Aletho News


Hillary Lies on Fox News Sunday

By Stephen Lendman | July 31, 2016

On Fox News Sunday, July 31, Hillary willfully and maliciously lied, claiming she knows Russia hacked DNC emails – despite no evidence suggesting it, plenty indicating otherwise.

“We know that Russian intelligence services hacked into the DNC, and we know that they arranged for a lot of those emails to be released, and we know that Donald Trump has shown a very troubling willingness to back up Putin, to support Putin,” she blustered.

All of the above is false. A same day article explained Israeli military intelligence/Mossad connected DEBKAfile (DF) said “an analysis by (its) intelligence and cyber defense sources has determined that” DNC emails hacking “almost certainly (was) not carried out by (Russia’s GRU) cyber warfare branch.”

It gave credible reasons, notably explaining weeks or months of analysis are required, using “extra-powerful computers,” to determine the origin of the hack attack.

Hillary claiming she knows is more evidence of someone not to be trusted. She knows nothing. She willfully lied on national television. She’s done it for years on domestic and geopolitical issues.

Irresponsibly blaming Russia is a thinly veiled attempt to shift attention from her becoming Democrat standard bearer by electoral rigging – stealing, not winning it.

The possibility of her succeeding Obama should terrify everyone worldwide. Her rage for endless wars makes the risk of WW III on her watch greater than at any other previous time.

Stephen Lendman can be reached at

His new book as editor and contributor is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.

July 31, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 1 Comment

We need to talk about the bad science being funded

By Simon Gandevia | The Conversation | July 18, 2016

Spectacular failures to replicate key scientific findings have been documented of late, particularly in biology, psychology and medicine.

A report on the issue, published in Nature this May, found that about 90% of some 1,576 researchers surveyed now believe there is a reproducibility crisis in science.

While this rightly tarnishes the public belief in science, it also has serious consequences for governments and philanthropic agencies that fund research, as well as the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors. It means they could be wasting billions of dollars on research each year.

One contributing factor is easily identified. It is the high rate of so-called false discoveries in the literature. They are false-positive findings and lead to the erroneous perception that a definitive scientific discovery has been made.

This high rate occurs because the studies that are published often have low statistical power to identify a genuine discovery when it is there, and the effects being sought are often small.

Further, dubious scientific practices boost the chance of finding a statistically significant result, usually at a probability of less than one in 20. In fact, our probability threshold for acceptance of a discovery should be more stringent, just as it is for discoveries of new particles in physics.

The English mathematician and the father of computing Charles Babbage noted the problem in his 1830 book Reflections on the Decline of Science in England, and on Some of Its Causes. He formally split these practices into “hoaxing, forging, trimming and cooking”.

‘Trimming and cooking’ the data today

In the current jargon, trimming and cooking include failing to report all the data, all the experimental conditions, all the statistics and reworking the probabilities until they appear significant.

The frequency of many of these indefensible practices is above 50%, as reported by scientists themselves when they are given some incentive for telling the truth.

The English philosopher Francis Bacon wrote almost 400 years ago that we are influenced more by affirmation than negatives and added:

Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true.

Deep-seated cognitive biases, consciously and unconsciously, drive scientific corner-cutting in the name of discovery.

This includes fiddling the primary hypothesis being tested after knowing the actual results or fiddling the statistical tests, the data or both until a statistically significant result is found. Such practices are common.

Even large randomised controlled clinical trials published in the leading medical journals are affected (see – despite research plans being specified and registered before the trial starts.

Researchers rarely stick exactly to the plans (about 15% do). Instead, they commonly remove registered planned outcomes (which are presumably negative) and add unregistered ones (which are presumably positive).

Publish or perish

We do not need to look far to expose the fundamental cause for the problematic practices pervading many of the sciences. The “publish or perish” mantra says it all.

Academic progression is hindered by failure to publish in the journals controlled by peers, while it is enhanced by frequent publication of, nearly always positive, research findings. Does this sort of competitive selection sound familiar?

It is a form of cultural natural selection – natural, in that it is embedded in the modern culture of science, and selective in that only survivors progress. The parallels between biological natural selection and selection related to culture have long been accepted. Charles Darwin even described its role in development of language in his The Descent of Man (1871).

Starkly put, the rate of publication varies between scientists. Scientists who publish at a higher rate are preferentially selected for positions and promotions. Such scientists have “children” who establish new laboratories and continue the publication practices of the parent.

Good science suffers

In another study published in May, researchers modelled the intuitive but complex interactions between the pressure and effort to publish new findings and the need to replicate them to nail down true discoveries. It is a well-argued simulation of the operation and culture of modern science.

They also conclude that there is natural selection for bad scientific practice because of incentives that simply reward “publication quantity”:

Scrupulous research on difficult problems may require years of intense work before yielding coherent, publishable results. If shallower work generating more publications is favored, then researchers interested in pursuing complex questions may find themselves without jobs, perhaps to the detriment of the scientific community more broadly.

The authors also reiterate the low power of many studies to find a phenomenon if it was truly there. Despite entreaties to increase statistical power, for example by collection of more observations, it has remained consistently low for the last 50 years.

In some fields, it averages only 20% to 30%. Natural academic selection has favoured publication of a result, rather than generation of new knowledge.

The impact of Darwinian selection among scientists is amplified when government support for science is low, growth in the scientific literature continues unabated, and universities produce an increasing number of PhD graduates in science.

We hold an idealised view that science is rarely fallible, particularly biology and medicine. Yet many fields are filled with publications of low-powered studies with perhaps the majority being wrong.

This problem requires action from scientists, their teachers, their institutions and governments. We will not turn natural selection around but we need to put in place selection pressures for getting the right answer rather than simply published.

Simon Gandevia is Deputy Director of Neuroscience Research Australia.

July 31, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | 1 Comment

Lessons from Ukraine, ‘a surprising sort of success’.

Irrussianality | July 28, 2016

According to a new report by Princeton University’s Andrew Moravcsik, ‘Western policy to block Russian assertiveness in Ukraine has been surprisingly successful.’

The report, entitled Lessons from Ukraine: Why a Europe-led Economic Strategy is Succeeding, is published by the Transatlantic Academy, which describes itself as ‘a research institution devoted to creating common approaches to the long-term challenges facing Europe and North America.’ In a chapter entitled ‘Ukraine as a Western Policy Success’, the report says that ‘the current outcome in Ukraine, a “frozen conflict”, is in many respects a failure rather than a victory for Moscow, and a positive outcome for the West. … It is essential to remember that just two years ago, most observers … expected Russia to prevail easily.’ But, ‘Putin did not succeed’, and Russia ‘reversed its military advances, trimmed its ambitions, and eventually reverted to economic and diplomatic haggling with the West.’

‘Western policy success’ is thus measured not in terms of any positive gains by the West, but in terms of alleged ‘Russian failure’. This takes three forms, Moravcsik writes: 1) ‘Russia’s military was stalemated in the eastern Ukraine’; 2) ‘the Kremlin achieved few major political objectives in eastern Ukraine’; and 3) ‘with the insurgency in eastern Ukraine essentially over … Moscow’s only remaining alternative has been to negotiate with Ukraine and Europe using energy, trade, finance, domestic political influence, propaganda, and diplomacy.’

I can agree with number 2 of these: Russia certainly hasn’t gained anything out of the war in Donbass. But the other two propositions don’t match the facts. Russia’s military wasn’t stalemated – Ukraine’s was. It began the war against the insurgency in Donbass with a massive military advantage over its opponents, but in the end it failed to defeat them. Direct Russian military intervention in Donbass was brief, and was certainly not halted because of the efforts of the Ukrainian military. The Russians halted because they chose to halt, a fact which demonstrates the very limited nature of Russian objectives.

As I pointed out in an article in the journal European Politics and Society, ‘Moscow has largely been reacting to events and trying to gain some control of a process which was originally almost entirely outside of its control. Its primary aim has been to get the Ukrainian government to negotiate directly with the rebels, in order to produce a permanent peace settlement’. In that, the Kremlin has not succeeded. But it doesn’t make a lot of sense to talk about Moscow’s failure to ‘prevail’, when it wasn’t ever actually pursuing some broader objective of destroying Ukraine or the like. Moreover, since what Russia did want was precisely a return to negotiation, Moravcsik’s point 3 can hardly be said to constitute a failure.

In any case, it isn’t sensible to define Western ‘success’ purely in terms of Russian ‘failure’, as if international politics is entirely a zero-sum game. We must define success instead in terms of achieving some positive results for Western countries. It is hard to see what those might be. Moravcsik says that, ‘For Western governments, the ideal outcome would be for states of the former Soviet Union to evolve into prosperous market-oriented, democratic regimes able to control their own territorial sovereignty and cooperate with the West.’ In those terms, European policy towards Ukraine, from the time it pressed an EU association agreement on Ukraine, through its support of the Maidan revolution to today, has been entirely unsuccessful. Ukraine is now less prosperous, not obviously any more democratic, certainly not able to control its territory, and still divided about its relationship with the West, as shown by recent opinion polls indicating that support for NATO membership among Ukrainians has once again fallen below 50%.

The only real success Moravcsik can point to is that the Ukrainian economy has not completely collapsed because of the financial aid European countries have given, and indeed it is true that the provision of financial aid has had a more positive effect on the situation in Ukraine than anything else Western states have done. The one strong point of this report is that it makes this clear. Moravcsik pours some welcome cold water on NATO hawks who see Russia as a military threat which requires a firm military response. Commenting on the very limited extent of Russia’s military involvement in Ukraine, he writes:

The obvious lesson from Ukraine is that Putin lacks the political will to fight a major war even under the most propitious of circumstances. … If the Kremlin was unwilling to tolerate even modest expenditures of blood, treasure, and prestige to sustain a modest military advance in support of a majority Russian-speaking population in a small corner of Ukraine for a few weeks, why should we expect that it would attack even a weak NATO ally like Latvia or Estonia, let alone a heavily armed, strongly anti-Russian country without a substantial Russian minority, such as Poland?

Given that the answer to this question is that Russia wouldn’t do such a thing, Moravcsik concludes that Europe should focus on supporting Ukraine economically, rather than on resisting or deterring Russia militarily. This is a sound conclusion – a flourishing Ukrainian economy is in everybody’s interests (including Russia’s), and helping that economy would be far more productive than wasting yet more money on defence. But we shouldn’t kid ourselves that Ukraine, whose GDP per capita is a third of that of Gabon, is suddenly going to turn into Switzerland. Nor should we kid ourselves that Western policy in Ukraine has been anything other than a failure.

July 31, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , , | 2 Comments

War with Russia

Irrussianality | July 11, 2016

As NATO wraps up its summit meeting in Warsaw, it will no doubt be patting itself on the back for displaying ‘unity’ and ‘resolve’ in the face of ‘Russian aggression’, in particular by agreeing to station a semi-permanent garrison of four battalions in Poland and the Baltic States. If we are to believe NATO’s former Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Sir Richard Shirreff, such displays of strength are exactly what are needed to ‘deter’ Russia and prevent war. That is the message of a novel he has just published, entitled 2017. War with Russia. An Urgent Warning from Senior Military Command.


Shirreff’s book tells the story of a war between Russia and NATO in 2017. It comes with a foreword by former Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Admiral James Stavridis, who states that, ‘Of all the challenges America faces … the most dangerous is the resurgence of Russia under President Putin.’ In his own preface, Shirreff states that ‘Russia is now our strategic adversary’, due to Putin’s ‘self proclaimed intention in March 2014 of reuniting ethnic Russian speakers under the banner of Mother Russia’.  ‘The president’s vow to reunite “Russian speakers” … was little different from Hitler’s annexation of the Sudetenland in 1938’, says Shirreff, who denounces the West’s ‘failure to understand the realities of dealing with bullies.’ His book advertises itself as a warning of what could happen if Western countries fail to increase their defence spending.

War with Russia begins with Russian special forces abducting some American soldiers in Kharkov, where the Americans have been training Ukrainian forces. They then take the Americans back to Russia, where they are displayed on TV and accused of having crossed Russia’s border. Russian fighters then shoot down an American plane over Ukraine, again falsely claiming that it had crossed the frontier. The purpose is to provide an excuse to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. A false-flag operation in which the Russian Army fires artillery on a school in rebel-controlled Donbass, killing 80 children, and blames it on the Ukrainians, provides the final pretext for the invasion. Within a few days, Russian forces have swept the Ukrainian Army aside and established a land-bridge to Crimea.

Shirreff never refers to the Russian president by name, but some of the Russians in the book call him ‘Vladimir Vladimirovich’, so he is obviously meant to be Putin. One might wonder why Putin would launch an unprovoked war. According to Shirreff’s scenario, the answer is that his poll ratings are falling and he thinks that a short, successful war will restore his popularity. Shirreff also believes that Putin has long been yearning to reunite Eastern Ukraine and the Baltic States with Russia, and all that has been stopping him is fear of the consequences. Believing that NATO lacks the will to react, in Shirreff’s book Putin decides to seize the opportunity. Before his war in Ukraine is even over, he starts a second war, invading the Baltic States.

As a pretext for this invasion, Russian special forces carry out another false flag operation, using a sniper to kill some Russian speaking Latvians marching in a demonstration in Riga. Soon afterwards, Russian forces assault Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia in order to ‘protect Russian speakers’. In the process they attack an airbase manned by American servicemen, and bomb British and German ships docked in Latvia. Annoyed by the British, the Russian president then orders his troops to take action against the United Kingdom. As a result, a Russian submarine sinks the aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth, killing 900 people. All-out war between Russia and NATO erupts.

If we are take this scenario seriously, Russia’s leaders are idiotic, reckless and, quite frankly, psychopathic. Shirreff’s Putin is a cold-hearted villain, devoid of all humanity. After conquering the Baltics, for instance, he tells his staff:

Russian speakers must, of course, stay and are to be the basis of their new security forces. Any – and that includes Russian speakers – not prepared to swear the oath of allegiance to me as President are to be deported to the gulags.

The Russian president, says one of Shirreff’s characters, is ‘a ruthless predatory bastard’. ‘It’s long been obvious that he’s a self-obsessed nutter’, says another. Russians as a whole aren’t much better. ‘All knew that when the Russians exacted revenge, they did so with total ferocity’, we read. The commander of the Russian forces in Kaliningrad is described as having been famous for the ‘scorched earth approach he had taken to root out the Mujahidin in the Panjshir valley, regardless of the casualties to the civilian population … [he used] equally brutal tactics in the Chechen wars … which left thousands of men, women, and children dead. … [He] was now doing much the same in the Baltics.’ In general, as one of the Latvians in the book says,

You’ll never have a better friend than a Russian. And I have a number. They’ll give you their last kopek if you need it. They’ll laugh with you, cry with you, and drink with you to the end of time. But as a nation … as a neighbour … they’re horrible.

In short, Russia is just looking for the chance to invade its neighbours. Any sign of weakness on NATO’s behalf is potentially fatal. Shirreff’s characters give regular, and rather repetitive, lectures about the harm done by defence cuts and about how the war he describes is a direct result. The lesson of the book is clear: everything he describes could really happen unless we buck up and start spending more on defence right now.

Shirreff’s novel claims to present a genuine near-term possibility. In truth, it is a fantasy, as there is no evidence that Putin really is a reckless psychopath, and beggars belief that he would launch a full-scale invasion of the Baltic states out of the blue in the manner Shirreff describes. In any case, Shirreff’s belief that weakness invites invasion and that only powerful displays of strength can prevent it is based on a highly selective view of history in which we are always confronting Adolph Hitler in 1938. In 1914, war did not begin because the Austrians lacked resolve in the face of Serbian provocation, or because the Russians failed to show strength after Austria declared war on Serbia, or because Germany chose the path of weakness following Russia’s decision to mobilize its army. Quite the contrary – it was the obsessive belief that only strength could preserve peace that led to war.

Despite all this, Shirreff’s book does serve a useful purpose. As an analysis of the probable future or as a description of how the Russians think and behave, it is woefully wide of the mark. But as a depiction of the warped worldview of some of the Western world’s most senior military officers it is quite enlightening. It justifies its subtitle ‘An urgent warning’; just not quite in the way that its author imagines.

July 31, 2016 Posted by | Book Review, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | 3 Comments

Middle East prepares for Hillary’s war


By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | July 28, 2016

The big question this week ought to be about Hillary Clinton’s wars, if she gets elected as the next US president. Her hawkish temperament and her bandwagon comprising neoconservative ideologues, Israeli-Saudi lobbies, military-industrial complex and so on brings us to the epilogue of the ‘Obama Doctrine’ in US foreign policies.

Where will it be that Hillary will choose to wage her war? The high probability is that she will choose the Middle East – not Eurasia or Asia-Pacific. Why is it so?

For a start, Hillary Clinton, unlike her predecessor Barack Obama will not seek indeterminate wars. She will calculate how a war in her first term would help her win a second term in the 2020 election. Neither Russia nor China can be defeated in a short, swift war, while on the contrary, there is the real danger of her triggering World War III with horrific consequences that are impossible to predict.

It is in the Middle East that the neo-conservatives in the US will look for action, given their unfinished agenda of sending Iran to the Stone Age, an outcome without which the destruction of Iraq and Syria hasn’t ensured Israel’s regional hegemony.

Israel and Saudi Arabia, estranged allies of the US, are expecting a Middle Eastern war under Hillary. Last week, a former Saudi general visited Tel Aviv and held discussions with Israeli officials. (Times of Israel ) See an analysis by Simon Henderson at the Washington Institute titled Riyadh’s Diplomatic Dance with Israel.

The bottom line is, Israel and Saudi Arabia feel regional isolation. They failed to entrap Iran in a quagmire in Syria and/or Iraq. With Turkey’s course correction on Syria, Iran’s position further strengthens. The Islamic State and the extremist organizations, which Israel and Saudi Arabia covertly supported, are in retreat.

The latest incident of a Hezbollah drone flying over Israeli skies, photographing military deployments on the Golan Heights dramatically highlights that regional military balance is shifting. Meanwhile, Russia also refuses to ‘moderate’ Iran or Hezbollah, contrary to Israeli expectations.

Similarly, Turkey’s course correction following the July 15 coup attempt is a devastating blow to Saudi hopes of challenging Iran in Syria and Iraq. Saudi Arabia also cannot expect Israel to come and fight its war in Yemen or suppress the uprising in Bahrain. Israel knows it will get overstretched in any such misadventure in a Muslim country. Alas, Saudi Arabia cannot count on Egypt’s support, either. Egypt is a much weakened country and is also having serious problems in the Sinai region, apart from domestic political disarray.

In such a bleak scenario, how will Hillary manage to start a war in the Middle East? By the time she settles down in the White House, the ‘moderate’ rebel groups in Syria may have become an extinct species. Besides, without access to Turkey’s territory, the US will be had-pressed to stoke the fires of renewed conflict in Syria and Iraq.

Therefore, all things taken into account, Hillary may have to settle for a war directly involving Iran. Of course, that will also be the preferred choice and demand of her Saudi Arabian and Israeli friends.

But, how can Hillary provoke Iran into a war? Tehran has the intellectual resources and diplomatic acumen to avoid fighting wasteful wars to secure its interests.

However, there is one way out of this strategic dilemma – ratchet up tensions by undermining the 2015 nuclear deal, notwithstanding Iran’s compliance with its terms. If the US undermines the deal, that is sure to provoke Iran to retaliate by reviving its nuclear program. There is a powerful lobby in the US Congress that favors a return to confrontation with Iran.

Of course, if Iran retaliates by restarting its nuclear program, that can be the perfect alibi for Hillary to clamp sanctions and revert to the ‘containment strategy’. There is speculation that a Saudi-Iranian conflict is also within the realms of possibility. The Saudis are also coordinating with Israel. (New York Times )

Make no mistake, Iran will defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity with all the force at its command. It may even seek the help of Hezbollah. The recent appearance of a Hezbollah drone on Israeli skies could have been a display of capability. (See my blog Hezbollah thumbs the nose at Israel.)

Indeed, the US would have the perfect excuse to get involved militarily in the event of such a conflict affecting Saudi-Israeli security. Weakening Iran and setting it back by a few years will immensely help restore Israel’s regional supremacy, apart from removing from the Middle East region an insufferable thorn in the American flesh. An outright invasion is not necessary for that purpose. In geopolitical terms, it is a double whammy insofar as Russia will also be deprived of an irreplaceable ally without which its effective role on the Middle Eastern chessboard is unsustainable.

July 31, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Facing defeat, US threatens to balkanise Syria

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | July 31, 2016

The acerbic remarks calling into question Syria’s future as a sovereign country by the CIA chief John Brennan at the Aspen Security Forum meet in Colorado on Saturday betray a very high level of US frustration over emergent ground realities. (Reuters ) The Syrian government forces, supported by Russian forces and Iranian and Hezbollah fighters have encircled the strategic northern city of Aleppo. The extremist groups supported by the US and its allies are trapped in the city.

Meanwhile, Russia has announced the opening of ‘humanitarian corridors’ to facilitate civilians to leave the city and for terrorists to surrender. The Russian announcement makes the US look very foolish regionally for having been outwitted comprehensively.

Secretary of State John Kerry thought he’d engage Moscow on the diplomatic track by discussing a ceasefire and a tantalizing proposal to undertake joint operations in Syria, while on parallel track gain respite for opposition groups to recover lost ground in Aleppo. As the recent announcement on Nusra Front snapping links with Al-Qaeda exposes, the US game-plan was to gain time to legitimise its support for Nusra and insulate the group from Russian air attacks. On their part, the Russians simply played along, while allowing joint military operations with Damascus and Tehran for capturing Aleppo to continue.

The ‘humanitarian corridor’ is a double-edged sword. The humanitarian situation is indeed critical and Russian relief supplies convey a political message of reconciliation. Having said that, the refugees coming out of Aleppo would have eyes set on European destinations and they could include terrorists, too.

The following excerpts of a commentary by FARS news agency (which is linked to the IRGC) would give a sense of the triumphalism in Tehran that the US and Saudi Arabia have lost the war:

  • The foreign-backed attempt to regime change Syria and establish an ‘American Caliphate’ in the Levant has failed and is now history…. A large number of terrorists from Al-Nusra, Noureddin Al-Zinki, Free Syrian Army, Ahrar al-Sham and other groups have laid down their arms and surrendered to the Syrian Army in Aleppo province as allied forces (Syrian soldiers backed by Hezbollah, Iranian military advisors and Russian airstrikes) are racing towards Aleppo after completing siege of the city.
  • President Bashar Assad has offered an amnesty for rebels who surrender within three months. The Syrian Army has dropped thousands of leaflets over militant-held districts in Aleppo, asking residents to cooperate with the military and calling on militants to surrender.
  • Well, the party is clearly over and the foreign-backed terror machine seems to be a doomed project. This is the historical moment we are in… Those who backed ISIL and many other terror outfits are just going to have to own up to what Syria and Iraq have become… On the other hand, the trend lines on the War on Terror, refugee crisis, anti-Islam and anti-Muslim propaganda, failure of Western democracy and the vast militarised police and security system all point toward deep trouble in Europe as well. On refugee and humanitarian issues alone the crisis will deepen and most likely in a dramatic way. Recent terror attacks in France and Germany suggest they are woefully unprepared for what lies ahead.

The mother of all ironies will be that European countries face the spectre of terrorists knocking at the gates, who were trained and equipped by the CIA. Brennan’s threat to balkanize Syria is bravado, since any such misadventure will be opposed not only by Tehran, Damascus and Moscow but also by Ankara. (Al-Arabiya )

Tehran has announced that a delegation led by the chief of the foreign and security policy commission of Majlis, a key figure in the Iranian foreign-policy establishment, will go to Damascus on a 5-day mission to discuss with President Bashar Al-Assad the political and diplomatic trajectory ahead to garner the ‘peace dividend’. (Tehran Times )

Read a Russian commentary Four Reasons Why Liberation of Aleppo Would Mean an End to the Syrian War.

July 31, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment