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Does Trump know his own government indirectly bankrolls some key promoters of the ‘Russiagate’ hoax?

By Bryan MacDonald | RT | May 13, 2020

US President Donald Trump was elected on a promise to “drain the swamp.” Almost four years later, the Washington think-tank racket is as murky as ever, and the gravy train keeps rolling.

The false ‘Trump/Russia collusion’ narrative has been dead for so long now that it’s hard to remember what killed it, whether it was the Mueller Report or simply death by a thousand cuts.

Here is what we know: ‘Russiagate’ was a giant scam, and many of those who promoted it knowingly lied for a considerable length of time. Their aim was either to undermine Trump’s presidency or prevent any improvement in US relations with Russia.

Most of the journalists who facilitated the hoax also knew it was nonsense. But their loathing of Trump – and in some cases Russia, too – trumped ethical considerations. Thus, much of the general public was, for years, fed a diet of grifters and washed-up old spooks pushing a scam.

Funded by the government

The crazy thing is that many of its chief architects work for Washington think tanks funded by the US government. Given Trump has taken no obvious steps to curtail public funding for these lobby groups, it means the president’s own cabinet has been effectively bankrolling activists who are out to smear and destroy him.

Take Evelyn Farkas. A rabidly anti-Russia official in Barack Obama’s government, she was subsequently looked after with a gig at NATO’s Atlantic Council adjunct. This has become a traditional route in DC. When one party loses power, its apparatchiks are placed in a sort of think-tank racket cryonics chamber from which they can be reanimated in future, if their own tribe gets back into the White House.

Farkas, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, told MSNBC TV in 2017 that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government to win the 2016 presidential election.

But, as Townhall reports, “during an interview with the House Intelligence Committee in June 2017, where she was under oath, she admitted she didn’t have any information about collusion during that interview.”

As its correspondent Katie Pavlich points out, “through dozens of House Intelligence Committee transcripts and after a lengthy Special Counsel investigation, it was clear from the beginning ‘Russian collusion’ with the Trump campaign was a made-up talking point that was used as a political weapon.”

Farkas’ involvement fits a pattern. Her dad came from an elite Hungarian family who had their status diluted after the Soviets installed a communist government in Budapest following World War Two. Farkas’ background is important, because US media ignores how many of the people who pushed the ‘Trump-Russia’ hoax come from East European migrant families with an axe to grind against ‘the Russians’.

‘Stolen’ emails

The idea that Russia stole emails from the Democratic National Congress (DNC) was based on information from CrowdStrike. This cybersecurity firm was the source of the allegation that Russian intelligence agencies had hacked the DNC’s servers. You may remember the ‘Fancy Bear’ and ‘Cozy Bear’ narrative which was popularised by US media at the time.

CrowdStrike’s co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch was born in Moscow and moved to the US with his family at the age of 14. Like Farkas, he is also attached to the Atlantic Council, and his first published involvement with the pro-NATO pressure group was in 2012.

Back in 2016, he was lionised by mainstream US media, with Esquire, for instance, saying he was “our special forces (and Putin’s worst nightmare)” and “leading the fight to protect America.”

It has now emerged that the following year, his partner at CrowdStrike Shawn Henry told Congress – in closed-door testimony, previously buried – that CrowdStrike had “no concrete evidence that the data was exfiltrated from the DNC.”

In other words, as journalist Aaron Mate has pointed out, “CrowdStrike, the very firm behind the accusation that Russia hacked & stole DNC emails, admitted to Congress that it has no direct evidence Russia actually stole (or) exfiltrated the emails.”

Pushing the hoax

Of course, promoting ‘Russiagate’ wasn’t limited to the immigrant community. The likes of Bill Kristol, Michael McFaul, John Podesta and Clint Watts are all connected to the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMFUS), another DC lobby group which receives US government funding.

Watts was front and centre in pushing the hoax, while McFaul was at one point ubiquitous on cable news shows waffling on about Russia helping Trump to win the 2016 election. Podesta, meanwhile, alleged his emails were hacked by Russia while he was chair of Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential campaign.

The GMFUS receives over $1 million annually from both the US State Department and USAID. Meanwhile, the Atlantic Council gets between $500,000 and $999,000 a year from the same State Department and $100,000 to $249,000 from each of the US Air Force Academy and the US Department of Defence.

Which means Trump’s government is partially funding the people who tried to destroy his presidency, based on a falsehood obvious to honest observers from the very start. So much for the US president’s campaign promise to “drain the swamp.”

Bryan MacDonald is an Irish journalist based in Russia. He has written for RT since 2014. Before moving to Russia, Bryan worked for The Irish Independent, the Evening Herald, Ireland on Sunday, and The Irish Daily Mail. Follow him on Twitter @27khv

May 14, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , | 1 Comment

This Is Why You Can’t Trust The Fact Checkers

By Derrick Broze | The Last American Vagabond | May 11, 2020

For the last eight years I have worked as a writer, researcher, and investigative reporter for many well-known American independent media outlets. I have spent my time investigating digital surveillance technology, attacks on indigenous communities, and the overall growth of the government and corporate power. As someone working in this field, writing about topics which are often seen as controversial or “outside the mainstream” – censorship and personal attacks are part of the job description.

However, the attacks on independent media have rapidly increased in the last four years, with many formerly active journalistic outlets ceasing to exist due to lack of traffic and thus, lack of funds. We have seen outlets outright branded “fake news” or accused of collusion with the Russian government. Some channels and websites have been unable to apply for advertising or use certain digital products based on these labels. Some channels and reporters have been deleted off social media and other digital platforms altogether. And, if the social media managers don’t delete you, they might just use the algorithm to hide your posts, limiting your ability to interact with the public.

Attack of the “Fact” Checkers

Perhaps the most insidious method is the recent use of “fact checkers” to limit the reach of an outlet, or simply brand them with the fake news scarlet letter to discourage readers from engaging. This has been increasing in the last 2 years and I personally know of several remaining indy media outlets who have had to decide whether or not to run certain articles or video reports out of fear they might be censored or banned. Of course, with the algorithmic games being played by social media platforms, most outlets are reaching a tiny fraction of what they once were.

Case in point, The Mind Unleashed. I have been part of the TMU team on and off for the last year or so. In that time we have been struggling to reach a small fraction of our 9 million Facebook followers. Part of the reason we are struggling to reach people is because we have the dubious recognition of being labeled fake news by Facebook and affiliated fact checkers.

In a recent article published in Newsweek Espanol, in partnership with Newsguard, The Mind Unleashed is described as a “site that promises to ‘promote and inspire unconventional thinking,’ but is actually dedicated to publishing falsehoods.” The quote was in reference to a story TMU had written about the origins of COVID-19 and the potential for the virus to have been created as a bio weapon.

Newsguard is one of a number of “fact checker” services which has proliferated since the election of Donald Trump to U.S. President. Newsguard is a browser plug-in for Chrome and Microsoft Edge that gives trustworthiness ratings to most of the internet’s top-trafficked sites. It uses a color coded system to warn readers of an article or website’s trustworthiness. In a previous investigation, TLAV writer Whitney Webb exposed the neoconservative roots of the Newsguard team. Webb wrote:

“Newsguard’s advisory board makes it clear that Newsguard was created to serve the interests of American oligarchy. Chief among Newsguard’s advisors are Tom Ridge, the first Secretary of Homeland Security under George W. Bush and Ret. General Michael Hayden, a former CIA director, a former NSA director and principal at the Chertoff Group, a security consultancy seeking to “advise corporate clients and governments, including foreign governments” on security matters that was co-founded by former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who also currently serves as the board chairman of major weapons manufacturer BAE systems.”

Newsguard started as a partnership between Steven Brill and Louis Gordon Crovitz, with Crovitz appearing to be the connection to the world of finance, media, and geopolitics. Crovitz held a number of positions at Dow Jones and at the Wall Street Journal, is a board member of Business Insider, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and claims to have been an “editor or contributor to books published by the American Enterprise Institute and Heritage Foundation.” As Webb noted, “the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) is one of the most influential neoconservative think tanks in the country and its ‘scholars,’ directors and fellows have included neoconservative figures like Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, John Bolton and Frederick Kagan.”

Most recently, Newsguard has created a list of “Websites Publishing False Coronavirus Information” and a list “Super Spreaders” of false information. These lists include many well-known and credible independent media outlets. This is not to say that every website listed is credible and should be supported. The point is that these types of lists only serve to “blackball” certain outlets and schools of thoughts which counter the mainstream version of events.

Newsguard is not the only fact checker service operating in the current “post-truth era”. Social media companies like Facebook have partnered with several organizations with the stated aim of fact checking and debunking disinformation. Of course, these organizations tend to reinforce the narratives being woven by the mouthpieces in the corporate media and the puppet masters working the politicians.  For a moment Facebook partnered with reviled “fact checker” Snopes, but, after Snopes was discredited, Facebook has now partnered with companies like Lead Stories.

Lead Stories also “fact checked” The Mind Unleashed a couple times, always using arbitrary standards and semantics to make a story appear to be false or misleading. In one story, Lead Stories relies on data from the aforementioned Newsguard. So who is Lead Stories? The About page states that since January 2019 they have been a part of Facebook fact checker program. They describe the partnership as follows:

“Under the terms of this partnership we get access to listings of content that has been flagged as potentially false by Facebook’s systems or its users and we can decide independently if we want to fact check it or not. In addition to this we can enter our fact checks into a tool provided by Facebook and Facebook then uses our data to help slow down the spread of false information on its platform. Facebook pays us to perform this service for them but they have no say or influence over what we fact check or what our conclusions are, nor do they want to.”

Lead Stories is run by Perry Sanders Jr., an attorney known for representing the family of rapper Notorious B.I.G. after his murder, and Editor-in-Chief Alan Duke, who helped create Lead Stories after 26 years with CNN. Despite Duke’s bio stating that he “did ground-breaking investigative reporting on the Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking scandal“, CNN is most known as a “super spreader” of propaganda and fake news. It is CNN, ABC, CBS, the Washington Post and others who actually helped cover up Epstein’s crimes. The entire Lead Stories team is filled with former and current CNN employees, as well as other MSM outlets.

Two other organizations that have partnered with Facebook and fact checked TMU are Science Feedback and Africa Check, both which claim to identify and expose the spread of disinformation. Science Feedback describes itself as “a worldwide network of scientists sorting fact from fiction in science based media coverage. Our goal is to help readers know which news to trust”. Africa Check says they are a non-profit attempting to “raise the quality of information available to society across the continent.”

As with Lead Stories and Newsguard, Africa Check uses semantics to label a story false or misleading. Science Feedback uses a similar strategy, casting The Mind Unleashed (and other alternative media sites) in a web of “disinformation” related to a report about the potential for a “mini ice age”.

Interestingly, Africa Check’s list of partners includes The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, yet another example of how the Gates’ spread their influence and agenda around the world – this time as part of an effort to control the dialogue around hot topics. Gates also funded the Event 201 pandemic simulation exercise which discussed the potential for censoring the internet or even arresting individuals who spread information that has been deemed false. Africa Check is also partnered with the George Soros-funded Open Society Foundations.

How to Limit Discussion and Control the Narrative

The strategy for the social media companies and fact checkers is simple: label someone fake news, lower their reach with algorithmic manipulation, force them to comply to arbitrary commands if they want the fake news label removed, control the narrative and shape the conversation.

Over the last two years I have seen good, hard working reporters and members of the independent/alternative media struggle to maintain integrity and report truthfully about controversial topics while also walking on egg shells in an attempt not to upset the fact checkers. For example, in late February, one writer had an article fact checked for discussing the various reports about COVID-19 being engineered in a lab. The Facebook fact checker stated:

“As explained in our fact-check, the claim that was reported in your article, namely that the coronavirus was created in a lab, is unsupported by evidence and is in fact contradicted by multiple scientific studies indicating that the virus originated naturally in wildlife.”

The writer of this particular order actually went to great lengths to make it clear that some sources disagreed with the claim, but according to Facebook’s fact checker, “it does not acknowledge that the claim is false to begin with, giving readers the misleading impression that there is legitimate scientific doubt over the issue when this is not the case.”

In other words, there is no reason to tell the public that some professionals and researchers have a different theory about the origins of the virus. No matter what was offered to the fact checker there was no compromise. Not only did they want the title to be changed and for an editor’s note to be attached acknowledging the apparently “false” claim, but they said they would not remove the fake news label if we took the article down. The options were essentially to keep the article up and comply, or keep it up, change nothing, and be labeled fake news.

In emails from Newsguard, TMU was admonished for “its history of promoting conspiracy theories related to the Sept. 11 attacks and the Douma, Syria chemical weapons attacks, as well as its promotion of marijuana as a cancer cure in stories”. It’s clear to see that anyone who does not buy the official narratives about the major geopolitical events of our day, or support the Big Pharma kool-aid – will be punished.

Unfortunately, the censors are winning because many in the alternative media are choosing to self-censor in the hopes that things will get better in the long run or that doing so will allow them to stay on the platform longer, and continue to reach more people. As we are now seeing, this is a losing strategy.

Two Years After the FB-Atlantic Council Partnership & the Independent Media Purge

What we are witnessing today, in May 2020, is the continuation of the fight against “fake news” which began immediately following the election of Donald Trump. In November 2016, Merrimack College associate professor Melissa Zimdars posted a public Google document titled, “False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical ‘News’ Sources” which went viral after being reported on by most corporate mainstream outlets.

Within a matter of weeks, a new list appeared online from an organization calling itself PropOrNot, an allegedly independent group of researchers trying to find the truth about the dissemination of Russian propaganda and fake news. This list also contained names of prominent independent media outlets like Anti Media, The Corbett Report, Mint Press News, and many others.

It was this combination of the Zimdars list and the PropOrNot list which had the immediate effect of placing a target on the vast majority of independent journalists and outlets who have also been accused of directly or indirectly conspiring with the Russians. Websites and social media pages for these outlets began to suffer a drastic reduction in reach and interaction with their audiences. Many websites have lost access to Google advertising money due to these false associations. The problem is that the majority of the mainstream media unquestionably reported on and repeated the claims made by these two lists without any attempt at investigative work.

In January 2018, PropOrNot would be exposed for their connections to The Atlantic Council, a think tank with connections to the western Military-Industrial Complex. Coincidentally, in May 2018, Facebook announced a partnership with the Atlantic Council, which officially claims to provide a forum for international political, business, and intellectual leaders. The social media giant said the partnership was aimed at preventing Facebook from “being abused during elections.”

The press release promoted Facebook’s efforts to fight fake news by using artificial intelligence, as well as working with outside experts and governments.

“Today, we’re excited to launch a new partnership with the Atlantic Council, which has a stellar reputation looking at innovative solutions to hard problems. Experts from their Digital Forensic Research Lab will work closely with our security, policy and product teams to get Facebook real-time insights and updates on emerging threats and disinformation campaigns from around the world. This will help increase the number of “eyes and ears” we have working to spot potential abuse on our service — enabling us to more effectively identify gaps in our systems, preempt obstacles, and ensure that Facebook plays a positive role during elections all around the world.”

The Atlantic Council of the United States was established in 1961 to bolster support for international relations. Although not officially connected to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Atlantic Council has spent decades promoting causes and issues which are beneficial to NATO member states. In addition, The Atlantic Council is a member of the Atlantic Treaty Organization, an umbrella organization which “acts as a network facilitator in the Euro-Atlantic and beyond.” The ATO works similarly to the Atlantic Council, bringing together political leaders, academics, military officials, journalists and diplomats to promote values that are favorable to the NATO member states.

Officially, ATO is independent of NATO, but the line between the two is razor thin.

Essentially, the Atlantic Council is a think tank which can offer companies or nation states access to military officials, politicians, journalists, diplomats, etc., to help them develop a plan to implement their strategy or vision. These strategies often involve getting NATO governments or industry insiders to make decisions they might not have made without a visit from the Atlantic Council team. This allows individuals or nations to push forth their ideas under the cover of hiring what appears to be a public relations agency but is actually selling access to high-profile individuals with power to affect public policy. Indeed, everyone from George H.W. Bush to Bill Clinton to the family of international agent of disorder Zbigniew Brzezinski have spoken at or attended council events.

In 2016, The New York Times wrote “The Atlantic Council, which has seen its annual revenue grow to $21 million from $2 million in the last decade, offers access to United States and foreign government officials in exchange for contributions. Individual donors, like FedEx, have also helped fund specific reports that align with their agendas.” The Times wrote that giving financial support is rewarded with “an ‘unprecedented level of information and access,’ including the chance to have a corporate executive, if the company donates at least $50,000 a year, speak at an Atlantic Council event ‘with top U.S. and foreign leaders’ present.”

According to their website, “The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) has operationalized the study of disinformation by exposing falsehoods and fake news, documenting human rights abuses, and building digital resilience worldwide.” The DFRLab tracks global disinfo campaigns, fake news stories, and “subversive attempts against democracy while teaching the public skills to identify and expose attempts to pollute the information space.”

The Atlantic Council’s list of financial supporters reads like a who’s-who of think tanks and Non-Governmental Organizations. The Atlantic Council receives funding from the Brookings Institution, Carnegie Endowment, Cato Institute, Council on Foreign Relations, and the Rand Corporation, to name a few. In addition, various members of the Military-Industrial Complex are benefactors of the Atlantic Council, including Huntington Ingalls, the United States’ sole maker of aircraft carriers; Airbus, the plane manufacturer; Lockheed Martin, the shipbuilder and aviation company; and Raytheon, which makes missile systems. All of the companies have contracts with the U.S. Department of Defense and offer financial support to the Atlantic Council. The Council also receives support from Chevron and the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Finally, the Atlantic Council receives direct financial support from the U.S. Departments of the Air Force, Army, Navy and Energy and from the U.S. Mission to NATO.

By October 2018 – only five months after the Atlantic Council partnership with Facebook – the social media giant announced they were unpublishing, or purging, over 500 pages and 200 accounts who are accused of spreading political spam. Several of these pages and writers were also removed from Twitter on the same day.

“Today, we’re removing 559 Pages and 251 accounts that have consistently broken our rules against spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior,” Facebook stated in a blog post. Facebook states that the people behind this alleged spam “create networks of Pages using fake accounts or multiple accounts with the same names” and “post the same clickbait posts in dozens of Facebook Groups”.

Nearly 3 years later, we are still seeing the repercussions of the purge of independent media voices. In the wake of COVID-19 and calls for stemming the flow of “misinformation”, we will likely see more censorship and digital purging. Those who are attempting to stay informed and aware need to recognize that getting your news from Google, Facebook, YouTube, etc., will keep you trapped in a bubble of sanitized, state-approved information.

Step Outside the Matrix and Question Everything.

Question Everything, Come To Your Own Conclusions.

May 12, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Democrat advice for ‘combating online disinformation’ is common sense buried under hypocrisy and censorship

By Nebojsa Malic | RT | December 19, 2019

There is actually some good advice in the Democratic National Committee’s five suggestions for avoiding “disinformation” online. Too bad it’s buried in hypocrisy and promotion of literal disinformation shops, grifters and frauds.

On Tuesday, as Democrats launched their final impeachment push in the House of Representatives, the DNC posted a set of recommendations to its followers to protect themselves from “disinformation.” While the jokes about flogging the dead horse of ‘Russiagate’ write themselves at this point, some of the advice offered is actually quite solid.

For instance, it makes perfect sense to actively seek out information from multiple sources. The DNC spoils it, however, by insisting the sources have to be “authoritative.” As in what, approved by the Party? Well, no, merely by the self-appointed gatekeepers such as MediaBiasFactCheck and NewsGuard.

We’ve written about NewsGuard before. As for MBFC, it lists the Alliance for Securing Democracy – operators of the ridiculous Hamilton68 dashboard – and Bellingcat as “least biased” news sources. Enough said.

“Ask yourself who the author of online content is,” also amounts to good advice. That too is tempered by the realization that in its more commonplace, lazy form it amounts to identity politics: stuff “our” people create has to be correct, while anything done by “them” is suspect.

The third point is perhaps the strongest: “When you share, make sure you are sharing content that is true and helpful to others, not as a knee-jerk reaction to content that angers or scares you.”

One only wishes the Democrats would take their own advice, given how widespread the “woke rage clickbait” business model has become. A whole bunch of online outlets have catered to hate-clicks of Democrats perpetually aggrieved by Donald Trump’s presidency, until they went out of business and fired their staff.

The fourth piece of advice urges people to “try to inject truth into the debate” using fact-checkers like Snopes or PolitiFact. Leaving aside the proliferation of partisan fact-checkers and the whole industry of “arguments” based on redefining the meaning of words, this method is somewhat of a rare bird – mainly because of too many people following points two and three too literally, and generally launching personal attacks rather than debating the issues.

By far the worst offender, however, has to be the fifth point, urging DNC followers to “educate” themselves by reading a variety of articles, books and reports that actually peddle outrageous propaganda.

For example, one of the recommended resources is a report on disinformation by New Knowledge – a Democrat-funded shop that literally faked an army of Russian “bots” to sway a 2017 US Senate race in Alabama.

Another is a New York Times “documentary” on a Soviet conspiracy to “tear the West apart” that tells more about its authors than anything they claim.

Other recommendations include “smart civil society groups” that are literally disinformation shops run either by the Democrats themselves (Media Matters for America), or the Atlantic Council and NATO (Disinfo Portal). There is also Graphika, an outfit currently employing the Atlantic Council’s former chief troll-hunter Ben Nimmo, a disinformation story unto himself.

But wait, there’s more! Among the recommended authorities are Russiagate pushers Clint Watts and Malcolm Nance, CNN and MSNBC authorities on “disinformation” and “Russian bots” despite being repeatedly and colossally wrong on everything pretty much all the time.

Needless to say, DNC’s advice has attracted far more derision than appreciation on Twitter, with responses dominated by snark along the lines of “Tell us more about this and the Steele dossier,” or “disinformation [is] information that doesn’t lead to election of Democrats.”

Nor was all of the negative feedback from conservatives. “Coming from those who rigged the 2016 Democratic primary, no thanks. I don’t take advice from criminals,” quipped one diehard Bernie Sanders fan.

Tough luck, Democrats. Do better.

December 20, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sound familiar? Reddit says US-UK trade deal leaks may be tied to Russia, citing speculation from… of course, Atlantic Council

RT | December 7, 2019

A trove of secret papers cited by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in attacking the Tories may have links to Moscow, Reddit has announced. The proof? The US-UK-NATO-funded Atlantic Council says it isn’t sure but it might be true.

The leaked documents, which were shared on the discussion site several weeks ago, point to evidence that the United States would demand a market share in the UK’s National Health Service in any trade talks after Brexit. In a statement, Reddit said that it believed that the accounts that had shared the documents were “part of a campaign that has been reported as originating from Russia.”

The vague wording is further muddled by the source that Reddit cites: The Atlantic Council. Ben Nimmo, a senior fellow at the think tank, said that the leaks “closely resemble techniques” allegedly employed by Russia. He noted, however, that “we do not have all the data that allows us to make a final determination in this case.”

While media outlets rushed to hype the “findings” as definitive proof of Russia’s involvement, some journalists noted obvious holes in the story.

Aside from the Atlantic Council’s clear conflict of interest in the story (it’s a US and UK-funded think tank, allegedly investigating leaks that damage both governments), Nimmo’s prominence in this saga of alleged Russian meddling is also cause for concern. The self-professed disinformation fighter has links to the now-exposed Integrity Initiative, a shadowy group funded by the British Foreign Office that masquerades as an independent disinformation-busting ‘charity.’ In fact, Integrity Initiative even used its platform to spread talking points aimed at linking Corbyn to the Kremlin.

December 7, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , , , | 1 Comment

State Funded Propagandists Claim Anti-War Journalists Are State-Funded Propagandists

By Alan MacLeod | American Herald Tribune | October 5, 2019

Investigative journalism website Bellingcat released a bombshell report September 30, that claimed to uncover a network of “pro-Assad media” infiltrating Western journalism. The author, Charles Davis, alleged there was a “shadowy group” connected to the government of Syria that was financing the careers of both left- and right-wing journalists, bloggers and news outlets that toed an Assadist line. Named in the report as effective agents of Damascus were the likes of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, investigative journalists Max Blumenthal, Rania Khalek and Whitney Webb, news outlets like MintPress News and independent journalists such as Caitlin Johnstone. Even the Green Party’s 2016 Vice-Presidential candidate Ajamu Baraka was framed as an Assad puppet. Thus, virtually the entire gamut of Western antiwar voices on Syria was declared to be deceiving the public, feeding them Syrian propaganda.

These are extraordinary claims. Yet the evidence provided was far from extraordinary. Indeed, the base of the evidence given was that many of these figures had accepted awards from a US-based organization dedicated, in their own words to “integrity in journalism” which, Davis insists, is a front to spread Assadist propaganda. Despite the lack of concrete evidence, the article caused waves on social media, with many seeing it as final proof of a worldwide conspiracy.

What Davis did not divulge, however, as was quickly pointed out by many he pointed the finger at, including Mint Press’ Mnar Muhawesh, was that Bellingcat itself is directly funded by some extremely shady organizations, including the Open Society Foundation and the US government’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED). That is the same NED that is currently bankrolling the protests in Hong Kong and has organized regime change operations in Nicaragua and Venezuela.

The NED was established as a buffer organization between the CIA and the organizations it was sponsoring. “It would be terrible for democratic groups around the world to be seen as subsidized by the CIA,” NED President Carl Gershman told the New York Times in 1986. “We saw that in the Sixties, and that’s why it has been discontinued.” One of the NED’s founders, Allen Weinstein, was even more frank: “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA”, he told the Washington Post.

Davis’ report was met with scathing criticism by those who it named as Assad agents.

“I find it terribly ironic that an article that accused MintPress and other anti-war news sites and journalists of receiving “shady state-linked funding” was published on Bellingcat, a site funded by the US government – currently an occupying power in Syria ­– and Google – the tech behemoth currently working overtime to censor independent media” replied Whitney Webb, when asked by the American Herald Tribune for a response to the allegations, adding that the attempt to paint the Serena Shim Award as “shady” was “quite dishonest” as the cash prize is funded by an all-American political action committee that opposes US interventionism abroad.

Max Blumenthal appeared equally unconcerned with the allegations. “I’ll take a token award from an anti-war non-profit over a byline in an interventionist PR operation literally backed by a CIA cutout that destabilizes socialist and independent nations around the globe any day” he told the American Herald Tribune, adding that “it almost seems that Charles Davis’ entire life is dedicated to attacking and denigrating me. He literally does nothing else”.

If Webb, Blumenthal and others are correct, this latest article is little more than an attempt to denigrate anti-imperialist, anti-war voices, along the lines of what the Atlantic Council has attempted to do. Since 2016, the Council, an offshoot of NATO, has published a series of investigations called “the Kremlin’s Trojan Horses” claiming virtually every political party in Europe that does not fully embrace neoliberal economics and an aggressive policy towards Russia is secretly infiltrated by and directed from Moscow. These parties include Labour and UKIP in the UK, PODEMOS in Spain, Syriza and Golden Dawn in Greece and the Lega Nord in Italy.

The Atlantic Council’s board of directors is a who’s who of neocon, interventionist foreign policy planners including Henry Kissinger, ex-Bush officials like Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell and James Baker, Generals like David Petraeus and Wesley Clark, and a host of ex-CIA directors and senior tech executives. It was this organization that Facebook announced it was teaming up with to fight fake news. Thus, the Council is helping the social media giant to decide what America (and the rest of its 2.4 billion users) sees in their news feeds and what is likely Russian-sponsored fake news. When an organization like this decides what is news and what is not, it is state censorship by any other name. As soon as this partnership was in place, Facebook began deleting news and media channels from Iranian and Latin American (particularly Venezuelan) media that contradicted NATO’s official line on their countries. And Facebook was already working closely with the Israeli government to silence Palestinian voices on its platform.

Eliot Higgins ba4ef

Eliot Higgins. Credit: Ars Electronica/ flickr

Bellingcat’s founder, Eliot Higgins, for the record, was a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council between 2016 and 2019, where he published purportedly expert and independent reports into Russian aggression in Ukraine. Yet Bellingcat continues to present itself as a neutral observer in the cyberwar between Russia and the West.

And that is the trick. Under the guise of protecting us from supposedly extensive foreign, state-funded propaganda campaigns, we are, ourselves, being exposed to an even bigger, Western state-funded propaganda campaign, the extent of which is far greater than even the most lurid Russian fantasies of Bellingcat. Last year, for instance, it was exposed that the UK secret services have infiltrated media across Europe, building up “clusters” of sympathetic journalists in many nations in order to push certain lines crucial to their perceived interests. This “Integrity Initiative” as it is known, sprung into action in Spain, using their journalists to stir up a storm of controversy that managed to block the appointment of Colonel Pedro Baños to the position of head of Spanish national security. Baños, the Initiative had decided, was not sufficiently warlike on Russia, and needed to be blocked. Yet this blatant interference in foreign politics received scant attention in corporate media.

Ultimately, there is a new information war being waged in cyberspace, and the lesson to be drawn from this affair is to be very cautious of those decrying Russian propaganda while not also warning against the power of Google and the NSA, or calling for the release of whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden and Julian Assange. Cyberspace is the new battleground; and in war, truth is always the first casualty.


Alan MacLeod is a member of the Glasgow University Media Group. His latest book, Bad News From Venezuela: 20 Years of Fake News and Misreporting, was published by Routledge in April.

October 5, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , | 2 Comments

Establishment & media sympathize with Greta’s ‘Fridays for Future’ movement… So how is that a ‘protest’ exactly?

RT | September 27, 2019

As hundreds of thousands of people – many of them schoolchildren – take to the streets in another demonstration over climate change, one must wonder: at what point does protest become the status quo?

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg’s solo school walkout last August was little more than a sideshow to newspaper editors and TV crews. But the teenage crusader’s ‘school strike’ snowballed, and the ‘Fridays for Future’ movement grew.

Now, after an emotional speech by Thunberg at the UN Climate Action Summit on Monday, hundreds of thousands of climate strikers worldwide are packing the streets on Friday, demanding their governments declare a state of emergency, slash carbon emissions, penalize meat-eating and kill the car, to pick but a few of their proposals.

But these radicals – as they would have been called not so long ago – aren’t being met by the batons, tear gas and rubber bullets the state usually deploys to quash dissent (not that any peaceful demonstrations should be). Media outlets aren’t smearing those within their ranks as racists and downplaying attendance numbers, and the crowds occupying city streets aren’t risking injury and mutilation to do so.

The very idea of ‘protest’ implies some resistance, some injustice of state to be overcome. Climate protesters would argue that not enough is being done to heal our heating earth – and that’s a debate beyond the scope of this article – but government, media, and the world’s power brokers have aided Thunberg and co’s protest movement at every step of the way.

France’s ‘Yellow Vests’ protests began in opposition to a fossil fuel tax hike, and were met with all of the violence described above on a weekly basis. Thunberg, in contrast, was invited to address the French parliament in July. Likewise with her appearances at the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this year, her speeches before British parliament and the US Congress, and her most recent UN appearance. On every occasion, the world’s political leaders rolled out the red carpet and held the door open for her to lecture them.

Media coverage of Thunberg and the climate protests has been overwhelmingly favorable – with The Guardian comparing her speech on Monday to Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address for its historical significance, and New York Magazine calling her “the Joan of Arc of climate change.” The Yellow Vests, to continue the comparison, were described as a rabble of anti-semites and “notorious Holocaust deniers,” based on the actions of a tiny minority of protesters.

The school strikers and climate crusaders enjoy blanket support. “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money, and fairy tales of eternal economic growth,” Thunberg scolded leaders on Monday. However, even the world’s corporations have jumped on board the eco bandwagon, ever keen to virtue-signal their way to a few more dollars, even if their own green credentials are suspect at best.

If the protests are being framed as a David and Goliath story of children speaking truth to power and taking on the elite, why do the elite support them so wholeheartedly? An optimist would say that these leaders finally see the need for urgent climate action. After all, public outcry over the hole in the ozone layer in the 1980s led to the adoption of a landmark chemicals ban in 1987, and three decades later, NASA revealed proof last year that the ozone layer is recovering.

A cynic would argue that the upper echelons stand to benefit in some way. And that’s true too. Several conglomerates of the world’s leading financial institutions, backed by neoliberal think tanks like the Atlantic Council, have already expressed interest in getting their hands on public funds to finance green industry ventures, particularly in the developing world. What some call a crisis, they call the “climate opportunity.”

Addressing climate change too presents control-freak politicians with boundless opportunity to push otherwise unpalatable legislation. More than 100 US Lawmakers in Congress support the ‘Green New Deal.’ Among them are a handful of presidential candidates and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the hotshot New York Congresswoman who welcomed Thunberg to the city last month following her carbon-neutral Atlantic crossing.

As well as measures to wean the US off fossil fuels and replace airplane and car travel with greener alternatives, Ocasio-Cortez’ Green New Deal legislation comes bundled with a progressive wishlist of universal health care, minimum wage hikes, wealth redistribution, and government control of industry – traditionally anathema to American voters. All of this calls for higher taxes, and an expansion of federal government power.

Whether out of self-interest or benevolence, the climate protest movement enjoys the support of the elite, and taking Friday off school to demonstrate is about as safe as protest gets. Skipping school would normally earn truants a clip about the ears or a stern talking-to, but more and more teachers are getting on board with the strikes, and encouraging their students to take part.

When I was a teenager, we weren’t given the day off to protest the invasion of Iraq. Instead, we snuck off, changed into our baggy jeans and hoodies, and hopped on a bus to government buildings. Protest felt transgressive and anti-establishment.

Protest on a day off. Deny your parents and their generation the only meaningful chance in a busy week to spend some time with you. After all, as Thunberg said, adults have “stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.”

A protest stops being a protest when it’s pro-establishment. Once it reaches that tipping point, people begin to probe deeper and doubt the intentions of the protesters, and corporate support is a death knell for authenticity.

Most people who complain about climate protesters don’t hate Greta Thunberg for who she is. They just don’t like being browbeaten into thinking a certain way by the combined forces of activists, corporations, the media and the state, no matter how right or wrong that way is.

September 27, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , | 4 Comments

Two Think Tanks Claim Sputnik Meddled in 2017 French Election, Present No Proof… Again

Sputnik – July 11, 2019

Russian media outlets last year faced accusations of interfering in France’s internal politics, but a recent probe by French intelligence has reportedly found no signs of such activities.

The French Institute of Strategic Research of the Military School (IRSEM) and American think-tank the Atlantic Council have in a recent collaborative project produced a report, the latest in a row of similar ones, claiming that Russia meddled in the internal affairs of a foreign government. This time, the researchers accused Moscow of trying to prevent the victory of Emmanuel Macron in the 2017 French presidential election.

The researchers try to prove that by using state-funded media outlets, namely Sputnik, as an “information weapon”, the Kremlin allegedly organised a coordinated “disinformation campaign” against then presidential hopeful Macron. However, like many similar papers on alleged “Russian meddling”, this research also fails to present solid facts that substantiate the claims and stumbles into certain problems when trying to prove that such a targeted “campaign” actually existed in the first place.

Notably, the report’s key author and head of the IRSEM, Jean-Baptiste Jeangène Vilmer, who also serves on the Academic Advisory Board of the NATO Defence College, took most of his points of evidence from the works of Ben Nimmo, a researcher at the Atlantic Council. The latter, like many other Western think tanks, regularly publishes research devoted to proving the existence of Russian attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of Western countries and proposing ways in which they can counter this alleged “threat”.

“Anti-Macron Campaign” or Factual Reporting?

The IRSEM study recalls that back in February 2017, Macron’s digital manager accused Sputnik of publishing “fake news” about his employer from the “very beginning of [the election] campaign”. The author of the paper, Vilmer, claims that this “disinformation campaign” began when the French edition of Sputnik published a report about statements by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, in which he revealed that he possessed “interesting information” about Macron, albeit without specifying whether it was compromising in any way.

Referring to the Sputnik article as “menacing”, the IRSEM report draws parallels to the 2016 US presidential election and WikiLeaks’ publication of Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails. At the same time, the paper didn’t elaborate any further on how exactly reporting on an interview with a famous whistle-blower, in which no compromising information about Macron was published, was able to affect the outcome of the election. It also failed to mention that WikiLeaks’ threats, covered by Sputnik, were not limited to Macron, but also touched his main opponent in the second round, Marine Le Pen.

“Hand-Picked” Speakers vs Hand-Picked Examples

The IRSEM head admits in the report that Sputnik didn’t publish any “fake news” during the election campaign in France, but instead accused it of “information manipulation”. Vilmer claims that the Russian media outlet had expressed “a strong bias” by allegedly leaving out important information and by “hiding behind the quotations” of the “right people”.

While failing to present any proof that Sputnik had omitted any important facts in its articles, the researcher instead tried to substantiate his claim by indicating that Sputnik had interviewed only two persons, who happen to be members of the French Parliament – Thierry Mariani and Nicolas Dhuicq – in regards to the upcoming election. However, a simple search on the news outlet’s website reveals that in reality Sputnik had interviewed far more contributors on the topic, such as Jacques Lamblin, another member of the country’s parliament, as well as various European lawmakers and pundits.

Alleged “Focus” on “Macron Affair”

The paper proceeds to claim that Sputnik covered the election in France with “a distinct bias against Macron”. According to Vilmer, this was expressed in a strategy of giving a deaf ear to scandals involving other contenders for the presidency, such as “the Kremlin’s favoured candidate”, Marine Le Pen, and instead focusing on “rumours” about Macron’s alleged offshore accounts.

The IRSEM research insisted that most of Sputnik’s articles were devoted to the “invented Macron affair” involving offshore accounts while it “defended Le Pen and amplified her party”. However, the paper does not include any factual proof of a discrepancy in the coverage of Macron-related scandals and controversies involving his rivals. It also fully omits the actual fact that Sputnik covered the latter.

“Blame Russia” Trend

France was the second Western country to try to blame Russia for interfering in its domestic affairs. This was preceded by an attempt by the US Democratic Party, and specifically its candidate Hillary Clinton, to shift the blame for the defeat in the 2016 presidential election on to supposed meddling by Moscow.

This blame-game later became a trend among Western governments and political parties in countries such as the UK, Germany, and Spain, to name only a few. But just as in the case of the US, none of these states managed to provide any credible evidence to substantiate the claims, at best referring to obscure “intelligence reports”. Moscow has repeatedly pointed out this lack of underlying proof when rejecting these groundless accusations

Notably, following Macron’s victory in the elections his team abandoned the narrative for a while, only to return to it in February 2019, accusing Moscow of “orchestrating” the Yellow Vest rallies, which demanded Macron’s resignation, and pointing to Sputnik and RT for this purpose. However, earlier reports by local news outlets said that the French intelligence services’ investigation had failed to find any signs indicating that the Russian media was able to impact French domestic affairs.

July 11, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

Why UK report on ‘digital gangster’ Facebook is a thinly veiled call for censorship

RT | February 18, 2019

A new UK 108-page report on “disinformation and fake news” online strongly reprimands Facebook for its ongoing misuse of personal data — but also casually promotes unprecedented levels of political censorship on social media.

The report, which is the culmination of an 18-month investigation by a UK parliamentary committee, lambastes Facebook over its failure to protect its users’ data and accuses it of deliberate breaches of privacy and anti-competition laws. It offers numerous examples of Facebook sins, including the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which saw the shady firm mine the personal data of 50 million users without permission.

The report also accuses CEO Mark Zuckerberg of showing “contempt” towards the UK parliament for refusing three requests to appear before the committee and admonishes Facebook for behaving like a “digital gangster.”

Grand intentions?

Despite its wide-ranging criticisms, however, it is immediately evident that the overarching goal of the report appears to be to force Facebook to engage in censorship to the benefit of Western governments. It focuses heavily on “malign forces” posting content which is intended to cause “disruption and confusion” online. Lest there be any confusion about the identity of those malign forces, the word “Russian” is used 51 times in the report.

While the authors claim to be interested in ensuring a “plurality of voices” online, they are extremely quick to resort to forms of censorship as a solution to the existence of content that does not adhere to certain approved narratives.

Censorship solution

There have been multiple examples in recent months of Facebook willingly and enthusiastically working in conjunction with US government-funded think tanks to target content critical of the US government, including its temporary removal of the English-language page belonging to Telesur, a Venezuela-based outlet which questions US policy in Latin America.

Facebook’s removal of that page happened weeks after it partnered with the US government-funded Atlantic Council to combat “inauthentic” content online.

The report admits that while it’s impossible to completely rid the internet of this politically inconvenient content, governments must focus on “the enforcement of greater transparency in the digital sphere” so that citizens “know the source” of information.

Facebook’s recent suspension of pages partly owned by RT video agency Ruptly (purportedly due to their failure to prominently disclose its funding) would surely please the UK committee. The problem is, these new transparency rules are being arbitrarily applied to pages publishing content critical of Western governments, while content funded by those governments so far is subject to no such oversight.

Further proving that the (thinly veiled) intent of the report is censorship of foreign (i.e., Russian) media, the report praises a French law which allows the French national broadcasting agency “to suspend television channels controlled by or under the influence of a foreign state” if they disseminate “false” information.

Discredited sources

The British report has some glaring flaws and inconsistencies, including its use of the New Knowledge cybersecurity firm as a credible source of information on Russian influence online, despite the fact that it was recently exposed by the New York Times for faking a Russian disinformation campaign in order to influence a local US election. Nonetheless, the report describes New Knowledge as an “information integrity company.”

It also praises NewsGuard, an app with deep ties to the US government, which applies trust ratings to news websites. As RT has documented before, however, NewsGuard applies its criteria selectively and exhibits clear bias against content critical of US policies. It is also lobbying to have its ratings installed by default on computers in schools and universities around the US — and even to have them installed by default on smartphones.

Ironically, the report criticizes people for giving credence to information which “reinforces their views” while dismissing content which they do not agree with as “fake news.”

Russian influence, or online democracy?

The report also takes a look at the “influence” Russian media may have had on the 2016 Brexit referendum, specifically outlets like RT and Sputnik. In an admission which is unintentionally quite funny, the report states that articles which had the “heaviest anti-EU bias” are the ones that went “most viral” online during the campaign.

Of course, by highlighting the fact that so many people were enthusiastically sharing content critical of the EU, the report inadvertently concedes that anti-EU sentiment was widespread, rather than some kind of evil plot by Russia to “sow discord” in the West.

The report also notes, however, that Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright MP admitted that he has seen no convincing evidence that Russian interference has had any “material impact” on how people choose to vote. Similarly, in the US, little evidence has been presented to suggest that so-called Russian online influence had any impact whatsoever on the outcome of the 2016 election.

Nonetheless, the report suggests that the UK government should launch new investigations into past elections, including the Brexit referendum and the Scottish independence referendum in 2014 to dig for elusive evidence of Russian interference.

Say goodbye to ‘harmful’ content

To ensure that social media companies comply with all its various demands, the report recommends that “a new category of tech company is formulated” which tightens their liabilities and would see those companies assume legal liability for content identified as “harmful.” It also advocates the establishment of a “compulsory Code of Ethics” setting out exactly what constitutes harmful content.

The British government should also “explore the feasibility” of adopting a UK version of the US Foreign Agents and Registration Act (FARA), it says. FARA requires persons acting “as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity” to disclose this information publicly. Ironically, a similar ‘foreign agents’ law in Russia was heavily criticized by Western media and politicians for targeting dissenting voices.

US government-funded outlets like Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFERL) both wrote reports critical of the law, with VOA even suggesting it had “echoes of Stalin-era denunciations” of dissidents. No such outrage emerged from those outlets when RT was forced to register as a “foreign agent” in the US last year.

Finally, the report suggests that companies like Facebook should also be required to finance digital literacy learning as “the fourth pillar of education” alongside reading, writing and math.

If this report is anything to go by, there is no doubt that learning to identify (and ignore) content critical of Western governments would be a major element of such “digital literacy” courses.

February 18, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment

Christmas 2018: Iran and Syria show respect, Israel and Saudi Arabia don’t

By Neil Clark | RT | December 29, 2018

Christmas is a time of goodwill to all men. Or at least it should be. But while the West’s Middle East ‘bad guys’ Iran and Syria, showed the Yuletide spirit, its closest allies, Saudi Arabia and Israel, failed to do so.

Iran is demonized by Western neocons and we’re meant to see the country as an evil, ‘monster‘ regime of foaming-at-the-mouth religious fanatics who hate everyone.

So it goes against the dominant narrative somewhat that Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted a Christmas message and wished ‘peace and joy to all in 2019’, on Christmas Eve.

It also goes against the narrative, that Zarif, back in September, wished Jews, in Iran and across the world, “a very Happy New Year filled with peace and harmony.”

We’re told repeatedly that the Iranian ‘regime’ is ‘anti-Semitic’, but do ‘anti-Semites’ wish Jews a happy ‘Rosh Hashanah’? If so, it’s a rather strange definition.

The Iranian Foreign Minister also tweeted on December 26 a message of goodwill to Iran’s Zoroastrian community.

Contrast this consideration to people of different faiths from Tehran, with the lack of congratulations on other religious holidays from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. A week before Iran’s Foreign Minister was tweeting positively about Jesus, the KSA’s Customs Authority was also on the social media platform, confirming that Christmas trees were banned from entering the Kingdom for the festive season.

In fact, despite the large number of Christians from other countries who work in the country, including many Britons, the holding of any Christmas-related services or commemorations in Saudi Arabia is strictly banned. “The Christmas season – often a season where Christians around the world are most visible – is a tense time for Christians in Saudi Arabia, who have to celebrate the holiday in secret, risking arrest and deportation,” said Jeff King, President of the International Christian Concern, in 2016.

Imagine being a Christian and not being able to openly celebrate the birth of Christ. It happens in Saudi Arabia, yet Western leaders, so keen to lecture others about ‘human rights’ and ‘religious freedom’ stay silent, preferring to pick on Iran – where Christmas can be openly celebrated.

Syria is another country ‘monstered’ by the endless war lobby but where, against all the odds, the Christmas spirit is still maintained. Big seasonal celebrations were held this year in Aleppo and Damascus. Remember Aleppo?

It was recaptured by the Syrian Arab Army from Islamist ‘rebels’ two years ago this month, and the neocon/’liberal interventionist’ commentariat, and most of the political class portrayed it as a most terrible thing. Ian Austin MP said that people in Aleppo faced ‘slaughter’.

John Woodcock MP called the Morning Star newspaper ‘traitorous scum’ for referring to the recapture of Aleppo by Syrian forces of their own territory, as a ‘liberation’. But if you look at the pictures of Christians celebrating Christmas there once again, which they were forbidden to do under the western-backed head-chopping ’rebels’ you can see that the ‘L’ word was indeed appropriate.

This year in Damascus though, the festive celebrations were defiled by another act of aggression against Syria from a Western-supported-country, one which incidentally Ian Austin and John Woodcock have been Parliamentary ‘Friends’ of.

On the evening of December 25, loud explosions could be heard seven miles from the center of Damascus. Russia’s Defense Ministry said that Israel’s Christmas Day F-16 strikes endangered two civilian flights – as well as injuring three personnel at the logistics compound.

Whatever your stance is on Middle Eastern affairs – and leaving aside the illegality of the operation whenever it took place – the question is: did Israel really have to bomb Syria on Christmas Day?

Would Israel’s ’security’ have been lessened if the raid had taken place on December 28 and not the 25th? Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did tweet Christmas greetings out to ‘Christian friends’ in Israel and around the world on December 24, but why did his forces attack a country where Christians were celebrating one day later?

Just imagine the enormous outcry if Russia had carried out air strikes on Ukrainian targets on the evening of 25th December. In fact, the US magazine Newsweek, doing its best to ratchet up East-West tensions still further, predicted such an event only last week. They published an article on Christmas Eve which began with the words “As people in Western Europe and the United States get comfortable for the holidays, the chances increase that Russia will take advantage of the distraction to launch attacks against its neighbor Ukraine, experts said.”

And who are these ’experts’, I hear you ask. Well, guess what, they were all from the Atlantic Council.

The ‘experts’, surprise surprise, were wrong. The ‘monster’ Russia did not launch attacks on Ukraine over Christmas. But Israel did attack Syria – and there was silence from those who would have screeched very loudly (and be calling for RT to be taken off the air immediately) if the Kremlin had ordered such a sacrilegious act.

Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) were also busy bombing on Christmas Day. The genocidal group carried out suicide bomb attacks on Libya’s Foreign Ministry in Tripoli on Tuesday morning, killing three and leaving over half-a-dozen injured.

One doesn’t expect IS to respect Christmas, but you would expect Western leaders – of predominantly Christian nations to regard the group as public enemy number one. Yet in Syria, the US and its allies welcomed the group’s growth precisely because it threatened the secular, Christian-protecting government of Bashar al-Assad. A declassified US intelligence report from August 2012 predicted the establishment of a “Salafist principality in Eastern Syria” and said that this is “exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime.”

Furthermore, in a leaked tape recording the former Secretary of State John Kerry admitted that the US allowed IS to expand its territory to threaten Damascus.

At the same time, those fighting IS, and other al-Qaeda-linked death squads in Syria, namely the Syrian Arab Army, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, have been ‘monstered’ by the West and its regional allies’ propaganda machines.

Reflect on this: It wasn’t Syrian, Russia, Iranian or Hezbollah forces or followers who slaughtered British and other Western holiday-makers on the beach in Tunisia in 2015 – but an IS terrorist who is thought to have trained at a jihadist camp in neighboring Libya and whose government had been forcibly toppled by NATO powers four years earlier. Similarly, it wasn’t Syrian, Russian, Iranian or Hezbollah forces or followers who carried out murderous attacks against civilians in Paris, Nice, Brussels, and London, or at Christmas markets in Berlin and Strasbourg.

Respecting Christmas and what it stands for is an important litmus test, as it tells us a lot about the actors involved, especially if they are not themselves Christians.

The ‘monstering’ of those who do show the proper ‘Yuletide spirit’, and the turning of a blind eye to those that don’t, highlights the spectacular hypocrisy of those in power in the West who profess to support ‘Christian values’ but in fact do everything possible to subvert them.

If anyone needs an Ebenezer Scrooge-style epiphany this Christmas, it’s the ‘monster-slayers’ themselves.

Read more:

Christmas in Aleppo: Syrians celebrate as city recovers from years-long bloodshed (VIDEOS)

December 29, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Atlantic Council Podium Used to Force European Allies to March in Step

By Alex GORKA | Strategic Culture Foundation | 21.10.2018

Wess Mitchell, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, the administration’s top diplomat focused on Europe and Eurasia, has warned that Europe’s energy dependence on Russia is unacceptable for the United States. That official was addressing the Atlantic Council’s “Championing the Frontlines of Freedom, Erasing the Grey Zone” event on October 18. According to him, the competition between the great powers has returned to become “the defining geopolitical fact of our time.” Through their lack of vigilance, European and American officials have allowed the growing Russian and Chinese influence in that region to “sneak up on us.” “Western Europeans cannot continue to deepen energy dependence on the same Russia that America defends it against. Or enrich themselves from the same Iran that is building ballistic missiles that threaten Europe,” the assistant secretary emphasized. Adding, “It is not acceptable for US allies in central Europe to support projects like Turkstream 2 and maintain cozy energy deals that make the region more vulnerable to the very Russia that these states joined NATO to protect themselves against.”

Something else that was highly interesting was his mention of Belarus along with Ukraine and Georgia as allies. The assistant secretary believes that [t]he new principle is respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the allies: Ukraine, Georgia and even Belarus. Washington expects states to respect the rights of their neighbors.” This makes one wonder if the Belarusian government knows it has been granted a new status. The official also mentioned Iran, which should not be allowed to sell oil to Europe because it has refused to abandon its ballistic missile program. Washington calls “on our allies to follow our lead and strengthen their laws to better screen foreign investments in their countries for national security threats.”

So, the US laws are flawless, its allies are not viewed as equal partners because they must follow America’s lead, or, in other words, do what they are told, and it’s up to Washington, not the national governments and parliaments, to decide what investments they need and where that money should come from. The leaders of the Central and Eastern European states should find it awkward, being rebuked for having overlooked “the foundational importance of the nation-state and national sovereignty,” while allowing unfriendly China and Russia to move in. “Our allies in Central Europe must not be under any illusions that these powers are their friends,” Mr. Mitchell explained. Obviously, he is quite sure that the governments of these nations are unable to grasp who is their friend and who is not. They are as naïve as small children. It’s good that the US is right here ready to enlighten them.

This highly-placed diplomat went on to explain that the United States should be seen as the protector of sovereignty, as it “rejects Russia’s territorial aggression against its neighbor Ukraine and [rejects] China’s predatory ‘debt-mongering’ throughout Central and Eastern Europe.” 

Unlike its rivals, America does not seek dependencies, but rather independent states that should be “willing and able to share the burden of Western defense.” So, here is what independence à l’américaine is like, with its friends and allies absolutely free to comply with their protector’s instructions offering specific guidance about exactly how much they have to pay for defense, what investments to bring in, who to be friendly with, and how they should properly view the situation in their own region. Whatever happens in Central and Eastern Europe, everything has to revolve around the US.

“The United States has long had a tradition of not interfering in the details of European integration,” Mr. Mitchell assured us. Of course, telling the UK PM to sue the EU and thus expedite Brexit can certainly not be seen as interfering in European integration. Suggesting to French President Macron that he take France out of the EU is another example of noninterference. The Assistant Secretary expressed confidence that the allies could “beat back its competitors in Europe” with a little help from their American friends.

Also addressing the Atlantic Council’s October 18 conference, US Special Representative for Ukraine, Kurt Volker, revealed that Washington plans to stiffen the sanctions regime against Moscow “every month or two” to make it more amenable over Ukraine. The new policy suggests increasing the sanctions periodically, over time. Those remarks came after Russian President Vladimir Putin told the Valdai Club in Sochi that he hoped that a government more friendly toward Russia emerges from the Ukrainian presidential election that will be held on March 31.

Mr. Volker defied logic. On the one hand, he cited his “estimation… that the chances of their changing position now are lower then they were even a year ago.” Nevertheless, the best strategy for the West is to maintain pressure on Moscow through those economic sanctions —i.e., sticking to the very same measures that have proven to be useless, given that the “chances of their changing position now are lower.” So, the US and its allies should continue to implement a policy doomed to failure! But the ambassador states, “I think we need to keep on track. I believe that sanctions do have an impact and we see evidence of that in Russia.” What an bizarre way to convince his listeners!

“This is a shockingly big and important humanitarian catastrophe that no one talks about. We have over 10,000 people killed,” exclaimed this official who represents a nation that has just sent Ukraine, a country notorious for the corruption in its military ranks, a shipment of lethal arms so that it can kill more of its own citizens or let the weapons systems fall into the wrong hands and be used to kill other people outside of Ukraine. The “wrong hands” could use those weapons against the US military. With this kind of people you never know.

There is no penetrating insight, no reading between the lines, no wasting time on anything like analysis, and no attempts to find the logic in anything that’s said — nothing like that is required. It’s easy to understand highly-placed US State Department officials. You guys do what you are told, or else. And, just in case, don’t forget that your best friend and closest ally overseas carries a big stick to force you to march in step. These speeches are delivered from time to time to ensure that their “dear allies” remember that. The Atlantic Council’s podium fits the bill.

October 21, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Trump accused of anti-Semitism over claim Soros funds ‘elevator screamers’

RT | October 5, 2018

Critics of US President Donald Trump were quick to accuse him of anti-Semitism over a tweet claiming that women accosting senators over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh were paid by liberal billionaire George Soros.

“The very rude elevator screamers are paid professionals only looking to make Senators look bad. Don’t fall for it!” Trump tweeted on Friday. “Also, look at all of the professionally made identical signs. Paid for by Soros and others. These are not signs made in the basement from love!”

Outrage ensued, obviously. ThinkProgress, the media arm of John Podesta’s Center for American Progress think tank, immediately accused the president of anti-Semitism. A Slate editor chimed in, calling Trump’s words an “anti-Semitic dog whistle.” And a staff writer for The Atlantic called it a “conspiracy theory that a rich Jewish boogeyman is making women claim to have been raped and assaulted.”

Columnists for the New York Times and the Washington Post were quick to follow, denouncing what they said was an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory and adding a splash of guilt by association.

This would come as news to Israel, however. In July 2017, ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Hungary, the Israeli ambassador in Budapest condemned anti-Semitism in relation to a campaign poster depicting Soros negatively. The Israeli Foreign Ministry quickly reacted to clarify the statement, explaining that criticism of Soros was legitimate, because the Hungarian-born billionaire “continuously undermines Israel’s democratically elected governments” and funds organizations “that defame the Jewish state and seek to deny it the right to defend itself.”

Speaking of conspiracy theories, though, an Atlantic Council hunter for Russian witches was quick to accuse “the Russians” – specifically, RT – of being behind the whole Soros story.

RT’s sin, you see, was to cite reporting by US journalists who listened in on conference calls in which groups were coordinating protests against Kavanaugh and handing cash to those arrested, and quote public records showing that Soros’s Open Society Foundation gave generously to these groups.

A common thread in all these reports is the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD), which organized some of the protests against Trump’s Supreme Court nominee from day one. It was CPD activists and executives that led the ambush of Senator Jeff Flake in a Capitol Hill elevator, as well as several of his colleagues at the Washington National Airport.

Public records show that Soros’s Open Society Foundation is one of the major donors to CPD, giving $130,000 in 2014 and $1,164,500 in 2015. Soros gave an additional $1.5 million to the group in 2016 and 2017.

October 5, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 7 Comments

Facebook Turns Into Manipulative Tool of US Intelligence – Moscow

Sputnik – 20.09.2018

ST PETERSBURG – Facebook is transforming into a manipulative tool of the US intelligence services and a lever to influence the domestic policy of other states, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.

“Facebook continues to follow the path of stricter censorship… [Facebook], which was presented and has established itself as a means of free communication and exchange of various kinds of content, is now being transformed into an instrument of US intelligence agencies to cleanse the information space of materials that are unwanted by Washington,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a briefing on Thursday.

As an example, she named the agreement between Facebook and the Atlantic Council stated to be aimed to help monitor attempts to spread “disinformation” in elections around the world.

She further called the process “a manipulation and a deception” stressing that “the fighters for free democratic elections and the purity of the information space themselves are engaged in interference in affairs of other states and in the dissemination of false information.”

In addition, she said that under the pretext of fighting fake news, Facebook planned to check the personal data of users, as well as audio and video materials.

After the 2016 US presidential election, Facebook said it would take a number of steps to improve transparency, including stricter rules for ad placement, fact-checking photos, videos and links, as well as adding technology to get rid of fake accounts and improve security.

The United States has accused Moscow of meddling in its 2016 presidential election, with Russian authorities denying the accusations as groundless.

September 20, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment