now investigating in what form the US state secret information can be used in the criminal investigation and what will be provided in a so-called official report to the Public Prosecution. That special report can be used as evidence by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT).”

It seems a reasonable inference on the basis of that statement that the secret US satellite data does disclose the required information. Specifically, it answers the major question: who fired the missile and from where?

The issue that is publically troubling the JIT is how to use sensitive intelligence data in a public forum such as a trial of accused persons. The undisclosed problem for the JIT is twofold. If, as is widely suspected, the satellite data show that the BUK missile was fired by Ukrainian forces, then that will contradict 20 months of relentless anti-Russian propaganda. The western media are not good at admitting the error of their ways.

The second problem is the agreement of 8 August 2014 whereby the members of the JIT agreed not to disclose any information unless all the parties agreed. As one of those parties, Ukraine, is a prime suspect, it is unlikely that the evidence will ever be revealed if it in fact implicates Ukraine.

It is still the case that the Australian government has never acknowledged the existence of the 8 August 2014 agreement. It has not bothered to tell the Australian public why it entered into such an agreement when the public interest would demand a transparent and full investigation of the worst disaster to be inflicted on Australians since the Bali bombings of 2002.

Given the existence of Mr Westerbeke’s letter to the families of Dutch victims it is difficult to understand why the Australian media are persisting with the claim that the Americans have refused to release the data. Paul Malone’s claim to that effect in the Canberra Times of 12 March 2016 is plainly wrong. It is possible of course that Mr Malone is aware of the facts, but the two problems identified above prevent him disclosing those facts.

Apart from detecting the launch of a missile, the satellite data can pinpoint the precise point from which the missile was fired. In the present case that is supremely important.

The Report of the Dutch Safety Board (DSB) into the MH17 disaster, published in October 2015 only went as far as to narrow the location of the launch site to an area of 320 square kilometers. This was territory contested by both Ukrainian and separatists forces. Despite the uncertainty and non-attribution of culpability in the DSB Report, Australian politicians falsely claimed that the report “proved” that Russian backed separatists were responsible.

Apart from a complete failure by the Australian media to correct this false information, they have also failed to address two further pieces of relevant evidence found in the DSB Report.

The first piece of evidence is found in the technical appendices of the DSB Report. Appendix T (from the Dutch Intelligence Services) has clearly not been read by any member of the Australian mainstream media. This appendix stated, inter alia:

  • Although the separatists had captured a Ukrainian military base at Donetsk, the BUK systems located there were “not operational” and therefore “could not be used by the separatists.”
  • Although there was information pointing to the fact that the separatists had been supplied with heavy weapons by the Russian Federation, there were no indications that these were powerful anti-aircraft systems.
  • Although the separatists were trained to use weapons systems, there are no indications that they were being trained to use powerful anti-aircraft systems.
  • There was no evidence of any intention by the separatists to shoot down a civil aircraft.

Reports in the mainstream media imply that the firing of a BUK missile is a matter of pointing it at the sky and pushing the proverbial button. As Appendix T makes clear however, extensive training in their use is required.

Not only must the crews be trained to a high level of proficiency, for which Appendix T notes there is no evidence in respect of the separatists, the firing of a BUK missile also requires the ancillary use of radar systems. Again, there is no evidence that the separatists had such radar equipment.

There was evidence however, that radar equipment of the Ukrainian armed forces was operational at the relevant time and in the relevant location. The Russian authorities at a press briefing given on 21 July 2014 disclosed this. Again, the Australian media ignored this evidence.

Contrary to the vague generality of the DSB Report as to the launch location, we have a report by the Russian manufacturer of the BUK missile, Almaz-Antey, released at the same time as the DSB Report.

Almaz-Antey produced a detailed analysis of the data. Their conclusion was that the BUK missile was launched from the Zaroschenskoe area, which was under the control of the Ukrainian armed forces at the time. This report has never been mentioned in the Australian mainstream media, probably because its conclusions do not fit the official narrative.

Thus, Mr Malone in the Canberra Times states that the JIT investigation is “widely expected” to “confirm that the missile was launched from separatist held territory.” It would only be “widely expected” by those reliant upon the constant stream of disinformation and concealment of evidence common to the mainstream media’s coverage of the MH17 disaster.

It was noted above that there was an alternative hypothesis about the cause of MH17’s crash, namely an air-to-air missile, presumably fired by one of the Ukrainian fighter aircraft identified in the area in the Russian briefing of 21 July 2014.

The Russian forensic expert Albert Naryshkin comprehensively advanced the air-to-air missile theory in July 2015. His report (available only in Russian) concluded that although the specific weapon could not be unequivocally identified, the specific nature of the missile damage to the aircraft meant that the most likely weapon was a Python air-to-air missile.

This particular weapon was adapted for use by the SU-25 Scorpion fighter that was the type of fighter observed by Russian radar data on 17 July 2014 and reported on at the 21 July 2014 briefing.

The merits or otherwise of this hypothesis are beyond the scope of this article. Suffice to say that it was not considered by the DSB and any mention of it is conspicuously absent from the Australian media.

Three further recent developments are worth noting. The first of these was the Coronial Inquest held in Melbourne in November 2015 in respect of the Australian victims. The inquest has been reported by John Helmer on his website. Suffice to note here that the coronial inquiry was deeply flawed. It was marked by secrecy, the suppression of evidence, conflicts of interest, and a manifest desire to simply parrot the official line regardless of other evidence that is progressively emerging.

It accepted without question the conclusions of the DSB Report, even though that Report is incomplete, does not ascribe culpability as it awaits the JIT investigation, and for the reasons mentioned below, is far from flawless.

The second development worth noting is that both the Dutch and the Russians have released letters addressed to the families of the victims.

The Russian statement is by the Deputy Head of the Federal Air Transport Agency of the Russian Federation, Oleg Storchevoy. Mr Storchevoy takes the opportunity to address some of the misinformation about what Russia has and has not done to assist the official inquiry.

He notes, for example, that Russian primary radar data was provided to the DSB, together with telephone conversations and other data, in August 2014. Russian primary radar data was in fact the only such data available, as the Ukrainians had for some reason switched off their radar at the critical time.

The Russian data supplied to the DSB confirmed increased activity by Ukrainian BUK missile systems within the conflict zone ahead of the tragedy. That evidence was ignored by the DSB.

It might be interpolated here that the separatists have no air force, so the need for anti-aircraft systems to be active remains obscure. No explanation has been forthcoming from the Ukrainians.

Mr Storchevoy also drew attention to the unprecedented cooperation offered by Almaz-Antey, the BUK manufacturer which again was ignored by the DSB.

Mr Storchevoy noted that Russia has repeatedly pointed out that the Dutch technical investigation was performed in an extremely non-transparent and biased manner. He said that the Dutch authorities should also explain how they distorted facts and concealed data, and ignored important data supplied by the Russians.

These and other questions posed by Mr Storchevoy are legitimate and deserve careful consideration and response. Perhaps needless to add, no report of Mr Storchevoy’s statement has appeared in the Australian mainstream media.

The second letter was written to the families of the Dutch victims by the head of the JIT inquiry, Mr Fred Westerbeke.

Mr Westerbeke’s letter discussed, inter alia, that conclusions about the technical analysis of the aircraft debris should be available in the latter half of 2016. Importantly, as noted above, he confirmed that the Americans had provided data about the missile trajectory although the form in which that data can be used is unsettled.

Mr Westerbeke also said that the analysis of other data, including intercepted telephone calls, location data from telephones, images (unspecified), witness statements and technical calculations would enable “certain inferences” to be drawn about the rocket’s track.

Reference was also made to the English blogger Eliot Higgins who operates under the name of “Bellingcat.” Despite repeated critical analysis of Higgins’ falsification of data and manifest other errors, he continues to be reported in the western mainstream media as a reliable source.

Why western intelligence agencies, with their vast resources, would defer to one man operating out of his house in Leicester is explicable only if Higgins is seen as a useful conduit for what is invariably anti-Russian propaganda.

Westerbeke obliquely dismisses Bellingcat as a resource, as “providing no evidence of direct involvement of members of a Russian unit” in the shoot down on MH17. The claim of Russian direct involvement is one of the more sensational of Bellingcat’s claims faithfully and uncritically reported in the western media.

In the light of the Westerbeke letter, the Australian Federal Police were asked whether they agreed with the contents of the Westerbeke letter. Westerbeke had signed the letter on behalf of the members of the JIT (which includes Australia).

They were also asked whether a similar letter would be sent to the Australian families. The AFP’s response was a non-answer, saying only that the queries had been forwarded to the JIT!

Information has also been sought from the Prime Minister’s on what compensation the Australian victim families might expect. Under the relevant Australian legislation victims of terrorism are eligible for compensation up to $75,000. That possibility was raised by a number of mainstream media outlets in Australia in July 2014. In order to be eligible the Prime Minister must declare that the deaths of the Australian citizens were as a result of a terrorist attack.

The government had announced on 9 October 2013 that payments would be made to the victim’s families of other terrorist attacks pursuant to the prime ministerial declaration. The payments have been applied retrospectively, starting with the events of 11 September 2001. To date there have been 10 such declarations, the latest being the Paris attacks of 13 November 2015.

The Australian government has not declared the shooting down of MH17 to be a terrorist act for the purposes of the legislation. The reasons for this are unknown, although comment has been sought from the Prime Minister’s office.

Australian victim families still have other remedies available under the provisions of the Montreal Convention of 1999. Under Article 21 of that Convention damages of (approximately) $215,000 are set.

Potential liability of the carrier, in this case Malaysian Airlines, is however unlimited unless it can prove that the death “was not due to the negligence or other wrongful act or omission of the carrier or its servants or agents.”

Given that the evidence appears to suggest that MH17 either flew over a war zone of its own volition or was directed to do so by Ukrainian air traffic control, discharging that onus may prove difficult.

Proceedings seeking various declarations have been launched in the New South Wales Supreme Court by Tim Lauschet (2015/210056) against Malaysian Airlines, but that case is still at a preliminary stage.

The only clear point to emerge in Australia in the 21 months since the disaster is that the government and the mainstream media are determined to, on the one hand deny the public vital information about the disaster, and on the other hand maintain the fiction that the disaster was the fault of Russian backed separatists.

That line serves to justify the sanctions imposed on Russia and the continuing demonization of President Putin. If only Prime Minister Turnbull’s plea for an intelligent and adult dialogue was sincere. If that were the case the Australian public would be better informed than they are. It seems a very vain hope.

James O’Neill is an Australian-based Barrister at Law.

March 19, 2016 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism | , , , , | 1 Comment

SITE intelligence group: ‘Al-Qaeda’ claims attack on Statoil Gas Plant in Algeria, issues threat against shale gas production

Sputnik — 19.03.2016

The al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) Islamist group claimed responsibility for an attack with explosive munitions on Norwegian energy major Statoil’s facility in the Algerian Sahara, media reported Saturday.

The Norwegian oil and gas company declared state of emergency Friday following the attack on one of its gas facilities in Algeria. The In Salah Gas asset was hit by explosive munitions fired from a distance. No one was injured in the attack.

According to the SITE intelligence group, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb — banned in Russia — issued a statement threatening both the Algerian authorities and Western companies producing shale gas.

Background:

Statoil’s Gas Facility in Algeria Hit by Explosive Munitions

The U.S. Is Exporting Its Oil Everywhere

Saudi Arabian Oil Output and Exports Rise in January

GOP senators introduce new Iran sanctions bill

March 19, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Phony Scarcity | , , | 3 Comments

Clinton’s Email: Israeli Intel Claims Sunni-Shiite War Good for West

Sputnik — March 19, 2016

The intelligence service of Israel considers a potential Sunni-Shiite war in Syria a favorable development for the country and the West, according to an email archive of former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, released by WikiLeaks.

The author of the email, forwarded by Clinton in July 2012, argued that Israel is convinced Iran would lose “its only ally” in the Middle East, if the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad collapses.

“The fall of the House of Assad could well ignite a sectarian war between the Shiites and the majority Sunnis of the region drawing in Iran, which, in the view of Israeli commanders would not be a bad thing for Israel and its Western allies,” an email stated.

In addition, the author underscored that a potential Sunni-Shiite war would delay the Iranian nuclear program.”In the opinion of this [Israeli intelligence] individual, such a scenario would distract and might obstruct Iran from its nuclear activities for a good deal of time,” the email said.

The Israeli intelligence also considered the possible Sunni-Shiite war as a factor that could contribute to the collapse of the government in Iran.

“In addition, certain senior Israeli intelligence analysts believe that this turn of events may even prove to be a factor in the eventual fall of the current government of Iran,” the email said.

In March, WikiLeaks created a searchable archive for emails sent to and from Clinton’s private email server, while she served as the secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.

March 19, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , | Leave a comment

6 Jewish vigilantes jailed for Paris attack on Gaza fundraiser

MEMO | March 19, 2016

Six Jewish vigilantes were jailed in Paris yesterday over a “savage gang attack” targeting attendees at a fundraising event for Gaza in 2009 in the French capital.

The defendants used iron bars, baseball bats and bike chains in the onslaught, in which they deliberately targeted anybody who looked like a Muslim.

Among their victims was a 22-year-old singer who suffered a “lynching” by the 20-strong mob who chanted “Death to Arabs” and “Long live Israel”.

All were leading members of the Jewish Defence League (JDL), a notorious vigilante group that is outlawed in both America and Israel because of its links with terrorism.

Despite this, the JDL is allowed to demonstrate openly in France, and its yellow and black clenched fist flags are regularly seen at events across the country.

Video of JDL disrupting a pro-Palestinian gathering. Defendent, Jason Tibi, is the tall thug who has the Israeli flag snatched from his hands, and ends up with bloodied face.

The 10th Chamber of the Paris Correctional Court heard how all had beaten up Hatem Essabbak and Mustapha Belkhir outside a Paris theatre in April 2009.

The case is considered one of the most sensitive in recent legal history, because of the way it illustrates how the Israel-Palestine conflict has been exported to the streets of major French cities.

No less than five examining judges were involved in the Paris enquiry, with four resigning one after the other because of the intense pressure.

The six men found guilty of carrying out aggravated violent assaults were Jason Tibi, Rudy Lalou, Azar Cohen, Maxime Schaffier, Yoia Bensimou and Yoni Sulman.

Other JDL gang members are said to have fled to Israel to avoid prosecution, while Tibi has admitted serving in the Israeli army while waiting for his case to come to court. At least two of those convicted today have since fled to Israel.

The damning verdict reads: “The facts of this case illustrate how the violence was aggravated by victims being targeted because of their race and religion.”

Dominique Cochain, Essabbak’s barrister, said: “Normally, this type of case is dealt with within three months. It has to be said that this is a very sensitive issue.”

Video of the JDL rioting in Central Paris, and then hiding behind the French police once the pro-Palestinian group charges.

Essabbak, a 22-year-old singer at the time, was with his girlfriend outside the Adyar Theatre, close to the Eiffel Tower, on Sunday 12 April 2009.

Both were taking part in “Our Talents for Gaza” – a showbiz event raising money for the surviving families of more than 1,400 Palestinians, including 400 children, killed by Israeli forces during an offensive a few weeks earlier.

Essabbak was surrounded by the JDL men who used their iron bars, bats, bike chains, crash helmets and fists in the “unprovoked lynching”, the court heard.

Essabbak said: “I was repeatedly hit in the face, around the head and on both legs. I then fell to the ground, and was hit again around the head. They carried on until they saw I wasn’t moving. My life stopped on April 12 2009.’

Mustapha Belkhir went to help Essabbak, and was also badly beaten up. Both men ended up in hospital.

Witnesses heard the attackers shouting: “Have this, it’s for Gaza, you dirty Arab”, and “Us Jews are going to f*** you, you dirty race”.

Most of the JDL members had their faces covered, but their mobile phones were later traced to the scene of the attack.

Tibi – who was described in court as the leader of the group – at first denied any knowledge of the attacks, but admitted taking part when confronted with evidence.

Tibi and Sulman received two year sentences, while the others were handed sentences of between nine months and a year.

Twenty-seven-year-old Tibi has a previous prison conviction for smashing up a Palestinian book shop in Paris, and has been filmed fighting in Marseille.

Essabbak’s lawyer Cochain told the court: “The evidence is that Mr Tibi has not changed. Videos on Google show that in 2011 he disrupted a pro-Palestine meeting in the 14th arrondissement of Paris, accompanied by JDL members, and wanted to stop debate.”

“They were shouting slogans like ‘F*** Palestine’. He was also in Marseille in June 2011 to protest against the Gaza flotilla taking supplies to the blockaded Palestinian territory. His face was covered in blood and he was saying ‘I’m here to protest’, ‘Israel will live, Israel will vanquish’.”

The JDL is regularly involved in attacks on pro-Palestine activists, politicians, journalists and other perceived enemies across France.

There have been numerous calls to ban the JDL in France, with Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve condemning their behaviour as ‘excessive’.

March 19, 2016 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Canada rejects the rule of international law and embraces international barbarity

By Mark Taliano | American Herald Tribune | March 18, 2016

The United Nations’ (UN) Security Council Resolution 2254  clearly states that the war in Syria demands a “Syrian-led, Syrian-owned political transition to end the conflict.”  Additionally, it endorses “free and fair elections pursuant to the new constitution.”

In November, 2015, however, Canada defense minister Harjit Sajjan publically stated that “Assad must go”, basing his assessment on the “complexity of the problem” and “the horrible atrocities that have been committed to his (Assad’s) own people”. On both counts he is wrong: sustained evidence demonstrates that the foreign-backed mercenaries invading and destroying Syria are the culpable parties who are committing the atrocities. We also know that the invasion of Syria was planned well in advance, and that ISIS and its terror cohorts are deemed to be “strategic assets” by imperial war planners. Additionally, both historical evidence – the illegal invasions and destruction Iraq and Libya for example, and the US military doctrine of “unconventional warfare”  present a clear case that the terrorist invaders are Western proxies. The West uses proxies to avoid culpability and to avoid “putting boots on the ground”.

Decoded, then, Sajjan’s assertion is an endorsement for illegal regime change – in a sovereign country led by a (hugely popular) elected president — and it is an incitement to terrorism.

In the context of the carnage, imposed by the West,  on the Syrian peoples, an important question needs to be answered: What should Canada do?

A first step would be to reverse what Canada has already done.

Ken Stone, of the Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War, explained in a 2013 article, Canada’s Harper Government Supports Covert Mercenary War On Syria, Funds AL Qaeda Affiliated Rebels what Canada was already doing to support illegal regime change in Syria:

1. Organizing the covert mercenary war against Syria through the Group of Friends of the Syrian People (“Friends of Syria Group”);

2. Establishing a regime of economic sanctions against Syria and hosting, in Ottawa, the Friends of Syria Group’s International Working Group on Sanctions;

3. Funding and supporting the so-called “rebel” side;

4. Planning for an overt western military action against Syria;

5. Working with Syrian-Canadians antagonistic to the Assad government;

6. Contributing to the demonization of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and to the de-legitimation and isolation of his government.

In an interview with this writer, Stone explained what we should be doing:

We should withdraw our troops from the (illegal) US Coalition “against ISIS”; we should normalize diplomatic relations with Syria; we should end the (illegal) sanctions against Syria; we should withdraw from the “Friends of Syria Group”; and we should get out of NATO.

Canada needs an independent foreign policy within the framework of international law.  The US coalition does not have UN Security Council approval, nor does it have the consent of the elected government of the independent sovereign nation of Syria.  Merely “shifting assets” within the illegal coalition is not the answer, nor does it represent “real change”.

Currently, there are over 6 million internally displaced Syrians – those fleeing the invading mercenaries by seeking refuge in government-controlled areas – and over 4 million refugees.  Thanks to Syria and its allies, including Russia and Iran, these people are now slowly returning home.

The return of refugees and displaced Syrians to their homes so that they can rebuild their country and their lives, is much preferable to the hardships that surviving refugees and displaced peoples are currently enduring.

Lifting sanctions would be a first important step in achieving this goal. We have already witnessed the devastating effects of (pre-war) sanctions against Iraq, which were directly responsible for the deaths of about five million children under age five and over one million others, so we should not tolerate sanctions against Syria.  Propagandists pretend that the suffering of the Syrian people is Assad’s fault, but evidence demonstrates over and over again that we are responsible for the carnage, and illegal sanctions are part of the nexus of crimes creating the carnage. Instead of increasing spending with the framework of an illegal coalition, Canada should focus on legal, life-enhancing, humanitarian goals.

Current NATO efforts to illegally balkanize Syria should also be condemned.  On a “macro” level, it is increasingly apparent that this criminal plan for a New Middle East, (as described by Professor Tim Anderson) is creating an overseas holocaust, and is pushing us to the brink of a third world war.

Instead of participating in this clearly fraudulent “war on terror”, the offshoot of the 9/11 neo-con coup d’etat, and the subsequent wars of aggression that have destroyed Libya, Iraq, Ukraine, and Syria, Canada needs to take a stand for humanity and justice.

An acceptance of a “Syrian solution” as stipulated by UN Security Council Resolution 2254, coupled with humanitarian aid – as opposed to illegal warmongering and selling military weaponry to ISIS’s chief financier, Saudi Arabia — would represent “real change”. Canada’s present course, disguised beneath a façade of humanitarianism, needs to be rejected.

March 19, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , | Leave a comment