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Israel kills 10,000th Palestinian since 2000, US media largely ignore it

Mohammed Hamayel, 15, killed by an Israeli sniper on March 11, 2020. (Credit: Palestine Chronicle )
By Alison Weir | If Americans Knew | March 11, 2020

Israeli forces invading Palestinian Territory have just killed a 15-year-old unarmed Palestinian boy. A sniper shot him in the head with an expanding bullet. This is the 10,000th Palestinian killed by an Israeli since the round of violence that began in fall 2000. The boy was reportedly shot in the face.

During the same period, Palestinians have killed 1,270 Israelis. See the list and details on this Timeline of Israeli and Palestinian deaths.

Because US media rarely cover Palestinian deaths, while often emphasizing Israeli deaths, most Americans are unaware that Israeli forces have killed far more people than Palestinian resistance groups, and that Israel kills first in nearly all cycles of violence.

If the situation were reversed, and a Palestinian military force invaded an Israeli town and shot a teenager in the head, it would in all probability be front page news across the U.S.

US news reports also fail to mention that the violence began when colonizers began moving to Palestine in the early 1900s with the intention of taking over the land for a Jewish state, and that Israel was established through a war of what an Israeli historian terms “ethnic cleansing.”

Once again, U.S. news media are largely ignoring Israel’s latest killing of a Palestinian youth. Other than an automatic Associated press feed buried on their websites, there don’t seem to have been any reports on the death by NPR, CNN, the New York Times, Washington Post, PBS, etc.

Source: IsraelPalestineTimeline.org


Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew, president of the Council for the National Interest, and author of Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel.

March 11, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , | 3 Comments

This Isn’t a “Saudi-Russian” Oil War. It’s a Saudi & Russian War on Shale

MBS couldn’t get Russia to join him in aggressive cuts, so he forced it to join him in aggressive pumping — but Russia is not his target

By Marko Marjanović | Anti-Empire | March 11, 2020

The media is so eager to see Putin behind everything that it can’t see it is the Saudis who started this, and it’s US oil they’re targeting exactly as they already did once before.

At OPEC+ in Vienna Russia offered to extend the current cuts for another three months and then meet again. Saudi Arabia instead wanted to take another 1.5 million bpd from the market.

When Russia balked the Saudis made a 180-degree turn and declined the extension of existing cuts, slapped a big discount on their oil, and started warming up their spare capacity to start flooding the market come April 1st when the current OPEC+ quotas expire.

The 67-year old Putin wanted to continue the current neither here nor there approach. The 34-year old MBS wanted to try something radical and new. At least ostensibly he wanted more cuts that could lift all producers for which he needed Russia’s cooperation. When he couldn’t get it he instead went the flooding route for which he did not.

The media did MBS a huge favor by failing to notice it was he — the supposed US ally — who blew up the OPEC+ cuts and not Putin. (A typical headline: How Putin spurned the Saudis to start a war on America’s shale oil industry)

The media committed another mistake. It keeps deluding itself this is “Saudi-Russian” war where US energy is merely collateral damage:

This is silly. Just because MBS started flooding after talks with Russia didn’t go his way the media assumes his pumping is directed against Russia. When in fact every indication is that he wanted Russia as a partner, if not in radical cuts for which he needed its acquiescence, then at least in radical pumping for which he did not.

Whatever Russia’s previous preferred path it now has no choice but to fight for market share which will only increase the pressure on shale further. In other words, despite Moscow’s unwillingness the Saudis have in the end added Russian strength to their own, just for a different strategy.

Sure enough, Saudi Arabia is not in a great state to wage a long campaign, but it may not have to. Shale has never been weaker. The Saudis tried to drive it out before, between 2014 and 2017, and failed. Frackers found ways to slash cost and financial markets propped them up with even more loans.

Neither is likely this time around. Most cost-cutting that was possible has likely already been made, and with the next great recession and a drop in demand around the corner financial markets aren’t standing in line to get into energy that barely makes sense even now

Riyadh needs $85 oil to balance its budget. It can not hope to outlast Russia which can live on $40. But a 6-month flooding campaign to see if it can’t, together with Russia, collapse US shale isn’t the dumbest idea ever.

In fact, precisely the fact MBS needs oil at $85 is what would make him more desperate to try radical means to get there, whether they’re deep cuts or unrestricted production.

Call it the MBS stress test of the US oil bubble in an election year. Truly Trump has great friends…

March 11, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | 1 Comment

Must… have… oil…

Climate Discussion Nexus | March 11, 2020

The implosion of investment in Canadian energy, most recently the cancellation of the Teck Frontier oilsands mine and Warren Buffett bailing on Quebec’s giant Énergie Saguenay LNG plant, brings home that if all this airy talk of transitioning away from fossil fuels actually lands, it will land on us very hard. (Mind you poor shy Canada finally got the world’s attention, if it’s any consolation.) As Anjli Raval warns in a major piece in The Financial Times, other countries are expanding their capacity as we crush ours because “The world runs on oil.” It accounts for 34% of world energy consumption, followed by its hydrocarbon cousins coal (27%) and natural gas (24%). But, as climate activists are often reminded in vain about their own lifestyles and protest accessories, “the fossil fuel has also quietly seeped into other aspects of our lives: from paint, washing detergents and nail polish to plastic packaging, medical equipment, mattress foams, clothing and coatings for television screens. Last year, global demand reached a record 100 million barrels a day”. And in Canada we’re part of the demand. Just increasingly not the supply.

Raval’s piece is not triumphal. Far from it. She says oil is bad. Bad bad bad. “Even as our thirst for oil seems insatiable, it is becoming politically and environmentally toxic. As the world wakes up to the catastrophic impact of climate change, from rising sea levels and drought to wildfires and crop failure, scientists have warned of a need to rapidly shift away from fossil fuels. Yet when it comes to oil demand, there is little sign of this happening. Our usage has jumped 62 per cent over the course of a few decades — up from 61.6 million b/d in 1986.” Almost as if we didn’t believe all that talk we keep… emitting.

Raval says “How the world can provide abundant energy supplies while dramatically reducing emissions has become one of the defining issues of our time. The challenge is huge. In order to keep global warming ‘well below’ a 2 C increase, the IEA says the world would need to stomach a fall in oil consumption to 67 million b/d by 2040. Environment analysts argue that we need to learn to survive on far lower levels — about 10 million b/d — and ultimately remove it from our energy system entirely.” Ah. Analysts. Cousins of experts.

If the challenge is huge, the response is not. She notes that “Governments are beginning to take some action, from incentivizing the purchase of low emissions vehicles to funding cleaner energy research.” But doing actual stuff that might matter is a lot harder because, wait for it, oil is vital. “While coal and gas are starting to be displaced by lower-cost renewables in electricity generation, oil has a stranglehold over the transport sector, and the petrochemicals industry is a fast-growing consumer of refined products. Aside from the commercial interests of oil-producer nations and corporations, there is a practical question: How will the world function without a material on which we depend so deeply?… Throughout history, energy has been at the heart of how civilizations have prospered.”

In keeping with the realism of half of the piece, she’s very clear that crude oil did wonders to advance prosperity, a sentiment with which we entirely agree. Then she goes unreal: “Yet humanity’s improved well-being has come at the expense of the planet’s. The earth has warmed by 1 C since pre-industrial times and is likely to heat up by another 2 C by the turn of the century — overshooting the targets of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.”

If so, what happens? Well, we all might sort of die. “A 2018 UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report showed warming beyond 1.5 C risked irreversible changes — from the mass extinction of species to extreme weather and ecosystem changes that threaten global stability.” Scary yet vague. We’re not quite ready to open the sixth seal. But we still commend the piece because it is quite realistic about the situation if not the future.

“Even after the world began moving from coal to other fuels, coal did not disappear. With the emergence of each new source, we have simply added it to the mix rather than replace old ones.” And she quotes Greta Thunberg (who else?) on the urgency of getting not to “net” zero but “real zero”. (Sort of like Canada’s energy industry the way things are going.) But Raval warns, “Cars, trucks and other road vehicles make up more than 40 per cent of global oil usage. When you add in aircraft, ships and trains, transport accounts for about 60 per cent. So any attempt to reduce our oil habit hinges on this sector.” Buildings and industry are also big, so pretty much the stuff that we do that makes us warm, fed and happy or at least entertained. So maybe we can go for “offsets such as planting trees.” It’s gonna take quite a few.

Next Raval makes a daffy claim indeed. She quotes “Jason Bordoff, who heads the Centre on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University” that “Ultimately, the world has to make value judgments about what temperature target it wants to hit.” Value judgements?

To hear the great and good tell it, we already did. We know what temperature target we want to hit. And we’re also arrogant enough to think we don’t just know the ideal temperature (for some reason it’s what we had in 1950, not 1850 or 1150), we also know how to hit it. Except for the tricky bit where we risk turning First World countries into Third World countries and kill vast numbers in Third World countries gone Fourth World by shutting off their path out of poverty because otherwise bad things will happen.

No really. Raval says “The world’s addiction to oil is often compared with tobacco. But while smoking is something people can choose to do, using energy is not…. Yet the cost of climate change could be far greater — and the world is running out of time.”

The piece does at least make plain just how high the cost of giving up oil would be in theory unless and until we find something better. Meanwhile in Canada we’re toying with demonstrating it in practice.

March 11, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science | , | Leave a comment

Dumping contaminated water from Fukushima plant into ocean – the lesser evil?

By Vladimir Odintsov – New Eastern Outlook – 11.03.2020

In February this year, a number of media outlets reported that the Japanese authorities intended to drain more than one million tons of radioactive water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean. According to some experts, this method is the lesser evil because the ocean is able to dilute contaminated water, thus making it safe for people.

Nevertheless, this proposal has already caused discontent, both in Japan and in its neighboring countries.

The Japanese government has not yet officially announced this plan, but the intentions of the Shinzo Abe administration to follow through with this idea are becoming increasingly clear, especially considering the media campaign launched by the authorities in support of the proposal to release the contaminated Fukushima water into the ocean.

Let us remind the reader that 9 years have passed since the accident at the Fukushima power plant, but three of its damaged reactors are far from being dismantled. TEPCO, the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, delivered an ultimatum to the Japanese government demanding that it resolve the problem with radioactive water immediately. Every day, cooling the molten reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant yields an additional 150 cubic meters of contaminated water containing tritium (a radioactive isotope of hydrogen) and other chemicals. The issue concerns the water originally used in the reactors’ cooling circuits during the disaster, and that used to cool the wrecked plant and the remaining fuel. A significant amount of water from underground sources flowing through the land towards the ocean is also being polluted. In total, TEPCO is currently storing 1.1 million cubic meters of radioactive water in one thousand special tanks on the territory of the nuclear power plant (NPP), but based on company’s estimates, it will run out of space for the contaminated water by the summer of 2022. TEPCO announced this in August 2019 and made a proposal to pump the contaminated water from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi NPP into the Pacific Ocean.

The operator has so far failed to convince local fishermen and residents that draining water from the Fukushima plant into the ocean is the best solution. All other ways of resolving the problem, according to TEPCO management, are difficult.

The Japanese government has also not responded as yet to TEPCO’s ultimatum, not only for political reasons, but also in view of the upcoming 2020 Olympic Games, which are scheduled to be held in Japan after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s assurances that the Japanese government had the situation under control after the Fukushima Daiichi accident. Stating that radioactive water would have to be dumped into the Pacific Ocean in the current climate would be an extremely unfortunate option today, as it would, at the very least, lead to a heated discussion about the health of athletes who will be arriving for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. Surfers, for example, will compete for medals 250 kilometers south of Fukushima, at Tsurigasaki Beach on the Pacific Ocean.

It is no secret that leakages of Fukushima water into the ocean earlier on have already resulted in serious environmental problems, i.e. deposits of Cesium-137 on sandy beaches at a considerable distance from the plant. They were brought there by the current. This was discovered in September 2017 (i.e. six and a half years after the nuclear accident), when researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (USA) studied soil samples from a vast area around the nuclear power plant. The only saving grace was the fact that the region in question was uninhabited and there was no risk of radiation exposure.

There was another rather unpleasant incident for the Japanese authorities in 2018, when the owner of the Fukushima Daiichi NPP, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), was forced to apologize after admitting that its systems used to filter the water discharged into the ocean did not remove all hazardous materials from it.

In 2018, American wine from California was found to contain radioactive particles from the accident at Japanese nuclear power plant Fukushima seven years prior. This was reported by scientists of the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) Michael Pavikoff, Christine Marquet and Philippe Hubert, who were studying batches of Californian red and rose wines from grapes harvested in 2009-2012 when they found Cesium-137 particles, a.k.a. radiocesium, in them. This is a man-made isotope formed by nuclear fission in nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons. In the wine produced after the accident at Fukushima Daiichi, the level of radioactive particles was higher than before the disaster.

Small amounts of radioactive isotopes of Iodine and Cesium were also found in vegetables grown in South Korea and in fish caught off the Japanese coast. This caused a crisis in South Korea’s long-established industry: the seafood trade. Based on analyses, one in four fish caught one kilometer from Ibaraki (the main town of the Japanese prefecture of the same name, situated north of the Fukushima NPP) was found to have a slightly higher cesium content than allowed. According to traders, the reports of radiation leaking into the sea led to a 50% decrease in sales of seafood products. As a result, South Korea’s government banned imports of products from the areas surrounding the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The authorities have repeatedly stated that all fish products from Japan are being thoroughly checked.

And these are just some of the cases covered by local and international media outlets.

The sheer scale of consequences stemming from the Fukushima disaster, as well as the previous Chernobyl accident, is such that the problems arising as a result cannot be resolved effectively and completely unless the best world experts are involved. Otherwise, incorrect decisions may not only cause undesirable environmental consequences and affect the health of people in the region, but also further undermine confidence in the nuclear industry. The current Japanese government still has faith in nuclear power and wishes to increase the amount of energy produced by NPPs by 20-22% before 2030.

On February 4, 2020, Japanese authorities held a meeting with embassy officials where they tried to convince the latter of the advantages of the plan to release radioactive water from storage facilities at Fukushima.

It is understandable, to a certain extent, why TEPCO, the Japanese government and individual experts would like to resolve the issue with contaminated water as soon as possible, rather than put it off indefinitely. But it is difficult to support their approach to the problem at hand. Lack of transparency and essentially, the government’s reluctance to fully engage in cooperation with the international community in solving this problem are not beneficial for everyone.

It is still unknown what will eventually happen to the radioactive water from the Fukushima NPP. But so far, the Japanese government has decided to involve a wider group of experts in addressing the issue.

March 11, 2020 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

Israeli Forces Kill Palestinian Teenager near Nablus

Mohammad Hamayel, 15, was killed by Israeli gunfire near Nablus.
Palestine Chronicle | March 11, 2020

A Palestinian teen was killed on Wednesday by Israeli gunfire during confrontations that broke out at Mount Al-‘Arma, south of Nablus, Palestinian Health Ministry announced.

The Ministry announced that Mohammad Hamayel, 15, succumbed to his critical injury at the Rafida Government Hospital after being hit in the head with a round of live ammunition shot by Israeli forces at Mount Al-‘Arma, also known in Arabic as Jabal al-‘Arma.

On Wednesday morning, scores of Israeli military vehicles stormed the site, on the outskirts of Beita town, and assaulted Palestinians who gathered atop the mountain to fend off an Israeli settlers’ attempt to seize it.

The spokesman for the Health Ministry Tarif Ashour confirmed that medics at the Rafidia Government Hospital treated 17 casualties, including the head of the Anti-Wall and Settlement Committee Walid Assaf.

Jewish settlers overnight renewed their attempt to reach the top of the mountain, but hundreds of the residents of Beita, which lies south of Nablus, repelled their attempt.

Residents of Beita have continued their daily sit-ins atop the mountain since Friday, February 28, when settlers made the first attempt to seize the mountain and turn it into an Israeli religious tourist route.

The confrontation left 93 people injured by Israeli live fire and rubber bullets.

Jabal al-‘Arma, which spreads over 250 dunums, is one of the most archeological sites in Nablus, and the highest peak in Beita.

According to historians, it has been inhabited since the early Bronze Age, about 3,200 years ago.

Such features make the mountain a prime target for Jewish settlers as colonial settlements are often positioned above water reserves, effectively stealing water as well as land.

March 11, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | 3 Comments

US Army Cites Cybersecurity Concerns In Scrapping Planned Purchase of Israeli Military Tech

By Whitney Webb | MintPress News | March 11, 2020

After spending $373 million to buy two batteries of the Israeli-made Iron Dome missile defense system, the U.S. Army has announced that it is unable to integrate the batteries it purchased with its other air defense systems because Israel has refused to provide the Army with the source code. The Army asserted that without the source code, the system could not be integrated without causing grave cybersecurity vulnerabilities. As a result, the Army has now scrapped its plans to purchase an additional $600 million worth of Iron Dome components.

Adding insult to injury is the fact that the Iron Dome system itself was largely financed by U.S. taxpayers after Congress authorized over $1.5 billion in taxpayer funds to be used by Israel for the development and production of the Iron Dome system, which has suffered from a series of embarrassing failures since it entered the market.

It remains to be seen if the other countries that have signed deals with Israel to purchase Iron Dome, including Azerbaijan and India, will take notice of the U.S. Army’s decision and similarly scrap those plans given Israel’s apparent refusal to provide the source code to even its closest military ally following purchase.

News of the Army’s decision was made public last Thursday when Gen. Mike Murray, commander of Army Futures Command, spoke to the House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee. “We believe we cannot integrate them into our air-defense system based upon some interoperability challenges, some cyber[security] challenges and some other challenges. So what we ended up having is two stand-alone batteries that will be very capable, but they cannot be integrated,” Murray told the subcommittee.

Murray further stated that it would prove “exceptionally difficult to integrate Iron Dome into our layered air-defense architecture [and] to get Iron Dome to talk to other systems [and] other radars, specifically the Sentinel radar.” “What you’re probably – almost certainly – going to see is two stand-alone systems. And if the best we can do is stand-alone systems, we do not want to buy another two batteries,” Murray added.

If future international purchases of Iron Dome are to be impacted by the U.S. Army’s decision, it will not only be a setback for Israel’s defense industry, but also that of the United States, given that U.S. weapons manufacturer Raytheon produces some of the system’s components and markets the systems within the United States. Notably, current U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper is a former lobbyist for Raytheon, a company that closely collaborates with Israel’s defense industry on other systems as well, such as “David’s Sling.”

Esper’s history may be a factor in a potential reversal of the Army’s recent decision, which was urged by Israel’s Defense Ministry following Gen. Murray’s statements before Congress. Israel’s Defense Ministry asked the Army to reconsider their decision to halt future purchases and overlook the existing cybersecurity hurdles in integrating those already purchased “as it would express confidence and recognition of the system’s ‘exceptional capabilities’ and the quality of Israel’s defense industries,” the Jerusalem Post reported.

Israel’s decision to not reveal the source code of a system the U.S. helped finance and subsequently purchased is striking, particularly given that their refusal to do so has resulted in the loss of considerable revenue and the potential collapse of future international sales of the system. Israel’s history of using backdoors in software for intelligence and military purposes, including at sensitive U.S. government facilities, raise obvious concerns about the motive for such a decision.

Yet, while the U.S. Army has raised cybersecurity concerns about the lack of transparency regarding Iron Dome’s source code, the same company that creates Iron Dome’s software has its software running on critical infrastructure systems throughout the United States. Indeed, Iron Dome’s software was created by mPrest, whose largest stakeholder is Israeli weapons manufacturer Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, which in turn is a state-owned company. Rafael is also the principal developer of the Iron Dome system.

In just the past few years, mPrest has become a major provider of software to U.S. utility companies across the country — from California to New York — and has also entered the European and Australian markets. It remains to be seen if the scrutiny over mPrest’s code for the Iron Dome system and the motives behind it will lead to scrutiny of the software that is being used at critical points of the U.S. power grid, particularly at a time when government officials and private companies (including Israeli-American cybersecurity company Cybereason) are warning that “foreign actors” are targeting the U.S. power grid with malicious intent.

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.

March 11, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , | 2 Comments

Guardian uses misleading data to imply COVID worse than Spanish Flu

By Catte Black | OffGuardian | March 11, 2020

The curious downgrading of the 1918 Spanish Flu case fatality rate, which I looked into March 9, has taken an interesting new turn today, with the Guardian publishing this piece, by science journalist Laura Spinney

Closed borders and ‘black weddings’: what the 1918 flu teaches us about coronavirus

which uses this anomalous lower figure (2.5%) to imply that COVID19 may prove more dangerous than the Spanish Flu:

Last week the WHO provisionally quoted a CFR of 3.4% [for COVID19], which would be alarming if it were correct. The CFR of the 1918 flu is still being debated… but the number usually quoted is 2.5%…

Elsewhere, however she also describes the 1918 Spanish Flu as:

That global human catastrophe, which killed between 50 million and 100 million people…

This is curious for a couple of reasons:

  1. Because the Spanish Flu CFR ‘number usually quoted’ is NOT 2.5% It’s 10-20%. Or 50-100 million deaths from 500 million cases.
  2. Because Spinney herself has pointed out in her book, Pale Rider:the Spanish Flu of 1918 & How it Changed the World, that this lower CFR (2.5%) is irreconcilable with the commonly accepted numbers of dead:

Indeed, as I showed in my previous article, those two figures – a death-rate of 50-100 million and a CFR of 2.5% can’t co-exist. They are mutually exclusive. For 50 million to be 2.5% of all cases there would have to have been 2 billion cases. If 100 million is 2.5% of all cases then there would have to have been 4 billion cases. Even the lower figure is greater than the entire population of the world at that time. It’s an obvious error.

But how did it come about? And why is this anomalous 2.5% figure seeing a resurgence of use in very recent days?

A recent Twitter thread by Ferres Jabr, a science writer for the NYT magazine, does a lot to expose how the two twisted and irreconcilable stats – 50-100 million dead and a CFR of 2.5% originally came about. I urge you all to read this entire thing, it’s excellent (the thread is also available in PDF form here, just in case it gets memory holed):

To sum up its findings. The number of Spanish Flu cases worldwide has long been estimated at around 500 million, and this estimate has not changed. However the number of estimated deaths has changed quite dramatically in recent times, and this is the source of the error.

Back in the 1970s the total number of deaths was estimated at around 20 million, due to a failure to assimilate many cases from the non-Western world. The CFR of 2.5% it estimated was a little low but broadly inline with its other figure.

But in 2002 a new study corrected the lacuna in non-Western cases and produced the estimate of worldwide deaths we are familiar with now – 50-100 million. This meant the CFR was no longer 2.5% but now 10-20% of total estimated cases.

Then a later study, from 2006, used these updated fatality figures, but omitted to update the CFR, citing it as still 2.5%. Which meant it was offering the impossible and contradictory number recently adopted by Wikipedia.

Obviously this was a simple error, and it has been pointed out several times in the intervening years (see for example here). But, as the recently ‘corrected’ Wikipedia article shows, it’s proving a very fortuitous error right now for those wanting to instil very high amounts of public fear.

Pretty obviously this innocent error is being exploited as part of a very cynical bid by some entities, including the Wikipedia editors, to make the current coronavirus scare seem, well, scarier. The 1918 flu pandemic is embedded in the collective mind as an exemplar of a terrifying outbreak. If the stats can be manipulated to allow people to claim its CFR was actually lower than COVID19 – well that’s some valuable fear porn for use in articles and headlines, and by sock puppets BTL trying to create memes.

To that end, the current confusion is a bit of a Godsend.

Spinney’s article illustrates this very well. Spinney is well aware of the ‘2.5% anomaly’ as she herself has drawn attention to it, but no reference to it appears anywhere in this piece. And, while her article stops short of actually claiming COVID19 is going to be bigger than the Spanish Flu, the opening paras – which will be the most read of course – certainly leave that possibility more than open, where they directly compare the alleged CFR of the current coronavirus (3.4%) with the 2.5% figure for Spanish Flu – which she knows to be erroneous.

This is cynically providing a nice easy and totally misleading quote for anyone who wants to claim COVID19 is measurably more dangerous than the Spanish Flu, while stopping short of actually making the claim.

Spinney ought, at very least, to have added her own rider from her own book to this Guardian article, and made it perfectly clear that the ‘commonly accepted’ Spanish Flu CFR of 2.5% is not just wrong, but impossible.

The fact she chose not to, or was possibly deterred from doing so by her editor, is not just revealing of agenda, it’s actually shameful and irresponsible to a very high degree.

The UK government has asked people to report any sources of misleading information on COVID19. This Guardian article is clearly one such, but I highly doubt it is the kind of ‘misinformation’ they want to be apprised of.

March 11, 2020 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | 1 Comment

How the UK press supports the British military and intelligence establishment

By Mark Curtis | Declassified UK | March 11, 2020

Britain’s national press is acting largely as a platform for the views of the UK military and intelligence establishment, new statistical research by Declassified UK shows.

The UK press, from The Times to The Guardian, is also routinely helping to demonise states identified by the British government as enemies, while tending to whitewash those seen as allies.

The research, which analyses the UK national print media, suggests that the public is being bombarded by views and selective information supporting the priorities of policy-makers. The media is found to be routinely misinforming the public and acting far from independently.

This is the second part of a two-part analysis of UK national press coverage of British foreign policy.

Elite platform

Numerous stories or points of information on Britain’s intelligence agencies, such as MI6 and GCHQ, are being fed to journalists by anonymous “security sources” – often military or intelligence officials who do not want to be named.

The term “security sources” has been mentioned in 1,020 press articles in the past three years alone, close to one a day. While not all of these relate to UK sources, it indicates the common use of this method by British journalists.

Declassified’s recent research found that officials in the UK military and intelligence establishment had been sources for at least 34 major national media stories that cast Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as a danger to British security. The research also found 440 articles in the UK press from September 2015 until December 2019 specifically mentioning Corbyn as a “threat to national security”.

Anonymous sources easily push out messages supportive of government policy and often include misleading or unverifiable information with no come-back from journalists. The Ministry of Defence (MOD) says it has 89 “media relations and communications” officers.

Many journalists regularly present the views of the MOD or security services to the public with few or no filters or challenges, merely amplifying what their sources tell them. In “exclusive” interviews with MI6 or MI5, for example, journalists invariably allow the security services to promote their views without serious, or any, scepticism for their claims or relevant context.

That the UK intelligence services are regularly presented as politically neutral actors and the bearers of objective information is exemplified in headlines such as “MI6 lays bare the growing Russian threat” (in the Times) and “Russia and Assad regime ‘creating a new generation of terrorists who will be threat to us all’, MI6 warns” (in the Independent).

Press coverage of the RAF’s 100th “birthday” in 2018 produced no critical articles that could be found, with most being stories from the MOD presented as news. This is despite episodes in the RAF’s history such as the bombing of civilians in colonial campaigns in the Middle East in the 1920s, 1930s and 1950s and its prominent current role in supporting Saudi airstrikes in Yemen, which has helped create the world’s biggest humanitarian disaster.

Similarly, for GCHQ’s 100th anniversary in 2019, the press appeared to simply write up information provided by the organisation. Only the occasional article mentioned GCHQ’s role in operating programmes of mass surveillance while its covert online action programmes and secret spy bases in at least one repressive Middle East regime were ignored by every paper at the time, as far as could be found.

The national press are generally strong supporters of the security services and the military. A number of outlets, from the Times and Telegraph to the Mirror, are strongly opposed to government cuts in parts of the military budget, for example.

The British army’s main special forces unit, the SAS, which is currently involved in seven covert wars, is invariably seen positively in the national press. A search reveals 384 mentions of the term “SAS hero” in the UK national press in the past five years – mainly in the Sun, but also in the Times, Express, Mail, Telegraph and others.

Critical articles on the special forces are rare, and the journalists writing them can face a backlash from other reporters.

In some press articles, MOD media releases are largely copied and pasted. For example, recent MOD material on RAF Typhoons in Eastern Europe scrambling to intercept Russian aircraft has often been repeated word for word across the media.

A press release from the UK’s Royal Air Force, and how it was covered by two British newspapers, The Sun and The Independent.

Such “embedded journalism” poses a significant threat to the public interest. Richard Norton-Taylor, formerly the Guardian’s security correspondent for over 40 years, told Declassified : “Embedded journalists — those invited to join British military units in conflict zones — are at the mercy of their MOD handlers at the best of times. Journalists covering defence, security and intelligence are far too deferential and indulge far too much in self-censorship”.

Some papers are more extreme than others in their willingness to act as platforms for the military and intelligence establishment. The Express may well be the most supportive: its coverage of MOD stories and vilification of official enemies, notably Russia, is remarkable and consistent.

The Guardian, however, has also been shown to play a similar role. Declassified’s recent analysis, drawing on newly released documents and evidence from former and current Guardian journalists, found that the paper has been successfully targeted by security agencies to neutralise its adversarial reporting of the “security state”.

Censorship by omission

Articles critical of the Ministry of Defence or security services are occasionally published in the press. However, these tend to be either on relatively minor issues or are reported on briefly and then forgotten. Rarely do seriously critical stories receive sustained coverage or are widely picked up across the rest of the media.

Often, reporters will cover a topic and elide the most important information for no clear reason. For example, there is considerable coverage of possible MI5 failures to prevent the May 2017 Manchester terrorist bombing — failings which may be understandable given the large number of terrorist suspects being monitored at any one time.

However, the government admitted in parliament in March 2018 that it “likely” had contacts with two militant groups in the 2011 war in Libya for which the Manchester bomber and his father reportedly fought at the time, one of which groups the UK had covertly supported in the past. This significant admission in parliament has not been reported in any press article, as far as can be found.

People lay flowers in St Annes Square on the first anniversary of the Manchester Arena bombing in Manchester, Britain, 22 May 2018. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Nigel Roddis)

Last September, veteran investigative journalist Ian Cobain broke a story on the alternative news site Middle East Eye revealing that the senior Twitter executive with editorial responsibility for the Middle East is also a part-time officer in the British army’s psychological warfare unit, the so-called 77th Brigade.

This story was picked up by a few media outlets at the time (including the Financial Times, the Times and the Independent ) but our research finds that it then went unmentioned in the hundreds of press articles subsequently covering Twitter.

Similarly, in November 2018, a story broke on a secretive UK government-financed programme called the Integrity Initiative, which is ostensibly a “counter disinformation” programme to challenge Russian information operations but was also revealed to be tweeting messages attacking Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Our research finds that in the 14 months until December 2019, the Integrity Initiative was mentioned less than 20 times in the UK-wide national press, mainly in the Times (it was also mentioned 15 times in the Scottish paper, the Sunday Mail ).

By contrast, when stories break that are useful to the British establishment, they tend to receive sustained media coverage.

Establishment think tanks

The British press routinely chooses to rely on sources in think tanks that largely share the same pro-military and pro-intervention agenda as the state.

The two most widely-cited military-related think tanks in the UK are the London-based Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) which are usually quoted as independent voices or experts. In the last five years, RUSI has appeared in 534 press articles and IISS in 120.

However, both are funded by governments and corporations. RUSI, which is located next door to the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall, has funders such as BAE Systems, the Qatar government, the Foreign Office and the US State Department. IISS’s chief financial backers include BAE Systems, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and Airbus.

This funding is mentioned in only two press reports that could be found – the Guardian reported that IISS received money from the regime in Bahrain while the Times once noted, “RUSI, while funded in part by the MoD, is an independent think tank”.

One Telegraph article refers to a “research fellow at RUSI who specialises in combat airpower”, without mentioning that its funder BAE Systems is a major producer of warplanes.

Although many senior figures in these organisations previously worked in government, press readers are rarely informed of this. RUSI’s chair is former foreign secretary William Hague, its vice-chair is former MI6 director Sir John Scarlett and its senior vice-president is David Petraeus, former CIA director.

The IISS’s deputy secretary-general is a former senior official at the US State Department while its Middle East director is a former Lieutenant-General in the British army who served as defence senior adviser to the Middle East. One of IISS’ senior advisers is Nigel Inkster, a former senior MI6 officer.

Media and intelligence

Richard Keeble, professor of journalism at the University of Lincoln, has noted that the influence of the intelligence services on the media may be “enormous” and the British secret service may even control large parts of the press. “Most tabloid newspapers – or even newspapers in general – are playthings of MI5”, says Roy Greenslade, a former editor of the Daily Mirror who has also worked as media specialist for both the Telegraph and the Guardian.

David Leigh, former investigations editor of the Guardian, has written that reporters are routinely approached and manipulated by intelligence agents, who operate in three ways: they attempt to recruit journalists to spy on other people or go themselves under journalistic “cover”, they pose as journalists in order to write tendentious articles under false names, and they plant stories on willing journalists, who disguise their origin from their readers — known as black propaganda.

MI6 managed a psychological warfare operation in the run-up to the Iraq war of 2003 that was revealed by former UN arms inspector Scott Ritter. Known as Operation Mass Appeal, this operation “served as a focal point for passing MI6 intelligence on Iraq to the media, both in the UK and around the world. The goal was to help shape public opinion about Iraq and the threat posed by WMD [weapons of mass destruction]”.

Various fabricated reports were written up in the media in the run-up to the Iraq war, based on intelligence sources. These included cargo ships said to be carrying Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (covered in the Independent and Guardian ) and claims that Saddam Hussein killed his missile chief to thwart a UN team (Sunday Telegraph ).

More recent examples of apparently fabricated stories in the establishment media include Guardian articles on the subject of Julian Assange. The paper claimed in a front page splash written by Luke Harding and Dan Collyns in November 2018 that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort secretly met Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy three times.

The Guardian also falsely reported on a “Russia escape plot” to enable Assange to leave the embassy for which the paper later gave a partial apology. Both stories appeared to be part of a months-long campaign by the Guardian against Assange.

The exterior view of Thames House, MI5 Headquarters, in Millbank, on the bank of the River Thames, London, Britain. (Photo: EPA-EFE/ Horacio Villalobos)

Demonising enemies

The media plays a consistent role in following the state’s demonisation of official enemies. The term “Russian threat” is mentioned in 401 articles in the past five years, across the national press. The Express may be the largest press amplifier of the government’s demonisation of Russia — the paper carries a steady stream of stories critical of Russia and Putin.

The British establishment has invoked Russia as an enemy in recent years due mainly to the poisonings in the town of Salisbury and policy in eastern Europe. Whatever malign policies Russia is promoting, which can be real, false or exaggerated, it is noteworthy that this has been elevated by the press to a general “threat” to the UK. As during the cold war, this is useful to the British military and security services arguing for larger budgets and for offensive military postures in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

Russia’s alleged interference in British politics has received huge coverage compared to alleged Israeli influence. A simple comparison of search terms using “Russia/Israel and UK and interference” in press articles in the past five years yields seven times more mentions of Russia than Israel, despite considerable evidence of Israeli interference.

UK press reporting on Iran is also noticeably supportive of government policy. A search for “Iran and nuclear weapons programme” reveals 325 articles in the past five years. While this large coverage is driven by president Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, it is also driven by Iran being a designated enemy of the US and UK, which have deemed it unacceptable that Tehran should ever acquire nuclear weapons.

By contrast, “Israel’s nuclear weapons” (and variants of this search term) are mentioned in under 30 press articles in the past five years. Natanz, Iran’s main nuclear arms facility, has been mentioned in around four times more press articles than Dimona, the Israeli nuclear site, in the past five years.

The contrast in reporting on Iran and Israel is striking since Iran does not possess nuclear weapons, and it is not certain that it seeks to, whereas Western ally Israel already has such weapons, estimated at around 80 warheads.

An aerial view of Israel’s nuclear site at Dimona. (Google Maps)

Labelling goodies and baddies

The national press strongly follows the government in labelling states as enemies or allies.

States favoured by the UK are mainly described in the press using the neutral term “government” rather the more critical term “regime”. In the past three years, for example, the term “Saudi government” has been used in 790 articles while “Saudi regime” is mentioned in 388. However, with Iran the number of instances is reversed: “Iranian government” is used in 419 articles whereas “Iranian regime” is mentioned in 456.

The same holds for other allies. The “Egyptian regime” receives 24 mentions while “Egyptian government” has 222, in the past three years. The “Bahraini regime” is mentioned in 10 articles while “Bahraini government” is mentioned in 60.

The precise term “Iranian-backed Houthi rebels”, referring to the war in Yemen, is mentioned in 198 articles in the last five years. However, the equivalent term for the UK backing the Saudis in Yemen (using search terms such as “UK-backed Saudis” or “British-backed Saudis”) appears in just three articles.

The pattern is also that the crimes of official enemies are covered extensively in the national press but those of the UK and its allies much less so, if at all.

Articles mentioning “war crimes and Syria” number 1,527 in the past five years compared to 495 covering “war crimes and Yemen”. While the press often reports that the Syrian government has carried out war crimes, most articles simply suggest or allege war crimes by the Saudis in Yemen.

Indeed, the UK press has been much more interested in covering the Syrian war—chiefly prosecuted by the UK’s opponents—than the Yemen war, where Britain has played a sustained widespread role. As a basic indicator, the specific term “war in Syria” is mentioned in well over double the number of articles as “war in Yemen” in the past five years.

Furthermore, government enemies are regularly described in the press as supporters of terrorism, which rarely applies to allies.

In the past three years 185 articles mention the term “sponsor of terrorism”, most referring to Iran, followed by Sudan and North Korea with the occasional mention of Libya and Pakistan. None specifically label UK allies Turkey or Saudi “sponsors of terrorism”, despite evidence of this in Syria and elsewhere, and none describe Britain or the US as such.

Some 102 articles in the past five years specifically mention Russia’s “occupation of Crimea”. However, despite some critical articles on UK policy towards the Chagos Islands in the Indian ocean—which were depopulated by the UK in the 1970s and which the US now uses as a military base—only two articles specifically mention the UK’s “occupation of Chagos” (or variants of this term).

Similar labelling prevails on opposition forces in foreign countries. Protesters in Hong Kong are routinely called “pro-democracy” by the press – the term has been mentioned in hundreds of articles in the past two years. However, protesters in UK allies Bahrain and Egypt have been referred to as “pro-democracy” in only a handful of cases, the research finds.

The special relationship

While demonising enemies, UK allies are regularly presented favourably in the press. This is especially true of the US, the UK’s key special relationship on which much of its global power rests. US foreign policy is routinely presented as promoting the same noble objectives as the UK and the press follows the US government line on many foreign policy issues.

The term “leader of the free world” to refer to the US has been used in over 1,500 articles in the past five years, invariably taken seriously across the media, without challenge or ridicule.

The view that the US promotes democracy is widely repeated across the press. A 2018 editorial in the Financial Times, written by its chief foreign affairs commentator Gideon Rachman, notes that, “Leading figures in both [US political] parties — from John Kennedy to Ronald Reagan through to the Bushes and Clintons — agreed that it was in US interests to promote free-trade and democracy around the world”. In 2017 Daniel McCarthy wrote in the Telegraph of “two decades of idealism in US foreign policy, of attempts to spread liberalism and democracy”.

It is equally common for the UK press to quote US figures on their supposed noble aims, without challenge. For example, the Sunday Times recently cited without comment the US state department saying “Promoting freedom, democracy and transparency and the protection of human rights are central to US foreign policy”.

The press often strongly criticises President Donald Trump, but often for betraying otherwise benign US values and policies that it assumes previous presidents have promoted. For example, Tom Leonard in the Daily Mail writes of “Mr Trump’s belief that US foreign policy should be guided by cold self-interest rather than protecting democracy and human rights”.

The Guardian is especially supportive of US foreign policy. A sub-heading to a recent article notes: “The US once led Western states’ support of democracy around the world, but under this president [Trump] that feels like a long time ago”. One of its main foreign affairs columnists, Simon Tisdall, recently wrote that the US fundamental “mission” was an “exemplary global vision of democracy, prosperity and freedom”, albeit one which has been distorted by the war on terror.

The Guardian regularly heaped praise on president Obama. An editorial in January 2017 commented that Obama was a “successful US leader” and that “internationally” his vision “could hardly be faulted for lack of ambition”. It also noted Obama’s “liberalism and ethics” and that: “Mr Obama has governed impeccably for eight years without any ethical scandal”.

Although the article noted US wars and civilian casualties in Yemen and Libya, the paper brushed these off, stating “But to ascribe the world’s tragedies to a single leader’s choices can be simplistic. The global superpower cannot control local dynamics”.

Research covered the period to the end of 2019 using the media search tool, Factiva. It analysed the “mainstream” UK-wide print media (dailies and Sundays) over different time scales, usually two or five years, as specified in the article. Media search engines cannot be guaranteed to work perfectly so additional research was sometimes undertaken.

Mark Curtis is the co-founder and editor of Declassified UK, an historian and author of five books on UK foreign policy. He tweets at: @markcurtis30.

March 11, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , | 1 Comment

Italy’s Hospital Meltdown

Coronavirus has turned hospitals into war zones, say Italian doctors.

click to enlarge; source here
By Donna Laframboise | Big Picture News | March 11, 2020

Doctors in northern Italy are warning their colleagues in other countries about an approaching COVID-19 tsunami. Medical personnel are sick, exhausted, and overwhelmed. There are too few beds, too little equipment, and too many patients. Decisions are being made about who lives and who dies that were unthinkable a month ago.

EXHIBIT 1
The testimony of an unnamed intensivist (a physician who specializes in caring for the critically ill) has been posted on Twitter by his/her British medical colleague, Jason van Schoor. Please read the full Twitter thread here.

The unnamed doctor, working in the Lombardy region, explains that this is “the most developed region of Italy,” with an “extraordinary” health care system. We’re told not to make the mistake of thinking what’s being described “is happening in a 3rd world country.”

Hospitals are now beseiged, “and numbers do not explain things at at all,” this person declares. Normal medical care has been suspended. Operating rooms have been converted to intensive treatment units (ITUs). Doctors who specialize in orthopedics (bones) are being “given a leaflet and sent to see patients” struck down by this lung disease.

A clear pattern has emerged, says this person. At first, the hospital receives a few mild cases. The second wave consists of mostly moderately ill patients, with “a few severe ones” who require intubation (a tube inserted down their throat to help them breathe).

The third wave consists of “tons of patients with moderate” respiratory difficulties. Those patients soon deteriorate and fill up the intensive care unit. As their numbers grow, they consume all the non-invasive ventilation (NIV) resources. They use up all the CPAP machines, and require therapeutic oxygen.

Here’s the crucial point. According to this doctor, because hospitals are now running at 200% capacity, patients older than 65, and younger patients with additional health issues, are de-prioritized. If you have relatives with a “history of cancer or diabetes or any transplant,” says this doctor, no extraordinary measures will be taken to save their lives. Even if they are young.

Too many patients with a higher chance of survival are already competing for a limited number of ventilators.

EXHIBIT 2
Daniele Macchini is a surgeon at Humanitas Gavazzeni, a hospital in Bergamo. Located an hour’s drive northeast of Milan, tens of thousands of patients from outside Italy have been treated there.

Three days ago, a Bergamo newspaper published remarks Macchini had posted on Facebook. You can read a Google translation of his entire message here.

He describes how his hospital reorganized in order to free up as many beds as possible. He, himself, wasn’t convinced such measures were necessary, but then things

exploded and the battles are uninterrupted day and night. One after the other the unfortunate poor people come to the emergency room… Let’s stop saying it’s a bad flu. In these 2 years I have learned that the people of Bergamo do not come to the emergency room at all… but now they can’t take it anymore. They don’t breathe enough, they need oxygen.

… One after another, the departments that have been emptied are filling up… Now, tell me which flu virus causes such a rapid tragedy…

While the most serious cases are “mainly elderly people with other pathologies,” Macchini says young people are also now in intensive care, being kept alive by ventilators. In his words, a “disaster is taking place:”

there are no more surgeons, urologists, orthopedists, we are only doctors who suddenly become part of a single team to face this tsunami that has overwhelmed us. The cases… arrive at the rate of 15-20 hospitalizations a day all for the same reason. The results of the swabs now come one after the other: positive, positive, positive. Suddenly the emergency room is collapsing… help is needed in the emergency room… Intensive care becomes saturated… The staff is exhausted…Nurses with tears in their eyes because we are unable to save everyone and the vital signs of several patients…reveal an already marked destiny.

There are no more shifts, schedules. Social life is suspended for us…I see neither my son nor my family members for fear of infecting them… please, listen to us, try to leave the house only to [do] indispensable things…Tell your family members who are elderly or with other illnesses to stay indoors. Bring [them] the groceries please… We must spread the word to prevent what is happening here in Italy.

Two weeks ago, Italy was establishing hundreds of field hospitals to screen patients (see the photo at the top of this post). Two days ago, the entire country entered an emergency lock down. Churches, schools, and universities are closed. Public gatherings and sports events have been cancelled. Travel is forbidden, with some exceptions. People have been told to stay home.

March 11, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | 1 Comment

Large-scale military drill in Europe to go ahead despite coronavirus outbreak

By Max Civili | Press TV | March 11, 2020

Rome – As the coronavirus crisis intensifies in Italy and in many other EU countries, authoritative Italian daily Il Manifesto and independent broadcasters and websites have started to report on a large-scale military operation that is to take place across the Old Continent from April to July this year.

The operation, dubbed Defender Europe 20, will see the deployment of 20,000 US troops, equipment, and gear across European countries, where they will be joined by NATO allies’ military forces and partner nations for a series of drills and war games.

Defender Europe 20 comprises three phases, involving a total of 37,000 participants deployed in Germany — which is the main hub of the exercise — Belgium, Poland, and the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.

There have been rumors that the Defender Europe 20 operation might be called off because of the coronavirus crisis that is affecting most member states of the bloc. However, according to the NATO and the US Army Europe website, all the parts involved will continue with the execution of the operation and all linked exercises as planned.

On March 4, in Zagreb, Croatia, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed that the 29-member alliance will press ahead with the operation, mobilizing thousands of troops despite worries about the coronavirus. Stoltenberg said NATO was making contingency plans in case of a significant outbreak, but for the time being, exercises would go ahead as planned.

Last February, the first contingent of US troops, tanks, and equipment taking part in the Defender Europe 20 military exercise arrived in the northern German port of Bremerhaven.

March 11, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | | Leave a comment