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Russian Embassy Slams FT Over Using Unverifiable Data on Kerch Strait Traffic

Sputnik – 18.05.2019

The Russian embassy in the United Kingdom said that the Financial Times news outlet used isolated allegations and unverifiable information in its article claiming that the recently-built bridge over the Kerch Strait allegedly affected vessel traffic in the area.

“We were struck by the unusually low level of journalism demonstrated by your 17 May piece on the Crimea Bridge (‘Russian bridge throttles Ukraine ports’). The authors allowed themselves to be manipulated by isolated allegations and unverifiable figures provided by various Ukrainian interlocutors, while completely ignoring the official statistics of the Kerch Strait traffic. 25,521 ships crossed the Strait from April 2018 till April 2019, with only 8 percent of them having been inspected,” the embassy’s Press Office wrote in its “letter to the Editor of the Financial Times.”

The press service added that 43 percent of the inspected vessels sailed to or from Russian, not Ukrainian ports. An average inspection lasts less than an hour, while the majority of inspections are carried out while the vessels are waiting for caravans to be formed under the local pilotage rules, according to the letter.

“The construction of the Kerch Bridge, 35 meters [115 feet] high, has not resulted in any measurable deterioration of navigation conditions, as the Strait’s depth, at 9.5 meters, does not allow for taller (and thus heavier) ships to cross. The Kerch Strait has always been and remains open to traffic, including for Ukrainian military ships, provided they fulfil the notification procedure, unchanged since Soviet times,” the embassy argued.

The letter concluded by noting it was “regrettable that a paper like the FT should be used as a propaganda tool by those who seek pretexts for reckless military posturing around Crimea.”

In late April, the Ukrainian border service claimed that Russia voluntarily impeded the passage of ships to Ukrainian ports through the strait. The Ukrainian authorities claimed that almost all vessels faced inspections on their way to Ukrainian ports, noting that these checks were longer than usual and the vessels sometimes even were allowed to pass at the very end of the line.

The situation on the Sea of Azov escalated in spring 2018, when Ukrainian border service detained the Nord vessel sailing under the Russian flag. The crew was allowed to return to Russia only six months after the detention while the captain is still in Ukraine. Moreover, last August, another Russian vessel was detained in a Ukrainian port and has since been not allowed to leave.

The Russian authorities have blasted the actions of Ukraine as “naval terrorism” and responded to them by boosting checks at the part of the Sea of Azov under the Russian jurisdiction. The Crimean border service, which is a part of the Russian Federal Security Service, has insisted that it carried out checks in line with international law of the sea and had never received complaints from ship owners.

May 18, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | Leave a comment

Laughter for All (Financial) Times

By James Petras | Unz Review | February 13, 2019

In these times, when the United States pursues an unprecedented military build-up, promotes coups and trade wars, breaks weapons agreements, organizes the illegal seizure of overseas financial accounts, building barriers and walls along the southern border, Washington can count on the mass media to provide a variety of propaganda messages, ranging from the predictable ‘yellow ’ to the sophisticated ‘serious press’ .

While the political class dismisses the sensational press, they are avid readers of the ‘prize winning’ propaganda newspapers and their columnists.

Among the perceptive readers who follow the serious press one can hear periodical outburst of laughter or observe cynical smiles.

The ‘serious’ newspapers which draw the greatest attention include the Financial Times, the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. Though they vary in the style and quality of their writers, they all follow the same political line, especially on issues pertaining to US imperial power.

For our purposes – and because I have been a long-time subscriber of the Financial Times (FT) –, this essay will concentrate on its journalists and their articles.

Armchair Militarists and “Western Values”

Gideon Rachman is a senior columnist for the FT who travels around the world and has a unique ability to preach ‘western values’ … selectively. Commentating on contemporary US and EU politics, Rachman attributes to them ‘western values’– representative democracy, individual freedom and the rule of law, overlooking two decades of imperial invasions, several hundred US bases around the world and countless violations of international law.

According to Rachman’s notion of ‘western values’ there is a historical legacy, a long tradition of constitutional government, – overlooking the conquest of five continents.

Moreover, while Rachman has consistently condemned Syria for human rights violations, he systematically avoids Israel’s weekly murder and wounding of hundreds of unarmed Palestinian protestors. Most knowledgeable writers wink and grin as they read his selective labeling of western values.

John Paul ‘Ratface’ Rathbone is one of FT leading contributors on Latin America who specializes in celebrating murderous regimes and promoting US policies which overthrow freely elected democracies. During the first decade of the 21st century, “Ratface” (as some of his loyal readers refer to him), wrote eulogies about Colombia’s murderous President Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010) as he slaughtered hundreds of thousands of insurgents and activists.

While Uribe’s death squads rain amok driving millions of peasants from their villages, Ratface frolicked in downtown night clubs and high-end bordellos enjoyed by oligarchs and tourists.

Consistent with the Ratface’s version of Colombia’s death squad democracy he condemned ‘the populist’ popularly elected democracies of Brazil and Venezuela.

Having distant ties to Cuba, Rathbone reminisces about the good times in pre-revolutionary Havana, its stately mansions and the fun city, as he ignores the common police practice of pulling fingernails of political dissidents.

Rathbone evokes occasional cynical smiles from columnists who are embarrassed by his toadying to Washington’s intelligence operatives.

Columnist Philip Stephens is the perennial bleeding-heart liberal who sheds tears for all of his pro-western martyrs, except those Downing Street designates as pro-Russian terrorists. Stephens wears his ‘liberal democratic’ credentials on his backside – from which he emits his defense of UK imperialist wars in Syria, Libya and Iraq.

Stephen’s uncovers ‘undemocratic values’ in Putin’s poisonous operations even in provincial English villages.

Russian journalists are not excited by Philip’s journalistic ejaculations. He is the occasional butt of after work banter and laughter.

The Dean of the Times economic reportage is Martin “Marty” Wolf, who is well-known throughout the craft as the thoughtful advocate of welfare plutocracy. Martin advocates equality, justice — free markets for everybody but only the rich can meet his criteria. Marty finds and condemns populists of every hue. He engages in serious debate with leftists and rightists. But Marty like Gideon has yet to condemn Israel’s settler ‘populists’ who practice ethnic cleansing.

Despite his statistical tables, Marty never links his facts with the western imperial pillage of Africa, Asia and Latin America. His concerns and moral indignation are very selective and flourish when he finds colonized people who call into question his western values.

Marty’s hostility to China is more than a broken financial love affair (that never was). It is part of the FT propaganda war to downgrade Beijing’s economic advances in the world economy. In the January 14, 2019 issue the entire editorial board went on a rampage, ranting about China’s technological theft, its ‘slow down’ and pending crises … always reaching gloomy conclusions.

The FT expert observers note ‘big facts’ — that China is declining, all of one tenth of one percent over the previous year. Most China observers chuckle over the FT’s China ‘crises’ and wonder how the EU is ‘robust’ when it touches two percent and the US a shade higher?

China’s so-called economic crisis is, in the eyes of the FT, a product of its bloated state sector even as it promotes science and high-tech growth — but they are part of a total war.

Jamil Anderlini tags China as a ‘colonial power’ with its single base in Djibouti and for financing hundreds of billions in infrastructure, while the colonialism label is not applied to the US with several hundred military bases in five continents. China’s crackdown on US funded Uighur terrorists, who have murdered hundreds of Chinese citizens, is described as genocide, a term more apt for the US intervention in Libya, Iraq, Somalia and Syria.

The FT has a stable of journalist hacks who specialize in ignoring US economic warfare against China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela etc.

All the economic ‘slowdowns’ among US adversaries are attributed to internal mismanagement never US intervention.

The one-sided propaganda pieces written by the FT leading hackers — Hornby, Feng, Politi, Kynge, Mallet, Anderlini, Bozorgmehr etc — are notoriously repetitive: China’s economy is on the verge of crisis — which prediction never occurs and smart investors ignore while smirking all the way to their bank accounts.

The FT would offer its subscribers plenty to laugh about over late afternoon beers, if it were not for the war crimes it endorses. Their apologies of bloody western imperial invasions in the Middle East are not laughing matters.

The FT joins the Anglo-American chorus accusing Russia of political assassinations on British soil, without evidence or witnesses.

The FT has yet to chastise their US and British paymasters for their prolonged economic war against the elected governments in Venezuela.

The upwardly mobile FT scribes, scrambling for senior posts, ignore the laughter at their pious claims of ‘democratic values’ because their columns reek of lies and denials of China’s advances, Russia’s economic recovery from the catastrophic decline which the Times celebrated alongside the oligarchs’ plunder during the lost decade of the nineties.

Conclusion

The difference between the articles in the FT and the handouts from the war ministry is a matter of source not substance.

As the US engages in a total war on China’s cutting-edge industries, particularly, the world’s most advanced telecom company Huawei, the FT parrots US threats and warnings without the least effort to sort out facts from propaganda.

The fact is, the Times is part and parcel of the imperial revival which attempts to block China from establishing its pre-eminence in the world. The FT echoes President Trump’s lies about economic theft as the basis for China’s Huawei’s global leadership in telecom technology.

The FT gloss over its overt political role, evokes smirks among knowledgeable insiders as they scoff their beer.

Anti-Trump rhetoric fails to obscure the fact that the FT fronts for most of his policies – from financial deregulations, pro-Israel apologetics and Middle East wars.

There is one caveat; the FT is more warlike than the President! The FT is for remaining in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and any other independent country! While the FT publishes upscale articles on wine tasting, the arts, literature, travel and jewel collecting, its ‘serious’ news promotes bloody imperial wars. There is nary a western war that the Times fails to support.

In truth, the FT are the print-police and gatekeepers overseeing the defense of ‘democratic values’ by any means necessary (including wars of untold destruction)!

The larger issue confronting the US public concern the link between the ‘serious press’, the educated reading public and Washington’s perpetual war strategy.

The ‘serious press’ like the FT is no stranger to propagandizing in favor of imperial wars, since its founding. Its lack of objectivity is a fact of life and is predictable. What is new and dangerous is that journalist-critics are few and far between, particularly as the US empire is challenged at home and abroad.

The turn to militarism and the decline in imperial economic dominance puts a premium on media propaganda; its job is convincing and activating the young, politically educated class, which does not have a commitment to the serious press.

Financial elites continue to subscribe but many laugh at the one-sided advocacy of US denigration of China – since most investors have made money on China’s robust growth.

Most investors are bored by the Times fables about ending wars in Afghanistan and elsewhere. It may come to pass someday that ridicule, loud and repeated laughter, will bankrupt the serious press, that its readers will be confined to Wall Street and the Pentagon.

Even today, readers are disgusted by the FT grotesque front page features. Madeleine Albright appears on the House and Home section which mentions her ‘hospitality’ omitting to include her murderous bombing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi homes and her claim that the murder of a half-million Iraqi children was ‘worth it’ to win the war!

February 17, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment

Claims About Alleged GRU Cyberattack on UK-Based TV Inconsistent – Embassy

Sputnik – 07.10.2018

LONDON – The Russian Embassy in London pointed Saturday to the contradictions in the article released by the Financial Times newspaper, which claimed that the Russian military intelligence service GRU had allegedly conducted a cyberattack on the UK-based Islam Channel TV broadcaster in 2015.

On Friday, the Financial Times reported, citing non-designated UK officials, that the GRU officers allegedly hacked the computer network of the UK-based TV station in 2015. The news outlet has not provided any evidence, proving the claims. The newspaper has not specified why Russia would “attack” the broadcaster either. In addition, all the sources of information mentioned in the article were anonymous.

“What is interesting about the article is that it claims that hackers, supposedly, had complete control over the TV channel’s infrastructure during the intrusion. Then [the article] claims that the [UK] Home Office staff called [the broadcaster] and informed it of the cyberattack and says that ‘we [the TV station’s staff] had not noticed any irregularities in the work of the channel until this call.’ The information in this article does not withstand the slightest criticism, it seems it was written in a hurry, and the logical pattern was disrupted. [The article’s] main goal is clear — to bring another accusation against Russia,” a representative of the embassy told reporters.

The representative stressed that the embassy usually refrained from commenting on newspaper articles based on leakages from the UK security services because nobody was willing to take responsibility for the allegations. He added that the UK Foreign Office habitually left Moscow’s requests concerning such publications without answer.

On Thursday, the UK Foreign Office said it assessed “with high confidence” that GRU was “almost certainly” responsible for a series of cyberattacks on political institutions, media outlets and infrastructure across the globe. The Foreign Office mentioned a UK-based TV station among the targets of the attacks.

Later on Thursday, the Dutch Defense Ministry claimed that four Russian citizens holding diplomatic passports had been expelled from the Netherlands in April on suspicion of an attempted cyberattack on the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

The Russian Foreign Ministry refuted the claims on Thursday and stressed that the “spymania campaign” unleashed in the Netherlands was seriously hurting bilateral relations with Russia. The ministry pointed out that the Netherlands made the statement ahead of the OPCW opening session, which could set up the “necessary’ political background” to push through some illegal initiatives that Russia opposed.

Canada and the United States subsequently joined the allegations against GRU, claiming that seven Russian military intelligence officials allegedly targeted with cyberattacks the US Westinghouse nuclear power company and multiple anti-doping agencies and athletes. Meanwhile, Russia’s proposal for the establishment of a joint task force on cybersecurity has been earlier rejected by Washington.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov has said that the United States “poisoned” Russian-US relations by its new allegations against Russian security services. The diplomat noted the danger of fueling tensions between two nuclear powers.

October 6, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

The Lies of our (Financial) Times

By James Petras | Dissident Voice | October 4, 2018

The leading financial publications have misled their political and investor subscribers of emerging crises and military defeats which have precipitated catastrophic political and economic losses.

The most egregious example is the Financial Times (FT) a publication which is widely read by the business and financial elite.

In this essay we will proceed by outlining the larger political context that sets the framework for the transformation of the FT from a relatively objective purveyor of world news into a propagator of wars and failed economic policies.

In part two we will discuss several case studies which illustrate the dramatic shifts from a prudent business publication to a rabid military advocate, from a well-researched analyst of economic policies to an ideologue of the worst speculative investors.

The decay of the quality of its reportage is accompanied by the bastardization of language. Concepts are distorted; meanings are emptied of their cognitive sense; and vitriol covers crimes and misdemeanors.

We will conclude by discussing how and why the ‘respectable’ media have affected real world political and market outcomes for citizens and investors.

Political and Economic Context

The decay of the FT cannot be separated from the global political and economic transformations in which it publishes and circulates. The demise of the Soviet Union, the pillage of Russia’s economy throughout the 1990s and the US declaration of a unipolar world were celebrated by the FT as great success stories for ‘western values’. The US and EU annexation of Eastern Europe, the Balkan and Baltic states led to the deep corruption and decay of journalistic narratives.

The FT willingly embraced every violation of the Gorbachev-Reagan agreements and NATO’s march to the borders of Russia. The militarization of US foreign policy was accompanied by the FT conversion to a military interpreter of what it dubbed the ‘transition to democratization’.

The language of the FT reportage combined democratic rhetoric with an embrace of military practices. This became the hallmark for all future coverage and editorializing. The FT military policies extended from Europe to the Middle East, the Caucasus, North Africa and the Gulf States.

The FT joined the yellow press in describing military power grabs, including the overthrow of political adversaries, as ‘transitions to democracy’ and the creation of ‘open societies’.

The unanimity of the liberal and right-wing publications in support of western imperialism precluded any understanding of the enormous political and economic costs which ensued.

To protect itself from its most egregious ideological foibles, the FT included ‘insurance clauses’, to cover for catastrophic authoritarian outcomes. For example they advised western political leaders to promote military interventions and, by the way, with ‘democratic transitions’.

When it became evident that US-NATO wars did not lead to happy endings but turned into prolonged insurgencies, or when western clients turned into corrupt tyrants, the FT claimed that this was not what they meant by a ‘democratic transition’ – this was not their version of “free markets and free votes”.

The Financial and Military Times (?)

The militarization of the FT led it to embrace a military definition of political reality. The human and especially the economic costs, the lost markets, investments and resources were subordinated to the military outcomes of ‘wars against terrorism’ and ‘Russian authoritarianism’.

Each and every Financial Times report and editorial promoting western military interventions over the past two decades resulted in large scale, long-term economic losses.

The FT supported the US war against Iraq which led to the ending of important billion-dollar oil deals (oil for food) signed off with President Saddam Hussein. The subsequent US occupation precluded a subsequent revival of the oil industry. The US appointed client regime pillaged the multi-billion dollar reconstruction programs – costing US and EU taxpayers and depriving Iraqis of basic necessities.

Insurgent militias, including ISIS, gained control over half the country and precluded the entry of any new investment.

The US and FT backed western client regimes organized rigged election outcomes and looted the treasury of oil revenues, arousing the wrath of the population lacking electricity, potable water and other necessities.

The FT backed war, occupation and control of Iraq was an unmitigated disaster.

Similar outcomes resulted from the FT support for the invasions of Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and Yemen.

For example the FT propagated the story that the Taliban was providing sanctuary for bin Laden’s planning the terror assault in the US (9/11).

In fact, the Afghan leaders offered to turn over the US suspect, if they were offered evidence. Washington rejected the offer, invaded Kabul and the FT joined the chorus backing the so-called ‘war on terrorism which led to an unending, one trillion-dollar war.

Libya signed off to a disarmament and multi-billion-dollar oil agreement with the US in 2003. In 2011 the US and its western allies bombed Libya, murdered Gaddafi, totally destroyed civil society and undermined the US/EU oil agreements. The FT backed the war but decried the outcome. The FT followed a familiar ploy; promoting military invasions and then, after the fact, criticizing the economic disasters.

The FT led the media charge in favor of the western proxy war against Syria: savaging the legitimate government and praising the mercenary terrorists, which it dubbed ‘rebels’ and ‘militants’ – dubious terms for US and EU financed operatives.

Millions of refugees, resulting from western wars in Libya, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq fled to Europe seeking refuge. FT described the imperial holocaust – the ‘dilemmas of Europe’. The FT bemoaned the rise of the anti-immigrant parties but never assumed responsibility for the wars which forced the millions to flee to the west.

The FT columnists prattle about ‘western values’ and criticize the ‘far right’ but abjured any sustained attack of Israel’s daily massacre of Palestinians. Instead readers get a dose of weekly puff pieces concerning Israeli politics with nary a mention of Zionist power over US foreign policy.

FT: Sanctions, Plots and Crises — Russia, China and Iran

The FT like all the prestigious media propaganda sheets have taken a leading role in US conflicts with Russia, China and Iran.

For years the scribes in the FT stable have discovered (or invented) “crises” in China’s economy- always claiming it was on the verge of an economic doomsday. Contrary to the FT, China has been growing at four times the rate of the US; ignoring the critics it built a global infrastructure system instead of the multi-wars backed by the journalist war mongers.

When China innovates, the FT harps on techno theft — ignoring US economic decline.

The FT boasts it writes “without fear and without favor” which translates into serving imperial powers voluntarily.

When the US sanctions China we are told by the FT that Washington is correcting China’s abusive statist policies. Because China does not impose military outposts to match the eight hundred US military bases on five continents, the FT invents what it calls ‘debt colonialism” apparently describing Beijing’s financing large-scale productive infrastructure projects.

The perverse logic of the FT extends to Russia. To cover up for the US financed coup in the Ukraine it converted a separatist movement in Donbass into a Russian land grab. In the same way a free election in Crimea is described as Kremlin annexation.

The FT provides the language of the declining western imperial empires.

Independent, democratic Russia, free of western pillage and electoral meddling is labelled “authoritarian”; social welfare which serves to decrease inequality is denigrated as ‘populism’ —linked to the far right. Without evidence or independent verification, the FT fabricates Putinesque poison plots in England and Bashar Assad poison gas conspiracies in Syria.

Conclusion

The FT has chosen to adopt a military line which has led to a long series of financially disastrous wars. The FT support of sanctions has cost oil companies billions of dollars, euros and pounds. The sanctions, it backed, have broken global networks.

The FT has adopted ideological postures that threaten supply chains between the West, China, Iran and Russia. The FT writes in many tongues but it has failed to inform its financial readers that it bears some responsibility for markets which are under siege.

There is unquestionably a need to overhaul the name and purpose of the FT. One journalist who was close to the editors suggests it should be called the “Military Times” – the voice of a declining empire.

October 5, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Financial Times: Megaphone for Mass Murder

By James Petras :: August 28, 2016

The Financial Times editorial page carries a logo that proclaims: “Without fear and without favour”. Indeed the editors have shown no fear when it comes to… fabricating lies, promoting imperial wars decimating countries and impoverishing millions, whether in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and now Venezuela. The fearless “Lies of Our Times” have been at the forefront forging pretexts for inciting imperial armies to crush independent governments.

Despite its pretentious scribblers and prestigious claims, the FT is seen by the Anglo-American financial class as a belligerent purveyor of militarist policies designed for the most retrograde sectors of the ruling elite.

What is most striking about the FT fearless fabrications on behalf of imperial militarism is how often their political and economic prognostications have been incompetent and flat out wrong.

For the past ten years, the FT editorial pages have described China in economic crisis and heading for a fall, while in reality, the Chinese economy has grown at between eight and six percent a year.

For over a decade and a half, the FT editors claimed Russia under President Vladimir Putin presented an international existential threat to ‘the West’. In fact, it was the ‘Western’ armies of NATO, which expanded military operations to the borders of Russia, the US, which financed a neo-fascist coup in Kiev and the US-EU which promoted an Islamist uprising in Syria designed to totally undermine Russia’s influence and relations in the Middle East.

The FT’s economic gurus and its leading columnists prescribed the very catastrophic deregulatory formulas which precipitated the financial crash of 2008-09, after which they played the clownish role of “Mickey the Dunce” – blaming others for the failed policies.

The fearless FT scribes are currently leading a virulent propaganda campaign to promote the violent overthrow of the democratically elected Venezuelan government of President Nicolas Maduro.

This essay will identify the FT’s latest pack of fearless lies and fabrications and then conclude by analyzing the political consequences for Venezuela and other independent regimes.

The Financial Times and Venezuela: From War in the Suites to Terror in the Streets

In covering the crisis in Venezuela, the FT has systematically ignored the ongoing campaign of assaults and assassinations against elected officials, security officers, military and police who have been murdered by the FT’s favored ‘opposition’.

The FT did not cover the horrific murders of an elected Chavista congresswoman and her two young children, who were executed (shot in the head) in broad daylight by opposition-paid hitmen.

These ongoing opposition terror campaigns against the elected government and the general public are systematically ignored in the FTs ‘reports’ and on its editorial pages, which focus more on the shortages of consumer items.

The FT cover-up of right-wing terror extended to inventing a ‘possible’ army or National Guard plan to open fire on opposition demonstrators. In this case, the FT anticipated right-wing violence by laying the blame on the government in advance.

The FT covers-up the opposition business elite’s campaign of hoarding essential goods to create artificial shortages and panic buying. They deny the ongoing price gouging and pin the blame for shortages and long consumer lines exclusively on ‘regime mismanagement’.

The FT conveniently omits to mention that the decline in world oil prices has affected not only the economy of Venezuela but all countries dependent on commodity exports, including the Financial Times favorite neo-liberal regimes in Brazil and Argentina.

The Financial Times cites bogus ‘opinion’ polls, which wildly exaggerate the government’s declining popularity: In the recent elections Maduro’s supporters secured 40% of the popular vote while the FT claims his support to be 7%!

US client regimes (Mexico, Peru, and Colombia) are the largest producers of illegal drugs and US banks are the largest launderers for narco-money. Yet the FT reports on “Venezuela’s role as a conduit for illegal drugs smuggled north to the US and east into Brazil, Africa and thence to Europe”. Drug enforcement experts all agree that Colombia, home to seven US military bases and with a regime closely linked to paramilitary-narco gangs, is the source of drugs smuggled through Venezuela. That Venezuela has become a victim of the violent Colombian narco-trade is never acknowledged by the elegant City of London pen-prostitutes.

The FT blames the re-emergence of ‘malaria and other possible diseases’ on the leftist Maduro government. In fact the recent ‘malaria outbreak’ (also cited by the New York Times propagandists) is based on a single illegal gold miner.

The FT ignores how the US- backed neo-liberal regimes in Argentina and Brazil, which rule by presidential decree, have slashed public health programs setting the stage for much greater public health crises.

The Financial Times: Big Lies for Mass Murder

The Financial Times is waging an all-out propaganda war with one goal: To incite the violent seizure of power in Venezuela by US political clients.

In line with the Obama-Clinton ‘regime-change by any means’ policies, the FT paints a deceptive picture of Venezuela facing ‘multiple crises’, representing a ‘destabilizing’ threat to the hemisphere, and on the brink of a global ‘humanitarian crisis’.

Armed with these deadly clichés, the FT editorial pages demand “a new government soon and certainly before the 2018 elections”.

Recently, the FT proposed a phony legal gimmick — a recall referendum. However, since the opposition cannot initiate the vote in time to oust the elected President Maduro, the FT calls for “events which precipitate changes sooner” – a violent coup!

FT’s scenarios aim to precipitate a violent right-wing “march”, eventually provoking civil bloodshed in early September of this year.

The FT expects that “blood in Caracas will require an active Latin America response”(sic). In other words, the FT hopes that a US-backed military invasion from neighboring Colombia would help eliminate the Chavistas and install a rightist regime.

The Financial Times, which actively promoted the NATO-led destruction of the government in Libya, now calls for a US-led invasion of Venezuela. Never ones to re-assess their promotion of ‘regime change’, the FT now calls for a violent coup in Venezuela, which will exceed that of Libya in terms of the loss of thousands of Venezuelan lives and the brutal reversal of a decade of significant socio-economic progress.

“Without fear and without favor”, the FT speaks for imperial wars everywhere.

Conclusion

The US presidential elections take place just as the Obama-Clinton regime prepares to intervene in Venezuela. Using bogus ‘humanitarian’ reports of widespread hunger, disease, violence and instability, the Obama regime will still need Venezuelan thugs to provoke enough violent street violence to trigger an’ invitation’ for Washington’s Latin American military partners to ‘intervene’ under the auspices of the UN or OAS.

If ‘successful’, a rapid overthrow of the elected government in Caracas could be presented as a victory for Hilary Clinton’s campaign, and an example of her policy of ‘humanitarian-military interventions’ around the world.

However, if Obama’s allied invasion does not produce a quick and easy victory, if the Venezuelan people and armed forces mount a prolonged and courageous defense of their government and if US lives are lost in what could turn into a popular war of resistance, then Washington’s intervention could ultimately discredit the Clinton campaign and her ‘muscular’ foreign policy. The American electorate might finally decide against four more years of losing wars and losing lives. No thanks to the ‘fearless’ Financial Times.

August 29, 2016 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

Mainstream Media in America and Britain Repeat the Same Mistakes in Covering Iran That They Made on Iraq

By Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett | Going to Tehran | May 13, 2013

In an excellent report released last month, the University of Maryland’s Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM) offered a thoroughly documented—and devastating—critique of mainstream media coverage of the Iranian nuclear issue.  Authored by Jonas Siegel and Saranaz Barforoush, Media Coverage of Iran’s Nuclear Program:  An Analysis of U.S. and U.K. Coverage, 2009-2012, see here, reviews coverage of Iran’s nuclear activities and the international controversy surrounding those activities in six major English-language newspapers:  the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Financial Times, the Guardian, and the Independent.

To quote from the report’s executive summary (with emphasis added), the authors found that

“–Newspaper coverage focused on the ‘he said/she said’ aspects of the policy debate, without adequately explaining the fundamental issues that should have been informing assessments—such as Iran’s nuclear capabilities and intentions, the influence of U.S., European, Iranian, and Israeli security strategies, and the impact of the nuclear nonproliferation regime.

When newspaper coverage did address Iranian nuclear intentions and capabilities, it did so in a manner that lacked precision, was inconsistent over time, and failed to provide adequate sourcing and context for claims.  This led to an inaccurate picture of the choices facing policy makers.

Government officials, particularly U.S. government officials, were the most frequently quoted or relied-on sources in coverage of Iran’s nuclear program.  This tendency focused attention on a narrow set of policy options and deemphasized other potential approaches to the dispute.

Newspaper coverage generally adopted the tendency of U.S., European, and Israeli officials to place on Iran the burden to resolve the dispute over its nuclear program, failing to acknowledge the roles of these other countries in the dispute

Coverage of Iran’s nuclear program reflected and reinforced the negative sentiments about Iran that are broadly shared by U.S., European, and Israeli publics.  This contributed to misunderstandings about the interests involved and narrowed the range of acceptable outcomes.

In general, these characteristics led newspapers to frame their coverage of Iran’s nuclear program in a manner that emphasized official narratives of the dispute and a relatively narrow range of policy choices available to officials.  By not consistently describing the complex web of international relationships, security concerns, and intervening political factors in sufficient detail, newspaper coverage further privileged official narratives and policy preferences.  This makes it likely that the policies enacted and under consideration by policy makers—coercive diplomacy and war—remain the most likely outcome of the dispute.  In this way, news coverage of Iran’s nuclear program is reminiscent of news coverage of the run-up to the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.  News coverage has the potential to play a significant, constructive role in finding a lasting resolution to the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program, but journalists and editors first need to address the tendencies present in their current coverage of the topic.”

We encourage all to read and ponder, hard, this important new report.

May 14, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Mainstream Media in America and Britain Repeat the Same Mistakes in Covering Iran That They Made on Iraq

Logical Fallacies: The Financial Times on Syria and Uranium Stockpiles

News Unspun | January 10, 2013

On 8 January the Financial Times published an article by James Blitz, entitled ‘Fears raised over Syria uranium stockpile’, premised primarily on the ‘fears’ and otherwise subjective ruminations of unnamed ‘official’ and ‘expert’ sources, one the two named sources being former weapons inspector David Albright (discussed further below).

The claims of Blitz’s sources rest on the argument that, because we lack proof that something is false, it must be true (an ad ignorantiam argument). For example, Blitz states that, ‘Three satellite pictures of the Marj al-Sultan site taken in October, November and December of 2012 and shown to the FT […] appear to show the gradual clearance of a large orchard there, for no apparent reason’. And so, the clearance has triggered fears that (a) the site is ‘a secret uranium conversion facility’, and (b) that tonnes of uranium have been transferred to the site. Because we do not have proof that the orchard has not been cleared for the transfer of uranium, this is cause for concern that this may be the case, according to the article.

Blitz’s sources claim that they have legitimate concerns about a uranium stockpile in Syria, enough uranium they say ‘to provide weapons-grade fuel for five atomic devices’, which could then be transferred ‘from Syria to Iran by air’.

The overarching concern of the article is that Iran would be provided with ‘a “vital resource” [which could] possibly be used to build a bomb’. This depends on a series of speculative claims made by Blitz’s sources turning out to be simultaneously true, with the addition of Iran ‘attempt[ing] to build another secret uranium plant’ (Blitz doesn’t expand on the meaning of ‘another’). To reach this conclusion, the following must all occur:

1. Syria must be in possession of 50 tonnes of unenriched uranium. (Blitz plainly states, in the opening paragraph, that cause for concern lies with ‘up to 50 tonnes of unenriched uranium’ – the implication being that such a thing actually exists – before later backtracking to suggest uncertainty with the inclusion of the clause ‘if it exists’ in reference to the uranium.)

2. The Marj al-Sultan site must actually be a uranium conversion facility. (The report notes that such claims are alleged: ‘what [the experts] allege is a secret uranium conversion facility that the Syrian regime built at the town of Marj al-Sultan near Damascus’.)

3. The uranium must be at the site. (‘Whether the uranium is at the site is unclear, the officials conceded’.)

4. Iran must be trying to ‘seize’ the uranium. (‘Iran, which is closely allied to the Syrian regime and urgently needs uranium for its nuclear programme, might be trying to seize such a stockpile’.)

Given that the above scenarios are at best uncertain and at worst hypothetical, the credibility given to the argument that this might result in Iran ‘building the bomb’ is questionable.

One of Blitz’s two named sources is David Albright, former weapons inspector and head of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS). Put forward as a ‘leading expert’ on the Iranian nuclear programme, he is quoted as having concerns about the ‘whereabouts of this uranium’, which Blitz concedes may or may not exist. Albright’s past speculations on states he supposed had been hiding nuclear weapons is worth considering. In August 2002, eight months before the US-led invasion of Iraq, he was interviewed by The Guardian in an article entitled ‘Does Iraq have a nuclear weapon?’ Below are three quotes from the article, which highlight to some degree the lack of substance to his arguments:

‘People have argued that you could find nuclear facilities quickly as they are big, but Iraq knows how to make them small…The clock is ticking’.

‘You would think that if Iraq had a nuclear weapon, it would have done something to show it. But then you can’t be certain’.

‘Once it gets the gas-centrifuge programme, you have to assume that it could make [a bomb] in half a year’.

More recently, Albright has been the co-author of a report from ISIS entitled ‘New Satellite Image Shows Activity at Parchin Site in Iran’. The introduction to the report discusses a satellite image which ‘shows what appears to be a stream of water that emanates from or near the building’ that ‘raises concerns that Iran may have been washing inside the building, or perhaps washing the items outside the building’. This and other activities at the Parchin site that have been seen in the last year on satellite images, such as the movement of lorries, and the demolishing of a building, provide the sole basis for Albright’s argument that there has been a nuclear cover-up. In the Financial Times article, Blitz’s reference to ‘the gradual clearance of a large orchard’ is in a similar vein to the speculations that ISIS have made in the past about Iran.

As Albright’s targets are generally the official ‘enemies’ of the west, he receives respectful attention from the UK media, despite an absence of any factual substance to his work.

The ‘concerns’ Blitz reports on belong to his sources, so it is their judgement, and not just his, which is premised on fallacy. Blitz, however, has based his entire argument, without criticism, on the opinions of these officials, and has further developed them into a foretelling narrative, one which doesn’t stand up to even the slightest scrutiny.

January 11, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Logical Fallacies: The Financial Times on Syria and Uranium Stockpiles

When the Respectable Become Extremists The Extremists Become Respectable: Colombia and the Mainstream Media

By James Petras :: 05.20.2012

Introduction: By any historical measure, whether it involves international law, human rights conventions, United Nations protocols, socio-economic indicators, the policies and practices of the United States and European Union regimes can be characterized as extremist. By that we mean that their policies and practices result in large scale long-term systematic destruction of human lives, habitat and likelihood affecting millions of people through the direct application of force and violence. The extremist regimes abhor moderation which implies rejection of total wars in favor of peaceful negotiations. Moderation pursues conflict resolution through diplomacy and compromise and the rejection of state and paramilitary terror, mass dispossession and displacement of civilian populations and the systematic assault on popular sectors of civil society.

The first decade of the 21st century has witnessed the West’s embrace of extremism in all of its manifestation both in domestic and foreign policy. Extremism is a common practice by self-styled conservatives, liberals and social-democrats. In the past, conservative implies preserving the status quo and at most tinkering with change at the margins. Today’s ‘conservatives’ demand the wholesale dismantling of entire social welfare systems, the elimination of traditional legal restraints on labor and environmental abuses. Liberals and social democrats who in the past, occasionally, questioned colonial systems have been in the forefront of prolonged multiple colonial wars which have killed and displaced millions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria.

Extremism both in terms of methods, means and goals has obliterated the distinctions between center left, center and rightwing politicians. Moderate opponents to policies subsidizing a dozen major banks and impoverishing tens of millions of workers are called the “hard left”, “extremists” or “radicals”.

In the wake of the extremist policies of public officials, the respectable, prestigious print media have engaged in their own versions of extremism [1]. Colonial wars that devastate civil society and materially and culturally impoverish millions in the colonized country are justified, embellished and made to appear as lawful, humane and furthering secular democratic values. Domestic wars on behalf of oligarchies and against wage and salaried workers, which concentrate wealth and deepen despair of the dispossessed are described as rational, virtuous and necessary. The distinctions between the prudent, balanced, prestigious and serious media and the sensationalist, yellow press have disappeared. The fabrication of facts, blatant omissions and distortions of context are found in one as well as the other.

To illustrate the reign of extremism in officialdom and among the prestigious press, we will examine two case studies: US policies toward and the Financial Times and New York Times reportage on Colombia and Honduras.

Colombia: The “Oldest Democracy in Latin America” versus “the Death squad Capital of the World”

Following on the heels of euphoric eulogies of Colombia’s emergence as a poster boy in an April issue of Time, and in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, the Financial Times ran a series of articles including a special insert on Colombia’s political and economic “miracle”, “Investing in Colombia” [2]. According to the FTs leading Latin American journalist, one John Paul Rathbone, Colombia is the “oldest democracy in the hemisphere” [3]. Rathbone’s rapture for Colombia’s President Santos extends from his role as an “emerging power broker” for the South American continent, to making Colombia safe for foreign investors and “exciting the envy” of other less successful regimes in the region. Rathbone gives prominence to one Colombia business leader who claims that Colombia’s second biggest city “Medellín is living through its best of times” [4]. In line with the opinion of the foreign and business elite, the respectable print media describe Colombia as prosperous, peaceful, business friendly-charging the lowest mining royalty payments in the hemisphere – a model of a stable democracy to be emulated by all forward-looking leaders. Colombia under President Santos, has signed a free trade agreement with President Obama, his closest ally in the hemisphere [5]. Under Bush the trade unions, human rights and church groups and the majority of Congressional Democrats were successful in blocking the agreement on the basis of Colombia’s sustained human rights violations. When Obama embraced the free trade agreement, the AFL-CIO and Democratic opposition evaporated, as President Obama claimed a vast improvement in human rights and the commitment of Santos to ending the murder of trade union leaders and activists [6].

The peace, security and prosperity eulogized by the oil, mining, banking, and agro-business elite are based on the worst human rights record in Latin America. With regard to the murder of trade unionists Colombia exceeds the entire rest of the world. Between 1986-2011 over 60% of the trade unionists assassinated in the world took place in Colombia, by the combined military-police-paramilitary forces, largely at the behest of foreign and domestic corporate leaders [7]. The “peace” that Rathbone and his cohort at the Financial Times praise is at the cost of over 12,000 assassinations and arrests, injuries, disappearances of trade unionists between January 1, 1986 and October 1, 2010 [8]. In that time span nearly 3,000 trade union leaders and activists were murdered, hundreds were kidnapped or disappeared. President Santos was the Defense Minister under previous President Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010). In those eight years, 762 trade union leaders and activists were murdered, over 95% by the state or allied paramilitary forces [9].

Under Presidents Uribe Santos 2002 – 2012 over 4 million peasants and rural householders were displaced and dispossessed of their homes and their lands were confiscated and taken over by landlords and narco- traffickers [10]. The terror tactics employed by the regimes counter-insurgency strategy served a dual purpose of repressing dissent and accumulating wealth. The Financial Times journalists ignore this chapter in Colombia’s “resurgent growth”. They are especially enthused by the “security” that ensued because large scale foreign investment, over $6 billion dollars, in 2012 flowed into mining and oil regions that were formerly “troubled” by unrest [11].

Leading drug lords, who were closely linked to the Uribe-Santos regime, and were subsequently jailed and extradited to the US have testified that they financed and elected one-third of the Congress people affiliated with Uribe-Santos party in what Rathbone refers to as Latin America’s “oldest democracy”. According to Salvatore Mancuso, ex-chief of the former 30,000 member United Self-Defense of Colombia paramilitary death squad, he met with then, President Uribe, in different regions of the country and gave him money and logistical support in his re-election campaign of 2006. He also affirmed that many national and multi-national corporations (MNC) financed the growth and expansion of the paramilitary death squads. What Rathbone and his fellow journalists at the FT celebrate as Colombia’s emergence as an investor’s paradise is writ large with the blood and gore of thousands of Colombian peasants, trade unionists and human rights activists. The gory history of the Uribe/Santos reign of terror has been completely omitted from the current account of Colombia’s “success story”. Detailed records of the brutality of the killings and torture by Uribe/Santos sponsored death squads, which describe the use of chain saws to cut limbs from peasants suspected of leftist sympathies, are available to any journalist willing to consult Colombia’s leading human rights organizations [12].

The death squads and military act in concert. The military is trained by by over one thousand US Special Forces advisers. They arrive in a village in a wave of US supplied helicopters, secure the region from guerillas and then allow the AUC terrorists to savage the villages, killing, raping and disemboweling men, women and children suspected of being guerilla sympathizers. The terror tactics have driven millions of peasants out of the countryside.

Allowing the generals and drug lords to seize their land

Human rights advocates (HRA) are frequently targeted by the military and death squads. President Uribe and Santos first accuse them of being active collaborators of the guerillas for exposing the regime’s crimes against humanity. Once they are labeled, the HRA became “legitimate targets” for armed assaults by the death squads and the military who act with complete impunity. Between 2002-2011, 1,470 acts of violence were perpetrated against HRA, with a record number of 239 in 2011, including 49 assassinations during the Presidency of Santos. [13] Over half of the murdered HRA are Indians and Afro-Colombians.

State terrorism was and continues to be the main instrument of rule under Presidents Uribe and Santos. The Colombian “killing fields” according to the Fiscalia General include tens of thousands of homicides , 1,597 massacres and thousands of forced disappearances between 2005 – 2010 [14].

The practice, revealed in the Colombian press, of “false positives” in which the military kidnaps poor young men, dresses them as guerrillas and then assassinates them, comes across in the respectable US print media as evidence of Santos/Uribe’s military successes against the guerrillas. There are 2,472 documented cases of military false positive murders [15].

Honduras: New York Times and State Terrorism

The New York Times featured an article on Honduras, emphasizing the the regime’s “co-operation” with the US drug war. [16] The Times writer Thom Shanker speaks of a “partnership” based on the expansion of three new US military bases and the stationing of US Special Forces in the country. [17]

Shanker describes the successful operation of the Honduras Special Operations forces guided and directed by trainers from the US Special Forces. Shanker mentions a visit by a delegation of Congressional staff members who favorably assessed the local forces respect of human rights, and cites the US ambassador in Honduras as praising the regime as an “eager and capable partners in this joint effort”. [18]

There are insidious parallels between the NY Times white wash of the criminal extremist regime in Honduras and the Financial Times’ crude promotion of Colombia’s death squad democracy.

The current regime headed by “President” Lobos- which invites the Pentagon to expand its military control over swathes of Honduran territory- is a product of a US backed military coup which overthrew an elected liberal President on June 28, 2009, a point Shanker forgets to mention. Lobos, the predator president, retains control by killing, jailing and torturing critics, journalists, human rights defenders and landless rural laborers seeking to reclaim their lands which were violently seized by Lobos’ landlord backers.

Following the military coup, thousands of Honduran pro-democracy demonstrators were killed, beaten and arrested. According to conservative estimates by Human Rights Watch 20 pro-democracy dissidents were murdered by the military and police. [19] Between January 2010 and November 2011 at least 12 journalists critical of the Lobos regime were murdered.

In the countryside, where NY Times reporter Shanker describes a love fest between the US Special Forces and their Honduran counterparts, between January and August 2011, 30 farm workers in northern Honduras Bajo Aguan valley were killed by death squads hired by Lobos backed oligarchs . [20] Nary a single military, police or death squad assassin has been judged and jailed. Coup leader Roberto Micheletti and President Lobos, his successor, have repeatedly assaulted pro-democracy demonstrations, especially those led by school teachers, students and trade unionists and have tortured hundreds of jailed political dissidents. Precisely in the same time span as the NY Times publishes its most euphoric article on the friendly relations between the US and Honduras, the death toll among pro-democracy dissidents rose precipitously: eight journalists and a TV commentator have been killed over the first 4 months of 2012. [21] In late March and early April of 2012 nine farm workers and employees were murdered by pro-Lobos landlords. [22] No arrests, no suspects, impunity reigns in the land of US military bases. The Times follows the Mafia rule of omega-silence and complicity.

Syria: How the FT Absolves Al Qaeda Terrorists

As western backed terrorists savage Syria, the Western press, especially the Financial Times, continues to absolve the terrorists of setting of car bombs killing and maiming hundreds.of civilians. With crude cynicism their reporters shrug their shoulders and give credence to the claims of the London based terrorists propaganda mongers, that the Assad regime was engaged in destroying its own cities and security forces.[23]

Conclusion

As the Obama regime and its European backers publicly embrace extremism, including state terror, targeted assassinations and the car bombing of crowded cities, the respectable press has followed suit. Extremism takes many forms –from the omission of reports on the use of force and violence in overthrowing adversary regimes to the cover-up of the wholesale murder of tens of thousands of civilians and the dispossession of millions of peasants and farmers. The “educated classes”, the affluent reading public are being indoctrinated by the respectable media to believe that a smiling and pragmatic President Santos and elected President Lobos have succeeded in establishing peace, market based prosperity and securing mutually beneficial free trade and military base concessions with the US—even as the two regimes lead the world in the murder of trade unionists and journalists. Even as I read, on May 15, 2012 that the US Hispanic Congressional caucus has awarded Lobos a leadership in democracy award, the Honduran press reports the murder of the news director of station HMT Alfredo Villatoro, the 25th critical journalist killed between January 27, 2010 and May 15, 2012. [24]

The respectable press’s embrace of extremism, its use of demonological terminology and vitriolic language to describe imperial adversaries is matched by its euphoric and effusive praise of state and pro-western mercenary terrorists. The systematic cover-up practiced by extremist journalism goes far beyond the cases of Colombia and Honduras. The reportage of the Financial Times Michael Peel on the NATO led destruction of Libya, Africa’s most advanced welfare state, and the rise to power of armed gangs of fanatical tribal and Islamic terrorists, is presented as a victory for a democracy over a “brutal dictatorship” [25]. Peel’s mendacity and cant is evident in his outrageous claims that the destruction of the Libyan economy and the mass torture and racial murders which ensued NATOs war, is a victory for the Libyan people.

The totalitarian twist in the respectable press is a direct consequence of its toadying to the extremist policies pursued by the western regimes. Since extremist measures, like the use of force, violence, assassination and torture, have become routine under the incumbent presidents and prime ministers, the reporters have no choice but to fabricate lies to rationalize these crimes, to spit out a constant flow of highly charged adjectives in order to convert victims into executioners and executioners into victims. Extremism in defense of pro-US regimes has led to the most grotesque accounts imaginable: Colombia and Mexico’s Presidents are the leaders of the most thoroughly narcotized economies in the hemisphere yet they are praised for their war on drugs, while Venezuela the most marginal producer is stigmatized as a major narco-pipeline. [26]

Articles with no factual bases, which are worthless as sources of objective information, direct us to seek for an underlying rationale. Colombia has signed a free trade agreement which will benefit US exports over Colombian by over a two to one ratio [27]. Mexico’s free trade policy has benefited US agribusiness and giant retailers by a similar ratio.

Extremism in all of its forms permeates Western regimes and finds its justification and rationalization in the respectable media whose job is to indoctrinate civil society and turn citizens into voluntary accomplices to extremism. By endlessly prefacing “reports” on Russia’s Putin as an authoritarian Soviet era tyrant, the respectable media obviate any discussion of his doubling of living standards and the 60% plus electoral triumph. By magnifying an authoritarian past, Gadhafi’s vast public works, social welfare programs and generous immigration and foreign aid programs to sub-Sahara Africa can be relegated to the memory hole. The respectable press’s praise of death squad Presidents Santos and Lobos is part of a large scale long term systematic shift from the hypocritical pretense of pursuing the virtues of a democratic republic to the open embrace of a virulent, murderous empire. The new journalists’ code reads “extremism in defense of empire is no vice”.

[1] There’s a general consensus that the respectable print media include The Financial Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.

[2] Financial Times (FT) 5/8/12;See also FT (5/4/12)”Colombia looks to consolidate gainsin country of complexities”

[3] FT 5/8/12 (p. 1)

[4] FT ibid

[5] BBC News , May 5, 2012

[6] ibid

[7] Renan Vega Cantor Sindicalicidio! Uncuento poco imaginativo) de Terroismo Laboral Bogotá, Feb. 25, 2012.

[8] ibid.

[9] ibid.

[10] Inforrme CODHES Novembre 2010.

[11] FT 5/8/12 p. 4.

[12] See the Annual Reports of CODHES, Reiniciar and Human Rights Watch

[13] Claroscuro Informe Aual 2011; Programa Somos Defensores Bogota 2012; Corporacion Colectivo de Abogados. Jan. – March 2012.

[14] Fiscalia General. Informe 2012

[15] http://www.falsos.positivos.blogspot.com

[16] Thom Shanker “Lessons of Iraq Help US Fight a Drug War in Honduras” New York Times, May 6, 2012.6

[17] ibid

[18] ibid

[19] Human Rights Watch, World Report 2012

[20] Honduran Human Rights, May 12m, 2012.

[21] ibid

[22] ibid

[23] The notorious cover-up of the car bombing is the handiwork of the FT’s star middle east journalists. See Michael Peel and Abigail Fielding-Smith “At Least 55 Die in two Damascus Explosions: Responsibility for Blasts Disputed”, FT 5/11/12.

[24] Honduras Human Rights, April 24, 2012.

[25] Michael Peel, “The Colonels Last Stand” FT 5/12 – 13/12

[26] One of Colombia’s most notorious paramilitary narco traffickers described the close financial and political ties between the Colombian United Self Defense terrorists and the Uribe-Santos regime. Se La Jornada 5/12/12.

[27] BBC News, 5/15/12. According to the US International Trade Commission estimates the value of US exports to Colombia could rise by $1.1 billion while Colombia’s exports could grow by $487 million.

May 21, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Comments Off on When the Respectable Become Extremists The Extremists Become Respectable: Colombia and the Mainstream Media

Starving the Syrians for Human Rights

Physicians for Human Rights Supports Tougher U.S. Sanctions

By John V. Walsh | Dissident Voice | May 10th, 2012

The wing of the U.S. human rights movement which targets foreign countries can wind up as a cruel business, aiding the ruthless and violent actions of the U.S. Empire, wittingly or not. For the U.S. all too often uses human rights as a cover for taking action against countries that defy the Empire’s control.

Some weeks back, I decided to look into one such group, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), an organization I had long refrained from joining out of skepticism. But perhaps, I thought, PHR had sidestepped the dangers inherent in this work. So I joined to find out.

Some days later I received my first email from PHR. I was floored by the heading, “Protect Syrian Citizens: Help Make Sanctions Tougher.” The word “tougher” struck me. The email read in part: “Help us impose tougher sanctions on Pres. Assad’s brutal regime. The Syria Sanctions Act of 2011, S. 1472, will target Syria’s energy and financial sectors. Contact your Senators today and urge them to back S. 1472.” The sponsor of this bill was Kirsten Gillibrand, and among the 12 co-sponsors were two neocon leaders, John McCain and Joe Lieberman, the latter hardly a human rights stalwart when it comes to Palestinians. Did that not ring alarm bells at PHR?

Sanctions Target the Syrian People, Bringing Poverty and Hunger

PHR argues that the sanctions are “targeted” at the oil and financial sectors and therefore are of consequence only for the Syrian elite. Since 25% of the revenue of the Syrian government comes from oil revenues (according to the text of the bill), expenditures providing needed relief to the population, for example, the current price supports for food, will certainly be affected. But it is not only the revenues of the Syrian government that are affected. The Financial Times reports:

The most significant sanctions are on the oil industry, estimated by the International Monetary Fund to have accounted for almost a fifth of gross domestic product in 2010. Analysts estimate that they helped contribute to a contraction of 2-10 per cent to Syria’s economy last year (2011).

The results of the sanctions should be obvious with only a moment’s thought. If the Assad regime is as nefarious as PHR claims, then certainly it will put itself way ahead of the common people as sanctions bite. Such an attitude is the norm not the exception in the world today. But even if the leaders of the human rights community could not figure this out, the impact of the sanctions on ordinary Syrians is hardly a secret, even in the mainstream press. Thus in March the Washington Post ran an article entitled “Syria running out of cash as sanctions take toll, but Assad avoids economic pain.” One did not even need to read beyond the headline to get the point. The article reports as follows:

The financial hemorrhaging has forced Syrian officials to stop providing education, health care and other essential services in some parts of the country, and has prompted the government to seek more help from Iran to prop up the country’s sagging currency.… Revenue from Syrian oil, meanwhile, has almost dried up, with even China and India declining to accept the nation’s crude….. At the same time, President Bashar al-Assad appears to have shielded himself and his inner circle from much of the pain of the sanctions and trade embargoes, which are driving up food and fuel prices for many of the country’s 20 million residents…

The Washington Post is not alone in this assessment. The Financial Times tells us:

A murky broader picture (emerges) suggesting that while some sanctions are hurting the regime of Bashar al-Assad, the president, and its alleged associates, they are also hurting ordinary Syrians … David Butter, a Middle East economic expert, said: ‘If it’s a scrap for limited resources, the regime is still in a position to get the first rights, whether fuel or cash or food. It [the sanctions regime] hurts them but to really cripple them is going to take a long time.

And the effect desired by the U.S. is quite clear. Another article in the Washington Post with the headline “Amid Unrest, Syrians Struggle to Feed Their Families” reports that food prices have risen as the result of sanctions. As a result the Assad government in March “introduced a system of price-fixing for essential foods that has stabilized the cost of bread, sugar and meat — although they remain much higher than they were a year ago. ….. ‘ Despite efforts to mitigate the problem around half of Syrians may live in poverty, said Salman Shaikh of the Brookings Institute in Doha, who argued that this is increasing anti-government feeling.” Regime change is the point. And the pronouncements of Obama and Hillary make this abundantly clear.

The Empire in Desperation Pulls Out all the Stops to bring Syria to Heel

Since Russia and China drew a line in the sand to stop the overthrow of the Syrian regime by the West, the United States appears increasingly desperate. That desperation has grown since the UN-brokered cease-fire has terminated much of the fighting and killing, however imperfectly.

But is not the Assad government to blame for the failures of the cease-fire? If so, it is certainly not alone. Recently the NYT reported: “An explosion killed at least three people in Aleppo, and two blasts hit a Damascus highway on Saturday in further signs that rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad are shifting tactics toward homemade explosives. Syria’s state news agency said three people had been killed, one of them a child, and 21 had been wounded by a booby-trapped car in the northern city of Aleppo. The Syrian Observatory for Humans Rights, an opposition group based in Britain that relies on information from Syrian activists, said the blast destroyed a carwash in Tal al-Zarazeer, a poor suburb, and killed five people. A member of the rebel Free Syrian Army claimed responsibility for the bombing, saying that the carwash was used by members of a pro-Assad militia.”

A car wash is hardly a target that is focused on the military. And today The Guardian and others reported that a Syrian military convoy protecting the UN observer mission was hit by a roadside explosion, injuring six Syrian soldiers, three badly. When Russian officials accuse the Syrian opposition of “terrorist tactics,” it appears that they have a point.

PHR has certainly done some good things in the past; for example, documenting human rights violations and medical abuses in Gaza and the West Bank – although this work is now solidly in the hands of the Israeli division of PHR, meaning, among other things, that it will get less attention in the U.S. And at no point has PHR called for boycotts against Israel, a regime that has killed untold thousands of Palestinians in what amounts to a long slow genocide. In the eyes of PHR it would appear that official enemies of the U.S. Empire deserve sanctions, whereas allies who violate the most basic human rights get an investigation and a tongue lashing – at most.

In fact, sanctions are the work of our imperial government; and when a “human rights” organization gets into the business of supporting them, it is de facto in the business of supporting the Empire and its drive for domination. 1 Token ruminations about human rights violations by U.S. “allies” or clients do not alter this fact. Such ruminations serve as little more than a cover for the real use of these groups to the Empire. Whether the PHR policy makers understand this or not makes little difference.

So what was this PHR member to do in the face of such a stance by his organization? This writer called the Boston office, the home office, to complain about the decision to back the Sanctions bill. I was given to understand by one staffer that I was not the only member to register dissatisfaction. I inquired who made this decision and how it was made. Initially I was told that such decisions were not made in the home office but at a smaller office in Washington, which works closely with Congress. In a subsequent email I was told that “the policy and program decisions are made by our Executive Management team.” Who is the “Executive Management Team”? This member does not know and has not been told. Furthermore the PHR web site does not contain any information about the Executive Management Team, as far as I can see. Are personnel of the U.S. government consulted in such deliberations? (The PHR membership clearly is not.) And should not such an important decision at least have some input from the members?

But PHR is not alone in providing cover for the designs of the Empire. They are but one example. Other human rights organizations appear to be jumping on the bandwagon. And, of course, the U.S. government is happy to have their support. Syria is clearly the gateway to Iran – and both countries have refused to one degree or another to submit to the will of the U.S. So regime change for both countries is high on the agenda of the West. That is the way of Empire.

PHR started out at its founding in 1978 documenting the abuses of the Pinochet government, a client of the Empire. Today it has descended into an instrument for justifying an attack on one of the official enemies of the U.S. That is the danger of a “human rights” approach if uninformed by an understanding of the designs and ruthlessness of the Empire.

The core of the physicians’ credo is “First do no harm.” Starving a people for the sake of “human rights” as part of a campaign that serves imperial machinations for regime change hardly fits into that injunction. And certainly PHR knows that diseases arising from privation and hunger fall most heavily on non-combatants, children and the elderly especially. That is no secret either. Perhaps PHR is echoing the judgment of Madeleine Albright on Iraq that the human carnage of the sanctions is “worth it.” However, from an ethical viewpoint, that judgment does not belong to citizens of the Empire living in comfort far from the victims in Syria.

  1. It is interesting to read what is necessary for such sanctions to be lifted once imposed. The bill states the following:“Termination will occur “on the date the President submits to Congress a certification that the government of Syria is democratically elected and representative of the people of Syria and a certification under the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003 that the Syrian government has:
    • ceased support for international terrorist groups;
    • ended its occupation of Lebanon;
    • ceased development and deployment of ballistic missiles and biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons and agreed to verification measures; and
    • ceased all support for, and facilitation of, terrorist activities in Iraq.”

    Given that one of the named “terrorist groups” is Hamas, which is the duly elected government in Gaza, and given the murkiness of the other requirements, this is a tall order indeed

John V. Walsh can be reached at john.endwar@gmail.com.

May 10, 2012 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , | Comments Off on Starving the Syrians for Human Rights