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‘Nothing nefarious at all’: Backlash as ex-NSA chief, involved in mass surveillance revealed by Snowden, joins Amazon board

RT | September 10, 2020

General Keith Alexander, ex-director of the National Security Agency, who oversaw illegal mass spying on Americans, has been appointed to Amazon’s board of directors, drawing the ire of privacy advocates, including Edward Snowden.

Amazon announced that Alexander, who served as NSA director from 2005 up to his retirement in March 2014, will join the company’s board on Wednesday.

“We’re thrilled to elect a new member to our Board of Directors this month. Welcome, General Keith Alexander!” the tech giant said in a statement on Twitter.

However, some, including the ex-CIA contractor Edward Snowden, were less than “thrilled” about the appointment.

Snowden – who in 2013 blew the whistle on a secret NSA surveillance program, leaking a massive trove of documents proving the bulk and warrantless collection of Americans’ telephone records by the government – was one of the first to call out Amazon for hiring Alexander.

“It turns out ‘Hey Alexa’ is short for ‘Hey Keith Alexander.’ Yes, the Keith Alexander personally responsible for the unlawful mass surveillance programs that caused a global scandal,” tweeted the whistleblower, who remains in exile in Russia.

Snowden noted that while Amazon Web Services (AWS) hosts nearly 6 percent of all websites, the figure looks even more damning “if you measure it by traffic instead of number of sites.”

Journalist Glenn Greenwald, a Snowden ally who was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the US intelligence machine’s global mass surveillance program, tweeted that Alexander’s appointment only revealed Amazon’s true colors.

“Gen. Keith Alexander was head of NSA when it secretly built a massive domestic surveillance system aimed at Americans – the one an appellate court just ruled likely illegal. Amazon just appointed him to its Board of Directors, again showing who they are,” Greenwald said.

Last week, a federal appeals court ruled that the “bulk collection” of data used by the NSA was illegal, with Snowden hailing the decision as a milestone in the fight against government-sanctioned snooping.

Even without an ex-spy chief with a less-than-stellar reputation in terms of privacy protection on its board, Amazon has faced growing pushback over its intrusive high-tech devices. Its virtual assistant Alexa was caught red-handed passively recording intimate conversations of unsuspecting family members, while its new fitness tracker ‘Halo’ promises to scan users’ bodies and track emotions in their voice.

It has been suggested that Alexander’s addition to the board may raise Amazon’s chances to win government contracts, as it is still reeling after losing out on the $10 billion JEDI ‘war cloud’ contract with the Pentagon, which was awarded to Microsoft last October. Amazon has attempted to stall the deal, filing a lawsuit alleging that US President Trump’s bias against the company robbed it of the lucrative deal.

September 9, 2020 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment

Democrats & Republicans agree: Politicians & corporations should be spared from prosecution over killer Covid-19 care homes

RT | September 9, 2020

Republican and Democrat politicians have both embraced legislation to immunize themselves and their deep-pocketed corporate donors from legal liability for ill-thought-out pandemic policies blamed for the deaths of thousands.

Republicans in the Senate have all but plagiarized a controversial provision from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo that will offer legal immunity to corporations that ran the care homes in which hundreds of thousands of elderly Americans died with the coronavirus over the last six months, according to a trio of progressive journalists who compared the texts and interviewed some of the lobbyists who wrote the polarizing passages for the politicians in their pockets.

When Cuomo’s corporate immunity provisions first resurfaced in Senate Republicans’ Covid-19 stimulus package in July, some thought it was a fluke. The legislative package protected elder care homes from lawsuits over “resource or staffing shortage” and classed hospital administrators as caregivers for the purpose of that immunity. Cuomo himself criticized the bill, even as journalists noted the similarity of its language to his own legislation.

The bill in question was actually written by the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA), a lobbying group that paid Cuomo over $1 million for the privilege of walling its members off from legal action in the midst of a pandemic that has seen tens of thousands of Americans die in nursing homes across the nation. Careful to cover all its bases, the GNYHA also spread over a quarter of a million dollars among Democratic legislative committees, ensuring the provision would be passed.

Critics said the measure green-lighted the most egregious corporate misbehavior – “effectively reward[ing] executives at nursing homes where thousands of elderly residents were killed by the coronavirus,” in the words of the progressive trio. Under pressure from progressive Democrats, the immunity measure was reined in by a second bill that limited its effect only to Covid-19 cases.

However, that ‘restriction’, combined with the hefty federal payouts to hospitals for coronavirus cases, may only have served to encourage facilities to list coronavirus on death certificates – and other states quickly followed New York’s example, passing their own version of the liability shield.

While one might expect Republicans to wield a Democrat-led push for immunity for healthcare providers as a cudgel against their enemies during a politically sensitive election season, the GOP-controlled Senate actually embraced the notion, including it in July’s Covid-19 stimulus package. The progressive journalists tracking the bills noted this happened around the same time as GNYHA recruited former Trump lawyer and current Republican fundraiser Albert Pirro Jr. to join their lobbying team.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have – at least outwardly – argued against the inclusion of corporate immunity in the stimulus package, but plenty of the rank-and-file centrist Democrats who usually agree with them have hinted they’re willing to climb on board. GNYHA dumped $2 million into the Democrats’ Senate Majority PAC in June.

The Justice Department has requisitioned documents from New York, New Jersey, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, Democrat-run states whose governors have been accused by Republican leaders of killing the elderly with variations on an executive order that required facilities to take in hospital patients without testing them for the virus. However, both parties’ politicians have benefited handsomely from the largesse of the health insurance industry.

The statewide economic shutdown has left New York hospitals unaffiliated with the mega-lobbyists in dire financial straits, scrambling to get their share of federal pandemic aid as politically connected groups feast on federal dollars meant to help ailing Americans. Routine medical procedures have been discontinued or severely curtailed amid the pandemic, while a growing number of Americans are delaying or avoiding seeking treatments due to fear of contracting the virus should they go to the hospital.

September 9, 2020 Posted by | Corruption | , | 1 Comment

Australia Confronts a Changing Economic World

By  James ONeill – New Eastern Outlook – 09.09.2020

The nature of Australia’s trading relationship with the rest of the world has changed dramatically in the 75 years since the end of World War II. In 1945–46 the total value of Australia’s exports of goods and services was $19 billion. It remained relatively low for the next 25 years, passing $50 billion only in 1969-70. It took a further 15 years to double, passing the $100 billion mark in 1984–85. It doubled again to $200 billion in 2000-01, and more than doubled again to $473.7 billion in 2019.

The nature of Australia’s export commodities has also changed rapidly over recent decades. Right up until the early 1980s rural commodities such as wool and meat dominated Australia’s exports. The shift away from this rural product reliance began in the 1970s, initially driven by exports of coal and iron ore.

Service exports began to assume a more dominant role in the 1980s. Short-term visitor arrivals into Australia went for about 137,000 in the early 1960s to over 2.5 million in 1991–92 and 9.3 million in 2019. The rural sector had a corresponding drop in its relative importance, accounting for about 42% of exports in 1969-70 to around 10% in 2018–19. Minerals and fuels on the other hand rose from under 17% to over 50% in the same period.

It was not just the structure of Australia’s exports that changed rapidly. The principal markets also changed radically. In the early 1960s the United Kingdom took 24% of Australia’s exports, the United States 13%, China 7.7% and Japan 22.4%. The figures for 2018-19 show a radical change. The United Kingdom has shrunk to less than 1.5%, the United States 3.9%, Japan a small shrinkage to 18% and a dramatic rise for China to just under 37% of the total.

Of Australia’s 25 largest export markets, (who account for the overwhelming majority of total exports) Asian countries constituted the greatest proportion, both in number and in value. Of the top 10 export markets, seven were in Asia (the other three being the United Kingdom, 4th, the United States 5th, and New Zealand 8th.) China, by far the largest market was 2.5 times greater than Japan in second place, and more than 10 times greater than the United Kingdom and the United States, each of the latter two accounting for less than 10% of the value of the Chinese market.

The year 2020 has seen some radical changes in Australia’s relationship with China, not all of which can be attributed to the virus. Australia’s exports to China fell by nearly a quarter year on year, and fell for each of the last five months to August 2020. It would be unwise to attribute this loss to the coronavirus effect. China’s imports from all nations grew by 6% in the year to August 2020 and the country’s economy, including imports, has had a relatively short and minor impact from the virus.

The Chinese view as expressed in the Party’s media outlet, the Global Times, in a series of articles featuring Australia in recent weeks, is that the slump in trade is a direct consequence of the deteriorating political relationship between the two countries. If the slump continues, and there are no signs at all of any improvement in the relationship, quite the contrary, the economic consequences for Australia will be devastating.

Unlike the food exports of decades ago, the market for mineral products is much less elastic. Importing countries have to have the industrial infrastructure to utilise the raw minerals, and new markets cannot be created in the medium, let alone short term.

It is not just exports that will be affected by the rapid cooling of China – Australia relations. Chinese students in 2019 comprised by far the biggest number of foreign students in Australian universities. That market has virtually vanished this year. Similarly, with Chinese tourists, again the largest group in 2019. It would be extremely unwise for either the tourist or the University sectors to expect any improvement in the foreseeable future. Both sectors contributed billions of dollars to Australia’s foreign exchange balance and supported tens of thousands of jobs.

It is not too difficult to ascertain the reasons for the deteriorating relationship between the two countries. A major factor is Australia’s relationship to the United States with the latter country engaging in a bitter economic and propaganda war with China. Contrary to the constant claims about the alleged freedom of the United States, it is engaged in a bitter economic war with China, arbitrarily excluding Chinese investment; the forced closure of Chinese companies; the forced closure of a Chinese consulate; reducing entry visas to Chinese citizens across a huge range of areas; and engaging in a constant propaganda war. Allegations of alleged Chinese responsibility for the current coronavirus outbreak is one example, accompanied by a bitter personalisation of the disease as the “China virus” by United States president Donald Trump.

The United States runs an enormous trade deficit with China which is somehow turned into a Chinese “fault”. The blunt reality is different. Chinese education and technology have significantly outpaced the United States in recent years. One manifestation of this is that a huge number of major United States companies have moved their production out of the United States and relocated to China and other Asian countries.

It is not just a cost driven exercise. As noted, the Chinese technology is now superior to that of the United States (as is also the case in Russia), the labour force is better educated, production costs are lower, and the market for advanced goods is rapidly expanding. China lifting 700 million people out of poverty this century alone has had major downstream effects, including an educated, affluent domestic market. The major social indicators in the United States by comparison have nearly all been in the opposite direction.

When one looks at the social and economic indicators in China, they all point to increasing demand for quality imports, whether of raw materials or other indicia of social and economic progress. Australia, with large resources and a small population (about the same as Shanghai) should be in a prime position to benefit from China’s economic progress.

Instead, as the figures now demonstrate, Australia is paying an economic price for its political subservience to the United States. That subservience takes many forms, all of which defy rational explanation if the test was one of a country acting in it own economic interests.

Australia has willingly engaged in the United States’ foreign wars of choice, from Korea 70 years ago up to and including the ongoing travesties in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. None of that by itself would necessarily have impacted on Australia’s relationship with China. In recent years, and especially in the Trump era, that subservience has taken on a different and more dangerous element.

Australia seems to have completely disregarded the maxim attributed to Lord Palmerston: a country has neither friends nor enemies, only interests. The current actions of the Australian government are the antithesis of enlightened self-interest. To go out of one’s way to annoy and alienate such an important economic partner (in multiple senses) such as China, is simply irrational. The foolishness is compounded by there being an absence of any obvious plan B.

The next few years are likely to be years of hardship for Australia unprecedented in the modern era. The Australian government has only itself to blame. It would be extremely unwise to assume that a change of government in Australia would make the least difference. The Opposition Labor Party is basically an echo chamber when it comes to the government’s actions with regard to China.

The reasons for that go back in all probability to the overthrow of the Labor government in 1975, an exercise from which the party has never fundamentally recovered. Under the Australian electoral system, itself uniquely bad for a so-called democratic nation, no viable alternative to the two major parties seems a realistic prospect. Australia will have to learn to adjust to a new, and harsher, economic reality.

James O’Neill is an Australian-based Barrister at Law.

September 9, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , , | 1 Comment

COVID-19: RDIF Points to Absence of Long-Term Studies on Vaccines Based on Monkey Adenoviral Vectors

By Aleksandra Serebriakova – Sputnik – 09.09.2020

The third round of trials for the AstraZeneca anti-COVID-19 drug is now on pause over “potentially unexplained illness” in a participant in the UK. On 11 August, Russia registered its own Sputnik V anti-coronavirus vaccine, which is said to have been developed in a different way.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) the investor which has funded the development of Russia’s Sputnik V anti-coronavirus vaccine, could not comment on the halt of AstraZeneca trials, it said in a statement.

However, RDIF pointed out that the fund’s CEO Kirill Dmitriev had previously discussed the differences between the human adenoviral vector-based platform used in Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine and those used by some of their international colleagues, that rely on “novel unproven technologies such as monkey adenoviral vectors or mRNA”.

“The safety of the human adenoviral vector used in Sputnik V has been proven over decades in over 250 clinical studies, as human adenovirus has been shown to be the safest vaccine delivery mechanism and the most ‘organic for humans’, as human adenovirus has coexisted with humans for over 100,000 years,” RFID said.

Meanwhile, “mRNA and monkey adenoviral vector-based platforms have not been studied over a long period of time,” RDIF CEO Dmitriev pointed out this Tuesday.

Commenting on the so-called “pledge of safety” earlier voiced by the CEOs of AstraZeneca, BioNTech, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Moderna, Novavax, Pfizer and Sanofi in relation to the development of the first COVID-19 vaccines, Dmitriev stressed that this plea was “insufficient” as it did not “discuss the lack of long-term studies on the carcinogenic effects and impact on fertility of newly-developed vaccine technologies”.

“Since some of the companies developing these vaccines have taken the ‘pledge of safety’, we would like to stress that public health and safety requires not only short-term evidence of a lack of serious adverse effects, but also the safety and efficacy proved by the results of long-term studies,” Dmitriev added.

AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine Trials on Pause

It was revealed this week that the third round of trials for the AstraZeneca anti-COVID-19 vaccine has been halted due to a “potentially unexplained illness” which had developed in a participant in the United Kingdom, without further specifications about the nature of possible side effects. The vaccine in question was developed in partnership with Oxford University and has reportedly involved around 30,000 participants in the UK, US, Brazil and South Africa. AstraZeneca described the pause as “routine” so as to allow for a “standard review process” of “safety data”.

Russia’s First Anti-Coronavirus Vaccine

On 11 August, Russia registered the world’s first vaccine against COVID-19, called Sputnik V, which was developed by the Gamaleya National Research Centre of Epidemiology and Microbiology and the RDIF after several rounds of clinical trials. On Monday, the vaccine was made available to the public.

According to RDIF, Russia has now received requests for 1 billion doses of the vaccine; at least 20 countries, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Philippines, Mexico, Brazil and India, have expressed an interest in obtaining Sputnik V.

September 9, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Most Western reporters prioritise winning the ‘information war’ over covering Russia objectively & it’s destroying the media

By Glenn Diesen | RT | September 9, 2020

International law has gradually been replaced with trial by public opinion and states have become obsessed with narrative control. Information wars and “fake news” are the natural consequences and trust in the media is collapsing.

Much focus is devoted to the polarisation of media coverage in domestic politics, although what is the state of affairs in the coverage of international politics? In the current information war, all sides appear to have dirty hands. Russian media is constantly criticised, and sometimes the criticism is just. Yet, how has the information war with Russia affected the way Western media obtain, analyse and disseminate information?

The favourite source for Western media in Syria has long been the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which despite its extravagant name is merely a blog. The Guardian exposed in 2012 that the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights consists of one man, Rami Abdulrahman, located in Coventry, UK. During the day, he runs a clothing store with his wife, and in the evening from his kitchen, he is the leading information source for the Western world regarding events on the ground in Syria. Why is the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights such an authority on Syria?

If the Western media needs information about Russian troops in Ukraine, chemical weapons in Syria or any other major conflict that involves Russia – the go-to-man is Eliot Higgins, a blogger for a website called Bellingcat. Previously an employee in the ladies’ underwear industry, he gained legitimacy in the Western media by reporting exactly what it wanted to hear about Russia.

In an interview with actual experts, Spiegel magazine revealed that Higgins did not use the digital analytical tools correctly to “investigate” MH17 and his evidence was dismissed as “nothing more than reading tea leaves”. Higgins denounces his critics as Russian agents, often followed by vulgar requests to “suck his balls”. How did Bellingcat become a credible source for the media?

The media did not seem interested when it was revealed that a senior official in the Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had demanded the “removal of all traces” of a document that contradicted the key “evidence” that blamed the Syrian government being behind a gas attack. Instead, the media turned to its favourite bloggers/ “analysts”.

Self-censorship was also evident when former British Navy Admiral Lord West in an interview with the BBC expressed his doubts that the Syrian government was behind the chemical weapons attack in Douma. The BBC journalist interviewing him quickly interrupted to reprimand the admiral: “Given that we’re in an information war with Russia on so many fronts, do you think perhaps it’s inadvisable to be stating this so publicly”.

Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine also poked a hole in the strange narrative about the death of Sergey Magnitsky, which led to the US passing the Magnitsky Act against Russia and pushing it on the world. The storyline that Western governments and press embraced with exuberance was concocted by Bill Browder, the man who earned the media’s love by branding himself as “Putin’s Number 1 Enemy”.

Der Spiegel recognises it is doubtful that Magnitsky was killed in a grand conspiracy, rather they point to Browder’s loose relationship with the truth, the multitude of contradictions and falsehoods about the narrative of Browder’s ‘lawyer’ Magnitsky, who it turns out was not actually a lawyer. Yet, as Spiegel notes, the thrilling anti-Russian narrative was too compelling to be obstructed by the lack of evidence.

Following the poisoning of the Skripals in the UK, the focus on Western “solidarity” similarly undermined the possibility for objectivity. Former UK ambassador, Craig Murray, had several questions that seemingly eluded the media: The Skripals had different ages, genders and weights, yet several hours after being poisoned they both passed out at the exact same time so neither of them could get help. Instead, they were found by one of Britain’s leading chemical weapons experts, the Chief Nurse of the British Army.

The information about the rescuer’s identity was revealed accidentally months after the incident and it was not clear why it was concealed. The Skripals, who survived, could be asked these questions directly but the media appears content with the government’s narrative.

The press similarly has not let facts influence the narrative over Russiagate. The servers of the Democratic National Committee were never hacked according to the former National Security Agency Technical Director Bill Binney. However, it was proven that the political party that lost the election hired the former British spy Christopher Steele, who provided the sensational and fraudulent information that kick started the investigation.

Declassified information also revealed that the FBI knew the Steele dossier was fake, representing an actual collusion that should have caught the interest of the media. Yet, the Russiagate narrative remains resilient and contesting it is classed as the gravest of all crimes – supporting the narrative of the Kremlin.

One cannot help but to get a sense of déjà vu from the Georgian conflict in 2008, when Western media reported anything the Georgian government stated as indisputable facts. Even after the EU’s Independent Fact-Finding Mission in Georgia concluded that Saakashvili had thoroughly lied, the narrative of a Russian invasion remains strong to this day.

The latest media circus over the poisoning of Navalny similarly reveals the multitude of priorities that journalists are elevating above the task of informing the public. Navalny is an anti-corruption activist who enjoys miniscule support among the Russian population and was expelled from the liberal party Yabloko in 2007 due to xenophobic statements. Although, among Western journalists his critical stance against Putin has earned him the title as a “leading opposition politician” and a place alongside Browder as another “Putin’s Number 1 Enemy” that we simply cannot resist.

The media does not attempt to answer why the Russian government suddenly decided the activist needed to be assassinated with a high-profile chemical weapon, only to be treated at a state hospital and then allowed to transfer to Germany. Yet, the consensus that appears to have formed is that the Kremlin was behind the poisoning and it is now the prerogative of NATO, an anti-Russian military alliance, to investigate and punish – although not necessarily in that order.

Past incidents indicate that the rush to consensus will not be slowed down by inconvenient facts, and the conflict between the West and Russia will continue to intensify.

Glenn Diesen is an Associate Professor at the University of South-Eastern Norway and an editor at the Russia in Global Affairs journal. Follow him on Twitter @glenndiesen

September 9, 2020 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | | Leave a comment

Georgia Hosts Major NATO Troop Drills While Touting Bid To Join The Alliance

By Tyler Durden – Zero Hedge – 09/09/2020

Yet another provocation sure to increase tensions between Russian and NATO has begun this week in the form of war games hosted by the Republic of Georgia.

On Monday the Noble Partner 2020 military exercises kicked off, which involves close to 3,000 NATO troops from the US, Britain, France and Poland. Centered on the capital of Tibilisi, the games will simulate an external invasion of the caucusus country.

The US Army began training exercises last week ahead of the main part of the games, which will go through September 18.

The small country of Georgia is of course not a NATO member, though has since the 2008 Russo-Georgian War been increasingly cooperative and favored by the Atlantic military alliance.

Georgia has bid for membership in the alliance, though the long running South Ossetia and Abkhazia disputes are seen as preventing that, given NATO membership would most certainly trigger broader war with Russia. NATO leaders in 2008 pledged that Georgia “will become a NATO member” but the Russian issue looms too large to actually pull the trigger.

Anytime Georgia hosts war games, it stands accused by the Kremlin of modeling exercises on the prior Russo-Georgian War. Russia also sees such games as a threat given the immediate vicinity to its border.

Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia sought to sidestep any accusations, describing the drills as “a guarantee of peace in our country” and “are not directed against anyone,” in an opening address to troops.

PM Gakharia further called the games “the most important component of efforts to make Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration achievable.”

No doubt such overt pro-NATO talk, again part its longstanding bid to join the military alliance, is also sure to rattle and anger Russia.

September 9, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment

Canadian Troops in Saudi Arabia a Legacy of Support for Iraq War

By Yves Engler | Dissident Voice | September 9, 2020

The revelation that Canadian soldiers have been in Saudi Arabia for 17 years highlights Canada’s ties to the repressive monarchy, contribution to the Iraq war and hollowness of Canadian foreign policy mythology.

Recently researcher Anthony Fenton tweeted, “raise your hand if you knew that there was a ‘Detachment’ of Canadian soldiers serving under US auspices operating AWACS spy planes out of a Saudi Arabian air base since the war on Iraq began in 2003 to THE PRESENT DAY.”

The Canadian soldiers stationed at Prince Sultan Air base near Riyadh represent another example of Canada’s military ties to the authoritarian, belligerent monarchy. Canadian naval vessels are engaged in multinational patrols with their Saudi counterparts in the region; Saudi Air Force pilots have trained in Alberta and Saskatchewan; Montreal-based flight simulator company CAE has trained Saudi pilots in numerous locales; Canadian-made rifles and armoured vehicles have been shipped to the monarchy, etc.

According to DND, Canada’s deployment to Saudi Arabia began on February 27, 2003. That’s four weeks before the massive US-led invasion of Iraq. The Canadians stationed in Riyadh were almost certainly dispatched to support the US invasion and occupation.

In another example of Canadian complicity in a war Ottawa ostensibly opposed, it was recently reported that Canadian intelligence agencies hid their disagreement with politicized US intelligence reports on Iraq. According to “Getting it Right: Canadian Intelligence Assessments on Iraq, 2002-2003”, Canada’s intelligence agencies mostly concluded that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, which was the justification Washington gave for invading Iraq. While CSIS delivered a report to their US counterparts claiming Iraq was seeking nuclear weapons capabilities, more serious analyses, reported the Canadian Press, were “classified ‘Canadian Eyes Only’ in order to avoid uncomfortable disagreements with the U.S. intelligence community which would exacerbate the sensitivities affecting relations at the political level.”

As Richard Sanders has detailed, Canada supported the US-led invasion of Iraq in many ways: Dozens of Canadian troops were integrated in US units fighting in Iraq; US warplanes en route to that country refueled in Newfoundland; Canadian fighter pilots participated in “training” missions in Iraq; Three different Canadian generals oversaw tens of thousands of international troops there; Canadian aid flowed to the country in support of US policy; With Canadian naval vessels leading maritime interdiction efforts off the coast of Iraq, Ottawa had legal opinion suggesting it was technically at war with that country.

As such, some have concluded Canada was the fifth or sixth biggest contributor to the US-led war. But the Jean Chrétien government didn’t do what the Bush administration wanted above all else, which was to publicly endorse the invasion by joining the “coalition of the willing”. This wasn’t because he distrusted pre-war US intelligence or because of any moral principle. Rather, the Liberal government refused to join the “coalition of the willing” because hundreds of thousands of Canadians took to the streets against the war, particularly in Quebec. With the biggest demonstrations taking place in Montréal and Quebecers strongly opposed to the war, the federal government feared that openly endorsing the invasion would boost the sovereignist Parti Québecois vote in the next provincial election.

Over the past 17 years this important, if partial, victory won by antiwar activists has been widely distorted and mythologized. The recent National Film Board documentary High Wire continues the pattern. It purportedly “examines the reasons that Canada declined to take part in the 2003 US-led military mission in Iraq.” But, High Wire all but ignores Canada’s military contribution to the war and the central role popular protest played in the “coalition of the willing” decision, focusing instead on an enlightened leader who simply chose to do the right thing.

The revelation that Canadian troops have been stationed in Saudi Arabia for 17 years highlights our military ties to the Saudi monarchy and warfare in the Middle East. It also contradicts benevolent Canada foreign policy mythology.

Yves Engler is the author of 10 books, including A Propaganda System: How Canada’s Government, Corporations, Media and Academia Sell War and Exploitation.

September 9, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Film Review | , , , | Leave a comment

Pentagon awards Northrop Grumman contract to develop next-gen $85bn ICBM for nuclear triad upgrade

RT | September 9, 2020

The Pentagon has handed arms manufacturer Northrop Grumman a colossal $13.3 billion contract to develop a new ICBM to replace the Minuteman III missile, part of a sweeping modernization effort to update the US’ nuclear triad.

Northrop announced the deal on Tuesday, saying the company was “selected by the US Air Force to modernize the nation’s aging intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) system.” The multi-billion dollar contract will see Northrop begin work on the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) program, an eight-year project that will focus on the design of the new missile system, as well as early testing and evaluation.

The new long-range missile, according to the Air Force, “will have increased accuracy, enhanced security, and improved reliability to provide the United States with an upgraded and broader array of strategic nuclear options.” It is expected to be in operation by 2029 and could ultimately cost up to $85 billion.

Though Boeing also vied for the contract, it dropped from the bidding in July after Northrop’s acquisition of Orbital ATK, a solid rocket motor manufacturer, one of only two US-based suppliers for that type of motor. Boeing argued the other supplier was not suitable for the GBSD project, and that the Northrop-owned company dragged its feet in price negotiations, claiming Northrop had an “unfair advantage.” The Air Force refused to act on Boeing’s complaints, however, and the firm withdrew its bid.

The development of a new ICBM comes as part of a massive nuclear modernization scheme instituted under former president Barack Obama, initially set to cost $1 trillion and span three decades. Though President Donald Trump has rejected much of his predecessor’s legacy, he has embraced the nuclear initiative with open arms, even approving greater spending for the project in the 2021 budget. In addition to replacing the Minuteman III, whose first variant was put into service in 1970, the military is also working to revamp the other two legs of the US nuclear triad, including upgrades for its nuclear-capable aircraft and submarines.

September 9, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | | 1 Comment

Plot meant to smear pro-Palestinian group exposed in Scotland

By Robert Carter | Press TV | September 9, 2020

A major scandal has come to light in Scotland. A fake anti-Semitic plot spearheaded by pro-Israel individuals aiming to smear a prominent pro-Palestine activists group, the “Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign.”

The story turned on its head after the Law Society of Scotland fined a pro-Israel lawyer, Matthew Berlow, £500 for playing a key part in faking a graffiti attack on his own home and then placing full blame on the SPSC.

Luckily for the pro-Palestine activists, an investigation found that Berlow knew that an associate of his, pro-Israel former teacher Ed Sutherland, had created a fake Facebook identity under the name “Stevie Harrison” to infiltrate the SPSC in January last year.

And it was the imaginary “Stevie Harrison” who highlighted the vandalism on Berlow’s home in a Facebook post with the comments: A certain “Jewish lawyer” — referring to Barlow — woke up this morning to find ‘Free Palestine’ spray-painted on his home.

Berlow, knowing this to be a false attack, played the victim, claiming it was “typical SPSC behaviour.”

Speaking to members of the pro-Palestine group, they explain how these deceitful tactics are nothing new. These actions don’t sit too well given that allegations of Israeli activists weaponizing anti-Semitism against the Palestinian cause has been expressed many times, including in Britain’s biggest opposition party, the Labour Party, under former pro-Palestine leader Jeremy Corbyn.

September 9, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 2 Comments