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Turkey, US protect Al Qaeda in Idlib and worsen Syria’s suffering

Pushback with Aaron Maté | February 21, 2020

Idlib is facing a humanitarian disaster as hundreds of thousands flee a Syrian and Russian military campaign to retake the province from militant rule. Overlooked in Western coverage of the crisis is that Idlib is mostly controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a rebranded affiliate of Al-Qaeda — and that Turkey, with U.S. backing, has intervened to keep the extremist group in place.

Guest: Scott Ritter, former UN Weapons Inspector and Marine Corps Intelligence Officer.

February 23, 2020 Posted by | Video | , , | 1 Comment

Stealth Land Grab in the Great Basin

Stealth Land Grab in the Great Basin from en on Vimeo.

How the Military is Raiding Public Lands and Civilian Spaces Across the Western Front

By Katie Fite | CounterPunch | February 20, 2020

Military public land grabs and intrusions into civilian spaces are raging in the West. Wild landscapes are targeted for huge seizures of public land, increases in hideously loud war plane overflight impacts, or development of facilities like threat emitters. The military already has seized vast areas of the American West for use as ground and air ranges. … Full article

February 23, 2020 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video | | 2 Comments

US-funded “Disinformation Oversight” of Bio Weapons Prevention Programmes in Georgia

By Henry Kamens – New Eastern Outlook – 09.10.18

The Richard Lugar Lab is fast becoming a topic of household conversation in both Georgia and the Russian Federation, because increasing numbers of people care that it is not a public health facility, as claimed, but a threat to the population and humanity as we know it.

The Caucasus region is an ideal location for the United States to outsource its ‘grey zone’ research to. Many of the most ‘attractive’ viruses and bacteria for weaponization occur naturally in this region, so they can be studied in their natural habitat. The region is also known for its thriving black market economy and trafficking, as the lack of democracy and a civil society makes it easier to hide things from the world.

But what is now concerning US officials is the attention Russia is paying to the topic of bio weapons and other related medical programmes. What has been uncovered so far demonstrates that the question is NOT whether the US is in violation of the 1972 Biological Weapons Treaty BUT to what degree.

The US has long tried to deflect attention from these programmes. American journalist and Bureau Chief for Veterans Today in Georgia, Jeffrey Silverman, a long time resident of Georgia, is again in the cross fire for his articles and series of recent TV interviews, having endured a long series of indignities, and downright illegal acts, at the hands of his own government and embassy.

But the new attacks on Silverman coincide with recent revelations in the Russian media. Igor Giorgadze, the former State Security Minister of Georgia, dropped a bombshell in mid September when he leaked documents containing information about “a laboratory located near Tbilisi named after US Senator Richard Lugar”, and how some experiments had turned deadly.

Various media groups describe such breaking stories as recurring disinformation, and further claim that there is no factual evidence that the US is building biological laboratories in the Caucasus region in order to use it as a testing site. The same media groups also denied that the US was losing the Vietnam War and declared the well documented CIA human rights abuses in places like Paraguay weren’t happening either.

But Giorgadze, a former Georgian State Security Minister, and Silverman beg to differ. They claim that such labs and related medical projects may have secretly conducted experiments on people, some of which have had fatal outcomes.

Right or Wrong Person to Ask?

Giorgadze has asked Donald Trump to launch an investigation into the experiments conducted by the laboratory. This really has some in Georgia concerned, as Trump is no fan of Big Pharma. He recently stated that the much touted flu shot is the greatest scam in medical history, created by Big Pharma to make money off vulnerable people and make them sick.

US-government funded media watchdogs and strong-arm agencies have fought back by using Homeland Security to harass Silverman when he traveled to and from the United States earlier this year, when he was finally allowed to make his first trip home in over 14 years. On both arrival and departure he was subjected to repeated body and bag searches, including seizures of his phone and personal documents, in direct violation of the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution.

Such frontal attacks on this journalist date back to when the first stories about the Lugar laboratory, and the nefarious research linked with it, broke in Georgia in 2013. As he has since backed up many of his allegations with actual documents, there has been a concerted effort to discredit him, not only in Georgia but in the international media.

Silverman continues to publish in the Georgian language media, and has described how the concentration camp patients of Nazi Doctor Joseph Mengele can be compared to the civilians residing close to the Lugar laboratory, as they [too] did not understand the threat they were under until they were placed in the medical experiment section death camps—when it was too late.

“I am warning those who live near the Lugar Laboratory that they are under a big risk. The locals who settled there were misled that this was an ordinary laboratory and nothing else.”

Georgy Iremidze, head of the Georgian based Patriot news agency, which is labelled pro Russian by the same detractors, adds to the debate:

“On paper, the lab is run by the Georgian government, or rather the Ministry of Health. But in reality, it is operated by the American government. The idea is that, if something goes wrong, the Georgian government will take the blame so that the American government can stay under the radar”.

A Lot for Nothing

The United States has provided a total of US $350 million for the construction and technical equipping of the laboratory. In 2013 the laboratory was allegedly subordinated to the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC), and from 2018 the Government of Georgia will assume responsibility for the full funding and operation of the Lugar center and laboratory network, or so we are told.

However it is only the US which has an interest in building such laboratories. Other countries would face sanctions from more powerful neighbours, who can build worse facilities of their own, for doing so. The US wants to flout the Biological Weapons Convention and then claim, if caught, that this is something only dubious, less-developed, “ignorant” countries do, as it usually does when questions are asked in places like Syria and Iraq.

The Lugar Laboratory is located not far from Tbilisi International Airport. This means that loading weaponized agents and moving viruses and bacteria around the world is expedited. It is conceivable that the United States may be trying to continue its losing battle in Syria by using biological and chemical weapons, as military planes, which are based at NATO airfields, have been landing at the airport with increasing regularity for no other apparent reason.

The same deadly and especially dangerous pathogens could also be targeted, as an aggressive act, against Turkey and the Russian Federation. The US has a history of doing this, and we might recall the Swine Flu outbreak in Russia 12 years ago.

Even unsuspecting humans could be weaponized and board civilian fights, just as was described in Station 11, a work of fiction, and how the Georgian flu killed over 95 percent of the world’s population. Emily St. John Mandel’s fourth novel, “Station Eleven,” begins with a spectacular tragedy on a considerably vaster scale arrives in the form of a flu pandemic so lethal that, within weeks, most of the world’s population has been killed.

It is standard medical practice that nothing that is injected into the body should be used past its expiration date. But the US military, and other organizations like MARFOREUR, USAMRIID, ClinicalRM, WRAIR, and DTRA, are being accused of giving many such preparations to allied countries as “aid”. They have been widely used on the general population in Georgia, even children, without the victims’ full knowledge and informed consent.

When questions are asked, it funnels this aid not through medical bodies but TMC Global Professional Services. This company has overseas offices in nine countries throughout Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and two offices in the US, in Virginia and New Mexico. Most of its work is as a US Government contractor on Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) programmes, with national laboratories and other DoD customers. For example, it manages an international project at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant site (ChNPP).

Too Many Roads Lead to Rome

The Myth Detector claims to have debunked “disinformation” spread around the Hepatitis C elimination programme on several occasions—but it fails to mention the nexus of this programme to TMC. Nor does it give, or investigate, the technical backgrounds of those doing the debunking, who just post pre-written statements provided by their Embassy contacts or PR staff working in the Lugar lab.

It is not difficult to expose those actually working in these military projects at the management level. Silverman was once hired by International Crisis Group, ICG, and the French government to look at the links of these researchers. He soon discovered how the Lugar and partner projects are connected to American, European and other scientific centres.

All the highly skilled professionals in the TMC office in Georgia left in 2010 to form a new organisation, Sigma. The most high profile of these was Richard Mah, who had worked at Los Alamos. You do not leave the golden handcuffs, and diamond pension, of a US defence contractor to start a company from scratch unless you feel too compromised to stay with that contractor. But nobody is interviewing Mah, or the main TMC person in Georgia nowadays, Giorgi Begiashvili, before claiming “disinformation”.

Day Late and Fact Short

The US can get away with violations of treaty law because what it addresses has been superseded by new developments and changed beyond recognition. It has often been observed that when a certain narcotic is made illegal, another one comes along which is equally deadly but gets round the laws as written. Claims that any treaty violations are accidental are difficult to disprove because such violations are so widespread as to be unavoidable.

The US bio weapons legislation is codified in Section 817 of the Patriot Act. It effectively gives the US immunity from violating its own bioweapons laws, despite the fact that such a national law cannot override an international treaty that country is bound by. Specifically, it states that “the prohibitions contained in this section shall NOT apply to any duly authorised US governmental activity.”

Prior to enactment of the Patriot Act, federal law proscribed the use of biological agents or toxins as weapons, in 18 U.S.C. 175. This outlaws possession of a type or quantity of biological agents or toxins that cannot be justified for peaceful purposes. In short, what is being done for the purpose of military use, offensive, is now being justified under the guise of peaceful purposes.

Regardless of the ledger of truth and innocence, a public debate has begun which is cross cultural and beyond borders. As a result of it, some of what goes on behind closed doors, under the flimsy disguise of public health protection and non-proliferation of bio weapons and especially dangerous pathogens, is now out in the open.

One only needs to look more closely at what has been done in Georgia at various DOD funded labs and medical projects. There is a long list to explore, including deaths from experimental TB antibiotics, a succession of dodgy programs doctors refuse to talk about, and various experimental treatments on what is often an unsuspecting population.

If you do not wish to believe Silverman or the Russian media, enough can be gleaned from open sourced academic materials which clearly demonstrate that proper procedures for informed consent are not being implemented. These shine light on what appear to be “backhanders” paid by and to various funding agencies, the UN, the US State Department, Big Pharma and various partner organizations, including the Ministry of Health, various American universities and the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta Georgia.

Information is now being shared with the Congressional Oversight Budget Office, about the apparent planting of false and misleading information. However, all this demonstrates is that US-funded disinformation oversight is in fact blatant disinformation itself, as anyone who has lived in a country on which the US has an “official narrative”, such as Georgia, has always known.

Not only are some of these new generation bacteria agents and especially dangerous pathogens so evolved that there is no antibiotic or other treatment that can save a patient. Often the cure is only available in the form of bacteriophage preparations, as also is being produced in Tbilisi Georgia on the first floor of Building B at Eliava Institute.

It comes as no coincidence that the US Department of Defense and other agencies have also poured money into improvement of infrastructure at the laboratories on the second and third floors, where the planned production area is housed. These laboratories are used to produce bacteriophage on short notice and will be used for phage concentrate production that is used in the final phage product.

Founded in 1923, the Eliava Institute is a world renowned institution working in the field of Applied Microbiology, Virology and Infectious Immunology. Bacteriophage research and application is its main direction.

Henry Kamens is a columnist and expert on the Central Asia and Caucasus regions.

February 23, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

Why Should Putin Help Trump?

By Andrey Kortunov | American Herald Tribune | February 23, 2020

With the US election campaign gaining speed, political opponents of the incumbent President are getting back to their old mantras of Vladimir Putin standing by his old friend and partner – if not his puppet – Donald Trump. This belief remains one of the very few issues on which there appears to be a strong consensus among such different people as Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, Charles Schumer, and even Bernie Sanders. All of them seem to be convinced that Trump is “Putin’s best friend” in Washington and therefore, the Kremlin will be supporting Trump’s reelection in 2020 with the same vigor and with the same disrespect of the US sovereignty, as it allegedly supported his presidential race back in 2016.

Let me put aside an important question about whether the Kremlin can indeed exercise a significant influence on the course of the US elections or even define its outcome. I personally tend to believe that no external player has the resources, the skills, and the infrastructure needed to do that. Maybe, I have a higher opinion on the resilience of US political institutions and procedures than leaders of the Democratic Party have these days. However, let us imagine for a second that Vladimir Putin has all the needed resources, skills and infrastructure to define who is going to reside in the White House after January 20, 2021. Should he really support Donald Trump as his best bet for better relations between the two nations?

Nobody can question the apparent reality that since Donald Trump got to power three years ago, the US – Russian relations have not become any better. In fact, they have further significantly deteriorated. There was only one bilateral summit in Helsinki, which turned into a complete fiasco; the US government continues to throw restlessly multiple sanctions at Moscow; bilateral strategic arms control is more dead than alive, and the US and Russian Embassies respectively in Moscow and in DC look more like besieged castles than like full-fledged diplomatic missions. 

A Trump’s opponent would probably argue that all this is not an outcome of Trump’s policies, but a result of successful attempts by the Deep State and the opposition on the Hill to prevent the President from reckless and potentially very dangerous moves to reach out to Vladimir Putin and to appease the Kremlin. In fact, the current deterioration of the relationship between Moscow and Washington looks like a dubious accomplishment no matter who claims it. Still, it would be unfair to argue that in this relationship, Congress has always been the bad cop, and the White House – the good one. 

For instance, it was the White House, not Congress, to take the initiative in getting the United States out of the INF Treaty with Russia and in questioning the value of the New Start Agreement for the US side. It was the White House to start a fierce war against the North Stream – 2 pipeline and to launch a ‘maximum pressure’ policy on the Islamic Republic of Iran, which happens to be Russia’s strategic partner in the Middle East region. On many issues, the Trump administration went much further in challenging the Kremlin than many experienced and prudent politicians on the Hill would like it to do. 

Moreover, what Democrats often label as ‘Trump’s presents to Putin,’ from a closer range do not look like valuable gifts. For example, can Russia really benefit a lot from the planned US withdrawal from Afghanistan or even from Syria? I doubt it very much. In both cases, we are likely to see the strategic vacuum left by the United States more likely to be filled by forces hostile to Moscow than by Russia’s allies or friends.

Donald Trump might personally like Vladimir Putin, and this feeling might be truly mutual. The two men share many views on the world and on how to conduct foreign policy. Both stand for sovereignty, both put specific national interests above abstract global commons. Both like transactional approaches and are not particularly fond of multilateralism. However, the commonality or similarity of views do not make Trump and Putin natural allies; they simply do not have much of offer to each other. Donald Trump cannot convince Vladimir Putin to break his alliances with Beijing, Tehran or Damascus and to move to the ‘right side of history,’ while Putin cannot expect Trump to dismantle the deep anti-Russian consensus existing today in Washington and to put the bilateral relationship back on track.  

The outcome of the 2020 Presidential election in the United States will affect not only America but the rest of the world as well, including Europe, China, the Middle East, and so on. Russia is no exception. Nevertheless, for Russia, this election in relative terms will mean less than for many other international players. 

Unfortunately, the US – Russian relationship will remain adversarial no matter who gets to the White House in 2021. At this juncture, the best we can do is to try managing this adversity by reducing risks and avoiding prohibitively high costs of an uncontrolled confrontation. And let us hope that the next Presidential election of 2024, which will take place the same year in both the US and Russia, will give us reasons to aim higher than that.

February 23, 2020 Posted by | Russophobia | | 1 Comment

The Politics of Polar Bears – CBC documentary from 2014

A rare balanced documentary produced by the CBC:

Online summary by the producer of the film, Reg Sherren

Related posts for background and follow-up

Sea ice experts make astonishing admissions to polar bear specialists July 29, 2014

Dodgy new clarification of global polar bear population estimate (yes, another) July 5, 2014

Polar bear population numbers are for kids, says specialist Andrew Derocher [April 9, 2018]

Southern Beaufort polar bear ‘decline’ & reduced cub survival touted in 2008 was invalid, PBSG now admits March 24, 2014

Polar bears and melting ice_three facts that shouldn’t surprise you July 20, 2014

Even with Inuit lives at stake, polar bear specialists make unsupported claims April 23, 2019

Western Hudson Bay polar bears in great shape after five good sea ice seasons September 5, 2019

People go to Churchill to see polar bears in the wild and PBI controls the info they get September 18, 2019

February 23, 2020 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, Video | | 1 Comment