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‘Operational Emergency’ Announced at US’ Main Nuclear Weapons Plant

Sputnik – 23.10.2018

An “operational emergency” was registered at the US’ major nuclear weapons assembly site on Tuesday.

“The Pantex Plant is experiencing an operational emergency,” the Pantex Plant Twitter account tweeted Tuesday. “The Emergency Response Organization has been activated.” Local news website My High Plains reports that the Emergency Response Organization comprises elite employees with in-depth knowledge of the plant’s operations and emergency response processes.

​An hour later, Pantex Plant announced that the unspecified “security incident has ended without incident.” The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) confirmed that an “all clear” sign had been issued to the public.

The plant, located in Carson City, Texas, is the main location where nuclear arms are assembled, disassembled and maintained in the US.

During the enigmatic incident, the Carson County Sheriff’s Department said that the eastern part of the plant was rendered completely inaccessible. Emergency teams in Armstrong County, Carson County, the Amarillo/Potter/Randall Office of Emergency Management and DPS were notified of the event and took “appropriate” action, My High Plains reported.

Local highways were temporarily shut down while officials responded to the mysterious emergency.

​The plant is operated and managed by Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC, under a contract from the US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

Back in 2005, Pantex Plant also made headlines when the facility’s employees nearly detonated a W-56 warhead — 100 times stronger than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima — by accident while trying to take it apart, according to the Sun.

October 23, 2018 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism | , | Leave a comment

Revealed: Israel tax funded group gives loans to build illegal settlements

MEMO | October 23, 2018

The World Zionist Organisation (WZO) gave dozens of loans to aid the establishment of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, a new investigation has revealed.

The investigation, conducted by Israeli newspaper Haaretz, uncovered documents which “show a pattern in which settlers have established farms and unauthorised outposts over the past 20 years with loans from the [World Zionist Organisation’s] Settlement Division — financed entirely through taxpayers’ money and frequently secured by liens on agricultural equipment or livestock”.

Haaretz obtained “dozens of documents relating to mortgages pertaining to 26 outposts across the West Bank” including Amona, which Israel evacuated in 2017 after deeming it had been established illegally on Palestinian land. The illegal settlers were then relocated to Amichai, the first brand new settlement to be built since the Oslo Accords. Although Israel differentiates between settlements and outposts – which do not have official government recognition – both are deemed illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention which prohibits the transferring of civilian populations into occupied territory.

The investigation then cross-referenced maps with the names of those who obtained mortgages, their place of residence and the year in which the loan was granted. In doing so, it found that the WZO “repeatedly gave loans to people who were establishing unauthorided outpost, and did so during the period when the outposts were being set up”.

The first of these loans dates back to the mid-1990s, one of which was given to extremist Avri Ran – the founder of the notorious “hilltop youth” movement – who established a number of illegal outposts at Gva’ot Olam, south east of Nablus in the occupied West Bank. This policy of providing financial assistance to illegal settlements has continued up to the present day, with the WZO granting a loan to the Yitzhar settlement in 2014, even though it was subject to three demolition orders.

Haaretz adds that “mortgage financing was also provided for illegal structures in [Israeli government] authorised settlements such as Yitzhar,” located south of Nablus. Finance was also provided for the “Havat Har Sinai, Einot Kedem and Shkedim farms,” also scattered across the West Bank.

Significantly, Haaretz explains that though the World Zionist Organisation operates without the Israeli government’s direct authority, “all of its funding comes from the Israeli taxpayer”. The WZO in fact pre-dates the state of Israel, having been founded by the ideological-father of Zionism, Theodor Herzl, in the 19th century as an organisation dedicated to the promotion of Jewish settlement in Palestine.

Since Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967, it has consistently pursued a policy of illegal settlement. Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem states that, as of the end of 2015, there were 127 Israeli government-sanctioned settlements in the West Bank (not including occupied East Jerusalem and Hebron). This was in addition to 100 non-recognised outposts and 15 Israeli neighbourhoods inside the Jerusalem Municipality.

October 23, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

‘A cruel choice’: Why Israel targets Palestinian schools

By Ramzy Baroud | Ma’an | October 23, 2018

Several Palestinian students, along with teachers and officials, were wounded in the Israeli army attack on a school south of Nablus in the West Bank on October 15. The students of al-Sawiya al-Lubban Mixed School were challenging an Israeli military order to shut down their school based on the ever-versatile accusation of the school being a “site of popular terror and rioting.”

“Popular terror,” is an Israeli army code for protests. The students, of course, have every right to protest, not just the Israeli military Occupation but also the encroaching colonization of the settlements of Alie and Ma’ale Levona. These two illegal Jewish settlements have unlawfully confiscated thousands of dunums of land belonging to the villages of al-Sawiya and al-Lubban.

“The Israeli citizens,” that the Occupation army is set to protect by shutting down the school, are, in fact, the very armed Jewish settlers who have been terrorizing this West Bank region for years.

According to a 2016 study commissioned by the United Nations, at least 2,500 Palestinian students from 35 West Bank communities must cross through Israeli military checkpoints to reach their schools every day. About half of these students have reported army harassment and violence for merely attempting to get to their classes or back home.

However, this is only half of the story, as violent Jewish settlers are always on the lookout for Palestinian kids. These settlers, who “also set up their own checkpoints,” engage in regular violence as well, by “throwing stones” at children, or “physically pushing (Palestinian children) around.”

“UNICEF’s protective presence teams have reported that their volunteers have been subjected to physical attacks, harassment, arrest and detention and death threats,” according to the same UN report.

In other words, even the “protectors” themselves often fall victim to the army and Jewish settler terror tactics.

Add to this that Area C – a major part of the West Bank that is under full Israeli military control – represents the pinnacle of Palestinian suffering. An estimated 50,000 children face numerous hurdles, including the lack of facilities, access, violence, closure and unjustified demolition orders.

The school of al-Sawiya al-Lubban located in Area C is, therefore, under the total mercy of the Israeli military, which has no tolerance for any form of resistance, including non-violent popular protests by school children.

What is truly uplifting, however, is that, despite the Israeli military Occupation and ongoing restrictions on Palestinian freedom, the Palestinian population remains one of the most educated in the Middle East.

According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the literacy rate in Palestine (estimated at 96.3%) is one of the highest in the Middle East and the illiteracy rate (3.7% among individuals over the age of 15) is one of the lowest in the world.

If these statistics are not heartening enough, bearing in mind the ongoing Israeli war on Palestinian school and curricula, consider this: the besieged and war-stricken Gaza Strip has an even higher literacy rate than the West Bank, as they both stand at 96.6% and 96% respectively.

In truth, this should not come as a total surprise. The first wave of Palestinian refugees that were ethnically-cleansed from historic Palestine were so keen on ensuring their children strive to continue their education, they established school tents, operated by volunteer teachers as early as 1948.

Palestinians understand well that education is their greatest weapon to obtain their long-denied freedom. Israel, too, is aware of this dichotomy, knowing that an empowered Palestinian population is far more capable of challenging Israeli dominance than a subdued one, thus the relentless and systematic targeting of the Palestinian educational system.

Israel’s strategy in destroying the infrastructure of Palestinian schooling system is centered on the allegation of “terror”: that is, Palestinians teach “terror” in their schools; Palestinian school books celebrate “terrorists”; schools are sites for “popular terror” and various other accusations that, per Israeli logic, compels the army to seal off schools, demolish facilities, arrest and shoot students.

Take for example, the recent comments made by the Israeli mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, who is now leading a government campaign aimed at shutting down operations by the UN organization that caters for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA.

“It is time to remove UNRWA from Jerusalem,” Barkat announced early October.

Without any evidence whatsoever, Barkat claimed that “UNRWA is strengthening terror,” and that “the children of Jerusalem are taught under their auspices, terror, and this must be stopped.”

Of course, Barkat is being dishonest. The jibe at UNRWA in Jerusalem is part of a larger Israeli-US campaign aimed at shutting down an organization that proved central to the status and welfare of Palestinian refugees.

According to this skewed thinking, without UNRWA, Palestinian refugees would have no legal platform, thus closing down UNRWA is closing down the chapter of Palestinian refugees and their Right of Return altogether.

The link between the shutting down of al-Sawiya al-Lubban, the targeting of UNRWA by Israel and the US, the numerous checkpoints separating students from their schools in the West Bank and more, have more in common than Israel’s false allegation of “terror.”

Israeli writer, Orly Noy, summed up the Israeli logic in one sentence. “By destroying schools in Palestinian villages in Area C and elsewhere, Israel is forcing Palestinians to make a cruel choice — between their land and their children’s futures,” she wrote earlier this year.

It is this brutal logic that has guided the Israeli government strategy regarding Palestinian education for 70 years. It is a war that cannot be discussed or understood outside the larger war on Palestinian identity, freedom, and, in fact, the very existence of the Palestinian people.

The students’ fight for their right to education in al-Sawiya al-Lubban Mixed School is by no means an isolated skirmish involving Palestinian school kids and trigger-happy Israeli soldiers. Rather, it is at the heart of the Palestinian people’s fight for their freedom.

October 23, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 2 Comments

Minister: Jordan ending land lease ‘provocation’ to Israel

MEMO | October 23, 2018

The Israeli Agriculture Minister, Uri Ariel, of the right-wing Jewish Home party has described the decision of King Abdullah of Jordan to end a lease of two areas of land to Israel that was agreed in annexes to the 1994 peace treaty between the two countries as “provocative”.

“I call on Prime Minister, Netanyahu to explain to the king that Jordan needs Tel Aviv more than Israel needs Jordan,” Ariel is reported to have said. “Israel provides Jordan with large quantities of water. If it were not for this water, the people of Amman would have water only two days a week instead of four,” the Israeli minister was quoted as saying said.

Ariel also called on King Abdullah to “extend the land lease agreement to benefit Israeli farmers” in the region.

There was no official comment from Jordan in response to Ariel’s remarks.

Jordan said on Sunday it would not extend the 25-year deal that allows Israel to use two tracts of territory along its border just as Israel said it was still planning to negotiate an extension.

“These are Jordanian lands and they will remain..” the monarch said. In an “era of regional turmoil” his kingdom -sandwiched between Syria to the north, Iraq to the east and Israel to its west – Jordan wanted to protect its “national interests,” Abdullah said.

October 23, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | Leave a comment

Robert Faurisson and the Study of the Past

By Gilad Atzmon | October 23, 2018

The history of ideas provides us with the names of those few men and women who challenged the boundaries of tolerance. Professor Robert Faurisson was one such man. Faurisson, who died last Sunday at age 89, was a French academic who didn’t believe in the validity of parts of the Holocaust narrative. He argued that gas chambers in Auschwitz were the “biggest lie of the 20th century,” and contended that deported Jews had died of disease and malnutrition. Faurisson also questioned the authenticity of the Diary of Anne Frank many years before the Swiss foundation that holds the copyright to the famous diary “alerted publishers that her father (Otto Frank) is not only the ‘editor’ but also legally the ‘co-author’ of the celebrated book” (NY Times ).

In the France of the late 1960s-1970s Faurisson had reason to believe that his maverick attitude toward the past would receive a kosher pass. He was wrong. Faurisson may have failed to grasp the role of the Holocaust in contemporary Jewish politics and culture. And he did not grasp that Jewish power is literally the power to silence opposition to Jewish power. 

In 1990 France made holocaust revisionism into the crime of  history denial. Faurisson was repeatedly prosecuted, beaten and fined for his writings. He was dismissed from his academic post at Lyon University in 1991.

I am bothered by the question of why Jews and others  attached to their politics are desperate to restrict the story of their past. This question extends far beyond the holocaust. Israel has enacted a law that bans discussion of the Nakba – the racially motivated ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people that occurred a mere three years after the liberation of Auschwitz. Similarly, exploring the role of Jews in the slave trade will cost your job or lead to your expulsion from the labour party. My attempt to analyse the true nature of the Yiddish Speaking International Brigade in the 1936 Spanish Civil War outraged some of my Jewish ‘progressive’ friends.

Jean-François Lyotard addressed this question. History may claim to relate what actually occurred, but what it does more often is operate to conceal our shame. The task of an authentic historian is, according to Lyotard, similar to that of the psychoanalyst. It is all about removing layers of shame, concealment and suppression to try to uncover the truth.

It was the work of Faurisson that helped me to define the historical endeavour in philosophical terms. I define history as the attempt to narrate the past as we move along. To deal with history for real, is to continually re-visit and revise the past in light of our cultural, social and ideological changes. For instance, the 1948 Nakba came to be thought of in terms of ethnic cleansing in the early 2000s when the notion of ‘ethnic cleansing’ entered our vocabulary (and our way of understanding a conflict) following the crisis in Kosovo. The real historian reevaluates the past and embraces adjustments that place our understanding of that past in line with our contemporaneous reality and terminology.

Professor Faurisson and the controversy around his work illuminates the distinction between real history and religion. While history is a vibrant dynamic matter subject to constant ‘revision,’ the religious approach to the past is limited to the production of a rigid unchanging chronicle of events. Authentic history invokes ethical thinking to examine the past in light of the present and vice versa, religious history often operates by denying or rejecting increasing ethical insight – it judges actions and events according to set predefined parameters. The question at stake is not what happened in the past but the freedom to research and evaluate the past without being threatened by ‘history laws.’ In the same manner I support ‘progress’ in cancer research, although I do not  produce scholarly comments on related scientific findings, I support the past being continually re-examined although I offer no judgment of any kind regarding the validity of those historical findings. For history to be a valid and an ethical universal pursuit, history laws must be abolished.

In 2014 I met Robert Faurisson and discussed with him different questions about the meaning of history and what the past meant to him.

October 23, 2018 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | 15 Comments

Nearly Half of Americans and Europeans Doubt Mainstream Media’s Take on Russia

Sputnik – 23.10.2018

Respondents in both the United States and Europe turned out to be generally reluctant to trust their mainstream media to provide unbiased coverage of events related to Russia, with the number of respondents adhering to this point of view ranging from 43 to 53 percent depending on the country.

An opinion poll was conducted recently by the French Institute of Public Opinion (IFOP), in which respondents in the United States and Europe were asked the following question: “Do media in your country report objectively about Russia?”

About half of respondents in France (53 percent) and Germany (50 percent), as well as 47 percent of respondents in the UK and 43 percent of respondents in the United States, said that they don’t believe that their media provides objective information about Russia.

At the same time, only 25 percent of French and 33 percent of British respondents said that they trust their media to provide unbiased information about Russia, with 39 percent of those polled in the US and Germany agreeing with this assessment.

The opinion poll was held as US politicians and intelligence officials continue to accuse Russia of attempting to meddle in the election processes in the United States — accusations which Moscow has vehemently denied.

At the same time, London blames Russia for the alleged poisoning of several people in the British city of Salisbury earlier this year, despite the fact that the Russian authorities have strongly rejected these claims.

The survey was conducted among 4,033 respondents aged 18 and above from the US, the UK, France and Germany, in August 2018.

READ MORE:

Most Europeans Want Better Relations With Russia, Not Sanctions War – Poll

October 23, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , | 1 Comment

Facebook Shuts Down Dozens of Alleged Pro-Bolsonaro Accounts in Brazil

Sputnik – 23.10.2018

Facebook has shut down 68 pages and 43 accounts linked to the Brazilian marketing group Raposo Fernandes Associados (RFA); the social media site claims that the firm violated its spam policies.

“The people behind RFA created pages using fake accounts or multiple accounts with the same names, which violates our Community Standards. They then used those pages to post massive amounts of clickbait,” the statement reads.

A local newspaper, O Estado de S. Paulo, called the blocked accounts the largest network supporting Brazil’s right-wing presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, who will face off against his leftist rival Fernando Haddad in the Sunday runoff election.

The US social media giant argued that its decision to remove these pages was based on their behavior, rather than their content.

The newspaper said it exposed the pro-Bolsonaro network in a joint investigation with Avaaz, a US-based activist website, which claimed that the blocked pages had generated 12.5 million interactions in the past month.

October 23, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | 1 Comment

Purge of alt-media by FB is ‘us pushing back, just a beginning’ – censorship insider

RT | October 23, 2018

An employee of a leading Washington DC think tank has reportedly taken credit for the resent purge of alternative media by Facebook and Twitter, claiming it to be necessary to fight against ‘fake news’ from Russia and China.

In the latest act of apparent censorship of political speech online, US-based tech giants this month shut down hundreds of user accounts. Some belonged to well-established alternative media outlets with hundreds of thousands of followers, like The Free Thought Project or The Anti Media. A senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund, a leading think tank advocating US global supremacy, seems to have at least partially taken credit for this.

“Russia, China, and other foreign states take advantage of our open political system,” Jamie Fly said.

“They can invent stories that get repeated and spread through different sites. So we are just starting to push back. Just this last week Facebook began starting to take down sites. So this is just the beginning.”

The remarks were cited by Jeb Sprague, a visiting faculty member in sociology at the University of California-Santa Barbara, in a story he co-authored for The Gray Zone Project, an outlet known for criticism of online censorship.

Sprague said Fly made the comments to him during a lunch break at a conference on Asian security organized by Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik in Berlin, Germany.

According to the account, Fly complained that any person with an email can set up an account on social media and potentially reach a wide audience. He predicted a long, global struggle to fix the situation.

Fly started his career in US political circles as an adviser to the George W. Bush administration. He was also a foreign policy and national security consultant for Senator Marco Rubio, when he was trying to secure the 2016 presidential nomination from the Republican Party. For four years he headed the Foreign Policy Initiative, a pro-Israeli think tank founded by neoconservative figures Bill Kristol, Dan Senor, and Robert Kagan.

In the last few years, Fly showed up as an expert on social media and ‘Russian disinformation’ on various outlets to speak about alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election in the US. Among other things he teamed up with Laura Rosenberger, the head of the Alliance for Securing Democracy, the organization behind the Hamilton 68 dashboard, a tool that purports to show Russian online interference on Twitter, based on monitoring a number of undisclosed accounts and applying a secret methodology to analyze the data.

According to Sprague, Fly also stated that he was working with the Atlantic Council in the campaign to purge alternative media from social media platforms like Facebook. The social media network has partnered with the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) to root out ‘fake news’ on its platform. The think tank is not unlike the German Marshall Fund in terms of the policies it furthers, with some commenters simply calling it ‘NATO’s PR branch’.

October 23, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

The White Helmets Ride Again

How easy it is to give awards to terrorists

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • October 23, 2018

I am often asked to explain why countries like Iran appear to be so aggressive, involving themselves in foreign wars and seeking to create alliances that they know will provoke the worst and most paranoid responses from some of their neighbors. My response is invariably that perceptions of threat depend very much on which side of the fence you are standing on. Saudi Arabia and Israel might well perceive Iranian actions as aggressive given the fact that all three countries are competing for dominance in the same region, but Iran, which is surrounded by powerful enemies, could equally explain its activity as defensive, seeking to create a belt of allies that can be called upon if needed if a real shooting war breaks out.

The United States and Israel are, of course, masters at seeing everything as a threat, justifying doing whatever is deemed necessary to defend against what are perceived to be enemies. They even exercise extraterritoriality, with Washington claiming a right to go after certain categories of “terrorists” in countries with which it is not at war, most particularly Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia. Israel does likewise in its attacks on Lebanon and Syria. Both Tel Aviv and Washington have regularly crossed the line drawn by international legal authorities in terms of what constitutes initiating a “just” or “legal” war, i.e. an imminent threat to use force by a hostile power. Neither Israel nor the United States has really been threatened by an enemy or enemies in the past seventy years, so the definition of threat has been expanded to include after-the-fact as with 9/11 and potential as in the case of Israel and Iran.

The “which side of the fence” formulation has also had some interesting spin-offs in terms of how so-called non-state players that use violence are perceived and portrayed. Nearly all widely accepted definitions of terrorism include language that condemns the “use of politically motivated violence against non-combatants to provoke a state of terror.”

It is quite easy to identify some groups that are unambiguously “terrorist.” Islamic State in Syria (ISIS) and its various affiliates fit the definition perfectly, but even in that case there is some ambiguity by those state actors who are ostensibly pledged to eradicate terrorists. There have been credible claims that the United States has been protecting the last enclaves of ISIS in order to maintain its “right” to stay in Syria, allegedly based on the stated objective of completely destroying the group before withdrawal. As long as ISIS is still around in Syria, Washington will have an admittedly illegal justification for doing likewise.

There are two notable groups that should be universally condemned as terrorists but are not for political reasons. They are the Mujaheddin e Khalq (MEK), Iranian dissidents that are based in Paris and Washington, and the so-called White Helmets who have been active in Syria. MEK is particularly liked by Israel and its friends inside the Beltway because it retains resources inside Iran that enable it to carry out assassinations and sabotage, and if it is only Iranians that are dying, that’s okay.

MEK has been on the State Department roster of foreign terrorist organizations since the list was established in 1997. Its inclusion derives from its having killed six Americans in the 1970s and from its record of violence both inside and outside Iran since that time. The group was driven out of Iran, denied refuge in France, and eventually armed and given a military base by Iraq’s leader Saddam Hussein. Saddam used the group to carry out terrorist acts inside Iran. MEK is widely regarded as a cult headed by a husband and wife team Massoud and Maryam Rajavi. Its members were required to be celibate and there are reports that they are subjected to extensive brainwashing, physical torture, severe beatings even unto death, and prolonged solitary confinement if they question the leadership. One scholar who has studied them describes their beliefs as a “weird combination of Marxism and Islamic fundamentalism.” Like many other terrorist groups MEK has a political wing that operates openly referred to as the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which is based in Paris, and another front organization called Executive Action which operates in Washington.

MEK was regarded as a terrorist group until 2012, when it was taken off the Special Designation list by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It was removed because multi-million dollar contracts with Washington lobbying firms experienced at “working” congress backed up by handsome speaking fees had induced many prominent Americans to join the chorus supporting NCRI. Prior to 2012, speaking fees for the group started at $15,000 and went up from there. Former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell reported more than $150,000 in honoraria. Rudy Giuliani has been paid generously for years at $20,000 per appearance for brief, twenty-minute speeches. Bear in mind that MEK was a listed terrorist group at the time and accepting money from it to promote its interests should have constituted material support of terrorism.

The group’s well-connected friends have included prominent neocons like current National Security Advisor John Bolton and ex-CIA Directors James Woolsey, Michael Hayden and Porter Goss as well as former Generals Anthony Zinni, Peter Pace, Wesley Clark, and Hugh Shelton. Traditional conservatives close to the Trump Administration like Newt Gingrich, Fran Townsend and Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao are also fans of NCRI. Townsend in particular, as a self-proclaimed national security specialist, has appeared on television to denounce Iran, calling its actions “acts of war” without indicating that she has received money from an opposition group.

MEK’s formula for success in removing itself from the terrorism lift involved paying its way through a corrupt political system. More interesting perhaps is the tale of the White Helmets, who have just been given the 2019 Elie Wiesel Award by the National Holocaust Museum, with the citation “These volunteer rescue workers have saved lives on all sides of the conflict in Syria. Their motto is ‘To save one life is to save all of humanity.’”

The White Helmets have been praised by those who hate the government of President Bashar al-Asad in Syria and want to see it removed because of its role as a leading element in the propaganda campaign that seeks to instigate violence or use fabricated information to depict the Damascus government as guilty of slaughtering its own citizens. The propaganda is intended to terrorize the civilian population, which is part of the definition of terrorism.

Favorable media coverage derives from the documentary The White Helmets, which was produced by the group itself and tells a very convincing tale promoted as “the story of real-life heroes and impossible hope.” It is a very impressive piece of propaganda, so much so that it has won numerous awards including the Oscar for Best Documentary Short last year and the White Helmets themselves were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. More to the point, however, is the undeniable fact that the documentary has helped shape the public understanding of what is going on in Syria, describing the government in Damascus in purely negative terms.

Recently, with the Syrian Army closing in on the last White Helmet affiliates still operating in the country, the Israeli government, assisted by the United States, staged an emergency humanitarian evacuation of the group’s members and their families to Israel and then on to Jordan. It was described in a BBC article that included “The IDF said they had ‘completed a humanitarian effort to rescue members of a Syrian civil organization and their families’, saying there was an ‘immediate threat to their lives.’ The transfer of the displaced Syrians through Israel was an exceptional humanitarian gesture. Although Israel is not directly involved in the Syria conflict, the two countries have been in a state of war for decades. Despite the intervention, the IDF said that ‘Israel continues to maintain a non-intervention policy regarding the Syrian conflict.’”

All of the Israeli assertions are nonsense, including its claimed “humanitarianism” and “non-intervention” in the Syrian war, where it has been bombing almost daily. The carefully edited scenes of heroism under fire that have been filmed and released worldwide conceal the White Helmets’ relationship with the al-Qaeda affiliated group Jabhat al-Nusra and its participation in the torture and execution of “rebel” opponents. Indeed, the White Helmets only operate in rebel held territory, which enables them to shape the narrative both regarding who they are and what is occurring on the ground.

The White Helmets travelled to bombing sites with their film crews trailing behind them. Once at the sites, with no independent observers, they are able to arrange or even stage what is filmed to conform to their selected narrative. Exploiting their access to the western media, the White Helmets thereby de facto became a major source of “eyewitness” news regarding what was going on in those many parts of Syria where European and American journalists were quite rightly afraid to go, all part of a broader largely successful “rebel” effort to manufacture fake news that depicts the Damascus government as engaging in war crimes directed against civilians, an effort that has led to several attacks on government forces and facilities by the U.S. military. This is precisely the propaganda that has been supported both by Tel Aviv and Washington.

Perhaps the most serious charge against the White Helmets consists of the evidence that they actively participated in the atrocities, to include torture and murder, carried out by their al-Nusra hosts. There have been numerous photos of the White Helmets operating directly with armed terrorists and also celebrating over the bodies of execution victims and murdered Iraqi soldiers. The group’s jihadi associates regard the White Helmets as fellow “mujahideen” and “soldiers of the revolution.”

So, the National Holocaust Museum, which is taxpayer funded, has given an apparently prestigious award to a terrorist group, something which could have been discerned with even a little fact checking. And the museum also might have been sensitive to how the White Helmets have been used in support of Israeli propaganda vis-à-vis Syria. Perhaps, while they are at it, the museum’s board just might also want to check out Elie Wiesel, for whom the award is named. Wiesel, who was a chronicler of Jewish victimhood while persistently refusing to acknowledge what Israel was doing to the Palestinians, notoriously mixed fact and fiction in his best-selling holocaust memoir Night. Ironically, the award and recipient are well matched in this case as mixing fact and fiction is what both Elie Wiesel and the White Helmets are all about.

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 23, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

US Withdrawal from INF Treaty: Implications for Asia Pacific

By Arkady SAVITSKY | Strategic Culture Foundation | 23.10.2018

One of the motives behind the US withdrawal from the INF Treaty is its desire to acquire first-strike capability against Russia from Europe, while keeping intact its strategic nuclear arsenal. Another motivation is the need to keep China, America’s fiercest geopolitical challenger, in its crosshairs by forcing it to alter its foreign, defense, and trade policies in order to tip the balance in Washington’s favor. The capability to knock out key infrastructure sites with precision intermediate-range strikes deep inside China, not just in the coastal provinces, is one way to make Beijing more tractable on key issues and force a rollback of its global influence. In April, Adm. Harry Harris, the commander of US Pacific Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the US should renegotiate the INF Treaty to better compete with China. The admiral knew what he was talking about.

China has developed the DF-26 “aircraft carrier-killer” ballistic missile that has now rendered the old US strategy ineffective. Zachary Keck of the National Interest believes the DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missile could stop the US Navy in its tracks without firing a shot. That threat has to be countered and one way to do it is by knocking it out with land-based, highly accurate missiles. Such systems are cheaper than aircraft carriers and can do the job without exposing thousands of servicemen to the missile threat if used for a first strike. China has been testing a new nuclear-capable, air-launched ballistic missile constructed on the basis of the DF-21 that will help that country improve its warfighting capabilities. Beijing also boasts land-based mobile missile systems (LBMMS) with DF-10 cruise missiles that have a maximum range of 1,500 to 2,000 km. China has to defend itself, and fielding these systems is the only way that it can counteract America’s huge sea, space, and air advantages.

Actually, the process of encircling China with intermediate missiles is going to kick off with the deployment of the Aegis Ashore ballistic missile-defense (BMD) systems Japan has decided to buy. The batteries will be installed in the prefectures of Akita and Yamaguchi. Using the MK-41 launcher, the Aegis Ashore can fire intermediate-range Tomahawk missiles. The deal is a blatant violation of the INF Treaty that Washington accuses Moscow of not complying with.

After a long period of indecision, the US approved the sale of military equipment to Taiwan in September, drawing China’s ire. Last summer, the State Department requested that US Marines be sent to Taiwan under the pretext of safeguarding America’s de facto embassy there. National Security Adviser John Bolton is known for his support of the idea of stationing US troops on Taiwanese soil. Bolton wants to see the China policy revisited. He argues that Taiwan is closer to the Chinese mainland and the disputed islands in the South China Sea than either Okinawa or Guam — giving US forces greater flexibility for rapid deployment throughout the region should the need arise. If the ongoing escalation continues, the US could wind up deploying intermediate-range missiles on that friendly island.

Other targets include North Korea and the Russian Far East, especially the Vilyuchinsk naval base on the Kamchatka Peninsula that is home to a fleet of ballistic missile submarines.

Locating and destroying mobile land-based missiles, either from the air or from the ground, is an extremely challenging mission. Fast-flying ballistic delivery technology and stealthy cruise missiles are effective against a wide variety of targets, even if sophisticated air defenses are in place to protect them. The states in the region that are unfriendly to the United States would see their biggest military advantage erode away.

Intermediate-range weapons can accomplish the same missions as strategic weapons. With the high-precision technology the US possesses today, even conventional missiles could inflict damage comparable to that of nuclear strikes. Its ground-based assets boast large magazines and can have numerous reloads at the ready. In theory, the US could impose an arms-control agreement with China on its own terms, using theater weapons as its negotiating leverage. All the countries unfriendly to the US, such as China and North Korea, as well as Russia’s Far East area, will be within the range of fast-hitting, hard to counter, intermediate-range missile systems.

Moreover, with the arms race escalating in the Asia Pacific region, the US could involve itself in some lucrative deals selling conventional intermediate-range missile systems to the countries in that area, such as Japan. A conventional version of some of these weapons will be in high demand, bringing in substantial profits and spurring US economic growth.

So, the US is encouraging an arms race in the Asia Pacific region. It has adopted a policy of encirclement with its potential enemies in the crosshairs of its intermediate-range weapons. It will have the option of destroying key sites with conventional warheads. This policy will inevitably force Russia and China closer together. The militarization of the region will further accelerate. Those targeted by the US will be incentivized to develop weapons systems that can reach the continental US. No one will win and everyone will lose. There is still time to reverse the US decision to leave the INF Treaty.

October 23, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment