Archive | July 15th, 2017

Democrats Gone Mad: The Year of Living Stupidly

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By Glen Ford

For more than a year now, the collective U.S. ruling class, with Democratic Party and corporate media operatives in the vanguard, has frozen the national political discourse in a McCarthyite time warp. A random visit to a July 26, 2016, issue of the New York Timesreveals the same obsession as that which consumes the newspaper today: “Following the Links from Russian Hackers to the U.S. Election,” “Spy Agency Consensus Grows That Russia Hacked D.N.C.” A year later, the allegations persist, piled ever higher with innuendo and outright nonsense. However, proof of the predicate act — that Russia, not Wikileaks, penetrated the DNC — remains totally absent.

What is the purpose of this torture-by-media? Clearly, the Trump White House has been crippled by the tsunami that never ebbs, but the Democrats have not been strengthened in the process, and the corporate media’s standing among the public erodes by the day. A poll conducted last month showed majorities of voters want Congress to ease up on Russia investigations and get to work on healthcare, terrorism, national security, the economy and jobs. Almost three out of four respondents to the Harvard-Harris poll said lawmakers aren’t paying attention to the issues that are important to them — including 68 percent of Democrats. Sixty-two percent of voters say there is no hard evidence of White House “collusion” with Russia, and 64 percent think the investigations are hurting the country.

The non-stop vilification of Russia and Trump has seriously backfired on the corporate media. Another poll by Harvard-Harris, conducted back in May, showed that two out of three Americans believe the so-called “mainstream” press is full of “fake news” — including a majority of Democrats. The Russiagate blitzkrieg, designed to delegitimize Trump and demonize Vladimir Putin, has exacerbated an already existing crisis of legitimacy for the entire U.S. political system. “Every major institution from the presidency to the courts is now seen as operating in a partisan fashion in one direction or the other,” said poll co-director Mark Penn.

The only unequivocal winner is the bipartisan War Party, which has used the manufactured crisis to drench the nation in anti-Russian hysteria – worse than back in the bad old days of the Red Scares. By March, Black Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) was using much the same language as Dick Cheney to describe the Kremlin. “I think this attack that we’ve experienced is a form of war, a form of war on our fundamental democratic principles,” said the hopelessly brainwashed representative of the Black Misleadership Class. “Liberal” Democratic Maryland Rep. Ben Cardin called the nonexistent “attack” a “political Pearl Harbor.”

If the U.S. Congress actually took seriously its Constitutional powers to declare war, the human race would already have been exterminated.

So insane have the Democrats become, that we are probably better off with war powers effectively in the hands of Donald Trump, than with California’s Barbara Lee, the only member of Congress that voted against the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. She was in her “right mind” then, but no longer. Trump’s willingness to talk with the leader of Russia, in Hamburg, infuriated Rep. Lee, who tweeted: “Outraged by President Trump’s 2 hr meeting w/Putin, the man who orchestrated attacks on our democracy. Where do his loyalties lie?” A better question is: When and where did Lee join the War Party?

The dogs of war at U.S. intelligence agencies have led the charge against Trump since they encamped at Hillary Clinton’s campaign headquarters, last year. The spoiled oligarch was not trusted to maintain the momentum of the U.S. military offensive begun by Barack Obama in 2011, with the unprovoked war against Libya. The state of war must be preserved, whatever the cost to the empire’s domestic institutions. Skilled in the arts of regime change, the spooks joined with their longtime partners in corporate media propaganda, to foment a “color revolution” at home. Barbara Lee is a recent recruit.

Although the Democrats will ultimately harm themselves with the electorate by folding into the War Party, it suits the purposes of party leadership and the fat cats that finance them. The ruling class has nothing to offer the people except the total insecurity of gig-jobs and austerity. The Lords of Capital effectively shut the Democrats down decades ago. They can campaign as if there really is a clash of ideas about the organization of society, but they must propose nothing that fundamentally conflicts with the steady consolidation of wealth and power by the oligarchy (the American one, not the Russians). That goes for Bernie Sanders, too. Heard anything about single payer from him, lately?

The “all Russiagate, all the time” information regime — which also prepares the public for a wider war scenario – provides the illusion of motion that passes for “resistance” to the rule of the rich, as personified by Donald Trump. But there has been no Democratic program to reorder society for at least a generation. And now, under the New McCarthyism, the only politics that is allowed is war politics, consisting of denunciations of those who threaten “our fundamental democratic principles” – which need not be defined or even proven to exist.

That’s why it has been an empty year, albeit a very loud one. As Gil Scott-Heron sang inWinter in America,” “Nobody’s fighting, ‘cause nobody knows what to save.”

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US Ballistic Missile Defense to Enter New Domains

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By Peter KORZUN 

Much has been said about the US ground-based missile defense program and the sites in place or to be installed soon in Europe and Asia. But land is not the only domain where the effort is taking place. Now the priority is shifting to air- and space-based systems. The US officials and military leaders believe that space is now a war fighting domain on par with air, land and sea. This is one of the rare issues the administration and Congress see eye to eye on.

On June 30, President Trump signed an executive order to reinstate the National Space Council – an executive agency with Vice President Mike Pence at the helm that will be tasked with guiding US space policy during the administration. The Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense, as well as NASA’s administrator, will serve on the council as well.

During the election campaign, President Trump said he wanted a ballistic missile defense (BMD) system with «a heavy emphasis on space-based early warning and missile tracking technologies». Defence Secretary James Mattis is known as an ardent advocate of bigger investments into space exploration for defense purposes. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson released a statement announcing the service’s pivot to space. In recent months, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein has said he wants the USAF to be «the lead service for space».

Part of the new preparations for space combat is the creation of a new position called the Deputy Chief of Staff for Space Operations. According to US Air Force (USAF) Secretary Heather Wilson, the new position will be a three-star officer to provide advice and counsel to Wilson and USAF chief of staff General David Goldfein in all space matters. The USAF will stand up its new deputy chief of staff for space operations position (A11) on August 1.

In February, Lt. Gen. James Dickinson, the Army Space and Missile Defense Commander, and Brig. Gen. Ronald Buckley, U.S. Northern Command’s deputy director of operations, talked about the importance of space for missile defense in speeches at the Association of the US Army’s missile defense conference in Arlington, Va. Dickinson said space is «fundamental for every single military operation that occurs on the planet today from satellites to GPS», and said the domain is a crucial part of connecting the battlefield and the backbone of the missile defense kill chain. «As long as we continue to solely focus and rely on terrestrial-based for our [ballistic missile defense] sensors, there will be gaps and seams in our coverage», Buckley said to substantiate his conclusion that «it’s time we take a hard look at space as an option».

The land-based detection systems have an inherent drawback – they look upward hindered by the curvature of the Earth, which blocks even the most powerful radar’s full field of view. Air- and space-based systems would have much better coverage than ground-based assets.

According to Defense News, House lawmakers want the Pentagon to quickly produce a space-based missile defense strategy laying out the plans «to develop a space-based sensor layer for ballistic missile defense that provides precision tracking data of missiles beginning in the boost phase and continuing throughout subsequent flight regimes; serves other intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance requirements; and achieves an operational prototype payload at the earliest practicable opportunity».

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is requesting $7.9 billion in FY18, an increase of $379 million from the FY17 request. The MDA will continue work on an unmanned aerial vehicle-borne laser for boost phase missile defense. The request also includes $17 million for a space-based Kill Assessment experiment. «The full SKA network is currently planned to be on orbit in FY17», the documents state. The biggest chunk of the new money – $1.3 billion, an increase of $862 million from 2016 – would go to the Air Force’s Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS), a constellation of satellites meant for early missile warning and detection. The plans include the launch of SBIRS GEO-4 (November) and the development of GEO-5 and 6. The Air Force wants to build eight geosynchronous satellites in total, in addition to the three already deployed in high orbit. Some of the Air Force’s larger programs include the Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) system, a series of high-bandwidth satellites meant to act as the next generation of military communication satellites.

The ground-based BMD systems, the X-37B spacecraft and Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP) platforms could be repurposed into instruments of war in space.

Remotely operated drone swarms – groups of small robots could act together under human – have great future when used for missile defense purposes. This involves groups of small, tube-launched UAVs designed to swarm and overwhelm adversaries. The swarming drone technology was tested by the Pentagon in October 2016. They included 103 Perdix micro-drones measuring around six inches (16 centimeters) launched from three F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets. The air-delivered maneuvering buzzing swarm of skybots could strike launching site as well as counter ballistic missiles in flight. Space- or air-based swarms are a formidable missile defense weapon no missile or warhead can make through. Dummies and chaff will not help. The swarm technology going to space will change a lot of things, including the hopes for keeping an arms race away from this domain.

Airborne lasers are another promising direction of BMD development. The Defense Department seeks to use airborne lasers mounted on lightweight high-altitude drones to hit enemy ballistic missiles in flight, as well as ground- and sea–based launchers. «We have significantly ramped up our program in terms of investment and talking about […] what else needs to be done to mature this capability», MDA director Vice Admiral James Syring told Defense One.

The Missile Defense Agency plans to conduct «a lot of» testing with lasers mounted on Reaper drones «over the next few years» culminating with a «low-power laser demonstrator» project in 2021, Syring said. Pentagon officials hope to decide what that demonstrator might look like «in a few years». The goal of that project is to fly a powerful laser at a high altitude that can track possibly kill a missile soon after it is launched, during its boost phase.

Referring to anti-satellite and anti-missile weapons in space, Congressman Doug Lamborn of Armed Services said: «Some of the technical issues around those concepts need to be researched, but there’s a lot of exciting options».

The 50th anniversary of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty – an arms control deal reached in the heat of the Cold War – will be marked this October. The agreement bans stationing weapons of mass destruction in space but it does not prohibit the placement of conventional weapons there. No international agreement on non-nuclear arms in space exists today because the idea is objected by some countries, including the United States. The draft Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force against Outer Space Objects (PPWT), by Russia and backed by China in 2008 was rejected by Washington. The Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS) – a UN resolution that reaffirms the fundamental principles of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty and advocates for a ban on the weaponization of space – has not come into force due to US objections. In 2008, Russia and China proposed a draft treaty to ban space weapons, which the US blocked from going forward in the consensus-bound committee on disarmament in Geneva. The US has never come up with an initiative of its own related to control of space-based weapons. Air-based systems are also not restricted by any international agreement.

The proliferation of air- and space-based weapons is changing the battlefield of the 21st century. The cost of staging missile defense assets in these domains may be mind boggling. A conflict sparked in space would inevitably ignite full-blown war on Earth. Adding air- and space assets to the BMD effort will have ramifications the US has given little thought to, at least publicly. After land and sea, the missile defense is to enter new domains: air and space.

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For Google, the Pixels Just Hit the Fan

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Distinguished research psychologist Robert Epstein explains why Google was recently fined $2.7 billion for one of its search-engine manipulations. This is just the beginning, he says, of bad news for a company that tracks and manipulates people on a massive scale.

Dr. Robert Epstein — The pixels have hit the fan. The EU just fined Google $2.7 billion for favoring its online comparative shopping service in its search results.

Google officials knew this fine was coming and that much worse is possible, so in August 2015, they reorganized the company so that it is now part of a holding company called Alphabet. This was not done, as Larry Page, one of the company’s co-founders, rapped at the time, to make the company “cleaner and more accountable” (what on earth does that mean?). It was likely done to try to protect the value of the stock held by the company’s major stockholders.  The EU’s antitrust action against Google had been filedin April, 2015, and that got Google officials thinking. When the US Department of Justice broke up AT&T in the 1980s, the stock value dropped by 70 percent.

Google officials are nervous because they know exactly how many questionable practices they engage in every day, along with how many have been uncovered so far and how many are still unknown to authorities. My associates and I have discovered some of these practices, and we study them every day.  They are brilliant, mind-blowing, and largely invisible new ways of both tracking and manipulating human behavior on an unprecedented scale, all serving a singular purpose: to make Google richer.  Before I give you a few examples of the practices we are examining these days, let me put the big EU fine into a broader context.

First of all, Google can handle it. The company will likely have revenues of over $100 billion this year, so they can pay the fine painlessly, and they also have unlimited legal resources. In court, they will claim, as they always do, that they haven’t done anything wrong, that it’s just the algorithm, and that the algorithm — in its objective purity, driven by its deep digital desire to serve human needs — just happens to rank Google products above inferior ones.

This is complete nonsense. As I explain in detail in my US News essay, “The New Censorship,” Google employees have complete control over where items occur in search results. The search algorithm is just a set of computer instructions written by Google software engineers, and they manually adjust the algorithm daily to remove items from the search results it generates about — 100,000 items per year under Europe’s “right to be forgotten” law alone — or to demote companies that piss Google off.

Second, this hefty fine is just the tip of a very large digital iceberg. Bear in mind that it is based on merely one instance of search bias: putting Google’s own comparative shopping service ahead of others. A US Federal Trade Commission investigation in 2012 found that Google’s search results are generally skewed to favor its own products and services. When was the last time you Googled a movie without seeing YouTube — owned by Google — in the top search result? Both India and Russia have levied fines against the company for rigging search results, with a much larger fine still looming in India. Bear in mind also that the EU’s search-related action against Google is just one of three antitrust cases they have initiated so far; the other two concern Google’s dominance in mobile computing and advertising. Europe’s concerns about Google are so deep that in late 2014 the European Parliament voted (in a non-binding proceeding) to break Google up into pieces, reminiscent of the DOJ’s dismantling of AT&T.

These and other legal actions are all about new techniques Google has developed for tracking and manipulating people. The search engine may have started out as a simple index of web pages, but it was soon refined and repurposed. Its main purpose became to track user behavior, yielding a vast amount of information about people that Google still leverages to send out the targeted advertisements that account for most of the company’s income. The public still thinks of the Google search engine, Google Maps, Google Wallet, YouTube, Chrome, Android and a hundred other Google platforms as cool services the company provides free of charge. In fact, they are all just gussied-up surveillance platforms, and authorities around the world are finally figuring that out.

As the EU’s recent antitrust decision shows, authorities are also beginning to figure out how extensively Google is using its platforms to suppress competition and manipulate user behavior. The EU’s investigation found, for example, that when Google officials realized in 2007 that their comparative shopping service was failing, they elevated their own service in their search results while demoting competing services. This increased traffic to its service “45-fold in the United Kingdom, 35-fold in Germany, 19-fold in France, 29-fold in the Netherlands, 17-fold in Spain and 14-fold in Italy” while reducing traffic to its competitors by “85% in the United Kingdom, up to 92% in Germany and 80% in France.”

Does position in search results really affect user behavior that much? You bet. My own research has shown, for example, that favoring one political candidate in search results can shift the voting preferences of undecided voters by up to 80 percent in some demographic groups.  Search results that favor one perspective over another on abortion, fracking, homosexuality, you name it also dramatically shift the opinions of people who haven’t yet made up their minds. The research also shows, unfortunately, that this type of manipulation is virtually invisible to people and, worse still, that the few people who can spot favoritism in search results shift even farther in the direction of the bias, perhaps because they see the bias as a kind of social proof.

What if authorities were examining not just the dominance of Google’s comparison shopping service in the company’s search results but the dominance of, say, anything, in those results: certain brands of mobile phones or computers; political candidates who serve or interfere with the company’s needs; attitudes toward Oracle, Microsoft, Yahoo, and other companies that compete with or are in conflict with Google; news stories that are “fake” or anti-Trump or pro-Google; and on and on. Do you see how big this problem really is? And no one — at least not yet — is tracking any of this. The trillions of pieces of information Google is showing people every day are all ephemeral. They hit your eyeballs and then disappear, leaving no trace, and much or most of them favor one perspective or another. Do we really want a single company, which handles 90 percent of search in most countries, to have the power to manipulate our opinions about anything? How, over the years, has Google been exercising this power?

My newest research is showing that it is not just the order of search results we need to worry about.  Here are three examples of manipulations we are currently studying which, once again, no authorities are tracking — at least not yet:

  1. Search suggestions: Before you even see those search results, Google typically flashes search suggestions at you. When Google introduced this feature in 2004, they showed you a long list of suggestions — usually 10 — that indicated what other people were searching for; Bing and Yahoo still do this. Google, however, now typically shows you just four suggestions that are often unrelated to what others are searching for. Instead, they show you terms they believe you are likely to click, which gives them a great deal of control over your search. One way they now manipulate searches is by strategically including or withholding negativesearch terms. Negative terms (like “suicide” or “crimes”) attract far more clicks than neutral or positive ones do-10-to-15 times as many in some demographic groups. By withholding negative suggestions for a perspective or person the company supports while allowing negatives to appear for a person or perspective the company dislikes, they drive millions of people to view material that shifts opinions in ways that serve the company’s needs.  Four, it turns out, is the magical number of suggestions that maximize their control. It maximizes the power of the negative search term to draw clicks while also minimizing the likelihood that people will type their own search term.
  2. I’m feeling lucky: When you mouse over a Google search suggestion, you see a small “I’m feeling lucky” link. With this feature, Google gets people to skip seeing search results altogether; it gives the company complete control over the actual web page you see. By limiting the number of suggestions you see and then attracting you to the “lucky” link, they exert a high degree of control over what opinion you will form on issues you’re uncertain about. All of this occurs without users having any awareness of how they are being manipulated.
  3. The featured snippet: Google is rapidly moving away from the search engine model of tracking and manipulation toward much more powerful means. (To view a satire I wrote about Google donating its search engine to the American public, click here.) The “featured snippet” — the answer box we see more and more frequently above the search results — is one such tool we are studying. Google officials have long known that people don’t really want to see a list of 10,000 search results when they ask a question; they just want the answer. That’s what the snippet is now giving people — the answer, wrong or right, and it’s often wrong. In one of our newest experiments, the voting preferences of undecided voters shifted by 36.2 percent when they saw biased search rankings without an answer box, but when a biased answer box appeared above the search results, the shift was an astounding 56.5 percent. In other words, when you give people the answer, you have an even larger impact on their opinions, purchases, and voting preferences. Google is rapidly shifting to this new model of influence not just on its search engine, but with its new audio Home device (“Okay Google, what’s the best Italian restaurant around here?”), as well as with its new Android-based Google Assistant.

It took years for the EU to collect and analyze the terabytes of data it needed to make a case against Google in the shopping services action. Meanwhile, Google is moving light years ahead. This might always be a problem when it comes to the machinations of high-tech companies. Laws and regulations will necessarily lag way behind, unless-unless, that is, we change the game.

As The Washington Post and other media outlets reported in March 2017, about six months before the November 2016 election in the US, my associates and I deployed a Nielsen-type system for tracking search results in real time. Using custom software and a nationwide network of anonymous field agents, we were able to look over the shoulders of people as they conducted a wide range of election-related searches using Google, Bing, and Yahoo, ultimately preserving the first page of results from 13,207 searches and the 98,044 web pages to which the search results linked. We found that these searches, especially the ones conducted on Google, generally favored Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in all ten search positions on the first page of search results. Perhaps more important, we learned that our monitoring system could be used to track any of the ephemeral stimuli that Google and other tech companies are showing us every day: news feeds, advertisements, you name it.

I am now working will colleagues from Stanford, Princeton, King’s College London and a dozen other institutions to create an organization that will monitor the online behavior of Big Tech companies worldwide on a real-time basis. If we do this right, it will take only seconds, not years, to spot illegal or unethical behavior, and we might even be able to anticipate manipulations before they occur, providing evidence on an ongoing basis to journalists, regulators, legislators, law enforcement officials, and antitrust investigators.  Such a system will force Big Tech companies, both now and in the future, to be more accountable to the public, and it will also help preserve the free and fair election.

In the meantime, my advice to consumers is:  be wary of the information you obtain online and, more important, be cautious about the information you reveal. Learn how to increase your online privacy; it’s not that hard.

And my advice to Google officials is: cut down on the greed and arrogance. The wheels of justice turn slowly, but they do turn.

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‘Politicized’ Move: Kremlin Regrets US Limit on Use of Kaspersky Lab Products

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Sputnik 

MOSCOW – The Kremlin regrets the United States government’s limit on the use of Russia-based global cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab products, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday as he vowed to protect its interests.

The decision was reportedly made earlier this week over company’s alleged ties with Russian intelligence services.

“We regret such decisions, but on the other hand the company has the necessary legal arsenal to defend its interests,” Peskov told reporters. “But Russia as a state will also continue to do everything possible to protect the interests of our companies.”

Commenting on the General Service Administration’s reported removal of Kaspersky Lab products from the list of approved vendors for government agencies to purchase technology, he said “we certainly know that this is a politicized decision.”

“This is a commercial company, it provides commercial services and not only competitive commercial services, but competitive commercial services around the world.”

On July 11, the Bloomberg news agency published an article which said that emails obtained by the agency’s Bloomberg Businessweek revealed that the Kaspersky Lab allegedly developed products for Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) and supported its agents during raids. Kaspersky Lab has denied these media allegations and reiterated its status as a private company without political ties to any country. The firm also noted its CEO Eugene Kaspersky’s repeated offer to testify before the US Congress and turn over its source code for official verification.

Russian Minister of Communications and Mass Media Nikolai Nikiforov said earlier that response measures cannot be ruled out if the United States banned the use of Kaspersky Lab products.

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Rising Budget Stakes for Space Warfare

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By Jonathan Marshall 

There’s a civil war being fought on our nation’s soil, right in our capital. It pits the Secretary of Defense and senior generals against a bipartisan band of militant legislators who accuse the Pentagon of standing pat while Russian and China work to achieve military superiority over the United States in space.

No doubt these bureaucratic warriors will eventually call a truce. But in the meantime, the American people will almost certainly become less secure and more indebted (in budget terms) as a result of both sides’ macho posturing for new warfighting capabilities in space (differing mostly on how far and how fast to go).

Eager congressional advocates of space warfare have attached an amendment to the House defense authorization bill requiring the Pentagon to create a new U.S. Space Corps to join the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard by 2019. Currently, the Air Force oversees most space warfare projects.

The amendment has sent senior Pentagon leadership into a tizzy. Secretary of Defense James Mattis “strongly” urged Congress to rescind the requirement, stating in a letter that “it is premature to add additional organization and administrative tail to the department at a time I am trying to reduce overhead.”

Similarly, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson protested that the proposal will simply “add more boxes to the organization chart.” Meanwhile, Gen. John W. Raymond, commander of Air Force Space Command, insisted that his service has space matters well in hand. (He should be happy — the Pentagon recently raised his position to a 4-star rank.)

Upping the Ante

In response, Rep. Mike Rogers, an Alabama Republican and chairman of the Strategic Forces subcommittee, announced that he was “pissed” and “outraged” at the Air Force for fighting the new Space Command, saying its obstructionism would “set back efforts to respond to adversaries and space threats” and allow Russia and China “to surpass us soon.”

“The Air Force leadership would have us trust them: I don’t think so,” Rogers sneered, as if speaking about the Russians. “They just need a few more years to rearrange the deck chairs: I don’t think so. This is the same Air Force that got us into the situation where the Russians and the Chinese are near-peers to us in space.” He vowed, “We will not allow the status quo to continue.”

Behind all the fiery argumentation lies a bipartisan consensus that the United States must sharply increase its spending on the militarization of space to maintain global supremacy. Gen. Raymond applauded Congress for recognizing the “national imperative” of his mission to “normalize, elevate, and integrate space as a war-fighting domain.”

Secretary Wilson published an op-ed column last month on her new initiatives to “develop space airmen who have the tools, training, and resources to fight when – not if – war extends into space.” She fully expects Congress to follow through on her request for a 20 percent increase in Air Force space funding. (Total military spending on space, including non-Air Force programs like the National Reconnaissance Office, came to about $22 billion last year.)

What’s driving all this activity — aside from baser motives of bureaucratic advantage and financial gain — are “intelligence assessments” that “China and Russia have aggressive programs to both demonstrate and produce eventual operational capability to . . . attack our space assets across the spectrum,” in the words of David Hardy, acting deputy undersecretary of the Air Force for Space.

“While we’re not at war in space, I don’t think we can say we’re exactly at peace, either,” said Navy Vice Adm. Charles A. Richard, deputy commander of U.S. Strategic Command, in March. Gen. John Hyten, head of the Pentagon’s Strategic Command, recently declared that the United States needs not only a good defense, but “an offensive capability to challenge” space threats from Russia and China.

The High Stakes in Space

The stakes are potentially huge because the United States uses space for all manner of command, control, and intelligence missions, not to mention civilian applications. Orbiting satellites provide near-real-time images of conflict zones, sense missile launches and nuclear tests, provide precise positioning coordinates to guide weapons systems, and route secure communications to remote regions of the globe.

Of some 1,400 operational satellites currently in orbit, 40 percent belong to the United States, nearly twice as many as Russia and China combined. About 150 U.S. satellites serve military applications.

Any threat to satellites would thus pose a serious, even disproportionate military risk to the United States. But instead of supporting international initiatives to put space off limits to warfare, Washington has led the way in developing anti-satellite missile technology, encouraging a space arms race that puts our assets in peril.

The United States and Russia experimented with primitive anti-satellite technology as far back as the 1960s, but the United States first used a missile fired from a fighter jet to destroy an aging satellite in 1985. Not until 2007 did China conduct a similar test, blowing up an old weather satellite, while emphasizing its interest in multilateral talks to prevent the weaponization of space. The following year, the United States used a Navy interceptor missile to shoot down a dying military satellite. Russia followed suit with an anti-satellite test in 2015, proving that no military advance goes unanswered.

Some Key Facts

Alarmists who selectively cite Russian and Chinese activities to warn of an impending military space “gap” ignore a few key facts:

  1. The United States holds a clear technology lead and spends at least 10 times more on military space operations than every other country on earth combined.
  2. Although U.S. satellites are vulnerable to attack, most have maneuvering capabilities, shielding against various forms of radiation, and jam-resistant communications.
  3. For years, Russia, China and other nations have sought to control the spread of weapons into space — only to face consistent opposition from Washington.

An Outer Space Treaty signed in 1967 limited only the deployment of nuclear weapons in space. In 2002, the George W. Bush administration withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty with Russia, opening the door to widespread deployment of weapons that put U.S. satellites at risk. A year later, the Air Force declared in its Strategic Master Plan that “the ability to exploit space while selectively disallowing it to adversaries is critically important and . . . an essential prerequisite to modern warfare.”

Candidate Barack Obama proposed an international “code of conduct” in space, but as president he met resistance from the State Department and Pentagon, and dropped the idea as U.S.-Russia relations soured. In 2011, Congress passed an amendment banning cooperation with China in space, thus encouraging a military space race between our countries.

In 2014, the United Nations General Assembly voted 126 to 4 to pass a Russian resolution banning an arms race in space. The four dissenting countries were Georgia, Israel, Ukraine — and the United States.

Because the United States depends on space more than any other nation, both for military security and commerce, it has the most to lose if wars spread into space. Instead of relying only on military superiority to keep us safe, the time is long overdue to pursue diplomatic options for arms control — which potentially could help us achieve greater security for far less money.

“Unfortunately, the structural inertia that supports and, indeed, advocates, aggressive space postures requiring expensive weapon systems is strong,” notes Joan Johnson-Freese, a professor of national security affairs at the Naval War College and expert on space warfare. “Congressional support for their efforts is easily garnered, as building hardware creates lucrative jobs and corporate profits, whereas diplomacy does not.

“But if the goal of U.S. space security efforts is to maintain stability in space so it can fully utilize its space assets, then the time seems ripe for proactive diplomatic leadership and, at the same time, sustained strategic restraint. Otherwise, the U.S. will be seen (not for the first time) as advocating a policy of do-as-we-say-and-not-as-we-do regarding pursuit of offensive space capabilities.”

Johnson-Freese is not alone in her call for fresh new thinking about space warfare. A 2016 policy paper that she co-authored was published of all places by the Atlantic Council — a pro-NATO, Pentagon-funded think tank.

Its introduction declared, “The days of ‘space dominance’ are over and we need to move from thinking of space as a military domain of offense and defense to a more complex environment that needs to be managed by a wide range of international players. Doing so would calm growing tensions in space and, with deft management, lead to a more stable, peaceful space domain.”

Posted in USAComments Off on Rising Budget Stakes for Space Warfare

Oust Trump, War With Russia

NOVANEWS
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By Finian CUNNINGHAM 

Behind the sensational Western media coverage now linking the US president’s son to alleged Russian collusion in the American election, the real euphoria stems from relief that, at last, some «evidence» has been found.

For more than seven months now, the US corporate media have been running unrelenting claims that somehow Donald J Trump colluded with Russian state-sponsored hackers to get elected over his Democrat rival Hillary Clinton.

The media campaign has been dismissed as a witch hunt by Trump. Perhaps more sinisterly, US-Russia relations have also become deeply toxic due to the allegations. Not even a friendly meeting between Trump and Putin at last weekend’s G20 summit in Germany seems able to lift the poisonous cloud over bilateral relations.

However, the never-ending «Russia-gate» story was, to be frank, at risk of boring people to death from the sheer lack of evidence to shore up the conjecture of Trump being a Russian stooge. Despite the fact that three separate government probes have been working on the issue, they have nothing to show for it.

Then this week the «Russia-gate» story-tellers got a lifeline with reports that the president’s eldest son, Donald Jr, held a meeting with a Russian lawyer over a year ago at Trump Tower in New York City. The disclosure came from emails sent by Trump’s son to a mediator who promised «dirt on Clinton» that would damage her election campaign.

Democrats, Republicans, supporters of Clinton and the anti-Trump media are now cock-a-hoop that they have a «smoking gun» to prove the narrative of Trump-Russia collusion. Trump Jr is being accused of betraying his country by consorting with a foreign enemy, Russia.

Washington Post comment noted: «Donald Trump Jr’s emails are the clearest indication yet that Trump campaign officials and family members were willing to deal with a foreign adversary in their mutual goal of taking down Hillary Clinton, and their revelation is dramatic proof that the Russia investigation is alive with no end in sight.»

Meanwhile, the New York Times reported: «Rancor at White House as Russia Story Refuses to Let the Page Turn». It goes on to comment with a tone of satisfaction: «Every time the president tries to put the furor behind him, more disclosures thrust it back to the fore, and people close to him are anonymously blaming one another.»

What the media outlets decline to say is that the Russia-gate story has not gone away precisely because the media have dutifully amplified leaks and anonymous intelligence claims – more accurately, innuendo – pillorying Trump as a Russian patsy.

The Deep State rulers of the US, comprising the military-intelligence apparatus, never wanted businessman Trump to become president. Unlike Clinton, Trump was insufficiently hawkish towards Russia. Ever since his shock election last November, the Deep State and its media machine have been full throttle to oust the «wrong president». The «Russian collusion» claims are the spearhead of this attack, an attack could qualify as a «soft coup» against the elected president.

With Trump’s son now admitting that he met with a Russian lawyer last summer as the head of his father’s election campaign, the anti-Trump campaign senses a mortal wound and are going full pelt to exploit it.

But the drama has the hallmarks of yet more media-driven sensation that is out of all proportion to the facts. Trump Jr’s lawyer dismissed the latest claims as «much ado about nothing».

The Russian government, which has consistently rejected any claims of interfering in the US election, said that the speculation about Trump and the «Kremlin-connected attorney» is «making a mountain out of a molehill».

As Trump Jr told Fox News this week, he held the meeting simply because he was interested in hearing «opposition research» on Hillary Clinton. As it turned out, no such information was forthcoming and the meeting ended inconclusively after only 20 minutes. That was the end of it. Apparently, Trump Sr wasn’t even told about the brief interview, so insignificant was it at the time.

It seems a fair and plausible observation that Trump Jr was simply doing what any political campaigner would do. Get dirt on opponents.

The US media are thus guilty of «protesting too much» about what is a rather prosaic matter. Apart from the obvious axe they want to grind against President Trump, the other reason for the media hysteria over the latest twist in the Russia-gate affair is that the Deep State and their media machine have, at last, something resembling hard evidence. This is why they are grandstanding. It is from relief that they have found something approximating a story to justify all the months of shrill speculation.

The hypocrisy of the pious media, pundits and politicians over Trump Jr’s betrayal is quickly revealed when one considers that Hillary Clinton’s campaign actively worked with the CIA-backed Kiev regime to dig up dirt on Trump during the election, as reported by Cristina Laila. «Where is the call for Hillary Clinton and her aides to be interviewed by the Senate intelligence panel,» she asks.

According to US media interviews given by Nataliya Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer at the center of the Trump brouhaha, she is adamant that she was not acting for the Kremlin. The Kremlin also denies knowing her. She maintains that she not did approach the Trump campaign to provide «dirt» on Clinton, but rather to lobby against US sanctions imposed on her Russian business clients.

The claim that Veselnitskaya was «acting on Russian government information to help Donald Trump» apparently stems solely from the assertion made by the former British tabloid journalist Rob Goldstone, who wrote to Donald Jr to set up the meeting. It was Goldstone who described the meeting with Veselnitskaya as conveying «Russian government information to help your father’s campaign».

In other words that is not «proof» of Russian government involvement. It is simply hearsay from a tabloid hack with self-serving reasons.

Questions that the US media should be asking are: Was Goldstone hamming up his Russian government claims in order to sell Trump a mediation service and a scoop? Also, how did private emails between Goldstone and Trump end up in the possession of the New York Times ? Did Goldstone flog them to the newspaper in order to cash in on the brewing Russia-gate scandal?

As with so much else in the Russia-gate affair, the latest twist seems to be another concoction to turn wild speculation into the semblance of fact. It is as if the US media conceived the headline «Trump colluded with Russia» a long time ago, and have ever since been chasing to find a «story» to fit the headline.

There are too many holes in the whole Russia-gate affair for it to stand up. It is only the servile US media operating on the agenda of the powerful anti-Trump Deep State that make this non-story appear to stand up.

So desperate is the Deep State to oust Trump from office, it is willing to damage US-Russia relations beyond repair, to the point of risking all-out war.

Posted in USA, RussiaComments Off on Oust Trump, War With Russia

Sending Messages to Russia

NOVANEWS
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By Brian Cloughley | CounterPunch 

Remember the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, hosted by Russia? The planning and organization were excellent and the games were an outstanding success in every way. The western media looked frantically for something to criticize and there was indeed one slight hiccup — at the opening, one of the decorative Olympic Rings in the enormous lit-up sign malfunctioned. British and American television stations loved it.  They played the fizzle-pop segment time after time after time, hoping that there would be something else equally disastrous for which evil, incompetent yet curiously threatening Russia could be hung out to dry.

It didn’t happen, of course, and the Russians made fun of the episode at the end of the games, but the attitude of the west was vehemently Cold War and it set the stage for the next few years.

To the anguish and annoyance of much of the Western media, the recent meeting in Hamburg between Presidents Trump and Putin was a success. On the Sunday following their discussions on Friday July 7 there was not one single positive comment piece or headline in any of the usual anti-Russia chorus line — including the Washington Post, London’s  Sunday Telegraph, the New York Times, London’s Mail on Sunday, and the Boston Sunday Globe (to name but a few).

Saturday’s front pages had also been devoid of anything positive, but given the small amount of information that was available immediately after the meeting, this is not surprising, although the Globe managed a front-page headline that “Trump Confronts Putin on Election Meddling” which was a good try. What was predictable but nonetheless deplorable was the totally negative attitude. Western media people do not think it a good thing that the leaders of two large and important nations spoke amicably with each other.

What they really wanted, of course, was for there to be a mighty explosion between Trump and Putin, followed by a snarling walk-out by one or other or preferably both. My goodness, just think of the photo-opportunities, the gleeful headlines, the sententious “I told you so” from the galaxy of talent poised in the wings with venom-tipped keyboard fingers.

Don’t get me wrong : I have no time for Trump whom I judge to be an arrogant, erratic, mendacious, vulgar oaf who would not be permitted to enter my house to clean the lavatory. But he is the President of the United States and thus a most important person. What he says should be regarded as official US policy — or perhaps not, because on July 8 he declared that “Now it is time to move forward in working constructively with Russia” yet next day his Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, told the media that in spite of what her President says about Russia, “It doesn’t mean we ever trust Russia. We can’t trust Russia and we won’t ever trust Russia.”

Just what is America’s official policy? It is apparent that the US and British media are firmly opposed to Russia, no matter what it does, but surely we should expect an indication of concerted, practical strategy from the highest strata of government?

When we have the US President saying he wants to “work constructively” with Russia and a minion publicly declaring that Russia can’t be trusted, there is obviously a critical problem.

In days gone by, that sort of insubordinate deviance would have been met with instant dismissal. You can’t have a country sending conflicting diplomatic (or undiplomatic) messages to another country with which it has sensitive relations — or, for that matter, to a country which considers it has most amicable relations with Washington, of which a case in point is Australia.

For years Australia has been trying to ingratiate itself with the US by supporting it in its stance of military confrontation against China (a vital Australian trade partner), by, amongst other things, letting the Pentagon establish yet another vast US military base and joining in saber-rattling military exercises. But in February the US President insulted the Australian Prime Minister by abruptly ending a telephone call with him. Sure, the Australian PM seemed to take it lightly when he mimicked Trump during an informal social event, but the damage to US-Australia relations had been done, and the American President has caused many Australians to distrust his country, which is quite an achievement. The messages were mixed, but the damage could have been rectified by a simple apology from Trump for his offensive treatment of Australia’s prime minister. But it is difficult to imagine Trump making a sincere apology for any of his actions or statements.

Which brings us back to his policy towards Russia, which is in self-contradictory tatters.

According to MSN news, Trump tweeted on Sunday July 9 that “Sanctions were not discussed at my meeting with President Putin . . .” But according to the Washington Post (which is not the most dependable source in reporting anything to do with Russia, but in this case seems to be accurate) “Immediately after Friday’s meeting with Vladimir Putin, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the president told his Russian counterpart that members of Congress are pushing for additional sanctions . . .”

No foreign service, no government, no country, can operate effectively in international affairs when there are contradictory statements at such levels about matters of enormous importance. Nobody knows where they stand, and Trump’s tweet fandangos serve only to further complicate US-Russia relations about which there are increasingly grave doubts. The rabid anti-Russia diatribes in the US Senate have made it clear that no matter what Trump might try to do in order to establish cordial relations, both US political parties are inflexible in their determination that no peaceful progress will be permitted.

In order to advance the cause of confrontation, Washington’s politicians feed the media with meaty nuggets of condemnation. Western Intelligence agencies, which work closely with the staffs of the Washington Post and the New York Times (and, in the UK, with the Daily Telegraph ), do their bit in the disinformation process by publishing material based on leaks from “anonymous sources” who provide unverifiable yet ostensibly authoritative snippets of weighty garbage.

There is a major split in government in Washington, with President Trump — of all people — apparently intent on seeking balanced rapprochement with Russia, while the political Establishment and the Pentagon, backed to the hilt by the Fourth Estate, are relentlessly intent on a malevolent campaign of insult, innuendo and increasing military deployment close to Russia’s borders in Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania.

President Trump said “We look forward to a lot of very positive things happening for Russia and the United States and for everybody concerned” which is a positive approach to bilateral relations, echoed by President Putin’s “I’m very glad to be able to meet you personally, and I hope that, as you have said, our meetings will yield positive results.”

Russia’s Foreign Secretary, Sergei Lavrov, told the media the “My feeling is that it’s been confirmed that the presidents, both the Russian and the American, are driven above all by the countries’ national interests and that they understand these interests primarily as looking for mutually beneficial agreements and not trying to act out some confrontation scenarios, not trying to create problems out of nothing.”

You couldn’t have asked for a more positive and constructive approach by both nations, and the talks would indeed have “yielded positive results” had not the entire clique in Washington made it clear that no such thing would be permitted.

The United States is sending mixed messages to Russia, but they are equally clear: on one hand there is desire for mutually beneficial rapprochement and on the other there is determination to intensify military and economic confrontation.  If these conflicts continue, there will be confusion.  If the Washington Warriors succeed in their campaign of malevolent hostility there will be war.

The arteries of diplomatic decency and mutually beneficial compromise are being blocked by clots.

Posted in RussiaComments Off on Sending Messages to Russia

US Dems Start Coordinated Bid to Obtain Trump Records, Force Votes on Russia

NOVANEWS
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Sputnik 

WASHINGTON – Democrats in the US House of Representatives have launched a coordinated effort to order the release of records related to President Donald Trump’s alleged ties to Russia and to force floor votes on the matter, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a briefing on Friday.

“Today we are announcing a new coordinated effort to force votes to get answers for the American people. We will force Republicans to take votes on the record… [and] we will expose House Republicans in action for their willful, shameful enabling,” Pelosi told reporters at a joint news conference with eight other lawmakers.

Seven members of Congress announced that they would introduce Resolutions of Inquiry on Friday as part of the coordinated effort.

The goal of the procedural measures is to hold Republicans accountable for their “complicity” with Trump, Pelosi said.

“They [Republicans] have become enablers of the violation of our Constitution, the attack on the integrity of our elections, the security of our country,” Pelosi said.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters said she and other Democrats on the Financial Services Committee introduced a Resolution of Inquiry directing the Treasury secretary to provide any documents related to credit extended by Russian banks or Russian government officials to the president, his immediate family, his associates or his properties and businesses.

In a similar vein, Congressman Bill Pascrell said he would introduce a Resolution of Inquiry to force the release of Trump’s tax returns to the Ways and Means Committee.

Meanwhile, Congressman Joaquin Castro introduced a Resolution of Inquiry directing the Secretary of State to provide Congress with any documents or communications records related to efforts to modify or revoke sanctions against Russia.

“If during the campaign or since the president’s inauguration members of the Trump team have considered altering sanctions on our adversary Russia, Congress and the American people need to know and have a right to know,” Castro told reporters. “House Republicans shouldn’t be providing cover for the administration and its affection for Russia.”

Congresswoman Pramilia Jayapal and Congressman David Cicilline said they would draft a Resolution of Inquiry, as well as letters to the chair of the Judiciary Committee demanding more information about Jared Kusher and Donald Trump Jr,’s affairs and meetings with Russian government officials.

Jayapal said the resolution seeks to expose the full extent of the ties between Donald Trump’s inner circle and the Kremlin.

“I fear that we are witnessing a betrayal of our nation that is unlike anything we have ever seen before in American politics. And we have a responsibility to uncover the truth and to lay the facts bare for all to see and judge for themselves,” Cicilline told reporters.

For her part, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman drafted a Resolution of Inquiry calling on the Department of Homeland Security to provide the House Homeland Security Committee with all documents of payments made by the agency to Trump organizations or Trump family travel in furtherance of Trump family business.

In addition, Congressman Hank Johnson, Ranking Member of the Transportation and Infrastructure, drafted a resolution to force the General Service Administration to produce documents related to a 60-year lease agreement for the Trump Organization to develop the iconic Old Post Office building in Washington.

“We need to ensure that President Trump is not enriching himself while serving in the ultimate position of public trust,” Johnson said.

Republicans are unlikely to back any of the resolutions, but Democrats could use the recorded votes as political fodder during next year’s midterm elections.

The issue of Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election has become a political weapon in Washington, with Democrats seeking to portray Trump and his Republican party as soft on Russia.

Russia has repeatedly denied interference in the US presidential election and has called such allegations absurd and intended to deflect public attention from revealed instances of election fraud and corruption as well as other domestic concerns.

Posted in USA, RussiaComments Off on US Dems Start Coordinated Bid to Obtain Trump Records, Force Votes on Russia

Opposing Zionism is not racism, rules Scottish court

NOVANEWS
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By Yvonne Ridley

In yet another landmark legal victory, members of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign emerged from court victorious today after being accused of racism. Their “crime”? Standing up to Zionism.

The trial ended three years of speculation and pressure for SPSC members whose robust defence of their actions won the day in Glasgow Sherriff’s Court when the verdict was announced on Friday.

Four days of evidence and cross-examinations earlier this month focussed on the actions of two SPSC members who faced charges of racism and aggravated trespass for a protest against Israeli company Jericho cosmetics, which operates around the Dead Sea in the occupied West Bank. The protest was held in the wake of Israel’s 2014 military offensive against Palestinian civilians besieged in the Gaza Strip. More than 2,200 Palestinians were killed by the Israelis during the offensive, including 550 children, before in the war ended on 26 August. During the demonstration on 13 September 2014, the SPSC protesters denounced the killings.

Police were called to the shopping centre where the protest was being held, leading to the arrest of the two SPSC members accused of racism. “In other words,” explained Mick Napier, one of those arrested, “we were accused of being motivated by hatred of Israelis rather than opposition to Israel’s repeated massacres, apartheid across the whole of Palestine and genocidal violence in Gaza.”

During the Glasgow trial, the SPSC was buoyed by a High Court ruling in London that the Conservative government in Westminster acted unlawfully when it tried to prevent local councils in Britain from divesting from companies involved in Israel’s military occupation. The successful legal challenge for the right to boycott was brought by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in London, supported by War on Want, the Campaign Against the Arms Trade and the Quakers.

However, Napier wasn’t convinced that the result of the latest trial was a foregone conclusion. “Given their past record, we felt it was unlikely that even this High Court ruling in favour of BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions] would stop Scottish prosecutors’ related efforts to criminalise the campaign in support of Palestinian freedom.”

The prosecutor — called the Procurator Fiscal in the Scottish legal system — claimed in open court that the two accused in the Glasgow case were recycling an ancient anti-Semitic “Jewish blood libel” by speaking about Israeli mass murder of Palestinians. The Procurator Fiscal’s office made these claims, said Napier, while the violated people of Gaza “were still looking for ice-cream freezers and vegetable refrigerators in which to store the bodies of children killed by Israel’s military.”

In their testimony last month, Napier and his co-accused Jim Watson both rejected the claims made by prosecution witnesses, a Chief Inspector of police, the manager of the Jericho stall and two local Zionist activists. The prosecution claim was that staff were intimidated by “racist” placards and the shouting of “racist abuse”; this was the description of the SPSC’s criticism of the pro-Israel counter-demonstrators for supporting Israel’s most recent massacre of Palestinians.

The “racist” placard with which the Procurator Fiscal and Zionist witnesses took particular issue was a symbolic but graphic image of blood dripping under the name “Dead Sea cosmetics”. Napier pointed out that at the time of their protest, the UN Secretary-General was describing Israel’s massacre of thousands of Palestinians as a “moral outrage and criminal act” and a “gross violation of humanitarian law.”

“When the Scottish government joined in by denouncing the ‘deep inhumanity’ of the Israeli massacre,” noted Napier, “the Scottish procurators fiscal were working hand in glove with pro-Israel lobby groups to silence voices of Palestine solidarity.”

The SPSC has faced repeated efforts by pro-Israel lobbyists and Scottish prosecutors to criminalise the group’s pro-Palestine activities. The Zionist record to-date is one of almost total failure; legal action has failed to secure any convictions of pro-Palestine activists. “There was, however, a consolation prize [for the Zionists] when we were both found guilty of refusing to leave the shopping centre when asked to do so by the police,” said Napier. “I was also convicted of aggravated trespass for protesting inside the shopping centre. We will be appealing against both convictions so any celebrations by the Zionists will, I suggest, be a bit premature.”

In February last year, two employees of the pro-Israel Community Security Trust made allegations against SPSC members but that was also thrown out by Kilmarnock Sheriff Court when the Sheriff ruled that the crime as alleged had not taken place. “Had we not had the benefit of an Al-Jazeera Arabic language broadcast of the protest where the CST tried to secure an assault conviction there might have been a different outcome,” added Mick Napier.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, UKComments Off on Opposing Zionism is not racism, rules Scottish court

Nazi Once Again Reveals Its Disdain for Freedom of the Press

NOVANEWS
Israel Once Again Reveals Its Disdain for Freedom of the Press
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By Richard Hardigan | CounterPunch 

When Akran Natsheh, a reporter for the Al Quds satellite channel, arrived at his office in Hebron in the morning of Thursday, July 13, he found that several of the doors had been pried open. Shards of wood were everywhere, and papers were strewn about on the floor. It certainly looked like an ordinary robbery, but then he found that several of his hard drives had been removed. His suspicions about the perpetrators were confirmed when one of his co-workers showed him the note he found posted on the front door by the Israeli army. It indicated that the offices had been stormed because “Al Quds serves an illegal organization.”

Natsheh looked at me with exasperation. “What does that even mean?” he complained. “When another news organization was raided, they were told it was because of incitement to violence.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regularly claims that Israel is the only true democracy in the Middle East, but its commitment to one of democracy’s fundamental tenets – freedom of an independent press – leaves a great deal to be desired.

Mada, the Palestinian Center for Media and Development Freedoms, is an organization that monitors violations in the Palestinian Territories by both the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority. For example, it states in its annual 2017 report that while “2016 witnessed a relatively significant decrease in total number of violations monitored against media freedoms in Palestine compared to 2015,” there will still 383 violations, including “the murder of a media student at Al-Quds University … by Israeli Occupation Forces, [the] injuring and arresting of dozens of Palestinian journalists, [and the] raiding, confiscating and sabotaging [of] media outlets including the shutdown of 12 Palestinian media outlets and printing houses.”

When I asked Natsheh about the value of the items destroyed by the soldiers, he shrugged.

“Maybe $2000, but the money is not the important part. It is more about the psychological effect. I can buy new hard drives and new doors.” He paused to reflect.

This kind of attack causes self-censorship. Your work becomes something frightening. The challenge becomes bigger and bigger. They may storm this office next week and arrest me, or harass me in the field. Two years ago they shot at journalists during clashes, and so they became afraid to cover them.”

But Natsheh vowed to continue his work.

“We are journalists. We are not inciters. Our mission is to deliver the truth about what happens in Palestine to our audience. This is the mission of all journalists around the world. We all have the same mission, the same values, the same journalistic ethis. If they have anything against any organization, why don’t they go to court? They don’t. They go directly to destroy. If they had a strong narrative, they would not do that. But they don’t. We are just journalists. We just say what we see … You say something they don’t like, and they shut you down. This is the Occupation.”

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, MediaComments Off on Nazi Once Again Reveals Its Disdain for Freedom of the Press


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