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Mainstream Media Assaults on Freedom of Speech. “The Truth” is No Longer “Important”

Alternative news sources have come under sustained attacks

By Shane Quinn – Global Research – December 7, 2018

The New York Times unveiled a new slogan early in 2017 titled, “The truth is more important now than ever.” It has acquired a seemingly noble motto but a perhaps contentious one if we examine the Times’ recent history. Two international law specialists, Howard Friel and Richard Falk, published a book after the 2003 Invasion of Iraq called The Record of the Paper, which has scarcely been reviewed.

Friel and Falk focused on the Times due to the newspaper’s importance. The authors point out that in 70 Times editorials on Iraq – from September 11, 2001 to March 20, 2003 – the words “international law” and “UN Charter” were never mentioned. The “truth” did not seem terribly “important” as the Times stood idly by in the destruction of Iraq.

Such was the barrage of propaganda directed at the American public that 69% believed Saddam Hussein was “personally involved” in the September 11 attacks. That is a significant achievement in manipulation. The poll results must have been news to the Iraqi dictator himself, a forgotten one-time American ally.

Why Hussein would take it upon himself to orchestrate a surprise attack on the United States, of all nations, is anyone’s guess. Perhaps if he had a death wish but as later events proved he was not the suicidal type.

The Times was not alone in its position of selling the Iraq war to the American people, as television networks from Fox News to CBS and CNN were overwhelmingly pro-war. Fox News, owned by Rupert Murdoch – who strongly backed the illegal conflict – placed a permanent US flag in the corner of the screen. Fox employees were compelled to describe the invasion as “Operation Iraqi Freedom”, with hundreds of thousands of Iraqis later being killed.

The pattern continues into other illegitimate interventions as the liberal Guardian newspaper championed the demolition of Libya in 2011, with editorials imploring, “The quicker Muammar Gaddafi falls, the better.” The Guardian encouraged NATO “to tip the military balance further against Gaddafi”, while later that year summarising that “it has turned out, so far, reasonably well” – by that point thousands had been killed.

In 2015 Ian Birrell, then deputy editor of the Independent, still assured his readers, “I would argue that Britain and France were right to step in [in Libya]. The failures came later on.” Apparently it was fine for two old imperial powers to “step in” to shatter a sovereign nation, then afterwards absolve the invaders of blame with “the failures” only coming “later on”.

Sceengrab from The Independent

It’s a rare thing indeed to hear a prominent commentator question the balance of Western mainstream coverage. The same voices can be heard piping up when alternative news sources take a different line not so palatable to their tastes.

Nick Cohen, writing in the Guardian, accused the network Russia Today (RT) of being a “propaganda channel” and that Russia was “prostituting journalism”. In the following sentence, Cohen describes the BBC and New York Times as being “reputable news organisations”.

Cohen firmly supported the Iraq war, writing at the time that “the Left betrays the Iraqi people by opposing war”, and “an American invasion offers the possibility of salvation”. He was deemed not to be “prostituting journalism” in backing this violation of international law, nor when later supporting other interventions in Libya and Syria.

The BBC’s reputation, which Cohen previously claimed to be “reputable”, was dealt a blow when it was revealed by Cardiff University that the network “displayed the most ‘pro-war’ agenda of any broadcaster” with its coverage on the Iraq invasion.

Steven Erlanger of the New York Times described RT as “an agent of Kremlin policy” used to “undermine Western democracies” and to “destabilise the West” – failing to back up the claims with any evidence. To gain perspective on these attacks, it may be worth pointing out a key excerpt from the First Amendment of the US Constitution: “Congress shall make no law… abridging [curtailing] the freedom of speech, or of the press.”

This law does not exist in Western democracies but attempts at limiting freedom of expression continue apace, while attacks on alternative media outlets by institutions of power grow. It has reached a point whereby the French president Emmanuel Macron, shortly after assuming office, publicly attacked legitimate news sources of “behaving like deceitful propaganda”.

Perhaps the hidden concern about RT, for example, is its continued increase in both popularity and scope – with the channel enjoying a total weekly viewership of 70 million people and rising. RT is available to viewers in Western heartlands such as Britain and the US, with eight million Americans watching the station each week. It represents quite an achievement that a channel with the word “Russia”, featured in its title, can attract viewers in their millions, despite the growing anti-Russian sentiment espoused by the powers-that-be.

It is revealing that elite figures like Hillary Clinton have lamented in the past, “We are in an information war and we are losing that war.” For the first time in history, populations have broad access to alternative news angles – points of view that they likely find of a more balanced nature. Gone is the unchallenged monopoly on the public mind.

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Book Review, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

Huawei CFO Detained in Canada to Face Fraud Charges in US

Sputnik – December 7, 2018

Canadian prosecutors said Friday that the US is seeking the extradition of Huawei Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Meng Wanzhou on suspicion of engaging in conspiracies to defraud multiple financial institutions and contravene US sanctions on Iran.

It isn’t clear how many charges she faces, but each one carries a maximum sentence of 30 years behind bars.

Meng, the Chinese telecommunication giant’s CFO and deputy board chair, was arrested in Vancouver on Saturday but the US Department of Justice did not announce the arrest until Wednesday. Canada’s Globe and Mail broke the story, based on law enforcement sources, that she had been arrested for violating US sanctions against Iran.

A gag order, or as it is called in Canada, a publication ban, was imposed on Meng’s case. Several media outlets have challenged the gag in court. That ban was eventually lifted by a judge in Vancouver, BBC reports.

The court is still considering whether it will grant Meng bail. The Canadian government prosecutor has told the judge Meng has substantial resources in China and is a flight risk.

The prosecutor alleged that Meng deceived American lawyers regarding the connection between the company SkyCom and Huawei. Using SkyCom as a secret proxy, Huawei sold products to Iran in breach of US sanctions between 2009 and 2014.

Huawei is the second-largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer in the world, Sputnik News reported.

The US has introduced a number of measures to curb the flow of technology from Huawei and another telecom manufacturer, ZTE Corp, believing that the Chinese government have could used the tech for surveillance in the past year. Huawei products have also been banned by the Pentagon from being sold on US military bases.

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , | 2 Comments

Hamas thanks UN member states for foiling US draft resolution

Palestine Information Center – December 7, 2018

GAZA – The Hamas Movement has expressed its appreciation to all the countries that opposed on Thursday the US-drafted resolution on the Palestinian resistance at the UN General Assembly and defended the justice of the Palestinian cause.

In a statement, Hamas stressed that the real terrorism that must be confronted and condemned by all countries is Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian land.

The Palestinian resistance movement called for condemning Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian land, its displacement of millions of Palestinians from their areas and homes, the massacres and crimes it had committed against them, its Judaization activities in Jerusalem, its construction of settlements, and its refusal to allow Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.

Hamas also urged the countries that voted for the US draft resolution at the General Assembly to reconsider their positions and correct what it described as “the historic and dangerous mistake against the oppressed Palestinian people.”

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | 6 Comments

Lebanese FM Orders Filing Compliant against Zionist Entity

Al-Manar | December 7, 2018

Lebanese Caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil ordered on Thursday the preparation of a complaint to the United Nations Security Council on the Israeli violations of Lebanese sovereignty.

National News Agency reported that Bassil has instructed Lebanon’s permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador Amal Mudallali, to submit a complaint against the Zionist entity on this matter.

The Lebanese complaint “comes in light of Israeli political and diplomatic campaign in preparation for a military aggression on Lebanon,” NNA quoted a statement by Lebanese Foreign Ministry as saying.

The statement also referred to Israeli violations of Lebanese Mobile network in which the Israeli occupation army sent voice messages to residents of southern town of Kfar Kela warning them of explosions in the Lebanese territory, according to the Lebanese agency.

The Foreign Ministry’s order follows an operation launched by Israel Tuesday to ‘cut off’ what it called ‘attack tunnels’ allegedly dug by Hezbollah in a bid to infiltrate into the Palestinian occupied territories.

In addition to the latest development on the southern border, the Zionist entity has been violating Lebanese airspace and territorial waters for years. A Lebanese Army official previously said that 162 Israeli violations were recorded in south Lebanon in September, including land and maritime infringements, as well as wall-building works, according to a Defense Ministry statement in October.

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

‘Arrogant jingoist policy’: Lavrov blasts Washington’s request to arrest Huawei CFO

RT | December 7, 2018

Washington’s “revolting” policy of stretching its own criminal laws to other countries’ territories has to end, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said as Huawei’s top executive faces extradition to the US.

Lavrov slammed America’s habit of applying its laws “extraterritorially” and dubbed it “revolting to the vast majority of normal states and normal people.”

The minister’s outrage follows the recent arrest of Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver, Canada.The businesswoman, who is also the daughter of the company’s founder, was apprehended on Sunday at the request of the US, and is now facing extradition. The charges levied against Meng remain unknown, but it is believed they relate to possible violations of US sanctions placed on Iran.

Talking to reporters at an OSCE event in Milan, Lavrov said that Washington’s approach has no support in the world and alienates the US’ own partners.

Chinese diplomats protested Meng’s arrest, saying that she didn’t violate any US or Canadian laws.

The Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson, Geng Shuang, demanded that Washington and Ottawa clarify the reasons behind the executive’s detention and “immediately” release her. Chinese officials also said that the arrest itself “seriously harmed the human rights of the victim.”

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , | 1 Comment

The Return of the Nicaraguan Contras, and the Rise of the Pro-Contra Left

By Dan Kovalik | CounterPunch | December 7, 2018

According to our nation’s paper of record, the New York Times, the Nicaraguan Contras re-activated some time ago in order to take on their old foe, Daniel Ortega, who had been re-elected in 2007 after a long hiatus of 17 years. One may recall that it was the pressure of the Contras, and their brutal terrorist tactics, which were critical to unseating Ortega from office the first time back in 1990.

Just as a refresher, the Contras (short for “counterrevolutionaries”) were made up largely of the National Guardsmen of the US-backed dictator, Anastasio Somoza. After the successful 1979 revolution against Somoza – a revolution led by Ortega and the FSLN (or, Sandinistas) — the CIA organized the Guardsmen into the Contras and trained, armed and directed them for the purpose of undermining the fledgling Sandinista government. The Contras, with the direct encouragement of the CIA, carried out various terrorist acts which included the torture, rape and murder of civilians and the destruction of key civilian infrastructure. All told, around 30,000 Nicaraguans died in the 1980’s as a result of the US-backed Contra War.

The Contras, after effectively exhausting the Nicaraguan people and extorting them into voting Ortega out of office in 1990, largely disarmed. However, as the Times wrote back in March of 2016 in a laudatory piece about the Contras’ return, this changed sometime after Ortega’s re-election in 2007. The Times piece begins as follows:

He calls himself Tyson, wears tattered United States Army fatigues and carries a beat-up AK-47.

He is a rebel fighter in the mountains of Nicaragua, setting ambushes against President Daniel Ortega’s government and longing for the days when covert American funding paid for overt warfare.

Tyson and his men are contras — yes, like the ones from the 1980s who received stealth funding during the Reagan administration to topple Mr. Ortega’s leftist Sandinista government.   . . .

The contras of today, often nicknamed “the rearmed,” are a shadow of what they once were. . . .

Still, skirmishes in rural areas around the country as recently as last week have left police officers, civilians and soldiers dead, a violent expression of the broader anger brewing against the government.

In this same article, the Times acknowledges that “Mr. Ortega enjoys strong support among the poor . . . .” And of course, this makes absolute sense given Ortega’s enlightened social policies. As the website Popular Resistance explains,

these policies have yielded the highest growth rate in Central America and annual minimum wage increases 5-7% above inflation, improving workers’ living conditions and lifting people out of poverty. The anti-poverty Borgen project reports poverty fell by 30 percent between 2005 and 2014.

The FSLN-led government has put into place an economic model based on public investment and strengthening the safety net for the poor. The government invests in infrastructure, transit, maintains water and electricity within the public sector and moved privatized services, e.g., health care and primary education, into the public sector. This has ensured a stable economic structure that favors the real economy over the speculative economy. The lion’s share of infrastructure in Nicaragua has been built in the last 11 years, something comparable to the New Deal-era in the US, including renewable electricity plants across the country.

Still, according to the Times, the Contras re-emerged in response to what they viewed as Ortega’s over-consolidation of power.

Meanwhile, the Times was not the only one writing about these rearmed Contras. Indeed, over the years, there have been a number of reports about these Contras. According to a 2013 article in Insight Crime, for example, “estimates of the numbers of rearmed contras have varied from dozens to hundreds, and even thousands . . . .” This article explained that eight people had recently been killed as a result of Contra activity in northern Nicaragua near the Honduran border.

For his part, Tim Rogers, a viciously anti-Sandinista journalist, has been writing for years about the phenomenon of the rearmed Contras. For example, in a 2014 piece, Rogers wrote:

A deadly midnight ambush targeting government supporters in northern Nicaragua has stirred the sleeping dogs of war and raised new fears of a pending military campaign against rearmed guerrillas hiding in the mountains.

Five people were killed and 19 injured early Sunday morning in what appears to be a coordinated series of attacks against Sandinista party members traveling by bus through the mountainous coffee-growing region of Matagalpa, one of the main battlegrounds of Nicaragua’s civil war in the 1980s.Video

The buses, filled with pro-government supporters returning from Managua after a day of celebrating the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution, were fired on indiscriminately from the darkened shoulder of the road by unidentified men armed with AK-47s.

This very sort of attack against Sandinista rank and file members was played out time and again over this past summer during the three-month-long crisis which received significant media attention. Indeed, when I was in Managua this past July for the anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution, I was told that, contrary to traditional practice, there would not be buses sent to Managua from other parts of the country for the celebration for fear of such attacks.

And yet, while the mainstream press covered the crisis in Nicaragua this past summer with rapt attention, and while Tim Rogers himself published a number of pieces in the mainstream press about it, there was not one whisper about the rearmed Contras, nor was there coverage of the regular assaults against Sandinista rank and file – attacks which included torture, rape and murder. Instead, we were told by the mainstream press, and by most of the “left-wing” press as well, only of peaceful protesters being attacked by an allegedly repressive Sandinista government. And, when people were killed by sniper attacks, we were told that it had to be government security forces because the opposition used only peaceful means, and, in any case, did not have the capacity to carry out such assaults.

Just as the devil was able to do about his own existence, the greatest feat accomplished in this instance was to convince the public that the rearmed Contras did not exist. Of course, this is not a difficult task given that most Americans’ historical memory is about 24 hours.

What is most deeply disappointing and frustrating, however, is that most of the American left, which presumably should know better, has also fallen for this devil’s trick, and has quickly leapt to join in the right-wing chorus calling for the removal of Ortega and the Sandinistas from office. This despite the fact that, as journalist Max Blumenthal explained, there is clear evidence that the US itself has been behind the violent push to unseat Ortega. As Blumenthal related, on May 1, 2018, a publication funded by the Cold War-era National Endowment for Democracy (NED) “bluntly asserted that organizations backed by the NED have spent years and millions of dollars ‘laying the groundwork for insurrection’” which took place over the summer. And, the US AID just announced that it will continue this work by sending another $4 million to support opposition civil society groups in Nicaragua.

What’s more, as far back as 2012, former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst Wayne Madsen was not only writing about the rearmed Contras but also about the US and Israeli support for them. While Madsen can sometimes be prone to conspiracy theories which do not always pan out, his claims back then about this particular subject seem spot on and indeed quite prescient.

Thus, in his 2012 book, The Manufacturing of a President, Madsen claims, based upon his numerous intelligence sources, that the CIA and Mossad have both been funding these rearmed Contras, and that they have been shipping these Contras arms over both the Honduran and Costa Rican borders. He claims also that the Honduran government which came to power through the 2009 coup – a coup which the Obama Administration actively aided and abetted to unseat a leftist government which, by the way, happened to be friendly to Ortega – has been key to helping both support the Contras as well as to provide a staging ground for the covert operations to bring down the Sandinista government. In other words, Honduras is playing the very same role it did in the 1980s, and the US-backed coup in 2009 – a mere 2 years after Ortega was elected – was crucial to this role.

And, just last week, in a further attempt to unseat Ortega, the US Senate finally passed the NICA Act which will cut Nicaragua off from all international financing – financing which the Ortega government has been using to effectively combat poverty in Nicaragua. The NICA Act has been in the works for some time, and Nicaraguan opposition forces, including the Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS), have openly been lobbying for this. This, however, has not stopped most of the left in the US, who obviously have not been impressed with Ortega’s successful social programs and his real support for the poor, from cheerleading and romanticizing these very same opposition forces.

The result of the NICA Act sanctions will be massive suffering for the poor of Nicaragua who support Ortega the most. These sanctions will be particularly painful after the crisis this past summer in which the opposition managed to trash the economy along with substantial civilian infrastructure (just as the Contras had done in the 1980s). And, should Ortega be unseated as a result of all this, it will most certainly be the violent and most right-wing portion of the opposition which will take power, for it is they who have the resolve and the means to do so.

But, guided by the new religion of “humanitarian interventionism,” the pro-imperialist left of the US is indifferent to the consequences of their support, whether explicit or tacit, of Western imperial aggression.  Just as many on the US left cheered on the NATO invasion of Libya – an invasion which inevitably left that country broken and with slaves being sold openly on the streets – they now applaud the counterrevolution taking place in Nicaragua. This shows once again that the US left has a very high tolerance for the suffering of Third World peoples so long as they feel that this suffering is endured for the sake of their own abstract notions of human rights.

Daniel Kovalik teaches International Human Rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. He is also author of the newly-released, The Plot to Control the World:  How the US has Spent Billions to Change the Outcome of Elections Around the World.

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US Geological Survey Discovers in Texas Largest Ever Domestic Oil, Gas Resources

Sputnik – 07.12.2018

WASHINGTON – The US Geological Survey assessed that the Bone Spring Formation in Texas and Wolfcamp Shale in New Mexico contain the largest oil and natural gas potential ever found, the Department of the Interior said in a press release on Thursday.

“[T]he Wolfcamp Shale and overlying Bone Spring Formation in the Delaware Basin portion of Texas and New Mexico’s Permian Basin province contain an estimated mean of 46.3 billion barrels of oil, 281 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 20 billion barrels of natural gas liquids,” the release said.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke celebrated the assessment by saying that the United States has a lot of energy and the country’s dominance in the energy sector is now proven.

The Wolfcamp shale in the Midland Basin portion of the Texas Permian Basin province has been examined by the US Geological Survey in 2016.

The organization concluded then that the formation contained an estimated mean of 20 billion barrels of oil, 16 trillion cubic feet of associated natural gas and 1.6 billion barrels of natural gas liquids.

The US Geological Survey’s new assessment said that the resources in the two formations are twice larger than those in the Midland Basin. The Interior Department credited the use of modern technologies, such as hydraulic fracturing and directional drilling, for being able to effectuate a greater energy potential.

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | | 2 Comments