Archive | April 8th, 2018

How Do You Tell the Kids that Grandma Is in Jail for Resisting Nuclear Weapons?

“Our grandma is in jail,” Madeline tells a woman wrestling a shopping cart at Target.

“She went over a war fence and tried to make peace,” Seamus adds helpfully. “They arrested her, and she is in jail now.”

“Where?” the woman asks, looking from them to me in disbelief and maybe pity.

“We don’t remember,” the kids say, suddenly done with their story and ready to make passionate pleas for the colorful items in the dollar section over the woman’s shoulder.

“Georgia,” I say, but I don’t have a lot of energy to add detail to my kids’ story. They hit all the high points.

“There’s a lot going on these days,” she says. I agree, and we move on into the store and our separate errands.

I was happy not to say more at that moment, happy to avoid a sobbing breakdown at Target, happy to wrestle one little bit of normal out of a very abnormal day.

My mom, Liz McAlister, who turned 78 in November, had been arrested deep inside the King’s Bay Naval Base in St. Mary’s, Georgia in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Along with six friends, she carried banners, statements, hammers and blood onto the base. They started their action on April 4: the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination.

Their statement made connections between nuclear weapons, white supremacy and deeply embedded racism. It is a long statement, but given that they were carrying it into a free-fire zone — where military personnel are authorized to use deadly force — there was no particular need for brevity:

“We come to King’s Bay to answer the call of the prophet Isaiah (2:4) to ‘beat swords into plowshares’ by disarming the world’s deadliest nuclear weapon, the Trident submarine. We repent of the sin of white supremacy that oppresses and takes the lives of people of color here in the United States and throughout the world. We resist militarism that has employed deadly violence to enforce global domination. We believe reparations are required for stolen land, labor and lives.”

They walked onto King’s Bay Naval Station just hours after Saheed Vassell was shot and killed in a barrage of bullets by New York City police officers, just hours after hundreds of demonstrators filled the streets of Sacramento for another day, shouting “Stephon Clark, Stephon Clark, Stephon Clark” and demanding accountability after the young father of two was killed by police officers on March 18. These seven white activists know that when you are black in this country, your own corner, your grandmother’s own backyard, is a free-fire zone more dangerous than any military base.

There is indeed a lot going on these days.

The statement continues:

“Dr. King said, ‘The greatest purveyor of violence in the world (today) is my own government.’ This remains true in the midst of our endless war on terror. The United States has embraced a permanent war economy. ‘Peace through strength’ is a dangerous lie in a world that includes weapons of mass destruction on hair-trigger alert. The weapons from one Trident have the capacity to end life as we know it on planet Earth.”

Kings Bay is the largest nuclear submarine base in the world at about 16,000 acres. It is the home port of the U.S. Navy Atlantic Fleet’s Trident nuclear-powered submarines. There are eight in total, two guided missile submarines and six ballistic missile submarines. These submarines were all built in Groton, Connecticut — right across the river from our home in New London. Each submarine, my mom and her friends assert, carries the capacity to cause devastation equivalent to 600 of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima, Japan.

“Nuclear weapons kill every day through our mining, production, testing, storage and dumping, primarily on indigenous native land. This weapons system is a cocked gun being held to the head of the planet. As white Catholics, we take responsibility to atone for the horrific crimes stemming from our complicity with ‘the triplets’ [of evil]. Only then can we begin to restore right relationships. We seek to bring about a world free of nuclear weapons, racism and economic exploitation.”

That is not the end, you can read the whole statement and their indictment of the United States on their Facebook group.

These sorts of actions — called Plowshares — have a nearly 40-year history, since my father and uncle and six others broke into the King of Prussia plant in Pennsylvania in 198o to “beat swords into plowshares.” They struck at nosecones with hammers and marked the weapons with blood to reveal the human costs and mess and suffering the weapons are built to wreak in the world.

The seven members of the King’s Bay Plowshares, who entered the Georgia naval base on April 4 to protest nuclear weapons, white supremacy and racism. (WNV/Kings Bay Plowshares)

My father participated in five of these Plowshares actions in his lifetime and helped organize countless others. Committed conspirers, steeped in active nonviolence, have carried out more than 100 of these actions since 1980. This is my mom’s second action. She and her current co-defendant Clare Grady, were part of the 1983 Griffiss Plowshares in upstate New York.

My parents estimated that they spent 11 years of their 27-year marriage separated by prison, and it was mostly these actions that kept them apart and away from us. Countless life events in our family — birthdays, graduations, celebrations of all kinds — were stuttered by the absence of one of our parents. I say this with pain and loss, but no self-pity. Dad was able to attend my high school graduation, but not my brother’s. We went straight from my college graduation to visit my dad in jail in Maine. I missed all the raging keggers, sweaty dance parties and tearful goodbyes that marked the end of college for my friends to sit knee-to-knee with my father in a cramped and soulless room. On chairs designed for maximum discomfort, I tried to share my momentous day and all my 22-year-old big feelings while ignoring the guards and the room crowded with a dozen others doing the same thing. We wrote thousands of letters. They often crisscrossed each other so that there was a constant weaving of story and sharing across the miles.

So, when I explained that grandma was in jail to my kids — 11-year-old Rosena, 5-year-old Seamus and 4-year-old Madeline — I felt the weight of a lifetime of missing and provisional family experiences, frequently lived in prison visiting rooms and through urgently scrawled letters.

I tried to figure out a way to talk to them that would make sense and, in thinking it through, I realized that none of this should make sense to anyone! Nuclear weapons? Absurd! Police brutality and white supremacy? Senseless! Plowshares actions with their symbolic transformation and ritual mess-making? A foolhardy act of David versus Goliath proportions!

So, I didn’t try to make it make sense. I just forged ahead, grateful that they had some context: We had participated in the Good Friday Stations of the Cross organized by Catholic Worker friends at our local submarine base a few days earlier, and — the night before — we had gone to hear a dramatic reading of Dr. King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”

“Hey guys, know how we went to the sub base on Friday? Grandma was arrested in a place like that late last night. She is in jail now. She and her friends broke onto the base to say that nuclear weapons are wrong. Remember how Dr. King talked about just and unjust laws?” They nodded and remembered that King said “one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” I told them that Grandma thinks that nuclear weapons — things that can destroy so much life on our planet — shouldn’t be built and protected and paid for when so many people are hungry, so many kids don’t have good schools to go to, so many people don’t have good homes. I went on and on.

“Wait, these nuclear weapons … They are war things?” Seamus asked.

“Yep, they are war things, bud.”

“Good for grandma,” he said, and that was the end of our serious conversation.

Mom and her friends are charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass and two felonies: possession of tools for the commission of a crime and interference with government property.

The kids and I didn’t talk about the kind of jail time that could mean for their grandma. It is all I am thinking about right now, but they moved on, imagining out loud and with a lot of enthusiasm how grandma got by the attack dogs and police officers they had seen at the Groton Submarine Base. They were sure there was a similar set up in Georgia. “Grandma needed a ladder and a cheetah,” said Madeline. “A cheetah is the only animal that can outrun dogs and police officer’s bullets.”

I am pretty sure no cheetahs were involved in the Kings Bay Plowshares, but I am happy my daughter sees her grandmother as a fierce and powerful anti-war activist astride a wild cat.

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Breaking: Russian Forces in Syria Are on Combat Alert: U.S. Considers Attacks Directed against Syrian Government Forces

NOVANEWS

Russian forces deployed in Syria, including S-400 and Pantsir-S1 air defense systems and Sukhoi Su-30SM multirole fighters, have been put on a combat alert, according to reports appearing from local sources in the country’s provinces of Tartus and Latakia where Russian military facilities are located.

Meanwhile, the Israeli TV channel i24NEWS claimed citing US officials that the US military is going to provide President Donald Trumpwith “a set of options for carrying out strikes against the Syrian government”.

“Both the Joint Chiefs of Staff and CENTCOM, the US forces in the Middle East, were compiling target lists and attack options to be presented to Trump and his national security team within hours, the officials said,” i24NEWS wrote.

A few hours earlier, a group of Israeli top officials and public figures officially called on Trump to conduct missile strikes against Syrian government forces in response to the alleged chemical attack in Douma.

In turn, Trump forgot that no confirmation of condicting the attack by government forces had been provided and claimed that “Animal Assad” will pay a “big price”. He also blamed “President Putin, Russia and Iran” for the incident.

Earlier, the Russian Foreign Ministry denounced the chemical attack reprots as “hoax” and warned that military actions against Syria could lead to the “gravest consequences.”

The conflict Syria is on the brink of another large-scale escalation.

Russia in USA ??

@RusEmbUSA

Military intervention under false and fabricated pretexts in ??, where the Russian servicemen stay at the request of the legitimate government, is absolutely unacceptable and may trigger the gravest consequences – @MFA_Russia??
.https://www.facebook.com/RusEmbUSA/photos/a.493759737501088.1073741828.487645188112543/769473706596355/  ?@DeptofDefense

Posted in USA, Russia, SyriaComments Off on Breaking: Russian Forces in Syria Are on Combat Alert: U.S. Considers Attacks Directed against Syrian Government Forces

CIA Stages Syria Poison Gas Attack, Pretext for Escalation of US-led War. Preparations for Stepped-up Military Operations?

The US media has seized on the latest claims by CIA-backed groups of a poison gas attack on civilians to demand a further escalation of the US-led war for regime-change in Syria and an increased confrontation with Russia.

The Syrian government claims that one of its airbases, in Homs province, has already come under missile attack. While the Pentagon is denying that it has launched any strikes on Syria yet, the rhetoric of the Trump administration indicates that preparations are being made for stepped-up military operations.

As with previous allegations of chemical weapons’ use, the public is being inundated with unverified footage of suffering victims, while government officials and the corporate media, prior to any investigation and without any substantiation, declare the government of Bashar al-Assad and its Iranian and Russian allies to be guilty of a war crime.

Within minutes, the New York Times and the Washington Post dashed out breathless articles placing the blame for the alleged attack at the feet of the Syrian and Russian governments. The Guardian declared in an editorial that

“Syria’s renewed use of chemical weapons against its own people at the weekend is shameless and barbaric.”

The current claims are no more credible than those that preceded it. The official narrative that Assad carried out a gas attack in Eastern Ghouta in 2013 was used to prepare a massive US air strike that was canceled at the last minute by the Obama administration—a retreat that earned Obama furious recriminations that continue to the present. Subsequent investigations proved that the attack was actually launched by US-backed “rebels” in conjunction with the Turkish government.

The alleged gas attack that was used in April 2017 to justify the major US cruise missile assault on a Syrian air base was similarly exposed to have resulted from an air strike on a “rebel” poison gas facility.

The previous pretexts for military escalation were staged by the CIA and its proxy forces in Syria. The latest provocation is no different.

There is no credible evidence concerning the claimed attack in the Eastern Ghouta city of Douma, a few miles from the Syrian capital. There are video clips that prove nothing, since they could have been manufactured at any time and edited to serve the purpose. The sole on-the-spot accounts come from the White Helmets, celebrated by the media as a rescue organization, but affiliated with the anti-Assad “rebels” and largely funded by the United States, Britain, Germany and other imperialist powers. This includes $23 million from the US Agency for International Development, a longtime front for the CIA.

The Trump White House has denounced the alleged atrocity, with officials making the usual warning, prior to military action, that “everything is on the table.” The US National Security Council (NSC) will convene Monday for the first time under newly appointed chief John Bolton, who played a major role in the Iraq War and has publicly advocated bombing both Iran and North Korea. The NSC will recommend military options to the president.

Any such action would bring with it the imminent threat of a wider war. Both Iranian advisers and Russian military personnel are integrated with the Syrian government forces and could well be hit in any significant US military strike, triggering demands for retaliation in both countries.

A wider conflict is the deliberate aim of the US military-intelligence apparatus. For a month, the world stage has been dominated by a British-American campaign against Russia, centered on the supposed poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a British spy, and his daughter Yulia, in Salisbury, England. There has been an escalating campaign of accusations, expulsions of Russian officials, and suggestions that the incident amounts to a nerve gas attack on Britain by Moscow, i.e., an act of war.

Last week, however, the official narrative of Russian government poisoning collapsed. The British chemical weapons authority announced that it could not determine the source of the supposed poison and both Skripals were reported to be recovering—making nonsense of the claim that they had been poisoned by a deadly nerve gas manufactured in Russia.

The new media hysteria over a poison gas attack in Syria serves to divert attention from the collapse of the Skripal provocation, while providing a fresh pretext for escalating the offensive against Russia.

There is an additional reason for the focus on Syria. Over the past week, President Trump had publicly questioned continuing the US intervention in that country, given the debacles suffered by the CIA-backed Islamist forces and the consolidation of control over most of the country’s population centers by the Assad government. He initially declared that US troops would leave Syria shortly, only to reverse himself after intense pressure from the Pentagon and CIA, Congress and the media. The Douma incident has put an end to such wavering.

As the New York Times noted Sunday night:

“Days after President Trump said he wanted to pull the United States out of Syria, Syrian forces hit a suburb of Damascus with bombs that rescue workers said unleashed toxic gas. Within hours, images of dead families sprawled in their homes threatened to change Mr. Trump’s calculus on Syria, possibly drawing him deeper into an intractable Middle Eastern war that he hoped to leave.”

The “rebel” group now holding out in Douma, Jaysh al-Islam, part of the Islamist opposition to Assad that includes the Syrian branch of Al Qaeda as well as the remnants of ISIS, has itself been credibly accused of using chlorine gas in the course of fighting against Kurdish forces and civilians in Aleppo in 2016. That charge, made by the Kurds, was given extensive publicity by Voice of America, the propaganda arm of the US government.

It is possible that Syrian warplanes struck a weapons cache belonging to the rebel group, causing the gas to leak out. More likely, the poison gas was deliberately released by Jaysh al-Islam, at behest of its CIA backers, to provide a pretext for US military intervention. Assuming, that is, that the reports of poison gas exposure are not simply manufactured by the US intelligence agencies for rebroadcast by a servile media.

What is least likely, from a political standpoint, is that the Assad government, just as it was on the brink of final victory in Eastern Ghouta after more than five years of bitter fighting, should suddenly unleash a poison gas attack, which would have no military value but would invite a savage response from the Trump administration and the other Western powers. A Syrian government statement pointed this out, declaring that “an army that is progressing quickly… does not need to use any kind of chemical weapons.”

According to Al Jazeera and Russian news sources, Jaysh al-Islam has been so thoroughly defeated that it has struck an agreement to completely withdraw all its militia and their families from Douma over the next 48 hours or so. Russian troops will reportedly move in to take control of the city.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry rebuffed the US claims of a gas attack in Douma.

“Such claims and allegations by the Americans and some Western countries point to a new plot against the Syrian government and people, and are an excuse to take military action against them,” a spokesman told the press.

The Russian government denounced the US campaign over the supposed gas attack as a political provocation aimed at justifying deeper US military intervention in the Syrian civil war.

“The spread of bogus stories about the use of chlorine and other poisonous substances by government forces continues,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said. “We have warned several times recently against such dangerous provocations. The aim of such deceitful speculation, lacking any kind of grounding, is to shield terrorists… and to attempt to justify possible external uses of force.”

The latest provocation follows a well-worn pattern, from the lies over Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction” to the present. The American intelligence agencies give the signal. Nonstop coverage is immediately launched on cable television, then demands for action are made by the White House and congressional leaders, boosted by editorials written by CIA mouthpieces such as the New York Times.

The brazen lies of the media are accompanied by breathtaking hypocrisy. The Times, the Washington Post, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and company downplay and cover up the atrocities carried out by American forces and their allies—the incineration of Mosul and Raqqa, the gunning down of demonstrators in Gaza by the Israeli military, the mass killings in Yemen carried out with US support by Saudi Arabia, even as its crown prince is feted by the US ruling elite, and the ongoing slaughter in Afghanistan.

The overwhelming responsibility for the continuing carnage and suffering in Syria—as well as in Iraq, Yemen and throughout the Middle East—rests squarely with US imperialism, which has launched one war after another based on lies in an attempt to establish control over the region and its vital energy resources. The prospect of US strikes in response to the allegations of a chemical attack urgently poses the danger of a wider war and the need for an international working class movement against war and for socialism.

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Turkey Publishes the Whereabouts of Five Secret Military Bases in Syria that Belong to France

NOVANEWS

The Turkish Press Agency, Anadolu Agency, has published a map of five secret military bases in Syria belonging to France (see above part of the map pinpointing with the French flag four of these bases). One of these bases is the cement factory of the transnational group, Lafarge-Holcim, which is currently under a French judicial inquiry for financing terrorist groups.

The Agency specifically states that the first RPIMa (the Parachutist Regiment of the Navy’s Infantry) is deployed on Syrian soil. Furthermore, an additional 30 French soldiers are already in Raqqa and 70 at other sites in Syria.

Under international law, France’s military presence in Syria is illegal.

This publication of this information by the Turkish Agency constitutes a warning to France which has recently announced its support of the YPG, a Kurdish organization that is pro-US.

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Iraq, Massacre of a Country: “A War on Terror” when you are the Terrorist

NOVANEWS

Fifteen years ago, April 9, 2003, The Occupation of Baghdad. This article by veteran war correspondent Felicity Arbuthnot was first published by Global Research in April 2012

“How can you make a war on terror when you are actually the terrorist?” (Unknown.)

America’s 2003 assault on Iraq, already devastated by thirteen years of sanctions, infrastructure destruction consequently unrepaired from the 1991 bombing was, in the ridiculous annals of names the US military gives to their slaughter-fests, entitled: “Shock and Awe.”

This approach to nation destruction is technically known as: “rapid dominance”, the concept based on use of “overwhelming power.” It was devised by two arguably psychologically challenged military strategists, Harlan K. Ullman and James P. Wade, in 1996.(i)

Their days devising Machiavellian “shock” in destroying all means of: “communication, transportation, food production, water supply, and other aspects of infrastructure must (cause) the threat and fear of action that may shut down all or part of … society (rendering) ability to fight useless short of complete physical destruction.”

Further: “Shutting the country down would entail both the physical destruction of appropriate infrastructure … so rapidly as to achieve a level of national shock akin to the effect that dropping nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki had on the Japanese.”

In an interview with CBS Ullman stated: “You’re sitting in Baghdad and all of a sudden you’re the general and thirty of your division headquarters have been wiped out.

“You also take the city down. By that I mean you get rid of their power, their water.”

Iraq’s water had been deliberately targeted in 1991, on orders to the twenty seven country coalition, from Central Command (ii) and had never recovered, as was intended: “We estimated it will take Iraq’s water six months to fully degrade”, stated the circulated instructions, which also advised:.”Iraq will suffer increasing shortages of purified water because of the lack of required chemicals and desalination membranes. Incidences of disease, including possible epidemics, will become probable …”

Ironically, in an unprecedented action after 1991 hostilities ended, UN Security Council Resolution 687 held Iraq responsible, indeed liable, for all damage, including the Coalition destruction of its water supplies, targets prohibited by both Hague and Geneva Conventions.

Then, after twelve years of deprivation and bombing, of deformed and dying children poisoned by the radioactive and chemically toxic Depleted Uranium (read nuclear waste) weapons used in 1991, Iraqis were subject to further toxic “shock” of enormity, but certainly no “awe.”

As Baghdad’s great bridges spanning the Tigris, which I had walked and driven days before, burned and fell, for the second time in a decade, as the flames consumed Harun al Rashid’s eighth century “Round City”, and its history was raped by looters, as it shook and tumbled, Iraqis hid in cupboards under stairs – or just waited to die, as Hades itself erupted around them – and Washington and Whitehall called it:“liberation.”

Perverts in US and British uniforms put bags over peoples heads, tied their hands, chucked them in to transportation and took them to hastily opened prisons, where they were stripped naked, tortured, sexually abused, murdered.

Fellow perverts took “trophy pictures” of the dead – and trophy fingers, bone fragments and worse, as momentos.

Journalists attempting to relay reality were also targeted and murdered by invading forces, setting a trend. Iraq is now the most dangerous place for journalists on earth and the third most corrupt.

On 9th April, the day Saddam Hussein’s statue was pulled down by US marines, then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called it: “a very good day.” Destruction by occupying forces of cultural history, ancient or modern, is, of course, another war crime. It is also low life vandalism and a damn cheek of – literally – historic proportions.

Anthony Shadid was a journalist who survived the invasion’s forces, but lost his life in Syria last month. His testimony to Iraq’s tragedy and his own courage as the carnage enveloped, remains part of his legacy, in countless words.

As the morgues filled to overflowing (victims were soon piled in refrigerated trucks outside) he visited the Mosques, where the “caretaker” of humanity’s last hours on earth, tended the the dead.

Haider Kadim, was carefully washing the body of fourteen year old Arkan Daif, killed with two friends. He had suffered: “a hole in his skull, when the sky exploded.” His relatives described Arkan as: “like a flower.”

“It’s very difficult”, said Haider, his labour of love and respect over and the men closing the coffin.

Earlier in the week: “he had gone to another Mosque to help bury dozens, when a blast ripped through a teeming market nearby. The memories haunted him. He remembered the severed hands and heads that arrived; he recalled bodies, even that of an infant, with more gaping holes.”

Even funeral parties were attacked, from day one. Shadid records an eighty year old lady, whose family had risked the missiles to take her to be buried in the ancient cemetery in southern Najav, Shia Islam’s most holy site.

They never made it. U.S. forces, wrote Shadid, attacked the three cars, one carrying her body. It was 31st March 2003.

Troops then moved in to the nations’s palaces, painted murals of missiles raining down on the walls – and subsequently held Christian Baptism ceremonies in the swimming pools, having brought in an “Alpha” Christian indoctrination course, enthusiastically run and embraced by the self- appointed “Vicar of Baghdad”, Canon Andrew White (iii,iv) who also came in with the tanks.

Dismiss any doubts about it not really being a “Crusade” and that being another George W. Bush “miss-speak.”

By 1st May, to declare: Mission accomplished”, George W. Bush landed on USS Abraham Lincoln in a little flying suit, his manhood apparently encased in lead. Seldom “in the field of human conflict”, has a Commander in Chief looked such a prat. (Apologies to Winston Churchill.)

The episode, did, however, perhaps encapsulate the gargantuan, tragic, fantasy-land concept of the whole illegal, ill conceived Iraq invasion, the venture of a very “New World”, in to the “Cradle of Civilization” and, as Petra, it’s ancient cities, half as old as time.”

Notes

i. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shock_and_awe

ii. http://www.progressive.org/mag/nagy0901.html

iii. http://www.alphausa.org/Articles/1000048248/The_Alpha_Course.aspx

iv. http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/print.php?storyid=4200

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15 Years Since the Fall of Baghdad: A Broken Statue in a War Built on Lies

NOVANEWS

”The terror is over after 35 long years – therefore all those who demonstrated for peace were wrong”. The headline is from an article in the Swedish evening paper Expressen on April 10, 2003. It was the day after Baghdad had fallen to the hands of the military coalition led by US.

A similar euphoric mood was found in all major Swedish media portraying the events on April 9 2003, the day when the US troops entered the Iraqi capital. We saw pictures from Paradise Square in central Baghdad where alleged freedom yearning masses crushed the great statue of Saddam Hussein. We learned that the American soldiers were welcomed with flowers and cheek kisses.

The feeling given was that the war was over after only three weeks.

Fifteen years later, it is a surreal experience to scroll through the newspapers from the start of the war on March 20, 2003, and the following dramatic weeks. Certainly, there were depictions of civilian suffering and victims of war. But this was not the main subject.

Today it is obvious that the consistent reporting during these weeks served a higher purpose.

It was about giving legitimacy to a war launched in violation of the UN Charter. It was about weakening the strong anti-war movement that filled the streets around the globe for months. It was about convincing the widespread war-critical opinion in the western world that, despite all, the invasion would be a good thing.

Because when “Residents of Baghdad put flowers in the cannon pipes on Marine corps tanks”, as Swedish Expressen wrote in an extra edition on April 9, then the brothers-in-arms Bush and Blair must have done the right thing.

But the fall of the multi-million city of Baghdad was as much a hoax as the lies about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, that the United States and Britain used to motivate the war.

The masses at Paradise Square were in fact only a few hundred people. It is visible on the overview images from the Reuters news agency, which was later published. The square was also surrounded by American tanks and it was actually one of them that pulled over the statue.

I do not deny that the Iraqis at the square might have felt real joy regarding the fact that the oppressive regime of Saddam Hussein’s was gone. But the demolition of the statue was primarily a spectacle.

It was staged for the international journalists who suitably lived at Palestine Hotel just nearby Paradise Square.

The Iraqis, regardless of their views about Saddam Hussein and the Baath Party regime, were hardly excited about being bombed and invaded by foreign countries. It is a fact that the countries behind the invasion in 2003 were the same countries that, long before the war, were responsible for causing mass death and great suffering in Iraq.

A few months before the events at Paradise Square, I traveled around Iraq.

I visited the poor city of Basra in the south, where many children were traumatized by living throughout the threat of the American and British battle planes that everyday flew in the sky.

I went to Mosul in the north and met Yazidis, the minority that was exposed to vicious abuses when terror group ISIS later occupied the region.

I talked to doctors in hospitals in Baghdad who lacked both incubators and common drugs because Iraq was banned from importing them. Incubators, medicines, and even pencils were on the list of ”prohibited products”, as some Western countries in the UN Sanctions Committee on Iraq claimed that Iraq could use these products to manufacture weapons of mass destruction.

It was obvious that the when war broke out in 2003, the Iraqis were already a plagued and depressed people. And it was obvious that no matter of their views of the regime and its brutal oppression of political opposition, very few Iraqis wanted a new destructive war.

You can not liberate people and give them a better life by bombing, invading and occupying their country.

I talked to many Iraqis during my stay in Iraq. The interests behind the war were something everyone talked about.

“It’s the oil. If we were poor, no one would have wanted to attack us, no one would have bothered about Iraq”, as the pediatrician Murtada Hassan in Baghdad stated.

Carl Bildt, the coming Swedish minister of foreign affairs had another point of view. On January 28, 2003, he wrote an article in the International Herald Tribune which concluded:

“Removal of the Saddam Hussein regime is the only way peace can be achieved. The next few weeks should be the beginning of the end of decades of war for the peoples of Iraq and for the region.”

Fifteen years after the start of the war we know what happened. It was not the anti-war movement but all those who cheered loudly about the victory of freedom that was wrong. The truth is that the development in Iraq became even worse than anyone could imagine.

The war brought mass death, devastation, hunger, illiteracy, sectarian violence and the birth of the terrorist group ISIS, causing fatal consequences for millions of people both inside and outside Iraq’s borders.

The war brought torture to a rare extent. A couple of the Iraqis whom I met before the hell broke out were eventually seized by the occupying power and were placed in the infamous Abu Ghraib torture prison.

Bush and Blair and all others who backed the attack on Iraq have committed one of the worst war crimes in our time. It’s a shame that they are not convicted of their crimes.

And all mainstream media in Sweden – it was not only Expressen – played along by uncritically spreading the lies and propaganda that came from Washington and London. It is no wonder that the MSM today is quiet about what they reported fifteen years ago.

The events on April 9, 2003, at Paradise Square are important to remember. Not because some Iraqis destroyed a statue but because it symbolizes how the western powers shattered Iraq and laid the foundation for the chaos that still characterizes the Middle East.

Posted in IraqComments Off on 15 Years Since the Fall of Baghdad: A Broken Statue in a War Built on Lies

15 Years Ago, The Battle of Baghdad, April 2003: Killing the Independent Media, Killing the “Unembedded Truth”

NOVANEWS

How best to disarm the anti-war movement? Kill the independent media and convey the illusion that “the War is over”

This article was written 15 years ago in the immediate wake of the Battle of Baghdad, April 9, 2003.  Media propaganda played a crucial role. The media was “embedded” within the US Armed Forces. This was the basis of war propaganda. And it was tightly controlled.

Independent journalists who had not been officially approved by the US Armed Forces, namely those who were “unembedded” were targeted and killed.  

“Two prominent journalist were killed by US forces, they were deliberately targeted.  This was not an accident.  In fact, it was consistent with Pentagon “guidelines” regarding the independent “unembedded journalists”. 

Today, war propaganda has taken an even more dramatic turn in America’s wars and military interventions against a large number of countries including Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, Palestine, …

The struggle against America’s Global War is ongoing.

The text below has not been modified, updated or edited since its publication on April 11, 2003

Michel Chossudovsky, April 9, 2018

*     *     *

The tragic death of two journalists on the 8th of April bears a direct relationship to the timing of US military operations in Baghdad. The killings were an integral part of the Pentagon’s war plans.  They marked a turning point in the disinformation campaign.

On the 8th of April,  Al Jazeera and Reuters were deliberately targeted.  This was not an accident.  In fact, it was consistent with Pentagon “guidelines” regarding the independent “unembedded journalists”, who had been reporting since the beginning of the war under the “protection”  of the Iraqi Ministry of Information.

A week prior to the war, the Pentagon had intimated that it would target the transmission of information by independent  journalists, from their satellite mobile phones.  (Of course, that does not mean that  they would actually kill the journalists.) According to veteran BBC correspondent Kate Adie, in an interview with Irish TV, the Pentagon had:

 “threatened to fire on the satellite uplink positions of independent journalists. Uplinks is where you have your own satellite telephone method of distributing information, the telephones and the television signals. According to the Pentagon official they would be ‘targeted down… Who cares.. ..They’ve been warned’” (See transcript of interview with Katie Adie, Pentagon Threatens to Kill Independent Reporters in Iraq)

The underlying objective was to unseat the “unembedded media” and disrupt factual and objective reporting from the war theatre. The killing of the journalists was also a warning to media organizations from Asia and the Middle East, which were covering the war from Baghdad, without due accreditation of the US military.

With the entry of US troops into Baghdad, the independent journalists, who were  operating under the protection of the Iraqi Ministry of Information, were brought under the direct control of the US military. In turn, the approved USCENTCOM  “embedded journalists”, attached to various US and British divisions, were now reporting directly from Baghdad, overshadowing and silencing many of their independent “nonembedded” colleagues, who had been operating out of the Palestine Hotel.

This shift in jurisdiction over the independent journalists in Baghdad took place on the 8th of April, with the breakdown of the Ministry of Information and the killing of two independent journalists by US forces.

The Al-Jazeera correspondent Tariq Ayoub was killed when two US missiles struck Al Jazeera’s Baghdad offices:

 “The Al Jazeera cameraman was killed on the roof ‘getting ready for a live broadcast amid intensifying bombardment of the city when the building was hit by two missiles.’”

“Another journalist died and four others were also injured when a US tank round later hit the Palestine Hotel where at least 200 international correspondents, including Al-Jazeera reporters, are staying…”  (See Al Jazeera report, 8 April 2003)

“A Reuters reporter, photographer, television cameraman and television technician were taken to hospital after the blast. The extent of their injuries was not immediately clear.” (Reuters, 8 April 2003)

According to the Pentagon, “American soldiers who killed two foreign journalists in a Baghdad hotel had ‘exercised their inherent right to self-defence’. (quoted in the Advertiser, 10 April 2003).

The Pentagon’s objective was clear: foreclose independent reporting of the ongoing battle of Baghdad. How to achieve this objective:

-intimidate the un-embedded journalists and oblige them to seek approval and/or accreditation with the US military,

-exert direct censorship on the flow of information out of Baghdad.

Targeting “Unembedded” Humanitarian Organizations

Coincidence? On the same day, April 8th, a convoy of seven vehicles of the Red Cross (ICRC), involved in re-supplyng the city’s hospitals .was “caught in cross fire”. Thirteen people were killed including the ICRC delegate in Baghdad (who is a Canadian). The vehicles “were clearly marked with large red crosses visible from a distance.” (Health Newswire Consumer, 10 April 2003). The press reports suggest that the convoy had been deliberately targeted. The Red Cross was the last independent international aid agency operating in Baghdad. It suspended its operations that same day, April 8th.

The attack on the Red Cross, which had been working closely with Iraqi health officials and hospital staff, was also an important turning point. It laid the groundwork for bringing in the Pentagon’s approved (“embedded”) humanitarian organizations and aid agencies.

Saddam’s Statue: A Media Staged Event

The following day, 9th of April, broadcast live by network TV, the whole world had its eyes riveted on the collapse of Saddam’s 40 foot statue, portraying   “a jubilant crowd.”

A couple of hundred people at most, mainly by-standers gathered in Al-Fardus Square, while the statue was brought down by US Marines in a carefully staged media event.  An Aerial photograph of the event suggests that the square had been  “sealed off and guarded by tanks” (NYC Indymedia) . The Marines had draped an American flag over Saddam’s statue and forcefully pulled it down with a tug from a tank recovery vehicle. A hundred or so people, at most,  were shown on TV screens, rejoicing. (The Video is available online at Reuters. Photographs of the event are also available)

The “liberation footage” was replayed obsessively by network TV. “Iconic images” of the toppled statue were plastered on the front page of major newspapers. In chorus, the Western media portrayed this staged event as “historic”, as a spontaneous mass movement of “thousands” of “happy Iraqis”, celebrating the “Liberation of Iraq” by American troops.

Reuters first released the story on the 9th, following the Live TV newscast. The report said that  “dozens” of people were celebrating the collapse of the statue. Hours later, this story had already been changed. The AFP report also acknowledged that “dozens” of people were rejoicing:

“Tanks had rumbled by late afternoon into the central Al-Fardus (Paradise) Square, where dozens of Iraqis quickly set about the massive bronze statue of the Iraqi president, a symbol of his 24-year iron-fisted rule…. Dozens of Iraqis jumped on the fallen figure shouting with joy and venting their anger by breaking it into pieces.” (AFP, 9 April 2003)

Prime Minister Tony Blair’s mouthpiece, the London Daily Express, casually inflated the “dozens” to “thousands”:

“In historic scenes reminiscent of the fall of the Berlin Wall, thousands of civilians cheered as young men mounted the statue and tied a makeshift noose around Saddam’s neck.” (Daily Express, 10 April 2003)

Baghdad was not rejoicing. Since the outset of the war, several thousand civilians had been murdered and maimed by US and British troops. US occupation forces invoking the pretext of self-defense continue to shoot indiscriminately at civilians, as evidenced by several press reports. (See for instance ABC TV broadcast, 10 April 2003). Baghdad has a population of 5.6 million and most people, fearing for the lives, decided to stay home. With the entry of US troops, a reign of terror prevails in Baghdad.

Media Spin

The bringing down of the statue of Saddam played a crucial role in the Pentagon’s propaganda campaign. Relayed by Fox News and CNN,  it was immediately heralded by TV channels and news media around the World as marking an end to the war. While fighting was still ongoing, with heavy casualties on both sides, the Western media had decided in chorus: “It’s in the end game now,”

In turn, the toppling of Saddam’s statue had become a symbol of Iraq’s “Liberation” by US forces, overshadowing everything else, including the atrocities committed by US and British forces.

Since the entry of US troops into Baghdad, civilian casualties are no longer front-page news. The slaughter of women and children and the crisis in the hospitals, is no  longer an issue. The impending humanitarian crisis, reported by the relief agencies and the UN is no longer mentioned. Civilian deaths are view as “the price to pay” to “liberate Iraq”:

 “the number of Iraqi civilians accidentally killed has been far, far less than the number that would have been killed by Saddam Hussein’s evil regime in the normal scheme of things” (Daily Telegraph, Sydney, 8 April 2003)

. “I’m sure there will be more casualties, but it is one of the prices we have to pay” (Washington Post, 10 April 2003)

“‘one day’ the mothers of children killed or maimed by British cluster bombs will thank Britain for their use (British Defense Minister Geoffrey Hoon quoted in the Independent, 5 April 2003)

In turn, because “the war is nearly over”, detailed and accurate reporting from the war theatre is no longer deemed necessary.

Meanwhile, financial markets rejoice. Investors on Wall Street “applauded images of a statue of Saddam…[which] sent sent stocks surging…” (UPI, 9 April 2003).

This “liberation euphoria” also serves to disarm the critics and create divisions within the anti-war movement. A segment of the anti-war movement now views as “positive” the demise of the Iraqi regime, thereby tacitly signifying their approval of the US military intervention in support  of “regime change”.

“Peace”, “reconstruction”, “democracy” and “the post-Saddam era” are the buzz words.  The main justification for waging the war (i.e. Iraq’s alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction) is no longer deemed relevant. The fact that the invasion was a criminal act in blatant violation of the UN charter and the Nuremberg charter on war crimes is no longer an issue. (For further details see Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal and in the Judgment of the Tribunal. Adopted by the International Law Commission of the United Nations, 1950 ).

The Pentagon’s propaganda apparatus had taken over. The targeted killing of journalists in Baghdad marked a crucial turning point. Independent reporting out of Baghdad has been seriously impaired.

News media from Arab countries including Al Jazeera, which had been threatened for their “non-Western news perspective”, were towing the line. Since the attack on its office in Baghdad, Al Jazeera’s news reports seem to have taken on a different tone.

Virtually the entire news chain has become “embedded”.

The War is not over

How best to disarm the anti-war movement and silence the critics: Convey the illusion that the war is over.

But the war is not over.

Heavy fighting is ongoing. The evidence suggests that a significant part of the Iraqi arsenal and troops is still intact. (For further details see the report of Richard Bennett published on April 5, 2003) .  Thousands of Iraqi troops and armed civilians including volunteers from neighboring countries are confronting the invaders.

The Pentagon has acknowledged that it only controls part of the city.

The Battle of Baghdad is not over.  The struggle against US occupation has commenced.

Posted in IraqComments Off on 15 Years Ago, The Battle of Baghdad, April 2003: Killing the Independent Media, Killing the “Unembedded Truth”

Zionist Trump Threatens Putin and “Animal Assad” Over Syrian “Chemical Attack”

NOVANEWS

Trump Threatens Putin and “Animal Assad” Over Syrian “Chemical Attack”; Russia Warns of “Grave” Response If US Launches Strike

It’s deja vu all over again.

Remember when the US admitted Syrian “Rebels” have used chemical weaponsOr when earlier this year, now former Secretary of State blamed Russia for an alleged Syrian chemical attack despite admitting he doesn’t know who actually did it? Or when the US finally admitted there was “no evidence” Assad used sarin gas? Or just last week, when Trump said that the US is finally pulling out of Syria as a result of the defeat of ISIS  (much to the Pantagon’s fury and open-ended timetable for extracting Syrian resources)?

Well, maybe you do, but the neocons back in charge of US war preparations foreign policy – now that war hawk John Bolton is Trump’s National Security Advisor – are so stuck with the age-old narrative that Assad is desperate to be bombed at any cost, that none of this actually matters, and instead the big story overnight is once again that, lo and behold, Assad decided to gas some “rebels” again, despite now overwhelmingly winning the war against US-backed insurgents, and despite knowing very well that exactly one year ago an alleged “chemical attack” prompted Trump to launch dozens of Tomahawks at Syria.

This is what happened (if you’ve seen this script played out before, you are not alone).

On Saturday night, an alleged chemical attack on a rebel-held town in eastern Ghouta reportedly killed dozens of people, according to US-linked medical services with Washington immediately responding that the reports – if confirmed – would demand an immediate international response. Actually scratch the “if confirmed” part – after all, the last time the US “intervened” in Syria, on April 7, 2017, the US did not need confirmation; Trump just needed a geopolitical distraction.

It seems that he needs another one again, and ideally one that shows just how angry he is with Putin now that an interview with Mueller is reportedly imminent.

A joint statement by the medical relief organization Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) and the civil defense service, which operates in rebel-held areas, said 49 people had died in the attack late on Saturday. Others put the toll at 150 or more.

View image on Twitter

Tobias Schneider

@tobiaschneider

Horrific images out of besieged Douma tonight of a suspected Chlorine attack by the Assad regime. Medical services on the ground say 35 confirmed dead, treating more than 700 for exposure.

The response from the Assad side was similarly predictable: the Syrian regime, whose overthrow the US failed to achieve in the course of the 6 year proxy war in order to facilitate the transport of Qatari natural gas to Europe, denied its forces had launched any chemical attack as the reports began circulating and said the rebels were collapsing and fabricating news.

The Syrian state news agency SANA said Jaish al-Islam was making “chemical attack fabrications in an exposed and failed attempt to obstruct advances by the Syrian Arab army,” citing an official source.

Meanwhile, Reuters said it could not independently verify the reports. Others did the same: The Syrian Observatory said it could not confirm whether chemical weapons had been used in the attack on Saturday.

But, as we noted above, who needs confirmation: after all, if the 2013 “chemical attack” that started it all and was later proven to be a hoax was sufficient, just do the same. And sure enough, a video uploaded by “local media activists” allegedly showed bodies of victims – including women and children – of the reported chemical attack in Douma. Once again, nobody has actually confirmed if anyone has died.

Tobias Schneider

@tobiaschneider

Horrific images out of besieged Douma tonight of a suspected Chlorine attack by the Assad regime. Medical services on the ground say 35 confirmed dead, treating more than 700 for exposure. pic.twitter.com/OfveWyeg5D

Tobias Schneider

@tobiaschneider

Video uploaded by local media activists shows bodies of victims – women and children – of tonights reported chemical attack in Douma. Death toll keeps climbing. pic.twitter.com/ovDr4QfOje

Meanwhile, the US, itching for that military spending GDP boost was ready with the outraged retort: the U.S. State Department said reports of mass casualties from the attack were “horrifying” and would, if confirmed, “demand an immediate response by the international community”. At the same time, Britain’s Foreign Office also called the reports, if confirmed, “very concerning” and said “an urgent investigation is needed and the international community must respond. We call on the Assad regime and its backers, Russia and Iran, to stop the violence against innocent civilians.”

Note the “if confirmed” part, and keep an eye on how the narrative switches from that to “the attack was confirmed.” If the Skripal case is any indication, just repeating it often enough, should be sufficient.

Trump already did his part on Sunday morning, when he tweeted several statements on the alleged attack as if it was already confirmed, just as one would expect to accelerate the escalation:

Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay. Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price…

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

….to pay. Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!

Then, for good measure, Trump decided to throw Obama under the bus for not crossing his “red line in the sand”, once again assuming the attack was confirmed.

If President Obama had crossed his stated Red Line In The Sand, the Syrian disaster would have ended long ago! Animal Assad would have been history!

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

If President Obama had crossed his stated Red Line In The Sand, the Syrian disaster would have ended long ago! Animal Assad would have been history!

After the alleged attack, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert recalled a 2017 sarin gas attack in northwestern Syria that the West and the United Nations blamed on Assad’s government. “The Assad regime and its backers must be held accountable and any further attacks prevented immediately,” she said adding that “The United States calls on Russia to end this unmitigated support immediately and work with the international community to prevent further, barbaric chemical weapons attacks.”

The US also said yet again that Russia is “ultimately bearing responsibility” for all chemical incidents in Syria, regardless of who carried them out, after rebel sources accused Damascus of gassing dozens in Eastern Ghouta’s Douma.  In other words, even if the “chemical attack” was carried out by US-backed “rebels”, or better yet “ISIS”, it’s Putin’s fault.

“The regime’s history of using chemical weapons against its own people is not in dispute,” said the US State Department, indicating, however, that it was relying on “reports,” being unable to confirm the incident. “Russia ultimately bears responsibility for the brutal targeting of countless Syrians with chemical weapons.”

As for Russia, its Defense Ministry immediately denied and dismissed as false reports that the Syrian government had carried out a chemical attack in Eastern Ghouta’s Douma:

“We strongly refute this information,” Major General Yury Yevtushenko, head of the Reconciliation Center in Syria, said in a statement on Sunday. “We declare our readiness, after Douma is liberated from the militants, to immediately send Russian radiation, chemical and biological protection specialists to collect data that will confirm the fabricated nature of these allegations,” he stated.

Yevtushenko said that “a number of Western countries” are trying to prevent the resumption of an operation aimed at driving militants from the city of Douma.

“For this purpose, the use of chemical weapons by Syrian government forces – one of the most widespread claims in the West – is being used,” he added.

And, knowing where this is all headed, Russia’s Foreign Ministry says in statement on website that reports of chemical weapons attack in rebel-held town of Douma are fabricated, and any military operations against Syria on false pretenses may lead to “gravest consequences,”

Russia warns the US not to strike Syria after the chemical attack: “Military intervention under false & fabricated pretexts in Syria, where Russian servicemen stay at the request of the legitimate government, is absolutely unacceptable and may trigger the gravest consequences.”

The Russians added that

 “The goal of such reports is to aid terrorists and justify possible military strikes from outside Syria.”

Russia is correct, and it is now just a matter of time before Trump unveils his next grand diversion from the chaos at home and the trade war with China, by launching another 50 or so Tomahawks at some venue deep inside Syria, in a carbon copy repeat of what happened exactly one year ago

Posted in USA, Russia, SyriaComments Off on Zionist Trump Threatens Putin and “Animal Assad” Over Syrian “Chemical Attack”

Fake News: A “Weapon of Choice” for a Handful of Countries

NOVANEWS

It goes without saying that recently ‘fake news’ has become one of the most trending search phrases on the net. Moreover, representatives of Collins English Dictionary have gone as far as to name it official Word of the Year for 2017, and there’s a very good reasons for this term to enjoy such popularity. For instance, it was used by American President Donald Trump, who accused leading Western media sources of spreading deceitful reports by describing them as ‘fake news’.

The uncontested prevalence of such news could be observed during all the major political campaigns of recent years: presidential election in the US and France, parliamentary elections in Germany, Brexit and Catalan referendums… Perhaps there is no country in this world that escaped fake news as they are being manufactured and distributed via social media on the global scale, as there are whole “troll factories” and even all sorts of government bodies that justify their existence by claiming that they’re engaged in a “fight against disinformation”.

The Guardian experts tasked with analyzing disinformation campaigns in the online media came to a conclusion fake news is not just a Western problem, as it can be found in the media space of pretty much every corner of the world. In Brazil, for example, since early 2016, the popularity of false news reports has exceeded the coverage enjoyed by the mainstream media. This can be explained by the corruption scandal and the subsequent impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. According to the BBC, out of the five most popular (according to the number of reposts) news reports in Brazil, three were false. In India, the main distributor of false reports is the WhatsApp messenger, as The Guardian adds.

Fake news – an integral attribute of information wars, which, in turn, accompany real wars. One of their most striking manifestations in recent years has been the so-called fight against “Russian propaganda” in Europe, which has recently become an obsession in a number of European countries, reaching the European Parliament.

In the course of the information war that is being waged against Russia for years, Western and especially European media sources suddenly faced a situation when their readers would cease trusting their reports on the situation in Ukraine. This mistrust manifested itself in the so-called Salisbury incident staged by London and Washington as a part of its Russophobic campaign, as no facts were being presented to Western readers to support their anti-Russian arguments, so readers preferred to look the other way.

Therefore, the results of a social survey carried out by the Monmouth University, which showed that at least six out of ten Americans, regardless of their political views, believe that the Western mainstream media intentionally deceives by presenting fake reports can hardly be described as surprising.

In Europe, especially among the so-called new EU member states, the absence of any possibility to challenge the Russian narrative about the presence of unknown foreign-backed actors at the EuroMaidan protests or about the ongoing war crimes Kiev is committing in Donbass, politicians decided to label their attempts to silence truthful reports by branding them as a “fight against Russian propaganda”, restricting access to the information provided by Russia’s media sources and launching various anti-Russian media projects, while spreading disinformation in a bid to distract people’s attention.

As early as 2015, it became known that the EU created a special group to combat “Russian propaganda.” In the UK there is a new governmental agency being created that, according to London’s official rhetorics, will specialize in “countering misinformation and fake news.” According to BritishPrime Minister Teresa May, this agency will allow London to ensure the preservation of its national security priorities and will allow it to deter British opponents more systematically. According to Evening Standard, this body will be working under the supervision of the Cabinet of the United Kingdom, which has already shown its adherence to fake reports during the Salisbury incident.

Moreover, at the beginning of the year France’s President Emmanuel Macron announced a new legislative initiative to be transformed into a law aimed at countering fake news.

The issue of fake news and propaganda is now being supervised by the EU Parliamentary Commission, which has already demanded Facebook and Twitter to provide them reports on this matter.

Lately it’s become known that a special unit to counter “fake” information was created under the supervision of the European Parliament. The unit is tasked with the goal of preserving the reputation of the European Parliament and responding to false reports, which can be published by both foreign and local media sources. From 2018 to 2020, this team will be receiving 1.1 million euros annually.

However, there’s little doubt that when the heads of Western countries talk about fighting “fake news”, they, first of all, mean strict censorship of the information space. And the more often Western leaders pronounce the phrases “struggle for democracy”, “freedom of speech” and the fight against “fake news”, the more rigid a form of total surveillance we are going to encounter. And we clearly see today that the fight against the alternative narrative in a great many of Western countries starts to take truly Orwellian shapes.

Against this backdrop, a special attention must be paid to a report published under the title of the Final report of the High Level Expert Group on Fake News and Online Disinformation drafted by an independent group of expert on “fake news” and disinformation. The group, which is supervised by the European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel (Bulgaria) was established on behalf of the Chairman of the EC, Jean-Claude Juncker last January with the goal of providing advice to the European Commission members on the issue of “fake news.”

It was formed out of 39 various practitioners, including media representatives (RTL, Mediaset, SkyNews), IT experts (Facebook, Twitter, Google), the scientific community, along with various NGO representatives. The group was presented with a list of following tasks: identifying the phenomenon of misinformation, provide info on existing measures of combating it, proposing the creatia of choosing the tools for countering disinformation disseminated on the Internet, facilitating the development of a common EU strategy in this area, its key principles and goals for short and long terms.

According to Vice-President of the European Commission, François Timmermans, in an era when an unprecedented amount of information and false information is being published every day, it is especially important to “provide citizens with tools for identifying false news” and managing the information received.

A careful examination of the report prepared by the European Commission shows that the departure of the group of experts from the term “fake news” in favor of “misinformation” is an attempt to make the subject of its study less odious and more scientific in nature. According to the authors, they studied the best practices in this field. Apparently for this reason, the report does not mention the Strategic Communication Group East operating within the structure of the European foreign policy service, the main task of which is exclusively to draft false reports about “hybrid threats” and “all-powerful Russian propaganda.”

The report emphasizes that the basis for measures to combat disinformation should be the preservation of the absolute priority of freedom of speech and journalistic freedom in order to avoid any forms of censorship. The red line is the idea of the importance of minimum legal regulation while encouraging “horizontal” coordination of stakeholders. Putting high hopes on the consciousness of the latter, the commission emphasizes self-regulation. To do this, it is proposed to create a kind of “coalition” that would unite online platforms, media, journalists, legislators, civil society and other players.

One can only hope that this report of the European Commission will allow to unite the efforts of all countries to wage a real war against “fake news” and political disinformation, without strengthening of the ongoing censorship of the publications of alternative media sites that are trying to convey to the population of countries true information about the criminal activities of individual political figures and uncover lies in various mainstream publications.

Posted in MULTIMEDIA, MediaComments Off on Fake News: A “Weapon of Choice” for a Handful of Countries

Turkey Publishes the Whereabouts of Five Secret Military Bases in Syria that Belong to France

NOVANEWS

The Turkish Press Agency, Anadolu Agency, has published a map of five secret military bases in Syria belonging to France (see above part of the map pinpointing with the French flag four of these bases). One of these bases is the cement factory of the transnational group, Lafarge-Holcim, which is currently under a French judicial inquiry for financing terrorist groups.

The Agency specifically states that the first RPIMa (the Parachutist Regiment of the Navy’s Infantry) is deployed on Syrian soil. Furthermore, an additional 30 French soldiers are already in Raqqa and 70 at other sites in Syria.

Under international law, France’s military presence in Syria is illegal.

This publication of this information by the Turkish Agency constitutes a warning to France which has recently announced its support of the YPG, a Kurdish organization that is pro-US.

Posted in TurkeyComments Off on Turkey Publishes the Whereabouts of Five Secret Military Bases in Syria that Belong to France


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