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The Miracle of Salisbury

By Craig Murray | June 16, 2020

It turns out that the BBC really does believe that God is an Englishman. When the simple impossibility of the official story on the Skripals finally overwhelmed the dramatists, they resorted to Divine Intervention for an explanation – as propagandists have done for millennia.

This particular piece of script from Episode 2 of The Salisbury Poisonings deserves an induction in the Propaganda Hall of Fame:

Porton Down Man: I’ve got the reports from the Bailey house
Public Health Woman: Tell me, how many hits?
Porton Down Man: It was found in almost every room of the house. Kitchen, bathroom, living room, bedrooms. It was even on the light switches. We found it in the family car too. But his wife and children haven’t been affected. I like to think of myself as a man of science, but the only word for that is a miracle.

Well, it certainly would be a miracle that the family lived for a week in the house without touching a light switch. But miracle is not really the “only word for that”. Nonsense is a good word. Bullshit is a ruder version. Lie is entirely appropriate in these circumstances.

Because that was not the only miracle on display. We were told specifically that the Skripals had trailed novichok all over Zizzis and the Bishops Mill pub, leaving multiple deadly deposits, dozens of them in total, which miraculously nobody had touched. We were told that Detective Bailey was found to have left multiple deadly deposits of novichok on everything he touched in a busy police station, but over several days before it was closed down nobody had touched any of them, which must be an even bigger miracle than the Baileys’ home.

Perhaps even more amazingly, as the Skripals spread novichok all over the restaurant and the pub, nobody who served them had been harmed, nobody who took their payment. The man who went through Sergei’s wallet to learn his identity from his credit cards was not poisoned. The people giving first aid were not poisoned. The ducks Sergei fed were not poisoned. The little boy he fed the ducks with was not poisoned. So many miracles. If God were not an Englishman, Salisbury would have been in real trouble, evidently.

The conclusion of episode two showed Charlie Rowley fishing out the perfume bottle from the charity bin at least two months in the timeline before this really happened, thus neatly sidestepping one of the most glaring impossibilities in the entire official story. I think we can forgive the BBC that lie – there are only so many instances of divine intervention in the story the public can be expected to buy in one episode.

It is fascinating to see that the construction of this edifice of lies was a joint venture between the BBC and the security services’ house journal, the Guardian. Not only is all round pro-war propagandist “Colonel” Hamish De Bretton Gordon credited as Military Advisor, but Guardian journalists Caroline Bannock and Steven Morris are credited as Script Consultants, which I presume means they fed in the raw lies for the scriptwriters to shape into miracles.

Now here is an interesting ethical point for readers of the Guardian. The Guardian published in the last fortnight two articles by Morris and Bannock that purported to be reporting on the production of the drama and its authenticity, without revealing to the readers that these full time Guardian journalists were in fact a part of the BBC project. That is unethical and unprofessional in a number of quite startling ways. But then it is the Guardian.

[Full disclosure. I shared a flat with Caroline at university. She was an honest person in those days.]

Again, rather than pepper this article with links, I urge you to read this comprehensive article, which contains plenty of links and remains entirely unanswered.

June 16, 2020 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | 1 Comment

The Anti Slavery Mural is Back, Hopefully Forever.

By Gilad Atzmon | June 13, 2020

Hip Hop legend Ice Cube came under fire last week for posting an anti- racist image on Twitter in support of Black Lives Matter. The image was widely panned as ‘anti-Semitic’ by those who work hard to conceal images of slavery, oppression and abuse as soon as they gather that a member of their ethnic group may be complicit in such immoralities.

Following the killing of George Floyd, Ice Cube uploaded an image of a group of bankers sitting around a game board that rests on the bowed, naked backs of black slaves. “All we have to do is stand up and their little game is over” is the accompanying text.

This anti slavery image isn’t new. It first appeared as a mural by artist Mear One in London’s East End back in 2012 when it sparked a controversy. Some local Jews were offended and, of course, the local Labour council of the London borough of Tower Hamlets was quick to react. It called in the police and reportedly gave the owner of the property 28 days to remove it.

Jeremy Corbyn, supposedly an ‘anti racist’  initially voiced support for the mural and the artist behind it. Later, following pressure from Jewish groups, Corbyn reversed himself and apologized. The Guardian, once a respected Left leaning paper was also quick to cry foul  and located the anti racist mural within the Elders of Zion-Nazi propaganda spectrum. Even the ultra Left Morning Star turned against the pro black/anti capitalist  art “Bad Art and Bad Politics” is how our most dedicated ‘socialist’ paper referred to Mear One’s mural.

At the time Artist Mear One stated, loud and clear, that his “mural is about class and privilege… The banker group is made up of Jewish and white Anglos. For some reason they are saying I am anti-Semitic. This I am most definitely not… What I am against is class.”

It was also ­­­­revealed at the time that out of the six bankers figures depicted in the  mural (Lord Rothschild, John D. Rockefeller, J. P. Morgan, Aleister Crowley, Andrew Carnegie and Paul Warburg) – only two (Rothschild and Warburg) were Jewish. But none of that helped, our socialists, progressives and ‘Left’ icons left the black slaves to rot under the monopoly game board and stood firmly against Mear One’s art just because two of the bankers he depicted were Jewish.

What I want to understand today is how it is possible that the Labour council of Tower Hamlets, the ‘anti racist’ Jeremy Corbyn, the presumably multicultural ‘progressive’ Guardian, the ultra left Morning Star, or shall we say the entire Left/progressive  spectrum all fell into the same trap, they turned their backs on Blacks and slavery and committed to the defence of the most horrendous abusive bankers known to man just because two of them were  gifted (artistically)  with a well endowed nose. One may wonder whether White Privilege is a valid notion as it becomes clear that Hooked Nose is by far the ultimate privilege. It literally allows for  total impunity. You even get away with slavery, at least in the ‘Left’ realm.

Time to admit it publicly – in the face of Jewish sensitivities, the Left seems to collapse. Its solidarity with oppressed minorities evaporates. Indeed, if there is one thing the Left is really good at, it is betraying its core supporters. The Left has repeatedly betrayed the working class. Instead it adopted Identitarian politics that were set to break the working class into biologically oriented fragments (defined by skin colour, gender, sexual orientation, etc.). The Left even betrayed its own ideology dismantling its own philosophy of class politics that initially united us regardless of our gender, race or ethnicity. Embracing biologically oriented identification is, in practice, an adoption of Hitlerian ideology. Corbyn had been anti- banker, but he has often been very forgiving towards Jewish financiers such as the Rothschilds and George Soros. “Really important video which spells out the vile and destructive nature of antisemitic conspiracy theories,” is how Corbyn, as a Labour leader, described a horrendous video that presented the Rothschilds and George Soros as mere victims. Rothschild according to the video wasn’t even that  rich.

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For the Left, I am sorry to say it, the Blacks are solidarity pets. So are the Palestinians and other oppressed groups and minorities. I am afraid that this shameful divisive parade is not going to stop anytime soon. But Black community leaders have started to wake up.

Yesterday, members of African American Council were BOOED as they told protesters in Seattle’s ‘autonomous zone’ that they had ‘hijacked’ the Black Lives Matter movement by pushing other causes.

And there is some good news in this mural saga: 1. By now we know that art, like books, can be physically burned, it can be erased from walls, removed from exhibition: but beauty like the truth unveils itself against all odds. Mear One’s mural is with us forever and so is the memory of Corbyn/Guardian/Morning Star betrayal of the Blacks and their history.

 2. Despite horrendous harassment from Jewish pressure bodies, the American Hip Hop star stood firm. Unlike Corbyn, Ice Cube answered his critics tweeting “what If I was just pro-Black?… I’ve been telling my truth.” I have always wondered why Corbyn didn’t answer his critics: ‘what if I were pro Palestinian rather than anti Jewish?’ The brainless veteran Labour leader couldn’t even figure this out.

Our world would look far better if our politicians in general and Left ones in particular had been just slightly more committed to truth. It would help if they had as much guts in their entire bodies as artists like Ice Cube have between their toes.

June 13, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , | 1 Comment

Media Priorities: Trump, Putin and the bias before our eyes

The media ignored only the second joint US-Russia statement in four years, to talk about silly hair and small hands

By Joris De Draeck | OffGuardian | May 13, 2020

April 25, 2020, marks the 75th Anniversary of the historic meeting between American and Soviet troops, who shook hands on the damaged bridge over the Elbe River. This event heralded the decisive defeat of the Nazi Regime.

Thus reads the first paragraph of a joint statement by President Donald J. Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

This statement correctly is called “rare” by two of the very few mainstream media articles addressing it. Props to Reuters and the New York Post for this one.

The only other time the US and Russia issued a joint statement or declaration was when Putin and Trump met in Helsinki back in July 2018.

Googling the press release using “trump putin joint statement” one would expect the page to be full of huge news corporation results but that’s not the case. Apart from Reuters and the New York Post, you’ll find a bunch of Australian sites and a Chinese one who cover it without much ado. [Google results widely differ geographically. I ran them from Belgium.]

Mainstream Bias For All To See

Some others like The Hill, MarketWatch, The Week and Forbes apparently find ominous reasons for concern.

They all cite the Wall Street Journal as the source for the unease.

For the WSJ, issuing the statement in and by itself is considered “a move” by the Russians and it immediately follows its article with a link to a 2017 article on the same site about how the Pentagon and the State Department “have complained about Russia’s behaviour”.

Why hark back to 2017, I wonder; these two organisations consistently address Russia’s stance in the wider world quite negatively and could easily find more recent analyses in the same vein.

The WSJ addresses Russian fighter jets “buzzing American Navy planes over the Mediterranean Sea”; mentions the (entirely unproven) accusation of “Russia-based news organizations spreading disinformation about [the] coronavirus”; and adduces that “Russia was providing critical military support for Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s ongoing offensive in Idlib province” [sic].

Apart from the often cited “anonymous sources” on whose claims complete fabrications are often built, WSJ also refers to a certain Angela Stent, author of books like The Limits of Partnership: US-Russian Relations in the 21st Century, in which her anti-Russian bias is “apparent” while “inconvenient history is not mentioned”.

Bleach Injections

Let’s compare this muted response to the first joint statement by the leaders of the two nuclear superpowers to the disinfectant concoction prevalent on mainstream news ever since Friday.

Using the Google query+Trump +disinfectant site:guardian.com” which indicates that the results need to have both “Trump” and “disinfectant” in its article, we find — at the time of writing —  more than 4.000 pages retrievable on The Guardian alone. Measure that number against a “+Trump +Putin +Elbe +Statement site:theguardian.comquery which yields only 8 results. All but one of those eight date from 2017, the one exception being from 2015.

In other words, the beacon of British “quality journalism” in the eyes of many fails to even report on what is a “rare joint statement” at all.

The Extreme Bias Right Before You

Maintaining social distancing here in Antwerp, we still are allowed outside and can talk to others. The public’s reaction to the disinfectant-story insanity is telling: “what a fool Trump is”, “he should inject it himself” then “we’d finally be rid of that fool”; “it goes to show how stupid and what a selfish asshole he really is” and so on. What is worrying to me, is that such media sensationalism leads to too much polarisation.

Mainstream press, apparently, did its due with The Guardian apparently thinking that “Trump’s coronavirus disinfectant comments could be the tipping point”.

The public at large was given yet another reason to despise no. 45 although Trump is the first president since before WWII who did not start any foreign intervention — as he promised in his 2016 election campaign. For comparison: Nobel Peace prize winner Obama started seven wars, while the other winner Carter started four. Even JFK did the same! Not to mention the Bushes and Reagan.

Yet here we have a president who is vilified by the general “enlightened” public (as Guardian readers generally believe themselves to be) because of some of the following media stories. I’ll state the number of page hits again:

  • About +Trump and +hands58,600 results.  They include coverage of his “tiny hands”, “him and Theresa May holding hands”, “Melania not holding his hand”, multiple references about his “strange shaking hands” and so on. All very relevant, don’t you think?
  • About +Trump and +Shithole756 results. Remember this one, which originated from The Washington Post? The topic led to worldwide outrage while the topic only was “according to several people briefed on the meeting” which doesn’t really tell a lot, does it?
  • About +Trump and his +Hair. 17,800 results.
  • About +Trump and his (lack of) +etiquette: 1220 results.

What I am getting at is this: isn’t it remarkable that incredibly banal topics as well as flat out lies and/or misinterpretations get a lot more coverage than a “rare joint statement” by the US and Russia that carries a message of hope and cooperation, no less?

I think it is and it shows not only how amazingly biased mainstream news really is about both presidents but also how easily the public at large are led astray in forming their opinions based on these “reputable” sources’ flat out propagandistic coverage.

Joris De Draeck is an independent journalist, creator of Planet News and contributor to Fort Russ News, SOTT and Global Research. He focuses on major international conflicts. You can follow him on Twitter @DeDraeck.

May 14, 2020 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

How the Nicaraguan Opposition Distorted the Government’s Response to COVID-19

By John Perry | Council on Hemispheric Affairs | April 21, 2020

Masaya, Nicaragua – The right-wing opposition in Nicaragua, having failed in their attempted coup in 2018, still looks at any potential crisis as a new opportunity to attack the Sandinista government. Their latest chance, of course, arrived with the coronavirus pandemic. Even though the virus has barely hit the country yet, the government is under attack. The international media are lapping up opposition propaganda and ignoring or disparaging the government’s efforts to deal with the coming crisis, even though preparations began before those in many other countries.

Since early April, Nicaragua’s well-connected opposition leaders have used their contacts in the international press to push a series of stories relating to the pandemic. These stories – detailed below – variously claim that President Daniel Ortega is in quarantine or has died, that his government is in denial about the coronavirus or that it is ill-prepared and inactive in the face of the threat. None of this is true. What is worse, it seems based on the tone of news coverage, that reporters who are unable to visit the country nevertheless make little attempt to find out what action the government is actually taking and whether opposition criticisms have any substance.

At the time of writing (April 16, 2020) Nicaragua has only nine confirmed virus cases, all of them people who have come from abroad or their immediate contacts.[1] The opposition and the media pour scorn on the official figures and (without evidence) claim that infection levels are far higher. Ignoring the daily press briefings by Dr. Carlos Sáenz, Secretary General at the health ministry,  the opposition claims that Nicaraguans are being kept in the dark. Despite health officials having visited 2.7 million households,[2] sometimes on several occasions, to dispense advice (see photo), the opposition complains that there is little or no guidance on combating the virus.

How the international media attacks developed

The attacks began on April 4 with BBC World, which in addition to criticising President Daniel Ortega for not making public appearances asserted that his government had taken “no measures at all” in the face of the virus threat.[3] Then The New York Times (April 6), asking Where is Daniel Ortega?, said his government had been “widely criticized for its cavalier approach” to the pandemic.[4] It quoted opposition supporters who say the public “is deeply dubious about government claims.” On April 8, The Guardian said that Ortega was “nowhere to be seen.” [5] By April 13, The Washington Post said Ortega had “vanished” and castigated his government’s “laissez-faire approach” (the Post’s print edition even managed to report that nine virus victims had died, when there has been only one death so far).[6]According to The Guardian, on April 12, the “authoritarian” Daniel Ortega is one of only four world leaders who are in denial about the coronavirus (among the others is, of course, the right-wing Bolsonaro in Brazil).[7] The attacks have even been reproduced by the international medical journal, The Lancet.  On April 6, an article entitled Love in the time of COVID-19 labelled the government’s approach as “erratic” and “violating the human rights of its citizens.” [8]

The real situation in Nicaragua

What is the real situation in Nicaragua? The country has had health checks at its borders for months, far sooner than in the US. Travellers entering Nicaragua are managed tightly, and officials follow up with new arrivals by phone and by house visits, as I know from my own and friends’ direct experiences after arriving in the country. Two lengthy and porous land frontiers make it preferable to keep borders open so as to minimise informal crossings which make health checks impossible. When people do cross illegally, neighbors often report them using a free, dedicated phone number set up a few weeks ago. This number is also used to obtain more general advice on the virus. Nineteen hospitals have been identified to receive virus cases and 37,000 health workers and 250,000 volunteers have been trained accordingly.[9] The result is that – so far at least – Nicaragua’s nine virus cases represent the lowest infection rate in Latin America.

Social distancing and its costs

In the international press, opposition spokespeople call for more drastic measures such as social distancing and school closures. Reporters ignore the obvious dilemma that faces poor countries in deciding when to take such steps. Importantly, even though the World Health Organization has emphasized the importance of social distancing, it also recognises this dilemma. Its Director General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said this on April 16:

“Governments must consider that for some countries and communities, stay-at-home orders may not be practical, and may even cause unintended harm. Millions of people around the world must work every day to put food on the table. They cannot stay at home for long periods of time without assistance.”[10]

In Nicaragua, because all confirmed COVID-19 cases so far have come from abroad, the government assessment is that no or very limited local, community transmission has taken place.[11] This is why there continues to be vigilance while wider measures have not yet been imposed. If self-isolation becomes necessary it will carry a massive cost as seen for example in the US and other countries, as most people need to go to work daily to eat. There is no reliable mechanism to distribute subsidies, nor can small, poor countries like Nicaragua borrow with impunity to pay for them. Many Nicaraguans live in cramped houses in densely populated neighbourhoods, making social distancing extremely difficult. The government is genuinely attempting to balance the fight against the virus with the economic needs of the population. To impose an untimely lockdown, at a time when the spread of the virus appears to be still under control, would not only cause huge resentment and hardship but could be totally counterproductive. Of course, government policy is subject to change as the situation evolves and any objective assessment must be based on the government’s future handling of the crisis, not only on its response to date.

The Lancet article cites approvingly the contrasting policies of El Salvador and Honduras. In the former, President Nayib Bukele forced people to self-isolate, offering a subsidy of $300 per family which caused massive, unregulated queues and then rowdy protests outside government offices.[12] The Los Angeles Times reported (April 7) that in some areas the lockdown is enforced by gangs with baseball bats.[13] In Honduras, a “militarized quarantine” has led to police violence, more than 1,000 arrests and the confiscation of almost 900 vehicles, according to respected human rights group COFADEH.[14] Despite these actions, both countries have much higher infection levels than Nicaragua. So does Costa Rica. All of these neighbouring countries are quick to criticise the Ortega government and express fears for cross-border contamination, when the reality is that Nicaragua should be the country that fears contamination from its neighbours. This is not to say that mitigation is inherently counterproductive; the point is that if a situation does call for quarantine, state actors ought to inspire a sense of solidarity and understanding rather than impose punitive and coercive measures that divide people rather than unite them.

International media are more sympathetic to other low-income countries

The irony is that international media have carried a number of articles about the dangers of imposing draconian measures in poor countries. In The Observer, Kenan Malik pointed out that whether in the UK or the developing world, we’re not all in coronavirus together.[15] As he says, in many poor countries “only the privileged can maintain any kind of social isolation.” David Pilling in the Financial Times points out that in developing countries, the lockdown cure could be worse than the disease.[16] Mari Pangestu, a managing director with the World Bank, says in the Daily Telegraph that for the poorest countries, the full danger from coronavirus is only just coming into view, because of its effect on their ability to maintain food and medical supplies.[17]

Astonishingly, the international media treat their sources in the Nicaraguan opposition as bone fidewhen there is a mountain of evidence to the contrary. Even in the current crisis, they have excelled themselves, as Ben Norton has shown in The Grayzone.[18] They created a fake account posing as Nicaragua’s TV Channel 4, with invented statements supposedly by Vice-President Rosario Murillo, announcing school closures that were never planned.[19] They purport to give advice on issues such as social distancing, as if this isn’t available from the government, when in fact, it is (and, as Norton points out, in their daily lives several of them ignore their own recommendations).[20] Within Nicaragua, Facebook is alive with false rumours from opposition sources about deaths allegedly caused by the virus, attempting to undermine people’s confidence in official figures.

President Ortega addresses the nation

When he addressed the public on April 15,[21] President Ortega said little about the criticisms being made by his opponents, although he noted one item of fake news. A Nicaraguan woman, returning recently to Costa Rica where she works, via a route with no border controls, had been accused in local media of carrying the coronavirus. However, when tracked down and tested by the Costa Rican authorities, she was shown to be free of the disease.  Ortega also pointed out that a hospital, various health centers and supplies of medical equipment had been destroyed in opposition arson attacks in Nicaragua during the attempted coup of April 2018; all of these have now been rebuilt or restored, and are available to deal with the pandemic. Referring indirectly to the clamour for Nicaragua to adopt measures like the lockdowns employed in adjoining countries, he pointed out that without work the country dies. And he was able to quote one new statistic: since the worldwide pandemic was officially declared on March 11, a total of 1,237 people had died in Nicaragua; but only one of these had been killed by the coronavirus. In the days ahead we may see a change in public health policy in Nicaragua, but any such change will likely be informed by the situation on the ground, rather than by ill-judged comments in the international media.

John Perry is a writer based in Nicaragua and writes on Central America for The Nation, London Review of Books, Open Democracy, The Grayzone and the Council on Hemispheric Affairs.

End notes.

[1] See https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries

[2] Informe Pastran, April 15 2020 (http://www.informepastran.com/prueba/).

[3] “La larga ausencia en Nicaragua de Daniel Ortega, el único presidente de América Latina que no ha aparecido en público ante la crisis del covid-19”, https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-america-latina-52145204

[4] “Where Is Daniel Ortega? Nicaragua’s Leader Drops From View”, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/06/world/americas/nicaragua-daniel-ortega-coronavirus.html

[5] “President nowhere to be seen as Nicaragua shuns coronavirus curbs”, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/08/nicaragua-daniel-ortega-missing-anger-fear-month

[6] “The president has vanished; his wife, the VP, says the coronavirus isn’t a problem. Nicaragua declines to confront a pandemic”, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/coronavirus-nicaragua-daniel-ortega-missing/2020/04/11/3ad1fafc-79c3-11ea-a311-adb1344719a9_story.html

[7] “Bolsonaro dragging Brazil towards coronavirus calamity, experts fear”, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/12/bolsonaro-dragging-brazil-towards-coronavirus-calamity-experts-fear

[8] “Love in the time of COVID-19: negligence in the Nicaraguan response”, https://www.thelancet.com/journals/langlo/article/PIIS2214-109X(20)30131-5/fulltext

[9] “Brigadistas de salud visitarán a un millón de familias brindando las medidas preventivas ante el coronavirus”, https://www.el19digital.com/articulos/ver/titulo:101463-brigadistas-de-salud-visitaran-a-un-millon-de-familias-brindando-las-medidas-preventivas-ante-el-coronavirus-

[10] WHO Director-General’s opening remarks at the Mission briefing on COVID-19 – 16 April 2020”, https://www.who.int/dg/speeches/detail/who-director-general-s-opening-remarks-at-the-mission-briefing-on-covid-19—16-april-2020

[11] This and other details about the effects of the epidemic and steps being taken are published in daily press briefings and on the website of the health ministry (http://www.minsa.gob.ni/).

[12] See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nv0zv1Xv0MQ (March 31, 2020).

[13] “In El Salvador, gangs are enforcing the coronavirus lockdown with baseball bats”, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-04-07/el-salvador-coronavirus-homicides-bukele

[14] “Informe: Crisis de derechos humanos durante la pandemia Covid-19”, https://defensoresenlinea.com/informe-crisis-de-derechos-humanos-durante-la-pandemia-covid-19/

[15] “Whether in the UK or the developing world, we’re not all in coronavirus together”, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/apr/05/whether-in-the-uk-or-the-developing-world-were-not-all-in-coronavirus-together

[16] “In poor countries, the lockdown cure could be worse than disease”, https://www.ft.com/content/6c3a34c2-73f8-11ea-95fe-fcd274e920ca

[17] “For the poorest countries, the full danger from coronavirus is only just coming into view”, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/science-and-disease/poorest-countries-full-danger-coronavirus-just-coming-view/

[18] “As Nicaragua confronts Covid, its US-backed opposition exploits the pandemic to create chaos”, https://thegrayzone.com/2020/04/13/regime-change-coronavirus-nicaragua/

[19] See https://www.facebook.com/Canal4Nica/videos/205790274093519/

[20] See https://www.instagram.com/tv/B-Gi31SHlTH/?utm_source=ig_embed

[21] See https://www.el19digital.com/articulos/ver/titulo:102299-presidente-daniel-ortega-se-dirige-al-pueblo-de-nicaragua . For an English translation of President Ortega’s complete speech of April 15, 2020, see “DANIEL : ‘It is time to swap nuclear weapons for hospitals’ in Tortilla Con Sal. April 16, 2020, http://www.tortillaconsal.com/tortilla/node/9104

April 22, 2020 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

All Smoke and No Gun at the OPCW

By Jeremy Salt | American Herald Tribune | April 16, 2020

Over the past decade, the London Guardian has never reported the war on Syria in any way commensurate with the principles of true journalism. It is had been running a line, consistently slanted to do as much damage to the Syrian government as possible. As such, it has been a central conduit in the propaganda war. It closed down ‘comment is free’ on its Syria articles long ago because well-informed readers could see what it was up to and were writing embarrassing correctives.

Throughout, its language has been the language of propaganda – ‘the regime,’ ‘Assad loyalists,’ ‘the dictator,’ ‘the rebels’, ‘the armed opposition,’ ‘the uprising,’ ‘the civil war,’ so on and on, endlessly. Its ‘coverage’ has always been calibrated to the damage it thinks it can do to the Syrian government. In fact, by supporting its ‘rebels’ and by implication the  governments arming and financing them, it has only aggravated the damage being done to Syria and its people who, all the evidence suggests, overwhelmingly support their president and their army, not these ‘rebels.’

Silent when its ‘rebels’ are taking a beating, the Guardian springs to life the moment there’s a fresh opportunity to abuse Syria’s president. Accordingly, when the OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) issued its latest report on chemical weapon usage in Syria, its sibling Sunday paper, the Observer, was quick off the mark, running a headline on April 12 reading “The Observer view on the smoking gun that should force Assad to face justice.” It went on: “For the first time the world’s chemical weapons watchdog has directly accused Syria’s leadership of ordering illegal attacks on its own people.” Stating accusations from concealed sources as fact, it concludes that “the tyrant in Damascus has not yet won.”

As it turns out, the OPCW report is all smoke but no gun. Unsurprisingly, given their Syria coverage, the Guardian and the Observer are not even interested in distinguishing between the two. For their purposes, the smoke is as good as the gun. What they call “the world’s chemical weapons watchdog” is actually a watchdog protecting the interests of the governments attacking Syria through armed proxies. The Guardian and the Observer are watchdogs protecting the same interests, which in this case means protecting a tainted report coming from a tainted source.

Last year whistleblowers revealed that the OPCW executive had suppressed the interim report by the Fact Finding Mission (FFM) on the alleged chemical weapons attack on Douma in April 2018, and had issued a doctored final report, reversing the on-the-spot findings of its own experts.

The final report concluded that the cylinder said to have crashed through a roof had probably been dropped from the air when its own engineers had arrived at the “higher probability” that it had been placed there manually. As for the heavy amounts of chlorine it suggested had been released from this cylinder, killing 43 people, according to anonymous “witnesses”, what its own chemists said they found in the air were microparticles no different from what would have been in the air normally. On January 20 this year, the OPCW’s inspection team leader at Douma, Ian Henderson, told a specially convened session of the UN Security Council that the evidence indicated there had been no chemical weapons attack at all at Douma.

Its fraudulent behavior exposed, the OPCW secretariat tried to dismiss the evidence of its whistleblower engineers and scientists as “subjective” but the damage to its credibility was terminal, and in seeking to uphold a tainted report from a tainted organization, the Guardian and the Observer only underscore the tainted nature of their own ‘reporting’ and editorials on Syria.

Wisely, in this latest report, dated April 8, “The First Report by the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team” (IIT), a body established in 2018, the OPCW does not return to what happened at Douma in 2018.  The subject matter this time is chlorine and sarin attacks said to have been carried out in and around the “village” of Ltameneh on March 24, 25 and 30, 2017.

In fact, Al Lataminah (“Llatameneh”) is not a “village” as described in the IIT report but a town with a population of more than 16,000, according to the census of 2004. This has probably shifted upwards or downwards since then. Close to Hama and only a few kilometers from the strategically important M5 highway, the town is located within territory in the Hama governorate that was under the control of Hayat Tahrir al Sham and other terrorist factions when the chemical weapons attacks were said to have taken place in 2017. Al Lataminah itself was the headquarters of Jaysh al ‘Izza (Army of Glory).

According to the IIT, there were three attacks, one of chlorine and two of sarin, on March 24, 25 and 30, each in cylinders or bombs dropped from the air by Syrian air force SU (Sukhoi) 22 fighter aircraft or helicopters. The format of the report is identical to the format of all its reports, and indeed all the reports put out by the UN’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic. Lots of acronyms, weighty officious language implying authority, lots of imputations but virtually nothing in the form of evidence that would stand up in a court.

The sources, individual, institutional and governmental (“state parties”) are all concealed. The OPCW says it sought entry into Syria, but was ignored by the Syrian government, which is hardly surprising given the fakery of its report on Douma. It talks of witnesses, who, as its investigators were not on the spot inside Syria, have to be regarded as alleged witnesses. It does not say who they were or where they were when interviewed, but Turkey would be most likely. Neither is there any mention of possible affiliations, perhaps to the White Helmets or one of the armed groups.

The report ties the alleged attacks to the close proximity of Syrian airbases and the daily activity of Syrian aircraft as they take off and return.  Syria is fighting a war against terrorist groups that have infiltrated and taken over large parts of the Hama and Idlib governorates, so of course military planes and helicopters are frequently in the air. The ITT imputations that they might have been or could have been involved in chemical weapons attacks are devoid of substance.

The IIT report talks confidently of its chain of custody, including shell remnants said to have been taken from craters to one of its (unidentified) designated laboratories.  It does not say who allegedly carried this material out of Syria but as Jaysh al ‘Izza was then in control of the town, one of its members or its sympathizers, committed to the destruction of the Syrian government and out to blacken its name whenever possible,  is the most likely.

Included in the IIT evidential chain is information “obtained” during interviews, information “previously” provided by “witnesses,” interviews with “persons of interest” along with the evidence of other unidentified “witnesses” to the attacks and people affected by them. Again, these are alleged witnesses to an alleged attack and people allegedly affected by these alleged attacks. They were NOT interviewed in Syria and the IIT report provides no proof of their authenticity.

The IIT’s further sources include unidentified videos and  “documents,” as well as “relevant material” from “various sources,” briefings and advice from unidentified “experts” and “specialists,” information from unidentified “open sources” and “forensic institutes,” and unspecified input from unidentified “state parties.”

Noting the use of tunnels at Al Lataminah by Jaish al ‘Izza, a “military expert” advising the IIT “noted [that] the use of chemical weapons in this area would not be inconsistent [my italics] with a strategy aimed at inflicting terror on both civilians and combatants.” Neither, of course, on the basis of past compelling evidence, would it be inconsistent with the proven attempts by terrorist groups to lure outside governments into launching an air war on Syria by staging faked chemical weapons attacks. The IIT refers to the possibility of a staged attack, but does not take it seriously.

It claims to have received information “from multiple sources”, unidentified of course, that senior Syrian Republican Guard officers (names redacted) sent orders to “former members” of the “previously-designated branch 450, a component of the Syrian Arab Republic’s chemical weapons programme responsible for the storage, mixing and filling of chemical weapons, including sarin, to prepare items for use in the defense of Hama.”  By imputation, these “items” were chemical weapons. The IIT also claimed to have “obtained information” that in March 2017, sarin precursors were being stored at a facility at Him Shinshar, in the Homs governorate.

The ITT notes that branch 450 was “officially” dissolved in 2013, insinuating, again, that it wasn’t really, while providing no evidence at all to back up the “information” received from some unnamed source that the Syrian government still had a stock of sarin precursors. It does not say where the “former members” are now, or what they are doing, and provides no hard evidence at all to back up the claim by hidden “multiple sources” that in 2017 they were still involved in the preparation of chemical weapons

The report refers to satellite imaging of the Shayrat airbase (provided by whom?) showing, “according to a specialist” (in what?) “structures” that “could have been used [my italics] to store chemical weapons.”  Perhaps they also could have been used to store engine parts, garden tools, food for the base canteen or cleaning material for the toilet blocks but the unknown contents of these “structures” are all part of the buildup to the IIT report’s conclusion that it was “very likely” Syrian air force planes did drop chemical weapons on Al Lataminah.

The same imagery indicated that part of the Hama airbase was a “possible barrel bomb storage depot” with a number of items visible as “possible barrel bombs.” No doubt there is a vast range of other possibilities for what these “items” might have been, so why pick just this one? The ITT also claimed to have “obtained information” that chlorine barrel bombs had been prepared at nearby Masyaf, the 12th century center of the Ismaili fidais (sacrificers) who have passed into history as the Order of the Assassins. According to the IIT’s source, they were taken to Hama, but without there being any inkling of who provided this “information,” such a claim cannot possibly be taken at face value.

The IIT claimed to have “received information” that 176 people were admitted to hospital after the (alleged) sarin attack on March 24 but admitted that it had been unable to locate the medical records. Clearly they would have been of paramount importance in confirming what had taken place, and medical staff in a hospital in a town controlled by Jaysh al ‘Izza could surely have been easily persuaded to provide them. There is no attempt by the ITT, however, to explain why its sources could not come up with photocopies of at least one or two of these records, if indeed there was an attack, if there were indeed casualties and if there were indeed medical records to photocopy.

The IIT further claims to have interviewed casualties and medical staff who described symptoms toxicologists found “plausible” as being consistent with the effects of nerve gas. In fact, sarin is so deadly that it can kill within one to ten minutes, with those who survive often suffering permanent brain damage, raising further questions about its alleged use at Al Lataminah. There is no indication in the IIT report that any of these alleged victims were subjected to a medical examination either in Syria or wherever it was that they were later interviewed. For a team of investigators determined to get to the truth, one would have thought this also should have been a priority.

The IIT claimed to have interviewed individuals “with direct knowledge” of the attacks. It does not say where they were interviewed and how it knew they had “direct knowledge” of the alleged attacks.  It further claims that munitions remnants (allegedly) taken from a crater “could be linked” to “potential chemical weapons use.” “Could be” and “potential” are hardly persuasive.

Samples were (allegedly) taken from one crater on March 26, 2017, but not delivered to the FFM until August 12. There is no indication of who in this Jaysh al ‘Izza-controlled town dug up the samples and gave them to the FFM nearly five months later. One would have to conclude that it was most likely someone from Jaysh al ‘Izza, if in fact there was a crater and the samples were taken from it and not somewhere else.  Speculating further, the report says that 2000 bombs designed to carry chemical weapons had been converted into conventional bombs after 2013 and supposedly used but the secretariat had been unable to confirm that this had actually happened, conveniently leaving an avenue open to support the IIT’s claims.

The report claims that helicopters dropped four “barrel bombs” on March 25, one falling through the roof of a building, just as a cylinder full of chlorine was said to have done in the discredited report the OPCW issued on Douma. Three “witnesses” were said to have seen the event and reported that three people died as a result and 32 were injured. There is not a scintilla of confirmation for any of this. There is no indication of how the IIT was able to confirm that the individuals it interviewed in another country, apparently long after the event, really were witnesses.

Completely sweeping away the creaking foundations of all of this is the OPCW’s own earlier findings on the destruction of all the Syrian government’s stocks of chemical weapons material, following the staged attack in the Ghouta disrict, near Damascus, in August 2013, designed to draw Barack Obama over his self-declared “red line” so that he would launch an air attack.

Warned by his own intelligence agencies that the attack could be a setup, Obama pulled back at the last minute, but subsequently, the Syrian government offered to have all its stocks of chemical weapons destroyed under international supervision anyway. The process began in September 2013, the Syrian government simultaneously signing on to the International Convention on the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (1997).

By June 2014, the OPCW, the supervising body, reported that all production capacity had been destroyed. The remaining chemicals were removed from Syria and by August 2014,  all had been destroyed. In January 2016, the OPCW affirmed that the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons material in the previous three years had been completed. Now, however, the ITT is reproducing an unsubstantiated claim that they weren’t, in order to lend spurious plausibility to its accusations that the Syrian air force dropped chemical weapons and nerve gas on and around Al Lataminah.

The appropriate resting place for this report is not the filing cabinet but the wastepaper basket. With these reports, the OPCW has completely destroyed its credibility. It needs cleaning out, beginning with the sacking of the director-general and the entire secretariat. Otherwise, it should be replaced with a new body, if the world is to have a credible independent chemical weapons watchdog and not one that appears to dance to the foreign policy interests of the US and its global satraps.

April 21, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

All Smoke and No Gun at the OPCW

By Jeremy Salt | American Herald tribune | April 16, 2020

Over the past decade, the London Guardian has never reported the war on Syria in any way commensurate with the principles of true journalism. It is had been running a line, consistently slanted to do as much damage to the Syrian government as possible. As such, it has been a central conduit in the propaganda war. It closed down ‘comment is free’ on its Syria articles long ago because well-informed readers could see what it was up to and were writing embarrassing correctives.

Throughout, its language has been the language of propaganda – ‘the regime,’ ‘Assad loyalists,’ ‘the dictator,’ ‘the rebels’, ‘the armed opposition,’ ‘the uprising,’ ‘the çivil war,’ so on and on, endlessly.  Its ‘coverage’ has always been calibrated to the damage it thinks it can do to the Syrian government. In fact, by supporting its ‘rebels’ and by implication the  governments arming and financing them, it has only aggravated the damage being done to Syria and its people who, all the evidence suggests, overwhelmingly support their president and their army, not these ‘rebels.’

Silent when its ‘rebels’ are taking a beating, the Guardian springs to life the moment there’s a fresh opportunity to abuse Syria’s president. Accordingly, when the OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) issued its latest report on chemical weapon usage in Syria, its sibling Sunday paper, the Observer, was quick off the mark, running  a headline on April 12 reading “Assad to face justice.” It went on: “For the first time the world’s chemical weapons watchdog has directly accused Syria’s leadership of ordering illegal attacks on its own people.” Stating accusations from concealed sources as fact, it concludes that “the tyrant in Damascus has not yet won.”

As it turns out, the OPCW report is all smoke but no gun. Unsurprisingly, given their Syria coverage, the Guardian and the Observer are not even interested in distinguishing between the two. For their purposes, the smoke is as good as the gun. What they call “the world’s chemical weapons watchdog” is actually a watchdog protecting the interests of the governments attacking Syria through armed proxies. The Guardian and the Observer are watchdogs protecting the same interests, which in this case means protecting a tainted report coming from a tainted source.

Last year whistleblowers revealed that the OPCW executive had suppressed the interim report by the Fact Finding Mission (FFM) on the alleged chemical weapons attack on Douma in April 2018, and had issued a doctored final report, reversing the on-the-spot findings of its own experts.

The final report concluded that the cylinder said to have crashed through a roof had probably been dropped from the air when its own engineers had arrived at the “higher probability” that it had been placed there manually. As for the heavy amounts of chlorine it suggested had been released from this cylinder, killing 43 people, according to anonymous “witnesses”, what its own chemists said they found in the air were microparticles no different from what would have been in the air normally. On January 20 this year, the OPCW’s inspection team leader at Douma, Ian Henderson, told a specially convened session of the UN Security Council that the evidence indicated there had been no chemical weapons attack at all at Douma.

Its fraudulent behavior exposed, the OPCW secretariat tried to dismiss the evidence of its whistleblower engineers and scientists as “subjective” but the damage to its credibility was terminal, and in seeking to uphold a tainted report from a tainted organization,  the Guardian and the Observer only underscore the tainted nature of their own ‘reporting’ and editorials on Syria.

Wisely, in this latest report, dated April 8, “The First Report by the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team” (IIT), a body established in 2018, the OPCW does not return to what happened at Douma in 2018. The subject matter this time is chlorine and sarin attacks said to have been carried out in and around the “village” of Ltameneh on March 24, 25 and 30, 2017.

In fact, Al Lataminah (“Llatameneh”) is not a “village” as described in the IIT report but a town with a population of more than 16,000, according to the census of 2004.  This has probably shifted upwards or downwards since then. Close to Hama and only a few kilometers from the strategically important M5 highway, the town is located within territory in the Hama governorate that was under the control of Hayat Tahrir al Sham and other terrorist factions when the chemical weapons attacks were said to have taken place in 2017. Al Lataminah itself was the headquarters of Jaysh al ‘Izza (Army of Glory).

According to the IIT, there were three attacks, one of chlorine and two of sarin, on March 24, 25 and 30, each in cylinders or bombs dropped from the air by Syrian air force SU (Sukhoi) 22 fighter aircraft or helicopters. The format of the report is identical to the format of all its reports, and indeed all the reports put out by the UN’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic. Lots of acronyms, weighty officious language implying authority, lots of imputations but virtually nothing in the form of evidence that would stand up in a court.

The sources, individual, institutional and governmental (“state parties”) are all concealed. The OPCW says it sought entry into Syria, but was ignored by the Syrian government, which is hardly surprising given the fakery of its report on Douma. It talks of witnesses, who, as its investigators were not on the spot inside Syria, have to be regarded as alleged witnesses. It does not say who they were or where they were when interviewed, but Turkey would be most likely. Neither is there any mention of possible affiliations, perhaps to the White Helmets or one of the armed groups.

The report ties the alleged attacks to the close proximity of Syrian airbases and the daily activity of Syrian aircraft as they take off and return. Syria is fighting a war against terrorist groups that have infiltrated and taken over large parts of the Hama and Idlib governorates, so of course military planes and helicopters are frequently in the air. The ITT imputations that they might have been or could have been involved in chemical weapons attacks are devoid of substance.

The IIT report talks confidently of its chain of custody, including shell remnants said to have been taken from craters to one of its (unidentified) designated laboratories. It does not say who allegedly carried this material out of Syria but as Jaysh al ‘Izza was then in control of the town, one of its members or its sympathizers, committed to the destruction of the Syrian government and out to blacken its name whenever possible, is the most likely.

Included in the IIT evidential chain is information “obtained” during interviews, information “previously” provided by “witnesses,” interviews with “persons of interest” along with the evidence of other unidentified “witnesses” to the attacks and people affected by them. Again, these are alleged witnesses to an alleged attack and people allegedly affected by these alleged attacks. They were NOT interviewed in Syria and the IIT report provides no proof of their authenticity.

The IIT’s further sources include unidentified videos and “documents,” as well as “relevant material” from “various sources,” briefings and advice from unidentified “experts” and “specialists,” information from unidentified “open sources” and “forensic institutes,” and unspecified input from unidentified “state parties.”

Noting the use of tunnels at Al Lataminah by Jaish al ‘Izza, a “military expert” advising the IIT “noted [that] the use of chemical weapons in this area would not be inconsistent [my italics] with a strategy aimed at inflicting terror on both civilians and combatants.” Neither, of course, on the basis of past compelling evidence, would it be inconsistent with the proven attempts by terrorist groups to lure outside governments into launching an air war on Syria by staging faked chemical weapons attacks. The IIT refers to the possibility of a staged attack, but does not take it seriously.

It claims to have received information “from multiple sources”, unidentified of course, that senior Syrian Republican Guard officers (names redacted) sent orders to “former members” of the “previously-designated branch 450, a component of the Syrian Arab Republic’s chemical weapons programme responsible for the storage, mixing and filling of chemical weapons, including sarin, to prepare items for use in the defense of Hama.” By imputation, these “items” were chemical weapons. The IIT also claimed to have “obtained information” that in March 2017, sarin precursors were being stored at a facility at Him Shinshar, in the Homs governorate.

The ITT notes that branch 450 was “officially” dissolved in 2013, insinuating, again, that it wasn’t really, while providing no evidence at all to back up the “information” received from some unnamed source that the Syrian government still had a stock of sarin precursors. It does not say where the “former members” are now, or what they are doing, and provides no hard evidence at all to back up the claim by hidden “multiple sources” that in 2017 they were still involved in the preparation of chemical weapons

The report refers to satellite imaging of the Shayrat airbase (provided by whom?) showing, “according to a specialist” (in what?) “structures” that “could have been used [my italics] to store chemical weapons.”  Perhaps they also could have been used to store engine parts, garden tools, food for the base canteen or cleaning material for the toilet blocks but the unknown contents of these “structures” are all part of the buildup to the IIT report’s conclusion that it was “very likely” Syrian air force planes did drop chemical weapons on Al Lataminah.

The same imagery indicated that part of the Hama airbase was a “possible barrel bomb storage depot” with a number of items visible as “possible barrel bombs.” No doubt there is a vast range of other possibilities for what these “items” might have been, so why pick just this one? The ITT also claimed to have “obtained information” that chlorine barrel bombs had been prepared at nearby Masyaf, the 12th century center of the Ismaili fidais (sacrificers) who have passed into history as the Order of the Assassins. According to the IIT’s source, they were taken to Hama, but without there being any inkling of who provided this “information,” such a claim cannot possibly be taken at face value.

The IIT claimed to have “received information” that 176 people were admitted to hospital after the (alleged) sarin attack on March 24 but admitted that it had been unable to locate the medical records. Clearly they would have been of paramount importance in confirming what had taken place, and medical staff in a hospital in a town controlled by Jaysh al ‘Izza could surely have been easily persuaded to provide them. There is no attempt by the ITT, however, to explain why its sources could not come up with photocopies of at least one or two of these records, if indeed there was an attack, if there were indeed casualties and if there were indeed medical records to photocopy.

The IIT further claims to have interviewed casualties and medical staff who described symptoms toxicologists found “plausible” as being consistent with the effects of nerve gas. In fact, sarin is so deadly that it can kill within one to ten minutes, with those who survive often suffering permanent brain damage, raising further questions about its alleged use at Al Lataminah. There is no indication in the IIT report that any of these alleged victims were subjected to a medical examination either in Syria or wherever it was that they were later interviewed.  For a team of investigators determined to get to the truth, one would have thought this also should have been a priority.

The IIT claimed to have interviewed individuals “with direct knowledge” of the attacks. It does not say where they were interviewed and how it knew they had “direct knowledge” of the alleged attacks. It further claims that munitions remnants (allegedly) taken from a crater “could be linked” to “potential chemical weapons use.” “Could be” and “potential” are hardly persuasive.

Samples were (allegedly) taken from one crater on March 26, 2017, but not delivered to the FFM until August 12. There is no indication of who in this Jaysh al ‘Izza-controlled town dug up the samples and gave them to the FFM nearly five months later. One would have to conclude that it was most likely someone from Jaysh al ‘Izza, if in fact there was a crater and the samples were taken from it and not somewhere else. Speculating further, the report says that 2000 bombs designed to carry chemical weapons had been converted into conventional bombs after 2013 and supposedly used but the secretariat had been unable to confirm that this had actually happened, conveniently leaving an avenue open to support the IIT’s claims.

The report claims that helicopters dropped four “barrel bombs” on March 25, one falling through the roof of a building, just as a cylinder full of chlorine was said to have done in the discredited report the OPCW issued on Douma. Three “witnesses” were said to have seen the event and reported that three people died as a result and 32 were injured. There is not a scintilla of confirmation for any of this. There is no indication of how the IIT was able to confirm that the individuals it interviewed in another country, apparently long after the event, really were witnesses.

Completely sweeping away the creaking foundations of all of this is the OPCW’s own earlier findings on the destruction of all the Syrian government’s stocks of chemical weapons material, following the staged attack in the Ghouta disrict, near Damascus, in August 2013, designed to draw Barack Obama over his self-declared “red line” so that he would launch an air attack.

Warned by his own intelligence agencies that the attack could be a setup, Obama pulled back at the last minute, but subsequently, the Syrian government offered to have all its stocks of chemical weapons destroyed under international supervision anyway. The process began in September 2013, the Syrian government simultaneously signing on to the International Convention on the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (1997).

By June 2014, the OPCW, the supervising body, reported that all production capacity had been destroyed. The remaining chemicals were removed from Syria and by August 2014,  all had been destroyed. In January 2016, the OPCW affirmed that the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons material in the previous three years had been completed. Now, however, the ITT is reproducing an unsubstantiated claim that they weren’t, in order to lend spurious plausibility to its accusations that the Syrian air force dropped chemical weapons and nerve gas on and around Al Lataminah.

The appropriate resting place for this report is not the filing cabinet but the wastepaper basket. With these reports, the OPCW has completely destroyed its credibility. It needs cleaning out, beginning with the sacking of the director-general and the entire secretariat. Otherwise, it should be replaced with a new body, if the world is to have a credible independent chemical weapons watchdog and not one that appears to dance to the foreign policy interests of the US and its global satraps.

April 17, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 1 Comment

For the green zealots, Covid-19 is our penance for sins against the planet

By Frank Furedi | RT | March 20, 2020

Green zealots want to turn the global catastrophe of Covid-19 into fuel for their alarmist extinction narrative. By blaming humanity’s impact on the planet for the outbreak, they hope to mobilize support for their cause.

The hastily cobbled together green playbook on the unfolding global pandemic seeks to hold humanity responsible for the outbreak of Covid-19. Its rhetoric of blame is often just that – rhetoric.

The communications strategy adopted by green scaremongers is to continually raise questions about the possibility that our neglect of nature has brought Covid-19 down upon us. The more frequently such questions are posed the more likely that their speculation will mutate into a taken-for-granted fact. “Tip of the iceberg: is our destruction of nature responsible for Covid-19?” asks a headline in the Guardian. The manner in which this question is posed invites readers to respond, “quite likely.”

To pose questions about the link to man-made climate change is often presented as the normal response to the crisis. A commentary on Inside Climate News illustrates this rhetorical strategy.

“Now, questions have arisen about whether climate change contributed to the outbreak of Covid-19, whose spread the World Health Organization declared a pandemic on Wednesday. For example, did habitat loss, driven in part by climate change, make it easier for pathogens to spread among wildlife and for the virus to jump to humans? Does air pollution, mainly from the burning of fossil fuels, make some people more vulnerable to contracting the illness?”

As one question reinforces the next, the reader is encouraged to imagine that in some shape or form, climate change is likely to be connected to the Covid-19 outbreak.

It is almost as if green activists are desperately hoping that someone will come up with a shred of evidence that can be used to prove that one way or another that human-created global warming is responsible for the outbreak. Their interest is far removed from containing the virus’ threat. On the contrary, their narrative takes great delight in using Covid-19 as a weapon to be wielded against environmentally irresponsible people. Statements on this score transmit the message ‘that it is all your fault’. In this vein, Dr Aaaron Bernstein, Interim Director Of The Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment, offers a cautionary tale about the impact of human behaviour on the planet:

“You look at climate change, we have transformed the nature of the Earth. We have fundamentally changed the composition of the atmosphere, and as such, we shouldn’t be surprised that that affects our health. We have, as a species, grown up in partnership with the planet and life we live with. So, when we change the rules of the game, we shouldn’t expect that it wouldn’t affect our health, for better or worse. That’s true of the climate. And the same principle holds for the emergence of infections.”

Bernstein does not provide any arguments for his casual linking of the transformation of the world by humans to the emergence of infections. That’s not the point of his statement. His objective is to morally condemn the very human aspiration to change the world and to imply that we have brought the current global tragedy upon ourselves.

Not so long ago, with the development of science we learned that a disaster, such as a plague or an earthquake, was not caused by mysterious vengeful forces – they were rightly called ‘Acts of Nature’. For the green zealot, disasters are never just Acts of Nature; they are a penalty that humanity pays for seeking to modernize the world.

For green ideologues, the pandemic provides an opportunity to mobilize support for their cause. For us, the flu outbreak constitutes a threat that will be overcome with single minded commitment to the cause of humanity. History shows that – contrary to the green world view – humans are not the problem, they are the solution.


Frank Furedi is an author and social commentator is an emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Kent in Canterbury. Author of How Fear Works: The Culture of Fear in the 21st Century. Follow him on Twitter @Furedibyte

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Environmentalism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science | | 3 Comments

Guardian uses misleading data to imply COVID worse than Spanish Flu

By Catte Black | OffGuardian | March 11, 2020

The curious downgrading of the 1918 Spanish Flu case fatality rate, which I looked into March 9, has taken an interesting new turn today, with the Guardian publishing this piece, by science journalist Laura Spinney

Closed borders and ‘black weddings’: what the 1918 flu teaches us about coronavirus

which uses this anomalous lower figure (2.5%) to imply that COVID19 may prove more dangerous than the Spanish Flu:

Last week the WHO provisionally quoted a CFR of 3.4% [for COVID19], which would be alarming if it were correct. The CFR of the 1918 flu is still being debated… but the number usually quoted is 2.5%…

Elsewhere, however she also describes the 1918 Spanish Flu as:

That global human catastrophe, which killed between 50 million and 100 million people…

This is curious for a couple of reasons:

  1. Because the Spanish Flu CFR ‘number usually quoted’ is NOT 2.5% It’s 10-20%. Or 50-100 million deaths from 500 million cases.
  2. Because Spinney herself has pointed out in her book, Pale Rider:the Spanish Flu of 1918 & How it Changed the World, that this lower CFR (2.5%) is irreconcilable with the commonly accepted numbers of dead:

Indeed, as I showed in my previous article, those two figures – a death-rate of 50-100 million and a CFR of 2.5% can’t co-exist. They are mutually exclusive. For 50 million to be 2.5% of all cases there would have to have been 2 billion cases. If 100 million is 2.5% of all cases then there would have to have been 4 billion cases. Even the lower figure is greater than the entire population of the world at that time. It’s an obvious error.

But how did it come about? And why is this anomalous 2.5% figure seeing a resurgence of use in very recent days?

A recent Twitter thread by Ferres Jabr, a science writer for the NYT magazine, does a lot to expose how the two twisted and irreconcilable stats – 50-100 million dead and a CFR of 2.5% originally came about. I urge you all to read this entire thing, it’s excellent (the thread is also available in PDF form here, just in case it gets memory holed):

To sum up its findings. The number of Spanish Flu cases worldwide has long been estimated at around 500 million, and this estimate has not changed. However the number of estimated deaths has changed quite dramatically in recent times, and this is the source of the error.

Back in the 1970s the total number of deaths was estimated at around 20 million, due to a failure to assimilate many cases from the non-Western world. The CFR of 2.5% it estimated was a little low but broadly inline with its other figure.

But in 2002 a new study corrected the lacuna in non-Western cases and produced the estimate of worldwide deaths we are familiar with now – 50-100 million. This meant the CFR was no longer 2.5% but now 10-20% of total estimated cases.

Then a later study, from 2006, used these updated fatality figures, but omitted to update the CFR, citing it as still 2.5%. Which meant it was offering the impossible and contradictory number recently adopted by Wikipedia.

Obviously this was a simple error, and it has been pointed out several times in the intervening years (see for example here). But, as the recently ‘corrected’ Wikipedia article shows, it’s proving a very fortuitous error right now for those wanting to instil very high amounts of public fear.

Pretty obviously this innocent error is being exploited as part of a very cynical bid by some entities, including the Wikipedia editors, to make the current coronavirus scare seem, well, scarier. The 1918 flu pandemic is embedded in the collective mind as an exemplar of a terrifying outbreak. If the stats can be manipulated to allow people to claim its CFR was actually lower than COVID19 – well that’s some valuable fear porn for use in articles and headlines, and by sock puppets BTL trying to create memes.

To that end, the current confusion is a bit of a Godsend.

Spinney’s article illustrates this very well. Spinney is well aware of the ‘2.5% anomaly’ as she herself has drawn attention to it, but no reference to it appears anywhere in this piece. And, while her article stops short of actually claiming COVID19 is going to be bigger than the Spanish Flu, the opening paras – which will be the most read of course – certainly leave that possibility more than open, where they directly compare the alleged CFR of the current coronavirus (3.4%) with the 2.5% figure for Spanish Flu – which she knows to be erroneous.

This is cynically providing a nice easy and totally misleading quote for anyone who wants to claim COVID19 is measurably more dangerous than the Spanish Flu, while stopping short of actually making the claim.

Spinney ought, at very least, to have added her own rider from her own book to this Guardian article, and made it perfectly clear that the ‘commonly accepted’ Spanish Flu CFR of 2.5% is not just wrong, but impossible.

The fact she chose not to, or was possibly deterred from doing so by her editor, is not just revealing of agenda, it’s actually shameful and irresponsible to a very high degree.

The UK government has asked people to report any sources of misleading information on COVID19. This Guardian article is clearly one such, but I highly doubt it is the kind of ‘misinformation’ they want to be apprised of.

March 11, 2020 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | 1 Comment

How the UK press supports the British military and intelligence establishment

By Mark Curtis | Declassified UK | March 11, 2020

Britain’s national press is acting largely as a platform for the views of the UK military and intelligence establishment, new statistical research by Declassified UK shows.

The UK press, from The Times to The Guardian, is also routinely helping to demonise states identified by the British government as enemies, while tending to whitewash those seen as allies.

The research, which analyses the UK national print media, suggests that the public is being bombarded by views and selective information supporting the priorities of policy-makers. The media is found to be routinely misinforming the public and acting far from independently.

This is the second part of a two-part analysis of UK national press coverage of British foreign policy.

Elite platform

Numerous stories or points of information on Britain’s intelligence agencies, such as MI6 and GCHQ, are being fed to journalists by anonymous “security sources” – often military or intelligence officials who do not want to be named.

The term “security sources” has been mentioned in 1,020 press articles in the past three years alone, close to one a day. While not all of these relate to UK sources, it indicates the common use of this method by British journalists.

Declassified’s recent research found that officials in the UK military and intelligence establishment had been sources for at least 34 major national media stories that cast Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as a danger to British security. The research also found 440 articles in the UK press from September 2015 until December 2019 specifically mentioning Corbyn as a “threat to national security”.

Anonymous sources easily push out messages supportive of government policy and often include misleading or unverifiable information with no come-back from journalists. The Ministry of Defence (MOD) says it has 89 “media relations and communications” officers.

Many journalists regularly present the views of the MOD or security services to the public with few or no filters or challenges, merely amplifying what their sources tell them. In “exclusive” interviews with MI6 or MI5, for example, journalists invariably allow the security services to promote their views without serious, or any, scepticism for their claims or relevant context.

That the UK intelligence services are regularly presented as politically neutral actors and the bearers of objective information is exemplified in headlines such as “MI6 lays bare the growing Russian threat” (in the Times) and “Russia and Assad regime ‘creating a new generation of terrorists who will be threat to us all’, MI6 warns” (in the Independent).

Press coverage of the RAF’s 100th “birthday” in 2018 produced no critical articles that could be found, with most being stories from the MOD presented as news. This is despite episodes in the RAF’s history such as the bombing of civilians in colonial campaigns in the Middle East in the 1920s, 1930s and 1950s and its prominent current role in supporting Saudi airstrikes in Yemen, which has helped create the world’s biggest humanitarian disaster.

Similarly, for GCHQ’s 100th anniversary in 2019, the press appeared to simply write up information provided by the organisation. Only the occasional article mentioned GCHQ’s role in operating programmes of mass surveillance while its covert online action programmes and secret spy bases in at least one repressive Middle East regime were ignored by every paper at the time, as far as could be found.

The national press are generally strong supporters of the security services and the military. A number of outlets, from the Times and Telegraph to the Mirror, are strongly opposed to government cuts in parts of the military budget, for example.

The British army’s main special forces unit, the SAS, which is currently involved in seven covert wars, is invariably seen positively in the national press. A search reveals 384 mentions of the term “SAS hero” in the UK national press in the past five years – mainly in the Sun, but also in the Times, Express, Mail, Telegraph and others.

Critical articles on the special forces are rare, and the journalists writing them can face a backlash from other reporters.

In some press articles, MOD media releases are largely copied and pasted. For example, recent MOD material on RAF Typhoons in Eastern Europe scrambling to intercept Russian aircraft has often been repeated word for word across the media.

A press release from the UK’s Royal Air Force, and how it was covered by two British newspapers, The Sun and The Independent.

Such “embedded journalism” poses a significant threat to the public interest. Richard Norton-Taylor, formerly the Guardian’s security correspondent for over 40 years, told Declassified : “Embedded journalists — those invited to join British military units in conflict zones — are at the mercy of their MOD handlers at the best of times. Journalists covering defence, security and intelligence are far too deferential and indulge far too much in self-censorship”.

Some papers are more extreme than others in their willingness to act as platforms for the military and intelligence establishment. The Express may well be the most supportive: its coverage of MOD stories and vilification of official enemies, notably Russia, is remarkable and consistent.

The Guardian, however, has also been shown to play a similar role. Declassified’s recent analysis, drawing on newly released documents and evidence from former and current Guardian journalists, found that the paper has been successfully targeted by security agencies to neutralise its adversarial reporting of the “security state”.

Censorship by omission

Articles critical of the Ministry of Defence or security services are occasionally published in the press. However, these tend to be either on relatively minor issues or are reported on briefly and then forgotten. Rarely do seriously critical stories receive sustained coverage or are widely picked up across the rest of the media.

Often, reporters will cover a topic and elide the most important information for no clear reason. For example, there is considerable coverage of possible MI5 failures to prevent the May 2017 Manchester terrorist bombing — failings which may be understandable given the large number of terrorist suspects being monitored at any one time.

However, the government admitted in parliament in March 2018 that it “likely” had contacts with two militant groups in the 2011 war in Libya for which the Manchester bomber and his father reportedly fought at the time, one of which groups the UK had covertly supported in the past. This significant admission in parliament has not been reported in any press article, as far as can be found.

People lay flowers in St Annes Square on the first anniversary of the Manchester Arena bombing in Manchester, Britain, 22 May 2018. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Nigel Roddis)

Last September, veteran investigative journalist Ian Cobain broke a story on the alternative news site Middle East Eye revealing that the senior Twitter executive with editorial responsibility for the Middle East is also a part-time officer in the British army’s psychological warfare unit, the so-called 77th Brigade.

This story was picked up by a few media outlets at the time (including the Financial Times, the Times and the Independent ) but our research finds that it then went unmentioned in the hundreds of press articles subsequently covering Twitter.

Similarly, in November 2018, a story broke on a secretive UK government-financed programme called the Integrity Initiative, which is ostensibly a “counter disinformation” programme to challenge Russian information operations but was also revealed to be tweeting messages attacking Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Our research finds that in the 14 months until December 2019, the Integrity Initiative was mentioned less than 20 times in the UK-wide national press, mainly in the Times (it was also mentioned 15 times in the Scottish paper, the Sunday Mail ).

By contrast, when stories break that are useful to the British establishment, they tend to receive sustained media coverage.

Establishment think tanks

The British press routinely chooses to rely on sources in think tanks that largely share the same pro-military and pro-intervention agenda as the state.

The two most widely-cited military-related think tanks in the UK are the London-based Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) which are usually quoted as independent voices or experts. In the last five years, RUSI has appeared in 534 press articles and IISS in 120.

However, both are funded by governments and corporations. RUSI, which is located next door to the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall, has funders such as BAE Systems, the Qatar government, the Foreign Office and the US State Department. IISS’s chief financial backers include BAE Systems, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and Airbus.

This funding is mentioned in only two press reports that could be found – the Guardian reported that IISS received money from the regime in Bahrain while the Times once noted, “RUSI, while funded in part by the MoD, is an independent think tank”.

One Telegraph article refers to a “research fellow at RUSI who specialises in combat airpower”, without mentioning that its funder BAE Systems is a major producer of warplanes.

Although many senior figures in these organisations previously worked in government, press readers are rarely informed of this. RUSI’s chair is former foreign secretary William Hague, its vice-chair is former MI6 director Sir John Scarlett and its senior vice-president is David Petraeus, former CIA director.

The IISS’s deputy secretary-general is a former senior official at the US State Department while its Middle East director is a former Lieutenant-General in the British army who served as defence senior adviser to the Middle East. One of IISS’ senior advisers is Nigel Inkster, a former senior MI6 officer.

Media and intelligence

Richard Keeble, professor of journalism at the University of Lincoln, has noted that the influence of the intelligence services on the media may be “enormous” and the British secret service may even control large parts of the press. “Most tabloid newspapers – or even newspapers in general – are playthings of MI5”, says Roy Greenslade, a former editor of the Daily Mirror who has also worked as media specialist for both the Telegraph and the Guardian.

David Leigh, former investigations editor of the Guardian, has written that reporters are routinely approached and manipulated by intelligence agents, who operate in three ways: they attempt to recruit journalists to spy on other people or go themselves under journalistic “cover”, they pose as journalists in order to write tendentious articles under false names, and they plant stories on willing journalists, who disguise their origin from their readers — known as black propaganda.

MI6 managed a psychological warfare operation in the run-up to the Iraq war of 2003 that was revealed by former UN arms inspector Scott Ritter. Known as Operation Mass Appeal, this operation “served as a focal point for passing MI6 intelligence on Iraq to the media, both in the UK and around the world. The goal was to help shape public opinion about Iraq and the threat posed by WMD [weapons of mass destruction]”.

Various fabricated reports were written up in the media in the run-up to the Iraq war, based on intelligence sources. These included cargo ships said to be carrying Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (covered in the Independent and Guardian ) and claims that Saddam Hussein killed his missile chief to thwart a UN team (Sunday Telegraph ).

More recent examples of apparently fabricated stories in the establishment media include Guardian articles on the subject of Julian Assange. The paper claimed in a front page splash written by Luke Harding and Dan Collyns in November 2018 that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort secretly met Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy three times.

The Guardian also falsely reported on a “Russia escape plot” to enable Assange to leave the embassy for which the paper later gave a partial apology. Both stories appeared to be part of a months-long campaign by the Guardian against Assange.

The exterior view of Thames House, MI5 Headquarters, in Millbank, on the bank of the River Thames, London, Britain. (Photo: EPA-EFE/ Horacio Villalobos)

Demonising enemies

The media plays a consistent role in following the state’s demonisation of official enemies. The term “Russian threat” is mentioned in 401 articles in the past five years, across the national press. The Express may be the largest press amplifier of the government’s demonisation of Russia — the paper carries a steady stream of stories critical of Russia and Putin.

The British establishment has invoked Russia as an enemy in recent years due mainly to the poisonings in the town of Salisbury and policy in eastern Europe. Whatever malign policies Russia is promoting, which can be real, false or exaggerated, it is noteworthy that this has been elevated by the press to a general “threat” to the UK. As during the cold war, this is useful to the British military and security services arguing for larger budgets and for offensive military postures in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

Russia’s alleged interference in British politics has received huge coverage compared to alleged Israeli influence. A simple comparison of search terms using “Russia/Israel and UK and interference” in press articles in the past five years yields seven times more mentions of Russia than Israel, despite considerable evidence of Israeli interference.

UK press reporting on Iran is also noticeably supportive of government policy. A search for “Iran and nuclear weapons programme” reveals 325 articles in the past five years. While this large coverage is driven by president Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, it is also driven by Iran being a designated enemy of the US and UK, which have deemed it unacceptable that Tehran should ever acquire nuclear weapons.

By contrast, “Israel’s nuclear weapons” (and variants of this search term) are mentioned in under 30 press articles in the past five years. Natanz, Iran’s main nuclear arms facility, has been mentioned in around four times more press articles than Dimona, the Israeli nuclear site, in the past five years.

The contrast in reporting on Iran and Israel is striking since Iran does not possess nuclear weapons, and it is not certain that it seeks to, whereas Western ally Israel already has such weapons, estimated at around 80 warheads.

An aerial view of Israel’s nuclear site at Dimona. (Google Maps)

Labelling goodies and baddies

The national press strongly follows the government in labelling states as enemies or allies.

States favoured by the UK are mainly described in the press using the neutral term “government” rather the more critical term “regime”. In the past three years, for example, the term “Saudi government” has been used in 790 articles while “Saudi regime” is mentioned in 388. However, with Iran the number of instances is reversed: “Iranian government” is used in 419 articles whereas “Iranian regime” is mentioned in 456.

The same holds for other allies. The “Egyptian regime” receives 24 mentions while “Egyptian government” has 222, in the past three years. The “Bahraini regime” is mentioned in 10 articles while “Bahraini government” is mentioned in 60.

The precise term “Iranian-backed Houthi rebels”, referring to the war in Yemen, is mentioned in 198 articles in the last five years. However, the equivalent term for the UK backing the Saudis in Yemen (using search terms such as “UK-backed Saudis” or “British-backed Saudis”) appears in just three articles.

The pattern is also that the crimes of official enemies are covered extensively in the national press but those of the UK and its allies much less so, if at all.

Articles mentioning “war crimes and Syria” number 1,527 in the past five years compared to 495 covering “war crimes and Yemen”. While the press often reports that the Syrian government has carried out war crimes, most articles simply suggest or allege war crimes by the Saudis in Yemen.

Indeed, the UK press has been much more interested in covering the Syrian war—chiefly prosecuted by the UK’s opponents—than the Yemen war, where Britain has played a sustained widespread role. As a basic indicator, the specific term “war in Syria” is mentioned in well over double the number of articles as “war in Yemen” in the past five years.

Furthermore, government enemies are regularly described in the press as supporters of terrorism, which rarely applies to allies.

In the past three years 185 articles mention the term “sponsor of terrorism”, most referring to Iran, followed by Sudan and North Korea with the occasional mention of Libya and Pakistan. None specifically label UK allies Turkey or Saudi “sponsors of terrorism”, despite evidence of this in Syria and elsewhere, and none describe Britain or the US as such.

Some 102 articles in the past five years specifically mention Russia’s “occupation of Crimea”. However, despite some critical articles on UK policy towards the Chagos Islands in the Indian ocean—which were depopulated by the UK in the 1970s and which the US now uses as a military base—only two articles specifically mention the UK’s “occupation of Chagos” (or variants of this term).

Similar labelling prevails on opposition forces in foreign countries. Protesters in Hong Kong are routinely called “pro-democracy” by the press – the term has been mentioned in hundreds of articles in the past two years. However, protesters in UK allies Bahrain and Egypt have been referred to as “pro-democracy” in only a handful of cases, the research finds.

The special relationship

While demonising enemies, UK allies are regularly presented favourably in the press. This is especially true of the US, the UK’s key special relationship on which much of its global power rests. US foreign policy is routinely presented as promoting the same noble objectives as the UK and the press follows the US government line on many foreign policy issues.

The term “leader of the free world” to refer to the US has been used in over 1,500 articles in the past five years, invariably taken seriously across the media, without challenge or ridicule.

The view that the US promotes democracy is widely repeated across the press. A 2018 editorial in the Financial Times, written by its chief foreign affairs commentator Gideon Rachman, notes that, “Leading figures in both [US political] parties — from John Kennedy to Ronald Reagan through to the Bushes and Clintons — agreed that it was in US interests to promote free-trade and democracy around the world”. In 2017 Daniel McCarthy wrote in the Telegraph of “two decades of idealism in US foreign policy, of attempts to spread liberalism and democracy”.

It is equally common for the UK press to quote US figures on their supposed noble aims, without challenge. For example, the Sunday Times recently cited without comment the US state department saying “Promoting freedom, democracy and transparency and the protection of human rights are central to US foreign policy”.

The press often strongly criticises President Donald Trump, but often for betraying otherwise benign US values and policies that it assumes previous presidents have promoted. For example, Tom Leonard in the Daily Mail writes of “Mr Trump’s belief that US foreign policy should be guided by cold self-interest rather than protecting democracy and human rights”.

The Guardian is especially supportive of US foreign policy. A sub-heading to a recent article notes: “The US once led Western states’ support of democracy around the world, but under this president [Trump] that feels like a long time ago”. One of its main foreign affairs columnists, Simon Tisdall, recently wrote that the US fundamental “mission” was an “exemplary global vision of democracy, prosperity and freedom”, albeit one which has been distorted by the war on terror.

The Guardian regularly heaped praise on president Obama. An editorial in January 2017 commented that Obama was a “successful US leader” and that “internationally” his vision “could hardly be faulted for lack of ambition”. It also noted Obama’s “liberalism and ethics” and that: “Mr Obama has governed impeccably for eight years without any ethical scandal”.

Although the article noted US wars and civilian casualties in Yemen and Libya, the paper brushed these off, stating “But to ascribe the world’s tragedies to a single leader’s choices can be simplistic. The global superpower cannot control local dynamics”.

Research covered the period to the end of 2019 using the media search tool, Factiva. It analysed the “mainstream” UK-wide print media (dailies and Sundays) over different time scales, usually two or five years, as specified in the article. Media search engines cannot be guaranteed to work perfectly so additional research was sometimes undertaken.

Mark Curtis is the co-founder and editor of Declassified UK, an historian and author of five books on UK foreign policy. He tweets at: @markcurtis30.

March 11, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , | 1 Comment

Seeing Through the Lies – US Edition

By Craig Murray | February 18, 2020

The Guardian newspaper has taken the art of obfuscation, false implication and the subtler forms of journalistic lying to new heights in its very extensive coverage of the Roger Stone sentencing saga. It has now devoted fourteen articles in the last fortnight to this rather obscure episode of American political history. Yet in not one of those articles – nor in more than a dozen articles about the Stone case that preceded it over the last few months – has the Guardian informed its readers what Stone was actually convicted of doing.

Stone was convicted of giving false testimony and misleading the FBI, because he claimed to be a conduit between Wikileaks and Trump when he was not. There was no conduit between Wikileaks and Trump. Stone was also convicted of witness intimidation, because once his fantasies got him into trouble he tried to browbeat my friend Randy Credico into backing up his tale.

The Guardian has, in a feat of some skill, contrived to give its readers the impression that Stone has been convicted for Trump/Wikileaks links, when that is in fact the precise opposite of the truth.

Stone has been convicted for fabricating the existence of Trump/Wikileaks links, of which there were none.

The Guardian has hung its entire corporate personality on Clinton identity politics and its entire financial survival on building a new online customer base among the Clinton electorate in the USA. When even the New York Times had to admit the Mueller report utterly failed to substantiate Clinton’s inane claims that the Russians had caused Clinton’s election defeat, even when a judge dismissed the DNC’s lawsuit against said Russians as being supported by no viable evidence whatsoever, even when the entire world derided the Guardian’s massive front page lie about Paul Manafort visiting Assange in the Embassy, the Guardian has persisted in reporting as fact the preposterous conspiracy theory that its heroine was thwarted from attaining supreme power by the evil machinations of Vladimir Putin.

To maintain this stance in the face of all factual evidence requires great skill and dexterity from Guardian journalists. Fortunately for the Guardian it does not lack for fantasist Russophobe fabricators like Luke Harding or for more subtly corrupt spinners like David Smith, who last week wrote of Stone that “He was the sixth former Trump aide to be convicted in cases arising from the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.”

The oleaginous David Smith omitted to note what any half honest human being would consider a very pertinent fact – that not one of those convictions had anything at all to do with Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, being either entirely unrelated tax and corruption matters turned up while trawling, or as with Stone being questions of process. Stone’s case is unique in that not only did his conviction not relate to any Russian interference, it was for promoting precisely the same ludicrous fantasy that the Guardian is promoting. It was illegal for Stone to persist in telling his lies on oath; there is no legal bar to the Guardian promoting the same Trump/Wikileaks/Russia fantasy ad nauseam.

Yet we have the spectacle of Julian Assange standing before a judge facing extradition to the United States and up to 175 years in jail for “espionage”, when everything Wikileaks has ever published has a 100% record for truth and accuracy.

To finish with Stone, the ludicrous vindictiveness of the prosecutors in pushing for a seven to nine year jail sentence for an offence that was really no more than wasting investigators’ time with his fanatasies, was rightly called out by Donald Trump. The notion that Roger Stone threatened witnesses is problematical. Randy Credico, the only person Stone was convicted of threatening, has written to the judge asking for Stone not to be jailed and making plain he did not feel threatened. He had known Stone for years and was used to his blustering talk, which Randy never took as intended to be a serious threat.

To consider those DNC leaks published by Wikileaks in which Roger Stone claimed falsely to have a part. What the leaks did reveal was the foul play and machinations of the DNC machinery in cheating Bernie Sanders out of the nomination – including jiggling the ordering of primaries specifically to give Hillary “momentum”, and giving Hillary debate questions in advance. Nobody should be surprised to see the same tactics being deployed against Bernie Sanders – whom I should be clear I support strongly – yet again.

The “muddle” that led to CIA-linked Pete Buttigieg being able to claim victory in Iowa, for a crucial five days before the official tallies showed Bernie had in fact won was, I strongly suspect, merely a portent of what is to come. The fact the app that “misfired” was designed by four ex-Clinton staffers working for a company chaired by a Buttigieg team member is indicative of what we can expect over the next few months. The right have yet to decide on their champion to thwart Bernie. Buttigieg and Klobuchar are enjoying moments in the sun of media approval, and the DNC have now changed the rules to allow Bloomberg into future debates. That the Clintonites who have been deriding Sanders as not a Democrat, will actually switch to support Republican billionaire Bloomberg against Sanders, is something I expect to see play out over the next month as it becomes clear that neither Buttigieg nor Klobuchar can stop Bernie.

Here in the UK, I predict Bloomberg supporting Guardian editorials by April.

Still more sinister, the Zionist propaganda machine has started to ramp up its attacks on Bernie. In Iowa the AIPAC linked Democrats pressure group Democratic Majority for Israel sprayed money on TV ads attacking Bernie. It is a sign of the times that Bernie Sanders, bidding to become the first Jewish President of the United States, is attacked and undermined by extreme Zionists because of his entirely reasonable views on Israel/Palestine.

Despite all of which, opinion polls show Bernie with a clear lead heading towards the Nevada primary. I remain cautiously hopeful that the degree of cheating required to stop Bernie gaining the nomination would simply be too much to hide, and that the Wikileaks DNC revelations may ultimately, by showing up the dirty tricks last time, help Bernie to power this time. We should, however, never underestimate the resources of the financiers and the security state which will be deployed against Bernie in the next few months. It is going to be a fascinating year in US politics. Either the Democrats will pick a right wing standard bearer and lose to Trump, or Bernie will become President. I do not share the general fatalism on the left which deems the latter impossible.

February 18, 2020 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

Antarctica’s ‘Hottest Day’? Not So Fast

By Michael Pile | Quadrant | February 18, 2020

Have you ever wondered how to play the Climate Game, or game the climate? If so, look no further than a remote research station on the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, a submarine-shaped office tower on Geneva’s Avenue de la Paix and an international media pack determined to ramp a single yet-to-be-confirmed measurement into another bogus climate scare.

The research station is the Argentine base, Esperanza, coordinates: 63°23′51″S 56°59′52″W. It claimed to have set a new record temperature of 18.3°C on February 6 this year, beating the previous record of 17.5°C on March 24, 2015, according to a tweet (below) from Servicio Meteorológico Nacional (SMN), Argentina’s national meteorological service.

It was déjà vu all over again for the alarmist MSM.

BBC Scientists warn that global warming is causing so much melting at the South Pole, it will eventually disintegrate – causing the global sea level to rise by at least three metres (10ft) over centuries.

NY Times Antarctica, the coldest, windiest and driest continent on Earth, set a record high temperature on Thursday, underscoring global warming”. It went on to claim: “the high temperature is in keeping with the earth’s overall warming trend, which is in large part caused by emissions of greenhouse gases.

The Guardian Antarctica is “one of the fastest warming places on earth, heating by almost 3°C [5.4°F] over the past 50 years”

The Guardian makes that claim despite recent research suggesting a cooling trend since the year 2000, contradicting the carbon dioxide-driven global warming scare. (Media’s horribly dishonest Antarctica warming propaganda, WUWT, February 9, 2020) Five years earlier, on April 1, 2015, it reported on the previous record under the headline: “Antarctica records unprecedented high temperatures – two temperature readings register ominous new potential measurements of accelerating climate change.” “What was incontestable,” the paper’s journalist concluded, “were the unprecedentedly high temperature readings on the Antarctic ice mass.”

Jack Weatherall: Warmists are feeling a polar chill

Yet mean monthly temperatures at Esperanza range from −10.5 °C (13.1 °F) in July, the coldest month, to 1.4 °C (34.5 °F) in January, the warmest month. During summer (December–February), the average high is between 3.7 and 4.3 °C (38.7 and 39.7 °F) while the average low is between −2.0 and −1.2 °C (28.4 and 29.8 °F). In winter, mean temperatures are around −6.0 °C (21.2 °F). So what is going on here?

ClimateChangeDispatch.com’s Thomas Richard ridiculed the Pavlovian alarmism:

To put this in perspective, it would be the equivalent of taking a temperature measurement in Reykjavík, Iceland, and proclaiming that this measurement is indicative of the temperature of the Arctic region, or worse, Tasiilaq (Ammassalik), Greenland. It’s a ridiculous statement and utterly useless. It is well known that West Antarctica is heavily influenced by underground volcanic activity, and hidden beneath its icy exterior is a myriad of active rift systems.

The glass, steel and aluminium tower adjacent Geneva’s Jardin Botaniques is the global headquarters of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) According to a local travel agency, Geneva Live Tourism, the building is “respectful of the environment,” and its “grandiose allure with the double façade seeming to dominate the surrounding space”. WMO is the beating heart of Big Climate. It is the UN’s “expert agency and voice regarding the state and behaviour of the Earth’s atmosphere, its interaction with the oceans, its climate and the resulting distribution of water resources.” WMO issued a media release on the Esperanza result on February 7. It was a qualified announcement – New record for Antarctic continent reported – for the “likely legitimate record” was subject to formal verification.

A committee for WMO’s World Weather and Climate Extremes Archive (WWCEA) will now verify whether this indeed is a new record for the Antarctic continent, which is defined as the main continental landmass.

Dr Randall Cerveny, a professor of geographical sciences at Arizona State University, has been the WWCEA rapporteur – or gatekeeper – since its formation 14 years ago. “Everything we have seen thus far indicates a likely legitimate record but we will of course begin a formal evaluation of the record once we have full data from SMN and on the meteorological conditions surrounding the event.” Crucially, he also made this comment:

the record appears to be likely associated (in the short term) with what we call a regional “foehn” event over the area:  a rapid warming of air coming down a slope/mountain.

What is a foehn event? According to WUWT blogger Jim Steele,

… foehn events cause rapid extreme temperature jumps simply due to changes in the air pressure as winds descend from a mountain top. During the 2015 foehn event, Esperanza’s daily temperature jumped from 0°C [32°F] 2 days before, to a record setting 17.5°C [63.5°F]. Elsewhere, Antarctic foehn winds are common and have been extensively studied, often raising maximum temperatures by 10+°C [18+°F] above normal.

In other words, it was just local weather, not a consequence of so-called dangerous anthropogenic global warming, aka “climate change”.  “Verification was important”, Cerveny said. “It helps to build up a picture of the weather and climate in one of Earth’s final frontiers.”

The WMO media release noted that: “the Antarctic, like the Arctic, is poorly covered in terms of weather observations and forecasts, even though both play an important role in driving climate and ocean patterns and in sea level rise.”

Despite a lack of data, WMO could not resist the opportunity to trumpet a warming warning. Included in the release were ominous comments on the Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers. The latter, allegedly, is “one of the largest contributors to global sea level rise from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet”. There was no mention of its precise “contribution”. That, dear reader, is another story, one about why the BBC failed to mention the many active volcanoes underneath this region, yet found space to jest about “snotsicles”.  Spending £38 million of US/UK government funding to “prove” we are in a “climate emergency” has never been such fun.

Scientists fear the Thwaites Glacier could be beginning a process of catastrophic collapse. There is more than three metres of potential sea level rise in the ice of West Antarctica, enough to swamp many of the great cities of the world and drive hundreds of millions of people from their homes.

In any case, speculating about the threat of global sea-level rise, despite the region’s prevailing temperature profiles, is surely a fool’s game.

The Antarctic Peninsula (the northwest tip near to South America) is among the fastest warming regions of the planet, almost 3°C over the last 50 years.  The amount of ice lost annually from the Antarctic ice sheet increased at least six-fold between 1979 and 2017. Most of the ice loss takes place by melting of the ice shelves from below, due to incursions of relatively warm ocean water, especially in west Antarctica and to a lesser extent along the peninsula and in east Antarctica.

We will need more than the IPCC’s brave 2C warming guesstimate to melt the massive southern polar ice block.

Spanning 14 million km2 (roughly twice the size of Australia), the Antarctic’s average annual temperature ranges from about −10°C on the Antarctic coast to −60°C at the highest parts of the interior. Its immense ice sheet is up to 4.8km thick and contains 90% of the world’s fresh water, enough to raise sea level by around 60 metres were it all to melt. 

There is another important issue here too: geographical semantics. The WMO release conflates the Antarctic Peninsula with the continental Antarctic ice sheet. Little surprise, then, most of the MSM missed the fact that the Antarctic Peninsula is not the Antarctic continent or “region”. The former refers to the narrow northwest tip nearest to South America. As for the latter, the WMO – controversially – defines it as “everywhere south of 60 degrees latitude”. (See Antarctica map)

The Esperanza base is actually outside the Antarctic Circle, which runs 66°33′48.0″ south of the Equator. It is misleading – some might say mischievous – to imply that “record” temperature measurements on the Antarctic Peninsula – less than 5 per cent of the continent and especially those taken on islands at its northern extremity, are meaningful for Antarctica itself, as the WMO does here by including this sentence in its February 7 media release: “The record for the Antarctic region – that is, everywhere south of 60 degrees latitude – is 19.8C, taken on Signy Island in January 1982.”

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) Signy Research Station at Factory Cove, Borge Bay, Signy Island, is also outside the Antarctic Circle. Located at Lat. 60°43’0″S, Long. 45°36’0″W in the South Orkney Islands group, it is 1300 km from the Falkland Islands, 900 km from South Georgia, 600 km from the Antarctic Peninsula, and 3250 km  from the South Pole. According to the BAS website, meteorological records at this summer-only site “were kept by professional meteorologists from 1947 to 1969 and by station volunteers from 1969 to 1995.” How much confidence can we have, then, in the 19.8C reading of January 30, 1982 — a record maximum for any station south of 60°S — especially when the month is prone to significant variation, including “sudden falls in temperature”, down to -7°C?

Whatever the case, a recent detailed analysis of meteorological conditions prevailing at the time – prompted by Dr Cerveny and the WMO Committee on Antarctic Temperature Extremes — confirms that it, too, was due to foehn (or fohn) warming:

At the time of the record temperature exceptionally warm air was being advected southwards towards the South Orkney Islands from the subtropical South Atlantic…. Since conditions conducive to föhn occur relatively frequently, föhn warming may have a significant influence on the local climate and ecology of Signy Island.

As mentioned, WMO’s WWCEA committee rightly is not prepared to declare a new record for Esperanza without further investigation, at this stage referring only to a potential new Antarctic (continent) high temperature:

The Argentine research base, Esperanza, on the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, set a new record temperature of 18.3°C on 6 February 2020, potentially beating the former record of 17.5°C on 24 March 2015.

WWCEAC would “now verify whether this indeed is a new record for the Antarctic continent, which is defined as the main continental landmass.” It has not done so yet, so we await the rapporteur’s “decision and relevant documentation” to be posted on this site (here).

Dr. Cerveny, incidentally, proposed creating WMO’s global archive for verifying, certifying and storing world weather extremes in 2006. As Rapporteur he has called an “ad hoc extremes committee” to “provide an expert and unbiased recommendation” on whether the new extreme qualifies for the archive. This process is easier said than done, for if “the truth be told, world record extremes are mistakenly created all the time.”

For example a “fat finger” error such as hand digitizing a 28.0°C as 82.0 would create a world record observation that every quality control system would say was invalid. Additionally, instrumentation problems can generate a report far in excess of the meteorological conditions. But sometimes a combination of fairly extreme meteorological conditions with minor instrumentation problems, such as calibration errors, can necessitate considerable detective work to determine whether a new world record observation was indeed valid or not. Since weather records are often used as indicators that the Earth’s climate is changing and/or becoming more extreme, confirmation of new weather extreme records should be recognized as a high priority in the meteorology community.

An alert blogger, Nicholas McGinley, made the following post at WUWT :

I am having a hard time verifying this report from Esperanza station.
The thermometer data from the last five days did not show anything close to what is being reported, when I looked earlier this evening. But now I checked again, and the numbers have changed completely. Here is a Tweet I posted with the two graphs side by side:

It has become nearly impossible to trust anything these days.
Besides for all of that … when a short term blip is announced as if it is a representation of the entire state of the planet, while in Alaska a two month trend of temps is showing the coldest period ever recorded in that entire state, something is not at all right.

Dr Cerveny and WMO’s WWCEA committee presumably will sort it all out soon. After all, it did so when a Czech Republic automatic weather station on Davies Dome in the northern part of Ulu Peninsula, James Ross Island, recorded a temperature of 17.9°C (64.2°F) on 23 March 2015, “a day before the current WMO accepted record of 17.5°C (63.5°F) was observed at Esperanza Base (Argentina) in the same general location in the Antarctic Region”.

The committee adjusted the Davies Dome observation down to 17.0°C ± 0.2°C (62.6°F ± 0.4°F) and declared it to be “the second-highest temperature recorded in the Antarctic Region (continent only).”

The recommendation follows a detailed discussion by the committee of the probability that the station experienced solar radiation bias on the temperature-recording instrument at the time of the record observation. In simple terms, the committee suggested that the temperature sensor at Davies Dome was heated to around 0.9°C (1.6°F) above the true air temperature by a combination of high solar radiation (coming both directly from the sun and also reflected from the underlying ice surface) and low wind speed.

Establishing a “true air temperature” in Antarctica, however the continent is defined, clearly can be a challenge. If one automatic weather station reading can be reduced (“adjusted downwards”) after a “detailed discussion” due to the probability of “solar radiation bias”, then what is the reliability of other station readings?

One item that ought to be on the committee’s agenda is a ten-minute video uploaded on February 9, 2020:  Climate Alarmists fleeing to Antarctica. As author Tony Heller demonstrates, with winter and the (temporary) collapse of Arctic melting hysteria, climate alarmists have flown south to the other pole. Let’s hope none of them ended up at Esperanza Base and the Thwaites Glacier.

February 18, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , | Leave a comment

Media’s Horribly Dishonest Antarctica Propaganda

By Jim Steele | Watts Up With That? | February 9, 2020

Attempting to reinforce the climate crisis narrative, a recent high temperature record in Antarctica has been misleadingly ballyhooed as an example of global warming by the world’s largest media outlets – New York Times, BBC, the Guardian, etc. Although the NY Times tries to sell their paper with the slogan “The Truth is Worth It”, their misleading articles suggest you should spend your money elsewhere. These media giants seem more intent on scaring the public and manufacturing a false climate crisis, than educating the public about the real physics that cause weather changes causing Antarctica’s temperature record!

The NY Times wrote, “Antarctica, the coldest, windiest and driest continent on Earth, set a record high temperature on Thursday, underscoring global warming” But the fact that Antarctica is the coldest place on earth, has nothing to do with a temperature record at a single weather station, Esperanza. Esperanza is located at the warmest, most northerly part of the mountainous Antarctica peninsula. Esperanza is most sensitive to El Nino warming. It most sensitive to the southward flow of warm moist subtropical winds. And Esperanza’s topography always amplifies temperatures when winds from the northwest cause foehn wind events. What happened at Esperanza has nothing to do with Antarctica’s overall climate trends, never mind any global warming trend.

The Guardian wrote, Antarctica “is one of the fastest warming places on earth, heating by almost 3°C [5.4°F] over the past 50 years”. However, the Guardian hides the fact they are using zombie data. Recent research shows a cooling trend since the year 2000 and that contradicts any CO2 driven global warming theory.

In the 2016 peer-reviewed paper “Absence of 21st century Warming on Antarctic Peninsula consistent with Natural Variability”, Antarctic climate experts documented that from 1979–1997, Antarctic had indeed experienced the globe’s fastest warming temperatures, increasing by 3.2 °C [5.8 °F] per century. In contrast, from 1999–2014, temperatures then decreased at a rate 4.7 °C [8.5 °F} per century. This strong cooling trend is rarely reported or referred to by media alarmists. Dishonestly, the Guardian ignores the recent cooling trends to suggest a recent one day Esperanza temperature record is “a sign that warming in Antarctica is happening much faster than global average” and “is the foreshadowing of what is to come.” Likewise the NY Times dishonestly claims, “The high temperature is in keeping with the earth’s overall warming trend, which is in large part caused by emissions of greenhouse gases.

The Guardian’s author Graham Readfearn engages in his typical alarmist distortions to write, “Previous research from 2012 found the current rate of warming in the region was almost unprecedented over the past 2000 years.” Really? Almost unprecedented? The paper he refers to actually stated, “Although warming of the northeastern Antarctic Peninsula began around 600 years ago, the high rate of warming over the past century is unusual (but not unprecedented) in the context of natural climate variability over the past two millennia.

The BBC gets the prize for going completely off the rails stating, “Scientists warn that global warming is causing so much melting at the South Pole, it will eventually disintegrate – causing the global sea level to rise by at least three metres (10ft) over centuries.” But there has been no warming trend at the south pole nor in east Antarctica as exemplified by the Dumont D’Urville weather station.

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For those readers who only trust peer reviewed papers, I suggest reading, “Foehn Event Triggered by an Atmospheric River Underlies Record-Setting Temperature Along Continental Antarctica” which thoroughly investigated the causes of the previous 2015 record-setting temperature at Esperanza.

What is a foehn event? Foehn events cause rapid extreme temperature jumps simply due to changes in the air pressure as winds descend from a mountain top. During the 2015 foehn event, Esperanza’s daily temperature jumped from 0°C [32°F] 2 days before, to a record setting 17.5°C [63.5°F]. Elsewhere, Antarctic foehn winds are common and have been extensively studied, often raising maximum temperatures by 10+°C [18+°F] above normal.

As seen in figure “c” below, weather systems in 2015 had driven a warm and humid subtropical air flow from the northwest onto the northern Antarctic Peninsula. That warm air flow raised the western peninsula’s temperatures above normal. Then those winds rose up and over the peninsula’s mountain range amplifying temperatures even further on the east side of the peninsula. As the air rose, its water vapor condensed, both releasing precipitation and releasing latent heat that had further warmed the air. As that warmer and drier air passed over the mountain crest and descended onto Esperanza, temperatures warmed further as air pressure increased temperatures at a rate of over 5°F for every 1000-foot drop in altitude. A typical foehn event.

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As happens in all the earth’s mountainous regions, foehn winds warm the air due to simple physics and well-established gas laws. Warming does not require any added heat from the sun or CO2. During Esperanza’s 2015 record warmth, temperatures had hovered around 0.5°C [0.9 °F] the day before. But as winds from the northwest increased air flow over the peninsula’s mountains, those foehn winds increased Esperanza’s temperatures by 17.5 °C [63.5 °F]. Those same dynamics were in play during the February 2020 record temperature.

In contrast to several paragraphs trying to implicate global warming, the Guardian did offer one sentence hinting at a foehn wind warming, quoting Dr. Renwick: “higher temperatures in the region tended to coincide with strong northwesterly winds moving down mountain slopes – a feature of the weather patterns around Esperanza in recent days.”

Also a quote from Dr Steve Rintoul, an Antarctic expert at CSIRO, admitted: “This is a record from only a single station, but it is in the context of what’s happening elsewhere and is more evidence that as the planet warms we get more warm records and fewer cold records.”

But Rintoul is not sharing all the facts. The current context for the Antarctica Peninsula is that for over a decade it has experienced cooling temperatures driven by natural variability. In fact, glaciers in Esperanza’s region have also expanded. Esperanza’s record temperature simply happened due to foehn winds despite a cooling trend. Unfortunately, the media would rather scare the public to promote a climate crisis, than honestly educate them about the causes of natural climate variability.


Jim Steele is Director emeritus of San Francisco State’s Sierra Nevada Field Campus and authored Landscapes and Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism

Contact: naturalclimatechange@earthlink.net

February 9, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , | 3 Comments