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Fatal polar bear attack in Svalbard unfairly blamed on lack of sea ice

By Susan Crockford | Polar Bear Science | August 28, 2020

A fatal polar bear attack in Svalbard, in the early hours of 28 August 2020 just outside the main town of Longyearbyen, is being unreasonably blamed on lack of sea ice. Details of the attack show it was made by a three year old male: such subadult bears are historically responsible for most attacks on people and they are known to be especially dangerous. It looks to me like someone should have seen this tragedy coming and stepped in to prevent it.


I will update this story as more information comes in but see below for the details known so far.

Longyearbyen_another format_Wikipedia

The attack

Longyearbyen camping site_IcePeople_28 Aug 2020

Camping site across from the airport in Longyearbyen. IcePeople

Details of the attack, from the CBC (28 August 2020), my bold:

A polar bear attacked a camping site Friday in Norway’s remote Svalbard Islands, killing a 38-year-old Dutch man before being shot and killed by onlookers, authorities on the Arctic island said.

Johan Jacobus Kootte was in his tent when it was attacked by the bear that killed him, deputy governor Soelvi Elvedah said. He was an employee of the Longyearbyen Camping site, where the attack occurred, the newspaper Svalbardposten said.

Kootte was rushed to the hospital in Longyearbyen where he was declared dead, Elvedah said.

The attack occurred just before 4 a.m. local time and was being investigated. No one else was injured, but six people — three Germans, one Italian, one Norwegian and one Finn — were hospitalized for shock, authorities said.

The polar bear was found dead in a parking lot by the nearby airport after being shot by onlookers, the governor’s office said in a statement posted on its website.

And from Icepeople (28 August 2020):

There have been at least four polar bears seen near Longyearbyen during the past week.

The bear that killed Kootte is a three-year-old male that was chased away from Hiorthhamn, a cabin across the bay from Longyearbyen, earlier this week, the governor announced Friday evening.

It is also the son of a female bear that was tranquilize [sic], along with her newest cub, and flown by helicopter to the northern part of Isfjorden after also making multiple visits the same location. The mother bear may be the same one that has made annual visits to the area in late summer and early fall, often with cubs, as part of her annual migration.

No other people at the campsite, who were all staying in tents, were physically injured by the polar bear, according to the governor. But six people were taken to the hospital in Longyearbyen and are being cared for by health personnel and city crisis managers.

An autopsy of the bear at a facility used by the governor is scheduled today. Because the fatality of a person was involved, the governor is requesting no photos of the bear be published by the media at this time.

The people at the campsite will be interviewed throughout the day as part of the investigation. The governor is asking people to avoid the area.

The campsite, typically open through early- to mid-September, was closed during the first half of the summer due to the COVID-19 crisis. While it is staffed during that period, and a building with kitchen and other facilities available, the campsite’s policy states guests are responsible for their own safety.

Although the campsite’s website states no bears have been at the site since the service building opened in 1985, a bear visited the designated bird sanctuary on the opposite side of the entrance road literally meters away (see YouTube video of visit at right) on July 29, 2011, only days after a fatal bear attack at a camp site about 40 kilometers away that was the most recent involving a person’s death in Svalbard.

Campsite policy states guests are not allowed to have loaded firearms there.

Nearly 40 comments were posted on the governor’s Facebook page during the hours following the attack, many of them expressing sympathy for the bear as well as the victim and other people there. At the top of those considered “most relevant,” Arek Stryjski, an experienced marine expeditioner in Svalbard, responded to someone upset about the lack of flare-alarm system by noting the risks it might pose in an area where large numbers of people might be present nearby.

“The camping in Longyearbyen is 500 meters from the airport terminal, (and) 100 meters from the parking and bus station,” he wrote. “Putting any flare alarms there will be dangerous for humans. It is miracle someone had loaded gun and more people where not hurt. What if it had attacked people who were leaving airport building?”

Van Dijk told Svalbardposten an electric fence was scheduled to be built around the campsite this year, and supplies arrived in March, but it was delayed when the COVID-19 crisis resulted in the shutdown of all visitors to Svalbard that same month.

“I was going to set up a three-wire electric fence with 200 poles around the entire campsite,” she told the newspaper.

So, there was no protection at the camp site from polar bears. And not only was the bear who perpetrated the attack a young bear who had never been on his own before but authorities knew he was out there, having been abruptly separated from his mother just two days before. Who could possibly not have seen a disaster coming? Sadly, the victim of the attack was sleeping in a tent on an exposed shoreline without an electric fence or a gun: he didn’t have a chance.

The Guardian (28 August 2020) offered this bit of additional insight (my bold):

“According to the local paper Svalbardposten, researchers at the local university field centre, Unis, avoid spending the night in tents near the shoreline – where the campsite is located – because of a recent increase in the presence of polar bears. “

Yet the BBC made this claim in their story on the incident (28 August 2020) about what unidentified ‘experts’ say about polar bears in Svalbard (my bold):

“Experts say polar bears’ hunting grounds have diminished as the Arctic ice sheet melts because of climate change, forcing them into populated areas as they try to find food.“

At least the writers at IcePeople talked to an actual polar bear specialist and included this quote from Norwegian researcher Jon Aars (my bold), who seems to be commenting on the fact that there were bears around in the first place:

Jon Aars, a polar bear expert with the Norwegian Polar Institute who frequently conducts research and advises the governor on polar bear incidents near settlements, told NRK the most recent incident most likely is part of a long-term trend of increasing bear activity near settlements due to vanishing sea ice elsewhere keeping them from tradition hunting sources.

“At this time of year, polar bears have extra challenges in obtaining food,” he said. “It has been a long time since there has been ice in the main hunting area, so there is less access to seals. So, the polar bear spends more time on land to find alternative food.”

I challenge this statement, given the details of this attack: “It has been a long time since there has been ice in the main hunting area.” As I show below, there was ice in the area only a few weeks ago and most bears should have been in excellent condition (bears easily traverse the short overland distance from the east coast of Spitzbergen to the area around Longyearbyen on the west coast).

No mention from Aars about the inherent danger from young bears, the separation of this particular young bear from his mother, or about the higher than average ice levels around Svalbard this year in particular – see my comments below.

Sea ice Svalbard this year

Far from having ‘low’ sea ice, Svalbard ice conditions have been heavier since last fall than they have been in decades. In March this year, Svalbard had more polar bear habitat than it did two decades ago at the same date. By early April, the ice was the highest it had been since 1988 and by the end of April, Svalbard still had the 6th-7th highest ice extent since record began in the late 1960s. There was also exceptionally thick first year ice to the north.

Svalbard ice extent 2020 April 28 graph_NIS

In other words, Svalbard polar bears have had better sea ice conditions leading into the summer season than they have had in decades. And by early July (see below), there was still ice off the east coast of Spitzbergen… Full article

August 28, 2020 Posted by | Fake News | | Leave a comment

2020 Elections: Bourgeois Democracy Meets Global Governance

By Diana Johnstone – Consortium News – August 28, 2020

A small number of very rich men are quite sure they know what is best for the future of the world and have enough wealth and influence to believe they can make it happen. They can be called oligarchs, but the term is inadequate. They are a special category, the shapers of the Global Governance destined to replace bourgeois democracy. I can name two: one who is famous, notorious even, but very old, and another who is a generation younger, not yet so well known or so rich but probably even more influential.

The Global Governors

The old one is of course George Soros, who needs no introduction.  He has no doubt that the world should be one big Open Society — in a word, globalization — in which borders and nation states dissolve into a kaleidoscopic mix of cultural identities in which major decisions are taken by brilliant financial oligarchs like himself.

The younger one is Nicolas Berggruen, the dashing 59-year-old Paris-born son of a leading art collector. Berggruen enjoys double U.S.-German citizenship and membership in the Council on Foreign Relations, the NYU Commission on Global Citizenship, the Brookings International Advisory Council, the Leadership Council at Harvard’s Kennedy School Center for Public Leadership, the World Economic Forum – and on and on. He helped get Emmanuel Macron elected president of France and has friendly relations with Ursula von der Leyen, head of the European Union Commission.

The billionaire has his own “think and action tank,” the Berggruen Institute, to promote his interests which center on “global governance.” He is particularly interested in technological ways to shape and guide the world of the future. The future for Berggruen belongs to digitalization and above all transhumanism. In a short video, he muses over whether or not the digital age makes us “less human.”

Nicolas Berggruen, center, in 2017. (Financial Times, Flicker, CC BY 2.0)

We are all connected and “less free” but we are all “part of something bigger — communities, families, friends” … The digital world “looks less human but it’s still being created by us.” (And who is “us” exactly?)  Berggruen’s model of the future family may be seen in his own choice: two motherless children manufactured with donated ovules and born by two surrogate wombs.

Like European-born Soros and Berggruen, the United States is above all the current command and control center of the Western world still aspiring to be the nucleus of a global empire. U.S. elections are important to these world visionaries in staying the course of world transformation. For both of them, President Donald Trump can only be an intolerable glitch in the screen. This must be corrected in 2020. The entire liberal elite is in overwhelming agreement.

The Transition Integrity Project

Rosa Brooks, in 2018, during a New America conference. (New America, Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

So, it has been easy to arouse near panic in the Washington Establishment and beyond over the notion that Trump might not be dislodged by the November 2020 election. Fear is being spread less that Trump might win the election (too unthinkable to think) than that he will lose the election but refuse to budge. This possibility received a big boost from a unique social event organized by Professor Rosa Brooks of Georgetown University, a leading champion of women’s participation in the National Security State, and historian Nils Gilman, a head researcher at the Berggruen Institute.

This well-connected pair easily enlisted dozens of power pointers to take part in what The Boston Globe called “a Washington version of Dungeons and Dragons,” on the model of Pentagon planners who form teams to imagine what the U.S. and Russia might do in a nuclear war confrontation. They named their fun and games the Transition Integrity Project (TIP), clearly suggesting that the “integrity” of the anticipated transition from Trump to Biden was their main concern.

Only a few of the 67 participants have been identified: anti-Trump Republican Michael Steele, former President Bill Clinton’s White House Chief of Staff John Podesta, David Frum (ghost writer of President George W. Bush’s “Axis of Evil” speech), and neoconservative political analyst William Kristol.

On Aug. 3, the Transition Integrity Project issued its report, entitled “Preventing a Disrupted Presidential Election and Transition.” This report gave the results of the make-believe gaming scenarios, which provided imaginary support to the growing liberal Democratic hypothesis that Trump is determined to steal the November election.

“Like many authoritarian leaders, President Trump has begun to lay the groundwork for potentially ignoring or disrupting the voting process, by claiming, for instance, that any mail-in ballots will be fraudulent and that his opponents will seek to have non-citizens vote through fraud.” It was taken for granted throughout that Trump’s fears and accusations are fake whereas his opponents’ fears and accusations are soundly based.

The Transition Integrity Project report made a feeble attempt to appear neutral: “TIP takes no position on how Americans should cast their votes, or on the likely winner of the upcoming election; either party could prevail at the polls in November without resorting to ‘dirty tricks’” — a neutrality consistently violated by the entire exercise.

The exercise comprised four scenarios: (1) an ambiguous voting result, (2) clear victory by the Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, (3) clear Trump win, (4) narrow Biden win.  The game was played by teams, primarily “Team Biden” and “Team Trump,” but it is pretty clear that none of the players were pro-Trump, including the players on “Team Trump.” But the games claimed to show how Trump supporters would react in these circumstances.

  • “Team Trump was consistently more ruthless than Team Biden — more willing to ignore existing democratic norms, to make use of disinformation, to deploy federal agencies to promote Trump’s personal and electoral interests, and to engage in intimidation campaigns.”

But “Team Biden” was much nicer:

  • “Team Biden generally felt constrained by a commitment to norms and a desire to tamp down violence and reduce instability.”
  • “Team Biden often had the majority of the public on its side, and the ability to mobilize resentment about the structural disenfranchisement in the way we conduct presidential elections.”

Russiagate intruded into the gaming in an odd and even ludicrous way: “There was quite a bit of speculation that Trump might […] attempt to rally nationalist feelings to himself, or placate foreign leaders to whom he may feel beholden, such as Vladimir Putin.” Huh?

Nobody Dares Lose

Campaign image of Kamala Harris and Joe Biden. (2020DemConvention, Twitter)

A particularly alarming and disturbingly credible assumption of the Transition Integrity Project game is that in this election, neither side is prepared to accept defeat. The scenario exercises “revealed that for many Democrats and key Democratic constituencies, this election represents an existential crisis, the last chance to stop a rapid and potentially irreversible U.S. decline into authoritarianism and unbridled nativism.” So, as much as Trump, many Democrats are ready to stop at nothing to win this election – for the best of reasons, of course.

Trump is depicted as equally desperate to win in order to avoid being treated as a criminal. An underlying assumption of this story-telling is that once out of office, Trump will be arrested and tried for unspecified crimes. This would indeed be an incentive for him not to lose.

At this point, it is necessary to recall that democratic election of national leaders depends on a degree of mutual trust that is being lost in America. The United States regularly insists that all foreign countries should elect their leaders by “fair and free elections.” But there are many countries where, at some time of their historical development, this method is not advisable because one party, or tribe, fears for its very life if a rival party, or tribe, should take power.

In such states, peace depends on the rule of a king, a mediator, a dictator. The United States can currently be seen to be regressing to just such a degree of mutual hatred and distrust.

No Compromise

It seems to me that if the Democratic Establishment gave priority to a peaceful election and transition, against the possibility that Trump might reject the results, the smart and reasonable thing to do would be to reassure him on the two counts which they suggest might incite him to balk: postal vote fraud accusations and the threat of criminal charges against him.

As to the latter: “Participants in the scenario exercises universally believed that self-preservation for President Trump and his family will be Trump’s first and possibly only priority if he is forced to concede electoral defeat.” So, it is a bit odd that the Transition Integrity Project goes on to report that: “During several of the TIP exercises, Team Biden attempted to enter into negotiations with Team Trump about a pardon and graceful transition, but those overtures were consistently rejected.”

Since there were no Trump supporters on either team, these game results merely reflect the intention of the Democratic Establishment to assume that Trump will be charged with “state crimes,” as yet unspecified. No compromise deal is desired.

As for postal balloting, it should be conceivable that Trump’s misgivings are justified. Trump is not against absentee ballots, which require identification of the voter, comparable to going to the polls, but is suspicious of mass mailings of ballots back and forth.

In an age when anyone can photocopy any document, when mails are slow and when there are many ways in which ballots might be destroyed, such misgivings are not far-fetched. Indeed, in the course of Game No. 1, “a rogue individual destroyed a large number of ballots believed to have supported Biden.” Why could the gamers imagine Biden ballots being destroyed, but rule out destruction of ballots supporting Trump?

2000 presidential election recount underway in Palm Beach County, Florida, Nov. 18, 2000. (Dtobias, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

For the sake of domestic peace, why not try to find a compromise? Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) has introduced legislation to generalize postal balloting. Why not, instead, extend polling time, opening polls not only on the second Tuesday in November but on the preceding Saturday and Sunday? This would provide time to allow voters afraid of Covid-19 to keep distances from each other, as they do when they go to the supermarket. It would reduce the number of absentee ballots, the time needed for counting and above all the suspicions attached to postal voting. But the more wary Trump is of postal voting, the more Democrats insist on making it universal.

It becomes clearer and clearer that hatred of Trump has reached such a pitch, that for the Democratic Establishment and its hangers-on, defeating Trump at the polls is not enough. They are practically inciting him to contest the election. Then they can have something more exciting and decisive: a genuine regime change.

Preparing for Regime Change

The classic regime change scenario involves a contested election, mass street demonstrations including civil disobedience and finally, military intervention.

So, to start with, the gamers posit an authoritarian leader who won’t step down. That’s Trump.

Next, “a show of numbers in the streets – and actions in the streets – may be decisive factors in determining what the public perceives as a just and legitimate outcome.” In an interview

stressing “the flaws in our electoral system,” Transition Integrity Project organizer Gilman said that what we need “is for people to be prepared to take to the streets in nonviolent protest” if appeals to officials do not suffice.

“We’ve learned over the last couple of months, since the Movement for Black Lives protest really took off again in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, that taking to the streets and showing commitment to a democratic process beyond just the ballot box is a really important part of driving change.” The demonstrations must be nonviolent, Gilman stressed.

As the Transition Integrity Project report put it, “the scale of recent demonstrations has increased the stakes for the Democratic Party to build strong ties with grassroots organizations and be responsive to the movement’s demands.” Certain of these grassroots organizations – MoveOn and Black Lives Matter – have enjoyed financial support from Soros, as the Democratic Party clearly tries to co-opt the protests.

George Soros. (

According to the scenarios, such protests could arise not only in case Trump refused to recognize a Biden win, but also, in Game No. 3, in case of a “comfortable Electoral College victory for President Trump (286-to-252) but also a significant popular vote win (52 percent for Trump, 47 percent for Biden). The game play ended in a constitutional crisis, with threats of secession, and the potential for either a decline into authoritarianism or a radically revamped set of democratic rules that ensure the popular will prevails (abolishment of the Electoral College…)”

The Biden campaign retracted its initial concession, capitalizing “on the public’s outrage that for the third time in 20 years a candidate lost the popular vote but won the Electoral College.” The Biden campaign encouraged California, Oregon and Washington to secede “unless Congressional Republicans agreed to a set of structural reforms to fix our democratic system to ensure majority rule.” Congress supported Biden. “It was unclear what the military would do in this situation”.

In reality, Democrats know that they have managed to keep the Permanent State, including the military and intelligence agencies, on their side throughout Trump’s presidency. Where are the forces that could carry out a pro-Trump coup d’état?

Whose Coup?

Hillary Clinton addressing Democratic convention, July 2016. (Gage Skidmore, Flickr)

“During the exercises,” the report notes, “winning ‘the narrative’ emerged as a potentially decisive factor. Either side can expand or contract the ‘margin of contestation’ if they succeed in substantially changing how key decision makers and the public view the ‘facts,’ the risks of action or inaction, or external events such as civil unrest.”

Winning the narrative appears to be a main purpose of the Transition Integrity Project, and it was quickly seconded in its efforts by top Democrats.

“Joe Biden should not concede under any circumstances because I think this is going to drag out, and eventually I do believe he will win if we don’t give an inch and if we are as focused and relentless as the other side is,” Hillary Clinton said in an interview on Aug. 25.

A couple of days later, Al Gore, the former vice president and unsuccessful 2000 Democratic presidential candidate, chimed in. Trump, he said in a particularly loaded image, is “attempting to put his knee on the neck of democracy” by criticizing mail-in ballots. “He seems to have no compunctions at all about trying to rip apart the social fabric and the political equilibrium of the American people, and he’s strategically planting doubts in advance.”

People ask whether Trump will leave office next Jan. 20. “Well,” said Gore, “it doesn’t matter because it’s not up to him. Because at noon on January 20th, if a new president is elected… the police force, the Secret Service, the military, all of the executive branch officers, will respond to the command and the direction of the new president.”

The Bottom Line

Outside the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2020 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, Jan. 24. (World Economic Forum, Mattias Nutt, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Meanwhile, Americans can listen to the extravagant rhetoric of the two enemy camps, calling on them to choose between “authoritarian white supremacy” and “radical Marxist socialism” while offering absolutely nothing in terms of coherent public policy of benefit to the American people and the world. The politicians cling to ineffective office, while the future is being planned elsewhere.

Policy will be designed by the Global Governors, for instance at the next meeting in Davos of the World Economic Forum which, according to its founder and chairman Klaus Schwab, will lay out the “Great Reset” agenda for the Fourth Industrial Revolution that is destined to reshape all our lives. Nicolas Berggruen will be there with his ideas. So will other billionaires.

They will not be “conspiring,” but rather laying plans for what they consider best for the world. There is no political system enabling us to influence or even fully understand the projects they will sponsor. Surely these projects deserve to be sharply debated. But the politicians supposedly representing us are somewhere else, fighting furiously with each other over contrived issues.

The Electoral College is not the most fatal flaw in American democracy. Rather, it’s the monopoly of political discourse by a two-party system fueled essentially by personal ambition, taking its cues from lobbies, the military industrial complex, Wall Street and the Global Governors.

Diana Johnstone lives in Paris. Her latest book is Circle in the Darkness: Memoirs of a World Watcher (Clarity Press, 2020).

August 28, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Meet the IDF-Linked Cybersecurity Group “Protecting” US Hospitals ‘Pro Bono’

By Whitney Webb – UNLIMITED HANGOUT – August 27, 2020

Since the Coronavirus crisis began in earnest earlier this year, the strain on hospitals in the US and around the world has been the subject of a considerable number of media reports. However, hardly any media attention has been given to the dramatic and unsettling changes that have been made to hospital and healthcare information technology (IT) systems and infrastructure under the guise of helping the US healthcare system “cope” with the surge in data as well as an unsettling uptick in cyberattacks.

Over the past several months, 80% of healthcare institutions in the US have reported being targeted by some sort of cyberattack, ranging from minor to severe, with an uptick in phishing attempts and spam specifically. Most of these attempts have been aimed at illegally acquiring troves of patient data, including the recent hacks of hospitals in Chicago and Utah. About 20% of the hacks and cyberattacks reported by hospitals and medical facilities since March directly affected the facilities’ capacity to function optimally, with a much smaller percentage of those including ransomware attacks.

One of the reasons for the increase in the success of these attacks has been the fact that more healthcare IT workers are working remotely as well as the fact that many IT staffers have been laid off or let go completely. In several recent instances, the removal of entire hospital system IT staffs have been tied to a larger effort by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to consolidate control over patient data, including Coronavirus-related data, with the assistance of secretive government contractors with longstanding ties to HHS.

The surge of cyberattacks combined with major budget cuts has made hospitals even more vulnerable as many are compelled to do more with less. As a result, there has been a renewed push for the improvement of cybersecurity at hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions throughout the country over the course of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis.

Amid this backdrop, an odd group of “cyber threat intelligence” analysts with ties to the US government, Israeli intelligence and tech giant Microsoft have “volunteered” to protect US healthcare institutions for free and have even directly partnered with US federal agencies to do so. They have also recently expanded to offer their services to governments and social media platforms to target, analyze and “neutralize” alleged “disinformation campaigns” related to the Coronavirus crisis.

While these analysts have claimed to have altruistic motives, its members who have identified themselves publicly have notably dedicated much of their private sector careers to blaming nation states, namely Iran but also China, for hacking and, most recently, for cyberattacks related to the Coronavirus crisis, as well as the 2020 presidential campaign. These individuals and their employers rarely, if ever, make their reasons for assigning blame to state actors available to public scrutiny and also have close ties to the very governments, namely the US and Israel, that have been attempting to gin up hostilities with those countries in recent years, particularly Iran, suggesting a potential conflict of interest.

The Cyber Justice League?

Calling themselves the cyber version of “Justice League,” the Covid-19 Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI) League was created earlier this year in March and has described itself as “the first Global Volunteer Emergency Response Community, defending and neutralizing cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities to the life-saving sectors related to the current Covid-19 pandemic.” They now claim to have over 1,400 members hailing from 76 different countries.

According to their website, they seek “to protect medical organizations, public healthcare facilities, and emergency organizations from threats from the cyber domain” and offer their services “pro-bono” to major hospitals, healthcare and pharmaceutical companies as well as U.S. law enforcement and federal agencies. Upon their creation, they sent an “open letter to the healthcare community,” offering to volunteer “their time and efforts to mitigate [cyber] threats and protect our healthcare system.”

However, since its creation, the CTI League has offered its services to sectors entirely unrelated to healthcare systems, companies and institutions. For instance, they now offer their services to critical infrastructure systems throughout the US, including dams, nuclear reactors, chemical plants and others, according to their inaugural report and their contact form. This is particularly concerning given that there is no oversight regarding who can become a member of the League, as one must merely be approved for entrance or “vetted” by the league’s four founding members, whose conflicts of interests and ties to the US and Israeli national security states are detailed later on in this report.

In addition, the league’s team of “expert” volunteers also tackle alleged disinformation campaigns related to Covid-19. Some examples of the “disinformation” campaigns the CTI league has been investigating on behalf of its private sector and federal partners include those that “associate Covid-19 spread with the distribution of 5G equipment,” “encourage citizens to break quarantine”, and one that “incited” a “1st and 2nd amendment rally” in Texas.

Regarding their disinformation “workstream,” the CTI league states the following:

“The CTI League neutralizes any threat in the cyber domain regarding the current pandemic, including disinformation. The mission of this effort is to find, analyze, and coordinate responses to the current pandemic disinformation incidents as they happen, and where our specialist skills and connections are most useful.”

The CTI League has offered its services “pro bono” to a variety of groups in the private and public sector, which has allowed the League’s members access to the critical systems of each. For instance, they work closely with the Health Information Sharing and Analysis Center (H-ISAC), whose members include Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Merck, Amgen, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Athenahealth, among others. H-ISAC’s president, Denise Anderson, works closely with the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). According to H-ISAC’s Chief Security Officer (CSO), Errol Weiss, the organization has been partnered with the CTI League since “very early on” in the Coronavirus crisis.

The CTI League also works with unspecified law enforcement partners in the US and works particularly closely with the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), an independent federal agency overseen by DHS. The current CISA director, Christopher Krebs – who was previously the Director of Cybersecurity for Microsoft, told CSO Online in April that “CISA is working around the clock with our public and private sector partners to combat this threat. This includes longstanding partnerships, as well as new ones that have formed as a direct result of Covid-19, including the Covid-19 Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI) League.”

Since they began “working with US authorities,” the CTI League has increasingly taken to assigning blame to nation states, specifically Russia, China and Iran, for various cyber-intrusions just as the US federal authorities began to do the same. In late April, for instance, the Justice Department began claiming Chinese hackers planned to target “US hospitals and labs to steal research related to coronavirus” and anonymous US officials blamed China for a hack of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and COVID-19 research. Yet, no evidence tying China to the hacks was provided and only anonymous government officials were willing to imply blame in statements given to the press, suggesting that there was not enough evidence to justify going public with the accusation or to even open an official investigation against specific foreign entities.

Notably, that same week in April, CTI League’s founder Ohad Zaidenberg claimed that China, Iran and Russia “are trying to steal everything,” telling CBS News that they “can steal information regarding the coronavirus information that they don’t have, (if) they believe someone is creating a vaccine and they want to steal information about it. Or they can use the pandemic as leverage so they (can) to steal any other type of information.”

Yet, upon looking more closely at the CTI league’s membership and co-founders, particularly Mr. Zaidenberg, much of the league’s leadership has a rather dubious track record regarding past claims linking state actors to cyberattacks. In addition, they also possess rather glaring conflicts of interests that undermine the CTI League’s professed desire to protect critical health and other infrastructure “free of charge” as well as ties to foreign governments with a history of espionage targeting the United States.

ClearSky and the manufactured Iranian threat

The public face of the CTI League and its original founder is a young Israeli named Ohad Zaidenberg, who was previously an “award-winning” commander in Israeli military intelligence’s Unit 8200, a key component of Israel’s military intelligence apparatus that is often compared to the U.S.’ National Security Agency (NSA). While serving in Unit 8200, Zaidenberg specialized in acts of cyberwarfare targeting the Iranian state, serving first as a Persian analyst in the Unit before becoming commander. His current biography states that he continues to remain “focused on Iran as a strategic intelligence target” and describes him as “an authority in the operations of key Iranian APTs [Advanced Persistent Threats].”

In addition to his leading role at the CTI League, Zaidenberg is also the lead cyber intelligence researcher at ClearSky Cybersecurity, an Israeli company directly partnered with the Unit 8200-linked Checkpoint and Verint Inc., formerly known as Comverse Infosys – a company with a long history of fraud and espionage targeting the US federal government. ClearSky also collaborates “daily” with Elta Systems, an Israeli state-owned subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), and was founded by Boaz Dolev, the former head of the Israeli government’s “e-Government” platform.

Aside from his work at CTI League and ClearSky, Zaidenberg is also a researcher for Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS). Zaidenberg is specifically affiliated with the INSS’ Lipkin-Shahak Program, which is named after the former head of Israeli military intelligence and which focuses on “national security and democracy in an era of Post-Truth and Fake News.” According to the INSS website, the program works directly with the Israeli government and the IDF and is currently headed by Brigadier General (Ret.) Itai Brun, the former head of the Israel Defense Intelligence (IDI) Analysis Division.

Prior to the creation of CTI League, ClearSky – and Zaidenberg, specifically – were often cited by US mainstream media outlets as the sole source for dubious claims that “Iranian hackers” were responsible for a series of high-profile hacks and “disinformation” campaigns. In every mainstream media report that has covered ClearSky’s and Zaidenberg’s claims regarding “Iranian hackers” to date, their connections to the Israeli government and Israeli intelligence services have been left unmentioned. Also unmentioned was the fact that the only state actor that ClearSky has ever blamed for hacks or other online attacks has been Iran, suggesting that the government-linked cybersecurity firm has a rather myopic focus on the Islamic Republic.

Ohad Zaidenberg

For instance, in February 2018, Forbes reported on ClearSky’s claim, citing only Zaidenberg by name, that an individual linked to Iran’s government had been responsible for an “Iranian propaganda machine” producing “fake news” and attempting to imitate BBC Persian. Zaidenberg claimed that the individual behind the three “fake news” websites, which largely published criticisms of the BBC as opposed to false news stories, is “believed to have worked for [Iran’s] National Ministry of Communications.” Based merely on the Iranian national’s “believed” (i.e. unconfirmed) work history, Zaidenberg then asserts with “medium-high certainty that the operation was funded by the Iranian government.” Zaidenberg’s history as a commander in Unit 8200 targeting Iran and his continued, self-admitted work in pursuing Iran as a “strategic intelligence target” while working at the Israeli government-affiliated ClearSky are left unmentioned by Forbes.

More recently, right before the founding of the CTI League, Zaidenberg and ClearSky were the sole source of claims that “Iranian hackers” were “exploiting VPN servers to plan backdoors” in companies around the world as well as targeting the networks of certain governments, mainly in the U.S. and Israel. ClearSky’s assertion that the hackers in question were tied to Iran’s government was solely based on their finding of “medium-high probability” that the hackers’ activities overlapped with the past “activity of an [unspecified] Iranian offensive group.” They declined to specify what the nature of the overlap was or its extent.

A clear conflict of interest

Notably, ClearSky’s February report on “Iranian hackers” targeting governments and major international companies in the US and elsewhere came right on the heels of speculation that Iran would target the US with a cyberattack following the US’ January assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, an act that was greatly influenced and allegedly prompted by Israeli intelligence. In the aftermath of the Soleimani assassination, mainstream media outlets in the US had heavily promoted the claim that Iran’s government would soon respond with a “cyberattack” as retaliation and that “financial institutions and major American corporations may be in the crosshairs.”

President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had both threatened, at the time, to dramatically respond to any Iran-launched attack, including one launched in the cyber domain, presumably with military force. While Iran’s much-hyped “cyber retaliation” failed to materialize, ClearSky, with its dubious claims that “Iranian hackers” were targeting major corporations and governments, created the impression that Iran’s government was involved in cyberattacks against U.S. interests at this sensitive time.

ClearSky and Zaidenberg’s claims regarding Iran only intensified after the CTI League was founded, with ClearSky and Zaidenberg being the only source for the claim made earlier this year in May that Iran had been responsible for the hacking of US biopharmaceutical company Gilead (a company which boasts close links to the Pentagon). The hack itself, which was widely reported by US media, is said to have consisted of a Gilead executive receiving a single “fake email login page designed to steal passwords” and it is unknown if the attack was even successful, per Reuters, which first broke the story in May. ClearSky subsequently claimed to have single-handedly “foiled” the Gilead hack. Notably, Gilead is part of H-ISAC, which had been partnered with Zaidenberg’s CTI League weeks prior to the alleged hack.

The alleged Iranian-led hack received considerable media attention as the cyberattack was said to have targeted Gilead’s antiviral medication remdesivir, which had received a Covid-19-related emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just a week before the hack allegedly took place. Only Zaidenberg is cited by name in the report on Iran’s alleged links to the Gilead hack, with Reuters citing two other, yet anonymous, cybersecurity researchers who told the outlet that they concurred with Zaidenberg’s assertion “that the web domains and hosting servers used in the hacking attempts were linked to Iran.”

Then, earlier this month, the FBI sent out a security alert claiming that Iranian government-aligned hackers were targeting F5 networking devices in the US public and private sector, with some media outlets citing anonymous sources tying the hackers in question to those previously identified by ClearSky. The FBI alert was issued right after an alert from CISA (which works directly with the CTI League and Zaidenberg) regarding vulnerabilities in F5 devices that did not mention the involvement of any state actors. Just a few days before the FBI alert, the director of the US intelligence community’s National Counterintelligence and Security Center, William Evanina, had alleged that Iran was “likely” to use online tactics to “discredit U.S. institutions” and “to stir up U.S. voters’ discontent.”

Aside from citing only ClearSky and Zaidenberg for claims linking Iran’s government to cyberattacks, it is also worth noting that the media reports that accused Iranian government-linked groups of committing those attacks declined to even mention the extreme extent to which Iran itself has been the subject of cyberattacks over the course of 2020. For instance, in February, a cyberattack took down an estimated 25% of Iran’s internet, with some alleging US involvement in a similar attack that had targeted Iran just months prior. More recently, a series of several mysterious fires and other acts of industrial sabotage across Iran over the past few months have been linked to Israeli intelligence operations. In some cases, Israeli officials have acknowledged the Zionist state’s role in these events.

In addition, there is the fact that top Israeli intelligence officials have attempted for years to goad the US into making the “first move” against Iran, both covertly and overtly. Indeed, for much of the last twenty years, Mossad has had access to “virtually unlimited funds and powers” for a “five-front strategy,” involving “political pressure, covert measures, proliferation, sanctions and regime change” in order to target Iran. Some Mossad officials have openly stated that part of this “five-front” strategy involves directly influencing the US’ Iran policy, including lobbying the U.S. to conduct a military strike on Iran. For instance, former Mossad director Meir Dagan, who pushed the US State Department to pursue “covert measures” and “urged more attention on regime change” in Iran while head of Mossad, is on record in 2012 stating that, in his view, the US needs to strike Iran first so Israel doesn’t have to.

Currently, Israeli officials have been relatively candid about their role in several of the recent cyberattacks that have befallen Iran as well as the fact that powerful elements of the Israeli state are trying to get the US to join a conflict against Iran before the 2020 presidential election while Trump remains in power. The effort has reportedly led to concern among EU officials that Israel’s government may be seeking to provoke an event whereby the US would engage Iran militarily.

This context highlights why solely citing a firm like ClearSky and an individual like Ohad Zaidenberg in linking a cyber attack to the Iranian government is dangerous, given that ClearSky and Zaidenberg’s ties to the Israeli national security state presents a conflict of interest. This is especially true given that Zaidenberg’s old unit in Unit 8200 is directly involved in conducting cyber attacks on Iran, like those that have been recently taking place as part of the strategy to provoke a military engagement between the US and Iran prior to the November elections.

While Iran’s government could have been involved in recent cyberattacks, especially considering the extent to which Iran has been recently targeted by cyberwarfare, using a firm tied to the very government and military intelligence apparatus actively seeking to embroil the US in a war with Iran as the sole source linking Iran to a cyberattack is not only ill advised, but dangerous and reckless.

Furthermore, given Zaidenberg’s key role in the CTI League, allowing faceless “volunteers” vetted by Zaidenberg and the league’s three other founding members (whose affiliations are discussed below) onto critical private and public networks under the guise of “aiding” their security amid the Covid-19 crisis is similarly reckless.

CTI, Microsoft & 2020

While Zaidenberg has made himself the public face and spokesperson of the CTI League, it is worth examining the other three individuals that are listed as founding members on the League’s website, if only because only these four individuals “vet” those who join the CTI League.

One of these other founding members is Marc Rogers, who began his career as a hacker and later “hacktivist” before deciding that “ethical hacking” was “more likely to have a positive outcome.” For Rogers, “ethical hacking” meant pursuing a cybersecurity career with multi-national corporations like Vodafone and Cloudfare as well as asset management firms like Asian Investment & Asset Management (AIAM).

Rogers is currently the Vice President of Cybersecurity Strategy at Okta, an enterprise identity solution platform, co-founded by former Salesforce executives and largely funded by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. Andreessen Horowitz is advised by former Secretary of the Treasury and Jeffery Epstein friend Larry Summers and is also a major investor in Toka, a company closely tied to Israel’s military intelligence apparatus and led by former Israeli Prime Minister (and a close friend of Epstein’s), Ehud Barak.

Aside from Rogers and Zaidenberg, the other founding members of the CTI League are Nate Warfield and Chris Mills. Warfield is a former self-described “Grey Hat” hacker (defined as “a hacker or cybersecurity professional who violates laws or common ethical standards but without malicious intent”) who now works as a senior program manager for the Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC). Mills also currently works for the MSRC as a senior program manager and he previously created the US Navy Computer Forensics Lab while serving in the Navy’s Cyber Defense Operations Command.

The MSRC “proactively builds a collective defense working with industry and government security organizations to fend off cyberattacks” and works within the Cyber Defense Operations Center and Microsoft’s other cybersecurity teams, including that previously overseen by Chris Krebs when he was in charge of “Microsoft’s US policy work on cybersecurity and technology issues.” Krebs, as previously mentioned, is now the head of the federal agency CISA, which oversees the protection of critical electronic infrastructure in the US, including the voting system. In addition to the above, MSRC is heavily focused on pursuing the cybersecurity needs of Microsoft customers, which includes the US government, specifically the US Department of Defense.

It is worth noting that the MSRC is also directly affiliated with Microsoft’s ElectionGuard, a voting machine software program that was developed by companies closely tied to the Pentagon’s infamous research branch DARPA and Israeli military intelligence Unit 8200 and creates several risks to voting security despite claiming to make it “safer.” The push for the adoption of ElectionGuard software in the US has been largely spearheaded by the Chris Krebs-led CISA.

Perhaps more telling, however, is that Microsoft and the MSRC have been at the center, alongside ClearSky, of claims linking Iran’s government to recent hacking events and assertions that Iranian government-linked hackers will soon target the US power grid and other critical infrastructure with cyberattacks. For instance, last year, Microsoft penned a blog post about a “threat group” it named Phosphorus, sometimes also called APT35 or “Charming Kitten”, and Microsoft claimed that they “believe [the group] originates from Iran and is linked to the Iranian government.” Microsoft did not provide more details as to why they hold that “belief,” despite the implications of the claim.

Microsoft went on to assert that the “Iranian” Phosphorus group attempted to target a US presidential campaign, which subsequent media reports revealed was President Trump’s re-election campaign. Microsoft concluded that the attempt was “not technically sophisticated” and was ultimately unsuccessful, but the company felt compelled, not only to disclose the event, but to attempt to link it to Iran’s government. Notably, the Trump campaign was later identified as the only major presidential campaign using Microsoft’s “AccountGuard” software, part of its suspect “Defending Democracy” program that also spawned NewsGuard and ElectionGuard. AccountGuard claims to protect campaign-linked emails and data from hackers.

Though it provided no evidence for the hack or its reasons for “believing” that the attack originated from Iran, media reports treated Microsoft’s declaration as proof that Iran had begun actively meddling in the US’ 2020 presidential election. Headlines such as “Iranian Hackers Target Trump Campaign as 2020 Threats Mount,” “Iran-linked Hackers Target Trump 2020 Campaign, Microsoft says”, “Microsoft: Iran government-linked hacker targeted 2020 presidential campaign” and “Microsoft Says Iranians Tried To Hack U.S. Presidential Campaign,” were commonplace following Microsoft’s statements. None of those reports scrutinized Microsoft’s claims or noted the clear conflict of interest Microsoft had in making such claims due to its efforts to see its own ElectionGuard Software adopted nationwide or the fact that the company has close ties to Israel’s Unit 8200 and 8200-linked Israeli tech start-ups.

Coincidentally, Phosphorus, as Microsoft calls them, is also the group at the center of the “Iranian hacker” allegations promoted by ClearSky and Zaidenberg, which refers to this same group by the name “Charming Kitten.” The overlap is not very surprising given Microsoft’s long-standing ties to Israel’s Unit 8200 as well as the fact that Microsoft as a company and its two co-founders, Paul Allen and Bill Gates, personally ensured the success of an Israeli intelligence-linked tech company then-led by Isabel Maxwell, Ghislaine Maxwell’s sister who boasts close ties to Israel’s national security state. It is certainly interesting that the four founding members of CTI League share ties to the same military intelligence agencies and associated corporations as well as an interest in the same group of alleged “Iranian hackers.”

While CTI League only publicly identifies the names of its four founding members, further investigation reveals that another member of the league is its program lead for combating Covid-19-related “disinformation” — Sara-Jayne Terp. Terp is a former computer scientist for the UK military and the United Nations and, in addition to her role at the CTI League, she currently co-leads the “misinfosec” (i.e. a combination of misinformation analysis and information security) working group for an organization known as the Credibility Coalition.

The Credibility Coalition describes itself as an effort to “address online misinformation by defining factors that communicate information reliability to readers” and is backed by Google’s News Lab, Facebook’s Journalism Project as well as Craig Newmark Philanthropies and the Knight Foundation. The latter two organizations also back the Orwellian anti-“fake news” initiatives called the Trust Project and the Microsoft-affiliated Newsguard, respectively.

Questionable access granted

Through claims of altruism and partnerships with powerful corporations and government agencies, the CTI League has been able to position itself within the critical infrastructure of hospitals and the U.S. healthcare system as well as attempting to expand into other key networks, such as those tied to dams and even nuclear reactors. It is truly stunning that a group whose unnamed members are “vetted” only by Zaidenberg, Warfield, Mills and Rogers, has been cleared to access critical private and public networks all because of the pandemonium caused by the Coronavirus crisis and the league’s offering of their services “pro bono.”

Notably, a considerable part of the strain that led hospitals and healthcare institutions to request the league’s services, such as budget cuts or the firings of IT staffers, were actually the result of government policy, either due to state or federal budget cuts for healthcare systems or HHS’ efforts to consolidate control over patient data flows into the hands of a few. In other words, these government policies directly led to a situation where hospitals and healthcare institutions would, out of desperation, be more likely to accept the “pro bono” offer of the CTI League than they otherwise would have been under more “normal” conditions.

Another critical fact worth pointing out is that the U.S. and Israeli intelligence communities have been seeding the narrative for over a year regarding the upcoming hacks of critical U.S. infrastructure on or around the US 2020 election, scheduled for November 3rd, by groups affiliated with the governments of Iran, Russia and/or China. As described above, many of the same groups and individuals behind the CTI League have played key roles in seeding aspects of that narrative.

Despite its massive conflict of interest, this opaque group is now nestled within much of the US’ critical infrastructure enjoying little, if any, oversight – ostensibly justified by the league’s “altruism.” As a consequence, the group’s opaqueness could easily lend itself to be used as the springboard for a “false flag” cyberattack to fit the very narrative pushed by Zaidenberg and his affiliates. From a national security perspective, allowing CTI League to operate in this capacity would normally be unthinkable. Yet, instead, this suspect organization is openly partnered with the US government and US law enforcement.

With US intelligence already having conducted such “false flag” cyberattacks through its UMBRAGE program, which allows them to place the “fingerprints” of Chinese, Russian and Iranian-affiliated hackers on cyberattacks that the U.S. actually conducts, any forthcoming cyberattack should be thoroughly investigated before blame is assigned to any state actor. Any such investigation would do well to first look at whether the CTI League was given access to the targets.

August 28, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia, Wars for Israel | , , | Leave a comment

Iran calls for international pressure to force Israel to sign NPT

Press TV – August 28, 2020

Iran has urged the international community to pressure the Israeli regime into joining the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Deputy Representative of the Islamic Republic to the United Nations Es’haq Al-e Habib says the international community must force Tel Aviv to join the NPT and allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to access its nuclear facilities considering the Israeli regime’s destructive role in the region.

Addressing a virtual meeting on the anniversary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) on Thursday, Al-e Habib stressed that the destructive role of the United States and Israel has prevented the realization of a Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Free Zone in the Middle East.

He slammed the US’ negative role in preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons and said with 1,054 nuclear tests, Washington has had the highest number of such tests in comparison to other countries.

He referred to the US as the possessor of the world’s largest nuclear arsenal and the only country to have used nuclear weapons, and said Washington not only has no intention to end testing nuclear weapons and join the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) but also continues to modernize and strengthen its nuclear arsenal.

Nuclear disarmament must remain at the top of the international community’s agenda, he said, adding that the nuclear tests must be stopped since they are against the soul of CTBT and commitment to nuclear disarmament as per the Article VI of the NPT.

Israel, which pursues a policy of deliberate ambiguity about its nuclear weapons, is estimated to have 200 to 400 nuclear warheads in its arsenal.

The regime has refused to allow inspections of its military nuclear facilities or sign the NPT.

Under Article VI of the NPT, all parties to the treaty undertake to pursue good-faith negotiations on effective measures related to nuclear disarmament and the cessation of nuclear arms race.

August 28, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 6 Comments

US Forced to Flee Afghanistan, Iraq and Now Syria

By Valery Kulikov – New Eastern Outlook – 28.08.2020

Multiple missile strikes carried out in recent weeks on American military facilities and overseas bases in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria indicate that a growing number of people living in countries that have endured American military invasions have had enough of America’s intervention and are fed up with Washington’s policy.

The level of dissatisfaction among the Afghan people with the US military presence in Afghanistan has already received extensive coverage in the media, and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has even been forced to declare that the US will pull all of its troops out of Afghanistan by May 2021.

Outside Afghanistan, anti-American sentiment has long prevailed among people living in Syria and Iraq, which has not only been voiced through peaceful means, such as holding anti-American protests or appealing to the UN to demand the American troops be withdrawn.

Powerful explosions sparked a raging fire in the late hours of July 28 at the Majid al Tamimi Airbase in Iraq, where both Iraqi and American soldiers are stationed. This was the second strike to be carried out within the space of the same day. In an attack earlier that day, three rockets were launched on the territory of the US Camp Taji base located north of Baghdad.

On August 10, an explosion near the Iraqi border with Kuwait hit convoys supplying US-led coalition forces with military equipment. On the same day, another rocket attack struck near the US Embassy in Baghdad. The actual territory of the American Embassy was hit by missiles on July 5, and after another attack on the embassy on June 11, Washington was forced to negotiate reducing the US military presence in Iraq with Baghdad.

The Iraqi media notes that attacks on American military facilities are carried out on almost a weekly basis in Iraq, and although there are no casualties or people left injured in many of these attacks according to official data, the infrastructure of the military facilities has suffered material damage. At the same time, the threat of far more serious attacks being carried out in the near future has not been dismissed by the US.

According to the al-Hadath TV channel based in Dubai, Iraq and the United States came to an agreement on August 22 in response to the significant increase in the number of protests being held in Iraq against the US military presence in the country, agreeing to relocate American troops and equipment from Camp Taji north of Baghdad to Erbil — the capital of the Kurdistan Region in northern Iraq. Almost all the troops are now known to have been moved to the military base in Erbil, in what was the largest withdrawal of US troops from an American military base in the Middle East.

There are also more and more reports coming from Syria about missile attacks on US military bases, especially in the northeast of the country in the al-Hasakah and Deir ez-Zor governorates. The Syrian Al-Watan newspaper reported that one of these attacks targeted a US military base in the town of al-Shaddadah, the administrative center of the al-Hasakah governorate in northeastern Syria, which was hit by rockets in early August. In May, the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported that another armed attack was carried out on the US military using machine guns and grenades, in which at least eight people were injured.

In some articles, observers claim that the American facilities targeted in these attacks are being used as infrastructure to protect oil fields and for the illegal production of Syrian oil. For instance, one of these attacks carried out in mid-August targeted an American military base near the Conoco gas field (north of the Deir ez-Zor governorate), which is controlled by the US and Kurdish armed groups. As anti-American sentiment gains momentum, and with periodic attacks being carried out on American targets in Syria, the United States has already begun drafting a special combat unit in Syria to protect oil fields east of the Euphrates. According to local sources, this special unit includes ethnic Arabs drafted from the ranks of the militia fighters in the Washington-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is militarily led by the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a mainly Kurdish militia which forms the backbone of the SDF. However, local tribes are increasingly taking a stand against the presence of American armed forces and their SDF henchmen in Syria. According to Al-Masdar News, one of these clashes took place on August 17, when fighters from the Al-Baggara tribe reportedly drove SDF forces out of the village of Jadid Baggara in a rural part of Deir ez-Zor governorate in eastern Syria. It is indeed the eastern regions of Syria where numerous protests are being held against military occupation and new US sanctions, which are trying to put the Syrian government in a difficult position to prevent Damascus and its allies from working together to rebuild their vision of Syria.

Given these circumstances, US President Donald Trump has been repeating his intention to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria more and more frequently. Donald Trump made another remark about withdrawing US troops from Iraq at a press briefing on August 19 that was streamed on the White House Twitter account. In Trump’s opinion, the US army should never have gone into the Middle East, and he recalled that the United States is continuing to reduce the number of American troops stationed in Afghanistan.

It should not be forgotten that during a speech Donald Trump gave on June 13, addressed to graduates of the United States Military Academy (USMA) in West Point, New York, he said: “We are restoring the fundamental principles that the job of the American soldier is not to rebuild foreign nations […].” In Trump’s own words, there is now “a renewed, clear-eyed focus on defending America’s vital interests.”

However, on June 9, Donald Trump informed members of Congress from both the Senate and the House of Representatives that Washington will continue operations against DAESH, al-Qaeda, the Taliban and other related groups listed as terrorist organizations and based in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Somalia, Kenya, Djibouti and Niger.

Yet considering how people living in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria have railed against the presence of US troops and military bases in their countries, one could expect to see similar acts of protest in the very near future in other countries around the world where more than 600 US military bases are hosted.

August 28, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Who Buys This Phony ‘Anti-Semitism’ Smear Language?

By Stuart Littlewood | American Herald Tribune | August 27, 2020

Semites are a language group not a religious group. They spoke (and still do) Semitic languages, especially the Canaanite and later Aramaic dialects of Syria, Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, and the Palestinian territories.

The Western world today is seething with accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’, a threatening term with nasty connotations. Before 1879 nobody had heard of ‘anti-Semitism’ although hard feelings towards Jews as a religious group had existed for many centuries. One thinks immediately of the atrocities of the first Crusades (1096), the massacre at York in 1190, and the expulsion of Jews from England by Edward I in 1290 (only to be allowed back in 1657 by Oliver Cromwell). But discrimination against Jews existed long before, in various countries and for various reasons.

Then along came a German agitator and journalist, Wilhelm Marr, who coined the expression ‘anti-Semitism’ knowing full well that it embraced all Semitic peoples including Hebrews, Arabs and Christians of the Holy Land. It wasn’t long before it was twisted to become a metaphor for hostility only toward Jews based on a belief that they sought national and even world power. More recently Holocaust denial and criticism of the state of Israel’s vile behaviour have been considered anti-Semitic. Anti-Zionism too is claimed to be anti-Semitic because it singles out Jewish national aspirations as illegitimate and a racist endeavour. Which of course they are, as Israel’s recently enacted nation state laws prove.

Indeed, some hardcore Israel flag wavers regard any pro-Palestinian, pro-Syrian or pro-Lebanese sentiments to be anti-Semitic even though those peoples are constantly victims of Israeli military aggression.

The hijacking of the term anti-Semitism and its fraudulent conversion into a propaganda tool for defending the Zionist Project has enabled brazen attacks on our rights to free speech and attempts to shut down peaceful debate on Israel’s crimes. The word anti-Semitism, as now used, is a distortion of language and a deliberate misnomer larded with fear and trembling for those touched by it. This prompted Miko Peled, the Israeli general’s son, to warn a Labour Party conference that “they are going to pull all the stops, they are going to smear, they are going to try anything they can to stop Corbyn… the reason anti-Semitism is used is because they [the Israelis] have no argument…”

And so they did. Jeremy Corbyn, a genuine anti-racist, critic of Israel and champion of Palestinian rights, was soon gone. He was the only British leader who might have reduced Israel’s sinister influence on UK policy. But his Labour Party, like the cowards they are, surrendered to Israel lobby pressure and helped bring him down. Israel’s pimps at Westminster and in local parties across the country were able to chalk up a famous victory.

They even managed to force the Party to adopt the discredited International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism and incorporate it into the Party’s code of conduct. The new leader is their obedient stooge. He has publicly bent the knee, tugged the forelock.

Who has the claim?

However, it has been shown that most Jews today are not descended from the ancient Israelites at all. For example, research by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, published by the Oxford University Press in 2012 on behalf of the Society of Molecular Biology and Evolution, found the Khazarian Hypothesis to be scientifically correct, meaning that most Jews are Khazars and confirming what some scholars had been saying. The Khazarians converted to Talmudic Judaism in the 8th Century and were never in ancient Israel.

No doubt these finding will be challenged by Zionist adherents till the end of time. But DNA research suggests that no more than 2 per cent of Jews in present-day Israel are actually Israelites. So, even if you believe the myth that God gave the land to the Israelites, He certainly didn’t give it to Netanyahu, Lieberman and the other East European thugs who infiltrated the Holy Land and now run the apartheid regime. It seems the Palestinians (Muslim and Christian) have more Israelite blood. They are the true Semites.

As for Zionists’ preposterous claim to exclusive sovereignty over Jerusalem, the city was at least 2000 years old and an established fortification when King David captured it. Jerusalem dates back some 5000 years and the name is likely derived from Uru-Shalem, meaning “founded by Shalem”, the Canaanite God of Dusk.

In its ‘City of David’ form Jerusalem lasted less than 80 years. In 928BC the Kingdom divided into Israel and Judah with Jerusalem the capital of Judah, and in 597BC the Babylonians conquered it. Ten years later in a second siege the city was largely destroyed including Solomon’s temple. The Jews recaptured it in 164BC but finally lost it to the Roman Empire in 63BC. A Christian (Crusader) kingdom of Jerusalem existed from 1099 to 1291 but held the city for only 101 of those years. Before the present-day shambles, cooked up by Balfour and stoked by the US, the Jews had controlled Jerusalem for around 500 years, say historians – small beer compared to the 1,277 years it was subsequently ruled by Muslims and the 2000 years, or thereabouts, it originally belonged to the Canaanites.


Since the three main Semitic faiths – Judaism, Islam and Christianity – all have historical claims to Jerusalem and a presence there, and masses of non-Semitic believers around the world also wish to visit the holy places, the best solution seems to be the one recommended by United Nations General Assembly resolutions 181 and 194: that Jerusalem is made a corpus separatum, an open city administered by an international regime or the UN itself. Why this hasn’t been implemented isn’t clear. We’ve seen the abominable discrimination inflicted on Palestinian Muslims and Christians by Israel since seizing control of Jerusalem.

The other side could play word games too – and with more honesty. Anti-Semitism has been fashioned by the Zionists into a catch-all smear weapon. What if pro-Palestinian groups and the BDS movement declared themselves (in correct parlance) to be ‘pro-Semitic’, i.e. supportive of all those with genuine ancestral links to the ancient Holy Land and entitled to live there in freedom?

They could coin a new expression just like Marr and establish it through usage.

August 28, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , | 2 Comments

I was set up by ‘MAFIA’ & media served up misleading tapes: Austria’s Russiagate victim, ex-vice-chancellor Strache

RT | August 28, 2020

It took one “leaked” tape of a right-wing politician’s meeting with a fake Russian oligarch’s niece to topple the Austrian government in 2019. Ex-vice-chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache now says it was a “criminal network” plot.

Austria’s right-wing government imploded in spectacular fashion last summer, after two German newspapers, Der Spiegel and the Suddeutsche Zeitung, published excerpts from a videotape of Vice-Chancellor Strache negotiating a ‘quid pro quo’ deal with the supposed “niece of a Russian oligarch” in Ibiza.

The woman was later revealed to be a Bosnian student, posing as a Russian femme fatale, and the tapes turned out to be from 2017, but that didn’t save Austria’s ruling coalition.

Strache resigned and snap elections were called. His ex-coalition partner, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, eventually regained power, but this time partnered with the environmentalist Green Party, and not the right-wing Freedom Party (FPO).

Strache has been fighting a court battle against the media to clear his name, and his lawyers have apparently obtained the full contents of the tape. He now says the unabridged transcripts – partly published in the media this week – prove that he’s been framed and misrepresented in the “leaks.”

“It was a manipulative extermination campaign that was launched on several levels,” Strache told RT Deutsch in an interview.

Indeed, much of the so-called “Ibiza affair” is still shrouded in mystery. Strache initially accused unnamed “intelligence agencies” of orchestrating the recording, while Kurz pointed the finger at an Israeli spin doctor, Tal Silberstein. A newspaper report last May blamed an Iranian-born lawyer, Ramin Mirfakhrai, who admitted his involvement but described the sting as a “civil society” project.

“This group of perpetrators is likely to be a very large one; one could perhaps also speak of a criminal network,” Strache told RT. He then claimed that a member of his own security team was apparently working with this “mafia” for nearly a decade and that the male escort of the ‘oligarch’s niece’ was allegedly working with Strache’s companion on the night – FPO deputy leader Johann Gudenus – to entrap him.

Strache also alleges that he was drunk – or maybe even “drugged” – during the “illegal” recording.

It is not clear if Strache’s assessment matches that of the committee of inquiry, which has been investigating the affair since June. Strache has little confidence in the inquiry, though, and told RT that he expects it to be derailed by “political tactics.” However, prosecutors in Austria are currently investigating the woman’s male companion – identified as “private investigator” Julian H. – for entrapment, while the newly-surfaced tapes appear to paint a different picture of the night in Ibiza.

In these, Strache can be heard rejecting some of the corrupt offers from the “Russian oligarch’s niece.” When she lays out the deal – favorable press coverage in a newspaper owned by her family in exchange for lucrative construction contracts – Strache responds: “No way, I won’t do it.”

“I don’t want to be vulnerable,” he says. “I want to sleep peacefully. I want to get up in the morning and say: I’m clean.”

While some of these lines were mentioned during the 2019 coverage, they did not appear in the “leaked” video – and Strache suspects this is no coincidence. He claims the additional footage now proves he is “neither corrupt nor for sale,” even despite the fact that he was plied with alcohol. He said he’s unsure whether to blame the two German newspapers for airing the original, selectively-edited footage, or the masterminds of the sting operation who sold them this footage.

Some of the German-language media that previously reported on the “Ibiza affair” have been left unimpressed by the new transcripts, and it remains to be seen whether the investigation sides with the so-called “civil society” project or condemns what Strache likes to call the “Stasi methods,” in reference to the infamous East German secret police. But given the alleged scope of the operation, Strache says he’s happy that at least he got out of it alive.

“I’m glad I’m alive,” he told RT. “I have the opportunity every day to experience the sun rising again, and also to defend myself and to fight such mechanisms. Because I say that such methods have no place in political debate.”

August 28, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | | 1 Comment