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‘The Biggest Political Crime’: Does Obamagate Mean Treason, Sedition or Both?

By Ekaterina Blinova – Sputnik – 13.05.2020

On Sunday, President Donald Trump lashed out at his predecessor Barack Obama on Twitter accusing him of “the biggest political crime in American history” and calling it “Obamagate”. Wall Street analyst Charles Ortel has explained what the president may have meant and why former Obama officials should prepare themselves for a political storm.

Donald Trump’s ire came on the heels of Obama’s leaked conference call in which the ex-president lambasted the DOJ’s decision to drop charges against ex-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commenting on the audio leak released by Yahoo News’ Michael Isikoff on Friday, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said that Obama “should’ve kept his mouth shut”: “I think it’s a little bit classless, frankly, to critique an administration that comes after you”, the senator said.

‘The Biggest Political Crime in American History’

By accusing Obama of “the biggest crime” President Trump may have alluded to either treason or sedition or both, described in 18 US Code Chapter 115, suggests Wall Street analyst and investigative journalist Charles Ortel.

“With many months behind them, and ample resources, John Durham and others likely have found solid evidence that Barack Obama violated his oath of office numerous ways, and subsequently attempted to overthrow the results of the 2016 election”, the analyst believes.

Echoing Ortel’s assumption, Flynn’s defence attorney Sidney Powell presumed that President Obama was in on a plot to ‘frame’ Michael Flynn during her interview on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures”.

“The whole thing was orchestrated and set up within the FBI, [former Director of National Intelligence James] Clapper, [Former CIA Director John] Brennan, and in the Oval Office meeting that day with President Obama,” Powell noted.

Having said that “Powell is a brilliant, honest lawyer who does homework assiduously and well” the Wall Street analyst does not rule out that the defence attorney has evidence supporting her assertion.

“I believe that Michael Flynn, appointed by Obama, grew to protest many reckless foreign policies, having access to damaging classified information that most of us have not seen and may never see”, Ortel says. “Flynn’s refusal to stand down after being fired in 2014, and his stubbornness infuriated Obama, suggesting that Flynn may hold secrets that Obama cannot have revealed. In short, Barack Obama is scared because he should be scared”.

Obama Distorts Facts While Speaking About Flynn’s “Crime”

Speaking to the 3,000-member Obama Alumni Association the former president highlighted: “There is no precedent that anybody can find for someone who has been charged with perjury just getting off scot-free”. However, Obama was immediately called out by The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board for making a grave mistake.

Mr. Flynn was never charged with perjury, which is lying under oath in a legal proceeding. Mr. Flynn pleaded guilty to a single count of lying to the FBI in a meeting at the White House on 24 January 2017 that he was led to believe was a friendly chat among colleagues”, the editorial board stressed.

While one can only guess whether intentionally or unintentionally Obama distorted the facts, he and many his supporters “hold the public in contempt, sure that most who follow politics never call politicians out for their lies and for their misdeeds”, Ortel remarks.

The Trump administration seems determined to get to the bottom of the outgoing Obama administration’s role in targeting Trump campaign aides, according to the Wall Street analyst.

Thus, acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell has recently declassified a list of former Obama administration officials involved in the “unmasking” of Michael Flynn in his talks with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, according to ABC News. The list – which was apparently delivered to AG William Barr – is believed to be “much larger than anything involving Flynn”.

“Unmasking (exposing the names of Americans who are associated with targets of counter-intelligence investigations) is a serious potential offence, especially when the investigation in question is launched on spurious pretences”, Ortel explains. “What we are likely soon to find is that many Obama co-conspirators obstructed investigations that were opened or should have been opened, and then rigged or attempted to rig elections inside and outside the United States”.

Republicans Pushing for Further Declassifications

Having expressing gratitude to the DNI Grenell and AG Barr for their effort “to bring transparency to the Russian investigation”, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley requested even more materials to be declassified, including:

·         the transcript of Flynn-Kislyak conversation;

·         the Susan Rice memo about the 5 January 2017 meeting between President Obama, Vice President Biden, FBI Director James Comey, and Deputy AG Yates on the Russian investigation;

·         the mysteriously missing original transcript of Flynn-FBI interview (302) authored by agent Joe Pientka.

“The underlying records to the Flynn case and Russia investigation are more important than ever”, Grassley insisted in his 12 May letter. “Congress, and most importantly the public, must fully understand the wrongdoing that occurred so that it is never repeated”.

According to Ortel, the revelations are likely to have a domino effect and may even affect “major allied nations including Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia”, which presumably played a role in the “Spygate” scandal.

“Fearing consequences of a Trump victory, Obamagate co-conspirators manufactured hoaxes to turn eyes away from their own massive crimes”, the analyst says. “Soon we may learn how many fair critics of Obama and of unregulated globalism were illegally targeted and harmed by the Obama presidency”.

Although the mainstream left-leaning media have denounced “Obamagate” as Trump’s “favourite distraction tactics”, it seems that very soon many people, especially Barack Obama and the Clintons, will found themselves between a rock and a hard place, the Wall Street analyst believes.

May 13, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception | , | 3 Comments

Senate votes down anti-surveillance amendment, both parties back warrantless spying on Americans’ browser history

RT | May 13, 2020

The US Senate has voted down an amendment that would limit surveillance of Americans’ internet records. Apparently, the true divide in Washington is not between Democrat and Republican, but those for or against the police state.

The US Senate met on Wednesday to debate the reauthorization of some provisions of the USA Freedom Act, an expansive domestic surveillance bill that expired in March. As Majority Leader Mitch McConnell brought the Act to the floor, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced an amendment that would explicitly bar law enforcement from snooping on Americans’ internet browsing and search histories without a warrant.

Prior to the vote, McConnell had urged his colleagues to reject the amendment. When votes were cast on Wednesday, ten Democratic senators heeded McConnell’s words, bringing the final vote to 59 Yeas and 37 Nays. One more positive vote would have given the amendment the three-fifths majority it needed to pass.

Former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) railed against the reauthorization of the USA Freedom Act in February, yet didn’t cast a vote on Wednesday. Online, commenters raged at the progressive kingpin for his absence.

Yet surveillance is not a partisan issue. As often as Democrats are presented as the party of civil liberties and Republicans as the party of the ‘forever war’, the fault line isn’t between red and blue. While McConnell brought the Freedom Act before the Senate this week, it passed the Democrat-controlled House by 278-136 in March, completely free of any restricting amendments.

Moreover, the reauthorization was sponsored by Reps. Jerry Nadler (New York) and Adam Schiff (California), two Democrats who have disagreed with McConnell on almost everything, except the expansion of the surveillance state.

Among the Democrats who shot down the amendment was Dianne Feinsten (California), who has flip-flopped on surveillance throughout her three decades on Capitol Hill. Feinstein voted to extend the 9/11-era Patriot Act in 2012, and was a staunch defender of the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping program, even after it was exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden who she described as a “traitor” in 2013.

However, as Feinstein’s Senate Intelligence Committee was compiling a lengthy report into the CIA’s use of torture in 2014, the Californian senator and surveillance enthusiast voiced “grave concerns” that the agency was spying on her committee’s computers. Ironically, Feinstein declared at the time that “the CIA search may also have violated the Fourth Amendment, [and] the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.”

In fact, all ten Democrats who voted against the amendment on Wednesday voted in favor of the USA Freedom Act back in 2015, helping take it comfortably past one half majority in the Democrat-held Senate of the time.

Back to the present, senators also have two similar amendments to vote on Wednesday. The first, introduced by Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) was passed 77-19. It would strengthen legal protections for suspects under federal surveillance. The second, authored by Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), would prohibit the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court from authorizing spying on US citizens, as it did when the FBI surveilled the Trump campaign in 2016.

May 13, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | 1 Comment

In a world gone mad, China must build MORE NUKES to make disarmament possible

By Scott Ritter | RT | May 12, 2020

As the US threatens to withdraw from the New START treaty over Chinese non-participation, domestic pressure from inside China builds for a larger strategic nuclear arsenal. Could this be a good thing?

In an op-ed published in Chinese newspaper Global Times, its editor-in-chief Hu Xijin, argued that China should seek to upgrade its strategic nuclear arsenal from its current level of about 200 antiquated weapons to a modernized force comprising more than 1,000 nuclear weapons, including more than 100 modern mobile DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), each armed with 10-12 nuclear warheads, capable of striking the US mainland.

The deployment of DF-41 missiles, when combined with China’s new JL-3 submarine-launched ballistic missiles and nuclear-armed H-20 strategic bombers, would give China a capable nuclear TRIAD that rivaled those of the US and Russia.

While Hu Xijin’s op-ed received considerable support on Chinese social media, there was some pushback. Zhao Tong, a senior fellow in nuclear policy at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, based in Beijing, has argued that even in a climate of deteriorating Sino-American relations, any effort on the part of China to build a viable strategic nuclear arsenal on par with that of the US was counterproductive and dangerous.

This point of view has a logic of de-escalation that is inherently attractive, but when viewed in the larger context of global nuclear posture where the US and Russian nuclear disarmament is held hostage by the current non-participation of China in meaningful disarmament talks, any call for China to maintain the nuclear status quo is in itself destabilizing.

The only way to bring China to the table for any meaningful arms control agreement is for it to build up its nuclear arsenal to a level where reciprocal cuts make sense for all involved parties. In short, nuclear symmetry perversely requires that China in effect adopts an “escalate to de-escalate” approach to arms control if disarmament is to have any political viability.

There is a historical precedent for this kind of madness. When the Soviet Union deployed the SS-20 intermediate-range nuclear missile in the late 1970s, it unhinged the strategic nuclear balance in Europe. Both NATO and the US were alarmed and pushed for arms control agreements that eliminated so-called Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) from the arsenals of both the US and the Soviet Union. In 1979 the US threatened to deploy advanced Pershing II missiles and Ground-launched Cruise Missiles (GLCMs) into Europe to offset the threat posed by the SS-20 missiles. The problem, however, was that while the SS-20 missile was a reality, the Pershing II/GLCM weapons were still in development stage and had yet to be deployed. From a purely political perspective, there was no incentive for the Soviets to get rid of the SS-20.

Instead, in November 1983, the US and NATO were compelled to go through with the deployment of Pershing II and GLCM missiles to Europe, triggering social and political unrest in the form of massive protests, and placed the US-NATO alliance under considerable stress. Besides, by deploying these new weapons into Europe, the US changed the very calculus of war — the Pershing II, once launched, was less than 10 minutes flight time from Moscow, reducing the time the Soviet command would have to react in a time of crisis regarding the initiation of a general nuclear war.

In the end, the US and the Soviet Union signed the INF Treaty, eliminating the SS-20, Pershing II, GLCM and other nuclear delivery systems, and in doing so heralded a new age of relations between the two sides that helped bring about the end of the Cold War. But the world had to be led to the edge of a nuclear abyss before reason could prevail.

Today the US and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals are capped at 1,550 nuclear delivery systems each by the limits set forth in the New START Treaty. While both sides recognize the desirability of additional reductions, the insistence on the part of the Trump administration that any future arms control agreement on strategic nuclear weapons must include China has thrown a monkey wrench in an arms control process which for decades has been governed on the basis of US-Soviet/Russian bilateral agreements. Even something as simple as extending the existing New START treaty for five years in order to buy time for the complexities of transitioning bilateral arms control structures into a new trilateral reality is unacceptable to Washington.

As insane as it might appear, the Trump approach might provide the only viable path forward regarding the possibility of meaningful trilateral arms control between the US, Russia, and China. As things currently stand, the failure to extend New START will eliminate constraints on the part of both the US and Russia when it comes to fielding new strategic nuclear weapons. This alone is a destabilizing and dangerous reality which, left to its own devices, could lead to a new nuclear arms race which would make those of the Cold War pale in comparison in terms of capability and lethality. The wild card in this equation is China. As things currently stand, the small size and relative lack of sophistication of China’s existing strategic nuclear arsenal make it a virtual non-player when it comes to discussions of symmetrical disarmament based upon historical TRIAD constructs (where strategic nuclear capability is spread among manned bombers, land-based ICBMs, and submarine-launched ballistic missiles.)

China’s current nuclear force structure is heavily weighted toward intermediate-range missiles. However, any nuclear modernization program that saw China develop a viable TRIAD-based nuclear deterrence capability would not only compel both Russia and the US to take into account a Chinese strategic nuclear threat when building their respective post-New START nuclear force structure, but also create real political incentive on the part of all three nations to take the off-ramp from a path of nuclear posture escalation and instead embrace the de-escalation of trilateral arms control.

This, of course, is not the ideal situation. Trillions of dollars will be expended by all three parties pursuing weapons whose only utility is to create the conditions for their eventual elimination. But nuclear policy historically has not been the purview of sane and rational thinking — one only needs to refer to the deterrence model of “mutually assured destruction (MAD)” to make that point.

In the early 1980s both the US and the Soviet Union knew that to escalate tensions by deploying new INF weapons into Europe was an inherently dangerous gambit. Indeed, on at least one occasion it nearly triggered a general nuclear war. But in the end, it was the only politically viable path toward eventual disarmament and the normalization of relations between the US and the Soviet Union.

In the dangerous waters of a post-New START world, perhaps the only way to navigate clear of the rocks and shoals of nuclear conflict is for China to escalate its development of a viable strategic nuclear force in order to enable the kind of meaningful trilateral strategic nuclear arms control the world needs to survive.

Scott Ritter is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer. He served in the Soviet Union as an inspector implementing the INF Treaty, in General Schwarzkopf’s staff during the Gulf War, and from 1991-1998 as a UN weapons inspector. Follow him on Twitter @RealScottRitter

May 13, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

New Information: Guaidó Was the “Commander in Chief” of the Failed Mercenary Operation Against Venezuela

This document shows the chain of comand. (Council on Hemispheric Affairs)

This document shows the chain of comand. (Council on Hemispheric Affairs)
By Patricio Zamorano | Council of Hemispheric Affairs | May 13, 2020

New information divulged this week reveals that Juan Guaidó was designated as “commander and chief” of the mercenary operation that completely unraveled on the shores of Venezuela. The 41 page contract that formed the basis of the already known eight page General Services Agreement was published by the Washington Post [1] this week.

This more complete document confirms what the mercenary and head of SilverCorp, Inc., Jordan Goudreau, had already revealed to the media: the agreement was aimed at “planning and executing an operation to capture/detain/remove Nicolas Maduro (heretoafter “Primary Objective”) remove the current Regime and install the recognized Venezuelan President Juan Guaido.”

The document provides complete information about the money that would be invested (212 million dollars), and the payments and commissions that SilverCorp would receive from Guaidó’s team, which includes Juan José Rendón, Sergio Vergara and attorney Manuel Retureta.

The document also explains the promised retainer of 1.5 million dollars that Goudreau has been complaining about publicly since the failed operation last Sunday, May 3.

What has not been said: information about the operation was published two days before the attack

There is an important detail that the world press has not analysed. One AP article[2] which details the preparations for the attack was published Friday May 1, two days before the attempt to invade Venezuela was launched from Colombia. The article  provides particulars on the presence of three paramilitary groups (deserters from the Venezuelan armed forces and police) in Colombia and explains how this operation had been foiled and aborted. It clearly names Jordan Goudreau, including a profile on the mercenary and many other details about the planned attack. No Colombian nor US authority mobilized to neutralize the illegal paramilitary camps.

This document also appears to confirm that Goudreau, despite the exposure of the planned incursion by the press, still proceeded with the attack, irresponsibly putting at risk the lives of those involved. It also shows that neither US intelligence agencies, nor the Colombian police, nor even Guaidó’s team took action to stop the attack.

One can extrapolate two possible reasons for this. Allowing the operation to move forward, without directly committing to SilverCorp, would show the actual consequences of the operation (whether a success or failure). The operation could also expose the government of Maduro to world criticism if it produced fatalities on one side or the other. What is certain is that all of these scenarios, “whether above or under the table” in the words of Rendón on CNN, were discussed extensively with Guaidó and his advisors with the aim of illegally overthrowing Maduro. Rendón told CNN in Spanish that “they analysed all of the scenarios; alliances with other countries, their own actions, uprisings of people from within, of the soldiers that are there, the eventual use of actors that are outside, retired soldiers. All these scenarios were produced, as the president said well, we are analysing things above and below the table.”[3]

Guaidó was leader of the operations

The most important theme of this story, which the Washington Post does not even mention in its article, is what is described on page 39 of the contract.

Under the title “ATTACHMENT N: CHAIN OF COMMAND,” the document includes the following:

  1. Commander in Chief – President Juan Guaidó
  2. Overall Project Supervisor – Sergio Vergara
  3. Chief Strategist: Juan Jose Rendon
  4. On Site Commander – To be determined

The page is signed by Guaidó’s advisors and there is a large black box that surely hides compromising information about SilverCorp.

  Denial is followed by selective recognition

The evidence is very clear that Guaidó’s team has decided to change its strategy. The first reaction of Guaidó was to deny that he was involved in the disastrous operation[4] in the face of the cost of lives of eight mercenaries, former Venezuelan soldiers, and the capture of numerous paramilitaries, including two US former soldiers. Guaidó’s team  however,  publicly acknowledged this week their involvement, but they tried to discredit SilverCorp as if it had acted on its own. Nevertheless Rendón recognized that he had paid 50 thousand dollars to the mercenary company[5]  of Florida and that his signature on the document is legitimate.

The big question is what will be the response of the legal authorities in the US and Colombia. So far there has been no arrest, despite the fact that all of the details of the operation and the violations of law committed are clear and irrefutable.

In the coming days it will become evident whether the governments of Trump and Duque in Colombia opt for the strategy of impunity. This scandal without doubt weakens in an important way the illegal policy of sanctions and the dirty campaign supported by the hard-line Venezuelan opposition that has broken with the strategy of dialogue that other more moderate anti-Chavista sectors continue to advance in Caracas.

Translation made from the original Spanish by Fred Mills, academic and Co-Director of COHA

End notes

[1] “From a Miami condo to the Veenzuelan coast, how a plan to ‘capture’ Maduro went rogue”,

[2] “Ex-Green Beret led failed attempt to oust Venezuela’s Maduro”,

[3] “J.J. Rendón habla sobre la Operación Gedeón en Conclusiones de CNN en Español”,

[4] “Guaidó niega vínculos con intento de invasión en Venezuela”,

[5] “J.J. Rendón habla sobre la Operación Gedeón en Conclusiones de CNN en Español”,

May 13, 2020 Posted by | War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

Nations Spent $73bn on Nuclear Arms Amid COVID-19, UK in 3rd as US Tops at Half of Global Costs

By Demond Cureton – Sputnik – 13.05.2020

Despite being the global epicentre of COVID-19 cases and deaths, the world’s leading nuclear power accounted for roughly half of total global spending on nuclear arms, a shock report from a major Swiss nonprofit coalition found.

Nuclear armed states spent a record $73bn on nuclear weapons amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a report from the Geneva-based International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) revealed.

The report, entitled Enough Is Enough: 2019 Global Nuclear Weapons Spending, found an increase of nuclear weapons spending in 2019, up $7.1bn from 2018.

The findings, which assessed the world’s leading nuclear powers – The United States, United Kingdom, France, China, Russia, Pakistan, India, Israel and North Korea – revealed that top nuclear powers spent $138,699 on over 13,000 nuclear weapons every minute of 2019.

The amount of money the US spent in 2019 alone could pay for 300,000 intensive care unit beds, 150,000 nurses, 75,000 doctors and 35,000 ventilators, the report found.

But the United Kingdom was the third highest spender at $8.9bn after the US and China at $35bn and $10.4bn, respectively, according to the report.

“It is absurd to be spending $138,700 every single minute on weapons that cause catastrophic human harm rather than spending it to protect the health of their citizens. They are abdicating their duty to protect their people,” ICAN executive director, Beatrice Fihn, said in a statement.

Nuclear arms were banned by the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which the UN will enforce after all participating 50 nations ratify or accede the document, effectively criminalising such expenditures under international law.

But the figures only included direct spending on nuclear warheads and delivery systems costs for operation and deployment, with real numbers skyrocketing after factoring in costs due to environmental damage and victim compensation, with ICAN calling on governments to remain transparent in disclosing expenses, the statement read.

2019 Nuclear Defence Spending ICAN

International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)

Alicia Sanders-Zakre, author of the report, said: “The figures do not include the massive humanitarian costs and the environmental toll from a legacy of nuclear testing and production. Even in the unlikely chance these weapons are never used, governments are paying massive sums to poison their environments and put their people at grave risk.”

The news comes as British MPs slammed the Ministry of Defence for wasting £1.3bn ($1.6bn) on upgrading the country’s nuclear Trident programme, which is currently six years behind schedule. Costs were estimated at £2.5bn for the three upgrade programmes, which have spiked an additional £1.35bn, according to reports.

May 13, 2020 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | 2 Comments

CNN lies about 68% of Americans waiting for vaccine to return to normal life as lockdown gives MSM new lease on life

By Helen Buyniski  | RT | May 12, 2020

Mainstream media is running wild during the US coronavirus lockdown with the kind of distorted “facts” that would normally be ignored but have developed staying power due to pandemic-induced vulnerabilities in its audience.

More than two-thirds of Americans are determined to hide out in their homes until a Covid-19 vaccine comes along. Or so CNN appeared to claim in a Tuesday headline, declaring “68 percent of Americans say a vaccine is needed before returning to normal life.” Citing a Gallup poll, the piece implied that until a vaccine is rolled out for the pandemic that has upended the lives of people around the world, most Americans are content to shelter in place, working from home (if they’re lucky enough to be working at all) and absorbing reality through the mainstream media.

The actual Gallup poll the article cited said no such thing. “Availability of a vaccine to prevent Covid-19” was merely one item on a list of factors that respondents could rate as “very,” “somewhat,” or “not too important” as conditions for returning to their pre-pandemic routines. Indeed, a poll taken the previous week that specifically asked how many respondents would only return to normal if there was a vaccine found just 12 percent of respondents felt they needed the still-hypothetical jab to resume their lives.

More important than a vaccine that is expected to take over a year to come to market in Gallup’s poll were “mandatory quarantine for anyone testing positive with Covid-19” (“very important” for 80 percent of respondents) and “improved medical therapies to treat Covid-19” (“very important” for 77 percent). Even a “significant reduction” in virus-related deaths (73 percent) outstripped the vaccine. Yet this benchmark was used as the headline by CNN.

Sure, the decision could have been motivated by the network’s heavy support by pharmaceutical companies. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders called out CNN during a primary debate for taking drug company money in a direct conflict of interest, and vaccine safety advocate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has claimed 70 percent of ad dollars for news networks come from pharmaceuticals during non-election years.

However, given the abysmal track record of previous efforts to develop a vaccine for other coronaviruses, like SARS, there’s no guarantee a Covid-19 shot will ever come on the market. Instead, it’s more likely CNN’s motive in portraying Americans as willing to hide in their homes for another year in the hope of a pharmaceutical savior that may never come is an opportunistic attempt to prey on the newfound vulnerabilities of a pandemic-panicked population.

Everyone makes mistakes, of course, but CNN and its mainstream media ilk have been making an awful lot of them during the coronavirus pandemic, and they’ve all erred in the direction of presenting the virus as a terrifying killer that threatens all populations who dare peek their heads out of their windows (except for the prescribed hour of clapping, of course). CBS was caught re-using the same footage of an Italian hospital overwhelmed by coronavirus-stricken patients twice to illustrate New York hospitals supposedly buckling under the weight of the epidemic, even after the network was caught the first time and excoriated on social media. A Project Veritas exposé last week implied they hadn’t learned their lesson, claiming the network had allegedly staged a long line of patients waiting for coronavirus testing at a Michigan facility, which CBS was quick to blame. Many outlets continued to predict apocalyptic death numbers for the country long after it was apparent that the early estimates were significantly overblown.

It’s not like there haven’t been plenty of sensational Covid-19 stories in the US, which has long been the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. Between U-Haul trucks filled with decomposing bodies parked outside a Brooklyn funeral home and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s appalling order mandating contagious Covid-19 patients be admitted to nursing homes where they’d – in his own words – infect the tenants “like fire through dry grass,” tales of suffering inflicted by the virus abound. Covid-19 has contributed to over 81,000 deaths as of Tuesday, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University. But it never seems to be enough – so many of the deaths are in nursing home patients or those with comorbid conditions that the media seems compelled to dig for ever more lurid and shocking narratives.

The Covid-19 lockdowns have given the media establishment something it hasn’t had for years – a captive audience. It isn’t about to let something like that go, even as states begin to loosen restrictions and permit the housebound to return to work. Pre-virus, the media establishment enjoyed near-record low approval ratings, with just 41 percent claiming to trust mainstream outlets in 2019. But in the midst of the uncertainty caused by the virus – which has put over 33 million Americans out of work and disrupted the lives of millions more – the certainty and familiarity those outlets provide has shored up their falling stock. Some 57 percent of respondents to a Pew Research poll conducted last month said cable news was doing an “excellent” or “good” job covering the pandemic, while a whopping 68 percent approved of network television coverage. Given the low ratings they enjoy during business as usual, neither CNN nor any other mainstream outlet is going to risk letting their newly-loyal audience return to reality – not when they can keep them at home waiting for a vaccine for another year. For a media that thrives on fear, the best kind of customer is one who’s glued to the couch, terrified of the virus lurking just outside their door.

Helen Buyniski is an American journalist and political commentator at RT. Follow her on Twitter @velocirapture23

May 13, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 1 Comment

Turkey stalls Iran gas imports amid aggressive US efforts to push its LNG

Press TV – May 13, 2020

Turkey is dragging its feet on repairing a pipeline which was hit by an explosion in late March, stopping Iran’s gas exports to the country, the Fars news agency says.

Iran sells about 10 billion cubic meters a year of gas to Turkey under a 25-year supply deal signed in 1996. The pipeline has been blown up several times by PKK terrorists, but it has been repaired and the gas flow has continued shortly.

However, after another blast occurred on the pipeline on March 31, an official at the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) said the Turkish side was not responding even as Iran had informed it of the incident.

According to Mehdi Jamshidi-Dana, Turkey’s representative at Bazargan gas transmission station had left his post due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

The official said it was not clear when the line would re-open, but he cited past experience which showed “repairing the lines takes three to seven days, depending on the amount of damage done”.

On Wednesday, Fars suggested that the pipeline is still out of service, citing Turkish state energy company Botas’ dilly-dallying and unwillingness to repair it.

The news agency speculated that the situation must be the result of aggressive US efforts to push its liquefied natural gas (LNG) into Turkey.

Heavily dependent on gas imports from Russia, Turkey has already reduced flows from Gazprom significantly, while increasing LNG purchases and gas imports from Azerbaijan.

“In recent months, Turkey has imported as much LNG from the United States as gas imports from Iran,” Ali Nasr, an energy expert, told Fars.

Last November, Turkey marked the completion of the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) to carry gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to Europe.

In January, the presidents of Turkey and Russia formally launched the TurkStream pipeline to carry Russian natural gas to southern Europe through Turkey.

Fars warned that Iran may lose its biggest gas market to rivals, which could cost the country $150 million-$200 million in lost revenues a month.

The US has the necessary incentive to remove Iranian gas from the Turkish market in order to increase economic pressure on Iran, while Turkey seeks to diversity its energy sources and reduce gas imports from Iran and Russia, the agency said.

The US is currently pushing Trump’s “energy dominance” agenda that seeks to advance diplomatic and policy objectives through rapidly expanding US oil and gas exports.

Iran has already lost its biggest condensate market in South Korea which imported 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) of the ultra light oil from the Middle Eastern country.

The Koreans stopped the shipments under pressure from the United States which is aggressively thrusting its fast-growing condensate into Asia.

According to US officials, Washington has offered to sign a $100 billion trade agreement with Turkey, which their presidents discussed at the Munich Security Conference.

The offer is part of the Trump administration’s main goal to get President Recep Tayyip Erdogan drop plans to use Russia’s S-400 missile defense systems.

“If an agreement is reached, the possibility of replacing Iranian gas with American LNG is quite possible,” Fars warned.

According to the news agency stated, Turkey has expanded its LNG terminals to take in 25 billion cubic meters of cargoes – 2.5 times more than the imported gas from Iran. The terminals are currently operating only at 25 percent of their nominal capacity. … Full article

May 13, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , , , | Leave a comment

FBI Claims China Targeting US Organizations Engaged in Coronavirus Research

Sputnik – May 13, 2020

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) have issued a joint statement in which they accuse malicious Chinese actors of trying to steal US coronavirus vaccine research.

“The FBI is investigating the targeting and compromise of US organizations conducting COVID-19-related research by PRC-affiliated cyber actors and non-traditional collectors. These actors have been observed attempting to identify and illicitly obtain valuable intellectual property (IP) and public health data related to vaccines, treatments and testing from networks and personnel affiliated with COVID-19-related research. The potential theft of this information jeopardizes the delivery of secure, effective, and efficient treatment options,” the statement, put out Wednesday, says.

The FBI and CISA urge organizations carrying out research in these fields to “maintain dedicated cybersecurity and insider threat practices” to prevent such thefts, and calls on institutions to watch out for and report any “anomalous” and “unusual” activities and behaviour. The statement also warns that organizations should realize that talking to the press about their COVID-19-related research may result in “increased interest and cyber activity” by possible malicious actors.

The warning comes just days following Sunday’s report by The New York Times citing current and former US security officials indicating that US intelligence was planning to put out an alert about alleged efforts by Chinese spies to access US-based coronavirus research. Officials told the paper that the ‘non-traditional collectors’ involved may include Chinese researchers and students working in the United States who may be interested in ‘infiltrating’ US academic and private laboratories in search of a vaccine. Complementing them are China’s “state-run hacking teams,” the paper claimed.

CISA director Christopher Krebs has alleged that “China’s long history of bad behaviour in cyberspace is well documented, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone they are going after the critical organizations involved in the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.” Krebs promised that the US would “defend our interests aggressively,” without elaborating.

Strong Claims From ‘Empire of Hackers’

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian commented on the claims made by NYT on Monday, saying China already leads global research and development on coronavirus vaccines and therapies, and that the hacking claims were an “immoral” and baseless attempt to “smear” his country.

Chinese biotech companies reported recently that they have four different coronavirus vaccines already undergoing clinical trials, with three of them entering the second stage, with pilot production of an inactivated COVID-19 vaccine expected to begin in July. US President Donald Trump, meanwhile, has previously said he expects the US to have a vaccine available by the end of the year.

An anonymous researcher told the Global Times newspaper Monday that in the US’s core research efforts would be of little value to China, because US efforts are DNA and RNA-based vaccines, while China has chosen to focus on inactivated vaccines (i.e. vaccines made from virulent virus by destroying its infectivity while retaining its immunogenicity). Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine is the most famous example of a major inactivated vaccine.

Earlier this year, China called out the United States for being an “empire of hackers” and “the largest state eavesdropper in international cyberspace” following revelations of the extent of the National Security Agency’s global intelligence-gathering operations going back to the Cold War.

May 13, 2020 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

Merkel cites ‘hard evidence’ she was victim of ‘Russian hackers’, says it doesn’t help mend ties with Moscow

RT | May 13, 2020

Germany’s chancellor has lamented what she claimed was irrefutable proof of a Russian “hacking attack” on her Bundestag office but said she is working day and night to fix relations with Moscow despite the “painful” incident.

Chancellor Angela Merkel accused Russia of carrying out an online intrusion into her Bundestag constituency office back in 2015, as she spoke to MPs on Wednesday.

“I can honestly say that it hurts me,” she said of the alleged hack attack, claiming there is “hard evidence” that some unspecified “Russian forces” were behind the theft of data, based upon the results of a “properly done” investigation.

Still, Merkel said she is working hard to foster diplomatic ties between Moscow and Berlin “every day,” even if the hacking activity doesn’t make it any easier.

Russia denied the allegations when they first emerged back in 2015, and has continued to do so in the years since. However, Moscow is yet to comment on Merkel’s fresh remarks.

When asked about the possible consequences of Moscow’s so-called “hybrid warfare strategy,” the chancellor used unusually harsh language, threatening that “[Germany], of course, will always reserve the right to take measures, including against Russia.”

The chancellor’s words came on the heels of a report by Spiegel magazine linking the 2015 online assault to Russian military intelligence. Culprits, it suggested, were able to get away with over 16 gigabytes of data, which include thousands of inbox messages originating from the chancellor’s Bundestag office.

According to Spiegel, the hackers apparently copied the emails to another computer. It was only in May 2015 that the Bundestag discovered its networks were breached; it was concluded that the hack attacks had been happening since at least the beginning of that year.

While the magazine heavily cited the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) and the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) among their sources, the agencies in question kept silent on the matter. The German government, in turn, didn’t confirm the authenticity of the report, until Merkel herself addressed it in her speech Wednesday.

May 13, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | | 3 Comments

France’s Earlier Detection of COVID-19 Raises Questions on Global Origin

By Finian Cunningham | Strategic Culture Foundation | May 12, 2020

The emergence of Covid-19 was first reported by the authorities in China on December 31, as acknowledged by the World Health Organization. But that emergence does not necessarily mean the pandemic originated in China.

By January 30, 2020, a WHO situation report cited nearly 8,000 cases of the respiratory disease globally in 18 different countries. The vast majority of the infections at that stage were in China. It has since exploded to four million cases in virtually all 194 nations with the United States hosting by far the majority of infections and deaths (80,000 fatalities as of this week).

The early pattern of the disease spreading may suggest that China and its central city of Wuhan was the origin of the pandemic. It is widely speculated that the novel coronavirus residing in bats or some other mammal infected humans.

However, the report this week that a hospital in France detected Covid-19 in a patient as early as December 27, 2019, raises questions about the global origin. The French man, who went on to recover from the disease, was previously thought to have been suffering from pneumonia. The Paris hospital retested biomedical samples of patients and found that the man had in fact contracted Covid-19.

Curiously, the French patient had not travelled from abroad before he became ill at the end of last year. So, how does this finding square with claims that the disease originated in China? It has been speculated that the man’s wife who worked near Charles De Gaulle international airport may have been exposed. But she did not show symptoms of the disease. Her link as an “asymptomatic” disease carrier and her presumed contact with air travelers from China is therefore tenuous speculation.

French doctors are not certain if the case of the cited man represents that country’s “patient zero”, that is, the first case of Covid-19 in France. But the detection of the disease in France on December 27 is a full month before it was officially recorded as having arrived in France. In other words, the suspicion now is that Covid-19 may been circulating undetected in France and perhaps other European countries, as well as the United States, at the end of last year. Many of these infections and accompanying deaths may have been misidentified as due to seasonal flu or pneumonia.

It is understandable why the Chinese authorities are “defensive”, as the New York Times snidely headlines, about China being described as “the origin” of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This week China was accused of “censoring” an article penned by the European Union’s ambassador to the country. The article was published in news outlet China Daily but mention of “the outbreak of the coronavirus in China, and its subsequent spread to the rest of the world over the past three months…” was edited out. That led to recriminations in Western media about the EU pandering to Chinese state “censorship”.

Yes, the disease appears to have first emerged in large numbers in China at the end of December. But it is not yet determined how and where the virus originated. That will require further scientific study. Thus, for China to bridle at assertions about being “the origin” is not necessarily sinister censorship, but rather prudence to not prejudge.

What we have seen is an unseemly haste to politicize the pandemic with a view to blame China for infecting the rest of the world.

U.S. President Donald Trump is the most vocal in blaming China. But Australia, Britain and the EU have also antagonized Beijing by demanding an “independent” investigation into the origin of the disease. The inference is that China is at fault. Given the way, Western so-called “independent” investigations are prone to political bias to achieve preconceived conclusions (the Dutch-led MH17 airliner crash, for example), one can hardly object to China’s wariness about such calls.

Why should China submit to Western demands for “investigation” into Covid-19 when these Western demands are all one-way?

Why limit it to China? Surely international investigations would be merited for determining the actual appearance of Covid-19 in Europe or North America. The French case of Covid-19 in December misidentified as pneumonia suggests the disease was present contemporaneously with cases in China’s Wuhan.

Then there is the case of unidentified and deadly respiratory disease outbreaks in Fairfax, Virginia, in July 2019. Why shouldn’t international investigators be allowed into the U.S. to determine the precise nature of those disease outbreaks. Were they early incidents of Covid-19, a new unknown disease which happened to be first identified in China only months later?

The Trump administration has made unsubstantiated allegations that Covid-19 may have been released by a laboratory in Wuhan. No evidence has been provided by Trump or his bullish secretary of state Mike Pompeo. International scientific consensus has dismissed Trump’s allegations as a “conspiracy theory”. The Wuhan Institute of Virology has a solid reputation for safeguards over its study of infectious diseases.

The same cannot be said for the United States’ top biowarfare laboratory in Fort Detrick, Maryland, which was ordered to close last August by the federal Center for Disease Control due to concerns about substandard safety controls and danger of releasing deadly pathogens. Were U.S. army scientists studying novel coronaviruses?

If China’s Wuhan laboratory can be fingered and smeared for no sound reason, then why can’t a Pentagon biowarfare center that had to be shuttered for lack of safety? Chinese officials have already made an accusatory link to American personnel attending the Military World Games in Wuhan in October 2019 as being a possible cause of infection.

The origin of Covid-19 is far from clear. Trump wants to scapegoat China for obvious cynical reasons of distracting from his own disastrous mishandling of the disease. The same scapegoating instinct applies to other Western states where governments have been derelict in protecting the public from tens of thousands of deaths.

Investigations are indeed due. But determining the origin of Covid-19 will not be made by politicized probes that presume China’s fault for the pandemic.

May 13, 2020 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | , , | Leave a comment

Pentagon’s Silent Killers

By Vladimir Platov – New Eastern Outlook – 13.05.2020

In light of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, which has caused rapid and substantial harm to many nations and lives of their citizens, analysts are reluctantly starting to look at the possibility that certain countries may resort to the use of biological weapons capable of causing mass deaths. Germ warfare is the use of biological toxins or infectious agents, such as bacteria, viruses, insects, and fungi, that are biological in origin with the intent to kill people, animals and plants. Designing microorganisms that cause disease and means of spreading them among target populations are all part of biological warfare.

In the military, the concept of weaponizing germs has existed for a long time. After all, epidemics that happened during wars resulted in substantial losses of troops, and this, in turn, had a significant impact on the way the conflict unfolded as well as its outcome. For example, during the Vietnam War, US troops lost more (approximately 3-fold) servicemen to disease than during military operations (injuries and deaths). Epidemics among civilian populations away from battlefields also had very negative consequences, resulting in serious issues in manufacturing and logistics sectors and, overall, problems in governance.

Hence, it is not surprising that the United States — responsible for unleashing more armed conflicts than any other country in recent years and for launching numerous military interventions in regions all over the world — has been constantly ramping up its research into biological warfare, mainly through the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). One of the key aims of its biological technologies branch is to conduct studies on germs.

It is worth reminding our readers that the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (BWC) was open for signature on 10 April 1972. It entered into force on 26 March 1975 when twenty-two governments deposited their instruments of ratification of this Convention with the Secretary-General of the United Nations. To date, 163 nations signed the BWC, thus agreeing not to develop, produce or stockpile biological weapons. Although the United States ratified the Biological Weapons Convention in 1972, it did not sign an internationally binding verification protocol to the BWC from 2001. Hence, there are no mechanisms in place to check whether the USA is complying with the convention.

In any case, it is well-known that since the middle of 2016, four research teams under the aegis of DARPA have been working on a revolutionary research project aimed at protecting “the U.S. agricultural food supply by delivering protective genes to plants via insects”, called Insect Allies. American scientists “are looking at introducing genetically modified viruses that can edit chromosomes directly”, such as “using insects to transmit genetically modified material into plants”. In the summer of 2017, the research program received $27 million in funding.

In the opinion of experts from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Germany and the University of Montpellier in France, Insect Allies “may be widely perceived as an effort to develop biological agents for hostile purposes and their means of delivery”. DARPA has denied such assertions “DARPA is producing neither biological weapons nor the means for their delivery”. Still, the authors of the article published in Science believe that the microorganisms in question could do more harm than good. For instance, insects “could be used to disperse agents that would prevent seeds from growing”.

“Given that DARPA is a military agency, we find it surprising that the obvious and concerning dual-use aspects of this research have received so little attention,” Felix Beck, a lawyer at the University of Freiburg, said. “The Insect Allies programme is largely unknown, even in expert circles,” Dr. Guy Reeves, an expert in GM insects at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology said. According to Silja Voeneky, a legal scholar at the University of Freiburg in Germany, the program “may be widely perceived as an effort to develop biological agents for hostile purposes and their means of delivery”, and thus, as a violation of the BWC, which is strongly worded, banning the development of any biological agents “that have no justification for prophylactic, protective, or other peaceful purposes”.

Information available to date indicates that maize and tomato plants were used in experiments, with “leafhoppers, aphids and whiteflies” employed to disperse the genetically modified material. Since maize is widely cultivated and consumed in Latin America and Africa, the fact that it was chosen for the research study also points to a potential military use of DARPA’s program. Apparently, the defense agency ensures that its scientists do not conduct experiments on plants that are not widely used by people.

Leaving your opponent without a harvest, which could lead to famine, is a much slower approach to reaching one’s aim. But it is a practical one, as the land could still be used for growing crops in the future. Such a bioweapon (an insect that introduces genetically modified material) could be deployed by an aggressor without the need for special equipment, thus leaving no trace of an attack. No means of spreading any chemicals or toxins would be found either as these could serve as indirect proof of a deliberate (far from natural) attack on plants. Filling a field with weaponized insects is all one needs.

Recent epidemics among animals (for instance, the spread of African swine fever virus among pigs in a number of countries) and the appearance of new types of insects that cause great harm, all point to a potential link to some types of foreign bioweapons. For instance, tropical insects are gaining a foothold in Germany and spreading deadly illnesses in the process. According to experts, such bugs are dangerous because they can spread infectious agents that cause tropical diseases.

Throughout the Caucasus box tree moths (native to Asia) have been spreading for unknown reasons and causing severe damage to Colchic boxwood, a rare and endangered plant.

Concerns are growing about the fact that the United States has been providing a great deal of funding for biological programs that may have dual uses, such as conducting controversial experiments with infectious agents that cause deadly diseases; testing mechanisms of dispersal; increasing the scope of military research in biolabs abroad, and others. And as there are more and more questions about the nature of research done in numerous secret biolabs of the Pentagon, an unbiased international investigation ought to be conducted into their work.

May 13, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | 1 Comment