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NY Times Latest to Mislead Public on New Ivermectin Study

The NEJM study chose a much lower dose, 400mcg per day for only three days, less than half the total dose that has been shown to be effective

By Madhava Setty, M.D. | The Defender | March 31, 2022

The New York Times on Wednesday sent an email blast to subscribers with the subject line: “Breaking News: Ivermectin failed as a Covid treatment, a large clinical trial found.”

The Times was referring to a study I wrote about, that same day, for The Defender.

My article called out the Wall Street Journal for its March 18 reporting on the same study — before the study was even published — for its failure to provide an accurate, critical assessment of the study.

The study in question — “Effect of Early Treatment with Ivermectin among Patients with Covid-19” — was officially published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

In it the authors concluded:

“Treatment with ivermectin did not result in a lower incidence of medical admission to a hospital due to progression of Covid-19 or of prolonged emergency department observation among outpatients with an early diagnosis of Covid-19”

The Times did not critique the study itself, but quoted the opinion of Dr. David Boulware, an infectious-disease expert at the University of Minnesota:

“There’s really no sign of any benefit. Now that people can dive into the details and the data, hopefully that will steer the majority of doctors away from ivermectin towards other therapies.”

Yes. Let us dive into the details and the data and see where it “steers” us, shall we?

A closer look at the details

The NEJM study took place in Brazil between March 23 and Aug. 6, 2021.

The study examined 1,358 people who expressed symptoms of COVID-19 at an outpatient care facility (within seven days of symptom onset), had a positive rapid test for the disease and had at least one of these risk factors for severe disease:

  • Age over 50
  • Hypertension requiring medical therapy
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Lung disease
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Organ transplantation
  • Chronic kidney disease (stage IV) or receipt of dialysis
  •  Immunosuppressive therapy (receipt of ≥10 mg of prednisone or equivalent daily)
  • Diagnosis of cancer within the previous 6 months
  • Receipt of chemotherapy for cancer.

Young and healthy individuals were not part of this study.

Both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals were included in the study. The percentage of vaccinated participants in each group was not specified. Note that by choosing not to identify vaccination status as a confounding variable the authors are implying that vaccines are playing no role in preventing hospitalization.

The 1,358 subjects were divided into two equally sized groups that were relatively well-matched and randomized to receive either a three-day dose of placebo or a three-day course of ivermectin at 400 mcg/kg.

The primary outcome was hospitalization due to COVID-19 within 28 days after randomization or an emergency department visit due to clinical worsening of COVID-19 (defined as the participant remaining under observation for >6 hours) within 28 days after randomization.

How researchers were able to conclude ‘no benefit’ despite signs to the contrary

The study’s authors wrote:

“100 patients (14.7%) in the ivermectin group had a primary-outcome event (composite of hospitalization due to the progression of COVID-19 or an emergency department visit of >6 hours that was due to clinical worsening of COVID-19), as compared with 111 (16.3%) in the placebo group (relative risk, 0.90; 95% Bayesian credible interval, 0.70 to 1.16).”

In other words, a greater percentage of placebo recipients required hospitalization or observation in an emergency department than those who received Ivermectin.

The authors of the study broke it down by subgroups here:

As is demonstrated in nearly every subgroup, the Ivermectin recipients fared better than those who received the placebo.

However, these data were not statistically significant given the size of the study.

This is how the authors were able to conclude there was no benefit to ivermectin use in preventing hospitalization in high-risk patients in their study.

Patients were under-dosed, some didn’t follow instructions

As it stands, the study The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal declared as proof of the uselessness of ivermectin in treating COVID-19 is actually quite promising —  contrary to what their headlines told readers.

The dosing protocol advised by the Frontline COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC) includes a five-day course of ivermectin at 600 micrograms per kilogram of body weight for people with risk factors such as those possessed by participants in the study.

Instead, the investigators behind the NEJM study chose a much lower dose, 400mcg per day for only three days. This represents less than half of the total dose that has been shown to be effective in practice.

Furthermore, despite acknowledging that studies have shown some indication that the bioavailability of ivermectin increases when taken with food, especially a fatty meal, participants in the trial were instructed to take the medicine on an empty stomach.

In other words, the patients were significantly under-dosed — and yet a positive effect of the drug was emerging, though not statistically significant given the size of the study.

Also of note, the investigators chose to include emergency room visits with hospitalizations for COVID. Clearly, six hours of observation in an ER is a significantly different outcome than a hospitalization that may last a night or much longer.

When excluding the ER visits from the primary outcome and examining only hospitalizations, the ivermectin cohort had even less risk of an outcome, i.e. the relative risk was 0.84 vs 0.9 when ER visits and hospitalization were grouped together.

Perhaps the most glaring deficiency of the study is the low number of placebo recipients who actually followed the study’s protocol:

Only 288 of 679 participants randomized to receiving the placebo reported 100% adherence to the study protocol. Nearly 400 didn’t.

Why not? We asked Dr. Meryl Nass, an internist and member of the Children’s Health Defense scientific advisory committee.

Nass told The Defender :

“Presumably they knew the difference between ivermectin and placebo, and the placebo subjects went out and bought ivermectin or something else … but whatever they did, they didn’t bother with the pills they were given.

“So, it was not actually a double-blinded trial. Yet the 391 people who didn’t take the placebo but did something else were included in two of the three calculations of ivermectin efficacy anyway.”

So, was this the definitive answer proclaimed by mainstream sources? Nass thinks otherwise:

“I would say that instead, it was a failed trial due to the 391 placebo recipients who admitted they did not follow protocol versus the 55 in the ivermectin arm.”

More questions than answers

Rather than pounding the final nail in the coffin around ivermectin’s utility in treating COVID, the NEJM study raises more questions.

  • What would the effect have been if a higher dose shown to be effective were administered?
  • What would be the benefit of this medicine in patients with no risk factors?
  • How statistically significant would the results have been if more participants were enrolled?
  • Why weren’t more participants enrolled as the study progressed given the emerging benefit of the drug and the absence of adverse events?
  • Why did the investigators define a primary outcome with such different real-world implications (ER visits vs hospitalizations)?
  • With less than 50% of the placebo arm adhering to the study protocol, why were their outcomes included in the analysis?
  • What effect did vaccination status have on outcome? If this is the primary means endorsed to prevent hospitalization, why wasn’t vaccination status mentioned as a confounder?
  • Did the investigators choose to limit the study as it became clear that an Ivermectin benefit would be too big to ignore?

Given these obvious issues with the study, it is becoming even more clear where the real story is: Neither The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times are willing to pursue startling details around how corporate interests are corrupting scientific opinion as reported here.

Instead, these iconic journals chose to report on a scientific study on or prior to the day of publication using misleading headlines backed up by flimsy investigations conducted by journalists with no capacity to dissect the analysis or data.

Here’s a bigger question: Are they incompetent, or complicit, too?

© 2022 Children’s Health Defense, Inc. This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of Children’s Health Defense, Inc. Want to learn more from Children’s Health Defense? Sign up for free news and updates from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and the Children’s Health Defense. Your donation will help to support us in our efforts.

April 1, 2022 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , | Leave a comment

WSJ Misleads Public on Ivermectin, Ignores Latest Revelations About ‘Hidden Author’ Who Undermined Its Efficacy

By Madhava Setty, M.D. | The Defender | March 30, 2022

New revelations surfaced this month around the suppression of ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19.

The Frontline Covid-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC) Community on March 8 lauded  Phil Harper, a documentary director and producer, for his efforts to identify the unnamed individual responsible for influencing leading expert opinion on the safety and efficacy of ivermectin in treating COVID early in 2021.

The actions of this hidden hand resulted in the systematic and tragic dismissal of a powerful remedy that could have saved millions of lives across the world.

Before we dig deeper into Harper’s discovery, let’s look at the latest attempt by a mainstream media outlet to discredit ivermectin’s utility in treating COVID.

The Wall Street Journal misleads the public

The Wall Street Journal on March 18 published an article with this headline: “Ivermectin Didn’t Reduce Covid-19 Hospitalizations in Largest Trial to Date.”

Headline readers will easily reach the seemingly obvious conclusion: Drs. Anthony Fauci and Rochelle Walensky, along with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, were right all along.

However, for those who read beyond the headline and first few paragraphs, the story begins to morph.

The headline clearly states the trial in question was the largest to date. However, this is not the case — as the article’s author, Sarah Toy, explains early in the piece:

“The latest trial, of nearly 1,400 Covid-19 patients at risk of severe disease, is the largest to show that those who received ivermectin as a treatment didn’t fare better than those who received a placebo.”

This wasn’t the largest trial to date — it was only the largest trial to date among the subset of trials that have shown no benefit of ivermectin.

Was this an oversight? Or was it a deliberate attempt to confuse the 42 million readers of The Wall Street Journal’s digital content?

Putting aside the possible intention to mislead, it is impossible for a study to definitively prove that no effect exists. This is what is referred to in science as the null hypothesis, meaning an intervention has no effect.

It is entirely possible that a study may demonstrate no measurable effect. It is quite a different thing to prove that that same intervention will not have an effect under any circumstances.

To put it flatly, one cannot prove that something doesn’t exist.

Toy chose not to mention the 81 separate studies — involving a combined 128,000 participants — that demonstrated an average efficacy of 65% for several different outcomes.

She also did not mention the 22 studies — involving nearly 40,000 people — around the outcome in question, hospitalization. Those studies showed an average efficacy of 39%.

The Wall Street Journal did not cite the study that was the focus of its article, because the study hasn’t yet been published. Yet Toy assured readers the study has been “accepted for publication in a major peer-reviewed medical journal.”

With no paper to cite, the journal instead quoted Edward Mills, one of the study’s lead researchers and a professor of health sciences at Canada’s McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario:

“There was no indication that ivermectin is clinically useful.”

Of note, all participants in this prospective study were drawn from one of 12 clinics in the Minas Gerais region of Brazil. All were at risk for severe disease due to underlying comorbidities.

The dosing regimen was unspecified and COVID diagnosis was made through rapid testing only.

The real story behind ivermectin and COVID-19

The Wall Street Journal article is yet another widely read piece that cherry-picks studies that purportedly show no benefit while categorically ignoring the mounting evidence to the contrary.

The systematic suppression of ivermectin’s efficacy against COVID has been well documented by The Defender here, and in Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s New York Times bestselling book, “The Real Anthony Fauci.”

However, as mentioned at the outset of this article, FLCCC this month shed more light on the mystery behind Dr. Andrew Hill’s stunning decision early in 2021 to recommend that more research would be required to support the use of ivermectin to treat COVID patients — despite the enormous amount of data suggesting otherwise.

It was Hill’s so-called systematic review that effectively scuttled the World Health Organization’s (WHO) acceptance of ivermectin as a potent COVID remedy.

Other governing medical bodies, including the NIH, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency immediately fell in line behind the WHO’s stance.

Hill had been a strong advocate for ivermectin in the closing months of 2020. In October 2020, he was tasked by the WHO to present the findings on ivermectin.

Hill, Dr. Tess Lawrie, director of The Evidence-Based Medicine Consultancy, Ltd. and other researchers were collaborating to publish their findings in early 2021. Those findings would definitively conclude that ivermectin could and should be used to treat COVID at all stages of the disease.

On Jan. 18, 2021, days before the planned publication of this joint effort, Hill chose to independently release his findings on preprint servers. He concluded the opposite of what he and others had found through their research:

“Ivermectin should be validated in larger appropriately controlled randomized trials before the results are sufficient for review by regulatory authorities.”

His shocking reversal of opinion drew immediate consternation from members of FLCCC and Lawrie. Soon after Hill released his paper, he spoke with Lawrie in a recorded zoom meeting that raised more questions.

Oracle Films released an informative and succinct video that contextualizes the pivotal conversation between Hill and Lawrie.

When Lawrie confronted a squirming Hill, Hill eventually admitted the conclusions in his analysis had been influenced by Unitaid, a quasi-governmental advocacy organization funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and several countries — France, the UK, Norway, Brazil, Spain, the Republic of Korea and Chile — to lobby governments to finance the purchase of medicines from pharmaceutical multinationals for distribution to the African poor.

As Kennedy, chairman and chief legal counsel for Children’s Health Defense, writes in his book:

“Unitaid gave $40 million to Andrew Hill’s employer, the University of Liverpool, four days before the publication of Hill’s study. Hill, a Ph.D., confessed that the sponsors were pressuring him to influence his conclusion.

“When Dr. Lawrie asked who was trying to influence him, Hill said, ‘I mean, I, I think I’m in a very sensitive position here …’”

Who was the Unitaid member who impelled Hill to change his tune?

Thanks to the sleuthing by Phil Harper, producer, director and author of a Substack newsletter under the moniker “The Digger,” we may have an answer.

The hidden hand that muzzled ivermectin

Harper explained his remarkable discovery, writing:

“Sometimes information can be sitting right underneath your nose. Many suspected that ‘persons unknown’ had altered the paper, but we didn’t know who. Who are these people who nudge science into profitable shapes?!”

In another Substack article, Harper explained how he was able to identify crucial changes made in the days prior to the study’s distribution by comparing it to a previous version that was emailed to Lawrie. This original version was not made public.

The changes were subtle but clearly designed to weaken the conclusions of the analysis. Even more suspicious was the deletion of Unitaid’s financial contribution in the form of an “unrestricted research grant” from the funding declaration portion of the paper.

By examining the metadata attached to the PDF document Hill submitted to several preprint servers, Harper discovered that the author (as indicated in the metadata) of the paper was Andrew Owen, a professor of pharmacology & therapeutics and co-director of the Centre of Excellence in Long-acting Therapeutics (CELT) at the University of Liverpool.

Harper continues:

“His authorship is tied programmatically to the document, meaning a device or software programme registered to the name Andrew Owen saved off the document as a PDF.  When exporting a PDF, Microsoft Word automatically adds title and author information.

“Unless someone used his computer, Andrew Owen has his digital fingerprint on the Andrew Hill paper. A paper we have very strong reason to believe was altered by ‘people’ at Unitaid.”

Owen is also a scientific advisor to the WHO’s COVID-19 Guideline Development Group. Just days before Hill’s original paper was to be published, a $40 million grant from Unitaid, the paper’s sponsor, was given to CELT. Owen is the project lead for that grant.

According to Harper:

“The $40 million contract was actually a commercial agreement between Unitaid, the University of Liverpool and Tandem Nano Ltd (a start-up company that commercializes ‘Solid Lipid Nanoparticle’ delivery mechanisms) — for which Andrew Owen is a top shareholder.”

Owen is not listed as an author of the analysis, yet his digital fingerprint is on its last-minute revisions.

Instead, Hill listed all the authors of the studies that his systematic review was critiquing as co-authors of the review itself. This is a striking departure from standards of a systematic review, as it undermines the purpose and objectivity of such an analysis.

Conclusion

It is difficult to summarize this situation without diluting the impact of what has been presented here.

Mainstream media sources such as The Wall Street Journal continue to publish unbalanced and poorly researched articles while enormous stories are unfolding behind the wall of corporate-funded propaganda.

Hill’s own opinion, when untrammeled by hidden influence, suggested 75% of COVID deaths could have been prevented by using ivermectin as treatment.

The “hidden hands” of profit-driven operatives are taking an enormous toll on humanity through their manipulation of public and scientific opinion.

In the end, the public must decide when enough is finally enough.

© 2022 Children’s Health Defense, Inc. This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of Children’s Health Defense, Inc. Want to learn more from Children’s Health Defense? Sign up for free news and updates from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and the Children’s Health Defense. Your donation will help to support us in our efforts.

March 31, 2022 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

WSJ ‘investigation’ of aggregator that dared include RT scares other members into ditching the network

By Helen Buyniski | RT | October 8, 2020

After social media censorship failed to zero out RT’s web traffic, an establishment US media outlet has revealed it reached out to sites in the same link-exchange network as RT, spooking them into backing out.

The Wall Street Journal has launched an investigation into a link aggregator that includes RT.com, publishing the names of participants and the network itself in an effort to shame them into kicking the site off, in a hit piece on Wednesday. If this thinly-veiled intimidation is the behavior of a democratic country’s media, one shudders to imagine what an authoritarian nation might have done.

RealClearPolitics – a mostly-nonpartisan site that reports poll results and political news – is held up as an example, guilty of wrongthink through its association with Mixi.Media, a web-ring that links to headlines from news sites of various political persuasions (including RT) at the bottom of partners’ webpages. Mixi doesn’t show the source of the headlines right away, no matter where they come from, which –in the eyes of the Journal– proves it’s up to something nefarious.

The pearl-clutching pseudo-exposé made it clear that even unwitting association with RT is beyond the pale in this paranoid day and age. “If [readers] see RT, they are going to freak out,” Mixi founder Alex Baron is quoted as saying. Asked whether he agrees with RT’s “politics,” he answers in the negative, of course. However, the implication is made that he’s a Kremlin agent at heart through his past association with a Russian private equity firm – never mind that he’s suing that firm after being fired in 2018. Merely working for a company owned by a Russian executive initiates an irrevocable cootie-transfer.

The Journal doesn’t illustrate exactly how they approached the web-ring participants for the piece, but at least five sites were sufficiently intimidated –including The Blaze, Newser, and AccuWeather– that they fled Mixi’s network after being asked about the Russian intruder in their midst. Presumably the dialogue went something like “Gee, that’s a nice news outlet you’ve got there, sure would be a shame if it got shut down for Russian collusion.”

If that sounds like an exaggeration, one need only refer to the New York Times’ warning that merely reporting a story RT has covered is actually “sowing discord” and “creating division.” As far back as 2016, the Washington Post was accusing US-based, US-run alt-media websites of being Russian “useful idiots” merely for disdaining to go along with Washington’s neoliberal warmongering agenda, laundering its smears through the anonymous Ukrainian front “PropOrNot.”

The WSJ’s “don’t click that link – there might be Russians in it” scare story is just the latest in a long string of efforts to pressure friendly networks into giving RT the cold shoulder. The same outlet bemoaned RT’s seeming invincibility to TV censorship back in January 2017 as part of a multi-pronged media blitz ginned up by the US intelligence community’s attempt to implicate RT in “meddling” in the 2016 election – an allegation that has never been remotely substantiated yet has become part of the narrative wallpaper for the American establishment, assumed to be true even in the absence of evidence.

The dubious allegations of hacking the Democratic National Committee were followed by a lengthy screed against programs RT no longer even aired – but that was enough for the New York Times and other “papers of record” to pile on a competitor they didn’t know they had, treating the uninspired smear like a smoking gun. Breaking precedent set by other state-owned foreign media, the Justice Department forced RT to register as a “foreign agent.” The designation was subsequently held up, bizarrely, as “proof” it was foreign propaganda, as officials insisted it was voluntary, even though the network was threatened with criminal charges if it refused.

And the UK Sunday Times pulled a similar stunt to the WSJ’s back in 2017, phoning up RT’s British advertisers – many of whom were spooked by the probing questions into pulling their ads – and misrepresenting their vanishing act as motivated by the channel’s “propaganda and fake news.”

Efforts to sideline RT have only increased since then, with first YouTube and more recently Facebook and Twitter labeling it as state-run foreign media and burying its content. WSJ’s report glossed over the obvious follow-on effect from such a move, crowing gleefully that social media traffic to the site dropped 22 percent from 2018 to July and web traffic in general dropped 14 percent.

But until it drops to zero, the US’ propaganda mill will never be satisfied. Having coasted for decades with a virtual monopoly on viewers’ eyeballs, its quality declined accordingly, and the rise of the internet saw Americans hungrily lapping up any alternative source of information. When they’re presented with the sight of rioters burning businesses, bibles, or people and told these are peaceful democratic protesters who must be supported, they recoil not because they are propagandized by RT or some other outlet, but because they’re aware they’re being lied to.

With the 2020 election looming on the horizon, social media platforms and news outlets alike are renewing their fatwa against all things Russian. That reliable “enemy” ensures they will never have to answer for the many holes in their own one-sided coverage, the flagrant falsehoods regularly passed off as gospel, and the unrelenting fear porn that keeps too many Americans glued to their TV set. Heaven forbid they change the channel – they might trip over the truth.

Helen Buyniski is an American journalist and political commentator at RT. Follow her on Twitter @velocirapture23

October 8, 2020 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

Washington’s tall tale of Iranian-Al Qaeda alliance based on questionably sourced book ‘The Exile’

A disinformation campaign aimed to justify the assassination of Qassem Soleimani by painting him and Iran as willing enablers of al-Qaeda. The propaganda operation relied heavily on a shoddily sourced book, “The Exile.”

By Gareth Porter | The Grayzone | May 19, 2020

The U.S. assassination of Qassem Soleimani in January touched off a new wave of disinformation about the top Iranian major general, with Trump administration allies branding him a global terrorist while painting Iran as the world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism. Much of the propaganda about Soleimani related to his alleged responsibility for the killing of American troops in Iraq, along with Iran’s role in Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen.

But a second theme in the disinformation campaign, which has been picked up by mainstream outlets like the Wall Street Journal and National Public Radio, was the claim that Soleimani deliberately unleashed al-Qaeda terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s campaign to kill Shiites in Iraq. That element of the propaganda offensive was the result of the 2017 publication of “The Exile,” a book by British journalists Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark, which spun a new version of the familiar U.S. propaganda line of a supposed Iranian terror alliance with al-Qaeda.

Levy and Scott-Clark introduced the theme of secret collusion between the two open adversaries with an article in the The Sunday Times in early 2018, dramatically entitled “Tehran in devil’s pact to rebuild al‑Qaeda.” Soleimani, they claimed, “first offered sanctuary to bin Laden’s family and al-Qaeda military leaders,” then proceeded to “build them a residential compound at the heart of a military training center in Tehran.”

But those two sentences represented a grotesque distortion of Iran’s policy toward the al-Qaeda personnel fleeing from Afghanistan into Iran. Virtually every piece of concrete evidence, including an internal al-Qaeda document written in 2007, showed that Iran agreed to take in a group of al-Qaeda refugees with legal passports that included members of bin Laden’s family and some fighters and middle- and lower-ranking military cadres – but not Zarqawi and other al-Qaeda military leaders — and only temporarily and under strict rules forbidding political activity.

The crucial fact that Levy and Scott-Clark conveniently failed to mention, moreover, was that Iranian officials were well aware that al-Qaeda’s leadership figures, including military commanders and with their troops, were also slipping into Iran from Afghanistan, but Iranian security forces had not yet located them.

Keeping the legal arrivals under closer surveillance and watching for any contacts with those illegally in the country, therefore, was a prudent policy for Iranian security under the circumstances.

In addition, having bin Laden’s family and other al-Qaeda cadres under their surveillance gave Iran potential bargaining chips it could use to counter hostile actions by both al-Qaeda and the United States.

Al-Qaeda documents undermine narrative of cooperation with Iran

Careful study of the enormous cache of internal al-Qaeda documents released by the U.S. government in 2017 further discredited the tall tale of Iranian facilitation of al-Qaeda terrorism.

Nelly Lahoud, a senior fellow at the New American Foundation and former senior research associate at the West Point Combating Terrorism Center, translated and analyzed 303 of the newly available documents and found nothing indicating Iranian cooperation with, or even knowledge about the whereabouts of Zarqawi or other al-Qaeda military leaders prior to their detentions of April 2003.

Lahoud explained in a September 2018 lecture that all actions by al-Qaeda operatives in Iran had been “conducted in a clandestine manner.” She even discovered from one of the documents that al-Qaeda had considered the clandestine presence of those officials and fighters so dangerous that they had been instructed on how to commit suicide if they were caught by the Iranians.

Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark were well aware that those al-Qaeda operatives living in Tehran’s military training center were under severe constraints, akin to a prison.  Meanwhile, senior figures like Zarqawi and Saif al-Adel, the head of the al-Qaeda shura council, were far away from Tehran, planning new operations in the region amid friendly Sunni contacts. These plans included Zarqawi’s campaign Iraq, which he began organizing in early 2002.

Nevertheless the authors declared, “From [the Iranian training center], al-Qaeda organized, trained and established funding networks with the help of Iran, co-ordinated multiple terrorist atrocities and supported the bloodbath against Shi’ites by al-Qaeda in Iraq….”

Anti-Iran think tanker Sadjadpour jumps on the conspiracy bandwagon

Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a reliable fount of anti-Iran spin, responded within days of the Soleimani assassination with an article in the Wall Street Journal’s right-wing editorial section that reinforced the budding disinformation campaign.

Entitled “The Sinister Genius of Qassem Soleimani,” Sadjadpour’s op-ed argued that in March 2003, before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, “Soleimani’s Quds Force freed many Sunni jihadists that Iran had been holding captive, unleashing them against the U.S.” He cited “The Exile” as his source.

Levy and Scott-Clark did indeed spin a tale in the book of Zarqawi’s troops — and Zarqawi himself — being rounded up and locked to the same prison as those al-Qaeda members who entered with passports in March 2003. The authors claimed they were released within days. But the only sources they cite to support their claims were two people they interviewed in Amman, Jordan in 2016.

So who were these insider sources? The only identifying characteristics Levy and Scott-Clark offer is that they were “in Zarqawi’s group at the time.” Furthermore, neither of these sources is quoted to substantiate the claim that Zarqawi was arrested and then released from prison, and they are mentioned only in a footnote on the number of Zarqawi’s troops that had been sent to the prison.

Sadjadpour offered his own explanation — without the slightest suggestion of any evidence to support it — of why Soleimani would support an anti-Shiite jihadist to kill his own Iraqi Shiite allies. “By targeting Shiite shrines and civilians, killing thousands of Iran’s fellow Shiites,” he wrote, “Zarqawi helped to radicalize Iraq’s Shiite majority and pushed them closer to Iran—and to Soleimani, who could offer them protection.”

In late January, on National Public Radio’s weekly program “Throughline,” Sadjadpour pushed his dubiously sourced argument, opining that Soleimani had figured out how to “use the al Qaeda jihadists of Zarqawi … to simply unleash them into Iraq with the understanding that you guys do what you do.”

The BBC promotes “The Exile” as the book’s narrative crumbles

In a BBC radio documentary broadcasted in late April, titled “Iran’s Long Game” (an allusion to Iran’s alleged long-term plan for domination of the entire Middle East), Cathy Scott-Clark told a story intended to clinch the case that Iran had helped Zarqawi: Other prisoners “heard conversations in the corridors” in which Iranian authorities allegedly assured Zarqawi, “You can do whatever you want to do … in Iraq.”

That story does not appear in her book, however. Instead, Adrian Levy and Scott-Clark related a comment by Abu Hafs al-Mauritani, a spiritual adviser to bin Laden, on hearing about the arrest and subsequent release of Zarqawi from another prisoner who eavesdropped by tapping the pipes leading into his room.

That narrative had already been definitively contradicted long before, however, in an account provided by Saif al-Adl, the most senior member of the al-Qaeda top leadership in Iran. Al-Adl had fled with Zarqawi from Afghanistan across the border into Iran illegally in late 2001 or early 2002 and was apprehended in April 2003 — weeks after the alleged events portrayed in al-Mauritani’s story.

In a memoir smuggled out of Iran to Jordanian journalist Fouad Hussein, which Husayn published in 2005 in an Arabic-language book (but available online in an English-language translation), Saif al-Adl described an Iranian crackdown in March 2003 that captured 80 percent of Zarqawi’s fighters and “confused us and aborted 75 percent of our plan”.

Because of that round-up, al-Adl wrote, “[T]here was a need for the departure of Abu-Mus’ab and the brothers who remained free.” Al-Adl described his final meeting with Zarqawi before his departure, confirming that Zarqawi had not been caught prior to his own apprehension on April 23, 2003.

Levy and Scott-Clark cited Saif al-Adl’s memoir on other matters in “The Exile,” but when this writer queried Scott-Clark about al-Adl’s testimony – which contradicted the narrative that underpinned her book – Scott-Clark responded, “I know Fuad Hussein well. Most of his information is third hand and not well sourced.”

She did not address the substance of al-Adl’s recollections about Zarqawi, however. When asked in a follow-up email whether she challenged the authenticity of Saif al-Adl’s testimony, Scott-Clark did not respond.

Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist who has covered national security policy since 2005 and was the recipient of Gellhorn Prize for Journalism in 2012.  His most recent book is The CIA Insider’s Guide to the Iran Crisis co-authored with John Kiriakou, just published in February.

May 20, 2020 Posted by | Book Review, Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 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

The Paper Of Record Says Feel Sorry For Bill Gates, Who’s Been Targeted With Conspiracy Theories

By Tyler Durden – Zero Hedge – 04/17/2020

The Wall Street Journal’s Deepa Seetharaman wants us to know that while poor billionaire Bill Gates has ‘long been a target for online trolls,’ that ‘the social-media attacks have intensified’ as the Micrrosoft co-founder and World Health Organization (WHO) benefactor has become the left’s de-facto coronavirus czar.

Seetharaman suggests that the attacks have increased due to Gates’s angry criticism towards President Trump, who halted funding to the WHO due to the organization’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and its allegiance to China.

In the 24 hours after Mr. Gates’s comments, his Twitter account was mentioned at least 270,000 times—more than 30 times more than average—mainly by angry supporters of President Trump, according to Clemson University researchers. Mr. Gates’s Instagram post from April 5 drew an additional 45,000 comments in that same 24-hour period. The post now has more than 225,000 comments. WSJ

Perhaps the ‘conspiracy theorists’ are having a little trouble digesting the fact that Gates – whose vaccine efforts in India were blamed for a devastating non-polio acute flaccid paralysis (NPAFP) epidemic that paralyzed 490,000 children – coincidentally hosted an October, 2019 high-level ‘pandemic simulation’ in New York called Event 201 which specifically focused on coronavirus and projected over 65 million deaths worldwide.

Combine that with Gates’ recent comments about mass vaccination and biometric identification in order to ‘open up’ the country and allow people to attend mass gatherings – an idea which Dr. Anthony Fauci said “has merit,” and so-called conspiracy theorists have plenty of dots to connect.

According to the Journal, “social-media platforms remain fertile ground for virus-related conspiracies and online harassment, despite repeated pledges by the companies to crack down on such activity.”

So – Gates is being harassed and nobody is stopping these thought criminals with their menacing opinions. And of course, ‘bots’ are also being blameed for amplifying ‘conspiracy claims’ – since there can’t be that many real humans with bad things to say about Mr. Gates.

I’ve never seen a time where more mis- and disinformation has flowed than this coronavirus period,” said Univsity of Texas assistant professor Sam Woolley, who has ‘studied disinformation for nearly a decade.’

Some antivaccine activists and conspiracy-minded posters encouraged their followers across social media to attack Mr. Gates on Instagram, a form of harassment called “brigading” in which people coordinate attacks and hijack conversations online, according to a review of accounts. This week, one Instagram account told its 52,000 followers that “it wouldn’t be a bad thing for all of us to go visit Bill Gates Instagram and let him know what you think.” A spokeswoman for the Gates Foundation declined to comment. –WSJ

According to the report, Facebook is now “looking at this behavior carefully to determine whether it violates our policies. People on our services are allowed to speak freely, and do so in an organized way, but we remove accounts that are fake or designed to mislead,” and will begin notifying users who have engaged with what they deem misinformation that they’ve been hoodwinked by bad actors in cyberspace.

How nice! Maybe Facebook will hire someone from the Gates foundation to do their fact checking?

April 18, 2020 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 4 Comments

US not sending 14,000 troops to Mideast: Pentagon

Press TV – December 5, 2019

The Pentagon has denied a report concerning the expansion of US military presence in the Middle East.

The denial came in reaction to an article published in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.

The paper claimed that Washington was weighing the deployment of fourteen-thousand additional troops and a dozen of naval vessels in the region, to counter alleged threats from Iran.

A Pentagon spokesman, however, said that they were not considering sending additional troops to the Middle East.

“To be clear, the reporting is wrong. The U.S. is not considering sending 14,000 additional troops to the Middle East,” Alyssa Farah tweeted.

December 5, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 1 Comment

Study finds 50-year history of anti-Palestinian bias in mainstream news reporting

CONTEXT matters, and CONTEXT is often missing in news reports about Israel-Palestine
CONTEXT matters, and CONTEXT is often missing in news reports about Israel-Palestine
By Kathryn Shihadah – If Americans Knew – January 19, 2019

A recent media study based on analysis of 50 years of data found that major U.S. newspapers have provided consistently skewed, pro-Israel reporting on Israel-Palestine.

The study, conducted by 416Labs, a Toronto-based consulting and research firm, is the largest of its kind.

Using computer analysis, researchers evaluated the headlines of five influential U.S. newspapers: the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal from 1967 to 2017.

The study period begins in June 1967, the date when Israel began its military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip – now officially termed the Occupied Palestinian Territories – following its Six Day War against Jordan, Egypt and Syria.

Methodology involved the use of Natural Language Processing (NLP), a type of computer analysis that sifts through large amounts of natural language data and investigates the vocabulary. NLP tabulated the most commonly used words and word pairs, as well as the positive or negative sentiment associated with the headlines.

Using NLP to analyze 100,000 headlines, the study revealed that the coverage favored Israel in the “sheer quantity of stories covered,” by presenting Palestinian-centric stories from a more negative point of view, as well as by grossly under-representing the Palestinian narrative, and by omitting or downplaying “key topics that help to identify the conflict in all its significance.”

Four times more headlines mentioned Israel than Palestine

The Fifty Years of Occupation study reveals a clear media bias first in the quantity of headlines: over the half-century period in question, headlines mentioned Israel 4 times more frequently than Palestine.

The study revealed other discrepancies in coverage of Israel and Palestine/Palestinians as well.

Sentiment

For all 5 newspapers studied, Israel-centric headlines were on average more positive than the Palestinian-centric headlines.

Sentiment analysis measures “the degree to which ideological loyalty colors analysis.”

In order to measure sentiment, the study employed a “dictionary” of words classified as either positive or negative; each headline was scored based on its use of these words.

The report explains that journalistic standards require news stories to be “neutral, objective, and derived from facts,” but the reports on Israel-Palestine “exhibit some form of institutionalized ideological posturing and reflect a slant.” [See graphs below post]

Under-representation of the Palestinian voice

The study also found Palestinians marginalized as sources of news and information.

A simple case in point: The fact-checking organization Pundit Fact examined CNN guests during a segment of the 2014 Israeli incursion into Gaza, Operation Protective Edge. Pundit Fact reported that during this time, 20 Israeli officials were interviewed, compared to only 4 Palestinians, although Palestinians were overwhelmingly victims of the incursion with 2,251 deaths vs. 73 Israeli deaths.

The study’s data reveal what it calls “the privileging of Israeli voices and, invariably, Israeli narratives”: the phrases “Israel Says” and “Says Israel” occurred at a higher frequency than any other bigram (2-word phrase) throughout the 50 years of headlines – in fact, at a rate 250% higher than “Palestinian Says” and similar phrases. This indicates that not only are Israeli perspectives covered more often, but Palestinians rarely have an opportunity to defend or explain their actions.

The report explains the significance of such asymmetry:

This imbalance matters, as official Israeli government policy is effectively made an intrinsic part of the discussion of the conflict, while the views of Palestinians living under occupation are subordinated to the margins.

Sins of omission and de-emphasis

The analysis turned up yet another significant problem with the newspapers’ coverage: failure to report, or to report adequately, on important aspects of the Palestine-Israel conflict.

The study found several critical topics that the 5 newspapers failed to cover adequately, resulting in reader misperceptions.

Peace process?

One misperception revolves around the alleged existence of an ongoing “peace process.”

The study points out the consistent use of bigrams such as “peace talks,” in spite of the fact that since 1993, peace talks have been essentially nonexistent. And,

A hallmark of the conflict has been the perception that there is an ongoing peace process which, from time to time, breaks down, thereby delaying resolution of the conflict…the dispute is effectively portrayed as being one between two equal warring sides, not one where one group is an occupier and the other the occupied.

Occupation

The researchers emphasize the fact that as the occupation of the West Bank (and de facto occupation of Gaza) drags on past 50 years, the brutality of the Israeli occupation is becoming normalized and its illegality forgotten.

They draw this conclusion from their analysis of the unigram “occupation,” which has appeared in headlines less and less frequently, dropping by 85% in Israel-centric headlines, and by 65% in Palestinian-centric headlines over the 50-year period.

Gaza

The blockade of Gaza, and the economic hardships of Gazans under the blockade, were mentioned in Palestine-centric headlines just 30 and 63 times respectively, in the 11 years since the blockade began.

In Covering Gaza: is the mainstream media discourse changing on Palestine-Israel?, Tamara Kharroub of the Arab Center in Washington DC censures mainstream media coverage of the Great Return March – a nonviolent demonstration by Palestinian Gazans for justice and the end of the blockade – for failing to report the names of Gazan civilians killed by Israeli snipers, “in stark contrast to the usual reporting on Israeli victims, in which their pictures, lives, and grieving families are repeatedly shown and discussed.”

… and more

As another example, Palestinian refugees – still waiting to be repatriated according to UN Resolution 242 of 1949 – have been forgotten as a group: the words “Palestine Refugee(s)” in headlines has declined by 93% over the last 50 years, reflecting a decline in concern from media.

The study reveals similar underreporting on topics including the illegality of Israeli settlements and Palestinians’ designation of East Jerusalem as the future capital of the future Palestinian state.

According to Siham Rashid, formerly of the Palestinian Counseling Center, these accumulated flaws characterize the Israel-Palestine issue as

a conflict revolving around security and terrorism, with Israel being the victim…So, for many people, the conflict is understood as a conflict of land and borders between two peoples who have equal claims, not as a conflict between an oppressed and oppressor and colonized and colonizer.

International consensus

As cited by the researchers, Marda Dunsky’s  2008 book, Pens and Swords: How the American Mainstream Media Report the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, analyzed US media over a 4-year period. One of her most significant findings was the lack of coverage of the international consensus on important issues, for example the almost-universal conclusions that Israeli settlements are illegal, and that Palestinian refugees should be allowed to return to their homes.

Greg Shupak’s The Wrong Story: Palestine, Israel, and the Media offers an example from Operation Protective Edge, the Israeli aggression of 2014 into Gaza. He points out that the blockade of Gaza, a key antecedent to the violence, was mentioned only once in the many New York Times editorials on the conflict published just before and during the war.

Shupak’s work shows how NYT “frequently omits important details that would better contextualize the conflict.”

In More Bad News From IsraelGlasgow University researchers Greg Philo and Mike Berry examined British mainstream media coverage of Israel-Palestine. In a study of BBC coverage, the lack of adequate context resulted in

the failure to convey adequately the disparity in the Israeli and Palestinian experience, reflecting the fact that one side is in control and the other lives under occupation…BBC output does not consistently give a full and fair account of the conflict. In some ways the picture is incomplete and, in that sense, misleading.

Alison Weir of If Americans Knew has published extensive studies of American media coverage of Israel-Palestine which reveal “daily reporting [that is] profoundly skewed” and a “pervasive pattern of distortion” in which “[t]he favored population was the Israeli one.”

If Americans Knew has conducted six major studies and one shorter study on coverage of Israel-Palestine news and found that media had reported on Israeli deaths at far greater rates than they reported on Palestinian deaths. The studies also revealed the palpable pro-Israel bias, under-representation of the Palestinian voice and the omission or downplaying of critical topics.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is a lobbying group that advocates pro-Israel policies to the Congress and Executive Branch of the United States.

Causation?

The Canadian researchers found a “systemic problem in coverage,” but did not study the causation. Nevertheless, they excluded the possibility of “deliberate planned bias,” attributing the biased coverage to “the U.S. media’s affinity to broadly align and support their government’s foreign policy objectives.”

Some other researchers, however, report a wider range of factors, many connected to the pro-Israel lobby in the United States. For example, Alison Weir discovered deep links between US media and Israel (e.g. hereherehere, and here). Mearsheimer and Walt reported on the power of pro-Israel pressure in their book The Israel Lobby; Paul Findley in his book They Dare to Speak Out, and others report a wider range of factors, many connected to the pro-Israel lobby in the United States. In many cases, pressure from pro-Israel groups in the Israel lobby, contributed significantly to the consistent slant in mainstream media.

Conclusion

As the authors point out:

Whether online, television, or print, the mainstream media serves to provide most Americans with their daily news. How the media frames the news and presents it to viewers can profoundly shape their perception of current events.

Yet numerous analysts, across time and region, have established that this media consistently skews the news when it comes to Israel-Palestine. This results in nations and their governments upholding Israeli priorities rather than those of their own people, and perpetuating injustice toward Palestinians.


1-19 chart.png

July 29, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Russia denies withdrawing specialists from Venezuela, says cooperation is set to expand

RT | June 4, 2019

Reports of a mass exodus of Russian military and technical specialists from Venezuela are not true, Russian officials have said. Cooperation with Caracas is going on as usual and is set to expand, they said.

In a Sunday story, the Wall Street Journal reported that Russian military and technical personnel had left Venezuela en-masse, with the numbers diminishing from some 1,000 to several dozens. The newspaper explained the alleged exodus with a lack of contracts and the fact that Moscow supposedly realized that Caracas lacks any funds to pay for the services of the Russian hi-tech and military hardware corporation Rostec.

On Monday, the corporation itself dismissed the report.

“The figures provided in the piece by the Wall Street Journal have been exaggerated tens of times. The numbers of our staff there has remained the same for many years,” the press service of Rostec stated.

The corporation explained that aside from having a permanent representation, it sends groups of technical specialists “from time to time” to Venezuela to perform maintenance and repairs of equipment supplied by Russia. “Just recently, the maintenance of a batch of aircraft was completed,” the press service added.

Russia’s state military hardware exporter, Rosoboronexport, on its part, said that Moscow and Caracas are actually planning to increase cooperation. Russian companies “remain committed to deepening cooperation with the Ministry of Defense and other departments of the Venezuelan government,” the exporter stated.

Shortly after the dismissal, US President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that Russia had “removed most of their people” from Venezuela. It was not immediately clear what he meant, since apart from the Russian companies’ denial, there has been no official word from Moscow so far.

While military and technical cooperation between Russia and Venezuela has been going on for years, it made a lot of fuss lately amid the US-backed attempt to oust country’s President Nicolas Maduro and install self-styled ‘interim-president’ Juan Guaido instead. Russia’s modest military activity in Venezuela caught the eye of American politicians and media, sparking demands to Moscow to “get out” of what Washington believes to be its own “backyard.”

June 3, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 2 Comments

A Reuters Report on Iran That Fueled US Diatribes

By Ivan Kesic | Consortium News | December 27, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final CIA Admission

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

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

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

Dubious Figure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Story with Long Legs  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you believe it’s OUR goal? Putin says he knows ‘very well’ who seeks to rule the world

RT | December 20, 2018

Russia does not aim to rule the world, and such assumptions are part of an “imposed mentality” used to distract people, Vladimir Putin told a WSJ reporter when asked about Russia’s supposed ambitions for world domination.

Faced with a rather provocative question from the WSJ Moscow Bureau Chief, Ann Maria Simmons, Putin said that “when it comes to ruling the world we know very well where the headquarters [of those], who are trying to do exactly that,” is located. “And it’s not in Moscow,” the president added, speaking at an annual Q&A session in Moscow.

Although the Russian leader has never openly accused Washington of having some global ambitions, he still said that the ongoing contest of influence in the international arena is linked to “the US leading role in the world economy” and its enormous defense spending amounting to “more than $700 billion,” which Washington apparently seeks to translate into some political power.

Russia’s defense spending amounts to just $46 billion, the president said, noting that the total population of the NATO countries accounts for some 600 million people while Russia has just about 140 million.

“Do you really believe that it is our goal to rule the world?” Putin asked rhetorically.

All the speculation about Russia’s supposed aspirations for the world dominance are nothing but a “mentality imposed by some to achieve internal goals,” the president said.

December 20, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , | 1 Comment

US Says Assad Has Approved Gas Attack In Idlib, Setting Stage For Major Military Conflict

By Tyler Durden – Zero Hedge – 09/10/2018

At this point there’s not even so much as feigning surprise or suspense in the now sadly all-too-familiar Syria script out of Washington.

The Wall Street Journal has just published a bombshell on Sunday evening as Russian and Syrian warplanes continue bombing raids over al-Qaeda held Idlib, citing unnamed US officials who claim President Bashar al-Assad of Syria has approved the use of chlorine gas in an offensive against the country’s last major rebel stronghold.”

And perhaps more alarming is that the report details that Trump is undecided over whether new retaliatory strikes could entail expanding the attack to hit Assad allies Russia and Iran this time around.

That’s right, unnamed US officials are now claiming to be in possession of intelligence which they say shows Assad has already given the order in an absolutely unprecedented level of “pre-crime” telegraphing of events on the battlefield.

And supposedly these officials have even identified the type of chemical weapon to be used: chlorine gas.

The anonymous officials told the WSJ of “new U.S. intelligence” in what appears an eerily familiar repeat of precisely how the 2003 invasion of Iraq was sold to the American public (namely, “anonymous officials” and vague assurances of unseen intelligence)  albeit posturing over Idlib is now unfolding at an intensely more rapid pace :

Fears of a massacre have been fueled by new U.S. intelligence indicating Mr. Assad has cleared the way for the military to use chlorine gas in any offensive, U.S. officials said. It wasn’t clear from the latest intelligence if Mr. Assad also had given the military permission to use sarin gas, the deadly nerve agent used several times in previous regime attacks on rebel-held areas. It is banned under international law.

It appears Washington is now saying an American attack on Syrian government forces and locations is all but inevitable.

And according to the report, President Trump may actually give the order to attack even if there’s no claim of a chemical attack, per the WSJ :

In a recent discussion about Syria, people familiar with the exchange said, President Trump threatened to conduct a massive attack against Mr. Assad if he carries out a massacre in Idlib, the northwestern province that has become the last refuge for more than three million people and as many as 70,000 opposition fighters that the regime considers to be terrorists.

And further:

The Pentagon is crafting military options, but Mr. Trump hasn’t decided what exactly would trigger a military response or whether the U.S. would target Russian or Iranian military forces aiding Mr. Assad in Syria, U.S. officials said.

Crucially, this is the first such indication of the possibility that White House and defense officials are mulling over hitting “Russian or Iranian military forces” in what would be a monumental escalation that would take the world to the brink of World War 3.

The WSJ report cites White House discussions of a third strike — in reference to US attacks on Syria during the last two Aprils after chemical allegations were made against Damascus —  while indicating it “likely would be more expansive than the first two” and could include targeting Russia and Iran.

The incredibly alarming report continues:

During the debate this year over how to respond to the second attack, Mr. Trump’s national-security team weighed the idea of hitting Russian or Iranian targets in Syria, people familiar with the discussions said. But the Pentagon pushed for a more measured response, U.S. officials said, and the idea was eventually rejected as too risky.

A third U.S. strike likely would be more expansive than the first two, and Mr. Trump would again have to consider whether or not to hit targets like Russian air defenses in an effort to deliver a more punishing blow to Mr. Assad’s military.

Last week the French ambassador, whose country also vowed to strike Syria if what it deems credible chemical allegations emerge, said during a U.N. Security Council meeting on Idlib: “Syria is once again at the edge of an abyss.”

With Russia and Iran now in the West’s cross hairs over Idlib, indeed the entire world is again at the edge of the abyss.

developing…

September 10, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , , | 2 Comments