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EU To Spend Quarter Of Budget On Climate Policies

Not A Lot Of People Know That | April 30, 2018

Bear in mind this is only the tip of the iceberg, as individual countries are already standing the major costs themselves of climate policy.

The EU Budget is about 150bn euro pa. If anything shows how fatuous the whole EU project is, this must be it:

Climate-Linked Spending Set to Rise to a Quarter of EU Budget

Bloomberg | April 30, 2018
  • European Commission to present 2021-2027 budget proposal May 2
  • Climate to be component of regional aid, transport spending

The European Union’s executive is poised to propose spending 25 percent of funds available in next EU multiannual budget on activities related to climate protection, making sure new economic and political challenges don’t weaken the bloc’s resolve to fight pollution.

The European Commission’s blueprint for the 2021-2027 budget, to be proposed on May 2, will boost the so-called climate mainstreaming from 20 percent in the current multiannual financial plan, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. The funds for reducing emissions and adapting to climate change will be earmarked under policies such as regional aid, transport, research and external relations, said the person, who asked not to be identified because talks on the draft budget are private.

April 30, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Science and Pseudo-Science | | Leave a comment

Israel revokes residency of 4 Jerusalemite officials

Palestine Information Center – April 30, 2018

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM – Palestinian human rights sources said that Israel decided on Sunday to strip four Jerusalemite officials of their permanent residency under the pretext of not being loyal to Israel.

Lawyer Fadi al-Qawasmi said that Israel’s Interior Minister Aryeh Deri decided to revoke the residency of MPs Mohammed Abu Tir, Ahmad Attoun, and Mohammed Toutah as well as former Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Khaled Abu Arafa.

Al-Qawasmi said in press statements that the decision came after the Knesset approved a new bill earlier in March that allows the Interior Minister to strip any Jerusalemite of his residency rights if he is involved in “terrorism” or “anti-Israel acts”.

According to al-Qawasmi, the Israeli Supreme Court in mid-September 2017 overturned a decision to revoke the residency of the Jerusalemite MPs. However, it decided to give the Israeli government a time limit to enact a law that gives the Interior Ministry the authority to strip any Jerusalemite of his residency.

The Palestinian lawyer described the bill as “unfair” and “illegal”, saying that it was applied retroactively. He affirmed that he will return to Israeli courts to oppose the decision.

The Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the Druze in the Syrian Golan Heights are considered residents not citizens by the Israeli authorities. Revoking their residency, according to the new bill, means expelling them permanently from these territories.

In 2006 the Israeli authorities confiscated the ID cards of the four Jerusalemite MPs after arresting them following their participation in a protest in Occupied Jerusalem. They spent several months in Israeli jails before they were deported to the West Bank.

April 30, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Korean “peace pipeline” gains traction

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | April 30, 2018

The two “peace pipelines” – one carrying Iranian natural gas via Pakistan to India and a second transporting Russian gas via North Korea to South Korea – surfaced as tantalizing ideas roughly a decade ago. They were promptly lampooned as “pipedreams”. But the Russia-DPRK-ROK pipeline (RDR) is having the last laugh on its detractors, thanks to the “thaw” on the Korean Peninsula.

The South Korean President Moon Jae-in telephoned Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday to personally brief him on the outcome of the inter-Korean summit in Panmunjom last Friday. The Russian readout says that during the conversation, Putin “reaffirmed Russia’s readiness to continue facilitating practical cooperation between the Republic of Korea and the DPRK, including through major trilateral projects in infrastructure and energy.”

The South Korean media reported that Putin “stressed the need to take advantage of the success of the inter-Korean summit to launch economic cooperation projects between the two Koreas and Russia” and flagged, in particular, that “connecting railways, gas pipelines, and electric power transmission between Russia and the Korean Peninsula via Siberia will contribute to the stability and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula.”

Earlier, in a statement in Moscow on Friday, Russian Foreign Ministry had welcomed the Panmunjom summit as “a significant step by Seoul and Pyongyang to national reconciliation and the establishment of strong relationships of independent value.” The statement said, “We are ready to facilitate the establishment of practical cooperation between the DPRK and the Republic of Korea, including through the development of tripartite cooperation in the railway, electricity, gas and other industries.”

Moon understands that Russia is uniquely placed to provide underpinning for inter-Korean reconciliation in practical terms. A Russian rail-cum-pipeline transiting North Korea toward South Korea is a “win-win” project. Russia is a gas superpower, while the two Koreas are dependent on energy imports.

A RDR gas pipeline was discussed in 2011 during a rare visit by then North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il to Russia with then President Dmitry Medvedev at a summit in Ulan-Ude near Lake Baikal in Siberia. They reportedly discussed a pipeline that will send natural gas from Sakhalin Island to South Korea. Russia had previously discussed this idea during a summit at Moscow between the then South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Medvedev in 2008.

Seoul can expect huge economic benefits as it would receive gas from Russia on a cheap and stable basis. Gas accounts for one-seventh of its energy consumption. The project held the potential to bring North Korea at least $100 million annually as transit fee alone, apart from giving access to much-needed access to energy at a cheap price. Besides, of course, the RDR would help stabilize the inter-Korean ties.

The fly in the ointment is going to be the United States. Simply put, RDR may fuel regional integration, which can hurt US interests. It remains to be seen how the US can stop the RDR except by undermining the dynamics of the Korean reconciliation. But Moon is a leftist politician and taps into the deep yearning for Korean reconciliation among the South Korean people. Moon is tactful and is making it look as if Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” approach is working, while in reality pushing his normalization plans vis-à-vis North Korea.

When Moon met Putin in September last year on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum at Vladivostok, there was discussion on South Korean investment in the development of Siberia and Russian Far East. A month ago, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said that the normalization of the North Korean crisis might pave the way for resuming the project involving the construction of a gas pipeline that would connect Russia and the two Koreas. During Sunday’s conversation, Putin invited Moon to visit Russia during the FIFA World Cup in June-July. South Koreans are crazy about football.

From the Russian perspective, RDR’s main attraction lies in the potential for integration of the South Korean and Russian economies. (A parallel Trans-Korean Railway project is expected to be connected to Russia’s Trans-Siberian Railway.) Quite obviously, Russia gains significant advantages through a privileged transportation link to the LNG market in the Asia-Pacific. Thus, Moscow favorably views Moon’s Trustpolitik, whose logical progression could open the door to Korean unification, elimination of nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula and reducing the prospect of a US-led war on Russian borders. Looking ahead, South Korean society is already divided on the presence of the US military. South Korea demonstrates greater foreign policy autonomy than Japan – and is less devoted to the rivalry between the US and China than Japan. South Korea refused to yield to US pressure to apply sanctions against Russia.

April 30, 2018 Posted by | Economics | , , | 3 Comments

Corbyn should learn his lesson: compromise with the devil is not an option

By Kit Knightly | OffGuardian | April 30, 2018

There are two kinds of compromise: the strong compromise, and the weak.

The former is where you cede an interest to uphold a principle, the latter when you ignore your principles to further your interests.

The first is an important tool in all aspects of life, the second should almost always be avoided. Jeremy Corbyn should learn that lesson.

Twice in recent weeks Corbyn’s leadership has faced an opportunity to cede a point of principle in order to further – as they apparently see it – the interests of their party. Both times they have done so, both times were a huge mistake.

Antisemitism

The first question is: What does “Antisemitism in the Labour party” actually mean?

Let’s start by acknowledging what it isn’t. Criticising the government of Israel is not antisemitic. Supporting Palestine in its struggle for emancipation and justice is not antisemitic. Opposing George Soros’s neoliberal crusade through his various NGOs is not antisemitic. Accusing a Blairite MP (who happens to be Jewish) of working hand in hand with the right-wing press to undermine Corbyn is not antisemitic. Claiming Hitler was a “Zionist” may or may not be accurate, but it is not antisemitic. Even supporting the freedom of expression for a painter who makes a mural about the 1% that some third parties allege might appear to represent unflattering images of Jewish people (even though the artist denies it completely) is not antisemitic, unless specific intents can be established.

When we remove all these non-antisemitic incidents from the list of alleged “antisemitism” in the Labour Party, how much real antisemitism remains?

Very little to none would seem to be the answer. You might even argue there is less antisemitism within the Labour party than within the general population. Certainly there’s little evidence of any more. Ken Livingstone shows no signs of being antisemitic. Nor does the latest victim of the latest purge – Marc Wadsworth.

Wadsworth – a veteran anti-racism campaigner – has been expelled from the party for notionally being racist (it was actually “bringing the party into disrepute”, the evidence of racism was so little they couldn’t even officially call it that). He has been effectively sacrificed to appease the state-sponsored and state-supporting media in the UK.

This is a terrible mistake. By conceding this point of principle in order to gain a perceived strategic advantage Corbyn’s team have in fact conceded both principle and strategy to a force that has no interest in compromising with them and simply wants them gone. The result is this:

1. Labour’s right-wing, (who DO, demonstrably, work “hand in hand” with the anti-Corbyn press), have been allowed to define what “antisemitism” means, and they are going to take full advantage of this. From now on, any Labour MP or even grassroots member who criticises Israel’s genocide against the Palestinians – or who simply disagrees with another Labour member who happens to be Jewish – can look forward to being shamed and expelled. How does Corbyn see this as furthering the cause of freedom and democracy?

2. They have accepted the lie as truth. A man has been expelled for antisemitism. Even though the grounds are spurious, it will in future be cited as evidence that the left does indeed have a problem with antisemitism.

Corbyn’s team decided to play soft and weak, in the hopes that letting a little blood would sate the thirst of the media. But you don’t abate a feeding frenzy by chumming the water. You don’t compromise with the devil by selling a piece of your soul. They have made it immeasurably worse. Livingstone and Walker will follow, and slowly Corbyn’s allies in the party will be chipped away.

Russia

The same exact process is playing out with the “Russian interference” situation. When the first accusations of being “soft on Putin” were thrown around, the strong principled position to take would be to dismiss the smears as racist and stupid. Argue the issues, ignore the white noise of smear and innuendo.

Corbyn’s principles, and those of the Labour party, dictate that they should stand against prejudice, abuse, censorship and summary justice.

They COULD have made statements that RT is just as valid a medium to be interviewed on as the BBC or CNN. They could have pointed out that Russian money in London is fleeing Putin’s crackdown on the oligarchs. They could have stood by the truth, and to hell with what the press say.

Instead Corbyn’s camp saw a chance to score some easy points in the media. McDonnell decided to publicly denounce RT, whilst the “leftwing” press tried to attack the Tories for their “dirty” Russian donors. Instead of saying “this campaign of demonising Russians is degraded & offensive”, they said effectively “Yes, Russians are demons, but they like the Tories more than us!”

This is potentially a more egregious mistake than the antisemitism issue. Firstly, it endorses the quasi-racist idea that all things Russian are inherently tainted with evil. Secondly, it undermines RT, an important voice for alternative politicians in the UK. And it opens the gates to this:

Headline in the Sunday Times, April 29 2018

This is the most predictable headline I have ever seen. It’s more predictable than sunrise or the tides or the waning moon. It was destined from the moment of his first leadership victory. And Corbyn has no one to blame but himself.

By allowing the “Russiagate” hysteria to blossom without challenge, by allowing the memes of “dirty Russian money” in London, and the “Russian influence” of the Brexit vote to go unchecked, Corbyn has encouraged the climate where people can be “denounced” in true McCarthyite fashion. And now he is paying the price.

Corbyn seems to think a few little compromises will get him accepted in the mainstream media. It pains me to say it, but this is fundamentally untrue. You can’t compromise with someone who wants nothing but your total destruction. Hopefully Corbyn has learned this lesson by now.

And truth in politics is important, it has power, not simply through its rarity. Corbyn’s power came from telling truths we all knew and no one else was saying, and he has undermined it by allowing convenient lies to stand.

You can’t build a greater truth on a foundation of small, convenient lies. When a person tells a lie, it is an act of weakness to allow it to stand. Responding “Yes, but”, does nothing but reinforce the initial dishonesty.

You cannot allow the deep state to use their tools in the media to set the narrative. You cannot try to meet them in the middle, because they’ll just use that leverage to pull you further over to their side. A half-truth is just a lie that lacks conviction, and by letting them slide you allow the media to set the width of the Overton window.

Jeremy Corbyn is a good man, his entire career – apparently his entire outlook on life – is built around principle. It’s those principles that got him elected leader and made him so popular. He should not compromise them now, in order to appease people who will never be appeased.

April 30, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

The UK Government’s Skripal Conspiracy Theory – or The Art of Holding a Mass of Contradictory Thoughts in Your Head

By Rob Slane – TheBlogMire – April 30, 2018

The Official Narrative on the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal is a collection of illogical claims and assertions that cannot be made to fit together, that make no rational sense, and which would require us to hold a mass of contradictory thoughts in our head if we were to accept it. It is in short a conspiracy theory, and a particularly bad one at that.

As I have pointed out before, I am not attempting to counter this conspiracy theory with one of my own. I make no claims to know what happened in the Skripal incident. I am merely stating that the story that the UK Government and media have so far asked the public to believe cannot be true, since it is full of discrepancies and claims that are impossible to reconcile with the known facts.

They are, of course, welcome at any time to show how those contradictions and improbable assertions can be reconciled, but until such time as they advance a compelling and coherent explanation, rational and objective observers shall just have to assume that these contradictions exist for a reason – namely that the official narrative of what happened in the Skripal case is not in fact what really happened in the Skripal case.

So what exactly are those contradictory elements and improbable assertions in the Official Narrative, which place it firmly in the territory of a Very Bad Conspiracy Theory? There are many, but below are 10 of the most obvious:

1. A lethal nerve agent followed by a drink and a meal

The Official Narrative requires you to believe not only that Sergei and Yulia Skripal were poisoned by the military grade nerve agent A-234, a substance which is said to be 5-8 ten times the toxicity of VX nerve agent (which itself has a median lethal dose of 10mg), and the effects of which are said to take place within 30 seconds to two minutes.

… But also that after coming into contact with this substance, they then spent the next four hours wining and dining in the City of Salisbury.

2. A deadly nerve agent without antidote, but where everyone is fine

The Official Narrative requires you not only to believe that Mr and Miss Skripal were poisoned by a deadly nerve agent with no known antidote (according to Gary Aitkenhead, Chief Executive of Porton Down), and for which treatment is “practically impossible”, according to The Handbook of Toxicology of Chemical Warfare Agents.

… But also that just a few weeks later, both were fine and one of them at least was fit to be discharged from hospital.

3. Symptoms that don’t match those produced by the substance allegedly used

The Official Narrative requires you to believe that the Skripals were poisoned by a substance which produces the following symptoms:

“Acetylcholine concentrations then increase at neuromuscular junctions to cause involuntary contraction of all skeletal muscles. This then leads to respiratory and cardiac arrest (as the victim’s heart and diaphragm muscles no longer function normally) and finally death from heart failure or suffocation as copious fluid secretions fill the victim’s lungs.”

… Yet according to witnesses at the bench in The Maltings, Mr Skripal was making “strange hand movements”, “looking up to the sky” and “looking out of it” – symptoms which strongly suggest poisoning by a hallucinogenic, such as BZ or Fentanyl, and not A-234, which tends to produce death, rather than hallucinations.

4. That Salisbury District Hospital mistook the symptoms of military grade nerve agent for opioid poisoning

The Official Narrative requires you to believe that the Skripals were the victims of poisoning by a lethal nerve agent, which produces the symptoms mentioned above, including “involuntary contraction of all skeletal muscles”, “respiratory and cardiac arrest” and “finally death from heart failure or suffocation.”

… Yet it also requires you to believe that Salisbury District Hospital completely mistook the symptoms of nerve agent poisoning for opioid poisoning — even though the symptoms are very different — since on the following day a press release was issued stating that they were treating the pair for exposure to Fentanyl:

(This, by the way, is extremely interesting. The screen shot above is the original report on the website of Clinical Services Journal, and it can now be found on the website, web.archive.org. The original piece, however, has since been updated on the Clinical Services Journal, not with a correction, but with the reference to Fentanyl being removed altogether (compare here with here h/t Dilyana Gaytandzhiev)

5. A lethal nerve agent that can be dealt with by water and baby wipes

The Official Narrative requires you not only to believe that the substance which poisoned the Skripals is so deadly that Mr Skripal’s house may need to be demolished and a multi-million pound clean-up of Salisbury with chaps in HazMats a necessity.

…But that the same substance can be treated with warm water, soap and baby wipes, as evidenced by the advice given by Public Health England (PHE) a week after the incident, to anyone who may have come into contact with it:

“Wash the clothing that you were wearing in an ordinary washing machine using your regular detergent at the temperature recommended for the clothing. Wipe personal items such as phones, handbags and other electronic items with cleansing or baby wipes and dispose of the wipes in the bin (ordinary domestic waste disposal)… Other items such as jewellery and spectacles which cannot go in the washing machine or be cleaned with cleansing or baby wipes, should be hand washed with warm water and detergent and then rinsed with clean cold water. Please thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water after cleaning any items.”

6. The nerve agent went undetected on a door handle for weeks

The Official Narrative requires you not only to believe that the assassins poured “military grade nerve agent”, in liquid form, on the handle of Mr Skripal’s front door, and that the British Government had possession of an FSB “assassin’s handbook” detailing this procedure.

… But that despite apparently having this handbook, the door handle theory was only mentioned more than three weeks after the incident, during which time many people (such as the unsuspecting policewoman at the top of this piece), came within a few feet of a door apparently smeared with lethal nerve agent, with no protective clothing, and suffered no ill effects.

7. The highly volatile nerve agent that was still highly pure weeks later

The Official Narrative requires you not only to believe that the substance examined in blood and environmental samples by the OPCW, weeks after the incident was:

“…of high purity. The latter is concluded from the almost complete absence of impurities.”

… But also that the substance used is known to be both unstable and vulnerable to water – and Salisbury definitely had plenteous rain and even snow between the incident and the coming of the OPCW!

8. That the substance used is proof of Russian state culpability

The Official Narrative requires you to believe that because the substance allegedly used was first developed in Russia (actually Soviet Union), there are only two explanations for the poisoning:

  1. It was an act of the Russian state
  2. That the Russian state lost control of its stocks

… Yet it requires you to believe this in the full knowledge that not only have other countries produced it (the United States has been patenting “Novichok” products for years; Iran produced it in 2016; and the United Kingdom possesses samples of it), but according to the chairman of the OPCW, Ahmet Uzumcu, A-234 could be produced:

“…in any country where there would be some chemical expertise.”

9. That the movements of Detective Sergeant Bailey on 4th March cannot be officially confirmed

The Official Narrative requires you to believe not only that Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, who is a member of Wiltshire Criminal Intelligence Department (CID), was poisoned with the same substance as the Skripals.

…But that his movements cannot be established, since it has still not been officially confirmed whether he was at the bench in The Maltings or at Mr Skripal’s house (and in point of fact, either scenario is remarkably odd, since D.S. Bailey is a member of CID, and there was no suggestion until at least 24 hours after the incident that a crime may have been committed).

10. The cleansing of Salisbury hotspots, but not all Salisbury hotspots  

The Official Narrative requires you to believe not only that there are parts of Salisbury that may be contaminated with a lethal substance, and that this will require a clean up operation involving thousands of man hours, costing millions, and taking months to complete.

…But that some of these areas were no danger to the public for a month-and-a-half, when they were cordoned off with nothing more than police tape. In addition, some of the areas that the Skripals were known to have walked down after apparently coming into contact with the substance, such as the Market Walk, have been free to the public to walk through since the start of the incident and remain completely open (I know this personally, because as a Salisbury resident, I have walked through the Market Walk in the last few days).

*  *  *

Put all these things together — and this is not to even mention the current condition and whereabouts of the Skripals — and what you have is a theory in which claims are flatly contradicted by basic facts, many so-called facts are simply not facts at all, and assertions are made without any recourse to the reality on the ground. It is abundantly clear that the Official Narrative not only did not happen; it cannot have happened. As things stand it is “highly likely” that what we have been told is a conspiracy theory of “high purity”, “of a type developed by Whitehall.”

April 30, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | | 1 Comment

Google, Big Tech and the US War Machine in the Global South

By Michael Kwet | CounterPunch | April 27, 2018

The recent Facebook and Cambridge Analytica fiasco deepened public concern about the political power and allegiances of Big Tech corporations. Soon after the story went viral, 3,100 Google employees submitted a petition to Google CEO Sundar Pichai protesting Google’s involvement in a Pentagon program called “Project Maven”.

Last week, the Tech Worker’s Coalition launched a petition protesting tech industry participation in development for war, urging Google to break its contract with the Department of Defense (DoD). Will Pichai respond?

Google has a lot to answer for. In March 2016, then US Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter, tapped then Alphabet CEO Eric Schmidt to chair the DoD’s new Innovation Advisory Board. The Board would give the Pentagon access to “the brightest technical minds focused on innovation” –  culled from Silicon Valley.

More recently, details about Project Maven emerged. The project uses machine learning and deep learning to develop an AI-based computer vision solution for military drone targeting. This innovative system turns reams of visual data – obtained from surveillance drones – into “actionable intelligence at insight speed.”

Because there are many more hours of surveillance footage than a team of humans can view, most of the footage cannot be evaluated by Pentagon workers. Using AI, Project Maven steps in to make sure no footage goes unwatched. The AI performs analytics of drone footage to categorize, sift and identify the items the DoD is looking for – cars, people, objects and so on – and flag the sought-after items for a human to review.  The project has been successful, and the Pentagon is now looking to make a “Project Maven factory”.

Reports of Google’s participation in Project Maven comes amidst news they are bidding alongside Amazon, IBM and Microsoft for a $10 billion “one big cloud” servicing contract with the Pentagon. Eric Schmidt, who is no longer CEO of Google or Alphabet, but who remains a technical advisor and board member at Google’s parent company Alphabet, claims to recuse himself of all information about Google AI projects for the Pentagon, because he also chairs the DoD’s Innovation Advisory Board.

Schmidt’s central role in this story underscores controversy about Google’s close relationship to the US military. In 2013, Julian Assange penned an essay highlighting Google’s sympathy for the US military empire in his essay, The Banality of ‘Don’t Be Evil’– a criticism of Schmidt and Jared Cohen’s co-authored book, The New Digital Age.

In 2015, Schmidt hosted Henry Kissinger for a fireside chat at Google. He introduced Kissinger as a “foremost expert on the future of the physical world, how the world really works” and stated Kissinger’s “contributions to America and the world are without question.”

For many, Henry Kissinger’s “contributions” are drenched in the blood of the Global South. Declassified documents show that during the Vietnam/Indochina War, Kissinger, then a national security advisor, transmitted Nixon’s orders to General Alexander Haig: use “anything that flies on anything that moves” in Cambodia. According to a study by Taylor Owen and Ben Kiernan (Director of Genocide Studies at Yale University), the United States dropped more tons of bombs on Cambodia than all of the Allies during World War II combined. Cambodia, they conclude, may be the most bombed country in history. By all reason, Kissinger should be tried for genocide.

Carpet bombing Cambodia is just one of many crimes carried out by Dr. Kissinger. During his time in government, he bolstered “moderate” white settler-colonial forces in Southern Africa to subvert the black liberation struggle for independence and self-determination. The US deemed Nelson Mandela, the African National Congress and other, less-recognized black liberation groups as “terrorist” and “communist” threats to US interests. The apartheid regime subjugated the black majority not only inside South Africa, but in brutal wars across the border in countries like Angola and Mozambique.  More than 500,000 Africans died in Angola alone.

US corporations profited from business in the region, and provided white supremacists the arms, vehicles, energy resources, financial support and computer technology used to systematically oppress black people. IBM was a primary culprit, supplying the apartheid state with the bulk of computers used to denationalize the black African population and administer the state, banks, police, intelligence and military forces.

On April 6, 2018, Kissinger welcomed one of today’s new tech leaders, Eric Schmidt, to keynote the annual Kissinger Conference at Yale University. This year’s theme was Understanding Cyberwarfare and Artificial Intelligence. After praising the ROTC and Ash Carter (both in attendance), Schmidt told the audience it is a “tremendous honor to be on the same stage as Dr. Kissinger, and we all admire him for all the reasons we all know.” In his speech, he spoke of how the US must develop AI to defend against today’s familiar adversaries: the “nasty” North Koreans, the Russians, the Chinese. A couple of Yale students were kicked out for protesting.

In decades past, human rights advocates famously challenged the development of technology for racial capitalism. Activists, including students and workers, pressured IBM, General Motors and other corporations to stop aiding and abetting apartheid and war.

Today, a new wave of technology is being tapped by military and police forces. IBM has partnered with the City of Johannesburg for early efforts at “smart” policing, while Africa and the Middle East are targets of the US drone empire. Activists advocating democracy and equality inside Africa and the Middle East are staunchly opposed to these developments.

The bi-partisan effort to police Trump-designated “shithole” countries with advanced weaponry has Big Tech on its side. Google’s involvement with Project Maven constitutes active collaboration in this endeavor.

An activist campaign about Silicon Valley’s collaboration with the US military could be unfolding. However, it’s going to take grassroots pressure across the world to make technology work for humanity.

Michael Kwet is a Visiting Fellow of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School.

April 30, 2018 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

EU Sanctions Have ‘Disastrous’ Effects on Syria’s Civilian Population – AfD MP

By Suliman Mulhem | Sputnik | April 30, 2018

Earlier this year, a delegation from the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party visited Syria to gain a better understanding of the situation in government-held areas of the war-torn country. The delegation’s leader Christian Blex, a member of the Bundestag, spoke to Sputnik reporter and columnist Suliman Mulhem about his findings.

Dr. Blex said the delegation “felt safe” throughout their tour of Syria – which included the cities of Damascus, Homs and Aleppo – while noting the presence of checkpoints manned by troops from the Syrian Army to clamp down on terrorists and smugglers attempting to transport armaments to militant-held parts of the country.

“The people on the streets looked completely normal and relaxed. The security situation seemed to me very good, at least beyond the reach of the artillery of the ‘moderate’ terrorists. But East Ghouta is fortunately free now, so Damascus cannot be targeted by mortars and rockets anymore as it is out of range,” Dr. Blex said in an interview with Sputnik on April 30.

On the topic of the repatriation of Syrian refugees in Europe, he said that the religious leaders of the Arab state, in addition to representatives of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) in Aleppo, called for the return of externally displaced Syrians.

“During our stay, we found no doubt that the return of Syrians of any religious affiliation is eagerly awaited.

When asked for his thoughts on the EU’s sanctions against Syria, Dr. Blex cited a 2016 report from the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) which described the sanctions as “some of the most complicated and far-reaching sanctions ever imposed” and warned that they “punish ordinary Syrians and make the work of aid agencies almost impossible.”

The German lawmaker said his delegation saw the adverse implications of the sanctions on civilians during their visit to Syria.

“We were able to convince ourselves of the disastrous effect of the sanctions on the civilian population. In particular, the head of the University Hospital of Aleppo drew out attention to their devastating impact on the health system. Medicines and medical equipment, such as x-ray equipment, are no longer available. A spokesman for the Syrian Arab Red Crescent aid organization lamented that barely any more baby milk or child prostheses exist,” Dr. Blex told Sputnik.

“Extending the suffering of the Syrian people to topple President Bashar al-Assad is incompatible with my humanitarian principles and certainly not in German interests. The inhibiting effect of the sanctions on the Syrian economy also increases the pressure for migration to Germany. The sanctions will deliberately hinder the reconstruction of the country,” the lawmaker added.

Dr. Blex went on to outline how lifting the anti-Syria sanctions and providing economic assistance in the reconstruction phase will serve Germany’s interests.

“Every year, Germany pays 40 to 50 billion euros for the accommodation of the so-called refugees. These people will for the most part be permanently dependent on social benefits. Of course, therefore, it makes more sense to support the reconstruction in Syria in order to offer these people the opportunity to return to their homeland and earn a living there,” he concluded.

See Also:

Charity Activist: ‘Western Sanctions Against Syria Have Caused More Suffering Than War’

April 30, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Move Over Chernobyl, Fukushima is Now Officially the Worst Nuclear Power Disaster in History

By John Laforge | CounterPunch | April 27, 2018

The radiation dispersed into the environment by the three reactor meltdowns at Fukushima-Daiichi in Japan has exceeded that of the April 26, 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe, so we may stop calling it the “second worst” nuclear power disaster in history. Total atmospheric releases from Fukushima are estimated to be between 5.6 and 8.1 times that of Chernobyl, according to the 2013 World Nuclear Industry Status Report. Professor Komei Hosokawa, who wrote the report’s Fukushima section, told London’s Channel 4 News then, “Almost every day new things happen, and there is no sign that they will control the situation in the next few months or years.”

Tokyo Electric Power Co. has estimated that about 900 peta-becquerels have spewed from Fukushima, and the updated 2016 TORCH Report estimates that Chernobyl dispersed 110 peta-becquerels.[1](A Becquerel is one atomic disintegration per second. The “peta-becquerel” is a quadrillion, or a thousand trillion Becquerels.)

Chernobyl’s reactor No. 4 in Ukraine suffered several explosions, blew apart and burned for 40 days, sending clouds of radioactive materials high into the atmosphere, and spreading fallout across the whole of the Northern Hemisphere — depositing cesium-137 in Minnesota’s milk.[2]

The likelihood of similar or worse reactor disasters was estimated by James Asselstine of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), who testified to Congress in 1986: “We can expect to see a core meltdown accident within the next 20 years, and it … could result in off-site releases of radiation … as large as or larger than the releases … at Chernobyl.[3] Fukushima-Daiichi came 25 years later.

Contamination of soil, vegetation and water is so widespread in Japan that evacuating all the at-risk populations could collapse the economy, much as Chernobyl did to the former Soviet Union. For this reason, the Japanese government standard for decontaminating soil there is far less stringent than the standard used in Ukraine after Chernobyl.

Fukushima’s Cesium-137 Release Tops Chernobyl’s

The Korea Atomic Energy Research (KAER) Institute outside of Seoul reported in July 2014 that Fukushima-Daiichi’s three reactor meltdowns may have emitted two to four times as much cesium-137 as the reactor catastrophe at Chernobyl.[4]

To determine its estimate of the cesium-137 that was released into the environment from Fukushima, the Cesium-137 release fraction (4% to the atmosphere, 16% to the ocean) was multiplied by the cesium-137 inventory in the uranium fuel inside the three melted reactors (760 to 820 quadrillion Becquerel, or Bq), with these results:

Ocean release of cesium-137 from Fukushima (the worst ever recorded): 121.6 to 131.2 quadrillion Becquerel (16% x 760 to 820 quadrillion Bq). Atmospheric release of Cesium-137 from Fukushima: 30.4 to 32.8 quadrillion Becquerel (4% x 760 to 820 quadrillion Bq).

Total release of Cesium-137 to the environment from Fukushima: 152 to 164 quadrillion Becquerel. Total release of Cesium-137 into the environment from Chernobyl: between 70 and 110 quadrillion Bq.

The Fukushima-Daiichi reactors’ estimated inventory of 760 to 820 quadrillion Bq (petabecquerels) of Cesium-137 used by the KAER Institute is significantly lower than the US Department of Energy’s estimate of 1,300 quadrillion Bq. It is possible the Korean institute’s estimates of radioactive releases are low.

In Chernobyl, 30 years after its explosions and fire, what the Wall St. Journal last year called “the $2.45 billion shelter implementation plan” was finally completed in November 2016. A huge metal cover was moved into place over the wreckage of the reactor and its crumbling, hastily erected cement tomb. The giant new cover is 350 feet high, and engineers say it should last 100 years — far short of the 250,000-year radiation hazard underneath.

The first cover was going to work for a century too, but by 1996 was riddled with cracks and in danger of collapsing. Designers went to work then engineering a cover-for-the-cover, and after 20 years of work, the smoking radioactive waste monstrosity of Chernobyl has a new “tin chapeau.” But with extreme weather, tornadoes, earth tremors, corrosion and radiation-induced embrittlement it could need replacing about 2,500 times.

John Laforge’s field guide to the new generation of nuclear weapons is featured in the March/April 2018 issue of CounterPunch magazine.

Notes.

[1]Duluth News-Tribune & Herald, “Slight rise in radioactivity found again in state milk,” May 22, 1986; St. Paul Pioneer Press & Dispatch, “Radiation kills Chernobyl firemen,” May 17, 1986; Minneapolis StarTribune, “Low radiation dose found in area milk,” May 17, 1986.

[2]Ian Fairlie, “TORCH-2016: An independent scientific evaluation of the health-related effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster,” March 2016 (https://www.global2000.at/sites/global/files/GLOBAL_TORCH%202016_rz_WEB_KORR.pdf).

[3]James K. Asselstine, Commissioner, US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Testimony in Nuclear Reactor Safety: Hearings before the Subcommittee on Energy Conservation and Power of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, House of Representatives, May 22 and July 16, 1986, Serial No. 99-177, Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1987.

[4] Progress in Nuclear Energy, Vol. 74, July 2014, pp. 61-70; ENENews.org, Oct. 20, 2014.

April 29, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Environmentalism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | | 4 Comments

Sunday Times ‘explosive’ report on Russian bot support for Corbyn is really a complete dud

RT | April 29, 2018

Just when you thought we’d hit peak ‘Russian meddling’ claims, there’s a whole new fear-mongering report in town. The Sunday Times has released an ‘investigation’ linking a pesky Russian bot army with Labour’s June election gains.

Heaven forbid British voters may have been swayed by a lack of leadership by the Tories…

The Sunday Times exclusive, but apparently not in-depth, joint investigation with Swansea University claims that 6,500 ‘Russian’ Twitter accounts sent messages of support for the British Labour Party in the seven weeks before last year’s snap general election, sharing “mass-produced” and “orchestrated” political messages.

Given that politicians and multi-billion dollar corporations spend exorbitant amounts of money trying to influence public opinion, it’s extremely hard to imagine how recently-created, thinly-veiled bot accounts could possibly garner enough of a following to somehow influence millions of voters across the UK within mere weeks. That logic didn’t stop the Times, though.

Among the handpicked accounts sampled in the study, nine out of 10 messages were in support of the Labour party while 9 out of 10 messages mentioning the Conservative party were critical. In addition, some 80 percent of the “automated accounts” were created in the weeks prior to the June, 2017 general election. Notably, the list of Twitter accounts ‘studied’ by the paper and university have not been released, nor have they outlined just how many followers (which is generally a good barometer of the potential reach of a tweet) the accounts had.

Here we go again…

The ‘revelations’ fall neatly in line with the ongoing scapegoat narrative across the mainstream media: Russia is supposedly influencing everything from the 2016 US presidential election to the Brexit vote to potentially meddling in the German elections and the Catalonian independence referendum. While time and time again the narrative fails due to blatant lack of evidence, it is seemingly irresistible to Western MSM and politicians alike.

Just this week, the US House Intelligence Committee “found no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded, coordinated, or conspired with the Russian government.” Yet the narrative persists.

The timing of publication for the Sunday Times report is also rather conspicuous given Labour’s reported lead over the Conservatives heading into next week’s local elections, as noted online.

How they ‘cracked the case’

According to the Sunday Times, academics at Swansea University helpfully identified the accounts and tweets for the investigation. One of the academics has been fielding questions online regarding the study’s curious methodology.

Interestingly, while Talavera lists his location as ‘South West, England,’ he does also have European, British, and Ukrainian flag emojis on his public Twitter profile. Using his own methodology, though – that language or national identity immediately equate to political bias – one could attribute his account to any number of foreign actors who might seek to influence elections in Britain.

He also doesn’t acknowledge that Twitter users can set their own locations, nor does he address a claim in the Times that “many of our Russian bot accounts gave American states as their location.”

The economics lecturer is one of the co-founders of Vox Ukraine, “an independent analytical platform founded in 2014, after the Revolution of Dignity, by a team of highly experienced economists and lawyers based in Ukraine and abroad.”

Meanwhile, Swansea University boasts a Hillary Clinton PhD scholarship – but the Times doesn’t note any potential conflict of interest there or any potential for influence peddling via ‘academic research.’

Those beastly bots

Hundreds of the bot accounts were reportedly created simultaneously and “displayed clear identifying factors.” One common distinguishing feature among the accounts was that they used “15-character alphanumeric usernames” (as is the case with almost all Twitter users) and “with a false western woman’s name attached.” What differentiates these accounts, apparently, is that they listed their first language as Russian.

The Times also claimed that hundreds of the accounts were set up simultaneously despite Twitter only displaying the month and year in which the account was created, not the specific day. Perhaps all of the accounts synchronized their first tweets (or retweets, as seems to be the case in a lot of the examples cited by The Times ), though the analysis does not explicitly state this. In addition, Twitter’s Application Programming Interface (API) is closed to the public, meaning it would be incredibly difficult, or nigh on impossible, for researchers to gain access to the metadata for thousands of accounts, Russian bot or otherwise.

Furthermore, the bot accounts were reportedly later suspended by Twitter’s moderators or voluntarily shut themselves down, presumably after some sort of bot existential crisis. We say ‘reportedly,’ as apparently the researchers didn’t go back and check.

What about causation vs correlation?

The accounts apparently retweeted pro-Labour and anti-Tory messages on May 18, when Theresa May announced the Conservative manifesto. In particular, according to the Times, the bots retweeted Corbyn campaign publicity, particularly around rallies which drew “unusually large crowds.” Crucially, The Times’ analysis doesn’t quite delve into how there’s causation (as it implies) rather than correlation between retweets and participant numbers growing at rallies.

Swansea researchers claimed that 16,000 “Russian bots” had been tweeting about British politics since last April. However, they decided to narrow their focus to a sample of just 6,500 accounts and 20,000 individual tweets posted by that selection in the four weeks before the UK General election, based on an apparently ad hoc list of criteria.

The Times also concludes that Labour “won the social media war” because of greater shares online despite the fact that the Conservatives outspent Labour on Facebook advertisements, not to mention that this study was focused solely on Twitter.

April 29, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

Over 100 Years Ago Chilean and British Imperialism Cut Bolivia Off From the Sea. Today, Evo Morales Could Lead the Country Back to the Coast

By Oliver L. Vargas | CounterPunch | April 27, 2018

In 1879 began the disastrous ‘War of the Pacific’, the Chilean army invaded Bolivia’s ‘Litoral’ department, leaving the poorest nation in South America landlocked. It is thought up to 18,000 Bolivians died in the war. Chile’s war on Bolivia was at every step of the way backed and armed by the British Empire as English industrialists took control of the vast natural resources of the Bolivian coastal region. These included guano, sodium, nitrate, copper where British interests established a monopoly on the export of these primary resources. Bolivia has never given up its demand to return to the coast, it still maintains a navy in preparation, the only landlocked country in the world to do so. Today the Bolivian government, under left-indigenous president Evo Morales is taking the biggest steps yet in securing a sovereign access to the sea as he takes the case to the International Court of Justice at the Hague who have already ruled against Chile’s early objections to Bolivia’s claims, a preliminary ruling is expected on April 28th. This is more than a territorial dispute, this is a political battle to roll back the hidden legacy of British imperialist interference in Latin America. It is inconceivable that Bolivia’s previous neoliberal governments could have come this far, indeed they didn’t, Bolivia’s successes are precisely because Morales’ left government is nation building for the first time, bringing natural resources under public ownership and incorporating the social movements into the structures of popular power. Those who preceded him were more interested in short sighted frenzies of privatisation than any long term state projects like this.

The war began when the Bolivian government raised taxes on the Chilean and British companies operating in Bolivia’s Litoral department. Companies such as the “Antofagasta Nitrate & Railway Company” (CSFA) refused to pay so Bolivia moved to nationalise mining interests there. Chile then unleashed a brutal war that was to last 5 years and invade huge parts of Bolivia and even Peru. Territory they still hold to this day. Behind this was a vast network of British imperial interests that had built links to sections of the Chilean oligarchy. Ever since the fall of the Spanish Empire in the Americas, Britain was quick off the blocks in establishing informal control of Latin American natural resources. Chile’s Banco Edwards was a subsidiary of the Bank of England[1], and owned by the same family as Chile’s foremost newspaper El Mercuriothat became key in drumming up popular support for the invasion and framing it as a patriotic war rather than a war for British and Chilean mining capitalists. An English businessman with the CSFA articulated Britain’s colonial approach to the conflict, “The Bolivians are getting very cocky, but with this action they’ll realise that they can’t interfere with a subject of the crown, and also, the Chileans will realise that it is in their interests to have the English at their side”. From the start of the war began an aggressive media operation in London to portray Chile as advanced and civilised, and Bolivia as backward hordes, one newspaper labeled Bolivia a “Semi-barbarous country that doesn’t know civilization”[2]. This was a textbook divide and rule strategy that the British Empire was employing all over Africa. Britain was rigidly against Simon Bolívar’s vision of a united Latin America, (‘Gran Colombia’ as he called it), Eduardo Galeano summed it up thus, “For U.S. imperialism to be able to “integrate and rule” Latin America today, it was necessary for the British Empire to help divide and rule us yesterday. An archipelago of disconnected countries came into being as a result of the frustration of our national unity.”[3]. British economic interests penetrated deep into every port city of the Americas and played off the new republics against each other whenever its interests were threatened. Britain proceeded to play a vital role in urging and sponsoring Chile’s invasion, providing it with huge supplies of arms, financing, logistical support and the political support of its press. Bolivia’s meagre forces never stood a chance.

The British backed Chilean forces overwhelmed both Bolivia and Peru. Today it is estimated that lack of access to the sea deprives Bolivia of 1.5% in economic growth annually[4], a huge amount for the region’s poorest country. For British imperial interests the outcome was everything they hoped and more, Yorkshire industrialist John Thomas North established a monopoly over the vast nitrate fields and the British linked Edwards family reaped huge rewards from the captured natural resources. These oligarchs formed a caste that wielded huge political power and plunged Chile into civil war in 1891 when the progressive president Balmaceda tried push through competition laws to break up their monopolies, the war ended in victory for the oligarchy. In some ways even Chile did not benefit from the war, they were left indebted to Britain to the tune of millions for the support they received and the natural resources fell into the hands of a tiny number of families who exported these primary materials on the cheap to the global north. Peruvian historian Enrique Amayo, in his book on British involvement in the war perhaps summed it up best in his final heading titled “Imperialist Great Britain helped Chile, but in the end Chile too became the loser”[5].

This war nearly 140 years ago is still an open wound for Bolivians and an obstacle to Latin American integration and unity. The sense of loss for Bolivia, a small nation against the might of the British Empire and Chilean sub-imperialism. Add to this, Chile’s national chauvinism gained after the war, that they are the ‘advanced’ of the region compared with their ‘backward’ and more indigenous neighbours Bolivia and Peru, the xenophobia and discrimination is still a defining experience of Andean migrants in Santiago.

What has changed since then is a transformation in Bolivian state and society since the left came to power in 2006. Bolivia’s recent diplomatic success has its roots in the fact that the left has for the first time since the 1952 revolution, begun popular nation building, so therefore it has the capacity for long term projects of state such as this. Since Morales was swept to power in 2006 by the wave of social movements that overthrew two neoliberal governments within two years, Bolivia has ‘reclaimed’ natural resources like Gas and some mining, as well as other industries that were privatised in the neoliberal period such as the national airline, telecommunications, airports and numerous manufacturing initiatives. Alongside this, the reconfiguring of the state as the ‘Plurinational State’ with a new popular constitution and the incorporation of indigenous movements and trade unions into decision making. All of this has created a cultural confidence and given Bolivia the growth and stability necessary to push on towards historic state projects like reclaiming the sea, which Morales has mobilised the social movements behind too[6]. Morales’ anti-imperialist politics also means there is real political will for the first time. Under the neoliberal administrations preceding Morales the maritime demands were mostly rhetoric, in reality attempts were made to privatise Bolivia’s natural gas reserves to foreign multinationals and export them through the Chilean ports that were conquered by force. The neoliberal period was also one of economic and political chaos that gave Bolivia hyperinflation, mass unemployment and repression, the country was nowhere near strong enough to mobilise behind a historic demand like this. To take on, in a concerted manner, the historic legacy of British Imperialism and Chilean militarism, and against Chile’s right wing billionaire president Sebastian Piñera takes political commitment that only the current government has been able to deliver. The prospects for Bolivia look their strongest ever since Salvador Allende openly supported Bolivia’s right to return, though the coup put an end to Allende’s vision, laid out in 1970, “In this plan of reparation for injustices, I’ve also resolved that our brother country Bolivia return to the sea. Ending the confinement they have faced since 1879 due to the interference of English imperialism. We cannot condemn a people to a life sentence… a people that enslave another is not free”[7]. The historical baton has been passed from Allende to Evo to finally find a solution, the Plurinational State has a fighting chance for the first time.

Notes.

[1]François Schollaert Paz,  La Guerra del Pacífico fue concebida en Londres

[2]Ibid.

[3]Galeano, ‘Open Veins of Latin America’(1997), p. 259.

[4]¿Cómo afecta a Bolivia no tener salida al mar?Telesur.

[5]Enrique Amayo, ‘La Política Británica en la Guerra del Pacífico’,

[6]COB retoma el control de Conalcam y se suma al ‘banderazo’ por el mar’, La Razón, 06.03.18

[7]Allende ofreció mar para Bolivia’, Página Siete

April 29, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Israeli forces kidnap Lebanese woman in Shebaa Farms

Press TV – April 29, 2018

Israeli forces have kidnapped a Lebanese woman in the Tel Aviv-occupied Lebanese territory, the Lebanese army says.

The incident happened in Lebanon’s Shebaa Farms on Saturday and the abductee was identified as Nohad Dali.

“On April 28 at 8.30 p.m., an Israeli enemy patrol carried out the abduction of Nohad Dali from the town of Shebaa and took her into occupied Palestinian territory,” said an army statement.

Lebanon has raised the seizure of Dali with the United Nations peacekeeping force, which is stationed on Lebanon’s border with the occupied territories. The Israeli military said it briefly held the Lebanese woman before releasing her.

Tel Aviv has been occupying Shebaa Farms since 1967, when it seized the territory from Lebanon during a full-scale war against Arab nations. Lebanon and Israel are technically at war as a result of the continued occupation.

Israel launched two wars on Lebanon in 2000 and 2006, in both of which the Lebanese resistance movement of Hezbollah inflicted heavy losses on the regime’s military.

In January, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri called Israel the greatest threat to Lebanon’s stability. “The only threat I see is Israel taking some kind of action against Lebanon, out of a miscalculation,” Hariri told an audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Israel also takes great exception to Hezbollah’s assisting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in its battle against Takfiri terrorism and militancy.

The Israeli air force has repeatedly violated Lebanon’s airspace to strike Syria-based targets belonging to Hezbollah since the group started helping out the Syrian army.

April 29, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment