Archive | August 6th, 2017

US-led coalition used banned white phosphorus on civilians in Syria 

NOVANEWS

The Syrian foreign ministry has, in correspondence to the United Nations, accused the US-led coalition of new atrocities against its civilians. It includes an attack on hospital in Raqqa and the use of “internationally banned white phosphorus munitions” against the Syrian people.

Renewing its calls to “immediately dissolve” the coalition which Damascus considers illegitimate, the ministry wrote two letters; one addressed to the UN Secretary General and the other to the Chairman of the UN Security Council, Syria’s state news agency SANAreported Sunday.

Citing the ministry statement, the report said the military alliance led by Washington had bombed residential neighborhoods and civilian houses, as well as destroying a national hospital in Raqqa, where the coalition is extensively backing the fight against the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorist group.

Damascus also claimed the coalition had violated international humanitarian law by deploying white phosphorus munitions in its attacks which targeted “innocent Syrian people in the provinces of Raqqa, Hasaka, Aleppo, Deir Ezzor and other Syrian cities,” SANAreported.

Such actions represent war crimes and crimes against humanity, the agency cited the ministry as saying in its communication to the UN.

“Syria renews its call to immediately dissolve the coalition which was established outside the framework of the UN and without requesting permission from the Syrian government,” the statement added.

Responding to the allegations, the coalition said it “routinely conducts strikes” on IS terrorists in Raqqa and also uses white phosphorus in its operations, the US Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF–OIR) acknowledged in an emailed statement to RT.

However, its deployment of the weapons is not against international norms, the joint task force claimed.

“In accordance with the law of armed conflict white phosphorus rounds are used for screening, obscuring, and marking in a way that fully considers the possible incidental effects on civilians and civilian structures,” the CJTF–OIR statement read.

It added that allegations of civilian casualties are being assessed and will be published in a monthly civilian casualty report.

On Saturday, a new series of attacks by the US-led coalition resulted in more civilian deaths in Raqqa, SANA reported. At least 43 civilians were reportedly killed and dozens more injured after airstrikes hit residential neighborhoods in the Syrian city, the news agency said. Mostly women, children and the elderly were among the victims, SANA added.

In its latest assessment of civilian casualties from airstrikes in Iraq and Syria released earlier this week, the US-led coalition claimed 624 people were “unintentionally killed” since the start of the campaign against IS in the region in 2014.

However, the UK-based Airwars group which monitors airstrikes and civilian casualties in Iraq, Libya and Syria based on open-source reports and military figures, contradict this claim. It suggests the civilian death toll in the bombing campaign is much higher. Data collated by the group indicates that more than 4,350 civilians have been killed in US-led military operations since June 2014.

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US Push for Scrapping Nuclear Forces Treaty With Russia ‘Menace for Europe’

NOVANEWS
Sputnik 

US media reported that Congress is preparing several bills, the provisions of which would require the Pentagon to violate the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between the United States and Russia.

According to Politico, the Senate will soon debate a provision in its version of the defense policy bill, which would set aside $65 million and also require the military to reintroduce a missile with a range of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.

The bill in the House of Representatives will point out that while the new missiles would be conventional, they, along with nuclear missiles, would still be considered banned under the nuclear disarmament agreement.

“Encouraged by the signing of the new anti-Russian sanctions, American lawmakers are going straight ahead. It was earlier reported that the State Department and the Pentagon are planning to supply Kiev with lethal arms. But the new initiative [concerning the INF Treaty] is going to have record-breaking negative consequences,” political commentator and analyst Ilya Kharlamov wrote in an op-ed for RIA Novosti.

The INF Treaty is an unlimited duration agreement signed between the US and the Soviet Union. It was signed by US President Ronald Raegan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in December 1987 and came into effect on June 1, 1988.

The treaty prohibits the production, tests and deployment of ground-based ballistic and cruise missiles, with ranges of 500-1,000 km (short-range) and 1,000-5,000 (medium-range). It also eliminated all launchers and ground-based missiles with a range of 500-5,500 km. By summer 1991, the USSR eliminated 1,846 missiles systems while the US – 846 systems. The treaty was implemented in 1991 with inspections carrying on until 2001.

According to Kharlamov, the agreement marked the first real disarmament step by the two powers and contributed a lot to global stability and security. But now the US establishment wants to jeopardize this milestone achievement for the sake of immediate political gains and in the interests of the American defense industry.

“If this is aimed at making America great again then it looks menacing for the whole world, especially for Washington’s allies in Europe. The White House has not endorsed the initiative so far. But Congress will push Trump to take new measures to ‘deter’ Russia. If he refuses to do so this may be interpreted as evidence of Trump’s alleged ties to the Russian government,” Kharlamov suggested.

Meanwhile, commenting on the report, the Kremlin said that Russia remains committed to the INF Treaty and expects the same from its partner.

“Russia remains committed to its obligations under this treaty, despite some claims which were voiced before. Of course, we expect that our partners under this agreement will adhere to their international obligations in this context,” Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told journalist, adding that the president of the two countries did not discuss the issue.

The US announced an initiative on revising the INF Treaty for the first time in February in order to stop alleged Russian violations of the agreement. The Intermediate-Range Forces Treaty Preservation Act was proposed by Republican Senators Tom Cotton, Ron Johnson and Marco Rubio and supported by Republican members of the House of Representatives, Ted Poe and Mike Rogers, who introduced the bill to the lower chamber.

In turn, Russia has repeatedly said that Moscow remains committed to the deal and that Moscow has never violated the agreement.

Moreover, in February, Trump expressed doubt that the key strategic deals between the US and Russia, including the INF Treaty and the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), are profitable for Washington.

In an interview with Reuters, Trump said, “I am the first one that would like to see everybody – nobody have nukes, but we’re going to fall behind any country even if it’s friendly country, we’re never going to fall behind on nuclear power.”

According to Politico, advocates of the new bill believe that the move would be a response to Russia’s alleged violations of the bilateral accord. At the same time, opponents say that it could increase the chance of a nuclear confrontation at a time when relations between Washington and Moscow are at their lowest level since the end of the Cold War.

Plekhanov suggested that despite the opposition to the initiative in Washington the majority of US lawmakers advocate for a more hardline approach on Russia.

In addition, the US eyes developing a next-generation intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which costs an estimated $85 billion.

“Of course, this would be a honeypot for American defense companies. The current geopolitical situation also favors this idea. The defense industry would have lucrative contracts while Washington policymakers would have the chance to drag Russia into a new arms race,” Kharlamov concluded.

READ ALSO:
Killing INF Treaty to Unleash New Nuclear Arms Race – Ex-Pentagon Official
Trump Would Engage With Russia on Arms Control, Maintain Nuclear Superiority – Adviser

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Nazi regime to expel Al Jazeera, block broadcasts & revoke journalists’ credentials

NOVANEWS

Israel has announced plans to effectively expel the Al Jazeera network from the country, revoking journalists’ credentials, shutting the company’s bureau in Jerusalem and pulling its broadcasts from national cable and satellite television networks.

Israeli Communications Minister Ayoub Kara announced the measures Sunday at a news conference. Journalists and representatives from Al Jazeera were not permitted to attend.

“We are going to set measures in order to illustrate our war on terrorism, on radical Islam and our solidarity with the sane Arab world,” Kara stated.

While the proposal will not take immediate effect, Kara confirmed that both the Arabic and English versions of the news channel will be shuttered once the proposal is passed in the Knesset (Israel’s parliament).

“I am the only one [in government] who is an Arabic speaker, who understands Arabic and my native language is Arabic. You cannot fool me with Al Jazeera English and Al Jazeera Arabic. I know how to identify how disturbing reporting becomes incitement instead of being free speech,” he added.

Kara claimed that such extreme measures are ostensibly intended to improve journalistic practice in the country by creating “a situation that channels based in Israel will report objectively.”

“We have based our decision on the move by Sunni Arab states to close the Al Jazeera offices and prohibiting their work.”

“I congratulate the Minister of communications, Ayoob for my guidance took today in line with practical steps to stop the activity of incitement in Israel,” Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said of Kara’s proposal on Twitter.

In July, Netanyahu announced that he was working to shut down the network which he accuses of stoking tensions and inciting violence in Israel, particularly at the al-Aqsa mosque where six Palestinians and five Israelis, including two police officers, have been killed in recent clashes.

“This attack on Al Jazeera is really an attack on all critical independent journalism.” Aidan White, director of the London-based Ethical Journalism Network told Al Jazeera.

The network’s offices in the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank city of Ramallah would not be affected.

The network will not give up its Jerusalem bureau without a fight, however.

“Al Jazeera deplores this action from a state that is called the only democratic state in the Middle East and considers what it has done is dangerous,” an unnamed official with Al Jazeera told the AFP.

The broadcaster “will follow up the subject through appropriate legal and judicial procedures,” he added.

Saudi Arabia and Jordan have both shut Al Jazeera bureaux this year as part of the ongoing ‘cold war’ playing out in the Gulf, which culminated in the full blockade of Qatar.

Egypt banned the Al Jazeera network and several other websites that were critical of the government in May and broadcasts have also been blocked in the UAE.

Posted in Middle East, ZIO-NAZI, Media, QatarComments Off on Nazi regime to expel Al Jazeera, block broadcasts & revoke journalists’ credentials

US court overturns prison sentences of Blackwater mercs in 2007 Baghdad killing

NOVANEWS

A federal appeals court in the United States has overturned lengthy prison sentences for three former Blackwater Worldwide mercenaries and ordered a new trial for a fourth involved in the 2007 killings of more than a dozen of unarmed Iraqi civilians, including women and children.

The Blackwater employees had been charged with killing 14 Iraqi civilians and wounding 18 others using gunfire and grenades at a busy Baghdad intersection on September 16, 2007. An FBI agent once described the atrocity as the “My Lai massacre of Iraq.”

Three mercenaries Dustin L. Heard, Evan S. Liberty and Paul A. Slough were convicted in 2014 of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter and using a machine gun – a military weapon — to carry out an atrocity.

They were sentenced to 30 years in prison. They received the enhanced penalty because they were also convicted of using military firearms while committing a felony.

A fourth mercenary, Nicholas A. Slatten, was convicted of murder and received a life sentence.

On Friday, the three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the trial court “abused its discretion” in not allowing Slatten to be tried separately from his three co-defendants, despite the fact that Slatten fired the first shots in the massacre.

The court also found that the 30-year terms of the three other convicts violated the constitutional prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishment.”

“We are gratified that the Court recognized the gross injustice of the 30-year mandatory minimum sentences,” Heard’s attorney, David Schertler, said in a statement. Attorneys for the three other men refused to respond to the ruling.

A large number of Iraqi witnesses had testified in the case in what the Justice Department said was likely to be “the largest group of foreign witnesses ever to travel to the United States for a criminal trial.”

Blackwater Worldwide, which is now known as Academi and is based in McLean, Virginia, is the most notorious private security firm that had operated in Iraq.

Many Iraqis believe the US military allowed Blackwater mercenaries to commit numerous war crimes against their compatriots with impunity.

Posted in USA, IraqComments Off on US court overturns prison sentences of Blackwater mercs in 2007 Baghdad killing

Hiroshima – A Criminal Enterprise From Which Nothing Has Been Learned

NOVANEWS
By Felicity Arbuthnot 

When Paul Tibbets was thirteen years old he flew a bi-plane over Florida’s Miami Beach dropping a promotional cargo of Babe Ruth Candy Bars directly on to the promotional target area, in an advertising stunt. It was his first solo flight and: “From that moment he became hooked on flying.”

He became a test pilot and: “one of the first Americans to fly in world War Two.” Seventeen years later he had graduated from dropping Candy Bars to dropping the world’s first atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

Thirty years later, the now retired Brigadier-General Paul Warfield Tibbets Junior (image right) told authors Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan-Witts, for their minutely detailed and definitive book (1) on one of the world’s greatest crimes, of the background to the venture.  Most would surely conclude it was a criminal project from the start, on every level.

Tibbets told the authors:

“I got called on this bomb job … I was told I was going to destroy one city with one bomb. That was quite a thought … We had, working in my organization, a murderer, three men guilty of manslaughter and several felons; all of them had escaped from prison.

“The murderer was serving life; the manslaughter guys were doing ten to fifteen years; the felons three to five. After escaping they had enlisted under false names. They were all skilled technicians … They were all good, real good at their jobs and we needed ‘em. We told them that if they gave us no trouble, they would have no trouble from us.

“After it was over, we called each of them in and handed them their dossiers and a box of matches and said ‘Go burn ‘em.’ You see, I was not running a police department, I was running an outfit that was unique.”

The crime which the “oufit” committed was also unique, making the odd murder, manslaughter or felony on home soil pale in to insignificance in comparison.

In Hiroshima, a millisecond after 8.16 a.m., on 6th August 1945, the temperature at the core of the hundreds of feet wide fireball reached 50,000,000 degrees. Flesh burned two miles distant from it’s outer parameters.

80,000 people were killed or mortally injured instantly. The main area targeted was “the city’s principal residential, commercial and military quarters.”

The entrance to the Shima Clinic was flanked by great stone columns – “They were rammed straight down in to the ground.” The building was destroyed: “The occupants were vapourised.”

Just three of the city’s fifty five hospitals remained usable, one hundred and eighty of Hiroshima’s two hundred doctors were dead or injured and 1,654 of 1,780 nurses.

Sixty two thousand buildings were destroyed as all utilities and transportation systems. Just sixteen fire fighting vehicles remained workable.

People standing, walking, the schoolgirls manning the communications centre in Hiroshima Castle and ninety percent of the castle’s occupants, including American prisoners of war, were also vapourised. Gives a whole new meaning to the US military’s much vaunted “No soldier left behind.”

“The radiant heat set alight Radio Hiroshima, burnt out the tramcars, trucks, railway rolling stock.

“Stone walls, steel doors and asphalt pavement glowed red hot.” Clothing fused to skin. “More than a mile from the epicenter” mens’ caps fused to their scalps, womens’ kimonos to their bodies and childrens’ socks to their legs. All the above decimations happened in the time a crew member of the US bomber, “Enola Gay”, took to blink from the flash behind his goggles. What he saw when he opened them and looked down was, he said : “a peep in to hell.”

At home base, as Hiroshima was incinerated, a party was being prepared to welcome the arsonists. ”The biggest blow out” with free beer, all star soft ball game, a jitter bug contest, prizes, star attractions, a movie and the cooks working overtime to prepare a sumptuous fare.

Hiroshima’s destruction had a uranium-based detonation. Three days later on 9th August, Nagasaki was destroyed by a plutonium-based detonation to ascertain which would be the most “effective” in the new nuclear age warfare.

Not even a nod or thought had been given to the Hague Convention which had very specific legal guidelines to protection of civilians in war. One might speculate that Hiroshima also vapourised any pretention of such considerations for all time, in spite the subsequent Geneva Convention and it’s additional protocols.

In May this year, President Obama visited Hiroshima, he said (2): “Seventy-one years ago, on a bright cloudless morning, death fell from the sky and the world was changed. A flash of light and a wall of fire destroyed a city and demonstrated that mankind possessed the means to destroy itself.

“Why do we come to this place, to Hiroshima? We come to ponder a terrible force unleashed in a not-so-distant past. We come to mourn the dead, including over 100,000 Japanese men, women and children, thousands of Koreans, a dozen Americans held prisoner.

“Their souls speak to us. They ask us to look inward, to take stock of who we are and what we might become.”

Obama ended his Hiroshima address with: “Those who died, they are like us. Ordinary people understand this, I think. They do not want more war. They would rather that the wonders of science be focused on improving life and not eliminating it. When the choices made by nations, when the choices made by leaders, reflect this simple wisdom, then the lesson of Hiroshima is done.”

For a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and a constitutional law expert, his words are especially cheap. The man who began his Presidency with a public commitment to build a nuclear weapons free world (speech in Czech Republic, 5th April 2009) has, mind bendingly, committed to a thirty year, one Trillion $ nuclear arsenal upgrade. (3)

The epitaph at Hiroshima was written by Tadayoshi Saika, Professor of English Literature at Hiroshima University. He also provided the English translation, “Let all the souls here rest in peace for we shall not repeat the evil.”

On November 3, 1983, an explanation plaque in English was added in order to convey Professor Saika’s intent that “we” refers to “all humanity”, not specifically the Japanese or Americans, and that the “error” is the “evil of war”:

“The inscription on the front panel offers a prayer for the peaceful repose of the victims and a pledge on behalf of all humanity never to repeat the evil of war. It expresses the spirit of Hiroshima – enduring grief, transcending hatred, pursuing harmony … and yearning for genuine, lasting world peace.” (Wikipedia.)

Did President Obama have a twinge of conscience as he read it? Or did he even bother? He is surely amongst the most unworthy of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates. And will the rest of the world heed the words, the pledge and the spirit, before it is too late?

Notes

  1. Ruin From The Air, The Atomic Mission to Hiroshima: ISBN 0-586-06705-1
  2. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/28/world/asia/text-of-president-obamas-speech-in-hiroshima-japan.html?_r=0
  3. http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/162279

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The New York Times Pushes Propaganda War Against Russia

NOVANEWS
By Sic Semper Tyrannis | Turcopelier 

There is no longer any doubt that the New York Times is nothing more than a willing cog in the establishment war machine and is happy to serve as a propaganda platform. While there are times that newspapers and electronic media outlets are unwitting dupes for propaganda, the article penned by Michael Gordon and Eric Schmitt (published on 31 July 2017) is the work of willing puppets masquerading as journalists:

Russia’s Military Drills Near NATO Border Raise Fears of Aggression

This screed starts with this piece of artful dishonesty:

Russia is preparing to send as many as 100,000 troops to the eastern edge of NATO territory at the end of the summer, one of the biggest steps yet in the military buildup undertaken by President Vladimir V. Putin and an exercise in intimidation that recalls the most ominous days of the Cold War.

Since when is it an act of “aggression” for a country–Russia in this case–to conduct military exercises in its own territory? Gordon and Schmitt also conveniently omit the facts that the United States has been engaged in a variety of military exercises on the border of Russia for the last year. Yet, rather than acknowledge that truth, Gordon and Schmitt push the lie that this is an unprovoked action by a militaristic Russia hell bent on conquering the world.

How else is one to interpret the following quotes:

The military exercise . . . .is part of a larger effort by Mr. Putin to shore up Russia’s military prowess, and comes against the backdrop of an increasingly assertive Russia. Beyond Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election in support of the Trump campaign, which has seized attention in the United States, its military has in recent years deployed forces to Syria, seized Crimea and intervened in eastern Ukraine, rattled the Baltic States with snap exercises and buzzed NATO planes and ships. . . .

“There is only one reason you would create a Guards Tank Army, and that is as an offensive striking force,” General Hodges said. “This is not something for homeland security. That does not mean that they are automatically going to do it, but in terms of intimidation it is a means of putting pressure on allies.”

If you read only this article you would be excused for assuming that Russia is on the prowl for no good reason. Fortunately, our media is not totally subservient to the war machine. NPR reported last week that the United States is actually carrying out the largest military operations on Russia’s border in 27 years:

The U.S. and NATO are staging their largest military exercises since the end of the Cold War, and they’re doing it in countries of 3 former members of the Warsaw Pact: Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary.

DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: Yes, I did. This is all part of what’s been called the European Deterrence Initiative, and it’s a reinforcement of U.S. forces that had been depleted in Eastern Europe before Russia annexed Crimea three years ago. And as part of this sort of hardening of the U.S. presence here, there was an armored combat brigade team of about 4,000 Army troops from Fort Carson, Colo., that arrived here in Eastern Europe early this year. And they’re here in Romania, and they’re taking part in military exercises along with about 20,000 other troops.

On Saturday, I was in the Carpathian Mountains, and I watched a pretty impressive live fire, land and air assault there on an imagined enemy. And then yesterday, along the banks of the Danube River here, there was another assault staged to retake the other side of the river from another imagined enemy.

GREENE: You keep saying imagined enemy. Who is the imagined enemy?

WELNA: Well, no doubt it’s Russia. And, you know, while this wasn’t really a D-Day invasion along the Danube – there was no fire return from the other side – there was a lot of sound and fury. And here’s a bit of what it sounded like.

The US military exercise is dubbed Saber Guardian:

Exercise Saber Guardian 17 is a U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe-led annual exercise taking place in Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria in the summer of 2017. This exercise involves more than 25,000 service members from over 20 ally and partner nations. The largest of the Black Sea Region exercises, Saber Guardian 17 is a premier training event for U.S. Army Europe and participating nations that will build readiness and improve interoperability under a unified command, executing a full range of military missions to support the security and stability of the Black Sea Region. It is deterrence in action.

Some of the more notable aspects of SG17 include: the massing of 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division (3/4ID) from several locations across the Operation Atlantic Resolve area of operation to the exercise joint operations area (JOA) in Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria; and the movement of 2nd Cavalry Regiment (2CR) from Vilseck, Germany, to numerous locations throughout the JOA.

But that’s not all.  The United States also has been busy in the Baltics in early June 2017:

The U.S.’s European Command, which is based in Germany, said Thursday it had deployed an unspecified number of F-16 Fighting Falcons from Aviano Air Base in Italy to the Krzesiny Air Base in Poland in support of Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) and Saber Strike, two massive annual drills intended to boost the U.S.’s military presence in Europe and to support regional allies. European Command’s statement came a day after it said a number of B-1B Lancers had been sent from Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota to join three B-52H Stratofortresses at the Royal Air Force base in Fairford, U.K. Meanwhile, 800 U.S. airmen in Europe were poised to train with NATO allies this month as the Western military alliance escalates its rivalry with Russia.

And there was US activity in Poland in January:

U.S. troops arrived in the small town of Drawsko Pomorskie, Poland, as part of the largest armed military brigade deployed in Europe since the end of the Cold War.

The U.S. troops, along with 53 track vehicles, including the M109 Paladin self-propelled howitzer, reached Poland after a three-day journey through Germany. The show of force falls under Operation Atlantic Resolve, designed to show the United States’ commitment to its European allies in the face of what NATO sees as Russian aggression.

This is not a comprehensive list. If you take time to do further research you will discover that the United States military in tandem with other countries has carried out several military exercises from the Black Sea in the south, all along the western border of Russia and in the Baltic Sea in the north.

If you are Russia and you are witnessing repeated deployments of U.S. infantry, armor, air and naval units on the frontier that produced that last military invasion of Russia (which left at least 20 million dead) would you sit back and do nothing?

What would the United States do if Russia managed to convince Mexico to sign a mutual defense treaty and then proceeded to conduct tank and military air exercises along our southern border? Would we do nothing?

Gordon and Schmitt are an embarrassment to the profession of journalism. Rather than actually report facts and place them in their proper context, they chose instead to push lies as truth and try to help shape public opinion into believing that Russia poses an imminent threat to the west.

One other point worth remembering–Russia spends $60 billion annually on defense spending while the United States is slated for $650 billion. How much is the US spending on just EUCOM exercises targeted at Russia? Sadly, there is bipartisan stupidity and ignorance when it comes to the issue of properly assessing Russia and the threat it does (or does not) pose to the United States. My cynical conclusion is that as long as Russia is portrayed as the great Red menace bent on world domination we can justify spending $650 billion dollars to thwart an invasion that is not coming.

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Russia, China call for freeze on both N. Korea launches & South’s drills with US 

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Moscow and Beijing are against any missile launches carried out by North Korea and are at the same time calling on the US to halt military drills in the region, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says.

The statement comes following Lavrov’s meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, in the Philippines capital, Manila on Sunday. The ministers discussed the situation in the Korean Peninsula following the adoption of new sanctions on North Korea by the UN Security Council.

Lavrov said Russia and China have already suggested a roadmap to resolve the Korean crisis.

“Our joint initiative includes support of Russia’s proposal to create a roadmap for gradual restoration of trust and provide conditions for the resumption of the Six-Party talks. We have agreed to promote this concept in practice, including in the UN,” Lavrov said after the meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Manila.

Previously, Wang called the new restrictive measures against Pyongyang “a necessary response” aimed at “blocking North Korea’s nuclear missile development,” as cited by the South China Morning Post. He added that sanctions are not the “ultimate goal” and called for the resumption the so-called six party talks, as the situation on the Korean Peninsula “has come to a very critical juncture.”

“Sanctions are needed but are not the ultimate goal. The purpose is to pull the peninsula nuclear issue back to the negotiating table, and seek a final solution to realize the peninsula’s denuclearization and long-term stability,” Wang said.

Lavrov reiterated the joint Russian-Chinese initiative for “double freezing” which had previously been rejected by the US. The initiative, put forward by the Russian and Chinese foreign ministers on July 4, would freeze “any missile launches and any nuclear tests in North Korea,” as well as “large-scale military exercises by the United States and South Korea,” Lavrov said.

The Russian foreign minister also said that the new resolution seeks to bring the North Korean leadership to the negotiating table – the six-party talks – while the restrictive measures are designed to make Pyongyang curb its missile and nuclear programs in accordance with UN resolutions.

On Saturday night, the UN Security Council unanimously agreed to impose more restrictive measures on Pyongyang, banning exports of coal, iron, lead, and seafood. The move came in response to North Korea’s latest missile launches in July, which it, as well as South Korea and the US, claimed were intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests.

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Nicaragua: Global ‘False’ Witness

NOVANEWS
By Tortilla con Sal | teleSUR 

Global Witness is a well-established environmental and human rights non-governmental organization based in Britain.

As with many other similar organizations, its reports often figure in news media as authoritative sources on international issues. Ever since the 1980s and, increasingly so, after the turn of the century, the status of NGOs as trustworthy information sources on foreign affairs has become increasingly untenable as they have been more and more co-opted by corporate interests and governments to promote the Western elites’ neocolonial global policy agenda.

In the case of Nicaragua, in 2016 Global Witness produced a brief, flawed and unreliable account of land conflicts in Nicaragua’s Northern Caribbean Autonomous Region in a report called “On Dangerous Ground”. In June 2017, they produced a report called “Defenders of the Earth”, with a section on Nicaragua even more poorly researched and false than the previous one. Three main reasons stand out to dismiss the latest Global Witness report on Nicaragua as unreliable and in bad faith.

Firstly, the report itself is clearly biased and flawed, from even a cursory analysis of its references and their sources by anyone familiar with Nicaragua. Secondly, the organization’s human and material resources all come from a very narrow managerial class and corporate funding base, overwhelmingly advocating the foreign policy positions of the United States government and its allies. Thirdly, the history of Global Witness clearly indicates its categorical bias in favor of NATO country governments’ policy positions in the countries that figure in its reports and too its systemic defense of the very corporate capitalism whose destructive effects Global Witness superficially and selectively criticizes.

Global Witness sources on Nicaragua

Before looking at the text of the false Global Witness attack on Nicaragua, it is worth looking at the sources they identify in their footnotes, of which there are 23, composed of a total of 44 references. For anyone familiar with Nicaraguan politics and society since the war of the 1980s many of the sources are wearily familiar and readily identifiable as anti-Sandinista, for example, the virulently anti-Sandinista La Prensa newspaper. Some of the references are duplicates and some disguise the fact that while apparently distinct, ultimately the information they provide comes from one single source. (Here’s a link to the relevant spreadsheet for anyone interested in a more detailed analysis.)

Of the 44 references, some of which are duplicates, not one represents the view of the Nicaraguan authorities or others criticized in the report or any source sympathetic to them. 16 references are to sources inside Nicaragua politically opposed to the Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. 25 of the sources are external to Nicaragua but with a long record identifying them as ideologically opposed to the Sandinista government. Of those 25 sources, one might argue that the Washington-based Interamerican Commission for Human Rights or the EFE Spanish language news agency are impartial, but their record is indisputably biased against Nicaragua’s Sandinista authorities.

For all but imperialist ideologues, the Paris based International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) has been discredited in particular, most recently, by its flagrant partisan bias in favor of NATO country government policies attacking the populations of Libya and Syria. One source, a reference to the law authorizing Nicaragua’s Canal, is completely neutral. Only one media source, El Nuevo Diario, is generally independent. Two references are to sources within the Western environmental scientific lobby, which has its own set of highly questionable biases, prejudices and neocolonial hypocrisy.

“Methodology”

As if by way of justifying this desperately unfair selection of sources, Global Witness also offer an account of what they call their “methodology”. They aver, “We have recorded data about the cases using the HURIDOCS Event Standard Formats and Micro-Thesauri, an approach which is widely used to manage and analyse material of this nature.”

That Global Witness claim is demonstrably untrue. Whatever their aspirations they certainly did not use the HURIDOCS approach.

HURIDOCS (Human Rights Information and Documentation Systems, International) is a European NGO established in 1982 to facilitate networking between human rights organizations around the world. HURIDOCS says its ‟specific role in this capacity-building process lies in improving access to and the dissemination of human rights information through more effective, appropriate and compatible methods and techniques of information handling. HURIDOCS recognises that we live in an age of tremendous advances in information and communication technologies. There is the need to master these technologies to aid us in our human rights work. At the same time, we must be conscious of the fact that the technologies to be applied should be appropriate and responsive to the main focus of the mandates of human rights organisation.”

HURIDOCS exposition of their approach includes the following definitions:

Fact-finding is the process of identifying the violations in one event, and establishing the facts relevant to these violations. Fact-finding and investigation are terms that are used interchangeably.

Documentation is the process of systematically recording the results of an investigation or fact-finding in relation to an event or number of events. Fact-finding and documentation are organically related and should not be viewed as separate processes.

Monitoring is closely observing a given situation in society over a long period of time to see whether human rights standards are met. To carry out monitoring, investigation and documentation of a large and/or representative number of events are conducted.”

Global Witness are not in compliance with the HURIDOCS approach because their practice in their reporting on Nicaragua demonstrably violates all of these definitions.

Their fact-finding or investigation is so heavily biased as to make it impossible for them to establish the facts. Consequently, thanks to this gross fact finding bias, their documentation is partial, often inaccurate and categorically incomplete. Nor do they show any sign of having done due diligence in monitoring consistently over time via ” investigation and documentation of a large and/or representative number of events” or the context of those events in Nicaragua.

Other theoretical considerations

Apart from these chronic procedural failures, other theoretical considerations cry out for clarification.

Global Witness say, “This report is based on research on killings and enforced disappearances of land and environmental defenders, who we define as people who take peaceful action to protect land or environmental rights”.

But in a bitter property dispute between competing communities, clarifying who is defending whose rights becomes a fundamentally important question. Certainly in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast, unscrupulous Miskito community leaders are themselves involved in provoking these property disputes by illegally selling land to rural families migrating in search of a better life. Miskito gangs have attacked and murdered many such people, a factor not even mentioned by Global Witness. They completely evade the issue of identifying in a responsible, proportionate way whose rights are being violated.

Similarly, Global Witness state, “cases were identified by searching and reviewing reliable sources of publicly online information”. But  Global Witness obviously used heavily politicized criteria for deciding what is a reliable source, because not one single reference in their report on Nicaragua gives the Nicaraguan authorities’ side of the story and only one reference can fairly be described as ideologically independent. That renders completely incredible the phony Global Witness claim to systematic research.

They claim their investigation is systematic because “We set up search engine alerts using keywords and conducted other searches online to identify relevant cases across the world.” However, in the case of a small country like Nicaragua, a genuinely systematic search can readily be done covering a much wider range of sources than those accessed by Global Witness without recourse to modish, geeky “search engine alerts”. The poverty of sources evident in the report’s footnotes make Global Witness’s procedure look ridiculous.

Global Witness claim they “verify” the results of their investigation because “Where possible, we checked with in-country or regional partners to gather further information”. But they only cross-checked with ideologically and politically biased organizations, apparently using the same highly questionable, politically compromised sources they cite in their report.

Karl Popper, philosophical darling of the Open Society ideology embraced by Global Witness, explained over 50 years ago in “Conjectures and Refutations”  that verification is essentially authoritarian. He argued that a truly scientific investigation requires conjecture and falsification, a search for errors rather than for  justification.

If one goes along with Popper, it should surprise no one that Global Witness uses an essentially authoritarian methodology. Self-evidently, their job is not to discover the facts or to impartially establish the truth via a hypothetic-deductive Popper-style process , but to project a manipulative version of events justifying ideologically loaded interpretations favored by their corporate funders, an inherent bias understandably unacknowledged by Global Witness.

Nor is it surprising to learn from their account of their methodology, “While we have made every effort to identify and investigate cases in line with the methodology and criteria, it is important to add that our research mostly relies on public information and that we have not been able to conduct detailed national-level searches in all countries.”

That is not true either. Gobal Witness did not make “every effort” to investigate cases in line with their alleged methodology and criteria because they are flagrantly out of compliance with the definitions advanced by HURIDOCS.

A broader range of sources

Nor is is true that they were unable to conduct a detailed national-level search in the case of Nicaragua, because they could easily have included references from sources that contradict much of the information in the Global Witness report. The following is a brief sample of many other relevant sources, gleaned in a few hours searching on the Internet :

– Indigenous group splits from Miskito party in support of Sandinista government
– Attacks by indigenous gangs on settlers, killing nine
– Miskitos claim their own leaders illegally sold over 3000 acres of communal lands to outsiders
– Historic lease agreement between Canal Authority and indigenous people along the canal route
– Interview with HKND’s Bill Wild about the benefits of the Interoceanic Canal
– HKND’s Bill Wild on the Environmental and Social Impact Study
– Environmentalist Kamilo Lara explains why he believes in Nicaragua’s Interoceanic Canal
– Nicaragua’s Canal – the environmental and economic arguments
– Public Consultation on Lake Nicaragua for the Interoceanic Canal project
– Environmental and Social Impact Assessment of Nicaragua’s Interoceanic Canal – Conclusions and Recommendations
– Bishop accuses political opposition of manipulating canal protests
– Canal protestors attack and injure six police officers

Even this very limited sample of sources, put together from just a few hours searching on the Internet, gives a very different picture to the one presented by Global Witness. So it is false of Global Witness to suggest they lack the resources to be able to stress test and falsify the version of events they have published in their report. Given the tremendous resources and the numerous skilled, experienced, talented people working at Global Witness, only abject intellectual dishonesty explains their failure to report faithfully on Nicaragua

Incoherent claims

Be that as it may, based on their cynically biased sources and their absurdly deficient methodology, Global Witness proceed in their report to make the following claims:

11 defenders killed in 2016 – making Nicaragua the most dangerous country in the world per capita

But, as independent journalist John Perry and others have pointed out, none of those people killed can fairly be described as having being killed for defending the environment. They were in property disputes and all of them were killed either directly or indirectly  in the course of those property conflicts. This is true in particular of the case cited by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (CIDH) , that of Bernicia Dixon Peralta, her husband Feliciano Benlis Flores and their 11 year old son Feliciano Benlis Dixon. Perry mentions some of the context. More context of the property disputes in the RAAN can be found herehere and here. Not a single person mentioned by Global Witness died in Nicaragua for defending the environment in the way that someone like Berta Cáceres did. Even so Global Witness have tended disingenuously to implicitly compare the situation in Nicaragua with that in Honduras, in particular with Berta’s murder.

The bad faith with which they do so is clear from the second claim in their report on Nicaragua:

10 of those murdered were indigenous people, with most killed in conflicts with settler communities over land. Meanwhile rural ‘campesino’ defenders faced threats, harassment and attacks, including for opposing the construction of an inter-oceanic canal.

Global Witness fails to make clear that groups from the indigenous Miskito people, whom Global Witness inaccurately portray as defenseless environmental defenders, are themselves guilty of murderous attacks against migrants settling land which in many cases the migrants apparently believed they had bought legitimately. Furthermore, the Global Witness report deliberately and falsely confuses the very specific situation of these property conflicts in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast with protests over the possible displacement of communities along the still to be exactly defined route of the proposed Inter-oceanic Canal 300 kilometers to the south. Global Witness unscrupulously frame their distorted version of events in the two regions to give the impression that in both cases the Nicaraguan authorities may in some way be directly or indirectly responsible for the violence.

In fact, even the New York Times has acknowledged in their otherwise generally hostile anti-Sandinista reporting that the Nicaraguan authorities do what they can with limited resources to protect the rights of indigenous peoples in the Northern Carribean Autonomous Region.

The situation along the route of the Canal is very different from that in the RAAN. Protests against the Canal are exploited by Nicaragua’s political opposition and groups participating in the protest demonstrations have damaged property and attacked police officers. In relation to this situation, completely separate from the property disputes more than 300km to the north, Global Witness claims:

Activists were increasingly criminalized: foreign environmentalists were expelled, community leaders arrested and legislation passed restricting freedoms of speech and association.

However in the very next paragraph, the report quotes anti-Canal activist Francisca Ramirez saying, ““We have carried out 87 marches, demanding that they respect our rights and we have had no response. The only response we have had is the bullet.”

Thus, the Global Witness allegation that rights to freedom of association are restricted is immediately contradicted by Francisca Ramirez declaring her group has organized over 80 public demonstrations to express their views.

Similarly, Ramirez claims “The only response we have had is the bullet.” But, in the next paragraph, we learn “a member of her community lost an eye and another was shot in the stomach”.

Thus, after 87 demonstrations, some of which supposedly involved many thousands of participants and in which “The only response we have had is the bullet”, Ramirez cites precisely two people suffering serious injury and only one of them with a gunshot wound. Ramirez omits that the protesters on the marches she organizes go armed with machetes and home-made mortars. They block highways, intimidate ordinary people going about their business, damage property and attack police officers.

In no Western country would that be tolerated without, to put it mildly, a robust response from the police and security forces. Even so, Global Witness promote Francisca Ramirez’s account as if she and her movement were non-political and non-violent, which they are not. But Global Witness excludes those facts.

Likewise, as John Perry has pointed out, the foreign environmentalists expelled from Nicaragua were involved in a suspicious incident involving a small explosion. Again, a reasonable question to Global Witness is why they excluded this highly relevant information given that in Britain or the United States any foreigner, especially any non-white foreigner, involved in such a suspicious incident would face prosecution and a potential jail term under those countries wide-ranging anti-terrorist laws.

Inaccuracies and falsehoods

Mixed in with these disingenuous, incoherent claims, Global Witness also allege, presumably as supporting context, that the proposed Canal “would force up to 120,000 indigenous people from their land”. This outrageous falsehood is sourced from the pro-NATO, right-wing dominated European Parliament, but is categorically contradicted by the relevant multi-million dollar Environmental and Social Impact report by the extremely prestigious ERM company based in the UK. The falsity of that claim is further confirmed by the Canal concessionary HKND company’s representative Bill Wild who argues that the route of the Canal has been altered to take local concerns into account in such a way that fewer than thirty indigenous families will be directly affected.

Overall, ERM reckons that up to 7210 families or around 30,000 people are likely to be displaced along the whole route of the Canal, over 270 kilometres. The scandalously untrue figure quoted by Global Witness is propaganda from Nicaragua’s political opposition who are exploiting Ramirez’s quasi-celebrity status among Western environmentalists to amplify overseas the marginal support for their unpopular position against the Canal in Nicaragua. That fact is reflected in the incoherence of the arguments set out by Ramirez and her backers in Nicaragua’s political opposition.

If 120,000 people were really going to be displaced by the proposed Canal then the figure of 30,000 protestors from around the country the same political opposition regularly quote to describe national opposition to the Canal just does not add up. Quoting that same opposition figure, Global Witness state, “Francisca has rallied campesino groups from around the country who will be adversely affected by the canal to call for a meaningful say in its development. In June 2015, 30,000 people gathered for an anti-canal protest – Francisca organized 40 trucks so her community could attend.”

In Nicaragua, the cost of hiring a truck or a bus to carry 60 people or a similar amount of material goods on a round trip of 100km is around US$120, while a round trip of 300km costs about US$175. So hiring 40 diesel-guzzling trucks and buses with their drivers will have cost a minimum of US$4000. But Ramirez is an impoverished mother of five from a similarly impoverished community.

Even if only one quarter of the more than 80 protests Ramirez says she has helped organized involved similar costs, the total amount involved runs into tens of thousands of dollars just for Ramirez’s community. Whatever the exact financial accounting, Ramirez is clearly supported by a great deal more than her own resources and those of her community.

Even so, Global Witness completely evade the obvious conclusion to be drawn from that incoherence implicit in their report. Namely, that Francisca Ramirez, far from being a simple altruistic community organizer defending her home is in fact a savvy political opposition activist promoting an inaccurate image of herself as well as concealing her real political agenda. Ramirez alleges that she and her family have been attacked and harassed. Supposing those accusations are true, no convincing evidence points to involvement of the government or the security forces and certainly not the HKND company in charge of planning and building the Canal. That contrasts with the situation of activists in Honduras or Guatemala who can in most cases offer reliable details with corroboration from witnesses to identify their assailants.

The press report cited by Gobal Witness contains no credible evidence from Ramirez except her say so, no corroborating evidence, no witnesses. Likwise the report’s reference to Frontline Defenders’ advocacy for Ramirez links to a summary profile including the false opposition propaganda, repeated by Global Witness, that the proposed inter-oceanic Canal has been imposed without consultation. But in fact preliminary consultations took place in July 2014 and subsequently a continuing consultative process has developed both before and after the publication of ERM’s Environmental and Social Impact Study, which recommended improvements to the consultation process which both HKND and the government accepted.

The Study did also criticize the handling of the expropriation issue and recommended that international standards be applied to any expropriation of land (reckoned to total 1359km2 of dry land out of Nicaragua’s total  area of 139,375km2) that may eventully be decided. Those ERM recommendations were accepted by the  government and HKND, and the subsequent consultative process has led to several important changes in the precise route of the Canal and to more detailed environmental studies which have been one reason for the delay in the Canal’s construction.

Frontline Defenders’ advocacy of Ramirez, cited by Global Witness, is based on her own account of events with no apparent attempt at corroboration despite the role of Ramirez as a front person for an anti-government campaign openly supported and facilitated by Nicaragua’s political opposition. In the course of framing their benign, heroic account of Francisca Ramirez, Global Witness present an account of the Canal’s origins and procedural progress which repeats virtually word for word the extremely hostile and systematically disingenuous interpretation of Nicaragua’s political opposition.

Garbage in – Garbage out

Winding up their version of the falsehoods, disinformation and propaganda copied from Nicaragua’s political opposition, Global Witness assert, “Resistance to the canal takes place against a terrifying backdrop of multiple murders in indigenous communities elsewhere in the country which have stood up against the arrival of agricultural settlers and demanded the government guarantee their land rights. Even requests by the Inter-American human rights system haven’t spurred the government into protecting community activists from being disappeared, mutilated and murdered.”

But, as is clear from reviewing a wider selection of sources of information in relation to the complicated land situation in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast, indigenous people themselves are responsible for murderous violence and their own leaders are implicated in corrupt land dealings. It is simply untrue to label the murders as being generically the result of attacks on community activists in the sense in which that term is commonly understood. The general consensus is that the Nicaraguan government has done more than any government in the region, with the possible exception of Venezuela, to protect indigenous people’s land rights with almost a third of the national territory designated as indigenous peoples’ communal land. Global Witness’s allegations on that score are demonstrably inaccurate and grossly unfair.

Similarly, the suggestion that the Canal protest movement is vulnerable to the kind of murderous violence prevalent in Nicaragua’s Northern Caribbean Autonomous Region is egregiously false. The protesters themselves have used violence and intimidationagainst the general population to carry out their protest actions, so far, thankfully, with no fatalities.

In summary, the Global Witness report in its section on Nicaragua uses politically and ideologically prejudiced sources which could readily have been supplemented with sources offering a contradictory account. The sources used themselves do not always corroborate the claims made in the report. Apart from the ideological bias, various substantive inaccuracies render the report extremey unreliable. The report’s conclusions are flawed because its initial premises are false – Garbage In, Garbage Out.

It remains true that there are serious property conflicts in Nicaragua’s Northern Caribbean Autonomous Region which the government is attempting to address despite a lack of administrative, judicial and security resources, against an intricate social, economic and political context and also the constantly changing opportunistic interaction of corrupt business interests with local indigenous peoples’ leaders, and unscrupulous local officials.

In the case of Nicaragua’s proposed Interoceanic Canal, it is true various issues, including the issue of expropriation, have to be clarified. Protestors claim they want dialog, but Francisca Ramirez sets the precondition that the Canal be scrapped.

The Canal’s critics never acknowledge that Nicaragua is already suffering chronic environmental degradation. The government and many environmentalists argue that the Canal will provide Nicaragua with the resources it needs to reforest deforested areas, better manage its water resources and reverse the current deterioration in Lake Nicaragua, while at the same time helping to reduce poverty.

Foreign and national environmentalists offer no viable proposals to enable Nicaragua to reverse the socio-economic and climate processes already driving accelerating environmental degradation in the country.

Protestors against the Canal exaggerate the number of people likely to be displaced by its construction and often dishonestly claim people affected by displacement will not be compensated. Meanwhile, they themselves are among those responsible for the environmental degradation that will definitely get progressively worse without the resources the Canal is projected to provide.

Corporate funders and the elite NGO revolving door

Few plausible explanations except intellectual dishonesty offer themselves for the desperate failure of Global Witness, firstly to adequately research the issues involved or, secondly, supposing they in fact did so, to acknowledge the complexity of the issues they examine. Global Witness frankly explain in their financial statement for 2016, they had income of over US$13 million. So they do not lack resources. Similarly, their Board, their Advisory Board and their CEO are all very experienced, smart, talented people. So even if they depend on younger inexperienced staff to do the research, their senior staff presumably review the product before publication. Lack of experience is not a reasonable explanation for the report’s glib dishonesty and inaccuracy.

A review of Global Witness funders reveals that for 2016 the two biggest funders were the Open Society Foundation of George Soros associated with the numerous so-called color revolutions in support of NATO country government foreign policy objectives and the Omidyar Network of Pierre Omidyar whose links with US intelligence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton are well known. Less well known is Omidyar’s support for NGOs that fomented the successful right wing coup in Ukraine. The complete list of Global Witness funders is available in the financial statement for 2016 on their web site. That document reports that in 2016 Global Witness received US$3.4 million from the George Soros Open Society Foundation, US$1.5 million from Pierre Omidyar’s Omidyar Network, US$840,000 from the Ford Foundation and over US$3 million from various European NATO governments plus Sweden.

All of these funding sources are unrelenting ideological opponents of Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. A broad pro-NATO bias is very clear in the composition of the Global Witness Board and Advisory Board and CEO. Their profiles make clear they are almost all luminaries from the Western elite neocolonial non governmental sector, while many have a strong corporate business background as well. Just as there is a revolving door between government and corporate business and finance in North America and Europe, so too there is also a revolving door within that region’s elite NGO sector, a sector very clearly serving NATO country foreign policy goals.

Cory Morningstar has exposed the pro-NATO global political agenda of organizations like US based organizations like Avaaz and Purpose. In the case of Global Witness, their Board member Jessie Tolka is also a board member of Purpose and too of 350.org: Current Global Witness CEO Gillian Caldwell was also a very successful Campaigns Director of Sky1, now merged into 350.0rg. Cory Morningstar argues, “the most vital purpose of the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC) has not been to destroy the ecocidal economic system that enslaves us while perpetuating and ensuring infinite wars. Rather, the key purpose of the NPIC is and has always been to protect this very system it purports to oppose from being dismantled. Hence the trillions of dollars pumped into the NPIC by the establishment.”

Confirmation of Cory Morningstar’s argument can be found in the history of Global Witness itself. For example on Libya, despite their superficial anti-corporate gloss, Global Witness relentlessly apply NATO country government criteria here and here. Also on Ukraine, Global Witness project the same anti-corporate message while simultaneously reinforcing NATO country government propaganda. Global Witness has also received US National Endowment for Democracy grants in Cambodia and in Liberia.

Also, a decade ago, writers Keith Harmon Snow and Rick Hines questioned Global Witness’ corporate links in relation to the “Blood Diamonds” controversy and the organization’s role in relation to De Beers and also Maurice Templesman’s diamond companies. No doubt more thorough research would reveal information casting similar doubt on Global Witness’s integrity and independence.

Conclusion

This latest Global Witness report in relation to Nicaragua is important because it is so readily falsifiable. It thus presents a clear litmus test: no news and information media can use the Global Witness report’s material in relation to Nicaragua without compromising their credibility.

The bias and inaccuracies in the section on Nicaragua in the Global Witness 2017 report call into doubt the integrity of the whole report. No news or information media interested in accuracy or honest reporting can conscientiously rely on Global Witness as a source without thorough cross checking and systematically comparing, contrasting and evaluating information from sources giving a different account of the events and issues in question.

Global Witness is neither independent nor trustworthy. It clearly has a strong but unacknowledged neocolonial political agenda promoting the regional policy goals of NATO country governments, while, conversely, attacking governments and other regional actors opposed to those goals.

NGOs like Global Witness, International Crisis Group, Human Rights Watch, Transparency International and so many others, self-evidently fabricate psychological warfare inputs serving NATO country government policy, itself shaped by the same corporate elites that fund the class of NGOS of which Global Witness is a part.

They operate as the soft, extramural arm of NATO country governments’ foreign policy psychological warfare offensives, targeting liberal and progressive audiences to ensure their acquiescence in overseas aggression and intimidation against governments and movements targeted by NATO. To that end, they deceitfully exploit liberal and progressive susceptibilities in relation to environmental, humanitarian and human rights issues.

Their psychological warfare role supporting the NATO government’s aggressive destabilization of Ivory Coast, Libya and Syria in 2011, of Ukraine in 2014,  and the NATO country government’s low intensity war against Venezuela ever since 2013, as well as the campaign against Cuba over five decades, has been unmistakable.

More broadly their systemic ideological role is very obviously to protect and defend global corporate capitalism while superficially and selectively questioning and criticizing some of its worst abuses. Cory Morningstar’s insight bears repeating “the key purpose of the non-profit industrial complex is and has always been to protect this very system it purports to oppose”.

The coverage of Nicaragua in the latest 2017 Global Witness report is a text book example of that sinister fact.

Posted in NicaraguaComments Off on Nicaragua: Global ‘False’ Witness

African children pay the price for “clean green” electric car battery technology

NOVANEWS

Tall Bloke’s Talk Shop 

Goldman Sachs, the merchant bank, calls cobalt ‘the new gasoline’ but there are no signs of new wealth in the DRC, where the children haul the rocks brought up from tunnels dug by hand.

Adult miners dig up to 600ft below the surface using basic tools, without protective clothing or modern machinery. Sometimes the children are sent down into the narrow makeshift chambers where there is constant danger of collapse.

Cobalt is such a health hazard that it has a respiratory disease named after it – cobalt lung, a form of pneumonia which causes coughing and leads to permanent incapacity and even death.

Even simply eating vegetables grown in local soil can cause vomiting and diarrhoea, thyroid damage and fatal lung diseases, while birds and fish cannot survive in the area.

No one knows quite how many children have died mining cobalt in the Katanga region in the south-east of the country. The UN estimates 80 a year, but many more deaths go unregistered, with the bodies buried in the rubble of collapsed tunnels. Others survive but with chronic diseases which destroy their young lives. Girls as young as ten in the mines are subjected to sexual attacks and many become pregnant.

Dorsen, just eight, is one of 40,000 children working daily in the mines of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The terrible price they will pay for our clean air is ruined health and a likely early death.

Almost every big motor manufacturer striving to produce millions of electric vehicles buys its cobalt from the impoverished central African state. It is the world’s biggest producer, with 60 per cent of the planet’s reserves.

The cobalt is mined by unregulated labour and transported to Asia where battery manufacturers use it to make their products lighter, longer-lasting and rechargeable.

The planned switch to clean energy vehicles has led to an extraordinary surge in demand. While a smartphone battery uses no more than 10 grams of refined cobalt, an electric car needs 15kg (33lb).

Residents near mines in southern DRC had urinary concentrates of cobalt 43 higher than normal. Lead levels were five times higher, cadmium and uranium four times higher.

The worldwide rush to bring millions of electric vehicles on to our roads has handed a big advantage to those giant car-makers which saw this bonanza coming and invested in developing battery-powered vehicles, among them General Motors, Renault-Nissan, Tesla, BMW and Fiat-Chrysler.

Full story

Posted in AfricaComments Off on African children pay the price for “clean green” electric car battery technology

Syria: Coalition hits Raqqah hospital with white phosphorus

NOVANEWS

Zionist US-led coalition purporting to be targeting Daesh in Syria is said to have hit the National Hospital in the northern city of Raqqah with internationally-banned white phosphorus bombs.

Dina al-Asa’ad, who is the deputy director of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent’s branch in the city, said coalition warplanes had struck the hospital on Thursday, the country’s official Syrian Arab News Agency said.

She said the aircraft also released more than 20 apparently conventional shells against the facility, which hit its interior, electricity generators, and ambulances.

The facility, she said, catered to the needs of more than 100,000 patients.

Al-Asa’ad also blamed the coalition, which has been bombing Syria-based targets since 2014, and the US-backed anti-Damascus so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) for leading a “scorched earth” policy against the city, rather than trying to liberate it.

She said the coalition and the SDF had laid waste to all of the city’s schools, mosques, bakeries, its sugar factory, and governmental buildings.

‘Coalition kills 30 civilians’

Meanwhile, Syrian government sources said at least 30 people had been killed in the latest attacks by the coalition in Raqqah.

The latest toll brought to over 65 the total number of civilians killed by US aerial raids on Raqqah since the beginning of the week.

Army gains

Separately, the Syrian army took control of the al-Madkhal neighborhood and Tantor Mountain in the city of al-Sukhnah in the central Syria Homs Province.

Backed by civil defense fighters, the army also made fresh gains in the southeastern Syria al-Suwayda Province near the Jordan-Syria borders, where it recaptured the al-Dhubi’aiyah, Ber al-Rafa’a, al-Hardiyah, and Wadi al-Sawt areas from the US-backed forces, a military source said.

Posted in USA, SyriaComments Off on Syria: Coalition hits Raqqah hospital with white phosphorus


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