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Media Cover-up: Shielding Israel is a Matter of Policy

By Ramzy Baroud | MEMO | April 17, 2018

The term ‘media bias’ does not do justice to the western corporate media’s relationship with Israel and Palestine. The relationship is, indeed, far more profound than mere partiality. It is not ignorance, either. It is a calculated and long-term campaign, aimed at guarding Israel and demonizing Palestinians.

The current disgraceful coverage of Gaza’s popular protests indicates that the media’s position aims at suppressing the truth on Palestine, at any cost and by any means.

Political symbiosis, cultural affinity, Hollywood, the outreaching influence of pro-Israel and Zionist groups within the political and media circles, are some of the explanations many of us have offered as to why Israel is often viewed with sympathetic eyes and Palestinians and Arabs condemned.

But such explanations should hardly suffice. Nowadays, there are numerous media outlets that are trying to offset some of the imbalance, many of them emanating from the Middle East, but also other parts of the world. Palestinian and Arab journalists, intellectuals and cultural representatives are more present on a global stage than ever before and are more than capable of facing off, if not defeating, the pro-Israeli media discourse.

However, they are largely invisible to western media; it is the Israeli spokesperson who continues to occupy the center stage, speaking, shouting, theorizing and demonizing as he pleases.

It is, then, not a matter of media ignorance, but policy.

Even before March 30, when scores of Palestinians in Gaza were killed and thousands wounded, the US and British media, for example, should have, at least, questioned why hundreds of Israeli snipers and army tanks were ordered to deploy at the Gaza border to face-off Palestinian protesters.

Instead, they referred to ‘clashes’ between Gaza youth and the snipers, as if they are equal forces in an equivalent battle.

Western media is not blind. If ordinary people are increasingly able to see the truth regarding the situation in Palestine, experienced western journalists cannot possibly be blind to the truth. They know, but they choose to remain silent.

The maxim that official Israeli propaganda or ‘hasbara’ is too savvy no longer suffices. In fact, it is hardly true.

Where is the ingenuity in the way the Israeli army explained the killing of unarmed Palestinians in Gaza?

“Yesterday we saw 30,000 people,” the Israeli army tweeted on March 31. “We arrived prepared and with precise reinforcements. Nothing was carried out uncontrolled; everything was accurate and measured, and we know where every bullet landed.”

If that is not bad enough, Israel’s ultra-nationalist Minister of Defense, Avigdor Lieberman, followed that self-indictment by declaring there are “no innocent people in Gaza”; thus, legitimizing the targeting of any Gazan within the besieged Strip.

Unfair media coverage is not fueled by the simplistic notion of ‘clever Israel, imprudent Arabs’. Western media is actively involved in shielding Israel and enhancing its diminishing brand, while painstakingly demolishing the image of Israel’s enemies.

Take for example, Israel’s unfounded propaganda that Yasser Murtaja, the Gaza journalist who was killed in cold blood by an Israeli sniper while covering the Great March of Return protests at the Gaza border, was a member of Hamas.

First, ‘unnamed officials’ in Israel claimed that Yasser is ‘a member of the Hamas security apparatus.’ Then, Lieberman offered more (fabricated) details that Yasser was on Hamas’ payroll since 2011 and ‘held a rank similar to a captain.’ Many journalists took these statements and ran with them, constantly associating any news coverage of Yasser’s death with Hamas.

It turned out that, according to the US State Department, Yasser’s start-up media company in Gaza had actually received a small grant from USAID, which subjected Yasser’s company to a rigorous vetting process.

More still, a report by the International Federation of Journalists claimed that Yasser was actually detained and beaten by the Gaza police in 2015, and that Israel’s Defense Minister is engineering a cover-up.

Judging by this, Israel’s media apparatus is as erratic and self-defeating as North Korea; but this is hardly the image conveyed by western media, because it insists on placing Israel on a moral pedestal while misrepresenting Palestinians, regardless of the circumstances.

But there is more to western media’s approach to Palestine and Israel than shielding and elevating Israel, while demonizing Palestinians. Oftentimes, the media works to distract from the issues altogether, as is the case in Britain today, where Israel’s image is rapidly deteriorating.

To disrupt the conversation on Palestine, the Israeli Occupation and the British government’s unconditional support of Israel, British mainstream media has turned the heat on Jeremy Corbyn, the popular leader of the Labor Party.

Accusations of anti-Semitism have dogged the party since Corbyn’s election in 2015. Yet, Corbyn is not racist; on the contrary, he has stood against racism, for the working class and other disadvantaged groups. His strong pro-Palestine stance, in particular, is threatening to compel a paradigm shift on Palestine and Israel within the revived and energised Labor Party.

Sadly, Corbyn’s counter strategy is almost entirely absent. Instead of issuing a statement condemning all forms of racism and moving on to deal with the urgent issues at hand, including that of Palestine, he allows his detractors to determine the nature of the discussion, if not the whole discourse. He is now trapped in a perpetual conversation, while the Labor Party is regularly purging its own members for alleged anti-Semitism.

Considering that Israel and its allies in the media, and elsewhere, conflate between criticism of Israel and its Zionist ideology, on the one hand, and that of Jews and Judaism on the other, Corbyn cannot win this battle.

Nor are Israel’s friends keen on winning, either. They merely want to prolong a futile debate so that British society remains embroiled in distractions and spares Israel any accountability for its action.

If British media was, indeed, keen on calling out racism and isolating racists, why then is there little discussion on Israel’s racist policies targeting Palestinians?

Media spin will continue to provide Israel with the needed margins to carry out its violent policies against the Palestinian people, with no moral accountability. It will remain loyal to Israel, creating a buffer between the truth and its audiences.

It is incumbent on us to expose this sinister relationship and hold mainstream media to account for covering up Israel’s crimes, as well as Israel for committing these crimes in the first place.

April 16, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, War Crimes | , , , | 4 Comments

Reports of Monday night attack on Syrian base blamed on false alarm

RT | April 17, 2018

Several sources in Syria said the overnight deployment of anti-aircraft weapons at a military base was triggered by a false alarm, not an actual missile attack, as previously claimed by some media outlets.

Syrian TV earlier reported a missile attack on Shayrat Airbase in Homs governorate, while a Lebanese media outlet with links to militant group Hezbollah said a separate attack targeted Al-Dumair base northeast of Damascus. Multiple sources now show the reports were inaccurate.

The Syrian news agency SANA cited a military source, who said anti-aircraft missiles were fired overnight after a false intrusion alarm. It was consequently established that no new attacks on Al-Dumair base happened.

A similar report came from a Reuters source in the regional pro-government military alliance. The commander, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the false alarm was caused by an Israeli-US cyber warfare operation, but didn’t provide any proof.

Meanwhile, a Russian military source told Interfax news agency that there was no night incident at Shayrat Airbase. … Full article


April 16, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Crimes of a Monster: Your Tax Dollars at Work

By John W. Whitehead | Rutherford Institute | April 16, 2018

Let us not mince words.

We are living in an age of war profiteers.

We are living in an age of scoundrels, liars, brutes and thugs. Many of them work for the U.S. government.

We are living in an age of monsters.

Ask Donald Trump. He knows all about monsters.

Any government that leaves “mothers and fathers, infants and children, thrashing in pain and gasping for air” is evil and despicable, said President Trump, justifying his blatantly unconstitutional decision (in the absence of congressional approval or a declaration of war) to launch airstrikes against Syria based on dubious allegations that it had carried out chemical weapons attacks on its own people. “They are crimes of a monster.”

If the Syrian government is a monster for killing innocent civilians, including women and children, the U.S. government must be a monster, too.

In Afghanistan, ten civilians were killed—including three children, one an infant in his mother’s arms—when U.S. warplanes targeted a truck in broad daylight on an open road with women and children riding in the exposed truck bed.

In Syria, at least 80 civilians, including 30 children, were killed when U.S.-led air strikes bombed a school and a packed marketplace.

Then there was a Doctors without Borders hospital in Kunduz that had 12 of its medical staff and 10 of its patients, including three children, killed when a U.S. AC-130 gunship fired on it repeatedly. Some of the patients were burned alive in their hospital beds.

Yes, on this point, President Trump is exactly right: these are, indeed, the crimes of a monster.

Unfortunately, this monster—this hundred-headed gorgon that is the U.S. government and its long line of political puppets (Donald Trump and before him Obama, Bush, Clinton, etc.), who dance to the tune of the military industrial complex—is being funded by you and me.

It is our tax dollars at work here, after all.

Unfortunately, we have no real say in how the government runs, or how our taxpayer funds are used.

We have no real say, but we’re being forced to pay through the nose, anyhow, for endless wars that do more to fund the military industrial complex than protect us, pork barrel projects that produce little to nothing, and a police state that serves only to imprison us within its walls.

Consider: we get taxed on how much we earn, taxed on what we eat, taxed on what we buy, taxed on where we go, taxed on what we drive, and taxed on how much is left of our assets when we die.

Indeed, if there is an absolute maxim by which the federal government seems to operate, it is that the American taxpayer always gets ripped off.

This is true whether you’re talking about taxpayers being forced to fund high-priced weaponry that will be used against us, endless wars that do little for our safety or our freedoms, or bloated government agencies such as the National Security Agency with its secret budgets, covert agendas and clandestine activities. Rubbing salt in the wound, even monetary awards in lawsuits against government officials who are found guilty of wrongdoing are paid by the taxpayer.

Not only are American taxpayers forced to “spend more on state, municipal, and federal taxes than the annual financial burdens of food, clothing, and housing combined,” but we’re also being played as easy marks by hustlers bearing the imprimatur of the government.

With every new tax, fine, fee and law adopted by our so-called representatives, the yoke around the neck of the average American seems to tighten just a little bit more.

Everywhere you go, everything you do, and every which way you look, we’re getting swindled, cheated, conned, robbed, raided, pickpocketed, mugged, deceived, defrauded, double-crossed and fleeced by governmental and corporate shareholders of the American police state out to make a profit at taxpayer expense.

Yet as Ron Paul observed, “The Founding Fathers never intended a nation where citizens would pay nearly half of everything they earn to the government.”

We are now ruled by a government consumed with squeezing every last penny out of the population and seemingly unconcerned if essential freedoms are trampled in the process.

If you have no choice, no voice, and no real options when it comes to the government’s claims on your property and your money, you’re not free.

You’re not free if the government can seize your home and your car (which you’ve bought and paid for) over nonpayment of taxes.

You’re not free if government agents can freeze and seize your bank accounts and other valuables if they merely “suspect” wrongdoing.

And you’re certainly not free if the IRS gets the first cut of your salary to pay for government programs over which you have no say.

Somewhere over the course of the past 240-plus years, democracy has given way to kleptocracy (a government ruled by thieves), and representative government has been rejected in favor of a kakistocracy (a government run by the most unprincipled citizens that panders to the worst vices in our nature: greed, violence, hatred, prejudice and war) ruled by career politicians, corporations and thieves—individuals and entities with little regard for the rights of American citizens.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the American kleptocracy continues to suck the American people down a rabbit hole into a parallel universe in which the Constitution is meaningless, the government is all-powerful, and the citizenry is powerless to defend itself against government agents who steal, spy, lie, plunder, kill, abuse and generally inflict mayhem and sow madness on everyone and everything in their sphere.

But what if we didn’t just pull out our pocketbooks and pony up to the federal government’s outrageous demands for more money?

What if we didn’t just dutifully line up to drop our hard-earned dollars into the collection bucket, no questions asked about how it will be spent?

What if, instead of quietly sending in our checks, hoping vainly for some meager return, we did a little calculating of our own and started deducting from our taxes those programs that we refuse to support?

If we don’t have the right to decide what happens to our hard-earned cash, then we don’t have very many rights at all.

If the government can just take from you what they want, when they want, and then use it however they want, you can’t claim to be anything more than a serf in a land they think of as theirs.

April 16, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | | 11 Comments

The Skripal case & the perils of a rush to judgment

By James O’Neill | OffGuardian | April 16, 2018

The perils of coming to premature conclusions before all the facts are available has been starkly demonstrated by the latest developments in the alleged nerve gas attack upon the former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English town of Salisbury on 4 March 2018.

Followers of this particular saga will be aware that British Prime Minister Theresa May and her Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson have made a series of statements to the United Kingdom House of Commons and to the media. They alleged, without qualification, that the Skripals were poisoned with a nerve agent of the “Novichok” class, of a type “developed by Russia.”

That these statements were made before it was possible for the British chemical and biological research facility at Porton Down to have made an analysis and reached a scientifically valid conclusion did not matter. The object of the exercise was to demonize Russia in general and its President Mr Putin in particular.

As serious questions about the United Kingdom’s version of events were increasingly raised, the government’s explanations changed, along with increasingly bizarre allegations. The one common denominator to all of these “explanations” was that they were devoid of that troublesome substance known as “evidence.”

Very belatedly, and contrary to their obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), the United Kingdom made a request to the OPCW to conduct an independent investigation. While this investigation was ongoing, the propaganda continued unabated. One aspect of that was the United Kingdom persuading a number of its NATO and EU allies, plus Australia to expel Russian diplomats.

Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop issued a media release on 27 March that blamed the Skripal attack upon Russia, relying on

advice from the United Kingdom government that the substance used on 4 March was a military grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia……….. The attack is part of a pattern of reckless and deliberate conduct by the Russian state that constitutes a growing threat to international security, global non-proliferation rules against the use of chemical weapons, the rights of other sovereign nations and the international rules based order that underpins them.

Russia’s denials of culpability were disregarded.

The OPCW has now issued its report dated 12th April 2018. At the time of writing (15 April) there has been no mention of this report, much less its implications, in the Australian mainstream media. The report is in two versions. The first part, headed Note by the Technical Secretariat was released for public use. The second and more detailed version was released to all nations who were parties to the CWC, which includes Australia.

Even the two page summary report contains valuable information. The first revelation is that the samples collected by the OPCW technical team that went to the United Kingdom on 21 March 2018 (17 days after the attack on the Skripals) were of a “high purity.”

The alleged significance of this is that it could only have been produced in a very sophisticated laboratory, which almost certainly rules out any resources other than those of an advanced nation state.

The second point is that a “pure toxin” is not a “military grade nerve agent.” This latter phrase is one used by the British Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary and repeated in Foreign Minister Bishop’s media release. The suggestion to the contrary by Gary Aitkenhead, the CEO of Porton Down, was therefore misleading. Mr Aitkenhead is not a scientist and may not have known better, but he was relying on a statement prepared for him. The Porton Down scientists certainly knew better.

Thirdly, the OPCW summary notes that there were no additives to the substance, which would have been necessary had the substance been applied to the Skripal’s front door handle. That particular version was seriously advanced by Boris Johnson who also claimed to have evidence that Russia had been training its agents for several years in how to apply nerve agents to door handles!

Perhaps needless to add, like most of Mr Johnson’s pronouncements on this topic, this was bereft of evidence and logic, let alone scientific validity.

One of the two most important points in the OPCW summary is that the environmental samples collected by the OPCW technical team were of “high purity” and demonstrated “the almost complete absence of the impurities.” This is literally impossible if the samples related to the time when the OPCW technical team was in the United Kingdom for that purpose. Of the various nerve agents in existence, the most durable is VX, which has a durability of 2 to 3 days, not the three weeks between the attack and the collection of the samples.

The irresistible conclusion is that the places where the samples were taken had evidence planted immediately (within a few hours at most) prior to the OPCW technical team’s arrival at the locations from where the samples were collected. It defies common sense and logic to suggest that the Russians were responsible for the planting of such fake evidence. The most logical candidate is the United Kingdom government or someone acting on their behalf.

That finding alone destroys the argument of the United Kingdom government and its acolytes in the Australian government and media. There was however, a further fatal blow to the UK government’s claims. As noted, the full OPCW report was made available to all governments who were signatories to the Chemical Weapons Convention.

There is no prohibition on any of those governments from publishing the full report or parts thereof. The Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has released what he claims is another key finding of the report. That is, that the agent used on the Skripals was in fact a substance known as BZ (3-Quinuclidinyl benzilate). BZ is an hallucinogenic incapacitating chemical warfare agent. It afflicts both the peripheral and central nervous systems.

The signs of its use are disorientation, tremors, ataxia, stupor and coma. It is administered by an aerosol spray. These symptoms accord with the descriptions given by eyewitnesses and Salisbury Hospital as to the Skripal’s medical conditions. BZ is not produced in Russia. It is an agent that is used by the United Kingdom and the United States.

When one puts together the now known nature of the substance, its means of delivery and the symptoms that its victims exhibit, it is a further compelling inference that they were “sprayed” at some point between leaving Zizzi’s restaurant and moving to the park bench.

Given the ubiquitousness of CCTV cameras in the vicinity it should be possible to identify the actual perpetrator. One might draw further negative inferences about the UK government and the Police investigation from the fact that no details of the Skripal’s movements at this time have been released.

The British, Australian and other governments who rushed to judgement have a dilemma. Do they attempt to rebut the information that Mr Lavrov released? To try and do so would serve to highlight the revelations and any denials would be easily rebutted by the release of the full report.

On the other hand, ignoring this new evidence inevitably raises further questions about the veracity of the government’s version of events. The details outlined briefly above have already been widely disseminated on the alternative media and at least some British mainstream outlets.

The option that appears to have been taken thus far by the Australian media is to ignore Mr Lavrov’s revelations. Bishop and Turnbull, so recently and frequently condemnatory of alleged chemical warfare misbehaviour by Russia are now completely silent.

Their rush to judgement has now been exposed for the empty propaganda that it was. It is probably too much to expect an apology and a withdrawal of their false claims. Such an apology seems the very least they can do in the light of the actual evidence revealed by the investigation which stands in such stark contrast to the hyperbole and falsehoods perpetrated by the British government and their acolytes.

James O’Neill is a Barrister at Law and geopolitical analyst. He may be contacted it

April 16, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Trump’s Disastrous Syria Attack

By Ron Paul – April 16, 2018

Over the weekend, President Trump celebrated firing more than 100 missiles into Syria by Tweeting, “Mission Accomplished!” They say if you cannot learn from history you are condemned to repeat it. So I guess we are repeating it.

We all remember that “Mission Accomplished” was the banner behind then-President Bush as he gloated aboard a US navy ship that the war in Iraq had been won. After his “victory,” however, some 4,000 US military personnel were killed, perhaps a million Iraqis were killed, and the country’s infrastructure and social fabric were so badly destroyed that they probably can never be repaired.

Actually, there is much about the US attack on Syria that reminds us of Iraq.

With Iraq, the US moved in to start bombing before international inspectors had completed their mission to verify whether or not Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Had they been allowed to complete their mission and verify that he did not, imagine the suffering, death, and destruction that could have been avoided. In Syria, the US decided to start bombing before the international inspectors were even allowed to start checking claims that Assad gassed his own people in Douma. Why? What was the rush? Was Washington afraid they might not find Assad guilty?

Who really benefits from US attacks on the Syrian government? There were reports that ISIS began making moves immediately after the air strikes. Do we really want to be al-Qaeda and ISIS’s airforce? Is that going to keep us safer? I remember when al-Qaeda was actually considered our enemy, not an ally in overthrowing the last secular government in the Middle East.

Will Syria’s Christians be better off after the recent US attack? Just over a week ago Christians celebrated Easter in Aleppo for the first time in years. What changed? The Syrian army kicked out al-Qaeda, which had been occupying the eastern part of the city. So no, Christians will be much worse off if our “moderate terrorists” take control of Syria.

If Syria really had sarin and other chemical weapons factories, does it make sense for the US to bomb the buildings and risk killing thousands by widely disbursing the poisons? Does it make sense to risk killing Syrian civilians with chemical weapons in retaliation for allegations that the Syrian government killed civilians with chemical weapons? No, it seems more like the phony “mobile WMD labs” we were told that Saddam Hussein had constructed.

If the US knew Syria was manufacturing chemical weapons in the buildings they bombed, why not notify the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)? The OPCW had certified the very building the US bombed as chemical weapons free not that long ago. Why not just call them up and ask them to check it out? After all, they were just arriving in the country as the US started bombing.

There are many more questions about President Trump’s terrible decision to again make war on Syria. For example, where is Congress? It was disgraceful to see Speaker Paul Ryan telling the President he needs no Congressional authorization to attack Syria. All Members of Congress take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution and the Constitution says that only Congress can declare war. Does that oath mean nothing these days?

President Trump will come to regret the day he let the neocons take over his foreign policy. Their track record is abysmal. His attack on Syria was clearly illegal and should his party lose the House in November he may find his new fair-weather friends in the Democratic Party quickly turning foul.

April 16, 2018 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

Russia: Chemical weapons inspection delayed due to West’s airstrikes

Press TV – April 16, 2018

Russia says a visit by inspectors from the United Nations chemical watchdog to the site of an alleged gas attack in Syria’s Douma has been delayed due to recent Western airstrikes on the Arab country.

“This is the latest conjecture of our British colleagues,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying by Russia’s RIA news agency on Monday, in reaction to accusations that Moscow and Damascus have blocked the inspection team’s access to the area.

The British delegation to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) claimed that the fact-finding mission was in the Syrian capital Damascus but still unable to visit Douma, where dozens of people reportedly lost their lives in the aftermath of a suspected chemical attack on April 7.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denounced as “groundless” the British accusation, adding that Russia had consistently supported an investigation into the suspected gas attack.

“We called for an objective investigation. This was at the very beginning after this information [of the attack] appeared. Therefore allegations of this towards Russia are groundless,” Peskov said.

The Russian embassy in the Netherlands, where the OPCW is based, also dismissed the British claims and said Moscow would not “interfere in its work.”

Meanwhile, the Syrian government announced that it was “fully ready” to cooperate with any OPCW investigation.

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Mekdad said that government officials had held meetings with the inspection team in Damascus a number of times to discuss cooperation.

Inspectors for the Hague-based OPCW met Mekdad in the presence of Russian officers and a senior Syrian security official in Damascus for about three hours on Sunday.

Russia has ‘not tampered’ with Douma site

Also on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov rejected accusations leveled by the US envoy to the OPCW that Moscow may have tampered with the site of last week’s incident in Douma.

“I can guarantee that Russia has not tampered with the site,” Lavrov said in an interview with the BBC.

The top Russian diplomat said that evidence of a chemical attack cited by Britain, France and the United States was a “staged thing,” and based “on media reports and social media.”

The Syrian government surrendered its chemical weapons stockpile during a process monitored by the OPCW in 2014.

In the early hours of Saturday, the US, Britain and France launched a barrage of missile attacks against Syria in response to what they claim to have been a chemical attack by the Syrian government in Douma.

Syria rejected the accusations as “chemical fabrications” made by the foreign-backed terrorists in the country in a bid to halt advances by pro-government forces.

Syrian air defenses responded firmly to the Western powers’ attacks, shooting down most of the missiles fired at the country.

The Pentagon, however, has claimed that the airstrikes “successfully hit every target.”

US officials said that Tomahawk cruise missiles and other types of bombs were used in the attack.

April 16, 2018 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism | , , | Leave a comment

Missile attacks on Syria in breach of international law, China says

Press TV – April 16, 2018

China has strongly condemned the latest missile strikes by the United States along with its allies Britain and France on crisis-hit on Syria, stating the military aggression violates the basic principles and norms of international law.

Addressing reporters during a press conference in Beijing on Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said any military action that bypasses the UN Security Council is in breach of international law, and only complicates the Syrian conflict.

“Under the UN Charter, there are clear statements about the circumstances in which the use of force is permissible. The military strikes launched by the United States, the UK and France violate the basic principles of international law to ban the use of force and violate the UN Charter.

“The use of force under the pretext of punishing and retaliating the use of chemical weapons also violates international law as present international law also bans the use of force in retaliation for illegitimate actions. Bypassing the United Nations Security Council, and under the pretext of adopting a unilateral humanitarian intervention also violate international law,” she said.

The senior Chinese official noted that her country believes a comprehensive, impartial and objective investigation should be carried out into the alleged chemical weapons attack against the city of Douma, located about 10 kilometers northeast of the Syrian capital Damascus.

“China’s stance on chemical weapons is clear. We oppose to the use of chemical weapons by any country, any organization or anyone for any purpose. China advocates a comprehensive, impartial and objective investigation into the suspected use of chemical weapons so as to reach a reliable conclusion that could withstand the test of time and facts,” Hua said.

“We support an on-site investigation to Syria by a group from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Before that, all the parties cannot make a pre-judgment,” she pointed out.

Hua further described a political settlement as the only realistic option to resolve the Syrian crisis.

“I want to stress that there is no way out for any military solution to the Syrian issue as a political solution is the only realistic choice. Any attempt to resort to the use of force can only intensify regional tensions and complicate the issue,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman noted.

Early on Saturday, the US, Britain and France carried out a string of airstrikes against Syria over a suspected chemical attack against Douma. Washington and its allies blamed Damascus for the suspected assault.

The Syrian government has strongly denied the allegation, calling on OPCW to send a fact-finding mission for investigations.

However, the US and is allies carried out the strike on the day the mission just arrived in Damascus.

Pentagon said in a statement that at least 58 missiles had struck Shayrat airbase in the western Syrian city of Homs. An unnamed US official said Tomahawk missiles were used in the strikes.

The United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force said four Tornado GR4s fighter jets joined the operation, while France said it had deployed Mirage and Rafale fighter jets.

Russian General Staff spokesman General Sergei Rudskoy, however, said Syrian air defense systems had intercepted at least 71 cruise missiles fired during the US-led aggression.

Speaking at a news conference in Moscow on Saturday, Rudskoy said at least 103 cruise missiles, including Tomahawks, had been fired into a number of targets in Syria.

“Russia has fully restored the air defense system of Syria, and it continues to improve it over the last six months,” he said.

April 16, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Missile Attack on Syria Is a Salute to “Russiagate” Enthusiasts, Whether They Like It or Not

By Norman Solomon | CounterPunch | April 16, 2018

Politicians, pundits and activists who’ve routinely denounced President Trump as a tool of Vladimir Putin can now mull over a major indicator of their cumulative impacts. The U.S.-led missile attack on Syria before dawn Saturday is the latest benchmark for gauging the effects of continually baiting Trump as a puppet of Russia’s president.

Heavyweights of U.S. media — whether outlets such as CNN and MSNBC or key newspapers like the New York Times and the Washington Post — spent most of the last week clamoring for Trump to order air strikes on Syria. Powerful news organizations have led the way in goading Trump to prove that he’s not a Putin lackey after all.

One of the clearest ways that Trump can offer such proof is to recklessly show he’s willing to risk a catastrophic military confrontation with Russia.

In recent months, the profusion of “war hawks, spies and liars” on national television has been part of a media atmosphere that barely acknowledges what’s at stake with games of chicken between the world’s two nuclear superpowers. Meanwhile, the dominant U.S. news media imbue their reporting with a nationalistic sense of impunity.

On Saturday morning, the top headline on the New York Times website was “U.S. Attacks Syria in Retaliatory Strike,” while the subhead declared that “Western resolve” was at work. The story led off by reporting that Trump “sought to punish President Bashar al-Assad for a suspected chemical attack near Damascus last weekend that killed more than 40 people.”

Try putting the shoe on the other foot for a moment. Imagine that Russia, with a similar rationale, fired missiles at U.S. ally Saudi Arabia because the Kremlin “sought to punish King Salman for his country’s war crimes in Yemen” — with such reportage appearing under a headline that described the Russian attack as a “retaliatory strike.”

The latest U.S. air attack on Russia’s close ally Syria was as much politically aimed at Moscow as at Damascus. And afterwards, the televised adrenalin-pumped glee was as much an expression of pleasure about striking a blow at Putin as at Assad. After all, ever since Trump took office, the U.S. media and political elites have been exerting enormous pressures on him to polarize with Russia.

But let’s be clear: The pressures have not only been generated by corporate media and the political establishment. Across the United States, a wide range of people including self-described liberals and progressives — as individuals and organizations — have enthusiastically participated in the baiting, cajoling and denouncing of Trump as a Putin tool. That participation has stoked bellicose rhetoric by congressional Democrats, fueling the overall pressure on Trump to escalate tensions with Russia.

What’s really at issue here is not the merits of the Russian government in 2018, any more than the issue was the merits of the Soviet government in 1967 — when President Lyndon Johnson hosted an extensive summit meeting in Glassboro, New Jersey, with Soviet Premier Alexi Kosygin, reducing the chances of nuclear war in the process.

If you keep heading toward a destination, you’re likely to get there. In 2018, by any realistic measure, the escalating conflicts between the United States and Russia — now ominously reaching new heights in Syria — are moving us closer to World War III. It’s time to fully recognize the real dangers and turn around.

April 16, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

UK Labour releases legal opinion, describing Syrian air strikes as unlawful

Press TV – April 16, 2018

Britain’s opposition Labour Party has released an expert opinion about the recent US-led air strikes against Syria, describing them as unlawful.

Tom Watson, the deputy Labour leader, released the five-page legal opinion from Dapo Akande, a professor of public international law at Oxford University.

A summary of Akande’s conclusions has been published on Monday by the Guardian newspaper.

“Contrary to the position of the [UK] government, neither the UN charter nor customary international law permits military action on the basis of the doctrine of humanitarian intervention,” the opinion said.

“The legal position advanced by the government ignores the structure of the international law rules relating to the use of force,” it added.

“The action taken by the government was not directed at bringing “immediate and urgent relief” with regard to the specific evil it sought to prevent, and was taken before the inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons were able to reach the affected area.”

Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has described airstrikes on Syria as legally questionable and accused UK Prime Minister Theresa May of “trailing after” US President Donald Trump in an attack that could escalate the conflict.

Corbyn, a veteran anti-war campaigner, said Saturday that May should have sought approval from the UK Parliament before ordering the attack.

“Bombs won’t save lives or bring about peace,” Corbyn said. “This legally questionable action risks escalating further.”

“Britain should be playing a leadership role to bring about a ceasefire in the conflict, not taking instructions from Washington and putting British military personnel in harm’s way,” he added.

Labour has opposed a military strike on Syria since the suspected chemical weapons attack on Douma near the cap[ital Damascus.

American, British and French forces launched air strikes on Syria early Saturday in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack.

Syria has strongly rejected any role in the suspected attack, which took place just as the Syrian army was about to declare full victory against the militants operating in the Eastern Ghouta region near Damascus.

Syria, Russia and Iran say reports of the attack were fabricated by militant groups and rescue workers and have accused the United States of seeking to use it as a pretext to attack the Syrian government.

April 16, 2018 Posted by | War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

Senseless and Futile Strike Against Syria Achieves Nothing

Photo credit – AFP
By Alex GORKA | Strategic Culture Foundation | 16.04.2018

The West’s unity is cracking and the United States’ world leadership is being questioned. The alleged but never proven “chemical attack” in Syria offers an opportunity to become a unifying factor. By striking that country, the US administration pursued the goal of solidifying its image as the world number one leading other nations in an effort to stand up to “evil”. It wanted to display the West’s unity, bolster its standing in the Middle East and boost the president’s approval ratings at home. Russia was portrayed as a rogue state backing the “animal” Assad and allied with Iran to pose a common threat. Has the mission been accomplished?

The world did not rush to display its support. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wants no escalation in Syria. China opposed the use of force. Indonesia expressed concern over the attack not mandated by the UN. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic warned the strikes could lead to a global conflict. Bolivian President Evo Morales slammed the act of aggression.

Formally, NATO approved the strikes but reservations followed regarding the stance on Russia. For instance, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned against demonizing Moscow on April 15 saying that there should be no animosity between the West and Russia amid growing tensions. He insists a dialogue should be maintained. Germany approved the operation but refused to participate.

British opposition Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn criticized the move and said the UK joined the strikes under US pressure. Only a quarter of Britons approve the UK’s participation in the operation. 43% of them disapprove it.

French President Macron has come under criticism from the right as well as from the left for his decision to join the operation. Italy refused to let the allies use its territory for launching the strikes. Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn questioned the legality of the attack. The SYRIZA party, the larger member of Greece’s ruling coalition, condemned the strikes. Finland, Cyprus and Switzerland expressed concern over the use of force against Syria. Finland’s Foreign Minister Timo Soini still believes peace would have a chance in Syria if international law were observed.

There was no unanimous support of the attack inside the US. The move came under harsh criticism from the two sides of the aisle. For instance, Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., believes that the attack launched without Congress’s approval is illegal and reckless. This view was backed by Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich. Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM., issued a special statement to strongly disagree with the president’s decision to use force. He thinks Donald Trump is dangerously escalating the situation by acting without legal authority. The influential Arms Control Association slammed the strikes as a short-sighted and illegal action, violating domestic legislation and international law.

The largest Arab nations did not approve the strikes. The Iraqi government believes that the strikes marked “a very dangerous development” to give terrorists another opportunity to strengthen their positions. Egypt expressed “deep concern” saying the strikes undermined the prospects for peace in Syria. Algeria condemned the move. Lebanon raised its voice to strongly oppose the act of aggression.

The military one-off operation rather divides than unites the world, including the “collective West”. The British government has failed to rally popular support. Instead, it made its position weaker than it had been. The NATO, as well as EU, backing was mainly vocal. Only three nations actually joined the operation. The contribution of Great Britain and France was very limited. The US administration is in for a lot of questions on its strategy in Syria.

The legality of the act is universally questioned and many governments realize that international law does not protect anyone from US-led attacks and prompts them seek to weapons to defend themselves. As Syria’s experience shows, Russia has a lot to offer not only as arms supplier but also as an alternative pole of power.

The situation in Syria has not changed. Its government retains the capability to continue its successful offensive on all fronts. The strikes have not diminished Moscow’s and Tehran’s unswerving support of Damascus. The air strike has achieved nothing. It only demonstrated how limited is the US ability to influence the events in Syria, putting into question its claims to global leadership.

April 16, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Bob Parry: Holding Government to Account

A memorial was held on Saturday for Robert Parry, the late founder and editor of this web site. Among the speakers paying tribute to Bob was Joe Lauria, the new editor of Consortium News.

By Joe Lauria

If you watch Bob’s various talks available on YouTube you’ll see that he was often asked why he started Consortium News. Bob says, essentially, that he got fed up with the resistance he faced from editors who put obstacles in the way of his stories, often of great national significance. One editor at Newsweek told him they were suppressing a story for “the good for the country.” The facts he’d unearthed went too far in exposing the dark side of American power. His editor was speaking, of course, about what was for the good of the rulers of the country, not the rest of us. As we just heard from John Pilger, Bob created a consortium for journalists who ran up against similar obstruction from their editors: a place for them to publish what they could not get published in the mainstream.

Sixteen years after Bob launched Consortium News with Sam and Nat I became one of those journalists. I’d had similar experiences. When I covered the diplomacy at the U.N. leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq for a Canadian chain that published the Montreal Gazette, Ottawa Citizen, and other papers, I gave equal weight in my stories to the German, French and Russian opposition on the Security Council to the invasion.  So the chain’s foreign editor called me up one day from Ottawa to berate me for not supporting the war effort in my reporting.

He told me his son was a marine. I told him I was certain he was proud of him, but my job was not to support the war but to report objectively on what was happening at the Security Council. The Bush administration never got their resolution. But they invaded anyway. It was illegal under international law as Kofi Annan finally said after being pressured by a BBC interviewer. Annan was then hounded to the point of a near nervous breakdown by the likes of then UN Ambassador John Bolton, who, unfortunately. has since gotten a promotion. I, on the other hand, on the day of the invasion was fired.

Later, while covering the U.N. for The Wall Street Journal, I found that several of my stories were suppressed or inconvenient facts were getting edited out. One was a story I twice had rejected on a declassified Defense Intelligence Agency document that predicted the rise of ISIS back in 2012 but was ignored in Washington. It said the U.S. and its allies in Europe, Turkey and the Gulf were supporting a Salafist principality in eastern Syria that could turn into an Islamic State. Such a story would undermine the government’s war on terrorism.

In another instance, my editors repeatedly removed from my stories, on the UN vote on Palestine’s observer status, a line indicating that 130 nations had already recognized Palestine. At that point I realized the Journal had an agenda—not to neutrally report complex international events from multiple sides, but to promote US interests abroad. So I turned to Bob and he accepted a piece from me on that Palestine issue in late 2011, the first of many of my articles that he eventually published.

Bob was without doubt the best editor I’ve ever had. He was the only one who really understood—or accepted–what I was writing about.

Bob was a supreme skeptic, but he never descended to cynicism. His legacy, which I am committed to carry on, was of a principled, non-partisan approach to journalism. He took a neutral stance reporting on international issues, which some wrongly saw as anti-American. Bob knew never to take a government official’s word for it, especially an intelligence official. He knew people in all governments lie. But there are two other parties involved: the press and the public. He understood that the press had to act as a filter, to verify and challenge government assertions, before they are passed on to the public. Bob became distraught, and in his last piece poignantly said so, about the state of American journalism, where careerism and vanity had aligned the profession with those in power, a power through which too many reporters seem to live vicariously.

The press’ power is distinct from the government’s, it is the power to hold government accountable on behalf of the public. Bob understood that the mainstream media’s greatest sin was the sin of omission: leaving out of a story, or marginalizing, points of view at odds with a U.S. agenda, but vital for the reader to comprehend a frighteningly complex world.

The viewpoints of Iranians, Palestinians, Russians, North Koreans, Syrians and others are never fully reported in the Western media, though the supposed mission of journalism is to tell all sides of a story. It’s impossible to understand an international crisis without those voices being heard. Routinely or systematically shutting them out also dehumanizes people in those countries, making it easier to gain popular support in the U.S. to go to war against them.

The omission of such news day after day in newspapers and on television adds up over the decades to what Bob called the Lost History of post-war America. It is a dark side of American history—coups overthrowing democratically-elected leaders, electoral interference, assassinations and invasions. Omitting that history, as it continues to unfold nearly everyday, gives the American people a distorted view of their country, an almost cartoonish sense of America’s supposed morality in international affairs, rather than it just pursuing its interests, too often violently, as all great powers do.

These things aren’t normally mentioned in polite society. But Bob Parry built his extraordinary career telling those truths. And I’m going to do my damnedest to continue, and honor, his legacy.

Thank you.

April 16, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment