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FBI beats the corpse of Russiagate horse, listing what Russia could ‘possibly’ do to 2020 US elections

By Nebojsa Malic | RT | May 6, 2020

Even as its own unprecedented wrongdoing since 2016 is ever-so-slowly coming to light, the FBI is peddling warnings about what Russia might possibly do in the 2020 US elections. Buckle up, here we go again.

This time it’s a memo compiled by the FBI and the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) way back in February, but published Monday by the Associated Press, which sounds all sorts of warning about hypothetical Russian meddling. It is literally titled “Possible Russian Tactics Ahead of 2020 US Election” – not likely, or observed, or documented. Possible.

The novel claim pushed to the forefront by AP is that the Kremlin might advise some candidates and campaigns directly, based on claims that Russia did so in Africa last year. This appears to be based on a report by the Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO) from October 2019, describing a “social media operation in multiple African countries,” attributed to entities “linked” to Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin.

As AP helpfully points out, Prigozhin “was among the Russians indicted in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation for his role in a furtive social media campaign aimed at sowing discord among Americans ahead of the 2016 US election.”

Left unsaid in this assertion masquerading as fact, however, is that charges against Prigozhin and his company were dropped in March, because his company actually contested them in US court. This caused federal judges to repeatedly rebuke prosecutors who apparently thought they could get away with assertions instead of evidence. Oops.

So the sensational AP claim about a new Russian menace is based on a FBI memo, citing a Stanford report, about what someone “linked” to a Russian businessman may have done in Africa, and therefore the 2020 US elections are in danger?

Things become a lot clearer when one looks into who is involved with SIO – namely one Renee DiResta, who proudly boasts of past work advising the Senate Intelligence Committee and working at New Knowledge.

If that latter name sounds familiar, it’s the company that got outed – by the New York Times, no less – for literally organizing a social media false flag operation during the 2017 special election for the US Senate in Alabama. Funded by big tech Democrat donors, NK created fake Russian accounts that pretended to support the Republican candidate, then got the media to cover the story, eventually contributing to having a Democrat elected there for the first time in decades.

With how much wailing and gnashing of the teeth there has been about social media threats to “our democracy,” one would think that this revelation would have resulted in New Knowledge alums becoming unemployable pariahs and all their product considered tainted garbage. Not so, as DiResta’s failing upward to Stanford clearly demonstrates.

New Knowledge has since quietly rebranded and stayed in the same exact line of work. The Senate Intelligence committee never renounced their reports, but instead doubled down on its Russiagate claims, even as its chair apparently did some insider trading to profit from the pandemic. That’s another rabbit hole, though, for another time.

The reason I bring this all up is that all these cries about ‘Russian menace’ tend to come from the same group of people, and are amplified by the same media outlets, who were behind the original ‘Russiagate’ story that spectacularly disintegrated before everyone’s eyes just last year. The fabled Mueller report failed to substantiate any actual Russian meddling, simply asserting it as fact based on their indictments, and moreover failed to find any “collusion” with President Donald Trump’s campaign.

Meanwhile, a veritable mountain of evidence has emerged that the FBI leadership actually conspired to stop Trump from getting elected, then implemented an “insurance policy” to frame his national security adviser and former top military spy General Michael Flynn, to cover up their efforts after they failed. The Bureau also spied on the Trump campaign using the fraudulent, Democrat-funded dossier invented from whole cloth by a British spy and connecting Trump to Russia.

That’s not based on hearsay,  assessments, linkages, assertions, or fanciful attributions – but on actual facts, hard evidence provided to a federal judge and actually examined by the Justice Department in what amounts to much-belated oversight of a rogue agency. In short, nothing like the Russiagate nonsense we’ve been hearing nonstop for years, from the mainstream media and social media conspiracists alike.

Attempts to blame Russia for Hillary Clinton’s failure to win in 2016 have actually proven to be more destructive to American democracy and trust in US institutions – media, politicians, law enforcement, take your pick – than anything Moscow’s been baselessly accused of. Much like the calls in that movie trope, the real threats to US elections have been coming from inside the house all along.

Nebojsa Malic is a Serbian-American journalist, blogger and translator, who wrote a regular column for Antiwar.com from 2000 to 2015, and is now senior writer at RT. Follow him on Twitter @NebojsaMalic

May 6, 2020 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | | Leave a comment

Palestinians and the ‘Security’ Narrative

By Marion Kawas | Canadian Dimension | May 4, 2020

May 2020 will focus attention on the many dangers and challenges facing the future of Palestine.

First, Nakba72 will commemorate the continuing dispossession and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. Second, the COVID-19 pandemic is showing the fragility of the living conditions and the lack of security for Palestinians, especially those in Gaza and in refugee camps. And third, the Israeli government is preparing to officially legitimize its de facto annexation of large swaths of the occupied West Bank.

Yet, the dominant narrative in most Western countries regarding any right of Palestinians to live in security is fundamentally flawed, and contains many layers of pro-Israel protectionism, so much so that it is difficult for many people to appreciate the threat Palestinians live under on a daily basis.

Put simply, this narrative upholds as sacrosanct that Israel always has a right to security, to defend itself, and to decide when, where and how its ‘security’ is threatened. This principle is so ingrained and so fundamental to statements and reporting on the region that pro-Palestinian advocates are often forced into the position of having to prove their ‘non-violent’ credentials before being taken seriously.

In Canada, the stated and official foreign policy on “key issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” (as described on the Global Affairs Canada website) even begins with this principle, entitled “Support for Israel and its Security”. This lead point “recognizes Israel’s right to assure its own security, as witnessed by our support during the 2006 conflict with Hezbollah and our ongoing support for Israel’s fight against terror.” In contrast, the second principle is entitled only “Support for the Palestinians”, and mostly consists of the standard lip service paid to the non-existent and debunked two-state solution.

Not only is the Canadian government highlighting that, above all else, Israel’s “right to security” is inviolable, it justifies Israel’s actions to “assure” that right. The brief mention of Palestinian security that Canada officially embraces is limited to financial support for the Palestinian Authority to monitor and control their own population. To break down the diplomatic doublespeak, that means assisting Palestinian security inasmuch as it helps to guarantee Israeli security. This is why every time the Palestinian Authority announces it is (once again) breaking off bilateral relations with Israel, security coordination is never impacted.

Is there any circumstance in which a Palestinian facing the Israeli military or an Israeli settler or any other branch of the Israeli government would be entitled to the right of self-defence? This is not just a rhetorical question. Similar to the experiences of black people in the United States during the Jim Crow era, this double standard is the backbone of the oppressive system Palestinians are forced to endure.

Canadian politicians are quick to reinforce this hypocrisy. Recent history gives us multiple examples. In December 2019, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated:

We will continue to stand strongly against the singling out of Israel at the UN. Canada remains a steadfast supporter of Israel and Canada will always defend Israel’s right to live in security.

And back in May 2018, when Trudeau was finally obliged after the shooting of Palestinian-Canadian doctor Tarek Loubani to offer a more nuanced view on Israel’s killing spree on the Gaza border, he still refused to call out Israel by name and even referenced “incitement” on the part of the Palestinians. Then, just a few days later, he opposed an official United Nations investigation into the killings.

Earlier this year, the Trudeau government sent a letter to the International Criminal Court, arguing against its jurisdiction to investigate alleged Israeli war crimes against Palestinians. Former Canadian justice minister, Irwin Cotler, also weighed in and filed an official legal brief to the ICC in support of Israel. This is the same Irwin Cotler who the Jerusalem Post described as “one of the staunchest defenders that Israel has around the world”, and a figure who Trudeau insists on quoting during his defamatory attacks against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

What is the message here? State violence is condoned but not popular resistance; Palestinians have no rights to self-defence unless bequeathed by the colonialist forces; and Israel’s security is privileged above all other considerations.

Sadly, these attitudes are so prevalent that they have also filtered down to civil society in the West, even amongst large sections of pro-Palestinian supporters.

The elevation of non-violence as the only tactic beneficial to the Palestinian struggle has taken hold in much of the support movement, and it is of course an easier ‘sell’ that other forms of resistance. In fact, many supporters in Western countries will adamantly argue, and genuinely believe, that non-violent struggle is the best mechanism by which Palestinians can achieve their rights. Before we evaluate the accuracy of that position, let us clearly state that only the Palestinian people themselves can decide the course of their struggle and which tactics fit best at which point in time. That is because the lived experience of Palestinians must determine their priorities, not a viewpoint expressed from a position of privilege and naivete.

Non-violent tactics are of course part of a broader program of struggle and may indeed be the preferred strategy in certain situations. But recognizing that fact does not indicate a rejection of armed resistance against military targets. The right to resist foreign military occupation with armed struggle is recognized internationally and even honoured in many circumstances.

Many liberation movements were deemed “terrorist” by various oppressors and imperialist forces, from South Africa to Algeria. Parallels are often drawn between the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa and the Palestinian experience, both in the context of how apartheid rule operates institutionally and also how it demonizes resistance. The African National Congress (ANC) was labelled as a terrorist organization by both the United States and the United Kingdom. Today, many Western countries including Canada now attach that label to Palestinian resistance groups. Canadians would be better served by following the example of Sweden’s aid to the ANC during the darkest hours of its struggle against apartheid, support that reportedly helped to save lives and hastened the demise of a racist and vile system.

Palestinians have been highly effective in their use of civil disobedience campaigns, from the general strike of 1936, the Beit Sahour tax strike during the First Intifada to the more recent Great Return March. But most Palestinians will tell you that had it not been for the armed struggle of certain decades, the whole Palestinian tragedy would be nothing more than a footnote in today’s history books. The first generation of Palestinians after 1948 spent many years appealing unsuccessfully to the United Nations and various world governments before successive generations took up arms to show that they were not going to be erased from history, similar to what had happened to so many other colonized peoples.

Palestinians have long understood that no matter what type of struggle they are engaged in, the reaction from the Israeli military is always the same–killing, maiming and destruction. The Israeli government continues to respond with excessive force to all forms of Palestinian protest, because the only thing that will satisfy their objectives is for Palestinians to abandon any hope of national independence and full rights. This is something that will never happen.

Marion Kawas is a long-time pro-Palestinian activist and writer, and a member of Canada Palestine Association.

May 6, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment

Syrian ‘regime change’ architect: William Roebuck, US Ambassador of Destruction

By Steven Sahiounie | Mideast Discourse | May 4, 2020

Since 2006, William Roebuck, a US Diplomat, has been working toward ‘regime change’ in Syria at any cost. The destruction of Syria, hundreds of thousands of deaths and injuries, and the migration of one-third of the population have been the price of the US policy under Roebuck’s tenure. The ultimate goal of ‘regime change’ has never been about greater freedoms, democracy, or human rights for Syrians, but has been with the single target spelled out by Roebuck in 2006: to break the relationship between Iran and Syria.

William Roebuck, US Ambassador ‘to the Kurds in Syria’

William Roebuck is a 27 year veteran of the US State Department, having served under Presidents Bush, Obama, and currently Trump. His current title is Deputy Special Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. He is a former US Ambassador to Syria and Bahrain. He has served in the US embassies in Iraq and chargé d’affaires in Libya under Obama. Seymour M. Hersh wrote about the US Embassy in Libya and its role in arming the terrorists used by the US in Syria. For the past several years, he has been based in Northeast Syria and managing the Kurds.

Roebuck designed the 2011 “Arab Spring” in Syria

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange revealed a plan concocted by William Roebuck, the former US Ambassador to Syria. Wikileaks published US diplomatic cables, and chapter 10 of “The Wikileaks Files” concerns Roebuck’s cable sent on December 13, 2006. Ambassador Roebuck wrote that the US should take action to try to destabilize the Syrian government by provoking it to overreact, both internally and externally. That plan was put into action in March 2011 at Deraa, where armed terrorists were interspersed among unarmed civilians in street protests. The terrorists were provoking the police and security forces by shooting at them, as well as shooting unarmed civilians which were blamed on the security forces.

The cables prove that ‘regime change’ had been the goal of US policy in Syria since 2006 and that the US promoted sectarianism in support of its policy, which built the foundation for the sectarian conflict which resulted in massive bloodshed. Roebuck advocated for exploiting Syria’s relationship with Iran, which makes Syria vulnerable to Israeli airstrikes. Roebuck advised that the US should destabilize the Syrian government by promoting sectarian divisions between Sunni and Shia, which at the time was not an issue in Syria, which is a secular government and a tolerant society. By promoting sectarian conflict, which he had observed in the oil-rich Arab Gulf monarchies, Roebuck was crafting the destruction of Syrian society. The ultimate US goal in Syria was to destabilize the Syrian government by violent means, resulting in a change of government, and the new government would be pro-Israeli, and anti-Iranian.

Roebuck’s memo leaked

In November 2019 an internal memo written on October 31 by Roebuck was leaked to the press. He criticized Trump for failing to stop Turkey from invading the Northeast of Syria. “Turkey’s military operation in northern Syria, spearheaded by armed Islamist groups on its payroll, represents an intentioned-laced effort at ethnic cleansing,” Mr. Roebuck wrote, calling the abuses “what can only be described as war crimes and ethnic cleansing.”

Roebuck praised the SDF as a reliable partner acting as guards to keep US troops safe while they occupied Syria illegally, to steal the Syrian oil, which is to be used to support the SDF, instead of the Pentagon payroll.

Two is the company, but three is a crowd

The US state department has a Syrian trio: William Roebuck, and the special representative for Syria engagement, James Jeffrey. Joel Rayburn is a deputy assistant secretary for Levant Affairs and special envoy for Syria.

Iraqi and Syrian Kurdish officials are often confused as to which US officials are in charge on any given issue, and whether their policies were personally driven, or reflected US foreign policy directives. Many analysts agree that the US foreign policy on Syria is a confusing mess.

Roebuck pushes the Syrian Kurds to unite

The Kurdish National Council (KNC) and the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) have begun direct talks which US diplomat William Roebuck has promoted. For the last two years, he has been working with the Syrian Kurds. The goal is to unite all Kurdish parties in Syria in one body, which could be part of the UN peace talks in Geneva to end the Syrian conflict. The KNC and PYD have had serious disagreements over the years.

The KNC is part of the Istanbul-based ‘Syrian opposition’ and aligned with the Kurdish nationalist Massoud Barzani and his Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Iraq. The KNC received criticism as being pro-Turkish after the Turkish Army invaded the Northeastern region of Syria.

The PYD is part of the political arm of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) who had been the US partner fighting ISIS.  PYD bases its political and organizational projects on the PKK’s ideology. The PKK is considered as an international terrorist group accused of thousands of deaths in Turkey over the decades.

The first direct negotiations between the KNC and PYD were held in early April at an illegal US military base near Hasakah, with William Roebuck, an SDF commander Mazlum Abdi in attendance. Roebuck has met numerous times over the past three months with the KNC, trying to push the idea of unification among the Kurdish factions.

At an April 25 press conference in Qamishli, it was announced that Roebuck had presented a draft that called for a unified political vision for Syria. After about four meetings, the two sides were in agreement on the following points: Syria is to be a federal, democratic, and pluralistic state; the current Syrian government in Damascus was not acceptable; the Kurdish northeast region was to be a political unit.  It was stressed that both parties were committed to resolving the Syrian crisis through the implementation of UN Resolution 2254, and the new Syrian constitution must recognize Kurdish national, cultural, and political rights.

The SDF and PYD do not have political representation in the Geneva talks because of Turkish opposition to their participation, given the fact that Turkey views the groups as terrorists. Turkey rejects any project that would lead to Kurdish autonomous rule in Syria, which is the goal of the US. When Trump ordered the sudden withdrawal of US troops from the Northeast of Syria in October, the Kurdish leaders immediately turned to the Syrian government in Damascus to save them from extermination at the hands of the invading Turkish Army.  However, the US did not want the Kurds to be protected by Damascus. The US goal is ‘regime change’ using UN Resolution 2254 as their tool. To achieve that end, William Roebuck has continued to work with the Kurds of the Northeast and is now trying to get them united to be at the negotiating table in Geneva. The Kurds might unite, but they will always remain a small minority numbering only 7% of the population, but who are attempting to control 20% of the territory in Syria.  Will there be justice for the Syrian homeowners and landowners within the territory the Kurds call “Rojava”, who have been made homeless and destitute at the hands of the Kurds? Will the Syrians one day rise in a “Kurdish Spring” cleaning to regain their properties?

Ahed al-Hindi, a political analyst based in Washington, DC, told  Al-Monitor that the US goal to unify the Kurdish ranks in northeastern Syria is a part of a project designed to unify the entire Syrian north, including Idlib and the Kurdish Northeast. The US goal is to prevent the Syrian government from access to the resources which could be used to rebuild Syria.

The next UN peace talks in Geneva

UN Special Envoy Geir O. Pedersen gave a UN Security Council briefing on the situation in Syria on April 29. He announced the agenda for the next session of the Constitutional Committee had been agreed between the co-chairs, and meetings in Geneva would resume as soon as the COVID-19 restrictions would allow. He continued to stress the importance of the current nationwide ceasefire, which was needed to combat and treat COVID-19. He declared there is no military solution to the Syrian conflict, and the UN Security Council resolution 2254 must be used as the path to a political settlement that would be acceptable for the Syrian people while restoring the sovereignty, borders, and independence of Syria.

Steven Sahiounie is an award-winning journalist and political commentator.

May 6, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Syrian Air Defenses Repel Israeli Missiles that Targeted a Military Site in the North of the Country

By Khaled Iskef | American Herald Tribune | May 5, 2020

On Monday night, air defenses in the Syrian army responded to an Israeli offensive that targeted military warehouses in Al-Safirah area in Aleppo eastern countryside.

Private Syrian sources reported that the attack targeted the Scientific Research Center in Aleppo eastern countryside. Syrian air defenses repelled several hostile missiles, resulting in explosions in the sky.

In turn, Syrian Ministry of Defense stated that “At 22:32 on May 4, 2020, enemy warplanes appeared on the screens of our air defenses. The warplanes came from the northeast of Athria and targeted some military warehouses in Al-Safirah area with missiles”.

Sources said that the Israeli aircraft entered the Syrian territories through Iraqi airspace and pointed out that the offensive took place through Al-Tanf base near the Syrian-Iraqi borders.

Through the war years, Israeli warplanes intentionally attacked Syria within its policy based on an attempt to weaken the capabilities of the Syrian army for the benefit of the armed groups. The last Israeli attack was on March 27, 2020 on the south of Damascus, killing three civilians and injuring three others due to shrapnel of the missiles in Adliya and Al-Hujaira. However, Syrian air defenses repelled and downed most of the missiles.

May 6, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Ex-Google CEO claims he can link tech & defense, but he’s just a civilian dilettante, doesn’t get reality of war

By Scott Ritter | RT | May 5, 2020

The former CEO of Google claims he can improve the US military’s integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into its operations. But is AI the panacea Schmidt claims? And if so, is he the person best suited to lead the way?

In a culture known for complex problems and inherent inefficiencies, the US military would seem ideally suited for the kind of cutting-edge solutions offered by the emergence of computer-driven artificial intelligence (AI).

The US military – like its counterparts in China, Russia, India and elsewhere – has, over the course of the past decade, invested heavily in research and development projects designed to bring AI to the battlefield in support of intelligence collection and analysis, logistical support, autonomous warfighting capabilities, healthcare, and cybersecurity. Indeed, in this computer-driven age, there isn’t an aspect of military operations where AI hasn’t been investigated as a potential enhancement.

While the US military hasn’t ignored AI and its utility, Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, believes it has done so in a highly inefficient manner. And he is convinced he is the man who can best help the US military solve its AI challenges.

The arrogance and hubris exhibited by Schmidt – who has never served in the military and as such is unfamiliar with the ethos, culture and operational realities associated with organizing, training and leading millions of men and women for war – has rubbed some senior US military officers the wrong way. However, his wonkish approach to problem solving, combined with the inherent attractiveness of technology-driven solutions, has found an audience within the ranks of the civilian component of the US defense establishment, who have invited Schmidt to sit on several advisory boards involved in the pursuit of AI-driven solutions to military problem sets.

Past attempts to incorporate Schmidt’s digital-centric philosophies into realms driven by the human condition have proven inchoate. In 2013, Schmidt co-authored a book, ‘The New Digital Age’, with Jared Cohen. Cohen had helped spearhead an effort built around a soft-power philosophy known as ‘digital democracy’, where the US sought to exploit perceived digital commonalities (ie. the integration of social media platforms, use of electronic and computer-driven communications and, most telling, the notion that these digital interfaces exposed the youth of foreign societies to American culture, and as such ingrained a predilection for American values that supplanted those of their own cultures and societies) for the purpose of altering the political makeup of areas such as the Middle East.

‘Digital democracy’ drove the US’ support of the Iranian opposition in 2009, the Arab Spring movement of 2010, and the so-called Syrian revolution of 2011. The failure of ‘digital democracy’ to bring about the desired change highlights the risks associated with seeking to digitally manipulate human emotions and values.

The biggest lesson learned from the abject failure of ‘digital democracy’ is that there is no algorithm that can replicate the incoherent complexities of human emotions. Schmidt’s Google experience is one where algorithms are written and applied to better comprehend complex data-driven problems. As data is accumulated and incorporated, AI can be used to automatically update and upgrade these algorithms, allowing for increased efficiencies.

This approach works in a relatively static environment, where assumptions of shared goals and objectives can be built into the algorithms used. This was the fundamental flaw with ‘digital democracy’: politics is not static, but rather dynamic, driven more by the unpredictable vagaries of human emotions than quantifiable data.

In his timeless tract on military matters, the Prussian military philosopher Carl von Clausewitz observed that war was but a “continuation of politics by other means.” Given the inherent relationship between politics and war, it can be extrapolated that the human complexities which proved fatal to ‘digital democracy’ would similarly undermine any effort to use AI to guide and direct decision-making in times of human conflict.

Eric Schmidt’s success in using algorithms to discern intent and desire on the part of consumers to better guide product placement has revolutionized advertising and sales, both online and in traditional brick-and-mortar establishments. This success has prompted Schmidt and other innovators to embrace the promise of AI-driven solutions for military applications.

There is a fundamental flaw in this approach – when Google was seeking to make sense of the ‘big data’ that was produced as a result of the online consumer experience, there was no opposing force seeking to disrupt, mislead or otherwise defeat its effort. War is an inherently adversarial process, and like the French embrace of the Maginot Line to keep German armies from invading France, any AI-driven algorithm can be defeated by simply re-defining the terms of the conflict.

From a technological standpoint alone, AI-driven applications have already been shown to be easily spoofed, whether by altering painted lines of a road to force Tesla’s AI-driven car into oncoming traffic, or convincing AI-controlled software that an image of a turtle was, in fact, a rifle.

Beyond the fact that an enemy in a time of war would constantly be seeking ways to defeat any AI-driven operation, the inherent incompatibility between the logic of data-driven AI and the illogic of human emotion make an overreliance on AI during times of war a self-defeating proposition. One need only examine the US experience in Afghanistan, where a technologically sophisticated American military, having incorporated aspects of AI into nearly every aspect of its warfighting capabilities, has not been able to defeat the relatively unsophisticated forces of the Taliban. No amount of big data manipulation can overcome the fact that US cultural norms will never mesh with Pashtun tribal reality. The US’ failure in Afghanistan is “digital democracy” writ large, the difference between computer-driven artificialities and boots-on-the ground reality.

US Air Force Colonel John Boyd, considered one of the great military thinkers of modern times, compressed the complexities of military decision-making into a brutally simplistic formula he called the ‘OODA loop’. The four components of the OODA loop – Orient, Observe, Decide and Action – at first seem to be perfectly suited for AI-induced enhancements. But a closer look at what Boyd was capturing in his model only underscores the reality that, at the end of the day, the human factor is the dominating force when it comes to the taking of human life in conflict.

Boyd spoke of “the senses” and “mental perspectives” that guided “physical playing out of decisions.” No algorithm can ever be written which captures the visceral gut-driven realities of decision-making during times of war. The key to military victory, according to the tenets of Boyd’s OODA loop, is to get inside the opponent’s decision-making cycle, catching them responding to situations that have already changed because of actions already taken. Against an AI-driven opponent, one will always be able to make the car drive into oncoming traffic, or the computer to see a turtle as a rifle. By the time the algorithm adapts, it will be too late; the sensors collecting the data the AI needs will have been destroyed or spoofed, the power sources to the computers cut, and a bayonet driven into the heart of the operator by an opponent driven more by human sense, mental perspective, and physical action.

This is the reality of war that Eric Schmidt and civilian dilettantes like himself will never understand, caught up as they are in a data-driven world that is as far removed from the modern battlefield as the Earth is from Mars.

May 6, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | | Leave a comment

New “Chimera” to Target the World

By Valery Kulikov – New Eastern Outlook – 06.05.2020

Nowadays, as the attention of the global community is drawn to discussions about whether the Coronavirus is man-made or not and the potential involvement of US biolabs in its creation, it is certainly worth mentioning the latest invention: a new “mutant enzyme that breaks down plastic bottles for recycling in hours.”

According to The Guardian, scientists from the company Carbios created a mutant bacterial enzyme “that recycles plastic bottles in hours.” An article about this research was even published in Nature, a highly respected journal. “It’s a real breakthrough in the recycling and manufacturing of PET (polyethylene terephthalate),” said Dr. Saleh Jabarin, a Professor at The University of Toledo, Ohio and a member of Carbios’ Scientific Committee. “Our goal is to be up and running by 2024, 2025, at large industrial scale,” Martin Stephan, the Deputy Chief Executive at Carbios, stated. With that in mind, the Consortium, Carbios and L’Oréal, has partnered with other companies, such as Pepsi and Nestlé Waters, which will “help support the circular plastics economy using Carbios’ breakthrough enzyme-based enhanced recycling technology.”

Considering the fact that billions of tonnes of “plastic waste have polluted the planet, from the Arctic to the deepest ocean trench”, the bacterial enzyme is already being promoted as a novel solution to a global problem. According to the article in The Guardian, 100,000 micro-organisms were screened to find promising candidates, such as the “leaf compost bug”. Mutations were subsequently introduced into it “to improve its ability to break down the PET plastic from which drinks bottles are made.” It also said that the research team had “used the optimized enzyme to break down a tonne of waste plastic bottles, which were 90% degraded within 10 hours.”

In 2018, another team of scientists revealed “that they had accidentally created an enzyme that breaks down plastic drinks bottles.” A separate report has stated that German researchers identified a strain of bacterium that can metabolize some of the chemical components that make up polyurethane (PU). PU in landfills decomposes slowly releasing toxic and carcinogenic chemicals that usually kill most bacteria. It was, therefore, surprising that the identified strain not only survived, but also used polyurethane to thrive. “This finding represents an important step in being able to reuse hard-to-recycle PU products,” said microbiologist Hermann Heipieper from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research-UFZ in Germany.

In light of recent developments, a cautionary tale comes to mind. It is about the creation of another “Chimera” in the United States: Mycoplasma laboratorium or Synthia, a synthetic species of bacterium. It can self-replicate and has numerous uses. Although there have not been many reports in mainstream media that Synthia was used to clear an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, some suspect that it was. Apparently, in 2011, synthetic bacteria were introduced into the ocean to eliminate oil droplets that posed a threat to the environment. The poorly researched and thought through decision soon resulted in disastrous consequences, as the microorganisms became uncontrollable. There were several reports about diseases caused by bacteria, and deaths of marine life in the Gulf of Mexico. Incidentally, all the aforementioned articles about the negative impact of the measures taken to deal with the oil spill were published by media outlets and not by scientific journals.

A number of news sources printed photographs that showed the effect of the cleanup on people and marine life. And according to The Huffington Post, the number of oil-eating bacteria, including the genetically modified strains, had been expected to soar as a result of the oil leak. Vibrio vulnificus (a species of Gram-negative bacteria) was suspected of proliferating in ocean waters polluted with oil and chemicals used to clear it. Vibrio can infect humans through contact with a cut or wound. Once in the body, “the bacteria infiltrates the layer of flesh between muscle and skin, where it releases a toxin that destroys the tissue.”

There were also reports about people whose deaths were attributed to Vibrio. Some of them passed away after having swum in the Gulf of Mexico. According to The Guardian, Vibrio vulnificus had “infected the shores of the Gulf Coast”, from Texas to Florida. In fact, there is no central authority tracking such infections in the USA, as individual states are not “required to report cases to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in Atlanta” but can do so voluntarily. The article stated that several people got sick after swimming in the Gulf of Mexico. Vibrio can also cause sickness in humans who consume raw seafood, such as oysters. According to experts, the potentially lethal bacteria can infect people through raw or undercooked shellfish or through scratches and open wounds.

The scale of the impact of the efforts to clear the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been covered up by the US government.

There is no known treatment for Vibrio vulnificus and people can die as a result of infection with this pathogen. Having entered the blood stream via a small wound, the bacteria proceeds to damage tissue unless the infected part of the body is amputated.

Vibrio vulnificus, which can adapt to different environments, can eventually spread to the rest of the world via the Atlantic Ocean and rain clouds, and then cause fear among swimmers in oceans, seas and even rivers, and among those who consume raw sea food (including oysters and sushi).

As for Synthia, researchers who had created it said that they were creating new life from existing life. The synthetic bacterial cell can be utilized to develop more effective pharmaceuticals and efficient new biofuels, etc. However, experts also believe that the knowledge used to synthesize Mycoplasma laboratorium could also be employed to create a pathogen.

Researchers are currently studying the rate at which the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, mutates.

Microbiologists are well aware of spontaneous mutations caused by chance errors during replication of bacteria and viruses that can lead to changes in structural or colony characteristics.

Hence, we sincerely hope that the latest Chimera from Carbios does not play a similar dirty trick on us.

May 6, 2020 Posted by | Environmentalism, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

Game changer: German scientists find antibodies that BLOCK coronavirus from spreading further

RT | May 6, 2020

Scientists have detected an antibody that blocks the coronavirus from entering cells, providing a much-needed shield for severely ill patients. While not a cure or vaccine, it is still a significant development.

“This is clearly a breakthrough that shows that we are on the right track for the development of a drug against Covid-19,” said virologist Professor Luka Cicin-Sain.

“In repeated experiments, we were able to show that this result is sustainable.”

Cicin-Sain and his team analyzed 6,000 different human antibodies and found more than 750 that dock with the coronavirus and prevent it from spreading further in already infected patients. The antibodies are currently undergoing additional testing on cell cultures to whittle their number down to find the most effective at blocking the infection.

“I am extremely happy about this great success of the research institutes in Lower Saxony, which gives hope for better healing results with Covid-19,” said Lower Saxony’s Minister of Science Bjorn Thumler.

To be clear, the researchers are neither producing a vaccine nor a cure, but instead a potentially highly effective treatment for severely ill coronavirus patients which operates on the principle of “so-called passive immunization,” according to Stefan Dübel from the Technical University of Braunschweig, who added that “The effect is immediate: the antibodies take the potential away from the virus.”

The team, who worked in collaboration with biotech company Yumab, is hoping to begin clinical trials in the autumn.

Meanwhile, the broad-spectrum antiviral medication Remdesivir – originally developed to treat the Ebola and Marburg viruses – is being used in trials with coronavirus patients, despite its apparent ineffectiveness in follow-up tests, after one study found the drug shortened coronavirus infection recovery times.

May 6, 2020 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | | 1 Comment

A China-bashing coronavirus jester? Beijing tears into Pompeo’s ‘clown show’

RT | May 6, 2020

China has fired back at Mike Pompeo’s allegations that Beijing is somehow behind the origin and spread of Covid-19, describing his “comedy routine” as deeply cynical and damaging to the United States.

State-operated China Daily took aim at the US secretary of state, slamming the top American diplomat for “bad-mouthing” China and the World Health Organization (WHO) instead of seeking global cooperation and solidarity to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic.

Pompeo continues to insist that the illness came from a laboratory in Wuhan, even though he has yet to present evidence for this incendiary claim, and has ignored scientists who say the virus is from the wild, the opinion piece argued.

China Daily noted that the secretary of state has also been curiously silent about the fact that Beijing has been the “main provider” of surgical masks, ventilators, and other essential medical equipment to the US. The editorial argued that Pompeo is playing a dangerous political game that will end up hurting the United States.

In a difficult situation such as the one we all face now, Pompeo’s clown show is simply self-harming for the US. It is solidarity that is desperately needed to fight this common enemy, not a stand-up comedy routine.

The paper also ran a cartoon showing Pompeo, outfitted as a jester, juggling “lies” as he tries to distract media attention from rising coronavirus cases in the US.

The biting commentary piece comes after the Global Times newspaper – an outlet owned by the Chinese Communist Party – published an editorial dismissing Pompeo’s attacks on Beijing as “groundless accusations.”

Pompeo’s theories have also been met with suspicion within the intelligence community. The Guardian reported that sources connected to the Five Eyes intelligence network – consisting of spy agencies from the UK, US, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada – believe there is no evidence linking China to the creation and spread of Covid-19.

May 6, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 2 Comments

Ukraine Asks Russia to Fill Its Budget Holes

By Paul Antonopoulos | May 6, 2020

The ambitious Nord Stream 2 pipeline project aims to deliver Russian gas to Europe via the Baltic Sea, thus bypassing Ukraine and reducing risk from Russia’s perspective. While Ukraine has consistently said it will prevent the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, the country is now also offering Russian state-owned Gazprom its gas storage facilities.

However, there are two major reasons why Moscow might not agree to Ukraine’s offer:

Moscow has difficulty in having confidence in Ukraine considering it maintains a pro-NATO policy.

Russia has enough of its own warehouses to store gas.

Although the proposal for storing Russian gas in Ukraine first appears logical, given the huge lack of trust in bilateral relations, this is a rather ambitious proposal by Kiev as it also continues to do everything in its power to prevent the construction of Nord Stream 2.

The Director General of the Ukrainian gas transportation system Sergei Makogon suggested that Gazprom lease Ukrainian underground gas storage facilities for the temporary storage of Russian gas transported to Europe. He said it would be three to five times cheaper for Gazprom than it costs in European Union countries who consume this gas – just $10 per thousand cubic meters. He added that in winter, as demand grows in the European Union, Gazprom will be able to take gas from underground Ukrainian gas storage facilities and send it to Europe.

He also predicts that Ukraine may end its role as a Russian gas transit in 2025 after the five-year contract between Russia’s Gazprom and Ukraine’s Naftogas expires, along with the completion of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. This would be another major economic blow to Ukraine when considering after the first leg of the Turkish Stream was put into operation, the Ukrainian system had already lost 15 billion cubic meters of annual transit. The loss Ukraine faces because of the Turkish Stream will become even greater with the second phase of the pipeline that will run through Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary, and account for another 15 billion cubic meter loss, is complete..

Although Makogon said he hopes Ukraine can store gas on behalf of Russia, he also announced that Ukraine “will make every effort to prevent the completion of Nord Stream 2, as this project has a clear political character and runs counter to European principles of solidarity.” So effectively he made two contradictory statements as one is friendly and the other is aggressive, thus again demonstrating why Russia finds it difficult in trusting Ukraine.

Russian officials point out that there is sufficient gas storage in Russia’s territory and that Russia does not currently need the assistance of other countries in this regard. Even if there is a need to rent a warehouse, in the case of Ukraine, a competitive price will not be sufficient as guarantees for safeguarding Russian gas will be needed so theft that has happened in the past will not be repeated.

It also needs to be factored in that because of the coronavirus, there is a decline in gas consumption. The need for gas storage will increase in winter – this is seemingly obvious. However, we are now only weeks away from summer and the demand for gas will significantly reduce, in addition to the fact that Gazprom has sufficient capacity for its own storage. Therefore, Makogon’s proposal for Ukraine to store Russian gas is actually a more of a desperate plea linked to the fact that Ukraine is experiencing a significant economic downturn, and the head of the Ukrainian gas transportation system is looking for an opportunity to somehow fill the deep budget holes.

It should also be considered that the infrastructure Ukraine is offering to Russia is generally 50 years old. Because of all this, it is highly unlikely that there will be agreements for the storage of Russian gas made between Moscow and Kiev.

Remembering that after tough negotiations last December, Kiev and Moscow signed a five-year agreement on the transit of Russian gas to Europe via Ukraine. The new contract stipulates that Gazprom will send at least 65 billion cubic meters of gas through Ukraine in the first year and then at least 40 billion annually from 2021 to 2024. This five-year agreement will bring Kiev more than $7 billion, which is critical for its short-term economic survival, but what then after that?

May 6, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment

China Rejects Illegal, Violent Actions Against Venezuela, Cuba

teleSUR | May 6, 2020

China Wednesday condemned the recent rifle attack at the Cuban embassy in the United States, a mercenary forces’ invasion plan of Venezuela, and all the interventionist maneuvers against the sovereignty of any country.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that her government firmly opposes any violent action perpetrated against official representations.

She urged Washington to take the necessary measures to protect the Cuban embassy from any damage, as provided for in the 1961 Vienna Convention.

In this way, China joined other nations in the world that repudiated the shooting launched last Thursday against the Cuban embassy in the U.S. capital. The Cuban mission officials suffered no damage, but there were material deteriorations in the building as a result of the attack.

Hua also deplored the attempted maritime invasion of Venezuela by mercenary forces seeking to carry out a coup against President Nicolas Maduro.

She stressed the Chinese government’s rejection of the violation of the sovereignty of the South American country by any means or excuse.

The diplomat called for prioritizing the well-being of the Bolivarian people and promoting the peaceful resolution of the political impasse in Venezuela.

China has been in favor of respecting the United Nations Charter and the basic norms governing international relations in the face of the U.S. policy of hostility towards the Maduro administration.

The Asian nation recently criticized Washington for applying more extraterritorial sanctions to Venezuela, Cuba, and Iran to the detriment of the public health of the people just as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads.

May 6, 2020 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment