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CNN’s New “Reporter,” Natasha Bertrand, is a Deranged Conspiracy Theorist and Scandal-Plagued CIA Propagandist

CNN’s new national security reporter Natasha Bertrand, then of Politico and NBC News, with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Sept. 19, 2019
By Glenn Greenwald | April 27, 2021

The most important axiom for understanding how the U.S. corporate media functions is that there is never accountability for those who serve as propagandists for the U.S. security state. The opposite is true: the more aggressively and recklessly you spread CIA narratives or pro-war manipulation, the more rewarded you will be in that world.

The classic case is Jeffrey Goldberg, who wrote one of the most deceitful and destructive articles of his generation: a lengthy New Yorker article in May, 2002 — right as the propagandistic groundwork for the invasion of Iraq was being laid — that claimed Saddam Hussein had formed an alliance with Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. In February, 2003, on the eve of the invasion of Iraq, NPR host Robert Siegel devoted a long segment to this claim. When he asked Goldberg about “a man named Abu Musab al-Zarqawi,” Goldberg replied: “He is one of several men who might personify a link between Iraq and al-Qaeda.”

Needless to say, nothing could generate hatred for someone among the American population — just nine months away from the 9/11 attack — more than associating them with bin Laden. Five months after Goldberg’s New Yorker article, the U.S. Congress authorized the use of military force to impose regime change on Iraq; ten months later, the U.S. invaded Iraq; and by September, 2003, close to 70% of Americans believed the lie that Saddam had personally participated in the 9/11 attack.

Goldberg’s fabrication-driven article generated ample celebratory media attention and even prestigious journalism awards. It also led to great financial reward and career advancement. In 2007, The Atlantic‘s publisher David Bradley lured Goldberg away from The New Yorker by lavishing him with a huge signing bonus and even sent exotic horses to entertain Goldberg’s children. Goldberg is now the editor-in-chief of that magazine and thus one of the most influential figures in media. In other words, the person who wrote what is arguably the most disastrous article of that decade was one most rewarded by the industry — all because he served the aims of the U.S. security state and its war aims. That is how U.S. corporate journalism functions.

Another illustrative mascot for this lucrative career path is NBC’s national security correspondent Ken Dilanian. In 2014, his own former paper, The Los Angeles Times, acknowledged his “collaborative” relationship with the CIA. During his stint there, he mimicked false claims from John Brennan’s CIA that no innocent people were killed from a 2012 Obama drone strike, only for human rights groups and leaked documents to prove many were.

A FOIA request produced documents published by The Intercept in 2015 that showed Dilanian submitting his “reporting” to the CIA for approval in violation of The LA Times’ own ethical guidelines and then repeating what he was told to say. But again, serving the CIA even with false “reporting” and unethical behavior is a career benefit in corporate media, not an impediment, and Dilanian rapidly fell upward after these embarrassing revelations. He first went to Associated Press and then to NBC News, where he broadcast numerous false Russiagate scams including purporting to “independently confirm” CNN’s ultimately retracted bombshell that Donald Trump, Jr. obtained advance access to the 2016 WikiLeaks archive.

On Monday, CNN made clear that this dynamic still drives the corporate media world. The network proudly announced that it had hired Natasha Bertrand away from Politico. In doing so, they added to their stable of former CIA operatives, NSA spies, Pentagon Generals and FBI agents a reporter who has done as much as anyone, if not more so, to advance the scripts of those agencies.

Bertrand’s career began taking off when, while at Business Insider, she abandoned her obsession with Russia’s role in Syria in 2016 in order to monomaniacally fixate on every last conspiracy theory and gossip item that drove the Russiagate fraud during the 2016 campaign and then into the Trump presidency. Each month, Bertrand produced dozens of Russiagate articles for the site that were so unhinged that they made Rachel Maddow look sober, cautious and reliable.

In 2018, it was Jeffrey Goldberg himself — knowing a star CIA propagandist when he sees one — who gave Bertrand her first big break by hiring her away from Business Insider to cover Russiagate for The Atlantic. Shortly after, she joined the Queen of Russiagate conspiracies herself by becoming a national security analyst for MSNBC and NBC News. From there, it was onto Politico and now CNN : the ideal, rapid career climb that is the dream of every liberal security state servant calling themselves a journalist. Her final conspiratorial article for The Atlantic before moving to Politico is the perfect illustration of who and what she is:

CNN’s new national security star was no ordinary Russiagate fanatic. There was no conspiracy theory too unhinged or evidence-free for her to promote. As The Washington Post‘s media reporter Erik Wemple documented once the Steele Dossier was debunked, there was arguably nobody in media other than Rachel Maddow who promoted and ratified that hoax as aggressively, uncritically and persistently as Bertrand. She defended it even after the Mueller Report corroborated virtually none of its key claims.

In a February, 2020 article headlined “How Politico’s Natasha Bertrand bootstrapped dossier credulity into MSNBC gig,” Wemple described how she was rewarded over and over for “journalism” that would be regarded in any healthy profession with nothing but scorn:

Where there’s a report on Russian meddling, there’s an MSNBC segment waiting to be taped. Last Thursday night, MSNBC host Joy Reid — subbing for “All In” host Chris Hayes — turned to Politico national security reporter Natasha Bertrand with a question about whether Trump “wants” Russian meddling or whether he can’t accept that “foreign help is there.“ Bertrand responded: “We don’t have the reporting that suggests that the president has told aides, for example, that he really wants Russia to interfere because he thinks that it’s going to help him, right?”

No, we don’t have that reporting — though there’s no prohibition against fantasizing about it on national television. Such is the theme of Bertrand’s commentary during previous coverage of Russian interference, specifically the dossier of memos drawn up by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele. With winks and nods from MSNBC hosts, Bertrand heaped credibility on the dossier — which was published in full by BuzzFeed News in January 2017 — in repeated television appearances.

Wemple systematically reviewed the mountain of speculation, unproven conspiracies and outright falsehoods Bertrand shoveled to the public as she was repeatedly promoted. But it was the document that gave us deranged delusions about pee-pee tape blackmail and Michael Cohen’s trip to Prague that was her crown jewel: “The Bertrand highlight reel features a great deal of thumb-on-scale speculation regarding the dossier,” Wemple wrote.

And when information started being declassified that proved much of Bertrand’s claims about collusion to be a fraud, she complained that there was too much transparency, implying that the Trump administration was harming national security by allowing the public to know too much — namely, allowing the public to see that her reporting was a fraud. A journalist who complains about too much transparency is like a cardiologist who complains that a patient has stopped smoking cigarettes, or like a journalist who voluntarily rats out her own source to the FBI or who agitates for censorship of political speech: a walking negation of the professional values they are supposed to uphold. But that is Natasha Bertrand, and, to the extent that there are some people who still believe that working at CNN is desirable, she was just rewarded for it again yesterday — just as journalists who rat out their own sources to the FBI and advocate for internet censorship are now celebrated in today’s rotted media climate.

Bertrand’s trail of journalistic scandals and recklessness extend well beyond her Russiagate conspiracies. Last October, she published an article in Politico strongly implying that Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe was speaking without authorization or any evidence when he said Iran was attempting to undermine President Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign. But last month, the Biden administration declassified an intelligence report which said they had “high confidence” that Iran had done exactly what Ratcliffe alleged: namely, run an influence campaign to hurt Trump’s candidacy. A former national security official, Cliff Sims, said upon hearing of CNN’s hiring that he explicitly warned Bertrand’s editors that the story was false but they chose to publish it anyway.

It was also Bertrand who most effectively laundered the extremely significant CIA lie in October, 2020 that the documents obtained by The New York Post about the Biden family’s business dealings in China and Ukraine were “Russian disinformation.” Even though the John-Brennan-led former intelligence officials admitted from the start that they had no evidence for this claim, Bertrand not only amplified it but vouched for its credibility by writing that the Post‘s reporting “has drawn comparisons to 2016, when Russian hackers dumped troves of emails from Democrats onto the internet — producing few damaging revelations but fueling accusations of corruption by Trump” (that those 2016 DNC and Podesta documents produced “few damaging revelations” would come as a big surprise to the five DNC operatives, led by Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who were forced to resign when their pro-Hillary cheating was revealed).

It was this Politico article by Bertrand that was then used by Facebook and Twitter to justify their joint censorship of the Post‘s reporting in the weeks before the 2020 election, and numerous media outlets — including The Intercept — gullibly told their readers to ignore the revelations on the ground that these authentic documents were “Russian disinformation.” Yet once it did its job of helping defeat Trump, that claim was debunked when even the intelligence community acknowledged it had no evidence of Russian involvement in the appearance of these materials, and Hunter Biden himself admitted he was the subject of a federal investigation for the transactions revealed by those documents.

Politico, Oct. 19, 2020

But even when her fantasies and conspiracies are debunked, Bertrand — like a good intelligence soldier — never cedes any ground in her propaganda campaigns. She was, needless to say, one of the journalists who most vocally promoted the CIA’s story — published as Trump was announcing his plans to withdraw from Afghanistan — that Russia had paid bounties to the Taliban for the death of U.S. soldiers. Yet even when the U.S. intelligence community under Joe Biden admitted last week that it has only “low to moderate” confidence that this even happened — with the NSA and other surveillance agencies saying it could find no evidence to corroborate the CIA’s story — she continued to insist that nothing had changed with the story, denying last week on a Mediaite podcast that anything had happened to cast doubt on the original story: “I think it’s much more nuanced than it being a walk-back. I don’t think that’s right actually.”

Even a cursory review of Bertrand’s prolific output reveals an endless array of gossip, conspiracy and speculative assertions masquerading as journalism. The commentator Luke Thomas detailed many of these transgressions on Monday and correctly observed that “arguably no single reporter has contributed more to the deranged and paranoid national security fantasies of the center-left than Natasha Bertrand. She’s an embarrassment to her profession and will, therefore, fit right in at CNN.”

As Thomas noted, beyond all of Bertrand’s well-documented and consequential propaganda, “she sees conspiracies and perfidiousness around every corner,” pointing to this demented yet highly viral tweet that deciphered comments from former Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) as inadvertently revealing some secret scheme to expand Trump’s pardon powers. That scheme, like most of her speculative predictions, never materialized.

Then there is her garden-variety ethical scandal. In January, freelancer Dean Sterling Jones accused Bertrand of stealing his work without credit or payment. In a post he published, Jones documented how he emailed Bertrand a draft with reporting he had been working on, and in response she agreed to report it jointly with him on a co-byline. Yet two weeks later, the article appeared in The Atlantic with Bertrand as the only named reporter. Only after Jones complained did they insert a sentence into the story begrudgingly citing him as a source. “By my count,” Jones wrote, “Bertrand’s article contains at least six unequivocal examples of direct copying and revisions of my work.” When he published his post detailing his accusations, Bertrand arrogantly refused even to provide comment to the freelancer whose work she pilfered.

Natasha Bertrand has spent the last five years working as a spokesperson for the alliance composed of the CIA and the Democratic Party, spreading every unvetted and unproven conspiracy theory about Russiagate that they fed her. The more loyally she performed that propagandistic function, the more rapidly she was promoted and rewarded. Now she arrives at her latest destination: CNN, not only Russiagate Central along with MSNBC but also the home to countless ex-operatives of the security state agencies on whose behalf Bertrand speaks.

Once again we see the two key truths of modern corporate journalism in the U.S. First, we have the Jeffrey Goldberg Principle: you can never go wrong, but only right, by disseminating lies and propaganda from the CIA. Second, the organs that spread the most disinformation and crave disinformation agents as their employees are the very same ones who demand censorship of the internet in the name of stopping disinformation.

I’ve long said that if you want to understand how to thrive in this part of the media world, you should study the career advancement of Jeffrey Goldberg, propelled by one reckless act after the next. But now the sequel to the Goldberg Rise is the thriving career of this new CNN reporter whose value as a CIA propagandist Goldberg, notably, was the first to spot and reward.

April 27, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Pennsylvania legislator quoted in Atlantic story about Trump rigging election claims his words were twisted

‘I never said that’

RT | September 26, 2020

A recent story in The Atlantic suggested Donald Trump was working to appoint his supporters to the Electoral College so they can help swing the election his way, but one of the interviewees is now slamming the story as fake news.

“The story is pure conjecture,” Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman told the Washington Examiner.

Corman says he spoke to Atlantic writer Barton Gellman last month and the conversation turned to a handful of hypothetical scenarios regarding the Electoral College.

The story insinuates that Trump’s campaign is working with Republican state legislators to appoint electors who support him to the Electoral College, so that even if people vote one way, the electors could go against them.

“The genesis of the story is that, despite Pennsylvania voting one way with the voters, that the Legislature could step in and thwart that and appoint their own electors. I never said that.”

Corman claims the entire basis of the article doesn’t stand up to fact since, in Pennsylvania, the legislature has nothing to do with picking electors.

“To the best of my knowledge, looking through election code law, there is not a role for the Legislature in this. And so, the premise of the story is false. I think it was done to inflame individuals, which certainly has spurred a lot of phone calls to my office. So, I guess the writer’s intention was successful, but it’s not accurate,” he said.

Corman also said he had had “zero conversation” with the Trump campaign or administration officials about appointing electors. Electors, the senator said, are appointed by individual parties and submitted to the Department of State. Once a winner in the race is chosen, the department appoints said electors.

The Atlantic said in an editor’s note that the story, which will be part of its November print issue, was rushed to publication online because of its “urgency.” The story suggests Trump could use any means necessary to refuse to accept the results of the election if he loses, bringing the US to a dangerous “precipice.”

The author argues that if the election results are in doubt for weeks, which some have suggested could happen because of the influx of mail-in ballots, then states with Republican-led legislatures will take charge and simply appoint their own electors, who will then presumably elect Trump.

What Corman does say in the article, however, is that if the election controversy drags on and “conspiracies are created” then the legislatures may “have no choice but to appoint electors.”

The Atlantic also stoked controversy recently with a disputed story claiming that Trump frequently insulted veterans. The magazine is now being slammed once again over theories about electors in light of Corman’s comments.

“Oops. Another Atlantic fantasy story implodes,” writer Rita Panahi tweeted in reaction.

Though the basis of the lengthy ‘what if’ story is being disputed now, it had already been shared numerous times by Trump critics, who theorized that the president rigging the Electoral College or simply refusing to concede could be “completely plausible.”

September 26, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 1 Comment

High Crimes Against Journalism and Decency: Jeffrey Goldberg’s Insane ‘Trump Called Troops Suckers’ Piece Is a New Low

By Ted Rall • Unz Review • September 12, 2020

Jeffrey Goldberg wrote an article for The Atlantic that could harm President Donald Trump’s chance to win reelection. Setting aside the controversial content of the remarks attributed to the president, it is important to note that this is an atrocious example of journalism.

You could almost call it “fake news.”

And corporate media is taking it at face value.

You may think Trump is a turd — I do. You may want him to lose the election — I do. (I also want Joe Biden to lose, but that’s another column.) You may believe that Trump probably said what Goldberg reports — I think there’s a good chance. But everyone who cares about journalism ought to be deeply disturbed by the nonexistent sourcing for this story and its widespread acceptance by media organizations that ought to know better.

It’s easy to see why Democratic-leaning media corporations jumped all over Goldberg’s piece: It hurts the president, and it reinforces militarism. But they’re degrading journalistic standards to manipulate an election.

According to Goldberg, four anonymous sources told him that Trump called American Marines who died in World War I “losers” and repeatedly questioned why anyone smart would join the military or be willing to risk their life by fighting in one of America’s wars.

Anonymous sources have their place. I have used them. But basing a news story entirely on accounts of people who are unwilling to go on the record is journalistically perilous and ethically dubious. There are exceptions, as when a Mafia source fears physical retribution.

There is no such claim here. Most media organizations’ ethical guidelines are clear: News without attribution is not news. It is gossip.

The Los Angeles Times, a publication my readers know I hold in low regard, nevertheless takes a stance against anonymous sources. “When we use anonymous sources, it should be to convey important information to our readers. We should not use such sources to publish material that is trivial, obvious or self-serving,” the paper’s ethical standards say. “An unnamed source should have a compelling reason for insisting on anonymity, such as fear of retaliation, and we should state those reasons when they are relevant to what we publish.”

The Atlantic piece falls way short.

Likewise, writing that strips statements of necessary context and is anti-ethical. Trump, writes Goldberg, “expressed contempt for the war record of the late Senator John McCain, who spent more than five years as a prisoner of the North Vietnamese. ‘He’s not a war hero,’ Trump said in 2015 while running for the Republican nomination for president. ‘I like people who weren’t captured.’” He goes on to note that Trump wanted to deny McCain the honor of lowering flags to half-mast after McCain died.

Goldberg frames Trump’s comments as part of a general bias against the military and portrays his attacks as unprovoked. Truth is, long before Trump made those comments, he had been engaged in a well-documented, long-running feud with the Arizona senator. McCain based his political career on his military service and the five years he spent as a POW in Vietnam. McCain was Trump’s enemy, and there is considerable evidence that McCain — known for a sharp tongue — started the war of words. Trump gave back in kind.

“Nor did he set his campaign back by attacking the parents of Humayun Khan, an Army captain who was killed in Iraq in 2004,” Goldberg continues in another context-free passage. Khan’s father famously spoke against Trump at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. “You have sacrificed nothing and no one,” Khan said. In Trumpian terms, Khan started it. But Goldberg’s omission makes it look like Trump attacked a fallen soldier out of the blue.

Goldberg does this a third time: “When lashing out at critics, Trump often reaches for illogical and corrosive insults, and members of the Bush family have publicly opposed him.” Both sides have insulted each other; as far as the record shows, Trump is usually running offense, not defense — but Goldberg falsely portrays the enmity as a one-way street.

One of the praiseworthy aspects of this president is his relatively restrained approach to military interventionism, coupled with his willingness to directly engage adversaries like North Korea and the Taliban in Afghanistan, the latter of which recently signed a peace agreement with the United States. It is logical for Trump, who is skeptical of illegal wars of choice like those in Afghanistan and Iraq, to question why people would volunteer to fight and possibly die in such a pointless conflict. For Goldberg, militarism is a state religion. Questioning it is intolerable.

Goldberg’s piece, the tone of which reads like the pro-war hysteria following 9/11, reflects the aggressively militaristic neoliberalism of the Democratic Party in 2020.

Goldberg references Trump’s 2017 visit to Arlington National Cemetery with then-Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly. Regarding Kelly’s son Robert Kelly, Goldberg wrote: “A first lieutenant in the Marine Corps, Robert Kelly was killed in 2010 in Afghanistan … Trump, while standing by Robert Kelly’s grave, turned directly to his father and said, ‘I don’t get it. What was in it for them?’ Kelly (who declined to comment for this story) initially believed, people close to him said, that Trump was making a ham-handed reference to the selflessness of America’s all-volunteer force. But later he came to realize that Trump simply does not understand non-transactional life choices.”

Joining the military, of course, is hardly a non-transactional decision. Soldiers get paid. They get medals. They get free college. They are revered and thanked for their service. Military service gives you a leg up when you run for political office.

Moreover, Trump’s question is one Americans should be asking more often. Why would a 29-year-old man volunteer to travel to Afghanistan in order to kill the locals? No one in that country threatened the United States. No one there did us any harm. Afghans don’t want us there. Why did Robert Kelly go?

Goldberg seems obsessed with Trump’s description of fallen soldiers as suckers. “His capacious definition of sucker includes those who lose their lives in service to their country, as well as those who are taken prisoner, or are wounded in battle,” Goldberg writes. But is he wrong?

Former President Lyndon Johnson suckered us into Vietnam with the Tonkin Gulf incident, which historians of all stripes accept was a lie.

Former President George H.W. Bush suckered us into the first Gulf War with a tale of Iraqi soldiers rampaging through a Kuwaiti hospital and pulling babies out of incubators. Another lie.

After 9/11, then-President George W. Bush suckered us into Afghanistan by saying Osama bin Laden was there. He was not.

Of course, Bush lied about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction. More suckering. (At the time, Goldberg spread the lie that Saddam Hussein was allied with his enemy Al Qaida.)

Assuming that anything in Goldberg’s piece was true, Trump was right.

September 12, 2020 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

Press in His Pocket: Bill Gates Buys Media to Control the Messaging

Editorial by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Board Chair, Children’s Health Defense | September 3, 2020

A Columbia Journalism Review expose reveals that, to control global journalism, Bill Gates has steered over $250 million to the BBC, NPR, NBC, Al Jazeera, ProPublica, National Journal, The Guardian, the New York Times, Univision, Medium, the Financial Times, The Atlantic, the Texas Tribune, Gannett, Washington Monthly, Le Monde, Center for Investigative Reporting, Pulitzer Center, National Press Foundation, International Center for Journalists, and a host of other groups. To conceal his influence, Gates also funneled unknown sums via subgrants for contracts to other press outlets.

His press bribes have paid off. During the pandemic, bought and brain-dead news outlets have treated Bill Gates as a public health expert—despite his lack of medical training or regulatory experience.

Gates also funds an army of independent fact checkers including the Poynter Institute and Gannett —which use their fact-checking platforms to “silence detractors” and to “debunk” as “false conspiracy theories” and “misinformation,” charges that Gates has championed and invested in biometric chips, vaccine identification systems, satellite surveillance, and COVID vaccines.

Gates’s media gifts, says CJR author Tim Schwab, mean that “critical reporting about the Gates Foundation is rare.” The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation declined multiple interview requests from CJR and refused to disclose how much money it has funneled to journalists.

In 2007, the LA Times published one of the only critical investigations on the Gates Foundation, exposing Gates’s holdings in companies that hurt people his foundation claims to help, like industries linked to child labor. Lead reporter Charles Piller, says, “They were unwilling to answer questions and pretty much refused to respond in any sort of way…”

The investigation showed how Gates’s global health funding has steered the world’s aid agenda toward Gates’ personal goals (vaccines and GMO crops) and away from issues such as emergency preparedness to respond to disease outbreaks, like the Ebola crisis.

“They’ve dodged our questions and sought to undermine our coverage,” says freelance journalist Alex Park after investigating the Gates Foundation’s polio vaccine efforts.


© September 3, 2020, Children’s Health Defense, Inc. This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of Children’s Health Defense, Inc. Want to learn more from Children’s Health Defense? Sign up for free news and updates from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and the Children’s Health Defense. Your donation will help to support us in our efforts.

September 6, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Anti-Iranian Boomerang Policies: How America Celebrated the Pandemic and Incited the Oil Crisis, and Got Stuck by Both

By Ivan KESIĆ | Strategic Culture Foundation | May 7, 2020

Two months after the coronavirus pandemic broke out in Iran, we are seeing signs of a significant improvement for the total situation. The number of daily deaths has dropped below one hundred for a week in a row, the number of new COVID-19 cases has been on a continuous decline for more than three weeks, the restrictions are gradually being lifted and the streets are again vibrant. Iran’s success in combating the pandemic is the result of mobilizing all available governmental organizations and relying on its own know-how and industrial production. Alone and under the harshest sanctions seen in history, Iran has proven to be extremely effective, compared to the leading Western countries. In the face of global disasters and the vulnerability of civilians, it is traditionally common for nations to help one another, but recently we see something quite different from the U.S. regime.

The largest mass-produced face masks factory in Southwest Asia was put into operation in Eshtehard Industrial Town of Alborz province, west of Tehran. The head of the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order, Mohammad Mokhber said the factory will produce every day four million masks equipped with a nano filter, which guarantees a high level of protection.

Accusations, lies, more sanctions, and warmongering

The outbreak of the pandemic in Iran and China, two largest rival countries in Asia, had come as a refreshing for American politicians. In the Chinese case, they hoped for their economic slowdown and the deterioration of their international reputation, thus opening space for expanding and strengthening America’s international policies and position. In the case of Iran, expectations were much higher. Before coronavirus fully took hold in the U.S., the Trump administration appeared to be viewing the outbreak as an opportunity to gain advantage by amplifying its maximum pressure strategy, the view that by squeezing Iran’s economy crippling sanctions will force Tehran to choose between its own economic viability and geopolitical independence.

When Iran asked for international medical assistance, lifting sanctions and a loan from the IMF, the Trump administration saw it as a confirmation of the success of their policies. Instead of showing signs of goodwill for Iranian demands, the proudly compassionate United States responded by announcing a new round of economic sanctions aimed at closing loopholes that might allow Iran to export its products and leave it in scarcity of money then desperately needed for respirators, face masks, and other medical equipment. Formerly called blockade or embargo, now rebranded as “economic sanctions,” embody the beloved fantasy that coercive pressure alone can make countries submit to America’s will.

The U.S. Treasury says its sanctions do not prohibit humanitarian contributions that ease coronavirus pressure on Iran, a claim the Iran’s Foreign Ministry has called deception. Even though the U.S. claims that its sanctions don’t prevent the sale of medicine and medical devices, the secondary sanctions on financial institutions and businesses have prevented Iran from buying necessary items like ventilators that could save the lives of coronavirus patients. The problems do not stop there, for example the Iranian government released an official coronavirus app for Iranians, but Google pulled it from its app store due to U.S. sanctions. Basically, the U.S. government has taken the same approach as during the last year’s floods in Iran, when they prevented international aid.

In addition to preventing international aid to Iran, we have also seen crocodile tears and false mercy from Trump and his administration, allegedly offering their own coronavirus aid “if Iranians ask for it.” Only someone extremely naive can believe in the sincerity of this offer, considering that they have prevented the aid of other countries, and even stolen medical equipment from Italy, France, Germany and Canada. There is no trace of U.S. aid collection for Iran, which, after all, could have been sent quietly. For example, even though they were in a more difficult situation at the end of March, the Iranians collected medical aid for the American people and sent it through the Swiss Embassy, without media noise. The truth is that Trump had no intention of sending any aid, in fact he just wanted to hear Iranian begging and then use it for propaganda purposes. Of course, Iranians did not bite it and rejected the offer. Still, the fake aid offer and Iran’s refusal were later reported in many Western media as key evidence of U.S. benevolence and Iranian cruelty.

After putting Iran in an unpleasant situation, U.S. politicians began pouring bizarre accusations against the Iranian authorities. Mike Pompeo, Brian Hook and Morgan Ortagus accused Iran of “lying” about the coronavirus outbreak and “stealing” funds intended for the fight against pandemic. “It’s not the sanctions, it’s the regime,” Ortagus claimed. Aggressive elements within the U.S. government have even begun calling for war on Iranian-backed militias in Iraq, thinking that Iran is in too difficult a crisis to respond adequately.

The alleged Iranian incompetence required some kind of evidence, so the new U.S. disinformation campaign was launched. Anti-Iranian propaganda has mostly focused on exaggerating the numbers of infected and dead, despite the fact that the World Health Organization confirms Iranian reports as credible. The Washington Post has turned to publishing fake news, claiming that Iran has dug mass “burial pits” in Qom for victims of the disease. Netanyahu went even further, sharing a video clip from a 2007 TV mini-series, as the evidence of Iranian trying to hide the true number of fatalities.

Numerous Western media have kept up with similar nonsense and hateful claims. One of the finest examples is the op-ed piece by Graeme Wood for The Atlantic. “Iran cannot handle the coronavirus,” he claims in the title, further representing Iran as the Orientalist dystopia. The city of Qom, with over 1.2 million inhabitants, for Wood is “a small city” with “cramped hotels, communal toilets, junk food and unhygienic scenes,” a sort of “Shiite Disneyland,” assuring his audience “that comparison might be the best way for Americans to understand the gravity of this outbreak.” Then he jumps to the ideological patriotism, claiming China’s authoritarianism has the advantages in dealing with a disaster like this, while Iran’s authoritarianism has none. He claims that Iran has no intention of closing the holy shrines, despite the fact that they were closed shortly after.

Wood also shows video of Iraj Harirchi, a top Iranian health official who has contracted the coronavirus, describing it as “incredible” and “comic,” calls Iranian officials “notoriously cruel,” and the country as the place where “incompetence and evil become indistinguishable.” This op-ed perfectly summarizes the distorted vision given by everyone from the American leadership to the authors of racist cartoons on social networks: Iran is bad, dirty, everything opposite to the U.S., and it will fall. After all, deadly disasters occur only in far off Oriental despotates, never in famed liberal democracies. Except Italy. And except for the post-March 2020 period.

Coronavirus knocks at the U.S. door

In mid-March, the coronavirus knocked heavily on the U.S. door and from the wealthiest country in the world, whose president boasts with the best institutions and whose government enjoys giving lessons to other countries, it was expected that pandemic would be a piece of cake. But what do we see, and what’s the difference between the U.S. and Iran? Inside Iran, we don’t see massive dissatisfaction or protests over the Khamenei’s and Rouhani’s crisis management, but according to a Gallup Poll conducted on 14 April, Trump’s approval rating is down significantly, now standing at 43%. We also see thousands of protesters in many U.S. states, with truly inspiring slogans demanding freedom and liberation. We don’t see chaos in Iranian hospitals either, but we do see large-scale theft of equipment in U.S. hospitals, as well as U.S. nurses refusing to work due to lack of protective equipment. While the story of Qom’s mass burial pits is refuted to the last detail, it remains for Americans to explain burials of unclaimed bodies on Hart Island and in New York city parks.

The New York City itself today looks like Chernobyl or a “never-in-liberal-democracy” thing, a sort of Orientalist dystopia from Hollywood movies or unhygienic Disneyland from The Atlantic’s agitprop-eds. With junk food, or no food on the shelves at all. We don’t see hungry Iranians begging the Trump administration for help, but we see such moans on the multi-billion-dollar U.S. aircraft carriers. We don’t see any regime change in Tehran, but we do see dismissal of the U.S. aircraft carrier’s captain, only because he dared to seek help for his infected sailors. There’s no trace of the alleged Iranian government’s “lying” or “theft,” but there is overwhelming evidence of U.S. piracy of protective masks around the world. This evidence comes from the governments of Italy, Germany, France and Canada. If U.S. authorities cooperated with Iranian experts at the outbreak of the pandemic, they would surely have had fewer casualties at home. But they did not want to cooperate, as with Chinese experts, they just looked like scavengers. Now, Trump is blaming the WHO, which has replaced Iran as a bogeyman.

We also don’t see the collapse of the Iranian economy, although by 18 April around 600,000 people had registered as unemployed. By comparison, over 22 million Americans had lost their jobs by the same date, proportionally ten times more. Moreover, we don’t see the collapse of the Iranian oil industry, nor their tankers floating hopelessly alone on the sea. During the pandemic, Iran has launched 25 new electricity projects in five provinces worth nearly half a billion dollars, successfully installed a giant oil drilling platform at Salman oilfield, as well as a gas drilling rig in the Persian Gulf. All domestically produced, and all for the domestic market. In contrast, we are witnessing a historic oil crisis in the West, the collapse of the North American shale industry, and a crowd of full oil tankers parked off the U.S. coast with nowhere to unload. In other words, in their backyard they are looking at a scenario they intended for Iran two years ago, or one that they had hoped for when a pandemic broke out in that country. Yet Iran has proven to be much more resilient and effective.

Everything seen before

Despite all the obstacles and wet dreams of its enemies, Iran has not fallen, and it will not fall. Its initial perceived weakness subsequently proved to be false. Iran did not ask for aid and the IMF loan because it could not cope alone with the crisis, but to accelerate the fight against the pandemic. Negative responses to Iran’s demands and attempts to block other countries from sending aid are a wake-up call for the last naives who think the U.S. government has compassion for anyone’s civilian population. Or even their own. The mask thefts from their own allies also prove that the U.S. government will treat everyone the same way as Iran. As a nation with a strong sense of identity and group responsibility, Iran has proven to be extremely enduring in similar historical situations. In the 1980s, Iran withstood the aggression of the fourth largest army, backed by America and all the world powers, and a decade later it rebuilt the country despite being more isolated and weaker than today.

Even deadly disasters, accompanied by aid refusals and military aggression, are not unseen in Iranian history. Going back a century, Iran has been hit by an epidemic and mass famine that has claimed two million lives, or 20% of the total population. In 1918 the Iranian government asked the U.S. for a multi-million-dollar loan to be used solely for famine relief, but Washington refused. Furthermore, the British recognized the perfect circumstance to temporarily occupy the western parts of Iran and impose a humiliating agreement that was terminated by the Iranian parliament in June 1921. This is also a lesson for those who think that Anglo-American vulturous policy towards Iran began in 1979 or 1953. Going back a century or two more, in 1820 and 1721 northwestern Iran was hit by catastrophic earthquakes, and the city of Tabriz recorded tens of thousands dead. Just a few months after both events, the Ottomans invaded Iran, but were repulsed soon after both times. Today we are witnessing the centennial repetition of history, with new fools repeating old mistakes and expecting different results.

May 7, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Terrifying predictions about the melting North Pole!

By Larry Kummer | Watts Up With That? | April 30, 2019

Summary: We have had 30 years of bold but false predictions by climate scientists, met by silence from their peers. These make skeptics, and are one reason why the public does not support radical public policy actions. Here are 20 years of predictions about the melting North Pole.

A stream of predictions about an ice-free arctic ocean

Peter Wadhams, head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group at Cambridge, is famous for his predictions – and his amazing record of being wrong. Journalists report each prediction as if made by Einstein, not telling readers about Wadhams’ dismal record. That is how they report climate science and keep their readers misinformed.

“Within a decade we can expect regular summer trade there {across the arctic ocean}.” — “Arctic Meltdown,” a NASA press release on 27 February 2001.

Eighteen years later, no regular cargo crossing the arctic ocean. There are small numbers of specially built ships making the passage on the northern coasts (e.g., here, here, and here).

“By 2013, we will see a much smaller area in summertime than now; and certainly by about 2020, I can imagine that only one area will remain in summer.” — BBC, 13 May 2009.

Twice wrong. The 2013 average and minimum ice extent was roughly unchanged from that in 2009. In 2018, the minimum was 4.6 million square kilometers, only 12% down from 2009. I doubt 2020 will be much different.

“The entire ice cover is now on the point of collapse. …The extra open water already created by the retreating ice allows bigger waves to be generated by storms, which are sweeping away the surviving ice. It is truly the case that it will be all gone by 2015. The consequences are enormous and represent a huge boost to global warming.” — The Scotsman, 29 August 2012.

Not only was it not “all gone by 2015” but that quote appeared three weeks from the record low point on September 17.

“I have been predicting [the collapse of sea ice in summer months] for many years. The main cause is simply global warming …This collapse, I predicted would occur in 2015-16 at which time the summer Arctic (August to September) would become ice-free. The final collapse towards that state is now happening and will probably be complete by those dates.” — The Guardian, 17 September 2012.

Ditto. There was a great deal of excitement among alarmists about the 2012 low, and the usual linear extrapolation to a disaster coming really soon. Wadhams presented at the September 2014 Royal Society conference “Arctic sea ice reduction: the evidence, models, and global impacts.” A few climate scientists made mildly critical tweets about his presentation. Gavin Schmidt (Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies) was the most critical. He is, to the best of my knowledge, exceptional in his willingness to speak out about alarmist claims by his peers. See the tweets. But there is no evidence they called friendly journalists to protest journalists’ uncritical publication of Wadham’s predictions. But skeptical climate scientists often receive barrages of criticism from their peers, sometimes for repeating material in the IPCC’s reports and peer-review literature (e.g., Roger Pielke Jr. by scientists such as Gavin Schmidt – details here).

“Most people expect this year will see a record low in the Arctic’s summer sea-ice cover. Next year or the year after that, I think it will be free of ice in summer and by that I mean the central Arctic will be ice-free. You will be able to cross over the north pole by ship. …Ice-free means the central basin of the Arctic will be ice-free and I think that that is going to happen in summer 2017 or 2018. — The Guardian, 21 August 2016.

Twice wrong, again. The 2016 minimum was 23% above the 2012 minimum. The arctic was not ice-free in 2017 or 2018. Not even icebreakers cross over the North Pole.

“{T}he planet is swiftly heading toward a largely ice-free Arctic in the warmer months, possibly as early as 2020.” — Yale Environment 360, 26 September 2016.

The record minimum extent was in 2012. The previous minimum was 4.16 million km in 2007. The 2018 minimum was 4.95 million km. That is a 19% increase over 12 years. Wadhams had lots of headline-loving company among climate scientists. For example, Wieslaw Maslowsk – a research professor at the Navy Postgraduate School.

“Scientists in the US have presented one of the most dramatic forecasts yet for the disappearance of Arctic sea ice. Their latest modelling studies indicate northern polar waters could be ice-free in summers within just 5-6 years. …Professor Wieslaw Maslowski told an American Geophysical Union meeting that previous projections had underestimated the processes now driving ice loss. …’Our projection of 2013 for the removal of ice in summer is not accounting for the last two minima, in 2005 and 2007,’ the researcher from the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California, explained to the BBC. ‘So given that fact, you can argue that may be our projection of 2013 is already too conservative.’” — BBC, 12 December 2007.

The “projection” of an ice-free summer in 2013 was not “too conservative.” It was too aggressive. The Atlantic: the melting North Pole That is an example of successful clickbait by Robinson Meyer at The Atlantic on 29 December 2015. This is the alarmists’ usual trick of describing weather as “extraordinary” based on our brief instrument record, when it probably is not.

“It’s really hard to predict when we could see ice-free summers in the Arctic, but it could be as soon as in 20 to 40 years, Francis says.” — Jennifer Francis was then a professor at Rutgers, now a senior scientist at Woods Hole. Quoted in The Verge, 10 May 2018.

Now that is a safe prediction. If accurate, it will become famous in 2040 or 2060. If wrong, it will go down the memory hole with all the other wrong predictions about climate.

The real story

See the three lines in color showing the sea ice extents of 2007 (blue, middle), 2012 (dotted, bottom), and 2018 (thin grey, top), and the thick grey line of the 1981 – 2010 mean. Sea ice extent has been flattish for twelve years. For another perspective, the PIOMAS model shows that Arctic sea ice volume has been flattish for nine years. Click graph to enlarge.

Arctic sea Ice Extent

From the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Full article

April 30, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , | 2 Comments

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

RT | October 5, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Anne Frank Test

More power to the wicked

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • September 18, 2018

The week leading up to the funeral of Senator John McCain produced some of the most bizarre media effusions seen in this country since the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963. McCain, who never saw a war or regime change that he didn’t like, was apparently in reality a friend of democracy and freedom worldwide, a judgment that somehow ignores the hundreds of thousands of presumed foreign devils who have died as a consequence of the policies he enthusiastically promoted in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya.

McCain, who supported assassination of US citizens abroad and detention of them by military commissions back at home, was hardly the upright warrior for justice eulogized in much of the mainstream media. He was in fact for most of his life a corrupt cheerleader for the Establishment and Military Industrial Complex. McCain was one of five Senators who, in return for campaign contributions, improperly intervened in 1987 on behalf of Charles Keating, Chairman of the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association, a target of a regulatory investigation by the Federal Home Loan Bank Board (FHLBB). The FHLBB subsequently did not follow through with proposed action against Lincoln.

Lincoln Savings and Loan finally did collapse in 1989, at a cost of $3.4 billion to the federal government, which had insured the accounts, while an estimated 23,000 Lincoln bondholders were defrauded, many losing their life savings. When the Keating story broke in 1989, the Phoenix New Times newspaper called McCain the worst senator from any state in American history.

There was plenty of pushback on the McCain legacy coming from the alternative media, though nothing in the mainstream where politicians and pundits from both the left and the right of the political spectrum united in their songs of praise. Amidst all the eulogies one article did, however, strike me as particularly bizarre. It was written by Jeffrey Goldberg, Editor in Chief of The Atlantic, and is entitled “McCain would have passed the Anne Frank test” with the sub-heading “The senator spent decades demonstrating his willingness to fight powerful men who abused powerless people.”

Goldberg, a leading neoconservative, casually reveals that he has had multiple discussions with McCain, including some in “war zones” like Iraq. He quotes the Senator as saying “I hated Saddam. He ruled through murder. Didn’t we learn from Hitler that we can’t let that happen?” Goldberg notes that McCain’s hatred “for all dictators burned hot” before hitting on a number of other themes, including that, per the senator, it was Donald Rumsfeld’s “arrogance and incompetence… that helped discredit the American invasion” of Iraq. Goldberg quotes McCain as saying “He [Rumsfeld] was the worst.”

Jeffrey Goldberg also claims a conversation with McCain in which he asserted that, even though an Iraq war supporter, he had become frustrated with the effort to “renovate a despotic Middle Eastern country.” As he put it, “theory of the American case was no match for the heartbreaking Middle East reality,” which is yet another defense of U.S. interventionism with the caveat that the Arabs might not be ready to make good use of the largesse. Elsewhere Goldberg, echoing McCain, has attributed the disaster in Iraq to the “incompetence of the Bush Administration,” not to the policy of regime change itself, presumably because the Pentagon was unsuccessful at killing enough Arabs quickly enough to suit the neoconservatives. McCain’s reported response to Goldberg’s equivocation about Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was “But genocide! Genocide!”

Given the title of the article, Goldberg inevitably turns to the holocaust with McCain: “He said that, in the post holocaust world, all civilized people, and the governments of all civilized nations, should be intolerant of leaders who commit verified acts of genocide… I told him then that he would most definitely pass the Anne Frank test… [which] is actually a single question: ‘Which non-Jewish friends would risk their lives to hide us should the Nazis ever return?’”

After some additional blather Goldberg enthuses that he was “… pretty sure [McCain would] kill Nazis to defend Anne Frank.” McCain smiled and responded “It would be an honor and a privilege.”

It would be tough to figure out where to go from there, but Goldberg was steering a steady course. He saw two “sterling qualities’ in McCain. Number one was his “visceral antipathy for powerful men who abuse powerless people.” The second quality was “self-doubt,” how “in moments of great testing, it is possible for any human, including the bravest human, to fail.”

The second quality is a bit hard to discern in McCain, whose dogged pursuit of whole nations full of alleged enemies has left a trail of bodies spanning the globe, but it is the first virtue that is hardest to reconcile with the reality of a man who epitomized America’s reckless brutality in its overseas military ventures since 9/11. The tally runs Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya with ongoing adventures in Somalia and Syria. Iran, Russia, and China are pending, all of which were on McCain’s enemies list.

As many as three million Muslims have died as a direct result of the series of wars, endorsed by McCain and Goldberg, that began in late 2001 and have continued to this day. Remarkably, not a single one of the wars initiated over that time period has actually ended with either victory or some return to normalcy. Whole countries lie in ruins and millions of people have been driven from their homes, creating an unsustainable refugee crisis, while the United States wallows in unsustainable debt.

American born but Israeli by choice Goldberg, a leading Zionist voice who was once in the Israel Defense Force where he served as a prison guard, celebrates McCain in full knowledge that his tribe is not the one that is dying, hence the seal of approval granted to the senator by virtue of his successful completion of the Anne Frank Test. Goldberg’s body of work as a journalist frequently includes discussions of Israel, anti-Semitism and the threats posed by Israel’s numerous enemies. Glenn Greenwald has called Goldberg “one of the leading media cheerleaders for the attack on Iraq,” having “compiled a record of humiliating falsehood-dissemination in the run-up to the war that rivaled Judy Miller’s both in terms of recklessness and destructive impact.”

One might well object to Goldberg’s formulation of what constitutes decent human behavior, wrapped as it is around a perpetual victimhood holocaust metaphor that inevitably is used in extenso to justify every atrocity committed by the Jewish State. Goldberg should perhaps try examining his “test” in a number of different versions that would move him outside of his tribal comfort zone. He might ask if, in a hypothetical state run by those who believe the Talmud and Torah to be the true word of God, he would hide Christians fleeing from a government that considered it acceptable to kill non-Jews and that gentiles are little more than beasts, fit to serve as slaves for true believers. To reprise for Goldberg the question he posed to McCain, would he approve that the Jewish persecutors should be killed to protect the innocent?

Or maybe a better example, as it would fit in with Goldberg’s experience as a prison guard, might be the case of a teenage Palestinian fleeing, seeking refuge from a rampaging group of armed settlers inspired by mass murderer Baruch Goldstein or by members of a unit in the Israeli Army. Knowing that many Israelis regard someone throwing a stone or shouting at police as a terrorist and that the Jewish State’s government has an abominable record for killing, beating and imprisoning children, would he open his door? And what would McCain do if he were still around given that the ethnic cleansing being engaged in by Israel on the Palestinians may not be full scale genocide, but it is very close in principle, reflecting the Israeli government desire to make the Palestinians a non-people?

In short, Goldberg should ask himself whether his Anne Frank Test has universal applicability or is it something that is only for Jews. I rather suspect that the test is little more than a word game that empowered Jews like Goldberg use to underline their special status with the ambitious and gullible like Senator John McCain. That McCain enthusiastically became Goldberg’s patsy is at least one good reason that we should all be grateful that he never was elected president.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is www.councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

September 19, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , | 4 Comments

More Mumbo Jumbo on Russia

By Michael AVERKO | Strategic Culture Foundation | 12.07.2018

The modern political lexicon includes a host of terms that are ironically applied, given how they can be applied to those who use them against others. For numerous reasons, Michael McFaul’s continued standing as a leading Kremlinologist, highlights the ongoing flaws in US policy towards Russia.

The group of American mass media promoted Russia watchers includes an overrated lot, whose shortcomings are downplayed, as they regularly reemerge in high profile settings – typically with little if any substantive opposition. These truly bad actors prop each other, while downplaying their inconvenient (for them) detractors.

As I earlier noted, McFaul lauded The Atlantic for hiring Julia Ioffe. She essentially got a pass after making an inappropriately perverse sexual reference concerning Ivanka Trump’s relationship with her father. The record shows that Politico fired Ioffe over that remark. However, her new and current position at The Atlantic isn’t reflective of a demotion and quite likely a promotion, in terms of stature and earnings, along with her appearances on CNN and MSNBC.

The McFauls of the world don’t seem particularly concerned about the fake news which Ioffe peddles. During a June 3 exchange with CNN’s Brian Stelter, Ioffe said that the Russian government had poisoned the Skripals – something that’s factually quite suspect on the basis of what’s presently known and unknown. Likewise, her other claim (to Stelter) that the Russian government downed a civilian airliner over the former Ukrainian SSR isn’t a conclusively well established fact.

Stelter offered no challenge to Ioffe. Mind you that his media review show on CNN is supposedly an intent to critically review media fault lines.

In Ioffe’s July 2 Washington Post article on the 2018 World Cup, she states (when describing Russia’s victory over Spain): “No one celebrated like this when Russia crushed the competition in the medal race at the Sochi Olympics in 2014 – a victory of which it was later stripped amid allegations of systemic doping. When Russia illegally annexed Crimea in 2014, the celebrations were fraught with anger and political division that broke up friendships and families.”

In point of fact, Russia hasn’t been stripped of its first place tally at Sochi. On this particular matter, Ioffe erroneously went by a prior ruling that was successfully challenged. The put mildly suspect claim of “systemic doping”hasn’t been conclusively proven.

Ioffe’s mantra about “when Russia illegally annexed Crimea” has been stated by McFaul. That characterization is sheer hypocritical chutzpah, given the examples of Kosovo and northern Cyprus. On US TV, McFaul can be depended upon to not challenge the negatively inaccurate comments about Russia.

In a June 27 Brian Williams’ hosted MSNBC segment, McFaul suggested that Putin wins by default by just having a summit with Trump – as if the Russian leader is internationally ostracized, which is clearly not so. Actually, some are reasonably wondering if it’s really in Putin’s best interests to have the meeting, with the kind of anti-Russian and anti-Putin theatrics, that will be evident in the background (Washington Post, New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, et al). Trump’s mass media detractors have been constantly critical of his advocacy for improved US-Russian ties. To date, Trump has fallen short in achieving that desire.

In this particular MSNBC segment, McFaul appeared with Frank Figliuzzi, who falsely presented as fact several (put mildly) dubious and negative claims about Putin. This was a moment for a true adult in the room to caution against Figliuzzi’s reckless innuendo. None were evident in that segment.

US mass media TV news continues to be inundated with anti-Russian propaganda. On the same day as the MSNBC Williams segment with McFaul and Figliuzzi, CNN’s Anderson Cooper hosted Ralph Peters, who pretty much said the same as Fgliuzzi. (I’ve previously discussed Peters’ anti-Russian spin.) On Cooper’s show, Peters called Trump an “infant child.” Never mind Peters’ brashly insulting inaccuracies that are rhetorical empty calories when assessing US-Russian relations.

Peters gave up commenting on Fox News for the absurd reason that it was soft on Russia. His departure from that network came shortly after Fox news host Tucker Carlson had challenged Peters’ views on Russia. In US mass media TV Carlson remains a rare exception to the one-sided anti-Russian leaning slant of his peers. He can’t be legitimately accused of being soft on Russia. For the likes of Peters, an attempt at even-handedness is misinformation.

Hillary Clinton’s not too distant outburst in Ireland ranks with some of the most inaccurate things said about Putin. According to her “Vladimir Putin has positioned himself as the leader of an authoritarian, white supremacist and xenophobic movement that wants to break the EU, weaken America’s traditional alliances and undermine democracy. We can see this authoritarian movement rippling out from the Kremlin, reaching across Europe and beyond. It’s emboldening right-wing nationalists, separatists, racists and even neo-Nazis.”

Some white supremacist, seeing how Putin has been reaching out to the leaders of China, Japan and South Korea, in addition to Russia being part of the BRICS bloc, that includes South Africa, India, Brazil and China. Putin isn’t primarily responsible for the breakdown in Russia-West relations. Rather, he has sought a policy for Russia to have good ties with the West and others. The relatively small nation of Saudi Arabia outspending Russia on armed forces is one of several examples indicating that the “Russian threat” theme is over-hyped BS.

That some extremists in the West might see Putin as a kind of great white hope isn’t his doing. BTW, Russian extremists aren’t so supportive of Putin because they know that he’s the opposite of what Hillary Clinton said.

McFaul, Ioffe, Figliuzzi, Peters and Clinton, constitute a partial sampling of the fault ridden, Russia related commentary.

July 12, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

Media Support US Violence Against Syria, but Long for More

By Gregory Shupak | FAIR | April 20, 2018

Corporate media outlets were glad that the US, France and Britain bombed Syria in violation of international law (FAIR.org, 4/18/18), but lamented what they see as a dearth of US violence in the country.

In The Atlantic (4/14/18), Thanassis Cambanis described the war crime as “undoubtedly a good thing,” and called for “sustained attention and investment, of diplomatic, economic and military resources”—though the latter rubbed up against his assessment in the same paragraph that “a major regional war will only make things worse.” Moreover, he described “the most realistic possibility” for the US and its partners in Syria as “an incomplete and possibly destabilizing policy of confrontation [and] containment. But a reckoning can’t be deferred forever.”

This “reckoning” was his somewhat oblique way of referring to a war pitting the US and its allies against the Syrian government and its allies, the very “wider regional war” he just warned against. In Cambanis’ view, “confrontations” between nuclear-armed America and nuclear-armed Russia are “inevitable,” which implies that there is no sense in trying to avoid such potentially apocalyptic scenarios.

A Washington Post editorial (4/14/18) said that “Mr. Trump was right to order the strikes.” The paper was glad that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and President Donald Trump “properly left open the possibility of further action.” The Post’s rationale for continuing to attack Syria was that “the challenge to vital US interests in Syria is far from over,” and that Trump was therefore wrong “to call Friday’s operation a ‘Mission Accomplished.’” These “interests” include ensuring that Iran does not “obtain the land corridor it seeks across Syria.” (Cambanis, similarly, described as “justified” US efforts to “contain Syria and its allies.”)

The paper was concerned because Trump says that he’d like to subcontract US activities in Syria to US regional partners like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Egypt. None of these states, the Post fretted, “are capable of working with local forces [in Syria] to stabilize and hold the large stretch of [Syrian] territory now under de facto US control east of the Euphrates River.”

The editorial failed to note that this territory amounts to “about one-third of the country, including most of the oil wealth” (New York Times, 3/8/18) and “much of Syria’s best agricultural land” (Syria Comment, 1/15/18). The legitimacy of “de facto US control” over Syrian territory and some of its most valuable resources is apparently beyond question, as is the US’s alleged right to determine which governments are allowed to be friendly with each other: The Iranian “land corridor” refers to the Iranian government having warm relations with the governments of Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, something the Post appears to regard as a grave danger.

The editorial says that the US and its allies sought to “minimize the risk of a direct military confrontation with Russia or Iran” and that this was “prudent,” but that “if Russia takes retaliatory action, including in cyberspace, the United States must be ready to respond.” According to this view, projecting US power in Syria is so essential that no form of opposition to US violence in Syria can be brooked, the concern for prudence having vanished.

The Post contended that the US must demand “an acceptable political settlement brokered by the United Nations”—“acceptable” signifying “the departure” of the Syrian government. Functionally, this means keeping the war going: Saying that negotiations should take place but that the only “acceptable” outcome is the dissolution of the Syrian government amounts to the same thing as saying that no negotiations should take place, particularly now that the Syrian government is working from a position of strength and unlikely to agree to its own surrender as a pre-condition for talks.

Andrew Rawnsley, writing in the Guardian (4/15/18), supported US violence in Syria by attacking its critics. He said that those who oppose the Anglo-American-French airstrikes on Syria out of “indifference” to Syria’s plight have the “sole merit of being candid,” unlike those who are

less honest . . . the self-proclaimed peace-lovers. Mainly to be found on the hand-wringing left, they are too busy looking in the mirror admiring their own halos to face the moral challenges posed by a situation like Syria.

Luckily Rawnsley has the requisite courage to meet “the moral challenges” and advocate more war: He says that the West should have “impos[ed] no-fly zones” early in the war in Syria, a policy that would have entailed attacking Syria’s air forces, an act of war by any definition. No-fly zones over Iraq and Libya ultimately led to regime change in both countries, with hideous results for their people.

Rawnsley’s complaint that the West applied “no meaningful pressure” to “bring [the Syrian government to the negotiating table” is wildly misleading; the Western powers in fact applied “meaningful pressure” to prevent negotiations.

Rawnsley also legitimized US violence against Syria by expunging the damage it has inflicted. He trotted out the well-worn lie that the West “stood by” and “fail[ed] to act” in Syria, a canard that FAIR has repeatedly de-bunked (e.g., 9/20/15, 4/7/17, 3/7/18). He characterized the West’s approach to seven years of war in Syria as “years of unmasterly inactivity,” having their hands “wedged firmly under their bottoms,” an “impotent posture,” “failures to act,” making the “grav[e] decision not to act,” “inaction,” “non-interventionist” and as “inaction” a second time. Yet the CIA’s effort to oust the Syrian government has been one of the costliest covert-action programs in the agency’s history; has built ten military bases in the country, with two more on the way; and has killed thousands of Syrian civilians in a bombing campaign ostensibly aimed at ISIS (Jacobin, 4/18/18).

“Non-interventionists,” Rawnsley concludes his article, “the horrors of Syria are on you.” Yet there is no shortage of horrors that are on the interventionists. Sanctions imposed by the US and its allies have punished the Syrian population (9/28/16). These states are implicated in sectarian violence that anti-government armed groups have carried out against minorities (Electronic Intifada, 3/16/17). The US bombed a mosque in Aleppo, Syria, in the name of fighting Al Qaeda, killing almost 40 people (Independent, 4/18/17), and America used toxic depleted uranium against ISIS-held territory in Syria (Foreign Policy, 2/14/17): It would be rather difficult to claim that these horrors were caused by “non-interventionists.”

Cambanis, moreover, exclusively listed Syria, Iran and Russia among those governments who “have serially transgressed the laws of war” and “gotten away with murder” in Syria, but the atrocities attributable to the US and its allies surely constitute “serially transgress[ing] the laws of war” and having “gotten away with murder.”

The Syrian government and its partners are also responsible for a substantial share of carnage in the war, but Rawnsley’s accusation that “non-interventionists” are to blame for Syria’s bloodshed is completely untenable. His argument that Western states have inflicted insufficient harm on Syrians amounts to war propaganda.

And he’s far from the only media figure about whom this can be said.

Gregory Shupak teaches media studies at the University of Guelph-Humber in Toronto.

April 21, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | 1 Comment

America’s Democracy Hypocrisy

By Thomas Knapp | The Garrison Center | February 27, 2018

In late February, Venezuela’s government began accepting presidential candidate registrations and announced a snap legislative election for April. The country’s opposition denounces the process as a sham and Maduro as a dictator, both of which may be true.

Oddly,  a third voice — the US government — also weighed in. Per US state media outlet Voice of America, “the United States, which under President Donald Trump has been deeply critical of Maduro’s leadership in crisis-torn and economically suffering Venezuela, on Saturday rejected the call for an early legislative vote.”

Given the perpetual public pearl-clutching over alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, that’s some major league chutzpah.

The US State Department wants “‘a free and fair election’ involving full participation of all political leaders, the immediate release of all political prisoners, credible international observation and an independent electoral authority.

Let’s take that one at a time.

Participation of all political leaders? In some US states, it’s harder for a third party to get on a ballot than in, say, Iran.

The immediate release of all political prisoners? Last I heard, US president Donald Trump hadn’t pardoned (among others) Leonard Peltier.

Credible international observation? The US proper committed to admitting international election observers in the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe’s 1990 Copenhagen Document, but many US states forbid international observers or, for that matter, local observers who aren’t affiliated with one of the two ruling parties.

Electoral authorities? The two ruling parties control them all and routinely use them to suppress threatened competition, as do pseudo-private entities like the Commission on Presidential Debates, which makes giant illegal (but government approved) in-kind contributions to the Republican and Democratic candidates in the form of televised candidate beauty pageants which exclude the opposition parties.

Writing in The Atlantic, veteran election meddler Thomas O. Mela — formerly of the US State Department, the  US Agency for International Development, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House — argues that election meddling is different when the US does it, because … well, “democracy.”

Mela asserts a “difference between programs to strengthen democratic processes in another country (without regard to specific electoral outcomes), versus efforts to manipulate another country’s election in order to sow chaos, undermine public confidence in the political system, and diminish a country’s social stability.”

The US government spends a lot of time and money (USAID’s budget alone is about one-tenth the budget of the entire Russian government) on foreign election meddling, and somehow “democracy” always gets interpreted as “whatever outcome the US government prefers at the moment.”

Perhaps we should get our own democratic house in order instead of, or at least before, presuming to tell the rest of the world how democracy does or should work.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org).

February 28, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

‘The Atlantic’ Commits Malpractice, MSNBC Regurgitates Lies

By Caitlin Johnstone | Medium | November 14, 2017

Surprise, surprise, here’s Chris Hayes on MSNBC regurgitating Ioffe’s selectively edited quote on MSNBC. There will be others. There is no way to undo the damage that was done by this lie. At the end of the clip Ioffe actually asserts that her story confirms Russia-WikiLeaks collusion, without at any time acknowledging that the only thing in the story that makes it look that way is her selectively-edited quote.

If Russiagate was valid, the people selling it to us wouldn’t have to lie about it every single step of the way.


For full background read Caitlin’s full article, excerpt below:

… This happens literally every single time there’s a new “bombshell” report on the Russiagate phenomenon, without exception. Twitter explodes, I’m bombarded with social media notifications telling me “HAHAHA I BET YOU FEEL LIKE AN IDIOT NOW”, then it turns out to be a basically innocuous revelation dishonestly blown up into something explosive by liars and manipulators in the establishment media. It’s fueled entirely by Trump derangement syndrome, not by facts.

And people ask why I’m skeptical of the establishment Russia narrative. I’m skeptical because we’re being lied to every single step of the way by the news media who claim to be helping the public discover the truth. Trump lies because he’s a corrupt billionaire who knows he can get away with it, but that doesn’t make him a Russian agent. The media lies because they’re bolstering the stranglehold of America’s unelected power establishment, and that makes them traitors to our species. …

November 16, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Video | , , | Leave a comment