Aletho News


Bjorn Lomborg: ‘Stop these silly, undocumented claims of ever-increasing fire’ Claims ‘based on anecdotes, not data’ – Reality is Global & U.S. fires declining

By Bjørn Lomborg · August 6 2018

Could we please stop with the misleading fire stories?

The Economist cover story, like so many other stories these last weeks, claim that forest fires are exceptional and record-breaking: “EARTH is smoldering. From Seattle to Siberia this summer, flames have consumed swathes of the northern hemisphere”

This is based on anecdotes, not data.

As I’ve shown in previous days, the US burnt area was much higher in the early part of last century, and the EU burnt area has declined by half over the past 36 years.

So: No, the US is not smoldering more – it is smoldering much less than it used to in the first part of the 20th century.

And no, the EU is not smoldering more – it is smoldering much less over the past 36 years.

Let’s finally look at the global perspective. While many of these fire scare stories are based on news from the US and the EU, the Economist claim was explicitly global.

Yet, the data does not support the argument that things are burning more and more.

The graph shows the estimated area burnt globally per year from 1900-2010. And it shows a steady decline.

It is from the article “Spatial and temporal patterns of global burned area in response to anthropogenic and environmental factors: Reconstructing global fire history for the 20th and early 21st centuries” One important point is to recognize that there is absolutely not enough data to do this only based on reported burning.

This is one of the reasons I started off with the US (where we have solid (if likely under-reported) data from 1926) and the EU. But clearly, the evidence for the global trend is unmistakable.

We see a similar pattern from the 2018 Nature article “Reduction in global area burned and wildfire emissions since 1930s enhances carbon uptake by land” which (as the title suggests, finds a strong decline in area burnt since 1930 (figure 2).

We also see declining area burnt from 1900-2000 from the article “Human impacts on 20th century fire dynamics and implications for global carbon and water trajectories”, figure 4b.

In a very recommendable (and freely available) overview article “Global trends in wildfire and its impacts: perceptions versus realities in a changing world” they clearly write that people (like the journalist at the Economist ) who believe there is more fire now, that is worse and have higher impact, are likely wrong:

“Many consider wildfire as an accelerating problem, with widely held perceptions both in the media and scientific papers of increasing fire occurrence, severity and resulting losses. However, important exceptions aside, the quantitative evidence available does not support these perceived overall trends. Instead, global area burned appears to have overall declined over past decades, and there is increasing evidence that there is less fire in the global landscape today than centuries ago.”

Beyond better fire prevention an important reason might be that more people and higher population densities perhaps surprisingly means *less* fire. The paper “Impact of human population density on fire frequency at the global scale” shows that “at the global scale, the impact of increasing population density is mainly to reduce fire frequency.”

So: Stop these silly, undocumented claims of ever-increasing fire, please.


Graph from “Spatial and temporal patterns of global burned area in response to anthropogenic and environmental factors: Reconstructing global fire history for the 20th and early 21st centuries”…/10.1…/2013JG002532.

“Reduction in global area burned and wildfire emissions since 1930s enhances carbon uptake by land”

“Human impacts on 20th century fire dynamics and implications for global carbon and water trajectories”…/artic…/pii/S0921818117303910

“Global trends in wildfire and its impacts: perceptions versus realities in a changing world”…/…/1696/20150345 (not embargoed)

“Impact of human population density on fire frequency at the global scale.”

US fire data:…/a.2217582089…/10157044699208968/… and additional data set here:…/posts/10157044718363968…

EU fire data:…/a.2217582089…/10157047962983968/…

August 8, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science | | 1 Comment

Critical voices needed at development studies conference

By Yves Engler · August 8, 2018

Are they critical thinkers or cheerleaders pretending to be independent of the government that funds them? Given the title conference organizers chose — “Is Canada Back: delivering on good intentions?” — one would guess the latter. But, an independent researcher keeps an open mind.

Publicity for the mid-September conference organized by the Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC) and the Canadian Association for the Study of International Development (CASID) notes: “Inspired by Justin Trudeau’s 2015 proclamation ‘Canada is Back’, we are presenting panels that illustrate or challenge Canada’s role in global leadership. Are we doing all that we could be doing in the world?”

Formulating the question this way seems like a sop to the government that provides their funding. Conference organizers must be aware of the Trudeau government’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia’s monarchy, backing for brutal mining companies, NATO deployments, antagonism towards Palestinian rights, efforts to topple the Venezuelan government, failure to end Canada’s ‘low level war’ on Iran, refusal to support nuclear weapons controls, promotion of military spending, etc.

The reality is that while the two conference sponsors are supported by some labour unions, left groups and internationalist-minded young people, they are heavily dependent/tied to Canada’s official foreign policy apparatus.

To understand government influence over the NGO/development studies swamp requires wading through acronym-filled historical waters. An umbrella group representing dozens of major development NGOs, the CCIC was created fifty years ago with financing from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA, now part of Global Affairs Canada). The aid agency expected it to coordinate relations with the growing NGO network and build domestic political support for the aid program. While it has challenged government policy on occasion, the CCIC is highly dependent on government funds. Shortly after it publicly complained the government created a “chill” in the NGO community by adopting “the politics of punishment … towards those whose public views run at cross purposes to the government,” the CCIC’s $1.7 million CIDA grant was cut in 2012. This forced it to lay off two thirds of its staff.

CASID and international development studies programs more generally have received significant support from CIDA and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), a Crown Corporation. In 2015 CASID’s president thanked “IDRC for its support of CASID over the past decade and more.” As part of one contract, IDRC gave CASID $450,000 between 2012 and 2015.

In the mid-1990s IDRC sponsored an initiative to enhance university undergraduate international development programs. This led to the creation of the Canadian Consortium for University Programs in International Development Studies (CCUPIDS), which has as its primary objective to “strengthen the position of International Development Studies.” CIDA also funds CCUPIDS conferences.

CCUPIDS is a branch of CASID, which publishes the Canadian Journal of Development Studies. In the introduction to a journal special issue on Canadian universities and development, editors Leonora Angeles and Peter Boothroyd write:

Thanks mostly to grant funding from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the International Development Research Council (IDRC), Canadian academics have been able to engage intensively in development work for over three decades.

CIDA and IDRC also directly fund international development studies initiatives. In the late 1960s CIDA sponsored a study with the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) to investigate what schools offered development studies courses. According to IDRC: 40 years of ideas, innovation, and impact, “early on, it began funding Canadian area and development studies associations, their conferences, journals, and research — gathering and communication activities.” The Canadian Association of African Studies, Canadian Association of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Canadian Asian Studies Association and Canadian Association of Studies in International Development all “received substantial core funding from IDRC, intermittently in the 1970s and 1980s, and continuously since 1990.”

Significant sums of aid money continue to flow to international development studies programs. The website of the McGill Institute for the Study of International Development lists a dozen contracts worth more than $600,000 from CIDA, as well as $400,000 in contracts from IDRC and Foreign Affairs. An NGO and CIDA training ground, these programs often include internships and volunteer opportunities funded by development aid. The Students for Development Internships is “offered through the AUCC and CIDA, and students are funded to work for up to four months with an NGO anywhere in the world.” Queen’s Global Development Studies exchange program, for instance, received $270,000 from CIDA in 2011.

Individuals who participated in aid agency-funded projects, notably the government-backed Canadian University Services Overseas (CUSO), spurred or launched international development studies programs. In Canada’s Global Villagers: CUSO in Development, 1961-86 Ruth Compton Brouwer writes:

CUSO staff and RV’s [returned volunteers] contributed substantially to the establishment of university-level courses and programs related to global issues and the centres for international education and development studies. These are now such ordinary features of Canadian universities that it is difficult to conceive of how novel they were when they began in the 1960s.”

Led by CUSO’s former West Africa coordinator Don Simpson, University of Western Ontario opened an office of international education in 1969, which “operated in collaboration with CIDA.” Similarly, “valued friends of CUSO” instigated development studies programming at the universities of Ottawa and Toronto.

Canadian aid also directly shapes international development studies research. Half of the respondents to a 2002 survey of 64 scholars reported that CIDA’s six development priorities influenced their research focus. A professor or student who aligns their pursuits with those of the aid agency or IDRC is more likely to find funding or a fellowship. And IDRC/Global Affairs Canada’s priorities don’t include challenging Canadian foreign policy.

Given the sponsors’ ties to the foreign policy apparatus it is likely that the September conference will offer little more than cheerleading for the Trudeau Liberals’ foreign policy. Still, one can’t be certain and, having been invited by a Facebook friend to attend, I emailed the conference organizers to ask if they would allow me to present a critical look at Trudeau’s foreign policy. Thus far they have not accepted my offer.

If you agree that answering the question “Are we doing all that we could be doing in the world?” requires some critical voices, please email (ac.cicc@stneve) and ask them to allow Yves Engler to speak on Justin Trudeau’s foreign policy at your upcoming conference.

I love a good debate and maybe both sides will learn something new.

August 8, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | Leave a comment

US Imposing Sanctions on Russia Over Skripal Poisoning – State Department

Sputnik – August 8, 2018

The US State Department announced Wednesday that it would be imposing sanctions against Russia regarding the poisoning of Yulia and Sergei Skripal in the UK earlier this year.

The department said that it determined Russia had used the nerve agent Novichok against the Skripals deliberately. Sanctions are expected to take effect on or around August 22.

Prior to the announcement, the US had joined fellow European nations in blaming Russia for the incident; however, the Trump administration hadn’t issued a formal statement on the matter.

According to NBC News, the immediate repercussions will act as an add-on to previous sanctions limiting exports and financing. “The biggest impact from the initial sanctions is expected to come from a ban on granting licenses to export sensitive national security goods to Russia, which in the past have included items like electronic devices and components, along with test and calibration equipment for avionics,” the outlet states.

The sanctions could also suspend Aeroflot flights to the US and are certain to cool relations between the global powers, though a US State Department official noted after the announcement that Washington hoped to maintain relations with Moscow. The US wants assurances that Russia will not use chemical weapons and will allow inspections.

On March 14, days after the Skripals were found slumped on a park bench in Salisbury, England, UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced that she would be expelling 23 Russian diplomats from the country. May justified her decision by saying it was “highly likely” the mysterious poisoning had been carried out by Russia, in part because the substance used to poison the pair had been identified as novichok, a military-grade nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union. UK labs have not since been able to trace the origins of the specific substance that poisoned the Skripals, however.

Months later, on June 30, two other people were found unconscious in the UK city of Amesbury, near Salisbury. According to UK officials, both Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley were exposed to the same nerve agent that the Skripals had come into contact with. This, too, was blamed on Russia. Sturgess later died.

Russia has adamantly denied that it played any role in either poisoning, stressing that the UK has failed to offer any solid evidence to back up their claims.

See also:

‘Still No Proof’: Scholar Questions Skripal Case Probe Amid Amesbury Incident

August 8, 2018 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

Venezuelan Opposition Calls for New Presidential Vote After Maduro Drone Attack

Sputnik – August 8, 2018

Venezuela’s opposition leader Julio Borges has called on Caracas to hold a new presidential vote to elect a new leader who will, in turn, form a new government that will bring order to the country after the recent assassination attempt on President Nicolas Maduro.

“There is a clear confusion with what happened over the weekend, but it has been demonstrated, once again, the disconnection and detachment that exists between the Venezuelan people and those who are in power today … The only way to stop the violence, anarchy, and chaos that exists in Venezuela is to allow the people to choose a different government through free elections,” Borges said Tuesday in a statement distributed by the Justice First.

He added that the Venezuelan population was confused and did not believe the government’s version of who was responsible for the assassination attempt.

On Tuesday, Maduro accused Borges, who is a former president of the country’s National Assembly and co-founder of Venezuela’s main opposition party Justice First, of being linked to the recent drone attack that attempted to kill the Venezuelan president.

On Saturday, a military parade in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas attended by Maduro was interrupted by what the authorities said was an attempt on the life of the president. Venezuela’s Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez has said several drones detonated close to where the president was giving a speech. The president was unharmed, but seven soldiers sustained injuries.

Maduro blamed the attack on Venezuelan right-wing opposition, Colombia, and individuals living in the United States. Both Washington and Bogota have denied any involvement in the incident.

August 8, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

A Four Person NATO-Funded Team Advises Facebook On Flagging “Propaganda”

By Tyler Durden | Zero Hedge | August 7, 2018

This is not at all comforting: during a week that’s witnessed Alex Jones’ social media accounts taken down by Facebook, Apple, Spotify and Google, and what appears to be a growing crackdown against alternative media figures including several prominent Libertarians, notably the Ron Paul Institute director, and the Scott Horton Show, who found their Twitter accounts suspended — we learn that the Atlantic Council is directly advising Facebook on identifying and removing “foreign interference” on the popular platform. 

While the initiative was initially revealed last May through an official Facebook media release, more details of the controversial think tank’s role have been revealed.

Supposedly the whole partnership is aimed at bringing more objectivity and neutrality to the process of rooting out fake accounts that pose the threat of being operated by nefarious foreign states.

And yet as a new Reuters report confirmsFacebook is now itself a top donor to the Atlantic Council, alongside Western governments, Gulf autocratic regimes, NATO, various branches of the US military, and a number of major defense contractors and corporations. 

What’s more is that the team of four total individuals running the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFR Lab) is headed by a former National Security Council advisor for the last four years of the Obama administration, Graham Brookie, who is also its founder.

Apparently the group’s work has already been instrumental in Facebook taking action against over two dozen “suspicious pages” flagged potential foreign actors such as Russia. According to Reuters:

Facebook is using the group to enhance its investigations of foreign interference. Last week, the company said it took down 32 suspicious pages and accounts that purported to be run by leftists and minority activists. While some U.S. officials said they were likely the work of Russian agents, Facebook said it did not know for sure.

This is indeed the shocking key phrase included in the report:Facebook said it did not know for sure.” And yet the accounts were removed anyway.

The Facebook-Atlantic Council alliance reportedly springs from the social media giant’s finding itself desperate for outside “neutral” help after a swell of public criticism, mostly issuing from congressional leaders and prominent media pundits, for supposedly allowing Russian propaganda accounts to operate ahead of the 2016 elections.

And in perhaps the most chilling line of the entire report, Reuters says, “But the lab and Atlantic Council bring geopolitical expertise and allow Facebook to distance itself from sensitive pronouncements.” This is ostensibly to defuse any potential conflict of interest arising as Facebook seems a bigger presence in emerging foreign markets.

Facebook’s chief security officer Alex Stamos recently told reporters, “Companies like ours don’t have the necessary information to evaluate the relationship between political motivations that we infer about an adversary and the political goals of a nation-state.” He explained further that Facebook would collect suspicious digital evidence and submit it to “researchers and authorities”.

Since at least May when the relationship was first announced, the DFR Lab has been key to this process of verifying what constitutes foreign interference or nefarious state propaganda.

But here’s the kicker. Reuters writes of the DFR Lab’s funding in the following:

Facebook donated an undisclosed amount to the lab in May that was enough, said Graham Brookie, who runs the lab, to vault the company to the top of the Atlantic Council’s donor list, alongside the British government.

Facebook employees said privately over the past several months that Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg wants to outsource many of the most sensitive political decisions, leaving fact-checking to media groups and geopolitics to think tanks.

Facebook has defended the process as part of ensuring that it remains politically neutral, yet clearly the Atlantic Council itself is hardly neutral, as a quick perusal of its top donors indicates.

Among the DFR Labs partners include UK-based Bellingcat, which has in the past claimed “proof” that Assad gassed civilians based on analyzing YouTube videos and Google Earth. And top donors include various branches of the US military, Gulf sates like the UAE, and notably, NATO.

The Atlantic Council has frequently called for things like increased military engagement in Syria, militarily confronting the “Russian threat” in Eastern Europe, and now is advocating for Ukraine and Georgia to be allowed entry into NATO while calling for general territorial expansion of the Western military alliance.

Further it has advocated on behalf of one of its previous funders, Turkish dictator Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and gave a “Distinguished International Leadership” award to George W. Bush, to name but a few actions of the think tank that has been given authorization to flag citizens’ Facebook pages for possible foreign influence and propaganda.

Quite disturbingly, this is Mark Zuckerberg’s outside “geopolitical expertise” he’s been seeking.

August 8, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | Leave a comment

Color Revolution in the Caucasus rattles Russian leaders

Armenia’s new Prime Minister has targeted Moscow’s confidantes in a corruption crackdown and angered the Kremlin by making overtures to NATO

By M.K. Bhadrakumar | Asia Times | August 8, 2018

No two “color revolutions” have been the same, although the anatomy may bear similarity. This explains why Russia continues to face a problem in calibrating its response to emerging revolutionary tides in its backyard.

Russia fumbled in Georgia (2003) and Ukraine (2004 and 2014), but digested the ‘color revolutions’ in Kyrgyzstan in 2005 and 2010. Of course, circumstances were different: Kyrgyzstan is a landlocked country.

The Moscow elite’s eternal dilemma has been that, when the defining moment came, the West invariably injected geopolitics into color revolutions in the post-Soviet space in a concerted strategy to encircle Russia with an arc of hostile states.

In this complex backdrop of historical uncertainty, Russia is unsure whether it made an error of judgment apropos the “Velvet Revolution” in Armenia, which shot a 42-year-old former journalist and previously uninspiring opposition politician, Nikol Pashinyan, to power. After a meteoric three-week rise he became prime minister in May.

The Velvet Revolution bore traits of a color revolution – although traces of outside interference were indistinguishable. Even as Pashinyan rode the revolutionary wave, Moscow chose not to cast aspersions on his stated agenda, that cleaning up the Augean stables in his country was his sole objective and his mission had no foreign-policy overtones.

Moscow’s approach probably ended up helping him climb the ladders of power, with the entrenched ruling party in Armenia meekly stepping aside to make way for him as the new prime minister.

Pashinyan pledges loyalty

Moscow appeared to accept at face value Pashinyan’s pledges of fealty. President Vladimir Putin was the first foreign leader to congratulate Pashinyan on May 8 when the ruling party elected him as the new head of government in a parliamentary vote.

Putin said: “I hope that your performance as the head of government will contribute to efforts to further strengthen friendly, allied relations between our countries, partnership within the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Eurasian Economic Union and the Collective Security Treaty Organization.”

Pashinyan nicely played along. Indeed, his first face-to-face with Putin in Sochi, only six days later on the sidelines of the summit meeting of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), had an effusive tone.

Pashinyan thanked Putin for what he called Moscow’s “balanced position” during the color revolution and reassured the Kremlin of the immutability of the Armenian-Russian “strategic alliance”.

In the presence of reporters, he told Putin that “the strategic alliance relations between Armenia and Russia” required “no discussion” and “there is a consensus on this issue in Armenia. I think that nobody in our country has or will cast doubt on the strategic importance of Armenian-Russian relations.”

Russia maintains a military base in Armenia.

Putin wished him success and said he hoped that bilateral ties “will develop just as steadily as they have up to now.” Putin added that Russia “views Armenia as our closest partner and ally in the region” on both economic and security issues.”

Moscow confidantes targeted

One week into the Velvet Revolution, it all seemed as if the Russian-Armenian alliance couldn’t be in better shape. But then, the sky began getting overcast and a stillness began descending in the air.

On May 10, Pashinyan began what appeared as a shake-up of the administration. It quickly snowballed into a veritable purge aimed at systemic change. He also launched a crackdown on public corruption, which has since made him a cult figure.

In a matter of three months his administration caught up with the two ex-presidents, Robert Kocharyan and Serzh Sargsyan, and the influential mayor of Yerevan Taron Margaryan, who were all Moscow’s confidantes in Yerevan.

Then, on July 27, Pashinyan struck hard by implicating the incumbent Secretary-General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Yuri Khachaturov on charges dating back to his past assignment as Chief of the General Staff of Armenia under Sargsyan. The general is presently based in Moscow as the head of the Russia-led alliance.

That was when Moscow sat up.

On July 31, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow was “concerned” that Armenia’s new leadership was making politically motivated moves against former leaders. Lavrov said: “The events of the last few days… contradict the recent declarations of the new Armenian leadership that it was not planning to pursue its predecessors on political grounds.”

Lavrov added: “Moscow, as an ally of Yerevan, has always had an interest in the stability of the Armenian state, and therefore what is happening there must be of concern to us.”

He disclosed that Moscow had repeatedly raised its concerns with Yerevan and expected a “constructive” response. These remarks amount to a rebuke.

NATO outreach spurs Russian warning

Meanwhile, what probably rung alarm bells in Moscow was that Pashinyan also began making overtures to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). On the sidelines of the alliance’s summit on July 12 in Brussels, to which he was invited, Pashinyan said: “It would be very useful if NATO will send a strong message to Azerbaijan that any attempt to solve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict using force will meet a strong reaction from the international community.”

In effect, he invited the Western alliance to get involved in the Southern Caucasus, which Russia traditionally regards as its sphere of influence.

While in Brussels, Pashinyan met the leaders of Germany, France, Canada among others, apart from a having a brief conversation with US President Donald Trump. Importantly, he began stressing the centrality of NATO as a forum for Armenia’s interactions with Georgia.

On August 2, the influential Moscow daily Kommersant wrote that Pashinyan’s moves had “driven a wedge into Moscow’s relations with Yerevan and may set the two countries at loggerheads even more”. The daily noted, citing Russian security officials, that the charges laid against CSTO Secretary General Khachaturov caused “outrage” in Moscow, because it “deals a blow to the image of the Russian-led military and political bloc”. It hinted at Western interference.

Equally, Moscow has taken exception to Armenia’s participation in the NATO exercises currently underway in Georgia. (Armenia is a member of the CSTO.)

In a hard-hitting statement on Friday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said the NATO exercise in Georgia aimed to “project power pressure, chiefly over South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Russia” and can only result in an “escalation of tensions.” Zakharova regretted that “Georgia’s neighboring countries are involved in these drills on various pretexts.”

On Monday, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Georgia’s accession to NATO may trigger “a terrible conflict” and lead to catastrophic consequences. He closely echoed Putin’s stern warning last month: “We will respond proportionally to aggressive moves that pose a direct threat to Russia. Our [NATO] counterparts who bet on rising tensions, are trying to bring, say, Ukraine and Georgia into the alliance’s military orbit but they should think about the possible consequences of such an irresponsible policy.”

Clearly, Moscow’s preference would have been that Pashinyan pragmatically keeps Armenia in Russia’s orbit – and NATO out of the Caucasus. But the Velvet Revolution has mutated and Moscow’s dismal experience is that in such defining moments, environmental pressures cause changes to the genetic structure of color revolutions, resulting in variant DNA forms.

August 8, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

‘Truth is treason in empire of lies’: Ron Paul on Big Tech censorship

RT | August 7, 2018

After the executive director of the Ron Paul Institute got suspended on Twitter, the former congressman from Texas told RT that social media crackdowns are part of a broader effort to silence dissent in the US.

While social media could be a “real delight” and very informative, the biggest role social networks are playing is “working with the government,” Ron Paul told RT on Tuesday. The government is indirectly regulating speech through companies like Twitter and Facebook, he added.

“You get accused of treasonous activity and treasonous speech because in an empire of lies the truth is treason,” Paul said. “Challenging the status quo is what they can’t stand and it unnerves them, so they have to silence people.”

Paul served in the House of Representatives for over 25 years before retiring in 2013 and setting up the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. The institute’s executive director, Daniel McAdams, found himself suspended from Twitter on Monday, apparently for retweeting a comment by radio show host Scott Horton.

Horton, who is also the editorial director of, was suspended for criticizing journalist Jonathan M. Katz, after Katz complained to Twitter and got former former State Department employee and author Peter Van Buren banned from the platform.

“I’m just hoping that technology can stay ahead of it all and that we can have real alternatives to the dependency on Twitter and other companies that have been working hand in glove with the government,” Paul told RT.

“And if we, some of us, tell the truth about our government, they call us treasonous and say we’re speaking out of line and they’d like to punish us, and I think that’s part of what’s happening with social media,” he added.

August 8, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment

Peter Van Buren: Twitter Suspends Me Forever

By Peter Van Buren | We Meant Well | August 7, 2018

Some readers are aware I have been permanently suspended from Twitter as @wemeantwell.

This followed exchanges with several mainstream journalists over their support for America’s wars and unwillingness to challenge the lies of government. After two days of silence, Twitter sent me an auto-response saying what I wrote “harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence someone else’s voice.”

I don’t think I did any of that, and I wish you didn’t have to accept my word on it. I wish instead you could read what I wrote and decide for yourself. But Twitter won’t allow that. Twitter says you cannot read and make up your own mind. They have in fact eliminated all the things I have ever written there over seven years, disappeared me down the Memory Hole. That’s what censorship does; it takes the power to decide what is right and wrong away from you and gives it to someone else.

Hate what I write, hate me, block me, don’t buy my books, but please don’t celebrate handing over those choices to some company.

I lost my career at the State Department because I spoke out as a whistleblower against the Iraq War. I’ve now been silenced, again, for speaking, this time by a corporation. I am living in the America I always feared.

UPDATE: I’ve made a mistake. I was wrong to criticize the government, wrong to criticize journalists, wrong to oppose war. In fact, after much reflection, I have come to understand that I Love Big Brother.

August 8, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Militarism | , | Leave a comment

I Didn’t Join Facebook to “Feel Safe”

By Thomas L. Knapp | William Lloyd Garrison Center | August 7, 2018

In early August, Facebook and other social media services banned content from radio/Internet shock jock Alex Jones. Surprising? No.  Jones’s  number was due to come up. The big players in Internet media have spent the last few years  attempting to appease the perpetually outraged (and therefore unappeasable) by banning and blocking a continuous parade of Most Despised Persons of the Week.

Wikipedia describes Jones’s “INFOWARS” (yes, in all-caps) site as “a far right American conspiracy theorist and fake news website and media platform.” He’s continuously embroiled in litigation with plaintiffs ranging from the makers of Chobani yogurt to the families of Sandy Hook shooting victims.  Definitely despised. So now it’s his turn.

The apparent end game: Turning the Internet into the same bland, homogeneous goop we got from network TV circa the 1950s — content without any rough edges that might spook advertisers. And they’re using pretty much the same justifications as movie and TV studios did with that era’s McCarthyist “blacklists.” To paraphrase Henry Ford, you can have any color Internet you want, so long as it’s beige.

Facebook’s statement on Jones: “We believe in giving people a voice, but we also want everyone using Facebook to feel safe.”


Why on Earth would Facebook’s users require protection from Alex Jones? He’s loud and red-faced and nuts, but it’s not like he can pop out of the screen and grab us. We don’t have to watch him. We don’t have to press the play button, we don’t have to turn the volume up from mute, and we can even block other users who try to push him at us.

Business note to Facebook: These “I don’t feel safe” people will never “feel safe” enough to stop demanding that you reduce the content options other Facebook users enjoy. It’s not about their actual safety. It’s about their compulsion to run everyone else’s lives.

Presumably there are more people in the “other Facebook users” category than in the “make anything that might conceivably cause me mental discomfort go away” category. For now, anyway. Keep this kind of thing up and sooner or later people who want more out of social media than finger-painting and group rounds of “Michael Rowed the Boat Ashore” will leave Facebook and go looking for that mythical Wild West Internet the “Poor Me! What About My Feelz?” crowd is always whining about.

Facebook is  plenty big enough for “live and let live” to work just fine. We choose our Facebook friends. We control what we share with them and we don’t have to look at what they share with us unless we want to.

Please, stop letting those who WON’T live and let live control your content policies.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (

August 8, 2018 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | | 1 Comment

VIPS Asks Twitter to Restore Van Buren’s Account

The Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity in a memo to the Twitter board of directors questions its decision to suspend the account of one of its members without due process.

August 8, 2018

TO: Twitter Board of Directors

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: Suspension of VIPS Associate Peter Van Buren’s Twitter Account

We at Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) are greatly disturbed by the recent decision of your management to permanently suspend the Twitter account @WeMeantWell of our colleague Peter Van Buren. Peter is a highly respected former Foreign Service Officer possessing impeccable credentials for critiquing current developments that might lead to a new war in Eastern Europe or Asia, something which we Americans presumably all would like to avoid.

In 2011 our colleague Peter published a book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People, about the poor decision- making by both civilians and military that led to the disastrous occupation and faux-democracy development in Iraq. It is Peter’s concern that our country may well be proceeding down that same path again — possibly with Iran, Syria and other countries in the Middle East region.

It is our understanding that Peter became involved in an acrimonious Twitter exchange with several mainstream journalists over the theme of government lying. One of the parties to the exchange, reported to be Jonathan Katz of @KatzOnEarth — possibly joined by some of his associates – complained. Subsequently, and without any serious investigation or chance for rebuttal regarding the charges, Peter was suspended by you for “harass[ing], intimidate[ing], or us[ing] fear to silence someone else’s voice.” Peter absolutely denies that anything like that took place.

We have also learned that Daniel McAdams, Executive Director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity and a highly respected former Congressional staffer, weighed in to defend Peter and was also suspended by you. And Scott Horton, editorial director of Radio, was suspended for use of “improper language” against Katz. Horton and McAdams cannot add new tweets while under suspension, but Peter’s “permanent” suspension included deletion of all of his seven years’ archive of tweets, so the actual exchanges leading up to his punishment cannot currently be examined.

Your action suggests three possibilities — all of which are quite plausible given that your system for punishing users is far from transparent. First, you may be engaged in systematic manipulation if some of your users are able to complain and have their friends do likewise in order to sully the reputation of a Twitter user who is doing little more than engaging in heated debate over issues that concern all of us.

Second, there is a distinct possibility that you are responding to either deep pocketed or particularly strident advocacy groups that may themselves have agendas to silence opposition voices. We note that Google is currently working with some powerful foundations to censor content they object to which comes up in search engine results.

Finally – third — we also suspect a possible government hand in that companies like yours, to include Facebook, have become very sensitive to alleged “subversive” content, deleting accounts and blocking users. Kowtowing to government suggestions to silence critics of administration policies may well be considered a desirable proactive step by your management as well as by other social media companies, but censorship is censorship, no matter how you dress it up.

We Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity believe that systematic and/or institutionalized censorship of tweets and account users is fundamentally the wrong way to go unless there are very explicit and sustained threats of violence or other criminal behavior. The internet should be free, to include most particularly the ability to post commentary that is not mainstream or acceptable to the Establishment. That is what Peter has been doing and we applaud him for it. We respectfully request that you examine the facts in the case with the objective of reconsidering and possibly restoring the suspension of Peter Van Buren’s twitter account. Thank you.

For the Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity:

William Binney, former Technical Director, World Geopolitical & Military Analysis, NSA; co-founder, SIGINT Automation Research Center (ret.)

Richard H. Black, Senator of Virginia, 13th District; Colonel US Army (ret); former chief, Criminal Law Division, Office of the Judge Advocate General, the Pentagon (associate VIPS) (@SenRichardBlack)

Bogdan Dzakovic, former team leader of Federal Air Marshals and Red Team, FAA Security (ret.) (associate VIPS)

Philip Giraldi, CIA, Operations Officer (ret.) (@infangenetheof)

Michael S. Kearns, Captain, USAF (ret.); Wing Commander, RAAF (ret.); former intelligence officer and master SERE instructor (@msk6793)

John Kiriakou, former CIA Counterterrorism Officer and former senior investigator, Senate Foreign Relations Committee (@johnkiriakou)

Linda Lewis, WMD preparedness policy analyst, USDA (ret.) (associate VIPS) (@usalinda)

Edward Loomis, NSA, cryptologic computer scientist (ret.)

Ray McGovern, former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA analyst (ret.) (@raymcgovern)

Annie Machon, former intelligence officer in the UK’s MI5 domestic security service (affiliate VIPS) (@anniemachon)

Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East, CIA and National Intelligence Council (ret.) (@elizabethmurra)

Todd E. Pierce, Maj, US Army Judge Advocate (ret.) (@ToddEPierce)

Scott Ritter, former Maj., USMC; former UN weapons inspector, Iraq (@RealScottRitter)

Coleen Rowley, FBI Special Agent and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel (ret.) (@coleenrowley)

J. Kirk Wiebe, former Senior Analyst, SIGINT Automation Research Center, NSA (ret.) (@kirkwiebe)

Sarah Wilton, Commander, US Naval Reserve (ret.) and Defense Intelligence Agency (ret.)

Robert Wing, former Foreign Service Officer (associate VIPS)

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) is made up of former intelligence officers, diplomats, military officers and congressional staffers. The organization, founded in 2002, was among the first critics of Washington’s justifications for launching a war against Iraq. VIPS advocates a US foreign and national security policy based on genuine national interests rather than contrived threats promoted for largely political reasons. An archive of VIPS memoranda is available at

August 8, 2018 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | | 1 Comment

Rick Gates Testifies That Manafort Worked to Help Ukraine ‘Enter the EU’

Sputnik – 08.08.2018

Rick Gates, Paul Manafort’s longtime business partner, took the witness stand in Manafort’s financial crimes trial for the second time on Tuesday, this time revealing that the former Trump campaign chair had worked on policies to help bring Ukraine closer to the European Union.

According to Vice News, on the stand, Gates moved away from offering details on alleged financial crimes the two committed in their heyday and instead shed some light on Manafort’s work as a campaign consultant for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in 2010.

Gates claimed that Manafort had signed an annual $4 million advisory agreement to give life to campaign pledges that Yanukovych had campaigned on. One of the policies that Manafort was reportedly working on was called “Engage Ukraine,” a project meant to push Ukraine into the European Union, Vice reported.

“Engage Ukraine became the strategy for helping Ukraine enter the European Union,” the publication reported Gates telling prosecutors.

Although it’s unclear how long Manafort worked on this specific project, Gates stated that after Yanukovych resigned from office and fled to Russia in 2014, Manafort began to look elsewhere to replenish his income.

“They were out of power, so the income streams were more difficult to come by,” the 46-year-old said. Per Vice, it was after this that Manafort allegedly opted to tap US banks for a steady stream of income via loans.

This revelation is notable, considering that Yanukovych left Ukraine during the Maidan protests in Kiev, which painted the ousted official as being in favor of Russia and uninterested in integrating with the EU, an entity the protesters wanted to become closer with.

Protests began in November 2013 after Yanukovych declined to sign a free trade agreement with the EU, instead opting for close ties to Moscow. The perception that the former president was trying to establish stronger ties with Russia was further strengthened after Yanukovych accepted a $15 billion bailout from Russia that included cheaper gas prices. The bailout was to help boost the faltering Ukrainian economy.

In the Ukrainian capital, estimates suggest that some 400,000 to 800,000 demonstrators camped out in Kiev to demand that Yanukovych part ways with Russia and partner with the EU.

Yanukovych’s perceived closeness with Russia has also added fuel to the flames of speculation that it was somehow through this connection that Moscow allegedly sent tendrils into the Trump campaign. However, Gates’ testimony paints a picture of a lobbyist working to push Kiev West, not East. And he wasn’t alone: according to the New York Times, Gates also revealed that the Podesta Group and Mercury Public Affairs aided Manafort with “their policy consulting efforts.”

Gates, who previously pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and lying to the FBI, is considered a key witness for prosecutors trying to pin money laundering and conspiracy charges on Manafort. The Virginia trial focuses on Manafort’s alleged bank and tax fraud regarding income he earned in Ukraine and through lobbying efforts on behalf of the country.

A separate trial in Washington, DC, for charges of money laundering and obstruction of justice, is expected to begin in September 2018.

Charges against Manafort came out of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign and collusion with the campaign of now-US President Donald Trump. Manafort was briefly Trump’s campaign chair in 2016.

The Russian government has repeatedly denied all charges of meddling and collusion, and the Mueller investigation into collusion has so far has turned up mostly financial crimes unrelated to the campaign.

August 8, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Russophobia | , , , , | Leave a comment