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Appellate Court Puts Back in Force CDC’s Vaccine Passports Requirement and Other Mandates on Cruises

By Adam Dick | Ron Paul Institute | July 19, 2021

There was some great news last month when the state of Florida won, in a United States district court, a preliminary injunction against the enforcement of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mandates, including for vaccine passports, under the CDC’s draconian and unprecedented “conditional sailing order” imposed on cruises in the name of countering coronavirus. I provided details about the court decision in an article here.

Unfortunately, late Saturday night — before the district court’s preliminary injunction was set to take effect on Sunday, a panel of three judges of the 11th Circuit decided by a two to one vote to stay the preliminary injunction pending appeal. The appellate court’s decision thus dictates that the CDC’s mandates on cruises, and cruise ship crews and passengers, remain enforceable for the time being.

Responding to news of the appellate court’s decision, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is pledging to continue the fight in the courts to remove the CDC mandates on cruises. In a Monday Orlando Weekly article by Tom Urban and Jim Saunders, DeSantis is quoted as follows:

‘We are absolutely going to pursue getting the stay removed, either at the full 11th Circuit or at the U.S. Supreme Court. I think probably to the full 11th Circuit en banc,’ DeSantis said during an appearance in Central Florida.

En banc consideration would involve all judges of the circuit court weighing in on the matter, a process that could yield a different result than was obtained in the split three judge panel decision.

Further quoted in the Orlando Weekly article, DeSantis expresses optimism that the state of Florida will ultimately be successful in its court battle against the CDC’s mandates for cruises:

‘I think most courts at this point have had their limit of the CDC issuing these dictates without a firm statutory basis,’ DeSantis said. ‘I am confident we’d win on the merits at the full 11th Circuit, and obviously I am confident we would win at the U.S. Supreme Court.’

Hopefully, DeSantis’ prediction of victory proves correct.


Copyright © 2021 by RonPaul Institute.

July 19, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , | Leave a comment

The BBC vs Donald Trump

By Freddie Attenborough | The Daily Sceptic | July 19, 2021

In March 2021, the BBC reported that one of their investigative teams had, “Been tracking the human toll of coronavirus misinformation”. During this investigation they claimed to have found links to “assaults, arsons and deaths”. Worryingly, experts also told them that, “The potential for indirect harm caused by rumours, conspiracy theories and bad health information could be much worse”. Sounds like an interesting investigation, doesn’t it? Public service output at its finest, you might think. Just the kind of article we’d all like to read.

Alas. Not quite.

The problem with the BBC is that it simply can’t help itself. Having teed an ostensibly interesting story up in this open, investigatory journalistic type of way, its authors then proceed to devote a good-ish chunk of what follows to that most favourite of all BBC pastimes, namely, implicating Donald Trump in the act of mass murder. As with the butterfly so beloved of chaos theory (you know the one: that little blighter who’s always flapping his wings and causing  tsunamis to crash into the coast of Bangladesh) no sooner have the BBC shown us Trump tweeting about the FDA’s preliminary research into hydroxychloroquine as a prophylactic against Covid than the magic of non-deterministic linear physics kicks in and people all over Nigeria and Vietnam suddenly start mopping up the old bleach-based products like vacuum cleaners.

In the end, then, the only interesting thing about this article is the way it reminds us just how little time and attention the BBC have paid to exploring the link that surely must exist between Covid ‘misinformation’ (as they themselves insist on calling it) and the huge rise in cases of psychosomatic disorder – health anxiety in particular – that we’ve witnessed in the UK since the dawn of the Age of Lockdown (2020-present). Let me explain what I mean.

And to do so, let me start by asking a question: what might disinformation likely to precipitate new, or to heighten existing, levels of anxiety amongst those suffering from psychosomatic disorders look like? How, in other words, might we define such a thing? Well, perhaps we might say that it would be information that unduly exaggerated the risks associated with Covid. Perhaps we might go further and say that it would represent the risks associated with Covid in a highly misleading and/or a sensationalist way. Come to think of it, perhaps we might end up concluding that it would look rather like the BBC’s recent article, ‘Long COVID funding to unearth new treatments.’ Below is the thumbnail picture accompanying the piece.

As you can see, it depicts two masked patients, chaperoned by two masked nurses, who look unmistakably like they’re having to learn how to walk again. (And by the way, anyone who’s going to counter that it could just as plausibly be a depiction of two patients being tested for, say, oxygen carrying capacity or pulse rate during recovery from a respiratory illness like Covid would need to explain to me why it is that neither patient is shown to be wearing any tracking/monitoring equipment, and, in addition, why neither nurse is shown to be holding/studying any data monitors). The male patient in the foreground of the image looks particularly unsteady on his feet, relying heavily on the metal frame surrounding him for bodily support. One of the masked nurses stands next to him, watching his legs and feet intently, presumably scanning for any warning signs of imminent collapse or a stumble. Her right arm is stretching out towards him, and no doubt a guiding/supportive hand is resting on the patient’s shoulder. Just behind the male patient, you can also see the lower half of the wheelchair in which he will have been brought from his hospital ward and into this rehabilitation class.

But if that’s what it shows, then what kind of patient might actually need rehabilitation of this kind; rehabilitation, that is, in which patients are having to learn how to walk again? It’s the type of thing that you’d imagine is normally reserved for patients needing post-surgery rehabilitation; patients who’ve suffered spinal cord injuries, neurological disorders, car-crashes, amputations and the like. That’s big league, serious stuff. We’re essentially talking about a type of rehabilitative treatment for people who’re on the cusp of, or who’re already suffering from, life-changing injuries/illnesses.

So is this the type of treatment that people suffering from Long Covid are likely to need? I ask because as we’ve already established, it’s the type of treatment that’s depicted in the image the BBC have attached to an article entitled, “Long Covid funding to unearth new treatments” the first paragraph of which reads: “Thousands of people with ‘long Covid’ could benefit from the funding of 15 new studies of the condition, its causes and potential treatments”. To help us on the way towards answering this question, here’s what the NHS guide to the symptoms currently associated with ‘Long Covid’ has to say for itself:

Common Long Covid symptoms include:

  • extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain or tightness
  • problems with memory and concentration (‘brain fog’)
  • difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
  • heart palpitations
  • dizziness
  • pins and needles
  • joint pain
  • depression and anxiety
  • tinnitus, earaches
  • feeling sick, diarrhoea, stomach aches, loss of appetite
  • a high temperature, cough, headaches, sore throat, changes to sense of smell or taste
  • rashes

Now I’m no doctor, admittedly, but I’m not entirely satisfied that a programme of rehabilitative walking usually reserved for wheelchair bound patients in post-surgery recovery is going to prove particularly efficacious when it comes to the treatment of long Covid patients with earache, diarrhoea and changes of smell or taste. In fact, I’m not satisfied at all.

Indeed it rather seems to me that the BBC’s choice of image, when considered as an accompaniment to this particular article, might justifiably be described as misinformation; that is, as information that unduly exaggerates the risks associated with long Covid in a highly misleading or a sensationalist way.

By the way, do you like my definition of misinformation? Thanks. Perhaps it might interest you, then, to know it’s culled from the BBC’s own editorial guidelines. Specifically, therein we find “Section 3, Accuracy”, and, more particularly, “Sub-section 3.3.24”, which states that, “Reconstructions [which this image undeniably is] are when events are quite explicitly re-staged”, and that in order to abide by the BBC’s editorial guidelines, “They should normally be based on a substantial and verifiable body of evidence… [and they] should not overdramatise in a misleading or sensationalist way”.

On this basis, then, is it not the case that the BBC’s own reality-check team, that bastion of fairness and impartiality in a world gone wrong, should hold the organisation to account for spreading long Covid misinformation? Is it not an article that exaggerates and sensationalises the effects of long Covid? Further, is it not likely to generate additional, or indeed to heighten existing cases of, psychosomatic health disorders in the U.K.?

I guess if you’re the type of person who’s already suffering from heightened worry about your health, about lockdown, about physical contact with others, about viruses, about disease; I guess if you surf the web but never really read anything carefully; if you scan the thumbnails on the BBC’s news homepage but never click through to the articles; if you look at an article’s opening image and then only scan the first two or three paragraphs of text thereafter… then I guess, absolutely, it might indeed be considered ‘misinformation.’

“But isn’t this all just a little pedantic?” I hear you ask. “A bit nit-picky?” Oh, absolutely. And doesn’t it feel good to be playing the BBC at their own game for a change. So good, in fact, that you really must forgive me. I’m enjoying myself so much that I’m going to continue to be pedantic for a little while yet.

Because you see I guess, too, that if you’re prone to experiencing psychosomatic disorders of one kind of another, if you’re already well-known to your local GP surgery and A&E, then it might panic you quite a bit to think that the image the BBC have chosen to use here depicts a fate that might lie in store for you too if you ever contracted Covid and then experienced Long Covid. I guess too that if you’re that way inclined, then you might even feel you needed to take the vaccine, any vaccine, right this minute, no questions asked, jab jab jab, please, put it in me doctor, oh God, put it in me… and to hell with any kind of informed consent.

Jabbed or not, if you’re that way inclined then I guess you might nevertheless see that picture, that image of the Long Covid patient struggling to walk in the BBC’s article, and then, at some point later, get around to thinking that you’re experiencing the symptoms of Long Covid, that you’re really ill, that you’re dying, that you’re in need of immediate and very urgent medical attention, that you’ve got to go to A&E immediately because you might end up in a wheelchair unable to walk; I guess, too, that you might see that picture and then end up yo-yo-ing in and out of the healthcare system for the rest of your life, costing the taxpayer money, wasting valuable medical time, worrying that there’s a direct line of causality that “the science” has established between you coughing, you sneezing and you ending up in hospital needing a wheelchair to get you to your rehabilitative walking therapy sessions.

It’s strange, isn’t it? I mean, the BBC is normally so keen, so eager, to castigate others for disseminating what they’ve decreed to be Covid misinformation capable of causing or exacerbating existing physical disorders. Yet in the case of psychosomatic disorders – i.e. panic, hyperventilating, health anxiety, generalised anxiety, hypertension, depression, chills, gastrointestinal disturbances – they’re curiously reluctant to take up those same sanctimonious ‘fact-checking’ cudgels.

It’s a reluctance that matters, though, isn’t it? The sad and unfortunate thing about psychosomatic disorders is that those suffering from them are more likely than almost any other group in society to place unnecessary pressure on the NHS. After all, if you’re worried that you’re seriously unwell and/or in imminent danger of dying, where’s the first place you’re going to go? That’s right: a primary or secondary healthcare provider. The problem, of course, is that people who suffer from those types of disorders are neither seriously ill nor in imminent danger of dying. What they ‘are’ is suffering from severe anxiety. That’s not nothing, of course; but it’s hardly first responder or A&E type stuff, is it?

That this might constitute a problem during a global pandemic of a mild respiratory illness in which we’ve all been told to put our lives, businesses, careers on hold because the NHS is under massive existential pressure, seems obvious. If the NHS is already clogged up with respiratory tract illness and you then go and add a whole bunch of psychosomatic patients to the mix… well, you’ve got a problem, haven’t you? You’d think the BBC would care about that sort of thing, particularly given the pious, reverent tone it normally adopts when it’s representing the NHS. You’d think they’d want to provide balanced, calm, rational reportage of what was going on; reportage that was clear about the extremely low risk Covid poses to the vast majority of people in this country.

I wonder. Could it be that if we were to widen the scope of the concept of ‘misinformation’ to include not only information capable of causing physical harm, but also that likely to cause psychosomatic harm, we’d be forced to conclude that the BBC, with all its Covid exaggerations, its hyperbole, its uncritical, unreflexive treatment of “the science” handed down to it by SAGE, its failure to hold the Government to account, to approach statistics sceptically, to put case numbers into perspective, its obsession with filming death porn reports from inside hospitals (etc etc)… if we were to consider all of that as misinformation too, might we not end up concluding that the BBC has done as much damage to the psychological health and wellbeing of the nation it purports to inform, educate and entertain as Donald Trump ever did with his tweety-tweety chit-chat about preliminary research into hydroxychloroquine as a prophylactic against Covid? I wonder indeed.

Dr Freddie Attenborough is a former academic. You can see his substack account here.

July 19, 2021 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science | , | 2 Comments

Britain has a choice on Freedom Day: Embrace liberty or slide into total biosecurity tyranny

By Neil Clark | RT | July 19, 2021

Domestic Covid restrictions have ended in England, but the threat to our freedoms remains, with the government urging businesses to adopt vaccine passports. The nightclub industry’s opposition to the scheme shows the way forward.

Freedom has been restored in Merrie England after 16 months of unremitting grimness the likes of which we’ve not seen since the days of Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth and Matthew Hopkins’ witch-hunting. Well, sort of. No more state-mandated face masks. No more state-mandated restrictions on crowd sizes at sports venues. No more ‘social distancing’. All good things in themselves – except the message from the government has been massively confused, given that it has spent the past seven days encouraging businesses to maintain restrictions. And, having ruled out vaccine passports not so long ago, the government is now very keen on them again.

Not just for the autumn and winter, but now. Check out the new Step 4 policy document released last week. It states, “The government will work with organisations that operate large, crowded settings, where people are likely to be in close proximity to others outside their household to encourage the use of the NHS COVID Pass. If sufficient measures are not taken to limit infection, the Government may consider mandating the NHS COVID Pass in certain venues at a later date.”

That’s quite a threat, isn’t it? Basically, the government is saying, “If you don’t introduce Covid certification now, we’ll do it for you.” We’ve already had a ‘Whitehall source’ informing the Daily Mail that the scheme could be used to “keep open a much wider range of venues” over the winter, when we always get an increase of people coming down ill with flu and flu-like symptoms.

The source said, “The reason we are trialling Covid certification this summer is partly to get mass events open more safely with bigger crowds, but also partly to get people used to the idea.” Nudge nudge, wink, wink, as Monty Python might have said.

Of course, another lockdown would be ruinous for the hospitality and events sector. But business now needs to call the government’s bluff. The paradox is that rejecting Covid certification won’t make another lockdown more likely, but much less so. Because at the end of the day, this is a ‘compliance test’ and has been for the past 16 months. You defeat people who threaten to close you down, not by doing what they want but by defying them – and making them back down. Otherwise you’ll only face fresh demands.

The nightclub industry shows us the way to go. Full marks to Peter Marks, the CEO of REKOM UK, which owns 42 nightclubs and who said his venues would be operating at full capacity without the need to show a negative Covid test. Marks said that would provide a ‘barrier’ to customer enjoyment. Another big player, Tokyo Industries, has also stated it won’t be going down the Covid certification route. And there’s been rejection from the pub and hospitality industry too.

Just about the only body that seems to be enthusiastically embracing the prospect of Covid passes is football’s Premier League.

It was revealed last week that the EPL was ‘working closely’ with the government and drawing up its own plans for Covid certification. What a terrible own goal that would be. A reminder: the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee report on Covid passports was absolutely damning. The cross-party group of MPs held there was “no justification” for Covid passports and that the government had failed to make the scientific case for them.

The case for Covid passports was weak enough in June, when the report came out, but is even weaker now, as almost daily we are reading of people who have had both jabs becoming ill, or even hospitalised with Covid. If the vaccine doesn’t stop transmission – which the government admits – why are vaccine passports being promoted? Answer: there is obviously another agenda. The passports are a gateway. To something very sinister indeed.

It should set everyone’s alarm bells ringing very loudly that the most prominent public promoter of the Covid certification scheme is one Anthony Linton Blair. Last September, the man who assured us Iraq had weapons of mass destruction which could be assembled and launched within 45 minutes, said it was “common sense” to move in the direction of digitalised IDs to fight coronavirus.

In June, ‘The Blair Creature’ – to use Peter Hitchens’ memorable description – declared, “The world will move to biometric ID and they will do it because in the end, it is better for people.” But which people? The vast majority of humanity, or those who meet at Davos each year and wish to control us? A ‘temporary’ Covid pass could quite easily morph into a permanent biometric ID system – which is clearly what Blair wants. And we know what that could morph into. A ‘restricted access’ social credit system, in which behaviour which is regarded as ‘good’ by the state authorities is rewarded and that which is ‘bad’ is penalised. Imagine being denied entry to a football ground or railway station, not just because you don’t have the latest Covid booster jab, but also because your ‘social credit’ score is too low after you refused to attend a ‘training course’ on ‘Good Citizenship’?

New technology means that governments have the means to control us in a way that the worst dictators in history could only dream of. It might sound a cliché, but today, on July 19, in England we really are at a crossroads. One path is marked ‘freedom’; the other takes us to a new digital servitude from which it will be very hard, if not impossible, to escape.

Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. His award winning blog can be found at http://www.neilclark66.blogspot.com.

July 19, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , | Leave a comment

RUSSIAGATE: Luke Harding’s Hard Sell

By Joe Lauria | Consortium News | July 17, 2021

Luke Harding of The Guardian on Thursday came out with a new story that looks at first glance like an attempt to rescue the Russiagate story and the reputations of Harding and U.S. intelligence.

The headline reads, “Kremlin papers appear to show Putin’s plot to put Trump in White House” with the subhead: “Exclusive: Documents suggest Russia launched secret multi-agency effort to interfere in US democracy.”

Harding’s report says that during a Jan. 22, 2016 closed session of the Russian national security council, President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian spies to back a “mentally unstable” Donald Trump for the White House to “help secure Moscow’s strategic objectives, among them ‘social turmoil’ in the US.”

“Russia’s three spy agencies were ordered to find practical ways to support Trump, in a decree appearing to bear Putin’s signature,” Harding writes. “A report prepared by Putin’s expert department recommended Moscow use ‘all possible force’ to ensure a Trump victory.”

The article, starting with the headline, is littered with the use of qualifiers such as “appears,” “suggests,” “apparent,” and “seems.” Such qualifiers tell the reader that even the newspaper is not sure whether to believe its own story.

Quoting from what he says is an authentic document marked “secret,” Harding writes that there is “apparent confirmation” that the Kremlin had dirt on Trump it could use to blackmail him, gathered during earlier Trump “‘non-official visits to Russian Federation territory.’”

This would seem to confirm a central part of the so-called Steele dossier, which Harding hawked in his bestselling book Collusion.

Harding’s newest story though says nothing about the involvement of Trump operatives with this Kremlin plot, as that was unfounded by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

Harding also suggests that the documents that came into his possession provides evidence of a Russian hack of Democratic National Committee computers.

Harding at the Nordic Media Festival, 2018. (Thor Brødreskift / Nordiske Mediedager/ Wikimedia Commons)

He writes:

“After the meeting, according to a separate leaked document, Putin issued a decree setting up a new and secret interdepartmental commission. Its urgent task was to realise the goals set out in the ‘special part’ of document No 32-04 \ vd. …

The defence minister was instructed to coordinate the work of subdivisions and services. [Sergei] Shoigu was also responsible for collecting and systematising necessary information and for “preparing measures to act on the information environment of the object” – a command, it seems, to hack sensitive American cyber-targets identified by the SVR. …

The papers appear to set out a route map for what actually happened in 2016.

A matter of weeks after the security council meeting, GRU hackers raided the servers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and subsequently released thousands of private emails in an attempt to hurt Clinton’s election campaign.”

These documents would perfectly confirm the story put out by U.S. intelligence and an eager Democratic media: that Russia’s defense intelligence agency GRU hacked the DNC and Russia leaked DNC emails to damage Hillary Clinton.

Except that Shawn Henry, the head of the company CrowdStrike hired by the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign (while keeping the FBI away) to examine the DNC servers declared under oath to the House Intelligence Committee that no evidence of a hack was discovered. “It appears it was set up to be exfiltrated, but we just don’t have the evidence that says it actually left,” Henry told the committee.

WikiLeaks, which Harding doesn’t mention, has also denied getting the DNC material from Russia that Harding says was released by Moscow. And Harding ignores the true contents of the emails.

Dmitri Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, told The Guardian the story was “great pulp fiction.”

Let’s look at the motives of the players involved in this story.

Harding’s Motives

Henry’s denial of a hack and Mueller’s inability to prove Collusion, embarrassed Harding after he staked his reputation on his bestseller of that name. The book is essentially the story of Christopher Steele, the ex-MI6 agent, who was paid by the DNC and the Clinton campaign to come up with opposition research against Trump.

Harding, like the Democratic media establishment, mistook opposition research, a mix of fact and fiction to smear a political opponent, for an intelligence document paid for by taxpayers, presumably in the interests of protecting the country rather than a political candidate. Of course, the FBI and the CIA sold it to the media as such to undermine the other candidate.

Harding has had a major omelet on his face after the Russiagate tale was ultimately exposed as opposition research paid for by the Democrats, who elevated it to a new Pearl Harbor.

Now I will engage in qualifiers here but it seems Harding is desperate to find anything that might rescue the story and his reputation. That’s a vulnerable position to be in, easily exploited by intelligence operatives, the way he was exploited with the original story.

An earlier attempt by Harding at rescuing himself was the disastrous piece he wrote for The Guardian that Paul Manafort, briefly Trump’s 2016 campaign manager, had visited Julian Assange at the Ecuador Embassy in London. It blew up in Harding’s face though his paper has never pulled the story.

U.S. Intelligence Motives

Members of the U.S. intelligence community were staring at possible prosecution in the investigation run by U.S. Attorney John Durham for their role in pushing the opposition research as truth, leading, among other things, to a doctored FBI report to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor a Trump campaign worker.

The Steele dossier became the basis for other shenanigans by U.S. intelligence. Though in the end there were no indictments, the reputation of especially the FBI took a hit.

Leaking a story now that it was all true, after all, might do wonders to restore its standing among wide sections of the U.S. public who lost faith in the bureau over Russiagate.

A Kremlin Leakers’ Motives

Harding writes in a cryptic way about how he got hold of these materials. He says the story is based on “what are assessed to be leaked Kremlin documents.” As they were marked “secret,” and supposedly came from Putin’s innermost circle, as Harding says, it stands to reason that few people in the Russian government would have had access to them outside of that circle.

We are being asked to believe that someone closest to Putin leaked these documents either directly to Harding or to U.S. or British intelligence who then passed it on to Harding. (Harding calling it a leak would rule out that they were obtained through a Western intelligence hack.)

It can’t be dismissed that U.S. intelligence may have an active mole inside the Kremlin. But one must ask would that mole — if he or she exists — risk their freedom by leaking documents that have absolutely no current strategic or even political significance, rather than, say, classified information about Russian troop movements and military intentions?

The only interests this leak serves — if it was a leak — are those of Harding and U.S. intelligence, who were hung out to dry by the collapse of the Russiagate narrative.

Evaluating the Story

Harding is clearly reporting from Russian-language documents, snapshots of which are reproduced in The Guardian article. He writes that these documents were shown to “independent experts” who said they “appear” to be “genuine.” Harding does not reveal who these experts are.

To evaluate the credibility of Harding’s story would require knowing how he got the documents, not the names of the person or persons who gave them to him, but the interests they represent. He is especially vague about this.

Harding writes:

“Western intelligence agencies are understood to have been aware of the documents for some months and to have carefully examined them. The papers, seen by the Guardian, seem to represent a serious and highly unusual leak from within the Kremlin.”

If they were handed to Harding by U.S. or British intelligence who had them for months, the idea that these are the products of spycraft cannot be dismissed. Crafting what looks like classified evidence from an adversarial power and then leaking it to friendly press has long been in the arsenal of intelligence agencies the world over.

It is unlikely we will ever know how Harding came into possession of these documents or who the experts are who said they “seem” genuine.

But the purpose of this piece may have already been achieved.


Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former UN correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and numerous other newspapers. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London and began his professional career as a stringer for The New York Times.  He can be reached at joelauria@consortiumnews.com

July 19, 2021 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | 1 Comment

Israeli Firm Helped Governments Target Journalists, Activists with 0-Days and Spyware

By Ravie Lakshmanan | The Hacker News | July 16, 2021

Two of the zero-day Windows flaws rectified by Microsoft as part of its Patch Tuesday update earlier this week were weaponized by an Israel-based company called Candiru in a series of “precision attacks” to hack more than 100 journalists, academics, activists, and political dissidents globally.

The spyware vendor was also formally identified as the commercial surveillance company that Google’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG) revealed as exploiting multiple zero-day vulnerabilities in Chrome browser to target victims located in Armenia, according to a report published by the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab.

Candiru‘s apparent widespread presence, and the use of its surveillance technology against global civil society, is a potent reminder that the mercenary spyware industry contains many players and is prone to widespread abuse,” Citizen Lab researchers said. “This case demonstrates, yet again, that in the absence of any international safeguards or strong government export controls, spyware vendors will sell to government clients who will routinely abuse their services.”

Founded in 2014, the private-sector offensive actor (PSOA) — codenamed “Sourgum” by Microsoft — is said to be the developer of an espionage toolkit dubbed DevilsTongue that’s exclusively sold to governments and is capable of infecting and monitoring a broad range of devices across different platforms, including iPhones, Androids, Macs, PCs, and cloud accounts.

Citizen Lab said it was able to recover a copy of Candiru’s Windows spyware after obtaining a hard drive from “a politically active victim in Western Europe,” which was then reverse engineered to identify two never-before-seen Windows zero-day exploits for vulnerabilities tracked as CVE-2021-31979 and CVE-2021-33771 that were leveraged to install malware on victim boxes.

The infection chain relied on a mix of browser and Windows exploits, with the former served via single-use URLs sent to targets on messaging applications such as WhatsApp. Microsoft addressed both the privilege escalation flaws, which enable an adversary to escape browser sandboxes and gain kernel code execution, on July 13.

The intrusions culminated in the deployment of DevilsTongue, a modular C/C++-based backdoor equipped with a number of capabilities, including exfiltrating files, exporting messages saved in the encrypted messaging app Signal, and stealing cookies and passwords from Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Opera browsers.

Microsoft’s analysis of the digital weapon also found that it could abuse the stolen cookies from logged-in email and social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Yahoo, Mail.ru, Odnoklassniki, and Vkontakte to collect information, read the victim’s messages, retrieve photos, and even send messages on their behalf, thus allowing the threat actor to send malicious links directly from a compromised user’s computer.

Separately, the Citizen Lab report also tied the two Google Chrome vulnerabilities disclosed by the search giant on Wednesday — CVE-2021-21166 and CVE-2021-30551 — to the Tel Aviv company, noting overlaps in the websites that were used to distribute the exploits.

Furthermore, 764 domains linked to Candiru’s spyware infrastructure were uncovered, with many of the domains masquerading as advocacy organizations such as Amnesty International, the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as media companies, and other civil-society themed entities. Some of the systems under their control were operated from Saudi Arabia, Israel, U.A.E., Hungary, and Indonesia.

Over 100 victims of SOURGUM’s malware have been identified to date, with targets located in Palestine, Israel, Iran, Lebanon, Yemen, Spain (Catalonia), United Kingdom, Turkey, Armenia, and Singapore. “These attacks have largely targeted consumer accounts, indicating Sourgum’s customers were pursuing particular individuals,” Microsoft’s General Manager of Digital Security Unit, Cristin Goodwin, said.

The latest report arrives as TAG researchers Maddie Stone and Clement Lecigne noted a surge in attackers using more zero-day exploits in their cyber offensives, in part fueled by more commercial vendors selling access to zero-days than in the early 2010s.

“Private-sector offensive actors are private companies that manufacture and sell cyberweapons in hacking-as-a-service packages, often to government agencies around the world, to hack into their targets’ computers, phones, network infrastructure, and other devices,” Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) said in a technical rundown.

“With these hacking packages, usually the government agencies choose the targets and run the actual operations themselves. The tools, tactics, and procedures used by these companies only adds to the complexity, scale, and sophistication of attacks,” MSTIC added.

July 19, 2021 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 1 Comment

Do drug trials underestimate side effects?

Deadly drugs trials underestimate side effects

By Dr Sebastian Rushworth | July 19, 2021

One commonly used trick in drug trials is to exclude any group that might make the drug look worse, such as those that are more likely to experience side effects. A good recent example of this is the covid vaccine trials, which largely excluded people with auto-immune diseases (more likely to develop an auto-immune disease after vaccination), people with allergies (more likely to have an allergic reaction to the vaccine), and, of course, the elderly (less likely to develop immunity after getting the vaccine, and more likely to become seriously sick from it).

These three groups are all frequently excluded from trials, and the exclusion is particularly galling when it comes to the elderly, because they are a big segment of the population, and they are also usually the most likely to end up actually using the drugs being tested.

When drug companies have gotten a drug approved, and move on to market the drug, they will studiously avoid mentioning the fact that large segments of the population were excluded from the trials. When drug reps show their flashy powerpoints to gatherings of doctors, say for a new drug to lower blood pressure, they will always present impressive looking graphs of benefit, and they will of course point out how safe their drug was shown to be in the trials. Not once will they mention that the groups of patients the doctors will primarily be prescribing the drug to weren’t even included in the trials.

The doctors will then happily go off and prescribe the drug to multi-morbid 90 year olds, which might explain why prescription drugs are now the third leading cause of death in the western world.

The manipulation of who is included in trials is probably one of the main reasons why findings of side effects always end up being much higher in reality than in clinical trials. It might explain, for example, why muscle pain is a massively common side effect of statins in the real world, while being vanishingly rare in the statin trials (as Dr. Malcolm Kendrick has written about in detail).

A study recently published in the Lancet Healthy Longevity sought to estimate the extent to which drug trials underestimate side effects. It was funded by the UK Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust. The study chose as its particular focus people being treated for high blood pressure with a certain class of blood pressure lowering drugs known as RAAS blockers (which includes all drugs with names ending in -pril and all drugs with names ending in -sartan). The advantage with looking at this particular class of drugs is that there are a ton of trials. Every major pharmaceutical company has its own RAAS-blocker. It should therefore be possible to draw relatively broad conclusions about the results – whatever they show, they apply to the entire pharmaceutical industry, not just to a few specific companies. It’s also reasonable to think that the results apply to other classes of drugs too – there’s no reason to think trials of RAAS-blockers have been done differently than trials of other drug classes.

What the study sought to do more specifically was compare the rate of serious adverse events in clinical trials of RAAS-blockers with the rate observed in the real world. A serious adverse event is any event that is potentially life threatening or that results in death, hospitalization or lasting disability. If a trial has been designed in such a way that it is representative of reality, then the rate of serious adverse events in the trial should largely mirror that seen in the real world.

110 trials of RAAS-blockers were identified by the researchers. Of these, 11 were specifically designed to look at older people (i.e. didn’t recruit anyone under the age of 60). The data on serious adverse events from these 110 trials was extracted and compared to real world data on deaths and hospitalizations taken from a UK government funded database of 55,000 people living in Wales, who were being treated with RAAS-blockers. Deaths and hospitalizations are not exactly the same thing as serious adverse events (which as mentioned above also include “life threatening events”, and could for example include someone who is treated in an emergency department after a fall but not admitted to the hospital), but they’re close enough to allow a reasonable comparison.

So, what were the results?

Let’s begin with comparing the trials of older people with the “standard” trials. The relative rate of serious adverse events in the trials of older people was 76% higher than the rate in the standard trials. This shows the importance of including elderly people in drug trials – they are much more likely to experience adverse events of all kinds (including those actually caused by the drug being tested), and excluding them will therefore likely underestimate side effects.

Considering that many of the drugs in common use show marginal benefits at best (statins have, for example, only been shown to prolong life by a few days on average), this is important information. Why? Because a drug that is beneficial, on balance, to a fifty year old, who has a fully functioning kidney and liver, and is therefore unlikely to suffer side effects, could easily be harmful, on balance, to an 80 year old.

That’s why drug studies done on younger people should not be used to guide treatment of older people. No shock there. Everyone already knows that we shouldn’t be extrapolating results from one group to another (even though it happens all the time, as we’ve seen most recently with the covid vaccine trials).

Next we come to the more important, and perhaps more shocking finding.

The real world patients were between 300% and 400% more likely to experience a serious event than the participants in the trials! That is in spite of the fact that the trials, as mentioned above, were using a broader definition of what constituted a serious event. If the trials were representative of reality, then they should have a higher rate of events than is seen in the real world data. Instead they have a rate that is several times lower!

Interestingly, the trials of older people were just as far from the real world results as the trials of younger people. Clearly, doing trials on the elderly is not enough on its own to produce trials that are representative of reality. What’s happening here exactly?

There are three possible explanations, as far as I can see. The first explanation is that the trials are representative of reality, but that the Welsh die and are hospitalized at a rate that is several times higher than people in the countries where the studies were conducted. Many of the trials were conducted in the US, not in Wales. But Wales has a higher life expectancy than the United States, so that seems unlikely. I think we can discount that explanation.

The second explanation is that the trials are unrepresentative in so many different ways that just correcting the age issue doesn’t make a noticeable difference. That’s probably part of the explanation. The average age even in the trials of “older people” was 73, which isn’t very old from my perspective. And those 73 year olds included in the trials were probably at the healthier end of the spectrum.

The third, more sinister explanation, is that the pharmaceutical companies are hiding serious adverse events… But wait a minute, the trials are randomized and blinded, so the people running the drug trials have no way of knowing if someone experiencing a possible side effect is in the treatment group or the placebo group, right?

Yes, that’s right, so the easiest solution, if you want to avoid finding nasty side effects, is to not report them, regardless of which treatment group the participant is in. That will cut down on total adverse events in both groups, which will make any difference between the groups that does exist smaller in absolute terms, and also less likely to reach the level of statistical significance. Voila – the treatment group and the placebo group end up having similar rates of side effects, and the drug company can conclude that the drug is completely safe.

Is that what’s happened here? Are the pharmaceutical companies hiding adverse events? Well, it’s very strange that the real world data shows a rate of serious adverse events that is several times higher than is found in the trials. It’s hard to see how that massive difference could be explained in any other way.

So, how big a problem is this?

Big. Very big. It should shake the very foundations of evidence based medicine. If the drug trials and the real world data show such wildly different rates of adverse events, then it really begs the question how much we can trust the trials at all. It would be perfectly reasonable in this situation to say that all “evidence” produced by pharmaceutical companies is so suspect that it should be dismissed out of hand, and that only independently funded trials should be used as a basis for medical treatment decisions.

The problem with that is that it would mean saying goodbye to most of the trials that form the basis of modern medical treatment, and there is not much to replace them with. This issue could be solved over the longer term through large tax payer funded investments in new independent trials. But there’s no quick fix.

The problem is most acute when it comes to the many drugs in common use that only show marginal benefits, such as statins. If the rate of side effects is actually 300% to 400% higher than seen in the trials, then the harms of these drugs could easily outweigh the benefits. In other words, the cost-benefit calculation could shift entirely for many of the most commonly used drugs.

Ok, let’s wrap this up. What can we conclude?

Drug trials do no accurately represent rates of adverse events. It is likely that the true rate of side effects is often many times higher than that seen in drug trials.

July 19, 2021 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | 1 Comment

COVID-19 Mortality Rate Among Children Is Even Lower Than Previously Thought

By Noah Carl • Daily Sceptic • July 19, 2021

We’ve known since the early weeks of the pandemic that age is the single best predictor of COVID-19 mortality, and that the risk of death for young people is vanishingly small.

letter in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that zero Swedish children aged 1–16 died of COVID-19 up to the end of June 2020. And only 15 were admitted to the ICU, of whom four had a serious underlying health condition.

Of course, England is a much larger country than Sweden, and it’s been a whole other year since those Swedish data were collected. So how many English children have died of COVID-19?

In an unpublished study, Clare Smith and colleagues sought to identify the number of COVID-19 deaths among people aged under 18 between March 2020 and February 2021. They examined data from the National Child Mortality Database, which was linked to testing data from Public Health England and comorbidity data from national hospital admissions.

The structure of their dataset allowed the authors to distinguish deaths that were plausibly from COVID-19 and deaths that were merely with COVID-19.

3,105 under 18s died from all causes in England during the relevant time period. 61 of these involved people who had tested positive for the virus. However, the authors determined that only 25 were actually caused by COVID-19. And of the 25, 76% had a serious underlying health condition.

Given that an estimated 469,982 under 18s were infected with the virus up to February of 2021, the survival rate in this age-group (the inverse of the IFR) was 99.995%. What’s more, 99.2% of total deaths were caused by things other than COVID-19.

Smith and colleagues’ findings underline just how small a risk COVID-19 poses to young people, and hence – I would argue – why a focussed protection strategy was preferable to blanket lockdowns.

As early as 10th April 2020, Martin Kulldorff – co-author of the Great Barrington Declaration – published an article on LinkedIn titled ‘COVID-19 Counter Measures Should be Age Specific’.

Based on the data that were then available, he estimated one would need to stop 3.5 million children being exposed in order to prevent the same number of deaths as one could prevent by shielding 1,000 people in their 70s. He argued, therefore, that COVID counter-measures must vary by age.

A similar argument was made by George Davey Smith and David Spiegelhalter in a piece for The BMJ last May. These authors called for “stratified shielding”, while noting that this would “require a shift away from the notion that we are all seriously threatened by the disease”.

According to the medical researcher Russell Viner, who spoke to Nature, “There’s a general feeling among paediatricians that probably too many children were shielded during the first wave”. And the epidemiologist Elizabeth Whittaker said that efforts to shield children “have probably caused more stress and anxiety for families than benefit.”

In addition to “stress and anxiety”, there’s also the learning losses associated with months of online teaching. All this compared to the marginal impact closing schools had on the spread of COVID-19.

When we look back at the response to COVID, serious questions will have to be asked about the costs of lockdown, not only to society in general, but to young people in particular.

July 19, 2021 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

The WHO Declares all PCR Tests at High CT to be Potentially 100% False Positives

By Judy Wilyman PhD | Vaccine Decisions | July 13, 2021

In December 2020 the WHO declared that any result from a RT-PCR test that was amplified at a high cycle threshold (CT) e.g. above 35 CT is potentially 100% false positive.  This leads us to question all the reported ‘cases’ of COVID19 disease  in Australia in 2020. This is because Australia has reported that it uses this PCR test at a CT of 40-45  and most of the reported ‘cases’ were people without symptoms. 

The question now is ‘What cycle threshold is the Australian government using in 2021?’ Has it been reduced at the same time as the vaccine was introduced to give the appearance that the vaccine has caused a decline in the cases of this disease?

The WHO says that in 2021 a manual readjustment of the PCR positivity threshold must be done to account for background noise in specimens with high cycle thresholds. 

There is no transparency in the use of this test that is now allowing government’s globally to claim that healthy people, without disease symptoms, are an asymptomatic case of disease. This also enables the government to claim that healthy people are a risk to society. This is criminal and this PCR test is not a diagnostic tool for any disease.

Many doctors and scientists are stating this and they are being ignored and censored. Here is the inventor of the test, Kary Mullis, also stating ‘it is not a diagnostic test‘. It should never be used when symptoms are not also present.

Traditionally doctors were taught to diagnose disease on a collection of symptoms and the PCR test was sometimes a supportive, but not a diagnostic, tool. This has all changed in 2020 to be able to claim that healthy people are now the cause of these diseases and this has been achieved without having to provide any supportive evidence for this claim.

In addition, it is these ‘cases’ that have been used by the government to enact the emergency powers. Yet the definition of a pandemic that is based on an increase in ‘cases’ of a disease has not been validated by the scientific community. It is not a scientific definition if it has not been validated by the community of scientists – not just elite individuals.

The case-tracing of healthy people with QR codes is fraudulent and it is enabling more ‘cases’ of disease to be obtained and more people to be locked up and falsely declared a ‘case’ of disease. This is industry-pseudoscience and it has all come about because the WHO allowed a small group of individuals, with financial conflicts of interest with industry, to adopt an unscientific definition of a ‘global pandemic’. 

This makes the use of the emergency powers invalid and all the directives that have been enacted to control this non-pandemic of a flu-like illness. Please read the full article describing the unscientific definition of a pandemic that has been used by governments and also watch the interview with Elizabeth Hart on Asia Pacific Today. This interview describes the full extent of the Australian government’s conflicts of interest in promoting an untested drug in the population. She also describes the complicity of the mainstream media and research institutions in this fabricated and well planned ‘pandemic’ event.

This crime against the population has also been perpetuated by governments deliberately suppressing the treatments for respiratory viruses that are known to be beneficial. Here is Craig Kelly presenting his evidence of this suppression in an empty Australian parliament. This picture illustrates the type of ‘democracy’ that we have in Australia today. The people’s voice is not being heard by our government.

In this video, Dr. David Martin explains to the International Criminal Court that there was nothing novel about the 2019 coronavirus. This is because it had been patented between 2008 – 2017 under gain of function research carried out in the US and in Wuhan, China. In addition, the fact that it was a mutated coronavirus means that humans would be expected to have some previous immunity to this virus because these are  a family of common respiratory viruses that cause the common cold.

It is now clear that this is a ‘pandemic’ in name only. This is why there is no evidence of enormous numbers of deaths and illness in the community. The WHO could not have declared this to be a ‘global pandemic’ in 2020, if the definition of a pandemic had not been changed in 2009.

The ‘cases’ of disease that the media is presenting are healthy people who have had a PCR test but have no symptoms. It is these cases in healthy people that are being used to close borders and quarantine healthy people. This is a media campaign using statistics out of context to encourage the community to accept the governments new regulations that restrict our fundamental rights and freedoms, ultimately harming our health and wellbeing.

July 19, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science | , | 1 Comment

Is the Delta variant spreading only in highly vaccinated countries? No.

Does Delta spread only in vaccinated countries? No. (Corona Realism)
Swiss Policy Research | July 18, 2021

A highly viral tweet by “Corona Realism” is making the following claim: “Something really odd is going on: In Europe we are seeing surges at many places where most of the population has already been vaccinated. At the same time, the 15 least vaccinated countries don‘t seem to face any problem. At some point, denying this problem will get painful.”

In reality, the “least vaccinated countries” shown above are simply the Eastern European countries, whose infection cycle has always been delayed compared to Western Europe. They already missed the first spring wave in 2020, which led to the notorious misinterpretation that they were protected by (useless) face masks. Back then, the chief pathologist of Bulgaria famously claimed that covid was a hoax; today, Bulgaria has one of the highest covid death rates in Europe. Vaccination rates in Eastern Europe are lower than in Western Europe primarily for economic reasons.

To make the deception work, “Corona Realism” had to leave out some highly vaccinated countries in Eastern Europe (notably Hungary, Poland and Czechia), whose infection rates are as low as in the rest of Eastern Europe; and he had to leave out the many countries with a low vaccination rate severely affected by Delta, notably Russia as well as many Asian and even African countries. In fact, in many countries with a low vaccination rate, Delta covid deaths have reached an all-time record level.

In conclusion, while many “public health experts” got almost everything wrong during the covid pandemic, skeptics should remain careful not to fall for some of the same fallacies.

See also“Vaccine failure”? Not really. (updated section on several false claims)

Figure: Delta deaths in some Southeast Asian countries

Delta deaths in some Southeast Asian countries with a low vaccination rate.

Delta deaths in some Southeast Asian countries (OWD)

See also:

July 19, 2021 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | | 1 Comment

I’ve Absolutely No Obligation To The So-Called Vulnerable

By Richie Allen | July 19, 2021

The vulnerable are out in force this morning. Today is July 19th. It’s Freedom Day apparently. The government has removed the legal requirement to wear a mask and to maintain social distancing. The vulnerable are worried.

BBC Breakfast and SKY News have been speaking to vulnerable people this morning. These are people with various illnesses that have left them immunosuppressed. They’re not happy about opening up, at least the ones on tv and radio this morning.

One young woman who has aplastic anemia, told SKY’s Kay Burley that the removal of restrictions puts her in danger. She said that people who ditch their masks today, are selfish.

Last week, a man called in to LBC radio to say that his wife was recovering from cancer and that she was vulnerable. He said that as she needed to use the underground to commute, people should continue to wear face coverings on her behalf and on behalf of other vulnerable people.

I had a heated argument with a wheelchair-bound woman in May of last year. Don’t laugh. It wasn’t my finest hour. The woman has cerebral palsy. She works for a local company. I like her, but we got into it over lockdown.

As she saw it, I had a moral responsibility to stay indoors as much as I could tolerate, to lessen her chances of catching covid-19. She said that I was selfish and irresponsible for doing as I liked and not wearing a mask.

I asked her if she was prepared to engage in a bit of quid pro quo and help me pay my mortgage. She looked at me as if I’d gone mad. Game over. By the way, when I say heated, I don’t mean shouting and swearing. It was a robust exchange.

I bet you that most so-called vulnerable folk couldn’t name their next door neighbours if you asked them. I bet you their eyes would glaze over if you asked them when was the last time they had a neighbour over for dinner.

Funny that isn’t it? Those who are demanding that strangers turn their lives upside-down so that they can feel protected, most probably couldn’t give a shit about the people who live around them.

It’s crazy when you really think about it. How dare you ask people to commit financial suicide and incidentally, make themselves physically and mentally unwell, so that you can feel safe? How bloody dare you insist that people have a potentially deadly injection just because you can’t?

If you want to live in perpetual fear and choose to view your fellow citizens as biological weapons, then have at it. That’s your personal choice. But I won’t indulge your fantasy.

Neither will I commit self harm to assuage your irrational fears. I owe you nothing. I have no obligation to you whatsoever.

I’m a very good neighbour. My philosophy is do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I turn my music off at 8pm. I turn down the telly. Our dog is trained, meaning that she is quiet. I’m out and about at dawn, when most people are in bed. I don’t make a sound.

I do not engage in any activity that has a negative impact on others. I am selfless by nature.

But I will not wear a facemask in public, just in case there is an immunosuppressed person nearby. Nor will I confine myself to my home. That is preposterous. I accept no responsibility for your wellbeing whatsoever, the exception being when I am behind the wheel of my car.

If you’re unfortunate enough to be so ill that you are vulnerable to infection, you have my genuine sympathy. But tough shit Paddy. Those are the breaks. That’s life. You and you alone are responsible for your health. If you think it’s a bit too risky to go outside or jump on a train, you act accordingly. But don’t expect me to walk on eggshells for the rest of my life. It ain’t a rehearsal you know.

July 19, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , | 3 Comments

The Origin of the Species – and of our Viral Issue!

The Fat Emperor | March 2, 2021

Pure gold is all I can say for Episode 110 – that’s what this conversation is!

The New York Times, WSJ and all of the media have mused about the origins of this virus – well here we explain the actual science and data, and what IT actually tells us 🙂

Jump straight into the origins discussion here: https://youtu.be/jPNu8sOU5RM?t=591

NOTE: My extensive research and interviewing/video/sound editing and much more does require support – please consider helping if you can with monthly donation or one-off payment – simply use the following link: https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=69ZSTYXBMCN3W

… or join up at my Patreon Link: https://www.patreon.com/IvorCummins

July 19, 2021 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, Video | | Leave a comment

Israel Was First Nation to Skyjack A Civilian Airliner

By Donald Neff | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs | November/December 1994, Pages 71-72

It was 40 years ago that Israel conducted the first skyjacking of a civilian airliner. On Dec. 12, 1954, Israeli warplanes forced a Syrian Airways Dakota passenger craft carrying four passengers and five crewmen to land at Lydda airport inside Israel.1 The passengers were interrogated for two days before international protests, including strong complaints from Washington, finally convinced Israel to release the plane and its passengers.2

Moshe Sharett, who as Israel’s foreign minister had to explain the incident to the international community, was privately appalled by it. He recorded in his diary: “I have no reason to doubt the truth of the factual affirmation of the U.S. State Department that our action was without precedent in the history of international practice. What shocks and worries me is the narrow-mindedness and the short-sightedness of our military leaders. They seem to presume that the state of Israel may—or even must—behave in the realm of international relations according to the laws of the jungle.”3

The purpose of the unprecedented skyjacking, according to Sharett, was Chief of Staff Moshe Dayan’s ambition “to get hostages in order to obtain the release of our prisoners in Damascus.”4 The reference was to an incident that had occurred four days earlier. Five Israeli soldiers were captured retrieving tapping devices on Syrian telephone lines on the Golan Heights inside Syria. Israel expressed outrage at the imprisonment of the soldiers but Syria refused to release them. 5

Israeli passions were riled even further the next month when one of the Israeli soldiers, Uri Ilan, son of a former Mapam member of parliament, committed suicide in jail on Jan. 13, 1955. Although the Israeli press loudly charged Syria with torture, an examination by the United Nations showed “no signs of physical ill-treatment.”6

But still Syria refused to release the prisoners, pointing out that Israel was holding Syrian civilians prisoner. The impasse contributed to an even graver incident toward the end of the year. On Dec. 11, 1955, Israel sent two paratroop battalions backed by artillery and mortar batteries under the command of Ariel Sharon, later Israel’s defense minister, against Syrian military posts at Buteiha Farm and Koursi near the northeast shore of Lake Tiberias.

It was Israel’s largest military raid inside Syria up to that time and resulted in 56 Syrian deaths, including three women, and nine wounded. Significantly Israel also took 30 prisoners, whom it later used as hostages to exchange for the four Israelis held by Syria.The United States expressed its “shock” at the raid and supported a resolution by the United Nations Security Council that unanimously condemned Israel for its “flagrant violation” of the armistice agreement.8

French Ambassador to the U.N. Herv Alphand observed that the condemnation resolution of Israel was “the strongest ever passed by the council.”It was the fifth time the council had condemned, censured, called on and otherwise passed resolutions critical of Israel.

Israel insisted the raid was simply in retaliation for Syrian troops firing at an Israeli patrol boat on Lake Tiberias the previous day, in which there had been no casualties. But the explanation was widely disbelieved. Canadian General E.L.M. Burns, the chief of staff of the United Nations Truce Supervisory Organization, bluntly wrote:

“No one with any knowledge of military affairs would believe that such an elaborate, coordinated attack had not been planned well before, and probably rehearsed. Certainly it was not improvised in a few hours…. The reasons given by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ statement were only an excuse, and not a very good one.”10

In fact, like most major actions in the Middle East, there was far more than just retaliation behind the raid. At the time, it was widely suspected that Israel’s main motive in launching the heavy attack was primarily to punish Syria for keeping the four Israeli soldiers prisoners. But it turned out that was just one of the reasons. Israeli historian Benny Morris reports that primarily the attack was meant as a provocation to goad Egypt into attacking Israel and thus start a war. “This,” wrote Morris, “was the thinking behind the strike.”11

The timing was dictated by two events during the previous three months: Egypt and Syria had signed a mutual defense pact on Oct. 20, 1955, and on Sept. 27 Egypt had announced its historic “Czech” arms deal, shocking Israel by the fact that Egypt was about to start receiving massive quantities of Soviet weapons. In the event, Egypt did not respond to the attack on the Golan and Israel had to wait nearly another year before taking on itself the burden of attacking Egypt to start a war.

ANOTHER MOTIVE

There was also another motive behind the attack. It had to do with Israel’s long- term policy to establish exclusive control over Lake Tiberias, the biblical Sea of Galilee, which lay within Israeli territory, and the three demilitarized zones (DMZs) that lay along the Israeli-Syrian frontier in the Jordan Valley.

Palestinians and Syrians insisted on fishing in the lake and were a constant source of friction, especially during mid-November to mid-April, which marked the official fishing season. Israel denied Arabs had any rights to fish there, citing the fact that the Mandate governments over Palestine and Syria had agreed in the 1920s that the frontier followed the east shore of the lake at a distance set back 10 meters parallel to the water.

However, the Arabs countered that under Anglo-French agreements of Feb. 3, 1922, June 23, 1923 and Feb. 2, 1926, Syrians were given “the same fishing and navigation rights on Lakes Huleh and Tiberias… as the inhabitants of Palestine” and also the right to “enjoy grazing, watering and cultivations rights” and to “cross the frontier freely.”12

Nonetheless, Israel insisted on keeping Arab fishermen away from the lake, by force if necessary. It further lacerated relations with Syria by chasing Palestinian farmers out of the DMZs near the lake in violation of the truce of 1949, which held the farmers should be allowed to remain. Israel’s forceful takeover of the DMZs left the Palestinian farmers and fishermen denied access to their fields or fishing grounds embittered and angry. A later UNTSO chief of staff, Norwegian General Odd Bull, who served during the 1960s, wrote:

“I imagine that a number of those evicted settled somewhere in the Golan Heights and that their children have watched the land that had been in their families for hundreds of years being cultivated by Israeli farmers. From time to time they opened fire on these farmers. That, of course, was a violation of the armistice agreement, though I could not help thinking that in similar circumstances Norwegian peasants would almost certainly have acted in the same way. In the course of time all the Arab villages [in the DMZs] disappeared.”13

So too did the Arab fishermen. In 1967 Israel conquered the whole area, including the Golan Heights, and chased out all of the Arabs. It is Israel’s continuing occupation of this land that today remains the major impediment to peace between Israel and Syria.

Recommended Reading:

Bull, Odd, War and Peace in the Middle East: The Experiences and Views of a U.N. Observer, London, Leo Cooper, 1976.

Burns, Lt. Gen. E. L. M., Between Arab and Israeli, New York, Ivan Obolensky, 1962.

Chomsky, Noam, The Fateful Triangle, Boston, South End Press, 1983.

*Chomsky, Noam, Pirates & Emperors: International Terrorism in the Real World, Brattleboro, VT, Amana Books, 1986.

Khouri, Fred J., The Arab-Israeli Dilemma, Syracuse, NY, Syracuse University Press, 1985.

Morris, Benny, The Birth of the Palestine Refugee Problem, New York, Cambridge University Press, 1987.

Morris, Benny, Israel’s Border Wars: 1949-1956, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1993.

*Neff, Donald, Warriors at Suez: Eisenhower Takes America Into the Middle East, Brattleboro, VT, Amana Books, 1988.

Rokach, Livia, Israel’s Sacred Terrorism: A Study Based on Moshe Sharett’s Personal Diary and Other Documents, Belmont, MA, Association of Arab-American University Graduates, Inc., 1980.

Von Horn, Carl, Soldiering for Peace, New York, David McKay Company, Inc., 1967.

Notes:

New York Times, 12/13/54.

2 Associated Press, New York Times, 12/15/54.

3 Rokach, Israel’s Sacred Terrorism, pp. 20-21. For an analysis of Sharett’s lengthy diaries, see “Secrets of State: An Analysis of the Diaries of Moshe Sharett,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Autumn 1980, pp. 35-57.

4 Chomsky, Pirates and Emperors, p. 84.

5 Morris, Israel’s Border Wars, p. 366.

6 Burns, Between Arab and Israeli, p. 109.

Ibid., p. 108; Morris, Israel’s Border Wars, p. 366n.

8 Resolution 111. The text is in Tomeh, George J., United Nations Resolutions on Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: 1947-1974, Washington, DC, Institute for Palestine Studies, 1975, p. 137; the text of the U.S. statement is in Boudreault, Jody and Eric Fortin, U.S. Official Statements: The Golan Heights, Washington, DC, Institute for Palestine Studies, 1993, pp. 27-28.

9 Neff, Warriors for Jerusalem, 118.

10 Burns, Between Arab and Israeli , p. 108.

11 Morris, Israel’s Border Wars, p. 364.

12 Khouri, The Arab-Israeli Dilemma, p. 194.

13 Bull, War and Peace in the Middle East, pp. 50-51.

*Available through the AET Book Club

Donald Neff is author of the Warriors trilogy on U.S.-Middle East relations and of the unpublished Middle East Handbook, a chronological data bank of significant events affecting U.S. policy and the Middle East on which this article is based. His books are available through the AET Book Club.

July 19, 2021 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment