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Heat Wave Hysteria Coming Soon

By Donna Laframboise | Big Picture News | June 5, 2019

US data beginning in 1985, shared by Bjorn Lomborg. Rising blue line: percentage of deaths attributable to the cold. Orange line: percentage attributable to heat.

In many parts of the world, we’ve just endured an extra snowy winter followed by a cool, delayed spring. But wait for it. When hotter weather arrives it will take no time at all for media outlets to start ‘educating’ us about heat waves and dangerous climate change.

In anticipation of those ‘news’ stories, here’s an inoculation: Cold weather kills far more people than does hot weather. If we truly care about weather-related suffering and sorrow, heat waves should be near the bottom of our priority list.

On his Facebook page, Bjorn Lomborg is calling our attention to a research paper published last year in Environment International. It contains marvelous news. In 7 out of 10 countries studied, heat-related deaths have decreased since 1985.

The researchers conclude that improved health care and infrastructure (aka increased access to air conditioning), have made us less likely to die from the heat. Normal, everyday upgrades are outpacing heat-related risks. As living standards improve, higher temperatures become less life threatening.

But the news isn’t so rosy on the other side of the ledger, where most deaths connected to extreme temperatures actually occur. Depending on the country and the time frame under discussion, the ratio of cold deaths to heat deaths varies. Since Table 3 of this study includes data for all 10 countries for the years 2000-2004, the numbers below are pulled from that column.

During this five-year period no deaths in Ireland were linked to heat, but 9.34% of all deaths were attributed to cold temperatures. (Compared to the 1980s, cold-related deaths in Ireland have fallen dramatically.)

The big picture is that for every person who dies during a heat wave, many more quietly perish from the cold at other times of the year. Here’s the ratio of cold deaths to heat deaths in the locales examined by this study:

Australia: 11:1

Brazil: 6:1

Canada: 13:1

Ireland: cold caused 9.34% of all deaths, heat caused 0%

Japan: 27:1

South Korea: 37:1

Spain: 4:1

Switzerland: 1.5: 1

UK: 28:1

USA: 25:1

When the next heat wave hits, don’t expect journalists and weather broadcasters to provide you with all the relevant facts. In their zeal to hype global warming, they will systematically misinform you. They will encourage you to believe things about weather-related deaths that are the opposite of the truth.

June 5, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | Leave a comment

The New York Times Tries to Get Itself Out of the Duckgate Hole Using a Spade

By Rob Slane | The Blog Mire | June 5, 2019

A number of people, including myself, wrote to the New York Times journalist, Julian Barnes, to point out that the piece he and his colleague, Adam Goldman, published on 16th April 2019 about the CIA Director, Gina Haspel, contained a part which unwittingly showed that she had misled President Trump into expelling 60 Russian diplomats in March 2018. Here were the paragraphs of interest:

“During the discussion, Ms. Haspel, then deputy C.I.A. director, turned toward Mr. Trump. She outlined possible responses in a quiet but firm voice, then leaned forward and told the president that the “strong option” was to expel 60 diplomats.

To persuade Mr. Trump, according to people briefed on the conversation, officials including Ms. Haspel also tried to show him that Mr. Skripal and his daughter were not the only victims of Russia’s attack.

Ms. Haspel showed pictures the British government had supplied her of young children hospitalized after being sickened by the Novichok nerve agent that poisoned the Skripals. She then showed a photograph of ducks that British officials said were inadvertently killed by the sloppy work of the Russian operatives.

Ms. Haspel was not the first to use emotional images to appeal to the president, but pairing it with her hard-nosed realism proved effective: Mr. Trump fixated on the pictures of the sickened children and the dead ducks. At the end of the briefing, he embraced the strong option.

The outcome was an example, officials said, of how Ms. Haspel is one of the few people who can get Mr. Trump to shift position based on new information.”

I pointed out to the authors in an (unanswered) email that this was an extraordinary claim, because no children became sick due to poisoning by a toxic chemical, and nor did any ducks die. And so unless they were prepared to correct or retract their piece, there could only be two possibilities:

  1. Ms Haspel unwittingly showed false images to no less a person than the President of the United States, supplied to her by the British Government who knew them to be false, which persuaded him to embrace the “strong option”.
  2. Ms Haspel knowingly showed false images to no less a person than the President of the United States, which persuaded him to embrace the “strong option”.

It seems that the two journalists have not ignored mine and the many other emails they received about this issue, and they have today corrected their story. The paragraphs of interest now read as follows:

“During the discussion, Ms. Haspel, then deputy C.I.A. director, turned toward Mr. Trump. She outlined possible responses in a quiet but firm voice, then leaned forward and told the president that the “strong option” was to expel 60 diplomats.

To persuade Mr. Trump, according to people briefed on the conversation, officials including Ms. Haspel tried to demonstrate the dangers of using a nerve agent like Novichok in a populated area. Ms. Haspel showed pictures from other nerve agent attacks that showed their effects on people.

The British government had told Trump administration officials about early intelligence reports that said children were sickened and ducks were inadvertently killed by the sloppy work of the Russian operatives.

The information was based on early reporting, and Trump administration officials had requested more details about the children and ducks, a person familiar with the intelligence said, though Ms. Haspel did not present that information to the president. After this article was published, local health officials in Britain said that no children were harmed.

Ms. Haspel was not the first to use emotional appeals to the president. She and Mr. Pompeo showed Mr. Trump images of children sickened by chemical weapons attacks in Syria, in an earlier presentation. But Ms. Haspel’s strategy in the March briefing was to pair emotional appeals with her hard-nosed realism and it proved effective. At the end of the briefing, Mr. Trump embraced the strong option. [my emphasis]”

Below is Mr Barnes’s explanation on Twitter for the error and the correction:

“I made a significant error in my April 16 profile of Gina Haspel. It took a while to figure out where I went wrong. Initially, I reported that in March 2018, Gina Haspel, then the future CIA director, briefed President Trump about the Skirpal nerve agent attack, showing pictures of sickened children and dead ducks. That was wrong. There are—so far as we know—no pictures of dead ducks or sickened kids. Haspel did show pictures to Trump, but they were about the effects of nerve agents in general, they were not specific to the attack in the UK.

British officials did brief the Trump administration about early reports of dead ducks & sick children. Officials sought more info, believing such intel would be persuasive to Trump, who was skeptical of the proposed expulsion of 60 Russians in response to the attack. But Haspel did not brief the president on that intelligence.

Local UK health officials deny that any animals or children were sickened, as British officials pointed out soon after our story published. (In response to good reporting by @haynesdeborah, @guardian and others.) (link: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/apr/18/no-children-ducks-harmed-novichok-attack-wiltshire-health-officials)

The intelligence about the ducks and children were based on an early intelligence report, according to people familiar with the matter. The intelligence was presented to the US in an effort to share all that was known, not to deceive the Trump administration. This correction was delayed because conducting the research to figure out what I got wrong, how I got it wrong and what was the correct information took time.

I regret the error and offer my apology. I strive to get information right the first time. That is what subscribers pay for. But when I get something wrong, I fix it.”

Here is my response on Twitter to Mr Barnes:

Dear Julian,

Thanks for taking the time to correct your report. However, it unfortunately raises just as many questions as the initial report.

Firstly, you say British officials briefed the Trump administration about early reports of dead ducks & sick children.

Really? Which early reports were these? There were none. The parents of the children who had tests to see if they had been contaminated were only contacted 2 weeks after the incident, and none of them was found to be ill. This is the first report on it, and it confirms the children were given the all clear. And there were never any dead ducks in Salisbury nor any reports of them.

Secondly, you say that “Officials sought more info, believing such intel would be persuasive to Trump, who was skeptical of the proposed expulsion of 60 Russians in response to the attack.” But the fact is that any further (truthful) info could not have persuaded Mr Trump, for the simple reason that no other people were harmed in Salisbury than the three people who were initially harmed. How, then, was he persuaded?

Thirdly, you presumably give the answer to the second point, when you say “Haspel did show pictures to Trump, but they were about the effects of nerve agents in general, they were not specific to the attack in the UK.” So in other words, Ms Haspel couldn’t show any pictures from Salisbury to persuade the sceptical Mr Trump, because there weren’t any to show. So she showed him pictures from other nerve agent attacks, which were presumably sufficiently bad to turn him from his scepticism, to expelling 60 diplomats. Even though nothing like that happened in Salisbury.

Thank you for clarifying that Ms Haspel did indeed wilfully mislead the President.”

Despite NYT’s correction, the question it poses is this: Which is worse:

  • The deputy director of the CIA showing a sceptical President some fake pictures of dead ducks and sick children to persuade him to take the strongest action?
  • Or the deputy director of the CIA, knowing full well that there weren’t any pictures of the effects of nerve agent on the population of Salisbury because only three people were ever affected, showing some pictures of actual nerve agent victims who were never anywhere near Salisbury to persuade him to take the strongest action?

The answer is they’re both as bad. In both scenarios, an utterly false picture of what happened in Salisbury was given to the sceptical President to twist his arm into taking action he didn’t want to take.

As they say, when in a hole, better stop digging.

June 5, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

Russia denies withdrawing specialists from Venezuela, says cooperation is set to expand

RT | June 4, 2019

Reports of a mass exodus of Russian military and technical specialists from Venezuela are not true, Russian officials have said. Cooperation with Caracas is going on as usual and is set to expand, they said.

In a Sunday story, the Wall Street Journal reported that Russian military and technical personnel had left Venezuela en-masse, with the numbers diminishing from some 1,000 to several dozens. The newspaper explained the alleged exodus with a lack of contracts and the fact that Moscow supposedly realized that Caracas lacks any funds to pay for the services of the Russian hi-tech and military hardware corporation Rostec.

On Monday, the corporation itself dismissed the report.

“The figures provided in the piece by the Wall Street Journal have been exaggerated tens of times. The numbers of our staff there has remained the same for many years,” the press service of Rostec stated.

The corporation explained that aside from having a permanent representation, it sends groups of technical specialists “from time to time” to Venezuela to perform maintenance and repairs of equipment supplied by Russia. “Just recently, the maintenance of a batch of aircraft was completed,” the press service added.

Russia’s state military hardware exporter, Rosoboronexport, on its part, said that Moscow and Caracas are actually planning to increase cooperation. Russian companies “remain committed to deepening cooperation with the Ministry of Defense and other departments of the Venezuelan government,” the exporter stated.

Shortly after the dismissal, US President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that Russia had “removed most of their people” from Venezuela. It was not immediately clear what he meant, since apart from the Russian companies’ denial, there has been no official word from Moscow so far.

While military and technical cooperation between Russia and Venezuela has been going on for years, it made a lot of fuss lately amid the US-backed attempt to oust country’s President Nicolas Maduro and install self-styled ‘interim-president’ Juan Guaido instead. Russia’s modest military activity in Venezuela caught the eye of American politicians and media, sparking demands to Moscow to “get out” of what Washington believes to be its own “backyard.”

June 3, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 2 Comments

How Did Russiagate Begin?

Why Barr’s investigation is important and should be encouraged.

By Stephen F. Cohen | The Nation | May 30, 2019

It cannot be emphasized too often: Russiagate—allegations that the American president has been compromised by the Kremlin and which may even have helped to put him in the White House—is the worst and (considering the lack of actual evidence) most fraudulent political scandal in American history. We have yet to calculate the damage Russsiagate has inflicted on America’s democratic institutions, including the presidency and the electoral process, and on domestic and foreign perceptions of American democracy, or on US-Russian relations at a critical moment when both sides, having “modernized” their nuclear weapons, are embarking on a new, more dangerous, and largely unreported arms race.

Rational (if politically innocent) observers may have thought that when the Mueller Report found no “collusion” or other conspiracy between Trump and Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin, only possible “obstruction” by Trump—nothing Mueller said in his May 29 press statement altered that conclusion—Russiagate would fade away. If so, they were badly mistaken. Evidently infuriated that Mueller did not liberate the White House from Trump, Russiagate promoters—liberal Democrats and progressives foremost among them—have only redoubled their unverified collusion allegations, even in once-respectable media outlets. Whether out of political ambition or impassioned faith, the damage wrought by these Russiagaters continues to mount, with no end in sight.

One way to end Russiagate might be to discover how it actually began. Considering what we have learned, or been told, since the allegations became public nearly three years ago, in mid-2016, there seem to be at least three hypothetical possibilities:

1. One is the orthodox Russiagate explanation: Early on, sharp-eyed top officials of President Obama’s intelligence agencies, particularly the CIA and FBI, detected truly suspicious “contacts” between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russians “linked to the Kremlin” (whatever that may mean, considering that the presidential administration employs hundreds of people), and this discovery legitimately led to the full-scale “counter-intelligence investigation” initiated in July 2016. Indeed, Mueller documented various foreigners who contacted, or who sought to contact, the Trump campaign. The problem here is that Mueller does not tell us, and we do not know, if the number of them was unusual.

Many foreigners seek “contacts” with US presidential campaigns and have done so for decades. In this case, we do not know, for the sake of comparison, how many such foreigners had or sought contacts with the rival Clinton campaign, directly or through the Clinton Foundation, in 2016. (Certainly, there were quite a few contacts with anti-Trump Ukrainians, for example.) If the number was roughly comparable, why didn’t US intelligence initiate a counter-intelligence investigation of the Clinton campaign?

If readers think the answer is because the foreigners around the Trump campaign included Russians, consider this: In 1988, when Senator Gary Hart was the leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, he went to Russia—still Communist Soviet Russia—to make contacts in preparation for his anticipated presidency, including meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. US media coverage of Hart’s visit was generally favorable. (I accompanied Senator Hart and do not recall much, if any, adverse US media reaction.)

2. The second explanation—currently, and oddly, favored by non-comprehending pro-Trump commentators at Fox News and elsewhere—is that “Putin’s Kremlin” pumped anti-Trump “disinformation” into the American media, primarily through what became known as the Steele Dossier. As I pointed out nearly a year and a half ago, this makes no sense factually or logically. Nothing in the Dossier suggests that any of its contents necessarily came from high-level Kremlin sources, as Steele claimed. Moreover, if Kremlin leader Putin so favored Trump, as A Russiagate premise insists, is it really plausible that underlings in the Kremlin would have risked Putin’s ire by furnishing Steele with anti-Trump “information”? On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence that “researchers” in the US (some, like Christopher Steele, paid by the Clinton campaign) were supplying him with the fruits of their research.

3. The third possible explanation—one I have termed “Intelgate,” and that I explore in my recent book War With Russia?: From Putin & Ukraine to Trump & Russiagate—is that US intelligence agencies undertook an operation to damage, if not destroy, first the candidacy and then the presidency of Donald Trump. More evidence of “Intelgate” has since appeared. For example, the intelligence community has said it began its investigation in April 2016 due to a few innocuous remarks by a young, lowly Trump foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos. The relatively obscure Papadopoulos suddenly found himself befriended by apparently influential people he had not previously known, among them Stefan Halper, Joseph Mifsud, Alexander Downer, and a woman calling herself Azra Turk. What we now know—and what Papadopoulos did not know at the time—is that all of them had ties to US and/or UK and Western European intelligence agencies.

US Attorney General William Barr now proposes to investigate the origins of Russiagate. He has appointed yet another special prosecutor, John Durham, to do so, but the power to decide the range and focus of the investigation will remain with Barr. The important news is Barr’s expressed intention to investigate the role of other US intelligence agencies, not just the FBI, which obviously means the CIA when it was headed by John Brennan and Brennan’s partner at the time, James Clapper, then Director of National intelligence. As I argued in The Nation, Brennan, not Obama’s hapless FBI Director James Comey, was the godfather of Russiagate, a thesis for which more evidence has since appeared. We should hope that Barr intends to exclude nothing, including the two foundational texts of the deceitful Russiagate narrative: the Steele Dossier and, directly related, the contrived but equally ramifying Intelligence Community Assessment of January 2017. (Not coincidentally, they were made public at virtually the same time, inflating Russiagate into an obsessive national scandal.)

Thus far, Barr has been cautious in his public statements. He has acknowledged there was “spying,” or surveillance, on the Trump campaign, which can be legal, but he surely knows that in the case of Papadopoulos (and possibly of General Michael Flynn) what happened was more akin to entrapment, which is never legal. Barr no doubt also recalls, and will likely keep in mind, the astonishing warning Senator Charles Schumer issued to President-elect Trump in January 2017: “Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.” (Indeed, Barr might ask Schumer what he meant and why he felt the need to be the menacing messenger of intel agencies, wittingly or not.)

But Barr’s thorniest problem may be understanding the woeful role of mainstream media in Russiagate. As Lee Smith, who contributed important investigative reporting, has written: “The press is part of the operation, the indispensable part. None of it would have been possible … had the media not linked arms with spies, cops, and lawyers to relay a story first spun by Clinton operatives.” How does Barr explore this “indispensable” complicity of the media in originating and perpetuating the Russiagate fraud without impermissibly infringing on the freedom of the press?

Ideally, mainstream media—print and broadcast—would now themselves report on how and why they permitted intelligence officials, through leaks and anonymous sources, and as “opinion” commentators, to use their pages and programming to promote Russiagate for so long, and why they so excluded well-informed, nonpartisan alternative opinions. Instead, they have almost unanimously reported and broadcast negatively, even antagonistically, about Barr’s investigation, and indeed about Barr personally. (The Washington Post even found a way to print this: “William Barr looks like a toad …”) Such is the seeming panic of the Russiagate media over Barr’s investigation, which promises to declassify related documents, that The New York Times again trotted out its easily debunked fiction that public disclosures will endanger a purported US informant, a Kremlin mole, at Putin’s side.

Finally, but most crucially, what was the real reason US intelligence agencies launched a discrediting operation against Trump? Was it because, as seems likely, they intensely disliked his campaign talk of “cooperation with Russia,” which seemed to mean the prospect of a new US-Russian détente? Even fervent political and media opponents of Trump should want to know who is making foreign policy in Washington. The next intel target might be their preferred candidate or president, or a foreign policy they favor.

Nor, it seems clear, did the CIA stop. In March 2018, the current director, Gina Haspel, flatly lied to President Trump about an incident in the UK in order to persuade him to escalate measures against Moscow, which he then reluctantly did. Several non-mainstream media outlets have reported the true story. Typically, The New York Times, on April 17 of this year, reported it without correcting Haspel’s falsehood.

We are left, then, with this paradox, formulated in a tweet on May 24 by the British journalist John O’Sullivan: “Spygate is the first American scandal in which the government wants the facts published transparently but the media want to cover them up.”

This commentary is based on Stephen F. Cohen’s most recent weekly discussion with the host of The John Batchelor Show. Now in their sixth year, previous installments are at TheNation.com.

June 1, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | 1 Comment

As obsession with Trump tanks CNN ratings, network doubles down

RT | May 31, 2019

The pioneer cable news network is getting crushed in the ratings, coming in below Home and Garden TV, and has recently downsized and changed freelance payment terms – but shows no interest in changing the tone of its programming.

Both CNN and MSNBC have allowed themselves to be defined by hostility to both the administration and President Donald Trump personally since the 2016 election, breathlessly pushing the ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy theory.

While this strategy has largely worked for MSNBC – at least until special counsel Robert Mueller was forced to admit Russiagate was bogus – CNN has struggled to attract an audience beyond those trapped at hospitals and airports.

Nielsen TV ratings for May show Fox News dominating for the 35th straight month with 1.3 million total day viewers, MSNBC lagging behind with 909,000, and CNN in the eighth place with 552,000.

CNN wasn’t even in the top 15 primetime spots (for comparison, HGTV came in fifth), and its three main primetime shows – hosted by Chris Cuomo, Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon – ranked 25, 26, and 35, respectively.

Could this have anything to do with the network’s obsession with Trump and his administration that no longer bothers hiding naked partisanship? No way, says CNN leadership, insisting they are “real news” and claiming to be victims of Trump’s “attacks” on “free press.”

In the real world, CNN offered buyouts to 100 or so people at its Atlanta, Georgia headquarters, earlier this month, including CNN International executive vice president Tony Maddox. Since then, it has also laid off a number of people from its Health division and drastically cut back production at its London bureau.

Furthermore, the network’s parent company Warner Media recently sent out a notice to contractors that it is changing payment terms beginning in June, from 30 days to 90 days – essentially asking anyone it contracts to wait three months to get paid.

But hey, have you heard that the US government now owns a condominium in New York City’s Trump Tower, because of the Mueller probe? Priorities, people!

The twist is that CNN boss Jeff Zucker is laughing all the way to the bank, because CNN’s annual profits have doubled to $1.2 billion during his tenure. Some 70 percent of the network’s revenue comes not from advertisers but from carriage fees charged from cable and satellite operators. Some 90 million US households pay these fees every year, effectively subsidizing CNN and giving the network very little incentive to change its ways.

May 31, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | 3 Comments

US Claim of Illegal Russian Nuke Testing Lacks Proof – Arms Control Association

Sputnik – 29.05.2019

The claims by the United States that Russia illegally conducts nuclear testing lack evidence, the Arms Control Association said in a press release.

“But no public evidence has ever been provided to support the claim of illegal Russian testing and Gen. Ashley didn’t provide any Wednesday”, the Arms Control Association said. “Gen. Ashley also claimed that Russia has ‘not affirmed the language of zero-yield.’ But Russia has repeatedly affirmed publicly that they believe the treaty prohibits all nuclear test explosions”.

The association noted, for example, that Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov emphasized in a 2017 op-ed that the treaty bans “any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion, anywhere on Earth, whatever the yield”.

The best way for Washington to enforce adherence to the zero-yield standard would be for President Donald Trump and the US Senate to support ratifying the treaty to help bring it into force, the association added.

Such a move would pave the way for “intrusive, short-notice, on-site inspections to detect and deter any possible cheating”, the release said.

The United States should propose confidence-building visits to test sites as allowed for by the treaty if it indeed has any “credible evidence” of Russia violating the treaty, it added.

Russia’s Permanent Representative to International Organisations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov has commented on the matter saying that Washington is trying to distract attention from its own destructive policy on the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) by blaming Russia for violating the moratorium on nuclear tests.

The release comes after US Defenсe Intelligence Agency (DIA) Director Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley said that the United States believes Russia may not be adhering to the nuclear testing moratorium outlined in the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

May 30, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | Leave a comment

Pentagon tells same old story: Russia ‘PROBABLY’ violating nuke treaty… that US never ratified

RT | May 30, 2019

The Pentagon has rolled out new allegations against Russia, suggesting that Moscow might be conducting nuclear tests banned by a treaty which the US never even ratified.

Lt. Gen. Robert P. Ashley Jr, the head of the Pentagon’s intelligence arm, disclosed during a speech at the right-wing Hudson Institute on Wednesday that the United States believes Russia has “probably” restarted low-yield nuclear tests, in violation of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

The fear, according to Ashley, is that Russia may be developing tactical nuclear weapons for use on conventional battlefields.

Pressed about the claim in a question-and-answer session afterward, Ashley backed away from his provocative word choice and said only that Russia “has the capability” to conduct a test with a low nuclear yield.

His comments were later clarified by Tim Morrison, a senior director at the National Security Council, who insisted that Moscow has “taken actions” to improve its nuclear arsenal that “run contrary to the scope of its obligations under the treaty.”

The Pentagon’s latest allegations are complimented by an inconvenient reality that neither Ashley nor Morrison were eager to discuss. The United States never ratified the CTBT, and is not bound by international law to follow its provisions. In layman’s terms, this means that Washington is making vague assertions that Russia is violating a treaty of which the US itself is not a ratified signatory. (The United States, the only country to ever use a nuclear weapon, claims that is has not conducted a nuclear test since 1992. So who needs silly treaties?)

The accusation of Russia’s non-compliance with CTBT comes as Washington prepares to exit a different arms control agreement, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, in August. The Trump administration insists that it must leave the 1987 accord because of repeated violations by Russia – an allegation which Moscow has strenuously denied.

Russia has warned that the collapse of the INF could imperil the landmark New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which expires in 2021. Attacks by US conservatives and political analysts against the treaty have compelled the Russian Embassy in the US to issue a factsheet on Russia’s arms control record.

“We deem it necessary to point out some of their blatant misrepresentations of facts that mislead the audience and create a distorted picture of the actual state of affairs,” the embassy wrote in a Facebook post.

This isn’t the first time Washington has resorted to vague language to accuse adversaries of serious crimes. US National Security Advisor John Bolton recently claimed that Iran was “almost certainly” behind an attack on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. As usual, Bolton didn’t elaborate.

May 30, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | Leave a comment

Robert Stuart vs the BBC: One Man’s Quest to Expose a Fake BBC Video about Syria

By Rick Sterling and Susan Dirgham* | American Herald Tribune | May 28, 2019

It’s a David vs Goliath story. A former local newspaper reporter, Robert Stuart, is taking on the British Broadcasting Corporation. Stuart believes that a sensational video story about an alleged atrocity in Syria “was largely, if not entirely, staged.”  The BBC would like it all to just go away. But like David, Stuart will not back down or let it go. It has been proposed that the BBC could settle the issue by releasing the raw footage from the event, but they refuse to do this. Why?

The Controversial Video

The video report in controversy is ‘Saving Syria’s Children‘. Scenes from it were first broadcast as a BBC news report on August 29, 2013 and again as a BBC Panorama special in September. ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ was produced by BBC reporter Ian Pannell with Darren Conway as camera operator and director.

The news report footage was taken in a town north of Aleppo city in a region controlled by the armed opposition. It purports to show the aftermath of a Syrian aerial attack using incendiary weapons, perhaps napalm, killing and burning dozens of youth. The video shows the youth arriving and being treated at a nearby hospital where the BBC film team was coincidentally filming two British medical volunteers from a British medical relief organization.

The video had a strong impact. The incident was on August 26. The video was shown on the BBC three days later as the British Parliament was debating whether to support military action by the US against Syria. As it turned out, British parliament voted against supporting military action. But the video was effective in demonizing the Syrian government. After all, what kind of government attacks school children with napalm-like bombs?

The Context

‘Saving Syria’s Children’ was produced at a critical moment in the Syrian conflict. Just days before, on August 21,  there had been an alleged sarin gas attack against an opposition held area on the outskirts of Damascus. Western media was inundated with videos showing dead Syrian children amidst accusations the Syrian government had attacked civilians, killing up to 1400. The Syrian government was assumed to be responsible and the attack said to be a clear violation of President Obama’s “red line” against chemical weapons.

This incident had the effect of increasing pressure for Western states or NATO to attack Syria. It would be for humanitarian reasons, rationalized by the “responsibility to protect”.

The assumption that ‘the regime’ did it has been challenged. Highly regarded American journalists including the late Robert Parry and Seymour Hersh investigated and contradicted the mainstream media. They pointed to the crimes being committed by the armed opposition for political goals. A report by two experts including a UN weapons inspector and Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity also came to the conclusion that the Syrian government was not responsible and the attack was actually by an armed opposition group with the goal of forcing NATO intervention.

Why the Controversial Video is Suspicious

After seeing skeptical comments about ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ on an online discussion board, Robert Stuart looked at the video for himself. Like others, he thought the hospital sequences looked artificial, almost like scenes from a badly acted horror movie.

But unlike others, he decided to find out. Thus began his quest to ascertain the truth. Was the video real or was it staged?  Was it authentic or contrived propaganda?

Over almost six years his research has revealed many curious elements about the video including:

* Youth in the hospital video appear to act on cue.

* There is a six hour discrepancy in reports about when the incident occurred.

* One of the supposed victims, shown writhing in pain on a stretcher, is seen earlier walking unaided into the ambulance.

* The incident happened in an area controlled by a terror group associated with ISIS.

* One of the British medics is a former UK soldier involved in simulated injury training.

* The other British medic is daughter of a prominent figure in the Syrian opposition.

* In 2016 a local rebel commander testified that the alleged attack never happened.

Support for Robert Stuart

Robert Stuart’s formal complaints to the BBC have been rebuffed. His challenges to those involved in the production have been ignored or stifled. Yet his quest has won support from some major journalistic and political figures.

Former Guardian columnist Jonathan Cook has written several articles on the story. He says, “Stuart’s sustained research and questioning of the BBC, and the state broadcaster’s increasing evasions, have given rise to ever greater concerns about the footage. It looks suspiciously like one scene in particular, of people with horrific burns, was staged.”

Former UK Ambassador Craig Murray has compared scenes in ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ with his own harrowing experience with burn victims. He says, “The alleged footage of burn victims in hospital following a napalm attack bears no resemblance whatsoever to how victims, doctors and relatives actually behave in these circumstances.”

Film-maker Victor Lewis-Smith has done numerous projects for the BBC. When learning about Stuart’s research he asked for some explanations and suggested they could resolve the issue by releasing the raw video footage of the events. When they refused to do this, he publicly tore up his BBC contract.

Why it Matters

The BBC has a reputation for objectivity. If BBC management was deceived by the video, along with the public, they should have a strong interest in uncovering and correcting this. If there was an error, they should want to clarify, correct and ensure it is not repeated.

The BBC could go a long way toward resolving this issue by releasing raw footage of the scenes in ‘Saving Syria’s Children’. Why have they refused to do this? In addition, they have actively removed youtube copies of ‘Saving Syria’s Children’. If they are proud of that production, why are they removing public copies of it?

Has the BBC produced and broadcast contrived or fake video reports in support of British government foreign policy of aggression against Syria? It is important that this question be answered to either restore public trust (if the videos are authentic) or to expose and correct misdeeds (if the videos are largely or entirely staged).

The issue at stake is not only the BBC; it is the manipulation of media to deceive the public into supporting elite-driven foreign policy. ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ is an important case study.

The Future

Robert Stuart is not quitting. He hopes the next step will be a documentary film dramatically showing what he has discovered and further investigating important yet unexplored angles.

The highly experienced film producer Victor Lewis-Smith, who tore up his BBC contract, has stepped forward to help make this happen.

But to produce a high quality documentary including some travel takes funding. After devoting almost six years to this effort, Robert Stuart’s resources are exhausted. The project needs support from concerned members of the public.

If you support Robert Stuart’s efforts, go to this crowdfunding website. There you can learn more and contribute to this important effort to reveal whether the BBC video ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ showed true or staged events. Was the alleged “napalm” attack real or was it staged propaganda? The project needs a large number of small donors and a few substantial ones to meet the June 7 deadline.

As actor and producer Keith Allen says,” Please help us to reach the target so that we can discover the facts, examine the evidence, and present the truth about ‘Saving Syria’s Children’. I think it’s really important.”

*Susan Dirgham is editor of “Beloved Syria – Considering Syrian Perspectives” published in Australia. 

*(Top image courtesy of Robert Stuart/ Twitter)

May 28, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 1 Comment

The mass extinction lie exposed: life is thriving

By Gregory Wrightstone | Inconvenient Blog | May 13, 2019

One million species will become extinct in the not-too-distant future and we are to blame. That is the conclusion of a new study by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). The Summary for Policymakers (SPM) was issued on May 6th {the full report will be issued “later this year} and warns that “human actions threaten more species with global extinction now than ever before” and that “around 1 million species already face extinction, many within decades, unless action is taken to reduce the intensity of drivers of biodiversity loss.”

It also asserted that we have seen increasing dangers over the last several decades, stating “the threat of extinction is also accelerating: in the best-studied taxonomic groups, most of the total extinction risk to species is estimated to have arisen in the past 40 years.” The global rate of species extinction claimed “is already tens to hundreds of times higher than it has been, on average, over the last 10 million years.”

The release of the report spawned a media frenzy that uncritically accepted the study’s contention that we will see more than 20,000 species per year bite the dust in the not too distant future. PBS called it the “current mass extinction,” and the New Yorker’s headline read “Climate Change and the New Age of Extinction.

The only chart in the SPM that supported the claim of increasing extinctions is shown here (bdlow). The graph covers 500-years and appears to present a frightening increase in extinctions and extinction rate.

Species extinction since 1500

This chart and the accompanying “analysis” are a case study of how those who promote the notion of man-made catastrophic warming manipulate data and facts to spread the most fear, alarm, and disinformation.

First, note that the title of the graph itself (Cumulative % of Species Driven Extinct) is confusing even to scientists used to interpreting such data. More importantly, the data were lumped together by century rather than shorter time frames, which, as we shall see accentuates the supposed increase in extinctions.

The base data were derived from the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List, which catalogues every known species that has gone the way of the dodo and the carrier pigeon. Review of the full data set reveals a much different view of extinction and what has been happening recently.

Below, all 529 species available from the Red List with a known extinction date are shown below in Figure 2 by decade of extinction. This chart reveals quite a different story than that advanced by the new report. Instead of a steady increase in the number and rate of extinctions we find that extinctions peaked in the late 1800s and the early 20th century, followed by a significant decline that continues today. It is thought that this extinction peak coincides with introduction of non-native species, primarily on islands (including Australia).

Species extinction by decade

A closer review of the most recent information dating back to 1870 reveals that, instead of a frightening increase, extinctions are actually in a significant decline.

What is apparent is that the trend of extinctions is declining rather than increasing, just the opposite of what the new report claims. Also, according to the IPBES report, we can expect 25,000 to 30,000 extinctions per year, yet the average over the last 40 years is about 2 species annually. That means the rate would have to multiply by 12,500 to 15,000 to reach the dizzying heights predicted. Nothing on the horizon is likely to achieve even a small fraction of that.

Graph of Species Extinctions by Decade, from the Red List

This new extinction study is just the latest example of misuse and abuse of the scientific process designed to sow fear of an impending climate apocalypse. The fear and alarm over purported man-made catastrophes are needed to frighten the population into gladly accepting harmful and economically crippling proposals such as the Green New Deal.

Rather than an Earth spiraling into a series of climate catastrophes that threaten the planet’s life, we find that our planet and its estimated 8 million species are doing just fine, thank you.

Postscript: In an incredibly ironic twist that poses a difficult conundrum for those who are intent on saving the planet from our carbon dioxide excesses, the new study reports that the number one cause of predicted extinctions is habitat loss. Yet their solution is to pave over vast stretches of land for industrial scale solar factories and to construct immense wind factories that will cover forests and grasslands, killing the endangered birds and other species they claim to want to save.

Gregory Wrightstone is a geologist with more than 35 years of experience researching and studying various aspects of the Earth’s processes. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Waynesburg University and a master’s from West Virginia University, both in the field of geology. He has written and presented extensively on many aspects of geology including how paleogeography and paleoclimate control geologic processes. His findings have allowed him to speak at many venues around the world including Ireland, England, China and most recently India.

May 27, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science | 1 Comment

The World: What is Really Happening

By Craig Murray | May 25, 2019

If you want to understand what is really happening in the world today, a mid-ranking official named Ian Henderson is vastly more important to you than Theresa May. You will not, however, find anything about Henderson in the vast majority of corporate and state media outlets.

You may recall that, one month after the Skripal incident, there was allegedly a “chemical weapons attack” in the jihadist enclave of Douma, which led to air strikes against the Syrian government in support of the jihadist forces by US, British and French bombers and missiles. At the time, I argued that the Douma jihadist enclave was on the brink of falling (as indeed it proved) and there was no military advantage – and a massive international downside – for the Syrian Army in using chemical weapons. Such evidence for the attack that existed came from the jihadist allied and NATO funded White Helmets and related sources; and the veteran and extremely respected journalist Robert Fisk, first westerner to arrive on the scene, reported that no chemical attack had taken place.

The “Douma chemical weapon attack” was linked to the “Skripal chemical weapon attack” by the western media as evidence of Russian evil. Robert Fisk was subjected to massive media abuse and I was demonised by countless mainstream media journalists on social media, of which this is just one example of a great many.

In both the Skripal and the Douma case, it fell to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to provide the technical analysis. The OPCW is a multilateral body established by treaty, and has 193 member states. The only major chemical weapons owning powers which are not members and refuse the inspections regime are the pariah rogue states Israel and North Korea.

An OPCW fact finding mission visited Douma on April 21 and 25 2018 and was able to visit the sites, collect samples and interview witnesses. No weaponised chemicals were detected but traces of chlorine were found. Chlorine is not an uncommon chemical, so molecular traces of chlorine at a bombing site are not improbable. The interim report of the OPCW following the Fact Finding Mission was markedly sober and non-committal:

The results show that no organophosphorous nerve agents or their degradation products were detected in the environmental samples or in the plasma samples taken from alleged casualties. Along with explosive residues, various chlorinated organic chemicals were found in samples from two sites, for which there is full chain of custody.

The fact finding mission then returned to OPCW HQ, at which time the heavily politicised process took over within the secretariat and influenced by national delegations. 9 months later the final report was expressed in language of greater certainty, yet backed by no better objective evidence:

Regarding the alleged use of toxic chemicals as a weapon on 7 April 2018 in Douma, the Syrian Arab Republic, the evaluation and analysis of all the information gathered by the FFM—witnesses’ testimonies, environmental and biomedical samples analysis results, toxicological and ballistic analyses from experts, additional digital information from witnesses—provide reasonable grounds that the use of a toxic chemical as a weapon took place. This toxic chemical contained reactive chlorine. The toxic chemical was likely molecular chlorine.

However the report noted it was unable to determine who had used the chlorine as a weapon. Attempts to spin this as a consequence of OPCW’s remit are nonsense – the OPCW exists precisely to police chemical weapons violations, and has never operated on the basis of violator anonymity.

Needless to say, NATO funded propaganda site Bellingcat had been from the start in the lead in proclaiming to the world the “evidence” that this was a chemical weapons attack by the Assad government, dropping simple chlorine cylinders as bombs. The original longer video footage of one of the videos on the Bellingcat site gives a fuller idea of the remarkable lack of damage to one gas cylinder which had smashed through the reinforced concrete roof and landed gently on the bed.

[I am sorry that I do not know how to extract that longer video from its tweet. You need to click on the above link then click on the link in the first tweet that warns you it is sensitive material – in fact there is nothing sensitive there, so don’t worry.]

Now we come to the essential Mr Ian Henderson. Mr Henderson was in charge of the engineering sub-group of the OPCW Fact Finding Mission. The engineers assessed that the story of the cylinders being dropped from the sky was improbable, and it was much more probable that they had simply been placed there manually. There are two major reasons they came to this conclusion.

At least one of the crater holes showed damage that indicated it had been caused by an explosive, not by the alleged blunt impact. The cylinders simply did not show enough damage to have come through the reinforced concrete slabs and particularly the damage which would have been caused by the rebar. Rebar is actually thicker steel than a gas cylinder and would have caused major deformation.

Yet – and this is why Ian Henderson is more important to your understanding of the world than Theresa May – the OPCW Fact Finding Mission reflected in their final report none of the findings of their own sub-group of university based engineers from two European universities, but instead produced something that is very close to the amateur propaganda “analysis” put out by Bellingcat. The implications of this fraud are mind-blowing.

The genuine experts’ findings were completely suppressed until they were leaked last week. And still then, this leak – which has the most profound ramifications – has in itself been almost completely suppressed by the mainstream media, except for those marginalised outliers who still manage to get a platform, Robert Fisk and Peter Hitchens (a tiny platform in the case of Fisk).

Consider what this tells us. A fake chemical attack incident was used to justify military aggression against Syria by the USA, UK and France. The entire western mainstream media promoted the anti-Syrian and anti-Russian narrative to justify that attack. The supposedly neutral international watchdog, the OPCW, was manipulated by the NATO powers to produce a highly biased report that omits the findings of its own engineers. Which can only call into doubt the neutrality and reliability of the OPCW in its findings on the Skripals too.

There has been virtually no media reporting of the scandalous cover-up. This really does tell you a very great deal more about how the Western world works than the vicissitudes of the ludicrously over-promoted Theresa May and her tears of self pity.

Still more revealing is the reaction from the OPCW – which rather than acknowledge there is a major problem with the conclusions of its Douma report, has started a witch hunt for the whistleblower who leaked the Henderson report.

The Russian government claimed to have intelligence that indicated it was MI6 behind the faking of the Douma chemical attack. I have no means of knowing the truth of that, and am always sceptical of claims by all governments on intelligence matters, after a career observing government disinformation techniques from the inside. But the MI6 claim is consistent with the involvement of the MI6 originated White Helmets in this scam. and MI6 can always depend on their house journal The Guardian to push their narrative, as Guardian Middle East editor Brian Whitaker does here in an article “justifying” the omission of the Henderson report by the OPCW. Whitaker argues that Henderson’s engineers had a minority view. Interestingly Whitaker’s article is not from the Guardian itself, which prefers to keep all news of the Henderson report from the public.

But Whitaker’s thesis cannot stand. On one level, of course we know that Henderson’s expert opinion did not prevail at the OPCW. Henderson and the truth lost out in the politicking. But at the very least, it would be essential for the OPCW report to reflect and note the strong contrary view among its experts, and the suppression of this essential information cannot possibly be justified. Whitaker’s attempt to do so is a disgrace.

Which leads me on to the Skripals.

I have noted before the news management technique of the security services, leaking out key facts in a managed way over long periods so as not to shock what public belief there is in the official Skripal story. Thus nine months passed before it was admitted that the first person who “coincidentally” came across the ill Skripals on the park bench, just happened to be the Chief Nurse of the British Army.

The inquest into the unfortunate Dawn Sturgess has now been postponed four times. The security services have now admitted – once again through the Guardian – that even if “Boshirov and Petrov” poisoned the Skripals, they cannot have been also responsible for the poisoning of Dawn Sturgess. This because the charity bin in which the perfume bottle was allegedly found is emptied regularly so the bottle could not have lain there for 16 weeks undiscovered, and because the package was sealed so could not have been used on the Skripals’ doorknob.

This Guardian article is bylined by the security services’ pet outlet, Luke Harding, and one other. The admissions are packaged in a bombastic sandwich about Russian GRU agents.

Every single one of these points – that “Boshirov and Petrov” have never been charged with the manslaughter of Sturgess, that the bottle was sealed so could not have been used at the Skripals’ house, and that it cannot have been in the charity bin that long – are points that I have repeatedly made, and for which I have suffered massive abuse, including – indeed primarily – from dozens of mainstream media journalists. Making precisely these points has seen me labelled as a mentally ill conspiracy theorist or paid Russian agent. Just like the Douma fabrication, it turns out there was indeed every reason to doubt, and now, beneath a veneer of anti-Russian nonsense, these facts are quietly admitted by anonymous “sources” to Harding. No wonder poor Dawn Sturgess keeps not getting an inquest.

Which brings us back full circle to the OPCW. In neither its report on the Salisbury poisoning nor its report on the Amesbury poisoning did the OPCW ever use the word Novichok. As an FCO source explained to me, the expert scientists in OPCW were desperate to signal that the Salisbury sample had not been for days on a doorknob collecting atmospheric dust, rain and material from hands and gloves, but all the politics of the OPCW leadership would allow them to slip in was the phrase “almost complete absence of impurities” as a clue – which the British government then spun as meaning “military grade” when it actually meant “not from a doorknob”.

Now we have seen irrefutable evidence of poor Ian Henderson in exactly the same position with the OPCW of having the actual scientific analysis blocked out of the official findings. That is extremely strong added evidence that my source was indeed telling the truth about the earlier suppression of the scientific evidence in the Skripal case.

Even the biased OPCW could not give any evidence of the Amesbury and Salisbury poisons being linked, concluding:

“Due to the unknown storage conditions of the small bottle found in the house of Mr Rowley and the fact that the environmental samples analysed in relation to the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal and Mr Nicholas Bailey were exposed to the environment and moisture, the impurity profiles of the samples available to the OPCW do not make it possible to draw conclusions as to whether the samples are from the same synthesis batch”

Which is strange, as the first sample had an “almost complete absence of impurities” and the second was straight out of the bottle. In fact beneath the doublespeak the OPCW are saying there is no evidence the two attacks were from the same source. Full stop.

I suppose I should now have reached the stage where nothing will shock me, but as a textbook example of the big lie technique, this BBC article is the BBC’s take on the report I just quoted – which remember does not even use the word Novichok.

When it comes to government narrative and the mainstream media, mass purveyor of fake news, scepticism is your friend. Remembering that is much more important to your life than the question of which Tory frontman is in No. 10.

For an analysis of the Henderson Report fiasco written to the highest academic standards, where you can find all the important links to original source material, read this superb work by the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media.

May 25, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 2 Comments

‘Ratf***er and spy’: British academic sues FBI informant & MSM for calling her Russian ‘honeypot’

RT | May 25, 2019

A Russian-born British historian is suing FBI informant Stefan Halper and several news outlets for defaming her as a “honeypot” working for the Kremlin to seduce Trump aide Michael Flynn. She says the scandal ruined her life.

Former Cambridge University academic Svetlana Lokhova has demanded $25 million from Halper, along with the Washington Post, New York Times, MSNBC, and Wall Street Journal, charging their “combined character assassination” over the past three years “injured her business as an academic and author, and propelled her to the epicenter of a massive fraudulent hoax about ‘Russian collusion.'”

Calling Halper a “ratf***er and a spy, who embroiled an innocent woman in a conspiracy to undo the 2016 Presidential election,” Lokhova says he colluded with the FBI, political operatives at the university where they both worked, and mainstream media journalists to paint her as a traitor and a “honeypot” who seduced Michael Flynn at a dinner in 2014 when he was US Director of National Intelligence. The FBI informant claimed Lokhova was “not a real academic” and that her “research was provided by Russian intelligence on the orders of Vladimir Putin” – and the media ran with the story for three years, hounding her out of her job and home and any hope of a normal life.

(“Ratf***er,” the suit helpfully explains in a footnote, “is a colorful and foul simile [sic] for ‘pulling a dirty trick’ coined by a Nixon campaign strategist.”)

The suit alleges Halper fed the fake story of Lokhova seducing Flynn to the named media organizations, which despite knowing he was a spy failed to fact-check Halper’s claims. Instead, she says, they crafted the story “out of whole cloth,” knowing the “sensational and scandalous accusations of ‘Russian collusion'” would catch fire – and, hopefully, burn the Trump campaign to the ground, “creat[ing] another Watergate.”

While stating repeatedly that she is not, was not, and has never been a spy, Lokhova claims it is Halper who has extensive Russian intelligence connections – from whom he could have learned that she was not a spy. The former MI6 agent who invited her to the dinner with Flynn never would have done so if she’d been a spy, she says, and at no point did she so much as sit next to Flynn (she includes a photograph to illustrate this last point in which Flynn is flanked by two men). Indeed, she says, everything in the stories published about her is completely false, from the email from Flynn signed with a pet name inviting her to Moscow to work as his translator to the seduction of the former general on orders from Putin.

Lokhova learned from colleagues that Halper and another academic were spreading rumors about her, and those rumors soon found their way into print, where the story became more salacious with each retelling. Her attempts to correct the record were rebuffed, repeatedly. Journalists began showing up at her door.

After not only losing her job but two book contracts and seven years of work toward her PhD, Lokhova says she was forced to leave the country “in order to avoid public scrutiny, invasion of her privacy, and constant public ridicule,” destroying her health and leaving her suicidal. For “insult, pain, embarrassment, humiliation, mental suffering, injury to her reputation, loss of income and business, special damages, costs, and other out-of-pocket expenses,” she wants $25 million from those responsible.

The Mueller report and revelations that Halper may have used a “honeypot” gambit to try to entrap Trump aide George Papadopoulos vindicate her, Lokhova says, noting that while the special counsel interviewed Flynn 19 times, she was not interviewed once.

May 25, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | 1 Comment

Democracy vs. The Putin-Nazis

By CJ Hopkins | Consent Factory, Inc | May 23, 2019

Back in January 2018, I wrote this piece about The War on Dissent, which, in case you haven’t noticed, is going gangbusters. As predicted, the global capitalist ruling classes have been using every weapon in their arsenal to marginalize, stigmatize, delegitimize, and otherwise eliminate any and all forms of dissent from neoliberal ideology, and in particular from their new official narrative … “Democracy versus The Putin-Nazis.”

For over two years, the corporate media have been pounding out an endless series of variations on this major theme, namely, that “democracy is under attack” by a conspiracy of Russians and neo-Nazis that magically materialized out of the ether during the Summer of 2016. The intelligence agencies, political elites, academia, celebrities, social media personalities, and other organs of the culture industry have been systematically reifying this official narrative through constant repetition. The Western masses have been inundated with innumerable articles, editorials, television news and talk show segments, books, social media posts, and various other forms of messaging whipping up hysteria over “Russians” and “fascists.” At this point, it is no longer just propaganda. It has become the new “truth.” It has become “reality.”

Becoming “reality” is, of course, the ultimate goal of every ideology. An ideology is just a system of ideas, and is thus fair game for critique and dissent. “Reality” is not fair game for dissent. It is not up for debate or challenge, not by “serious,” “legitimate” people. “Reality” is simply “the way it is.” It is axiomatic. It is apothegmatic. It’s not a belief or an interpretation. It is not subject to change or revision. It is the immortal, immutable Word of God … or whatever deity or deity-like concept the ruling classes and the masses they rule accept as the Final Arbiter of Truth. In our case, this would be Science, or Reason, rather than some supernatural being, but in terms of ideology there isn’t much difference. Every system of belief, regardless of its nature, ultimately depends on political power and power relations to enforce its beliefs, which is to say, to make them “real.”

OK, whenever I write about “reality” and “truth,” I get a few rather angry responses from folks who appear to think I’m denying the existence of objective reality. I’m not … for example, this chair I’m sitting on is absolutely part of objective reality, a physical object that actually exists. The screen you’re probably reading these words on is also part of objective reality. I am not saying there is no reality. What I’m saying is, “reality” is a concept, a concept invented and developed by people … a concept that serves a variety of purposes, some philosophical, some political. It’s the political purposes I’m interested in.

Think of “reality” as an ideological tool … a tool in the hands of those with the power to designate what is “real” and what isn’t. Doctors, teachers, politicians, police, scientists, priests, pundits, experts, parents — these are the enforcers of “reality.” The powerless do not get to decide what is “real.” Ask someone suffering from schizophrenia. Or … I’m sorry, is it bipolar disorder? Or oppositional defiant disorder? I can’t keep all these new disorders psychiatrists keep “discovering” straight.

Or ask a Palestinian living in Gaza. Or the mother of a Black kid the cops shot for no reason. Ask Julian Assange. Ask the families of all those “enemy combatants” Obama droned. Ask the “conspiracy theorists” on Twitter digitally screaming at anyone who will listen about what is and isn’t “the truth.” Each of them will give you their version of “reality,” and you and I may agree with some of them, and some of their beliefs may be supported with facts, but that will not make what they believe “reality.”

Power is what makes “reality” “reality.” Not facts. Not evidence. Not knowledge. Power.

Those in power, or aligned with those in power, or parroting the narratives of those in power, understand this (whether consciously or not). Those without power mostly do not, and thus we continue to “speak truth to power,” as if those in power gave a shit. They don’t. The powerful are not arguing with us. They are not attempting to win a debate about what is and isn’t “true,” or what did or didn’t “really” happen. They are declaring what did or didn’t happen. They are telling us what is and is not “reality,” and demonstrating what happens to those who disagree.

The “Democracy versus The Putin-Nazis” narrative is our new “reality,” whether we like it or not. It does not matter one iota that there is zero evidence to support this narrative, other than the claims of intelligence agencies, politicians, the corporate media, and other servants of the ruling classes. The Russians are “attacking democracy” because the ruling classes tell us they are. “Fascism is on the march again” because the ruling classes say it is. Anyone who disagrees is a “Putin-sympathizer,” a “Putin-apologist,” or “linked to Russia,” or “favored by Russia,” or an “anti-Semite,” or a “fascist apologist.”

Question the official narrative about the Gratuitously Baby Gassing Monster of Syria and you’re an Assad apologist, a Russian bot network, or a plagiarizing Red-Brown infiltrator. Criticize the corporate media for disseminating cheap McCarthyite smears, and you’re a Tulsi-stanning Hindu Nazi-apologist. God help you if you should appear on FOX, in which case you are a Nazi-legitimizer! A cursory check of the Internet today revealed that “far-right Facebook groups are spreading hate to millions in Europe” by means of some sort of hypnogenic content that just looking at it turns you into a Nazi. Our democracy-loving friends at The Atlantic Council are disappointed by Trump’s refusal to sign the “Christchurch Call,” a multilateral statement encouraging corporations to censor the Internet … and fascism is fashionable in Italy again!”

This post-Orwellian, neo-McCarthyite mass hysteria is not going to stop … not until the global capitalist ruling classes have suppressed the current “populist” insurgency and restored “normality” throughout the Western world. Until then, it’s going to be pretty much non-stop “Democracy versus the Putin-Nazis.”

So, unless you’re enjoying our new “reality,” or are willing to conform to it for some other reason, prepare to be smeared as “a Russia-loving, Putin-apologizing conspiracy theorist,” or a “fascism-enabling, Trump-loving Nazi,” or some other type of insidiously Slavic, white supremacist, mass-murder enthusiast. Things are only going to get uglier as the American election season ramps up. I mean, come on … you don’t really believe that the global capitalist ruling classes are going to let Trump serve a second term, do you?

May 23, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | | Leave a comment