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Israeli occupation forces impose closure on Bethlehem

Palestine Information Center – March 8, 2020

BETHLEHEM – Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Thursday night closed off Bethlehem City in the West Bank at the pretext that a number of Palestinian citizens were diagnosed with coronavirus.

The IOF banned citizens from entering or leaving the city until further notice.

Local residents said that although there are infected people in both Bethlehem and the Israeli-controlled 1948 territories, stricter measures were taken in Bethlehem, which makes the IOF decision unclear.

On Friday, the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Health announced that the number of people tested positive for coronavirus increased to 16. All of them are placed under quarantine in a hotel in Beit Jala area in Bethlehem.

March 8, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Leave a comment

Mounting concern over SAS operations in southern Syria

British SAS or SBS soldier in action in Syria
Press TV – March 8, 2020

There is mounting concern in the region about the nature and scale of British Special Forces deployment to southern Syria.

The concern comes in the wake of an exclusive report by the Daily Mirror (March 05) that two RAF Chinook helicopters “packed with special forces” troops and medics had “swooped” into southern Syria to rescue a wounded Special Air Service (SAS) operative.

According to the Mirror, the casualty was airlifted from “deep inside the warzone” to a medical facility in Erbil, northern Iraq.

Whilst the Mirror doesn’t say exactly where in southern Syria the SAS soldier was operating, the reference to “warzone” would suggest Deraa province, in the southwest of the country.

There have been clashes in recent days between Syrian government forces and terrorist groups controlling parts of the town of Al-Sanamayn, situated 50 kilometers south of the capital, Damascus.

Based on the realities on the ground, there is mounting speculation that Britain’s elite SAS could be lending a helping hand to anti-government forces in and around Al-Sanamayn.

British Special Forces, both in the form of the SAS and its allied unit, the Special Boat Service (SBS), have been operating in Syria for seven years.

According to the Mirror, more than 30 British special operatives have been injured in Syria. There has been at least one combat fatality, that of Sergeant Matt Tonroe, who was killed in a joint US/UK operation in March 2018.

Late last year it was reported that British Special Forces in Syria were beating a hasty retreat following US President, Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of Syria.

The latest incident appears to indicate that the SAS and SBS continue to operate in Syria based on the needs of allied Syrian rebel and terrorist groups.

The exfiltration of the injured SAS soldier will cause huge concern as the rescue operation involved RAF choppers taking off from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus before flying through Israeli airspace to northern Jordan and onto southwestern Syria.

This brazen violation of Syrian sovereignty is likely to aggravate Britain’s outlaw status in Damascus, where both the Syrian government and people take a dim view of Britain’s hostile interference in their internal affairs.

March 8, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Haiti petition challenges foreign policy apparatus

By Yves Engler · March 8, 2020

While it may seem to be a simple call to release documents, Solidarité Québec-Haïti’s House of Commons petition is an indictment of Canada’s entire foreign policy/media apparatus.

In my research about Canadian foreign policy I have come across no equivalent to the “Ottawa Initiative on Haiti”. In early 2003 the federal government organized a private meeting of US, French and Organization of American States officials to discuss replacing Haiti’s elected government, putting the country under UN trusteeship and re-establishing its army. In what was likely a government-organized trial balloon, a prominent journalist working for Québec’s top news magazine reported on it at the time. A year later what was reported/discussed largely transpired.

Nonetheless, after the February 29, 2004, coup the dominant media refused to investigate the “Ottawa Initiative on Haiti” and barely mentioned the meeting. A Canadian Newsstand search found not one single English language report about the meeting (except two opinion pieces by me and another solidarity activist that mentioned it). La Presse may be the only corporate newspaper to have reported on the “Ottawa Initiative on Haiti” in the 15 years after the coup. In that case progressive journalist Jooned Khan used space made available during Haiti’s February 2006 election upheaval to briefly mention the gathering on two occasions.

Recently a major media outlet looked back on the “Ottawa Initiative on Haiti”. In a 45-minute report tied to the 10thanniversary of the 2010 earthquake Radio-Canada’s flagship news program “Enquête” reported on it. They interviewed Denis Paradis, the Liberal minister responsible for organizing the meeting, who admitted no Haitian officials were invited to discuss their own country’s future during the get together in 2003. They also interviewed Solidarité Québec-Haïti member Jean Saint-Vil who offered a critical perspective.

In a bid to build on this media breakthrough, Solidarité Québec-Haïti has launched a House of Commons petition referencing Enquête’s report and calling on the government to “Publish all documents relating to the ‘Ottawa Initiative on Haiti’” and to “Hold a hearing of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development to learn everything there is to know about the ‘Ottawa Initiative on Haiti,’ including its link to the “Core Group.” Bloc Québecois MP Mario Beaulieu has sponsored it.

Just after the coup then NDP MP Svend Robinson requested minutes of the private meeting be made available. Subsequently, researcher Anthony Fenton placed an Access to Information request for all documents related to the “Ottawa Initiative on Haiti”. What he received was heavily redacted. In Haiti Betrayed, a powerful new documentary about Canadian imperialism, Elaine Brière notes that the government refused to release documents related to the Ottawa Initiative on Haiti.

The meeting remains politically relevant. Enquête suggested the Ottawa Initiative on Haiti led to the creation of the “Core Group,” an alliance of foreign ambassadors that largely determines Haitian affairs. Solidarité Québec-Haïti is using the petition to pressure Ottawa to withdraw from the “Core Group”, which is the real power behind corrupt, repressive and illegitimate president Jovenel Moïse.

The petition requires 175 more signatures to be presented in the House of Commons, which will force the government to formally respond. If you are a citizen or permanent resident of Canada please sign it.

March 8, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , | Leave a comment

Syria Debacles Epitomize Perpetual Perfidy of U.S. Foreign Policy

By James Bovard | Future of Freedom Foundation | March 6, 2020

Turkey is ratcheting up its invasion of Syria and trying to drag NATO into Erdogan’s personal rehabilitation scheme. Threats and counter-threats are flying as thickly as the bombs and bullets. It remains to be seen whether U.S. policymakers will blunder deeper into this quagmire.

Last October, the Washington establishment was aghast when President Trump appeared to approve a Turkish invasion of northern Syria. The U.S. was seen as abandoning the Kurds, some of whom had allied with the U.S. in the fight against ISIS and other terrorist groups. But the indignation over the latest U.S. policy shift in the Middle East is farcical considering the long record of U.S. double-crosses. Rather than the triumph of American idealism, recent U.S. policy has been perpetual perfidy leavened with frequent doses of idiocy.

Almost none of the media coverage of the Turkish invasion and flight of Kurdish refugees mentioned that President George H. W. Bush had urged the Kurds and other Iraqis to “take matters into their own hands and force Saddam Hussein, the dictator, to step aside” during the U.S. bombing campaign in 1991 in the first Gulf War. After it became clear that the U.S. military could not protect the Kurds from Saddam’s backlash, U.S. policymakers basically shrugged and moseyed along. As a CNN analysis noted in 2003, “Bush refrained from aiding Kurdish rebels in the north, although he finally sent troops and relief supplies to protect hundreds of thousands of fleeing Kurds who were in danger of freezing or starving to death. Bush has never regretted his decision not to intervene.” George H.W. Bush’s abandonment and betrayal of the Kurds did nothing to deter the media and political establishment from posthumously sainting him after he died in late 2018.

U.S. meddling in the Middle East multiplied after the 9/11 attacks. Even though most of the hijackers were Saudis who received plenty of assistance from the Saudi government, the George W. Bush administration seized the chance to demonize and assault Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi regime. President Bush portrayed his invasion of Iraq as American idealism at his best. In his May 1, 2003 “Mission Accomplished” speech abroad the USS Abraham Lincoln, Bush hailed “the character of our military through history” for showing “the decency and idealism that turned enemies into allies.” Speaking three weeks later at a Republican fundraiser, Bush bragged, “The world has seen the strength and the idealism of the United States military.” Washington Post columnist David Ignatius declared in late 2003 that “this may be the most idealistic war fought in modern times.” The torture scandal at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere in Iraq has not been permitted to deter the recent semi-canonization of George W. Bush by the establishment media.

The Bush administration and their media allies produced one smokescreen after another to sanctify the war. Almost all the pre-invasion broadcast news stories on Iraq originated with the federal government. PBS’s Bill Moyers noted that “of the 414 Iraq stories broadcast on NBC, ABC and CBS nightly news, from September 2002 until February 2003, almost all the stories could be traced back to sources from the White House, the Pentagon, and the State Department.” A 2008 report by the Center for Public Integrity found that “in speeches, briefings, interviews and other venues, Bush and administration officials stated unequivocally on at least 532 occasions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or was trying to produce or obtain them or had links to al-Qaida or both.” The report concluded that the “false statements – amplified by thousands of news stories and broadcasts” created “an almost impenetrable din for several critical months in the run-up to war.” Bush’s falsehoods on Iraq proved far more toxic than anything in Saddam’s arsenal. But the exposure of the official lies did not deter Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld from equating criticizing the Iraq war with appeasing Adolph Hitler in 2006.

The chaos from the 2003 invasion of Iraq was still spiraling out of control when the Bush administration began seeking pretexts to attack Iran, which Bush had designated part of the “Axis of Evil” in his 2002 State of the Union address. Bush officials and subsequent administration chose to champion the Iranian terrorist group, Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK). That organization sprang up in the 1960s and proceeded to kill Americans in the 1970s and to kill large numbers of Iranians in the subsequent decades. A 2004 FBI report noted that MEK continued to be “actively involved in planning and executing acts of terrorism.” NBC News reported in early 2012 that MEK carried out killings of Iranian nuclear scientists and that it “financed, trained and armed by Israel’s secret service.”

That was the same year that a stampede of Washington hustlers took huge payoffs to publicly champion de-listing the MEK as a terrorist organization. As Trita Parsi noted in the New York Review of Books, MEK “rented office space in Washington, held fundraisers with lawmakers, or offered US officials speaking fees to appear at their gatherings. But the MEK did this openly for years, despite being on the US government’s terrorist list.” Federal law prohibited taking money from or advocating on behalf of any designated terrorist group. But, as a 2011 Huffpost headline reported, “Former U.S. Officials Make Millions Advocating For Terrorist Organization.” Former FBI boss Louis Freeh, former CIA boss Porter Goss, co-chair of the 9/11 Commission Lee Hamilton, former attorney general Michael B. Mukasey, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge pocketing $30,000 or more for brief speeches to pro-MEK events. Glenn Greenwald rightly scoffed that the advocacy for MEK “reveals the impunity with which political elites commit the most egregious crimes, as well as the special privileges to which they explicitly believe they — and they alone — are entitled.” Greenwald pointed that average people were scourged by the same law the pooh-bahs brazenly trampled: “A Staten Island satellite TV salesman in 2009 was sentenced to five years in federal prison merely for including a Hezbollah TV channel as part of the satellite package he sold to customers.”

Thanks in part to the torrent of insider endorsements, the Obama administration canceled the MEK’s terrorist designation in 2012. While Washington poohbahs continue portraying the group as idealistic freedom fighters devoted to democracy, a simple online search shows that the Farsi translation of the group’s name is “holy warriors of the people,” as Ted Carpenter noted in his new book, Gullible Superpower. Trump administration officials have gurgled about MEK’s possible role in ruling Iran after the current government is toppled. But MEK remains odious to the Iranian people regardless of the group’s PR successes inside the Beltway.

The prior pratfalls of U.S. Middle East policy did nothing to stymie the outrage over Trump asserted that he was withdrawing U.S. troops from eastern Syria. Congress showed more indignation about a troop pullback than it had shown the loss of all the American soldiers’ lives in pointless conflicts over the past 18 years. The House of Representatives condemned Trump by a 354 to 60 vote, and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, proclaimed, “At President Trump’s hands, American leadership has been laid low, and American foreign policy has become nothing more than a tool to advance his own interests.” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said he felt “horror and shame” over Trump’s action. Boston Globe columnist Stephen Kinzer aptly described Congress’s protest as “a classic example of ‘buffet outrage,’ in which one picks and chooses which horrors to condemn.”

President Barack Obama had promised 16 times that there would be no “U.S. boots on the ground” in Syria; when Obama betrayed that promise, Congress did nothing. Trump’s plans to have fewer U.S. boots on the ground in Syria — or at least in part of it — somehow became the moral equivalent of giving Alaska back to Russia. Pundits attacked politicians who supported the troop pullback as “Russian assets” – i.e., traitors.

Syria offers another reminder that “material support of terrorism” is a federal crime unless you work for the CIA, State Department, Pentagon, or White House. After President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and former Secretary of State John Kerry all publicly declared that Syrian president Assad must exit power, the U.S. armed terrorist groups to topple Assad. The Obama administration’s beloved, non-existent “moderate Syrian rebels” achieved nothing. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the PKK, a prime beneficiary of the U.S. occupation, has been considered a terrorist group by the U.S. government since 1997. Evan McMullin, a 2016 presidential candidate, admitted on Twitter: “My role in the CIA was to go out & convince Al Qaeda operatives to instead work with us.” Such absurdities spurred Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, to introduce The Stop Arming Terrorists Act in 2017 to prohibit any U.S. funding of terrorist groups. Gabbard’s bill was mostly ignored and never enacted though her outspoken criticism of U.S. policy did spur Hillary Clinton and others to vilify her.

Prominent politicians and much of the media blamed Trump for the attacks on civilians that followed the Turkish invasion, carried out mainly by groups allied with the Turkish government. U.S.-armed terrorist groups involved in the Turkish invasion have freed Islamic State prisoners. A Turkish think tank analyzed the violent groups committing atrocities in Syria after the start of the Turkish invasion; “Out of the 28 factions, 21 were previously supported by the United States, three of them via the Pentagon’s program to combat DAESH. Eighteen of these factions were supplied by the CIA.” A prominent Turkish journalist observed after his government invaded Syria: “The groups that were educated and equipped by the United States west of the Euphrates are now fighting against the groups east of the Euphrates that have been also educated and equipped by the United States.” This is nothing new: in 2016, Pentagon-backed Syrian rebels have openly battled CIA-backed rebels in Syria. A prominent Assad opponent who organized a conference of anti-Assad groups financed by the CIA was denied political asylum in 2017 because he provided “material support” to the Free Syrian Army, which meant he had “engaged in terrorist activity,” according to the Department of Homeland Security. A press backlash spurred a reversal on that decision but the media mostly ignored the other contradictions in U.S. policy in Syria.

Members of Congress were indignant that Syrian civilians suffered as the result of Trump’s troop pullback. But both Congress and most of the American media ignored the Syrian women, children, and men who died as a result of U.S. policies that intensified and prolonged that nation’s civil war. This is typical inside the Beltway scoring: the only fatalities worthy of recognizing are those that are politically useful.

Despite Trump’s sporadic declarations on Syria, the U.S. continues to have more than 50,000 troops deployed in the Middle East. The sooner those troops come home, the less likely that our nation will be dragged into another quagmire. The perennial follies and frauds of Middle East policy provide one of the strongest arguments for the United States to mind its own business.

March 8, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Heads up – naval sitrep

By Nat South | The Saker Blog | March 8, 2020

Photo op of US State Department delegation putting a foot into Idlib. Kelly Craft & James Jeffrey met with the White Helmets at the Turkish /Syrian border.

2. France News 24 (02/03)

3. U.S. Intel sources indicate… (06/03)

Rumour control: the ‘unconfirmed’, ‘unverifiable’ type as usual from journalists & media sources who diligently and blindly act as stenographers. Rather telling that a time when Syria & Russia have potentially achieved an important element of the 2018 Sochi agreement, (security corridor for M4 route & M5 secured), following talks between Erdogan & Putin in Moscow, we are now once more fed US anonymous intel stories about chemical weapon usage in Syria.

There a few other items of a similar kind of nature from the narrative keepers of regime change circulating on social media. I like to think that this isn’t a case of deja-vu, recalling events leading up to April 2018. I like to think I am completely wrong in having this feeling, but I cannot help sensing a brewing geopolitical storm that just keeps going. So, with this in mind, I will briefly outline what is the situation at sea, in the Eastern Mediterranean in particular.

To use an expression, keeping an eye on the ball on the current naval situation in the Eastern Mediterranean. Noteworthy is this: tweet from the U.S. Navy in Europe. The newly arrived U.S. carrier group trained with its French counterpart, ‘Charles de Gaulle’ which has been in the Eastern Mediterranean for a few weeks. Officially, the ‘Ike’ will be “conducting operations in U.S. 6th Fleet to support maritime security operations in international waters alongside our allies and partners.”

The last time that the USS Dwight Eisenhower and ‘Charles de Gaulle’ operated together was in 2016. This wasn’t however the first time that the French nuclear carrier operated alongside a U.S. one though (2014). As such, it would be difficult to infer any imminent operations from such activities. I remember a few commentators on the verge of hyperventilating over the presence of USS carriers back April 2019. along with the presence of another in the region. Abraham Lincoln and John C. Stennis carrier strike groups carried out operations in the Mediterranean Sea.

The presence of either U.S. or French aircraft carriers does not mean rising tensions or imminent operations against Syria, (or vice versa). Ultimately, nothing happened in spring 2019 regarding naval tensions in the region. But there again, there wasn’t the surreal background issue of an intense conflict in Idlib between Turkey and Syria in the media glare. In addition, there is a continuing hostile rhetoric in the air and one example is the U.S. ambassador to the UN was quite vocal in supporting Turkish actions.

Thankfully, the recent conflict did not become a large-scale conflict involving external powers (NATO, USA & Russia). Although, while the situation was escalating on the ground, the Russian Navy did send 2 additional Black Sea Fleet based warships through the Bosphorus on 28 February, reportedly to the Eastern Mediterranean. These were the frigates “Admiral Makarov” and “Admiral Grigorovich”. Not actually significant compared to the scale of the build-up in 2018 where at least an additional 6 Russian Navy ships & possibly 2 submarines were sent to the region in a 3-week period.

Contrary to some pundits, the arrival of the ‘Ike’ was not a response to escalating events over Idlib, since these deployments are planned a long time beforehand. Yet it was unusual in that it left straight after successfully completing the Composite Unit Training Exercise (COMPTUEX).

It seems weird to have the issue of chemical attacks pop up in the March/April period with the accusations that the “Assad Regime” has launched a chemical weapons attack on the so-called moderate opposition held areas. Then the West finger pointing at Russia and insults of anyone dissenting of being Russian propaganda mouthpieces. “Time will tell” and the April 2019 incident was shown to be a macabre false flag, highlighting serious concerns over manipulation of information & blatant bias of the resulting OPCW report, as confirmed by whistle-blowers.

Here is an outline of claimed reported chemical weapons attacks in March/April:

March 2013 Aleppo

April 2013 Saraqeb

April 2014 Kafr Zita

March 2015 Sarmin

April 2017 Khan Sheikhoun

(This resulted in an U.S. Tomahawk strike from 2 U.S. warships)

April 2018 Douma

(Multiple air / sea launched missiles strikes – U.S. UK & France).

April 2019 – claim made.

If you look at the date of the above 2019 article, it just happens to coincide with the presence of the two U.S. carrier groups in spring 2019. Worth noting is that the April 2018 strikes did not involve carriers at all. Effectively, the destroyers & submarines are already operating in the Eastern Mediterranean and it is only these that are needed to carry out sea-based missile strikes, (2017 & 2018).

Do we now have another round of rumours? Another round of brazen & contrived attempts to frame Syria & Russia as disinfo ops designed to trigger principally USA retaliation, at a time when the situation in Idlib has ended with a ceasefire to the advantage of Syria & Russia. Another sequel in the making? The Russian MoD stated recently that jihadists did attempt to carry out a chemical weapons attack to frustrate Syrian government forces but instead got poisoned themselves in Saraqeb.

As it stands, it is business as usual in the Mediterranean with the U.S. Navy, along with the USNS and the Russian Navy. The Russian Navy rescue ship ‘Prof. Muru’ is in the Eastern Mediterranean off Crete, possibly waiting and watching the U.S. Navy. One of the Admiral Grigorovich class deployed in the Mediterranean has left it, going through the Strait of Gibraltar on March 5 leaving two other frigates on station.

A bigger picture of the composition & types of ships Russian Navy forward deployed from Tartus is provided in this tweet. The main point is that the Russian Navy presence in the Eastern Mediterranean is largely to protect the Russian bases, not to counter NATO or the U.S. It is composed of very few combat ships and mostly logistical support. The main ASW backbone is the submarine force and the 2 frigates. That’s it. The only interesting event was the deployment in quick succession of 3 ships from the Black Sea as part of the regular longstanding Syrian Express, (BDK Orsk, Novocherkassk & Caesar Kunikov). It is the latest tangible support for operations in Idlib, especially with regards to providing new equipment and also replacements for equipment destroyed by the Turks. Lastly, that is not to say that the Russian Navy sits idly, every mission is a learning experience, with Syrian lessons fed back into across all level into the training infrastructure on the whole.

Note:

The only other significant Russian Navy warship that could beef up the contingent was last in Colombo, Sri Lanka. “Yaroslav Mudry”left on March 6. https://twitter.com/srilankaglobal/status/1236268463947165696 Additionally, the ‘Admiral Vinogradrov’ also called into Colombo.

The French carrier has now left the Mediterranean after 7 weeks operations in the east.

https://twitter.com/marinenationale/status/1236354201866784768<

March 8, 2020 Posted by | Militarism, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Long Roots of Our Russophobia

By Jeremy Kuzmarov | CounterPunch | March 6, 2020

For the last five years, the American media has been filled with scurrilous articles demonizing Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putin has been accused of every crime imaginable, from shooting down airplanes, to assassinating opponents, to invading neighboring countries, to stealing money to manipulating the U.S. president and helping to rig the 2016 election.

Few of the accusations directed against Putin have ever been substantiated and the quality of journalism has been at the level of “yellow journalism.”

In a desperate attempt to sustain their political careers, centrist Democrats like Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton accused their adversaries of being Russian agents – again without proof.

And even the progressive hero Bernie Sanders – himself a victim of red-baiting – has engaged in Russia bashing and unsubstantiated accusations for which he offers no proof.

Guy Mettan’s book, Creating Russophobia: From the Great Religious Schism to Anti-Putin Hysteria (Atlanta: Clarity Press, 2017) provides needed historical context for our current political moment, showing how anti-Russian hysteria has long proliferated as a means of justifying Western imperialism.

Mettan is a Swiss journalist and member of parliament who learned about the corruption of the media business when his reporting on the world anticommunist league rankled his newspapers’ shareholders, and when he realized that he was serving as a paid stenographer for the Bosnian Islamist leader Alija Izetbegovic in the early 1990s.

Mettan defines Russophobia as the promotion of negative stereotypes about Russia that associate the country with despotism, treachery, expansion, oppression and other negative character traits. In his view, it is “not linked to specific historical events” but “exists first in the head of the one who looks, not in the victim’s alleged behavior or characteristics.”

Like anti-semitism, Mettan writes, “Russophobia is a way of turning specific pseudo-facts into essential one-dimensional values, barbarity, despotism, and expansionism in the Russian case in order to justify stigmatization and ostracism.”

The origins of Russophobic discourse date back to a schism in the Church during the Middle Ages when Charlemagne was crowned emperor of the Roman empire and modified the Christian liturgy to introduce reforms execrated by the Eastern Orthodox Churches of the Byzantine empire.

Mettan writes that “the Europe of Charlemagne and of the year 1000 was in need of a foil in the East to rebuild herself, just as the Europe of the 2000s needs Russia to consolidate her union.”

Before the schism, European rulers had no negative opinions of Russia. When Capetian King Henri I found himself a widower, he turned towards the prestigious Kiev kingdom two thousand miles away and married Vladimir’s granddaughter, Princess Ann.

A main goal of the new liturgy adopted by Charlemagne was to undermine any Byzantine influence in Italy and Western Europe.

Over the next century, the schism evolved from a religious into a political one.

The Pope and the top Roman administration made documents disappear and truncated others in order to blame the Easterners.

Byzantium and Russia were in turn rebuked for their “caesaropapism,” or “Oriental style despotism,” which could be contrasted which the supposedly enlightened, democratic governing system in the West.

Russia was particularly hated because it had defied efforts of Western European countries to submit to their authority and impose Catholicism.

In the 1760s, French diplomats working with a variety of Ukrainian, Hungarian and Polish political figures produced a forged testament of Peter 1 [“The Great”] purporting to reveal Russia’s ‘grand design’ to conquer most of Europe.

This document was still taken seriously by governments during the Napoleanic wars; and as late as the Cold War, President Harry Truman found it helpful in explaining Stalin.

In Britain, the Whigs, who represented the liberal bourgeois opposition to the Tory government and its program of free-trade imperialism, were the most virulent Russophobes, much like today’s Democrats in the United States.

The British media also enflamed public opinion by taking hysterical positions against Russia – often on the eve of major military expeditions.

The London Times during the 1820s Greek Independence war editorialized that no “sane person” could “look with satisfaction at the immense and rapid overgrowth of Russian power.” The same thing was being written in The New York Times in the 2010s.

A great example of the Orientalist stereotype was Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula, whose main character was modeled after Russian ruler, Ivan the Terrible. As if no English ruler in history was cruel either.

The Nazis took Russo-phobic discourse to new heights during the 1930s and 1940s, combining it with a virulent anti-bolshevism and anti-semitism.

A survey of German high school texts in the 1960s found little change in the image of Russia. The Russians were still depicted as “primitive, simple, very violent, cruel, mean, inhuman, cupid and very stubborn.”

The same stereotypes were displayed in many Hollywood films during the Cold War, where KGB figures were particularly maligned.

No wonder that when a former KGB agent, Vladimir Putin, took power, people went insane.

Russophobia in the United States has been advanced most insidiously by the nation’s foreign policy elite who have envisioned themselves as grand chess-masters seeking to checkmate their Russian adversary in order to control the Eurasian heartland.

This view is little different than European colonial strategists who had learned of the importance of molding public opinion through disinformation campaigns that depicted the Russian bear as a menace to Western civilization.

Guy Mettan has written a thought-provoking book that provides badly needed historical context for the anti-Russian delirium gripping our society.

Breaking the taboo on Russophobia is of vital importance in laying the groundwork for a more peaceful world order and genuinely progressive movement in the United States. Unfortunately, recent developments don’t inspire much confidence that history will be transcended.

Jeremy Kuzmarov is the author of The Russians are Coming, Again: The First Cold War as Tragedy, the Second as Farce (Monthly Review Press, 2018) and Obama’s Unending Wars: Fronting for the Foreign Policy of the Permanent Warfare State (Atlanta: Clarity Press, 2019).<

March 8, 2020 Posted by | Book Review, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

Looking For Acceleration In All The Wrong Places

By Willis Eschenbach | Watts Up With That? | March 8, 2020

After considering the tide gauge records around Fairbourne in my last post, I wanted to look at a larger picture. Remember that we’ve been repeatedly told that acceleration in sea level rise is not just forecast, it’s actually occurring. I wrote about some of these claims in my post entitled “Accelerating The Acceleration“. Plus we’ve been deluged, if you’ll excuse the word, with endless cartoons and memes and movies and earnest predictions about the Statue of Liberty going underwater, cities being drowned, islands being overtopped by the sea, and the like. And not only that, but we’re assured that we can see and measure the acceleration in both the tide gauge and the satellite sea-level records.

So I went to get the satellite sea-level records from the University of Colorado. But when I plotted them up, I realized that they stopped in 1918. I couldn’t find anything on their website that explained why. Here’s their data.

Figure 1. University of Colorado sea-level record. Note that it is a splice of four satellite datasets that all seem to be in quite good agreement.

I wanted more up-to-date records, so I went to the AVISO site. That’s the French group that is keeping the original satellite records.

I did have to laugh, though, when I looked around the AVISO site and found the following graph:

Figure 2. All nine available satellite sea-level records

YIKES! I truly had no idea that it was all this bad. It seems the good folks in Colorado have simply picked some convenient records from the group above, spliced them together, and called it a valid record fit for all purposes.

I, on the other hand, would say that this is enough data to maybe give us a trend with lots of uncertainty … but teasing acceleration out of that farrago? Don’t make me laugh.

However, I figured I’d look at the AVISO “Reference” dataset. This is the dataset shown in green above. It is basically identical to the Colorado dataset, but it extends to the end of 2019. So I analyzed it.

Now, I’ve recently started to use a sea-level analysis method I developed myself. It’s based on a lovely kind of analysis called “Complete Ensemble Empirical Mode Decomposition” (CEEMD). I described CEEMD in a 2015 post called “Noise Assisted Data Analysis“.

What the CEEMD method does is to identify and remove, one by one, the underlying cycles in the dataset under analysis. And at the end of the CEEMD analysis what’s left is called the “Residual”. It’s what remains when all identifiable cycles have been removed.

Of course, the method can’t identify the cycles that are nearly as long as the dataset itself or longer. So for example, from my last analysis, I looked at 40 to 50 year long datasets. Here’s an example, this one is 44 years long.

Figure 3. A CEEMD analysis of the tidal data from Fishguard, Wales.

As you can see, this has not removed a cycle that’s on the order of 33 years long—too long to resolve in a 44-year dataset.

And this demonstrates a huge problem with trying to determine if the rate of sea level rise is accelerating. It’s well known that the tides have very long-term cycles of fifty years and more. But as I pointed out in my post called “Accelerating The Acceleration“, the people who produced the “US Sea Level Report Card” cut the tidal data short. They removed everything before 1969 … which guarantees that the signal will still contain cycles. And that, in turn, guarantees that any conclusions that they come to will be meaningless.

The other problem is that in the “US Sea Level Report Card”, they don’t even attempt to remove the tidal cycles at all. They foolishly think that you just need to check and see if the raw data is accelerating … but instead, they end up simply measuring some long-term tidal cycle or other.

With that as prologue, I decided to look at the longest sea-level records and see if there is any acceleration. We have a few of these that have 100 to 150+ years of data. This is long enough to remove most of the long-term tidal cycles. As above, I used the CEEMD method to remove the cycles, leaving just the underlying residual. To start with, I looked at the sea-level data for Cuxhaven in Germany. It’s a 176-year dataset.

So just what longer-term sea-level cycles are being removed by the CEEMD method? Here are the empirically-determined groups of cycles that make up the Cuxhaven sea level data:

Figure 4. Periodograms of the groups of cycles removed from the Cuxhaven sea level data by the CEEMD method.

As you might expect, there are a number of short-term cycles between one and five years. There is also energy in cycles that peak at eight, seventeen, and twenty-four years or so. Note that one of the largest cycles is up near fifty years … highlighting the foolishness of a) not removing the persistent long-period tidal cycles, and b) using short-length datasets to try to determine if there is acceleration.

Finally, note that there is still some energy in cycles longer than fifty years. This is why we need very long datasets in order to determine if there is acceleration.

So what’s left as a residual once we remove all of those cycles from the Cuxhaven data? Here’s the result:

Figure 5. CEEMD analysis of the sea level data from Cuxhaven, Germany. Black/white line is the original Cuxhaven data.

As you can see, there is no sign of acceleration in the Cuxhaven sea level data. Remember that we’ve been warned for the last thirty years that sea level would be accelerating and cities would be drowning … but it appears that the ocean didn’t get the memo.

Let me demonstrate how badly folks are going wrong by using shorter-term data and not removing the underlying tidal cycles from the original data. Here’s the previous graph, plus a Gaussian smooth in blue of the post-1950 original data.

Figure 6. As in Figure 5, but with a 19-year FWHM centered Gaussian smooth of the post-1950 original data.

Now, if all that we had was the 68 years of the post-1950 data, and in addition, we didn’t remove any underlying cycles, we’d look at the blue gaussian smooth and come away firmly convinced that the sea level was running level from 1950 to about 1975, and that it had accelerated since then … none of which is true. That’s just one of the underlying longer-term tidal swings that are removed by the CEEMD method. And unfortunately, scientists around the planet are all too frequently mistaking those tidal swings for an underlying acceleration.

Unwilling to stop there, I looked at a number of the few other long-term sea level datasets we have. As you might expect, most of them are from Europe. Here’s a 170-year dataset from Wismar in Germany.

Figure 7. CEEMD residual analysis. Black/white line is the actual data. 

Again, there’s no sign at all of any acceleration in the Wismar data.

And below, without much in the way of comments, are a number of the other long-term sea-level datasets. In all cases, the black/white line with dots is the original data.

I don’t see the rumored acceleration in those plots. I’d also say that the early data from IJmudgen is very suspect … next, some data from the US.

Note the larger trend in Baltimore, which is known to be the result of land subsidence along most of the US east coast.

And to close out this section, here’s the longest uninterrupted sea-level dataset I know of, that of Stockholm in Sweden, two hundred and seventeen years long …

You can see how the earth in Sweden is still rebounding from being covered with trillions of tons of ice during the most recent glaciation. The land is actually rising faster than the ocean … go figure.

So those are the majority of the long tidal datasets. I gotta say, I am simply not seeing the acceleration claimed by the boffins. I don’t know just how they’ve calculated their results, but the best long-term datasets that we have simply don’t show the acceleration that they claim to find.

In closing, let me circle back to where I started, with the spliced AVISO satellite sea level data. Here’s what the AVISO and the Colorado folks are combining to get their final data:

Figure 8. The four satellite sea-level records chosen by Colorado and Aviso from the nine extant satellite sea-level records.

I gotta say … given that the satellite sea level is supposed to be accurate to tenths of a millimetre per year, why are there such large differences between the different satellite records?

In any case, here is the same data, with a black line showing their final dataset created by combining those four datasets.

Figure 9. The four satellite sea-level records chosen by Colorado and Aviso from the nine extant satellite sea-level records, along with their combined record which is shown in black.

Hmmm … and finally, here is the CEEMD analysis of that combined record.

Figure 10. CEEMD analysis of the AVISO / Colorado satellite dataset. It is composed of four different satellite datasets spliced together. Midpoints of the splices are shown by the vertical red dotted lines.

Now, is there acceleration in that record?

Well … regarding the question of whether there is acceleration shown in that spliced satellite record, I’ll say the three most important words that any scientist can ever say:

We. Don’t. Know.

We don’t know for a few reasons. The first is that it’s a spliced dataset, and the changes in the trend line all occur at and after the splices. Makes a man suspicious, particularly given the differences in the initial individual datasets.

The second is that the record is only 27 years long, so we really don’t have enough data to draw many conclusions. This is particularly true since the variations from a straight line are quite small.

Third, the rise was right along the linear trend line up until 2005. So there was no acceleration before that time. Then the rate of rise started decreasing around 2005 … deceleration rather than acceleration? Why? And then, according to the spliced dataset, it started rising faster around 2011. Again, why? Assuredly those three, first a straight line, then deceleration, then acceleration, are unlikely to be caused by a monotonic rise in CO2. Nor do they conform with any expected pattern of acceleration.

Finally, as with many other tidal records shown above, the satellite seems to be “porpoising” above and below the trend line. There’s no clear acceleration anywhere in the record.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS

The long-term tide gauge datasets are all in agreement that there is no acceleration, neither in the early nor in the recent parts of the records. Yes, they often porpoise a bit above and a bit below the trend line, but there is no evidence of any CO2-caused recent increase in the rate of sea-level rise.

The satellite dataset, on the other hand, is a splice of a selected four of the nine available satellite sea-level datasets. The changes in trend seem to be associated with the splices. Unfortunately, this spliced record is both too short and too fractured to draw any conclusions about acceleration.

March 8, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science | | Leave a comment

Cancer in US Navy Nuclear Powered Ships

By Chris Busby | CounterPunch | March 6, 2020

Here is a good one. In 2011, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan was about 100km off the coast of Japan at the time of the Tsunami and the subsequent Fukushima reactor explosions. It was directed by the US government to ride to the rescue in what was later called Operation Tomodachi (friendship)–to provide assistance to the victims of the floods. What no-one on board was told was that the reactors had exploded and a plume of highly radioactive material was blowing east from the site into the path of the vessel. Of course, when this arrived, all the radiation monitors on the boat started screaming, and the planes and helicopters that had flown the rescue sorties were contaminated.

In 2014 I was engaged by some California attorneys to advise on a court case being taken against the Japanese company TEPCO and the US reactor makers GEC on behalf of the sailors who served on the aircraft-carrier. A significant number of the Ronald Reagan crew were reporting a wide range of weird illnesses including cancers, all of which they were attributing to their radiation exposures. Between 2014 and now, the court arguments were all about procedure: whether the cases should be heard in Japan or in the California where the vessel’s home port of San Diego was. There was a lot of publicity [1]. Eventually, and recently, the California judge decided that the case had to be heard in Japan. This is (in passing) monstrously unjust since Japanese law is different and the sailors cannot afford to go to Japan and hire Japanese lawyers. But this is not the story here.

In 2014, following all the publicity about the cancers, a number of US Senators and important people were asking pertinent questions—the Navy had to do something to answer the accusations that the Fukushima radiation was killing those who sailed on Operation Tomodachi. They panicked. A big report was prepared by the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), entitled: Final Report to the Congressional Defense Committees in Response to the Joint Explanatory Statement Accompanying the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2014, page 90, “Radiation Exposure” [2]. Never use one word when ten will do.

This report rambled on about how low the Fukushima doses were, how everyone acted wonderfully and how all the radioactivity was rapidly cleaned up. The dose reconstruction showed no one got more than a fraction of the Natural Background dose and so forth. We have been here regularly. (The methodology for the dose reconstruction has since disappeared from the link given in the report). Since no-one believes any of this dose bullshit any more, to prove that there was no cancer excess, the Navy took one step too far. They reported the results of their own epidemiology study which they carried out on the Ronald Reagan sailors. This compared the illness yield (including cancers) of the 4,843 RR sailors with a matched control group of 65,269 sailors on nuclear powered ships that were not anywhere near Fukushima. The period of analysis was from 2011 to 2013, about 3 years. This showed that there were more cancers in the control group over that period. The idea clearly was to knock on the head any suggestion that the radiation from Fukushima was the cause of the cancers and other stuff that was the basis of the court case. And this it apparently did.

Their move was to compare the matched “unexposed” control group with the Ronald Reagan group. There were 30% more cancers in the control group after adjusting for age. But what I did was to compare the control group with the National population, using data on cancer rates by age group from the SEER database [3]. The result showed an astonishing 9.2-fold excess of cancer in the sailors on nuclear-powered vessels. There were 121 cancers predicted on the basis of the national rates, and 1119 reported by the DTRA study. For the Reagans it was about 6-fold with 46 reported and 7.76 expected. Now this result is astonishing. I wrote my study up for a good scientific peer reviewed journal, and it was published last week [4]. You can find it on academia.edu if you can’t afford the journal cost.

What I discuss in the paper to explain the result is my usual argument about how the radiation protection legislation is wildly incorrect when dealing with internal contamination from radionuclides. The legal limits in USA and the West are based on the comparison of cancers in those exposed to acute external gamma ray doses to the Japanese A-Bomb populations and cannot apply to internal exposures to substances which target DNA (Uranium, Strontium-90) or which provide huge local ionisation to some living cells but nothing at all to others (DU particles, reactor discharge particles).

But this time it really is a big deal. Nine times the expected rates? What are they going to do? It is their own data which they stupidly released. It shows that all the sailors on nuclear powered Navy ships are dying from cancer. You can bet the telephone lines are hot, and that we won’t see any coverage of this in the Theatre newspapers and media. But the sailors themselves and the veterans? What will they think when they find this online but not reported?

Studies of nuclear workers have been the new battleground for this Chess game since it became apparent in the last few years that the Japanese A-Bomb studies were dishonestly manipulated and ignored internal exposures to fallout and rainout [5]. We have seen a number of attempts to kill the argument about low dose radiation and health using nuclear worker studies. There was the Lancet publication in year 2015 [6]. There was the desperate and disgraceful Royal Society publication last year [7]. The late Alexei Yablokov and I wrote to the Lancet Editor on behalf of the Independent WHO [8] asking if we could point out in the journal that the Lancet articles reassuring everyone that the science of radiation risk was secure were written by nuclear industry scientists and were unsafe. The Lancet refused. I wrote to the Royal Society. They also refused to publish anything. What is Truth—says Pilate—waits for no answer.

Nuclear workers work outside at a nuclear site where the discharges get dispersed. Nuclear sailors live in a tin box that also contains the reactors. Nuclear worker studies are based on data that is provided by the nuclear industry to show there are no cancers. The DTRA study had to show more cancers in order to swamp the Ronald Reagan sailors’ cancers. But to do this, they brought out their Queen. And it was taken.

Anyway, let’s not walk further into the What is Truth swamp and discuss the News Theatre. Thankfully this story shows that in this truth argument there are two last frontiers. These are the scientific peer-review literature and the courts. I am representing the widow of a UK nuclear submariner, a man who was a reactor servicing technician and who died from cancer. Let’s see what the Scottish court makes of this paper. Read it yourself and have a laugh. If you are a Navy sailor on a nuclear-powered ship, be very frightened. Write to your Senator. Kick up a fuss.

Notes.

1) https://www.courthousenews.com/us-sailors-face-grim-diagnoses-after-fukushima-mission/

2) Radiation Exposure Report – Health.mil www.health.mil › Reference-Center › Reports › 2014/06/19 › Radiati…

3) https://seer.cancer.gov/data/

4) https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07357907.2020.1731526?journalCode=icnv20

5) https://www.genetics.org/content/204/4/1627

6) https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspb.2017.1070

7) https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspb.2017.1070

8) https://independentwho.org/en/our-demands-to-who/

Dr Chris Busby is the Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Riskand the author of Uranium and Health – The Health Effects of Exposure to Uranium and Uranium Weapons Fallout (Documents of the ECRR 2010 No 2, Brussels, 2010). For details and current CV see chrisbusbyexposed.org. For accounts of his work see greenaudit.orgllrc.org and nuclearjustice.org.

March 8, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Nuclear Power | | 5 Comments