Aletho News


Facebook Hires an Israeli Censor

Another attack on free speech by the Jewish State

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • September 1, 2020

Israel’s defenders both in the political realm and in the media have long used every weapon available to stifle any criticism of Israeli racism and its oppression of the Palestinians. In particular, the use of “anti-Semitism” as something like a tactical discussion stopper in deliberations about the Middle East has long been a staple of both American and European politics. It is freely employed to end all dispute while also condemning those accused of the crime to being somehow outside the pale, monsters who are consigned forever to derision and obscurity. But the Israelis and, to be sure, many diaspora Jews know exactly how the expression has been weaponized. Former Israeli Minister Shulamit Aloni explained how it is done “Anti-Semitic”…”its a trick, we always use it.”

If one were to read the U.S. mainstream media, reflective as it nearly always is of a certain institutional Jewish viewpoint, one would think that there has been a dramatic increase in anti-Semitism worldwide, but that claim is incorrect. What has been taking place is not hatred of Jews but rather a confluence of two factors. First is the undeniable fact that Israel has been behaving particularly badly, even by its admittedly low standards. Its slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza has been unusually observable in spite of media attempts to avoid mentioning it, plus its support of terrorists in Syria and attacks on that country have also raised questions about the intentions of the kleptocratic regime in Tel Aviv, which is currently pushing hard for an attack on Iran and appears to have the Trump administration fully on board. That all means that the perception of Israel as an exclusively Jewish state, inevitably raises questions about the behavior of the international Jewish community that has done so much to shape the favorable narrative, but it does not necessarily imply hatred of the Jewish ethnicity or religion.

Second, the alleged increase in anti-Semitic incidents is also largely fueled by how those incidents are defined. Israel and its friends have worked hard to broaden the parameters of the discussion, making any criticism of Israel or its activities either a hate crime or ipso facto an anti-Semitic incident. The U.S. State Department’s working definition of anti-Semitism now includes “… the targeting of the state of Israel” and it warns that anti-Semitism is a criminal offense. Recent legislation in Washington and also in Europe has criminalized hitherto legal and non-violent efforts to pressure Israel regarding its inhumanity vis-à-vis the Palestinians. Legitimate criticism of Israel thereby becomes both anti-Semitism and criminal, increasing the count of so-called anti-Semitic incidents. That means that the numbers inevitably go up, providing fodder to validate a repressive response.

One might add that Hollywood, the mainstream media and academia have contributed to the allegations regarding surging anti-Semitism, relentlessly unleashing a torrent of material rooting out alleged anti-Semites and so-called holocaust deniers, while simultaneously heaping praise on Israel and its achievements. All of the media exposure of so-called anti-Semitism has a political objective, whether intended or not, which is to insulate Israel itself from any criticism and to create for all Jews the status of perpetual victimhood which permits many in the diaspora to unflinchingly support a foreign country against the interests of the nations where they were born, raised and made their fortunes.

Two Muslim congresswomen, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, have dared to overtly challenge the reality that Jewish power is greatly disproportionate in Washington. Tlaib said that the sponsors of legislation intended to benefit Israel by limiting free speech “… forgot what country they represent. This is the U.S. where boycotting is a right and part of our historical fight for freedom and equality. Maybe a refresher on our U.S. Constitution is in order, then get back to opening up our government instead of taking our rights away.”

Indeed, Congressional Israel boosters have long since forgotten that they are supposed to uphold the Constitution of the United States while also promoting the interests of their constituents, not those of a country seven thousand miles away. Glenn Greenwald of the Intercept responded to the Tlaib comment with a tweet “It’s stunning how much time US political leaders spend defending a foreign nation even if it means attacking free speech rights of Americans.” Ilhan Omar then tweeted her own pithy rejoinder to Greenwald: “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby!” which was in reference to the Founder Benjamin Franklin’s portrait on hundred-dollar bills. Her comment was almost immediately interpreted as meaning that she was accusing leading politicians of being bought by the Israel Lobby, which is at least in some cases basically true.

There followed a manufactured outrage, with political leaders from both parties latching on to a media frenzy to score points against each other. Even though it is perfectly legitimate for a Congresswoman on the Foreign Affairs Committee to challenge what the Israel Lobby does and where its money comes from, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi complained that Omar’s “use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters” was “deeply offensive.” President Donald Trump, who has admitted that his Mideast policy is intended to serve Israeli rather than U.S. interests, also jumped in, saying “I think she should either resign from congress or she should certainly resign from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.”

Omar’s comments preceded the recent wave of pro-Israel censorship in news stories, on social media and also within information “search” services on the internet. If anything, the effort to broaden the censorship of language and expressions relating to Israel and the activities of the Israel Lobby both in the United States and worldwide has increased. News/information sites like Yahoo have stopped allowing comments on their articles in part because the comments often contradicted their reporting on the Middle East and also on other issues. Google searches are skewed to bury results that are particularly critical of the Jewish state.

As it is an election year and both parties are seeking tens of millions of dollars from Israel-tied Jewish donors like Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban, the effort to make any criticism of Israel hate speech is intensifying. Two weeks ago “… more than 120 organizations sent a letter to the social media giant [Facebook], urging it to ‘fully adopt’ the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism as the ‘cornerstone of Facebook’s hate speech policy regarding antisemitism.’ This definition, which was adopted by the IHRA in 2016 and has been promoted to governments worldwide, includes several examples of what it describes as ‘contemporary’ antisemitism—including ‘denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor” and “applying double standards’ to Israel—that can be interpreted to define much criticism of Israel, Israeli policies, or Zionism as antisemitism.”

Facebook for its part has hired Emi Palmor, former director-general of Israel’s justice ministry, as a member of its new oversight board which will censor content on the site. The company’s chief operations officer Sheryl Sandberg has also declared that FB is using “… the IHRA definition ‘in informing [its] own approach and definitions,’ that its new policy ‘draws on the spirit—and the text—of the IHRA,’ and that under Facebook’s policy, ‘Jews and Israelis are treated as “protected characteristics.’”

Protected characteristics has meant in practice that criticism of the activities of either Israelis or Jewish groups will not be acceptable on the site. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Facebook is also now censoring any material that might lead to legitimate criticism of the Jewish state and its policies. On August 18th the site removed a picture and article showing a road filled with dead Palestinian-owned sheep that were reportedly killed by an Israeli settler driver. The Israeli deliberately ran over the animals with his car as part of a campaign to destroy the livelihoods of Palestinian farmers on the West Bank.

When the Israel Lobby complains that portraying Israel negatively is thinly veiled anti-Semitism, one might well respond that terrible things are being done in the Middle East in the name of Jews and of Israel. Silencing critics by accusing them of a hate crime is little more than a perversion of justice to serve the demands of a powerful and wealthy minority as well as a denial of constitutional rights for all Americans. When confronted by accusations of “anti-Semitism”, just recall what the Israeli minister admitted: “It’s a trick, we always use it.”

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is

August 31, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | 6 Comments

US foreign policy elite wants Biden & detests Trump because President failed to launch new NATO missions

By George Szamuely | RT | August 31, 2020

One reason for the extraordinary hostility of the foreign policy insiders’ brigade toward President Trump is that he has not wasted his time conjuring up new missions to justify NATO’s continued existence.

Instead, he has promised to withdraw 12,000 US troops from Germany and, to add insult to injury, he has demanded that NATO member states increase their financial contributions toward the upkeep of the military alliance ostensibly there to “protect” them.

This is sacrilege to a foreign policy elite that have spent the last 70 years worshipping at the altar of NATO.

“US troops aren’t stationed around the world as traffic cops or welfare caseworkers—they’re restraining the expansionary aims of the world’s worst regimes, chiefly China and Russia,” Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., fumed.

Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice expressed alarm about the “continued erosion of confidence in our leadership within NATO, and more efforts that call into question our commitment, and more signals to the authoritarians within NATO and Russia itself that this whole institution is vulnerable.”

Trump, according to Nicholas Burns, former US ambassador to NATO and current adviser to Joe Biden, has cast America’s military allies primarily as a drain on the US Treasury, and he has aggressively criticized Washington’s true friends in Europe—democratic leaders such as France’s President Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel—even as he treats Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Kim Jong Un, and other ‘authoritarians’ around the world with unusual tact.

Seventy former Republican national security officials recently issued a statement accusing Trump of having “disgraced America’s global reputation and undermined our nation’s moral and diplomatic influence.” And—horror of horrors!—Trump “has called NATO ‘obsolete.’ ”

Not only has Trump failed to spell out a new mission for NATO, the one mission of sorts he has come up with—extraction of more funds from NATO member-states—is calculated to cause mutual recriminations within the alliance. Trump regularly boasts that he has cajoled NATO to cough up an additional $130 billion a year “and it’s going to be $400 billion,” he recently warned.

To the denizens of Washington’s foreign policy think-tanks, pressuring NATO member states to come up with more money is a dangerous business. It could have the undesirable effect of forcing them to wonder whether devoting scarce resources to NATO—particularly now following the Covid economic downturn—is a sound investment.

NATO desperate to find reasons to justify its existence 

It is no secret that ever since the fall of the Soviet Union and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, NATO has been desperately searching for a reason to justify its existence. The alliance has expanded its membership from 16 to 30 in 20 years, while failing to put forward a convincing reason, other than inertia, for staying in business.

To be sure, there were and are threats—cybersecurity, mass migration, human trafficking, narcotics, nuclear proliferation, international terrorism—but it was never clear how a narrowly-focused military alliance would be able to address them unilaterally. NATO has thus been forced to engage in some vigorous head-scratching.

During the 1990s, we had the “humanitarian intervention” craze. This led to the NATO bombing of Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1994 and 1995 and, more horrifically, to the bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999. Neither operation achieved anything that could not have been achieved years earlier—and without the use of force.

In 2001, NATO got in on the Global War on Terror. After 9/11 NATO, for the first time in its history, invoked Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, declaring that the terrorist attack on the US was an attack against every NATO member.

When the United States retaliated by invading Afghanistan in October 2001, NATO was on hand to assist. In December, it established something called the International Security Assistance Force, the nebulous mission of which was to “assist the Afghan Government in exercising and extending its authority and influence across the country, paving the way for reconstruction and effective governance.”

Next came Iraq. Despite the vocal opposition of France and Germany to the 2003 invasion, NATO, in no time got involved. In 2004, it established NATO Training Mission-Iraq, the aim of which was supposedly to “assist in the development of Iraqi security forces training structures and institutions so that Iraq can build an effective and sustainable capability that addresses the needs of the nation.” One of its tasks was to train the Iraqi police. However, as WikiLeaks’ Iraq War Logs disclosure revealed, Iraq’s finely-trained police conducted horrific torture on detainees. Neither NATO’s Afghanistan nor its Iraqi mission covered itself in glory.

With the Democrats returning to power in Washington in 2009, NATO was back in the “humanitarian intervention” business. Its bombing of Libya in 2011 destroyed government, law and public order, institutions that before the intervention had ensured that the people of Libya were able to go about their daily lives free from the fear of death, not to mention the spectacle of slave markets.

The “humanitarian intervention” in Libya having ended in debacle and war crimes (including the execution of Muammar Gaddafi) in which NATO was clearly involved, it was back to the old Cold War mission of “containment.”

Following the February 21, 2014, coup in Kiev and the reincorporation of Crimea into Russia, NATO’s new mission was very much like its old. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen promised that: “We will have more planes in the air, more ships on the water, and more readiness on the land. For example, air policing aircraft will fly more sorties over the Baltic region. Allied ships will deploy to the Baltic Sea, the Eastern Mediterranean and elsewhere.”

Six years on, it’s clear that there simply aren’t enough armed conflicts in the world to justify the continued existence, not to mention huge expense, of such a gargantuan military organization. NATO has therefore resorted to seizing on the latest fashionable social and cultural issues to prove how up-to-date it is.

More NATO as solution to Climate change?

For example, NATO has added “climate change” to its repertoire. NATO’s 2010 Strategic Concept declared that “Key environmental and resource constraints, including health risks, climate change, water scarcity and increasing energy needs will further shape the future security environment in areas of concern to NATO and have the potential to significantly affect NATO planning and operations.”

One would have thought that the most effective way NATO could contribute to minimizing global warming would be to cut back on armaments, military exercises and naval and air patrols. But no, apparently the solution to “climate change” is more NATO, not less.

Then came the issue gender equality. “Achieving gender equality is our collective task. And NATO is doing its part,” said Mari Skåre, the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security, in 2013. In March 2016, on International Women’s Day, NATO held a so-called “Barbershop Conference” on gender equality. Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg took the opportunity to declare that gender equality was a frightfully important issue for the alliance because “NATO is a values-based organization and none of its fundamental values—individual liberties, democracy, human rights and the rule of law—work without equality….We learned in Afghanistan and in the Balkans that by integrating gender within our operations, we make a tangible difference to the lives of women and children”.

Definitely a “tangible difference to the lives of women and children”: As a result of NATO’s bombing campaigns in Yugoslavia and Libya, thousands of women and children lost their lives. In Libya, for example, NATO helped deliver perhaps thousands of women into the hands of ISIS.

This is how Human Rights Watch in 2017 described the record of ISIS rule in Libya:

“In the first half of 2016, fighters loyal to ISIS controlled the central coastal town of Sirte and subjected residents to a rigid interpretation of Sharia law that included public floggings, amputation of limbs, and public lynchings, often leaving the victims’ corpses on display.”

Trump’s failure to articulate a new mission for NATO, combined with his desire to extract more and more funds from the 29 member nations, puts the military alliance in a very vulnerable position. With no new mission and no obvious threats to Europe on the horizon—or at least none that NATO seems capable of addressing—its member states, sooner or later, are bound to question the value of belonging to an organization, with such high membership fees and so few benefits. No wonder the foreign-policy cognoscenti are fulminating and praying for a Biden presidency.

One of the reasons the foreign policy crowd detests Trump is that he hasn’t wasted his time trying to invent some “new mission” for NATO. Where Trump differs from his predecessors is that he hasn’t bothered trying to invent some new reason for NATO’s continued existence: Clinton had Yugoslavia, Bush Afghanistan & Iraq, Obama Libya. Trump hasn’t identified any “new mission” for NATO. Maybe because there isn’t one.

George Szamuely is a senior research fellow at Global Policy Institute (London) and author of Bombs for Peace: NATO’s Humanitarian War on Yugoslavia. Follow him on Twitter @GeorgeSzamuely

August 31, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

U.S. Meddling in Chile’s 1964 Presidential Election

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | August 31, 2020

Given the U.S. government’s meddling in Chile’s 1964 presidential election, I can’t help but wonder whether that has contributed to the major obsession that U.S. officials have with supposed Russian meddling in U.S. presidential elections. When one does bad things to others, oftentimes this causes the malefactor to think that others are doing the same thing to him.

Americans didn’t learn about the full extent of the CIA’s meddling in the 1964 election until 2004, when U.S. officials decided to declassify records relating to what they had done.

Why that 40-year period of secrecy? Why, “national security” course. If the American people had found out what the CIA had done before that, the United States might have fallen into the ocean or maybe even been taken over by communists, Muslims, illegal immigrants, or drug dealers.

The purpose of the CIA’s intervention was to help presidential candidate Eduardo Frei defeat his opponent Salvador Allende, a Chilean physician.

Why the preoccupation with defeating Allende? Because Allende was more than just a doctor. He was also an avowed socialist. A democratically elected president with socialist proclivities was considered a grave threat to U.S. “national security.”

Keep in mind, after all, that this was 1964, during the period when the U.S. national-security establishment was convinced that the communists were coming to get us. The idea was that ever since the end of World War II, there supposedly existed a vast, worldwide communist conspiracy to take over the world that was supposedly based in Moscow, Russia. (Yes, that Russia!) If Allende were to be democratically elected president, that could accelerate, the notion went, the communist conquest of the United States, especially given the continued existence of the communist regime in Cuba.

In the process of helping Frei win the election, the CIA became a major factor in the election, albeit secretly and surreptitiously. According to an article on the meddling on the website of the National Security Archive,

[C]overt support for Frei’s Christian Democrats began in April 1962, at the suggestion of Kennedy aide Richard Goodwin and the U.S. Ambassador to Chile, with a series of secret payments on “a non-attributable basis”–meaning that the source of the funds was kept a secret from Frei and his party officials. In preparation for the 1964 campaign, in December 1963 the CIA’s Western Hemisphere Division proposed a concrete “political action program in Chile” to bolster the Christian Democrats chances of winning. The CIA’s Chief of Western Hemisphere Division, J.C. King, recommended that funds for the campaign “be provided in a fashion causing Frei to infer United States origin of funds and yet permitting plausible denial,” so that the CIA could “achieve a measure of influence over [the] Christian Democratic Party.”

The documents record that on March 26, 1964, Frei’s campaign managers met with U.S. embassy officials to go over their campaign budget of $1.5 million for which the party only had $500,000. A memorandum recording the meeting noted that “The Chileans suggested that the U.S. government make up this difference which amounts to one million dollars for the period from now to election time.” The “Special Group” which approved covert actions met on April 2 in the White House situation room and authorized CIA financing of the campaign and a compromise with the CIA in which the U.S. source of the secret funding “would be inferred” but with “no evidence of proof.”

On May 14, the Special Group approved an increase in covert spending to $1.25 million to allow the Christian Democrats to “campaign at its full potential.” On July 23, the Johnson administration approved another $500,000 for Frei to “maintain the pace and rhythm of his campaign effort.”

The CIA ended up spending $2.6 million to underwrite Frei’s campaign. Another $3 million was spent on an anti-Allende propaganda campaign.

Frei won  the election. It was also a grand victory for the CIA.

Six years later, however, the U.S. government’s meddling in the 1970 Chilean presidential election ended up in failure. This time, Allende ended up winning the election. That then motivated the CIA to engage in such sordid, dark-side practices as bribery, kidnapping, assassination, transportation strikes, and, finally, a military coup that succeeded in ousting Allende from office. Let’s just hope that Russia doesn’t go that far.

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education.

August 31, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

China no longer interested in expensive Saudi oil: Report

Press TV – August 31, 2020

China has significantly reduced its imports of crude oil from Saudi Arabia in recent months, shows a report, adding that the Saudis are no longer among the top suppliers of crude to China.

The analytic report published by Oilprice shows that Chinese buyers of oil, including state-oil companies and independent refiners, imported a total 1.26 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil from Saudi Arabia in July, a record low that have come mainly as a result of high benchmark prices set by Persian Gulf Arab producers for orders placed in April.

For two years, Saudi Arabia has been either the number-one or number-two oil supplier to China, the world’s top oil importer.

However, a slump in global oil prices that began in March and continued into April, mainly a result of a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia and the subsequent decline in demand for oil because of the coronavirus pandemic, pushed many Chinese buyers to look for ultra-cheap oil.

That caused imports into China from America to surge at the expense of Saudi Arabia. In fact, imports from the United States and Brazil increased in July, showing that Chinese preferred supplies that took almost 45 days to reach the country from America over the cargoes on the shorter route between the Middle East and China.

The report predicted that Saudis would have to wait for months to be able to capture their previous share of the Chinese market. It cited economic data as showing that supply of crude from the US and Brazil into China would continue to be strong in August and even in September as the Chinese buyers have continued to be price-conscious earlier this month when they chartered tankers for future deliveries.

August 31, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , , | 3 Comments

Turkish-backed militants steal electricity poles, transmission towers in Syria’s Hasakah: SANA

Press TV – August 31, 2020

Turkish-backed Takfiri militants have stolen electricity poles and transmission towers in the northern sector of Syria’s northeastern province of Hasakah, as they continue to commit various crimes against local populations.

Syria’s official news agency SANA, citing local sources, reported on Monday that the militants have dismantled utility poles as well as pylons in the villages of Matleh, Lazqa and Tal Sakhir in the eastern countryside of the key border town of Ra’s al-Ayn, and transported them to their warehouses in order to sell them to Turkish scrap metal merchants.

The development came only a day after Turkish-sponsored militants stole agricultural machinery, power generators and submersible pumps from farmers in Abah village, which lies southwest of Ra’s al-Ayn.

On October 9, 2019, Turkish forces and Ankara-backed militants launched a long-threatened cross-border invasion of northeastern Syria in a declared attempt to push Kurdish militants affiliated with the so-called People’s Protection Units (YPG) away from border areas.

Ankara views the YPG, which is supported by the White House, as a terrorist organization tied to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region in Turkey since 1984.

Raqqah homeowners fight against illegal confiscation of their properties

Elsewhere in the northwestern Syrian city of Raqqah, homeowners are battling the illegal confiscation of their properties by US-sponsored militants affiliated with the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Wael, a local man who fled the city for Homs in 2014 when Daesh Takfiri terrorist group took over Raqqah as its de facto Syrian capital and ruled it with an iron fist under a self-proclaimed caliphate, told London-based online news outlet Middle East Eye that he cannot work out why the house he had lived in for 30 years has now been confiscated by SDF officials.

“I asked some of my neighbors to ask the authorities to give me my house back, but their response was: ‘Why does he live in Homs? Tell him to come, and we can protect him from Daesh’,” he said.

“The ironic thing is that the family who now live in my house is the family of one of SDF’s judges. So if the people who are supposed to be responsible for justice act like this, what hope do we have from the rest of those in power?” the 50-year-old Christian wondered.

Maher, a neighbor who has been trying to help Wael get back his house, said the local population continues to suffer under the SDF’s control.

“The SDF has started to make the same mistakes that Daesh made before them. For example, in our neighborhood alone, SDF has seized 25 out of 64 civilians’ apartments,” he stressed.

Every armed group that takes control of Raqqah is worse than the one before it, Maher said, adding that it was the civilians who bore the greatest brunt of the war.

“SDF started confiscating civilians’ houses about a year and a half ago. These are the same violations that Daesh and the [so-called] Free Syrian Army had carried out in the past,” the father of three noted.

Security conditions are reportedly deteriorating in SDF-controlled areas in Hasakah, Dayr al-Zawr and Raqqah provinces of Syria amid ongoing raids and arrests of civilians by the militants.

Local Syrians complain that the SDF’s constant raids and arrest campaigns have generated a state of frustration and instability, severely affecting their businesses and livelihood.

Residents accuse the US-sponsored militants of stealing crude oil and refusing to spend money on service sectors.

Local councils affiliated with the SDF have also been accused of financial corruption.

August 31, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Russiagate without end: US appeals court REVERSES earlier decision to end Flynn criminal case

RT | August 31, 2020

A full-bench US federal appeals court has reversed an earlier decision to dismiss the ‘Russiagate’ case against former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, returning it to the judge who refused to let the charges be dropped.

In a 8-2 ruling on Monday, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Judge Emmet Sullivan, and sent the case back to him for review. Sullivan had been ordered by a three-judge panel in June to drop the case against Flynn immediately, but hired an attorney and asked for an en banc hearing instead.

Flynn’s attorney Sidney Powell said the split was “as expected” based on the tone of the oral arguments, pointing to a partisan divide on the bench, and added it was a “disturbing blow to the rule of law.”

The former top lawyer for the Barack Obama administration, Neal Katyal, hailed the decision as “an important step in defending the rule of law” and argued the case should not be dismissed because Flynn had pleaded guilty.

Flynn had indeed pleaded guilty to one charge of lying to the FBI, but Powell moved to dismiss the charges due to the failure of his previous attorneys – a law firm with ties to the Democrats – and the government to disclose evidence that could set him free. After producing documents revealing that the FBI set out to entrap Flynn, had no valid cause to interview him in the first place, and the prosecutors improperly extorted him into a plea by threatening to charge his son, the Justice Department moved to drop all charges.

Sullivan had other ideas, however. In a highly unusual move, he appointed a retired judge – who had just written a diatribe about the case in the Washington Post – to be amicus curiae and argue the case should not be dropped. It was at this point that Powell took the case to the appeals court, citing Fokker, a recent Supreme Court precedent that Sullivan was violating.

Ignoring the fact that Sullivan had appointed the amicus and sought to prolong the case after the DOJ and the appeals court both told him to drop it, the en banc panel argued the proper procedure means he needs to make the decision before it can be appealed.

One of the judges, Thomas Griffith, actually argued in a concurring opinion that it would be “highly unusual” for Sullivan not to dismiss the charges, given the executive branch’s constitutional prerogatives and his “limited discretion” when it came to the relevant federal procedure, but said that an order to drop the case is not “appropriate in this case at this time” because it’s up to Sullivan to make the call first.

The court likewise rejected Powell’s motion to reassign a case to a different judge.

Conservatives frustrated by the neverending legal saga have blasted the appeals court’s decision as disgraceful. “The Mike Flynn case is an embarrassing stain on this country and its ‘judges’,”tweeted TV commentator Dan Bongino. “We don’t have judges anymore, only corrupted politicians in black robes.”

While Flynn was not the first Trump adviser to be charged by special counsel Robert Mueller’s ‘Russiagate’ probe, he was the first White House official pressured to resign over it, less than two weeks into the job.

With Mueller failing to find any evidence of “collusion” between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia, Democrats have latched onto Flynn’s case as proof of their ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy theory. The latest argument is that the effort to drop the charges against Flynn is politically motivated and proof of Attorney General Bill Barr’s “corruption.”

Barr is currently overseeing a probe by US attorney John Durham into the FBI’s handling of the investigation against Trump during and after the 2016 election, with the evidence disclosed during the Flynn proceedings strongly implicating not just the senior FBI leadership but senior Obama administration figures as well.

August 31, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

Palestinian student Nizar Issa Qaddoumi forcibly kidnapped by Israeli occupation forces

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network | August 31, 2020

Israeli occupation forces abducted Nizar Issa Qaddoumi, 26, on the evening of Monday, 31 August, 2020, as he worked at the Al-Natour gas station in Tulkarem. Nizar, a student at Kadoorie – Palestine Technical University, is the latest Palestinian student to be seized by occupation forces in a violent kidnapping.

In the video below, Israeli occupation forces, driving a civilian van and wearing civilian clothes, drive into the gas station. When Nizar approaches them for service, they spring out of the van, attacking, grabbing and beating him over the head while brandishing handguns, presumably threatening Nizar’s Palestinian coworkers. They force Nizar into the back of the van and drive off toward an unknown location – another example of the daily injustices and violence imposed on Palestinian life by Israeli colonialism.

There are currently over 200 Palestinian university students in Israeli prisons, and Israeli occupation forces routinely invade Palestinian university campuses and students’ homes, interrogating them and imprisoning them – either in administrative detention without charge or trial, or by dragging these civilian students before military courts for participating in student activities like campaigns, book fairs and demonstrations on campus.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network urges student organizations and people of conscience around the world to organize for the freedom of Palestinian student prisoners – and all Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli jails by putting pressure on governments to end their support for the Israeli occupation regime and escalating the boycott of Israel and the corporations that profit from colonialism, such as HP and G4S.

August 31, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 1 Comment

UN: Israel Must Immediately Allow Entry of Fuel, Other Essential Items into Gaza

Palestine Chronicle | August 31, 2020

United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator Jamie McGoldrick today called on Israel to immediately allow entry of fuel and other essential goods into the besieged Gaza Strip to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe.

“The deterioration witnessed in recent weeks in the Gaza Strip is of grave concern,” he said in a statement, explaining that with an escalation of hostilities in the area, “Israel has limited the transfer of certain goods into the blockaded coastal enclave, reduced the permissible fishing area and prevented fuel deliveries, including the UN-facilitated fuel for Gaza’s sole Power Plant. As a result, the Gaza Power Plant ceased operations on 18 August, sharply reducing electricity provision to nearly 2 million Palestinians,” said the UN official.

“In addition, and marking a significant deterioration in the health situation, on 24 August, the first cases of COVID-19 outside the quarantine facilities were confirmed. Thus far, there are 280 known active cases, 243 of which are from community transmission.”

He added: “At present, people have access to rolling electricity supply for a maximum of four hours per day, a difficult situation at any point, but especially serious given efforts to contain the outbreak of COVID-19. The situation is hindering the provision of services in the quarantine facilities and the capacity of the health system to cope with the increased demands, such as the ability to detect new COVID-19 cases. Power outages in hospitals are having serious repercussions, with patients in intensive care, chronic and emergency cases particularly vulnerable.

“The reduction in electricity supply is also severely undermining other critical infrastructure, including the operations of all water wells, sewage pumping stations, wastewater treatment plants, and some desalination plants. The supply of clean water and wastewater treatment is impacted. There is now a high risk of sewage flooding populated areas, increased pollution into the Mediterranean Sea and along the coast, and further pollution to the aquifer.”

McGoldrick warned that following 13 years of the Israeli blockade and a dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, swift action is required to alleviate the humanitarian situation, prevent further deterioration and increase respect for international humanitarian law and international human rights law, calling on Israel “to immediately allow the resumption of fuel into the Gaza Strip, in line with its obligations as an occupying power, to ensure that the basic needs of people are met and to prevent a collapse of basic services.”

In August, Israel has cut fuel imports into Gaza since last week as part of punitive measures over the alleged launch of incendiary balloons from the strip.

Israel has also closed the Karam Abu Salem crossing with Gaza and completely closed the Strip’s fishing zone due to the alleged breach of the security truce.

Gaza, with a population of 2 million, has been under a hermetic Israeli siege since 2006, when the Palestinian group Hamas won the democratic legislative elections in occupied Palestine. Since then, Israel has carried out numerous bombing campaigns and several major wars, that resulted in the death of thousands of people.

August 31, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Lebanon president names Mustapha Adib as new prime minister

Press TV | August 31, 2020

Lebanese President Michel Aoun has named the country’s ambassador to Germany Mustapha Adib as the new prime minister after he secured the support of major political parties.

A majority of lawmakers had to decide on whom to name as premier before Aoun tasked the candidate with forming a government.

According to a Reuters tally of votes cast by lawmakers in official consultations, Adib secured the support of a majority of lawmakers to be designated as the new prime minister.

Adib secured at least 66 votes, or more than half of the 120 MPs currently serving in the Lebanese parliament, after the Christian Free Patriotic Movement announced it had nominated him.

Lebanon’s parliament usually has 128 MPs but eight resigned following the Aug. 4 port explosion.

A relatively unknown 48-year-old diplomat, Adib, a close aide to former premier Najib Mikati, is about to form a government after he secured backing from the country’s politicians.

On Sunday, the Sunni Muslim political figures in Lebanon, including the Future Movement party headed by former premier Sa’ad Hariri, picked Adib to succeed Hassan Diab, who resigned as prime minister following Beirut’s blast.

Under a power-sharing agreement that ended the 1975-1990 civil war in Lebanon, the prime minister must be a Sunni Muslim, the president a Maronite Christian and the parliament speaker a Shia Muslim.

Hariri announced on Monday that he had nominated Adib to the position in formal consultations with Aoun.

Speaking after a meeting with the president, Hariri said the new government should be formed quickly and made up of specialist ministers.

Hezbollah members of Lebanon’s parliament also nominated Adib as the next premier.

Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc “informed President Aoun of its agreement to the nomination of Mustapha Adib and we expressed our readiness for positive cooperation,” the head of its parliamentary bloc, Mohamed Ra’ad, said after a meeting with the president on Monday.

Diab’s government resigned after the devastating explosion at a port in Beirut that killed at least 188 people and wounded thousands.

The blast came amid public anger over the ruling elite’s mismanagement of an economic crisis. The Lebanese pound has continued to plummet against the US dollar, losing more than 60 percent of its value over the last weeks while sources of foreign currency have dried up.

Observers say American sanctions on Lebanon have deteriorated its already struggling economy.

The consultations come as French President Emmanuel Macron is due to return to Lebanon, after his previous visit to the country that followed the blast and sparked outrage among the Lebanese.

Macron, whose country witnessed months-long and nationwide anti-government protests by Yellow Vests over economic injustice in 2018 and 2019, used a provocative colonial tone in his visit, calling for political and economic reforms in Lebanon.

August 31, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | | 1 Comment

Semi-Grand Strategies

Observer R for the Saker Blog | August 31, 2020

Foreign Affairs published an article by Daniel Drezner, Ronald Krebs, and Randall Schweller (“The End of Grand Strategy,” (May/June 2020) that brought forth a rejoinder in opposition by Francis J. Gavin and James B. Steinberg (“Foreign Policy Needs a Road Map,” (July/August 2020) and a reply by Drezner, Krebs, and Schweller in the same issue. After reading both sides of the controversy, one could make a case that the authors of the articles on both sides of the grand strategy debate are correct — or at least partially correct. The first article is on firm ground when pointing out that a grand strategy is probably impossible for the US to arrive at due to the change in the world situation and the fractious nature of American politics. However, the second article is also correct, that leaving strategy up to field officials would hardly ensure any coordinated actions at all and they could end up working at cross purposes.

It might be helpful to step back and leave grand strategy for a moment and talk about “semi-grand” strategy instead. For example, the US has a de facto strategy of containment in dealing with Russia—basically a re-invention of the Cold War against the Soviet Union. This has been going on in some fashion ever since the end of the Soviet Union. Currently it involves Belarus, Ukraine, NATO expansion, Nordstream 2, Georgia, sanctions, and Syria, among other skirmishes. One might say that the Cold War never ended, based on the refusal by the US to dissolve NATO at the same time that the Warsaw Pact came to an end. This is “semi-grand” because the US is now ginning up a de facto containment strategy against China. This one involves the Pivot to Asia, support for Taiwan, the “umbrella” effort in Hong Kong, opposition to the New Silk roads, contesting the South China Sea, sanctions, and the Indo-Pacific effort, which all amount to at least a “semi-grand” also. The reason they are both “semi-grand” is that a grand strategy would have planned how to keep Russia and China from joining forces in response to the dual containment policies of the US. The fractious politics in the US, where one party was more hawkish on Russia (witness RussiaGate) and the other party was more hawkish on China (witness the Trade War), meant that no real discussion or analysis was completed before decisions were made which resulted in trying dual containment of two major powers at the same time. The US is belatedly trying to round up partners to stop China, but having very little success. Even Australia, one of the supposed Quad members of the Indo-Pacific push, just stated its lack of enthusiasm to sign up with the US plan. Looking back almost ten years, there was an interesting attempt to craft a positive and peaceful strategy for relations between the US and China, but it did not get very far (“China US Grand Strategy Proposal,” Thomas P.M. Barnett, John Milligan-Whyte & Dai Min, Foreign Affairs, 2011).

So the two semi-grand strategies have resulted in China and Russia joining forces to oppose the US actions. A grand strategy would have gone for a divide-and-conquer effort or at least taken them on one at a time. As it is, the two countries are working to overcome containment and have a combined advantage in real estate, population, energy, factories, weapons, economy and 5G. An alternative grand strategy would be to harmonize the semi-grands into a plausible overarching concept that might work. So far, the most effort along this line has been in articles hoping to show that both China and Russia have inherent internal defects that will eventually result in their demise. Skeptics could point out that the US also has a slew of internal defects, and that it is a race to see who reaches bottom first. However, a recent statement by some retired US officials indicates a belief that ostracizing Russia was maybe not the best foreign policy maneuver and that a re-thinking is in process (“It’s Time to Rethink Our Russia Policy,” Rose Gottemoeller, et al – signed by 103 former officials, Politico, August 5, 2020). On the other hand, this statement elicited a vigorous rejoinder which opposed any re-thinking (“No, Now Is Not the Time for Another Russia Reset,” David J. Kramer–signed by 33 former officials, Politico, August 11, 2020). These articles illustrate a wide gap in foreign policy thinking within the US expert community.

The pursuit of the Monroe Doctrine could be considered a very early grand strategy, but its recent re-emphasis has had both success and failure. Other previous grand strategies could be considered to be the Opening to China (Nixon & Kissinger) and the Grand Chessboard (Brzezinski). However, the US strategy toward China since the Pivot to Asia has negated the Opening, and the withdrawal from Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Iran nuclear agreement will negate the Chessboard. Other strategies included “Blood Borders: How a better Middle East would look” (Ralph Peters, Armed Forces Journal, 2006), which proposed a plan to redraw the borders throughout the region to better align with the ethnic and religious distribution; “Imagining a Remapped Middle East” (Robin Wright, New York Times, 2013), which showed how 5 countries could be divided to become 14 countries; “Why the Pentagon Changes Its Maps” (Thomas P.M. Barnett, Esquire, September 10, 2016/originally published March 2003); and the Arab Spring (Obama administration). All these proposals and actions involved vast disruptions, regime changes, and attempts to refashion boundaries in North Africa and the Middle East. There has been little official change in borders so far, however, several countries have divided war zones and attempts at separation. These other strategies could be considered semi-grand and have shown the difficulties in implementing even a limited form of overall strategy. It is obvious that the US has little benefit to show for all the blood and treasure spent in the Middle East and Africa, unless the creation of “failed states” qualifies as a plus.

Additional semi-grand strategies can be observed in other parts of the world. The US has somewhere around 800 military bases spread about on all the continents. This is a very expensive proposition and has several different rationales to support it: being the world policeman, preventing nuclear proliferation, solving the problems of the Middle East, stopping terrorism, bringing democracy and human rights to distant lands, increasing weapons spending, creating chaos, and so forth. Another actual semi-grand strategy might be the promotion of regime change by color revolution, legal or military coups, electioneering tactics, and proxy fighters. Pretty much the same rationales apply here as for the military web of bases, as they can be used together in difficult cases. Viewed from a higher theoretical level, however, they are part of the broad range of implements in the hegemony toolbox.

From this higher angle then, the extensive military bases and the regime change semi-grands can be added together to form one sort of a grand strategy called the “pursuit of hegemony.” There have certainly been enough articles in Foreign Affairs over the years to indicate the importance of hegemony for US foreign policy. In fact, the magazine published an issue (January/February 2019) with “Who Will Run the World” on the cover and four articles inside on the featured theme. One article argued that the liberal international order could possibly be saved, while the other articles were dubious and generally claimed that the order could not be restarted or revived. This pessimistic outlook was followed by another set of articles in Foreign Affairs (March/April 2020) with “Come Home, America?” on the cover and six articles inside on the featured theme. Once again, the first article was in favor of continuing current world-wide policies, while the next two articles were arguments for retrenchment. The last three articles were dubious about much success from continuing current policies. Careful reading of the first article, however, shows that it begins to waffle toward the end and is only half-hearted in support of continuing the current global role due to the many factors working against it. On a scorecard, the result of these debates in Foreign Affairs would be a lopsided defeat for the hegemonic pursuit grand strategy side.

There is possibly a significant faction within the Council on Foreign Relations that is skeptical about the future prospects for the US “running the world.” Otherwise, the Foreign Affairs articles would likely not have been published. Likewise, many of the articles were written by academics and similarly show a difference of opinion among the professors. However, little of this newly published skepticism has made its way into general public discourse. The few politicians expressing a skeptical view have been marginalized or excluded in the debates and subjected to very adverse publicity in the mass media. One reason for this could be the relative lack of published grand strategies for US foreign policy in a post-hegemonic world. The “retrenchment” proposals are essentially semi-grand in that they are mostly negative in tone and do not give a compelling description of life after the imperial sunset. It is common for textbooks to note that when the British Empire went into decline, the baton was passed to the Americans, albeit with continual British influence and participation. It is also a common comment that the Americans have no one to pass the baton to.

So, are the skeptics right or wrong? The US current foreign and military policy is certainly going forward on all fronts in an attempt to continue running the world and to prevent any obstruction to its exceptional and unipolar situation. Attempts at retrenchment are furiously beaten down, and there seem to be little slackening of regime change efforts. This makes sense if the US role is sustainable at its current level and the skeptics are generally wrong. On the other hand, perhaps the current effort is a last ditch “Hail Mary” pass before the clock runs out. In any event, just in case the skeptics are right, it might well be useful to draw up some comprehensive scenarios for life in a post-hegemonic world, as well as how to decline gracefully and make the best of the new situation.

In summary, the grand strategies of the past have either been discarded (Opening to China) or are in serious trouble with a doubtful future (Grand Chessboard). More recent strategic attempts to deal with Russia did not get anywhere (Reset) and those dealing with China failed to get much traction either (Pivot, TPP). It is certainly questionable whether the War on Terror achieved any significant reduction in terrorism around the world. The semi-grand strategies appear to have resulted in the US getting bogged down in various quagmires. The current grand strategy of the US government appears to be an effort to use any means possible to keep “running the world.” If articles published in Foreign Affairs are any indication, however, it would seem that the scholarly community and many former officials possess a very pessimistic view of the US pursuing hegemony. By extension, this pessimism could also apply to some members of the Council on Foreign Relations. To date, however, the experts appear to be hard pressed to create a positive-sounding and marketable alternative. As a result, politicians, mainstream media, and the public are seemingly unaware of the potential for a major crisis. A hard landing for the Yankee Empire is not a welcome prospect.

August 31, 2020 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Russia now also to blame for US protests & Covid-19 disinformation: former intel head turned CNN analyst

RT | August 31, 2020

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper went on CNN to accuse Russia of interfering in US affairs including the Covid-19 pandemic, Portland and Kenosha protests, and election meddling while giving no real evidence.

Clapper, who has previously said Russians are “typically, almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever,” was more than happy to push more xenophobic Russia conspiracy theories during a Monday CNN interview when prompted by anchor Alisyn Camerota.

After bringing up violent protests in cities like Portland, Oregon, and Kenosha, Wisconsin – both of which have seen shooting deaths occur during demonstrations and riots – Camerota asked Clapper if he sees “evidence as we saw in 2016 that some of this unrest, some of this online ginning up of discord, you see Russian fingerprints?”

“Absolutely,” Clapper replied without hesitation, before also blaming Russians for spreading “disinformation” in regards to the Covid-19 pandemic, including how it “disproportionately” affects minorities.

Though conspiracy theories about the Russian government interfering in the 2016 presidential election have been backed up by no real evidence, but rather only second and third-hand information, Clapper used 2016 as his only evidence of this new conspiracy theory.

“There’s no question the Russians are exploiting this. Why shouldn’t they? They had huge success in 2016. Why not do it again in 2020?” he said.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-California) was similarly asked on Monday during a CNN interview whether Russia was at all to blame for making race relations worse in the US, to which Schiff also replied yes and claimed they “are once again doing their best in social media, in the overt media and other means to grow this division again.”

Besides consistent history of xenophobic remarks toward Russians, James Clapper has also been accused of lying under oath. Some politicians, including Sen. Rand Paul, have said the former director of national intelligence should be prosecuted for denying his knowledge of the existence of the NSA’s warrantless spying program.

August 31, 2020 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | 1 Comment

Science, Skepticism, and Irony

By Donna Laframboise | Big Picture News | August 31, 2020

Psychologist Stuart Ritchie is the author of a new book, Science Fictions: How Fraud, Bias, Negligence, and Hype Undermine the Search for Truth. In the words of his publisher, it demonstrates that “failures in peer review and mistakes in statistics have rendered a shocking number of scientific studies useless.” 

Ritchie declares the scientific publication process “badly broken.” He argues persuasively that enormous resources are being wasted, and that our heads “are being filled with ‘facts’ that are either incorrect, exaggerated, or drastically misleading.”

These arguments overlap many found in my 2016 report, Peer Review: Why Skepticism is Essential. But new scandals and controversies have emerged since then, and Ritchie does a great job of explaining why all of this matters.  

But there’s a catch. Here we have an author lamenting delusion and self-deception. Here we have an author championing skepticism and hard-headed empiricism. Yet he, himself, utterly refuses to confront what all of the above implies about climate science.

If significant numbers of peer-reviewed papers in psychology, economics, evolutionary biology, organic chemistry, geoscience, and medicine can’t be reproduced/replicated when third parties attempt to do so, if many published studies really are useless, on what basis shall we go on imagining that climate research is a separate case? How can that field possibly be exempt from problems that are widespread elsewhere?

Environmental research has, after all, been highly politicized for at least two decades. Cambridge University Press was urged by scientists to withdraw Bjorn Lomborg’s The Skeptical Environmentalist from publication – to essentially burn his book back in 2002. A reasonable observer might therefore suspect that climate research is saturated with tribalism and bias, rather than the opposite.

Ergo: many of the studies on which politicians now base their climate decisions must be unreliable. How ironic that Ritchie is incapable of following his own arguments to their logical conclusion.

Nevertheless, it’s difficult not to feel sympathy for this young academic. His book was no doubt completed late last year. He had no way of anticipating that a deadly new coronavirus was about to spread across the globe, and that John Ioannidis, one of the people he cites extensively in his book, would respond to the pandemic in unexpected ways.

Two weeks before Science Fictions was released in mid-July, Ritchie published an essay titled There should never be heroes in science. It begins by telling us about the late Hans Eysenck, once the most-cited psychologist in Britain. Throughout the latter half of the 20th century, this eminent personality (who died in 1997), devoted much of his energy to keeping his own profession honest. As Ritchie tells it, Eysenck authored “blistering critiques of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy, noting the unscientific nature of Freudian theories and digging into the evidence base for therapy’s effects on mental health.”

Last year, more than a dozen of Eysenck’s papers were retracted. Dozens more are now officially considered questionable. An investigation by Kings College London concurred with critics who’ve long been concerned about the quality of Eysenck’s data and “the implausibility of the results presented.” In other words, this “strong advocate of rigour in science” was better at identifying the flaws in other people’s reasoning, than in producing bulletproof research of his own.

Ritchie then turns his attention to Ioannidis:

It’s fair to say that Stanford University’s John Ioannidis is a hero of mine. He’s the medical researcher who made waves in 2005 with a paper carrying the firecracker title “Why Most Published Research Findings are False”, and who has published an eye-watering number of papers outlining problems in clinical trials, economics, psychology, statistics, nutrition research and more.

…Ioannidis’s contribution to science has been to make it far more open, honest, and self-reflective about its flaws. How odd it is, then, to see his failure to follow his own advice.

Ritchie points to a March 2020 article in which Ioannidis legitimately observed that politicians were making decisions about how to respond to the coronavirus “without reliable data.” Five months on, that’s still true. Many of the numbers currently available to us are compromised in one way or another.

But whether Ioannidis’ own hunches are correct is a different matter altogether. Writes Ritchie:

The most memorable part of the article was his prediction – on the basis of his analysis of the cursed cruise ship Diamond Princess – that around 10,000 people in the US would die from COVID-19…As US deaths have just hit 125,000, I don’t need to emphasise how wrong that prediction was.

Yesterday, American deaths from COVID-19 exceeded 187,000. Even if that count is wrong by 20% in either direction, we’re definitely talking a different ballpark.

Ritchie tells us Ioannidis has since authored more than one piece of COVID-related research marred by serious design flaws. Even the best minds amongst us, therefore, succumb to bias. Even professional skeptics can exhibit, as Ritchie says, a “strong aversion to having their cherished theories proved wrong.” Here’s the last paragraph in Ritchie’s essay:

Above, I should really have said that John Ioannidis was a hero of mine. Because this whole episode has reminded me that those self-critical, self-correcting principles of science simply don’t allow for hero-worship. Even the strongest critics of science need themselves to be criticised; those who raise the biggest questions about the way we do research need themselves to be questioned. Healthy science needs a whole community of sceptics, all constantly arguing with one another…Who watches the watchmen in science? The answer is, or at least should be: all of us. [bold added; italics in the original]

I invite you to re-read that sentence in bold font. So says a man whose book dismisses climate skeptics in peremptory fashion. In fact, Ritchie ends his final chapter by referencing a famous cartoon that implies climate policies will automatically create a “better world” even if the climate crisis turns out to be overblown.

This is unfortunate. Ritchie’s argument is that improving the way research is conducted makes sense even if we reject his contention that “something has gone very wrong with science.” But that famous climate cartoon naively presupposes that good intentions are enough, that climate programs have no negative consequences, that government policies are never counterproductive, ill-conceived, or designed to financially benefit political donors.

I critiqued that climate cartoon last year.


August 31, 2020 Posted by | Book Review, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | Leave a comment