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The Original ‘Fake News’? The BBC and the Information Research Department

By Ian Sinclair | Morning Star | January 9, 2019

Last month Ritula Shah presented a BBC World Service discussion programme entitled Is “Fake News” A Threat To Democracy?

Predictably the debate focused on Russian attempts to influence Western populations and political systems.

Asked whether the US has been involved in similar activities, Dr Kathleen Bailey, a senior figure in the US State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research in the 1980s, was dismissive:

“We [the US] certainly do not have a budget, bureaucracy or intellectual commitment to doing that kind of thing.”

Carl Miller, the research director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media at Demos, also played down the West’s activities:

“I think Western countries do do less of this as a kind of tool of foreign policy than autocracies.”

“Read real journalism” — presumably BBC journalism — was one of the guest’s suggestions for countering Fake News.

Putting this self-serving and self-congratulatory narrative to one side, it is worth considering the BBC’s, and particularly the BBC World Service’s, own relationship to the British government’s own propaganda.

“Directly funded by government [the Foreign Office], rather than the licence fee” the World Service is “deeply embedded in the foreign policy, security and intelligence apparatus of the British state,” Dr Tom Mills notes in his must-read 2016 book The BBC: Myth of a Public Service.

In particular, the BBC had a very close relationship to the Information Research Department (IRD) — “a Foreign Office propaganda outfit which sought especially to foster anti-communist sentiments on the left,” explains Mills, a Lecturer in Sociology and Policy at Aston University.

Set up in 1948, the IRD “was one of the largest and best-funded sections of the Foreign Office until it was discreetly shut down in 1977 on the orders of [then foreign secretary] David Owen,” investigative journalist Ian Cobain reported in the Guardian in July 2018.

A 1963 Foreign Office review of IRD sets out the work of the covert unit:

“The primary aim is unattributable propaganda through IRD outlets — eg in the press, the political parties … and a number of societies.”

Focusing on the Soviet Union and its supposed influence around the world, “IRD material poured into the BBC and was directed to news desks, talks writers and different specialist correspondents,” according to Paul Lashmar and James Oliver in Britain’s Secret Propaganda War, their 1998 history of the clandestine organisation.

The programming of the BBC’s Overseas Service (which would change its name to the World Service in 1965) “was developed in close consultation with the Foreign Office and its information departments,” they highlight.

The BBC “were seemingly quite content to be directed by the FO [Foreign Office] as to how to deal with Middle Eastern personalities, and enquired whether it was desirable for them ‘to deal in a more or less bare-fisted manner with any of the leading statesmen (or their principle spokesmen)’,” notes Simon Collier in his 2013 PhD thesis on IRD and British foreign policy.

Infamously, the BBC played a key role in the US-British assisted overthrow of Iran’s democratically elected prime minister in 1953, with the signal for the coup to begin arranged with the BBC.

That day the corporation began its Persian language news broadcast not with the usual “it is now midnight in London,” but instead with “it is now exactly midnight,” reveals historian Mark Curtis in his 2003 book Web of Deceit: Britain’s Real Role in the World.

When it came to nuclear war, the BBC was similarly careful about what was broadcast, effectively banning the dramatised documentary film War Game in 1965 (even though it had originally commissioned it).

Discussing the film’s depiction of a nuclear attack on Britain, the chairman of the BBC wrote to the cabinet secretary arguing that the “showing of the film on television might well have a significant effect on public attitudes towards the policy of the nuclear deterrent.”

Though formally concerned with foreign influence, IRD also took a close interest in British domestic politics, including in the Northern Ireland conflict, as well as carrying out campaigns against people they suspected were communists and trade unionists.

For example, writing in the Guardian last year Cobain reported:

“Senior figures in Harold Wilson’s Labour government plotted to use a secret Foreign Office propaganda unit [IRD] to smear a number of left-wing trade union leaders,” including Jack Jones, the general secretary of the Transport and General Workers’ Union.

In the same report Cobain highlights a letter the BBC director-general wrote to IRD in 1974 asking for a briefing on “subversives” working in broadcasting.

This, it seems likely, was a complement to the wider political vetting the BBC undertook, with the help of MI5, between the 1930s and 1985.

Communists and members of the Socialist Workers Party and Militant Tendency were barred from key positions at the BBC, or denied promotion if they were already working for the corporation, according to a memo from 1984, with an image resembling a Christmas tree added to the personnel files of individuals under suspicion.

It is important to understand the relationship between the BBC and IRD and the wider British state was kept deliberately vague, a quintessential British fudge of formal and informal connections and influence.

“Many of the executives of the BBC had gone to the same public schools, and inevitably Oxbridge, with their Foreign Office colleagues,” note Lashmar and Oliver.

“Both were part of the establishment, attending the same gentlemen’s clubs and having an implicit understanding of what constituted the national interest.”

Cutting through this fog, Mills provides a concise summary:

“During the Cold War period the BBC was … distributing propaganda material in close co-operation with the British state.”

However, he is keen to highlight that though “there is a temptation to view all this as merely a feature of the Cold War … there is no good reason to think that there is not still significant collusion.”

He quotes Dr Emma Briant, who notes in her 2015 book Propaganda and Counter-Terrorism that the BBC director-general receives direct briefings from the British intelligence services “on the right line to take on whether something is in the national and operational interest to broadcast.”

Indeed, out of all the British broadcasters’ coverage of the Iraq war, the BBC was revealed to be the most sympathetic to the government, according to a 2003 study led by Professor Justin Lewis from Cardiff University’s School of Journalism.

Defending the BBC’s reporting in a letter to prime minister Tony Blair in 2003, then BBC director-general Greg Dyke noted he had “set up a committee … which insisted that we had to find a balanced audience for programmes like Question Time at a time when it was very hard to find supporters of the war willing to come on.”

The same committee “when faced with a massive bias against the war among phone-in callers, decided to increase the number of phone lines so that pro-war listeners had a better chance of getting through and getting onto the programmes,” Dyke explained.

This “was done in an attempt to ensure our coverage was balanced,” Dyke wrote, apparently with a straight face.

Moreover, academic studies on issues such as the Israel-Palestine conflict and the financial crisis shows the BBC has tended to reflect “the ideas and interests of elite groups, and marginalised alternative and oppositional perspectives,” to quote Mills on the BBC’s overall journalistic output.

Turning to contemporary politics, in 2016 Sir Michael Lyons, the former chair of the BBC Trust, raised concerns about the corporation’s coverage of new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

“I can understand why people are worried about whether some of the most senior editorial voices in the BBC have lost their impartiality on this,” he noted.

As is often the case, a careful reading of Establishment sources can provide illumination about what is really going on.

Concerned about the government’s proposed cuts to the World Service, the House of Commons foreign affairs committee highlighted the propaganda role of the BBC in 2014: “We believe that it would not be in the interests of the UK for the BBC to lose sight of the priorities of the FCO, which relies upon the World Service as an instrument of ‘soft power’.”

Fake news indeed.

January 13, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

Another Climate Propaganda Story Promoting the Normal as Abnormal

By Dr. Tim Ball | Watts Up With That? | January 8, 2019

Almost every day there are stories in the media about weather or climate events that create the impression that they are new and outside of the normal pattern. None of them are. The objective is to sensationalize the story, even if it means using a meaningless period. A simple trick is to pick a period in which your claim is valid. This practice of cherry-picking the period of study is not exclusive to the media. It was a clear sign of corruption of climatology brought to a head with Roseanne D’Arrigo’s infamous comment to the 2006 National Academy of Science (NAS) panel that “if you are going to make a cherry pie, you have to pick cherries.”

That doesn’t condone the media use of the technique. All it does is illustrate why it was a convenient technique for creating a deception about what is normal. For example, a 2017 BBC headline said “Hottest June day since summer of 1976 in heatwave.” That is 41 years, which is statistically significant but not climatologically significant. A Youtube story reports “Sydney has wettest November day since 1984.” CBS Pittsburgh reported “NWS: 2018 is the 2nd Wettest Year on Record in Pittsburgh.” The record began in 1871 or 147 years ago, but even that is not climatologically significant. The ones I like are this one from North Carolina, that says, “A Look Back at the Coldest day Ever in North Carolina.” “Ever” is approximately 4.5 billion years.

Other stories focus on a pattern or change in a pattern again with the idea that it is new or abnormal. Headlines like this one from 2012, “Why have there been more tornadoes than usual this year?” Often, they are suggestive such as this 2017 New York Times story. “The 2017 Hurricane Season Really Is More Intense Than Normal.” When you read the story, you find, as is usually the case, that the caveats at the end indicate it is not unusual. The problem is the headline already set the pattern in the public mind.

The headline says, “Forget El Nino, StormFest Is about To Hit The West Coast.” The author is talking about a series of storms tracking on to the west coast of North America. The story told us

Things often calm down after January 1 during El Nino years… but not this year… with the U.S. West Coast from central California to Washington State about to be pummeled by a series of storms.   Rain, snow, wind?  Plenty for everyone. A view of the latest infrared satellite imagery shows an amazing line-up of one storm after another stretching way into the Pacific.  A traffic jam of storms.

The terms, “pummeled” and “traffic jam” are evocative and imply the pattern is unusual. In fact, it is perfectly normal to the point that there is a descriptive term for it, the Pineapple Express. This refers to the establishment of the Polar Front along the northwest coast of North America after it migrates south from its summer position off the coast of Alaska and northern British Columbia. Low pressure systems known as anti-cyclones develop along the Front all year round. The areas affected by these systems changes as the Front migrates between its more northerly summer position and more southerly winter position. The term Pineapple Express refers to the situation in the winter when these anti-cyclones generate in the region of Hawaii and track along the Front hitting the northwest coast in a series of storms. The pattern does not stop in an El Nino year but takes a different path.

These anti-cyclone systems are also the focus of exploitation of normal weather events as abnormal, in Europe. The southerly shift of the Polar Front in the Northern Hemisphere occurs around the globe. Two major factors influence the weather pattern, sea surface temperatures that fluctuate with ocean circulation, and the Rossby Wave pattern in the Circumpolar Vortex. This pattern of anti-cyclones hitting western Europe in the winter was added to the propaganda list when they started naming the storms. It linked them to hurricanes in the public mind, and it implied they were a recent phenomenon.

They are not recent, new, or of greater intensity.

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A significant part of professor Hubert Lamb’s ground-breaking and monumental work on historical climatology was a long-term reconstruction of the pattern of these anti-cyclones. It fit with his claim about why he established the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia.

“… it was clear that the first and greatest need was to establish the facts of the past record of the natural climate in times before any side effects of human activities could well be important.”

Once he created a long-term record of these anti-cyclonic systems, there was a better chance of determining the underlying mechanisms. From this, he could achieve his final objective of better forecasting. The ability to forecast defines science. If that is not the final objective the work is mostly irrelevant.

Consider the destructive and history-altering impact of storms like the one that hit the Spanish Armada that attempted to invade England in 1588. Ironically, Phil Jones, who ran the CRU reputation into the ground while under his direction, wrote a good synopsis of Lamb’s work. There is also the storm of 1703 reported in great detail in the book “The Storm” by the famous author Daniel Defoe.

Marcel Leroux was an early major skeptic of the claim of anthropogenic global warming (AGW). His 2005 book “Global Warming: Myth or Reality” was impactful because Leroux was well qualified. As one review of his book notes,

In the global-warming debate, definitive answers to questions about ultimate causes and effects remain elusive. In Global Warming: Myth or Reality? Marcel Leroux seeks to separate fact from fiction in this critical debate from a climatological perspective. Beginning with a review of the dire hypotheses for climate trends, the author describes the history of the 1998 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and many subsequent conferences. He discusses the main conclusions of the three IPCC reports and the predicted impact on global temperatures, rainfall, weather and climate, while highlighting the mounting confusion and sensationalism of reports in the media.

The comment about sensationalism in the media is relevant to this article because Leroux, like Lamb, also worked on a reconstruction of the anti-cyclonic systems in the North Atlantic. Leroux also worked on another later exploitation of the normal by John Holdren, Obama’s Science Advisor, the so-called “Polar Vortex.” Leroux’s 1993 work on the impact of the “The Mobile Polar High: a new concept explaining present mechanisms of meridional air-mass and energy exchanges and global propagation of palaeoclimatic changes” showed how these outbreaks of cold Polar air are a normal weather event that enter the climate record because of their regular but variable appearance and impact.

We are confronted by the unholy alliance between the political use of science by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the spin doctors or, as I prefer, the professional liars, and the mainstream media, that create fake news by making the normal appear abnormal. As the Yiddish proverb observes, “Truth never dies but lives a wretched existence,” especially under such a deliberate onslaught.

January 11, 2019 Posted by | Book Review, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

Wag the Dog… British Media Watchdog Accuses Russia of Bias

By Finian CUNNINGHAM | Strategic Culture Foundation | 27.12.2018

Irony is dead when British state media controllers accuse Russian news outlets RT and Sputnik of “imbalance” over their reporting on the Skripal alleged poisoning affair.

In the past week, Ofcom, the British media watchdog, condemned seven programs aired during March and April this year following the apparent poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury. The Russian outlets may be fined or denied future broadcasting rights in Britain. The latter suggests what the real, ulterior agenda is all about.

It remains a mystery as to what happened exactly to Skripal and his daughter when they reportedly fell ill on March 4 in the famous south of England cathedral town. Neither Sergei nor Julia have been seen in public since, apart from a brief and carefully controlled interview given by Julia to Reuters a few months ago, apparently having recovered from her stricken condition. Russian consular services have been denied access to Julia by the British authorities, despite her being a Russian citizen.

The murkiness of the affair, the flagrant obfuscation by the British authorities and their violation of diplomatic norms speaks of a British state intrigue aimed at provoking international recriminations against Russia. Such is the outrageous apparent skullduggery by the British state, it is arguably very appropriate therefore for critical media coverage of the incident and the subsequent prevarication by London.

However, in a staggering inversion of reality, British media regulators complain that Russian news outlets have broken “impartiality rules” in their reporting on what is a bizarre de facto disappearance of a Russian citizen and her father while in the custody of British authorities. The protagonists are off-limits from criticism; their ropey claims must be treated as the sane version of events.

Within days of the Salisbury incident, senior British officials, including Prime Minister Theresa May, were accusing Russia of an assassination attempt against the Skripals, allegedly with a Soviet-era nerve poison.

London’s narrative inculpating the Kremlin and Russian President Vladimir Putin continues, despite Russia’s vehement denial of involvement and despite the lack of independently verifiable evidence.

This week, in her Christmas speech to the nation, premier May again repeated her condemnation of the “nerve agent attack in Salisbury” and she praised British armed forces for “protecting the country’s waters and skies from Russian intrusion”.

So, Russian media are castigated for “bias”, but British media are evidently permitted to report and broadcast official British assertions that are unproven and wildly sensational, if not tantamount to inciting international conflict. Just who is breaking journalistic standards?

Among the news outlets reporting May’s words were the BBC. The government-owned British broadcaster routinely and snidely refers to Russian news outlets RT and Sputnik as “Kremlin-backed”. As if the state-backed BBC is somehow immune from disseminating British government propaganda.

May’s assertions in her Christmas speech about Russia carrying out an alleged assassination and threatening Britain with invasion went unchallenged by the BBC. Nor were her other claims about chemical weapons being used by Syrian government forces against civilians.

On Syria, May was referring to an incident near Damascus in April this year when toxic chlorine was purportedly used in an assault on civilians. Back then, the British prime minister joined with US President Trump and France’s President Macron to order air strikes on Syria, supposedly in retaliation for the Syrian army’s use of chemical weapons. But it soon transpired that the incident was a provocation staged by jihadist militants and their media operatives, the so-called White Helmets. In other words, the British, American and French carried out a criminal act of aggression against Syria under false pretenses.

Yet May in her solemn set-piece nationwide Christmas speech this week was allowed by British media to repeat blatant lies against Syria, and brazenly avoid the issue of justice facing her government over illegal air strikes on Syria, as well as to continue smearing Russia over the murky Skripal affair.

The arrogant hypocrisy of British media and the state regulator is astounding. British citizens are compelled by law to pay an annual license fee of £150 ($190) per household for possessing a television set. Failure to pay can result in a jail sentence. The TV license fee collected by the British state is handed over to the BBC. So, here we have a state-owned media channel that is funded through a compulsory tax on citizens, and yet this same channel willingly broadcasts British government propaganda claims denigrating Russia and covering up for British war crimes in Syria. If that sounds Orwellian, that’s because it is.

The BBC’s corporate advertising claims to be the “world’s leader in breaking global news”. It also assures its listeners and readers that it produces “news you can trust”.

There are countless cases where the BBC’s pompous self-importance can be exposed, revealing an altogether more malevolent purpose. One of the most notorious cases was its complicity in orchestrating the 1953 coup in Iran carried out by the American CIA and Britain’s MI6. In his book, Web of Deceit, British historian Mark Curtis details the crucial role played by the BBC and its Persian service in helping to foment the coup against the elected premier Mohammad Mosaddegh.

More recently, BBC coverage of the war in Syria over the past eight years has been a relentless propaganda assault on the government of President Bashar al Assad. It is not merely about omission or biased distortion. The BBC has been caught out actually fabricating fake news in Syria, such as the case when it accused the Syrian army of using napalm on civilians near Aleppo in 2013. Those reports were later exposed as deliberate fabrications.

More generally on Syria, the BBC, as with other Western news media, are serving as facilitators of the criminal regime-change objective of their governments. May’s grotesque falsehoods reiterated this week – in a Christmas speech of all things! – about chemical weapons are afforded respectability and apparent credibility by the way the BBC and other British outlets dutifully report her words without any qualification, let alone criticism.

It is a measure of how distorted the British media landscape is when alternative news channels which do raise critical viewpoints and insights on propaganda narratives are then accused of being “imbalanced” and “in breach of broadcasting rules”.

In response to Britain’s Ofcom regulator condemning Russia’s RT and Sputnik, Moscow is now saying that its own state regulator is considering filing a case against the BBC and how it operates in Russia. Given how the BBC tried to tie Russia to instigating the Yellow Vest protests in France and how it recently ran an article accusing the Kremlin of “weaponizing satire”, there seems much more credibility to Russian claims that the “British state-backed outlet” is in breach of journalistic standards.

The broader background of how the BBC serves British state propaganda is panoramic in its scope. But such is official British hypocrisy, the authorities attack critical news outlets that happen to expose their propaganda service posing as “news you can trust”.

Free speech in Britain? Yes, as long as you freely speak in the service of British state propaganda.

December 27, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

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

By Caitlin JOHNSTONE | Medium | December 15, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As Dead as a Door Handle

By Rob Slane | The Blog Mire | December 1, 2018

One of the tell-tale signs that an action or actions are being covered up is that the explanations given for them keep shifting — basically because the ones previously given do not comport with reality. Yet with each new shift, more reality contortions are seen and more questions raised. Objective reality is a kicker, isn’t it?

This is basically what the BBC Panorama programme — Salisbury Nerve Agent Attack: the Inside Story — did. It’s account of Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey is a case in point. Let me once again state that I do not know what Mr Bailey’s role was in the events of 4th March. What I do know with absolute certainty, however, is that the account he gave on the Panorama programme was completely at odds with many previous accounts we have heard from both the media and public officials of high rank. For instance:

  • The British Prime Minister, Theresa May, stated a few days after the incident that, “In particular, my thoughts are with DS Nick Bailey, one of the first responders, who remains in a serious condition in hospital.” And the then Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, stated of Mr Bailey that he was “one of the first responders on Sunday, acting selflessly to help others.” It’s all very odd, though, since according to Mr Bailey not only was he not a first responder, he wasn’t even at the bench at the same time that the Skripals were said to be there.
  • According to media reports drawing on testimony from Mr Skripal’s neighbours, police arrived at 47 Christie Miller Road at 5pm on 4th March. I assume that they entered the property, or at least tried, as I cannot imagine they just turned up to admire the curtains. Yet according to the Panorama programme, Mr Bailey was the first official to attempt to enter the house, and this was around midnight.

Now I know that we live in days when subjective truth is trying very hard to knock objective truth off its perch, but this won’t do. A=A and A will never = non-A. If Mr Bailey was a hero first responder at the bench when the Skripals were there — as the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and other officials claimed — then he cannot not have been at the bench when the Skripals were there, can he? His being there as a first responder, and his not being there as a first responder cannot both be true, can they? Like I say, objective reality really is a kicker, and it’s clear that someone’s being economical with the actualité. And yet no one on that programme had the honour to explain why we’d been told something, and were now being told something completely incompatible.

But I want to focus on another attempt at reality bending, which the programme engaged in, and in so doing unwittingly put to rest the cornerstone of the whole Metropolitan Police and Government narrative of how the poisoning occurred. I am referring to the claim that the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal occurred at the door handle of his house. As far as I am concerned, thanks to the Panorama programme that explanation is now dead, kaput, expired, gone West, shuffled off its mortal coil, and is now pushing up the daisies to join the choir invisible. As dead as a doornail handle is an expression I might find myself using from this time forth.

How so?

Well, first let me preface my comments by stating that the explanation was already on a life support machine before the BBC came anywhere near it. Even before the programme, there were a number of absurdly improbable things that you needed to believe to accept this explanation, including:

  • That two highly trained GU assassins would walk in broad daylight down a cul-de-sac, to place the world’s most deadly chemical on the handle of a door, before going into town to do some window shopping.
  • That the house, bought for Mr Skripal by MI6, for whom he was still working, did not have CCTV installed around the front door.
  • That Sergei and Yulia Skripal were so unaffected after being contaminated by the world’s deadliest nerve agent that they went into town for a meal and a drink.
  • That they managed to contaminate a table in Zizzis to such an extent that it had to be burned, yet strangely enough they apparently didn’t contaminate other items or people they came into contact with prior to this, such as the door handle of the restaurant, the door handle of The Mill pub, and — most crucially — the three boys who fed ducks with them, despite reports that one of those boys actually took a piece of the bread from Mr Skripal’s hand and ate it.
  • That both Sergei and Yulia Skripal somehow managed to touch the outside door handle upon leaving the house — a thing so ridiculous that even the makers of the Panorama programme couldn’t bring themselves to show it in their reconstruction, instead just showing the actor playing Mr Skirpal touching it.
  • That it took investigators more than two weeks to point to the door handle as the location of the poisoning, even though Mr Bailey had visited the house, which therefore made it one of only two places where both he and the Skripals had been, and so one of only two locations where the source of the poison could have been.
  • That the Government very conveniently discovered an FSB manual, allegedly describing how nerve agent could be applied to a door handle, just prior to the door handle being claimed as the location of the poisoning.

Add to this that Panorama confirmed the Skripals were at home at the time of the alleged attack, with Mr Skripal’s car in the driveway, and I think it would take a brave or a foolish man — take your pick — to believe that the Skripals were poisoned at their door handle.

But there was much more than this. The programme decided to go overboard on certain claims about the substance used, only to then find itself with the impossible task of trying to explain why it is that we didn’t see what we should have seen if these claims are true. Here, for instance, are five claims about the toxicity of the substance in question — “Novichok” — that the programme made known to its viewers:

“It’s very unique in its ability to poison individuals at quite low concentrations.” – Porton Down Professor Tim speaking about Novichok.

“The Russians called it Novichok. Thought to be 10X more toxic than any nerve agent created before or since.” – Jane Corbin.

“To kill a person, you need only 1mg. To be sure, 2mg.” – Vil Mirzyanov, who worked on the Foliant project.

“The Russians weaponised Novichok for the battlefield. The tiniest dose can be fatal.”– Jane Corbin.

“It’s difficult to say, you know, possibly into the thousands.” – Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon when asked how many people could have been killed by the substance in the bottle.

Got that? The takeway points that the BBC wanted you to know are:

  1. “Novichok” is extraordinarily deadly.
  2. A tiny dose of just 2mg is enough to produce certain death in a person.
  3. The two suspects had enough of the substance in the bottle to kill 1,000s of people.

So let’s see how these claims stack up against what actually happened.

A crucial question to ask is how much “Novichok” was sprayed on the door handle? Since we don’t know this for certain, we are going to have to come up with a reasonable estimate, based on two things: firstly, we must give an estimate of how many miligrams of “Novichok” there is in a millilitre, and secondly how much would have been sprayed on the door handle.

On that first point, it is of course impossible to say exactly, without knowing the precise properties of the substance. However, most nerve agents have a liquid density of just over 1,000 kg/m3 (Tabun = 1,080 kg/m3; Sarin = 1,100 kg/m3; Soman = 1,020 kg/m3 ; VX = 1,008 kg/m3 (see here for details)), and so assuming that “Novichok” is somewhere in this range, and taking 1,000 kg/m3 as a conservative estimate, this would mean that in a 5.5ml bottle, there might have been as much as 5,500mg. According to Vil Mirzyanov, this is enough to potentially kill between 2,750 and 5,500 people.

As I say, these are estimates, but it does comport with Deputy Assistant Commissioner Haydon’s claim of there being enough of the substance in the bottle to kill “into the thousands”.

Next up is the question of how much “Novichok” would have been sprayed on the door handle of Mr Skripal’s house? Atomisers generally tend to spray between about 1/10th and 1/15th of a millilitre with every spray. And so even if we assume that the door handle was sprayed just once, if 1ml of the substance is approximately 1,000mg, this would mean that somewhere between 67-100mg would have been sprayed onto the door handle. Enough to kill getting on for 100 people, according to the Panorama programme.

I realise that the calculations I have given are not exact, but actually they don’t need to be. The claim that the Novichok in the bottle could have killed thousands, which was made by the Deputy Assistant Commissioner of The Met, along with the claim made by Mr Miryzanov that 2mg is enough to lead to the certain death of a person, are enough to know that the amount sprayed on the door handle would have been enough to kill dozens of people, and into the hundreds if multiple sprays were used.

But of course it didn’t. So how did the programme attempt to get around this glaring anomaly? Cue Mr Mirzyanov once again:

“Maybe the dose was not high enough. Salisbury was rainy and muggy. Novichok breaks down in damp conditions, reducing its toxicity. It’s the Achilles Heel of Novichok.”

So this is the BBC explanation — and I might add the official explanation since the programme was clearly made with the approval of the Metropolitan Police — for why this most deadly of substances did not kill the Skripals:

  1. Maybe the dose wasn’t high enough
  2. Novichok loses its toxicity in damp conditions.

Okay, let’s rip this folly to pieces once and for all.

On the first point, the idea that the dose was too low is impossible. The programme had Mr Mirzyanov assuring us that just 2mg was enough to cause certain death. But of course the amount sprayed on the handle would have been many times higher than this.

And it cannot be claimed that maybe it dripped off onto the doormat. Firstly, part of the Government’s case rests upon the Russians apparently testing “Novichok” on door handles. Well, if it was prone to drip off, do you think they wouldn’t have somehow realised this and eliminated it as a possible method? But much more crucially, Mr Skripal allegedly had enough of the substance on his hand to contaminate so many places in the city that they had to be cordoned off and closed for months. No, the “Maybe the dose wasn’t high enough” claim is utter nonsense, especially coming from Mr Mirzyanov who had already claimed that 2mg of the substance would lead to certain death.

What of that second explanation, that the “Novichok” may have lost its toxicity? Unfortunately for the weavers of the door handle yarn, there are a number of impossibly huge problems with this:

Firstly, the official claim only allows for the “Novichok” to be on the door handle between 12:10pm and 13:30pm – that is, 80 minutes maximum before the alleged contamination.

Secondly, during that time, there was no rain or snow — in fact it was fairly sunny — and so the only thing that the substance would have come into contact with was the air.

Thirdly, given that this substance, which according to the programme was developed for battlefield use, was in contact with nothing more than air for just 80 minutes, can any rational person believe that it was possible in this very short time for oxidation and hydrolysis to occur to such an extent that its toxicity went from having the potential to kill in the tens or even hundreds to killing nobody?

Fourthly, even if there had been some degradation by exposure to 80 minutes in the air(which is absurd), there would still be many milligrams of the substance remaining to kill people.

Fifthly, however according to a statement from the OPCW on 4th May no such degradation took place:

“The samples collected by the OPCW Technical Assistance Visit team concluded that the chemical substance found was of high purity, persistent and resistant to weather conditions.”

Here’s the crux of this matter: The BBC went out of its way to tell us that the substance allegedly sprayed on the door handle of Mr Skripal’s house was so deadly that it:

a) Only needed 1-2mg to kill people and that

b) There was enough in the bottle to kill thousands.

Yet, because it killed neither Sergei nor Yulia Skripal, who allegedly touched it less than an hour-and-a-half after it was applied, the programme then went out of its way to tell us that the reason for this was either:

a) The dose was too low or

b) The substance lost its toxicity due to the damp conditions

But both these explanations are not just highly improbable — they are impossible.

The dose could not have been too low, since the atomiser would clearly have sprayed far more than the 2mg apparently needed to be certain of killing a person. This is also attested by how much Mr Skripal apparently contaminated various places in Salisbury.

The substance could not have lost its toxicity in just 80 minutes in clement weather conditions, such that instead of certainly killing a person with a dose of just 1-2mg, it killed none of those who became contaminated by it. This is also attested by the OPCW claim that more than two weeks later they found a substance of “high purity” and “resistant to weather conditions”, which means that the BBC and The Met are essentially asking us to believe that the substance lost its toxicity in 80 minutes, only to regain it two weeks later.

And so having overreached themselves with the claims of the potency of the substance sprayed on the door handle, and the minuscule amount needed to kill a person, the BBC and The Met have come up with two explanations as to why these claims don’t comport with what actually happened. And yet both of these explanations are utterly impossible, and frankly utter nonsense. As I said at the start, objective reality really is a kicker, isn’t it?

I have remarked many times during these pieces that I am not indulging in some conspiracy theory here. All I have done above is taken the words and claims of certain officials, and analysed them against their own statements, or those made by other officials. And the result is that the idea that the Skripals were poisoned at the door handle of 47 Christie Miller Road by a substance called “Novichok”, which apparently only needs 1-2mg to kill one person, is shown to be an absolute impossibility. As an idea, it is done for, passed on, expired, bitten the dust and bought the farm. As dead as a door handle.

December 1, 2018 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism | , | 1 Comment

Thanks to the BBC Propaganda Show, the Plausibility of the Door Handle Theory Just Plummeted to Freezing Point

By Rob Slane | The Blog Mire | November 25, 2018

Having now watched the rest of the BBC Panorama programme, Salisbury Nerve Agent Attack – the Inside Story, I have to say that I’m really very thankful. Thankful that after being subjected to an hour of what can only be described as relentless propaganda, half-baked truths, and fully-baked untruths, I have lived to tell the tale and emerged to come up for air.

One of the worst aspects of this programme was the fact that the BBC is surely well aware that large numbers of people have been sceptical about the Government and Metropolitan Police narrative from the start. Yet you wouldn’t know from the show that there was ever any room for doubt, and the number of questions that the nation’s public service broadcaster asked which might have represented the views of the many people who have had nagging doubts was less than one.

I want to make one big observation about the programme, which I believe pretty much destroys The Met’s narrative, but before I do here are 10 other points.

First: At one point the presenter, Jane Corbin, stated the following:

“In Salisbury, it takes two weeks of painstaking investigation for scientists and police to work out exactly how the Skripals came into contact with the Novichok.”

Dept Asst Commissioner Dean Haydon is then seen saying:

“To find the source of the Novichok, actually was our first breakthrough. We identified that it was Novichok on the front door the front door handle of their home address.”

This two week period makes little sense. From the moment it was known that Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey had been poisoned, it should have been very straightforward to start zeroing in on the location of the poisoning. The reason for this is that logically it could only have been in a place that both he and the Skripals had been. And according to Mr Bailey’s story, which was completely different than what many officials previously told us about his movements, this can only have been at the house (not even the bench according to his testimony, as he now apparently wasn’t there when the Skripals were). And so the house should have been locked down, with swabs taken as early as 6th March, and the location of the poison identified. But instead, we got two weeks of “it could be here, it could be there” — all in various places which couldn’t possibly have been the location because Mr Bailey hadn’t actually been to them.

Second: Despite the fact that the programme portrayed “Novichok” as “deadly,” “lethal,” “10X more toxic than any nerve agent created before or since,” “unique in its ability to poison individuals at quite low concentrations,” “the tiniest dose can be fatal,” there is of course the fact that it singularly failed to kill a 65-year-old, overweight diabetic, his daughter, and Mr Bailey. In order to get around this, Mrs Corbin interviewed one of the men who worked on the original Foliant (not “Novichok”) project, Vil Mirzyanov, who said:

“Maybe the dose was not high enough. Salisbury was rainy and muggy. Novichok breaks down in damp conditions, reducing its toxicity. It’s the Achilles Heel of Novichok.”

Perhaps it is the Achilles Heel of Novichok. But if it is, it is also the Achilles Heel of the whole premise of the Panorama programme, since it raises two vital questions: firstly, given that the English weather in general is often damp, and the weather conditions on that weekend in particular were very damp, how likely exactly do you think it is that professional assassins would place a substance that breaks down in damp conditions on an outside door handle? And secondly, if the substance had already broken down within an hour of its application, as The Met’s case relies on to explain how a deadly nerve agent didn’t kill, how exactly were the OPCW able to find traces of the toxic chemical which they described as high purity and with “almost complete absence of impurities,” nearly three weeks later after much rain, much snow, and much general dampness?

Third: I was struck by the fact that Mrs Corbin stood by the bed of Mr Skripal’s mother, and heard that clearly very distressed lady say that she just wanted to hear her son’s voice, and yet it did not appear to occur to Mrs Corbin to ask anyone in officialdom back home, “Why won’t you let the son talk to his mother?”

Fourth: Mrs Corbin claimed of Yulia Skripal that in her Reuters statement, she:

“appears in public, to deny continuing Russian claims that the Skripals have been abducted by the British.”

This is simply a falsehood. You can look at that video or the transcript and you will find no such statement from Yulia Skripal.

Fifth: The ex head of MI6, Sir John Sawers, who in the immortal words of Anne Widdecombe about Michael Howard, appears to have “something of the night” about him, stated the following:

“The GRU probably chose a time when she [Yulia] was coming here and would be in the house, because that would give them certainty that Sergei Skripal would be in the house as well. They weren’t targeting Yulia Skripal, but she was entirely dispensable.”

The first part of this statement may well win the prize for the most ridiculous statement of the whole programme. I’ll leave you to work out why. As for the second part, in the light of his comments, Sir John should explain the following: If it’s the case that the GRU carried out this reckless attempt on her father’s life, and viewed her as entirely dispensable, why is it that Yulia has, on numerous occasions, expressed a desire to go back to live in Russia? Has MI6 failed in its attempt to persuade her who was behind the poisoning and why this means she can never go back?

Sixth: A reconstruction of the alleged events on 4th March was shown, including the two suspects at Salisbury train station, followed by  the Wilton Road, and then on the bridge at Fisherton Street. This was accompanied by a comment from Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, who said:

“I don’t think they were expecting to be captured on CCTV in the way they have.”

Here, he was seemingly vying with Sir John for the title of silliest comment on the programme, since:

a) Britain is well known for being the CCTV capital of the world, and the GRU are likely to be aware of this, and

b) It’s not like Petrov and Boshirov made attempts not to be seen, but got caught all the same, as Mr Haydon’s comment implies. No, the most obvious point about the men in the footage is that at no point do they make any attempt to keep their identities hid from the cameras.

Seventh: Mr Haydon also made the following comment during the “reconstruction”:

“Past the petrol station, what the CCTV shows is the two suspects on the way to Christie Miller Road. On the way to the Skripals home.”

This is simply misleading. The CCTV does not show them “on their way to Christie Miller Road”. When you see the two men walking next to the garage, Christie Miller Road is roughly perpendicular to them, about 400-500 yards away. It is true that they might have crossed the road and gone up Canadian Avenue, and then onto Christie Miller Road, but this CCTV doesn’t show this, and no other evidence was presented to show that this is what they actually did. And so without any further evidence that they crossed the road to go to Christie Miller Road, it is simply misleading to say that it “shows them on the way to Christie Miller Road.”

What the CCTV does do, however, is almost certainly rule out one of the possible routes they might have taken to get to Christie Miller Road, which is to go through a passageway just past the Shell garage, which leads to Montgomery Gardens and then onto Christie Miller Road. To take this passage, they would have had to cross the road, and the easiest way of doing this would be to cross to a small island just opposite the garage. But as you can see from the footage, they are walking straight on, and there is no sign whatsoever of them crossing to this island. Though not conclusive, it makes it extremely doubtful that they were intending to, or ever did, walk through this passage.

I also have to say that if I was walking that way up Wilton Road (as I have done), and wanted to go up Canadian Avenue, I would cross at that small island, since it is by far the easiest way to get there.

Eighth: One of the more glaring things about the programme was who was missing. Although Mr Bailey’s appearance was something of a surprise, hardly any of the key witnesses at the bench were interviewed, nor was Charlie Rowley, who seems to have disappeared after his claim about the bottle he found being cellophane wrapped kind of muddled things up a bit. And then of course Yulia Skripal, who has been mysteriously silent since July, when she informed her cousin that she finally understood what had happened. And the biggest one of all — Sergei Skripal himself. Strangely, Mrs Corbin expressed no surprise that he has not been seen of or heard of during this whole saga, and she made no reasonable attempt to explain why she had not been given access to him for an interview.

Ninth: Mrs Corbin asserted the following:

“Within a few weeks, the investigative website, Bellingcat, reveals their [Petrov and Boshirov] true identities.”

The odd thing about this, however, is that in their latest statement released on 22nd November, The Met does not mention the identities Bellingcat has claimed for them. They still refer to the two as Petrov and Boshirov, and although they state that these are aliases, they make no mention of the names Chepiga and Mishkin. I find it odd that these identities have yet to be confirmed or denied officially, but even odder that the BBC went with Bellingcat and not the official investigators.

Tenth: Deputy Assistant Commissioner Haydon stated the following:

“My ambition remains to bring these two individuals, and anybody else involved in this attack to justice through the British Criminal Justice System. I will not give up.”

Very difficult to stop oneself bursting out laughing at this point. There was Mr Haydon, taking part in a programme that, with its cast iron claims of guilt against the two suspects making it absolutely impossible for a fair trial to ever take place, saying that his aim is to see justice done. Hmm!!!

Now to the big revelation in the programme — the one that made it worth watching. This was it, from Mrs Corbin, describing the reconstruction of the moment that the two suspects went to the house:

“The Skripals are at home, oblivious to what is happening right outside.”

Aha! So they were at home were they? Since this programme was put together with the assistance of The Metropolitan Police, we can therefore assume that it is their official position that the Skripals were at home at 12:00pm and following, before they left some time around 13:30 to go to the City Centre.

There are many interesting things about this, not least of which is that it’s the first time that we have been officially told where the Skripals were before they went into town. In the early days of the inquiry, a few appeals were made for information as to what the pair were doing that morning, before their car was seen driving into town at just after 13:30. But that timeline was never completed, and quietly forgotten after the last update, which was on 17th March (last time I looked, even this incomplete timeline was no longer on their website).

So why did the Met, for the first time, come out with this piece of information, and what is its significance?

On the first question, my hunch is that the answer is connected with Mr Skripal’s best friend, Ross Cassidy. Here’s an extract from an article that appeared in the Mail, just after the police released their timeline of the two suspects back in September:

“Police say Novichok was sprayed on to the front door handle of the Skripal’s house the following afternoon between midday and about 1pm. Sergei and Yulia became ill around three hours later.

But Mr Cassidy questions the police timeline. It is his understanding that Sergei and Yulia were at home until 1pm. And he said Mr Skripal’s ‘heightened state of awareness’ would have frustrated any attack in broad daylight.”

I believe that Mr Cassidy put a bit of a spanner in the works of the Met’s claims with this interview. As I stated back here:

“For the claims of the Metropolitan Police to be true, that these two men were the assassins and that they placed “Novichok” on Mr Skripal’s door handle, two things must be shown to be true:

Firstly, the Skripals must have been out between the hours of 12:10 and 13:30.

Secondly, the Skripals must have returned at some point between these two times.

Why so?

Firstly, if the Skripal’s were at home before 12:10, the claims collapse since firstly the “assassins” would almost certainly not have targeted them whilst they were at home (Mr Skripal’s garage was used as an office, and so the car would be in the drive), but more crucially both Sergei and Yulia could not have both touched the outside door handle.

Secondly, if the Skripals were out at 12:10, but did not return between then and 13:30, again the claims would be proven false since there would be no possible way that they could have touched the door handle.”

Yet because Mr Cassidy somehow knew that they were in between 12:00 and 13:00, the BBC could hardly come out on a programme going out to millions and say that they were not there at the time. Why, Mr Cassidy and perhaps some neighbours might have popped up to say that actually they were in. How embarrassing would that be?

To get around this, the BBC employed what you might call a little craft. Prior to the reconstruction section, Mrs Corbin made the following statement, after talking about Yulia leaving Moscow:

“In Salisbury, her father has no idea how much danger he is in.”

But this is yet another of the programme’s many deceptions. Numerous reports stated that in the weeks prior to the incident, Mr Skripal began to get very nervous and to even change his routine. Apparently, he very much knew that he was in danger, and we can see this very clearly by once again turning to the interview with Ross Cassidy:

“Sergei was very apprehensive. It was as though he knew something was up. Had he been tipped off or heard that things were moving against him back in Russia? One thing is for sure. He was unusually twitchy. He was spooked …

Something had spooked Sergei in the weeks prior to the attack. He was twitchy, I don’t know why, and he even changed his mobile phone.”

You might say the precise timings [about when the alleged door handle daubing took place] don’t matter. But they do matter because they don’t currently make sense.’”

He’s dead right, they don’t make sense. All the more so when you consider what he had to say about the possibility of a daylight assassination with the Skripals at home:

“However, I was surprised that they said the Novichok was placed on the Sunday lunchtime. I have always thought it was placed on the Saturday afternoon when we were collecting Yulia from Heathrow, or even Saturday night. These guys are professional assassins. It would have been far too brazen for them to have walked down a dead-end cul-de-sac in broad daylight on a Sunday lunchtime. Sergei’s house faces up the cul-de-sac. He had a converted garage that he used as his office — this gives a full view of the street. Almost always, Sergei used to open the door to us before we had chance to knock. Whenever we visited, he’d see us approaching [my emphasis].”

So even under normal circumstances, because of the position of the house, Mr Skripal would see people approaching. But factor in that Mr Skripal was “very apprehensive,” “unusually twitchy,” “spooked,” “knew something was up,” and “even changed his mobile phone,” and now ask yourself these three questions:

1. What are the chances that two people could have walked up to Mr Skripal’s house, in broad daylight, gone right up to the door, whilst the “twitchy” Mr Skripal and his daughter were inside, and sprayed a chemical on the handle, without being noticed?

2. What are the chances that two highly trained GRU assassins would walk up to a door in broad daylight, with people inside the house, and the car in the drive, and spray a chemical which breaks down in damp conditions, onto the door handle in damp conditions, in order to try to kill one of the occupants (apart from anything, the driver car door handle would have been far more targeted)?

3. And if either of these ridiculously implausible scenarios had hypothetically happened, what are the chances that both of them would have come out of the house and touched the door handle, in order to have got said chemical on their hands?

This, in my view, is the significance of the admission, for the very first time, that the Skripals were at home when the suspects were alleged to have done their deed. This was the real big takeaway from this programme. What it does is effectively relegates the door handle theory to the realm of “crackpot conspiracy theories not to be believed by rational people”. The chances of it happening were already low, given that the Skripals went for a drive, a duck feed, a meal and a drink after apparently becoming contaminated. I would say that, thanks to this BBC propaganda show, its plausibility as an explanation just plummeted even further, all the way to freezing point.

November 24, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 1 Comment

UK Provided ‘Extremely Flimsy’ Evidence in Skripal Poisoning Case – Journalist

Sputnik – November 24, 2018

Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, one of the first people to be hospitalized in the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia in Salisbury in March, has given his first-ever interview to the BBC Panorama programme.

In the interview, which aired on Thursday evening, Bailey says he was contaminated by the poison as he inspected the Skripals house, after they were found ill on a park bench in Salisbury city centre.

The British government and media were quick to blame the Russian state for the poisonings of Yulia and Sergei, declaring that the substance was the nerve agent a-234, or ‘novichok’ which had been smeared on the door handle of the Skripals’ house by two Russian military intelligence officers.

The two suspects’ identities were later put forward by the blogger website Bellingcat, which British state broadcaster the BBC widely promoted.However for some, there are still many questions remaining in the British version of the Skripal case. Columnist for the Independent and Guardian newspapers, Mary Dejevsky spoke to Sputnik about her reservations with the British media’s representation and analysis of the Skripal case.

Sputnik: Mary you tweeted recently that the BBC Panorama programme aired on Thursday night and showing an interview with Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey was ‘close to propaganda’; what made you say that?

Mary Dejevsky: Although the UK doesn’t have a state television service, this came pretty close.

My particular problem with this programme was that it posed none of the questions that have been hanging in the air ever since the attack on the Skripals in Salisbury happened back in March.

There are an awful lot of questions that are open; there is a lot of the official version put out by the government which has been challenged, and rightly challenged because there are huge questions. But the programme on the BBC posed none of these questions.

Sputnik: Why do you think it is that there has been no real analysis from British mainstream media of the Skripal case?

Mary Dejevsky: Even when there was the death of Alexander Litvinenko there were a few people that were actually questioning the official version and it wasn’t really until after the enquiry that a lot of the questions closed down.But with the Skripal case it seems to me that there has been an extraordinary consensus from the very beginning. One of the reasons I think is that the government seemed so certain about its case, and supposedly they presented evidence which mobilized this international diplomatic action where there was coordination of countries expelling Russian diplomats who were, it was claimed, working undercover – undeclared members of the Russian security services – working under diplomatic cover.

Now it’s not clear to me because I think there have been reports from Germany for instance that there was no additional evidence provided by Britain other than what they presented to parliament which was extremely flimsy.

Sputnik: What questions remain unanswered in the Skripal case?

Mary Dejevsky: There are dozens of questions. One of the most obvious is that the CCTV footage of the two alleged GRU agents going from London to Salisbury and back again twice is highly selective.

We have no CCTV footage that’s been made public of the Skripals in central Salisbury that day, even though it is apparently known that the CCTV cameras were working efficiently across Salisbury that day. We were told that the two Russian agents went to the Skripals’ house and put novichok on the door handle.The only CCTV footage that has been produced of the two has been, at the closest, half a kilometer away from the Skripals’ house. There is enormous questions, in my view, about the whole version of whether novichok or anything was put on the door handle of the Skripals’ house.

How come that they apparently went in and out of the house, it’s not clear at what times, but how come they were apparently found together collapsed on a bench several hours later as the victims of what was supposed to be a potentially fatal substance that could kill anyone that went near it, in minutes?

Sputnik: A letter was written to The Times on 14th March by Dr Stephen Davies, consultant in Emergency Medicine at Salisbury hospital, saying ‘May I clarify that no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve agent in Salisbury, and there have only been three patients with significant poisoning’ – this really is a discrepancy in the story is it not?

Mary Dejevsky: Yes, this has always been in the background in this story, this letter that was published in The Times that denied that anyone was treated for nerve agent poisoning, and there have been various suggested explanations given since, including that when they were taken to hospital they had symptoms of fentanyl poisoning, not nerve agent poisoning, and that this explains the doctor’s letter.And there have been various attempts to square the circle, but to my mind none of them has been entirely convincing. We also have the question of the chemical weapons’ agency’s findings and whether the substance that the OPCW agency tested was actually the substance that the Skripals were poisoned with.

It doesn’t appear that there is a completely secure chain of evidence from as it were, start to finish, that nothing might have sort of inserted into the process. So there are all these questions and none of them were asked on the BBC programme.

November 24, 2018 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 1 Comment

Trial by Propaganda

By Rob Slane | The Blog Mire | November 23, 2018

I mentioned in a couple of comments yesterday that I don’t own a television. In fact, I haven’t had one since 2001. To begin with it’s hard, but if you stick with it you very soon come to see it as remarkably odd that you’ve spent a significant amount of your time sitting in front of a box, wondering if there’s anything on, and still watching it even if there isn’t, and letting other people drip their agenda and propaganda into your head night after night, through perhaps the most powerful medium ever created.

The downside is of course that there are sometimes things that are worth watching. I’m not that into football, but I quite fancied watching some World Cup games with my children this summer. But not having a TV or a licence I had to resort to watching the games broadcast on some dodgy website direct from Kazakhstan. So there is that.

But by and large the plusses far outweigh the minuses, one of which is the fact that I don’t have to hand over a penny of cash to an institution I have come to loathe — the BBC. But perhaps the biggest plus is that when I do get to watch a programme — especially a documentary on some political or social issue —  I find that I’m better able to spot propaganda than I ever would have done had I been immersed in TV culture on a regular basis.

And so it was with the BBC’s Panorama programme. I’ve only managed to watch the first 20 minutes so far, and so I’m only able to comment on that (my thanks to David S for uploading it to YouTube). But what I’ve seen so far is one of the best — or worst depending on how you look at these things — examples of political propaganda I’ve seen in a long time.

There was of course lots of creepy music. There were of course no dissident voices. There were of course no difficult questions put to those in charge of an operation which has seen the narrative changing on a regular basis, and not making any more sense despite the changes.

Why, if the boot had been on the other foot, so to speak, and this sort of thing had been put out by Russian state television, I would find it hard to know whether to laugh or cry at it. But the one thing I would be certain of is that it was clear evidence that that country was slipping back into the dark days of Soviet propaganda, only using modern technology to make it all feel a lot more cool and spangly.

Let me say firstly that the worst thing by a country mile in the section I’ve watched so far came right at the very beginning, where the presenter, Jane Corbin, made the following statement:

“Now, moving images, never seen before of the Russian assassins just after the attack [my emphasis].”

I don’t know whether Mrs Corbin has any idea of what she just did, or whether she even cares, but in one foul swoop she completely undermined the concepts of due process, and innocent until proven guilty, and she also made it impossible for the two suspects to ever receive a fair trial, were it ever to come to that.

This is really bad. No, it’s worse than that: it’s really, really, stonkingly terribly bad. On the same day as the Panorama programme, The Metropolitan Police released CCTV footage of the men from 4th March, and the header at the top of their statement says, “Counter Terrorism Police continue appeal over Salisbury suspects [my emphasis].” In the statement itself they refer to the two men, Petrov and Boshirov, no less than five times using the word “suspects”. Yet the national broadcaster has just informed the populace that they are not suspects in an investigation, but assassins. Case closed by the Bellingcat Broadcasting Corporation?

It was basically this issue that got my goat about this case in the first place. The fact that the British Government came out and made pronouncements about what had happened, before an investigation had really properly started, literally tore up hundreds of years of English common law and indicated to me that we really are heading towards arbitrary, tyrannical Government. The fact that the BBC has now come out and pronounced authoritatively on a case that is still ongoing, where no facts whatsoever have been proven in open court, only serves to reinforce this view.

It seems that we need reminding of the following: it really doesn’t matter two hoots what our views are of what happened on 4th March in Salisbury, or whether we think that Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov were responsible, the principles of due process and the presumption of innocence, which were enshrined by people immensely wiser than our current foolish generation of leaders, still apply. They must apply, else we are done for. But the Government doesn’t seem to care about that. And the BBC doesn’t seem to care about it either. Do you?

As for the actual details of the programme, just two observations, and then maybe some more in another piece once I’ve had time to look at the rest of it.

Firstly, it seems to me that the programme contained an astonishingly glaring contrast between what we are supposed to believe about the substance apparently used, and what actually happened. Here are some quotes the programme put out about the substance itself:

“It’s very unique in its ability to poison individuals at quite low concentrations.” – Porton Down Professor Tim speaking about Novichok.

“The Russians called it Novichok. Thought to be 10X more toxic than any nerve agent created before or since.” – Jane Corbin.

“To kill a person, you need only 1mg. To be sure, 2mg.” – Vil Mirzyanov, who worked on the Foliant project.

“The person starts to go blind, that’s the first sign. The second is difficulty breathing, even to the point that they stop breathing. The third sign is constant vomiting. The fourth, uncontrollable convulsions.” – Vil Mirzyanov, on the effects of “Novichok”.

“The Russians weaponised Novichok for the battlefield. The tiniest dose can be fatal.”– Jane Corbin.

It’s like they had to keep reminding us of just how deadly the substance is. But if it is unique in its ability to poison individuals at quite low concentrations, if it is 10X more toxic than the next deadliest nerve agent, and if the tiniest dose can be fatal why — a reasonably person might ask — are the Skripals and Nick Bailey still alive? Why is the BBC reinforcing to us just how deadly a substance it is, then in the next breath telling us all about the 65-year-old diabetic who survived, even though he must have got much more than a tiny dose, since he apparently left trails of it all over the City (though interestingly, not at the duck feed, the car park meter, or the door handles at Zizzis and The Mill). And I’m afraid that the explanation of “excellent medical care will not do.” By their own admission, the hospital staff did not know how to treat it for a long while after the poisoning. And so either “Novichok” is not as deadly as they kept making out on the programme. Or “Novichok” was not used. Simple as that. But you can’t have it both ways. If you can square that particular circle, good luck. There’s a highly paid job out there for you somewhere.

The other huge anomaly was of course the movements of Nick Bailey. The account that he and a colleague went to 47 Christie Miller Road at about midnight raises some huge questions, not least because it flatly contradicts numerous previous reports. Very briefly, here are some questions that arise from what was said:

1. Many of the first reports said he was a first responder to the Skripals, but from his account on the BBC programme, I got the impression that he arrived at the bench after the Skripals had already been taken to hospital. Why then was he named as the hero cop who went to help the Skripals if he did not do this?

2. He states at one point that, “There was nothing lying near the bench”. This is a bit strange as Freya Church mentioned that both Mr Skripal and Yulia had bags with them next to the bench when she saw them. What had happened to these bags before Mr Bailey got there, and was the person who removed them also taken to Salisbury District Hospital (SDH) for tests?

3. He says that he and a colleague went to the house wearing “full protective suits.” How, then, could he have become contaminated at the house?

4. According to the report, Mr Bailey and his colleague went to 47 Christie Miller Road at around midnight on 4th March. Since their visit must have been known by his seniors, why did it take until 9th March before any news of his visit to the house was made public (by a man not even part of the investigation – former Met Commissioner, Lord Ian Blair)?

5. Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu claimed that Mr Bailey had worn a body camera when he went to the house. Why did the BBC not show this footage, but instead did their own reconstruction?

6. In his book, the BBC’s Mark Urban stated that Mr Bailey couldn’t get in the front door, and so went around the back. The programme directly contradicted this. Which one is correct?

7. Mr Bailey states that:

“Once I’d come back from the house, the Skripals house, my eyes were like … my pupils were like pinpricks, and I was quite sweaty and hot. At the time I put that down to being tired and stressed.”

But according to the programme, it was not until the Tuesday, well over 24 hours later, that he was apparently driven to SDH. How on earth could it have taken that time for him or his superiors to put two and two together, since the whole point in him doing the search and wearing the forensic suit was because it was known by that time that an unknown chemical had been used?

8. The claim that Mr Bailey was first at the house, and that this was at midnight flatly contradicts the testimony of a number of Mr Skripal’s neighbours. For instance, the Salisbury Journal reported the following on 5th March:

“Police arrived at Skripal’s home in Christie Miller Road, Salisbury, yesterday at 5pm, according to neighbours.”

And The Mirror said this:

“Neighbours say police have been at the ex-spy’s home since 5pm that day.”

If the lights are still on at either publication, perhaps the journalists who wrote those pieces might want to take it up with the BBC. And if the lights are still on in the country, perhaps we might want to reflect on whether it really is a very good idea to give up our precious legal safeguards, like due process, the presumption of innocence, and trial by jury, in favour of what we now appear to have, which is basically Trial by Propaganda.

November 23, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

How Elites Use Mainstream Media to ‘Maintain and Expand Their Power’

By Kit Klarenberg – Sputnik – November 16, 2018

For quite some time, debate about ‘fake news’ has reverberated clamorously in both mainstream and alternative discourse. One could easily conclude the issue was a pressingly new plague, restricted to certain corners of the web – but academic TJ Coles begs to differ. In fact, he tells Sputnik fake news has been ubiquitous for thousands of years.

It’s difficult to pinpoint the precise moment the term ‘fake news’ entered the Western political and media lexicon, but the election of Donald Trump as US President certainly turbocharged its usage. For the controversial leader and his supporters, the label can be automatically applied to any and all media reporting critical of him, while his opponents play much the same game when roles are reversed.

This tit-for-tat sparring inspired TJ, director of Plymouth University’s Institute for Peace Research, to write a book on the subject — the fruit of his labours, Real Fake News: Techniques of Propaganda and Deception-based Mind Control, was published in September.

“All that talk made me think ‘hang on a minute, we’ve always had fake news’. It’s the nature of power — all power structures want to maintain and expand their power, so it’s therefore important to present information that benefits them, and keeps populations in a psychological and/or intellectual prison. The ‘fake news’ peddled by elite financial, commercial and political financial interests, duly regurgitated by major media organizations, eclipses any bogus story perpetuated by alleged ‘bots’ on Twitter, or whatever,” TJ says.

Babylonian Beginnings

In his work, TJ traces the birth of fake news all the way back to ancient Babylon, when rulers sought to perpetuate the notion they were descended from Gods and thus had a right to dominate and control the populace — history’s first recorded instance of the ‘divine right of kings’.

Similarly, Plato famously popularized the idea of the ‘noble lie’ — privileging untruths told for the benefit of elites and the population alike. These ideas very much endure in the modern day — TJ notes Wikileaks’ dump of the Clinton campaign’s internal emails amply demonstrates her team felt it wouldn’t be good, or necessary, for Hillary’s supporters to be aware of her close connections to Wall Street, so did their utmost to conceal the mephitic kinship.

“Elites the world over are acutely aware information is power, and actually quite open about their use and abuse of the news to shape public perceptions and preserve sociopolitical conditions benefitting them. For instance, the UK Ministry of Defence regularly publishes projections of how planners think the world will look in 10 — 20 years, and they routinely note the media is one of the key ways to maintain the current paradigm, and discuss the various ways information can be ‘weaponized’ against the public,” he says.

TJ suggests elites shape and control the public mind so effectively because they exploit fundamental facets of human nature. First, the well-established instinctive inclination to reflexively believe something reinforcing one’s existing beliefs, rather than assessing whether alternative facts or viewpoints have any value, or indeed considering whether what one believes might be wrong, or informed by confirmation bias.

This tendency is greatly exacerbated by the use of internet and social media algorithms that present a ‘personalized’ picture of the world to users, unfailingly presenting individuals with content they want to see, and tacitly suppressing information contrary to their existing opinions.

“Elites also know how easy it is to exploit guilt, which is why atrocity propaganda is so widespread today. Most sympathize with the victims of major atrocities, and naturally want to do something to help, so this aspect of human nature can be easily manipulated to justify aggressive foreign policy actions — ‘look at what we’re letting happen to poor defenceless people, we have a responsibility to protect them’ etcetera. It’s funny, when it comes to the economy, the powerful are quick to say people are naturally selfish, so it’s everyone for themselves, but when it comes to foreign policy, we should care about our fellow human beings and do something to help,” TJ says.

Evidence

As the academic’s work makes clear, atrocity propaganda doesn’t even need to have any grounding in reality whatsoever. In the lead-up to the NATO-backed violent overthrow of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, the mainstream media was awash with reports government forces fuelled by viagra were conducting mass rapes of civilians, and planning a borderline genocidal massacre of rebel forces — claims used to justify the imposition of a no-fly zone over the country, and NATO airstrikes.

The stories were subsequently found to be entirely without foundation — similarly, serious question marks hover over the veracity of numerous claimed chemical weapons attacks in Syria, which likewise have provided a pretext for Western attacks on the country.

Muammar Gaddafi

© Flickr / Thierry Ehrmann

“It’s especially easy to exploit guilt when you present bite-sized news reports about an atrocious event stripped of all context, and exclude the voices of people who are actually on the ground. Occasionally, contradictory voices do filter through the system, although largely by accident. For instance, the BBC made the mistake of inviting Peter Ford, former UK ambassador to Syria, on air to discuss chemical weapons attacks — he quickly demolished their propaganda. He hasn’t been invited back since,” TJ says.

Ford is surely but one of a great many talking heads to effectively be banned from appearing on the BBC for daring to state views and evidence contrary to ascendant elite narratives. However, the British state broadcaster’s blacklisting activities also extend to its own employees — in April 2018, the BBC admitted that for decades, job applicants and serving staff were subject to political vetting by MI5, in an effort to prevent “subversives” gaining employment with the Corporation.

Often, individuals were ostracized on extremely tenuous grounds. For instance, respected film director John Goldschmidt was blacklisted in the late 1960s, with two projects he was working on for the Beeb cancelled midway through production without warning or explanation — MI5 deemed him a potential subversive as he’d spent a few weeks in Czechoslovakia in his youth, as part of a student exchange program. Similarly, award-winning journalist Isabel Hilton was refused a job by BBC Scotland in 1976 — that she spoke Chinese and had been a member of Scottish China Association at Edinburgh University made MI5 extremely anxious.

Under the policy, popular children’s book author and playwright Michael Rosen was also outright sacked from the BBC in 1972 while a graduate trainee for a number of ‘transgressions’, including student activism at Oxford, and producing a film featuring clips of US soldiers being tested with LSD. The American Embassy in London complained about the project to both MI5 and the BBC directly, whereupon Rosen was shown the door.The policy was wound down in the 1990s, and it’s unknown whether any comparable structures existed at other major news organizations — although City University research suggests dissenting voices remain rare in the British mainstream media. The 2016 study concluded UK journalists are overwhelmingly white, male, and elite-university educated — and are far more trusting of politicians, the government, police and military than the general population, which the study’s authors partly attributed to reporters’ “reliance on these institutions as sources of information”.

Such widespread faith in the establishment may account for why so many prominent reporters see no problem with maintaining close relationships with the intelligence services. The Guardian’s Luke Harding has frequently, openly and proudly advertised his warm bond with British spying agencies in articles and books — and equally frequently been condemned for uncritically running stories of questionable probity potentially provided to him by agency staff. In a September article he claimed Russian diplomats had held secret talks in London with associates of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, in an attempt to assist in his escape from the UK. The covert action would’ve allegedly seen Assange smuggled out of the Ecuadorian embassy in Knightsbridge under cover of Christmas Eve in a diplomatic vehicle and transported to Moscow.

The story was entirely based on the testimony of anonymous sources, the identity of which Harding didn’t even hint at in the piece. In response, Craig Murray, former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan, slammed the article, calling it a “quite extraordinary set of deliberate lies” and “entirely black propaganda” published by an “MI6 tool”.”I was closely involved with Julian and with Fidel Narvaez of the Ecuadorean Embassy at the end of last year in discussing possible future destinations for Julian. It is not only the case Russia did not figure in those plans, it is a fact Julian directly ruled out the possibility as undesirable. The entire story is a complete and utter fabrication. It is very serious indeed when a newspaper like the Guardian prints a tissue of deliberate lies in order to spread fake news on behalf of the security services. I cannot find words eloquent enough to express the depth of my contempt for Harding and Katherine Viner, who have betrayed completely the values of journalism,” Murray wrote.

Similarly, in 2007 the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran published an analysis of 44 articles written by Daily Telegraph Defence Editor Con Couglin on Iran — including stories suggesting North Korea was helping Iran prepare a nuclear weapons test, and Iran was grooming Bin Laden’s successor. They found the pieces almost invariably; were based on “unnamed or untraceable” sources in intelligence agencies or the UK Foreign Office and “published at sensitive and delicate times” when there’d been “relatively positive diplomatic moves” towards Iran; contained ‘exclusive revelations’ about Iran combined with eye-catchingly controversial headlines, which were typically drawn from a single sentence in the wider article.

Prison Break

Despite his bleak analysis, TJ does not view the elite monopoly on information as insurmountable, or invincible — there’s much individuals and groups can do to shatter the stranglehold.

“People should keep a keen eye on sources that analyse news reporting and misreporting, such as Glasgow University Media Group and MediaLens, which offer alternative information and tell you what media coverage is actively omitting from the real story. However, change must come from within too — people should divorce themselves from preconceptions, and question their beliefs wherever and whenever possible. When presented with information that doesn’t conform to our predispositions, we should ask ourselves whether it’s true, rather than reflexively dismissing it outright,” TJ says.

While having less trust in the media more generally is a must, the academic also warns against placing too much faith in alternative news outlets and social networks, despite them being valuable resources with a significant positive potential.

“Independent media is growing in size and strength, but its overall reach is still relatively tiny — while print circulation is obviously down, people still get the vast bulk of their information from mainstream outlets. Similarly, social media could’ve democratized the spread of information, but it hasn’t — and in fact any such potential has probably been permanently neutered by the proliferation of ‘fact-checking’ resources, which are anything but unbiased and disinterested arbiters of truth,” TJ notes.

One-such ‘fact-checker’ is the Atlantic Council, a NATO-offshoot with a board of directors comprised of a ‘who’s who’ of contentious US political figures, including Henry Kissinger, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Robert Gates, Michael Hayden and David Petraeus, among others.

It partnered with Facebook in May to “independently monitor disinformation and other vulnerabilities” and combat the spread of fake news on the platform. To date, the collaboration has resulted in untold hundreds of pages and personal accounts being shut down — rather than being promulgators of propaganda though, the overwhelming bulk of the banished were alternative news sources, political organizations and individuals, highlighting issues and events the mainstream media downplays or ignores, such as US interventionism, drug legalization and police brutality.

Moreover, that elites exploit social media’s information-sharing capabilities to suit their own objectives is well-established.”The US State Department has used major social networks to recruit revolutionaries on several occasions, most notably during the ‘Arab Spring’, connecting ‘moderate rebels’ — actually violent jihadist lunatics — in select countries. Washington wanted Assad, Gaddafi and Mubarak gone, because they weren’t following orders — but there were no Twitter or Facebook ‘revolutions’ in the Gulf states, because the American empire wanted their rulers to remain in place. In Cuba, the CIA even went as far as creating a social network for the same purpose,” TJ concludes.

November 16, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Migration of the Skeptic

qedcon | October 16, 2018

Naturalist Sir David Attenborough definitely presents this short documentary on the migration of the Skeptic. This spoof was originally used to open QED 2018.

Written by Matt White, Michael Marshall, and Mike Hall
Directed by Matt White
Edited by Deniz Kavalali
VFX by Joe Pavlo
Audio post-production by Offset Audio
Featuring Adam Diggle as the voice of Sir David Attenborough

November 12, 2018 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | 1 Comment

News Media Gave Blanket Coverage To Flawed Climate Paper

Global Warming Policy Forum – 07/11/18

A week ago, we were told that climate change was worse than we thought. But the underlying science contains a major error.

Independent climate scientist Nicholas Lewis has uncovered a major error in a recent scientific paper that was given blanket coverage in the English-speaking media. The paper, written by a team led by Princeton oceanographer Laure Resplandy, claimed that the oceans have been warming faster than previously thought. It was announced, in news outlets including the BBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post and Scientific American that this meant that the Earth may warm even faster than currently estimated.

However Lewis, who has authored several peer-reviewed papers on the question of climate sensitivity and has worked with some of the world’s leading climate scientists, has found that the warming trend in the Resplandy paper differs from that calculated from the underlying data included with the paper.

“If you calculate the trend correctly, the warming rate is not worse than we thought – it’s very much in line with previous estimates,” says Lewis.

In fact, says Lewis, some of the other claims made in the paper and reported by the media, are wrong too.

“Their claims about the effect of faster ocean warming on estimates of climate sensitivity (and hence future global warming) and carbon budgets are just incorrect anyway, but that’s a moot point now we know that about their calculation error”.

And now that the errors have been uncovered, Lewis points out that it is important that the record is corrected.

“The original findings of the Resplandy paper were given blanket coverage by the media, who rarely question hyped-up findings of this kind. Let’s hope some of them are willing to correct the record”.

November 8, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , | Leave a comment

New BBC documentary ‘Dangerous Dynasty’ ignores the West’s role in destabilizing Syria

By Neil Clark | RT | October 16, 2018

The new BBC2 documentary, ‘A Dangerous Dynasty: House of Assad’, should be contrasted with the 2010 BBC4 series ‘Syrian School’, which eschewed neocon propaganda and allowed us to make our own minds up about Baathist Syria.

Whatever happened to objective film making? Why does everyone today feel that the film or program maker must take sides and not just show us things as they are?

These thoughts were uppermost in my mind when watching the first episode of the 72 Films production, ‘A Dangerous Dynasty’ last week.

You could say the title was a bit of a giveaway. If you were expecting to see a balanced, intellectual analysis of Baathist rule in Syria, providing historical perspective, and putting the ‘House of Assad’ in some kind of regional context, you’d have been very disappointed.

We weren’t even two minutes in before a voice-over declared: “Many have wondered how this former eye doctor [Bashar Assad] and his British-born wife ended up running a regime of committing war crimes, of gassing their own people… Understand their saga [the Assads] and you will understand how their country now lies in ruins.”

Really? The ‘House of Assad’ had ruled Syria for over 40 years without the country being in ruins.

The descent into the abyss began in 2011. We can argue till the cows come home about ‘who fired first’, as anti-government protests swept the country, but even if we do blame the Syrian authorities for initiating the violence seven years ago, there’s no getting away from the fact that the conflict which developed was deliberately stoked by powers hostile to the Syrian Arab Republic.

These powers were desirous of either regime-change or keeping Syria permanently weak and divided for geo-strategic reasons that had absolutely nothing to do with concern for human rights.

To blame all the bloodshed on the ‘House of Assad’, as ‘A Dangerous Dynasty’ does, is ahistorical nonsense and ignores the pernicious role that the US, France, the UK, and their regional allies have played in destabilizing Syria and keeping the fires of war burning.

“We have to ask ourselves how does this mild-mannered eye doctor end up killing hundreds of thousands of people,” one commentator says in ‘A Dangerous Dynasty’, as if Bashar, who had originally planned to devote his life to the noble cause of medicine,  just got up one morning and said “Right, now I’m going to kill hundreds of thousands of people.”

The reality is that the Syrian president was faced with a foreign-backed attempt to destroy his country. He reacted with great force, but just look at how neighboring Israel responds when rockets are fired in from Gaza, or how the US responded after 9-11. Imagine how the White House would react if foreign-backed jihadists took control of parts of the US and beheaded captured US soldiers. Do we think the US president would have said to the ‘rebels’, “Hi guys! Let’s sit round the camp fire together and sing Kumbaya”?

The program had unpleasant undertones of Arabophobia, promoting the narrative that Arabs, and in particular Arab ‘dictators’ who don’t show sufficient subservience to Western elites, cannot be trusted.

It reminded me of an interview with Syria’s deputy ambassador to the UN and a US neocon on BBC’s Newsnight, in the lead-up to the Iraq War, which I wrote about for the Guardian.

While the neocon was treated with great deference, the Syrian representative was treated with withering contempt and “Why should we believe YOU?” condescension. ‘A Dangerous Dynasty’ had much the same tone. Sinister music was played whenever a family photograph of the Assads was shown to make it clear we understood that these were ‘the baddies’.

We were told that Bashar’s mother was “tough and manipulative.” His father Hafez “has extraordinary eyes that seem to look into your soul.” Assad Sr. was “an old fashioned dictator.” Female soldiers had to bite off the heads of snakes and male ones kill puppies to show their obedience. In one segment, we were told that Hafez al-Assad was like a crafty hamburger seller from the bazaar who removes the meat after you’ve paid your money. “He didn’t trust anybody… he lives in a world of conspiracy and paranoia. His whole worldview was conspiratorial,” an American envoy complained.

But didn’t Hafez had good reason not to trust anyone – least of all American governments? Just look at what the US did to Iraq and Libya. Gorbachev trusted the Americans and believed promises that there would be no NATO Drang nach Osten following the disbanding of the Warsaw Pact. Today, NATO troops are on Russia’s borders.

Arabophobia can also be seen in the surprise expressed that Bashar Assad, is “civilized” and “well-mannered” in his personal interactions. As if Arabs, can’t do ‘civilized’ and ‘well-mannered’.

Ironically, probably the most nuanced view in the whole program came from Sir John Sawers, the former head of MI6, who was a British diplomat in Syria in the 1980s.

“It was a socialist military dictatorship, but actually there was a live-and-let-live approach. It was a tightly controlled society but one where Western diplomats could move around fairly freely. If you didn’t bother the Syrian regime they weren’t going to bother you,” Sawer said.

No one disputes that Hafez al-Assad was a ruthless leader, but while the words ‘regime’ and ‘dictator’ were repeated ad nauseam, there was nothing in the program about the advances that Syria made under Assad and his son in the years 1970-2011. The way Christians and other religious minorities were protected by the secular government was ignored. Ditto Syria’s very generous support for the dispossessed and stateless Palestinians, which made them a target.

The book ‘Parting Shots’, published by the BBC, includes a letter written by Sir James Craig, British Ambassador to Syria in 1979, to UK Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington. Craig admits he doesn’t like the Baathists. But he also says “all I have said against them could be said against a hundred other government is this naughty world.” He then goes on: “And there is this, above all, that can be said for them: ever since they came to power, and long before, they have devoted a preponderant part of their energy to the cause of the Palestinians, to which they are called not only by self-interest but by the ties of kinship, neighbourliness and compassion.” Sir James said he found “a distinct spark of nobility” in their “obstinacy” on this issue.

If we go back eight years, a much fairer picture of Syria was shown on the BBC in ‘Syrian School’.

This was arguably one of the best documentary series ever shown on British television. It didn’t preach and it didn’t tell us what to think. It simply showed us what everyday life was like in Syria – the good and the bad.

Max Baring, who worked as director-cameraman on the program said: “Syria is a country where, from poetry to politics, you can have an intellectual debate. You can re-imagine the world there in a way that we seem to have lost in the West, where even the credit crunch hasn’t dented the orthodoxy of Liberal Capitalism, where ‘The X-Factor’ seems now to have become the cultural pinnacle.”

You don’t have to be a diehard supporter of ‘House of Assad’ to acknowledge that life was (and is)  better under the ‘dynasty’ than under the medieval head-choppers of ISIS and other associated fundamentalist ‘rebels’, who the enemies of Baathist Syria seemed quite happy to support – either directly or indirectly. As my fellow Op-ed columnist John Wight correctly pointed out last week, “Not one Western journalist denouncing the Syrian government would have dared to set foot within so much of an inch of militant-held territory, knowing that if they did they would be peremptorily abducted, tortured and slaughtered.”

Shamefully, it’s “the Syrian regime” that ‘Dangerous Dynasty’ blames for the rise of hardcore jihadist terrorism. The neo-con endless war lobby, who set the Middle East on fire, gets a free pass.

The second episode of the hatchet job will be shown this Tuesday. I think I’ll take a bath (no pun intended), instead. Looking further ahead, I’ve an idea (which I’ll give them for just £10K), for the program makers for their next series. How about doing one about another father and son, who both launch wars in successive decades against the same country? The father, who was a millionaire, was director of his country’s intelligence services. The son sold his illegal war on a pack of false claims about a country possessing weapons it didn’t have, with the invasion leading to a million deaths and a refugee crisis of Biblical proportions.

‘Junior’ also invaded another country where conflict is still raging today, and under the pretext of fighting a ‘War on Terror’ introduced a surveillance state and established a detention camp where people were held indefinitely without trial. The title of the series: ‘Dangerous Dynasty: The House of Bush’.

Over to you, 72 Films.

October 16, 2018 Posted by | Film Review, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment