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Don’t Laugh – It’s Giving Putin What He Wants

By Caitlin JOHNSTONE | Medium | December 15, 2018

The BBC has published an article titled “How Putin’s Russia turned humour into a weapon” about the Kremlin’s latest addition to its horrifying deadly hybrid warfare arsenal: comedy.

The article is authored by Olga Robinson, whom the BBC, unhindered by any trace of self-awareness, has titled “Senior Journalist (Disinformation)”. Robinson demonstrates the qualifications and acumen which earned her that title by warning the BBC’s audience that the Kremlin has been using humor to dismiss and ridicule accusations that have been leveled against it by western governments, a “form of trolling” that she reports is designed to “deliberately lower the level of discussion”.

“Russia’s move towards using humour to influence its campaigns is a relatively recent phenomenon,” Robinson explains, without speculating as to why Russians might have suddenly begun laughing at their western accusers. She gives no consideration to the possibility that the tightly knit alliance of western nations who suddenly began hysterically shrieking about Russia two years ago have simply gotten much more ridiculous and easier to make fun of during that time.

Couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the emergence of a demented media environment wherein everything around the world from French protests to American culture wars to British discontent with the European Union gets blamed on Russia without any facts or evidence. Wherein BBC reporters now correct guests and caution them against voicing skepticism of anti-Russia narratives because the UK is in “an information war” with that nation. Wherein the same cable news Russiagate pundit can claim that both Rex Tillerson’s hiring and his later firing were the result of a Russian conspiracy to benefit the Kremlin. Wherein mainstream outlets can circulate blatantly false information about Julian Assange and unnamed “Russians” and then blame the falseness of that reporting on Russian disinformation. Wherein Pokemon Go, cutesy Facebook memes and $4,700 in Google ads are sincerely cited as methods by which Hillary Clinton’s $1.2 billion presidential campaign was outdone. Wherein conspiracy theories that Putin has infiltrated the highest levels of the US government have been blaring on mainstream headline news for two years with absolutely nothing to show for it to this day.

Nope, the only possibility is that the Kremlin suddenly figured out that humor is a thing.

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself. The hypocrisy is so cartoonish, the emotions are so breathlessly over-the-top, the stories so riddled with plot holes and the agendas underlying them so glaringly obvious that they translate very easily into laughs. I myself recently authored a satire piece that a lot of people loved and which got picked up by numerous alternative media outlets, and all I did was write down all the various escalations this administration has made against Russia as though they were commands being given to Trump by Putin. It was extremely easy to write, and it was pretty damn funny if I do say so myself. And it didn’t take any Kremlin rubles or dezinformatsiya from St Petersburg to figure out how to write it.

“Ben Nimmo, an Atlantic Council researcher on Russian disinformation, told the BBC that attempts to create funny memes were part of the strategy as ‘disinformation for the information age’,” the article warns. Nimmo, ironically, is himself intimately involved with the British domestic disinformation firm Integrity Initiative, whose shady government-sponsored psyops against the Labour Party have sparked a national scandal that is likely far from reaching peak intensity.

“Most comedy programmes on Russian state television these days are anodyne affairs which either do not touch on political topics, or direct humour at the Kremlin’s perceived enemies abroad,” Robinson writes, which I found funny since I’d just recently read an excellent essay by Michael Tracey titled “Why has late night swapped laughs for lusting after Mueller?”

“If the late night ‘comedy’ of the Trump era has something resembling a ‘message,’ it’s that large segments of the nation’s liberal TV viewership are nervously tracking every Russia development with a passion that cannot be conducive to mental health — or for that matter, political efficacy,” Tracey writes, documenting numerous examples of the ways late night comedy now has audiences cheering for a US intelligence insider and Bush appointee instead of challenging power-serving media orthodoxies as programs like The Daily Show once did.

If you wanted the opposite of “anodyne affairs”, it would be comedians ridiculing the way all the establishment talking heads are manipulating their audiences into supporting the US intelligence community and FBI insiders. It would be excoriating the media environment in which unfathomably powerful world-dominating government agencies are subject to less scrutiny and criticism than a man trapped in an embassy who published inconvenient facts about those agencies. It certainly wouldn’t be the cast of Saturday Night Live singing “All I Want for Christmas Is You” to a framed portrait of Robert Mueller wearing a Santa hat. It doesn’t get much more anodyne than that.

Russia makes fun of western establishment narratives about it because those narratives are so incredibly easy to make fun of that they are essentially asking for it, and the nerdy way empire loyalists are suddenly crying victim about it is itself more comedy. When Guardian writer Carole Cadwalladr began insinuating that RT covering standard newsworthy people like Julian Assange and Nigel Farage was a conspiracy to “boost” those people for the advancement of Russian agendas instead of a news outlet doing the thing that news reporting is, RT rightly made fun of her for it. Cadwalladr reacted to RT’s mockery with a claim that she was a victim of “attacks”, instead of the recipient of perfectly justified ridicule for circulating an intensely moronic conspiracy theory.

Ah well. People are nuts and we’re hurtling toward a direct confrontation with a nuclear superpower. Sometimes there’s nothing else to do but laugh. As Wavy Gravy said, “Keep your sense of humor, my friend; if you don’t have a sense of humor it just isn’t funny anymore.”

December 18, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

UK psyops bigwig pushed plan to ‘mine Sevastopol Bay’ during 2014 Crimea crisis – leaked documents

RT | December 17, 2018

In the midst of the Crimean crisis, a special adviser to the UK House of Commons Defence Committee had a suggestion for Kiev – to lay mines in Sevastopol Bay, leaked documents have revealed.

“I am trying to get this message across” to Kiev, reads a leaked document purporting to show the strategy that Christopher Donnelly, who was a Special Adviser to the UK House of Commons Defence Committee, recommends.

The documents, leaked by a group which claims to be associated with the Anonymous hackers, purport to indicate that Donnelly had drafted “military measures” that he would implement if he, personally was “in charge.” The documents are allegedly dated March 01, 2014, when the Crimean crisis was in full swing.

A print screen of the leaked document with alleged “military measures” which Christopher Donnelly wanted to communicate to Kiev. ©  cyberguerrilla.org

Donnelly noted that “at the moment the new ‘Government’ in Kyiv is unable to think in terms of military reality,” since it was not sure if its “orders will be obeyed or not.”

“They are like a rabbit in the car’s headlights,” he said, according to the documents.

The measures which the official would supposedly implement, include “mining of Sevastopol harbor,” setting up a “cordon sanitaire” across the Crimean Isthmus with “troops and mines,” and trying to “inspire” their own troops, endeavoring to explain to them what exactly they had to fight for.

Donnelly allegedly writes that he would have used “some seriously important weapons” Ukraine “used to have,” namely some sort of “big microwave anti-satellite weapon.”

Apart from that, the text says all the air forces in the region should have been scrambled and anti-aircraft defenses activated. If the aviation in Crimea proved to be not airworthy, it should have been destroyed “as a gesture that they are serious.”

While all the “measures” appear to be designed to incite an open armed conflict, the last one was also about making profit by the West: “They should ask the west now to start supplying oil and gas. There is plenty available due to the mild winter.”

Donnelly has a rich background that ties him to top military officials. Between 1989 and 2003, as special adviser to four NATO Secretaries General, he was closely involved with NATO. From 2003 to 2010 he ran the UK Defence Academy’s Advanced Research and Assessment Group. He has been a specialist adviser to three UK Defence Secretaries (both Labour and Conservative) and was a member of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s Soviet advisory team. Since 2010 he has been the Co-director of The Institute for Statecraft – a shady think tank that provides “decision takers & policy makers with reliable, alternative solutions.”

This is the third of a number of leaks, which began on November 5. The leaks claim that the UK government-funded group “Integrity Initiative” (II), which was founded by the Institute of Statecraft, has a network of journalists, analysts and former politicians who make up a Europe-wide chain of “clusters” that help London meddle in other state’s affairs.

Commenting on the previous leak, the II neither confirmed nor denied that the documents were genuine, saying that it didn’t have time to validate them.

However, II did confirm that the organization has, indeed, been receiving funding from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) for the past two years, but insisted that private donors were its primary source of money. Meanwhile, in response to a question by Labour MP Chris Williamson last week, Minister for Defence, People and Veterans Tobias Ellwood admitted that the Institute for Statecraft had also received funding from the British Army and the Ministry of Defence. The FCO money came from the department’s ‘Conflict Fund’ which investigative journalist Mark Curtis exposed last year as a “secretive slush fund” which had backed “some of the world’s worst security forces.”

RT has reached out to Mr. Donnelly for comment over the contents of the “military measures” list, as well as over allegations that his organization targeted Jeremy Corbyn in an anti-smear campaign which are now being investigated by the Foreign Office. He declined to comment.

“Thank you very much for your enquiry but as RT is a state-sponsored propaganda organization and not a legitimate news channel, we have no comment to make,” Donnelly said in a mailed statement.

December 17, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Leaked Memo Touts UK-Funded Firm’s Ability To Create “Untraceable” News Sites For “Infowar Campaign”

By Tyler Durden – Zero Hedge – 12/15/2018

The hacking collective known as “Anonymous” has published more explosive documents detailing a UK-based psyop to create a “large-scale information secret service” in Europe in order to combat “Russian propaganda”  which has been blamed for everything from Brexit to Trump winning the 2016 US election to this month’s anti-Macron “Yellow Vest” protests.

We previously detailed the first trove of documents which were dumped online November 5th to the site Cyberguerilla, revealing the private UK organization with deep government ties, the Integrity Initiative, to be engaged in an aggressive campaign to organize “clusters” of journalists across the West engaged in “counter-propaganda” efforts on social media networks and in media. And now a new trove of leaked Integrity Initiative documents has been dumped online Friday.

“Combatting Russian Disinformation” – Screenshot from a bombshell newly leaked document published Friday and hosted on the Cyberguerilla site.

This week the Integrity Initiative and its founding parent organization, the Institute for Statecraft — which is known for its close relationship with the UK military and defense officials — is at the center of debate in the House of Commons over its anti-Corbyn and anti-Labour smears involving labeling party leader Jeremy Corbyn a “useful idiot” for Moscow, even while the company is a recipient of official Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) funding.

The early November online leaks of confidential Integrity Initiative documents were the first to reveal the UK government’s relationship to the private project devoted to “fighting Russian disinformation”. According to The Guardian :

FCO funding of the Integrity Initiative was revealed by a set of stolen documents posted online last month by hackers under the banner of the Anonymous hacktivist collective. The organisation has not disputed their authenticity, but in a statement suggested that Russia was responsible for the hack and that Moscow had used its media channels to amplify its impact.

We noted previously that the work done by the Initiative  which claims it is not affiliated with government bodies, is done under “absolute secrecy via concealed contacts embedded throughout British embassies,” according to memos in the November leak. It does, however, admit to working with unnamed British “government agencies.”

Friday’s document dump via “Anonymous” is the third such release, and already some bombshell information has come to light.

The geopolitical blog, Moon of Alabama, was the first to unearth and analyze one of the more interesting among the document trove:

A “strictly confidential” proposal by the French company Lexfo to spread the Integrity Initiative’s state-sponsored propaganda through an offensive online influence campaigns for a monthly pay per language of €20-40.000. The proposal also includes an offer for “counter activism” through “negative PR, legal actions, ethical hack back, etc.” for €50,000 per month.

The document is marked “Strictly confidential” and lays out a “comprehensive action proposal” which repeatedly invokes Russian state funded media outlets RT and Sputnik as enemy disinformation to be defeated.

The proposal touts the ability of an Integrity Initiative partner  the French cybersecurity firm Lexfo — to create “indirect” and “untraceable” news content, including its ability to conduct “naming and shaming” campaigns targeting “allies” of “Russian disinformation”.

Presumably “allies” means any person or entity that happens to align with the Russian viewpoint on any given issue. The shaming campaigns and counter-information operations will be conducted “across hundreds of credible media outlets”.

Alarmingly, the document notes that:

 “where we lack platforms to publish our content… we will create news media sites serving our objectives…”

Again, both the contracting cybersecurity firm and the Integrity Initiative’s role in literally creating media sites out of thin air for the purpose of “serving our objectives” will remain “untraceable”.

As part of the “infowar campaign” teams of media operatives across Europe and the U.S. will “monitor” and edit social media pages as well as Wikipedia entries, according to the leaked document.

“Hot topics” which especially need to be monitored include the Ukraine conflict and any situation wherein “pro-Western local politicians” could be swayed by “Russian-backed trolls”

The teams will engage in “special operations” which are listed as:

  • negative PR
  • legal actions
  • ethical hack back 

And which populations are to be targeted? The document specifically mentions seeking out a Russian audience alongside Western countries: “This plan should be implemented in every targeted country and language, including Russia.”

These “influence operations” come at a price, according to the document. One figure which is floated is a monthly pay per language fee of €20-40.000, making it classic government subsidized mass propaganda (again, the company has been confirmed as receiving FCO funding).

Given that this looks like merely the tip of the iceberg in terms of similar such UK and US funded “combating disinformation” projects conducted in partnership with private entities out there, these initiatives have most likely already been active for years.

December 15, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | 1 Comment

Every Single Member of US Congress Approved Crushing Sanctions on Nicaragua

By Ben Norton | Gray Zone | December 14, 2018

Every single member in both chambers of the US Congress approved legislation that will impose sanctions and financial restrictions on Nicaragua in an explicit effort to weaken its government.

Known as the NICA Act, the bill is now on its way to the desk of President Donald Trump, who will almost certainly sign it into law. Its passage was spearheaded by neoconservative lawmakers centered around the Miami lobby of right-wing Latin American exiles dedicated to eradicating any iteration of socialism in the Western hemisphere.

The United States has spent decades trying to topple Nicaragua’s government, now led by the left-wing Sandinista movement. In April, US-backed opposition figures launched an unsuccessful and exceedingly violent coup attempt in the Central American country — one of the last bastions of leftist politics in an increasingly right-leaning Latin America.

The newly approved Nicaraguan Investment and Conditionality Act (NICA) will give the US president the authority to impose targeted sanctions on Nicaraguan government officials, former officials, or people purportedly “acting on behalf of” Managua.

The bill also seeks to prevent international financial institutions from providing “any loan or financial or technical assistance” to Nicaragua’s government.

The NICA Act enjoyed bipartisan support, but the campaign behind it was largely led by neoconservative Florida Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, with help from Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. Ros-Lehtinen and Cruz met for a Facebook live this December 13 to celebrate the bill’s passage.

In June, these three right-wing Cuban-American lawmakers gathered with young leaders of the Nicaraguan opposition in Washington, DC.

The NICA Act encourages the US government to increase assistance to anti-government “civil society in Nicaragua, including independent media, human rights, and anti-corruption organizations” and to “support the protection of human rights and anti-corruption advocates in Nicaragua.”

The legislation also suggests that political negotiations should be “mediated by the Catholic Church in Nicaragua,” which has for decades supported violent right-wing forces in the region.

This October, leaked audio revealed the Catholic Church’s auxiliary bishop of Managua, Silvio Baez, conspiring with the opposition to oust Nicaragua’s elected president, Daniel Ortega.

“The unity that we need at this moment must include everyone opposed to the government, even if they are suspected of being opportunists, abortionists, homosexuals, [drug] traffickers…,” Baez declared, according to a translation of the leaked audio.

Baez urged the opposition to put up more of the tranque roadblocks that had plunged the country into violence and strangled its economy, describing them as “an extraordinary invention.”

In November, USAID Director Mark Green announced an infusion of $4 million to civil society and media groups opposed to the Sandinista front.

Neoconservative gloating

In September, the NICA Act was combined with a remarkably similar bill from Democratic New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez: the Nicaragua Human Rights and Anticorruption Act, which imposed additional sanctions on Nicaraguan government officials.

Menendez – a Cuban-American whose legal defense from corruption charges was bankrolled by the pro-Israel lobby – joined his neoconservative colleagues in referring to Nicaragua’s democratically elected president, Daniel Ortega, as a “dictator” who leads a “regime.”

Ortega — who voluntarily stepped down from power after losing an election to a US-backed right-wing oligarch in 1990 — won his third presidential term in 2011 with 62 percent of the vote, in what international observers recognized was a fair election. Even the staunchly anti-Sandinista New York Times admitted at the time that Ortega had widespread support.

Ros-Lehtinen declared that “the NICA Act that will help the Nicaraguan people break free of Ortega’s despotic rule.” She has previously insinuated that Nicaragua was a national security threat to the US, proclaiming, “We must also remain vigilant of efforts by Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, China and Iran that continue to help Ortega with military equipment, surveillance, and other technology support.”

For his part, Rubio boasted, “We are one step closer to expanding sanctions and other pressures against the oppressive Ortega regime.”

In lieu of a formal vote, the NICA Act was sent to the bipartisan House Committee on Foreign Affairs for amendments, and these changes were then agreed to by each chamber, without any objections.

On November 27, amendments for the combined legislation were approved with unanimous consent in the Senate. Then on December 11, the changes were unanimously approved in the House without objection.

US corporate media echoes Nicaragua’s US-backed opposition

The unanimous approval of the de facto economic embargo on Nicaragua received very little attention in the English-language media. The story was covered by only a small handful of local news outlets, although it received much more attention in right-wing Spanish-language media.

In an interview with Confidencial – an opposition outlet funded by the US government’s National Endowment for Democracy regime change arm – Nicaragua’s former foreign affairs minister Norman Caldera exclaimed that the “NICA Act is a devastating blow for the regime.”

The right-wing channel 100% Noticias, whose director, Miguel Mora, stands accused by family members of coup victims of inciting hatred and violence, echoed the celebratory language.

CNN Español reported favorably on the NICA Act (it even has a tag on its website devoted to the law), although its English-language counterpart demonstrated little interest. CNN Español referred to the democratically elected government in Managua as a “regime” and noted, “The opposition of Nicaragua celebrates this decision.”

The chaos unleashed by last summer’s coup attempt has badly bled Nicaragua’s economy, plunging growth from a steady five percent to almost zero and eliminating tens of thousands of jobs. With the NICA Act, the US and its local proxies are hoping that exacerbating the economic desperation even further will bend a largely non-compliant Nicaraguan population to their will.

December 15, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

Yes, Virginia, There Is a Deep State…

… and Bob Parry Exposed It

By Ray McGovern | Consortium News | December 13, 2018

A year ago yesterday, it became fully clear what was behind the feverish attempt by our intelligence agencies and their mainstream media accomplices to emasculate President Donald Trump with the Russia-gate trope.

It turned out that the objective was not only to delegitimize Trump and make it impossible for him to move toward a more decent relationship with Russia.

On December 12, 2017, it became manifestly clear that it was not only the usual suspects — the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think-Tank Complex, namely, the Boeings, Lockheeds, and Raytheons profiteering on high tension with Russia; not only greedy members of Congress upon whom defense contractors lavish some of their profits; not only the TV corporations controlled by those same contractors; and not only the Democrats desperately searching for a way to explain how Hillary Clinton could have lost to the buffoon we now have in the White House.

No, it was deeper than that. It turns out a huge part of the motivation behind Russia-gate was to hide how the Department of Justice, FBI, and CIA (affectionately known as the Deep State) — with their co-opted “assets” in the media — interfered in the 2016 election in a gross attempt to make sure Trump did not win.

Russia-gate: Cui Bono?

This would become crystal clear, even to cub reporters, when the text exchanges between senior FBI officials Peter Strzok and girlfriend Lisa Page were released exactly a year ago. Typically, readers of The New York Times the following day would altogether miss the importance of the text-exchanges.

Readers of Robert Parry’s article on December 13, 2017, “The Foundering Russia-gate ‘Scandal,” would be gently led to understand the importance of this critical extra dimension explaining the media-cum-anonymous-intelligence-sources frenzied effort to push the prevailing Russia-gate narrative, and — how captivated and unprofessional the mainstream media had become.

Bob Parry did not call me frequently to compare notes, but he did call on Dec. 12, 2017 for a sanity check on the release of the Strzok-Page texts. We agreed on their significance, and I was tempted to volunteer a draft to appear the next day. But it was clear that Bob wanted to take the lead, and it would turn out to be his last substantive piece. He had already laid the groundwork with three articles earlier that month. (All three are worth reading again. Here are the links.

Here’s how Bob began his article on the Strzok-Page bombshell. (Not a fragment of it seemed to impact mainstream media.):

“The disclosure of fiercely anti-Trump text messages between two romantically involved senior FBI officials who played key roles in the early Russia-gate inquiry has turned the supposed Russian-election-meddling “scandal” into its own scandal, by providing evidence that some government investigators saw it as their duty to block or destroy Donald Trump’s presidency.

“As much as the U.S. mainstream media has mocked the idea that an American ‘deep state’ exists and that it has maneuvered to remove Trump from office, the text messages between senior FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok and senior FBI lawyer Lisa Page reveal how two high-ranking members of the government’s intelligence/legal bureaucracy saw their role as protecting the United States from an election that might elevate to the presidency someone as unfit as Trump.”

Parry’s Cri de Coeur

Fast forwarding just two weeks, Bob had a stroke on Christmas Eve, which seriously affected his eyesight. By New Year’s Eve 2017, though, he was able to “apologize” (typical Bob) to Consortium News readers for not filing for two weeks.

In January, he had additional strokes. When I visited him in the hospital, he was not himself. What is indelible in my memory, though, is the way he kept repeating from his hospital bed: “It’s too much; it’s just too much, too much.”

What was too much?

Since Bob told me how hard he had to struggle, with impaired vision, to put together his Dec. 31 piece, and since what he wrote throws such light on Bob and the prostitution of the profession he loved so much, I include a few excerpts below. (Forgive me, but I cannot, for the life of me, pare them down further.)

These paragraphs from Bob are required reading for those who want to have a some clue as to what has been going on in Washington, and the Faustian bargain Strzok — sorry, I mean struck — between the media and the Deep State. Here’s what Bob, clear-eyed, despite fuzzy eyesight, wrote:

“On Christmas Eve, I suffered a stroke that has affected my eyesight (especially my reading and thus my writing) although apparently not much else. The doctors have also been working to figure out exactly what happened since I have never had high blood pressure, I never smoked, and my recent physical found nothing out of the ordinary. Perhaps my personal slogan that ‘every day’s a work day’ had something to do with this.

“Perhaps, too, the unrelenting ugliness that has become Official Washington and national journalism was a factor. It seems that since I arrived in Washington in 1977 as a correspondent for The Associated Press, the nastiness of American democracy and journalism has gone from bad to worse. …

“More and more I would encounter policymakers, activists and, yes, journalists who cared less about a careful evaluation of the facts and logic and more about achieving a pre-ordained geopolitical result –and this loss of objective standards reached deeply into the most prestigious halls of American media. This perversion of principles –twisting information to fit a desired conclusion – became the modus vivendi of American politics and journalism. And those of us who insisted on defending the journalistic principles of skepticism and
evenhandedness were increasingly shunned by our colleagues … Everything became ‘information warfare.’ …

“The demonization of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia is just the most dangerous feature of this propaganda process – and this is where the neocons and the liberal interventionists most significantly come together. The U.S. media’s approach to Russia is now virtually 100 percent propaganda. Does any sentient human being read the New York Times’ or the Washington Post’s coverage of Russia and think that he or she is getting a neutral or unbiased treatment of the facts? … The American people and the West in general are carefully shielded from hearing the ‘other side of the story.’ Indeed to even suggest that there is another side to the story makes you a ‘Putin apologist’ or ‘Kremlin stooge.’

“Western journalists now apparently see it as their patriotic duty to hide key facts that otherwise would undermine the demonizing of Putin and Russia. Ironically, many ‘liberals’ who cut their teeth on skepticism about the Cold War and the bogus justifications for the Vietnam War now insist that we must all accept whatever the U.S. intelligence community feeds us, even if we’re told to accept the assertions on faith. …

“The hatred of Trump and Putin was so intense that old-fashioned rules of journalism and fairness were brushed aside. On a personal note, I faced harsh criticism even from friends of many years for refusing to enlist in the anti-Trump ‘Resistance.’ The argument was that Trump was such a unique threat to America and the world that I should join in finding any justification for his ouster. Some people saw my insistence on the same journalistic standards that I had always employed somehow a betrayal.

“Other people, including senior editors across the mainstream media, began to treat the unproven Russia-gate allegations as flat fact. No skepticism was tolerated and mentioning the obvious bias among the never-Trumpers inside the FBI, Justice Department and intelligence community was decried as an attack on the integrity of the U.S. government’s institutions. Anti-Trump ‘progressives’ were posturing as the true patriots because of their now unquestioning acceptance of the evidence-free proclamations of the U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

“Hatred of Trump had become like some invasion of the body snatchers –or perhaps many of my journalistic colleagues had never believed in the principles of journalism that I had embraced throughout my adult life. To me, journalism wasn’t just a cover for political activism; it was a commitment to the American people and the world to tell important news stories as fully and fairly as I could; not to slant the ‘facts’ to ‘get’ some ‘bad’ political leader or ‘guide’ the public
in some desired direction.”

Robert Parry, who exposed Deep State skullduggery in the Iran-Contra affair, died on January 27, 2018. Our corrupt media, though, live on in infamy. Strokes and pancreatic cancer were named as the cause. But I think Bob was also a casualty of the Faustian media/Deep State bargain. It was just “too much.”

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. Bob Parry was happily surprised when he learned that CIA and other intelligence analysts, as opposed to operations people, were as devoted as he was to spreading some truth around; he welcomed our input — in particular the corporate memos from Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity; the VIPS archive on CN appears at: https://consortiumnews.com/vips-memos/

December 13, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , | 6 Comments

MSM Trying to Call Routine US Black Sea Activity ‘Strategic Manoeuvre’ – Admiral

Sputnik – 12.12.2018

In an interview with Sputnik, Retired Rear Admiral of the Turkish Navy Cem Gürdeniz has commented on CNN reports that the US is preparing to send a warship to the Black Sea. The message emphasises that the US may require Turkey to allow its military ships to pass through the Bosphorus into the Black Sea under the Montreux Convention.

According to Gürdeniz, with such messages, American media outlets are trying to portray usual, routine US activity in the Black Sea as a kind of a “strategic manoeuvre”.

“Ukraine made a series of efforts in order to win over NATO after the incident in Kerch. But the Alliance did not take any concrete steps to ensure the security of Ukraine in the event of a possible future crisis with Russia in the region. Therefore, the purpose of such statements is to try to calm the Ukrainian authorities and the public. In this regard, the American press represents the standard activity of NATO ships in the Black Sea related to exercises or port visits as a “new diplomatic and strategic manoeuvre”, he stressed.

Emphasising that the current situation in the region complies with the provisions of the Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits, Gürdeniz added that NATO ships were present in the waters of the region for 120 days a year, and this corresponds to the provisions of the Montreux Convention.

“At present, a well-established framework continues to operate in this regard that fully meets the requirements of the Convention Regarding the Straits, while a number of international TV channels and leading news agencies strive to create the impression that some new requirements are being put forward that have not previously been expressed,” he noted.

All these actions are nothing more than an operation to form public opinion, the expert noted.

“Information about the possible passage of American military vessels through the Kerch Strait is in itself provocative. I do think that this is not the case here at all. This is mere speculation thrown into the media space through MSM in order to form a certain agenda and public opinion. I have seen recent Pentagon statements on this issue. There was no mention of the Kerch Strait or the Sea of Azov in them. Since 1954, no military vessel may enter the waters of the Sea of Azov, which has the status of inland waters, without the permission of Russia”, he added.

Having recalled that, according to the Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits signed in 1936, countries that do not have access to the Black Sea must request permission within 15 days from Turkey for the passage of their warships through the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles.

“We face a situation in which they try to present a system that has been functioning for a long time as something new. This is the same as saying that ‘ExxonMobil will conduct exploration on the No. 10 field in the Eastern Mediterranean, thus America is sending its warships.’ But at the end, America has already been present in the Mediterranean since 1946”, Gürdeniz concluded.

December 12, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

The Bowdlerized Bush Obituaries

Something is missing

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • December 11, 2018

When George H.W. Bush died on November 30th, America’s two self-proclaimed newspapers of record The Washington Post and The New York Times were both quick off the mark in publishing what appeared to be definitive obituaries of the former president and statesman that had clearly been prepared in advance. The obit by The Times and that by The Post differed little in substance but they had one curious omission, i.e. President G.H.W. Bush’s eighteen month confrontation with Israel and its powerful domestic lobby.

In 1991-1992 President Bush engaged in a series of sharp exchanges with Israel and its American lobby over the issue of $10 billion in loan guarantees to the Jewish state to pay for the resettlement of Russian Jews, who were beginning to arrive in both Israel and the West in large numbers. Bush correctly assumed that the loans would in fact also subsidize the expansions of illegal settlements on the West Bank and in Gaza, which the U.S. government opposed, so he said “no” to the loans. After a series of increasingly acrimonious exchanges back and forth, Bush, facing election, withdrew his objections and the loans were approved, but he was the only U.S. president since John F. Kennedy to confront the Israel Lobby in any serious way. Kennedy was, of course, assassinated and Bush was defeated for reelection.

Both G.H.W. Bush and many other observers of the campaign and election believed the loss to Bill Clinton in 1992 was at least in part attributable to the actions of Israel and its friends. The conflict between Bush and the Israeli government backed up by the Israel Lobby and a number of congressmen and media outlets began in the spring of 1991. By September, President Bush refused to approve the loan guarantees as he believed that withholding approval of the money would give the U.S. leverage in peace negotiations with the Arabs that were planned for the end of the year in Madrid. Bush felt that Israeli Prime Minister was not taking the U.S. seriously because he believed that he would get what was wanted from Congress in any event without stopping settlement construction or having to concede anything to the Palestinians. There was also a distinct possibility that the Israelis would not bother to participate in Madrid without some kind of possible financial inducement.

Bush fought hard against the Israeli government and the thousands of American Jews plus their organizations that mobilized against him. Thomas Dine, Executive Director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) declared that the day when Bush rejected the loan guarantees would prove to be “a day that lives in infamy for the American pro-Israeli community.” Sentiment against the president in the Jewish community was so intense that many prominent American Jews to this day consider any nostalgia towards the man or his presidency to be an expression of anti-Semitism.

Bush did not roll over. He famously called a press conference in which he said: “We’re up against very strong and effective, sometimes, groups that go up to the Hill. I heard today there were something like a thousand lobbyists on the Hill working the other side of the question. We’ve got one little guy down here doing it… The Constitution charges the president with the conduct of the nation’s foreign policy… There is an attempt by some in Congress to prevent the president from taking steps central to the nation’s security. But too much is at stake for domestic politics to take precedence over peace.”

In October Bush obtained a four-month delay in the loans, a defeat for the Israel Lobby, but the process dragged on into the following summer. On August 12, 1992, Bush, in trouble with his presidential campaign, finally approved the guarantees, which would enable the Israelis to borrow money at a low interest rate. Ironically, by June 1993, none of the borrowed money had been used and Israeli sources admitted that they have never needed the loans. The entire affair was actually a test of strength against the U.S. government, a competition that the Israelis and their friends had persevered in and won.

None of the tale of the Israeli loans appeared in either obituary. Nor was there any hint that Bush might have lost the election in part because pro-Israel forces worked actively against him. Voting tallies reveal a sharp shift in Jewish votes in swing districts to favor Clinton but the impact of Jewish money into the campaign as well as the anti-Bush media onslaught are inevitably more difficult to assess. The Times of Israel observed that “He made clear the cost of an American president waging a political fight against the vast coalition of pro-Israel lobbying groups. In doing so, he exposed the limits of what the world’s most powerful man can do…” George Herbert Walker Bush certainly believed that he was defeated by the Israeli government and its lobby, and he passed that judgment on to his son George W. who was careful not to anger the Israeli/Jewish constituency.

G.H.W. Bush was not the first American statesman to be on the receiving end of a bowdlerized obituary over the subject of Israel. In February 1995, former Senator William Fulbright was remembered by The Times without any reference to his views on the Middle East that had led to his failure to be reelected. As head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Fulbright’s was a powerful voice that could not be ignored. He wrote: “So completely have many of our principal officeholders fallen under Israeli influence that they not only deny today the legitimacy of Palestinian national aspirations, but debate who more passionately opposes a Palestinian state. The lobby can just about tell the president what to do when it comes to Israel.”

In Fulbright’s case, the Lobby launched a media and personal vilification campaign against him when he came up for reelection in 1974. Late in the campaign, they came up with an opposition candidate Dale Bumpers whom they generously funded and Fulbright was defeated. His obituaries in the mainstream media would have the reader believe that none of that had actually happened.

Fulbright was followed a decade later by Senator Charles Percy of Illinois who was targeted by the Israeli Lobby because he had voted to approve the sale of AWACS planes to Saudi Arabia. His defeat was choreographed by the Israel Lobby and wealthy Jews and was henceforth called the “Percy Factor,” a warning to even the most established politicians never to trifle with Jewish power. Percy died in 2011 and he too received an obituary from The New York Times that ignored his involvement with the Middle East and the Israel Lobby.

The self-censorship by the media when the topic is Israel is remarkable, nowhere more evident than in the obituaries of leading politicians who had anything at all to do with the Middle East. George H.W. Bush, William Fulbright and Charles Percy all confronted the Israel Lobby because they were patriots aware of the terrible damage it was doing to the actual interests of the United States. In a sense, all three of them enjoyed some success but were eventually defeated by Israel and its friends within the American oligarchy. No other foreign policy lobby, indeed, no other lobby of any sort, has that kind of power in the United States. The obituary of G.H.W. Bush should serve as a warning, recalling a comment sometimes attributed to Voltaire: “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.”

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

December 11, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Illegal Occupation, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

The EU and the warning signs of Fascism

Image source – here
By Kit Knightly | OffGuardian | December 10, 2018

Things are spiralling out of control in Europe, faster than many predicted. Outside of Brexit, there is strong anti-EU feeling in Hungary, Spain, Italy, Greece and France. The EU is in danger of crumbling, and people afraid of losing power are prone to extreme acts of dictatorial control.

How long before the EU truly becomes the authoritarian force that people from both ends of the political spectrum have always feared?

The EU Defence Force

Earlier this year, the EU voted to “punish” one of its own members, Hungary, for the internal policies of its elected government. To be clear about this – whatever you think of Viktor Orban, he was elected by the people of Hungary. He is their legally recognised democratic leader. Hungary voted for him – in contrast, Hungary did NOT vote for any of the 448 MEPs who supported the motion, posed by Dutch MEP Judith Sargentini, that:

The Hungarian people deserve better… They deserve freedom of speech, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice and equality, all of which are enshrined in the European treaties.”

Note that “democracy” is not included on that list. “Tolerance”, “justice” and “equality”, but not democracy. A Freudian slip, perhaps.

The European Parliament vote was, itself, a corrupt nonsense – one in which abstentions were disregarded so the 2/3rds majority could be reached. Forcing through a bill that, essentially, calls for a change of regime in Hungary via:

“appropriate measures to restore inclusive democracy, the rule of law and respect for fundamental rights in Hungary”

One suggested punishment – “The Nuclear Option” – is a loss of voting rights. Hungary would still be a member of the EU, would still have to pay into the EU, would still have to obey all EU laws and regulations, but would no longer have a say in what those laws were.

This would, notionally, be in defence of “inclusive democracy”.

How long before disapproval and punishment of certain leaders turns into outright removal? Can we really say that would never happen?

This month, Paris (and other French cities) have seen the massive Gilets Jaunes protests against the fuel tax, austerity and income inequality. The violent repression of these protests has received no criticism from either individual member states of the EU, or the EU itself. However, an armored vehicle painted with the EU’s insignia was seen on the streets of Paris.

Both Macron and Merkel have talked, recently, of the need for an EU Army – will these protests in France be used as an excuse to implement those plans?

Let’s assume the EU Army is brought about – let us supply the European Union with its coveted “defence force”. 250,000 hypothetical men, drawn from all the member states. What is their purpose? What is their function?

For example, would they have been deployed to Catalonia last year to “keep the peace”? Would an EU army have moved against a peaceful vote to “defend” the integrity of the Union?

Would a possible step in dealing with Viktor Orban’s government be to deploy the EU Defence Force to Budapest and remove the man who is a threat to “equality”? Would that count as “appropriate measures to restore inclusive democracy”?

If Brexit is ruled a “threat to human rights” (or some other collection of buzzwords), would the EU army be rolling armoured vehicles along the streets of London to protect us from ourselves?

There have been, and could be, many situations in the EU’s recent past where military intervention was only avoided because it literally wasn’t an option. An EU Army would make it an option, do we trust Brussels not to avail themselves of it?

Some argue that an EU Army would be a good thing because it would decrease Europe’s reliance on NATO, and remove US influence. I don’t believe that to be the case, and as evidence, I supply the fact that the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a well-known US-backed NGO, is very much in favour of the plan.

The EU’s Ministry of Truth

Of course, the increasing possibility of an EU consensus imposed by force is only one part of the threat.

Outside of physical repression – both by the EU (of national sovereignty), and by the state (of the individual right to protest) – there are warning signs of intellectual repression. A coming crackdown on freedom of expression and opinion.

There is a scary article on The Guardian today: Russia ‘paved way for Ukraine ship seizures with fake news drive’ . It’s not scary because of the headline – it’s scary because of the motivations behind it, and the implications for the future of Europe.

The meat of the article is an unsourced, unlinked, evidence-free claim of Russian malfeasance, and as such, Hitchens’ Razor applies.

The first half of the article is riddled with lies, omissions and mistakes. It’s the Guardian, you expect that. Disregard the babble about cholera and nuclear bombs. Disregard the factual errors – many though they are. In this instance, none of it matters.

All that matters is the second half – the proposed “solution” to the “problem” to which this article is a “reaction”. Namely, online disinformation. Specifically, “Russian” online disinformation.

Julian King, former UK ambassador to France and now EU security commissioner, wants tech companies to take steps to prevent the spread of “fake news”. It’s a war against dissent, with three fronts.

One – establish the “truth”:

Last week the European Commission announced it would set up a rapid alert system to help EU member states recognise disinformation campaigns

Essentially, there will be an EU mandated list of acceptable “news”, and anything which deviates from that in the slightest way will be branded “disinformation”. This will allow people to dismiss, rather than engage with, views that differ from their own.

Two – eliminate dissent:

King said social media platforms needed to identify and close down fake accounts that were spreading disinformation.

By “fake accounts”, they mean accounts which spread “disinformation”. Being a “bot” is not about whether or not you are a real person, it’s about whether or not you have the right opinions. As has been demonstrated, they either do not know or do not care who is real and who is not. Perfectly real people have been labelled Russian bots in the media, when they are proven to be neither Russian nor bots. Whether this is incompetence or corruption does not matter, the point is governments have shown they cannot be trusted on this issue.

Three – control the narrative:

We need to see greater clarity around algorithms, information on how they prioritise what content to display, for example. If you search for anything EU-related on Google, content from Russian propaganda outlets like RT or Sputnik is invariably in the first few results…. All of this should be subject to independent oversight and audit.

The Google algorithm is allowing news that either disagrees with the EU, or is directly critical of it, to be shown in their results. This is unacceptable. What the EU security commissioner wants is for Google to “fix” their system, to make sure news that deviates from the EU’s agenda does not show up in their results.

Now, if you think that sounds like censorship, don’t worry because [our emphasis]:

What we are not trying to do is to censor the internet. There is no suggestion that we – or anyone else – should become the arbiter of what content users should or shouldn’t be consuming online. This is about transparency, not censorship.

The EU wants Google to remove certain websites from their algorithm, but it’s about transparency, not censorship. So that’s OK.

Conclusion

To sum up:

  • The European Union’s two major figureheads are both in favour of an EU army.
  • The European Union’s flag is painted on armoured vehicles repressing anti-government protests in France.
  • The European Union is putting aside £4.6 millio (5 million Euros) to “help people recognise disinformation”.
  • The European Union wants to pressure social media companies into “shutting down” accounts that spread “fake news”.
  • The European Union wants Google to alter their algorithm, to promote news that praises the EU and demote sites critical of it.
  • The European Union wants us to understand that this is about “transparency” and is definitely NOT censorship.

Does this sound like an organization of which we want to be a part? Are we supposed to like the proposed multi-national EU “defense force” putting down anti-EU marches on the streets of Barcelona or Rome? To cheer on the idea that the EU Army could be sent into non-cooperative member-states to remove “dangerous” elected leaders because they are a threat to “equality”?

We won’t even be able to get to the truth of those matters, because the EU will be supplying lists of “fake news” social media accounts to Twitter and Facebook, who will dutifully shut them down. While Google alters and re-alters their algorithm to make sure any news covering EU repression of democracy is pushed so far down the results pages it may as well not exist.

The British press, pundits and talking heads are constantly referring to the “Brexit crisis”, but that’s just hysteria and fear mongering. Re-negotiating your position in a trade bloc is NOT a crisis. A crisis is what happens when an unelected, bureaucratic power structure suddenly senses its grip on power is slipping, and acts accordingly.

And a crisis could well be on the horizon. The signs are there, if you want to see them.

Kit Knightly is co-editor of OffGuardian. The Guardian banned him from commenting. Twice. He used to write for fun, but now he’s forced to out of a near-permanent sense of outrage.

December 10, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Protests in France are internal affair, claims of Russia’s involvement are slander – Kremlin

RT | December 10, 2018

Moscow considers protests in France to be an internal affair of that country, and claims of Russia’s involvement in the events are slander, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday.

Russia sees everything that happens in France as “purely an internal affair” of that country, the spokesman told reporters.

“We have not interfered and are not going to interfere in the internal affairs of any countries, including France,” he said.

Peskov added that Moscow attaches great importance to developing relations with Paris, and respects France’s sovereignty.

December 10, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | | 2 Comments

Poroshenko’s “Crimean Corridor” Claims Are Preconditioning Prior To A False Flag

By Andrew KORYBKO – Oriental Review – 10/12/2018

Ukrainian President Poroshenko is fearmongering about Russia again after spreading fake news about Moscow’s so-called “Crimean Corridor” plan.

The Eastern European leader claimed that his eastern nemesis was planning to seize the coastal towns of Mariupol and Berdyansk on the Sea of Azov in order to connect Donbas with the Crimean peninsula, something that Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described as “absolutely absurd, another attempt to somehow spark tensions”, which he also suggested might be influenced by the run-up to Ukraine’s presidential elections next spring. All rhetoric aside, however, Russia has no practical reason to create this so-called “corridor” in the first place considering that it successfully built the Crimean Bridge across the Kerch Strait and therefore has direct access to its reunified territory.

Donbas isn’t recognized by Russia as anything other than a rebellious region of Ukraine, and the areas outside of it between that part of the country and Crimea aren’t even party to the country’s civil war. It might be that some media demagogues and/or Donbas rebels previously decided to score political points at home by flirting with this idea, but it certainly isn’t anything that Russia takes seriously because it would imply a formal military intervention into its neighbor’s territory and the actual annexation of its territory, something that Moscow has never done and has no intention to ever do. The recent incident in the Kerch Strait proved that Russia can neutralize any naval threat in and around the Azov Sea, so there’s no military reason for it to want to capture those Ukrainian towns on the coast.

Instead, it appears as though Poroshenko’s claims are aimed at preconditioning the Western public into expecting a rebel move on this region, possibly in advance of forthcoming Ukrainian military provocations before the elections intended to provoke a response that could be decontextualized, misportrayed, and then over-amplified to its intended audience as purportedly playing into this paradigm. That could explain why the Ukrainian leader ridiculously asserted that Russia has 80,000 troops and 900 tanks in and around his country, which is evidently serving as his ‘publicly plausible’ pretext at home to implement martial law, call up the reserves, and possibly prepare for the aforementioned false flag scenario.

There’s no such thing as the so-called “Crimean Corridor”, but it plays to Poroshenko’s domestic political interests to pretend that there is, and if he’s even partially successful at manipulating international perceptions surrounding this fake news narrative after possibly provoking the rebels to play into his hands, then he could reap some grand strategic benefits from it by positioning himself as the only Ukrainian leader capable of defending the country from so-called “Russian aggression”. This could manifest itself in increased NATO assistance and the West’s wink-and-a-nod approval of him either rigging the upcoming vote to his favor or indefinitely delaying it due to what he might claim are “wartime conditions”. All of this is extremely dangerous because, as they say, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”.

December 10, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | 2 Comments

Mainstream Media Assaults on Freedom of Speech. “The Truth” is No Longer “Important”

Alternative news sources have come under sustained attacks

By Shane Quinn – Global Research – December 7, 2018

The New York Times unveiled a new slogan early in 2017 titled, “The truth is more important now than ever.” It has acquired a seemingly noble motto but a perhaps contentious one if we examine the Times’ recent history. Two international law specialists, Howard Friel and Richard Falk, published a book after the 2003 Invasion of Iraq called The Record of the Paper, which has scarcely been reviewed.

Friel and Falk focused on the Times due to the newspaper’s importance. The authors point out that in 70 Times editorials on Iraq – from September 11, 2001 to March 20, 2003 – the words “international law” and “UN Charter” were never mentioned. The “truth” did not seem terribly “important” as the Times stood idly by in the destruction of Iraq.

Such was the barrage of propaganda directed at the American public that 69% believed Saddam Hussein was “personally involved” in the September 11 attacks. That is a significant achievement in manipulation. The poll results must have been news to the Iraqi dictator himself, a forgotten one-time American ally.

Why Hussein would take it upon himself to orchestrate a surprise attack on the United States, of all nations, is anyone’s guess. Perhaps if he had a death wish but as later events proved he was not the suicidal type.

The Times was not alone in its position of selling the Iraq war to the American people, as television networks from Fox News to CBS and CNN were overwhelmingly pro-war. Fox News, owned by Rupert Murdoch – who strongly backed the illegal conflict – placed a permanent US flag in the corner of the screen. Fox employees were compelled to describe the invasion as “Operation Iraqi Freedom”, with hundreds of thousands of Iraqis later being killed.

The pattern continues into other illegitimate interventions as the liberal Guardian newspaper championed the demolition of Libya in 2011, with editorials imploring, “The quicker Muammar Gaddafi falls, the better.” The Guardian encouraged NATO “to tip the military balance further against Gaddafi”, while later that year summarising that “it has turned out, so far, reasonably well” – by that point thousands had been killed.

In 2015 Ian Birrell, then deputy editor of the Independent, still assured his readers, “I would argue that Britain and France were right to step in [in Libya]. The failures came later on.” Apparently it was fine for two old imperial powers to “step in” to shatter a sovereign nation, then afterwards absolve the invaders of blame with “the failures” only coming “later on”.

Sceengrab from The Independent

It’s a rare thing indeed to hear a prominent commentator question the balance of Western mainstream coverage. The same voices can be heard piping up when alternative news sources take a different line not so palatable to their tastes.

Nick Cohen, writing in the Guardian, accused the network Russia Today (RT) of being a “propaganda channel” and that Russia was “prostituting journalism”. In the following sentence, Cohen describes the BBC and New York Times as being “reputable news organisations”.

Cohen firmly supported the Iraq war, writing at the time that “the Left betrays the Iraqi people by opposing war”, and “an American invasion offers the possibility of salvation”. He was deemed not to be “prostituting journalism” in backing this violation of international law, nor when later supporting other interventions in Libya and Syria.

The BBC’s reputation, which Cohen previously claimed to be “reputable”, was dealt a blow when it was revealed by Cardiff University that the network “displayed the most ‘pro-war’ agenda of any broadcaster” with its coverage on the Iraq invasion.

Steven Erlanger of the New York Times described RT as “an agent of Kremlin policy” used to “undermine Western democracies” and to “destabilise the West” – failing to back up the claims with any evidence. To gain perspective on these attacks, it may be worth pointing out a key excerpt from the First Amendment of the US Constitution: “Congress shall make no law… abridging [curtailing] the freedom of speech, or of the press.”

This law does not exist in Western democracies but attempts at limiting freedom of expression continue apace, while attacks on alternative media outlets by institutions of power grow. It has reached a point whereby the French president Emmanuel Macron, shortly after assuming office, publicly attacked legitimate news sources of “behaving like deceitful propaganda”.

Perhaps the hidden concern about RT, for example, is its continued increase in both popularity and scope – with the channel enjoying a total weekly viewership of 70 million people and rising. RT is available to viewers in Western heartlands such as Britain and the US, with eight million Americans watching the station each week. It represents quite an achievement that a channel with the word “Russia”, featured in its title, can attract viewers in their millions, despite the growing anti-Russian sentiment espoused by the powers-that-be.

It is revealing that elite figures like Hillary Clinton have lamented in the past, “We are in an information war and we are losing that war.” For the first time in history, populations have broad access to alternative news angles – points of view that they likely find of a more balanced nature. Gone is the unchallenged monopoly on the public mind.

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Book Review, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

The Return of the Nicaraguan Contras, and the Rise of the Pro-Contra Left

By Dan Kovalik | CounterPunch | December 7, 2018

According to our nation’s paper of record, the New York Times, the Nicaraguan Contras re-activated some time ago in order to take on their old foe, Daniel Ortega, who had been re-elected in 2007 after a long hiatus of 17 years. One may recall that it was the pressure of the Contras, and their brutal terrorist tactics, which were critical to unseating Ortega from office the first time back in 1990.

Just as a refresher, the Contras (short for “counterrevolutionaries”) were made up largely of the National Guardsmen of the US-backed dictator, Anastasio Somoza. After the successful 1979 revolution against Somoza – a revolution led by Ortega and the FSLN (or, Sandinistas) — the CIA organized the Guardsmen into the Contras and trained, armed and directed them for the purpose of undermining the fledgling Sandinista government. The Contras, with the direct encouragement of the CIA, carried out various terrorist acts which included the torture, rape and murder of civilians and the destruction of key civilian infrastructure. All told, around 30,000 Nicaraguans died in the 1980’s as a result of the US-backed Contra War.

The Contras, after effectively exhausting the Nicaraguan people and extorting them into voting Ortega out of office in 1990, largely disarmed. However, as the Times wrote back in March of 2016 in a laudatory piece about the Contras’ return, this changed sometime after Ortega’s re-election in 2007. The Times piece begins as follows:

He calls himself Tyson, wears tattered United States Army fatigues and carries a beat-up AK-47.

He is a rebel fighter in the mountains of Nicaragua, setting ambushes against President Daniel Ortega’s government and longing for the days when covert American funding paid for overt warfare.

Tyson and his men are contras — yes, like the ones from the 1980s who received stealth funding during the Reagan administration to topple Mr. Ortega’s leftist Sandinista government.   . . .

The contras of today, often nicknamed “the rearmed,” are a shadow of what they once were. . . .

Still, skirmishes in rural areas around the country as recently as last week have left police officers, civilians and soldiers dead, a violent expression of the broader anger brewing against the government.

In this same article, the Times acknowledges that “Mr. Ortega enjoys strong support among the poor . . . .” And of course, this makes absolute sense given Ortega’s enlightened social policies. As the website Popular Resistance explains,

these policies have yielded the highest growth rate in Central America and annual minimum wage increases 5-7% above inflation, improving workers’ living conditions and lifting people out of poverty. The anti-poverty Borgen project reports poverty fell by 30 percent between 2005 and 2014.

The FSLN-led government has put into place an economic model based on public investment and strengthening the safety net for the poor. The government invests in infrastructure, transit, maintains water and electricity within the public sector and moved privatized services, e.g., health care and primary education, into the public sector. This has ensured a stable economic structure that favors the real economy over the speculative economy. The lion’s share of infrastructure in Nicaragua has been built in the last 11 years, something comparable to the New Deal-era in the US, including renewable electricity plants across the country.

Still, according to the Times, the Contras re-emerged in response to what they viewed as Ortega’s over-consolidation of power.

Meanwhile, the Times was not the only one writing about these rearmed Contras. Indeed, over the years, there have been a number of reports about these Contras. According to a 2013 article in Insight Crime, for example, “estimates of the numbers of rearmed contras have varied from dozens to hundreds, and even thousands . . . .” This article explained that eight people had recently been killed as a result of Contra activity in northern Nicaragua near the Honduran border.

For his part, Tim Rogers, a viciously anti-Sandinista journalist, has been writing for years about the phenomenon of the rearmed Contras. For example, in a 2014 piece, Rogers wrote:

A deadly midnight ambush targeting government supporters in northern Nicaragua has stirred the sleeping dogs of war and raised new fears of a pending military campaign against rearmed guerrillas hiding in the mountains.

Five people were killed and 19 injured early Sunday morning in what appears to be a coordinated series of attacks against Sandinista party members traveling by bus through the mountainous coffee-growing region of Matagalpa, one of the main battlegrounds of Nicaragua’s civil war in the 1980s.Video

The buses, filled with pro-government supporters returning from Managua after a day of celebrating the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution, were fired on indiscriminately from the darkened shoulder of the road by unidentified men armed with AK-47s.

This very sort of attack against Sandinista rank and file members was played out time and again over this past summer during the three-month-long crisis which received significant media attention. Indeed, when I was in Managua this past July for the anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution, I was told that, contrary to traditional practice, there would not be buses sent to Managua from other parts of the country for the celebration for fear of such attacks.

And yet, while the mainstream press covered the crisis in Nicaragua this past summer with rapt attention, and while Tim Rogers himself published a number of pieces in the mainstream press about it, there was not one whisper about the rearmed Contras, nor was there coverage of the regular assaults against Sandinista rank and file – attacks which included torture, rape and murder. Instead, we were told by the mainstream press, and by most of the “left-wing” press as well, only of peaceful protesters being attacked by an allegedly repressive Sandinista government. And, when people were killed by sniper attacks, we were told that it had to be government security forces because the opposition used only peaceful means, and, in any case, did not have the capacity to carry out such assaults.

Just as the devil was able to do about his own existence, the greatest feat accomplished in this instance was to convince the public that the rearmed Contras did not exist. Of course, this is not a difficult task given that most Americans’ historical memory is about 24 hours.

What is most deeply disappointing and frustrating, however, is that most of the American left, which presumably should know better, has also fallen for this devil’s trick, and has quickly leapt to join in the right-wing chorus calling for the removal of Ortega and the Sandinistas from office. This despite the fact that, as journalist Max Blumenthal explained, there is clear evidence that the US itself has been behind the violent push to unseat Ortega. As Blumenthal related, on May 1, 2018, a publication funded by the Cold War-era National Endowment for Democracy (NED) “bluntly asserted that organizations backed by the NED have spent years and millions of dollars ‘laying the groundwork for insurrection’” which took place over the summer. And, the US AID just announced that it will continue this work by sending another $4 million to support opposition civil society groups in Nicaragua.

What’s more, as far back as 2012, former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst Wayne Madsen was not only writing about the rearmed Contras but also about the US and Israeli support for them. While Madsen can sometimes be prone to conspiracy theories which do not always pan out, his claims back then about this particular subject seem spot on and indeed quite prescient.

Thus, in his 2012 book, The Manufacturing of a President, Madsen claims, based upon his numerous intelligence sources, that the CIA and Mossad have both been funding these rearmed Contras, and that they have been shipping these Contras arms over both the Honduran and Costa Rican borders. He claims also that the Honduran government which came to power through the 2009 coup – a coup which the Obama Administration actively aided and abetted to unseat a leftist government which, by the way, happened to be friendly to Ortega – has been key to helping both support the Contras as well as to provide a staging ground for the covert operations to bring down the Sandinista government. In other words, Honduras is playing the very same role it did in the 1980s, and the US-backed coup in 2009 – a mere 2 years after Ortega was elected – was crucial to this role.

And, just last week, in a further attempt to unseat Ortega, the US Senate finally passed the NICA Act which will cut Nicaragua off from all international financing – financing which the Ortega government has been using to effectively combat poverty in Nicaragua. The NICA Act has been in the works for some time, and Nicaraguan opposition forces, including the Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS), have openly been lobbying for this. This, however, has not stopped most of the left in the US, who obviously have not been impressed with Ortega’s successful social programs and his real support for the poor, from cheerleading and romanticizing these very same opposition forces.

The result of the NICA Act sanctions will be massive suffering for the poor of Nicaragua who support Ortega the most. These sanctions will be particularly painful after the crisis this past summer in which the opposition managed to trash the economy along with substantial civilian infrastructure (just as the Contras had done in the 1980s). And, should Ortega be unseated as a result of all this, it will most certainly be the violent and most right-wing portion of the opposition which will take power, for it is they who have the resolve and the means to do so.

But, guided by the new religion of “humanitarian interventionism,” the pro-imperialist left of the US is indifferent to the consequences of their support, whether explicit or tacit, of Western imperial aggression.  Just as many on the US left cheered on the NATO invasion of Libya – an invasion which inevitably left that country broken and with slaves being sold openly on the streets – they now applaud the counterrevolution taking place in Nicaragua. This shows once again that the US left has a very high tolerance for the suffering of Third World peoples so long as they feel that this suffering is endured for the sake of their own abstract notions of human rights.

Daniel Kovalik teaches International Human Rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. He is also author of the newly-released, The Plot to Control the World:  How the US has Spent Billions to Change the Outcome of Elections Around the World.

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment