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Saudi-led military aggression left over 15,000 civilians dead: Rights group

Picture, provided by Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement, shows aftermath of Saudi airstrike against Gabal Ras area in Yemen’s western coastal city of Hudaydah on October 13, 2018.
Press TV – October 16, 2018

The Legal Center for Rights and Developments in Yemen says the ongoing Saudi-led military campaign against the impoverished and conflict-plagued Arab country has claimed the lives of more than 15,000 civilians.

The center, in a statement released on Monday, announced that the aggression has resulted in the death of 15,185 civilians, including 3,527 children and 2,277 women.

A total of 23,822 civilians, among them 3,526 children and 2,587 women, have also sustained injuries, and are currently suffering from the lack of medicine, medical supplies and poor treatment due to the crippling Saudi siege.

The center further noted that the Saudi military aggression has also caused the death of nearly 2,200 Yemenis from cholera.

It highlighted that aerial assaults being conducted by the Saudi-led alliance have resulted in the destruction of 15 airports and 14 ports, and damaged 2,559 roads and bridges in addition to 781 water storage facilities, 191 power stations and 426 telecommunications towers.

The statement went on to say that the incessant Saudi-led bombardment campaign has destroyed more than 421,911 houses, 930 mosques, 888 schools, 327 hospitals and health facilities plus 38 media organizations, halted the operation of 4,500 schools and left more than 4 million people internally displaced.

In addition, the Saudi-led coalition has targeted 1,818 government facilities, 749 food storehouses, 621 food trucks, 628 shops and commercial compounds, 362 fuel stations, 265 tankers, 339 factories, 310 poultry and livestock farms, 219 archaeological sites, 279 tourist facilities and 112 playgrounds and sports complexes.

The Legal Center for Rights and Developments in Yemen then called on the United Nations to shoulder its responsibilities concerning protection of human rights and the rules of international humanitarian law in Yemen.

It also called on the international community to take on its legal, moral and humanitarian responsibilities, stressing the need for urgent international and regional actions to end the Saudi-led aggression against Yemen.

The center finally asked the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to conduct a professional and impartial investigation into the crimes being perpetrated against civilians in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating military campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the aim of bringing the government of former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crushing the country’s popular Houthi Ansarullah movement.

October 16, 2018 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

Diplomatic Deadlock: Can U.S.-North Korea Talks Survive Maximum Pressure?

By Gregory Elich | Counterpunch | October 16, 2018

South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s meeting with North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un on September 18-20 culminated in the signing of the Pyongyang Declaration, which marked a significant advance towards peace and heralded a welcome warming in relations. Since that time, however, contradictions within the Trump administration’s North Korea policy threaten to forestall further progress and test the patience of its South Korean ally.

Among the measures outlined in the Pyongyang Declaration, the two sides agreed to “expand the cessation of military hostility in regions of confrontation such as the DMZ,” with the goal of removing the danger of war “across the entire Korean Peninsula.” [1] North and South Korea quickly moved to begin to implement the plan, shutting down some border guard posts and initiating the removal of landmines from the Joint Security Area. Plans are also afoot to establish a no-fly zone over the DMZ, and communication procedures are being established to prevent armed clashes.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, the formal name for North Korea) committed to dismantling its missile launch platform and test site “under the observation of experts from relevant countries.” North Korea promised that it would “take additional measures, such as the permanent dismantlement of the nuclear facilities in Yongbyon, as the United States takes corresponding measures in accordance with the spirit of the June 12 U.S.-DPRK Joint Statement.” [2]

For a majority of Koreans on both sides of the border and in the diaspora, the Pyongyang Declaration was an encouraging development on the path to peace and reconciliation. The mood in Washington, though, was far from celebratory.

Livid over South Korean plans to establish a no-fly zone and demilitarize the inter-Korean border, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo phoned South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha before the Moon-Kim summit and harangued her, accusing her of not knowing what she was doing. Korean media suggest that Pompeo used foul language in expressing his displeasure to Kang. Pompeo was particularly upset at not being briefed beforehand. A second call to Kang later in the day was more conciliatory, after Pompeo had learned that the South Korean government had informed U.S. officials, but no one within the Trump administration had bothered to notify him. [3]

Alarmed at the prospect of an improvement in relations between the two Koreas, as soon as the summit was over the U.S. Treasury Department emailed several South Korean banks and warned them not to engage in business with North Korea. It also conducted conference calls with Korean banks on two consecutive days to drive home its point. The Treasury Department said it was aware of inter-Korean discussions on plans for joint economic projects and asked the banks if they had any plans to proceed. It emphasized that U.S. and UN sanctions remain in force, and warned that the banks risked incurring secondary sanctions. [4]

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Hyung-wha fed American fears that its South Korean ally was not behaving in a sufficiently subservient manner when she told the National Assembly that a review of the sanctions that former president Lee Myung-bak had imposed on North Korea “is underway.” She noted that since the majority of the sanctions overlapped with those of the UN, this would not necessarily mean a “substantive” change was in the cards, and this was a matter “to be reviewed in comprehensive consideration of South-North relations.” [5]

As mild and conditional as Kang’s remarks were, Washington’s reaction was swift and insulting. “They won’t do that without our approval,” Trump said. “They do nothing without our approval.” Trump’s blunt language was revealing. In Washington’s mindset, the alliance with South Korea is a master-servant relationship. Although many Koreans were rightly offended at the language dismissing South Korean sovereignty, the government’s response was overly obsequious. Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon was quick to correct the impression left by Kang’s remarks, promising that “no detailed review has been made,” and asserted that his government’s position is that it is too early to discuss easing sanctions. [6]

At the same time, Moon sought to assuage worries in Washington that the threat of peace on the Korean Peninsula would not mean an end to the U.S.-South Korean military relationship. “I will further strengthen the Republic of Korea Navy so that it may go beyond the Korean Peninsula and contribute to peace in Northeast Asia and the entire world,” he announced at an international naval review at Jeju Island. [7] Moon’s meaning was clear: South Korea can be counted on to meet U.S. expectations that it play a more significant role in U.S. military operations outside of the Korean Peninsula.

The current impasse in U.S.-North Korea negotiations is due entirely to Washington’s expectation that North Korea complete nuclear disarmament in exchange for nothing more than vague promises of future improved relations. North Korea experienced the annihilation of all of its towns and cities by U.S. bombers during the Korean War and in the decades since then the U.S. has regularly conducted military exercises rehearsing a repeat attack. The fate of Yugoslavia, Iraq, and Libya presented North Korea with the vivid object lesson that a small nation relying on conventional forces alone is virtually defenseless against the world’s foremost military power.

By the time it announced a freeze on nuclear weapons and ballistic missile testing, North Korea had nearly completed development of its nuclear weapons program, lacking only final testing of a reentry vehicle. By placing his nuclear weapons program on the table, Kim Jong-un is engaging in a sort of high-wire act in international relations without the benefit of a safety net. He is gambling that reciprocal measures by the United States will ensure his nation’s security, negating the need for a nuclear deterrent. In that context, the Washington establishment could not be more mistaken in its firm belief that North Korean disarmament is achievable through sanctions alone. North Korea has security concerns that must be taken into consideration.

We are often told that North Korea’s failure to provide the United States with a complete list of its nuclear materials and facilities is proof that it is “not serious” about nuclear disarmament. Unmentioned is that once North Korea produces such a list, U.S. military planners would be able to plot the bombing coordinates of each facility. From a North Korean perspective, this step is suitable for a later stage in negotiations, during which the United States is providing compensating security assurances. It is an unreasonable upfront demand.

The standard narrative in the U.S. media is that the mere act of talking with North Korea is an excessive concession and it is now up to the DPRK to unilaterally disarm. A report by CNN in the days leading up to the Singapore Summit between President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un was a typical expression of that mindset. The report claimed that Kim Jong-un would “achieve the longstanding dream of his family dynasty – a face-to-face meeting with a sitting U.S. president.” [8] The not so subtle implication was that basking in the glorious presence of a U.S. leader is reward enough for anyone. This, CNN’s headline misinforms us, is Kim’s “ultimate aim.” That such wrong-headed concepts persist in the U.S. media and Washington think tanks is indicative of the narrow and willfully blind perspective that also infects the Trump administration.

After the Pyongyang summit, Moon Jae-in travelled to the United States to act as an intermediary in hopes of getting negotiations back on track. Combat in the Korean War came to a halt with the signing of an armistice agreement in 1953, and the original plan to follow that up with a peace treaty never materialized. The DPRK regards the long overdue signing of a peace treaty as one leg in a comprehensive security arrangement; perhaps not the most reliable component, in that a treaty would do nothing to deter the United States from launching an attack if it chose to do so. Nevertheless, the entire Washington establishment is adamantly opposed to a peace treaty, fearing that it might encourage the Korean people to demand the closure of U.S. bases and put at risk an important geostrategic position in the military encirclement of China. The fear is without basis, because nowhere is the presence of U.S. bases predicated on the wishes of the people in host nations. For that matter, Moon has offered repeated assurances that U.S. forces are in Korea to stay.

Kim suggested to Moon that if the United States were willing to adopt a corresponding measure, North Korea would shut down its Yongbyon nuclear facility. It was a significant proposal, which all too predictably met with a dismissive response from Washington. “Nothing can happen in the absence of denuclearization,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert declared. “Denuclearization has to come first.” [9]

Moon is keen on trying to change that narrative so that progress can resume. “It all comes down to whether the U.S. is ready to provide corresponding measures in a swift way,” he said in an interview on Fox News. “The U.S. promised to end hostile relations with North Korea to provide security guarantees and work toward new U.S.-North Korea relations – these actions need to be taken in parallel.” [10]

But when it came to specifics, Moon suggested essentially meaningless measures, such as a political declaration on the end of the Korean War rather than a peace treaty, the provision of humanitarian aid, and art performance exchanges. [11] “When we are talking about corresponding measures, it doesn’t necessarily mean relaxing economic sanctions,” Moon added. Worse yet, the White House issued a statement after the meeting, announcing that “the two leaders agreed on the importance of maintaining vigorous enforcement of existing sanctions.” [12]

The emptiness of Moon’s suggestions, coupled with the unfortunate call for maintaining strong sanctions on North Korea, could be interpreted as a tacit admission that nothing more can be expected from the Trump administration. Moon may be hoping that in the interests of peace, North Korea will settle for nearly worthless diplomatic trinkets. Or perhaps he is hoping that any concession from the United States, no matter how minor, would establish a starting point from which something more substantial could develop.

However, in discussions with Moon, Chairman Kim was quite clear about what he is looking for from the United States. Quite rationally, the corresponding measures he is seeking for nuclear disarmament are security guarantees and progress towards normalization of relations. [13]

Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly on September 29, DPRK Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho announced that his government’s commitment to the Singapore Declaration signed by Trump and Kim “is unwavering.” However, denuclearization “should also be realized along with building a peace regime under the principle of simultaneous actions, step-by-step, starting with what we can do and giving priority to trust-building.” Ri noted that the U.S. reliance on “coercive methods” is “lethal to trust-building.” [14]

It appears to have eluded general attention that even if the Trump administration agrees to reciprocate, there is a decided imbalance in actions. North Korea would abandon its nuclear deterrent, the only solid assurance it currently has against attack. For its part, the United States would not relinquish anything. Agreeing to an objective statement of fact, that combat in the Korean War ended decades ago, imposes no obligations on the United States. Aside from that, corresponding measures from the U.S. side would entail reducing and eventually eliminating the amount of punishment it inflicts on the North Korean people. The United States loses nothing in dropping sanctions and no longer pressuring other nations to isolate the DPRK. Meanwhile, the U.S. military would remain firmly ensconced on the Korean Peninsula in close proximity to China, and efforts would continue to integrate the South Korean military in U.S. strategic planning.

The Trump administration has yet to concede a need to offer North Korea anything in exchange for disarmament. What it has provided instead is to pile more sanctions on the beleaguered North Korean people. “Maximum pressure” must continue, we are repeatedly told, to encourage North Korea to negotiate. Somehow the point seems to be missed that North Korea is negotiating. Moreover, it is not the DPRK that has been recalcitrant in recent years. Throughout the eight years of the Obama administration and Trump’s first year, North Korea regularly reached out to the United States and asked for negotiations, only to be rebuffed each time. If the rationale for maintaining sanctions is to encourage cooperation and dialogue, then the more appropriate target for sanctions would appear to be the United States. It was only Kim Jong-un’s major unilateral concessions this year, backed by Moon Jae-in’s openness to dialogue, that brought about a diplomatic opening.

The Trump administration is ratcheting up pressure on North Korea. The U.S. Department of Treasury regularly adds new sanctions on North Korea, and early this month a U.S. official visited Singapore, Vietnam, and Thailand to emphasize the importance of the “DPRK pressure campaign” and “the need for full implementation” of UN sanctions. [15]

The Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign even extends to shutting down humanitarian projects. UN sanctions on the DPRK aim at imposing near-total economic isolation and dislocation, inevitably producing severe hardship for ordinary citizens. Humanitarian organizations provide the only external support to partially offset the deprivation imposed by sanctions.

Applications from several NGOs to visit North Korea have been repeatedly turned down by the U.S. State Department. “The denials are pretty much across the board,” revealed one source. “It really is unthinkable… and very, very disturbing.” Behind-the-scenes pressure from the U.S. government was a factor in the Global Fund deciding to shut down its healthcare programs in North Korea. A statement issued by Keith Luse, executive director of the National Committee on North Korea, observed, “It has become clear that the Trump administration regards the provision of humanitarian assistance to the North Korean people as a legitimate target for its maximum pressure campaign. Indeed, a line has been crossed.” [16]

South Korean Health Minister Park Neung-hoo told the National Assembly that the United States was preventing his nation from supplying medical aid to the DPRK. Although his ministry wished to provide medicine, “We are only at a preparatory stage due to various international restrictions.” Later in the session, concerned that his remarks may be construed as being critical of the U.S., he asked to have his remarks deleted from the record and pointed out that the U.S. “is blocking not just medical aid, but generally everything.” [17]

Opposition to Washington’s intransigence on sanctions is starting to stiffen. Chinese and Russian foreign ministers quarreled with Pompeo at the UN Security Council on September 27, as they advocated a gradual easing of sanctions while denuclearization proceeds. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov proposed that the UN permit exemptions on joint economic projects with the DPRK, to send a positive signal. “Negotiations are a two-way street,” he pointed out, adding that tightening sanctions while the situation is improving is illogical. [18] With veto authority in the UN Security Council, however, the U.S. is in a position to ignore Chinese and Russian pleas for reasonableness.

North Korean, Chinese, and Russian foreign ministry officials met in Moscow on October 9, to coordinate policy on denuclearization. The three sides issued a joint press release which stated that issues on the Korean Peninsula should be resolved in a peaceful and diplomatic manner. Denuclearization “should be of a step-by-step and synchronized character and accompanied by reciprocal steps of the involved states.” Along those lines, “the UN Security Council should start in due time revising the sanctions against North Korea,” the statement declared. [19]

In an apparent and welcome challenge to Washington’s maximum pressure campaign, South and North Korea agreed on October 15 to reconnect rail and road links between the two nations. Onsite rail surveys are scheduled to take place around the end of the month, and groundbreaking ceremonies are planned for about a month later. [20] The Trump administration wasted little time in making its displeasure known, and that same day a State Department spokesperson reiterated the position that “improvement in relations between North and South Korea cannot advance separately from resolving North Korea’s nuclear program.” Sanctions will remain in place until nuclear disarmament has been completed. “We expect all member states to fully implement UN sanctions.” [21]

Last August the commander of U.S. Forces Korea, acting in his role as head of the UN Command, blocked an inter-Korean joint rail inspection project. The State Department spokesperson’s message clearly indicated that Washington’s position had not shifted in the meantime, and the U.S. would not allow the two Koreas to carry out the agreement they had signed with each other.

Seeking to shore up what it perceived as wavering support for its policy of unremitting opposition to genuine diplomacy, and in the light of Moon’s visit to France to seek support for his more flexible approach, Washington announced that it would dispatch envoy Stephen Biegun to France, Belgium, and Russia to discuss relations with North Korea. [22]

The October 15 inter-Korean agreement may prove to be a test case for South Korea. Is it willing to behave as a sovereign nation and act in its interests, or will it cave in once again to Washington’s demands? The enormous economic power of the United States, however, gives it the ability to impose harsh discipline if a small nation such as South Korea fails to take orders.

Following Mike Pompeo’s recent trip to Pyongyang, diplomacy of a sort has returned to the agenda, and a summit between Kim and Trump is anticipated to occur by the end of the year. The essential sticking point remains unresolved, however. Washington perceives talks as a surrender mechanism, whereas the DPRK is looking for normal diplomatic give-and-take. There is no bridging the two concepts. The conventional view of diplomacy in Washington is that cooperation is a sign of weakness, and results can be produced through punishment alone. It is to be hoped that in time the Trump administration will come to recognize the futility of that approach and heed the advice of its international partners and seize the diplomatic opening offered by the two Koreas. The United States has nothing to lose from engaging in genuine diplomacy, and the peoples of Northeast Asia much to gain.

[1] “[Full Text] Pyongyang Declaration,” Korea Times, September 19, 2018.

[2] “[Full Text] Pyongyang Declaration,” Korea Times, September 19, 2018.

[3] Yoo Kang-moon and Kim Ji-eun, “S. Korean Foreign Minister Admits Pompeo Expressed Displeasure with Inter-Korean Military Agreement,” Hankyoreh, October 11, 2018.

“South Korea Says Pompeo Complained About Inter-Korean Military Pact,” Reuters, October 10, 2018.

Oh Young-jin, “Did Pompeo Curse Minister Kang?” Korea Times, October 11, 2018.

Kim Jin-myung, “Pompeo ‘Protested Against Seoul’s Agreements with N.Korea’,” Chosun Ilbo, October 11, 2018.

[4] “U.S. Calls on S. Korean Banks to Comply with Sanctions on N. Korea, Yonhap, October 12, 2018.

“US Urges S.Korean Banks to Obey Sanctions on N. Korea,” Menafn, October 13, 2018.

“US Treasury Asks S. Korean Banks to Follow UN Sanctions Just After Pyongyang Summit,” Hankyoreh, October 13, 2018.

“Unusual Warning,” Korea Herald, October 14, 2018.

[5] Lee Chi-dong, “Minister: S. Korea Mulls Lifting Sanctions on N. Korea,” Yonhap, October 10, 2018.

[6] “Unification Minister Says Seoul Not Considering Lifting  N. Korea Sanctions,” Yonhap, October 11, 2018.

[7] “Moon Says Two Koreas Will Reach Complete Disarmament,” Yonhap, October 11, 2018.

[8] Ben Westcott, “Why Meeting a US President is the Ultimate Aim of the Kim Family,” CNN, June 7, 2018.

[9] “U.S. Dismisses N. Korea’s Conditional Offer to Dismantle Nuclear Site,” Yonhap, September 21, 2018.

[10] Kim Bo-eun, “Korean War May be Declared Over This Year,” Korea Times, September 26, 2018.

[11] Kang Jin-kyu, “Moon Says U.S. Has ‘Nothing to Lose’ from Talks,” JoongAng Ilbo, September 26, 2018.

[12] “Readout of President Donald J. Trump’s Meeting with President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea,” Whitehouse.gov, September 24, 2018.

[13] “Moon, Trump to Coordinate 2nd U.S.-N.K. Summit: White House,” Yonhap, September 25, 2018.

[14] “N. Korea Says ‘No Way’ It Will Denuclearize Without Trust in U.S.,” Yonhap, September 30, 2018.

[15] Hamish Macdonald, “U.S. Official to Discuss Continued Pressure on North Korea in Southeast Asia,” NK News, October 9, 2018.

Media Note, “Assistant Secretary Christopher A. Ford Travels to Singapore, Vietnam, and Thailand,” U.S. Department of State, October 8, 2018.

[16] Keith Luse, “”Maximum Pressure Could End U.S. Humanitarian Assistance to North Koreans,” The National Committee on North Korea, October 11, 2018.

Chad O’Carroll, “U.S. NGOs Being Blocked from Humanitarian Work in N. Korea, Sources Say,” NK News, Ocvtober 12, 2018.

[17] Kim So-hyun, “US Blocking Medical Aid to North Korea: Health Minister,” Korea Herald, October 12, 2018.

[18] Jessica Donati, “U.S., Russia Clash at U.N. as Lavrov Calls for Easing of North Korea Sanctions,” Wall Street Journal, September 27, 2018.

“Moscow Urges Lifting of Unilateral Sanctions Against North Korea,” September 27, 2018.

“China and Russia Call for Easing of North Korea Sanctions,” Channel News Asia, September 27, 2018.

[19] “Russia, China, North Korea Call for Review of Sanctions Against Pyongyang,” TASS, October 10, 2018.

“Joint Press Release of DPRK-Russia-China Negotiations Made Public,” KCNA, October 11, 2018.

[20] Hyonhee Shin, “North, South Korea Agree to Reconnect Roads, Rail Amid U.S. Concern Over Easing Sanctions,” Reuters, October 15, 2018.

Jung Min-kyung, “Koreas Agree to Start Railway, Road Work by Dec.,” Korea Herald, October 15, 2018.

“Koreas to Break Ground for Railway, Road Connection Late Nov. or Early Dec.,” Yonhap, October 15, 2018.

[21] “U.S. Calls for Sanctions Implementation Following Inter-Korean Agreement,” Yonhap, October 16, 2018.

[22] Matthew Pennington, “US Envoy for North Korea to Hold Talks in Russia, France, Belgium,” Associated Press, October 15, 2018.

October 16, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , | Leave a comment

New BBC documentary ‘Dangerous Dynasty’ ignores the West’s role in destabilizing Syria

By Neil Clark | RT | October 16, 2018

The new BBC2 documentary, ‘A Dangerous Dynasty: House of Assad’, should be contrasted with the 2010 BBC4 series ‘Syrian School’, which eschewed neocon propaganda and allowed us to make our own minds up about Baathist Syria.

Whatever happened to objective film making? Why does everyone today feel that the film or program maker must take sides and not just show us things as they are?

These thoughts were uppermost in my mind when watching the first episode of the 72 Films production, ‘A Dangerous Dynasty’ last week.

You could say the title was a bit of a giveaway. If you were expecting to see a balanced, intellectual analysis of Baathist rule in Syria, providing historical perspective, and putting the ‘House of Assad’ in some kind of regional context, you’d have been very disappointed.

We weren’t even two minutes in before a voice-over declared: “Many have wondered how this former eye doctor [Bashar Assad] and his British-born wife ended up running a regime of committing war crimes, of gassing their own people… Understand their saga [the Assads] and you will understand how their country now lies in ruins.”

Really? The ‘House of Assad’ had ruled Syria for over 40 years without the country being in ruins.

The descent into the abyss began in 2011. We can argue till the cows come home about ‘who fired first’, as anti-government protests swept the country, but even if we do blame the Syrian authorities for initiating the violence seven years ago, there’s no getting away from the fact that the conflict which developed was deliberately stoked by powers hostile to the Syrian Arab Republic.

These powers were desirous of either regime-change or keeping Syria permanently weak and divided for geo-strategic reasons that had absolutely nothing to do with concern for human rights.

To blame all the bloodshed on the ‘House of Assad’, as ‘A Dangerous Dynasty’ does, is ahistorical nonsense and ignores the pernicious role that the US, France, the UK, and their regional allies have played in destabilizing Syria and keeping the fires of war burning.

“We have to ask ourselves how does this mild-mannered eye doctor end up killing hundreds of thousands of people,” one commentator says in ‘A Dangerous Dynasty’, as if Bashar, who had originally planned to devote his life to the noble cause of medicine,  just got up one morning and said “Right, now I’m going to kill hundreds of thousands of people.”

The reality is that the Syrian president was faced with a foreign-backed attempt to destroy his country. He reacted with great force, but just look at how neighboring Israel responds when rockets are fired in from Gaza, or how the US responded after 9-11. Imagine how the White House would react if foreign-backed jihadists took control of parts of the US and beheaded captured US soldiers. Do we think the US president would have said to the ‘rebels’, “Hi guys! Let’s sit round the camp fire together and sing Kumbaya”?

The program had unpleasant undertones of Arabophobia, promoting the narrative that Arabs, and in particular Arab ‘dictators’ who don’t show sufficient subservience to Western elites, cannot be trusted.

It reminded me of an interview with Syria’s deputy ambassador to the UN and a US neocon on BBC’s Newsnight, in the lead-up to the Iraq War, which I wrote about for the Guardian.

While the neocon was treated with great deference, the Syrian representative was treated with withering contempt and “Why should we believe YOU?” condescension. ‘A Dangerous Dynasty’ had much the same tone. Sinister music was played whenever a family photograph of the Assads was shown to make it clear we understood that these were ‘the baddies’.

We were told that Bashar’s mother was “tough and manipulative.” His father Hafez “has extraordinary eyes that seem to look into your soul.” Assad Sr. was “an old fashioned dictator.” Female soldiers had to bite off the heads of snakes and male ones kill puppies to show their obedience. In one segment, we were told that Hafez al-Assad was like a crafty hamburger seller from the bazaar who removes the meat after you’ve paid your money. “He didn’t trust anybody… he lives in a world of conspiracy and paranoia. His whole worldview was conspiratorial,” an American envoy complained.

But didn’t Hafez had good reason not to trust anyone – least of all American governments? Just look at what the US did to Iraq and Libya. Gorbachev trusted the Americans and believed promises that there would be no NATO Drang nach Osten following the disbanding of the Warsaw Pact. Today, NATO troops are on Russia’s borders.

Arabophobia can also be seen in the surprise expressed that Bashar Assad, is “civilized” and “well-mannered” in his personal interactions. As if Arabs, can’t do ‘civilized’ and ‘well-mannered’.

Ironically, probably the most nuanced view in the whole program came from Sir John Sawers, the former head of MI6, who was a British diplomat in Syria in the 1980s.

“It was a socialist military dictatorship, but actually there was a live-and-let-live approach. It was a tightly controlled society but one where Western diplomats could move around fairly freely. If you didn’t bother the Syrian regime they weren’t going to bother you,” Sawer said.

No one disputes that Hafez al-Assad was a ruthless leader, but while the words ‘regime’ and ‘dictator’ were repeated ad nauseam, there was nothing in the program about the advances that Syria made under Assad and his son in the years 1970-2011. The way Christians and other religious minorities were protected by the secular government was ignored. Ditto Syria’s very generous support for the dispossessed and stateless Palestinians, which made them a target.

The book ‘Parting Shots’, published by the BBC, includes a letter written by Sir James Craig, British Ambassador to Syria in 1979, to UK Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington. Craig admits he doesn’t like the Baathists. But he also says “all I have said against them could be said against a hundred other government is this naughty world.” He then goes on: “And there is this, above all, that can be said for them: ever since they came to power, and long before, they have devoted a preponderant part of their energy to the cause of the Palestinians, to which they are called not only by self-interest but by the ties of kinship, neighbourliness and compassion.” Sir James said he found “a distinct spark of nobility” in their “obstinacy” on this issue.

If we go back eight years, a much fairer picture of Syria was shown on the BBC in ‘Syrian School’.

This was arguably one of the best documentary series ever shown on British television. It didn’t preach and it didn’t tell us what to think. It simply showed us what everyday life was like in Syria – the good and the bad.

Max Baring, who worked as director-cameraman on the program said: “Syria is a country where, from poetry to politics, you can have an intellectual debate. You can re-imagine the world there in a way that we seem to have lost in the West, where even the credit crunch hasn’t dented the orthodoxy of Liberal Capitalism, where ‘The X-Factor’ seems now to have become the cultural pinnacle.”

You don’t have to be a diehard supporter of ‘House of Assad’ to acknowledge that life was (and is)  better under the ‘dynasty’ than under the medieval head-choppers of ISIS and other associated fundamentalist ‘rebels’, who the enemies of Baathist Syria seemed quite happy to support – either directly or indirectly. As my fellow Op-ed columnist John Wight correctly pointed out last week, “Not one Western journalist denouncing the Syrian government would have dared to set foot within so much of an inch of militant-held territory, knowing that if they did they would be peremptorily abducted, tortured and slaughtered.”

Shamefully, it’s “the Syrian regime” that ‘Dangerous Dynasty’ blames for the rise of hardcore jihadist terrorism. The neo-con endless war lobby, who set the Middle East on fire, gets a free pass.

The second episode of the hatchet job will be shown this Tuesday. I think I’ll take a bath (no pun intended), instead. Looking further ahead, I’ve an idea (which I’ll give them for just £10K), for the program makers for their next series. How about doing one about another father and son, who both launch wars in successive decades against the same country? The father, who was a millionaire, was director of his country’s intelligence services. The son sold his illegal war on a pack of false claims about a country possessing weapons it didn’t have, with the invasion leading to a million deaths and a refugee crisis of Biblical proportions.

‘Junior’ also invaded another country where conflict is still raging today, and under the pretext of fighting a ‘War on Terror’ introduced a surveillance state and established a detention camp where people were held indefinitely without trial. The title of the series: ‘Dangerous Dynasty: The House of Bush’.

Over to you, 72 Films.

October 16, 2018 Posted by | Film Review, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

The Dark Story Behind Global Warming aka Climate Change

By F. William Engdahl – New Eastern Outlook – 16.10.2018

The recent UN global warming conference under auspices of the deceptively-named International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded its meeting in South Korea discussing how to drastically limit global temperature rise. Mainstream media is predictably retailing various panic scenarios “predicting” catastrophic climate change because of man-made emissions of Greenhouse Gases, especially CO2, if drastic changes in our lifestyle are not urgently undertaken. There is only one thing wrong with all that. It’s based on fake science and corrupted climate modelers who have reaped by now [many] billions in government research grants to buttress the arguments for radical change in our standard of living. We might casually ask “What’s the point?” The answer is not positive.

The South Korea meeting of the UN IPCC discussed measures needed, according to their computer models, to limit global temperature rise to below  1.5 Centigrade above levels of the pre-industrial era. One of the panel members and authors of the latest IPCC Special Report on Global Warming, Drew Shindell, at Duke University told the press that to meet the arbitrary 1.5 degree target will require world CO2 emissions to drop by a staggering 40% in the next 12 years. The IPCC calls for a draconian “zero net emissions” of CO2 by 2050. That would mean complete ban on gas or diesel engines for cars and trucks, no coal power plants, transformation of the world agriculture to burning food as biofuels. Shindell modestly put it, “These are huge, huge shifts.”

The new IPCC report, SR15, declares that global warming of 1.5°C will “probably“ bring species extinction, weather extremes and risks to food supply, health and economic growth. To avoid this the IPCC estimates required energy investment alone will be $2.4 trillion per year. Could this explain the interest of major global banks, especially in the City of London in pushing the Global Warming card?

This scenario assumes an even more incredible dimension as it is generated by fake science and doctored data by a tight-knit group of climate scientists internationally that have so polarized scientific discourse that they label fellow scientists who try to argue as not mere global warming skeptics, but rather as “Climate Change deniers.” What does that bit of neuro-linguistic programming suggest? Holocaust deniers? Talk about how to kill legitimate scientific debate, the essence of true science. Recently the head of the UN IPCC proclaimed, “The debate over the science of climate change is well and truly over.”

What the UN panel chose to ignore was the fact the debate was anything but “over.” The Global Warming Petition Project, signed by over 31,000 American scientists states, “There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.”

‘Chicken Little’

Most interesting, about the dire warnings of global catastrophe if dramatic changes to our living standards are not undertaken urgently, is that the dire warnings are always attempts to frighten based on future prediction. When the “tipping point” of so-called irreversibility is passed with no evident catastrophe, they invent a new future point.

In 1982 Mostafa Tolba, executive director of the UN Environment Program (UNEP), warned the “world faces an ecological disaster as final as nuclear war within a couple of decades unless governments act now.” He predicted lack of action would bring “by the turn of the century, an environmental catastrophe which will witness devastation as complete, as irreversible as any nuclear holocaust.”In 1989 Noel Brown, of the UN Environmental Program (UNEP), said entire nations could be wiped off the face of the earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by the year 2000. James Hansen, a key figure in the doomsday scenarios declared at that time that 350 ppm of CO2 was the upper limit, “to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted.” Rajendra Pachauri, then the chief of the UN IPCC, declared that 2012 was the climate deadline by which it was imperative to act: “If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late.” Today the measured level is 414.

As UK scientist Philip Stott notes, “In essence, the Earth has been given a 10-year survival warning regularly for the last fifty or so years. …Our post-modern period of climate change angst can probably be traced back to the late-1960s… By 1973, and the ‘global cooling’ scare, it was in full swing, with predictions of the imminent collapse of the world within ten to twenty years…Environmentalists were warning that, by the year 2000, the population of the US would have fallen to only 22 million. In 1987, the scare abruptly changed to ‘global warming’, and the IPCC (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) was established (1988)…”

Flawed Data

A central flaw to the computer models cited by the IPCC is the fact that they are purely theoretical models and not real. The hypothesis depends entirely on computer models generating scenarios of the future, with no empirical records that can verify either these models or their flawed prediction. As one scientific study concluded, “The computer climate models upon which ‘human-caused global warming’ is  based have  substantial  uncertainties  and  are  markedly unreliable. This is not surprising, since the climate is a coupled, non-linear dynamical system. It is very complex.” Coupled refers to the phenomenon that the oceans cause changes in the atmosphere and the atmosphere in turn affects the oceans. Both are complexly related to solar cycles. No single model predicting global warming or 2030 “tipping points” is able or even tries to integrate the most profound influence on Earth climate and weather, the activity of the sun and solar eruption cycles which determine ocean currents, jet stream activity, El ninos and our daily weather.

An Australian IT expert and independent researcher, John McLean, recently did a detailed analysis of the IPCC climate report. He notes that HadCRUT4 is the primary dataset used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to make its dramatic claims about “man-made global warming”, to justify its demands for trillions of dollars to be spent on “combating climate change.” But McLean points to egregious errors in the HadCRUT4 used by IPCC. He notes, “It’s very careless and amateur. About the standard of a first-year university student.” Among the errors, he cites places where temperature “averages were calculated from next to no information. For two years, the temperatures over land in the Southern Hemisphere were estimated from just one site in Indonesia.” In another place he found that for the Caribbean island, St Kitts temperature was recorded at 0 degrees C for a whole month, on two occasions. TheHadCRUT4 dataset is a joint production of the UK Met Office’s Hadley Centre and the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia. This was the group at East Anglia that was exposed several years ago for the notorious Climategate scandals of faking data and deleting embarrassing emails to hide it. Mainstream media promptly buried the story, turning attention instead on “who illegally hacked East Anglia emails.”

Astonishing enough when we do a little basic research, we find that the IPCC never carried out a true scientific inquiry into the possible cases of change in Earth climate. Man made sources of change were arbitrarily asserted, and the game was on.

Malthusian Maurice Strong

Few are aware however of the political and even geopolitical origins of Global Warming theories. How did this come about? So-called Climate Change, aka Global Warming, is a neo-malthusian deindustrialization agenda originally developed by circles around the Rockefeller family in the early 1970’s to prevent the rise of independent industrial rivals, much as Trump’s trade wars today. In my book, Myths, Lies and Oil Wars, I detail how the highly influential Rockefeller group also backed creation of the Club of Rome, Aspen Institute, Worldwatch Institute and MIT Limits to Growth report. A key early organizer of Rockefeller’s ‘zero growth’ agenda in the early 1970s was David Rockefeller’s longtime friend, a Canadian oilman named Maurice Strong. Strong was one of the early propagators of the scientifically unfounded theory that man-made emissions from transportation vehicles, coal plants and agriculture caused a dramatic and accelerating global temperature rise which threatens civilization, so-called Global Warming.

As chairman of the 1972 Earth Day UN Stockholm Conference, Strong promoted an agenda of population reduction and lowering of living standards around the world to “save the environment.” Some years later the same Strong restated his radical ecologist stance: “Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?” Co-founder of the Rockefeller-tied Club of Rome, Dr Alexander King admitted the fraud in his book, The First Global Revolution. He stated, “In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill… All these dangers are caused by human intervention… The real enemy, then, is humanity itself.”

Please reread that, and let it sink in. Humanity, and not the 147 global banks and multi-nationals who de facto determine today’s environment, bear the responsibility.

Following the Earth Summit, Strong was named Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, and Chief Policy Advisor to Kofi Annan. He was the key architect of the 1997-2005 Kyoto Protocol that declared man made Global Warming, according to “consensus,” was real and that it was “extremely likely” that man-made CO2 emissions have predominantly caused it. In 1988 Strong was key in creation of the UN IPCC and later the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change at the Rio Earth Summit which he chaired, and which approved his globalist UN Agenda 21.

The UN IPCC and its Global Warming agenda is a political and not a scientific project. Their latest report is, like the previous ones, based on fake science and outright fraud. MIT Professor Richard S Lindzen in a recent speech criticized politicians and activists who claim “the science is settled,” and demand “unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.” He noted that it was totally implausible for such a complex “multifactor system” as the climate to be summarized by just one variable, global mean temperature change, and primarily controlled by just a 1-2 per cent variance in the energy budget due to CO2. Lindzen described how “an implausible conjecture backed by false evidence, repeated incessantly, has become ‘knowledge,’ used to promote the overturn of industrial civilization.” Our world indeed needs a “staggering transformation,” but one that promotes health and stability of the human species instead.

October 16, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science | | 2 Comments

African Penguin Decline – BBC Fake News

By Paul Homewood | Not A Lot Of People Know That | October 16, 2018

As we found out last week, the directive has come down from on high at the BBC to ramp up climate alarm at every opportunity they get.

The memo has evidently been received in the BBC newsroom, who broadcast this flagrantly dishonest piece yesterday about African penguins on Outside Source (at about 51 minutes in):

image

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0bnl4gy/outside-source-15102018

Unfortunately the programme expires on iPlayer tonight, but this is the full transcript:

 Presenter:

The next report is about the African penguin population and how it’s rapidly declining. Conservationists are saying their habitat is being hit by rising tides caused by climate change.

And it’s interesting that since that report by the UN last week on climate change, so many different organisations have been coming forward to emphasise the importance it has on their work.

Reporter Eliza Philippides reporting from S Africa:

Boulders Beach, home to one of the 28 African penguin habitats. These birds can only be found in S Africa and Namibia. But their survival is under threat, and one of the reasons is there is not enough fish in the sea.

Faroeshka Rodgers, Section Ranger of Simon’s Town:

The African penguin have to swim far distances to find food, but in the past that was not the case. We suspect this could be from commercial trawling or over exploitation of the food sources of the African penguin.

Eliza Philippides

In just three years the number of breeding pairs has dropped by a fifth. Here at Boulders Beach the rangers are encouraging the penguins to use artificial nest boxes, hoping to increase their chances of breeding successfully.

This colony is the only place in the world where people can swim freely with these endangered birds. As a result they get millions of visitors every year.

Stabilising the population and increasing penguin numbers is a priority here. The aim? That children can see the African penguin in the wild.

And, apart from a brief interview with a tourist, who could not believe how close she got to the critters, that was it!

There was not a single mention of climate change or sea levels or tides from either the rangers themselves, who are the experts, or from the BBC’s reporter, Philippides.

So why did the presenter even mention it at the start, never mind fail to even acknowledge the very real and obvious problem  of over fishing?

Surprisingly nobody mentioned either the very real threat to the penguins well being caused by “millions of tourists getting close up”. But apparently “letting children see them” is more important.

As for sea levels at Simon’s Town, they have been rising gradually at 2.14mm/year, and have actually fallen during the last decade:

https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/sltrends_station.shtml?id=430-061

Simon’s Bay has wide, sandy beaches, with plenty of rocky outcrops. The idea that an increase in sea level of less than an inch a decade could make the slightest difference to the penguins’ nesting sites or general welfare belongs on Jackanory, not a supposedly serious news programme.

Simon’s Bay

The African penguin population has been declining sharply since the early 1900s,

and the reasons are well understood and have nothing to do with climate change, as the Organization for the Conservation of Penguins explains:

Breeding no longer occurs at 10 localities where it formerly occurred or has been suspected to occur. The present population is probably less than 10% of that in 1900, when there was estimated to be about 1.5 million birds on Dassen Island alone. By 1956 the population had fallen to roughly half that in 1900, and had halved again by the late 1970s, when there was an estimated 220,000 adult birds. By the late 1980s the number had dropped to about 194,000 and in the early 1990s there was an estimated 179,000 adult birds.

Given an annual rate of decline of about 2% per year, there is considerable concern about the long-term viability of African Penguins in the wild. By the late 1990s the population had recovered slightly, and in 1999 there was an estimated 224,000 individuals. The African Penguin is now classified as Endangered by the IUCN, and is listed in Appendix II of CITES and the Bonn Convention for the conservation of migratory species.

The reasons for the significant decline in the African Penguin populations are well known. Initially, the decline was due mostly to the exploitation of penguin eggs for food, and habitat alteration and disturbance associated with guano collection at breeding colonies. These factors have now largely ceased, and the major current threats include competition with commercial fisheries for pelagic fish prey, and oil pollution. Other threats include competition with Cape Fur Seals for space at breeding colonies and for food resources, as well as predation by seals on penguins. Feral cats are present and pose a problem at a few of the colonies. African Penguins also face predation of eggs and chicks by avian predators such as Kelp Gulls and Sacred Ibises, while natural terrestrial predators, such as mongoose, genets and leopard are present at the mainland colonies.

It is obvious that BBC presenters have been told to get a plug in for climate change, whenever news items like these come along, regardless of how tenuous or outright incorrect the link may be.

October 16, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science | | 1 Comment

First Le Pen, now Melenchon? Another Macron critic has headquarters raided

RT | October 16, 2018

Former French presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon’s home has been raided by police, as part of an investigation into alleged misuse of EU funds that also targeted political firebrand and Macron critic Marine Le Pen.

The leader of France’s left-wing La France Insoumise (France Unbowed) livestreamed the unannounced intrusion on Facebook, vowing to exact revenge on France’s Minister of Justice Nicole Belloubet for the raid, which targeted his home as well as his party’s headquarters.

“Nicole Belloubet, are you proud of what you are doing? Have you forgotten everything: who are you, who I am? So you have no dignity? All shots are allowed?” he said during the livestream.

“You do not know what you’re up against – a political force, not an isolated person. We will make you pay politically.”

Melenchon then urged his supporters to meet at the head office of France Unbowed in Paris for an impromptu rally. Police reportedly seized phones and computers from the headquarters as part of their investigation.

The searches are believed to be part of an ongoing probe into fraudulent claims to the EU to cover for fictitious staff members. Melenchon is also under scrutiny for alleged financial irregularities during his 2017 presidential campaign.

Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s right-wing National Rally, was targeted by a similar EU funds probe last year. Le Pen dismissed the allegations made against her as political persecution.

A raid on National Rally’s headquarters in February 2017, which came amid the French presidential election, was slammed by the party as a “media operation whose sole purpose is to try to disrupt the smooth running of the [Le Pen’s] presidential election campaign.”

Both Melenchon and Le Pen have been fierce critics of French President Emmanuel Macron, who triumphed over the two politicians in last year’s presidential election.

In September, Melenchon led a rally against Macron’s newly-signed labor reforms, describing the demonstration as necessary to prevent a “social coup d’etat” aimed at French workers.

October 16, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties | | Leave a comment

CHEMICAL WEAPONS IN SYRIA? BBC PANORAMA RELIES ON QUESTIONABLE RESEARCH

Global Network for Syria | October 16, 2018

A joint investigation by BBC Panorama and BBC Arabic claimed to show how chemical weapons have been used by the Syrian Government as part of a deliberate military strategy. Yet there are serious concerns over the investigation’s reliance on ‘broadly impartial’ sources — who are not named — and consequently the reliability of the report’s findings.

The Panorama programme is called ‘Syria’s Chemical War’ and was first broadcast on Monday 15 October on BBC One at 20:30.

Yesterday’s BBC Panorama programme was notable for its omissions. It was not clear, for example, whether evidence backing the claims of 106 uses of chemical weapons came from Syrian rebel sources. Given that sources are not named, the BBC may be relying on evidence from groups that are widely regarded as favourable to the opposition, such as the White Helmets, the Syrian American Medical Society, or the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organisations.

The investigation ignored the interim findings of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on the Douma incident, which contradict the BBC’s conclusions. The OPCW found no evidence of the use of prohibited weapons in Douma and did not rule out that chlorine cylinders found at the site may have been planted.

The programme showed former OPCW staff saying that not all of Asad’s stocks destroyed under OPCW supervision were necessarily accounted for. It neglected to point out, however, that the OPCW reported in 2014 that it had been unable to visit two sites where chemical weapons were stored and that both these sites were in rebel-held territory deemed unsafe for inspectors to visit.

The programme also claimed to detect a pattern of Asad using chemical weapons in the final stages of sieges. But the report did not address questions raised by numerous military experts who ask why Syrian Government Forces, which were already winning the war, would deploy chemical weapons of limited usefulness, risking severe reprisals by the US-led Coalition.

There are further concerns regarding the lack of reference to Islamist fighters, who have used chlorine canisters as part of their “resistance”, and who have butchered not just Christians and Alawites but also hundreds of the civilians living under their control, as documented by the UN.

The war in Syria is complex, with many different layers to the conflict. It is crucial that any future investigation includes historical and geopolitical context, objective analysis, transparency about sources, and, at the very least, an acknowledgement that there are different points of view.

Peter Ford, former British Ambassador to Syria
Dr Tim Anderson, University of Sydney
Lord Carey of Clifton
Baroness Cox
Lord Gordon of Strathblane
Dr Michael Langrish, former Bishop of Exeter
Lord Stoddart of Swindon

Contact: carolinecox1@outlook.com

October 16, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 3 Comments

Self-Censorship: Where The Real Damage Is Being Done

By Caitlyn Johnstone | Medium | October 15, 2018

I was going to write another article today about a different topic, but I backed down because I didn’t think I could deliver the kind of fiery, forceful, unmitigated argument it would need to be without risking getting banned from social media and blogging platforms.

The article I was planning on writing, which you’ll just have to imagine now, would have been titled “ ‘Assange Can Leave Whenever He Wants!’ No, Idiot, He Can’t.” The feature image was going to be a screen shot of a blue-checkmarked empire loyalist named Greg Olear tweeting the infuriatingly dopey argument that Assange is free to just waltz out the embassy doors whenever he wants, so therefore he isn’t actually being imprisoned by an Orwellian power establishment for publishing authentic documents about powerful people. Never mind the fact that you can say exactly the same thing about literally anyone under political asylum; they are all free to leave the political asylum they’ve been granted at any time, and pointing this out is just describing the thing that political asylum is. Never mind the fact that a UN panel ruled that Assange is being arbitrarily detained by the threat of imprisonment. Never mind that the same US government which tortured Chelsea Manning is currently openly pursuing Assange’s arrest because of his publications, making the assertion that he’s “free to leave” the same as saying he’s “free” to jump off a cliff. People don’t want to believe that their government imprisons journalists, so whenever Assange is in the news you see this argument making the rounds.

It would have been a firecracker of an article, but when it came time to write it, I backed down. I’d generally rather scrap an article than write something tepid and boring that won’t make any impact, so the risk of losing access to my platforms outweighed my desire to write what I’d planned on writing.

I’ve been self-censoring more and more lately, especially since the latest round of coordinated cross-platform silencing of multiple alternative media outlets the other day. Back in August I had my Twitter account temporarily deleted when I said the world will be better off without John McCain and a bunch of #Resistance accounts mass reported me; Twitter cited “abusive behavior” as its justification. The only reason my account was restored was because there was a large objection from many high-profile journalists and activists who understand the dangers of internet censorship, and I’m not willing to gamble that I’d get that lucky should something similar happen again. Being able to disrupt establishment narratives on a high-traffic website like Twitter outweighs the benefits of speaking in an unmitigated way.

And that ultimately is precisely the point. If the social engineers can make an example of a few dissident voices in the public eye, everyone else will rein in their own speech and behavior to avoid the same fate. The overall effect of this phenomenon is actually far more effective in suppressing dissident speech than the overt censorship is by itself, because self-censorship actually silences exponentially more anti-establishment opinions. For every one voice you crack down on overtly, a thousand more silence themselves out of self-preservation, not saying things they would otherwise say and not doing things they would otherwise do.

Meanwhile empire loyalists know that they can consistently get away with saying anything they want with total impunity. The other day for example I criticized the fawning media accolades that professional Atlantic Council propagandist Eliot Higgins has been receiving lately, and he responded by calling me “Grotbags”, an obese witch character from a nineties children’s television show. The joke being, you see, that I am overweight, and I am also a woman, so I am therefore similar to the character Grotbags. Ha ha ha. Eliot has been repeating this hilarious joke for months with zero consequences. He also made headlines back in June with his repeated public invitation for people who disagree with him on Twitter to suck his balls, also with zero consequences.

After my August Twitter suspension a #Resistance account publicly doxxed me, posting my home address, phone number and other information. I didn’t make a public ordeal out of it at the time because I obviously didn’t want to draw attention to it, but I did report it because I wanted it deleted. I was not expecting Twitter Support to reject my report, especially after they had me jump through a bunch of hoops to prove that I did in fact live where the doxxer was saying I lived, but they did.

“We understand that you might come across content on Twitter that you dislike or find offensive,” Twitter wrote back. “However, after investigating the reported content we found it was not in violation of Twitter’s private information policy. As a result, it won’t be removed at this time.”

I see this routinely across all platforms; some accounts act without any fear of consequences, others seem primed for hair-trigger suspension. The bias is distinctly slanted in the favor of those who support CIA/CNN narratives and attack anyone who speaks out of alignment with the agendas of the US-centralized empire.

So while we are mitigating our speech more and more, the Eliot Higginses of the new media environment consistently get away with all manner of abusive behavior without any repercussions. We’re fighting a media war in which we are not just outnumbered and outgunned, but are increasingly forced to fight with one arm tied behind our backs. The only thing we have going for us at this point is that authenticity is attractive and oligarchic funding can’t buy creativity or inspiration.

So anyway, there’s my confession that I have been caving to self-censorship to avoid being de-platformed. Rather than denying it, I think it’s best that we all admit to it when we do it and call it what it is, because it’s an unseen part of the people’s media rebellion that is generally overlooked and under-appreciated. I haven’t really figured out what to do about it beyond that, but in my experience drawing the light of attention to these things is always a good idea.

October 16, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | 3 Comments

Why Liberal Jews in Israel and the US have made Lara Alqasem a Cause Celebre

By Jonathan Cook | The National | October 15, 2018

An American student of Palestinian descent detained in Israel’s airport for nearly a fortnight has become an unexpected cause celebre. Lara Alqasem was refused entry under legislation passed last year against boycott activists, and Israeli courts are now deciding whether allowing her to study human rights at an Israeli university threatens public order.

Usually those held at the border are swiftly deported, but Ms Alqasem appealed against the decision, becoming in the process an improbable “prisoner of conscience” for the boycott cause.

The Israeli government, led by strategic affairs minister Gilad Erdan, claims that the 22-year-old is a leader of the growing international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. Activists like Ms Alqasem, he argues, demonise Israel.

Two lower courts have already ruled against the student. Israel’s supreme court has postponed her deportation until Wednesday while it reconsiders the evidence. But refusing to go quietly, Ms Alqasem is attracting increasing international attention to her plight.

So far Israeli officials have shown only that Ms Alqasem once belonged to a small Palestinian solidarity group at a Florida university that backed boycotting a hummus company over its donations to the Israeli army.

Under pressure, Ms Alqasem has disavowed a boycott of Israel, citing as proof her decision to enroll in a masters programme in Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Given the blanket hostility in Israel to the boycott movement, Ms Alqasem has found a surprisingly wide array of allies in her legal struggle.

Members of the small Zionist-left Meretz party visited her and demanded she be allowed to attend the course, which began on Sunday.

Ami Ayalon, a retired head of the Shin Bet, the secret police that oversees security checks at Israel’s borders, warned that the agency was now “a problem for democracy” in repeatedly denying foreigners entry.

Vice-chancellors of eight Israeli universities sent a letter of protest to the government and 500 academics at Hebrew University submitted a petition decrying Ms Alqasem’s incarceration.

The solidarity has been unprecedented – and perplexing.

Israeli officials control entry not only to Israel but also to the occupied Palestinian territories. For decades, foreigners with Arab-sounding names – like Ms Alqasem – have been routinely harassed or turned back at the borders, with barely a peep from most on the Israeli left.

And over the same period, Israel has stripped many thousands of Palestinians from the occupied territories of the right to return to their homeland after living abroad. These abuses, too, have rarely troubled consciences in Israel.

So what makes Ms Alqasem’s case different? The answer confers little credit on liberal Israelis.

Israel’s universities are worried that the academic boycott has highlighted their long-term complicity in Israel’s occupation and is gradually eroding their international standing. Joint research projects with foreign universities are in jeopardy, as is their lucrative income from programmes they wish to expand for overseas students.

The universities want to co-opt Ms Alqasem as a poster girl for academic freedom in Israel.

They hope she will provide cover for their guilty secret: that they have stood by, or actively assisted, as Israel made a mockery of academic freedom for Palestinians under occupation. Research shows that Israel’s universities have strong ties to the nation’s military, which regularly attacks Palestinian places of learning and limits Palestinians’ freedom to study by enforcing strict movement restrictions.

Jewish liberals in Israel and the US, meanwhile, are concerned at the entrenchment of the Israeli far-right’s rule. In recent weeks, a wave of Israeli and American Jewish activists have been detained and questioned at the border over their politics.

Those liberals desperately need to draw a red line, halting the expansion of racial profiling into political forms of profiling that undermine their own status. If the courts uphold the fundamental rights of Ms Alqasem, their own rights will be more secure too.

That was why progressive Jewish leaders in the US added their own voices last week, signing a petition calling for Ms Alqasem to be allowed to study in Israel.

But the case has shone a light not only on the self-interested opportunism of Israeli liberals but also on the hypocrisy of leaders of progressive American Jewish communities.

Ms Alqasem was identified as a boycott activist via a McCarthyite website called Canary Mission, which has murky ties to the Israeli government.

Since it launched in 2014 under the slogan “If you’re racist, the world should know”, the site has built an online database profiling thousands of US academics and students, including Jewish ones, critical of Israel.

Its aim is to terrify US academia into silence on Israel. The site explicitly threatens to send letters to prospective employers accusing its targets – those who show solidarity with Palestinians – of being antisemitic.

Until recently, this blacklist had passed largely unremarked outside pro-Palestinian circles. But since its role in helping Israeli officials bar Jewish and non-Jewish activists became clear, interest in its provenance has grown.

This month the Forward, an American Jewish publication, unmasked several of Canary Mission’s major donors. They include the communal funds of Jewish federations representing liberal communities in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The trail leads back to a shadowy registered charity in Israel called Megamot Shalom, which aims to “protect the image of the state of Israel”.

Simone Zimmerman, an American Jewish peace activist who was detained at the border by Israeli officials in August, lamented that the American Jewish establishment’s secret support for Canary Mission “reeks of hypocrisy and betrayal”.

Supposedly liberal Jewish institutions in Israel and the US wish to be seen battling racism and aiding good causes, including the rights of a Palestinian-American student after she repudiated a boycott of Israel.

But covertly they support and finance projects intended to silence criticism of Israel and enforce the oppression of Palestinians they say they want to help.

Ms Alqasem has been turned into a pawn in the struggle between Jewish liberals and Israeli ultra-nationalists. Israel’s continuing violations of the wider rights of Palestinians – to enter and freely move around their homeland, and to receive an education – are simply not part of the discussion.

October 16, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | Leave a comment

Pandering to Israel

Time to cut the tie that binds

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • October 16, 2018

The ability of Israel and its powerful Lobby to control many aspects of American government while also sustaining an essentially false narrative about the alleged virtues of the Jewish State is remarkable. Politicians and journalists learned long ago that it was better to cultivate Israel’s friends than it was to support actual American interests. They also discovered to speak the truth about the Jewish State often would prove to be a death sentence career-wise, witness the experiences of Cynthia McKinney, Paul Findlay, William Fulbright, Chuck Percy, James Traficant, Pete McCloskey and Rick Sanchez.

More recently, we have seen the ascent to real political power on the part of a number of politicians whose pandering to Israel has been notorious, indicating that the path to the White House goes through Tel Aviv and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) offices on H Street in the District of Columbia. Nikki Haley, who recently resigned as United Nations Ambassador, gained national attention when she became the first state governor to sign off on laws that would punish supporters of the non-violent BDS movement. Subsequently, as ambassador, she became noted for her impassioned defense of Israel, to include complaining that “nowhere has the U.N.’s failure been more consistent and more outrageous than in its bias against our close ally Israel.” She vowed that the “days of Israel bashing are over” and is now being groomed by the neocons as a possible presidential candidate for 2020. Whichever way it goes, she will be showered with money by Israel supporters as she finds her perch in the private sector, like others before her doing “work” that she does not understand while also making speeches about the importance of the Israeli relationship.

All of that said, one of the truly odd aspects of the Israeli/Jewish dominance is its ability to change the United States. Normally, a tiny client state attached to a great power would conform to its patron, but in the U.S.-Israel relationship the reverse has happened. When 9/11 occurred Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was pleased, commenting that the attack would tie the United States more closely to Israel in its war against “terrorism,” which to him meant his Islamic neighbors in the Middle East. Since that time, the bilateral “special” relationship has conformed to what Professors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer observed in their groundbreaking book “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” namely that the United States does things in the Middle East that cannot be attributed to national interest. Rather, Washington behaves in a certain way due to the power of Israel and its lobby. There is no other way to explain it.

The emergence of Israeli practices as models to be adopted by U.S. agencies has occurred, to be sure, to include Israeli training of American policemen and soldiers in their “methods,” but the odd thing is that as Israel has lurched to the right and embraced political extremism under Netanyahu, the United States has done the same thing, curtailing civil liberties with the Patriot Acts, the Military Commissions Act, and various updates of the Authorization to Use Military Force. Indefinite detention without trial and assassination of citizens overseas is now acceptable in America and criticizing Israel could soon become a criminal offense in spite of the First Amendment. In short, the United States of America has become more like Israel rather than vice versa.

With one or two exceptions, there is no one in the United States government, elected or civil service, who has anything that is not wonderful to say about Israel in spite of the numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity being committed by Netanyahu nearly daily, the unfunded costs of the wars fought in part on behalf of Israel, and the thousands of dead American soldiers plus the hundreds of thousands of dead foreigners, nearly all Muslims. Indeed, Netanyahu is treated like a conquering hero, having received 23 standing ovations from Congress in 2015 when he was in the United States complaining about an agreement with Iran made by President Barack Obama. This inside the beltway approval of Israel contrasts sharply with the general view of the rest of the world, which sees both the U.S. and Israel negatively as the two nations most likely to start a new war.

There are several recent articles that demonstrate pretty clearly the danger in allowing Israel and its friends to have the power and access that they currently enjoy purely because government and the media make no effort to tell them “no” and rein them in. One comes from New Zealand where two women wrote a letter to the pop singer Lorde, urging her to cancel an appearance in Israel due to the treatment of the Palestinians. Lorde posted the letter on twitter, agreed and the trip was canceled.

The tale would have ended there but for the fact that Israel’s parliament the Knesset has passed a law now making it illegal to support a boycott of Israel ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD [my emphasis]. Enter the group called Shurat HaDin, which is an Israeli government supported lawfare instrument, that seeks to find and sue the perceived enemies of the Jewish state, punishing them through court costs and potentially bankruptcy.

The lawsuit argued that Lorde’s response on twitter after receiving the letter showed her decision was directly influenced by the New Zealand women’s plea. Three Israeli ticket holders filed the suit, claiming the cancellation had caused emotional distress. The Israeli court awarded damages of $12,000 dollars and their lawyer, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of Shurat HaDin, boasted that the verdict was “precedent-setting,” sending a message that “no one can boycott Israel without paying for it.” Israeli government agents in New Zealand are taking steps to obtain the money, even though it remains unclear whether the plaintiffs will be able to collect the cash. Darshan-Leitner explained that she will seek to enforce the judgment through “international treaties” and go after the women’s bank accounts, either in New Zealand or if they try to travel abroad. Even if she is unsuccessful, the lawsuits will have a chilling effect on any individual or group seeking to criticize Israel’s brutal behavior by endorsing what once were perfectly legal boycotts.

A second story is possibly even more bizarre. On October 10th, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that “Israel is everything we want the entire Middle East to look like going forward” while asserting that the bilateral relationship between Washington and Tel Aviv is “stronger than ever.” Pompeo was keynote speaker at an award ceremony hosted by the Jewish Institute for National Security of America in Washington D.C. He also hailed Israel as “democratic and prosperous,” adding “it desires peace, it is a home to a free press and a thriving economy.”

Pompeo also mentioned Iran, condemning the latter’s “corrupt leaders [who] assault the human rights of their own people and finance terrorism in every corner of the Middle East”. He also announced to a cheering audience that he had that same day denied a $165 million transfer of aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) because of the PA’s “funding of terror.” Pompeo was referring to the PA’s refusal to comply with Washington’s demands that it end the so-called “martyr payments” to the families of those killed or imprisoned by Israeli occupation forces.

Pompeo, together with National Security Advisor John Bolton, has been the driving force behind punishing the Iranians and Palestinians. Like others in Washington, he understands that success inside the beltway is best guaranteed by binding oneself as closely to Israel as possible. Pompeo certainly knows that Israel is not democratic, does not desire peace and is itself a major source of terrorism. Its government is corrupt, witness the current trial of Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife as well as the charges pending against the prime minister himself. A number of Israeli leaders have wound up in jail in the past few years. To describe Israel as a model for the entire Middle East is absurd, but, then again, Pompeo was speaking in front of the Jewish Institute for National Security and presumably intended to suck up to his wealthy and politically powerful audience.

How does Israel maintain its control over American politicians? First of all, no politician who wants to get reelected can risk even the mildest criticism of the Jewish state. Anyone who does so will be pilloried in the media before finding him or herself confronted by an extremely well-funded opponent who will oust them from office. And anyone who even suggests that the Palestinians are human beings that are being severely punished by a powerful Israel had best watch his or her back. On October 8th Congressman Eliot Engel of New York spoke regarding liberal Democrat rising star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and three other liberals seeking congressional seats next month, all of whom have expressed sympathy for the Palestinians while also criticizing Israel’s heavy handed repression.

Engel told a New York synagogue gathering that had been organized and promoted by AIPAC that all Democrats “need to be educated” in support of Israel. “We are going to continue to work in Congress to make sure that we have overwhelming support for Israel on both sides of the aisle… I am certainly cognizant of the fact that people who are coming in as far as I’m concerned on the Democratic side, will be educated and need to be educated. But we have overwhelming support for Israel in the Congress. And… it will continue that way. We will maintain it that way.”

So, maintaining “overwhelming support” for Israel requires doing whatever is necessary, be it fair or foul, and many Jews and Jewish organizations worldwide, like Engel, are prepared to place alleged Israeli interests ahead of those of the countries where they actually reside. In America, Jewish groups and individuals have succeeded in buying politicians and using their money and control over much of the media to corrupt the entire political system to benefit Israel.

Israel should be judged by how it behaves, not by how well it buys favor among morally challenged politicians and media shills. Nor should it be seen favorably as it engages, threatens and destroys critics. When private citizens cannot write a letter to an entertainer without risk of being sued, deference to perpetual Israeli victimhood has gone way too far. When an intelligent man like Mike Pompeo finds it in his interest to say something transparently stupid in praise of Israel, something which he knows to be the reverse of the truth, the corruption of our elites becomes clear even to those who choose to remain blind to it. When a candidate for national office has to be “educated” by Jewish politicians to say the right things about Israel it smacks of Stalinism.

We Americans don’t need any more of this nonsense, which is inter alia destroying our liberties. It is largely driven by the guilt laden “holocaust hucksterism,” as Norman Finkelstein has termed it, that has been giving Israel a free pass for seventy years. It is time for a change in thinking about how we view our “good friend and ally” Israel, a country that is neither. It is time for government to do what is best for Americans, not for Israelis.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is www.councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

October 16, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 5 Comments