Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Not Fact Checkers

By Iain | In This Together | February 28, 2020

Fact Checkers claim they check facts for you, so you don’t have to. The dictionary definition of a fact is:

“Something that is known to have happened or to exist, especially something for which proof exists, or about which there is information”

The legal definition of a fact is:

“An actual and absolute reality, as distinguished from mere supposition or opinion; a truth, as distinguished from fiction or error.”

Like reality and truth, a fact is absolute. It never changes, it is immutable and eternal. Our understanding of the facts may differ because we only have the available evidence to inform our knowledge of the facts. The availability of evidence is vital if we are to have any hope of knowing the facts. Our access to evidence doesn’t change the facts, it merely limits or expands our knowledge of them.

The definition of knowledge is:

“[Noun]… awareness, understanding, or information that has been obtained by experience or study, and that is either in a person’s mind or possessed by people generally.”

Vital Access to Information

Access to information is the key component for developing knowledge of the facts. Knowledge doesn’t mean we always get the facts right, but we have no chance if information is limited or deliberately restricted.

Some facts are relatively easy to understand. The boiling point of water is a fact we can physically measure with consistent results. Others are more difficult to know and therefore less certain from our perspective. For example, history comprises of nothing other than facts but for us to know what they are we need to sift through the evidence, some reliable some not, to build our knowledge of the historical facts.

The same is true with current affairs and public issues. The facts are fixed but our knowledge of them is determined by our access to information. Information is subject to many competing forces. Censorship, propaganda, commercial interest, fabrication, omission and basic human error all combine to distort, obfuscate or over emphasise information (evidence). This makes knowing the facts about contemporary public issues just as tricky as knowing the historical facts, often more so.

Fortunately, we can all employ critical thinking skills, cross reference the evidence from various sources and decide the facts for ourselves. Thanks to the current iteration of the internet, the logical pursuit of information, forming our own balanced judgments of the facts, has never been more accessible for ordinary folk. The process called thinking is the service the fact checkers are selling.

Fact checkers claim their knowledge of the information (evidence), which identifies fact, is both complete and indisputable. They are certain about what happened, thoroughly understand all the relevant circumstances, have a complete grasp of reality, knowledge of all the relevant information and are accurately able to determine what is fact.

In short, they say they possess the truth. If you disagree with them, you don’t know the truth and are therefore wrong, regardless of the evidence you cite.

If you rely upon the fact checkers for your facts you must accept this. You no longer need to think critically or examine the evidence yourself. The fact checkers will do the hard work for you. They will tell you what the information is, give you your knowledge and cement the facts in your mind. All you need do is “Google it.”

What Do Fact Checkers Do?

The State has decided people are incapable of critical thinking and can’t tell the difference between facts and disinformation. Further, they propose legislation that will fundamentally change the nature of the internet. It is in this political environment that fact checkers have been commissioned to discern the facts and present the truth to the confused public.

In 2014 there were just 44 Fact checkers worldwide. As of June 2019 there were 188. While the whole of Africa, Asia, Australasia and South America have 67 fact checkers between them, the much smaller geographical and less populated regions of Europe and North America have 121. So there must be more incorrect information in the U.S. and Europe than anywhere else in the world.

Fact Checking is a rapidly changing startup industry. In 2014 nearly 90% of Fact Checkers were directly funded by mainstream media corporations. Today that figure has dropped to just 56% with many more claiming they are independent. We are going to look at how independent they are.

Some independent fact checkers, such as the UK’s Full Fact, have been given charity status. The UK Charity commission accepted Full Fact’s charitable purpose:

“To provide free tools, advice, and information so that anyone can check the claims we hear about public issues.”

Fact Checking?

Fact Checkers make money by fact checking for multinational corporations, non-governmental organisations (NGO’s), wealthy charitable foundations and the mainstream media. Global corporations, notably the tech giants, are under considerable political pressure to employ fact checkers and devise ways of stopping the spread of so called disinformation. Disinformation being anything that questions official narratives.

Recently Facebook announced that its subsidiary Instagram was working with fact checkers to deploy a rating system. They will apply a rating “label” to all information as either true, partly false or false. Information rated as partly false or false will then be removed from search results and associated hashtags denied. Once the label is activated Facebook and Instagram bots seek out all “matching” content and label it accordingly. Thus effectively removing the offending information from the public domain.

The public will then be redirected to the correct information:

“… If something is rated false or partly false on Facebook, starting today we’ll automatically label identical content if it is posted on Instagram (and vice versa). The label will link out to the rating from the fact-checker and provide links to articles from credible sources that debunk the claim(s) made in the post.”

“Credible sources”, as far as most International Fact Checking Network (IFCN) fact checkers are concerned, often means the mainstream media (MSM) who they cite while seemingly oblivious to the MSM’s never ending stream of fake news.

Independent Fact Checkers?

For fact checkers to have any credibility they need to be scrupulously unbiased, thoroughly independent and as objective as possible. Any evidence that they are not means they are not fact checkers at all but rather political organizations that offer an opinion. If they are paid by people or groups with clear agendas then they have no credibility and everything they say needs to be treated with caution. We would still need to exercise due diligence and examine the evidence ourselves to establish if the fact checkers opinions are indeed facts.

When the UK Government Foreign and Commonwealth Office established the Open Information Partnership (the Expose Network) they suggested their network of actors use approved fact checking services, such as Full Fact in the UK, who are members of Poynter’s International Fact Checking Network (IFCN). Poynter’s major funders include the Charles Koch Foundation, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the Omidyar Network (Luminate), Google and the Open Society Foundation.

Therefore it is a fact that the IFCN, the “official” trade organisation for “approved” fact checkers, is funded by, among others, the multinational corporation Koch Industries, the C.I.A (NED), globalist venture capitalists (Omidyar), aggressive internet monopolists (Google) and globalist currency speculator & social change agent George Soros (Open Society). Nearly all of the fact checking signatories to the IFCN code have similar agenda driven backers. Members include Politifact, Full Fact, StopFake and AP Fact Check, to name but a few.

Full Fact, for example, list their corporate members to include the City of London Corporation (the UK financial sector and a global center for international finance), the global corporate law firm King & Wood Malleson, St Jame’s Place Wealth Management (a huge global capital investment firm), and the defence contractor Rolls Royce. Their funding partners include Google, The Omidyar Network and the Open Society foundation. They even wrote a policy proposal paper called “Tackling Misinformation In an Open Society.”

Full Fact’s trustees include former BBC Director of News and Current Affairs James Harding. James was responsible for one of the most egregious pieces of fake news war propaganda in modern history when he oversaw production of the BBC’s fake documentary Saving Syria’s Children.

BBC Fake Documentary To Promote War

Chair of the board of trustees is Conservative Party donor Michael Samuel and he is joined by fellow Conservative Lord Inglewood and Labour Peer Baroness Royal. The political establishment is well represented when it comes to making sure we have the right facts.

Another Full Fact trustee is Lord Sharkey Liberal Democrat Peer and former strategic adviser to once UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. Clegg joined Facebook in October 2018 to become Facebook Head of Global Affairs. In January 2019 Full Fact became approved third party fact checkers for Facebook and in September 2019 Nick announced that Facebook won’t “fact check” politicians in the same way that it fact checks the general public. Speaking of Facebook’s approach to the political class Clegg said:

“From now on we will treat speech from politicians as newsworthy content that should, as a general rule, be seen and heard.” 

Obviously this carte blanche doesn’t extend to the general public. Presumably because we are all disinformation agents.

Another Full Fact trustee Tim Gordon was also an advisor to Nick Clegg. He co founded Best Practice AI which was the first UK AI firm invited to join the World Economic Forum’s Global AI Council (GAIC). The GAIC bring together representatives from tech giants including Microsoft , IBM and Google’s Chinese division with British government ministers, such as former Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Jeremy Wright, who attending their council meeting in 2019.

GAIC is one of six WEF global councils focused upon technology and the fourth industrial revolution. Their stated purpose is:

“… to provide policy guidance and address governance gaps.”

So as Full Fact rolls out automated AI fact checking, fully funded by regular WEF attendees Pierre Omidyar and George Soros, with the full support of GAIC members Google, it is good to know these projects are rooted firmly in Full Fact’s independence. As they only report the facts they state on their website:

“Full Fact fights bad information. We’re a team of independent fact checkers and campaigners who find, expose and counter the harm it does.”

“Bad information” is information that questions government policy agendas and harms globalist interests. These interests are defined for government by global institutions like the World Economic forum, where government ministers attend to get their orders. Independent, in Full Fact speak, must mean “employed by global corporations and oligarchs.”

The extensive political, intelligence, non governmental and globalist network steering Full Fact is by no means unique to them. A cursory glance at the supporters of the other fact checking signatories to the IFCN reveal a similar web of globalist and corporate interests in practically every case. The IFCN, and its members, are paid by people with overt political, financial and social agendas. Independence is non existent and consequently the fact checkers claims of objectivity need to be treated accordingly. They have no credibility at all.

Not Fact Checking

Get Your Facts Straight

If fact checkers check facts then you would at least expect them to report the evidence accurately. However, all too often, they don’t. For example, AP Fact Check are IFCN members who report that World Trade Center Building 7 (WTC7) collapsed on September 11th 2001 as a result of fires. This “fact” was first reported by AP Fact Check on 13/06/2017 and remains as their statement of fact today (28/02/2020.)

The engineering department of the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) undertook a 4 year long study into the collapse of WTC7. The UAF report is currently open to peer review and cites the evidence it is based upon. It was published in draft form in mid September 2019 and the findings were officially announced at the same time. It categorically states:

“… fire did not cause the collapse of WTC 7 on 9/11, contrary to the conclusions of NIST and private engineering firms that studied the collapse.”

The UAF study represents the most thorough, up to date, scientific analysis of the collapse of WTC7. Incomplete peer review of the UAF report is no reason for AP Fact Check to ignore it. The NIST report, the sole source for the fire collapse theory, has never been peer reviewed. Anyone using AP Fact Check to check the facts about the collapse of WTC7 would be wrong if they believed AP Fact Check. AP Fact Check haven’t got their facts straight.

This is a common problem with so called fact checkers. Due to the political nature of their role, all too often they stray into opinion rather than fact. There’s nothing wrong with that except the fact checkers falsely claim their opinions are facts not opinions. What’s worse is that the Internet is being policed and information censored on the basis that the fact checkers opinions are facts.

In January this year the HighWire released a video which contrasted clips of Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist for the World Health Organisation (W.H.O). The Video was titled “W.H.O. Chief Scientist Caught Lying To The Public.” Their was no commentary in the Highwire video, viewers were simply presented with the two clips of Dr. Swaminathan. It was left to the viewers discretion to decide if they believed Dr. Swaminathan was, in fact, lying.

In the first clip, from an official W.H.O. vaccine promotional video, Dr. Swaminathan states:

“We have vaccine safety systems. Robust vaccine safety systems … [The] WHO works closely with countries to make sure that vaccines can do what they do best: prevent disease without risks.”

The second clip records Dr. Swaminathan’s address to the U.N. Global Vaccine Safety Summit in 2019. She informs the summit:

“… We really don’t have very good safety monitoring systems in many countries…..we’re not able to give clear-cut answers when people ask questions about the deaths that have occurred due to a particular vaccine… One should be able to give a very factual account of what exactly has happened and what the cause of deaths are, but in most cases, there is some obfuscation at that level.”

Creating Truth Policy

These two mutually exclusive statements cannot both be true. If one is, the other is a lie. Vaccines cannot both “prevent disease without risks” while “deaths….have occurred due to a particular vaccine.”  The intention to deceive is an evident fact. Yet Facebook’s automated fact checking labeling system flagged the video as PARTLY FALSE and directed users to two articles from two credible sources which both presented specious, illogical arguments to discredit the factually accurate HighWire video.

In September 2019 climatologists and environmental experts protested to Facebook after its fact checkers labelled the article “The Great Failure of the Climate Models” as ‘FALSE.’ The article was blocked and users could not share it. The information in the article was censored. The article was based upon the work of scientists and statisticians and was factually accurate. Facebook not only labelled the article FALSE they directed readers to a dubious, poorly evidenced source, calling that “credible.”

Facebook removed the FALSE label shortly after receiving the protest letter, without explanation or apology. They clearly accepted their fact checking wasn’t checking any facts at all, simply censoring factually accurate information. However, in the fast paced modern information environment, the damage was done, and the political objective achieved.

This is not fact checking. This is political opinion masquerading as fact checking, deceiving the public into believing something is factually accurate (or inaccurate) when, in fact, it isn’t.

Poynter and the IFCN also confuse their opinion with fact. In May 2019 Poynter were forced to issue an apology, of sorts, to a number of media organisations after they issued an index of ‘unreliable’ media sources. When some of the listed organisations inquired about the basis for Poynter’s unfounded accusations, requesting Poynter and the IFCN provide some evidence to back up their claims, Poynter quickly removed the suggested “blacklist.”

Poynter’s IFCN make a great deal out of their fact checking principles so it’s a shame they didn’t apply any when they issued their blacklist. Poynter’s managing editor, Barbara Allen, said the purpose of the blacklist was as follows:

“… to provide a useful tool for readers to gauge the legitimacy of the information they were consuming… We began an audit to test the accuracy and veracity of the list, and while we feel that many of the sites did have a track record of publishing unreliable information, our review found weaknesses in the methodology. We detected inconsistencies between the findings of the original databases that were the sources for the list and our own rendering of the final report.”

This was tantamount to the IFCN admitting they chose who to put on their blacklist based upon their feelings. When we look at who funds the IFCN it’s pretty clear who those feelings lean towards.

When requested to evidence their decision the IFCN, guardians of the fact checking industry, couldn’t provide any. They had no relevant information, had no evidence to back up their opinion and were simply stating something as a fact when it was nothing of the sort.

Just because an organisation claims they are a fact checker it doesn’t mean they check facts. They are essentially establishment stooges whose role it is to police information and make sure the wider public doesn’t have access to any evidence that challenges official narratives and policy decisions. These fallible groups of people, no better informed than anyone else, are being used by the internet giants, at the behest of government, to censor what we can say online.

Let’s ignore the establishment’s fact checkers and hang on to our critical thinking skills for a while. It looks like we are going to need them more than ever.

July 8, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | 1 Comment

The UN has found that the US killing of Soleimani broke international law. It’s right, but nothing will happen as a result

By Scott Ritter | RT | July 8, 2020

For America, international law has no meaning. In Washington’s view, it applies to other countries, but not to them. Sadly, this well-reasoned UN declaration is simply an exercise in frustration and irrelevance.

On paper, it sounds very copesetic: “… a single strike, one or two cars targeted, 10 individuals killed, in a non-belligerent country, surrounded by people unaware of and unprepared for an international armed conflict.”

With these words, Agnes Callamard, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, described the assassination of Qassem Soleimani in a report submitted to the Human Rights Council.

Callamard’s report covered the broad topic of ‘Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions’, and focused in particular on the use of armed drones for targeted killing. She observed that such acts are carried out by conventional means, such as Special Operations Forces, and as such her report “contains findings applicable to all forms of targeted killings, no matter their method.”

In her report, Callamard singled out the assassination (i.e., “targeted killing”) of General Soleimani as “the first known incident in which a State [e.g., the US] invoked self-defense as a justification for an attack against a State-actor, in the territory of another state, thus implicating the prohibition on the use of force in Article 2(4) of the UN Charter.” It declares that “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”

Callamard labeled the killing of Soleimani by a US drone strike an “arbitrary killing,” noting that while the US claimed that the strike was in response to an “escalating series of armed attacks in recent months” by Iran, the US claim “fails to describe even one ongoing attack.”

Instead, Callamard describes a series of separate and distinct attacks which are not, in and of themselves, escalating, related in time or at all. Moreover, by attacking Soleimani on Iraqi soil without the consent of Iraq, the US violated Iraq’s “territorial integrity.”

Callamard couches her case in the language of international law, noting that various international courts have “established that human rights treaty obligations can apply in principle to the conduct of a State outside its territory.” Moreover, as Callamard points out, the Human Rights Committee to whom she reports “has established that a State party has an obligation to respect and to ensure the right to life of all persons whose right to life is impacted by its military or other activities in a direct and reasonably foreseeable manner.” This obligation, Callamard argues, applies to drones strikes and their targets, which fall within the jurisdiction of the state operating the drone.

As Callamard notes, to date there is a refusal on the part of courts of jurisdiction to provide oversight regarding extra-territorial killings by armed drones, noting that “such matters are political, or relate to international relations between states and thus are non-justiciable.” Callamard rejects this excuse, noting that it “cannot be reconciled with recognized principles of international law, treaties, conventions, and protocols, and violates the rights to life and to a remedy.”

Callamard says that the US, in justifying the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, cites the self-defense clause of Article 51 of the UN Charter. But, as she points out, “even the legality of a strike under Art. 51 of the UN Charter does not preclude its wrongfulness under humanitarian or human rights law.”

International jurisprudence, as Callamard observes, suggests that self-defense could only be invoked against a threat that is already there. Void of such an imminent threat, the US action operates in violation of Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which prohibits “arbitrary deprivations of life.”

At the end of the day, however, the Special Rapporteur’s report is, for all practicalities and solid reasoning, an exercise in frustration and irrelevance.

For laws to have any effect, they must be enforceable, and to be enforceable there must be jurisdiction. To decide that the US, through its extrajudicial and extraterritorial assassination of Soleimani, was in violation of Article 6 of the ICCPR is one thing; turning that decision into anything other than an act of moralistic chest-thumping is another.

One would think it should not be this way. After all, Article VI, paragraph 2 of the US Constitution makes treaties the supreme law of the land on the same footing with acts of Congress. The US Senate provided its advice and consent to the ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which had been adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 16, 1966, and signed on behalf of the US on October 5, 1977. Simply put, Article 6 of the ICCPR is the law of the land.

Not so fast. Senate ratification was contingent upon a number of “Reservations, Understandings, Declarations and Proviso,” including one which declared that “the United States declares that the provisions of Articles 1 through 27 of the Covenant are not self-executing.”

As such, regardless of whether issues pertaining to the entry into and ratification of the ICCPR make it sufficient to imbue its provisions as the “law of the land,” the fact that the US Senate expressly indicated that certain provisions of the ICCPR not to be self-executing means that Article 6 of the ICCPR cannot be seen as standing alone as the equivalent to an act of the legislature, but rather requiring a subsequent act of Congress before its provisions can be put into effect.

As the US Supreme Court once observed, “A treaty is primarily a compact between independent nations. It depends for the enforcement of its provisions on the interest and the honor of the governments which are parties of it.”

The odds of the US Congress stepping up and enacting legislation that would confer legitimacy to the Special Rapporteur’s finding that the US acted in violation of Article 6 of the ICCPR when killing Soleimani are zero; it is not in the interest of Congress to do so, and anyone searching for a semblance of honor within Congress would have better odds canvassing a brothel.

International law, like the Constitution which imbues it with relevance as far as the US is concerned, only possesses the meaning and legitimacy that a society is willing to vest in it. The US, acting on legislation passed by Congress, has engaged in a whittling away of the rights and protections afforded to Americans and world citizens to the point that neither international law nor the Constitution have much meaning anymore.

It is not just the US Congress that has lost its voice when it comes to expressing moral outrage against the murder done in its name. “To date drones’ attacks and targeted killings are not the object of robust international debates and review,” Callamard concludes in her report. “The Security Council is missing in action; the international community, willingly or not, stands largely silent. That is not acceptable.”

Seen in this light, the words of Callamard take on a whole new level of urgency. “[T]he targeted killing of General Soleimani, coming in the wake of 20 years of distortions of international law, and repeated massive violations of humanitarian law, is not just a slippery slope. It is a cliff.”

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

July 8, 2020 Posted by | War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

YouTube censors video about daily life for Palestinians

If Americans Knew | July 8, 2020

YouTube does not want American high school students to know the truth about the Israeli occupation of Palestine.YouTube is censoring an eight-minute video entitled “Daily Life in Occupied Palestine.” The video, produced by If Americans Knew, contains video clips of Israeli actions against Palestinian men, women, and children, both Muslim and Christian. It also provides statistical and historical information about the Israeli-Palestinian issue. The US gives Israel over $10 million per day.

YouTube first removed the video claiming that it “violates YouTube guidelines.” When this claim was appealed, reviewers at the company admitted that it “does not violate YouTube guidelines.”

YouTube's response to our appeal

YouTube restored the video, but is prohibiting high school students from viewing it, and discouraging adults from watching it.

When people click on the video, they see a black screen with the unusually dire warning: “The following content has been identified by the YouTube community as inappropriate or offensive to some audiences. Viewer discretion is advised.”

YouTube reports poor performance after censoring our videoThis has caused a significant reduction of views.

If Americans Knew has appealed these actions, writing to YouTube that the video—

“hasn’t been identified by ‘the YouTube Community’ as offensive; the information it contains has been labeled offensive by Israel partisans – that’s very different.

“We went to great lengths to censor all scenes of blood and gore, and even profane language. The purpose of this video is to educate the public about the ongoing situation in Israel-Palestine.”

In point of fact, the video is entirely within the range of footage shown on nightly TV. The only viewers for whom this is “offensive” are the Israel apologists whose lobby enables the violence it contains.

High school students study U.S. History, World History, and Government. They will soon be voters. Many are politically active and volunteer in diverse political campaigns. They regularly see movies filled with violence. There are laws in at least 12 states mandating that schools teach about the Nazi holocaust, an extremely violent episode in European history.

It is deeply inappropriate for YouTube to prevent American students from viewing a factual video about one of the most urgent issues in today’s world, and about a country that receives more US tax money than any other.

It is similarly inappropriate for YouTube to work to discourage adults from viewing the video and thus learning about what our money to Israel funds.

While YouTube, a Google subsidiary, is a private company, its dominance of the video hosting market confers certain responsibilities of fairness on it.

We ask that people who oppose censorship and believe that Americans need to learn facts about this urgent issue tell YouTube to remove its prohibition against students viewing the video, and remove its damaging warning screen.

Please sign this petition and share it widely.

Please also share our blog post of the video and our Facebook post of it as widely as possible.

July 8, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Video | , , , , | 2 Comments

Russia, China keep the ‘dragon in the fog’

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | July 8, 2020

Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a phone conversation today with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that Beijing will “continue to work” with Moscow in “firmly supporting” each other’s efforts “rejecting external sabotage and intervention” so as to “preserve their respective sovereignty, security and development rights, and well safeguard their shared interests.”

This signifies the consolidation of a new template in the Russian-Chinese alliance, which appeared in the most recent months — mutual support to push back at the covert operations by western intelligence agencies to destabilise the internal situation in the two countries.

An quasi-alliance rooted in dynamic economic partnership — trade touched $110 bn last year — and intensifying cooperation and coordination in the foreign policy arena takes a big leap forward, as the two countries join hands to strengthen their political systems. Beijing’s interest to highlight it speaks for itself.

Xi’s phone call to Putin took place in the backdrop of the Russian constitutional referendum and the law on ensuring security in Hong Kong last week. Prima facie, one metaphor is common to them — the “dragon in the fog”, a Chinese concept to portray a strong player in an incomprehensible space who can strike at his competitors at any moment from an unexpected angle.

The metaphor was recently used by a Russian political analyst Alexey Chesnakov (who previously served as a Kremlin aide) to sum up the quintessence of the Russian referendum, which allows Putin notionally to seek two more six-year terms. As Chesnakov put it, President Putin “wants to remain a ‘dragon in the fog’ until the end of his presidency.”

Chesnakov explained that the sheer prospect of Putin remaining in power beyond 2024 would also send an unmistakable signal to the international community that the Russian leader is confident about remaining at the helm of affairs in his country for at least the next decade.

Coming to the Hong Kong legislation too, the leitmotif is the ‘dragon in the fog’. The new law strengthens China’s national unity and territorial integrity. The four categories of criminal offence outlined in the law are: secession, subversion of state power, terrorist activities and collusion with foreign and external forces to endanger national security. In essence, the legislation will keep western intelligence guessing.

The western legal scholars’ principal argument is that the new law weakens the “one country, two systems” principle. But the paradox here is that while western critics put the accent on the “two-systems” part, Beijing estimates that it is the “one-country” leg that has dramatically weakened in the recent years due to the upheaval in Hong Kong.

Beijing had two options to bring about greater harmony — use of force to pull back the “two systems” concept from racing away or, alternatively, strengthen the “one country” part by providing security underpinnings. Beijing opted for the latter course after a great deal of deliberation.

The crux of the matter is that Beijing wants to keep Hong Kong as the financial hub of Asia, while at the same time strengthening the city’s security and stability. Of course, the interference of the western intelligence agencies — primarily British, Australian and American intelligence — to fuel the protests in Hong Kong formed the context.

Hong Kong has a long history of being the base camp of western intelligence agencies in the Asia-Pacific. Much has been written about the western intelligence agencies’ covert operations out of Hong Kong before, during and after the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests in China.

In the case of Russia, too, western intelligence activities are showing signs of making another determined push for a post-Putin scenario in the Kremlin. The West’s calculation is that if Putin were to step down in 2024, he would very soon become a “lame duck”. Like in Hong Kong, western intelligence has developed extensive networks within Russia through which it is feasible to fuel unrest if political uncertainties coalesce with social and economic grievances. The Russian counter-intelligence is very well aware of this danger.

Putin has outwitted the western game plan to destabilise Russia. The constitutional amendment allows him to seek another two six-year terms and he intends to keep everyone guessing. Keeping the western adversaries guessing is also what the Chinese security law in Hong Kong hopes to achieve.

The western intelligence operating out of the city henceforth comes under direct scrutiny of Beijing. Recruitment of local agents, planning and mounting operations inside China, or inciting unrest in Hong Kong to weaken China — such covert operations become far more difficult and risky for the US, British and Australian intelligence. Interestingly, Xi used the expression “external sabotage and intervention” in his conversation with Putin today.

Beijing and Moscow have voiced strong support for each other’s moves to strengthen national security. On June 2, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said,

“We note that the national referendum on constitutional amendments, a major event in Russia’s political calendar, is going on smoothly. Results released by the Central Elections Commission reflect the Russian people’s choice. As Russia’s friendly neighbour and comprehensive strategic partner of coordination for a new era, China will always respect the development path independently chosen by the Russian people and support Russia’s efforts to realise lasting stability and promote socioeconomic development.

“We stand ready to work together with the Russian side to act on the consensus reached by our heads of state, deepen all-round strategic coordination and mutually-beneficial cooperation in various areas, and bring greater benefits to our two peoples.”

On the same day, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said in Moscow, “We noted the entry into force of the law on ensuring national security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the PRC on July 1, 2020 by the decision of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China.

“In this context, we would like to reaffirm that Russia’s position of principle on the situation in Hong Kong remains unchanged. We respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the PRC and consider all issues pertaining to Hong Kong to be China’s domestic affair. We are against any attempts by external forces to interfere in relations between the central government and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the PRC.”

Cooperation between the Russian and Chinese security agencies in the realm of internal security can only stem from a high level of mutual understanding at the highest level. Significantly, on July 4, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov poured cold water on President Trump’s invitation to Putin to attend a G7 summit in the US, calling it a “flawed” idea.

Moscow has any number of legitimate reasons to distance itself from Trump’s invite, but what Ryabkov chose was very telling. He said, “The idea of the so-called expanded G7 summit is flawed, because it is unclear to us how the authors of that initiative plan to consider the Chinese factor. Without China, it is just impossible to discuss certain issues in the modern world.”

In effect, Rybakov thwarted Washington’s move to isolate China. Trump’s advisors were naive to estimate that Moscow could be baited to join its containment strategy against China. Ryabkov publicly administered the Kremlin’s snub.

July 8, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism | , , | 1 Comment

China says will join arms control talks if US reduces nuclear arsenal

Press TV – July 8, 2020

China says it would be happy to participate in negotiations on arms control with the United States if Washington was willing to reduce its nuclear arsenal to the same level as Beijing.

“I can assure you that if the US says that they are ready to come down to the Chinese [nuclear arsenal] level, China would be happy to participate the next day,” Fu Cong, director general of the Arms Control Department at the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said in a news conference in Beijing on Wednesday.

“But actually, we know that that’s not going to happen. We know the US policy. And we are more realistic, frankly speaking,” Fu added.

Approximately 91 percent of all nuclear warheads are owned by the United States and Russia, each having around 4,000 in their military stockpiles.

It is estimated that China has a stockpile of around 320 nuclear warheads.

Fu said Beijing had no interest in joining trilateral negotiations that involve both the US and Russia.

The US has been calling on China to join trilateral negotiations to extend a flagship nuclear arms treaty between Washington and Moscow that is due to expire in February next year.

China has refused to participate in the US-Russia talks but said it would take part in international nuclear disarmament efforts.

The negotiations in question were on the replacement of New START, a nuclear arms treaty between the US and Russia that has nothing to do with China. By inviting China and anticipating its refusal to participate, Washington had been planning to portray the Chinese government as reluctant to take part in any arms control treaty.

Washington itself, meanwhile, has unilaterally withdrawn from treaty after treaty under US President Donald Trump.

July 8, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Lithuania’s Television Commission Bans Broadcasting of Five RT Channels

Sputnik – 08.07.2020

The Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission (LRTK) has banned the broadcasting of five RT channels in the country, following the example of neighbouring Latvia, commission chairman Mantas Martisius said on Wednesday.

“Yes, we can confirm this. The decision will come into force after being published on the LRTK website,” Martisius said.

The ban is applicable to RT, RT HD, RT Spanish, RT Documentary HD and RT Documentary, and will go into effect on Thursday, LRTK chairman explained.

Last week, Latvia banned the broadcasting of seven RT channels (namely RT, RT HD, RT Arabic, RT Spanish, RT Documentary HD, RT Documentary, RT TV), saying they are all owned by Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency Director-General Dmitry Kiselev, who is under EU sanctions. Notably, Rossiya Segodnya and RT are two different legal entities, RT is not chaired by Kiselev, and RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan is not under any EU sanctions.

The Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, has slammed Latvia’s decision to ban seven RT channels as a disgraceful and illegal move.

Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said on Tuesday that the government was mulling the possibility to ban RT broadcasting in the country.

July 8, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

Iran and Syria sign agreement to boost military, security cooperation

Press TV – July 8, 2020

Iran will boost Syria’s air defenses, as part of a wider military security agreement between the two countries.

“We will strengthen Syria’s air defense systems within the framework of strengthening military cooperation between the two countries,” Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri said on Wednesday after signing a “comprehensive” agreement with Syrian Defense Minister Ali Abdullah Ayoub in Damascus to boost military and defense cooperation.

The agreement provides for the expansion of military and security cooperation and the continuation of coordination between the Armed Forces of the two countries.

Speaking after signing the agreement at the headquarters of the General Command of the Syrian Army and Armed Forces, the top Iranian commander said the signed deal “increases our will to work together in the face of US pressure.”

“The people and countries of the region do not welcome the presence of the United States, and our response to the American prattling will continue,” Baqeri added.

The Iranian commander said the military-security agreement also envisages boosting the Syrian air defenses.

On the Turkish military presence on Syrian soil, the Iranian commander said that Turkey is dragging its feet regarding the implementation of its commitments under the Astana agreements on the withdrawal of terrorist groups from Syria.

He said that Turkey must realize that the solution to any of its security problems is through negotiation with the Syrian side, and not through military deployment in the Arab country.

Ayoub, for his part, lauded Damascus-Tehran relations.

“If the American administrations had been able to subjugate Syria, Iran and the axis of resistance, they would not have hesitated for a moment,” the Lebanese al-Mayadeen television channel quoted the Syrian minister as saying.

He described Israel as a “powerful partner” of the US in the war against Syria, adding that terrorist groups constituted part of the Israeli aggression.

He also lambasted the so-called Caesar sanctions imposed by the US against his country, saying Syria will counter the bans barring the provision of foodstuff and medicine to its people.

He stressed that Syria that has maintained its government structure since 2011 and will undoubtedly emerge victorious out of the war.

The two sides also underlined the need for the withdrawal of foreign forces who have been “illegally” deployed to the Arab country in violation of international law and said the forces are the main obstacle to the complete cleansing of armed terrorist groups in some parts of Syria.

The heads of the senior military delegations of Iran and Syria also stressed that the agreement was the result of years of military, security and technical coordination and cooperation in various areas of joint fight against terrorism.

At the end of the talks, a joint statement was also issued by the high-ranking military delegations of the two countries, which said a continued battle against Takfiri terrorism supported by some regional and international powers is among the goals of the agreement.

They also stressed in the statement that the comprehensive military agreement was signed to implement the directives of the political and military leaders of the two countries to enhance their defense capabilities and promote self-reliance against any possible foreign aggression.

Iran and Syria have signed different military and defense cooperation over the past years.

Iran began providing Syria with advisory military assistance after numerous countries, at the head of them the US and its Western and regional allies, started funding and arming militants and terrorists with the aim of deposing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

Despite initially losing considerable expanses of territory to Daesh and other terror outfits, the country, however, rallied with the help of Iran and Russia, another Damascus’ ally, and reversed the balance in favor of itself on the battleground.

July 8, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Report finds UK enabled ‘unlawful’ Saudi-led naval blockade of Yemen, as London resumes arms sales to Riyadh

RT | July 8, 2020

The United Kingdom has been providing naval training to members of the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen, skills which may have been used to impose a widely condemned embargo on the war-torn country, according to a new report.

The Royal Navy is instructing naval personnel from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Declassified UK has uncovered, even as the Gulf states continue to impose a devastating sea blockade on Yemen, resulting in millions of civilians living on the brink of starvation.

In September 2015, a UAE naval officer attended a four-week training course in southern England – just months after the Saudi-led coalition began its embargo on Yemen and bombed the port of Hodeidah, destroying warehouses, cranes and other infrastructure used to unload and store badly needed humanitarian supplies. The British program included instruction in ‘counter-smuggling’ and ‘board and search’.

Six months later, according to Declassified UK, Royal Navy officers spent a week in Saudi Arabia drilling 15 sailors on how to “board and search” vessels in “international waters or territorial seas.” The Saudi personnel were taught “high-risk search techniques” as well as detention procedures. Between September 2016 and March 2017, the UK also provided Saudi and UAE forces with instruction on protecting an Exclusive Economic Zone – the area off the coast of a country containing its exclusive fishing and other resource-gathering rights. The course was followed by training exercises with the Saudi Navy.

The relationship between the Royal Navy and the Saudi-led coalition continued even as the situation in Yemen rapidly deteriorated, the investigative report revealed. In 2019, the UAE navy received instruction on how to “board and search” vessels. The same year, nine Saudis, as well as personnel from Bahrain and the UAE, attended the Royal Navy’s officer academy at Dartmouth. Meanwhile, a number of commandos from the UAE were given instruction in amphibious operations during a 60-week Royal Marines course.

The training reportedly continues to the present day. According to the UK military watchdog, the Royal Navy has five sailors, including a lieutenant commander, on loan to the Saudi Navy. Three of the individuals are listed as instructors, suggesting that they could possibly be providing regular training to Saudi personnel. Some instruction coming from the UK has been provided by the private sector; BAE Systems, Britain’s largest arms firm, has a contract to train the Saudi navy.

The Saudi-led blockade, part of the coalition’s campaign against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, has been denounced by the international community as illegal. The UN’s special rapporteur on human rights and sanctions, Idriss Jazairy, warned that the embargo was “paralyzing a nation” and amounted to an “unlawful unilateral coercive measure under international law.” Millions of Yemenis now face starvation due in part to the sea blockade.

The humanitarian catastrophe has not deterred London from increasing its involvement in the conflict. On Tuesday, International Trade Secretary Liz Truss confirmed that the UK will resume arms sales to Saudi Arabia. The UK temporarily halted weapons deliveries to Riyadh after a court ruling in June 2019 found that the practice was unlawful. The British government now claims that, although there is cause for concern, “possible” war crimes carried out by the Saudi-led forces are only “isolated incidents.”

July 8, 2020 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment