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Russian ships are in the Channel! Don’t let coronavirus pandemic stop establishment Russophobia

By Neil Clark | RT | March 26, 2020

Even during the Covid-19 crisis the Russian scare card is being played in the UK. While flights from virus hotspots continue to land unchecked, the British media is fussing about Russian ships’ ‘high activity’ in the Channel.

As if we Brits didn’t have enough to worry about. We’re in lockdown over coronavirus but now we also have to fear the evil Putin taking advantage of the situation and launching a full-scale naval invasion of the country. Well, that’s what you might be thinking if you’ve been watching today’s news.

Sky News Breaking informed its audience that Royal Navy ships have been shadowing seven Russian warships following “unusually high levels of activity” in the Channel and North Sea.

This raises fears, we’re told, that Putin may be seeking to exploit our current situation. “This really underlines concerns by senior officials about how this coronavirus pandemic across the world is a huge distraction for governments and could potentially be exploited by adversaries,” explained Sky’s foreign affairs editor Deborah Haynes.

The news was first announced in a Royal Navy tweet today as if it was fresh, but Haynes then tweeted to say that actually the “shadowing” ended a week ago.

So why weren’t we told about it all seven days ago? Arguably, people will be more alarmed at the news of “Russian warships in the Channel” when it comes out during a ‘lockdown’. How dreadful of Putin to think of invading us at such a time when we’re grounded in our own homes and running out of toilet paper! How utterly unsporting. I bet you the blighter has never played cricket!

But hang on a minute, Carruthers old bean. The Russian ships were actually in international waters. They had every right to be where they were. The Straits of Dover, the narrowest part of the Channel does, it’s true, lie wholly within the territorial waters of Britain and France, but there is a right of transit passage under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. It is of course a great pity that ships passing the Straits no longer have to dip their flag and lower their topsails in salute to the English, but times move on.

The truth of the matter is that the Russians, whether or not seven ships is ‘usual’ or ‘unusual’, weren’t doing anything wrong. If they had suddenly changed direction and started heading up the Thames, then of course it would be different, but they didn’t. So what’s the fuss?
Also on rt.com Russiagate all over again: Secret EU report blames Russia for coronavirus ‘confusion, panic and fear’

Rather than get all Lance-Corporal Jones-style panicky about three Steregushchiy-class corvettes, two Ropucha-class landing ships and two Admiral Grigorovich-class frigates passing the south coast, and their crews coughing and sneezing on no one, we should, I think, be rather more concerned by the fact that flights from Covid-19 hotspots are still arriving unchecked at UK airports.

Where’s the outcry about that? Isn’t it crazy given the current situation that people can still come into Britain from places like Madrid, Rome and Tehran? According to Heathrow Airport’s website four flights landed from Madrid today. There’s been over 4,000 Covid-19 deaths so far in Spain and more than 56,000 confirmed cases. At the time of writing a flight is due in from Frankfurt. The number of German coronavirus cases stood yesterday at 37,323. At 14.10 GMT a flight landed from Tehran. The number of Iranian deaths from Coronavirus went up by 143 yesterday to 2,077.

Why are we being encouraged to be more concerned about Russian ships in international waters than we are about flights bringing potentially infected people into the UK? The whole thing is plain (or should that be ‘plane’) barmy.

March 27, 2020 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | | 1 Comment

US State Dept accuses China of putting conditions on Covid-19 aid, cites media when pressed on proof

RT | March 27, 2020

The US State Department has accused Beijing of attaching “strings” to aid given to countries battling Covid-19, but was unable to name specifics, only citing press reports, while also invoking a Chinese “coverup.”

Senior State Department official James Richardson – who runs the Office of Foreign Assistance Resources – levied the charges to reporters during a briefing on Thursday night. Calling on China to provide “no-strings-attached” assistance, Richardson suggested Beijing had placed conditions on its coronavirus aid. When asked to elaborate, however, the official punted, confessing he had no specific evidence and was merely relaying what he read in the media.

“On the strings attached, I mean, I’m not the intelligence folks, so I don’t know what exactly has been proven,” Richardson said. “I read the same articles that you do… And so I think – I don’t have any hard proof besides the articles that I’ve seen, but that certainly rings true.”

The official also made a passing reference to “the coverup that happened in Wuhan” – the Chinese city where Covid-19 was first observed. Though he was not pressed to provide further details, reports in US media have accused China of concealing information in the early stages of its outbreak. Most pointed to Li Wenliang, a Wuhan doctor who was reprimanded by Chinese authorities over “spreading rumors” about the virus in early December. Later, an investigation by the country’s anti-corruption agency determined that Li, who later died of the illness, did not seek to undermine public order. However, the report noted that the doctor failed to verify his data before sharing it, stating his information was “not consistent” with the situation on the ground at the time.

A State Department cable recently obtained by the Daily Beast contains language nearly identical to Richardson’s remarks, part of a department-wide effort to pin a “coverup” on Beijing. The cable also instructs officials to insist that China has a “special responsibility” to provide aid to other afflicted nations, a phrase repeated verbatim by Richardson during Thursday’s briefing.

Beijing has responded to allegations of a coverup, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Suang arguing last week that his country has provided “timely information” about the virus, noting that even US President Donald Trump – a frequent critic of China – had deemed the data “helpful.” Earlier this month, Chinese authorities also acknowledged that punishing Dr. Li was an error, issuing a “solemn apology” to the man’s family and noting that the police officers who threatened him with arrest had been disciplined.

As the US steps up attacks on China and its response to the pandemic, however, a number of other countries have turned to Beijing for aid. To date, the government – as well as Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, co-founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba – has distributed medical supplies to France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Iran, Iraq, the Philippines, and even the United States.

China has largely seen the worst of its own Covid-19 outbreak, reporting only one new case of the illness beyond those imported from abroad on Friday. The virus continues to accelerate elsewhere, however, with the US becoming the world’s largest epicenter on Thursday, while new infections also soar across Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere in Asia.

March 27, 2020 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | 1 Comment

This scientist suggested a drug to treat Covid-19. ‘Fact checkers’ branded him fake news

French professor Didier Raoult, director of IHU Mediterranee Infection Institute in Marseille, pictured on February 26, 2020
By Nebojsa Malic | RT | March 26, 2020

Amid a pandemic panic over the coronavirus, evidence for a possibly effective treatment has been denounced as ‘fake news’ – even when offered by a renowned scientist with decades of experience.

Take Didier Raoult, a French microbiologist with undeniable expertise, even if some of his views are about as eccentric as his appearance. Though he may look like he just stepped out of an Alexandre Dumas novel, the director of the Mediterranean University Hospital Institute in Marseille cited not one but three different studies from China showing that the anti-malaria drug called chloroquine has been effective in treating Covid-19 patients.

That did not stop Le Monde, France’s biggest newspaper, of declaring his February 25 video as “partially false.” Raoult’s ‘sin’ was to argue that the common anti-malaria drug used widely for decades resulted in “dramatic improvements” among those afflicted by the virus.

As a result of Le Monde’s fact-check, anyone attempting to share Dr. Raoult’s videos on Facebook gets a banner saying the information therein was “partially false” as “determined by independent fact-checkers.”

The main argument put forward by those critical of the drug is that more testing is required before it can be officially approved as treatment for the coronavirus. As the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) puts it, “There are no currently available data from Randomized Clinical Trials… to inform clinical guidance on the use, dosing, or duration of hydroxychloroquine” treatments for Covid-19.

Which is fair enough, but last time I checked, there was a pandemic going on, with billions of people locked in their homes and all business grinding to a halt across the globe, over apocalyptic predictions of hospitals brimming with corpses due to this coronavirus.

Should any kind of treatment – especially a drug that has been used safely for decades to treat something else, with side effects meticulously documented – be so cavalierly rejected, under the circumstances? Do “experts” really think the world has the luxury of waiting for months or even years for their controlled lab studies?

As for the fact-checkers, shouldn’t they have applied the same rigor to the models used to scare everyone into hoarding toilet paper and setting off a depression orders of magnitude worse than anything the world has ever seen?

To ask these questions is to answer them, yet no one seems to bother. Nor is this sort of selective blindness endemic to France; across the Atlantic, the mainstream media raised their voices in unison against chloroquine after US President Donald Trump brought it up as a possible treatment – apparently referring to Dr. Raoult’s work.

They went so far as to widely circulate a deliberately misleading story about an Arizona couple that ate fish tank cleaner – chloroquine phosphate, clearly labeled not for human consumption – as somehow Trump’s fault. Some of them quietly amended it to specify the difference, but long after the original story – implying they took the actual medication praised by the president – literally went viral and poisoned the minds of millions.

Worse yet, as a result of this media blitz, the governor of Nevada actually banned using chloroquine to treat Covid-19 patients this week, saying there was “no consensus among experts or Nevada doctors” that the anti-malaria drug can treat coronavirus sufferers. There were no angry editorials denouncing Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, for letting people die of the coronavirus rather than have them treated with a drug endorsed by the Republican president and the media’s favorite hate object.

One would think the world paralyzed with fear of the invisible death would pounce on every possible solution, no matter how unlikely it seems. That’s what we’re shown in Hollywood disaster movies, after all. Yet when such a solution presents itself, it is dismissed and denounced as “not proven”!

We’re supposed to blindly trust apocalyptic models produced by panic-mongering political hacks, but ignore the man who says the drug brought him back from the brink of death, even though his story can be easily verified and theirs cannot.

“Preferring opinions to facts is a disease,” Dr. Raoult told the French magazine Marianne last week. Just so.

I don’t know if hydroxychloroquine works on Covid-19. Dr. Raoult seems to believe so, and he’s not alone. In the absence of better solutions – and locking billions of people in their homes indefinitely is not one – don’t we owe humanity to at least try? What do we have to lose?

In the three months or so since the coronavirus first appeared in China, there has been a lot of conflicting, confusing and outright false information about it. One thing that has consistently proven true, however, is that the biggest obstacle in effectively battling its spread and treating the afflicted has been the obtuse insistence of the political and medical establishment on blindly following their rules. If the virus is truly threatening to kill millions, as they say, they would not value procedures over saving lives. Nevertheless, they persist. It makes one wonder why.

Nebojsa Malic is a Serbian-American journalist, blogger and translator, who wrote a regular column for Antiwar.com from 2000 to 2015, and is now senior writer at RT. Follow him on Twitter @NebojsaMalic

March 26, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

Moscow slams HRW chief for touting story on Russia’s rich grabbing life-saving ventilators

‘We need joint action, not fake news’

RT | March 24, 2020

Russia’s top diplomat in the US has demanded the Human Rights Watch chief stops spreading misinformation about Russia’s readiness to fight Covid-19, after he touted an article claiming it’s letting the wealthy buy up ventilators.

Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s envoy in Washington, has penned a scathing rebuke to the group’s executive director, Kenneth Roth, who tweeted that the Kremlin was “doing nothing to stop wealthy Russians from buying up ventilators,” all that while “leaving ordinary Russians with a likely shortage of this life-saving equipment.”

Roth’s tweet was based on a report by the Moscow Times citing interviews with medical experts and anonymous “wealthy individuals,” said to be on the hunt for the coveted ventilators that help coronavirus-stricken patients breathe.

Although the article itself states that “Russia appears to be in a better starting position than other countries when it comes to ventilators,” with 5,000 devices ready to treat Covid-19 patients in state-run Moscow hospitals alone and “an average of about 29 ventilators per 100,000 residents” available nationwide (as opposed to Italy’s 8 per 100,000), the piece mentions that the majority of life-saving medical equipment is concentrated in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

While that might prompt some concern, in reality, more than half of Russia’s 438 Covid-19 cases (262) have been reported in the capital, which is at the center of the country’s fight against the disease.

Firing back, Antonov said that Russia, which has so far been successful in containing the spread of the virus, has put “well-timed measures” in place that allowed it “to confront this new global threat far more effectively than in the countries that HRW generally avoids criticizing.”

“We urge the executive director of Human Rights Watch not to misinform his readers in New York and around the world about the activities of the Russian government in the fight against coronavirus infection.”

Antonov suggested that, instead of promoting “fake news” and inciting xenophobia and Russophobia, politicians and public figures in the US focus on pooling efforts with the rest of the international community to fend off the pandemic. “Today, more than ever, the combined efforts of the international community are important… Saving lives is the top priority now.”

March 24, 2020 Posted by | Fake News, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

How to Practice Proper Social Distancing – #PropagandaWatch

Corbett • 03/24/2020

We are being told to flatten the curve by practicing social distancing. We are being told to quarantine shame those who break the new societal taboos. So how exactly do you introduce entirely new cultural norms across much of the world in the space of just a few weeks? Watch and learn.

Podcast: Play in new window | Download | Embed

Watch this video on BitChute / Minds.com / YouTube

SHOW NOTES:
Man screams out window, makes international news

New Yorkers Do Their Part to Help ‘Flatten the Curve’ … by Yelling Out Their Windows

‘Quarantine shaming’: US navigates radical new social norms

Federal, local governments consider fines, prison to enforce social distancing

It’s Time To Reject “The New Normal”

Coronavirus Crackdown – Beware “the new normal”

We’re not going back to normal

The Propaganda Report – Normalizing Our Virtual Future, Olympics Postponed, New York Sex Advisory

WHO Changes ‘Social Distancing’ to ‘Physical Distancing’

March 24, 2020 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Video | Leave a comment

Amid viral pandemic UK photographer captures images of Canadian polar bear cubs

By Susan Crockford | Polar Bear Science | March 23, 2020

The Sun ran a photo-essay yesterday (22 March 2020, below) taken by a UK photographer who went to Wapusk National Park just south of Churchill, Manitoba in order to get much-coveted images of polar bear mothers and cubs newly emerged from winter maternity dens. The photos were said to have been taken “early last week” (16-17 March?).

Sun pb emerging with cubs feature 22 March 2020 lead photo

The trees in the photos are a give-away to the location: no other subpopulation regions except Western and Southern Hudson Bay are below the treeline. Scrubby little spruces but ‘trees’ nonetheless. Mothers in more northern regions won’t come out with their cubs until April.

The question is: what was this photographer thinking to travel to a remote Arctic location in the middle of a global pandemic?

Let’s just hope “Brian Matthews, 41, from Hartlepool, Co Durham” didn’t take the Chinese coronovirus with him when he went to Canada. By the end of February, it was quite apparent that something very serious was going on and travel was ill-advised.

I therefore found it surprising that with a deadly pandemic in play across the world, Mr Matthews was not only willing to risk exposing the aboriginal people who run these spring polar bear cub emergence tours to this novel virus but all other people he came in contact with along the way. Perhaps Sun reporter John Sturgis, responsible for putting the feature together, should have thought to ask. As it is, we don’t know the details: perhaps Matthew had been in Canada for weeks, well before the seriousness of the global situation was apparent.

Ultimately, however, his timing was lucky on this trip: at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday 19 March, Wapusk National Park was closed because of the Chinese virus and on Wednesday 18 March, Canada banned entry of virtually all non-Canadian travelers into the country.

Suggested reading:

Amstrup, S.C. and Gardner, C. 1994. Polar bear maternity denning in the Beaufort Sea. The Journal of Wildlife Management 58:1-10. http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/3809542?uid=3739400&uid=2&uid=3737720&uid=4&sid=21101008172123

Ramsay, M.A. and Stirling, I. 1988. Reproductive biology and ecology of female polar bears (Ursus maritimus). Journal of Zoology London 214:601-624. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1469-7998.1988.tb03762.x/abstract

Obbard, M. E. and Walton, L.R. 2004. The importance of polar bear provincial park to the southern Hudson Bay polar bear population in the context of future climate change. Proceedings of the Parks Research Forum of Ontario (PRFO):105-116. [added July 26, 2013] pdf here.

Van de Velde (OMI), F., Stirling, I. and Richardson, E. 2003. Polar bear (Ursus maritimus) denning in the area of the Simpson Peninsula, Nunavut. Arctic 56:191-197. http://arctic.synergiesprairies.ca/arctic/index.php/arctic/article/view/615

March 23, 2020 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

Russiagate: The Sequel

Impervious to facts, the false historical narrative is back for more

By Jason Hirthler | American Herald Tribune | March 23 ,2020

Famous muckraker journalist and author of The Jungle, Upton Sinclair, once declared that, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” He was talking about mainstream journalism. Few mainstream outlets better exemplify his maxim than The New York Times. It should then come as no surprise that the Times, the bible of the bourgeoisie, is at it again. The editorial board recently published a new article bringing the coronavirus and this year’s election under the sweeping banner of Russiagate, a tattered and discredited narrative that is being anxiously rehabilitated by the Washington establishment. But of course. The estimable “editorial board” tells us “conditions are ripe,” sending a shiver down the spine of every Biden liberal on either coast. But ripe for what? I think we all know the answer to that question by heart: “to sow discord”. Indeed that infamous epithet is sewn into the headline of the story, as though it had never left.

The first paragraph begins with the assumption that Russian disinformation in our election has been conclusively demonstrated, such that the question need not even be broached. To be clear: Russian disinformation at the express direction of the Kremlin. This whopping assumption taken as a foregone conclusion, we jump ahead to the next question: How will the Russians interfere this time around? Having established an unproven history as fact, the board then moves on to reupholster the sagging narrative from 2016. This time it won’t be the “bumbling” G.R.U., but rather the “more competent, stealthier” S.V.R. Now, with the SVR presumably involved (thought unconfirmed), we may expect “pernicious operational innovation and escalation” with the Russians descending to new lows to weaponize the coronavirus.

Look what’s already been accomplished. A false historical narrative has been posited as the context in which the latest news is shared. Then they introduced a tantalizing new security agency to the plot. Finally, they elevate the idea that “active measures” campaigns, resurrecting an old Soviet term, were not intended to elect Donald Trump, this having been effectively challenged, but rather to, one shudders to think, “weaken the United States.” This sweeping new storyline has been adumbrated in paragraph without providing a single piece of verifiable evidence.

And so, what to expect during this year’s “quadrennial extravaganza”, as Noam Chomsky drily described our electoral farce? Not having any solid evidence of any SVR plans, better to consult Soviet history for clues. The article then accuses the Soviets of a “racial engineering” campaign of anti-semitism in West Germany in 1959, in New York and the U.S. in 1960, and Africa shortly thereafter. Again, no evidence is provided. This is particularly strange that the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in East Germany would have launched an anti-semitic campaign in the West, given that it alone conducted a thoroughgoing purge of Nazis from its society, while the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) in the West happily integrated the surviving Nazi braintrust into its power structures, and sent not a few off to the States to lend their dastardly talents to our ‘democracy promotion’ agendas.  

It is then said, with resigned recognition, that one of the central problems with combatting devious active measures of this kind was that “the K.G.B. largely stuck to the facts.” Which continues to be an insidious feature of modern Russian ‘active measures’, like the channel RT, for example, which regularly hosts angry populist Americans who rattle off chains of facts one can’t find in the mainstream press. It often seems the establishment media is more irritated at the inconvenience of alternative narratives than their veracity. Another ‘throwback’ story is tossed into the pot, perhaps to conjure dormant nostalgia for the Cold War: cigar boxes packed with explosives are sent to a ritzy dinner party to kill a diplomat. Surely the cigars in question were Cohibas, perhaps autographed by Fidel himself?

Just as one is beginning to get excited about all these ‘active measures’, the authors draw us hastily back to sobering reality. We are now given an elementary lesson in amateur psychology: active measures are intended, it seems, to elicit “emotional” reactions and “corrode” the target. Evidently, the best way to do this is to drive a wedge between deeply democratic, multicultural societies in any of the major western utopias. Hence the racial engineering. It is also important to blame the U.S. for afflicting brown people abroad: such as spreading dengue fever in Cuba and malaria in Pakistan. The authors fail to unravel these charges since each is absurd on its face. Or such is the editorial board’s consensus, if not the reader’s. One imagines the board members chucking at the charges: As if the United States of America would ever attempt such a thing! But then again, since World War Two, the U.S. has tried to overthrow some 50 foreign governments, assassinate some 50 foreign leaders, either invade directly or by proxy or simply bomb 30+ countries, not to mention interfering in some 30 foreign elections, all this with the aim of destabilizing and disbanding populist movements around the world. Nobody embodies counterrevolutionary imperialism better than Washington and its vassals. But these facts are, as Sinclair would remind us, what the board and its authors are paid to forget. 

But back to the true evildoers, Russia. According to anonymous sources with no evidence to share, the Russians will harness the coronavirus to divide Americans from each other. The authors reference a discord-sowing campaign being run out of Ghana by a group called ELBA, uncovered by Facebook and CNN. A modest single-story yellow house with stone-fronting is shown in the linked CNN article, the worldwide headquarters of the ghastly ELBA “Russian trolls” who, stunningly, were not even aware they were Russian trolls. Most were Ghanaians. But such is the surreptitious and artful Kremlin craft. Ghanaian security forces raided the small house and then darkly implied our worst fears when they attributed ELBA’s funding to a “European country.” CNN traced the Ghanaian man who ran the company back to Russia, where he worked as a translator. That manager, Seth Wiredu, was confused that Ghanaian security had raided his business. “I fight for black people,” he said. Indeed, the posts on Facebook were focused on repression of African-Americans, quite sensibly. Facebook quickly took down 71 associated accounts. Of course, our white authors at the Times, say the Russians have influenced African-Americans since 2016. CNN attempted to tie Wiredu to the Internet Research Agency (IRA) of 2016 fame, though he flatly denied the association. 

And so, regarding the Russians supposed gameplan for 2020, we are left with little substantiated intelligence and much speculative fodder. The story itself is based merely on what “officials said.” Unnamed officials. Anonymous officials. Government agents. “They gave few details,” of course, but this, as you know, is all done in the name of national security. One can just imagine the Times deep throat hemming and hawing and biting his lip in some oil-stained underground parking deck, finally whispering, “I really can’t show you the evidence. It would compromise national security.” And then a conspiratorial and patriotic nod from the Times stenographer. “I understand completely,” he replies. “The safety of the American people is paramount.” 

Manufacturing Consent, Consensus, and Fear  

One of the filters that Noam Chomsky and Edward Hermann laid out in their classic Manufacturing Consent is to do with sources. Namely, “the reliance of the media on information provided by government, business, and ‘experts’ funded and approved by these primary sources and agents of power.” Voices of the establishment, in other words. This is precisely how the MSM has managed the deliberate expansion of Russiagate. Times journalists reflexively accept the pronouncements of their government sources. It has gotten to the point where sources must no longer provide evidence for their claims. They must merely claim that providing evidence would compromise national security. Any serious journalist would insist on evidence. But journalists do not do this because they recognize that if they did, the source would likely quit being their source and begin to break stories with competitor news outlets. The muckraker again: their salary depends on blind faith. There is no reasonable excuse for this journalistic stenography. Parroting government sources is exactly that. 

Anonymous Sources Lack Credibility 

Aside from the self-evident willingness of the press to print unsubstantiated and inflammatory claims, there are three other reasons to view such stories with skepticism. First, how many times must we be told that the military-intelligence community is not trustworthy? An infinite number, it seems. From the Church Commission to the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the invention of ‘perception management’ to a former CIA director’s naked admission that the organization lied, cheated, and stole as a business model. The government has lied to us about Iraq, the greatest war crime of this century. Before then it lied to us about Cuba, Nicaragua, Vietnam, among many other nations. Since then it has spread disinformation about Libya, Syria, Venezuela, Iran, North Korea, and Russia. Evidence was manufactured to support a foregone conclusion. The CIA has bought and paid for journalists at least since the Church Commission. 

Second, aside from the perfidious track record of government sources, the mainstream media itself has been shown to be untrustworthy. The notion of journalistic impartiality is more mythic than substantiated. Not least because of its history of conspiracy and connivance with the government. The press hasn’t helped its cause by installing a surfeit of military and intelligence retirees as lead analysts. 

Third, and critically for this particular topic, we now know that much of the supposed evidence for Russiagate has been debunked: 

  • The idea the GRU was definitively behind the supposed hacking of the DNC is errant on two counts: the evidence suggests it was a leak, not a hack; and the CIA is known to have technology that allows it to fake any source it chooses. 
  • The Mueller Report was an unmitigated disaster for conspiracy-pushing Democrats. 
  • We know that the infamous dossier author Christopher Steele was a DNC contractor, like CrowdStrike, which refused to turn over its servers to the FBI for investigation after claiming it was hacked, and that the Clinton campaign paid for part of Steele’s investigative work. The Russians were central to Clinton’s explanation of why she lost. 
  • We know that there has been no definitive proof that the Kremlin was behind any of the social media posts that were said to corrupt the election. 
  • Supposed spy Maria Butina was essentially entrapped, jailed, had her reputation destroyed, and was then banished back to Russia. 
  • That Donald Trump’s entire presidency has been largely hostile to Russia, an odd stance for a supposed puppet of the Kremlin.
  • The Times itself launched and promoted the dissimulating sham known as the Intelligence Community Assessment of Russian interference. The newspaper repeatedly claimed the ICA was signed off on by all 17 intelligence agencies, a claim it later quietly retracted when it was shown that only four handpicked agencies had actually supported the assessment. Likely handpicked by John Brennan to legitimate suspicions invented by… John Brennan. 
  • The supposed Russian backing of Roy Moore’s Alabama Congressional campaign was a false flag run by a company that wrote the Senate report on Russian interference.
  • We do know the Internet Research Agency was a for-profit clickbait agency that spent a comparative pittance ($100,000) compared to the hundreds of millions spent by the 2016 candidates. Neither have the IRA’s posts aligned with either candidate nor the election itself, with most posts occurring after the election. 
  • We know the MSM’s hysterical claims in reporting the supposed reach of 126 million people via social media posts have collapsed on examination. They actually represented four ten thousandths of the total number of posts on Facebook during the time period, a “miniscule” amount according to Facebook. They mostly occurred after the election, were not predominantly political in nature, and were based on the theoretical possibility that 29 million people may have gotten at least one post in their feed and shared the posts at the average sharing rate. All this setting aside that only 10 percent of Facebook posts in a feed are ever seen at all. 
  • A host of other ill-conceived stories, from Paul Manafort’s supposed clandestine meetings with Julian Assange, to Putin’s hacking of electricity grids, to sonic microwave attacks of U.S. diplomats, have all been exposed and treated with the contempt they deserved.
  • The indictments against the 13 members of IRA are in the process of being dropped. The reason? You guessed it: national security. 

Why Anti-Russian Disinformation? 

Given the breadth of Russiagate’s failure, we now know that the MSM is happy to disseminate largely counterfactual content. Why? Cui bono? After it was launched in 2016, Russiagate quickly became a perfect storm in which the interests of three powerful Washington entities converged. The Clinton campaign used the story to rationalize its embarrassing defeat to a casino mogul. The Democratic Party used the tale to attempt to excuse its discredited centrist politics to re-energize its disillusioned base in the faux resistance of a supposed traitor in the White House. And, most importantly, the intelligence community leveraged the claims to constrain Trump’s foreign policy, steering him away from befriending Russia or thoroughly dismantling costly wars abroad. All three were happy to then harness the alternative media that was undermining their chosen narratives. The Democrats and the military intelligence community likely see benefits in extending this threadbare fiction through the 2020 electoral season, not to mention the pandemic. After all, Bernie Sanders populist campaign has given the establishment a real fright, as Trump’s campaign did four years ago. Much of this has to do with deteriorating conditions among the working class. But also it has to do with access to alternative sources of information. It is the internet that has destabilized the establishment’s control of the national discourse over the last 20 years. It reached a crescendo in 2016. 

Since then, Russiagate has been leveraged to suppress alternative voices on the internet and insurgent contrarians in the mainstream. The censorship of left voices across the social media spectrum has been well noted, from Google algorithm changes to Facebook account deletion to demonetization on YouTube. Likewise, progressive voices in the mainstream, like Tulsi Gabbard, were smeared by MSM for their anti-war positions and marginalized in the national discourse. Gabbard correctly clarified in a Washington Post article that it was the intelligence community that was interfering in our elections by continually leaking Russiaphobic claims without evidence. This is precisely what the Times editorial board have long peddled. They are showing little sign of quitting their perfidy. 

This is standard issue rollback by federal forces. The history of anti-communism, expertly unpacked by Alex Carey among many others, demonstrates that anti-communism has been used to suppress socialist thought in America. Chomsky and Herman said anti-communism was the fifth filter by which elites managed the flow of information to the public. They called it a “national religion.” Historically, nothing has encouraged self-censorship better than the fear of being called a communist. In the post-Soviet era, that nimble and dexterous label has now been simply repurposed into the charge that one is a ‘Putin stooge,’ or a ‘Russian bot’ if you challenge Washington claims about Moscow. Easily done since Russia was the home of the Bolshevik Revolution. But it isn’t actually communism or Russia that is the underlying target of establishment repression: it is independence. Independent media, independent nations, independent politicians. 

Max Blumenthal, a stalwart of the anti-imperialist left, perhaps said it best when he summarized Russiagate as follows, “those responsible for this fake neocon intrigue got a new Cold War, record defense budgets, and a McCarthyite political atmosphere to denigrate opponents of permanent war. A waste of energy and a setback for peace.” Well put. We should thus remember, in a time of remarkable insecurity about our healthcare system and its ability to combat the pandemic, there has long been a media virus that has infected the nation’s understanding of foreign policy, ironically by sanitizing news of critical context, fact, and motive. Buyer beware.

March 23, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

Western Journalists Really Want There to be a Huge Corona Epidemic in Russia

By Anatoly Karlin • Unz Review • March 21, 2020

The stream of articles suggesting that Russia is covering up its Corona numbers has increased from a stream to a veritable flood:

Let’s take a look at that last article, written by FT’s Henry Foy today, and one of the more balanced (read: less Putin Derangement Syndrome – afflicted) journalists doing the Russia beat (not to mention the most prominent in the above sample, having scored an exclusive interview with Putin in 2019).

“The present number of patients with coronavirus will be hidden from us,” said Anastasia Vasilieva, chairman of Doctors’ Alliance, a Russian lobby group affiliated with opposition politician Alexei Navalny.

Now Foy, to his credit, at least has the journalistic integrity to acknowledge that this doctors’ group (which I have never heard of before now) is affiliated with Navalny, whose entire shtick is to oppose everything and anything the Kremlin does.

A political tilt that its chairwoman helpfully confirms:

“The value of human life for our president is nil . . . We don’t want to admit to any pandemic,” said Ms Vasilieva. “We know of hospitals that are completely full and nurses who are asked to sew face masks from gauze.”

***

But otherwise it follows the usual template on Russia COVID-19 coverage.

She claimed Moscow was instead classifying cases of the virus as pneumonia, the incidence of which increased by almost 40 per cent in January compared with a year previously, government data showed.

The aim here is to insinuate that there was a raging coronavirus epidemic camouflaged as the flu from as early as January 2020.

Oh Corona, where to start.

1. Flu mortality fluctuates wildly season to season by a factor of as high as 4x. So this is a perfectly meaningless fact from the outset.

2. Even China’s epidemic only broke 1,000 cases in January 25. Where were Russians getting infected??

3. If this was true, it is Russia, not Italy, that would be the center of the COVID-19 epidemic now – something that would certainly be noticed, e.g. in overflowing hospitals (no sign of that to date) or in exported cases (but that was all China in February, and predominantly Italy, Iran, and other EU nations now). It is Britons that Vietnam has started barring ten days ago, not Russians.

Here’s what I guess happened. People got agitated by reports from China, and were more likely to consult doctors, producing more flu diagnoses. Even though the actual chance of Russians having COVID-19 in January if they hadn’t been to Wuhan was on the order of a meteorite hitting them on the head.

While other foreign leaders have steeled their citizens for a long crisis and have spoken of a “war” against the pandemic, Mr Putin has played down the threat and urged citizens to remain calm in an effort to minimise panic — and ensure the nationwide ballot on April 22 takes place. …

“The virus is a challenge and comes at a very bad moment for him,” said Tatiana Stanovaya, founder of R. Politik, a political analyst. “Putin doesn’t want to postpone and is insisting that the referendum takes place as soon as possible . . . The longer they wait, the more risks will appear.”

LOL. Trump was saying Corona was fake news/nothingburger up until the end of February.

The US epidemic (22k cases) is about two orders of magnitude more advanced than Russia’s (306 cases), but most states have continued to hold primaries for the Dem nomination.

And in any case Putin has allowed the possibility that the April 22 Constitutional Referendum may be postponed. There’s no indication it’s a hard, immovable date.

At the same time, Mr Putin has sought to project an image of control, continuing with his diary of local visits and meetings with senior officials, shaking hands and never wearing a face mask.

Although it would be nice for Putin to set a better example, this is the rule, internationally – not the exception. Stressing this is so petty, LOL.

“No matter what happens in the next 35 days, they have to lie, hush up, and deny. It doesn’t matter at all what really will happen to coronavirus in Russia, whether there will be a moderate outbreak or tens of thousands are killed,” said Igor Pitsyn, a doctor in Yaroslavl, a city 250km north-east of Moscow.

“By Putin’s decree all information about this is declared a state secret until April 22 . . . This ‘nationwide vote’ will be held at all costs.”

First time I hear of this. Searching “путин коронавирус гостайна” doesn’t produce any relevant results. This doctor must have some very high placed sources.

Or perhaps Foy had to travel all the way to Yaroslavl to get a sufficiently juicy quote.

While officials have cited the low number as proof of the success of swiftly closing its border with China in January and steadily cutting flights to affected countries, experts have questioned how the country has proved far more immune than almost any other. … Neighbouring Belarus has five times more infections per capita than Russia, and France, which has roughly half Russia’s population, has more than 50 times the number of cases.

Russia doesn’t have large numbers of Gastarbeiters in the EU, unlike Belarus. Our Belorussian commenters also tell us that there are next to no control measures in place.

But Ukraine has perhaps 20x more Gastarbeiters in the EU than Belarus, and yet 2 days ago reported only 1/3 as many Corona cases (16 vs. 51). Which suggests where Western journalists covering Eastern Europe should really focus their attention. If they, you know, cared about the Corona situation in Eastern Europe. As opposed to promoting the US line that Russia bad and China bad.

***

Incidentally, an update on Ukraine, two days after my alarm-raising article, in which I suggested that it’s likely there’s a big cluster developing undetected in Ukraine.

Even though testing in Ukraine remains extremely patchy – even in per capita terms, its ~500 tests are two orders of magnitude lower than Russia’s ~150k, or for that matter Belarus’ ~16k – the past two days have seen a surge of new cases from 16 to 41. The majority of those cases, some 25 of them, are concentrated in Chernivtsi oblast, which also saw the death of a 33 year old woman from existing problems magnified by the coronavirus.

The unlikelihood of such a mortality profile, coupled with the flood of new cases despite continued low testing rates, strongly suggests that this is just the tip of the iceberg, and that a cluster is developing in Chernivtsi oblast.

This suggestion is backed up by an observation by Twitter user from_kherson:

There’s a reason Chernivtsi has so many cases – large # of people go to Italy for work.

An acquaintance of mine from there confirmed his business partner just tested positive for the virus.

But just in case you think I am piling on to Ukraine because of my own political obsessions you would be mistaken.

I will say that after Ukraine, probably the second biggest undetected Corona timebomb in Europe may be Serbia. Unfortunately, the Wikipedia page on COVID-19 testing doesn’t have information for Serbia. However, one of my Serbian friends on Thursday wrote me that:

We are still testing around 50 per day, with 1/5 being positive…

So both the intensity of testing and the rate of positives is similar to Ukraine.

This Friday, he continued:

We still have competent health care workers (the decision not to test the wider population is purely political, as was the decision not to close schools until 5 days ago), relatively functioning health care system, about 1500 respirators on a population that is 7+ million.

On the other hand, we have the second lowest reported total test volume anywhere in the world, after Malorossiya :), at 545 total as of this morning, one of the highest positive rates per 1000 tests (after Italy, Spain, Ecuador and the Philippines). We have seen an influx of over 250,000 gastarbeiters from Western Europe in the past 10 days… Many people are breaking the 14 day mandatory self isolation. When I say many, I’m talking about thousands every day…

We have 3 things potentially on our side. God, warmth, and Sun. Or it’s all just God? 🙂

And to think that Serbia was one of the first countries in the world to eradicate smallpox in the 1830s… Under the lifelong illiterate knyaz Miloš…

The large number of Gastarbeiters in Western Europe, most of whom are now going to be let go, is another similarity that Serbia shares with Ukraine. And is something that will be a very problematic issue going forwards.

Fortunately, it appears that China (and Russia) are going to bail Serbia out with test kits.

Despite their rather different geopolitical viewpoints, European attitudes to both Serbia and the Ukraine are quite similar. They are to be exploited to the extent they are useful; otherwise discarded as needed. It’s a lesson they should mull over.

March 22, 2020 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | 2 Comments

The New York Times’ Insidious Ongoing Disinformation Campaign on Russia & Elections

By Gareth Porter | Consortium News | March 17, 2020

For the past three years the new narrative of Russian interference in U.S. elections has bound corporate news media more tightly than ever to the interests of the national security state. And no outlet has pushed that narrative more aggressively – and with more violence to the relevant facts — than The New York Times.

Times reporters have produced a series of stories that loudly proclaim the Russian election meddling narrative but offer no real facts in the body of the story supporting its most sensational claims.

The Times service to the narrative was introduced by its February 2017 story  headlined, “Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts with Russian Intelligence.” We now know from Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report on the FBI investigation of the Trump campaign that the only campaign aide who had contacts with Russian intelligence officials was Carter Page, and those had taken place years before in the context of Page’s reporting them to the CIA. The Horowitz report revealed that FBI officials had hidden that fact from the FISA Court to justify its request for surveillance of Page.

But the Times coverage of the Horowitz report in December 2019 failed to acknowledge that the calumny about Page’s Russian intelligence contacts, which it had published without question in 2017, had been an FBI deception.

Two more Times Russiagate stories in 2018 and 2019 featured spectacular claims that proved on closer examination to be grotesque distortions of fact. In September 2018 a 10,000-word story by Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti sought to convince readers that the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA) had successfully swayed U.S. opinion during the 2016 election with 80,000 Facebook posts that they said had reached 126 million Americans.

But that turned to be an outrageously deceptive claim, because Shane and Mazzetti failed to mention the fact that those 80,000 IRA posts (from early 2015 through 2017), had been engulfed in a vast ocean of more than 33 trillion Facebook posts in people’s news feeds – 413 million times more than the IRA posts.

In December 2019, senior national security correspondent David Sanger wrote a story headlined, “Russia Targeted Election Systems in All 50 States, Report Finds,” and Sanger’s lede said the Senate Intelligence Committee had “concluded” that all 50 states had been targeted. But the Committee report actually reaches no such conclusion. It quoted President Barack Obama’s cyber-security adviser Michael Daniel as recalling that he had “personally” reached that conclusion, but shows the only basis for his conclusion was remarkably lame: the “randomness of the attempts” and his conviction that Russian intelligence was “thorough.”

The Committee reported that some intelligence “developed” in 2018 had “bolstered” the subjective judgment by Daniel. But all but one of the eight paragraphs in the report describing that intelligence were redacted, and the one unredacted paragraph suggests that the redacted paragraphs provided no conclusive evidence that Russian intelligence had scanned any state election websites, much less those of all 50 states. The paragraph said, “However, IP addresses associated with the August 16, 2016 FLASH provided some indicators the activity might be attributable to the Russian government…. [emphasis added].”

The Committee report also contained summary statements from six states that the Department of Homeland Security has continued to include among the 21 states it insists were hacked by the Russians in 2016, denying any cyber threat to their systems. Another 13 states reported only that there was “scanning and probing” by inconclusive IP addresses the FBI and DHS had sent them.  Sanger did not report any of those troublesome details.

In January 2020 the Times began its coverage of the theme of Russian interference in the 2020 election with a story headlined, “Chaos is the Point: Russian Hackers and Trolls Grow Stealthier in 2020.”  The story, written by Sanger, Matthew Rosenberg and Nicole Perlroth, sought to heighten the existing U.S. climate of paranoia about a Russian attack in regard to the 2020 elections. Once again, however, nothing in the story supports the sinister tone of the headline.

It reported Department of Homeland Security officials’ anxiety about the ransom-ware attacks on 100 American towns, cities and federal offices during 2019, which are clearly criminal operations aimed at large-scale payoffs by cities. The story informed readers that DHS was investigating “whether Russian intelligence was involved in any of the attacks,” on the apparent theory that the criminals were being used by the Russians.

Since those ransom-ware attacks had been going on for years, the obvious question would have been why DHS would have waited until 2020 to reveal that it was investigating Russian involvement.  Thus, the only fact underlying the story was the DHS desire to find evidence to support its accusations of Russian election hacking.

Still at it in 2020

The Times continued its advocacy journalism in a Feb. 26 report that U.S. intelligence officials had “warned” in a briefing for the House Intelligence Committee on Feb. 13 that “Russia was interfering in the 2020 campaign to get President Trump elected,” citing five people “familiar with the matter.”

The Times’ team of four writers proceeded to declare, “The Russians have been preparing – and experimenting – for the 2020 election… aware that they needed a new playbook of as-yet undetectable methods, United States officials said.” But instead of reporting actual evidence of any Russian action or decision for action, the Times writers again cited what their sources suspected could be done.

“Some officials,” they wrote, “believe that foreign powers, possibly including Russia, could use ransom-ware attacks…to damage or interfere with voting systems or registration databases.” The Times’ sources thus had no actual intelligence on the question and were merely speculating on what any foreign government might do to disrupt the election.

Three days after that report, moreover, the Times backed away from its previous lede after intelligence sources disputed its claim that Russia was intervening to reelect Trump, suggesting that the briefing officer, Shelby Pierson, had overstated the assessment. Sanger sought to limit the damage with a story labeling the problem one of “dueling narratives” in the intelligence community.

Then Sanger admitted, “It is probably too early for the Russians to begin any significant moves to bolster a specific candidate,” which obviously invalidated the Times’ previous speculation on the subject. But after The Washington Post published a story that the FBI had informed Senator Bernie Sanders that Russia had sought to help his campaign, Sanger quickly returned to the same narrative of Russian interference to advance its favorite candidates.

On the Times’ podcast “The Daily,” Sanger opined that the Russians were now supporting both Trump and Sanders – because Sanders, “like Donald Trump,” has “got a real aversion to interventions around the world.”

The most recent entry in the Times’ campaign to create anxiety about Russian interference in the election focused on race relations. On March 10, the Times headlined its story, “Russia Trying to Stoke U.S. Racial Tension before Elections, Officials Say.” In their lede Julian Barnes and Adam Goldman announced, “The Russian government has stepped up efforts to influence racial tensions in the United States as part of its bid to influence November’s presidential election, including trying to incite violence by white supremacist groups and stoke anger among Afro-Americans, according to seven American officials briefed on recent intelligence.”

But true to the modus operandi used routinely to push the Russian election threat narrative, the writers did not offer a single fact supporting such a story line. They even admitted that the officials who were making the claims provided “few details” about white supremacists and “did not detail how” blacks were being encouraged to use violence.

It turns out, in fact, that U.S. officials have found nothing indicating Russian support for violent white supremacists in America. The only fact that they could cite — based on a single source — was that the FBI is “scrutinizing any ties” between Russian intelligence and Rinaldo Nazzaro, the American founder of a “neo-Nazi group,” who lives with his Russian wife in St. Petersburg, Russia, but owns property in the United States. So, the Times’ single source had nothing but a suspicion for which the FBI was trying to find evidence.

The final touch in the piece was the accusation that RT had “fanned divisions” on race by running a story about a video of New York policemen attacking and detaining a young black man that Barnes and Goldman write “sparked outrage” and had also “posted tweets aimed at stirring white animosity.” But the RT article on the video merely reported accurately that the video depicted unprovoked police brutality and that it had already gone viral. The Times itself had published a much more detailed Associated Press story on the same incident that went into a discussion of the history of police brutality in New York City. By the Times’ own criterion, the AP was doing far more to stoke racial animosity than RT.

The opinion pieces that RT published attacking The New York Times for its coverage of a video at the University of Wisconsin that offended non-whites and for a Times opinion piece critical of the Apu character on “The Simpsons” echoed views on race and culture that most Americans find offensive. The idea that they were part of a Russian plot to generate racial animosity, however, is a very long stretch.

The descent of The New York Times into this unprecedented level of propagandizing for the narrative of Russia’s threat to U.S. democracy is dramatic evidence of a broader problem of abuses by corporate media of their socio-political power. Greater awareness of the dishonesty at the heart of the Times‘ coverage of that issue is a key to leveraging media reform and political change.

Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and historian and winner of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. His latest book, with John Kiriakou, is “The CIA Insider’s Guide to the Iran Crisis: From CIA Coup to the Brink of War.”

March 22, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Pompeo and Netanyahu paved a path to war with Iran, and they’re pushing Trump again

By Gareth Porter | The Grayzone | March 20, 2020

Though it narrowly averted war with Iran this January, the Trump administration is still pushing for all-out military conflict. The architects of the drive to war, Mike Pompeo and Benjamin Netanyahu, have relied on a series of cynical provocations to force Trump’s hand.

The US may escape the most recent conflict with Iran without war, however, a dangerous escalation is just over the horizon.  And as before, the key factors driving the belligerence are not outraged Iraqi militia leaders or their allies in Iran, but Trump’s secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has long sought to draw the US into a military confrontation with Iran.

Throughout the fall of 2019, Netanyahu ordered a series of Israeli strikes against Iranian allies in Iraq and against Lebanese Hezbollah units. He and Pompeo hoped the attacks would provoke a reaction from their targets that could provide a tripwire to outright war with Iran. As could have been expected, corporate US media missed the story, perhaps because it failed to reinforce the universally accepted narrative of a hyper-aggressive Iran emboldened by Trump’s failure to “deter” it following Iran’s shoot-down of a U.S. drone in June, and an alleged Iranian attack on Saudi oil facility in September.

Pompeo and John Bolton set the stage for the tripwire strategy in May 2019 with a statement by national security adviser John Bolton citing “troubling and escalatory indications and warnings,” implying an Iranian threat without providing concrete details. That vague language echoed a previous vow by Bolton that “any attack” by Iran or “proxy” forces “on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.”

Then came a campaign of leaks to major news outlet suggesting that Iran was planning attacks on U.S. military personnel. The day after Bolton’s statement, the Wall Street Journal reported that unnamed U.S. officials cited “U.S. intelligence” showing that Iran “drew up plans to target U.S. forces in Iraq and possibly Syria, to orchestrate attacks in the Bab el-Mandeb strait near Yemen through proxies and in the Persian Gulf with its own armed drones…”

The immediate aim of this campaign was to gain Trump’s approval for contingency plans for a possible war with Iran that included the option of sending as many as 120,000 U.S. troops into region.  Trump balked at such war-planning, however, complaining privately that Bolton and Pompeo were pushing him into a war with Iran. Following Iran’s shoot-down of the U.S. drone over the Strait of Hormuz on June 20, Pompeo and Bolton suggested the option of killing Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in retaliation. But Trump refused to sign off on the assassination of Iran’s top general unless Iran killed an American first, according to current and former officials.

From that point on, the provocation strategy was focused on trying to trigger an Iranian reaction that would involve a U.S. casualty.  That’s when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu interjected himself and his military as a central player in the drama. From July 19 through August 20, the Israeli army carried out five strikes against Iraqi militias allied with Iran, blowing up four weapons depots and killing as many Shiite militiamen and Iranian offcers, according to press accounts.

The Israeli bombing escalated on August 25, when two strikes on the brigade headquarters of a pro-Iranian militia and on a militia convoy killed the brigade commander and six other militiamen, and a drone strike on Hezbollah’s headquarters in south Beirut blew the windows out of one of Hezbollah’s media offices.

Netanyahu and Pompeo sabotage Trump and Macron’s attempt at diplomacy

Behind those strikes was Netanyahu’s sense of alarm over Trump toying with the idea of seeking negotiations with Iran. Netanyahu had likely learned about Trump’s moves toward detente from Pompeo, who had long been his primary contact in the administration. On August 26, French President Emanuel Macron revealed that he was working to broker a Trump-Rouhani meeting. Netanyahu grumbled about the prospect of U.S.-Iranian talks “several times” with his security cabinet the day before launching the strikes.

Two retired senior Israeli generals, Gen. Amos Yadlin and Gen. Assaf Oron, criticized those strikes for increasing the likelihood of harsh retaliation by Iran or one of its regional partners. The generals complained that Netanyahu’s attacks were “designed to prod [Iran] into a hasty response” and thus end Trump’s flirtation with talking to Iran. That much was obviously true, but Pompeo and Netanyahu also knew that provoking an attack by Iran or one of its allies might cause one or more of the American casualties they sought. And once American blood was spilled, Trump would have no means to resist authorizing a major escalation.

Kataib Hezbollah and other pro-Iran Iraqi militias blamed the United States for the wave of lethal Israeli attacks on their fighters. These militias responded in September by launching a series of rocket attacks on Iraqi government bases where U.S. troops were present. They also struck targets in the vicinity of the U.S. Embassy.

The problem for Netanyahu and Pompeo, however, was that none of those strikes killed an American. What’s more, U.S. intelligence officials knew from NSA monitoring of communications between the IRGC and the militias that Iran had explicitly forbidden direct attacks on US personnel.

Netanyahu was growing impatient. For several days in late October and early November, he met with his national security cabinet to discuss a new Israeli attack to precipitate a possible war with Iran, according to reports by former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren. Oren hinted at how a war with Iran might start. ‘[P]erhaps Israel miscalculates,” he suggested, “hitting a particularly sensitive target,” which, in his view, could spark “a big war between Israel and Iran.”

But on December 27, before Netanyahu could put such a strategy into action, the situation changed dramatically. A barrage of rockets slammed into an Iraqi base near Kirkuk where U.S. military personnel were stationed, killing a U.S military contractor. Suddenly, Pompeo had the opening he needed. At a meeting the following day, Pompeo led Trump to believe that Iranian “proxies” had attacked the base, and pressed him to “reestablish deterrence” with Iran by carrying out a military response.

In fact, U.S. and Iraqi officials on the spot had reached no such conclusion, and the investigation led by the head of intelligence for the Iraqi federal police at the base was just beginning that same day. But Pompeo and his allies, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark A Milley, were not interested in waiting for its conclusion.

A deception brings the US and Iran to the brink of war

The results of a subsequent Iraqi investigation revealed that the rocket barrage had been launched from a Sunni area of Kirkuk with a strong Islamic State presence, and that IS fighters had carried out three attacks not far from the base on Iraqi forces stationed there in the previous ten days. US signals intercepts found no evidence that Iraqi militias had shifted from their policy of avoiding American casualties at all cost.

Kept in the dark by Pompeo about these crucial facts, Trump agreed to launch five airstrikes against Kataib Hezbollah and another pro-Iran militia at five locations in Iraq and Syria that killed 25 militiamen and wounded 51. He may have also agreed in principle to the killing of Soleimani when the opportunity presented itself.

Iran responded to the attacks on its Iraqi militia allies by approving a violent protest at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad January 31. The demonstrators did not penetrate the embassy building itself and were abruptly halted the same day. But Pompeo managed to persuade Trump to authorize the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s second most powerful figure, presumably by hammering on the theme of “reestablishing deterrence” with Iran.

Soleimani was not only the second most powerful man in Iran and the main figure in its foreign policy; he was idolized by millions of the most strongly nationalist citizens of the country. Killing him in a drone strike was an open invitation to the military confrontation Netanyahu and Pompeo so desperately sought.

During the crucial week from December 28 through January 4, while Pompeo was pressing Trump to retaliate against Iran not just once but twice, it was clear that he was coordinating closely with Netanyahu.  During that single week, he spoke by phone with Netanyahu on three separate occasions.

What Pompeo and Netanyahu could not have anticipated was that Iran’s missile attack on the U.S. sector of Iraq’s sprawling al-Asad airbase in retaliation would be so precise that it scored direct hits on six U.S. targets without killing a single American. (The US service members were saved in part because the rockets were fired after the Iraqi government had passed on a warning from Iran to prepare for it). Because no American was killed in the strike, Trump again decided against further retaliation.

Towards another provocation

Although Pompeo and Netanyahu failed to ignite a military conflict with Iran, there is good reason to believe that they will try again before both are forced to leave their positions or power.

In an article for the Atlantic last November, former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, channeled Netanyahu when he declared it would be “better for conflict [with Iran] to occur during the current [Trump] administration, which can be counted on to provide Israel with the three sources of American assistance it traditionally receives in wartime,” than to “wait until later.”

Oren was not the only Israeli official to suggest that Israeli is likely to go even further in strikes against Iranian and Iranian allies targets in 2020. After listening to Israeli army Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi speak in late December, Haaretz military correspondent Amos Harel reported that the Israeli army chief conveyed the clear impression that a “more serious confrontation with Iran in the coming year as an almost unquestionable necessity.” His interviews with Israeli military and political figures further indicated that Israel would “intensity its efforts to hit Iran in the northern area.”

Shockingly, Pompeo has exploited the Coronavirus pandemic to impose even harsher sanctions on Iran while intimidating foreign businesses to prevent urgently needed medical supplies from entering the country. The approaching presidential election gives both Pompeo and Netanyahu a powerful reason to plot another strike, or a series of strikes aimed at drawing the US into a potential Israeli confrontation with Iran.

Activists and members of Congress concerned about keeping the US out of war with Iran must be acutely aware of the danger and ready to respond decisively when the provocation occurs.

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

For the green zealots, Covid-19 is our penance for sins against the planet

By Frank Furedi | RT | March 20, 2020

Green zealots want to turn the global catastrophe of Covid-19 into fuel for their alarmist extinction narrative. By blaming humanity’s impact on the planet for the outbreak, they hope to mobilize support for their cause.

The hastily cobbled together green playbook on the unfolding global pandemic seeks to hold humanity responsible for the outbreak of Covid-19. Its rhetoric of blame is often just that – rhetoric.

The communications strategy adopted by green scaremongers is to continually raise questions about the possibility that our neglect of nature has brought Covid-19 down upon us. The more frequently such questions are posed the more likely that their speculation will mutate into a taken-for-granted fact. “Tip of the iceberg: is our destruction of nature responsible for Covid-19?” asks a headline in the Guardian. The manner in which this question is posed invites readers to respond, “quite likely.”

To pose questions about the link to man-made climate change is often presented as the normal response to the crisis. A commentary on Inside Climate News illustrates this rhetorical strategy.

“Now, questions have arisen about whether climate change contributed to the outbreak of Covid-19, whose spread the World Health Organization declared a pandemic on Wednesday. For example, did habitat loss, driven in part by climate change, make it easier for pathogens to spread among wildlife and for the virus to jump to humans? Does air pollution, mainly from the burning of fossil fuels, make some people more vulnerable to contracting the illness?”

As one question reinforces the next, the reader is encouraged to imagine that in some shape or form, climate change is likely to be connected to the Covid-19 outbreak.

It is almost as if green activists are desperately hoping that someone will come up with a shred of evidence that can be used to prove that one way or another that human-created global warming is responsible for the outbreak. Their interest is far removed from containing the virus’ threat. On the contrary, their narrative takes great delight in using Covid-19 as a weapon to be wielded against environmentally irresponsible people. Statements on this score transmit the message ‘that it is all your fault’. In this vein, Dr Aaaron Bernstein, Interim Director Of The Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment, offers a cautionary tale about the impact of human behaviour on the planet:

“You look at climate change, we have transformed the nature of the Earth. We have fundamentally changed the composition of the atmosphere, and as such, we shouldn’t be surprised that that affects our health. We have, as a species, grown up in partnership with the planet and life we live with. So, when we change the rules of the game, we shouldn’t expect that it wouldn’t affect our health, for better or worse. That’s true of the climate. And the same principle holds for the emergence of infections.”

Bernstein does not provide any arguments for his casual linking of the transformation of the world by humans to the emergence of infections. That’s not the point of his statement. His objective is to morally condemn the very human aspiration to change the world and to imply that we have brought the current global tragedy upon ourselves.

Not so long ago, with the development of science we learned that a disaster, such as a plague or an earthquake, was not caused by mysterious vengeful forces – they were rightly called ‘Acts of Nature’. For the green zealot, disasters are never just Acts of Nature; they are a penalty that humanity pays for seeking to modernize the world.

For green ideologues, the pandemic provides an opportunity to mobilize support for their cause. For us, the flu outbreak constitutes a threat that will be overcome with single minded commitment to the cause of humanity. History shows that – contrary to the green world view – humans are not the problem, they are the solution.


Frank Furedi is an author and social commentator is an emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Kent in Canterbury. Author of How Fear Works: The Culture of Fear in the 21st Century. Follow him on Twitter @Furedibyte

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Environmentalism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science | | 3 Comments

COVID-19: All Truth Has Three Stages

By Larry Romanoff | Global Research | March 19, 2020

First, it is ignored.

Second, it is widely ridiculed.

Third, it is accepted as self-evident.

With COVID-19, we have now entered Stage 2. At first, the media ignored the claims and the analysis that the virus could have originated in the US. But the spread of information and restatements of evidence from all sides, including in the US itself, has become too intense and now the claims are being openly ridiculed in the Western media.

Briefly, Chinese virologists discovered conclusively that the original source of the virus was not China, nor Wuhan, nor the seafood market, but had been traced to the US, a possible scenario being that the virus might have originated at the US Military’s bio-weapons lab at Fort Detrick (which was shut down by the CDC in July, because of outbreaks), and brought to China during the World Military Games in October 2019.

Also, Japanese and Taiwanese virologists arrived independently at the conclusion that the virus could have originated in the US.

The Americans did their best from before the beginning to deflect culpability by crafting tales of bats, snakes, pangolins, the seafood market, the Wuhan University being a bio-weapons facility (which it is not), and the CIA tale leaked through the VOA and Radio Free Asia that the virus leaked from that university. They stated (factually) that Chinese researchers had participated (7 years ago) in similar virus research funded by the US NIH, thus somehow insinuating Chinese culpability, ignoring that the prior research was irrelevant to current events.

I must say the Americans have proven to be very skillful in grabbing the microphone first, to create an “official” narrative of a current event while flooding the media with sufficient finger-pointing to preclude a gullible public the time to logically assemble the pieces on their own.

They ignored the very real fact that few nations would either create or release a biological weapon that attacks primarily itself. They ignored too, the geopolitical likelihood of an ”end game” – that a virus is a powerful weapon of economic warfare, able to do to China’s economy what a trade war could not do.

Casual readers tend to ignore the fact that, in the American mentality, there are many solid geopolitical reasons to attack China, Iran, and Italy, the remaining countries merely constituting unfortunate collateral damage.

Many virus articles containing this and similar information had been published by second-tier internet news sites, some articles gaining enormous readership with hundreds of thousands of downloads and much re-posting. Many of these articles have been translated into 6 or 7 languages and published on websites all around the world. Simultaneously, many posts were made on Chinese social media speculating on the odd circumstances and long chain of unusual coincidences that led to the virus outbreak in Wuhan.

One of the articles referred to above, was translated and posted on Chinese social media and gathered 76,000 comments in the first 8 hours. Eventually, the major Chinese media outlets made the same claims – that the virus could have originated in the US and that the Americans were engaging in a massive cover-up.

Then, Zhao LiJian, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, made the story official, through a number of posts on US social media. One major media article, this in the NYT, noted that “Zhao’s remarks were spread on China’s most prominent social media platform, Weibo . . . [and] had been viewed more than 160 million times, along with screenshots of the original Twitter posts.

It seems LiJian’s Twitter posts, being essentially an official source that could not easily be ignored, claiming the virus was brought to China from the US during the Military Games, and demanding an explanation from the US, were receiving too much public attention to be ignored. All of the above created sufficient political pressure to force the Western media to respond. And of course they responded by ignoring the facts of the message and trashing the messenger.

On March 12, the UK Guardian ran a story claiming China was “pushing propaganda” about the virus coming from the US. (1) On March 13, the New York Times ran a similar story of a “China coronavirus conspiracy” of false claims about the source of the virus. (2) Then, on March 14, ABC News ran a story titled “False claims about sources of coronavirus cause spat between the US, China”, in which it ridiculed China and the claims of a US-virus. (3)

The Seattle Times published a version of the story, stating, “China is pushing a new theory about the origins of the coronavirus: It is an American disease . . . introduced by members of the U.S. Army who visited Wuhan in October. There is not a shred of evidence to support that, but the notion received an official endorsement from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, whose spokesman accused American officials of not coming clean about what they know about the disease.” (4) The UK Independent published their own version of “China’s conspiracy theory” (5), as did CNN (6).

The ABC article claimed that “Assistant Secretary David Stilwell gave [Chinese] Ambassador Cui Tiankai a “very stern representation of the facts,” claiming Cui was “very defensive” in the face of this “official” American assault. The US State Department is quoted as having said, “We wanted to put the [Chinese] government on notice we won’t tolerate [conspiracy theories] for the good of the Chinese people and the world.”

Following that, the Washington Post, Bloomberg, and half a dozen other press wires and media outlets have contacted this author for interviews, eager for an opportunity to trash this ‘conspiracy theory’ at its source. The US Embassy in Beijing also “reached out” to the author “to talk about it”.

If the public information campaign and the resulting political pressure can continue, we will eventually enter stage three where the media will begin admitting first the possibility, then the likelihood, then the fact, of the US being the source of the “China” virus.

***

Larry Romanoff is a retired management consultant and businessman. He has held senior executive positions in international consulting firms, and owned an international import-export business. He has been a visiting professor at Shanghai’s Fudan University, presenting case studies in international affairs to senior EMBA classes. Mr. Romanoff lives in Shanghai and is currently writing a series of ten books generally related to China and the West. He can be contacted at: 2186604556@qq.com. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Notes

(1) https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/12/conspiracy-theory-that-coronavirus-originated-in-us-gaining-traction-in-china

(2) https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/13/world/asia/coronavirus-china-conspiracy-theory.html

(3) https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/false-claims-sources-coronavirus-spat-us-china/story?id=69580990

(4) https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/china-spins-tale-that-the-u-s-army-started-the-coronavirus-epidemic/
https://www.ccn.com/did-coronavirus-originate-in-america-chinese-media-pushes-conspiracy/

(5) https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/coronavirus-start-originate-conspiracy-china-us-wuhan-cdc-robert-redfield-a9398711.html

(6) https://www.ccn.com/did-coronavirus-originate-in-america-chinese-media-pushes-conspiracy/

Copyright © Larry Romanoff, Global Research, 2020

March 19, 2020 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 5 Comments