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Mystery of the ‘magnetic vaccines’

By Sally Beck | The Conservative Woman | July 19, 2021

FACT checkers at the BBC, Reuters and Snopes have been busy debunking the Covid vaccine ‘magnet challenge’. Social media including TikTok, Facebook and Instagram have been awash with videos showing people with magnets sticking to the exact spot on their arms where they had received a Covid jab. See some independently verified examples here. 

All three companies went to great lengths to explain why a magnet cannot possibly cling to your skin, without experimenting on a single vaccinated person to see what would happen.

BBC fact checker Jack Goodman spoke to many who said the magnet challenge worked for them and ‘were genuinely curious as to why’. He didn’t provide them with answers; instead he focused on one TikTok prankster called Emily who admitted she’d licked a magnet as a joke and stuck it to her arm.

It has been left to independent associations, doctors and journalists to test the phenomenon. Not On The Beeb founder and award-winning director Mark Playne tracked down a woman called Lorraine whose Instagram post of a magnet sticking to the Pfizer vaccine site on her left arm went viral. The fact checkers said the video was a fake but none of them bothered to visit her and test for themselves.

Playne told me: ‘Lorraine’s son Carl demonstrated the spot of magnetism on his mother. Even though I was inches away, I asked Carl to take the camera so I could try for myself. Feeling a magnet being tugged out of your hand, by a subtle yet defined magnetic force from under the skin of a living human being, is quite a shock.

‘Sensing the magnet being repelled and trying to flip so that the correct polarity was in contact with the skin was mind-blowing.’

A group called the European Forum for Vaccine Vigilance (EFVV) representing 25 European countries, took the magnet challenge to the Belle-Étoile shopping centre in Strassen, Luxembourg. The organisation represents over 100,000 medical professionals and scientists, from pro-vaccine choice groups, who are fighting for the 258 million people in Europe who have no freedom of choice when it comes to vaccination.

EFVV randomly interviewed 30 vaccinated and 30 unvaccinated people between June 1 and June 5. There were 15 men and 15 women in each group.

Their published report says: ‘In the non-vaccinated group, the number of people showing attraction to the magnet was zero. In the vaccinated group, 29 of the 30 individuals showed attraction to the magnet. The magnet adhered to their skin without difficulty.

‘Two individuals, a nurse who was one of the first to be vaccinated, and a financial analyst, showed abnormal electric field emission. It seems that people who were vaccinated earlier are more electromagnetic than people who were vaccinated more recently. The magnet adheres faster and holds better than in freshly vaccinated people.’

Some participants were shocked and upset at the results. EFVV said: ‘It was an extremely disorienting experiment for some. One lady cried and said that she had not wanted to be vaccinated but was forced to by her employer because she was in contact with customers.’

The obvious questions are: what is in the vaccine to cause magnetic pull and what are the consequences for the magnetised?

A former GP who prefers to remain anonymous hypothesises, and she stresses that it is a hypothesis, that graphene oxide, a synthetic form of carbon which is being studied as a vaccine delivery method, is the culprit. Graphene oxide is magnetic.

Dr T said: ‘They want to say it is crazy for us to consider that such a thing could be in the vaccinations and yet the literature points to research being exactly in this area for years. And we have magnetic people after vaccination.’

None of the Covid vaccines used in the UK (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna) lists graphene oxide as an ingredient and all three companies deny its inclusion. So far, independent researchers have not managed to obtain empty vaccine vials for analysis, although international lawyer Reiner Fuellmich, whose Coronavirus Investigative Committee Corona Committee Foundation (corona-ausschuss.de) is gathering evidence surrounding the pandemic response, says some vials they have tested contain graphene oxide while others do not.

Chemical engineering researchers from Monash University, Melbourne, have studied whether superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) could improve the efficiency of vaccine gene delivery, and Chinese scientists have studied graphene oxide for the same purpose.

The Graphene Flagship Project, a collaboration of 150 academic and research groups in 20 countries, is studying the safety of graphene oxide for many uses, including vaccines. The tests began in 2013 in the lab, and in animals, and are ongoing. The researchers warn that ‘there needs to be sound, science-based assessment of the potential impact on human health’ after they found it settled in the lungs, causing asbestosis-like illness. It also settled in the liver, caused cell death, mitochondrial dysfunction, changed the diversity in the gut and caused blood clots in mice after 15 minutes. We know that one of the few adverse reactions that has been accepted by the establishment are blood clots that can form in the brain and body, known as vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT). Last week AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson both announced they are studying their vaccines to see whether they can be modified to reduce blood clots.

Dr T, who has tested the magnet challenge on vaccine recipients herself, believes that graphene oxide is in the vaccine, and that it crosses the blood/brain barrier (BBB). The BBB is there to protect the brain from toxins, but scientists have been trying to breach it to treat diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. They discovered that polyethylene glycol (PEG), which is in the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA covid vaccines, can cross it and so can polysorbate 80, which is in the AstraZeneca vaccine. Both substances could allow graphene oxide through too.

Dr T thinks graphene oxide could be the ingredient affecting the 12 cranial nerves emerging from the mid-line structure in the brain and the brain stem. These nerves govern our mood, heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, digestion, sight, taste, pain, touch, hearing, balance, muscles inside the major organs, neck muscles and speech.

She said that damaged cranial nerves could account for the many serious neurological and physical adverse reactions reported to the Medicines Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the government body responsible for regulating all medicines in the UK.

The Yellow Card Scheme to July 9 shows 100,564 reports of headache and 9,649 of migraine. Eye disorders are 16,980 with blindness at 327. Psychiatric disorders stand at 20,856 and hallucinations at 1,183. Facial paralysis, including Bell’s Palsy, are 1,310, nervous system disorders 212,708, strokes and haemorrhages 2,207, Guillain-Barré syndrome 377, tremors 10,565 and dizziness 30,715. Pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis, seizures, paralysis, nosebleeds, all types of haemorrhage, vertigo, and tinnitus account for another 23,907 reactions. That’s on top of the 1,440 reported deaths.

Maddie de Garay, 12, from Cincinnati, Ohio, who took part in Pfizer’s vaccine trial for 12-15-year-olds, suffered a serious adverse reaction with neurological and physical symptoms that include seizures, loss of bladder control, loss of memory and heavy menstrual cycles. She is now in a wheelchair and she is fed through a tube.

Dr T said: ‘Maddie’s mum Stephanie said her symptoms worsened after she received an MRI scan. MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. If there are magnetic nanoparticles in the vaccine, and someone has an MRI those microscopic particles will be attracted to the scanner – it’s the biggest magnet you can get. They will act like shrapnel, ripping through the brain, damaging everything in their path.’

If patients who believe they are vaccine-damaged experience worsening symptoms post MRI, that should surely be a red flag for doctors?

July 18, 2021 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Former Pfizer VP answers Reuters ‘fact checker’: ‘A pack of lies’

By Mordechai Sones | AMERICA’S FRONTLINE DOCTORS | June 28, 2021

Former Pfizer Vice President and Chief Science Officer Michael Yeadon today told America’s Frontline Doctors (AFLDS) that a Reuters “fact checker” article calling his statements “misinformation” is “a mixture of straw men and sheer invention,” saying the Reuters article was “well worth rebutting”.

This is not the first time Reuters has tried to discredit Yeadon by “fact checker” obfuscation, although past attempts have been less half-hearted. This time, Reuters called Yeadon an “anti-vax proponent” who “has made unfounded claims”. Relying on an entity that calls itself “Meedan’s Health Desk, a group of public health scientists working to tackle medical misinformation online,” the Reuters “fact check” addresses Yeadon statements on asymptomatic spread, variants, the COVID-19 vaccine, and its use in pregnancy. The article’s concluding “verdict” tries to claim that “infected but symptom-free people can spread the coronavirus; vaccinated people are better protected but not 100% immune; research shows COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective for adults and pregnant women.”

Relating to the article, Yeadon said: “The narrative statements that have repeatedly been claimed by the authorities which are a pack of lies are:

“1. Asymptomatic transmission. It’s definitely a lie. Have you seen that video where Fauci states that ‘it’s always a symptomatic person who drives an epidemic and never people without symptoms’?

“A WHO doctor said exactly the same thing.

“There’s also a terrific peer-reviewed journal article showing that domestic transmission in asymptomatic cases was effectively zero.

“All marries up with the statements I’ve made, and with biological logic.

“2. Variants. They’re just being idiotic. I can show several good quality papers demonstrating that T-cells from a convalescent person or an immunized person each recognize all the then-available variants, again, as anticipated by fundamentals of immunology. The weak twaddle in their piece about antibodies is risible.

“3. Vaccines. The bastards are actually claiming they’re safe. Got them. We have VAERS, Yellow Card, and EMA monitoring. We have mechanism of toxicity. We have multiple open letters to EMA (warning of blood clots) which were immediately followed by vaccine withdrawals (for blood clots).

“4. Pregnancy/fertility. No one in their right mind thinks giving experimental treatments to pregnant women is other than reckless. Especially when reproductive toxicity testing is incomplete.”

Yeadon continued: “But on top of this stupidity, are two recent public disclosures: (I) the distribution of vaccine to tissues in mice shows a very disturbing concentration into ovaries. No one has followed it up, so the assumption has to be this is happening in humans too, and (II) our concern expressed in the December 2020 petition to EMA about immune cross-reactivity between spike protein and human syncytin-1 has been confirmed. A paper was very recently published showing young women making antibodies to syncytin-1 within days of vaccination.”

Summarizing, Yeadon concluded: “Of course this is wholly fraud. Imagine that the number of people in U.K. who’d actually been killed by the virus, instead of dying with it, was just a couple of thousand; you’d been on the streets with torches and pitchforks.

“You should be. Governments everywhere have lied and lied and lied about every one of the central narrative points about this virus.

“The effect of compliance with their ludicrous policy responses has been to hollow out and arguably to have destroyed economically several G20 counties, and actually increased the number of avoidable deaths, not least by deprivation of healthcare.

“These people all need locking up in that new high-security facility being built at speed at Wellingborough, Northants. The prima facie case against a dozen or so people in U.K. warrants their arrest pending criminal prosecutions.

“If these figures are of the same order of magnitude for other countries as well, and there is no reason to assume otherwise, then the plague is a deception of unprecedented proportions, and crimes committed against humanity on a huge scale have been committed here.”

July 16, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

The Notorious London Spy School Churning Out Many of the World’s Top Journalists

The Maughan Library Gate at Kings College London, UK. David JC | Alamy
By Alan MacLeod | MintPress News | June 4, 2021

LONDON — In a previous investigationMintPress News explored how one university department, the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, functions as a school for spooks. Its teaching posts are filled with current or former NATO officials, army officers and intelligence operatives to churn out the next generation of spies and intelligence officers. However, we can now reveal an even more troubling product the department produces: journalists. An inordinate number of the world’s most influential reporters, producers and presenters, representing many of the most well-known and respected outlets — including The New York TimesCNN and the BBC — learned their craft in the classrooms of this London department, raising serious questions about the links between the fourth estate and the national security state.

National security school

Increasingly, it appears, intelligence agencies the world over are beginning to appreciate agents with a strong academic background. A 2009 study published by the CIA described how beneficial it is to “use universities as a means of intelligence training,” writing that, “exposure to an academic environment, such as the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, can add several elements that may be harder to provide within the government system.”

The paper, written by two King’s College staffers, boasted that the department’s faculty has “extensive and well-rounded intelligence experience.” This was no exaggeration. Current Department of War Studies educators include the former Secretary General of NATO, former U.K. Minister of Defense, and military officers from the U.K, U.S. and other NATO countries. “I deeply appreciate the work that you do to train and to educate our future national security leaders, many of whom are in this audience,” said then-U.S. Secretary of Defense (and former CIA Director) Leon Panetta in a speech at the department in 2013.

King’s College London also admits to having a number of ongoing contracts with the British state, including with the Ministry of Defence (MoD), but refuses to divulge the details of those agreements.

American connections

Although a British university, King’s College markets itself heavily to American students. There are currently 1,265 Americans enrolled, making up about 4% of the student body. Many graduates of the Department of War Studies go on to attain powerful positions in major American media outlets. Andrew Carey, CNN’s Bureau Chief in Jerusalem, for example, completed a master’s there in 2012. Carey’s coverage of the latest Israeli attack on Gaza has presented the apartheid state as “responding” to Hamas rocket attacks, rather than being the instigator of violence. A leaked internal memo Carey sent to his staff last month at the height of the bombardment instructed them to always include the fact that the Gazan Ministry of Health is overseen by Hamas, lest readers begin to believe the well-documented Palestinian casualty figures brought on by days of bombing. “We need to be transparent about the fact that the Ministry of Health in Gaza is run by Hamas. Consequently, when we cite latest casualty numbers and attribute to the health ministry in Gaza, we need to include the fact that it is Hamas run,” read his instructions.


Carey leaked memo

King’s College alumnus turned CNN Jerusalem bureau chief Andrew Carey instructed reporters on how to cover Israel’s latest assault on Gaza

Once publicized, his comments elicited considerable pushback. “This is a page straight out of Israel’s playbook. It serves to justify the attack on civilians and medical facilities,” commented Al-Jazeera Senior Presenter and Producer Dena Takruri.

The New York Times, the United States’ most influential newspaper, has also employed Department of War Studies alumni. Christiaan Triebert (M.A., 2016), for example, is a journalist on their visual investigations team. He even won a Pulitzer Prize for “Revelations about Russia and Vladimir Putin’s aggressive actions in countries including Syria and Europe.” Hiring students from the school for spooks to bash Russia appears to be a common Times tactic, as it also employed Lincoln Pigman between 2016 and 2018 at its Moscow bureau.

Josh Smith, senior correspondent for influential news agency Reuters and formerly its correspondent in Afghanistan, also graduated from the department in question, as did The Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Ford.

Arguably the most influential media figure from the university, however, is Ruaridh Arrow. Arrow was a producer at many of the U.K.’s largest news channels, including Channel 4Sky News and the BBC, where he was world duty editor and senior producer on Newsnight, the network’s flagship political show. In 2019, Arrow left the BBC to become an executive producer at NBC News.

The British invasion

Unsurprisingly for a university based in London, the primary journalistic destination for Department of War Studies graduates is the United Kingdom. Indeed, the BBC, the country’s powerful state broadcaster, is full of War Studies alumni. Arif Ansari, head of news at the BBC Asian Networkcompleted a masters analyzing the Syrian Civil War in 2017 and was soon selected for a leadership development scheme, placing him in charge of a team of 25 journalists who curate news primarily geared toward the substantial Middle Eastern and South Asian communities in Great Britain.

Many BBC employees begin studying at King’s years after their careers have already taken off, and balance their professional lives with pursuing new qualifications. Ahmed Zaki, Senior Broadcast Journalist at BBC Global News, began his master’s six years after he started at the BBC. Meanwhile, Ian MacWilliam — who spent ten years at BBC World Service, the country’s official news broadcast worldwide, specializing in sensitive regions like Russia, Afghanistan and Central Asia — decided to study at King’s more than 30 years after completing his first degree.

Another influential War Studies alumnus at the World Service is Aliaume Leroy, producer for its Africa Eye program. Well-known BBC News presenter Sophie Long also graduated from the department, working for Reuters and ITN before joining the state broadcaster.

“It’s an open secret that King’s College London Department of War Studies operates as the finishing school for Anglo-American securocrats. So it’s maybe not a surprise that graduates of its various military and intelligence courses also enter into a world of corporate journalism that exists to launder the messaging of these same ‘security’ agencies,” Matt Kennard — an investigative journalist for Declassified U.K. who has previously exposed the university’s connections to the British state — told MintPress. “It is, however, a real and present danger to democracy. The university imprimatur gives the department’s research the patina of independence while it works, in reality, as the unofficial research arm of the U.K. Ministry of Defence,” he added.


Neri Zilber

Israeli writer and King’s College alumnus Neri Zilber has bylines in many of the media’s most important outlets

The Department of War Studies also trains many international journalists and commentators, including Nicholas Stuart of the Canberra Times (Australia); Pakistani writer Ayesha Siddiqa, whose work can be found in The New York TimesAl-JazeeraThe Hindu and many other outlets; and Israeli writer Neri Zilber, a contributor to The Daily BeastThe GuardianForeign Policy and Politico.

What’s it all about?

Why are so many influential figures in our media being hothoused in a department well known for its connections to state power, for its faculty being active or former military or government officials, and for producing spies and operatives for various three-letter agencies? The point of this is not to allege that these journalists are all secretly card-carrying spooks: they are not. Rather, it is to highlight the alarmingly close links between the national security state and the fourth estate we rely on to be a check on their power and to hold them accountable.

Journalists trained in this sort of environment are far more likely to see the world in the same manner as their professors do. And perhaps they would be less likely to challenge state power when the officials they are scrutinizing were their classmates or teachers.

These sorts of questions abound when such a phenomenon exists: Why are so many journalists choosing to study at this particular department, and why do so many go on to be so influential? Are they being vetted by security agencies, with or without their knowledge? How independent are they? Will they just repeat British and American state talking points, as the Department of War Studies’ publications do?

On the question of vetting, the BBC admitted that, at least until the 1990s, it conspired with domestic spying agency MI5 to make sure that people with left-wing and/or anti-war leanings, or views critical of British foreign policy and empire were secretly blocked from being hired. When pressed on whether this policy is still ongoing, the broadcaster refused to comment, citing “security issues” — a response that is unlikely to reassure skeptics.

“While it strikes me as very interesting that a single academic institution could play such a major role in the recruitment of pro-establishment activist intellectuals and delivery of the same to the media, it is not so surprising,” Oliver Boyd-Barrett, Professor Emeritus at Bowling Green State’s School of Media and Communication and an expert in collusion between government and media, told MintPress, adding:

Elite institutions in the past and doubtless still today have been major playgrounds for intelligence services. The history of the modern nation-state generally, not just the USA, seems to suggest that national unity — and therefore elite safety — is regarded by elites as achievable only through careful management and often suppression or diversion of dissent. Far more resources are typically committed to this than many citizens, drilled in the propaganda of democracy, realize or care to concede.

The Bellingcat Boys

While the journalists cataloged above are not spooks, some other Department of War Studies figures working in journalism could possibly be described as such, particularly those around the influential and increasingly notorious investigative website Bellingcat.

Cameron Colquhoun, for instance, spent almost a decade at GCHQ, Britain’s version of the NSA, where he was a senior analyst running cyber and counter-terrorism operations. He holds qualifications from both King’s College London and the State Department. This background is not disclosed in his Bellingcat profile, which merely describes him as the managing director of a private intelligence company that “conduct[s] ethical investigations” for clients around the world.

Bellingcat’s senior investigator Nick Waters spent four years as an officer in the British Army, including a tour in Afghanistan, where he furthered the British state’s objectives in the region. After that, he joined the Department of War Studies and Bellingcat.

For the longest time, Bellingcat’s founder Eliot Higgings dismissed charges that his organization was funded by the U.S. government’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED) — a CIA cutout organization — as a ridiculous “conspiracy.” Yet by 2017, he was admitting that it was true. A year later, Higgins joined the Department of War Studies as a visiting research associate. Between 2016 and 2019 he was also a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, the brains behind the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Higgins appears to have used the university department as a recruiting ground, commissioning other War Studies graduates, such as Jacob Beeders and the aforementioned Christiaan Triebert and Aliaume Leroy, to write for his site.

Bellingcat is held in very high regard by the CIA. “I don’t want to be too dramatic, but we love [Bellingcat],” said Marc Polymeropoulos, the agency’s former deputy chief of operations for Europe and Eurasia. Other officers explained that Bellingcat could be used to outsource and legitimize anti-Russia talking points. “The greatest value of Bellingcat is that we can then go to the Russians and say ‘there you go’ [when they ask for evidence],” added former CIA Chief of Station Daniel Hoffman.

Bellingcaught

A recent MintPress investigation explored how Bellingcat acts to launder national security state talking points into the mainstream under the guise of being neutral investigative journalists themselves.

Newly leaked documents show how BellingcatReuters and the BBC were covertly cooperating with the U.K.’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to undermine the Kremlin and promote regime change in Moscow. This included training journalists and promoting explicitly anti-Russian media across Eastern Europe. Unfortunately, the FCO notedBellingcat had been “somewhat discredited,” as it constantly spread disinformation and was willing to produce reports for anyone with money.

Nevertheless, a new European Parliament proposal published last month recommends hiring Bellingcat to assist in producing reports that would lay the groundwork for sanctioning Russia, for throwing it out of international bodies, and to “assist Russia’s transformation into a democracy.” In other words, to overthrow the government of Vladimir Putin.

An academic journalistic nexus

The Department of War Studies is also part of this pro-NATO, anti-Russia group. Quite apart from being staffed by soldiers, spooks and government officials, it puts out influential reports advising Western governments on foreign and defense policy. For instance, a study entitled “The future strategic direction of NATO” advises that member states must increase their military budgets and allow American nuclear weapons to be stored in their countries, thereby “shar[ing] the burden.” It also recommended that NATO must redouble its commitment to opposing Russia while warning that it needed urgently to form a “coherent policy” on the Chinese threat.

Other War Studies reports claim that Russia is carrying out “information-psychological warfare” through its state channels RT and Sputnik, and counsel that the West must use its technical means to prevent its citizens from consuming this foreign propaganda.

King’s College London academics have also proven crucial in keeping dissident publisher Julian Assange imprisoned. A psychiatrist who has worked with the War Studies department testified in court that the Australian was suffering only “moderate” depression and that his suicide risk was “manageable,” concluding that extraditing him to the United States “would not be unjust.” As Matt Kennard’s investigation found, the U.K. Ministry of Defence had provided £2.2 million ($3.1 million) in funding to the institute where he worked (although the psychiatrist in question claimed his work was not directly funded by the MoD).

King’s College London markets the War Studies department to both graduates and undergraduates as a stepping stone towards a career in journalism. In its “career prospects” section for its master’s course in war studies, it tells interested students that “graduates go on to work for NGOs, the FCO, the MoD, the Home Office, NATO, the UN or pursue careers in journalism, finance, academia, the diplomatic services, the armed forces and more.”

Likewise, undergraduates are told that:

You will gain an in-depth and sophisticated understanding of war and international relations, both as subjects worthy of study and as intellectual preparation for the widest possible range of career choices, including in government, journalism, research, and humanitarian and international organisations.

Courses such as “New Wars, New Media, New Journalism” fuse together journalism and intelligence and are overseen by War Studies academics.

It is perhaps unsurprising that the department has taught many influential politicians, including foreign heads of state and members of the British parliament. But at least there is considerable overlap between the fields of defense policy and politics. The fact that the very department that trains high state officials and agents of secretive three letter agencies is also the place that produces many of the journalists we rely on to stand up to those officials and keep them in check is seriously problematic.

An unhealthy respect for authority

Unfortunately, rather than challenging power, many modern media outlets amplify its message uncritically. State officials and intelligence officers are among the least trustworthy sources, journalistically speaking. Yet many of the biggest stories in recent years have been based on nothing except the hearsay of officials who would not even put their names to their claims.

The level of credulity modern journalists have for the powerful was summed up by former CNN White House Correspondent Michelle Kosinski, who last month stated that:

As an American journalist, you never expect:

  • Your own govt to lie to you, repeatedly
  • Your own govt to hide information the public has a right to know
  • Your own govt to spy on your communications

Unfortunately, credulity stretches into outright collaboration with intelligence in some cases. Leaked emails show that the Los Angeles Times’ national security reporter Ken Dilanian sent his articles directly to the CIA to be edited before they were published. Far from hurting his career, however, Dilanian is now a correspondent covering national security issues for NBC News.

Boyd-Barrett said that governments are dependent on “the assistance of a penetrated, colluding and docile mainstream media which of late — and in the context of massive confusion over Internet disinformation campaigns, real and alleged — appear ever more problematic guardians of the public right to know.”

In recent years, the national security state has increased its influence over social media giants as well. In 2018, Facebook and the Atlantic Council entered a partnership whereby the Silicon Valley giant partially outsourced curation of its 2.8 billion users’ news feeds to the Council’s Digital Forensics Lab, supposedly to help stop the spread of fake news online. The result, however, has been the promotion of “trustworthy” corporate media outlets like Fox News and CNN and the penalization of independent and alternative sources, which have seen their traffic decrease precipitously. Earlier this year, Facebook also hired former NATO press officer and current Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council Ben Nimmo to be its chief of intelligence. Reddit’s Director of Policy is also a former Atlantic Council official.

Meanwhile, in 2019, a senior Twitter executive for the Middle East region was unmasked as an active duty officer in the British Army’s 77th Brigade, its unit dedicated to psychological operations and online warfare. The most notable thing about this event was the almost complete lack of attention it received from the mainstream press. Coming at a time when foreign interference online was perhaps the number one story dominating the news cycle, only one major outlet, Newsweek, even mentioned it. Furthermore, the reporter who covered the story left his job just weeks later, citing stifling top-down censorship and a culture of deference to national security interests.

The purpose of this article is not to accuse any of those mentioned of being intelligence agency plants (although at least one person did actually work as an intel officer). The point is rather to highlight that we now have a media landscape where many of the West’s most influential journalists are being trained by exactly the same people in the same department as the next generation of national security operatives.

It is hardly a good look for a healthy, open democracy that so many spies, government officials, and journalists trusted to hold them accountable on our behalf are all being shot out of the very same cannon. Learning side by side has helped to create a situation where the fourth estate has become overwhelmingly deferential to the so-called deep state, where anonymous official’s words are taken as gospel. The Department of War Studies is just one part of this wider phenomenon.T

Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles

June 5, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How the British government secretly funded Syrian cartoons and comic books as anti-Assad propaganda aimed at children

By Kit Klarenberg | RT | November 16, 2020

Leaked documents show how the Foreign & Commonwealth Office spent millions setting up a clandestine network to churn out pro-rebel material, much of it aimed at winning the hearts and minds of kids.

A swath of internal UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) files have exposed a number of covert ways in which London sought to both propagandize Syrian children and turn them into weapons, in a vast, long-running information warfare campaign at home and abroad.

The documents are just some of the bombshell papers released by hacktivist collective Anonymous, outlining a variety of cloak-and-dagger actions undertaken by the UK government against the Syrian state over many years.

The overriding objective behind them all was to destabilize the government of Bashar Assad, convince Syrians, Western citizens, foreign governments, and international bodies that the Free Syrian Army (FSA) was a legitimate alternative, and flood media the world over with pro-opposition propaganda.

Children figured prominently in a number of the plans, in more ways than one. ARK, a shadowy firm headed by veteran FCO operative Alistair Harris, was central to many of these covert efforts, which may have cost the FCO many millions in total.

Undermining government legitimacy

In one file, the company outlines pricing for runs of propaganda material including “public service announcement animations” (£4,570), “political cartoons” (£1,200), and “comic books (24 colored pages)” (£30,200).

A separate proposal submitted to the FCO by communications firm Albany details ways of offering clandestine support to “oppositionist grassroots media activism.” The company conducted numerous psyops in Syria – including managing the Syrian National Coalition’s communications during the 2014 Geneva II peace conference – and collaborated extensively with ARK in the process.

Creating “fictional material” such as radio dramas and “digital comic strips for internet deployment” was listed one of the key ways the firm would “bolster the values and reputation of the Syrian opposition,” and undermine the government’s “core narrative and legitimacy.”

Precisely which projects emerged from these pitches, if any, isn’t clear from the files themselves, but in May journalist Ian Cobain revealed Hentawi, a comic aimed at 9-to-15 year-old Syrians, was a clandestine creation of the FCO, and its founder Naji Jerf was an employee of a firm contracted by the department.

The files released by Anonymous indicate that the company in question was ARK, who provided Jerf’s CV – it reveals that from 2006 to 2007, he was Editor of a UAE-based magazine, Attfal Al Yaom (Children of Today).

Such experience undoubtedly assisted in the production of Hentawi, which featured very slick comic strips slyly extolling equality and democracy and other values, quizzes and games, and inspiring stories of athletes, celebrities and the like.

Cobain also exposed how FCO contractors produced animated films for Syrian children, such as Goal to Syria, about a young footballer who scores the winning goal in the 2027 Asia Cup final, leading the Syrian team to victory.

As the player prepares to attempt a deciding penalty, his mind flashes back to Aleppo in 2014. In the wake of a bombing raid, the White Helmets rush in an ambulance to rescue him from rubble – en-route they pass a local man who screams, “first they bombed us with chemicals, and now barrel bombs!”

After prising the boy free and carrying him to safety, a White Helmet shoots him the peace sign. Back in 2027, he shoots and scores, with the commentators praising the “lion of Damascus” for his heroic victory. As the screen fades to black, viewers are presented with text hailing the White Helmets’ achievements during the conflict, claiming the group “represent the humanity and spirit of the Syrian people.”

Other leaked FCO files make clear ARK played a pivotal role in constructing and promoting the White Helmets’ benevolent image worldwide, developing “an internationally-focused communications campaign to raise global awareness” of the group in order to “keep Syria in the news.” Goal to Syria was shown at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, and can thus be considered another example of this effort in practice, on top of the clip’s domestic purpose.

Somebody think of the children

The same file listing Naji Jerf’s resumé indicates that ARK worked with civil society organizations “to develop products for children” in Syria, including “mobile cinema screenings.”

The company’s expansive network of freelancers in the country, which ARK itself extensively trained at quite some cost to the FCO, were said to “frequently cover such events.” These reports would then be fed to ARK’s “well-established contacts” at major news outlets including Al Jazeera, BBC, CNN, Guardian, New York Times, and Reuters, “further amplifying their effect.”

These outlets similarly “amplified” the impactful propaganda of other FCO contractors working in Syria. In July 2019, an image of two young Syrian girls trapped in rubble in Idlib attempting to haul their sister to safety as she dangled off the precipice of a dilapidated building, their father looking on in horror above, spread far and wide on social media.

The photo, snapped by a photographer for popular Syrian news service SY24, was reported the world over. Unbeknownst to readers, SY24 was created and funded by The Global Strategy Network (TGSN), founded by Richard Barrett, a former MI6 counter-terrorism director.

In a file submitted to the FCO, TGSN boasted of how “campaigns” it broadcast via SY24 generated “huge global coverage,” having been seen by “many hundreds of millions of people,” and “attracting comment as far as the UN Security Council.”

SY24 content was produced by a network of stringers TGSN both trained and provided with equipment, including “cameras and video editing software.” The firm drew particular attention to a team of female stringers it tutored, “who provide about 40 percent of all SY content,” and were part of “a broad ‘network of networks’” enabling TGSN “to drive stories into the mainstream.”

As with Albany and ARK, TGSN engaged in activities to propagandize Syria’s youth, offering to bring projectors to refugee camps and “rural areas” to screen material to young residents, including “prosocial cartoons for children, films chosen with regard to conflict sensitivity and gender, and popular football events to drive participation.”

The company also conspired with ARK on several surreptitious endeavors, including a campaign dubbed ‘Back to School.’ As its name implies, under its auspices young Syrians in opposition-occupied Idlib returned to school – the two FCO accomplices promised to ensure it was a major media event.

In conjunction with Idlib City Council, opposition commanders, and other elements on the ground, ARK and TGSN planned a comprehensive, “unified” communications campaign using “shared slogans, hashtags and branding.” Rebel fighters were to be engaged in order to “clear roads” and “enable children and teachers to get to schools,” all the while filmed by the pair’s voluminous stringer network, footage which would be “disseminated online and on broadcast channels.”

Junior war propagandists

It is in the context of such cynical, heartstring-tugging child exploitation by the FCO that the phenomenon of Bana Alabed gains an even more suspicious, sinister dimension.

In 2016, at the age of just seven, Bana briefly became a celebrated figure among advocates of Western military intervention in Syria, for tweets she allegedly posted documenting the siege of Aleppo.

Within days of her account being registered in September that year, she amassed a sizeable following, firing messages at Assad, Vladimir Putin, and Barack Obama, using hashtags such as #StandWithAleppo, #HolocaustAleppo, #MassacreInAleppo and #StopAleppoMassacre. She also gained a prominent media profile, was dubbed by more than one pundit the “Anne Frank” of the Syrian crisis, and was invited on to major news networks to denounce Assad and the Syrian Arab Army.

Nonetheless, critics were puzzled as to how such a young girl in a city subject to frequent power cuts could have acquired such an apparent mastery of the English language, and tweet so frequently. Concerns were also raised about the interventionist nature of some of the tweets ostensibly posted by Bana, including an apparent endorsement of the prospect of World War III.

Even mainstream journalists acknowledged her video statements were almost undoubtedly scripted, The New Yorker stating Bana was clearly “being coached… to communicate her thoughts in a language she is only beginning to learn.”

Bana went on to ink a lucrative deal with publishing giant Simon & Schuster, after signing up with talent and marketing agency The Blair Partnership, founded by Neil Blair, board member of the UK branch of the Abraham Fund, a group sponsored by Israeli bank Hapoalim, which finances the construction of Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Bana had largely disappeared by July the next year, when Syrian journalist Khaled Iskef visited the Alabeds’ abandoned home. He found it was situated round the corner from an al-Nusra headquarters, and less than 400 meters from Al-Qaeda’s Aleppo nerve-center. Inside, he discovered a notebook documenting her father Ghassan’s work with extremist elements, as a result of his position as military trainer for Islamic Sawfa Brigade.

During that period, he worked in the Shariah Council in the Aleppo state Eye Hospital, which was under the control of al-Nusra. The notebook indicated the Council passed decisions on imprisonment and assassination of captured civilians to the terorrist group.

Since-deleted social media posts reveal Bana’s grandfather Mohammed was an arms dealer and had a weapons maintenance shop in Sha’ar, at which he serviced killing apparatuses for terrorist factions, situated opposite a school-turned-base for al-Nusra.

Bana’s Twitter account frequently complained of her inability to go ‘back to school’ – in a perverse irony, Iskef found al-Nusra used a former school near her home as a headquarters.

Kit Klarenberg is an investigative journalist exploring the role of intelligence services in shaping politics and perceptions. Follow Kit on Twitter @KitKlarenberg

November 16, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Let’s fact-check Reuters: they say DNA vaccines don’t change your genetic makeup—true or false?

By Jon Rappoport | June 23, 2020

As my readers know, I’ve been reporting on new types of technology that could be used in a coming COVID-19 vaccine—and warning about the consequences.

One such technology is: DNA vaccines. They would alter recipients’ genetic makeup permanently.

But Reuters has seen fit to claim: “A future COVID-19 [DNA] vaccine will not genetically modify humans.” This comes from their “fact-check team” — May 18, 2020: “False claim: A COVID-19 vaccine will genetically modify humans.”

To reach this conclusion, Reuters cites two people: “Mark Lynas, a visiting fellow at Cornell University’s Alliance for Science group”, and “Dr. Paul McCray, Professor of Pediatrics, Microbiology, and Internal Medicine at the University of Iowa.”

I have cited the New York Times, March 10, 2015, “Protection Without a Vaccine.” Here are quotes from the Times article:

“By delivering synthetic genes into the muscles of the [experimental] monkeys, the scientists are essentially re-engineering the animals to resist disease.”

“’The sky’s the limit,’ said Michael Farzan, an immunologist at Scripps and lead author of the new study.”

“The first human trial based on this strategy — called immunoprophylaxis by gene transfer, or I.G.T. — is underway, and several new ones are planned.” [That was five years ago.]

“I.G.T. is altogether different from traditional vaccination. It is instead a form of gene therapy. Scientists isolate the genes that produce powerful antibodies against certain diseases and then synthesize artificial versions. The genes are placed into viruses and injected into human tissue, usually muscle.”

[Here is the punch line] “The viruses invade human cells with their DNA payloads, and the synthetic gene is incorporated into the recipient’s own DNA. If all goes well, the new genes instruct the cells to begin manufacturing powerful antibodies.”

The Times article taps Dr. David Baltimore for an opinion:

“Still, Dr. Baltimore says that he envisions that some people might be leery of a vaccination strategy that means altering their own DNA, even if it prevents a potentially fatal disease.”

So it’s a battle of the experts. The two men Reuters cited, versus the Times’ David Baltimore.

I don’t hold up the scientific work of any of these men for great acclaim. I’m only interested in which man knows whether a DNA vaccine would permanently alter the genetic makeup of every recipient’s DNA.

David Baltimore is a Nobel Laureate (1975, in Physiology/Medicine), and the past president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1997-2006). He’s one of the most famous scientists in the world.

I’m betting Reuters would happily trade their unknown experts for Baltimore, if he would side with their claim. Perhaps they’ll now approach him, and perhaps he’ll change his mind. But the NY Times has him on the record, in 2015, admitting that DNA vaccines do alter genetic makeup.

World famous mainstream experts don’t readily admit this sort of thing out in the open, unless they’re stating the obvious.

The verdict on the Reuters fact-check team? Fact-checkers checked the wrong box.

Final point for the moment: Researchers are fond of saying their genetic technologies are quite safe. This a bald-faced lie. Claiming, for example, that a DNA COVID vaccine would alter humans’ genetic makeup in entirely predictable and harmless ways is like saying a car without brakes, doing a hundred miles an hour, set loose on a highway during rush hour, would create no damage whatsoever.

SOURCES:

reuters.com/article/uk-factcheck-covid-19-vaccine-modify/false-claim-a-covid-19-vaccine-will-genetically-modify-humans-idUSKBN22U2BZ

nytimes.com/2015/03/10/health/protection-without-a-vaccine.html

blog.nomorefakenews.com/tag/dna/

June 24, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

Dr. Andrew Kaufman Responds To Reuters Fact Check on COVID-19 Vaccine Genetic Modification

Spiro Skouras | June 20, 2020

In this interview, Dr. Andrew Kaufman joins Spiro for a second time. The first time Dr. Kaufman joined Spiro, they talked about topics that apparently, nobody is allowed to talk about, if you dare question the official story that is.

In the first interview the two discussed the coronavirus, they covered testing and they covered the vaccine. The video was quickly approaching 100k views but YouTube removed the video after only a couple days. This video will likely be taken down as well, because it does not conform to the establishment’s narrative.

Not only did YouTube remove the previous video, Reuters, which is a massive international news publication that news sites from all over the world obtain their talking points from, published a fact checking report attempting to debunk Dr. Kaufman’s claims that the new COVID-19 DNA vaccine would genetically modify humans. In this must see report, Dr Kaufman responds to the Reuters ‘fact checking’ report.

Dr. Andrew Kaufman: They Want To Genetically Modify Us With The COVID-19 Vaccine (Updated) https://www.activistpost.com/2020/05/…

Doctor Andrew Kaufman Website https://www.andrewkaufmanmd.com

False claim: A COVID-19 vaccine will genetically modify humans https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-fa…

DNA, RNA and protein – the Central Dogma https://science-explained.com/theory/…

The Emerging Role of DNA Vaccines https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/…

Advancing Novel Experimental Gene-based COVID-19 Vaccine, AAVCOVID https://eye.hms.harvard.edu/news/harv…

Adenovirus DNA Replication https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/arti…

CRISPR-Cas9: Gene Drives https://wyss.harvard.edu/media-post/c…

Antisperm Contraceptive Vaccines: Where we are and where we are going? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/arti…

The HSD-hCG Vaccine Prevents Pregnancy in Women: Feasibility Study of a Reversible Safe Contraceptive Vaccine https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9083611/

Development of antifertility vaccine using sperm specific proteins https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/arti…

State Bar Group Calls for ‘Mandatory’ COVID-19 Vaccinations, Regardless of Objections https://www.law.com/newyorklawjournal…

AstraZeneca CEO Soriot says fast-tracked COVID-19 shot will protect for just one year https://www.fiercepharma.com/vaccines…

New COVID-19 restrictions will be needed for anti-vaxxers https://www.theage.com.au/national/vi…

Colorado Bill Would Require “Re-Education” Classes for Parents Who Refuse Coronavirus Vaccine https://www.lifenews.com/2020/06/09/c…

MLAs vote to drop notwithstanding clause from mandatory vaccination bill https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-br…

Among Americans who say they wouldn’t get vaccinated, 7 in 10 worry about safety https://www.foxbusiness.com/money/get…

There appears to be a coronavirus vaccine on the horizon—but it’s a GMO and the FDA would need to approve testing https://geneticliteracyproject.org/20…

GMO tomato as edible COVID vaccine? Mexican scientists work to make it a reality https://allianceforscience.cornell.ed…

June 24, 2020 Posted by | Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | Leave a comment

The Myth of the Apolitical Scientist

It’s absurd to say scientists are only now speaking up. Reuters publishes egregious climate propaganda.

By Donna Laframboise | Big Picture News | October 28, 2019

Matthew Green is not a naive teenager. He’s a seasoned journalist who has worked in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and who has written a book about a Ugandan warlord. So how do we explain the Reuters story he filed earlier this month, headlined Scientists endorse mass civil disobedience to force climate action?

Its major theme is that there’s something new going on, that the climate situation is so dire scientists have begun behaving in an extraordinary manner. 400 scientists from 20 countries have broken “with the caution traditionally associated” with their profession, he says. Having previously “shunned overt political debate,” they’ve now discovered “a moral duty” to “defy convention.”

Green quotes Julia Steinberger, an ecological economist:

We can’t allow the role of scientists to be just to write papers and publish them in obscure journals and hope somehow that somebody out there will pay attention. We need to be rethinking the role of the scientist… We can’t allow science as usual.

Lordy, where have these people been? Living in a cave for the past 50 years? Activist scientists who insist that “incalculable human suffering” will result if the world doesn’t prioritize their opinions above all else, are nothing new. Not even close.

In his 1968 bestseller, The Population Bomb, biology professor Paul Ehrlich declared that “the time of famines” had arrived. The only “hope for survival” was “drastic worldwide measures.” His book was a political treatise that advocated “brutal and heartless decisions” to solve a problem that never did materialize.

The 1972 bestseller, titled A Blueprint for Survival, similarly proclaimed that “a succession of famines, epidemics, social crises and wars” were inevitable if governments didn’t take specific, dramatic actions. Politicians and the public were urged to pay attention since “34 distinguished biologists, ecologists, doctors and economists” had attached their names to that blueprint.

Steinberger’s comments to the contrary, it has been a long time since we’ve had ‘science as usual.’ Here’s a quote from a book published in 1976:

In the past, specialists have often been reluctant to engage in political debate or to share their knowledge and fears with the general public… This generalization no longer holds true. In many branches of science there are radical movements. Increasingly, both in the rich and poor worlds, scientists are involved in active advocacy which they see as an intellectual and ethical duty.” [bold added]

In 1988, climatologist and activist James Hansen mainstreamed global warming as a planetary crisis. Since then, rather than expressing his political opinions lawfully, he has behaved in a manner that has resulted in his arrest on at least four occasions: June 2009, September 2010, August 2011, and February 2013. His actions have produced headlines such as Top NASA scientist arrested (again) in White House protest.

Canadian geneticist and household name David Suzuki has similarly declared it “crystal clear that the planet is losing a battle with the deadliest predator in the history of life on Earth” – humanity. That statement, and many others characteristic of a drama queen, appeared in his 1990 book, It’s a Matter of Survival. 29 years ago, the message from this scientist was unambiguous: adopt his advice or really bad things would happen.

In 2003, environmental biologist Stephen Schneider boycotted a scientific conference because the presentations made there would afterward be published by Cambridge University Press. Schneider said he’d only participate if that publisher withdrew Bjorn Lomborg’s book, The Skeptical Environmentalist. Far from being neutral and dispassionate, this major figure in climate science was demanding the equivalent of book burning.

In 2007, Mark Serreze, a “senior scientist at the U.S. government’s National Snow and Ice Data Center,” told the Associated Press: “The Arctic is screaming.” Within the same article, a second scientist, Jay Zwally, was equally over-the-top with his language. Global warming had already become so serious, he said, “the canary has died.”

Elsewhere, I’ve explained how 5 of the 10 lead authors of a crucial chapter in a 2007 climate report had documented links to the activist lobby group, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Indeed, 79 individuals with ties to the WWF helped write that report.

In 2009, hundreds of Canadian scientists, as well as several scientific organizations, signed an open letter published in a national newspaper promoting particular responses to climate change. The letter was orchestrated by the WWF. And let’s not forget UK economist Nicholas Stern’s insistence that a 2009 climate meeting was absolutely our “last chance to save the planet.”

click for full article

In 2010, climate modeller Andrew Weaver (who went on to become the leader of the Green Party in the province of British Columbia), called Canada’s democratically elected Prime Minister a “dictator,” and compared Canada to Zimbabwe in a media interview that was anything but an example of dispassionate science.

In 2012, Canadian economist and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) author Mark Jaccard was among 13 people arrested after blockading a coal train. Meanwhile, a powerful member of the Obama administration, scientist Jane Lubchenco, flew to Australia to deliver a speech that urged other scientists to become passionate, engaged activists.

In 2014, when the IPCC released a portion of its new report, it didn’t stick carefully to neutral language. Instead, it presented itself as the planet’s saviour (see the image at the top of this post).

In 2015, twenty US academics publicly urged President Obama to target dissenting scientists with organized crime-type investigations. Also that year, dozens of “members of the scientific community” issued an open letter urging museums to spurn donations from people alleged to be large “contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.”

I could go on. And on. And on. For at least half a century, numerous scientists have spoken publicly about issues of the day. They have scolded and threatened us. They have frightened our children, and consumed police resources.

Do scientists who work hard at being neutral and dispassionate still exist? Of course. But it is laughably wrong for journalist Green to suggest that, only now in 2019, have matters become so urgent that scientists are crossing a hitherto uncrossed line.

That premise is so patently incorrect, it makes this Reuters news story look like pure propaganda.

October 30, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science | | 1 Comment

Why the US Puppet President of Venezuela is Toast

Photograph Source: The White House – Public Domain
By Roger Harris | CounterPunch | July 5, 2019

Even the corporate media are losing enthusiasm for the US government’s ploy to replace the democratically elected President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela with the US-anointed security asset Juan Guaidó. Reuters reports in a July 1 article, “Disappointed Venezuelans lose patience with Guaidó as Maduro hangs on,” that the US-backed “military uprising” has “unraveled.” A critical reading of the article explains why.

Reuters correctly notes that “the 35-year old (Guaidó) had risen to prominence three months before,” though a little more background information would have been helpful. For instance, Guaidó was unknown to 81% of Venezuelans a little more than a week before he got a telephone call from US Vice President Pence telling him to declare himself interim president of Venezuela, which Guaidó dutifully did the following morning at a street rally flanked with US and Israeli flags. A member of a marginal far-right Venezuelan political party, Guaidó was not even in the top leadership of his own grouplet.

For background, Reuters tells the reader that President Maduro “took office in 2013 following the death of his political mentor, Hugo Chávez,” but fails to mention that Maduro took office via a democratic national election. Guaidó has never stood in a national election. He was elected to the National Assembly but became head of that body through a mechanism where the political parties in the legislature rotate which party’s representative occupies the office.

Reuters continues that after Maduro took office, he “has overseen an economic collapse that has left swaths of the once-wealthy country without reliable access to power, water, food, and medicines.” Not mentioned by Reuters is the economic war being waged against Venezuela by the US and its allies that has employed unilateral coercive measures – sanctions – responsible for taking the lives of some 40,000 people.

This illegal collective punishment of the Venezuelan people by the US government has diverted legitimate funds of the Venezuelan government. Reuters obliquely mentions “Guaidó has gained control of some of the Venezuelan assets in the United States.” In fact, the US government seized those assets, which would have gone to preventing the “economic collapse” that Reuters supposedly laments.

Reuters reports: “The opposition’s momentum has slowed since the April 30 uprising. Attendance at Guaidó’s public rallies has dropped and the opposition has held no major protests since then.” Reuters hints why Guaidó’s fortunes are eclipsing: “the opposition says it is…seeking to build a grassroots organization.” That is, the US surrogate does not have a meaningful grassroots presence.

This is further confirmed by Reuters’ admission that Guaidó’s organization is now “focused on expanding a network of Help and Freedom Committees…to organize at the local level – something the ruling Socialist Party has done successfully.” Reuters continues, “so far the committees have gotten little traction.” That is, Guaidó lacks significant organized popular support outside of Washington and its allies.

Guaidó visited Washington shortly before his self-appointment and subsequently toured a number of Latin American countries but has “only traveled to 11 of Venezuela’s 23 states,” according to Reuters. Guaidó’s handlers have directed him to “travel to at least five more this month to motivate his supporters.”

Recent polls cited by Reuters show support for Guaidó is falling. Reuters quotes a paid political consultant for Guaidó: “We can expect Guaidó’s popularity to continue to erode the longer he is not exercising power.”

President Maduro, according to Reuters, had waged a “crackdown on the opposition.” That is, the Venezuelan government has defended itself against US-backed assets who have actively engaged in attempts to violently overthrow the democratically elected government and assassinate key government and social movement leaders.

In the alternative universe of corporate media, which ignores the economic war being waged against Venezuela, Reuters bemoans that the “crackdown” on Guaidó’s agents has failed to receive “significant retaliation from the international community.” In reality, Venezuela has massively suffered from the US-orchestrated punishments for resisting reverting to the status of a client state.

While not consulting anyone associated with the elected government of Venezuela, Reuters gives full voice to an anonymous “US administration” official as is the practice of the corporate media. The US official states: “The United States continues to execute the president’s strategy of maximum pressure to achieve a peaceful transition to democracy in Venezuela.” Not mentioned is that the “military option” is a prominent part of the “peaceful transition”; deposing a democratically elected president is part of the “transition to democracy”; and “maximum pressure” is preventing vital foods and medicines from reaching Venezuela.

The anonymous US government official further claims, “Only Maduro wishes for the US to give up now.” Reuters does not question how incredibly circumscribed is the universe occupied by that official, which renders invisible the two-decade-old Bolivarian grassroots movement in Venezuela in support of their elected government and its international allies. The Venezuelans most adversely hurt by the US sanctions are those most militantly in support of their government.

Nor does Reuters question why in the US, with the conceit of a supposedly free press, the government is allowed to hide behind a cloak of anonymity. Reuters cites the names of a Venezuelan taxi driver, doctor, former police student, and teacher to give a patina of authenticity to the article but can’t name an official US government functionary who is quoted authoritatively.

Reuters reports Guaidó’s supporters “have demanded that Guaidó shift strategy and request a US-led military intervention.” So much for democracy! “We can’t get rid of Maduro with votes. It will have to be a violent exit.” Meanwhile, the polling firm Datanalisis, according to Reuters, tells us that less than 10% of Venezuelans support such an action.

In short, a critical reading between the lines of the Reuters article confirms that Washington has failed to cobble together a united opposition in Venezuela that is popular enough to win in the polls, so the alternative is violent regime-change supposedly in the name of “democracy.” The lesson that the Venezuelans themselves are the best agents of history to address their own destiny has yet to be learned by the world’s hegemon and its media apologists.

More articles by:

Roger Harris is on the board of the Task Force on the Americas, a 32-year-old anti-imperialist human rights organization.

July 5, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 2 Comments

NewsGuard: A Neoconservative Contrivance Which Promotes an Establishment View

By Philip Giraldi | American Herald Tribune | January 28, 2019

There’s a new thought policeman in town. He calls himself NewsGuard and he promises to restore “Trust and Accountability” to what one reads online. His website elaborates that “NewsGuard uses journalism to fight false news, misinformation, and disinformation. Our trained analysts, who are experienced journalists, research online news brands to help readers and viewers know which ones are trying to do legitimate journalism—and which are not… Our Green-Red ratings signal if a website is trying to get it right or instead has a hidden agenda or knowingly publishes falsehoods or propaganda.”

One might well stop reading immediately after running into “our trained analysts” with all that implies, but that would deny the greater pleasure derived from considering news-sites that have “… a hidden agenda or knowingly [publish] falsehoods or propaganda.” Excuse me, but hidden agendas, lies and propaganda are what the mainstream media is all about, note particularly the recent feeding frenzy over the Covington school incident at the Lincoln Memorial. Catholic racist white boys vs. elderly Native American war hero was how the story was framed all over the mainstream media before it became clear that the entire chosen narrative was upside down. Only a couple of news outlets bothered to apologize when the truth became known.

NewsGuard claims to have a staff of 50 that evaluates 2,000 websites in something like real time. How exactly it does that is not clear, but The New York Times repeats company claims that “the sites it rates account for 96% of online news and information engagement in the U.S.” NewsGuard also told The Times that it intends to quadruple its vetting of sites and seeks to make its coverage “ubiquitous.”

Make no mistake, NewsGuard is a neoconservative contrivance which promotes an establishment view of what is true and what is false. Its co-founder Gordon Crovitz is an ex-editor of The Wall Street Journal, who has enthused over the project, saying that it is “a milestone in the fight to bring consumers the information they need to counter false information, misinformation and disinformation online.” Crovitz has also been associated with the leading neocon foundation The American Enterprise Institute while the NewsGuard advisory board includes Tom Ridge, who was head of the Department of Homeland Security under George W. Bush, and Michael Hayden, who directed both the CIA and NSA. It is as government-establishment in orientation as it is possible to be.

In a sense seeking to establish “accuracy” in news reporting is nothing new as the social media, to include Facebook and Twitter, have had that objective for some time, but NewsGuard defines itself as having as its target the screening of the entire media in a politically impartial fashion, as “an information resource.” And the real danger is that it will soon be appearing on your computer or phone whether you want it there or not. It is already installed on local library computers in Hawaii and Ohio and is working with university and even high school libraries to include its software on all public computers. Worse still, NewsGuard is in partnership with Microsoft as part of the latter’s Defending Democracy Program. Microsoft currently has NewsGuard on its Edge browser and it intends to install the tool on its Microsoft 10 operating system as a built-in feature. Microsoft 10 is the standard operating system on nearly all computers sold in the United States.

When you go to a news site NewsGuard has a little shield that pops up in the corner of your screen that will tell you whether that site is a reliable source or not. A green tag displays for approved and red for not compliant. Similarly, if you do a search the responses that come up will feature a green or red shield as part of the results. The site for NBC news shows green, approved, with the heading “this website generally maintains basic standards of accuracy and accountability.” It then uses what it calls a “nutrition label” to break down the nine specific areas that were assessed, each of which also receives and individual green check for NBC. Under “Credibility” appears “Does not repeatedly publish false content; Gathers and presents information responsibly; Regularly corrects or clarifies errors; Handles the difference between news and opinion responsibly; and Avoids deceptive headlines.” Under “Accountability” appears “Website discloses ownership and financing; Clearly labels advertising; Reveals who’s in charge including any possible conflict of interest; and The site provides names of any content creators along with either contact or biographical information.”

The first thing one might observe about the system is that it is designed to favor large, well-funded establishment news sources that are staffed to go through the motions of fact checks and corrections. All of the major news networks are approved, including Fox, MSNBC and CNN, all of which editorialize heavily, almost constantly, in their news coverage. Voice of America, which is a U.S. government propaganda instrument by design, also is approved. NewsGuard also has approved all major newspapers to include The New York Times, which frequently gets the story wrong, and The Washington Post, where news stories are nearly indistinguishable from editorials through the use of evocative headlines and slanted narrative. All the U.S. media currently lead off, for example, with stories about Russia that include the assertion that the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 election, a claim that has yet to be confirmed through actual evidence.

Russian media operating in the U.S. including RT America and Sputnik get red ratings with a warning “Proceed with caution: this website fails to basic standards of accuracy and accountability.” RT is apparently guilty of “repeatedly publishing false content,” “not gather[ing] and publish[ing] information responsibly,” “not handl[ing] the difference between news and opinion responsibly” and “not provid[ing] the names of creators.” Al-Jazeera, another news service that often criticizes the United States and its governmental policies also is rated red, suggesting that the true criterion for rejection by NewsGuard is one’s relationship to the official establishment and globalist/interventionist line being promoted by the United States.

A glaring example of NewsGuard’s political bias relates to BuzzFeed, which is an approved site. The Washington Post reported recently how a BuzzFeed story about Michael Cohen and President Trump claimed that the president had directed his lawyer to lie to Congress regarding a proposed office tower project in Moscow, which would have been both a crime and impeachable. A day later Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office intervened and described the story as untrue. The New York Times ran the first story on page one but the retraction that followed appeared on page 11.

And it was not the first major bit of fake news for BuzzFeed. The same two journalists had previously reported that Russia had financed the 2016 election.

CNN, another NewsGuard green authority, inevitably bemoaned possible consequences arising from the Cohen-Trump story by complaining that it would be used to justify “bad stereotypes about the news media,” had its own Russiagate misstep when it falsely claimed that Donald Trump Jr had had access to WikiLeaks’ DNC emails before their 2016 publication.

The BBC, yet another reliable source approved by NewsGuard, reported back in September that the U.S. government had evidence that the Syrian “regime” was continuing to develop chemical weapons. It added an assessment from the completely befuddled U.S. envoy for Syria James Jeffrey that “President Assad had ‘no future as a ruler’ in Syria… Right now [the Syrian government] is a cadaver sitting in rubble with just half the territory of Syria under regime control on a good day.”

The fact is that Jeffrey was completely wrong about developments in Syria, where the government had been extremely successful in re-asserting control over nearly all of the country, while the claims of chemical weapons use have been rebutted many times, including by actual witnesses and journalists on the ground during the alleged attack at Douma in April.

Reuters news agency, yet another NewsGuard green light, is also into the game. In November 2013 it published an article, part of a series, entitled “Khamenei controls massive financial empire based on property seizures,” which claimed that an Iranian government charitable foundation called Setad (also known as EIKO) actually exists to take control of property for the use of the government’s religious leadership.

A subsequent news report that appeared in January in the alternative media revealed that the investigative journalists who wrote the story did so from Dubai, London and New York and never visited the properties they identified, in most cases completely misrepresenting what could be seen on the ground.

Robert Fontina at Counterpunch has also rejected the depiction of Setad as anything but a charitable foundation. The truth is that Setad engages in major social projects, including rural poverty alleviation, empowering women, home and school building, and provision of healthcare. Fontina observes that American sanctions against it and similar entities hit ordinary Iranians’ lives by producing food insecurity while also restricting the supplies of needed medications. Ahmad Noroozi of the Barakat Foundation claims that numerous Iranians have already been affected by U.S.-initiated sanctions directed against his country, restricting access to cancer treatments and other pharmaceuticals.

So who gets the endorsement from NewsGuard? Those who toe the line on U.S. policy and the establishment globalist/interventionist agenda. It would be interesting to know what NewsGuard’s staff of analysts is really looking for when it researches a site or media outlet. As the examples cited above demonstrate, NewsGuard has nothing to do with taking pains to report the news accurately, nor is there any evidence of real accountability. It is all about who pays the bills and who is in charge. They give the orders and one either falls in line or goes out the door. That is the reality of today’s mainstream media.

Philip M. Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer who served nineteen years overseas in Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Spain.

January 28, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , , | 1 Comment

How Mainstream Media Join the US Government Offensive Against Iran: Case Study of Reuters

By Ivan KESIĆ | Strategic Culture Foundation | 09.01.2019

Summary: A 2013 news investigation of Iranian corruption by Reuters news service has been cited by at least four books published one after another, the most recently in 2018. 

It has also been cited by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in 2018 speech. Given the article’s ongoing influence, this article will scrutinize flaws in the reporting techniques and raise reasonable questions about several of its findings. The article will also mention, a piece of important historical context, that was long assumed, but made official in 2013 – the same year the story was published – when the US government released classified documents about its involvement in the overthrow of Iran’s democratically elected leader in 1953 and the establishment of the Shah. The purpose of this article is not to stain the reputation of an entire news agency – but to simply lay out an alternative context for interpreting a single, influential story. 

Ever since the beginning of the Iranian Islamic Revolution, the United States has been leading a propaganda campaign against Iran, minimizing own harmful role in key historical events, justifying an ousted monarchist regime, and demonizing the new political system. Frequently it is done in lighter forms, for example by claiming that new government is far from perfect or even the same as a previous one, but the methods can sometimes be so radical that the characteristics of the two systems are completely inverted.

While the Reuters claims Iran is active in spreading disinformation online, the history of the agency’s reports about Iran shows the opposite. The latest of such reports is a false report about Iran’s missile program. The falsehood of the article has been dissected here. The case which I have dissected is a 2013 article authored by Steve Stecklow, Babak Dehghanpisheh, and Yeganeh Torbati. The article represents a perfect example of such radicalism and disinformation reporting about Iran.

The Reuters report has been cited by at least four books published one after another, the most recently in 2018. The books are Iran’s Political Economy since the Revolution by Suzanne Maloney (2015); Democracy in Iran: Why It Failed and How It Might Succeed by Misagh Parsa (2016); Challenging Theocracy: Ancient Lessons for Global Politics by David Tabachnick, Toivo Koivukoski, and Herminio Meireles Teixeira (2018); and Losing Legitimacy: The End of Khomeini’s Charismatic Shadow and Regional Security by Clifton W. Sherrill (2018).

The chorus doesn’t stop there and it’s not limited to academic publishing or book industry. The 2013 report lays the ground for an ongoing war of words and decisions to impose more sanctions on Iran. Speaking at Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library in July 22, 2018, Secretary of State Mark Pompeo used the ­2013 Reuters report to attack Iran; he said:

“And not many people know this, but the Ayatollah Khamenei has his own personal, off-the-books hedge fund called the Setad, worth $95 billion, with a B. That wealth is untaxed, it is ill-gotten, and it is used as a slush fund for the IRGC. The ayatollah fills his coffers by devouring whatever he wants. In 2013 the Setad’s agents banished an 82-year-old Baha’i woman from her apartment and confiscated the property after a long campaign of harassment. Seizing land from religious minorities and political rivals is just another day at the office for this juggernaut that has interests in everything from real estate to telecoms to ostrich farming. All of it is done with the blessing of Ayatollah Khamenei.”

The speech applauded by Iran hawks in Washington.

The year 2013 was the year of big news about Iran. Four months before the release of the Reuters’­ ­article, CIA finally admitted its role in 1953 Iranian coup. “Marking the sixtieth anniversary of the overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, the National Security Archive is today posting recently declassified CIA documents on the United States’ role in the controversial operation. American and British involvement in Mosaddeq’s ouster has long been public knowledge, but today’s posting includes what is believed to be the CIA’s first formal acknowledgement that the agency helped to plan and execute the coup.” Disinformation is dangerous. It used once to oust democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, and has been leveraged again to bring back the Shah of Iran, William David Pear writes. He continues, “Since Iran was a developing democracy, an excuse had to be found for a US intervention. Churchill accused Mossadegh of being a communist. There was no evidence that he was. Mossadegh was an anti-colonial nationalist who cared about the welfare of the Iranian people, and that was all the evidence that Eisenhower needed. Mossadegh had to be punished for standing up to the British and demanding Iran’s natural resources for the benefit of the Iranian people.” The 2013 article of Reuters reminds us of the same pattern of disinformation about Iran.

The ­2013 Reuters story claims that the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order (EIKO), also known as Setad, a little-known organization created to help the poor, morphed into the $95 billion financial empire controlled by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. More precisely, they uncovered something unknown to Western intelligence services, economists and most prominent scholars of Iranian studies, even to the Iranian leadership themselves. In fact, much to the contrary, among ordinary Iranians the organization is known for their social programs, helping the poor families and doing charity works.

According to the Reuters article, the Iranian president’s office and the Foreign Ministry didn’t respond to requests for comment. Iran’s embassy in the UAE issued a statement calling their findings “scattered and disparate” and said that “none has any basis,” but it didn’t elaborate. Hamid Vaezi, the Setad’s then director general of public relations, said that the information presented is “far from realities and is not correct,” but he also didn’t go into specifics. Their short denials are understandable, considering that the same response would be received from a scientist if asked to make a serious review of a fantasy book. For the same reason, there is no scientific review of Reuters‘ article. Fortunately, this review will go deeply into the details, focusing on personal testimonies and claims of several groups of informers, thus developing a linear counter-story.

Baha’i personal testimonies

First, there’s the story of Pari Vahdat-e-Hagh, an 82-year-old Baha’i woman living in Europe, who claims that she lost family’s property, more precisely three apartments in a multi-story building in Tehran, allegedly “built with the blood of herself and her husband.” She further claims that her husband Hussein was imprisoned in 1981 because he began working for a gas company that had been set up to assist unemployed members of the Baha’i faith, and finally executed a year later. All of this happened, as the article claims, just because they were Baha’i.

The article does not mention the fact that her husband, alleged philanthropist, was actually a lieutenant in Pahlavi regime’s military. It neither mentions the conditions for obtaining such amount of property in Iran’s capital city center at that time. Ordinary military personnel were provided with an apartment, but not three apartments, nor was it possible to earn such vast properties with a salary of a lieutenant and teacher, no matter how hard you work. Miss Vahdat-e-Hagh explicitly stated that all had been obtained by herself and her husband, so it’s very easy to exclude the possibility of inheritance.

The only way of being awarded with three apartments was, in fact, an extraordinary and obedient service to the Pahlavi’s regime, and taking into account that Hussein Vahdat-e-Hagh’s career was military as well as the only war that Shah led was one against his own people, his merits to the dictatorship become crystal clear. This also perfectly explains why Hussein Vahdat-e-Hagh was imprisoned and executed, while tens of thousands of other Baha’is and hundreds of ordinary lieutenants, those without ‘special merits’ and three apartments, were not. In other words, the only blood that Vahdat-e-Hagh mentioned can be the blood of the people and the blood on her husband’s hands. Fake philanthropy and contradictions do not stop here.

Pari Vahdat-e-Hagh, also known as Paridokht Khaze, lives in Berlin where she earns a living by giving interviews and selling memoirs about the Baha’i victimhood. In the preface of her 2014 book titled In Search of Justice, Vahdat-e-Hagh claimed that before the 1979 revolution she had hoped to one day fulfill her dream of serving the needy in Africa. Before selling fictitious biographies, according to her own personal testimony to Reuters, during the 1980s she was living in one of the above-mentioned three apartments and was earning by renting other two. During these years of war the country was full of orphans and the poor, but giving any free accommodation was obviously out of the question for a self-proclaimed philanthropist.

Her lucrative rental business continued in the 1990s when she was living in Germany, taking the rental income out of all three apartments. According to the Reuters article, she left Iran in 1993 and it took six years before Iranian authorities realized she was no longer living in the country. This information contradicts her other statement that government representatives came to her apartment and threatened to beat her if she did not leave, while she bravely opposed them and yelled: “You can come and kill me.” So this old lady, allegedly under constant pressure and control, indeed left her apartment and was further able to leave the country, and the government, allegedly so greedy for her properties that it sent thugs at her doors, did not even notice that she’s out of the country and renting the same properties for six years. Makes perfect sense, isn’t it?

In both the Reuters article and the Vahdat-e-Hagh’s memoirs, her departure from Iran is described as some sort of “courageous escape” typical for a dissident genre, from books to Hollywood movies. In reality, she was free to leave the country and there was no any ban, no control, no chase at the airport. In the Reuters article, her false courage and principles are additionally enhanced by claims that government finally discovered her absence and demanded to pay rent on the unit, but she refused. The reality is again quite the opposite: she was actually refusing to pay tax on the rental income profit for six years, and in the meantime, she did not even report the change of address i.e. living abroad. Putting aside the controversial origin of properties, the consequences of such long-term lawbreaking are pretty much identical all over the world.

The Reuters‘ caricature story of courage and injustice ends with a claim that Vahdat-e-Hagh’s “stolen” building appears to be vacant, most of the windows are broken, and property’s ownership isn’t clear. This rumors allegedly came from merchants in the neighborhood, but how three Reuters journalists based in New York, London and Dubai managed to obtain the information in the streets of Tehran, also isn’t clear. Even less clear is their message, which may imply either that the building remains unused since Vahdat-e-Hagh stopped renting it, or it is basically worthless. Both possibilities make the whole story even less credible than it already is. Most likely, it is only a dystopian allegory or their own fantasy conception of post-revolutionary Iran.

Besides the story of Vahdat-e-Haghs, the Reuters article also offers the story of Katirais, yet another Baha’i family, whose narrative is similar in terms of structure. Again, there’s a rented three-story building in central Tehran, owner’s emigration to Canada, controversial ties to the Pahlavi regime, and of course, “just because they’re Baha’i” cliche. Apart from the building, there’re also 750 hectares of land around the city of Hamedan in northwest Iran. The Iranian official version says that owner had left the country and had abandoned properties, as well as that prior to 1979 he collaborated with the Pahlavi government, while owner’s daughter Heideh Katirai claims that he was being targeted solely because of his religion and never had any ties to the Shah’s government. Now, who to trust?

Making a choice on this question is much easier if we consider there was the Shah’s White Revolution of 1963 which its purpose was to weaken those classes that supported the traditional system, primarily landed elites. Virtually all landlords lost their possessions, with only a few exceptions, i.e. just those with close ties to the government were spared. Taking also into account that the general status of Baha’is during the Pahlavi period was far from thriving, the claim that a Baha’i person without any connections to the Shah’s regime could keep 750 hectares of land and stay intact by land reforms, is clearly an insolent lie.

Instead of sticking to the facts known to every historian and Iranian, Reuters journalists use logically fallacious methods like appeals to emotion through empathy, false dilemmas, and good ol’ victimhood. For example, an article quotes Katirai’s daughter saying “I took my kids there every Friday to see the family” and “each corner of that house is a memory for us.” One may wonder whether these trite phrases can be applied in the same way to their former land holdings, perhaps “every single square meter is a memory for them” also, out of 7,500,000 square meters in total. Such colossal amount of land was highly uncommon even for the richest landlords, and since Katirais weren’t historically attested among noble or wealthy merchant families prior to the Pahlavi period, it is clear that they did not just keep the property due to the ties with the Shah’s regime, but they also gained it.

Other statements are less subtle and bear aggressive religious and political messages. “We know that Islam is a religion of peace, but how can a government that claims to be an Islamic government allow this to happen?” Katirai’s daughter had asked, and thus offered the false dilemma: either the Iranian government is not Islamic, or Islam is not a religion of peace. The third option, unoffered in the article but the most realistic one, is that she is a liar and demagogue. Additional evidence for it is yet another claim of hers that legal representatives refused to consider her father’s case solely because he did not belong to any of three constitutive minorities: Zoroastrians, Jews or Christians. This implies that all others, from Iranian Hindus to foreign-born East Asian communities, have no any legal rights. Utterly bizarre.

Legal and human rights “experts”

Another group of people used as a reference in the Reuters article are self-proclaimed human rights “experts” and lawyers, all Iranian-born and living abroad. The first one is Naghi Mahmoudi who in the introduction claimed that Khamenei as the Supreme leader oversaw the creation of a body of legal rulings and executive orders that enabled and safeguarded asset acquisitions, as well as that no supervisory organization can question its property. The article represents him as a “lawyer” and uncritically accepts his allegations which serve as the basis for further elaboration.

In reality, Naghi Mahmoudi is only a petty political activist who has a history of lying and manipulating. Back in mid-2010, Mahmoudi and his colleague Javid Hustan Kian claimed to be defectors and “lawyers” of an Iranian woman sentenced to lapidation, but the whole case turned out to be a well-organized hoax, while they were disclosed as impostors and members of the MEK terrorist cult. In the meantime, he almost completely vanished from the media, held several pro-MEK speeches in Germany, and sometimes shared a propaganda material on Twitter, including ridiculous pan-Turkist claims that “40% of Iranians are Azeri Turks deprived of basic human rights.” Ironically, even Ali Khamenei was born into an Azeri family, as the Reuters article correctly mentions.

The biographical details of other informers are no less controversial. Ottawa-based Hossein Raeesi is a legal advisor to the IHRDC, a US government-sponsored organization blacklisted as subversive by the Iranian Interior Ministry, and London-based Mohammad Nayyeri is a close associate of Shadi Sadr, an anti-Iranian activist who publicly advocated Arab separatism in Iran. It is interesting that both of them, along with certain Beverly Hills-based Reghabi couple, complain about legal complications over the return of property, but at the same time, they confirm it is actually possible and feasible. It only takes time, and money, as everywhere.

However, the informers could not agree on a precise legal fee, some of them claiming it is 20% while others even over 50%. Since both amounts are obviously extremely exaggerated and hardly provable, for this purpose two anonymous sources jump into the story and Reuters journalists use their testimonies as evidence. The first is an Iranian Shi’ite Muslim businessman now living abroad who put fee at 55%, and the second is alleged Nayyeri’s client who recovered the house but had to pay 20% of the property’s assessed value, a religious payment called “khoms” mandated under Islamic law. No names, no documents, and no sense. To fill such logical gaps and inconsistent claims, journalists also used orientalist cliché of ubiquitous corruption.

Political circles

Finally, the last group of informers consists of individuals more deeply involved in politics, comparing to the previous activists who operate under the guise of human rights. The Reuters article intentionally conceals the organizations they represent and introduces them as respectable scholars and politicians, allegedly authoritative on the subject. For example, three journalists first claim that they had identified “about $95 billion in property and corporate assets controlled by Setad” and that amount “surpasses independent historians’ estimates of the late shah’s wealth,” and as an evidence for such comparison they further used statements by Abbas Milani who believes the estimate of the Shah’s fortune was “extremely exaggerated” and stood at “a billion dollars.” In other words, about $3 billion in today’s money, or only a fraction of the worth of Setad’s holdings, Reuters concluded.

It is hard to enumerate how many manipulations this escapade contains. First of all, there are no “historians” here, but only one, namely Abbas Milani, who is far from “independent” because he is a member of the neoconservative Hoover Institution, an advocate of multilateral crippling sanctions against Iran in the US Congress. His books are full of revisionist portrayal of the US role in the 1953 coup, support of the Pahlavi regime’s oppression, the 1979 Revolution and afterward, and he offers other contorted interpretations like a claim that “Iran went from politically moderate Monarchy to totalitarian Islamic Republic.” Milani’s statement about the Pahlavi fortune does not represent a historical consensus, nor a serious scholarly assessment, only utter whitewashing of the Shah’s financial crime.

Already in January 1979, the New York Times reported that the Pahlavi wealth is rivaled in the Middle East only by the holdings of the Sauds of Saudi Arabia and the al‐Sabah dynasty in Kuwait, and according to bankers, the Shah’s personal portfolio is worth “well over $1 billion.” New York bankers told journalists that “a substantial part of the $2 billion to $4 billion belongs to the Pahlavi family,” speaking only of the sums that have been “transferred from Iran to the United States during last two years” [1977 and 1978]. The NYT article further states that “the accumulation of immense sums was made possible through the blurring of state funds and royal funds in Iran,” primarily the Pahlavi Foundation which the Shah controlled absolutely.

In 1958, the Shah formed the Pahlavi Foundation, declaring at the time that he was transferring 90% of his holding to the new institution, a combination of charitable organization and family trust. Documents proved the royal family’s penetration of almost every corner of the nation’s economy, including among other things 17 banks and insurance companies, an 80% ownership in the nation’s third-largest insurance company, 25 metal enterprises, 8 mining companies, 10 building materials companies, 45 construction companies, 43 food companies, and 26 enterprises in trade or commerce, and a share of ownership in almost every major hotel in Iran, or 70% of the hotel capacity. Some of these holdings are joint ventures with American corporations.

Behind a facade of charitable activities, the NYT article continues, “the foundation is apparently used in three ways: as a source of funds for the royal family, as a means of exerting control over the economy through the foundation’s holdings in key sectors, and as a conduit for rewards to supporters of the regime.” The transfer of billions of dollars out of Iran had started already in 1974, partly in the form of loans to members of his family that were never repaid, and numerous transactions from Iran were made through American corporations and banks as well as some New York investment houses. The additional uncounted resources were deposited in banks in Switzerland and other countries with strictly enforced bank-secrecy laws.

In the autumn of 1978, during the revolutionary turmoil, 64 members of the Pahlavi family have gone abroad. Like other wealthy Iranians, they all have made substantial deposits in Swiss bank accounts and bought luxury residences in Europe and North America. Of course, the court never revealed the true extent of its wealth, but Iranian and Western estimates place the fortune accumulated by the royal family, both inside and outside Iran, far above Abbas Milani’s “a billion dollars” claim. As New York bankers, Ervand Abrahamian and Michael Axworthy, both highly critical of the Islamic Republic but still regarded as authoritative historians of modern Iran in the West, offer a completely different picture.

According to Abrahamian’s monographies, the royal family’s total assets were estimated “anywhere between five and twenty billion dollars” (1982:437) or “in excess of $20 billion” (2008:131). With inflation, that would equal up to $60 billion by today’s currency. In Axworthy’s book, the capital that had been sent out of the country was “estimated around $120 billion” (2013:297). This figure includes the comprehensive wealth of all Iranian emigrants, but there is no doubt that the majority was concentrated in hands of the ruling family.

In January 1981, the Iranian government filed a $36 billion lawsuit in New York against 65 defendants, most of them relatives of the Shah, in an attempt to recover stolen wealth. Reuters journalists mentioned this fact but in the context of denying figures. “The suit was dismissed,” their paragraph ends, and therefore imply that “claimed” figure must be false. It is again a gross manipulation because the New York courts did not deny the amount of money, they dismissed the proceedings on the ground of ‘forum non conveniens’ though they admitted that there was no alternative forum. According to the book by Trevor C. Hartley, Emeritus Professor of Law at the LSE, this was an abuse of the doctrine, for political reasons, the courts were determinated to shield the Shah, and ‘forum non conveniens’ was the tool they chose (2009:238). After all, those are the same courts which recently ordered Iran to pay billions to relatives of 9/11 victims.

In addition to Abbas Milani, the Reuters article also quotes Mohsen Sazegara, introduced as a co-founder of the Revolutionary Guards who is now in exile in the United States, and David S. Cohen, then undersecretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence who also served as deputy director of the CIA. The former is a member of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a subsidiary of the notorious American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), while the latter is a member of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a hawkish and neoconservative organization led by Mark Dubowitz that was intensively lobbying for the anti-Iranian and anti-Setad sanctions for years.

Agenda unveiled

All of the above-mentioned lobbyists and their advocacy groups, along with three Reuters journalists, have the same agenda and are trying to convince the world that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is the same as Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, while Setad is no different than the Pahlavi Foundation. There is, however, a serious problem with this picture. More precisely, there are no Khamenei’s jewels, crowns or designer clothes, no luxury cars or art collections, no luxurious villas or expensive estates, either in Iran or abroad. There are no rich members of the family, no foreign bank accounts, no documents, no independent experts, no New Yorker or Swiss bankers. There is absolutely nothing which proves their claim.

There is, indeed, the Reuters “investigative” article with fancy charts and listed properties. Only a few months before the publication of Reuters‘ article, Washington imposed sanctions on Setad and some of its alleged corporate holdings, and the Treasury Department issued a press release containing boring numbers, hard charts, Persian-named properties and other dull text, incomprehensible for wider audiences. And that’s why the Reuters article jumped out.

Investigative journalism is when a report is built on the basis of the collected data, but here is an opposite case, all the details serve as buttress or decoration of the central point. In other words, when you take off all worthless tree charts, personal testimonies, stories of poor old ladies, allegations by fake human rights activists and lobbyists, and numerous other cliches, the only thing left standing is the official US press release and accompanying political rampage against the Iranian leadership. Nothing more.

Regarding Setad itself, as seen through the eyes of the US government, it serves as a useful bogeyman and has multiple purposes. Its first dimension is political-ideological because it follows the old discourse of bashing Iranian leaders and veterans, equalizing them with corrupt royal elites. Second, the economy of Iran is now being discussed under the guise of “Setad” name, a sort of trade name which sounds less offensive in public debates and official documents. Third and most important, it is a perfect tool for further targeting Iran’s economy and expanding sanctions, because any new emerging company can easily be declared as a Setad holding.

January 9, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Islamophobia, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

A Reuters Report on Iran That Fueled US Diatribes

By Ivan Kesic | Consortium News | December 27, 2018

When U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave speeches about mega corruption in Iran this year, he did not cite a Reuters’ 2013 article or give credit to its three reporters; Steve Stecklow, Babak Dehghanpisheh and Yeganeh Torbati.

Instead he presented it as the kind of specialized knowledge that only a high-ranking official such as himself might be in a position to reveal. “Not many people know this,” Pompeo told an audience gathered last July at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library in Simi Valley, California, “but the Ayatollah Khamenei has his own personal, off-the-books hedge fund called the Setad, worth $95 billion, with a B.” Pompeo went on to tell his audience that Khamenei’s wealth via Setad was untaxed, ill-gotten, and used as a “slush fund” for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

But a comparison between the 5-year-old Reuters article and Pompeo’s speech, which was lauded by The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board as “truth telling,” shows a type of symbiosis that could only help cast a backward glow over President Donald Trump’s move, last summer, to reimpose all sanctions lifted by the Obama’s administration’s historic nuclear deal with Iran.

The imprint of the Reuters article on Pompeo’s speech was obvious in an anecdote about the travails of an elderly woman living in Europe. “The ayatollah fills his coffers by devouring whatever he wants,” Pompeo said. “In 2013 the Setad’s agents banished an 82-year-old Baha’i woman from her apartment and confiscated the property after a long campaign of harassment. Seizing land from religious minorities and political rivals is just another day at the office for this juggernaut that has interests in everything from real estate to telecoms to ostrich farming.”

The 82-year-old Baha’i woman living in Europe clearly matches Pari Vahdat-e-Hagh, a woman the Reuters team put at the very start of their extensive, three-part investigation. Here’s how the Reuters article begins: “The 82-year-old Iranian woman keeps the documents that upended her life in an old suitcase near her bed. She removes them carefully and peers at the tiny Persian script.”

While tapping the human-interest aspects of the story, Pompeo’s speech steered clear of some of the qualifications that the Reuters reporters and editors injected into their general profile of corruption. Pompeo referred to Khamenei using Setad as a “personal hedge fund,” for instance, suggesting personal decadence on the part of the Iranian leader. But the Reuters team was careful to note that it had found no evidence of Khamenei putting the assets to personal use. “Instead, Setad’s holdings underpin his power over Iran.”

While stipulating that Khamenei’s greed was not for money but for power, the Reuters team neglected something of timely and possibly greater relevance. Earlier that same year the U.S. admitted its own longstanding greed for power over this foreign country.

Final CIA Admission

In August 2013—three months before the Reuter’s article was published—the CIA finally admitted its role in the 1953 Iranian coup. “Marking the sixtieth anniversary of the overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, the National Security Archive is today posting recently declassified CIA documents on the United States’ role in the controversial operation. American and British involvement in Mosaddeq’s ouster has long been public knowledge, but today’s posting includes what is believed to be the CIA’s first formal acknowledgement that the agency helped to plan and execute the coup,” the archive said.

This U.S. aggression led directly to two phases of property confiscation in Iran: first under the Shah and then under the religious fundamentalists who overthrew him. Unaccountably, however, the Reuters team ignored the CIA admission so relevant to their story.

To its credit, the Reuters article does allude, early on, to the two inter-related periods of property confiscation in Iran. “How Setad came into those assets also mirrors how the deposed monarchy obtained much of its fortune – by confiscating real estate,” the article says. But that sentence only functions as a muffled disclaimer since the team makes no effort to integrate that history into the laments of people such as Pari Vahdat-e-Hagh, who emotionally drives the story.

Dubious Figure

For anyone familiar with the history of property confiscations in Iran, this ex-pat widow is a dubious figure. In the article, she claims that she lost three apartments in a multi-story building in Tehran, “built with the blood of herself and her husband.” She also says her late husband Hussein was imprisoned in 1981 because he began working for a gas company that had been set up to assist unemployed members of the Baha’i faith, and finally executed a year later.

The suggestion is that he was killed as part of a widespread persecution of Bahai’i followers.

What the Reuters reporters and editors omitted to mention, however, is that Hussein had been a  lieutenant in the military regime of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi; the last shah of Iran who was overthrown by the uprising of 1979.

The Shah’s name has become so intertwined with UK and U.S. meddling in Iran that his role in setting a pro-western foreign policy is mentioned in the opening sentence of the Encyclopedia Brittanica entry on him. But the Reuters article places this mention at the end of the story, as deep background. By the time the team discloses the Shah’s penchant for confiscating property and flagrant corruption, the reader is in the third section of a three-part article. By that time, the elderly Vahdat-e-Hagh has come and gone. By then, she has cemented herself in the reader’s imagination as an unequivocal victim, even though some obvious questions about her should occur to anyone familiar with the country’s history.

How, for instance, did she and her husband come to own such significant property at the center of Iran’s capital city? Under the Pahlavi regime, most military personnel were provided with one apartment, not three. In the article, Vahdat-e-Hagh says that she and her husband obtained the property themselves, so presumably they did not inherit it. Could her late husband, Hussein, have been of high importance to the Shah’s U.S.-backed regime, which was famous for its lavish handouts to special loyalists?

Such questions float over the article, not only about this particular subject, but many others who are presented to dramatize the ayatollah’s misdeeds. Several sources appear as human rights “experts” and lawyers. They are all Iranians living abroad and many have controversial biographical details that go unmentioned. There are similar well-known credibility issues with people who are introduced as respectable scholars and politicians.

The article offers the story of another aggrieved Baha’i family without ever mentioning how such people, in general, had lost property during the Shah’s White Revolution of 1963 which was intended to weaken those classes that supported the traditional system, primarily landed elites.

One obvious problem with the article is the distance of the three Reuters journalists from the scene of their story. They are based in New York, London and Dubai and do not reveal their information-gathering methods about Iran, a country that admits very few foreign reporters. So far, Yeganeh Torbati, the reporter who presumably wrote the first, human-interest part of the story, has not responded to a message to her Facebook account seeking comment. Nor has she responded to an email. Torbati, now based in Washington, was based in Dubai in 2013.

Story with Long Legs  

In the years since its publication, the Reuters article has been bubbling up in book citations. Suzanne Maloney mentioned it in her 2015 book “Iran’s Political Economy since the Revolution” as did Misagh Parsa in “Democracy in Iran: Why It Failed and How It Might Succeed” published in 2016.

This year Pompeo relied on it in four speeches. Two books published in 2018 place some weight on the Reuters article: “Challenging Theocracy: Ancient Lessons for Global Politics” by David Tabachnick, Toivo Koivukoski and Herminio Meireles Teixeira; and “Losing Legitimacy: The End of Khomeini’s Charismatic Shadow and Regional Security” by Clifton W. Sherrill.

The name Setad, which means “headquarters” in Farsi, has been kicking around Washington for five years, ever since the U.S. imposed sanctions on the group. In June of 2013, the U.S. Treasury Department issued a press release about Setad and its subsidiaries, with a long list of Persian-named properties that were managing to avoid UN sanctions imposed on the country’s business dealings as a means of discouraging Iran’s enrichment of nuclear-weapon grade uranium.

Six months later, in November, Reuters published its extensive, three-part investigative package, which now tops Google searches for “Setad.”

The report was the first piece of important follow-up journalism on the U.S. Treasury press release. But in one key piece of wording, editors and reporters almost seem to be straining to move their story ahead of the government’s rendition, to the primary position it now holds in Google search-terms.

“Washington,” according to the article, “had acknowledged Setad’s importance.” Acknowledged? By journalistic conventions that Reuters editors would certainly know, an acknowledgement indicates a reluctant admission, something a source would rather not reveal. Five months earlier, however, the Treasury Department sounded eager to call attention to Setad as “a massive network of front companies hiding assets on behalf of … Iran’s leadership.”

For hardliners on Iran, the U.S. Treasury press release was important fodder. But it lacked the human drama necessary to stir an audience against the current regime.  When the Reuters article came along, with all its historical omissions, it filled that gap.

December 28, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What missile exactly? Reuters misses the target as it spreads fear on Iran expanding missile range

RT | December 5, 2018

All is fair in love and war, or when you want to do a little scaremongering. Reuters sounded the alarm on Iran’s efforts to boost the range of its missiles, while completely missing what missiles they were.

The story ran by the news agency on Wednesday cited Iran’s Brigadier General Aziz Nasirzadeh as saying: “One of our most important programs is increasing the range of missiles and ammunition,” and “We don’t see any limitations for ourselves in this field.”

Sounds scary? Sure, because, Reuters added, the Iranian military say the range of their missiles is 2,000km and it is enough to target “US bases in Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, plus US aircraft carriers in the Gulf.” It’s so scary that the US deemed it a good reason to pull out of the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran.

The only problem with this leap of logic is that General Nasirzadeh leads Iran’s Air Force (which Reuters did mention) and that he was speaking about Iranian air-to-air missiles (which Reuters omitted). Air-to-air missiles are fired by aircraft and hit aircraft, not “bases in Afghanistan and aircraft carriers in the Gulf.”

And it just so happens that Iran’s Air Force is not the scariest part of its military. It mostly consists of US-made aircraft, which the country received back when it was led by Washington’s buddy, the Shah. This year’s big achievement for the military arm is that now Iran is mass producing the Fakour-90 long-range air-to-air missile.

It’s a clone of the American AIM-54 Phoenix, can be fired from Iran’s American F-14 Tomcats and has a whopping reported operational range of 150km, compared to 190km of the original, which was retired along with its platform more than a decade ago.

Iran’s Fars news agency, the source of the quotes from General Nasirzadeh, cites him this way.

“Today, we are after increasing the range of our air-to-air missiles. Therefore, one of our most important plans is increasing the range of missiles and ammunition. We are after Beyond-Visual-Range (BVR) missiles and ammunition and consider no limitations in this regard for ourselves because the Air Force should heighten the country’s deterrence power along with other (Armed) Forces.”

Sure, Iran does develop ballistic missiles too and seeks to improve their range. But General Nasirzadeh’s statements are irrelevant to this and his rhetoric seems to be a long cry from what Reuters made it out to be. Almost a day after its publication, the misleading story remains uncorrected.

December 5, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | 1 Comment