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Climate Alarmism and Malthusianism (rebuttal to Taylor)

By Robert Bradley Jr. – Master Resource – February 25, 2020

“The pseudo-intellectual right loves to compare climate concern and action with Malthusianism. I’ve never quite understood what the heck these things have in common.” (Jerry Taylor, October 13, 2019)

“What environmentalists mainly say … is not that we are running out of energy but that we are running out of environment–that is, running out of the capacity of air, water, soil and biota to absorb, without intolerable consequences for human well-being, the effects of energy extraction, transport, transformation and use.” (John Holdren, April 2002)

Jerry Taylor, please read the literature before opining on such matters as energy and the environment. Climate change is the latest Malthusian scare, per John Holdren. And the common denominator of the Malthusian worldview is overpopulation, as Pierre Desrochers and Joanna Szurmak document in Population Bombed! Exploding the Link Between Overpopulation and Climate Change (2018).

Some quotations from Population Bombed cement the tie-in:

  • Numerous population control advocates have linked anthropogenic climate change to population growth, or tried to revive interest in invoking anthropogenic climate change as the key negative outcome of continued economic growth linked to, foremost among causes, an increasing population.
  • … population Bomber” himself, Paul Ehrlich … during a conference in 1968 identified anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions as a “serious limiting factor” to economic growth.
  • By the 1970s, Ehrlich, his wife Anne and his collaborator John Holdren raised fears that carbon dioxide “produced by combustion of fossil fuels in quantities too large to contain” may “already be influencing climate” and, as such, constituted one of the “gravest threats to human well-being. . . [i.e.] the loss of natural services now provided by biogeochemical processes.”
  • [Julian] Simon then summarized the position of most environmentalists as follows: “But isn’t obvious. . . that additional people and additional economic growth will cause us to use more energy and hence emit more greenhouse gases? Therefore, even if we can’t be sure of the greenhouse effect, wouldn’t it be prudent to cut back on growth?”
  • The economist Jacqueline Kasun similarly believed at the time that “by the 1990s the doomsayers had shifted their attack” as they could no longer invoke resource depletion as the key growth-limiting issue. As she wrote, “the alarmists didn’t miss a step. The problem, they now said, was that people were using too much energy and were causing Global Warming.”
  • Canadian academic Michael Hart has commented that “for alarmists, climate mitigation policy is as much a means of achieving their larger goals as it is a matter of addressing a possibly serious issue.”
  • Canadian academic, historical climatologist Tim Ball, has long argued, the climate change policy agenda is based on certain assumptions ultimately related to a fear of reaching another terrestrial set of limits through overpopulation.
  • Maurice Strong (1929–2015), who was described by business journalist Peter Foster as “[m]ore than any other individual. . . responsible for promoting the [UN] climate agenda,” … [stated] “with a growing global population, we will have to recognise that having children is not just a personal issue but a societal issue and at a certain point we may be faced with a need to have a permit to have a child.”
  • [Strong] also referred to the need for “national population policies” in his opening speech at the 1972 Stockholm Conference. Strong reportedly stated the following Malthusian prediction at the 1992 Earth Summit: “Either we reduce the world’s population voluntarily or nature will do this for us, but brutally.”
  • The first chairman of the IPCC (1988-1997), Bert Bolin, was not only an early convert to the alleged catastrophic impact of CO2 emissions, but also a pessimist on population and resources issues, as evidenced in his stance on the controversy surrounding the 2001 publication of The Skeptical Environmentalist by the Danish political scientist Bjorn Lomborg.
  • John Holdren contradicted many of his earlier warnings of imminent resource depletion by arguing that while the word was not “running out of energy,” it was “running out of environment,” by which he meant “running out of the capacity of air, water, soil and biota to absorb, without intolerable consequences for human well-being, the effects of energy extraction, transport, transformation and use.”
  • The second chairman of the IPCC (1997–2002), Robert Watson, would later go on the record with the following line of reasoning: “The more people we have on the Earth and the richer they are, the more they can demand resources. There’s more demand for food, more demand for water, more demand for energy. . . So, there’s no question the threats on the Earth today are far more than, say, 50 years ago and in 50 years’ time, there will even be more threats.”
  • The third chairman of the IPCC (2002-2015), Rajendra K. Pachauri … was “not going to rest easy until [he has] articulated in every possible forum the need to bring about major structural changes in economic growth and development. That’s the real issue. Climate change is just a part of it.”
  • Timothy E. Wirth, one of the main organizers of the 1988 James Hansen hearing on climate change, and from 1998 to 2013 president of the (hardcore Malthusian) … is on the record as stating in 1993: “We’ve got to ride this global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing in terms of economic and environmental policy.

Other documentation from Desrochers and Szurmak includes the views of Christine Stewart, then Canadian Minister of the Environment; Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action (2010–2014); Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres ; Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research; researchers associated with the Population Reference Bureau and the Worldwatch Institute; Canadian climate scientist Andrew Weaver of the British Columbia Green Party; and the late climatologist Stephen Schneider

So what are the climate Malthusians missing? The same thing as before: human ingenuity. Desrochers and Szurmak note:

… there is ample evidence of a passionate commitment towards the protection of the planet, but there is no sign of recognition that humanity can do, and has done, more than simply consume resources. At no point do neo-Malthusians admit the possibility that technological innovations and human creativity have a place among the things that deserve a place on Earth. What pessimist activists desire is a consensus on the classification of humanity as out of control and inherently driven by destructive greed, thus in need of top-down regulation by the few remaining clear-thinking and benign autocrats – that is, functionaries – of the global government.

Buyer beware of climate alarmism and Malthusianism.

February 25, 2020 Posted by | Environmentalism, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Science and Pseudo-Science | , | Leave a comment

Washington Post’s ‘relative quiet’ ignores Israeli violence against Palestinians

Nine-year-old Palestinian Malik Eissa, Feb. 20, 2020, after being shot in the face by Israeli police the previous week. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
By Alison Weir | If Americans Knew | February 24, 2020

On February 24th, the Washington Post reported that a “flare up” of violence in Israel-Palestine “followed weeks of relative quiet.” This statement ignores massive Israeli violence against Palestinians. The following is a partial list of Israeli actions against Palestinians during the previous three and a half weeks:

  • Israeli soldiers Shot and killed 4 Palestinian civilians, including a 19-year-old shot in the neck, a 17-year-old shot in the head, and a 24-year-old policeman shot in the stomach.
  • Israeli soldiers shot an additional 100 Palestinians, including 15 minors, 3 fishermen, 3 journalists, and a photographer working for an Israeli human rights organization. One of the injured minors was a 9-year-old whose eye was shot out.
  • Israeli forces conducted 418 military raids into the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem.
  • Israeli forces abducted 190 Palestinian civilians, including 52 teens and children and 4 women.
  • Israeli forces perpetrated 15 shootings against Palestinian farmers and farm structures.
  • Israeli forces perpetrated 7 shootings against Palestinian fishing boats.
  • Israel demolished 8 Palestinian homes.
  • Israeli interrogators tortured a Palestinian mother imprisoned by Israel.
  • Israeli forces escorted thousands of Israeli settlers while they stormed two Palestinian villages.
  • Israeli forces perpetrated several airstrikes on the Gaza Strip.
  • A fifteen-year-old Palestinian boy, who had been shot earlier by Israeli forces, died.

(For details on the above incidents go here. For information on additional actions that took place during this time go here. For a Timeline of Israelis and Palestinians killed in the conflict go here.)

Ruth Eglash Washington Post reporter Israel Palestine
Ruth Eglash, Israeli citizen

Reporter Ruth Eglash partisan

Ruth Eglash, lead author of the Washington Post report that ignored the above events, moved to Israel 20 years ago, became an Israeli citizen, and was an editor of a right-wing Israeli newspaper for 10 years before moving to the Post.

She has been a featured speaker at events by pro-Israel organizations in the U.S. and used to be listed on the speakers’ bureau of the Jewish National Fund (JNF), known for taking over Palestinian land for Israel. (Her listing by the JNF has since been removed from the Internet.)

Shortly before joining the Post, Eglash had served on a panel entitled “Telling Israel’s Story,” alongside an Israeli army spokesperson. The panel was chaired by a former advisor to the Israeli government.

According to the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle, Eglash lives in a “spacious home in Mevessert Zion,” which is one of the wealthiest enclaves in the area. It was built in the 1950s on top of the destroyed Palestinian villages of Al Qastal and Qalunya, which had been ethnically cleansed by Israeli forces. Some parts of the town are in the West Bank, making the residents settlers. Settlements are illegal under international law.

Eglash’s husband, also an Israeli citizen, is originally from Milwaukee, where he “lived and breathed Israel” as a student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He started and continues to head a PR firm called “Upstart” that markets Israel to the US.

Media watchdog organization Fairness and Accuracy In Media (FAIR) reports: “Upstart’s clients include the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Tourism, the Jewish Agency for Israel and the World Zionist Organization. Other clients, like Hillel and Birthright for Israel, are active in promoting a pro-Israel message on college campuses.”


Martin Baron, Washington Post executive editor

FAIR states that the Washington Post seems to be violating its own ethics conflict of interest code by employing a reporter “whose spouse works for an Israeli government-linked public relations firm.”

Marty Baron

The Editor of the Post is Martin Baron, whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from Israel. Baron says he has visited Israel often, where he has family connections. Baron sometimes gives talks on Israel.

(According to Israeli law, individuals who are born to a parent who is an Israeli citizen automatically are Israeli citizens themselves. It is unknown whether this is the case for Baron.)

A member of the Israel lobby once divulged to an undercover reporter that it was easy for the lobby to get stories onto the front page of the Washington Post.

February 25, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | 1 Comment

Thought-police come for Koch-funded ‘anti-Greta’ – but unlike ‘real Greta,’ she’s open about her backers

© YouTube / The Heartland Institute / Reuters / Fabian Bimmer
By Helen Buyniski | RT | February 24, 2020

A 19-year-old German girl has joined the right-wing Heartland Institute to counter “climate alarmism” with “climate realism,” leading MSM to dub her “anti-Greta” (Thunberg). But unlike Thunberg, her conflicts of interest are in public view.

Naomi Seibt has been attacked as a “climate change denier” for working with the Heartland Institute, a libertarian think-tank funded by oil and gas companies and conservative groups. But the young German insists she’s not denying climate change, just trying to inject some reason into the debate – a demand which has only caused her detractors to shriek louder.

“I don’t want to get people to stop believing in man-made climate change, not at all,” she told the Washington Post on Monday, while acknowledging she found the idea that human activity alone was responsible for the warming planet “ridiculous.” The outlet’s profile of the young activist, whom it not-so-subtly dubs “the anti-Greta,” proceeds to paint her as a puppet of the Heartland Institute, which is “paying [Seibt] to question established climate science” – as if she would never have done so on her own.

Suggesting there’s anything inauthentic or manufactured about Thunberg has been heresy in MSM ever since the young Swede burst onto the global scene at the tender age of 15. Even as it emerged that her rise to superstardom was choreographed with the help of PR man Ingmar Rentzhog, whose ‘We Don’t Have Time’ climate-focused social network featured her prominently in its marketing materials; even after a data leak exposed that Thunberg’s Facebook posts were written by her father and an Indian activist, the integrity of her convictions was never questioned. After all, she had held those beliefs for years before embarking on her climate crusade.

Seibt’s activism, too, predates her involvement with the Heartland Institute. She told the Post she developed a political consciousness “a few years ago” after questioning German immigration policy in class triggered a backlash from teachers and students alike, causing her to develop a general “skepticism about mainstream German thinking.” Only after a Heartland Institute employee saw her speak at another think tank affiliated with the right-wing AfD party – after she was already making videos, including one in which she “came out” for Pride Month as a climate change skeptic – did she become the face of the group, which is heavily funded by oil and gas interests as well as conservative bogeymen the Koch brothers.

While Seibt shares Thunberg’s long blonde hair and youth, the similarities end there. The German’s measured presentation couldn’t be further removed from Thunberg’s emotional pleas. She references Thunberg’s famous call to “panic as if your house is on fire” only to deliver a calm: “I don’t want you to panic, I want you to think.” Warning her audience of the danger of confusing science with politics, she urges tolerance of dissenting opinions and slams her opponents’ use of the term “climate denial” for its not-so-subtle evocation of Holocaust denial. But while Seibt attempts to debunk accepted climate change wisdom, she doesn’t pretend to have the solution, admitting she “could be wrong” and urging viewers to “continue doing your research and form your own opinion on the climate change situation.”

This hasn’t stopped her detractors from attacking her for her “arch-denialist” backers, however. Graham Brookie of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, apparently unable to find real disinformation in Seibt’s videos, slimed her anyway for allegedly creating a “false equivalency between a message based in climate science that went viral organically and a message based in climate skepticism trying to catch up using paid promotion.” Fair enough – she has a long way to go before she catches up with Thunberg. Except the young Swede’s message didn’t exactly go viral organically, either.

Thunberg’s “brand” – recently trademarked – may position her as a David to the fossil fuel industry’s Goliath, but this is not entirely accurate. From the documentary crew shadowing the pint-sized crusader since her first day school-striking outside the Swedish Parliament to the PR muscle required to get her on board multimillion-dollar racing yachts and shaking hands with Barack Obama, evidence of the deep pockets behind the Thunberg phenomenon is everywhere, even if those pockets’ owners remain elusive. Thunberg’s apocalyptic talking points are compiled in the Climate Emergency Plan, released by Rentzhog’s We Don’t Have Time and another climate-focused think tank to which he belongs, Global Utmaning (Global Challenge) in collaboration with the Club of Rome in November 2018. Global Utmaning was founded by industrial heiress and former deputy central bank governor Kristina Persson and counts as members and advisors a “green” venture capital advisor and more than half a dozen veterans of Swedish-Swiss energy megacorporation ABB, which stands to make a killing on the transition to renewables. And these are just two nodes in the network of environmental NGOs behind Thunberg, a sphere of “nonprofits” that is ideally positioned to soak up what one of these groups, ClimateWorks, predicts will be $90 trillion spent over the next 15 years to stave off the worst effects of climate change. At least Seibt’s backers, riddled with conflicts of interest as they may be, are out in the open.

Those attacking Seibt’s for partnering with the Heartland Institute have pointed to the group’s “attacks” on Thunberg and climate scientists to justify their own smears, though it’s difficult to see how attacking Seibt as a “climate denier” achieves justice for the Swedish activist. Accusing Seibt of climate change denial because of who funds her work would – to avoid hypocrisy, at least – require them to hold Thunberg responsible for everything her shadowy backers have done or said – a prospect that is simply unrealistic, and not fair to Thunberg. Instead, all sides of the debate would be wise to listen to Seibt, who has implored climate skeptics and climate change protesters alike to bury the hatchet. “I hope that we can live in an era of discussion again… freedom of speech is the foundation for a society that can truly stick together.”

Rather then give Seibt the benefit of the doubt, at least one other outlet pounced on WaPo for not being harsh enough on the German activist. Motherboard accused the outlet of “amplifying climate change denialism” from a “noted propaganda factory” that “can routinely be found peeing in the public discourse pool on behalf of its corporate donors.” Imagine what hell would break loose if anyone used such terms to describe Saint Greta…

February 25, 2020 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Video | Leave a comment

US Imposes Sanctions on Entities in Russia and China Over ‘Support of Iran’s Missile Programme’

Sputnik – February 25, 2020

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced that Washington is imposing sanctions on 13 entities in Russia, China, Iraq, and Turkey for “supporting Iran’s missile programme.”

He further added that sanctions against individuals and entities in those countries were “consistent with our efforts to use all available measures” to slow Iranian missiles.

In particular, five Chinese and Turkish entities and individuals have been included in the sanctions list.

The decision was made in accordance with the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Non-proliferation Act, which provides for sanctions for “the transfer of equipment or technology having the potential to make a material contribution to the development of weapons of mass destruction or cruise or ballistic missile systems” to those countries.

Addressing a large meeting on the occasion of celebrating the 40th anniversary of victory of the Islamic Revolution at Tehran’s Azadi (Liberty) Square earlier this month, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani stated that Tehran hadn’t asked and would not ask “a permission from anybody to manufacture various types of missiles, including anti-tank missiles, air-to-air, ground-to-ground or sea-to-sea missiles. We will continue our way [of development] of military force”.

February 25, 2020 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

With Grenell Appointment, the Israel Lobby’s Foothold on US Intelligence Grows Even Stronger

By Whitney Webb | MintPress News | February 25, 2020

Last week’s appointment of U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell to the post of Director of National Intelligence (DNI) received criticism from both sides of the political divide, mainly for his lack of experience and history of outspoken and partisan political statements. Much more overlooked, however, are Grenell’s ties to the powerful American pro-Israel lobby and Israeli politicians alike, including organizations and individuals with a history of espionage and blackmail against the United States.

Grenell is merely the latest example in a series of appointments over the past few years that have seen individuals with deep ties to the pro-Israel lobby rise to top positions in the U.S. intelligence community, including the NSA’s current director of Cybersecurity Anne Neuberger as well as the leaders of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board (PIAB).

With many of these posts directly involved in overseeing the security of the upcoming 2020 election, ostensibly to combat “foreign interference,” these connections are even more significant. Some of the Israel lobby groups in question have not only engaged in illegal espionage against the U.S. government, but are also openly meddling in the current Democratic party primary.

Beyond the potential effects on the upcoming election, these troubling ties between top U.S. intelligence officials and a foreign government do not bode well for American national security and will only advance the long-standing practice of American neoconservatives conflating Israeli national security interests with those of the United States.

Grenell’s many conflicts of interest

Richard Grenell’s appointment last Wednesday to the post of Director of National Intelligence (DNI) raised a number of eyebrows on the Beltway and drew sharp condemnation from former and current intelligence officials alike. Most of the concern was due to the fact that Grenell, who has been serving as the U.S. ambassador to Germany, has virtually no intelligence experience or background. Yet, he will now oversee and coordinate all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies, including the CIA and NSA, and will be responsible for briefing President Trump on intelligence matters of both domestic and international concern.

Grenell’s new position is not required to be confirmed by the Senate unless Trump decides to nominate him as a permanent candidate at the end of the temporary three-month period during which he can serve as acting DNI. There has not been a permanent DNI since Dan Coats resigned last August.

Grenell’s appointment was also criticized due to his brazen political approach towards his diplomatic post as U.S. ambassador to Germany, which he will maintain while coordinating and overseeing U.S. intelligence activities. In his two years as ambassador, Grenell has alienated numerous German politicians to the extent that prominent officials have refused to meet with him. Some German officials began calling for his resignation during his first month as ambassador.

One very valid criticism of Grenell’s appointment, however, has been glossed over, namely his ties to controversial lobbyists, political operatives and foreign politicians. For instance, Grenell used to work on behalf of Arthur Finkelstein and Associates, a firm of the late Republican political operative of the same name.

Finkelstein was one of the main architects of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s first campaign in 1996. Finkelstein was placed in contact with the Netanyahu campaign by prominent Jewish American businessman and billionaire, Ronald Lauder — a close associate of Trump, then-top backer of Netanyahu (they have since had a falling out) and a member of the controversial “Mega Group.”

Finkelstein worked on numerous successive campaigns for far-right politicians in Israel, including former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. He has been described as being “deeply committed” to and a “staunch supporter” of Israel and the hawkish Likud Party. He also spent numerous years on Likud’s payroll.

Grenell’s financial disclosures reveal that his consulting firm, Capitol Media Partners, received more than $5,000 from Finkelstein but does not specify the exact amount. ProPublica recently reported that Grenell, who has ties to Fox News and Newsmax, worked for Finkelstein as a “media consultant” in Eastern Europe, where Ronald Lauder has long held significant media interests. In that capacity, Grenell was paid to work on Finkelstein’s behalf for the now-disgraced Moldovan politician, Vladimir Plahotniuc, work that Grenell did not disclose, but should have according to experts.

Concerns over Grenell’s susceptibility to foreign influence are particularly troubling given his especially close relationship with Israel, despite nominally having served as U.S. ambassador to Germany, a position which ostensibly would require close ties to Germany (which Grenell lacks) as opposed to Israel. Soon after Grenell became ambassador to Germany, he requested Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to meet him at the Berlin airport. After that meeting, Netanyahu told reporters that Grenell is a “big fan of Israel.” Grenell himself has stated that he views his support for Israeli “peace” (i.e. security) policy as a “biblical mandate” and has visited the country “more times than he can count.”

Richard Grenell, left, poses with Morton Klein, head of the Zionist Organization of America. Photo | ZOA

Though many intelligence community veterans and politicians in both major parties opposed Grenell’s appointment, the American Israel lobby was thrilled. The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) “strongly praised” Grenell’s appointment as acting DNI, with ZOA president Morton Klein, stating:

I am proud to say that during my long personal friendship with Ambassador Grenell, it became powerfully clear to me that Grenell is a very talented and knowledgeable man whose commitment to America and its security is second to none. He is also a man who understands the importance of our country’s great alliance with Israel in promoting U.S. security interests. There has never been a better friend of a strong U.S-Israel relationship than Ambassador Grenell. (emphasis added)”

Klein previously announced his displeasure that Grenell had not been appointed to serve as U.S. ambassador to NATO after he had been given private “assurances” by the Trump administration that Grenell would be nominated to that post.

Grenell’s ties to political operatives like Finkelstein, his close friendships to Israel lobbyists Morton Klein and Israeli PM Netanyahu as well as his failure to disclose paid work done on behalf of foreign politicians make him susceptible to foreign influence or blackmail according to the official policy of the office of the DNI, which Grenell now leads.

That policy holds that “conditions that could raise a security concern and may be disqualifying” include “connections to a foreign person, group, government or country that create a potential conflict of interest between the individual’s obligation to protect classified or sensitive information or technology and the individual’s desire to help a foreign person, group or country by providing that information or technology.”

Given that Israeli politicians and officials, including Netanyahu, have actively used blackmail to influence sitting U.S. presidents and that the pro-Israel lobby has a history of espionage targeting the United States, it is telling that Grenell’s appointment to a sensitive intelligence post has not been criticized in the media over his close ties to the pro-Israel lobby, Arthur Finkelstein and Israel’s government.

Israel’s foothold grows

While Grenell’s appointment is troubling over his ties to the pro-Israel lobby, it is merely the latest such appointment made by the Trump administration as several top intelligence figures with deep ties to the pro-Israel lobby have recently risen to prominence.

For example, current NSA director of Cybersecurity Anne Neuberger is married to Yehuda Neuberger, who serves as chair of AIPAC’s executive council in Baltimore. Neuberger’s parents were rescued via the IDF’s “Operation Entebbe,” an operation led by Benjamin Netanyahu’s brother, Yonathan Netanyahu. Neuberger was less than a year old at the time, but was not with her parents during the incident.

As Cybersecurity director for the NSA, Neuberger oversees a division of that agency that “unifies NSA’s foreign intelligence and cyberdefense missions” and works “to prevent and eradicate threats to national security systems and critical infrastructure,” including the country’s election infrastructure. Her family ties to AIPAC are therefore concerning given the powerful lobby groups’ propensity to meddle in this election’s Democratic primary. This is belied by the fact that AIPAC has, in the past, committed espionage against the U.S. government on Israel’s behalf on more than one occasion.

In addition to Neuberger, both the head and deputy chair of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board (PIAB) have close ties to foreign lobbies and intelligence services. According to the U.S. government, PIAB “exists exclusively to assist the President by providing him with an independent source of advice on the effectiveness with which the Intelligence Community is meeting the Nation’s intelligence needs, and the vigor and insight with which the community plans for the future. The Board has access to all information needed to perform its functions and has direct access to the President.” The government’s official description of the body’s role also states that PIAB has “immense and long-lasting impacts on the structure, management, and operations of U.S. intelligence.”

PIAB is chaired by Stephen Feinberg, the billionaire owner of Cerberus capital management, which owns scandal-ridden U.S. military and intelligence contractor DynCorp. Court documents cited by the New York Times accused Cerberus of “orchestrating secretive deals that transgressed legal and ethical boundaries,” making his role at PIAB at overseeing the often ethically-challenged U.S. intelligence community troubling. In addition, Cerberus was previously the owner of or majority stakeholder of a string of now-bankrupt companies that defrauded U.S. intelligence and the U.S. military on a massive scale during the George W. Bush administration, with much of that occurring while then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was invested in Cerberus.

Feinberg’s close relationships also raise some red flags. He is a close friend of Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law whose family has a close friendship with Netanyahu, as well as Steve Bannon, who has close ties to the U.S. Israel lobby, particularly the ZOA. Feinberg is also a close associate of hedge fund manager Michael Steinhardt, a “Mega Group” member whose father worked for the National Crime Syndicate. Steinhardt was instrumental in the controversial Clinton-era pardon of Mossad asset Marc Rich and is a major funder of pro-Israel organizations.

Feinberg was also one of the main shareholders in Israel’s then-largest bank, Bank Leumi, until he was pressured to sell his stake following the revelation that his partner in that investment, Ezra Merkin, played a key role in the Bernie Madoff scandal. Cerberus’ acquisition of those shares had originally been closely tied to a Likud party initiative to privatize Israel’s entire banking sector.

Companies owned by Cerberus have also been found to be closely tied to Saudi intelligence. The Washington Post reported last year that a U.S.-backed plan to “modernize” Saudi intelligence had been created by Culpeper National Security Solutions, a unit of Cerberus-owned DynCorp, along “with help from some prominent former CIA officials.” Another Cerberus-owned company called Tier 1 has also helped train Saudi Special Forces, some of whom were reportedly involved in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Though Feinberg says he divested his personal stake from these companies prior to chairing PIAB, they remain owned by his firm Cerberus and arguably still present a conflict of interest.

In addition to Feinberg, the PIAB’s current deputy chair — Samantha Ravich — formerly worked for the pro-Israel lobby group Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a spin-off of AIPAC that was created to shield the lobby organization from scrutiny, when it was investigated in 1984 for espionage against the U.S. government on Israel’s behalf.

Samantha Ravich speaks at Israel Bonds luncheon in Clevland in 2016. CJN | Screenshot

Ravich, who joined PIAB in 2018, is also a senior advisor to the group the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), which was revealed to work directly with Israel’s government in a since-censored Al Jazeera documentary on the Israel lobby. Ravich also worked for the consulting firm of Michael Chertoff, the former head of the Department of Homeland Security whose mother worked with Israel’s Mossad.

Ravich has specifically promoted a “cyber project” to the U.S. Senate that would protect member countries from cyber threats but exclude nations that endorse or fail to condemn the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement that supports Palestinian rights and Israeli compliance with international law. Ravich also praised the Trump administration’s decision to partner with Israel’s government on “cybersecurity” in 2017, saying that “the U.S. cannot go it alone in its endeavor to safeguard the networks and systems upon which our economy depends.” As MintPress reported last month, several highly classified networks of the U.S. intelligence community and the military, including networks of the CIA, NSA, and DISA, now use cybersecurity software deeply tied to Israeli military intelligence, thanks in part to this U.S.-Israel partnership.

Now, with Richard Grenell overseeing all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies, Israel’s influence in the U.S. intelligence community has reached new and troubling heights. Yet, his appointment is only the latest move by the Trump administration that places pro-Israel partisans in highly sensitive positions, suggesting that similar appointments are likely in the future, especially if Trump is reelected in November.

Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.

February 25, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UK Defence Minister Announces Development of New Nuclear Warhead as ‘Effective’ Deterrent

By Tim Korso – Sputnik – February 25, 2020

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has announced via a written statement to parliament that the UK will be developing a replacement warhead while continuing to maintain its existing nuclear warheads until they are decommissioned. The development of the new warheads was spurred by the need to respond to new threats in a changing security environment, the defence secretary said.

“We will maintain our Trident nuclear deterrent, which guarantees our security. To ensure the government maintains an effective deterrent throughout the commission of the Dreadnought Class ballistic missile submarine we are replacing our existing nuclear warheads to respond to future threats and the security environment”, Wallace stated.

Wallace said to the parliament that highly skilled teams will be formed in close coordination between the Ministry of Defence’s Nuclear Organisation and the UK’s Atomic Weapons Establishment to develop the new weapon. The defence secretary added that the teams will also collaborate with the US to ensure that the new warhead stays compatible with the Trident Strategic Weapon Systems.

The move comes as part of a 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review, which outlined the UK’s strategy of maintaining an independent minimum credible deterrent in the form of nuclear weapons. The stance was adopted as a result of the 2007 government decision supported by a parliamentary vote to uphold the country’s nuclear deterrents beyond the early 2030s.

February 25, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | | Leave a comment

Credibility of European Court of Human Rights lies in ruins after judges’ links to Soros revealed

By John Laughland | RT | February 25, 2020

A study by the European Center for Law and Justice in Strasbourg has revealed several conflicts of interest between judges at the European Court of Human Rights and NGOs funded by George Soros.

The European Center for Law and Justice is an NGO which often appears at the court to campaign on social, family and religion-related issues. I am proud to be listed as a research fellow at the ECHR but in reality I have written only one article for the center’s website and I receive no salary from it. I had no role in writing the report.

The study has found that, out of the 100 judges who have served on the bench of the European Court of Human Rights in the period 2009-2019, nearly a quarter (22) have strong links to George Soros’ Open Society Foundation or to NGOs like Amnesty International and others which are funded by it. Human Rights Watch, for instance, has received $100 million from the Open Society Foundation since 2010.

Some of the NGOs receive so much of their budget from Soros that they are in effect wholly owned subsidiaries of his foundation.

The links between the judges and the NGOs are substantial. They include working for years as members of the board of directors or executive council of these NGOs; having teaching posts at institutes funded by them; being a salaried director of programs for the Open Society Foundation or associated NGOs; and undertaking other forms of paid work for them. The full list of these links can be found on pages seven and eight of the report.

A good example is that of the Bulgarian Yonko Grozev who, as leader of the Open Society Justice Initiative, defended the Pussy Riot case against Russia in 2018 before being elected as a judge of the court shortly thereafter.

The study does not include less formal forms of collaboration with NGOs, such as occasional work for them (see note 15 of the report). This means that the links are even greater than those specifically addressed in the study.

The report also covers other human rights officers, such as the commissioner for human rights at the Council of Europe from 2012-2018 (Nils Muiznieks), who does not sit as a judge but who was for years a salaried activist of the Open Society Foundation in Latvia and who has used his official position to campaign against the so-called “anti-Soros” legislation in Hungary.

These NGOs are extremely active at the ECHR. The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights in Poland filed 16 applications, and defended 32 cases, in 2017 alone. Very often the role played by the NGOs does not appear in the court’s records but has to be discovered from the NGOs’ own reports instead. For instance, a case can be defended by lawyers from one NGO with pleas heard from other NGOs as third parties, even though the other organizations are in fact financed by the same source as the applicant, usually Soros.

There would not be anything wrong with judges having exercised a salaried activity for an NGO prior to becoming a judge if these same organizations were not themselves active as parties who bring cases to the ECHR, either as applicants themselves, as lawyers for applicants, or as third parties giving supposedly expert evidence (but in reality lobbying for a cause), and if those judges did not then hear those cases.

Indeed, the report’s worst finding is that in 88 cases judges sat on the bench ruling on cases brought to the court by NGOs they had previously worked for, without declaring a conflict of interest and without withdrawing from hearing the cases (see page 15 of the report and annexes 1 and 2.) In one case, ruled on in 2018, 10 out of the 14 NGOs that had brought the case were funded by the Open Society Foundation, while six out of the 17 judges who heard the case themselves had links to the same Soros-funded group.

The judges’ refusal to withdraw is a disgraceful professional failing which shows that Europe’s supreme human rights body is not, in fact, independent but is instead part of veritable “human rights industry” – a pyramid of money and a tight network of professional relationships, at the top of which sits George Soros with his billions. NGOs are supposed to represent “civil society” independent of states; in reality, a very large number of them are the creation of actors with no democratic legitimacy, like the Open Society Foundation.

The fact that this corrupt system has been able to flourish has several causes. The first is that Soros and the NGOs he finances dominate the human rights industry across the Balkans and in the Baltic states. His millions flood these small, poor countries (he has spent $131 million in Albania since 1992, for instance) and they in turn appoint judges to the ECHR which rules on human rights issues for the 47 member states of the Council of Europe. Indeed, the report finds that the total spending of the Open Society Foundation in Europe, $90 million a year, actually exceeds the annual budget of the European Court of Human Rights ($70 million).

Second, new procedures introduced in 2012 specifically provide for NGOs to take part in the selection procedure for judges at the ECHR. These NGOs can propose candidates and they can lobby for their selection. They have done this on many occasions, as the report shows. In the case of Albania in 2018, for instance, two out of the three candidates were executives of the Open Society Foundation; one of them was elected.

Finally, there is no requirement that people appointed to be judges at the ECHR have any judicial experience at all. Some 51 out of the 100 judges who have sat on the ECHR bench since 2009 had never been judges or magistrates before. Instead, they were very often human rights activists working for Soros or one of his front organisations.

This is a structural weakness which also affects international war crimes tribunals. As I showed in my book, ‘Travesty,’ and it means that people can wield judicial power who are not, in fact, trained judges or magistrates or even necessarily lawyers, but instead political activists. In some very egregious cases, people have become judges on the benches of these tribunals without even having a law degree.

The result is that the judges who sit on these bodies do not, in fact, behave as judges should. The role of the judge is to say what the law is, not to say what he or she thinks the law should be. Unfortunately, this is exactly what judges at the ECHR, and at the new international tribunals, do. In 1978, the ECHR proclaimed that the Convention was “a living instrument which must be interpreted in the light of present-day conditions” and that therefore its judges had the right to read new things into the Convention instead of agreeing to be bound by it. Such judicial activism is a travesty of the rule of law.

It is a travesty because the areas in which ECHR judges exercise their judicial activism are precisely the most politically sensitive issues, which should properly be decided by politicians in elected parliaments, or by referenda, and not by an elite caste of unaccountable activists. Those areas include freedom of expression, asylum, LGBT rights, conditions of detention, minority rights, and so on. Using their freedom to make up the law, ECHR judges have over decades applied a new vision of man which is the opposite of the original intention of the Convention, which was to protect human beings and their families from abusive state power. Now the ECHR spends most of its time demanding more state power for this or that fashionable (“woke”) cause.

George Soros has long been attacked for the excessive political power his gigantic fortune has bought, especially in post-communist Eastern Europe. This report by the European Center for Law and Justice is, however, one of the first occasions in which the corrupting effect of that power has been scrupulously identified and documented with respect to the supreme body charged with protecting human rights in Europe. To date, the ECHR has not denied any of the facts outlined in the report and, to the extent that these facts cannot be denied because they come from the ECHR itself, its credibility as an independent judicial body now lies in ruins.

John Laughland has a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Oxford and has taught at universities in Paris and Rome. He is a historian and specialist in international affairs.

February 25, 2020 Posted by | Deception | , | 1 Comment

Brazil in Search for False Enemies

By Lucas Leiroz | February 25, 2020

Recently, the Brazilian Ministry of Defense published a dossier on possible threats to national security over the next two decades. The document, however, is far from showing any sign of seriousness, being full of unfounded predictions, which call into question even the quality of the academic training of the military involved – or their commitment to the truth.

In the document, the Brazilian military set up a series of hypothetical scenarios and warn that France could become a real threat to Brazil in the coming years. The reason is due to a brief tension and war of words between the Presidents Jair Bolsonaro and Emmanuel Macron over the past year, due to the environmental crisis and bushfires in the Amazon Rainforest. For Brazilian generals, this is already a sufficient basis to see France as a real threat to national security, ignoring notable facts, such as that both countries are the biggest trading partners in military industry and that the tension between Bolsonaro and Macron has already calmed down months ago, in addition to the fact that the French interest in starting a transcontinental war over the Amazon territory is absolutely minimal.

Continuing with forecasts, the document testifies to a future of great tensions in South America, with Venezuela and Guyana fighting conflicts in the north and Bolivia and Chile in the south, in addition to the installation of Chinese and American military bases across the continent. Brazil, aligning itself with the USA, will act as a mediator of regional conflicts and will receive advanced armaments from Washington. The document also foresees the installation of three American military bases in Colombia and a conflict between this country and Venezuela. It is also speculated that Argentina will grow economically with oil exploration and that it will align with China, but that Brazil will veto the installation of Chinese bases in the neighboring country.

Brazil’s role in internal tensions and international geopolitics will depend exclusively on its good relations with the United States. The dossier speculates that China will overtake the United States as an economic power, but that Washington will remain the global military leader. Brazilian alignment with American hegemonic power, then, will be a matter of survival and will allow Brazil to mediate regional conflicts, pacify neighboring countries and curb Chinese influence in South America. The generals go even further with their unfounded speculations and claim that Brazil will arouse the fury of “ultranationalist groups in Southeast Asia” that, in retaliation, will launch biological weapons against the Brazilian population on the occasion of the musical festival “Rock in Rio” in its 2039 edition.

In brief summary, the document creates a hypothetical scenario in which Brazil’s alignment with the United States will no longer be a matter of political will, but of necessity and survival. In practice, a group of more than 500 military researchers created a myth to justify alignment with Washington, using predictions that lack meaning and material bases. The ultimate goal is simply to forcibly instill the belief that Brazil should become an American ally.

But the Brazilian military does not stop there. Recently, the Russian ship Yantar approached the Brazilian coast, having anchored for a few days in the state of Rio de Janeiro. When the ship was about 50 miles away from the beaches of Rio, the Brazilian Navy issued a communication signal that was not answered immediately. It happens, however, that the vessel responded to the communication attempts issued later, which was not enough for the Brazilian Navy to retreat in its false alarm that the Russian ship would be performing espionage services on the Brazilian coast, spreading the lie through several media agencies and creating an unnecessary tension atmosphere.

The scandal made by the Brazilian Navy would make any specialist in military and intelligence operations laugh. Do they really believe that such a vessel would be used for espionage purposes with such public exposure? Would the Brazilian State be irresponsible to the point of creating such an atmosphere of tension with Russia for absolutely nothing?

The scenario leads one to believe that it is not a collective idiocy of Brazilian generals, but rather a very well-designed project to create an environment of fear in relation to everything that is not of interest to the United States. Chinese military presence in South America, Russian espionage, French threat, regional wars, biological terrorism – these are all imaginary threats meticulously created by the military who are no longer interested in national defense, but in the country’s subordination to the hegemonic global power.

Brazil seems to be experiencing one of the worst moments in its history. Again, the higher generals are more committed to external interests than to the defense of their own country and seem to be willing to do anything to see Brazil become an American dependency.

Lucas Leiroz is a research fellow in international law at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

February 25, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

Nuclear war ‘more likely’ after US arms subs with low-yield nukes – Tehran

RT | February 25, 202

Iran has blasted Washington for deploying submarines with low-yield nuclear warheads, arguing that the move increases the likelihood of unconventional war.

“Such provocative actions must be condemned,” Mohsen Baharvand, Iran’s deputy foreign minister for international and legal affairs, told the Conference on Disarmament in the UN building in Geneva. He added that the decision will make nuclear war “more likely” and sets the stage for an “accelerated” nuclear arms race.

The Pentagon announced this month that the Navy had fielded a low-yield, submarine-launched ballistic missile warhead, claiming the decision was aimed at deterring nuclear adversaries. The missiles are about as powerful as the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Washington has long accused Iran of seeking to develop its own nuclear weapons – an allegation that Tehran has fiercely denied. The Islamic Republic agreed to far-reaching inspections of nuclear sites as part of the 2015 sanctions-lifting deal reached with the US and several other signatories. US President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the agreement in 2018, even though Tehran was found to be in full compliance with the accord.

February 25, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , | 1 Comment

Deconstructing the election to Iran’s Majlis

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | February 24, 2020

Iran’s parliamentary election on Friday took place in extraordinary circumstances. The pandemic fear over coronavirus significantly impacted the voter turnout, which is estimated to be around 42% (as compared to 62% in the 2016 election to the Majlis). A dozen people have died so far in Iran and a few dozen diagnosed with the virus outbreak. There are conflicting reports. Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Armenia have closed their border with Iran.

The election presages a robust comeback by the conservative faction known as the Principalists. In the 2016 election, the reformists, conservatives and independents won 41%, 29% and 28% of the vote respectively. But this time around, the reformists have been marginalised and the Principalists will dominate the 290-member Majlis with a commanding majority. The Principalists won all 30 seats from Tehran, which is traditionally a key battleground.

There are many underlying factors behind the popular discontent that the election results reflect — in particular, the anger at the 2015 nuclear deal’s failure to bring jobs and social improvements (as promised by President Hassan Rouhani), corruption, mounting social inequality, inflation and poverty rates, water shortages, spiralling cost of living and high unemployment. Strikes and protests among teachers and the working class became frequent in the recent years.

The US sanctions have devastated social conditions, driving up inflation and poverty rates. A report last year by the Iranian parliament’s research office acknowledged that some 57 million of Iran’s 80 million population would live in poverty.

Having established control over the Majlis, the Principalists will most certainly make a determined bid to capture the presidency in the August 2021 election when Rouhani completes the second term in office and must step down as stipulated by the constitution. A politically surcharged climate will prevail in the coming 18-month period.

Rouhani’s capacity to manoeuvre will be severely restricted and as a weakened president, he will have to depend on cooperation of the Principalists, which may not be forthcoming.

One peculiarity of the struggle is that it is also a reflection of differences over foreign policies, especially the standoff with the US. Broadly, the Principalists are hardliners in regard of Iran’s relations with the West, while the reformists have keenly (but vainly) sought Iran’s integration into the world economy by improving the country’s relations with the West.

Thus, the “big picture” is that the Trump administration’s maximum pressure approach has pushed Iran to the right. The assassination of the iconic IRGC general Qasem Soleimani in a US drone attack in January set in motion long-term shifts in Iran’s domestic politics.

Soleimani’s killing prompted the regime to resort to extreme measures to disqualify a broad swathe of moderate and centrist candidates from running in the parliamentary elections.

If Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal dealt a mortal blow to Rouhani’s prestige and created a mass perception that the US is an undependable interlocutor with whom constructive engagement is simply not feasible, the killing of Soleimani has totally discredited Rouhani’s approach towards the US, which eschewed confrontation and placed the accent on diplomacy.

Put differently, the regime is circling the wagons, as it were, sensing an existential threat to the Velayat-e faqih — or guardianship of the Islamic jurist — which is the Shia Islamist system of governance since the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, built on the rule of the clergy over the state.

Several western analysts had warned that the Trump administration’s policies would inevitably discredit the reformists and shift Iran’s political calculus toward the right, with negative consequences for regional security. But such warnings fell on deaf ears.

It almost seems now as if the hardliners in the Trump administration preferred to have the Principalists at the helm of affairs in Tehran. Indeed, no sooner than the conservative surge in the Majlis election appeared, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has floated an inflammatory idea, during a visit to Saudi Arabia this week, that in the coming months, he and Trump will make a major decision about whether to petition the UN to invoke what is known as “snapback” on a set of international sanctions on Iran that were lifted as part of the 2015 nuclear accord.

Such a move has been rumoured for some time but this is the first acknowledgement by the Trump administration. The idea is to “to deal a deathblow to the nuclear deal” and to provoke Tehran to react.

Tehran has already warned that any move to reimpose blanket UN sanctions on Iran will compel it to expel the IAEA inspectors and resume its pre-2015 nuclear programme. Iran may even quit the NPT (as North Korea did.)

In sum, as two well-known American experts Julia Masterson and Samuel M. Hickey wrote recently in an essay in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists titled The US has a backup plan to kill the Iran nuclear deal. It could spark a crisis at the UN :

“A snapping back of UN sanctions on Iran could also lead Iran to kick out international nuclear inspectors, resume additional nuclear activities, and threaten a regional war involving great powers, historic adversaries, and non-state actors across the Middle East. In short, it would manufacture a crisis that the world can ill afford.”

A reconciliation with the West seems all but out of the question for the foreseeable future. The ascendance of the conservatives will likely see Iran’s withdrawal from previous commitment to the 2015 nuclear deal. Free of international control, Tehran can redefine its stance as it wishes.

A concerted effort by Tehran to broaden and deepen relations with China and Russia can be expected. Iran will rely on China and Russia for investment and technology transfers in line with the pivot to “resistance economy”, dispensing with imported goods.

February 25, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , , , | 4 Comments