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Trudeau’s Government Accused of Trying to Buy Election Coverage with New Bill

Sputnik – 19.05.2019

Justin Trudeau’s government has been accused of trying to buy media support and undermining the free press by launching a $600 million taxpayer-funded bailout aiming to give tax credits and other incentives for Canadian newspapers.

A bill introducing the initiative, which aims to “support Canadian journalism” struggling in the digital age, is expected to pass the Canadian Parliament in the next few months, ahead of the general election in October.

“I think Trudeau’s timing has been brilliant. He’s made it an election issue for journalists. The implication is ‘Help me get back in and we’ll give you a big pile of cash — allow me to be defeated and you’ll be paying your own bills’,” Pierre Poilievre, a Conservative MP, told The Sunday Telegraph.

The plan suggests that the division of funds will be decided by an independent panel of members from the “news and journalism community” appointed by the government.

“Trudeau wants to define what constitutes acceptable journalism, and then give money to those who meet that definition. Over time it will create a highly dependent group of liberal-minded journalists with a vested interest to keep the Liberals in power. Everyone who wants to pay their mortgage will have to be careful what they write,” Poilievre added.

Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau argued that the initiative “would “protect the vital role that the independent news media plays in our democracy,” and would help save local newspapers struggling in the age of digital content.

The initiative is viewed as controversial in the Canadian media as well. Paul Godfrey, chief executive of Postmedia, which publishes Canada’s National Post, the Vancouver Sun, and the Montreal Gazette, has called it a “turning point in the plight of newspapers” and suggested journalists should be “doing victory laps.” However, Andrew Coyne, a National Post columnist, has warned that the bill will “irrevocably politicise the press” and suggested that in the end the media could become copies of the government-funded Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

The Canadian Association of Broadcasters also said in a letter to the government that it was “hugely disappointed” that they were not included in the initiative despite the decline in revenues due to the domination of internet content.

The funding is expected to be spread over five years. Around $360 million of it will be in the form of a tax credit publishers can claim that is linked to journalists’ salaries, up to a maximum of $13,750 a year for each employee in a newsroom. Another tax credit will be linked to the number of subscribers to newspapers’ websites, and non-profit media groups will be able to claim charitable status.

Raynell Andreychuk, the Conservative chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told a hearing this week: “Selection committees appointed by the government [means] we’re intruding on the freedom of the press. It may not be our intention, it’s the survival of newspapers. [But] to me it’s very dangerous ground.”

May 18, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | 1 Comment

CrossTalk: Bolton War Machine

RT | May 17, 2019

Is Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton a clear and present danger to America and the world? His saber-rattling in the Middle East, particularly against Iran, should concern us all. We are forced to ask a fundamental question – is Bolton the primary architect of Trump’s foreign policy?

May 18, 2019 Posted by | Video, Wars for Israel | , , | 2 Comments

Widespread US face surveillance is ‘imminent reality’, says tech privacy report

RT | May 18, 2019

Georgetown researchers are warning Americans about a sophisticated real-time face surveillance system that’s about to become an “imminent reality” for millions of citizens across the country.

The ‘America Under Watch’ report is a warning that authorities in select US cities may soon be able to pick you out from a crowd, identify you, and trace your movements via a secret network of cameras constantly capturing images of your face.

The report claims both Detroit and Chicago purchased software from a South Carolina company, DataWorks Plus, that gives police the ability to scan live video from cameras located at businesses, health clinics, schools, and apartment buildings. Both cities say they are not currently using the technology.

DataWorks says it provides software which “provides continuous screening and monitoring of live video streams.” The system is also designed to operate on “not less than 100 concurrent video feeds.”

According to the research team’s report, live footage is captured by cameras installed around Detroit as part of Project Green Light, a public-private initiative to deter crime which launched in 2016. The expanse of the police department’s facial recognition policy last summer, however, means the face recognition technology can now be connected to any live video, including security cameras, drone footage, and body-worn cams.

Illinois, meanwhile, is host to one of the most advanced biometric surveillance systems in the country, the report claims, adding that the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and the Chicago Transit Authority have had face surveillance capabilities since “at least 2016.”

Similar face surveillance is also apparently on the horizon for NYC, Orlando, and DC.

The report authors, Clare Garvie and Laura M. Moy, are now calling for a “complete moratorium on police use of face recognition” to give communities a chance to decide whether they want to be monitored in their streets and neighborhoods.

Last week, San Francisco became the first US city to ban facial recognition software used by police and other municipal agencies.

May 18, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Sinking Credibility of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons

By Rob Slane | The Blog Mire | May 18, 2019

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is supposed to be a neutral international body, without political or national affiliation. It is meant to go where the facts lead it, regardless of any pressures from powerful people and countries to produce reports that might favour their cause and exonerate their actions.

I have long suspected that it has ceased to be such an organisation. There has been an increasingly obvious pattern to alleged chemical weapons attacks, whereby an incident occurs, the Western powers — chiefly the United States, United Kingdom and France — respond, and then the OPCW later produces a report that essentially backs up their claims, but in very dubious ways.

For example, on 4th April 2017, an alleged chemical incident took place in Khan Sheikhoun in Syria. The White House released a four page intelligence report just one week later, which stated the following:

“The United States is confident that the Syrian regime conducted a chemical weapons attack, using the nerve agent sarin, against its own people in the town of Khan Shaykhun in southern Idlib Province on April 4, 2017. According to observers at the scene, the attack resulted in at least 50 and up to 100 fatalities (including many children), with hundreds of additional injuries.

We have confidence in our assessment because we have signals intelligence and geospatial intelligence, laboratory analysis of physiological samples collected from multiple victims, as well as a significant body of credible open source reporting, that tells a clear and consistent story.”

What they didn’t state is that they had no direct intelligence on the ground, but relied on hearsay, much of it from that “open source” reporting (i.e. internet speculation). And of course there’s a very good reason why they did not have intelligence on the ground, namely that the area was (and still is) controlled by jihadist organisations. Nevertheless, despite the fact that the case against the Assad Government was at that time entirely dependent on information coming from Islamist terrorist organisations, it was apparently enough for the United States to bomb the country, which it did on 7th April 2017, just three days after the incident. Thankfully, there were few casualties as most of the 59 Tomahawk missiles fired didn’t make it to their intended targets, either being shot down or — very probably — taken off course by advanced Russian military electronic jamming equipment.

So the order of things was incident, accusations, bombing, and then release of “intelligence” based on the internet and information released by jihadists. All that was then needed to justify these actions retrospectively was the OPCW report, and this was subsequently released on 29th June 2017.

Peter Hitchens has dealt very thoroughly with that report (here), and the most crucial point about it is that it essentially broke the OPCW’s own rules by failing to establish chain of custody. Instead, the alleged evidence, rather than being gathered from the scene of the incident by the OPCW, was passed to them 2nd or perhaps even 3rd hand. And of course the reason for this is that its investigators were not able to enter the area where the incident was said to have taken place, because it was occupied by al-Qaeda affiliated organisations — the same people who presumably passed on the evidence which ended up in the OPCW’s hands.

Interestingly enough, the OPCW’s inspectors were invited by the Syrian Government to the al Shayrat airbase where the planes, which allegedly dropped chemical munitions, had taken off. But they didn’t take them up on that offer. Make of that what you will.

It is vital to the OPCW’s whole remit and credibility that they visit the sites of alleged attacks in order to secure evidence under full chain of custody. Where they are unable to do this, they should simply say so and refuse to pronounce confidently on what happened. Yet despite not having visited either Khan Sheikhoun, or the al Sharyat airbase, and despite not having full chain of custody, a subsequent report released in October 2017 did indeed pronounce confidently:

“Based on the foregoing, the Leadership Panel is confident that the Syrian Arab Republic is responsible for the release of sarin at Khan Shaykhun on 4 April 2017.”

Ignoring its own guidelines to produce such a confident conclusion is enough by itself to call into question the organisation’s impartiality and credibility. But whatever credibility the organisation still possessed after this has now been torn to shreds by the recent leak of a Fact Finding Mission (FFM) Engineering Assessment in the case of another alleged chemical attack, this time in Douma last year.

As you will hopefully recall, the town of Douma was about to be retaken by the Syrian Government from the jihadists who controlled it. Shortly before it was retaken, an alleged chemical incident occurred, in which some 35 civilians were said to have died. The Western powers immediately jumped on it, accusing the Syrian Government of responsibility, and photographs of two canisters allegedly containing a toxic substance, which it was said were dropped from Syrian aircraft, were shown around the world as if supporting the claim.

We can now be confident that the claim is false. What is more, it appears that the OPCW has known full well that the claim is false, but has said nothing publicly about it. According to the FFM Engineering Assessment dated February 2019, the scenario of the canisters being dropped by aircraft is implausible:

“At this stage the FFM engineering sub-team cannot be certain that the cylinders at either location arrived there as a result of being dropped from an aircraft. The dimensions, characteristics and appearances of the cylinders and the surrounding scene of the incidents, were inconsistent with what would have been expected in the case of either cylinder having been delivered from an aircraft. In each case the alternative hypothesis produced the only plausible explanation for observations at the scene.

In summary, observations at the scene of the two locations, together with subsequent analysis, suggest that there is a higher probability that both cylinders were manually placed at those two locations rather than being delivered from aircraft [my emphasis].”

You can read more about this by going to the site of the group to whom this report was leaked (here) and also to Peter Hitchens’s blog, where he reports on his interactions with the OPCW, which unwittingly confirm the authenticity of the FFM report (here).

The OPCW’s final report on the Douma incident makes no reference to this FFM Engineering report. Why not? The only reasonable conclusion is that it was omitted because its inclusion would have totally undermined the narrative tirelessly propagated by the Governments of the United States, United Kingdom and France, as well as the entirety of the Western mainstream media (Global Pravda), and so would have shown the actions of those countries to be utterly immoral, illegal and reckless.

And so one cannot help but think that:

A) The OPCW has been utterly compromised and/or pressurised by those same Governments and

B) A certain individual or individuals in the organisation has been disturbed enough by this to take the risk of leaking information to expose the truth.

It is a solemn and sobering fact that the reaction to the Douma incident could very well have led to a conflict between the United States and Russia. In the aftermath, when the Unites States, the United Kingdom and France were all releasing statements of their intentions, the Russian military warned in no uncertain terms that if the missiles were targeted towards their servicemen, they would not only destroy the missiles but the carriers from which they were fired. They were deadly serious. I have heard unconfirmed rumours that they had MiG-31s loaded with the new hypersonic Kinzhal missiles in the area, ready to sink the vessels firing the missiles should they feel that their military personnel were under threat.

Thankfully there are still some minds left in the Pentagon that are not intoxicated by power, and — so I hear — General James “Mad Dog” Mattis in particular, the then Secretary of Defense, was instrumental in turning what looked like it would be a massive bombardment, possibly targeting areas where Russian servicemen were located, to a much smaller 100-odd missiles, mostly token shots into non-strategic sites, the majority of which were shot down. In other words, Mattis and co may well have averted World War III, but did so in a way that allowed the warmongering leadership of the three nations to save face in their illegal action.

The OPCW’s credibility as an impartial international organisation now lies in tatters. Both the Khan Sheikhoun report with its conclusions without chain of custody, and now even more so the Douma report, which failed to include expert evidence that contradicted its public conclusions, now stand as testimony against the trustworthiness of the organisation. It hardly needs to be said that this is a great shame, not just for international relations in general, but also for those many people who work for it who are undoubtedly still committed to scientific enquiry and impartial judgement.

I cannot leave this piece without asking questions about the other major cases of late involving the OPCW, namely the Salisbury and Amesbury poisonings. In both incidents, the OPCW did not release final reports to the public, but a summary of their findings, which you can find here and here. I must say I have never been particularly convinced by these documents. In both cases, the language always struck me as being somewhat evasive.

For instance, neither Summary actually names the substance involved. In fact, in neither case does it confirm the use of a nerve agent. Point one in the summary of the Salisbury case states the following:

“The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland requested technical assistance from the OPCW Technical Secretariat (hereinafter “the Secretariat”) under subparagraph 38(e) of Article VIII of the Chemical Weapons Convention in relation to an incident in Salisbury on 4 March 2018 involving a toxic chemical — allegedly a nerve agent — and the poisoning and hospitalisation of three individuals. The Director-General decided to dispatch a team to the United Kingdom for a technical assistance visit (TAV).”

Allegedly a nerve agent? Which one? Do we find out? Not a bit of it. Point number 10 states the following:

“The results of analysis by the OPCW designated laboratories of environmental and biomedical samples collected by the OPCW team confirm the findings of the United Kingdom relating to the identity of the toxic chemical that was used in Salisbury and severely injured three people.”

Confirm the findings of the United Kingdom? Which United Kingdom? The Government of the United Kingdom? The intelligence agencies of the United Kingdom? The scientists at Porton Down in the United Kingdom? This is important. The fact is that none of these entities has ever stated what that substance actually is. Instead, they have continued to use the slippery word “Novichok”, but since this is simply a word meaning “newcomer”, and since it doesn’t refer to a substance but rather a group of substances, and since the group of substances falling under the “Novichok” umbrella has never been properly defined and is elastic enough to include pretty much anything and everything the accusing authorities want it to mean, it is, to all intents and purposes, meaningless.

Which is almost certainly why the OPCW not only avoids referring to it in its Summary as “Novichok”, and also why they also fail to confirm it was actually a nerve agent, referring to it throughout as a “toxic chemical”. And whilst they say that it was the same “toxic chemical” identified by the United Kingdom, because the United Kingdom has never publicly identified the substance, this is essentially circular argumentation. Indeed, it reads more like obfuscation than scientific precision.

In the summary of the Amesbury case, things get even more suspect. Again, the phrase “toxic chemical” is used throughout, and again there is no mention of “Novichok” much less the precise type. Like Salisbury, there is only one mention of the word “nerve agent”, but this time it is very odd:

“The toxic chemical compound, which displays the toxic properties of a nerve agent, is the same toxic chemical that was found in the biomedical and environmental samples relating to the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal and Mr Nicholas Bailey on 4 March 2018 in Salisbury (S/1612/2018, dated 12 April 2018) [my emphasis].”

Which displays the toxic properties of a nerve agent? What is that supposed to mean? Isn’t this a mighty strange way of referring to an apparently identified nerve agent?

Think about it. If you tested a substance in a laboratory and found it to be sulphuric acid, and if you were then writing a report about it, would you say that “it is an acid” or that it “displays the properties of an acid?” If you were to write that the substance you had found “displays the properties of acid,” and you never actually gave it a name, my reaction would be to assume that it was something a bit like acid, but not actually acid itself.

It might be argued that since the substance was not on the OPCW database, they simply refer to it as “displaying the properties of a nerve agent.” But this won’t do. The United Kingdom assured the world that it was a nerve agent, and despite inferring that only one country possessed it, they somehow managed to identify it within a day of the initial incident in Salisbury. So why does the OPCW appear to hedge its bets and only say that it “displays the properties of a nerve agent?”, rather than “it is a nerve agent”? I may be wrong, but it seems to me that this statement is more likely the result of compromise between factions in the OPCW, than it is a statement of scientific certainty.

Another very suspect issue in the Summary of the Salisbury report is the fact that it does not mention where the OPCW team conducted its sampling. It is extremely vague, simply stating:

“The team was able to conduct on-site sampling of environmental samples under full chain of custody at sites identified as possible hot-spots of residual contamination. Samples were returned to the OPCW Laboratory for subsequent analysis by OPCW designated laboratories.”

Sites identified as possible hotspots? Such as? We aren’t told, which is very odd, because you might assume that a vital part of the mission would include establishing where the poison was located, and where it was initially placed. But for this we have to turn to the letter sent to the Secretary General of NATO by the UK’s head of national security, Sir Mark Sedwill. Here’s what he said:

“DSTL [Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down] scientific analysis found that Sergey and Yulia Skripal were poisoned using a specific Novichok nerve agent. OPCW’s analysis confirmed the findings of the United Kingdom relating to the identity of the toxic chemical. This was found in environmental samples taken at the scene and in biomedical samples from both Skripals and police sergeant Nick Bailey, the first responder.

DSTL established that the highest concentrations were found on the handle of Mr Skripal’s front door. These are matters of fact. But, of course, the DSTL analysis does not identify the country or laboratory of origin of the agent used in this attack.”

According to Mr Sedwill, the highest concentrations of the toxic chemical were found on the handle of Mr Skripal’s front door. But crucially he states that this was established by DSTL, and he does not mention that this was confirmed by the OPCW. So did the OPCW visit the house and swab the door? If not, why not? Surely if the DSTL had already established the door handle as the place with the highest concentration of the substance, then you’d expect the OPCW to have visited the house, and that they would have included a mention of the door handle as being the place with the highest concentrations of the “toxic chemical” in their Summary. But they do not, talking instead about “possible hotspots”. On the other hand, if they did visit it, is it credible that they would have asked no serious questions about why the house had not been sealed off in the aftermath of the incident, and whether anyone had been in and out of the house after the alleged poisoning?

Had they asked that question, the honest answer would have been of course be yes, people did go in and out, and they did so unprotected. Here’s what Karen Gardner, a reporter for BBC Radio Wiltshire, said in her broadcast from outside Mr Skripal’s house on 6th March 2018 (two days after the incident):

“It’s a well-kept house, it’s got a horse shoe on the front door, beautifully presented bay trees in pots in the side of the windows. At the moment there’s quite a lot of activity. When I arrived, there were six or seven police officers and PCSOs coming out of the door. Some of those have left, a couple more have arrived. There is a visible presence outside the house, and severe frowning when I walk too close. A lot of the windows are open and I did see coffee flasks and provisions and empty boxes and things brought out, so it looks like there was a lot of activity late last night overnight [my emphasis].”

In a follow up report to mark the one year anniversary of the case, she had this to say:

“When I was here a year ago, I watched Wiltshire police officers with no or minimal protective clothing going in and out that front door. They were carrying coffee flasks. They appeared to have had refreshments in the house overnight. That was two days after the Skripals had collapsed, at the point the Met had taken over the investigation, shouldn’t those officers have been better protected?

That last question is the wrong one. It is not “shouldn’t they have been better protected”, but rather “given that they weren’t protected, how on earth did they not become contaminated by the substance which was apparently on the door handle and which, according to the OPCW, was high purity, persistent and resistant to weather?”

Let’s not beat about the bush here. Unless the laws of science were suspended in Salisbury during the month of March 2018, the idea that a toxic chemical was placed on the door handle on 4th March, that police officers entered the house after that time, and then weeks later the substance was found at the door in high purity, persistent and weather resistant form, as the OPCW claimed, is fairyland. Perhaps this is why the OPCW report fails to mention where the samples were taken, much less that the highest quantities of the substance were apparently on the door handle and door. But it seems to me that as an organisation with a remit to investigate such incidents, it has failed to ask even the most basic questions about the aftermath, and it has failed to use precise language about the substance and the locations where it was found. One can’t help but ask why this is.

As an aside, the BBC has announced that it is to make a drama about the case fairly soon. Quite apart from anything, this is plain wrong, since the investigation into the case is still ongoing. But I must say I look forward to that bit where the unprotected officers with their coffees and takeaway pizzas manage to get into the house via the door, but without using the door handle, which as you will be aware is normally a necessary part of getting in and out of houses.

In summary, suspicions that the OPCW has now been fatally compromised, utterly politicised and cannot be relied upon to be impartial, which surfaced during the Khan Sheikhoun incident, have now been shown to be absolutely true by the Douma case. Given that this is so, and given the wishy-washy, round the houses language used in their reports into Salisbury and Amesbury, why should anyone believe that this organisation has been impartial and thorough in these cases, or that they will be so in any future cases?

May 18, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Venezuelan Embassy Besiegers Were ‘Elite’, Sought Gains from US Intervention

Sputnik – May 18, 2019

The angry mob of Venezuelan expatriates who laid siege to the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, DC, earlier this month was composed of numerous figures with close ties to the inner structures of the US empire and who stood to benefit financially from a coup d’etat in Venezuela, investigative journalists told Sputnik Friday.

During the nearly three-week-long siege of the Embassy Protection Collective by opposition forces, numerous instances of harassment and violence were documented, including bigoted comments and slurs, physical struggles and the use of tools such as scuba lights, laser pointers and air horns to harass and intimidate the anti-war activists.

As journalists began to look into the footage, they also began to wonder: who are these people that form the Venezuelan opposition?

​The struggle at the embassy, in Washington, DC’s historic Georgetown district, was essentially an extension of the struggle inside Venezuela. Since January 23, Juan Guaido has presumed to be Venezuela’s interim president — an office he’s recognized as occupying by the US and about 50 other nations, but which has no meaning on the ground in Caracas, where Guaido commands relatively few followers. Even internationally, three-quarters of the globe’s countries, as well as key international institutions like the United Nations and International Monetary Fund, continue to recognize Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who was re-elected to a second term in May 2018.

Jeb Sprague, a lecturer at the University of Virginia and author of the forthcoming book “Globalizing the Caribbean: Political Economy Social Change and the Transnational Capitalist Class,” teamed up with journalist Alexander Rubinstein of MintPress News, who was embedded with the Embassy Protection Collective inside the embassy for nearly a month, including during the two-week period of the siege, from April 30 to May 13, to probe the internet for the identities of the people in the footage.

Their report, titled “Who’s Behind the Pro-Guaidó Crowd Besieging Venezuela’s DC Embassy?” was published on Thursday, just hours before US police stormed the facility and arrested the activists. Sprague spoke about their findings Friday with Radio Sputnik’s By Any Means Necessary.

The Embassy Protection Collective was formed on April 10 by anti-war activists in the United States who objected to Washington’s coup attempt in Venezuela and who saw the imminent delivery of the empty embassy to Guaido’s retinue as a major provocation that could lead to war. With the Maduro government’s permission and armed with international treaties recognizing the embassy’s legally inviolable status, the activists set up shop in the facility, where they soon came under attack by pro-Guaido protesters seeking to either storm the embassy or starve the collective out.

“In the beginning of their siege, their first week or two, they were really, extremely homophobic, racist — I mean, you don’t have to take my word for it, you can look on Twitter and in our article and all the links to all, you know, they are just videotaped, time after time, yelling out all this stuff,” Sprague said.

“But then what we found is they have these sort of like, PR/marketing strategists, people that came in after that initial period and they really tried to alter how people were perceiving that mob… and so you had media outlets like the New York Times, Vice Magazine… they came in. So, when they would come to the siege, there were these people who were put up by the mob for them to be interviewed.”

Sprague said one woman who became a “poster child for the pro-Guaido mob,” Dilianna C. Bustillos, “she’s actually a senior manager at Oracle, which is one of the largest companies in the world, a tech company that works with defense companies and makes like a $40 billion a year annual revenue… she’s a senior manager there. She previously volunteered with Visión Democrática, which is a pro-opposition group which is connected with a lot of the people who are working with Juan Guaido in DC.”

He noted many of the figures they identified were connected to a series of meetings at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a hawkish US think tank in Washington, DC, where pro-Guaido figures and shadow government officials helped plan a US invasion of Venezuela.

“They’ve started this website called ‘Ask a Venezuelan,’ and so, constantly on Twitter there’s like this mantra… they’re saying ‘ask a real Venezuelan,’ ‘ask a Venezuelan.’ And so, we started a thing called ‘Ask an Upper-Class Venezuelan;’ when we researched who they are — like the woman that founded that group, ‘Ask a Venezuelan,’ she has a $4 million a year company, and she had put out tweets supporting the guarimbas, which were these really violent protests, called for the US Marines to land in Venezuela. So one after another,” Sprague told hosts Eugene Puryear and Bob Schlehuber.

“And then we started looking at more of the people that were at the protests, and we found one guy who was a senior architect at Raytheon, the arms company. It was like, every time we looked at a person, their background in DC — two people that worked for CSIS, one that’s been working for the World Bank, another one for the Inter-American Development Bank — that guy actually got caught yelling out a lot of racist, sexist epithets.”

“One of the most interesting guys Cesar Caminero, we documented him as being there, and when I found his LinkedIn page, it said that he works for this tech company, and he does work for the [US Department of Defense], and he brags on his LinkedIn that he has this active secret clearance,” Sprague said. “And there’s this other guy who was doing tech work for US intelligence, so it was just fascinating that we could see just, one after another, people were either working with like, an international financial institution, an arms or military-oriented contractor or a hawkish think tank funded by the Gulf [monarchies] and big arms companies.”

“We figured out there’s this built-in base of these elite members, professional people in the diaspora, that basically advocate for regime change and escalation of conflict where they can really gain or benefit through US intervention,” Sprague said.

Indeed, Guaido himself is an alumnus of The George Washington University, located in Washington, DC’s Foggy Bottom neighborhood.

“Even if the embassy defenders got pushed out, I think it was still a victory in really illuminating the crimes of the Trump government and showing how violent these people are that they work with,” Sprague said.

May 18, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

America’s Most Pro-Israel Governor: Ron DeSantis Will Send More Florida Money to Israel

Governor Ron DeSantis Announces Actions to Affirm Florida’s Support of Israel. Credit:
By Philip Giraldi | American Herald Tribune | May 18, 2019

Ron DeSantis, Florida’s new governor, should be really proud of himself. He recently recalled that when he ran for governor “… [he] promised to be the most pro-Israel governor in America and that the first delegation [he] would lead would be to the state of Israel.” When he confirmed that he would be taking his entire cabinet with him as part of a 75-person delegation scheduled to leave for Israel on May 25th, he boasted that “Today I’m pleased to report that I’m keeping that promise. Our delegation will bring business, academic and political leaders to help strengthen the bond between Florida and Israel.” DeSantis has promised to hold a meeting of his Cabinet in the American Embassy in Jerusalem during his visit, the first time that such a meeting has ever been held by a state government on foreign soil. During the meeting he will ostentatiously sign a legislative bill “combating anti-Semitism.”

DeSantis has been playing the Israel and anti-Semitism cards throughout his political career. Last year, as a Congressman running for governor, he attacked his opponent Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum during their gubernatorial race as not being a “friend of Israel.” He based his charge on reports that Gillum had received support from the Dream Defenders, a group favoring Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, as well as once having given a speech welcoming members of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) to his city. DeSantis claimed in a video clip that “I can find anti-Semites around him, but it’s almost like ‘we don’t want to discuss that.’”

As a Congressman, DeSantis sponsored in 2013 the Palestinian Accountability Act which called for the withholding of U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority until it recognizes Israel as a Jewish state. In 2017, he co-founded the Congressional Israel Victory Caucus, saying “Israel is our strongest ally in the Middle East, as we share common national interests and possess similar national values. Israel is not the problem in the Middle East; it is the solution to many of the problems that bedevil the region. American policy must ensure that Israel emerges victorious against those who deny or threaten her existence.” Earlier this year, DeSantis drafted a proposal calling on the U.S. to recognize Syria’s Golan Heights as an ‘integral part’ of the State of Israel.

DeSantis boasted about his presence in Jerusalem when the U.S. Embassy was moved to that city one year ago and has promised that on his upcoming trip he will visit Israel’s illegal settlements on the West Bank, which he refers to by the preferred Israeli usage as “Judea and Samaria.” He has threatened critics that “If you boycott Israel, the state of Florida will boycott you” and threatened to “sanction” the holiday rental company Airbnb when it refused to offer properties located in the illegal Israeli settlements on the West Bank. DeSantis was also the driving force behind recently enacted legislation in his state to punish BDS supporters. The legislation is regarded as the most extreme among U.S. states, including explicit equation of criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. Another bill pending in Florida will enable citizens to sue teachers or government employees who in any way criticize Israel.

DeSantis, a former U.S. Navy lawyer, has demonstrated that he reveres Israel even more than his former comrades in arms. In his congressional district there were a number of survivors of the U.S.S. Liberty, which was attacked in international waters by Israel on June 8, 1967, killing 34 crewmen and injuring 171 more. They report that DeSantis has been completely unsympathetic to their requests that a commission of inquiry finally be convened to determine what actually happened on that day.

Regarding the upcoming visit, a local Florida radio station conducted an interview with Israeli Consul General in Miami Lior Haiat, who emphasized the economic benefits to be derived from the strong bilateral relationship, who said “The fact that the huge delegation is going from Florida to Israel is just a symbol that the outcome of this delegation will be seen in the relationship between Israel and Florida for years to come. Because this is just the beginning. We’re signing over 10 memorandums of understandings and agreements between Israeli companies and universities and the Floridian companies and universities. This is a huge bridge that Gov. DeSantis is building. We are happy to be part of it.”

Consul General Haiat also noted that “There is a lot of new technology based in Israel that is very relevant to Florida both on the red tide and algae, and we are already connecting Israeli companies with local authorities in able to find what is the most useful technology for that part.  But it’s also for the greening of oranges. This is a huge problem here. I think that the connection between Israel and Florida has a lot of potential since Israel has a lot of agricultural technology based on knowledge, and Florida has a huge sector of agriculture that can use that technology.”

The six days De Santis led boondoggle in Israel is funded by taxpayers. A public records request filed by a local newspaper seeking information on how much the trip would cost has not been responded to by the governor’s office. And the idea that the state of Florida and its citizens will benefit materially from the trip is largely an illusion. This mixing of politics and business interests is essentially corrupt and inevitably leads to abuses that do not serve the public interest, particularly as American citizens who stand to benefit both, directly and indirectly, are quite openly promoting the interests of a foreign nation.

The Florida trip is a perfect example of how Israel’s friends go about setting up mechanisms that will benefit the Jewish state. Israel will be selling its products and services to Florida, enabled by a government in place that is promoting the process and will steer contracts in its direction. In return, Florida will get little or nothing as Israel is a tiny market and has no particular need of anything that the Sunshine State produces.

All such trade agreements are designed to enrich Israel. The 1985 United States free trade agreement with Israel has benefitted the Jewish state by $144 billion, which is the U.S. deficit on the trade between 1985 and 2015. An interesting example of how this works at the state level and the abuse that it can produce has recently surfaced in Virginia, where a so-called Virginia-Israel Advisory Board (VIAB) has actually been funded by the Commonwealth of Virginia taxpayers to promote and even subsidize Israeli business in the state, business that currently runs an estimated $500 million per annum in favor of Israel. Grant Smith’s Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRMEP) has done considerable digging into the affairs of VIAB, which was ostensibly “created to foster closer economic integration between the United States and Israel while supporting the Israeli government’s policy agenda” with a charter defining its role as “advis[ing] the Governor on ways to improve economic and cultural links between the Commonwealth and the State of Israel, with a focus on the areas of commerce and trade, art and education, and general government.” Smith has observed that “VIAB is a pilot for how Israel can quietly obtain taxpayer funding and official status for networked entities that advance Israel from within key state governments.”

Florida does not yet have an equivalent of Virginia’s VIAB, but it probably does not need one as the pandering to Israel will be run right out of the governor’s office. So if you want to create jobs and exports for a foreign country at a cost to your own citizens, by all means, follow the DeSantis Florida model and send an expensive trade mission over to Jerusalem to sing the praises of Benjamin Netanyahu and his band of war criminals while also promoting “buy Israel.” But just maybe it would be a better idea to stop shilling for a foreign country. Floridians should insist on keeping the travel money here at home where it might actually do some good while also putting a little pressure on DeSantis, who was elected to serve the people of his state, to stop his unseemly boasting about being the “most pro-Israel governor in America.”

May 18, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 3 Comments

Media Stenography Turns Beheaded Saudi Protesters Into ‘Terrorism’

By Esha Krishnaswamy | FAIR | May 15, 2019

Saudi Arabia executed 37 men on April 23, as it announced in a press release in its official gazette. The first line of the release read, “Saudi Arabia said it executed 37 citizens last Tuesday after they were convicted of terrorism.”

A cursory Google search would have shown that this assertion was completely false. But many in the US press dutifully stenographed this claim into a headline:

  • “37 Saudis Executed for Terrorism-Related Crimes”: Time (4/23/19)
  • “Saudi Arabia Executes 37 in One Day for Terrorism”: New York Times (4/23/19)
  • “Saudi Arabia Beheads 37 Prisoners for Terrorism Crimes”: PBS NewsHour (4/23/19)

In fact, by looking at court documents from the Saudi government, we know that of these 37 men, 11 of them were accused of being “Iranian spies,” and 22 were accused of participating in a demonstration during the Arab Spring. (These 33 belonged to the Shia minority; the others practiced Sunni Islam or could not be identified.)

Time‘s headline (4/23/19) accepts the reality of the Saudi government charges against the people it executed–which weren’t even the actual charges they were convicted under

Of the 22 men accused of protesting, six were juveniles at the time. Mujtaba Al Suweikat was on his way to study at Western Michigan University when the Saudi authorities arrested him and charged him with “inciting disloyalty to the king.”

Saeed Mohammed Al Skafi was 17 during the protests. One of the charges against him was “posting pictures of other detainees.” Most of the others were convicted of offenses like “chanting disloyal slogans about the king” and “using social media to incite demonstrations.”

Of the 11 convicted of being Iranian spies, they were also found guilty of farcical offenses such as “condemning the bloodshed” (in February 2012, Saudi forces in the Shia-majority Saudi governorate of Qatif had sprayed protesters with bullets) and saving images and documents of the protests (which are also available on YouTube) on their hard drives.

Among the other four people executed, Khaled Al Tuwairji, a Sunni, was accused of killing Maj. Gen. Nasser Othman. However, all three outlets repeated that he was a “Sunni extremist,” for which we have no other evidence. Al Tuwairji was tortured into a confession (Erem News, 4/23/19).  But all three outlets justified his execution and subsequent crucifixion by insisting that he was a convicted Sunni militant.

Another of the Sunnis executed, Khaled Al Farraj, was convicted on the vague charge of being affiliated with an outlawed terrorist organization. But even according to Saudi state media, he didn’t engage in any acts of terrorism. He is the only one of the 37 people executed who seems to have been charged with a terrorism-related offense.

PBS NewsHour (4/23/19)

Having false information in the headlines is extremely prejudicial. Studies have repeatedly shown a large portion of readers do not read past the headlines–and those that do end up remembering the headline the most.

In its first version of the article, which has changed since then, the New York Times wrote of Saudi Arabia, “It listed the 37 men by name but provided little information about what specific crimes had been committed by whom or when.” Instead of relying on a Saudi press release, the Times could have tried a cursory web search–or even searched its own archives. In an article by the Times editorial board (8/3/17) nearly two years ago, it had a short biography of Mujtaba Al Suweikat, the “disloyal” Western Michigan student, and the specific crimes he had been charged with.

Though the Times article was edited after publication to include some information that didn’t come from the Saudi press release–citing a Human Rights Watch official’s concern that many of the cases “raised serious rights concerns,” for example–the revised article was still misleading. For example, in paragraph three, it stated, “Some men had been involved in bomb attacks on security headquarters that had killed officers, the [state news] agency said.” As far as we know, none of the 37 executed men had been involved in any bomb attacks, but the Times never challenged this Saudi government assertion.

Furthermore, the Times said that 14 of those killed had been arrested in relation to “sometimes violent protests.”  It failed to mention that that violence came from the Saudi government. This video, from July 2012, clearly shows Saudi police firing on unarmed protesters. In searching through the news archives, articles have repeatedly mentioned protesters being shot by the Saudi police. There appear to be no reports (outside Saudi propaganda statements) of violence emanating from the protesters.

The articles in the Times, Time magazine and the NewsHour all mentioned Saudi/Iranian relations, thereby amplifying longstanding Saudi propaganda that accuses Shia of being naturally loyal to Iran, which is blamed for  “stoking unrest” to justify brutal crackdowns of the religious minority.

All three outlets also added gratuitous details about the attack in Sri Lanka and/or other ISIS-related attacks–attacks that there’s no suggestion any of the defendants were connected to. In fact, most of these defendants were arrested before ISIS existed. And a majority of those killed, being Shiites, would be viewed by ISIS as heretics. To bring up these attacks seems like a distraction from the topic of the stories, which is the Saudi government beheading people who have for the most part been accused mainly of being dissidents.

May 18, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

US warns airlines risk ‘miscalculation or misidentification’ over Persian Gulf

RT | May 18, 2019

In a chilling reminder of the downing of Iran Air flight 655 by a US missile, an FAA notice said civilian aircraft flying over the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman are currently at risk of “miscalculation or misidentification.”

A Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) published by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) late on Thursday said the risk stems from “heightened military activities and increased political tensions” in the area. Airliners operating in the region may also “encounter inadvertent GPS interference and other communications jamming” the warning said.

The tension in the proximity of Iran comes as the US deployed additional military assets in the region, including an aircraft carrier strike group and a battery of Patriot anti-aircraft missiles. Washington said it was a response to an undefined threat posed by Iranian forces. The US also withdrew non-essential personnel from diplomatic missions in Iraq. The show of force was reportedly triggered by intelligence provided by Israel.

For some, the FAA warning may bring back the dark memory of the 1988 incident, in which an American guided missile destroyer shot down an Iranian airliner, killing 290 people on board. It happened two months after the US sunk an Iranian frigate and a gunboat in retaliation for an incident a few days earlier, in which a US warship struck an Iranian mine.

Washington said the crew of the USS Vincennes misidentified Iran Air flight 655 for a warplane trying to attack the warship and acted in self-defense. The government rejected accusations that US military service members had acted recklessly, with President George H.W. Bush infamously declaring: “I will never apologize for the United States – I don’t care what the facts are… I’m not an apologize-for-America kind of guy.”

The US did pay compensation to the families of the victims, but never accepted legal liability or apologized to Tehran.

May 18, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 2 Comments

US-Iran Showdown Is One False-Flag Attack Away From Global Calamity

By Robert Bridge | Strategic Culture Foundation | May 18, 2019

Hypocritical to the core, the execution of false-flag events spare aggressive states the ignominy of appearing in public as the warmongering psychopaths they are, lest their subjects get the wrong idea as to exactly who is governing over them.

The last thing tyrannical rulers want, after all, are battles raging on two fronts, especially if one of those fronts just happens to be back in the Heartland. Psychopaths are mentally deranged, of course, but that does not mean they are necessarily stupid.

Thus, once again, the United States is flying its jolly tricolors from the Mediterranean Sea into the Persian Gulf led by the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, as well as nuclear-capable B-52 bombers and a Patriot missile battery on standby. But America’s reputation as a rabble-rouser and hell raiser long preceded its entry into the Gulf, as did the frenetic rhetoric.

Just as the fleet was en route, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a warning that was so far beyond the pale of reality that it sounded as though it were scripted by a Hollywood film director with a penchant for embellishing American history.

“The response of the United States and our partners and allies has been clear: We do not seek war,” the statement reads. “But Iran’s forty years of killing American soldiers, attacking American facilities, and taking American hostages is a constant reminder that we must defend ourselves.”

Forty years of killing Americans? Really? That comment brought to mind Pompeo’s recent display of braggadocio as he reminisced over his former CIA days. “We lied, we cheated, we stole,” he confessed with a hearty chuckle to an audience from Texas A&M University last month. “We had entire training courses. It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment.”

Ah yes, the glory days. Next he’ll be shooting off about how he enjoys shaving with napalm in the morning, or some such nonsense.

In any case, the prospect of America’s leading diplomat who basically admits to being a bald-faced liar, and darn proud of it, delivering a fiery shot across the bow of the Iranian Republic at the same time a large US naval group is entering the Persian Gulf and Iran is struggling under severe sanctions does very little to instill much comfort or confidence.

One week before the US naval fleet turned up in Gulf waters, Pompeo was already laying the necessary groundwork for the buildup, saying that the US has observed “escalatory actions from the Iranians, and it is equally the case that we will hold the Iranians accountable for attacks on American interests,” he said, without providing any details. “If these actions take place — if they do by some third-party proxy, a militia group, Hezbollah — we will hold the Iranian leadership directly accountable for that.”

Now for anyone who followed the protracted Syrian crisis understands, that is exactly the sort of crazy talk that inspires friends and foes alike to pull off a false-flag attack that will force the United States to live up to its word and go after the villains, which will predictably be – as was the case following the chemical attacks against the Syrian rebels when the ‘Assad regime’ was duly blamed – the Islamic Republic of Iran.

So where did the information regarding a possible Iranian strike on some “American interest” derive? According to Axios, that news was delivered to National Security Advisor John Bolton by an Israeli delegation led by national security adviser Meir Ben Shabbat.

It is not too much of a stretch of the imagination to figure that the Israelis may have produced the report knowing full well that it would ratchet up tensions between Washington and Tehran, and more so when it is understood that the mad hatters Pompeo and Bolton figure into the calculus. Who knows? Perhaps they really do mean what they have been saying for years about Iran and would relish the prospects of an ‘Iranian attack,’ or false flag event in order to get World War III, which they both seem to anticipate with more excitement than the Second Coming.

Meanwhile, it should come as no surprise that the mainstream media is doing everything in its power to stoke the flames. On Monday, the New York Times, citing unnamed sources, published an article alleging that the White House was drafting plans to deploy some 120,000 troops to the Middle East in the event Iran attacked US forces or expedited work on nuclear weapon research. The paper giddily reported that such a force “would approach the size of the American force that invaded Iraq in 2003.” Trump, however, ruined the war party, flat out denying the claim, saying he would send a lot more than 120,000 troops under such circumstances.

To underscore exactly how dangerous the situation is becoming, Sputnik reported that four commercial ships – two Saudi, one Emirati and one Norwegian – were targets of a “sabotage attack” off the coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Sunday.

It should come as no surprise as to what country was blamed. “Iranian or Iranian-backed proxies” are thought to be behind the attack, according to US officials.

Although Iran in the past may have played down such provocations, this time around they are showing a striking level of confidence in the face of American firepower. “An aircraft carrier that has at least 40 to 50 planes on it and 6000 forces gathered within it was a serious threat for us in the past,” Amirali Hajiadeh, who heads Iran’s Revolutionary Guard’s aerospace unit, told the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA), as reported by RT. “But now, the threats have switched to opportunities,” he added.

The only thing left to consider now is whether Trump left Bolton and Pompeo to their own mischievous devices in their dealings with Iran and even Israel, or is there some sort of safety catch on the gun, so to speak.

Considering that Trump didn’t seem to be fully informed as to what was happening in Venezuela with regards to puppet president Juan Guaido’s recent failed attempt at a coup, it makes one wonder if Trump is equally in the dark as to what is happening with Iran. The prospect of such a possibility is simply too terrifying to even contemplate.

May 18, 2019 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Wars for Israel | , , | 2 Comments

Russian Embassy Slams FT Over Using Unverifiable Data on Kerch Strait Traffic

Sputnik – 18.05.2019

The Russian embassy in the United Kingdom said that the Financial Times news outlet used isolated allegations and unverifiable information in its article claiming that the recently-built bridge over the Kerch Strait allegedly affected vessel traffic in the area.

“We were struck by the unusually low level of journalism demonstrated by your 17 May piece on the Crimea Bridge (‘Russian bridge throttles Ukraine ports’). The authors allowed themselves to be manipulated by isolated allegations and unverifiable figures provided by various Ukrainian interlocutors, while completely ignoring the official statistics of the Kerch Strait traffic. 25,521 ships crossed the Strait from April 2018 till April 2019, with only 8 percent of them having been inspected,” the embassy’s Press Office wrote in its “letter to the Editor of the Financial Times.”

The press service added that 43 percent of the inspected vessels sailed to or from Russian, not Ukrainian ports. An average inspection lasts less than an hour, while the majority of inspections are carried out while the vessels are waiting for caravans to be formed under the local pilotage rules, according to the letter.

“The construction of the Kerch Bridge, 35 meters [115 feet] high, has not resulted in any measurable deterioration of navigation conditions, as the Strait’s depth, at 9.5 meters, does not allow for taller (and thus heavier) ships to cross. The Kerch Strait has always been and remains open to traffic, including for Ukrainian military ships, provided they fulfil the notification procedure, unchanged since Soviet times,” the embassy argued.

The letter concluded by noting it was “regrettable that a paper like the FT should be used as a propaganda tool by those who seek pretexts for reckless military posturing around Crimea.”

In late April, the Ukrainian border service claimed that Russia voluntarily impeded the passage of ships to Ukrainian ports through the strait. The Ukrainian authorities claimed that almost all vessels faced inspections on their way to Ukrainian ports, noting that these checks were longer than usual and the vessels sometimes even were allowed to pass at the very end of the line.

The situation on the Sea of Azov escalated in spring 2018, when Ukrainian border service detained the Nord vessel sailing under the Russian flag. The crew was allowed to return to Russia only six months after the detention while the captain is still in Ukraine. Moreover, last August, another Russian vessel was detained in a Ukrainian port and has since been not allowed to leave.

The Russian authorities have blasted the actions of Ukraine as “naval terrorism” and responded to them by boosting checks at the part of the Sea of Azov under the Russian jurisdiction. The Crimean border service, which is a part of the Russian Federal Security Service, has insisted that it carried out checks in line with international law of the sea and had never received complaints from ship owners.

May 18, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | Leave a comment

Netflix, Attenborough and cliff-falling walruses: the making of a false climate icon

GWPF | May 17, 2019

Dr. Susan Crockford, a Canadian wildlife expert, exposes the manipulation of fact behind the controversial walrus story promoted in the Netflix documentary film series, ‘Our Planet’, that was released early last month.

One episode in the series contained a highly disturbing piece of footage of walruses bouncing off rocks as they fell from a high cliff to their deaths. Narrator Sir David Attenborough blamed the tragedy on climate change, insisting if it weren’t for lack of sea ice the animals would never have been on land in the first place. World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) used the sequence to suggest the walrus was “the new symbol of climate change”.

However, much of what Sir David told viewers was a fabrication. Careful investigation has revealed that the producers, with help from WWF, created a story that had elements of truth but which blatantly misrepresented others and contained some outright falsehoods.

Dr. Crockford explains why it is especially incorrect to claim that large numbers of walruses resting on land constitutes a sure sign of climate change.

“Enormous herds of Pacific walrus mothers and calves spend time on beaches in late summer and fall only when the overall population size is very large. Recent estimates suggest there are many more walruses now than there were in the 1970s, which is the last time similarly massive haulouts were documented. Huge herds of walruses resting on beaches are a sign of walrus population health, not evidence of global warming. That’s largely why the US Fish and Wildlife Service concluded in 2017 – the year the Netflix scene was filmed – that walrus do not require Endangered Species Act protection.”

May 18, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science | , | Leave a comment