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Beijing slaps tariffs on Australian barley; it has had enough of Canberra’s toadying to US on China hostility

By Finian Cunningham | RT | May 20, 2020

The US has counted on Australia’s government and PM as minions in its long-running conflict with China. Now, for Canberra’s dubious services, Australian farmers are reaping a bitter harvest from lost access to China’s vast market.

Beijing announced this week it was slapping 80-percent tariffs on Australian exports of barley. That effectively shuts off China as a market. This followed a ban by Beijing on supplies of Australian beef.

Given that China is the biggest market for Australian agricultural goods, the move is a severe blow, with fears of more curbs on a range of other products, from wine to wool, as well as on the wider sectors of coal and iron ore.

Beijing claims the trade measures are a result of technical issues concerning alleged misuse of subsidies by the Australian government to make its exports more competitive. But that’s doubtless a political cover to mitigate litigation at the World Trade Organization. Realistically, it seems more likely that China has decided to teach Canberra some manners through economic pain.

Despite its reliance on China’s economy, Scott Morrison’s government has shown a spectacular recklessness in enthusiastically adopting the Trump administration’s hostile policy towards Beijing.

At the World Health Assembly conference this week, Australia sided with the US in calling for an inquiry into the Covid-19 pandemic, with the presumption of China’s guilt over a ‘cover-up’. As it turned out, most nations rejected the US-Australian approach and instead backed an international review of the pandemic carried out by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Australia further incensed Beijing by backing US calls for Taiwan to be admitted to the WHO as an observer, which would undermine China’s unitary claims to the territory.

This was but the most recent expression of Canberra’s kowtowing to Washington’s antagonistic agenda towards China.

The Morrison government has been an ardent cheerleader for the Trump administration in its long-running trade dispute with Beijing. In 2018, Australia banned Chinese tech giants Huawei and ZTE from its 5G mobile phone network, reciting Washington’s claims of national security concerns and China’s “malign” interference in internal affairs.

Australia has also backed the US in its stand-off with China over territorial disputes in the South China Sea, echoing Washington’s claims of Beijing’s expansionism and aggression. Last month, Australia sent one of its warships to join US Navy guided-missile destroyers on maneuvers in the contested sea; maneuvers which China views as provocations to its national security.

From Beijing’s viewpoint, Canberra wants to have its cake and to eat it. It relies on China as the top market for its export-led economy, yet at almost every turn has not hesitated to insult Chinese sensibilities by doing Washington’s bidding.

It’s as if the Morrison government seems to resent the fact of Australia’s dependence on China’s economy, while harboring pretensions of superiority by acting wantonly with no regard for Chinese diplomatic respect.

The impression given is that Canberra felt entitled to keep on insulting China with no repercussions.

Now Australian farmers have just lost their most lucrative market, thanks to the Morrison government’s insistence on aggravating Beijing on Washington’s behalf. The impact on the Australian economy could give new meaning to the term ‘Down Under’.

Meanwhile, China can easily find new suppliers of cereal and meat from Russia, Canada, Brazil or the US.

Now there’s a bitter irony, if China were to source farm exports from the US to compensate for the shortfall in Australian supplies. A cruel twist indeed for Aussie farmers, who will foot the bill for Canberra’s toadying to the Trump administration.

Finian Cunningham is an award-winning journalist. For over 25 years, he worked as a sub-editor and writer for The Mirror, Irish Times, Irish Independent and Britain’s Independent, among others.

May 21, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , , | 2 Comments

The American Genie – Engineering a Catastrophe

By David Macilwain | American Herald Tribune | May 15, 2020

The first signs that something terrible had gone wrong with the security at the Fort Detrick bio-defence facility fifty miles north-west of Washington DC were when cases of a previously unknown and serious respiratory illness appeared at a retirement village on the western outskirts of the capital in July 2019. The first cases were noted on June 30th amongst the 260 residents of the Greenspring Assisted Living unit, with the infectious disease later affecting 19 staff and taking the lives of some older residents.

“The notice that went out on July 10 from Donna L. Epps, an administrator at Greenspring, said several residents had been having symptoms of respiratory illness, including fever, coughing and body aches. Epps’s notice, which says the symptoms recede in about five to seven days with treatment but have caused pneumonia, also announced limits on visitors, enhanced sanitation measures and other steps.”

The story was rapidly picked up, and statements issued to ease concerns:

“– the two patients who died in the outbreak had been hospitalized with pneumonia but were “older individuals with complex medical problems.”

“One of the things about skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities is that when you have a lot of people in close proximity, who have underlying medical conditions, there is an increased risk for outbreaks,” he said. “Seeing a respiratory outbreak in a long-term care facility is not odd. … One thing that’s different about this outbreak is just that it’s occurring in the summer when, usually, we don’t have a lot of respiratory disease.”

The Centre for Disease Control was alerted on July 8th and took samples but “was unable to identify the organism responsible”. As if. Perhaps it was just a sensible precaution to close down the Fort Detrick research facility two weeks later, where infection control mechanisms had previously been suspect.

“The statement said the Center for Disease Control and Prevention decided to issue a “cease and desist order” last month to halt the research at Fort Detrick because the center did not have “sufficient systems in place to decontaminate wastewater” from its highest-security labs.”

While the organisms Fort Detrick conducted research on and with included such lethal ones as Ebola, concerns had been raised back in 2015 about their research on genetically engineered and mutant viruses that posed an unacceptable risk to humans should they escape. This research, known as “gain of function” or GOF had been banned in 2014 by the Obama administration, but some programs appear to have continued, and in November 2015 caused scientists to issue a warning. While this warning has been widely publicised, as well as used to support the theory that SARS-CoV-2 came from a lab and not from nature, the GOF research it referred to, published a little earlier in Nature medicine has had little attention.

This research was a collaborative project between the scientists at the University of Carolina and a team led by “Bat Woman” Shi Zhengli at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. While the research is complex and the motives obscure, there is little doubt that the researchers successfully engineered a “chimaera” which combined a lethal coronavirus from a bat with one capable of easily infecting human cells, and proved its “gain of function” both in vitro and in vivo.

Shi Zhengli. Credit: Weibo

Further information has now come to light on evidence that SARS-CoV-2 was genetically engineered following a detailed scientific study into the genome of the virus. Ironically perhaps, the focus of the anonymous analyst seems to have been to incriminate the Chinese government “communist party” and its research lab in Wuhan. As explained by “GM Watch”, despite this political angle and the suspect anonymity of the unpublished research, the science it presents is very persuasive. Significantly however, they question the analyst’s view that the synthetic virus was designed as a bioweapon, “though it may have been”. They conclude:

“In our view, the evidence presented above shows that there is an urgent need for a credible and independent international investigation into the origins of SARS-CoV-2 and the roles played by Shi Zhengli, the Chinese government, and the US bodies that helped fund the virus research at the WIV, including the National Institutes of Health and the EcoHealth Alliance.”

It may be a surprise for some to learn of US involvement in research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, but it should be a shock to learn how this collaboration came about and who was involved. As recently revealed in the mainstream publication Newsweek, America’s high-profile scientific expert Dr Anthony Fauci strongly supported GOF research, and following the ban in the US was involved in funding a similar project in Wuhan. That five-year project ended in 2019 and was extended:

“A second phase of the project, beginning that year, included additional surveillance work but also gain-of-function research for the purpose of understanding how bat coronaviruses could mutate to attack humans. The project was run by EcoHealth Alliance, a non-profit research group, under the direction of President Peter Daszak, an expert on disease ecology. NIH canceled the project just this past Friday, April 24th, Politico reported. Daszak did not immediately respond to Newsweek requests for comment.”

Newsweek notes that Dr. Fauci also did not respond to their requests, and other media didn’t pick up the story. But:

“according to Richard Ebright, an infectious disease expert at Rutgers University, the project description refers to experiments that would enhance the ability of bat coronavirus to infect human cells and laboratory animals using techniques of genetic engineering. In the wake of the pandemic, that is a noteworthy detail.

Ebright, along with many other scientists, has been a vocal opponent of gain-of-function research because of the risk it presents of creating a pandemic through accidental release from a lab.”

As well as supporting GOF research, for reasons described by Newsweek, Dr. Fauci was renowned for his work on HIV, and more recently on bird flu viruses. He also was involved in the development of Remdesevir, which he has recently promoted as a treatment for COVID-19 cases despite little evidence for its efficacy, in contrast to the widely used Hydroxychloroquine favored by the US President – and many others around the world.

But the treatment or consequences of the release of this novel Coronavirus are not my concern at this crucial junction point – or rather disjunction point – in history.

Having concluded some time ago that the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was most probably the bio-insecure facility at Fort Detrick, the one question that remained unanswered was how and why it appeared in Wuhan, and what happened in the months before it was first identified there.

A number of impossibly unlikely coincidences led to that conclusion, in particular the first detected appearance of the virus was in the hotel where US soldiers stayed during the World Military Games, held between October 18th and 27th 2019 in Wuhan. Coincidentally and indicatively also, a “novel Coronavirus” pandemic simulation exercise was held in New York on the very day the games began, sponsored by and involving some key actors in the health and pharmaceutical industry, as well as significant international experts.

The apparent suppression of reporting on “Event 201” in the mainstream media has led observers to interpret this pandemic rehearsal in the way that other coincidental exercises have been – as further evidence of “conspiracy”. The involvement of CEPI director Jane Halton in Event 201 is the most indicative of these coincidences, given the role Australia is playing in pushing for an “inquiry” targeting China, and Halton’s role in the National Coronavirus Coordination committee.

It is instructive to read the recommendations issued following the Event 201 exercise, particularly on the development of public-private partnerships and on the control of false information in the media, as this is reflected in the control of the “COVID-19 Pandemic” narrative here in Australia.

Although there is a divergence of opinion on how to treat the escalating conflict with China, particularly following the Chinese Government’s actions on food imports from Australia, no-one in the Government, Opposition, think tanks or media is saying that China is not to blame for the pandemic, in some way or another. Influential commentators, as well as union leaders, are portraying the dispute as a choice between taking China’s money or protecting our sovereignty, a position that is both idiotic and mistaken, ignoring the reality of our dependence on Chinese exports and imports.

Australians may not be able to see it, but for the Chinese foreign ministry it is crystal clear – that Australia’s proposals and actions are in no-ones interest, except America’s.

Until now the situation appeared paradoxical. Concluding that the US had intentionally introduced the novel Coronavirus into Wuhan made little sense, given the inevitable blowback. Four months on it is the US which has suffered worst from the Coronavirus Pandemic, while China is restarting its temporarily disabled economy after successfully suppressing the epidemic in Wuhan. Barring some of the wilder conspiracy theories that might see a benefit for some elites and vested interests in health and security in the chaos induced by the lock-downs, the question of “cui bono” remained unanswered, until now.

Some of the US soldiers in the team sent to Wuhan for the games reportedly fell ill and even went to hospital, but it now appears that athletes in teams from other countries were infected by contact with them. Two French athletes recently reported having suffered a strange respiratory illness after returning home from Wuhan, which they now realize was very probably CV19. Apparently similar cases have been reported in athletes from other teams who participated in the Wuhan games, with Luxemburg and Sweden cited in this report. A more recent but still early appearance of a distinct strain of the virus in France suggests an origin in those early cases from Wuhan. The distinct and early outbreaks in Italy and Iran may well have also originated similarly from returning athletes.

So now the possibility arises that far from the Wuhan Military Games being the point where the novel Coronavirus was introduced into China, they were the point from which the infection fanned out across the world, potentially to all the countries participating in the Games. Except for one.

As with Italy and France, there were early reports of an unusually severe pneumonia occurring in the US in December and November, but with cases mistaken for influenza at that time of year, except by the CDC, which recognized the infection as “COVID 19” but kept quiet about it until questioned in senate hearings. Unsurprisingly, China picked up on this admission from the CDC, asking the question to which we now have the answer – “where was your patient zero?”.

Perhaps they may also be considering a new “conspiracy theory” following the revelation of the July outbreak at Greensprings retirement village. This would be my suggestion:

To say that the escape of the Coronavirus Genie from Fort Detrick was a monumental disaster looming for the US health system and for the economy is a gross understatement. As we can see from the way the world has been turned upside down by the chaotic response to the pandemic, being held responsible for this long predicted catastrophe could bring the world down on you. So rather than admit to the viral Genie’s escape and the total failure of the Centre for Disease Control to control this unknown and deadly disease, they had to come up with a plan.

Because of the collaboration with Wuhan on GOF research and the presence of similar or identical viruses at the WIV, a scheme might be devised to plant the infection in the centre of the city and lay the blame for the subsequent predicted pandemic on China. When the virus later reached the US, its already established presence there would be effectively concealed, at least from the public. Concealing such things from epidemiologists and virologists is clearly harder, and it has been noted that while cases in Washington State are closely related to the Wuhan strain, those in New York are not. (It has also been reported that Italy has requested the exhumation of bodies in the US following suspicions on the origins of the Italian outbreak; the US has so far refused.)

I propose that the scheme devised in desperation last summer for this “diversionary tactic”, was to send the Fort Detrick Virus with the soldiers set to compete at the Wuhan games in three months’ time, while trying to keep a lid on the domestic epidemic until the new year, and a lock on the inquisitive media. Rehearsing for the subsequent global pandemic called for “Event 201” to prepare participants for what they might have to face, and bring their organizational and media responses into line. Shi Zhengli’s presence in Wuhan also looks to be an important part of this US operation, with stories about her work with Horseshoe Bats, and her recent insistence on the natural origins of the Virus playing a vital role in the cyber-warfare side of the operation. Given Zhengli’s role in the controversial genetic engineering research project in 2015, those stories are clearly vital disinformation.

Whether this theory is the correct one may not yet be proven, but it does provide an explanation to the conundrum of the genie that was accidentally released from the bottle but intentionally released from Wuhan. And we must all now suffer the consequences of that US “culpable manslaughter” as we learn to live with their engineered Genie. Just don’t take it out on China.

May 15, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 4 Comments

France’s Earlier Detection of COVID-19 Raises Questions on Global Origin

By Finian Cunningham | Strategic Culture Foundation | May 12, 2020

The emergence of Covid-19 was first reported by the authorities in China on December 31, as acknowledged by the World Health Organization. But that emergence does not necessarily mean the pandemic originated in China.

By January 30, 2020, a WHO situation report cited nearly 8,000 cases of the respiratory disease globally in 18 different countries. The vast majority of the infections at that stage were in China. It has since exploded to four million cases in virtually all 194 nations with the United States hosting by far the majority of infections and deaths (80,000 fatalities as of this week).

The early pattern of the disease spreading may suggest that China and its central city of Wuhan was the origin of the pandemic. It is widely speculated that the novel coronavirus residing in bats or some other mammal infected humans.

However, the report this week that a hospital in France detected Covid-19 in a patient as early as December 27, 2019, raises questions about the global origin. The French man, who went on to recover from the disease, was previously thought to have been suffering from pneumonia. The Paris hospital retested biomedical samples of patients and found that the man had in fact contracted Covid-19.

Curiously, the French patient had not travelled from abroad before he became ill at the end of last year. So, how does this finding square with claims that the disease originated in China? It has been speculated that the man’s wife who worked near Charles De Gaulle international airport may have been exposed. But she did not show symptoms of the disease. Her link as an “asymptomatic” disease carrier and her presumed contact with air travelers from China is therefore tenuous speculation.

French doctors are not certain if the case of the cited man represents that country’s “patient zero”, that is, the first case of Covid-19 in France. But the detection of the disease in France on December 27 is a full month before it was officially recorded as having arrived in France. In other words, the suspicion now is that Covid-19 may been circulating undetected in France and perhaps other European countries, as well as the United States, at the end of last year. Many of these infections and accompanying deaths may have been misidentified as due to seasonal flu or pneumonia.

It is understandable why the Chinese authorities are “defensive”, as the New York Times snidely headlines, about China being described as “the origin” of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This week China was accused of “censoring” an article penned by the European Union’s ambassador to the country. The article was published in news outlet China Daily but mention of “the outbreak of the coronavirus in China, and its subsequent spread to the rest of the world over the past three months…” was edited out. That led to recriminations in Western media about the EU pandering to Chinese state “censorship”.

Yes, the disease appears to have first emerged in large numbers in China at the end of December. But it is not yet determined how and where the virus originated. That will require further scientific study. Thus, for China to bridle at assertions about being “the origin” is not necessarily sinister censorship, but rather prudence to not prejudge.

What we have seen is an unseemly haste to politicize the pandemic with a view to blame China for infecting the rest of the world.

U.S. President Donald Trump is the most vocal in blaming China. But Australia, Britain and the EU have also antagonized Beijing by demanding an “independent” investigation into the origin of the disease. The inference is that China is at fault. Given the way, Western so-called “independent” investigations are prone to political bias to achieve preconceived conclusions (the Dutch-led MH17 airliner crash, for example), one can hardly object to China’s wariness about such calls.

Why should China submit to Western demands for “investigation” into Covid-19 when these Western demands are all one-way?

Why limit it to China? Surely international investigations would be merited for determining the actual appearance of Covid-19 in Europe or North America. The French case of Covid-19 in December misidentified as pneumonia suggests the disease was present contemporaneously with cases in China’s Wuhan.

Then there is the case of unidentified and deadly respiratory disease outbreaks in Fairfax, Virginia, in July 2019. Why shouldn’t international investigators be allowed into the U.S. to determine the precise nature of those disease outbreaks. Were they early incidents of Covid-19, a new unknown disease which happened to be first identified in China only months later?

The Trump administration has made unsubstantiated allegations that Covid-19 may have been released by a laboratory in Wuhan. No evidence has been provided by Trump or his bullish secretary of state Mike Pompeo. International scientific consensus has dismissed Trump’s allegations as a “conspiracy theory”. The Wuhan Institute of Virology has a solid reputation for safeguards over its study of infectious diseases.

The same cannot be said for the United States’ top biowarfare laboratory in Fort Detrick, Maryland, which was ordered to close last August by the federal Center for Disease Control due to concerns about substandard safety controls and danger of releasing deadly pathogens. Were U.S. army scientists studying novel coronaviruses?

If China’s Wuhan laboratory can be fingered and smeared for no sound reason, then why can’t a Pentagon biowarfare center that had to be shuttered for lack of safety? Chinese officials have already made an accusatory link to American personnel attending the Military World Games in Wuhan in October 2019 as being a possible cause of infection.

The origin of Covid-19 is far from clear. Trump wants to scapegoat China for obvious cynical reasons of distracting from his own disastrous mishandling of the disease. The same scapegoating instinct applies to other Western states where governments have been derelict in protecting the public from tens of thousands of deaths.

Investigations are indeed due. But determining the origin of Covid-19 will not be made by politicized probes that presume China’s fault for the pandemic.

May 13, 2020 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | , , | Leave a comment

A Tale of Two Cruise Ships: The Cuban Difference

By Tim Anderson | American Herald Tribune | April 26, 2020

On 19 March two cruise ships with COVID19 infected passengers and crew were evacuated, one in Havana and the other in Sydney. The first evacuation, of the Braemar, was so successful and uneventful that it barely raised a ripple in the world media. The second, of the Ruby Princess, led to at least 21 deaths, 700 infections and a criminal investigation.

Why was there such a big difference and what can we learn from this contrast?

The evacuation of the British-American cruise ship Ruby Princess, with 2,700 passengers and 1,100 crew, was an unmitigated disaster and with the worst outcomes of all 28 cruise ship epidemics in early 2020. The ship returned early to Sydney after 13 passengers reported respiratory problems. COVID19 tests were taken of the sick passengers but on 19 March the other 2,700 were allowed to leave, apparently without proper health checks. Those people are now known to have spread the virus across Australia. A month later 190 crew had become infected and it was reported that this mismanaged evacuation was responsible for more than 10% of all COVID19 infections in Australia.

Responsibility for the Ruby Princess disembarkation was shared between the ship, the Australian Border Force and the NSW State Department of Health. The NSW police investigation of the incident arises because of “discrepancies” between versions of events given by the cruise line and the state agencies. The police will look for breaches of the law, but may not have much of a role in the oversight of failures in public health management.

Evacuation of the British-owned Braemar, on the other hand, was a successful operation. This ship had 682 passengers and 381 crew. After one disembarked passenger in Canada tested COVID19 positive, five more were detected on board. With this public knowledge, the British ship was refused disembarkation permission in Barbados and The Bahamas, even though both island-nations are members of the British Commonwealth. It was also refused access to Sint Maarten, a small Dutch territory. Finally, Cuba allowed access.

On 16 March Cuban Foreign Affairs announced that it would:

“allow the docking of this vessel [Braemar] and will adopt established sanitary measures to receive all citizens on board, in accordance with protocols established by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Cuban Ministry of Public Health”

That meant thorough testing, sanitary protection measures and contact tracing. At this stage there had only been a handful of COVID19 infections in Cuba, including the death of one Italian tourist. Just a few days earlier Cuba had developed a national strategy to deal with the virus, in coordination with the regional branch of the WHO, the Pan American Health Organisation.

This evacuation of around 700 people involved 43 Cuban doctors, port officials and bus drivers. Passengers were given medical check-ups, protective equipment and then taken to Jose Martí Airport to board four aircraft for the United Kingdom. Cuban authorities said any persons too sick to travel could remain under care in Havana. A British paper said a group of about 80 were sent to a British Ministry of Defence isolation hospital at Boscombe Down in Wiltshire. That group comprised two passengers and four crew plus 28 passengers and 27 crew who had already been quarantined, along with isolated passengers’ partners. There have been no reports of any deaths from the Braemar.

After that evacuation the 43 Cuba workers involved in the operation were placed in an isolation hospital near Matanzas for two weeks. On 2 April, as they returned to their families, the 43 were met with a warm welcome at La Cujae University, 30 kilometres east of Havana, “to avoid large crowds of people” and thus any further infection risk. All tested negative to COVID19 infection and none showed any fever or other symptoms during those 14 days.

Peter Deer, on behalf of the Braemar owners, expressed his “most sincere thanks to the Cuban authorities, the port of Mariel and the Cuban people for their support”. British Ambassador Anthony Stokes was effusive, expressing his “immense gratitude and that of my country” for the Cuban operation. Ambassador Stokes addressed “the 43” in impeccable Spanish, saying:

“I highly appreciate the courage and humanism of those who decided to be in the front line, knowing that this would be a complex and delicate operation, and that later they would have to be two weeks in isolation, separated from their families and dear ones. I am profoundly happy to know that, today, they have returned to their home, safe and sound … During Operation Braemar I was witness to the numerous qualities of the Cuban people, their humanitarian principles, friendliness and industriousness, facets of the Cuban character which I have come to know and love.”

So what are the lessons from the Havana operation, and what made it so different from the Sydney fiasco?

Dr. Francisco Durán García, National Director of Epidemiology in Cuba’s Ministry of Health, said that the final safety of the health workers “demonstrated the effectiveness of the strict measures taken during the operation, amongst others the isolation of the exposed personnel”, which included bus drivers and port workers as well as health professionals. Cuban journalist Jose Díaz Pollán added that “each one of these people had effective protective equipment”.

There are good and well equipped health workers in Sydney, too. However it seems evident that the effective coordination employed in Havana was lacking in Sydney. Cubans often speak of “inter sectoral coordination”, which means strong links between education, health, transport, police and other authorities, in priority matters. This is often decried in western countries as the ‘authoritarian’ nature of socialist systems. But inter-sectoral coordination works well in public health, and that was clearly lacking in Sydney.

References:

[1] Anderson, Tim (2020) ‘Public Health, COVID-19 and Recovery’, American Herald Tribune, 10 April, online.

[2] Anderson, Tim (2020) ‘How Has Cuba Faced the COVID-19 Epidemic?’, American Herald Tribune, 14 April, online.

[3] Bellew, Lesley (2020) ‘’Quarantines and cancelled tours – but at least we get free drinks’: A diary on board a cruise hit by coronavirus’, The Telegraph, 19 March, online.

[4] Cockburn, Paige (2020) ‘How the coronavirus pandemic would look in Australia if Ruby Princess had never docked’, ABC, 23 April, online.

[5] Cubadebate (2020) ‘De alta médica los 43 cubanos que apoyaron la operación del crucero MS Braemar’, 2 April, online.

[6] Díaz Pollán, Jose Guillermo (2020) ‘Sanos y en sus casas trabajadores de Transtur, GEMAR y la aduana vinculados al crucero Braemar’, Cubadebate, 2 April, online.

[7] Granma (2020) ‘De alta médica los 43 cubanos que apoyaron la operación del crucero MS Braemar’, 2 April, online.

[8] Marsh, Sarah and Nelson Acosta (2020) ‘Passengers of British coronavirus-hit cruise ship evacuate in Cuba’, Reuters, 18 March, online.

[9] MINREX (2020) ‘Cuba will accept and assist travelers on British cruise ship MS Braemar’, Granma, 16 March, online.

[10] Nguyen, Kevin and Sarah Thomas (2020) ‘Ruby Princess coronavirus deaths to be subject of criminal investigation by NSW Police homicide squad’, ABC, 5 April, online.

[11] OnCubaNews (2020) ‘In Cuba, British cruise ship with COVID-19 cases; evacuation of passengers underway’, 19 March, online.

[12] Radio Rebelde (2020) ‘UK thanks Cubans for supporting MS Braemar cruise’, 19 March, online.

[13] Rashad Rolle (2020) ‘Virus Ship Told: You Can’t Land – Cruise Liner With Five Infected Not Allowed To Dock’, The Tribune, 12 March, online.

[14] Ross, Monique and Damien Carrick (2020) ‘The Ruby Princess coronavirus saga could lead to homicide charges. These cases offer insight into a key legal issue’, ABC, 23 April, online.

[15] Stone, Jon (2020) ‘UK thanks Cuba for ‘great gesture of solidarity’ in rescuing passengers from coronavirus cruise ship’, Independent, 7 April, online.

[16] Zhou, Naaman (2020) ‘Ruby Princess crew fear for their health as ship leaves Australia’, The Guardian, 23 April, online.

April 26, 2020 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Israel and World Jewry

By Evan Jones | American Herald Tribune | April 24, 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic hits the world. Undeterred, the Israeli forces of Occupation (including the settlers) escalate the rampage and the outrages. Murders, harassment and arrests, home demolitions, destruction and/or theft of virus aid equipment and food and brutalizing of aid workers, Gaza crop poisoning on a grand scale, West Bank crop destruction, etc. Spitting on Palestinians is now de rigueur. Business as usual. Sadism on a grand scale. Whence the motivation? And the collective psychological reward? The Jewish God is a militant deity.

Israel is a pariah state. It is an apartheid state in its construction, [1] from its inception as an ethnocracy, not one for which the label ‘apartheid’ is merely a dangerous prospect on the horizon with a completely colonized West Bank.

How does Israel survive as such, given that apartheid South Africa has disappeared into history. It survives essentially because of support from the institutionalized structures of establishment world Jewry. Period.

Don’t talk Christian Zionists, as they are a side issue, crazies succoured to dilute the central causal lineage.

The US umbrella is tangibly of enormous importance. But behind the White House compliance is the Zionist lobby, from Truman onward (albeit with occasional wobbles). The Zionist lobby owns Congress; those members they don’t own they simply extrude (starting with William Fulbright in 1974, Paul Findley, Pete McCloskey, Cynthia McKinney, etc.). The massive role of the US in supporting Israel is a product of institutionalized American Jewry – now centred on the peak body AIPAC.[2] The argument that US support of Israel is an instrumental means of projecting US power in the Middle East is diversionary; the posited hierarchy of master and proxy won’t wash. Cui bono?

The Zionist lobby only recently destroyed what was left of the integrity of the British Labour Party, installing a functionary at its head. The British state is Zionist-occupied territory; ditto that of France, Germany (hobbled by the Jewish holocaust), Canada and Australia.

Israel, as a racist state, is engaged in criminality sui generis. It was a guaranteed outcome known from the start. Theodore Herzl noted (1896):

‘An infiltration [of Jewish migrants to Palestine] is bound to end badly. It continues to the inevitable moment when the native population feels itself threatened … Immigration is consequently futile unless based on an assured supremacy’. Violence was implicit in Zionism from the outset.[3]

The native population felt itself threatened immediately, but the Zionist movement found solace and then salvation in the arrival of World War, the Balfour Declaration and subsequently the British Mandate over Palestine. Until the Zionists could muster the firepower to create its ‘promised land’ unilaterally by terrorism. That firepower was acquired from British training en masse, just prior to World War II (to quell the Arab rebellion) and during the War itself.

As David Hirst notes, regarding the massacres and bombings by Jewish forces in response to the MacDonald White Paper of May 1939: [4]

‘The ideological roots of ‘gun Zionism reach back to Theodor Herzl himself. It was inevitable, as he foresaw, that armed force would eventually come into its own as the principal instrument of a movement which, in its earlier and weaker phase, could only rely on the protection of an imperial sponsor. That phase was now drawing to a close.’

Israeli criminality must be sheeted home to the personnel within the institutions of the Israeli state – politicians, the military and intelligence services, the judiciary, etc. They are crimes of individuals, groupings, institutionalized, the personnel being uniformly Jewish.

Isn’t this criminality bad for world Jewry and what it means to be Jewish? Apparently not. Establishment Jewish institutions, with one voice, sign up for Israel’s crimes. More, support of Israel is their raison d’être – all while simultaneously shedding crocodile tears about anti-Semitism. The global Jewish community, whether Jewish individuals like it or not, is implicated in Israeli criminality by the dominant Jewish organizations who claim to speak for national Jewish communities.

The Wikipedia entry of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), clearly sanctioned by its subject, notes: ‘The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, represents the interests of the Australian Jewish community to …’. Here’s a representative conflation of the interests of the state of Israel and of a national Jewish community in its entirety.

John Lyons was Middle East correspondent for The Australian newspaper during 2009-15. His Balcony Over Jerusalem [5] is notable for the attention paid to the lobby. Like all budding Middle East correspondents, Lyons was inevitably the subject of attempted seduction and, failing that, subsequently the subject of escalating attacks for his endeavour to fulfil his role as independent reporter. A senior Israeli military officer observed to Lyons: ‘The Israel lobby in Australia is the most powerful lobby in the world in terms of impact it has within its own country’.

The nation-based lobby works to ensure that its own government (whichever Party is in power) remains complacent, acquiescent, if not blood red in support. It also works tirelessly to control the information flow. Because Israel stinks, disinformation (lies, counter-narratives, fairy stories) and censorship have to be an integral part of the lobby’s activities. Lyons recounts how, in particular, AIJAC’s Colin Rubenstein constantly pressured senior management at The Australian to close down his reporting. (Senior management of the Murdoch-owned paper supported Lyons, in spite of the attempted scuttling by a middle level editor).

The other major Australian media chain, Fairfax (now Nine Entertainment), owner of the major Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra dailies, has faced the same pressure. Ditto the publicly-owned television stations ABC & SBS. Fairfax/Nine has persistently caved in, granting privileged access to the opinion and letters pages to pro-Israel apologists. An ex-Fairfax journalist, friend, confirms that the pressure of the lobby on management was relentless and intolerable.

In early January, in the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age we have Rubenstein glorifying the assassination of Qasem Soleimani as ‘arch-terrorist’, presiding over a claimed multi-tentacled terrorist expansionist reach of Iran in the Middle East, destabilising everything in its wake. Rubenstein even has Iran behind the assassination of Lebanon’s Rafiq Hariri in 2005. Surprisingly, the online comments editor allowed multiple responses from ‘woke’ readers to Rubenstein as an Israel front man, whereas editors scrupulously deny such feedback in the print version of the newspaper. In the same issue of the papers we have an AIPAC flunkey claiming on cue that the essential issue behind US-Iran escalating tension is ‘the pressing need to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons’, bizarrely accusing Iran of undermining the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal.

Rubenstein was in the Herald again in late January, claiming that plenipotentiary Jared Kushner’s ‘Middle East Peace Plan (sic)’, in the formulation of which no Palestinian authorities were invited, is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Thus are Australians fed the regular odious drip, very rarely opposed in print, of the innate necessity and justice of Israel’s criminality.

Rather than the association between Israel and its global Jewish community support being severed as the daily brutality of the Israeli forces of Occupation accumulates, the association has recently been reinforced. The notable vehicle for this reinforcement has been the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and its ‘working definition’ of anti-Semitism. The Definition skirts over ‘Holocaust Remembrance’ but pays majority attention to the treatment of Israel.

Thus we find that rational criticism, driven by conventional humanitarian principles, of Israel’s criminality is labelled anti-Semitic. More, IHRA personnel and Jewish organizations flog this definition, pressuring, pressuring national governments into submission to accept the definition and to act as repressive agents against free-thinking citizens of those countries.

And to those who object? The issue is concisely contained in a recent skirmish in faraway New Zealand. The brief report on stuff.nz deserves quoting at length. It turns out that the Wellington Jewish Council had requested New Zealand’s capital city to adopt the IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism. But the Wellington Progressive Synagogue objected, claiming that the definition ‘had the potential to conflate antisemitism with anti-Zionism (opposition to the state of Israel), as it had already done overseas’. Too kind – not ‘potential’, as the point of the definition is precisely to conflate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.

Said Progressive Synagogue spokespersons: ‘Its new effect is to regulate the speech of people like ourselves: law-abiding non-Zionists who call for the unexceptional application of law and human rights in Israel/Palestine; Jews and non-Jews alike’. Quite.

The NZ Jewish Council responded that ‘the IHRA definition explicitly stated criticism of Israel could not be regarded as antisemitic’. A dishonest retort. The text includes the sentence ‘… criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic’. But this is transparently a ruse to deflect from the substance of the definition’s text for which the sentence is an aberration. And the meaning of ‘similar to that levelled against any other country’? Criticisms of Israel are aimed precisely at structures and practices that set it apart from other countries, including some countries that are utterly on the nose. The IHRA mob mean – we will be the arbiters of what is acceptable criticism. But, in truth, what is ‘acceptable’ criticism is an empty set.

But here’s the clincher. The Jewish Council continues: ‘The writers of the opinion piece were “fringe” and did not have a mandate to speak on behalf of the Jewish community – unlike the Jewish Council’.

‘Fringe’? ‘Mandate’? This is it in a nutshell. If you don’t support Israel 100 per cent, you aren’t a real Jew. And on what basis does the Jewish Council’s presumed ‘mandate’ rest?

Michelle Weinroth, author and member of Independent Jewish Voices Canada, nails the fraud and duplicity behind the IHRA push:

‘If the IHRA definition turns a blind eye to the veritable culprits of heinous racism, it nonetheless targets the anti-racist defenders of Palestinian human rights, many of whom are conscientious Jews. … it masquerades as an innocuous, educational, and preventative measure while acting as a penal code that aggresses the advocates of human rights, silencing them with veiled threats. … At its heart sits a false equation between the state of Israel and Jews more generally.’

A false equation between Israel and Jews ‘more generally’. Here’s another one. Recently brought to light, an earlier tussle took place in September 1991 when Israel demanded a $10 billion loan guarantee, which President George H Bush viewed as a means of undermining the forthcoming Madrid peace conference (Blankfort, fn.2). Bush Sr threatened to deny Israel the loan guarantees if the large contingent of migrants from the Soviet Union were to be directed into West Bank settlements. Philip Weiss reports:

‘The Israel lobby group the American Jewish Committee (AJC) decided to support the Israeli government against the White House in 1991 over illegal Israeli settlements on the West Bank, even though many officials at the organization privately backed the president. The AJC reasoned that a leading Jewish organization in Washington had a “primary responsibility” to stand up for Israel because the country represents the “collective will” of the Jewish people, an AJC official says.’

Israel represents the collective will of the Jewish people? Were ‘the Jewish people’ consulted?

One of the more remarkable attempts to associate Israel with the ‘collective will’ of the Jewish people, via the conflation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, is a statement by one Robert Wistrich to the UN Commission on Human Rights, published on 10 September 2004.[6] Wistrich’s parents’ lives were blighted by anti-Semitism, and his subsequent stellar academic career was devoted to this very subject. Yet this statement is a wretched mishmash, devoid of logic and history, and conveniently oblivious to Israeli criminality. And this during the Prime Ministership of noted humanist Ariel Sharon. Wistrich claims:

‘Much of the mobilizing power of “anti-Zionism” derives from its link to the Palestinian cause. Since the 1960s, the [Palestine Liberation Organization] has worked hard to totally delegitimize Zionism and the policy has largely succeeded: this anti-Zionism involves a total negation of Jewish nationhood and legitimate Jewish sovereignty in Eretz Israel …’

Legitimate sovereignty in Eretz Israel? Sure. Wistrich’s tribalism has overridden his rigorous academic training. Curious, there are no Jewish dissenters in his grab bag of mad dog anti-Semites in a pragmatic coalition all aimed at the destruction of Israel.

Wistrich couldn’t really avoid this elephant in the room, so he grabbed the bull by the horns in a 2014 issue of Commentary (preaching to the converted). [7] Well-known Jewish intellectuals who don’t toe the Party line are accused of having been mentally and morally captured by infantile Marxism, etc., and/or anti-Americanism, their left-wing blinkered obsessions then finding its next object of abuse post-Vietnam in Israel. Noam Chomsky, Richard Falk, Howard Zinn (‘Hatred for America, the West, and Israel thrives beneath the cloak of human rights and social justice’), Eric Hobsbawm, Shlomo Sand, Ilan Pappé – all are excoriated for their sins.

In particular, Wistrich couldn’t have ignored Shlomo Sand, whose cannon volleys in The Invention of the Jewish People (2009) and The Invention of the Land of Israel (2012) blasted Wistrich’s self-assured self-righteousness to shreds. Wistrich dismisses Sand (‘his pseudoscientific delegitimization of Israel’) as merely having ‘revived long-discredited theories – such as Arthur Koestler’s deranged notion that Ashkenazi Jews sprang from Khazars who converted in the 10th century C.E.’. Wistrich ignored that Sand, in genuine scholarly fashion, put Koestler’s The Thirteenth Tribe (1976) into context with a considerable literature on the same theme.

The rhetoric of these contemptible lefties, claims Wistrich, ‘divorced from historical truth and geopolitical reality, negates any possibility of reform or redress concerning genuine grievances’. Genuine grievances? A chink in the armour? How could there be grievances against Israel that were genuine (the ‘empty set’ again), and who would decide? Evidently not the Palestinian victims or their Jewish sympathizers.

We have a comparable affair when French elder statesman Robert Badinter addressed UNESCO in December 2016,[8] appropriating Holocaust remembrance to plug Israel as synonymous with Jewry per se. Badinter played the same card as Wistrich:

‘What is certain is that in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, anti-Semitism has once again spread widely under the name of anti-Zionism. We must have the lucidity to recognize that under this label that refers to Zionism, it is indeed the Jews, and Jews everywhere, who are targeted. And I would say that anti-Zionism under the surface is nothing but the contemporary expression of anti-Semitism, namely, hatred of the Jews.’

The ‘not in my name’ communities, declining to join wholeheartedly the cause of Israel über alles, have been written out of the story. Einstein, Freud, Arendt, camp survivors like Hajo Meyer; individual authors, bloggers and/or activists; non-compliant Jewish organizations; Israeli human rights organizations; etc. It’s the Spinoza syndrome – ignored if too famous; otherwise excommunicated because ‘self-hating’ Jews, ‘fringe’ elements, etc.

When Hannah Arendt published Eichmann in Jerusalem,[9] highlighting the bureaucrat over the monster, even her fame didn’t save her from damnation. Daniel Maier-Katkin highlights the ongoing character assassination and its character:[10]

‘[A] campaign against the memory of Hannah Arendt continues, and the ideology that rationalizes and justifies ad hominem attacks and menacing gestures against Jews who dare to criticize Israel persists. As Rabbi [Michael] Lerner and Justice [Richard] Goldstone have learned, a Jew who fears that Israel is on a path that leads to destruction, or who is skeptical of a “divine mission to possess the land,” or concerned about the legality or morality of unrelenting military strategies to secure regional domination, will be attacked as self-hating and anti-Semitic.

‘To hate oneself is ipso facto pathological, and this, it is asserted, leads to irrational hatred of Israel, which is seen as the embodiment of the Jewish people. Thus, defenders of Israeli policies aim to exclude Jewish critics from public discourse by defining them as crazy persons, driven to anti-Semitism by self-loathing. In this way Lerner’s criticism of Israel, or Goldstone’s, or Arendt’s is dismissed as arising from psychological or spiritual disturbance rather than reasoned argument or an ethical posture. Calumny, an old-fashioned blend of slander, distortion, and innuendo, has been a recurring instrument of intimidation in post-Holocaust Jewish politics.’

In sum, Israeli state and settler criminality persist because it is supported uniformly by dominant national Jewish bodies, with de facto support and/or passivity from sections of the Jewish population. This institutionalized structure never fails to claim that it acts for Jewry in its entirety. Dissidents from the demand for unqualified support are cast aside from the tribe.

Is it not then possible, indeed probable, that some cool-headed people will reason that it is appropriate to become an anti-Semite? A stance rooted not in a time-worn shibboleth, but on the seeming support of the vast majority of world Jewry for Israeli criminality and inhumanity? Ersatz anti-Semitism (criticism of Israel), manufactured by the Zionist lobby as cover-up, thus potentially fosters substantive anti-Semitism. The real thing.

The Canadian (Jewish) philosopher Michael Neumann earlier nailed the implications:[11]

‘Inflating the meaning of ‘anti-Semitism’ to include anything politically damaging to Israel is a double-edged sword. … The more things get to count as anti-Semitic, the less awful anti-Semitism is going to sound. …

‘Since we are obliged to oppose the settlements, we are obliged to be anti-Semitic. Through definitional inflation, some form of anti-Semitism becomes morally obligatory. It gets worse if anti-Zionism is labelled anti-Semitic… The more anti-Semitism expands to include opposition to Israeli policies, the better it looks.

‘Given the crimes to be laid at the feet of Zionism, there is another simple syllogism: anti-Zionism is a moral obligation, so, if anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism, anti-Semitism is a moral obligation.’

The ‘not in my name’ communities, in their myriad dimensions and considerable expenditure of energy, have made not a jot of difference to Israel’s project. Why?

Gideon Levy, long-time Haaretz journalist providing a window into Israel’s soul, has honed in on the denial, conscious amongst its leaders, subliminal amongst the bulk of the populace, that accompanies Israel’s ongoing criminality. And behind it? Here is Levy in March 2018 (he said the same in an Australian lecture tour in November 2017):

‘There are three core values of Israeli culture that enforce the totalitarian discourse.

‘The first value: we are the chosen people. Secular and religious will claim it. Even if they don’t admit it they feel it. If we are the chosen people, who are you to tell us what to do. The second very deeply rooted value: we are the victims, not only the biggest victims, but the only victims around…. I don’t recall one occupation in which the occupier present himself as the victim. Not only the victim– the only victim….

‘There is a third very deep rooted value. This is the very deep belief again everyone will deny it but if you scratch under the skin of almost any Israeli you will find it there, the Palestinians are not equal human beings like us. They don’t love their children like us. They don’t love life like us. They were born to kill, they are cruel, they are sadists, they have no values, no manners… This is very, very deep rooted in Israeli society. And maybe that’s the key issue. As long as this continues, nothing will move. We are so much better than them, so much more developed than them, more human than them.’

One of Sydney’s Jewish schools, Moriah College, has as its ‘core values’ (not atypical):

‘We strive to foster critical thought, cultural interests, tolerance, social responsibility and self-discipline. … Moriah not only aspires to achieve excellence in academic standards, but maintains and promotes among its students an awareness of and a feeling for Jewish traditions and ethics, an understanding of and a positive commitment to Orthodox Judaism and identification with and love for Israel.’

Critical thought, tolerance, social responsibility, and identification with and love for Israel? Take your pick. You can’t have both.

Endnotes

[1] vide Uri Davis’ Apartheid Israel, 2004; itisapartheid.org.

[2] Jeffrey Blankfort has meticulously documented the rise of AIPAC from the 1950s to its current status as the key determining force in US Middle East foreign policy. ‘Rendering unto AIPAC’, Counterpunch magazine, January 2014.

[3] David Hirst, The Gun and the Olive Branch, 1977, third edn., p.140.

[4] Hirst, p.221.

[5] John Lyons, Balcony Over Jerusalem: A Middle East Memoir, with Sylvie Le Clezio, 2017.

[6] The Statement is reproduced in the Jewish Political Studies Review, Fall 2004, and made available online.

[7] Wistrich, ‘Judeophobia and Marxism’, Commentary, December 2014.

[8] Robert Badinter, ‘Antisémitisme: tirer les enseignements de l’histoire’, UNESCO, 6 December 2016, reproduced to mark the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, 27 January. The speech in English, ‘Anti-Semitism: Learning the lessons of history’, is reproduced here.

[9] Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, 1963.

[10] Daniel Maier-Katkin, ‘How Hannah Arendt Was Labeled an “Enemy of Israel”’, Tikkun, Nov/Dec 2010.

[11] Michael Neumann, ‘What is Anti-Semitism?’, in Cockburn & St.Clair (eds.), The Politics of Anti-Semitism, 2003.

April 25, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 5 Comments

COVID-19: What the Virus Might Do to the American Empire

By Tony Kevin | Consortium News | April 1, 2020

Canberra, Australia – Under current CV19 lockdowns, there is much quiet time at home in which to reflect on how dramatically the virus is even now changing our familiar New Cold War world, and how such changes will gather force as the weeks of crisis unfold.

Australia is a good place from which to reflect: an excessively obsequious minor member of the U.S.-led anti-Chinese and anti-Russian Western strategic alliance, Australians are also conflicted by our need to earn a living and our obvious economic dependence on our major trading partner and Asia-Pacific strategic neighbor China. Two contradictory imperatives are gnawing at the minds of thinking Australians.

Meanwhile, the 120-year old Australian federal system is under strain: a symptom of world politics also under strain. The federal Prime Minister Scott Morrison, with the task of protecting as much as he can of the shrinking national economy, failed like President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Boris Johnson to take the hard lockdown decisions early enough. It has been a case of too little too late, with the state premiers finally this week seizing the baton from him, locking down and isolating their states to preserve their populations’ lives – with the federal government following belatedly behind.

Only today, a leading Australian mining-industry oligarch, Andrew Forrest, announced that the public interest, charity arm of his company, Fortescue Minerals, had negotiated with the Chinese government to secure ample supplies for his home state Western Australia of desperately sought Chinese-made personal protective equipment (PPE) which will be essential to combat the virus as it expands into WA.

Minutes earlier, WA Premier Mark McGowan had warned the federal Australian government in tough public language to rapidly move the Covid-19 quarantined German cruise ship Artania away from Perth, and away from Western Australian coastal waters. He asserted that his primary duty was to protect West Australians from CV19, and he would not let Perth become known as a safe haven for homeless, stricken cruise ships. The matter remains unresolved.

Changing How We Think

Around the world, borders are closing down to all but essential travel. Online, we still seem to be one world. I can, thank goodness, easily plug in to what people in Beijing and Moscow, as well as in Washington and London, are saying. But globalization is rapidly becoming anachronistic (in its original literal Greek meaning– “in the wrong time”) in terms of mass global flows of people and, increasingly even, of goods and services themselves.

For instance, it is hard to see the (largely American-created) massive cruise ships industry, or mass airborne global holiday tourism, recovering quickly — or even, ever — from CV19. For a long time, people are going to want to stay closer to home and avoid such risky disruptions in their and other people’s lives. The globalization model is broken.

The pandemic’s brutal, erratic course around the world – from China to Korea and Italy, thence to Spain, the U.K. and worst of all to the USA, is rapidly changing the way we will think about the world and about our respective countries’ and elites’ participation in it. CV19 is a disease with our rich elites’ fingerprints all over it: their privileged globetrotting lifestyle, serviced by armies of Third World serf labor, is in an ugly spotlight now.

Old Ideologies Dissolve

One cannot predict what the world will look like after this pandemic runs its course. One certainty: it will be very different from the world before CV19, with the knowledge of other such viruses potentially to come.

Let’s look at the de-coupling of supply lines: a concept first touted by U.S. strategic thinkers before CV19 struck, as part of warfighting Cold War Redux. Western governments wanted to reduce dependence on superstar firms like Huawei, to “de-couple” strategic Western industries from the risk of Chinese sabotage. The plan was to reduce markets for Chinese suppliers of key information technology, despite Chinese mastery of the lowest-cost capitalist production mode.

Now the boot is on the other foot. Goaded by sanctions and other Western interference, China and Russia are well on the road to research, industrial and agricultural self-sufficiency for the Eurasia-centered heartland. Meanwhile the U.S., caught at the end of global supply chains that all seem to start in China, is begging for much-needed ventilators and PPE: in competition with people like Andrew Forrest, who know how to deal with China.

Two groups of people in our Western societies are finding it particularly hard to get their heads around the rapid dissolving of old ideological certainties.

First, the brave and bold radical movements in the West. Used to exposing a constant diet of disinformation from Western Deep State sources, they find it hard to believe that CV19 can be more than another propaganda trick by the Deep State to strengthen its control over society. They refuse to see the real threat CVI9 poses to decent human societies, by the fact of its extreme virulence, delayed visible symptoms, and generation-sensitive lethality. They cling to their familiar worlds of friends and enemies, and lose sight of medical and epidemiological realities. They try to rationalize CV19 away.

More significant here is the Western strategic community, caught now in a similar, increasingly anachronistic world of familiar friends and enemies. Cold War Redux, which by one measure began around 2013 with Western-instigated anti-Russian violent regime change in Ukraine, Russia’s vulnerable underbelly, is now so deeply embedded in Western strategic thinking that even the most thoughtful Western strategists find it hard to see beyond its familiar boundaries of thought and policy.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continues to fulminate thoughtlessly and vindictively, threatening ever-crueler sanctions against Iran and Venezuela. The White Helmets continue to foment false chemical warfare allegations, in the war against the legitimate Syrian government, which their side are losing. NATO continues automaton-like to arm and exercise against the imagined Russian threat.

Coronavirus patients at the Imam Khomeini Hospital in Tehran, Iran. (Fars News Agency, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

A ‘Pitiful, Helpless Giant’

CV19 is collapsing this dangerously illusory world. Let’s look first at military logistics. Spectacular news broke on Tuesday that the captain of the U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, on station near Guam, has requested the immediate evacuation of 90 percent of his crew of 4,000 into individual quarantine after the carrier reported an outbreak of CV19 on board. Over 70 crew members have tested positive for CV19 and in cramped ship conditions the disease is spreading fast. The captain recommends a skeleton crew of 400 be left on board, to safeguard the ship’s weapons and reactors while it is quarantined and sanitized.

More contradictions: The U.S. has been forced to suspend a planned attack on pro-Iranian Shia militia in Iraq, because of spreading CV19 in U.S. bases in Iraq. Planned massive NATO maneuvers this summer on the Russian border have had to be scaled back severely due to CV19 risks. Faced by horrendous mortality facts and projections in New York, Trump is forced to send the U.S. Navy’s largest hospital ship there to bolster local overstretched medical resources. China and Russia – the putative enemies – are flying much-needed medical relief supplies in to the U.S.

The U.S. may be sliding towards becoming the “pitiful, helpless giant” which Richard Nixon warned against in 1970.

The familiar diplomatic fabric of our former world is also under intense pressure now. The UN and the UN Security Council, for long theaters for ritualistic Cold War games, is being energized by the CV19 world crisis. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has denounced the anachronism and cruelty of wars and sanctions by powerful countries in the new CV19 world. He has called for a “ceasefire.” His call was supported by the Pope, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and so far 53 UN member nations. More and more, the U.S. and its NATO allies look like a resentful and recalcitrant rump of ill-wishers. The U.S. blocks a motherhood UN Security Council resolution calling for unified world action against CV19, because China and Russia reject draft resolution language claiming that the virus originated in China.

The Dark Web

Let’s look at that troubling question. In what country did the CV19 virus first break out? In wet wild animal markets in Wuhan, or in germ warfare laboratories? Did it break out accidentally or was it deliberately released? The Dark Web is full of disturbing allegations and counter-allegations. So far, none of the major powers have dignified any such allegations at the level of official government statements. The ships of states sail on, but there is angry gossip just below decks.

Trump, Putin and Xi would undoubtedly know of these ugly stories. It is no coincidence that in recent days the three leaders are again talking cordially. Trump’s Cold War hawks in Washington have been silenced for now. Trump knows he has to maintain civility towards his partner leaders who are now helping his stricken country. He needs them. And they are too professionally gracious to humiliate or reprimand him in America’s hour of need. All three will observe the courtesies, whatever the Dark Web is alleging.

Let me draw this together: the pre-CV19 economic, strategic and diplomatic world is starting to unravel in myriad ways which are not yet clear. In its death throes, the dying Cold War world will take casualties: NATO, conceived as a Euro-American aggressive military alliance against Russia; the war-mongering Pompeo and the U.S. fondness for economic sanctions against its enemies.

What Might We Expect?

In the new diplomatic landscape, which can as yet only be dimly seen, old verities going back to 1945 will be rediscovered. The UN Security Council will again find its proper role as a collective instrument of world solidarity against aggression by any – any – powerful nation that goes rogue. The U.S. will learn again how to practice real diplomacy based on nations’ sovereignty and mutual respect, instead of crude great power bullying. Russia and China will generously put their past hurts behind them, secure in their new strength after Putin’s establishment of an invulnerable, nuclear MAD deterrent and the nightmare experience of CV19.

In this model future – I will admit, an optimistic model, but not grossly so – the world will begin to recover its sanity. We will gradually step back from the precipice of nuclear devastation on which we have teetered for at least the past seven years. We will work together to build less environmentally destructive systems of global trade and travel, armed with the new knowledge that having survived CV19 lockdowns will bring. We will concentrate on rethinking societies, and on rebuilding public order and confidence and respect for all classes in Western societies after the terrible wounds CV19 is inflicting on the weak and poor as I write. We will work together to put in place more resilient, less fragile systems of global trade and cooperation.

I argue here, in sum, that the U.S. and its obedient allies cannot go on fighting an anachronistic Cold War Redux against China and Russia, while the world struggles to defeat CV19, this stealthy new common enemy.

And that when this war is won — as it will be won: to then go back to Cold War Redux will seem increasingly distracting and pointless. I think Trump, for all his faults, dimly gets this already. As Xi and Putin certainly do.

Tony Kevin is a former Australian senior diplomat and the author of six published books on public policy and international relations.

April 2, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment

Australia assigned to be the U.S. Policeman in the Pacific

By Paul Antonopoulos | March 19, 2020

The U.S. is ramping up pressure on Australia to support hostilities against China in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. Last week in Sydney, the U.S. Ambassador to Australia, Arthur Culvahouse, said that “We’ll be pushing Australia to expand its step-up from the Pacific islands region to south-east Asia and to look north as well.” The U.S., Australia and like-minded countries need to win in this strategic competition, the diplomat said. The Ambassador emphasized that in consultations between American and Australian foreign and defense ministers, the two sides will focus their efforts to further strengthen the Pacific step-up strategy.

The US Ambassador told the gathering of business leaders last Tuesday that Australia “sits on the frontline of the great strategic competition of our time.” “If the security and prosperity enjoyed by our countries and the region is to continue, this is a competition that we must win,” he said in indirect reference to China being the competition that must lose.

Australia’s Pacific strategy was adopted in 2016 under Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to assert Australia’s position as the policeman for the U.S. in the South Pacific and Southeast Asia. The Pacific step-up strategy defines the Australian government’s approach to economic and strategic interaction with Pacific Island nations. However, this is just the friendly face of the strategy and rather it is primarily aimed at maintaining regional balance to counter China’s growing influence in the region. China signed an Action Program with eight Pacific Island nations at the October 2019 3rd China Economic Development Cooperation Forum and Pacific Islands held in Samoa. These countries’ support for China’s Belt and Road Initiative was confirmed.

As the U.S. is dealing with the growing influence of China and attempting to counter it all over the globe, Washington is relying on Australia to serve as a counterbalance to China in the South Pacific and Southeast Asia. However, as the coronavirus continues to grow out of control in the U.S., it is likely that Washington is going to take its focus off the South Pacific for a long while. This will give Australia autonomy to act on Washington’s behalf and it appears that U.S. President Donald Trump immensely trusts the Australians in this role, so-much-so that  he honored the fellow Anglo-settler state by naming a new navy ship the USS Canberra, the only U.S. Navy warship named after a foreign city.

Australia wilfully wants to play a role that the U.S. assigned to them in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific so that it can more strongly assert its power on the region. Australia considers the small island countries of the South Pacific as an area within its sphere of influence. Canberra has a need to expand its weight in Southeast Asia, but finds this challenging as the region includes countries of larger populations and economies, such as Thailand and Indonesia.

Although Canberra wants to serve Washington’s interests in the region, Australia is a completely deindustrialized neoliberal country that does not have the means or capacity to challenge rising Southeast Asian countries and rather serves as a raw resource marketplace for the world. The U.S. is losing influence in Southeast Asia to China, and therefore Washington is relying on Australian support, hedging its bet on a common Anglo colonial-settler history to make Canberra receptive.

In this situation, Australia faces a very difficult choice as there is a clear divide between the economic community and the political class in regards to China policy. China is Australia’s most important economic partner, while the U.S. is Canberra’s most important security partner, so-much-so that Australia followed the U.S. to adventurist wars of aggression in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. China and Australia have established free trade areas and this agreement allows them to quickly increase the volume of bilateral trade. Therefore, the political will of Canberra is certain to face resistance from capitalist interests in the country as it wholly relies on China and other Southeast Asian countries for trade.

However, Australia is bound by the U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy that aims to use American allies like Australia, Japan, India and others, to counter China’s increasing influence. This is done by enhancing military cooperation between these countries and does not serve any economic role like the Belt and Road Initiative. As China finds the Indo-Pacific Strategy as an aggressive force aimed against it, it is likely that under economic pressure, Australia will try to balance relations, despite the political will and determination of Canberra to act as the U.S’ policeman in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific.

Paul Antonopoulos is a Research Fellow at the Center for Syncretic Studies.

March 19, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , | 2 Comments

These sickening videos of Australian SAS troops murdering unarmed Afghan civilians are a disgrace to my country

By Damian Wilson | RT | March 18, 2020

The graphic footage, filmed by body cameras worn by the elite troops and broadcast on national television, must lead to the soldiers being tried for murder.

Australians always look forward to celebrating Anzac Day, but this year it will be different because a pall of shame has fallen over our armed forces thanks to a jaw-dropping TV expose aired this week that showed elite Aussie soldiers murdering Afghan civilians in cold blood when they were supposed to be protecting them from the Taliban.

While a four-year inquiry into the behavior of its soldiers in Afghanistan, by the Inspector General of the Australian Defence Force, is still to deliver on its investigation, the chances of alleged war crimes being swept under the rug thanks to lying soldiers misguidedly protecting their comrades, misinformation from witnesses, or from a political cover-up, have just been blown out of the water.

Thanks to whistleblower Braden Chapman, a former army intelligence officer who witnessed the atrocities first hand in 2012, no one can ignore the reality of what happened as the Aussie Special Air Services Regiment (SAS) stormed the dusty villages of Afghanistan in search of those it considered legitimate targets.

Among the alleged crimes, Chapman says he witnessed an army dog handler allowing his charge to chew on the head of a newly-murdered man, another where an elite troop punched a child in the face and a third showing a soldier seemingly in the grip of ‘blood lust’ firing indiscriminately and throwing thermal grenades from close range into a mud hut occupied by several Afghan combatants.

Then there is the execution of a young, apparently unarmed Afghan man in a quiet wheat field. Shot from a distance of around two meters, his killer seems indifferent to the fact that his act was being filmed.

Somehow, those involved in several of the incidents explored in the documentary had already faced investigation over their actions but were found to have acted lawfully. Looks like they might have some further questions to answer now.

The culprits will regret that alongside their modern-tech weapons and armor they wore high definition body cameras that caught some of the inhumanity, and equally grim audio commentary, during their operations to flush out enemy combatants.

Several of the worst offenders, caught clearly on camera apparently murdering Afghans with thermal grenades, guns and through severe beatings, are still serving in the ADF. Though probably not for much longer thanks to their grinning murderous faces being caught for posterity on 4K video.

As an Australian, I am deeply ashamed by these disgraceful, impossible to deny scenes.

Our armed forces, and particularly their courageous, selfless behavior abroad while on active duty have always been a source of immense pride to Aussies.

Anzac Day (April 25) is a national holiday in our country, initially instituted to celebrate the contribution of Australian and New Zealand soldiers toward the ultimately futile Gallipoli campaign in the First World War that cost the lives of nearly 12,000 soldiers from the two nations among an Allied total of 56,000. The day of remembrance later widened its scope to include the sacrifices by soldiers from Down Under in all wars.

Nowadays, far from being a relic of the past, Anzac Day is celebrated by an increasing number of young Australians, many of whom attend ceremonies swathed in Aussie flags, wearing green and gold T-shirts and beanies and with national flag temporary tattoos on their cheeks.

Across the country, dawn ceremonies are held in memory of the time of the original landing on the Gallipoli peninsula, after which many take a traditional ‘gunfire breakfast’ – coffee with added rum – in memory of the sustenance taken by Aussie soldiers before battle.

It’s all highly symbolic and reflective stuff. Not taken lightly nor ever mocked even by the usually irreverent Aussies.

So to have the reputation of Australian fighting men and women representing the nation abroad dragged through the mud by rogue murderers in disgraceful scenes, all caught on camera and broadcast on the national broadcaster’s foremost investigative affairs programme on a Monday evening, is a devastating blow to national pride.

To realise that some of these animals are still serving in the ADF takes your breath away. It’s as simple as Braden Chapman says: “You can’t shoot unarmed people and not call that murder.”

Damian Wilson is a UK journalist, ex-Fleet Street editor, financial industry consultant and political communications special advisor in the UK and EU.

March 18, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , | 6 Comments

Syria’s War of Self-Defence Turning the tables on claims of war crimes

By David Macilwain | OffGuardian | February 28, 2020

Continuing in efforts to get the OPCW fraud exposed to the Western mainstream media’s sheltered and blinkered audience, I recently had an opportunity to have an opinion article published in the Sydney Morning Herald. This followed a formal complaint to ACMA, Australia’s media overseer, over the failure of state broadcasters to report on the OPCW story. The proviso for this article was that the OPCW “story” needed to be linked in some way to current events in Syria, given its controversial nature.

This, of course, I readily accepted, because the very “humanitarian crisis” in Idlib predicted two and more years earlier was now eventuating, or at least in the minds of anyone following the Western MSM news output.

Linking this with what happened in Douma in April 2018 was no problem, and in fact was more than that, because had the lies about the “humanitarian crisis in Eastern Ghouta” been properly exposed at the time, along with the fake chemical attack, the course of the war would have been entirely different.

Now two years later, as the true extent of the deception is exposed, along with those who organised it in Westminster and Washington, Tel Aviv and Ankara, I had hoped that credible newspapers like the non-Murdoch SMH would consider dipping a toe in the water. Then at least they would be already swimming with it if the water came up rather suddenly, and be ready with some explanation or excuse on how they had been wrong or didn’t know.

It didn’t even need to be “wrong about Assad” – in the first instance, and before the penny dropped on the ramifications of corruption at the OPCW. As James Harkin “admitted” – Jaish al Islam ruled Douma with an Iron Fist, so the White Helmets had to do what they said, and were desperate for foreign assistance. It was all just a big misunderstanding, and Trump’s fault for launching a missile attack on an impulse.

So I wrote an article proposal, looking at the way that the “humanitarian crisis” predicted in Aleppo in 2016 and in Ghouta in 2018 had not materialised, and had in fact been prevented by the Syrian government’s setting up of humanitarian corridors to allow people to escape – to the safety of areas protected by the Syrian Army and Russian police. It was I said, the failure of Western media to report on what had actually happened that allowed yet another humanitarian crisis to be played as a cause for intervention once again.

Naturally and unavoidably I criticised those media for relying on unbalanced and unsavoury sources, and for providing platforms for “propagandumentaries” like For Sama. The awarding and release of this film to coincide with the campaign to liberate Idlib deserves a whole article of its own, as more doctors with photogenic young children now appear in the last hospitals in Idlib.

Criticism of Waad al Khatib and her Oscar-winning partners in East Aleppo could have been a mistake, but the critical role of the White Helmets in staging the “Chlorine attack” in Douma made this part of the essential context for a discussion on the OPCW story – which was, of course, the real focus of the article.

In declining to publish my article following consultations with the opinion page editor, and despite my assurances on the credentials of Ian Henderson, I was offered the following explanation:

Thanks for the contribution but after talking to the opinion editor I think it doesn’t work for us as it is. There are enough questions over whether Henderson is telling the truth or not to make it hard to use him to absolve the Assad regime of war crimes during the war.

To say so lightly would offend not just the security establishment in the West but also the many Syrians who (even allowing for the exaggerations of western propaganda) have suffered at Assad’s hands.

Perhaps you mean that Syria is no worse than the rest, and as the government it has a right to use violence. But at the moment it seems to whitewash Assad.

In fact I’d already concluded my views “wouldn’t work” for the SMH, after just reading their correspondent’s “Explainer” on the Syrian war and events that led up to the current crisis in Idlib. It didn’t explain anything to me, except why it was that I would never get an article published in this mainstream paper!

Almost every sentence in my article contradicted the accepted Western narrative expressed by the Herald’s correspondent, as here:

Assad, largely thanks to Russian air power, has subdued the rebels in most parts of the country, partly by bombing several of his own largest cities into oblivion and deploying chemical weapons against his own citizens.”

And this is what most people believe, with emotive propaganda and photos turning belief into a conviction which evidence and reasoning is unable to dislodge. The SMH article above devoted as much space to a photo of a blond-haired child sitting in a bus as it did to the ‘explainer’, along with the title – “Sequel to a real-life horror show”.

Such propaganda has worked not just on the audience but on the editors of our media, as it has also done on most of the refugees living in Turkey. They fled because they were told the Syrian Army was coming after them, and they now believe they are in danger of retribution if they were to return. The idea that the Syrian Army and its partners are fighting and dying to kill the terrorists so that it will be safe for Syrians to come home is probably not one they can believe.

In deference to the editor of the Herald, I welcomed his willingness to consider my views and some of the evidence supplied in links. That he did is clear from his recognition that “using Henderson’s claims” should not be taken lightly as “it could absolve Assad of war crimes”. Which of course was my very point.

While OffGuardian remains something of a “Salon des Refuses” to republish opinion unacceptable to the mainstream, it is more useful to repaint this dispute over the OPCW’s toxic deception as a question of “whose war-crimes”. As far as we – on Syria’s side – are concerned, all the war-crimes committed in Syria are attributable to the aggressors who started and fuelled the war on Syria, including all those cases where civilians have been victims of Syrian or Russian airstrikes.

Both militaries have gone to great lengths to avoid hitting civilians where they can be identified, despite the incessant stream of claims to the contrary. An integral part of this effort has been to provide and protect humanitarian corridors for civilians to escape, and many or most of the trapped residents have bravely resisted the insurgents’ threats and propaganda to do so.

There is little verifiable evidence of civilian deaths from Syrian bombing however, as confirmed by the White Helmets’ evident need to fake such deaths for their rescue videos. At the centre of the Douma hoax chemical attack were the contorted bodies of 35 women and children, whose murder for a propaganda video is certainly a war-crime. At the same time the number of civilians killed by the terrorist groups in missile and bomb attacks aimed at residential neighbourhoods now numbers in the hundred-thousands.

The difficulty in persuading people – even reasonable and sympathetic people – of this evident truth on who is responsible for the worst war-crime of this century – the war of aggression on Syria – is illustrated by another group discussion in which I have been involved this week.

On one side are those who believe that President Bashar al Assad is basically a good person who has not, and would not intentionally kill “his own people”, and of course would never and never did use chemical weapons against them, (or even against terrorists for that matter). One of our group, still recovering from the pleasure of meeting Assad last year, dared to refer to him as “wonderful”.

Despite all the contributors to this discussion claiming opposition to all US foreign interventions and regime-change wars and NATO support for extremists and tyrants, some simply cannot stomach such admiration for a man “who has killed civilians”, and no amount of argument or evidence will counter their belief that he has.

It is as though the very first events in the so-called uprising – the false-flag shootings in Dera’a – made an indelible mark on those who believed them, and believed the false story of “Assad’s brutal crackdown on protestors”. And as long as they believe this, the responsibility for Syria’s dead can be shifted and shared, and one day their alleged culprits will be brought to “justice” – in Western courts.

Perhaps there is no answer to this dispute, where even those who are potentially most sympathetic to the Syrian cause cannot be persuaded of its most essential character – that the Syrian army and its allies have fought a war of self-defence since the start; a “just war” which even the most anti-war of activists should accept as legitimate. So rather than pursue this hopeless quest, we should turn on the offensive.

Instead of denying claims that Assad used chemical weapons in Douma, in Khan Shaikoun, and in Ghouta we must demand evidence and proof that he did so, because there is none. We could follow the style of Vassily Nebenzia, expressed so well at the start of this UN session (embedded above) on the OPCW fraud, as he mocks the “highly likely” standard of proof Syria’s enemies pretend is sufficient as a casus belli.

February 28, 2020 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

A Second Whistle Blown on the OPCW’s Doctored Report

By Jeremy Salt | American Herald Tribune | December 3, 2019

Another whistleblower leak has exposed the fraudulent nature of the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) report on the alleged chemical weapons attack in the Syrian city of Douma, close to Damascus, on April 7 last year.

The first leak came from the Fact-Finding Mission’s engineering sub-group. After investigating the two sites where industrial gas cylinders were found in Douma and taking into account the possibility that the cylinders had been dropped from the air it concluded that there was a “higher probability” that both cylinders were placed at both sites by hand. This finding was entirely suppressed in the final report.

The engineering sub-group prepared its draft report “for internal review” between February 1-27, 2018. By March 1 the OPCW final report had been approved, published and released, indicating that the engineers’ findings had not been properly evaluated, if evaluated at all. In its final report the OPCW, referring to the findings of independent experts in mechanical engineering, ballistics and metallurgy, claimed that the structural damage had been caused at one location by an “impacting object” (i.e. the cylinder) and that at the second location the cylinder had passed through the ceiling, fallen to the floor and somehow bounced back up on to the bed where it was found.

None of this was even suggested by the engineers. Instead, the OPCW issued a falsified report intended to keep alive the accusation that the cylinders had been dropped by the Syrian Air Force.

Now there is a second leak, this time an internal email sent by a member of the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) on June 22, 2018, to Robert Fairweather, the British career diplomat who was at the time Chief of Cabinet at the OPCW, and copied to his deputy, Aamir Shouket. The writer claims to have been the only FFM member to have read the redacted report before its release. He says it misrepresents the facts: “Some crucial facts that have remained in the redacted version have morphed into something quite different from what was originally drafted.”

The email says the final version statement that the team “has sufficent evidence to determine that chlorine or another reactive chlorine-containing chemical was likely released from the cylinders is highly misleading and not supported by the facts.” The writer states that the only evidence is that some samples collected at locations 2 and 4 (where the gas cylinders were found) had been in contact with one or more chemicals that contain a reactive chlorine atom.

“Such chemicals,” he continues, “could include molecular chlorine, phosgene, cyanogen chloride, hydrochloric acid, hydrogen chloride or sodium hypochlorite (the major element in household chlorine-based bleach.”  Purposely singling out chlorine as one of the possibilities was disingenuous and demonstrated “partiality” that negatively affected the final report’s credibility.

The writer says the final report’s reference to “high levels of various chlorinated organic derivatives detected in environmental samples” overstates the draft report’s findings. “In most cases” these derivatives were present only in part per billion range, as low as 1-2 ppb, which is essentially trace qualitiea.” In such microscopic quantities, detected inside apartment buildings, it would seem, although the writer only hints at the likelihood, that the chlorine trace elements could have come from household bleach stored in the kitchen or bathroom.

The writer notes that the original draft discussed in detail the inconsistency between the victims’ symptoms after the alleged attack as reported by witnesses and seen on video recordings.  This section of the draft, including the epidemiology, was removed from the final version in its entirety. As it was inextricably linked to the chemical agent as identified, the impact on the final report was “seriously negative.” The writer says the draft report was “modified” at the behest of the office of Director-General, a post held at the time by a Turkish diplomat, Ahmet Uzumcu.

The OPCW has made no attempt to deny the substance of these claims. After the engineers’ report made its way to Wikileaks its priority was to hunt down the leaker. Following the leaking of the recent email, the Director-General, Fernando Arias, simply defended the final report as it stood.

These two exposures are triply devastating for the OPCW.  Its Douma report is completely discredited but all its findings on the use of chemical weapons in Syria must now be regarded as suspect even by those who did not regard them as suspect in the first place. The same shadow hangs over all UN agencies that have relied on the OPCW for evidence, especially the UN’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, an arm of the OHCHR (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights).

This body is closely linked to the OPCW and while both mostly hide the sources of their information it is evident that where chemical weapons allegations have been made, the commission of inquiry has drawn on the OPCW.

As of January 2018, the commission reported on 34 “documented incidents” of chemical weapons use by various parties in Syria. It held the Syrian government responsible for 23 of them and, remarkably, did not hold the armed groups responsible even for one, despite the weight of evidence showing their preparation and use of such weapons over a long period of time.

The commission has made repeated accusations of chlorine barrel bombs being dropped by government forces. On the worst of the alleged chemical weapons attacks, on August 21, 2013, in the eastern Ghouta district just outside Damascus, it refers to sarin being used in a “well-planned indiscriminate attack targetting residential areas [and] causing mass casualties. The perpetrators likely had access to the Syrian military chemical weapons stockpile and expertise and equipment to manipulate large amounts of chemical weapons.”

This is such a travesty of the best evidence that no report by this body can be regarded as impartial, objective and neutral.   No chemical weapons or nerve agents were moved from Syrian stocks, according to the findings of renowned journalist Seymour Hersh. The best evidence, including a report by Hersh (‘The Red Line and the Rat Line,’ London Review of Books, April 17, 2014), suggests a staged attack by terrorist groups, including Jaysh al Islam and Ahrar al Sham, who at the time were being routed in a government offensive. The military would have had no reason to use chemical weapons: furthermore, the ‘attack’ was launched just as UN chemical weapons inspectors were arriving in the Syrian capital and it is not even remotely credible that the Syrian government would have authorized a chemical weapons attack at such a time.

Even the CIA warned Barack Obama that the Syrian government may not have been/probably was not responsible for the attack and that he was being lured into launching an air attack in Syria now that his self-declared ‘red line’ had been crossed. At the last moment, Obama backed off.

It remains possible that the victims of this ‘attack’ were killed for propaganda purposes. Certainly, no cruelty involving the takfiri groups, the most brutal people on the face of the planet, can be ruled out. Having used the occasion to blame the Syrian government, the media quickly moved on. The identities of the dead, many of them children, who they were, where they might have been buried – if in fact they had been killed and not just used as props – were immediately tossed into the memory hole. Eastern Ghouta remains one of the darkest unexplained episodes in the war on Syria.

The UN’s Syria commission of inquiry’s modus operandi is much the same as the OPCW’s. Witnesses are not identified; there is no indication of how their claims were substantiated; the countries outside Syria where many have been interviewed are not identified, although Turkey is clearly one; and where samples have had to be tested, the chain of custody is not transparent.

It is worth stepping back a little bit to consider early responses to the OPCW report on Douma. The Syrian government raised a number of questions, all of them fobbed off by the OPCW.  Russia entered the picture by arranging a press conference for alleged victims of the ‘attack’ at the OPCW headquarters in the Hague.  They included an 11-year-old boy, Hassan Diab, who said he did not know why he was suddenly hosed down in the hospital clinic, as shown in the White Helmets propaganda video.

All the witnesses dismissed claims of a chemical weapons attack. Seventeen countries (Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, the United Kingdom and the US) then put out a joint statement (April 26, 2018) expressing their full support for the OPCW report and dismissing the “so-called” information session at the Hague as a Russian propaganda exercise. Their statement claimed the authenticity of the information in the OPCW report was “unassailable.”

Russia followed up with a series of questions directed at the OPCW’s technical secretariat. It noted that the OPCW report did not mention that samples taken from Douma were “split” in the OPCW’s central laboratory in the Netherlands and not in the Syrian Arab republic. Fractions of samples were handed to Syria only after six months of insistent pressure (OPCW response: its terms of reference provided for Syria to be provided with samples “to the extent possible” but do not specify when or where samples should be ‘split’).

Russia also referred to the collection of 129 samples and their transfer to OPCW-designated laboratories. 31 were selected for the first round of analysis and an additional batch of 13 sent later. Of the 129 samples 39 were obtained from individuals living outside territory controlled by the Syrian army. Of 44 samples analyzed 33 were environmental and 11 biomedical: of the 44, 11 (four environmental and seven biomedical) were obtained from alleged witnesses.

As remarked by the Russian Federation, the OPCW report does not explain the circumstances in which these samples were obtained. Neither is there any information on the individuals from whom they were taken; neither is there any evidence demonstrating compliance with the chain of custody (OPCW response: there was respect for the chain of custody, without this being explained; the “standard methodology” in collecting samples was applied, without details being given.  It stressed the need for privacy and the protection of witness identities).

Russia observed that the samples were analyzed in two unnamed OPCW laboratories and on the evidence of techniques and results, it raised the question of whether the same laboratories had been used to investigate earlier ‘incidents’ involving the alleged use of chlorine. Of the 13 laboratories that had technical agreements with the OPCW, why were samples analyzed at only two, apparently the same two as used before?  Russia also observed that of the 33 environmental samples tested for chlorinated products, there was a match (bornyl chloride) in only one case.

Samples taken from location 4, where a gas cylinder was allegedly dropped from the air, showed the presence of the explosive trinitrotoluene, leading to the conclusion that the hole in the roof was made by an explosion and not by a cylinder falling through it (OPCW response: the Fact-Finding Mission did not select the labs and information about them is confidential. As there had been intense warfare for weeks around location four, the presence of explosive material in a broad range of samples was to be expected but this did not – in the OPCW view –  lead to the conclusion that an explosion caused the hole in the roof).

Russia pointed out that the FFM interviewed 39 people but did not interview the actual witnesses of the ‘incident’ inside the Douma hospital who appeared and were easily identifiable in the staged videos (OPCW response: the secretariat neither confirms nor denies whether it interviewed any of the witnesses presented by Russia at the OPCW headquarters “as any statement to that effect would be contrary to the witness protection principles applied by the secretariat”).

Russia also pointed out the contradictions in the report on the number of alleged dead. In one paragraph the FFM says it could not establish a precise figure for casualties which “some sources” said ranged between 70 and 500. Yet elsewhere “witnesses” give the number of dead as 43 (OPCW response: the specific figure of 43 was based on the evidence of “witnesses” who claimed to have seen bodies at different locations).

Russia also pointed out that no victims were found at locations 2 and 4, where the ventilation was good because of the holes in the roof/ceiling. Referring to location 2, it asked how could chlorine released in a small hole from a cylinder in a well-ventilated room on the fourth floor have had such a strong effect on people living on the first or second floors? (OPCW response: the FFM did not establish a correlation between the number of dead and the quantity of the toxic chemical. In order to establish such a correlation, factors unknown to the FFM – condition of the building, air circulation and so on – would have had to be taken into account.  It does not explain why this was not attempted and how it could reach its conclusions without taking these “unknown factors” into account).

Finally, Russia raised the question of the height from which the cylinders could have been dropped. It referred to the lack of specific calculations in the OPCW report. The ‘experts’ who did the simulation did not indicate the drop height. The charts and diagrams indicated a drop height of 45-180 meters. However, Syrian Air Force helicopters do not fly at altitudes of less than 2000 meters when cruising over towns because they would come under small arms fire “at least” and would inevitably be shot down.

Furthermore, if the cylinders had been dropped from 2000 meters,  both the roof and the cylinders would have been more seriously damaged (OPCW response: there were no statements or assumptions in the FFM report on the use of helicopters or the use of other aircraft “or the height of the flight. The FFM did not base its modeling on the height from which the cylinders could have been dropped. “In accordance with its mandate,” the FFM did not comment on the possible altitude of aircraft.  The OPCW did not explain why these crucial factors were not taken into account).

In its conclusion, Russia said there was a “high probability” that the cylinders were placed manually at locations 2 and 4 and that the factual material in the OPCW report did not allow it to draw the conclusion that a toxic chemical had been used as a weapon. These conclusions have now been confirmed in the release of information deliberately suppressed by the OPCW secretariat.

As the leaked material proves, its report was doctored: by suppressing, ignoring or distorting the findings of its own investigators to make it appear that the Syrian government was responsible for the Douma ‘attack’ the OPCW can be justly accused of giving aid and comfort to terrorists and their White Helmet auxiliaries whom – the evidence overwhelmingly shows – set this staged ‘attack ’up.

Critical evidence ignored by the OPCW included the videoed discovery of an underground facility set up by Jaysh al Islam for the production of chemical weapons.   All the OPCW said was that the FFM inspectors paid on-site visits to the warehouse and “facility” suspected of producing chemical weapons and found no evidence of their manufacture.  There is no reference to the makeshift facility found underground and shown in several minutes of video evidence.

Since the release of the report, the three senior figures in the OPCW secretariat have moved/been moved on. The Director-General at the time, Hasan Uzumlu, a Turkish career diplomat, stepped out of the office in July 2018: Sir Robert Fairweather, a British career diplomat and Chief of Cabinet at the OPCW, was appointed the UK’s special representative to Sudan and South Sudan on March 11, 2019: his deputy, Aamir Shouket,  left the OPCW in August 2018, to return to Pakistan as Director-General of the Foreign Ministry’s Europe division. The governments which signed the statement that the evidence in the OPCW report was “unassailable” remain in place.

Jeremy Salt has taught at the University of Melbourne, Bosporus University (Istanbul) and Bilkent University (Ankara), specialising in the modern history of the Middle East.  His most recent book is “The Unmaking of the Middle East. A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands” (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008.)

December 4, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

China rejects allegations of meddling in Australia affairs

Press TV – November 25, 2019

China says it has never been interested in meddling in the internal affairs of other countries amid claims that the Chinese Communist party sought to infiltrate Australia’s parliament.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a daily news briefing on Monday that some Australian media outlets had fabricated such allegations as China’s interference.

Some Australian politicians, organizations, and media, the official added, had “become seized with imaginary fears” on issues related to China.

“They constantly fabricate cases of so-called Chinese spies infiltrating Australia.”

“However bizarre the story, lies are still lies in the end, whatever new guise they wear.”

The allegations, first aired by local network Nine, claim that a suspected Chinese espionage ring approached a Chinese-Australian man to run as a member of parliament.

The channel report alleged that Chinese operatives offered one million dollars to Liberal party member Nick Zhao to run for federal parliament in the Melbourne suburban seat of Chisholm, now held by Hong Kong-born Liberal lawmaker Gladys Liu.

Zhao was found dead in a Melbourne hotel room after he reportedly approached the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) to discuss the plot.

On Sunday, Australia’s 60 Minutes program and affiliated newspapers said a suspected Chinese espionage ring had offered money to pay for a Melbourne luxury car dealer to run for a seat in the federal parliament.

The ASIO said it was investigating an alleged plot by China to install an agent in the parliament.

Following the report on Sunday, the ASIO director general, Mike Burgess, said the domestic spy agency “was previously aware of matters that were reported today, and has been actively investigating them.”

Describing the alleged plot as “deeply disturbing and troubling,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government was determined to protect Australians from foreign interference and had bolstered laws to strengthen the powers of intelligence agencies.

However, he said he would not draw conclusions on an alleged Chinese plot.

The episode involving China and Australia comes at a time of friction between the West and Beijing.

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi recently minced no words when he lashed out at the United States over Washington’s one-sided approach to world politics and its adversarial attitude towards Beijing.

“It (the US) has already become the world’s biggest destabilizing factor,” China’s Foreign Ministry cited the top diplomat as saying on the sidelines of a Group of 20 ministerial meeting in the city of Nagoya in southern Japan on Saturday.

November 25, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 4 Comments

Australian legislator uncovers Bureau of Meteorology fiddling with temperature records to hype warming

By Thomas Lifson | American Thinker | October 26, 2019

If global warming is real and a threat to the world, why do people keeping temperature records keep “adjusting” or “rectifying” the data to make it look like warming is increasing?

From Down Under, a member of the federal House of Representatives named Craig Kelly — a member of the Liberal Party, which is conservative — has caught that nation’s Bureau of Meteorology altering graphs showing the number of very hot days so as to obscure the fact that 1952 had more of them than recent years and adding a newly “discovered” hot day to a more recent year to make it appear that they are increasing.

I quote and use graphics from his Facebook account:

Not only did the Bureau’s graph showing the year 1952 as having the highest ‘number of very hot days’ (and the year 2011 with the lowest number) disappear down a memory hole — but a new ‘rectified’ graph has appeared in another section of their website.

And surprise, surprise — the year 1952 no longer has the highest ‘number of very hot days’. The old graph recorded 21 very hot days in 1952, while the new ‘rectified’ graph shows only 16 very hot days.

Further, for the year 2011 — which embarrassingly for Alarmists previously had the lowest ‘number of very hot days’ going back to 1910 — the Bureau has skilfully been able to find another very hot day for 2011, (I wonder where it was hiding ?) so that year no longer holds the lowest record !

As Orwell foretold in the novel 1984:

”There were the vast repositories where the corrected documents were stored, and the hidden furnaces where the original copies were destroyed. And somewhere or other, quite anonymous, there were the directing brains who co-ordinated the whole effort and laid down the lines of policy which made it necessary that this fragment of the past should be preserved, that one falsified, and the other rubbed out of existence.

October 26, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science | | 1 Comment